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The Sacrificial Husband

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Dean should have known he was screwed the moment he found out that Crowley was mediating the peace treaty. Crowley's a smirking little rat with a way of looking at Dean - speculative and more than a little predatory - that makes his skin crawl. Apparently though, Crowley, otherwise known as His Royal Highness, the Crown Prince of Hell, is the only impartial party that both King John and King Charles could agree upon.

Dean sits at his father's right hand side, his Uncle Robert at the king's left. At the opposite side of the conference table, Prince Castiel and Lord Zachariah flank King Charles. At the head of the table, Crowley lounges in his seat, his expression wavering between boredom and amusement as he watches King John and King Charles exchange barbs. A handful of loyal soldiers from both sides of the conflict guard the perimeter of the room, eyeing each other suspiciously.

So far, there have been no real surprises in the terms of the ceasefire. Both sides agreeing, grudgingly, to accept the compromises that Crowley has negotiated. Dean's father has agreed to withdraw his troops and fully surrender his claim on the border lands he'd invaded. Not that he'd had much choice in the matter; seizing the lands had been the foolish mistake of a distraught man. The offensive had been ill conceived and poorly planned, and a success only because of their army's rigorous training combined with the element of surprise. Invading the lands had been the easy part; maintaining control of them was proving near impossible. Retreat was the only sensible solution at this point.

The most important thing as far as Dean and his father are concerned is that King Charles has agreed to hand over his cousin Lord Raphael, along with his fellow conspirators, to face trial in Winchester. A decision which, if it had been made eighteen months previously, would have soothed King John's ire and avoided the entire conflict.

King John has conceded to provide a fund to rebuild the roads, bridges and railway networks damaged during the conflict as well as agreeing to compensate the people of the borderlands whose homes and livelihoods have been blighted by the war. In total it amounts to a sizeable sum which will put a small dent in the king's private fortune, but not bankrupt the country or cause suffering among his own people.

Both sides have agreed to exchange their prisoners of war, minus a few notable exceptions. Those men who stand accused of crimes above and beyond their orders are to stand trial in Hell's courts, where they will have a fair and impartial hearing.

Only one stumbling block remains. One that threatens to derail the whole peace process. One that poses a direct and dark threat to Dean personally. And although he won't pretend it doesn't scare him shitless, Dean is prepared to sacrifice himself for his country. His father however is not.

"My son was killed by your army, by your order." King Charles repeats, his lips thinned in anger. "I demand retribution."

"Your son was killed in battle." King John's hands screw into tight fists on the table top. "While I am sorry for your loss, I do not agree that this is a matter that requires retribution. My wife was murdered in cold blood by your cousin - that requires retribution."

"You allege that my cousin was responsible and I have agreed to hand him over to stand trial. You will see justice done."

"Nearly two years after my wife was murdered." John grinds out, his complexion turning a ruddy shade of red.

"Still, justice will be done." King Charles insists. "My son is gone because of your insane actions. My first born alpha. The heir to my kingdom. An eye for an eye, King John! I demand you suffer the same way I have suffered."

"You're a raving lunatic if you think for one minute that I'll sacrifice my son!!"

"And you're a deluded fool if you think I need this treaty as much as you do. You are losing this war. If you don't agree to my terms, then we leave now and I'll spend the next ten years ripping your country apart and making sure you and your family pay for what you've done."

"What I've done? What I've done, you buffoon? You allowed your cousin to assassinate my wife! If I had my way I'd-"

"Gentlemen," Crowley intercedes smoothly when it's obvious the debate is degenerating into little more than name calling. "I'm sure we can resolve this final matter without resorting to insults and threats."

"I'm not handing over my son!"

"And I'm not signing a treaty until you do!"

Dean shifts uneasily on his chair. While he would never disagree with his father in front of King Charles and his delegation, he can't help but feel he should get some say in this matter. It is his life they're discussing after all. Twisting in his chair, he holds his hand up to hide his mouth from view and muffle his words. "Sir, let me do it. We need this treaty."

Ignoring Dean completely, the king bangs his fist down on the table top to emphasize his point, his voice chilled ice-cold. "I will not hand my son over to be executed. I will never willingly sacrifice the life of my child."

King Charles's eyes grow bright and hard with fury.

Both men stare at each other, hatred curdling the air between them. The atmosphere deteriorates in a heartbeat from strained to knife-edge dangerous. Around the room, every soldier stiffens, braces for trouble, hands flex near weapons, some wary, some eager. Dean's own hand slides down to the thigh holster he wears on top of his fatigues. "King John," He says, low but insistent. "Let me do it; our people need peace."

"We all need peace," King John agrees, "But our people will never accept peace at the price of your life. They will not sit idly by and allow your execution. They would fight down to the last man rather than see you sacrifice yourself."

One of the soldiers standing behind them coughs, a sharp bark of agreement that leaves the king smiling wryly.

"If I may," Crowley interjects drawing everyone's attention. Ignoring the soldier’s glares and twitching fingers, he stands up and slides his hands casually into the pockets of his rumpled pants. "Can I suggest a compromise? There is another option. One which should satisfy King Charles' need for retribution without costing young Prince Dean his life."

The silence hangs heavy in the air. Everyone waits and watches as Crowley pauses, purely as far as Dean can see for dramatic effect. As though the tension in the room needs heightened any further.

"Prince Castiel and Prince Dean are both unwed. Prince Dean could be offered up to Prince Castiel as a tribute, a marriage offering."

"No," King Charles is quick to shoot down Crowley's idea. "Absolutely not. Prince Castiel is now my heir; he cannot marry someone who is unable to bear a child. And I don't see how bringing Winchester blood into my family avenges the death of my son."

"There is a way that Prince Dean could birth a child." Crowley continues, tilting his head towards Dean and giving him a appraising once-over that makes Dean squirm uncomfortably in his chair. "If he is turned."

"No," John barks immediately.

"That sounds...interesting; tell me more," King Charles says, leaning over the table and steepling his fingers.

"There are a couple of options," Crowley continues, focuses his attention solely on the King of Heaven, completely disregarding King John's objection and thunderous expression. "The first is for Prince Dean to be castrated, and injected with a series of synthetic hormones which would alter his gender to omega. This procedure has been carried out on convicted sexual offenders and in general is around sixty percent successful. Death only occurs in around ten percent of cases, but sterility is more of a likelihood. The other option is a ritual turning."

"Absolutely not." John thumps his fist down on the table again. "That's a barbaric punishment, outlawed for decades."

Again Crowley ignores King John. "Prince Dean would be turned into an omega, married to Prince Castiel, live a full life and should have the ability to bear many healthy children. Your countries would be bound together by marriage, could forge stronger ties by the joining of your families and guarantee future peace with the birth of children of pure royal blood from two great families."

Dean swallows convulsively, tries to choke down the taste of bile crawling up his throat.

"Yes," King Charles says thoughtfully. "Yes, that might be acceptable." Prince Castiel's jaw drops as he turns to stare at his father. It's the first emotion Dean's seen him show all day.

"Tell me more about the ritual," King Charles says, oblivious to the shocked expression on his son's face.

An oily sheen lights up Crowley's eyes as he explains what the ritual involves. "The ritual takes around seven days to complete. Prince Dean would be penetrated and knotted once a day. His ass would be plugged and kept full of alpha sperm and his meals laced with it too. To ensure that his royal blood line remains pure it is traditional that the turning be carried out by alphas from his own family, at least for the first few days and his father must initiate the process."

"The ritual must be performed in public." Zachariah, King Charles' advisor - and a pompous dick in Dean's opinion - cuts in. "We would need to witness the turning."

"Of course," Crowley agrees. "It would be the perfect opportunity to seal the treaty. A week-long celebration, with Prince Dean's turning the pinnacle of the evening's entertai- celebrations."

"No, I won't allow this...this atrocity." King John jumps to his feet, his chair toppling backwards and crashing to the floor with the sudden momentum. "You will not humiliate my family like this."

"It's either this or war." King Charles also rises to his feet, palms flat on the table, beady eyes fixed on King John. "Your pride or your people, King John. The choice is yours."

"Why don't we take a break for ten minutes, gentlemen," Crowley suggests. A good idea, Dean thinks as it looks as though his father is contemplating reaching across the table and ripping King Charles' head off by his curly hair.

The conference room is soon cleared, the respective parties retreating back to their private offices. It takes a moment when Dean first stands up for his legs to stop shaking. Adrenaline, he tells himself, leaning heavily on the backrest of his chair and drawing a deep breath, it's surely the rush of adrenaline from this whole fucked-up mess that's making him shake and sweat. As he releases his grip on the chair and wipes his palms across his thighs, he realizes that Prince Castiel is watching him. A look of pity on his face. Dean clenches his jaw, straightens his shoulders, and follows his father from the room without looking back at the man who could well be his husband, his alpha, one day soon.



"Well, shit," Bobby says as soon as they are all safely shut away in the office that is their current private retreat. "I didn't expect that."

"He's an idiot." John snarls, throwing his crown onto the table with a clatter that makes Dean cringe. He knows John doesn't enjoy wearing it, but the crown is a priceless heirloom. "His son died in battle.” His father continues to rage. “He was a grown-ass man who made the decision to pick up arms and fight. I'm sorry he died, but a lot of men did. It's insane for Charles to demand revenge."

Bobby nods. "True, but then Chuck’s not been playing with a full deck for years now. Not since that business with his wife. I'm damn sure that someone else is yanking his strings. He’s too unstable to run a country."

"Zachariah probably," Dean agrees. "He seems the power-behind-the-throne type."

"Yeah, he does," Bobby slumps down into a chair, scratches his fingers through his greying beard. "The problem is now that Chuckie has demanded retribution, he ain't gonna back down, so what's our next move?"

"We walk away," John says, pacing the length of the room. "We tell Crowley and Heaven's halfwits where to shove their agreement and we walk."

"No, Dad, we can't do that." Dean shakes his head as his sinks down onto a chair. "There's been enough war, enough lives lost. If we have a chance to finish this, to see Raphael pay, then we have to take it."

"Dean," Bobby says before John can. "You can't expect us to do that. What they're asking, it's too much."

"I've fought for months now," Dean says calmly. "Fought on the front lines. I've watched good men die and come close a couple of times myself. If it would finally end the fighting I would happily walk in front of a firing squad. My life isn't any more important than any other on the field of battle."

"It is to me," John says, eyes locked on Dean's. "It is to me and it is to your family."

Dean drops his gaze first, examines the polished finish on the table as he responds. "I don't want to do it, Dad. I don't want to be fucked and humiliated, turned into an omega in front of everyone, but we have no choice. You still have Sam as an heir. He'll make a better king than I ever would. He's smarter, more educated, better at politics and diplomacy. He's stupidly in love with Jess already; you know they'll give you lots of ridiculously pretty grandchildren. He was always the better man for the job."

"No, Dean, you're going to be a great king." John argues, but Dean can already see the sadness in his eyes, the fight seeping from his muscles.

"Maybe it's for the best, y'know, having me inside their family, their country. It'll be like having a spy in their camp. I'll know if they plan anything, be able to warn you."

"You'll be an omega boy," Bobby's voice is gentle, too gentle. "You'll be owned by your alpha, wear his collar and brand. If he wants to lock you up in a room and breed you, there'll be no law to stop him, not in that goddamn country. He can beat you bloody and keep you locked up or parade you around naked and leashed. You'll have no rights, no voice."

"You're really selling this to me now, Bobby," Dean jokes drily.

"Boy," Bobby scowls, "This ain't no joke. How do you think they're gonna treat you? Prince Dean of Winchester, the warrior prince who fought against them? Who best them in battle after battle. You think they're gonna treat you with an ounce of kindness... respect?"

"I think that if they need me to produce heirs for the throne, they'll have to take pretty good care of me for a while. Long enough for me to figure out who's controlling the king and if they're planning on attacking us again."

Bobby shakes his head, but he stays quiet.

"I don't see any other option," Dean admits. "I would rather just be executed than turned-"

"No, Dean," Both Bobby and his father object, but Dean brushes them off.

"But I saw the way that Chuck’s eyes lit up at the idea, and Zachariah obviously wants me publicly humiliated so it looks like this is the way it's gonna go. I know it's not gonna be easy, but I'll do it. For Winchester. For our people. For Sammy."

John joins them at the table, slumping down heavily in a chair like his strings have been cut. "God, I hate this. The whole idea is barbaric, cruel. There has to be another way."

Bobby shakes his head, his fingers curling around John's forearm. "I hate this as much as you, but I don't think there is, John. I think we either accept this deal or walk away without resolution."

"We can't walk." Dean insists, surprised at how calm he sounds when his life is disintegrating around him. But there's no way he's allowing the war to go on. Not when he can stop it. Not now that Sammy's turned eighteen. He'll die before he lets his little brother join the army and risk his life. Dean's a soldier, Sammy's better than that. He deserves to be king. Maybe this is all for the best. Best for Winchester, best for Sammy and his dad.

 

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Castiel's stomach twists uneasily as he leans against the wall and watches his father and Zachariah gloat. This is not the way he expected today's talks to go. His father used to be a man of principle. A strict and reserved leader certainly, but one who loved his people and his family, and who would work seven days a week to ensure the smooth and fair running of his country. In the past few years, however, things have changed. His father is now a distant man. Interested more in writing his journals than running his country. Allowing his advisors to make more and more decisions. Bad ones, as far as Castiel is concerned.

King Charles' first major mistake was hiding Raphael and his cohorts when King John demanded their arrest for the murder of his wife. Raphael always was a loose cannon, desperate for the power he would never have. He's family, royal blood, but a second cousin to the king and not in direct line of ascension. He's never been happy about that. How he thought assassinating the royal family in Winchester would help, Castiel does not know. Maybe conflict was always Raphael’s desired outcome. Maybe he had plans to oust King Charles and take the crown for himself while the countries were embroiled in war. Whatever he planned obviously didn't work, and at least the king has finally agreed to his deportation as part of the treaty. Still, they are now left in this terrible mess.

"Did you see the old fool's face," Zachariah sniggers. "He wasn't expecting that."

"Indeed," King Charles muses. "They seemed unaware that I would demand reparations for Michael's murder."

"He wasn't murdered, father." Castiel says, as neutrally as possible. Michael's death is still fresh in the heart and mind of Castiel and his father, and the subject is a sensitive one. "He was leading an attack on the Winchester's outpost. An attack that you and Zachariah planned. He died with honor, in battle. He was a soldier, a great one, and he knew the risks when he decided to lead the mission."

"He was murdered by those savages." The king scowls, "And you should be happy that we'll see him avenged."

"I'm far from happy," Castiel pushes off the wall, walks towards the desk where his father and Zachariah are seated, and plants his hands on the table top. "And Michael would be disgusted. When did we start believing in an eye for an eye? That is not the way the laws of Heaven work. We believe in repentance and forgiveness. In making amends and finding peaceful resolution. Making a spectacle of a man, humiliating and forcing him to lose his alphahood is barbaric. This is too much to ask of anyone."

"Too much to ask?" Zachariah repeats, ignoring most of Castiel's outburst. "They're lucky we didn't go with our original plan. I'd have seen that thug hung, drawn and quartered in the city square. Do you know they castrate men as part of that execution? At least this way Deano gets to keep his balls, even though he will lose his knot."

The hairs on the back of Castiel's neck prickle at the fervor in Zachariah's voice; an icy chill rippling down his spine when he realizes with horror, how serious the man is. He stares incredulously at his father searching for a sign that Zachariah is lying, or speaking out of turn. The king, the father he knows and loves, would never sanction such a terrible act. Surely, it was a bluff. His father, however, doesn't meet his eye, just keeps his gaze steadily on a pen he has winding through his fingers. Castiel is hit by a dizzying spell of vertigo that has him fighting the urge to throw up.

"What's really wrong, Prince Castiel? Don't you want to marry an omega?" Zachariah chuckles and leans back in his chair, hands behind his head, like the whole subject is a big joke. "Okay, so owning an O isn't for everyone. They can be needy creatures. But all you have to do is take possession of him, and breed him. Leave the Winchester bitch locked up in the tower if you want. Or pass him around the barracks; I’m sure the soldiers would love a chance to fuck the infamous Dean Winchester. As long as you breed him through his heats often enough to produce an heir and a spare, that's all that matters."

"Zachariah," King Charles reprimands his advisor, and for a minute Castiel thinks his father has finally seen reason. "You know I find that awful expression disrespectful."

Castiel huffs in disgust, turns his back and walks away. He can't believe that his father doesn't see how wrong this is.

"Zachariah is right," The king continues, either utterly oblivious or simply uncaring towards his son's objections. "Once the marriage ceremony is complete and you have signed the ownership papers for the omega, you don't have to worry about it. Breeding an O is barely a hardship, some men pay good money for the chance, and as Crowley explained, it should be fertile enough to give you all the children that you want within a few short years. Then you can get rid of it, sell it or send it to the whore houses, whatever you want. And if you want to continue your courtship of Princess Hannah, you can make her your consort. She can raise the children with you, and stand by your side."

"Do you even hear yourself, father?" Castiel shakes his head in disbelief. "You're talking like an omega is an animal. Lower than an animal. You treat your dogs with more respect."

"My dogs are well trained and intelligent; they deserve more respect." King Charles bites back.

"You must remember that O's are uncommon for a reason, Castiel." Zachariah says. "They're freaks of nature. Aberrations. Useless and worthless. As stupid as cattle and as needy as children. Ruled by their hormones and slaves to any man with a knot. Their sole purpose is to service alphas and produce babies. For Winchester to see his heir reduced to nothing but a dumb omega hole is a fitting punishment. An alpha son for an alpha son."

"Tell me you don't agree with him. That you can see how distorted his thinking is," Castiel implores the king, hoping in vain that his father might see reason. "Tell me you don't honestly believe that omegas lives are worth so little."

King Charles stares up at his son and blinks, his silence saying everything.

"No wonder mother and Gabriel left." As soon as he says it Castiel knows it was a mistake. Zachariah's smirk widens and the king's eyes narrow.

The queen and Gabriel's disappearance is a mute subject. Something no-one mentions, definitely not within range of the king's hearing. Most people don't even know what happened; there are too many rumors in circulation to make any sense of the matter. Even Castiel isn't certain of the whole story, it all happened when he was still a child. What he does knows is that one night when Castiel was eleven years old, and Gabriel thirteen, his mother kissed Castiel goodnight, and told him she loved him. The next morning she and Gabriel were gone and his father apoplectic with rage. Michael, fifteen years old and Castiel's hero, had sheltered Castiel from his father's dark mood and the worst of the palace gossip. Castiel heard snippets though, rumors of Gabriel hitting puberty and presenting as an omega. It’s certainly possible. Omegas were rare, but from time to time a child could find themselves waking up with wet sheets and a burning in their belly. Castiel's fairly confident that it happens more often than people admit, but with the stigma surrounding omegas, the hellish lives they suffer in Heaven, hiding an omega child would hardly be surprising.

Before Castiel can say anything else or his father can vent the fury that's turning his cheeks scarlet, a series of raps on the door distracts them all.

"If you gentlemen are ready to recommence I believe we can finalize this agreement before the end of the day." Crowley's as smooth as ever. Castiel has no idea why his father trusts him, he's as slick as an eel. Castiel wouldn't be surprised if the man had a hidden agenda of his own.

"Lead the way," Zachariah grins, his enthusiasm obscene.



The Winchesters enter the conference room shortly after Castiel and his father. The men's expressions are somber. King John's complexion almost ash grey. They only retake their seats after urging from Crowley, even then their postures are rigid.

Castiel lets his gaze roam over Prince Dean more thoroughly. He's grown into a handsome young man, beautiful even. His hair, blond and curly in childhood, has grown darker and is cut much shorter, although there's a hint of a curl around his ear where it's starting to grow a little unruly. His eyelashes are dark now too and thick, perfectly framing those golden green eyes that are unlike any others Castiel has seen. And his lips, his lips are possibly the eighth wonder of the world, dark pink, plush and inviting. But despite his pretty looks Dean is unmistakably alpha with the sharp cut of his stubbled jaw and the thick muscles obvious even under the layers of his uniform. Muscles that are tight with tension right now as he sits beside his father.

Crowley wastes no time on small talk or pleasantries. "So, now that we've all had time to think let's see if we can reach an accord. “King John? Have you decided if the terms are acceptable?”

King John looks directly at King Charles, and for the first time Castiel sees weary resignation in the man's eyes. "Is this really what you want? Is there no other way?"

"You invaded my country and killed my son. There will be no peace between us until you have suffered as much as I."

If his father was not the king, Castiel would kick him under the table. This is all ridiculously cruel and unnecessary.

"My wife was murdered in cold blood and you think I haven't suffered? You-"

"We accept the terms of the treaty." Dean lays his hand on his father's arm, silencing him with the simple words that will end the war, and his own life as an alpha prince and future king.

King John's teeth clack shut as he stares at his son, then visibly deflating he sinks back in his chair.

"King John?" Crowley prompts

The king dips his head. "Yes, we agree."

Before Castiel's father and Zachariah can crow at their victory, Lord Robert speaks up. "As we are capitulating to this despicable demand, we do have some additional stipulations that we expect to be agreed upon."

Crowley waves him on. "Firstly," Lord Robert says, taking a list from his pocket and flattening it out on the table. "Once married, Dean will have full rights as a member of the royal family. We want his safety and health guaranteed."

"He'll be an omega," Zachariah objects. "He'll have no rights. His life will belong to Prince Castiel."

Castiel immediately seizes the opportunity to join the discussion, "And as that is the case, as far as the laws in our land are concerned, I agree wholly to those stipulations."

"Castiel," Zachariah hisses.

"You said that Prince Dean would belong to me so it is surely up to me to decide on this matter." Castiel holds his breath waiting for his father to disagree, but when the king remains silent, he takes his courage a step further and continues. "What other requirements do you have?"

The three Winchester men look at him curiously. It is the first time Castiel has spoken up in these proceedings so he can forgive them their scrutiny. As Lord Robert continues, Castiel can feel Prince Dean's eyes boring into him.

"We want Dean to be permitted to visit his family at least once a year. And when he bears children, we expect them to accompany him."

Castiel nods his agreement. "They will be King John's grandchildren, I think this reasonable. And of course Dean will be permitted to visit his family, and you will be welcome to return the visit."

"No," Zachariah jumps in. "That is out of the question. I don't-"

"You don't get a say in how I treat my omega." Castiel says. "What else?"

"The turning ceremony."

"Is non-negotiable," King Charles speaks up, preventing Castiel from watering down the humiliation demanded of Prince Dean. "And it will be public."

"In our castle," Lord Robert demands. "In front of guests approved by us."

"In front of anyone I say." King Charles says stubbornly.

Crowley intercedes. "I believe we can work out a guest list between us, and any further details that need worked out. Perhaps Lord Robert, Zachariah and myself can work out the minutiae tomorrow."

Grudging agreement is given to that and after a few minor addendums are added to the treaty it appears that agreement is reached. Castiel isn't sure whether to feel elated or disgusted.

"One more thing," King John adds. He's been unusually quiet, allowing Lord Robert to speak for him. "You are getting your revenge. I want mine. I want the death penalty to be an option if Raphael and his co-conspirators are found guilty."

"That was not what we agreed earlier." King Charles argues.

"That was before you demanded the sacrifice of my son. If I don't see the ultimate justice carried out for the death of my wife, then I will not allow my son to pay so heavy a price for your twisted view of retribution."

Castiel half thinks that King John wants King Charles to refuse. That he wants an excuse to walk out of the talks without reaching a peaceful resolution. That he wants to save his son. The respect Castiel has for the king increases. He may be a foolhardy and reckless man, but he obviously loves his family. Castiel doubts the same can be said of his own father any more.

It takes a moment for King Charles to consider, but eventually he nods. "Fine. Fine, do what you want with them. As long as they are given a fair trial."

And that is that. After eighteen months of war, agreement is reached. The lands of Heaven and Winchester are finally reconciled. And while Castiel is relieved that the pointless death and destruction will end, he can't help but wonder if the price isn't needlessly high.

There is no jubilation in the air when the final grudging handshakes are given. Although Crowley is smiling broadly, and Zachariah and King Charles look pleased with themselves, the Winchester men are solemn and quiet.

They have two weeks to make arrangements for the ceremony to take place. Two weeks until Dean becomes omega. Until Castiel and Dean's lives will be irrevocably changed, interwoven forever.

Before the Winchester's guards escort them from Crowley's conference room, Castiel tries to catch Prince Dean's eye. When that fails he steps around the table and places his hand lightly on the man's shoulder. Instantly a towering bear of a soldier jumps forward placing himself in front of the prince, all but growling at Castiel. In turn, every other soldier in the room, on both sides, springs to attention, raising their weapons.

"It's okay, Benny," Prince Dean says softly to the guard protecting him. "Stand down. It's fine, relax."

The soldier scowls at Castiel, but takes a step back. Just one step, ensuring he remains close enough to the prince to take Castiel's head off if he makes one wrong move.

"I'm sorry," Castiel says to the prince. "I just wanted to make clear that this wasn't my idea. I don't think it's right or just, but-"

"But you agreed to it anyway." Dean nods, his eyes unreadable, his words formal. "And you are already making decisions about my life, talking about me like a possession. Well, you know what, Prince Castiel? Becoming omega will not change the man I am underneath. And although I wish my father had agreed to my execution rather than this marriage, I will do what's best for my country and my family. And while you will stand witness to my humiliation and rape, and while I will have no choice but to become your husband, and your possession, while you will own my body, my decisions, and my future, you will not....will never own my soul. If you think that you have bargained yourself a cowering submissive omega to fuck with, then you are going to be sorely disappointed."

Castiel is left staring after him as Dean and the rest of his party leave the room. Maybe he should be angry at his outburst, at his flash judgment of Castiel, but he isn't. And while he is disappointed that Dean has obviously erased every memory of the friendship they once shared, he's also strangely proud of the strong-willed and fierce man that Dean has become. And, embarrassingly, the prince's outburst has left him more than a little turned on.

 

 

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Two weeks to put his affairs in order is no time at all. And altogether too long a time to have to think. And far too long to have Sammy moping about with a face as pathetic as an abandoned puppy. His brother had taken the news hard. He wasn't the only one.

At first there had been celebrations when they returned to Winchester with news of the ceasefire, but the country's mood soon soured from unmitigated joy to horrified shock when details of the harsh terms were released. Dean's stoic facade and flippant dismissal of his fate have succeeded in calming most people's tempers. As has the cold practicality of the situation.

And, although a forced turning is seen as positively medieval, presenting as an omega in Winchester does not carry the same stigma as it does in Heaven. While they are still rare in number, omegas are treated as precious gifts rather than pets or slaves. Even male omegas (of which there are very few) are treated with respect. Omegas tend to be cosseted and protected by their parents and mates, but they have the same basic rights as everyone else. Betas, who make up the vast majority of the population can’t even usually tell the difference between alpha, beta and omega. Although, alphas and omegas can easily scent each other; nature's way of helping them find a mate no doubt. Most alphas are however more than happy mating beta's, they have to be considering the scarcity of omegas. Dean himself has spent many a fun night with cute beta girls. And with beta guys, and even the occasional alpha. Dean's a firm believer in equal opportunities in the bedroom.

Those days and nights are gone forever. The only position he'll have in the bedroom in future is underneath Prince Castiel. And while under other circumstances Dean would happily jump into bed with such a hot alpha, not having any choice in the matter dulls his interest substantially.

One day is all he has left before the ceremony begins. One final day and night of being a Winchester alpha.

Dean looks in his bathroom mirror and smiles. It looks as forced as it feels.

"Dean! Dean, come on. There'll be no breakfast left if we don't move our asses." Sammy knocks on the door just like any other day, any other morning chasing after his big brother.

Dean smiles at his reflection again, tries to persuade the green in his eyes to sparkle and his lips to curve up naturally. They don't fully co-operate. It'll have to do, he tells his mirror-self. Game face on. Time to face the day.

"Okay, okay, Sammy. I'm coming. I'm sure there'll still be plenty of muesli and soya milk left for you."

"Ha ha, Dean, and it's Sam, not Sammy." Sam knocks Dean's hand away half-heartedly when he ruffles his hair, his argument not quite as heartfelt as usual.

"You'll always be Sammy to me, little brother," Dean says shoving his feet into his boots. "Even when you're the king of Winchester, you'll still be chubby little Sammy, the kid that stole my gummybears and lied about it, even though he had one stuck up his nose."

"God, Dean." Sam groans. "You're never going to let me forget about that, are you?"

"Not a chance, Sammy. That's what big brothers are for; reminding you of the stupid shit you've done. And telling all your girlfriends about it." Dean grins, grabs his handgun from the drawer in his bedside table, checks it's loaded and the safety's on, then slips it into the holster on his belt. "You ready to go?"

Sammy's watching him from beside the door, his nose scrunching up like he's trying and failing not to pull his one of disgruntled bitch-faces. "Do you really need that, Dean?"

"What? My gun?" Dean shrugs. "I always carry my gun."

"To breakfast?" Sam asks doubtfully. "You're not at war anymore, Dean. You're at home; you're safe here."

Dean doesn't see what the big deal is. After the past eighteen months, carrying a gun has become second nature. He feels naked without it now. And it's not like he's wearing his thigh holster or carrying his ka-bar in his boot. "I know, Sammy, I know. But it's not that easy. The war might be over, but I'm still a soldier. I can't just give up a whole way of life that easily."

Sam flinches then looks down at the floor, shuffling his feet uneasily. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what he's thinking. But screw it, Dean's not an omega yet. He is still a soldier. And an alpha. And he doesn't answer to anybody. If he wants to carry a damn gun he will. Even to breakfast.

"Come on," Dean says, leaving the gun in the holster. "Let's go."

"Dean," Sam lifts his head, and Dean tries to ignore the way his brother's eyes shimmer too brightly beneath his messy bangs. "Are you okay? Really? I know you're putting this brave face on and pretending that you're fine, but-"

"I don't want to talk about it, Sam. Not now."

"When then? You've been acting like nothing's wrong. Like this isn't happening. Putting on a big show, pretending you don't care. It's all a lie, Dean. I know you're scared. I know because I am too. I'm scared about what's going to happen to you, about what I'm going to do without you. And about taking part in this whole horrible ceremony. I'm terrified, Dean and I need my big brother. I need you to talk to me!"

"I can't." Dean holds Sam gaze, tries to let everything he's feeling show in his face because god only knows he doesn't want to have find the words.

Sam just stares at him, chest heaving, waiting for Dean to say something. To open up. Spill his damn guts.

Dean wants to hit something, badly. Frustration twitches through his muscles, crackles below the surface of his skin. He knows Sammy is just trying to help, but the whole sharing and caring thing isn't Dean's M.O. He's doing his best not to think about this shit, he sure as hell doesn't want to talk about it.

"Dean?" Sam says, big-eyed and soft-voiced, all sincere understanding and compassion.

Dean snaps. "You're right, Sam. Okay? You're right. Yes, I'm pretending it isn't happening, that I don't care. Because you know what...if I don't, if I stop and think about this whole shitfest for longer than a minute, then I might just go back in that bathroom, pick up my razor blade and take the easy way out!"

As soon as he says the words, Dean wishes he could take them back. Especially when Sam's face crumples, and the tears that had been threatening spill from his eyes. Shit, he's only eighteen, just a kid. Dean's an ass; he shouldn't be laying this emo crap on his kid brother. He takes a deep breath, rolls his shoulders and forces himself to smile, hopies it doesn't look like a grimace. "I'm sorry Sammy. Come on, let's stow this crap until later. You know Ellen will toss our breakfast to the dogs if we're late, and heck knows, Bones is fat enough already."

"Dean," Sam says, a crack in his voice that Dean doesn't - can't - linger on.

"Really, Sam, not now, okay." Dean snatches his brother into a rough hug, clapping his back before pushing him away and punching him on the shoulder hard enough to make Sam grunt.

Sam follows him out of the room without a word. Dean can feel his eyes burning holes in the back of his head all the way down to the dining room. Knows for sure the pitying look that Sam has on his face. Knows it because it's the same expression he sees everywhere he goes right now.

Breakfast is a somber affair. His father is there, and sober. Both unusual occurrences these past two weeks. The king’s spent most of his free time drowning his guilt in the bottom of a whisky bottle and while Dean understands that, and has taken refuge there some nights himself, Sam is growing increasingly pissed off at his father's absence.

There’s only the three of them seated for breakfast and the atmosphere at the table is tense to say the least. There's a sour scent of dread underlying the forced smiles that even the dogs sniffing around their feet seem to sense. Jo serves them breakfast as soon as they sit down. Usually Dean would feel uncomfortable having his friend serve them, but it's her job, it earns her a living, and frankly he can't work up the energy to go to the kitchen himself. He does draw the line at Jo pouring the syrup on his pancakes for him, though. Shit, he knows things are bad when Jo is trying to coddle him. She's usually the one putting frog spawn in his eggs or tying his boot laces together.

King John tries to make light conversation. Something that's unusual enough to be disconcerting in itself. He rambles on about the new foal that's just been born out in the stables, the berries that Ellen has promised to make a pie with for dinner that night, even describes in detail the new car that Bobby's just bought, but between his inability to look Dean in the eye and the silent fuming that's emanating from Sam, Dean quickly loses his appetite. He pushes his food around his plate and stares at the clock on the wall. The second hand ticking like a bomb inside his head.

"I'm gonna go for a drive," he blurts out, pushing himself back from the table with a screech of wood across tile.

"I'll come," Sam says instantly around his mouthful of pancake, blueberry syrup dripping down his chin.

"No, it's fine, Sam. Finish you're breakfast."

"Take someone with you." John orders gruffly, looking at the door rather than Dean.

"Why? Are you scared I'm gonna run off?" Dean lashes out, his patience fraying. "Chicken out before you all get the chance to bend me over and fuck me."

There a crash and a bitten off curse as Jo drops the coffee pot she's holding. Sam inhales sharply almost choking on his pancake and John's face blanches.

"No, Dean," John gasps, finally looking straight at him. But when Dean sees his father's desperate eyes, dark like pits in his face, and the deep lines etched into his skin, sees how much he's aged in the past few days, he wishes he hadn't. "I'll...if you want...I'll call it off. It's not too late, we can-"

Dean shakes his head, feels like a selfish asshole again. That was unfair. Everyone's suffering not just Dean. He's not the only one whose future has been ripped out from under him. "I'm sorry, sir. That was uncalled for. I'm fine. I just need some time on my own. I won't go far."

Dean walks away before anyone has the chance to answer. Out the door, through the hallways, down the stairs, straight through the kitchens, and out the back door and across to the garages. He doesn't stop for anyone, not even his Uncle Bobby when he almost trips over the man walking in the door. "Dean!" Bobby calls after him, chasing him for a few steps. "Dean, shit boy, hold your horses, what's wrong? Dean!"

Dean shakes his head and quickens his pace. He just wants a little time on his own without anyone staring at him. He doesn't think that's too much to ask for.

Snatching the Impala's keys, Dean almost cries in relief when he finally climbs into the driving seat and slams the door behind him. "Sorry, baby," he mumbles as he starts the engine. "Didn't mean to take it out on you."

Flipping on the stereo, he turns the volume up without even noticing what tape is playing. He drives out the garage, ignores Benny trying to flag him down and little Ben's wide eyed stare as the Impala roars past. He barely slows down long enough for the guards at the gate to let him pass, and then it's just him, his baby and the open road. Cracking the window open so he can feel the breeze against his skin, Dean puts his foot down and drives.

He drives for over an hour, nowhere in particular, just picks a direction and sticks with it.

He drives until the screaming in his head is replaced by the pounding rhythm of Metallica blasting through the stereo, and his heart is beating in time with the thrum of the engine. When he eventually stops, he's in the back of beyond surrounded by fields of berries. He pulls off onto a dirt track that probably leads nowhere and switches off the engine, the sudden silence deafening.

He stares unseeing out of his windshield at the sunlight streaming down onto the fields. His muscles feel heavy, and a tight band of pressure is wrapped around his chest squeezing the air from his lungs. He leans his head back and closes his eyes. Dean's tired. Tired of being strong. Tired of pretending that he doesn't give a shit. Tired of trying and failing to live up to expectations; his and everyone else's. Why does he have to be the one to lose everything? Why does he have to make all the sacrifices? He's only twenty two years old for fucks sake! He's given enough. He's seen his mother die, and his father almost go insane from grief. He left behind his brother and his comfortable life, picked up arms and fought for his country. He's killed and watched his friends die. Isn't that enough to ask of anyone?

The gun tucked next to his side is a familiar comforting weight. An old friend. Maybe his salvation. Giving into temptation, Dean slides the colt from his holster, checks it's loaded even though he knows for sure it is, and cradles it in his hand.

The sweet smell of strawberries seeps in through the car’s open window. Reminds Dean vividly of his mother’s shampoo.

Dean twists the pistol in his palm, strokes his finger over the engraved handle, down the cold iron barrel.

He remembers his mother sitting on his bed at night, curling her arm around his shoulder, her voice a melodic lullaby as she read him bedtime stories. Stories about magic and family, and true love. Love. Dean will never know love now. His future holds nothing but fear and pain and humiliation.

He lifts up the gun, aims the barrel towards himself.

His mother’s face wavers behind his eyes. Her golden hair damp with sweat, her skin flushed with fever from the inected wound in her belly.

He firms his grip on the handle of the gun, raises it level with his chest.

He remembers the last time his mother kissed him on the cheek. The way her breath rattled in her chest and her fingers lay ice cold and limp in his hand.

He tilts the colt up, pushes the end of the barrel into the soft flesh under his jaw.

He remembers the last words his mom whispered in his ear, the last promise that he made her; be brave, look after Sammy.

His finger flexes on the trigger.

Sam.

It would be so easy to escape his fate. Just a little more pressure on the trigger, and he'd be free.

Sammy.

Tears slip down Dean's cheeks as he slowly lowers the gun, his hand trembling.

Protect Sammy, he says to himself, repeats it like a mantra. If he takes the easy way out, who's to say they won't force Sammy to take his place? With renewed determination, and trembling hands, he holsters the gun, takes a deep breath and scrubs his arm across his face. Man up, he tells himself. Do your duty. For your country. For your father. For your brother. For Sammy. Dean would walk through the fires of damnation to protect Sammy. He's got this.

 


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Dean's calm when he arrives back at the castle. Resigned. He pats the Impala goodbye, silently thanks her for looking after him, then walks away without looking back.

He spends the rest of the day with Sammy, whom he finds sitting cross legged on the floor of Dean's room looking through old photo albums. Ignoring the redness of his brothers eyes, Dean plunks himself down on the floor beside him, throws his arm around his shoulder and starts talking. They talk about everything...nearly everything....their mom, Sammy’s girlfriend, the fights they had when they were kids, the practical jokes they played on Jo, the day their mom kicked their dad out of the door, crown and all. Dean manages to tease some smiles from his brother, even a small laugh or two.

They don't venture out of Dean's room, resolutely ignoring the arrival of guests filling up the castle. Jo, with an unusually timid knock on the door, brings them snacks in the afternoon. They persuade her to stick around while they eat, laughing as they tease her about her and Charlie's steamy romance.

Later, they have dinner in Dean's room. To their great surprise, their dad arrives with trays laden with burgers and fries, pie for dessert and three bottles of beer. Dean couldn't have asked for a better last meal. Even if he can't force down more than half of it.

If Sam could stay the night with Dean he would. Dean won't let him though. No matter how much Sam pouts. There's little chance Dean will actually sleep and he doesn't want to keep Sammy up all night. He kicks him out along with his father before midnight.

"Dean," his father says, holding him at arms lengths. "I'm sorry. This is....it's so damn wrong....I wish there was another way.

"I volunteered, Sir." Dean reminds him stubbornly. "I volunteered and I don't regret it."

Tears swim in his dad's dark eyes, and Dean struggles to remember the last time he saw his dad cry. If he ever has. Even at his moms’ funeral, he stood rigid and stoical, face set like stone, and war in his eyes. "What has to happen...what I have to do..." John swallows, his voice thick with words that won't come. He shakes his head. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Dean can't watch his father struggle any longer, he pulls him into a hug. "It's okay, I know."

"I love you, Dean." John says in his ear, rubbing circles on Dean's back like he did when Dean was a little kid. "I'm proud of you. Proud to call you my son. And I always will be."

"I love you, too, Dad." Dean whispers, trying to hold back the emotion bubbling up in his chest, grabbing on too tight to his father for just a few seconds.

Saying goodnight to Sam is even worse. Dean can barely speak. Tears stream down Sam's face, snot bubbling at his nose, his hands fisting in Dean's shirt and his shoulders shaking. They hold onto each other until John claps Dean on the shoulder, and nudges him to let go. Sam leans into his father as he leads him away, and Dean tells himself that it's good that Sam is letting John take care of him. That they have each other. That they don't need Dean.

He putters around his room when they leave, unable to settle, and knowing that sleep is still far off. Drowning himself in a bottle of whisky is probably a bad idea, but it's one that's hard to resist. He's gone as far as pouring himself a modest glassful and taking a sip when there's a knock at his door. Presuming that it's Sam sneaking back, he hides the glass to prevent any bitching, and opens the door, only to be stunned speechless to find Crowley standing in the hallway.

"Hello, Dean, my boy."

"What? You....what?"

"Nice to see you're just as eloquent and articulate as usual." Crowley smirks, pushing his way past Dean.

"How the fuck did you get up here? What the fuck do you want, you piece of shit?" Dean seethes as Crowley prowls round the room like he belongs there.

"That's not very friendly, Dean."

"Yeah, well, you're not my friend." Dean crosses his arms over his chest, scowling even more when Crowley finds his whisky glass hidden behind a book, steals a long sip, looking at Dean over the rim of the glass as he does it, a challenge in his eyes.

"What do you want, Crowley? Not fucked me over enough? Come to gloat? What?"

"Dean, Dean, Dean, you've got me all wrong, my boy."

"Yeah?" Dean raises an eyebrow in disbelief. "How do you figure that? The way I remember it you're the one that sold my ass to Heaven's royal douchebags."

"No, I'm the one that saved your ass. Well-" Crowley leers, eyes wandering down towards Dean's crotch. "Okay, maybe not your ass, but I most definitely saved your life. Zach and Chuckie were all for watching you hung, drawn and quartered. If it hadn't been for me, you'd be swinging from the gallows right now."

"You ever stop to think that I might have preferred that to being fucked six ways to Sunday by my family in front of a goddam audience."

"And what good would have come from that, Dean?" Crowley stalks across the room, and even though he's a good four inches shorter that Dean, there's a purpose and menace in his stride that has Dean unwittingly taking a step backwards. "You don't think that would have broken your father? Set your brother on a path for revenge? You think there could ever be a real chance for peace when the people of Winchester had watched their favorite son slaughtered by Heaven? Come on, Deano; I know you have a brain in their somewhere, use it."

Dean ducks, slapping Crowley's hand away when he pokes at Dean's forehead. "Look at the whole picture. Think it through."

Crowley sighs in obvious exasperation when Dean just stares darkly at him.

"This is your chance, Dean. Your chance to change things for ever. Upset the status quo. Free the oppressed. Be a big damn hero."

"I have absolutely no idea what the fuck you are talking about."

"Oh for....really? Really? Obviously it was too much to ask that you were more than just a pretty face. Listen carefully, darling and I'll explain in simple words. You're going to be in a unique position. A prince of Winchester, son of the king, brother of the future king and one day you will rule heaven with your husband, Castiel."

"No," Dean is quick to correct him.”One day I'll be an omega husband, owned by the king of Heaven"

Crowley rolls his eyes. "Did you not examine the details we hammered out? Or even listen when your Uncle added stipulations to ensure your safety? You may be an omega in a Heaven, but you'll be an omega with rights. With full rights befitting your position. You'll be an omega with a voice and at least a little power. In Heaven, that's a unique situation."

"Yeah, so?"

"So? So don't you think you might be able to do some good? Change-"

"Listen up, Crowley. All I care about right now is getting through the next week. I'm sacrificing myself to put an end to one war; what do you want me to do, start another one?"

"Dean, you and Castiel can change everything. Change the way-"

"Me and Castiel," Dean scoffs. "I barely even know the man. Not anymore. And honestly, I don't want to. If he's turned out anything like his father-"

"He isn't. He's nothing like that crazy old fool. Maybe you should get to know him. You're going to marry the man; don't you think your life would be easier if the two of you were on the same side?"

"We're not though are we? And we never will be, not really. Not when I'm going to be nothing more than the Winchester omega slut he won as a war prize."

"And the father to the future heirs of Heaven."

Dean has been trying hard not to think about that. It's not that he doesn't want kids, but he certainly never imagined bearing them himself. He stomach lurches uneasily at the idea. "I'll be lucky if I ever see the kids he knocks me up with."

"You really need to look at the contracts we drew up. It's just as well that Lord Singer has more brain cells than you and your father put together. He's a man that knows how to bargain. You need to stop wallowing in self-pity and see the opportunities that have been laid at your feet."

Dean has had enough of Crowley's supercilious lectures for one night. For ever actually. "And you need to get the fuck out of here before I spend my last night as an alpha kicking your ass."

"Fine," Crowley says. "But think about what I said. This is an important time for the kingdoms of Heaven, Hell and Winchester. There's more riding on this union than just your perky ass."

"Yeah, yeah," Dean says ushering his uninvited guest toward the door. "What do you care anyway?"

"Maybe I care about all the abused omegas out there. The ones that don't have any say in their life, or anyone that cares about what happens to them. Maybe I just want to see the injustices in the world rectified."

Somehow Dean doubts that. As far as he knows, Crowley only cares about two things; power and money. Maybe three things; power, money and the size of his dick. Dean's heard rumors that the man paid a fools ransom to have his knot surgically enhanced.

"Or maybe you're full of shit." Dean opens his door, and glares at Crowley as he saunters past, pausing to look Dean up and down. "You know darling, this is your last night as an alpha. If you wanted I could stay a while. Have a little alpha on alpha fun, I could maybe even-"

Dean slams the door in Crowley’s face before he can finish whatever creepy thing he was about to say. That was not even a remotely tempting offer.

He jumps in the shower shortly after Crowley leaves, feeling a compulsion to wash off the grimy coating he gained standing so close to the man. He does mull over what Crowley said - not the sleeping together part, that's just nasty - and, although he can see what Crowley was getting at, Dean, doesn't understand why he would care. And, no matter what is agreed on paper, Dean doubts that Prince Castiel is going treat him as anything other than a breeding bitch.



Not two minutes after Dean finishes showering, another knock sounds against his door. Still naked, Dean throws on his robe and steels himself for another round with Crowley. Standing on the other side of the door this time however are two people he did not expect to see.

"Jo! Charlie?"

"Hey, Dean. Can we come in? Please?" Jo is holding Charlie's hand, the pair of them looking down the hallway nervously. Dean wonders if there are any guards on duty in the palace tonight. They don't seem to be doing a very good job if there are.

"Sure," Dean steps to the side and ushers them in. "What are you two doing here?"

"We just wanted to...oh Dean," Jo's lip begins to tremble. Charles squeezes her hand and takes over. "We wondered if you wanted company, Prince Dean."

"Charlie,” Dean interrupts her. “How many times do I have to tell you, it's just Dean." Charlie's worked in the palace office for the past three years. She's been friends with Jo for most of them, and therefore friends with Dean. She introduced him to the Star Wars books for god’s sake.

"Dean," Charlie smiles shyly. "Before the ceremony begins tomorrow, we thought you might enjoy one last...one last....one last evening of....well....company. I mean we thought we could-" Charlie's face is bright red. Dean's never seen her look so flustered. She's not a flustered type of girl.

"Wethoughtwecouldhavesexwithyou." Jo says in one long rush of breath.

It takes a minute for Dean to decipher what she said, and another minute to fully comprehend. "You what?" He laughs, because this has to be a joke.

"We thought you might want to spend the night with a couple of beta girls before you....before you..." Jo chokes on the words and Charlie takes over again. Dean is growing dizzy watching them.

"Before you are betrothed to Prince Castiel." Charlie finishes for her diplomatically. "You're our friend, Dean; we care about you a great deal. We don't want you to spend the night alone."

"Guys, while I appreciate the offer-" Dean starts to say, but Jo cuts him off.

"We'll do whatever you want. You can knot Charlie or me, or watch us together or-"

Now as red-faced as both the girls, Dean interrupts quickly before one of them does something stupid like stop talking and start stripping. "Jo, hold on, hold on. Neither of you are into me. Or even into men. Why the heck would you do this?"

Jo looks up at him with watery eyes. "Because we love you. And you deserve....well you don't deserve this and we just - we wanted to do something...anything… for you."

Dean sighs in understanding. What they're suggesting is sweet in a supremely awkward kind of way. But still - no. Very much no. "Jo, you know I love you. You're like a little sister to me. You too, Charlie, and that's why I can't do this. You love each other. You don't want to sleep with me."

"We want to make you happy," Jo whines.

"Having sex with me when you don't really want to won't make me happy." Dean says plainly. He would never ever want anyone, especially his friends, to have sex with him because they thought it was the right thing to do. Sex should be about love, or at least lust, not duty.

"But, Dean-"

"No, Jo." Dean snaps, immediately feeling like an ass when he sees the flare of hurt in Jo's eyes. He softens his voice and quirks his mouth in a smirk. "I couldn't anyway. How can I sleep with a girl who used to have a crush on Sammy."

"When I was a kid, you jerk." Jo punches Dean's chest. Dean retaliates by flicking the end of her nose, which obviously results in her kicking him in the shin. Dean grins at the familiar stupidity of it all, licks his finger and sticks it in her ear, knowing it'll make her squeal.

"Are you sure, Dean?" Charlie says, stoically ignoring the childish tit for tat taking place between her girlfriend and the prince of Winchester, even as Jo squawks like a disgruntled chicken when Dean ruffles her hair in retaliation for her pinching his arm. "We wouldn't be here if we didn't want to do this." Charlie regains the hold she had of her girlfriend's hand just in time to stop her from doing Dean a serious injury. Jo resorts to sticking her tongue out.

For the first time all night, all day, Dean laughs, a real belly laugh. "I'm sure. It would be like sleeping with my sisters. My annoying little bratty sisters."

"How about some company then," Charlie offers. "Just company, so you don’t have to spend the night alone."

The idea is tempting. The thought of not having to endure the long night ahead on his own more than a little appealing. But, "No, I'll be fine," he refuses automatically.

Jo takes one look at his face, reads him like a picture book, and jumps on his sofa, the stubborn jut of her chin making it clear she won't be easily moved. Charlie hesitates for a second, but follows her girlfriend's example, sitting on the opposite side of the sofa, her legs folding up underneath her. They both stare at Dean expectantly. "Can I at least put on some clothes?" Dean huffs.

And that's where Dean spends the night; on his couch, tucked in between two gorgeous girls. One curled against him, her blonde hair spilling across his lap when she falls asleep, the other pressed against his side, sliding her hand in his and reciting age old fairy tales that he hasn't heard since he was a child. It's not the way he expected to spend the night. But, for once he allows himself to take comfort from his friends. It's not the Winchester way to do things, but - what the heck - he isn't going to be a Winchester for much longer.

 


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Castiel hadn't expected to receive a particular effusive welcome in Winchester, not considering the circumstances, but he didn't expect to have his car pelted with rotten vegetables either, or stinking piles of...well...honestly he doesn't want to dwell on what else was smeared across the car's once gleaming paintwork by the time their convoy arrived at Castle Winchester.

The Winchester's servants haven't exactly rolled out the welcome mat either. Coldly polite is the kindest way Castiel could describe his treatment. Mostly. One feisty blonde-haired maid spat at his feet as she passed him in the hallway, and a young boy appeared from nowhere before stomping on Castiel's toes and running away like a bat out of damnation before anyone could stop him. Castiel can't find it in his heart to blame them. He is, however, decidedly relieved that his father insisted on bringing his personal chef along with them. His father was worried about the threat of poisoning, accidental or deliberate, but Castiel thinks the addition of foreign bodily fluids to their food is a far more realistic threat.

They arrived at the castle last night as arranged, just before the first day of the ritual - Castiel, his father, Zachariah, and a handful of their best warriors for security. The rest of the guests from Heaven are staying at hotels in the nearby city of Lawrence. After Castiel's journey through the city, he wishes them luck.

Their apartments in the castle are comfortable if not as lavish as the guest rooms they have back home. In fact the whole castle is far less opulent than any of the Royal palaces in Heaven. The Palace of Eden, where the King resides and his court is centred, has polished marble floors, walls laden with ancient tapestries and gold-framed works of art. Intricate carvings and elaborate paintings adorn the ceilings, and the public galleries and ballrooms are stuffed with priceless sculptures and antiques. The palace is unquestionably beautiful, but Castiel thinks that Castle Winchester with its deep-pile carpets, and richly colored walls feels much warmer, friendlier. Far more like a home than a sterile museum. He can easily imagine a much younger Dean and Sam sliding down the wooden banisters and hiding behind the long velvet drapes. He'd like to think they did anyway.

Castiel quickly pushes away the converse thoughts of his own strict childhood. Shaking his head free of the unhappy memories of his lonely teenage years, he bolsters himself with the knowledge that the guest quarters are at least generous enough to allow him his own suite, which means he can escape the insufferable company of Zachariah. The man is a supercilious snake. Why he has the ear of the king is something that Castiel simply cannot fathom. If it hadn't been for Zachariah convincing the king to refuse to hand over Raphael when King John had presented him with proof of Raphael's guilt in the murder of Queen Mary, then the whole costly war would have been avoided. And Castiel would not be in the position of marrying someone who hates him. But he is, and there is not much he can do about it right now.

He takes breakfast - hand-delivered by his father's chef - alone in his room, preparing himself for what the day, and evening ahead will bring. Although the festivities, and Castiel grimaces at the inappropriateness of that word, will take place at night, there are certain formalities - another grimace - that have to be dealt with beforehand.

Despite his distaste for what is about to happen, Castiel has no choice but to witness the proceedings. It's his duty; to his country and his future husband.

At precisely five minutes to ten, a rap on his door signals that it's time to start the long process of cementing peace, becoming a husband - and sacrificing an alpha prince. No matter how much Castiel tells himself that it's all for the good of his country, he can't convince himself that this isn't all terribly wrong. It's with a heavy heart he takes the first step of the journey.

King Charles and Zachariah hold no such reservations. Ignoring the tension filled air in the hallways of the castle, and the obvious hostility of the Winchester guards and staff, the pair of them are disgustingly cheerful as they are shown to their destination.

The medical room they are shown into is bright with overhead lights. A bank of cupboards lines one wall along with a large steel sink. The floor is clinically clean stark white tile which dips down a little in the center to a small drain. The sole bed takes up prime position. It's large, heavy duty metal and covered in a white paper sheet. A multitude of leather straps hang down from the sides and the bottom half of the bed is designed to split in two and be adjustable, more like stirrups. Like a gynecological chair, Castiel imagines.

Crowley is already there when they arrive, along with Doctor Alastair. He's supposedly strictly neutral, from the land of Hell along with Crowley, but Castiel knows that Zachariah had a hand in selecting him. There's something about the doctor that unnerves Castiel. Maybe it's his long bony fingers, or the gauntness of his face underneath his scraggly beard, more likely it's the hint of cruelty that Castiel swears he can see in the man's pale eyes. Accompanying Crowley and the doctor is a female nurse, her dark hair tied back and a clipboard and pencil in her hands.

On the dot of ten, Prince Dean steps into the room. He's accompanied by a solitary soldier. If Castiel is not mistaken, it's the same one who jumped in between Castiel and Dean on the day of the treaty negotiations. Castiel is surprised when Dean turns to the man and has a hushed but vociferous conversation that leads to the man grudgingly leaving.

"Okay," Prince Dean says, when he turns back to face the room, a smirk painted across his face. "Let's get this party started, shall we?"

"You don't want anyone from Winchester to stand by you?" Crowley asks.

Dean folds his arms across his chest, the black t-shirt he's wearing tightening across his biceps. "No, I don't. You really think I want anyone that's gives a crap about me to watch this?"

Castiel shifts uncomfortably at that. He'd like to tell Dean that he gives a...cares about him, but it's unlikely that Dean would believe him. "Are you sure?" Castiel says instead. "Not even a guard, or perhaps your-"

"I said no," Prince Dean cuts him off with a sharp look. "Let's just get this over with."

"Certainly." The doctor steps forward, smiling broadly. "If you could get undressed then we can begin."

Dean looks around the room, his attention Iingering on Zachariah and King Charles. "Is it absolutely necessary to have Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum here?"

"Watch your tone, boy," Zachariah snarls. "And yes, we want to make sure we aren't getting cheated with a dud Alpha."

"This has already been agreed, I'm afraid," Crowley says to Dean, his tone rather more reserved than Zachariah's. "It was also agreed that you could have someone of your own to stand by you through the....procedure."

"I already said no," Dean says, bending down to unlace the black boots he's wearing. He strips himself efficiently; boots, socks, black combat trousers and t-shirt, until he's left standing in a plain black pair of boxer briefs. He is a stunning looking man, with broad shoulders and battle-hardened muscles. The coarse hair on his chest is the same light chestnut color as on his head, as is the trail of fine hairs that leads down towards his crotch. Castiel tries not to stare at the toned ripple of his abs or the defined cut of his thighs. It's not easy.

"The underwear too, if you please." Doctor Alastair says.

Staring straight ahead, like a soldier on parade, Dean does as he's asked.

Castiel's determination not to stare is shattered at the sight of Dean naked; the prince is gorgeous. His ass, the way his spine curves down to his full ripe cheeks, he's beautiful. Perfect. And despite his distaste for this whole debacle, Castiel's dick stirs in his pants, desire slamming into him, unexpected and sudden.

"Mmm, let's get started then shall we?" The doctor says walking round Dean in a predatory circle. "My nurse, Meg will assist me in recording my findings if that is acceptable to everyone?" When there are no objections, apart from a blink and you'd miss it narrowing of Dean's eyes, the doctor continues. He takes some routine observations while Dean stands naked in full view of everyone. Castiel imagines that underneath his mask of indifference, the prince must be furious. There is no need strip naked in order to have your blood pressure, heart rate, eyes, ears and reflexes checked. But the only sign that suggests Dean is uncomfortable is the erratic twitch of his jaw.

Castiel's own temper begins to fray at the way that doctor takes every opportunity to trail his fingers overs Dean's skin, but he has no right to interfere here, no right to object.

"Mm, perfect, Prince Dean. You are a perfect specimen of an alpha...for now. Let's get you on the table shall we?" Alastair nudges Dean towards the table, his smile curdling when Dean shakes his hand off of his forearm.

The paper rustles and rucks up below him as Dean climbs on to the bed. Doctor Alastair uses it as an excuse to manhandle Dean into position, smoothing the paper out below him. But when he attempts to fasten the first restraint around Prince Dean's wrist, Dean jackknifes upright, the first hint of panic in his face. "What the fuck are you doing?"

"Calm down, Prince Dean," The doctor says coolly, his fingers splayed out against Dean's chest pushing him back down on the bed. "This is routine. We wouldn't want you to hurt yourself during the procedure now would we?"

"I don't need tied down," Dean argues.

"Is it really necessary?" Castiel adds, ignoring the scowls he receives from his father and Zachariah. "Prince Dean is here voluntarily, he's going through enough without being treated like a...a criminal."

"I'm the doctor here," Doctor Alastair says coldly. "I know what I'm doing. Now unless you want to distract me further, I suggest you both calm down and allow me to do my job. I don't believe you want my concentration to lapse, or my hand to slip."

There's a thinly veiled threat in the undercurrent of his tone that has both Castiel and Dean backing down. Dean's muscles flex and strain as Alastair takes his time securing the restraints around his wrists, ankles, thighs and across his chest and hips too, leaving the prince completely at his mercy. Zachariah and King Charles watch the prince's confinement with undisguised glee. Zachariah in particular has such a smug expression on his face that Castiel is embarrassed to be even remotely associated with the man. Crowley observes the whole thing with a carefully blank face. Neutrality personified.

Doctor Alastair rolls a metal tray across to the side of the bed, its small rubber wheels squealing on the floor. He lifts a pair of white surgical gloves and snaps them on, nodding at his nurse who steps a little closer, her pencil poised to write. "The subject is a twenty-one year old male. We are here to verify he is pure alpha before his public bitching." The doctor speaks clearly so as the nurse and everyone else in the room can hear him. Castiel wants to complain about the use of the word ‘subject’ to describe a royal prince. It doesn't seem respectful, but he doesn't think it would be wise to antagonize the doctor while he holds so much power over Prince Dean. He's not fond of the term bitching either actually.

Castiel listens while the doctor impassively lists the prince's measurements and general state of health. Picking up a tape measure from the tray, he measures the length and circumference of Dean's penis, soft knot and testicles, reciting the precise measurements out loud. Dean closes his eyes and pretends to be elsewhere. Castiel tries not to stare at his future husband's thick cock and wonder how much it will shrink when he is fully turned.

Alastair trails his fingers across Dean's chest, over his nipples, plucking at them until they pucker. "The subject does not appear to have particularly sensitive nipples; a typical response for alphas." He picks a small metal butterfly clamp up from the tray and attaches it to Dean's pebbled nipple. Dean lets out a pained breath and Castiel's hands clench at his sides. The doctor picks up another clamp and does the same thing to the other nipple. Dean bites down on his bottom lip, sealing off any sounds of distress.

"Clamping the nipples produces a pain response rather than pleasure. There's no sign of arousal in the subject's flaccid penis." Alastair turns to Meg. "This will change of course. Omegas enjoy having their nipples toyed with and even a significant amount of pain can increases their sexual drive."

Meg nods as though this is a normal teaching moment. Castiel gapes at the pair of them.

Dean grunts when the doctor releases both the clamps at once, and Castiel winces in sympathy. Uncaring, the doctor carries on his exploration of Dean's body, describing in detail the old scars that he finds. The healed bullet wounds are a clear reminder that Dean was a soldier. One who fought bravely and lead from the front. And now he is reduced to this.

When the doctor has finished examining Dean's torso, he adjusts the bed so that Dean's legs are separated and raised. His backside almost hanging off the bottom of the table; his penis, balls and backside completely exposed. The prince's face is flushed with either anger or embarrassment, quite possibly a mixture of the two. Castiel feels his own face heat in sympathy.

"Now, as made obvious by the measurements recorded earlier, the subject has healthy alpha sized genitals. At the moment. His anus appears to be un-breached, or certainly not well used for sexual gratification. Let's see."

Without any warning, or lubrication, the doctor prods his gloved finger straight inside the prince's hole. The prince yells out in pain, unprepared for the sudden invasion.

"Son of a bitch," Dean pants, glaring at the doctor. "You bastard,-"

"If you cannot stay quiet I will gag you, Dean. I can't have you disrupting my examination." The doctor says coolly, picking up what appears to be a palm sized rubber ball with straps attached.

"Fuck you," Dean snarls, which even Castiel knows was not the wisest response. Doctor Alastair bares his teeth in a shark-like grin.

"The subject has become uncooperative and abusive, so I am going to gag him for his own safety."

"You're just a sick bastard, let me the fuck up. This isn't supposed to-"

Dean's words are cut off as the doctor shoves the ball into his mouth and ties the straps around his head, yanking them as tight as they will go. It all happens so quickly that Castiel has no time to react. Not that he's sure how to. But this feels more like witnessing a sexual assault that a medical exam.

Dean is breathing hard behind the gag, his nostrils flaring. Doctor Alastair stares down at him then traces his finger across the stretch of Dean's lips.

"I don't think," Castiel steps forward, his anger at the treatment of the prince too great to ignore any longer. "I don't think this is appropriate. Prince Dean-"

"Are you a doctor, Prince Castiel?" Alastair snaps his head toward Castiel. "Are you?"

"Well, no, but I-"

The doctor doesn't let him finish. "Then perhaps you should be a good little prince and stay quiet. You are here as a witness, nothing more."

Castiel tries again, unwilling to let the argument be lost so easily. "Prince Dean-"

Again the doctor does not give him an opportunity to speak. "Prince Dean, I'm sure would like to get this over and done with. If you are so worried about the prince's discomfort maybe I should send for young prince Samuel. I’m sure that having his little brother here to stand witness, maybe hold his hand, would help calm the prince."

Immediately Dean starts yelling, the sound muffled and distorted through the gag, but his distress obvious. He twists his head and catches Castiel's eye. The desperation in his green eyes shouting out like a distress flare. Castiel dips his head in defeat and allows his father to tug him back in line. Dean's head flops back on the bed, the fight and desperation leaving him, resignation setting in.

"If we're all quite finished, perhaps I can finish my exam." The doctor says, looking directly at Castiel, a sick smile on his face."

"Now where was I? Oh yes." The doctor shoves his finger back in Dean's hole, ignoring the way Dean bucks in his restraints. "Yes, his anus is clamped tight, and obviously not penetrated regularly during intercourse."

The doctor retracts his finger and makes a show of peeling off his glove and replacing it with a clean one; the snap of latex loud in the otherwise silent room. He snips the cap off a small bottle and pours a syrupy liquid into his palm.

"Now I'll check his sexual responses, ascertain the functionality of his penis and knot." Saying that, the doctor smoothes the liquid over Dean's genitals and slowly but firmly starts to masturbate the prince with one hand, while massaging the liquid into his balls with the other.

Castiel can't help but stare as Dean's dick slowly starts to thicken under Alastair's ministrations. Beside him, he can hear Zachariah's breath quicken and feel him shifting trying to get a better view.

"There we are." Alastair says, "It has taken longer than it should to achieve a full erection for an alpha of the subject’s age, but I'll be kind and put that down to the stressful circumstances rather than suggest he is defective in any way."

The doctor keeps one hand on Dean's dick, his fingers curled around the width of it, stroking firmly, while he grabs the tape measure from the tray. He only stops working Dean's dick long enough to measure the dimensions of his erection and record them, before starting back up again.

"The prince's erection is perfectly average sized for an alpha, somewhat bigger than a beta and decidedly larger than an omega. His balls are rather bigger than average, but nothing that can't be rectified."

The doctor twists his hand and slips his thumb over the slit in the end of Dean's cock, spreading the milky white drips that are beginning to appear out and over the flushed head. "There is some pre-ejaculate leaking out. Again normal."

Relentlessly jacking Dean off, he slips a finger down behind his balls and presses it against his hole, pushing his fingertip inside. "Good, there's no sign of slick. In a bitch, sorry... an omega, there would be a steady production of slick with this high state of arousal."

Removing his finger, he takes Dean's balls into his hand and fondles them gently while speeding up the movement of his fist around Dean's cock. "The subject's balls are now very full and heavy. If I had to hazard a guess I would say that the prince hasn't had a satisfying release for some time, possibly a couple of weeks."

The doctor lowers his voice and dips his mouth close to Dean's ear. Castiel strains to hear what he's saying. "Is that right Deano? You been saving yourself. Looking forward to being bitched so much that you stopped pretending to be an alpha. Or maybe you couldn't get it up for any of the pretty betas that throw themselves at you. How does it feel to know that is the last time you'll grow a knot? The last time your balls will fill with fertile spunk."

Zachariah must sense that Castiel is about to intervene again because he yanks him back and hisses in his ear. "Keep your mouth shut. The slut will be yours soon enough."

Castiel shrugs Zachariah's hand off his elbow. "He's a royal prince and a good and righteous man. This is entirely inappropriate and needlessly cruel."

"It's nothing less than the Winchester filth deserves."

Castiel is shocked at the vehemence in Zachariah's voice. "Prince Dean deserves to be treated with respect and-"

"Oh, shut up, you spineless brat." Zachariah sneers. "If you don't have the guts for this then run off and play and let us men enjoy the show."

"Castiel, don't make a scene." King Charles hisses sharply, silencing Castiel's heated retort and leaving him no real choice but to back down. Across the room Crowley is staring at him, his eyebrow quirked up at Castiel's concern. He doesn't seem inclined to interfere however.

Alastair is still jacking Dean off. Dragging his latex covered fingers up and down his cock, caressing his balls until they are firm and drawn up. The base of Dean's cock starting to swell. His knot forming.

"Ah yes, here we go; the subject is nearing his orgasm. His testicles are drawing up tight, his knot is starting to swell. Obviously his body is unaware that it is not copulating with a fertile partner, so the knot will grow until the subject ejaculates."

Dean's eyes are screwed shut, his chest fluttering as he snatches shallow breaths through his nose. The muscles in his belly shudder as his orgasm starts to wash over him. Besides Castiel, Zachariah is breathing hard, his hand creeping down towards his crotch, where his dick is tenting his pants. Castiel feels sick at the sight of him.

"Come on, Prince Dean, don't be shy." Even though the doctor uses Dean's title, he still somehow manages to make it sound like an insult. "Come for us. Let us see that big knot of yours." Lowering his voice again, Alastair whispers slick and cruel in Dean's ear while he pumps his hand up and down Dean's blood filled erection. Castiel stands stiffly, wrongness skittering down his back like an ice-flow.

Alastair's words grows a little louder as his hand speeds up on Dean's dick, his voice creeping higher in excitement. Eventually he's talking loud enough that if Castiel strains he can pick up most of what he's saying.

"This is it, Dean, last time you'll ever come like a real man. Last time you'll grow a knot. You're gonna come in my hand like a good little bitch aren't you. Next time you come it'll be with a knot breaking your ass open. Do you think you'll come with your daddy's knot in your ass, or your little brother’s? Maybe your cousin Lord Benjamin. I bet his knot is huge. Have you seen it, Dean? Did he already fuck you on one of those cold nights out on the front line? Is that why you volunteered to do this? Did you already know that you loved a big strong alpha shoving his knot in your hole, wishing he could breed you up?"

With a muffled cry and frantic shake of his head, Dean comes. Spunk erupts from his cock, splattering across his stomach as well as Alastair’s hand.

Alastair clamps his fingers around Dean's knot and squeezes hard enough to turn the dark skin pale. Dean's cry turns into a guttural scream as Alastair ruthlessly tortures the sensitive flesh. Picking up a syringe from the tray, the doctor callously sticks the needle into Dean's knot and injects it with a clear liquid. Dean's screams climb in pitch and volume; the gag barely doing anything to dull the agonized cry. His head is thrown back as far as possible, his throat a taut curve. Alastair doesn't hesitate though, he throws the emptied syringe on the tray and grabs another one containing a dark red fluid and rams it into one of Dean's testicles, pushing the drug in sharply. Helpfully, Meg picks the last syringe from the tray and hands it to the doctor, smiling in satisfaction as Alastair injects the full vial into Dean's other ball.

Dean's scream turns inhuman, like an animal caught in a barbed trap. His hands clench in white knuckled fists in his restraints, his toes scrunched up tight against cold steel, every muscle in his body is wired tight and ready to snap. Eventually, long seconds that feel like hours later, when Castiel's nerves are threadbare, his inaction burning like acid in his belly, Dean's screams die away, but his face is left contorted in a pained grimace and his chest is heaving.

"Come now, Prince Dean, don't make such a fuss. It's just a couple of little injections." Alastair drops the last syringe on the tray and examines Dean's now shriveled testicles. He looks at Zachariah and the king as he carelessly handles Dean's balls. "Now I've given the subject a couple of doses of hormone suppressor along with a cocktail of alpha semen and omega hormones. This won't turn the subject of course, just enable the smooth transition to omega and hopefully speed the process up somewhat. In a young and virile alpha, the bitching process can take longer to catch. Surgical castration would make the process much quicker of course. Not as much fun for everyone else though I suppose." He licks his lips as he says it, looking at Dean's face for a reaction. "Although," he goes on to add, "Meg here does enjoy a chance to play with the emasculator. It only takes minutes to slash and crush these Alpha balls." He gives Dean's balls another vicious squeeze as he says it. "Anyway, the drugs will ensure that when the prince is fucked by his father, the turning process will begin immediately. No chance for a change of heart that way, eh Deano?"

"Enough!" Castiel's spits, stepping forward. "That's enough." This humiliation has gone on too long. He sees no reason to let the so-called doctor drag it out any further. "You've examined the prince thoroughly enough to verify he is pure alpha, surely your job is done."

Alastair's grin instantly falls from his face, and he glares at Castiel like he's trying to steal away his favorite toy. "Well, I- "

"Yes indeed, Prince Castiel has a point." Castiel looks across the room in surprise as Crowley finally breaks his silence. "The results seem quite conclusive and as you've administered all the injections I believe that completes this examination."

"Well, as long as everyone is quite satisfied?" Alastair stares questioningly at Zachariah and the king.

Red cheeked and shuffling uncomfortably Zachariah is trying to cover his erection or possibly, Castiel doesn't want to look too closely, a damp patch on the front of his pants, leaving the king to grudgingly concede that he's seen enough.

"Well, I can see I am no longer required," Doctor Alastair huffs, stripping his latex gloves off and throwing them on the floor. "I'll have Meg write up my notes and pass them on to both parties."

"Aren't you going to release the prince?" Castiel asks as the doctor walks casually away with Meg trailing behind him, leaving Dean abandoned on the bed, naked and completely vulnerable with his legs in the air and a bead of blood spotting on his testicles.

"You're so protective of your bitch, Prince Castiel; I wouldn't want to interfere any further. Feel free to release him yourself, or don't. It's up to you. Maybe you'd all like to have some fun first. I hear knotting an alpha can be quite a thrill. You'd be doing him a favor really, loosening up that tight hole of his before his father rips him apart."

Before he knows it, Castiel is at the other side of the room, his arm across Alastair's throat pinning him to the door. "Shut your vile mouth, you bastard. You think this is funny?"

"I think this is delectable," Alastair taunts, running his tongue across his lips and looking over Castiel's shoulder towards Dean, sadistic hunger glinting in his eyes.

For the first time in his life, Castiel truly believes he could kill a man in cold blood. But before he surrenders to the murderous rage that's in danger of overcoming him, Crowley wraps his arms around his chest and drags him away from the doctor. The man is apparently stronger than his stature suggests.

"Okay, down boy." He says, hauling Castiel just far enough away from Alastair to allow the doctor to leave the room, but not without casting one last lecherous glance in Dean's direction. "Let’s just get the prince released shall we?"

Elbowing his way out of Crowley's hold with a bad tempered grunt, Castiel does just that. Busy concentrating on loosening the straps around Dean's chest and prying the gag from his mouth, he fails to notice his father and Zachariah leaving the room, but he does notice when someone else joins him in unbuckling the leather straps securing Dean to the bed.

"Stupid, self-sacrificing son of bitch." The man, soldier, mumbles. It's the guard that Dean had ushered out of the room when he first arrived, and he looks pissed. "I told you. I goddamn told you, brother. Told you to let me watch your back." Despite his scolding, the soldier's hands are gentle as he frees Dean, even massaging the prince’s muscles to encourage the blood to flow back to them. Castiel isn't that bold. Doesn't think Dean would appreciate Castiel touching him so intimately.

Between them, they manage to get Dean sitting upright on the edge of the bed. Castiel finds a couple of blankets and slides one over his lap and the other over his shoulders, covering Dean's naked body. Crowley appears with a glass of water, which the soldier bullies Dean into sipping. They all ignore how badly Dean's hands are shaking.

"Okay, thanks for the help, but I think you folks have done enough for now," The soldier says to Castiel and Crowley pointedly.

Crowley shrugs unconcerned, walking away without a backward glance, but Castiel can't bring himself to leave so easily. "Dean, I'm sorry; that was horrific. I had no idea that the doctor....that he would....it was just....there was no need...." Castiel just can't find the words he is searching for, and ends up looking and feeling like a complete fool. "I'm sorry." He ends lamely. "If you need me, anything, if you need anything just send for me."

"Okay, sir," The soldier says, his eyes rolling at Castiel's floundering. "I've got him from here."

Castiel nods, deflated somehow at not being needed. Before he is quite out of the door though, Dean calls out to him, the words cracked and broken but music to Castiel's ears. "Thanks, Cas."

Castiel starts at the nickname then breaks out into a broad smile and nods, before leaving the room, not quite with a skip in his step, but a little more bounce perhaps.


He doesn't get far. Crowley is waiting for him. "He's going to have to go through a lot worse before this is all over you know."

"I am aware of that, thank you." Castiel doesn't stop, keeps on walking down the hallway towards - hopefully, if it's the right direction - his guest room. "But that doesn't make what the doctor did in there acceptable."

"Well," Crowley says, shoving his hands in his pockets and effortlessly keeping pace beside Castiel. "It was your side that insisted Doctor Alastair be the one to carry out the assessment today, so make sure you lay the blame at the right door."

Castiel stops for a second and turns to face Crowley, trying to read his expression; not an easy feat. "Did my father know what was going to happen today?"

Crowley shrugs, "Possibly. I'd say that Zachariah knew exactly how Alastair would conduct his examination." Crowley fixes Castiel with a searching stare, like he's trying to peer inside his head, see the thoughts whirring through his brain. "I can't quite get a read on you, Prince Castiel. I'm not sure whose side you're on here. In fact I'm not convinced that you know which side you're on."

"I thought the whole point of this week's event was that there would be no sides. Just a peaceful treaty, and a wedding; everybody lives happily ever after." Castiel says dryly. He's not naive enough to believe that, but in theory that's what the agreement between Heaven and Winchester should result in.

"If I thought you truly believed that I'd worry for your sanity." Crowley says. "But if everyone was on the same page, then yes, that is more or less what should happen. Unfortunately it seems that some people have a differing agenda."

"Zachariah," Castiel says immediately.

"Indeed," Crowley nods. "Maybe you aren't as clueless as you appear. The question is then, in the ideological war between Heaven, Hell and Winchester, where do you stand? With the omega civil rights advocates, with the status quo pacifists, or the beat them, lock them up and treat them like dogs hard liners who run Heaven?"

"Um," Castiel falters, he thinks he and Crowley might be having two different conversations.

"You really need to stop and look at the bigger picture, Castiel. Consider the motives of the players on the board; the prize at the end of the game. This battle has gone on long enough; it's time for you to step up and declare your intentions. You have more to gain and lose than you realize."

With that rather cryptic statement, Crowley walks off, leaving Castiel staring after him.

 

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Dean does his best to erase the morning's events from his mind. The feel of Alastair's gloved fingers on his skin, inspecting him, torturing him. The pain and the humiliation. The embarrassment of Benny practically carrying him back to his rooms. Unfortunately, the insistent ache in his balls makes it hard to push the memories too far away.

Thankfully he has the whole afternoon before he needs to prepare for the evening ritual. There's to be a feast first, then Dean will take center stage. And that's something else he's trying very hard not to think about.

He spends a good part of the afternoon lying on his sofa with a well wrapped icepack on his crotch. Benny gives him some kick-ass painkillers, as well as a ten minute lecture on never leaving your best friend and bodyguard locked outside a door while you're being tortured. Dean thinks some of the language he uses is a little over the top. It's not like he expected the medical exam to be quite so awful. Humiliating and degrading yes, but he thought the doctor might be a little more professional and a little less sadistic.

At least Cas had tried to intervene.

The thought sticks in Dean's head. Oddly out of place. He ponders it for some time - and then it hits him; he's starting to think of the prince as Cas again rather than Prince Castiel.

Cas was a little boy dressed in strangely grown-up suits and starched shirts, with wild dark hair that refused to be tamed by a brush. Cas was the kid that Dean attached himself to and followed around like a persistent shadow when they were both dragged by their respective parents to official occasions in the neighboring kingdom of Hell. The first time they met he'd put up with Dean's adoration with a youthful mix of avoidance and deceit - running away and hiding - but Dean's charm, perseverance and a giant bar of chocolate won him over before very long.

That first time they met, Dean was four and Cas was six. They played in the gardens of the Grand Palace of Hell for hours, chasing each other through the yew maze while the grown-ups celebrated the anniversary of something boring. There's a yellow-edged photograph of them somewhere with Cas in his rumpled suit, his shirt buttons undone and necktie hanging loose and ragged, and Dean in what must have once been a crisp white shirt and a pair of light blue shorts, both items covered in grass stains, as are his filthy knees. Cas's brother Gabriel stands in the background looking just as mischievous as the pair of them although he doesn't have so much as a hair out of place. If Dean remembers correctly, it was Gabriel that showed them where the maze was before he ran off to play with the daughters of some local dignitary.

A year or so later, at a Christmas party held by Crowley's mother, Cas silently followed Dean as he crawled, miserable and dejected, under the dining table. He hugged him tight and wiped his tear-stained face with his tie until Dean's sobs faded away. And he never ever mocked Dean about the fact he was terrified of Father Christmas.

When Dean was seven and Castiel nine, they slipped away from their parents and nannies and climbed the sturdy old trees in the palace orchard while the adults mourned the death of the old king. Hours later, Castiel had to half carry Dean home when some disgruntled bees bullied him out of a tree from too high up for a comfortable landing. Dean's mother had fussed and fretted, but King John had simply tousled Dean's hair, given him a proud smile and said at least they had a good excuse to skip out of the 'old loons' wake.

Later that year at the party celebrating the coronation of the new Queen of Hell, Dean, with his newly healed arm, and Cas sneaked through the palace hallways, side by side, searching for hidden treasure, or dragons, or ghosts. Dean with a serving spoon gun, and Castiel with a walking stick sword. They'd battled suits of armor and stuffed bears and discovered a magical place called the staff kitchen where they won the bountiful prize of chocolate cookies. That had been one of the best afternoons of Dean's young life, even after the cook had marched the pair of them back to their parents who'd just ordered a full scale search to be made of the palace grounds to find them. Dean's butt had been warmed that night.

When Dean was nine and Cas eleven, they sat like angels beside their parents through the incredibly long and boring ceremony to mark the investiture of Crowley as The Crown Prince of Hell on his twenty-first birthday. Then, leaving a pouting Sammy behind, they'd snuck off to investigate the palace cathedral tower. They'd climbed and climbed up the winding stone stairs until their legs ached, 287 steps that they counted together. Hand in hand, helping each other up the final steps, they'd collapsed at the top, panting and giggling happily. They hadn't let go of each other's hands as they caught their breath, not even when they peered out of the tower at the view of city far below.

Neither of them could have imagined that it would be thirteen years before they'd see each other again. That so much could happen to change their lives. The last time they held hands and talked as friends was before either of them knew much about alphas, betas or omegas. It was before Castiel's mother and his big brother disappeared, before his father went half mad and became all but a recluse as a result. It was certainly before Dean's own mother had been assassinated in cold blood and their countries had raced to war. Before Dean had fought with guns and swords instead of serving spoons, and before Prince Michael had been killed.

With everything that's happened, Dean didn't think he'd ever look at Prince Castiel again and see his friend Cas, but even that day when they sat on opposite sides of the bargaining table, he'd seen hints of his wild haired friend in the self-contained prince who sat so impassively. And now that he is to be married to him, Dean is twisted up inside trying to figure out how he feels. He doesn't want to be an omega, he knows that. He doesn't want anyone making decisions for him, ruling his life, telling him what he can and cannot do, where he can and cannot go. He doesn't want to be dragged away from all his family and friends. He doesn't want to be pregnant. He doesn't want to be bent over and fucked. But, well...maybe a tiny treacherous part of him doesn't think that Cas bending him over would be the worst thing ever.

Cas grew into that mop of dark hair magnificently. His eyes are just as blue, just as beautiful as they ever were, and his lips are pink and plump and perfectly designed for kissing. And - especially after the morning’s events - Dean suspects that Prince Castiel is just as kind and loving as Cas always was. His father however is not, and Zachariah? The man is a slime-ball. A dangerous one.

Dean pulls a cushion on top of his face and groans loudly. There's so many conflicting thoughts barreling through his head he thinks his brain might explode.

"You all right there, brother?" The cushion Dean's gripping is yanked away leaving him scowling up at Benny's face.

"Peachy," Dean retorts, shuffling up until he's sitting on the couch instead of flopped on his back.

"You want to talk?" Benny offers Dean a steaming mug of what is hopefully coffee, and sits down on the other side of the couch.

"Not especially," Dean takes a sip and wrinkles his nose up in disgust.

"It's tea. Ellen's special brew, good for whatever ails you apparently." Benny holds his hands up. "I'm just the delivery boy, don't go shooting me."

Dean takes another sip. It's not so awful he supposes, just not coffee.

"So, you'll have to get ready soon," Benny says.

"Uhuh," Dean agrees.

"How you feeling?"

Dean arches one eyebrow at Benny. "How do you think I'm feeling?"

"Well, I'd be pissing my pants if it was me. But you're never gonna admit that now are you, bub?"

Dean takes another sip of tea, considers his answer. "It's not like it would help if I wandered the halls wailing and weeping now, would it? I can't say I'm looking forward to tonight or the next few days, but I'm Prince Dean fucking Winchester and I'm not gonna let those Heavenly dicks see me break."

Benny nods silently, kindly chooses not to call bullshit. He's a good friend. He watches Dean sip his tea for a few minutes before speaking again. "So, looks like that Prince Castiel isn't such a bad guy."

"Uh what?" Dean blinks dumbly back at him.

"This morning," Benny elaborates. "Seemed to me like the prince was pretty pissed about what that quack did to you. Looked like he cared, y'know?"

"I guess," Dean says, but he can feel his cheeks heating even though he doesn't know why.

Benny nods, looks thoughtfully at Dean, nods again and that's it - conversation done. Benny and Dean's heart to hearts tend to be short and sweet. And rare. "So," Benny says after he's watched Dean drink most of the tea. "You want a hand getting ready? Ellen and Jo offered to help; think they just want to make sure you're okay. Or I can help if you like."

"No, man. I'd rather just do it on my own."

"Sure thing," Benny says easily, standing up. "I'll be waiting outside when it's time."

Dean heaves in a deep sigh and stands on legs that are more or less steady. "Thanks, Benny. For...y'know..."

"I know, Dean." Benny says hauling him in for a hug that Dean tries to resist at first, but ends up sinking into like Benny's arms are the only thing holding him up.



Dean takes his time getting ready. There are a few things he has to do, unpleasant but necessary. He gives himself an enema, it's not easy, but he follows the direction on the box and uses plenty of lube on his tender ass. It's awkward and uncomfortable, and takes a couple of go's, but he manages it without turning the bathroom into a war zone, so he takes it as a win.

He showers and shaves next. Grateful that he doesn't need to shave all over, not yet; he's still an alpha, still allowed to have hair on his body. After that he spends time lubing his ass, and trying to open his hole up a little. In theory he shouldn't. The ritual requires his father to fuck him dry and unprepared, a true alpha. In practice, that's just not going to work. Not for either of them. So Dean fingers himself open, uses a lubricant gel that promises to last for hours, scissors himself until he can squeeze three fingers up his ass, then presses a discreet, generously lubed, squat butt-plug into his hole. It squelches horrendously when he moves but really - that's the least of his worries.

He dresses in the clothes laid out for him. Usually he wears his dress uniform to official events, but that doesn't feel appropriate in the circumstances, and also it's not the easiest outfit to remove in a hurry, especially the boots. Instead, he's wearing a dark three piece suit that he looks pretty suave in, even if he does say so himself, and a pair of slip-on dress shoes.

Before he leaves the room, he swallows down a handful of pills with a shot of whisky. They're nothing sinister, only painkillers. Bobby had offered him something stronger, something that would help him drift through the ceremony in a haze, but for tonight at least, Dean wants to have full control of his faculties. Maybe he'll regret it later, but he needs to maintain some sense of control.

Looking in his mirror one last time, he runs his fingers through his hair, straightens his tie and fixes an expression of casual indifference on his face.



Benny escorts him through the hallways to the grand ballroom. A room that's been unused since his mother died. For the first time in years the room is full to bursting. The noise of excited chatter echoes under the high ceiling. Tables line the perimeter of the room, surrounding the raised platform in the middle of what should be the dance floor. Dean averts his eyes from the cloth-covered center piece and concentrates on finding his seat beside his father. As Dean walks past the invited guests, he wishes he had worn his dress uniform; the stiff wool jacket and sharply creased pants, the leather belt with its gleaming buckle and the proud row of medal ribbons; they aren't bullet proof, but Dean feels brave and proud and invulnerable dressed in it.

His father, seated at the head of the top table and looking resplendent in his ceremonial uniform, nods as Dean bows his head formally before taking his seat. As soon as Dean sits down, a bell sounds and the food is served by a small army of waiters. Nearly all the castle staff have been coerced into helping out. Even Charlie who works in the king's office is charged with pouring out carafes of wine. She catches Dean's eye as she pours out Zachariah's, the slosh of wine over his glass and into his lap almost looks accidental. Almost. The grin Charlie gives Dean as she walks away from Zachariah's red-faced spluttering is wide and cheeky enough to make Dean break into a small smile for a second.

The meal passes slowly. And far too quickly. Dean has no idea what he is eating. He feels Ellen's hand gripping his shoulder as she walks past, hears Jo's whispered words of encouragement as she pours him a glass of water. Every so often his father's hand will pat his on top of the table. Dean can't even see Sammy who's sitting at the other side of their father. Bobby sits at the other side of Dean and is at least an effective barrier to stop anyone else trying to talk to him. Dean spies where Castiel is sitting, but avoids looking his way. He feels the prince's eyes on him though, often. Like a heavy weight, a loaded gun. Dean just knows Cas is watching him. Once he jerks his head up and catches a flash of blue eyes before they snap away.

As the evening wears on Dean notes that his father is as eating as little as he is, the wait staff removing his plate still piled with food. King John does however drink more than he should, looking for courage in a golden highland malt. Dean hopes he still has his senses by the end of the meal; Dean's relying on him. After the dessert course, before the wine and cheese is served, John slips a small pill out of his pocket and discreetly swallows it. Dean tries not to stare.

"A little chemical assistance," Bobby murmurs beside him. "No way was your dad gonna be able to get it up on his own."

Dean nods in understanding.

"You want anything stronger than those painkillers I gave you?" Bobby adds under his breath.

Dean shakes his head jerkily. Bobby grips his arm briefly before turning back to his neighbor and heading off his question about the omega rights issue.

As the last of the china is smoothly cleaned from the tables, the last coffee cup whisked away by a young waiter, the atmosphere in the room leaps from a low thrum of anticipation to a heady buzz of expectation. Dean does something he's avoided doing all night. He looks around at the faces in the room. Many are flushed with heat and liquor, a few look pale with dread, but there's a glint of excitement in more eyes than Dean expected. Men who are quick to shake his hand and call him Sir, men that salute him and follow his orders, are flicking dark eyed glances towards him, staring openly at his lips and shifting restlessly in their chairs.

Something he read once springs to mind, and it suddenly seems too accurate for comfort; 'Always remember that the crowd which applauds your coronation is the same crowd that will applaud your beheading. People like a show'.*

That's what Dean is tonight; after dinner, he's the show.

When Crowley strolls over to the platform in the center of the room, Dean stops thinking altogether. Every cell in his body is too busy concentrating on remembering how to breathe.


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Castiel pays scant attention to Crowley's speech. He catches some nonsense about peace, sacrifice and the joining together of two great lands and families, but it's mainly Crowley just droning on because he likes the sound of his own voice. Castiel’s entire focus is centered on Dean anyway. And if he hadn't been watching Dean so closely for most of the evening, he might not have noticed what little color Dean had in his face fleeing. But Castiel has barely been able to look away from his future husband long enough to eat.

Dean's face has stayed carefully blank most of the night; no sign of fear, or even nerves, but apart from one small quirk of his lips, there's been no flicker of anything resembling a smile either.

When the time comes for Dean to walk to the platform, he strides through the ballroom like the soldier he is - was - shoulders pulled back, spine straight and chin held high. His father walks on one side of him, and two soldiers follow a step behind. One of them is the bearded soldier who cared for Dean after Doctor Alastair's treatment and the other is as equally tall, broad and imposing, if slightly older going by his grey hair and beard.

A gasp chases around the room when Crowley rips the covering from the apparatus on the stage, revealing what is essentially a breeding bench. It's luxurious, made from rich burnished mahogany and with a deeply cushioned leather body, but that doesn't change its purpose. Castiel is surprised they have one in Winchester, given their gentle treatment of omegas. In Heaven, breeding benches are easily found in whore-houses and the basements of people who own omegas the way other people own pets.

Castiel hates himself a little for the burst of excitement that twists through his guts. But the thought of seeing his future mate naked and poised for breeding stirs his alpha instincts into a frenzy. Hearing Zachariah let out an appreciative moan when he sees the bench is enough to dull his ardor though. It's a timely reminder that Dean is on display for everyone to see, not just Castiel. That Dean's not an in-heat omega but an alpha prince and soldier. Cas's friend, not his mate.

Dean strips quickly, no tease just methodical efficiency. The other three men stand around him, an impenetrable wall, as he steps out of his underwear. Castiel thinks something happens he doesn't quite see, something clandestine that Dean's guards are sure to hide from view. He thinks Dean passes something to one of the soldiers. He suspects that it's possibly a plug or something similar. It would make sense if Dean was opening himself up before the ritual. Strictly speaking it's not permitted, but realistically, if he isn't at least a little prepared, his father's knot will rip him open. Castiel hopes that it was a butt plug.

Moving stiffly but with cool composure, Dean positions himself on the breeding bench, refusing assistance. It's not until his chest is on the leather cushion, arms and legs on their respective rests, that the soldiers step forward and with gentle care, fasten the restraints around his wrists and ankles. Once they're done, Crowley climbs on to the platform and adjusts the bench, making sure Dean's thighs are spread wide and his ass pushed high, his cock and balls swinging loose. He tests to ensure the cuffs are secure around Dean's limbs before backing away.

As one, the guests seated at the tables stand and advance on the stage, forming a ragged circle as close as the guards who step in will allow. An expectant flurry of excitement ripples through the crowd. Castiel moves too, striding forward so he is standing at Dean's head, albeit some distance away. His father and Zachariah station themselves either side of him, perfectly positioned to watch the prince's face as King John knots him.

"Do you, Prince Dean of Winchester, agree to sacrifice yourself willingly, to offer up your alpha blood to become a fertile omega? Do you agree to submit yourself to the sacred ritual of turning in front of these witnesses, in order to offer yourself as an omega to the Kingdom of Heaven as a gift of peace and a symbol of union?"

The question is directed at Dean, but Crowley's voice rings clear and loud throughout the entire ballroom. Dean's reply is quieter but no less assured. "I do."

The watching crowd let out a collective breath, as though his answer wasn't guaranteed.

"So be it," Crowley nods and turns to King John. "King John of Winchester, I present the alpha, Prince Dean of Winchester. As custom demands, it is your duty to initiate the ritual of his turning from alpha to omega in front of his future alpha and these noble witnesses."

King John stands as proud and fearsome as always, but his eyes are dull, the lines around them crevice-deep. Jaw clenched in business-like determination, he nods at Crowley and takes the steps up to the platform. He doesn't undress, he doesn't need to be naked like his son, he simply unbuttons his pants and pulls out his dick, runs his hands over it and works it up to full hardness. Castiel suspects that the king has taken something to assist him, as his cock is already filled with blood, thick and purple headed as it slides through his fist. Spreading one hand around Dean's hip, he presses his dick to his son's ass, brushing against the tightly clenched hole offered up to him.

The steadying breath he takes before breaching his son's body is visible to anyone looking. His fingers grasping into Dean's pale flesh as he tries to push in slow enough not to hurt. The wide eyed flare of pain in Dean's face suggests he doesn't entirely succeed. Cas doesn't think anyone in the room moves, caught in the moment, as John inches into Dean. The prince's ass reluctantly swallowing up the alpha's cock until John is pressed fully against him, his cock buried completely. A bead of sweat drips down the king's temple, his hand trembling as he wipes it away. Now that he's fully seated, his cock gripped tight by Dean's hot body, he seems reluctant to move.

"Just fuck him already." Some fool says from behind Castiel. He's quickly hushed by the crowd, but Zachariah chuckles his agreement.

John and Dean don't event acknowledge the comment. John leans over Dean's body, the gold buttons of his uniform digging into Dean's back as he dips his head to whisper into Dean's ear. Then, bracing himself with one hand on Dean's shoulder and the other still spanning his hip, the king starts to fuck his son.

Castiel can't drag his gaze away from Dean. His eyes have screwed shut, his dark eyelashes fluttering across his cheeks. His lips are narrowed, his teeth biting into his bottom lip as he tries to keep a stoic silence. Even in obvious pain, Dean Winchester is beautiful. Castiel is caught between wanting to end his friend's suffering and wanting to watch him forever.

Slowly, King John's thrusts gain speed and vigor. His hips pumping with more intent, his cock spearing Dean with more enthusiasm.

"That's it, fuck the bitch." Zachariah hisses under his breath. "Show him what he really he is. Omega whore."

"Lord Zachariah," Castiel growls, incensed at the man's behavior. Zachariah is not alone though. Through the crowd, there are more mumblings, especially from the visiting contingency from Heaven.

"That's it break the bitch's ass."

"Look at him taking it just like an O."

"With an ass and mouth like that, the slut was born to be an omega."

Castiel is embarrassed to be associated with his countrymen sometimes. Even the stony-eyed glares from the Winchester guards do nothing to staunch the flow of crude taunts.

Crowley coughs loudly and Castiel thinks he may be about to put an end to the humiliating filth being hurled at Dean. Instead he makes matters infinitely worse.

"If any royal alpha who would like to make a donation to aid the turning of Prince Dean could step forward-".

Before he can even finish the sentence more than a dozen men step forward, from all royal families. A couple from Winchester and Hell, but most from Heaven.

Crowley laughs. "I appreciate your eagerness gentlemen. While the ritual penetration can only be carried out by alphas of the prince's own bloodline, we will accept semen from any royal alpha to supplement his meals and drinks. If you'd like to take a jar, and well...let's be frank....jerk off while the prince is...looking ever so pretty, we'll collect your generous donations of alpha seed when you're done."

There's a mix of disappointed grumbles from those who aren't royal or aren't alpha, and disgusted tsks from most of the Winchester guests.

A few more Alphas step forward, eagerly grabbing the offered receptacle. Beside him, Castiel can feel the resentment seeping from Zachariah. The man has probably never despised his beta status quite so thoroughly.

Castiel ignores them all, other than to push past the bull-necked alpha who steps in front of him. No-one is standing in between him and Dean.

Red-face with exertion, fat tears of sweat dripping down his face on to the back of his son below, King John slams into Dean. Whether he can't hold back any longer, or simply wants to get the whole ordeal over with is unclear, but he's certainly pounding into Dean as though he's chasing completion.

The smell of arousal stinks up the room, a number of alphas not masturbating into small glass jars are brazenly unzipping their pants and stripping their dicks, all the while looking hungrily at Dean. Even some betas, and out of the corner of his eye Castiel sees that Zachariah is one of them, are palming their crotches and joining in the debauchery.

King John is bucking into Dean violently, the wooden stage creaking under the strain.

"Fuck, look at his ass." An alpha grunts. "Sucking that dick up so pretty."

"The bitch's hole is gonna be gaping like a whore's cunt by the time it's taken a knot," another says.

Castiel blocks out the commentary that's growing in volume. Some of the Winchester guards look torn between obeying their standing order to silently guard the prince and the obvious desire to rip out the tongues of the alphas panting over him.

"I'd like to paint that pretty face with my come, looks at those fucking lips," An alpha moans, stepping forward, one hand pumping his dick, and the other cupping his balls. He takes a step too far, too near to the prince. A guard, the grey haired one Castiel noted earlier, seizes the opportunity to lash out. A heavy blow to his gut sees the alpha doubling over in wheezy shock. Another, sees him curled in a ball on the floor. It's enough of a warning to subdue some of the louder alphas and ensure they keep a wary distance.

The king's hips start to stutter as he pounds into Dean, losing his rhythm; a sure sign his orgasm is approaching, his knot starting to swell at the base of his cock. Dean must be in excruciating pain. An alpha is not made to take alpha cock, not without a great deal of patience, preparation, and lubrication. And even if Dean managed a little of the last two, it couldn't have helped enough. Despite the pain, Dean remains silent. Although his eyes stubbornly stay shut, he's not screaming or protesting and he isn't fighting his bonds. He's as proud and strong now as Castiel has ever seen him.

 


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It feels as though Dean is being torn apart. Every time his father moves inside him, fresh agony steals through his body. And every time Dean thinks the pain can't get any worse, it does. His ass must be a bloody mess. The sharp sting he'd felt at the first intrusion has grown into a rough burning agony that spreads from his ass all the way up his spine. His guts are rolling too with every thrust, so much so that he's worried if he opens his mouth he might vomit.

He doesn't know how much more he can take. How much longer he can stay silent and stoic. 'Be brave' his father had said. 'Be strong and proud. You're a soldier, a warrior. Don't let them see you break.'

Dean doesn't feel like a warrior now. He barely even feels human, more like an animal. A trapped animal being ripped apart for the amusement of the baying spectators.

The crowd around him feels nearer now than it did earlier. Even with his eyes closed, there's a claustrophobic fog enveloping him. The heat in the hall is so dense, the stench of alpha pheromones so thick, that Dean feels as though he could choke on it. His father's deep thrusts turn erratic, frenzied, and Dean sucks in desperate breaths, trying to stifle the panic rising in his chest. His father's going to knot him. He can't take it. Already the pressure is too much.

The king surges into him again, his cock so deep Dean can feel it in his belly. He wants to be brave. He wants to make his father proud. He doesn't want Heaven's bastards see him break, but God, it's too much.

His father slams forward again. Pain explodes through Dean. His eyes burst open, a scream clawing at his throat.

And then Dean sees him.

Cas, standing directly in front of him, looking straight at him. His posture is protective, his blue eyes bright and fierce. He locks eyes with Dean, and it's like a lifeline. Dean holds his gaze, sinks into the depth of his eyes. Finds solace. A cool calming balm that holds the searing pain and terror at bay.

Cas doesn't look away, not for a second. He doesn't even blink. While the king's knot is swollen tight in Dean's ass, his seed pulsing hot in Dean's belly, Cas stands in front of him like a steady beacon of light. A flare for him to focus on while he fights his way out of the dark.

Dean clings to him, right up until the king tugs his knot free and another wave of pain crashes through him and this time, Dean lets himself sink into the blessed darkness.

 

 

 *Terry Pratchett (Going Postal) Quote - not me

 

 

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Sleep does not come easy to Castiel. He spends most of the night twisting restlessly between his bed sheets, haunted by the image of Dean's unconscious body lying limp in his guards’ arms. He'd looked so fragile, so small. Nothing like the vibrant Dean Winchester that Castiel knows.

Dark smears of blood had painted the globes of his backside, more dripped fresh and bright down the inside of his thighs, obscene against the ghostly pallor of his skin. Lord Singer had to support the king and escort him away once he'd seen the damage he'd inflicted on his son. Many of the guests, the people of Winchester, had wept.

Castiel had left the ballroom as quickly as he could, sickened by the celebratory mood of his father, Zachariah, and their sycophants. They'd been shouting for music and more drink as Castiel fled, laughing about the ruination of an alpha prince, talking excitedly about the next night already.

The knowledge that Prince Dean's ordeal is far from over, that he still has nights of this torture to suffer, plagues Castiel's thoughts.

Just before sunrise Castiel admits to himself that he's slept what little he can. He showers and dresses before deciding to explore the castle grounds, with the faint hope that watching the sun rise and breathing in the crisp morning air will lift his mood.

His journey out into the gardens is unimpeded. The handful of soldiers stationed in the hallways watch him with tired eyes, but do nothing to stop him. And nothing to help him when he takes a wrong turn and has to retrace his steps. The sun is just beginning to rise when Castiel finds his way into the walled gardens. The chilly air, damp with promise of a beautiful day ahead, clears his head somewhat and goes a little way toward refreshing his dulled and exhausted senses.

As the sweet pink early light from the sun casts a revealing glow over the gardens, a tickle of unease prickles at the back of Castiel's neck. There's someone else close by. He's sure of it. He may not be the great warrior that his older brother was, but his senses are sharply trained. He follows his instincts and, treading quietly, ventures deeper into the gardens, past the flowerbeds and the speckled roses, towards a dense copse of evergreens. As he nears, he realizes that the trees are hiding a low stone bench, and subsequently hiding Samuel Winchester.

He doesn't note Castiel's presence at first so Castiel has a minute to take in the young prince’s disheveled appearance; his hair, much longer than his soldier brother's, is a tangle of wild waves. His clothes are the ones he wore last night only now his suit is creased, his white shirt rumpled and hanging loose and untucked, and his tie is lying in a sad knot on the dirt at his feet. Samuel is slumped on the hard bench, his head in his hands and his shoulders heaving.

Castiel coughs softly, subtly alerting the prince to his presence.

Obviously surprised, Samuel's head jerks up. A second later, he throws his hands up and scrubs them over his face, not quickly enough to hide his tear-marked cheeks and blood-shot eyes however. "What do you want?" He snarls at Castiel like a petulant teen, which in actual fact, he still is.

"I'm sorry," Castiel says. "I did not mean to disturb you, Prince Samuel. I was enjoying a walk in the gardens and I thought I heard someone."

"A walk? In the middle of the night? Yeah, right." Samuel spits.

Castiel looks up at the sky pointedly before commenting. "It is early, but hardly the middle of the night, Prince Samuel."

Samuel's eyes widen when he realizes that the sun is indeed rising, but he doesn't apologize, simply shrugs as though it’s inconsequential. Castiel has to wonder how long the boy's been sitting out here that he thought it was the middle of the night.

"And," Castiel admits when Sam does little more than scowl at him. "I was having a great deal of trouble sleeping."

"Why?" Samuel sneers. "Too excited at the thought of owning my brother. Too horny after seeing him fucked and humiliated in front of hundreds of people? I bet you can't wait until it's your turn, until-"

"No," Castiel snaps. "No, Samuel. I thought you of all people would know better. I was Dean's friend. I am Dean's friend. I hate what they're doing to him."

Samuel looks at him for a minute, his expression stony. Then, his shoulders slump and the anger in his eyes slowly drains away. "Really?" He asks, voice suddenly unbearably young.

"Really," Castiel nods. After a second's hesitation he takes a seat beside Samuel on the bench. "Last night was...it was truly awful. Seeing Dean hurt like that, it was.....none of this was my idea, Prince Samuel, I promise you. If I had any power I would never have allowed this to pass."

"Sam," The prince says. "Call me Sam. You always used to call me Sam."

"You remember that?" Castiel asks, surprised. Sam was only a small child the last time that Castiel had talked to him. A chubby five year old with perpetually sticky hands and a stuffed brown dog called Bones that he carried everywhere he went.

Sam shrugs, a distant smile on his face. "I remember you and Dean dumping me. I was insanely jealous; he used to have so much fun with you. He talked about you all the time when we were younger. When you lost touch, when you didn't write him back, he was distraught. Not that he admitted it, but he was an insufferable jerk for months. Even Mom got fed up with him, and she had the patience of an angel."

"He wrote to me?" Castiel says.

"Well yeah." Sam says as though it's obvious. As though he hasn't just shone a light on a subject that Castiel hasn't thought about in years. "And you know Dean," Sam continues. "He hated writing letters. It was usually June before mom nagged him into writing the last of his birthday thank you letters. But after he found out about your mom and brother, he wrote to you religiously, every week for months."

"But...but," Castiel stutters, a sudden cramp squeezing his heart into a tight ball in his chest. "I never....I never received any letters. I would have....that would have meant so much."

"Oh," Sam breathes out, his eyes widening. "Oh Cas," And then his hand covers Castiel's where it sits between them on the stone bench. "He loved you, man. You had to know that. You were his very best friend."

Castiel stares at the tree in front of him, watching as rays of sunlight start to illuminate the dark foliage. He can't think of anything to say. He wonders why his father, for it surely couldn't have been anyone else, why he would have stopped Dean's letters from reaching him. They were harmless letters from a child. "He....Dean....he....he was mine too. My very best friend."

Castiel and Sam sit in silence a few minutes longer, both lost in a distant world of their own thoughts. Eventually Castiel draws in a shaky breath and asks, "Are you alright, Sam? You were upset, when I first saw you, and you....well, you look as though you've been sitting out here a while."

Sam sniffs, and when he answers, his voice is choked and wet, tears threatening to fall from his red-rimmed eyes again. “They wouldn't let me see him. He was hurt, Cas. Really hurt. And they wouldn't let me go to him. He wasn't even allowed back in his own rooms. Apparently-" Sam's voice drips with disgust as he quotes, - "He's no longer an alpha prince. He's nothing. Not alpha or omega, he's no longer heir to the throne or part of my family. He's no-one until this ritual is finished and you marry him."

"That's garbage, Sam." Castiel says, shocked at the cruelty. "Complete nonsense."

"I know that, but the guards, they wouldn't listen. And now, tomorrow...tonight," Sam shudders, "I've got to....it’s my turn. I'm supposed to stand up there and f..fuck him. I can't...can't do it, Cas. I can't." Sam's sobbing by the time he finishes. Castiel can't blame him. He loops his arm around Sam's shoulder and holds him until his tears dry up and breathing evens out.

"I know it's awful, Sam. I know. But maybe it's better - for Dean - if it's you. You love him, you'll be careful, gentle, maybe that's better than-"

"Would you want that?" Sam looks at him earnestly. "If you were Dean, would you want your kid brother to...to....do that to you?"

No, Castiel thinks, if he were Dean he would not. Dean is deeply devoted to his brother. Since Samuel was a baby, Dean has put his little brother's wellbeing far before his own. He may tease him relentlessly, but Dean would die for Sam. In fact, Castiel suspects that Dean sacrificed himself more to secure his brother's future than his country's. No doubt, his brother's forced involvement in the ritual is one of the most horrific parts of this whole nightmare for Dean.

As dawn chases away the last of the night, a veil lifts from behind Castiel's eyes. A decision is made. One that seems obvious in the light of day.

It's time for Castiel to make a stand. His silent compliance in this debacle has to end. If not, he's not fit to ever be king. If he can't protect his future husband, then how can his countrymen expect him to protect them? His father may be king, but Zachariah is not. If King Charles is handing over the reins to anyone it should be to his son and heir, not an advisor. If his father's enthusiasm for rule has dwindled then it's time for him to step down, not allow a petty, cruel man to make his decisions for him.

Castiel knows he should not have stood idly by for so long, but he was never groomed to be king. Michael was destined to be a great and fair leader; one Castiel would have gladly followed. When he died, the whole country, including Castiel, had been left reeling. Castiel doubted his worth to rule, doubted he was as skillful, strong or as brave as his brother. He still doubts that. But he is a good man, and he knows the difference between right and wrong. It may well be too late to stop this farce of a ritual, but this will be the last act of a king who has lost his way. A king who has lost his sense of duty, fairness, and honor. It's time for Castiel to act with the same braveness that Dean has. He owes him that much.

Castiel inhales deeply and straightens his spine. "You're right," he says to Sam.

"I am?" Sam says, looking at Castiel strangely, as though he's just grown horns or wings.

"Yes. I may not be able to stop this ritual, but I will ensure that you are not forced to take part in it. Who would Dean prefer do you think? Is there someone who can take your place?"

"How," Sam asks. "How can you possibly-"

"Who, Sam?" Castiel repeats, because right now he's not sure of the how, just that he will do it.

"Well, there's Uncle Bobby I guess." Sam says slowly.

"He's too old. Our doctors already ruled him out." The list of Alphas had to be approved by both Hell and Heaven, or more specifically Crowley and Zachariah. While Lord Robert had done his best for Dean, there were still a couple of Alphas that Zachariah had insisted on, for the sole reason they were not Dean Winchester's biggest fans.

"Maybe Sir Cain then. He's a third cousin, but on the Winchester side so it should be close enough to satisfy the royal blood stipulation. He's a guard, but so is Benny, Lord Benjamin, and he's due to take part in the ritual later."

Castiel nods and stands, determination thrumming through every fiber in his body now that he's decided to act.

"Cas, what are you gonna do?" Sam looks up at him through his too long bangs with a mixture of hope and trepidation on his face.

"I'm going to pay my father a visit, and sort this mess out and then I'm going to see Dean. I think we need to talk."

"Will you tell him I tried....I tried to get to him and that I'm proud of him, and I....I love him."

Castiel smiles. "He knows that, Sam, but yes I'll tell him. And don't worry, I'll make sure he receives all the care and attention he needs. I doubt the ritual can be stopped, but I promise I will do everything I can to help him, and I swear that I will protect him in the future."

Sam raises his eyebrows doubtfully.

"You don't trust me to keep my word, Sam?" Castiel asks, undeniably hurt.

Sam snorts a wry laugh and shakes his head. "I trust you, Cas. I just don't think Dean's gonna take too kindly to anyone swearing to protect him. Not even you."

"I understand he's a capable soldier, Sam, but he will be an omega."

"He'll still be Dean Winchester, and if I know anything about my brother he'll kick your ass before he lets you treat him like a delicate flower."

"You are right as usual, Sam, but still I swear I'll protect him, just....without him knowing maybe?" Castiel flips Sam a small smile and Sam laughs.

"Good luck, Cas; you're sure gonna need it."

Yes, Castiel thinks as walks back to the castle to face his father, he is.

 

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Dean is glad to wake in the morning, if only because it brings an end to the increasingly horrific nightmares that have plagued his sleep. Dreams in shades of red and black. Gnarled fingers grasping at him, clawing through his clothes, shredding his skin, peeling away his flesh in delicate layers until he can see his own bones, his own beating heart. He regains consciousness gasping for oxygen like a dying man, his sheets twisted like rope around his ankles, sweat dripping down his face, clinging like tears from his eyelashes.

He takes shuddering breaths until his pulse stops hammering in his ears and the phantom smell of blood fades from his nose. He runs his tongue over his lips; they're dried out, cracked and stinging, and his throat feels as though he's been swallowing crushed glass. It's the thought of finding water, blessedly cool water, that propels him out of bed before he's fully awake. The bedsheets do their best to slow him down, tangling around his feet and almost sending him falling in a heap on the floor. He lurches awkwardly, trying to regain his balance, and sharply discovers that staying in bed might not be such a bad idea. He aches everywhere. Everywhere. Every one of his muscles feels as though it's been squeezed through a mangle. And his ass - Dean groans and curls back down on his bed. Except it's not his bed. This is not his room.

He vaguely remembers waking briefly in Cain's arms. Flashes of awareness that his ordeal was over. Being laid out and sponged clean. Remembers shame engulfing him as strange fingers spread cold numbing cream across his ass. Inside his ass. Remebers the humiliation he burned with when a plug was pressed into his hole, sealing his father's come deep inside of him. He remembers someone forcing a bottle of water to his lips, water that he'd gulped down and almost thrown back up as the faint but bitter taste of semen had hit the back of his throat. When a pill had been pressed to his tongue with the promise of sleep, Dean had swallowed it down gratefully.

The intrusion of the plug in his ass is still there. Holding his father's seed inside of him. Dean's stomach heaves at the thought. At the thought of how much more he still has to endure.

He looks up as the door handle turns, hoping to see a friendly face. Sam maybe or Benny. Probably not his dad; Dean doubts the king will be able to look him in the eye any time soon, if ever again. Maybe Jo or Charlie, hopefully with more painkillers or even just some chilled water, something to soothe the dry fire in his throat. He's disappointed.

"Well, good morning, Deano. Nice to see you awake at last. You were pretty out of it last night. Fucked senseless by daddy dearest I guess." Meg saunters into the room, white uniform on and tray in her hands. Dean remembers her clearly. Alastair's nurse, the sadistic bitch who laughed as the doctor talked about castrating him. He doesn't want her anywhere near him.

"It's Prince Dean to you, bitch." Dean rasps, the words scraping against his raw throat. He snatches at his blankets and hauls them up to his chest, covering his nakedness from her roaming eyes.

"Now, Deano that's no way to speak to the girl with the drugs is it? And I think if anyone here is the bitch, well that would be you, princess."

Dean scowls up at her, a barrage of insults on the tip of his tongue, fingers twitching with the need to curl into fists that he'd never use on a female, even one as detestable as Meg. But she doesn't give him a chance to do so much as open his mouth. "I'm here to examine you Dean, so drop the blanket, roll over and let me see that peachy ass of yours. I bet you're feeling a little tender this morning, huh? Is that plug holding all of daddy's come in there? He gave it to you real good, didn't he? You think he's been saving it up special, dreaming of filling you up-"

"Look nurse Ratched," Dean snarls. "Why don't you just leave the drugs and go fuck yourself!"

Meg places the tray on the wooden table beside Dean's bed, and stares down at him, hands on her hips and her smug little smile firmly in place. "Are you being uncooperative, Dean? Do I need to send for Doctor Alastair, have him examine you?"

Dean simply scowls back at her, ignoring her threats, refusing to acknowledge that the mere thought of the doctor makes his stomach clench and his pulse rate spike.

"You know, Dean, he's still in charge of your medical care. It's in writing, a contract, signed and sealed. And you know what else is in writing, buried in itty bitty small print - Alastair has the power to stop this whole thing. If he thinks the ritual isn't working, he can take other measures. That's right, sweetie, he can wait and watch as they all strap you down over that breeding bench, fucking you, and filling you up with come until you're swollen with it, and then," Meg drops her voice to a whisper, leaning down so he sees the flash of sick excitement in her eyes. "And then, Dean, we can make you watch as we slice you up. Maybe we'll go the whole way, get rid of that little dick of yours as well as yours balls. It's not like an O needs a cock."

"That's enough you nasty-ass skank," Dean says through gritted teeth. He's not gonna lie down and take that kind of crap from anyone. Hoping that he's hiding the pain shooting from his ass down the back of his legs and up every nerve in his spine, he pushes himself upright and out of bed, his blanket clutched to his chest. "Get out of my room before I have the guards drag you out."

"I don't think you're in any position to do that. Take a look around, Dean." Meg laughs saccharine sweet and chilling. "This isn't the royal quarters. It's not even the best of the guest quarters. You’re not a prince now, you're nothing. Plugged up and full of Alpha come. You're nothing but a filthy embarrassment. One your family wants to hide away and forget about."

"You're lying." Dean says, reaching out to grasp the headboard of the bed to steady himself. "My family would never do that."

"Well they're certainly not here holding your hand or mopping your brow are they?" Meg gestures around the small room, making her point clear. "They don't care, Dean. You're not an alpha any more. Not a prince of Winchester. You’re nothing but a whore now."

Dean isn't in the mood for this. He's exhausted, sore and he still stinks from last night. All he wants is a hot shower, coffee and lots of drugs, not necessarily in that order. "Maybe that's true, but at least it's only my ass I'm selling. Not my soul. And I know that my sacrifice makes a difference. When all this is over, I'll still be able look at myself in the mirror and be proud of who I am, of what I've done. What about you, Meg. Working for a bastard like Alastair, how does that make you feel? What's that done to your soul? Can you look in the mirror without seeing a monster staring back?"

Meg's expression turns ugly, her lips twisting into a feral smirk. "You think you're a real hero, don't you Dean?"

"No, no I don't." Dean says. "But I do know right from wrong. And I know-"

"Know what, Deano?" Dean's head jerks up as the door swings opens again. His heart sinks and his knees collapse, the bed softening his fall only a little as his legs give way. "I hope you're behaving yourself, boy. Not giving my delectable Nurse Meg any trouble."

Doctor Alastair, black leather medical bag in his hand, strolls into the room, stopping by Meg's side to run a proprietary hand across her backside. "She's a real spit fire isn't she? And an absolute pro with a scalpel."

"What do you want?" Dean asks, his voice distant and muffled through the dark cloud of panic forming inside his head.

"What do I want?" Alastair laughs. "What I want is for you to learn your place. To realize that the only thing an O has to worry about is doing what it’s told."

"That's not....I'm not-" Dean says faintly

"Maybe not yet, but you will be soon, Dean. And it's my job to make sure of it." Alastair places his bag on the bed, takes his jacket off and hands it to Meg. He rolls the sleeves of his white shirt up methodically, precisely, watching Dean as he does it. "Now O, hands and knees - present."

Dean stares, dumbfounded.

A beat of nothing. Silence. Expectation.

Alastair draws his arm back, and although Dean sees him do it, sees the movement clearly telegraphed, the back-handed strike across his cheekbone stuns him senseless.

"Let's try again," Alastair says, calmly. "Turn over, ass in the air, present."

Dean raises his hand to his cheek, feels the heat below his palm, even as his brain is struggling to catch up with what's happening.

"You really are a dumb O, aren't you?" Alastair says, just before he smacks the other side of Dean's face with a blow so hard that's Dean's ears ring, and he tastes blood.

By the time Dean regains his focus, Alastair is rummaging in his bag, and speaking to Meg. "-the gag and restraints. It's a stupid bitch, looks like we'll to have to do this the hard way."

No, Dean thinks. This isn't right. This isn't supposed to happen. He isn't going to lie here and let this happen, not again, not now. He's not tied down this time. And he's definitely not helpless.

He is sore though, and exhausted, muscles drained and reflexes dulled. He manages to kick Alastair in the face as he leans over his bag, manages to get his feet on the floor, and shoulder his way past Meg. Almost manages to make it all the way to the door before Alastair throws a wooden chair against his back, sending him crashing into the wall. Lurching upright, head spinning and shoulder throbbing, he dodges Alastair once, but not twice. The doctor throws himself at Dean, knocking the wind from him and dropping him to the floor, Alastair on top, pinning him down.

"You are feisty aren't you, bitch," Alastair laughs.

Dean shudders as he feels the doctor's foul breath on his face, seeping up his nose, the taste rancid in the back of his throat. "It's going to be such fun breaking you." Saliva drips onto Dean's face as Alastair emphasizes each word. His hand shoving down in-between them and grabbing hold of Dean's flaccid cock, crushing it in his fist.

Dean struggles, but it's useless. Alastair is too strong, and the pain is too much. Tears spring to his eyes and the air rushes from his lungs. Meg giggles in the background and all Dean can do is pray for help.

 

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 As Castiel expects, there are two guards posted outside his father's guest rooms. For once luck is on his side and he knows them both well; Gadreel and Inias. He wouldn't go so far as to call them friends, he doesn't believe that he truly has friends. Other than Dean. His father had never really encouraged it, and after his mother left, had all but forbid it. ‘You have family and duty Castiel, that is all you need. Friends will just betray you.’ If it hadn't been for his mother, for his older brothers, he would never have known what friends were. He wouldn't have known what love was either. Or laughter. And once his mother and Gabriel vanished all of those things were in very short supply.

The guards may not be his friends but they do respect him enough to let him enter unnannounced. And also to do him a small favor without question.

His father, still dressed in pajamas, is seated by a window where the early morning light spills in, casting a pale yellow glow over the open pages of his journal. He looks up at Castiel questioningly, fountain pen poised mid-air. "Castiel?"

"Father." Disregarding etiquette, Castiel approaches the king without bowing or addressing him officially. He doesn't even sit so as to be as it the same level as King Charles. He towers over the man, holding himself rigid, knees locked and arms straight by his sides. "Sam Winchester will not be participating in the ritual tonight."

"What?" The king’s eyebrows draw together in confusion. "What are you talking about boy?"

"I'm not a boy, father. I haven't been a boy for years.”

The king shakes his head dismissively. "Well, you're certainly acting more like a child than a grown man now. And why on earth are you babbling about Samuel Winchester."

"Listen to me father!" Castiel spits, years of frustration and anger are boiling below his skin and his only fear is they'll consume him before he can make his feelings clear. "I've had enough. I will not allow you to continue making foolish decisions...decisions that ruin lives, that hurt people."

The king's face slides from confusion to stony displeasure. "I make decisions that benefit my country, my people."

"Tearing the Winchesters apart, and humiliating Prince Dean? That has nothing to do with the good of Heaven."

"It will bring peace."

Castiel huffs out an exasperated breath. "No, handing over Raphael brought peace; the turning of Dean Winchester only kindles more bad blood between neighbors that should be friends. That were once friends."

"John Winchester was a traitorous bastard, and no friend of mine." The king rages slapping his pen down carelessly on the table and rising to his feet. "And it was Winchester that declared war on us. The old fool started this whole bloody mess."

"After your cousin killed his wife! If you had extradited Raphael in the beginning, all of this would have been avoided."

"I’m not going over this old ground with you again, Castiel! It's done. A treaty has been signed." His father turns away from Castiel as though dismissing him, and paces across the room.

Castiel stands his grounds, inhales and exhales shakily, fights to adopt a calmness he doesn't feel. "A treaty that demands the suffering and degradation of a man who has done nothing wrong."

"He killed my son!" The king yells, spinning back, a red hue climbing up his neck.

"He did not."

"He helped lead the Winchester army into battle. He helped his father seize our lands. He fought against us. He-"

Castiel cuts him off with the plain truth his father must accept. "He did not kill Michael."

"He was responsible. Him and his father."

Castiel's calmness is deserting him, his even tone degenerating into blunt anger. "Then you are just as responsible. You sent Michael into war. You and Zachariah. You sent him to attack the Winchester outpost. Did you expect them not to defend themselves?"

"I...I..." The king stutters, face now violently red. "Zachariah assured me the mission was a simple one. That the outpost was scarcely defended. That-"

"Zachariah!" The mention of the man shatters Castiel's last fragile sliver of patience. "How can you not see? How can you not see the ways in which that man manipulates you? He's a snake, Father. A self-serving deceitful snake! He doesn't care about Heaven, about our people. He cares about himself. And you're a fool for trusting him. For sitting back and letting that scum make decisions that result in war and death and hatred!"

"Don't raise your voice to me, Castiel."

"Yes, Castiel, I think you forget your place." Castiel had not heard Zachariah enter, but as he'd asked Inias to fetch him, his appearance is no surprise. Twisting around to face the man who secretly thinks of himself as the real power in the room, he straightens his shoulders, and takes a deep breath to regain some modicum of self-control. "No, Zachariah. I believe you have forgotten yours. I am son and heir to the kingdom of Heaven. You are an advisor, nothing more."

"You are a child. An ignorant naive boy. You aren't fit to fill your father's shoes. And I doubt you ever will be."

"I am a man, Zachariah. One with my own mind. And I will be king. And Dean Winchester will stand by my side and we will rule Heaven - together."

"Do you hear him?" Zachariah snorts to King Charles. "Do you hear what the young idiot is saying? I told you he was soft on that Winchester whore." He turns back to Castiel, "Winchester will never stand by your side, you imbecile; he's an omega. A maggot. He's barely fit to breathe the same air as the ruler of Heaven. He can kneel collared and cowering at your feet, or be chained naked to your bed, or locked in the stocks to entertain the troops, but he will never stand by your side."

"Is that why mother and Gabriel left?" Castiel asks his father quietly. "Did you tell them the same thing? That because he presented as omega, your own son wasn't fit to breathe the same air as you?"

"He wasn't my son!" The king hurls back. Castiel sways, stunned, reeling like his father has just slapped him. "Your mother, that...that slut, she spread her legs for someone else, for half the damn palace apparently. I could never...never...have fathered an O. I'm a Royal alpha. The king of Heaven. My blood line is pure."

Castiel stares in disbelief at his father. "Of course Gabriel was your son. He looked more like you than any of us. He was almost your double as a child. His eyes were the same exact shade of hazel as yours, his nose the same shape, his ears even stuck out the same way."

"It's not possible," The king shakes his head adamantly.

Castiel can't belive that his father, an intelligent man, can be so dangerously ignorant. "Of course it's possible. Where do you think omegas come from? They all have alpha fathers. They are the same blood as us, they're no different. It's just a fluke of genetics, like a switch getting flicked off or on. Every alpha blood line has omegas in it somewhere."

"No!" The king paces again, talking down to the floor now, rambling. "No, he wasn't, he couldn't have been my...my....boy. She must have.....he said....he said-" Suddenly the king stops dead and turns to Zachariah, pointing. "You said. You said it proved she was disloyal. You said the boy presenting as omega was divine punishment for her betrayal."

"You're not listening to him, are you?" Zachariah says, stepping towards the king. "He's lying. The O was not your son...she-"

"She loved you," Castiel interrupts. "Mother loved you even though she didn't always agree with you, even though she wanted some things to change. She said you were a good man, that you were just so steeped in tradition you couldn't always see that change was necessary. She said you were the best father we could ever hope to have. She was devoted to you, to us, and to Heaven."

"No! No, that's not...she loved me?" King Charles sounds confused, lost, the cornerstone of his beliefs crumbling in front of his eyes.

"This is ridiculous," Zachariah snarls before Castiel can speak, "What difference does it even make if he was your son. The boy was an O."

"He was my son." The king's says. "You knew he was my son, and you lied and about her...but why?"

Zachariah is the one pacing now, sweat dripping down his flabby face. "I lied to make it easier for you. He was an omega, an embarrassment. He needed to go and she....she....wouldn't have allowed it. She was already trying to talk you round. Filling your head with omega rights nonsense. Trying to persuade you to overturn decades old laws and traditions. There would have been chaos if she'd succeeded. She would have brought the country to its knees. I did what needed to be done to keep the throne safe."

"What did you do?" Castiel asks.

"It's none of your damn business, boy!"

"Then tell me," the king demands.

Zachariah gasps and splutters, but finally admits, "I told her to leave. I told her to take her disgrace of a child and leave before the guards arrested her for treason and I had her son sold on the market."

This is...I can't..." The king stutters, wobbles unsteadily and leans his hand against the wall for support as his knees threaten to fold beneath him. "You...you...came to me and told me that my wife had betrayed me. You told me she'd even screwed around with John Winchester. You told me she had been making a fool of me for years and I believed you. You were my most trusted advisor. My friend. And I believed you. Good god."

Castiel watches the color leech from his father's face, mottled red to deathly white, as he stares at Zachariah's bulging eyes, looking to find answers, or maybe a simple apology.

Unrepentant, Zachariah doesn't appear to appreciate how tenuous his position has become. "I've always done what was best," he insists. "I've made the decisions no one else was strong enough to make; given the orders that defeated our enemies. I've kept this country great."

"You had no right to make any decisions." Castiel says as his father simply gapes open-mouthed. "No right to do anything. You're an advisor to the king. You hold no power."

"Of course I have power." Zachariah rants, his ego outstripping his sanity. "If it wasn't for me-"

"If it wasn't for you, my family might still be whole." The king says, finally regaining his senses. "If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't have lost my wife and son, would never have gone to war. If it wasn't for you Michael would still be alive!"

"You have to see reason. Everything I did was for you, for the throne-"

"Castiel, call the guards," the king commands. "I want you gone, Zachariah. Out of my sight. And if I see you again I will have you arrested."

Castiel all but runs to the door, calling on Gadreel and Inias. Zachariah is bearing down on the king when the three of them rush back, his arms wind-milling wildly as he tries to convince the king to reconsider. The guards seize his arms, one on either side, forcing him out of the room backwards, his desperate claims of innocence deteriorating into a barrage of insults and threats as they drag him away.

"Father," Castiel says, not quite believing what has happened despite witnessing it with his own eyes.

"Just...just give me some time, Castiel. This has all been....well...it's a lot to take in."

"Father, Prince Dean-"

"Castiel, I can't...I can't...the ritual must go ahead. It's too late now to stop it anyway, and if I'm seen to back down, after agreeing to this and signing the treaty, it will make me look weak. Do you understand, Castiel. I can't afford to look weak....especially not now with Zachariah."

"But father," Castiel pleads.

"We'll speak later. I promise. But I need time to think. And to plan. I can't stop the ritual, but do what you can to make it easier for the prince. Offer him comfort. Ensure his family can see him. I'll allow you free reign to look after him. He is to be your husband after all."

It's not as much as Castiel wanted, but it's more than he dared hope for. He thanks his father profusely, all the way out of the door, then takes off at a sprint before realizing he doesn't know where Dean is. It's fortunate that he all but trips over Lord Benjamin, the bear of a guard, Dean's friend and cousin, who's been so protective of the prince. He can tell that the guard isn't sure about disclosing Dean's whereabouts but when Castiel insists he has a message from Sam, Lord Benjamin finally relents and shows him the way.

When he sees there is only a single guard posted outside the small guest room that Dean is sequestered in, and that he's one of Heaven's, Lord Benjamin curses most imaginatively. He raps on the door, shouldering the soldier out of the way when he tries to prevent him. Castiel opens the door while Benny's fist is raised to knock a third time, pushing his way in.

He doesn't know what he expected to see, but it certainly wasn't Doctor Alastair pinning Dean, naked and whimpering, to the floor.

 

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White sparks flash behind Dean's eyes, pain ricochets up his ribs, and explodes in his chest. "Dean, Dean, Dean." Alastair exhales, hot and foul, in his ear. "I'm going to take such good care of you."

That might be easier to believe if the sadistic bastard didn't have one hand wrapped around Dean's throat and the other crushing his dick so hard that Dean can feel it in his spine.

"I've trained a lot of bitches, Dean, but you...you're special. I can smell it. And I'm going to-"

"Get away from him!" The roar comes just seconds before Alastair's hands are ripped from Dean's body. Dean rolls onto his side, curling into a ball and gasping for breath, in too much pain to consider doing anything remotely helpful. In too much pain to even pay much attention to the drama unfolding around him.

That's why he doesn't witness an enraged Cas grappling with Alastair. Doesn't see the anger in his eyes or hear the savage fury in his cry. Why he doesn't see the moment Alastair reaches for a knife, and Cas responds by smashing him over the head with a brass bedside lamp. Why, he doesn't even notice Benny yelling for help, and Alastair's limp body being dragged from the room, with Meg, kicking and hissing obscenities, in cuffs not far behind.

It's the reason he doesn't see Cas, panicked and breathless, stop just short of dropping to his knees beside him, his righteous fury fading to worry and uncertainty as he looks down.

The first thing Dean is aware of is the touch of fingers dragging through his hair and a familiar voice in his ear.

"Dean? Dean? Are you okay? Come on, brother, let me see you now." Strong hands roll him back over, careful not to aggravate any injuries. Dean knows it's Benny, would recognize that soft drawl and unexpectedly gentle touch anywhere. "It's okay, Dean. We've got you, just breathe. Deep breaths, come on, breathe for me, brother."

I am fucking breathing, Dean wants to say. But he can't because....shit, when did breathing become such a goddamn challenge?

"Is he okay?" Castiel says, his voice resonating like a plucked string in Dean's chest. "A doctor, we should...I should go and find a doctor. A real doctor."

"Relax," Benny says, his hand shifting to rub circles across Dean's shoulders. "Kevin's fetching Doc Rufus. He's a surly old bastard, but trustworthy. He's patched up Dean more times that anyone can count."

Dean can feel concerned eyes on him, but no-one speaks. The silence isn't heavy, or awkward, just calming. Finally, when breathing takes less concerted effort, Dean uncurls and allows himself to be manhandled so he's sitting upright, knees bent, Benny's steady bulk at his back. He opens his eyes to be met with Cas staring down at him, his head tilted and teeth worrying at his lip. There's a blanket in his hand, obviously stripped from the bed and now that Dean's aware and vertical, Cas carefully lays it over him. It's far too late, Dean thinks wryly, to worry about preserving his modesty. It's not until the warm wool touches his skin that he realizes he's shivering, and with a grudgingly grateful nod to Cas, he pulls the blanket a little snugger around himself.

"Alastair?" Is the first thing Dean asks, his voice a ragged husk.

"Gone," Castiel says. "For good this time. I'll make sure of it, I promise you."

Dean nods, his hand unconsciously rubbing at his throat.

"Water," Cas says in response. "I'll fetch you some water."

Dean watches as Cas almost trips over himself in his haste. He finds a glass and a pitcher of water on a dresser, sloshing it over himself as hurries back to Dean. "Here, you should probably just sip it." Cas doesn't take his hand off the glass, just holds it steady as Dean swallows, the cool water divine against his throat.

"I'm so sorry, Dean." Cas drops down to his knees, holding the glass of water in front of him still. "This is all just such a mess."

Dean stares blankly, not entirely sure what exactly Cas is talking about; Alastair? The peace treaty? The ritual?

"We need to talk." Castiel says.

Dean would rather not.

"I need to piss." It's obviously not the response Cas was looking for. That doesn't make it any less true, or any less urgent. Embarrassingly, getting to his feet is more of a struggle than he expected and Benny has to practically lever him upright. Frustrated with his own feebleness, Dean shrugs off Benny's support and scowls at Cas until he backs off too, then like a drunken ape, lurches erratically to the door he really really hopes leads to a bathroom and not a cupboard.

 

Pissing is not a pleasant experience. And Dean's incredibly glad he sat down on the toilet. If he'd been standing, his legs surely would have collapsed when his dick caught fire as his bladder finally let go. Dean already has enough problems and absolutely no desire to clean up that kind of mess. He curses Alastair again as he hisses through the stinging pain and waits for the agony in his genitals to subside. It takes a while for him clean himself up and regain his composure enough to face Benny and Cas. He doesn't look in the small mirror above the sink when he washes himself, doesn't think he'll like what he sees.

He wraps the blanket around himself again and limps back into the bedroom, aching all over, groin aflame, and the plug in his ass grating against sensitive skin with every step he takes. When he sees Doc Turner standing waiting for him instead of Benny and Cas he almost turns tail in retreat. He's not nearly quick enough however, and before he knows it the doc has him flat on the bed again. Unlike Alastair's, his examination is clinical and professional. His manner is brusque, but his hands are gentle and he tactfully ignores the way Dean initially flinches at every touch. When he's done, the doc pulls the blanket up over Dean once more and then allows Cas back in the room.

"Lord Benjamin's dealing with some security issues," Cas explain shuffling back into the room, not quite able to meet Dean's eye.

"Okay, so-" The doctor starts, only for Cas to cut him off.

"Maybe I shouldn't be here. If Dean would rather have Prince Samuel or his father here-"

"Then Dean can speak up; he has a tongue inside that thick head of his." Rufus says, looking at Dean in question. Dean shrugs. He doesn't see any reason to drag his dad or Sammy into this clusterfuck; they've enough to deal with. "Besides, boy," Rufus turns his attention to Cas. "You're gonna be responsible for this idiot soon, you may as well start looking after him now."

"I can look after myself, you old goat," Dean bristles; he's not a damn child, he's capable of taking care of himself.

Unimpressed, Rufus stands hands on hips, and pins Dean with a withering glare. Dean hasn't seen such a fiece expression on the doctor's face since the time Dean punched his fist through a window. That was a week after Queen Mary died, and rather a painful blur for Dean.

"Well," the doc barks, "It sure don't look like you're doing too good a job of it from where I'm standing."

He doesn't give Dean the chance to argue that none of his current injuries are self-inflicted, thank you very much, just steams right on. "Okay, I know you're hurting, but there's no permanent damage. Alastair bruised you up good, but with ice packs, rest and the meds I'm gonna give you, you ain't gonna be feeling much for the rest of the day."

"I don't want drugs," Dean says petulantly, still rather peeved at the doctor's bossiness.

"Boy, do I look like I'm debating this?" Doc Turner roars. Dean shrinks back under his blanket, thoroughly chastised. "Now, I've got creams that'll numb your ass tonight, so you can get through the ritual without feeling any pain, and you are gonna take a sedative as well as the painkillers beforehand so you're relaxed enough not to tense up and do yourself any more damage. There ain't gonna be a problem with that, is there?" The doc pointedly asks Castiel.

"Absolutely not, Sir," Cas replies, sharing a wide-eyed look with Dean that suggests he's as intimidated by the doctor as Dean is. Smart man.

"Now, I'm gonna be frank here, boys, and you might not like it, but tough shit. I'm not happy about this whole situation either. The way I see it, this ritual is gonna go ahead no matter what."

Cas and Dean nod, neither very happily.

"So, as far as I can see, the best thing all round is for it to be over and done with as soon as possible."

"I thought it took a week?" Castiel asks.

"On average it does, but we can speed it up. Now Alastair was a sadistic son of a bitch, but the drugs he gave you are effective at kick-starting the turning process. If we push things along, I reckon we can have it completed in another three maybe four nights."

It's not much, it still means days of humiliation ahead of him, but a tiny flare of hope does spark up inside of Dean.

"Really?" Cas says, eyes flicking to Dean's. "That...that would be good. Well not good...easier perhaps. How? What would we have to do?"

"Well, this is the bit you ain't gonna like. Alpha semen. Lots and lots of it. In everything you eat and drink. Absolutely everything. No sly sips of untainted water, no bites of food that aren't liberally doused in alpha come."

Dean knows his face is screwing into a grimace.

"I know it don't taste too pleasant, but as...as..." Rufus starts to stumble over his words and for just a second seems uncomfortable before quickly slamming his professional detachment back in place. "As the turning progresses, you'll start to find the taste less bitter."

Because good little omegas love the taste of alpha spunk, great.

"You need to keep plugged up with too, constantly, as much as possible." Rufus says, unable to meet Dean's eyes now. Which works just fine for Dean, because this is a topic he's not too comfortable with either.

"The more Alpha semen you have inside of you, the faster this will go. You need to keep plugged up all night, then after you...clean up in the morning, it'd be best if you get filled up again straight away. We can do it with a syringe if you don't want-"

"Okay, okay," Dean says, only just resisting the urge to bury himself under his blanket compltely. "I'll do whatever you want, just as long as we don't have to talk about it anymore."

"Well, that's fine by me," Doc Turner says, obviously relieved. And that's why he's Dean favorite doctor; he likes talking about awkward crap as much as Dean. "I'm gonna fetch some painkillers and supplies. Maybe you boys should talk some while I'm gone."

Dean scowls at Rufus's retreating back. Traitorous bastard.

"I'm s-"

"Please don't say you're sorry again." Dean sighs.

"I am though, Dean. I'm sorry for your suffering. For what you have to go through. I'm sorry that Alastair got anywhere near you. I'm sorry that my father and Zachariah forced you into this. I'm sorry that I can't stop it. But - and I'm sorry if you hate me for saying this - but I'm not sorry that we're together again. I missed you, Dean."

Dean says nothing, doesn't know quite what to say. He's missed Cas too. And he can't deny the tug of want in his guts when he looks at the gorgeous man his friend has become. Or the comfort his familiar blue eyes brings. But so much has happened. And so much is still to happen. They're not children now, and the people of Heaven aren't renowned for their kindness towards enemies or omegas. Dean's very aware that Cas's expectations of their future together are unlikely to mesh with his own in any way.

"I've talked to my father," Cas continues when it becomes clear that Dean's idea of talking doesn't stretch to actual talking. "He's starting to realize how wrong this all is. I know it's rather late, but he has given me permission to make this as easy as it can possibly be for you." Cas takes a steadying breath, and a step towards Dean. "I talked to Sam this morning."

That grabs Dean's attention like nothing else ever could. He listens attentively as Cas relays their conversation and then goes on to elaborate on what took place with Zachariah and King Charles.

It's a lot to take in, but as Cas explains the morning's events, - and God is it really still morning, it feels as though days have passed since Dean first woke -  Dean very slowly begins to relax. He thought, deep down, that Cas was still the same kind, staunchly loyal, friend he always was, but now he knows he is for sure. And the despair Dean was desperately trying to hide suddenly doesn't feel so all-encompassing. In fact, if circumstances had been slightly kinder, Dean would be ecstatic right now to have his friend back. Unfortunately, the circumstances can't be changed, not significantly.

"Thank you," Dean says when Cas finishes speaking and looks expectantly at him. "For getting Sam out of it. The kid would have had nightmares for years and I would have hated that more than anything."

"You're welcome." Cas says, again waiting for Dean to continue.

"I'm not sure what you want me to say, Cas." Dean admits. "What do you expect of me? What do you think is going to happen when all this is done? When I'm your omega?"

"When you're my husband," Cas corrects Dean. "I hope that you'll stand by me. That when I become king you'll be my consort. I hope that together you and I can bring peace and stability to our lands."

"Together? You mean me kneeling at your feet? Your collar around my neck and your brand seared into my skin."

"No! God, no, Dean. That's not what I want. I promise you. I want you as my equal. My friend."

"And your omega? Your broodmare?"

Castiel huffs in frustration. "No!"

"Yes," Dean stresses. "You can't ignore it, Cas. No one else will. I'll be an omega. Your omega. And like it or not, the laws in your land mean that I'll be treated like a dog and respected less than one."

"Then we'll change the laws." Cas snaps.

"Just like that?" Dean bites back. "Hundreds of years of hate and bigotry and you're just going to outlaw it?"

"Yes, I will."

"How?"

"I'll find a way. We'll find a way."

"Why?"

"For you." Castiel says.

Dean raises his eyebrow and Cas quickly amends, "And because it's wrong. Fundamentally, it's wrong. Omegas should have equal rights."

Dean considers Cas thoughtfully. "I want to trust you, Cas, I do. But, it's been years since we were friends. You don't know me anymore. And I definitely don't know you."

"I've not changed, Dean. And I don't think you have either, not really. You still care about Sam more than yourself. You're still kind and brave and ridiculously bullheaded, and you still have the most stunning eyes I've ever seen."

"Cas, I don't-"

"Just a chance, Dean." Cas begs. "Just give me a chance to prove myself to you, please."

"Cas," Dean shakes his head, can hear the exhaustion in his own voice. "It's not that easy. I hurt like hell and my head is a fucking mess. There's all this crap goin’ on, and I don't understand half of the political bullshit even on a good day, and shit, man I've not had a good day for weeks now."

"We're both on paths chosen for us, Dean." Cas closes the distance between them, until he's standing right by the bed, aborting a move to place his hand on Dean's arm when Dean twitches, unintentionally but noticeably. "Free will isn't a luxury we've been given in this mess. What we have got is each other. Let me help you see this through. Let me have your back, Dean."

Dean wants to say no. His pride and Winchester stubborn streak mean his instinct is to fend for himself. He doesn't need to lean on anyone. Doesn't want anyone to see him when he's in pain or afraid. But Cas is gazing at him so earnestly, and the more Dean looks at him, the more he sees the little boy that took his hand and led him out of the maze. The boy that dried his tears and carried his weight after he fell from the branch of a tree, bees still buzzing around his head. He sees his friend Cas. And he's missed him. And just maybe he can have him back.

"Okay," He says. "Okay. That...that's....okay."

It's hardly a declaration of love, but Castiel's face lights up with a blinding smile and Dean thinks that just maybe the future doesn't look quite so bleak

 

The rest of the day passes in a blur. Doc Rufus doses him up with painkillers, sedatives, and whatever else he can scrape up from the bottom of his bag, until Dean's head feels like it's stuffed full of cotton candy and his body is pleasantly numb.

Cas stays doggedly by his side for most of the day. When he has to step out Benny takes his place. Dean wants to say they don't need to babysit him, frankly he's so drugged up he spends most of the time asleep anyway, but when he wakes up, or lucidity makes a brief appearance, it's reassuring to know he's not alone. Not that he'd ever admit that. Not unless he was smashed out of his head on drugs anyway. Oh yeah...that might explain why Cas smiles all goofy at him, and Benny ruffles his hair like he's a damn puppy.

Dean couldn't tell you much of anything about the ritual that night. He knows he doesn't put in an appearance at the banquet beforehand. He's so out of it, he'd land up face first in his starter. He thinks it's Benny that leads him into the hall when it's time, and Cas that helps him on to the breeding bench. Time and focus fade in and out for Dean. One second Cas is telling him to relax, and the next someone else - Cain, Dean forces himself to remember it's Cain, his friend - is pushing into him, whispering soothingly in his ear. There's no pain, maybe a little discomfort piercing through his drugged fog, but mainly Dean feels a total disconnect from what's happening. He even drinks down a cup of warm salty liquid, not registering what it is until it's sliding down his throat.

He wishes the whole ritual could pass with such little drama.

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The next morning passes in much of the same way. Rufus plies him with pills for the pain, pills to ease the sickness which is making it almost impossible for Dean to keep down any solids, and pills to help him relax. The constant buzz stops Dean from caring about the too-private examinations, the anaesthetizing creams, and vials of alpha semen being injected into his ass, and the come mixed in every single thing that passes his lips, but it also means he misses out on seeing Sammy and his father when they visit him. When he learns about the missed visit, he complains bitterly to Cas and Benny that they should have woken him, but they swear blind that they tried to rouse him. "Hell, brother, a herd of elephants could have clog-danced through the room and you wouldn't have noticed," Benny snaps at him eventually.

At midday when Rufus hands him more meds Dean refuses point blank to take them. The resultant shouting match is one sided, but Dean's sullen silence speaks louder than words. And despite Rufus's yelling, Benny's reasoning and Cas's cajoling, Dean remains adamant. He's not hiding inside his head any longer. Not if it means he's so unaware of his surroundings that he can't even talk to his brother, never mind look out for him. That confession almost earns him a head slap from Rufus, but Cas, ever the diplomat steps in. They compromise, something which they seem to be doing a lot of. Dean concedes to taking pain pills, and Rufus promises he won't sedate him unless he absolutely has to.

Without Rufus's knock-out pills, Dean feels more alert than he has in days, and although his body still aches in places, and there are dark clouds edging into his thoughts, he's feeling a little more like himself. He's also bored. Benny brings him books, courtesy of Charlie, but he doesn't have the concentration to read more than a couple of pages before he loses track and his mind starts to wander to places he doesn't want to go. It's Cas that brings him back. He sits on the bed beside Dean and just starts talking.

"You know, I always thought you were a rather goofy looking child. Your ears stuck out and your eyes were too big in your face. You looked a bit like a chimpanzee."

"Hey! I was a cute kid." Dean, whose thoughts were a million miles away, looks up, surprised by Cas's sudden appearance and random insult.

"And I think the first time we met I tried to scrub your face clean because I thought your freckles were dirt."

"I don't-"

"Although, in my defense I think at least half of them were."

"Well, at least I wasn't scared to get my suit dirty."

"That's because you wore shorts until you were eight years old."

"And that right there is why I don't do shorts now."

"Do you remember the time you fell out of the tree? I thought you father was going to kill me for letting you climb it."

"As if you could have stopped me."

"True, you always were stubborn"

"Damn straight."

"And possibly part chimpanzee."

"You're not funny y'know."

"Do you remember..."

And that's how they spend the afternoon; sniping at one another and reliving the few days they shared together that meant so much to each of them. It's also possibly when Dean realizes just how very much he's missed Cas. Missed his so-dry-it-burns humor, and his quick wit. Missed the dazzling smile that lights up his face when Dean finally manages to crack his poker-face and make him laugh. The afternoon passes easier with Cas by his side chasing away his darker thoughts. And when Cas has to leave to prepare for the 'celebration' Dean feels his absence like a missing heartbeat.

 

A short while later, when the time comes to make his appearance at the ritual that night, Dean wishes he was still blitzed out of his head on Rufus's good stuff. The only bright point is that Cas is there to help him through. As seems to be the new routine, Dean doesn't have to show face at the meal. He doesn't walk into the hall until they're ready for him; Benny escorting him and Cas helping Dean onto the breeding bench, adjusting it so he's comfortable. As comfortable as possible considering his circumstances. He stays by Dean's head the whole time, talking to him softly, distracting him from the harsh reality of what's happening. Harry is the alpha fucking him this time; Dean's second cousin on his father's side, Winchester blood but far down the line of succession and happy to be so. He's gentle and apologetic in his movements. Doesn't hide that he uses enough lube to ease his way, and gets himself off as quickly and efficiently as possible. When they're tied, alpha seed seeping hot and thick in Dean's ass, Harry stays as silent as possible, doesn't touch him more than necessary. And Cas takes Dean's hand in his, holds it steady, forces him to focus on blue eyes instead of the sound and scent of alpha's jacking off around them.

When it's all finished, when Dean's drunk down the alpha come that Crowley tips into his mouth, warm, bitter and vile, and when Benny and Cas have unstrapped him, helped him up and held him steady while he limped back to his holding room, Cas stays right by his side. Sits on a chair by his bed. Doesn't speak, just sits. Keeps watch, has his back while Dean falls asleep.

 

The chair's empty the next morning. And Dean tries not to feel disappointed that, rather than seeing Cas's bed-headed morning-crumpled face, he's woken by Doctor Turner prodding at him, a mix of pills in his hand and a bottle of cloudy water to wash them down with. Tentatively, Dean stretches out, testing his body for aches. He doesn't feel too bad; more like he's pushed himself too far during training than been beaten to a pulp. That's a major improvement, all things considered. He looks doubtfully at the pills.

"Just take the damn pills, Dean." Rufus says, knowing Dean far too well not to figure out what he's thinking. "These are just painkillers, not even strong ones."

There are some battles not worth fighting, not when Rufus is scowling like that so Dean does as he's told. The water, tainted with alpha come, is musty on his tongue, but not so bad that he can't swallow it down. Grudgingly, he lets Rufus examine him, getting through the very personal exam by humming Metallica in his head, drumming the rhythm out on the mattress with his fingertips. When he's free to go, he bolts to the bathroom, his legs trembling but at least his feet marking a more or less straight path.

He takes the plug out of his ass, grimacing as a thick glob of come trickles down the inside of his thigh, then he uses the toilet, showers, shaves and cleans his teeth. He walks out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist, hair damp and beads of water still trickling down his skin. For the first time in days he feels clean, fresh and completely clear-headed.

"Good morning, Dean. How are you feeling?" Cas is hovering by the bed trying so hard not to stare at Dean's chest that his eyes are almost crossing over. You'd think he'd never seen Dean naked before.

"Pretty good, thanks," Dean answers, honestly. "Whatever the doc's doing seems to be working."

"Ah, yes," Cas says, fidgeting with a small package in his hands. "He does seem competent despite his brusque manner. He...erm...he left this for you." Cas holds up a white paper bag. "It's alpha ejaculate, and a clean plug. He said you should....or that I should....for you."

Dean's stiffens. His immediate impulse is to tell Cas to go fuck himself. But as soon as the thought flashes into his head, Dean realizes how unfair it is. Cas is as much a victim of circumstances as Dean, and he's been nothing but kind for the past few days. Kind and caring and compassionate. In fact, if it wasn't for Castiel, Dean's not sure if he could have seen all this through, not without falling apart, not after Alastair.

Cas is looking at him like a wet kitten waiting to be kicked, and his scent, swirling through the air, stronger that Dean has ever sensed it before, is all sour nerves and tangy apprehension. Part of Dean still wants to grab the bag from him, deal with the embarrassment of shoving alpha come up his ass on his own. But another part of Dean, the part that's ruled by his heart and not his head, the part that wants Cas by his side when he falls asleep at night and opens his eyes in the morning, that part wants to reassure Cas and soothe him until his scent settles back into its usual comforting tones. The question is, is Dean ready to drop his walls, his last defenses and listen to his heart. Is he ready to ask Cas for help, for support. To accept they are in this together. That he doesn't have to struggle on alone.

"Okay...okay." Screwing up his courage , he lets the towel slide from his waist and drop to the floor. Bares himself to Cas completely. "What way should we do this? You want me on my hands and knees?"

"You want me to do it?" Cas gulps, eyes snapping to Dean's crotch and away again just as quickly, his voice squeaking half way through his question, and his cheeks flushing pink. He looks adorable when he's flustered. Dean almost laughs. And suddenly he realizes, maybe this doesn't have to be an ordeal. Doesn't have to be serious and somber. Maybe if Dean has control, does this his way, maybe it can be good - fun.

He brushes his hand across his collarbone, watching Cas's eyes trail the movement. He skims his fingers down his chest and over his nipples, and Cas's lips part on a gasp. When he works his fingers lower, down over his taut belly, then traces over his hips, Cas's tongue, pink and wet, pokes out of his mouth as though he wants to taste the skin. As Dean's hand wanders towards his crotch, he can see Cas's eyes darken, his gaze intensifying. And maybe it's cruel to drop his hands to his side before they reach their destination, but Cas's disappointed moan only encourages Dean more.

"Yeah, Cas," Dean says, voice huskier than he expected, maybe Cas isn't the only one affected by Dean's teasing. "You said you wanted to help me through this, didn't you?"

"Yes," Cas says, uncertainty giving way to something more urgent. "I'll do whatever you want. Whatever you need, Dean."

Cas's scent isn't sour now. It's rich and spicy, trickling into Dean's blood like an aphrodisiac. Calling to him in a way that Dean's never experienced before. It's as terrifying as it is thrilling.

He lies back on the bed, swallows down his nerves and spreads his legs. He wants to see Cas's face, his reactions. Wants to see how gorgeous he is when he blushes. How blue his eyes are when they're focused laser sharp on Dean and Dean alone.

Cas fumbles with the bag in his hand, almost dropping the syringe before he lays it safely down on the bed beside Dean. "Like this?" he asks breathlessly. The back of his hand barely skims across Dean's knee, but both men jolt at the touch.

"Yeah," Dean gasps. "Yeah, I want to watch you do it, Cas."

Cas is looking at Dean like he's every Christmas and birthday gift wrapped in one delicious package. Like he wants to devour him and protect him. Like he needs to shelter Dean in his arms and kiss him until he can't breathe.

Dean's never felt as powerful as he does right now. Not in bed, or in battle.

Dean slips a pillow from behind his head under his hips, pushing his ass up into the air. "Come on, Cas," he urges. "You can do it. Fill me up."

Cas groans, loudly. "Can I...can I touch you, Dean?"

"Gonna be hard to do this if you don't," Dean teases, brushing his thumb down the crease of his thigh towards his balls.

That's all the permission Cas needs. He doesn't rush to Dean's ass as Dean thought he would. He doesn't want to just fill Dean up with some strange alpha's seed in a clinical manner like the doc. When he asked if he could touch Dean, he meant everywhere. With reverential care, he takes time to chart every inch of Dean's body. His hands are soft as they trace patterns over old training wounds, a hiss of sympathy rushing from him as he presses carefully over the healed explosion of scar tissue on Dean's chest from a gunshot wound that looks worse than it was. Cas's face hardens as he notes the fresh bruises that too many people have left on Dean's body lately. "After this is all over, I'll kill anyone that leaves a mark on you." The words and tone pure alpha.

"Possessive much, Cas?" Dean chuckles.

Cas glares at him, pouting in a way that should look ridiculous, but Dean can only see as unbearably cute.

"I'm a big boy, Cas, a soldier. My body is always bruised. That's not going to change." There's a flash of something on Cas's face; an argument waiting to happen. This is not the time though. Not when Cas's fingers are trailing over Dean's thighs, marking a slow winding path down to Dean's hole. "Does it hurt?" He asks, brushing his thumb across it.

"Not really," Dean gasps at the curious touch, not from pain, but from something that feels a lot like anticipation. "The painkillers help and the cream. Today it's...it's fine." He finishes on a surprised inhale as Cas pulls at the rim, easing it open, staring at Deans hole intently. Dean can feel himself blushing.

"I hate that other people get to touch you here," Cas admits. "I hate that you have to do this."

"I know, Cas. I know. But it'll be over soon." Dean doesn't know when he became the one who was giving out reassurances. But Cas looks so serious, so torn. And so fucking hot. For the first time in weeks, with Cas between his legs, Dean's body is desperate for touch. For Cas's touch.

Cas leans down until his face is almost hovering over Dean's ass. Dean's stomach squirms, tendrils of want burrowing below the surface of his skin and Dean knows he's lost any sense of control. Knows that now is the time to call this off. To tell Cas no. But he needs, so fucking badly, for Cas to be the one touching him.

"And when this is all over Dean, what then? When I am the only one that gets to see you like this; will you hate me?"

"No! God, Cas, no. You have to know now that I could never hate you."

Cas hums, his tongue darting out between plush lips, and Dean feels his hole twitch, eager and wanting. "You want my mouth on you, Dean?" Cas asks, a glint in his eyes and Dean wonders how the tables got so easily turned on him. How Dean ended up so desperate. "You want me to slick you up with my tongue?"

"God, yes," Dean says, unable to drag his eyes away from the hungry desire in Cas's face. "Please, Cas"

Cas's mouth is on him in an instant. He grabs Dean's buttocks and spreads them apart, Dean's hole twitching desperately in need. Cas licks his hole with a fervor, chasing around the rim until it feels wet and sloppy and not nearly enough. Pushing his tongue inside, swirling and fucking him open, groaning when Dean bucks into it, chasing more. Dean's never done this before, never wanted to leave himself so vulnerable and open. There's nowhere to hide as Cas devours him.

Dean's cock which hasn't twitched in days starts to fill, hardening between his legs. Cas stops, holds the rim of Dean's hole open and blows, and Dean almost bucks off the bed. "So fucking hot, Dean. You have no idea." Cas says.

"Fuck, Cas." Dean moans, "You have to stop. You really need to stop."

Cas freezes. "What's wrong?" Worry, verging on fear clouds his face. "Dean?"

"I'm not..." Dean grabs the pillow under his ass, his fingers digging into the feathers and almost ripping the cotton covering. "I'm not supposed to come during the ritual. Not unless it's on the breeding stand. Not allowed to masturbate. Or fuck anyone."

"Why didn't you say?" Cas asks, his hands petting over Dean's thighs.

"Thought you knew," Dean groans. "And my dick's not exactly been up for business anyway, not after Alastair-"

Castiel growls at the name, cutting Dean off. "You want me to stop? You sure? I can make you come, with my mouth, my hand? No one needs to know, Dean."

It takes every ounce of willpower that Dean possesses to say no. But he does. He signed his name and honor to this agreement. If he doesn't stick to it, he's letting his king and country down as well as himself. Shit, they all better fucking appreciate it. Cas, bless him, doesn't try and persuade him when he says no. He just massages long deep strokes down Dean's legs, soothing rather than arousing. Then screwing his face up like it offends him, he eases the syringe into Dean's hole and fills him up.

Dean's cock wilts right then. And it's totally soft by the time Cas pushes the new butt plug in, thicker and deeper than the last one, trapping all the come inside of him.

"I wish it was me," Cas says. "Wish it was my come you were full of. Just me that could see you. I wish I could put an end to this whole thing now and make love to you like you deserve. Suck your cock until you screamed my name, and-"

Dean darts forward and stops Cas from talking with a kiss. Their first kiss. And it tastes of ass. He tries not to wrinkle his nose up, but by Cas's amused expression doesn't entirely succeed. "If you don't stop talking dirty to me, “ Dean says, wiping the back of his hand across his lips. "I might just kill you on behalf of my poor dick."

Cas laughs, leans forward and slots his lips over Dean's. This time Dean doesn't taste anything but Cas.

 

 

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 This is the fourth night of the ritual and as far as Castiel is concerned, it's gone on long enough. He doesn't know how much longer he can watch as Dean is violated in the cruelest of ways. How much longer he can hold his temper in check. He's never thought of himself as a jealous man, but watching other alpha's drooling over Dean like he's there only for their enjoyment is making him crazy.

After his father's change of heart, Castiel had managed to limit the time Dean has to spend at the ceremony each evening. He'd also adamantly refused to be parted from Dean's side either during the ritual or after. Crowley, lips stretched in a crooked knowing smirk, hadn't offered any opposition to Castiel’s demands and King John had taken Castiel aside to thank him for everything he was doing to help Dean. It doesn't feel enough though. Not when he has to watch Dean suffer night after night.

Hopefully, Castiel thinks as he helps Dean onto the breeding bench yet again, the end is in sight. If this isn't the last night, then surely the next night will be. Dean is doing everything asked of him. Every meal he forces down is laced heavily with come. Castiel knows that Ellen tries to disguise the taste with spices and herbs, but Dean still has to take anti-sickness meds in order to keep the food down; his body rebelling even though his will is not. Even the coffee Dean drinks is dosed. That out of everything is what Dean complains about most bitterly. Cas thinks Deans priorities may be slightly skewed when the ruination of his coffee is his number one grievance. Saying as much to Dean had almost ended with Dean's steaming hot coffee poured in his lap.

The more time Castiel spends with Dean, the more he learns about the man his friend grew into. Castiel already knew that Dean was strong and brave and self-sacrificing to the point of idiocy, but now he also knows that Dean loves his car more than is appropriate, that he can't function unless his blood is at least twenty percent caffeine and that behind the cocky walls he protects himself with, Dean is still the sweet, loving, impish, little boy he was when they first met. Dean is gorgeous, that much is obvious to anyone with passable eyesight. But now Castiel knows for sure that Dean’s more than starburst freckles, kissable lips, and sun-lit-forest green eyes. Dean's as beautiful inside as out. And the sexiest man Castiel has ever laid eyes on. And his scent...his scent is intoxicating, the taste of his skin addictive.

Castiel is besotted.

Dean was exponentially more nervous tonight than Castiel has seen him before. Which in turn is making Castiel more nervous. Dean is hiding his anxiety behind off-color quips and posturing and Castiel is trying to remain the dependable pillar of strength he's pretending to be for Dean's sake. Even Benny, steady as a rock and utterly unflappable, seems on edge, far more so than usual, as he stands guard. His fingers twitching on the ceremonial sword he carries, as he warily eyes the eager audience blatantly drinking in the sight of their prince, naked and vulnerable.

Christian Campbell is the alpha charged with fucking Dean tonight. He's Dean's cousin on his mother's side. Not Winchester blood, but royal and close enough family to meet the criteria. The man looks drunk as he struts towards the platform where Dean is already strapped down. Not swaying happy drunk, but mean arrogant drunk. Castiel dislikes him on sight; the sneer on his face as he looks at Dean, the cruel contempt in his eyes as unzips his pants and palms his erection. Thankfully Dean is well prepared to be fucked. Castiel slipped out his plug when he strapped Dean down, checking that there was enough lubrication - and enough of Rufus's numbing cream - to ensure that Dean would not be hurt. Christian doesn't stop to see if Dean is ready or not. He simply spits in his hand, rubs it over his dick and shoves straight into Dean's hole. He doesn't give Dean any time to adjust, just starts hammering away as though he's fucking a lifeless toy.

Dean - who barely makes a sound when he's on the bench, who is usually so proud and strong - lets out a strangled cry. His gaze flying up to meet Castiel's. Castiel kneels down so he can whisper in his ear, shushes him gently, strokes his fingers through Dean's hair.

Campbell slaps his hand down on Dean's ass, grabs onto his hips and pounds so hard that the stand shudders under the onslaught. The pain in Dean's features, the stressed tension in his muscles is greater than Castiel has seen since the first night. He scowls at the alpha who stares back uncaring.

"It's okay, Dean." Castiel whispers. "He won't last much longer. It'll soon be over. Just hang on a little while longer.

Dean makes a hurt sound, almost a whimper and closes his eyes.

"Fuck cousin." Campbell says, his voice loud enough to carry to the closest of their audience. "You are a tight ass."

Someone laughs nervously. Campbell grins. "Not such a hotshot now, Dean, are you? Ass in the air and hole filled with spunk. Not daddy's bravest little soldier now. Not even a man anymore are you, cousin? Nothing but a slutty bitch with a needy hole." He accompanies his remarks with another stinging slap to Dean's ass, and Castiel sees red.

"Open your mouth again, Campbell and I'll ram my fist in it." He hisses.

"He's not your bitch yet, Prince Castiel. If I want to put my cousin dearest in his place, you can't stop me." He punctuates the last few words with deep thrusts into Dean, his face breaking into a blissful grin when his orgasm rushes through him, his knot catching in Dean's hole. He doesn't seem to care about his pitiful lack of stamina, just drags his fingernails down Dean's back leaving angry tracks as he pulses inside of him.

Castiel wants to drag the bastard off. Wants to take him outside and beat him to a bloody pulp. It's only the fact that having the knot ripped from his ass would hurt Dean as much as Campbell that stops him from doing it.

"If I'd known your ass was this sweet, cousin I'd have put you on your back years ago." Christian says, leaning low over Dean now so that his voice doesn't carry.

"You've never been able to best me in a fight, Christian." Castiel looks at Dean in surprise. Dean has never spoken before while this was happening. Never said a single clear word while strapped down on the breeding stand. Usually he seems to pretend he's elsewhere, and Castiel can hardly blame him for that. Now though, the flush high on Dean’s cheeks looks a lot like anger rather than humiliation.

Christian swivels his hips and drags his knot back, stopping just short of yanking it from Dean's body. "Yet you're the one displayed on a breeding stand. You're the one that's going to be the omega whore of a Prince of Heaven."

"And I'll still be more of a man than you," Dean grits out. Castiel opens his mouth to add something but the fierce glare Dean gives him stops him short.

Christian's hand finds its way to Dean's shoulder, and Castiel can see red imprints blooming under his fingers. "You always were a spoilt brat, Dean. Always thought you were better than everyone else."

"No, just better than you," Dean snarks, his body all tense ligaments and straining muscle.

"Relax," Castiel leans low and whispers urgently in his ear. "You have to relax or his knot will never come free." He combs his fingers through Dean's hair, while trying to kill Campbell with the darkest of looks, hoping the man can see the murderous threat in his eyes.

He cannot. The moron. His eyes narrow in fury at Dean's defiance. "You're better than no one now," he spits. "You're the lowest of the low. Do you know what they do to omegas in Heaven, Dean? They keep them naked and on their knees, collared and leashed. They fuck them, breed them, whore them out and sell them like cattle on the market. You think if I offer a good enough price, I'll be able to buy your broken ass one day? Make you crawl back here so Sammy can see what became of his big brother."

Castiel is a heartbeat away from punching Campbell right there and then, but somehow even strapped down Dean is not defenseless. First he drops his head, defeat signaling in the slump of his shoulders. Campbell grins victorious. Then like a whip snapping, Dean throws his head back and smashes the back of his skull into Christian's gloating face. He catches his cousin's nose perfectly. There's a crack of bone breaking and a veritable fountain of blood cascading down over Dean's shoulders, streaming down his spine. Campbell rears back, explosive pain and shock punching the arousal from his body in one sudden blow. Knot shriveling and popping free, Campbell staggers backwards hands covering his face. Two seesawing steps later and he loses his footing, falling off the platform into a heap of flailing arms and limp legs on the floor.

Castiel almost cheers. Almost kisses the smug grin from Dean's lips. Thinks it might be best to free him from the stand and usher him out of the hall first.

Christian lumbers upright, cursing and yelling although his words are largely incomprehensible. Most of the hall are on their feet; King John and Prince Samuel barging through the crowds to see what's happening. Castiel loosens the last strap binding Dean in place quickly, and then steps directly between him and Christian, Benny moving to assist Dean, wrapping a robe around his shoulders.

"I wouldn't advise you to come any closer," Castiel warns, his fingers bunching hopfully at his side.

"Fuggin useless ass." Christian splutters, stumbling forward. "Can'd you control your dambed omega?"

Castiel's fist snaps forward as soon as Christian is within hitting distance, he did warn him. The punch lands with cruel accuracy on the bridge of the man's broken nose and he hits the floor with a high pitched scream.

"As you said, Campbell." Castiel shakes his hand out, that hurt more than he thought it would. "He's not mine yet."

Benny and Castiel help Dean from the room, protecting him from the almost riot that's broken out. Castiel watches as Dean's father and brother descend on Christian like a pair of avenging angels. First, they have to lift out of the way a petite blond girl who's kicking him ruthlessly in the side as though she's trying to snap each of his ribs in turn. They pass Crowley as they leave, standing watching from a distance. He doesn't attempt to stop them, just smirks knowingly as though he planned the whole thing. The man is insufferable.

"That was awesome," Dean sniggers as they almost run down the hall.

Castiel looks at him in disbelief.

"What?" Dean say, all wide-eyed innocence. "You telling me you didn't enjoy that even a little bit?"

"You're an idiot, Dean Winchester." Castiel deliberately avoids the question then tries not to join in as Dean's respondent laugh echoes down the hallway.

 

 Later that night, Castiel wishes he could hear Dean's laughter again. Rufus had attended to Dean in his room, effectively banishing the lightness in the air. Filling him with alpha semen, plugging him up because there hadn't been time or thought given to it earlier. Making him take long sips of liquid, more alpha come than water, forcing him with gentle hands and encouraging words, not to run straight to the bathroom and throw it back up afterwards.

He'd left them alone not long after. Castiel slumped in an easy chair by the side of Dean's bed, knuckles proudly bruised and Dean drifting off to sleep, painkillers easing the way.

The painkillers are not enough.

At first Castiel thinks that Dean is having a nightmare. It wouldn't be the first he's witnessed. Castiel, napping lightly, jumps awake to the sound of Dean groaning. He's curled on his side on the bed, knees tight to his body, blankets kicked to the floor, and sweat glistening on his skin.

When Castiel says his name, Dean doesn't answer, doesn't even seem to hear. He wraps his arms around his belly and whimpers. Castiel drags the back of his hand across Dean's forehead, swearing out loud when his knuckles touch fire-hot skin. Dean is burning up.

Benny's off duty tonight, ordered by Dean to sleep before he falls over. It's Cain, fierce with righteous purpose, guarding the door, accompanied by a row of Winchester guards standing weary watch in an even-spaced row down the hallway. Cain snaps to attention, looking for invisible threats when Castiel bursts from the room, panic in his eyes. "Doctor, we need the doctor," he manages to choke out. "Get Rufus here now." He runs back into the room, as Dean whines high and pained in the back of his throat.

By the time Rufus gets there, threadbare robe tied haphazardly over pinstriped pajamas, Dean is sobbing, his muscles trembling and skin mottled, and Castiel is frantic. He almost punches Rufus when he takes one look and says there's little he can do. It's the turning process. Dean's body under siege, battling to change, fighting to remain the same.

Cool damp cloths and an injection of hydromorphone are the best the doctor can do. The painkiller is the strongest he has. It doesn't stop Dean from writhing on the bed delirious from the fever. Doesn't stop his chest from heaving as he tries to catch his breath through the pain. When he goes rigid, shuddering and shaking, Castiel thinks his body is losing the fight to survive. It's a seizure, the doctor explains, unbelievably calmly, rolling Dean on to his side, and ignoring the spreading patch of urine as Dean's body fails him in another way. It's the only point that Castiel is glad Dean's too wrapped in misery to realize what's happening. It's not the last fit he has. Twice more Castiel's heart almost pounds out of his chest in fear as Dean convulses in the middle of the bed, muscles contorting into pained cords. Twice more Castiel wordlessly helps Rufus clean Dean up and change the bedding.

All night Castiel keeps watch. Swapping out warm cloths for cool ones. Talking to Dean as though he can hear every word and isn't lost in a world of pain and delirium. Time passes in stop starts. Seconds that tick by so incredibly slowly that Castiel thinks the world has ended. Minutes that skip by in desperate prayers. When morning breaks, so finally does Dean's fever. Benny comes barreling through the door just as the doctor declares the worst of it over, Dean asleep rather than comatose.

Castiel almost weeps in gratitude.

Dean looks suddenly younger, his face relaxed in sleep. The white bedsheets almost match the pallor of his skin. But pale, Castiel now knows, is so much preferable to flushed with fever. Vulnerable isn't a word often used to describe Prince Dean of Winchester. He's a warrior, smart-mouthed, brash and brimming over with coiled energy. Accustomed to being on display in front of adoring crowds from too young an age, he has an air of confidence that can be mistaken for arrogance. A smile that breaks hearts and hides a million secrets. Now, unusually still and silent, he looks fragile and defenseless, nothing like the man who would kill for his country, or his family. He doesn't look a day over his twenty two years. Barely even that. A boy. A boy who's suffered horrific injury and terrible injustice. Every instinct Castiel has, demands that he curl himself around Dean's sleeping form and protect him from any more hurt.

He's saved from Benny punching him in the face for trying to lie down with the sleeping prince without his consent by Rufus scraping his chair legs across the floor.

"He'll be out for hours," the doctor says, packing his supplies back into his bag. "I'm going to sleep. I suggest you do the same Prince Castiel."

"Is it over?" Castiel asks. "Is this the end? Is the ritual complete?"

"Nearly. Tonight should be the last night. Then tomorrow he should have his first heat, and the two of you should mate as soon as possible. In fact if I was you, I would get the arrangements in place. The kid isn't going to want to hang about when his heat hits. The first one is always intense." Rufus snaps shut the clasp on his bag and tries to smile reassuringly at Castiel. Considering his usual gruff manner, it's rather unnerving. "He's more omega than alpha now. One final push and this will all be over. Get some sleep, Prince Castiel. He'll need you later."

Benny literally shoves Castiel out of the door an hour later. Dean hasn't budged, hasn't even twitched in his sleep and Benny insists that if Dean knew Castiel was watching him sleep he'd think it was creepy as heck.

Half-dead on his feet, Castiel almost stumbles into King John as he wanders the hallways trying to remember where his room is. The king takes one look at him, grabs his arm and leads him in the opposite (and correct) direction, worry darkening his eyes. Castiel explains how bad the night had been, how close they are to the end. The king stops in his tracks for a moment, closes his eyes and inhales deeply. Castiel isn't sure whether it's relief or sorrow the king's feeling. Mind you, he's not sure how he's feeling himself.

"Castiel," the king lowers his voice and looks around them furtively as they finally reach the familiar door to Castiel's guest room, the glance he gives his guards firmly requesting they stay back. "You should know, Raphael has been speaking to our interrogators. In fact we can barely shut him up, he's been so keen to confess. He's laying blame at Zachariah's door. Says the king's advisor planned the assassination of Queen Mary, that he aimed to kill my whole family. He's insisting that Zachariah wanted a full scale war. It's not just my family he planned to kill, Castiel. He has inflated ideas of ruling Heaven. Not personally, but through a puppet king. He wanted rid of your brother, thinking you could be molded into a king he could control."

Castiel stares silently at King John, the words should be shocking, unbelievable, but they're not. They make sense in a twisted insane kind of way.

"Castiel, your father and I have talked."

Castiel's eyebrows raise of their own volition. "You talked...to my father?" He pinches the skin on the back of his hand, wondering if he has perhaps fallen asleep on his feet and is having a rather strange and unusually vivid dream.

King John quirks a half-smile, looks breathtakingly like Dean just for a heartbeat. "I know that sounds unlikely, but well...things have changed, are changing. Because of you and Dean mainly. Anyway, we've buried some of our differences. Are trying to find compromise in others. I know he threw Zachariah out, but we don't know where he is now. Or what he's planning. You need to be careful. I doubt he's going to take the unraveling of years’ worth of scheming calmly or rationally. Watch your back, and watch out for Dean. Please."

Castiel has a lot to think about when his back finally hits his mattress. Still, he's asleep within minutes.

 

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Dean feels like he's been hit by a tank when he wakes up. In fact, he feels as though he's been hit by a tank that then reversed back over him to make sure it hadn't missed. He actually takes a moment to figure out if that's possible, and is pretty damned relieved when he slowly - slowly because his brain has turned to mush and may be leaking out of his ears - comes to the conclusion that it's logistically unlikely.

Every single bone in his body feels bruised. From the ache spreading down his spine and radiating across his ribs to the pain throbbing in his fingers. Even the marrow inside his bones aches. There's a pounding in his head that explodes into a blinding agony when he briefly attempts to open his eyes, but that's nothing compared to the cramps pulverizing his guts or the pressure squeezing in his groin. He tries to ask what the fuck is going on, but it comes out more of garbled groan.

When someone presses pills to his lips, Dean swallows them down unquestioningly, chokes down the water tipped into his mouth too. Then, with a prayer of thanks, welcomes sleep with open arms when it comes to steal him away again.

The next time he wakes is not nearly as traumatic. His joints are stiff, his muscles aching and he's a little groggy, like he drank too much whisky then slept like the dead for too long. The sour taste in his mouth and whiff of stale sweat drifting from his own body backs that theory. Thankfully, the slicing pains and unbearable cramps are gone though, now he's just drained and limp from exhaustion.

There's no blinding headache when he open his eyes this time, only sunlight diffused through the curtains and Benny's face peering down at him.

"Hey, sleeping beauty," Benny greets him. "Bout time you woke up."

"Does that make you the beast, asshole?" Dean croaks.

"Wrong fairytale, brother. And I sure as heck ain't your Prince Charming."

"Where is Cas?" Dean asks without thinking.

Benny laughs, loud and explosive. "Don't worry, Cinderella, your sweet prince is just catching up on his beauty sleep. He'll be back soon to sweep you off your feet."

"Fuck you," Dean grumbles, too tired for a snappy comeback.

Benny takes pity and lets it go, standing quietly as Dean shuffles up the bed until he's sitting upright. "Coffee?" He asks hopefully.

Benny hums noncommittally. "How are you feeling?"

"Fine," Dean responds automatically, adjusting his answer to "like shit" when he takes a moment to think about it.

"U'huh," Benny nods and holds up a glass of water. "Think we'll stick to the water for now then. I don't fancy cleaning up coffee puke."

Dean's stomach rolls dangerously at the thought, and he takes the water with only a cursory grumble. He sips from the glass, ignoring the tremor in his hand, listening as Benny talks him through the night’s events. Dean remembers diddly squat. Thankfully. The tale does explain the residual ache in his limbs though. And the absence of Cas and Rufus.

Dean's not stupid; he knew this had to happen eventually. It's what they've been waiting for after all, the whole point of this bullshit ritual; his body to begin the transition. And sure Dean had noticed a few subtle changes happening; the hair on his face growing in more slowly and lighter, the darkening of his nipples, the softening of firm muscles, but he knew that at some point, the change was going to hit him hard and fast. He's not quite happy, but he does feel a sense of relief at sighting an end to the process.

Now, apparently, he just has one more night to get through. Dean looks at Benny, who stares straight back at him with an expression that says he knows exactly what Dean is thinking.

"You want me to see if it can be someone else, Dean?" His stance stays purposefully casual, his tone even, trying not to sway Dean one way or the other.

Does he? It might be selfish, in fact, there's no doubt that it's selfish, but no...no he doesn't. "Not really," Dean admits. "If you can't do it, I'll get it, man, but honestly, I'd rather it was you than anyone else."

"Sure thing, brother." And that's the last word Benny will say on the matter.

Benny stays while Dean lazes around and dozes for a couple of hours. Cas appears at some point with food for everyone. One of Ellen's fruity herbal tea concoctions for Dean along with tomato rice soup and some toast, pure comfort food. He doesn't even grudge Cas and Benny their chicken steaks when he smells the familiar aroma of tomato soup. The tea tastes like ass, but the tomato soup is delicious. The best thing he's eaten in days and gentle on his stomach. It's not until he's scraping the last smears of soup from the side of the bowl, that he feels Benny and Cas both watching him.

"What?" He says, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth in case he has a tomato moustache.

"Nothing," Benny says, eyes flicking away guiltily.

"You looked like you enjoyed that?" Cas says, but in a weirdly gentle way like he's talking to a kid.

"Yeah, it's tomato rice soup, man. Food of gods and kings I'm telling you. It was freaking delicious. Ellen makes-" and then Dean remembers. All his food and drink is laden with alpha come. All of it. The soup was no exception, that much is clear from Cas and Benny's non-too-subtle reaction. Well, shit. No getting away from the fact now is there. Dean's certainly not an alpha any longer. Cas and Benny are kind enough to change the subject when Dean catches up with their train of thought, but there's a sudden weight in the air, pressure like an approaching thunder storm and all of them are aware of it.

Later, after Benny leaves, Cas helps Dean to the bathroom. Dean tries to shake him off, but when it's clear his legs are as supportive as overcooked noodles, he sulkily accepts the support.

The changes to his body become apparent in the shower. The loss of muscle mass is obvious, his toned-flat belly is soft, his biceps and triceps smaller, his thighs slimmer. His legs are just as bowed as they always were, but now his hips are a little wider and his waist a little more defined. The loss of his body hair is startling, it was already patchy in places, but this time when he's finished scrubbing himself clean, his skin is butter smooth and there's a mass of hair circling around the drain. His dick....his dick is definitely smaller....the swelling around the base completely gone...and his balls are as small as a prepubescent child. Dean has to lean against the wall to stop himself from sliding to the floor.

He's omega, or as good as. It hits him like a knockout blow. He'll never be the same man again. There's no denying this, no hiding it, or hiding from it. It was one thing knowing it in theory, but actually seeing his own body change into one he doesn't recognize sends Dean reeling. His heart races in his chest, pounds in his ears, and before he knows it tears are dripping down his face and his whole body is shuddering.

Cas helps him from the shower silently. Folds a towel around him, eases them both to the floor and holds him as he shakes and weeps, passing him toilet tissue to blow his nose and wiping the tears from his face with the corner of the towel.

"Fuck," Dean gasps when the tears subside, the shock easing. "Look at me, Cas. Look at me."

"You're beautiful, Dean." Cas says, his arm remaining locked around Dean's shoulders despite Dean's half-hearted effort to shrug him off.

"I'm a fucking omega."

"And you're just as gorgeous now as you were when you were an alpha."

"I don't even recognize myself, man."

"That's ridiculous, Dean. You're just the same."

"Then you're blind," Dean spits petulantly.

Cas sighs. The kind of long suffering sigh Dean hears all the time, usually from Sam. The sigh that says 'why are you such an idiot'. "You have the same sparkling eyes that got you out of so much trouble when you were a child. You have the same slightly crooked nose that you've had since Benny accidentally caught you in the face with a baseball bat."

Dean narrows his eyes at that. When did that traitorous rat tell Cas about that?

Cas smirks knowingly, leading Dean to believe that's it's not the only story that Benny has shared. "You've got the same sandy hair," Cas continues. "The same pouting lips and the same riotous freckles. You've definitely got the same smart mouth and prickly attitude."

"Hey," Dean complains elbowing Cas in the ribs.

"As you would say; I'm just telling it like it is," Cas teases.

Dean relaxes back against Cas, lets himself be held. "I get what you’re saying, Cas. I do, it's just… I spent so long being strong, being a soldier. Training every single day to be the best, the fastest, the toughest. It was my job to lead my men, to protect my family, protect Sammy. Now, I'm weak and...and...vulnerable. What use am I to anyone like this?"

"What use-" Cas stares at Dean incredulously, then shakes his head. "Sometimes Dean Winchester I don't know what goes on in that stubborn head of yours."

Dean stiffens.

"There is nothing about you that is weak. You're still the same person who protects every one he loves. Who defends his country, his family. You're still the same strong man who sacrificed himself for the good of his people."

Dean looks away, refusing to believe the words. Not when he can see the changes in himself with own eyes.

Cas grabs his chin, forces Dean to look straight into the swirling tide of emotion in his eyes. Their mouths are just a breath apart. Cas's hand a burning brand on his cold skin. "Listen to me. You are not defined by the shape of your body or the size of your muscles. Your strength is in your heart, Dean. It always has been." Then his lips close the distance between them, crashing into Dean's, and they're kissing and Dean can't think about anything but how perfect Cas tastes, how delicious he smells, how much he wants him.

Cas pulls away, a flush high in his cheeks, his breath coming out in harsh pants. "One more night, Dean. Just one more night and this will all be over."

Or just beginning, Dean thinks. "Yeah," he exhales. "Yeah, let's do this."

 

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Cain and Cas escort Dean to the ballroom for the last time. There's a buzz of excitement in the air, more people stuffed in the hall than ever before. News has spread that the turning is almost complete. That this will be the last night.

Dean doesn't search out familiar faces, doesn't look for his father or Sam. He focuses on placing one foot in front of the other. Concentrates on not leaning too heavily on Cain's arm. Doesn't want anyone to see a hint of frailty in his steps. He may be more omega than not, but he tells himself, he's still Dean Winchester.

He shrugs off his heavy robe and climbs up onto the breeding bench unaided, stares straight ahead at Cas, soaking in the sight of his worried frown, startling blue eyes and misbehaving hair. Cain straps Dean down, spreading his legs wide and his ass in the air. He's proud that he doesn't flinch when Benny steps up beside him, his hand stroking down Dean's side like he's calming a frisky pony. He tugs at the stubby handle of Dean's plug and it slides out easily, leaving Dean feeling exposed and weirdly empty. Then, without preamble, Benny's pushing inside. Inching in gentle, carefully. His cock slipping in easily despite its weighty girth. Dean's ass is not the tight impenetrable muscle it once was, the alpha spunk trickling from his hole easing the way.

Benny mumbles in his ear, reminding Dean it's him that's there. Not a stranger fucking into him, but a friend. He's tender, almost reverential, his large hands spreading over Dean's skin, caressing him like a lover. He doesn't pound into Dean. He starts out slow, angles himself like an expert, hits something in Dean that elicits a low moan and a shiver. Benny concentrates on nudging that spot again and again, building up a steady rhythm until for once Dean can feel pleasure racing through his body. Although it's Benny pounding into him, Dean's eyes stay steady on Cas's, watching as sky blue is eaten up by dark desire.

Benny's pace quickens, his hips slamming into Dean, his balls slapping against Dean's, and then Dean can feel it, Benny's knot swelling, filling him up, catching at his rim.

"You," Dean gasps. Cas inches closer enough to hear. “You," Dean repeats on a grunt. "Want it to be you."

Benny comes with a drawn out groan, dragging Dean's orgasm from him at the same time, his cock spurting watery drops of come onto the floor below him. Cas's mouth covers Dean's lips swallowing up his moan.

For over a minute Benny comes, thick pulses of spunk filling Dean's belly. Much more than anyone else. And his swollen knot holds it all inside.

Crowley steps up as Benny pants over him, catching his breath and chanting Dean's name on every exhale. The glass in Crowley's hand is small, a shot glass, but full to the brim with alpha come. Dean's stomach turns at the sight of it. He's had enough of swallowing the spunk from faceless alphas. There's only one alpha's come that he wants in his mouth.

"No," Dean growls, looks as Cas. "Want you. Want to taste you."

"Oh," Cas says, shocked understanding evident in the drop of his chin. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, Cas, please," Dean begs.

Without hesitation or a hint of embarrassment, utterly disregarding every other person in the room Cas stands and frees his dick from his pants. It's fat, long and gorgeous, the head leaking pre-come and shining obscenely. Dean licks his lips and breathes in the scent of Cas's arousal. Cas jacks himself off, slides his erection through his fist, his eyes never leaving Dean. It takes less than two minutes until Cas's movements become jerky and Dean whines in anticipation, his mouth open, tongue hanging out, pleading to taste.

Cas comes in creamy ribbons, hitting Dean's mouth, coating his tongue, his lips. Dean swallows desperately, almost chokes on the greedy desire not to waste a drop. It tastes divine. Sweet and salty and....just like Cas....absolutely perfect.

 

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 Castiel wakes alone in his room, heart pounding out a frantic beat and a thrum of wrongness crawling across his skin. The distance between him and Dean is too great. He can taste the sweetness of his omega on his lips, the scent of Dean in his nose, swirling down his throat, seeping into his blood. He didn't realize this is what it would be like. Longing and craving. A protective possessiveness demanding that he not let Dean out of his sight.

Somewhere, at some point in the past few days, his life has been blown apart. The steady ground beneath his feet splintering away sending him spiraling into a glorious new world of possibilities. Of hope. And love.

A week ago he thought he was marrying for his country. A political marriage of convenience. One that, at best, was tolerable because it was to a man that he'd once called a friend. Now, today, he doesn't care about politics or even his country. All he wants is to marry the man he loves. In the most basic way possible he wants to lay claim to his mate, his omega. He doesn't want another alpha to touch Dean, to think he has any right to touch him, ever again.

It's not about ownership. Or maybe it is. But ownership that works both ways. Castiel wants to belong to Dean as much as he wants Dean to belong to him. Castiel wants Dean in every way possible, wants to bind their lives together irrevocably. And Dean, well....Castiel thinks he feels the same way. Prays that his desire goes deeper than pheromones and biology.

Last night, they'd had to be pried apart. Castiel wanting nothing more than to wrap himself around Dean and soak up his changing scent. Dean for his part had clung to Castiel as though his life depended on feeling Castiel's skin next to his. Doc Turner had issued sedatives and ordered separation and sleep. Bedroom doors had been locked from the outside and even more guards posted in the hallways than usual.

Castiel thought he might go mad.

Today, at last, he marries Dean. Officially sealing their union. Sealing the fate of their countries.

The ceremony is going to take place in Lawrence Cathedral, with the full pomp and circumstance that a wedding between two royal princes deserves. Certain guests from Heaven may well be expecting Castiel to claim his omega prince as Heaven's traditions dictate, with vows to control, shelter and discipline from Castiel and promises of submission, obedience and servitude from Dean. They'll expect to see Dean paraded past them in ceremonial white robes like a sacrificial lamb, before he strips naked and kneels at Castiel's feet. They'll expect to see that Castiel's brand has been seared into Dean’s flesh, a visible indisputable mark of ownership. They'll expect to see Dean collared and leashed like a pet dog. Publically humiliated one last time.

Those assbutts are going to disappointed. Castiel smirks to himself, and yes maybe a little bit of Dean's attitude is rubbing off on him.

The ceremony is set for three in the afternoon, leaving Castiel plenty of time to prepare. And a lot of time to worry. He almost jumps on Gadreel when the soldier brings him breakfast, demanding news of Dean. There's a hint of amusement in Gadreel's eyes when he relays information from Doc Rufus that Dean is awake, demanding Cas, coffee and fresh underwear - Castiel wonders where he actually came in that pecking order, presumably below coffee, but hopefully above underwear. Gadreel recites dryly, making it clear they are not his words, that Dean is just as impatient, smart-mouthed and pigheaded as normal. That sounds so much like Dean that Castiel actually smiles.

The royal tailors are next to knock at the door, delivering Castiel's suit and patent leather shoes. The only news they can tell him about Dean is that they spent all night on the alterations to his wedding outfit. Dean's new slim-line physique displeasing them almost as much as Dean.

King John visits him shortly after and a little later Sam appears accompanied by two friends, Jo and Charlie, who both apparently need to meet Castiel in order to issue dire threats to his health if he doesn't take care of Dean. Sam rolls his eyes and sniggers, but Castiel recognizes Jo as the blond haired wildcat that kicked seven bells out of Christian Campbell so he takes the threats as seriously as they are intended. Lord Robert drops in to see him next and then Castiel's father appears at the door. In fact Castiel barely spends a moment alone, and he suspects that Dean has a similar rotation of visitors keeping him occupied. At least they all confirm that Dean is doing well and the wedding arrangements are in place. Castiel thought his father might have some complaints, but the king has accepted Castiel's decisions without demur. Zachariah's deceptions have shaken him to the core. Made him question every decision and judgement he's made. Especially those concerning omegas, in particular his omega son. Castiel suspects his father will have a troubled conscience until he finds some way to atone for his actions.

 

Gadreel knocks on his door when it's time to leave for the cathedral, and Castiel looks in the mirror one last time to make sure his tie is straight. He has to admit that he looks, as his mother would say, dapper. Morning suits are definitely not his usual attire, but this one is cut beautifully; dark grey and made of the finest wool which drapes perfectly. His waistcoat is stunning; ivory with intricate embroidery in the same blue as his neck tie, and as the tailor had simpered, his eyes. Even his hair seems to be under control for once, although that might change by the time they drive to the cathedral.

Castiel sits in the back of the limousine with his father, a plain black police sedan bursting with security personal leading them, and another trailing close behind. Crowds line the streets, curious to see the two princes on their wedding day. The Winchester newspapers are mainly ignoring the fact that the wedding is supposedly more about politics than love. They're taking the opportunity to celebrate the end of a war with feel-good stories about two handsome princes joining together to usher them into a peaceful future. Someone even managed to dig up photos of Castiel and Dean together when they were children, leading to sentimental stories of them being childhood sweethearts. That's not exactly true, but at least the positive spin the press are pushing has turned the people of Winchester's previously ugly mood into something a little more positive. The lack of rotten vegetables splattering against Castiel's limousine is proof of that.

"Castiel," King Charles lays his hand on Castiel's forearm as the car draws smoothly to a halt. "I want you to know how proud I am of you."

Castiel swallows and tries to look the king in the eye. He's never heard his father say those words before, not once.

"You're a good man. Better than I. Fair and kind and courageous."

"I...thank you, father."

"Two years, Castiel. I'm going to abdicate in two years. That will give me long enough to right some of the wrongs I've committed and start the country on the route to change. And it will give you and Dean time to settle into married life."

"Father, I'm not sure what to say. That's...you can't...you shouldn't step down. There's so much more-"

"I want to step down." The king says firmly. "I'm not getting any younger and I...I believe the country needs someone younger, someone with vision and energy and determination. Heaven needs you, Castiel. You and Dean. Heaven needs you to lead it into a future where everyone has the same rights and advantages and where omegas aren't treated like slaves or...or pets. I've been a poor king, Castiel, a weak one. But you....you will be great."

"Father-"

"Two years, Castiel." The king smiles, almost wistfully, and squeezes Castiel's arm before signaling to the driver that he's about to step out of the limousine. "Make the most of them because then the hard work truly begins." The car door swings open letting in an almighty roar from the crowds surrounding them. The king adds one more thing before he alights from the car. "Oh, and good luck with your omega, I suspect he's going to keep you busy. If there's one man that can prove to Heaven that omegas aren't the weak and feeble creatures they believe them to be, I would say that it's Prince Dean."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." Castiel has to sit for a moment and let all that settle in, the noise of the crowd washing over him, a mix of jeers and cheers greeting his father. Deep breaths, three, two, one and then he steps out in his father's footsteps.

Half of Lawrence, the loudest half apparently, seem to have come out to see their prince marry. A mix of police and soldiers form a barrier between the crowd and the invited guests. Castiel is glad for their sake that the weather is glorious. He chances a wave or two to the crowd as he walks up the steps to the cathedral door, relieved when people wave back. A small girl balanced on her father's shoulders, with jumping pig tails and a gap-toothed grin, waves enthusiastically catching her father in the ear as she does. Castiel laughs and waves back, just to her. He hears a few angry chants aimed his way, but on the whole they're drowned out by good-natured cheers.

Castiel walks down the center aisle of the packed cathedral, sunlight streaming through the huge stain-glass windows casting a colorful hue over the proceedings. The congregation is a mix of royalty and VIP's, predominantly from Winchester, Heaven and Hell, although members of royal families from countries further afield have made the journey to be seen here. Castiel notes some familiar faces in the crowd as he walks by. Several of his cousins are here, and members of his father's council. Crowley is seated near the front, his mother by his side. The queen of Hell deigning to make an appearance now that the distasteful part of the ritual is out of the way. Her long waves of auburn hair are lit up like flames in the glow of light streaming through a pane of red stain glass. It's certainly eye catching. As he walks past, something else catches Castiel's eye; Crowley is wearing a kilt. And looking thunderous. "Stop pouting, Fergus. It's traditional." Castiel hears Queen Rowena say, her tart burr carrying across the pews. Castiel arrives at the alter steps snickering in the most undignified way.

Bishop Murphy raises his eyebrow and Castiel feigns a cough to cover his sins.

The wait for Dean's arrival seems interminable, although he probably arrives less than ten minutes after Castiel. That'll please the alphas from Heaven; it's unseemly for an omega to keep his alpha waiting. Castiel can guarantee it's the only thing about this ceremony that will please them.

The roar of approval from outside alerts Castiel to Dean's arrival before he gets the official nod from the bishop, and the organ starts playing the triumphant first notes of the royal wedding march.

Castiel knows he's not supposed to turn around but he's too anxious, too excited, to stop himself. His heart catches in his throat and his knees almost sag when he spots Dean walking proudly down the aisle, his father and brother on either side of him. Lord Benjamin and Sir Cain follow behind as discreetly as is possible for two giant bears of men, their eyes alert and fingers curling anxiously around the handles of their ceremonial swords. Dean's head is held high, his shoulders back and spine parade-attention straight, and even from a distance Castiel can see the spirit in his eyes. The fuck-you defiance in his attitude.

There are gasps echoing through the cathedral, audible even over the rousing organ music. Most of the guests are looking at Dean in slack-jawed awe, but some are staring at him in outraged shock. He's beautiful, there's no question. Even as an alpha he was a stunning man, but now there's something almost ethereal about his features. The green in his eyes is brighter, his cheek bones perfectly defined, his lips plush and so pink that if Castiel didn't know Dean better he'd be sure he was wearing lip gloss. He's dressed, to the obvious disgust of Heaven's staunch traditionalists, in his formal dress blue uniform. Sharply creased wool and perfectly polished leather and brass, rows of medals shining on his chest and a blue sash, almost identical in color to Castiel's neck tie, draping across his chest from shoulder to hip. The tailor's efforts have paid off magnificently. Dean's body may be slighter - less hard lines and more soft curves - but his uniform fits him like a second skin. Castiel struggles to breathe as Dean walks towards him.

King John and Prince Samuel peel away at the front of the pews, Cain and Benny having stopped some way back, leaving Dean to approach Castiel alone. The closer Dean gets, the stronger and more obvious his scent becomes. The sweet ripe scent of almost in-heat omega, more beautiful even than the aroma of the hundreds of roses that decorate the cathedral. Castiel's smelled omegas in heat before. Several alphas in his family own omegas and take great pleasure in parading them around while they are in the first flush of heat, showing how desperate and base omegas are, how dependent they are on their alphas to take care of them. None of them, not a single one compares to the scent of Dean. Castiel inhales deeply as Dean closes the distance between them and instantly a coil of hunger unfurls in his belly. There's a real chance that Castiel won't make it through the service without developing a raging hard-on.

"You're beautiful," he says, as Dean stops beside him, barely recognizing his own voice which has dropped an octave to a deep growl as lust washes through him.

"You don't scrub up too bad yourself, Cas," Dean grins appreciatively. "And you smell fan-fucking-tastic."

"Dean Winchester you'll be polishing the brass candle holders again if you don't watch your language." The bishop says in a hushed whisper.

"Sorry, Jim," Dean winks - winks - at the bishop. "I'll try and behave. Although," he tilts his head and whispers straight in Castiel's ear. "The doc's given me a shot to keep my heat under control, but God Cas, you smell good enough to eat; so, fair warning, if we're not out of here in the next hour I'm gonna ride you right here on the alter."

The service starts with a hymn and Castiel silently reciting the elements of the periodic table in order to talk down his erection. Dean, the infuriating jerk, smirks at his side totally aware of his problem. Castiel is torn between wanting to kick him and kiss him.

The bishop, obviously a friend of Dean's, conducts the ceremony with a welcome mix of humor and solemnity. There's no talk of alpha and omega. Only talk of love and the sacred union of marriage. Of respect, fidelity, devotion and loyalty. Castiel senses a portion of their guests growing restless behind him. When Dean reaches down and squeezes his hand, Castiel doesn't let go.

The moment the bishop asks, loud and clear - his voice carrying through the cathedral like a warning bell - if anyone present has any objections to the marriage, every muscle in Castiel's body coils tight. There's a rumble of discord, coughs and low grumbles, but no-one has the courage to stand up and be the voice of dissension.

The bishop stands for nearly a minute glaring at the congregation until silence descends in the cathedral. Castiel doesn't breathe the entire time.

When it's time to recite the vows there is no obeying, no submitting, and definitely no disciplining, only promises of love and respect. Castiel can't take his eyes away from Dean as he repeats his vows, hoping Dean knows that he means every promise he makes. That he would die rather than let Dean down in any way. Dean's voice develops a tremor as he speaks his own vows, his eyes overcome with a glassy sheen which Dean will later swear blind was not tears.

As the bishop declares them married in the eyes of God and the church, a weight lifts from Castiel's shoulders and a knot of pressure, that he didn't realize was there, eases in his chest. When his lips touch Dean's in their first kiss as married men, a sense of tranquility settles over him. Like the final puzzle piece has just slotted into place and he is finally whole.

Applause starts to echo in the cathedral, rising in volume until the crowds standing outside can surely hear it. Castiel and Dean turn to face their guests hand in hand, matching smiles lighting up their faces. Most of the congregation is on their feet. Most of them. A large section of guests from Heaven remain seated, sullen and even angry. Castiel lifts his chin and stares at them. This, he knows, is only the start of the battle. Even with the obvious support of his father, who is on his feet clapping proudly, too many people in Heaven will fight his plans for reform every step of the way. It’s one battle that Castiel thinks is worth fighting. One war he refuses to lose. And with Dean by his side, he's confident of victory.

 

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Looking out over the cathedral, Dean can feel waves of animosity creeping towards him. Sure, people are on their feet applauding, his family, friends, people he barely knows apart from names and titles, and Cas by his side is a source of pure love and joy, but still, Dean can see the face of some of his husband's - husband, huh, that's going to take some getting used to - countrymen and they look like they want God to strike Dean down, fry him to a crisp right where he stands.

Dean's not scared, shit no - it takes more than a few dirty looks to upset him, but he is nervous. Cas may have decided to shake up the laws of Heaven, strike a blow for equality and all that, he may even, bizarrely, have his father's blessing, but there are plenty of alphas who will fight tooth and nail to retain the status quo. When you're the top of the food chain, you're not going to just stand by and watch as your superiority is ripped away from under you.

Cas and Dean's union has secured the end of one war, but it's surely signaled the start of another. Dean squeezes Cas's hand, knocking their shoulders together and grins. He always did enjoy a good scrap. Let the self-righteous sons-of-bitches bring it on.

Now, though, now all he wants to do is get out of here and strip Cas out of that sexy-ass suit. Which is what he's been waiting to do since the second he walked into the cathedral and saw him standing on the alter steps, resplendent in his morning dress. He's always thought Cas was gorgeous, but with the sun shining down on him through the church windows, surrounding him in a celestial golden glow, he looked breathtaking. Unworldly. The contrast of his perfectly pressed suit and immaculately shining shoes, against the rebellious mess of his dark hair just made him even more irresistible. And his scent, the closer Dean drew to him, the harder it was to resist the urge to rub himself against Cas and soak in the aroma.

Tugging at Cas's hand, Dean walks down the alter steps; the organ springing to life and belting out a celebratory tune. It's not exactly Zeppelin but at least it's loud.

They don't reach the front pews before Dean spots movement from the corner of his eye. At first he thinks it's nothing. A photographer maybe, or an altar boy. But a second later he catches the brief but definite glimpse of the barrel of a gun. There's no time to think, only to react. He drops Cas's hand and twists his body towards the threat. Steps in front of Cas. Sees Zachariah, face swollen in rage, bearing down on them, the flash as his gun discharges. Dean doesn't stop, doesn't dive out of the way or duck. He charges forward, barreling into Zachariah and knocking him to the ground. Zachariah bucks and yells below him, gripping the gun tight and trying to aim it towards Dean. Dean grabs his wrist, tries to shake the gun free. Cracks Zachariah’s arm on the floor, again and again until finally the gun clatters to the ground and spins away.

"I'll kill you, you jumped up little bitch," Zachariah spits, his eyes slits in his face, his neck almost purple. "You've ruined everything. You and that pathetic wimp."

The satisfaction that Dean feels punching Zachariah in the face is short-lived before he's being dragged off backwards. Benny, Cain and two soldiers dressed in the white dress uniforms of Heaven descend on Zachariah, each of them keen to be the one to drag him away.

The blood is pounding in Dean's ears, adrenalin coursing through his blood, the taste of it bitter on his tongue. He fights off the hands hauling him backwards, wrapping around him from behind and holding him despite Dean's best efforts to rip free.

"Dean! Dean, please, it's over, it's over. It's okay, please let the guards deal with him. Dean, please." Finally, the words cut through the mayhem in his head and he lets the fight drain from his muscles; relaxes back into Cas's arms.

"God, Dean I can't believe you did that. You stupid brave self-sacrificing idiot! What if something had happened to you?" Cas is saying. They're sprawled on the floor, Dean's heart still thundering out a war beat. He's leaning back against Cas's chest, his head almost tucked under his chin, his legs spread out in front of him and Cas's hands wrapped around him holding him steady.

In front of them Zachariah is being wrangled out of the cathedral, kicking and screaming like a toddler in the throes of an epic tantrum. A very dangerous toddler. Around them it sounds as though a riot has broken out. There's uproar in the building, the sound of shouting and screaming echoing under the massive ceilings. Distantly Dean hopes the crowds outside can't hear the furor because God only knows how they'll react to the noise.

"God, Dean, he might have shot you. He could have killed you. What would I have done then? What would I have done without you?" It's at that point, just when Dean thinks they need to get up off the floor, that he needs to calm Cas down and bring some sort of order to the proceedings, that he happens to look down at himself and see the dark patch of blood soaking through the shoulder of his jacket. The wound isn't serious. It's his arm for god’s sake, it's probably just a graze, at worst a clean through and through, it doesn't even hurt. Although, now that he's noticed it, it does sting a little bit. The thing is...Cas's scent is already sour with worry. And there's enough panic unfolding around them without adding to it. And frankly he doesn't want to be the damn fool omega who went and got himself shot.

He decides that if he ignores the fact he's bleeding, no one else will notice either. It's not a great plan, not even a good plan, but it's the best he can come up with on short notice.

"It’s okay, Cas, I'm fine," he smiles reassuringly, fakes casual innocence.

"Dean," Cas sobs, and Dean can feel his husband's chest hitching beneath him.

"Seriously, Cas. I'm fine. Come on, we can't lay around here all day. We've a party to get to and a marriage to consummate." Dean tries to stand, but with Cas's arms locked around his chest it's not so easy. "Cas, come on," Dean urges and finally Cas gets with the plan, pushing up onto his feet and helping Dean up along with him. The transition from horizontal to vertical makes Dean's vision blur for a second, and his stomach flip flop dangerously. It also ramps up the level of pain in his arm from ow-that-stings-a-little to holy-fuck-that-burns-a-heck-of-a-lot. He clasps his hand over the wound and prays that they can at least make it to the car before he needs to disclose his small but bloody problem.

Now that he's on his feet, if not entirely steadily, he can see the scuffles breaking out across the cathedral. A few of King Charles' advisors - ex advisors hopefully - are yelling at their Winchester counterparts. Zachariah's assassination attempt pushing them over the edge of sense and reason. Crowley is leaning back against a pillar with his arms crossed watching his mother pin a spluttering alpha to the floor, her stiletto heel on the verge of skewering his throat. Uncle Bobby has Cas's uncle Metatron in a headlock, and at the back of the cathedral Jo and Charlie are sitting on someone who’s wearing a Heaven military uniform. Sam and John are crowded around Dean and Cas but looking outwards at the melee, ready to beat back anyone that approaches. As weddings go it's certainly lively.

"This is a house of God!" Pastor Jim's, or rather Bishop Murphy's, voice carries clear across the cathedral, cutting through the ruckus like a flaming sword. "Calm yourselves and act like the respectable people you purport to be."

The noise settles a little, but still squabbling can be heard. "Enough," Jim yells, pulling a small pistol from under his cassock and firing it into the air behind him. "This is no way for civilized people to behave in a church."

A dumbstruck silence falls. And that, Dean decides, is their cue to leave; turning to Cas he grins. "Come on, husband let’s get out of here."

Cas's face pales. Oh shit, Dean thinks, what now. "Dean, are you bleeding?"

"No," Dean lies, barefaced and badly, guiltily letting go of his arm and trying to look nonchalant. He still thinks if he plays it cool he can get away with this. Unfortunately he doesn't take into account the amount of blood now coating his hand, and dripping in a dramatic scarlet rain on to the floor.

"Dean!" Cas cries throwing himself forward. "You've been shot!"

That's when all damnation breaks loose.

 

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"If you ever ever do anything that stupid again, I'll kill you myself." Cas fumes pacing back and forward across the bedroom. Dean's old bedroom, with his own gloriously comfortable bed and its massive king-size mattress. And the memory foam that had welcomed him back with a warm embrace.

"Do what? Stop someone from killing us both?" Dean snaps back, scowling at Rufus as he wraps the bandage around his shoulder just a shade tighter than Dean thinks is necessary.

"No! Lie about the fact you're bleeding to death right in front of me."

"I was hardly bleeding to death," Dean rolls his eyes. "It's just a scratch. I've had worse."

"You were shot, Dean. Shot!"

"He'll be fine," Rufus says standing up. "The wound's not too bad, now we've got it cleaned up and the bleeding stopped. It'll heal up just fine. He was lucky."

"Lucky!" Cas yells. "Lucky! He was shot...on our wedding day....how is that lucky?"

Dean shifts in the bed, uncomfortable for a reason that has absolutely nothing to do with his shoulder. Angry Cas is hot. Especially when he's yelling at someone that is not Dean.

"I just meant it could have been a lot worse," Doc Turner says. "And don't you shout at me, it's not my fault he threw himself at a speeding bullet. Stupid fool thinks he's superman."

"Batman," Dean corrects, he never did enjoy the superman comics. The dude is far too squeaky clean, and an alien for god’s sake, he has an unfair advantageous, superhuman strength and shit, and what's with that kryptonite crap. "If I’m gonna be a superhero, it's gotta be batman. Dude is cool as-"

"Dean Winchester!" Cas turns on him again. "Now is not the time to discuss make-believe superheroes. You...you...are not indestructible or invincible and you don't-"

"Well, I'm gonna leave you two lovebirds to it." Rufus says, hastily packing away the last of his med kit. "Try not to ruin my hard work. I don't want to have to redo all those stitches. Not when there's a party to go to."

Cas sees Rufus to the door. "Stay," he points at Dean. "Do not move out of that bed."

And see, Dean doesn't find the rough command in Cas's voice arousing because he's an omega, he finds it arousing because he's only human. And wild-eyed Cas in full-on protective warrior mode is sex-on-legs.

And then there's the added issue that the shot Doc Turner gave him this morning is starting to wear off. Awkward though it is, and as much as Dean doesn't want to think about the changes affecting his body, there's no escaping the fact that Dean is feeling a little horny.

"Well," Dean swallows and smiles, charmingly he hopes, as Cas walks back in the room. "At least we don't have to go the wedding feast now."

"Hmmph," Cas glares at him, unimpressed.

"Because I don't know about you, but if I never see the castle ballroom again it'll be too soon."

"Yes," Cas grudgingly agrees. "I suppose that is a very, very small silver lining to you being shot!"

"You're not going to let that go, are you?"

"You'd like that wouldn't you? Like me to forget all about the fact you lay in my arms with a bullet imbedded in your flesh and didn't think to mention it."

"I didn't want to worry you."

"You didn't want to worry me? You didn't want to worry me!! And you didn't think I'd be upset when you bled to death because you didn't want to worry me?"

"Well, well, well, first domestic, boys? Already? You two do move quick." Cas and Dean both look up in surprise as Crowley strolls into Dean's bedroom.

"What the fuck, Crowley?" Dean yelps, pulling the bedsheet up to cover his naked chest.

"Your charming doctor friend said I could come straight in. Knew you wouldn’t mind."

"What do you want?" Cas growls, while Dean registers what Crowley's wearing.

"Is that...are you wearing a skirt, Crowley?"

"It's a kilt," Crowley snaps, hands covering his sporran.

"Is that a purse?" Dean sniggers. "Oh god, a skirt with a little furry purse. That's cute."

"It's a bloody kilt, the traditional dress of my mother's people, you heathen....oh bugger off."

"Well, at least you've got the legs for it," Dean grins.

"What was it you wanted?" Cas asks again, looking at Dean with fond amusement which is a steep improvement on the murderous intent from a few minutes ago.

"Ah, yes. Well, Castiel, I've got something for you. A wedding gift...of sorts."

"Can't it wait?" Cas looks pointedly at Dean. "We are rather-"

"Hello bro. Long time no see."

Cas's head whips around towards the door. "Gabriel?" His voice is a shadow of itself, uncertain, disbelieving.

"Yeah, Cassie, surprise!"

Cas rushes forward, grabs his older brother, and crushes him in a hug that almost consumes him. Dean can only watch in shock. Gabriel's disappearance is the stuff of myth and legend. But, honestly Dean was sure the guy was dead. As far as Dean knows, no-one's heard anything from him in almost twelve years.

"You....how....I don't understand." Cas stutters, holding Gabriel at arm’s length and examining him. "You...you look good. Great. Not dead. How....where have you been? What happened?"

"That's a lot of questions, bro, and let me tell you it's quite a tale. But I don't think now's quite the time for it. Not when your blushing bride across there is smelling ripe for plucking." Gabriel leers at Dean.

"Hey, asswipe," Dean complains, yanking the sheet right up to his chin. "Keep your nose to yourself. And how the heck do you and the crown princess across there know each other?"

"Well, like I say, it's a long story and seeing as how I'm planning on sticking around, there'll be plenty of time later to tell it. Suffice to say, you boys weren't the only ones making friends and falling in puppy love when you were kids."

"You've been in Hell, with Crowley, all this time?" Castiel says, finally dropping his hands and stepping back. He looks like he's having a hard time wrapping his head around all this. It is a heck of a lot to take in.

"Most of the time bro, most of the time."

"And you're back now? For good?"

"Well, I'm not gonna disappear again."

"Why now?" Asks Dean. "Why suddenly appear again now?"

"You and Cas, Deano." Crowley says. "You boys are changing things. For good."

"When Crowley told me about all this, I flipped." Gabriel adds. "I didn't agree with the turning. Not that there's anything wrong being with an omega, but that ritual is from the damn Middle Ages. You should never have been forced into it."

"Gabe, sweetheart," Crowley says as though they've had this argument countless times before.

"Yeah, yeah, I know. It was either the ritual or Dean swinging by his delicate neck. Anyway, when Crowley told me that Castiel was taking part in this fiasco I couldn't believe that my baby bro had turned into a knot-head alpha just like our father."

"That was when I explained to Gabriel that you hadn't Castiel, and you're welcome. I knew you and Dean were our best chance to change things in Heaven. To get your father to see sense."

Cas finally manages to drag his eyes away from his big brother to give Crowley a bitch face that Sammy would be proud of. "So that was your game plan? And what if it hadn't worked? What if father hadn't listened to me? What if Zachariah hadn't given himself away? What if I'd just claimed Dean like they wanted.? What if-"

"Okay, okay, we know that things might have gone wrong. But nothing ventured nothing gained. If this hadn't worked out we would have come up with a plan B." Crowley waves his hand dismissively.

"And now what?" Dean asks.

Gabriel literally rubs his palms together, his face lighting up with what can only be trouble. "Well, seeing as how - thanks to Dean's human shield impersonation - you boys are skipping out on your reception, we figured now would be a good time to steal the show. I can't wait to see daddy dearest's face when his long lost omega son turns up."

"Gabriel," Cas asks hesitantly. "What about, mother? Did she....is she alive?"

"She sure is bucko," Gabriel slaps Cas on the arm. "Alive and living the high life back in Hell. She didn't think she'd be able slip into Winchester without being recognized, but she's looking forward to seeing you again, baby bro."

"This is unbelievable," Dean shakes his head. "Fucking unbelievable. How did no-one know? You've both got a lot of explaining to do."

"The crown," Cas suddenly blurts out. "You're the eldest son now. When father abdicates the crown should be yours."

Gabriel laughs. "No, you're good, Castiel. I'm sure you're gonna shake things up in Heaven but I don't think they'll be ready for an omega king for a decade or two or yet."

"But," Cas begins to argue.

"And I don't want it, bro. I swear. I don't want to be king."

Crowley intercedes, "Maybe you shouldn't rush into that decision."

"We've talked about this, babe. Your plans for world domination notwithstanding, I don't want to rule Heaven. I'll settle for being your consort when you finally get your hands on the crown of Hell."

"I knew it," Dean mutters almost to himself. "Knew he had to have an ulterior motive."

"This is...a lot to take in." Cas admits running his fingers through his already impressively mussed hair. "I'm not sure I know what to say."

"Listen, Castiel. I'm sorry...for leaving. For letting you think I was dead. I know you've not had it easy the past few years, especially with losing Michael too." Gabriel grabs Castiel this time. "But you've done good brother, really good. I'm proud of you. Proud of everything you've done. Standing up to father, for what was right. When I saw Dean walking down the aisle in that uniform, saw the pride in your face, the love, I knew you'd turned into the man I dreamt you would. You're going to be a great king. And you are a great brother."

"I...thank you," Cas gasps, gripping Gabriel in a hug.

"Okay, boys. It's time to break up the party." Crowley claps his hands. "You've still got work to do Cassie. Your marriage isn't going to consummate itself, and you know it's not legally binding until you and Dean do the dirty. And trust me, when the shit hits the fan, you're gonna want to make sure everything's legal and above board, contracts signed, sealed and delivered, i's dotted, t's crossed and omega well and truly fu-"

"Yes, thank you." Dean interrupts. "We get the picture."

 

Cas escorts Gabriel and Crowley out, hopefully locking the door behind them this time. Dean sits back and tries to digest all that information. One thing stands out; there are a lot of people relying on Cas and Dean to change the way omegas are treated in a Heaven. That's a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure. Thank god, they've got each other to lean on.

His wedding day has been a roller coaster ride; highs and lows, twists and turns, and Dean almost puking his guts up. His body doesn't know what the fuck is going on. His shoulder aches and he's exhausted. He might be experiencing the beginning of his first heat but the drive to mate has receded for now, a flicker of want rather than an all-out need to fuck.

"Dean," Cas says walking back in. "I'm sorry. This has been such a stressful day. For both of us. It's not the way I wanted it to go."

"Yeah, me neither," Dean says patting the bed beside him. "Come here, Cas. Relax for a while."

"Do you want to...copulate right now?" Cas looks as though he's asking Dean if he wants root canal treatment.

"You're real smooth, y'know that, Cas. That dirty talk's gonna get me all riled up."

"I'm sorry, Dean. I'm just tired and-"

"I know, Cas. I'm joking. Come on and lie down. I don't know about you, but I could use a nap around now."

"A nap," Cas says doubtfully, sitting down to untie his shoe laces before kicking off his shoes. "You just want to nap?"

"Well, not just nap," Dean admits hauling Cas into a comfortable position to snuggle with. "Cuddling might be nice too."

 

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Castiel wakes up wishing he'd taken off a few more clothes before he'd climbed into bed beside Dean. His tie is twisted around his throat almost choking him, and his shirt is soaked through, sticking to his back.

"God, Cas," Dean groans into the nape of Castiel's neck.

And that's when Castiel realizes that it's not him that's burning up, it's Dean, lying at his back, arms wrapped around Castiel like he's a giant teddy bear. Dean's heat has hit him full force. And God, but he smells divine.

"Dean, are you alright?" Castiel says, wriggling around so he can see his husband.

"Hot," Dean gasps, his eyes are open, startling bright and fevered, his pale skin flushed. "Need you, Cas. Need you, now."

Castiel rips off his own clothes first, throwing them on the floor in a way that would reduce his tailor to tears. Then he's stripping the last of Dean's clothes from his sweat-soaked body. He's not wearing much, loose pajama bottoms that he'd changed into and warm fluffy socks that Castiel had found tucked away in his bottom drawer. The bandage wrapped around his shoulder is still securely in place and perfectly white, not a spot of red, no infection or burst stitches.

Dean's cock is hot and blood-filled, not nearly as big as it once was maybe, but still beautiful. And, for the first time, there's slick dripping down between his thighs. Sweet smelling, like honey and cream, drawing Castiel in. He can feel his own cock filling just with the pheromones seeping from Dean.

Castiel is kind of terrified. This is Dean's first heat. Their first time together. He wants this to be good. Wants to wipe away the memory of every other alpha that laid his hands on Dean. Most importantly, he wants to make Dean happy.

"Dean, are you sure about this?" Castiel mumbles against the skin he's licking, unable to hold himself back completely. "Sure you want me to do this?"

"Fuck, yeah, Cas." Dean groans thrusting his hips up into the air. "M'on fire. An'you smell so good, Cas. Want to taste you too. Want you filling me up and knotting me. Want it be you, Cas. Just you and me from now on."

"Yes," Castiel exhales. "I promise, Dean. Just you and me from now on."

Castiel covers Dean's body with his own, rubs against him until they're both sweat-soaked, sliding against one another, skin to skin. His mouth presses against Dean's, his tongue licking the salty tang of sweat from Dean's lips before nudging deeper, moaning when the taste of his omega explodes inside his mouth like sweet sparkling champagne.

They kiss for long minutes, soft gentle kisses while they grind against each other like teenagers, taking the time to explore each other's mouths, each other's bodies. Dean is so sensitive. So responsive. Every spot that Castiel touches sends shivers racing through him. When he brushes the pads of his thumbs across Dean's nipples, Dean whines into his mouth, bowing up into the touch. Castiel tears his mouth away from Dean's, leaving his lips swollen and eyes blown dark, and scrapes his teeth across a puffy pink nipple. Dean cries out, grabs Castiel's head and holds him there.

"Again, again. Fuck do that again." he demands.

Castiel does, again and again. Licking, nibbling, scraping his teeth across one nipple and then the other until they look inflamed and sore, but Dean's whimpering with pleasure and leaking so much slick that the bed sheets are ruined.

"Want to suck you, Cas," Dean gasps. "Wanted to get your dick in my mouth ever since I saw it. Please, Cas."

Castiel's cock twitches against his belly just at the thought of Dean's lips, soft and plush, wrapped around his dick.

He licks a path up Dean's chest, over bursts of delicate freckles painted like gold on silky pale skin. He nuzzles under Dean's jaw, kisses him deep and needy. Then, with Dean grabbing him, encouraging him with hoarse demands and greedy hands, he kneels over Dean's head, leans his palms on the wall for balance and lets his cock nudge against the seam of Dean's lips.

Dean wastes no time, doesn't even start off slowly, just swallows Castiel down like he's desperate. He moans around Castiel's cock, grabs hold of his ass cheeks and forces him deeper until Castiel's cock is shoving its way down his throat. Dean's eyes grow wet, his chest heaving but he sucks Cas's cock with relish. The sounds he's producing making it nearly impossible for Castiel to last.

"Dean! Dean, you've got to stop. If you want me to knot you, you have to stop now."

Dean lets go, his hands dropping away and head falling back, lips forming the prettiest pout Castiel has ever seen. One that he has to kiss straight off Dean's face.

Then he works his way back down Dean's body. Stroking and kissing every inch of skin he passes, every freckle, every tiny mole, every faint scar and bruise, until he finally reaches Dean's cock. He licks over the velvet-soft head, takes it in his mouth and sucks, Dean's pre-come dripping down his throat like drops of nectar. Dean whimpers and curses, his fingers twisting in Castiel's hair. Castiel hums as the precious pearls of omega pre-come dribble into his mouth, delicious and almost addictive, but he can't resist chasing the taste of Dean to where it's sweetest. To where it's leaking copiously, enticing his alpha to breed him, knot him.

Pushing Dean's legs apart, holding his thighs wide, he chases ribbons of slick up to the source of the delicious scent, the divine taste. Dean's pretty pink hole is soaked with slick. Intoxicating, utterly irresistable. Castiel seals his lips over the glistening pucker and sucks, moans in satisfaction as the taste spills into his mouth, chases the slick with his tongue, swirling deeper and deeper into Dean's hole until Dean's begging for more. Until Castiel's cock is so hard it actually hurts. And suddenly he can wait no longer. He needs to take his omega now. Needs to knot him. Breed him full.

The first push inside of Dean is breathtaking. His muscles clamping around Castiel's cock, hot and welcoming, Dean's slick easing the way. Castiel doesn't hold back, can't hold back, has no restraint, no finesse, he just thrusts into Dean with unbridled fervor.

Dean spurs him on, his thighs clamping around Castiel's waist. "Knot me, come on alpha, knot me." Dean chants, bucking his hips up, meeting every thrust of Castiel's with equal urgency.

Castiel can't deny Dean anything, definitely not that, not when his body feels as though it's about to implode. Mouth crashing down over Dean's, Castiel pounds into him, crackles of electricity chasing up his spine, pools of heat spreading through his belly until, with a roar that Dean echoes, he's coming. Dean's cock spurting delicate beads of come between them, his hole clamping down on Castiel's cock. Castiel's knot swelling and filling Dean up, pressing against his sensitive insides, igniting a chain of orgasms that ricochet through Dean's body in a never-ending loop, until he's a limp panting mess below Castiel.

It's like nothing Castiel has ever experienced before. It's a thousand times better. A hundred times more intense. He can sense Dean everywhere. Taste him, scent him, he can feel the way his skin, so soft below Castiels's fingers, trembles when another pulse of Cas's come swells inside of him.

He has no idea how long they stay tied together. It could be minutes or hours. Eventually they roll apart, both flopping onto their backs utterly drained.

"That...that was fucking awesome." Dean sighs, a blissed out expression on his face.

"You are awesome." Castiel says, finding the energy to turn his head and kiss Dean on the cheek.

They lie in silence for a few minutes, both trying to catch their breath. Castiel attempts to work up the energy to get out of bed. They need to clean up, shower, change the ravaged sheets, replace some of the pints of fluid they must have lost.

Somehow he can't quite find the strength to leave Dean's side.

"How long do you think we have before we need to do it again," Dean asks. "Not that I don't want to do it again or anything, but I think I stink."

"You smell wonderful," Castiel says honestly.

Dean laughs, "Yeah, I think you might be biased."

"I think we have time to shower and strip the bed at least."

"And God, I need a drink, I'm parched. And hungry. Really fucking hungry now I think about it. You think there's any food left for us?"

"I would imagine so," Castiel smiles. "Maybe even some wedding cake."

"Yeah, cake would be good," Dean agrees. "Or pie, I bet Ellen made me some awesome wedding pie."

"You are spoiled, husband."

"Yeah, yeah. I know."

"Come on, then." Castiel sits up. "If you want pie you have to move."

"Mmmm, comfy here though." Dean says, rolling over onto his side and burrowing his cheek into his pillow. "Aren't you supposed to provide for me, big strong alpha?"

Castiel snorts and slaps his hand across Dean's naked ass watching in delight as it blossoms pink. "Oh no, you don't get to take a bullet, pretend nothing happened, and then act like a fragile defenseless omega. Get your ass out of bed, you lazy mooch."

"You're not going to let that bullet thing go, are you?"

Castiel looks at the crumpled bandage around Dean's arm. "No, I'm not."

Dean harrumphs, almost sits up, but at the last minute throws himself at Castiel, wrapping around him like a warm sticky, sweet smelling octopus and pinning him to the bed. "Okay, pie can wait."

"You're a secret snuggler aren't you," Castiel grunts, although he's not really complaining. Not about Dean plastering himself to his side.

"Nothing secret about it," Dean admits.

Castiel closes his eyes, ignores the way the sheets are gluing themselves to his back, folds his arms around Dean and relaxes. A smile stretching across his face.

He's nearly drifting off to sleep when Dean says hesitantly, almost shyly. "I love you, Cas."

"I love you, too." Castiel replies, belatedly realizing he's never admitted it out loud before.

"No, I really love you. I do. If I have to be this, be omega, I'm glad it's with you."

"Dean-"

"No, it's okay, it's fine, but Cas, there's something you need to know, something I should have told you before." Dean swallows nervously before finally spitting out what's bothering him." Cas, I don't want kids, not yet. I'm not ready."

"Okay," Castiel says, slightly puzzled but completely unfazed. Now that they're not in the full throws of mating, now his hind-brain is no longer in control, Castiel is happy to admit he doesn't feel quite ready to become a father either. Although, seeing Dean's body swell with child is something he's secretly looking forward to.

"Rufus gave me some meds." Dean confides, the worry obvious beneath his conviction. "I asked him to. Told him it was my body and my choice. They're birth control hormone pills. They should stop me getting pregnant."

"I see," Castiel says. "That's your decision, Dean. I understand."

"I want you to be okay with that decision too though." Dean says. "It's just...I want to get used to my body as it is. To get to know myself again, to learn my body, to like myself again. I need to do that before I can face getting pregnant."

"I do understand, Dean." Castiel says more forcefully, his hand tightening on Dean's back. "When...if...we have children, the decision is yours. No pressure. I promise."

"And the future is so damned uncertain. We have so much to do, to change, so many freaking battles to fight before we could even think about bringing kids into the world."

"And we'll do it, Dean...together."

"Yeah, okay." Dean says, settling down again in Cas's arms, apparently reassured. "Together. We'll do it all together."

Cas lets his eyes drift shut again, content that Dean is calm, happy and resting.

"But," Dean says two minutes later, mischief very obvious in his voice. Castiel sighs.

"If you wanted to get up and fetch some pie, you could totally do that on your own."

 

 

Finis

 

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