Actions

Work Header

Not Your Fault

Chapter Text

     One

 

     The smell in the auction house was sickening.

     To any Beta, with their dulled sense of smell, it would smell like any old auction house. Unwashed bodies, dirt, and sweat, maybe. But the acrid smell of terrified Omega? No.

     Dean, being an Omega, could smell it.

     It was something he had learned to live with, as he constantly smelled like that too. Still, even after years of living in a constant haze of fear, the smell caused his inner Omega to whimper with the need to comfort his fellow ones.

     He couldn't, of course, when he was chained to a wooden block.

     He had been in this position for hours, and his knees were aching from kneeling for so long on the sawdust-covered floor. Every time he tried to shift his position, his chains tightened and he choked.

     So he was forced to kneel in an uncomfortable position for hours, his entire body throbbing with pain.

     Dean was still reeling from the events of the morning.

     He had woken up in his tiny cage at the foot of Alistair's bed, wincing in pain at the bruises from the beating he had received the night before. He'd gone downstairs to make Alistair breakfast, and had made it an all of four minutes before he'd gotten dizzy and staggered into the counter. He'd dropped a plate and the noise had woken Alistair.

     The beating he'd received had been the worst in years.

     After kicking Dean unconscious, Alistair had contacted his buddy Crowley, who had come and dragged Dean away to an auction.

     Dean had woken in the back of a truck. He'd asked the guards where he was, and after smacking him for talking to an Alpha and Beta without permission, they had explained that he was going to be sold.

     Even though he hated Alistair, the rejection still hurt. Alistair had been Dean's Alpha for four years. To be kicked to the curb right now made his inner Omega want to curl in a ball and cry.

     Dean tensed as an Alpha wandered over. The Alpha stopped in front of him for a moment, spotted the blooming bruises and barely-congealed blood on his back, and moved on. The scars and marks on Dean's body marked him as a disobedient Omega, a bad slave.

     That was the one thing Alistair had done for Dean that had been good. With the spontaneous beatings and punishments, Dean's body had accumulated many scars. This made him less desirable to Alphas looking for a pleasure slave or a house slave. It made him less desirable to any Alpha.

     Ugly Omega.

     It didn't matter. It wasn't like Dean knew how to do things like that anyway.

     Useless Omega.

     He shifted, tears springing to his eyes as the chains around his wrists tightened. Alistair had broken his left one, and the guards hadn't set it back. It had swollen to twice the size of his right, and the shackles were hell on the bruised skin.

     Pathetic Omega.

     Dean ducked his head as another Alpha came past. This one didn't even glance his way, instead heading purposefully for the other end of the auction house. Not many Alphas liked this section anyway.

     Used.

     Dean was a "used" Omega, a piece of trash that some other Alpha had used and thrown away. Other Alphas didn't want him. 

     A mated pair walked past, and Dean briefly wondered what the hell they were in an Omega auction house for. The smell of happy Alpha and Omega tore at his heart.

    When Omegas turned sixteen, most were married off. But if you committed any crime at all while unmated, you were picked up by government officials and sent off to an auction. Dean hadn't made it three minutes in his first auction before Alistair had pounced on him.

     Four years of pain and fear later, Dean was back in an auction house.

     Dean wondered where Sam and his father were. He wondered if he'd recognize them if he saw them, and if they would recognize him. Four years had been hell to him. He had many new scars, and his once fiery, sarcastic attitude had  long been beaten out of him.

     He tensed as an Alpha walked past him. Following the man like a phantom wind was a scent that made Dean's knees weak. A smell like the desert right before a thunderstorm, and something underlying it. Something sweeter, like. . . honey? Yes, honey and thunderstorms.

     Dean's inner Omega protested loudly as the Alpha moved away. Without thinking, Dean uttered a low, sad whine.

     The Alpha stopped. Dean froze.

     What was I thinking What was I thinking What was I thinking-

     The Alpha that smelled like honey and thunderstorms retraced his steps and stopped in front of Dean, no doubt looking over his many wounds.

     "Troublemaker, are you?" murmured a deep voice.

     Dean flinched.

     The Alpha in front of him chuckled and squatted down, narrowing striking blue eyes at Dean's filthy, bruised face.

     "Pretty, I think, once all the dirt is removed," the Alpha mused to himself. Rational Dean hated this Alpha. Omega Dean preened at the compliment this powerful Alpha had given him.

     "I need a house slave, Omega," the Alpha said, knowing Dean wouldn't answer. "I need someone who can cook and clean and be a good little bitch without complaining. Can you do that?"

     Dean's eyes flicked up once to the Alpha's, then dropped back to the sawdust covered floor with a flinch.

     A sharp slap snapped Dean's head to the side.

     "Answer me, Omega," the Alpha growled.

     "Yes, sir. I can do those things, sir," Dean said quietly, his cheek throbbing. He couldn't speak very loudly, as he'd blown his voice out begging for mercy this morning.

     The Alpha frowned and glanced at the price tag attached to Dean's collar.

     "Why so cheap, hmm?" he mused, his fingers brushing lightly against Dean's neck as he released the price tag. The contact sent tingles of pleasure down Dean's spine. He hated to admit it, but he had sometimes deliberately messed up at Alistair's, if only because punches meant touching, and his inner Omega craved physical contact.

     The Alpha stood and walked away, as if he'd just decided that Dean wasn't worth it. Dean's inner Omega whined at the loss of the Alpha.

     Dean tipped his head up slightly, watching the Alpha walk deeper into the warehouse. He exuded power and confidence, his scent and stance screamed Alpha. Several Omegas looked up as he passed, and Dean was surprised to feel a tightening in his gut that seemed something like jealou-No. Not jealousy. Just. . . fear? Dean had no idea.

     Besides, it didn't matter. The Alpha was gone.

     Why did he leave? Am I really that repulsive? Why wasn't I good enough?

     Dean sagged slightly, whining softly as his chains tightened. His body was aching, and his muscles were cramping with pain. If he could just be released, just for a second. . . 

     With a start, Dean realized there were footsteps coming toward him. He flicked his eyes up and was surprised to see that the blue-eyed Alpha from before was coming back with one of the auction-house workers.

     Am I being bought? I thought he didn't want me.

     Dean stayed completely still as the two Alphas stopped in front of him.

     "That one? Really?" the auction worker finally asked.

     "Can you give me more details on him?" the Alpha asked.

     The auction worker scratched his head. "Well, it was kept by a friend of Mr. Crowley's for four years. Then the guy got tired of it, you know how those things can get, and he sent it back here. We've had it for a half a day now."

     "Did you have to discipline him, or were those there before?" the Alpha asked.     

     "Well, we haven't had to discipline it any more than the usual warnings, but the Alpha Mr. Crowley worked with said it was real disobedient," the worker said.

     Dean's ears burned. He was overcome with the urge to shout at the two Alphas, to explain to them that Alistair had gotten his entertainment out of beating Dean the way normal people watched a good football game. 

     He said nothing, only shrank into himself a little more.

     The thunder and honey-smelling Alpha knelt down in front of Dean. The auction worker shuffled his feet.

     "His age?" the Alpha asked.

     "Well, it's around twenty," the worker replied. "Picked up at sixteen for stealing from a store."

     The Alpha hummed contemplatively and reached out. Dean flinched as the Alpha's fingers gently grabbed his chin and tilted his face up. Dean's eyes settled on the Alpha's perfect white teeth, his body beginning to shake with fear.

     Still, the touch felt nice. The Alpha's hands were warm, and his fingers were gentle. Dean didn't dare lean into the touch, but he did enjoy it.

     "Such pretty eyes," the Alpha mused. Dean's inner Omega purred with satisfaction. He stayed stock-still, knowing he was one slight movement away from getting the shit kicked out of him. He wasn't sure his body could handle another beating.

     "Mr. Novak, sir, surely there's another Omega that would be more suited for an angel of your stature," the worker said from behind the Alpha. Dean started a little.

     An angel? That was why this guy smelled like a thunderstorm about to break. He must have sent his wings away to another plane of existence or something. It explained why he seemed to have an aura of power surrounding him.

     Dean shrank even farther into himself.

     The Alpha's grip tightened only slightly. He stood, releasing Dean's face, and the Omega whined internally at the loss of contact.

     "I want him," the angel said.

     "Sir-"

     "This one."

     The worker, a human Alpha, nodded and quickly set about unlocking Dean's chains. No human in their right mind would ignore an order from an angel like that, especially from an Alpha.     

     Soon, Dean's chains were unlocked. Without the constant pressure of the shackles on the wood block, the Omega nearly fell forward onto the floor. The worker kicked him.

     "Get up."

     Dean placed a shaky hand on the ground, cradling his broken wrist to his chest. He made to push himself up, but his legs were too weak.

     The worker growled. "Get up."

     Dean flinched and tried again, this time making it halfway to his feet before his knees gave out.

     The Alpha angel stepped toward him and Dean flinched, expecting a kick.

     Instead, the Alpha reached down and grabbed Dean by the forearms, a motion that shocked the Omega badly. He was hauled to his feet, his cracked ribs barking in protest. The Alpha's hands remained on the Omega's arms for a few blissful seconds, making sure he could stand. Then the angel stepped away.

     "Move it, slave," the worker growled, kicking at Dean's leg. The Omega staggered forward, cramped muscles twitching in protest, jaw set against the pain.

     They walked through the warehouse, Dean's shackles clinking as they went. They got to a block where other Omegas were being bought.

     Half of the Alphas stepped away at the sight of the angel. Dean wondered how he hadn't noticed how the crowd parted before.

     Angels, while not uncommon, rarely showed their faces in towns such as Lawrence, Kansas, which was where the auction was being held. To see one, and an Alpha at that, walking around an Omega slave auction was a novelty.

     The angel paid for Dean, putting a pitiful amount of money in the auctioneer's hand. Then he accepted the chain from the auction worker and tugged lightly on it.

     Dean followed the Alpha obediently, head down, walking as fast as he could possibly go in his weakened state to keep up with the angel.

     The Alpha turned to Dean. "If you run, I'll kill you," he promised.

     Dean didn't doubt it.

     They walked out of the warehouse and into the open lot out front. When Dean had been hauled into the warehouse, the sun had been high in the sky, but when Dean emerged from the dimness of the warehouse, he was blinded by massive floodlights. The sky was dark, clouds obscuring the stars and the moon.

     The Alpha turned to Dean.

     "Choosing you as my slave isn't a task I take lightly. I can see your soul, and what I find there pleases me. But I still have yet to place my trust in you. Know that I am a benevolent master, but I can make you wish you were never born," the angel said calmly.

     Been there, done that.

     "Yes, Master," Dean rasped quietly. He realized with a flash of horror that he hadn't been permitted to talk and flinched, waiting for a blow.

     The angel merely gazed at him coolly and said. "I would prefer if you called me sir."

     "Yes M-sir," Dean stuttered, his hoarse voice grating even to his own ears.

     "Good," the Alpha angel said. He glanced back at the auction house, prompting Dean to do so as well. 

     Dean got a brief glimpse of the filthy metal walls, the crumbling wooden shingles, and the dirty, cracked windows. Then the angel was telling him to brace himself.

     Before Dean knew it, the Alpha had gripped his arm tightly and, with a whoosh of great wings, the world was whirling away beneath them, sweeping Dean and the angel into the eternal darkness.

Chapter Text

     Two

 

     The earth became solid underneath Castiel's feet. He inhaled deeply, the smell of the wind off the lake stinging his nose slightly. A cool wind ruffled his hair.

     There was a thump and a hacking noise. Castiel sighed and looked down.

     The frail, sickly Omega was bent down in the grass, dry-heaving whatever little water had been in his stomach. The action caused the wounds on his back to pull, and blood began to dribble down his skin. Castiel frowned at that.

     He stepped forward and the Omega instantly tensed, curling into a frightened ball and beginning to shake. The smell of terrified Omega had Castiel's inner Alpha roaring at him to fix it.

     He shoved that side down.

     "The first few flights can cause nausea, especially to those who have never done it before," he said calmly. "Can you stand?"

     The Omega uncurled, still looking like he expected to be hit, and nodded.

     "Yes, sir."

     His voice was soft and raspy, hoarse from screaming. Castiel hated the thought of anyone hurting this Omega so much his voice sounded like that.

     "Come, then. The house is this way," Castiel said.

     He set off along the cobbled path to the front of his house.

     As he walked, Castiel wondered for the thousandth time what he was doing, exactly. The morning had started off normally, but by midday he'd felt a pulling in his gut. Something, some hand of his Father, had been urging him to go to Lawrence, Kansas. He'd wandered around the town for a few hours before finally coming upon the auction house.

     He remembered his thinking.

     What? Here? Really? Why here? Why now?

     He'd gone in anyway, a little voice in his head whispering for him to enter. And there he'd found one of the most beautiful Omegas he had ever seen.

     But why? Why him?

     Castiel did need some help around the house. A lot, actually. He spent all day training garrison soldiers and didn't have a lot of time to maintain it. But he had a feeling he hadn't been urged to go into that warehouse to get a house slave.

     Resigning himself to waiting and seeing what the future brought, Castiel stopped at the front steps. Not hearing anything, he turned around, expecting to find the Omega still kneeling down the path.

     He was coming to a stop behind Castiel, his feet soft and silent, his gait pained and limping. Castiel stared at him for a moment, amazed at the silence of his footsteps. 

     Then he turned and headed up the front stairs, not even waiting to see if the Omega was following him.

     He opened the door and walked into the house. At the threshold, the Omega paused, as if wondering what he should do.

     "Come in," Castiel said patiently. He waited for the Omega to close the door softly behind him, then stepped forward.

     Now that they were standing practically face to face, Castiel could see that the Omega, while a few inches shorter than him, would probably be fairly muscular and tall if given the right amount of nutrition. As it was, his skin was pale and bruised, slashed open and even burned in some places. His ribs showed, and his too-skinny shoulders were shaking with fear. Those beautiful green eyes were downcast.

     Castiel took a tentative sniff, scenting the Omega, searching underneath layers of fear and pain.

     What he found made his heart stutter to a stop.

     "Come with me," Castiel said, his voice a good deal colder.

     Dean curled his shoulders inward slightly, almost imperceptibly. Castiel turned on his heel and led the Omega through the spacious house and into the backyard.

     Here, he paused.

     He had two options. Neither of them he liked.

     One, he could keep the Omega out here and hose him down in the morning. It was quite late.

     Or two, he could take him inside and give him a warm bubble bath, then let him curl up in the nest with him.

     No.

     Castiel shook his head slightly to clear it and turned to the Omega.

     "You'll sleep out here," he said.

     He grabbed the chain and looped it around the metal railing that enclosed the back deck. The Omega, following the short chain to the ground, whined softly as his abused knees hit the cold cement of the pathway.

     Nonononononono this isn't right, isn't right, isn't right, isn-

     SHUT UP!

     While silencing his own internal thoughts with a bang, Castiel accidentally jerked the chain too hard. The Omega made a soft, pained noise in the back of his throat, causing Castiel to feel horribly guilty.

     "I'll unchain you in the morning," Castiel promised, trying and failing to ease the guilt in his chest.

     "Yes, Master," the Omega whispered.

     Castiel got up and practically ran back to the house, expecting to feel better when he crossed the threshold. Instead, he felt instantly more guilty as a wave of heat hit his face. It was freezing outside, and the Omega had no clothes except thin, filthy cotton pants.

     Leave it.

     Castiel shook his head again, remembering what his mother had taught him about Omegas, especially human Omegas, and how they should be treated.

     Like dogs. And worse, Castiel, because unlike dogs, human Omegas know rebellion and have their own thoughts. Make sure you assert your dominance so you may never experience these things in your own slave.

     Castiel nodded. He was doing the right thing.

     He headed up the stairs and got ready for bed.

 

Chapter Text

     Three

     

     Dean shivered violently, curled into a tight little ball as far under the slight overhang of the house as he could get. Snow had started to fall during the night, and the wind off the nearby lake was vicious. He had lost feeling in his fingers and toes hours ago.

     At least the pain had numbed slightly. Dean was grateful to his new angel master that his wrists hadn't been chained. The broken left one was throbbing slightly, really the only thing Dean could feel right now.

     He didn't get any sleep that night, try as he might. It was too cold. By the time dawn broke over the lake, staining the underside of the clouds pink for a brief second, Dean was almost frozen solid. Worse, he was so exhausted from shivering all night that he wasn't sure he could even stand, let alone do the chores the angel had surely bought him for.

     Dean was roused from a half-awake daze as the door opened. The angel cursed loudly in a different language, something Dean was pretty sure was Enochian.

     He whimpered involuntarily as the angel plodded through the light layering of snow toward him.

     The Alpha was wearing a soft sleep shirt and some pants, his black hair ruffled adorably. His beautiful blue eyes were awake, however, and they looked pained.

     "I'm sorry, Omega," the Alpha breathed, kneeling beside Dean. "How could I be so stupid? It was freezing last night, I should have known it would snow. . . "

     He unchained Dean's collar, letting the metal shackle fall back to the ground. Dean was anticipating the painful process of getting up when the Alpha slipped his arms underneath him and lifted.

     Dean nearly shouted in surprise.

     The Alpha lifted Dean easily, cradling him to his chest. His arms were warm and solid beneath the Omega, and the scent of Alpha calmed him.

     The angel began to walk back to the house, opening the door with ease, even though he still had Dean in his arms. The blast of warmth from the inside of the house made Dean shiver with delight. The Alpha closed the door behind them, shutting out the snow that was quickly growing into a winter storm.

     Once inside, the Alpha looked down at Dean. He seemed to be mad at himself and he placed Dean none too gently on the floor.

     As fast as his aching body would allow, Dean got up and knelt on his bruised knees for his Master, waiting for an order or a punishment.

     "You're filthy," the Alpha remarked. Dean flushed, wanting to say it wasn't his fault, but staying silent.

     He wondered if he should have said anything. He didn't think so, but he didn't want to risk a beating. Maybe-

     "I think I'll give you a shower," the Alpha said again, as if he was talking to himself. Dean tensed. A shower? Showers at Alistair's had either meant rough sex or punishment. 

     He started to shake, his breath coming in soft, panicked gasps.

     The angel didn't seem to notice. That, or he didn't care.

     He began to walk. "Follow me. I'll show you to a bathroom where we can clean you up."

     Dean got to his feet, staggering slightly. He hadn't eaten in days, and the last water he'd had was yesterday. His head was spinning.

     He followed the Alpha obediently up the stairs, clutching the railing to keep from falling backward.

     The angel stopped in a bathroom, waiting for Dean to follow him into it. The Omega glanced furtively around when he thought the Alpha wasn't looking, taking in the spacious room, the beautiful tiles, and the enormous bathtub and shower.

     "You can wash up in here. The shampoo and other stuff is for you," the angel said. "Take as many towels as you want. I'll leave some clothes in here for you."

     Dean swallowed, fighting past his dry throat. "Yes, sir."

     The Alpha frowned at him for a moment. 

     Dean tensed, waiting for a blow. 

     Instead, the angel spoke, "I'll make you a deal, Omega."

     Suspicion and fear ran rampant in Dean's veins, but he managed to sound calm as he said, "Yes, sir?"

     "I'll tell you my name if you tell me yours."

     Dean froze, wondering what sort of deal this was and what the catch could be.

     When he came up with no repercussions, he swallowed and replied, "D-Dean, sir. Dean Winchester."

     The Alpha nodded, pleased. "Good. I'm Castiel Novak."

     The small amount of praise made Dean's ears burn. He didn't know quite what to say after the exchange. Luckily, Castiel moved past him.

     "I'll be in the master bedroom at the end of the hall if you need me."

     With that, he was gone.

     Dean turned back to the shower and bath, suddenly very afraid. What if he messed up? What if he did something wrong? What if Castiel got angry with him?

     Glancing out the window and seeing that the snow was still going at full blast, Dean hurriedly pulled his pants down and stepped into the shower, grabbing the wall to steady himself. He had no intention of being thrown into the cold as punishment again.

     He turned the water on cold, even though his teeth were still chattering from being outside. He didn't want to get in trouble for using hot water.

     Dean took a fast shower, scrubbing hard at his skin to get all the dirt off. If Mas-Castiel didn't want him to be filthy when he fucked him, then he wouldn't be. 

     Dean hissed as some of his bruises and cuts made their presence known, the soap stinging like hell. He rinsed it off in the freezing water, turning it off when he was finished.

     Dean stepped out and used the smallest towel he could find, drying himself quickly. He found that Castiel had indeed put out clothes. A close-fitting white shirt and black sweatpants, along with some boxers.

     Dean found himself wondering how the angel knew it would all fit.

     When he was finished with everything, he opened the door and poked his head out, wondering what he should do now.

     Castiel had said he would be in the master bedroom. But was Dean supposed to go in there? Did Castiel expect him to make breakfast? To stay in the bathroom?

     He decided that asking and being punished was better than sitting around and doing nothing. He padded down the hallway on silent feet, coming to a stop outside Castiel's door.

     With a soft breath to steady himself, Dean stepped forward and pushed the cracked door slightly open, peeking inside.

     His heart stopped.

     The angel was standing in the middle of the bedroom. His shirt was off, and sprouting from his back were. . .

     Wings. Great black wings, their gleaming surfaces reflecting a faint rainbow of light.

     In awe, Dean stepped into the room, amazed at the power and grace of the wings as they stretched and folded. They were the most beautiful things he had ever seen, and he had the sudden, ridiculous urge to wrap himself up in them and purr happily.

     He stepped forward, his rational brain taken over by the Omega need to feel the feathers. 

     His hand brushed one of the wings as it outstretched.

     There was a whoosh. Fire flashed across Dean's cheek and he fell back on the ground with a cry, realizing with a flash of horror what he had done.

     He had touched Master Castiel. On the wings. Without permission.

     Dean skidded across the hardwood floor of the bedroom and thumped into the wall, his injuries flaring up. The entire right side of his face felt like it was on fire, and he was sure he was bleeding again from the lashes on his back.

     Dean looked up, vision tinted red by pain, and felt a jolt of horror go through him.

     Master Castiel had turned to him, and he looked livid.

     It was all Dean could do to curl in a protective ball and wait to be beaten to death.

     God, what have I done?

Chapter Text

     Four

 

     Castiel had been stretching his wings when he'd felt the hand on the tips.

     It had startled him so badly his wings had lashed out, primal instincts flaring up and causing them to act as if they had minds of their own.

     Castiel had turned, ready to smite whoever had dared touch his wings.

     Then he had seen the Omega on the floor, curled in a tight little ball, shaking like a leaf.

     And he'd understood.

     Of course. The poor thing had probably never seen angel wings before, and given the circumstances of their connection. . .

     He probably couldn't have helped himself.

     Castiel softened, his wings dropping from ready-to-fight to neutral.

     He approached the Omega, frowning at the red stain beginning to spread on the white shirt.

     "Omega? Dean?" Castiel asked. "It. . . It's alright. I won't hurt you. I'm sorry, that's just a reaction my wings and I have."

     'I'm sorry?' Why are you apologizing to a lowly human Omega? Naomi's voice screamed in Castiel's head. Beat him for touching you without permission! Discipline, Castiel! Discipline!

     Castiel winced and shut his mother's voice out of his head.

     "Dean? Please look at me," he requested, his wings dropping to his sides and brushing the floor as he crouched down beside the shaking Omega.

     As he knelt, Castiel heard a litany of mumbled words leaving the Omega's mouth.

     "Please, no, I'm sorry I'll never do it again, please, I'm sorry, please don't kill me I'm sorry, please, please, pl-"

     Castiel reached out and placed a gentle hand on Dean's shoulder.

     The Omega jerked and whimpered quietly.

     Castiel kept his hand on the shoulder, waiting for Dean to calm down. He struggled to make his scent calming instead of worried and guilty, trying to soothe the Omega.

     It was hard, however, with his inner Alpha roaring at him to find whatever had hurt this Omega and slaughter it, and with the scent of blood that was beginning to permeate the air.

     "Please, Dean, calm down. I won't hurt you," Castiel promised.

     You will! You should! He's pathetic! He shouldn't be allowed to breathe the same air as you, let alone touch yo-

     Shut up!

     Castiel gritted his teeth, trying to fight against the nasally voice of his mother in his mind. He didn't even know why he was hearing her in his subconscious. He hated his mother.

     Dean slowly uncurled from his ball and knelt on the floor in front of Castiel, his head down and his neck bared.

     "I'm s-sorry, Master. P-Please, I d-d-didn't mean t-to," he whispered.

     Castiel sighed and placed a gentle hand under the boy's chin, tilting it up softly. 

     He looked the terrified Omega in the eyes and frowned at the fear and pain he found there. "I understand, Dean. Don't be afraid, I won't hurt you," he said. He frowned even more deeply as his eyes found the already-bruising side of Dean's face where his wing had smacked the boy. He sighed. "I'm sorry. That was an instinctual action, nothing more. It won't happen again."     

     Dean had broken eye contact and was looking at just below Castiel's eyes again. "Yes, sir."

     Castiel inhaled, the smell of blood and terrified Omega reaching his nose. He practically recoiled.

     "You're bleeding."

     "Not a lot, sir."

     Castiel sighed and released the boy's chin, standing. "Stay here. I'll be right back. I have to get the First Aid Kit."

     He left the bedroom, wondering if the Omega would try to climb out the bedroom window and escape.

     Castiel hurriedly gathered some First Aid Kit supplies and the actual box itself before heading back up to the master bedroom. He was surprised to find Dean in the exact same place he'd left him, albeit sagged exhaustedly against the wall.

     When Castiel entered the room, the Omega sat up straight and tried to look alert, even though his gaze was out of focus and he swayed where he sat.

     Castiel sat down beside him and opened the box.

     "Remove your shirt, please," he ordered. Dean pulled the shirt off with some difficulty. In the bright light of the bedroom, Castiel could see he was shaking and painfully thin, covered in bruises and cuts.

     He instructed the Omega to turn around. When he had, Castiel fought down a surprisingly powerful surge of anger.

     The lashes running across the Omega's back were thick and deep. The skin at the edges had torn slightly, and some of them were puffy and swollen with infection.

     Castiel pulled out antibiotic cream and went to work.

     Time passed quietly, Dean's breathing still quick and scared, but not panicked. His heart was beating wildly beneath Castiel's hands, but he stayed completely still and didn't complain as Castiel cleaned, stitched, bandaged, and drained his wounds.

     When they got to the Omega's wrist, he hesitated before extending the injured arm to Castiel.

     "It's alright," Castiel assured quietly.

     Dean extended the arm, murmuring an apology. Castiel hushed him before he could go too far. He set the wrist, put it in a cast, and gave Dean a sling.

     With the Omega clean and bandaged, Castiel sat back, his inner Alpha happy but not content. It was satisfied that he had taken care of hi-the Omega, but it wanted more.

     To be precise, Castiel's Alpha was demanding that he wrap his wings around the still-shaking Omega and cuddle him in thei-the nest.

     Castiel refrained from doing so, instead putting the supplies away. He came back upstairs with a glass of water and a few antibiotic pills.

     "Drink this. These will help keep you from getting sick," Castiel said, handing them to Dean. The Omega drank the water gratefully, swallowing it in a few gulps. The pills were gone soon too.

     Realizing he couldn't very well kick the Omega outside again, Castiel dragged a bunch of pillows and blankets up from different rooms in the house and placed them next to his nest. After he'd gotten all the pillows and blankets he could manage, Castiel threw them down.

     He turned to Dean, who was watching him with wide eyes.

     Castiel stopped, realizing he should probably explain himself.

     "You won't be able to work if you're injured or tired," Castiel said, sounding almost apologetic to his own ears. "I figured if I treat you right, maybe we could be. . . friends."

     As soon as he said it, he regretted it. What was he thinking? Friends? This Omega was his slave!

     He isn't just your slave.

     Castiel shut his thoughts down quickly.

     "Am I. . . Should I-should I sleep there, sir?" Dean asked softly. His voice was returning, Castiel was happy to hear.

     "Yes. Arrange it how you like. I know. . . I know Omegas like to nest," Castiel replied, feeling awkward.

     "When they feel safe, yes, sir," Dean said quietly.

     Castiel stared at the Omega, dumbfounded for a second.

     Had that been. . . sass? No, not sass. But definitely a break from the obedient, terrified slave.

     Castiel frowned contemplatively at Dean. He was surprised to find that he actually liked that side of him.

     He was interested to see more of it.

Chapter Text

 

     Five

 

     It was only when Castiel left the room after ordering Dean to arrange the pillows and blankets that the Omega really moved.

     He hadn't meant to talk back to the angel, but he was sure the Alpha hadn't noticed.

     Maybe.

     Either way, Dean hadn't been punished, so the Omega crawled over to the mound of pillows and blankets and began arranging them. 

     The alcove the angel slept in was near the corner of the room, tucked next to a bookshelf filled with books and glass knickknacks. It was a deep pocket in the wall, leaving a spacious divot that was roughly the size of a king bed. Inside the nest, blankets and pillows were arranged in a comfortable-looking array. The alcove was just tall enough for someone Dean's height to stand up in, and there were little nooks in the walls to place a book or a reading lamp.

     Dean made his bed in the corner beside the alcove, knowing Castiel would want him near so he could keep an eye on him.

     Besides, the corner felt safest. Dean liked having two walls around him. It almost felt like a hug, if he crammed himself far enough into the corner.

     He arranged the pillows and blankets into a comfortable nest of sorts and sat in the middle, wondering what he was meant to do now.

     The question was answered by the Alpha entering the room a few minutes later.

     "I'll give you a tour of the house, just so you know what you're dealing with, and then I'll make dinner," Castiel said. He waited for Dean to pull himself into a standing position, then led the way out of the room.

     As they toured the decidedly large house, Dean made mental notes. The two chimneys would need to be swept, and the carpets and floors needed to be vacuumed and polished. The kitchen was large, something Dean liked as he enjoyed cooking, and the small nook in the corner was meant for Castiel when he didn't have guests, which he admitted to not having often.

     When they'd finally gotten to the end, Castiel led the way back to the kitchen and ordered Dean to sit down at the little barstool.

     He watched intently as the Alpha moved around the kitchen, noting where the different plates and silverware were kept and what food was where. 

     Dean was so intent on remembering that Castiel had messed up once and put the salt in the 'P' shaker and the pepper in the 'S' shaker that he nearly missed the plate of food the angel had placed in front of him.

     "Thank you, sir," he said, staring down at the food.

     A grilled cheese sandwich, carrots, a salad, and a cup of Jell-O sat before the Omega. It was the most food he'd eaten in one sitting since he was sixteen years old and hadn't yet presented.

     "You aren't allergic to anything, are you?" Castiel asked. He almost sounded worried, which would have been adorable if he hadn't locked Dean outside all night and given him a flaming bruise with his wing.

     "I'm not, sir," Dean said quietly.

     "Good," Castiel said, sounding relieved. He began to eat standing up in the kitchen, facing Dean. The Omega, suddenly struck by how. . . domestic the whole situation was, flushed bright red.

     "Sir?" he asked as they started to slow down eating.

     "Yes?"

     "Where are my boundaries in the house?"

     Castiel frowned at Dean. "You can go anywhere at any time, Dean. If you go outside, just tell me, alright?"

     Dean stared at his remaining carrots, amazed. He could go anywhere? At any time? Even. . . outside?

     Alistair had barely let him out of the bedroom, save for doing chores and making meals. And outside had been a faraway concept. Castiel was showing him a considerable kindness by allowing him in all of these places of his own free will.

     Unless, of course, it was a trick.

     Dean shuddered to think of the beatings Castiel could dish out. Unlike Alistair, he was powerfully built, and those wings looked like they could cause a lot of pain if they wanted to. They were currently folded neatly behind Castiel's back, fluttering every so often when the angel shifted.

     They were beautiful. Dean, despite having a now-swelling eye because of one, was still amazed at how powerful and graceful they looked. Their feathers gleamed in the bright kitchen lights, and the inky darkness of them seemed like portals to other worlds.

     Once again, Dean wondered what it would be like to be wrapped up in them. Feathery, of course, and probably soft. The faint brush of contact he'd gotten earlier had shown him that angel wings were softer than silk.

     Maybe he could ascertain that if he just reached out-

     No! No, stop, stop, stop! He'll hurt you, he'll take away the food, he'll hurt you, he'll keep you outside again-

     "Dean?"

     Dean snapped out of his panicked trance, eyes flicking to Castiel's without meaning to. Once their gazes locked, Dean couldn't pull away, despite all of the warnings blaring in his head, screaming that Omega slaves shouldn't look their Alpha Masters in the eye.

     Castiel, however, didn't seem fazed by it. His intense blue eyes were like oceans to drown in. Dean swallowed thickly.

     "Dean?" The angel's rough, gravelly voice was gentle, going straight to the Omega inside of Dean and soothing it. 

     "Yes, sir?" he asked quietly.

     "I want you to know that I'm very sorry for hurting you earlier. My wings-" He broke off, looking angry at himself. For a moment, the angel seemed to be having some internal conflict. Then he sighed, his wings sagging slightly. "My wings sometimes have instincts of their own to protect me, and I have yet to be used to another being in my house."

     Dean finally broke eye contact, looking down at the tiled floor, ashamed.

     "I'm sorry, sir," he whispered.

     "Don't be sorry!" Castiel said quickly, looking horrified. "It's a good thing. It can get. . . quite lonely at this house by the lake. Hopefully as time progresses, our relationship will as well."

     Ears burning at the most-likely-unintended meaning of that sentence, Dean nodded.

     "Alright. I'll do these dishes tomorrow morning. Let's go up to sleep," Castiel said, flicking his head in the direction of the stairs.

     "Sir?" Dean asked quietly.

     "Yes?"

     "What time to you wake up, sir?" Dean asked tentatively. Castiel frowned.

     "Whenever I do. Tomorrow is Saturday. I sleep in on the weekends, usually until seven o'clock," the angel said. He narrowed his eyes at Dean. "Why?"

     "I was just curious. I'm sorry, sir," Dean whispered.

     Castiel sighed. "There's no need to be sorry, Dean. Come on. Let's just go to bed."

     Dean followed him up the stairs, his weary body beginning to make itself heard. Every movement sent a jolt of pain through his body, and his wrist was beginning to throb in the tight wrapping Castiel had placed on it.

     Dean was allowed to brush his teeth for the first time in days. He'd taken to stealing Alistair's toothbrush and using it when the Alpha wasn't looking. It wasn't like the Alpha had used the toothbrush much anyway, and Dean couldn't stand the feeling of not brushing his teeth.

     But Castiel handed him a toothbrush of his very own, along with some peppermint toothpaste that tasted like candy and left a bright taste in Dean's mouth. He changed into the soft pants Castiel laid out for him and curled up in his nest in the corner, content.

     Castiel climbed into his own nest, his black wings making a swishing noise as they brushed across the hardwood floor. He folded them neatly behind him as he lay down, curling up in the nest of feathers and blankets.

     Dean closed his eyes, surprised to find that his own scent didn't smell distressed or afraid. It smelled. . . happy? No, not happy. Content.

     His stomach was full, he was warm and comfortable, his injuries didn't hurt too badly, and his Alpha Master was nearby. He felt the best he had in years.

     Dean closed his eyes and fell right asleep.

Chapter Text

     Six

 

     Castiel woke up, groaning as the sun fell across his face. He opened his eyes, taking in his bedroom from the not-quite-shadowed alcove of his nest.

     Something wasn't right. Castiel frowned, listening.

     Ah.

     He got up, the feathers on the limbs of his wings spiking with emotion. Whenever he got angry, worried, or scared, they flared a little like the ridge along a dog's spine.

     The Omega wasn't in his little nest.

     Castiel got up, not sleepy anymore, and staggered out of his nest. He winced when his feet hit the cold floor, ruffling his wings in an attempt to balance himself as he stumbled for the door.

     How could he have been so stupid? He'd left the Omega unchained. Of course it would have run away.

     What did I tell you? It's worse than a dog. It will betray you the second it has the chance unless you discipline it right.

     Castiel opened the door and headed downstairs. He made it halfway down, feathers ruffled in anger, when he heard a noise.

     There was a clinking, then a clack, as if something had been set down. Castiel slowly descended the rest of the way downstairs, the anger in his scent slowly bleeding away to surprise and then wonder.

     The Omega was moving around the kitchen, making what looked like an elaborate breakfast. Castiel was mesmerized by the quick movements of his feet and the way his small hands moved so fast and efficiently.

     He watched the Omega as he practically danced around the kitchen, humming softly to himself, setting a pan on the stove and beginning to fry bacon. He was in the middle of measuring milk into a pitcher when Castiel decided to make his presence known.

     He cleared his throat, shifting in his position at the base of the staircase.

     Dean jumped practically a mile in the air, his fingers losing their grip. Castiel watched as the milk jug and the glass pitcher the Omega had been measuring the milk into went crashing to the floor.

     Yelping, the Omega knelt down and righted the milk, but not before a great splash of the liquid went all over the place. The pitcher shattered, pieces of glass flying across the tile.

     Castiel started forward as the Omega began to feverishly pick up the small shards of glass, his hands shaking badly and his scent spiking with sour fear.

     "Dean," Castiel said. "Dean!"

     The Omega's scent flared into pure terror and his shaking hands dropped the small handful of glass shards he'd collected.

     He turned and fell on his knees in front of Castiel, small, undernourished body shaking like a leaf.

     "Please, please, M-Master, please I'm s-s-sorry-I'm s-sorry, please, please don't send me aw-away-please I'll make it b-better please-"

     "Dean," Castiel said. "Dean."

     He tried to make his voice as soothing as possible as he knelt, careful to avoid the shattered glass.

     The Omega was hyperventilating, his chest heaving with gasps that bordered on sobs. Tears streamed down his face, though Castiel doubted he knew it. He was still mumbling the same incoherent stream of apologies and pleas.

     "Dean," Castiel grunted. He grabbed the Omega's wrist firmly.

     The Omega froze, his glassy green eyes zeroing in on the grip Castiel had on his arm. His breathing was still panicked, but he had stopped begging.

     "Dean, sweetheart, please look at me," Castiel said softly, using his other hand to gently grip the Omega's chin. The boy flinched hard, but he didn't jerk away. 

     Castiel softly tilted his head, looking into Dean's panicked eyes and smiling with as much kindness as he could convey.

     "I'm not mad, okay?" he asked. "I'm not mad." Castiel made sure his scent was calming and neutral. His voice seemed to cut through Dean's panicked haze. The Omega blinked, tears still streaming down his beautiful face.

     "I'm s-sorry," he gasped out, his breaths sounding suspiciously like sobs. "I'm s-s-sorry. P-Please, Master, please d-don't send me b-back."

     Castiel frowned. "Send you back?"     

     "N-No more auction, please. Please, I'll d-do anything. Anything, Master, please," Dean begged.

     Castiel softened. "I won't send you back to the auction, Dean. Why would I do that?"

     Dean sobbed. "A-Alistair k-k-kicked me out, I ruined his breakfast and he beat me and I woke up and I wasn't th-there anymore and he sold me and I don't wanna go back! Please, please, no more. . . "

     Castiel's heart tore in two, the voice of his mother shoved far back in his mind. He gently cupped the Omega's face with his other hand.

     "Dean, sweetheart, I wouldn't send you back. It wasn't your fault, sweet boy. Look, you made me such a nice breakfast too," he said, looking up.

     Dean looked up too, his gaze following Castiel's to the half-put-together breakfast on the counter.

     Castiel directed his chin back at him, catching the boy's gaze again.

     "You're alright. I won't send you back," he promised.

     Dean nodded, his breathing steadily becoming slower. Castiel held his gaze until his it had returned to normal. He looked down at the small cuts on Dean's hands.

     He knew this was wrong.

     Castiel knew this was wrong. He knew this went against everything his mother had ever taught him. Being kind to Omegas, rebelling against the idea that all of them were useless, that was something Luci and Gabriel would have done. 

     But here he was, comforting this Omega on the floor. He should be beating him. Punishing him for being so clumsy.

     But it wasn't his fault, right? a little voice in the back of Castiel's head asked. It was your fault. You scared him. He was just trying to make you breakfast.

     Yes, it was Castiel's fault. And it wasn't fair to punish the Omega for something like that.

     But then, when had life ever been fair?

     "I'll pick up the glass," Castiel finally said. "You make sure the bacon doesn't burn, alright?"

     "Yes, Master," Dean said, jumping up. Castiel thought of correcting him, but he decided against it.

     Castiel picked up the larger pieces of glass, sweeping the rest up with a dustpan. He also cleaned up the splash of milk.

     As he stood, he found that, despite the big breakfast that was now being laid out before him, Dean had managed to do the dishes and scrub the kitchen until it gleamed in the early morning sunlight.

     "The kitchen looks. . . amazing, Dean," Castiel remarked. He glanced down. "So does the food."

     Dean flushed, the color bringing out the green in his eyes. Castiel found the way the tips of his ears turned red to be adorable.

     Adorable? Where the fuck did that come from?

     "Eat it while it's warm, Master," Dean said softly.

     "Not Master, remember?" Castiel asked.

     Dean flinched, nearly dropping another thing, this time a plate with bacon on it. "S-Sorry, Mas-I mean, sir!"

     "Hey, hey, it's alright, Dean," Castiel soothed. "Actually, I would prefer if you called me Castiel."

     Dean froze in the act of filling Castiel's glass with orange juice. Only when the glass was in imminent danger of overfilling did Dean jerk into action and pull it away.

      "Y-You want me to call you. . . Castiel?" Dean asked, his voice nearly impossible to hear. Castiel smiled at the way the Omega stumbled over the syllables of his name.

     "Yes. I call you Dean."
     "But. . . but-but we're not. . . we're not equals," Dean said, forgetting to be afraid for a moment, the incredulous tone of his voice again making Castiel wonder what his personality was really like.

     "That's. . . that's true," Castiel said hesitantly.

     Why are you hesitating? It's true! Naomi screamed in Castiel's head.

     Castiel thought of something Lucifer had once said to their mother, right before walking out of the house for the final time.

     Mother, you can go fuck yourself.

     Suddenly caught by the urge to grin, Castiel had to fight to keep a straight face in such an inappropriate situation. Dean was watching him carefully, searching for any signs of violence or aggression.

     "Just call me 'sir'," Castiel finally said, taking a bite of bacon. "That will be fine."

 

Chapter Text

     Seven

 

     After the breakfast incident, things only got worse.

     It started with Dean cleaning the windows.

     He was going outside to clean the outer panels when he slipped on ice for the first time.

     Yelping, Dean slammed into the frozen boards of the back porch, wincing as his still-healing wrist jolted in pain at the impact. The Omega carefully picked himself back up, trying not to fall again.

     He made it to the window, cleaning supplies in hand, when he slipped off the porch and into a patch of lightly frosted holly bushes.

     Groaning softly in pain, Dean stood and made to clean the windows again.

     It was freezing by now, and his thin shirt and pants were wet from the snow and still-thawing dew on the porch and bushes. The sun was still rising, and the neighbors across the lake seemed to be just waking up.

     Dean gritted his teeth against the cold, grateful there was no wind today, and set about cleaning the windows.

     He got as far as cleaning the upper panel when he slipped again. Angry now that he couldn't seem to find traction on the porch, Dean went into the house.

     He carefully went to the kitchen, trying not to track water on the floor, and grabbed some salt.

     The Omega sprinkled it on the ice outside, put the salt back, and started on washing the windows for the third time.

     This time, he managed to clean the entire panel of windows in the living room. He stepped back, narrowing his eyes triumphantly at the now-gleaming glass, turned to go clean the other windows, and slipped again.

     Dean picked himself up and began to clean the other windows.

     By now, his body was cold and battered, the frigidness of the air not helping ease the pain of impact when Dean slipped.

     The Omega had never been so clumsy. The cold made it hard to function, and with the slickness of the ice, Dean's job was made far harder.

     He was halfway through cleaning the other set of windows when disaster struck.

     Dean slipped again, no surprise. But this time, as he fell, the cleaning bucket flew out of his hands, knocked over a chair, and tumbled to the ground with an almighty crash.

     Dean stayed where he was on the frozen ground, green eyes wide with shock.

     Cleaner began to spill out onto the ice, freezing as it went.

     Dean shoved himself upward, praying he hadn't disturbed Castiel.

     All thoughts of avoiding conflict flew from his head as the Alpha stomped outside.

     "What the hell happened?" he demanded, taking in the sorry scene. Dean, drenched and shivering. The cleaning bucket, upended and spilling its contents everywhere. The chair, so very near to breaking the window, lying on its side a few feet away.

     "I s-slipped, Master, I'm sorry," Dean whispered.

     Castiel seemed to fight with himself for a long moment. Then he set his shoulders and looked coldly down at Dean. His eyes were the same icy color as when he'd chained Dean outside and slapped him at the auction house.

     "There's a shed in the side yard with a switch," he said coldly. "Go get it."
     Dean nodded, murmuring a 'Yes, Master' as he got up. His aching, freezing body seemed to fade into the background as Dean slipped into the corner of his mind where he went when he was punished.

     This made more sense. Castiel was going to beat him. He was going to punish Dean for being a bad Omega. Maybe he would even lock Dean outside again. That was where the Omega belonged.

     Finally, finally, Dean was being treated as he was supposed to be treated. With the brutality and cruelty that Alistair had showed him for four years.

     Dean found the shed. He opened it and grabbed the switch, a long, ruthless piece of leather that would hurt at any time of the year, but especially winter when the fiber was frozen solid.

     The Omega turned, closing the door, and headed back to the main yard on autopilot.

     Finally, he would be treated the way he deserved.

     Dean stepped up onto the porch and handed the switch to Castiel, head down like a good Omega.

     He didn't register that there were quiet tears slipping down his face, or that Castiel's hands were shaking slightly as he accepted the piece of leather from Dean.

     The Omega turned and knelt in front of his Alpha Master, awaiting punishment.

Chapter Text

     Eight

 

     Thoughts were exploding in Castiel's head like fireworks.

     Emotions raged, warring with each other with such ferocity, Castiel wanted to kneel down and scream.

     Anger. The loud crashes had gone on long enough, and the last one had been both unnecessary and jarring.

     Guilt. There were purple bruises already forming along the Omega's thin, shaking body, visible through the soaked white shirt he was wearing.

     Annoyance. It was freezing out here. Castiel's wings were tugging at the plane of existence he had sent them to, wanting to wrap around him and shield him from the cold. 

     Uncertainty. The whip in Castiel's hand shook with cold and something else, with anticipation of what he was about to do.

     Do I really have to? Does he really deserve it?

     No, a small voice in Castiel's head whispered. No, he doesn't.

     Yes! the voice of his mother screamed. Yes, he was being a rotten Omega! Punish him! Make him pay!

     Castiel swallowed thickly.

     He remembered something his Father had taught him, during one of the few times they'd actually sat down and had a conversation.

     When trying to make the right decision, take away all prejudice, and just look at the person as a living being. Alpha, Beta, Omega, human, angel, black, white, girl, boy, or anything else. They are all just living things.

     Castiel swallowed past the tightness in his throat again, and assessed the situation without the idea that Dean was bad just because he was an Omega.

     Had it really been Dean's fault that he slipped? No. It was slippery out here, and the Omega's sorry excuse for shoes probably wouldn't grip onto cement, let alone ice. 

     Besides, he'd been trying to do Castiel a service. He'd been washing the windows, something the angel hadn't done since he'd moved into the house all those years ago after fleeing the Novak Mansion.

     Castiel released a breath, his grip relaxing on the switch in his hands.

     The veil of prejudice which Naomi had placed over her son's eyes many years ago began to slide to the side, like a curtain revealing a stage full of characters.

     Castiel very nearly dropped his whip.

     Because kneeling in front of him was a boy. A man, if you liked. A man roughly Castiel's age, small, and unfortunate enough to be born with something that automatically made him an outcast, a blight, a servant, to society.

     And why? Because he'd been born without a knot?

     It wasn't Dean's fault. He didn't deserve the bruises and old scars that were slowly becoming visible through his soaked white shirt. He didn't deserve the pain and hunger and thirst and fear of being a slave.

     So why was he kneeling, shivering and frozen, in front of Castiel, waiting to be beaten?

     Because Castiel had ordered him there.

     This innocent man, this beautiful Omega, Castiel's-

     No, don't go there. Not now, at least.

     Dean was shaking, and as the wind blew his scent toward Castiel, the angel knew it wasn't just from the freezing cold.

     The angel dropped the switch.

     Dean flinched at the sound, curling in on himself, bracing for pain.

     Castiel nearly fell to his knees beside the Omega, not caring that his pants were getting soaked in the snow.

     "Dean? Dean, look at me."

     Dean didn't react. His eyes stayed firmly fixed on the frozen porch in front of him, his breath coming out in panicked pants in the frigid air.

     "Dean," Castiel said again. When the Omega didn't react, Castiel resorted to desperate measures. "Dean."

     Dean's head snapped up, his inner Omega demanding he listen to the Alpha Voice.

     Castiel released all the breath he'd built up for speaking, his chest feeling as if someone had punched it.

     Tears were streaming down the Omega's face, setting his eyes ablaze with emerald fire in the early morning sunlight. His plush lips were trembling, releasing soft sounds of fear that could just barely be heard if Castiel listened hard enough.

     Without thinking, Castiel put his arms around Dean.

     "I'm sorry," he whispered, meaning it with all his heart. "I'm sorry, Omega."

     Dean collapsed against him, his too-thin body shuddering with fear and cold. Castiel was all too aware of the crackling of his shirt, the way it was iced over and probably causing hypothermia.

     He gently slid his arm underneath Dean's legs, lifting the Omega far too easily.

     Dean pressed his face into the space between Castiel's neck and shoulder, still whimpering softly.

     Castiel stepped over the fallen whip, his stomach turning sickeningly at the thought that he'd been ready to beat this Omega only a few minutes ago.

     He entered the house, the heat blowing against them and amplifying the guilt in Castiel's scent.

     Dean tucked his face deeper into Castiel's neck. The Alpha growled softly, pulling the Omega tighter to his body.

     He walked up the stairs, heading to his own bathroom on autopilot. Castiel thought nothing of his actions as he set Dean gently down on the counter and began to fill the tub.

     The Omega shifted. Castiel turned to him, expectant.

     "M-Master? I'm s-sorry," he whispered.

     Castiel sighed and stood, walking forward and coming to a stop in front of Dean.

     There was only a foot of space between them. The hot water from the faucet was creating steam, fogging the mirrors and dampening Dean's soft, spiky blond hair.

     "No, Dean. . . " Castiel trailed off, wondering why the words were so hard to force out.

     Unlike earlier, his mind was a blank canvas. He couldn't have done simple addition if there'd been a gun at his temple. And he certainly couldn't find the words needed to express what he felt toward this Omega.

     "Dean," Castiel tried again. He sighed. "Dean, I'm sorry. I. . . I told you earlier that I wouldn't hurt you, and I want to stay true to that."

     Dean looked down, silent, unconscious tears slipping down his face. "B-But I'm an Omega," he said quietly.

     Castiel sighed and put his hand softly on the Omega's shoulder. Dean flinched.

     "I know," Castiel whispered.

     The shoulder underneath his hand was bony and still cold, despite the heat of the bathroom. There were the beginnings of muscle there, definitely, but the bone was too prominent for Castiel's liking.

     They stayed like that, Alpha and Omega, frozen in the steamy bathroom. Finally, Dean broke the silence.

     "The tub is going to overflow, Master," he said quietly.

     Castiel jerked as if he'd been shocked.

     He whirled and strode the three steps to the edge of the tub, flipping the tabs off. Then he turned back to Dean.

     "Do you. . . do you want me to leave?" he asked.

     Silence.

     Castiel turned to find a puzzled Dean staring at him. When the Alpha turned around, the Omega quickly dropped his eyes.

     "N-No, sir, it isn't my call," he said finally.

     Castiel sighed and looked at the far wall. "Just get in the tub."

     Dean shuffled a bit. There were soft, barely perceptible footsteps. Then a quiet splash.

     Castiel looked down and found Dean in the tub.

     Despite his apparent guardedness, Castiel could see that the Omega was as relaxed as he'd ever been, his eyes half-lidded with bliss.

     The Alpha placed a shampoo bottle and some soap next to him, told him he was welcome to it, and left the room.

Chapter Text

     Nine

 

     Despite the horrible morning, Dean managed to slip into a sense of comfort and stability as the day wore on. Castiel left to go to a meeting at noon and returned a few hours later. In that frame of time, Dean had made them lunch, vacuumed the entire house, and started on sweeping the first chimney.

     Castiel insisted on Dean taking a break to eat lunch with him, telling the Omega about the ridiculous meeting he'd gone to. By the time he'd finished, Dean had been practically rolling on the floor with laughter, the tales of the inexperienced lieutenants and foolish generals ripping the first peals of laughter out of him in years.

     The angel had kind of stared at Dean in awe for a moment. Then he'd joined him in laughing until they were both practically hysterical.

     When they'd finished lunch, Dean had done the dishes and finished cleaning the chimney.

     Dean had been putting the chimney sweeping materials away when he'd heard a massive thump from downstairs.

     The Omega crept to the door that the Alpha angel had disappeared behind an hour or so before, saying he was doing training after lunch. Dean peeked behind the door curiously and found a set of stairs leading down to what must have been the basement of the house.

     Fear spiked through Dean's heart, but he forced it to calm. If Castiel had wanted to lock him in the basement, he would have done it by now.

     Right?

     Dean heard a sound like a whip being cracked, but more muffled, and he flinched, wondering what was happening. Castiel was down there, Dean knew that, but was he allowed down there?

     I can go anywhere in the house any time I want.

     Dean frowned, wondering if the Alpha would go back on his promise, or if he counted the basement in that equation. Castiel didn't seem like the type of Alpha to go back on his word.

     Still, it took Dean another ten minutes to finally decide on what to do. When another sound like a whip cracking reached his ears, he pushed his body through the crack between the door and the wall and slipped down the steps.

     Fear and adrenaline pumped through Dean's veins as he crept down the steps. He struggled to keep it out of his scent, wondering just what he'd find down at the bottom of the stairs. . .

     He reached the base and stopped.

     The source of the cracking and thumping noises was Castiel.

     The cracking came from when he snapped his wings up with such force, they displaced air with a loud noise. The thumping came from when he managed to completely disembowel the thick dummies he was currently fighting, kicking them to the side.

     Dean watched in awe as the angel trained, gleaming blade flashing in the fluorescent lights that hung from the high ceiling of the basement. His wings snapped and whirled with him, shielding and slicing when needed. They were like another weapon, another limb. 

     The angel's movements were sinuous and graceful, powerful and fierce. Dean couldn't help but stare as the angel disemboweled the final dummy with a single efficient swipe.

     He was still staring, mesmerized, as Castiel turned.

     "Hello, Dean," he said in his deep, gravelly voice.

     Dean jumped. "Hello, sir."

     Castiel smiled at him, his chest heaving with effort. He caught his breath, placing the transparent blade on a rack beside others of varying lengths and widths.

     "You can come closer," Castiel said, his voice almost teasing. "I won't bite."

     The part of Dean's mind that had never completely submitted to being an Omega slave whispered that yes, Castiel could indeed bite.

     Dean shut it down.

     The Omega tentatively entered the basement room, his green eyes glancing around warily as he took in the large space that had been converted to a training room.

     He stopped at the edge of the circle where Castiel had been fighting, staring down at the dummies. They were made of leather that seemed to be made to be cut into pieces. If he looked closer, he could see bits of Velcro where the dummies could be reattached.

     "How. . . " The word was out of Dean's mouth before he could stop it. He flinched, hard, ducking his head in submission.

     "It's alright," Castiel said gently. "Were you asking how I learned that?"

     Dean slowly relaxed, looking back at the remains of the dummies at his feet. "Yes, sir," he said quietly.

     "I'm a general in the angel army. I train troops, so I should hope I know what I'm doing," Castiel said, his tone light. "I suppose I learned from my mentor."
     Dean glanced over at the rack of weapons, curious.

     "You can touch them," Castiel said. "Just. . . be careful. I don't want you to cut yourself."

     Dean nodded. "Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

     He walked tentatively over to the rack of weapons and picked up the smallest knife he could find, eyes going wide at the weightlessness and beauty of the blade.

     "Beautiful, aren't they?" Castiel asked. "They're angel blades."

     Dean nodded to show he'd heard, turning the blade over and over in his hands.

     Realizing he shouldn't be touching it at all, he placed it quickly back on the rack, making sure he was incredibly gentle, even though Castiel had just been hacking away with the blades as high speed.

     "You're welcome in here at any time," Castiel said from behind Dean. "However, I would appreciate if you only handled the blades when I'm around. Some of them can be quite unwieldy, and I don't want you to get hurt."
     Don't want a pathetic Omega to ruin them, more like, Dean thought. He crammed that thought down, ashamed he had even had such a notion.

     "Yes, sir," Dean said.

     "I'm going to go take a shower," Castiel said. "Then after that I'll probably go to the market to get you some clothes. You can do whatever you like. I'll most likely be back by seven."

     "Yes, sir," Dean repeated.

     The Omega flicked his eyes up once. He was shocked to see the Alpha smiling at him, his deep blue eyes crinkling kindly at the corners.

     Then the Alpha had turned and gone up the stairs, leaving Dean behind next to the rack of blades.

 

Chapter Text

 

     Ten

     

     Castiel couldn't believe how the house looked when he got home from the market.

     He dropped his bags by the door, staring in wonder at the gleaming, sparkling house.

     Dean sailed around the corner and hurried toward him, murmuring apologies and grabbing the bags. Castiel stopped him in his tracks by grabbing his arm.

     "Dean, did you do all this?" he asked.

     Dean looked terrified. "Y-Yes, sir. I d-didn't know you w-wouldn't like it, I'm sorry, sir, I'll change it-"

     Castiel was broken from his trance, startling slightly. "Dean, no! No, I just. . . the house looks incredible. How did you manage to do all this? You even got the chimney?"

     Dean, realizing he wasn't in imminent danger, flushed red at the praise. "Yes, sir."

     Castiel grinned at him, making the Omega flush deeper. "It looks amazing."

     "Thank you, sir," Dean said softly, turning an even brighter red.

     Castiel spared the Omega of any more embarrassment by picking up the bags. He, with Dean's help, carried them into the living room and set them down at the low table.

     "I have clothes for you," Castiel said. He rubbed his face. "I wasn't sure what style you liked, so I got some pretty generic stuff. Next time I go out, maybe you can come with me?"

     Dean flushed, shaking his head. "N-No, sir, that's alright. I'm sure whatever you picked was fine. U-Unless, unless you w-wanted me to come. Sir, I'm sorry, I didn't-"

     "Dean," Castiel said, silencing the Omega gently. "It's alright. I would love for you to come with me next time, but we don't need to get into that now. I'm going to put the groceries away, you look through the clothes and tell me if you like them."

     He got up and left the Omega to look through the bags, carrying the food to the kitchen. He took his time, wanting to give Dean space.

     He regretted that decision, however, when he went back to the living room.

     The Omega was holding up a gray shirt Castiel had bought him, staring at it blankly. There were tears running freely down his face.

     Startled, Castiel hurried forward and took the gray shirt from Dean, cupping the Omega's face in his hands.

     "Dean? Dean, what's wrong?"

     Pathetic! Weak! Useless!

     Naomi's voice was blaring in Castiel's head again, and he struggled to stay calm as he felt how badly Dean was shaking.

     Waste of space! You shouldn't be touching such filth, Castiel!

     "Dean?" Castiel asked, resisting the urge to shake the Omega.

     Dean's green eyes snapped to his. The pain in them took Castiel's breath away.

     Naomi was silenced.

     "Why are you crying?" Castiel asked softly. "Please, sweetheart, tell me."
     "I-I-I s-saw, you had-I didn't, I don't-I-"

     "Shhh," Castiel soothed. "Take a deep breath. What's the matter?"

     "I'm c-confused," Dean choked out. 

     "Why?"

     "B-Because y-you treated me right, the way I'm s-supposed to be treated, and then-and then-"

     Castiel frowned, trying to make out the jumble of Dean's panicked words. "I treated you right? How so?"

     "Y-You hit me and left me outside. Th-Then you turned all n-nice and you sh-shouldn't be. You sh-should hurt me again," Dean sobbed. Castiel's heart crumbled.

     "That's not. . . that's not right, Dean," Castiel finally told him, feeling his stomach sink.

     "B-But I'm an Omega," Dean whispered softly.

     That's right! He's pathetic!

     Castiel sighed, looking down at the ground.

     He could hear his mother's incessant voice in his head. She told him that Omegas and humans were less than them, that they deserved to be treated with such disrespect.

     But why? What had Dean ever done but be born? It wasn't his fault he didn't have a knot or wings. It wasn't his fault he'd been born that way. 

     So why did he deserve to be treated as such? Why?

     As Castiel stared at the hardwood floor beneath his feet, he realized the truth, something Naomi Novak had never understood.

     He didn't.

     Dean didn't deserve to be hurt and starved and raped because he was an Omega. He didn't deserve to be discriminated against because of his secondary gender. No Omega did. No human, no angel, no Alpha or Omega or Beta alike. They all deserved to be treated according to who they were as a person.

     This Omega here, in front of Castiel, was a testament to that. So was Gabriel. And so was Michael. Gabriel was the funniest, most loyal angel Castiel had ever met. Dean was the sweetest, most hard-working, most beautiful human the angel had ever had the pleasure of living with. And they were both Omegas. Michael was an Alpha angel, the best of the best, and he was an asshole.

     They deserved to be treated based on who they were, not on what they'd been born with.

     So as Castiel stared at the wood floor beneath him, he shut out his mother's voice for good. He fully wrapped his mind around what he was doing, what he was thinking.

     He looked up.

     "It doesn't matter," he said softly. "It doesn't matter that you're an Omega. You're a person, and I am in charge of your safety and happiness."

     Dean sniffled, his face still cupped gently in Castiel's hands.

     "Did you like the clothes?" the angel asked softly.

     Dean nodded slightly. "Yes, Master. I. . . no one has ever d-done something like that."

     Castiel smiled warmly and rubbed his thumbs soothingly on Dean's cheekbones. The Omega's eyes fluttered and leaned into the touch slightly.

     Castiel put his forehead against Dean's, closing his eyes.

     "You are worth the same as me," he whispered to the Omega. "You are precious, and you deserve to have nice things like clothes and food. You're a person, and you should be treated as such."

     Dean sniffled. "Not me, Master," he said quietly.

     "Yes, you," Castiel replied, opening his eyes and pulling away, looking into Dean's eyes. "You are a person, no matter what gender or species. You're special, just like everyone else in their own way."

     Dean's eyes filled with tears again. "I d-don't understand."
     Castiel smiled sadly. "You don't yet. But you will," he promised. "I'll show you."

 

Chapter Text

     Eleven

 

     After putting away the clothes in a drawer that was Dean's very own, the Alpha and Omega got ready for bed. Neither was very hungry, and the salad Dean had made could wait until the next afternoon.

     Dean was still reeling from what Castiel had told him earlier. He tried to wrap his mind around it and found he couldn't. The angel was just crazy. Right?

     In his heart, Dean knew it wasn't crazy. Omega slavery was on the verge of becoming illegal, the result of several years' worth of protests, Omega Rights movements, and numerous people speaking out against the unfairness. Angels, too, were joining the fight, and it seemed that Castiel was one of them. Or at least, wanted to be. Dean still remembered the freezing cold of the night he had spent outside. 

     He understood, though. You couldn't change your entire mindset and everything you'd believe all your life in a single night.

     Still, as Dean curled up in his little bed in the corner near Castiel's angel nest, he wondered if this would be the same in the morning.

     He was surprised to find that he sincerely hoped so.

 

     Dean woke up and frowned.

     He was lying on the cold floor and metal shackles ran around his wrists.

     Fear suddenly spiked through his heart as he recognized where he was.

     A soft, slimy chuckle slid out of the shadows.

     "Hello, Dean."

     Dean turned, his chains rattling. He stared, wide-eyed, at the Alpha that emerged from the gloom. Alistair grinned down at him, his stained teeth glinting in the light of the single light bulb.

     "Welcome back."

     "Wh-Where's Castiel?" Dean asked, his voice no more than a whimper. Alistair chuckled.

     "You really think you were going to stay with him? He was meant as a temporary replacement, someone you could go to while I had a chance to cool off. I very nearly killed you, you know."

     "I know," Dean whispered.

     Alistair laughed and began to stalk toward Dean. "Yes, you came right back to me. Little Cassie Novak didn't want you anymore. I'm impressed, to be honest. You fucked up faster than I thought you would."

     "N-No, he said he w-wouldn't take me back," Dean choked out, his breath coming faster.

     Alistair was only a few feet away from him now. "Too bad."

     "N-No, no, he said he wouldn't. He s-said!" Dean wailed, his breathing hitching again. Alistair laughed and knelt down in front of him.

     "Don't you understand, Dean? You're worthless. No Alpha would ever want to keep you, so you came back to me. You always will. I will never let you go."

     "No!" Dean cried, struggling to writhe away from the hands that now grabbed his shoulders. "No, no, NO!"

     "Dean," Alistair said, his voice shifting. It didn't sound right. It was deeper and rougher. Panicked.

     "Dean."

     "Dean! Dean, wake up!"

     Dean jerked awake, smacking his forehead against Castiel's nose. The angel grunted in pain, backing up slightly as the panicked Omega flailed, trying to protect himself. 

     Dean found the two walls and threw himself into the corner, chest heaving. Castiel crouched a few feet away from him, hands up in a defensive position.

     "Dean? Dean, it's alright. It was just a nightmare," Castiel said. He waited until the Omega seemed calm enough before he moved in a little closer.

     Dean made a small choking noise as the Alpha's worried, faintly protective scent flooded his senses.

     Alpha.

     Before he knew what he was doing, Dean had launched himself out of the corner and into Castiel's arms.

     Instead of shoving him away as the Omega had expected, the Alpha wrapped his arms tightly around him and held him close. 

     Fear and adrenaline had worn Dean out. He allowed his inner Omega to take over, burying his face in the soft spot between Castiel's neck and shoulder. He breathed in shakily, forcing his breathing to slow as he inhaled the scent of his Alpha.

     The Alpha. Where had that come from?

     The angel growled softly as Dean shifted, pulling away from him. He blushed furiously, scrambling back into his corner.

     "S-Sorry, Master."

     "None of that," Castiel scolded, his voice even rougher than usual with sleep. "It's alright. You were scared."

     Dean choked a little on the sobs that were still threatening to come out of his chest, struggling to get his breathing under control. Castiel seemed to see this. The angel's ocean blue eyes softened to something gentle and kind that Dean had never seen before.

     "Come up here."

     It took Dean a moment to realize what the angel meant. When he figured it out, he stared up at the nest with wide eyes.

     "Come on," Castiel repeated. He climbed up the three foot lip and laid back in his nest.

     Dean swallowed, wondering if this was a trick. Did Castiel finally want to fuck him? This was a weird time to do so.

     He decided that if Castiel did want to fuck him, he'd better get in the nest quick before the dark side of the angel made its appearance.

     He shoved himself to an unsteady standing position and climbed into the nest uncertainly.

     Castiel pulled Dean down beside him, gently arranging the Omega so he was laying on his back beside the angel.

     He pulled the blanket up over them both. Dean was immediately enveloped in warmth. The layer of feathers and blankets made the nest the softest thing Dean had lain on since he'd been enslaved.

     The Omega closed his eyes, surrounded by the calming scent of Alpha and the softness of the nest.

     He immediately fell asleep.

 

     Dean woke up in stages.

     First, he was able to control his thoughts and wonder why he was so warm. Then he began to feel the silkiness of feathers and blankets on his skin and he became confused, wondering where the feathers had come from.

     Finally, Dean realized there was something pressed up against his back, something that was warm and firm and moved when it breathed.

     He opened his eyes.

     In the night, Castiel must have moved. He had pressed himself up against Dean's back, and he had his arm curled firmly around the Omega's torso, pulling him securely to his chest. Enormous black wings had appeared and enveloped them both, covering Dean completely. The effect was something that pleased Dean's inner Omega to the very core. The warmth and scent of the Alpha, the heavy weight of the wings folding him to Castiel's chest. . .

     The angel was still asleep.

     Dean wondered if he should move away. Would Castiel be angrier if he stayed where he was or if he moved and woke him up?

     He was saved from having to make that decision when Castiel abruptly woke up.

     Dean snapped his eyes shut and struggled to keep his breathing even and his scent neutral as the Alpha grunted, seeing the position they were in.

     For a few moments, Alpha and Omega lay in complete stillness next to each other.

     Then a nose softly pressed into the back of Dean's neck.

     "My apologies, Omega."

     The roughness sleep brought to Castiel's voice made Dean shiver. He swallowed, not knowing what to say.

     Castiel saved him from having to make a decision again by shifting away from Dean. The Omega nearly whined at the loss of the heavy weight of Castiel's wings.

     He shifted a respectable distance away from Castiel as the angel sat up, wincing at the height of the sun in the sky.

     "It must be almost noon," he remarked.

     Dean rubbed sleepiness out of his eyes and ducked his head. "Sorry, sir. I'll go make breakfast."

     "It's no problem. I'm not sure you could have gotten out of this nest even if you'd tried," Castiel replied. "How long were you awake?"

     "I only woke up a few minutes before you, sir," Dean said, hoping Castiel didn't think he was lying. How selfish was he, staying in bed while he should be up making breakfast for his Alp-for his Master?

     "Doesn't matter," Castiel said. He rotated his shoulder a few times, wincing slightly. Dean made a mental note to include painkillers with breakfast.

     Wordlessly, Dean followed Castiel out of the nest to get ready for the day. Neither of them mentioned anything about what had happened the night before.

     As they were finishing getting dressed, Dean realized he was fine with that.

     He followed the Alpha downstairs.

 

Chapter Text

     Twelve

 

     The idea occurred to Castiel as he was strapping leather vanguards on his forearms. He turned and headed back up the basement steps, entering the kitchen. He found Dean making lemonade, his tongue sticking out slightly in an adorable expression of concentration.

     "Dean," Castiel said.

     The Omega jumped, nearly dropping the lemon he'd been squeezing into the pitcher.

     "Yes, sir?" he asked as he turned.

     "I had a. . . a question for you," Castiel said, wondering why he was suddenly shy to ask it.

     "Yes, sir?"

     "Would you like to train with me?" Castiel asked.

     A look of pure surprise crossed the Omega's face. "You want to teach me how to use the blades?"

     Castiel shrugged. "Yes, we could work up to that. I was thinking basic defensive moves first."

     Dean looked down at the lemonade.

     Castiel waited, almost sure the Omega was going to say no.

     "Sure, I'll train with you, sir. But. . . but only for a few hours? I have to still do chores," Dean said.

     "That was the idea. I don't want you to just be doing chores all day," Castiel told him. He grinned brightly. "Come on."

     Dean hesitated, looking again at the pitcher of lemonade.

     Then he smiled tentatively back and followed Castiel to the basement.

 

     Castiel was surprised, to say the least. Very surprised.

     Dean was not only an adept fighter, he was strong and very, very fast. His smaller body gave him an advantage over Castiel, and the first time the Alpha tried to grab him, the Omega ducked nimbly out of the way.

     "You're amazing! Where did you learn to fight?" Castiel asked, amazed.

     Dean blushed deeply at the praise and looked at his shoes, embarrassed. "My father taught me, sir. He. . . He thought I was going to be an Alpha." The sweet happiness at being praised in Dean's scent soured slightly with bitterness. He looked away. "He taught me to fight, said I'd need it someday."

     Castiel winced, glancing at the rack of weapons. He changed the subject. "Do you know how to use those?"

     Dean followed his gaze, the Omega's eyes widening slightly.

     "I know how to fight with knives, sir, but I've never fought with. . . with those knives."

     Castiel grinned and walked over, grabbing two forearm-length blades and handing one to Dean. "Try it."

     "A-Are you sure, sir?" Dean asked, looking at the knife as if it were a snake ready to bite him. "I d-don't think-"
     "Try it. Swing it at that dummy," Castiel said, pointing. Sometime during the evening the day before, Dean had reassembled the dummies without Castiel even noticing.

     Dean nodded, looking as if he might be sick.

     He turned to the dummy.

     Castiel waited, silent.

     Dean stayed still, staring at the dummy.

     Castiel was about to say something encouraging when he stopped. Something was happening.

     The Omega seemed to change, seemed to forget the Alpha was in the room. He squared his shoulders and changed his grip on the knife, bending his knees and getting into an unmistakable fighting stance. Castiel watched in awe as the Omega swung a few times, each strike landing a killing a blow on the dummy's chest, stomach, and head. The Omega swiped a few more times, then disemboweled the dummy as efficiently as Castiel could have done.

     He stopped when the dummy head hit the floor and seemed to realize what he'd done. The knife clattered to the floor and Dean froze.

     Then he turned and fell on his knees in front of Castiel.

     "A-Alpha, please, I'm sorry, I didn't mean-I didn't know-I forgot to-please, I'm sorry, I-"

     Castiel dropped the knife on the floor and knelt in front of the Omega.

     "Dean. Dean, calm down," he pleaded softly. "Please, calm down. It's alright."

     Dean was inconsolable. He had started crying a few minutes ago, his breathing hitching horribly around his pleas.

     "Dean, please," Castiel begged, struggling to keep the panic and worry out of his scent. His inner Alpha's roaring wasn't helping, and he was having a harder and harder time controlling it.

     Finally, as Dean caved in on himself and pressed his forehead to the floor, still begging, Castiel lost his grip on the leash he kept his Alpha side on.

     He surged forward and grabbed the Omega by the shoulders, bodily heaving him upward and against him. Castiel closed his arms around Dean, struggling to exude calming pheromones into his scent.

     The Omega struggled for a few seconds, pushing uselessly at Castiel's chest. Then he gave in and pressed his face into Castiel's neck, breathing in the angel's scent.

     Slowly, Dean's breathing calmed. Castiel waited until he had returned to normal before he pulled away slightly.

     "Want to tell me what that was about?" he asked.

     "S-Sorry, Alpha," Dean whispered.

     Castiel's body tingled at the change in title, but he didn't mention it. "What triggered that, hmm?"

     Dean took a shaky breath and rested his head on Castiel's shoulder. "My old Alpha didn't like when I showed off."

     "What do you mean?"

     "He d-didn't like when I. . . when I lifted heavy things or caught something that was hard to catch. Said Omegas aren't supposed to do that."
     White hot anger surged through Castiel's gut. He tightened his grip slightly on Dean.

     "That's fucked up. He was punishing you for being strong?" he demanded.

     Dean shrank into Castiel, which was answer enough. The angel grazed his nose through the Omega's soft, dark blond hair.

     "I will never do that," Castiel promised. "Your fighting style is very interesting, and I look forward to knowing more about it."
     "Really?" Dean asked, his voice genuinely curious.

     "Yes," Castiel said, chuckling. "Would you like to continue or be done for today?"

     Dean pulled his shoulders in, tucking himself against Castiel. The angel resisted the suddenly very strong urge to growl contentedly.

     "I should probably make lunch," Dean said. He pulled himself gently away from Castiel's arms. The angel let him go, though it seemed wrong to. He watched the Omega put the blades carefully back on the rack, then head back up the stairs.

     Castiel's eyes followed him, his mind churning.

 

Chapter Text

     Thirteen

 

     Castiel went back to "work" the next morning. Dean did as much as he could around the big house, cleaning and trying his damnedest not to break anything. By the time Castiel arrived back from training sweaty and exhausted that evening, the house was gleaming.

     "How do you keep finding things to do?" Castiel asked as Dean finished hanging up the curtains he had recently beaten for dust.

     "It's a big house, sir," Dean responded, grunting as he stood on his tiptoes, trying to hook the curtain on the rod. Castiel walked over and hung it up for him, easily reaching the rod. Dean thanked him and checked on the sauce on the stove.

     "Did you eat lunch?" Castiel asked, still looking around.

     Dean paused. Had he eaten lunch? He remembered going through the refrigerator to get something, but he'd gotten caught up in the task of clearing out old, rotten food and hadn't eaten after all.

     Would Alp-would Castiel be mad?

     "Dean?"

     "Uh, n-no sir, I didn't. I forgot," Dean said quietly. 

     Castiel was suddenly right behind Dean, the scent of thunderstorms and honey engulfing the Omega. Dean swallowed, looking up and behind him at Castiel.

     "You need to eat, Dean. I won't let you do housework unless you promise to eat," he growled, his gravelly tone bordering on Alpha Voice. Dean swallowed hard.

     "Yes, Alph-I mean, yes, sir," he whispered, silently cursing at his stumble.

     Castiel wouldn't let it go. "If I hear about you not eating again, I'll stay back from training and make sure you eat," he warned.

     Dean's head snapped up in alarm. "N-No, sir, you don't have to do that. I'll eat, sir, I promise."
     "Good," Castiel replied. Dean flushed at the praise, unused to it from before Castiel.

     The angel went upstairs to shower. Dean sighed, his shoulders relaxing as the Alpha left the room. His scent was more prevalent when he was sweaty and tired and not censoring it, and it had Dean's inner Omega wailing for. . . something.

     Dean shook his head and focused on dinner.

 

     The week progressed like that. Dean would clean everything he could reach inside the house, then grab a stool or a chair and clean what he couldn't. Castiel would train troops from sunup to sundown. Every night, unspoken, Dean climbed into Castiel's nest. The Alpha and Omega started off side by side, but by morning Dean's face was buried in Castiel's neck and the Alpha had thrown his wings over them both.

     Neither of them mentioned it.

     Dean remembered to eat lunch, and Castiel always came home, amazed at how clean the house was. If the Alpha wasn't too tired, he helped Dean with training and then they ate dinner together at the kitchen counter.

     It was easy to fall into this routine. Easy to forget that they were Master and slave. Easy to forget that Dean was an Omega slave, not Castiel's Omega ma-not his Omega equal.

     Easy, except for one factor.

     Dean tentatively brought it up at dinner.

     "Sir?" he asked quietly on the eighth night of his stay at Castiel's house.

     "Yes?" Castiel asked, sounding surprised. Dean rarely asked questions, and even rarer were they unprompted.

     "Sir. . . when do you want to claim me?" Dean asked. 

     Castiel frowned. "What do you mean?"

     "Do you want to. . . to c-claim me? Like. . . my l-last Alpha. . . " Dean trailed off, wondering why he'd even opened his mouth in the first place.

     Castiel frowned. He looked mad, and it scared Dean.

     "What do you mean?" he asked again. "I don't understand, Dean."

     Dean shifted, uncomfortable. "Well. . . my last Alpha, he claimed me immediately, said he d-didn't want anyone to think I w-was someone else's."

     Castiel was definitely mad now. It was bleeding into his scent, a thunderous undertone that made Dean's Omega cower in fear and scream at him to do something, to fix it, God damn it.

     He did no such thing, just looked down at the macaroni and cheese with pepper he had made for the night's dinner.

     "Did he mate you?" Castiel asked. Dean shook his head, desperation and fear running its old course through his veins.

     "N-No, sir, I promise. Just. . . just put his scent on me so no one would think I belonged to anyone else. I swear, I'm n-not tainted," he said, fighting past the tightness in his throat. Why were there tears gathering in his eyes? He had no right to cry.

     Castiel looked up surprise overpowering the anger in his scent. That was quickly followed by. . . guilt?

     What?

     "Dean, I'm not mad at you," Castiel said. 

     "You're not?" Dean asked, so surprised he forgot to call the angel by his proper title.

     "No, of course not!" Castiel breathed. "I was just. . . every time you talk about your old Alpha, I want to punch a wall."

     "I'm sorry, sir."

     "No, Dean, it's not-" Castiel sighed. He looked down at his half-finished meal, thinking. Then he looked back up at Dean, blue eyes pleading. "It's not your fault. Don't think that any of this is your fault. How that bastard treated you wasn't your fault. I'm not angry at you, I'm angry at him."

     Dean looked down. "Oh."

     Castiel huffed a breath, his scent calming. He ate a bite of pasta and cheese and chewed it contemplatively.

     Dean ruminated on his question for a few minutes, then finally decided to fuck it and ask the damn thing.

     "But. . . do you still want to claim me?" he asked.

     Castiel choked a little on his pasta and swallowed with difficulty, looking over at Dean. "Do you want me to?"

     It was Dean's turn to choke. He looked at his plate, suddenly wishing he hadn't said anything at all.

     "Um. . . that isn't my choice to make, sir," Dean finally said.

     "But do you want me to?"

     Dean looked up, finding serious blue eyes boring into his. He swallowed, unable to break the intense gaze.

     Yes.

     "No, sir. Not if you don't want to," he said quietly.

     "And if I want to?"
     The question made Dean freeze. He searched Castiel's ocean eyes, looking for a trace of a lie or a joke. There was none.

     "Then I'll let you," Dean said quietly, surprised that he meant it.

     Castiel looked away. The moment broke, and Dean was ashamed to find disappointment in Castiel's scent.

     "I will never do something to you that you don't fully want," Castiel said.

     But I do! Dean wanted to scream. He didn't move, realizing that this was probably Castiel's way of letting him down gently.

     After all, who would want a broken, scarred Omega like him?

Chapter Text

     Fourteen

 

     Castiel was unsettled by Dean's question. He was even more unsettled when the Omega chose to sleep in his little bed in the corner instead of Castiel's nest. The angel didn't get any sleep that night, and he wasn't sure Dean had either.

     After that night, Dean continued sleeping in his mound of pillows and blankets in the corner.

     One thing that did remain normal was their training. Castiel taught Dean moves and different ways to fight, amazed by the Omega's adeptness at learning and how fast he picked up the skills.

     In return, Dean taught him a few things of his own.

     He taught Castiel how to fight, hard and dirty and close-up, with fists and feet instead of knives and wings. He saw the wings as an advantage but also a disadvantage, said they were like massive targets that could easily be shot at or injured.

     Castiel, for his part, was amazed by how much Dean knew.

     The Omega seemed to become another person when he was fighting. He was confident, fast, smart. He didn't second-guess himself, didn't wonder what his 'Master' would think. He just fought, and he was very good at it.

     It all came to a screeching halt one night.

     Castiel returned home from training tired and grumpy. They'd had a new batch of soldiers and he'd had to spend the day disciplining them instead of training with them. He was at the end of his rope and ready to relax at home with Dean.

     All thoughts of dinner flew from his head when he walked into the house.

     Normally, it would smell of cooking food or content Omega when he walked in, and he'd find Dean cleaning or cooking something in the kitchen.

     Today, the scent that hit him made him growl. Dean was nowhere in sight.

     Omega. In heat.

     Castiel shut the door a little harder than necessary and set his bag down.

     "Dean!" he shouted. His voice was rougher than normal, and he covered his nose with his shirt to partially block the scent. He couldn't do something stupid, not today. He couldn't afford to break the fragile thing called trust that he had built up with Dean these past weeks.

     There was no sound, no answer. Panic, anger, protectiveness, and worry all surged through Castiel, a wave of emotions so strong he almost staggered.

     Quit thinking with you knot. Where would he be?

     Castiel glanced around and stopped. The door to the basement was ajar.

     Suddenly filled with a horrible, sinking feeling, Castiel headed that way, his steps quick and quiet.

     He went down the stairs fast, the scent of desperate Omega growing. When he reached the bottom, he glanced around and spotted Dean.

     The Omega was curled up against the far wall, shaking and sweating, caught in what must have been the first throes of his heat. Not intense yet, but getting there.

     "Dean," Castiel growled.

     The Omega whimpered something that sounded distinctly like Alpha.

     Castiel stalked forward and knelt beside the Omega, forcing himself to be calm.

     "Dean, what are you doing down here?" he demanded.

     "'S. . .  where I. . . where I belong," Dean panted, sweat shining on his forehead. He shivered.

     "What do you mean?" Castiel demanded, feeling anger rush through his veins. He knew, he just knew that that bastard Alistair was the reason behind Dean lying in the corner of a freezing basement, shaking like a leaf.

     "Haven' had heat in. . . in forever. 'M sorry," Dean moaned. He panted, curling tighter in on himself. "When I firs'. . . stayed with Alistair. . . he gave me pills an' locked me in the basement."

     "He gave you heat pills and locked you in the basement by yourself?" Castiel demanded, rage making his vision tint red.

     "Didn' wanna deal with. . . with Omega in heat," Dean panted. "'M sorry. Won' make any noise, promise."

     Castiel gritted his teeth, the rage not dissipating like normal. He was angry with everything right now. Angry at society, for allowing Omegas to be treated in this way. Angry at Alistair, who had hurt Dean so deeply that he thought Castiel wouldn't want him in his time of need. Angry at himself, for being away and not expressing himself beforehand.

     Dean started to whimper, and Castiel realized that the Omega thought he was angry at him. He immediately softened, placing his hand on Dean's forehead. The Omega leaned into the touch, eyes closed.

     "I'm going to go make a call," Castiel told him. "I'll be right back. Please stay here."
     Dean whined in response. Even though it went against every primal instinct he had, Castiel got up and turned his back on the Omega, heading up the stairs. 

     Once he got out of the basement and the smell of Omega in heat wasn't so strong, Castiel hurried to the phone and called his superior.

     "Zachariah?" he asked.

     "Yes? Castiel, is that you?"

     "Yes. I won't be able to make it into the base for a week," Castiel said.

     "What? Castiel, we have a new batch of recruits. They need you to train them," Zachariah protested.

     Castiel took a deep breath. "Zachariah, my Omega is in heat. I need to take a week off."
     Silence at the other end.

     Then the other angel sighed. "Fine. I'll call your brother and have Michael fill in."

     Relief, so strong Castiel's knees felt weak, surged through him. "Thank you, Zachariah."
     "Of course. Take care of your Omega."

     The call ended.

     Take care of your Omega.

     Castiel put the phone down and turned back to the basement, shoulders set. 

     Take care of your Omega.

     Yes, he most certainly would.

Chapter Text

     Fifteen

 

     The pain was suffocating.

     It wasn't pain like Dean was used to, the sharp, clear pain of a bruise, cut, or broken bone. It was a hazy, awful pain that infiltrated his entire body and made him want to throw himself off the nearest cliff.

     Even if he'd been anywhere near a cliff, Dean couldn't have moved anyway.

     He moaned and shifted slightly, hating the way the heat on his skin tingled. He hated everything right now. All he wanted to do was curl up in the softest thing he could find, something that smelled of honey and thunderstorms. . .

     He groaned, dropping his head to the cement floor. It was cold and hard, painful against Dean's sensitive skin. He closed his eyes, desperately wishing for. . . for something. Anything, right now. Water. A blanket to lay on. It hurt to lay on the cement.

     And he really, really wanted his Alpha.

     No, the Alpha. Not his Alpha. Castiel wasn't his Alpha. No matter how much Dean wished it was true.

     And then, like a miracle or a a gift from God, Castiel appeared in front of him. He knelt down, his scent enveloping Dean. It eased the pain slightly, and his inner Omega calmed. His Alpha was here.

     "Dean," Castiel was saying. "Dean, please, I need you to tell me if you can hear me."

     Dean moaned, hoping that was a good enough response.

     "Dean, I need to ask you something," Castiel said. "Please, listen."

     "Listening," Dean ground out, closing his eyes against the suddenly too-bright lights.

     Castiel breathed a sigh of relief. "Dean, I need you to tell me if you really want this. Do you really want me to mate you? And think past the heat, please, if you can. I don't want to hurt you like your old Alpha."

     You could never hurt me like him.

     Dean shivered, suddenly freezing cold. He whimpered as Castiel pulled away slightly, distancing himself by a few feet.

     "Dean, please. I can get you a fake knot and stay with you and promise not to touch you, if that's what you really want."

     Do I really want this?

     Dean's immediate, Omega response was yes. But his survival instinct told him to stop and think.

     Did he really want to be bound to this Alpha for however long he decided to keep him? What if Castiel was like Alistair, nice until they were mated and then he turned into a raging asshole? What if Castiel was worse?

     But Castiel had done things that Alistair, even when he was pretending to be nice, would never have done. He taught him to fight, encouraged him to eat and rest, praised him for the work he did. He never yelled, and he seemed to get angry when Dean talked about how Alistair had mistreated him. Of course, that could just be anger at being reminded that Dean hadn't always been his.

     But would Dean take that chance? His inner Omega and his heart screamed that he should. But the Dean from before, the one that had been buried for so long by the need to survive, said no.

     He didn't want to be tied to a possible asshole for life because of a stupid, desperate mistake. So Dean resolved that no, he didn't want this. Maybe later, maybe when he had his head on right and he wasn't ready to mate anything that moved. 

     But for now, no.

     "No," Dean puffed out. "No."

     Castiel looked relieved. "No? Okay. I'm going to take you upstairs, and I'm going to give you the fake knot, okay? I had an Omega brother. He forced me to keep an extra one just in case, but it's never been used."
     Dean moaned and shifted slightly again, the cement floor digging into his sensitive skin.

     Suddenly, strong arms were looping under him, lifting him easily off the harsh cement floor. Dean whimpered and burrowed into Castiel's warm, powerful chest, the ache eased slightly by the touch and scent of his Alpha.

     Castiel was moving.

     They were going up the basement stairs. Or was it the stairs to the upper floor? Dean couldn't remember. Everything was a haze of heat and pain and need.

     He was set down on something. It was soft, but not nearly soft enough, and it smelled wrong. It smelled like apple pie and cinnamon, like Dean, and Dean hated it. He wanted desperately to be up a few feet higher, curled in Castiel's nest instead of his makeshift bed of blankets and pillows, but he knew that would be overstepping his bounds.

     "I'm sorry I can't put you in my nest," Castiel murmured quietly, as if reading Dean's mind. "It's just. . . if I saw you up there. . . "

     Dean understood. If he were enveloped in the Alpha's scent, he might just take back his decision.

     Still. . .

     "Please," Dean moaned. "Please."

     Castiel seemed to know what he was asking for. He disappeared for a few horrifying, panic-inducing minutes, then returned with a fake knot in hand.

     "Here," Castiel said. "I'll be nearby. I just. . . I can't be in the same room. Please understand, Dean. This is for your safety as well as mine."

     Dean couldn't really respond, too focused on stripping down to really understand what was being said. 

     All he knew was that a few seconds later, the Alpha was gone.

 

     The heat lasted five days, which was about the same length as it had been before Dean had been enslaved and his heats had stopped coming. Castiel stayed mostly out of the room those days, bringing Dean water and food when he thought he needed it and jacking off in the shower when he didn't.

     The day after Dean's heat was over, he couldn't move, so sore and tired from the ordeal of five days. The Omega's body was also worn out from the stress of not having an Alpha while going through the heat. As a result, Dean could barely lift water to his lips.

     The seventh day, Dean was able to move around, but Castiel insisted on him staying in bed. The next day, the angel had to apologetically go back to the angel military base, making Dean promise to take it easy.

     Dean felt much better, so he got out of his filthy sheets, took a long, hot shower, and did the laundry. He ended up not having energy to do much else after that, so he rearranged his bed in the corner and made a small lunch for himself. By the time Castiel got home, he was worn out.     

     The Alpha didn't say much about it, just dutifully ate the meager dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches that Dean had provided.

     The next day, Dean got his energy back. The routine from before continued as if Dean's heat had never happened.

     Except it had. Dean slept on the ground in his little bed now. And the fake knot was put in a box in the closet, easily accessible for the next cycle in three weeks.

     Still, that didn't mean they had to talk about it. And they didn't.

     Neither Alpha nor Omega went anywhere near the subject.

     Then, the Friday before Castiel's day off, the angel mentioned something that intrigued Dean.

     "Tomorrow, I was thinking we could go to town and get some groceries and things," Castiel said, poking at his pot roast. 

     Dean hesitated, then ventured to ask, "Together, sir?"

     "Yes," Castiel said, looking up at him with faint amusement in his blue eyes. "I should think that's what the term 'we' implies."

     Dean flushed and looked down at his dinner. "Of course, sir."

     Castiel took a bite. "I was hoping I could take you to the market and you could pick out foods you wanted to buy, instead of being forced to cook with whatever I've managed to provide," he said.

     Dean nodded, his mind conjuring up recipes and lists of ingredients he would look for. It all came to a screeching halt when he went to take a bite and his collar shifted on his neck.

     "But. . . sir, I'm a slave. I can't. . . it would look strange," Dean said quietly.

     "I should hope the judgments of others don't affect you," Castiel said sternly. When Dean ducked his head, the angel softened. "But you would be going as my Omega. For the trip, at least."

     Dean flushed an even deeper red. They hadn't talked about anything close to the heat Dean had had the previous week.

     "Your mate, sir?"

     "No! God, no," Castiel rushed out. "I wouldn't force you to do that."

     Dean flushed even deeper, ducking his head in embarrassment. He knew Castiel hadn't meant it, but the hurried rejection had hurt.

     Why? Why does it hurt? You refused him just five days ago.

     Dean didn't say anything as Castiel continued.

     "You would just be the Omega I was. . . say, courting. Would you be alright with that? Or do you just want to wear your collar and go to certain stores?" he asked.

     "No, it's fine," Dean choked out, his throat burning with the words he wished he could say. "Really. I can't wait."

     "Great!" Castiel said. He was evidently excited, and it would be very selfish and wrong of Dean to make this about himself by saying what he wanted too.

     "When are we going?" he asked, forcing a pleased smile to his face.

     "Tomorrow, after breakfast," Castiel said. He smiled. "It will be fun."

     Dean smiled back, the strain of it showing slightly in his mouth and eyes. "I'm sure."

 

Chapter Text

     Sixteen

 

     The next morning, Castiel was up earlier than Dean. The Omega was mortified and wouldn't stop spewing apologies about not being awake before the angel, no matter how many times Castiel tried to tell him otherwise.

     The Alpha allowed him to make breakfast, knowing it was the only way to let Dean "make it up to him".

     After eating a satisfying breakfast of French Toast and bacon, Castiel explained the plan to Dean.

     "We're going to get you some more clothes, some that you like," Castiel said. Dean looked horrified.

     "No, sir, that's alright. I already have more than enough clothes. More than I've. . . more than I've ever had, actually."

     Castiel frowned. "Well, I think you still need more. Five shirts and three pairs of pants is not enough," he said. "We also need to get some more food, which you can help me with."

     "Okay," Dean agreed, still sounding skeptical about the clothes.

     "We'll also need to act like mates," Castiel said, frowning slightly. "That means you can't call me 'sir'. Okay? Just Castiel or. . . or Alpha."
     They both winced at that last word, suddenly keen on avoiding eye contact with each other.

     Castiel cleared his throat. "Alright. Get dressed, and we'll go."

     "Are we taking. . . are we taking a car?" Dean asked.

     Castiel paused, realizing that Dean had only flown once and it hadn't ended well.

     "I can land us somewhere without anyone around until you're. . . steadier," he said. "Sorry, but I don't have a car."

     "You don't have a car? What happens if. . . I don't know, you run out of juice?" Dean asked, momentarily forgetting the formality of calling Castiel 'sir'.

     "If I run out of grace? I guess I just pray it doesn't happen," Castiel replied, frowning. He had never really thought of it that way.

     Dean snorted. "What do you do, pray to yourself?"

     There was a pause.

     Then Castiel burst out laughing, shocked by the depth and volume of his mirth. It was the first genuine laugh he had shared in a really, really long time.

     Dean was laughing too, though his laughter was a little more nervous and halting, as if he wasn't sure if he should be laughing at all.

     "You are funny, Omega," Castiel gasped, wiping tears from his eyes. "You should make jokes more often."

     Dean smiled a little. "I think. . . I think I was funny. Before. . . before I was a slave."

     The words make Castiel pause.

     I think I was funny before.

     They sent a strange reaction through him. Again, the old ways of thinking ran through his head. Of course, Omegas should serve. Right? But this. . . to forget a part of yourself. . . it was something entirely new.

     I think I was funny.

     Castiel frowned, looking down at his empty plate. If Omegas were 'meant to serve', how far did that really extend? To slavery? To forgetting that you used to be able to make jokes without the fear of being beaten?

     Before.

     Did there have to be a before? Would society really be so hurt as to allow Omegas to be free?

     The answer, Castiel knew, was no. But did that stop people and angels from going along with the same stereotypes and opinions put forth? Also no.

     Castiel sighed, resolving to think deeper on the subject later. He got up, helped Dean with the dishes, and got dressed in a jacket and jeans.

     Dean dressed too, wearing the soft gray sweatshirt and blue jeans Castiel had bought him. He looked stunning, but Castiel didn't tell him that. 

     "Ready?" Castiel asked, holding out his hand. Dean nodded, already looking faintly sick.

     Castiel grinned and grabbed his hand, closing his eyes and summoning his wings.

     In a flash and a flutter of wings, both Alpha and Omega were gone.

 

     They landed around fifty yards from the main street that would take them to the market.

     Dean immediately let go of Castiel's hand and leaned against the brick wall, vomiting up the delicious breakfast he had made just an hour before.

     Castiel waited, volleying between wanting to rub Dean's back sympathetically and wanting to turn away to give him privacy.

     He decided on the latter, realizing that the previous would be inappropriate.

     Dean stopped after a few heaves and wiped at his mouth, looking much better. "Sorry, sir," he said meekly.

     "None of that," Castiel scolded gently. "And remember? You're supposed to call me Castiel."

     "Right," Dean said, suddenly looking sick again.

     Castiel put his hand awkwardly on Dean's shoulder. "Come on, Omega. Relax. This will be fun."

     Dean didn't reply, but he looked like he was trying to keep the remaining parts of his breakfast down.

     The angel chuckled and led them out of the alley, out into the bright sunlight.

     Dean's shoulders relaxed under Castiel's hand, his head turning up to the sun as if on impulse.

     For a moment, Castiel was shocked into silence. 

     Dean was so beautiful in the sunlight. His dark blond hair turned a golden brown, his forest eyes turned a shocking emerald green. The smile that lit his face seemed to make him look younger and lighter, like those years of slavery had never happened-

     He had freckles.

     Hundreds of little spots on his cheeks and nose, little freckles that Castiel wanted to count and cherish and kiss-

     He shut the train of thought down as fast as humanly possible.

     No use thinking those kinds of thoughts. He looked away, trying not to focus on the way the corners of Dean's eyes crinkled.

     "Are we going?" Dean asked.

     Castiel realized they had been standing in the same place for a while. Without thinking, he took Dean's hand.

     "Let's go," he said.

     The angel led the Omega to the market.

Chapter Text

 

     Seventeen

 

     Dean's mind was going haywire.

     As they entered the market, a wave of colors, sounds, and smells assaulted him. He balked, his brain trying to process the sudden tide of sensation.

     His right hand was squeezed gently, and Dean was brought back to earth. He looked up at Castiel, who was watching him with an almost-imperceptible line of worry between his eyebrows.

     "Breathe," Castiel murmured.

     Dean nodded, inhaling shakily. The colors came into focus, and he glanced around, his eyes widening in awe.

     The market was huge.

     Stalls lined a broad avenue, some spread on blankets on the cobbled street, some in actual wagons and tables. Peddlers sold everything from lavender perfume to the lightest silver sword you could possibly wish for.

     "How do you find anything?" Dean murmured, eyes following a Beta walking past with a basket loaded with roses.

     "I follow my nose," Castiel replied.

     Dean snorted.

     The market was full of new smells. Some came from the Alphas, Betas, and Omegas walking past. Most came from the wares being sold, the food and flowers and other things that they passed by.

     Dean eyed a stall with meat hanging from it and tugged lightly on Castiel's hand. "S-I mean, Castiel?"

     "Yes?"

     To Dean, the word Castiel felt foreign on his tongue. The angel, however, acted as if nothing had happened.

     "Can we-I wanted to make you some steak," Dean said. He wondered if he was overstepping his bounds. Would Castiel punish him here, in public, or at home? And would it be-

     "Sure," Castiel said. He dragged Dean over to the stall. "Go ahead and choose what you like."

     The salesperson was an Alpha, and he eyed Dean warily. However, as his eyes traveled down his arm to where it was linked to Castiel's, he relaxed.

     Dean ended up timidly choosing a few cuts of meat. The seller put them in a basket and handed them to Castiel, who in turn passed it to Dean. The Omega grabbed the basket, smiling gratefully up at Castiel.

     "What next?" the Alpha asked as they headed away from the stall.

     "I don't know," Dean admitted as he looked around, staring at all the different varieties of people and wares.

     "Oh, I know! There's a stall a little ways down that I think you'll love," Castiel said. His ocean eyes were bright with excitement, and Dean found himself spontaneously laughing at the happiness in their depths.

     Castiel tugged the Omega along, grinning like a maniac.

     They came to a stop in front of a stall that smelled a little like Castiel.

     Honey.

     There were a few wooden boxes on the table beside the Beta selling the honey, and the rest of the jars and sticks of honey were on another table. Dean leaned close to the boxes when he heard a soft buzzing from inside.

     "What are those, Cas?" he asked.

     The angel grinned. "That's where the bees are. Hear them buzzing?"

     Dean listened, smiling at Castiel to confirm that he could hear the noise.

     "Are you and your Omega here to buy some honey?" the Beta asked.

     "Yes," Castiel replied. He frowned at the stall. "Do you want a jar?"

     "Sure," Dean said. Castiel grabbed a jar of honey and two sticks of it, then placed the required amount of money on the table beside the wares.

     "Will that be all?" the Beta asked.

     "Yes, thank you," Dean replied.

     The Beta glanced at him briefly, as if assessing his worth with her eyes alone. Then she turned back to Castiel, waiting expectantly.

     "My Omega answered you," Castiel said softly, his voice taking on a dangerous tone Dean had never heard before. "I believe that's answer enough."

     The Beta nodded, looking annoyed. "Of course. Have a nice day."

     Castiel growled faintly, softly, and Dean forced himself to stay neutral as he put the honey in the basket with the meat. The Alpha glared at the Beta for a few more seconds, then dragged Dean away.

     As soon as they were away, Castiel sighed. "I apologize."

     Dean frowned at him, uncomprehending. "I get it all the time," he said. "It's fine."

     "It's not," Castiel growled.

     Dean pulled out the honey sticks, trying to divert the Alpha's attention. Castiel's gaze softened and he took one of the sticks, showing Dean how to tear off the small lid.

     "You tip it back and suck it out, like a straw," Castiel instructed. "It will stick a little at first, then it will all come rushing into your mouth."

     Following what the angel had done, Dean tore off the lid and tipped the honey stick back, sucking as he saw Castiel doing.

     For a moment, nothing happened.

     Then thick, sweet honey flowed into Dean's mouth more forcefully than he expected. He downed most of it in one surprised swallow.

     Dean finished and looked at Castiel, surprise written on his face.

     The angel burst out laughing at Dean's face, doubling over with mirth for the second time that morning. A few passing Betas in a group looked at them strange, but Dean was too busy laughing himself to really care.

     "It's surprising the first time, isn't it?" Castiel asked.

     "Yes," Dean breathed, catching his breath. "Yes, it is."
     Castiel laughed again and took Dean's hand, the action as smooth and effortless as it would have been if they really were mates.

     For a moment, Dean found himself wishing.

     He pushed the emotions away, knowing it could never happen. After all, Castiel still held his slave papers. What kind of a mated pair would they make?

     Still, the light in Castiel's eyes was too bright and happy to resist. 

     One afternoon, Dean promised himself. I'll be selfish for one afternoon.

     He smiled at Castiel when the Alpha looked back at him, then followed him through the street.

     "Come on," Castiel said, grinning. "We still have half the market to get through!"

     Dean laughed. "Right behind you, Cas."

     The Alpha and Omega continued through the market together.

 

     They made it three feet before things started to go wrong.

     Of course they did. Of course.

     Dean didn't really know what happened. All he knew was that one second he was holding tight to Castiel's hand, and the next he was being pulled away.

     He hit something cold and hard with a hard thump, grunting in pain as stars flew across his vision.

     When it cleared, Dean froze.

     Three Alphas were standing before him, grinning like maniacs. They were big. Bigger than Dean remembered his brother Sammy being. Bigger than he was, for sure.

     Dean glanced around wildly, but Castiel was nowhere to be seen.

     He turned back to the Alphas, suppressing his fear as hard as he could. No use letting them know he was afraid.

     "Hello, pretty," one of the growled. He had huge, thick eyebrows that threw shadows across his face. It would be comical if he wasn't six four and two hundred pounds heavier than Dean.

     "What the fuck is this?" Dean spat, some of his old fire coming back. How dare these freaks grab him from the middle of a crowded market?

     Just a little longer. Stall until Cas gets here.

     Dean swallowed past his fear, throwing his shoulders back.

     "Mouthy, aren't you?" the Alpha on the right asked. He had a mouth like a harsh line, as if someone had taken a knife and hacked the outline of it across his face. His eyes were cold and cruel. "Don't worry, we know how to shut you up."

     "Fuck you," Dean replied, resisting the urge to back into the wall as the Alpha on the left, an ugly brute with a large, Neanderthal forehead, stepped toward him.

     "I can stuff that pretty mouth of yours real nice," he grunted, his voice a deep, savage baritone.

     He stepped close, only a few inches between him and Dean, and the Omega moved.

     Years of training had made him fast, working with Castiel had made him strong. He swung hard, his fist connecting with the Alpha's nose with a satisfyingly painful crunch.

     The Alpha roared loud enough to provoke the interest of a few passerby and fell to his knees, blood spurting out from between the hands he clasped to his face.

     Dean had a split second to revel in his victory before he was being slammed up against the wall again, this time by the cold-eyed Alpha.

     The punch came so fast, he didn't have time to brace himself, and his head smacked back against the brick of the wall. Stars flared across Dean's vision, and then he was being punched again. And again.

     Warm blood ran down his face from his nose. He opened his eyes a crack to see the cruel Alpha winding up to punch him again.

     He froze, his fist halfway to Dean's face.

     Dean opened his eyes wider, searching for the reason the Alpha's eyes had suddenly gone wide. He found him standing a few feet away.

     "You have three seconds to get your hands off my Omega before I run you through with this." The voice was soft and dangerous, dark and deep and full of the promise of savage violence. Dean shivered in fear.

     Eyebrows was staring at Castiel like he was the embodied wrath of God. The angel looked it, too.

     His ridiculous trench coat and suit did nothing to downplay the absolute power and dominance emanating from him. If anything, it amplified it. Great black wings had appeared, their feathers flared in an angry, aggressive stance. An angel blade the size of Dean's forearm was poking at the back of the Alpha pinning him. His blue eyes were filled with cold fire.

     The Alpha slowly stepped back, releasing Dean, who slumped against the wall. The cruel-eyed Alpha turned angrily to Eyebrows.

     "I thought you said it was unmated," the Alpha hissed. Eyebrows swallowed thickly and glanced at Dean, who could still feel blood running down his face.

     "Uh-I. . . I don't-I-"

     "You're going to follow me," Castiel rumbled. "You're going to put down that ridiculous toothpick you're hiding in your sleeve, and you're going to follow me down the side street until I say to stop."

     The unmistakable tint of Alpha in Castiel's voice almost made Dean follow him. But it wasn't the actual Alpha Voice, it was meant to assert dominance, not to order an already-submissive Omega around.

     The two Alphas slowly got up. The cold-eyed one dropped a knife from his sleeve and put his hands in the air. Eyebrows copied him, and they both walked past Dean, deeper into the alley.

     Dean swallowed, wondering if he should follow Castiel.

     His question was answered a few short seconds later, when an agonized scream was cut off suddenly. There was a loud thump. Then another scream, more muffled this time, and another thump.

     Silence.

     Dean swallowed, straightening and trying to regain his balance. He was dizzy. Nausea flowed through him suddenly, so strong he bent over and nearly wobbled to his knees.

     Nearly.

     Strong hands caught his shoulders, holding him up in a gentle grip. Nausea and pain suddenly numbed.

     Dean sucked in a breath.

     Something warm and gentle and good was flowing through his body, reaching its tendrils for the tips of his fingers, toes, and head. He opened his eyes, sure his skin must be glowing, and found Castiel looking down at him.

     The warm, pleasant feeling went away, taking any pain or nausea with it.

     "Dean, are you alright?" the angel demanded, kneeling at Dean's level.

     "I-yeah, I'm okay, but-what-I didn't-what was that?" the Omega asked.

     Castiel flushed slightly, looking away. "It's. . . it's called an angel's grace. Like our power. I can heal you," he said.

     Dean blinked. "Oh. Why didn't you use that on me before? When. . . when I was hurt?" he asked.

     Castiel flushed an even deeper red. "Well. . . it's very draining. It requires much of my grace, and I didn't want to get stuck, as you said, without grace. But. . . well, I wasn't thinking, and you were very hurt-"

     "You healed me without thinking?" Dean asked.

     "It was. . . more of an instinct," Castiel hedged, turning even redder. The Omega decided to let him off the hook, straightening. It was only then that he realized the Alpha he'd punched was lying dead on the floor at their feet.

     "What did you do?" the Omega asked.

     Castiel looked down, as if mildly surprised the Alpha was still there.

     "Oh, I killed him easily. And then I took the other two down the alley and cut their penises off before killing them," he said.

     Dean stared at the angel. After a moment, he realized his mouth must be hanging open and he shut it, embarrassed.

     "What?" Castiel asked.

     "You. . . you did what?" Dean asked softly.

     "I cut their penises off and killed them," the angel replied calmly, wiping his blade off on the dead Alpha's shirt. "Some bartender is going to get a nasty surprise when they try to dump the trash tonight."

     Dean felt like screaming, vomiting, and hysterically laughing all at once.

     "Why?" he forced out.

     Castiel looked at him, frowning as if it were a stupid question. "Because no one touches my Omega."

     As if that cleared everything up, Castiel put his blade away, kicked the dead Alpha aside, casually grabbed Dean's hand, and led the Omega out of the dark alley and into the light of the sun.

Chapter Text

     Eighteen

 

     Despite the three bastards that had tried to hurt Dean, the afternoon was perfect.

     Of course, that meant that something else had to come along and ruin it.

     More trouble came in the form of a familiar face. Castiel didn't see him at first, but Dean, the ever-observant Omega, did.

     "Do you know that guy? He's staring at you," the Omega murmured. Castiel looked up from the counter where he was buying vegetables and his heart sank.

     "Shit," he murmured.

     Dean looked at him, shocked that the language had come from his mouth. Castiel normally didn't swear.

     If he'd had the time, Castiel would have pulled Dean away and disappeared into the crowd, but as fate would have it, he'd looked right into the angel's eyes.

     "Who is that?" Dean asked.

     "Michael," Castiel grumbled. "My brother."

     "What's the matter? Don't you like him?"

     "My brother and I. . . don't get along. And he has very traditional views on how to treat Omegas," Castiel explained.

     Dean seemed to shrink, stepping closer to Castiel and glancing over at the stall fearfully. "Oh." 

     "We should go," Castiel murmured.

     "You can't avoid him," Dean replied, almost indignantly. "That would really piss him off."

     As much as Castiel just wanted to grab Dean and run, he knew the Omega had a point. He ground his teeth together.

     "Fine. But don't talk, if you can," Castiel said. "And. . . address me as 'Alpha', alright?"

     Dean nodded, already shrinking back into the submissive Omega slave he had been that morning.

     Castiel took a deep breath, grabbed Dean by the wrist, and stalked over to the stall, already slipping into the role of the Alpha brother Michael was so used to.

     In hindsight, he definitely should have warned Dean.

     Michael sneered at Castiel as the angel came closer.

     "Hello, Castiel. What's that whore you have with you?" he asked.

     "My sorry excuse for an Omega," Castiel replied, the words burning in his throat.

     He could feel Dean flinch beside him.

     "The one you took a week off for? You know, you can just throw those in a basement with some water and leave them there, right?" Michael asked, his eyes narrowing cruelly at Dean.

     "Yes," Castiel said. He swallowed, his next words sticking in his throat. "I was thinking of doing that instead of missing work."

     "Good, good," Michael said. Dean had flinched into Castiel's side, the air smelling faintly of scared Omega. Castiel's inner Alpha snarled at him to fix it. What the fuck was wrong with him?

     The archangel frowned at Dean. "Chin down more, you filthy whore. Don't you know how to submit to your Alpha?" he growled.

     Dean flinched and ducked his head, the action smooth and well-practiced. With a flash of horror, Castiel realized that Dean had probably gone through this many times with Alistair.

     "Don't you know to speak when you're spoken to?" he growled softly, tightening his grip on the Omega's arm. A soft sound fell from Dean's lips.

     "S-Sorry, Alpha," he whispered.

     Michael snorted in disgust. "He stutters? That's something that you'll have to train out of him, Castiel. A belt should work."

     "Yes," Castiel agreed, feeling faintly sick. "Yes, that could work."

     Dean had stopped flinching into his side now. Now, he was standing as far away from Castiel as he could without looking too obvious. He had shrunk in on himself, folding his shoulders in and ducking his head.

     "I'm sure you have things to be doing, brother," Michael said. He sighed and gestured at his stall. "I'm on the recruiting shift today, so I'm stuck here for a few more hours."

     "My sympathies," Castiel replied. He directed Dean away, shoving him forcefully toward the other end of the street.

     "I will see you soon, Castiel."

     "You too, Michael. Good luck recruiting."

     Michael and Castiel saluted each other. Castiel grabbed Dean by the wrist, his grip bruising, and directed the Omega down the street.

     Dean was shaking.

     "Just a little longer, sweetheart," Castiel murmured, near silent so Michael couldn't hear him. "I promise, none of that was real."

     Dean shuddered, surprised, in his grip. 

     Once they were a few blocks away and Castiel was sure his brother's piercing gaze was off of them, he pulled Dean into a side street. That led to an empty park, the usual residents gone as a result of the snow they'd been getting.

     "Dean? Are you alright?" Castiel asked.

     Dean stared up at him, shock and disbelief written on his handsome face.

     "A-Alpha?"

     Castiel's heart shattered.

     He pulled Dean to his chest and wrapped his arms around him, a purely instinctual act. He didn't care, however, when Dean collapsed against him and buried his face in Castiel's shoulder, his shoulders shaking.

     "You don't have to call me that anymore, Dean. It was just for show. It's alright, I promise that wasn't real," Castiel said, rubbing soothing circles on Dean's back. The Omega was still shaking badly, his chest hitching against Castiel's every few seconds.

     Castiel closed his eyes, hating that he had been the cause of his Omega's pain. Michael was a sick bastard, and Castiel knew that if he ever displayed anything but disgust toward Omegas, the archangel would find a way to hurt Dean. 

     Castiel opened his eyes and looked down at Dean. A flash of purple on golden skin caught his eye, and he gently disentangled Dean's wrist from where it was trapped between their bodies.

     There were finger marks on the tan, beautiful skin, already turning purple with bruises.

     Guilt filled Castiel like a flash-flood. His knees felt weak, so he gently guided Dean to one of the benches nearby and sat down in it with him.

     The sight of the bruises on Dean's skin made Castiel feel sick. He resisted the urge to just will them away with his grace, knowing they would have to wait a while to get home if he used it again.

     Without thinking, he pressed his lips gently on the wrist with the bruises, his lips putting soft pressure on the hot, swollen skin.

     Dean's breath hitched. He looked at Castiel with wide, shocked green eyes.

     "A-Alpha?" he asked again. The fact that he was still calling Castiel that title sent a myriad of emotions running through the angel, but he ignored them for the time being.

     "Yes?" Castiel asked, looking seriously into Dean's tearful eyes.

     "Alpha, I'm sorry," Dean whispered. He ducked his head. "Please, I-I'm sorry."

     Castiel sighed and tucked the Omega's head into his shoulder again, puffing out a breath that floated white in the early winter afternoon.

     "It's not your fault," Castiel said quietly. "It was mine. I don't mean it, Omega. None of it. Please, please, don't think it was your fault, sweetheart."

     Dean sniffled. "B-But-"

     "No." Castiel cut him off. "No. It's not your fault. You did nothing wrong."     

     "Okay," Dean said quietly. He tucked himself closer to Castiel's body, curling his legs up on the bench. "Can we go home now?"

     "Yes," Castiel breathed, brushing his nose through the top of the Omega's soft brown hair. "Yes, we can."

     He would finish the shopping later. Today had been busy, and Michael and the three Alphas in the alley had ruined their trip. It was time to go home and feed Dean, then maybe get him to sleep.

     Sighing, Castiel brought his wings into the physical plane, keeping his arms wrapped tight around his-

     The Omega.

     He closed his eyes and they disappeared.

 

Chapter Text

     Nineteen

 

     Dean was so tired, he didn't even feel the usual nausea that came with flying. He just slumped, boneless, against Castiel.

     The angel insisted on making Dean a sloppy, well-meant ham sandwich, then made the Omega go to sleep. Once Dean was curled tight in his bed of blankets and pillows, the angel left to finish the shopping.     

     Dean woke some time later, slightly confused. Castiel had drawn the curtains against the afternoon sun, and the house was silent when Dean called for the Alpha.

     Feeling guilty about how he'd behaved at the market, Dean did his best to whip up a delicious dinner, struggling to manage cooking the steak and cleaning the rugs at the same time. At some point, he tried to pull the biscuits from the oven with the plastic gloves he'd been using to beat the rugs, burning his hands badly in the process.

     Hissing in pain as he ran his hands under cold water, Dean struggled to pull the melted plastic off. When he'd finished, he set the table and hurried to get the steak out before it became too dry.

     By the time dinner was done and keeping warm in the oven, Dean's wrist was hurting. His back was throbbing, too, and he tried to work through it. He almost collapsed when he bent over to retrieve a napkin that had fallen to the floor, and he had to hold on to the edge of the table until his vision cleared.

     When it had, he finished setting the table and put the rugs back in place, wincing at his burnt hands.

     Castiel came home not fifteen seconds later.

     "Hello, sir," Dean greeted. "How was the market?"

     "Good," Castiel replied, looking around. "When did you wake up?"

     "A few hours ago," Dean answered, taking the bags from Castiel. He was about to turn away when the Alpha grabbed his wrist.

     The bruised one. Dean winced slightly.

     "What's that?" Castiel asked, pulling at Dean's hand. Dean swallowed wetly and put the bag down, then showed Castiel his palms guiltily.

     The angel's breath hitched. "What's this?"

     "I burned myself pulling the food out of the oven, sir. It's nothing," Dean replied, ducking his head slightly.

     The Alpha growled with displeasure. "I have some burn cream. We should go over your injuries again."

     "After dinner, sir. I'm sure you're tired, and it's ready in the oven," Dean suggested.

     Castiel narrowed his eyes at the Omega for a moment, then gave in with a sigh. "After dinner."

     Dean nodded and led the Alpha into the dining room, the bags lying forgotten in the hall. With Castiel seated at the table and the food set out, Dean went and got the bags dropped them off in the kitchen, and then sat down at the table across from Castiel.

     "Thank you for dinner, Dean. It looks amazing," Castiel remarked. Blood flushed Dean's cheeks, the praise making him duck his head.

     "Thank you, sir."

     He spread some of the honey they'd gotten that day on the hot biscuits, taking a bite and smiling at the taste. It was perfect.

     Castiel, apparently, thought so too. His eyes rolled back in his head and he made a practically sinful noise, chewing the steak appreciatively. "This is amazing."

     Again, the praise made Dean blush. He looked down at his food, smiling softly.

     Dinner progressed. Dean learned that Castiel's favorite supplier of hamburger meat had been injured on the job and wasn't at the market that day, a fact the Alpha seemed genuinely sad about. But, on the bright side, he had found a new cheese seller who he'd really liked.

     Dean laughed and talked when appropriate, not really saying much. He was content to listen to Castiel talk the entire time. His blue eyes got bright when he talked about something he really enjoyed. Dean could watch him all day.

     Too soon, dinner was over. Dean cleared the plates and stalled doing the dishes, but he knew that Castiel was waiting for him to finish.

     When there was nothing left to do, Dean dragged himself up to the bedroom. He found Castiel sorting through a refill box for the First Aid Kit, resupplying the burn cream and bandages.

     The angel looked up as Dean entered the room.

     The Omega ducked his head and knelt down in front of Castiel. The angel finished what he was doing and gently instructed Dean to take off his shirt.

     The Omega did so, feeling fear begin to run its familiar course through his body.

     Castiel poked at his ribs, startling Dean. "You're gaining muscle," the angel remarked. "You aren't so skinny."

     "Is. . . is that a good thing, sir?" Dean asked quietly, worry bleeding into his scent.

     "Of course! You were skin and bones before," Castiel replied, smiling up at Dean reassuringly. He put his hand on the Omega's chest. "Breathe in."

     Dean did as he was told, finding himself wondering how Castiel knew what to do. He supposed that as an angel soldier, he had been forced to learn first aid.

     Dean obediently went through the motions of having his pulse checked, his wrist retied, and his lashes examined. What Castiel found seemed to please him. He grumbled good-naturedly and allowed Dean to put his shirt back on.

     "Sir?" Dean asked tentatively.

     "Yes?" Castiel replied, putting everything back in the box.

     "When. . . when am I going to go into heat again?" Dean asked. "And. . . and. . . "

     He couldn't finish his sentence. Castiel seemed to understand, however.

     "You'll probably have another heat in a week or so," the angel said, his voice gentle. "And I don't plan on locking you in the basement. I told you, what I said to Michael this afternoon wasn't true."

     Dean swallowed thickly. "Thank you, sir."

     Castiel looked at him sadly for a moment. Dean squirmed slightly, the weight of the angel's blue gaze resting heavily on him.

     Finally, the angel looked away and locked the box, putting it back in its place under the sink.

     Dean couldn't help thinking he'd disappointed Castiel again.

     He shoved the thought away and got ready for bed.

 

Chapter Text

     Twenty

 

     Castiel laid in his nest that night, wings outstretched.

     Normally, the feeling was nice. But tonight, he just felt. . . lonely.

     He sighed, listening to the steady breathing of the Omega a few feet away. The nest was just big enough for them both to fit, and the space would be comfortable and complete. They would both curl up in the pillows and Castiel would stretch his wings over them both-

     The angel stopped his thinking with a sigh.

     He knew, of course, why he was thinking such thoughts. Knew why Dean called him Alpha when he was scared and not thinking straight. Knew why he had really given up on the idea of treating Dean badly.

     It didn't help, knowing.

     The Omega would never allow it.

     Castiel sighed and sat up, realizing he would never get any sleep by himself.

     He climbed quietly out of bed, keeping his footsteps light and soundless. Dean had good senses, much as the Omega liked to downplay them.

     Castiel used his wings for balance as he tiptoed out of the room and down the stairs, deciding that he could at least do something productive with this sleeplessness.

     Only he couldn't focus on his report for Zachariah. His thoughts kept drifting to the sleeping human upstairs, the one that had changed his life in a few short weeks.

     Castiel sighed and put down the pen. He got up and opened the back door, not even feeling the biting cold of the winter wind as it whipped off the lake. The snow had stopped a few days ago, a thick layer on the ground. Castiel closed the door to the warm house, plopping down on one of the benches he had on the back porch.

     He remembered the urge to go to Lawrence, Kansas that fateful day when he'd met Dean. The noise the little Omega had made when he'd passed.

     Dean had known.

     And so had Castiel, in a way. When he'd looked down at the starved, beaten Omega, he had known.

     So why did I treat him so? Why did I hit him and leave him out in the cold?

     Unfortunately, Castiel knew that too. He shivered as a biting wind clawed at his bare arms.

     He had been. . . denying. In a way, he still was. And so was Dean.

     So we're just going to keep pretending forever?

     Castiel sighed.

     The wind off the lake was freezing. Castiel shivered again, wondering if he should go inside.

     A blanket, warm and fluffy, was draped over his shoulders. Castiel looked up, surprised to see that Dean had managed to sneak up on him.

     The Omega plopped down on the bench beside him and stared out into the darkness, the surface of the lake lit by the silver of the moon.

     "I wasn't that loud, was I?" Castiel asked.

     "No," Dean replied. "I just. . . felt it."

     Castiel sighed and looked at his hands, folded between his knees.

     "Dean, do you-"

     "I know, sir. I-I've known for a while."

     Castiel sat in silence. They sat and listened to the wind for a few more minutes. 

     "Then why do you keep calling me sir?" he finally asked.

     "Because I wasn't sure I could trust you. Honestly, sir, I'm still not sure."

     That hurt. It stung. But Castiel knew it was true. How could Dean be expected to trust him when he had willingly played along with Michael that morning? How could he trust the person who had left him out in the cold and threatened to beat him?

     "I know," Castiel finally sighed. "I know, and I'm sorry."

     "You knew?"

     Castiel chuckled. "I'm an angel, Dean. I knew before you did."

     He could feel the unasked question.

     "I treated you that way because. . . because I thought it was right. My mother. . . she raised my brothers. My Father was always absent. My mother had very traditional views of Omegas. She thought they should keep their heads down and serve. And I thought so too, until my younger brother presented as an Omega," Castiel admitted.

     "That doesn't make it right."

     There it was again. The quiet fire, the blaze of rebelliousness and personality, the don't-fuck-with-me that the Omega seemed to have buried inside of him. The quiet strength that Castiel had simultaneously sought and feared.

     "No," he amended. "No, it was never right. In a way, Dean, I was worse than Alistair. At least he had the sense to be honest about the way he was treating you."

     Castiel could hear the way the breath punched out of the Omega. He felt like he'd been sucker-punched too. It hurt to say those words. It hurt because they were true.

     Silence, again. Silence and the howling of the wind on the lake. Finally, Dean spoke again.

     "You have other brothers?"

     "Yes," Castiel laughed, a strangled, nervous sound. "I have five. And two sisters."

     "Whoa," Dean said. Castiel snorted.

     "Gabriel was the only Omega in our family. Luci, Michael, and I were the only Alphas. All the others, including Mother, were Betas. Our Father was a Beta himself. But Lucifer, Michael, and I were the pride of my mother. She disliked Gabriel very much.

     "He was a break from the stereotypical Omega. He was loud, sarcastic, opinionated, and he didn't take orders from Alphas unless we used our Alpha Voice. It was hilarious to watch my mother try to order him around," Castiel said.

     "He sounds kind of like me," Dean murmured. Castiel stared at him. Dean realized he'd spoken aloud and flushed. "I mean, before I stole from that store."

     "Why did you steal from the store?" Castiel asked.

     Dean sighed, looking at his hands. "I took care of my brother, Sam, when we were growing up. Our dad would disappear on hunting trips for long periods of time, and we'd be left to fend for ourselves. Sometimes, money was tight."

     Castiel frowned. "I'm sorry."

     "Me too," Dean murmured, his voice almost lost in the sound of the wind on the lake. 

     The sat in silence for a few minutes, breathing in the fresh wind.

     Finally, Castiel sighed. "No matter what I grew up with, treating you the way I did was not acceptable," he said. He turned to look at Dean.

     For the first time in Castiel's memory, Dean looked him voluntarily in the eyes. The angel was momentarily staggered by the color of green the Omega's irises were.

     "I think we both had problems with the dynamic, sir," Dean said honestly.

     Castiel laughed bitterly. "Doesn't mean I had any right to hit my mate and leave him out in the cold."

     Dean's breath hitched slightly at the word. It was the first time either of them had said it aloud.

     Mate.

     He's my mate.

     That shattered look in his green eyes, that brokenness he can't quite hide, part of that is from me.

     Castiel felt sick to his stomach. He waited for the feeling to pass, but it never did. He could still remember the purpling of bruises on Dean's wrists.

     He'd left him alone. All day. Hours by himself, to deal with the aftermath of what Castiel was realizing could be called psychological abuse. And what had the Omega done? Nearly killed himself trying to "make it up" to Castiel by doing chores and making dinner.

     The angel was seized by the urge to cry. He refrained. Barely.

     The silence was suffocating.

     Castiel had to break it. He knew that. But he also knew what he would have to say, and that alone might break him.

     "Dean," he said.

     The Omega turned to look at him again, shocking green eyes lit from the side by the glow of the single lamp in the kitchen.

     "Dean, I'm sorry," Castiel said. He was surprised to find that the words slid easily out of his throat, though they went against everything he'd been taught growing up.

     "I-"

     "No, I need you to hear this," Castiel insisted, cutting the Omega off. "I was an ass. I pretended like I was helping you, when I was just beating you down again and again. I could have gotten out of that meeting with Michael. I could have made an excuse, or simply told him to fuck off. He's. . . what he thinks of me is far less important than you. You're. . . you're my mate, and I've been treating you like my slave."

     Dean had looked away at some point. His words were soft, barely audible over the wind. "I am your slave."

     "No," Castiel breathed, knowing it was true. "No, you're not. You haven't been for a while now, I think."

     Dean said nothing. Castiel was sure that the tear tracks on his face had frozen. The wind was still roaring, and Castiel prayed that if the Omega spoke, he wouldn't lose the words in the noise.

     But Dean said nothing. He didn't contradict what Castiel had said. He simply sat and stared at the lake. Finally, he sighed, shoulders sagging minutely.

     "I. . . I can't forgive you yet," he whispered, his words somehow cutting through the wind.

     "I don't want you to," Castiel replied. "I don't deserve it. Not yet. Maybe I never will. But will you at least allow me to try?"

     Dean said nothing again, but his single nod was firm and unquestionable.

     Something awful and panicky and aching inside of Castiel soothed, the guilt that had been drowning him receded, the pain in his chest and his heart eased.

     They continued sitting on the bench. After a while, Castiel noticed Dean shivering. It was probably time to go inside. 

     "Now what?" Dean asked quietly. Castiel paused in his act of preparing to stand. He looked over at the Omega.

     "I don't know," the angel said honestly. "What do you think?"

     Dean sighed, looking out at the lake. "I've never really made a decision like that before."

     Castiel snorted. "Me neither. But we need to make it."

     Dean shivered, rubbing at his arms. Gently, Castiel draped the blanket over the Omega's shoulders.

     "What do you think, Dean?" Castiel asked. "Would you like to be my mate?"     

     Dean swallowed and looked shyly up at Castiel, long eyelashes fanning out on his cheeks. Castiel remembered how they'd looked that morning, gilded gold by the sunlight.

     He was surprised to find that he sincerely hoped Dean would say yes.

     The Omega seemed to think for a moment, to weigh the danger and the possible pain that could be involved with replying.

     He seemed to reach a conclusion.

     Dean smiled softly up at Castiel, a look that made the angel want to melt.

     Then, the word that would forever change the angel's life. . . 

     "Yes."

Chapter Text

     Twenty-One

 

     The next morning, when Dean dragged himself out of his bed of pillows on the floor, he was convinced it had all been a dream.

     Albeit, a wonderful, beautiful dream, but a dream just the same.

     Heartbroken, the Omega went downstairs, deciding that even though it had been a dream, there was nothing wrong with hoping.

     He was halfway through making breakfast when warm arms slipped around his waist.

     Startled, Dean dropped the knife he was using to cut slices of butter. It fell with a clatter to the kitchen counter.

     "I didn't mean to startle you," a deep gravelly voice said, still thick with sleep. Dean swallowed, not allowing himself to lean into Castiel's warmth, even though he desperately wanted to.

     "I thought it was a dream," he finally said.

     Castiel nosed at Dean's neck, making the Omega shudder happily. "Then we must have both had the same dream."

     Dean allowed himself to relax, pressing back into the heat of Castiel's muscular chest. 

     The Alpha growled contentedly.

     For a moment, the absurdness of the position struck Dean hard.

     Here he was, a supposed slave, practically cuddling with this Alpha who had threatened to beat him with a whip only a few weeks ago.

     But Castiel could change. If living beings didn't evolve, where would they really be?

     Dean shoved down any lingering doubt and closed his eyes, purring softly, wrapped in the bliss of warmth and the scent of Alpha, of mate.

     Both Alpha and Omega stayed in that position for a few more seconds. Then Castiel sighed, knowing he had to ruin the moment.

     "Dean, you're going to go into heat in a few weeks," he said. The Omega tensed. 

     "I know."

     "What. . . what do you want to do?" Castiel asked.

     Dean swallowed, stalling for time by finishing the breakfast and putting it on the table. "I think. . . I think that's when mates usually. . . when they usually-"

     "Consummate their relationship?" Castiel asked.

     Dean blushed. "Yes."

     The angel nodded. "Good. But are you sure? I wanted to ask you now, while you can still think clearly."

     Dean flushed. "Right. well. . . that sounds right. I think. . . unless you don't want to, and then-"

     "Dean, I do," Castiel said, cutting off the Omega's frantic stuttering.

     "Sorry, sir," Dean said meekly.

     "That's the other thing," Castiel said, frowning at the bacon and waffles on his plate. "I don't want you to call me sir anymore. I. . . I enjoyed when you called me Cas at the market."

     Dean turned an even brighter shade of red. "Me too."

     Castiel chuckled at the color of the Omega's face, taking a bite of waffle.

     They finished their meal in silence. Castiel looked out the window as he helped Dean dry the dishes, frowning at the sky.

     "It will snow soon," he said.

     "Tomorrow," Dean replied.

     "How do you know?" Castiel asked.

     "I don't. But the clouds look ready to burst," Dean replied.

     "True," Castiel sighed. He glanced at the clock. "I have to head over to the angel military base. There's a report due, and I want to be there for it."

     "Okay. I'll do some housework," Dean said.

     "You always do housework. Don't you. . . don't you read or watch TV?" Castiel asked.

     Dean shrugged. "I've never really been allowed to do that before."

     "Well, you are now," Castiel said. He sounded resolute and stubborn, as if this would make up for. . . everything.

     It won't, Dean thought. But it's a step in the right direction.

     The Omega promised that he would take a break from working at some point. That was the only thing that got Castiel out the door. When the Alpha left, Dean set about cleaning the kitchen and doing the dishes. When he finished with that, he cleaned the upstairs bedroom.

     After contemplating for nearly ten minutes whether or not he should clean Castiel's nest, Dean decided against it. Nests were sacred ground to angels, and even though they'd admitted that their relationship was a special one, that didn't mean Dean had a right to impose.

     He left the nest alone and cleaned around the room.

     Dean was in the middle of lightly dusting some of Castiel's delicate glass knickknacks when he heard something behind him.

     Very nearly dropping the glass figure in his hand, he whirled around.

     Castiel was leaning in the doorway, arms folded, enormous black wings looming behind his back. He didn't look happy.

     "Did you take a break?" he asked.

     Dean swallowed and looked back at the glass he was holding, something that looked like a twisty circle. Tears burned in his eyes, though he didn't know why. The beating was always worse when he cried, so Dean had learned not to.

     "I'm sorry, sir," he whispered. "I didn't take a break."

     Castiel sighed and walked toward him. Dean tensed, bracing for something painful, but all that happened was Castiel taking the glass from him gently and putting it back on the shelf.

     "Dean," Castiel said softly. "Dean. Look at me."

     Dean looked up tentatively, trying to blink his tears away.

     The angel's face was surprisingly gentle, his eyebrows raised in an almost worried position.

     "I'm not angry, Dean," Castiel said. Dean released a breath, the tension leaving his body.

     "You're not?"

     "No," Castiel said. He sighed and rubbed at his face. "But I do want you to remember your promise next time. I don't like the idea of you just working all day without any breaks."

     "I. . . I don't know what else to do," Dean admitted.

     Castiel watched his face for a second, then looked back at the door that led downstairs.

     "Would you like to?" he asked.

     Dean swallowed, curiosity spreading through his veins. "What do you mean?" he asked.

     Castiel smiled a small smile, something that wasn't quite happy, but not disappointed or sad anymore. Dean was glad for that.

     "Come with me, and I'll show you."

     Dean took a step forward, curiosity winning over tentativeness and fear. "Okay."

     The Alpha took Dean out of the room and down the stairs. They headed through the house to the living room, the big glass windows Dean had been cleaning a couple weeks ago gleaming in the light of the lamp Castiel turned on.

     The angel grabbed a remote and sat down on the plush couch.

     "Do you want to watch a movie with me?" he asked.

     Dean stared at him.

     "You want to watch a movie with me, sir?" he asked.

     "Not sir, Dean. Cas," Castiel corrected.

     "Cas," Dean amended.

     "Yes, I do. Come here," Castiel said.

     Dean swallowed, the awkwardness of the room pressing on his chest and making it hard to breathe. He desperately wanted to run upstairs and hide under his blanket, but he made himself sit down a few feet away from the angel.

     Huffing approvingly, Castiel turned on the TV.

     Dean stared, watching as the colors flicked on, bright and loud and beautiful. He hadn't sat down and watched TV in a very long time.

     "Do you have any movies you like?" Castiel asked.

     Dean thought for a moment, desperately trying to come up with something, anything, but the only thing that came out was- "Freddie Mercury."

     "What?" Castiel asked, puzzled.

     "F-Freddie Mercury," Dean said. "Or. . . the movie's name is Bohemian Rhapsody, but it's about a guy named Freddie Mercury and the band Queen. It's. . . it's a human thing, s-I mean, Cas."

     The angel stared at Dean for a long moment. The Omega was practically sweating, wondering why he'd said such a thing.

     Surprisingly, though, Castiel didn't object. "Okay. I've never seen it. This will be interesting."

     He turned on Netflix and searched the movie. Dean was tense the entire time, suddenly stressing about the film itself. It was about a band. A human band, which Castiel had probably never heard about. What the hell would the angel think? Would he be disgusted? Ashamed? Angry? Did he even listen to music, let alone Queen?

     Dean didn't realize how much of his worry he was letting into his scent until Castiel put a hand on his arm.

     "Dean, calm down," he said gently. "It's alright, it's only a movie."

     Dean swallowed and nodded, trying to keep a neutral face. He slammed down on his scent, fighting to keep emotions out of it. Castiel frowned at him worriedly, but didn't say anything else.

     As the opening credits started playing, however, the Omega forgot all about his worry as he became enraptured by the images playing on screen. It was only when Freddie was explaining that his large teeth gave him more vocal range that Dean realized Castiel was watching him.

     "What?" he asked self-consciously, flushing. He hadn't been doing anything stupid, had he?

     "Nothing," Castiel replied. He watched the Omega with a careful sort of awe. Unconsciously, Dean curled into the corner of the couch. The angel frowned.

     "You can come here. I'm not. . . " Castiel trailed off.

     Dean stayed put for a moment. In that split second, Alpha and Omega looked each other straight in the eyes.

     I'm not your Master anymore were the unsaid words. And Dean believed them. He knew he was a stupid fuck for falling for this, for believing that Castiel could change.

     But maybe. . . Dean's Omega told him this was his mate. That his mate wouldn't hurt him. But his Omega was what had gotten him into trouble before, what had caused this whole slavery thing to happen anyway.

     But if I'd never been enslaved, I never would have met my mate.

     Dean shut that train of thought down quickly. It entered a whole new realm of fucked up and twisted. To think slavery was good, to be grateful for it-

     But Castiel was still looking at Dean. Waiting.

     So the Omega made a choice.

     He knew he had two options. He could stay in the corner. He could stay as Dean the almost-slave.

     Or he could move on. Because if Castiel could change, Dean could too. It went two ways.

     The Omega thought.

     He considered.

     And he chose.

     Dean stayed where he was for another long second. Then he slowly unfolded himself from the corner and scooted over the couch to Castiel's side.

     Not quite touching, but close.

     The Alpha smiled brightly down at him, and Dean knew he'd made the right choice.

     He settled down and turned back to the movie.

Chapter Text

     Twenty-Two

 

     It was only a matter of time before it happened.

     The couch was plush, and it sank underneath the weight of both Alpha and Omega. Dean was lighter than Castiel by far, so he began sliding the instant he sat down.

     Castiel watched him out of the corner of his eye.

     It was only a matter of time before the moment ended.

     It was only a matter of time before disaster struck.

     It was only a matter of time before they finally touched.

     Castiel forced himself to stay loose, telling himself this was Dean's call.

     Instead of immediately leaping away like the angel thought he would, the Omega stayed where he was.

     They stayed in the awkward, barely-touching position for as long as it took Freddie to nickname Jim Beach 'Miami'.

     Castiel glanced over and nearly leaped up with surprise.

     Dean's eyes were shut, an expression of bliss on his face. Castiel was puzzled for only a moment before he allowed himself to wonder how many times he'd touched the Omega in the past few weeks.

     He tentatively extended an arm and placed it softly on Dean's shoulders.

     The effect was immediate.

     Dean pressed his entire weight into Castiel's side, a soft sigh escaping his lips. Castiel pulled his arm down, closing the gap between them, and shifted around until they were both comfortable.

     "Sorry, Cas," Dean said softly.

     Castiel resisted the urge to press his face into the soft spikes of Dean's hair. "It's fine. I enjoy this."

     Dean didn't have to reply. The blush that rose to his face was enough to tell Castiel that the human enjoyed it too.

     Castiel remembered reading something once about ways to torture humans in a guidebook for angel soldiers. One of the ways the book suggested tying them up in a dark, completely silent room and leaving them alone for as long as their bodies could handle.

     Sensory-deprivation, the book had said. Sensory-deprivation and touch-starvation.

     Castiel pressed Dean tighter to his side without meaning to, his protective Alpha instincts taking the wheel for a split second. 

     Dean made a soft sound that might have been a comforting purr, pressing himself closer to Castiel.

     A great black wing swept from out of nowhere and wrapped around the Omega, blanketing him completely and causing him to sit up slightly.

     "Can't see," Dean complained.

     Castiel lowered his wing slightly, amazed at how they had snuck up on him without him even noticing.

     The movie progressed, the band's career taking off. Castiel and Dean stayed where they were.

     The angel had never felt so complete in his life.

     It felt. . . right, to have his wings and arms wrapped around another being. A being smaller than him, one without wings, one who smelled of cinnamon and apple pie. 

     Dean stayed where he was, his scent and body more relaxed than Castiel had ever seen. The Alpha was relaxed too, the tension leaving his muscles easily.

     They watched most of the movie in relative silence.

     Castiel was content to sit there forever, but as the band performed at Live Aid, he knew it wouldn't last.

     The angel glanced down and was surprised to find that Dean had fallen asleep.

     For a moment, all Castiel could do was look down at the human in wonder.

     It was the first time he had ever seen Dean sleep peacefully. Every other time the angel had witnessed the human resting, which wasn't often, he had been having a nightmare of some sort.

     But now. . .

     Golden lashes fanned on freckles cheeks. Soft lips were parted gently to allow little puffs of breath out. Now-filling out arms were curled around Castiel's torso, basically turning the angel into a pillow.

     One of Castiel's down feathers was fluttering in the wake of each of Dean's soft exhales.

     The angel closed his eyes on pure instinct, pressing his face into the human's hair. Soft, dark blond spikes tickled his nose as he inhaled the scent of apple pie, cinnamon, and honey. The scent of mate.

     Sitting there, eyes closed, face pressed into Dean's hair, Castiel wondered.

     He wondered how something could be so beautiful and pure.

     He wondered how, in all the different paths of the universe, he could have been led here, on this couch, with this amazing Omega.

     He wondered what he had done to deserve something so beautiful.

     And he wondered how he could have ever harmed such a creature. Naomi's teachings of disgusting humans and worthless Omegas seemed far away now. All there was in this moment was the beauty and purity of the very human Omega clinging to Castiel.

     He waited until the movie was done, until the credits started rolling. Then Castiel opened his eyes and grabbed the remote. He turned off the TV.

     Without the beautiful voice of Freddie Mercury floating through the room from the brightly lit TV, the living room was dark and quiet.

     Castiel could hear the soft puffing of breath from Dean's mouth.

     He closed his eyes one more time, lightly brushing his nose through the sleeping Omega's hair.

     "I love you, Dean Winchester," Castiel whispered."I'm sorry. I will never hurt you again."

     Heart hurting with the sincerity of his words, Castiel swallowed in a breath, trying to keep his voice steady. Dean stayed asleep, unaware of the turmoil going on inside the angel beside him.

     Castiel took a long inhale.

     "I will protect you with my every breath. You are beautiful, and you have suffered long enough. You are mine now, and I will make sure that you are never unhappy and never hurt again. I love you. I love you, and I am sorry," Castiel breathed softly. The repeated words. . . Castiel had never felt so sure of anything in his life.

     Dean's breathing continued, soft and even. The Omega slept on. And in the darkness of the room and the silence of the shadows, the angel pledged his heart to his love.

Chapter Text

     Twenty-Three

 

     Dean woke up at his normal time, on a normal day, ready to do his normal things. Only he wasn't in a normal position.

     Pinned underneath a warm, heavy, softly-snoring Alpha was not something Dean had ever done, especially considering the fact he was trapped by downy black wings on each side.

     Realizing that what must have started as platonic had become decidedly not, Dean wondered what he could do to get out of this position without waking Castiel. He didn't think the Alpha would be very happy to wake up and find them like this, and he wasn't eager to know what the angel was like when he was angry.

     He was just beginning to eye the wings on either side of him, wondering how heavy they were, when the Alpha stirred.

     Dean quickly snapped his eyes shut, schooling his face into a sleeping expression.

     Castiel shifted a little more, yawning. He paused, seeming to realize the position they were in.

     With inhuman grace, he lifted himself easily off Dean, wings displacing air as the angel fell softly to the bed beside Dean. Without the warmth and weight of Castiel, Dean felt cold. He was spared from that, however, when a great black wing swept over him again.

     Dean blinked his eyes open and turned to find Castiel watching him tentatively, as if waiting for him to push the wing away.

     Instead, the Omega flipped to the side, snuggling under the wing almost imperceptibly.

     "Sorry for falling asleep during the movie last night," Dean murmured, his voice still scratchy from sleep.

     "It was. . . decidedly adorable. There is no reason to apologize," Castiel said. He smiled kindly at Dean, the corners of his eyes crinkling.

     In that moment, lying there, the sun streaming through the windows and setting Castiel's blue eyes ablaze, the weight of his heavy wing on Dean. . . the Omega felt something he hadn't felt in a very long time, something he certainly hadn't ever anticipated with this Alpha.

     Hope for a better future.     

 

     As the week wore on, the angel and the human slowly settled into a more comfortable routine. With the consistency of Castiel's treatment toward Dean, the Omega began to stop doubting himself and their relationship as much.

     Still, it was a learning experience. Castiel had to physically order Dean to sit down and take a break, the need to work so ingrained in the Omega that the Alpha Voice was needed. The angel, too, was working on being more open and less cold toward his human mate, something Dean tried to make easier by spending time with him.

     Once again, their routine came to a screeching halt one night, a few weeks before Christmas.

     Castiel paused in his movement of scenting Dean's neck that night as the Omega made dinner. Dean could feel him frown against his skin.

     "Something wrong, Cas?" he asked.

     "You smell. . . sweeter. Like. . . like you're going into heat."

     Dean froze, terror rising in him. He hated his heats. Not only were they confusing and humiliating, they were painful and usually meant he was going to be cold and alone for a few days.

     "Calm down, sweetheart," Castiel murmured in his ear. Dean calmed himself. He hadn't realized he had let the fear bleed into his scent to strongly.

     "Wh-What are we going to do?" Dean asked, hating that his stutter was back. He'd managed to have entire conversations with Castiel without stuttering.

     "Well, I'll give you the same choice I gave you before," Castiel sad softly in Dean's ear. His arms were still wrapped loosely around Dean's torso, a gentle, reassuring weight.

     "I-I don't know," Dean breathed, his voice shaking.

     "Take a deep breath, Dean. It's okay."

     "I hated the toy," Dean said, his voice filled with surety. That was one thing he knew. "I hated it."

     Castiel chuckled, his chest rumbling with the thunder of his laugh. "I did too."

     Dean took a breath, startled to realize how much better he felt after admitting that. As he inhaled, he caught the faint twinge of mate on Castiel's scent. He closed his eyes, pressing back into Castiel's warmth.

     "I want. . . I want you this time," he said quietly, shyly. "If. . . if you want me."

     The breath seemed to go out of Castiel in one big whoosh. He pressed his face into the space between Dean's neck and shoulder, scenting the Omega.

     "Of course I do, Dean. I could think of nothing I want more."

     Dean relaxed, leaning back into Castiel.

     "When do you think it will hit?" he asked.

     "Tomorrow," Castiel said, sounding sure. "You'll probably wake up feeling the effects."

     "Do we need to. . . prepare?" Dean asked, flushing at the meaning of that question.

     Castiel chuckled and nosed at Dean's neck for a moment before pulling away. "You don't have to do anything. Let me take care of it. Just don't stress, alright?"

     Dean nodded, watching the angel turn and practically run upstairs.

     In that moment, he reflected on how different their dynamic was now. A few short weeks ago, he'd been kneeling at Castiel's feet, ready to be beaten by him. Now they were anticipating sharing a heat together.

     Strange as the change was, Dean found he didn't mind it.

 

     Even if Castiel hadn't told him not to, Dean still wouldn't have been very stressed that night. He was too busy being amused by the angel's antics.

     It struck Dean that Castiel had never had an Omega before, and that he was taking his job very seriously. As the thirty two blankets, pillows, and sweatshirts currently stuffing the nest could attest to.

     "I don't think you need that many," Dean said, watching Castiel frantically try to layer another blanket in the nest, yanking out a few of his feathers forcefully and arranging them.

     "I do," Castiel replied, his voice rough and focused. Dean stifled a laugh, realizing that maybe the myth that Alphas nested too wasn't such a myth after all. That, or they just really, really wanted everything to look 'presentable'.

     "Is that enough blankets?" Castiel asked, stepping back.

     "Yes," Dean affirmed.

     "No," Castiel decided. He whirled out of the room to find more, cursing as his wings got caught on the door frame. Dean wasn't sure if he knew that they had snuck up on him again, or if he really cared. He was too busy trying to get the nest to be perfect.

     "Cas, if you put any more in there we won't be able to fit," Dean said, watching as the angel dragged in some more blankets from some random place in the house.

     "Just a few more," the angel insisted.

     Dean sighed, watching him trip and nearly fall, his wings flailing out to catch him.

     It was only when the Omega forcefully imposed the fact that he was getting tired did Castiel finally stop arranging the nest. The angel still didn't look satisfied, but it was enough to get him to stop long enough for Dean to brush his teeth, change, and climb into the nest.

     Only then did Castiel finally settle down and climb in after him, throwing his wings over them both. Usually, Castiel just put his arms around Dean and they woke up in the morning to find that the wings had appeared, but this time the angel didn't even try to send them away.

     "Goodnight, Cas," Dean yawned.

     "Goodnight, Dean," Castiel murmured.

     Sighing contentedly through his nose, the Omega drifted off to sleep.

 

     When Dean woke up, he wished he hadn't.

     Castiel was almost on top of him, sleeping like a rock. His wings were draped over them both, nearly suffocating the Omega.

     Dean was hot. His skin itched and ached, and he felt desperate for something he couldn't quite name.

     He inhaled and realized what it was.

     Mate. Castiel. Alpha.

     Dean groaned softly, wriggling around underneath the angel. Castiel didn't wake up.

     Suddenly, Dean was glad he hadn't.

     What was he doing?

     He was nothing more than a lowly Omega slave. Castiel. . . Castiel was a perfect Alpha, an angel, a Warrior of God, and Dean was nothing.

     He didn't deserve Castiel. He didn't deserve the softness of their nest, the comforting scent of mate and home.

     He didn't deserve anything.     

     Dean once again wondered what the hell he was doing.

     He'd allowed himself to be lulled into a sense of importance over the past few weeks. A sense of comfort.

     Why?

     Dean knew his worth. He knew how pathetic he was. He knew where he belonged.

     Suddenly ashamed, the Omega slid himself out from underneath Castiel's sleeping form, desperately praying to whatever God listened that the angel wouldn't wake up.

     He didn't.

     Dean slipped quietly down the stairs, hopping the step that he knew creaked.

     He didn't even know where he was going, blinded by the fever of being in heat and the desperate desire in his body. The desire was for something Dean could never have, for an Alpha he would never deserve.

     He stumbled and fell down the stairs to the basement, yelping in pain as his body skidded across the cement basement floor.

     The sharp tang of blood and Omega in pain lit the basement.

     Good, Dean thought. Good.

     He dragged himself on hands and knees to the corner, whimpering at the pain in his skin. The scrapes from the fall down the stairs were amplified by the sensitivity and tenderness of his skin, and Dean felt unwanted tears springing to his eyes.

     He curled up in a ball in the corner, unaware that he was shaking badly.

     Dean was no longer hot. He was cold, achingly cold, and he wanted nothing more than to curl up in the nest that smelled of Castiel and nuzzle his Alpha.

     But he was Dean. A lowly Omega slave. He didn't deserve such things.

     He sniffled, tucking his arms around himself, wishing they weren't his own. He wished he was normal, or that he could be a good Omega. One that deserved Castiel. One that didn't have ugly scars and stupid needs and pathetic panic attacks and-

     Dean was crying.

     He gritted his teeth, hating himself, hating the cold, harsh ground, hating the warm tears that streamed down his face.

     It was cold down here. Cold and lonely.

     Dean wrapped his arms around himself and cried silently.



Chapter Text

     Twenty-Four

 

     Castiel woke with a start.

     Something was not right.

     He glanced around, struggling to figure out what was so wrong while still waking up.

     It hit him with a freight train jolt that had him wide awake in seconds.

     Dean.

     Castiel sat up, looking around.

     The Omega's scent wasn't very cold, which meant he hadn't left the nest too long ago. Maybe half an hour. But he smelled. . . sad.

     Shit.

     Castiel stumbled out of the nest, his inner Alpha roaring at him to find his Omega and slaughter anyone who got in his way.

     As he staggered down the stairs, Castiel contemplated whether or not he would kill someone right now if it meant finding Dean. He wasn't surprised to find that the answer was a definite yes.

     Castiel moved almost by instinct, going where he remembered Dean going the last time he'd been in heat.

     The basement door was already open.

     Castiel nearly fell down the stairs as Dean had done only half an hour before. He caught himself, however, and staggered down the steps.

     As soon as he hit the ground level, Castiel growled.

     The old tang of blood hit his nose and he glared around, looking for whatever had hurt his Omega. But all he found was Dean curled in a shaking ball in the corner.

     Castiel started forward, kneeling next to the human.

     "Dean?" he asked. "Dean, open your eyes."

     Dean whimpered softly. His eyes stayed shut.

     Castiel looked him over, startled to find a few bleeding scratches on his Omega's face. He had some on his arms too, as if he'd fallen and skidded across the cement. 

     Putting two and two together, Castiel growled softly, grabbing Dean's chin in his hand.

     At his touch, the Omega's eyes flew open.

     "Why did you leave the nest?" Castiel asked. It was supposed to sound demanding and angry, but instead it sounded pleading and worried.

     Dean sniffled. "'M a bad Omega," he mumbled, not making eye contact. "Don' deserve you."

     Castiel gritted his teeth against the rising panic coming from the Alpha inside of him.

     Why didn't he like our nest? it demanded. He wouldn't have gotten hurt if he'd stayed. This is our fault. FIX IT.

     Castiel groaned against the incessant growling in his head and reached forward without thinking, grabbing Dean by the shoulders. The Omega flinched back.

     Castiel froze, listening to the litany of words streaming from the human's mouth.

     "No, no, no, no, don't deserve you don't deserve it go away go away please, please, no-"

     "Dean," Castiel murmured. "Dean."

     Dean stopped, looking up at him through half-delirious, tear-filled eyes.

     "Dean," Castiel sighed. "Come on. You. . . you promised you would follow through on this. Do you not want me?"

     The Omega whined and shook his head. "Not that. . . not that, swear. Cas. . . 'm a bad Omega," he slurred.

     "You're not a bad Omega, but I can't keep my control for much longer," Castiel said. He sighed, looking Dean over. 

     "'S cold, Cas. Hurts," Dean informed him quietly.

     "I know, Dean. Will you. . . will you let me take care of you?" Castiel asked. "Will you let me take care of my Omega?"

     Dean looked away, cheeks flushing red. Castiel waited patiently, his inner Alpha quieting.

     "Yeah," Dean said quietly.

     Relief flooded Castiel, so strong he almost fell from his kneeling position to his ass. He slipped his arms under Dean's shaking body, grunting softly as he picked up the Omega. He was getting heavier, but he was still too light.

     "You shouldn't have left the nest, Omega," Castiel murmured, nosing at the scratches on Dean's face and frowning.

     "Sorry, Alpha," Dean murmured.

     Castiel sighed and carried the Omega up the basement steps and out onto the ground floor of the house. He'd prearranged his week off with Zachariah, and now all he had to do was convince Dean to allow him to do what he was meant to do.

     Castiel carried Dean upstairs.

     When they got to his bedroom, Castiel laid Dean gently down on the nest, his inner Alpha demanding that he scent the Omega briefly to make sure he was alright before he turned and left to get the First Aid Kit.

     Dean whined and loosely grabbed Castiel's wrist.

     "I'll come back," Castiel promised. "I need to clean your scratches."

     He got the First Aid Kit and dragged it back to his nest, pulling out some disinfectant wipes as he went. Dean whined in pain at the sting of alcohol on his open cuts, and Castiel winced as if the sound had physically hurt him.

     FIX IT! FIX IT NOW! His inner Alpha screamed. Castiel grunted, reflecting that the Alpha inside of his head was almost as annoying as his prejudiced mother.

     At least this one was advocating for Dean, however.

     Once Castiel had gently cleaned the scratches on Dean's arms and face, he put the First Aid Kit away and threw it to the side, not eager to leave his mate again.

     "Alpha. . . ," Dean murmured, holding his arms out. Castiel chuckled and slid to his side, pulling the Omega tight to his chest. His wings, which he usually had such good control over, had decided again to appear without his consent and wrap around them both.

     "I'm here, Omega," Castiel whispered in Dean's ear. "I'm here."

     Dean purred happily and tucked his face into Castiel's neck. Castiel growled softly, content, and put his face in his Omega's hair, inhaling his scent.

     Alpha and Omega laid like that for a long, long time.

 

Chapter Text

     Twenty-Five

 

     The first few days of Dean's heat were filled with the near-insatiable need that was associated with Omegas in heat. The last few, much to Castiel's amusement, saw Dean as a gooey puddle, interested only in cuddling and sleeping beside Castiel. Thankfully, the Alpha's rut ended at about the same time, so Castiel was fine with sleeping and cuddling too.

     The Alpha diligently cleaned the nest, replaced the feathers and blankets, and laid down beside Dean. The haze of heat was still floating about the Omega's brain, but he could think clearer and he wasn't focused solely on Castiel's knot.

     While that had still been amazing, Dean was exhausted.

     Castiel laid next to him, smelling of the mint shampoo he used. Dean inhaled the scent happily, pressing himself against the angel.

     Great black wings, which hadn't really disappeared at all over the course of four days, swept over them both and tucked Dean against Castiel's chest.

     The Omega closed his eyes, content.

     The basement, with its stark white lights and freezing cold, rough ground, seemed far away. So did Alistair's frigid cellar, the icy chains tight around Dean's neck causing him to nearly choke himself when he was writhing on the ground with pain and need.

     The Omega shivered, pressing himself against his Alpha.

     Here, now, it was warm and safe. The curtains had been drawn for the past few days, and soft golden lights were lit in the corners of the room, glowing dimly. Castiel's eyes were half-closed with contentment, his strong arms encircling Dean in a powerful yet gentle embrace.

     The Omega chewed on what he was going to say for a moment, wondering if he should break this bubble of peace.

     "Thanks, Cas," he said quietly.

     The Alpha opened his eyes, frowning in confusion at Dean. "Thank you? For what?"

     Dean shrugged. "For staying with me. For putting up with my anxiety and. . . and stuff," he said.

     Castiel frowned deeper. "That's not something you should be thanking me for. That should be a given in a relationship, Dean."

     "Oh, sorry," Dean murmured, looking away.

     "No, I-" Castiel stopped and took a deep breath, collecting his thoughts. "I meant that you don't have to thank me. I'm happy to be patient and help you when you need it if it means having you as my mate."

     Dean flushed and looked down, smiling softly. "Thanks, Cas. Me too."

     Castiel chuckled and kissed the top of Dean's head.

     They laid on the bed for a while. Finally, Castiel spoke above Dean. "Did. . . did Alistair lock you in the basement every time?"

     Dean shivered. "Not the first time," he whispered.

     Castiel was silent, waiting. Dean shifted, not really wanting to continue but realizing that it was necessary.

     "I just. . . He used me while I sort of wanted it, and then. . . and then when I calmed down and only wanted to-to cuddle, like we're doing now, he locked me in the basement. After that, he said I was too needy and clingy and he would just wait a few days for my heat to pass."     

     "He denied you this?" Castiel asked, his voice taking on the soft, dangerous tone he used when Dean talked about Alistair.

     Dean nodded, tucking his face into the spot between Castiel's shoulder and neck. The Alpha tensed, suddenly, pulling away.

     "Do you. . . did I do the same thing?" Castiel asked, his eyes suddenly frantic. "I took advantage of you too-you never-I'm sorry, Dean, I-"

     "Cas, it's fine," Dean assured. "I. . . " The Omega trailed off, embarrassed. "I liked what you did. You made sure I was happy. Alistair, he. . . he only wanted to make himself feel good. Even if it hurt me."

     Castiel growled softly, faintly, and pulled Dean to his body. A stray feather was caught in the angel's messy black hair and Dean pulled it out absentmindedly, laying it down beside his head.

     Dean had assumed that was the end of the conversation, so he was startled by what Castiel said next.

     "Someday, I'll kill him," the angel said. His voice was soft, dangerous, filled with the promise of such brutal pain and suffering that Dean shivered in fear. Here was the soldier that he had such a hard time associating with the gentle Alpha he was used to. Here was the Warrior of God who mowed down his enemies and fought like quicksilver. Dean was suddenly very glad that he wasn't on the receiving end of Castiel's anger.

     "He's gone," Dean replied softly. "It doesn't matter anymore."

     "He's alive," Castiel replied. "He's out there somewhere, sliding along in the mud. He hurt you. He tortured you and starved you and beat you. I'll kill him someday."

     "You'd get arrested," Dean replied, suddenly worried. Castiel sounded so sure. Like he was thinking of just sitting up, grabbing an angel blade, and flapping away to wherever Alistair was right now and gutting him.

     "I'd be fine," Castiel assured. His voice was soft and heavy with seriousness and violence.

     "I wouldn't want you to leave," Dean said quietly.

     He knew it sounded needy. He knew it was pathetic. But it was the only way to snap Castiel out of whatever killing calm he had slipped into.

     It worked. The angel flicked his gaze down to Dean and sighed, pressing his face against the top of the Omega's head.

     "I wouldn't," he replied, his voice muffled by Dean's hair. "I wouldn't leave you."

     "Good," Dean replied.

     He pulled Castiel tighter against him and closed his eyes, exhausted by the interaction. The fear had dissipated to barely-there worry. 

     Everything was alright. He was safe. His mate was here. Nothing bad was going to happen.

     Dean closed his eyes and fell asleep.

 

Chapter Text

     Twenty-Six

 

     Castiel was woken with a start.

     He kept his eyes closed, quietly observing without letting anyone in the room know he was awake, a tactic he had learned while fighting in the angel armies.

     Nothing.

     He opened his eyes a crack and saw utter blackness. It was still the middle of the night.

     So why was he awake?

     And then he heard it again.

     Castiel sat up, eyes narrowing in the darkness.

     Dean was still sleeping soundly next to him, a fact that surprised the angel. The Omega typically had better senses than him, and he often noticed things before Castiel did.

     This time, Castiel silently slid from the bed, frowning into the darkness, listening hard.

     Blood sounded in his ears, but other than the oppressing silence, there was nothing.

     Then, the noise again.

     A quiet shuffling, a thump, like something was downstairs. Something that shouldn't be.

     Castiel heard the soft ruffling of his wings appearing, the rustling of the feathers pricking with defensive anger. Someone was in his house. Endangering his mate.

     Castiel reached back into the nest and grabbed the small angel blade he kept in one of the side slots, gripping it in a familiar offensive position.

     He silently left the room and began to descend the steps.

     The sounds were louder now, without the thickness of the door to muffle them. They reached Castiel's adrenaline-driven ears like sharp gunshots, each driving a spike of energy into his muscles.

     He crept down the stairs, silent as a moth's wingbeat.

     At the bottom of the stairs, illuminated by the residual glow of the outside porch lights, Castiel saw two men silhouetted against the faintly glowing glass. One was enormous, easily twice Castiel's weight and six inches taller than him. The other was smaller, but looked wiry and fast. He couldn't make out much more, other than the fact that the smaller one had wings.

     Castiel waited in the darkness of the stairwell, content to observe before smiting them on the spot.

     They weren't talking, but Castiel observed their hands moving rapidly. It was too dark to make out most of the sign language, but he caught enough words to understand.

     Omega. Take. Quiet. Kill. Alpha. Dangerous. And one other word, a name, that Castiel couldn't quite understand. A name he was sure he'd heard Dean moaning in his sleep, when the Omega was in the grip of a horrid nightmare and couldn't be woken easily.

     Omega. Take. Kill.

     Castiel gritted his teeth, a surge of rage flooding his senses. He barely reigned in his anger enough to stop himself from storming the rest of the way down the stairs and taking their lives with a snap of his fingers.

     Caution, his training reminded him. There might be more. They haven't moved yet, wait and be patient.

     Castiel stayed where he was, listening, taming the rage in his chest and forcing it to wait.

     It wasn't the time yet.

     Who were they? Why were they here? Castiel wondered whether Dean would still look at him the same if he tortured them within an inch of their lives. Probably not. The Alpha stayed put.

     It was only when the duo started for the stairs that Castiel moved.

     His wings had flared, their feathers rising at the adrenaline rushing through him.

     The small, wiry angel barely had a second to realize that Castiel was there before the angel had gutted him with his blade.

     The large one, decidedly without wings, roared angrily. The sound split the silent night, tearing into the darkness and bringing violence bleeding out.

     Castiel snarled and swiped at the man with his blade, his other hand rising. He focused his grace on the man, ready to smite him.

     Scaly skin scraped against his wrists as the being lunged for him. Castiel was grimly surprised to find that he couldn't reach him with his grace.

     Whoever they were, they'd come prepared.

     Something sharp slid along Castiel's shoulder, and he ducked the swipe he knew was coming. It was too dark to see well, but Castiel was suddenly sure these weren't normal people. An angel and demon working together. . .

     He jabbed out with his knife and struck something hard with muscle.

     The creature roared in pain, the sound splitting the night again. Castiel wasted no time in disarming him and hacking his head off.

     He reached for the lamp he knew was in the corner and flipped the light on.

     The golden glow illuminated the third attacker a split second before he hacked at Castiel's chest.

     The angel managed to duck out of the way, but the knife still cut a deep gash into his shoulder and chest. He roared in anger and pain and lashed out with his wings, pummeling the final intruder. It was an angel, barely recognizable underneath all the protection runes and symbols drawn on his pale skin. His ragged red wings fluttered in fear as Castiel's great black ones flared to full size.

     The Alpha angel snarled.

     "You picked the wrong place to break into, fucker," he spat.

     The angel backed away, his bloodied knife shaking in his small hands. He seemed to make a decision.

     Castiel bared his teeth and the angel turned, bolting for the door. Castiel didn't even think. He hurled the angel blade with a pained grunt, the cut on his shoulder tearing open a little more.

     The blade thunked hilt-deep into the back of the angel's head.

     He fell to the floor and didn't get up.

     Castiel stared around at the carnage, chest heaving with adrenaline.

     Something was wrong.

     Something wasn't right. Castiel gritted his teeth, staring around, struggling to figure out what felt so off.

     His eyes landed on the massive demon at the bottom of the stairs.

     He had roared. Made enough noise to wake their neighbors across the lake. Dean would have woken.

     Where was he?

     Castiel turned and bolted up the stairs.

     It was too late.

     By the time he'd reached the top, torn open their door, and burst into the room, the nest was empty. The covers were crumpled, as if there had been a struggle.

     But it was no use.

     Dean was gone.

Chapter Text

     Twenty-Seven

 

     Dean was dropped when they landed. He threw up, his body shaky from the recent heat he'd had and the vertigo that came with flying with an angel.

     The angel who'd captured him kicked him savagely in the stomach.

     Dean choked and fell to his side, looking up at his captor.

     It was a thick-set angel with muddy brown wings. He pointed a matte-black gun down at Dean. "Move, and I'll blow your ear off."

     Dean bared his teeth, staring around.

     They were in a warehouse. It was large, the thick layer of dust on the boxes telling Dean it had been abandoned long ago. It was freezing. His breath puffed in front of his face.

     "Who the fuck are you? What the fuck is this?" Dean snarled, slowly pushing himself off the ground. The angel sneered at him.

     "You'll find out soon enough."

     The lights in the warehouse were blinding. There were guards stationed along a catwalk at the outer rim, Dean noticed. They looked like a combination of angels and demons.

     His mind was going haywire. He had woken to an empty nest. The loud roar of something downstairs had immediately put him on guard. Still, he'd barely been able to get a few punches in before the angel hidden in the room had overpowered him and thrown him to the ground. A combination of still coming back to health, getting over a heat, and a still-healing wrist had put Dean at a serious physical disadvantage. He was embarrassed to admit that he'd been taken in a few seconds.

     But where was Castiel?

     Tentatively, Dean pushed out on their newly acquired bond, but he found it dead, as if it weren't even there. Something must have been blocking the connection, then.

     Dean swallowed past the fear that was quietly building in his throat. For some reason, a horrible certainty had begun to build in the back of his mind.

     Something slammed somewhere, and the angel looked up.

     Dean was half-tempted to lunge at him, take the gun and hold it to his head. He had a feeling, however, that any attempt to escape was futile now.

     Footsteps.

     The angel was looking at someone now. His shoulders had straightened and his ugly face was unreadable. Dean stared up at the shadowy spaces in the rafters, willing his fear away.

     He had almost managed it when he heard the voice.

     It had haunted his nightmares for weeks.

     "Hello, Dean."

     Dean tensed.

     The old fear began to pound through his veins. He swallowed, focusing everything on trying not to let it show in his scent.

     He turned and looked behind him.

     Alistair smiled back.

     His cold gray eyes were sharp with anger and his sadistic smile was spread across his face. He looked just the same as Dean remembered him, his stained white shirt hanging off his thin frame like a scarecrow. His sunken eyes leered out at the Omega with a sort of smug finality.

     "Alistair." Dean had meant for it to sound brave and angry, but it came out as a whisper.

     "Did you miss me?" Alistair asked, smiling wider. He was standing a few yards away, grinning like a psychopath.

     I'll kill him, Castiel's voice said randomly in the back of Dean's mind. Someday, I'll kill him.

     Dean swallowed. His Alpha seemed a long ways away now. Fear ran rampant in his veins.

     But he couldn't let it show. Because if he did, it would be a bit like letting Alistair win. And Dean was finished with letting him win.

     "Go fuck yourself," Dean said. It was firmer and louder than before, but it still seemed small in the large space of the warehouse.

     Alistair laughed, a nasally, nasty sound that echoed off the walls of the massive building they were in.

     "You've gotten some of your fire back," the demon said. He grinned sadistically. "Wonderful. I'll have fun breaking it from you again."

     Don't let him see your fear, don't be afraid. Don't let him see your fear.

     "What do you want, Alistair?" Dean demanded, slowly rising to his feet. He wasn't going to confront this bastard on the floor, even though his knees were weak and shaking.

     "Why, my dear Dean, I want you," Alistair said, grinning.

     "Too bad," Dean replied, forcing his voice to stay steady. His heart was pounding, and he was sure they could smell the fear in his scent now. The angel behind him kept the gun pointed at him.

     "You think you're a free man, do you? You think you're as good as me?" Alistair demanded.

     "No," Dean replied. "I'm better. And you can't hurt me."

     "What, who's here to stop me? You're not strong enough. You never were, Dean," Alistair said. The words, though normal, still stung. Dean swallowed.

     "I'm not alone anymore," he said. It came out as a whisper. Still, Alistair must have sensed the quiet confidence behind the words.

     His grin disappeared, his face morphing into one of angry disgust.

     "That ridiculous angel could never find you here. And if he did, I'd kill him," he replied, his voice deadly quiet.

     Dean lifted his chin, sure he'd hit a nerve.

     "He'll come. And he'll kill you. We both will," he told the demon.

     Alistair suddenly smiled, his cold eyes lighting with a psychotic glint that sent shivers down Dean's spine.

     "Perfect. I'll be waiting for him. And when he appears in the middle of this warehouse, I'll kill him dead in front of you," the demon said. He grinned even wider. "And it will be all your fault."

     Dean bared his teeth in defiance as the demon began to come closer. The Omega refused to back down, though his every instinct was screaming at him to run.

     Alistair came to a stop in front of Dean, his grin smug and leering.

     Dean swallowed, gathering his courage. He remembered Castiel's smile, the way he looked when he talked about things he loved. The way he always wrapped his wings around Dean and was gentle when teaching him fighting moves. The quiet rage in his voice when Dean told him about what Alistair had done to him.

     Dean remembered. He pushed some of his fear away, fighting through the doubts and memories.

     "I'm not afraid of you anymore," he told Alistair quietly. "You're a pathetic piece of shit, and I'm stronger now. What you did was disgusting. I'm not afraid of you."

     The demon only grinned at his words, his left hand coming up to caress Dean's cheek. The Omega shuddered at the touch, baring his teeth.

     "You will be," Alistair promised, his voice just as soft as Dean's. "You will be."

Chapter Text

     Twenty-Eight

 

     Lucifer was eating a midnight snack when Castiel appeared in his kitchen.

     The older angel yelped and choked on his sandwich. 

     Castiel was barely saved from being killed by the peanut butter. The substance made Lucifer's grip slip on his angel blade, and he narrowly missed throwing it into his younger brother's forehead.

     "Castiel?" Lucifer asked, his voice high with surprise and panic.

     "Lucifer," Castiel said. "I need y-"

     "What the fuck are you doing in my kitchen at three a.m.?"

     "I need you," Castiel repeated angrily, impatience surging through him.

     Lucifer's face changed. He wrinkled his nose. "Sorry, Cassie, I don't like you like th-"

     "Lucifer," Castiel snarled. "Listen."

     The fallen angel seemed to realize his younger brother was serious. He put his sandwich down and leaned against his cupboards, sleep-ruffled blond hair shading his rugged face.

     "I'm listening."

     "Someone broke into my house a few minutes ago. They took my Omega," Castiel explained, adrenaline and panic making him want to punch something.

     "You have an Omega?" Lucifer sounded genuinely surprised. 

     "Yes. He's gone. They took him."

     "I don't have him," Lucifer said, spreading his hands. "Sorry."

     "I don't think you took him," Castiel said, exasperated. "I need your help identifying who did."

     Lucifer looked surprised, as if he was more used to be accused of something than being asked for help. "Why do you think I would know?"

     "There were two angels and a demon working together," Castiel explained, resisting the urge to grab his brother and simply drag him.

     Lucifer seemed to understand it was urgent. He straightened. "Give me five minutes. I can grab blades and ar-"

     "No. We're going now. I have blades and armor at my place," Castiel said firmly.

     Lucifer sighed, took a longing look at his half-finished sandwich, and stepped forward. "Fine. We're going to your place?"

     "Yes."

     "Are your defenses up?" Lucifer asked.

     Castiel softened for a moment, the question cutting through the whirlwind of panic in his head for a split second. "I don't have defenses against you, Luci. I never have."

     Lucifer swallowed, the sound audible in the silence, and nodded. "Good," he said, his voice thicker than Castiel remembered it. "I'll see you in a moment."

     Castiel nodded and closed his eyes, willing himself away.

 

     He landed in his living room, the dead demon and angels at his feet. Lucifer appeared a moment later, his nose wrinkling at the sight.

     "My Father, Castiel, did you have to make such a mess?" he asked.

     "It was dark," Castiel explained. "Can you identify them?"

     "There's a lot of blood. Good Father, this one's ugly-"

     "Lucifer."

     The older angel waved Castiel off and knelt beside the demon, turning him over with a wrinkled nose and a wave of his hand.

     "Of course I can't identify this one. You've cut his head off."

     "It's over here," Castiel said, kicking at the head. Lucifer yelped as it rolled onto his shoes, jumping away.

     "Gross."

     "Tell me who it is," Castiel growled.

     "Give me a moment. If you hadn't made a soccer ball of it-"

     "Lucifer," Castiel hissed.

     Sufficiently scolded, the devil examined the severed head. He grumbled a little and poked at the eye, squinting at the iris.

     "I don't know him," Lucifer finally said. "I'm sorry, brother."

     Castiel sighed, his shoulders slumping.

     "Do you know the angels?" he asked. He knew it was a futile question. Being exiled, Lucifer probably knew far less angels than Castiel did, and the angel had already inspected them both.

     Lucifer seemed to know this, but he humored Castiel and straightened, walking over to the angel who Castiel had gutted.

     "Strange clothing," the devil murmured. He pulled at it a little, avoiding the crumpled wings.

     "Nothing?" Castiel asked.

     "No," Lucifer admitted.

     "It's alright," Castiel said. "I apologize for bothering you."

     "There's still one more," Lucifer said, clapping Castiel on the back. "Don't give up yet."

     He strode over to the angel Castiel had thrown his knife at, whistling at the wound. "I say, Cassie, you aren't half bad with a kn-"

     Lucifer stopped.

     Castiel hurried over, looking down at the dead body. There was nothing abnormal about the angel. He was young, wearing nondescript clothes.

     "What is it?" Castiel demanded. Lucifer knelt and grabbed the corpse's wrist, pulling the long sleeve up to the shoulder.

     "There," he murmured.

     "What?" Castiel asked, resisting the urge to shake his brother.

     "I've seen this little bastard before. He has a mark on his shoulder. This one," Lucifer said. He tugged at the sleeve a little more and revealed a scar shaped like a bird of sorts. Castiel frowned down at it.

     "What does that mean? Where have you seen him?"

     Lucifer didn't answer. He was too busy staring at the dead angel. "Oh, that is bad. That is not good. Cassie, this guy works for. . . he's not a good guy."

     "He has my Omega," Castiel replied, feeling anger start to rise. "Who is it?"

     Lucifer sighed and looked back at the dead body. "I don't know the kid, but I've seen him running around after Alistair. He's a big boy in the demon world. Not someone you should mess with."

     "He has my Dean," Castiel repeated. "He took him from me."

     Lucifer straightened, looking Castiel in the eye. He drew his eyebrows together, looking at Castiel strangely for a moment. Then he looked away, sighing.

     "Alright, fine. Get your knives," he said.

     "What?" Castiel asked, surprised.

     Lucifer looked back at his younger brother, and this time his blue eyes had begun to glint red. "I said get your knives, Cassie. We're going hunting."

 

Chapter Text

     Chapter Twenty-Nine

 

     They strapped Dean to a chair.

     The Omega reflected that at least they'd had to restrain him with chains this time. In the past, he'd just taken a beating from Alistair like it was a blessing.

     Now, however, it wasn't anything more than a cursed routine.

     The fists rained down on the Omega, but he refused to make a sound. Dean could tell it was pissing Alistair the hell off.

     He found grim satisfaction in that. 

     Dean had resolved not to be afraid as they chained him to the chair. He wouldn't cry. He wouldn't beg. He wouldn't be afraid of Alistair anymore.

     He lifted his chin as Alistair paused, glaring down at him with bloodied fists.

     "Getting tired?" the Omega asked thickly.

     "Not yet, my dear Omega," the demon replied sweetly. He went to town on Dean's face again.

     Time drifted. The only noises were Alistair's grunts and the sounds of flesh hitting flesh. At some point, the demon seemed to realize he was only expending energy when he didn't get any more reaction out of Dean than a cold glare.

     The demon spat a few insults and went to get some of his toys.

     Dean turned his glare on the angel standing just in his line of sight. His eyes were swollen nearly shut, but he could see well enough. He was sure his face was a mess, his nose trickling blood like a leaky faucet.

     Alistair returned and began to burn Dean's skin in random places, drawing grunts of pain from the Omega. Dean had stopped talking back a few minutes, hours, seconds, days ago. How long had it been?

     I can't keep this up for much longer. I need to get out.

     Dean gritted his teeth against a scream as he felt a knife slide across the soft skin between his neck and shoulder.

     He teetered on the edge of a blade in his mind. It was painful, the agony washing up over him and threatening to drag him down. He felt that if he lost his balance, fell into the endless ocean of pain, there would be no coming back.

     He tried to center himself, tried to come up with thoughts of Castiel. The way his voice sounded in the early morning, the way he smiled when Dean said something particularly funny, the way he demanded Dean teach him whatever move the Omega had used to get the upper hand.

     Think of Cas, think of Cas, think of-

     Dean screamed.

     Alistair had hit one of his bones. The sound had echoed in the warehouse. It hurt.

     Suddenly, Dean couldn't keep his balance on that knife's edge. He swayed, teetered, and fell.

     The Omega plummeted into a world of agony. Suddenly, the pain was too much. It tore at his edges, threatening to undo him.

     The pain was endless. Dean lost himself in it, blocking out the insults and threats Alistair was spewing, blocking out the darkness of the shadows and painfulness of the light.

     He wanted to die.

     The pain was all-consuming. It rolled over him like a tide, sucking him to the bottom of the ocean inside himself. Dark thoughts and doubts floated up, encircling his mind and dragging him deeper.

     At some point, Dean had lost control of his voice. It rose to a pained crescendo now as Alistair dug his fingers into either side of a cut he'd recently made and pulled, ripping the skin open wider.

     No, no, no, no, no, no, nononononononono-

     Dean wondered how much more he could take.

     He sank within himself again, willing his voice to make only shapeless sounds. He would not beg. He refused.

     Instead, he screamed his pain in a wailing cacophony that made Alistair grin like a sadist. The demon was panting, sweating, covered in Dean's blood and grinning like a fucking psychopath. He was a fucking psychopath, and this agony, this torture, went far beyond anything he had ever done to Dean when the Omega had been his slave.

     It's not legal, Dean thought deliriously.

     He had closed his eyes at some point.

     He opened them now, the strength to glare at Alistair nonexistent. It hurt, everything hurt, and all Dean wanted to do was die-

     He realized he was sobbing.

     Well, I guess crying is off the list. Dean still refused to beg. He would not plead with this bastard. He would rather die than do so ever again.

     I'm not afraid anymore, Dean realized. Just tired. So, so tired. 

     I want to go home.

     That was another realization. Dean hadn't had a home in a long time. But here he was, thinking of an alcove-like nest, a large and spacious house, a view of a frigid lake. And a dark-haired, blue-eyed Alpha with a crooked smile and great black wings and strong, warm arms and-

     Dean screamed again.

     It hurt to move, to think, to understand that there was no escape. Dean was going to die. He could feel it. The blood was dribbling out of his body. His broken bones had punctured too many organs, there wasn't enough air.

     Dean was going to die here, chained to a rickety chair, trapped in a freezing, filthy warehouse, being tortured by a sadistic bastard.

     He would never tell Castiel that he loved him.

     Do I love him? Yes, yes, I think I do. I think I've loved him for a long time.

     I've never loved anyone before. It's not fair.

     Dean wanted to tell him. He really did. He wanted to tell the angel, wanted to whisper it in his ear and shout it to the  whole world. 

     When had that happened? When had he fallen in love? When he had been in the throes of heat? When he had been cuddled against the warm Alpha one night? Or had it been before, far before, when he'd first seen the angel in that damned auction house?

     Dean supposed he would never know.

     He was screaming again.

     No beating, no whipping, no hunger strike or verbal abuse had ever hurt as badly as this. Even when Alistair had once rubbed salt and something else into his recent lash wounds, Dean had never been so close to insanity.

     He couldn't hear anymore. The only reason he knew he was screaming was because he could feel his voice tearing at the chords in his throat. He could see Alistair's smile.

     Why can't I just die?

     Dean could feel it coming. The numbness was beginning to pulse in his veins. The pain was receding, leaving twisted echoes of agony in its wake.

     Any second now. 

     Alistair's voice was falling away to the background, unable to be understood anymore. Thoughts of Castiel and anything else melted away too, overtaken by the single want, desire, need to die. To leave this world of pain behind.

     There was a crash. Dean thought vaguely that it was loud, echoing in the enormous warehouse.

     Then his world was exploding with white light.

Chapter Text

     Chapter Thirty

 

     After four hours of searching for one of Alistair's minions, Lucifer finally located one. The resulting torture lasted two hours, and then there was another one needed to get geared up and zero in on the exact location of the warehouse.

     By the time Lucifer and Castiel were clasping forearms to fly to the warehouse, Dean had been gone for eight hours. Castiel was itching to fight.

     They landed somewhere in a dark, rainy night. The windows of the warehouse were suspiciously dark.

     "He blacked out the windows," Lucifer murmured. "They're in there."

     Castiel gritted his teeth, allowing his rage to wash over him and fill his veins. It settled there, heavy and light at the same time, allowing a blanket of calm to cover Castiel.

     "Ready?" Lucifer asked. His eyes were glowing red in the darkness.

     For a moment, gratitude flashed through the maelstrom of rage and panic in Castiel's head. "Thank you, Lucifer. You're. . . this is-I can't thank you enough. You're-"

     "I know," Lucifer said softly. "I know, Cassie. Let's go get your Omega."

     "Alright," Castiel said, his throat tight.

     "Good. Where are we breaking in?"

     "South window."

     Castiel and Lucifer moved.

     Castiel's enormous black wings trailed softly behind him, flared and ready for battle. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Lucifer's blood red wings similarly settled. His brother had only allowed one pair to their current plane.

     He looked fierce in angelic armor. For a moment, Castiel was again both sad and angry at their father for casting Lucifer out. He had been one of their greatest warriors.

     They reached the warehouse.

     A sudden, horrible scream could be heard from within, a sound that had previously been lost in the loud rattle of rain. Castiel tightened his grip on his angel blades.

     "Let's make this fuckstick pay," Lucifer murmured.

     With a single thought, Castiel shattered the window.

     He whirled in, wings flapping and sending shards of glass flying.

     Reaching out, Castiel could feel the suppressing symbols scrawled about the warehouse, as well as on the guards who were now surging toward them.

     "I'll take care of them," Lucifer murmured in Castiel's ear.

     The angel managed a slight nod.

     He surged down to the main floor, hacking apart the guards on the ground. There was something in the middle, something Castiel didn't want to focus on. Not yet.

     He saw the angel coming at him and met him with his blades out, their edges clashing and wringing a sharp sound from the air.

     In half a second, Castiel had ducked under the X of their blades and gutted the angel. He died with a terrible howl.

     Castiel found the demon waiting for him.

     He was smiling, his blood-splattered face twisted and eerie in the light of the far-off warehouse floodlights.

     "Alistair," Castiel snarled.

     "Castiel. I believe you're here to steal something from me."

     "He doesn't belong to you. Let him go," Castiel gritted out.

     Alistair stepped to the side so Castiel could see behind him. "I don't think Dean is going to go anywhere."

     Castiel roared, white-hot rage filling his veins. He charged the demon, ducking low and hacking at his legs.

     The image of his mate, beaten and bloody and broken, fueled his strength.

     The demon leaped out of the way, bringing a knife down on Castiel's back. The angel's wings batted the weapon out of the demon's hands, and the angel charged him again.

     What followed was a sort of deadly dance. Castiel focused all his rage and strength on the demon in front of him, determined to drive his knife into his heart.

     In hindsight, Castiel realized he should have been thinking better. Getting so close to the demon had been a terrible idea from the start. One slip-up led to serious consequences.

     That slip-up came in the form of Lucifer's cry of agony from the upper catwalk.

     Castiel faltered, debating going back to help his brother. In his moment of hesitation, Alistair swept and cleaved a gash across the angel's chest.

     Castiel fell back, groaning in pain. The demon grinned down at him.

     "You fight well, for a fledgling. I'm millions of years old, Castiel. You were dead before you entered this warehouse."

     "Fuck you, you piece of shit."

     Alistair grinned, advancing.

     Castiel got up, mind scattering from the laser-focus it had been in the moment before. Dean wasn't moving behind Alistair. Lucifer was hurt, undoubtedly. Was he alive? Where was he?

     Alistair was moving again.

     He struck Castiel and the angel flew backward, hitting a stack of boxes with a grunt of pain.

     The angel slid to the floor. His vision was darkening, the blackness of unconsciousness creeping into the edges.

     Castiel looked up, his eyes focusing blearily on Alistair's figure moving toward him. The demon was shifting in and out of focus.

     "Fuck you," Castiel slurred. "You can' touch m'mate."

     Alistair grinned, flashing the knife. "I can do whatever I want. And I think right now I'll kill you."

     Castiel tried to come up with a witty comeback, he really did.

     But the blackness on the edges of his chose that moment to make its presence known. Castiel's last thought was a panicked NO! before he blacked out and fell into the void of unconsciousness.

Chapter Text

     Chapter Thirty-One

 

     Dean was on the verge of passing out when he felt hands on the chains binding him to the chair.

     He forced his eyes open, squinting into an unknown face.

     The angel was blond, his bloody, handsome face panicked. "I'm going to heal you. I can't-" He looked back at something behind him. "I can't do much more for you after that. Castiel. . . Castiel needs help."

     Suddenly, that warm feeling was stealing through Dean's body again, filling him head to toe. It took away the pain, cleared his vision, burned away the fog of agony that had surrounded Dean's head.

     He opened his eyes wide, just in time to catch the unknown angel slump to the ground.

     Voices.

     Castiel needs help.

     Dean grabbed the blade from the fallen angel without thinking, surprised at the lack of pain in his body. He still ached, but his bones weren't broken, and he didn't have many visible cuts.

     He looked up.

     In the shadows of one of the big stacks of boxes, Alistair was kneeling next to a crumpled form.

     Cas.

     "Alistair!"

     Dean's voice was wrecked. It wasn't gone, but it was scratchy and rough. The demon turned, a surprised look flashing across his face.

     Surprise, then anger.

     He glared at Dean.

     "You're alive."

     Dean spread his arms, the angel blade glinting in the lights of the warehouse. "Get away from my mate."

     Alistair snarled at him and stood, bloodied knife held in his hand. "Do you really think you can fight me? You're a lowly Omega slave."

     "I'm no slave," Dean said quietly. "And I could kill you with both hands tied behind my back."

     "Is that so?"

     "Yes. Get away from my mate, you sack of shit."

     They advanced on each other, the space between closing rapidly. Dean chanced a glance over Alistair's shoulder, eyes finding Castiel's crumpled form. He was bleeding. Badly.

     Anger, white-hot and suffocating, raced through Dean's veins.

     It burned away the fear, the uncertainty. Alistair had hurt Castiel. He had hurt Dean's mate.

     He was going to fucking pay.

     Dean stalked forward, knife held tightly. Alistair's was glinting red, the blade wicked sharp.

     Suddenly, the demon broke into a charge. He went high, so Dean ducked low, lashing out at Alistair's legs.

     The demon howled as the knife connected, sending a spray of black blood everywhere. The Omega slid to a standing position, stalking in a slow circle around the demon.

     "You're a bastard," Dean said. "A pathetic bastard. You could never earn someone's love, so you resort to torturing slaves into pretending for you."

     Alistair glared at him.

     The hatred in those cold gray eyes made Dean shiver.

     "You know, I was going to keep you alive, punish you, then make you my pet again. Now. . . now I think I'll kill you," Alistair said.

     Dean grinned smugly at him, his face sliding into the position as if it remembered his old attitude, even when he did not. "You can try."

     Alistair roared and charged Dean. The Omega ducked to the side this time, swiping up.

     There was a harsh thump. Alistair howled again, this time in agony, not anger.

     Dean turned and found him hunched over, looking oddly lopsided.

     Dean's foot kicked at something and he looked down.

     With a shock, Dean realized there was an arm lying at his feet. He had used one of Castiel's moves, one the angel had taught him weeks ago.

     If you do it right, you can cut off a limb, the angel had said. 

     Dean fought the urge to grin down at it. Castiel was right.

     "You bitch. . . You fucking Omega whore-" Alistair spluttered.

     "I'm not afraid of you," Dean said again to Alistair. 

     The demon fell to his knees. 

     Dean stepped in front of him, his green eyes looking coldly down at his torturer of four years.

     Alistair looked up at him, shock and awe written across his features, the first time Dean had seen him look at him with anything but disgust or anger.

     "Goodbye, Alistair. I hope my friend finds something fun for you to do in Hell," Dean snarled.

     Before the demon could say anything, the Omega brought the angel blade down and cleaved his head from his body with one satisfying swipe.

 

     Dean's immediate thought was to go to Castiel. But the angel was injured, and Dean knew he wouldn't survive without medical attention.

     Instead of running over to his mate, Dean raced over to the blond angel, lying on the floor next to the chair and the chains.

     "Wake up. Wake up, Castiel needs help!" Dean grunted. He shook the angel, feeling horribly guilty and panicked all at once.

     With a groan, the blond angel with the blood red wings opened his eyes. There was a deep gash along his left arm. Dean tried not to feel even more guilty.

     "Castiel needs help," Dean said. "He's dying."

     The angel grunted and sat up, shoving himself to a standing position. He swayed like a drunkard and Dean had to catch him.

     The human suppressed a yelp of pain. Apparently, not all of his injuries were healed.

     "I can heal his injuries and replenish his grace," the blond angel slurred. "But I can't do more than that."

     "I can wake him. He should be able to get us back to the house," Dean bit out. The pain was tinting his vision red.

     "Good," the angel grunted.

     They staggered over to where Castiel was lying. Angel and Omega practically fell to their knees. The blond angel reached out and took a deep breath, laying his hand on his brother's forehead.

     "What's your name?" Dean asked randomly, though he was sure he already knew.

     The angel paused, looking over at Dean. He grinned, his teeth stained red with blood. "Lucifer. Nice to meet you."

     "You too," Dean said, feeling somewhat faint. The devil turned and closed his eyes, pressing his hand to Castiel's head.

     It glowed white for moment, the glow shining bright enough to light the entire warehouse.

     Then Lucifer collapsed to the side.

     Castiel's injuries were healed. Dean, feeling suddenly very queasy, grabbed the angel's shoulders and shook him.

     "Cas," he said thickly. "Cas, wake up. Cas."

     Castiel groaned, his eyelids fluttering. Dean felt like passing out, but he continued shaking the angel until ocean blue eyes fluttered open and looked at him.

     "Dean?"

     "Cas, you gotta-your brother, he-we gotta. . . home. . . ," Dean slurred.

     He fell forward. Castiel caught him. The angel was saying something, but Dean was too far gone to hear.

     His last thought was that he was really cold.

     Then the blackness surged in and Dean knew no more.

Chapter Text

 

     Chapter Thirty-Two

 

     As much as it went against every one of Castiel's instincts, he tended to Lucifer's wounds first. The archangel was bleeding badly from a gash in his arm.

     When the wound had been cleaned and bandaged, and Lucifer had been heaved up the stairs and into the guest room, Castiel returned to his mate.

     Dean was just coming around after his adrenaline crash, his green eyes squinted against the sun that was rising through the windows.

     Castiel knelt by his side and slid his arms underneath Dean's body.

     "C-Cas? Wha'-where-"

     "It's okay, sweetheart. We're back home. I'm going to take you up the stairs and take care of you, okay?" Castiel murmured, grunting a little as he lifted the Omega. Training with Castiel for weeks had done him well; there was now a fine padding of muscle on his bones.

     "Nest?" Dean asked softly, tucking his face into Castiel's neck.

     "Nest," the angel agreed.

     He carried his mate up the stairs and into their bedroom, setting him down gently on the edge of the nest. Dean tried to lay down immediately, but Castiel stopped him.

     "Come on, Dean. You have to let me check your injuries," the angel reminded him.

     Dean gave him a sad, sleepy look and stayed sitting up, rubbing at his eyes wearily.

     Castiel hurried and grabbed the First Aid Kit, flicking on a lamp in the corner so he could see. Dean winced at the light.

     "Sorry," Castiel murmured. He hated that he couldn't just heal Dean. His grace was so depleted, he didn't even want to think about what would happen if he overextended it right then and there. It would most likely end with him and Dean exploding. Along with the rest of the house.

     Nope, not happening.

     He rummaged through the metal box and eyed Dean's torso, taking in the small cuts and bruises that still littered it. Lucifer had taken care of the critical damage, and it seemed that the worst injury Dean was still sustaining was a gash across the top of his right shoulder. 

     Castiel reached for Dean. The Omega flinched away.

     Shit.

     Castiel immediately retracted his hands, staying as small and unimposing as possible on his side of the nest. Dean blinked, looking horrified.

     "I'm s-sorry, M-I mean, Alpha I'm sorry I didn't mean-I don't-I didn't-"

     "Dean," Castiel murmured.

     "-didn't mean to I swear I'm sorry please don't hurt me I didn't-"

     "Omega." Castiel growled, resorting to desperate measures.

     Dean froze, his Omega recognizing the Alpha Voice.

     Castiel sighed. "Dean, please look at me. I'm not angry, sweetheart. Just worried."

     Dean looked up at him slowly, tears sliding down his cheeks.

     "Alpha," he whispered, and lurched forward.

     Castiel caught him gently in his arms, careful to avoid injuries as he tucked the Omega's body against his.

     "Shh, you're alright, sweetheart. You're in shock, I understand," he murmured, nosing gently at the Omega's hair.

     "I'm sorry, Alpha," Dean whispered.

     "Sweetheart, you have nothing to be sorry for. Will you let me clean your injuries now?" Castiel asked.

     Dean nodded, making no move to let go of Castiel. The angel chuckled and reached for cleansing wipes, deciding to do this in the position they were in.

     Dean flinched a little when the alcohol pad came into contact with the gash on his shoulder, but other than little jolts of surprise at how cold the bruise cream was, he didn't move much. When Castiel finished bandaging the cut on his shoulder and put the First Aid Kit away, Dean made a rumbling, almost-purring noise.

     "Sleep now, Alpha?"

     "Yes, sweet Omega. Sleep now," Castiel agreed, smiling.

     He got up and grabbed one of his softest T-shirts, pulling it over Dean's head. The Omega was definitely purring now, rubbing his cheek against the fabric.

     He's going to deny this later, Castiel thought, smiling. But I guess I am too.

     He climbed into the nest, exhausted, and laid down. Dean immediately curled up next to him, becoming a human octopus.

     The angel chuckled and threw a wing and a blanket over them both.

     "'Night, Alpha," Dean murmured sleepily.

     "Goodnight, my sweet Omega."

     Castiel closed his eyes and fell asleep.

 

     Lucifer woke up a few hours later.

     "Stay for breakfast. . . or, I guess it's lunch. Doesn't matter. Stay," Castiel insisted. "Please."

     "It's fine. I don't need to stay any longer," Lucifer said, throwing on his jacket. He'd taken off his tattered angelic armor and placed it in a bloody heap next to Castiel's.

     "Please, Mr. Lucifer. At least until your arm heals," Dean chimed in. Lucifer paused to ruffle the Omega's hair, grinning at the two of them.

     "No, but thank you. I'm going home to finish my Father-damned fucking sandwich in peace," the angel said. "Excuse my language."

     Castiel snorted. "Fine. Go home. But. . . take it easy. Thank you for. . . for everything tonight."

     Lucifer's smile turned from smug and sarcastic to something soft that Castiel hadn't seen many times before.

     "Anything for you, Cassie. Take care of Dean-o here. He's a keeper," Lucifer said. He winked at Dean. The Omega beamed at him.

     Castiel pulled Lucifer into a hug. At first, his brother tensed. Then he loosened and hugged Castiel back.

     "Thank you," Lucifer whispered, so quiet Castiel could barely hear him, "for reminding me what family looks like."

     When the brothers pulled away, neither of their eyes were dry. With a final farewell wave, Lucifer flapped away with a flash of light.

     Alpha and Omega stared at the spot he had disappeared from for a moment, silent.

     "Lucifer didn't kill Alistair, did he?" Castiel asked finally.

     Dean took a shuddering breath. "No. I did." His voice, though quiet, was firm and confident. Castiel turned to look at him, smiling gently.

     "It looked like quite the fight," he said.

     Dean managed a shaky smile. "It actually wasn't. I kicked his ass."

     Castiel laughed. "Oh, did you?" He pulled Dean close and nosed at his hair. "It looked like it."

     Dean laughed shakily, still tense in Castiel's arms.

     The angel pulled away slightly to look Dean in the eyes.

     "I'm proud of you, Dean."

     Dean looked up, eyes wide, and Castiel knew he'd hit the spot. "Really?"

     "Yes," the angel said. "So, so proud. You defeated your demon, Dean. And maybe. . . maybe he'll still show up in your dreams. Maybe you'll still have flashbacks or panic attacks, but that's okay. You killed him, literally, and that's a huge step in the right direction."

     Dean smiled shyly, looking away. "I feel. . . I feel guilty. But I feel guilty because I don't feel guilty. Does that make sense?"

     Castiel laughed. "It will after I've had some sleep."

     Dean took Castiel's hand, his movement tentative. He was still smiling that small, quiet smile.

     Castiel squeezed his hand. "Let's go back to bed," he said, his voice soft. 

     Dean smiled. "Sounds like a great idea.

     The angel followed his Omega up the stairs.

     They collapsed into the bed, curling against each other out of memory. Castiel groaned a little, his back aching.

     "I could give you a massage," Dean offered. His voice was sleepy. Castiel chuckled.

     "You wouldn't last through it," he said. He pulled the Omega into his arms. "Just get some rest. You need it. And don't wake up early to make dinner. We can go out."

     Dean smiled against Castiel's neck.

     "That sounds great."

     Alpha and Omega drifted off into peaceful sleep, curled around each other in their nest.

 

Chapter Text

 

     Chapter Thirty-Three

 

     Dean woke up with Castiel practically on top of him again.

     He grunted and poked the Alpha in the ribs.

     Castiel grumbled something incoherent.

     "Move," Dean complained. "You're heavy."

     Castiel chuckled and rolled off his Omega, landing on the blankets with a puff of breath.

 

     "Cuddle," Dean demanded. Castiel laughed again. The Alpha rolled closer and pulled Dean to his chest. The Omega sighed contentedly through his nose and tucked his face into the space between Castiel's neck and shoulder.

     They laid like that for a while, their hearts beating in perfect tandem. Dean could have stayed there forever, curled up against his Alpha, but there was something burning in the back of his mind, something that had been there since he'd been chained to that chair last night.

     After a while, Castiel pulled away slightly, looking down at Dean. "Ask the question."

     The Omega flushed. "How did you know I wanted to ask something?"

     Castiel snorted and kissed his hair. "I just knew. Ask."

     Dean sighed, fiddling with the collar of Castiel's sleep shirt. He didn't want to ask the question, didn't particularly want to know the answer, but he knew it had to be done.

     "I woke up. . . I woke up and you weren't there. The other angel was. Where were you?" he asked quietly. Castiel rubbed soothing circles into his back, a silent reassurance that everything was still alright.

     "I was. . . downstairs. I had heard a noise and I went to investigate," Castiel explained. "I ended up fighting off two angels and a demon. But I never guessed that they were the diversion."

     Dean nodded, relieved. After a few more seconds of silence, he looked up at Castiel shyly through his lashes.

     "Maybe from now on. . . maybe from now on we can face any threats together?" Dean whispered, his voice soft with uncertainty. Castiel wasted no time in kissing the Omega on the nose. 

     "Of course. I won't leave you alone again."

     Dean nodded, satisfied. After a moment, Castiel chuckled.

     "You've really been paying attention in training, haven't you?"

     Dean looked up, confused. "Why?"

     "I saw Alistair's body," Castiel said, his voice gentle. "You cut off his arm."

     Dean looked down, at the place where their chests met. Then he looked back up at Castiel, jaw set and determined. "Yep. It was an ass-whooping."

     "You told me," Castiel said, sounding faintly amused. "He didn't stand a chance."

     "No," Dean said. "Not after what he'd done to you."

     Castiel's face softened and he kissed Dean on the lips, moving soft and slow.

     Dean grabbed his shirt and deepened the kiss. By the time they'd finished, both were gasping.

     "You know," Dean panted. "I should probably go make dinner. It's most likely almost evening."

     The look Castiel gave him silenced that train of thought immediately. So did the grin the angel gave as he said, "I can think of some better things to do right now."

     Grinning back, Dean pulled him in for another kiss.

 

     After allowing Dean a few days of recovery, the angel and the Omega went to the market again. Castiel had asked Dean over and over if he was alright, to which Dean had replied yes.

     It was a lie.

     He was a nervous wreck.

     Despite the newfound confidence he had grown for their relationship, Dean was still worried. What if Michael appeared? What if Castiel didn't want him anymore? What if he turned into that cold, cruel Alpha, that replica of Alistair, again? Even if it was only for a second, Dean knew it would scar him for life.

     He decided not to dwell on it, though it stayed like a nagging fly, buzzing around in the back of his mind. Dean tried to ignore the worry, instead focusing on the gorgeous day and even more beautiful Alpha beside him.

     That was something that never ceased to amuse Castiel. The sly smirks Dean threw at jealous Omegas, angel and human alike. The angel found it hilarious, though he was confused as to why people looked at him like that in the first place.

     Dean wanted to reply that Castiel might just be the most beautiful Alpha in existence, but he knew the angel would never accept that compliment.

     They walked through the market hand in hand, the air far less awkward and tense than the first time. Dean asked what he knew must have been millions of questions, but Castiel answered each one with an amused patience that only grew as the day wore on.

     Dean had nearly forgotten his worry until they heard a voice calling from across the square.

     Castiel froze, going rigid beside Dean

     "Cas?" Dean questioned, a trickle of fear beginning to run through him.

     The angel closed his eyes slowly. "Dear Father," he muttered. "Not now."

     They both turned.

     There was a short, dark-haired woman striding toward them, her hard face set into cold lines of detachment. Dean swallowed wetly, realizing who this must be.

     "It's alright, sweetheart," Castiel murmured. Dean realized he'd been squeezing the angel's hand. "You're alright."

     The woman came to a stop in front of them, her movements stiff and robotic.

     "Mother," Castiel said. His voice, though tight and a tad cold, wasn't as cruel as when they had talked to Michael. 

     "Castiel. And. . . who is this?" Naomi Novak asked, narrowing cold eyes on Dean.

     The Omega spoke before Castiel could. "Dean Winchester, ma'am. Castiel's. . ."

     "Mate," Castiel filled in when Dean faltered. "Mother, this is my Omega."

     Naomi looked Dean over with new interest, her gaze lightly frosted with disgust. She took in the way he stood, the hand he had linked with Castiel's, the clothes he wore, the way he looked her unflinchingly in the eyes.

     Naomi turned to Castiel. "You allow such behavior?" she demanded.

     "It's called respect, Mother, you should try it," Castiel replied dryly.

     Dean tightened his grip comfortingly as Naomi's nostrils flared.

     "Well, aren't you a disappointment? Slipping back into your old ways, are you? Careful, Castiel, or you'll become like Lucifer," Naomi warned.

     That was the final straw for Castiel.

     His eyes flared wide and suddenly, the small corner of the market where they were standing was filled with his dark wings. "I would choose to be like Lucifer over you any day, Mother."

     "Castiel Novak, you are a disgrace," Naomi hissed.

     "If he's a disgrace, what does that make you?" Dean asked, unable to hold his silence anymore.

     "Silence, you piece of filth," Naomi snarled, turning her cold eyes on Dean. The Omega held her gaze without flinching.

     "Don't you dare speak to him that way," Castiel growled, his voice going lower and deeper. Dean suppressed the urge to shiver.

     "I can speak to him however I want!" Naomi cried. "He's a lowly piece of Omega trash. He should worship the ground we walk on! He should be on his knees, begging forgiveness-"

     "I'd like to see things from your perspective," Dean said calmly, "but I can't seem to get my head far enough up my ass."

     Smoothly, Castiel finished the conversation. "Good day to you, Mother."

     With that, Alpha and Omega turned and walked away from the sputtering Beta, faces calm and unfazed.

     Only when they'd gone a few hundred yards and put most of the market between them and Castiel's mother did the angel burst out laughing. Dean couldn't help but join in.

     "Did you see her face?" the angel gasped. "I haven't seen her that shocked since Lucifer and Gabriel painted Michael's wings pink and locked him in the closet under the stairs!"

     That made Dean laugh even harder.

     People were beginning to stare, but Castiel merely led Dean to a side street. When they had both calmed down enough to speak full sentences, Dean wiped his eyes and leaned against the wall.

     "That was funny."

     Castiel's face fell to a more serious expression. "Not really, actually. I'm sorry about what she said."

     "It's fine," Dean replied, surprised to find that he meant it. "I just. . . Just as long as you were the same, I was fine."

     Castiel's face softened and he pulled Dean into a hug. The Omega melted at the touch, relishing in the warmth and strength of his Alpha against him. 

     After a moment, the Omega pulled away, smiling.

     "Come on," he said. "Let's finish our shopping and go home."

Chapter Text

     Chapter Thirty-Four

 

     Castiel Novak woke up smiling.

     He left the nest before Dean, leaving his Omega to sleep. In the quiet gray of the morning, he searched through his office. When he found what he was looking for, he tucked the papers into the pocket of his trench coat.

     Castiel went back to the bedroom and gently shook Dean awake.

     "Wha'? Cas? Was' goin' on?" Dean slurred, blinking sleep from his eyes.

     "Wake up," Castiel murmured. "We're going somewhere."

     Dean moaned. "Can it wait five minutes?"

     "No. Get up, sweetheart. You can sleep in the cab," Castiel said.

     "Cab?" That woke Dean up. "Why aren't we flying?"

     Castiel smiled. "Just trust me."

     The Omega slowly got out of bed and changed, brushing his dark blond hair into a presentable position.

     By the time he'd finished, he was more awake.

     "Where are we going?" Dean asked, gelling his hair lightly. He looked at Castiel in the mirror.

     "I can't tell you that. Not yet," Castiel replied, the papers weighing heavy in his pocket.

     Dean snorted and pulled on his leather jacket. "Alright. But it'd better have some coffee. I'm exhausted."

     "Already covered," Castiel said, handing Dean a travel cup of coffee. "Ready? The cab is outside."

     "I still don't see why we can't fly," Dean murmured. He followed Castiel out of the house.

     The sun was rising in the east, spreading rays of gold across the surface of the lake. The new fallen snow glistened brightly.

     Dean and Castiel ducked into the cab waiting out in front of the house.

     "You still won't tell me where we're going?" Dean asked.

     "No. Be patient," Castiel replied, poking Dean in the shoulder. The Omega brushed him off with a playful growl. The cab started and they began to move.

     "I haven't been in a car in a while," Dean murmured, looking out at the passing trees. 

     "Me neither," Castiel admitted. "That's why I wanted a cab. I figured. . . I figured you'd like the experience."

     Dean smiled at him, his face warm and bright. Castiel resisted the urge to kiss him then and there, resolving to wait until the business of the afternoon had been taken care of.

     They drove on in relative silence. Dean rested his head on Castiel's shoulder and slept lightly. He was still dozing when they stopped in front of the building in town.

     "Dean, wake up," Castiel murmured. Dean woke with a grumble and exited the cab with the angel. Castiel paid the driver and turned to find his Omega squinting at the building they'd stopped in front of.

     "The courthouse?" Dean questioned.

     Castiel took his hand, smiling reassuringly.

     "Come on."

 

     Dean stared around the office in the courthouse, eyes narrowed.

     It was brightly lit by the sun that was rising above the city skyline. The light silhouetted the desk and chair that sat at the end of the room.

     They were directed to sit down by the lawyer sitting behind the desk, a short man with graying hair.

     "How can I help you today, sir?" the man asked.

     "I made an appointment earlier," Castiel replied. "My name is Castiel Novak."

     The man straightened, seeming to realize who and what, exactly, Castiel was.

     "Of course. How can I help you this fine morning?" the man asked.

     "I'd like to get these overridden," Castiel replied, pulling a sheaf of papers out of his coat.

     Dean stilled.

     Those papers were familiar. Very familiar.

     Images of a dark, musty warehouse that stank of fear rushed past his eyes. Those same papers, placed into Castiel's hand by Crowley himself.

     Dean watched as the lawyer inspected the papers, nodded, and asked Castiel a question.

     The words were jumbled, sounding as if they came from underwater.

     The slave papers. They were Dean's slave papers. His freedom, his life, enclosed in those thin pieces of paper.

     The lawyer said something and wrote a few notes, then stamped a big red symbol on the top paper.

     "Congratulations, sir," the lawyer said, shaking Castiel's hand. 

     Dean shook the man's hand in a daze, following Castiel out of the office. He didn't notice any of the people they passed, or the grand staircase they descended on their way to the front doors.

     Only when the rising sun pierced his eyes did he snap out of his fog. Dean stared at the angel, watching his face as he smiled.

     "Dean? Are you okay?" Castiel asked. He sounded worried, tentative.

     "You. . . you overrode my slave papers," Dean breathed. His voice was small in the cold morning, his breath puffing in the frigid air.

     "Yes. Do you know what that means, Dean?" Castiel asked, reaching up tentatively. When Dean didn't move away, he stroked the Omega's cheek gently.

     Dean stared at him, uncomprehending.

     "You're free, Dean," Castiel whispered.

     Dean swallowed wetly, the tears in his eyes and on his face glistening in the rising sunlight.

     "You. . . I-you-I can't-"

     "It's okay, sweetheart," Castiel murmured. He was watching Dean worriedly. 

     The Omega stuttered, unable to force out any word other than, "Why?"

     Castiel looked sad. His beautiful blue eyes glowed in the rising sunlight, their irises a shocking azure. Dean was amazed by how many shades of blue that were trapped inside those eyes.

     "Because, Dean, I love you," Castiel said quietly. His voice, though soft, reached Dean's ears like a thunderclap.

     I love you.

     No one had told him that in a long, long time.

     I love him. I love him too. I need to tell him. That's what's appropriate, right? I need to-I can't-why can't I say it?

     "I-I. . . I-"

     No, no, no, it's not right! It didn't feel right, it hurt too much to say, but he needed to say it, needed to tell this man that had saved him and loved him that he loved him back-

     "It's okay, Dean," Castiel soothed, tucking Dean's shaking body against his. The Omega lost the battle with himself with a puff of sobbing breath. Castiel murmured into his Omega's hair, "I understand, sweetheart. I love you too."

     Dean cried into Castiel's shoulder, like he had done so many times before.

     The angel held him, patient, whispering soothing words. When Dean's tears finally slowed, he wiped his face and looked up at his angel.

     The blue eyes that looked back at him smiled.

     Dean smiled back, tentatively.

     "You freed me," he whispered.

     Castiel brushed the tip of his nose against Dean's.

     "You freed yourself," he murmured. "I just helped."

     Dean laughed, suddenly elated. He felt like he could spread wings of his own and soar into the heavens. Like he could fly away and never come down, go faster than the speed of sound.

     "I haven't seen a sunrise like this in forever," he murmured, turning to look. Castiel snorted.

     "You can barely see it."

     Dean looked up at him, frowning. The angel grinned.

     Dean yelped as he promptly picked up. Castiel's wings, suddenly looming black in the early morning sunlight, flapped several times.

     Dean went weightless. He resisted the urge to shout again as the ground fell away beneath them. Castiel laughed, his wings pounding the air.

     Then they were settling down on top of the courthouse, the city spread below them.

     "I forgot. I hate flying," Dean mumbled. Castiel chuckled and swept a wing around the Omega, pressing him close to his body.

     Dean smiled into the sunrise, the star painting the sky red and orange. The low-lying clouds on the horizon glowed golden and pink.

     He closed his eyes and breathed in the soft wind, his heart light, freed from the shackles of slavery for the first time in years.

Chapter Text

     Chapter Thirty-Five

 

     A few days later, Castiel was startled out of his training session by a seemingly random but devastating thought. He put his knives away and promptly left the basement, heading up the stairs. Dean was struggling to reach the top shelf of the kitchen cabinets, a pile of clean plates balanced precariously in his hands.

     Wordlessly, Castiel took the dishes from him and put them on the shelf. Dean turned to him, surprised. 

     "Hey, Cas. What are you doing?" he asked. "Finished with your workout?"

     "Yeah," Castiel said. He frowned, thinking. "Dean, what is today?"

     Dean frowned. "Uh, Thursday?"

     "No, what day of the month?" Castiel asked patiently.

     "Oh. Um, I think it's the thirty first," Dean said. He paused, frowning. "It's New Years Eve."
     Castiel nodded, still frowning. "We missed Christmas."

     Dean frowned at him. "So?"

     The angel stared. "We missed Christmas," he repeated.

     Dean's face morphed into one of worry. "Yeah, and? Am I missing something?"

     Castiel sighed. "I don't know. I just. . . I liked celebrating Christmas. It was the one holiday where I could stand my family."

     Dean frowned, looking away. "We never. . . my family never celebrated it. And then. . . Yeah," he said awkwardly.

     Castiel sighed angrily. "All the more reason we should have celebrated it. We were just. . . too caught up in other things, I think."
     Dean snorted. "That's for sure. Sorry, Cas. I didn't know it meant so much to you."
     "No, I just. . . I wish I could have showed you how much better it can be."

     Dean smiled shyly, looking up at Castiel through his golden lashes. "Maybe you can do that. . . maybe you could do that next year."

     Castiel's frown split into a smile and he pulled the Omega against him, kissing him gently. Dean laughed against his mouth.

     "We could stay up until midnight," the angel suggested. "Wait for the new year."

     Dean smiled. "That sounds like a great idea."
     Castiel left to finish his workout, smiling.

 

     The angel was not prepared for how excited Dean was about the new year. When he had finished training and had taken a shower, he came downstairs to find the Omega whizzing around the kitchen, preparing more kinds of food than Castiel had ever seen.

     "What's all this?" the angel asked.

     "I don't know," Dean said, pausing. He looked embarrassed. "I just. . . My brother and I always ate food while we waited for midnight."

     Castiel smiled at him.

     "That sounds fantastic. Do you need help?"

     "You can help me make the bread," Dean said, tugging Castiel into the kitchen.

     As it was, the angel had never been particularly talented in the kitchen. He managed to get more flour on himself and Dean than in the bowl, and by the time the bread, misshapen and lumpy, was in the oven, the Omega was so thoroughly finished with the angel that he shoved him out of the kitchen.

     "Out!" Dean cried. "Before you ruin the kebabs!"

     Castiel laughed. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"

     Dean was laughing too, though he was trying to fight it. "Go!"

     Castiel headed into the living room, still chuckling.

     He plopped down on the couch and listened to the noises of Dean moving around in the kitchen.

     It was amazing, he realized, how far they'd come. How far he was from the cold, cruel soldier he'd been. How Dean was so different from the scared, skinny slave he had arrived as.

     How easy their relationship seemed, how happy and content Castiel felt. . . it was amazing. 

     He could never have imagined, walking into that auction house in Kansas, that he would have found the other half of his soul. His mate. His Omega.

     Dean came into the room, weighed down by several carefully balanced platters of food.

     "Did the bread turn out too bad?" Castiel asked.

     "No, except you added sugar instead of salt," Dean replied, bopping Castiel on the head as he passed. "I made another loaf."

     The angel chuckled.

     Dean finished laying out the food and plopped down beside Castiel. "What are you waiting for? Eat!"

     Castiel laughed. "It looks amazing, Dean."

     "Thank you," the Omega said, blushing. Castiel kissed him on the cheek and ate a cracker and some cheese.

     They ate and talked, the hours passing. It was sometime around midnight when the first explosion sounded.

     Dean jumped and nearly choked on a piece of bread.

     "What was that?" he yelped.

     Castiel chuckled, standing. "I'd forgotten. Every year, the neighborhood across the lake contributes money to buy fireworks. They set them off over the lake on New Year's Eve."

     Dean frowned at him. "Fireworks?"

     Castiel smiled and held out a hand to him. "Come on. Get your jacket and I'll show you."

     Dean hurriedly put on his jacket and followed Castiel to the door.

     The angel pulled the sliding door open, wincing at the blast of cold air from outside. He pulled Dean outside and shut the door behind them, walking through ankle-deep snow to get to the edge of the porch balcony.

     "Where?" Dean asked, his voice quiet in the still night.

     "Just wait," Castiel murmured, squinting into the darkness.

     Suddenly, a red flare lit the night. With a popping noise like a gunshot, it exploded into a million little sparks, lighting the night sky.

     Dean jumped a little and grabbed Castiel's arm. The angel chuckled and swept a comforting wing around them both, pulling the Omega to his side.

     Another firework went off, green this time. Then another and another.

     Dean stared at each one, awe on his face. Castiel was content to just watch him, a small smile on his face. The Omega's surprise and wonder was more beautiful than any magnesium flare.

     "They're beautiful," Dean murmured as another blew up. He winced. "And loud."

     Castiel chuckled and checked his watch.

     "Only a few minutes left until midnight. Do you want to make a wish when it hits?" he asked.

     "Yeah!"

     Dean smiled up at him, his face lit from the side by a million different colors. He was so beautiful, it took Castiel's breath away.

     "You're amazing," he murmured, nosing at the Omega's hair. Dean laughed and pushed slightly on Castiel's chest, looking the angel in the eyes.

     The playful look turned to something more serious. Dean looked away, suddenly shy.

     Castiel stopped, recognizing that his Omega wanted to say something.

     "I never. . . when I was in the chair in that warehouse-"

     "Dean, no."

     "No, listen," Dean insisted. He seemed suddenly adamant about something. "Listen. I-I. . . I realized something. You. . .  You're amazing. And I realized that I-that I. . . "

     Castiel waited patiently, the fireworks lighting the night behind them.

     "I love you," Dean said quietly, looking shyly into Castiel's eyes. "I love you."
     Dean's face was suddenly blurry, and Castiel had to focus so he wouldn't get tears on his Omega. He kissed him gently, eyes closed.

     "I love you too."

     They looked sappily at each other for a moment.

     Dean grinned at him, some of his confidence back. "What time is it?"

     Castiel checked his watch. 11:59:46.

     "Fourteen seconds. Make a wish," he said, his voice softening.

     "I wish we could be like this forever," Dean murmured, resting his forehead against Castiel's. "Happy and close to each other."

     "Always," Castiel whispered.

     "I love you," Dean said again.

     Castiel smiled. "I love you too."

     And as the last seconds of the year ticked down, Alpha and Omega tenderly kissed each other under the light of fireworks and a thousand stars.

 

The End