He’s done all the right things in the past. Showered with unscented soap, made sure his nails were neatly clipped and he didn’t meet the eyes of any of the alphas his family paraded past him. None of them had resulted in a successful pairing. It wasn’t that he was bitter – he’d already gone through that phase. It was more that the idea of just being Uncle Cas was something he wasn’t so happy about anymore. But it looked ridiculous for a man rounding his thirties to be acting like a twinky omega. So Cas just stopped caring.
Now he used the lemon and lime bodywash that foamed up and made his skin feel soft. He looked everyone in the eye – alpha, beta, omega, whatever. He still kept his nails manicured, but that was more because he liked the way it looked. He wasn’t rude to anyone who bought books from the shop he seemed to run, but it wasn’t like he was subservient either. Castiel liked to think he’d grown into himself. He met people, dated, even slept with a few betas, men and women. Nothing stuck but he had his books and his family and he was fine.
And he liked to tell himself he was happy.
Sometimes, in the very dark of the night, Castiel would wake and roll over and stare at the wall. Behind his eyelids questions danced, ones that accused him of being undesirable and wrong and broken. Ones that said he was going to die lonely and no one would care. And his heart would ache and he’d be unable to carry on, unable to breathe. He’d lie there until morning, watching the blank wall slowly lighten with the dawn’s light, and he’d make coffee and paste on a false smile to greet his neighbours on the way to work. He was happy. He had to be.
No one really knew where the Winchesters had come from. They’d rolled into town in a shiny black car that was in much better shape than either of them. It was unusual enough to find unmated Alphas, nowadays anyway, what with airplanes and cars and transportation. It was even more unusual when they were brothers. Sam’s broken leg had healed slowly – too slowly to be natural, at least to Castiel’s eyes – and they’d settled in his small town and immediately all the gossip about them seemed to seep through the foundations of the buildings and the cracks in the sidewalk. Castiel never knew who told him that Sam’s Omega had died and that Dean had never been mated but had dated Betas extensively. Really extensively. He could have predicted the stream of excited mothers parading eligible daughters, and not a few sons, past the Winchester boys. Castiel, well, he didn’t see them beyond the black car sweeping down the street in front of the bookshop.
Or, at least, that was the way his carefully ordered life was supposed to go.
There was something soothing in tidying the shelves, making sure that the books were in order and were straight and occasionally pulling one down to flick through, smell the new glue and binding smell that seemed hardwired to Cas’ brain to say pleasure and want and everything comforting in the world. Wednesday mornings were always quiet – there was a flurry of activity in the very early hours, mainly in the region of the café section, and then business slowed to a crawl and Castiel could leave his register and pick a section to lose himself in. Touching the stock, straightening spines, caressing shelves seemed to make him better at his job. He could find things more smoothly, know what a customer meant when they waved their hands in their air and referred to the book as green or blue or with a scribble on the front.
The soft cough behind him made him start. And he turned to find the still mysterious Sam Winchester behind him. It took him a minute to remember that he should probably say something. “Hello.”
“Hi. Do you… work here?” Sam sounded oddly hesitant. Castiel wondered for a moment if this was what happened when someone lost their omega. Then he chided himself. This man wasn’t a curiosity, a rumour to be listened to and dismissed.
“Yes. Can I help you?” Castiel eased up out of his crouch and pasted on his customer service smile which relaxed into something like his more normal smile when Sam made a mildly shocked, cynical face. Sam’s face was mainly open, smiling, but there was something guarded in his eyes, as if when he looked away he’d remember something that wasn’t quite right and the smile would slowly slide off his face.
“I need a book.” Sam laughed, a little embarrassed. “For my brother.”
Castiel sort of hated helping people pick books for other people. Especially when he didn’t know them. But it was a quiet Wednesday morning and there were no other customers to go pretend to serve. “Anything in particular?”
“He likes scifi.” Sam looked around the store, perhaps hoping a book would fall out of the ceiling.
“SF. Or Science Fiction,” Castiel corrected, almost absently, as he crossed under the stairs and found the genre section. “Space opera? Urban? Time travel?”
“He liked Vonnegut. When we were kids.” Sam seemed a little out of his depth. Castiel pulled a couple of books out – nice editions – handed them over and stepped back. Sam looked a little panicked but nodded. “Dean- Dean fell off the roof and he’s in bed and I can’t take his whining. I’m gonna need more than this.” Sam smiled again, shaking his head a little at his brother’s idiocy. Castiel nodded slowly.
“Anything else he likes?” Castiel turned slowly on his heel.
“The car? Junk food?” Sam wandered over to the history shelves and idly looked. “Maybe something about guns?”
For some reason the encounter with Sam Winchester continued to haunt Castiel. Sam had gone away with over a hundred dollars’ worth of books, buying an eco-friendly canvas bag to carry them all. He’d ended up with a few books for himself as well, which always made Castiel feel happy. If someone couldn’t resist buying books for themselves, there was a real chance that they knew what they were getting for someone else. Castiel found himself wondering if Dean had liked them as he bagged up his groceries and whether he’d already read the Heinlein as he chopped carrots. He was showering and would suddenly remember another book that Dean might like.
He wasn’t in the bookstore when he finally met Dean, face to face. Castiel wasn’t even in any of his usual haunts. He’d been dragged along to a live music night because his sister’s boyfriend’s brother was in the band and he was single and needed a life. Castiel had protested but he was quite happy to attend. He’d spent too long in his own head this week and a few beers and some music he couldn’t understand the lyrics of sounded just fine.
Naturally he was three beers down and with the world starting to soften at the edges pleasantly when Dean Winchester walked in. Castiel met his eyes and his heart seemed to stop. There was a pull in his guts, a not entirely pleasant one, as Dean came closer, unerring through the crowd. He was tall, not a giant like his brother, sure, but slightly taller than Castiel. And his green eyes seemed to be glowing.
Castiel had always thought that the eyes glowing thing, one of the vestiges from the were heritage, was myth. Instead he seemed to be finding the world brighter. Dean ended up standing way too close to him, well beyond the restrictions of polite society, and yet it wasn’t close enough. Castiel swayed closer, desperate to touch. A disappointed gasp fell from his lips as Anna wrapped her arms around him.
“Don’t, Castiel. Not here.” Her words were definitely words, an instruction. But it seemed like Castiel could no longer understand them. All his brain was chanting was Dean, Dean, Dean. He needed to touch, to feel. He wanted to wrap himself around Dean and never let go. One clear thought shot through his brain, a bolt of lightning. He was mated. He wasn’t an unattached Omega anymore. The twist in his gut soured, turned sharp and ugly. He didn’t want this, not really. He wasn’t just going to roll over, accept it. Then he met Dean’s eyes again and his heart turned over and his breath caught.
Dean looked to be in much the same predicament, eyes wide and hand outstretched. His brother was tugging him backwards, drawing him away and Castiel couldn’t take that. He struggled against restraining hands, feeling stronger and harder than he’d ever been before in his life. He was also completely insensate to the scene he was causing. He wasn’t Castiel the respectable bookshop owner. He was something else, transcendent. A warrior. But there were too many hands and he ended up being rather unceremoniously towed out of the bar and shoved into the back of a car. They even locked him in. Across the parking lot, he could see the black shape of the Winchester’s car, gleaming faintly in the street lights.
He knew he was letting out a sound again, a weak, almost animal sound, pitiable.
Anna climbed into the car beside him. “Castiel! Do you want them to come to you? Do you want to…?”
The meaning sunk in. It was everything he’d heard about, been prepared for since puberty and his status designation. “Mine. To me.” The idea of Dean stretched out on his bed, Castiel sprawled on top suddenly flashed through his brain. They wouldn’t be able to do that, not the first time, but maybe later…
Suddenly, that ugly twisting feeling curdled in Castiel’s stomach again. What was Dean like? What did he really know about him other than Alpha and his taste in books according to his brother? He had no idea if Dean would be a suitable provider or even what Dean did as a job. Guns? His car? Both those interests seemed a million miles away from Castiel’s interests. And what of Sam? How would he react to his brother suddenly not being his exclusively? Would he hate Castiel for taking Dean away?
There were usually conversations, arrangements, when a mating took place. But most took place when both were teenagers. Castiel had never heard of anyone his age being mated, not co-incidentally like this. It was one of the things that had sucked all hope, all colour from his life and made him accept and diminish. There were too many questions.
He also wasn’t sure he liked the loss of control his hormones was forcing on him.
His house didn’t look any different. Anna had shoved him in the direction of his bedroom, leaving him bereft. He didn’t know what to do. Should he undress? Should he prepare? The burning fuzz under his skin started up again as he thought about preparing, about stripping off and spreading his legs and fingering himself open like he’d done as a matter of course. But this time it wasn’t for a dildo, for his hand. This time it was for Dean. Even the thought of his name – his mate’s name – sent a pleased thrill through him.
Castiel heard the front door open and close, voices from outside. He was tempted to press himself against the door, listen to the low rumble that sent chills up his spine. Instead he was frozen in his paroxysm of indecision, unable to decide what to do, what to say, what to think. What to hope for.
He wasn’t given much more time to worry. The door to his bedroom slammed open and Dean strode through, all contained anger and fury. Castiel couldn't help staring, caught up in Dean's mesmerising eyes that were starting to glow again - just a little bit but enough to make Castiel wonder if his own eyes were also shimmering, a bright blue, sapphires. Then all that went out of his mind as Dean stretched out his hand, offering a chaste and unexpected handshake. Castiel had taken his hand before he even processed what was going on. The simple touch seemed to settle him. It felt right and good and as if everything was going to work out okay. Castiel tried to ignore the way his dick seemed to fatten up at the touch.
"You're Castiel? From the bookshop? You got those books for me?" Dean had a shy, slightly crooked smile on his face, like he didn't smile that often. Castiel wanted to kiss it.
"Sam bought the books. I just suggested." Castiel couldn't tear his hand away from Dean's, holding the handshake for way too long. Dean didn't remove his hand either. Instead his eyes searched Castiel's face.
"I read them all. Some of them, I read twice." The smile was more genuine then. "It was as if you knew me."
"I don't know you, Dean." Castiel leaned closer, drawn in. He knew he was acting purely on instinct and part of his brain was yelling at him to stop, to act like the man he'd become. Another part of him was gratified, soothed, by the fact Dean was shuffling closer too.
"I don't know you, either. I'd like to." The words definitely had the hard edge of lust but underneath there was something genuine, a little vulnerable. "I'd given up looking."
Castiel nodded. He knew how that felt. He also suddenly realised how hot he was, how ready. He shrugged out of his overcoat, letting it pool around his feet. Then Dean was on him, kissing. Outside Sam would be chatting to Anna and Balthazar. Maybe someone would call Gabriel. But here, behind his door, all that mattered was himself and Dean. Castiel raised a hand, asking permission almost, as he stretched towards Dean's clothing. Dean nodded.
It was as if time itself stopped. Castiel was right - they didn't fuck face to face the first time. Instead Dean draped himself over Castiel's back, kissing and petting and sucking marks as he rocked inside, gentle and completely at odds with his whole Alpha image. In a lot of ways it made sense to Castiel, as Dean whispered a shortened form of his name in his ear. Dean had looked after his brother, looked after the car, for crying out loud. And here he was, looking after Castiel. Dean looked after, cared for, things that were important to him. And Castiel was on that short list. The recognition of this fact seemed to set something free in Castiel. He relaxed, feeling the pressure of Dean's cock in him turn from pain tinged to something much closer to pleasure. He rocked back, knowing that the pressure at his hole was Dean's knot. Instincts Castiel didn't even realise he had rose to the fore and he ground backwards, meeting Dean's rolling hips. It was intense and intimate and oh so very very good.
Castiel couldn't hold back the cry that was punched from his lungs as Dean's knot finally slipped in. It was matched in intensity by Dean's own cry of "Cas!" and closely followed by the press of lips on the nape of his neck, on his shoulder. Castiel turned his head blindly, needing something, needing to be connected more. Dean obliged with a wet, sloppy kiss. Then he started to come, pulse after pulse of heat. The feeling, this kiss, the very smell of Dean all around him sparked Castiel's own orgasm, spilling his come over the dirty sweat soaked sheets. They'd need to make the bed afresh, soon. But for now, Dean guided them to the bed, holding Castiel close.
"I hope you don't mind," Dean whispered into his ear, soft. No one else would be able to hear anyway. There were no signs of life from outside. Castiel idly hoped Anna had turned off the living room light. He wasn't going to be moving for quite some time.
"Cas? No, I like it." Castiel threaded his fingers through Dean's hand, where it clung possessively to his stomach.
"Not... Well, that too, I guess." Dean let out a shaky laugh. "Being mated - bonded - to me? I know I'm not exactly a catch."
Castiel turned his head again. "I don't know you, Dean. All I know..." Castiel sucked in a breath. He couldn't see Dean's expression in the darkness but this was important. He had the sense this was about more than Dean acting cocky. "All I know is your taste in books. And I like that. What else could I need?"
A pair of lips brushed at his jaw, his cheek, before Dean shifted behind him and kissed Castiel deeply. “You need to try my pancakes?” There was still the touch of vulnerability, uncertainty. It was as if Dean was already promising that he and Sam could head out of town as suddenly as they’d arrived, take that big black car and go.
“Yes, I do,” Castiel replied, although he and Dean both knew he was answering more than just that simple question. Dean settled behind him and held on tight.