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The Substitute

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It's sort of hilarious watching Sam try not to make an ass of himself in front of Jess. He almost falls out of his chair tripping over his gigantor limbs to go get her another drink. Jess laughs at him and pulls him in for a kiss before letting him go. Charlie leans over Dean's shoulder to whisper into his ear, "Dude, I can't stop staring at her hair. All those curls bouncing around every time she moves. It's hypnotizing."

"Pipe down, Bradbury. We all know you have a lady boner for Sam's girl," Dean says, smirking at her.

She scowls and hits his arm, but doesn't deny it. "She's hot."

"She can hear you," Jess says, giving Charlie an amused but sinister look across the table.

Charlie attempts a winning smile and quickly guzzles the rest of her beer. "Sorry, I'll just be taking what's left of my dignity up to the bar now."

Dean laughs, shaking his head at her and shooting Jess a wink. She smiles back. She really is a beam of sunshine. Sam only brought her home a month ago, but Dean hasn't found one flaw in her. Dean could not be happier for Sam. "So, when are you gonna let Sammy down gently and admit you're really in love with me?" he asks, leaning his elbows on the table.

"Oh you know, I thought I'd let him dangle a little longer. You can wait, right?"

"For you? Most definitely."

She shakes her head, but Sam's back before she can say anything else. He slides a bubblegum-pink martini in front of her and puts an arm around the back of her chair. "What'd I miss?"

"Not much, Dean's just plotting to steal me away in the night. The usual," Jess says, picking her drink up and taking a sip.

"I'm sure he was." Sam gives Dean a look.

Dean shrugs with a smirk and turns his eyes to the bar. There's a red-head sitting alone, pretty, he thinks maybe an omega. He's surprised Charlie hasn't swooped in yet, but he sees her on the other side of the bar, chatting up a tall brunette. He gets up with a knock on the table. "I'll be back in a bit." He doesn't even hear Sam or Jess' response, not that they made any. They're already making googly eyes at each other again. He heads over to Jo, mixing a martini. "Hey, do me a favor and buy that pretty little omega over there a drink for me."

Jo gives him an unimpressed look. "How do you know she's an omega?"

"Am I wrong?" he asks with a knowing grin.

Jo rolls her eyes and turns to hand the finished martini to a beta a few seats away from where Dean stands. He watches her cash the customer out and pocket his tip before returning to Dean. "Fine, but you owe me a beer when I get off."

"Of course. I wouldn't mind a beer myself," he answers with a telling glance at the tap. She narrows her eyes at him, but complies with the unspoken request. He watches her pour a glass of Jameson as well and take it over to the woman. She hovers a minute there, talking to the redhead and indicating Dean at the other end, who dutifully waves with his winning-est smile. Some alphas would go directly up to an omega and start talking, but he doesn't like to make them feel cornered. The redhead looks him over as though he might make dinner out of her, then smiles a coy little smile that lights up her eyes. Dean takes it as a welcome and heads over with his beer. Jo doesn't wait until he's there before she's off helping another customer.

One whiff of the woman, and he knows he was right. She smells sweet with a tang of bitter, like the red sauce he likes to douse his egg rolls in when he eats Chinese. He slides up next to her stool and leans his elbow on the bar so he can face her. "Hi there, I'm Dean," he says.

"Hi," she says back, twisting her stool around to face him. It's a good sign. "Thanks for the drink."

"You're welcome. What's a pretty lady like you doing here all by your lonesome? Hasn't anyone snapped you up yet?"

"Maybe I haven't met anyone interesting enough to let catch me," she flirts back, leaning into him in indication that she might be interested in letting him try. Dean grins, pleased at how well this is going. Sometimes omegas are a little cagey around him. Jess tells him it's because his scent can be overpowering. Dean can't help how he smells, but he always treads lightly around omegas, worried he might scare them. The redhead shows no hesitation, flirting shamelessly with him and finding excuses to touch him.

He's thinking about asking her to get out of there when he spots Jo, standing at the other end of the bar, and—No, no way! She's flirting. With a guy. And she doesn't even look like she's angling for a tip. Dean gives the guy a once-over, but decides he isn't a threat. Not that Jo can't take care of herself, but Dean wouldn't be a good friend if he wasn't protective. He decides to wait a little longer to see how things develop, and asks his companion to join him at the table with his brother, Jess, and Charlie, who has returned from her own flirting expedition sans pretty brunette.

She goes easily and doesn't protest when he pulls his stool out for her to sit on. Charlie and Jess swoop onto her like puppies with a new toy, and they're off talking about hair color or something. Dean glances at Jo touching the guy's chest at the bar, smiling at him with a genuine flirtatious smile. Dude doesn't look like he's planning on making her into a Jo suit, which is good. Dean indicates what's going on to Sam and gets a surprised eyebrow raise in return. It's rare for Jo to show interest in anyone. Dean can't remember the last time she went on a date.

"Hey, you want another drink?" Dean asks, leaning over the omega's shoulder, realizing that she hasn't told him her name yet.

"Maybe just a water? I love whiskey, but if I have another one, I might fall off this stool," she tells him with a cheeky smile.

Dean laughs, rubbing a hand down her back. Her skin is warm and soft under her thin shirt. He feels her shiver just a bit at his touch, but it's enough to get his eye back on the prize. Jo can flirt all she wants. He leans over the redhead's shoulder to whisper in her ear, enjoying the way her breath catches at his proximity. "You know where they have great water?"

She smirks and raises an eyebrow at him—so sexy. "Where is that?"

"My house. Wanna get outta here and try it?"

She giggles, leaning her shoulder into his chest. "You have superior water, huh?"

"Oh yeah, guaranteed to cure what ails you."

"Well, then, I think I'll have to try this miracle water. Lead the way, Alpha." She hops off the stool and turns her body into his. She's at least a foot shorter than him, a fact he had not noticed when they walked over from the bar. He has thoughts of picking her up and carrying her through the house as they say goodbye and head out to his car. He opens her door like a gentleman and has to fight off the stupidly proud smile when she gapes at his baby and tells him how beautiful She is. By the time they get to his house, his thoughts have turned into full-blown fantasies. He doesn't waste time once the front door is open in lifting her into his arms and kissing her, kicking the door closed behind them.

He doesn't knot her, but it's still as awesome as he thought it would be. And she makes him breakfast in the morning, which is kind of the best part.

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"Jo, what the hell are you talking about?" Dean asks, wedging the phone between his ear and shoulder as he fumbles for his keys to lock up the house.

"The guy from the bar the other night, he thinks The Phantom Menace is the best Star Wars movie. I can't date him. I can't even look at him. I don't care how good he smells," Jo answers, sounding as indignant as Dean feels.

"Okay, first of all who even considers the prequels as part of Star Wars? Second, where does this douchebag live? Because I need to sit him down and talk sense into him." Dean opens the passenger side of the Impala and deposits his lunch and the bag of movies he needs to take back to the library on the seat before closing the door and heading to the mailbox. Jo is responding to him, but he loses the meaning of her words as he approaches the street and is overwhelmed with the most intoxicating scent he's ever smelled. It is pecan pie and clean sheets and leather polish and mate all in one.

He immediately checks the street to see where the scent might be coming from, but there's no one but Missouri down the street eyeing him from her own mailbox, and he knows this wasn't her. He waves absently at her, frowning, phone completely forgotten. Missouri waves back with a smile, but he can see her concern from here. He looks down the street again, but there's no one else in sight. Frustrated, he pulls the stack of junk mail and bills from his box and slams the lid shut, at the same time finally hearing Jo saying, "Dean? Dean, are you there? Is something wrong? Dean?"

"Sorry, I just… I think I just smelled… you know what? Nevermind. I haven't had enough coffee this morning. I gotta go or I'm gonna be late opening the shop. See you tonight?"

"Sure, maybe by then you'll tell me what the hell just happened, nutcase."

"Yeah, yeah, see ya." He hangs up with a shake of his head and gets in the car, freezing as he shifts his mail from one hand to the other and gets a whiff of pecan pie again. He holds the letters up to his nose and sniffs. The smell is all over them. He frowns, sniffs again, puts the letters down. Why would his mail smell like his mate? His mail carrier is a weird little beta who always smells like chocolate and frosting—nothing like this.

He sits in his car, staring at his stack of mail like an idiot for way longer than he should, long enough for Missouri to have crossed the street and walked the half-block down to his driveway to knock on his window. When he opens it, she's looking down at him with concern. "You alright, baby boy? You look like you just saw a ghost," she asks, lifting his chin up to force him to look at her.

"Yeah, I'm good. I just, I think I might have scented my mate? But I don't know where it could have come from, and it's sort of going away now."

Missouri smiles and leans into the car window to kiss his forehead. "Don't worry, baby, you'll find him again, probably where you least expect it. Now snap out of it and go on to work. Victor Henriksen's waiting at the garage for you, and you know he's not a man you want to make wait," she tells him.

Dean nods and starts the car, forcing a smile. "You're right. Thanks, Missouri. See you on Saturday?" he asks, purposely not mentioning the Henriksen thing. He learned long ago not to question Missouri Moseley's psychic statements. No matter the situation, she's always right.

"Wouldn't miss it. Have a good day, now." She waves him off with a warm smile. He waves back as he backs out of the driveway. When he looks back at the end of the block, she's still standing in his driveway, watching after him. Ten minutes later, he arrives at the shop, and sure enough, the silver '68 Firebird is parked out front.

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The mail is sitting on the kitchen counter when Dean gets home from the shop the next afternoon, but as soon as he picks it up, he smells it again: mate, home. It's faint and a little masked over with Sam's scent, but it's there. He taps the letters against his nose, scenting, thinking. Sam gives him a look when he passes to get to the fridge. "Something wrong?" he asks, pulling a beer out and tossing the top into the trash can.

"I don't know. I keep smelling something… Did you happen to see the mailman today?"

"Nope, I think he was late. The mail wasn't in the box until after I got back from my morning class. Why?" Sam's still sporting the confused bitch face that usually means he thinks Dean might be cracking up.

"Just wondering. Does the mail smell off to you?" Dean tries to put the letters up to Sam's nose, but he dodges, giving Dean an incredulous look as he steps back.

"Dude, what are you doing? I'm not smelling the mail, ya weirdo. I'm gonna go write a paper in my room." Sam gives him a wide berth as he exits the kitchen, and Dean knows he's being crazy, but he can't help it. He also can't come right out and tell Sam he thinks he's smelling his mate because Sam will either make fun of him until Dean has to hit him or go on some kind of sappy crusade to try and find the guy, neither of which is an appealing outcome for Dean.

Dean leans over the counter, holding the letters up to his nose again to scent that delicious smell. It's only when the next door neighbor starts his lawn mower that he is shaken from his reverie.

The next day, Dean reschedules all his morning appointments to stay home, but the mailman never comes.

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Dean doesn't do a lot of things well, but he can grill a mean burger, and he doesn't mind bragging about it. He flips the first batch on the monster Weber his mom, Sam, and Bobby bought him for Christmas and takes a swig of his beer, surveying his backyard with pride. Half the neighborhood is here, as they are every other Sunday during the spring and summer. He watches him mom come out of the house carrying a giant bowl of potato salad, Jess trailing behind her with a couple of bowls of chips, both of them talking animatedly about something Dean can't hear from this far away. Sam's rolling around in the grass with Ben and a couple of the neighbor kids, throwing them playfully around like they weigh nothing. They all gang up to knock him over, but he doesn't stay down for long. Dean shakes his head, laughing. The only thing missing from this scene is his mate. His stomach drops a little, and he takes another, deeper gulp of beer.

"What did I tell you about patience, Dean Winchester?" Missouri scolds, coming up behind him with a tray full of hamburger buns.

Dean jumps, not having heard her approach. "Didn't see you there, Missouri."

"I know you didn't. Too busy moping over that missing mate of yours. I told you, you'll find him when you find him. No use sulking about it."

"I wasn't... sulking," Dean lies. Missouri's look tells him she sees right through him. "I know, I get it, okay?"

"Don't you sass me, boy. I don't need to be your mama to whoop your butt." She swats him over the head with a pile of napkins. He mumbles a sorry and looks down in shame. No one can make him feel five-years-old like Missouri Moseley.

"What is my son saying to get himself in trouble this time?" Mary asks, walking up to them with a look leveled at Dean. Great, two of them.

"He's fine, just being his usual stubborn self."

"Is that so? And what are we being stubborn about?" Mary asks.

Dean scratches the back of his head with the hand holding the spatula. "I uh... I sort of smelled my mate the other day?"

"And I told him he'll meet him when he's supposed to, but here he is, moping anyway."

"You smelled your mate? That's excellent news!" Mary exclaims, smiling brightly.

"Not really. I didn't actually see him. He's our new mailman, I think, but I stayed home on Friday morning to try to catch him, and he never showed."

Missouri fiddles with putting the napkins on the picnic table near them. "That might have been my fault. I had him in for tea, and we got to talking."

Dean narrows in on her like a dog on a bone. "What? You talked to him? What's his name? Where does he live? Did you tell him about me?"

"Oh baby, it's not my place to tell you any of that. We talked about things. He's a very nice man, but he's definitely not ready for you yet. You'll meet him when you're supposed to, and no sooner."

Dean gapes at her, trying to keep himself calm so he doesn't grab her and shake the information out of her. Intellectually, he knows that he'll never get her to talk if she doesn't want to. If Missouri wants to keep something to herself, she's harder to crack than the Federal Reserve. Mary looks from Dean's clenched fists to Missouri's immovable expression with furrowed brow.

"Missouri, this is his mate. Are you sure you can't tell him? That's not something you should really keep from someone. Dean deserves to find his mate."

Missouri gives Mary a kind smile, ignoring Dean's irritation. "He does, of course he does, but like I said. His mate isn't ready for him yet. He needs to be patient. When it's time, he'll come to you, Dean." She pats his arm, massaging some of the tension from him. "I can tell you he is very handsome. You won't be disappointed, I promise." With that she walks away to find a seat next to Lisa and her boyfriend, Brian-the-Doctor, as Ben calls him.

He gets distracted by his mother's hand rubbing his back. He turns to her in time for her to reach up and kiss his cheek. "It'll be okay, Dean. You know how Missouri is."

"Yeah, I know, but come on. She's met him. She knows his name. She could tell me where to find him. That crap about him 'not being ready' is just that, crap."

"Missouri is a very smart woman. If she thinks that it isn't time, then it isn't. You might want to check on the burgers before they burn. They smell delicious." She kisses his cheek again and walks away, leaving him to stew in his own annoyance. He frowns down at the grill and opens it up again to see that his mother is right. He starts plating the burgers and replacing them with the second round. In the meantime, Benny and Andrea show up and Dean is able to let Benny distract him with talk about the baseball game they're going to next Saturday. It isn't long before his good mood is returned, and he is able to push thoughts of his mate and what Missouri told him to the back of his head.

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When the mail smells like chocolate and gummy worms again, Dean is disappointed. He goes to the post office on a whim, unable to stop himself from trying to find out who the guy is. The lady at the counter looks like the entire world is out to annoy her. "How can I help you?" she asks in a pleasant enough voice.

"Yeah, I live on Pontiac Dr., and I…"

The woman doesn't let him finish before she's holding up a hand with a pained expression. "If you are here to lodge a complaint against the substitute mail carrier you've had for the last two weeks, you are welcome to do so, but you should know that we have already let the individual go, and your regular carrier has returned from his vacation."

Dean is taken aback by this. "Huh? Why would I lodge a complaint? I just wanted to know who the guy was."

"There have been several dozen complaints filed against the individual in question. Even if he were in our employ, I would not be able to disclose the individual's identity. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?"

Dean's not giving up this easily. He braces his hands on the counter and gives her his most intimidating look. He stopped a mugger once with that look. "If he doesn't work here anymore, why can't you tell me his name? I'm not some psycho. I'm pretty sure the dude's my mate."

"I'm sorry, sir. I can't help you," the woman deadpans, expression flat. The intimidation face clearly has no effect on her.

Dean scowls and slaps the counter in frustration. "Fine, whatever, thanks for nothing." It's rude, he knows, but he can't help himself. How is he supposed to find the guy now? Fucking humans. He leaves quickly, restraining himself from slamming the glass door behind him.

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Dean loves his son, but he hates picking him up from school on Thursdays and Fridays. The line is always forever long and completely unavoidable. Dean used to have Ben walk a block over and meet him on the corner, but ever since the school got a complaint from one of the parents and had to tighten security, the teachers are required to see the students get into their respective cars. It's a pain in the ass.

Twenty minutes after pulling into this parade of boring, Dean's finally close enough to see the front doors. He spots Ben standing next to a guy Dean's never seen before. Ben's actual teacher is nowhere in sight, which means this must be a sub. The guy is tall and thin and wearing a neon yellow suit vest that sort of hurts Dean's eyes over a gray button-down and a white tie. Dean normally wouldn't have noticed, except that the guy is hot, like nuclear explosion hot, and the dark hair and tan skin makes him exactly Dean's type. Dean is so distracted by the guy that he misses two cars pulling away ahead of him until the line of cars behind begins honking and jerks him out of his trance. He pulls up to the curb, and Ben hurries over with a grin. He drops his backpack in the back seat and slides into the front seat, pulling on his seat belt as Dean pulls away from the curb.

"Hey Dad," Ben greets him, turning to face Dean. "Can we have McDonald's for dinner?"

"How about we make taco pizzas instead and go for ice cream after?"

"But that means we have to cook, and then I have to do the dishes. Can't we just get fast food, and then we only have to throw the wrappers away?"

"Sorry, dude. I bring home McDonald's for dinner and you know what Uncle Sammy'll do."

"'Do you know what kind of garbage you're putting into your bodies?'" Ben quotes in a perfect imitation of his uncle.

"Exactly. I don't know about you, but a twenty-minute lecture isn't worth it to me."

"I guess. Can't Uncle Sam just marry Jess and move out already?"

Dean chuckles and ruffles his son's hair. "He'll be done with school next year, don't worry, kid."

They pull into the house a minute later, and Ben bursts out of the car with the kind of look that says he's going to try to weasel out of doing his homework so he can play video games instead. Dean grabs the backpack out of the back seat and calls after him, "Homework first, then Minecraft."

There's a lot of grumbling, but Ben eventually comes back for his backpack and sulks into the house, Dean following close behind. Dean starts browning the taco meat while Ben sets himself up at the kitchen table, but it isn't long before a loud sigh has Dean peaking over his son's shoulder at a worksheet of Spanish phrases. "What's wrong?"

"Spanish is stupid," Ben says unhelpfully.

Dean picks the worksheet up, intending to read the instructions, but he freezes as soon as the smell hits him. He hasn't smelled it in over a month, but it hits him just as hard as the first time. Clean sheets, pie, leather polish. Mixed in with his son's scent, it's even more enticing. He feels himself stir, images of his mate sitting next to his son, helping with his homework; the three of them curled up on the couch watching Indiana Jones; his mate leant into his side for warmth on the bleachers at one of Ben's baseball games. His mate's belly swelling with pups of their own. The feeling longing is so strong he has to momentarily grab onto the back of Ben's chair for balance.

Ben glances up at him with a worried frown. "You okay, Dad?"

Dean pushes aside the fantasies and hands the paper back. "Yeah, dude, sorry. Don't know how to help you on this. I didn't pay much attention in Spanish class back in the day. The teacher was hot, though."

"Ew, Dad."

Dean laughs and goes back to the skillet, turning the meat just in time to keep it from burning. "So, you had a sub today?" he asks, trying to sound casual. He knows he fails at casual, but thankfully Ben's too distracted by his homework to notice.

"Yeah, Mr. Wadley's daughter had to go to the hospital."

"What was the sub like?" Dean remembers the smoking-hot man he'd seen next to Ben at the school and prays to whatever god is listening that the mate scent belongs to him.

"Weird. He kept telling us random stories about like the dude who invented the printing press and stuff, and he didn't know what Star Wars was."

Dean turns from the stove, frowning. "What do you mean?"

"Our teacher's been reading The Strange Case of Origami Yoda to us, and Mr. Novak picked it up and asked who Yoda was."

Mr. Novak, huh? Dean thinks, but he says, "Weird."

"I know. Plus he wore this really ugly vest that practically blinded me."

"Yeah, I saw him when I picked you up. I think he might have been our mailman for a couple weeks. Dark hair, tallish?"

"Not as tall as you, but yeah."

"Other than the weird stories and the Star Wars thing, did you like him?"

"I guess. He was nice and everything, and he gave us candy when we got a question right."

"Candy, huh? Sounds cool to me. You should ask him if he's ever been a mailman." He wanted to ask more, but just then Sam lumbered through the door carrying a stack of file boxes so tall it threatened to engulf him, and all talk of the substitute quickly ended.

Dean planned to get out of the car and meet the mysterious man the next day, but when he pulled up to the school the next afternoon, Ben's normal teacher was there again, and there was no sign of the dark-haired substitute.

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Dean's head is buried under the hood of a gorgeous '55 Chrysler C-300, but he's too distracted to appreciate it. His skin feels itchy and too tight for his body. He can't seem to concentrate on installing the transmission correctly. He finally throws a towel at it in frustration, as though that will solve his problem. "Motherfucker!" he curses under his breath.

"What's got your panties in a twist now?" Rufus growls back from the next bay over, glaring at him from underneath the Focus he's servicing.

"Fuck off, Rufus," Dean says without any heat, scowling down at the C-300.

"Someone woke up on the wrong side this morning…" Rufus mutters as he rolls himself back under the Focus.

Dean wipes his hands off a little more roughly than necessary and stomps off to get himself a cup of coffee. Maybe some caffeine and a bite of the pie he has waiting with his lunch will settle his nerves enough to let him think clearly again.

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"I saw Mr. Novak today," Ben announces, not looking up from his math homework. Dean is immediately on alert.

"Yeah? Did you ask him about the mailman thing?"

Ben shakes his head, looking apologetically up at his father. "No, I didn't get to talk to him. He was subbing for Mrs. Lanister."

"Creepy lady with the cat thing you had two years ago?"

"Yeah."

"Well, thanks for remembering anyway. How's the homework goin'?"

"I hate math," is all Ben says in response, making a face that is so close to Sammy's annoyed bitchface that it makes Dean choke back a laugh.

"Me, too, buddy, me too," Dean says, patting his son on the back and heading to the fridge to start dinner.

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GINGER FURY: movie night?

DEANO: got the kid tonight

GINGER FURY: and?

DEANO: nothing r lisa will kill me

GINGER FURY: captain america?

DEANO: done bring beer

GINGER FURY: done!

"I brought beer!" Charlie calls out as she sweeps in through the front door, arms loaded with grocery bags.

Ben abandons his tablet to run for the front hall. "Charlie!" he greets her, loud enough for Dean to hear him over the sizzle of meat in the pan.

"Hey, little dude. Way to kick my ass last night."

Dean hears the slap of a high-five and has to look around the corner at them. "What were we doing last night?" he asks with more than a little suspicion.

"Mario Kart. Your kid destroyed me. It was kind of embarrassing, actually."

Last night, Ben had had so much homework that he hadn't finished it until a little after ten, well past his 9:00pm bedtime. Dean had sent him to bed with strict instructions to go to sleep. He was generally pretty lenient on the parenting front, but he'd been burned before when Ben didn't get enough sleep. He levels a glare at his son. "Dude, you were supposed to be in bed!"

"I was! The controller's wireless," he protests. Dean continues to stare him down. He looks only a little guilty when he says, "Sorry, Dad, couldn't sleep."

"Layoff, Dean-o. The kid's been under siege by the homework overlords for like a month now. He deserves to let off a little steam every now and again."

"School will be over in less than two weeks. He can let off steam then," Dean answers. Belatedly, he realizes that maybe he's being a little harsh.

"Woah, there, Dean-o. Take a chill pill. Maybe we should get you a beer." Charlie pats him on the back as she passes, her expression saying she thinks he might have lost it. Dean's not sure he hasn't.

Ben frowns at him as he snatches his tablet back and heads in the direction of the living room. Dean goes back to the stove, stirring the meat around and adding a little more cayenne pepper. He hears the sound of a beer bottle being opened and looks up just in time for Charlie to hand him one. "Rough day at work?" she asks with a raised brow.

"No, sorry, just feeling a little tense lately. Tacos alright for dinner?"

"Tacos sound and smell delicious," Charlie assures him, popping the top off her own beer and leaning against the counter near him. "So, I met this hot girl at work today. Her name's Bridget and she works in sales."

"Yeah? How hot we talkin'?"

"Oh so hot! She's got huge blue eyes and a white-blonde pixie, and she's short and petite. She looks like a little fairy, like Tinkerbell or something. And she was soooo sweet! She got me a coffee and offered to take me out for drinks for cracking an encrypted file for her. And oh my god, her smell was amazing. Like rainbows and sunshine and daisies and fresh honey. I almost melted at her feet."

"Sounds awesome. She an omega?"

"No, beta, which is fine. Not like I want kids of my own, anyway." She shrugs as though the thought doesn't bother her, even though Dean knows it does. Heterosexual betas could mate, no problem, but same-sex couples were only fertile if they were alpha and omega. Dean wasn't entirely clear on how that worked for ladies, but he knew Charlie would need an omega mate to have kids of her own.

"Was she your mate?" he asks, tentative. The thought of mates has been on his mind nearly constantly lately, and bringing it up seems like a good way to let his discovery spill to Charlie, something he definitely does not want to do. Charlie's almost as bad as Sam with the feelings crap.

Charlie frowns at her beer. "No, but I'm not gonna let that stop me from going downtown on her. I told you she was hot, right?"

Dean smiles, shaking his head at her over-enthusiastic tone. "Yeah, you did." He pulls the meat off the burner and turns it off, wiping his hands on his apron. "Grab the plates and stuff, will you? We should be ready to eat." He walks around her to grab the rest of dinner out of the fridge, taco shells, cheese, sliced tomatoes from the garden Sam's been cultivating out back, lettuce, and fresh-made guacamole Dean cannot wait to dig into. Charlie has the plates and napkins ready on the counter and starts making her plate as soon as he sets the rest of the food down. Dean sticks his head into the living room. "Dinner's ready. Grab your uncle from the office and come make your plate. Charlie brought Captain America to watch."

Ben's up as soon as he hears the movie title and calls down the hall for Sam—not exactly what Dean was aiming for, but whatever. Sam pops into the kitchen just as Dean's finishing smearing guac all over his soft shells. "That smells awesome, Dean. Hey Charlie," he greets them. His hair is standing up on the sides and makes him look a little bit like a lion. Dean's fingers twitch for the kitchen scissors.

"Hey there, Samsquach. Gonna watch the movie with us?"

Sam frowns down at her. "What movie?"

"Captain America and the Winter Soldier."

Sam narrows his eyes at her. "Winter Soldier isn't available on dvd yet."

Charlie throws a chip at him. "So, I pirated it. Big deal? It's not like I didn't already pre-order a digital copy. Technically, I already own it."

"It's still illegal, Charlie. Besides, I can't anyway. I have depositions to work on for tomorrow." Sam grabs a plate and starts making his own taco, heavy on the lettuce and tomato, Dean notices. Dean finishes his own tacos and gets out of Sam's way, heading to the living room where Ben is already sitting at the coffee table, devouring his own food. Charlie joins them, followed soon after by Sam, who tells them all about the legal case he's working on during his internship. Dean's proud, even though he has no idea what half of what Sam is talking about means.

When they finish eating, Sam offers to clean up while the rest of them settle in to watch the movie. Ben even puts his game away to watch, laying on his stomach with a pillow on the floor. Dean and Charlie take up either side of the couch. They spend half the movie arguing about whether or not Steve and Bucky ever hooked up, while Ben yells at them for being 'gross'. Dean is able to relax for the first time in a long time, and he gives Charlie a longer-than-usual hug at the door in thanks. Charlie gives him a weird look and pats his shoulder again, but doesn't say anything.

page break

Summer has officially started for Ben, which means Dean has little to no chance of catching another whiff of his mate until September at the earliest. He would be lying if he said he wasn't crawling the walls with the knowledge. The guys at the garage are all giving him a wide berth and even Sam has been trying to encourage him to go out and find a hook-up, but his heart just isn't in it. He finds himself comparing every potential partner with the vague specter of his mate, and the touch of others is starting to irritate his skin.

He almost refuses when Benny asks him to grab a beer after work, but Benny's no-arguments attitude doesn't give him room to get in his excuses. When they get to the Roadhouse, Jo already has a whiskey ready for Dean. He takes it gratefully, sinking onto a stool in front of her. "Thanks, Jo. How'd you know we'd be coming in?"

"I hear things," Jo says, flashing him a mysterious smile before turning away to help another customer.

Benny clinks his beer with Dean's glass and mutters, "Cheers, brother."

Dean nods and takes another swig of his whiskey. He nearly jumps when Charlie pops up on the stool next to him, a beer half-finished in her hand.

"Charlie? I thought you were spending the weekend at a hacker retreat or something," he asks, unable to hide his surprise.

"Yeah, I lied," Charlie answers without shame.

Dean frowns at her. "Why?"

Charlie sends a look at Benny over Dean's shoulder. "This is a crankervention."

"Excuse me?"

"You've been a beast for a good month, brother," Benny says with an unimpressed look.

"I have not been."

"You almost punched a guy out the other day for saying the Blackhawks suck," Benny says.

"Last Saturday a sexy lady tried to get in your pants, and you acted like she was asking to castrate you," Charlie offers.

"I did not..."

"You turned down pie last Thursday," Jo interjects from the other side of the bar. He hadn't even realized she'd come back over to join the conversation. Dean gives pause. She sort of has a point.

He sighs and swallows his whiskey down. Jo doesn't hesitate to refill his glass. "Okay, so maybe I've been a little tense."

"Just a little," mutters Charlie.

"What's going on, brother?"

"Nothing, I'm fine, just off my game a little."

"You're practically Oscar the Grouch. What is it?" Charlie pokes him in the side.

"You're not letting this go, are you?"

"What part of crankervention did you miss? Spill." Another poke and Dean's spilling.

"Fine. I scented my mate, okay?"

"You did? That's awesome!" Charlie squeals, flinging her arms around his neck. Benny pats him on the back hard.

"Congratulations, brother. When do we get to meet her? Him?"

"Him. I don't know. That's sort of the problem. I haven't met him yet. I keep smelling him, and I saw him once, but I haven't actually talked to him or touched him or anything. I don't even know his first name."

"But you know his last name?" Charlie whips her tablet out of her bag and starts tapping at it. "Where'd you smell him? What's his last name? Is he hot?"

"What, are you going to google him?" Jo snorts, eying the device.

"I'm gonna do way more than that. Spill, Winchester."

Dean swallows a mouthful of whiskey. "I first smelled him on my mail a couple months ago. I figured out he was delivering our mail while our regular was on vacation, but every time I tried to catch him, he didn't show up. I went to the post office once the regular dude came back, and the stupid mail lady wouldn't tell me who he is."

"In her defense, that would be a gross invasion of the guy's privacy," Charlie says with an apologetic smile. She's still poking at the tablet.

"You think my mate doesn't want anyone telling me how to find him? That sound right to you?"

"No, but I understand the mating instinct. Or I would, if, you know, my mate would show up. Maybe the woman you talked to is a human."

"She was. Didn't make me like her any more."

"That was racist of you." Jo gives him a look.

"Not racist, speciest." Charlie doesn't even look up as she corrects.

"Whatever, like you have any human friends."

"There are five humans in my WoW Guild."

"Have you met any of them in person?"

"Shut up. What's the last name already, and how'd you get it?"

"His name is Novak. After he was fired from the post office, he must have started substitute teaching because I picked Ben up from school one day like two months ago, and this hot guy was waiting with him. I didn't get out of the car, 'cause I didn't know who he was, but I smelled him later on Ben's homework. Ben spilled the beans about his name."

"Not a problem. I can hack into the Department of Education and find the list of registered subs. There can't be more than one Novak. Give me two minutes."

Dean swallows more whiskey and stares into his glass without saying anything. Missouri's voice pops into the back of his head. He's definitely not ready for you yet. You'll meet him when you're supposed to, and no sooner.

"So, he's hot?" Jo prompts.

Dean smiles at his glass. "Yeah, he was smokin'. Had on the ugliest vest I've ever seen, but it didn't matter. I wish I'd known he was my mate. I would have gotten out of the car. Now I've got no way of contacting him or finding him. Ben sees him at school sometimes, but he only subbed for Ben's class the once, and school's out for summer now. Missouri knows him, but she won't tell me anything about him."

"Missouri knows him? How?" Benny asks, brow furrowing.

"He was our mailman, remember? She said she had him in for tea a couple times. I think that's part of the reason he got fired.'"

"And she won't tell you anything about him?"

"Nope. Said he wasn't ready to meet me yet. I don't get it. Who isn't ready to meet their mate?" He looks to Charlie, hope fluttering in his stomach. Her expression is serious and a little concerned. She's even biting her lip. "Anything?"

"I uh… are you sure, Dean? Missouri's never wrong about this kind of stuff."

Dean frowns at her. "You're taking Missouri's side, too? Thanks." He downs the rest of his glass and Jo sets him up with number three.

"I'm not taking her side, Dean. I just know when I was hiding the stuff with my mom, Missouri knew to have you talk to me about it. I don't think I would have been able to let her go without your help, and you wouldn't have known to say anything without Missouri. She knows her stuff, Dean."

Dean turns to Benny, unable to believe what he's hearing from his best female friend. Benny looks just as serious as Charlie. Dean growls and turns a glare on Charlie. "Can you find him or not?"

Charlie looks hesitant, but doesn't cower from him. "Well… I found the database, but there aren't any Novaks listed. Are you sure that was his name?"

Dean stares at her, unable to comprehend what she's saying. He was so close. How could Ben have gotten the name wrong?

"No, that's the name Ben said."

"Well, unless he spells it some weird way I've never heard of, he's not on this list. There are fifteen substitutes who registered around the time your guy would have, but none of them are named Novak."

Frustration flares up in Dean for a second before he deflates. It isn't Charlie's fault that the name isn't on the list. Maybe Missouri was right. He takes another drink and closes his eyes. "Okay, fine, whatever. I guess I'll just have to wait, then."

"I'm sorry." Charlie pats his back with a pout.

Dean shrugs. "What can you do? I'll just have to trust Missouri. He'll show up when he's supposed to. Just don't bitch if I'm asshole until he does."

page break

Sam is upside-down, holding himself up with one straight arm. Dean would be impressed if he wasn't so disturbed. "Is this Inception?"

"Yoga. You should try it. Maybe it'll calm your nerves." Sam's voice doesn't even waiver as he lowers his entire body into a one-handed push-up without touching his feet to the ground. It makes Dean a little nauseated to watch.

"My nerves are just fine, thanks. You want breakfast, Stretch McAdams?" Dean says, 'accidentally' knocking Sam over with a foot to Sam's hip.

Sam glares up at him from his forest-themed yoga mat and shoves at Dean's shin. "You're such a jerk!"

"At least I'm not a yoga-loving bitch," Dean counters as he walks passed into the kitchen.

"They use yoga in tantric sex, you know!"

"Yeah, I'm sure you're getting all kinds of sex doing one-handed hand stands. You realize you look gayer than me, and I have sex with dudes, right?"

An indistinguishable string of curses follows, but Dean's too busy getting breakfast started to bother listening. He turns on the radio to his favorite rock station and hums along as he cracks four eggs into the pan, smiling to himself the whole while.

page break

Dean wants to rip the computer monitor off his counter and throw it across the room, but he knows he'll regret it if he does. That shit costs money, and Ash'll kill him if he has to come in for another repair so soon after Dean smashed the keyboard to hell. He hates bookkeeping and ordering and payroll and all the other bullshit no one told him a mechanic needed to do to own his own shop. All he wanted to do was fix cars, but he's been putting the paperwork off too long. If he doesn't get payroll done today, he won't have the checks ready for payday tomorrow. He's just finishing the last time sheet when the bell above the door rings. "Be with you in a second," Dean says without looking up, concentrating on getting this done.

He freezes when the smell hits him, warm pecan pie, clean sheets just in from the line, leather polish, home, mate. It's been four months since he last smelled it, and he was beginning to think he would never smell it again. He looks up slowly, pulling his glasses off so he can see, and finds the guy from the school standing there, looking awkward and uncomfortable, but still sexy as hell. His eyes are a deep electric blue, now that Dean's close enough to see them, and his lips look so fucking kissable. Dean's breath is momentarily caught in his throat at the sight of him.

Dean meets Cas for the first time.

"Hello, my um… my car has something wrong with it. I was hoping I could get someone to take a look at it?" Hesitant though it is, Dean would have never believed such a rich, deep, gravelly voice could come out of such a soft-looking man. He takes a few steps closer, and it must be enough for him to smell Dean, because he freezes like a deer caught unawares. His scent changes subtly, sweetens just that little bit more that tells Dean he's probably slick already. His eyes tell a different story, one of fear and panic. It gives Dean pause.

Dean does a quick check of himself, mentally counting himself down. He might be an alpha, and this might be his mate standing in front of him, and he might have had to wait seven long months between first scenting him and being in the same room as him, but he can still keep himself in control dammit. "Yeah, we can do that. What kinda problem we talkin' about?"

The man describes what's clearly worn breaks in the least mechanical way possible, less hesitant the longer they're together and the more he realizes Dean isn't going to jump him. Dean smiles, stepping around the counter for the first time. The smell is more intense the closer he gets, but he keeps himself together.

"Sounds like your breaks are shot. You should have come in earlier. You've probably been putting your life in your hands. I'd ask how long she's been like this, but I really don't want to know."

"It's only been…"

Dean holds his hand up, shaking his head. "No, I mean it, don't tell me. Got your keys? I'll have one of my guys pull her around."

The man—Novak, Dean reminds himself—pulls a set of keys out of his vest pocket and hands them to Dean. "It's the blue Chevrolet Nova."

Dean gets momentarily excited until he looks out the shop window to find a 1992 Nova parked out front. He mutters to himself, "At least it's a Chevy," before poking his head into the garage. "Who's free?" he calls. Benny pops up and takes the keys from him. "Nova out front. Sounds like the breaks are shot, but fix anything else you find, too."

"You don't want to check with the owner before…"

Dean glances back at the man standing in his lobby, eyes glued to him. The fear's completely gone, but the apprehension isn't. "Fix it all," Dean says without further consideration. He might not know the guy yet, but there's no way in hell he's letting his mate drive around in a faulty car. He doesn't wait for Benny to answer before shutting the garage door and turning back to his mate.

"You can take a seat if you want. It'll be a while. You want coffee or anything?"

"I… yes, thank you, coffee would be nice." Novak takes a hesitant seat, not taking his eyes off of Dean.

Dean gets coffee from the pot in the back, but pauses on his way back. "Cream and sugar?" he asks loud enough to be heard up front.

"Cream, no sugar, please," comes the subdued reply. Dean brings the coffee back and resists lingering when their hands brush as he hands it over. "Thank you."

"No problem." Dean slides back onto his stool behind the counter with the hope that he will be able to finish his payroll, but the scent of his mate is slowly permeating the room, surrounding him until he can barely think. He tries to concentrate on the computer screen, even manages to finish adding Adam's hours into Quickbooks, but his eyes keep wandering. It isn't helping that Novak hasn't taken his eyes from Dean since his moment of recognition. Dean keeps waiting for him to say something, but he doesn't. He drinks his coffee and watches Dean. It would be creepy if that little bit of sweet wasn't slipping and sliding through his senses.

When the first hour passes, Dean gets up. "I'm gonna go check on your car. I'll be right back. There's more coffee in the back if you want."

"May I go with you?" the man asks, surprising Dean again.

Dean pauses half-way between his mate's seat and the garage door. "Yeah, sure, if you want." Dean's hand is on the door handle when he pauses. "Just, stay back. I don't need you getting hurt."

"Is there cause to be injured?"

"No, but let's not take any chances, okay? I don't even know your name yet."

"Alright, thank you," he says, stepping through the door Dean has open for him. "It's Castiel Novak," he answers Dean's unspoken question as he waits for Dean to lead him through the garage .

"CAS-TEE-EL? Quite a name you got there. Mind if I call you Cas?"

"That would be acceptable."

"Awesome. I'm Dean." He points to the Winchester Auto embroidered on his shirt. Castiel looks from the embroidery back to his face and smiles faintly.

"It's a pleasure to meet you,Dean Winchester."

"You, too. Come on, let's go check on your car." Instinct tells him to put an arm around Cas and lead him that way, but he only holds out his arm in direction. This omega has already proven he is skittish; Dean's not touching without permission. Castiel weaves his way around cars to his own blue Chevy and stands to the side, giving Dean room to talk to Benny, standing on the platform under the risers. "How's it looking?" Dean asks.

"We had the right break pads, but the tail light's out, too, and we don't have any that fit."

"I'll order one in. Anything else?"

"Just an oil change and a new fan belt. You sure the owner's alright with me doing the work without askin'?"

Dean glances at Cas from where he's crouched talking to Benny, and true-to-form, Cas' eyes are trained on him. He turns back to Benny. "Don't worry about it, man. Just make sure it's safe to drive." Dean looks back up at Cas and waves him over. Castiel steps closer tentatively, eyeing the compressor to Dean's right. Dean probably shouldn't have made such a big deal about him being safe, but his protective instincts are a little strong at the moment. "Cas, this is my best friend and best mechanic, Benny Lafitte. Benny, this is Castiel Novak. Cas used to deliver the mail." He gives Benny a significant look that Benny thankfully picks up right away and smiles a big, warm, Louisiana smile up at Cas.

"That explains a lot. Hi there, cher. Nice to meet you. I'd shake your hand, but I got oil from your engine all over me." He holds his hands up to demonstrate.

"It's nice to meet you, as well..." Castiel says, giving Dean a confused look before smiling a genuine smile at Benny. Dean wishes that smile were aimed at him, but he's not going to let himself get jealous. Benny has that effect on people. Besides, he's whipped by his own omega so hard he wouldn't know how to tie his shoes if she didn't tell him.

Dean straightens to stand next to Castiel. "How long you think it's gonna be before she's ready?" he asks.

"Another hour maybe?"

"'Kay, we'll get out of your hair. Thanks, Benny." He does touch Castiel then, just lightly in directing him back towards the lobby. Castiel goes where he's led, quietly and without comment.

When they get back to the lobby, he turns to Dean with a confused look that's sort of adorable. "How did you know I used to work as a mail carrier?"

"You were mine, when my regular went on vacation, right before you were uh..."

"Let go, yes. How do you know, though?"

"My mail smelled like you. I thought I was going crazy the first time, but then it kept smelling like you every day." Dean rubs the back of his head, looking sheepishly down at his boots. "I uh... I might have taken a morning off of work to try and catch you, but I must have missed you."

"I did not succeed as a mail carrier. I got... distracted regularly."

"Yeah, I heard. I went to the post office when everything smelled like that weird beta who normally delivers. The lady wouldn't tell me your name or anything, but she told me about the complaints."

Castiel looks away for the first time, down at his hands. "Yes, I..."

Dean stops him with a hand on his wrist. It sends warmth up his arm and makes Cas look back up at him. "Dude, I don't care about how crappy a mailman you were. I was just pissed she wouldn't tell me your name or where I could find you. I was worried I never would."

"It is fortuitous that I decided to patronize your shop today, then."

"Yeah, it is." Dean grins at him, realizing only too late that he's still holding onto Cas' wrist. He lets go and Castiel tucks the hand under his other arm, hugging his chest tight.

"What will you be doing with me, now that you have me?" It's a weird question, not said in flirtation, but in all earnestness.

Dean tucks his hands in his pockets, not really sure how to respond. "I was sort of hoping to take you out to dinner after I'm done here? If you're not busy or anything. Where we go from there I was planning on leaving up to you."

Castiel frowns, cocking his head to the side the way the neighbor's dog does when Dean tries to shoo it off his lawn. "Dinner? But I am your omega..."

It's Dean's turn to frown. What does that have to do with anything? "Well, yeah, you will be, but that goes both ways, doesn't it? Doesn't mean we can't date first, get to know each other. I'm not gonna lie, there's a whole part of me that wants to just shove you against the first available surface and knot you without a second thought, but I'm not an animal. Are you?"

"I am a member of the mammal family, yes."

Dean rubs the bridge of his nose with a smirk and a little snort. "Yeah, you caught me there. Do you get my point, though? We're not slaves to instinct. We can be people. And people date."

"I understand the concept, yes." His expression says he probably doesn't, but whatever.

"Okay, then. Dinner?"

"...Dinner."

Dean grins at him, relieved to see his shoulders relax a little. "Awesome. Okay." Dean let's out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "I gotta get some paperwork done if I'm ever gonna get out of here, and it sounds like you've got a while on your car. You want more coffee? A newspaper? I'd offer you a magazine, but they're all car mags, and I get the feeling that's not really your thing."

Castiel smiles, even more tension leaving him. "I will be fine, thank you." He returns to his seat and returns to watching Dean, but it isn't as weird this time. He looks more curious than cautious now. Dean decides to let him be and tries to get the rest of his work done. Ben said he was weird. Dean can deal with weird.

Half an hour later, the bell above the front door tings as Ben walks through, eyes glued to his tablet. Dean's stomach sinks. In the excitement of finding his mate, he'd forgotten all about having his son for the week. "Hey, Dad," Ben says, walking right past Castiel without looking up and only momentarily glancing up at Dean as he passes in an attempt to go into Dean's office. Dean snatches his arm before he passes, causing Ben to blink up at him. "Dad, I'm mining diamonds."

"Homework. Video games later." Dean takes the tablet from him and shuts it off.

"Dad!" Ben whines, making a grab for the device.

"No arguing. You can have it back when your homework's done. Last time I checked, diamonds don't get up and walk away."

Ben sulks, but just as he's turning to the office, he catches a glimpse of Castiel and stops. "Mr. Novak? Dad, it's Mr. Novak. Did you ask him about being our mailman?"

"Yeah, we'll... uh... talk about that later. Go do your homework."

Castiel smiles at Ben, even though Dean can sense his confusion. "Hello, Benjamin."

"Hi, Mr. Novak. It's nice to see you," Ben says politely.

"It is nice to see you again, as well. I believe you have homework to do?"

Ben scowls. "Not you, too." He makes an annoyed bitchface that reminds Dean Ben's spending too much time with Sam and sulks into the office, calling behind him, "Bye, Mr. Novak."

Castiel watches after him, turning his eyes back to Dean only when Ben has slumped into Dean's desk chair and started pulling out books. Dean gulps, a washy feeling in his stomach. He hadn't planned on springing a kid on Cas this quickly. "That, uh... that was my son, Ben. You've met him, obviously."

"I have been working as a substitute teacher since I was let go at the post office."

"Yeah, I know. I uh... I sort of already knew your last name. I might have grilled him for intel when I smelled you on his homework." Dean only feels a little embarrassed to admit this.

Castiel nods, but then he turns his head to the side again. "But Ben's last name is Braeden."

"Yeah, we gave him his mom's name, since we weren't mates." Castiel nods, but doesn't otherwise answer. Dean starts to really worry. "This doesn't bother you, does it? That I already have a pup?"

"No, I am fond of children." The hint of a smile that crooks up his mouth confirms his assurance, and Dean relaxes just a little.

"Good, I always kind of worried. We were like twenty and stupid when we had him. He's awesome, don't get me wrong. I wouldn't trade him for anything in the world. But I wasn't sure how my uh… you would react," Dean fumbles lamely. He looks down at the desk calendar laid out on his counter, feeling stupid. How could he have forgotten that it was Wednesday? Castiel is still looking at him when he glances up again. He doesn't look upset, just sort of neutral, like he's waiting for Dean to keep talking.

"So, I forgot what day it was. I have him every other week, Wednesday to Wednesday. I'd like to take you to a nice place and get to know you just the two of us, but uh... would you care if he came with us to grab pizza instead?"

That little smile comes back. "Pizza sounds lovely. Will you be telling Benjamin the nature of our... relationship?

"Ben can hear you guys. Dad, did you ask Mr. Novak out on a date?" comes Ben's incredulous voice as he pops out of the office door. Dean has to resist the urge to roll his eyes at his nosy son.

"Yes, I did. Mr. Novak—Castiel is my mate. Do you remember what that means?"

"Ew, are you guys gonna have really loud sex now? 'Cause I'm going back to Mom's if you are. Gross."

Dean gapes at him. "Jesus, what are they teaching you at school?" He groans, rubbing at the tension headache building behind his eyes. He loves his child, but there are moments when he contemplates taking the life he created. "No, we are not going to... do that. Not now anyway, and not when you're in the house. For now, Cas is going to come with us for pizza tonight. That okay with you?"

Ben considers for a moment and nods. "Yeah, okay. Can we go to Luconi's?"

"Sure, that's fine. Get back in there and get your homework done, or we're not getting ice cream after." Ben doesn't have to be told twice. He definitely takes after Dean in the dessert area.

Dean looks back at Castiel with a shrug. "Sorry about that. I'd say he's adopted, but he looks too much like me."

"He does indeed. He also smells quite a bit like you. If I had been paying better attention, I might have guessed that he was related to my alpha."

Dean can't help the fissure of pleasure that shoots up his spine hearing Cas call him his alpha. Dean smiles over at Cas and Cas returns it. He looks genuinely happy and no longer apprehensive at all. The scent all around Dean grows ever sweeter.

"Are you guys gonna make out or something? 'Cause this is gross," Ben asks from Dean's desk, loud enough so that Benny and the boys could probably have heard him in the shop. Dean once more contemplates murder.

"Homework. Now," Dean says without looking away from Cas. There's a sigh and a minor amount of grumbling, but then Dean hears the scratch of a pencil and knows his son has followed his order. Dean takes another minute to look at Cas, offering him an apologetic smile. "I uh, gotta get this paperwork done if I wanna pay the guys tomorrow."

"By all means. I am not going anywhere."

Dean does, with the occasional glance at Cas out of the corner of his eye. Cas goes from studying Dean to studying Ben, and back again. He looks pleased about something. Dean tries not to think about what it could be while he finally, finally has the computer part finished and prints the checks out so he can sign them and put them in their individual envelopes. Once they're signed, he reaches for the envelopes, only to find Cas standing on the other side of the counter with the box of envelopes, tucking one of the paychecks into the envelope so that the address label faces forward. He even licks the envelopes—something that Dean finds insanely hot, even if he has a little roll-on water pad in one of his desk drawers and could have saved Cas the disgusting taste.

"Thanks," he says instead, watching Castiel seal the final envelope.

"You're welcome."

"All set, boss. You'll have to bring it back for the tail light, but your golden otherwise, Castiel," Benny interrupts their staring contest, jingling the keys as he walks up, a little pleased smirk on his face.

Castiel takes the keys from him. "Thank you. How much do I owe you?"

Benny glances at Dean with a raised brow. "Not sure about that. You'll have to ask the boss."

Dean levels him a look. "Thanks, Benny," he says flatly. Benny gives him a mock salute and turns on his heel, going back into the garage. Dean turns to Castiel with a smile. "You don't owe anything, Cas."

"I can't accept that, Dean. I do not intend to begin our relationship owing you anything."

"And I don't intend on letting my mate drive around in a car that's a quick stop from getting him in an accident. You don't owe me anything.Think of it as a perk of being mated to a mechanic and leave it at that." Dean turns on his stool to face Ben, scrunching his nose up at the work in front of him. "Hey kiddo, you hungry yet?"

"Yes, please save me from this," Ben begs, giving his dad a desperate look.

Dean chuckles. "Yeah, okay, find a stopping point and we'll head out." He turns back to a visibly tense omega. He frowns. "What's wrong? Did you change your mind about the pizza? Is this about the money thing? It's really not a big deal, Cas. I don't charge any of my family."

"Of course, Alpha," Castiel answers without inflection, dropping his eyes to the floor, demonstrating a level of submission Dean isn't comfortable with. He's only ever seen this sort of behavior from omegas in traditionalist packs, the ones with strict rules of behavior that always made Dean a little sick. He thinks he might understand why Cas had been so apprehensive at first. He gets up from his stool and walks around the counter to stand next to Cas, breaching his own protocol by lifting Cas' chin in his hand so that they're making eye contact again.

"Hey, my name's Dean, not Alpha. I meant it when I said I wanted us to act like people. If you don't like something I do, tell me. I'm probably not always going to listen to you because I can be a stubborn dick sometimes, but I don't want you to hold back or feel like you have to walk on eggshells because I'm alpha. I want us to be equal, okay?"

"How can we be equal if you will not permit me to pay for my own repairs?"

Dean smiles, dropping his hand from Cas' chin to his shoulder and patting it. "Yeah, you're not gonna win that one, sorry. But anything else you wanna yell at me about, feel free."

"I'm driving myself to the restaurant," Cas says with a clench of his jaw.

"That's fine. You probably won't like my music anyway. Although you are missing out on sitting shot-gun in the sweetest car ever, just letting you know."

"And what car would that be?" Cas makes an annoyed face that Dean can't help but find adorable. He leans an elbow on the counter and crosses a foot over the other, sliding into flirting mode with ease.

"'67 Chevy Impala. Sexiest thing I ever laid eyes on until I saw you."

Pink slowly floods his cheeks, making his annoyed face even cuter. "I appreciate the sentiment, but I do not believe a car should be considered sexually arousing."

Dean leans close to his ear, taking the opportunity to smell him up close, so many levels of delicious. "You haven't seen Baby," he rasps, turning Cas' scent almost nauseatingly sweet. Fuck, he smells good, Dean thinks, resisting the urge to lick his neck and scent-mark him.

"EW! Get a room already!" Ben cries in offense, stealing his tablet from the counter without asking and tucking it into his bag. Castiel pulls sharply away, looking alarmed and embarrassed to have let Dean get so close. Dean licks his lips, taking one final deep sniff before standing, unaffected by his son's protests.

"You ready to go?" he asks, turning towards Ben. Ben nods, eyeing them like they might turn into zombies at any moment and try to eat his brains or something. "Good, I'll go tell the guys I'm heading out early. Cas, you wanna meet us at the restaurant? You know where it is?"

"I do. I will get a table for us."

"Awesome, see you in ten." Dean refrains from kissing Cas goodbye even though he wants to and heads into the shop to get Benny to close up for him. On his way through, Adam wolf-whistles at him and Rufus gives him a knowing nod and a smirk. Dean ignores them both. He finds Benny hunched over a '72 Mustang they're restoring for the ever-annoying Dick Roman.

"Hey man, you mind closing the shop up for me? I'm taking Cas and the kid out for pizza."

Benny straightens with a warm smile and pats Dean on the shoulder. "Sure, brother. Congratulations on finding that mate finally. Andrea'll be happy to hear it."

Dean grins in return. "Thanks, but uh… make sure it doesn't get back to Charlie or Jo before I tell them? I'll catch hell if they don't find out from me."

"You might want to tell that to that one over there, then. He's had a look that spells trouble since you brought Castiel into the shop." He nods towards Adam's station, and Dean turns to see his half-brother eyeing Dean with an amused smirk that usually means Dean's going to end up with all his radio stations preset to Spanish or all his pens glued to his desk.

He narrows a dark look at his brother before turning back to one-arm hug Benny. "Thanks, Benny. I'll see you tomorrow. Let me know if there are any problems tonight."

"Will do, boss. You go have fun."

Dean nods and turns towards his brother, glaring. "Whatever you're planning, don't."

"I wasn't planning anything. Congrats on finding your mate finally. I thought you were gonna end up a grumpy old alpha like Rufus."

"I heard that, you little shit," Rufus grumbles from the next bay, not even looking up from his work. "Don't think you're too old for an ass-whoopin'."

"I'd like to see you try, old timer," Adam mocks, smirking.

"Would you," Rufus growls, looking up from the engine he's been working on with a smile full of razor-sharp teeth. Adam backs up, looking cowed by the display. "That's what I thought. Young whelp, think you can call me an old timer and get away with it…" Rufus mutters, going back to his work.

"You do anything I won't like, I'm sickin' Rufus on you, got it?" Dean warns with a significant look. Adam nods, though the smirk is back. Dean decides to ignore it and ruffles Adam's hair a little more aggressively than necessary. "Remember, just 'cause your family, don't mean I can't fire your annoying ass."

Adam rolls his eyes and shoves Dean away harmlessly. "Go away. Don't you have an omega to woo or something?"

"Shuddup," Dean mutters with a good-natured smirk. He heads back into the lobby, not wanting to keep Cas waiting. Ben's nowhere to be seen, but that probably just means he's playing on his tablet by the car. Dean locks the paychecks in his office and goes out the back door, finding Ben just where he expected. "Let's go, kiddo."

As they climb in, Ben looks up from his game to ask, "You know it's weird for you to take your son on a date, right?"

Dean recognizes the underlying serious question and turns to his son, leveling him with a look. "He's my mate, Ben. This isn't like casual dating. He's going to be a part of our family for the rest of our lives. I want you to get to know him and like him as much as I know I will, okay?"

Ben raises an eyebrow in a look Dean knows masks his insecurities. "Yeah, okay. Still weird, though."

"Deal with it, kid." Dean ruffles his hair forcefully and starts the car up, letting the loud screaming of Lars Ulrich drown out any further sarcastic questions by his son.

Castiel is already settled in a corner booth when they get there, three waters and menus set out. His eyes lock on Dean as soon as they're through the door and don't leave his face until Ben settles into the booth. Dean hesitates at the table, caught between wanting to be near Cas and minding propriety in the face of his son. He finally settles next to Ben with a heavy whoosh of the bench seat. In the time it has taken him to decide, Castiel and Ben have started talking.

"Pineapple pizza's my favorite, but Dad likes meat lover's. What about you?" Ben's asking, picking up his menu.

"I enjoy meat lover's, as well," Castiel answers, darting an almost mischievous look at Dean.

"Do you?" Dean asks in shameless flirtation.

Ben groans over-dramatically and slumps in his seat. "Are you guys gonna flirt this whole meal? 'Cause I'm not gonna be able to eat, if that's the case."

Dean pokes his son in the ribs with a look. "Watch it, kid. I might have to trade you in at the orphanage."

Ben makes a bitch face that just might have out bitch-faced Sammy. "Yeah, you do that. I'd love to see Mom's face when you drop off some random kid next Wednesday."

Dean roughs his hair up and pushes his menu at him. Before he can say anything else, Castiel interrupts with a cocked head and squinty eyes. "Ben is your biological son. Can you easily exchange him for another child at an orphanage?"

Dean frowns, confused. Ben quickly shakes his head. "Dad was joking, Mr. Novak. I don't even think they have orphanages anymore."

"Oh, yes, that makes more sense." His features soften into a smile. "You may call me Castiel, if you like, Ben. I am your father's mate, after all."

"Castiel? That's a weird name," Ben says. Dean considers murder again, something he has a feeling he'll be doing a lot of.

Castiel's smile widens as though he hears this comment all the time and is amused by it. "Yes, I am named after the angel of Thursday. My mother is a religious scholar, although she purposely spelled the name incorrectly when she wrote it on my birth certificate. The majority of biblical texts spell it Cassiel, with two S's instead of a T. My mother thought the T gives the name a bit more structure and strength."

Dean blinks, a little taken aback by the mini-lecture. Ben hadn't been wrong about the weird stories. It was kind of cute though, how pleased he looked with himself to be able to tell it. Dean returns his smile, trying not to focus on his kissable lips too much. "Interesting story," he offers, not knowing how else to respond.

Thankfully, Ben is smoother in his reply. "Were you born on a Thursday, then? I was born on Friday the Thirteenth. Dad always says it's why I'm so weird."

Castiel chuckles. "I was born on a Thursday, yes. I don't think your father is correct, though. I don't find you unusual in the slightest."

The conversation gets easier from there, and Dean learns that Cas worked as a CPA for a few years before deciding he didn't want to sit in a desk chair all day, and getting a job in the sorting room of the post office. He'd been there for two years before the trial run as a carrier hadn't worked out, and he'd been working as a substitute teacher ever since. Once dinner is eaten and paid for—by Castiel at his own insistence—Ben reminds Dean that he promised ice cream after.

Dean eyes Cas. "I did promise the kid. You wanna come with us? It's just down the street a couple blocks."

Castiel squints at him for a minute with a look Dean can't read. Then he nods, a smile creeping up his lips. "Ice cream sounds delightful." Ben whoops in glee and leads them in the direction of the Dairy Queen three blocks down, Dean and Cas trailing a few yards behind him. As they walk, Dean feels soft fingers brush his hand and looks down to find Castiel's reaching for him. He links their fingers together without a second thought, enjoying the warm press of their palms against each other and the soft, sweet scent of Cas drifting to his nose.

"So, besides your mom, what is the rest of your family like? Got any siblings?" Dean asks.

"Mmm, I have five older brothers and two older sisters." He doesn't appear to find anything odd in this statement, but it throws Dean for a loop.

"You have seven brothers and sisters? Jesus, and I thought Sammy was a little much to handle at times."

"Sammy? Is that your brother's name?"

"Yeah, my little brother, four years younger. He's living with me while he finishes his law degree. I think you'll like him. He's a nerd, too," Dean tells him with a teasing smile and a squeeze of his hand. Castiel chuckles.

"What makes you think I'm a nerd?"

"Dude, you wear vests, and I don't even think you're doing it ironically. You are totally a nerd."

Castiel looks down at his vest with a half-amused, half-confused smile. "But what is wrong with wearing a vest? It's comfortable and adds a level of professionalism, don't you think?" He doesn't sound offended, much to Dean's relief.

"Oh, I think it's hot, definitely, but also very, very nerdy." Castiel elbows him with a tiny smile, but doesn't say anything in response. The Dairy Queen looms ahead, and they are both distracted with catching up to Ben and ordering their ice cream.

They settle on a metal picnic table to eat, Ben on one side, Dean and Cas on the other. Dean straddles the bench seat so that he can better watch Cas eat, shameless in his ogling. "Get this, Ben: Cas has seven siblings," Dean says before shoving a giant spoonful of Peanut Butter Parfait in his mouth.

Ben's eyes grow as wide as dinner plates as he looks from Dean to Cas. "Seriously? Wow."

Cas smiles, licking delicately at his chocolate-dipped vanilla cone. "Yes, it's true."

"Can you name them all?" Dean asks, scooting closer so that his bent knee brushes against Cas' back. Cas gives him a shy smile over his cone.

"Of course I can, but remember that my mother is a Biblical scholar. Michael is the oldest, then Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel, Balthazar, Anna, and Rachel. And lastly there is me, the only male omega in the last three hundred years of my family's history."

"They don't treat you differently for that, right? I mean, you can't be the only omega in the family, even if you are the only male," Dean asks, still remembering the way Cas had called him Alpha earlier.

Castiel hesitates, looking from Dean to Ben for a moment with a little frown marring his gorgeous mouth. "Anna is an omega, as well, but male omegas are different. I am treated the way my mother believes all male omegas should be treated."

"And what way is that?" Dean doesn't think he's going to like the answer.

"I mind my place in the family, and am treated well for it."

"And when you don't 'mind your place'?"

Cas looks down at his cone solemnly. "I would rather not talk about it. This ice cream is excellent. Thank you for inviting me to accompany you," he says, the cheery turn of his voice obviously forced. Dean has a feeling he has his work cut out for him, but he isn't going to push his mate. They'll figure it out in their own time.

"I'm glad you came," he says with a warm smile, running his knuckles down Cas' spine and enjoying the shiver it causes in the other. Ben makes a face at their show of affection, but thankfully keeps his comments to himself

When they return to the Luconi's parking lot a half an hour later, Dean tosses his keys to Ben. "Go find the car, but do not turn her on." He levels a warning look at Ben, who joys in nothing more than turning the car on and pretending to drive her. It has resulted in more than one dented fender. Ben makes a face at him, but heads in the direction they'd parked without further comment. Dean turns back to Cas with an apologetic smile. "So, can I walk you to your car?" he asks, feeling a little lame.

Castiel smiles back. "If you wish to." He turns and leads Dean back to where he parked the Nova. When he turns at the driver's side door, he looks nervous.

Dean steps closer to him, into his personal space. "Did you have a good time?"

"I did. I enjoyed getting to know both you and Ben."

"Awesome. I was worried Ben was gonna be a little asshole, but I'm glad you like him. You uh… wouldn't want to go out again, would you? Maybe just the two of us?"

Castiel twists his head to the side in a look of confusion. "Why are you asking as though my answer will be no? You are my mate."

Dean sighs, a tiny bit frustrated, but shakes himself of it with a little chuff of a laugh. "Dating, remember? Like people?"

"And not animals, yes, I remember. Fine, yes, of course I would like to go out with you again."

"Awesome. How about tomorrow night? I'll take you to that place on 27th Street, the Shift House? My brother took his mate there a couple months ago, and they both said the food was really good."

Castiel smiles the kind of smile that holds a secret and nods. "Yes, the food there is quite excellent."

"Is that a yes then?"

"That is a yes."

"Awesome. Can I kiss you now? Cause I really, really want to kiss you." His eyes drop to Cas' pink lips, and he finds himself leaning closer.

Castiel's tongue darts out to lick those perfect lips, and Dean melts a little at the sight. Cas nods with a pleased little smile. Dean cups his face in his hands and presses their lips together, and Castiel melts into him. Dean feels a shiver go through Cas that matches his own. He steps closer, pressing their bodies flush. Cas' hands drift to his waist, tentative but warm. When Dean licks into his mouth, a little keening whine escapes Cas' lips. It sends a rush of lust to Dean's brain, and he pushes Cas backwards into his car, dominating the kiss. Cas' grip on Dean's sides tightens as Dean sucks at his bottom lip.

They're interrupted by a loud honk Dean recognizes as coming from the Impala. Dean pulls away with a shake of his head. "That little asshole," he mutters, pressing a soft kiss to Castiel's lips. The horn honks again, more insistently. Dean curses under his breath. "Alright, so I gotta go before he gives me more reason to kill him. I'll see you tomorrow?" There's a third, long honk, which Dean ignores. "Can I pick you up or you wanna drive yourself?"

Castiel cocks his head to the side, considering Dean, and it's definitely not the most fucking adorable thing Dean's ever seen. Not at all. "I believe I will forgo riding in your sexy car for one more date, if you don't mind."

"Okay, but your missing out. Meet you at the restaurant at 7:30?"

"7:30 it is." Dean grins and kisses him again, completely ignoring the half-dozen honks in quick succession. Castiel hums into his mouth and digs nails into his jacket sleeve, kissing him back. When he pulls away with a final peck, Cas' eyes are hooded and watery with lust, and it is a physical effort for Dean to let him go.

"Night, Cas."

"Good night, Dean," Cas says hoarsely. Dean waits until he gets into his car before turning to stalk after his son.

page break

He doesn't see Cas right away when he gets to the restaurant, so he walks over to the hostess with a charming smile. "Hey there, have you seated a tall guy, around thirty, dark hair, gorgeous blue eyes?"

The hostess looks him over with appreciation and smiles. "Do you mean Castiel?"

Dean blinks, surprised that the hostess knows Cas by name, but brushes it off with a brighter smile. "Yeah, is he here?"

"Right this way, sir." The girl steps out from behind her podium and leads him to a corner table in the back, set apart by a half-wall divider to provide privacy. He understands right away why he didn't see Cas; he's almost completely hidden by the divider with his back to the restaurant. He lights up upon seeing Dean and stands to greet him. The hostess looks surprised when that greeting includes a kiss to Dean's cheek and a warm smile. Dean squeezes Cas' sides, momentarily lost in his sweet scent before he's able to remember to thank the hostess so she can go back to the front.

Once she's gone, Dean returns Cas' smile and squeezes his sides again. "Hey there, gorgeous. How are you?"

"I am well, Dean. How are you?" Castiel's voice is like fine sand, a little gritty, but oh-so-sinfully-soft. It makes Dean want to bury his nose in Cas' neck and drown in him.

"Awesome, now that I'm with you." He pecks Cas' lips and ushers him back into his seat before taking the seat opposite. "So, swanky table you got here. Did you make a reservation? You know that's my job, since I'm the one who asked you out, right?"

Castiel smiles, but tries to hide it behind his water glass. "I have my ways. How was work today?"

Dean tables his curiosity about Cas' statement and picks up his menu. Cas must have already chosen what he wants because his menu is folded over his dinner plate, untouched. "Great, now that I got the paperwork done for the week. I got to spend the morning working on this cherry red '68 Chevelle. You should have seen the engine on her. Ugh, man, I can't wait to hear her purr again."

"I don't think I know what a Chevelle looks like. Is it nice?"

"It's cherry. Not as sweet as the Impala, but it's pretty damn close." Dean pulls his phone out of his back pocket and fumbles through the pictures until he finds one of the exterior and passes it off to Cas.

Cas takes the phone with a tiny frown and peers at the screen for a minute before smiling. "Yes, it is very nice. I must confess I know next to nothing about cars."

"Yeah, I got that yesterday. It's okay. I'll educate you." He pauses, considers Cas for a moment. "That is, if you want to learn."

"I would like to learn more about your work, as I would like to learn more about every aspect of your life."

Dean beams at him. "Me, too, man. What made you want to sub?"

Castiel cocks his head to the side, smiling faintly. "As I told you yesterday, I like children. They have an open curiosity and thirst for knowledge that adults tend to lack. I've thought off and on about getting my teaching certificate, but I do not think I would enjoy the workload. Now it would just be pointless to try."

"What do you mean, now?"

Castiel frowns, clearly confused by Dean's question. "Now there's you to consider. I assume you will want to have children, and I will need to stay home to care for them. Getting a degree will be next to useless when I will not be working."

Dean raises an eyebrow, a little surprised, but he doesn't get to answer before the waitress, a pretty blonde beta, pops up at their table to take their orders. She is extra perky and apparently knows Cas by name, too, because she asks him how he is and insists on being introduced to Dean. Castiel looks apprehensive as he introduces them, and says something about not telling Balthazar. The waitress, Wendy, beams at him and assures him she won't, but a gleam in her eye tells Dean she probably will. She looks like the gossip type. Not that Dean has any clue who Balthazar is. Ex, maybe? The wolf hiding in the back of Dean's head growls low and long, but Dean pushes it down. It's ridiculous to think Cas has been celibate for his entire life up until this point. He kisses like a fucking pornstar, after all. There's no way that came naturally.

Finally, they're ready to order. Dean gets the rib-eye steak with mashed potatoes and some sort of green vegetable he will not be eating, while Castiel orders some sort of crazy thing Dean's not sure he can even pronounce. Once she leaves, Dean leans over his place setting to level his gaze on Cas, ready to continue their conversation.

"I do want pups, you're right, but I don't expect you to stay home if you don't want to. There're plenty of daycares out there, and I've got like an army of people who I know will help us out with babysitting if we need it. I know we don't know each other very well, but I'm not into boring traditional values. I want you to be happy. If you want to go get your teaching degree and be a teacher, then that's what you'll do. Okay?"

Castiel looks confused again. "But…"

"Nope, no buts. You want to go back to school, we'll figure it out."

Castiel is hesitant, but nods. "All right. I haven't thought about it in a serious way, yet. Teachers work much longer hours than they are paid for. I don't know if it is something I want to do."

"Well, think about it. Do you like subbing?"

"I do. I like that I walk into an entirely different environment and different challenges every day. There are some weeks I work exclusively with junior high and high school children, some weeks I alternate preschool with high school and even physical education classes. I have to admit, the latter is not my favorite, but it keeps life interesting, certainly."

"That why you only subbed for Ben's class the once? Man, you have no idea how frustrating that was. I even had Ben on alert for you. Didn't tell him why, obviously."

"Ben's teacher is rarely out. He was only absent that day because his daughter had an emergency tonsillectomy."

"Is it bad that I sort of wish his daughter needed surgery more often?"

Castiel shakes his head and chuckles. "You're a horrible person. You should be ashamed of yourself."

Dean grins, recognizing the sarcasm. "Yeah well, I'm your mate, so you're gonna have to deal with me." He leans further over the table with a flirty smile. "And I'm so not sorry for that."

"Oh? You don't feel sorry for me being stuck with such a heartless, cruel alpha, who wishes painful surgery on small children just for the chance to see me again?" Castiel flirts back, drawing a circle around the rim of his wineglass in a move so sexy it has Dean practically salivating. He leans over further.

"I'll only feel sorry for you if you don't get to spend the rest of your life with me." He feels the brush of a leather-tipped foot across his ankle and stretches it out to give Cas more room to touch. They go on like this, flirting back and forth, sharing tentative touches of hands and shod feet, until the food arrives twenty minutes later, and with it a blond man wearing a messy chef's uniform and a Chesire smile. Castiel looks extremely displeased to see him.

"Cassie, how lovely to see you in my area of the world. When little Wendy said you were in, and on a date of all things, I suspected she'd got back on the coke again, but no. Here you are. And here is your quite sexy date. Hello." The dude shoots Dean a flirtatious smile and a wink as he leans on their table. He has a fancy British accent and a smug attitude that Dean doesn't really like.

Castiel shuffles uncomfortably on his seat. Dean can smell irritation in his scent, and it sends Dean on alert. Definitely an ex, then. "Balthazar, this is Dean Winchester. Dean, this is my brother, Balthazar Milton." Not ex, then. Good. Dean didn't want to have to bring the dude out back and punch him in the middle of their date. Now that he has context, he vaguely remembers Cas saying the name when he was listing his brothers, but it was a long list, and Dean's memory for names isn't great. Now that he has a face to reference, he won't forget again.

"Dean, what a pleasure to meet you. You are quite nice to look at, I must say. Much better than that shit-storm, Zachariah. How did the two of you meet?"

Cas hesitates, looking at Dean with an expression he can't read. "Dean is my mate," he answers, almost too softly to be heard.

Balthazar raises his eyebrows. "Really? Well, this is a delicious little tidbit, isn't it? Congratulations to the both of you." He snaps his finger in the direction of a passing waiter, who abruptly stops and turns. "Get me a bottle of Moët. Celebration is in order. My little brother has found his mate." The waiter nods and quickly heads in the opposite direction he was going without a word.

"Balthazar, no, no thank you. That won't be necessary. Can you stop telling your staff, please? Dean and I only met each other yesterday, and I don't want Mother to know about this yet. You know what her reaction will be."

Balthazar nods, a knowing and slightly mischievous expression on his face. "Oh yes, that should be delicious. Zachariah is ever so rich, after all. What do you do for a living, Dean, darling?"

Dean frowns, confused by their conversation. Who was Zachariah and what does it matter how much money he has? "I'm a mechanic. I have a shop down on Belleview."

"Dean also restores classic cars. He was just showing me a picture of a beautiful car he was working on this morning. A Chevelle, wasn't it?"

The waiter returns with a bottle of champagne and three glasses. Balthazar indicates that he should pour them, completely ignoring Castiel's distressed look. He hands Castiel a glass, and then Dean, before taking up his own and sipping from it, giving Dean a considering look over the rim of the glass. "A business owner, hmm? Mother will like that. Couldn't you own something more sophisticated, though, like a bank or an investment firm?

"Balthazar, please," Castiel says, although it is unclear what he is asking, at least to Dean.

"Yes, Yes, Cassie, fine. I will leave your alpha alone." He gives Dean another considering look. It would make Dean squirm if he wasn't already so irritated by the guy and how uncomfortable he's making Cas. "You are quite enjoyable to look at, I must say, Dean. I cannot wait to tell Gabriel that our little Cassie has scored himself such a hunky alpha."

That statement does make Dean squirm, as does the look of pure alarm that crosses Cas' face. "Balthazar, NO! Gabriel cannot keep a secret. He will tell Mother, I know it. The first time she sees him after he learns of this, she will sense that he knows something and question him until he gives in. Remember your marriage to that French woman? The human?"

Balthazar shudders, giving Cas a withering look. "We were never going to mention that particular incident again. I thought we agreed."

"I apologize, but I needed to make my point. I would like to be able to get to know Dean for at least a few weeks before Mother can get her claws on him. Telling Gabriel will ensure that we get no peace."

Balthazar looks as though he might agree, but then a tiny smirk blooms on his lips. "I would have thought you would be chomping at the bit to tell Mother you've found your true mate, if only to remove the looming threat of marrying that old windbag, Zachariah."

"Marrying who? What? Cas isn't marrying anyone but me. What's going on? Who's Zachariah?" Dean interrupts them, unable to keep his tongue as soon as the word marriage enters the conversation. His inner wolf begins to growl again, low and dark in the back of his head. This time, he doesn't shut it up.

Castiel frowns at his brother, but turns a reassuring smile on Dean, covering Dean's hand with his own on top of the table. "You are absolutely correct. A year ago, my mother decided that it was time for me to find a mate and begin producing children. As I had not met you yet and I have never been permitted to date socially, she decided that it would be best for me to enter an arranged marriage. Zachariah is the alpha she chose for me. Balthazar is correct; he is very well off financially, but his money is the only attraction he affords. He is nearly two decades my senior and is rather..."

"Ugly. You can say it, Cassie. He's a hideous middle-aged balding man with a pot belly, the consideration of a Nazi, and the personality of a garden slug," Balthazar offers. Castiel nods reluctantly in agreement of the statement.

"Do I need to take him out? Cause I can challenge him, if you want. He's not getting you, either way."

"Thank you, but that will not be necessary. I wish only to keep our relationship from my mother long enough to solidify our mating so that she cannot question our status as mates."

Solidifying their status? Did that mean Cas was considering letting Dean mark him? Knot him? The very thought sent Dean's nerves alight with anticipatory pleasure. All he'd been able to think about for the last seven months was having his mate underneath him, open and waiting to be marked and knotted and full of his seed. "Okay. We can do that," Dean reassures him in a huskier voice than he intended. Balthazar raises an eyebrow at him, but only smirks into his second glass of champagne without comment.

"I hope so. It will depend on whether or not my sibling can keep his mouth closed." Cas levels a glare on Balthazar, which does not appear to faze his brother.

"No worries, Cassie, I won't tell a soul until you give me leave. Cross my heart." He uses one finger to draw a cross over his chest with a level of sass Dean can't help but admire. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Dean Winchester. I hope you make my little brother very happy." He leans over the table for what Dean is alarmed to discover is a kiss to his cheek. He lingers, whispering in Dean's ear, "And if you don't, remember I know where you work. One phone call, and it will burn to the ground. Understood?"

Dean pulls abruptly away to gawp at him. He's never had anyone but another alpha threaten him with such ferocity before. It's ballsy, but also kind of badass for a skinny British beta wearing an apron. Dean has to admire his fierce protective instincts.

"No need, dude. That's my number one priority."

Cas cocks his head to the side in confusion, and yeah, that's definitely fucking adorable. Dean waves him off with a 'don't worry about it' expression, and Balthazar leans over to kiss the lines of confusion off his forehead. "I will see you later, Cassie. Enjoy your evening, and congratulations on finding your alpha."

"Thank you, Balthazar." His brother nods and flounces away in the most flamboyant manner possible. Dean watches him disappear into the kitchen before he turns back to Cas, who is watching Dean with an expression of warmth.

"What?" Dean asks.

"I was simply admiring your profile. You are quite attractive, you know," Cas answers with a sexy smirk.

Dean returns it with a sly smirk of his own. "Why thank you. You're not so bad yourself. I'd ask if you want to get outta here, but I can't promise not to try to get you naked if we go somewhere alone together."

"Are you propositioning me?"

"If I was, would it get me anywhere?" he asks with a stomach full of hopeful butterflies.

"Maybe..." Cas' expression is still interested, but his voice and his scent hold a hint of apprehension that shuts Dean's libido down immediately. He almost forgot for a moment. They've only known each other two days. Cas isn't ready for anything more than heavy petting, Dean knows. He also knows without Cas outwardly saying it that Cas has been trained not to say no to his alpha, which means he'd go through with whatever Dean wanted to make him happy, even if it made Cas himself incredibly uncomfortable. Even the thought of it is enough to turn Dean's stomach. He wants full consent and an eager omega squirming under him, begging for his knot.

He smiles at Cas. "Maybe after dinner," he says, indicating the plates set out in front of them both. Dean is still confused as to what Cas ordered. He doesn't recognize it as any food he's ever seen before, but he can tell there are oysters and some sort of green vegetable. Weird. Whatever makes him happy though, Dean supposes.

Dean's steak looks perfectly cooked, and he can barely wait for Cas to pick up his fork to carve off a piece and devour it. He makes an undignified noise of appreciation, and when he looks up, Cas is giving him a heated look. "Like your steak?"

"Oh yeah, this is awesome."

"Good," he says. Dean watches him pick up his fork and delicately pry a bit of meat from one of the oysters. He momentarily forgets his own meal in favor of staring at his dinner companion. The careful, precise movements of Castiel's hands, the gentle way he slides the greasy bit of meat into his mouth, it mesmerizes Dean. He thinks about the ways such precision can be brought to the bedroom. Will Castiel show that kind of care when he's peeling Dean's clothes off? Or sucking him off? Or riding his knot?

Dean flushes, ashamed at where he's let his head go. They're at a classy restaurant, and his mate's brother could pop out at any moment to check on them. He shouldn't be thinking about sex. If he isn't careful, it will show in his scent. A brush of Castiel's leather sole against his pants leg tells him Cas has noticed. When Dean meets his eyes, they are dark with a heat of their own. Dean almost chokes on his own spit at the spark it sends through him. Castiel looks back at his meal with a pleased little smile that causes a ball of warmth to bloom in Dean's stomach. He goes back to his meal, but the back of his mind is filled with the heat of that gaze.

When they finish eating, Castiel attempts to insist on paying again, but Dean won't let him. "Dude, no. I invited you. I picked the restaurant. I'm paying. You got the check last time. It's my turn. This isn't like an alpha thing, it's a fairness thing."

"You've waived what was no-doubt a hefty repair bill for my car. I insist that you let me repay you," Cas continues to protest, but it is met with deaf ears.

"Nope. You paid last time—for my kid even, which you didn't have to. My treat this time, no more arguing." Castiel does not look pleased, but he capitulates. When Wendy returns for their plates, they discover that the little disagreement was unnecessary.

"Oh no, Mr. Milton insisted your meal be on the house. He's too swamped in the kitchen to come out again, but he told me to tell you congratulations on your future mating, and that he will call you tomorrow, Castiel. I would also like to say congratulations. It's probably not my place, but I'm glad you won't have to mate that Zachariah guy." She wrinkles her nose, and though Dean's hackles are up just hearing the guy's name, he can't resist getting a little dirt on him.

"Why's that, Wendy?" he asks with his most devastating smile. He sees Castiel shoot him a look across the table, but pretends not to.

She hesitates, looking to Castiel for a second before answering. "He's not a good tipper."

"Well, never fear, I am an excellent tipper," Dean assures her. She grins at him and makes sure they don't need anything else before stepping away with their discarded dishes. When Dean looks back to Castiel, he gets the feeling he's about to be reprimanded.

"Does it bother you that I was betrothed?"

Dean is surprised that he has to ask. "Well, yeah. I know I said we should take it slow, act like people or whatever, but I don't plan on this going anywhere but us mated and hanging out on a porch somewhere when we're ninety, covered in grandpups. Anyone who thinks he might have a claim on you makes me uncomfortable."

Castiel looks long and hard at him, twisting his napkin in his lap in a sign of nerves before nodding. "Good. I... believe I would like that as well."

"Really?" Dean feels all fluttery again.

"Yes." Castiel returns his smile, and Dean can't think of anything else but getting closer to him. He grabs his wallet from his back pocket and starts pulling out enough bills to cover the tip of the giant bill they won't be getting. Cas watches him with a glimmer in his eyes.

"Awesome. Ready to go?"

"Are we going home?"

"No, I thought maybe we could go for a walk?"

Cas cocks his head to the side. "Is 'go for a walk' code for making out in your very sexy car?"

Dean grins sheepishly. "It can be?"

"Then, yes." Cas stands, prompting Dean to stand as well. He drops the bills on the table while Cas pulls on a tan trench coat of all things. Dean slips his arm around Cas' waist, no longer worrying about getting permission to touch. He has it. Cas leans into his touch without hesitation, and he takes a second to bury his nose in Cas' hair as they walk towards the exit, waving to Wendy as they go. He pretends not to see the dopey smile she has while waving back at them.

When they reach the fresh air, Dean turns into Cas, looking the scant inch down at him. "So? Car or walk?"

"Walk, then car?"

Dean grins, squeezing Cas' side. "I like how you think." They turn down the street, walking at a leisurely pace. "So, I gotta ask, what's with your brother? Is he adopted or something?"

Castiel chuckles. "You are referring to his accent, I assume? He went to a culinary school in England and came back with the most obnoxious accent. He was only there for three years, but you would swear he was born there for how attached he is to the accent. Gabriel makes fun of him mercilessly."

Dean laughs. "That's not much better than my brother. Went to undergrad in California and came back eating kale." Dean shutters at the thought, wishing as he always does that his little brother ate like a normal Kansas boy.

"Is there something wrong with kale?"

"Oh Christ, please tell me you aren't in the kale fan club, too. I don't think I can handle being mated to someone who doesn't eat red meat."

Castiel smiles, leaning into his space more than necessary. "I enjoy a good cheeseburger as well as the next person, but I do have a taste for kale chips, as well. Do they have to be mutually exclusive?"

"Kale is disgusting, dude! It has like no flavor, and it's all bitter. It's worse than eating a lemon."

"You just said it doesn't have any flavor, and yet it is bitter? That is an oxymoron, Dean."

Dean shoots him a mock glare. "Shuddup, you know what I mean. It's gross."

Castiel smiles, amusement lighting his eyes. "I suppose we shall have to agree to disagree."

"Yeah, okay. I'm gonna make you change your mind, though."

"Perhaps it is I who will change your mind. I will have to ask Balthazar to make his kale chips for you."

Dean crinkles his nose. "No thanks."

Castiel chuckles again and leans up to kiss Dean's cheek. Dean feels the soft heat of his lips even after they've gone.

"So, I wasn't just talking about his accent. Wendy called him Mr. Milton? I thought your name was Novak?" Dean asks a few minutes later, after he's recovered from the kiss.

Castiel looks down at their feet, not saying anything for a moment. "Milton is the name I was born with. Novak is the name I've chosen for myself. I wished to distinguish myself from my mother and her work. The name came from the model of my car."

Dean is stuck, confused. "I thought your mom was a Biblical scholar. Who do you know who reads that stuff?"

Castiel hesitates further. "She is a Biblical scholar, but a majority of her work deals with the Biblical interpretation of lupan reproductive behaviors."

Dean blinks at him. "Huh?"

"She interprets what the Bible says about alpha, beta, and omega dynamics, particularly how each fits in the social structure. She could be considered an extremist. Anyone who pays attention to academic discussion of lupan dynamics knows her name. I did not want anyone to make assumptions about me and my behavior based on her work. They make enough assumptions about me based on my omega status as it is." The last he says quietly, almost bitterly. Dean pulls him closer.

"People are assholes," is all Dean can answer to that. He has assumptions made about his own behavior sometimes, but he knows it's a lot worse for omegas, particularly male omegas, and he's not insensitive enough to say anything.

"I don't think so. They are just taught to believe certain things, based on stereotypes and preconceived notions. It is not always their fault."

"But sometimes it is, and those people are assholes."

Castiel doesn't answer right away. Dean rubs circles into his back through his coat and kisses his temple, thinking. He wants to tuck Cas away in his arms and hide him from the world, but he knows that his alpha brain is saying that, and he's not going to listen to that side of himself. He's startled from his thoughts by Cas' soft words. "What made you decide to become a mechanic?" he asks.

"My dad was a mechanic. He bought the Impala when he first proposed to my mom, and he made me love it as much as he did. We used to work on it together when I was little. He taught me all about fixing old cars. When he decided to open his own shop, I went to trade school and get a license so I could work there. When he died, I took over the shop. I started taking on classic restorations a year later, found out I love it. I've been doing more and more restores ever since."

"When did you father die?"

"Three years ago, heart attack."

"I'm sorry to hear that. My own father left the family shortly after I was born. I can't imagine the loss you must feel."

Dean shrugs, unable to say much else. He loved his dad, but their relationship had been complicated at best. They lull into silence again, comfortable, impenetrable. They go through the park, strolling down the meandering sidewalks with no set destination. Dean would like to ask about Cas' father, but he also still wants to make out in the backseat of the Impala, and he gets the sense that the two are mutually exclusive. Half-way through the park, he feels Cas' nose nudge at his collar, hears him inhale softly, scenting. The low hum of Cas' pleasure reassures him that Cas likes his scent as much as he likes Cas'. The warmth that bloomed inside him upon first meeting Cas intensifies, and he quietly steers them back in the direction of the car.

"Can we stop here?" Cas asks, indicating a bench. Dean doesn't understand at first. Cas has to tug him down and scoot right into his personal space before he gets the idea. "I don't want to wait until we get to the car," Cas clarifies, though by now it's unnecessary. He leans in and presses his lips to Dean's, and there's a lot more heat than he would have expected. He clutches at Cas' coat, groaning as Cas slides his hot, wet tongue along Dean's bottom lip. Dean lets him control the kiss for a while, curious where he'll take things. Cas grips onto the back of Dean's neck, holding him tight and close as he explores his mouth.

His scent is sticky sweet and sends Dean's own arousal into overdrive. Before he knows what he's doing, he's pulling Cas onto his knees, lifting his hips ever so slightly to brush against Cas' clothed bottom. Cas mewls into his mouth, pressing his ass down against Dean, fingers tightening in Dean's hair. Dean thinks about stripping him, laying him out on the bench and pulling layer upon layer off him. He thinks of sliding between Cas' bare thighs, touching his slick opening, sliding into wet heat, driving his knot in and filling Cas up with his pups.

It is only when he feels his knot begin to swell that he decides it is time to calm things down. He pulls gently away from Cas' mouth, already mourning the sweet taste of it. Cas looks down at him with worried, hurt eyes. Dean reassures him with a smile, rubbing circles into the back of his vest, hands having buried themselves beneath his bulky trench sometime in the middle of their kiss. "Sorry, sweetheart, just needed to calm down a little before we get arrested for public indecency," he explains.

The worry melts from Cas' face, and he leans down to lay a soft, chaste kiss on Dean's lips. "Probably best. I was picturing the best way to rip all of your clothes off."

"Yeah? What'd you come up with?" Dean asks, unable to help the lust from seeping into his voice.

"I was going to tear your shirt down the front and then shove everything off of you."

"Were you? What if I like this shirt?"

"I'd buy you another."

"I like the way you think. Come on, let's get back to the car so at least we'll be less visible to passersby." He gently encourages Cas off his lap and stands, grabbing for his hand. Cas curls his fingers between Dean's, and they make their way back to the restaurant parking lot. If they walk a little faster than they did coming the other way, neither comments.

When Cas sees the Impala, his breath catches just for a second. It's exactly the kind of reaction Dean loves. He escorts Cas into the back seat, suddenly very interested in getting that fucking trench coat off of him, maybe even the vest, too. Cas doesn't object to sprawling out in the backseat and making out like teenagers. When Cas wraps his clothed legs around Dean's hips and thrusts their groins together, Dean has a moment where he thinks he might already be in love.

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"You've been really weird lately. It's like someone shot you up with sunshine and rainbows. If I didn't know better, I might think you'd mated," Sam says over the dinner table two nights after Dean came home with hickeys on his neck and Cas' scent all over his clothes.

Dean looks down at his burrito, trying not to give anything away. He's been getting enough ribbing at the shop. He just wants a whole week to have Cas to himself before Sammy butts in and starts insisting he tell their mom or something. "Don't know what you're talking about. I'm always a ball of sunshine."

Sam snorts. "Dude, you've been an asshole for like three months. Even Mom noticed."

"She did not. Shut up."

"So you admit it?"

Dean makes a face at him, but he knows he's going to have to cave. He's not going to be able to hide the stupid smile he gets every time he gets a text from Cas for much longer. He heaves a sigh and sets down his burrito. "Fine, you're right. I scented my mate back in March, but didn't meet him face-to-face."

Sam narrows his eyes, calculating. "The mail."

Dean nods. "Yeah. He brought his car into the shop on Wednesday."

Sam stares at him as if waiting for more. Dean takes another bite of his dinner and pretends not to see. "Dude."

"What?"

"Is that all? You just met your mate! Congratulations! What's he like? What's his name? Do you like him? Did you get his number? Is he an omega? Did you tell Mom yet? What about Ben?"

Dean sighs again and shoves his burrito back onto the plate for the second time. At this rate, it'll be cold before he gets to actually finish it. "Ben met him before I did. He subbed for Ben's class. We all went out for pizza together the night I met him."

"And? What's his name?"

"Castiel Novak." Dean stops, shakes his head. "Milton? I'm not really sure. I think Milton is his legal name, but he tells people it's Novak so he doesn't have to deal with anyone connecting him with his mom."

"Who's his mom?"

"Uh..." Dean racks his brain. Cas said, he thinks. Natalie? Nora? "Naomi Milton. She's some kind of fancy professor, writes a lot about how omegas should know their place and be barefoot and pregnant at all times. Bullshit, obviously. I think she really fucked Cas up. He called me 'Alpha' when we first met and thought I was gonna put him over my desk and knot him right there. It was weird." Sam's eyes are so big it's almost funny. Dean has to stop and look at him. "What?"

"Naomi Milton is a strong advocate for traditional family values. We read her paper on the Alpha right to claiming in my Omega Rights class back in undergrad. You should have heard what she thought omegas should have to do for us. It made me sick."

Dean's stomach sinks a little, but he brushes it away. He knew Cas' mom was a freak. He'll just have to work extra hard to show Cas that he shouldn't have to be a househusband if he doesn't want to be. "Well, that's his mom. He's pretty cool, though. Kinda weird, but weird in a way that's kinda hot, you know? I think Ben likes him."

"Did you tell Mom yet?"

"Not yet. I was thinking about inviting him to breakfast on Sunday. Think she would care?" Their mother had been complaining that she doesn't get to see them enough now that the summer is over, and Dean is no longer holding barbeques. As an appeasement, they started meeting for breakfast dates with her on Sunday mornings. Ben's there on Dean's weeks, and Lisa comes with Brian-the-Doctor when they can. Jess comes when she isn't working at the hospital.

Sam is looking at him like he's an alien. "No, Dean, I don't think Mom will mind if you bring your mate to breakfast. Were you gonna tell her before Sunday? She might get a little mad you didn't tell her right away."

"Didn't wanna jinx it. He's way too good for me. Wasn't sure he'd stay," Dean mumbles, eyes on his plate. Sam kicks him under the table, hard. Dean glares. "Shut up. You haven't met him yet. He's fucking gorgeous."

"He's your mate, dude. Of course he's gonna stick around. What's wrong with you?"

"I swear to God, if you don't shut up, I'm shoving that burrito down your pants, Oprah."

Sam rolls his eyes, but stops interrogating him for a while. By the time he starts up again, Cas has sent him another text, and Dean's finished with dinner. He gets up, leaving the dishes for Sam to take care of, and goes to put in a movie.


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When they pull up to the restaurant, Cas looks like he might have a heart attack at any moment. Dean unbuckles his seat belt as Sam climbs out of the back, but he doesn't get out. Instead, he cups Cas' cheek across the bench seat, forcing him to make eye contact. “Don't be so nervous, okay? It'll be alright. Mom's gonna love you. How could she not? You're amazing.”

Castiel's eyes soften, and he lets Dean pull him closer. “I don't want to be a disappointment to you,” he says, quiet and still a little scared.

Dean kisses his forehead. He hates saying this shit, but he's willing to do or say about anything to get that look off Cas' face. “You could never be a disappointment, no matter what my mother or anyone else thinks of you. Just be yourself, and I'm sure she'll think your as awesome as I do.”

“What if she doesn't?”

”That won't happen, but if we accidentally fall into a parallel universe where my mother has turned crazy and doesn't like you, she'll have to deal. I'm not letting you go any time soon.” Dean seals the promise with a kiss. Cas lifts a hand to circle his wrist as he returns it, thumb rubbing over Dean's pulse point as their tongues caress each other's in time. They're only stopped by a knock on the window from Sam. Dean pulls away with a glare over Cas' shoulder at his brother, leaning his face into the window while tapping his watch. He might have to make Sam walk home after breakfast.

”You okay now?” Dean asks Cas, not letting him go quite yet.

”I believe so. Thank you, Dean.”

”You're welcome, sweetheart. Let's go. I'm hungry for some flapjacks.” Dean's stomach rumbles as if to emphasize his point, making Castiel laugh. They share another quick kiss before getting out of the car. Sam is waiting at the edge of the sidewalk.

“Everything okay?”

”We're good,” Dean says as they pass him.

Mary already has a table when they walk in, Cas clutching Dean's hand so tight he thinks he might be losing circulation. Even after their talk, Cas is still as tense as a bow string. She spots them right away. It would be hard not to with Sam lumbering behind them like the fluffy giant he is. She takes a second to look at Cas, her eyes trailing down his body to the hand holding Dean's in a death grip, and turns an upraised brow on Dean. He smiles sheepishly and tugs Cas over to the table.

"Hey, Mom, this is Cas. I didn't think you'd care if he came," Dean explains, leaning over the table to kiss his mother's cheek.

"Of course I don't mind meeting a... friend of yours," she answers, eyes surveying Cas.

Dean probably deserves the look on his mother's face. He should have forewarned her. She probably thinks Cas is a hook-up here for morning-after breakfast. Not that Dean would ever do that, but with his past, he isn't surprised his mom doesn't know that. "Cas is uh.. he's not a friend, exactly. He's my mate. Cas, I'd like you to meet my mother, Mary Winchester."

Cas takes a deep breath and holds out his hand for Mary to shake. Dean can feel him trembling. "Hello, Mrs. Winchester. It is an honor to meet you. Dean has had nothing but wonderful things to say about you."

Mary's whole face chances into a look of utter shock. She recovers quickly. "I wish I could say the same. Dean hasn't mentioned a word about you." She shoots Dean a look as she stands to shake Cas' hand properly. "It's wonderful to meet you, though. Why don't you sit next to me? You're going to be a part of the family now. I should know my future son-in-law. Is Cas short for anything?" Mary takes his arm and pulls him into the seat next to her, grinning now that she's over being annoyed with her son for springing a mate on her.

Cas looks nervously up at Dean, who takes the seat across from him. Dean moves his foot to rest against Cas' under the table, hoping physical contact will help him relax. Cas turns to Mary. "It's Castiel, actually. Castiel Novak."

"Castiel? What an interesting name. What do you do, Castiel?"

"I'm a substitute teacher at the moment, but I have also worked as a CPA and a postal sorter."

"How interesting. Do you enjoy teaching?"

Cas smiles wide and launches into a conversation about teaching and his students, and he and Mary talk all the way through ordering and the wait until their food gets there. Sam elbows Dean as he bends over his giant stack of pancakes and gives him a thumbs-up under the table, and Dean grins back. He knew their mom would like Cas.


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Dean wakes up from a really good dream involving Cas and the backseat of the Impala to the loud blare of his phone ringing on the nightstand. He fumbles for it, barely able to remember how to answer it before the voicemail starts. "What?" he growls, brain still fogged over from sleep.

"Dean, thank god. I need your help."

Cas. It's Cas calling him at... 1:12 in the morning, needing his help. He's sitting up wide-awake instantly. "What's wrong? Are you hurt?"

"It's Grr. I haven't seen him since this morning, and I've been looking all over the apartment for him for hours. I think he got out, and Mr. Franklin has told me three times that he hates cats. What if he got to Grr and hurt him?"

It takes Dean a minute to remember that Grr is Cas' kitten, given to him by his brother, Gabriel, when he got fired from the post office. He hasn't been allowed to go to Cas' house yet, so he hasn't seen the kitten, but Cas talks about him a lot, and he gets the occasional picture message. He hasn't had the heart to tell Cas he's allergic yet. "When would he have gotten out? Have you checked under all the furniture and everything?"

"I don't know. He was eating when I left. Maybe Gabriel came by while I was at work? I've looked under every piece of furniture he could possibly have crawled under, in all the closets, in drawers. I even checked the refrigerator. I don't know where he could be. What if he's stuck somewhere? He could be hurt. He's so little."

"Do you want me to come over and help you look? Sometimes that helps."

There's a pause. "It's late. I don't want you to be tired for work..."

Dean's up and looking for his jeans the next instant. "I need like four hours; I'll be fine. Text me your address. I'll be there as soon as I get dressed."

"Okay. Thank you, Dean."

"Don't worry about it. I'll be over in a few minutes." He hangs up so that he can get his shirt over his head and zip up his jeans. He should be nervous to be going over to his mate's house this late at night, but he's too distracted by the sound of distress in Cas' voice. His mate needs him. If Cas needed him to move a mountain, he'd figure it out. His phone buzzes with the address a second later, and he heads for the garage, grabbing his jacket and pulling out his keys as he passes the hall. Thankfully, Sam's a heavy sleeper, or he'd be up and asking why Dean's leaving so late. He definitely doesn't want to have to explain that he's on his way to search for a kitten.

Cas is at the door of the apartment complex when he pulls into the parking lot. He looks stressed out and sort of adorable in his pajamas, no shoes and hair a mess from being pulled in worry. Dean parks and jogs over to him. "Thank you for coming, Dean. I know it's silly to call this late at night over such a minor thing, but I don't know what I'll do if I don't find him. Gabriel trusted me enough to take care of him. What will I tell him if I lose him?"

Dean pulls him close and kisses his forehead. "It'll be okay. We'll find him, don't worry. He's a kitten. He probably crawled into an open vent or something and got stuck. Which apartment is yours?"

Castiel kisses his cheek and leads him into the building by his hand, taking him up two flights of stairs and to an apartment at the end of a long hallway. He points to the door of the neighbor who had said he didn't like cats on their way. "Want me to knock on the door and see if he has the little guy?" Dean offers, but Cas shakes his head.

"Too late. He already dislikes me because I'm a lupan."

Dean wrinkles his nose. "Humans," he mutters. Cas shoots him a reprimanding look. When he opens the door to his apartment, the first thing Dean notices is the windows. There are a ton of them. Half the front and side wall of the main room is taken up by windows. It's still dark out, but he guesses the view is gorgeous in the day time. Dean puts the thought aside, focusing on the problem at hand.

He starts combing the apartment for the lost kitten, calling the kitten's name and listening for any sign. It isn't until he reaches the laundry room that he hears it, a very faint mewing. He moves the washer out of the way without even thinking to ask Cas if it's okay. Cas hovers in the doorway, looking nervous. The mewing gets louder with the washer out of the way, and Cas makes a surprised sound. "Think I found him," Dean says. He thinks the sound is coming from behind the dryer and pulls it away from the wall enough to see that the dryer vent is loose. There's just enough space for a three-month-old kitten to squeeze in. He turns to look at his mate, who looks delighted and slightly awed at him. "Got any tuna or anything we can use to lure him out?"

"Yes, I'll go get it. I can't believe you found him. Do you think he'll be able to get out?"

"It looks big enough for him to be able to crawl around in. He probably just got turned around and couldn't find his way out again."

Cas disappears for a minute, only to come back with an open can of tuna. Dean holds the can up to the vent opening, whistling in hopes that the kitten will follow the sound and the smell of the food. A few minutes and a lot of mewing later, a dusty orange head pops out of the dryer vent, mewing and sniffing the air. He barely has his front paws out before Dean has a hold of him and is pulling him out. Cas is on him immediately, cooing over the kitten and thanking Dean with kisses and caresses.

"You found him! I can't believe it. Do you think he's all right? Should we take him to the veterinarian? What if he's injured?"

Dean has the little guy cupped in his palm resting against his chest. He can already feel an itching at his eyes and he can't stop twitching his nose, but he ignores both. "He looks okay, maybe a little dirty, but we can take him to the vet in the morning, if you want. Let's let him have something to eat and maybe give him a bath, for now. He's probably starving."

Cas agrees, and they take the kitten into the kitchen, where Cas sets him on the table with the can of tuna. He pulls out a chair for Dean, and then takes up residence on his lap once he's seated, kissing his cheek and stroking his hair like he can't stop touching him. "Thank you for coming to help me. I never would have thought to look behind the dryer. I wonder how he got in there."

"Probably wandered back there and saw the opening. The vent was loose. I can fix that for you in the morning if you want," Dean suggests, rubbing his hands up and down Cas' back.

"Thank you. I owe you a great debt now."

Dean waves him off. "Nope, it's not a big deal." He yawns, suddenly sleepy again now that he's warm with his omega in his arms and content. His body reminds him that it's nearly 2:30 in the morning, and he should be in bed. "I should probably get going for now. How about I swing by around 8:00, and we can take the little guy to the vet to get a check-up and then go have breakfast?"

Cas strokes a hand across Dean's forehead, smoothing one of his eyebrows with his thumb. "Or you could sleep here if you like. I'm not for anything too physical yet, if you don't mind, but you don't have to drive all the way back home, if you don't want to."

Dean raises an eyebrow at the suggestion. They've made out plenty in the back seat of the Impala in the two weeks they've been dating, but Dean hadn't thought Cas was comfortable enough for that kind of intimacy yet. "You sure? That's kind of a big step, isn't it?"

Cas continues to stroke soothing lines across his forehead and eyebrows. "It is, but I trust you."

"If you're sure... I don't have pajamas, though."

"I didn't think you slept in pajamas."

"I don't, just my boxer-briefs, but I didn't think you'd be comfortable with that..."

"It's fine. I've seen you without a shirt on, after all. What difference could bare legs make? It's late. I think Grr's had enough food for the night." He takes the tuna from Grr and puts it in the refrigerator. Dean picks up the kitten, knowing without having to ask that the little fur-ball sleeps with Cas. Cas leads him into a bedroom decorated in white and light woods, simple furniture with straight, soft lines. The décor is relaxing to Dean's senses.

He deposits the kitten on the bed and strips down to his underwear, only a little self-conscious. Cas strips out of his hoodie and goes to turn the light off. The moon is bright enough to light the room so that Dean can see Cas come back to the bed and crawl under the covers. Dean follows Cas' lead, almost moaning at the perfect firmness of the mattress. Cas curls into his side tentatively, as though Dean might push him away. Dean only pulls him close, kissing his forehead before burying his nose in Cas' neck and scenting him. He smells like heaven, warm and perfect and sweet besides. Really sweet. He feels Cas nose at his cheek and turns his face to receive a kiss as soft and sweet as his scent.

Dean would be content with only chaste kisses, but Cas licks along his bottom lip, deepening it with a quiet sound of pleasure that has Dean's hackles up in an instant. He returns the heat of Cas' tongue in his mouth, opening for him and easily taking over, rolling Cas onto his back and nestling between his spread legs. Cas moans quietly, arching his hips up to meet Dean's. So much for staying chaste. Dean grinds down against him, one hand traveling down his bare side to grab at his hip, guiding his thrusts and pulling him even closer. He can feel the hard line of Cas' shaft pressing against his own. His hand travels further around Cas' hip to massage his ass cheek, damp slick seeping onto his fingers through Cas' thin pajamas pants.

"Fuck, you're gorgeous. Can I make you come?" Dean asks, voice rough from arousal. Fingernails dig into the base of his neck, and Cas nods feverishly, pulling Dean back down for another kiss. Dean grins into his mouth, enjoying the dirty slide of his mouth against Dean's. Dean lets his hand slide around to the front of Cas' pants, pulling them down until his erection is freed, dipping down into the slick of his hole for a second to lube his fingers enough to stroke him with ease. Cas cries out Dean's name, his hips moving faster in time with Dean's hand. Dean pulls back from their kiss far enough to watch him, glorying in the look of ecstasy on Cas' face. He truly is a work of art, perfect in every way. Dean can barely hold back his own groans watching him.

Cas' face scrunches up, his breathing labored and harsh. His fingers dig painfully into Dean's shoulder. "Dean, oh God, Dean, I'm going to..." He cuts himself off with a cry of pleasure, dropping his head back into the pillow as hot come spurts from him and coats their bare stomachs. Dean surprises himself by coming almost immediately afterward, his own seed mixing with Castiel's. He'd been so transfixed by Cas that he hadn't even noticed Cas pulling his boxers down and stroking him in time.

Cas squeezes him one final time, a smile of pure bliss on his face, and leans up to press a soft kiss to Dean's lips. Dean pushes their foreheads together, grinning like an idiot. "You're amazing. I can't wait to mark you, make you mine," he rasps, somewhere between a hoarse whisper and a growl.

Castiel chuckles, burying fingers in Dean's short hair. "I'm already yours. I was yours from the moment you looked at me. The rest is just details."

Dean leans down and kisses him again, long and slow. When they pull away, he grabs a tissue from the nightstand and cleans them both up. He leaves the dirty tissue on the nightstand and pulls Cas close, snuggling in beside him and not even caring that they're cuddling like girls. Cas laces their fingers together on Dean's chest, burying his nose in Dean's neck for a moment before settling his cheek against Dean's heart. Dean wraps an arm around him and kisses his forehead. He feels a lump resting against his leg and looks down to see Grr squeezed between his and Cas' legs. If Dean wasn't sure he's going to wake up miserable, he'd think it was cute. The little guy helped him get into Cas' bed after all, and it was totally worth the runny nose and swollen eyes he'll have in the morning. It doesn't take him long to fall asleep surrounded by the scents of his mate.


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The next morning, his prediction about the stuffy nose comes true, but thankfully he can still see out of both eyes. He opens them to find the kitten laying on his pillow with his fluffy little back practically in Dean's nose. Cas is still curled up in his side, his head resting on Dean's chest. When Dean looks down, he's met with sleepy blue eyes watching him. "'Mornin'," he manages, rubbing at his face with the hand not still asleep under Cas' shoulder.

"Good morning, Dean. Did you sleep well?"

"Like a rock, you?"

"I slept better than I have in months, thank you. Being next to you is soothing."

Dean strokes his hair back from his forehead, liking how messy it looks. "I know what you mean. Still wanna take the little dude to the vet?"

Castiel looks up at the kitten, who is awake now and watching them both with a twitching, eager tail. "He looks to be alright, but I would still like to have a professional opinion. I've read that cats hide their injuries as a form of self-defense, and that it is necessary to watch them closely when you suspect they are sick or injured for signs."

"Okay, we can take him over to the vet, then. What time is it? Do you know when they open?"

Castiel lifts up on a hand, giving Dean the relief he needs to flex his arm a little and start to get sensation in it again. He also likes the look of Cas hovering above him, naked from the waist up. His wiry muscles flex under the strain, and Dean has to resist the urge to pull him back down and ravish him. He settles for rubbing a line up and down Cas' arm. "It's 8:45. They should be open by now. Should we get dressed?"

"Unless you wanna go like this, probably." Dean indicates his lack of clothing with a wry smile that earns him an eye-roll from Cas and a playful shove to his chest. Castiel leans down to peck his lips, but slips away before Dean can get any further. It's probably for the best. Dean doesn't have a toothbrush here, after all. He climbs out of bed and pulls on his t-shirt and jeans, not even caring that this is his third day wearing them. Castiel strips off his pajamas pants and goes to the closet to dress. Dean's surprised when he puts on a pair of worn jeans and a t-shirt with Shakespeare on the front in caricature. Dean's certain he hasn't seen Cas out of dark skinny jeans, stiff dress shirts, and vests. It's as hot as the vests are. Dean has a flash of what Cas might look like in one of his t-shirts and nearly pops a knot.

Castiel picks up the kitten from where he's wandered over to the side of the bed and is attempting to chew off the corner of the sheet, and indicates that Dean should follow him as he leaves the bedroom. They silently agree to take Dean's car, and Cas directs Dean to the veterinary clinic. Dean takes over cat duty when they get into the building so Cas can talk to the front clerk. The kitten crawls onto Dean's shoulder and sits there, digging his needle-like claws into Dean's skin through his t-shirt. The secretaries all coo over him and tell Dean how adorable he is. Dean smiles, but he can't stop sneezing, and every time he does, the kitten's claws dig in more.

Eventually, they're escorted into a back room and the kitten is checked over by a friendly veterinarian and given a clean bill of health. Dean's grateful to get back in the car so that he can hand the cat back to Cas. Cas spends the entire car ride back to his apartment cuddling the kitten and talking to him. Dean parks in front of the building, but doesn't get out. Cas hesitates with his hand on the door handle. "Aren't you coming? I thought we were going to have breakfast."

"I'm gonna have to rain-check. I remembered while we were at the vet that I have an appointment with Victor Henriksen this morning to upgrade his hubcaps. If I'm late, I'll hear about it until I'm old and gray. Wanna stop by for lunch, though?"

Castiel nods. "That would be nice. Would you like me to bring you lunch, or shall we go out?"

"Whatever you wanna do is fine with me."

"I'll bring Subway. Text me your order when you get to the shop."

"That sounds awesome. I'll see you at lunch." He leans over the bucket seat and kisses Cas, licking into his mouth despite neither of them having brushed their teeth yet. He doesn't really notice, though. It's easy to get distracted by Cas' scent and the pure, animal taste of him. He pulls away after a few seconds to sneeze. Castiel frowns, brushing a hand over his cheek.

"Are you alright?"

"Fine, probably just got a cold. You better get inside before you catch it."

Dean can see the gears working behind Castiel's eyes as he looks at him for a long moment, before capitulating with a peck to Dean's cheek. "Thank you again for coming over and finding Grr. I don't know how I can repay you."

"You already did, sweetheart. I'll see you in a couple of hours." Cas gets out of the car, taking the kitten with him. Dean starts unrolling his windows, hoping to air the car out enough to stop his constant sneezing. He's on the phone with his doctor as soon as Cas is through the front door. The new prescription for allergy pills is in his glove compartment before lunch.


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Dean is standing at the microwave waiting for the delightful sound of popcorn to start when Sam comes into the kitchen with a weird look on his face. "Dude, there's a litter box in the laundry room."

"Yeah, hope you don't mind. Cas doesn't want to leave his kitten alone when he sleeps over, so I told him to bring it with."

Sam stares at him in disbelief. "You're allergic to cats. The last time you were in the same room with one, I thought you were gonna need an EpiPen."

Dean looks quickly towards the living room where Cas, Ben, and Charlie are waiting for him to start the movie. He can hear Charlie exclaiming over how adorable Grr is from two rooms away. "Shut up, Cas doesn't know that, idiot."

"And you didn't tell him why...?"

"The cat's really important to him. I don't want him to feel bad."

Sam continues to stare at him. "Wow, Dean. Wow."

"Shuddup. I got allergy pills. I'll be fine," Dean mutters, turning his back on Sam to retrieve the pipping hot bag of popcorn and shake it so all the butter won't stick to the sides. "Wanna watch the movie with us? It's New Hope. Cas's never seen it before."

"What? No way. How are there people on the planet who have never seen Star Wars before?"

"I know, right? I think we might have been mated specifically so that I can show him the wonders of scifi."

"Yeah, I'm sure the universe conspired to get you with Cas just so you can make him watch scifi movies."

Dean deposits to contents of the popcorn bag in a big plastic bowl and shoots Sam an unimpressed look. "You coming, or what?"

"Yeah. I was gonna do some more studying, but I gotta see his reaction." He follows Dean into the living room and stretches out in his chair, nodding to Charlie and Cas, who are too distracted playing with the kitten to notice him. When Dean plops down on the couch next to Cas, all three of them look up unison.

"Ready?" he asks, grabbing the remote from the coffee table and offering the bowl of popcorn to Cas. The kitten, of course, crawls right over both Charlie and Cas to get to Dean and bumps his head against Dean's hand until he starts scratching behind his ears. Sam shoots him an amused look from the chair. Dean gives him a dirty look over Cas' head and starts the movie.

Charlie throws a piece of popcorn at Sam. "Are you actually watching a movie with us? You haven't done that in like months."

Sam shrugs with a smirk. "It's a special occasion. I hear we have a Star Wars virgin." He winks at Cas, who clams up a little, looking uncomfortable.

Dean leans down to whisper in his ear, "He means you haven't seen Star Wars, not the other thing. I didn't tell him about that."

Cas looks up at Dean as if to test the truthfulness of this statement. He nods a moment later, turning to Sam. "It's true. I've never seen Star Wars. I hadn't even ever heard of it until a few months ago. My family did not own a television growing up. There is a considerable portion of pop culture that I have never consumed. Dean assures me that these movies are 'totally awesome', though, so I am going to try." Dean puts an arm around him to scrub a little hard at his hair, teasing him. Cas makes a face, but settles into his side without further comment. The opening notes of the theme song start up and silence all subsequent conversation.

Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewy have just escaped the Stormtroopers down the garbage shoot (Dean's favorite part), when he looks down to gauge Cas' reaction to find him fast asleep on Dean's shoulder. Dean looks incredulously up at Charlie and Sam, who are both engaged in the movie. "Guys, he's out," he says, soft enough not to wake Cas, but loud enough for Sam to hear him across the room.

"You didn't notice? He fell asleep before they left Tattoine," Charlie says, stuffing a handful of popcorn into her mouth. Dean doesn't know what to say. How can anyone sleep through Star Wars?

"Maybe he had a long day at work," Sam offers.

"Yeah, maybe," Dean mutters, unconvinced. He gently moves Cas' head to his lap and spends the rest of the movie stroking his hair.

The movie is over, Ben is in bed, and Charlie and Sam have both scooted off to their respective destinations before Cas wakes up, blinking and yawning in an innocent way that Dean can't help but melt over. He sits up when he realizes Sports Center's on, and not the movie. "Oh no, did I fall asleep? I'm sorry. I was looking forward to enjoying the movie with you," he says, looking mournfully at Dean.

"'S okay. 'S not like this is the last time we're ever gonna watch it."

"Yes, but we were watching it tonight specifically so that I could see it. I should have been able to stay awake. I didn't realize how tired I was from work today."

"Don't worry about it. We'll try it again later. Ready to hit the hay?"

Cas' eyes darken and he nods. "Yes, I think I would like to make it up to you," he says in a voice that is pure sex. Dean has to grab the sofa arm to cope with the rush of blood to his dick at the sound of it. Shit, he loves how fast Cas can turn it on. Cas stands, pulling Dean with him, and they make their way up to the bedroom. Dean has learned in their month together that Cas likes to take Dean's clothes off for him. Standing in the middle of the bedroom, Dean waits patiently while Cas strips off his t-shirt, and then his jeans, kneeling down to pull them over his socks before pulling those off, too.

Dean expects him to come right back up so that Dean can get his clothes off, too, but he doesn't. His hands go to Dean's boxer-briefs and slowly stroke over his erection underneath. He leans in, placing light kitten kisses along the shaft through the thin cotton. Dean stands still in surprise. He's sucked Cas off a couple of times, but Cas has never shown interest in oral. He sucks on the head, his mouth rough through the fabric, and Dean can't hold back a groan of pleasure. He sees a flash of a smile on Cas' face as his fingers slide up the back of Dean's thighs and over his ass and around to his hips, where he slowly pulls down on the elastic until Dean's erection bobs out in front of him, almost hitting Cas in the chin. Cas nuzzles the shaft, licking and kissing his way up as he pulls the underwear down to Dean's ankles. Dean steps out of them without prompting.

Cas flicks his tongue against the rim of his circumcised head, tickling at it. Dean digs his fingers into Cas' thick hair in encouragement, combing through it before taking a good grip on his nape. Cas takes the hint and wraps his lips around Dean's head, suckling on it until the sounds coming from his mouth are wet and dirty. He pulls off to lick at his lips, eyes fixed on the bobbing shaft, before taking it back in again. He slides his mouth further down slowly, inch by delicious inch, until Dean worries that he's going to choke. He doesn't, though, just takes the base into his hand, stroking the place where Dean's knot would be if Cas' full pheromones were working on him.

After awhile, the pleasure becomes a little much and Dean starts to lose his balance. Cas nudges him backwards, following on his knees, until Dean reaches the bed and is forced to sit. He props himself up on his hands so he can watch Cas lean over him, eyes dark and pupil's blown with desire, scent so sticky sweet Dean's almost drowning in it, and takes him back into his perfect pink lips. Dean groans again, dropping his head back and squeezing his eyes shut. His toes curl where they rest next to Cas' calves, and Cas makes a pleased noise around Dean's dick, bobbing his head faster.

It doesn't take long after that, what with how long Dean's gone without proper sex, and he collapses onto his back when he comes, fingers digging into the sheets until they threaten to tear away in his hands. Cas swallows all he has to give him and sits up, mopping the remainders from his mouth and licking his fingers. He wears a smug smile that sets Dean's blood boiling all over again. God, he's fucking hot. Dean pulls him up onto the bed and kisses him, taking over his mouth like an invader looking for gold. Cas curls a hand around the back of his neck and lets him, moaning in pleasure with each stroke of Dean's tongue.

Dean rolls him onto his back and starts stripping his clothes off him, kissing each new piece of skin as he exposes it. He's planning on returning the favor, maybe even trying for a finger in Cas' ass, but when he reaches Cas' underwear, he finds it wet with spent come and Cas' erection flagging. He looks questioningly up at Cas, who shrugs. "I like giving you pleasure. Did you like it?" he asks, voice even rougher than usual from deep-throating.

Dean crawls back up his body and kisses him again, pouring all his desire into it. Cas makes a little mewling noise when he pulls away. "Best blow job ever," he assures Cas, pecking his lips a final time before standing to pull Cas' pants off. They crawl under the covers together, naked and warm. Dean strokes Cas' hair and kisses his forehead.

Sated and comfortable, Dean's almost ready to drift off when he hears a gasp from Cas. "We forgot Grr."

"Huh?"

"The kitten. He's still downstairs."

"Want me to go get him?"

"Could you?" Cas asks, running a hand over Dean's bare stomach.

Dean gets out from under him, reluctant to leave the warmth of his arms, and pulls on his boxers. The kitten is sitting at the bottom of the stairs, mewling mournfully. Dean would feel bad for him if he hadn't had to leave his bed to get the little fuzzball. "Dude, you're old enough to figure out stairs. Come on." He pats his knees in encouragement, but the kitten just looks up at him and mews. He trots downstairs and scoops the kitten up, grateful for the allergy pills he's on. Cas is sitting up when he gets back into the room, and he welcomes Dean back into bed with a kiss and a pet to Grr, who promptly starts gnawing on him. "We gotta teach Little Dude how to climb stairs."

"Mmm, okay," Cas mumbles, curling up to Dean's side. Dean falls to sleep just as Grr cuddles up on his chest next to Cas' head.


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Cas: I will have to take a raincheck on dinner tonight. Heat started.

Dean's heart clenches seeing the text. This is Cas' first heat since Dean met him, and he hates knowing that his mate will be spending the time at home in bed, fucking himself on a fake knot and calling out for Dean, rather than underneath Dean in their bed, writhing on Dean's real knot instead. He rubs at his face, frustrated.

Dean: k want me to bring you anything?

Cas: No, but thank you. I think if you were here, I would not be able to resist temptation, and I do not want my first time to be during my heat when I can barely think straight.

Dean: yeah i get it let me know if you need anything i can send charlie over if necessary call me when its over?

Cas: I will. Thank you for being so understanding. I will see you in a few days.

Dean: k see you later

Dean stares at the conversation on his phone. All he wants to do is hop in his car and drive over to Cas', but he can't. He has to respect Cas' wishes. He sighs and gets up to pour some whiskey. He's in for a long three days.


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It only takes a few weeks of Cas staying at Dean's for Dean to realize that Grr gets sick pleasure out of waking him up at three in the morning by gnawing on his armpit. If Dean wasn't so gone for Cas, he probably would have drowned the little demon after the first offense. Thankfully for Grr, Dean would sooner cut his own arm off than do anything that might hurt Cas. Instead, he pushes the kitten over the side of the bed and falls back to sleep. No big deal, really, although it has been cutting into his sleep. He blames this for his reaction to the doorbell ringing at 6:35 in the morning one Tuesday.

"Motherfucker," he growls, burying his face in Cas' neck until another ring forces him grudgingly from the bed and stumbling over the kitten to find his underwear. And a shirt. He can hear the shower going down the hall, which means Sam's up, but Dean's definitely going to have to get the door. The ringing bell is replaced by a loud, insistent knocking, and Dean hurries downstairs before the noise wakes Cas up. "What?!" he snaps as he opens the door.

The mailman is standing there, glaring daggers at Dean. He practically has steam coming out of his ears. "Why is my baby brother's car parked in your driveway? Did you seduce him, you whore?! He's an innocent little omega. He's never even been kissed before, you shit. How dare you?!"

Dean and Gabriel Square Off

Dean is taken aback by the tirade. It isn't the first time someone's called him a whore, but what the hell? Little brother? "Dude, calm your shit. What are you talking about?"

The beta growls, pointing a vicious finger at Cas' Nova parked behind Dean's car in the driveway. "That is my little brother's car. Why is it parked in front of your house? Did you pick him up in a bar? Planning on fucking him and then throwing him away, like you do all the other omegas I've seen parading out of here?"

Dean holds up his hands in defense, still way too sleepy to really get what's going on. "First of all, who I sleep with is none of your business, asshole. Second of all, that car belongs to my mate. Which means whatever we're doing is none of your goddamn business."

"It most certainly is."

"Dean? Who's at the door?" comes Cas' sleepy voice from the top of the stairs. Dean looks up them to see his mate in rumpled pajamas pants, hair completely wild, rubbing at his eyes with Grr in his hand. He starts down the stairs slowly, holding onto the railing with his free hand as if he might fall otherwise.

"Cassie, what you are doing here? Do you know what kind of alpha he is? I thought you were saving yourself for your mating. If this is some kind of rebellion thing, you picked the wrong alpha to rebel with," the mailman rants at him, pushing Dean aside to get a better look at him.

Castiel freezes half-way down the stairs and stares. "Gabriel," is all he manages. Dean suddenly understands what's going on. This is one of Cas' brothers, the one Cas told Balthazar not to tell. Shit./i

"I think the secret's out, Cas," Dean says, pulling the door open wider so Gabriel can step in. He has a feeling this is going to be a conversation. "I'm gonna need coffee." He turns towards the kitchen, but pauses and turns a glare on Gabriel. "And I'm not a whore, Judge Judy."

Gabriel snorts, but his attention is on Cas, who is reluctantly walking down the remaining steps. "Gabriel, I didn't want to tell you because I feared you would tell Mother. I am not rebelling. Dean is my mate. I would appreciate it if you did not disparage him in front of me, especially since you do not know him."

"I know enough. Do you know how many people I've seen doing the walk of shame out of this house? Too many."

"No, neither do I care to know. I am here now, and that is all I care about. Dean is my mate, and I am his. If you have a problem with that, that is a burden you will have to live with."

Dean listens for Gabriel's response, but he fills the pot up with water and is pouring it in the coffee maker before he hears it. "Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"What about Zachariah? Mom's gonna lose it."

"Mother will have to find a way to come to terms with this as well. I would appreciate it if you did not tell her, though."

"You're hiding your mating from her? Yeah, that doesn't sound shady. Are you sure you're sure?"

"Yes, Gabriel, I am sure. I would just prefer to keep this from her until we have officially mated, which I am not ready to do yet. She will be less likely to be able to protest the union if there is already a claim mark on my neck."

There's another pause in the conversation, and Dean drifts closer to the doorway while he waits for the coffee to brew so he can get a better look at them. Cas is standing a foot from Gabriel and Gabriel is petting Grr while contemplating Cas. "You haven't mated yet?"

"No. Dean has been kind enough to wait until I am ready."

Gabriel flicks his eyes to Dean in the doorway. He still looks a little disgusted with Dean. "Wouldn't have expected that," he grumbles. Dean throws his most sarcastic smirk at him and waves.

He hears the coffee pot ding and turns to get a cup. Just then, he hears Sam clumping down the stairs, only to stop before he's made it all the way down. "What's going on?"

"Why hello there," Gabriel says in a deep voice that makes Dean uncomfortable.

"Hi...? Are you our mail man?" Sam asks.

"Yes, I am. You must be Sam."

"Stop flirting with my future brother-in-law. He's already mated to a very lovely omega woman." The chiding in Cas' voice makes Dean chuckle. He brings his cup and one for Cas into the hall.

"'Mornin', Sammy. Coffee's ready."

"Thank god," he mutters, giving Cas and his brother a wide berth on his way to the kitchen. "Why is the mailman here?" he mutters over Dean's shoulder.

"He's Cas' brother. Saw Cas' car and wanted to yell at me for seducing his innocent little brother with my evil demon wiles," Dean answers, sending a mocking look Gabriel's way. Gabriel doesn't look phased by it.

"Okay, it sounds like you aren't out to ruin my brother's reputation. I should probably get back to my route. I might have left your mail on the driveway. Not sorry. See you later, little bro, little dude." He gives Grr one final pat on the head, earning himself a nip from Grr, and sends one more glare Dean's way before leaving. Dean shuts the door behind him a little harder than he probably needed to and looks at Cas.

"So, that was Gabriel."

Cas' face crumples, and he hurries closer. "I'm so sorry, Dean. I don't know what possessed him to do that. He's normally easy going and funny. I've only seen him get that overprotective a few times in my life. I'll talk to him."

"It's cool, Cas. He's just being a big brother, I get it. I'd probably lose my shit if I found Sammy at someone's house I didn't think was worthy, too."

"You did. Remember Ruby? I thought you were gonna hit her," Sam reminds him, coming through with two coffees, a bran muffin balanced on each. Dean hadn't even known Jess had slept over, but he recognizes her cup in Sam's left hand.

"That bitch tried to get you hooked on cocaine!" Dean snaps, old anger flaring up at the mere thought of her.

"She offered it once."

"Once is fucking enough. I would have clocked that bitch if she showed up at the house one more time."

"Get over it, dude. I told you, you should do yoga, get rid of all that residual anger."

Dean's about ready to clock Sam for that, but Sam dodges the grab for his head and lopes back upstairs, chuckling. "Someone's getting Nair in their shampoo again," Dean calls up the stairs.

"Fuck you," Sam sing-songs back down.

Dean sighs and turns his attention back to Cas, who is looking a mixture of confused and tired. Dean leans in to kiss him good morning, deciding to pretend the last twenty minutes didn't happen. "Breakfast?"

Cas smiles, the confusion wiped away. "Breakfast." As Dean turns back into the kitchen he hears over his shoulder. "We could do yoga together. It might be a nice bonding experience."

"Nope."


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When Dean gets home, he finds Cas in the kitchen, burning garlic bread. "Hey, watcha doin' there?" he asks, pulling the garlic bread out of the oven before it sets on fire or something. Dean understands what the problem is immediately. He didn't wrap it in tinfoil first.

Cas stares from the bread to Dean and looks completely defeated. "I was trying to cook dinner. Obviously, I can't even do that right."

Dean's eyebrows raise in alarm. "Huh? What are you talking about? You're awesome. What's going on?"

"I wanted to make you dinner. I was hoping to have it done by the time you came home. The spaghetti turned out alright, but this..." He indicates the blackened bread with a pained face.

"Okay, uh, thanks? What made you want to make dinner?"

"You're always cooking for me. You shouldn't have to. You work much harder than I do, and you're..." He looks hesitant, like the next word is one he doesn't think Dean is going to like to hear. Dean thinks it might be 'alpha', and ignores the tight anger in his gut at Cas' mom.

"Dude, I like to cook. It's like one of the only things I'm good at. I didn't think you liked it."

"I'm not particularly skilled at it, but I should be doing the cooking."

"And why is that?"

"You know why," Cas answers in a small voice, looking down.

Dean nods, his suspicion confirmed. "Look, you can cook if you want to on occasion, but I'm not gonna stop altogether just because I'm an alpha and I have an omega living with me now."

"We aren't living together," Cas says with annoyance.

"Practically. That's not the point. I don't want to stop cooking just because you're around. Didn't we have this conversation when we first met? I don't want an obedient little omega house husband. I want you." He flashes Cas a winning smile. "Besides, you hate cooking. Why would you even want to?"

"Because it's my place!" Cas insists with more volume than Dean's heard him use so far in their relationship. His face has gotten blotchy and red with anger, and Dean thinks it's only a matter of time before he stomps his foot. Dean probably shouldn't find his mate's anger adorable, but he does.

He steps closer to Cas and wraps his arms around him, pulling him in until they're chest-to-chest. He looks down into Castiel's gorgeous eyes made brighter by his anger. "Your place is wherever you want your place to be. I know your family's strict about this shit, but have I ever struck you as a traditional alpha?" When Cas shakes his head, Dean lifts one hand from around him to smooth knuckles along Cas' hot cheek. "I want you to do whatever you want to do, whether it's what an omega 'should do' or not. I don't care about all that shit, and I don't want you to care about it either. Be the person you want to be. Cook because you want to cook, not because you're an omega and that's what you're supposed to do. Same goes for cleaning and whatever other weird rules you've got drilled into your head, okay?"

Cas nods again, sagging into him and tucking his head under Dean's chin. "I'll try. As you've said, a great deal has been 'drilled into my head'."

Dean kisses his forehead and rests his cheek in Cas' hair. "Good. Thank you. I just want you to be happy." They stand there for a long moment just holding onto each other and taking in the other's scent. After a while, Dean rubs his hands into the small of Cas' back and smiles crookedly. "You're an awful cook, anyway, dude. We'd starve if you did all the cooking."

Cas abruptly smacks him in the stomach and pulls away with a scowl. Dean ignores the swat and pulls Cas in with hands cupping his jaw for a slow, deep exploration of his mouth. Cas moans and melts into him, returning the kiss with gusto. When they pull away, Dean pushes the hair out of Cas' face and kisses his forehead again. "What made you think you needed to do those things in the first place? It can't just be your mom."

Cas rests his temple on Dean's shoulder and fiddles with the sleeve of Dean's shirt. "I'm not fulfilling my duty as your omega in letting you knot me and giving you pups. I thought I could at least fulfill my duties in other ways."

Dean pulls his face up to Dean's again. "That's bullshit, and you know it. It's not your duty to do anything, especially not 'give me pups'. For fuck's sake, you're not a broodmare. We'll get there when you're ready. I'm perfectly happy with the way we are now. Aren't you?"

"Yes, of course, but I feel like I'm doing you a disservice by holding back. I should want to let you knot me. You're my mate, after all."

"Yep, I'm your mate, which is why I can wait. I know we'll be having crazy amounts of sex and making pups for the rest of our lives. Waiting a few months isn't a big deal, when you really think about it. You'd never even kissed anyone before me. You have to build up to this kind of stuff."

"I shouldn't have to. I'm an omega. This is what I was made for."

"No, you were made to be a person who happens to be an omega. You aren't a robot."

"Sometimes I feel like I should be."

"Well, fuck that. I'm not sleeping with a robot, mate or not."

Cas smiles weakly at that, his hand tugging at Dean's shirt. "Not even if I gave expert blow jobs?"

Dean smirks. "You kind of already do." Cas smiles and kisses him, soft and sweet. "We good now?" Dean asks when they pull away.

Cas nods. "Yes, we are 'good'. Thank you."

"Awesome. Can I throw away the bread now? It smells awful. Wrap it in foil next time, dude." Cas laughs at the face he makes and hits him in the stomach again.

"I hate you so much," he says with a teasing smile.

Dean leans in for another kiss, smirking. "You love me," he says, teasing back.

Cas' expression grows serious as he looks up at Dean. "I do," he says quietly.

Dean's breath catches, and he squeezes Cas' side. "Yeah? Me, too." They kiss again, and this time it isn't sweet or soft.

They're interrupted twenty minutes later, Cas perched on the kitchen counter with Dean between his legs, by Ben's offended shout. "Oh come on, in the kitchen? We eat in here!"


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"Yes, of course, Mother. I will be there," Dean hears Cas' voice drift into the kitchen. It's followed a second later by Cas, on his phone and looking tense. Dean stops making his sandwich to look at him.

"I understand, Mother. I will explain everything when I see you." Pause, and now Dean can hear Naomi Milton's voice on the other end of the line, though he can't understand what she's saying. "May I bring Dean with me?" … "Dean is my mate." He frowns. "I thought Gabriel explained this to you already." … "Mother, please be reasonable. I cannot help biology." … "You know nothing about him. You haven't even met him yet. That's why I want to bring him to dinner... Mother, please, you have to see that this is unnecessary. I understand that you are upset, but again, he is my biological mate. Am I meant to ignore my instincts? You've always told me my instincts are the only asset I have..." He straightens, expression flattening out. "I will see you tomorrow night, Mother. With Dean. Goodbye." He hangs up with a tensing of his jaw.

"Someone spill the beans?" Dean asks.

Cas cocks his head to the side, frowning, but the tension appears to have eased a little in his muscles. "Beans? Who is making beans?"

Dean smiles, trying not to laugh at him. "It's an expression. Gabriel told your mom about us?"

His expression clears, and he nods. "Yes, unfortunately. It appears he could not keep the knowledge to himself for more than a week. I would say that I am surprised, but I am not. She wants me to go over there for dinner tomorrow night to explain what's happening. Will you come with me?"

"Of course, no way I'm letting you get into the lion's den alone."

Cas' body melts in relief. "Thank you. I don't think I could do it alone."

"Don't worry about it. We'll take her on together. Want a sandwich?"

"Yes, I believe I would. And possibly whiskey."

Dean laughs. "We can do that, definitely." He hands Cas a knife and the mustard and points to the bread. "Spread it; I'll get the whiskey." They end up getting drunk at three in the afternoon and watching the Discovery channel in between bouts of making out on the couch. By the time Sam comes home with Jess, they're giggling like pre-teen girls and falling all over each other.

"Woah, starting early today, guys?" Sam asks in his disapproving voice. Dean loves Sam's disapproving voice.

"We decided to be alcoholics for Halloween," he says, laughing—not giggling, thank you.

"It's December."

"Oh shit, Cas, we missed Halloween." Cas collapses on his shoulder, giggling.

"Relax, Sam, something's obviously up if even Cas is drunk. What happened?" Jess asks, leaning over the back of the couch to kiss Dean's cheek and then Cas'.

"My mother found out about our relationship. She wants my to go to dinner tomorrow and 'talk about it'," Cas explains, even using finger quotes. Dean's drunk enough to think it's cute.

"Cas told her off and hung up on her. It was awesome," Dean says, patting his mate on the knee.

Cas wrinkles his nose at him. "I did not. I only told her I was bringing you and didn't let her respond before ending the call. There was no telling off."

"Well, there's gonna be tomorrow. That bitch thinks she's gonna sell you off to the highest bidder, she can think again."

"Dean, please do not refer to my mother as a 'bitch'," Cas says, but his face says he kind of agrees. Dean's just surprised he can still make fancy sentences with four glasses of whiskey in him. It's kind of hot.

"But she is one. Made you think all that crazy shit about omegas. Fuckin' crazy, that's what that is."

"How about I make you both some coffee, hmm? We brought home Indian," Jess suggests, ignoring Dean's little tirade.

"No coffee," Cas says.

"Yes, coffee. I'll be right back." She walks away towards the kitchen, and Sam sits in his usual chair.

"So, Mrs. Milton knows about you? What'd she say, if you don't mind my asking, Cas?"

"I don't mind. She told me she's already signed the contract with Zachariah, and that I needed to stop being unreasonable and selfish. She called Dean a knothead and accused him of trying to hustle me out of my trust fund. Dean doesn't even know I have a trust fund."

Dean shrugs. "I sorta figured. There's no way you could afford that apartment on a substitute teacher's salary." Dean had been back to Cas' place a few times since the lost kitten incident, and he had been impressed by both the size of it and the view. He'd guessed the rent to be more a month than his first car cost him. "Didn't really think 'bout takin' it, though. Wouldn'tta cared if you were homeless."

Cas gives him a goofy, doe-eyed smile. "I know you wouldn't. It's one of the many reasons I love you." He gives Dean a kiss that Dean's a little too drunk to resist. Sam makes an annoyed sound, and they pull away.

Jess comes in a few minutes later with two coffees and instructions that they're to meet her in the kitchen to dish out their dinner. Sam goes right away, but Dean and Cas take a minute to drink their coffee and try to sober up before standing. Cas almost fell over the ottoman on his way to the bathroom earlier, and that was only after glass number three. Eventually, they get their dinner and all four settle around the coffee table in the living room, talking and laughing until well into the night.

When they go to bed, Dean drops off with the quiet hope that he will get to spend many, many more Saturdays with Cas just like this one.


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If Dean had thought Cas was nervous to meet Mary, this was on an entirely different level. Cas is literally shaking standing on the porch, clutching Dean's hand so hard he's already lost feeling in it. "Calm down, sweetheart. It'll be okay. She'll either accept us, or she won't, but either way, we'll still be together, okay?"

Cas looks up at him with fear in his eyes. "I know that, but it doesn't make me feel better. She's my mother."

"And I'm your mate. She's gonna have to get used to this eventually, right? Otherwise, she'll never get to see her grandpups when we have them."

"At the rate I'm going, we might not ever have pups," Cas mutters under his breath.

"Hey, nope. None of that. We're taking our time. If she can't get behind that, then fuck her, mom or not. Okay?"

Cas takes a deep breath and then another. "Okay."

"Okay, I'm ringing the doorbell now. Are you ready?" He reaches over and pushes the glowing button, hearing a distant ding-dong from inside the house.

"No," Cas answers, just as the door springs open, and a severe-looking woman with Cas' eyes and sharp stare steps into the doorway.

"Castiel," she says in a clipped voice, eyeing Dean with disapproval.

"Good evening, Mother."

"I suppose this is him, then?" she asks.

"This is Dean Winchester, my mate. Dean, this is my mother, Naomi Milton."

"Nice to meet you," Dean says with false cheer. Mentally, he's ripping her beady little eyes out for making his mate feel so terrible about himself.

"I would return the compliment, but I do not lie. Come in," she says, and yeah, she's definitely a bitch.

Dean sees Cas' jaw clench as he walks in, hand still tightly holding onto Dean's. They're let into a house that surpasses Dean's childhood home in size, sophistication, and snobbery. It makes Dean uncomfortable just to walk in, like he might knock over an expensive vase or get dirt on the priceless rug or something. He hears voices coming from a door to the left of the giant foyer, and looks over to see a sitting room—a genuine fucking sitting room, like in those Jane Austen movies his mom used to make him watch as a kid—full of people. Dean sees Balthazar standing by the fireplace, a glass of wine held in one hand, a tiny woman standing next to him. He hears Gabriel's voice, but doesn't see him.

They aren't led into that room, though. Naomi takes them down a hallway and into a fancy office full of leather-bound books. Dean thinks Sammy would be salivating, but he focuses on the alpha sitting in one of the visitor chairs, spinning a glass of whiskey between his fingers. He's old, fifty-five at least, but Dean thinks closer to sixty, balding. And arrogant. Dean can smell the smug self-righteousness from the door. He's wearing a gray suit that's a little too big for him, a feat considering that he's already on the hefty side. Dean has a feeling this is Zachariah, and he's a little disgusted if it is. Cas deserves someone a hundred times better. What kind of mother would chain her child to a miserable old alpha like this shit. Dean's hackles go up at the thought.

The guy turns in his chair to look at them, glancing from Cas to Dean with vague disapproval. "Castiel, how lovely to see you. Your mother and I were just finalizing our contract."

"I apologize, Zachariah, but there will be no contract. I have a mate already, as my mother appears to have neglected to tell you. Dean, meet Zachariah Adler. Zachariah, this is my mate, Dean Winchester."

Zachariah looks at Dean as though he were a giant rat standing in front of him. Dean has to resist the very real desire to bare his teeth. He could definitely take the dude in a fight, but he promised Cas he wouldn't challenge him unless they had no other choice. "How interesting. Are you sure? He lacks a certain... sophistication. Winchester... that name sounds familiar to me. Do you happen to work at the shop on Belleview?"

"I own it."

"Interesting. An acquaintance of mine brought her car to you for service, Bella Talbot. She wasn't impressed."

Dean remembers Talbot, a pushy beta with a superiority complex. She'd seduced him, and then tried to get her service for free. When he gave her the bill, she tried to accuse him of unethical practices and fraud. Thankfully, one of Sammy's professors had helped him take her to court and won. She'd had to pay both the restoration bill and his legal fees. He hadn't heard from her since. "I bet. We gonna talk about how you're not getting Cas, or you wanna talk shop some more?"

Zachariah raises an eyebrow and Naomi glares at him. "This matter does not concern you, Mr. Winchester. I'm not entirely certain why Castiel thought it was desirable to bring you here. My son has agreed to enter into a union with Mr. Adler, and he will fulfill his obligations."

"Oh really? And he agreed to this when, exactly, because I get the feeling he never wanted to mate with this asshole in the first place."

"Excuse me?" Adler hisses, standing and setting his tumbler down on the desk. "You listen to me, boy. Castiel agreed to be my omega months before he ever even met you. How do we know you are his so-called mate? I don't see a claim mark on his neck. You could be a homeless vagrant he's pulled off the street for all we know."

"Why would he need to pull a homeless guy to pretend to be his mate if he wanted to mate with you? The reasons for Cas and I not mating yet aren't any of your business. Cas isn't your omega any more than he's your betrothed. He's mine. And better yet, he wants to be mine. You can't say that."

"It doesn't matter what Castiel wants. I am his mother and he is an omega. He will do as I say, or he will suffer the consequences," Naomi snaps, glaring at Dean.

"And what consequences are those, exactly?" Dean shoots back, edging towards really pissed off.

"If Castiel does not mate Zachariah, he will be disinherited and stripped of his family name."

Dean turns to Cas. "You cool with that?" he asks.

"I don't use my family name now."

"You will no longer have the benefit of a trust fund, either, Castiel. Will your heathen alpha want you when you are penniless and without a home?"

"Cas always has a home with me. I don't care if he's penniless. I'll take care of him," Dean says, moving closer to Cas.

"Neither do I. I would rather have to beg for food and stay with Dean than mate Zachariah," Cas agrees, wrapping the hand not enclosed in Dean's around Dean's bicep, eyes fixed on his mother's.

Naomi stares silently at them for a long moment, her face giving nothing away. After what feels like an eternity, she blinks and walks to the desk, shuffling papers in a business-like fashion. "Very well then, penniless and without family it is. I hope you are satisfied with your decision, Castiel."

Cas looks at Dean and smiles. He looks satisfied, even though Dean can feel him trembling. "I am not without family. Dean is my family. I would thank you for understanding our situation and supporting me, but clearly that was never on the table. Thank you for being a wonderful mother. I hope you are satisfied with never seeing your grandchildren. Good evening." Cas turns and walks away, his grip on Dean giving Dean no choice but to follow.

"Castiel," Naomi's voice stops them in the doorway. Cas looks back, but doesn't say anything. Dean sees a flicker of something in the old crone's eyes, regret maybe? "I have never wanted anything but the best for you. When you have children of your own, you will see that."

Dean has an urge to interfere again, but he gets one look at the righteous indignation on Cas' face and decides to let him have this one. "Did you ever consider what I wanted when you were deciding what is best for me? I know that you've never met your own biological mate, but how can you in good conscience try to deny me mine?"

"You are an omega. I only sought to find the best alpha for you."

Cas snarls, surprising even Dean with his ferocity. "Dean is the best alpha for me! He's my biological mate! That's what that means! God is literally telling us that he is the best alpha for me. How can you not see that?"

"Castiel..."

"No, please tell me how Zachariah, who is old enough to have fathered me, is the best choice for me? Is it his money? His lack of hair? His pot belly? His glowing personality? Did you really want our genes to be combined with his?"

"You little shit..." Zachariah looks like he wants to slap Cas, but Dean gets between them, glaring at him.

"Touch him, and you'll be on the floor a second later," Dean growls, not holding back on baring his teeth now. Zachariah doesn't even look intimidated. Dean will make him pay for the mistake later.

"That was uncalled for, Castiel. Zachariah would have been a good provider for you and your future children."

"Dean's a good provider. He owns his own business and his own home. He is doing very well for himself, and for me. I can also say that he is an excellent father. I cannot say with any sort of confidence that Zachariah would have ever even looked at his children."

Naomi's head snaps up and she stares at him. "How could you possibly know what sort of father this man would be?"

"He has a son from a previous relationship and has raised an intelligent, sharp-witted, friendly child, who is a delight to be around."

"You are giving up the opportunity to be with an alpha who can give you whatever you want for someone who has already pupped with another omega?" Her tone implies that she believes he has lost his mind.

"Yes. And I intend on having pups of my own with him some day, and I am happy to know that my pups will be taken care of as well as their half-brother already is. If that is all?"

Naomi gives him another long stare. "Zachariah, Dean, will you please leave us. I wish to speak with my son in private." It isn't a request.

Zachariah snorts, but he takes his tumbler anyway and walks to the door, stopping only long enough to shove past Dean with a growl. Dean hesitates, looking down at Cas. "You want to talk to her?"

Castiel looks from his mother to Dean and back again. "I suppose it will not hurt. Stay outside the door?"

"Whatever you want. I'll be right outside." Dean cups Cas' face in his hands and kisses his forehead, glancing at Naomi with a warning look as he pulls away and leaves the room. Cas closes the door behind him, leaving him in the hallway with Zachariah.

"I can't believe that little shit chose a vermin like you over me," Zachariah grouses, downing the last of his drink. Dean waits until he's relaxed, off his guard, and clocks him in the mouth hard enough to knock him on his ass.

"I ever hear you talking about him that way again, they won't find your body, you understand me?"

"You despicable little worm! How dare you touch me. I'll have you brought up on assault charges..." Zachariah threatens, struggling to stand back up while clutching his swiftly swelling jaw.

"Oh really? Good luck getting that to stick. You threatened my mate. You're lucky I promised Cas I wouldn't challenge you, or you would have already been dead."

"Ooo, death threats, sounds like a party. Hey Dean-o, didn't know you were here. Where's Cassie?" Gabriel says, sauntering down the hallway with a bottle of some kind of dark beer. The way he's swaying, Dean thinks he might have already hit his limit.

"Inside with your mom." Dean shoves his thumb in the direction of the office door with a sour expression.

"I'm surprised you're out here. And you, too, Zachie-boy. What's wrong, Cassie didn't like you?" He makes a pouty face at Zachariah that earns him a vicious glare. "Looks like you got a nice bruise for your trouble there, big boy. Why don't you run along home?" Okay, Dean might like him for making Zach get all blotchy. He's still pissed about the wake-up call last week, though.

"You don't tell me what to do, you little weasel. I've told your mother she needs to disown you. I don't know why she won't listen to me."

Gabriel smiles, sloppy but knowing. "Well, Zachie-boy, it's like this. Mom talks a good talk, but deep-down, she loves her kids. She might not like what we do, and she might yell at us and threaten to disown us, but when it comes right down to it, she'd never disown a one of us." He grabs onto a nearby door frame for balance and cocks his head towards Dean. "Can I get you a drink, Dean-o? After dealing with this asshole, you probably need one."

"A beer would be nice," Dean says.

"A beer it is. I'll be right back. Don't kill each other while I'm gone. Don't want Maria to have to clean up blood. Again." He turns and sways away from them, back down the hall and out of sight.

Dean turns a glare on Zachariah. "Why are you even still here? What do you think, Naomi's in there convincing Cas to drop me and go back to marrying you? Not gonna happen, asshole."

Zachariah looks incensed, but doesn't say anything. Instead, he throws his tumbler onto the hardwood, smashing it into pieces, and stomps away. Dean looks down at the shattered glass and kicks it to the side as best he can with his shoe, wishing he'd been wearing work boots instead of the leather dress shoes Cas had insisted on. He leans his shoulder against the far wall and waits. A few minutes later, Gabriel is back with his beer and leans against the opposite wall, apparently intent on staying.

"Where'd Zach go?"

"No idea. To hell, hopefully," Dean mutters, taking a swig of his beer.

Gabriel chuckles and nods his head. "I think I might grow to like you, Dean-o. You really love Cassie?"

Dean nods, tired all of the sudden. "Yeah, I do."

"Well, good luck to you, then. You fuck him over, I fuck you over."

"That will not be an issue, thank you, Gabriel," Cas says as he opens the door and steps out. Dean's on red alert immediately. Cas' eyes are red, and he looks like he's been crying.

"Everything okay?" he asks, grabbing onto Cas' elbow.

"I'm fine, thank you. I believe my mother and I have settled our differences. Our dinner invitation has been reinstated."

"Really? You sure you wanna stay?"

"I would like my siblings to get to know you. I think my mother could benefit from some time spent in your presence as well." Dean's about to give his agreement, but stops at the look on Cas' face. "However, tonight is not the night for them to get to know you."

"No?" Dean asks, bewildered.

Cas grabs onto his arm and looks up at him with an intensity Dean hasn't seen in his eyes since they first met. "I'm ready," is all he says.

The hairs on Dean's arms stand up, and he's not even sure what Cas is talking about. "Ready?"

"Yes. Take me home, please."

Dean nearly chokes, coughing loudly and stumbling back into a nearby doorway. "Yeah, okay. Let's uh... let's go," he answers, trying to recover from the surprise. Cas grips his hand to steady him, smiling now, eyes dancing in amusement. He leads Dean by the hand through the house, saying goodbye to Gabriel over his shoulder.

Dean almost trips twice, mind on what they're going to do when they get home. Ben's at his mom's for the week. He has his phone in his hand as soon as they get out the front door and shoots off a text to Sam, telling him to stay at Jess'. He gets the door for Cas, because he's still a gentleman, dammit. He doesn't waste the opportunity to press him against the open passenger side and kiss him to within an inch of his life. Cas is breathless and glassy eyed when he pulls away. He smells like spun sugar. Dean grins and jogs around to the other side and gets in. If he ignores the speed limit, that's his business.

Sam is just coming out the front door with an overnight bag as they pull up, and the look on Dean's face must be enough for him to keep quiet, because he gets in his car with a wave and is gone a few seconds later. Dean has Cas out of the car and lip-locked as soon as he's gone, both stumbling blind towards the front door. Dean fumbles the door handle three times, not bothering to look at what he's doing with Cas' tongue in his mouth and his fingers pulling Dean's hair. Thankfully, Sam left it unlocked. They'd never get inside if he had to mess with a key, and in the state he's in, he probably wouldn't have thought twice about taking Cas on the porch. He finally gets the door open, and they tumble inside, collapsing onto the floor in a messy, giggling heap. "Ow," Cas mutters between kisses, grinning through his laughter.

"You okay?" Dean asks, checking his head over for lumps.

Cas laughs and pulls Dean down for another kiss, wrapping his arms and legs around him like a limpet. "I'm fine, Dean. Take me to bed." Dean doesn't have to be told twice. He grabs a hold of Cas' hips, intending to pick him up and carry him to the bedroom. A glint in his blue eyes is the only warning Dean gets before he's flipped onto his back and pinned by Cas' hands on his shoulders. "I changed my mind," Cas says with a sly grin. "Catch me." He's gone a second later, jumping onto his feet and racing up the stairs, his sweater flying over the railing in his wake. Dean jumps up and gives chase, instincts and adrenaline taking over.

He manages to catch Cas just as he's through the doorway to the bedroom, shirtless now and half-way to unbuttoning his dress pants. Dean grabs him from behind and hauls him onto the bed with a cackle of victory, using his full weight on his hands holding Cas' shoulders down. "Got you," he says, grinning.

Cas struggles to get away, but Dean can tell he's only pretending by his laughter and lack of real force. He waits until Cas is settled and blinking up at him, no longer laughing, before he moves. He starts with a kiss, gentle and slow, to the spot on Cas' neck he intends to mark by the end of the evening. Cas melts into his arms, craning his head to the side to give him better access. Dean takes his time, mapping out Cas' neck with his mouth as he manipulates Cas onto the bed and strips the rest of his clothes from him. He navigates south, pausing at each nipple to suckle and nip them into hard nubs. Cas whines under him, fingers burying in his hair and tugging ever so subtly.

Dean takes it for the encouragement that it is and moves south again, leaving little pink love bites down Cas' chest and stomach. Cas begins to squirm under him, but he ignores this more obvious request, choosing to sit up and strip his own clothes off instead. He wants to feel every inch of Cas' skin against his, and he doesn't want to have to stop in the middle because he's still got his pants on. Cas' gaze is warm on his skin, tracing his lines with appreciation. He leans over Cas for another kiss, unable to help himself. His hands meander down to Cas' entrance, slick and ready for him. The first finger is easy, and it causes Cas to grip his shoulder tight, nails digging into his skin and leaving little crescent moons behind.

The second takes a little patience, but it goes in almost as easily, and Dean scissors them, feeling for the loosening of muscles that means he can add a third. It takes a bit of time and Dean has scratches down his bicep before he hazards a third. It goes in with pressure and a thorough, distracting kiss to Cas' lips. Once the third's in, the forth doesn't take much more coaxing. Cas is so wet now he's leaving a spot on the bed and all Dean can think about is tasting it. He pulls his fingers out, examines them and the thick, viscous liquid coating them, before licking at it. It's like the best dessert he's ever tasted, almost like pecan pie, but better. He licks his fingers clean while Cas watches him, pupils dilating until there is barely any discernible blue.

"Dean, please..." Cas whispers. The desperate drag of his voice is enough to send a shiver down Dean's back. He places deliberate, gentle kisses on each of Cas' cheeks, enjoying the way Cas' eyes flutter closed.

"You're sure?" he asks, wanting to hear it once more. Two months of touching without being able to do more, smelling arousal and being unable to satisfy his mate, texts at two in the afternoon canceling plans because a heat has come, and then waiting the three days knowing his mate is across town fucking himself on a dildo and crying out for Dean; all that patience and finally this is his reward.

Cas lets out a breathless, "Yes," and it's all Dean needs. He shifts Cas' legs wider and moves them up towards his shoulders, making enough room for Dean's hips to shift closer. Cas quietly takes hold of them when Dean prompts, keeping them nice and wide-open. Dean presses a quick, hard kiss to his mouth and takes hold of his own erection, angling it towards Cas' wet, pink entrance. There's resistance at first, and Cas whines in a way that makes Dean worry he's hurt him, but the look of desire in his eyes tells a different story, and Dean presses on. The muscles ease all at once, laying the way for Dean to slide half-way in with very little effort. And holy shit is it good when he does, tight and unbelievably hot and pulsing around him. Dean nearly comes just at the first feel of it.

Dean groans, bracing his hands on either side of Cas' head and dropping his weight onto them, dipping down to nibble at Cas' neck, hoping to give himself time to settle. '"Dean," Cas says into his ear. There are hands in his hair and Cas' legs are now clenching his sides like a vice, holding him in place. Dean shifts his head around to kiss Cas, deep and slow. He pushes into Cas' a little at a time, matching his movements with the tiny keening sounds Cas makes against his mouth. He pulls back when he bottoms out to look Cas in the eyes, but Cas' are closed tight.

"You okay, sweetheart?" Dean asks, and he hardly recognizes his own voice for how deep it's gotten.

"Your so big, Dean. I never thought it could feel like this.," Cas says, opening his eyes to look up at Dean in wonder.

Dean grins at him. "It only gets better from here."

The wonder morphs into want. "Show me."

And Dean does. He makes sure his movements are slow, but deep, pulling his hips all the way back before sliding in until they're flush with Cas' again and then pushing a little deeper than that. Harsh little cries start spilling from Cas' lips. Dean drinks them up, using them as fuel to keep going, keep shifting, until Cas cries out, "OH FUCK!" and Dean knows he's hit the spot. He concentrates on it, digging into him with every thrust of his hips. Cas looks at him like he's a god come down to earth when he's not busy shouting his name, laced with a colorful array of curses.

Dean pulls away from their embrace to send a questioning look at Cas, unwilling to ask, but needing consent all the same. He caresses up Cas' forearms, directing them above his head and lacing their fingers together., leaning down over him and taking his mouth in a heated kiss. When he pulls away again, Cas looks up at him with all the love in the world and nods, giving his permission. Dean's thrusts speed up and Cas tilts his head to the side to present his neck to Dean. Dean noses there, scenting him one final time as an un-mated omega before he sinks his teeth deep into Cas' shoulder. Blood oozes into his mouth, and with it a wave of calm. Every worry, frustration, source of anger, every negative thought in his head goes silent. All he is aware of is his mate underneath him, his mouth against Dean's ear whispering how much he loves him. It's the most peaceful he's ever felt.

All at once, the world returns to him. He's aware suddenly that Cas has already come, can smell the pure, perfect scent of him all over their bed. Cas is smiling up at him with fairy light in his eyes, his hands combing through Dean's hair. Dean looks down at him and sees him, really sees him as an entire person for the first time, and thinks if he only ever says it once, this is the time. "I love you," he rasps, throat raw and painful from the tears caught there.

Cas laughs, tears trickling down his own cheeks. "I love you, too." Dean leans down and kisses the tears away, the salt mixing with the blood already in his mouth. Before he can recognize how disgusting the taste is, Cas is kissing him and he forgets about everything else for awhile.

When he's aware again, he tries to shift off of Cas and finds that he can't. He looks down, shocked to see the edge of his knot buried deep inside of Cas. "Did I just...?"

"Knot me?" Cas asks, laughing. "Yeah, you did. Didn't you notice?"

"No, I was... all I could feel was you."

"Me, too," Cas jokes, down-right giggling. Dean snorts and buries his nose in Cas' neck, only remembering that it might be a little tender when he feels sticky wetness on his skin. He lifts up again and surveys them, looking for a more comfortable way to lay while they wait for the knot to come down. Cas watches him with an amused little turn of his mouth that's fucking adorable and has Dean so distracted he forgets what he's supposed to be doing in order to kiss Cas for a while. When he comes back to himself, he sits up, picking Cas up with him and twisting around onto his back. It's awkward and a little pinched, and the stimulation pulls a second, smaller orgasm from Dean. He almost drops Cas in the shock of it, but Cas kisses him afterward, which is just fine.

When they pull away, Cas balances above Dean using their joined hands, grinning down at him. "You're mine now. No one can take you from me."

"And you're mine." Dean's eyes linger on the claiming mark, red and raw and still dribbling blood just a little. They'll have to clean it soon so that it doesn't get infected, but it's going to leave a nice scar. Dean wishes there was something they could do to permanently mark him as Cas', but alphas don't get marks.

"You're thinking. Stop before you hurt yourself," Cas says, teasing him.

He wrestles Cas onto his chest and kisses him again. "Shut it."

"What were you thinking about?"

"It's stupid, nevermind."

"No, tell me," Cas insists, sitting up again.

Dean doesn't want to say the very girly thing he was thinking, so he asks a question instead. "What made you decide you were ready?"

Cas sits up, hands balanced on Dean's stomach, softly stroking the skin there and making Dean shudder. "I was talking to my mother about what I wanted. I was explaining what it was about you that I found so attractive, and I suddenly realized that I shouldn't have to explain. You're my mate. That should be enough for her. I realized I'd been making the same arguments that she was making with myself, so I stopped. Without all that in my head, there didn't seem to be a point to waiting."

Dean nods, not really knowing what to say to that. He gets it, he does. Self-doubt is something he is no stranger to. He rubs his hands up and down Cas' thighs absently, thinking about how quiet that self-doubt is now. Cas has quieted his demons, even the ones he never would have admitted to having, not even to himself. Cas leans down to kiss his chest, just above where his heart beats underneath his skin. He can feel himself stirring at the touch and reaches one hand up to touch the soft skin at the edge of his bite mark, careful not to use any pressure in case it still hurts.

"We need to get this clean before it gets infected," Dean says.

"It'll be fine until your knot goes down. Let's take a nap. We'll clean it when we wake up, and then you can fuck me again." Cas murmurs against his skin, resting his cheek on Dean's breastbone.

Dean's cock twitches again and he groans. "Yeah, okay."

"Good night then," Cas says, leaning up for a final kiss to his lips. "I love you."

"Me, too. Night," Dean says back, burying his fingers in Cas' hair and sighing his contentment. When he drops off, the last thing he thinks is that he has never felt this peaceful.


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SIX MONTHS LATER

"So, when you said he wasn't ready for me yet, what did you mean?" Dean asks, sitting next to Missouri on the swing Cas insisted on hanging from the one tree in the back yard. Dean has to admit that it's a nice place to sit—he and Cas rock on it with Cas' head on his shoulder frequently—but it had been a bitch to climb up to get the supports in, even with Sammy's help.

Missouri gives him a beatific smile and pats his leg. "Just that, baby. He was betrothed to another man when you found him, wasn't he?"

Dean doesn't even want to know how she knows that. "Yeah, a sleezebag."

"I don't agree with your phrasing, but yes, he was. At the time that you first scented him, he was completely ready to mate that man. If you'd approached him then, he would have rejected you out-right. He was still convinced that whatever his mama said, went."

"What made him change his mind, then?"

"Why don't you ask him?" she says with a raised eyebrow. Dean hates the raised eyebrow. It always makes him feel like a scolded child.

"Yeah, okay. I'm gonna grab a beer. You want anything?"

"A scotch and soda, please."

Dean gets off the swing and heads for the house to get her drink, but mostly to try and find Cas. His mate is in the kitchen washing a giant casserole dish while talking to Mary. "I was thinking perhaps six months from now. Dean doesn't want to start thinking about children until we've been mated for a year. He wants us to be able to have time together to get to know each other better before bringing children into the picture."

"Yeah, 'cause once you got 'em, no more sex on the kitchen table," Dean reminds him with a smirk, sliding up behind Cas at the sink and kissing his shoulder where his claiming mark has scarred over. It never fails to make Cas shiver.

"Oh, I wouldn't say that. Your father and I had no problem," Mary tells him, smirking herself.

Dean makes a face at the image of his parents having sex anywhere, let alone the kitchen table he grew up eating at. "Thanks, Mom. Now I'm gonna have that image in my head for the rest of my life."

Mary snorts and swats him with a towel. "Oh honestly, you and Sam both act like you have no idea how you ended up here."

"What are you talking about? The stork brought us here."

Mary just rolls her eyes at him and walks away, shoving the towel in his hands to dry. Dean doesn't object. In the six months since they've mated and Cas moved in, he's grown fond of doing the dishes with his mate. They work quietly for a minute, Cas washing and then handing off to Dean for drying.

"Say it," Cas says, seemingly out of the blue.

Dean blinks at him only to receive a pointed look back and sighs. "It's creepy when you're psychic, you know."

"I'm not psychic. I can practically hear you thinking. What is it?"

Dean hesitates, mostly because he knows there's a huge potential for him to sound like a raving lunatic. Not that Cas would care. According to him, Dean sounds like a raving lunatic often. "So, you know how Missouri's kind of... actually psychic?"

"Yes."

"When I first scented you, she told me she knew you, but she wouldn't tell me how to contact you or what your name was or anything because you weren't ready to meet me."

"I'm sure you loved that." Cas smiles, eyes dancing with amusement.

"I've never wanted to deck a woman more." Dean pauses. "Well, maybe Ruby, but that's a whole other thing. Anyway, I was wondering what she meant by that, you know? So I asked, and she said you were still convinced that your mom had the right idea with the whole betrothal thing."

"Mmm, if I was still at the post office at the time, she is correct. I didn't like Zachariah, but I also thought that my mother knew what was best for me. I'd only started working at the post office because I insisted on having a job and Mother thought it would be best for me to work under my sibling."

"What changed your mind?"

Cas goes quiet, dipping the dish he's washing back into the water to rinse the suds away before scrubbing more at the stuck-on food. When he hands the dish to Dean, it's with an expression Dean can't understand. "I met Ben."

"Huh?" Dean never would have expected Cas to say that. He's so dumbfounded, he can't even form words.

"He's such an engaging child, so happy and full of life. Meeting him was like a revelation. I wanted my children to have his energy and enthusiasm. I knew that if I had my children with Zachariah, they never would. Zachariah would have made them submissive little carbon copies of himself, and I didn't want that. I went home the night I substituted for his class and asked my mother to cancel the betrothal. She refused, obviously. There was quite an argument. She would not out-right end the agreement, but she did agree to postpone the mating by six months. Four months later, I met you. If I'd never met Ben, I probably would have already been mated to Zachariah before I ever met you."

Rage fills Dean's gut at the very thought of that sniveling cockroach getting to his mate before he did. He puts the plate on the counter, and leans over to kiss Cas, channeling all his anger at Zachariah and Naomi into making Cas' toes curl. By the way Cas grips onto him, he thinks he might have succeeded. Just as things are starting to get interesting, Ben exclaims from behind them, "Really?! We're in the middle of a party! Can't you guys stop sucking face for like two minutes? Gross."

By the time Dean manages to pull himself away from Cas long enough to look, Ben has already turned around and is walking away. Dean and Cas start laughing so hard neither can catch breath for a while afterward, which is okay because they're kissing again anyway.