In Castiel’s defense, running had seemed like a good idea at the time. His mind had still been clogged with anger at being left behind and residual fear from his close call. Logically, Cas knew it wasn’t Dean’s fault, but emotionally, he could give a damn.
Garth had gone off for a bit of privacy—(“Downwind, for fuck’s sake!”)—and Eileen was preoccupied with fletching new arrows. Castiel had been staring off into the distance for so long, at first he thought he had been hallucinating. But there they were, on a hill just within view: the standing stones atop Craig Na Dun.
One of his guards was out of sight. The other wasn’t looking, and she wouldn’t hear him leave. This was his best and only chance at getting back to his own time. Castiel ignored the painful, ripping sensation in his chest, and ran. He’d thought he would only feel lighter as the stones grew nearer. The feeling of having his chest torn open only increased.
Castiel blamed it on how fast he was forcing himself to run. He couldn’t be feeling the first onslaught of pining sickness; that only happened with mates. To hell with the words he’d said while he and Dean were fucking. Screw the murmured phrases of encouragement they had both offered one another. Alphas were supposed to protect their omegas. Fuck that. Castiel would protect himself.
The irony at being ambushed, beaten, and restrained by a redcoat patrol not two minutes later was not lost on Castiel. He was too busy feeling indignant to care, though. One of the younger soldiers visibly gagged at the sharp, burning odor of Cas’ scent. He didn’t bother to tamper it down. If the only part of him that could fight back now was his pheromones, so be it.
One of the soldiers mentioned Fort William. A dim voice in the back of Castiel’s head reminded him that was the place where Dean had been so brutally flogged, where Sam had refused to let himself be raped in exchange for his brother’s freedom. Lucifer had commanded the fort then. Castiel only needed one guess as to who commanded it now.
While the redcoats weren’t looking, Castiel double-checked that his sgian dhu was in place, safely nestled in his boot. Once, Castiel had sworn an oath to do no harm. Mary Winchester’s knife had already taken one life by Castiel’s hand. How many more would it claim, before Cas’ story was over?
There was no way to escape the rickety wagon that currently held him hostage, not with a dozen redcoats surrounding him. He’d taken the redcoat alpha by surprise, earlier, and the man’s head had been clouded with lust. No, Castiel’s only chance was to bargain with the garrison commander.
If Lucifer was the devil, what did that make Alistair? Castiel would have no choice but to make a deal with that demon. He pushed aside thoughts of what he might have to sacrifice for his freedom, and he tried to concentrate.
The wagon lurched, jolting Cas’ body side to side. He clawed at the stock around his throat, hampered by his bound wrists. The cloth loosened, Castiel caught a waft of cinnamon, and he gasped in his first real breath since Dean had left him behind.
Cas’ heart thudded harder at the thought of the alpha. His stomach roiled. He pressed the fabric of his stock against his nose and mouth. Cinnamon and cherry flooded his senses. His head stopped spinning, his stomach settled slightly, and his pulse slowed.
“Physicians make the worst patients,” one of Castiel’s professors had told him, years and years ago. “Not just because they think they know best. They’re so used to looking at their own patients objectively, but they never can do the same when they try and diagnose themselves.”
Castiel had borrowed a shirt, stock, and waistcoat from Dean. The garments were covered in the alpha’s scent. Cas’ own had been splattered with the blood of his attacker. He had felt ill ever since Dean had left him with Garth and Eileen, and worse still when he had run away. But it wasn’t anger or fear that corrupted Cas’ honey-mint scent now, that made his chest seize and his heart ache. He was pining. Castiel should never have run.
The setting sun turned everything orange and gold, but all Dean could see was red.
“I am so sorry,” Garth squeaked. His round eyes were even wider and more pitiful-looking than normal.
“Dean, mo bràthair, do us all a favor,” Benny said. “Calm your godsdamn scent. I know you’re hurtin’ but you reek to high heaven.”
Calm his scent? Calm his scent?! How in the ever-loving fuck was Dean supposed to do that when his omega had been taken by a redcoat patrol?
“Fuck you,” he snapped.
He pulled Sam’s hand away impatiently, not realizing how much of his alpha strength was boiling in his veins. Something popped beneath Dean’s grip. Sam yelped. Dean’s senses, already on high-alert, flooded with the scent of his brother’s pain.
“Shit,” Dean muttered. “Fuck, Sammy, I—”
“It’s alright,” Sam gasped, clutching his hand close to his body. “I should have known better. I don't think anything's broken.”
Eileen scowled. Even if she couldn’t hear what was going on, the tension in the air was enough for her to understand the situation perfectly.
“Never mind your temper, a balach. What do you aim to do now?” Cain said. He was one of the few clansman who dared to get within twelve feet of Dean right now. Every single one of Dean’s pores oozed the scent of burning cinnamon spice. Harry—or was it Ed?—whichever one had dark hair—had actually vomited at the strength of it.
“We get him back,” Dean said, incredulous. What other option was there?”
“Yes, I surmised that. I meant how?” Cain asked dryly.
“They’ll have taken him to Fort William, right?”
Garth nodded tremulously at Benny’s question. He looked like a pup on the verge of peeing itself out of fright. Dean tried to breathe deep, but as soon as he inhaled, a stabbing pain hit his chest.
Dean hunched his shoulders, frowning as he rubbed his sternum. He couldn’t explain it, but he had the inexplicable feeling that something was wrong with Cas. The edges of his vision started to tunnel.
He dug his blunt nails into his palms, hard enough to draw blood. Dean forced himself to take one breath, then another. Sam’s pinched, worried face slowly refocused in front of him.
“We need to go,” Dean said, trying to swallow his panic.
“‘We’ who?” Cain’s light-colored eyes were like ice. “Because I don’t know if you remember this or not, but it’s not exactly easy to break someone out of Fort William.”
“I don’t care if it’s easy, we’re getting Cas back!” Dean roared.
“I’m not risking my men for some omega.”
Dean grabbed the front of Cain’s coat and slammed him into a tree. His grizzly grey hair flopped halfway into his face, and the alpha’s pupils dilated with fear.
“Fuck you,” Dean spat. “Fuck you, and your manipulative ass. Fuck your dark, twisted soul straight to hell. I don’t care if you’re my kin, or an alpha, or if you’re some laird’s brother. I am getting my husband back, with or without your help.”
Cain lifted his chin obstinately.
“Don’t forget he’s only your husband because I arranged it.”
A snarl erupted from Dean that shook his entire body. He snapped his teeth and fangs together, inches from Cain’s throat. The older alpha jerked his head back quickly, inadvertently smashing it against the tree trunk. Dean’s hand closed around his uncle’s throat.
“Dean, stop!” Cain wheezed. The coppery tang of his blood was in the air, blending horrendously with the acrid stench of fear.
“You are not my pack,” Dean growled. “I don’t take orders from you.”
He didn’t even need to make an effort to summon his alpha strength. Cain crumpled to the ground like a rag doll. Dean spat near his head, and stalked away.
“Get out of my way, Sam.”
The “I don’t want to hurt you” hung silently in the air between them, but Sam didn’t budge. He stood rooted to the spot between Dean and the horse, jaw clenched in determination.
“I’m going with you,” Sam said.
Before Dean could protest, Eileen stepped up next to Sam, threading her fingers through his.
“Me too,” she said.
Benny smiled. “You know I’d follow you anywhere, bràthair.”
“You’ll need lookouts,” Ash added, stepping forward.
“Yeah, we can help,” Garth said eagerly.
The comforting words and scents of Dean’s friends soothed some of the rage burning within him, but not his worry.
“I don’t have a plan,” Dean admitted.
“Doesn’t matter,” Sam told him. “We’ll figure it out as we go.”
“You don’t have to do this,” Dean insisted, looking around at each of them.
“We know. We want to,” Benny replied. The others nodded and made reassuring noises.
“You go with him, don’t bother coming back.” Cain’s voice was raspy, but unwavering. “Leave now, and you leave the Campbell clan.”
“I was raised by Clan O'Grady. I don’t owe the Campbells anything,” Eileen asserted.
Benny shrugged. “I was never a Campbell anyways.”
“Neither was I. Just because the Fitzgeralds are distant cousins, don’t make us family,” Garth reasoned.
“I never swore any oaths. I’m a free man,” Ash said, puffing out his chest.
“Only reason Dean and I ever joined you was out of respect for our mother’s memory. Samuel is our grandsire, not you. Any loyalty we have towards the Campbells is for him,” Sam announced.
Cain swayed slightly on his feet, not bothering to hide his disbelief.
“Looks like you have their answers,” Dean said. “You already know mine.”
He turned his back on the rest of the Campbells. If they wouldn’t help Dean rescue his omega, they weren’t his clan.
Sam handed over Baby’s reins. “Lead the way, Alpha.”
Dean didn’t realize until miles later that Sam, who had never addressed their father in such a way, had referred to Dean as his pack leader. The thought made him feel hollow. Whatever Dean’s clan, pack, or family might be, it was incomplete without Cas.
Castiel’s borrowed clothing lay shredded in a pathetic puddle on the floor. The only remaining vestiges of Dean’s scent were what lingered on Cas’ bare skin. Even that would be overpowered soon by the prickles of sweat beading up under Cas’ armpits.
“Dear me. I see someone has already marked you.”
Alistair tsked, scratching a yellow fingernail against one of the fading love bites on Castiel’s chest. Cas squirmed against the back of the chair, rope chafing at his restrained wrists. So much for bargaining with this demon.
“No matter. I can easily add more black and blue to your canvas,” Alistair continued, leering down at Cas. “But my favorite color was always red.”
At least the knife was sharp, Castiel thought, wincing. A dull blade wouldn’t have slashed so easily through flesh. The cut was no more than a couple inches, but blood still trickled down Cas’ chest towards his navel.
“Lovely,” Alistair cooed. “But I much prefer it when they scream.”
He traced the tip of his blade around one of Castiel’s nipples.
“I thought you weren’t supposed to mess with the ‘sweet bits,’” Castiel gritted out from between clenched teeth. That was the only reason the alpha hadn’t torn off his breeches and boots, and the sgian dhu remained undiscovered. Unfortunately, the knife was as far from Castiel’s grasp as the moon shining through a crack in the shutters.
Alistair chuckled. “Morningstar only meant the parts of you he’d need to knot you and breed you up. The rest of you I’m free to play with until he arrives, and besides…men don’t need nipples.”
“Omegas do,” Cas protested. Alistair scowled, then sliced the skin right next to Castiel’s nipple. Cas pressed his lips firmly together to keep from crying out.
“Very well. Perhaps you need to be taught a different lesson.”
Alistair crossed the tower room and dug through a chest of drawers. He hid something behind his back, and circled around behind Castiel. Something smashed against Cas’ temple, disorienting him. He didn’t realize the bonds around his ankles were loosened until Alistair forced Cas to his feet and slammed him face-first against the table.
Cool strips of leather brushed against the back Castiel’s neck. He didn’t need Alistair’s whispered threats to understand what would come next. The sickening scent of perverse happiness emanating from the alpha was enough.
“I always did prefer the lash over the knife,” Alistair said, casually as if he were mentioning his preferred blend of tea. He traced the flail’s handle against Castiel’s spine.
Cas stared resolutely at a pair of deer antlers mounted on the far wall. He would do his damndest to not give that twisted fuck the satisfaction of breaking him.
“This will be over quicker if you scream,” Alistair promised, voice sickly sweet.
The first smack hit right between Cas’ shoulder blades. He barely had time to register the pain before the second blow landed lower on his back. The third lash made Castiel cry out despite himself. It struck directly across his ass cheeks, hard enough to bruise.
“Now we’re getting somewhere,” crooned Alistair.
“Fuck you,” Cas shouted. He thought he could smell cinnamon.
“You’ll pay for that,” Alistair growled.
“I’ll thank you to take your hands off my husband.”
Cas twisted his head to see Dean perched on the windowsill, pistol in hand, looking every bit the pirate as Errol Flynn.
“Gods,” Alistair exclaimed, dropping the flail in surprise. “Cain Campbell neglected to mention you married the stripe-backed thief.”
Dean clambered down from the window, narrowed eyes never wavering from Alistair’s.
“How’s my handiwork looking these days?” the other alpha asked.
“Very well, despite your efforts.”
“I don’t suppose you’d—” Alistair licked his lips. “—you’d show me.”
Dean snarled. “Be the last thing you ever saw.”
“Well, only risk brings the possibility of reward, hmm?” Alistair said, petting the newly-formed welts on Castiel’s ass.
“Dean, just shoot this bastard!” Cas yelled. Alistair grabbed his hair and yanked him upright, pressing a knife to Cas’ throat.
“Do. Shoot me. Shoot us both, and alarm the entire fort to your presence,” Alistair taunted.
Dean’s hand trembled imperceptibly as Alistair stuck his nose under Castiel’s jaw, scenting the sour perfume of his fear and indignation.
“It appears we’re to have an audience, Castiel. I think we should endeavor to enjoy ourselves. I certainly shall.”
The air clouded with the potent cinnamon scent of Dean’s anger, and—unless Cas was very much mistaken—possessiveness.
“Now, lay that pistol on the table, and let us commence with the evening’s entertainments,” Alistair ordered. Dean didn’t move. “Do it. Slowly. I will slit his throat, I swear to the gods.”
“No you won’t. Or Lucifer won’t get his prize,” Castiel reminded him. The knife jabbed against his neck, just enough for blood to well up under the tip of the blade.
“Don’t test me,” Alistair said.
Dean’s lip curled up, exposing his fangs, but he began to lower the pistol.
“Slowly, slowly…See, that wasn’t too hard. Back you go.”
“Do it!” Alistair barked.
“Dean, get out of here, go! Please, love,” Castiel implored. His heart was beating erratically. The rip in his chest would never stitch back together if Dean were dead.
“I’m not leaving you,” Dean insisted fiercely.
“Everyone just keep calm, easy does it,” Alistair said, practically purring with ghoulish delight. “First he orders you to fire, then he orders you to flee. Who’s the alpha in this marriage, Winchester?”
“I will cut off your balls, I swear,” Castiel growled.
“You are a foulmouthed scold. For the life of me, I cannot understand why any man would…Would pledge himself to an omega, especially such a mendacious slut as this one.”
Alistair released his hold on Castiel’s hair and scraped his nails down Cas’ abdomen. Cas tried not to gag at the pungent smell of Alistair’s burgeoning arousal.
“Would you like your husband to join us, maybe? What do you say, Winchester? Huh? Or do you prefer to watch?”
Alistair’s hand began to pull at the laces of Castiel’s breeches. His other hand relaxed marginally, his grip on the knife slacked, and the point of his blade lowered from Cas’ jugular. Dean’s eyes went wide with realization.
“You don't want Cas. You want me, don’t you?”
“What can I say?” Alistair snickered. “Omegas were always too easy, too saccharine for my taste.”
“You sure about that?” Dean challenged. His eyes flicked to Castiel, and he nodded slightly. “Sassenach.”
“What?” Alistair asked, but Castiel understood.
He threw his head back and it collided with the bridge of Alistair’s nose. The alpha’s nose crunched and spurted blood, just as it had the day Castiel had first fallen through time. Alistair reeled backwards, clutching his face in his hands.
Dean pulled Cas towards him, wrapping him tightly in his arms for a brief hug.
“M’aingeal,” he murmured, drawing his dirk and sawing away at the rope around Castiel’s wrists. “Are you alright?”
Castiel threw himself in front of his husband, arms outstretched, bracing himself for a shot that never came. The powder from Dean’s abandoned pistol fizzled. Alistair blinked rapidly with confusion.
“What the devil?” he muttered, examining the empty gun.
“You bluffed your way in here with an empty pistol?” Castiel asked, both incredulous and impressed.
“Sam said try not to kill anyone,” Dean said, sheathing his dirk. He pushed Cas gently aside, seized Alistair by the front of his uniform, and threw him against the table. Castiel gaped at him.
“What? He never said I couldn’t hurt anyone.” Dean shrugged. His eyes narrowed. “You’re bleeding.”
Castiel glanced down. He’d forgotten the cuts on his chest. The blood had long since congealed, but it still stood out starkly red from the paleness of his skin.
“Son of a bitch!” Dean thundered.
Alistair got to his feet. There was blood at the corner of his mouth, and his eyes were slightly unfocused, but he charged Dean all the same. The alphas slammed together, snapping and growling like feral hounds. Cas was frozen to the spot. He couldn’t do anything, not without risking hurting Dean.
The two men tumbled to the ground, rolling across the floor. Elbows and fists flew. Alistair yowled as the point of Dean’s fangs closed around his arm. He lifted Dean by the lapels of his coat and slammed his head against the floor. Alistair flipped Dean over onto his belly, pinned down his neck, and lifted the hem of his kilt.
“So you really don’t wear anything under there,” Alistair cackled. He raked his claws across Dean’s backside. Castiel’s vision went as red as the blood beading up across the swell of Dean’s ass. Alistair began to fumble with the laces of his pants.
“Aingeal, ruith!” Dean shouted.
But Castiel was done running. He grabbed a chair and swung it, crashing it down on Alistair’s back with enough force for the chair to splinter. Alistair teetered sideways onto the floor. Castiel pulled Dean to his feet.
They turned at the sound of a boot scraping against the floor boards. A murderous glint flashed in Alistair’s soulless eyes. He gnashed his teeth together, preparing to lunge. Cas caught Dean’s eye, and understanding passed between them. They pushed as hard as they could against Alistair’s chest.
The alpha’s arms flailed as he stumbled backwards. He hit the wall with a strange, squelching thunk. Alistair looked down in disbelief at the antler points protruding from his chest. He gurgled, blood dripping out of his open mouth, and he breathed his last.
“We killed him,” Cas said, aghast. He hadn’t meant to kill him, he’d only wanted to shove Alistair away. He’d forgotten the deer antlers that were mounted on the wall, the ones that now held Alistair’s limp form. Dean’s eyes were round with shock, and he swore under his breath.
“C’mon, we’ve gotta get out of here.”
“Th—this way,” Cas mumbled, pointing towards the door.
Dean shucked off his coat and handed it over. Castiel shrugged his arms through the sleeves, warmed more by the presence of Dean’s scent than anything else.
They only made it halfway down the spiral staircase before they ran straight into two armed redcoats. Dean wrenched the end of a musket away right before it fired. Flakes of stone rained down upon them. A well-placed kick sent the soldier toppling down the stairs.
“Alarm! Sound the alarm!” the other redcoat shouted, running away.
Dean clasped Cas’ hand and tugged him forward, leaping down the last of the steps. They ducked behind barrels and crates, crouched beneath a low wall, then dashed up another set of steps towards the ramparts.
Half a dozen redcoats aimed muskets at them from down below. Cas froze, heart thumping. The wall behind the soldiers exploded in a ball of orange light. Dean threw himself over Cas, shielding him from flying debris.
He couldn’t hear anything but the ringing in his ears. For a horrible second, Castiel thought he was back on the front lines in Arcadia, about to look over and see the stars reflected in Meg’s glassy, unseeing eyes.
Strong hands gripped him under the arms and hauled him to his feet. Cas breathed in the scent of cinnamon and cherries. He came back to himself enough to let Dean lead him away. Dean climbed up on the edge of the rampart, then helped Castiel up next to him.
“We’ve got to jump!”
“Are you sure there’s even water down there?”
“Trust me, aingeal.”
“Three…two…” Dean counted. He squeezed Castiel’s hand tight. “One!”
Dawn had long since broken before Dean called the party to a halt.
“Still a couple hours to go,” he said, dismounting. “We should water the horses.”
His ass throbbed where Alistair had scratched him, and the chafing of the saddle hadn’t helped any. Dean knew that Cas couldn’t be feeling any better, either. The omega accepted Dean’s hand and slid off of Baby’s back. Castiel clutched the folds of his borrowed coat tighter around him and wandered off towards a pile of moss-covered boulders, lost in thought.
“Give her some water, will you?” Dean asked, passing Baby’s reins over. Sam nodded, a knowing expression in his eyes.
Cas jumped a little at the sound of Dean’s footsteps. There was a weary, watchful expression in his eyes.
“Are you alright? Alistair…He didn’t hurt you any more than this?”
Dean gestured towards the shallow cuts hidden under the coat. Castiel shook his head.
“No, he didn’t have time, thanks to you.”
They listened to the rushing of the stream behind them and the murmur of the other’s voices. A bird chirped. Dean watched as Castiel blinked once, twice, three times, but the omega still didn’t speak.
“I’m waiting for you to say something, anything that approaches an apology,” Dean prompted.
“An apology?” Cas repeated. The weary look in his eye was rapidly replaced with indignation. “I was taken hostage. Are you trying to say that’s my fault, somehow?”
“If you had just stayed put like I ordered you to, none of this would have happened,” Dean accused. “But why listen to me? I’m just your husband!”
“I begged you to take me with you. I told you I wasn’t in any danger by going with you, but would you listen to me?”
Castiel stepped closer and closer, invading Dean’s personal space until they were practically nose to nose. If Cas got any closer, Dean would go cross-eyed trying to keep his face in focus.
“Of course not. I’m just an omega,” Cas continued scathingly. “Why should you pay any attention to what I have to say? Or are omegas only fit to do as they’re told and obey orders?”
“If you had, we wouldn’t be on the run right now with a hundred redcoats on our tail!”
Castiel slapped Dean’s face like he had put all his not inconsiderable strength behind it. Gods, he was strong for an omega. Dean was stunned into absolute silence.
“You fool. Do you think I went and got captured on purpose?”
Dean’s blood pressure heightened and he found his voice again.
“Then what the hell were you thinking, wandering off like that?” he bellowed. So much for keeping their conversation private.
“I wasn’t thinking!” Castiel roared back, his honey scent spiking. “I was in shock—I’d nearly been raped, we’d both nearly been killed, and the man who promised to protect me was leaving me behind. You were supposed to be my alpha, you were supposed to keep me safe!”
Castiel’s words stung worse than the handprint Dean was sure was on his face. His legs felt weak, and his chest tightened.
“You made it perfectly clear that I was just your husband,” he said quietly. “Not your alpha.”
“I only said that because I was afraid,” Castiel admitted. His bright blue eyes brimmed with tears. “When you left me behind, it made me feel physically ill. It wasn’t until I was tied up and on the way to Fort William that I realized the reason I felt so sick was because I was getting farther and farther away from you.”
As if he couldn’t resist the urge, Cas reached out and took Dean’s hand in his. The vise around Dean’s heart eased its grip.
“Every day since we’ve met I’ve wanted to go home less and less,” Castiel confessed. “Because despite my very best efforts to not fall in love with you, I already had.”
“You love me?”
Dean’s heart began to thump louder for an entirely new reason.
“Yes. Yes, I love you,” Cas replied. Dean swept him into his arms.
“I love you too,” he whispered.
Cas squeezed him tighter. He nuzzled his nose into Dean’s neck, breathing in the alpha’s scent. For the first time what felt like forever, Dean could breathe normally again.
“I’m sorry for what I said. I was sore, I—I was so afraid that I had lost you,” Dean said. “Will you forgive me?”
His husband pulled back just enough to look Dean in the eyes.
“I’m sorry for wandering off. I should have trusted you. Will you forgive me, too?” Cas asked.
“Forgiven,” Dean echoed. He gently lifted Cas’ chin with the tips of his fingers, and Castiel pressed their lips together.
The cozy inn was a welcome respite from the chilly night air. A fire crackled merrily in the corner. Castiel was sandwiched comfortably between Dean and Eileen, warmed by the food in his belly and the laughter of his friends.
“So, while Ash was dicking around, setting the fuses to the gunpowder,” Benny said, in between bites of roast chicken, “I sent three of the redcoat wussies to meet their maker.”
“As your lawyer, I am not hearing this,” Sam said, pretending to cover up his ears.
“Yeah?” Ash leaned forward. “Did you use your breath or your farts to subdue them?”
“You callin’ me a liar?” Benny asked, but the corners of his mouth were twitching as he fought to resist a smile. Garth, who was stuck between the other two, shrunk in his seat, trying and failing to make himself smaller than he really was.
“Yeah, ‘cause you’re lying,” Ash insisted. “You didn’t kill anybody.”
“Stop flapping your gums, Benny,” Dean said, rolling his eyes.
“Have a drink,” Garth offered, nearly knocking over a mug in his haste. Benny roared with laughter, then grabbed the pitcher of ale and began to refill everyone’s drinks.
“Not too much, though. We should probably get an early start tomorrow,” Sam said, leaning around Eileen and Cas to meet his brother’s eyes.
“Okay,” Dean agreed, nodding.
“Are we going to meet back up with the others?” Castiel inquired. His stomach squirmed at the thought of what the other Campbell clansmen might have to say about their adventure.
“Uh…not exactly,” Dean hedged. He fiddled with a crust of bread. “I kinda…uh…kicked Cain’s ass when he tried to stop me from going after you.”
“Hell yeah. He went all alpha on Cain. I was impressed,” Ash piped up.
“You were about to piss yourself,” Benny countered.
Ash goggled for a second, then composed himself.
“Because I was so impressed,” he said.
“Wait,” Cas cut in. “If Cain tried to stop you, then how…?”
“We told him where he could shove it,” Benny shrugged.
“Yeah. You’re one of us now, Cas,” Eileen said.
“But—Dean, you have a price on your head,” Castiel protested. “If you broke ties with Cain—”
“He won’t turn Dean in. Samuel will make sure of that,” Sam said with a grimace. “Besides, your healing skills are too valuable for Samuel to kick you out of Leoch, and he’ll know now that you and Dean are a package deal. Don’t worry. I’ll make sure Samuel sees reason.”
Cas looked around the table, amazed at what these highlanders had all had done for his sake.
“You all risked so much for me…how can I ever repay you?”
“That’s what you do for family,” Sam said.
With Dean’s arm around his shoulders, surrounded by the smiling faces of their friends, Cas felt more at home than he ever had in his own time.
Moonlight shone through the thick glass windowpanes of the upstairs room. This was the first time Dean and Castiel had been truly alone since the wedding. Cas toed of his boots and stockings, once again lost in thought. The muscles in his arms protested as he peeled off his borrowed coat.
“Mac na galla,” Dean breathed. His hands clenched tightly into fists. “You said he didn’t hurt you more than what I’d seen.”
“I thought you had already seen where he beat me,” Cas replied.
“Beat you? He tried to flog you.”
The anger in Dean’s eyes was distant, directed at Alistair's ghost. He motioned for Castiel to turn around, and Cas obliged.
“You’ll be sore, but I don’t think it’ll scar,” the alpha said. He tentatively rested a hand on Cas’ waist.
“What about here?” Cas asked, slipping his breeches off.
“Ifrinn.” Dean stepped back in shock.
“What? Did it bleed?” He looked over his shoulder, but all Cas could glimpse was the top curve of his backside.
“No, but you’ve got some wicked bruises. How did you manage to ride like that?”
The simple truth was that Cas had grown accustomed to ignoring his own aches and pains. He’d had years of experience dealing with sore muscles and fatigue from his time as an army medic.
“You’d be amazed with what the human body can endure under pressure,” Castiel said. “Do you see this scar, here?”
He guided Dean’s hand to the thin silvery line on the back of his arm. Dean traced his thumb along the faint ridges. He likely hadn’t seen the scar before; now that Cas had spent months in the misty highlands, his skin had returned to a fair shade of porcelain. The blemish blended nearly perfectly against its surroundings.
“I walked around for hours with shrapnel sticking out of me before someone noticed,” Castiel explained. “I couldn’t feel a thing until they pointed it out, and I looked down, and then I nearly fainted straight away.”
“How the hell did you end up with shrapnel in you?” Dean inquired, more curious than incredulous.
Castiel took a deep breath before he answered. Words of love and affection were all very well. He still needed to see how Dean would react to the truth, or at least a part of it.
“I told you I worked overseas as a physician. A field surgeon would be a more accurate description. There was an explosion. I was too preoccupied treating the wounded to notice that I was hurt, too.”
“An explosion? Like during a battle?”
Cas nodded. “Yes. I traveled with the Elysian army for several years.”
Dean opened his mouth, but Castiel answered his question before he could ask.
“My first husband was an intelligence officer. But I was never a soldier, Dean. I never wore a red coat, never fired a gun, never hurt anyone on purpose. Alistair and that deserter—those were the only people I've ever killed.”
In the nanosecond before Dean answered, Cas feared the worst. Then Dean wrapped his arms around Castiel’s waist, and drew him close.
“I believe you,” he said, planting a kiss near the corner of Cas’ mouth. “I don’t think all Elysians are evil, you know.”
Cas laughed with relief. “I would hope not, seeing as how you married one.”
He accepted Dean’s tender kiss, mouths moving slowly together. There was something shy about Dean’s movements, in the way he had hesitated before touching Castiel, as if he expected to be rejected at any moment. Cas withdrew gently, then kissed each of Dean’s cheeks with a soft brush of lips.
“I don’t suppose either of those has my medical kit?” he asked, nodding towards the bags that Dean had dumped unceremoniously near the foot of the bed. Perhaps Cas could treat two maladies at the same time.
“Oh. Yeah, actually. D’you…d’you want any help?” Dean asked, rubbing the back of his neck self-consciously.
“Yes, thank you.”
Castiel had examined his and Dean’s injuries as best he could when they had stopped to water the horses, but it wouldn’t hurt to go over them again. Cas made idle conversation as he worked, explaining what he was doing and why.
He kept his laments for the lack of adhesive bandages or medical tape to himself. Dean remained baffled enough that Cas had diluted whiskey to make disinfectant, and why it was necessary to dab it over his cuts in the first place.
When he encouraged Dean to clean the inch-long slash near his nipple, Cas knew perfectly well that the proximity of Dean’s hand would make the sensitive flesh pucker. He knew that Dean was acutely aware of Castiel’s nudity, too.
“You’ll have to do this for me,” Cas said, with a convincing note of regret. “I can’t reach properly.”
Dean’s eyes went wide when he recognized the jar of ointment. It looked nearly identical to the one Castiel had once given him to use as lubricant.
The alpha cleared his throat gruffly, and set to work on the welts across Castiel’s back and buttocks. At first, the soft touches prickled and stung, but then Cas was able to relax at the feel of Dean’s careful ministrations. He was almost at the point of purring with satisfaction when Dean began to speak. The words came slowly, haltingly, as if Dean had been thinking them for quite some time.
“Cain—and some of the other alphas too—they’d expect me to beat you. For disobeying my orders, putting others at risk. It’s what my father would have done. He raised me to believe that omegas were supposed to obey their alphas without question, without hesitation. But I don’t think that’s going to work with us.”
“You’re right. I am not the meek and obedient type,” Castiel responded.
He realized that Dean had finished with the ointment, and Cas took it back with numb hands. The blood that had begun to travel to his groin receded, and Castiel felt himself grow limp again. He set the jar of ointment aside, not bothering to return it to his medical kit.
“I’ll see if I can bunk with Eileen—”
“Cas, wait. Please,” Dean interrupted. Castiel kept his expression guarded, but he nodded for Dean to continue.
“You were right. I was supposed to keep you safe. Give me another chance to prove myself.”
Dean extended a hand, and Castiel accepted it automatically.
“I want…I want to be your alpha—even if it’s in name only—and I want it to be on your terms,” Dean said. “And I want you to be my omega—my parter, my equal.”
“Do you really mean that?”
“I do,” Dean promised.
“Then as your partner, you’ll let me take care of you?”
Castiel nodded. “Good. Then take of your clothes.”
Dean’s eyes flicked to Castiel’s crotch and back up again.
“So I can see how badly you’re hurt, Dean,” Cas sighed.
“Oh. Right. Okay.”
Aside from a few bruises, Dean wasn’t badly hurt. Castiel still kissed each mark, just to watch the way Dean’s lashes fluttered in pleasure. The only problem was the scratches where Alistair had clawed at Dean’s ass. Cas fought back the urge to growl at the sight of it. Fortunately, though, Dean wouldn’t need stitches. Castiel didn’t think Dean would take kindly to a needle down there, anyway.
He directed Dean to lie down face-first across the bed. Dean tensed at the first swipe of ointment, and Cas placed his hand on Dean’s other cheek to steady him. Dean’s body relaxed, so Cas continued, carefully dabbing his wounds. The alpha had such a lovely ass, all round and firm.
“Enjoying the view?”
Cas paused, realizing that he had been palming Dean’s bottom with his free hand.
“Yes,” he stated.
“What’re you—ifrinn!” Dean exclaimed.
Cas brushed the pad of his thumb between Dean’s spread cheeks. Dean’s scent grew heady. He shuddered. Cas felt a dampness between his own cheeks as his body responded to the evidence of Dean’s arousal.
“Get on your knees,” Castiel ordered, voice low. Dean tucked his legs up underneath him, ass on display. Cas sucked in a breath at the sight, then teased his fingertip down Dean’s crack, circling the pink rim.
“Dean, are you—do you have an erection?”
“Gods, don’t say that word aloud.”
“Would you prefer it if I asked if you were hard?”
Dean whimpered, and rocked back against the pressure of Cas’ finger.
“Are you hard for me, Dean?”
“Yes.” Dean clenched the sheets in his hands.
Castiel brushed the tip of his stiffening cock against the back of the alpha’s thighs, all while teasing his fingers against Dean’s hole.
“I think you like this, don't you Dean?” Cas purred. “I think you like giving up control. Letting me take care of you.”
Dean groaned. “Yes, aingeal. Please.”
“Please what?” Castiel asked, slotting his hard-on between the gap of Dean’s thighs.
“Please just fuck me already, Cas.”
Dean whined again, this time in protest. Cas nudged Dean’s hip until the alpha rolled over onto his back. The flush in his cheeks spread all the way down to the soft, curly hairs on his chest. Castiel crawled on top of his husband. He could see his own reflection in Dean’s lust-blown pupils.
“You’re not an omega, love. My body is designed to receive without having to clean down there first. Yours isn’t. But I’ll tell you how later, if you really want me to fuck you someday.”
“But I want you,” Dean pouted.
“I know, alpha. You can have me.”
Cas bent down and captured Dean’s mouth in a kiss, tenderly at first, then fiercely, biting and nipping at Dean’s lips and down his neck. He pushed Dean’s hand aside impatiently, even though Dean had hardly begun to finger him. Cas moaned as he lowered himself down onto Dean’s cock, thrilling in the slight stretch and burn.
“Can I knot you?” Dean begged, breathless.
“Wait,” Cas panted. Dean’s grip on his thighs tightened.
“I cant—I can’t hold off much longer,” Dean groaned. “You feel so good…”
Castiel angled his hips, bouncing in time with Dean’s thrusts. He worked a hand furiously over his own dick, feeding the spark within him. Cas could feel his orgasm cresting, burgeoning from deep inside.
“N—now—oh, gods! Dean!” he cried, painting the alpha’s chest with white, just as Dean’s knot caught. Cas tipped forward, kissing him through his peak.
“I love you,” Dean whispered. “M’aingeal. Omega mine. Cas.”
“As I love you, Dean, my alpha.”
Castiel lay awake long after Dean’s knot had slipped free, listening to the alpha’s snuffling snores. He turned his necklace over and over in his hands, watching how each side of the coin gleamed in the moonlight. Cas could wait until fate forced his hand. He could risk it all, or keep his past to himself. Heads…or tails? Truth, or lies?
Dean snuggled closer to Castiel’s back, nuzzling his nose against Cas’ dark locks, then slept on. The alpha’s scent radiated happiness. Castiel’s heart skipped. His mind was made up. If Dean were to be his alpha, he deserved to know the truth.