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  graphic by scarfcas

 


 

When Dean’s dad is especially drunk he sometimes talks about his mom.

It’s nostalgic, heartbroken rambling that doesn’t make much sense to a child, but it’s the only time Dean can ask about her and maybe get an answer.

They're in a motel in Falls City, Nebraska. Dean knows because he reads out the names on the map to his dad when he’s driving. Some of the names are hard to say, but Dean’s getting better. Yesterday they’d driven from Salina, Kansas. They’d had lunch in Topeka. His dad had said he wasn’t hungry. He’d sipped black coffee as Dean and Sam ate their sandwiches.

Sammy is asleep on the big bed in the middle of the room. They’d had fried chicken for dinner and he'd fallen asleep right after. Dean's allowed to stay up much later though. His dad lets him watch whatever movie is on TV and help clean the guns or pack more salt rounds.

John Winchester is drinking whiskey from a chipped coffee mug at the little table. Dean knows not to try and talk to his dad when he’s drinking straight from a bottle. The small motel mug is a sign that it's okay though - that he’s not going to start yelling, or worse, crying. Dean hates it when his dad cries. It’s way worse than when Sammy cries. Mostly that’s just annoying because Sam's a little kid and he cries all the time. Dean waits a little while though, scenting his dad carefully to make sure there's no a hint of salt under the  warm leather-woodgrain-gasoline smell that adds up to 'dad' in his head.

When he's sure it's okay, he comes a little closer. His dad looks down at him, smiles a little and ruffles his hair. "Hey kiddo."

“Dad?" Dean asks. "How’d you know when you met mom? That she was your truemate?”

He’s been wondering. The kids at the schools he’s never at very long talk about mates a lot. He and Sammy had been at a school in Wichita up till a few days ago and there’d been a girl in Dean’s class who’d followed him around at recess and said she was Dean’s mate. She was pretty and she’d shared her lunch with him, but she’d been kinda boring. She’d just wanted to sit around instead of playing with the other kids out on the field. Dean didn’t think he wanted her for a mate, but she smiled a lot and she smelled like flowers and her mom packed really good lunches. Homemade chocolate squares, PB & J sandwiches, slim jims and Cheetos. He felt a little guilty that he didn’t say goodbye to her, but he's pretty sure they aren't actually mates, that there's more to it than just telling someone.

“I saw your mom standing in her parent’s yard,” his dad says quietly. “I was driving past and I just happened to look out the window.”

Dean nods to show he’s listening.

“First thing I noticed was yellow. The sun was behind your momma and her hair was lit up all gold. I stopped the car and walked over to her. She was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen and she looked right back at me like she was thinking the exact thing.”

His dad falls silent, staring into the bottom of his mug. “You’ll know the second, the instant you lay eyes on them Dean. The world lights up and there’s all these colors...”

Dean knows about colors. He’s never seen them of course, but he’s learned the names in class. He knows trees are green and the sky is blue.

His dad sighs and it’s one of the big sad ones and Dean worries that he misjudged the whiskey thing, that he’s gonna cry. “When I lost herI lost them too. Colors. S'all grey now.” His dad looks hard at Dean. Real hard. “Sometimes though, you look so much like your momma Dean, I can see green again.”  He clears his throat and looks away, out the dark window towards the car parked outside. “You got her eyes.”

Later when his dad is sleeping, Sammy curled up beside him, Dean drags a chair into the cramped motel bathroom and carefully climbs up onto it.

He stares into his eyes in the mirror and wonders what green looks like. 

 


 

There is never any question that he’ll be an alpha.

He’s tall, like his dad. Broad shouldered and strong. His favorite class is gym and he likes to spent recess playing whatever sport the kids like to play at their current school. He’s nothing like the meek little boys and girls that everyone just knows are gonna be omegas. And he doesn’t fit in around the boring kids that are gonna grow up to be betas. They all just wanna study and crap. 

When older boys, alphas who’ve popped their knots, give him shit, try to test him, the only urges Dean feels are violent. He breaks noses. Blackens eyes. Doesn’t let anyone get away with giving him or his little brother grief.

As he gets older it’s the pretty girls that distract that him during class. Constantly moving from school to school, there’s an endless parade of them. Betas. Omegas. Short skirts and lipgloss. Soft sighs and giggles. Dean figures out how to smile at them just right and get them to blush. He likes the beta girls more than the omegas. They don't smell so sickly sweet and they're better kissers. Eager. Daring. Don't expect courting gifts and dinners with their daddies like the omega girls do. The omega boys don't interest Dean at all. His dad says that's normal, that plenty of alphas don't go after bitches.

He loses his virginity at 15 to a beta with dark hair and pale eyes who smells like oranges and cut-grass in the back of the Impala. She tells him her eyes are blue.

Dean wonders what blue looks like.

  


  

When he goes into heat at 16, he assumes it’s a rut and for the first day he's overjoyed. He’s finally a man, no longer a child. An equal to his dad. An alpha.

Sam tells him he reeks and that he’s gross but Dean doesn’t care, he’s too excited.

Then his dad comes back to their hotel room and just looks at him.

Something cold coils up in Dean’s stomach, twists around, makes him feel sick.

John takes Sam and leaves Dean alone in the room for a week. He isn’t allowed to leave or talk to anyone. The room reeks of salt and sugar. He feels sick, like he’s got the worst flu and ate bad diner food all at once. He’s hot, he’s cold and he’s throwing up until his sides ache. Worst of all is the warm trickle of slick between his thighs. He wipes it away but more keeps seeping out, keeps him wet like a girl for days on end. It's disgusting and he can’t stop crying.

Dean realizes there are worse things than being a kid. He’s a man grown now, sure, but he’ll never be John’s equal.

He’s an omega.

Chapter Text

Twice a year he has to spend a week up in the attic room at Uncle Bobby’s house. He’s too young for a suppressant shot so he has to deal with his heats.

In between bouts of fever and nausea and other more humiliating symptoms, he watches his brother out of the dusty gable window. John always leaves, can't stand Dean's 'stink' as he puts it, but Sam stays. Uncle Bobby plays catch with him and sometimes they shoot at tin cans.

 


 

Dean doesn’t look like an omega. And John buys him special deodorant that means outside of heat he doesn’t smell like an omega.

People assume he’s a beta and that’s what he pretends to be.

“You gotta be careful Dean,” his dad tells him in one of their rare conversations before the topic of Dean’s gender designation becomes family taboo. “The sorta places we go, it isn’t safe for an omega. Don’t let any alpha too close to you and don’t let anyone give you shit.”

Sammy treats him like he’s developed some terminal illness.

He stops calling him ‘bitch’ when they fight and calls him ‘jerk’ instead.

 


 

When he’s 17 he and his dad are out looking to hustle some pool or poker and instead stumble across an omega getting gangbanged in the backroom of a dive bar.

The guy they’re fucking can't be any older than Dean, a teenager all gangly limbs not quite grown. There’s a hulking alpha buried in his ass, grinding deep since he’s knotted there, and another one has his dick shoved down his throat. The swollen red knot is too big to fit, like a fist pressing against the omega’s stretched lips, but the guy is trying anyway, choking the omega and yanking on his hair. There are other alphas crowded close around, some just watching others jerking off.

The omega is moaning and he seems into it, but it still makes Dean's stomach turn. The alphas have him spit roasted, are fucking him like he’s a piece of meat not a person. There’s sweat and come all over him, like they’ve been passing him around for hours. The stink of it, half a dozen alphas in a mating rut, burns the back of Dean's throat and makes him gag. He can’t imagine ever wanting anything like that. Letting one alpha anywhere hear him, let alone a fucking crowd. Beside him his dad stiffens and grabs at his arm, his grip painfully tight.

“Dean. Wait for me in the car,” he says, voice low and commanding.

Dean nods. He’s already taken a step back without noticing. “Yessir.”

When he gets back to their motel he has a long shower. He feels dirty from just looking. Unclean.

 


 

Sometimes an alpha will scent him.

It only happens rarely. Dean works out, wears bulky layers and a heavy jacket, lets his stubble grow out a little and obsessively uses pheromone blocking deodorant and cologne, so most alphas dismiss him as a beta and don’t spare him a second glance. But every now and then one will stare too long, stand too close. He’ll be at bar and someone will sidle up to him, stand too close and tell him he’s pretty. Or ask if he needs someone to take care of him. If he’s alone.

Maybe it’s weak, a sign of that inherent omega-ness that he hates, but whenever it happens Dean runs straight to his dad with his tail between his legs. Or even Sam if John isn’t around.

You don’t touch an omega, even an unmated one, if they’re with family. An omega belongs to the head alpha of their family until they’re mated. It dates back to when omegas used to be bought and traded. If Dean doesn’t seek an alpha out by himself they have to come through John. Get his permission.

One dark look from John, or even moody glare from Sam, is usually enough to send an alpha off looking for easier pickings.

Dean doesn’t go to bars alone. Doesn’t risk it. The rest of the time he more or less forgets he’s an omega. Ghosts sure as hell don’t give a fuck and in the light of day, out in public, it’s a big no-no to mention or react to another person’s gender designation, so if anyone picks up on anything, nothing is said. But in the seedy dive bars they frequent fleecing pool and poker it’s dark and everyone’s drunk on cheap booze and pheromones hang in a fog over the crowd.

Nice omegas don’t hang out in those sorts of places, so if an alpha sniffs him out, they make assumptions think they’ve got a right.

It's risky but Dean isn’t stupid and Sam and John are vigilant. And besides, he's by far the best at pool and they need the cash. 9 times out of 10 no one will even look at him funny even when he's cheating them out of their beer money. There are a few close calls though.

In a biker bar in California, an alpha corners Dean in the bathroom. Dean’s zipping up after taking a piss and the guy just walks up behind him, puts his hands on Dean’s hips and leans in like he's got the right to. It’s shock that keeps Dean frozen long enough for the guy to say “What’s a pretty little bitch like you doing out all alone?” and grind his dick against Dean’s ass.

The alpha is taller than Dean, bigger too, but Dean’s broken his nose and kneed him the groin by the time Sammy appears in the doorway. Dean’s pretty sure he would have come out on top, omega or not, but he’s still humilatingly relieved to  have his little brother appear to rescue him.

Sam has the alpha in a headlock in seconds, a 9mm shoved into his back. “Get the fuck away from my brother,” he growls, and if there was any doubt that Sam was gonna be an alpha, they’re blown away by the pure fucking steel  in his voice. 

Later on, back at their motel room, Sam tries to talk about. He clears his throat and says with the kind of strained nonchalance only a teenager can manage: “I can’t wait for you to get suppressants man. Alphas are such fucking dicks.”

“Oh believe me I’m counting down the days,” Dean tells him.

Sam huffs, offended enough for the both of them. “I mean, you’re about as un-interested as an omega could possibly be, why would they think you’d want... that?”

“What I want doesn’t seem to matter to most of them,” Dean mutters, hoping Sam's gonna drop the topic. Dean being a bitch is not something they talk about. Ever.

The room's awkwardly silent for a moment.

“I’m glad you’re not a pussy,” Sam blurts. “I mean, you could’ve taken him.”

Dean wants to believe that, but he’s not a hundred percent sure. And what if it had been two or three guys jumping him? Or a whole fucking crowd? He doesn’t want his brother to worry though, so he smirks wide and smug. “Too right Sammy. What’s a drunk biker compared to a vamp or a werewolf?”

After that Dean's nightmares change. He still dreams the usual stuff - his mom burning, his dad or Sam getting hurt - but there are new ones mixed in there too. He dreams of hands grabbing at him, of alpha musk thick in the air as nameless men shove him against bathroom walls. He dreams about ending up in that other boy's place in that backroom gangbang. He imagines burning pain, being split in two and used like a thing. A whore. Rough voices and alpha stink and pretty little bitch. Sometimes his dad and Sammy are watching, looking at him in disgust.

He wakes up shaking and terrified.

It scares him more than any monster he’s ever heard of.

 


 

Just before Dean’s 18th birthday, Sammy goes into his first rut.

John lets him order his favorite pizza, one all to himself, and gives him a six pack.

Dean’s jealous, of course, but mostly he’s just relieved. There hadn't been much doubt, but he’s glad that his brother won’t have to deal with any omega shit and that their dad has one son that’s not an embarrassment.

Sammy stinks though, rich and musky and fucking gross. It makes Dean’s skin itch. His brother seems to find him equally irritating, their close familial relationship making their opposing alpha and omega pheromones jar instead of entice. In fact he tells Dean that he smells like burnt sugar and fruit gone bad. Which is rich coming from a guy that smells like a wet dog. They bitch and snap at each other for hours until eventually John tells Dean to make himself scarce for a few days.

He finds a bar attached to a steakhouse. It’s not the type of place they’d go to hustle pool. It has the sort of atmosphere that encourages betas and couples on dates more than alpha’s looking to pick up or losers looking to gamble. There are plenty of omegas around, mated and unmated, and Dean doesn’t get that feeling like using the restroom would be taking his life in his hands. The only alphas Dean scents are of the respectable mated sort and are eating with their families in the steakhouse. 

He gets some chilli fries and has a couple of beers. There’s a pool table and he has a few games with a bunch of liberal-arts-looking college kids that are impressed rather than pissed when he hustles them out of a few more drinks.

Luck seems to be with him and he picks up a gorgeous girl with dark eyes and hair like ink. She figures out he isn’t actually the beta he pretends to be, but doesn’t seem to care.

She’s an omega too, though like Dean, seems like a pretty terrible one. For one she's wearing blocking deodorant and overpowering perfume to disguise the fact.

Which is unusual.

Guys like Dean are just bitches, good for a fuck and not a lot more, but omega girls, well, that's a whole other ball game. They're the perfect mates, fertile and beautiful and goddamn candy-scented. The unmated ones tended to flounce around like princesses, alpha and betas alike drooling after them. They aren’t meant to sleep with other omegas. Or even betas really for that matter. They’re meant to save themselves for a big strong alpha with who can knot them up good and breed them full of perfect babies, but after her fifth tequila she tells him, (and the rest of the bar, she’s pretty loud), that alphas are all “dicks!” and that she’d rather take him back to her bed.

Dean decides he likes her. A lot.

They spend a long weekend in her cramped loft apartment fucking with teenage abandon. She doesn’t care that he gets wet when he fucks her or that he doesn’t have a knot on his dick and Dean sure as hell isn't hankering for one up his ass. At some point they shower and she scents him without his deodorant. No one, not even Sam or his dad, has scented him since his first heat. It's nice, having someone pressed close to him, tasting him in little breaths. It eases some stupid ache inside he didn't even realize was there. She tells him he smells good, like apples and caramel. Just to be a dick he tells her she smells like cherry twizzlers even though she smells like cinnamon and honey.

For the first time in years Dean feels normal. 

Her name is Lisa. She says her eyes are brown.

Dean wishes he could see that for himself.

Chapter Text

The day Dean turns 18 John drives him to an omega freeclinic.

For the most part the waiting room is full of scared looking teenage omegas accompanied by alpha fathers or mates, but there are some truly pathetic older ones huddled in the plastic chairs. There’s a frail looking, heavily pregnant man holding a baby that can’t be more than a year old. He's by himself and from the scent unmated. There’s another guy in his mid-twenties who’s scarily thin and has bruises around his neck and up his arms. He’s looking around in boredom, like he’s been here a million times before, and when any of the aphas present glance in his direction he winks or stretches languidly. When he shifts the faint stink of Alpha rut and Omega slick wafts from him.

A whore Dean’s brain supplies. Probably come for birth control or something.

John is stiff and uncomfortable, staring down at the same information pamphlet he picked up half an hour earlier. Dean for his part, is surprisingly relaxed. Excited even. He’s finally old enough for suppressants and the thought of never having to have a heat or give off omega pheromones again seems almost too good to be true.

He’s in such a good mood that for once he doesn’t care that people are sneaking glances at him. He’d been told he couldn’t wear his usual blocking deodorant or any artificial scent for the appointment, so he actually smells like himself for a change, like 18 year old fresh, unmated omega, and people are, as always, curious. He’s taller than all the other omegas, taller than some of the alphas even, and definitely broader across the shoulders than most of them. Compared to the skinny little whore sitting across from him, Dean might as well be an alpha.

He certainly seems to be confusing the two teenage omega girls in the room. They keep giving him lingering looks. It buoys Dean’s mood even more.

The doctor that sees him weighs and measures him. He tells Dean stuff he already knew – how he’s very tall for an omega, that his musculature and skeletal structure is far more robust than usual and his hips very narrow.

John hesitantly says “His mother was a beta. And both his grandmothers. Far as I know there’s only been one omega in the family in the last few generations. His mom had a cousin, a girl.”

Dean looks at his father in interest. It’s more family history than he’s ever heard in one go before.

The doctor nods. “That could explain it. An overabundance of Alpha and Beta genetic traits would mean Dean is probably just naturally a bit larger than usual.”

He still takes a blood sample and runs it through some little machine to check his hormone levels to make sure there’s nothing wrong with though.

“Perfectly normal for an omega of his age,” the doctor tells them happily.

John nods, but Dean’s almost disappointed that there’s nothing wrong with him. A part of him was hoping the doctor would tell him it was all some mistake, that he had some freak hormone imbalance that was making him seem like an omega when he wasn’t.

The doctor asks him lots of embarrassing and invasive questions. When did he get his first heat? Are they regular? What are his symptoms? Is he mated? Is he sexually active? Has he ever knotted with an alpha? Does he want children?

Dean blushes furiously and studiously ignores his father while he answers. Without his blockers his discomfort and embarrassment is obvious, the smell of it thickening around him in his blooming, unmated scent. It makes his father squirm in his seat, which only serves to humiliate Dean further. John never gets uncomfortable when Sam puts out a stink when he's pitching a fit over something.

The doctor tells him suppressants should be perfectly safe for him to use and talks about the different varieties. Dean insists on the strongest ones, the shots that mean he will for all intents and purposes be a beta. No heats, no pheromones, no scent, no risk of pregnancy - no omega traits at all.

The doctor nods and then sends his father outside, saying it's clinic policy for a brief one on one consultation with clients. John seems eager to get out of the room and the awkward conversation and practically bolts. Dean can’t blame him. The entire visit has been excruciating.

“Are you sure you want the shots Dean?” the doctor asks. “The effect is quiet extreme. Most omegas find one of the more moderate options more comfortable in the long run, ones that don’t interfere with scent or sexual responses.”

Dean shakes his head. He knows what the doctor’s referring to. Most omega use suppressants that stop heats but still leave them smelling like omega and capable of getting... wet. Dean shudders a little at the thought, mortifying memories of his pants and the sheets sticking to his ass in his heats flooding his mind. “No.” he insists. “I want the shots.”

The doctor frowns. “I would be happy to discuss the advantages with your father if he’s worried...”

“No seriously,” Dean tells him. “It’s not just the heats. I mean, I don’t even like guys... It’s...” he trails off awkwardly.

“You want to avoid attention?” the doctor guesses. "Being identified by your scent is a... hindrance?"

More like fucking horrifying, like having a target painted on his back saying ‘rape me’, but Dean nods. He wants to ask if that’s normal, not liking alphas, but he’s not sure how to word it. The doctor seems to be able to read his mind though cause he says "It's rare for female omegas to be attracted non- alphas, and very rare for them to prefer females, but it's actually quite common for male omegas to be attracted to women, especially outside of heats.”

Dean nods again, staring at his fingernails. “Even in heat I’ve never been... you know... attracted to an alpha,” he admits. The thought makes him sick actually.

“You’re very young Dean. Many people, omega, alpha, beta – don’t really feel strong sexual attraction until they meet a truemate. It’s more common than you think and nothing to worry about.”

Dean frowns. Somehow, at no point in the last three years had he ever considered that he had a truemate out there, and that it was an alpha. Alpha meant two things to him, a) his dad and Sam and b) potential rape. “You believe all that truemate destiny crap?” he asks.

“It’s not destiny,” he tells Dean dryly. “It’s an evolutionary tactic in which our body signals the most biologically compatible mates to us. It’s even possible to have more than one truemate in a lifetime, people lose mates and then find another.”

Dean snorts. “Yeah, in Hallmark movies...”

The doctor smiles. “It’s rare, but it does happen.” he insists. “Many scientist believe we meet several potential ‘truemates’ in our lifetimes, but once mated, we pass by additional would-be candidates without noticing.”

“So what, I’ll meet some special alpha and suddenly want to bend over for them?” Dean doesn't try and hide the scorn in his tone.

The doctor shrugs. “Yes. But if you are on the shots, they probably won’t have the same reaction to you. You yourself might not even realize.”

That doesn’t actually sound like a downside to Dean. The thought of suddenly wanting to be some guy's bitch doesn’t sound very romantic to him, no matter what the movies say. It sounds like brainwashing or something. “I’ll risk it,” he says.

The doctor nods and starts preparing his hormone injection. "If you ever change your mind and decide you want to have children, I would recommend sooner rather than later."

Dean opens his mouth to say that there's no way he'll ever want play the bitch to some knothead, but the doctor silences him with a wave.

"I'm not saying you will, just telling you that in my medical opinion, given your build, carrying a child to term might prove difficult for you. And male omegas aren't as fertile as women to begin with."

Well good Dean thinks to himself.

John gives him a nod of something like approval when he emerges back into the waiting room five minutes later with an information pack and a bandaid on his arm.

When they get back to the hotel room Sam gets up and sniffs the air curiously, scenting Dean. He frowns in confusion and then smiles. “Well you smell weird, but definitely not like an omega.”

Dean grins back at him and John looks almost as relieved as he feels.

Sam sniffs again, face screwing up in thought as he analyses Dean's subdued scent. “Like a particularly douchey beta,” he decides.

Dean whacks him on the back of his head.

“Hey!” Sam says. “Don’t get ahead of yourself jerk. You might trick everyone else, but I know that deep down inside you’re a sweet little omega.” He gives Dean a smug smirk.

“This ‘sweet little omega’ can still kick your ass,” Dean tells him.

“Pfft. Whatever.”

Dean waits a moment and then launches himself at his brother, tripping him and bearing him to the musty hotel carpet. Sam yelps and twists and they wrestle breathlessly, laughing and grunting as they elbow and kick each other playfully.

A few minutes later a winded Dean has Sam in a headlock, cackling his victory as he tickles his brother mercilessly with his free hand. “Deeeaann!” he gasps. “Stop it! Ah!”

Dean just snorts and renews his merciless attack.

John is sitting at the little table near the door. He shakes his head when Dean glances over at him, but he’s almost smiling.

It’s the happiest Dean’s been in a long time.

Chapter Text

For a while things are good, Dean and John hunting while Sam's at school. They criss-cross the country taking down ghosts and ghouls and witches, Dean settling into the charade of beta and Sam sprouting like a gangly beanstalk of an alpha. But they fight more and more, Sam and John, two alphas butting heads over every little thing. Dean's the only thing that keeps the peace between them.

It's almost enough to make him glad he's not an alpha as well. God knows how they would have managed with three under the same roof, squeezed into cramped motel rooms and stuck in the Impala for days on end.

He knows it's coming, but it still hurts when it finally happens.

Sam leaves.

Dean’s angry. And hurt.

It feels like he’s being abandoned and a part of him wants to lash out at his brother. Then he feels guilty because Sammy is smartand he should get to go to college. Sure he'd make a good hunter, but he's good at anything he puts his mind to. John doesn't see it though. Dean thinks part of the reason he takes it so bad is because Dean is ticking time bomb and not the legacy he wants to leave in the world. If Dean was an alpha Sam going off to college wouldn't be such a big deal, that much is plain to him. John wants a son he can trust to keep going after he's gone, to keep looking for Yellow Eyes and avenge Mary.

Dean tries to be that for him. After Sam leaves he does his best to never let any hint of omega weakness slip through his defenses, molds himself into the image of John, a good soldier, solid backup. The partner John needs, someone he can trust to do what needs to be done, no questions asked. It almost works. With the shots there are no close calls, no signs for anyone to pick up. Dean's a beta in all but blood. But John still lets something slip every now and then, something that reminds Dean that it's not forgotten, that he's not the son he was supposed to be.

 


  

He calls Sam every now and then during his first year in California, tries to be supportive, but Sam doesn’t want to hear about hunting and if Dean mentions John he tends to hang up. On the flip side Sam’s talk of exams and essays bores Dean to tears. About the only thing they can talk about easily is girls.

Then Sam takes some flowery Gender Identity and Discrimination class and starts trying to analyse Dean. More or less tries to Dr Phil him over the phone about his ‘sexual identity’ and the ‘perceived negative male-omega gender stereotypes’ of society. It’s excruciating.

It comes to a head when Sam implies that the reason Dean is still hunting and not ‘making a life for himself’ is because John, his alpha, told him to.

Dean can’t remember ever being so angry at his brother. He can barely get the words out.

“So you think I’m hunting because I’m a good little omega bitch and big bad alpha-daddy told me to?”

Dean hangs up on his brother before he can make a comeback.

He hopes Sam feels like an asshole. All his talk about stereotypes and crap and then he pulls that shit. Dean hunts because he’s good at it and he likes it. Killing monsters and saving people. School never excited him like it did Sam. He never dreamed of being a doctor or a lawyer or whatever, he always wanted to be a hunter. (exept for when he was really little and he'd wanted to be a fireman, but he doesn't count that.)

Yeah he does his best to help John, to be strong for him and make him proud. But he’d being doing the exact same thing if he was a beta or an alpha.

He can't just turn his back on the life the way Sam has.

 


 

When John disappears on a hunt Dean doesn’t know what to do. Straight away he wants to just chase after him, track him down, but travelling alone, hunting alone... It makes his skin itch. He can’t relax. It feels like everyone knows and something’s gonna happen.

No matter how he tries to push his fears down – he’s been on suppressants for years at this stage and hasn’t had a heat or been scented by an alpha since then – he’s still an unmated omega. Annoying as hell, but it’s just a part of his nature to feel incredibly insecure when he’s alone. He needs the reassuring presence of an alpha, of family, to feel safe. He hates it, but he still finds himself driving out to California, instinctively seeking out the only other alpha he trusts.

Sam has somehow gotten even taller since the last time Dean saw him. He sort of looms. Despite that, the familiar scent of him calms Dean down for the first time in weeks. He grins and pulls his brother into a loose hug.

The first thing he says to Dean after two years of nothing is; “Dean!” and then “Your eyes are green!”

Dean realizes that his brother’s smell is slightly off and when a girl appears in her pajamas, he connects the dots. Sam has a mate.

The fact that Sam didn't tell him stings but he ignores it.

Her name is Jess. She’s beautiful and smart and just the sort of girl Sam-the-Stanford-law-student should have.

Later on when they are alone in the car, headed out after their father, Sam tells Dean that her hair is gold and her eyes are blue. “Like the sky Dean. Blue like the sky.” He has an expression on his face that Dean has never seen before. Dreamy and half-stoned.

That night when Dean is shaving in their shitty motel bathroom he finds himself staring at his reflection with a weird sort of jealousy. Sam has found his truemate. He can see the green in Dean’s eyes. Sam knows what color their mom’s eyes were.

Dean, who looks in the mirror every day, still doesn’t.

 


 

“Green like grass Dean. Like a leaf off a tree,” Sam tells him when he asks.

Dean looks out the windscreen of the Impala, at fields and trees. They’re all grey to him. Shades of light and dark just like everything else.

He thinks back to the long ago conversation with the doctor at the omega clinic. Maybe he’s met his truemate already and with all his omega traits suppressed, never even realized. For the first time he wonders if maybe the doctor had a point, if he's missing out on something.

 


 

One day not long after, Sam looks across the frontseat at Dean and tells him doesn't know what green looks like anymore.

Jess’s death hangs heavy between them. Sam's listless, deep in mourning his mate. Barely eating, barely talking.

 

If Dean wasn't around to push him, he probably wouldn't even get out of bed. Might've eaten a bullet by now. It's pretty common when someone loses a truemate, and it's not like Sam has a lot left to live for. A deadbeat bitch of a brother, a run-away father and a blossoming criminal record.

Dean regrets coming to find him, for dragging him back into the shit that’s plagued their family for decades. There’s no doubt in either of their minds that Jess is dead because she was Sam’s mate. What neither of them ask out loud is if she'd still have burned if Dean hadn’t come out to California.

Dean clenches the steering wheel tighter. “Yeah, well I don’t either.”

 


 

Dean's 29 when he dies.

He is unmated.

When Lilith’s Hellhounds tear into him his brother's horrified face is shaded in greys.

He still doesn't know what green looks like.

Chapter Text

Hell is black --

-- and white.

Black blood.

Black meat.

White teeth.

White bones.

Alistair is fire and shadows. Eyes like coals, clawed fingers, pointed teeth. His breath is smoke and tastes of ashes. Everyday Dean wakes up white and whole and Alistair gently breaks him, pulls him apart, until he’s nothing but dark meat.

Dean doesn’t wonder what green looks like anymore.

 


 

Days in hell feel as long as days on Earth.  

Weeks turn into months until Dean loses track of how long he's been chained to the rack.  

Alistair is an artist with his blade, his teeth, his hands, his forked tongue - but even so, there are only so many ways to slice and burn. Eventually it stops being new. He exhausts his torturer's playbook.  

Stupidly Dean thinks it will get easier after that.

If he knows Alistair's worst, if he's already endured it, what more is there to fear?  

He's wrong of course. Alistair is infinitely patient. He delights in sliding hands over Dean's remade flesh every morning, in drawing out even the simplest of things.  

Whipping the skin from Dean's back or pulling the nails from his fingers thrills him as much as the more exotic techniques he employs. Splitting open his ribcage, breaking the bones and prying his chest open like the wings of bird so he can sink his fingers into the glistening dark shapes within. Stroke Dean from the inside. Squeeze the breath from his lungs. Biting away the flesh of his face and jaw then carefully easing an eye from its socket so it hangs over the ruined flesh and he can see the horror of his body from an impossible angle. The shadows of his lungs, the twisting coils of his stomach, Alistair's hands as he buries them inside Dean and pulls and pets at things. The dark, secret parts of him. 

Over and over.

And every night, when he's nothing but twisted flesh, just before Alistair deafens him with boiling pitch or sharp nails, he asks Dean the same question. "Is today the Day Deano? gonna pick up the blade?"  

Dean says no.

A hundred, a thousand, ten thousand times.  

A lifetime passes. So long Dean is sure he's been down here far longer than he was ever a man.

His memories of his life, the things he loved, the reason he made the damn deal in the first place, they're so faded he can hardly remember them. All he knows is pain and Alistair's voice whispering in his ear.  

One day when Alistair asks him the question, he nods.  

When he slices open the woman-shaped soul tied to the rack in his place, it's satisfying in a way. She's a damned. They all are. There are no innocents down here.  Her screams are sweet to him because they aren't his.

 


 

Fifteen thousand days after the hounds dragged down into the fire and dark, the angel Castiel lays his hands upon Dean.

He looks up and sees blue.  

He thinks of his brother for the first time in a decade. Remembers the smile of his face when he spoke of Jess. Her golden hair and her blue eyes. 

“Like the sky Dean. Blue like the sky.”  

Around him the shadows of the pit are suddenly black and white and red.  

Shocking violent blood red.

His blade falls forgotten from his hand.

Around him the damned shriek and wail, immolated into nothingness by burning light.

Dean stares.

His wings are dark storm clouds and his voice is thunder.

A shining angel pulls Dean into his arms. Tells him he is saved.

He burns like a star, like the sun. Dean breathes his scorching light deep.

 


 

His coffin is full of shadows, black.

For a moment he thinks it is all some new sick game of Alistair’s. That this is some illusion. But the stuffy air, (pine, rot, sweat and dirt), and his body feels different. Solid. Thick. Real.

He presses his palm to his throat in the dark. His skin is warm and a heart-beat flutters beneath it. A beat he hasn’t felt for forty years. He’s alive. Somehow.

The flame of his lighter blinds him, orange and yellow and blue. He stares mesmerised until it gets hot enough to burn his fingertips.

He fights and digs his way out, breaking the rough pine of his box and crawling through dirt. Suffocated, eyes closed against the soil, Dean thinks he must have imagined seeing color.

He breathes fresh air for the first time in decades. Stretches out on his own grave. Eyes closed. The sun beating down on him is warm and clean. He opens his eyes.

Above him the sky is blue.

He hears a noise, a buzz low in his ears that makes his bones vibrate and a place on his arm burn and sting.

He turns, expecting - expecting something, someone, he’s not sure - but he is alone.

 


 

Bobby’s eyes are blue.

His knife is silver.

Dean’s blood is red.

 


 

Dean washes brown grave dirt off in Bobby’s white shower. Under the hot water his skin turns pink, but not as pink as the handprint branded into the flesh of his arm.

In the mirror his eyes are green.

Dean stares, wide-eyed, and unblinking until his eyes sting.

 


 

He wants to go find Sam, but Bobby sniffs at him indelicately and tells him he’d best put off those plans for a week or so.

For a moment Dean doesn’t understand. It’s been so long since he had a body that it’s a confusing mess of sensation and he hadn’t noticed the signs. He does now though - feverish, weird shaky feeling low in his gut  - he’s going into heat.

“Aw fuck,” he mutters.

Bobby snorts. “If you head out smelling like that boy, reckon you might.”

Dean glares at him.

“Go on, git upstairs,” Bobby tells him. “You’re stinking up the place. I’ll bring you food and defend your honor just like old times.”

Dean’s glare intensifies. Bobby smirks at him a little, unrepentant.

The upstairs room is exactly as Dean remembers from his last heat at 17.

Dustier, but unchanged.

The same books line the little shelf near the bed. Tattered sci-fi picked up at thrift stores. Asimov and Vonnegut and all the other stuff he’d inhaled as a teenager. Dean picks up the paperback lying spread open on the top. Brave New World.

Dean skims a few lines. ‘... he developed for the Omega blonde an exclusive and maniacal passion. She protested. He persisted. There were struggles, pursuits, an assault on a rival...’

Unsurprisingly 17 year old him had left it open to a part with sex.

‘... three handsome young Alphas succeeded in rescuing her.’ Of course they did. ‘... with the Omega blonde becoming the mistress of all three of her rescuers.’

With a scoff Dean tosses the book aside and looks for something lighter, something with a little less commentary on morals and sexuality. His heat is only just flaring. From memory it will be hours before it hits him full force.

He’s engrossed in the half-remembered adventures of Severian the Torturer when Bobby knocks on the door hours later.

“Food here boy!” he hollers before retreating back downstairs. There’s a plate of sandwiches and a beer sitting on the floorboards when Dean opens the door. It’s all weirdly nostalgic. Apart from the beer it’s pretty much exactly how Dean remembers from his heats as a teenager.

Dean manages to get to sleep okay, but is woken in the middle of the night by the full brunt of his heat. It’s worse than he remembered. Much worse. He thinks maybe he just forgot, it’s been over a decade after all (and that’s ignoring the forty spent downstairs).

Clothes are painful. Digging in to his skin. Smothering him. He strips off and lies on top of the sheets, sweat soaked and panting. He puts it off as long as he can, cause he knows it’s not really going to be any sort of relief, but eventually he palms his cock. It’s wet with pre-come, leaking way more than it does normally.

A few hours and several unsatisfying orgasms later, he decides he isn’t imagining it, it is worse.

Jerking off isn’t even taking the edge off. His dick throbs, heavy and hot, like it’s gonna burn a hole in the mattress. Dean can feel wet slick between his ass cheeks, smearing between his thighs. The sickly sweet smell of it is stronger than he remembers.

The food Bobby leaves distracts him for a little while, but the day passes tortuously slow for Dean. By day three, when in the past he’d be over the worst of it, he’s instead worse - feverish and delirious. His dick’s rubbed raw and the bed is a fucking disaster zone. The mark on his arm burns.

Bobby knocks and knocks, worried because Dean’s left his food, but too scared to come inside. Dean yells out something so he knows he’s alive or whatever. He’s not sure what.

At some stage Bobby gets concerned enough to open the door and walk a little ways inside.

Dean’s curled on his side, just trying to breathe and think straight. He’s got a hand pressed to the mark on his shoulder and that’s about the only thing keeping him even approaching sane. A distant part of his brain tells him that he’s naked and Bobby is in the room and that’s all kinds of embarrassing and wrong, but he’s too far gone to care.

Bobby’s not blood, but apparently he’s close enough that he’s not trying to jump Dean. He tries to talk to Dean, but none of the noises he makes sound like words. Bobby gets a wet towel and wipes Dean down, trying to cool him. It helps. Dean feels the heat abate a little, his wits sharpen slightly.

“Bobby,” he croaks.

“Why the hell didn’t you tell me you got yourself mated boy?” the old alpha snaps.

Dean tries to make sense of what he’s saying. “M-mated? Wha?” Dean doesn’t have a mate.

“I can smell it on you,” Bobby tells him. “Where the hell’s your damn alpha!? Heat can kill a mated omega, you know that!”

Being mated would explain why this heat is so much stronger, but Dean doesn’t have a mate. The only alphas he’s ever let anywhere near him were his dad and Sammy. And Bobby. But he can see colors. Maybe it’s some side effect of whatever mojo brought him back? “No mate,” he tells Bobby. “Woke up... colors. But... no mate. No one. Not ever.”

“What bout this then?” Bobby asks, tapping a finger over the handprint on Dean’s arm. Dean fliches at the touch. “Who gave you that?”

“Dunno. It was... just... there.” The heat’s picking up again, Dean can’t think.

Bobby seems to understand what he’s saying. “Well if you don’t have alpha, you’re gonna have to get through this by yourself.”

He presses a water bottle to Dean’s mouth, makes him drink the entire thing.

“Could you eat?” he asks.

Dean’s stomach clenches just at the thought. He shakes his head.

Bobby sighs. “Ain’t much I can do for your son. I’ll come back in a few hours and check on you though.”

Dean nods. Grateful, but eager just to be left to this indignantly alone.

Bobby’s words twist in him and Dean wonders if there’s truth to them. Did someone bring him back and claim him for a mate before he woke up? A handprint isn’t a bite, but it’s a mark just the same. Something in Dean’s bones is telling him it’s true. That somehow, he’s got a mate.

Tossing and turning on the old bed, Dean burns for someone for the first time. Now that he’s accepted that fact, the strain is somehow even worse. Somewhere out there is his mate. His body knows and it aches. His swollen hole is just as painful as his dick, slick trickling steadily down his thighs.

It’s dirty, something only a bitch wants, but at some point Dean ends up touching himself there as well. It’s a thing he’s always resisted, even in heat, as a point of pride. But he can’t anymore. He’s so wet that two thick fingers slip inside easily and Dean groans in shamed relief. It’s better than jerking off, cools the burn a little.

He tells himself that it’s okay, that he’ll just take the edge off and think about girls while he does it. It’s not like he’s fucking himself with a knotted dildo like some desperate omega slut or anything.

But despite his intentions, Dean still ends up ass in the air, humping the mattress and fucking himself on his fingers. And after a while he wishes he had one of those dildos. Doesn’t care if that makes him a bitch. Fingers don’t fill him up like he needs.

For the first time he fantasizes about an alpha instead of a pretty girl. Imagines some faceless guy holding him down and fucking him open, knotting him, filling him up with come, getting him filthy with it. It makes him moan, makes his ass clench around his fingers and his dick twitch just to think about it. His fingers aren’t enough, he wants his mate, wants his alpha.

The handprint on his arm throbs, as if calling out to whoever left it there.

No one comes.

Chapter Text

 

Dean’s heat doesn’t kill him, although he’s so ashamed by the time he comes downstairs he kind of wishes it had.

Beyond suggesting a trip into town for a suppressant shot and recommending Dean avoid heats until they figure out a) what the heck pulled him out of hell and b) if he’s mated or it not, Bobby is mercifully quiet.

Dean still has trouble looking him in the eye though. He remembers Bobby patting him down with cool towels and making him drink water and juice. He has an awful suspicion that he might've seen Dean crying or fingering himself. Fuck, maybe even both at the same time. The thought is cripplingly humiliating, makes him want to crawl away and find some hole to die in. again.

After a day of walking on eggshells, Bobby corners him in the kitchen.

“Karen was an omega," he says. "You ain’t done nothing I ain’t seen before, so stop acting like you drowned a baby or something already.”

Bobby fixes him with a glare, as if daring Dean to contradict him. Dean blushes bright red in embarrassment, but Bobby doesn't sound disgusted or repulsed, and awkward or not, it does kinda make him feel a bit better. A little.

“It’s damn annoying,” Bobby adds gruffly. “Sam's sposed to be the sensitive one.”

 


 

Sam’s eyes are brown.

The Impala is black.

John’s messy scrawl, ‘STOOGES MC5’, on the tape Dean pulls out of the glovebox is blue. He picks at the peeling label.

He doesn’t tell his brother that he's mated. Sort of. Cause he isn’t really sure that’s what's actually happened. How could he have been claimed by an alpha when he was a corpse rotting in a pine box? How do you find your mate when you're dead?

What sort of... thing could have left its mark burnt into his arm?

Sam's already weirded out about Dean's return from the dead enough without adding in a demonic mate.

Bobby doesn't say anything.

They search for answers, for whatever pulled him out of Hell. Dean waits and wonders, scared and impatient all at once.

The mark on his arm itches and throbs.

 


 

Dean knows the moment, the instant, he sees him. His mate, his truemate, the one meant just for him.

The doctor years ago was right. It doesn’t matter that Dean’s never wanted a man before in his life, he gets one look at him and he’s gone. Something primitive and omega in him recognizes the figure in the tan trenchcoat and bends, twisting deep inside.  

Dean can barely even make him out amid the flashes of lightning and the rain of sparks in the barn, but there’s no doubt that this creature is his mate. He feels it. He knows. The handprint pricks against his shirt.

The man – demon – whatever it is – looks around at the sigils covering the walls and casually walks across the elaborate devil’s trap painted on the ground

Cold dread ices his veins and Dean lifts his sawn-off. His omega instincts are screaming at him because that’s his alpha, but he's been ignoring them for years. He fires, no warning, straight for its heart. Bobby joins in beside him.

The thing doesn’t even break stride. Just continues steadily towards Dean. It doesn’t even bleed, whatever it is that’s claimed him as its mate. As it gets closer Dean makes out the rumbled suit, dark hair and weirdly focused facial expression. It's obviously not human, it’s just wearing one. 

Dean keeps his eyes trained on it but backs away, palming Ruby’s knife off the old work bench behind him.

It circles Dean staring at him with blue eyes that seem to glow. A little part of him is relieved they aren’t yellow. He's close now, close enough that Dean can't help inhaling to scent him. Over the stink of old hay, fried light bulbs and gunsmoke he catches something static and fresh like a rainstorm. It's nothing like the musk of any alpha Dean has ever met, doesn’t smell like any human he’s ever met full stop. His body doesn’t seem to care though, it’s telling Dean something along the lines of: hell yeah get a whiff of this sexy motherfucker. No girl ever smelt this good. Bet he tastes even better! and for the first time out of heat and despite his fresh suppressants, Dean feels his body warm and slick in preparation for a knot as his dick gives a simultaneous twitch of interest.

The throb of arousal and animal want is so sudden and new and disturbing that Dean has to restrain the urge to turn and just run.

"Who are you?!" he barks instead, circling, knife in hand.

His mate tilts his head to one side and speaks. "I'm the one who gripped you tight and raised you from perdition."

And holy fuck what the hell kinda of voice is that?!  He forgets to breathe for a second because the stupid omega voice in the back of his head is going nuts, wants to lick that low rumble out of the guy’s mouth.

Demon the part of his brain not currently occupied with how turned on he is tells him. It’s the only thing that makes sense.

He imagines being the plaything of something like Alistair up here, on earth where his body is real, where he's an omega and not just a name and a soul. Being mated to a demon. A demon he wanted to bend over like a bitch for the moment he fucking set eyes on him.

He'd sooner take the rack again.

“Yeah?” he asks, all bitter sarcasm. “Thanks for that.” The demon almost nods, as if expecting gratitude.

Dean buries Ruby’s knife in its chest.

The thing doesn’t move, doesn’t make a noise. There’s no sigh of pain, no x-ray demonic light show. Dean steps back, stares in disbelief. It blinks at him a couple of times then looks down at the hilt of the knife with something almost like a fucking smile on its face. The blade clutters useless to the floor.

Dean’s mind is a blank. He’d been so sure, despite the salt and the devil’s trap... He shoots a panicked look at Bobby, who’s looking equally freaked out, but hefting some iron.

Without even looking it catches the crow bar with effortless strength. It pulls Bobby close then presses a hand to the old hunter’s head. He sinks to the floor in a boneless heap, eyelids flickering but out for the count. When it turns back to Dean it has an earnest expression on his face, like it’s sorry.

Dean knows he should be doing something but he’s honestly at a complete fucking lost and the thing’s eyes are really blue, blue like whoa, and his – no, its - scent is making it hard to think straight and –

“We need to talk Dean.”

Dean swallows a whimper at that fucking voice.

“Alone.”

 


                                                                                                           

His mate's name is Castiel.

He tells Dean that he is an angel of the lord, that he pulled him from Hell because god has work for him.

His voice makes Dean’s throat dry.

His scent, static like a rainstorm, makes Dean ache. Makes him think of light and burning and things half forgotten.

Dean is afraid.

 

Chapter Text

Castiel stands far too close. He breathes in Dean’s air.

He stares. He stares and stares and his eyes are blue.

Dean doesn’t trust him, but that doesn’t change the fact that he more or less belongs to him.

Somehow, this angel, Castiel, is his alpha. And Dean is his omega.

It was him he burnt for in his heat. His knot he begged for. Castiel hasn’t said or done anything about it, but every time he’s near Dean the air fills with tension and Dean feels like he’s going to snap at any second.

It scares him as much as it excites him.

Instead of pretty girls, Dean dreams about blue eyes and dark hair. About being held down against the mattress of the old bed in Bobby’s attic and fucked and knotted. Of Castiel’s deep voice in his ear and thunder and lightning crashing outside.

When he wakes up he isn’t just hard, his pants cling to his skin with slick despite his suppressants. Sam sniffs the air and pulls a face. “Ew Dean. Gross.”

 

 


 

They chase after seals, trying to stop Lucifer from rising. Castiel visits Dean often, but says nothing, does nothing, about the claim burnt into his skin. He speaks only of duty and battle.

But he stands so close, so close his breath is warm and sweet on Dean’s face.

Dean looks at his mate’s lips. Wants to taste them. More than anything.

But Castiel just tilts his head in confusion. Narrows his eyes.

Castiel doesn't understand humans.

Castiel doesn't understand Dean.

Dean though, Dean begins to understand angels.

Somehow Castiel is Dean’s truemate, but Dean is not Castiel’s.

Castiel doesn't want Dean.

Angels don't want.

Angels obey.

“Angels don’t even have mates,” Bobby tells him after an exhaustive study, expecting Dean to be relieved.

He's not.

 


 

Castiel visits him in a dream.

He tells Dean he must speak to him. In private.

Dean hopes he was wrong, that maybe angels do want. Or at least that this angel, his angel, might want him.

 


 

They take him. Castiel. Dean’s mate.

Angels take him back up to Heaven.

Dean feels his absence. An aching hollow. It feels like he’s dead.

In his place is a man named Jimmy Novak.

He is not Dean’s mate. He doesn't smell right, he doesn't sound right. There's no ache or warmth in Dean when he looks at him.

When Dean brushes his teeth, the eyes reflected in the mirror are grey once more.

It hits him with a certainty, lead in his gut, a hook pulling at something deep in his brain.

Castiel is dead. His alpha, his truemate, is gone. Whatever he was going to tell Dean at that old warehouse will remain unsaid.

He closes the door and turns on the shower because he cannot stop crying.

He thinks of his mother and Jess. Sam and John losing them and colors along with them. If Dean has already forgotten green, how long will he remember blue?

  


 

Claire Novak’s eyes are blue. Dean knows it's wrong to be so relieved, pleased that his mate is wearing a child but he doesn’t care.

 


 

His mate dies. It's different to the slow fade of when Castiel was imprisoned in heaven. It's a tearing rip he feels somewhere nameless place deep inside, sudden and violent and absolute. A silence. An absence.

Dean stands before his brother and two demons, Ruby and Lilith, and watches as their colors drain away.

Lilith’s blood (red) as it spills on the floor is the last color he sees.

When he finally stabs Ruby, the knife he pulls from her is stained black.

 


 

Dean stands in the living room of the prophet Chuck and feels... numb.

Chuck looks at him in pity. “Sorry man. He’s gone. The Archangel smited the hell out of him.”

It’s obvious from his tone that he knew that Cas was Dean’s mate. Or whatever they had been. Probably had some humiliating vision of Dean mooning over him or something. Dean just nods though, jerkily, and turns to leave, Sam quiet and guilty at his side.

He supposes it’s for the best. A human and an angel was never going to work anyway and it's not like Castiel was in love with him or anything.

It still hurts though.

 


 

In his father’s dusty storage unit, Dean sees colors again.

His mate appears, whole and safe and unmarked and suddenly Dean can breathe again.

He wants to pull Castiel into his arms and hug him tightly, savor the familiar smell of him, but nothing has changed.

Castiel is back, alive somehow, but he's still an angel. He still doesn't want Dean.

 


  

Sam leaves him. Castiel sits in his place, rides shotgun.

Dean knows now that Castiel will never want him like a human, never truly be his mate, but as long as Castiel walks the earth, Dean sees green in the mirror and blue in the sky and that’s more than anyone has ever given him, more than he deserves. It’s enough.

Dean smiles at him, just glad of his company. “Wanna get some lunch?” he asks. “Ever tried pie?”

The little confused smile the angel gives him makes Dean dizzy with happiness.

 


 

Cas likes burgers, french fries, strawberry milkshakes, chocolate cake and blueberry pie.

He doesn’t like bacon, beer or coffee, but will eat marmalade directly from the jar by the spoonful.

Dean watches him from across diner booths and café tables, studies the intent, serious expression on his face as he eats fastidiously, and smiles at him stupidly.

 


 

Lucifer rises and Castiel slowly falls.

Dean watches his mate as he suffers, as his grace dwindles and he becomes something almost human.

Sometimes the way Cas looks at him makes Dean wonder if he’s starting to want Dean along with burgers and milkshakes and sleep. If his mate will finally touch him. Kiss him.

He doesn’t.

 


 

Raphael is far stronger than Cas and he seems to expect that they will both die.

The thought of sitting across the table from his truemate all night, of dying without ever having known his touch, is too painful for Dean to bear.

He takes Cas to the nicest brothel he can afford. It’s plain that his mate doesn’t want Dean, but maybe a girl? Dean is a terrible omega, but he still wants to please. Wants to see his alpha happy. He can do this one small thing. Wait outside while a whore gives Castiel what Dean cannot.

It feels like someone is stabbing him in the chest when the blonde girl leads his mate away.

When she comes out crying and a shell-shocked Cas follows, Dean is selfishly relieved, glad Cas is unsatisfied. He is a terrible omega.

He laughs harder than he has since before Hell.

Cas lets him touch him, lets Dean sling an arm across his shoulders. Cas smiles wide and bright and for a moment Dean forgets that he is an angel and they are not really mates. His alpha is smiling at him and the world is bright with the colors he gives him.

Dean is happy.

 


 

“Angels don’t love,” his future-self tells Dean. “It isn’t real.

The bitterness in his tone is razor sharp.

Dean clenches his jaw, looks in the direction of Cas’s cabin. There are three women in there with him. Two betas and an omega. It is not his Cas over there, but it hurts like it is. “It feels real,” he says slowly.

The older Dean snorts. “Yeah, to us maybe. Not to him though.”

“But he’s human now,” Dean says, confused. “He should know that...”

“What? That he’s our truemate or some shit? That it’s destiny?

Dean nods, because yeah, now that he’s human Cas should know that. He shouldn’t want anyone but his mate. That was how it’s meant to work.

“All Cas cares about is his next hit. Sex is just another high. He doesn’t care who gives it to him.” The older Dean curls his fingers into a fist. “He’s not human, he’s a fallen angel. He just... doesn’t get it.” He sighs and when he speaks again his voice is quiet. “I tried to tell him, to make him understand way back when he first fell, but it’s like... like he just doesn’t work that way. The wiring’s wrong or something.” He shrugs. Looks across the camp towards Cas’s cabin with obvious pain and longing.

It’s an odd feeling, to pity... himself.

This Dean is heartbroken and his mate is apparently oblivious. Or doesn't care.

Dean isn’t surprised when his future self insists on a suicide mission.

 


 

In Dean’s heaven Sam plays with fireworks, his mom bakes pie and his mate eats chocolate cake in a diner booth and smiles at him.

Everything is bright, blue and green, and nothing is grey.

Then Joshua tells them god doesn’t care and they can’t kill the devil.

When Dean wakes up back in the motel, he almost wishes he was still dead. From the looks of him, Cas feels much the same way.

 


 

It hurts him, physically, to banish Cas. Betraying his mate, hurting him, goes against every instinct Dean has. But he doesn’t have a choice. He can’t let that future happen.

He’s going to say yes to Michael, but he’s going to make him agree to a few condition. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll be better than watching the world get eaten by Croatoan while the devil wears his brother and his mate fucks every willing body inside without giving him a second thought.

He steels himself, works himself up to it, then goes and finds someone with a connection to angel radio and no Enochian scribbles on their ribs.

But Cas finds him and Dean finds himself getting tossed around by a different angel than he’d intended. He freezes up, unable to react or fight back. Cas drags him into an alley and shoves him against the rough brick wall, pulling at his jacket, nearly lifting him off the ground, growling at him in a voice so low it sounds like the ominous rumble of distant thunder.

“I rebelled for this?!”

He sounds so angry and so disappointed and the omega in Dean wants to beg him for forgiveness, get down on his knees and bare his neck in submission. But Cas hits him, punches him so hard Dean stumbles and can barely keep on his feet. His face explodes in white hot heat, his ears ringing with the force of the blows as Cas hits him again and again.

“So that you could surrender to them!?”  he hisses.

Dean’s cowering instinctively. He’s never cowered before anyone, but it’s his mate, his alpha and he’s telling Dean that he’s disobeyed and it doesn’t matter that Castiel is an angel and not really Dean’s mate, his long buried omega instincts don’t care and have him more or less paralyzed.

Cas throws him across the alley, pins him against the opposite wall, hits him again and again. Pain rips through Dean’s guts and he feels his ribs creak under the onslaught, but still he’s frozen. Submissive. He can’t fight back, can’t even raise his arms to defend himself.

His mate’s fists are like stone, it’s like being pummeled by bricks. Dean’s ears ring and he spits blood. “Please Cas!” be begs, not even sure what he’s asking. For Castiel to understand, for him to forgive him, for him to stop hurting him or maybe something even more pathetic.

Cas doesn’t reply though, just shoves at him and slams him into another wall, crowding in close. His eyes are blown, the blue just a tiny border rimming the black and his breath hot against Dean’s face.

Castiel has never been so close to him. The angel is pressed against him, crushing him against the brick. The heady scent of him, alpha pheromones thick with aggression and displeasure, push in on Dean, an overwhelming fog. He can’t think straight, can’t even remember what’s going on, why they’re fighting. All he knows is that he’s angered his alpha, that he’s done something wrong, that he needs to submit.

“I gave everything for you. And this is what you give to me.”

His mate pulls him away from the wall and Dean reels, barely able to stand. Then he punches him again, across the cheek. Dean barely feels it, his head is already ringing so much, but the force of it has him stumbling back, his boots slipping on wet concrete. He doesn’t even see the kick that connects with his jaw and sends him flying.

A chain link fence stops his fall and he slides down it, not even trying to stay upright. The ground digs into his knees, his jeans little protection. He raises his head, vision swimming but the shape of his mate approaching clear enough. Cas’s face is twisted with rage. Dean can tell he’s going to hit him again.

He deserves it. Of course he deserves it. He’s disappointed and betrayed his alpha. He’s a terrible mate. That’s why Cas doesn’t want him. Why would he? Cas could have anyone he wanted. He should just get rid of Dean. Put him out of his misery. And he’d prefer it, to die in alley at Castiel’s feet than to suffer for five years only to die at Lucifer’s.

“Do it,” he demands. “Just do it!”

Instead of taking him up on his offer however, Cas stills and as Dean watches the violence seeps out of him, the relentless drum of alpha pheromones softening. Dean stares, not sure what to make of the change. His mate steps forward until he’s standing right before him and Dean can’t help but look at him, stupidly, trustingly, as if he wasn’t just trying to beat him to death.

When Cas reaches out and touches him he’s expecting blinding white light to burn him out from the inside, but he still can’t bring himself to defend himself, to do more than just flinch. Instead of killing him though, his mate just sends him to sleep.

Chapter Text

"This is very uncomfortable," Cas complains from where he's stretched out on the floor of Bobby's living room. "I believe I am developing contusions upon my buttocks."

Dean snorts into his pillow. "Tough luck Cas. I called dibs on the couch."

Cas huffs indignantly and spends the next few minutes rolling around, adjusting his bedding and muttering to himself. Dean can't quite make out what he says, but he picks out "Buttface" and something about a goat.

Five minutes later he's snoring anyway, a sort of whistle on the exhale. Like a cat with hayfever. Dean rolls over and looks down at him. He's managing to frown even in his sleep.

Sometimes Dean looks at Castiel, his earnest intensity as he tackles the most mundane of tasks - tying his laces, shaving, having to use the door when he wants to get out of the car, sleeping - and finds himself just awfully... fond. He wants to just keep him. Not because he's his mate, but because he's Dean's friend, and Dean hasn't ever really had many friends.

He wonders how long he'll keep making those frustrated little faces. How many years until he learns to swear properly, until using the door is automatic and toothpaste doesn't make him gag.

If they survive, somehow, if Dean survives and Cas survives and Lucifer and Michael don't - Dean thinks he'd like to find out.

Maybe Dean and Sam could become a three piece. Even without his angelic powers and strength, Cas's knowledge alone means he'd make a formidable hunter.

Cas lets out a particularly loud snore and manages to wake himself up.

Dean sniggers.

 


 

His brothers are dead.

Sam and Adam burn in Hell, where it’s black and white, but really red, and Cas is gone.

He's dead. Again. Blood and bits of meat and bone smeared across the grass of the cemetery, splattered across Dean’s jacket and face, black because he can’t see red anymore. Bobby lying there in the middle of it, head twisted back at an unnatural angle.

Dean leans against the Impala and manages to breathe, that's about all he can do.

Then his mate is alive again, perfect and whole and standing at Dean’s feet. Behind him the sky suddenly glows blue.

He touches Dean, presses warm fingers to his face and Dean is healed.

Bobby gets up. Frowns. Dean wonders if his mate isn’t actually an angel, but god.

“No Dean.” Cas tells him. His voice is soft and fond and Dean feels warm.

Sam and Adam are still gone, but Cas and Bobby are alive. Dean thinks perhaps he'll be okay. He remembers his promise to Sam, that he would try and be happy. Normal.

He’s lost his brother, but he still has his mate and Bobby and the sky is still blue. He'll try and keep his word.

Bobby goes home. He needs “some time.” Dean understands. He needs some time himself.

Cas folds himself into the front seat of the Impala and Dean drives. Drives away from the hole that swallowed his brothers. The one he loved and the one he didn't even know. He doesn’t have a destination in mind, he just drives. Cas is talking about heaven and peace and freewill and Dean just wishes they could be quiet for a minute. Just sit.

Between one word and the next he’s alone.

Dean looks at the empty seat and hates himself for the way his stomach drops, for his own stupidity. Is overwhelmed by it.

Of course Cas won’t stay. He was never here for Dean. He was here to do his duty, to save the world. He’s finished now and his father has given him his heavenly reward. He's an angel. He never wanted Dean. Why would he stay?

He remembers Zachariah’s vision. The jaded Dean of that might-have-been.

Angels don’t love. It isn’t real.

They’ve saved the world, that future won't come to pass, but that bit about Cas remains true it seems.

Dean drives. The sun comes up and the sky is painted orange and purple and red, but Dean can’t see it, it’s all grey to him.

 


 

His body mourns for what was never really his. His mate.

Months of Cas nearby, his scent lingering comfortingly in hotel rooms and leather upholstery, have convinced his stupid omega lizard brain that he has a mate. A real one. Dean spends a day and a night tossing in musty hotel sheets as his body sweats out its distress at losing its other half. It hurts. It hurts so bad and Dean can't help but start to hate Castiel.

When he showers he realises the mark on his arm is gone. Cas has healed it.

Suddenly Dean can’t breathe. His mate hasn’t just left him, his mate has taken his mark. The rejection of it is final and casual and Dean wonders how Castiel can hurt him so easily. He must be oblivious to the pain he causes, because surely no angel could be so cruel?

Dean is a human, a flawed one at that, so far beneath Cas it’s almost laughable. Maybe Cas has no idea how deeply he affected him. The mark that Cas claimed him with was probably accidental.

Dean hurts for no reason at all. Castiel was never his mate.

 


 

He forgets green. And then blue. He doesn’t care.

Lisa shares her bed and she is as grey to him as he is to her, but she is soft and sweet and again he wishes he’d seen brown when he first met her instead of grey. That the boy sleeping down the hall was his. That he had a mate who wanted him. Lisa might not be his truemate, but she at least likes to be touched and to touch him in return. She's the sort of mate he’d dreamed of when he was young.

Whenever he thinks these things he's wracked with guilt though. Cas might not have wanted him, might have left him and taken all the colors with him, but he was Dean’s alpha. Every betrayal, no matter how small, no matter how little Cas cares, hurts. Feels huge. He can’t help it, it’s imprinted in him - omega instinct.

His body knows it's not Lisa who should be warm at his side, no matter what he tells it. He can’t even touch her, not like that. Lisa says she understands, that it will be okay.

Dean tells her he found his truemate, that he saw blue and green and everything in between, but that his mate didn’t want him. That he’s gone and everything is grey again.

“Then he didn’t deserve you,” Lisa says. “If you were my mate I’d never let you go.”

“I wish I was,” Dean tells her. “Before Cas, when I used to picture myself happy, it was with you.”

It hurts because it’s true.

Lisa holds him and tells him that alpha’s are dicks.

 


 

Lisa has never seen colors. Dean thinks she will tell him that he should be glad he has, that he at least met his truemate.

“You make me think I’m better off,” she tells him instead. “If it hurts so bad to lose them, I’d rather never have them.”

Dean's not sure if she is talking about colors or a mate. She is right on both accounts at any rate.

 


 

Ben plays baseball and soccer.

He likes cars and plays electric guitar. Badly.

In the mornings he dawdles until he misses the bus just so Dean will drop him off at school in the Impala. He puts Metallica or Motorhead in the tape deck and he drums his fingers against the dashboard and hums along.

Dean teaches him what he can, but most of the things he’s good at are useless to a normal kid. Ben doesn’t need to know how to shoot a gun or exorcise a demon. Dean shows him how to check the oil and change a tire though. And how to trip someone bigger and stronger than you if some alpha jock tries to start a fight. And when Ben asks him questions about girls, Dean answers those with a smirk.

“How will I know?” Ben asks him one day. They are under the bonnet of the Impala, adjusting the timing belt and they have been talking about a girl in Ben’s class.

“Know what?”

Ben hesitates. “Mom doesn’t know cause she’s never found them.”

Dean’s stomach sinks.

“But you did. What’s it like? When you meet your truemate?”

Dean is quiet for a long time. He almost says a bunch of things. ‘Truemates aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.’ ‘It’s just a biological fluke, not destiny.’ But what he ends up saying is basically what his father told him decades earlier.

“You just know Ben. The instant, the moment.”

“You see colors?” Ben asks.

“Yeah,” Dean says. “You see colors.”

He thinks of his little brother, stuck in a hole with Lucifer, and remembers him at 22. His stupidly happy face when he talked about Jess and her golden hair and her blue eyes.

Like the sky Dean. Blue like the sky.

Dean wishes he’d gotten to see her like Sam did. The girl that made Sam see colors. The blurred memory he has of her is in black and white.

Chapter Text

He thinks about Castiel. A lot.

Sometimes he thinks he hears wings, or catches a note of something in the air that smells like mate, like Castiel, and he’s sure that Cas is standing right behind him, just out of sight. That he’ll turn around and he’ll be standing there, too close, looking at Dean with that weird half-frown of his and his hair all mussed up and crazy. He’s so certain that his heart races and he forgets to breathe and then he turns around and –

He’s never there.

Dean stares at empty rooms and carparks and every time his heart seems to shrivel up inside his chest then slide down his ribcage to land somewhere near his stomach.

 


 

Waking hours are a constant stream of painful memories. His brain bounces from Sam to Cas to Sam again. Stopping thoughts of one just seems to send him spiralling into thoughts of the other.

When it gets real bad he calls Bobby and lets the old hunter catch him up on the latest. Hunters are still hunting and those hunters are still calling Bobby Singer for backup, cover and help with the occasional shallow grave.

Talking about hauntings and werewolves is a pretty good distraction and Bobby knows how to weave a story in a sarcastically entertaining way. Of course inevitably he asks about Sam, if Bobby has found anything, and the conversation draws to a stilted close. Bobby would call him the instant he found something, Dean knows it, but he can’t help but ask anyway.

For every day he spends with Lisa and Ben, Sam spends almost 4 months in Hell. A week on Earth – over 2 years down below. A month? Well that’s pretty much a decade. Every morning when Dean wakes up he adjusts the tally.

 


  

A month after he turned up on Lisa’s doorstep, (ten years for Sam), Dean realizes he’s got no real urge to leave. He misses hunting, but the thought of doing it alone, of the passenger seat of the Impala empty, is just too painful.

He looks through the paper for jobs instead of hunts and a week later, (twelve years), gets hired on by a local construction firm as manual labor. He’s no Bobby with fake IDs, but he pulls together a work history and an identity solid enough for real work – solid enough to pay taxes. He doesn’t want to risk bringing any shit down on Lisa with fraud or anything.

No one suspects him of being an omega. He slips into the ‘douchey beta’ persona Sam had always given him shit for, (“Over compensating much Dean?”), with ease.The construction crew are a mix of alphas and betas and they’re alright enough guys. Dean’s got plenty in common to get along with most of them – cars, guns, girls... But the way they talk about male omegas, well, there’s no way in hell he’d have been given the job if the boss had known he was a ‘bitch’. No way he’d be invited over to watch football or eat crappy BBQ with their mates and kids.

As it is, the guys seem kinda impressed by Dean ‘Wesson’. He’s tall and built for a beta, and the fact that he’d got the gorgeous Lisa, a female omega and yoga instructor to boot, warming his bed means even the alphas are all buddy buddy with him. Betas hardly ever ‘score’ a girl like Lisa. An omega. A gorgeous one at that. They figure he must something special.

It’s depressing as hell, but also kinda amusing. Sometimes Dean imagines how they’d react if he let slip that he was actually an omega. The disbelief and horror. It’d end badly, but shit, when Steve or Jay start with their alpha posturing - ranting about crap like how they picked up some bitch and took turns drilling him in the backseat of Jay’s car, or when an omega makes the mistake of walking past close enough for them to scent him and they try to outdo each other with catcalls and offers of hard fucks and knots – well, Dean can’t help but fantasize about beating the shit out of them then revealing they got their asses handed to them by a bitch.

Of course he doesn’t do or say anything. It makes him guilty, but he’d glad that as a supposed beta he’s not meant to have any interest in male omegas and he’s not expected to join in the trash talk. He’s doubly glad for his freakishly big Winchester genetics that mean as long as he gets his shots and uses some axe or old spice to cover his lack of scent, no one suspects a thing.

 


 

 Lisa tells him that sometimes he talks in his sleep, calls for Sam and Cas. It’s not that surprising, he dreams about both of them.

The ones with Sam are usually nightmares, Sam falling, Lucifer wearing him and visions of him chained to the rack Dean spent 30 years bleeding on. Exactly the sort of dreams you’d expect in the circumstances.

The ones with Cas are muddled things he hardly ever remembers though. The clearest ones are based on memories – half-fallen Cas sitting across from him smiling as he eats, or in the front seat of the Impala frowning at Dean as he sings along to whatever tape is playing. The other dreams are shapeless. White light, the sound of wings and the smell of Castiel. Warm arms wrapped around him, a hand curled over the mark on his shoulder and a deep voice saying his name ‘Dean.’

He’s often tempted to pray to Castiel, but he’s too proud and he knows it’s better this way. This clean break.

When he gets that prickle on his neck, that change in the air that makes him think Cas is behind him, he forces himself not to turn and look. It hurts, but less than finding himself alone.

 


 

One Tuesday morning Dean notices Jay frowning at him.

The alpha’s working at his side, hanging drywall in what will be some rich couple’s livingroom while Dean does the wall opposite. He’s hurrying, since the build is a few days behind and they’re trying to catch up for it during the final fit out. He’s sweating a bit, no more than usual, but Jay keeps looking at him funny.

His next shot’s not due for a few weeks, but Dean’s not taking any chances. He steps outside and calls Lisa then puts on his best swagger, a front perfected over years, and comes back inside. He grabs his tools.

“Going somewhere Wesson?” Jay asks, and his voice is a bit lower, his posture a little more threatening than usual.

Dean forces himself to smirk. “Yep. My sweet little omega needs me, if you know what I mean.” He leers suggestively.

When he figures out Dean’s meaning, Jay grins and makes a show of scenting the air. Dean’s stomach curdles but he makes himself keep playing the smug asshole.

Man. I can smell her on you,” Jay tells him. “You’re one lucky son of bitch you know that? What I wouldn’t give for a hot little omega girl.” He says it playfully enough, but Dean can hear the undertone of jealousy, the way he’s pushing down alpha instinct to find the omega he can smell and fuck him or her stupid. “All I’ve had lately are betas and bitches.”

Dean’s not sure what he’s more pissed off about. The way he’s talking about well, Dean in essence, or the way he’s talking about Lisa. Instead of turning his nail-gun on Jay and burying a few studs in his forehead though, Dean smirks. “Well, you’re gonna have to find your own I’m afraid.”

 


  

Dean drives to the next town for his shot. He makes a careful note of the date and decides to get them a month early from now on. No way is he risking blowing his cover.

 


  

Time passes and Dean thinks he’s doing pretty well, considering. His life isn’t perfect, but he and Lisa and Ben are happy enough for two omegas raising a kid. As far as the general public is concerned, ‘Dean Wesson’ is still a beta and there are no more scares over being outed. Ben knows of course, but Lisa’s raised him right and he doesn’t say a thing.

At any rate, Dean thinks he’s managed to keep his promise to Sam. He’s happier than he ever thought he’d be, and even if the life he’s living isn’t completely normal, Dean doesn’t think his brother actually wanted him to be a normal omega. i.e. Find some dick like Jay and simper after him and his knot.

They have Thanksgiving together and Dean and Lisa manage to cook almost a full traditional dinner with their combined unimpressive cooking skills. The turkey is actually a chicken and pie is frozen, but they mash the sweet potato and make cornbread. When they’re sitting there eating Dean finds himself remembering Sam’s heaven. The thanksgiving dinner with that family of berks and the handsy girl with braces. It’s been months since he lost Sam and the thought still hurts, but it makes him snort quietly in amusement too.

Christmas is... good, but also painful. Dean remembers so many shitty ones with Sam that having a nice normal one with Ben and Lisa makes him almost as guilty as it does happy. It is though. Nice.

Ben’s school puts on a god awful play thing that he and Lisa sit though giving each other side-eyes. There are parties and BBQ’s put on by Lisa’s friends and a few of the guys from the construction crew that Dean doesn’t get the urge to strangle. He has a real job and he can actually buy decent gifts for a change. And there’s a big tree, which was actually kinda fun to decorate, to put them under.

He and Lisa go halves in getting Ben a big new amplifier for his guitar, a decision they both regret within 24 hours as slightly out of time Deep Purple and Metallica riffs vibrate through the entire house. He gets Lisa one of those bracelets with the fancy beads and charms all the yuppie women seem to be wearing, but adds a few discrete charms from Bobby and etches some protective sigils into the silver.

Lisa gives him some expensive aftershave and clothes that he’d never buy for himself, but she looks so happy when he wears them that he doesn’t mind. Ben gives him a keyring with a 67 Impala hanging off it. It's kinda goofy, but Dean likes it. An Impala for his Impala.

He and Lisa still share a bed, but they’ve reached some weird zen stage of their relationship/friendship. Dean’s pretty sure that eventually they’ll start having sex again, when he stops having dreams about Castiel and colors he can’t see anymore, but for the moment they are both happy with having someone warm and safe to sleep beside. A couple of pathetic omegas.

 


  

Then of course it all goes to shit.

Sam is alive.

Bobby knew and didn’t tell him.

His grandfather has returned from the grave. He has cousins and they’re dicks.

All the calm and peace Dean has worked so hard to find goes out the window. He tries to stay, to keep a hold of the little flawed bit of normal he’s made with Lisa and Ben, but he gets drawn in, drawn away.

 


 

Sam makes him pray to Castiel.

The moment he appears Dean knows he’s lost.

His body hums, as if waking up for the first time in a year. Castiel’s scent makes his breath catch, his voice makes his cheeks burn and when he catches Dean’s eyes all Dean can see is blue blue blue.

The world is a riot of color again.

It’s overwhelming.

He digs his fingernails into his hand as hard as he can.

Castiel says they share a “profound bond”

Dean thinks his heart might burst.

   

Chapter Text

Something is wrong with his brother and Castiel is changed.

He's still Castiel, of that Dean has no doubt. But he's distant and evasive in a way that goes beyond his customary alien angelness.

A vampire infects Dean and neither his brother nor Cas intervene. He's cured in the end, but it’s plain to Dean that Sam is not just changed or traumatised by Hell, he’s wrong.

He loses Lisa.

His grandfather is in league with the King of Hell.

Sam has no soul.

Castiel is at war and prayers go unanswered.

Things continue to spiral out of control until Sam tries to murder Bobby and Dean realises something has to be done.

In his desperation Dean calls upon Death himself.

 


 

Death is a cryptic son of a bitch, and Dean gets the feeling he's a moment away from being squashed like a bug, but some shitty deep fried food and a bit of ass kissing and he comes through in the end.

It's all a bit preachy, the stuff about souls and balance but Sam is Sam again.

Things are bleak, but Dean takes comfort in having his brother back. He's done something right, fixed one wrong at least.

 


 

Castiel fights his war in heaven and Dean feels like a dog begging for scraps, whining for attention.

He knows the angel is hiding something though. Castiel may not want Dean for a mate, but that doesn’t change the fact that Dean’s body considers him his alpha. He is an open book to Dean. His scent, his posture, every tiny expression that flits across his face - Dean is fluent in Castiel. And he can read the lies and fear that cling to his estranged mate.

Even Bobby and Sam grow suspicious.

Dean doesn’t want to believe it, defends him, but Castiel goes and digs his own grave and proves it himself. He's been eavesdropping. Listening in on them.

He insists they let him explain himself and even though he can tell Sam and Bobby are just humoring him, they agree. He wants to be wrong, he wants Cas to have been keeping an eye on them, not spying on them. Wants some reasonable explanation. He's an angel, maybe he honestly thought listening in on conversations was totally A-Okay. They trap him in holy fire and -

“It's hard to understand,” Castiel tells them. “It's hard to explain. Just let me go. Let me out and I can-”

Dean can already tell he’s lying, can smell it on him, but he’s desperate. “You got to look at me, man,” he pleads. “You gotta level with me and tell me what's going on. Look me in the eye and tell me you're not working with Crowley.” Dean tries to hold those blue eyes, but Cas can’t. Looks down at the floor.

There's a lump in Dean's throat. He swallows. There’s no deluding himself anymore. Cas has been working with a demon behind their backs. For months. Dean wonders how much of the Eve thing Cas knew about. He'd poisoned his own freaking blood and let her bite him. Had Cas let her out on purpose? And that whole thing with Crowley's bones - a trick? 

He feels stupid.

So fucking stupid. 

It’s been staring him in the face, but he’d thought – he’d so sure Cas wouldn’t do that. Whatever else there was between them, they were meant to be friends. Share a profound bond. He was meant to be able to trust him. For an awful moment Dean thinks he might cry. He can feel Sam and Bobby looking at him. Pitying him. And they don't even know the half of it. “You son of a bitch.”

“Let me explain!” Cas all but growls, but Dean’s too angry to listen. If he listen's he's liable to do something stupid like believe him.

“You're in it with him? You and Crowley have been going after Purgatory together?” Cas’s face is an open book. “You have, huh? This whole time.” It's like there's a knife twisting around in his guts.

“I did it to protect you!” Cas insists, and that just makes it worse because the way he says it... it’s the sort of thing a alpha would say to his omega. It's the first time Cas has ever acted like Dean’s mate and it just hurts.

Dean tries to make Cas change his mind, come with them. They've all made deals with devils, done stupid things. The road to Hell and all that. But he won't listen.

"It's too late now," he says "I can't turn back, I can't."

Demon smoke, great clouds of it darken the windows and shake the house. 

Cas tells them to run.

 


 

Dean gets that feeling. That shift in the air, the quiet flutter of wings and the faint scent of angel. If he was back at Lisa's he'd be telling himself not to turn around, that he was imagining things, but he's not so he does.

Cas is standing in Bobby's living room.

He looks devastated, sad. Like he really wants things right between them. 

"I'm doing this for you, Dean," he says. "I'm doing this because of you."

Dean's not sure if he wants to cry or bury his fist in Cas's face.

 


 

They take Ben and Lisa.

Dean hates himself. What the hell was he thinking? Just leaving them? That Crowley would just leave them alone since Lisa didn’t want him around anymore? What Lisa wanted doesn’t matter, Crowley and Cas know how much he still cares about them. Dean couldn’t have set them up as a target any better if he’d tried.

Unmated omega Lisa and her little boy, the family Dean had played house with for a year. The son he always wanted, the wife he never got. Seriously - what the fuck was he thinking? They needed full-blown goddamn demonic witness protection, not a couple of sigils and traps on the doorways.

He swears he’ll get them out of it, get them home safe, but he ends up getting Lisa stabbed in the guts and making Ben hold off demons with Ruby’s knife and a shotgun.

Ben’s trying to be brave, but his mom is bleeding to death and they’re being hunted by the damned. He’s been crying and his voice wavers. “Dean-”

Dean cuts him off. “Come on! Pull it together!” he hisses. “Do you want your mom to die?” It’s cruel, but Dean doesn’t have time to comfort Ben like he should. He defaults into intimidation and threats, unconsciously impersonating his dad. ‘You want them to get your brother Dean? You want Sammy to die like your mom?’

Ben’s face loses what little color it had but he lifts the gun again.

Dean wonders if his father felt this guilty.

 


 

Lisa’s dying. They got to Sam and got her to a hospital, but it’s too late. Dean was too late, made the wrong call, gambled with her life and now she’s dying.

Ben’s hatred is palpable. A dark cloud. He looks at Dean like he was the one that stabbed his mom.

He’s not far off the mark.

Ben leaves the room, too disgusted by Dean to sit near him. He thinks about following him, but he’s already said he’s sorry and really, what else is there to say?

A breeze flutters across the room and Castiel is there.

Bitterness mixes with the guilt and sadness swirling in Dean’s gut. He can’t deal with this shit right now. “What do you want?” he asks, not even trying to hide his anger.

Cas steps closer, soft mournful expression on his face. “Dean, listen.”

Dean doesn’t want to. Lisa is dying and it’s his fault. She’d been nothing but kind to him and... and this was where it got her. “What do you want me to say? She'll be dead by midnight.” And Ben left an orphan. Lisa’s parents were dead, she didn’t know who Ben’s father was, he’d probably end up in fucking foster home, cursing Dean’s name until the day he died.

“I'm sorry,” Cas tells him. Like that means anything. Like he wasn’t a party to all this. Sure the building Crowley had been keeping Ben and Lisa in had been angel-proofed, but with the way Cas had been tricking them and lying, for all Dean knows it was just a tactic to make Cas look innocent.

Dean clenches a fist. “I don't care. It's too little, too late.”

“Okay. Well, regardless, I didn't come for you.” Cas steps a little closer to Lisa and presses fingers to her forehead. Dean feels his heart give a vertigo inducing twitch. “She's fine now,” Cas tells him. “She'll wake soon. Dean, I said I'm sorry and I meant it.”

It doesn’t prove anything, doesn’t change the fact that Cas is essentially on Hell’s payroll, but... the machines monitoring Lisa beep, the readings change, grow stronger. Maybe this was Cas’s plan all along – save Lisa and make him grateful. Dean’s too tired to really care though. She’s going to live. That’s what matters.

“Thank you,” Dean says, his voice catching. “...I wish this changed anything.” 

Cas looks at him sadly. “I know. So do I,” he says, and maybe this is another trick, but Dean thinks he believes him. “All else aside, I just wanted to fix what I could.”

Dean thinks of Ben, the hatred in his eyes, the nightmares he’ll have, the fear that will lurk over his shoulder for the rest of his life. And Lisa. Lisa’s going to remember being possessed by a demon. She’s going to live, but will she be alright?

He looks at Cas. “There’s one more thing you can do for me.”

 


 

Lisa and Ben are both safe and neither of them have any recollection of him. Of any of the crap he’s dragged to their doorstep over the years.

Cas has wiped all the Dean Winchester from their memories and slightly twisted a few of the other details. Lisa’s got an urge to move. Do something. Her close call with death has inspired her to ‘live life to the fullest’ and all that. She’s got a friend from college who lives in Australia. She visited her on a holiday once. There’d been a framed picture of the two of them standing on a beach hanging in the hallway.

Dean’s never gonna see them ever again.

He wants to tell Lisa thank you. For being his friend, his family, a little speck of peace and quiet in a fucked up life, but she’s smiling at him awkwardly, uncomfortable at the strange man – who apparently almost killed her – standing in her hospital room.

He stares at her a moment, memorizing her face.

“You take care of your mom,” he tells Ben, voice thick and raw.

As he walks out of the room his eyes sting.

 


 

Sam's waiting with the Impala in the parking lot. Dean slides into the driver's seat. The keys are in the ignition.

A little silver charm, a miniature Impala, hangs from the ring.

It jingles when he reaches forward and Dean grips it in his palm for a moment, the hard edges digging into his skin.

"... Whitewashing their memories?" Sam is saying, all scathing disapproval. "Take it from somebody who knows-"

Dean cuts him off. "If you ever mention Lisa and Ben to me again, I'll break your nose."

He turns the key.

 

Chapter Text

Raphael explodes. Red. Bloody.

Just like Cas did in the cemetery what feels like a lifetime ago.

Dean stares at Castiel in a mix of horror and well, maybe a tiny part of him is impressed. Cas did it. Beat Raphael. Beat Crowley. And... he doesn’t seem mad with power or anything...

So maybe, maybe if Dean can get him to put back the ‘millions upon millions of souls’ before the eclipse ends then...

“Cas, listen to me,” he says, low and desperate. “We were family once. I'd have died for you. I almost did a few times. So if that means anything to you...” Castiel's face is blank. Dean ignores the hopelessness he feels and keeps going. “Please. I've lost Lisa, I've lost Ben..." He feels small. A tiny thing crawling at Cas's feet. "Don't make me lose you too.”

“You're just saying that because I won,” Cas tells him. “Because you are afraid.” His eyes narrow and for a moment he doesn’t look like Cas at all because he looks cruel. “You're not my family, Dean. I have no family.”

Dean’s breath catches and for a second he feels a phantom pain from the long vanished handprint on his arm, a burn that seems bone deep.

It's the closest Cas has ever come to speaking about it and it's cold denial and flat-out rejection, like standing in that dirty motel bathroom and finding Cas's mark gone all over again. Dean's eyes are burning and he can't breathe. He's a worm, a maggot, an animal. Cas won't even let him claim him as a brother, let alone a mate. 

Then Sam buries an angel blade in Castiel’s back. 

 


 

The souls are back in purgatory, but Cas is still wrong.

Dean remembers sitting across a table from Jimmy Novak and watching him eat a burger. He’d smelt like alpha, but not Dean’s alpha and it’d made his skin crawl.

The thing standing in front of him now isn’t his mate. His sort-of-mate. Whatever Cas is to him.

But it certainly isn’t Jimmy Novak either.

Something black and foul seeps out of his ears, coats his teeth, blackens his veins, clouds across his right eye like oil.

It crowds in close to Dean, digs into him with fingers like claws.

The voice is wrong too. “You’re different,” it says, scenting him. “Special.

Dean tries to break away but the hold it has on him is like steel. “Get off me!” he hisses.

“No.” It smiles with Cas’s face. “You’re ours," it purrs. "Aren’t you Dean?”

No,” Dean tells it, because he’s not. If he’s anyone’s - and he’s not - he’s Cas’s.

“You’re the angel’s. His special one. His favourite.” The smile widens and it tilts its head like it’s listening to something Dean can’t hear, a hilarious joke. “Oh, he’s so scared for you Dean! He’s screaming!”

Dean finally understands exactly what’s going on. Cas is alive in there somewhere. Possessed by something worse than any demon. “You let him go you sonofabitch!”

It jerks Dean closer, damp breath like decay on his face. “Tsk tsk little omega. That’s no way to talk to your alpha.” A tongue rasps along Dean’s jaw and he shudders. “He didn’t know how to treat you right did he Dean? Didn’t know how to put you in your place. Give you what you need.” Dean fights, but it pushes, pulls, trips him down onto the floor, crushing him into the concrete.

Dean can tell where this trainwreck is headed. He remembers that alpha in the bathroom years and years ago, when he was 17, before his shots, the one that had pinned him against the wall and tried too - Pretty little bitch. He thrashes wildly, bucks and struggles to get free. The thing wearing Cas isn’t some drunk biker though, it’s a monster and he can't get it off and there's no Sam to come save him this time.

From somewhere deep inside weird, high-pitched noises of distress are being forced from him. A detached part of him is glad that Sam and Bobby aren't around to see him, hear him like this.

Teeth at his throat, sharp and threatening. Dean stills. Falls silent on a whimper. His heart is beating like it might burst and he is shaking. The thing draws back, licks and bites up towards Dean’s ear. “Shhhh little omega slut,” it croons. “We’ll show your angel how it’s done. We’ll take care of you.” Dean can feel its erection, a hard line against his hip. Instinctively he tries to scoot backwards, shy away. He can’t though, can’t move at all.

There’s ice in his veins. It’s licking his face, tongue cold and slimy with more the black oily stuff. The stink of it, like a corpse left to bloom in stagnant water, makes Dean gag. He closes his eyes so he doesn't have to look at Cas's face. 

“Oh don't shut those pretty green eyes,” it admonishes him, lapping at the socket of his left eye, licking his eyelid open and tonguing across the wet ball beneath. It’s the most disgusting sensation Dean’s ever experienced and he’s been neck deep in monster goo and ectoplasm. He tries to turn his head away, but fingers like cold bones dig into his jaw. “Hmm. Maybe when we're done with you we'll pop them out and keep them.”

He can't help it. Alistair did far worse than pull out his eyes, but this is visceral and real. "Cas," he begs. "Cas please!" And he's guilty because if Cas is really in there, aware of this, then he's only making it worse.

It huffs almost fondly. "Oh Dean." Mouths at the hinge of his jaw. "We can't wait to hear you sing..."

He grits his teeth and tells himself he won't make another sound. 

It stiffens against him, its head dropping heavily onto Dean’s shoulder, and he braces himself for the inevitable. He's repulsed, his body cold and tight where a look from Cas always had him humiliatingly warm and wanting, and for that he is glad. Being left torn up and bloody is preferable to accepting the thing wearing Castiel in any way.

“Dean,” it says and suddenly everything changes. There’s still the swamp smell poisoning the air around them, but underneath it Dean smells the clean lightning storm scent of Cas and mate.

Every bone in Dean’s body goes liquid with the intensity of his relief and he more or less melts into the floor. “Cas?” he asks, pulling his head back so he can look at him and yes, yes it’s him. Cas. Dean thinks he might be hyperventilating.

“I am sorry Dean,” his mate tells him mournfully and stacked against all he has done, all his betrayals, it shouldn’t mean anything, but it does. Dean forgives him. Just like that. He pulls Cas closer, ignoring the oily filth and the smell and the hard concrete underneath him. Cas lets him, draws Dean into his arms, pulls him onto his side and holds him tightly, fiercely, like he doesn’t want to let go and Dean feels tears burn his eyes.

“Cas,” he says.

Cas shushes him like a child. Strokes a hand through his hair. Curls his palm against his jaw. Dean turns into the movement, starved and giddy. Castiel is touching him. His mate is touching him.

“You are special,” he tells Dean, voice hushed but firm. “That was not a lie... My Dean. My favored one.”

The words rub Dean raw and leave him bleeding. They soothe that desperate ache that’s haunted him since he woke up in a shallow grave with a mark on his arm and the idea of blue haunting him. He is special. To Castiel. His mate does care. It isn’t a declaration of love or anything that usually goes hand in hand with a truematch, but it’s enough, enough to be special, to be favoured. To be Castiel’s Dean.

He doesn’t need the rest. He’s lived on less than nothing for years, lingering looks and awkward touches. He curls his fingers into Cas's filthy coat and buries his head against his shoulder.

He wants to laugh and cry at the same time. He hasn’t been so happy in years. Maybe never. "Cas," he says, then whispers, daring, “my cas.”

It lasts perhaps 30 seconds, then Cas pulls away, rises to his feet. Dean looks up, suddenly cold and scared once more. He’s done something wrong. He shouldn’t have said anything, should have kept his stupid mouth shut and now -

“I cannot hold them,” Cas tells him, looking down at him with a face that's so sad it is almost human. He isn’t angry at Dean. “Goodbye Dean.” 

There's a flutter of wings and Dean is alone.

For a moment he just stares. Then he scrambles to his feet, runs outside even though Cas could have flown anywhere, the other side of the world, the moon. Sam and Bobby stumble out from somewhere, bloody but alive. Dean runs past them. His heart pulls him in the right direction. A reservoir. A deep lake, wide and dark.

Castiel is walking woodenly out into the water.

“Cas!” Dean screams. “CAS!”

no no no.

He doesn’t look back. Just shrinks beneath the water, chest, shoulders, neck. There is no splash or ripple when the water closes over him. No sign of his passing at all. Dean stares at the dark water and the green trees beyond. Waits, but Cas does not return.

Minutes pass, and then something roils and shifts deep below the surface. An inky black explosion.

For the third time Dean feels his mate die. It hurts more this time, rips through his guts like razor wire and leaves him reeling. He sinks to the ground and stares out over the water.

He can't move.

My favoured one.

The shoreline blurs as the color fades, greens and browns slowly bleeding into muted greys.

My Dean.

Neither Sam nor Bobby say anything.

Something catches his eye in the shallows. Dean fishes it out of the weeds. It’s Cas’s trenchcoat, filthy and torn. He folds it up and walks away.

Chapter Text

He slips up. It’s been a secret so long, he’s not sure why it comes out now.

It’s no special occasion. He’s drunk, but he’s been way drunker plenty of times over the last few years.

Maybe he’s getting sentimental in his old age. He and Sam are sitting on the hood of the Impala drinking beer that’s a little too warm. Sam’s trying to subtly dig fingers into the cut on his palm, distracting himself from his Hell induced hallucinations and Dean opens his mouth, thinking to distract him with something a bit less emo.

“Does it ever get easier?” he asks. “Everything being grey?”

Sam’s hands still and he turns to look at Dean. Dean keeps his eyes turned upwards on the stars. They haven’t talked about Jess in years. Never really talked about her. “Dean?” Sam asks, confused and maybe a little bit suspicious. Dean doesn’t blame him, that did sound like the opening volley to a discussion involving feelings.

“Dad used to tell me that sometimes, when I smiled just right, I looked so much like mom that he could see her in me. See colors again.” Dean sips his beer. “I have her eyes apparently. Same green.”

“I didn’t know that,” Sam says quietly. “He never told me.”

Dean hums vaguely and they drink their beer in silence for a few little while. Sam doesn’t start fiddling with his hand again though. “That’s never happened for me,” he tells Dean instead. “Since Jess, I’ve never seen any colors.”

Dean can feel it bubbling up inside him, like a volcano about to erupt. He wants to tell Sam, tell him all the stuff no one knows, things he only ever told Lisa late at night curled up in her bed, things not a living soul knows since she’s forgotten them along with everything else that Cas wiped from her memory.

“Sometimes I wish I’d never met her,” Sam says quietly. “It’s been years and I still miss her. Once you’ve had that... no one else can ever live up to it.”

Dean thinks of all the girls Sam’s gone starry eyed over since Jess. “So Sarah, Madison...” there were others but he doesn’t remember their names. “- nothing?”

“Oh there was something, sure. But not... like Jess,” Sam shrugs. “More like you and Lisa I guess.”

That’s not so bad then. Dean had been more or less happy with Lisa, fucked up as their ‘relationship’ was, if it could even be called that, weird co-dependant omega thing that is was. “I used to wish she’d been my mate,” Dean admits. “It would have been so easy.” What he really means though, is that it would have been so easy if he’d been an alpha like he’d always expected. If he’d had a Jess or a Lisa out there somewhere waiting for him.

“Don’t give up dude, you’re not that old,” Sam tells him, not really getting Dean’s point at all. “And besides, the statistical likelihood of meeting your truemate only increases the older you get.”

“Not if they’re dead,” Dean says, suddenly furious, anger and resentment rushing over him so fast it leaves him light-headed. “Not if they’re a stupid fucking angel that doesn’t even know what the fuck-” He’s crying and he wants to scream. Jerking to his feet he pegs his half empty beer down the empty highway. It smashes against the asphalt with a satisfyingly wet crunch.

He can’t look at Sam. Perching back on the hood of the car he brings his knees up and presses his face into the denim, shoving his hands into his hair, pulling on it. There’s no noise coming from him, despite the way his chest feels like it’s burning, but he can’t stop his shoulders from shaking.

“Cas?” Sam asks. “Castiel!?” and the way his voice is all choked up with disbelief and pity makes it even harder for Dean to control himself. He’s humiliated, crying like the stereotypical omega he’s never wanted to be, but Sam isn’t saying anything. Instead he slides closer and wraps an arm over Dean’s shoulders, pulling him into a sort-of-hug. “Shit Dean... How long?”

Dean sucks in a breath. “For... for-fucking-ever!?” he manages to grind out. Sobs and gasps interrupt him, make him sound hysterical, but words pour out. “I woke up – inna pine box – and dug my way out -  an it – it was blue Sammy.” He swallows. “ th’sky.”

“All this time?” Sam asks. “Since hell?

Dean nods, sniffs his running nose. “I knew,” he sobs. “I knew tha momen I -.”

Sam pulls him into a proper hug, big stupid arms wrapping around him easily and Dean buries his face against a warm shoulder that smells comfortingly familiar. It calms him and he’s able to get a hold of himself within a few minutes. A part of him wants to say more, complain about how Cas never wanted him and how he kept leaving, how much it all fucking hurt, but even as wrecked as is, Dean doesn’t let himself.

“He left you. Your mate. I was gone and he fucking left you at Lisa’s,” Sam sounds angry, offended on Dean’s behalf.

“After Stull, in the car,” Dean tells him, calmer now. “One second he was there, next he was gone.” He clenches his jaw at the memory. “Hurt,” he admits. “I guess cause he was in heaven, it felt like he was dead. Stupid fucking omega brain went into mourning for a mate. Everything went grey again. Like when Raphael killed him.”

Sam makes noise low in throat. “So he dies, twice, and then you start to get over him and I made you call him back.”

Dean nods against his brother’s shoulder.

“And then my soul, Crowley, the purgatory souls, the reservoir... Fuck Dean. No wonder you’ve been wrecked.” Sam swallows and Dean feels the movement in his chest. “Are you okay?”

“No.” Dean sighs, pulls himself out of his brother’s arms, wipes his eyes. “And neither are you. But shit, when are we ever okay right?”

Sam frowns and scrubs a hand through his hair. Sighs explosively. “It doesn’t get better,” he tells Dean. “But it does get easier. You forget.”

Dean figured as much.

 


 

Sam stares into empty corners, clutches at his hand, flinches at things Dean can’t see or hear. It doesn’t get better, it gets worse. Soon he’s drifting off mid-conversation and waking Dean a dozen times a night with screams and whimpers.

It gets so bad Sam can’t sleep at all.

Dean gets desperate, desperate enough he follows up Bobby’s ‘spirit healer’.

 


 

When Dean catches sight of ‘Emanuel’ standing over the dead demon he wants to... he’s not sure.  Scream maybe. Scream at the god he knows doesn’t care because he thought he was finally done with this shit, this tortured love story.

But Cas’s eyes are still blue and he still stares at Dean like he’s looking right through him.

Dean stares right back.

He can’t help it. It’s a bright sunny day and for a moment he forgets Sam lying mad and dying, that this is the man that hurt him because it’s Cas and his inner omega is throwing a ticker tape parade because his mate is alive. Alive and standing in golden sunlight, the lawn blindingly green under his feet.

Dean follows him blindly, scent drunk on the familiar smell of lightning storm and angel, dazed with it, with mate and Cas and mine. He wants to wrap his arms around him, bury his nose against the pale column of Castiel’s neck, that sliver of skin above his collar where dark hair curls against his nape and just breathe him in.

Inside the house Cas unties the woman he saw through the window - Daphne Allen he assumes - a pretty beta with brown hair and green eyes. She touches him with familiarity that makes Dean’s stomach clench in suspicion and jealousy. What the fuck is this? he thinks, has to restrain the urge to go and physically pull her off his mate. And then Cas helps her stand and their hands stay tightly joined. A united front.

Dean inhales. They don’t smell mated, but there’s something between them and it makes his skin itch.

“I’m Emanuel,” Cas says, still no recognition in his face as he holds out his hand for Dean to shake like they’re strangers.

Dean doesn’t smell deceit, and he’s intimately familiar with how Cas’s scent changes when he lies. He doesn’t know Dean. Doesn’t remember. At his side Daphne pushes closer, both offering support and seeking comfort. Dean blinks, takes the hand offered automatically. Cas’s hand is warm and soft and the shock of awareness that twists up his arm has him flustered, off-kilter, trying to keep his wits. “Dean,” he says because that must mean something to him surely? (my dean, my favoured one). “I’m... Dean.”

Cas nods, but doesn’t react to his name. To anything. Just says earnestly, “Thank you for protecting my wife.”

The world tilts alarmingly.

“Your... wife?” Dean manages.

He’s married. Cas is married. His mate is married -

He can’t do this anymore. Won’t. Whatever this is he should just turn and walk away. Out of the house. Away. Just... away.

But Leviathans are out there and Sam is lying in a mental ward dying. There are more important things than Dean Winchester and His Feelings. He grits his teeth and shoves everything he feels down inside. Deep deep inside.

Cas’s... wife presses her hand to his chest. Shifts closer to him. Something red hot and bitter swirls in Dean, but he pushes that down too. Sam, he tells himself. Focus on Sam.

 


 

Cas sits up front, shotgun. Just like he did years previously. When he was an angel on Dean’s side. When Dean wore his claim burnt into his skin. When Dean was slightly in awe and more than a little in love with him. Cas is different though. He slouches in the seat like a normal man instead of an angel of the lord. He’s wearing a soft blue jacket instead of a rumbled shirt and tie. It almost matches his eyes. Dean can’t help but wonder if Daphne knows that. If Cas makes her see colors too. The thought makes him sick.

Everything is so wrong, so different. He almost misses the apocalypse.

Now Meg, a demon is sitting in the backseat. Now a married, amnesiac Cas watches Dean out of the corner of his eye, like he’s worried he’ll attack him.

Dean’s jaw aches from clenching his mouth shut, from holding in all the things that keep trying to bubble out. Cas has no right to look at him like that. To be scared of him. He never betrayed Cas. He never abandoned him. Cas made this entire mess, not Dean.

He grips the steering wheel so hard the leather creaks a little under his fingers.

 


 

Cas can’t heal Sam. He remembers everything, how to smite a demon, how to stretch his wings and fly, Dean’s name... But he looks at Dean sadly and says he can’t do it.

Dean deflates, sinks down the wall and sits on the floor. He’s so tired.

Meg’s lurking in the hallway guarding the room from Crowley’s henchmen. His mate is standing in front of him and he can’t even bear to look at him. His brother is lying not 3 feet away dying, sanity driven away by satan himself. There’s nothing else, nothing that can help him. “Just go,” he tells Cas.

The angel peers down at him, tilts his head, and for a moment he’s so heart-achingly Cas that Dean wants to tell him to stay. He can’t though. He’s the reason Sam is dying. Dean can forgive a lot of things, but this? Cas had knocked down Sam’s wall as a distraction, like his very soul and sanity was nothing, a thing he could interfere with. And he hadn’t been poisoned by the purgatory souls when he’d done it. That had been him, the real him. There’s no excuse.

Then Cas has to go and prove Dean wrong, take Sam’s madness into himself.

“It’s better this way,” he says, sounding like he’s trying to convince himself more than Dean. “I’ll be fine.” Dean can taste the lie, but he just stands there and watches as Cas pulls whatever mojo Lucifer left scarred over Sam’s soul into himself.

Sam sits up, looks around in shock. “Cas?!”

Castiel backs away, cowers against the wall, scared of something only he can see.

 


 

Dean’s mate is alive. He knows it, his body knows it, so even though Cas is locked up with Meg in a mental hospital, Dean drives through green fields under blue skies again.

It is easier when they were grey and Castiel was dead.

Chapter Text

Sam sends him mournful, guilty looks when he thinks Dean isn’t looking, as if he blames himself for Cas being crazy.  Dean can’t deal with the idea of another teary heart to heart, but he forces himself to shoot down that stupid theory as they drive away from the hospital, leaving Cas with no one but Meg for protection.

“Cas knew what he was doing,” he tells Sam. “He’s the one that broke your wall. None of this is your fault. So enough with the puppydog eyes.”

Sam sighs. “I still can’t believe we’re just leaving him there though. I mean, can we really trust Meg?”

Dean grits his teeth. Angry and confused as he is over Cas, he’s not exactly ecstatic that he’s been left in the tender friggin care of a demon. “We can’t take him with us,” he says. Sam shoots him a look and opens his mouth like he’s gonna argue the point. Dean cuts him off. “We can angst over our shitty luck after we’ve taken down Dick Roman,” he tells him. And boy, Dean’s real fucking eager to nail that sonovabitch.

Sam sighs again, but nods his agreement.

 


 

Castiel and Meg are like, friends or something.

Dean doesn’t like it. Doesn’t like that Meg, a demon, the same demon that killed Pastor Jim, possessed Sam and set hellhounds on Ellen and Jo, is Cas’s protector and keeper or whatever. Okay so he’s got some... grudging respect for her, she’s come through for them a few times, but he’s got no illusions. She’s a demon and she can’t be trusted.

The last time he let down his guard around a demon, Ruby tricked Sam into releasing Lucifer. He’s not making that same mistake again. So he watches carefully, hangs on her every word, waiting for the moment she shows her hand.

But all he notices is how Cas acts around her. He stands too close to her, right up in her space, like he used to stand too close to Dean. He comes when she calls. He smiles at her, soft almost human smiles, and calls her beautiful.

Dean tells himself Cas is insane, that it doesn’t mean anything, but seeing his mate follow Meg around makes his insides twist in jealousy. It’s worse than with Daphne. That ‘Cas’ hadn’t remembered. This one does and crazy or not, he’s choosing a demon over Dean.

 


 

Meg kisses him.

Dean sees her hands sliding under Cas’s coat, looking for his sword, and he knows it’s a distraction, but still. She’s kissing his mate. He wants to rip her spine out. He starts forward instinctively, but Sam’s got a hand on his arm, holding him back, and he remembers himself.

It isn’t real, doesn’t mean anything. Just Meg being a devious bitch and Cas being crazy.

Then Cas kisses her back.

There’s nothing angelic and awkward about it at all. He pushes Meg up against a wall and frenches her like he wants her, like he’s desperate for her, like he’s going to sink his teeth into her neck and claim her for a mate. Dean can smell him, the thunderstorm scent of Cas thickening in the air around him. The long faded mark on his arm twitches like a phantom limb as he breathes in alpha and mate.

Meg seems bemused by the entire exchange, but her beta meatsuit gives off the flaring scent of arousal. It’s acrid and catches in the back of Dean’s throat like something burnt. He has to swallow down a growl, calm a primitive urge to yank Cas closer and rub himself all over him until he smells like Dean not Meg. His grip on Ruby’s knife tightens. He wants to bury it in Meg’s stomach. Cut her open like one of those souls in hell. Use all Alistair’s tricks on her. Make it last hours -

- Sam’s fingers dig into his wrist. Dean swallows and bites at the inside of his mouth.

 


 

Cas, despite his enduring weirdness (‘I watch the bees Dean’) seems like he is... maybe improving. He agrees to help them find the real Dick Roman and he’s there at Dean’s side as they track down and corner him. It feels right, like he is back where he belongs.

They win.

Somehow, Dean, Sam, Kevin, Meg and Castiel pull victory out of their asses. Two hunters, a demon, a high school kid who can read god scribbles and an unhinged angel. Dean has maybe a second or two to enjoy the unlikely, but very satisfying end to the whole Leviathan mess, then of course it backfires.

Dick Roman explodes, the nun’s femur through his throat doing its thing, but he drags Dean and Castiel down to purgatory with him.

 


 

It’s dark. Cold.

Achingly, wrongly, cold.

There is a familiar, swampy wet smell tickling the back of Dean’s throat. He remembers the Leviathan wearing Cas, pressing him to the concrete in Crowley’s lab and the cloying stink of the thick oily slick seeping from him. The same rank sweetness hangs in the air.

Dean’s heart races. He spins, taking in his surroundings (a forest. Leaves under his feet. Trees surrounding him.), but he can’t see his angel.

“Cas?!” he calls.

Red eyes glare at him from the darkness. Growls and hisses.

Dean is alone.

 


 

He loses his bowie in the third thing that attacks, the blade sticks in bone and is jarred from his grip. He hefts Ruby’s knife and manages to hold off the two last two in closer combat, but he’s got a bite on one arm and a long line of claw marks down his back by the time he finishes them off.

He searches the stinking corpses but he can’t find his bowie and there’s movement around him. Things drawn by the sounds of fighting. Dean slinks into the darkness, eyes wide, praying for a glimpse of a pale trenchcoat between the trees but too afraid to call out.

 


 

Purgatory.

The irony of it doesn’t escape him. Dean Winchester, Monster Hunter Extraordinaire, stuck in Monster Heaven.

It isn’t at all how he imagined it, it’s nothing like Hell, just an endless forest filled with monsters.

He buries himself under leaves and undergrowth and sleeps during what passes for day. Some of the things he encounters he recognises - vampires, werewolves, rugarus, arachnes – all the things he’s hunted over the years, but others are twisted and strange, so far removed from human he can’t even start to understand them.

 


 

Human or not, Dean Winchester is just one more killer, one more hunter stalking the forest. He probably fits in better in purgatory than he did in heaven. He avoids the old things he doesn’t understand and tracks the things he does. Sometimes it feels just like any other hunt.

He misses his .45, his shotgun, and his bowie though. And Sam. And his baby.

Ruby’s knife is fine for finishing things off, but it’s small. To soften things up he uses a club fashioned from a hunk of wood until he takes out some kind of two headed dog-man thing and liberates a heavy spear. It’s awkward, but at least it has a pointy end. He ploughs his way through a week’s worth of baddies, always on the move, always asking “Where’s the angel?” before he takes the heads off a couple of vamps and ends up with a nasty looking machete.

Days blur and he grows attached to it. It becomes an extension of his arm.

Time passes and instead of growing weaker at the lack of food and clean water, the dirt and grime, Dean feels sleek and strong. Fitter and quicker than he’s felt in years. It probably says bad things about him that he’s thriving in purgatory, but he is.

But he’s restless. He needs to find Cas. The compulsion grows in him everyday. The longer he goes without human conversation, without a friendly face, the more anxious he gets. He drives himself onwards, hacking through all manner of monsters in his search. Find Cas. Get home to Sam. That’s what keeps up and stalking through the trees, looking for signs of things he can catch and interrogate.

He loses track of time somewhere around the 60 day mark. Of course fuck knows how time works in this place. Maybe it’s been a few centuries on Earth. Maybe Sam’s already long dead. Dean tries to ignore those thoughts.

He stumbles across Cas what could be a month, or a year later.

The angel is crouched at a stream, drinking.

Dean stares for a long time, just stands at the tree line like a statue, wondering if he’s hallucinating.

“Cas?” he hasn’t spoken in days, not since he sliced up that rugaru. His voice sounds cracked and rough.

The figure freezes, but instead of disappearing like a mirage, it turns to face him. And it’s him. It’s Cas. Dean smiles, joy at finding his mate resonating through him, ringing through his body like the chiming of a bell. He has Cas pulled into a hug before he even realises what he’s doing.

Cas is stiff in his arms, but Dean doesn’t mind. He doesn’t expect an exuberant welcome. His mate is an angel after all. He grins and squeezes him tight for a moment, revelling in the clean familiar scent of Cas after endless months with nothing but the stink of purgatory choking him. “Cas!” he says again, relieved, so happy to have found him. Now it will be okay. Now that he has Cas they’ll find their way home.

Cas shrugs off the hand Dean has on his shoulder. “Dean,” he says, and he sounds... disappointed.

Something freezes painfully inside Dean’s guts. He takes a step back and looks at Cas’s face. Dean sucks in a breath, jerks back like a kicked dog at his expression. His alpha does not look pleased that Dean has searched so hard and long to find him.

Apparently he didn’t want to be found.

It never occurred to Dean that Cas was running from him.

Chapter Text

Castiel is once again changed.

He is calm and sane again, but withdrawn entirely. There is no hint of amusement or affection in his eyes, things that Dean remembers from years past, from when he was still a loyal solider of heaven even.

Cas stays with Dean, but monosyllabic answers are all he offers by way of conversation. If Dean tries to touch him, his shoulder, his arm - just small casual of gestures of companionship and familiarity - he shrugs him off. When they stop to rest and Dean sets a fire, Cas sits directly across from him, as far away as he can.

Dean hunches in on himself in the cold, pulls his jacket in tighter.

Castiel doesn’t say anything, but Dean gets the message loud and clear. His mate would rather be lost and alone in a forest full of monsters than at his side.

Dean curses himself for forgetting, for opening himself up to this old pain again.

Castiel is an angel. He doesn’t feel things like a human, doesn’t want human friendship, doesn’t need company.

He hears his own voice twisted with bitterness and pain.

‘Angels don’t love. It’s not real.’

 


 

Dean tries to respect Cas’s wishes. The omega part of him that he can’t quite supress wants nothing more than to please its mate, its alpha, and for once that side of him actually helps. He stands farther from Cas than he’d like, he doesn’t annoy him with meaningless conversation and he certainly doesn’t touch him.

His body however, is stupid.

His mate is close. The scent of him lulls Dean when he sleeps and lingers at his side as they hunt. Stuck in an endless forest, in some unlife where all Dean needs is a few hours sleep and a mouthful of water and he’s recharged for a new day, something long supressed wakes up.

Dean hasn't been through a heat since that first cycle on his return from Hell. A suppressant shot twice a year meant he didn’t have to worry about the practicalities of being an omega. But it has been months. And even though Dean doesn’t apparently need to eat in this strange place, it seems he still has other appetites.

He doesn’t recognise the signs for the first few days. It’s been so long and he has grown so used to the strange routine of purgatory that his flushed skin and shivery weakness don’t register to him.

Then he wakes up from a vivid dream and finds his jeans soaked and his dick hard and leaking. Cas is looking at him, frowning, from across the glowing coals of their fire.

Dean stares at him for a long moment. He knows how he must smell, how obvious his heat must be, and if he were in public he would be afraid. Alphas in the presence of an in-heat omega are violent and don’t take no for an answer. The sweet scent of a compatible omega's heat triggers a rut in them, strips them of their senses. The biological imperative to fuck and knot and claim is almost impossible to deny.

Dean looks at Cas - dirty, unshaven and dressed in a filthy set of mental hospital scrubs - and he aches. It’s not like the frustrating confusion of Dean’s adolescent heats, all that heat and want is zeroed in, focused entirely upon Castiel. Dean is in heat for his alpha. His body is wet and open for him. Just him. For his mate. For Cas.

Cas Cas Cas.

He can smell him from across the fire, the familiar static scent of angel and alpha. It makes his mouth water. Makes a fresh pulse of slick slide between his cheeks, makes him bite at his lips to stifle a moan.

The scent of his heat thickens in the air, sweet omega stink like burnt sugar. His cheeks flush and sweat beads on his brow and across the back of his neck, sliding in droplets that feel like warm honey on his hypersensitive skin.

Dean wants. Wants Cas.

Needs him.

A breathy pleading noise that might be Castiel’s name escapes him and he lifts a hand, holds it out to his mate, beckoning.

Cas looks at it and frowns in confusion. Stares at him for a long, long, moment, brow furrowed, and then looks away from Dean and into the trees, entirely unaffected.

In his addled state it takes a minute to sink into Dean’s mind. He doesn’t understand. He looks at his outstretched hand in confusion. Why is his mate ignoring him? Dean needs him. He shifts his gaze from his dirty fingers to Cas’s profile. Something clicks in the back of his heat-addled mind. He swallows. Oh. Lowers his hand to his side. Oh. Forces himself to look up at the grey starless sky of Purgatory and not at Castiel. oh.

His alpha doesn't want him.

The casual rejection of it is like a punch to the solar plexus.

The caramel smell of Dean’s heat turns sharp and bitter, the scent of salt mixing in from silent tears.

The sting of Castiel’s disinterest is enough to keep him on his side of the fire, to make him close his eyes and feign sleep as he sweats and hurts.

 


 

They cross a stream a few hours after dawn. He tells Cas he wants to wash and the angel leaves him.

Dean doesn’t wait. He wades across the icy water, it soothes him somewhat, and then walks off into the trees.

He knows what he’s doing.

The one and only time John had sat him down to talk about sex after his first heat he’d made a few things clear. The underlying message Dean took away from that awkward conversation was: mated omegas were a liability. An unmated omega was a mess for a few days, but a mated one needed their alpha when they went into heat. If he wanted to keep hunting he needed to pretend to be ‘normal’. A beta. If he let some alpha claim him, he’d not only be tied to them for the foreseeable future, but he’d be putting his life in their hands quite literally.

If a mated omega was abandoned by their alpha, they could never come off suppressants. Their heats were just too dangerous without their mate to slake them. There’d been actual concern in John’s voice when he’d explained that last part, not just thinly veiled disgust. Dean had taken it to heart. From the moment he turned 18 and could have suppressant shots, he’d had exactly one heat.

So what he’s doing is stupid.

A mated omega can die during a heat. Dehydration or the fever frying out their wits. But... he’s not actually mated. Cas has a claim on him, but he’s never acted on it and clearly he doesn’t want to. So... So he should live. Probably.

But Dean remembers how bad that last heat had been when he was fresh out of hell. This will be worse, much, much worse, and there’s no Bobby to look after him this time. A voice in the back of head that sounds a lot like his father is telling Dean he’s being stupid. One that sounds like Bobby tells him that he needs to suck it up and tell his good for nothing mate he needs to take care of Dean. It’s Cas’s duty as an alpha.

But Dean can’t bear the thought of Cas... forcing himself to perform. Looking at Dean with that cool angelic detachment of his.

Dean doesn’t stop. He keeps walking. 

The stink of his heat disgusts him. Makes him feel nauseous even though he hasn’t eaten in months.

Night falls.

Dawn comes.

He's tired.

He crosses another stream and drinks deeply, laying in the frigid water fully dressed to try and cool the fever of his skin.

Night comes again. Dean knows by this point that Cas has not followed. He's dizzy and each step grows harder. He trips over a tree root. The damp leaf litter feels blessedly cool against his skin when he sprawls on the ground, so he lays back a little while.

 


 

He awakens to a sky that is pale with dawn above his head. His head aches. Everything aches.

When he stands he reels like a drunk, his vision blackening in from the edges. He props himself against a tree and pants, trying to catch his breath. It’s several minutes before he’s steady enough on his feet to walk.

Sweat coats his skin, alternately soothing when his skin flushes hot, and freezing when a chill wracks through him.

He stumbles across a damp cave under an outcropping of rock sometime in the late afternoon. Dean doesn’t even stop to consider the wisdom of his choice, he just ducks inside and collapses on the dirt and leaves within, giving only the most cursory of glances to ensure it is empty.

 


 

When he next wakes it's because something shockingly cold is trickling into his mouth. He swallows automatically. Water. He opens his eyes and there is Cas. Leaning over him, his chin wet, smelling like rainclouds. Dean dimly registers that the angel has been feeding him water like a bird. The taste of him lingers in Dean's mouth.

“You are ill,” he tells Dean, frowning. “You wandered far.”

Dean just looks at him in quiet despair. Why can't Cas leave him alone?

“I didn't realize you could fall sick in this place,” Cas continues.

Dean’s heart skips in shock. He doesn’t know. Cas doesn’t even know what’s happening. How Dean is hurting. What Cas is doing to him. He has always found his emotions difficult to manage during his heats, and he is particularly vulnerable in this instance. He begins to cry.

Cas frowns. Presses a palm to Dean’s forehead. The touch is like a brand, makes Dean shiver with want and he sobs, tries to turn away from it.

“I have no medicine,” the angel says. His voice is concerned and a little confused.

It's plain that Dean's heat is still not affecting him in even the slightest way. The agony of that makes it nearly impossible for Dean to calm his tears enough to speak, but eventually he manages.

“Go away Cas,” he begs. “Please...  just... go away.”

 


 

Dean is burning. Dying.

No matter how he twists he cannot get comfortable. His entire body is simultaneously on fire and freezing cold. His mate’s scent hangs heavy around him, every breath Dean takes drawing it in and making everything hurt even worse.

And it has been days. Dean feels stripped out, like his insides have been scoured. He can’t do it anymore.

“Please,” he groans.“Please Cas... Need you.” Dean is dimly aware that he has been begging his mate on and off for sometime, but he is beyond pride at this point.

Cas is at his side, hands blessedly cool. “I don’t understand Dean. You must tell me.”

Dean sobs.

“Dean?” Cas sounds worried and it’s only that which gives Dean the strength to explain.

He squeezes his eyes shut and forces the words out, hating himself for his own weakness. “It’s heat Cas. In heat.”

“Oh.” Cas is silent for a moment. Dean keeps his eyes shut, doesn’t want to see his mate’s expression. His disgust. “You are a male-omega of the human gender designations,” Cas says, as if that fact is about as important as Dean’s hair color or something.

Dean wants to cry 'I'm your omega! your mate!’ but he doesn’t. Instead he nods weakly.

Cas is silent for a moment. “You require... penetrative... fornication to satisfy your reproductive cycle?” He sounds unsure, like he’s reciting some long forgotten fact learned in school or something.

Dean can’t bring himself to say yes, it’s too humiliating. He sobs brokenly. His chest feels like it’s splitting in two. Cas’s hands settle on his shoulders, steadying him.

“Calm yourself Dean. I am willing to assist.” Dean doesn’t open his eyes, Cas sounds about as excited at the prospect as he’d been back in the brothel with Chastity years ago. Dean can imagine his wide eyes and freaked out facial expression vividly.

Dean rolls over onto his stomach. “I’m sorry Cas,” he whispers into the crock of his elbow, the words ugly and mangled by how his breath is catching and the sobs he can't quite smother.

“It’s natural Dean,” Cas tells him, all calm and detached. “And nothing you need apologize for.”

“I know--” Dean says. “But I know... you don’t want to.”

Cas is quiet. “Is that why you left?” he asks in surprise. “You did not think I would assist you?”

“Didn’t wanna... have to ask you,” Dean clarifies softly.

“I am your friend Dean,” Cas says, a hand catching at his shoulder, squeezing a little. “There is much I would do for you.”

There’s ‘much I’d do for you’ Dean thinks. Including walking off into the trees to die like a stupid lovesick omega instead of this.

 


 

Dean’s mate touches him for the first time since that embrace at the reservoir.

He does not kiss him or stare into his eyes or stroke reverent hands across his skin. He pulls his filthy jeans down around his knees, rolls him on his side and then awkwardly positions himself against Dean’s hole.

He has never been with a man and there is no foreplay or preparation. Even as swollen and slick with heat as Dean is, it hurts. A burning stretch. His breath is forced out of him by the shock of it, the ache and throb, and then Cas is moving, jerking movements that tear at Dean, make him whimper and wince in pain. He focuses on that, hating that a part of him enjoys it - this thing he is forcing upon Cas - revels in finally being taken by his alpha.

Behind him his mate is silent. His hips shift and thrust mechanically.

Dean bites his lip. Shoves his palm into his mouth.

The only places Cas touches him are his dick in his ass and the hand he has pressed to Dean’s hip to steady his thrusts. There is nothing even remotely affectionate about it. Dean tries very hard to detach himself from what is happening, but he can’t.

He bites the meat of his palm hard, trying to stop the sobs he feels threatening to escape him.

He’s loved Castiel for years. Wanted him even longer, since the moment he burst into that barn in Indiana. Since he woke up in the dirt and knew what blue was. His mate. His Cas.

This is awful. This is torture. This is undeniable proof that his mate doesn’t want him, not even a little.

There are no kisses for Dean like there were for Meg.

There are no soft smiles or touches like Emanuel gave Daphne.

Just this. This is what Dean gets. A grudging fuck in the dirt.

His heart is breaking, being torn into tiny stupid pieces in his chest.

He isn’t special. He isn’t favored.

Cas doesn’t love him. Angels don’t love.

His mate can hardly bear to touch him, even in the throes of heat.

He can’t help it, he cries. Painful wracking sobs that he can’t possibly hope to hide from Castiel, and even if he could, the smell of his distress is pungent, an acrid undertone to the hateful sugar-stink of his heat.

The hand on his hip moves away. Cas stills. Dean curls forward on his side, unable to stop now the floodgates are open. He’s making awful noises, like a dying animal. He wishes Cas hadn’t found him, wishes he’d run into some monster to put him out of his misery before Cas could catch up. Anything, anything would be better than this.

“Dean? I am... Am I hurting you?”

Dean shakes his head.

Cas is quiet, hesitant. “Is it the heat?”

Dean nods. The lie is easier than the truth.  

“I must ejaculate to slake it,” Cas says, clinical and detached.

Dean swallows back bile. Nods again.

“Tell me if you wish for me to stop.”

Dean screws his eyes shut and focuses on crying as quietly as possible.

It takes forever for Castiel to come. Dean wonders if he has to think of Meg or Daphne to do so. There is no gasp or groan of pleasure, and certainly no utterance of Dean’s name. Castiel just goes still, his knot swells, and Dean feels the pulse of come deep inside.

Cas lies like a statue behind him, a warm presence, but not touching anywhere save where his hips press into Dean’s ass. He leans as far away from Dean’s body as he is able. His knot is hot and huge feeling inside Dean - a painful aching stretch - but already he feels a hollow sort of calm washing over him as his mate’s ejaculate fills him in spurts. He is able to stop his tears, slow his breathing.

He sleeps.

Chapter Text

Dean is himself again when next he wakes.

His body aches and his thighs are crusted with slick and come, but his mind is clear again.

Cas has built a fire and is sitting opposite, as far from Dean as the circle enables. Dean wants to cry again but doesn’t let himself. He’s not in heat anymore. There's no excuse for such weakness. Instead he pulls up his jeans and sits. He hurts. An uncomfortable burn in his hips and ass. Feels bruised and used. Filthy. Unclean -

- Enough.

Stop it.

Dean rubs the sleep from his eyes, take a breath and straightens his shoulders.

That’s enough. He’s done.

Years of pining after the angel who pulled him from hell, who saved him from Alistair. Well enough already. No more.

So the would-be love of his life is unrequited? There are worse things in the world. He's seen them first hand. What's a broken heart compared to demons and hell? And for all the thing with Cas has hurt, it could have been worse. 

Bobby had to kill his mate when a demon possessed her. Karen Singer, a sweet innocent woman who liked to bake. His father had lost his mom when a demon burnt her alive. Sam lost Jess the same way. And okay, maybe his dad hadn't handled things that well, but Bobby and Sam weren’t crying like teenage girls. 

He needs to take a page out of their books and just stop.

So Cas doesn’t want him. So what? If Bobby and Sam can get over losing their mates, Dean can get over his not wanting him.

 


 

Dean scrubs at his skin until it’s pink and raw.

The water is freezing and instead of soap he’s got handfuls of gritty river sand, but he can’t handle smelling like Castiel.

He hasn’t bothered trying to get properly clean in months and neither has Cas. There’s no way to clean their clothes anyway, so apart from keeping his hands and face more or less presentable – difficult when all you have to shave is a machete and a demon killing blade - Dean’s ignored his steadily increasing state of unkempt funkiness. Purgatory has slowed his body somehow anyway. He doesn’t need to eat and he barely drinks. Apart from sweat his body isn’t getting stinky like it would on Earth. It’s all the blood and monster goo that’s the issue.

He takes a breath and dunks his head under the frigid water, scrubbing at his hair. There’s dried blood and god knows what else in it, and it takes several minutes of rough treatment to get it even approaching clean.

When all the dirt and blood and other miscellaneous stuff has been scrubbed off his body. Dean sits for a moment in the shallows. It’s nice being clean and when he gets out he’ll have to pull his filthy clothes back on, so he lingers.

Cas is sitting on the bank keeping watch. Staring off into the trees. Dean can relax for a little longer.

He spends a few minutes scratching at his nails, trying to get the black lines of dirt out from under them. He’s digging at his left thumb when he notices something. He sniffs the air. For a second he’s confused and glances over his shoulder, but Cas hasn’t moved. He inhales again, then turns his head and sniffs at his own skin.

Instantly all those awful feelings he’d sworn to bury and forget roar back into life.

He hadn’t noticed under the stink of his clothes and the smell of come and slick clinging to him, but his scent has changed. He doesn’t smell like unmated omega anymore, he smells like he’s been claimed and mated. Like he’s Castiel’s.

He lies back in the cold water, lets it close over his face and tries to get a grip of himself.

What he feels is too confusing to put into words. Mostly he’s furious and hurt that he’s going to have to deal with this on top of everything else, but a tiny part of him is pleased and that makes Dean hate himself. Omegas can’t be mated against their will. Any knothead can try, bite them and make a claim, but if the omega doesn’t submit, all the fucking and knotting in the world won’t make a difference.

He did this. He knew Castiel didn’t want him and somehow he’s still let their pathetic pity fuck tie them together and mate them fully.

When he pulls on his filthy clothes, it’s actually a relief. The stink of them covers his altered scent.

 


 

Cas tries to talk about his heat, a grand total of once. It is three days later.

“Your heat Dean. I... apologise if my behaviour was inappropriate.”

Dean doesn’t look at him. “It’s fine Cas," he says, keeping his voice gruff and even. "I don’t wanna talk about it.”

He can feel the angel’s eyes on him. “You were very... distraught...”

“Normal under the circumstances,” he replies. “There’s a reason omegas use suppressants.”

Castiel is silent for a moment, as if deciding if he believes him. Eventually he says “I see.”

No you don’t, Dean thinks. You’ve got no idea.

A minute later Cas speaks again, quiet but sincere. "I'm glad you are recovered. It was... very distressing to see you like that Dean."

Dean closes his eyes for a second. Cas sounds almost like old Cas. His friend. "Yeah, it's no picnic alright," he agrees gruffly.

They continue in silence.

Dean knows this would be the time to mention the fact that he and Cas are fully mated, that there’s more between them now than an unfulfilled mating claim, but he can’t bring himself to say the words. Besides, what would be the point? He’s done with all that. The last thing he wants is for Cas to feel obligated to him. To pretend to care about Dean in that way. Or to hate him for letting it happen.

If Cas hasn’t noticed then Dean isn’t going to mention it.

And maybe it’s one-sided? Angels aren't like humans, maybe Cas isn’t mated to him, Dean’s just mated to Cas? Under the purgatory stink, Dean can't tell one way or another, Cas's scent is all muddled up. 

He decides he'll worry about it if they ever get home. Here it doesn't really matter anyway.

 


 

A week later the air around them starts to glow. A trio of vampires are heaped in a bloody mess at their feet. Dean hasn’t even caught his breath yet, but he hefts his machete and plants his feet, ready for whatever fresh hell is about to pop out to say hello.

A small man in a dapper suit appears before them, entirely out of place in the muted wilds of purgatory.

Dean’s eyes widen. “Death!?” he blurts, then remembers himself. Manners, it pays to have manners when dealing with something as powerful as goddamn Death. “...sir?” he adds awkwardly.

Castiel just stares, face blank. Dean can’t tell if he’s impressed, scared or doesn’t give a damn.

Death looks them over. “Well?” he asks, gesturing towards the light behind him. “Are you coming? Or do you want to hang around here?” He looks around at the trees and the dead vampires as if he’s not too impressed with the housekeeping.

“Um, are you... reaping us?” Dean asks.

“No,” Death drawls. “But I am losing patience. Deep fried mars bars and Sam Winchester ‘owning me one’ only buys so much.” He turns and vanishes into the light.

Dean glances at Cas, shrugs, and then follows. Cas's hand catches his around the wrist, though, jarring him to a stop. Dean looks over his shoulder at him in confusion. The angel has an odd expression on his face.

“I can’t go,” he says.

Dean blinks. “What?!”

“Dean... I didn’t look for you when we were thrown here because I belong here,” Cas says, all earnest and frowny. “The things I have done... I deserve this.”

Dean just stares dumbly. Behind them Death’s portal is throbbing light, a silent ‘hurry up’. “No,” Dean snaps, reaching forward and gripping Cas’s shoulder tightly. “You don’t get to do this. You don’t get to take the easy way out Cas.”

“Dean-”

Dean glares. “I said no Cas! So you fucked up and doomed the world. So what? You and Sam can make matching bracelets and write poetry together, but you’re coming back.”

Cas sighs. “Dean. Please. I can’t.”

“No. You’re coming with me,” Dean tells him. “You want penance or whatever? Then come home and clean up the mess you made! Moping here like some selfish dick isn’t gonna fix anything!”

Cas glares indignantly. The portal is making a high pitched noise that doesn’t sound good. Dean glances at it nervously. “Look Cas,” he says, looking back to meet those sad blue eyes. “Can you just trust me on this? Please?”

There’s more there, a reference to the last time Dean had begged Cas to trust him and how he hadn’t and how that had turned out. Maybe it’s below the belt, but Dean doesn’t have time to sit and argue with his mate. Death’s not patient. “Staying here man, it’s not the right thing. Trust me.”

Cas sighs. Swallows. Eyes the portal warily. “Very well,” he says. 

 


 

Dean’s blinded by a painful white glare and everything sorts of dips and squeezes in on him, and then he’s stumbling on solid ground. A shitty wood panelled motel room solidifies around him. The air smells of musty carpet, crappy AC and Sam Winchester.

Home sweet home.

Death is nowhere to be seen, but there are some greasy looking food wrappers on the little table.

His brother is teary-eyed and Dean braces himself.

Sam hugs him tighly. Then tells him he stinks.

By the time Dean emerges from the motel bathroom, grateful for once at Sam’s flowery shower gel and herbal shampoo, Castiel is gone.

He tells himself he doesn’t care. He’s done caring. Dean got him to come back, Cas is safe and there's nothing for him to feel guilty about. He can wash his hands of his mate with a clear conscience. 

Besides, Sam looks upset enough for the both of him.

He stares at Dean and his nostrils flare slightly. “You’re mated,” he says, flat and accusing.

Dean sighs. “No suppressants in Purgatory.”

Sam frowns. “So you and Cas...?”

Dean raises an eyebrow. “What, you want details?”

“No no!” his brother replies hurriedly. “No details!... Just... what happened?”

It’s too much to look at Sam so Dean inspects his fingernails. “I went into heat and Cas helped me out. The end.”

Helped you out?

Dean doesn’t need to look at his brother to know he’s getting his bitchface on.

“Dean! 'Friends helping friends' don’t end up mated!”

“I’m not stupid!” Dean snaps. “I know that!”

His brother throws his hands up in the air. “Then what the hell happened?”

“It must have been me,” Dean admits. “Cas... he was really just helping me out. My heat didn’t even affect him.”

Sam purses his lips and folds his arms. “Dean. It doesn’t work like that. Some clingy omega can’t just decide you’re their mate and poof it’s done. You have to claim them first.”

“It must have been an accident. When he pulled me from hell,” It’s the only explanation that fits and the one Dean’s believed for years.

“You can’t claim someone accidentally! Trust me I know!” Sam insists.

Suddenly Dean can’t talk about it anymore. “Look just trust me Sam, Cas does not want to be my mate. If you’d...” seen him, heard him, “... just, I know okay? This doesn’t change anything.”

“He’s your mate and he’s just leaving you? again?” Sam hisses.

Dean shrugs. “He’s an angel,” he says, as if that explains it all.

Sam opens his mouth again and Dean interrupts him. “You know future me? Douche Dean in 2014?”

His brother narrows his eyes. “Yeah..."

“Cas was fallen there, totally human. No mojo at all. That Dean told me that even then he wasn’t really human,” Dean sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “Sammy I know you think you need to look after me, the alpha of the family and all that crap, but this... this isn’t a mess you can fix. I’m not just being stubborn or stupid. Cas doesn’t feel shit like us. He doesn’t get it.” Dean swallows. "I really don't think he gets what he... you know... does to me."

“How can you say that?!" Sam yells. "He claimed you Dean-" He holds up a hand to prevent Dean from interrupting. "And don't say that was an accident because it can't have been. He rebelled for you! Hell, he fucking died for you!”

Dean grits his teeth. Remembering the ways Cas does care for him in the light of all the ways he doesn’t is too painful. “Yeah and in his own weird angel way I’m like, his favorite or something. But that – “ He stumbles, the words caught in his throat. “You can’t read human stuff into that.”

“And you just expect me to be okay with this?" Sam asks. "You’re my brother and he’s hurting you.”

Dean slumps onto the nearest bed.

The room’s a double queen. Dean wonders if it was force of habit when Sam checked in, or because he was so certain whatever arrangement he made with Death would succeed. He can feel Sam staring at him, smell his anger and irritation heavy between them. “Remember what Anna said about angels? About how they didn’t feel?”

“Cas is different,” Sam insists.

Dean sighs. “He’s still an angel Sam. So just... stop it okay?”

Chapter Text

Sam hasn’t been hunting.

Instead he has a girlfriend. A pretty, curly-haired... wholesome girlfriend. And a dog.

Dean makes nice with them, even though he knows the damn dog’s been stinking up his baby, then tells Sam he needs some alone time and heads off. It takes a week driving with all the windows down for the lingering smell of dog to fade from his poor baby’s upholstery. If Sam hadn’t rescued him from purgatory, Dean’d be pissed.

He doesn’t look for hunts, but those that he stumbles across – minor stuff, hauntings mostly - he deals with. He’s in pretty awesome shape post monster-heaven and has no trouble soloing things.

He texts Sam every few days so his brother knows he’s alive, but he doesn’t much feel like calling for conversation. His brother tries to talk to him about purgatory and his plans now he’s back, but he seems to get that Dean needs a bit of time to adjust.

And he really does. It’s difficult to get back into the rhythm of the real world.

Everything smells weird. The light is different, brighter. It hurts his eyes. The air he breathes is somehow heavier. He feels weighed down, like extra gravity is pulling at him.

He forgets that he needs to eat. That a mouthful of water isn’t enough to keep him going all day. That normal people don’t carry around machetes. That muddy and bloodstained clothes freak them out.

Sleep is hard. He wakes up uneasy and confused because he can’t sense his mate nearby. More than once he has to stop himself sleepily calling out to Cas as if he’s in the other room or something. Motel beds are too soft. He pulls his blankets down onto the floor. If the carpet stinks too much he sleeps in the tub.

Conversation is difficult. People look at him funny cause his timing is slightly off even when he remembers all the right things to say.

After a few weeks he caves and very grudgingly buys a laptop. It’s been years since he hunted without Sam and his googlefu and it’s pretty much a necessity of hunting these days. It means he can do a bit of digging around when he stumbles across something suspicious without having to speak to people so much. And also watch videos of cats falling off things. And catch up on a year’s worth of Busty Asian Beauties photo shoots and videos... although they don’t hold quite the same allure as they used to.

Still, buying the damn thing is traumatic. The twelve year old shop assistant starts rambling a mile a minute using words Dean doesn’t even recognise as English. In the end he just grabs one more or less at random. It’s the same brand as the last one Sam had, so he figures it can’t be too different.

Cas appears after he’s been on the road a month.

Dean is just about to gank some nameless demon with delusions of grandeur - seriously, he’s drawn it in nice and close and has Ruby’s knife in hand  - when Cas burns it out of its meat suit and looks down at Dean with a frown on his face. It’s only been a month but having him so close again is –

- Dean forces himself to look away from his mate’s eyes and stares over his shoulder. He ignores the offered hand and pulls himself up under his own steam, brushing the dust off his jeans and straightening his jacket as he does so.

He doesn’t thank Cas for his help, or say hello. Instead he asks “What do you want?”

Cas shrugs. “I merely thought to... ‘drop by’ and see how you were doing...” He stares at Dean for a moment before adding awkwardly: “Sam says ‘hello’.”

Dean focuses on a nasty cut on his arm so he doesn’t have to look at him. He caught it on a nail sticking out of a broken floorboard. His jacket and shirt are torn straight through. His ploy at distraction backfires when Cas notices the cut and steps into his space.

Dean doesn’t look up. He doesn’t want to see Cas’s blue eyes up close and personal. It’s bad enough that his familiar scent is smothering him, soothing an ache he’s been ignoring since the angel vanished, bad enough that Dean wants to lean forward and bury his face against his neck and just breathe him in...

Cas huffs in disapproval at the injury then presses a hand to Dean’s face and heals him.

Dean ignores the heat of the grace that pours through him. The bruises on his back and sides from being thrown around fade along with the stinging cut.

Cas flinches suddenly. “Oh!” The honest note of shock is so unusual for him that Dean lifts his head to look at him. Raises an eyebrow curiously.

“You are with child," Cas tells him, eyes wide and alarmed, and then; “You should eat more.”

He’s gone before Dean can actually process what he’s just been told.

 


 

Dean throws up everything he’s ever eaten. In his entire life. He’s not sick, and it’s sure as fuck not morning sickness, he’s just... just -

- He retches again, spitting bile into the toilet bowl.

He shakes and his head spins every time he remembers what Cas told him. What the half a dozen tests littered around the bathroom confirm.

Pregnant.

It’s such a shock. He can’t accept it. Doesn’t even know what to do with it. What to think. Waking up in heaven was easier, losing 50 years in a poker game was easier, dying was easier. Sure he’d known it was possible but he’d never considered it, never wanted it, not even in the darkest most secret recesses of his mind.

He's pregnant. Going to swell up with a frigging baby in his guts.

Like a balloon. Like a woman.

Except, not like a woman at all. Like a bitch.

He hears words from years ago, things hissed in his ear by faceless alphas in bars spread across the country. Stuff he hasn’t had to listen too since he turned 18 and had his first shot. He still remembers it all though. Every leer and smirk, dozens of voices all blurring into one.

how much to get those pretty lips wrapped around my dick bitch? - take you out back, bounce you on my cock, leave you hanging off my knot all night – you want it don’t you? bet you’re dripping for me you omega whore - we don’t mind sharing and you’ve got more than one hole - fuck you so hard you’re gonna taste it – smell so sweet baby, you ever even let anyone near that ripe little ass? - bend you over right here and knot that greedy bitch hole of yours – ask nicely and maybe I’ll give you what you want you stupid little slut - wanna be mine pretty little bitch? Want me to fill you up? Get you all fat and round like a good bitch? - 

Saliva gathers in his mouth and he has to spit. Drools into the toilet bowl, panting to try to calm the roiling nausea.

good bitch

The bitter taste of bile coats the back of his tongue. There’s nothing left for him to bring up.

 


 

That night when he sleeps he dreams he’s back in hell, stretched out on the rack for Alistair.

The demon cuts and pulls, tearing him apart, but Dean waits and waits, knowing that Castiel will come and save him, because that’s what happened.

Except this time he’s huge, swollen up and pregnant and when Alistair gets him spread open and shoves his hands into Dean’s guts he pulls out a mewling little... thing.

There’s no burst of blinding light, no deafening roar of an angel’s true voice.

Dean realises that everything is grey. Grey because his mate has left him, doesn’t want him. Isn’t coming.

Alistair grins at him and twists the little thing he’s holding like a wet rag, kneads it apart in his hands until wet scraps of it fall from between his fingers.

 


 

Dean wakes up with Cas’s name on his lips, the warm ghost of a touch on his forehead and the feeling that the angel was just there, has just flown away.

 


 

He stops hunting. He keeps driving, but he ignores the signs of wraiths and spirits and what might be a vampire nest.

He stops and eats three times a day. Makes sure at least one of them includes vegetables - picks whatever crappy rabbit food option he thinks Sam would have chosen.

He doesn’t let himself think about... it. He doesn’t let himself think about much at all. He drives and listens to the same old tapes he’s been listening to for years. He watches terrible day time tv in cheap motels and stupid videos on the internet and sort of... waits. For what he’s not really sure. It’s one of the things he doesn’t let himself think about.

It isn’t until he’s standing in the health food section of some random supermarket in Podunk, Nebraska, staring at rows and rows of bottles, looking at vitamins for pregnant omegas, that he realises what’s happened. At some point he’s decided to keep it.

He’s gonna have a kid.

The realization hits him like a two by four. He’s not sure if he’s shocked or relieved.

...Mostly shocked he decides.

He picks up a little plastic bottle, squeezes it in his hand. It doesn’t seem real. How can this be happening? Dean Winchester standing in a store picking pre-natal vitamins? How could he be seriously considering doing this? It’d be irresponsible for him to get a pet goldfish, let alone a... a baby. He can’t be someone’s father. Though he supposes since he’s the bitch in the scenario, he technically going to be... a mother? God. He doesn’t even know the socially acceptable term. Another sign that he’s not cut out for this shit. All he knows about male omega’s having babies comes from Dr Sexy episodes and redneck alpha’s bragging about their virility in bars.

It’s so fucked up.

Okay, so... Big picture... Maybe he’s thought about kids. Once or twice. He’d loved Ben after all, wished he was his. And he’d missed Sammy so bad when he first left it was like he’d lost a limb... But those idle fantasies had been tied up with his wishes that his life hadn’t been derailed when he was 16.

In them he’d grown up to be the alpha everyone had been expecting.

He’d married some pretty girl with dark hair who laughed at his bad jokes and Sam, Bobby and his dad were all alive and they drank beer together on the weekends and watched football and hunted... deer or whatever... did normal stuff. And what the hell, his mom was still alive and baked them all pie, Jess never burnt either and she and Sammy were big shot lawyers and Dean and his dad worked at the garage in Lawrence and they all had cute kids that played together.

This, having Castiel’s baby, alone, is about as far from those daydreams as you can get.

Dean looks down at the label of the bottle he’s holding. ‘New and Improved Formula!’ He brings it up closer. ‘Now with Omega-3 fatty acids for healthy development!’.

He’s got no what that means. He thinks it might have something to do with fish.

Dean puts the bottle in the basket he’s carrying.

 


 

Everyone is scarily nice to him.

It happens over the course of about a week, his scent changing and his hormones kicking in.

Dean’s heard the stories about pregnant omegas and pheromones, about how they are meant to smell like rainbows and fluffy bunnies or whatever, some evolutionary thing designed to make everyone want to protect them and look after them instead of fuck them stupid, but he never put much stock in them. Hadn’t had much cause to hang around pregnant omegas in his line of work. The way everyone just knows though, the way they are smiling and kissing his ass, asking him when he’s due and offering sappy compliments about how he’s ‘glowing’ even though he doesn’t even look pregnant seems to show there’s some truth to it however.

He stops for some lunch and his servings are especially generous. His waitress fawns over him for half an hour as he eats and then brings him free pie.

“Fresh baked this morning!” she tells him.

The young mated couple eating lunch at the next table over send him looks like he’s an adorable puppy they want to take home and cuddle, even the dude, who’s an alpha probably a decade younger than Dean. It’s disconcerting, no alpha except Sam has ever given him such a soft sappy look. Weird or not, it makes for a nice change though.

He gives the waitress a winning smile. “Awesome!” he tells her. “Pie’s my favourite.”

She ducks her head bashfully and blushes like he’s the most charming person she’s ever met.

The pie is delicious. The pastry is soft and buttery - clearly made from scratch - and the apples are sweet and perfectly spiced with cinnamon.

The waitress smiles brightly at him and waves when he leaves. He walks out to his car in a much better mood than he arrived in.

Maybe things aren’t so awful he muses as the Impala rumbles to life beneath him and Led Zeppelin II kicks off from where he left it. The last few chords of Living Loving Maid fade into the opening of Ramble On as he peels out of the parking lot.

Or then again, maybe he’s just high off his own omega happy-stink, who knows?

Chapter Text

It’s like the year at Lisa’s all over again, but worse.

Dean knows that Cas is checking in on him, now that they’re mated he’s sure of it. He smells Cas in the air when he wakes up, like he’s been standing beside the bed, watching Dean sleep.

But his mate doesn’t let Dean see him and the few times Dean thinks he hears wings, get a prickle on the back of his neck and hesitantly says “Cas?” he’s always gone when he turns around.

 


 

He thinks about Castiel a lot, but he’s plenty practised at bottling that twisted fucking mess of feelings up inside, and besides, it’s basically unavoidable. The fact that a person is growing inside of him is a big fucking deal and he understandably finds his thoughts narrowed in on that particular subject. Cas is tangled up so tightly in those thoughts that Dean can’t help but think of him.

Will the kid be a boy or a girl? Will it look like Dean or Cas or some combination of the both? Or maybe it’ll look nothing like them, look more like Sam or his dad? It occurs to him that Claire Novak will sort of be its half-sister. Thinking about Jimmy and his family makes Dean feel all sorts of uncomfortable.

He’s not even sure if they’re alive. After all the shit Castiel has pulled, there’s no saying who might have gone looking for his vessel’s family. And Claire is a vessel. That’s an extra target painted on her right there.

Now that the thought’s occurred to him, it nags at him. Eventually he caves and pulls out the laptop. He doesn’t find anything terrible – there aren’t records of them dying in some gruesome satanic murder or anything – but they’re listed as missing persons. The report dates back years, back to the last time Dean saw them. Dean supposes that could be a good thing. Hopefully it means no one ever found them, that their bodies never had to be identified via dental record.

He texts Sam asking about them anyway. His phones buzzes almost immediately.

Hands full atm with a thing. Might need u back. Call u later.

His brother’s ‘thing’ turns out to be Kevin Tran, on the run from Crowley. Dean feels the same guilt at the thought of him as he did thinking of the Novacks.

He checks out early and heads out to meet up with them.

 


 

Dean knows he needs to tell Sam about his... situation... but now doesn’t seem like the best time.

He makes a quick stop and stocks up on scent blocking deodorant and masking cologne. It’s not perfect, he hasn’t worn the stuff since he was a teenager, but Dean figures Sam will assume Dean doesn’t want to smell like Cas’s mate. Not that he’s... you know.

Sure enough beyond grimacing when he first catches Dean’s fake beta scent, Sam doesn’t say anything.

Kevin, who’d never met Dean off his shots, doesn’t even seem to notice there’s been a change. That could be because he’s distracted by how pissed off he is though. He’s not exactly the Winchester’s biggest fan. Neither is his mother. Shockingly, being held captive by the King of Hell then having his calls ignored by Sam for months on end hasn’t left him in a great mood.

Since Dean had been on lock down in monster heaven he takes no qualms in throwing this particular mess at his brother’s oversized feet.

Kevin snaps and whines and his mom glares a lot and asks suspicious questions. Sam sighs and pulls at his hair every few minutes. Dean’s kinda glad he was late to the party if this is all they’ve been doing.

“So, what’s this big ‘thing’ you couldn’t talk about over the phone?” he asks Sam.

His brother turns aside. “Kevin?”

Kevin nods and pulls up a dingy looking bowling bag from between his feet. “I stole this from Crowley.”

Dean groans as he pulls a stone tablet out of the bag. “Another word of god," he guesses.

“It’s a demon tablet Dean,” Sam tells him breathlessly.

Dean eyes it speculatively. “What’s it do?”

“Tells you how to close the gates of Hell,” Kevin says.

Dean stares. “What? Seriously?”

Kevin and Sam nod in synch.

Dean bends over the table and peers at the markings on the tablet. “How?”

“I haven’t translated it completely yet,” Kevin says. “But it’s a series of tasks. Complete them and Hell’s locked down.”

“For good?”

“Yep.”

It sounds too good to be true, but Sam is bright eyed and excited. Dean lets it sink in for a moment. Imagines exorcising demons back to hell and them never getting back out. Imagines fucking Crowley locked up for eternity, unable to sweet talk even one more desperate sucker into some deal for their soul.

“What’s the catch?” he asks.

 


 

Dean intends to tell Sam, he really does, but days pass and they have more important things to worry about. Or so he tells himself.

Crowley is stalking Kevin, desperate for the tablet and the prophet. They hide him and his (scary) mom as best they can, but not before his ex-girlfriend ends up possessed and then gets a bullet through her skull.

Kevin’s opinion of them reaches all new lows.

Cas’s ‘visits’ stop. Dean doesn’t get woken up from nightmares to an empty room that smells like his mate. He tries not to read anything into that. Not to worry.

The brief distractions of werewolves, vampires and Mayan gods are almost a welcome respite. Except that every time Dean gets roughed up in even the slightest he has a mild, (okay kinda severe), panic attack. Sam’s convinced he’s lost his nerve and then thinks he’s contracted ghost sickness again or something and Dean doesn’t really have any way to explain himself. If Sam knew Dean was pregnant he’d have him locked up with Kevin and Mrs Tran on Garth’s Polish Loveboat in a heartbeat. Whatever bleeding heart equal rights crap Sam might preach, he’s still an alpha and there was no way he’d let Dean, his blood and an omega, hunt pregnant.

And well, Dean isn’t too keen on it himself. Still. He’s being careful, really careful for Dean Winchester actually, and the ‘shutting the gates of hell’ thing kinda takes precedence over his personal issues. For the moment at least.

Then Castiel reappears.

He’s still sane, still more or less as he’d been when Dean last spoke to him, but there’s something... off. His scent is... strange. There’s a sharp note to it, something harsh and acidic hidden away there. He makes no reference to the last time they spoke or any of his stalkerish activity. He acts as if nothing has changed between the three of them since Dick Roman got a Nun Femur to the jugular. Like they are friends.

He tells them he wants to be a hunter and they end up working a case with him. It’s awkward as fuck, but the angel seems oblivious to Dean’s discomfort and Sam’s simmering anger. Although how he’s missing a 6’ 4” alpha practically growling at him is beyond Dean. Sam spends most of his time glaring holes into the back of the angel’s head while Dean just avoids looking at him entirely.

It’s the longest he’s been in his Cas’s presence since Purgatory and he can’t help the way he gets drawn towards him, following half a step behind him, standing at his side always just a little too close but never close enough. Soaking up the feeling of mate that he’s been starving for. He’s alternatively ecstatic and furious but consistently confused. He doesn’t know what’s going on.

Is Cas staying? Is that what this is? His awkward way of trying to be near Dean? His way of offering support? Dean hates how hopeful the idea makes him.

Of course he’s wrong.  They wrap up the cartoon bank robber thing, and Cas promptly has an angelic epiphany or some shit and decides to spend his time helping people or something instead of sticking around.

Sam seems downright delighted to see the back of him. Dean just feels something bitter, painful and familiar shift and twist inside.

He can’t help it, he’s pregnant and Cas is his mate. His instincts are telling him to pull Cas close and... fucking nest or something. The smart, non-omega part of his brain knows that having Castiel around would only make everything a thousand times worse though, so he tells himself that it’s a good thing his mate wants to look after other people, not him. Not their child.

They don’t see him for weeks, and the stalker visits don’t start up again. 

 


 

Dean misses Cas.

Nightmares and dreams alike - they all feature his blue-eyed mate. The desire to pray to him grows each day, becomes almost a need rather than a want.

He should be here. His mate should be with him. It’s all wrong and he can’t relax. There’s a constant tension and unsettling sense of wrong in the back of his mind.

It’s just some instinct, some hormone thing he tells himself. It’s not real, he doesn’t need Cas.

 


 

It gets harder and harder to keep his secret from Sam.

He has to use the deodorant and cologne obsessively. Showering when Sam is around is nerve wracking. He worries the smell of pregnant omega might linger in the bathroom, no matter how much cologne and deodorant he sprays around.

There are no other signs yet, just some nausea and the fact that Dean actually orders stuff like salad along with his burgers and steaks. And that he doesn’t drink. And that he’s fucking pining for his mate. Actually he’s amazed Sam hasn’t figured it out yet. They are basically supernatural detectives after all, you’d think he would have picked up on the clues.

Maybe it’s because Sam is focused so completely on Kevin’s translation, on the ‘tasks’ to close the gates of Hell.

 


 

Dean wakes up on the couch in Rufus’s cabin and Cas is staring at him.

Relief and happiness flood through his brain before reality catches up with him. “Cas?” he manages, voice fairly even, a little wary.

Whatever he’s expecting – a heart to heart, accusations – that’s not what he gets.

“Dean,” Cas says. “I need your help.”

Dean frowns. Scents the air. Notices that underlying note of wrong is still there. He eyes Cas suspiciously.

“The angel Samandiriel,” Cas continues. “He’s been taken.”

His mate hasn’t come to talk to him about their kid or the mess that is their supposed ‘friendship’. He’s come to ask Dean to risk his neck to help him rescue an angel from some demons. 

Chapter Text

 

It doesn’t go all that smoothly.

Crowley has the place packed with demons and Dean’s not exactly keen on getting thrown around and roughed up. Kinda terrified of it actually. If falling down some stairs could do serious damage to a baby - what would being tossed around by a demon do? Dean focuses on not getting beat up.

He really needs to talk to Sam. This can’t go on.

Still, the way Cas’s poor angel buddy is screaming means that now is not the time for Dean to take maternity (paternity?) leave. He shakes his spray can and crosses out another Enochian sigil, eyes peeled for any sign of a demon trying to get the drop on him.

 


 

Castiel is holding the other angel, Samandiriel, in his arms. Ashy wings stretch out along the ground on either side of him.

Cas’s knife is blood-stained and dripping in his hand. It’s pretty plain that Cas has just ganked the angel he asked them to help him rescue.

“What the hell happened?” Sam asks.

Cas freezes up. “He was... compromised,” His voice is weirdly calm, all angel cold. Dean feels a shiver of unease.

Castiel stands. “He came at me. I killed him in self-defense.” The words are stilted and defensive. Dean swallows. He rubs at his nose and surreptitiously scents his erstwhile mate. That jarring note of wrong is there, clashing against that rainstorm scent of his - stronger than ever - and there’s something else as well. A thread of something bitter... and familiar. Dean remembers it from the war with Raphael. The deal with Crowley. When Cas had been lying to him.

He’s hiding something. And not doing a very good job of it. He’s capable of being way more convincing, Dean knows first-hand.

“Cas, you okay?” he asks, hoping the deceit he can smell is something small, something that doesn’t involve him or Sam. Like maybe Cas had intended to kill Samandiriel all along, that they were enemies or whatever. Some angel beef Cas doesn’t want to explain.

He doesn’t get a reassuring answer though. As he watches blood trickles from Cas’s eye like a red tear. The angel wipes at it, stares at his smeared fingertips. Dean wants very much to step closer, to make sure he’s okay, but he stifles the urge. “My vessel must have been damaged in the melee.”

He sounds like he’s reciting a script.

“I have to go. Samandiriel's remains belong in Heaven.” A flutter of wings and Sam and Dean are alone in the parking lot.

Sam turns and gives Dean a loaded look. It’s clear he’s not alone in thinking something’s wrong. They don’t say anything though. They’ve learnt the hard way that when push comes to shove, Cas, for all his good intentions, can’t be trusted. He could be standing right in front of them listening.

 


 

No mention of Cas is made on the long drive back to Rufus’s cabin. Once inside Sam goes straight for the spray paint and starts on an Enochian warding sigil on the door while Dean scratches smaller versions on the windowsills.

“So what’s the deal with Cas?” Sam asks once they are safe from angelic eavesdropping.

Dean shrugs. “I dunno what the hell is going on man. He’s been off for a while now.”

Sam frowns. “Really?”

He doesn’t know about Cas’s stalker behavior and recent lack thereof and Dean’s not exactly eager to mention it. Makes him sound like he’s obsessive and imagining things. “Yeah, I mean, I’m not sure what it is, but he’s not right.”

His brother hums thoughtfully. “Like, crazy Cas or lying his ass off Cas?”

“I don’t know man,” Dean sighs.

“You notice anything? I mean, angel or not, technically you’re his mate...”

“Yeah. He’s lying. I can smell it on him,” Dean agrees. “And something else. He smells all weird. Kinda like when the Leviathan’s had him.”

“So what, you think someone’s messing with him? Like he’s possessed?” Sam asks wide-eyed.

“It’s not demonic,” Dean says. The stench of the pit lingers, and after Hell he can smell it a mile off. “And it’s way more subtle than Dick and his buddies were. But there’s something there.”

“So someone’s pulling his strings,” Sam says. “But who? If not demons, who else cares about angels?”

“Other angels?” Dean suggests. “Wouldn’t be the first time the dicks up top sent him to Bible camp.” The thought of having to deal with Cas working against them again makes Dean so fucking tired. Sam looks pensive. Vaguely Dean recalls his brother was meant to be meeting up for some big Ryan Gosling romance moment with Amelia.

“Don’t you have a girl to get back to?” he asks.

Sam snaps back to attention, looks at Dean warily. “Yeah. I guess I do. But... Since when are you on the Amelia bandwagon?”

Dean’s knows he’s not exactly been supportive of his brother’s attempt at maintaining a relationship, but maybe he’s been too harsh. Maybe he’s too jaded by the endless series of fucking trainwrecks that make up his relationship history to see that Sam has a chance with his girl. “I don't know,” he says. “I'm just tired of all the fighting. And, you know, maybe it's time for at least one of us to be happy.”

“She does make me happy,” Sam says. “But with everything left to be done - the chance to kick demons off this rock once and for all... I don't know if I can walk away.”

“Huh.” Dean’s a little surprised.

Sam had seen good and ready for retirement when he sprung Dean from purgatory. A year playing house with Amelia and the dog, the closest thing to hunting his scouring Rufus and Bobby’s stuff for ways to get Dean out of purgatory. He’d honestly thought his brother would take his blessing and high tail it.

Hell he’d kinda been hoping he would. The time’s fast approaching where Dean’s not going to be able to chase after demons and angels. The bit of him that’s making plans and trying to sort shit out has been thinking about Amelia and the dog and that nice heavily warded house of hers in the suburbs with something like longing. Safe.

He shifts a little, wondering how long he has till he has to tell Sam, till blockers and cologne aren’t going to mean anything.  His jeans are getting pretty snug already...

“Yeah,” Sam agrees, totally oblivious to Dean’s whirring thoughts.

Dean tries to get his head in the game, offer some real advice. “Well, I do know this – whatever you decide, decide. Both feet in or both feet out. Anything in between is what gets you dead.” He’s saying something else as well there. Something about not getting what you want, about how nothing is sometimes better than something. A lesson learnt the hard way.

“Yeah, I keep hearing that,” Sam says. “I'm gonna... take a walk. Clear my head.”

Dean stretches out on the couch after his brother leaves. The tv is playing but he ignores it. Above him the roof is dusty and cobwebs thread between the beams.

He has no idea what he’s doing and no idea what he should do. A part of him wants to just run. Leave Sam and Kevin and the frigging tablet and live some boring live as Dean Smith, pretend all the things that go bump in the night are just make believe.

Instead of taking the car and going to Amelia, Sam comes inside and they have dinner. Dean hopes his brother doesn’t live to regret it.

 


 

Their grandad jumps out of their closet.

Their time travelling wizard of a grandad. Or something. It takes a little while to get it all sorted out and Dean’s been having trouble with his temper lately.

Henry Winchester doesn’t seem too impressed with Sam and Dean, with having a couple of hunters for grandkids, but they warm up to each other long enough for some angsting over John before Henry goes out in true Winchester self-sacrificing fashion, choking on his own blood.

Dean holds his grandfather as he dies. He’s younger than Dean.

They must be cursed.

Their family tree is just a whole lot of dead. Winchesters and Campbells, hanging from the branches.

Dean presses a hand to his still-flat belly. He wants to believe things will be different, but he’s pretty sure any kid of his is gonna die bloody no matter what he does.

 

Chapter Text

Rufus’s cabin always felt like a temporary refuge. The Men of Letter’s bunker feels different, like maybe it could be a home. One perfectly suited to Sam and Dean Winchester and their fucked up lives.

It’s safe. The safest place Dean’s ever been maybe. It makes the ache of his mate’s absence almost bearable. No demon or monster is ever gonna be able to make it inside, and if they do, there’s a frigging dungeon to lock em up in. The increasingly panicked omega in him is calmed and delighted. His instincts are telling him to stay put, to stay where it’s safe and warm and never leave.

Kevin and his mom move in. There’s plenty of room, small bedrooms line a hallway off from the library. Mrs Tran loses it and spends days yelling and screeching and bossing them around until 60 years of dust is cleaned up and the place is gleaming and cleaned to her standards.

Sam and Kevin mutter and bitch when she can’t hear them, but Dean doesn’t actually mind. Housework is novel when you haven’t had a house, well, ever really. It’s way more exciting than he wants to admit and getting to pick a room and claim it as his own is like the best Christmas ever. He hasn’t had a room of his own since he was 4.

There’s a closet and drawers for his clothes instead of a duffle. He can leave his toothbrush and razor in the bathroom every morning. Guns and knives can lay around wherever he leaves them without worrying about cleaners or nosy motel employees coming across them. (Although Mrs Tran tsks and glares if they’re left on kitchen benches) Sam doesn’t wake him up in the middle of the night snoring or farting across the room and they don’t have to pretend not to hear the nightmares that wake them both.

Apart from the awesome things like a firing range, vintage batman control room and the dungeon, there’s a real kitchen, a laundry with big old industrial washers and bathrooms tiled in green. Everything’s ancient – but rock solid and it all works. Mrs Tran drags Sam out shopping and they come back with a coffee maker and some other modern bits and pieces and the place is basically heaven.

Dean’s no gourmet cook, but he can handle the staples – burgers, steak and big fried breakfasts. And even cheap frozen pizza tastes about a 1000% better when it’s eaten off a real plate and not cooked in a microwave.

Dean loves it. It’s kind of embarrassing how much he fucking loves it.

 


 

He supposes he relaxes too much, and that’s why he fucks up. He falls asleep in one of the big armchairs in the library. When he wakes up he’s all bleary and sleep muddled. His mouth feels gross, furry and slimy, and his eyes are sticking together.

He stumbles off and pours himself into a shower, the smaller one in the bathroom near his room, not the massive shower/locker room off the library. The water is warm and the pressure is amazing – vintage plumbing with zero thought given to conserving water or whatever – and instead of waking him up it lulls him half back to sleep, standing up like a horse.

Eventually he drags himself out and pulls on some fresh clothes. Coffee he decides, he needs coffee. Otherwise he’s gonna end up napping again like some old grandpa.

Sam and Kevin are pouring over the translation for the first task, he’s been on the verge of having it done for a couple of days - something about a dog. Dean, who’s thoroughly bored of hearing slight variations of the same paragraphs and listening to discussions about syntax and biblical symbolism, ignores them and wanders past towards the kitchen.

The machine is empty so he sets it up for a new pot, yawning as he throws in fresh grounds. He’s not actually sure what time it is. The bunker’s like a casino. No natural light. When he turns around to lean on the bench while it brews, Sam and Kevin are both standing across the kitchen staring.

Sam appears to be hyperventilating and Kevin’s eyes are threatening to pop out of his head.

Dean frowns. “Um, guys?”

His voice seems to snap Sam out of his internal freakout because the next thing Dean knows his brother has his big dinner-plate hands all over him and his nose shoved into the crook of his neck.

Dean freezes up in shock as his brother huffs against his neck scenting him. “The fuck Sammy?!” he squeaks, shoving at the alpha and twisting in his grip.

Sam growls low in his throat and Dean instinctively stills.

He thinks of the little green bottle of pheromone blocking deodorant and the masking cologne sitting hidden and unused in his underwear drawer. “Shit.”

Sam leans back so he can glare down at Dean, his fingers digging into Dean’s arms as he holds him in a bruising grip. “You’re pregnant,” he says, low and accusing.

Dean can’t tell if Sam is livid, happy, offended or what. He knows his brother and his woodsy alpha stink better than anyone in the world, but he has no idea what the fuck he’s feeling right now, his scent’s all jumbled up.

“Holy shit,” Kevin says. “You’re an omega?

Sam shoots a glare back at him over his shoulder. “A little privacy Kevin. I need to talk to my brother.”

Kevin raises his hands and backs away. “uh... Sure thing.”

Dean swallows. “Look I was gonna tell you.”

When!?” Sam hisses, shaking Dean a little for emphasis. And yes, he’s pissed off. Probably not for long though, Dean can smell his own scent rising with the threat, sending out all those touchy feely happy vibes pregnant omegas dish out like candy. “Jesus Dean, we’ve been hunting!

Dean ducks his head. “I was being careful,” he mutters.

Careful?!” Sam opens his mouth to say something else then changes his mind. His jaw snaps shut with a click. He lets go of Dean and steps away from him. “Fuck.” He drags his fingers through his hair and sighs. “Christ. You smell like fucking Christmas. I can’t even stay mad at you.”

“Huh.” Dean hadn’t thought of that. Convenient. Sam was gonna have a hard time being pissed off at him, lies or not.

“So. Purgatory?” Sam asks.

Dean nods. Beside him the coffee machine hisses and spits.

His brother manages a glare. “Three months. You’ve been lying to me for three months.”

“I didn’t know straight away, and then we were kind of busy you know?”

“Does Cas know?”

“Yeah. He’s the one that told me.”

Sam instantly looks livid again. “And he just let you keep hunting?! Putting yourself in danger!?”

Dean crosses his arms. “Let me Sam?”

“Don’t start that shit Dean!” Sam snaps. “You know you shouldn’t have been hunting, that’s why you were hiding this. Don’t try and make me out to be some dumb knothead trying to control you or something.” He takes a long breath and closes his eyes for a moment. “I’m angry because you might have gotten hurt. You and the... baby. You should have told me.”

“Oh like you would have let me keep hunting!”

“If you’d insisted and been stupid I suppose I would have had too!” Sam yells. “Lord knows the only alpha you’ve ever listened to was dad!”

Dad!? You’re gonna bring dad into this?”

“Well, what do you think he would’ve had to say about this shit huh?” Sam scoffs. “Hunting when you’re pregnant.” He shakes his head in disbelief. “Shit Dean!”

John Winchester would have locked him up in a room somewhere for nine months. He might have hated the idea of his eldest son whelping like a bitch, but if there was one thing the man obsessed over, it was family. No way he would’ve let Dean risk any grandchild of his.

Dean pulls out a clean mug and pours himself some of the fresh coffee. “Well. It’s done now and everything’s fine.” He glances at his seething brother. “So chill the fuck out.”

Sam lets out a long shaky breath. “You are so lucky you smell like rainbows and unicorns and it would be morally reprehensible to kick your ass right now.”

Dean frowns. “Rainbows and unicorns? What am I? A Lisa Frank sticker set?”

 


 

Once Sam's gotten over his bitch fit, something speeded along by the fact that pretty soon the whole bunker has a lingering ‘eau de rainbow’ smell that keeps everyone mildly scent-doped and seems extra effective against him, he does a complete 180.

He won’t shut up about it. They have months. Months and months until the kid’s gonna be born, but he starts researching male omega births and pre-natal health and hospitals with good obstetrics units.

Dean’s not allowed coffee or anything with caffeine. Strange vegetables appear in the kitchen. Weird leafy things Dean’s not sure humans are even meant to eat. His little bottle of vitamins is replaced with half a dozen different supplements that taste like ass that Sam insists he takes.

Sam arranges new ID and insurance and drags him to a specialised male omega obstetrician. Everyone assumes they’re mated, which has been happening to them basically since Sam popped his knot, but it reaches whole new levels of disturbing when talking to a doctor about pregnancy.

His brother doesn’t seem to care. Dean suffers through the examination and the tests in silence, but Sam asks constant questions. He and the doctor have a long, mortifying, conversation about natural delivery vs. caesarean after Sam asks about Dean’s ‘narrow hips’.

Dean wants the ground to open up and swallow him.

“Would you like to know the sex?” the doctor asks while she’s giving Dean an ultrasound.

“No,” he says right as Sam excitedly blurts “Yes!”

The doctor stays silent, looking between them for an agreement. Sam turns away from the black and white blobby image on the screen and gives Dean the full throttle Sammy Winchester Puppy Dog Eyes™.

Dean sighs. “Fine.”

“It’s a girl,” the doctor tells them.

Dean feels an odd nervous thrill.

Sam grins and slaps his shoulder. Dean’s pretty sure his brother would have been happy if the doctor had said it was a squid though, he’s so into the idea of a baby Winchester.

For himself, he can’t quite tell if he’s happy or disappointed. There’s definitely an overwhelming sense of relief there though.

He figures it out on the drive home. Sure he loved having Ben around – loves the idea of a son that he could teach about cars and guns and all his favorite things... But if the doctor had told him it was a boy, he’d be freaking out worrying it’d turn out to be an omega like Dean.

A girl, well, a girl he can still raise to be a badass, and no matter what sort of girl she turns out to be, beta or omega, she’s never gonna have to deal with the sort of crap Dean’s had to. Even if she does turn out to be an omega, omega girls are prized and admired. The perfect mates. Alphas don’t corner sweet darling omega girls in bathrooms and knot them bloody. They buy them chocolates and flowers and call their daddies “Sir” and ask if they can please take them home to meet their mothers if they promise to have them home by 9.

A daughter. Dean decides it’s good news. “I think I’ll call her Mary,” he says.

Sam makes a ‘Hrmm’ noise and keeps his eyes on the road.

“Or I could call her Samantha I guess,” Dean drawls.

Sam shoots him a supremely unimpressed look. “Don’t you dare.”

Chapter Text

Kevin seems relieved that Sam’s attentions are no longer solely focused on him and the demon tablet. Instead he splits his time fairly evenly between harassing the prophet and annoying the hell out of Dean.

He takes to hiding out in the Bunker’s warehouse and storage rooms just to avoid his brother’s overbearing presence. Dean claims to be cataloguing the mind-boggling array of stuff The Men of Letters had been archiving or stockpiling or whatever, but in reality he finds just a quiet corner and reads trashy paperbacks.

It’s his growling stomach that has him surfacing to find Sam and Mrs Tran sat at the kitchen table with catalogues spread out between them.

“This one,” Kevin’s mother says, circling something with a marker.

“Are you sure?” Sam asks, pulling another pamphlet forward, his face all frowny and earnest. “I thought this one...”

Mrs Tran purses her lips and shakes her head in derision. “Oh no. Not that one.”

Dean walks over to see what they are doing. He makes out glossy pages of...

Ugh. Furniture and baby stuff.

Sam looks up at him. “Dean what do you think? This one or this one?” he gestures between the two different catalogues.

Dean leans over. They're comparing changing tables. Frigging changing tables.

Mrs Tran’s choice is a simple one from IKEA, Sam’s a fancy wooden one with frilly white sashes and bows and stuff from some specialty boutique. “Jesus Sam,” he mutters. “It’s a table to change diapers on, not a goddamn wedding cake. I’m with Mrs Tran on this one.”

Kevin’s mom smiles smugly.

“But this one is handcrafted!” Sam whines. “It comes with a lifetime guarantee!”

Dean raises an eyebrow. “Why would we need an heirloom changing table?”

Sam purses his lips. “Fine,” he huffs. “I’m picking the crib though. Those IKEA ones are shoddy. They might fall apart.”

Mrs Tran rolls her eyes.

Dean glances over the stacked brochures. There are circled bits of furniture and supplies and things he doesn’t even recognise. He has an awful premonition of being dragged across Kansas to a dozen stores to buy shit like, he picks up a page at random, diaper cakes. What the hell is a diaper cake? “I thought we’d just go down to Walmart and get all this crap.”

“Good idea,” Mrs Tran agrees easily.

Sam looks scandalized. “Walmart?” he bitches in disgust.

Dean just looks at him. “How is it I’m the omega? I mean, there must have been some colossal fuck up.”

After a bit more whining from Sam they ditch Kevin and head into town. The combined efforts of Dean and Mrs Tran see Sam shut down on his more ridiculous choices, but they still end up with all sorts of random crap his brother insists on. Like fancy hypo-allergenic eco-nappies that are twice as expensive as the normal ones.

It’s not as boring as Dean thought it would be - some of the stuff is kinda... cute. (Not that Dean would ever admit that out loud.) Like the little bathtub shaped like a whale. 

The bits of furniture they pick are flat packed and with Mrs Tran sitting between Sam and Dean in the front they manage to squeeze everything into the backseat.

 


 

Dean's woken up by what sounds like an elephant tap dancing next door. Pulling on his robe, he pads out to see what the hell is going on.

It's Sam. He's sitting in the middle of the formerly unclaimed bedroom.

Dean peers inside warily. His brother has cleared the bed and other bits of furniture out and is... dusting.

“Do you think we should paint it?” he asked pensively. “There’s no window, it’s a bit dark.”

“What, you wanna paint it pink or something?” Dean asks sarcastically.

“I was thinking yellow actually,” Sam replies very seriously.

Dean point blank refuses yellow and since he’s the only person around who can actually see colors, the room ends up painted a green he chooses since green is ‘cheery’ enough for Sam and not as lame as yellow. The whole thing seems pointless, but Sam's so into it, Dean just goes along with it. He starts to suspect that all those accent pillows and throw rugs at Amelia's might have been Sam's influence rather than hers. Still, he's handy with an allen key Dean has to admit.

They assemble the furniture and stack the rest of the supplies against the wall and... It’s... It’s really weird. It’s clearly a nursery. Dean stares in disbelief. “I can’t believe we just decorated a nursery.”

“I can’t believe you’re having Cas’s weird angel baby,” Sam replies lightly as he carefully arranges some educational toys on the bookshelf.

It’s the first time Cas has actually been mentioned since Sam found out. The mood instantly sours.

 


 

The room is actually really nice Dean has to admit. Sometimes, when no one’s around to see, he goes inside and just looks around for a while. Picks things up. Puts them down again. It reassures his infuriating omega instincts knowing that everything is ready for his daughter.

His daughter.

He’s still not used to thinking like that. It makes him nervous. Sick to his stomach. Nothing feels real.

 


 

The first task is bathing in the blood of a hellhound.

Dean hates that he has to let Sam do it. He knows that this time it can’t be him, even though it should be. Sam's the one that might someday be able to live a normal life, not Dean. Never Dean. It takes a lot of arguing just to make Sam let him come and there’s no chance of any real sort of involvement. Instead Garth acts as Sam’s wingman and Dean is relegated to frustrated back up. He shovels a lot of horse shit and listens to the Cassidys bitch each other out. The one positive of the situation is that Garth seems utterly, utterly, unfazed by the fact that Dean Winchester is apparently an omega and a pregnant one at that.

He smiles his doofus smile, says "Congrats man!", gives Dean a weirdly heart-felt hug... and that’s the end of that. Nothing more said.

Dean guards the Cassidys while Garth and Sam chase Crowley’s hellhounds around outside. They howl and Dean shivers. Thinks of Jo holding her guts in. Of Ellen crying. Of Lilith’s hounds coming for him, tearing him to pieces at Sam’s feet, dragging him down to the pit. It's torture - two ingrained needs pulling at him. Sammy, his baby brother, needs his protection, but he can't because there's someone else who needs him more. It makes him want to pull his hair out in frustration. At Sam's side, that's where he's meant to be. Not cowering with the civilians.

When they return Sam is doused in stinking black blood. Dean’s both elated and scared. Garth is all smiles and ‘hell yeahs’ but Sam is pale and shaky. If the first task was this bad - what are the next two gonna be like? And how is Dean supposed to help his brother when he's knocked up? If anything happens to him because Dean isn't there to guard his back, he doesn't know what he'll do.

 


 

Garth comes back to the bunker with them and they celebrate Sam’s baptism in demonic dog blood.

Kevin’s elated, like he can finally see light at the end of the tunnel, a life without demons stalking him. When Dean heads to bed Mrs Tran and Garth are drinking cheap wine and talking about - Dean’s not actually sure, but they seem to be really into it - and Kevin and Sam are having some yawn inducing discussion about Enochian and spilling beer all over the word of god.

 


 

Dean nearly has a heart attack. Something wakes him up. He rolls over and punches his pillow to fluff it up a little. He’s just drifting off again when something shifts.

His eyes pop open and he stares blindly through the gloom. It comes again. His hand is pressed low to his slightly pudgier belly in an instant. A minute passes. Then two. Dean is starting to think he imagined it, but then it happens again. The baby is moving.

It’s amazing, incredible and before he remembers himself his lips move, form a word in the dark. “Cas!”

He tenses, half expecting wings, but no one comes.

The bubble of amazed happiness fizzles out. He glances up at the ceiling, wondering. 

"Where are you Cas?" he asks quietly.

 


 

Garth hangs around for a few days, trying to absorb the contents of the library via redneck-zen-osmosis or something, but soon enough he’s got a hunt and is on his way.

Kevin and Sam are focused on decoding task two, and Dean, well... Over the next month Dean suddenly ends up... really pregnant. He pees constantly, has more mood swings than 14 year old girl, craves weird food, (like spinach, what the fuck?), and his belly starts to swell in earnest.

The baby – Mary – moves more and more. She seems to take especial pleasure in booting Dean's kidneys or his bladder, especially when he's trying to sleep.

Sam finds it endless entertaining, loves to press his hands to Dean's skin and feel her kick, but Dean hates it. Not only is it really strange to have Sam petting his belly and cooing baby talk at it, but it makes him weirdly on edge to have an alpha touch him. His body tenses up and he can’t relax. Sam's his brother, blood kin, the closest thing to home he's ever had, but it still jars. He's not Dean's alpha. It should be his mate with his hands on him.

His brother’s so excited though, talking to Dean’s belly like Mary can hear him and in general acting like a big idiot, that Dean just rolls his eyes and endures it.

 


 

He’s about 22 weeks pregnant when he wakes up in agony.

He can’t think straight, fumbles out of bed and falls to the floor at the crushing pain in his stomach. He calls out for Sam. The smell of his own distress, thick and rank, hangs like a cloud around him. A deep spasm of pain wraps itself around his hips. It doesn't compare to the rack, but as far as pain he's experienced while breathing, it's right up there,

His door bursts open and his brother dashes inside. “Dean!?”

Dean groans, reaching out towards him. “Sammy!”

Instantly he’s at his side, panicked in the dark. “Dean what’s wrong!?” His big hands wrap around Dean's shoulders, pull him close.

“Dunno... woke up and it hurts--” Dean breaks off in a pained groan. “Hurts like a bitch.

Kevin and his mom appear in the doorway. Mrs Tran already has a phone pressed to her ear.

“We need to get Dean upstairs so an ambulance can pick him up,” Kevin says. Dean wonders how long that will take. If an ambulance will even come to an abandoned factory in the middle of no-where.

Sam seems to be thinking along the same lines. “We’re not waiting for an ambulance, I’ll drive,”  he says, then hoists Dean into his arms. It's a sign of how much pain Dean’s in that he doesn't complain about being carried like a damsel or a bride on her wedding night. For once he’s happy, relieved to let an alpha take care of him. Even if it’s his brother and not his mate.

His mate.

Cas. Cas could heal him. “Call Cas!” he tells his brother. “Tell him I need him.”

Sam nods and shuffles awkwardly, managing to pass Kevin his phone without breaking stride.

Mrs Tran leads them up towards where the impala is parked, unlocking and holding doors open. 

Dean thinks he must have fainted or something, because the next thing he knows he is being put down in the back seat, his head in Mrs Tran’s lap. Kevin is peering at him over the front seat, Sam’s phone glued to his ear.

The Impala rumbles to life beneath him. The familar smell of the interior and the sound of the engine calm Dean a little. Then another wave of pain flares across his abdomen and he curls up, whimpering at the crushing ache. “Cas!” he hisses, pressing his palms together. He doesn't care that Sam and the Trans can hear, he prays. “Castiel... I need you. Come now. Please...” It feels like something is squeezing his guts, a hot band of pressure. “Please Cas...”

Sam speeds down the road, throwing the Impala around recklessly and it’s only Mrs Tran’s grip on Dean that stops him from slipping and sliding across the leather.

Something... gives inside him, a knot snapping, and he moans in agony. Something hot and watery soaks into his pyjamas. The smell of blood and something else thickens in the air, making his stomach roil. He feels like he's going to hurl or shit himself. Maybe both at the same time. In his ear he hears Mrs Tran hushing him telling him it’s gonna be alright.

They drive on and all the while he silently prays to Castiel. Cas Cas please come Cas I need you pleaseplease...

He keeps expecting him. In the backseat. In the emergency room. In the small bright theatre they wheel him into. Dean’s ears are pricked for the sound of wings. He prays, whispers and mumbles, begs for his mate.

He doesn’t come.

 


 

When he wakes it’s Sam and the Trans at his bedside. It’s daylight. He’s been out for hours. Kevin and his mother aren’t in their pyjamas anymore. Sam is still dressed in long flannel pants and an old ratty t-shirt though, like he hasn't left. The shirt is stained. Smears of brown Dean recognises as dried blood. He can smell it. It’s his.

His brother lets out a long breath and slumps into the chair at Dean's side, squeezes his hand. "You almost died Dean," he says and Dean hears the real fear behind the words. "You hemorrhaged."

Dean tries to remember what happened. He can't though. "Is...?" 

One look at Sam’s face tells him all he needs to know long before he says another word.

He feels hollow and cold.

He can’t believe it.

Castiel didn’t come.

 


 

“I held her,” Sam tells him much later. “She was so tiny, but she hung on for almost 3 hours.”

His brother cries.

Dean can’t.

Chapter Text

The supplements are sitting on the bathroom sink next to the shaving cream.

Dean stares at them while he brushes his teeth. After he’s rinsed he picks them up and empties the half-empty bottles down the toilet one after the other.

When he steps out into the hallways he avoids looking to his left, towards the door that’s shut on a room painted green.

 


 

There’s a small line of stitches low on his belly. The hurt is nothing, a cat scratch to a hunter, but they pull when Dean walks, sits, lays down. Little twinges. A constant reminder. Every time he sees them, stitches neat and perfect in comparison to the messy ones he’s used to, he wants to rip them out.

 


 

Periodically Sam tries to talk to him.

If he won’t leave it, Dean just walks away.

He reaches a level of denial that’s almost comfortable. Cas’s existence has become an abstract thing to Dean. Dean knows he’s out there, the green he in sees the mirror every day is proof of that, but Dean doesn’t let himself even think of his mate. Whenever his thoughts drift in that direction he shies away, shuts them down completely.

Sam doesn’t like it, tells Dean it’s unhealthy and that he shouldn’t bottle things up but fuck it. Dean choses being emotionally stunted or whatever whole-heartedly over the alternative. It bubbles away just under the surface, a full on melt-down just waiting for a crack in his armor to get through. He’s not gonna let it though.

He never wants to see Cas again. Wants to forget about him entirely. Wishes he could just erase all memory of him.

He imagines Lisa and Ben on a beach on the other side of the world, blissfully unaware of all the shit he dragged into their lives and he’s jealous. Hell, he'd settle for a lot less. With the way he’s feeling, if a djinn popped up, he’d hold his arm out for the IV.

 


 

They focus on the Demon Tablet, on closing the gates of Hell and any hunt that comes their way. Any distraction is welcome, to both of them.

Dean’s not in any position to help, but he can tell Sam is taking it very badly. The new name crossed out on their family tree. How many is it now? (Cursed. Definitely cursed)

 


 

Garth sends them a lead about suspicious demonic activity. They stumble across Meg of all people. Trussed up and tortured by Crowley for almost 2 years.

“Where’s Clarence?” she drawls though bruised lips and bloody hair.

No one answers her.

She looks like shit. Dean recognises some of the scars and marks on her skin, can guess exactly what she’s hiding under that jacket and those jeans, what Crowley and his goons have been putting her through. The guy’s no Alistair, but he’s a sick son of a bitch. A part of Dean, the part that isn’t still angry about Jo and Ellen (it’s a small part), feels sorry for her.

There’s an angel tablet.

Meg knows where it is.

 


 

Dean doesn’t know why he’s surprised.

Cas appears in the crypt, knocks Sam unconscious, kills Meg (what happened to his ‘thorny beauty’? his ‘lovely caretaker’?) and turns to Dean. His blade is red with Meg’s blood.

His mate beats him, leaves him bloody over a dusty piece of rock. There’s no anger to it though, not even that strained detachment from purgatory. It’s like the thing with Samandiriel.

It’s Castiel, but it’s not.

He’s all wrong.

It’s oddly comforting. Dean clings to the notion. Tells himself that this isn’t his Cas. Not really.

Cas backhands him so hard Dean’s vision dims and his ears ring.

He’s reminded of the alleyway years ago, when he’d wanted to say yes to Michael. It occurs to him that if he had, he’d probably be up in heaven now, the last painful years of his life just another cruel might have been like Zachariah’s 2014. For a moment he wishes desperately that it had happened that way. No Raphael, no Leviathan, no Purgatory no --

He cuts the thought off. 

Castiel hits him. Something crunches in his face. His cheekbone maybe.

If he had said yes, if none of this had happened, Castiel would undoubtedly be dead. Wiped from existence by his brothers for his disobedience.

Dean hates that he still cares. Looking up at his mate, he doesn’t even understand why. It’s been so long, he can barely remember the Cas he fell in love with. The brave, honest, loyal friend. The half-fallen angel who didn’t even know how to smile, but who somehow made Dean giddy with happiness just by being around. There doesn’t seem to be much of him left in the angel staring down at him.

His misses his Castiel. His friend.

That Cas, the one he’d loved, he would have done anything for Dean. He actually had – he’d rebelled and died for him. He would never have ignored his prayers, left him to-–

He stil can’t give the thought form in his mind.

But he wants to know, needs to know. Why? Why all... this? Why did Castiel do all this? Why didn't he come!?

No, that stupid voice in the back of his head insists. Not my Cas. Not the real Cas. He didn’t do that. And Dean finds himself begging, “Cas. Cas...” tasting blood in his mouth, “Please, if you're in there and you can hear me... you don't have to do this.” Please don’t do this.

For a second he thinks it’s worked, thinks his mate hears him, like he heard him when the Leviathans had him. Cas’s face twists up as if he’s in agony and he says “What have you done to me Naomi?” But then everything explodes again and Dean feels his nose break under Cas’s fist.

He flails out, a useless punch. Cas catches his fist, twists, breaks his arm. Snaps it like the bones in Dean’s body mean nothing to him. Dean slumps back, head thick with pain, shock making it hard to breathe normally, hard to think.

Cas broke his arm.

Cas is going to kill him.

His mate is going to kill him.

Dean can only see through one eye, but he focuses it on Castiel. “Cas,” he says. His lips are swollen and his tongue is thick in his mouth where his teeth have cut everything bloody. “I know you're in there. I know you can hear me.” He doesn’t know where the words are coming from, doesn’t even recognize his own voice, it’s so weak and beaten. Pathetic. “Cas... It's me. Please... It’s Dean.Your Dean. You must remember me. You cared once. Held me and told me so. “We're family. I need you.” To remember. To care.

And it’s all true but he’s so tired and he's not sure what's real anymore, why he's even fighting.

Cas stares down at him blankly.  Dean can’t make out his face. It’s too dark and he can only see through one eye. He hears what sounds like Castiel’s blade cluttering to the floor though.

Blinding white light bathes the little crypt. Like an angel dying.

“Cas?”

He doesn’t reply, just reaches for Dean, not two fingers to heal, but palm out, like he’s going to burn him up from the inside. Dean can’t help it, he flinches, begs, “No, Cas no...” weakly lifts his unbroken arm to try and fend him off, or maybe pull him closer because he's tired.

He’s so fucking tired.

He’s wrung-out, cold and shriveled up inside. A dog that needs to be taken out back and shot. When Cas touches him he doesn't fight, he sighs in relief. He’s so sick of this.

Please god. Please let it be over.

Cas heals him.

Dean opens his eyes and there he his, frowning sadly, head tilted, looking down at Dean with those big blue eyes like he's not seeing straight through him. Cas. “I’m so sorry Dean,” he says, and yes, that’s Cas’s voice. His Cas.

But Dean isn’t grateful, he isn’t glad. 

Chapter Text

Cas vanishes.

Dean gives Sam the cliff notes of his mate’s latest... whatever... as they burn Meg’s meatsuit in a shallow grave outside of town.

They don’t even know the girl’s real name. Meg Masters was the blonde. This chick, who knows? Dean hopes she’s been dead longer than Meg, that she wasn’t aware of the demon riding her, of Crowley’s torture. Unlikely though. He doubts Meg bothered to find a coma vic like Ruby had to win Sam over. That old Jimmy Novak guilt washes over him at the realisation that he’s only thinking of her now that he’s burning her body. Whoever she was.

They’re in the car headed back to Kansas when Sam tries to talk to him about Cas. “Seems like it’s angels then,” he says.

Dean raises an eyebrow.

“Brainwashing Cas,” Sam continues. “This Naomi he mentioned.”

Dean knows what his brother is thinking – that the Cas that let it happen maybe wasn’t the real Cas. Hopefully. But Dean doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to know. Doesn’t want to think about it. It hurts too much.

“Yeah. Maybe,” he mutters.

Sam is frowning, his ‘thinking’ frown, furrowed brows and a slight pout. “They probably wanted him to kill you,” he guesses. “And me and Meg – since we knew about the Angel Tablet. If it’s anything like the Demon one there’s probably stuff we could use against angels and Heaven on it.”

All true, but still stuff Dean doesn’t want to think about. He grunts vaguely in response, focusing on the highway ahead. They’re a long way from Lebanon, Kansas, and home.

“The white light you saw... Something must have broken their control over him. Do you remember anything else?”

Dean shrugs. “Couldn’t really see Sam,” he says. “Too busy you know, bleeding everywhere and shit.”

Sam huffs. “Dean. I know this is...” he trails off waving a big sasquatch paw vaguely in the air between them.

Dean shoots him a glare. “What?” he asks snidely. “Hard? Difficult?” No shit. Of course it is.

His brother sighs. “Yeah Dean, all that,” he agrees softly. “But we should probably try and find out what the angels are up to. Find Cas, get some answers and get that tablet to Kevin.”

“No,” Dean grates out. “We close Hell. We get Crowley and the rest of those black-eyed sons of bitches locked down, then we worry about Heaven and the dicks upstairs.”

Dean -”

“No Sammy,” Dean snaps. “Just. I can’t... deal with that. Not right now. Just leave it okay?” He can feel Sam staring at him, but he doesn’t turn to meet his eyes. After a long pause he sees him nod out of the corner of his eye, agreeing to drop it.

“Okay Dean.” he says.

 


 

Bobby’s soul is finally resting in heaven like he deserves, but that’s about the only good thing that’s happened lately.

Sam is pale, weak, a shadow of himself.

The tasks are killing his brother. Dean’s certain of it now. He never really bounced back after the Hellhound and now, now he’s steadily getting worse. And it isn’t any normal illness. He doesn’t get stronger after rest and a decent meal and there’s no medicine that helps.

Dean offers what feeble support he can. He brings his brother beer and Tylenol and nags him to go to sleep at a reasonable hour. It doesn’t make any difference but it’s all he can do.

 


 

The bunker is warded against angels, but they are still hunting as Kevin works on the tablet, and every time Dean’s outside he feels Castiel watching him. Just out of sight, around the corner.

The faint scent of rainclouds follows him wherever he goes, lingering in the air. Even Sam seems to pick up on it sometimes, nostrils flaring as he looks around suspiciously.

Dean ignores it. Hopes that if he ignores it for long enough, he’ll stop noticing.

 


 

Since Lebanon’s hardly more than a blip on the map - home to a grand total of one gas station, one café and two bars - Dean’s over in Smith Center, (and what kinda name is that for a town anyway?), the closest place to the bunker that sells decent pie and other essentials such as beer and cans of low-fat, dolphin friendly tuna for Sam. He’s just adding a carton of eggs to his basket when there’s the tell-tale flutter of wings.

His heart performs some sort of acrobatic flip and clench combo in his chest and he forces himself to look up.

She looks like an angel. Just like any he’s met. Ugly suit, boring hair and the smell of ozone clinging to her, but with something sharp and medicinal lurking underneath. A bleachy hospital smell. Dean stares, reaching slowly for his knife. Sadly it’s just a regular one, not an angel blade, but useless or not, he’ll still feel better with something sharp in his hand.

She holds out her hand and smiles. “We haven’t been formally introduced Dean. My name is Naomi.”

Dean pulls his knife free. Naomi. This is the bitch that’s been drilling into Cas’s head, like Crowley did to Samandiriel, the reason Cas ignored Dean’s prayers and let –

He steps back, looks at the pale hand stretched out towards him, the warm smile. Anger so deep he feels like he’s vibrating shoots out from deep inside him, spreading through every goddamn atom of his body. “Oh I know who you are,” he hisses. “And I know what you did to Cas.” Her smile falters slightly. “Screwed with his head. Had him spy on us.” And worse.

Her face crumples in what’s probably meant to be pity or confusion. “Well, it is true that I have spoken with Castiel many times,” she says, all soft and compassionate. “Trying to reach out to him, trying to help him.” Her eyes are all misty with emotion Dean knows angels don’t even feel. Not really. They’re blue. He wants to bury his knife in one of them. Cut them out of her lying face.

“Dean, you must have noticed how Purgatory changed him,” she continues. “I mean, he's been unstable in the past, but I was shocked at how damaged he is now.”

If he had an angel blade, Dean would be skewering her like Zachariah by now. He doesn’t and it’s still tempting.  “Stop it,” he spits back at her. “Don't... don't try to fucking spin this. You think I don't know you told him to kill me? Made him ignore my prayers?” He keeps his voice steady and firm – certain – but that last part is more wishful thinking than anything else. Something he desperately wants her to confirm.

She just hums sadly, like she pities him. “Yes, I suppose that is how he would hear it,” she tells him, all contrite and infuriating. “When I learned of the Angel tablet, I did tell Castiel to get it at any cost. That's my job - protecting heaven.” She sighs like -- like everything was just some misunderstanding and it’s such a shame. “And now Castiel is in the wind with a hydrogen bomb in his pocket, and I-” She gives him a wide-eyed look of fear. “I'm scared, for all of us.”

The mention of the tablet calms Dean enough to stamp down on how her little innocent act is pissing him off. This isn’t about him or Cas, it’s about the fucking tablet. She’s here because she wants it, is scared it’ll be used against her. Anything she says, it’s just her trying to get information from him.

“Save it bitch,” he sneers. “See, I don't trust angels, which means I don't trust you.”

Naomi smiles smugly. “And yet... still you pray to us.”

Dean’s stomach sinks. “What? I don’t pray to you.

“Yes you do Dean,” she says. “Every night, over and over.” She lowers her voice mockingly. “Castiel! Castiel!”

Dean swallows, thinks he might be sick. She’s lying. He doesn’t pray to anyone, especially Cas.

“You’re a regular broken record Dean,” she tells him. “Been singing the same old song for years, and we’ve been listening, listening to you beg for your dear Castiel. As if you had some claim to him.” Her eyes flick over him in disgust. “You.

Dean grits his teeth. She’s lying. Just trying to goad him into revealing something. “You done?” he asks, trying to sound unaffected.

Her smile reminds him of Lilith’s, something honest and inhuman about it that makes his skin crawl. “You want to blame me for what Castiel has done. You can’t accept that he just doesn’t care.” She glances down at his stomach. “That he was glad when that abomination was torn from you.” Her head tilts and she twists her face into something that’s maybe meant to be pity. “We all were. It was god’s will Dean. I mean, what did you call her? Mary?” She shakes her head and tuts like a school teacher. “Such blasphemy Dean. Nephilim are monsters and you named your little freak after the Holy Virgin Herself? Heaven rejoiced when that thing breathed its last.”

Forget stabbing her, Dean wants to tear her into pieces with his bare hands. Rip that smug face right off her head. He wants to scream at her, but he’s too angry to even form words.

“You're hoping Castiel will return to you,” she says, her voice fond and amused. “Humans. I almost admire your loyalty.”

Dean’s palm is bleeding, ready to banish her lying bitch ass, but she’s gone in a flutter of wings before he can.

 


 

That night Dean sits on the edge of his bed and presses his palms together reluctantly. He doesn’t know... what he feels about Cas, why he’s bothering, but he still feels some ridiculous obligation.

“Castiel?” he prays quietly. “If you can hear me. Naomi's looking for you and the tablet.”

He pauses, contemplates saying more, maybe asking if he knows what’s going on with Sam, if he can heal him, but instead lets his hands fall to his thighs.

Chapter Text

They decipher the last task. They trap Crowley. They have everything ready to end it. To close the gates of Hell forever.

Sam looks like he’s dying, but he’s fierce, adamant he can do it, and Dean... Dean really does believe in him.

Then Castiel appears.

Dean hasn’t seen him since the crypt, hasn’t spoken a word to him since that brief prayer of warning.

“Dean,” he says. “I need your help.”

Sam looks between them, visibly pushes down what looks like some pretty violent urges, sighs loudly, and then heads into the old church.

Dean waits until his brother’s gone, then turns to look at Cas. He’s so angry he feels sick with it. He wants to launch himself at Cas and tear into him with his bare hands and teeth, make him bleed and hurt. He doesn’t want to help him.

“Naomi has taken Metatron,” Cas tells him.

Dean closes his eyes. Pushes down the seething black mess inside him and looks at Cas. Really looks at him. Cas meets his eyes and he just seems... tired. As tired as Dean feels. “I know I have no right to ask anything of you,” he says quietly. “But he was helping me complete the angel trials. We can shut the gates of heaven, lock all the angels inside.” He swallows. “I think you of all people would agree that can only be for the best.”

Angel tasks? Shutting the gates of Heaven like Sam’s shutting Hell?  “You wanna lock your own family up Cas?” Dean asks skeptically.

Cas nods. “Yes. We don’t belong here. I see that now.”

Dean’s heart speeds up a little in his chest.

“Even when we try to be just, we still bring pain and suffering.” Cas’s head tilts to one side and he looks at him with those big blue eyes that seem to drill straight through to Dean’s soul.

Dean swallows, his throat suddenly dry.

Cas hasn’t looked at him like that since the reservoir. “I have tried Dean, tried very hard, and yet... it seems all I have done is hurt you.” And an angel shouldn’t sound like that, all broken up and sad. Especially not one that Dean is trying very hard to hate. “Dean, I’m -”

“Don’t say you’re sorry!” Dean hisses, cutting him off. “Just-” he takes a breath, rubs at his eyes. “Okay fine. Locking up heaven.” Locking up Cas and all the angels where Dean will never have to see them again. Finally being done with this. “I’m on board with that. I’ll... help.”

 


 

It’s almost like old times, sitting at a bar next to Cas. Dean of two or three years ago would have loved it. Would have been ordering fancy drinks and making Cas try them, watching his expressions as he took his first taste of a purple nurple or a fruit tingle or something.

The only reason Dean’s anywhere near him now is that he’s going to be gone for good soon. Back to heaven. No more haunting Dean. Maybe he’ll finally be able to forget him, get back to the way things were before an angel dragged him out of the pit and burnt himself into Dean’s soul. Everything will be grey again, but really, Dean wants that. Never knowing what green or blue look like would have been a small price to pay for never having to live through all the shit having Castiel for a mate has caused.

And all they need is a cupid’s bow.

They watch and wait and Dean drinks free beer.  Apparently Cas saved the bartender’s life or something. The guy’s an alpha but friendly enough – then again for all intents and purposes Cas and Dean are a mated couple, or at least that’s how Dean smells, so it might be just that he’s laying off for Cas’s sake rather than the goodness of his heart or whatever.

Dean doesn’t really care.

He sips his beer and waits for some likely beta or omega to stroll in and a fat naked guy to pop up and dose them both with angelic love mojo. And in the meantime he watches the tv so he doesn’t have to make conversation or look at Cas. So far there’s been maybe a dozen customers in and out, but no single women or male omegas. Perhaps the bartender is kinkier than he looks? Into dude betas? Whatever his preference it looks like they might be there a while. The bar isn’t exactly jumping.

Dean jiggles his leg. Checks his phone for the millionth time. There are no texts or calls from Sam so he fires one off, just checking in to make sure his brother has everything under control. If this task is harder than the last one – and that seems pretty much guaranteed - it’s got to be kicking Sam’s ass. He should be there with him, not sitting around drinking beer and waiting on a naked angel.

He talks to Cas to distract himself from worrying about Sam. “So a cupid’s bow,” he says. “What’s up with that?”

The angel frowns. “It is the second of three tasks. There is no discernable pattern to them so far, save perhaps angelic involvement in matters of human...” he frowns like he can’t think of the right word. “reproduction.”

For a second Dean’s confused, but then he remembers that cupid from a few months back. The case that Cas had come along for. How angels had apparently mind-whammied his parents great big love into existence. “Oh yeah, cause cupids are all about those keeping those heavenly breeding programs ticking over right?” he drawls sarcastically.

Cas takes him at face value. “Yes. I can only imagine this man belongs to a bloodline heaven wishes to preserve.”

Dean wonders if there was some heavenly hit order taken out on him years ago. If some fat naked dude shot him while he was sleeping. Maybe someone upstairs thought it would be funny for him to fall in love Castiel. Zachariah would have found the idea hilarious. Maybe none of this was meant to happen, maybe it was all just some fucked up angelic practical joke and his truemate was meant to be some ugly old trucker from Alabama or something.

“So what was the first task?” he asks just to say something. “Sam had to stick a hellhound and use its blood for facepaint.”

Cas looks away, down the bar, then back to Dean and then down at his feet. “It was not dissimilar. I had to spill the blood of a lesser child of Heaven.”

“You had to kill another angel?” Dean almost feels sorry for him. He knows how guilty Cas feels over all the brothers and sisters he’s killed, even if most of the time it was in self-defence.

“Not an angel,” Cas tells him. “The offspring of one.”

Dean frowns. “What, like... a baby angel? Metatron had you kill a baby angel Cas? Cause that’s fucked up.”

Cas shakes his head, still won’t meet his eyes. “No. She was an adult and she was not an angel.”

For a few seconds it’s a tangle in Dean’s mind, then he puts all the bits together and feels his blood run cold. Remembers Naomi’s words about abominations and god’s will. Beer sloshes over his fingers as he slaps his bottle down too hard. Cas is looking down at his hands in his lap, but Dean stares at him until he raises his eyes to meet his. He doesn’t want to believe it, but the guilt there says it all. He thinks he might throw up all that free beer.

“You killed a Nephilim,” he accuses Cas in disbelief. He waits, prays for a denial, but there’s none forthcoming. “Jesus.” He lets out one of those weird chuckles that have nothing to do with laughter. “You did.”

“I did not want to,” Cas says, like that makes a difference.

Dean can’t breathe. “How could you...” do that?

“It was for the greater good,” Cas says. “I had to. I didn’t want to but I had to. She was the only one on left on Earth.”

Dean just stares, blood rushing in his ears. “The only one left because I'd already--" He chokes on the words. Cas stares at him, his expression stricken. "Guess you were doing God's work when you killed her huh?" Dean continues. "This other Nephilim? Cause they’re monsters, abominations.

“Dean I-”

Dean cuts him off before he can say anything, leans forward and twists a fist in his shirt, hard enough that if Cas was a normal man he’d be choking. “I don’t wanna hear it Cas. Let’s just get your bow so you and family can all fuck off and leave us ‘mud monkeys’ in peace huh?”

Across the room the door chimes and a rosy-cheeked delivery woman steps up to the bar with a parcel and a smile.

 


 

They’re standing in a car park with a plastic bag full of Cupid, (gross), when Naomi appears before them.

She tells him Sam’s going to die and that Cas isn’t completing tasks to lock Heaven, he’s working a ritual to destroy it.

Kevin’s got the tablet and can’t tell Dean if any of it is true. Dean knows in his bones that the bit about Sam is though. The tasks have steadily gotten harder and the great heavenly douchebag’s always been big on martyrdom.

Naomi says some crap to Cas about forgiveness or something, then flutters off. Dean honestly can’t tell if she’s lying or not. He doesn’t care. Heaven can go screw itself.

“Take me back to Sam!” he yells at Cas. “Now!”

The angel grabs his shoulder and they’re back at the church. Dean gets an odd sense of dejavu. He’s reminded of another old church, of arriving too late to stop his brother. He starts up the steps at a run. Not again. This time he’s gonna make it. This time he’s gonna stop Sam before it’s too late.

“Dean, I'm not wrong!” Castiel calls out behind him. Dean looks back over his shoulder at his mate.

His face is set, fierce and determined. For a moment Dean forgets all the lies and the hurting - the mark on his shoulder, purgatory and unanswered prayers. This is the old Cas, the real one. His friend if nothing else. “I'm going to fix my home,” he says, sounding certain for the first time in a long time. "I'm going to make this right." He looks at Dean for a moment, but Dean doesn’t have anything to say, and then he’s gone.

“Bye Cas,” Dean tells no one, then he pushes open the doors of the church.

Chapter Text

Sam wants to kill himself to see Hell closed.

Dean recognises the defeat in his brother’s face. The exhaustion and guilt. He sees it in the mirror every morning. He tells Sam No.

Faced with the choice between his brother and the greater good, Dean decides the world, the greater good, isn’t fucking worth it. Sam’s sacrificed enough. They’ve scarified enough. How much of their family’s blood has soaked into the dirt since Dean and Sam had the misfortune of being born? Before then even?

Crowley is crying, almost-human and having to face centuries of sin. Dean figures whatever Crowley had to do to get to the top of the demonic food chain must make his ten years wielding a blade for Alistair seem tame. He doesn’t care though.

They pile the sobbing half-demon into the back of the Impala. Dean’s pretty sure Kevin’s gonna gank the guy the moment they get home, but hey, whatever.

Sam staggers and reels like a drunk, vomits up bile. Dean steadies him and they lean against the side of the car for a few minutes, letting this new thing sink in.

The sky lights up with shooting stars. Golden comets.

For a moment Dean looks up and thinks it’s beautiful, that here, finally, is a sign that things aren’t so bad.

Then he realises he’s looking at angels falling.

Naomi hadn’t lied.

“Cas,” he says sadly. “You stupid son of a bitch.”

He’s done it again. Tried to fix something, tried to help, and done... this. His brother and sisters. Cast out, burning, wings aflame, so many of them he can’t count.

Suddenly he’s terrified.

Cas, his brain says. Cas Cas Cas.

He swallows, trying to shove those emotions back down deep where they can’t hurt him, but it’s not working because Cas. Angels are falling and his mate is an angel and what if he’s one of those streaking across the sky burning up? What if one of those dots of light is his Cas?!

He shouldn’t care. Most of him doesn’t. But the stupid part, the whiny bitch omega part is beside itself. His mate is burning alive.

Sam sends him a look. It’s amazing all he manages to convey with it.

Dean swallows. Forces himself to his feet. Takes Sam’s arm and helps him over to the passenger door. Gets behind the wheel. Behind them Crowley is curled up against a window, clutching an arm rest, looking at the falling angels and sobbing like a child.

 


 

Sam protests, but Dean puts him to bed.

“Dean! This is huge! We have to-”

“I know! But you’re practically falling over Sam. You’re no good to anyone right now,” Dean tells him, trying to be reasonable. Sam responds better to reason than threats or bribery. Always has. “Kevin and I’ll ring around, get a hold of Garth, start figuring out what’s happening, and then you can take over while I catch some z’s later okay?”

“Don’t let me sleep too long,” Sam says. “Just a few hours.”

Dean nods.

Sam looks over his shoulder at Crowley, who’s curled up on an armchair in the library in more or less exactly the same position he’d been in in the car. “What about him?”

Dean looks at the pathetic demon and sighs. “I guess I’ll lock him up in the dungeon,” he mutters. “That’s what’s it’s there for.”

“The dungeon?” Sam asks, sounding almost concerned.

Dean purses his lips. “He’s still Crowley Sam. I’m not gonna tuck him into bed and bring him fucking cocoa.”

His brother nods tiredly in agreement and turns towards the door, making his way slowly towards the bedrooms down the hallway.

Dean pulls Crowley to his feet. He flops like a sack of potatoes. A very sad, very contrite, crying sack of potatoes. There’s no resistance as Dean leads him down to the bare concrete dungeon, sits him on a chair in the middle of a devil’s trap, (not that he’s sure it will actually hold the not-quite-demon anymore), and chains him up in the thick manacles.

He stops and looks at the dejected figure before he shuts the door. All the mundane messy details of his returned humanity occur to him. Crowley might need to be fed and watered. Might need a bucket to piss in. Dean figures he’ll last one night as is and slams the iron door closed.

Sam is stretched out on his stomach fully dressed when Dean checks to make sure he’s actually followed instructions. Dean pads across his room and pulls off his boots and undoes his jeans so he’ll be slightly more comfortable. Sam huffs and whines “Deeeean,” in annoyance then rolls around a bit, but doesn’t actually wake up.

He looks utterly wrecked.

His skin is so pale it’s translucent. Delicate blue veins are visible in his temples. The skin around his eyes and mouth looks bruised. His lips are cracked and bleeding. When Dean presses a palm to his face his skin is cool and clammy. More than anything he’s reminded of how Sam had looked when his hallucinations of Hell were killing him. This looks worse. He fetches a glass of water and a bottle of painkillers and shakes Sam awake.

“Sammy.”

For a moment Sam is himself again. And bitchy. “Ugh. Dean.

“Get under the covers jerk,” Dean orders.

Sam lets out an enormous sigh, like Dean’s really asking a lot of him, and then rolls around until he’s more or less in bed. Kind of. Before he can pass out again Dean palms a few pills and waves them under his nose. “Here, take a couple of these. You’ll thank me in the morning.” His brother doesn’t open his eyes, but he does open his mouth to swallow the tablets dry, scowling at the bitter taste. Dean holds the glass to his lips. Sam’s probably dehydrated. Even if he’s not, water’s always a good thing. He takes a few sips.

“Happy now mom?” Sam mutters.

Dean rolls his eyes even though his brother can’t see.

Back in the library he checks their phones. Garth has left messages on both and there are a few texts from Kevin saying he and his mom are headed back.

Dean calls Garth first, tells him the truth – that they have no idea what’s happening but it’s undoubtedly somehow Cas’s fault since he and that slimy shit Metatron were fucking around with the angel tablet. Garth’s trying to track the number of falling ‘stars’ to get an idea of numbers, but from what he’s seen so far it’s not hundreds, but thousands. Angels have fallen across the entire globe. Into cities, suburbs, deserts and oceans alike. Boats are pulling people – fallen angels – from the water.

From what Garth’s saying they sound human, or at least powerless, but they still remember who they are.

Dean has no fucking idea what they’re meant to do.

 


 

Dean dreams of his grave. The weird stillness in the air, the heat of the sun above, the circle of trees dead all around and his hands all torn up and dirty from digging his way out. Except it isn’t his grave he realises, it’s a crater.  And Castiel is lying at the centre, a fallen star bloody and broken, ashy wings burnt into the dirt on either side of him.

He’s still and pale and his eyes are closed.

Dean wakes up drenched in sweat, the stink of his panic thick and rank in the room.

 


 

Sam gets worse.

Death pays Dean a visit.

“I’m not meant to reap your brother yet Dean,” he tells Dean, perched on one of the armchairs in the library. “But soon I’ll have too.” His eyes glitter darkly as he fixes that fucking eerie stare of his on Dean. “But perhaps that’s for the best. Your brother is... very tired Dean. He deserves peace.”

Dean takes that for the hint that it is and he and Kevin scour the Men of Letters archives for healing mojo. Miraculously, they actually find something. Dean doesn’t quite believe their good fortune. It’s a Native American ritual. According to the file native spirits are in general more powerful, (and benign when shown proper respect), owing to their long attachment to the land. The particular spirit referred to had been successfully invoked in the 50's and from what Dean reads, that had turned out pretty well. A Man of Letters had been healed of a particularly gruesome curse that nothing else, no matter how powerful the magic, had seemed to work on. All they have to do is drag Sam out to sacred ground, smear him in a weird mix of bodily fluids and make him drink something fermented and nasty smelling. Dean and Kevin have to slice up their arms a bit and ask for help, but as far as rituals go, it's fairly tame.

Sam wakes up 12 hours later after what sounds like some sort of wild acid trip with the Spirit and with a deep and abiding respect for buffalo.

“They killed them all,” he tells Dean feverishly, his first words in days. “All the buffalo!”

Kevin and Dean share a look.

 


 

It takes Sam a week to recover. While he’s resting up in bed, Garth and Dean try and figure out a plan of action.

There are fallen angels everywhere. Some have been taken in or captured by hunters, witches and other supernatural beings, but there are just too many and a lot of them are pissed. And even powered down, Angel-Pissed isn’t pretty. They wrote the book on smiting and wrath after all.

Dean doesn’t say anything, but he knows that Garth is keeping his ears out, trying to find Castiel. He thinks about telling him not to, but... he... he thinks of Cas weak and human, hurting somewhere, and he... doesn’t.

Chapter Text

It’s almost two months before he sees or hears from Cas.

It’s some ungodly hour in the morning and Dean’s just returned from a quick werewolf thing that needed taking care of down in Wichita. Sam’s off with Kevin following up some research lead to do with the angel tablet a few states over, so it’s Garth and three angels he finds sitting around one of the library tables pouring over a laptop and a pile of old Men of Letters stuff.

Dean recognises him from behind even though he’s wearing strange clothes and his hair has grown out.

Cas turns.

Dean’s heart lurches and his blood turns to ice in his veins.

It plays out like it should have done years ago in that barn in Indiana.

Cas sees Dean and he freezes. His eyes widen and mouth falls open. He stands abruptly and his chair falls over with a clatter behind him. The expression on his face is one of utter amazement and longing - Dean’s pretty sure it’s the exact face he made when Castiel burst through that barn door in a shower of sparks and fucked Dean’s head entirely with his blue eyes and his messy hair.

“Dean,” he says, and he’s never said his name like that before.

Dean can’t move. His heart’s going crazy and the intensity with which he suddenly wants is terrifying.

Cas is across the room in an instant and then he has his hands on Dean’s face, gentle and reverent. His eyes are so blue and Dean still can’t move, can’t even look away. Cas is different. Softer, rougher, human. His scent is changed to, the rainstorm smell tempered with something grassy. It makes Dean ache, makes him want to suck bruises into the pale skin just below Cas’s ear. He swallows, blinks. His body feels like it’s humming, vibrating with tamped down energy that might explode at any second.

Dean.” Cas says again and now he has a hand in Dean’s hair and when did that happen and he’s leaning closer, so close Dean can feel the static of the dry air between them, feels like he can taste the very molecules of empty space that separate them.

There’s a ringing in Dean’s ears and then Castiel is kissing him. Deep greedy kisses, like he’s starved for Dean, like he’ll die if he doesn’t get him.

Dean lets him in without a thought and Cas groans into his mouth. Around them their scents mix and change, grow bright and tingly on the back of Dean’s throat as he sucks air.

Alpha. Home. Mate. 

His mate is kissing him, wanting him. Dean is exultant. Finally, he thinks, delirious with it, finally mine. Cas Cas mine mine.

Cas yanks on his hair, tilts his head back and pulls his mouth from Dean’s so he can bury his face against his neck, panting and kissing and taking great greedy gulps of his scent directly from his skin. “Mine,” he says. “My Dean. My own. Dean dean dean...” He’s crowding closer, pushing Dean back and then he’s pressed into the wall near the kitchen and Cas is plastered against him from head to toe, a thigh shoved between his legs and his hips making little jerking movements.

Dean’s head is reeling, his thoughts looping like he’s drunk or high. Cas’s teeth are sharp at his neck and his dick feels huge where he’s grinding into Dean’s hip. Every breath he takes is thick with Cas’s scent, contagious with his alpha’s need. Cas laves the skin beneath his ear with a hot swipe of his tongue and then he draws the flesh into his mouth, sucks a mark into it and a whine out of Dean’s throat. Heat blooms in his blood and his ass twitches, a dribble of slick slipping down between his cheeks.

Cas flinches, jerking away to stare at Dean, face flushed, lips pink and wet. He inhales deeply as the scent of Dean’s arousal bleeds into the air between them. His eyes widen impossibly and then he rubs his face against Dean’s, scent marking him like a cat. “Dean...” He sounds like he’s in pain. “So beautiful,” murmuring softly, “So lovely,” his lips catching at Dean’s as he speaks. The hand on Dean’s hip slides down over the curve of his ass and then Cas is hauling him closer, fingers digging into denim that’s damp and the touch there, even though his jeans, feels electric and has Dean whimpering.  Cas groans, rubbing at the crease of Dean’s ass more intentionally, little firm strokes of his fingers. “Need you,” he gasps. "--need you Dean.”

Yes. Yes yes yes, Dean is thinking. The only reason he doesn’t turn around let Cas fuck him where they stand, despite the spectators, is the fact that he needs to kiss him. So he does. The kiss is rough and messy, the kiss he’s waited years to give his mate. Dean wants to inhale Cas, breathe him in and then rub himself all over him until he stinks like Dean, so everyone knows he’s his alpha. His mate. Dean's.

Bedroom. He needs to get Cas into his bed. Then he needs to get him naked and get his dick inside him. The thought has more slick dripping out of him and Cas groans into his mouth at the smell of it, hips rutting up into Dean desperately, like he can fuck him through their clothes if he just tries hard enough. Dean’s shaking now, so scent drunk on Cas he might as well be in heat. “Cas,” he pants. “Need you...” to fuck me, knot me and fill me up with your come. “-please...” Tie us together and make me yours then do it again and again and again until I’m fat with it and-

Dean freezes.

He remembers the last time he felt a need like this, and the aftermath. The door in the hallway that’s locked. For a minute he feels like he’s floating, disconnected from his body. He can feel Cas, the heat of him, the way he’s rubbing and pulling against him, the delicious smell of him covering him like a cloud, but he’s numb, floating above it, unaffected.

“Cas,” his voice comes out even and calm.

Cas doesn’t respond, he’s yanked the collar of Dean’s shirt aside and is sucking another mark into his shoulder.

Suddenly Dean is furious.

He twists, shoves and pushes... And Cas is on the floor, staring up at Dean in shock and confusion and righteous alpha indignation.

In an instant he’s up, a growl low in his throat, crowding Dean again. But he’s not an angel anymore, he’s human, and Dean’s stronger, faster and infinitely more practiced in a fight. He reaches for Dean and Dean twists his arm, threatening to break his wrist. “No,” he hisses. Cas glares at him. “You don’t get to touch me.”

The anger and disbelief on Cas’s face pleases the bitter, broken part of Dean.

“Dean, you are-” Cas starts but Dean cuts him off.

No.”

He wants to scream at him, list all the times Cas has hurt him, cut him and left him bleeding, but it’s too much, he can’t get it all out, so he just shoves Cas away, makes him stumble back a few steps.

“Don’t come near me,” he tells him. “Don’t touch me, don’t talk to me. Don’t even fucking look at me.”

He stalks out of the room, glaring at Cas over his shoulder when he makes to follow.

 


 

Dean’s not a complete asshole.

He douses himself in scent blocking deodorant and masking cologne. Sharing space with an estranged omega/alpha pairing is basically the most uncomfortable thing ever, the least he can do is try not to stink the place up.

His body doesn’t understand why he can’t have Cas, it knows he’s around, can smell how much he wants him, and Dean knows without the scent blocking he’d be putting out a jarring mix of  ‘come fuck me’ and ‘actually no, fuck off and die’ vibes like nobody’s business.

He carefully avoids Cas. He basically pretends the alpha is invisible. He doesn’t react to his presence, pretends he can’t hear him, and if anyone tries to talk to him about him he shuts them down point blank.

Sam doesn’t say anything. Dean was half expecting him to try and talk to Dean about it, maybe plead Cas’s case – he’d been an angel and didn’t understand what he was doing to Dean, he’d been brainwashed and that was why he didn’t come when-

But Sam doesn’t. He talks to Cas politely enough, but only when he needs his insight or advice. The friendly camaraderie they shared before... all of this. Before Purgatory and his wall and the leviathans, is gone. Dean takes vindictive pleasure in that.

Cas is suffering. He knows. He knows because he’s intimately familiar with how it feels to be rejected by your mate. A part of him wants to ditch the deodorants and just torture Cas with his scent.

He wants Cas to hurt.

 


 

Cas manages to get him alone to try and speak to him a week later. “Dean, I wish to-”

“I know what you wish and it’s not gonna happen,” Dean tells him snidely.

Cas’s face crumples and his shoulders slump. Dean walks away.

 


 

Cas knocks on his door at 2am. He manages to get a whole sentence out when Dean opens the door.

“Dean please. Let me apologize.”

Dean shuts his door in his face.

 


 

Cas is talking to Charlie in the kitchen. “He will not listen. He hates me.”

Dean lingers out of sight in the hall for a moment even though he knows he should ignore everything Cas says, turn around and walk away.

“You can’t expect him to magically forgive you overnight Cas,” Charlie tells him. “I don’t know all the details, but it sounds like you seriously fucked up.” Understatement Dean thinks to himself.

“I didn’t know!” Cas wails and Dean can hear that he’s almost in tears.

Charlie makes a comforting noise and there’s quiet snuffling sound. Maybe hugging.

Cas says something but it’s too quiet for Dean to make out.

“Oh Cas,” Charlie says sadly.

There’s a gasp and sob and Dean knows he’s listening to Cas cry.

It makes the stamped down, ignored, omega part of him wring its hands. He wants to go and pull Cas into his arms, make everything okay for him.

He can’t though.

Dean turns and walks back to his room.

Chapter Text

Cas is injured.

He’s out with one of Garth’s hunter contacts tracking down leads on fallen angels.

They corner him and don’t care for his explanation about Metatron and his lies. About Kevin and the Angel Tablet and how they are looking for a way to open Heaven and get the angels home.

He escapes – of all the angels Cas is the most experienced when it comes to fighting his own kind and being stripped of his powers – but he’s bruised and bloody when he makes it back to the bunker.

The angels present are mostly of lower tier rank - cherubs and messengers of the second and third spheres - (Dean’s had a crash course in the confusing hierarchy of Heaven since it crash landed on earth) – and they collectively freak out at the sight of a seraph beaten half to death.

Sam deals with Cas. Dean stands outside the door of the room Cas shares with two other angels, listening to his mate gasp in pain and call out to him as Sam stitches him up.

Mrs Tran gives him a look. Charlie walks past and sighs.

Dean grits his teeth and enters the room.

Sam has Cas laid out on his bed, stripped to his boxers. Cas is pretty much as Dean guessed. Bruised and beaten, but not seriously injured. He’s shaking from shock though as Sam stitches a long gash across his ribs up.

His head snaps to the side and he stares at Dean silent and wide-eyed.

The room is silent for a moment, Sam’s needle stills as he looks at his brother. “You wanna start on that one?” he suggests, pointing at a jagged tear in Cas’s arm from what looks like a fall through plate glass.

Dean clears his throat and kneels opposite his brother, disinfecting a needle and threading it on automatic. He doesn’t look at Cas, doesn’t speak to him, but the shaking and teeth chattering slows and stops over the next few minutes as his presence calms his mate.

Cas doesn’t say anything, just stares at Dean’s face, his hands where he touches him, the needle threading in and out of his skin.

 


 

Cas’s bruises are still fading when he enters the kitchen while Dean is cooking.

He clears his throat nervously.

Dean doesn’t turn around. “No,” he says preempting whatever Cas was gonna come out with. “I don’t wanna fight with you Cas, but I don’t wanna talk to you either. Just... I can't. Leave it.”

He feels Cas’s eyes boring into the back of his head while he flips his eggs, but his mate doesn’t say anything and after a minute he hears him turn and pad back down the hall.

 


 

Dean’s not sure what wakes him.

He lies in his bed for five minutes, vaguely uneasy, unable to get comfortable. Then he hears something through the wall his headboard rests against.

Instantly he’s wide awake.

There shouldn’t be anyone in the room on that side. That’s the room. The one with the locked door.

Dean gets up and stalks out into the hall, looking to the right. The door that should be locked stands ajar.

Dean’s furious. Someone’s sneaking around, nosing into shit that they have no right to.

Three steps and he’s shoving the door open, ready to beat the hell out of whichever nosy fucking fallen angel is snooping around his business. The dark shape of someone’s back faces him where they sit in the middle of the room. Dean snaps the light on.

It’s exactly as it was the last time he’d been in here, months ago with Sam, hanging the stupid mobile with the fucking giraffes over the empty crib.

The walls are mint green, the trim is white, the furniture is neatly arranged. Dean wants to scream. How dare they!? He’ll kill them.

The figure crouched on the floor looks over his shoulder at Dean and makes a pained choking noise. It’s Cas.

Cas is sitting in the middle of the floor and his face is red and he’s crying and there’s snot on his chin and he’s maybe the most pathetic thing Dean’s ever seen in his entire life. As Dean watches he starts to cry in earnest, fucking weeping like no grown man should, like he never learned not to.

He says something that might be Dean’s name and then turns away, tucking his face against his knees and crossing his arms over his head like a child hiding.

Dean’s angry and hurting and overwhelmed and when he walks forward he’s not sure what he’s going to do. He stops at Cas’s side. Stares down at his dark head as pale fingers grip at his hair like he’s going to start tearing it out.

A second later he’s sitting beside him on the floor.

There’s a toy sitting at Cas’s feet. A fat little bug thing that Dean had picked up because it was funny looking and seemed to offend Sam just by existing.

“I didn’t come,” Cas says in a broken voice, not moving his head from where it’s buried. “I heard you... you and Sam and Kevin and Linda Tran. All your prayers and I didn’t come.”  His shoulders shake and he’s silent save gasps and sobs for a minute. “I didn’t care. I knew you wouldn’t die and I didn’t care about the rest. About our child.” He raises his head at looks at Dean, eyes red and raw. “How can you even stand to look at me?”

Dean doesn’t have an answer for him. It’s costing him a lot just to be here. Next to Cas. This room shouldn’t be... wouldn’t be empty if he’d-

“You’re my mate,” Cas whispers, almost a question. “You’ve always been my mate haven’t you?” He's lifted his head and is staring at Dean with bloodshot eyes.

Dean nods.

“I didn’t... I didn’t know.” Cas says, but then frowns. “No. That’s a lie. When Lucifer rose, when I was falling, I think I knew then. I knew there was something.” He sniffs. “You’ve always been... different. Special.”

Dean remembers those days, the apocalypse, the Four Horsemen and Lucifer walking the earth. It’s ridiculous that they seem like good times to him now. But Cas had been with him. Back then he’d looked at Dean and actually seen him.

“There was a room,” Cas tells him, staring down at his bare feet. “In heaven. She made me-” He breaks off and sobs messily for a few seconds. “Made me... practice. Over and over. So I’d be strong enough. When you prayed to me that’s what – what I was-” The words trail off as Cas starts crying again.

Dean doesn’t know what he’s is talking about, probably whatever angelic brainwashing Naomi was putting him through to control him.

Cas’s face twists in on itself like he might bite his own lips off. “It hurts. It hurts so much. I see you and you’re so...” He looks at Dean, his expression pained and longing, and Dean's not so sure he likes how Cas is hurting anymore. “You’re meant for me Dean," he whispers. "You're my mate. You're meant to be mine. And I am meant to be yours."

There's a knife somewhere in Dean's chest, carving him out, making everything ache. How many years has he longed to hear Cas say these things? How can they hurt so bad?

"But that’s never going to happen is it?” Cas swallows and his voice isn’t accusing, just resigned. “You’ll never forgive me will you?” It's not even really a question, there's no hope there at all.

“No,” Dean tells him and for the first time he wants his answer to be different. “I... it’s too much. I can’t.”

Cas nods. “I am sorry,” he says at length. “I wish... I wish...” he trails off at a loss, presses his forehead back against his knees.

Dean wishes for a lot of things. Mostly he wishes they weren't sitting in an empty room.

 


 

Spring comes around and the fallen angels, locked into their human vessels and mortal in all the ways that count, start going into heat and rut.

It’s not so bad for those that Dean and Sam and other hunters have taken in, the ones who believe Cas and direct their ire at Metatron, they know what to expect, they’ve been trained in humanity 101. Those with omega vessels are already on suppressants and the alphas have been warned about ruts and all those scary dirty human urges they entail.

It’s still awful. The bunker is full, stuffed to bursting with hunters and angels, and there’s always at least one of them stinking up the place with a rut and trying to hump everything that moves. Even forewarned the angels are overwhelmed. Sexual attraction, like all human sensation, is new to them. It’s like watching someone go through puberty in a day instead of years.

A few of them pair off and end up mated. Which is probably a good thing Dean supposes, but they haven’t quite grasped human modesty and he walks in on angels earnestly ‘fornicating’ in odd places more than once.

The angels that haven’t been taken in by humans don’t fare so well.

They hit their rut or heat and have zero self-control. There are reports of sex crazed goings on all over the place. There are arrests and when they start talking people think there’s some right wing Christian cult brainwashing people.

There’s not a lot they can do. They help the ones they can, angels springing their brothers and sisters from mental wards and prisons, but some of them are mated to humans and it’s basically a huge clusterfuck. Especially since many of them took vessels as they fell, people still in the system, and their ‘families’ get involved.

 


 

Dean keeps a wary eye on Cas. He’s not sure what will happen when he goes into rut, but plans to make himself scarce for the duration.

Since their... talk in Mary’s nursery, he hasn’t made any attempt to speak to Dean and there is an uneasy truce between them.

No one talks about it, the giant elephant in the room. Even Sam leaves well enough alone.

Even though they don’t talk and Dean doesn’t even look at Cas, he’s still very much aware of him. It’s impossible not to be. He therefore notices when he doesn’t see Cas for an entire day, and then two. He can’t quite bring himself to ask or look for him though. The last time he'd seen him, passed him a hallway, his scent had been slightly off. There'd been something deep and rich under that rainstorm and grass scent that made him want to bury his face against Cas's neck and inhale. 

He carefully doesn't think about it, but he assumes Cas is locked up somewhere suffering through his first rut.

 


 

Dean’s a light sleeper. Since the bunker became a drop in center for fallen angels, he’s become used to being woken up by a toilet flushing at 3am or someone shutting a door at an equally unsociable hour. He wakes up and rolls over by habit, noting the time (02.47), ears half-pricked but not alarmed like he would have been if a noise woke him in a motel.

He hears the soft thrum of the shower down the hall and relaxes back into sleep. He wakes again later on and notes that the shower is still running. A glance to his left tells him it’s now 3:22am, and he huffs to himself at the asshole using all the hot water.

The next time he looks at the clock it’s 4:02am and the shower is still running.

Dean can’t relax after that, he lies there waiting for the shower to turn off. When it still hasn’t at 4:15am he pulls himself out of bed and stomps out of his room. The light is on in the bathroom, a line of light against the hall carpet.

Dean knocks. “Hey!”

There’s no response. He knocks again, slightly louder.

There isn’t even the sound of someone standing in the tub, the shifting noises of someone under the water. Just the steady drone of water hitting porcelain. Dean tries the knob. It’s locked. It’s one of those locks you can set then pull shut from outside though, so Dean wonders if some clueless angel left the shower on and locked the door on their way out? There are two recent arrivals who just might be that stupid.

Dean knocks again and says “I’m coming in!” for politeness’s sake, then shoulders the door open. It’s just a privacy lock and an ordinary door – not one of the hardcore iron reinforced ones like on the main doors, and the jamb tears away from the soft wood easily enough.

The room is full of steam, but that’s not why Dean chokes. The moment the door opens he’s enveloped in an awful mix of Cas – ozone and rainstorm tripled and intensified and calling out to him in an alpha rut - and blood. He half expects to find blood dramatically pouring over the bathtub like something from a movie, but at a glance everything looks... normal. There are pajamas neatly folded on the toilet, a toothbrush sitting beside the sink and the shower curtain is pulled shut.

Dean crosses the tiles and yanks it back.

Castiel is sitting hunched over, cross-legged under the stream of water at the end of the tub. His skin is too pale and the knobs of his spine too pronounced. There are two angry looking red scars down either side of his back like flared inkblots. Dean stares at them for a moment, taken aback, and thinks wings. “Cas?”

He doesn’t move. Dean reaches down and gingerly grabs his shoulder. Cas doesn’t react, just sways to one side at the touch, slumping against the side of the tub. The smell of blood gets stronger and Dean realizes the water near the drain is pink. He grips Cas firmly and pulls him back so he can see his face, see where he’s bleeding. “Cas!”

There are several long straight slashes up the insides of his arms, from his palms almost to his elbows. The water washes over them pink. Abandoned by the drain, an angel blade gleams silver. Dean feels something twist and break deep in his chest. “Cas?” he doesn’t recognize his own voice.

He fumbles with the taps, shutting them off one-handed while he grabs at Cas’s left arm, the one with the worst cuts, and tries to apply pressure. “Cas! Cas wake up you stupid fucking angel!” The water cuts off and Cas makes an annoyed little huffing noise and starts to shiver. Dean flounders for a moment then yanks the towels from the rack. He piles them haphazardly over Cas then clambers into the tub behind him, pulling his naked, shivering body snug into his arms.

Cas feels so small, half-starved. Bony and fragile and utterly human. He turns into Dean, tucking his wet head under his chin and sighs, murmurs something in what could be Enochian or Martian for all Dean knows. He wraps a towel around Cas’s left arm a few times, then repeats the process with the other. Cas’s skin should be hot from the shower, but instead it’s cold. His wrists feel tiny. The cuts are so deep they gape widely and Dean can see the white of tendons and ligaments under the seeping red blood. They should be gushing blood, but there’s hardly anything coming out.  “Cas... Wha’d you do?”

Cas shifts again, raises an arm in a drunken wave, his head lolling as he twists and lifts it to point enormous blue eyes up at Dean. The towel falls off his arm but it’s not doing much anyway. He smiles radiantly. Presses cold fingers to Dean’s cheek. “Oh Dean,” he says, in English this time. “Oh I love you so.”

Dean knows what’s going to happen next, it’s happened before. Cas is going to leave him and everything will turn grey again. “What did you do Cas?!”

“My mate. My perfect, beautiful Dean,” Cas says, his words slurring slightly. “May I say that? May I call you mine?”

“Yeah Cas. You can say it.” Dean tells him.

Cas blinks slowly, drags shaking fingertips over Dean’s face. “I was so proud that I was the one that found you Dean,” he says, his voice dreamy and vague. “That I pulled you from the Pit and breathed life back into you. The Righteous Man.” His fingers slip awkwardly from Dean’s face and curl against his arm, right where his mark used to be. “So I touched you and I left my mark upon you, so all would know it was I who’d saved you.” His voice drops, becomes scathing. “Stupid. Selfish.”

Dean stares at him in a weird panicked shock. He knows he should be doing something, calling for help, seeing to Cas’s arms, but here it is, the answer to the question he’s been torturing himself over for years. Why? “You... You didn’t know?” he asks in a very small voice.

Cas shakes his head, wet hair dripping. “I didn’t. I didn’t. Forgive me.”

He sounds so fucking sorry and amazingly, it eases something deep inside. Dean lets himself press a hand to Cas’s face. Really look at him for the first time since he fell.

“I don’t want to hurt you anymore,” Cas tells him. “... been so cruel” He curls back to rest against Dean’s chest, arms dropping limply at his side. His voice is a whisper. “I’m sorry, so sorry. I didn’t understand.”

His heart beats rabbit fast where Dean holds him. He doesn’t know what to say, doesn’t know what to do. “Castiel.” he says, but he’s crying and he doesn’t have any more words anyway. None of this is fair.

“Shhhh,” says Castiel. “Don’t cry.”

Chapter Text

Dean screams until his brother is beside him.

Shit,” Sam snaps.

Cas flops like a disgruntled fish, pushing ineffectually at Sam’s pawing hands. Dean tightens his grip, hold him still so Sam can look at the cuts. Charlie appears beside him with a first aid kit. Then stands back and bites at her fingernails.

He’s frowning at Cas’s arms and Dean knows what he’s thinking because he’s thinking the same thing. Cas has already lost so much blood. Too much blood. He’ll die without a transfusion. Still, he pulls out a roll of gauze and starts tightly bandaging Cas’s arms with practiced, efficient movements.

Dean’s vaguely aware of other voices, can imagine everyone in the bunker crowded around the doorway, trying to see what’s happening. Kevin appears beside Charlie. “An ambulance from Smith County Memorial is 30 minutes away,” he says.

Dean catches Sam’s eyes. “Too slow."

“Yeah I’ll drive,” Sam agrees, taping off the bandage on Cas’s left arm.

They wrap him in a bathrobe and Sam lifts him up. Dean hovers in his wet pajamas, itching to carry his mate himself even though Sam’s stronger. It’s worse, being the one who isn’t bleeding. Cas reaches out towards him, eyes wide and pleading, and wriggles in Sam’s hold as they make their way upstairs.

In the backseat of the Impala Dean holds him, head lolling in his lap, his eyes flickering and rolling back in head, but always focusing back upon Dean. Kevin is up front with Sam and it's horribly reminiscent of the last time they took a midnight trip to the hospital. Cas is shivering, mumbling quietly in a broken mix of Enochian and English Dean can’t follow.

Streetlights whip past as Sam opens up on the highway. Dean glances out the window to see where they are and for a second he thinks he sees another face reflected behind his own. Dark hair and a pale pretty face. His head snaps around but the seat is empty of course.

“Not yet,” he hisses. “Don’t take him yet.” If Tessa really is there, she doesn’t answer or let herself be seen.

He shuts his eyes and presses his nose into his mate’s wet hair, inhaling his reassuring scent and willing him not to die. “Cas,” he says, so soft he’s not sure he can even hear. “Cas cas cas. Don’t go. Stay. Please.”

 


 

Sam and Kevin watch from uncomfortable plastic seats as Dean paces barefoot in his damp pajamas outside the room Cas is in.

After god knows how long, Kevin goes in search of coffee and it’s just Sam watching Dean fidget. Chew on his lips, bounce on his heels. “Why can’t they let me in?” he asks for probably the hundredth time. “It’s just stitches and a blood transfusion, not open heart surgery. And I’m his mate.” He pauses. “They should let me in.”

“They probably don’t want you upsetting him,” Sam says evenly.

Dean stops and glares at his brother. “Me upsetting him?

Sam crosses his arms. “Like you said, you’re his mate Dean. His omega mate. And you smell really distressed. I’m just your brother, not your mate, but it’s making my skin itch all the same.”

That explained why Dean had been forced to endure half a dozen crushing hugs from Sam over the last few hours.

“He’ll be okay Dean,” Sam continues, and Dean can tell he’s not just being reassuring, he really believes it. “If he made it here, he’ll be fine. Like you said, it’s just blood loss.”

Dean knows Sam is right, tries to take comfort in the logic of his brother’s words, but his mate tried to kill himself and he’d come so close and...

...And Sam’s right. Kevin returns with crappy vending machine coffee and half an hour later a nurse tells them Cas is stabilized and should be fine.

Dean’s legs go all weak in relief and he has to sit down.

 


 

Cas looks very small and very human tucked into a hospital bed.

They’ve sedated him, bandaged his fresh stitches and he’s asleep. Dean can’t hold his hand because there’s a pulse monitor clipped to a finger on his left and an IV taped across the back of his right. He keeps his fingers on Cas’s head instead, stroking his brow, brushing his hair back. Cas turns his face towards him slightly and Dean thinks maybe he’s aware of his presence.

He’s not sure how long he sits there beside his unconscious mate. The mixture of relief, anger and guilt swirling around inside him makes it impossible to think straight.

Cas tried to kill himself. Nearly succeeded.

Mostly Dean’s just relieved that he’s not dead, intensely relieved, because he's not sure he could mourn Castiel again, not like this. But he's also furious that Cas would take the coward’s way out, leave him to clean up after him. Alone. 

Again.

It’s tempting to cling to that anger, but Dean’s not an idiot, he can figure out why Cas did it, and that’s where guilt comes into it.

I don’t want to hurt you anymore.

Since becoming human Cas has learned the hard way exactly what he’s put Dean through over the last few years. The guilt and despair he’s felt over it has been obvious. Hell, Dean’s been vindictively enjoying it. He's not some saint able to just forgive and forget. Cas hurt him. In every way imaginable. Watching him feel a bit of that pain in return has been satisfying.

It’s faint under the sterilized hospital smell, and they’ve given him a hormone blocker to ease it, but the tempting scent of Cas’s fading rut is still there, layered under everything else. Cas clearly freaked out and decided this was his best option, since apparently he does love Dean... and that’s... Dean doesn’t know what to do with that, can’t wrap his head around it after so long being denied and starved for it... Cas didn’t want to subject him to the mating urges of an alpha. 

Since his one sexual experience with Dean was that traumatic heat in Purgatory, Dean shouldn’t be surprised he over-reacted. And given his history of self-flagellation, maybe he should have foreseen Cas taking drastic measures to avoid ‘hurting’ him... But he just never thought an angel would suicide. It’s one sin he’d never expect from Cas, fallen or not.

Dean’s been in some low, low places and he’s never considered it, not really. The occasional idle, desperate daydream maybe, a desire to just end it, but nothing more. Once you know what’s on the cards – Heaven or Hell, not oblivion - it takes a lot to make damning yourself to the pit seem like the soft option. Cas has seen hell first hand and he knows the rules. He knew that he was buying himself a ticket down there and what was in store for him.

And Jesus Christ – what would they even do to a fallen angel down in Hell?? Getting their hands on Castiel would be a demon’s wet dream. A free for all. Alistair’s most twisted tortures would probably pale in comparison to what they’d do with an angel on the rack. Especially Dean Winchester’s angel. The one that helped lock Lucifer back up. It makes bile rise in Dean’s throat to think about it.

He shoves memories of Hell away and stares at Cas’s sleeping face instead. Cas is alive, he’s not in Hell, it’s stupid to agonize over something that didn’t happen. It’s not all that reassuring however. Cas doesn’t look particularly peaceful, he looks sick, pale and fragile, although he does perhaps look a little younger. The cares and worries have been smoothed off his brow. But that’s just the drugs.

Cas must have sat there in the bath and sliced into his arms thinking that he deserved an eternity in hell.

 


 

They take Cas home as soon as they can, before the dodgy insurance info they’re using can get flagged. The Doctors say that he’ll be fine.

But he isn’t fine of course, because they aren’t fine. They’re both miserable.

Dean can’t bear the thought of losing him, but at the same time he doesn’t think anything’s really changed. Cas is sorry. Cas loves him. Cas is willing to damn himself to Hell in some ridiculously misguided attempt to spare Dean further suffering.

In the light of all that, Dean feels like he’s being unreasonable, that he should cut him some slack, but he’s still angry and it still hurts and he doesn’t know how to stop.

 


 

Cas stays in bed for two days. Dean restrains the urge to check on him, instead hovering and making sure he gets taken decent meals. The memory of how thin he’d looked, of those angry red scars etched into his back, upsets him.

The day Cas leaves his room, Dean subtly tracks his movements before cornering him late at night in the kitchen. There are ugly lines of black sutures marching up his arms, but Cas doesn’t seem to give a fuck. He’s made no effort to hide or cover them up. Dean wishes he would, he feels vaguely nauseous every time he catches sight of them, remembers how they’d looked weeping red between his fingers, the smell of Cas’s blood.

When Dean enters the room Cas freezes, a teabag dangling from one hand.

“Cas,” Dean says.

His mate just stares, like he’s afraid to move or make a sound.

Dean takes a breath and steps into his space. “You said you didn’t want to hurt me anymore.” he murmurs, not entirely sure Cas remembers his bathtub declarations of love and confessions of guilt. “That’s why you...?”  He gestures at Cas’s arms since he can’t quite get the right words out.

Cas gives a tiny nod, eyes huge. He doesn’t appear to be breathing.

“Okay good,” Dean says. “So don’t... do that again. Cause that will. Hurt me. A lot.”

Cas flinches like he’s been struck. Looks down at his feet. “I won’t,” he says quietly.

Dean clears his throat, nods. “Good.”

 


 

Kevin translates more and more of the angel tablet. Some of it’s useful – sigils to bind angels to their vessels or bar them from one permanently, (and where the hell was that little tidbit four years ago?), spells to infuse angelic grace into weapons and other objects, and half a dozen ways to kill or maim an angel, but the counter to the ritual Metatron used remains elusive.

His progress seems to encourage the angels though. Every time Kevin puzzles out some new spell or sigil, they perk up noticeably.

Crowley remains a permanent guest in the dungeon, worked over occasionally for intel, but for the most part Dean and everyone else are kept busy by the ever increasing clashes between angels and demons occurring all over.

Abaddon’s somehow managed to stitch herself back together again and seems hellbent on crowning herself Queen of Hell and bringing the party topside. She’s nothing like Crowley. She doesn’t care about souls or deals, she wants war. Wants to bring hell to earth. In the context of all that’s going on, the tension between Dean and his mate seems petty.

They have a sort of understanding. They are not friends, but Dean doesn’t completely ignore Cas anymore. Their interactions are purely ‘work’ related, but they do speak. Sometimes.

And if Dean makes sure Cas eats proper meals and sits in the armchair he favors in the library, the one that smells faintly like him, no one says anything.

 


 

Demons come for Crowley.

They use double agent angels to get through the bunker’s defenses. The alarm is thrown quickly, the wards re-established and only half a dozen or so make it inside, but they’re determined. Dean and Cas end up chasing a few into the storeroom the dungeon is hidden within while Sam, Kevin and the angels currently hanging around split up to take care of the others.

Dean happens to look over and see Cas decapitate one demon whilst simultaneously exorcising another with a few clipped Enochian prayers, and at that inopportune moment, realizes looking at Cas doesn’t make him feel angry anymore.

Cas glances back at him and yells. “Dean! Duck!”

He does so automatically and the knife that Cas sends flying over his shoulder connects with something with a meaty thump and a sizzle. Cas is 100% human, can’t manifest his sword, wings or anything angelic anymore, but when Metaron stole his grace and cast him down from heaven his blade was already in his palm. Like the blades of dead angels, Castiel’s has retained its smitey demon and angel zapping abilities, even if Cas himself hasn’t. The demon behind Dean twitches and dies with the silver hilt protruding from his left eye socket.

Dean scans the room, but the storeroom they were clearing is now empty save themselves and three dead meatsuits. He yanks Cas’s silver blade from the dead guy, taking a moment to admire his mate’s aim, and straightens up. Cas is staring at him. Normally Dean would frown and look away, but... he doesn’t want to this time.

Instead he walks towards him, steps over what looks like a headless biker and ends up standing right in front of Cas in a puddle of blood. Cas seems way more wide-eyed and freaked out by his proximity than he was by the demons trying to gut him. Dean takes in those blue eyes, flushed cheeks and the smear of blood across one cheek and wants to kiss him.

He swallows, licks his lips without thinking, and Cas sways a little on his feet like he’s hypnotized. His scent flares up, wary but thick with want and Dean inhales deeply as he lifts the blade to offer it back. Cas blushes and raises a hand to accept it but Dean doesn’t let go right away and for a moment they stand there, too close, the blade held between them, just staring at each other.

This is what passes for romantic to you two?”

The voice breaks whatever weird spell was holding them and Dean clears his throat and takes a step back.

Kevin is standing the doorway, a shotgun in hand and two angels behind him. “Staring into each other’s eyes in a room full of dismembered bodies?”

 


 

Dean can feel Cas’s eyes on him. It’s like when he first arrived at the bunker, back when he wasn’t accustomed to wanting Dean like a human.

He’s glad he’s still wearing scent blockers, because otherwise he’s pretty sure everyone would know exactly what Cas’s renewed, cautious, attention is making him feel. He finds himself thinking back to that kiss, that wild hungry kiss they'd shared when he'd first arrived. Every time Dean catches a whiff of Cas's scent he's reminded of the way he tastes. He wants to drag him into his bedroom and never leave again. 

He doesn’t though. They mop up, dispose of the bodies, make sure there aren’t anymore ‘Team Abaddon’ fallen angels around and adjust the wards so they can’t be sabotaged again. For once Crowley is free and easy with information. It seems he’s not keen on Abaddon getting her hands on him.

Dean showers and goes to bed. He doesn’t do anything stupid like invite Cas along.

 


 

That night he dreams of Cas, except it’s not a nightmare.

It’s the old dream of the lake. They’re on the dock fishing. Cas is sitting at Dean’s feet, dressed in the sort of clothes he wears now instead of his old suit and trenchcoat, his jeans rolled up and his feet dangling in the water. They’re talking about something and drinking beer.

Since it’s a regular dream rather than an angelic visitation, when Dean wakes up he doesn’t remember any details, what they said to each other or anything, but he feels a lingering sense of peace. It was a nice dream.

Chapter Text

Sam is off with Charlie looking into something Garth found over in New York. It sounded complicated and boring and involves possessed stockbrokers. Since it turns out Crowley – King of Hell and now ‘Demon with a Soul’ – can be used to all kinds of fucked up rituals, Dean stays behind to guard the fort in case Abaddon makes another run at them. And man the phones. The bunker has become some sort of hunter HQ since heaven crash landed on Earth.

This means he, Cas, the Trans and a couple of fallen angels named Zuriel and... Farazed or Farazeal or something, are currently the only people around. Compared to how it’s been over the last six months, it feels almost abandoned. Dean can’t decide if the quiet is nice or boring.

He spends most of his time fielding calls from hunters with angel related issues as he continues to chip away at the mountain of supernatural crap stockpiled in the various storerooms. Charlie’s mid-way through setting up a catalogue for everything on computer, but she’s not experienced enough for the hands on side of things. Dean, Sam, Garth and Cas take turns sorting through boxes of cursed items and pagan relics since they are less likely to accidently release some ancient hoodoo. Some of the stuff is interesting - big old swords and shrunken heads and stuff, but mostly it’s musty old books and ugly little charms. Dean finds himself people/angel watching as much as actually working.

Mrs Tran takes over the corner of the library with the new TV to catch up on her soap operas. Zuriel and Fara-whatever join her, (Angels seem to have terrible taste in well, everything), Kevin is on his laptop helping Charlie and Sam in between bouts of frowning at the Angel Tablet, and Cas, well as far as Dean can tell he spends his days quietly sorting through storage boxes and his evenings working his way through the most depressing books in the small selection of fiction circa 1950 that's stashed in one corner of the library.

Dean sees him with Anna Karenina, (which Dean hasn’t actually read because it’s a million pages long and Russian, but he caught bits of a movie version on basic cable once, and he’s pretty sure it involves people throwing themselves in front of trains) and The Grapes of Wrath and The Lord of the Flies, both of which he had to read in various high school English classes.  He’s not sure what Cas’s choice of reading material says about him, but it makes him uneasy. He’d feel better if Cas would pick up one of the old detective novels someone in the Men of Letters seemed to have enjoyed a lot. Or just stick to something mundane like a nice satanic Grimoire.

 


 

It takes a few days for Dean to realise he’s devoting as much energy to subtly stalking Cas as actually doing any work, but he can’t seem to help himself. He’s always aware of Cas, they’re mated. It’s something he’s been ignoring for months, the way he can tell exactly what mood Cas is in from the tiniest changes in his scent and that he always just... knows exactly where he is. Sometimes he reads in the library or the war room, but mostly he seems to find the most unlikely places to hole up and read his terrible books every night and Dean can't quite relax unless he knows where exactly.

More than once he finds himself thinking about approaching Cas, but he’s not sure why he wants to. To talk to him? Act like the last year and half never happened? Or maybe yell at him? Hit him? There’s an itch under his skin. It’s uncomfortable, not knowing where they stand. The tension between them is like a headache that never eases. He just wants things... sorted. Then he could relax. Maybe.

 


 

Dean’s in the kitchen grabbing a late night coffee when he hears a quiet noise. Kevin’s pulling his hair out over the tablet, but he’d thought everyone else was asleep. Peering through the war room he sees Cas sitting half-way up the staircase with a book on his knees. Before he realises what he’s doing, Dean’s walked over to the foot of the stairs, empty coffee cup still in hand.

Cas looks up from his book, (a thick, dusty looking thing written by some dead German), and meets Dean’s eyes expectantly. Dean swallows, his throat suddenly dry. He walked over here purposely enough, but now that Cas is looking at him expectantly, waiting for him to speak, he... doesn’t actually know what he wants to say. For a long moment they just look at each other, Cas eerily still, Dean twitchy, and then Dean’s half-way across the bunker, practically running towards his room, empty coffee cup still clutched in his hand.

His heart is racing as he barricades himself in his room, an awful panicky anxiety twitching under his skin. He leans against the door and squeezes his eyes shut. "Fuck." 

He doesn't know what he's doing.

 


 

Sam wakes him up with a call at a really unsociable hour apparently for no reason other than he’s bored and Charlie’s asleep, (as any normal person would be at this time of the morning), and the gluten free pancakes at whatever wanky café in the East Village he's eating at are ‘seriously amazing Dean’.

Dean tells him where he can shove his hippy pancakes and hangs up on him.

His phone chirps.

Dean ignores it. Sam’s probably sending him artfully lit pictures of food.

He passes out for another couple of hours before dragging himself out of bed.

After his shower he finds himself staring at his deodorant and the scent-blocking cologne, frowning to himself. He picks up the deodorant, stares at the label close up for a minute, then puts it back down, leaving them both untouched. There’s some half-formed thought in the back of his mind, something he’s not ready to focus on yet.

Kevin’s at a desk in the library with his laptop and his mom and the angels are watching what Dean vaguely recognises as ‘Hot Law’ or whatever it’s called, the show with all the lawyers ‘objecting!’ to other and then making out in court house broom closets. Or something. It’s not as good as Dr Sexy.

Dean spends maybe twenty minutes listlessly going through the box of files he left half-sorted the day before and then he’s up and wandering.

He finds Cas, of all places, in the laundry. He’s sitting on a huge industrial dryer, apparently waiting on a load to finish. When Dean approaches him he looks up and does that staring thing again, waiting. Dean swallows. If he turns around and walks away, he knows Cas won’t follow him. Cas has been watching him since their weird moment after the demon attack, but that seems to be all he’s going to do.

There’s a message there.

If Dean wants something between them to change, he’s going to have to take it himself. There’s been no discussion of it, but it’s some unspoken truth between them. Cas is waiting for Dean to decide what he wants them to be. If he wants anything. And Dean thinks maybe he’s finally figured that out. He hasn’t forgiven Cas, but he... understands and he thinks maybe, some day, he might be able to. And, and what does he want? Really want?

The same things he’s always wanted. It hasn’t changed, despite everything. He wants Cas. Wants his mate to be his mate in more than just name. Wants them to be real. Maybe it won’t work. Maybe there’s too much crap to deal with, but there was a time Dean thought he’d never be able to forgive Sam, had told him point blank that if walked away he couldn't come back. The question is, can he forgive Cas like he did Sam? He's not sure, but it doesn't feel impossible anymore.

He just wants them to stop hurting each other. Instead of turning and running, Dean walks towards him.

Cas tilts his head to one side in surprise, places the receipt he’s been using as a bookmark between the pages of The Stranger and carefully puts his book down, giving Dean his full attention. His face is calm, but he’s nervous, tensed up like a dog expecting to be scolded. Dean straightens his shoulders.

“I wanna talk to you,” he blurts.

Cas nods. “Of course Dean.”

“I...” Dean bites his lip. He can’t figure out how to explain himself, how to get all the words out because it’s such a fucking mess. Cas frowns slightly, leaning a little closer like that will help him hear things Dean’s not saying. But Dean’s never been good with words and feelings and it seems nothing’s changed in that department. They stare at each other for a long tense moment, both fairly prickling with growing anxiety.

“Ah fuck it,” Dean mutters and gives up with the mature responsible approach. Three steps and he’s up in Cas’s space, watching his eyes widen in shock and then he’s got his hands on him and he’s kissing him. It’s a tiny thing, just a brief, uncertain, press of lips before he draws away. He waits for a beat, a moment that drags out expectantly, but the old bitterness and anger doesn’t raise its head. All he’s feeling is a sort of tingling where his lips touched Cas’s and something that might be relief. So he kisses Cas again. Properly this time.

Cas’s lips are soft, but the rest of him is frozen, confused and disbelieving.

Dean pulls back, meets wide eyes and says “Cas,” and that’s all it takes.

Cas all but melts into him, warm and kissing him back soft and sweet, wrapping his arms around him tentatively, like he’s not sure what he’s allowed. And it’s nice. More than nice. It feels right and good everything else it should. It’s nothing like that first kiss when Cas appeared at the bunker, all want and need and an alpha’s lust. Cas’s scent deepens and flares, but warmer, feels safe and thick, like a hug. Smells like mate. Smells like home. Something eases deep inside and Dean feels like he can breathe for the first time in months. Years.

He’s happy he thinks, or maybe not happy, but relieved, so relieved, because maybe he can have this, despite everything.

Cas sighs, pulls Dean into a tight embrace, clinging now, like he’s afraid Dean will run again. He feels the exact moment Cas notices, the huffed inhale before he stiffens and pulls away, eyes blown wide and face gone slack.

“Dean,” he says, shocked, then “Dean Dean Dean,” all longing. He grips Dean’s short hair, still damp from the shower, and Dean lets him pull him back, stretch the line of his neck out. Cas buries his face against his skin, scenting him, trailing a line from his shoulder to his jaw then back to his mouth. It’s not nearly so soft and gentle anymore, rather it’s deep and insistent, like Cas is trying to taste as much of Dean as possible.

Dean groans, then Cas groans, or maybe it’s the other way round, but at any rate their kisses turn frantic and they end up pressed tightly against one another, breathless, the air between them growing heavy with the scent of arousal. “Dean. You smell so good,” Cas groans. He sounds drunk. “You smell like... like you.

Dean just hums in vague agreement his and tugs Cas’s mouth back to his. His alpha tastes like fucking heaven. Like everything Dean’s ever wanted. He wants to get lost in there. Forget everything. Cas seems to share his enthusiasm and the next few minutes pass in a delicious blur of warm tongues and mutual groping.

Cas pulls at Dean’s hips, hooks a leg around him and hauls him closer, nothing hesitant about him at all anymore, and slips a warm hand down the back of his pants, gripping his ass to haul him closer. It's nothing like a heat, but all the kissing, having his alpha warm and eager in his arms, has left Dean... wet.The noise Cas makes when his fingers encounter the warmth of his slick is positively pornographic.  “Dean, Dean I want - can I...? I want you.”

Dean freezes, pulls back a little, panic clearing his thoughts from the haze they’d sunk into. He hadn’t thought beyond this - seeing if they could still work. It looks like they can, but he isn’t sure he wants that.

Cas responds to the change immediately, hands turning soft, loosening and wary. “No,” he says quickly. “We don’t have to...” He sounds embarrassed and it occurs to Dean that Cas might find the idea of sex just as overwhelming as him, albeit for completely different reasons.  “I just want to be near you,” he admits softly, hands soothing circles onto Dean’s back. “Close. Kiss you. Hold you.”

It’s possible the girliest thing anyone has ever said to Dean, certainly the worst pick up line, and he can’t believe he wants kissing and cuddles over sex, but he does, he really does. “Yeah,” he says, kisses Cas briefly. “Yeah come on.”

 


 

Cas fits in Dean’s bed like he was meant to be there and Dean supposes in a way that’s true.

They kiss and kiss. Kiss until their lips are chapped and swollen and it hurts to kiss anymore. Cas grows bolder, though not with wandering hands but with words, like a chatty drunk. He calls Dean his beloved. Tells him he loves him. Promises to be the best mate to him. To never hurt him. Never leave him. 

There’s nothing but truth and devotion in his eyes and not a note of deceit in his scent. Dean feels a wave of vertigo at the realisation that he believes him. He shouldn’t – trusting Cas is filed in his brain under ‘Incredibly Stupid’, but he can’t help it. He can and he does. He forgets about Abaddon, the King of Hell downstairs, the fallen angels spread across the globe. His mate is holding him and kissing him. His mate loves him.

Chapter Text

Dean sleeps long and deep and easy. There are no nightmares and his bed is warm and soft and he’s surrounded in a little cocoon that feels like home.

When he wakes mid-morning there’s an instant where he thinks he’s dreaming, but then Cas shifts, his breath tickling the back of Dean’s neck and the last dregs of sleep are washed away leaving everything real and solid.

Cas is curled up behind him, an arm wrapped around his chest and a leg warm between his thighs. Their scents have mingled in the night and when Dean inhales, the mix of DeanandCas that fills his lungs smells like the best thing ever. Mate and home and safe.

He shuffles, rolling onto his back so he can face his mate. The movement draws an annoyed huff out of him and Cas burrows closer, shoving his head into the warm spot between Dean’s neck and shoulder and fisting a hand in his shirt.

Dean looks down at Cas - the mess of dark hair and pale limbs clinging to him and his heart does an uneven two-step. He curls a hand over Cas’s shoulder, gently strokes along his side. Cas sighs, breath damp and hot against his neck, and shifts a little closer.

An awkward conversation and some kissing hasn’t magically fixed everything between them, but Dean doesn’t want to think about that right now. He turns his head so he can nuzzle and scent Cas’s spectacular bed-hair, then closes his eyes again.

 


 

No one comments upon the change in sleeping arrangements or that Cas and Dean are apparently no longer estranged, even though the change in their scents is obvious.

Well, Kevin sort of comments, in that when he approaches Dean and Cas, hair sticking up madly and a crazed glint in his eye to demand some clarification on an a bit of Enochian lore, he breaks off mid-sentence, frowns, scents the air obviously and then makes a face Dean interprets as ‘Whatever, Prophets don’t have time for this shit’ before plowing on with his angel tablet problem.

When Sam returns he watches Cas with something a little sharper and more suspicious than before, but beyond an awkward conversation offering to listen if Dean wants to talk, he doesn’t make mention of the fact that ‘Dean’s room’ has become ‘Dean and Cas’s room’. Or the fact that Dean’s stopped scent masking. Dean does notice his brother hovering a little closer for a few days though, scenting him when he thinks Dean’s not paying attention.

Dean ignores it. He knows what Sam’s doing – checking for signs of distress in his scent – and figures his brother’s inner alpha might need a little reassurance that Dean’s okay. And Sam sniffing the air when his back’s turned is a lot less embarrassing than having a long winded conversation about his twisted relationship with his mate.

 


 

Cas tries to tell him things sometimes, late at night when they are curled around each other in bed, and most of the time Dean doesn’t want to hear it. But he tries. He figures if Cas is making the effort to explain, to apologize, then he can at least listen, even if it does drag up painful things he’s trying to keep buried. Besides, he’s finally starting to think that Sam might have been right all along. Maybe talking about feelings is the best way to deal with them. Not that he’s ever going to admit that of course. But still, he can’t help but wish that they’d talked about all this crap years ago.

God knows if Dean had manned the fuck up and told Cas that they were mates back before the Apocalypse that wasn’t, who knows how much heartache he might have avoided? He doesn’t think Cas would have left him alone to slink back to Lisa. Or have made that deal with Crowley. They wouldn’t have had to deal with the Leviathans and Purgatory. Of course on the flipside Raphael probably would have just smited them all and rebooted the apocalypse, so it’s probably not worth angsting over might have beens.

Cas is currently telling him about Naomi and Dean’s trying to listen. “She made copies of you Dean,” he’s saying. “Made me kill you, over and over until I could to it without hesitation.” Cas sounds torn up and guilty.

Dean for his part feels a bit numb at hearing his mate was made to kill him repeatedly. He can’t quite wrap his head around it. It’s amazing that after all this time, angels still manage to surprise him with what fucking creepy dicks they can be. Naomi sounds as vindictive and cruel as Zachariah. Maybe worse. Colder. And with a brain drill. Jesus.

“And then you beat me up in the crypt?” he asks, because even though he’s trying to see this from Cas’s brainwashed perspective, he can’t help his resentment. He wraps a hand around his forearm, remembering how Cas snapped it like a matchstick...

“Yes,” Cas says, then swallows. The noise is loud in the quiet of their room. He has his head resting on Dean’s shoulder, hair long enough to tickle Dean’s cheek. He doesn’t offer any defence or further explanation, just slips into silence.

Dean’s been wondering for a while though, now even more since Cas was apparently programmed to kill him, “What stopped you?”

“I am not entirely sure,” Cas tells him after a length pause. “I think it was your soul.”

Dean frowns at the ceiling in confusion. “...My soul?

“Yes. The ‘Deans’ Naomi had me kill were empty dolls. They looked and sounded like you, but they did not have souls.”

“Huh.” Dean thinks he understands what Cas is getting at. He remembers Sam when he didn't have a soul. 

“I gripped your bare soul, held the immortal essence of your very being and pulled you from the pit Dean,” Cas tells him, voice solemn and old-school-angel-Castiel sounding. He slides a hand down over Dean’s sternum, rests it against the centre of his chest. “I know your soul well. And it is lovely. Righteous.” He pauses and lets out a little sigh. Dean can’t make out details in the dark, but Cas has lifted his head and is staring at him. Dean’s glad they aren’t having this conversation with the lights on. “And it knew me. You did not remember me or our flight across Hell, but your soul did. When I had my grace, I would feel it reaching out to me. Even as I prepared to kill you, your soul welcomed me, reached for me, rejoiced at my presence.” The fingers at his chest curl into a fist, press into his ribs. “That is what broke Noami's hold over me.”

They’re silent, Dean remembering how he’d wanted Cas to kill him in that moment and Cas wallowing in guilt, and neither of them sleeps for a long time.

 


 

Cas smells amazing.

That’s Dean’s first coherent thought.

It gets pretty cold in the bunker, what with it being a cave and all, so Dean and Cas tend to sleep pretty well entangled. This particular morning finds Dean lying half on top of Cas, head tucked against his neck. He’s warm and fuzzy, thoughts blurred and lulled with the smell of his mate.

His next thought is rather more complicated and has to do with the hot pulse of arousal pooling low in his abdomen – the throb of an erection and the warm slip of slick between his thighs, the hand curled over his hip and the fact that he’s lazily humping Cas’s thigh. He freezes and lifts his head, hoping Cas is asleep.

He’s not.

His cheeks are flushed and judging from how swollen his bottom lip is, he’s been biting it. Dean feels his dick give a throb of interest at the dishevelled look of him. Despite that, he’s just about to roll away and head to the bathroom when Cas says his name, “Dean.” And that deep rumble seems to have a direct line into Dean’s pants because instead of rolling away he’s rolling into Cas and then he can feel him, thick and hard against his thigh and Cas groans and then they’re kissing and the tedious, sleepy grip Dean had on his libido disintegrates completely.

He’d thought about it, how it might happen. He’d imagined something slow and probably a bit awkward since neither of them were experienced in this particular act save that awful heat in purgatory. It’s nothing like that at though, they kiss, something they are both amazing at after weeks of near constant practice, and then pajamas are shoved down and Dean’s straddling his mate, grinding against him and taking smug pleasure in the way Cas is twisting and moaning beneath him, his dick smearing wetly across his stomach.

Then he shifts and rocks and Cas is nudging up behind his balls, sliding between his asscheeks, hot and slippery in the wet mess back there. Dean makes a noise he doesn’t even recognize at the intense wave of heat and want the teasing press of Cas pulls out of him. He rolls his hips and Cas lifts off the bed, grinding into him desperately. A fresh pulse of slick spreads out warm and sugary sweet between them as his hole clenches, flexes, opens up and Dean think he might burst into flame. He’s not thinking anything at all as he reaches down and grabs hold of Cas’s dick, sits up, guides him to where he’s fucking aching and then slides down.

Cas’s back arches and his hands dig into Dean’s hips but Dean barely notices, he’s too enraptured by the hot stretch of his mate as he slowly takes him in, slides down in a long glorious aching throb until he’s as deep as he can get. “Fuck,” he pants, then sort of wails in a high pitched whine, “fuckfuckfuck...Caaaaas” because he can’t move, it’s too much and not enough and it hurts but it feels so good and all he manages is a sort of half-hearted grind before he’s falling forward and mashing his mouth into his mate’s.

Cas kisses him back hungry and messy, his hips shifting in little jerking movements that have sparks of heat shooting directly up Dean’s spine. It’s nothing like the last time. Cas’s hands are sliding up all over him, frantic, like he can’t bear not to touch him, and he’s kissing him like he can’t get enough of the taste of him. No one else has gotten this Dean thinks, Daphne didn’t get these touches, Meg didn’t get these kisses. This is just for him. His. This is his.

Dean,” Cas groans into his mouth, sounding shocked and almost pained. “Oh... Dean!”

Yes. His name on Cas’s lips, where it’s meant to be because Cas is his.

His mate jerks his hips up and Dean can feel every inch of him. It feels so different, so good to finally have his alpha where he belongs, thick and hot and deep inside him. “Cas,” he gasps. “Want you.” Leans back, bracing himself against Cas’s chest and swivels his hips, makes him moan. Makes hot pleasure twist deep in his guts. So so good. “Oh fuck. Want you to mate me. Wanna feel you, all of you.” His knot. The fattening swell of it is teasing him as he grinds and slides. That’s what he wants. He wants Cas to knot him, wants to feel it stretch him open, leave him aching. He wants it so bad the mere thought is making him pant and shiver in need, but no matter how much he wants it, he can’t quite make himself ask for it. Can’t be... that. An omega begging for a knot.

He doesn’t have to though.

“Anything,” Cas is saying, slurred and delirious. “Dean, anything you want.” Then he’s sitting up and Dean’s in his lap. Cas kisses him roughly and they’re moving together, frantic and pressed so close Cas’s bony hips are gonna leave bruises. Cas gasps, pulls his lips from Dean’s and he feels it, the swell and pulse as he comes, knot filling out, hot and hard. It presses into that spot inside him, insistent and firm, and Dean can feel the heat within him being pulled out thinner and thinner, something about to snap. His dick slides wets and aching between their stomachs, right on the edge as Dean's alpha knots him. Cas lets out a low noise, one Dean's never heard before and then his teeth are sharp at his neck, catching that sweet spot where his shoulder bends and biting down hard. The air's sucked out of Dean's lungs and his eyes water as the full extent of what’s happening suddenly crashes over him.

Cas is claiming him, tying them, mating them together the way he’s been craving for years.

Finally he thinks vaguely.

He can’t breathe, can only grasp at Cas desperately. It’s like he can feel every heartbeat, every pulse of blood in his veins, every drop of sweat on his skin - hyperaware and focused upon that burning heat where his mate is buried inside him. Cas is panting hot against his shoulder now, the faint scent of Dean's blood from his claiming bite sharp on his breath, moaning low and wrecked, mumbling Dean’s name as he spills himself. “Dean, my Dean, my beloved...” he’s saying, clutching at him like he’s trying to merge their bodies into a single entity.

And yes, Dean is Cas’s and Cas is Dean’s and he doesn’t realize he’s going to speak until it’s too late. “Love you,” he gasps, twisting a hand in Cas’s hair like it can anchor him. “Fuck... Tried so hard not to, but I do.” And he can’t stop, it’s like water pouring out of him, a wound finally cleaned after festering for years. His eyes are stinging with tears because even though this is good, all he could ever want, it hurts to finally get it and his voice is low and breaking. “Cas. Cas. love you, love you so much-”

Cas takes his face in his hands and kisses him, and Dean’s grateful because it means he stops talking and then it’s just pushed out of him, a crest to everything burning up inside him, a deep slow orgasm that leaves him whimpering and shaking with relief. His body tenses, clamps around Cas’s like a vice and his mate groans out his name and holds him in a crushing grip, trying to embed himself even deeper into his body as another pulse of come is milked out of him.

Cas falls back, limp and boneless, and Dean follows, sprawled over him in a sweaty, satisfied and somewhat shocked mess. Between his thighs his mate’s knot fills him in a burning stretch and even the slightest movement sends a spark of sensation running through him. He feels raw and twisted inside out, but also whole and complete in a way he can’t remember ever feeling before. Cas is watching him with wide amazed eyes, and Dean lets himself think, for maybe the first time, that he loves Castiel’s blueblueblue eyes.

“Cas,” he says... and that’s, that’s really all he has right now.

Cas smiles at him, every inch the sleepy stated alpha, and turns his face so he can press kisses to the arm Dean’s bracing himself on. His mate’s contentment and... love is practically palpable. Even if he hadn’t said it, Dean would know.

Dean realises what they just did wasn’t fucking, it was making love.

The realisation makes him blush and he curls in on Cas so his mate won’t see his stupid girly smile.

Chapter Text

“If I’d known Dean,” Cas says and Dean tenses, not wanting confessions to ruin the peace of the moment. “If I’d understood what it was I felt for you when I was falling, I wouldn’t have returned to Heaven.”

Dean blinks, can’t help but ask “Really? Even after your dad brought you back new and improved?”

Cas raises his head, looks down at Dean with solemn eyes. “Yes.” He presses a hand to the unblemished skin of Dean’s arm where his long vanished mark used to lay. After a moment he drags his fingers up over Dean's shoulder and across to the fresh claim left bitten into his neck.

Dean swallows, asks the question he should have before he kissed Cas and let him into his bed and his heart but couldn’t bear to. “And if we get your grace back from Metatron?”

Cas shrugs carelessly. “My place is here. With you.”

Dean lifts a hand, curls it around Cas’s cheek. “You’ll stay?” He hates how small his voice sounds. Weak. Vulnerable.

Cas nods, leans forward and presses a gentle kiss to Dean’s upturned mouth. He murmurs something in Enochian that sounds like a blessing or a prayer. “I won’t leave you again Dean.”

Dean wants so hard to believe him, but he can’t quite let himself.

 


 

Given free range, Cas seems eager to make up for lost time. He barely leaves Dean’s side, says the most mortifyingly romantic things to him, loudly, in public, and all it takes is Dean looking at him for a moment too long and he’s all over him.

Dean hasn’t had so much sex, in, well, ever. After weeks of lying chastely side by side in bed, it’s like a dam’s been broken and they can’t control themselves. He and Cas quickly graduate from amateur lovemaking to enthusiastic fucking and Dean’s a little shocked at how easily he adapts. How much he fucking loves Cas fucking him, despite years of only really wanting girls. It’s so... different. And not just the actual mechanics of the act, but the mood. Dean doesn’t have to be gentle, he can be as rough as he likes with Cas and his alpha loves it. Loves him.

They do it so much that omega or not, he’s constantly a little sore and his underwear is damp with slick or come no matter how often he showers. It should be disgusting, but the way a little bit of his mate’s come will seep out of him even when they’re apart actually turns him on all over again. He can’t imagine how bad it would be during a heat or rut. He’s glad they don’t have to worry about either for a while. At the rate they’re going he’s concerned they’d fuck each other to death. What a way to go though.

Sam smirks and gives him shit constantly, but every now and then sends him sappy misty-eyed looks more suited to a viewing of the Princess Bride than watching Dean and Cas do something like, make toast. Mrs Tran finally warms up to Cas, in a vaguely mortifying way that implies her approval is based purely on him ‘doing right’ by Dean. Charlie throws herself into providing Cas a pop culture education and Dean gets the sense that she was holding back on developing a friendship with him, despite liking the angel, for Dean’s sake. Kevin’s still unhinged and focused upon the Angel Tablet and couldn’t care less about who’s sleeping with who. Everyone else just seems relieved that the tension between them has been resolved.

Of course now that he’s very publicly mated to an alpha fallen angel, the hunting community at large finally figure out that he’s an omega. Dean wants to think it’s because he’s older and wiser not just because he’s mated, but the prospect of being outed as a ‘bitch’, his life-long fear, doesn’t scare him like it used to.

Reactions are... funny actually. Dean doesn’t feel threatened - he’s not a scared teenager anymore. And even Sam seems to agree that the way the mostly alpha hunters react to learning that the infamous badass been-to-hell-and-back Dean Winchester is an omega is kinda hilarious. There are plenty of visitors and drop-ins to the bunker as hunters continue to organise the whole fallen angel/word of god/Abaddon situation, and the way they just stare in shock is immensely satisfying.

Dean knows he’s not universally loved and revered or anything, but he’s respected by and large. Not many hunters last as long as he and Sam have and John was one of the best of his generation. The Winchesters have a reputation as tough motherfuckers. You don’t kill a Winchester, it just pisses them off. Just ask Walt and Roy, not that you’ll find them.

Watching expressions of wary awe and respect turn into ones of shock and horror when hunters notice that the great Dean Winchester smells like the freshly fucked omega he inevitably is these days, never fails to amuse him.

Sam tells him he’s forcing bigots to reassess ingrained gender discrimination.

Dean just thinks it’s funny.

 


 

Everything between Castiel and Dean isn’t all sunshine and rainbows though, Dean’s got questions, and he knows eventually they’re going to have to talk about it – no, Mary, she had a name - but he’s not ready for that yet. He wants to enjoy what they have for as long as possible, because that spector could ruin them.

Cas seems to understand, or maybe Sam or Charlie or someone coached him not push it, because he carefully avoids mentioning anything relating to her. He does ask about purgatory though.

“If I'm your mate, why were you so distraught during your heat?” Cas asks him late at night during that period before sleep that has become some sort of unofficial deep and meaningful discussion time and amateur couple’s therapy hour for them.

Dean sighs. It’s not an experience he wants to relieve or think about, but he makes himself reply. “I was in heat and you didn’t want me Cas,” he says, hoping that they can leave it at that.

Cas frowns and Dean can see he doesn’t really get it.

“You know how humans feel about their mates now Cas, imagine if you were in your rut and I was an angel. If I didn’t want you like that. If I didn't even notice.”

“Oh,” Cas says softly. “Oh.” Suddenly he is gripping Dean tight, leaning over him to stare down directly at him, eyes wide in the dark. "I did want you," he says. "Your heat and scent did not affect my vessel then as it does now, but I have long thought you beautiful. Angels are not meant to want in that way, but there were times when I looked at you and desired you despite that." He presses his fingers to Dean's lips. "I often wondered what a kiss from you would feel like. I remembered the ecstasy of the touch your soul on my grace and thought of joining our bodies."

Dean just stares in shock.

"Had you asked me," he says. "Had I thought you desired me in such a way I would have gladly been your lover Dean."

"You... you would have?" Dean asks in confusion. 

"I did not understand my love for you Dean, it is a hard thing, for an angel to love a human, but I have always wanted to be close to you. To share my love for you in whatever form you would let me." He purses his lips at Dean's no doubt dumbfounded expression. “You know how much I want you don’t you?” he asks. “Because I do. I love and desire you in every way.” 

Dean blinks up at him and the earnest worry on Cas’s face softens that old bitter sting of rejection. “Yeah Cas,” he says and leans up a little to press a soft kiss to his mate’s lips. “I know.”

Cas hesitates for a moment, frowning a little as if deciding if Dean if telling the truth, then gives a little nod and kisses him back. “Good." After a while he whispers against Dean lips, soft like he's telling him a secret. "It is selfish, but I would not change it, even if I could. When Metatron took my grace he freed me. He gave me you."

Dean twists his fingers in his hair and kisses him hard.

 


 

Sometimes Dean can’t be around Cas, keeps thinking dark thoughts and needs a break. When that happens he takes Sam and heads out on a hunt. Nothing gets him out of a funk like killing something, and spending a few days or weeks away from Castiel tends to remind him to be grateful for what he does have rather than what he’s lost.

There’s a lot of unresolved crap between them, years of it in fact, so much Dean’s not sure they’ll ever really sort it out, but Cas loves him. Dean knows that much for certain, and despite everything, Dean still loves him back. And that’s enough to be going on with.

He doesn’t delude himself that this is a happily ever after, he’s still a Winchester, still cursed, so he sincerely doubts he and his mate will live long enough to go grey and have grandkids or whatever, but... Cas looks at him like he’s everything he’ll ever want, ever need, and every morning Dean wakes up to sleepy blue eyes and kisses and really, it’s so much more than he ever thought he’d get.

Sometimes, he’s the happiest he’s ever been.

Chapter Text

It works.

Sam, Kevin and Garth are grinning and congratulating each other with awkward hugs, the remains of the last ritual to reopen heaven a smoking mess on the church altar in front of them. Around them the angels are smiling and there’s a noise like sheets snapping in the wind as they flutter away back to heaven. A few even leave their shell-shocked vessels, clearly never intending to return.

Metatron’s laying on the floor, ashy wings stretched out on either side.

Dean spares a single glance for the angel, reassures himself he’s really dead, then looks to Cas, makes sure he’s alright.

Cas is staring at the little glass vial he’s holding with an odd expression on his face. It’s glowing with a silvery light.

Dean’s stomach drops. He knows exactly what it is. He’s not sure why, maybe it’s like Cas said, his soul knows Castiel’s grace, recognises it.

His feet are glued to the ground and he’s powerless to do anything except stare at Cas, waiting, dread a heavy stone in his stomach. He can see it unfolding in his mind, Cas opening the vial, tipping it down his throat like Anna years before, blinding white light turning him back into Castiel, Angel of The Lord. Someone who doesn’t quite understand humans. Someone who belongs in heaven not on Earth at Dean's side.

Cas tilts his head, narrows his eyes as he studies his grace. After a minute he looks up and meets Dean’s gaze. Dean can’t read his expression, doesn’t know what he’s thinking. He can’t breathe.

No he’s thinking. No no no. Not again.

“Dean,” Cas says, and tosses the glowing vial to him. Dean catches it automatically. Blinks in shock. Cas is looking at him very intently. “Look after this for me please.”

Dean stares at the light in his hand. It’s warm, pulsing. Like starlight in a bottle. The immortal grace of an angel. Castiel. The closest thing he has to a soul. When he looks back up his mate is standing right in front of him. “Cas?”

He smiles, blue eyes bright with love and happiness and other human emotions an angel would never really understand. “When I return to Heaven, it will be with you,” he says and takes Dean’s hand in his, curling Dean's fingers around his grace.

“So you must keep this safe for me until then.”

 

 

Chapter Text


 

They’ve spoken of it, briefly, awkwardly, (Dean remains uncomfortable discussing such matters, years of conditioning leaving him uncomfortable in his own skin), but Castiel has not allowed himself to dwell upon the thought.

Since his fall he has found far more peace, joy and purpose in his human life with Dean than he had ever hoped. Without his grace his memories of his existence as an angel are muted - softened and dulled. A human mind simply cannot contain all the knowledge of an immortal being. But he is certain he has not felt such contentment since the Earth was new, back when his Father still walked amongst the host.

To want more seems almost an insult to that, to this second, (or perhaps third or fourth?), chance at life.

So he does not think of it.

Instead he fills the corners of his whirring human mind - a tiny space that somehow manages to feel almost limitless - with Dean and mate and lore and hunts and books and television shows and all the other fascinating minutiae of his new life.

So he misses the first few signs, though in hindsight they are obvious.

As it is Castiel returns from a hunt, (a werewolf in Ohio that Garth required backup on), and is caught completely off guard, entirely dumbstruck, at what awaits him in the room he shares with Dean.

He shoulders open their door, duffle dangling from his fingers, ready to dump his belongs, pull off clothes and spend a while under the Bunker’s superior water pressure. Instead he finds himself jerking like a marionette as every muscle in his body twitches and a wave of something burns through him.

When Castiel had first beheld Dean as a mortal man instead of an angel wearing one, it had been his scent that had most affected him. It is only vaguely that he recalls the rest of that meeting - the lines of Dean’s lovely body, the shape of his face, the soft green of his eyes - the thing that stands out in that memory is how Dean’s scent had moved him. His first breath of Dean had been a revelation, had made everything - Metatron, his fallen brothers and sisters, his lost grace, his Father’s abandonment, years of betrayals and endless war – seem trivial. All he had cared about, wanted with a savage possessive desire, was Dean.

Always tempting, the scent of his mate is overwhelming in its intensity, saturating the air in the room. Castiel breathes deep and tastes Dean in the back of his throat, savors it. It remains the sweetest, most intoxicating thing he has encountered since his Fall. Dean Winchester smells like things Castiel cannot even describe. It is familiar, fresh and sweet, something he recognizes but can’t quite remember to give a name to. Sometimes he thinks his mate smells like The Garden, like the golden fruit that hangs lush on vine and bough, like the fragrant scent of flowers and dew that perfume the verdant heart of Heaven.

Castiel has spent endless hours kissing and licking that scent off Dean’s skin, reveling in it, but what he smells now is so much more he cannot quite believe it. The scent wrapping around him is Dean magnified and intensified a hundred fold. A thousand. Castiel breathes it in and it sinks into every pore of his being leaving him aching with want in a way that would scare him if he were able to think straight.

His duffle hits the floor with a muffled thump.

Dean, Dean who is laying on his side in their bed, nude body picked out in the soft golden light and shadow thrown from the doorway, stretches and looks over his shoulder at the noise. His eyes widen and flash as they meet Castiel’s and lock them in place. Castiel cannot look away, is struck down, powerless. Dean rolls over onto his back and Castiel’s eyes slide over the revealed flesh covetously. His beloved’s skin is flushed and damp with heat-sweet sweat. His cock is curled up against his stomach, thick and hard, the lush jut of it drawing Castiel's eye. The sheets are rucked up beneath him where he's twisting his fingers in them and his face, oh his face. Dean is looking at Castiel with an intense riot of emotions etched across that beautiful canvas.

There is lust and longing, plain as day and a sliver of that smug pride Castiel finds so endearing in his mate, but beneath that, there is a hint of fear and trepidation. It is the last more than anything that has Castiel slamming the door shut and crossing the room to get his hands and lips upon his beloved. The vial Dean wears around his neck, it’s soft silver glow the only light in the dark of their room, is proof that Dean has no more to fear from Castiel, but still there is a wariness to him.

Castiel knows he deserves it, the agonies he has caused his mate weight heavily upon him. He does not think he will ever forgive himself, so the fact that Dean cannot completely forget, cannot unlearn years of instinctual self-preservation, does not surprise him. Though it does make him ache in guilt and sorrow. He will never leave Dean, will spend the entirety of this lifetime and whatever follows being everything to his mate that he can. Dean knows this, Castiel has told him, shown him in every way he can think of, but after years of being hit, Castiel is not sure Dean will ever stop flinching.

Despite that underlying wariness, Dean reaches for him, hands clawed and greedy, the moment Castiel is within reach. He manages to shed his jacket, to toe off his boots, but then Dean is kissing him and Castiel gives up, lets his mate yank him down to sprawl in the sheets with him. Dean’s legs wrap around his hips in wanton invitation and he moans into Castiel’s mouth. A fresh wave of his omega’s scent wafts up, sweet and rich, and Castiel knows it is his mate’s arousal he’s smelling, that Dean is wet for him. He slides a hand up a thigh and finds Dean’s skin slippery and slick with it.  He shivers at the touch, his hips jerking eagerly. Castiel gives no thought to teasing or tempting, just reaches behind Dean’s flushed erection and sinks a finger into him. His mate is so wet that there’s an obscene squelching noise as Castiel breaches him.

Dean lets out a keening noise, one of those glorious secret sounds that he only ever makes for Castiel, and his body arches off the bed, head stretching back as his hips grind up against Castiel.

“Dean,” Castiel says, barely recognizing his own voice. “You’re in heat.”

Dean groans and looks up at him through his eyelashes. He’s panting and the sight of him, achingly lovely in his desire - so lovely - all that want and lust directed squarely at Castiel, seems like too much. Castiel cannot believe that all this, that Dean, is for him. Is his. How could he possible deserve such devotion?

“Cas. Cas,” Dean begs, voice slurred.

Even in the dark Castiel can see how blown his eyes are, how fogged his expression is, the way he is shaking minutely, shivering. He wonders, suddenly worried, how long Dean has been like this, why he did not call. He wants to ask, but Dean is pulling at his hair, kissing him sloppily, whining needily into his mouth as he twists and grinds their bodies together. One finger becomes two and Dean shudders, his body fluttering there, a tempting mix of soft and wet and clenching heat.Cas,” he says again, low and broken. He presses his need, his heat into Castiel along with his kisses and all thoughts beyond Dean fall away.

His fingers are numb and awkward as Castiel pulls at his belt, his jeans, his shorts. Dean writhes beneath him, everything coming out of his mouth utter nonsense save Castiel’s name repeated over and over again. The sound his love makes when Castiel presses inside, his body bowing to accept him, the way his scent blooms and his eyelids flutter in ecstasy, is too much and Castiel is undone. A few jerking movements and he feels the hot ache of his body as it swells, tying him to his mate, and then he's emptying himself into Dean's writhing body in a blissful throb that has him crying out. Dean, strung out on what could be hours or days of unfulfilled need, digs fingers into Castiel and freezes up, his entire body stiff and stretched save where he clenches tight and hot around Castiel's knot. A shuddering breath and then he spills, his cock pulsing where it’s pressed against Castiel’s stomach.  

A moment later Dean crumples, goes all soft and boneless, and sinks into the mattress.

Castiel lets him pull him down, drapes himself over his mate as gentling waves of pleasure are milked out of him by the perfect cradle of his body. There is no word for how Castiel feels when he is tied to Dean in this way. It is contentment and love, his mate held close and safe in his arms, but also something darker. Possessive. When Castiel has Dean like this, beneath him, full of him, tied to him, he is undeniably his. There is bone-deep satisfaction in that.

Dean murmurs something, some wordless expression of satisfaction and relief, and Castiel mumbles his equally non-verbal agreement into the sweet smelling skin of his mate’s neck, nuzzling at the faded mark of his claiming bite.

The rest of the evening passes in a blur of increasingly sticky naps and bouts of lovemaking. When they lie together, Castiel knotted deep inside him, heat momentarily slaked, Dean talks, but when the waves of his need rise he becomes a wanton, insatiable, creature incapable of remembering more than Castiel’s name. The heat and want rolls off Dean and sinks its claws into Castiel stripping him of his reason as much as his mate. Dean goes pliant and soft, Castiel hard and demanding. Alpha and omega. Dean pulls and Castiel pushes and their bodies twist together in violent, rapturous harmony.

Some time before dawn Dean rolls onto his belly, cants his hips up like a primitive offering, and whines high and desperate. Castiel mounts him and takes him in rough strokes. Spurred on by the shameless noises his mate makes for him, drunk on the smell and taste of him. He holds him down, a hand tight at the back of his neck and another digging into his hip, and fucks him with savage abandon. Every mark he leaves on his mate’s body delights him. Red fingerprints on his thighs and hips, bruises sucked livid across his collarbone and down his back... seeing them bloom on Dean’s flushed skin makes something crow victoriously inside Castiel. Dean's heat awakens some restless want within Castiel and he's driven by it, relentless in his need to fill Dean, mark him, claim him over and over again. It is not until  Dean offers his neck, stretches his head back and lets him bite there, hard and deep, screaming his approval as Castiel tastes blood, that he truly feels satisfaction.

They sleep long and deep after that mating, and although Dean wakes Castiel by climbing atop him and taking him back into his body, his heat fades.

Chapter Text

Cas isn’t an angel anymore, so this time Dean is the first person to know. He’d suspected, but it seemed too easy given his age and his shitty luck in general that his mate would knock him up the first heat they shared. But the stick Dean pees on, and the next two, all beg to differ.

Dean swallows dryly, a mix of excitement and panic making him nauseous and unsteady. It’s absurd, but he’s finding the little plastic sticks kinda threatening. He’s spent the last few months, ever since he started seriously thinking about it, convincing himself that it probably wouldn’t happen, trying so hard not to get his hopes up, so now that it has, he’s… worried. Okay, scared.

It’s different, so different this time, he knows that... but something could happen. Go wrong.

And he doesn’t think he could handle losing another--

He swallows, closes his eyes for a moment. 

--That happening again.

He stares down at the test in his hand, the two little blue lines that mean ‘positive’ and that frightened, skeptical part of him holds its breath, waiting for the punchline, for the blues lines to dissolve into crosses or something. Unable to resist, he grabs the packaging and double checks the instructions again. Maybe he’s reading it wrong? Maybe he did something to mess up the results?

Dean pours over the little pamphlet, going over each step and reading the additional warning and disclaimers in tiny print, but he’s done everything right. He looks at the test again. It's real.

The hand he presses to his flat stomach shakes a little. There’s a weird dizzy feeling swooping through him and his heart is doing something really distracting in his chest. He takes a steadying breath, Chill out Winchester he tells himself, glad no one’s around to see his reaction.

It’s hard though. To chill out. Calm down.

Pregnant.

He’s pregnant. He leans against the counter and stares down at himself, pulls up his shirt so he can see the pale skin above the waistband of his faded jeans. He's felt this before, but even the second time around, it still doesn’t feel real. There’s a kid growing in there. Under his skin. He presses his fingers into the soft skin below his belly button. Somewhere under there, inside him, is a person. A son or a daughter.

His and Cas’s.

Panic and fear try to overwhelm him again, tell him this will end as badly as the last time, but he refuses to succumb to the freak out because it won’t end badly. Dean’s not going to let it. He deserves this and he’s going to get it. Nothing bad is going to happen to this child. It’s going to be different this time. For one thing, he’s not alone. Oh Sam and Mrs Tran are around, will be just as amazingly annoying as they were last time, but his mate is just a few rooms away from him, will be with him where he belongs. Will be worried and happy and normal and in a few months a father.

The thought is all kinds of bizarre. Cas will be someone’s father. It makes Dean smile, because Damn, he can’t imagine how weird it’s gonna be for their kid having Cas, fierce, strange, fallen-angel Castiel as a dad. Jesus. Just imagining some snot nosed kid calling him ‘dad’ is pretty hilarious.

That finally drives it home for Dean, makes it real. This is happening. They’re going to be parents. Dean and Cas plus baby.

A family.

There’s going to be a new branch on that withered thing that is the Winchester family tree.

Sam’s gonna be an uncle. A really insufferable one. He’ll probably try and slip wheatgrass into the kid’s formula or something.

Dean lets himself smile, tiny, to himself in the mirror. This isn’t a bad thing –-

“This is a good thing,” he tells himself quietly, trying to make himself believe it whole-heartedly.

 

 

Heaven is back to normal, but Abaddon is still kicking around and demonic activity is at its most problematic since Lucifer was dirtside. So the timing is hardly perfect, but Dean figures waiting for the ‘right time’ is more or less pointless. He’s a hunter - there isn’t going to be a 'right time' and he’s not getting any younger. It’s take what you can get, and he’s got a safe home and a mate so he’s way ahead of the curve really.

Tossing the stick into the trash, Dean turns his head to the side and scents himself. There’s no hint of that ‘pregnant omega’ happy-crack stink yet. He doesn’t smell pregnant. He smells like himself. Like an omega (Dean) mated to alpha (Castiel). Dean sniffs again and frowns a little. An omega who kinda needs a shower actually.

 


 

 

There’s no need for secrecy this time, but Dean’s weirdly nervous about saying anything. He’d snuck off to see an ob/gyn specializing in male omegas, just to find out if he even could have a kid, and while there hadn’t been anything actually wrong with Dean, the doctor he’d seen had been frank in saying it would probably be hard for him to carry a child to term. Male omegas just weren’t as fertile as their female counterparts and their chances of a successful pregnancy dropped off pretty dramatically after 30. Taking in the scars littering Dean’s body, he’d also added that any sort of physical trauma or stress would have to be avoided.

So on the one side Dean’s relieved and well, pretty ecstatic, that he’s pregnant, but he can’t help thinking that something terrible is going to happen, that he’s tempting fate. A part of him, a big part, wants to run out and find Cas wherever he’s holed up doing nerdy fallen-angel things and tell him, then find Sam and do the same, but he doesn’t, because he feels like that would be waving a red flag in front of Fate yelling ‘Here I am! Something good’s happened to Dean Winchester! Quick! Fuck it up for me!’

So in the end he keeps it to himself. It’s so early and he might lose it before his scent changes or he starts to show. The one thing that would make that worse would be everyone knowing and pitying him. Everyone knowing how much he wants this and seeing him fail.

He decides that he’ll wait, follow the guidelines the doctor have him to reduce strain during early pregnancy, be careful, eat right, do everything he can to help the baby hang on despite having the gross misfortune of calling Dean Winchester home, and keep it to himself for a little while. Just… a little while.

He not gonna lie though. He’s got no intention of outright deceit, so he doesn’t buy any scent blockers. Weeks pass, and if Sam or Cas notice that Dean’s handing off hunts and spending a lot of his time working on the database with Charlie or manning the phones with Kevin, well they don’t say anything.

Dean thinks maybe Castiel knows. Or knows something. Mates are attuned to that sort of thing. When they curl up in bed more often than not Cas ends up wrapped protectively around Dean, and sometimes he presses his palm low on Dean’s belly. It’s like some instinctual alpha part of him can tell even if the rest of him hasn’t quite caught on yet.

 


 

The pheromone changes kick in around week 8. There’s a brief lull in hunts nearby, so the permanent residents of the Bunker - Sam, Dean, Cas, Charlie and the Trans are around. Charlie has them marathoning season 3 of Game of Thrones and even Mrs Tran is pretty into it, much to Kevin’s mortification. Watching HBO programming – all those boobs – with your mom's probably not much fun.

He hasn’t read the books since he ‘lives under a rock’ as Sam puts it, so he’s spoiler free and the Red Wedding takes him completely by surprise. He watches Robb, (his favorite Stark, Jon can be a little whiny for his tastes), get shot full of arrows along with his pregnant wife and in his hormonal state, it hits him worse than the first time he watched The Neverending Story as a 6 year old and Artax the horse got sucked into the Swamp of Sadness. His eyes sting and he has to sniff a bit to stop his nose from running.

It’s not like he’s the only one who’s teared up a little, he’s most attuned to Cas and Sam, but he can still scent Kevin and his mom’s distress as an undercurrent in the room. Charlie seems fine, but she’s probably already seen the episode, and read about it in the books, a million times already. Girl’s a bit obsessive. Cas shifts closer beside him on the couch, wrapping an arm around Dean in a comforting gesture without drawing attention to the fact that Dean’s kinda abnormally emotionally invested in the TV show and pretty devastated over some fictional characters. Charlie, who’s sitting on the floor next to Sam with the popcorn turns around and gives him a look and a ‘there there’ squeeze to his knee that isn’t even condescending. Sam, who doesn’t do subtle very well, just stands up and walks around to hover near Dean like a big concerned giraffe.

“Dean?” he asks. “Are you okay?”

The room falls silent, the credits playing in the background. Dean realizes that everyone is staring at him in what appears to be genuine concern. His cheeks burn in embarrassment. He clears his throat.

“I’m fine,” he mutters. “I just liked Robb. Fucking Frey’s are dicks.”

Sam nods in agreement, all wide-eyed and frowny in worry.

Everyone is still staring, all honest concern instead of the usual mockery, and suddenly it clicks. Dean waits, tense, for someone to say something, to call him out, but while it seems everyone is affected by those sneaky pregnant omega pheromones of his, no one’s actually noticed them yet.

Or so he thinks.

They watch another episode and then break for food, Charlie and Sam disappearing into the kitchen to make pizzas that will undoubtedly have way too many green things on them while Kevin and his mom discuss their mutual dislike for Littlefinger. Ignoring everyone else, Cas gets to his feet and tugs Dean up alongside him.

Dean raises an eyebrow, but lets his mate lead him back to their room. As they pass the kitchen Dean overhears Sam and Charlie enthusing about chorizo and how well it goes with feta or something. Once they’re inside Cas shuts the door calmly and then turns to stare at Dean. His eyes skim over Dean’s body before settling into a piercing gaze that almost makes it seem he’s got his old angel mojo back. Unconsciously, Dean grabs at the little vial he wears around his neck.

Suddenly nervous and embarrassed, he licks his lips and waits. He doesn’t have to wait long, Cas pulls him close and scents him deeply, nose tucked into his neck, breath warm against his skin. Dean sways a little on his feet, his body curling in towards his mate’s instinctively. Cas’s hands slide over him in slow caresses, stroking up his sides, across his shoulders, down his spine. Neither of them have spoken but Dean just knows that Cas knows. There’s some understanding, some communication going on between them on a bone deep level.

Still, words are good. Words are probably a good idea.

Dean opens his mouth, ready to spill, but then Cas is dropping to his knees at his feet and he ends up gaping down at him stupidly. Beyond the base instincts their gender designations bring out in them, Cas doesn’t seem to give a shit about his dignity as an alpha or feel any sort of need to maintain a position of dominance over Dean, so it’s hardly the first time he’s ended up kneeling in front of him yanking at his jeans. When it comes to blowjobs, Cas is the one who comes off as the cock-starved omega. Guy likes the taste of Dean’s come almost as much as his slick and his favorite form of foreplay involves swallowing Dean down while he fingers him open. 

And sure, they are kind of in the midst of a baby talk, even if they haven’t actually said anything yet, so maybe as a response it’s inappropriate, but Cas is looking up and him with those big fucking blue eyes of his and he’s pulling at his jeans and his mouth is right there and Dean’s only human. Standing over an alpha instead of lying under one sends a little thrill through Dean and by the time Cas has his jeans and shorts pulled low on his hips, he's half-hard and on his way to being wet.

Then Cas derails entirely from where Dean thought they were heading and leans forward to nuzzle against his still-flat stomach. He takes hold of Dean’s hips, holding him steady, and rubs his face into the soft skin there like a big cat, stubble rasping in a way that makes Dean shiver a little. He tunnels fingers through Cas’s hair and they stare at one another for a long moment. His thumbs are stroking the hollows of Dean’s hips and it’s all very... distracting.

“I can scent our child within you,” Cas tells him, voice low and wrecked in a way Dean normally associates with sex.

Dean doesn’t know what to say to that, so he just nods.

One second Cas is on the floor, the next he’s up in Dean’s face and kissing him. It’s not a soft, romantic kiss – Cas slants his mouth over Dean’s and kisses him deep and hard - but the hands on his hips are gentle and reverent and when he pushes Dean back towards the bed, it’s a careful gesture instead of the way they usually shove at each other.

Maybe twenty minutes later Dean hears his brother braying from the kitchen about the pizza being ready, but it’s a vague, unimportant distraction. Cas is stretched over him, kissing him lushly as their bodies rock together slowly.

The change is obvious now.

Dean’s arousal has his scent blooming in a thick sugary cloud that hangs over them, sweeter and richer than usual. Cas keeps scenting him, licking and tasting the sheen of sweat on his skin, telling him how sweet and ripe he tastes and mumbling things in languages Dean doesn’t understand but that make his mate sound hungry.

The pheromones might be affecting Dean too, since he feels fucking blissful. The moment Sam gets a whiff of him the cat will be out of the bag so to speak, but for the moment all his fears and anxieties have evaporated. All that’s been left behind is a giddy, deeply satisfied, sense of achievement. Instead of being embarrassed or nervous about telling everyone, he’s actually looking forward to it, feels some primitive pride about it in his omega hindbrain.  

Then Cas rolls his hips in a particularly deep grind, hard and hot and Dean lights up from the inside, a wordless plea bubbling out of him. All thoughts of Sam and the others vanish and are replaced with Cas and mate and mine.

Chapter Text

Cas can’t seem to get enough of Dean’s sweetened scent.

He’s constantly cornering him or sidling up behind him to nuzzle and sigh and press biting kisses against his neck. Dean doesn’t mind, likes it in fact. Having his alpha warm and strong and practically purring in contentment soothes the omega in him. That part of him that keeps bringing more and more blankets to their bed, that likes to pull on Cas’s clothes first thing in the morning so he can carry his safematehome scent around with him all day.

And Cas is just as bad. He can barely let Dean out of his sight it seems, is constantly touching and scenting him. Dean pretends the attention is annoying when they’ve got an audience, but when no one’s looking it feels like the most natural thing in the world to melt into his mate’s arms.

But there are downsides aside from all the embarrassing PDA. Things like cooking can be a hazard. Castiel seems utterly unable to resist the lure of Dean standing at bench or at the stove and the way he tucks himself in behind Dean and rubs against him, scent marking and nibbling his neck, is highly distracting and results in a lot of burned breakfasts and abandoned dinners.

Sam seems to find them alternately nauseating and the most adorable thing he’s ever seen. Whenever he’s in the room with them he’s either smiling dopily or making gagging noises. He hovers closer too, driven by both alpha instinct and normal brotherly concern to make sure Dean’s safe and okay. Sometimes Dean finds all the coddling overbearing, but he’s a bit off-kilter from the pregnancy hormones and for some reason it’s much easier to accept Sam’s protectiveness than it usually is. A part of him bristles at that, the thought that he’s been more or less drugged by his own body, but Sam’s just as affected, if not more so, by his pregnancy pheromones, and the fact that he’s not the only one being screwed with makes it easier to live with.

 


 

It’s another girl.

Dean’s a mess when the doctor tells him.

It’s so different to the last time he’d been on bed with goo all over his stomach. (Lube. It looks and feelslike lube.) Sam’s at home - though he’s been texting, annoyingly eager for a news – and it’s Cas sitting beside him staring at the blob on the screen. He’s not as transparently excited as Sam had been, but he’s holding Dean’s hand very tight and his scent is bright with a mix of traces Dean’s come to recognize as happiness and shock and something else he doesn’t really have a name for, a warm undertone to that grassy ozone scent of his, something that Dean only tastes on the back of his tongue when Cas is happy about something to do with him. With them. Some sort of happy mate-smell.

“Well your vitals are strong Mr Winchester,” the doctor tells him, “and the fetus looks healthy.” She pauses, adjusting the weird wand thing she’s gliding over his slightly distended stomach. “The placenta is well formed as well, which is good news in a male-omega pregnancy.”

There’s relief at that, but Dean can’t help but think back, can’t help but worry. “So everything looks… good?” he asks hesitantly, hating the nervous catch in his voice. Cas squeezes his hand in reassurance, shifts a little closer.

The doctor smiles. “Yes. Everything looks good. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”

Dean nods but that’s not really the answer, the reassurance he’s looking for. There hadn’t been anything wrong last time either. The doctor seems to understand what he isn’t saying though, because her smile droops and she bites at her lip in hesitation before speaking again.

“I’ve reviewed the records you brought-” Sam. Sam had kept everything, had awkwardly handed Dean a slim folder of print outs to bring along. “-from your last pregnancy,” she tells him in a soft but professional tone. “There’s a significant difference in your bloodwork. A positive one. You’re much healthier, in a much better position to successfully carry to term.” Her eyes dart to Cas. “I also understand you were… estranged from your mate?” For the first time there is something less than detached and professional in her tone and Dean feels his hackles rise in Castiel’s defense, even though really his mate deserves any shade she might want to dish out in his direction. He’d known Dean was pregnant with their child and he hadn’t been around. The circumstances were complicated, but that's a fact.

Shoving that ugly mess aside, Dean nods in reply to her question.

“Well, to be frank, the fact that you carried as long as you did – a male omega over the age of thirty displaying symptoms of extreme stress and evidence of repeated serious physical trauma, and estranged from your mate on top of everything – is impressive,” she says. That happy-dean-scent Cas had been giving off burns off into familiar guilt at the ugly reminder of how he’d failed to protect Dean, how he’d hurt him. Dean ignores it, something he’s gotten used to, focusing instead on what the doctor is saying. “If you were able to keep that pregnancy so long under those circumstances, I’m confident you won’t run into the same complications in this instance.”

“So you think I’ll… I’ll be able to keep it?” Dean asks, still not quite daring to believe.

“I can’t give you a guarantee,” she tells him. “But yes. It looks very promising.” Her tone lightens again. “Would you like to know the sex?”

Dean glances at Cas. He’s leaned forward to peer at the screen eagerly, clearly dying to know. Dean closes his eyes for a moment and braces himself. “Sure,” he says, holding his breath.

The Doctor looks back at the screen, adjusting the ultrasound once more. “A girl,” she says.

 


  

Of course once Dean’s come to terms with the overwhelming mix or relief, trepidation, sorrow and guilt over another girl, there’s the problem of what to call her.

A part of him wants to call her Mary, but that name is tangled up in too much hurt now, belongs to someone else, and it feels like calling her that would be like saying the first daughter he and Cas had never existed. Didn’t matter. And she did.

Cas wisely doesn’t suggest it, but he seems even more mystified than Dean when it comes to alternatives. His suggestions are all angelic names, siblings he was fond of, and sure Dean’s come around to angels a bit since the Fall and getting to know so many of them up close and personal, but he still doesn’t want any kid of his named after one.

And besides, most of the names are terrible.

What kind of crap would a kid named ‘Sandalphon’ or god forbid: ‘Tzaphqiel’ get at school? Jesus. No way is Dean saddling any child of his with a something like that. He resorts to scouring god-awful baby name websites online, but it seems like everything reminds him of someone. And not in a good way. Not in a ‘I want to be reminded of this every time I say my daughter’s name for the rest of my life’ way. Scanning the lists he’s reminded of girls he dated in highschool, of pretty waitresses and barflies picked up on hunts for rushed unsatisfying fucks, women he’s pulled out of drawers in morgues, cold and pale, to inspect for signs of violent, supernatural deaths… No, the things the long lists of alphabetized names make him think of aren’t pretty.

He considers Joanna, Ellen and Lisa. Hell, even Bobby can be a chicks name can’t it? But none of them seem to fit and it’s not like he’s got kindly aunts and sweet grandmas to name her after. (and no way is he naming her Deanna or Cassie or some other terrible variant on either.)

Sam tells him not to worry, to calm down and wait until she’s born and see what suits her.

Of course Sam’s always trying to get Dean to ‘calm down’. As Dean starts to show he gets almost as protective as Cas. In fact the two alphas sometimes end up glaring at each other over Dean almost competitively. Sam practically stalks Dean around the bunker, watching him, monitoring him for any signs of… anything. It’s annoying as all hell, having him hover like a big, growly, fretful giraffe, and for all their years on the job - he’s not subtle about it. Cas can take a hint, will give Dean a little space when he wants it but Sam’s not so good. Dean’s brief spate of morning sickness practically has him breaking down the bathroom door. Eventually Dean lets him in even though as he tells him “Puking up my guts isn’t a spectator sport,” just so he’ll shut up.

Of course anything he lets Sam get away with means Cas gets away with the same, so the couple of weeks that have him praying to the porcelain gods all the time are spent with not one but two alphas crowding him, patting his back and passing him water and providing a goddamn commentary as he empties his stomach. ‘Are those french fries?’ ‘They appear to be french fries.’ ‘When did we have french fries?’ ‘I’m uncertain…’ ‘Dean where’d you get french fries?’

Sam’s the worst, and he rubs off on Cas, practically trains him, so when she’s finally born after a shockingly normal if long delivery, Dean gets his own back.

“Samantha,” he tells the room at large when they've both been tidied up for visitors. “Her name’s Samantha.”

Cas is so enraptured with the wrinkly little girl in Dean’s arms that he could probably have called her Beyoncé Skywalker Winchester and he’d have nodded along with it, but Sam, Sam’s face is priceless.

Charlie snorts and Kevin sighs.

Mrs Tran smiles warmly though, eyes watery, and nudges Sam saying, “What an honor Sam.”

Dean’s tired. Exhausted. Numb and half-asleep from the anesthesia, but the way his little brother’s face is twitching, mouth opening and closing and eyebrows trying to wriggle off his face has him grinning despite all that. “Yeah Sam,” he drawls, infinitely amused. “Quite the honor.”

“You’re serious?” Sam demands, he’s voice is all squeaky like he’s ecstatic and horrified and might cry.

“Well it’s like you said,” Dean says. “-it’s a matter of what suits her, and she looks like a Sammy to me.” He manages to catch Cas’s eye and his mate nods along.

“From the Hebrew Shemu'el,” he says. “God has heard.” He strokes his fingers carefully over their daughter’s cap of blonde hair. “It is a fitting name.”

Sam stares at Cas like he's been betrayed by his fellow alpha and Dean smiles smugly at him. Charlie slaps him on the shoulder. “Little Sammy and Big Sammy!” she says, grinning.

Everyone takes a turn at Dean’s side patting and cooing over the baby like she’s kitten instead of a kid, but Dean’s eyes are drooping and all he wants to do is sleep for a year, so Cas ushers them out of the room fairly quickly so he can get some rest. Once they’re alone he gives into the near impossible urge to press his nose against his daughter’s soft hair and breathe her in, scenting her. She smells amazing. Dean doesn’t even have words for the way her scent tugs at something deep inside him, the rush of love and warmth and intense happiness he feels to be holding her in his arms. His daughter. The child he and his mate have made. Something he never thought he'd have.

Cas perches on the bed beside him and draws Dean close, leaning forward to stroke Samantha’s sleeping face where she’s tucked in his arms. “I… she’s so wonderful Dean,” he says, sounding about as choked up and overwhelmed as Dean feels. Dean hums in agreement. She is wonderful.

“I have never felt anything like this," Cas continues in a whisper. "How can I love her so much already? She barely exists.”

“She’s ours Cas, you’re supposed to feel this way I think,” Dean tells him.

“It is beautiful,” Cas says, leaning closer and pressing a kiss to Dean’s cheek. “If my brothers and sisters could feel this love, they would understand why humanity was so precious to our Father.”

Samantha scrunches up her face and lets out a funny little hiccupping sneeze. Dean’s heart more or less explodes in rainbows and unicorns. It’s the most adorable, most amazing thing he’s ever seen. Cas’s arms tighten where he’s holding Dean and something new flares up in that happy-mate smell of his, something sweet. “Thank you Dean,” he says.