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Fallen Through Time

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Craigh na Dun

 

CRAIG NA DUN, 1948

 

The first thing he noticed was the rumble of passing cars. Castiel had grown up with the background noise of machinery and electricity, but now the sound grated on his flayed nerves. Mist clung to the plaid-lined cloak around his shoulders. Cas barely noticed it. The ice around his heart chilled him to the marrow of his bones more than the weather ever could. 

Somehow he found his way down the hill. Where hours ago, from Cas’ perspective, there was naught but grass and heather, now an asphalt road cut across the landscape. It was an eyesore, a blessing, and a curse all in one. All Castiel had to do was follow the path of modern civilization and he would be right back to where he started. He wouldn’t be home, though. Cas left that and his heart behind on a barren moor, doomed to die. 

He was so lost in thoughts that he didn’t notice the car that approached until its headlights blinded him. Three years without electric lights had Castiel cringing and shielding his eyes. He almost missed the man getting out of the car, but the odors of soap and hair pomade that masked the man’s natural scent made Cas reel back in surprise. 

“Sir? Are you alright?” the man said. It took Castiel a moment to realize that he was asked the question more than once. 

“Who won?” he tried to say, but the words came out in a rasp. 

“Sir?” 

“Who won the Battle at Stull?” Castiel said. Reflexively, his hand went to the crescent-shaped scar at the junction of his neck and shoulder. 

The man, an alpha, Cas could now tell, stared up at him with wide, puzzled eyes. “What?” 

“I said, who won the Battle at Stull?” Castiel repeated. 

When the alpha didn’t answer, Cas lunged forward. The man’s manufactured clothing felt unnatural and fragile in Castiel’s grip. 

“Who won?!” Cas demanded with a roar. 

“Th—the Redcoats!” the alpha squeaked. 

Numbly, Cas’ hands released the man’s coat. His knees wavered and he dropped to the ground. The last thing Castiel registered before the world went dark was curling his hands protectively over the life growing within him, over the last piece he had of his heart.

 

Chapter Text


 

INVERNESS - 3 YEARS EARLIER (AND 206 YEARS LATER)

 

Lawrencia was many things: isolated, damp, a bit chilly, covered in heather and thistle, filled with strange people and stranger names, and home to what could politely be called some of the more unique foods Castiel had ever seen. It was beautiful. After nearly six years of roughing it in army-issue tents and the endless view of blood, guns, dirt, carnage, and more blood, the peaceful green of the Lawrencian countryside was a welcome sight. 

“Ugh. How does Gabriel stand it here? I swear it hasn’t stopped misting since we got off the bloody train.” 

Castiel peered sidelong at his longest friend, barely repressing a smirk. Balthazar would complain about anything, given enough time. 

“No one could ever say that my cousin was a totally sane man,” Cas said, causing the beta to bark a short laugh. 

“Too right,” Balthazar muttered. Then he stopped abruptly at the doorway to Gabriel’s home, eyes wide at the unique décor that had been slathered above the door. 

“Blood,” Cas said, unnecessarily. 

“I swear, if this is another of Gabriel’s pranks—”

“It’s not,” Castiel said, calmly. “And I don’t think it’s human, either.” 

“Is that nose of yours telling you that?”

“No. Look, Baz,” he said, pointing. Each of the neighboring houses had similar red streaks adorning their door frames. 

“It’s for protection,” a voice said. The two men turned to see a chipper red-headed beta standing in the threshold, arms on her trouser-clad hips. “For Samhain, you know.” 

Sau-wane?” Cas repeated, over-emphasizing the pronunciation. Lawrencian words were a mystery to him, as they never were said the same way Castiel expected. 

“Aye. The end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, when the realm between worlds grows thinnest,” the woman said with a mischievous grin. 

“You’re not going to tell us another ghost story, are you? Because I got enough of those on the train ride up here,” Balthazar complained, but his mouth was twerked up in a small smile. 

“Don’t mind him,” Castiel said. “You must be Charlie, right? Gabriel’s assistant?”

“The one and only,” Charlie beamed. 

She held out a hand for Cas to shake, and if she noticed the callouses on his hand, she didn’t comment. Most people would have at least given Castiel an odd glance, given his gender status, but then again, Charlie worked with Gabriel. She had to be accustomed to more than a few oddities. 

“So, what else do we need to do for Samhain?” Cas asked, as Charlie gave them a hand carrying their bags. 

“Carve some turnips—pumpkins will work, in a pinch—wear a mask if you’re out on Samhain night—And don’t go near the standing stones on top of Craig Na Dun. It’s a local superstition, but you can never be too careful.”

“Why ever not?” Balthazar inquired, but before Charlie could answer, someone interrupted.

“Ritualistic virgin sacrifice,” the short, whiskey-eyed man joked. Then he winked over-dramatically at Castiel.

“Seriously, Gabe?” Charlie huffed. 

“Well, where else would we get the blood?” he asked, faux-serious, as he came down the steps. 

“The butcher’s, I’d imagine,” Cas said, which for some reason made his companions laugh. 

“Welcome to Lawrencia, cousin,” Gabriel said, still chuckling, as he embraced Castiel. The beta’s toffee scent was comfortingly familiar to Cas, even though he had hardly seen his cousin in person for over five years. 

“It’s good to see you, Gabriel.” 

“Of course it is,” he agreed.

 


 

Castiel and Balthazar were welcomed into Gabriel’s home with the customary fussing one does over a close relative, but fortunately, Castiel was spared the feeling of being herded by boisterous, ruffled chickens. His first visit to see Balthazar’s family after V-Day was a unique form of torture. The whole trip had been insufferably, inescapably stifling, even though it came nowhere near the atrocities committed during wartime. Castiel didn’t know which was worse: the looks of disbelief when people found out he was a doctor, or when Cas was given the same significance as a teaspoon. At least when he was ignored, Castiel wasn’t expected to make conversation. The last remaining member of Cas’ family was as opposite from Balthazar’s family as day was to night. 

How Gabriel became a man of the cloth was beyond Castiel. As a child, the beta had been notorious for his pranks and penchant for sweets. Gabriel as an adult lost none of his youthful jocularity, but still at least managed to know when something was not a laughing matter, and more than capable of putting others in their place. Cas liked to compare his cousin to a small terrier: cute from a distance, vicious when wronged. Once, to his utter delight, Castiel had witnessed Gabriel scold a sexist alpha so furiously, the man looked like he might wet himself out of fear. Gabriel had also had a somewhat rebellious youth, so when he followed in his late father’s footsteps, everyone was entirely surprised. However, no one was overly shocked when he decided to settle in Lawrencia instead of Elysium.

“So, shall we eat first, or let you two settle in?” the man offered. 

“Settle in, please. I swear, it’s only been six months since we’ve rejoined polite society, but I’ve already gotten used to the city life again,” Balthazar said. “I could stand to freshen up a bit.” 

“The guest bedroom has two twin beds, but we could always push them together, if you like,” Charlie offered. Across the sitting room, Gabriel pursed his lips together in a thin line. Evidently, his secret-keeping abilities had gotten better with age. 

Balthazar turned a silent, expectant gaze on Castiel, with a small shrug that seemed to say, it’s your family, your decision.

“That won’t be necessary, Charlie, but thank you,” Cas said, smiling politely. The beta’s eyes flicked once between the matching rings on Castiel and Balthazar’s hands, but she didn’t comment.

Once in the guest bedroom, Castiel flopped unceremoniously onto the twin bed closest to the window. The frame was barely long enough to accommodate all six feet of him, but he wouldn’t complain. A real bed was infinitely better than a bed roll. 

“Doesn’t Gabriel have more than one spare room?” Balthazar mused, already digging his things out of his suitcase. 

“Yes, why?” Cas asked, still lying flat on his back. 

“Oh, nothing. It’s just I thought you might want your own room. I know the sleeping arrangements at my mother’s were rather uncomfortable. She is such a traditionalist, you know…”

“I could have done without the comments about ‘growing the next branch of the Adler family tree,’” Cas said, dryly.

Balthazar cringed. “Yes, well, Naomi has plenty of grandchildren. She’ll manage.” 

“We could always take adopt,” Castiel suggested, as Balthazar started hanging up his shirts. “There are dozens of pups nowadays that were orphaned from the war.”

“Is that something you want? Pups, I mean. It’s just—that was never part of our arrangement—” Balthazar stilled, hand on an empty wire hanger. 

Cas propped himself up on one elbow. 

“Baz, I just spent the last few years witnessing the kind of depraved shit people can do to one another. Do you really think I’d want to bring a pup into that?”

“Not particularly,” Balthazar admitted, resuming his task. Gods knew he was no stranger to the horrors of war, either. “But you’d tell me, if our arrangement no longer suited you?”

“Of course,” Castiel said. He watched as Balthazar made sure his trousers were aligned just so on their hanger. It was something Baz had done for as long as Cas could remember, but after six years of separation, the movements seemed oddly foreign to him. 

“Does it no longer work for you? Our arrangement?” he asked, quietly, picking at a loose thread on the quilt beneath him.

“No, I’m perfectly content,” Balthazar said, sitting down on the bed opposite Castiel. Then, because the man could never say anything sincere without following it with something crude or brash, he added, “You’re my oldest friend, Cassie. Marrying you to shock my mother was just an added bonus to our friendship.” 

Castiel threw a lace-covered pillow at his face. For a second, Balthazar looked appalled, but then his face split into a wide grin, just as Cas had intended. 

 


 

Castiel was never one to complain about food, so long as it contained some nutritional value, but if he were served herring one more time, he just might go out into the woods and forage for his next meal. Baked herring, boiled herring, fried herring—the blasted fish kept cropping up in a new, equally slimy and tasteless way every time. Cas wasn’t squeamish, to say the least, but after a week in Lawrencia, he wondered if his army rations didn’t contain more variety than herring. At least this afternoon was free from a fishy fare. Castiel doubted that even Lawrencians would find a way to turn herring into scones.

Old Larry Ganem was the head of Inverness’ historical society and part of what Gabriel had dubbed the “village welcome wagon.” Therefore, afternoon tea at his cottage was both expected and an honor. The only reason it had taken so long for Castiel and Balthazar to visit was that the people of Inverness kept coming to see them at Gabriel’s manse, instead of the other way round. As Mr. Ganem was blind, it was difficult for him to go calling these days. Castiel didn’t mind in the slightest. The old man was welcoming, thoughtful, and passionately knowledgeable about the local history, and even what he good-naturedly called the pseudo-history of local folklore. 

“You’re welcome to join everyone at the town square for the bonfire on Samhain,” he said, somehow managing to sound both enthusiastic and refined at the same time. 

“Are you sure?” Balthazar asked. “Someone at the pub last night distinctly called us sassenachs. I don’t know if we’d be welcome.” 

Mr. Ganem waved a hand dismissively. 

“It just means ‘Elysian.’ Or at worst, ‘outlander,’” he explained.

“Then we would love to attend,” Castiel said, with a warning glance at his companion.

He knew the sleepy village life of Inverness wasn’t exactly Balthazar’s “scene,” but Cas had been forced to spend over a month with the other man’s relatives pointedly looking at his unblemished neck and unsubtly hinting that a mating mark might encourage a breeding to take, and when was his last heat, again?

Gabriel was the only blood relative Castiel had left, and if Inverness was where he called home, then Balthazar could bloody well bite his tongue and chafe at the peaceful boredom in silence. 

In retrospect, what happened next wasn’t anyone’s fault, really. It wasn’t Mr. Ganem’s fault that his housekeeper didn’t know to expect company and had set out a tin teapot, instead of a china one. It also wasn’t Mr. Ganem’s fault that the potholder was wearing a bit thin. His wife had passed several years ago, and how would an aging, sightless widower know to replace the potholders? 

Neither was it exactly Mr. Ganem’s fault for asking Castiel to pour the tea. That was what expected in polite company, after all. And Balthazar could hardly be blamed for finishing his cup of tea and wanting another. He’d been delighted that Mr. Ganem’s housekeeper had gotten ahold of oolong, which just so happened to be Balthazar’s favorite.

Likewise, Castiel could not—or should not—be blamed for picking up the teapot with the well-worn potholder and accidentally placing his thumb on the most threadbare spot, directly next to the piping hot metal. In fact, he should have been commended for not dropping the damn pot onto the rug. 

Uttering the phrase, “motherfucking piece of shit!” at an impressive volume, however, may not have been the best course of action. 

“Sorry, so sorry,” he said, examining the blister rapidly forming on his thumb. “Bastard burned me.” 

Then he looked up, saw Balthazar attempting to stifle a laugh and Mr. Ganem’s dumbstruck open mouth, and Castiel realized what he had said aloud. 

“Oh gods,” he mumbled. 

To his complete surprise, Mr. Ganem began to chuckle.

“I haven’t heard such colorful language since I was in the trenches during the Great War,” the old historian said. “Are you alright, man?”

“Uh—yes, yes, I’ll be fine,” Castiel replied. “The teapot was hot—took me by surprise—”

“Wherever did you learn to swear like that?” 

“Overseas,” Cas explained. “I was a medic, in the army.” 

“Don’t be so modest, Cassie. He was a trauma surgeon, Mr. Ganem, and a bloody good one too, from what I’ve heard,” Balthazar said, with smug expression. 

“However would you know?”

“Army Intelligence, remember? We heard things. Besides, I’m not the only one who kept tabs on friends and family,” Balthazar said, shrugging nonchalantly. 

“You sound very proud of Cassie,” Mr. Ganem commented.

“Castiel,” he corrected, automatically. 

“Oh! My apologies. I knew it was short for something, but if Reverend Milton told me your full name it must have slipped my mind. But Castiel, did you say? Hmm. I feel like I’ve heard that name before.” 

“I’d be surprised if you did,” Castiel said, though not unkindly. “It’s a rather unusual name, even for Elysians.” 

“Yes, strange, isn’t it, with all those stuffy things Elysians name their children,” Balthazar agreed. 

“No, no, I’m sure I’ve seen that name before, but it was a Lawrencian, I’m sure of it,” Mr. Ganem said, though he seemed to be speaking more to himself than to anyone else. 

There was no time to discuss the matter further, for at that moment Mr. Ganem’s housekeeper arrived, arms full of shopping bags, and everyone realized how late the hour was getting. 

 


 

The night before Samhain, or “All Hallow’s Eve Eve,” as Charlie so cheerily put it, brought plump grey clouds on the horizon that promised an impending storm. 

“Any superstition about the weather, for this time of year?” Castiel asked her, as they walked arm-in-arm back to Gabriel’s manse. From a distance, all the villagers would see was a man escorting a woman home. The wind was in the entirely wrong direction for anyone to pick up a whiff of their secondary genders. 

“Oh, oodles,” Charlie said. “Lawrencians have a superstition about everything. Why do you think those alphas back at the pub looked so smug when you didn’t kiss Balthazar goodbye?” 

“But I did,” Castiel protested, confused. He didn’t remember anything on the alphas’ expressions except frustration at Balthazar’s poker skills.

“On his forehead, though, not on the lips.” 

“He was busy playing cards. Besides, I’m not going to kiss him like that,” Castiel said, then added quickly, “In public, that is.” 

Charlie looked at him sidelong, but didn’t comment on his near-slip. 

“My point is, if you get a kiss—a real kiss—from your mate in the middle of a round of cards, you’re sure to win,” Charlie said confidently, but the tips of her cheeks and ears were tinged pink. 

“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a terrible liar, Charlie?” Castiel said, though he smiled as he said it. 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” the beta squeaked. “I just—Gabriel wouldn’t tell me anything, and I thought I could get you to spill—I’m sorry, Cas, I’m too nosy for my own good sometimes.” 

“Perhaps you are,” he conceded. “But your curiosity is what makes you, well, you.” 

“Does that mean you’ll tell me?” Charlie asked, perking up again. 

Castiel laughed. “I think I’d rather just keep you guessing.” 

“Cas!” Charlie whined, hitting him playfully on the arm. 

The sky chose that moment to let loose fat drops of rain, splattering haphazardly on their hats and coats. Charlie tugged Cas’ sleeve and they darted the last few yards to shelter under Gabriel’s porch. 

 


 

The rain clouds had brought a mild storm, and even though the drizzle was petering out into a fine mist, the power still hadn’t come back on. Candlelight reminded Castiel of his childhood, constantly traveling with his uncle to remote, far-off places for Chuck to do his scholarly research and dig ancient things out of the dirt. Cas flicked the light switch down, just in case the power came back on in the middle of the night. He didn’t exactly welcome the rude awakening that the power returning suddenly would bring. 

To any other omega, the soft glow of the candles might be a prelude to an attempt to seduce one’s husband. That thought simply didn’t occur to Castiel, even though he knew it was what society expected. He and Balthazar had been married for nearly ten years, but with no pups to show for it. Castiel didn’t care, and he knew Baz didn’t care, but he wouldn’t deny it that a few choice comments from the Adler family were getting to him. Balthazar’s father in particular was exceptionally adept at making Castiel feel uncomfortable whenever someone brought up the subject of pups. 

“Hester and her husband are expecting again, you know,” Zachariah had said, with a pointed glance at Castiel’s flat stomach. 

“Bully for Hester,” Castiel had mumbled, just loud enough for the old fart to hear it but not be able to call Cas out on his snark. Thankfully, the topic of conversation had steered away from Castiel, and he hadn’t been expected (or invited) to comment further. 

Idly, Castiel placed a hand on his abdomen, wondering what it would feel like to have a life growing within. A tree brach tapped on the window. Castiel shook his head and put the thought aside. He returned to his futile attempt at detangling his hair. He’d never been able to fully calm it, and the electricity in the Highland air made his dark locks even more unruly than ever. After a few moments, Cas gave up, and he tossed the brush aside. He sank into an armchair just as Balthazar almost literally blew into the room. 

“Hello, Baz. Did you win your game?” he asked, but Balthazar didn’t appear to hear him. Instead, the beta peeked out the dark window intensely, as if he could see anything other than his own reflection, before yanking the curtains closed. He went straight for the decanter of Glenfiddich. 

“Balthazar? What is it?” Castiel asked, as the other man downed his whisky in one go. Balthazar poured another, and then a second glass—without water—for Castiel. 

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” Cas said, in an attempt to lighten the mood. 

“I’m not so sure I haven’t,” Balthazar said, doffing his coat and hat. 

“I thought you didn’t hold any stock in Lawrencian superstitions.” 

“I don’t, but—“ Balthazar paused, loosening his tie, and then launched into his strange tale. 

By the end of it, Balthazar was noticeably less keyed up, but Castiel had grown more disbelieving with every word. 

“Let me get this straight. You were on your way back from the pub, thought you saw a Highlander staring at me fussing with my hair through the window—” 

“Yes, but not just any Highlander, a tall one in full regalia—”

“Yes, yes, kilt and all, so you said,” Cas said, shaking his head. “And when you approached the man, he didn’t appear to hear you, and then when he turned to walk away, he should have brushed your shoulder, but didn’t.” 

“Exactly. It was like his arm passed right through mine. I got chills.” 

“Right,” Castiel said, drolly. He finished his whisky and got up to pour another. “Anything else you remember?”

Balthazar thought for a moment. “I’m not sure—but I caught the barest scent of something sweet.” 

“The neighbor’s roses?” Castiel suggested. The woman was crazy for white Lawrencian roses, and had them growing all over the place. 

“No, more like…honey,” Balthazar said, absentmindedly tracing the rim of his tumbler.

“Honey is one of my scents,” Castiel reminded him, gently. 

“I know. It was like you, but with something else, some kind of spice, I think,” mused Balthazar. The clock ticked. Abruptly, Balthazar looked up and met Castiel’s eye. “Did you nurse many Lawrencians, during the war?” 

“A few,” Castiel said, grinning at one particularly fond memory, as he made his way back to his seat. “There was this one who hated needles, and—”

But he stopped his story short at the somber look clouding Balthazar’s once-again downturned eyes. 

“Balthazar? What exactly are you trying to ask me?” Castiel asked darkly. 

“It’s nothing, Cassie, I…”

“Tell me,” he demanded, sitting up straighter in his armchair. 

“It’s just—things happen, during war. People turn to each other for comfort. I thought maybe—if you’d nursed a Lawrencian—grown close to each other—and perhaps he’d heard you were in here, he might have come looking for you—”

“Stop.” 

“Gods know I’m not one to point fingers when it comes to fidelity, but if there was anyone else, Cassie, I need to know—”

“I already told you about Meg. And I can assure you, no one ended up pregnant,” Castiel said, stiffly. The field hospital had pumped enough suppressants into everyone to make sure they didn’t go into heat or rut that it was a wonder some of Castiel’s wartime colleagues had managed to conceive, now that there was peace. Castiel doubted he ever would. 

“I wouldn’t blame you, you know,” Balthazar said softly over the crackling fire. “I meant what I said the other day. If our arrangement no longer works, for either of us—”

“Let’s just go to bed,” Castiel interrupted. He shed his clothing and crawled into bed in only his undergarments without a backwards glance. Cas was already half asleep by the time the candles were extinguished. 

 


 

“Charlie told us not to—” Cas hissed, only to be unceremoniously shushed.

“All we’re doing is watching,” Gabriel whispered, with a devilish grin. Castiel rolled his eyes. Really, a man who worked for the church should not be capable of such wicked innuendos and expressions. 

“I still can’t believe Inverness has witches,” Balthazar muttered. 

“Modern-day druids,” Castiel corrected testily. “One of whom explicitly told us to stay away from Craig Na Dun on All Hallow’s Eve, may I remind the both of you.” 

“Both of you, shut up. It’ll be fine. I haven’t seen the Dance of the Druids since I was a pup. They haven’t done this, I mean really done this, since before the war started. It’s supposed to be quite the sight,” Gabriel said quietly, in between little pants as he led the way up the hill. 

The beta had forgone his clergyman’s collar and was instead dressed in well-worn layman’s clothes. He’d offered flannel coats to Balthazar and Castiel as well. Balthazar had graciously yet haughtily declined, but Castiel had accepted, which he was now regretting. He was warming up uncomfortably under the thick fabric the higher they climbed. 

“Here should be good,” Gabriel said, after another ten minutes. He crouched down behind a pile of mossy boulders. “Anyone got the time?”

“Half hour ’til dawn,” Castiel said grumpily. 

He stuffed his pocket watch back into his trouser pocket, only just then noticing that he’d forgotten to put on a belt. No matter. Mornings—especially before the sun had risen and without any sort of emergency—were not when Castiel’s brain functioned the best. It was a small miracle he’d been able to make it up the hill, with what little restless sleep he had gotten the night before. Cas wasn’t sure what had bothered him more: the conversation with Balthazar from the night before, or the memories they’d drudged up.

“How much longer?” Balthazar griped, shivering. Castiel sighed and shrugged out of his coat, shoving it in his husband’s direction. This time Balthazar accepted the garment without complaint. 

“Oh look, you can see the city from here,” Balthazar commented. Cas turned his head to see the electric lights of civilization winking at him tauntingly. Somewhere down there was a soft if small bed waiting for him.

“Shh! There they are,” Gabriel said, pointing. The other two men fell silent as they watched little balls of orange light bob up the hill and into the stone circle. Castiel counted twenty-eight lanterns, all carried by figures clad in something billowy and white. As the figures took their places in the circle, the wind changed, and from their scent, Castiel realized that every person up there was either female, an omega, or both. 

He suddenly felt very out of place. A little voice tugged in the back of his head, urging him away. Cas glanced left and right. Balthazar’s face was pinched and uncomfortable, but Gabriel was gazing at the modern-day druids with open, unabashed curiosity. 

At some invisible signal, the druids turned to face the same direction and bowed deeply, lanterns held high. They gave a quarter turn, and another, and another, repeating themselves each time. The four points of a compass, Castiel realized.

The circle of druids turned, each trading places with their neighbor in a sinuous figure eight pattern. They stepped with silent, bare feet as they changed course, forming patterns, linking hands, all to a soundless beat. 

But no, not soundless at all. One woman had been singing from the moment the druids formed their initial circle. High and sweet, in a language unknown to Castiel’s ears. Gradually, more of the druids joined in, overlapping the woman’s melody with a unique blend of harmonies. Tenor joined treble as dissonance threaded into the song, eerie and bittersweet. The tempo increased and the dancers quickened their pace, swirling in time to the ancient hymn as they ushered in the dawn.

It should have been ridiculous—this group of women and omegas, prancing about in unbound hair and draped in what looked to be bedsheets. Instead, the music thrummed under Castiel’s skin and he could hardly blink, let alone look away, as he watched the druids’ dance. His eyes watered as the sky lightened, though from the haunting tune or the rising sun he didn’t know. 

Then as suddenly as the dance began, it stopped. Dawn shone through the largest standing stone, in the very center of the circle. The top of the stone was high above anyone’s reach. Each of the druids held up their lantern to the center stone, reverently, as the last notes in their song resonated through the early morning air. 

For a few breaths, the druids held their pose, but then the tension dissipated and they dispersed, no longer creatures of mystery, but ordinary people once more. Castiel let go a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. So that was what Gabriel had meant by “a sight to be seen.” 

 


 

“I think I saw my neighbor up there,” Gabriel said, once the coast was clear. “Mrs. MacLeod, did you see? With the fiery red hair.” 

“I didn’t,” Castiel said, patting his pockets. He had the inexplicable sense that he was forgetting something. Or missing something. Or both. 

“I definitely saw Charlie,” Balthazar commented. 

Castiel stuck his hands into his pockets, giving up on whatever he’d misplaced, and that’s when it hit him.

“Oh, fuck me sideways,” he muttered. 

“Well, if you insist,” said Balthazar, with more mocking than any actual feeling. 

“What’s wrong, Cassie?” Gabriel asked, genuinely concerned. Castiel had always had a mouth, to be sure, but something in his tone must have given away his slight distress.

“I dropped my pocket watch. No, you two go on down the hill. I’ll meet you at the car.” 

He waved them on and turned on his heel, making better time climbing alone and in daylight. His breath made small clouds in the morning chill, but the ascent kept his blood pumping enough to warm him. Cas crested the hill and shielded his eyes against the rising sun. 

There was his pocket watch, thirty feet away from any place Castiel had stood at the base of the tallest stone, the one in the very middle of the circle. Perhaps a bird had picked up the watch up and dropped it? Cas mused to himself as he approached his fallen property. He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn’t notice the whispering at first. It was almost like the wind, but the closer he got, he thought he could hear voices, murmuring words Castiel couldn’t quite make out. 

A few feet from the monolith, the susurrus of noises changed. Underneath the whispers a droning, buzzing sound came forth. The hairs on the back of Cas’ neck prickled, but he didn’t want to turn away. Something about the noise called to him, drew him in like a honeybee to a flower. Cas peered through the gap in the stone, then walked all around the column, only to find that he was quite alone atop the hill. He shook his head. He must be imagining things. 

Then just as he was about to turn away, the wind picked up, tugging at Castiel’s clothes. He whipped off his woolen cap, the better to try and make out the noise around him. The voices that weren’t quite voices got louder. One in particular became clearer and clearer, until Castiel was sure it was calling his name. He didn’t remember ever hearing the voice before, but something in him knew it. Cas took a step forward, and then another, without truly knowing why. He touched his palms briefly against the lichen-covered rock. The scent of ozone surrounded him, and—

(Once, during the war, Castiel had fallen asleep in the back of a supply truck. The driver took a turn too fast through the mud, and the truck slid off a bridge into a river. He’d awoken to the double sensation of both utter weightlessness and adrenaline-spiked blood pumping furiously through his veins. That moment, just before impact with the water, was the closest Castiel could compare to this moment. Only the sensation now was thousands and thousands of times more potent.)

Castiel was forced to blink his eyes several times before the world was clear again. Something, he couldn’t quite tell what, was different about his surroundings as they swam above him. Had the sun gotten lower in the sky? Had the dew evaporated from the grass beneath him? Was he imagining it, or was there a chill in the air that he hadn’t felt before?

He seemed unharmed, if perhaps a little confused, so Castiel picked himself up and haphazardly brushed himself off. The strangeness of his surroundings continued as Castiel walked further and further down the hill. There were definitely some shrubs and ferns that he hadn’t noticed during their ascent up Craig Na Dun. Some of the trees almost looked smaller, younger than they had earlier. Most peculiar of all was the complete absence of footprints upon the damp earth. Even if Castiel had managed to come down a completely different path than Gabriel and Balthazar had taken, wouldn’t he have at least come across the trails of the modern-day druids?

Cas was about to call for his companions when he heard shouting nearby. To his surprise, it was the rough cadence of Lawrencian, yelling something unintelligible to Castiel’s ears. A flash of red caught Cas’ eye, and he turned to see several men dressed like the Redcoats of old trade shots with a group of scruffy, kilt-clad Highlanders. His first thought was that somehow Castiel had stumbled onto a film set. Then one of the Redcoats spotted Cas, and the ground a few feet from him exploded in a shower of dirt. 

Cas’ rational mind reeled, even as instinct took over and his legs carried him swiftly away from the pops of gunfire and the coarse shouts of the clansmen. His shirtsleeve caught on a branch, but he paid no mind to the ripped fabric. There was no time to give to such a trivial thing. 

He was strong “for an omega,” as some were wont to say. Castiel preferred to think it was a result of his philosophy that he couldn’t care less for what society said his gender should or should not do. His career was one example of that; his physical fitness was another. However, no amount of running around a track could have prevented Cas from slipping on a pile of wet leaves and bracken. Only an innate sense of self-preservation had Cas tucking his chin to his chest and bracing himself as he rolled and rolled down the hill. 

Water gurgled somewhere nearby, and Cas dashed towards the noise. He didn’t remember a stream on the drive to Craig Na Dun, but any landmark had to be helpful in finding his way back to the others. Cas tried not to think about the fact that while he could have missed a small stream of water while whizzing down the road in Gabriel’s convertible, surely none of them would have missed…well, whatever this was, with the Redcoats and the clansmen. Maybe it was some sort of re-enactment, and Gabriel’s silence on the matter was another one of his jokes. But then again, wouldn’t he have seen fit to mention the live fucking rounds? 

The mud squished beneath Cas’ boots as he neared the stream. He halted at the bright red fabric mere yards away from him, struck dumb at having come so close to whoever these people were. The man in the historic uniform turned from filling up his canteen to stare at Castiel with pale-hued eyes.

“What the devil?” Cas blurted. 

“Indeed,” the man said, rising to his feet.

“Who the hell are you?” 

“I am Alistair Randall, Esquire, Captain of His Majesty’s Eighth Dragoons. At your service,” he said, with a small incline of his head and no small amount of conviction. 

It dawned on Cas that whoever this man was, he truly believed what he was saying, even though that couldn't be possible. It just couldn’t. So, he did what any half-terrified and bewildered person would do when faced with the insane: he ran. Or at least, he attempted to run, but quickly found himself with his back against a tree trunk and a very sharp, very real sword pressed to his throat. 

“Who are you?” the man demanded, and this close Castiel’s nose twitched at the unfiltered miasma of unwashed alpha. The scent triggered something brash and defiant within Castiel. Instead of answering, he spat in the alpha’s face. 

Unfortunately, this only made the man press his blade closer to Castiel’s neck. The skin prickled as it tore, enough to sting but not quite enough to draw much blood. 

“You’d be well advised to tell me exactly who you are and what you’re doing here,” the alpha said, nasally voiced pitched low and dangerous. 

“Get off me, you bastard,” Castiel growled. 

“The speech of a well-bred omega,” the man said, sheathing his sword. “The language of a whore. I choose the whore.” 

Before he knew what was happening, the alpha spun Castiel around. The rough bark scraped against Cas’ face, and the man twisted his hand through the back of Castiel’s hair to hold him in place. Cold air hit Cas’ lower back and the top of his cheeks as the alpha scrabbled to pull down his pants. Luckily, the button and zipper of Castiel’s trousers held true, and he wasn’t exposed further than a couple inches. The forced calm of the battlefield washed over Castiel. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and called old, nearly-forgotten teachings to the forefront of his mind. 

First, elbow to the ribs.

Air whooshed out of the alpha’s lungs in a satisfying grunt. 

Knee to groin.

The man doubled over. 

Then smash the nose for good measure.

The cartilage in the man’s nose squished as Castiel forced the alpha’s head down on the top of his thigh. Blood spattered across his trouser leg and the alpha dropped to the ground. Castiel looked up, about to plan his imminent escape, when he was suddenly met with the greenest pair of eyes he had ever seen. 

“Mac na galla,” the stranger murmured, almost too softly for Castiel to really hear. 

“What?” Castiel asked, but the clansman before him only stared at him in awe.

The red-coated man on the ground moaned, and the highlander shook his head slightly, like a dog clearing its coat of water. 

“Ruith,” the clansman said, holding out a hand. “Ruith!”

Castiel didn’t quite know what the man meant, but his eyes shone with sincerity and so for some unknown reason, Cas decided to trust him. He took the highlander’s hand without a second thought, and allowed himself to be led away from the stream. His would-be rescuer held tight to his hand, and they ran nearly side by side, at pace with one another, until they came across a beastly black horse tacked to a tree. 

“Wait a moment,” Cas said. “Who are you? What’s—” 

The green-eyed man turned, still holding onto Castiel’s hand. He said something else in Lawrencian, all while gesturing with his free hand. Cas only caught one word, sassenach, and gave up communication as a lost cause. He begrudgingly allowed himself to be helped onto the horse. The clansman climbed up behind Castiel and wrapped a strong arm around his middle. He clicked his tongue and the horse was off, thundering through the woods with a grace Castiel wouldn’t have expected from an animal its size. 

Cas lost track of time for how long they rode. He might have drifted off for a little bit, for one moment they were pelting hell-mell through the trees, and the next, the horse had slowed to an easy walk along a well-worn cart path. The world was turning softly golden with the twilight, making the little house up ahead look like an idyllic cottage perfectly frozen in time. 

The clansman didn’t speak as he dismounted his horse. He offered a hand to help Castiel, and he took it, not just to be polite. Something inexplicable drew him to the strange man in front of him. If only he could place his finger on it. This close, he could count the man’s sun-kissed freckles, smell the faint scents of wool and heather, as well as something of the man’s own scent that reminded Cas faintly of cinnamon and cherry. 

“What’s your name?” Castiel said, unable to tear his gaze away from the man’s face. They were nearly of a height, and he could stare into the man’s eyes easily. 

“Dean,” the clansman replied. 

“Dean,” Cas repeated, testing out the feel of his name as it rolled off his tongue. “I’m Castiel.” 

“That’s a mouthful,” Dean said, mouth quirked up in a half-smile.

“So you can understand me,” Castiel said. 

“‘Course I can. What’d you think, I was just an ignorant Lawrencian highlander or something?” 

“I don’t have much experience with Lawrencians. Or any highlanders, for that matter. You’re the first real one I’ve met,” Cas said. It wasn’t a total lie; none of the Lawrencians he had met were quite as authentically dressed as Dean was. Though, if Cas was being truthful, the kilt wrapped around the man's waist and the dark green tam on his head were rather fetching. (Not, of course, that Castiel would ever say that to a man he had just met).  

“Then I hope I’ve made a good first impression, ‘cause you’re about to go meet more,” Dean said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder at the cottage. He offered his hand once more. Castiel took it, like it was the most natural thing in the world. Dean led him onward, and Castiel went, without a backwards glance.

 

Chapter Text

 

Castiel tried very hard not to wrinkle his nose at the assorted smells wafting about the cabin. The peat fire was most prominent, but the general filth of the kilt-wearing collection of highlanders was perhaps the most pungent. 

Breathe, Castiel reminded himself. The smell of gangrene was worse than a few dirty men. This was nothing compared to the war.

Unconsciously, he shifted his head in Dean’s direction, and a whiff of cherries and leather met his nose. He supposed that Dean wasn’t exactly freshly bathed either, but he looked slightly less grimy than the others, at least. 

The highlanders exchanged words with Dean in their native tongue. Castiel thought he caught the word sassenach mentioned a few times, but he wasn’t sure if they meant him or the Redcoats. (Hadn’t Mr. Ganem said sassenach was the word for Elysian?)

An older alpha with a wild mane of hair in various shades of grey approached. Cas bit back the urge to lower his gaze or bare his neck. He’d never bowed or presented to an alpha before, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to start now.

“Let’s have a look at you, then,” the alpha said, guiding Cas roughly closer to the light streaming through an open window. Castiel bristled at the touch, and maybe he was imagining it, but he thought Dean did too. The alpha looked him over with a neutral expression.

“What’s your name?” the man asked, in a kinder voice than expected. 

“Castiel,” he answered, then paused for a split second. “Castiel Milton.” 

He didn’t know why he used his own family’s name instead of Balthazar’s, only that it felt right at the moment. 

“Castiel Milton," the highlander repeated.

“Yes. And just what the hell—”

“You said you found him?” the alpha said, as though he were oblivious to the fact that Castiel had just spoken.  

“Yeah,” Dean said. “Having words with a certain captain of dragoons.” 

“What kind of words?”

To Castiel’s surprise, Dean’s cheeks darkened, and he looked reluctant to answer.

“He seemed to think that I must be a whore,” Cas answered, blunt as ever. “I can assure you, I am not.” 

“We can put that to a test,” one of the clansmen leered.

A low growl rumbled within Dean’s chest, and his hand went to a dagger near his hip.

“Bi samhach,” the grey-haired alpha ordered. Then he turned to the other clansman and said, in a tone that brooked no arguments, “I don’t hold with rape. You’d do well to remember that.”

“Cain, I dunno what he is or where he came from, but I’m pretty sure he’s not a—you know,” Dean said, regaining some of his calm. 

“Then what is he?” 

He is standing right here,” Castiel cut in.  

“And Cas broke that redcoat bastard’s nose for trying to lay a hand on him, so I wouldn’t try anything if I were you,” Dean said, glowering at the others. The older alpha—Cain—looked mildly impressed, while the others’ expressions ranged from confusion to outright disbelief. 

“We’ll figure it out later. There’s a good distance to go tonight, and we’ve gotta do something about Garth first,” Cain said, stalking towards the fire. 

A string bean of a man sat on a bench, hunched over and partially huddled in his plaid. He grimaced and yelped when Cain prodded his bare shoulder. 

“It’s out of joint,” one of the highlanders murmured. 

“We’re not leaving him behind,” Dean said. 

“Then there’s no other way—I’ll have to force it back into the joint,” said another man. The burly clansman directed Dean and a couple others to hold the skinny man steady. Cas made it until the burly one set his hands on the dislocated shoulder before he could no longer hold his tongue.

“Don't you dare!” he cried, stepping forward. Dean looked at him, open-mouthed. Another highlander drew a knife, but at the sight of this blade, Castiel wasn’t frozen with fear. He had to help. He simply had to.

“Stand aside at once,” Castiel ordered. Surprisingly, Dean straightened immediately, though unsurprisingly, none of the others let go. Cas turned toward Cain, who was once again staring at him with an indecipherable expression. “They’ll break his arm if they do it like that. You have to get the bone back into the proper position first in order for the joint to slip back into place.” 

Cain swept a hand towards the injured man in invitation, and the other highlanders reluctantly backed away. If they’d had fur, it would have bristled to high heaven. 

“Hold him steady,” Castiel said. Dean, who had been hovering nearby, wrapped strong arms around the thinner man. 

“What’s your name?” Castiel asked. He swept his fingers lightly over the dislocated joint, just to confirm what he already knew.

“Garth Fitzgerald the fourth,” he answered, then gulped nervously in anticipation. 

“Hello, Garth. I’m Castiel,” he said, making his voice as smooth as possible. Cas wrapped a hand around Garth’s uninjured wrist, counting out his heartbeats. The acrid scent of fear filled the room. 

“Do you have a sweetheart, Garth?” Castiel asked, hoping that a non sequitur would distract the beta enough to answer through his pain.

“Y—yes. Her name is Bess.” 

“What’s she like?” Cas said, placing his hands carefully into position.

“She’s the best,” Garth said, managing a smile. “She’s real sweet, but brave, and true.” 

“I need you to be brave for Bess now, Garth,” Cas murmured, low enough for only the beta to hear. Garth nodded. With a sick pop, Garth’s arm slid back into place. 

“Oh! Wow! It doesn’t even hurt anymore,” Garth said, beaming broadly. 

“It will,” Cas said, “It’ll be tender for a week or so. And you’ll need a sling. Dean, could you—” 

But Dean was already handing over a belt for Castiel to bind Garth’s arm. 

“I take it you’ve done this before,” Dean said, as Cas maneuvered the worn leather around Garth’s thin frame. 

“I'm a doctor. A physician. You know, a healer?” Castiel explained.

Dean’s green eyes widened, and he nodded. 

“How does that feel, Garth?” Cas asked. 

“Much better, mister, thank you!”

“Can you ride?” Cain demanded. Garth nodded, somewhat meekly. “Good. We’re leaving.” 

The Highlanders set about gathering their things. Cas stood awkwardly, trying not to be in the way, until Dean touched him lightly on the shoulder. 

“C’mon, Cas,” he said. 

Outside, the small yard was bathed in silvery moonlight. Castiel’s heart sank. Even if he did know the way back to Inverness, it would be a fool’s errand in the darkness. And speaking of—

“Where’s the city?” Castiel asked. “Shouldn’t we be able to see it from here?” 

“Inverness? Yeah, you’re looking right at it,” Dean said, pointing at a smudge off in the distance. 

There were no lights, either from fire or electricity, as far as Castiel’s eyes could see. All the evidence Castiel had tried to ignore hurtled towards his mind with the velocity of a runaway train. He knew, in his soul, that he was no longer in the twentieth century.

 


 

They rode all night. This time, Cas’ mind wouldn’t settle enough for him to doze. He hadn’t even noticed he was shivering until Dean pulled his plaid up around Castiel’s shoulders. The lingering scent of Dean was soothing, but not quite enough to calm Castiel’s nerves. He had to think. 

He couldn’t think, not properly. His mind kept wavering between two very different subjects. The first, which should have been his priority, was how the hell he was supposed to get back to his own time. How exactly standing stones allowed one to time travel wasn’t a priority at the moment, but somehow Castiel had stepped through them and fallen through time. Therefore they were the way back to 1945, right?

Cas couldn’t help but wonder. Did the modern-day druids know some great secret about the standing stones? Charlie had warned them to stay away from Craig Na Dun on Samhain. Was this why? 

“Dean?” said Cas, just audible over the creaking leather and clopping of horses’ hooves. 

“Hmm?” 

“I thought people were supposed to wear masks if they were out on Samhain night?” 

Dean chuckled. The sound, so close to Castiel’s ear, sent shivers down his spine. 

“Only regular folks. Hunters have their own forms of protection. But don’t worry, Cas. We’ll keep the demons away,” Dean promised. The arm around Castiel’s waist tightened just a hair, and Cas’ back was pressed just a fraction closer to Dean’s chest. 

“Because I’m a lost little omega, helpless and alone?”

“No, Cas. Because everyone deserves to be saved.” Dean’s scent turned warm as mulled cider.

And there was the second thing Castiel couldn’t tear his mind away from: how nice it felt to be pressed close to Dean, wrapped together in his plaid and cocooned in his scent. They swayed together with the gentle rocking of the horse beneath them. Cas was simultaneously comforted and awkwardly reminded of how much the motion mimicked lovemaking. 

Never had he experienced the act with his parter in Dean’s position. Would his tall frame feel just as warm without the barrier of clothes between them? Would Castiel’s thighs ache more pleasantly with a bed beneath them, instead of a saddle? He wondered, idly, which of Dean’s scents would amplify as he perspired. Sugary sweet cherries, or the spicy sweet aroma of freshly-ground cinnamon? Both were likely to make Castiel’s mouth water. Already he could almost feel the ghosting tendrils of arousal within him—

No. No, that would not do, Castiel thought, to have wildly inappropriate thoughts about a strange man he had just met, while stranded in another century. No. 

Cas took a deep, fortifying breath, half to steady himself, half to scent himself as subtly as possible. Fortunately, the natural aromas of damp earth and horse, with undertones of unwashed men, was the predominant odor in the vicinity. Only a small taste of mint lingered in the air, blending harmoniously with Castiel’s usual honey smell.

And of course, Dean was shifting in the saddle for entirely unrelated reasons. Castiel’s brain couldn’t come up with one at the moment, but surely there had to be a good, solid reason. 

 


 

It was just after dawn broke when Castiel finally spotted something vaguely recognizable. He had spent Samhain night with his eyes peeled, desperately looking for a landmark of some kind, some way to guide him back towards Craig Na Dun. Eventually every tree and shrub had become identical in the shadowy woods, but the pre-dawn gloom illuminated a familiar shape. 

“I know that rock,” Cas said, twisting a little in the saddle. “The one that looks like a rooster’s tail?” 

Dean said bizarre-sounding word in Lawrencian, then said, “Or as the Elysians call it, Cocknammon Rock. What about it?” 

The name stirred up a vague memory of a grainy photograph, along with one of old Mr. Ganem’s stories.

“They called it ‘Cocknammon Rock,’ as it looked like a cock’s tail, but also because if you found yourself at the base of the rock feeling like you were being watched, you’d—pardon the phrase—‘cocked it all up.’ Redcoat patrols used the area for ambushes, at least until the highland clans wised up to it.” 

“Stop the horse,” Cas requested.

“What?” 

“Dean, the Redcoats use this place for ambushes. They could be lying in wait—”

“Ifrinn.” 

Dean spurred the horse closer to the front of the party. Cain greeted him with raised, bushy brows. The younger man spoke low and urgent in Lawrencian, gesturing between the group of clansmen and the hill ahead. Cain smoothed his whiskers, deep in thought. Then he asked a short question, eyes darting between Dean and Castiel. 

“He’s sure,” Dean said firmly. 

Cain gripped the handle of his sword.

“Tell me exactly how and why you know that there’s an ambush up ahead.” 

“I don’t know for certain,” Castiel said. “I just heard Cocknammon Rock was used for—”

“Where did you hear?” Cain interrupted.

“In the village,” Cas replied tersely, chin raised in defiance. (Though who or what Cas was defying, he wasn’t exactly sure.)

Cain barked orders to the other highlanders. Blades were drawn and pistols cocked. Someone shrieked a war cry. Swift as a trapdoor opening beneath a noose, Redcoats advanced on them.

“Sorry about this,” Dean said, and pushed Castiel off the horse onto a patch of damp heather. 

All around them, swords clanged. The air thickened with gunpowder and smoke. 

“Hide yourself!” Dean ordered, before urging his horse onward.  

Hide himself? Fuck that. This was his chance. Cas ducked behind a fallen log, waited just long enough to be sure no one noticed him, and ran off without a backwards glance. In truth, he had no idea where he was, but they had come from the west, so to the west he went. Shortly after, Castiel’s imminent escape was cut short by the thundering of hooves. He whirled and cursed under his breath. 

“Lose your way?” Dean said, as he dismounted. His left shoulder was stained bright red.

“You’re bleeding.”  

“It’s not mine. Most of it, anyway,” Dean said, stepping closer. The sunlight dappling through the trees glinted off his sword. Fortunately, the man didn't appear too keen to use it.

Castiel cast his eyes left and right, but there was nowhere to go. Dean stood in front of him, reeking of sweat and musk. Cas didn’t trust himself to move closer to the highlander; his fight or flight (or fuck) instincts were going haywire. And behind was no option: even if Cas managed to not get stuck in the mud, there was no telling how deep the stream was behind him, or what lay hidden in the murky water.

“How did you find me?” he asked, trying to buy some time.

Dean smirked. “Your scent’s not hard to follow. The second I couldn’t notice your smell, I knew you’d run off.” 

The clansman’s tone was nonchalant, but his body said otherwise. His muscular chest rose and fell rapidly with each word. Was it adrenaline from the fight that made him breathe hard, or maybe pain? Or was it something more? Cas’ pulse quickened.

“Come on, Castiel,” Dean said, holding out a hand. Somewhere nearby, a twig snapped. A taste of fury threaded in the wind.

“Dean—” 

“Don’t make me throw you over my shoulder,” he said, oblivious to the new reason for Cas’ distress. 

“Dean!” 

A shadow advanced behind the highlander. Castiel launched himself at Dean without any finesse whatsoever. They tumbled to the ground. Dean snarled, first in surprise, then in rage as he finally noticed the Redcoat who’d snuck up on them. He flipped Cas over onto his back and hovered on top of him, lips curled back in a threatening grimace. Dean’s body was warm and strong above him. His legs, bare beneath his kilt, brushed against Castiel’s own.

Blood, unbidden, rushed straight to the omega’s groin. Cas’ honey scent deepened, the trace of mint his scent carried blossomed, and his face flushed. His trousers grew damp, not from lying on rain-wet ground, but from slick. Dean’s pupils expanded. A small, involuntary whine escaped Cas’ lips. The Redcoat took a step forward.

Dean was up on his feet in a flash, standing defensively in front of Castiel. He growled something in Lawrencian at the interloper. His words were unknown, but the challenge was clear. The Redcoat charged towards him. In the few seconds before the soldier reached them, Cas realized that Dean had dropped his sword, but hadn’t picked it up again. 

“No!” he said, but neither of the other men heard him. 

Dean attempted to parry the Redcoat’s advance with only a dagger. Cas crawled to where Dean’s sword had fallen. The blade was cold in his hand. Instinct and adrenaline took over as Cas attempted to swallow his fear. Dean stumbled to his knees.

“Hey, assbutt!” Cas called. The soldier turned, eyes wild. “You want me? Come get me.” 

He roared and barreled straight towards Cas. Once in range, the Redcoat slashed wildly with his sword. Castiel blocked each crazed thrust. Whatever had come over the soldier—whether it was physical desire or bloodlust—made his movements uncoordinated and reckless. Cas saw an opening, and he took it. The hilt of his borrowed blade made a grotesque thunk as it met the Redcoat’s skull. The man dropped to the ground like a stone sinking through still water. 

“How the hell does an omega know how to handle a blade like that?” Dean asked, awestruck, as he got to his feet. 

“I took fencing lessons at university. That now, however, was dumb luck,” Cas said honestly, as he knelt to check the Redcoat’s pulse. Just because the man had tried to attack them didn’t mean he deserved to die alone in the woods, Cas thought. (Though if the man had managed to hurt Dean further, something in Cas relished the idea of leaving the soldier to the wolves.)

“Perhaps,” Cas said, as he stood and offered the sword back to Dean, “I made a mistake in trying to flee. Clearly I won’t manage to make it through these woods alone as well as I thought I could.” 

Dean sheathed his sword. “So you don’t want me to throw you over my shoulder?” 

“I would prefer not,” Cas said, but he smiled. 

Once remounted atop the horse, Dean asked, “Are we going to talk about…that?” 

That could refer to several things, none of which Castiel much felt like discussing. His body’s uncontrollable action to Dean’s weight above him was the last thing he wanted to think about now, especially not with Dean so close. 

“No,” he said, looking resolutely forward. 

They got twenty yards into the trees before Dean spoke. 

“Thank you, Cas. For what you did back there for me.” 

“Why do you keep calling me that?” 

“What, ‘Cas?’” Dean asked. “I told you Castiel was a mouthful.” 

Castiel’s brain unhelpfully supplied the image of a compromising position in which he literally was a mouthful, Dean on his knees in front of him. Cas closed his eyes, and tried to think of things to distract himself. He was mostly successful. 

 


 

Night fell as they continued their journey. This wasn’t the first time Castiel had gone hours without sleep, but his tempestuous adventure combined with the lack of sleep the night before Samhain was starting to get to him. Had it really only been a day ago that he’d been rudely awakened to Gabriel’s finger in his ear? What Castiel wouldn’t give now, to be jerked from sleep and realize this was all a dream. He had no such luck. 

The day’s events appeared to be getting to Dean as well. He’d long given up on asking irritating questions (like, for example, “What’s an assbutt?”) and humming annoyingly catchy tunes that Cas didn’t know the words to, but now had stuck in his head. For a few minutes now, Dean had begun to slump in the saddle. Every so often, he swayed, as if he were drifting off to sleep. 

“Dean?” whispered Cas. He patted Dean’s hand. No response. He elbowed him lightly in the ribs. The highlander slid sideways at an alarming rate. 

“Shit. Stop! He’s going over!” 

Dean hit the ground before Castiel could stop the horse. The entire party halted, but only one clansman rushed to Dean’s side as quickly as Cas did. The burly alpha, the one who had tried to set Garth’s shoulder earlier, crouched at Dean’s side with a worried expression on his bearded face. A few of the other clansmen gathered nearby. Dean’s pulse was steady, if a little weak, under Castiel’s fingers. 

“What’s wrong with him?” the alpha asked. 

Castiel pulled the fabric of Dean’s bloodstained shirt aside to reveal a neat hole in the meat of his shoulder. 

“Gunshot wound,” he said, probing the surrounding skin gently with his fingers. “The idiot could have said something. It’s a clean exit—looks like the round went straight through the muscle.”

“Is it serious?”

“No, but he’s lost a lot of blood. And I’ll need to disinfect the area before I can dress it.” 

“Disinfect?” repeated the clansman.

“Yes. Cleaned of dirt to protect it from germs.” 

“Germs?” said Garth, staring down at Cas. 

“Just get me some iodine,” Cas said. All the highlanders stared at him as if he were speaking in tongues. 

“Merthiolate?” Cas tried, but was only met with confused looks. He sighed. “Alcohol?” 

There was a general murmur of understanding between the clansmen before one of them handed over a skin filled with the rawest-smelling whisky Cas had ever encountered. He poured some over Dean’s shoulder. 

“Mac na galla!” Dean cried out, gasping at his abrupt revival from unconsciousness. 

“Welcome back,” Cas said sardonically, though internally, his heart soared. 

“I’m alright, just a little dizzy.”

Dean tried to sit up. His brawny alpha friend pushed him back down. 

“You are not alright,” Cas argued. “Couldn’t you tell how badly you were bleeding? You’re lucky you’re not dead from blood loss, especially after that Redcoat nearly got the better of you earlier. I mean really, what were you thinking, going after him with only a knife?”

“Do what now?” the burly alpha cut in. 

“Nothing, Benny,” Dean snapped. “And it’s called a dirk, sassenach.” 

“Whatever you call it, it was a stupid move.” Castiel turned from Dean to the other highlanders. “I need a sterile bandage and some clean cloth.” 

They stared at him.

“Fucking hell. I’ll do it myself,” Castiel said, exasperated. 

Quickly, before his body realized how damn cold it was, Cas tore the sleeves off his shirt. The factory-made stitches came apart easily. He dabbed whisky onto one shirtsleeve and swabbed the makeshift dressing over the bullet wound. Dean hissed through his teeth. The white fabric stained red faster than Castiel had anticipated. Before anyone could stop him, he unbuttoned what remained of his shirt and slid it off his shoulders. 

“Cas? The hell are you doing?” Dean asked, voice strained. 

“Making you a godsdamned bandage, what’s it look like?” Cas asked, staring at the highlander with an unamused expression. He pulled at the remains of his shirt, but the fabric wouldn’t budge. 

“Oh come on, you godsdamn mother fucker,” he grumbled, and then finally managed to rip the material of his shirt clean in two.

“Holy shit,” Dean blurted. 

“I’ve never heard an omega swear like that before in my life,” Cain remarked.  

“St. Metatron says, ‘let an omega keep silent—’” an alpha clansman started. 

“Metatron can go fuck himself, and you can too,” Cas called over his shoulder. It would serve the bloody bastards right, for not helping him patch Dean up.

“Your alpha ought to tan your hide,” another clansman said. 

“How lucky for me then, that I married a beta,” Cas snapped. Dean’s eyes flashed in the moonlight.

Cas finished tying strips of cloth together. He motioned for Benny to help Dean sit up, to make sure he wouldn’t aggravate the wound any further.

“And if you move so much as a muscle while I’m tying this—” Cas threatened. 

“I won’t,” Dean said hurriedly. 

“We have fifteen more miles to go. We’ll stay long enough for you to stem the bleeding and bandage the wound, no more,” Cain declared, before striding back off towards his horse. The other clansmen followed, including Benny.

“He needs rest!” Cas called after him, but he might as well have been talking to a tree, for all the good it did. 

“Alistair—the ‘officer’ you met,” Dean said, drawing Cas’ attention back to him. “He won’t give up easy. He commands all the Redcoats around here, and he’ll have patrols out in every direction by now. We can’t stay here.” 

“You know him,” Castiel said. 

“Yeah. And he’s a sick son of a bitch. I wouldn’t risk you—or anyone else—being taken prisoner by that dick. If you can’t patch me up enough to ride, then leave me here with a loaded pistol so I can decide my own fate.”  

That wouldn’t do at all, Cas decided, but he didn’t say that aloud.

“You should have told me you’d been shot before you fell of your stupid horse,” he replied instead. 

“Hey, be nice to Baby. She’s not stupid,” Dean protested, but the corners of his mouth twitched up.  

“Your horse is named Baby?” Cas asked, wrapping a length of cloth around Dean to help keep his dressing in place. 

“Yes. And my shoulder didn’t hurt that much at the time,” Dean said, churlishly. 

“Does it hurt now?” Castiel asked. Dean nodded. “Good.”

Dean rolled his eyes, but his scent didn’t sour with annoyance. Cas secured the bandage, and rested his open palm on Dean’s bicep. 

“That’s all I can do for now. The rest is up to you.” 

It was only when Cas made to stand up that he realized he had essentially been straddling Dean’s leg. His cock twitched happily at the thought, though thankfully, he didn’t leak slick this time. Gods, what was it with him today? Not since puberty had his arousal been so erratic.

Castiel helped Dean to his feet. The other man grinned, eyes twinkling in the moonlight. Cas was so fucked. 

 

Chapter Text

 

A FEW DAYS EARLIER - 1945

 

The ruins of Castle Leoch stood craggy and proud atop the hill, even though time had weathered down its tall walls. Back in the eighteenth century, the ancestral home of Clan Campbell had been impressive, at least according to the artistic rendering in one of Gabriel’s books. Now, there was no way of knowing how it might have felt, to approach the Lawrencian fortress in its glory. 

The lichen-stained stones were all that was left of Clan Campbell’s history. The rest had been lost to time when the highlanders surrendered at Stull. All that remained was a sepulcher without an epitaph carved to tell its tale. 

Charlie insisted on taking Castiel’s photograph in front of the dilapidated structure. He hadn’t felt it was right to smile, but just before the camera clicked, a small breeze drifted by. Its cool fingers brushed the nape of Castiel’s neck, familiar and fleeting. The corners of Cas’ mouth turned up, and Charlie snapped the picture. 

 

 

 

NOW

 

Castiel felt very small as he looked up at Leoch’s walls. He didn’t belong there, in more ways than one. Cas knew what the other people in the courtyard must have thought, when they ogled him before going back to their business. Omega, based on his scent. Outlander, judging by his appearance. Elysian, if they overheard Castiel’s murmured thanks as Dean helped him off the great black horse. But there was no way for the others to tell how much like a fish out of water Castiel was, separated from his own century. 

When Castiel visited Leoch a week ago, they’d simply taken Gabriel’s car. After two days of jolting along on a horse, Castiel had no hope of finding his way back to Inverness and the standing stones. Not unless he somehow convinced these strangers to help him. 

A gruff older alpha with a faded tam called out to Cain, saying he was hadn’t expected see their party back so soon before the Gathering (whatever that was). The alpha’s tone, however, conveyed more grumpiness than surprise.

“Aye, well, we’ve had some luck,” Cain responded. “Some good, some bad.” 

The last sentence was punctuated with a piercing gaze in Castiel's direction, before Cain strode off into the crowd. 

“The hell did you this time, you idjit?” 

Garth blushed. “It wasn’t my fault, Bobby. But I’ll be fine, I swear.” 

“Yeah, yeah. Just get your scrawny ass inside to Bess before you step in a puddle and drown,” the alpha grouched. He took the reins of Garth’s horse and began to lead it away, but paused suddenly, scenting the air. Castiel resisted the urge to duck his head when the alpha caught his eyes. 

“Hey, Bobby,” Dean called, with a small wave. 

“Don’t tell me you need coddling too, boy.” 

“Nah. I’m good.” 

“Hmmpf,” the man grunted. He went on his way, with one last look over his shoulder at Cas, something undecipherable and calculating in his expression. 

“Don’t mind him,” Dean said. “He’s like that way with everybody, but he’ll warm up to you eventually.” 

Castiel didn’t respond, at a loss for what to say. He didn’t know when “eventually” would be, but he had no desire to stay and find out.

(Well. Maybe a tiny bit of desire, Cas thought, as he admired the way a raindrop clung to Dean’s long lashes.) 

“For the love of the gods, Ash. You smell like a rat that’s been dragged through sheep dung,” a woman said, hands on her hips. 

“Hey Ellen, how ‘bout a kiss?”

He attempted to wrap the woman in a bear hug, which was only partially successful given that she had a few inches on him. Eventually the woman laughed, and let Ash embrace her, smelly as he was. She pushed him away affectionately and swatted him on the shoulder, with strict orders to take a damn bath before he stunk up the whole castle.

“And get a haircut,” she called after him, brushing her hands on her long skirts.

“C’mon, Ellen, you know that’s never gonna happen,” Dean said, as he wrestled with the straps of his horse’s saddle. 

Ellen’s gaze was as sharp as her tongue. Even though she was an omega, by her scent, Castiel felt the impulse to bear his neck to her in submission. He took half a step back, retreating further into Dean’s personal space. 

“What do we have here?” 

“Castiel Milton,” said Dean, “Ellen Harvelle.” 

Cas inclined his head politely at the woman.

“Where’d you find him?” she asked. 

“In the woods,” Dean said simply, as if these things happened every day. “Cain said to take him with us, so…” 

“So. Well then, Castiel,” Ellen said, pronouncing his name carefully. “Come with me. We’ll get you something to eat, and something to wear that’s a bit more…well, a bit more.” 

Cas looked down at his bare arms, pale and goose-fleshed in the misty rain. He supposed he was a little chilly in just his undershirt, without the warmth of Dean’s plaid. The absence of Dean’s scent had nothing whatsoever to do with how cold Castiel felt. (Surely if he told himself that enough times, it would be true.)

Ellen placed a hand on the small of Castiel’s back, gently but purposefully guiding him along.

“What about Dean?” he blurted out, before they were three steps away.  

“What about him?” Ellen asked, taken aback.

“I can fend for myself,” Dean said, even as he struggled one-handed with the horse’s bridle.

“No, you can’t, you were shot yesterday,” Castiel protested.

“I’ll be fine,” Dean insisted.  

“No you won’t.” Cas turned to Ellen. “I bandaged his shoulder, but I wasn’t able to clean or dress it properly. I need to tend to it before it gets infected.”

Ellen gave him a blank look.

“I mean, inflamed. You know, with fever, and swelling.” 

The other omega nodded knowingly.

“Yeah, I know what you mean. You saying you know what to do for that?” 

“I do.”

“You a charmer? A beaton?” the woman asked. 

In truth, Castiel had little idea what Ellen meant, but he didn’t feel like explaining that yes, he was an omega, and yes, he was also a doctor, so instead he replied, “Something like that.” 

“Dean. You heard the man. Come on,” Ellen ordered. Dean groaned, but he trailed obediently behind them into the castle.

 


 

Garlic and witch hazel did not make for a particularly pleasant-smelling concoction, but it would suffice in the absence of proper twentieth-century disinfectant. Castiel stirred the rags into the boiling mixture, making sure every bit of the fabric was submersed in his herbal brew. Dean fidgeted on the stool by the fire. He eyed the small iron cauldron suspiciously, but remained silent.  

“I’ve also got comfrey and cherry bark for the pain,” Ellen said, setting the medicinals down on the table along with a stack of clean cloths. “If you need anything else, call for me.” 

“I will. Thank you, Mrs. Harvelle.” Castiel smiled, genuinely this time. The matron paused in the doorway. 

“Everyone calls me Ellen. You can too.” She nodded once to them, and took her leave. 

“Alright,” Cas said, straightening up. “Let’s see that wound.” 

Reluctantly, Dean let the plaid slip from his bared shoulders. He sat with his back ramrod straight, braced for Castiel’s examination. It was odd, considering how stoically he’d faced Cas’ ministrations earlier. Castiel cleaned the dried blood as gently as he could from Dean’s shoulder, then rounded the highlander, the better to see the exit wound. 

He sucked in a breath, and stood rooted to his spot on the wooden floorboards. The room filled with an aroma like burnt sugar, something akin to the taste in your mouth when you try to salvage singed toast with honey. Cas’ heart thudded indignantly in his chest.

“Redcoats. Flogged me twice, within the space of a week.” 

“Twice?” Castiel said, barely above a whisper.

“There’s no joy in flogging a dead man.” Dean shrugged his uninjured shoulder. 

“I shouldn’t think anyone would do such a thing for joy.” 

The lines of marred flesh twisted along Dean’s back, stark white against bronzed skin in some places, sickeningly purple in others. How deep must the lash have cut, to meticulously damage someone so strong? The sight filled Cas’ mouth with the acrid taste of either bile or rage. Joy was the furthest emotion from his heart right now.

“I don’t know if Alistair was especially joyous, but he sure was pleased with himself,” Dean said, craning his head around. His body shifted subtly closer to Cas, and his naked skin brushed Castiel’s arm. Cas startled, as if he’d been shocked with static electricity, and dropped the cloth. 

“Clumsy,” he scolded himself. “It’ll have to be boiled again.” 

He didn’t meet Dean’s gaze as he crouched once more before the fire. Castiel was afraid the highlander would mistake the concern in his eyes for pity. But curiosity overrode his other qualms, and Cas spoke up, desperate to know why anyone would dare lay such a vicious hand to someone like Dean.

“Why were you flogged?” he asked, rising to his feet.   

“The first time was for escaping. Second time was theft. At least, that’s what the charge sheet said.” 

“Why were you escaping in the first place?”

Dean leaned closer. 

“They were holding me prisoner,” he whispered conspiratorially. 

“Yes, I gathered that,” Cas said dryly. “But why? On what charge?” 

“Obstruction. Which is whatever the Redcoats say it is.” 

“Sounds like bullshit.” 

“You’re not wrong,” Dean chuckled, before sobering. “It was…four years ago? Yeah, four. They put a tax on all the landholders in the county. Sent out soldiers to collect what they could from us, whether we could spare it or not. My dad was…out. I was in the fields, with the horses, when I heard screaming…” 

 


 

He rarely used his alpha strength in those days, but the terrified shrieks egged Dean on, made his legs pump faster and faster until he burst into the courtyard. The sight that greeted him boiled his blood. 

One Redcoat had a fist wrapped in Jess’ golden curls, while another pawed at the front of her dress like a drunken beast. The omega’s face was flushed with indignation and embarrassment, and her cheeks were streaked with tears, but she kept her chin high. 

Dean roared. His fists flew, though in his rage, not every blow hit its mark. It was just enough, though, to give Jess an opening. 

“Ruith!” Dean cried. “Find Sam!” 

He let his instincts take over just enough to keep the soldiers occupied. A primal part of him wanted to pull them apart, without mercy, without grace. Dean’s gums itched as his canines descended into fangs. His mouth felt too dry without hot blood washing over his tongue. He snapped his teeth at the air, jaw aching with nothing to tear into.

“That’s enough,” an icy voice said.

Dean whirled around. A Redcoat officer stood in the front doorway, pistol jammed under Jess’ jaw. Dean’s bloodlust disappeared as quickly as if he’d been dunked into ice water, and he released the soldier he was fighting from his headlock. The other soldier gasped for air in the dirt, clasping at his stomach. 

Dean raised his hands in the air and let his head droop slightly in submission. The officer strolled down the steps, still holding the pistol to Jess. He had an elegant air about him that clashed with the reek of his pungent alpha pheromones. Dean’s nose twitched unpleasantly.

“I surrender to you, sir,” Dean said. “Now let her be.” 

The other Redcoats, having regained their breath, seized Dean by the arms and forced him to his knees.

“Hmm. Who is she to you, exactly? Strong alpha like yourself, sweet omega like her…” the officer mused. Each pinched, nasally syllable grated on Dean’s ears.

“She’s my sister,” Dean lied. He was allowed to defend his kin; not even pompous assholes like this alpha could blatantly ignore the law.

“Your sister? Interesting,” the Redcoat said. Lazily, he leaned over and pressed his nose to Jess’ curls, then down her slender neck. Dean strained against the soldiers holding him. 

“No, I don’t think so. Cousin, maybe? No. Sister-in-law? Yes, that’s closer.”

The alpha smiled coldly at Dean, baring his sharp teeth.

“She’s, uh, how do you say it? Bonny,” the officer said. He canted his head, as if he’d had a sudden thought. “I’ll take a closer look.” 

He placed a pale, long-fingered hand on Jess’ bodice.

“No!” Dean shouted, echoing another voice from across the courtyard.

 


 

“Alistair wanted to send a message,” Dean said, looking off into nothing. “This is what you get when you fight back against Elysium.” 

 


 

The officer cocked his pistol. Jess whimpered. Dean’s whole body tensed. Sam froze mid-sprint, gravel spraying. 

“So she’s your bitch?” the officer crooned. One of his soldiers released their hold on Dean in favor of restraining Sam.

“Screw you,” Jess said, struggling futilely against the vise grip on her arm.

The officer tsked and shook his head. “That’s no way for an omega to speak to an alpha. Perhaps if you had a real man, instead of a beta, you’d know better.” 

“A real man wouldn’t threaten another’s fiancée,” Sam growled. 

“Maybe it’s you that needs a lesson, pup,” the Redcoat said, with a slimy chuckle. He tore open Jess’ bodice easily as ripping into a paper package. She screamed. 

Adrenaline surged through Dean’s veins as he watched his brother break free from his captor. Dean elbowed the soldier holding him as hard as he could. Fear accelerated his heartbeat. All he could hear was the pounding of his own pulse, drumming insistently at his temples.

The officer aimed his gun at Sam. Jess twisted in the Redcoat’s hold, eyes fiercely determined despite her terror. 

“No!” someone shrieked. 

Dean launched himself at the Elysian, knocking him to the ground. Not Sammy, he thought. He’d kill anyone who hurt his brother.

A shot rang through the courtyard. Jess looked down at the crimson spot blooming on her belly, wobbled, and fell. Sam dropped to his knees beside her. He touched trembling fingers to Jess’ wound, trying to stop the hemorrhaging, but it was too late. Blood pooled beneath Jess’ prone body. The dark liquid gleamed in the afternoon sun, sparkling and richly red as molten rubies. 

“No! Jess! Please, no,” Sam sobbed. 

Dean’s vision hazed over. Everything tinted scarlet. Alistair’s blood was sickeningly, satisfyingly bitter on his lips. Dean only experienced the perverse pleasure of it for a moment, until a sharp pain hit the back of his head, and the red-hued world turned to black. 

 


 

“Next thing I knew, I was tied up in the back of a cart with a bunch of chickens on the way to Fort William,” Dean finished.

Castiel blinked. For a moment there, he’d felt as if he were under the sun with Dean, instead of secluded in a room without electric lights.

“I’m so sorry,” Cas murmured. “I can’t imagine how terrible that must have been for you.” 

“Yeah. Chickens are shitty company. Literally,” Dean said, but he smiled thinly, so Castiel supposed it must be a joke. 

Cas finished wrapping the cleaned wound carefully with a strip of cloth, taking pains to tie the bandage as gently and securely as possible.

“Your mate is a very lucky man,” Dean commented, overly casual. Something in his tone needled at Castiel’s thinly-grated nerves. 

“Do you see a godsdamn mating mark?” he snapped. 

“Sorry, it’s just—the ring, I assumed—” Dean stammered.

“You assumed wrong.” 

The scent of sour cherries wafted through the air. Cas sighed, breathing deeply to steady himself.

“I was married,” he said, calmer now. “Not mated. There’s a difference.” 

“Was?” Dean repeated. 

What must they be thinking, Castiel wondered, back in 1945? Did they think Castiel got lost? Or was taken? Or worse, that he had run off of his own accord? Would Gabriel, the perpetual trickster, let his worry slip through? And Charlie—she’d warned them not to go near Craig Na Dun on Samhain. Did she know—or suspect—what had happened? Did she know how to get Cas back? Could she be looking for him right now?

“Cas? What’s wrong?” 

Idly, Cas brushed his cheek, and was mildly startled when it came away wet. Had he been crying? He couldn’t remember.

“I’m fine,” Cas said hoarsely. “I was just thinking.” 

“About your husband?” 

And oh. Oh. Balthazar was his oldest friend. Had Castiel really grown so accustomed to their separation during the war that he’d forgotten him in his worry?

“Is he…not alive?” Dean asked, soft as the flutter of a butterfly’s wings.

“No, actually. He’s not.” 

Castiel squeezed his eyes shut to stop their stinging, but that only made his vision blur more. 

“Cas…Hey, it’s alright. You’ll be alright.” 

Suddenly he was wrapped up in Dean’s solid embrace. He’d thought they were of a nearly equal height, but Cas’ head rested comfortably, easily against Dean’s shoulder. Dean rubbed a hand along Cas’ back, murmuring nonsense words in Lawrencian, and their cadence lulled Castiel into serene security. 

The musk of cinnamon and cherry intoxicated his senses. Without thinking, Cas nuzzled his nose further into the crook of Dean’s neck. The highlander’s scent thickened, radiating joy, and something more, something deeper, something a small part of Castiel’s brain wanted to fear, but he simply couldn’t. It warmed him inside and out, all the way down to the tips of his toes. 

It wasn’t until he felt something firm and thick pressed against his thigh that Castiel realized what the heady spice was: pure, unadulterated alpha arousal. The fragrance of Cas’ own slick permeated the air. Dean’s chest rumbled as he let out something halfway between a purr and a growl. Heat spiked within Castiel, threatening to consume him.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…” Cas babbled, stepping back. Damn his traitorous body’s reactions. He couldn’t very well find a way to escape Leoch while fucking, could he?

Hurt flashed briefly through Dean’s emerald eyes, but they quickly softened in understanding.

“You don’t ever have to be afraid of me, Cas. Or anyone else here. Not so long as I’m with you.” 

“And when you’re not with me?” 

Dean paused. 

“Just remember that you’re an Elysian, in a place where that’s not a pretty thing to be.” 

“Right.” 

Dean pulled his shirt back over his head, covering up a tattoo Castiel hadn’t noticed earlier. A jet-black pentagram had been inked over Dean’s left pectoral, surrounded by a circle of flames. Castiel had the oddest sensation that he’d seen that symbol before, but he couldn’t remember where. 

“Watch yourself, Cas. And get some rest, okay? Someone’ll probably want to speak to you soon.” 

“I suspect you’re right.”

The highlander hesitated, then slowly raised his hand, brushing the back of it along Castiel’s cheek. When Cas didn’t stop him, Dean swept the inside of his wrist over the pulse point of the omega’s neck. Dean met his gaze, nodded once, and walked away.

Now alone in the bedchamber, Castiel sank onto the mattress. Sleep called to him, but Cas knew he couldn’t rest just yet, not when he felt like he was burning from the inside out. Clearly, his strategy of ignoring his nether regions wasn’t working so well anymore. He popped the button to his trousers and pulled down his zipper, eager for relief.

His cool palm was a balm to the blistering heat of his cock. Cas rubbed a thumb over the head, ran the bead of wetness down his shaft to ease the way. But this was no time to tease himself; he was already ramped up on Dean’s presence. Castiel couldn’t stand this simmering heat anymore. He needed to boil over. He needed release. He needed—

“Dean,” he moaned, spilling into his hand. 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Wake up! C’mon, now.” 

The bed curtains opened with a small whoosh, and an atrocious beam of sunlight pierced through the window panes. Castiel groaned. 

“You’ve slept nearly the whole day. Up!” 

Cas disentangled himself from the thick blankets, eyes squinted against the brightness of the room. He groggily accepted a woolen shawl from Ellen and shuffled over to the fire. 

“Here. Eat up.” Ellen pushed a bowl of hot something into Cas’ hands. 

“Please tell me it isn’t herring,” he rasped. 

“What?” Ellen paused, arms full of clothing. “Don’t be daft. It’s broth. Chicken.” 

“Thank gods,” Cas murmured, then shoveled a spoonful into his mouth. He hadn’t realized how hungry he had been until the first bite, salty and savory across his tongue. Castiel upended the bowl and polished off the rest of the broth in one gulp. He wiped the back of one hand across his mouth, then paused, eyes wide, as he saw Ellen’s expression. 

“What?” 

“Never seen an omega with an appetite like that before. No, no, it’s a good thing. Most omegas will act all dainty even when they’re half-starved and it drives me nuts,” Ellen said, taking the empty bowl away. She returned wielding a hairbrush. “Anyone ever tell you that your hair looks like a bird’s nest?”

“Yes. Frequently.” 

Ellen’s own thick hair was pulled into a bun at the back of her head, and wisps of brown and the occasional grey had escaped from the cap pinned neatly in place. She ran the brush through Castiel’s unruly mane several times, then gave it up as a lost cause. 

Castiel didn’t think he had ever had someone undress him in such a maternal fashion. He was too young to have had any memories of his own mother before she died, and Uncle Chuck was more of the “learn by doing it yourself” type. The last person to help remove Castiel’s clothes had been Meg, and she had been far more impatient than Ellen. Funnily enough, Cas didn’t think another man had ever undressed him before, not even Balthazar.

“What kind of drawers are those?” Ellen asked, staring unabashedly at Castiel’s partially bare legs. He supposed they were odd-looking, from her perspective, but at least Cas had donned the plain white ones, instead of the bright orange ones Gabriel had given him as a joke.

“Um. They’re boxer shorts. From Arcadia.” 

“Huh. Well, doff those too,” she ordered, matter-of-fact. Cas’ face reddened. 

“Uh—”

“Honey, I’ve been married. There’s nothing you’ve got under there that I ain’t seen before.” 

He dropped his shorts briskly, internally grateful that he’d had the foresight to clean himself up after his indulgence earlier. Thankfully, he hadn’t had the patience or fervor to finger himself; there was no way Cas would be able to mask the residue of his slick. Still, for modesty’s sake, he cupped his hands protectively over his genitals after he handed over his underpants. 

Ellen turned her back, allowing Castiel a modicum of privacy as he ran a wet cloth over his naked form. Meg used to call this a “whore’s bath,” Cas remembered, when there wasn’t a way to heat water for a bath and they had to make do with a pitcher and a slip of soap. Cas patted himself dry, then wrapped himself back up in the shawl.

“All done? Good. Now, I didn’t know which you’d prefer, so I brought both.” 

Ellen gestured to two different outfits, lying next to each other on top of the newly-made bed. One ensemble wasn’t terribly different from the suits Castiel had worn in his own time, though the shirt’s sleeves billowed out more, and the pants were shorter in the leg, made to expose one’s stockings. The other outfit, comprised of at least a dozen different pieces, was (Castiel assumed) more conventional garb for omegas in whatever era this was.

“You don’t have to wear the skirts, if you’d rather not,” Ellen said gently. “I know some male omegas wear robes, down in Elysium, but…” 

Naomi had insisted that Castiel wear the traditional robes when he married Balthazar. The ivory silk had been elegant, and he’d rather enjoyed the way it swished against his legs when he walked. Cas had also never been more humiliated in his life, to have had the choice made for him without his consent. Now, though…

He caressed the soft cotton of a petticoat, deep in thought. Cas almost said yes, but then he remembered his encounter with Alistair. What would have happened, if he hadn’t been wearing trousers? All the cad would’ve had to do was lift up the hem, and that was that. 

“I’ll take the trousers, please.” 

“You mean the breeches? Here you are.” 

Ellen assisted him with gentle hands and firm directions. First the shirt—don’t forget to knot the ties on the sleeves. Next, stockings, and lace them tight so they won’t fall. Now the breeches, and the shoes. Then the waistcoat. Ellen had found one in blue-green tartan, to bring out his eyes, she said. And finally, the coat itself, dark blue and freshly pressed. 

“Huh,” she said, adjusting the stock around Castiel’s neck. (Thus far, he found it to be equally as unpleasant as a twentieth-century necktie.)

“What?” 

“Nothing,” Ellen said. “It’s just…you smell like Dean.” 

“He scent-marked me last night,” Cas admitted, unable to meet the matron’s eye. Ellen hummed thoughtfully.  

“You shouldn’t still smell like him, though, not unless you and he were…”

“Unless we were what?” 

“It’s an old Highland superstition. Don’t worry about it.”

Castiel snapped his head up. “We weren’t doing anything—untoward, I—”

“I know, honey. I never thought you were. I may not know you, but I’ve know Dean for a long time. He’s a little rough around the edges, but he’s got more honor than that.” 

Ellen ushered Cas in front of the full-length mirror. His reflection stared back at him, almost unrecognizable except for the dark hair and wide blue eyes.

“There. Now you’re ready to be taken to himself,” Ellen said proudly. 

“Wait—”

Cas grabbed the trousers back from his pile of dirty clothes. He dug into the pockets, disappointed when his search came up empty. 

“Did you happen to see a pocket watch anywhere?” 

“I’m afraid I haven’t.”

“Dammit to hell,” Castiel mumbled. The whole reason he was in this bloody mess was because he’d dropped the watch back up on Craig Na Dun, and now he didn’t even have it. 

“There is this, though,” Ellen said, fishing into the pockets of her skirt. “I think you took it off when you were washing.” 

She held out an open hand. A single coin on a silver chain was nestled in her palm. 

“Oh, bless you,” Cas said, accepting the token. He loosened the stock around his throat and placed the chain over his head, then tucked the coin safely back under his shirt. 

There, he thought. That’s more like myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1930

 

“The trick to telling a believable lie,” Gabriel explained, “is to keep it as close to the truth as possible. Only change the details you wanna keep a secret. And don’t give too many details, either, or the lie will seep through your pores and stink up the room worse than a rotting fish. Got it?” 

Castiel nodded at his older cousin. For a teenager, Gabe was surprisingly wise to the ways of the world. 

“Alright then. Go convince Uncle Chuck you didn’t break that thousand-year-old urn. And remember Cassie, don’t be a rotten fish.” 

Gabriel patted the younger boy affectionately on the back, and sent him from the room. 

“I really hope that works,” he muttered. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOW

 

He went first to the bookshelf of the laird’s study. A few of the tomes had titles or authors Castiel recognized—Donne, Defoe, Milton, Swift—but none were particularly useful in helping him pin down an exact date. Cas knew he had to be somewhere in the eighteen century, from the clothing and weapons he’d seen earlier. Larry Ganem had mentioned how the Elysian government banned the wearing of tartan after the Uprising, so it had to be before then—but if Cas were to be completely honest with himself, he hadn’t paid that much attention to the man’s stories. So the question remained: When was he?

A half-finished letter on the laird’s desk revealed the answer. 

“Seventeen forty-three,” Castiel murmured aloud. It was decades before the Arcadian Revolution, or the one in the Colonies. One of the Hanover kings was on the Elysian throne, but which one?

Outside the study, the floorboards creaked. Castiel skirted out from the edge of the desk, sat on a chair, then popped up again. He realized he was tapping his fingers rapidly against his thigh, and went to shove them in the pockets of his old coat, only to remember that he’d left the garment at Gabriel’s. What he wouldn’t give for the familiarity of his trench coat at the moment, to be safely ensconced in its long folds. Cas settled for clasping his hands politely behind his back seconds before the door opened.

Castiel was accustomed to alphas sizing him up, and the laird of Castle Leoch was no surprise in this regard. If the older man felt any surprise in Cas’ steady gaze, or his decision to not wear omega’s skirts, he didn’t show it. His eyes were pure steel underneath his dark brows; so unreadable as to seem soulless. 

“Pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Milton.” The alpha inclined his head just so, acknowledging Castiel for decorum’s sake. 

“Likewise,” Castiel said, with a similar nod.  

After a moment of palpable tension, in which Cas silently hoped he wouldn’t be expected to bear his neck in a show of submissiveness, the alpha spoke. 

“I’m Samuel Campbell, laird of this castle and Clan Campbell. Please, have a seat.”

The candlelight shone on the laird’s bald head as he limped around the desk, plain mahogany cane thumping with every other step. Unlike the other alphas and beta males Castiel had seen so far, Samuel Campbell had chosen not to wear a kilt. His legs were covered in breeches and stockings, and a worn but well-cared-for plaid was buckled in place across his broad chest.

“Well, let’s cut right to the chase, shall we?” Campbell said, settling heavily into his chair. “I understand my brother and his men found you in some apparent distress.”

“Apparent? I was attacked and nearly raped by an Elysian soldier,” Castiel said, back ramrod straight.

“And other than this, uh, near rape, you suffered no further molestation?”

“No. Please extend my gratitude to your brother for his kind escort.”

“Of course.” 

Castiel cleared his throat slightly. 

“I will, of course, need to arrange transport back to Inverness as soon as possible.” 

“I'm sure something can be arranged,” Campbell said graciously. “But I do wish to know how an omega such as yourself came to be wandering in the woods, missing half their clothes.”

Don’t be a rotten fish, Cassie, Gabriel had once said. Keep it as close to the truth as possible.

“I’m a widower, from Oxfordshire. I was traveling with a manservant to Inverness, en route to some distant relatives in Arcadia, when we were set upon by highwaymen. I managed to escape the bandits, but was forced to abandon my horse and property. While wandering through the woods, I was suddenly attacked by a soldier—Captain Alistair Randall, I’m told. I believe you know of him.”

Campbell nodded, eyes shrewd and unwavering.

“It was during this unpleasant encounter that I was relieved of my clothes,” Castiel concluded. 

Campbell rubbed a hand across his clean-shaven jaw.

“It's true that Captain Randall has a certain…reputation. But he is an officer. A gentleman. And you're saying that a man bearing the king's commission decided to rape a stray omega traveler he came upon in the woods, for no good reason.” 

“Is there ever a good reason for rape, Master Campbell?” Castiel said icily. Something in his chest cheered at his response; after so many years of biting his tongue in front of Zachariah, he’d finally spoken up to a bald-headed alpha bastard. 

“Forgive me, sir. An unfortunate turn of phrase on my part,” Campbell said. Something about his stiff shoulders made Castiel distrust his sincerity. He had no doubt the old son of a bitch had been testing him and baiting him all at once, but this was definitely a point in Cas’ favor.

“Not at all,” Castiel said, as genteel as possible. “I believe we we discussing my transport back to Inverness.”

“Aye. There's a tinker, Rufus Turner, who will be here Thursday. He stops by Leoch on his way to Inverness once a month, and he often has room for one or two passengers.”

“Thursday? Forgive me, I've lost track in all the confusion.” 

“Not at all. Five days from now,” Campbell said graciously. “Meanwhile, I offer you the hospitality of our humble home.” 

Five days, Castiel thought, as he made his way back to his borrowed chambers. Surely he could manage that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SUNDAY

 

“You missed breakfast,” Ellen stated, kneading bread dough with well-practiced hands. “Want me to heat up some porridge for you?” 

“Uh, no. Thank you.” 

Castiel unwrinkled his nose before the matron could see it.

“Suit yourself.” Ellen shrugged good-naturedly.

“I thought I might go see how Mr. Smith is doing. Dean, that is. With his shoulder, and all.”

“Uh huh.” Puffs of flour rose up with each beat of Ellen’s hands. “Stables are to the north, out by the meadow.” 

The matron smiled secretly to herself. 

 


 

Castiel ignored the voice of reason in his head that told him not to get too close to the highlander. After all, he would only be here for a few more days, so what was the harm? Dean was charming, kindhearted, and funny, even if a cultural barrier prevented Cas from the more nuanced jokes and references he made. Even as the man laughed, face stuffed full of food, there was something that drew Castiel to Dean. 

“You didn’t really eat grass.” 

“I swear, I did,” Dean said, looking up at Cas with guileless eyes. The highlander reclined languidly on the hay of the stable, propped up comfortably on one elbow. 

“Did you lose a bet?” 

“Nah. I was hungry. It was last winter—me and Benny and some others were raiding cattle, hereabouts—”

(Castiel had to consciously remind himself that for Lawrencia in this era, cattle raiding was, confoundedly, a noble occupation.)  

“—and we weren’t having much luck. So I ate some grass. Tasted awful.” 

“Probably because you’re not a horse,” Cas said dryly, much to Dean’s amusement. “But could you not come back to Leoch?” 

Dean shrugged. “Leoch’s not really home.” 

“Where is?” 

“Doesn’t matter now. I can’t go back there, anyway, not with a price on my head. Ten pounds sterling—a whole year’s wages for a farmer, around these parts.” 

“Because you escaped? From Alistair?” 

“Because when my friends got me out, a Redcoat was shot. The Elysians blamed me.” 

“But you didn’t do it, did you?” 

“I could barely walk, let alone hold a gun.” 

Dean fiddled with a lone piece of straw, folding it into nonsense shapes.

“I take it ‘Smith’ isn’t your real name,” Cas said.  

“Nope,” Dean replied, popping the p between his lips. “Though technically, you could call me Dean ban Campbell, if you wanted.” 

Cas tilted his head quizzically. 

“It means that my mother’s name was Campbell. Her family’s from Leoch, way back hundreds of years.” 

“So Samuel and Cain are your relatives?” 

“Samuel’s my grandfather, not that you’d know it by the way the mhic an diabhoil treats my family.” Dean sat up, folding his legs criss-crossed, shoulders hunched. His eyelids drooped, and so did Cas’ heart.

“Didn’t you say your brother’s name was Sam?” he prompted. 

“Yeah. But Sam’s a beta, and I’m a fugitive, so…” Dean shrugged again. 

“I’m sorry.” (It was only natural, wasn’t it, to place his hand over Dean’s in a gesture of comfort?)

“Don’t be,” Dean said, gruffly, but something in his scent warmed. Castiel rubbed his thumb softly against the highlander’s hand.

“Hey, Cas?” 

“Yes, Dean?” 

“I…The thing is, not many people know that I’m a wanted man. Leoch’s the safest place for me right now, and I don’t think there’s likely to be any informants in the castle, but if word were to get to the village…” 

“Your secret’s safe with me, Dean.” 

“Thanks, Cas.” Gingerly, Dean flipped his hand around, so his palm met Castiel’s. Green eyes met blue. Electric tension filled the air. 

“You done eating yet, boy?” 

The sound of Bobby’s voice broke the tender moment like the snapping of an elastic band. Dean scrambled to his feet, and Castiel followed suit. 

“Idjits.” But the older alpha shook his head fondly. 

 


 

A whiff of apprehension on the wind, conspicuous against the smell of horse and heather, hit Castiel’s nostrils. He halted in his tracks. 

“Why are you following me?” he asked. 

“Uh…” 

“Eloquent.” 

“What?” 

Cas rolled his eyes, sighed heavily, and turned around. One of the younger men squeaked. His curly-haired companion elbowed him in the ribs. 

“Well?” Castiel prompted. 

Neither clansman spoke. Cas took a step towards them, and the dark-haired one immediately tried to back away, only to stumble over thin air.

“Who are you, and why are you following me?” Castiel demanded, glowering down at his apparent stalkers. He thought he recognized them from the journey to Leoch.

“I’m Ed, this is Harry,” said the lighter-haired, bespectacled one. He gulped.

Harry puffed out his small chest in a show of false bravado.

“We are Cain’s eyes, not his head. And these eyes won’t be turning their gaze from you until the head orders us to. Sir.”

“Fucking hell,” Castiel spat. He whirled on his heel and continued up the path towards the castle. His long stride left his erstwhile followers in the dust. 

 


 

“Clearly you suspect me of something, or you wouldn’t have people watching me. Perhaps you’d be so kind to give me a notion of your suspicions, or is that too much to—” 

Castiel stopped short as Cain spun around to face him.  

“I suspect you may be an Elysian spy,” he said, bluntly. 

“You’re mad,” Cas said, taken aback. “I’d make a shitty spy—and what even would there be to spy on?” 

The alpha stepped even closer, and Castiel’s nostrils were assaulted with the man’s natural scent, sharp and bitter as fresh gunpowder.

“You haven’t told the truth—or at least the whole truth—about who and what you are. I’m sure of that. And until I am, I’ll have you followed day and night. Now you know my mind.” 

“Well, I hope you’re prepared to be disappointed. I won’t be doing anything interesting for the next four days, but I do hope your spies give you a full report.” Cas began to walk away. 

“Four days?” Cain called after him. Castiel turned around, the hem of his coat swinging. 

“I’ll be leaving Thursday with Mr. Turner. Forgive me—I thought your brother would have told you that,” he replied, tilting his head with mock innocence. 

Castiel walked away with his head held high, ignoring the little prickles on the back of his neck. His breath came in short gasps, and after Cas was sure he was out of sight, he leaned back against the cool stone wall. He could still taste Cain’s acrid scent in his mouth, so starkly distinct from Dean’s spicy sweet aroma. 

Not until he’d steadied his breathing that Cas realized what had unsettled him so. He’d grown used to the familiar fragrances of his friends and family back in Inverness: Gabriel’s saccharine toffee, Balthazar’s tangy lemon verbena, and Charlie’s soothing lavender. Their natural odors had pleasantly surrounded Castiel for the past month. He had known Dean for less than a week, and Cas could already detect the different emotions in his scent, even from a distance. Now that he thought about it, he had no idea what the other highlanders’ scents were. Only Dean’s.

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAY

 

Castiel resolved to maintain a simple routine over the next few days, both to keep himself occupied, and to give Harry and Ed nothing of interest to report. He particularly enjoyed their boredom as they watched Cas gather herbs for Ellen’s kitchen. At one point, Harry nodded off on Ed’s shoulder, and Castiel took no small delight in dropping his spade obnoxiously on the courtyard tiles to startle them. 

Much to Cas’s dismay, the evening meal was herring. However, Dean sat across from him in the Great Hall, telling Cas random stories about life in the Highlands. At one point, their feet brushed under the table. Dean’s calf was remarkably warm against Castiel’s ankle. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TUESDAY

 

In the afternoon, he discovered that Dean was quite talented at cards. Castiel learned several tricks, which he looked forward to using against Gabriel once he returned to 1945. Instead of satisfaction, the thought made Cas feel rather somber. Then Dean offered him half of his slice of pie, and Castiel forgot all about his melancholy. 

 

 

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY

 

The evening before Castiel’s intended departure, someone procured a fiddle and an interesting-looking frame drum (“It’s called bodhrán, Cas,” Dean told him), and the tables were moved to the edges of the hall for some impromptu dancing. Garth galloped across the room with a yellow-haired female, to much hooting and hollering from his friends. Ellen somehow convinced Bobby to wheel her around in a much more subdued version of the steps, and more clansmen and women joined them.

Castiel was content to watch the merriment from the sidelines, but somewhere after his fourth glass of surprisingly strong wine, he found himself tugged onto the improvised dance floor. Dean whirled him in circles, guiding him with a hand on the small of Cas’ back. The room spun about them, and the world narrowed down to Dean’s flushed, freckled face. For the first time in months—or even years—Cas laughed, wide and gummy and careless. 

“I’m afraid I’m not very good at this,” he admitted, after nearly stepping on one of Dean’s boots again. The alpha leaned closer, the better to be heard over the music. 

“What’re you talking about? You’re doing great!”

Fine beads of sweat gathered on the smooth skin of Dean’s neck. Instinct drew Castiel a little nearer, even as logic warned him away. The fiddler began a new melody, slow and sweet. Couples all around them began to rotate in circles, caught up in tender embraces. 

“Um—”

“We should probably take a break. So you don’t overexert your shoulder,” Castiel suggested, though the evening’s activity was far more strenuous to one’s legs than one’s arms. 

“Yeah. That—Actually, I didn’t know if you needed to take another look at it—just to be sure it was okay…” 

“I can do that,” Castiel said. 

They managed to slip away from the Great Hall without Castiel’s shadows trailing after them. The passageway to the kitchens was narrow enough that Cas and Dean stood shoulder to shoulder as they walked. Several times, the back of their hands knocked gently together.  

Dean untied the stock at his throat with more ease than Castiel could have ever mustered. The omega averted his eyes when Dean’s fingers went to the buttons of his waistcoat, more to prevent himself blushing than for the sake of propriety. Dean drew the neck of his untied shirt aside, and Cas jumped to examine the alpha’s exposed shoulder, grateful for the boundary of medical professionalism that was now between them.

“You’re healing quite nicely,” he observed. “You should be able to take the bandages off completely within the next day or so.”

“Wouldn’t it be better for you to do it?” Dean asked, brow furrowed.

“Yes, but I’m leaving tomorrow for Inverness with Mr. Turner,” Castiel explained. He turned his back under the excuse of grabbing a clean cloth. 

“Oh.” Dean cleared his throat, breaking the silence. “I gotta tell you, Rufus is even more crotchety than Bobby.” 

“Thanks for the warning.” 

Cas smiled, despite himself. He finished carefully knotting the bandage, and stepped back. 

“There. I don’t anticipate it giving you any more trouble, but promise me you’ll tell Ellen if it starts to bother you.” 

“I promise,” Dean said. Against the backdrop of the fireplace’s glow, the green of his eyes deepened. 

“I’m very glad to have met you, Dean.” 

“Yeah. Me too.” 

Castiel didn’t even take two steps before a hand on his shoulder pulled him around. 

“Wait—”

They were close enough in height for their foreheads to lean together easily. Dean’s nose pressed against his. His long lashes fluttered against Castiel’s closed eyes. The warm air tasted of the ale on Dean’s breath, of ripe cherries, and toasted cinnamon. 

Somewhere off in the distance, a clock chimed. 

“Dean…we shouldn’t…” Castiel whispered. The words pulled at something deep within his chest. 

“I know.” Dean’s was voice strained, thick with a mixture of desire and despair, as his mouth ghosted over Castiel's own. “But there’s something, isn’t there? Something pulling us together? Tell me I’m not the only one who feels that.” 

“You’re not.” 

Castiel’s fingers tightened in the fabric of Dean’s shirt. It would be so simple to close the meager gap between their lips. But with a pounding, aching heart, Cas knew that if he did, he’d never be able to walk away.

“I don’t belong here, Dean. I think we both know that.” 

“I know it feels right when you’re here in my arms.” 

“Dean…” he begged, though for what, he couldn’t bear to admit. 

“I know, Cas. I know,” Dean murmured. He cupped Castiel’s face in his hands, placed a feather-light kiss near the corner of his mouth, and stepped back. 

When Castiel opened his eyes, he caught Dean wiping a hand across one cheek. 

“Safe travels,” he said. 

Castiel walked away, though every fiber of his being yearned to remain in Dean’s presence for just a moment longer. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWO WEEKS EARLIER - OCTOBER 1945

 

“You go on ahead,” Balthazar said, hovering a few feet away from the vine-covered door. “There’s no way I’m going down there.” 

“What’s wrong, afraid there might be trolls?” Castiel teased. 

Dust motes swirled merrily in the rays of light streaming through broken window.

“We both know there’s no such thing. Right? Tell him, Charlie.” 

But the redhead only bit her lip. 

“Oh gods, you’re not serious, are you?” 

The others couldn’t hold back their laughter any longer. Balthazar stormed off down the passageway, muttering to himself. 

Charlie pushed on the door, but it wouldn’t budge. 

“Together,” Cas suggested. He put a shoulder against the time-warped wood.

“Three…two…” Charlie counted. “One!” 

The door burst open. 

 

 

 

 

 

NOW - THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 1743

 

Flickering torchlight illuminated the passageway. Castiel trailed behind Cain, stomach roiling with trepidation. If only he hadn’t dawdled in the courtyard, waiting for a face that wouldn’t show, Cas might already be on the road to Inverness. 

“Samuel wants a word with you,” was the only clue Castiel had gotten. 

He descended the steps with his heart in his throat. The room hadn’t yet been adorned with cobwebs, and beeswax candles burned cheerily here and there. Jars of this and that littered the tables and shelves. A thick, dust-covered ledger lay open on the center table. 

Samuel Campbell shuffled out from the shadows, polite smile on his grim face. 

“Good day to you, Mr. Milton.” 

“Good day.” 

“Do you have any connection to the Beaton clan, by any chance?”

Castiel shook his head.

“The healers of Clan Beaton are famous through the Highlands. We had one here, until he caught a fever that carried him off within the week. This was his surgery, he called it.” 

“Really?” 

Out of curiosity, Cas peered at the ledger. He swept some dust off a page and squinted at the spidery handwriting. Cas suppressed a snort. Whatever ailed the patient in this entry was most certainly not an imbalance of the humours.

“I understand you have quite some skill as a healer, yourself.” 

“It’s an interest of mine, yes.” Castiel flipped a page. Another entry detailed an herbal remedy Charlie swore worked, two hundred and two years into the future. 

“You understand the uses of these—potions, and things?” Campbell inquired.

“Some.” Cas wiped his hands free of dust, and smiled, falsely pleasant, at the laird. “This is all really fascinating. Thank you for showing me. But I—I must be going—”

For a man with an uneven gait, Campbell moved quickly. Castiel found his path to the exit blocked before he took a single step.

“Seeing as we haven’t had a healer since ours passed, I want you to take up the work,” Campbell stated. 

“But I’m leaving.” 

“No. You’re staying.” 

Castiel’s face paled. “This is Cain’s doing, isn’t it? One of his goons made up some lie about me—”

“My brother keeps his own counsel,” Campbell barked. “This is my decision.” 

“Then why am I staying?”

“Because it is my pleasure that you do so,” Campbell said, voice low and serious. “I know that you have secrets, Castiel. Now, maybe they’re the kind that every omega or woman has, which pose no threats to me, to Leoch, or to the Campbell clan. But until I know for sure, you’ll stay here…as my guest.” 

Campbell limped away, cane clacking against the barren stone floor.

“You mean as your prisoner, don’t you?” Castiel called to the alpha’s retreating back. 

“Only if you try to leave,” the laird said, over his shoulder.  

The heavy door slammed behind him, leaving Castiel alone in the surgery. He sank down on the cold steps, burying his face in his arms. The sleeve of his borrowed coat smelled like Dean, but for the first time, that didn’t comfort Castiel at all. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

INVERNESS, 1945

 

“I’m telling you, whatever happened to Castiel was not…natural,” Balthazar said, as he paced. “There weren’t even any prints from him going back down the hill.” 

“The rain could have washed them away,” Gabriel said, though his vacant expression said that he didn’t really believe his own reasoning. 

Balthazar snapped his fingers. “That’s another thing! That thunderstorm came out of nowhere and disappeared minutes later.” 

“Would you stop, please? I’m gonna get dizzy just from watching you.” 

“So don’t watch me,” Balthazar sniped, but threw himself into an armchair anyway. He sighed heavily, and proceeded to jiggle his leg up and down. 

“It’s been weeks,” Gabriel said. “Did you talk to the detective again?”

Balthazar snorted. 

“No. Do you know what that piece of merde said to me, last time I spoke to him? He had the gall to suggest that Castiel didn’t go missing at all, but ran off, of his own volition, with another man,” he said, waving his hands wildly. 

Gabriel hummed thoughtfully. 

“That explains why the detective didn’t tell me that particular theory. Really, just because I’m a man of the cloth doesn’t mean I don’t hear about the depraved—in your words, merde—that people do.”

He scrubbed a hand over his face. 

“You know him better than I do,” Balthazar said, stilling his leg. “Is he capable of that?” 

“He’s your husband.” Gabriel shrugged. 

“And you know perfectly well that he is my husband in name only,” he replied, glaring at the other beta from across the room.

“You’ve still been married for what, ten years?” 

“Nine,” Balthazar corrected. 

“My point stands. I knew who he was when we were pups, before med school, before the war, before he was really a man,” Gabriel explained. “So you tell me. Would Castiel do that? Run away, right under our noses?”

Balthazar hesitated.

“I don’t know what else to think. This whole thing doesn’t sit right with me.” 

“Me neither.” 

Balthazar chewed his lip. The clock ticked. Gabriel drummed his fingers against the arm of his chair. Then Balthazar sat up with a jolt.

“Charlie,” he said.

“What about her?” 

“She warned us not to go to Craig Na Dun on Samhain. You don’t think…”

Gabriel scoffed. 

“No. There’s no way. All of that’s just highland superstition.” He pursed his lips in thought. “But…it wouldn’t hurt to ask, right?” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEOCH, 1743

 

If he were to be stuck in this godsforsaken place, doomed to be in service to a crotchety old alpha, Castiel would be the best damned healer he could be. He needed to earn a spot in Samuel and Cain’s good graces, earn their trust just enough to let down their guard, and then make his escape. The only problem was how to apply 20th-century medicine using only the methods and equipment available in the eighteenth. 

Cas set to clearing out the surgery as best he could. He encountered a few unpleasant surprises: pigeon blood, ant eggs, dried horse dung, and powdered human skull, to name a few. When Castiel opened a jar labelled “slaters,” curious as to their contents, his resulting yelp startled Harry and Ed so badly that the betas let out horrified squeaks of their own. 

“Bloody fucking hell!” Cas swore, both in disgust and to cover his own shock. “Woodlice. Why?” 

Castiel ignored the panicked spluttering of his shadows. If Cain wanted someone to constantly trail him, he should have picked someone made of sterner stuff. (Then again, perhaps not—the more skittish his shadows were, the better chance Cas had of dodging them.)

According to the previous healer’s ledger, “slaters” could be used to lessen the symptoms of ulcers, heartburn, and overindulgence, due to something in their exoskeletons. 

“Calcium carbonate,” Cas muttered. “Antacid.” 

He reluctantly put the jar of woodlice back on the shelf, though he was loath to try that particular remedy any time soon. 

As the days went on, Castiel still yearned for basic supplies like aspirin or penicillin, but he made do the best he could. Willow bark made an excellent pain remedy, and he found leeches—while disgustingly slimy—to actually be effective in reducing certain kinds of swelling. Other things, like splinting a sprained wrist, binding smashed toes, and stitching up small wounds, were comfortingly, monotonously familiar to him. 

The looks of confusion on Ed and Harry’s faces were priceless when Castiel asked one of them to fetch him cheap whisky, but not for drinking. Even better was when Cas set about cutting it with water.

“What’re you doing?” Ed asked, hovering halfway between Cas’ worktable and the stairs. 

“Diluting it enough to make a disinfectant.” 

“I have no idea what those words mean,” Harry said. 

Castiel rolled his eyes, about to turn away, when he decided to take pity on the betas and explain what he was doing. Just because Cas didn’t want to be here didn’t mean he wished the clan ill health when he was gone. 

Surprisingly, Castiel found that it was actually quite useful to be an omega. He’d expected some hostility and mistrust at first. Male omegas weren’t exactly common, no matter what country, continent, or era one was in. Much of Cas’ beginning tenure as an army medic was spent butting heads with alphas and even betas of both primary genders who thought they knew better than him. Eventually, his skills secured him a position of trust, in spite of his secondary gender. 

Now the reverse seemed to be true. The people of the Campbell clan appeared comforted by Cas’ omega scent, which in turn lulled them into a sense of security, just as nature intended. Many of them seemed surprised when his treatments worked as well as if not better than the clan’s previous healer, but all were grateful for his help. 

“I hear you’ve assisted my brother considerably with his pain,” Cain said one night, when Castiel surfaced from the surgery in search of something to eat.

Cas suppressed the urge to smirk—of course he helped relieve some of Samuel’s discomfort. The last healer had gone about it all wrong, trying to treat the side effects of the laird’s condition instead of the root cause. It was his spine that resulted in Samuel’s symptoms, from some old injury that had never healed properly. His legs and hips pained him because he limped, not the other way around. 

“I’m glad to have been of service,” Castiel said demurely. 

Cain let out a breathless, derisive laugh. 

“It seems the feral cat we picked up in the woods is trying to pull in his claws.” 

“What a charming description,” Cas replied dryly. He snatched a glass of Rhenish from a nearby servant and took his leave. Thankfully, he was always left alone in blissfully stifling silence when the hour grew late and the castle grew sleepy. 

The wine steadied him, if he didn’t take too many sips at once. His mind played the conversation with Cain over and over again, like a film reel stuck on a loop. Castiel descended the steps to his surgery, not bothering to take a candle to illuminate his path. Already he had the path committed to memory. 

Perhaps Cas had made a mistake in being so useful to the clan, and to the laird himself. If he was too good at what he did, would Castiel become invaluable to the Campbells? Would they prize his skills too much to let him leave? 

Castiel was determined to spend the evening wallowing in self-pity and doubt down in his dungeon, until he noticed a whiff of cinnamon in the air. Cas caught sight of a figure silhouetted by the glow of the fireplace. The man’s back was partially turned, and the dim lighting cast enchanting shadows across his features, accentuating the straight line of his nose, the broadness of his shoulders, and the curve of calf muscles below his kilt. 

Castiel sucked in a breath. He tightened his grip unconsciously on the stem of his glass. His face heated, and not from the wine. 

“Hello, Dean.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INVERNESS, 1945

 

“I knew it!” Charlie shrieked. “I knew there was something you weren’t telling me. Craig Na Dun, honestly.” 

Her face lit up in a self-satisfying grin, then almost instantly melted into a grimace. 

“You morons!” 

“Ow!” Gabriel said, flinching back from the rolled-up newspaper whacking him on the arm. 

How long have you lived in the highlands, Gabriel Milton? How many times have you heard the stories?” 

“I didn’t think they were real!” he protested. 

“Of course they are!” she said, crossing her arms. 

“We’re sorry that we didn’t believe you. Please help us,” Balthazar said placatingly, though he kept an eye on the newspaper still clutched in one of Charlie’s fists.

“I suppose I shouldn’t have expected Elysians to take our legends seriously,” Charlie begrudgingly admitted. She took the proffered seat at the kitchen table. “What do you want to know?” 

Gabriel and Balthazar traded glances. 

“What exactly do the legends say about Craig Na Dun?” 

“And not the part about giants bringing the stones here,” Gabriel added. “The part about why you shouldn’t go near them.” 

“And for that matter, explain why you and the rest of your toga-wearing friends didn’t disappear into thin air.” 

“We didn’t touch the stones,” Charlie said with a huff. “Are you going to listen? Good. The legends all differ slightly, but there’s one story that the others seemed to be based on. It’s this song—no, I’m not going to sing it—about a man who wanders by Craig Na Dun on Samhain, or sometimes it’s Beltane in the spring. He hears a woman’s voice on the wind, saying that the faeries stole her from her own time, by precisely two hundred and two years.” 

Charlie took a sip of her tea, oblivious to the appalled looks on the men’s faces. 

“Anyway, the woman says she lived among these strange people, made friends, took a lover, but now she’s returned, to take up once more with the man she left behind.” 

“But how?” asked Balthazar. 

“She went back through the stones?” Gabriel guessed.

Charlie nodded solemnly. “They always do.” 

“No, but how did the woman—travel through time—or whatever? You’re not seriously saying that the faeries did it?” 

“I don’t know what did it, or how,” Charlie said, glaring, “I’m just telling you what the story says. Somehow, the woman touched the stones, and fell through time. This tale has been around for centuries. If this is what really happened to Cas, he wouldn’t be the first.” 

“This is preposterous,” Balthazar said under his breath.

“You said the woman returned,” Gabriel said. “Does this mean we can get Cassie back?” 

Charlie shrugged. 

“Let me do some research.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEOCH, 1743

 

“Hey, Cas.” 

Dean’s charming smile shone like a thousand-watt bulb. Castiel’s heart fluttered.

“What can I do for you?” he asked, inwardly cursing as his voice came out more gravelly than usual. Cas set his wineglass down with delicate precision.

“Uh, nothing. I just—um.” Dean cleared his throat. “Bobby mentioned that you were going out for the boar tynchal.” 

“Yes. Samuel thought it would be good to have a healer along.”

Cas grabbed the lone burning candle on his worktable and set about lighting the others nearby. He dared not cross to the other side of the table to where Dean was, nor shed his coat, lest his scent change and reveal his inner turmoil. Instead, Cas rolled the sleeves deftly out of the way and picked up a bundle of herbs.

“Yeah. Um. So you’re gonna need a horse.” 

“I suppose so,” Castiel said casually, untying the bundle’s string. The thought had already occurred to him. “I can see Bobby about it later.” 

Dean rubbed a hand on the back of his neck.

“Actually, I thought you might want to take Baby.” 

Cas looked up from the loose herbs he had been pretending to sort.

“You’re not going on the hunt? I thought that was one of the main events for this Gathering of yours.” 

No one in the castle had been able to shut up about it for days, now, but Castiel couldn’t begrudge them that. If he had such a large, extended family, he’d be excited to see them all as well.

Dean lowered his gaze. 

“No. I, uh, won’t be…able to. I’ll be…indisposed,” he stammered. Immediately, Castiel’s doctor radar started pinging. 

“Are you unwell, Dean?” he asked, taking half a step forward. Dean bit his lip and shuffled his feet.

“I’m not sick or anything. It’s just—Mac na galla. I don’t know how to say this,” he said, crossing his arms across his chest as if they were a protective shield. 

“Dean.” 

Castiel waited until he saw the gleam of the man’s green irises beneath his long lashes. 

“Are you approaching your rut?” 

The alpha deflated, and dropped his arms.

“Yup. That’s—that’s it. Yeah,” he said, latching on to Cas’ blunt statement with alacrity. Castiel tried not to let his amusement show. For all one’s cycles were supposed to be a natural thing, none but doctors, nurses, and nosy gossips liked to discuss them. 

“Well, let me know if you need anything while you’re ‘indisposed,’” Cas said, forming air quotes. 

“Uh—what?” Dean asked, thoroughly nonplussed. Typical alpha, thinking they knew better than a medical professional. Cas launched into a speech he’d given too many times too count, and far too many times to be embarrassed about. 

“I’m sure you know this, but it’s essential you drink plenty of fluids, and make sure you actually eat something. I know food may not sound appealing to you when you’re in rut, but it’s important that you keep up your strength. And there are a few herbal remedies I can make up to help you.” 

Dean stared at him, open-mouthed. Castiel sighed.

“I’m a physician, Dean. I know how to treat these things. Besides, the symptoms of rut-induced exhaustion aren’t all that different from what one would undergo during a heat. It’s nothing I haven’t experienced myself.” He paused, squinting at Dean’s face. “Are you alright? You look a little warm.” 

“Yeah, I’m good,” Dean said, voice slightly higher than usual. He fidgeted with the hem of his kilt, then surreptitiously crossed one leg over the other.

“I’m sure your partner would already know how to assist you,” Castiel said primly. He threw the herbs into a bowl. Each grind of the pestle made a satisfying scrape against the stone. 

Dean’s voice was low when he finally spoke. “And if I don’t have one?” 

Castiel’s rhythm faltered. He wiped his hands on his breeches, then quickly turned and fetched something from one of his newly-organized shelves. Cas held the item out to Dean, who automatically lifted his hand to accept it. He made sure not to accidentally touch the alpha’s skin as he placed the small wax-sealed pot onto Dean’s palm.

“Use this,” he said. “It’ll help prevent chafing.” 

“Chafe—A Dhia, Cas!” Dean’s eyes went comically round.

Castiel shrugged. “It has other medicinal uses.” 

(Though truthfully, its best use was as a lubricant. Castiel had personally tested it the night before, though his own jar was stashed discreetly under his pillow.)

“Are you always this—casual—when discussing bodily functions?” Dean asked, half in shock, half amusedly exasperated. He slipped the jar into the sporran at his belt.

“Generally, yes,” Castiel said, then with no expression other than politeness, asked, “Was there anything else you needed?” 

“For my—my rut?” 

“I found a few heat aides the other day when I was cleaning some of this stuff out.” 

(Who knew that dildos and fake knots were a thing in this era? Not Cas, though those he had declined to try for himself.)

“There might be something for alphas I haven’t uncovered yet,” he added, though inwardly he shuddered at the thought of what the 18th-century version of a fake channel might look like. He’d heard rumors, back in medical school, that they had been made from the intestines of a sheep or a goat. Castiel did not want to find out the truth. 

“I’m good,” Dean mumbled. There was no mistaking the fiery blush that had spread across his cheekbones. 

“If there’s nothing else, I’d really like to get back to this. Lots to do before the boar hunt tomorrow,” Castiel said, gesturing lamely to the mess on his worktable. 

“Right. Well, um. Good night, Cas.” 

“Good night, Dean.” 

He didn’t look up from his work as Dean saw himself out. The moment he heard the door shut, Castiel abandoned his tools. He hadn’t needed that much valerian root, and he really should have boiled it first. 

Cas was only supposed to have mashed up enough to help Samuel sleep after standing all day on his aching joints. Supposedly, the alpha would have to hear an oath from all the fighting men (and a few women) of the clan during the Gathering. But Castiel had the beginnings of enough valerian to make an entire army sleep peacefully throughout the night.

What a waste, he thought. And then—maybe not. The gears in his head whirred as a plan began to form. Perhaps all that valerian root wouldn’t go to waste after all. 

 


 

It was well past midnight when Castiel finally flopped onto the small bed tucked away in a corner of the surgery. His thoughts drifted back to Dean’s visit. Generous though Dean’s offer was, Castiel wouldn’t borrow the big black mare. Dean cared for that horse like 20th-century men cared for their cars. If everything went according to his plan, Cas couldn’t—wouldn’t—make Baby an accomplice. Dean deserved better than that. It wasn’t his fault, after all, that Castiel was stuck here. 

He really was a good man, Castiel mused, and not just to him, but with everyone and with everything that he did. Dean had a gentle but firm hand with the horses, just like he did with the pups around the castle. Every time they came across him, the pups would cling to Dean’s legs and beg him to play with them. Once, while Castiel just happened to be looking over the rampart into the courtyard, he’d seen Dean pick up a wooden sword and pretend to duel them. He’d valiantly lost without making it seem like he did it on purpose, laughing as they tugged him down into the dirt and clambered over him like kittens. 

Women were quite taken with Dean as well, and a few of the men. He was always courteous with them, never rude even when he didn’t return their advances. Sometimes he flirted, but always in good humor, never seriously. He’d done so with Castiel, too, before Cas tried to keep his distance, too rankled by his forced stay to make good company.

It wouldn’t hurt to imagine how things could have been, Castiel reasoned. He could still make his escape, return to 1945, and live out the rest of his life in his own century. Cas would leave the past behind, and all of this would be a distant dream. But for now, he could still imagine. 

Maybe Dean’s lips would be as soft as they looked. Would his kisses be tender, or full of passion? How would it feel, Cas wondered, to have the weight of a man above him, or pressed beneath him, instead of a woman’s? Meg’s body had been all creamy curves, supple rounded breasts and ass, her cleft warm and wet as it drew Castiel inside. But what would the reverse be like? To lay oneself bare, open and waiting beneath a lover’s ardent gaze? 

Castiel flipped himself over onto his knees, untouched cock hanging heavy between his legs. He lifted the hem of his nightshirt over his backside, exposing it to the cool air. Cas squeezed his eyes shut, picturing that it was someone else’s fingers, not his own, trailing up the back of his thigh, sliding between his cheeks. Circling the puckered flesh. Rubbing, teasing until slick escaped him. Nearly slipping into his hole, but drawing back until just a fingertip hovered over his opening, and then plunging inside.

He whimpered, torn between sudden pleasure and surprise at the intrusion. It had been so long since Cas had done this that he’d nearly forgotten the sensation, and oh, how had he resisted for so long? His inner muscles spasmed. He bit down hard on his lower lip to keep from crying out. Before long, Castiel eased another finger inside. He sank further into the mattress, fingers curling, desperately searching for that secret spot deep within. 

Mark hit, he mewled, nerves sparking from spine to scalp. His forehead, sleek with perspiration, slipped against the sheet. Cas pumped his hand in time with the movement of his hips, but the friction alone wasn’t enough. He wrapped a hand around his neglected cock and tugged, hard. His pace was off-balance, pulling with one hand and thrusting with the other. Arousal clouded his mind and he could no longer pretend that it was any random stranger he pictured, but Dean, Dean with his green eyes and deep voice, Dean with his kind heart and bright smile, Dean, Dean—

“Dean,” he groaned. His climax peaked from deep inside, and overflowed.

Castiel let himself tip over onto his side, thighs slick and one hand sticky with his own release. There was no way of getting that out of the sheets without someone noticing. At least Cas had closed the bed curtains before he’d begun. Castiel wiped himself up, and fell back onto the bed, asleep almost the instant his head hit the pillow. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THREE DAYS LATER

 

Castiel should have realized that his plan was going too well. He’d made an appearance at the oath-taking (in the back, with the other omegas), given Harry and Ed a bottle of port spiked with enough valerian root to fell a rhinoceros, and made it to the stables without being seen. Therefore, it stood to reason that something was bound to go wrong, and it appeared as though that would be sooner rather than later. Much sooner, as it would happen—now, to be precise. 

In his hurry, Cas stumbled over something in the dark, something quite large and agile, given that it pinned him to the ground before Castiel could register that he’d fallen. The someone growled low in warning, someone whose scent was spicy sweet. Dean.

The full and rich aroma cloyed Castiel’s senses like a raging wildfire, more intense than it ought to have been even pressed so close together, and he suddenly remembered that Dean was supposed to be in rut. He panicked. Late night thoughts aside, Castiel was not ready to be taken like this, on his back in the straw with a rutting alpha immobilizing him.

What breaths Cas could manage were dampened against Dean’s palm. Dark curtains of panic narrowed his vision until the shadowy ceiling grew hazy and hellish above him. He was choking, suffocating, struggling for air against the invisible iron bands shackling him to the floor. A pitiful whimper escaped him. Then the warm weight on his chest disappeared.

“Cas?” 

He gasped. 

“Castiel!” 

“Don’t…please don’t, alpha,” he sobbed, hoping that his panicked pheromones would be enough to make Dean’s rut-crazed mind pause. 

“Don’t what? Cas? Cas, mo charaid, look at me.” 

He obeyed, spurred by the need to not anger an alpha in rut, and gently reassured by the palm cupping his cheek. 

“What’s wrong?” Dean asked, hovering above him. “Did someone hurt you?” 

The alpha’s green eyes widened noticeably beneath his furrowed brow, but his pupils weren’t dilated in lust. His scent soured with concern. Cas sniffed. The air distinctly lacked a certain smell.

“You’re not in rut,” Castiel accused, sitting up abruptly. Dean’s hand fell limply to his side.

“No, I’m not in—” He cut himself off. “Did you—Did you think that I would…?”

No words were necessary. The indignant blush rising on Cas’ cheekbones was response enough. 

Dean balked. “Cas, I would never—”

“I’ve never been alone with a rutting alpha before. How should I know?” Castiel asked, hotly, as he pulled his legs into a criss-crossed position. Unfortunately, the action drew Dean’s eyes to Cas’ second-hand riding boots, then to his borrowed cloak, and finally to the pathetic bundle of food abandoned a couple of feet away.

“You were trying to run away,” Dean said, not in confrontation or anger, nor even in sorrow, but simply as a statement of fact. 

“Obviously I didn’t know you were in here, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone this way,” Castiel snapped. 

“And what, you’d have gone on foot?”

“I don’t know.” 

“Real smart plan, Cas,” Dean snarked, settling onto his backside and untucking his legs from where they’d been folded beneath him. “Samuel’s got extra guards posted all around Leoch. Did you really think you could get away? Half the clan’s hunters would be on your trail before dawn, and chances are they wouldn’t bring you back alive. What were you thinking, Cas?” 

“I had a plan,” he protested.

“Hey, if you wanna go ahead and leave, I ain’t stopping you.” 

“You’re sitting on my cloak,” Castiel pointed out.

Dean ducked his eyes guiltily, but he didn’t move. 

“Do you know the real reason why you’ve derailed all my plans, Dean?” 

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Dean mouth the word derailed to himself, brows puckered in confusion. Castiel barreled on, before he lost his nerve.

“It’s not because your ass is sitting on my cloak. It’s not because you make an excellent point about guards I didn’t know about. It’s not even because I think you’d try and stop me. The real reason I can’t leave now is because for some godsdamned reason—every time I see you, my resolve starts to crumble.” 

He took a deep, shuddering breath.

“That’s why you were avoiding me,” Dean said. “Not because you thought I was approaching my rut.” 

Castiel nodded. “But it’s also what I said the other week. I don’t belong here, Dean. That’s a truth we can’t escape.” 

They sat without speaking, listening to the horses shuffling their hooves and chewing hay. Rain pattered increasingly louder on the stable’s thatched roof. 

“Go on, then,” Cas said, miserable as the chilly air outside. “Take me back to the castle.”

“No,” Dean said, barely audible over the rain.

Cas turned his head sharply. “What?” 

“If I go in there, I’ll have to make an oath to Samuel,” Dean said, glancing disdainfully in the direction of the castle. “And if I do that, Cain and his men will likely kill me.” 

His clenched fists belied his words’ forced calm.

“I don’t understand.” Castiel’s heard thudded against his ribs.

“Clans are tanist, Cas. Samuel’s heir has to be a male alpha who’s sworn him fealty. Right now that’ll either be Cain, or my second cousin Christian.” 

Castiel racked his brain for the dozens of new faces and names he’d met over the last couple weeks. 

“Is that the one who won’t stop quoting St. Metatron?”

“Yeah, that’s him.” Dean grimaced. “Anyway, when Samuel dies, the clans will vote, and currently Cain has the strongest claim. But if I were to pledge myself to the Campbells…A lotta hunters respected my mother. Whether or not I wanna be laird don’t matter.” 

Outside, the wind picked up. Dean shivered reflexively, though his gaze was distant.

“Short of being on my death bed, only way I could get away with not being at the oath-taking was if I were in rut. Refusing to pledge my loyalty to Samuel would be a death sentence.” 

“So you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.” 

“Yeah.” 

From far away, they heard the rumble of thunder.

“Dean…could I—could I stay in the stables, with you? At least until the others have gone to bed? If someone saw me coming back in, they might figure out that I tried to run.” 

Dean pondered Castiel’s request.

“Campbells do have long memories. Ne obliviscaris, ‘never forget,’ you know,” he said. “Do you know what my clan’s motto is, Cas?” 

“No.” 

Non timebo mala,” he said, reverently as a prayer.

“I shall fear no evil,” Castiel murmured. But what evil?

Dean scooted back until he could lean against the wall, and Cas followed. Their knees and shoulders knocked together. Neither pulled away. In the distance, the storm raged, and they spoke of nothing and everything. 

“I know you don’t feel like you belong here…” Dean whispered, hours later, “but a part of me’s glad you had to stay.” 

Castiel, half-asleep, smiled against Dean’s shoulder.

The night went on, and dawn found them still side by side, fingers twined together under the cover of Castiel’s cloak. 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

The pond was frozen around the edges. Castiel pulled the cloak tighter around him. The soft fur lining tickled pleasantly against the edges of his jaw. He wondered if it had been a mistake to refuse omega’s skirts all those weeks ago. Surely the extra layers of fabric would be better protection against the wintery highland chill. 

Spring was fast approaching; already the snow was sparse, and green shoots popped up amongst the yellow grass. Someone had forgotten to tell that to the temperature, however, for every now and then the wind would whip past Castiel’s ears sharp as a train whistle, and he would burrow further into the hood of his cloak. He showed no other outward sign of discomfort, though. The clansmen didn’t need another reason to whisper in Lawrencian behind his back. 

If only radiators had been invented yet, Castiel lamented. There was no use in pining for the 20th century and its amazingly convenient innovations; logically, Cas knew that. But he still couldn’t stop himself from thinking that such-and-such would be nice to have, or what a pity it was that they didn’t have this-or-that. Medicine—penicillin in particular—was one of the things Castiel longed for the most, though he doubted any 20th century medicine would have saved poor Lee Chambers. 

Why men, especially alphas, were always so determined to prove their virility and physical prowess was beyond Castiel. Not that he blamed Chambers for bringing about his own death, of course. If anything were to blame, it was the persistence of alphas through the ages to go chase after dangerous creatures armed with little more than pointy sticks. Didn’t any of them understand that crashing through the forest in search of wild boar was a foolhardy endeavor?

Castiel wasn’t there when Chambers received his fatal wounds. He only arrived on the scene to find the man on the ground, head cradled in Cain’s lap and bravely trying not to whimper. 

The gash in Chambers’ thigh could have probably been stitched back up, and he could have had a chance of surviving it, even though the bracken nearby was spattered in arterial red. 

“Is it bad?” Chambers had whispered. 

Castiel had looked up, ready to reassure him, when the clansman’s shaking hands moved away from his belly to reveal the parts of him never meant to see the light of day. Blood seeped richly from the gashes across Chambers’ abdomen, exposing the sight of his organs bundled together like pale glistening snakes. Someone nearby began to gag and retch at the ghastly image. Castiel looked calmly up into Cain Campbell’s anxious whiskered face. Understanding passed between them.

“It will be alright,” Cas lied smoothly. 

He untied the wrapping around the clansman’s thigh, undoing the pressure over his femoral artery and untethering him from a slow death. This was quicker, and therefore kinder, than the alternative. If the shock of being gutted didn’t kill Chambers, then infection would. Castiel had no way of saving his life out there in the woods, in this century, or possibly even in Cas’ own century. The least he could do was lessen the man’s suffering. 

“Cain…I cannae feel my legs.” 

“Dinna fash, man. You’re in good hands.” 

“Krissy…”

“Will be just fine,” Cain finished for him, in an uncharacteristically gentle voice. 

“His name?” Cas whispered. A nearby clansman gave it. 

“Lee?” Cas asked, patting the man’s hand. His eyes, though unfocused, turned in Castiel’s direction.

“Tell me about your home,” he said. 

Lee began to speak, haltingly at first, but then a small smile twitched at the corner of his bloodstained lips. The act tugged at Castiel’s heartstrings, and the air was suddenly filled with the scent of honey as Cas’ body responded to the omega’s instinct to comfort. 

No one made a sound. Even the forest fell silent, as though it too were listening to the soft whispers of Lee describing the sunny meadow near his cottage. Then his words slipped away and his bleary eyes grew blank. The pulse under Castiel’s fingertips ceased, and Lee Chambers was no more. 

For a second, even Castiel was taken aback with the acrid odor of burned sugar. He took a deep breath to steady himself, and his scent neutralized. The smell of upset omega dissipated, and only the heady grief of the nearby clansmen remained in the air. 

Later, after they had all returned to the castle, Cain ad made his way down to Castiel’s surgery. He doffed his green tam and leaned against a table, hands clasped, as though he were deep in thought.

“You’ve seen men die before. Bloody.” 

“Yes,” Castiel said. “Many times.” 

They stared at each other. Once again Cas felt as though Cain were sizing him up, but this time, there was a modicum of respect in his gaze. At the least, there was less judgement than before.

“You’ve done a fine job here as healer. Ellen would have you sit for a portrait, were it up to her.” 

Castiel raised an eyebrow. Was he hearing this correctly? Did Cain just compliment him—even if he had added a snide comment immediately afterwards?

“And,” Cain added, not quite meeting Cas’ eye, “I, uh, wanted to thank you personally for what you did for Chambers up there at the hunt.”

“In truth, I did nothing. I wish I could have helped him,” Castiel said. 

“You did. You took him too a peaceful place, and that’s all any of us can ask for when we pass,” Cain said. “So thank you.” 

“You’re welcome,” Castiel replied, just as stiffly as the alpha had spoken. He debated for half a second if he would be pushing his luck, then asked the question that had been nagging at him.

“Who’s Krissy?” he asked. 

“Lee’s daughter. She’s aught but a pup still, but she’s strong. Samuel’s with her now. He’ll see that she’s taken care of.” 

Castiel nodded. When it appeared as though Cain had nothing more to say on the matter, Cas decided to end this entire uncomfortable conversation.

“If there’s nothing else, you’ll have to excuse me,” he said briskly. “I have a lot here to do in my dungeon.”  

“That’s why I’m here. To set you free from this dank room.” 

Castiel stared at Cain in disbelief.

“What do you mean?” 

“You’re coming on the road.” 

“On the road?” Cas repeated.

“I’m leaving tomorrow, and I’m taking you with me.”

“Taking me where?”

“Traveling through Campbell lands, collecting rents. Samuel doesn’t travel, so visiting the tenants and tacksmen that can’t come to the gathering, that falls to me, and attending to a bit of business here and there.”

“But…why me?” Cas asked. 

“I think it would be wise to have a healer along, especially one that does well under strain. And there’s a lot of that on the road,” Cain answered, grim expression upon his face. “We leave at dawn.” 

And so the next day, Castiel found himself staring at a partially frozen pond, wondering at what the road had in store for him—and if that included a way to escape back to Craig Na Dun.

 


 

“Ciamar a tha thu?” 

Castiel started. He turned away from the frozen pond to see one of the clansman standing a few feet away, the one who didn’t wear a kilt like the others. Cas hadn’t seen him around the castle before their journey. 

“Tha mi duilich,” the man said, inclining his head politely. He gazed down at Castiel with kind hazel eyes and repeated, “Ciamar a tha thu?”

Castiel shook his head. “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.” 

The stranger didn’t look at all surprised, but he smiled warmly.

“I was asking how you were,” he explained. His voice, like his dress, was distinctly more refined than the other highlanders. Castiel suspected that this man had received a formal education, perhaps in Elysium or across the channel in Arcadia. 

“Oh. I’m well, thank you,” Castiel said, returning the smile. He extended a hand for the man to shake. “Castiel Milton. But you probably already know that.” 

“I do,” the man admitted pleasantly, returning the handshake with a firm grip.

The wind changed direction. A wisp of the man’s long hair escaped his ponytail. Castiel caught a slight whiff of cherries and something else he couldn’t identify, old books maybe, along with the absence of any alpha or omega traits. This man was a beta, but more importantly—

“You’re Dean’s brother, aren’t you?” Cas asked. “Sam, isn’t it?” 

“Yes. How did you—?” 

“Your scent.” For some reason, the explanation made heat rise in Castiel’s cheeks, so he hastened to explain more. “You two are the only people I’ve met here that have cherry in their scent.” 

Sam’s eyes widened a bit, but then he chuckled good-naturedly. 

“I’d forgotten how much better omegas were at scenting things.” 

“Dean told me about your fiancée,” Castiel said. “I’m sorry that happened to her. To all of you.” 

This time Sam appeared thoroughly taken aback. “Dean told you about Jess?” 

“Only a little. If I overstepped, I’m sorry—”

“It’s alright. If Dean trusts you enough to tell you, then I trust you.” 

Castiel felt a warmth spreading inside him that had nothing to do with the rays of weak spring sun sparkling over the half-frozen pond. The sunlight illuminated a polished silver brooch on the lapel of Sam’s coat. 

“You’re a Man of Letters?” Cas inquired, pointing at the Aquarian star. 

“Yes. I didn’t know there were any chapters in Elysium.” 

“I don’t think there are—”(nor would there ever be, Cas reflected) “—but I knew a Man of Letters. A long time ago.” 

Castiel supposed it wasn’t entirely a lie, even though the two hundred and two years between now and when he would meet Larry Ganem technically hadn’t happened yet.

“Our father’s family have all been Men of Letters. Dean is a legacy too, but he didn’t go through with the initiation. Only me.” Sam gave Castiel a wan smile. 

“So, what’s a learned man like you doing up here in the wilderness?” 

“I’m here to help with the rents. I fear what you will think of us highlanders when I tell you that few of our party have attended university.” 

Castiel wasn’t quite sure what to make of Sam’s statement, especially given that the beta was half-smiling as he watched Dean and Benny play keep-away with Garth’s hat. The skinnier man was easily the same height as the alphas, and definitely faster than the bulkier-built Benny, but he never seemed to be able to catch the tam. Each time he got close, it slipped through his fingers as though it were made of silk, not wool. 

“I’ve met my share of university men who were less intelligent than drunken squirrels,” Castiel said in his characteristic dry tone.

The corners of Sam’s mouth twitched, as though he weren’t sure if he ought to laugh or not. 

“Once, when I was a pup,” Castiel explained, “my cousin convinced me to help him lace the contents of our grandmother’s bird feeder with sacramental wine. It didn’t end well for the squirrels, the birds, or our backsides.” 

At this, Sam did laugh aloud, and Castiel surprised himself when he laughed as well. Dean turned at the sound. Garth’s hat hit him squarely in the face. 

 


 

Dinner that evening was, fortunately, not herring, but was, unfortunately, the most pathetic and shriveled-looking rabbit Castiel had ever seen. It was, at least, much more appealing than the dehydrated rations forced upon him while he was overseas during the war. However, the lewd joke Benny was telling the other men while they were circled around the fire made Cas’ appetite dwindle. Castiel poked at the rabbit meat with his primitive, two-pronged fork, and took a bite in such a dainty manner it would have pleased Balthazar’s mother. 

He scented Dean before he saw him approach. The highlander sat on the ground next to Castiel’s log, sipping from a flask. 

“You’ve met Sam,” he said. 

“Yes,” Cas replied, not really sure what else he was supposed to say. “I didn’t know your family were part of the Men of Letters.” 

Dean paused from taking another swig of whatever he was drinking. 

“How does a sassenach like you know about a Lawrencian society?” he asked, politely curious.

“I’ve met one of their members. Nice fellow. Very knowledgable historian. Although, he did think he had heard of a Lawrencian named ‘Castiel.’” 

Dean furrowed his brow. “I’d never heard the name until you told me.” 

Across the campsite, Benny imitated humping an invisible someone to many gales of raucous laughter. Castiel set his fork and knife down on his plate with a look of distaste. 

“Sorry about Benny,” Dean said. “He can be a bit rough around the edges at times, but he’s a good man to have in a fight.” 

“I’m sure he is,” Castiel replied, without any real emotion. Benny was now pretending to fondle a pair of imaginary breasts. Castiel sincerely hoped that whatever lovers the alpha had taken were never subjected to such treatment. He looked as though he were attempting to tune a radio. Cas snorted and looked away to see Dean eyeing him with a curious expression. 

“What?” 

“Nothing,” Dean said, shaking his head, with a hint of a smile on his face. 

Cas tilted his head, puzzled, but Dean didn’t explain further. 

“You know, I’m a little surprised Samuel agreed to let Cain take you with us,” Dean said, after he watched the other clansmen jockeying one another to see who would tell the next joke.

“Why? Because I’m an omega?” Cas asked, a little icily. 

“No, it’s not that, it’s—“”

“‘It’ what, Dean?”

“We could be on the road for a couple months, at the least. Chances are you’ll go into—you’ll have your—um—I mean—” Dean stammered. 

“Chances are that the omega will go into heat?” Cas finished. 

“Uh. Yeah. That.” 

“You can relax, Dean. You’re not offending me or sending me into a state of shock by talking about this.” 

“Sorry. I’ve never really been friends with a male omega before.” 

“Are we friends?” Castiel asked, mildly surprised. 

“I’d like to think so, yeah.”

“Me too.” He paused. “Out of curiosity, what are Cain’s plans, should I suddenly go into heat?” 

Dean took a drink, as though he were considering how to answer. 

“Same as if one of us goes into rut. Hightail it to the nearest village and lock you in someone’s empty cottage, most likely,” he said, eventually. “I gotta say, Cas, you don’t look too worried about this.” 

“Well, unlike most omegas, I could always keep my head during a heat,” Castiel said, matter-of-factly. 

“Could?” Dean repeated. 

“None of your business, Dean.” 

“No, I suppose it’s not,” he said, straightening up, ”but it’s not you keeping a level head that I’m worried about, here. It’s all the other knotheads we might come across.” 

Castiel rolled his eyes. “I’m not going to spontaneously go into heat, Dean.” 

“But you don’t know that for sure. I mean, not unless you’re…”

“Pregnant?”

“Uh…”

“I can assure you, that’s entirely impossible.” 

Suddenly, the idea of admitting to Dean that he might be sterile, or barren, irked him. An unexpected rage flared up inside his chest.

“I’ve taken care of myself and my own heats for years without anyone else’s help—or their interference. You don’t need to concern yourself with it simply because my secondary gender is different from yours,” Castiel said hotly. 

“Cas, I didn’t—”

“Here,” Castiel said, shoving the plate of half-eaten rabbit in Dean’s direction. “You can finish it, if you like. I’m going to bed.” 

He stalked away, resolutely ignoring the smell of sour cherries emanating from Dean.  

 


 

Collecting the rent was one of the more resolutely boring things Castiel had ever witnessed. Sure, the first few villages had been mildly interesting, from an outsider’s perspective, but the process rapidly grew dull. The heads of households would line up, carrying coin purses or various goods. Cain would chat with them, inquire as to their family’s health and wellbeing. Sam would dutifully record each contribution into a ledger. Some gave coppers or silvers as payment. Far more gave sacks of grain and bushels of vegetables, chickens squawking from cages, or goats that bleated and attempted to eat every square inch of grass they found.

Sam had privately told Castiel about how they would not accept live pigs, due to an unfortunate incident the previous year involving a vicious white sow and the near-destruction of an entire wagon of goods. Despite this, Cain accepted a squealing piglet with a polite smile, though he muttered in a disgruntled fashion under his breath as soon as the hog farmer walked away. 

Castiel’s job during all of this was to sit behind Sam and wait until Cain told him to take a look at one of the villagers. Unlike the occupants of Castle Leoch and its nearby village, these people were less inclined to trust a strange male omega from Elysium. Sam suggested that he ask Dean or one of the others to accompany him, to put the villagers at ease. Cas rankled slightly at this, given that he was the only person for miles who knew how to properly stitch a wound, reduce a fever, or pull a rotten tooth. But his desire to help others quickly outweighed his indignation, and Cas consented to another clansman trailing behind him while he treated stomach aches, sprained ankles, and adolescent acne. 

In one village, a younger female omega asked, blushing furiously, if Castiel knew of anything that would prevent a heat. The tips of Dean’s ears went pink and he pretended that Sam needed him, walking briskly a safe distance away. 

“There are certain…concoctions, that can bring on or delay a heat or a rut,” Cas told her. “But they’re extremely dangerous. They’re little better than poisons.”

“There’s nothing I can do?” the omega asked. Her baleful brown eyes brimmed with unshed tears. 

“Are your heats that bad?” 

“No. I just hate them. I hate feeling so—so—”

“Out of control?” Cas supplied. The omega nodded.  

Castiel spent the next twenty minutes showing her exactly how to brew a special tea to drink during her next heat. It wouldn’t relieve her symptoms entirely, but it would at least lessen her discomfort. 

“And Nancy? Promise me that you won’t try and mess with your cycles. Even medicine prepared properly can can cause lifelong damage. Infertility, paralysis…even death, in some cases,” Castiel warned. Twentieth-century solutions were sketchy enough. Remedies in this centuries often did more harm than good.

Nancy agreed solemnly. She turned to leave, but stopped, threw her arms around Castiel in a brief hug, and left just as quickly. Cas smiled after her. He couldn’t help feeling that he may have helped this young woman more than either of them knew.

 


 

Evenings on the road were the worst. If the Campbell party didn’t stop in a village, Castiel was often subjected to the men telling vulgar (and anatomically inaccurate) stories. He vastly preferred this to the nights they spent in taverns and inns. 

Cas didn’t mind the looks he got from villagers. He knew perfectly well that he was an outlander. He also didn’t mind that ninety-eight percent of the conversation was in Lawrencian. Castiel would have gladly traded the nights indoors with warm food and cold ale for the nights of sleeping on the hard ground, listening to twenty other men snore and fart in their sleep, if it meant he could have spared Dean from what Cain put him through. 

At first, Castiel thought the older alpha was running a con against his brother; a pound for the laird, a penny for Cain. That would certainly explain the coin purse that Sam kept separate from the other tax donations. Cain would make an impassioned speech in Lawrencian to the villagers, pacing about, gesturing, clearly saying something impressive if the nods of agreement and hearty cheers of “ayes” from the crowd. And each time, the speech would end with Cain tearing open the back of Dean’s shirt, exposing his scars for all the world to see. The message seemed clear: this is what Elysium does to us; pay us, and we will protect you from them. 

After the fourth or fifth time, Dean pushed Cain’s hands away and lifted up his shirt, rather than have it torn. Castiel never looked at the marks left from the whip. He couldn’t tear his gaze away from the stoic mask of neutrality on Dean’s face. Only his eyes, blazing with fury, betrayed his farce of indifference. It was for this reason that Castiel noticed Dean taking care to hide the flaming pentagram tattooed on his chest. What did it mean? What was so special about it that Dean had to keep it hidden from his countrymen, yet had willingly let Castiel see it?

“Bràth Stuart!” Cain shouted. 

The others echoed his cry. Sam held out the leather pouch in invitation. Each coin clinked as it met its fellows. Castiel caught another glimpse of the Men of Letters sigil pinned to Sam’s chest. A woman pressed a handkerchief embroidered with a white Lawrencian rose into Cain’s palm.

Dazed, Castiel realized he had heard the phrase “bràth Stuart” before now. Old Larry Ganem had corrected Cas’ pronunciation of the Lawrencian word while Castiel was perusing one of the historian’s dusty books. It was the rallying cry of the rebels during the Highland Uprising of 1745. 

Castiel left the tavern, barely noticing the chilly wind rushing past. It was nothing compared to the sickening cold building in his chest. He felt as frozen as the pond he’d stared at weeks earlier, contemplating a way to escape. If history were true, in a little over two years from now, most of the highlanders Castiel had met would likely be dead upon the moor, slaughtered in the fight for their freedom. Hundreds of Campbell clansmen alone had died at Stull. Was Dean fated to be among them? 

 


 

One night, after another of Cain’s demonstrations, Castiel couldn’t get to sleep. The sight of Dean’s frustration wouldn’t leave Cas’ eyes, no matter how tight he shut them. Even the bitterness of Dean’s scent seemed to linger in his nostrils.

Finally, after much tossing and turning uselessly about, Cas pulled on his coat and shoes and ducked out of the tent. The only one still awake was Benny, who must have been on watch, given the rifle resting on his knees. Cas jerked his head towards the woods, and Benny nodded and let him pass. It was clear, given the lack of a cloak or anything else, that Castiel was not trying to make a run for it. He had no idea where they were, in any case. 

Better to let Benny think he simply needed to relieve his bladder. Many of the men were so ignorant about omegas, they probably wouldn’t question it if Castiel claimed he needed half an hour to take a piss. He had overheard some of them whispering, wondering if male omegas had smaller-than-average penises, or if they had penises at all. A part of Castiel would have loved to correct them, but a greater part of him, the part that wanted to return to 1945, didn’t care to take the time to explain. 

Cas walked in what he thought was an aimless direction for a few minutes, guided only by the light of the moon, when he realized that he was following the scent of what could only be compared to burnt cherry pie. He slowed his pace, trying to muffle the sound of his footsteps as much as possible, until he reached the edge of a small clearing. Castiel ducked behind the trunk of a tree and strained his ears. He might have put wax in them, for all he could understand. Someone—Dean, by the timbre of the voice and the scent in the air—was arguing heatedly in Lawrencian. By the clipped manner of speech, Castiel would have to guess the second speaker was Cain. A few minutes later, one of them left the clearing, leaving the pungent odor of gunpowder in his wake.

“I know you’re there, Cas. I can scent you,” Dean called, once the sound of Cain’s footsteps receded. He didn’t sound angry, only tired. His back was to Castiel when the omega left the trees’ shadows.

“Why do you let him push you around like that?” Castiel asked. 

“He’s my uncle.” 

“So?” 

The word must have come out with more malice than Castiel had intended, for Dean whirled around with a stony expression.

“Maybe things are different down in Elysium, but here in the highlands, family, clan—that’s everything.” 

The two men stared at one another for a long, horribly tense moment. An owl hooted nearby. Castiel sighed. 

“You’re right. I wouldn’t really know. I’m not a highlander,” he conceded, stepping closer until he and Dean were only a couple feet apart. “I still hate the way Cain is using you like that.” 

“I hate it too,” Dean said quietly to his boots. “But what can I do? He’s my blood.” 

“That doesn’t necessarily make him your family.” 

“You don’t understand.” 

“I know. You’ve said that already.” 

Castiel suddenly found himself wrapped up in Dean’s arms.

“Sorry,” Dean mumbled.  

“It’s alright,” Cas murmured, recovering quickly from his surprise.  He pulled gently on the nape of Dean’s neck to keep his head in place. The alpha snuffled like a small pup and buried his nose into the collar of Castiel’s coat. 

A Dhia, you smell good,” he said. “Did you know that?” 

“Most omegas smell sweet,” Cas said, chuckling softly.

“No, it’s more than that,” Dean insisted. He lifted his head slightly, rubbing his nose gently across Cas’ throat. 

“Then what?” Cas asked. His voice was a breathless whisper. 

“Well, you do smell sweet. Like honey on freshly-baked pie crust. Or sometimes it’s more like honey stirred into mint tea. But underneath all that…” 

Dean let his words trail off. Castiel could feel the heat of Dean’s palms through the fabric of his own shirt. His pulse was racing—or maybe that was Dean’s. They were too close together to tell. Dean’s breath ghosted over the shell of Castiel’s ear. Cas shuddered. 

“…underneath all that sweetness, there’s something powerful. Intense. Like the air right before a storm hits.”

“Ozone. It’s called ozone,” Castiel murmured. 

“I just thought of it as ‘Cas.’” 

Dean’s face was so close, Cas could only focus on one brilliantly green eye at a time, or else his vision would blur. There was desire etched into Dean’s handsome features, but there was nervousness, too; fear of rejection, perhaps, or of the unknown. Castiel forgot they were on the edge of a camp filled with twenty men. He forgot that he was—technically—a married man. He even forgot that this wasn’t his time. He forgot about everything that wasn’t right then, right there—everything that wasn’t Dean. 

“My turn,” he whispered, and spun the pair of them around. Dean gasped as his back hit the tree, but his fingers clenched tighter under Cas’ coat. Slowly, Cas repeated everything Dean had done to him: rubbing his nose against the alpha’s cheeks, across his throat, beneath his ear.

“Well?” Dean asked, as breathless as if he’d run a race. 

“Well what?” 

“What do I smell like?” 

Castiel laughed softly, then pressed himself closer. His lips brushed against Dean’s earlobe as he spoke. 

“Cherry and cinnamon. I already knew your scent, Dean. I have from the moment we met.” 

Dean squirmed, as though he were torn between wanting to get as close as he could, or as far away as possible.

“Cas…ifrinn…Do you have any idea what you do to me?” 

“Yes,” Castiel replied. “I imagine it’s remarkably similar to the effect you have on me.” 

He slotted his leg neatly between Dean’s. There was a sharp intake of breath from one of them, or maybe both. Dean was hard beneath his kilt, had been for several minutes if the heat emanating from him was any indication. The alpha shifted his own leg. Cas shivered when the muscles of Dean’s bare thigh rubbed against his breeches, right beneath his aching erection. Dean moved again, pressing closer to the warmth between Castiel’s legs. Something akin to a purr escaped the omega, and Dean, emboldened, rolled his hips. Before he knew it, Castiel was thrusting back, panting into Dean’s open mouth. 

There was nothing for several blissful moments, nothing but the smell and feel of Dean near him, against him, wrapped around him. How he would have liked nothing more to fall back into the bracken with Dean above him, or to feel Dean behind him while the rough bark of the tree scraped against his face. The mere thought of Dean sliding inside him made slick leak from between Cas’ cheeks. For the first time since he’d gone through those wretched stones, he welcomed the wetness, especially when Dean tightened his fingers on Castiel’s ass, and the alpha moaned. 

Cas wanted to moan, too, to growl or scream his agreement, to mewl for Dean to take him right then and there. He wondered if he really could feel Dean’s knot against his leg. This thought drew him up short, lessened the hazy fog of desire clouding his mind. 

Dean’s breaths were coming short and fast. His scent blazed and crackled throughout the air like a storm. Abruptly, Castiel slipped a hand between them and gripped the base of his own cock tightly through the fabric of his breeches. 

“Cas, what…?” 

Dean was gazing at him confusedly with lust-blown pupils. He made a feeble attempt to keep grinding, but Castiel set his other hand gently on Dean’s abdomen to still his movements. 

“If we don’t stop…we won’t stop,” Cas said. He frowned. He couldn’t quite articulate properly what he meant to say. 

“I don’t want to stop. Do you want to stop?” 

“No, I don’t want to stop. But we—We’re in the middle of the godsdamned woods somewhere—if we don’t stop, I’ll let you knot me—” His voice cracked. Dean whimpered. 

“Oh, fuck it,” Cas muttered. He took Dean’s face in his hands, pulled him close, and finally pressed their lips together. Dean returned the kiss with fervor, one hand in Cas’ hair, and the other resting against his heart. The world narrowed down to only this, only the conjunction of his lips against Dean’s. Gradually, the kisses slowed, until the pair stood, chests heaving, foreheads pressed together, breathing each other in. 

Dean said something in Lawrencian that Castiel didn’t understand, but he didn’t think he had the courage to ask what Dean meant. 

“You’re right,” Dean said, after a moment’s pause. “Not here. Not in the middle of the godsdamned woods.” 

He placed a feather-light kiss on Castiel’s lips. 

“I don’t think I much enjoy being right,” Cas said. 

“Yes you do,” Dean protested.

“Not now.” 

“No,” Dean agreed. He pulled Castiel into a tight embrace. 

“Your cock doesn’t like me being right either,” Cas commented. Dean made a noise halfway between a laugh and a grumble. 

“I don’t suppose you have a remedy for that, do you, oh legendary healer?” Dean said. Cas knew he was smirking, even if he couldn’t see his face. 

“As a matter of fact, I do,” he said mildly. Dean pulled back, surprised. Castiel looked around and scented the air, but there was no one there. They were still alone.

“Do you trust me?” he asked. Dean nodded. Castiel dropped silently to his knees and grasped the edge of Dean’s kilt. 

“Wait,” Dean hissed, hand on Cas’ shoulder. 

“Do you not want me to?”

“No, I do, I really do, I just—I mean, are you sure?” Dean asked, wide-eyed.

“Of course,” Cas said. Then without further ado, he put his hand under Dean’s kilt, and took him in hand, and swallowed him down. 

“Mac na galla!

 


 

Later, as he fell asleep in his own tent, contentedly remembering how nice it was to be near Dean, Castiel remembered the strange comment the alpha made about his scent. Cas had smelled like honey and mint for as long as he could remember. But Dean had said there was something more. 

“The air before a storm,” Dean had called it. 

Cas dreamed of stones and thunderstorms that night, and a whispering voice he didn’t know how he knew. 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Castiel didn’t think any of the others knew what happened the night before. None of them regarded him with more suspicion than usual, at least. Sam gave Dean a calculating look every time he circled back to ride with Cas, or got him a plate of food, or helped him set up his tent. When Castiel asked, Dean shrugged carelessly and said that it was “just Sam being Sam,” and told him not to worry about it. 

They couldn’t sneak off together every night, for fear of arousing suspicion. They had to make do with stolen moments, of a quick grasp of hands, hasty kisses in the moonlight, lingering touches when they thought no one would notice. A week after their first clandestine meeting, though, Sam cornered Castiel under the pretense of needing Cas’ healing skills.

“He cares for you,” Sam said bluntly, the second everyone else was out of earshot. A nearby chicken pecked at the ground, hunting for worms.

“Dean?” 

“Of course Dean, who else?” Sam asked, rolling his eyes childishly. He stopped suddenly, turning to look Cas squarely in the face. His expression shifted from exasperation to seriousness so rapidly that Castiel knew at once what the beta wanted. 

“You don’t really have a splinter, do you?” he accused. 

“Uh. No, I don’t,” Sam said, with a small shuffle of his large feet.

“Then let me save you some time,” Castiel said, straightening his spine. “Despite what your uncle may think, I am not an Elysian spy. I am not here to learn all your secrets and report back to the redcoats about the uprising you mean to start.” 

“What uprising?” Sam interrupted, with unconvincing innocence. 

Cas fixed him with an unblinking stare. Sam wilted slightly under the scrutiny. 

“I thought you didn’t know any Lawrencian,” he said, more sulkily than suspiciously. 

“I don’t,” Castiel snapped. “But I’ve picked up enough to figure out what ‘long live the Stuart’ is. And that other phrase—it’s something along the lines of ‘fuck the sassenach king,’ I’d imagine.” 

“Close enough,” Sam mumbled, idly watching the chicken scratching at the dirt. 

Castiel glanced around surreptitiously. Most of the villagers were crowded around Cain or going about their own business. The blacksmith nearby was busing helping someone shoe their horse. There was only the softly clucking chicken to hear them.

“Sam—you can’t overthrow the Elysians. It won’t work.” 

“You don’t know that,” the beta replied, setting his jaw firmly. The action made him greatly resemble Dean.

“I do,” Cas protested. “I’m saying this as your friend, Sam, not as your enemy. You’re on the losing side of history.” 

“You’re wrong. You’ll see.” 

“I’m not. This is a fight you cannot win.” 

Sam scoffed. 

“Why would I lie?” 

“You’re Elysian. You say you’re not a spy, and I’m inclined to believe you. Honestly, it doesn’t make any sense for you to be one in the first place. But you’ll never understand what it’s like to be a Lawrencian. What it’s like to grow up in the Highlands. Or to be treated like scum by the country that oppresses yours.” 

They were all so quick to remind him, daily, that he didn’t belong here. So be it. Castiel still had to speak his mind. 

“Maybe not. But trust me when I tell you that it can and will get worse, when you lose.” 

If we lose,” Sam said stubbornly. 

“History will never record the name of another Stuart king, but it will record the names of thousands of highlanders who’ve died needlessly for a doomed cause.”

“History be damned.” 

Cas threw his hands up in the air in exasperation. 

“Oh, for fuck’s sake—How can someone so smart refuse to see what’s right in front of them?” he half-shouted. 

“I was about to ask you the same thing.” 

“Godsdamn highland pig-headed stubbornness,” Cas muttered, before saying aloud, “You say your brother cares about me. I feel the same way. Do you believe that?”

At once, Sam’s hazel eyes softened. 

“I do. Even without hearing you say it, I know it’s the truth,” he said. “I’ve seen the way you look at each other.” 

“Then will you believe me when I say that I don’t want Dean to die? That if I knew he were to be in harm’s way, I would do whatever I could to prevent it?” 

The only thing that surprised Castiel was how unsurprised he was at the truth in his voice.

“I believe you. But I—”

“Excuse me, sir?” 

Both Sam and Castiel jumped slightly. Neither had heard the skinny young beta approach, so engrossed were they in their own conversation.

“Fuck me,” Cas said under his breath. 

Either Sam didn’t hear him, or very tactfully pretended not to have heard. The younger beta had removed his coat, had rolled up his sleeves while shoeing his horse, but it was still plain as day that he was an Elysian soldier. 

“Sir, are you alright?” he asked, looking directly into Castiel’s face without even glancing at Sam. It was as though he weren’t even there.

“I…Yes. Thank you,” Castiel said, as sincerely as he could manage. He knew his scent must be going haywire at the moment, but he couldn’t help it. 

“Sir, I must ask: are you here of your own volition?”

The honest answer was “no.” Cas bit his tongue, trying to think of what to say. He caught a glimpse of Dean in the distance, standing atop a wagon as Benny handed him a sack of grain. 

“I am a guest of the Campbells,” Castiel said, turning his gaze back to the soldier. “But I thank you for your concern.” 

“Forgive me sir, but I can tell that you’re an Elysian, an omega, and unmated,” the soldier said. His voice, though slightly high, didn’t waver. “It is my duty to ensure that you are not being mistreated.” 

“I am a guest of the Campbells,” Castiel repeated stiffly. 

“Very well, then. I wish you good day,” the Elysian said. He shot a wary glance at Sam, then departed back towards the blacksmith. 

“You could have said we were holding you against your will. He would have taken you away with him,” Sam said quietly, still watching the Elysian soldier as he donned his red coat. 

Not bloody likely, Cas thought, considering the large number of Campbell clansmen nearby. 

“It’s no secret I want to go home,” Castiel said. “But do you really think I could leave without saying goodbye to Dean?” 

Sam fixed him with a shrewd expression. 

“No. And I don’t think Dean would let you go without a fight, either.” 

 


 

Perhaps it was the presence of a redcoat in their village earlier that day, but these highlanders were especially riled when it came time for Cain’s speech. The villagers openly voiced their distaste for Elysium, not even bothering to conceal their words in the Lawrencian tongue while Castiel was nearby. Thoroughly disgruntled, Cas made to get up before Cain’s grand finale. He didn’t think he could stand to see Dean exploited by his uncle tonight. But before he could stand, a strong hand gripped his wrist, stopping him. 

“You can’t leave now,” Benny hissed, just low enough for Castiel to hear.

“Let me go.” 

“No. They’re suspicious enough of us bringing a sassenach along as it is. What will it look like if you get up and leave in the middle of what Cain says?” 

“I daresay it will only increase his recruitment numbers,” Cas whispered back. “Let go.” 

“No.” 

Castiel stomped down as hard as he could on the alpha’s foot. Reflexively, Benny bared his teeth. Cas narrowed his eyes further, as if by glaring he really could bore holes in the man’s skull. Someone nearby growled, someone whose sharp, spicy scent spread a warning throughout the room. 

“A pheathar,” Cain said, voice low and dangerous. “Cuir stad. Bi samhach.”

Dean’s growl intensified. Unlike Benny’s gut reaction moments before, triggered by the pain in his foot, Dean’s teeth were bared in a grimace, lip pulled back to expose the fangs descending from his canines. 

“Dean. A Dhia, bràthair, seas!” 

Sam put out a hand, as though he were going to restrain Dean, but then thought better of it. Cas could smell Sam’s distress through the cloud of fury emanating from his older brother. Several people wrinkled their noses at the miasma of scents and emotions. 

Dean rose to his feet, hands clenched into fists, and stalked towards them. Benny dropped his grip on Cas’ wrist as suddenly as if it he had been burned. The hairs on Castiel’s neck stood up. His heart raced, but he was not afraid.  Cas got slowly to his feet. 

“Alpha,” he said, staring directly into Dean’s blazing eyes. 

The word triggered something in Dean’s brain. He reached out and pulled Castiel behind him, then snarled at Benny. The burly man lowered his eyes, and to Castiel’s immense surprise, bared his neck in deference to Dean. 

“Tha mi duilich, mo charaid,” he said. 

“Dean, leave the room. Cuiribh, a bràthair,” Sam said urgently. Dean was deaf to his brother’s pleas. 

Castiel tugged at Dean’s shirtsleeve. 

“Let’s go, alpha,” he murmured. 

Reluctantly, Dean let himself be lead away, up the stairs to the room the innkeeper had begrudgingly set aside for Castiel. Once inside, Cas made sure the latch was firmly in place before he turned around. 

“Dean?” he whispered. 

All the fury drained from the alpha’s face so quickly that for a moment, Cas was afraid Dean would faint. Instead, he sank onto the bed, elbows on knees, staring unseeing into the well-worn floorboards. Cautiously, Castiel sat on the bed next to him. He was close enough that Dean could reach out and touch him, if he liked, or pretend Cas wasn’t there, if he also liked. 

“I’m sorry,” Dean said. “I don’t know what came over me. I was just listening to Cain ranting, waiting for when he was going to make me show my scars again…and then I scented you. You were angry. You’re always angry when Cain does this, but it was something else. I looked up and I saw Benny touching you, and the next thing I knew, I saw red. I’m not entirely sure how we even got up here, I…” 

Cas put a hand on Dean’s shoulder. When it looked like Dean couldn’t get any more words out, Castiel said, gently, “I’m alright, Dean. Benny wasn't going to hurt me. He thought it would look bad if I walked off in the middle of Cain’s speech. He was probably right. But I didn’t want to watch Cain use you like that again. Not tonight.” 

“You’re not mad?” 

“No. I understand. But you probably owe Benny an apology.” 

“Yeah. Cain too. I probably messed up his whole evening,” Dean said. He took Castiel’s hand in his. 

“Not necessarily. I think he might be able to twist what happened in his favor,” Cas said wryly. 

Dean shot him a sidelong glance and a knowing smirk. 

“Yeah. Cain is good at that,” he said. “But hey, we both got what we wanted, at least.” 

“I suppose,” Cas agreed. The part of him that instinctively wanted to provide comfort was screaming in his head. His alpha still reeked of his earlier anger and jealousy. 

No, Castiel told himself. Dean is not your alpha. He is an alpha, he is your friend, and you acted reflexively. That’s it. 

But he could be your alpha, a voice whispered tauntingly inside his head. 

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Dean asked. 

“Yes.” 

“Then un-scrunch your face.” 

Castiel made a conscious effort to relax his features. He hadn’t realized how much his inner turmoil had showed. He wanted to sleep, to sink into oblivion and forget, if only for a few hours, the mess he was in, the complicated web he was unable to escape. 

“Come here and lie down,” Cas murmured. He guided Dean back onto the bed with him, and after a few seconds of shuffling, the pair settled comfortably on the pillows, face-to-face, their fingers entwined. 

“People will talk,” Dean whispered. 

“I think it’s too late for that.” 

Dean smiled sleepily. 

“Rest, alpha,” Cas said, absentmindedly stroking the raspy stubble on Dean’s cheek. He stared at the highlander, unabashed, memorizing every freckle, the shape of his lips, the wisps of gold in his dark lashes, until sleep pulled him under. For the first time in years, Castiel’s dreams were untroubled. 

 


 

Damn that motherfucking rooster was Cas’ first thought the next day. He had been warm and comfy, wherever he was, before that wretched bird crowed. Now he was, most regretfully, awake. His pillow smelled like cherry pie. Castiel stretched, or tried to. Someone’s arm tightened around his middle and attempted to pull him closer. The same person mumbled drowsily in Lawrencian. 

“Dean. We need to get up.” 

“I am up,” Dean grumbled, languidly rolling his hips against Castiel’s ass.

“That’s not what I meant,” he scolded, but the effect was somewhat lost as he smiled into the bedclothes and mimicked Dean’s motions. The alpha growled happily into Cas’ ear, sending shivers pleasantly down his spine. 

“You seem to be up as well,” Dean said casually, snaking his hand over the front of Castiel’s pants. 

“So I am,” Cas said. “Whatever shall we do about it?” 

“I have an idea,” Dean murmured, nipping gently at the back of Castiel’s neck. 

“I do hope it doesn’t involve clothes.” 

Dean chuckled, and deftly undid the laces of Castiel’s breeches with one hand. Cas sucked in a deep breath. The highlander rubbed him just enough to tease, just enough to make him wet and nearly whine for more. Castiel reached backwards, feeling blindly for the tartan fabric of Dean’s kilt. 

What a wondrous garment, Cas thought, as lifted the kilt away and the warmth of Dean’s bare skin met his own. Dean’s length slid neatly between Cas’ slick thighs, bumping gently against his balls. 

“You’re so warm.” 

Castiel wanted to say it was even warmer inside of him, but the teeny-tiny bit of his brain still capable of logical thought knew that this would be a bad idea. He contented himself instead with gently squeezing his thighs. Dean reacted automatically, just as Cas suspected he would. 

The faster Dean thrust, the looser his grip got around Cas’ cock, and while the friction between his legs and so close to his hole was nice, Castiel doubted that he could get off on it alone. He wrapped his hand over Dean’s, increasing the pressure. The alpha stroked him in time with the movements of his hips, harder and harder each time, desperate to bury himself deep inside. 

“I’m close,” Dean whispered shakily. “Should I…?”

Cas didn’t answer. He knew Dean was wondering if he should pull away. His inner omega demanded that if Dean couldn’t come inside of him, he would at least get to feel the warmth of his seed coating his thighs. Castiel batted Dean’s hand away impatiently and stripped his own cock furiously, one, two, three, four times, until he was moaning Dean’s name and spilling over his hand. Dean was quick to follow, biting down on Castiel’s shoulder hard enough to bruise. 

 


 

Castiel insisted that Dean go back down to the inn’s common room alone, even though everyone there would already know they had spent the night together. Cas meticulously wiped himself down as well as he could with the water from the wash basin. He sniffed himself, and while Cas didn’t think he smelled too much like Dean, he still wasn’t sure. He thought he could sense Dean's presence wherever he went these days. Castiel was confident, at the very least, that he didn’t stink of sex. 

He wasted a further ten minutes attempting futilely to flatten his hair. Cas had never been able to get it to lie flat up here in the highlands. Eventually he resigned himself to the fact that his hair would just look permanently windswept, no matter what he did. 

Castiel descended the stairs, wrapped as demurely as he could manage in a shawl over his shoulders. It was a distinctly omega style, which Cas thought was the least he could do for what remained of his modesty. Hell would freeze over before he willingly wore omega’s skirts. 

“Madainn mhath,” Sam greeted him, with no hint at all that the previous night’s events had transpired. 

“Good morning?” Cas guessed. 

Sam nodded, and offered him a bowl of porridge. Castiel took the seat across from him, trying to concentrate on his breakfast rather than the stares from the locals on the other side of the room. It was increasingly difficult, however, given that their conversation, while muttered in their own unintelligible tongue, was growing louder and louder. 

“About last night—” Castiel started. 

“Not here,” Sam interrupted quietly. He was frowning over his own bowl at the locals. 

“Sorry.” 

“Don’t be,” Sam quickly said, turning back to him. “It’s not your fault, Cas, I know that. We all do.” 

Cas glanced over at the adjoining table. Benny and Ash were positively glowering at the locals while Garth chatted away, completely oblivious to the tension in the room. Ash had even set down his mostly-full tankard of ale. 

“Are you sure about that?” Cas asked, voice soft, bordering on meek. 

“Yes,” Sam insisted. 

One of the locals called out a phrase in Castiel’s direction. Sam’s knuckles went white around his spoon. Garth gasped audibly. Castiel’s nose was assaulted with the unfortunate combination of overripe cherries, burnt pecans, stale candy, and soured hops. Ash shot to his feet so forcefully that if Benny hadn’t been seated, the bench would have toppled over. 

“Mallaichte bas,” Benny muttered, at the same time that Sam said, “Ifrinn!”

“What—?” Cas started, but he never got to finish the question. 

Ash punched the local alpha right in the nose. Blood spattered spectacularly across the table and into his neighbors’ bowls of porridge. With a roar, the man’s friend lept to his feet and attempted to tackle Ash to the ground. 

“Fucking hell!” Cas exclaimed. No one heard him over the din. 

Tables and chairs overturned, cups and bowls tumbled every which way, fists and curses flew. Garth was knocked to the ground the instant he joined the fight. Sam held his own with surprising skill for someone who spent most of his time poring over books and ledgers. Even Ed and Harry, small though they were, shrieked the Campbell war cry before leaping into the fray. 

Sassenach!” someone shouted. Cas turned about wildly, looking for whoever called out, wondering if it had been friend or foe.

“Castiel!” Benny cried, in between walloping a chair leg over another man’s shoulders. “Go get your alpha!” 

Cas didn’t hesitate. He sprinted over the debris on the floor, nearly slipping in a puddle of what he hoped was ale. Just as he reached the doorway, one of the locals blocked his path. 

“Fuck off,” Cas growled. 

The man sneered and made a grab at Castiel’s ass. Cas didn’t think, just swung his fist wildly. Miraculously, it connected with the man's throat, and he doubled over, coughing and retching. Cas pelted opened the door and collided painfully with a large mass of something solid. Someone caught him by the shoulders, and pushed Castiel back enough to look at his face. 

“Cas, what—?”

“Dean—they’re fighting—” Cas gasped. 

“Stay here,” Dean ordered, shoving Castiel aside and running inside the inn. For once, Cas obeyed, though he was half-tempted to run after Dean and make sure he wasn’t getting hurt. 

As it turned out, he needn’t have worried all that much. The racket quieted within a few minutes, and Cas poked his head cautiously around the door frame. He caught sight of the locals limping through the back door, supporting one of their barely conscious fellows between them. 

Garth sat up with a groan, nearly knocking his head on an upturned bench. 

“Is it over?” he asked dazedly, looking from one of his clansmen to the next. 

“Yeah, Garth. It’s over,” Dean said. 

In the end, Castiel had to wrap Ed’s ribs and Harry’s wrist, apply a cold compress to Garth’s forehead, slather salve over Ash’s split lip and over everyone’s knuckles. A purplish bruise was beginning to form over Sam’s cheek, but fortunately the bone didn’t feel fractured to Castiel. Though Benny winced slightly as he sat down, he said he was fine, and declined the examination that Castiel offered.

“I’ve never been a brawl before,” Cas remarked, blotting a small cut over Dean’s eye. “Though I suppose what I did doesn’t really count.” 

“Bull. I saw you punch a guy in the throat. That counts,” Ash said, taking a seat on Dean’s other side. He took an obscenely large gulp of ale. 

“He grabbed my ass,” Castiel said, shrugging. He saw Dean’s eyes narrow in anger and quickly tried to change the subject. “What were they saying, anyway?”

Ash hesitated. 

“They called you an uptight Elysian bitch,” he said. 

Dean’s growl was hastily stifled by Castiel’s hand on his arm. 

“And you started a fight over that? You insult me all the time,” Cas said, incredulous. 

“Yeah, well,” Benny interjected. “You’re a guest of the Campbell Clan.” 

“Yeah. We’re allowed to insult you,” Ash said, raising his mug in Castiel’s direction. 

Cas felt his face flush. He cleared his throat and finished dabbing ointment on Dean’s cut. 

“What would your sassenach family say to you fighting?” Dean teased, accepting a fresh mug of ale from Sam. 

“Gabriel—my cousin—would probably be disappointed that it took place while I was sober, and in broad daylight, to boot,” Cas answered, placing a finger under Dean’s chin and turning his head back towards the better light. He judged Dean's scrape to be fairly shallow, and not in need of stitches. 

“Is that the same cousin you told me about? He seems like an interesting man,” Sam said.  

“Gabriel? Oh, yes. I suppose he is,” Castiel mused. “Especially given that he’s a minister now.”  

Dean choked on his ale. 

 


 

As Castiel watched then clansmen pack, he saw them in a different light than he had in days previous. He wished he could tell them that this pie-in-the sky dream was just that: nothing but a dream. The highlanders would never unseat the Elysian king, but how could Cas tell them that, these proud, passionate men who lived and breathed for a flag of blue and white?

More than that, Cas felt he was beginning to know the rest of them as more than just the kilt-wearing strangers that had surrounded him for weeks. There was Sam, the lawyer, who smelled pleasantly and benignly of vanilla, with undertones of cherry that soured just as his brother’s scent did when he was upset. Sam had lost his mother when he was six months old, had lost his fiancée, but still had it in him to love and to treat others with compassion.  

Ash was shorter and smaller than the others, but had wicked accuracy when it came to throwing knives. The odd little man also had an affinity for highland ale of any variety. Castiel had initially confused the lingering alcoholic odor as one of the effects of this century’s habit of not bathing regularly. However, he now firmly believed that Ash would still smell of hops, even if he had soaked in soapy water for hours. 

Cheerful and lanky Garth was always there to lend an ear to the others, though more often than not he was the one who talked the others’ ears off. None of them seemed to mind too much. Garth smelled of fresh cotton candy when he was happiest, usually when he spoke of his sweetheart, Bess. The other Campbell clansmen had some kind of unspoken agreement to prevent Garth from drinking more than one mug of ale, as he got tipsier quicker than any alpha, beta, or omega that Castiel had ever met. 

The gruffest of the bunch, Benny, was just as Dean had described: rough around the edges, but certainly handy in a fight. He had a wholesome, rich scent, like caramelized pecans, which blossomed whenever he sang or joked. The burly alpha told more tall tales than the truth, yet no one minded. Castiel could see now how he was unswervingly loyal to his clan, and Dean in particular. Dean was fortunate to have Benny as a friend, even if said friend was occasionally brash and crude. 

“So there I am in bed,” Benny was saying, adjusting the straps on his horse’s saddle, “busty Bessie on my left and sweaty Nettie, the butcher's daughter, on my right. They get jealous of each other, start arguin' about who I'm goin' to swive first. Can you believe it?” 

“I believe your left hand gets jealous of your right,” Castiel said. “That's about all I believe.” 

The men grew silent. For a horrible moment, Cas thought he had put his foot in his mouth, but then Benny’s shocked expression broke into a broad grin. 

“You’re a witty one,” he said, laughing. The others joined in the laughter, and the tension broke.

Dean gave Castiel a quick kiss on the cheek before he helped him onto his horse. If anyone noticed, they didn’t comment. 

For the next several hours, the Campbell party rode merrily along, trading stories and jokes. At one point, they started singing something about a pretty omega who wanted to “get her corn ground.” Much to Dean’s embarrassment, Cas picked up the words quickly and sang along, even though he knew he absolutely butchered the Lawrencian phrases in the song’s chorus. 

When they stopped to make camp, Garth unbuckled one of Cas’ bags from his saddle for him, prattling happily about Bess and her family. Many of the men weren’t bothering with tents, as it looked to be a cloudless and fairly balmy night. No one blinked an eye when Dean took Castiel’s bedroll and unfurled it next to his. 

“Want a bannock, Cas?” Sam called from near the fire, holding out a loaf of the highland flatbread. 

“Later,” he said. “I think I’ll go to the river and wash first.” 

One of Cain’s men made to follow as Cas remounted his horse, but Cain shook his head. Castiel rode the short distance away, puzzled but gratified that the clan elder wasn’t having him followed. Maybe Cas could take off all his clothes and scrub himself down in the river, if he could stand the temperature of the water. Pity that Dean hadn’t joined him, Cas thought, reaching up to loosen his stock. He knelt and splashed water over his face and neck. Some of it trickled coolly down the front of his shirt, over the chain he wore and down his breastbone towards his navel. 

Just as Castiel decided that he would strip naked, he heard hoofbeats clopping in the springy heather behind him. He straightened up, heart thumping, expecting to see Dean ride down the hill. Cas’ breath hitched when his gaze met Cain’s pale eyes instead of Dean’s brilliantly green ones. 

“Are you a spy for the Elysians,” Cain called, dismounting in one swift motion, “or for the Arcadians?” 

“I’m not a spy,” Castiel answered, tonelessly. He was out of new ways to profess his innocence, past frustration, past even righteous indignation. 

“What are your intentions with my nephew?” Cain demanded, loping closer to the river bank. 

“Which one?” Cas asked, dryly. 

“You know which one I mean,” Cain snapped. 

“I don’t have any intentions,” Castiel said. “I enjoy his company. I care for him, as I think he does for me. Beyond that, I really couldn’t say.” 

And he couldn’t, could he? Castiel couldn’t explain to any of them that he was from the future, lest they think he were mad, or a witch, or worse. 

“Has he bedded you?” 

“No,” Castiel said. Cain raised a disbelieving eyebrow, so Cas added, “He hasn’t knotted me, if that’s what you’re asking.” 

Cain considered him for a moment. 

“I believe you.” 

“Good. Can I continue washing myself in peace now, or do you think I have an ulterior motive behind bathing as well as every other thing I do?” 

Cain’s retort was interrupted before the words were even out of his mouth. A thundering of hooves reached their ears, and the top of the hill was suddenly surrounded in the bright red uniforms of the Elysian army. Castiel counted no less than a dozen men, all mounted and armed. One of them dismounted and took a few cautious steps towards Castiel and Cain. 

“Good afternoon, sir,” the beta said. With a jolt, Cas recognized the sandy hair, blue eyes, and thin frame. It was the same soldier who had seen him in the village the day before. 

“Good afternoon,” Castiel replied. 

“My name is Samandriel Alfred,” the soldier said, one hand resting on the pommel of his sword. “I am a lieutenant in His Majesty’s army. I ask you, once again: Are you here of your own free will?” 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

LAWRENCIAN HIGHLANDS, FEBRUARY 1744

 

“Tell me, sir. Are you here of your own choice?”

Castiel pasted a polite smile on his face. 

“As I told you before, I appreciate your concern,” he said, “But I can assure you, I am a guest of the Campbell Clan.”

Lieutenant Samandriel Alfred glanced between Castiel and Cain. 

“As you wish. Nevertheless, I am sure my commander will wish to speak with you. He’s currently in residence at an inn nearby. Will you accompany me?” he asked, sweeping a skinny arm towards the horses atop the hill. 

Castiel nodded, and began to re-tie the stock around his throat. Whatever came next, he had a feeling he ought to at least try and look presentable. Cain stepped forward, one hand on the dirk strapped to his belt. 

“If he goes, I go.” 

“Very well,” Cas said. “After you, Lieutenant.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INVERNESS, FEBRUARY 1946

 

“Any luck, Charlie?” 

“Huh?” 

A mop of red hair popped up from the mess of haphazardly piles of books and stacks of yellowed paper. Charlie blinked owlishly and attempted to surreptitiously wipe her mouth. 

“Are you sure you don’t want a break?” Gabriel asked. He bit the inside of his cheek in an effort to not laugh. Charlie had a scrap of paper stuck to one cheek, though she seemed completely oblivious to its presence. 

“Nope. I’m good. Is that coffee?” 

“Yes,” Gabriel said, handing over the second steaming mug. 

Charlie slurped down half of the scalding liquid as though it were the antidote to the world’s deadliest poison. Then she sighed, a bit of color returned to her cheeks, and her eyes sparkled with newfound lucidity. Gabriel pushed away the thought of how very much she reminded him of his cousin. Castiel, too, typically needed a dose of caffeine to be fully alert in the mornings. 

“So, I’ve been going over anything I could find from the local Hall of Records, as well as Larry Ganem’s personal library, for anything at all from precisely two hundred and two years ago that might be relevant,” Charlie said, trying to make space amongst her clutter for the coffee cup. 

“Anything useful?” Gabriel asked. 

“Not so far.” 

Charlie yawned, and the scrap of paper fluttered to the desk. She narrowed her eyes at it, though Gabriel couldn’t tell if she were scowling at it in admonishment, or simply squinting to see what she had scribbled on it.

“I’m guessing whatever that was can’t have been too interesting,” Gabriel observed, pointing to the topmost photocopy from the stack Charlie had been using as a pillow. 

“This?” she asked, handing the copy over for Gabriel to see. “I mean, sort of, from an historical point of view. Not so much for our mission, though. It’s a complaint against a Captain Alistair Randall for brutalities against the Lawrencian people, addressed to his superior, Brigadier General Sir Nicholas…titles, titles, et cetera. But I don’t think the highlanders who petitioned the general must have known about his reputation, either, otherwise they wouldn’t have bothered.” 

“What reputation?” Gabriel asked, looking up from the document.

“Well, according to Mr. Ganem, his nickname was ‘Lucifer.’” 

“Hmm. Who made the petition?” Gabriel said, taking another sip of his own heavily-sweetened coffee.

“It’s hard to read all the names—looks like there’s some water damage—but I can tell you that the petition was submitted to the courts by someone named Samuel ban Campbell…uh…smudge…ends in an ‘r,’ maybe.”

“Long name.”  

“I’ve seen longer,” Charlie said, turning forlornly back to the remaining stack of papers. 

Gabriel perused the list of signatures, pausing now and then to try and decipher the two-hundred-year-old writing amidst the various smudges and water spots.

“Does that say ‘Ellen’ or ‘Eileen?’”

“No idea.”

“Who’s ‘S. Crowley?’ Wait, maybe that’s an ‘F.’ The one whose signature takes up twice the space the others do.” 

“I dunno. Some richy-rich lord or other,” Charlie said distractedly.

“Do you want some help with all this?” Gabriel asked.

“No, no,” Charlie said, waving him away. “I’m good. Go stop Balthazar from pacing a trench in the drawing room floor.” 

Gabriel left her to his research with a sinking feeling in his chest. Castiel had been gone for four months now. The likelihood of him returning seemed to lessen as each day passed. How much longer could they go on before they were forced to recognize defeat?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CARTHAGE VILLAGE, FEBRUARY 1744

 

Even though he wasn’t leaving by his own choice, Castiel still felt a heaviness leave him as they rode along. For the first time since Cas had passed through the stones at Craig Na Dun, he was surrounded by his own countrymen. Sure, they wore red coats, not fatigues, but these men were still part of the Elysian Army that Castiel had been a part of for six long years. Yes, a load had definitely been lifted from Cas’ shoulders. If only he could ignore the feeling he had that there was a thread hooked inside his chest, vainly trying to tug him in the opposite direction…and back to Dean. 

As they neared the inn, Castiel knew only too well what Cain was feeling. A Lawrencian village it might have been, and on Campbell land at that, but for Cain, it was now enemy territory. He was the outlander now. Castiel suppressed a smirk at the disdainful looks every Elysian soldier gave the clansman, all the way from the courtyard and up the stairs to the private dining room where a group of Elysian officers waited. 

The table was lavishly set, much finer than for an ordinary dinner at Castle Leoch. Every wineglass was a work of art in delicately-cut crystal. If Castiel guessed right, the plates had been rimmed in gold filigree. Each fork and knife had been polished to perfection, and the brightly white tablecloth looked to have been freshly pressed. And that was to say nothing of the display of mouth-watering food laid upon silver platters. Cas was hard-pressed not to gape openly at such an opulent display in a simple country inn.

“My lord,” Lieutenant Alfred said, “may I present Mr. Castiel Milton and—”

“Come in, come in. My, this is a happy surprise. It has been far too long since I last gazed upon a lovely Elysian rose.” 

A handsome, if slightly haughty-looking alpha gentleman in a powdered wig strode forward and placed a light, courteous kiss on the back of Castiel’s hand. The officer’s hand was recently manicured, and Cas fought to restrain the feeling of self-consciousness at his callouses, not to mention the well-travelled and borrowed clothing he wore.

“The lieutenant here says you have quite the story to tell,” the officer prompted him.

“I’m so grateful you’re willing to listen to it,” Castiel said, returning the man’s cordial smile with as much sincerity as he could muster.

“Nonsense. I love stories. I haven’t heard a good one since I first set foot on this blasted turf. You must be famished. Sit, please. I hope venison is to your liking. Only the best quality, I assure you.” 

“Thank you,” Cas said. He wondered for a moment that the officer was covertly scenting him as he pulled Castiel’s seat out for him. Then the man kept talking, and Cas lost his train of thought.

“I shot the beast myself. It’s a great country for hunting, I’ll give them that. The cheese is also surprisingly edible, and the claret is my own, bottled in ’35,” the officer said. “Now, Lieutenant Alfred. You were going to introduce me to this…noble Lawrencian gentleman?”

The lieutenant inclined his head. 

“My lord, may I present Cain Campbell, war chief of the Campbell Clan and brother to its laird.” 

Cain did nothing more than stand with his back ramrod-straight, eyeing the Elysians with a hawkish glare. 

“You have the honor of meeting Brigadier General Sir Nicholas Lord Morningstar, Knight of the Bath, and commanding officer of the northern Elysian Army.” 

“War chief, hmm? Well, you certainly look the part. How am I to address you, sir?” Morningstar asked, with a convincing show of gentility. 

“Campbell, if it pleases you, or Chief Campbell, if we’re being formal—which in matters of war and other quarrels, makes us counterparts to one another.” 

“Does it, now?” Morningstar said, eyebrows raised. “I do rather enjoy being a man in the field. If only my servants moved as quickly as my soldiers!” 

The other redcoats laughed sycophantically. 

“If I stay here long enough, perhaps I could become a laird. ‘Laird Morningstar,’ what you you all think? Only then I suppose I’d have to wear one of those dreadful woolen skirts. Oh—I’m told it’s a grave insult to ask a clansman what he wears underneath that thing—”

“It’s called a kilt, sir,” one of the men said. 

“I’m perfectly aware of what it’s called, Colonel.” 

Morningstar’s jovial tone had disappeared. A hush fell upon the table.

“So tell me…one ‘laird’ to another…” Morningstar let his words trail off suggestively, and he glanced up and down Cain’s lower half.

“Are you purposely trying to embarrass Castiel, or are you just an arrogant little shite?” Cain growled. 

“Good gods, man. Do you know to whom you speak?” one officer said, appalled. 

“You watch your words, sir, or I’ll have you—” Lieutenant Alfred started, hand once more on the pommel of his sword.

“Go on,” Cain goaded, dirk halfway out of its sheath. “You pull that needle. We’ll see who pricks who.” 

“Cain—Lieutenant—please. You’re behaving like pups,” Castiel said, hands out in a placating gesture. 

“Yes. Quite right. The omega’s sense of propriety puts us all to shame. The question of the kilt will remain an enigma,” Morningstar said, then fixed Castiel with an almost hungry light in his eyes. “My word, sir. If I were brave enough, I would commission you a colonel in one of my regiments. You do know how to order men about.” 

“Aye, he does that,” Cain agreed curtly. 

“Well, it's been a delight meeting you, but I am afraid the venison is losing its heat. I would ask you to join us, but as you can see, no room. Beastly sorry,” Morningstar said, not looking sorry in the least.

Cain scoffed. 

“You can keep your scraps. They're still serving good Lawrencian ale in the tap room. I'll be downstairs.”

The clansman stared Castiel dead in the eye, then said slowly and deliberately, “Tha an duine seo diabhal.

The walls shook as Cain slammed the door behind him. Cas could hear his boots stomping all the way down the stairs.

“What did he say?” someone asked. 

“I have no idea. The only Lawrencian word I know is ‘sassenach,’” Castiel said, directing his attention back to the table.

“Isn’t that what they call us Elysians?” another man asked.   

“Yes. I’m told it means ‘outlander’ or ‘foreigner,’” Castiel said. 

He hadn’t completely lied to the redcoats, but he also hadn’t completely told the truth. Cas had recognized one of the words, diabhal, though he couldn’t recall its meaning. Cain had clearly intended to send some kind of message, so Castiel decided to proceed cautiously.

“Dear, dear. How are we ever going to make peace with such an ill-mannered people?” Morningstar said. The other redcoats made noises of assent. 

As they ate, Castiel told a similar version of the story he had told Samuel Campbell back in November. (Was this his life now, he wondered—secrets and half-truths?) Cas thought it wouldn’t hurt to play to these gentlemen’s sympathies, so he conveniently left out the lie about being a widower. If the looks of sympathy and respect were any indication, Castiel’s gambit was successful. The brigadier general quickly proposed that Lieutenant Alfred escort Castiel back to Inverness the next morning, and Cas accepted the offer with alacrity.

“To homeward journeys,” Morningstar said, raising his glass. “May they be uneventful.”

“Hear, hear,” the men chorused.

But before Castiel could take a sip of the wine, the door burst open and a redcoat officer barged in the room. He was halfway up the table before Castiel caught the whiff of agitated alpha left in his wake.

“My lord, are you aware that at this very moment, the Campbell war chief is—”

“Are we under attack, sir?” Morningstar interrupted.   

“No, we are not,” the man said, in a nasally voice.  

“You're putting the claret at risk,” Morningstar scolded. He covered the top of his wineglass and held it away from the other alpha. Several of the men sniggered openly. “I suggest you step outside and rid yourself of half a league's worth of dust, Captain.” 

Castiel could only see the back of the man, but his uniform had noticeably seen more use compared to the starched, vividly-colored fabric of his fellows. For all Morningstar claimed to be a “man in the field,” his coat had likely seen more soirées than battles.

“By all means, we must protect the claret,” the officer sneered, just below the cusp of insubordination. 

He turned and began to storm out of the room, but froze in his tracks as soon as he saw Castiel at the foot of the table. Cas cursed inwardly; he should have recognized the man’s rancid scent the moment he entered the room. 

“Am I mistaken, or do you two know each other?” Morningstar inquired, his gaze bouncing from Castiel and the officer like he was watching a particularly enjoyable tennis match. 

“For a moment there, the omega did look familiar, but…I can now see that I was wrong,” said the officer, with oily politeness. 

“How strange. I remember you perfectly well, Captain Randall.” 

A match had been struck deep inside Castiel’s chest. The fire blazed to life, and before he knew it, the angry words were pouring out of his mouth as forcefully as an erupting volcano.

“Do you make a habit of forgetting every omega you try and assault in the woods, or just the ones you do succeed in violating?” 

Some of the men around the table gasped and murmured to one another. Dimly, Castiel was aware that his scent was spiking higher and higher. There was no doubt every man in the room could smell the acrid stench of burned honey. 

“I have since heard further tales of your exploits, sir, and I must say, I was horrified to learn about them,” Castiel said. He hadn’t raised his voice, but Cas’ words carried throughout the room as clearly as if he had shouted them. 

“Lies. All of them,” Alistair said.

“I’m sure Jessica Moore’s grieving fiancé would beg to differ,” Cas shot back. 

“What’s this?” Morningstar asked. He set down his wine and leaned forward to the edge of his seat. 

“My lord, this omega lies—you hear the way he speaks to alphas, he—”

“Would perhaps know better if he ‘had a real man, not a beta?’” Castiel interrupted, forming air quotes with his fingers. He dropped his hands onto the table and continued, heatedly, “That’s what you said to Mistress Moore, is it not? After you called her a bitch, and before you threatened to rape her right in front of the man she was going to marry.” 

Over in the corner, young Lieutenant Alfred scrunched up his nose. He had a pained expression on his pallid face, as though he were trying very hard not to vomit. Castiel made no effort to calm his scent. If anything, the effect it had on the room’s atmosphere only incensed him further.

“My lord—” 

“Be quiet, Randall,” Morningstar barked. “I want to hear this.” 

Alistair, thoroughly enraged, refused to listen. Spittle flew from his mouth as he spoke. 

“You would take the word of some upstart omega, one not even dressed properly—“

“And thank the stars I was not wearing omega’s skirts the day we met. I shudder to think what would have happened.”

Unlike his rapidly thumping heart, Castiel’s words were quite calm, all things considered. The room was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. Alistair’s next words rang through the room with awful clarity.

“You omega cunt—”

“That’s enough!” Morningstar shouted, rising to his feet. Several of his officers jumped in their seats. “Lieutenant, place Captain Randall into protective custody until I have had a chance to listen to Mr. Milton’s testimony.”

Alistair opened his mouth to protest, but Morningstar shot him a warning glare, and the alpha snapped his jaw shut. Lieutenant Alfred jumped at the chance to leave the room and escape the stink of Castiel’s ire. 

“The rest of you, get out,” Morningstar ordered. 

Once the room had cleared, the general snapped the door shut with far more grace than Cain had done earlier. His expression was politely concerned when he faced Castiel. 

“I do hope all this hasn’t upset you,” he said courteously, taking a seat next to Castiel. 

“I am grateful for your concern,” Castiel replied. “I suppose I still harbor some bad feelings regarding your captain.” 

“Perfectly understandable,” Morningstar murmured. He refilled Castiel’s glass, even though it was still mostly filled with wine.

Cas took a deep breath to steady himself before reaching for the wine. He was sorely tempted to drain his drink in one gulp, but resisted. As his pulse slowed and his scent settled back to normal, Castiel noticed, for the first time, the general’s own peculiar scent. Cas racked his brain to try and identify it, but he was loathe to inhale any more of it than he already had. It had an objectionable, cloying odor that clung in the depths of Castiel’s nose and in the back of his mouth. 

“I would be happy to personally escort you back to Inverness,” Morningstar said. “In the meantime, is there someone we ought to send word to ahead of us? Your husband, perhaps?” 

He looked up into Castiel’s eyes through his golden lashes.

“That won’t be necessary."

“But your ring—forgive me if I've overstepped—”

“I still wear it in my late husband’s memory.”

“I see. My condolences, then,” Morningstar simpered. He edged his chair a little closer to Castiel’s. “How terrible for you, to be alone in such a strange place.” 

“In truth, I have found the countryside most beautiful, my stay not altogether unpleasant, but my greatest wish now is to be reunited with my remaining family,” Castiel said, scrutinizing Morningstar’s face over then rim of his wineglass. 

“Of course, of course. I daresay, you’ve had enough of Lawrencia,” Morningstar said consolingly, but Castiel barely heard him. He looked down slowly, as though he didn’t really believe he would see the hand he felt creeping up his thigh. 

“What are you doing?” 

“Offering you my protection,” Morningstar said, eyes wide with false innocence. 

“By forcing yourself on me?” Castiel asked, jumping up from his chair. His glass fell over with a resounding thunk, and the pristine white linen tablecloth stained with the wine’s blood-red hue.

“Castiel, see reason. If you’re bonded to me—or at the least covered in my scent—no one would dare harm you,” Morningstar said, getting to his feet.

Castiel backed away a few paces. 

“You bloody snake,” he spat. “You’re insane. Fucking mad.” 

Morningstar’s eyes narrowed. Any handsomeness to his features disappeared so abruptly, they might have never been there.

“I see Alistair was right. You do have the language of a whore,” he said.

Cas’ heart skipped a beat. He felt like he had been forced to swallow an ice cube whole. 

An diabhal, Castiel remembered now. The devil. This man is the devil.

“You knew. This whole time…You knew.” 

Morningstar smirked. 

“I didn’t know it was you, specifically, until I saw the way Alistair looked at you. See, he enjoys the occasional omega, but he prefers alphas. More of a challenge, he says. I, on the other hand...Well, I've had plenty of betas, to be sure, but…I absolutely revere the sweet taste of omega.” 

As if to emphasize his point, Morningstar dipped a finger into the puddle of Castiel’s partially-drunk wine. His pink tongue darted out, quick as a lizard, and Morningstar lapped up the burgundy bead of liquid from his fingertip. Sweat prickled uncomfortably under Castiel’s arms. He could sense his scent amplifying again.

“I’m not so sweet. Or didn’t that bastard Alistair tell you how I broke his nose?” 

Morningstar’s answering smile was sickening. He stepped a little closer. 

“He claimed it was a clansman, but that’s no matter now. You’ll still feel sweet when I have you on your knees.” 

Castiel didn’t realize he had been backing away until he bumped against the wall. The hairs on his arms and the back of his neck stood up. An invisible current thrummed beneath his skin. 

“I’ll die first, you twisted motherfucker,” Cas said in a half-whisper, but he kept his chin held high. 

Morningstar tsked and shook his head. The tension in the room was so thick, Cas would have needed a surgical saw to cut through it.

“You misunderstand, Castiel. I don’t intend to force myself on you. But you’ll submit to me all the same. Omega, beta—doesn't matter. They always say yes, in the end.” 

“That will never happen.” 

The general chuckled, but before he could step any closer, the door banged open. For the first time, Castiel was grateful to see the stony, whiskered face of Cain Campbell. His greyed hair bristled with static electricity. Cain’s gaze flicked from Morningstar to Cas. His nose wrinkled at the pungent bouquet of anger and distress emanating from Castiel.

“Right. Time to leave,” Cain said, striding purposely forward.  

“No, I don’t think so,” Morningstar replied in a mild tone. Cain swelled with fury.

“Castiel is the guest of my clan. He is under my protection, and he is leaving with me. Now.” 

“Very well. You may leave,” Morningstar said, after a moment’s consideration. “But you will deliver Castiel to Fort William for questioning before sundown tomorrow. He is an Elysian subject, after all, even if he is ‘under your protection.’” 

Cain nodded tersely.

“Come on, lad,” he said. They got as far as the door frame when Morningstar spoke again, halting them.

“Campbell. You will make sure that whichever alpha brute scent-marked Castiel will not interfere tomorrow. Do you understand?” 

Cain glared at the Elysian beneath his charcoal brows. 

“I understand,” he growled.

“Oh, and Castiel?” Morningstar added, smiling placidly. When you see our Sammy again, tell him I say ‘hello.’”

Morningstar winked. Castiel’s blood went cold. Cain pulled him hastily from the room without another word. 

 


 

“Why are we stopping?” Castiel asked. 

“Water,” Cain grunted. “This way.” 

He led Castiel down a narrow path with a steep incline between a couple of gigantic boulders. Castiel emerged from the trail to find a small, clear stream, surrounded on all sides by pebbles in varying sizes. Cain stooped and guzzled the water. Castiel knelt to copy him, and nearly gagged. 

“Aye, the stench isn’t so pleasant, but it’ll wet your whistle.” 

Castiel shrugged. If the sulphur-smelling water hadn’t killed the clansman, it wouldn’t harm him. Cas cupped his hands and drank from the spring. The water was at least cool, even if it had a foul flavor. 

“Awfully out of the way for a drink of water,” he commented, standing up. 

“Are you a spy for the Elysians, or the Arcadians?” Cain asked, completely ignoring what Castiel had just said. 

“How many bloody times do I have to tell you—I’m not a spy,” Cas half-shouted. “I’m just plain Castiel Milton. That’s all.” 

“Alright then. I believe you.” 

“What?” Castiel asked, incredulous.

Cain gestured to the stream. “They call this St. Veritas’ spring.” 

“What does this have to do with anything?”

“No one may drink from it and tell a lie, lest they burn from the inside out.” 

Castiel clenched his hands into fists to stop them from trembling with frustration.

“Why do this now? Why didn’t you take me here the minute you found me?”

“Because now, I’ve a vested interest in you, or your healing skills, at least,” Cain explained.

“Does that mean you won’t hand me over to the general?” 

“Lucifer, you mean?” Cain said. He considered Castiel shrewdly before he answered. “An Elysian officer, no matter how high their rank, cannot compel a Lawrencian, nor hold them without proof a crime has been committed.” 

“You‘ve been talking with Sam.” 

“I thought it might come to this. I can only legally refuse to hand you over if we change you from an Elysian to a Lawrencian.” 

“Change? But how—?” 

“Marriage.” 

Castiel balked.

“No. No way. I can’t.” 

“Would you rather go to an Elysian prison? Or be Lucifer’s plaything?” 

“No, of course not,” he said. “So…am I to marry you?” 

“Gods, no. I think my nephew would sooner tear out my throat than let anyone else wed and bed you.” 

“Dean?” Cas asked. He suddenly felt very small.

“Dean,” Cain agreed. 

 


 

 

Castiel sat on a log at the edge of a heather-filled clearing, lost in thought. This was it, then. He could submit himself to the aptly-nicknamed Lucifer, and likely die. He could make a run for Craig Na Dun, despite having no idea where he was or where it was. Or Cas could stay here, and accept the protection of the alpha who had just sat down next to him.

“Cain wants us to be married.”

“I know. He told me,” Dean said.

“And you’re willing?” 

“Well, you’ve patched me up more than once. I kinda owe you for all that. Besides, what kind of friend would I be if I left you to Lucifer’s mercy?” Dean said, nudging Castiel’s shoulder with his. Cas ignored the way his heart fluttered pleasantly at the brief contact.

“Don’t you…mind? I mean, surely there’s someone…else…you’d like to marry.” 

Dean pursed his lips. 

“I might have thought so, once. Then I met you. I don’t want that dick Lucifer have his way with you, and I trust Sam, no matter how crazy his plan might seem. And if you’re going to marry any of us, I’d prefer it were me.” 

Was it possible for Castiel’s heart to lift and sink all at once?

“So that’s it then,” Cas said. “As far as you’re concerned, we can just start the honeymoon tomorrow?”

“If you want.” Dean shrugged. 

Castiel changed tactics. If he could only dissuade Dean from marrying him, he might be able to convince the alpha to take him to Inverness, and Castiel was fairly confident he could find his way back to Craig Na Dun from there.

“I probably can’t have pups,” Cas said. 

Dean shrugged again. “I never thought I’d have them, anyway.” 

Damn. 

“And it—Doesn’t it bother you that I’m not a virgin?” Castiel asked, crossing his fingers under his cloak.

“I know you were married, Cas.” 

“But if I told you about everyone else I’d ever been with?” 

He hadn’t seemed to mind, that night in the woods, or back at the inn, but maybe—

“No,” Dean said. “I’m not bothered. I mean, so long as it doesn’t bother you that I’ve never been with another man before.”   

Castiel gaped at him. 

“Figure at least one of us should know what they’re doing,” Dean said, getting to his feet. 

“Right,” Cas said weakly. He got up and followed Dean back to where the other clansmen were waiting.

Benny was telling another one of his stories, though Cas didn’t hear a word of it. He snatched the flask out of Ash’s hands, twisted off the cap, and tilted it back. Whiskey ran down Cas’ throat into his belly, warming him for the first time in hours. He would need a lot more than half a glass of wine if he were to muster the courage he needed for what was yet to come.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

THEN

 

ELYSIUM, 1936

 

“Baz! I got in, look!” 

Castiel ran into their sitting room, proudly brandishing his acceptance letter before him.

“That’s wonderful! I’m so happy for you, Cassie. See, I told you they’d be daft not to accept someone with brains like yours, omega or no.” 

Balthazar pulled Castiel down onto the couch next to him, close enough that Cas was practically sitting on the beta’s lap. He didn’t mind, though. Baz had always been affectionate, and at the moment, Castiel was so elated he doubted he would notice if a bomb went off in the apartment next door. 

“They were ‘daft,’ as you put it, when they wouldn’t accept me just because I wasn’t married,” Cas said, more out of his habit to be contrary than anything else. He traced a finger along the lines of the letter. Each time he saw the words of acceptance, his heart soared. No longer would he be doomed to be a “kept omega” for the rest of his life, even if Baz would never have expected that of him. 

“Never mind that now. Tonight, we celebrate,” Balthazar declared. “A new chapter in our lives. University for you, a foreign mistress for me. Maybe I’ll get around to having a ménage a—what’s Arcadian for twelve?”

“Assbutt.” 

“No, I don’t think that’s it,” said Balthazar, with mock sincerity.  

“Le mot c’est ‘douze,’ mon ami sauvage,” Cas replied, with a perfunctory roll of his eyes. 

“What will I ever do without you, Cassie?” Balthazar asked, pressing a chaste kiss to Castiel’s forehead. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOW

 

LAWRENCIAN HIGHLANDS, 1744

 

 

 

MORNING

 

“Tell him,” Cain ordered. 

Dean heard the straw behind him rustle as Sam shuffled his feet. 

“The marriage has to be consummated.” 

“I figured,” Dean said. He kept running the brush through Baby’s mane, refusing to look at his brother or their uncle. 

“Not just that. A mating would be the strongest claim—you and Cas would have more rights than—”

“I’m not going to force him to be my mate,” Dean interrupted. His hand gripped the brush a little tighter. Baby gave a small whuff of protest, and Dean gentled his strokes.

“I’m not saying force him. I’m just pointing out that it’s a lot harder to break a mating bond than it is a marriage,” Sam said. Dean wondered briefly if he was keeping his tone calm to not spook the horse, or to not spook Dean.

“Cas wasn’t mated to his first husband. I won’t make him mate with me,” Dean said. He ran his free hand soothingly against Baby’s neck, just the way she liked best.

“What if he does want to?”

“Then that’s between me and him, Sammy,” Dean replied. He turned his back under the guise of setting the brush aside, taking a deep breath to steady himself and his scent.

“None of that matters now,” Cain interjected. “You both need to be legally wed if we’re to keep Castiel out of Lucifer’s grip. So we wed you. And you bed him. There can't be any secret agreements between you, saying you have when you haven't. You must bed him.” 

Dean turned, raising an eyebrow with suspicion.

“I thought you didn’t hold with rape.” 

Cain crossed his arms. 

“I don’t. Castiel isn’t stupid, balach. He knows you’ll have to knot him for it to be official.” 

Dean felt his eyes widen. His pulse quickened. Sam’s nose twitched involuntarily as the smell of cinnamon spice increased within the close confines of the stable.

“Wait, hold up—No one said anything about that. I mean, sex is one thing, but knotting?” Dean said. 

Panic and excitement rose inside his chest, warring with each other. Dean was by no means a virgin, but he’d never knotted any of his partners before, not even during a rut. And Cas had said that his first husband had been a beta. So much for at least one of them knowing what the hell they were doing.

“You’re an alpha and Cas is an omega,” Sam explained patiently. “The law says you have to knot him for the marriage to be officially consummated.” 

“Fucking hell,” Dean said.

“What?” Sam said, hazel eyes blinking confusedly.

“I dunno. Cas says it a lot,” Dean said defensively. He cleared his throat, then set his jaw firmly, faking a courage he didn’t have. “Alright, fine. But I’m not knotting him without clearing it with Cas first. And none of you sons of bitches better be hanging around the door, trying to listen.”

Cain nodded shortly. “Done.” 

“Okay then. I’ll be back before the wedding,” Sam said, smiling in satisfaction. Dean took a half-step in his direction. 

“Wait, where are you going?” 

“Cas asked us to find him something nice to wear, but I’m guessing his definition of ‘presentable’ is very different from Ash’s.” 

Sam winced a little as he spoke, no doubt imagining the very possible worst of what Ash could come up with. “Respectable” wasn’t exactly Ash’s forte, though dogged determination, infinite resourcefulness, and the extraordinary ability to hold far more liquor than a normal person of his size were.

“You should go make yourself presentable too, laddie,” Cain said, casting an appraising eye over Dean’s form before he stalked outside. 

Dean looked down at the grass stains on his knees, the streaks of mud on his boots, and the smudges of some unidentifiable orangish residue on one of his shirtsleeves. Clean clothes, then. He could do that. And shave too, he thought, scratching the underside of his prickly jaw. Dean was no slob, but it had been a good while since he’d bothered to clean up properly. He raised an arm and stuck his nose in his armpit, only to hastily jerk his head back. A bath was probably a good idea.

After a quick pat to Baby’s nose, Dean fled the stable, mentally debating if he ought to ask Benny for advice. The thought of knotting Castiel sent spirals of heat rushing to Dean’s groin and tendrils of anticipation to his chest. He left behind more than just a trace of warm cinnamon and sugared cherries in his wake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AFTERNOON

 

“Are you ready, Cas?”

The truthful answer was a steadfast “no,” if his fluttering stomach was anything to go by.

“Go ahead,” he said. 

Castiel fixed his eyes upon a water stain in the ceiling. If he tilted his head, the brown splotch almost looked like a kidney. Cas squinted, and the blobby shape resembled something closer to an ovary. 

“Ifrinn.” 

“Everything alright down there?” Castiel asked. He gave up trying to identify the precise shape of the water stain, but still kept his eyes averted. 

“Yup. Almost got it. I think.” 

“Do you need help?” he asked patiently. 

“No,” came the response, too quick to be truthful.

“Are you sure you know how to—” Cas started, but was interrupted almost immediately.

“I know what I’m doing.” 

Castiel sincerely doubted the accuracy of that statement, but he held his tongue. Instead, he repressed a sigh and began to try and recite the alphabet backwards in his head. Cas got as far as “P” before the whispering movement of cloth and muttered Lawrencian curses distracted him.

“I don’t think it’s in.” 

“It’s not in,” Castiel agreed.

“Are you sure?”

“Pretty damn sure I would know if it was in.”

The silken fabric rustled. Castiel felt a small pinch. 

“Is it in now?” 

Cas batted the long fingers away and took matters into his own hands.

“Just—let me—motherfucker—”

He carefully adjusted the shaft, aligning it just so, until it slid neatly home. 

“There. See, that wasn’t so hard,” Castiel said. “It’s just a godsdamn brooch, after all.” 

“Sorry. It’s just so old,” Sam apologized. 

He took a step back, scrutinizing Castiel’s appearance, and then nodded in satisfaction. 

“Go on, take a look.” Sam angled the frame of the full-length mirror, then made a face at the dust now covering his hand.

Castiel gasped. The man staring back at him had his blue eyes and slightly chapped pink lips, but the dark hair had for once been successfully combed into submission. His cheeks were smooth, though Castiel knew his face wouldn’t remain stubble-free for more than a few hours. Once again, Castiel barely recognized his own reflection. This time, however, he could see his true self beneath the grooming and fancy clothing.

“Where did you even get these?” Castiel asked, running a hand over the ivory fabric of his new robes. Someone had painstakingly embroidered a pattern of leafy vines on it in shimmering, silvery thread. 

“Ash found them,” Sam replied. “He has a knack for finding things no one else can.”

“Found them where, exactly?” 

“Um. A brothel, I think. But they’ve never been worn before, I know that.” 

Cas nodded, turning back to study his reflection again. The garment was surprisingly masculine for omega’s robes. Unlike other ensembles, this one was split into two pieces. The top was similar to a gentleman’s frock coat, extending with straight lines down past Castiel’s knees instead of flaring out like a skirt. Underneath, he wore a pair of slim black trousers, cream-colored stockings, and shiny silver slippers that Castiel knew would turn grey the minute he stepped outside into the dirt.

A delicate scrap of fine lace completed the outfit, draping around his neck and tucked into the front of his robes like a kerchief. Castiel supposed that the robes had purposely been designed to wear without a stock in order to modestly reveal the omega’s mating bite. Cas eyed the reflection of his own unblemished neck with a grimace, but he had to admit that the clansmen had surpassed his request to find something presentable for him to wear. So much for last night’s hopeless, hapless, drunken plan to get of the wedding because he didn’t have the right clothes.

“Do you not like the robes?” Sam asked, brows pinched in concern. 

“What? Oh, no, I do like them. Very much. Please thank Ash for me,” Castiel said sincerely, then quickly thought of a plausible lie for having frowned. “I was just thinking of the atrocious set of robes I was forced to wear at my first wedding. My mother-in-law said I looked like an angel, but I felt like a pup playing dress-up.” 

Sam smiled. “Then I’m glad you like these better. And again, sorry about the brooch.” 

“It’s quite alright.” 

The silver brooch had tarnished slightly around the edges, but the motto inscribed upon it was still legible. 

“Non timebo mala. ‘I shall fear no evil,’” Castiel said, watching the metal’s reflection shine in the mirror. “This is your family crest, isn’t it?” 

“Yeah. That belonged to our father, and his father, and so on,” Sam said, gesturing towards the brooch. Cas glanced down, noticing that the flaming pentagram was the same design as Dean’s tattoo. That must have been why Dean had kept his chest covered whenever Cain made him reveal the scars on his back. If anyone saw the family crest, they might know Dean’s real surname.

A knock interrupted Castiel’s thoughts. Garth’s chipper voice floated through the wooden door. It was time. Castiel straightened his spine, took a deep, steadying breath, then followed Sam out the door and down the steps to meet his fate.

 

 


 

 

Years of performing life-saving surgeries while gunfire and distant explosions shook the tent around him had taught Castiel how to calm himself in even the most dire of situations. He could clamp an artery while shells ruptured mere miles away, inject morphine and penicillin with steady hands while soldiers screamed nearby. There wasn’t much these days that could shatter the blanket of serenity Castiel wrapped himself in during times of stress. Not the wailing of frightened pups, nor the putrid stench of gangrened flesh, nor even the unnerving sensation of being covered in someone else’s drying blood could burst his peaceful protective bubble. However, Sam’s nervous rambling while Castiel attempted to calm his mind now threatened to tip him over the edge.

Castiel only half-listened as Sam escorted him towards the parish church, with Garth and Ash trailing behind them like ducklings. The setting sun cast a romantic glow on the quaint little village. In any other situation, Castiel would have longed for a camera to photograph its charming, rustic beauty. It would have made an excellent edition to the photo albums he had made while traveling with his uncle on his expeditions. Cas had taken fewer and fewer pictures once he had become an army surgeon. At first, there had been little time. Then Castiel had lost the desire to preserve the events of his life on film. If he had a camera now, Cas wondered, would he want to capture these moments? 

“The priest is away performing a baptism,” Sam was saying, “and we couldn’t find another one on such short notice, so I’m officiating. Men of Letters are allowed to perform marriages under certain circumstances.” 

“And this is one of them?” Castiel asked, surprised into participating in Sam’s predominately one-sided conversation.

“More or less. Dean’s getting near his rut, for one, so there’s a precedent for that,” Sam explained, eyes steadily on the path in front of them.

“Wait, he is?” 

Cas stopped in his tracks. He heard an oof! as Garth and Ash bumped into each other. The air became stale, and it took a moment for Castiel to realize it was because of his own scent. Fortunately, Sam was an exceedingly tactful and sympathetic individual.

“Yeah. That’s probably why he was acting so protectively of you the last few days,” Sam said. “But you don’t have to worry, Cas. Dean has plenty of experience managing his ruts on his own. He’d never force you to lie with him.” 

The musty taste of old, crystallized honey evaporated as Sam’s soothing vanilla scent overpowered it. Cas took a deep breath. For a beta, Sam was surprisingly intuitive to the nuances of scent pheromones. 

“I know,” Castiel said. He had only known Dean for a few short months, but he never thought for a moment that Dean might attempt to violate him. Alpha or not, Dean’s desire didn’t bother Castiel. It was his own that did.

“What are the other reasons?” Cas asked. He forced his legs to keep moving. “For you being allowed to perform the ceremony, I mean.” 

“Well, the exact same reason you and Dean are getting married in the first place. For protection. Cain can attest if need be that you’ve been threatened and are in danger of being harmed by another alpha.” 

Sam’s tone had returned to a professional neutrality, which was infinitely more reassuring than Castiel had expected. This was no more than a business transaction of a sort, wasn’t it? Cas resolutely ignored the little voice in his head that disagreed.

“But won’t Lucifer have thought of this?” he asked, desperate to keep his mind on topic.  

Sam shook his head. “He wouldn’t have let you leave, if he had. Besides, it’s part of Lawrencian law. It doesn’t apply anywhere else in the Elysian Empire besides here.” 

“I see.” 

They rounded a bend in the dirt path and the spire of the stone church came into view. Cas’ breath picked up, and he dug the nails of one hand into his palm to prevent his scent from spiking with nerves. 

“Don’t do that,” Sam said quietly. “Try and mask your scent, I mean. You’re very good at it—I wouldn’t have even noticed you were doing it if we hadn’t been traveling together for the last two months. But don’t do it now. Let Dean scent you. It’ll calm him down.” 

Castiel relaxed his fist with a conscious effort, and let his scent settle naturally. When he laid eyes on Dean, standing tall and proud in full highland regalia, Cas’ scent bloomed so powerfully that clansmen twenty feet away turned their heads. 

Dean was always beautiful. He was even more so now, with the golden sunset highlighting the dusting of freckles across his nose, the sharp line of his jaw, the swell of muscles under the sleeves of his coat, the slight bow of his legs beneath his navy and evergreen kilt. Most breathtaking of all were his eyes. They were dazzling under ordinary circumstances, but now, against the backdrop of the Lawrencian countryside, they were indescribable. Castiel felt as though he could see right into the depth of Dean’s soul. 

He didn’t realize that he had approached Dean so closely until the aroma of baked cinnamon and cherry flooded Castiel’s senses. Cas continued to stare at Dean while someone—Sam, probably—removed the cloak from around his shoulders. Dean gasped, took half a step backwards, then a step closer. His fingers twitched, like he wanted to reach out and pull Castiel closer to him.

“Aingeal,” Dean murmured. “Tha thu aingeal.” 

Someone snickered in the background. Dean didn’t seem to hear it. He just kept gazing back at Castiel like he was staring into the eyes of heaven itself. 

“I can’t marry you,” Cas blurted out. 

Dean’s emerald eyes widened from reverence into shock. His whole body tensed.

“I don’t even know your real name,” Cas said. 

Immediately, Dean’s body relaxed. He grinned widely, and spoke slowly and carefully so that Cas could hear every word.

“It’s Winchester,” he said. “Dean Henry Michael Campbell Winchester.”

“Castiel James Milton.” 

Cas stuck his hand out automatically for Dean to shake. Instead, Dean clasped his hand and drew it upwards to place a tender kiss on Castiel’s knuckles. Cas’ heart thudded. The sweet aroma of mint surged, surpassing Castiel’s primary honey scent. Dean’s smile never wavered. If anything, Cas’ scent made it brighten.

“Shall we, then?” a brusque voice interrupted. 

Cain made to lead Castiel away. Someone growled, low in their throat, and the alpha released his grip on Castiel’s elbow, jumping back as if he’d been electrocuted. Dean squeezed Cas’ hand lightly, and the rumbling ceased suddenly as Castiel realized that it had been him, not Dean, who had growled. 

“Are you ready, Cas?” 

The truthful answer was a steadfast “yes,” if his fluttering stomach was anything to go by.

“Go ahead,” he said.

Castiel straightened his spine once more, and took in a deep, steadying breath. He held tight to Dean’s hand as they followed Sam up the church steps, and went to meet their fate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EVENING

 

Dean couldn’t tear his eyes away from the bob of Castiel’s throat as he tossed back a glass of whiskey. The sight unwittingly reminded Dean of how skillfully Cas had once taken him into his mouth and brought him to orgasm in an embarrassingly short time. Cas refilled his glass with practiced ease and tossed back his drink for a second time, before Dean had hardly even sipped at his. Their hands met on the neck of the decanter. 

“Cas…you know I’m not going to suddenly force myself on you, right?” 

The omega nodded stiffly, but he let go of the whiskey. Dean took pity on the look of uncertainty in Cas’ eyes, and splashed more liquid into his glass. Cas took a small sip, looking every bit as though he wanted to stick his head inside a barrel of the stuff and gulp it all up until he blacked out or drowned, whichever came first. For the first time since they had met, Castiel seemed nervous.

“Come sit with me?” Dean asked, stepping towards the bed. He sat down on the edge, carefully making sure that the bulge of his cock didn’t show through his kilt. He’d been half-hard ever since he’d seen Cas outside the church, sun shining behind him like a halo and his cloak flowing behind him like a set of feathery black wings.

Castiel sat down gingerly, taking another sip of whiskey. The silver band of Mary Winchester’s wedding ring gleamed on the fourth finger of his right hand. Dean wondered how much Benny had paid the blacksmith to resize it in such a hurry. The man had done an excellent job; the braided metal band fit as though Castiel had always worn it.

A lock of dark hair had fallen onto Cas’ forehead. Whatever had been done to comb it into place earlier was quickly losing effect. Dean brushed the stray hairs back gently. The omega’s eyes fluttered shut, then open again, at the soft caress of Dean’s fingertips near his skin. Gods, but his eyes were blue. Dean leaned forward. He knew what those lips felt like against his. He wanted to feel them again. 

“Tell me about your family,” Cas said abruptly, in the moment just before their lips met. Dean blinked, but recovered quickly. 

“What do you want to know?” he asked, amiably. 

Be patient, he told himself. You didn’t really think he’d bend over and present to you right away, did you? 

Dean’s dick twitched eagerly at the thought. Thankfully, Cas didn’t seem to notice. 

“Everything. Anything,” Cas said, managing to look both eager and filled with trepidation at the same time. 

The more Dean talked, the more Castiel’s scent relaxed. Dean didn’t know how much of a storyteller he was, but Cas was an excellent audience. Castiel made sympathetic noises when Dean explained how his mother had died when he was a pup, laughed when Dean told him about the time he and Sam jumped off the roof into a haystack below, sending the carefully piled hay every which way. He listened earnestly as Dean told him of how he got his horse, how his mother had made the best pies in all of Lawrencia, and of his childhood home, Tùr na Beinne Geala.

“It means ‘white mountain tower,’ though it isn’t actually in the mountains. You can see them from the the house, though. My great-great-something-grandfather brought back these white stones from a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands—Lebanon, I think it was—and that’s how the house got its name,” Dean explained. 

Cas was fascinated by his descriptions, from the tower that doubled as an observatory, to the hidden underground level bigger than the house itself, and even the nearby pond where Dean had learned how to fish. 

“I’d love to see it someday,” Cas said. The heartfelt way he said it made Dean’s chest swell with happiness. 

“I’d like that too, Cas,” Dean said. “But what about you? Where did you grow up?” 

Castiel’s frown was so fleeting that Dean nearly missed it. At some point during their conversation, they’d held hands, and Dean rubbed his thumb against Cas’ in silent reassurance. 

“Oh, all over the place, really. I had a rather unusual childhood.” 

“Tell me about it?” Dean requested. 

Castiel bit his lip, lost in thought.

“Cas…I know there might be things you can’t tell me. I get that. I won’t ask you about them, or pressure you. But when you do tell me something…tell me the truth. We’re married. There’s nothing between us now but respect, and respect has room for secrets, I think—but not for lies. Promise me that, and I’ll give you the same.” 

An unreadable expression flickered within the depths of Cas’ eyes. He took a deep breath, then began to speak, slowly and hesitantly at first, then quicker as Dean hung onto his every word.

“My parents were James and Anna Milton. They died when I was very young. I was raised by my uncle. He was a historian, and I travelled all over the world with him for his work. His name was Charles, but everyone called him Chuck. He was the youngest of my father’s two siblings, and he never married or mated, or had children of his own. We all knew, of course, that I was an omega, but I was what you might call a ‘late bloomer.’ I was fourteen the first time I went into heat. Chuck panicked and thought I was dying—he was a beta, you see, and both my father and my aunt Amara were alphas. I didn’t know any better either. After that, Chuck sent me to stay with my grandmother whenever my cycle was near. She was an omega too, though her change of life had happened many years earlier. It was then that I decided I wanted to become a physician, to help people who needed it most. I never wanted anyone to go through the feeling that they were dying, like I had done—though of course, it’s actually very rare for someone to die during a heat or a rut.” 

Castiel explained how he had married young, how he and his first husband had been friends for many years, and how the beta had proposed their union solely so Cas could study medicine despite his gender status. 

“I still got funny looks—I still do, sometimes—but with Balthazar’s wedding ring on my finger, I was free to pursue my career in a way I wouldn’t have been if I were single.” 

Dean asked questions about Cas’ patients, morbidly fascinated with the gruesome injuries and strange maladies from which they had suffered. He was amazed that Castiel knew how to treat people, how to save them, bring them back from the brink. They had been married for less than a day, but Dean was already proud of how brave his husband was, and touched by how much Cas cared, especially about the people he couldn’t save.

“I had a friend a couple years ago—her name was Meg. We were…well, I was working overseas, and Balthazar and I had this…arrangement.” 

Dean cocked an eyebrow.

“Well, you did say no lies, Dean.” 

“I’m listening,” he said. 

“As long as nobody got pregnant, Baz and I were both free to…spend time with other people,” Castiel said, and his cheeks flushed a pretty pink color that brought out the blue of his eyes. It nearly distracted Dean from what Cas was actually saying. When his words finally registered, Dean’s eyebrows flew up in surprise. 

“You’re joking.” 

“I’m not. I told you that he and I had a marriage of convenience. Though I only had the one…ah, liaison, if you will. Balthazar had at least twelve, to my knowledge. Possibly more.” 

Cas shrugged, and his scent didn’t betray any hint of jealousy. He truly wasn’t bothered by his first husband’s affairs. Dean leaned forward, appalled and fascinated all at once. 

“And your friend Meg, she was the one you…you know…” 

“Yes. My time with her was extremely educational.” Cas actually smirked at that, as if he were remembering a particularly fond memory. 

“Oh?” Dean prompted. His downstairs brain was itching to know more, even if an irrational bit of jealousy flared up at the mention of Cas with someone else. His past is his own, Dean reprimanded himself. 

“That’s a story for another time.”

“C’mon, Cas.” 

“I can’t, just now,” he said, suddenly solemn. “I…You see, we had worked together. Meg was a nurse—not a wet nurse, Dean, a healer—and she…she died, and I couldn’t save her. To this day, it’s my greatest regret.” 

Castiel’s scent soured a bit, and Dean’s inner alpha howled. He tried to put an arm around Cas’ shoulders, found that it was more awkward than romantic, and let his arm slip until it wrapped around Cas’ waist. To Dean’s surprise, Castiel leaned his head onto his shoulder, and his scent burgeoned with contentedness. Dean pressed a feather-light kiss to Cas’ temple. He would have let them sit there for as long as Cas needed, but an annoying thought buzzed about Dean’s head like a particularly aggressive horsefly.

“Cas…do you want the kind of marriage you had before? Where we have an…arrangement?” Dean inquired. 

“No. I don’t,” Cas said at once. “Do you?" 

“No,” Dean replied. 

Castiel lifted his head. He was close enough to count the freckles Dean pretended he didn’t have. 

WHAM!

The door burst open, bouncing against the opposite wall, and two inebriated people stumbled into the room. 

“I told you to stay back, you idjit!” Garth slurred. 

“Well I wasn’t gonna prance around behind the door, was I, waitin’ for them to answer like we were comin’ by for a nice cup of tea?” Ash said indignantly, then belched loudly. 

“What the hell are you two doing?” 

The two betas whipped their heads towards Dean’s voice, startled as though they had forgotten he and Castiel were there. Out of the corner of his eye, Dean saw Cas bite the inside of his cheek to stifle a laugh.

“We were just…uh…” Ash started, but then either lost his train of thought or his courage at the angry expression on Dean’s face. 

“Cain sent us to see if you’d—uh—you know…” Garth mumbled. He made an indistinguishable gesture with his hands, like he was trying to imitate one person humping the other. 

“Now who’s the idjit? They’ve still got their clothes on!” Ash said loudly, pointing over at the bed.

“Get out!” Dean demanded, rising to his feet. He clenched his fists, not just in a show of anger, but to keep himself from bursting out laughing. 

“You can still do it with your clothes on,” Garth protested petulantly.

“I know, but not on your wedding night!” Ash insisted. 

Dean was suddenly reminded of why this intrusion wasn’t funny at all. 

“Out!” he barked, advancing towards his so-called friends.

“Wait! Have you done it yet, or—”

A low snarl erupted from behind Dean, deep enough to have come from an alpha in rut. Castiel’s white teeth were bared, lip curling threateningly, his hands curved into claws against the folded quilt beneath him. Dean’s breath caught at the sight, and the heady scent of his own arousal permeated the air. 

“Ifrinn!” Garth squeaked, eyes round as saucers.

“Ruith! Greas ort!” Ash shrieked, pulling at Garth’s coat. 

The pair scurried away like a pair of frightened mice. Dean slammed the door behind them. When he turned back to Castiel, the man had resumed his usual, pleasantly neutral expression, but there was a twinkle in his blue eyes. 

“Impressive,” Dean said, and he meant it. “I’ve never heard an omega growl like that before.” 

“There’s a first time for everything,” Castiel said coyly. 

“Speaking of first times…” Dean said, rubbing a hand against the back of his neck. He didn’t want to push his luck, but the sun had long since set. They must have talked for hours. Cas titled his head sideways.

“It is getting kinda late. We should probably go to bed,” Dean suggested. Castiel stood up. 

“To bed…or to sleep?” he asked, with an obvious glance at the front of Dean’s kilt. The scent of omega arousal threaded with Dean’s.

“Uh. Well, either way, you won’t wanna sleep in all that, so I’ll…help you with it,” Dean said awkwardly, gesturing towards Castiel’s robes. 

“This first,” Cas said softly, trailing his hand down the front of his jacket. 

Dean gulped. His hands were surprisingly steady as he undid each pearly button. The jacket slipped off Castiel’s shoulders with ease, dragging the lace collar along as it crumpled to the floor. 

“Keep going,” Castiel whispered, toeing off his shoes. 

The heat emanating from Cas’ body grew warmer near the fastenings of his breeches. Dean pulled the laces free, fingers brushing just over Cas’ groin, and his breeches fell to the ground. Castiel’s cock jutted out proudly beneath the thin material of his shirt. A bead of moisture dampened the fabric near its tip, and Dean wondered if there would be another damp spot from Castiel’s slick. He’d smelled it before, but now that the barrier of most of Cas’ clothing was gone, the intoxicating sweetness of his slick made Dean’s mouth water.

“My turn.” 

Dean barely noticed as Castiel's nimble fingers removed his stock and coat, undid the buckle of his belt, and let his kilt drop away from his hips. Cas’ eyes were roaming from Dean’s eyes, to his chest, down to the outline of his hardness, and back up again. 

They reached for one another at the same time, lips crushing together with more passion than finesse. Dean wanted to devour Castiel, and by his enthusiasm, Cas wanted to do the same. Their tongues slid and tangled together, then Cas pulled back to nip at Dean’s bottom lip. One of them moaned. 

“You seem to have a firm grasp on what you’re doing,” Cas said, panting slightly. Dean looked down to see that he had Cas’ length in a tight grip.

“I never claimed to be a monk,” Dean said, stroking his thumb over the bundle of nerves near the head of Cas’ cock. He gasped, head tilting back to expose the line of his throat. Dean’s gums itched, fangs fighting to descend, to claim Castiel as his own. Dean settled for latching his mouth to the side of Cas’ neck, nipping and sucking as the omega writhed in pleasure. 

They tumbled backwards onto the bed. Cas’ pupils were wide with desire, leaving behind only a faint ring of blue. His hair was rumpled again, his lips were parted—he looked utterly debauched, and this was only the beginning. Dean nudged Cas’ legs apart with his knees. The tip of his cock slipped against the wetness between Cas’ legs. Dean whimpered, desperate to bury himself inside Castiel’s warmth.

“Dean, wait,” Cas said, clutching at the back of Dean’s shirt. “I’m—I get wet, yes, but I’m not a woman. You have to—you have to open me up more.” 

“I…what?” Dean asked, dazed with desire. 

“Pull back a little, alpha,” Cas ordered, and Dean immediately scooted backwards. He watched, enthralled, as Castiel circled his own rim, as one finger disappeared within, then another, and another, thrusting and circling. 

“Cas, please,” Dean begged. “I want—I need—”

He couldn’t find the words. He was lost, transfixed with the way Castiel’s hips moved, how his chest heaved, how slick glistened on his fingers and down his thighs. Castiel angled his wrist, then spasmed, mouth falling open in a silent cry. 

“Let me touch you,” Dean heard himself say. He needed to be closer, needed to feel the way Castiel was opening up. 

Wordlessly, Cas flipped over onto his knees. The sight made Dean groan, swearing nonsense curses and praises in his native speech. He doubted Castiel understood the words, but the omega seemed to get the idea, given how he was wiggling his ass temptingly.

Dean parted Cas’ cheeks and slid a thumb past his unresisting rim, groaning at the unbelievable heat. He had to know if Cas’ slick really was as delicious as it smelled. Dean leaned in, laving his tongue right over Cas’ hole, plunging it inside for a better taste. 

A frenzied moan escaped Cas’ lips, and he rocked his hips back. Emboldened, Dean flicked his tongue, then withdrew it, slipping two fingers inside. Cas tasted better than Dean could have ever imagined: sweet as honey, cool as mint, and something else, like the way the earth smells after a rain. The sounds Cas made were even better, though, little gasps and moans, growing louder as Dean’s fingers explored deeper. 

Cas titled his hips, and the pads of Dean’s fingertips brushed against something that made him cry out, spine bowing. Dean pulled his fingers back, afraid that he had hurt his omega, but—

“Fuck! Don’t stop, don’t you dare fucking stop!” he pleaded.

“Cas—ifrinn—please, omega, I need you,” Dean growled. His was cock achingly hard and leaking, knot throbbing. He thought he might burst. 

Castiel looked over his shoulder. Dean caught a glimpse of lust-blown pupils before Cas’ hand closed around him, guiding him closer. Dean felt an astonishing heat near his tip. Castiel pressed backwards right as Dean’s hips bucked forward.

“Fucking hell,” Dean moaned. Gods, you’re so warm, so tight…” 

He was babbling, and he knew it, but he couldn’t stop. 

“Dean—Mac na galla!” Cas swore. “Move, dammit!” 

The sound of Dean’s favorite expression falling from his omega’s lips made him snap into motion. He set a furious pace, and Cas met him thrust for thrust. Any worry that he might hurt the omega disappeared each time Cas moaned Dean’s name. He gripped Cas’ hips hard enough to bruise, and Cas clenched tighter around him. Soon, too soon, he felt the heat building low within his belly. 

“Cas—I—knot—” he said, breath punching out of him in gasps.

Castiel pushed himself up, pressing his back against Dean’s chest. Dean wrapped an arm around his waist, holding him close. Impossibly, Cas felt tighter this way, and Dean was forced to slow his thrusts. Cas leaned his head backwards, grabbing the back of Dean’s neck and pulling him into a feverish kiss. 

“Yes,” he said, gazing into Dean’s eyes. “Knot me, alpha. I’m yours.” 

Dean lost whatever control he had left. He fell forward, pounding Cas wildly into the mattress until his knot popped past Cas’ rim. 

“Holy fucking hell!” Cas cried. 

Dean shuddered as he came, filling Cas up. Eventually he stilled, remembering at the last second to not to slump over Cas’ form. Dean snaked an arm under Cas’ chest, and gently rolled them over onto their sides. 

“Ifrinn,” Dean breathed. Cas chuckled, and the vibrations did something funny to the way they were tied together. 

“That was…” 

“Yeah,” Cas finished, breathlessly. 

“Are you alright?” Dean asked, struggling to keep his eyes open. He felt oddly boneless. 

“Yes, Dean. Though…” 

“What? What’s wrong? Did I hurt you?” 

Dean perked his head up off the pillow he had somehow managed to land on. He sniffed the air, trying to detect any sign of pain—or, gods forbid, blood.

“You didn’t hurt me, Dean.” 

“Then what is it? Oh no,” Dean said, suddenly feeling sick. “Was it that bad?” 

“Dean. Relax. I enjoyed myself immensely,” Castiel said, raising Dean’s hand and lightly kissing his knuckles.

“Then what?” 

“It would be nice if I didn’t have to finish myself off,” Cas said gently. He lowered Dean’s hand to his own member, painfully stiff and purple at the head. 

“Gods, Cas, I’m sorry,” Dean said. He began to stroke Cas’ cock, but his hands were clumsy and shaking slightly from exertion. 

“Shh. It’s alright,” Castiel said, twisting his head as best he could to plant a kiss on Dean’s jaw. 

“But—” he tried to protest.

“Just watch, alpha. Watch what I like.” 

Dean did as he was bid, mesmerized by the motion of Cas’ hand as he pleasured himself. He took in every detail, willing himself to commit every stroke, every twist, every caress to memory. 

“Oh,” Cas sighed. His breath quickened. His scent blossomed. 

Struck with sudden inspiration, Dean bit down on Castiel’s shoulder, careful not to break the skin. 

“Oh—oh! Dean!” Cas whimpered, and he spilled over. His back arched, and he squeezed Dean’s knot so tightly that Dean’s eyes rolled back in his head. If he didn’t know better, he’d swear he just came for a second time in a row. 

“Better?” Dean asked, once he caught his breath. 

Cas nodded sleepily. Dean reached blindly for the second folded quilt down by their feet, tugging it up and over them the best he could without disturbing his new husband.

“Rest, m’aingeal,” Dean whispered. He realized, just before he succumbed to sleep, that he had forgotten to remove his boots. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NIGHT

 

Castiel woke slowly, unsure as to what had disturbed his peaceful slumber. He listened for the chirping of nearby birds, but everything was still. Well, everything except the alpha curled protectively behind him. One of Dean’s hands rested suggestively on Cas’ hip. 

M’aingeal,” he murmured sleepily, languidly kissing Castiel’s neck. “Cas. My omega.” 

Dean’s erection poked at the base of Cas’ spine. Gods, but the man was a furnace. Cas wriggled around to face Dean—which was no small feat, given how closely they were pressed together. Beads of sweat peppered Dean’s brow, dampening his light hair. There was something off about his scent, something beyond typical arousal. 

Cas placed two fingers on Dean’s neck, carefully feeling his pulse as the alpha’s hips squirmed against the sheets, seeking some kind of friction. 

“Dean, open your eyes,” Castiel said, patting his cheek. 

He didn’t respond with more than a small whimper at Cas’ voice. 

“Alpha. Look at me,” Cas ordered. 

Dean’s eyes popped open. His pupils were dilated, and the green sliver of his irises were rimmed in red.

“You’re in rut,” Castiel gasped.

Dean whined. 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

INVERNESS, 1946

 

When the clock chimed at exactly a quarter ’til, Larry Ganem’s guest rapped smartly on the front door. She greeted him with a firm handshake and wave of her lavender scent. Larry let Ms. Bradbury guide him back to his armchair, even though the furniture in his sitting room hadn’t changed positions in thirty years. 

This time, he had ensured that his housekeeper set out the sturdy ceramic teapot, as well as the new potholders Larry had asked his niece to make. Revered Milton had told him that Ms. Bradbury preferred chai over oolong, so Larry had asked the young man who ran the corner store to order some specifically for this occasion.

A spoon clinked against the teacups. Larry held out his hands expectantly when he heard the rattle of cup against saucer. The hot aromatic liquid was welcome on a day like today. Larry had felt the fine mist of rain on the arm of Ms. Bradbury’s coat before she’d hung it up. He hoped it wouldn’t start drizzling before she returned safely home.

“Thank you for coming to visit me, Ms. Bradbury,” he said, setting his teacup aside. 

His fingers brushed the edge of the side table to double-check that his tea wasn’t in danger of falling to the recently-vacuumed carpet. Old and blind though Larry was, his housekeeper wouldn’t shy away from scolding him if he made a mess.

“I’ve told you before that you can call me Charlie,” the bright voice said. 

Revered Milton had once mentioned that his assistant had fiery red hair. It suited her personality well, Larry thought. He smiled.

“As you wish,” he said pleasantly. “You can call me Larry, if you like, or ‘Mr. Ganem,’ or even ‘hey you.’ Just not ‘old fart,’ if you please.” 

Charlie’s laugh tinkled like a bell.

“I think I can manage that,” she said. 

Larry waited until he heard her teacup clack back down against her saucer. 

“I was never one for beating around the bush, I’m afraid, so I’ll get straight to it. I’m sure you’ve been wondering why I asked you to visit, and why it was so important that we speak privately.” 

The scent of lavender in the room heightened. 

“I thought maybe you had more boxes for me,” Charlie hedged. 

“Something like that. I do apologize, Charlie, but there’s something I didn’t give you earlier.” 

The couch cushion rustled. Larry imagined that his guest had sat up straighter. 

“What is it?” 

“What you sought all along. Proof that your friend went back in time.” 

Charlie gasped. Larry heard a clatter as she nearly dropped her teacup, then set it down somewhere safe.

“I knew I had recognized the name ‘Castiel’ when he and Mr. Adler called on me in October. It wasn’t until he went missing that I realized where I had seen his name before,” Larry continued. He could feel his heart thumping steadily inside his chest. 

“I don’t understand.” 

Charlie spoke so quietly, another man might not have heard her. Fortunately, Larry had spent half his lifetime listening carefully to the world around him, picking up details that his sightless eyes could not.

“I know what the standing stones on Craig Na Dun really are,” he said, careful to keep his voice gentle. There was a small pause, filled only with the steady sound of them breathing, the clock ticking, and the distant sound of tires against wet cobblestone.

“I—Is this real life?” Charlie squeaked. 

“Yes, my dear,” he replied. One corner of his mouth twitched up in an apologetic smile. “I’m afraid it is.”

Larry gestured to the bookcase filled with stories he could no longer read, but had long known by heart.

“Bottom shelf, left hand side. The Tales of the Righteous Man. If memory serves, it has a dark green cover. Would you bring it to me, please?” 

Charlie’s shoes padded quietly against the carpet. Her scent approached him, and Larry accepted the small, hardcover tome without having to turn his head. He waited until he heard Charlie sit back down before he opened the book, thumbing along the well-read pages until his fingers hit a different weight of paper. Larry carefully extracted the folded document and held it out. 

“This is only a copy,” he explained, over the rustle of paper. “The original is stored in the Men of Letters archives near Beinn Geal.” 

“What the what?” Charlie exclaimed weakly. “This—But—Did you have this the whole time?” 

Larry nodded solemnly.

“But—why didn’t you say anything?” Charlie asked, sounding very small and deflated, and very much unlike her usual bubbly self. 

“The Men of Letters are few and far between these days,” Larry said. “But we take our duty seriously. We are preceptors, observers, beholders. Chroniclers of mysteries not easily explained. It is not our place to meddle with the affairs of history. Only to record them.” 

“So then why tell me at all?” Charlie asked, her voice and scent strengthening. “What’s to stop me from getting Cas back to the present? What’s to stop me from meddling with history that hasn’t happened yet?” 

He answered her question with one of his own.

“How many times have you been to Craig Na Dun?” 

“I don’t know. A lot.” 

“And in all that time, have the stones ever spoken to you?” Larry asked, patiently.

“No, I—What does that even mean?” 

“It means that not everyone can pass through the stones,” he explained kindly. “I think you would know by now, if you were one of those who could hear their call. I would also wager that neither Reverend Milton nor Mr. Adler could pass through the stones either—otherwise, they likely would have gone through the same day that Castiel did. In short, I tell you all this now, because there is nothing you can do to alter the past. It has already been written.” 

“So…what now?” Charlie asked, more confused than angry. “Will Cas come back on his own?” 

Larry shrugged his shoulders. The knitted shawl on the back of his chair rubbed against the fabric of his sweater.

“Those are answers that I cannot give you, even if I knew the whole truth. Keep searching through history if you desire. I will not hold anything else back from you—I will even help you in your search, if you wish.” 

They spoke for several more minutes. Before she left, Charlie promised to call him within the next couple of days, and thanked him for placing his trust in her. The Tales of the Righteous Man fell when Larry stood up to lock the door behind her. He heard the muffled thump as it dropped between his chair and the side table, but he decided to let his housekeeper put it back on the shelf, instead of risking spilling his tea all over the floor. He thought he rather might enjoy this exotic blend. 

By the time the housekeeper returned from her errands, Larry had forgotten about the book. It collected dust under his armchair, open to the title page of his late wife’s favorite chapter. The Angel of Beinn Geal, it read, and underneath it in smaller letters, The Legend of the Righteous Man’s True Mate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAWRENCIAN HIGHLANDS, 1744

 

The ledger’s writing blurred before Sam’s eyes. He scrunched them up, rubbed them, and tried to refocus on the inky black lines. 

 

Druim Uisge-Dubh (Blackwater Ridge)

Collins, Haley, Tommy, and Ben — 1 bag grain, 2 chickens, sixpence

Shaw, M. — 2 casks ale

 

He’d read through that entry already. Maybe he ought to light another candle. Then again, the rent ledger wasn’t nearly interesting enough to keep Sam awake when it was broad daylight.

 

Hunter, Roy — 2 live pigs

 

The other clansmen had killed and roasted one of those pigs for the wedding feast. Neither groom had gotten a single bite of it.

 

Wilkinson, R. — 2 kg. dried venison, 1 deer hide

 

Dean would tan his hide if he knew Sam were waiting up. Ash and Garth had gone up to check on the newlyweds hours ago—against Sam’s advice—and come back with metaphorical tails tucked firmly between their legs. The pair of them were now happily and drunkenly passed out on the common room floor. No matter. Dean would re-emerge when he was ready. 

Sam yawned so widely his jaw popped. He stared at the ledger again for a solid minute, then looked wistfully over near the hearth where Ash was cuddling an empty bottle. Sam envied him to be asleep right now, even if it meant Garth’s smelly boots would be six inches from his nose. 

The pocket watch that had once belonged to Henry Winchester said it was just after two o’clock in the morning. Sam snapped the cover shut, and the sound echoed in the otherwise silent room. One of the sleeping betas snorted, but didn’t wake. 

Absentmindedly, Sam traced the engraved Aquarian star on his grandfather’s watch, admiring the way the metal shone in the firelight. He wondered what Grandpa Henry would have said about one of his grandsons performing the other’s wedding ceremony. Sam felt a coil of guilt settle in his belly like an angry snake. If he could just turn back the hands of Henry’s watch and make time reverse…

The ripe odor of musky alpha sweat hit Sam’s nose before he caught sight of the figure on the landing above. He looked up, expecting to see his older brother grinning cockily. Instead, there was Castiel, clad only in his shirt, legs completely bare from his knees down. His hair was stuck up like he had been caught in a windstorm, and there were blooming purplish-red love bites on his neck and collarbone.

“Sam?” he whispered loudly. 

His voice rang throughout the room below. Garth’s nose was twitching like a hound mid-hunt. Thank the gods all the other clansmen were elsewhere, Sam thought. Who knew what would happen if an alpha caught wind of an omega covered in that scent.

“Stay there,” Sam hissed. “Go back inside, I’ll be up in a minute.” 

Castiel backed up from the railing. It may have just been Sam’s imagination, but he thought the omega might be walking a little gingerly. Completely awake now, Sam quickly gathered up a plate of cheese, bread, and fruit from the remnants of the wedding feast. Whatever had been left of the roasted pig had been claimed by the innkeeper’s cat. As far as Sam was concerned, the beast could keep the bones. 

He took the creaking stairs two at a time, more preoccupied with haste now than discretion. The miasma of scents wafting from the bedroom grew more potent with each step. Only years of experience kept Sam from holding his nose as he climbed. Growing up with Dean had left him well-acquainted with his brother’s stench. For this reason, when Sam reached the landing, the sharp odor of sickly-sweet mint made him reel backwards.

Castiel opened the door just enough to stick his head through the crack. His face looked oddly disembodied in the dim light. Cas’ chapped lips were ruby-red, and his voice, when he spoke in a hushed tone, was even lower than usual.

“Oh, thank you,” he said, opening the door further. 

More of the honey-mint scent drifted towards Sam, and he had to make a conscious effort not to gag when he realized that the smell was from the residue of Cas’ slick. Castiel was his friend—more than that, he was his brother now. Sam didn’t want to think of Cas as sexual being any more than he wanted to picture Dean naked. (Which was to say, not in the slightest.) 

“Here,” Sam said, matching the low volume with which Castiel spoke. Cas took the plate of food and began munching happily on a piece of cheese. 

“I didn’t realize how hungry I was ’til now,” Cas said thickly, stuffing a hunk of brown bread into his mouth alongside the partially-chewed cheese.

“Is Dean asleep?” Sam asked, trying to not laugh at the way Castiel’s cheeks were bulging out like a squirrel. The sight was so very Dean-like. Cas nodded, swallowed, and picked up an apple. 

“He went into rut,” Cas said, before crunching down on the piece of fruit. 

“I could tell,” Sam replied, wrinkling his nose. 

“Oh gods.” Castiel set the partially-eaten apple back on his plate. “Does it really smell that bad?” 

Sam shook his head. 

“Only if you get this close. But don’t worry, I’m used to Dean’s stink,” he said, handing over a bottle of ale that Ash hadn’t inhaled yet. 

“What’s he like during a rut?” Castiel asked. He took an impressive swig of ale, tucked the bottle under his arm, and grabbed more cheese from the plate. 

“Dean? More irritable, from what I’ve seen, but I think that was more from sexual frustration than anything. He used to lock himself up in his room during ruts when we were in our teens. Beyond that, I wouldn’t know,” Sam explained. “I don’t think he’s ever shared a rut with someone like you, though—someone that he cared about, that is.” 

Castiel’s eyes widened a bit at Sam’s last statement. He chewed his next mouthful of food thoughtfully for several long seconds.

“May I ask you something?” 

“Sure.” 

“Forgive me if this is too personal, but…have you ever been with an alpha?” 

Sam’s face suddenly felt too hot. If Castiel noticed his embarrassment, he didn’t point it out. He took a slice of thick, creamy-looking cheese from the plate and began to nibble on it.

“Uh, yeah. A couple times, but she was a she,” Sam said, willing away the memory of that heavenly rosemary scent. “Are you worried about being with Dean while he’s in rut?” 

“A little, I guess,” Cas said, with an awkward shrug that nearly made him drop the ale. 

Sam took the bottle back, careful not to touch Castiel’s skin. He doubted that Dean, even mid-rut, would mind his omega speaking to Sam, but another person’s scent on Cas was another matter entirely. 

“I’m not worried about Dean hurting me or anything,” Castiel said. “When he woke up just now, he didn’t make me take his knot, and he fell back asleep right away.” 

Cas continued speaking, apparently completely oblivious to the expression of disgust on Sam’s face. That was a mental image he didn’t need, thank you very much.

“And I’m a physician, I know how to alleviate heat and rut symptoms with or without engaging in sexual intercourse. It’s just…I’ve never been with an alpha at all before. It’s all very new to me.” 

Sam handed back the bottle of ale mechanically when Cas reached for it. He waited for Castiel to wash down his next chunk of bread and cheese before he spoke. 

“I’m sorry you’re in this mess,” he said, forcing himself to meet the omega’s blue eyes. 

“Don’t apologize, Sam. It isn’t your fault,” Castiel said earnestly.

“It—it kind of is.” 

Cas squinted at him, head titling slightly to one side. “What do you mean?” 

“Four years ago,” Sam began, “After Jess died, and Dean was arrested…I went to Fort William to petition for his release. The fort was Morningstar’s first posting in the highlands.”

Cas’ eyes went round, lips parted in a silent gasp of understanding.

“He was extremely kind, at first. Sympathetic. Said how sorry he was that this had happened to my family. Said that the least he could do to repay us for what happened to Jess was to free Dean, drop all the charges against him…And then before I knew it, he was—kissing me, and—” 

The words choked him. Sam cleared his throat, determinedly ignoring the prickly heat in his eyes. He had to say this. Castiel deserved to know.

“But I couldn’t go through with it, and it made him…so angry. He made me watch as Alistair flogged Dean bloody again,” Sam admitted, voice barely above a whisper.

“Does Dean know?” Cas asked, just as quietly. 

“Some of it. But don’t you see? Lucifer has been out to get my family ever since I refused him. I only made it worse by filing an official complaint against one of his captains a couple years ago. And now he wants you, and this is all my fault—” 

“No, Sam,” interrupted Castiel. 

He tucked the bottle back under his arm and placed his free hand on Sam’s shoulder. Sam breathed deeply, taking in the scent of calm omega combined with Dean’s lingering presence.

“It isn’t your fault. I was trying to get Alistair to confess, to make him pay for what he’d done,” Cas said. “It’s my fault for bringing up Jess’ name in the first place. If I hadn’t done that, Alistair would have gone on pretending he didn’t recognize me, and Lucifer probably would have let me go.” 

Sam snapped his eyes up from the toes of his own boots. 

“You confronted Alistair?” 

“I thought I could get some kind of justice for what happened to you and Dean,” Cas told him. He resumed snacking on the rest of his apple, and for a moment Sam regretted the absence of his comforting touch. The simple gesture had grounded him, and for some reason, Cas smelled like family now.

“How do you say ‘Prince of Darkness’ in Lawrencian?” Castiel asked suddenly. 

“Uh,” Sam said, taken aback. “Why do you ask?” 

Cas fiddled with the apple stem before he answered.

“Back in the village, when I met with Morningstar, I think Cain tried to warn me about him. He said something about ‘an diabhal.’” 

“The devil,” Sam translated. 

“Right. And wasn’t the Devil—the Lucifer of myth—also called the Prince of Darkness?” Cas inquired, even though Sam thought he already knew the answer. 

Prionnsa an Dorchadais,” Sam said. “That’s the phrase.”

Castiel nodded in thanks. He opened his mouth to say something else, then stopped, turning his head in the direction of something Sam hadn’t scented or heard. 

“Come back to bed, aingeal,” a drowsy voice said. A bare arm wrapped around Castiel’s waist, and Dean tucked his head over Cas’ shoulder, nuzzling his nose over the mating gland in the omega’s neck.

“I’ll come check on you guys in a few hours,” Sam said, but he didn’t know if either of them had heard him.

Cas followed Dean back into the bedroom, each completely entranced with one another. Sam stayed just long enough to make sure the door was fully closed before making his hasty retreat downstairs. With luck, he might be able to doze off a bit between now and the dawn. Sam sent up a silent prayer to whoever might be listening, hoping that whatever Dean and Cas got up to, the sounds of it wouldn’t reach the inn’s common room. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INVERNESS, 1946

 

Ignoring the moral voice of protest in her head, Charlie strode into Gabriel’s sitting room. She could totally do this. She just had to actually do it.

“Uh…guys?” she said, inwardly cursing how high her voice came out. 

Gabriel looked up from the chess board straight away, but Balthazar scowled at it for half a second longer. Judging from the amount of white pieces left on the board compared to black, Balthazar was losing spectacularly. 

“I made a stupid mistake,” Charlie said, shaking her head in what she hoped was a convincing display of defeat. “I can’t believe I didn’t catch it earlier.” 

“Don’t beat yourself up before we get a chance to hear this transgression of yours.” 

“Be serious, Gabriel,” Charlie insisted, scrunching her brows in frustration. Huh. That part she didn’t have to fake.  

“Alright, alright. We’re listening.” 

Charlie surreptitiously scented the air before she spoke. So far, so good. Her own lavender fragrance was at a normal level, and nothing too crazy was coming from Gabriel or Balthazar’s direction. 

“Remember I told you I was looking for anything from exactly two hundred and two years ago, just like the legends say?”

“Yes,” Balthazar said, one eyebrow raised as he listened expectantly.

“Well, that was my mistake. That’s why I hadn’t found anything,” Charlie lied. Well, that part was a fib, anyway. The next part was at least true.

“I didn’t realize that time would still be passing for Castiel like it’s passing for us. If he went from October of this year to October of seventeen forty-three, he wouldn’t still be in October seventeen forty-three by now. It’d be February seventeen forty-four for him. I should’ve looked farther into his future. Or his past future, or whatever you’d call it.” 

Inwardly, Charlie reminded herself that technically, she could have found out this information on her own using the reason she’d rehearsed. There was no need to tell the others how much Larry Ganem might know. He’d trusted her with this secret for a reason, right?

“What?” Gabriel asked, perplexed. 

Charlie held out the photocopied document.

“I found him,” she said, when both men just continued to stare at her blankly. “I found Cas.” 

Gabriel lept to his feet, his toffee scent brimming over with excitement.

“You—What? You’re sure?” he asked, snatching the paper from Charlie’s hands. 

“I think so.” 

“That’s his signature,” Balthazar said in disbelief, pointing at the swooping black lines. His normally pleasant lemon verbena scent soured, puckering up like the agitated expression on his face.

“‘Castiel James Milton,’” Gabriel read aloud. “Not Adler? But I thought he took your name, after all the fuss your mother raised.”

“He did, but…how many other people could be named ‘Castiel James Milton?’ That’s not exactly a common combination.” 

“No, I suppose not,” Gabriel conceded. He turned back to Charlie. “What is this, anyway? Another petition? A census roll?”

For one horrible second, there was only silence, and the frantic thumping of Charlie’s heart against her rib cage.

“It’s…it’s a marriage license,” she said.

Two pairs of puzzled eyes met hers, then glanced back down to the document in front of them. 

“Fuck me sideways,” Gabriel muttered. 

Charlie didn’t really hear him. She was too distracted by the sight of Balthazar storming out the door, leaving behind the uniquely pungent scent of spoiled lemons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAWRENCIAN HIGHLANDS, 1744

 

The apple core made a dull thunk as it hit the metal plate. Dean upended the bottle of ale, and golden drops of liquid hit his outstretched tongue. Said pink tongue licked plush, reddened lips. Cas squirmed in his seat, acutely aware that the patch of dried slick on the tail of his shirt was becoming damp again. 

“There. I ate something. I drank something.” 

Dean leaned back in his chair. He folded his hands behind his head, stretching the muscles in his abdomen and chest. The candlelight cast an amber glow over his naked form.

“Satisfied?” he asked. 

“Not quite,” Castiel said. He rested his chin in his hand, acting as if he were deep in thought.

“Oh? Anything I can do to help?” 

Dean smirked as he began to stroke his already-stiff cock. 

“I think you might,” Cas said. He leaned back, imitating Dean’s posture, and spread his legs suggestively, cupping his own rapidly-hardening member. Dean stood and rounded the small table, eyes never wavering from Castiel’s. 

“Come here,” he said. Cas accepted his hand and let himself be pulled to his feet. Dean plucked at the hem of Cas’ shirt. “I want to see you. All of you.” 

“Well, I suppose fair is fair,” Castiel murmured. 

The crimson ring around Dean’s irises made his eyes appear a lovely shade of deepest green. They shone with excitement as Dean watched Castiel peel off the last barrier of clothing. Cooler air hit Castiel’s exposed skin, and he felt his nipples harden. Dean gasped, and backed up three paces. His knees hit the edge of the bed and his bare ass hit the sheets. 

“What? You’ve seen naked men before, haven’t you?” Castiel asked, stepping forward cautiously. The closer he got, the deeper the spicy aroma of Dean’s arousal was.

“Yeah, but not like this,” Dean said, voice soft. “And not one that’s mine.” 

He reached out a tentative hand. The heat of it felt like a brand on Castiel’s hip bones. Dean’s hands travelled over Cas’ body, timidly at first, like the soft brushing of a butterfly’s wings, then more boldly. Castiel bent forward, capturing Dean’s lips in a bruising kiss. A finger brushed between Cas’ cheeks. He shuddered. 

Dean broke the kiss, expression reverent as his fingers danced over Cas’ hole. Castiel moaned, reveling in the sensation of Dean’s strong fingers coaxing the ring of muscle open. Either Dean was a quick learner, or his inner alpha had excellent instincts. Cas was a little sore from their earlier activities, but the burn quickly melted into pleasure as Dean’s fingers breached him. His blissful purr grew into an appreciative moan when Dean sucked the head of Cas’ cock into his mouth. 

“You’re bigger than I expected. Thicker,” Dean mused, in between little kisses and licks up Castiel’s shaft. 

“Small omega cocks are a myth, Dean. You—oh!” 

Cas gasped as the velvety heat of Dean’s mouth surrounded him again. He was torn between watching the intoxicating sight of Dean’s lips sliding up and down around him, and closing his eyes to bask in the sensation of Dean’s talented tongue.

“I thought you’d never been with another man before,” Castiel choked out. 

Dean hummed, and the vibration made Cas buck his hips involuntarily. The alpha pulled off of him with a small slurping noise. 

“No, but I’ve been told I pick things up quickly. For example…” he said, curling the fingers still buried inside Cas. 

“Fucking hell,” Cas moaned. Each stroke sent electric zings of pleasure all the way from the base of his spine to the top of his head. 

“What is that little spot?” Dean asked mildly, as though he didn’t know perfectly well what he was doing. 

“It’s called a—a p—prostate,” Castiel stammered. 

Dean retreated slightly, stretching and scissoring until he could fit a third finger inside, and then a forth. Damn the man. He’d been so insistent on another round earlier, and now it seemed Dean was determined to make Cas pay for making him wait. 

“Interesting,” Dean commented, before bending down and taking Cas back into his mouth. He stared up at Castiel through his lashes, somehow managing to look innocent even with his mouth full of cock.

“You have one too, you know,” Cas said, panting.

“Hmmm?”

“Fucking fuck!” Cas exclaimed, too aroused to think of anything else to say. 

He pushed on Dean’s shoulders until he fell back onto the bed, then climbed over him, straddling his waist and attacking his lips with his own. Cas felt the chain around his neck shift, pendant bouncing on Dean’s sternum, but the alpha either didn’t notice or care. 

Dean rolled them over, grinding his hips against the sheet. Cas wrapped a leg around him, pulling him closer until he could feel Dean’s tip against his fluttering hole. Dean slid neatly inside, aided by the obscene wetness of Cas’ slick. He didn’t know if it was a physiological reaction to Dean’s rut, or just the man himself that made Cas slick so much. Either way, it didn’t matter. Nothing, not his fingers or anyone else’s, nor a dildo or a fake knot, had ever filled Castiel like this before. 

“Promise me you won’t laugh?” Dean asked quietly, peppering Cas’ neck with gentle kisses. 

“I’ll try,” Cas said dryly. He traced the outline of Dean’s spine with his fingertips, careful not to press too hard on the thick scars that criss-crossed the alpha’s back.

“I…I didn’t know two guys could do it face-to-face,” he said. "I thought you had to do it from behind. You know, like horses.”

“But earlier—we were face-to-face before I made you pull back and open me up.” 

Cas’ inner muscles spasmed at the memory. The alpha shivered, cock twitching erratically. 

“You were driving me crazy with how good you smelled. I could hardly think from wanting you so bad. I was just acting on instinct.”

“And what does your instinct tell you now?” Castiel whispered. 

“To fuck you until you’re begging for my knot.” 

“Gods, yes, please,” Cas whined.

 

 


 

 

Later, as they laid twined together, waiting for Dean’s knot to recede, the alpha swept his gaze over as much of Castiel’s body as he could, and his hands over as much as he could reach. Now that his mind wasn’t currently clouded by mid-rut arousal, he could fully appreciate Cas’ naked body. There wasn’t much about his physique that screamed “omega,” or at least what Dean had always pictured as a typical omega. He’d thought they were all supposed to be slender, delicate things, with tiny waists and curved hips. Castiel’s strong, lithe form was a pleasant surprise to Dean. He’d admired the cords of muscles in Cas’ biceps from the night they’d first met, when Cas had torn his own shirt into strips to make a bandage for Dean’s shoulder. Hell, Dean had been fantasizing about Cas’ thick thighs alone for weeks. And now he could actually touch the man. 

A tiny voice in Dean’s head reminded him that even if Castiel didn’t want to have a marriage like his last one, where they weren’t exclusive, the fact still remained that Cas’ second union was another marriage of convenience. Dean’s inner alpha, so close to the surface now, nearly snarled aloud at the thought. Castiel was his omega, godsdammit.

“What are you thinking about?” Cas asked. “Your scent’s going haywire.” 

Dean’s eyes refocused, and he realized that he’d been staring at the outline of Castiel’s ribs. His brain was a little sluggish just now.

“What about my scent?” he asked, unsure of what Cas had said. 

“It’s all over the place,” Cas explained, running his fingers over the short hairs near the base of Dean’s head. 

“Nothing to worry about,” he said, closing his eyes at the comforting touch. “It’s just my rut. It makes it hard to concentrate, sometimes.” 

“I understand,” Cas said sympathetically. He made to cover their entangled bodies with a quilt, but Dean stopped him. 

“What’s this?” he inquired, tracing the strange, dark symbols inked into the skin below Castiel’s ribs. Cas laughed. 

“I was sixteen or so, and traveling with my Uncle Chuck. One of the local girls—Daphne was her name—convinced me to get this tattoo for ‘protection.’ I didn’t believe any of the ghost stories, but I went along with it, anyway,” Cas said, shrugging. “She was cute, and kind to me, and was the first person to show interest in me without treating me like I was just a piece of ass. Turned out, she was very fond of kissing, and cuddling, but she wanted to ‘save herself for marriage.’” 

He concluded the story with twinkling eyes and a wistful smile. Dean chuckled at the idea of a teenage Castiel, wide-eyed and naïve, then pulled the blanket up to their shoulders. Rut kept Dean from getting cold, but it also made him want to make sure Cas was comfortable.

“And this? What’s the story behind it?” Dean asked, playing with the chain Castiel’s necklace. Upon closer inspection, Dean realized that the pendant was some kind of bronze coin. He caught a glimpse of the words “ONE PENNY” arced over a toga-clad figure with a helmet and trident before Cas’ fingers closed gently around Dean’s hand. 

“It’s a one cent coin from the year I was born,” he said quietly. “My mother wore it, before she died. It’s the only thing I have left of her.” 

“I’m sorry, Cas.” Dean withdrew his hand.

“Don’t apologize,” he insisted. “I was just a pup when they died. I don't remember them much, just that my mother had long red hair. And know I’m the spitting image of my father, at least according to pic—uh, portraits that I’ve seen.” 

Cas’ hand chased Dean’s, weaving their fingers together. The motion of Castiel’s arm made the coin reverse, flipping to the side with a bearded man’s silhouette surrounded by foreign writing. Dean only had eyes for Castiel, though, for the way the omega’s dark brows were furrowing in contemplation. The warm weight of his body beside Dean made it difficult to keep his eyes open.

“I’m just sorry I lost my father’s pocket watch,” Cas said. “I must have dropped it somewhere the day we met, but I didn’t realize it was gone until we were at Leoch.”  

“Well, you were kind of buh-buh-busy,” Dean said, yawning. 

“Am I boring you?” Cas asked, grinning in amusement at the sight of Dean’s mouth stretching open like a silently roaring lion. 

“Tha mi duillich, m’aingel,” Dean apologized sleepily, forgetting that the extent of Cas’ Lawrencian was limited to a few disconnected words and phrases. 

“It’s alright, Dean. Your body needs to rest. Go to sleep, little alpha,” Cas said, resuming his petting of Dean’s hair. He began to hum a melody Dean didn’t know.

“Mkay,” Dean mumbled, burying his face in the nape of Cas’ neck. 

“It's still the same old story, a fight for love and glory,” Cas sang quietly. “A case of do or die…” 

The omega’s voice was deep and rough, not quite in tune, but still soothing as it lulled Dean to sleep.

“The world will always welcome lovers…as time goes by.” 

 


 

“Mmm. That feels nice,” Cas said. Dean’s hand swept tenderly over him. The soft sponge left traces of warm, soapy water over Castiel’s bare skin.

Somehow, Sam had procured a hip bath for them, and had convinced Benny to help him lug it and several dozen pitchers of hot water up the stairs. 

“You’re my brother, and I love you, but you reek something awful, Dean,” Sam had said. His voice had been muffled from behind the kerchief tied around his neck, which Cas had thought made Sam look like a cowboy from the old west movies. Dean had then attempted to wrap his little brother in a sweaty hug, much to Castiel’s amusement. 

The alpha had gallantly insisted that Cas take the first bath, but Sam was right: Dean did stink of sex. Castiel only acquiesced when Dean offered to rub his sore muscles for him while he soaked. As the alpha massaged his back, Cas thought this had been an excellent idea. He ignored the stubborn voice in his head, the one that sounded suspiciously like Meg, telling him that he was perfectly capable of bathing himself. It was too nice to let someone else take care of him for a change, especially after taking care of a rutting alpha for the last few days.

Dean encouraged him to lean back, wrung out the sponge, then stared on Castiel’s front, taking care to be gentle over the fading hickeys that spread from Cas’ thighs to his hip bones, up the curve of his ribs, over his chest, and finally across his neck and the underside of his jaw. Idly, Cas wondered if he had enough spots to pass for a leopard. Dean had been damn possessive every time they’d fucked. Castiel hadn’t minded in the slightest. 

“Cas…can I ask you something?”

“Of course, Dean,” he replied, relaxing his head against the brim of the tub.  

“How come you didn’t go into heat while I was rutting?” 

Dean’s voice was steady, but his scent couldn’t hide his uneasy curiosity. Cas considered for a moment, choosing his words carefully.

“You are my husband now,” he said. “You’ve knotted me. We’re bonded. But we aren’t mated, Dean. And even if we were, there’s no guarantee that your rut would—or could—trigger my heat. I told you this before the wedding, Dean—I probably can’t have pups.”

“I remember. But—”

“Don’t blame yourself because my body is broken,” Castiel interrupted, more sharply than he’d meant. He sat up and tugged the sponge from Dean’s unresisting grip, then began scrubbing his neck. Dean placed a tentative hand on Cas’ shoulder.

“You’re not broken,” he said gently. Castiel heaved a sigh, and closed his eyes. He couldn’t keep snapping at Dean for things that weren’t his fault. 

“I haven’t had a heat in nearly seven years,” Cas confessed, opening his eyes to Dean’s bewildered expression.

“You—Wait. What?” 

Cas smiled ruefully. “It’s a long story.”

“I’m listening.” 

“Not now. Someday, maybe,” Castiel promised. “This is a secret I’m not ready to expose just yet.” 

Dean nodded, understanding but not entirely happy, either. 

“There is something I should have told you earlier,” Cas admitted. “But I was too nervous beforehand. You told me that you had never been with a man before. Well, I had never…received, before.” 

“Received?” Dean repeated, puzzled.

“I had fucked but never been fucked, Dean. You were the first.” 

Dean’s mouth popped open in shock. 

“But you were married…” he said.

“It wasn’t that kind of marriage. We cared for one another. I think a part of him may have even loved me. But we were friends, above all else,” Castiel explained.

“So you never shared a bed?” 

Cas shook his head. “Only to sleep. Nothing more.”  

He wasn’t ready to share this—Cas might not ever be—but it wasn’t as if he and Balthazar had never tried to consummate their marriage. They had gotten close several times. Balthazar had even bought artificial slick, since Cas wasn’t producing any, but Castiel could never go through with it. He simply couldn’t see Balthazar as anything other than his friend. Instead, he’d learned how to get Baz off with his hands and his mouth—Cas had even enjoyed doing that for him. Eventually, the beta had begrudgingly suggested that they refrained from doing anything sexual together. Thus, their arrangement had been formed. Castiel didn’t know if what he had with Dean fell acceptably under the terms of that arrangement. He didn’t know if he wanted to know.

“So…” Dean said, distracting Castiel from his unhelpful thoughts. “You’re telling me that you’d never—in your words—been fucked before, or been knotted, but you just spent the last few days getting fucked and knotted by an alpha in rut?” 

“Yes.” 

Was Castiel mistaken, but was that a look of astonished pride on Dean’s face? 

“You’re braver than I gave you credit for, Cas,” he said, then planted a kiss on Castiel’s forehead.  

You have no fucking idea, Cas thought, suppressing the memories of his time overseas. Castiel would take a rutting alpha’s knot in his tight, unprepped virgin hole a dozen times over if he never had to live through another war. But there was a war coming, wasn’t there? 

Castiel hadn’t needed to listen to old Larry Ganem talk about the glory days of the highland clans to know about their downfall at the Battle of Stull. It was February of 1744 now; the Rising wouldn’t start until sometime in 1745, and Stull wouldn’t happen until the year after that. At least the highlanders would have one stroke of luck. Sam had confirmed Castiel’s half-remembered suspicions when he told him the phrase Prionnsa an Dorchadais. Thank the gods Mr. Ganem had told Cas the story of the man Lawrencians called the “Prince of Darkness.” Castiel wasn’t likely to forget the look of grim satisfaction on the old man’s face when he explained how they redcoat “Devil” had been killed eighteen months before the Battle of Stull.

Cas’ reflections brought another question to the surface of his mind, one that had been floating around ever since he had met Dean outside the church. He thought he knew the answer already, but he had to ask.

“Dean? That word you keep calling me…” he said, taking care not to slosh the bathwater as he stood up.

“Oh, m’aingeal?” 

“Yes. What does it mean?”

“My angel,” Dean said, blushing, as he wrapped a towel around Cas’ waist. Castiel pulled him in for a long, languid kiss, unable to explain how much the simple phrase had made his heart soar.

It wasn’t until Cas began to get dressed that he caught sight of the braided silver band of Dean’s ring on his right hand, and realized that he’d already grown accustomed to its presence. Castiel glanced over to the gold band Balthazar had given him a nearly decade earlier, glinting dully on his left hand. A sinking feeling of guilt descended into Cas’ chest, at odds with the loathing he felt at the idea of leaving Dean. Exactly when had Castiel abandoned his plan to return to his own time—and when had he accepted its defeat?

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

ARCADIA, 1940

Castiel clamped his hands over his ears and shut his eyes tight, desperate to block out the residual echo of the young alpha’s screams. The patient had long since succumbed to the soporific effect of morphine, but his words still clung to Cas’s brain like mold over stale bread. 

“Maman, maman, ou es-tu? Maman! Aidez-moi!” the soldier had shrieked, delirious with pain and fear. Meg had shoved a leather strap between his teeth to stop his rambling, but it hadn’t stopped the young man’s frightened whimpers.

“Votre maman n’est pas ici,” Castiel had said, trying to keep his scent calm and controlled. “Je suis médecin, je te vais aider.” 

As the bone saw carved through the soldier’s femur, Castiel wondered if he really were helping. The young alpha—hardly older than a pup, really—would be crippled for the rest of his life. It didn’t matter that Cas wasn’t the one who put a bullet in him. He still felt equally guilty. 

Meg came to him afterward, kneeling on the ground near his hunched form. She coaxed his hands away from his ears, humming some innocuous melody under her breath. 

“Lay down, Castiel,” she said, with a far more gentle tone than he had ever heard her use. 

Stunned into cooperating, Cas reclined on the tiny camp bed, sock feet hanging off the end. Meg slipped out of her nurse’s uniform, shedding layers until she was clad in nothing but her shift. The dusky outline of her nipples were just visible through the pale fabric. She nudged Cas gently until there was enough room to squash themselves together, face-to-face.

“Hold me,” Meg whispered. Castiel wrapped his arms around her small frame, nose pressed into her long black curls. She was normally so fierce; he hadn’t realized before just how tiny she was compared to him.

After several long minutes, Meg looked up at Cas, dark brown eyes wide. She looked so vulnerable, like a lost little bird, but Castiel knew his expression was no less exposed. He tucked an errant curl behind Meg’s ear. Cas knew what the look in her eyes was. He knew the comfort she offered wasn’t just for his sake. Castiel bent and captured her lips in a kiss, slowly enough for her to pull away. She didn’t.

It wasn’t their first kiss, nor would it be their last, but it was vastly different from the rest. This was no frenzied, passionate make-out session in spare closets or supply tents, nor the adventures of quiet evenings and wandering hands. For the first time, Castiel thought they both sought not just a distraction from the real world, but genuine solace in each other’s arm.

“You’re sure? You’re sure this is okay?” Cas asked for the dozenth time, hovering over Meg’s flushed form. His shirt buttons were undone, his pants were halfway down his legs, and Meg’s shift was rumpled up nearly to her breasts. Castiel still couldn’t believe that it was about to happen. 

“Yes, gods, I already told you,” Meg said, with only an ounce of her usual tartness. “Go on—ah!” 

“Did I hurt you?” he asked anxiously, halfway sheathed into her silky warmth. Meg’s blackberry scent was still sweet, though, without any trace of discomfort or uncertainty.

“What? No,” she said, with a small laugh. “No, Cas—I was just surprised—Keep going, keep going—oh, Cas…”

Next was naught but a flurry of sensations to Castiel, lost as he was in the feeling of Meg’s body beneath his. She was so warm, so soft, so tight, and she made the rest of the world melt away. A breathless cry was wrenched from Castiel when he hit his peak. His whole body seemed to vibrate with the aftershock.

“Cas, roll over, you’re crushing me,” Meg said, tugging at Castiel’s hair. He complied with shaking arms, cock slipping out as he moved. 

“Hey, it’s alright. Shh, you’re okay. You’re alright. You did great,” Meg murmured. She threw her arms around him as far away as they would go, and Castiel realized that he was trembling. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAWRENCIAN HIGHLANDS, 1744

 

A rare warm breeze fluffed Castiel’s hair. He’d been skeptical when Dean suggested they eat their midday meal up here, away from the others, but now he was rather enjoying the weak sunshine, not to mention the bit of privacy.

“I thought we already discussed this,” Castiel said, leaning back onto his hands. He gave Dean a coy look, mostly to hide his amusement. “I told you that an asshole isn’t the same thing as a vagina, even in male omegas. I mean, you’ve gotten a close-up look. Did you see two holes down there?” 

Dean’s brows were scrunched adorably together. Cas had patiently explained the function of a cloaca to him, but Dean was still having trouble wrapping his head around that particular part of Castiel’s anatomy.

“So…does that mean that I really stuck my tongue up the same hole where you poop?” 

“When you put it that way, yes,” Cas said, reaching for the water skin. Dean dropped his last bite of jerky into the grass, eyes and mouth wide as a gaping trout. Castiel nearly choked on his sip of water.

“Why’re you laughing at me?” Dean asked indignantly. “Was there really shit down there?”

Cas pressed his lips together, shaking with silent laughter. He took a moment to collect himself, staring at the pretty blush in Dean’s cheeks.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I know this is all new to you. It’s strange for me, as well,” he said consolingly, taking one of Dean’s hands in his. Dean’s lips pursed into a pout that Castiel very much wanted to kiss away.

“Why don’t you explain about your not-asshole or whatever it is before I forgive you,” Dean grumped, but his other hand closed over Castiel’s, and his scent warmed again.

Cas repeated his explanation, even going so far as to scratch a simple diagram into the dirt with a stick. It wasn’t quite the same caliber as the drawings in Cas’ medical textbooks, but it would have to suffice.

“So you see, I do need to make sure I clean myself properly down there when I bathe—which is something people should do anyway—“ Cas said, tossing aside the twig he’d used, “—but the gist of it is that no, Dean, you are not in danger of accidentally touching fecal matter when we engage in intercourse.” 

“Same opening, different channel?” Dean asked, eyes bright with understanding.

“Precisely,” Castiel said proudly. Fucking hell, was Dean beautiful. The green of his eyes sparkled, his mouth quirked up in a half-smile, and his scent nearly made Cas’ mouth water.

“Oh. Well, that’s good, then, because I can’t seem to get enough of you,” Dean said, leaning close. “Gods, your scent, your taste…not just your slick, your cock too, even the salt of your sweat.” 

He crawled over Castiel with a playful expression, nudging his knees apart and placing feather-light kisses everywhere but Cas’ lips. Each spot tingled after Dean’s lips touched it, so that Castiel felt like there were electric currents on his cheeks and eyelids, under his jaw, even the tip of his nose. When Dean kissed the corner of his mouth, Castiel gasped, opening eyes he didn’t realize he had closed. 

Swift as a hawk swooping down on its prey, Dean hitched Castiel’s right leg over his shoulder. Slick began to leak from Cas’ hole. Dean’s nose twitched, pupils dilating at the honey-mint scent. He leaned in. Castiel, expecting a kiss, jolted at the feeling of Dean sticking something inside his boot.

“What are you doing?” 

Dean sat back on his haunches, allowing Cas’ leg to slide back to the ground. From a distance, it would have been anyone’s guess if they were about to wrestle or fuck. Castiel would have much preferred the latter of the two options. 

“I want to give you something,” Dean said, fiddling with whatever he had stuck in Castiel’s book. He withdrew his hand, twirling a small, silvery blade in his fingers, then offered it to Cas, handle-first. 

“It’s called a sgian dhu—hidden dagger,” Dean explained. “Most people keep them in their boots, or tucked into their stockings.” 

Cas took the knife, running his fingers over the thistle blooms engraved on the stag-antler handle. Whoever had carved it must have had excellent skills, as the entire dagger couldn’t have been more than six inches in length. Castiel turned the blade over, noticing the series of initials carved into the handle’s other side.

“Mary Sandra Campbell Winchester,” Dean said quietly, gazing down with a soft, thoughtful look in his eyes.

“Your mother?” 

“Yeah. My da gave it to her a long time ago, right after they mated. I think she would have wanted you to have it.” 

Castiel sat up, the better to meet Dean’s eyes. 

“Dean, I…I can’t accept this. This should be yours—”

“And now I’m giving it to you. I already talked to Sam about it and he agrees. You’re a Winchester. You should have it,” he said, cupping Castiel’s face with one hand. Dean’s words made Castiel’s heart glow.

“Thank you, Dean. Truly.” 

“Mom would have liked you, I can tell,” Dean said with a smile. He took the sgian dhu back, tucked it neatly into its sheath, and patted Castiel’s ankle. 

“Come here and kiss me already,” Cas practically growled. He gripped the lapels of Dean’s coat and pulled him back down, mashing their lips together. Dean ground back against him with equal fervor.

“I wanna suck you off,” Dean whispered in to his ear. 

Castiel nodded vigorously. Dean pulled back, mouthing at the bulge of Cas’ cock through his breeches until Castiel whimpered impatiently. He chuckled, then took the string of one of Cas’ laces between his teeth. 

There was a faint whoosh, then a thunk. Cas barely had time to look over at the arrow sticking out of the ground three feet away before Dean was crouching above him, one hand on Cas’ chest, the other on his dirk. His lips curled back in a silent snarl, fangs already beginning to descend. The scent of another alpha floated on the wind. Castiel’s whole body tensed, his earlier arousal forgotten. Then Dean suddenly let out a small laugh. 

He rose to his feet, extending a hand to help Castiel stand up. To Cas’ immense surprise, a slender brown-haired woman with a kind, pale face crested the top of the hill. She wore men’s breeches and coat, and had a brown and green plaid draped over her shoulders like a cloak. Her scent, though undeniably alpha, reminded Castiel pleasantly of some kind of herb. Sage, Cas thought, or maybe rosemary. 

Mo charaid! How are you?” Dean called, once the woman grew closer. He spoke somewhat slower than usual, as though he were making a conscious effort to speak as clearly as possible. When the woman answered his greeting with a series of hand gestures, rather than a verbal response, Cas thought he knew why. 

“I want you to meet someone,” Dean said, fairly bouncing on the balls of his feet. He put his arm around Cas’ shoulders and drew him forward. “This is Cas. My husband.” 

The woman gasped happily, and stuck her hand out for Cas to shake. 

“Nice to meet you,” she said, grinning broadly. Cas returned the handshake and the smile, then drew his hands back so the woman could see them clearly. 

“What’s your name?” he asked, signing as he spoke. The woman’s chocolate-brown eyes shone with delight. 

“Eileen Leahy,” she said. “What’s yours?”

Castiel carefully finger-spelled the letters in his name. 

“Or just ‘Cas,’” he said, smirking at the perplexed look on Dean’s face. Then he added, “My grandmother lost her hearing. She got tired of trying to read lips, so she made me learn to sign before she died.” 

“How long have you been married?” Eileen asked, with a polite but curious glance at the way Dean was hovering so close to Castiel’s personal space. 

“Only a week,” Dean answered happily. 

“Congratulations! Oh—” 

Eileen rummaged in the small pouch tied to her belt. She held out her hand, a small orangish stone in the center of her palm. Castiel took the stone, realizing as he did that it was a smoothed piece of amber. Right in the middle, suspended forever mid-flight, was a honeybee. 

“For you,” Eileen said. “A wedding gift. It matches your scent.” 

Castiel thanked her, half in awe at the kindness she showed to a stranger. He knew his honey scent was blossoming with joy. For once, he didn’t bother to suppress it. 

“So what brings you here? Did you see the others?” Dean asked, once he made sure Eileen was facing him once more. Either he didn’t know how to sign his question, or he was unwilling to let go of Castiel’s hand. Strange how their hands joined together so often, as if the appendages had minds of their own. 

“I did. Sam said you were up here. I’ve got news,” Eileen said. “There’s a man who claims to have witnessed your escape from Fort William. He might be able to clear your name. Come on, let’s go join the others.” 

Mac na galla. That’s incredible.” Dean’s green eyes were wide with surprise and delight. “If it’s true—Cas, I can finally go home. We can go home.” 

“That’s wonderful, Dean.” The man’s happiness was positively contagious. 

They followed Eileen back down the hill, hands still clasped tightly together. Once Eileen’s back was to them, Dean leaned close and whispered conspiratorially in Castiel’s ear. 

“Sam has a thing for her.” 

“Really?” 

Perhaps this was the female alpha Sam had spent some time with. They would make a cute couple, Castiel thought, even though Eileen was easily a foot shorter than Sam.

“Hey Cas…Do female alphas have—you know…?” Dean asked, letting his words trail off. 

“Have what?” Castiel raised an eyebrow.

“Uh. Dicks?” 

“Why don’t you ask Eileen?” 

Dean’s scent flared with panic for half a second. 

“Hell no! C’mon, Cas. You’re a healer. Tell me. Pleeeeeease,” he said, fluttering his eyelashes flirtatiously. 

Castiel glanced ahead. Eileen was nimbly picking a trail down the grassy slope, completely unaware of their conversation. It was better for Dean to know the facts, Castiel reasoned. 

“They don’t have ‘dicks’ like you and I do,” he explained. “Female alphas have what are called pseudo-penises. It’s more like an enlarged clitoris, and for vaginal intercourse to occur, it requires full cooperation of the alpha female. Unfortunately, their anatomy makes it difficult for alpha females to carry a pup full term, just like omega males.”

Cas refrained from adding a comparison to the spotted hyena. He didn’t know if the analogy would go over well, which was also why Castiel had avoided mentioning earlier that many birds and reptiles had cloacas. There was no need for Dean to start making jokes about farm animals and wild dogs. People were closer to beasts than they realized, though. They chose and marked their mates just like other creatures, safeguarded their young and fought to protect what was theirs. The only real difference was that people were the only species to engage in such brutal warfare against their own kind. A second world war had just ended, back in Castiel’s own time. Would there be a third by the time Cas got back—if he ever got back? He had already accepted Dean’s statement of them both going “home” without a thought to his own time.

“Hey,” Dean said, squeezing Castiel’s hand. “I told you it’s alright if you can’t have pups. You’re more than enough for me.” 

Cas started at him blankly for a moment before he realized that his scent had begun to sour. Dean must have thought that he was upset by the mention of difficult pregnancies. Castiel pulled Dean in for a quick kiss and a fleeting smile. There was no need for Cas to trouble him with his real thoughts. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INVERNESS, 1946

 

At least Balthazar had the good grace to shower before he showed his face downstairs again. The beta had spent the greater part of the last week drowning his sorrows in the various pubs that Inverness had to offer, refusing Gabriel and Charlie’s requests to come back. Finally, an off-duty police officer had taken pity on Balthazar and driven his drunken ass back to Gabriel’s house at three o’clock that morning. 

Gabriel had rolled Balthazar onto his side, plopped a waste basket next to his bed, and informed him that under no circumstances was he to so much as look at another bottle of alcohol until he had slept off his current bender. Balthazar had then focused his bloodshot eyes on Gabriel with tremendous effort, told him to go do something to himself with a fire hose that sounded extremely unpleasant, and vomited. 

“Good morning,” Gabriel said, in his most obnoxiously chipper voice. Balthazar cringed at the volume of his words, but accepted a fresh cup of coffee with a passably polite word of thanks. 

“I’m surprised to see you awake before noon,” Gabriel commented, looking over the top of his newspaper.

“Yes, well,” Balthazar replied stiffly, “I thought it would be best. It appears that I have overextended your hospitality, and my welcome here in Inverness.” 

Balthazar set his coffee cup down and took such a deep breath, he might have been steadying himself to meet a firing squad.

“I’m leaving this afternoon,” he said. 

“You’re joking.” 

Gabriel set the newspaper aside without really looking at it, accidentally folding it the wrong way.

“I am not. It’s time for me to go back to Elysium. A contact of mine has arranged an interview for me down at Oxford, and I think it’s high time that I moved on with my life.” 

Gabriel stared at him for a full thirty seconds before he spoke, voice strained with disbelief. 

“Why are you talking like Cas is dead?” 

Balthazar barked a short, humorless laugh. 

“Because he’s already lost to me. Dead, time-travelled, remarried—whichever way it is—Castiel is gone. As much as I wish it were otherwise, he’s not coming back.” 

He leaned back in his chair, refusing to meet Gabriel’s eye. The barest amount of his scent curdled unpleasantly, just as it had when Charlie had showed them Cas’ marriage license. Something clicked in Gabriel’s brain. 

“You love him.”

“He’s my oldest friend. Of course I love him.” 

“No, it’s more than that. You’re in love with Castiel.” 

There was a pause while Balthazar drummed his fingers absently on the kitchen table. 

“I thought my feelings for him had passed. I knew what our marriage was—I was the one who had proposed it, who had suggested our arrangement,” he said, frowning slightly. “Then the war ended, and I saw him again, and it all came rushing back. I thought maybe we could start things anew. But he was not the same Castiel whom I had befriended in my youth. War and time had changed him. He had loved another and lost her. More than that, he was…different. Not just older and wiser. Castiel was more…Castiel. He had grown into his own person, a different person, one that I didn’t recognize. But I still loved him. Now he is truly gone, and there’s nothing I can do. I can’t spend my days waiting for a man who might never want me back.” 

Gabriel simply nodded, stunned at Balthazar’s candor. The man could talk circles around the nosiest gossiper or an overenthusiastic auctioneer, but this was the first time he had ever said something so real. 

“I’ll call you when I get down to Oxford. Say good-bye to Charlie for me, will you? I’d do it myself, but she’d just try and convince me to stay. I’d rather not explain myself again, not just now,” Balthazar said.  

He got to his feet, pushed in his chair, and made to leave.

“Balthazar.” 

The beta paused at the sound of his name. 

“If Cas does return…will you come back for him?” 

Balthazar gave Gabriel a wan smile. 

“If Castiel wants me to be there, then I will be there. He has always been my friend. Time will never change that.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAWRENCIAN HIGHLANDS, 1744

 

The tree bark scratched the back of Castiel’s head, snarling his hair into even further disarray. He clutched at Dean’s shoulders, biting his bottom lip to keep from crying out. Dean’s head bobbed rapidly. He paused, swallowed, and curled his fingers. Slick trickled past his hand down Castiel’s thighs. Dean pulled off him, then lifted the hem of his kilt, exposing his own erection. Cas groaned. 

“Do you want this, aingeal?” Dean teased, palming himself. “Do you want to feel me inside of you, filling you up?” 

“Yes,” Cas moaned. “Yes, I want you, I want your cock inside of me.” 

Dean leapt to his feet, eyes gleaming, and spun Castiel around. Cas braced his arms against the tree, fingers clenching the rough bark as Dean sheathed himself inside. 

“So wet for me,” Dean purred. “So tight.” 

Castiel mewled at Dean’s praise, inner muscles spasming. Dean circled his hips, the tip of his cock just brushing the edge of Cas’ prostate.

“Well? Are you going to fuck me, or not?” Castiel asked, relishing the way Dean’s cock throbbed inside of him. 

“Maybe if you ask nicely,” Dean said, sucking kisses into his neck. 

“Alpha,” Cas whined. 

Dean’s hip bucked, and he gripped Castiel’s waist tightly to steady himself. 

“Fuck me,” Cas demanded. “Fuck me so hard I can’t walk after, fuck me until you fill me up with your seed—fuck me, Dean, alpha, please.” 

Dean swore, pistoning his hips, fucking into Cas with reckless abandon. The world narrowed down to the feel of Dean’s body pressed against him, the obscene sound of flesh slapping against flesh, and the heat building deep within him. 

“Someone’s going to hear you,” Dean chided, panting, but then he changed the angle of his hips to hit Castiel’s prostrate with every thrust, a move he knew would make Cas cry out louder. The nerve of that man. Well, two could play at that game.

“Maybe I want them to hear how good you’re fucking me.” 

Dean growled, teeth clamping onto Castiel’s shoulder. He picked up his pace, slamming home with extraordinary force. His breath quickened, and his hands began to shake. Dean was close, but Castiel was closer. He just needed a little more to tip him over the edge. 

“Dean—“

The click of a hammer being drawn back made them both freeze. Through the fog of arousal, Castiel’s nose picked up the strange scents of two unknown men, one alpha, one beta. 

“You do fuck him good,” one of the strangers said. From the rough timbre of his voice, it must have been the alpha. “But I bet I can fuck him better.” 

Cold air hit Castiel’s back as Dean was wrenched away from him. The beta male held a pistol to his throat, forcing his head back unnaturally. Dean’s scent amplified with anger and fear. The alpha shoved Castiel backwards. Cas stumbled against the breeches still pooled around his ankles, helpless to stop his fall. His head smacked against a tree root.

“No!” Dean yelled, voice cutting through Castiel’s panic and pain. The beta struck his pistol against Dean’s temple. 

The strange alpha tore Castiel’s boots off. Cas kicked wildly against the alpha’s grip, desperately trying to keep his breeches on. The alpha growled and backhanded Castiel across the face. He could taste the salt-and-iron tang of blood on his own lips. Dizzily, Cas noticed something shining amidst the leaves near his right hand. His fingers twitched.

“You fucking touch him again, I’ll fucking kill you,” Dean snarled, distracting the other alpha. Castiel clenched his fist tight against cold metal, just before the alpha’s hand closed tight against his throat. 

“Shut up and watch, or I’ll kill your pretty omega bitch before you can lay a finger on me. And you—” he said, leering down at Castiel, “—stay still, unless you want my friend there to blow that pathetic excuse of an alpha’s head off.” 

The pressure on Castiel’s throat lessened. He coughed, head rushing at the influx of oxygen to his brain. Over the alpha’s shoulder, Cas caught Dean’s eyes. Castiel nodded, and mouthed it’s okay. 

As if from a distance, he could hear the high-pitched sound of Dean whining. The stench of strange alpha so close to Cas’ nose was cloying. He could feel the blunt pressure of the man’s erection against his thighs, too close to his tightly-clenched hole. The man leaned forward. Right before he shoved in, Castiel plunged Mary Winchester’s knife into his neck. 

Wide, disbelieving eyes stared down at Castiel. He pulled his blade free, drenching them with arterial blood. Cas had enough time to register that the fabric of the man’s coat was already red before he heard the bang of a gun. He shoved the dying alpha aside to see Dean wrangling the smoking pistol away from the other redcoat, then ram his dirk into the man’s belly. The beta had barely hit the ground before Dean’s arms surrounded Castiel, lifting him up with their alpha strength, and spirited him away. 

“Cas! M’aingeal, are you alright? Did he—?”

“No, no,” Castiel said, dazedly shaking his head. Since when were they leaning against a boulder? “Are you hurt?” 

“I’m fine. Cas—”

But the rest of his words were choked off by Castiel smashing their lips together. 

“Dean, fuck me. Please, alpha,” he begged.

His hole, so tight just a moment ago, was loose and wet again. An overpowering urge to be filled consumed him. Dean slammed himself inside, over and over again until Cas keened, spilling untouched between their closely pressed bodies. Dean followed not moments after, chanting Castiel’s name like a prayer. 

The snapping of a twig made Castiel’s body lock up. Dean swiveled his head, growling so loudly it might have been a howl. 

“A Dhia!” a familiar voice cried. “Dean, what the hell? Right here in the open?” 

Castiel’s eyes focused slowly onto Sam’s tall frame, his face pulled into a grimace of distaste. Dean tried to pull back, then froze, hissing, as his knot tugged on Castiel’s rim. Cas’ brain didn’t register the sting of his protesting muscle. He didn’t remember being knotted. He could barely feel the cold stone against his back.

“Really, Dean? The hell were you thinking? Anyone could have come across you out here!” 

Someone began to laugh hysterically. It wasn’t until Dean gripped the hairs on the back of Castiel’s head tight that Cas realized it was him. 

“Castiel! Look at me, omega mine,” Dean ordered. Cas fell silent. “They’re dead. They can’t hurt you. You’re alright. You’re safe.” 

Castiel nodded numbly at Dean’s words. He could hear Sam speaking, voice muffled as though they were under water. 

“Dean? Who’s dead? What happened?”

Footsteps shook the ground. Several plaid-covered figures emerged from the trees. 

“We heard a shot—” one of them started to say. 

“Stay back!” Sam called. The figures halted in their tracks.

“Godsdammit—Sam, get me a fucking blanket or something!” Dean barked over his shoulder.

There was a flurry of movement behind him. Dean sank carefully to the ground, sitting cross-legged so that Castiel straddled his lap. Someone threw them a cloak. Dean tugged it snugly over them. The cloth smelled like rosemary and vanilla. Castiel could feel a heart pounding. He wondered if it was his own, or if it were Dean’s. 

“No, godsdammit, I can’t go, we’re still tied,” Dean was saying to someone. “Follow our scent—you’ll find the bodies—I think they were redcoat deserters—”

Castiel’s hands were clammy and shaking. He couldn’t grab hold of Dean properly. 

“Cas? Aingeal?” 

He looked up. Dean was staring at him with a guarded expression, and Cas had the feeling that Dean had said his name more than once. The disjointed way time moved around Castiel finally made sense. He was in shock. 

“I’m in shock,” he whispered. 

“Tell me what to do.” 

Castiel shook his head. He couldn’t remember. He felt so cold.

“Aingeal? Stay with me, omega mine. Tell me what to do,” Dean repeated. 

“Hold me,” he said. 

Dean wrapped his arms around Castiel, murmuring words of comfort. It didn’t matter what language he was speaking in; Castiel couldn’t understand him either way. He was still trembling uncontrollably. 

As he came back to himself, a single thought rang through Cas’ head, clear as a bell. Castiel had believed that he was safe. He had been with Dean. He had been with his alpha. Cas was supposed to have been safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CRAIG NA DUN, 1946

 

The engine idled for a full ten minutes before Balthazar summoned the courage to get out the car. He trekked up the hill, heart lodged somewhere high in his throat. The standing stones were as proudly mysterious as they were on the morning of Samhain. This time, though, Balthazar was truly alone. 

He sniffed the air, desperate for a trace of Castiel’s scent. Unsurprisingly, there was nothing. Even if Balthazar’s nose were as attuned to pheromones as alpha or an omega, there wouldn’t be anything left. He sighed heavily, cursing himself for a fool. Balthazar turned to leave. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. 

Balthazar whirled back around, every nerve on edge. With a boldness he didn’t know he had, Balthazar strode straight to the tallest stone. He extended his hands. The lichen-covered stone was cool beneath his palms. 

“Castiel?” 

Nothing answered. Even the wind was still. Tears began to fall freely down Balthazar’s face. 

“Good-bye, Cas,” he whispered, and let his hands fall back down to his sides. Balthazar turned and walked away. 

He climbed back into the car and wiped his eyes, not noticing that the lingering scent of ozone was on his hands. Balthazar drove away without looking in his rearview mirror, dreading the sight of what he knew he would not see.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAWRENCIAN HIGHLANDS, 1744

 

“I think I’ve proved that I’m more than capable of handling myself.” 

“Please, aingeal. Just for a few hours.” 

Cas’ eyes turned to pure steel.

“‘I would not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honor more,’” Cas recited, then muttered something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like “righteous fucker.”

The omega refused to meet Dean’s gaze when he promised he would return soon. His face could have been carved from marble, it was so stony. Cas hadn’t so much as blinked an eye when Dean kissed him on the cheek in farewell. 

“Something on your mind, Winchester? Missing your new mate, perhaps?”

The clipped, refined voice of Arthur Ketch, formerly of the Elysian army, grated on Dean’s ears and nerves.

“I’m not mated,” he said sharply. Castiel had made that abundantly clear.

“You’re my husband, not my mate, even if you are an alpha,” he had said, glaring daggers up at Dean. “You have no right to order me to stay behind. I’m no safer alone with a pair of guards than I am by your side, so what difference does it make if I meet your godsdamn contact?” 

“Tell that to your scent. You reek of pining alpha,” Ketch drawled.

Sam placed a hand on Dean’s shoulder, stifling the growl threatening to erupt. Cas’ words still stung hours later, like someone had stuck a harpoon inside Dean’s chest, but hadn’t bothered to finish ripping out his heart. Dean had been on edge ever since they had ridden away from the clearing, leaving Cas behind with Garth and Eileen.

“We brought you your money, Ketch. Give us the name,” Sam requested. 

The Elysian alpha weighed the leather purse in his hands. His manicured hands and polished boots looked very out of place here in the woods.

“Mick Davies,” he finally said.

“Where do we find him?”

“In a mass grave outside the prison, I expect.” Ketch shrugged, like he didn’t have a care in the world. “Davies was the man who was shot while you were trying to escape.”

“Great, because that helps us so much. Who shot him?” Dean demanded.

“You’re not going to like it.” 

“Well, I’m already pissed off. Go ahead,” Dean said, gesturing widely in invitation.

“Morningstar.”

Dean blinked. 

“You saw Lucifer shoot one of his men?” Sam asked, equally in disbelief.

“No. I heard him give the order, and I saw Davies die. Morningstar framed you.”

Dean’s heart thumped twice. He took a step forward.

“I want my money back.”

“Dean—”

“No, Sam!” He spun around, breaking Sam’s grip on his arm. “We came all this way for nothing. That bastard ain’t getting a penny.”

“I do have other information that might interest you,” Ketch called out. The smug bastard still looked perfectly composed, like this was all just a game to him. How dare he treat Dean’s freedom like something trivial.

“Yeah? Is it your preference of which body parts you’d like to keep after I’m done with you?”

A Dhia, Dean! I get that he’s acting like a smarmy dick, but just listen to him, alright?”

Sam forced himself in front of his brother, physically blocking him from getting any closer to Ketch. He might have a couple inches on Dean, but Dean was an alpha. He could rip him limb for limb if he wanted. The thought chilled him. Sam would never put himself at risk like that. If he were trying to get Dean to listen, there must be a good reason.

“Fine,” Dean spat. “What’s your information, asshat?”

“There’s no need to be rude.”

Dean narrowed his eyes. He didn’t have time for this.

“Please tell us your information, asshat.”

Ketch sighed, then evidently decided that this was the best he could get for now.

“I believe you’re acquainted with a certain duke up in Needham. I have it on good authority that he loathes Morningstar with a fiery passion, and there are rumors that he’s sympathetic towards the-how do you phrase it?—the ‘king over the water.’”

Ketch’s dark eyebrows raised. Dean couldn’t decide if he was amused, or if he was trying to emphasize his point.

“Crowley is a Jacobite?” Sam asked. 

“It’s very likely. But it is certain that no Elysian lord hates Morningstar as much as he,” Ketch replied.

“Fuck me sideways,” Dean muttered. “Crowley?”

“I know,” Sam said, sounding very much like he would like to swear as well. Dean frowned.

“I don’t wanna work with that motherfucking piece of shit on a stick.”

Ketch actually laughed.

“My, do you have a colorful vocabulary,” he said. “Wherever did you pick it up?”

“My husband,” Dean replied, gritting the words out between his teeth.

“Ah.” Ketch nodded, like he thought he understood. “An alpha-alpha marriage? So rare.”

“Not that it matters, but he’s an omega.”

“Gods,” Ketch said, eyes wide. “That’s absolutely fascinating. I would love to meet your husband some day.”

This time, Dean didn’t bother to hide his growl. 

“Over my dead body. You’ve earned your money. Now go.”

When they had finally seen Ketch’s figure disappear over the horizon, the clansmen remounted their horses and began to ride back to where the others were waiting. Several times, Sam tried to engage Dean in conversation, but eventually he gave it up as a bad job and let Dean stew in his juices. Dean was so distracted that he almost didn’t catch the sound of pounding hooves until the rider was upon them. 

Eileen’s brown eyes were wide with terror. She dismounted the horse and ran straight for them. It took Dean a moment to realize that Eileen had been riding Baby. His heart plummeted. He tumbled from the saddle of his borrowed horse and charged towards Eileen, gripping her so tightly by the arms that he nearly knocked her to the ground. 

“Cas—he wandered off—I didn’t notice until it was too late, and Garth had gone off in the bushes to relieve himself—”

“What do you mean, he wandered off? What happened?” Dean bellowed. If he’d been thinking straight, he would have admired how well Eileen kept her cool. 

“I don’t know,” she said, shaking her head. “I just turned my head for a second, but when I looked back, he was gone. I’m so sorry, I should have been paying better attention—” 

“It doesn’t matter. Did you see where Cas went? Did you pick up his trail?” 

Eileen nodded. “I sent Garth to follow it while I came to warn you. His scent led southeast—”

“Southeast? Towards Inverness?” 

“No, it looked like he was going towards Craig Na Dun.” 

“The standing stones?” Dean asked, bewildered. “Why the hell would he go there?” 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

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.

“You’re sorry?”

“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.

“Dean—” 

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. 

Ifrinn! 

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. 

“Dean? Dean!” 

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.” 

Dean hesitated. 

“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?” 

“Yes, I—Dean!” 

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. 

“Wait—” 

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. 

“Halt!” 

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.” 

Castiel nodded. 

“Three…two…” Dean counted. He squeezed Castiel’s hand tight. “One!”

They leapt. 

 


 

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?” 

“Forgiven.” 

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.” 

“You did?”   

“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.

“Bullshit.” 

“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. 

“Dean?” 

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?” 

“Yes.” 

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.” 

“Maybe later.” 

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…” 

“Wait—almost—” 

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.

 

 

Chapter Text

 


 

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

 


 

 

 

BEINN GEAL, 1722

 

“Patience, mo chridhe. 

Dean tried very hard not squirm, but it was just too exciting. He peered up at his mother with wide eyes.

“How long?” he asked. 

Mary chuckled. Dean stretched out his chubby little arm, searching for bits of fruit or dough to snack on. His mother handed him a leftover apple slice, warned him not to spoil his supper, and tousled his hair affectionately. 

“How long?” Dean repeated, mid-chew. 

“I’ve just set the pie to bake, honey. Have patience.” 

Dean frowned. Pie was his most favorite thing in the world. Except for when Da would take him out to see the horses with their shiny coats. Or when his mother would sing to him at bedtime. But soon there would be something even better than pie. Dean clambered off the stool, tottered over, and put a tiny hand on Mary’s belly.

“Not the pie,” he explained. “The pup. How long will it bake in your tummy?” 

His mother began to laugh as though what he had said was very funny. Dean didn’t understand the joke.

“Oh, sweetheart,” she said, taking his hand. “That’s not how it works.” 

“How does it work?” Dean asked petulantly. He was very close to pouting, even if he didn’t understand why.

“Well…when mates…” Mary said, thoughtfully. “When mates love each other very much, they sometimes have so much love that it—it overflows, and then a pup grows.” 

“Grows?” Dean wondered. “Like apples?” 

“I suppose, yes,” Mary nodded.

Dean nodded sagely. Grandma Millie had explained to him how apples grew just the other day. You had to carefully put a seed into the ground, pat the dirt over it gently, and give it water, but not too much water. And then, before long, green leaves would shoot out of the soil, and grow bigger and bigger until it was became a tree taller than Da’s horse.

“Do you have pup seeds or does Da?” 

“Um…your Da does. Men and alphas do. You will too, someday.” 

“And then I’ll grow my own pup?” Dean asked, putting his hands over his tummy. He scrunched his nose at the thought of an apple sprouting in his belly. It sounded very uncomfortable.

“No, Dean. Your mate will do the growing.” 

“Oh.” 

Dean sighed gratefully. 

“Then I’ll have another friend to play with!” he realized. “You, and Da, and the pup, and my mate! And our pup!”

Mary’s smile was as bright as the midday sun. Dean could feel his mother’s affection shining down upon him.

“That’s a long ways away, mo chridhe. But you’ll love someone someday just as much as your Da and I love each other,” she promised. “Maybe even more.” 

“A best mate?” Dean gasped. “Bestest mates!” 

“True mates,” Mary corrected. She knelt down and gathered Dean into her arms. He tried to not squash her belly too much. 

“You’ll fall in love one day. And with luck, you’ll find your true mate,” Mary told him. 

Dean grinned against her apron. He still didn’t really get what a true mate was, but Mary’s scent had sweetly blossomed with the fragrance of fresh cherries. If his mother was happy, then so was Dean. 

“Don’t worry, mo chridhe,” Mary said, stroking his hair. “Angels are watching over you.” 

 

 


 

 

 

KATHMANDU, 1931

 

Castiel curled into a ball, and the springs of the tiny hospital bed squeaked obnoxiously as he moved. The sound grated on Cas’ already flayed nerves. Someone spoke with hushed voices in the hallway. One voice sounded calm and normal. The other, the one that belonged to Castiel’s uncle, was higher and more panicky than Cas had ever heard. 

Another wave of cramping pain seized Castiel low in his belly. He tried to pull himself even further into the fetal position, but it didn’t help any. His thighs grew distressingly damp again, and Cas wrinkled his nose at the sugary, honey-mint smell. If he hadn’t already checked himself three dozen times, he would have stuck his hand under the sheets again. He knew the strange substance wasn’t blood, urine, or fecal matter. Castiel was still clueless as to why his anus would secrete clear, shiny fluid. Although, perhaps that was why there was a plasticky cover on his mattress.

Someone knocked lightly on the door. The bright lighting of the hospital hallway shone into Castiel’s lonely room. He resisted the urge to hiss at the glaring light. Whoever had entered the room shut the door quietly, and when they turned around, Cas caught the whiff of something flowery in the air. 

“You’re my physician?” Castiel rasped. 

“I am,” the woman nodded. “You may call me Kali, or simply ‘doctor.’” 

Her white coat swung as she walked, kicking up the strength of her scent. She didn’t look at all offended when Castiel hitched the sheet up over his nose. 

“Your olfactory glands are going to be over-sensitive for the next couple of days. But don’t worry, my scent will fade soon after I’ve left the room.” 

She set two white paper cups on Castiel’s bedside table, then retreated a few feet from the bed. Cautiously, Cas poked his head out from the sheet. 

“Your scent. Orchids and woodsmoke,” he guessed. His throat felt so scratchy, he barely recognized his own voice. It sounded far too deep for an almost fifteen-year-old.

“Very good,” the doctor said, nodding approvingly. “Now, Castiel. Do you understand what’s happening to your body?” 

“No. Am I dying?” 

Kali’s red lips twitched up in a humorless smile. 

“Far from it. You’re in heat. I take it you know what that means?” she asked, as Castiel let his head flop back against the wimpy pillow.

“Yes,” he groaned. 

“We’d like to keep you here for the duration of your first heat. To be perfectly frank, I don’t think your uncle really knows how a cycle works.” 

“He doesn’t,” Castiel agreed. 

Chuck had been downright hysterical when Cas, terrified and confused, woke him up in the middle of the snowy night and begged him to take him to a hospital. The beta had been just as bewildered as Castiel had been—still was, in many ways.

“I thought—Never mind.” 

“If you have questions, you should ask.” 

Cas scrubbed a hand over his sweaty face, then sighed. 

“I had hoped that since I had gone so long without going into—before this—” he said, gesturing limply with his uncovered hand, “—that I might be spared the inconvenience.” 

As if to demonstrate, his abdomen cramped again. This time Cas couldn’t hold back his pitiful whimper of pain. Once the worst of it passed, Kali coaxed him into sitting up and taking the medicine she had brought him. Castiel was vaguely aware of how the doctor never directly touched his skin. It must be a heat thing, he thought.

“Being an omega is not an inconvenience,” Kali said. Her eyes fairly glowed with intensity, though her voice remained calm. “You will learn how to manage the symptoms of your heat and how to track your cycles. But listen to me, Castiel. Nothing and no one will hold you back unless you let them.” 

Cas shivered. He told himself it was the fever reducer taking effect over his body temperature. 

“You’re an omega,” he stated. “And a physician.” 

“I am. Because I didn’t let something like my gender status keep me from being what I was meant to be.” 

The spasms in Castiel’s belly began to recede as his pain pills kicked in. A dull, burning ache took the place of his cramps. Fresh waves of fluid coated Cas’ thighs. The doctor backed away.

“You’ll continue to produce more slick over the course of your cycle. It’s important that you stay hydrated. I’ve also brought you some heat aides if you want to make use of them,” Kali said, setting a flat, hard plastic case on the bedside table. “There are some instructional pamphlets, but I daresay your instincts will guide you well enough.” 

“Thank you,” Cas muttered, blushing furiously. He knew intellectually what dildos and plugs were, even if he had no practical knowledge of their use.

“Oh, one more thing.” Kali turned, right before she left the room. “If you leave here with one piece of advice, let it be this: Just because you’re an omega, doesn’t mean you have to be meek and obedient. You’re still a person. Don’t forget that.” 

“Thank you,” Castiel repeated, clearly and sincerely this time. 

Kali gave him a genuine smile, then left Cas to discover the joys of masturbation in solitude. 

“Oh dear,” Castiel said to himself, examining a thick, black, rubbery dildo. The fake knot at the base looked roughly the same size as a ripe peach. Perhaps he ought to start with his fingers.  

 

 


 

 

 

LEOCH, 1744

 

Warm lips brushed the nape of Castiel’s neck, familiar and fleeting. The corners of Cas’ mouth turned up, and his scent grew sweeter.

“Dean…”

The kisses increased, spreading to the side of Castiel’s neck, nipping up beneath his ear. Castiel felt the curling tendrils of arousal rise low in his belly. 

“If you don’t stop, I’ll start to slick,” he murmured. 

The sway of Dean’s hips as the horse moved beneath them was difficult enough to ignore. Castiel knew now what it was like to have the alpha’s bare chest pressed against his back, to feel his thighs burn yet relentlessly keep rocking back as Dean thrust forward. As if Dean could read his thoughts, the alpha sucked Cas’ earlobe into his mouth. 

“Dean!” he hissed. 

“Hmm?” He moved to a spot lower on Castiel’s neck.

“Unless you want both of us smelling like my slick—ah! Oh…oh, gods,” Cas moaned. He clenched his hole tight against the burgeoning wetness. Dean’s teeth caught against Cas’ skin as he pulled away. 

“If you insist,” he chuckled. Castiel let his head loll against Dean’s shoulder. 

“I changed my mind,” he said, right in Dean’s ear. “How about you just fuck me, right now?” 

Dean’s hips bucked and he sucked in a breath involuntarily. 

“As much as I would like that, I think Baby might disagree. Besides, we’re here, look.” 

Reluctantly, Castiel lifted his head. The sweetness in his scent dissipated. 

“It’s alright, aingeal. You’re not alone,” Dean whispered, tightening the arm around Castiel’s waist. 

Baby’s hooves echoed against the flagstones. A fine mist of rain hung in the air like thin fog. Only a few people were milling about in the courtyard, busily going about their routines. Sam and the others were uncharacteristically silent behind them. Castiel glanced up at the castle’s stone walls. A bald-headed face appeared in one of the windows. From this distance, Cas couldn’t tell if Samuel were scowling, though he would wager good money that he was.

Dean helped him off the great black horse. He brushed the back of his hand along Castiel’s cheek, then swept the inside of his wrist over the pulse point of the omega’s neck. Cas smiled at the gesture, even though there was no practical need for Dean to scent-mark him. No one would be able to get within five feet of him without being able to tell that they had begun to bond. 

“And here I thought your nuptials were just gossip,” a gruff voice called. The stable master had a hint of pride in his oaky scent.

Dean gathered the old alpha in a bone-crushing hug. Bobby returned the embrace with several manly thumps on the back. He pulled back, smile melting into a scowl, then flicked Dean on the ear.

“Idjit. The hell were you thinking, brawling with Cain like that?” he accused. Dean gave him a sheepish grin. 

“Easy,” Sam said in Castiel’s ear. “Your scent.” 

Cas repressed the protective urges welling up inside of him. Dean was a grown man, Bobby was like family to him, and there was no need for Castiel to get defensive.

“I didn’t have a choice, Bobby,” Dean insisted. 

“Uh-huh. Well, get on inside, all of you,” the old alpha ordered affectionately. “Give Ellen a chance to fuss over you. Garth, take a bath before you see Bess, for gods’ sake. Ash, get a haircut. Eileen, good to see you again. And Castiel?”

Bobby’s smile was nearly masked by his greying beard, but his eyes twinkled for all to see.

“Welcome back,” he said. 

Dean pressed a slightly less-than-chaste kiss on Cas’ cheek, twined their fingers together, and led him in to the Great Hall. The carved oaken doors swept open, and a barrage of cheers and excited scents hit Castiel like a freight train. He pressed himself closer to Dean, the better to feel the alpha’s comforting warmth and cinnamon aroma. Ever since he had internally resolved to confide everything to Dean, Castiel’s nerves had been on edge. All of his senses were working in overdrive.

“Hooray!” the crowd called, applauding and wolf-whistling. 

“Welcome home,” Ellen said, rushing forward. “Well done!” 

She gave each of them a peck on the cheek. Ellen’s nose twitched minutely.

Fìor paidhir ghràdh. I knew it,” she smiled. Her buttery scent swelled with delight. Dean scrubbed his free hand on the back of his neck. Before Cas could ask what Ellen had said, a hush fell over the Great Hall.

The laird stood rigidly at the top of the steps, gazing imperiously down at the gathered crowd. His steely eyes didn’t have to search long before they caught sight of Dean and Castiel at the very heart of the group.

“Congratulations to you both,” he announced, voice carrying steadily into the hall. Only the tightness of his hand atop his cane belied his calm expression. Samuel inclined his head stiffly towards Castiel.

“My profound good wishes for a long and happy marriage, Omega of Beinn Geal.”

“It’s your title, Cas,” Dean whispered, amongst the scattering of polite applause. Castiel inclined his head politely, refusing to look away until the laird was distracted by Sam introducing him to Eileen. 

A whiff of caramel hit Castiel’s nose a split-second before Dean jerked his hand away.

Dè an ifrinn?” Dean griped, rubbing his arm. He scowled down at a petite blonde omega on his other side. Cas thought she looked vaguely familiar.

“Why?” the young woman demanded, hands on hips. In contrast to the rest of her posture, her deep brown eyes shone with mirth. 

“Why the hell didn’t you invite me to your wedding?” she demanded, punching Dean on the arm again.

“Hey!” he protested. Cas could barely see the rueful smile on his husband’s face, or detect that there was more amusement in his scent than pain or anger. A low, rumbling sound was rapidly filling Cas’ ears.

“It’s a long story, but it’ll have to wait. Samuel will—” Dean broke off, peering at Castiel in concern. “Cas? Aingeal? 

Dean set a hand on Castiel’s shoulder, and the growl that had revved up inside of him ceased. That was twice in the last few minutes that Cas’ protective instincts had nearly gotten the best of him.

“Sorry. I—I don’t know where that came from,” he apologized. To his surprise, the blonde didn’t appear offended at all. 

“It’s ‘cause Dean’s an idiot,” she said, rolling her eyes. She crossed her arms and stared the alpha down. “Introduce us, go on.” 

Dean returned the eye roll, but he placed a hand on Castiel’s back, then puffed up importantly.

“Castiel, omega mine, may I present Ellen’s daughter, Johanna Beth Harvelle?” Dean said, with an overly-formal air. 

“It’s Jo. And it’s nice to actually meet you properly, Castiel,” the other omega said, smiling. 

“I set your wrist, during the Gathering,” Cas remembered suddenly. He had told Harry and Ed off for trying to make it seem like the sprain was Jo’s fault for playing a game of shinty with a bunch of alphas.

“Yeah, thanks again. It’s as good as new,” Jo grinned. Her caramel-sweet scent remained steady, and free of hostility, so Castiel took the chance to apologize again.

“I’m sorry, really. I really don’t know what came over me,” he said, as contritely as he could without dropping his eyes. 

“Don’t worry about it,” she shrugged. “Gods know I’ve behaved worse, even without a mate, right before my—”

“Dean!”

Sam shoved his way through the crowd, interrupting whatever Jo was about to say. 

“Samuel wants to see us. All three of us,” the beta said, with a significant look. Castiel subconsciously squeezed Dean’s hand tighter. 

 

 


 

 

Dean watched warily as his grandfather stumped back and forth across his study. Agitation rolled off the old alpha in waves. His leathery scent turned acrid. Out of the corner of his eye, Dean saw Cas wrinkle his nose.

“Now. Which one of you would like to explain about Fort William? Is Clan Campbell going to have to answer for your little raid?” Samuel barked. 

“No. The law cannot condemn a man for protecting his mate. Castiel was kidnapped. Alistair tried to torture him. Dean had every right to do what he did,” Sam explained patiently. His namesake halted his disgruntled pacing, dark brows narrowed. 

“An Elysian officer is dead.” 

“He attacked us,” Dean spoke up. “I was acting in self-defense.” 

Samuel made a small hmmpf sound under his breath, but he didn’t argue. Instead, he changed tactics, stony eyes flicking between his grandsons. Castiel might have been invisible. 

“And as for the money you and my brother collected—Did you really think I wouldn’t find out?”

Sam frowned, cherry vanilla scent souring, as he opened his mouth to protest. 

“Yes, I know it was his idea,” Samuel interrupted, flapping a hand dismissively. “Whatever involvement you had, you still assisted him. I’ve already heard my brother’s impassioned defense of the Jacobite cause. I don’t need to hear your excuses, just your submission.” 

The old alpha stared them down. Sam, ever the tactful one, was the first to nod. Dean followed. To his surprise, Samuel directed his glare next at Castiel. Ah, Dean thought. There it was. The old bastard was smart enough to know that even though Cas was married now, the omega still had a stubborn independent streak. Dean felt a thrill of pride towards his husband.

Samuel leaned against the side of his desk, sighing heavily. He sounded genuinely apologetic when he spoke. 

“You must leave Leoch for a time.” 

Dean bristled at once. 

“This is Cain’s doing,” he said, hands balling into fists. Samuel’s expression grew wearier.

“As I once told your new husband: My brother keeps his own council. I’m sending Cain away as well, to cool his head, but I cannot have you here while he is not. He swore my fealty. You didn’t.” 

“We’ve still given you our loyalty,” Dean argues. 

“Which is why I will speak to Lord Crowley on your behalf,” Samuel informed him. “He might be persuaded to help your cause. I know he’s sympathetic to the Stuarts—or the highland clans, at least.”

Dean clamped his jaw shut to resist arguing further. Really, what should he have expected? Samuel didn’t like it when people actually used their brains and thought for themselves, not when those thoughts were contrary to his own. Dean should probably just be grateful that the son of a bitch was still willing to help him at all.

“In the meantime, I suggest you return to Beinn Geal,” his grandfather continued. “You will leave within the week. Anyone who wishes to accompany you is free to do so. When this has passed, you are all welcome to return to Leoch.” 

“This isn’t what our mother would have wanted,” Sam protested. 

“Mary isn’t here. We’ll never know what she would have wanted.” 

Samuel’s words were as bitter as his scent, but the old man seemed deflated. Dean turned to leave. Something in Castiel’s face stopped him. His eyes were deep and determined, the exact shade of blue as the sea after a storm. 

“Campbell.” 

Sam froze with his hand on the doorknob. Dean half-expected their grandfather to snap at Castiel for speaking out of turn, but no rebuke came, so Cas kept speaking. 

“You once suspected me of keeping secrets. I am no spy, I swear, but I understand why you would think that. There are things I know that I cannot explain how I know them. Things that you need to know, for the sake of your clan and country.”

The rich honey of Cas’ normal scent threaded with another scent, that mysterious odor that Dean associated with storms, with thunder and lighting and a power beyond all comprehension. 

“I’m listening,” Samuel said, crossing his arms. Maybe he felt it too, felt the inexplicable thrum of energy that Cas exuded. 

Castiel took a deep breath, as if he were steeling himself for what he was about to say.

“The Jacobites will not succeed. The highland way of life will die. Thousands of clansmen will be slaughtered, and thousands more will starve in the years to come. Elysium will ban the wearing of tartan, strip the Men of Letters of their power, even prohibit the Lawrencian tongue from being spoken. Do not lead the Campbells into open rebellion, I beg of you.”

Dean’s pulse accelerated, spreading adrenaline through his veins and setting his scalp tingling. 

“And why should I take the word of an omega—one who, until very recently, was an Elysian citizen?” Samuel asked, not bothering to hide his skepticism.

“Because it is the truth,” Castiel responded.

Sam took a hesitant step forward. 

“Cas told me the same thing, when he realized that Cain was trying to raise money for the Jacobites,” he added. There was a strange look in his hazel eyes, as though he were trying to put together the pieces of an enigmatic puzzle.

“So what, you have the Sight, is that what you’re saying?” Samuel scoffed. When Cas squinted and titled his head in confusion, the alpha explained, “You can see the future? You know what’s going to happen?” 

Castiel shrugged. “For some things, yes.” 

“Then tell me—what will I have for breakfast tomorrow morning?” 

“Oatmeal and a poached egg, if Ellen still prepares the same thing as she did when I was last here,” Castiel said, voice deadpan. “I don’t know everything that’s going to happen. Only some things.” 

Samuel lifted his brows, as if to say “go on.” 

“For example…within the next thirty years, the colonies across the sea will revolt against the crown. Unlike the Jacobite Uprising, this revolution will be successful,” Castiel said. He smiled with admiration when he detailed how a hundred years from now, Elysium would see an omega on the throne, one whose greatness could only be rivaled by Queen Elizabeth. His scent grew stale when he told them of how another century later, the world would be at war with itself for the second time in twenty-odd years.

“And in the spring,” Cas said, voice resonating with grim conviction, “Two years from now, the highland dead will cover the moor at Stull. It will become a graveyard marked by the names of clans long-forgotten. Leoch will fall to ruin. I know—I have seen it.” 

For a moment, Dean swore that Castiel’s eyes gleamed an otherworldly hue. Then the clock on the mantle ticked, the spell ended, and Cas’ irises were once more their normal shade of cornflower blue.

“Congratulations, Dean,” Samuel sneered. “You either married a lunatic or a witch. Or both.”

“No. He’s telling the truth.” 

Dean couldn’t explain how he knew. He just did. Funnily enough, the thought didn’t scare him in the slightest.

 

 


 

 

Castiel nuzzled the underside of Dean’s jaw, nipping and sucking in the places he knew would make the alpha squirm the most. He rubbed his nose, cat-like, over the smooth skin of Dean’s face, then across the hills and valleys of Dean’s muscled form.  Cas groped shamelessly at Dean’s shoulders, around the curve of his ass, anywhere he could get his hands. He delighted in way Dean writhed as Castiel pinched and sucked at the alpha’s nipples, in the way he gasped as Cas fondled his balls, in the way he let out breathy whimpers when Castiel pressed his fingers against his taint. 

“Are you satisfied?” Dean panted, fisting the bedsheets. Castiel cupped his fingers over where Dean’s knot would form. 

“Maybe,” he said, lapping at the pearl drops beading up at Dean’s tip. The alpha gasped as Cas swallowed him quickly down, the head of his cock bumping at the back of Cas’ throat. Dean moaned.

Castiel hummed around Dean’s cock, and was rewarded with the salty flavor of more pre-come. Cas bobbed his head, alternating between swirling his tongue, sucking until his cheeks hollowed, and encouraging Dean thrust up into the wet heat of his mouth. 

“Cas—I’m gonna—”

Castiel thought he groaned louder than Dean did when he came, pumping load after load into his mouth. He greedily swallowed every last drop, suckling until Dean whined with over-sensitivity. 

“Come here,” Dean growled. Cas crawled up the bed until he was straddling his husband, then let Dean stroke his aching cock. He cried out when Dean flipped them over, not caring who in the castle might hear as Dean ruthlessly fucked his leaking hole with fingers and tongue until he came.

“There. Now do I smell like you again, m’aingeal?” Dean said. He licked his lips, chasing the flavor of the slick smeared across his mouth.

“Yes,” Castiel purred. 

While he appreciated the need to bathe and purge the smell of dirt and horse, Cas had been very displeased with how much like soap Dean had smelled once he returned to their room. Castiel had already been pacing irritably, feeling uncomfortably itchy from how much his own bath had taken away Dean’s scent from his skin. He had pounced on the alpha the second he came in the door, incensed with the idea of rectifying this immediately.

Now Castiel stretched languidly against the sheets, chuckling as Dean pulled the quilt up and nearly over their heads. He snuggled close, basking in the luscious aroma of their combined blissed-out scents. Honey and cinnamon, cherry and mint. It was heaven. 

“Hey Cas?”

“Hmm?” 

Dean sat up slowly, and Cas scowled petulantly at the loss of contact before he saw the far-off look in his husband’s eyes. He pushed himself upright. 

“Dean? What is it?” 

“There’s something I need to ask you, for your safety as well as mine.” 

Dean stared into Cas’ eyes as though they contained the answers to the universe. 

“Are you a witch?” 

Castiel blinked.

“Are you serious?” he asked, fighting the ridiculous urge to laugh.

“Back in November, you knew that the Baxter pup was dying from eating a poisonous plant, not because a demon was possessing him,” Dean recalled. “The fever would have killed him. You worked a near miracle as if it were nothing.” 

Cas opened his mouth to explain that any healer worth their salt should have realized the pup had eaten leaves from lily of the valley, not wood garlic, but Dean pressed on.

“And you’re not afraid of alphas. Most think omegas to be powerless, but you…you so much more. And now, with what you’ve told Samuel…I don’t know what else to think. How else could you know the future?” 

This wasn’t how Castiel wanted this conversation to go. He had wanted to wait until after they were at Beinn Geal, when they were somewhere Dean felt comfortable and safe. Cas chewed the inside of his cheek.

“You said no lies between us,” he said slowly. “Does that mean I can trust you with the truth?” 

“Always.” 

This was it. No going back. No more hiding. Castiel took a deep, fortifying breath, and pulled the silver chain off from around his neck. 

“Do you remember what I told you? About this coin?”

“You said your mother wore it. That it was from the year you were born,” Dean said, as he cupped the chain gingerly in his hands. He titled it in his palm, examining the imprinted figure of Elysia, trident in one hand, shield in the other.

“I was born on September the eighteenth—” Castiel started.

“Nineteen hundred and sixteen,” Dean read aloud. “But that’s-” 

“Impossible? That's what I thought too, when I went up the hill at Craig Na Dun in nineteen forty-five and came down the hill nearly two hundred years earlier.” 

“What are you saying?” 

His heart thumped, once, twice.

“Dean…I’m from the future.” 

Blue eyes met green. Cas’ confidence wavered.

“You think I’m mad, don’t you?” 

Dean shook his head.

“No. No, I believe you, aingeal. I don’t really understand, not yet. But I trust you. I trust your word, your heart. And I trust there’s a truth between us. So whatever you tell me…I’ll believe you.” He took one of Castiel’s hands in his. “Can you tell me more?”

Despite the haze of conflicting emotions clouding Dean’s scent, the alpha was at least outwardly calm, so Cas started to speak. The whole story came pouring out of Castiel like a cataract of water over a broken dam. He hadn’t realized how badly he needed to tell someone, anyone, until that moment. Dean listened. He didn't understand it all, but he listened.

Once the words started flowing, they wouldn't stop. Castiel came clean about everything, from the war, to the trip to Lawrencia, and again his marriage to Balthazar. He spoke of the car crash that killed his parents, he confessed to the horrors of war he witnessed overseas, how he had watched the druids dance in the dawn on the morning of Samhain. And all the while, Dean listened. 

“That's all, I think,” Castiel finished, some time later. His voice had grown hoarse from talking so much. The fire had burned low, and Dean stooped to stoke it.

“So…back when I went to meet with Ketch, and you wandered off…” 

Dean straightened and turned around, but he wouldn’t quite meet Castiel’s eyes. 

“You were just trying to get home. You ran away, back to the stones on Craig Na Dun, and back…back to Balthazar. And I—ifrinn, Cas.”

“You couldn’t have known,” Castiel said, slipping off the bed and padding over to the fire. He cupped Dean’s face in his hands, forcing the alpha to look at him. “But Balthazar isn’t home, Dean. My home is with you. I thought I didn’t belong in the highlands, but the truth is, I don’t belong here without you.” 

Dean drew him into a bone-crushing hug, as tightly as if he feared that Cas might disappear at any moment.

“So does this mean you believe me?” Castiel ventured. 

“As much as I don't want to, I can't ignore what's right in front of me. And it all makes sense, now.”

Dean pulled back, just enough for Cas to see his half-smile. 

“Although…it might have been easier if you had only been a witch.” 

 

 


 

 

His husband had called it “receiving,” to be in this position, and “giving,” for the reverse. Every time they had been together so far, Dean had been the one to give, but this time…this time he had been determined to receive. Castiel had already given him so much. 

Cas was gentle, opening Dean up with patient fingers and comforting words. He nipped the soft flesh of Dean’s inner thighs, suckled his nipples until Dean cried out. Whether it was from pleasure or pain, Dean didn’t know. Everything was too much, and not enough, all at once. 

When Castiel brushed his fingers against that secret spot within him, Dean’s toes curled, hips arching off the bed. Sparks fizzled down Dean’s spine. He gripped the back of Cas’ curls, hard, and the omega let out a sharp gasp. Dean’s cinnamon-spice aroma gave way to scent of Castiel’s own arousal. He moaned, torn with his all-consuming desire to be filled more, and the urge to bury himself in Cas’ sweet-smelling slick. 

“I’ve got you, alpha,” Cas murmured, withdrawing his fingers. Dean’s hole fluttered against the sudden emptiness. 

“Wait—” Dean reached out, fingers clamping down on the muscle of Castiel’s thigh. 

“If you’re not ready, it’s alright,” Castiel told him. 

“No. I’m ready. But I wanna…I wanna see you.” 

Cas leaned over Dean to capture his lips in a searing kiss. The heat of Cas’ erection brushed teasingly Dean’s own. He groaned with a mixture of frustration and longing.

“I know, love. But this will be easier for your first time.” 

Castiel kissed Dean’s furrowed brows in reassurance, but Dean shook his head. He needed to watch Castiel’s plump lips part in pleasured gasps above him, needed to see the pink flush under dark stubble, needed to see how brightly blue Castiel’s eyes shone before he came. 

“Wanna see you,” he insisted. 

Dean expected an argument. Castiel had received before, and Dean had not; Castiel was a physician, Dean was just a soldier. Cas would know best. But to Dean’s surprise, his husband simply nodded, then slipped a pillow under Dean’s hips. 

“Stop me if it gets too much,” Cas instructed, tenderly cupping Dean’s jaw. 

“I trust you,” Dean said, but he nodded in agreement.

Cas slicked up his cock with his own wetness, then nestled himself between Dean’s spread thighs. Despite how thoroughly Cas had stretched him, Dean still felt a slight burn as Castiel pressed inside, somehow both slow and sudden, an inch at a time, deeper and deeper until he was fully sheathed. 

“Gods, Dean, you feel so good, so tight,” Cas panted. 

All Dean could do was let out something between a sob and a keen. His hands scrabbled against the planes of Castiel’s shoulders, down and down until Dean palmed his ass and squeezed, begging wordlessly until Cas began to move. And then nothing, nothing at all existed, except for the thrill of Cas’ cock dragging back and forth within him, the strong thrusts of his hips, the slide of Cas’ palm stroking him impossibly stiffer. 

“I love you,” Castiel whispered, and then Dean was coming, spilling over his belly. He clenched his jaw, hips jerking, hands gripping the bedclothes beneath him, powerless to do anything but ride the wave of pleasure coursing through him. Cas smashed his mouth against Dean’s, then with a whimper, his crest followed. 

Dean’s head was dizzy with the aftershocks of his orgasm, but he had to tell Cas. He had to let him know. Dean lifted his heavy arms until Castiel’s face was between his sweaty palms, until he could see every sapphire spiral of color in Cas’ irises, framed in omega gold. His heart thudded, and his breath hitched. 

“Love you,” Dean gasped. Castiel snuggled against Dean’s chest, holding him tight. He returned the embrace, grateful that Cas couldn’t see the tears prickling in his eyes. 

Dean had meant to tell Castiel that he was wrong: this, what Dean had just done, wasn’t receiving. It was giving. Cas had given so much of himself to Dean. One night of letting Castiel inside would never make up for everything the omega had done. 

If he and Cas hadn’t been wrapped up together, the realization would have shattered Dean’s heart into a million little pieces. Castiel had given up so much for him. Dean had to give it all back, and there was only one way to repay that debt.

 

 


 

 

Though Castiel had been skeptical at first when Dean sent Sam and Eileen ahead of them on the road to Beinn Geal, he was grateful for it now. Dean spoke repeatedly of his childhood home, detailing the life they would have together, the life his mother had always imagined for him. 

Cas tried to listen. He tried to invest in the idea of Beinn Geal as his home. He tried to imagine a life for them both, but he felt adrift, anchorless in a running sea. Only Dean’s touch grounded him, and Castiel sought it every chance he could get.

“I want you inside me,” Cas whispered one night. Dean’s fingers curled to stroke him where he was most sensitive. 

“Shh, m’aingeal,” Dean murmured, silencing Castiel’s moans with a kiss. Every brush of Dean’s fingers, each slide of his tongue against Castiel’s own, even the heady aroma of the alpha’s arousal, was delicious torture. Something had ignited deep inside of him. Dean’s caresses fanned the fire, and Castiel would gladly have gone up in flames. 

“Please, alpha,” he begged, shifting his hips up, desperately seeking contact with the thick erection hidden under Dean’s kilt.

“No. No…I want to watch you,” Dean said, with a sly smile. His eyes twinkled bright as the stars above. Castiel came moments later with a wordless shout, Dean’s lips around his cock.

“Let me…” Cas mumbled, feeling about for the hem of Dean’s kilt. 

“It’s alright.” Dean pulled Castiel’s relaxed body towards him, holding him close, and Cas drifted off to sleep, comforted by the knowledge that he was safe in his alpha’s arms.

The next day, as Castiel splashed frigid water from the stream onto his face, he remained lost in his thoughts. Everything around him seemed a little foggy—everything except for Dean. Even now, in the crisp pre-spring air, Castiel felt oddly flushed. He wondered for a moment if he were coming down with some sort of fever. 

“So, aingeal. Are you ready to go home?”

When he saw the soft look in Dean’s eyes, Castiel forgot his worries. 

“Yes,” he replied, taking the hand that Dean offered. 

They walked through patches of grass and around budding saplings until they arrived at the base of a hill.

“Take a look,” Dean said, gesturing for Castiel to continue. Cas shot him a puzzled look, so Dean nudged him gently until he began to climb up the slope. Seconds before Cas reached the crest of the hill, he felt the hairs on the back of his neck bristle. He lifted his gaze slowly. 

“It's what you wanted, right?” Dean asked, stepping up on Castiel’s right. “What you've always wanted. To go home.” 

“It was,” Cas said, voice subdued. He watched as Dean strode into the middle of the stone circle, looking curiously about him. A lump formed in Cas’ throat. This was why Dean had sent Sam and Eileen ahead. He hadn’t been taking Castiel to Beinn Geal.

“Is this your place?”

“This is it,” Castiel confirmed. He heard a rushing sound in his ears that might have been his own heightened pulse. Dean put his palm against the tallest stone. Nothing happened.

“This the one?” he called over his shoulder. 

“Yes.” The word was barely more than a whisper. 

Dean walked all the way around the monolith, the tips of his fingers just grazing the lichen-covered rock.

“What did you do, last time?” he inquired, not meeting Cas’ eyes. 

“I didn't really do anything,” Castiel confessed. 

He took a step forward, and then another, as if an unseen force drew him closer. A chill swept through Cas’ body that had nothing to do with the temperature around him.

“I heard this buzzing sound, and…and I just…touched the stone…”

“Cas!” 

Strong hands jerked him roughly backward, and Cas was enfolded in Dean’s arms.

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have stopped you,” Dean said, pressing his forehead to Castiel’s. “I just…Wasn’t ready.”

“I know.” Cas’ eyes grew hot and prickly.

“Well, there's no use in waiting.”

Dean sniffed and drew back. His eyes were damp, but his jaw was set with determination.

“You can’t stay here. You have your own time on the other side of that stone. A home, a place, the things you’re used to…and Balthazar.” 

With the last word, Dean’s scent curdled.  

“I told you, Balthazar isn’t my home,” Castiel insisted.

“There's nothing for you on this side. Nothing except violence and danger,” Dean argued.

“You’re my alpha,” Cas said. “You’ll protect me, and I’ll do the same for you.” 

“I know, but—” 

Dean stopped suddenly, as if the words choked him. Castiel’s heart sank. He thought he might be sick.

“Do you not want me anymore?” 

Dean immediately shook his head. 

“No. Cas…I’ll always want you. I need you,” he said, voice cracking slightly. “But this isn’t about me, it’s about you.” 

“I love you, Dean.” 

“I know. Me too.“ 

The invisible weight lifted off Castiel’s chest, but neither his scent nor Dean’s settled. Amidst the waves of ozone emanating from the stones, the air was filled with the smell of burnt honey and cinnamon, stale mint and bitter cherries.

“I’m not going to force you to leave,” Dean said. “It’s not my decision to make. It’s yours, Cas. Whether you go or stay, I’ll understand. I’ll love you either way. I only…I only want what’s best for you.” 

He spoke so quietly, yet Cas heard every word clearly, even over the susurrus of the wind.

“I’ll stay at the camp until dawn. To make sure you're safe. Goodbye, aingeal. 

Dean nodded in farewell, and turned to leave.

“Goodbye,” Cas whispered. 

He sank to his knees, and a sob escaped him, barely audible of the droning hum of the stones that surrounded him. Castiel stared down at his palms, between Balthazar’s golden ring on his left hand, and Dean’s silver ring on his right. 

Left, or right? Heads, or tails? Go, or stay? His first marriage, or his second?

Castiel closed his eyes and breathed slowly, thinking of everything he had left behind in the twentieth century. 

Hamburgers and automobiles, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, radios and television. 

Morphine and penicillin. 

Airplanes. 

Electricity and running water. 

Fine milled soap. 

Bathtubs long enough to stretch his legs. 

Boxers and fedoras and cashmere argyle socks. 

The pocket watch and trench coat that had once belonged to Castiel’s father. 

Gabriel’s jokes, Charlie’s smile, Balthazar’s wit. 

The way Charlie would bounce on her toes when she was excited. 

How Gabriel was drawn to anything sugary or sweet. 

The pride in Balthazar’s eyes when he told people that Cas had been a trauma surgeon, and a damn fine one at that. 

When they had to share a bed, and Balthazar would rest his head on Castiel’s shoulder in his sleep, subconsciously seeking his friend’s comfort.

Right after Castiel had arrived in Inverness, the manager of the local theatre had decided to do a re-screening of movies that had been released shortly before the war. Charlie had made Cas go see a Judy Garland film with her. They had spent two hours watching Dorothy and her new friends frolicking about in the magical land of Oz, trying to find a way back home. Was this it, then? Was this the end of Castiel’s yellow brick road?  

Dean thought this was for the best. Perhaps he was right. Cas had promised to trust Dean’s judgement, after all, and right now, his heart was tearing him apart. He couldn’t make this decision, and there was no wizard, no good fairy to guide Castiel’s hands. Only the stones. 

Cas rose to his feet, and titled his head up to the heavens. The sky was melting into deep oranges and purples, and the pale blue of afternoon was rapidly darkening to star-strewn indigo velvet. Castiel’s hands shook as he stretched them out.

“There’s no place like home?” he muttered. 

Right before Castiel’s palms touched the surface of the stone, a meager trace of Dean’s cinnamon scent cut through the electric atmosphere atop the hill. Cas clenched his fists tight.

 

 


 

 

Dean hunched over, clutching his knees to his chest. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep, but he squeezed his eyes tight nonetheless. He couldn’t ignore the memory of how Castiel’s eyes had seemed to blaze with otherworldly light, right before Dean had pulled him back.  

Shutting his eyes didn’t do him much better. The sound of his crackling campfire only reminded Dean of the tension in the air atop Craig Na Dun, of how dark clouds had rolled overhead the instant Cas stepped into the stone circle. 

Dean tugged his coat tighter around his chest, but he didn’t feel the fabric beneath his hands. He could still feel the cold surface of the tallest standing stone against his palm. Worst of all, Dean imagined he could still smell Castiel’s lingering scent upon his skin and his clothes. 

“On your feet, alpha.”

His eyes jerked open, and a single tear rolled free. 

“Cas?” he asked in disbelief, but there he was, moon behind his windswept ebony hair like a halo, blue eyes twinkling, a crooked half-smile upon his chapped lips. 

“I’m ready to go home,” Castiel said, kneeling next to Dean. 

“But the stones…” 

“I told you. You are my home.” 

Castiel clung to him like a drowning man holding on for dear life, like he were a man aflame and only Dean’s presence could soothe him. The omega’s skin even felt slightly warm to the touch. Before Dean knew it, Cas’ boots and breeches were off, and he was settling himself on Dean’s lap. He speared himself on Dean’s throbbing cock with hardly any prep,  moaning loudly, scent blooming with acute desire, head thrown back to expose the long unblemished line of his neck. Dean’s lips settled right over the omega’s mating gland, sucking and nipping, and he tried not to buck up too suddenly inside of Castiel’s wet heat. 

“Yes,” Cas growled. “Make me yours, alpha.” 

He rocked his hips, teasing the tingling base of Dean’s rapidly forming knot around Castiel’s soaked rim. 

“You mean—”

“Yes. I’m yours, and you are mine. Always,” he said, cupping Dean’s face in his hands.  

“Always,” Dean agreed, returning the surprisingly tender embrace. The kiss ended with a groan of pleasure. He thrust up and up, as deep and hard as he could, until Dean felt the first blazing tendrils of his climax flare deep in his groin.

“You first,” he panted. “Bite me, mark me, claim me.” 

Castiel’s eyes flashed gold, but whether it was a response to Dean’s words, or a trick of the moonlight, Dean couldn’t tell.

“Are you sure? Most alphas don’t want—”

“I’m not most alphas. I’m yours. I’ve always been yours,” Dean swore. Cas came between them, crying out Dean’s name, then he suddenly ducked his head. 

Colors burst behind Dean’s eyelids as Castiel’s fangs claimed him. The world stopped. Time ceased. Instinct seized Dean, and he clamped his jaw down on Cas’ mating gland right as his knot locked them together, and Dean’s orgasm ripped through him as forcefully as a swirling storm.

Several minutes later, or possibly an eon or two, Dean came back to himself. The air was clear, save for the earthy petrichor of the grass beneath them, and the honey-and-cinnamon bouquet of Dean and Castiel’s combined scents. Even the wind had stilled. 

“Dean,” hummed Cas. “Mate. Mine.” 

M’aingeal. Cridhe mo chridhe. An-còmhnaidh agus gu bràth,” Dean whispered. He drowsily licked at Cas’ mating bite until the omega drifted off to sleep. 

 

 


 

 

Cas was sure that Beinn Geal was a lovely house. Estate. Whatever the word was.

As soon as Dean had slid off the horse, Castiel swayed where he stood. He began to shiver and sweat simultaneously the moment Dean bounded away across the courtyard to embrace his brother. Something in Cas’ belly twinged, and he sagged against the horse’s flank. Baby nickered and flicked her ears, snout twitching. 

“S-sorry,” he stammered. Castiel wondered why he had just apologized to a horse when his legs wobbled, and then everything titled sideways. He heard gravel crunching underfoot, and Cas was blinking up at Dean’s eyes instead of the greyish sky. 

Ifrinn. You’re burning up. What’s wrong?” Dean asked, voice uncharacteristically high in his panic. 

“Dean,” Cas slurred. He forced himself to sit up, or maybe it was the alpha who pulled him upright. “Take me…take me inside.” 

“What is it, aingeal? Are you hurt? Are you sick?” 

A fresh wave of pain hit Castiel, and he doubled over, nearly toppling back to the ground. His pants felt damp. Dean swept Cas into his arms as easily as if he were a newborn pup. Then the alpha’s nostrils flared, and his pupils dilated.

“You…you smell like…” 

“Heat. I’m in heat,” Castiel whined, burrowing his head into Dean’s shoulder. More slick trickled between his thighs. 

“The blood bond…it must have triggered it…” Cas mumbled, distantly aware of Dean sprinting into the house and up a flight of stairs. The events of the last several days whirled through Castiel’s mind like an overzealous news reel. His irritation when others touched Dean, his possessiveness, the too-fast acceleration of his sex drive, everything he thought might be a fever—Castiel had been exhibiting symptoms for days. It had been so long since he had gone into heat, Cas hadn’t recognized the signs.

“Shh, you’re alright, it’s alright,” Dean said, wiping the tears from the corners of Cas’ eyes. He set Castiel down gently on a soft bed. Someone said something in the background, Dean murmured his thanks, and the door clicked shut. 

“Are we home?”

“Yeah. I’ve got you, Cas. I’ve got you. Whatever you need, I’m here,” Dean promised, curling himself around Castiel. 

“You. I need you.” 

“Always,” Dean said, kissing his forehead. Cas squinted his eyes.

“I need you to fuck me,” he clarified.

“Oh! Yeah, no, I can do that—oh holy gods—” Dean spluttered, as Castiel ripped his pants down to his ankles, then rolled over and presented his ass high in the air. 

“Dean—your cock!” 

“Right, sorry,” Dean mumbled, withdrawing his tongue. He lined up, and slid home.