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Safe in Your Hands

Chapter Text

“Excuse me, could you say that again?” Dean leaned forward in his chair. “I don’t think I heard you right.”

The attorney gave him a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry, Mr. Winchester. Your father incurred significant debts before he passed away. According to state law, his home and business will be sold to pay his creditors.”

Dean couldn’t even think about keeping up appearances. He sagged forward, head in hands.

“I take it you had no idea?”

“None at all. He was so old-fashioned, the traditional alpha head of the household. He would never discuss the finances with me.” Dean was silent for a moment.

“I wish I had better news for you, Mr. Winchester.”

Dean felt a wave of panic overtake him. “That son of a bitch. What am I gonna do? I’ll have nowhere to live, and if the garage is sold I’ll lose my job. Oh, God. What’s Sam gonna do?”

“Speaking of your brother, I’m surprised he isn’t here. He is the alpha head of household now, so he should really be the one making all these arrangements.”

“Give the kid a break. He’s only 18! And he has midterms coming up...he can’t afford a distraction.”

“Dean--may I call you Dean? There are other options for you.” The lawyer’s eyes skated up and down Dean’s leather jacket and jeans. “It may not be my place to say so, but you’re very attractive…”

Dean sputtered. “Excuse me?”

“It’s just that there are wealthy single alphas out there looking for mates. Omegas like you are in high demand. Young, pretty…”

“Financially desperate?”

“It’s not as bad as that, Dean. You’d have a stable home, financial support. And Sam could use the dowry payment for his schooling.”

Dean brightened. “Dowry? You mean someone would actually pay money for me?” He leaned forward eagerly. “I hadn’t thought of that! Granted, I’m poor, so I’ve never really hung out with rich folks. They really still do the arranged marriage thing?”

The attorney laughed. “Of course! That’s how most upper middle class and the really wealthy find their mates, Dean.” He peeled off a post-it note and scribbled on it, then handed it over the desk to Dean. “I’d recommend Select Omega Services. It’s the best agency in Lawrence. Discreet, efficient. It’s where I met my wife.”

 

After breaking the news to Benny, his fellow mechanic at Winchester Auto Repair, the alpha invited him to the neighborhood bar for a drink. “We both need it, brother. Rough day.”

Dean took a long drink of his beer. “That’s an understatement.”

“You sure you want to go through with this matchmaking thing? Andrea and I can put you up for a while. We can both look for another job.”

“I appreciate it, Benny, but I can’t impose on you guys like that. And you know that no one else is gonna hire an omega for a mechanic. Hell, Dad only did because I was basically free labor.” John had been of the school that omegas were not to be trusted with money, and had only allowed Dean a small weekly allowance.

“Will they sell the Impala, too?”

“I guess so.” This was a fresh wound, and Dean was momentarily stunned. He would truly be left with nothing.

“Well, I can help you there. I haven’t done anything with Mom’s car after she died. Didn’t have the heart. We’ll fix it up and you can use it as long as you want.”

“Benny, I…”

“I don’t want to hear it. It’s settled. It’s the least I can do.”

Dean exhaled shakily. “Thanks, brother.”

 

A week later, Dean pulled up to an understated brick office building in Benny’s mother’s Cadillac. The landscaping was impeccably neat, and the only identifying feature was a brass plaque near the front door.

SELECT OMEGA SERVICES
Arranging your happily ever after since 1952.

After Dean had contacted the agency, there had been a lengthy application to fill out. He had to send some photos of himself. He had no recent ones, so he’d taken some selfies in front of his bedroom mirror and emailed them to the address provided. He’d had to visit a doctor to confirm he was healthy and to be tested for STDs. Finally, a cheerful lady named Celeste had called to say that the agency had selected him for an in-person interview.

Dean opened the front door slowly, scenting the air nervously. The receptionist looked up when she heard the jingle. “Mr. Dean Winchester? Right this way! Ms. Bradbury is expecting you.”

Due to the scents, Dean figured that this office was much like any other: an alpha or two in charge, a staff of efficient betas who actually ran things, and some pretty omega receptionists. Celeste Bradbury turned out to be an exuberant, red-haired beta who had Star Wars and Lord of the Rings memorabilia on her office walls.

“I’m so happy to meet you in person, Dean! I can tell already that we’re going to get along. Don’t take this the wrong way, but some of our clients are so...uptight. You’re a breath of fresh air.”

Dean shook her hand awkwardly. “It’s nice to meet you. Should I call you Ms. Bradbury, or Celeste?”

“Neither, please! That’s for my stuffy clients. You can call me Charlie. All my friends do.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way, either, but you’re not what I was expecting.”

“Well, just between you and me, this isn’t my endgame. I want to study computer science at the university, but I need to save up some money first.”

“The main reason I want to do this is because of my brother’s college bills. Sam’s such a smart kid, I want to give him every opportunity.”

“That’s so sweet!” Charlie gushed. “My mom is a friend of one of the other betas here, and she recommended me for the job. They were looking for a new matchmaker, so voila! Here I am. It’s not so bad, really, and the opportunity for bonuses was something I couldn’t pass up.”

“I’m not sure how this works,” Dean admitted. “I never expected to be in this position. How much does this cost? Do you do, like, a payment plan?”

Charlie giggled. “Oh, Dean, honestly! You’re so innocent about all this stuff; it’s pretty cute. Of course YOU don’t pay, you’re the omega. When you’re matched with an alpha, they pay an agreed upon dowry, which goes to your nearest alpha relative. Usually. There are exceptions. The matchmaker--that would be yours truly--gets 10% of the dowry.”

Dean’s mouth fell open. “So it’s free for me? That’s great! I was really worried about how I was going to manage; money’s kinda tight right now.”

Charlie frowned slightly. “Well, it’s not exactly free for you. I mean, you are the one getting mated to an alpha here. So technically…”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m technically selling myself here.” Dean forced himself to smile. “But that’s not a bad deal for you, I guess. So if someone paid a $10,000 dowry, you’d get $1,000. Nice.”

Charlie’s face fell. “Oh, Dean, sweetie. Select Omegas only accepts wealthy alpha clientele.” Seeing Dean’s blank expression, she took a deep breath and continued. “Most dowry payments are around $100,000.”

Dean gripped the armrests of his chair, and felt himself break into a cold sweat. Charlie looked concerned, and leaned forward in her seat. “Are you all right, Dean? Do you need some water, or…”

He waved off her concern. “Nah, I’m good,” he replied, ignoring the fact that his voice sounded like it was coming from very far away. “So $10,000, huh? That’s. That’s great for you. You’ll save up enough for college in no time.” Dean rubbed his hands over his face, and was quiet for a long moment. Charlie waited silently.

“$90,000, Charlie,” Dean finally whispered. “Do you know what Sam could do with that much money? I can’t believe this. It’s the solution to all my problems.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, Dean,” Charlie rose from her desk and crossed the room to a small refrigerator. She removed a bottle of water and handed to Dean. “I said our standard payment is $100,000. It’s not uncommon for an omega to go for more. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t swing that way, but I do have eyes. You’re very pretty, Dean. I wouldn’t be surprised if you did very well.”

Dean took a few sips from the bottle of water and exhaled heavily. “All right, then. Let’s get started.”

Charlie smiled brightly and gestured toward a computer monitor on a small desk in the corner. “While I get you registered and start your file, you’ll fill out this survey. Standard stuff. Your likes, dislikes, interests, and personality. Select Omegas is a pretty progressive agency; they actually try to match alphas and omegas according to compatibility. That’s why I work here, actually.” Charlie shuddered slightly. “Some agencies are nothing more than meat markets. Disgusting. Me? I still believe in the power of love. Or at least, like.” She returned to her desk and started typing furiously.

The “survey” took Dean almost two hours to complete. He rated innumerable personality traits on a scale of 1 to 10, answered questions about religious, political, and sexual preferences, and finished by clicking through dozens of multiple choice questions. Charlie rustled papers and answered phone calls in the background. About an hour in, she brought him a small plate of cheese, crackers, and fruit, for which he was grateful.

At long last, Dean clicked the final “submit” button, and laid his head on the keyboard. “Ugggghhh. That was horrible.”

“All done?” Charlie chirped. “Great. I have all the preliminary paperwork completed, and your application has been approved by my manager. Welcome to Select Omega Services, Dean. We are proud to have you as a client.”

“So what do I do now?”

“Now, I’m going to take you to the studio. After your hair and makeup are finished, our photographer will take some head shots and some candid photos. Sometimes he does the more casual photos outdoors, weather permitting. And then, you let us work our magic.” Charlie scribbled on a card and handed it to him. “Here’s my work number and email address. I’ve written my cell number on the back. Technically I’m not supposed to do that, but I like you, Dean. Call me for anything you might need, or any questions you have.”

Dean had assumed the hair and makeup comment was a joke, but as soon as they reached the studio, he was whisked into a chair by a dark-haired beta named Hannah. “I don’t know about this,” Dean admitted.

“Oh, don’t worry, sweetie. Most male omegas are nervous about this part. I’m just going to style your hair, and do some very light makeup to accentuate your features. Nothing much. Now, just lean back and relax. Would you like a warm towel for your neck?” Hannah had a light, soothing touch, and Dean found himself enjoying the attention, even when she began applying foundation with a brush.

“You have very nice cheekbones, Dean. An absolute pleasure to work with.”

“Am I done?” Dean mumbled sleepily.

“Not quite. A little highlighter, some bronzer, and then I’ll do your eyes.” Hannah finished his face with a few more sweeps of her brush, then dabbed with a pink sponge. “Try not to squint for this next part, so I can get your eyeliner just right.”

“Eyeliner?” Dean sputtered. “What happened to light makeup?”

“It will make your eyes pop, and your photos will look lovely. Don’t complain, dear. You should see how much makeup our female omegas have to wear.”

Dean let her have her way, watching her nervously in the mirror. He had to admit, he did look…pretty. Like someone from a magazine. Hannah chuckled. “See? I know best, dear. Wait til the alphas see your photos. You’ll be in high demand, I shouldn’t wonder.” She patted his shoulder. “Now hop up and we’ll go to wardrobe. I have a green button-down that would look wonderful on you.”

Dean felt like a doll by the time Charlie came to take him to the photographer. “Dean!” She squealed. “You look hot! You’re gonna go places, baby!” Charlie grabbed his hand and pulled him down the hall to meet the photographer. “Kevin, sweetie, this is Dean Winchester for his photo shoot. He’s okay, you don’t have to be polite and stuffy with him.”

Kevin whistled. “Whoa! Look at you, Mr. Photogenic. My job just got a lot easier.”

Charlie checked her phone. “All right, Dean. You’ll be fine with Kevin here, I’m gonna go back to the office and start matching you with compatible alphas. Call me if you guys need anything!”

The photo shoot turned out to be more fun than Dean expected. Kevin had a good sense of humor, and kept Dean laughing by calling out poses like “early 90s yearbook picture” and “awkward family photo”. Kevin took him to an outdoor garden surrounded by a privacy fence for the second part of the shoot, and told Dean about a nervous alpha who had tripped and fallen in the koi pond right before meeting his potential mate.

Dean was sorry to see the afternoon end. While he was with Charlie and Kevin, it was easy not to think about what the future held, but now he had to return to his empty home. He changed back into his own clothing, his mood suddenly sour. When he exited the changing room, however, Charlie was waiting for him.

“So, Dean, you got any plans for tonight?”

It took him a moment to answer. “Absolutely none, but…”

“No buts. Kev and I are gonna grab dinner and see a movie, and we want you to come with. We’ll pick you up at your place and drop you off after, so you’ll be with us the whole time. Perfectly safe and proper. Whaddya say?”

Dean couldn’t say yes fast enough. They picked him up at 7:30 in Kevin’s Prius and whisked him off to Charlie's favorite diner, which she insisted was the best-kept secret in Lawrence. After tasting a burger topped with mac and cheese, Dean was inclined to agree.

“My only regret about this whole evening,” Charlie announced, “is that Dean decided to wash off the eyeliner before coming out with us.”

Dean threw a french fry at her. “So what kind of nerd movie are we going to see?”

“He figured out we were nerds! Good call, Dean. We’re going to see ‘The House with a Clock in its Walls’, which we are both very excited about.”

Charlie and Kevin dropped Dean off slightly after midnight. After the movie, which Dean had enjoyed, they’d talked him into going out for a nightcap. Dean was uncertain, but their bar of choice was one that specialized in beta customers, so he was spared the unwanted advances of drunken alphas. It was a heady feeling to be out past midnight; his father had always threatened to lock him out of the house if he came home past 10:30.

As he got ready for bed, weaving slightly from one too many margaritas as he slid on his pajama pants, his phone buzzed on the dresser. It was a text from Charlie.

Heyyyy, Dean-o. Kev and me have decided, no matter what happens with the matchmaking thing, you’re one of us. Talk to ya soon, bestie!

Chapter Text

Charlie texted and called him often over the next few days; otherwise, the waiting would have been hell. One week after his first visit to Select Omegas, Dean was summoned there to meet two alphas. He was escorted to one of the “meeting rooms”, which were basically little sitting rooms outfitted with two-way mirrors, so that the matchmakers could watch from the hall for any inappropriate behavior. When Dean arrived, Charlie was fussing over trays of finger foods and flower arrangements.

“I see why you like this job, Charlie. You’re basically a party planner.”

“Don’t insult me, Dean, my parties are much better than this.” Charlie gave him a look. “So how are you feeling? Excited?”

Dean pulled at his necktie. “I feel like I’m gonna puke, actually.”

“Don’t be nervous, and don’t expect too much, ‘kay?” Charlie instructed him. “These are just the first two. Don’t feel down if you don’t like either of them.”

“Or if neither of them like me, more likely.”

Charlie waved a hand dismissively. “Pfft. As if someone wouldn’t like you.” She straightened Dean’s collar and took a few swipes at his carefully styled hair. “But, um, in the interest of full disclosure, the first guy you’re gonna meet...it’s kind of, um, irregular.”

Dean ducked to avoid another flurry of Charlie’s ministrations. “Irregular how?”

“Well, he technically didn’t match with you. Or actually fill out the personality survey. He saw your pictures and wanted to meet.” Charlie’s smile faded a bit. “I’m really sorry, but he goes to church with the alpha who runs the agency, and my hands are tied. I can’t go against my boss. But maybe he’ll be okay...who knows?”

Zachariah Adler was most definitely not okay. The meeting went badly immediately upon introductions, when Dean attempted to shake hands. Apparently that was not acceptable in traditional upper crust circles. “Omegas should bow their heads upon being introduced to an Alpha,” Zachariah informed him coldly.

Dean gritted his teeth. He didn’t want to get thrown out of the agency for punching a bigwig--not after all the work he’d put in--and he certainly didn’t want to get Charlie in trouble. “My apologies, Zachariah,” he said hurriedly. “Things are a little bit different here than what I’m used to.”

This made matters worse. “Omegas never refer to their betters by their first names. It should be Mr. Adler, sir, or Alpha. My late wife would have never…”

So he was a grieving widower. Maybe that had made him crabby; look at what it had done to his own father. Dean decided to be sympathetic. “My condolences on the loss of your wife, sir. When did she pass away?”

“Last week. I would have been here sooner, but funeral arrangements were very time-consuming.” Zachariah picked up a chunk of cheese from the platter Charlie had brought in before the meeting and popped it in his mouth, chewing noisily. “Listen, omega. My wife was only able to bear two children due to health problems. It’s unacceptable for an alpha of my station to have so few progeny. I’m looking for an omega to bear me several children, starting as soon as possible. Have you had fertility testing done?”

Charlie was able to save the situation by lying that Dean had indeed, but the results were not due back until next week.

“Well, I suppose I can wait that long. Now, where is the other omega I’m supposed to meet? The female one with the big boobs.”

Charlie’s smile was more of a grimace. “Certainly, sir. That omega is represented by one of our other matchmakers, so I’ll just escort you down the hall to his office.” She returned momentarily, red-faced and contrite. “Sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry. God, I’m so sorry, Dean! I had no idea he’d be so awful.”

“Even his scent was terrible. Kinda like a combination of mothballs and cauliflower. Didn’t you notice?”

“Not really. You know betas aren’t as attuned to scents. Oh, Dean!”

“Not your fault, Charlie. But you owe me one.”

“Of course, margaritas are on me next time we go out. Sorry. Anyway, the next alpha you’re meeting is a legit match. His name’s Mick Davies, he’s cute and charming, and best of all, he has a British accent! I really think you’ll like him, Dean.”

Dean did like Mick. He was courteous, chatty, and had a pleasant caramel/vanilla scent. It turned out that they both enjoyed some of the same television shows and movies, and he was genuinely thrilled that Dean was a mechanic. “I love classic cars, but I’m hopeless at fixing them! Always at the repair shop for one thing or another. I’ll bet you could keep things running properly, couldn’t you?”

“If I had a place to work on them, sure. What kind of car do you have?”

“I have fourteen in all. Would you like to see them?” Mick pulled out his phone, proud as a new father, and flipped through an album of car photos. Dean was stunned; he’d never even touched a car as expensive as one of Mick’s.

“If you’re interested, I’d love for you to come to my house and tour the garage. With a chaperone, of course, we have to keep things proper! Maybe Ms. Bradbury would come along.”

“Honestly? I’d love that. I don’t know what the rules are with this sort of thing, but I’ll ask her.”

Charlie slipped into the room, beaming. “All right, Mr. Davies, I’m here to escort you to your next meeting. Dean, wait here for me, okay?”

Dean settled back onto the overstuffed sofa, relieved. He was finally calm enough to try some of the mini quiches that Charlie had prepared. They were delicious, and he’d eaten five of them by the time she returned.

“Soooo?” Charlie squealed. “I was right, wasn’t I? He’s dreamy, and you two really seemed to hit it off. What do you think?”

“I actually really like him. I mean, more in a friendly way, not in a romantic way, but it’s too soon to tell, right?” Dean reached for another quiche.

“Right! You don’t always feel the chemistry during the first meeting. But you seem to have a lot in common.”

“He even invited us to his home to see his classic car collection. You as my chaperone.”

“No way!” Charlie high fived him. “That would be awesome. I’ve heard his estate is beautiful. I’d have to ask for approval from my manager, and arrange everyone’s schedules, but it’s a definite maybe!”

On the drive home, Dean felt more lighthearted than he had in a while. Even the sight of moving boxes with his few belongings packed in them couldn’t completely dampen his good mood. Tomorrow, he’d pack up Sam’s things so that he could haul them over to Benny’s before the auction. He and Andrea had a storage shed they’d offered to let him use.

The next day, Dean worked diligently, arranging the books, school awards, and posters that Sam had left behind in cartons. He wasn’t sure how to tell Sam about the problems with their father’s estate, or that he even wanted to. Maybe he should just wait until Sam was back in town for summer vacation and break the news then.

Dean stopped for a break and a sandwich around 12:30. He was lounging on the couch, idly flipping through channels when his phone buzzed.

“Hey, Charles. Any word on our field trip yet?”

“No time for that right now, Dean. You’ve been matched with another alpha.” Charlie sounded almost grim at the prospect.

“What’s up? You sound weird. Is this one the Prince of Wales or something?”

Charlie huffed. “Dean, you know both the princes are mated already.”

“Well, who is it, then?”

Charlie paused for a sufficiently dramatic period of time. “Dean, you’ve been matched with one of our most important alpha clients. My manager said that she’s never seen a more compatible match in terms of personality and values. Everyone’s buzzing. I mean, I’m a brand new matchmaker, you know? No one expected one of my omega clients to get so much attention.”

“Oh. Isn’t that a good thing?”

“Not so fast, Dean. There are...special circumstances. That’s all I’m going to say over the phone. Can I come by your place after work and talk to you directly?”

“Sure, I guess. But you’ve got me freaking out a little bit here.”

“No, don’t do that. Just hear what I have to say and then decide for yourself. Remember, you can decline any match that you want, no matter who the alpha is.”

“Roger that. Should I order pizza or something?”

“Good idea. No pineapple, please.”

“What am I, a heathen?”

Charlie laughed softly. “See you in a few, Dean.”

The only way for Dean to get his mind off the strange conversation was to throw himself wholeheartedly into packing. He had pretty much finished Sam’s room by four, and quit to take a shower and order the pizza, which arrived at almost the same time as Charlie.

She pulled some cash out of her purse to pay the delivery girl, and waved Dean away when he protested. “It’s a business expense.” She tucked the receipt into her purse.

Dean thanked the pizza girl and closed the front door. “All right, Charlie. Spill.”

“Get the plates and napkins, then we’ll talk.” Charlie showed herself to the sofa and flopped down on it, and reached for the remote to mute the TV. She served them each a slice, then took a big bite of hers and chewed furiously.

Dean set his plate on the coffee table, pizza untouched. “No more stalling.”

Charlie sighed heavily, and her shoulders sagged. “Fine.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a file folder. “Castiel Novak, twenty-eight years of age, and attorney at Novak Milton, a well-known firm that specializes in private wealth management. The firm was started by his grandfather, and his father, Charles Novak, supposedly heads the firm. However, anyone in the know will tell you that Castiel calls the shots.”

“Really? Twenty-eight sounds kinda young to run a law firm.”

“He graduated from law school at the University of Chicago before his twenty-fifth birthday and went to work for Novak Milton immediately. His brothers, Gabriel and Michael, are also attorneys at the firm.”

“Wow. So I’m guessing they’re loaded, right?”

Charlie took a deep breath. “Castiel Novak is believed to have a net worth of around fifty million dollars.”

Dean had trouble processing the concept of fifty million dollars. “I knew lawyers made good money, but…”

“Not all of it’s from that. He inherited part of it. The family’s what they call ‘old money’. Now, start on your pizza before it gets cold.”

Dean pushed his plate away. “Not until you tell me what the catch is. Does he have, like, a tail or something?”

Charlie rolled her eyes. “This is no time for jokes, Dean. All right, here’s the catch, as you say. He’s not just looking for an omega to mate with and marry, although he does want that. Castiel is a dominant, and he is looking for a submissive. Are you familiar with those terms?”

“Um, one weekend when I was drunk I watched 50 Shades. Does that count?” Dean had completely lost his appetite.

“I’ve been doing some research this afternoon, Dean, to prepare for this conversation, and it seems that 50 Shades is not representative of a healthy BDSM relationship. A lot of people consider the dominant in that series to be abusive. So, no, I don’t think it counts.” Charlie rummaged through her bag again and produced a stack of printouts. “Since I don’t know enough about that lifestyle to advise you, I’ve brought you some info. There’s someone in my D&D group that I had heard was a dominant, so I called and begged for her help. She was sympathetic, said she’d had a bad experience in her first relationship and wanted to help others avoid that. She gave me some good resources.”

Charlie put the stack of papers on the coffee table and patted them. “So there’s your homework. Read it tonight and call me in the morning with your decision. If you have any doubts at all, Dean, you don’t even have to meet this alpha.”

“Do you have to know by tomorrow?”

“Not necessarily. But Mr. Novak has been a client of ours for over a year, and we haven’t even come close to a match for him. It’s tricky, as you might imagine. So he’s very eager to meet you and talk things over face-to-face.”

“So what does he know about me? What if he’s disappointed when he comes to the meeting? I’m not the greatest catch in the world, Charlie.”

“He’s seen your photographs and the basic facts from your file, and he knows the survey results show a high compatibility. Other than that, nothing. We don’t give potential matches a great deal of personal information without the express permission of our clients. For safety reasons.”

“So he must’ve given you permission to tell me all this?”

“Some of it, yes. I sat in on a meeting with Mr. Novak and his matchmaker this afternoon. The rest I found out through a little digging.” Charlie gave him a wan smile. “I know we haven’t known each other for very long, but I consider us friends, Dean. In my book loyalty to a friend outweighs protecting the privacy of some rich dude. It’s nothing you couldn’t have found out online anyway.”

Dean smiled back at her, trying to lighten the mood. “You didn’t tell me the most important part. What’s the dowry?”

Charlie frowned. “I’m not even going to tell you that right now, Dean. I don’t want it to influence your decision.”

“Oh, wow. It must be good, then. C’mon, Charlie. I wanna know how much I’m gonna be helping out your college fund.”

“It doesn’t matter, Dean! Yes, it’s a lot of money, and yes, it would make me look really good at the agency. But it doesn’t mean anything if I encourage you to make a bad decision.” Charlie slumped back into the couch cushions.

Dean went to sit next to her. “It’s okay, sweetie,” he told her gently. “I know this is a lot of stress, and I know you have my best interests at heart. I appreciate it, I do. But I’m gonna find out sooner or later.”

Charlie huffed. “Fine, whatever. Castiel Novak is offering a dowry of a million dollars.”

Chapter Text

It was close to nine the next morning before Dean stirred. Charlie taken pity on him and stayed for a while to eat pizza, drink a beer, and help him scan information about BDSM. Then he’d tossed and turned for hours before finally falling asleep around three.

Before he finally slept, Dean had let his mind wander. As exhaustion erased his inhibitions, he imagined strong hands pinning him down to his mattress, and a firm but gentle voice saying, “Good boy.” Dean shivered and let sleep take him.

Dean’s cell rang several times, then lapsed into silence, then started ringing again. He rolled over in bed, grumbling, and answered it. “What, Charlie?”

“Good morning to you too, sunshine. Listen, Castiel Novak wants to meet you this afternoon, provided you are in agreement. What do you say?”

Dean’s heart began pounding. “It’s a little sudden. What do you think I should do?”

“I can’t tell you what to do, Dean. All I can say is I’ll support whatever decision you make, even if you meet him and hate his guts. I got your back.”

Dean took several deep breaths. A million dollars, he reminded himself. Think of Sam. “All right, Charlie. I’ll do it. What time?”

“Just a second and I’ll check. My manager’s on the phone with him right now.” The phone clicked, and Dean was subjected to adult contemporary hold music. Charlie was gone for no more than a minute before she picked up again.

“All right. Mr. Novak says he can be here at 1:15. Dean, please be on time. Scratch that, be early. Really early. Get here at noon and we’ll eat lunch together.”

“I probably won’t be able to eat.”

“Yes, you will. He also says to tell you to wear whatever clothes you feel most comfortable in.”

“Guess I’m showing up in flannel pajama pants and a Led Zeppelin t-shirt.”

“DEAN.”

He rolled out of bed. “God, I don’t even know what to wear! I don’t have anything decent. Shit.”

“You’ll be fine. Wear nice jeans and that green Henley you wore to the movie. No sneakers.”

“Thank God it’s clean.” Dean sorted through his closet to locate the Henley.

“Make sure it’s not wrinkled, either. Comfortable doesn’t mean looking like a slob. Alrighty then, Dean. I got a lot to do. Remember, no later than noon or I send out a search party.” Charlie hung up.

Dean pulled up at the agency around 11:45. Best not to risk Charlie’s wrath. He had to sit in the waiting room for ten minutes, then was escorted back to her office. “Dean! Thank God. I’ve been on pins and needles all morning. I’ve ordered sandwiches, and you have to eat at least half of one.”

“I’ll do my best.” Dean picked through the tray. “Ugh! This one has sprouts on it!”

“That one is for my manager, so stop touching it. There’s also turkey and Swiss, roast beef, and ham. Pick one and start eating.” Charlie handed him a bottle of water. “All right, Dean, sit up straight and act like something. I see her coming now.”

Charlie’s manager was a tall brunette in her late forties. She was clearly focused on retrieving her weird bean sprout sandwich, so Dean nodded to her politely and stayed silent. She ate her food quickly, all the while talking with her mouth full about things that needed to get done. Before leaving, she regarded Dean, her eyes narrowed slightly. “Young man, Castiel Novak is a very important person. The fact that he has taken time out of his afternoon to see you at such short notice is impressive. I hope you take this seriously.”

Dean bit his lip nervously. “I do, ma’am.”

“Good. I know I can depend on you not to do anything that reflect poorly on Ms. Bradbury or the agency.”

“I’m just grateful that you folks took a chance on me. I’ll be on my best behavior.” Dean gave her his most winning smile.

This seemed to pacify her. “Celeste, you should finish setting up your meeting room. I’m going to the main lobby to greet Mr. Novak personally when he arrives.”

“Will do. Dean, sit tight for a few, okay?”

“Okay...Celeste.”

Charlie rolled her eyes at him, and followed her manager out the door. Dean tried to sit still, but his fingers seemed to be tapping the armrests of the chair without his permission. He finally scooted his chair up to Charlie's desk and started doodling on a notepad. He hoped she wouldn’t mind.

‘Dean Novak’, he wrote in his best cursive. ‘Dean Winchester Novak’. ‘Dean Winchester-Novak’. They all looked odd to him, and a little wrong. Well, it probably wouldn’t be up to him, anyway. On the slim chance that Castiel Novak wanted him, he would decide what Dean’s surname would be.

“All right, loverboy.” Charlie was leaning in the doorway. “It’s showtime. Come with me.”

Dean’s feet didn’t seem to be working correctly. He scuffed his toes on the carpet several times as he followed her down the hall to the meeting rooms. Through the two-way mirror, he could see some movie-star looking guy seated in the first room, chatting with Charlie’s manager. “Wow. Who’s that dude? Some kind of male model or what?”

Charlie looked scandalized. “That is Castiel Novak, Dean.”

Dean’s heart dropped to the floor. There was no way he could sit in a tiny room and make small talk with an alpha who looked like that. He probably wouldn’t be able to form a complete sentence. “Fuck. You...you couldn’t warn me that he looks like some kind of Greek god?”

“Honestly, I figured you would google him or something. What was I supposed to say? That Castiel has the body of a man who works out daily, the bluest eyes in the world, the most luscious lips, the most artfully tousled hair? I’m not attracted to men, Dean, but I do have eyes.” Charlie grabbed his arm and moved him toward the door. “Besides, it’s too late to back out now. Given the circumstances, I’m going to let you two talk for longer than usual, but I’ll be watching. If you hate him or he makes you uncomfortable, rub your right ear. I’ll come in and wrap things up.”

Dean felt a wave of gratitude. “Thank you for that.”

“Okay. Here we go.” Charlie opened the door and half-dragged him over the threshold. “Hello, Mr. Novak. It’s so good to see you again.”

“Likewise, Ms. Bradbury.” God, even Novak’s voice was incredible; deep with a hint of raspiness. Dean hadn’t even looked directly at the man yet, and already he was intrigued. He kept his head bowed slightly in case Mr. Novak felt like Zachariah on the subject of eye contact.

“Allow me to introduce you to the man of the hour, Mr. Dean Winchester.”

Mr. Novak approached and held out his hand. Dean took it and glanced upward for the first time, and felt like he might faint. The man was beautiful, there was no other word to describe him. His blue eyes searched Dean’s soul, and Dean couldn’t look away.

Charlie cleared her throat, and Dean noticed he was still holding the offered hand. Novak brought Dean’s hand up to his face, and murmured, “May I?” Dean nodded wordlessly--he couldn’t speak--and Mr. Novak brushed his lips over the back of his hand.

Dean took a sharp breath. The alpha’s scent was something that he couldn’t immediately place, deep and complex and masculine without being overbearing. There was an undertone of whiskey and dark chocolate, and Dean felt his knees shake a bit.

“I’m very pleased to meet you, Dean Winchester, and honored that you would take the time to meet me at such short notice.”

Dean remembered his manners, and cast his eyes downward again. “The honor is all mine, Mr. Novak.”

“Oh, please, call me Castiel. I much prefer it. Might I use your first name as well?”

“Absolutely, sir.”

“Well, I think we shall leave the two of you to talk for a bit,” Charlie’s manager rose from her chair. “If you should need anything at all, please tap the little button on the table there, and Ms. Bradbury will be in to see to anything you need.” The two women left the room, Charlie looking back at the last minute to give him an encouraging smile.

Dean turned back to find Castiel staring at him intently. He couldn’t think of anything to say, and took refuge in flippancy. “Disappointed?”

“Quite the opposite.” Castiel smiled, baring his teeth slightly. “You look even more exquisite in person than in your photographs. No insult intended to the makeup artist, but she took perhaps too liberal a hand with the bronzer.”

Dean let out a laugh that was more of a squawk, then covered his mouth and averted his eyes again. Damn it. Novak would think he was an idiot.

“I know you must be anxious, Dean, but am I making you uncomfortable? You keep on looking at the floor.”

“Another alpha told me that high-ranking alphas didn’t like omegas to make eye contact.”

Castiel huffed. “Nonsense. He was probably some kind of religious zealot. Of course some alphas are that backward, but I myself would prefer if you behave in whatever way is natural to you.”

“Thank God. I was afraid I was going to strain my neck, looking down all the time.”

Castiel gestured toward the sofa. “Please, sit and be comfortable. I managed to block off most of my afternoon, so we can talk as long as you would like. You must have many questions.”

“I barely know where to start.” Dean sat on the edge of a sofa cushion, unable to relax.

“Perhaps we should just start with the basics, like any other two people who have just met. I know that Ms. Bradbury has informed you of the…special circumstances, but I would prefer that we get to know a little more about each other before we discuss that.”

Dean nodded. “What exactly do you know about me?”

“I know that you work as a mechanic, that you have a younger brother you care very much about, and that your father recently passed away. I’m very sorry for your loss, by the way.”

“Thanks. I guess.”

“I also know that the personality survey has scored us as extremely compatible.”

“Do you really trust that survey? I mean, how accurate can it be, that it would match a millionaire lawyer and someone like me?”

“The survey you speak of was developed over years of consultation with psychologists and computer programmers. It is much envied throughout the matchmaking industry, and kept highly secret. The success rate is amazingly high. It’s why I’m here.” Castiel frowned. “As for the “someone like you” comment, I’m not sure I understand.”

“It’s obvious, man. I’m a mechanic, for God’s sake. Why would you possibly want to get to know me? You’re rich, you’re well connected, you could find someone more worthy of you anywhere.”

“Where would we be without mechanics, Dean? We’d all be sitting by the side of the road in our broken-down vehicles. You’re a valuable member of society. Me, on the other hand?” Castiel gestured toward himself. “Do you know what a wealth management attorney does, Dean? We help rich people stay rich. We help them avoid paying taxes, so that their entitled children can remain rich as well. My clients and the people I associate with are largely superficial and boring. Trust me, you are far more worthy of my time. Now. Please tell me something about yourself.”

Dean took a deep breath. “Like you said, I’m a mechanic. I used to work at my father’s garage until he died. I have a brother named Sam and he’s away at college. Freshman year. Um, my mother died when I was a little kid. Sam was just a baby.”

“I’m so sorry, Dean.” Castiel truly did sound sorry, and the whiskey undertone of his scent became just a bit sharper. “My mother died when I was 18, but it’s hardly the same. I imagine you bore quite a bit of the responsibility for your brother.”

“I did, but he still turned out okay somehow.” Dean chuckled. “He’s some kind of genius. He wants to be a lawyer, too.” He looked up at Castiel, who was watching him intently, his head tilted slightly to the side. “Um, what else is there? I like classic rock and classic cars. I love to watch sci-fi movies and TV shows. Oh, and I like to cook. Not anything fancy, just regular food. That’s all I can think of. Tell me about you?” Dean formed the last statement as a question, in case Castiel took offense.

“I work at my family’s business as well. After my father…became indisposed, a few years ago, I took on most of the responsibilities of leading the firm. As such, I’ve barely had any time to myself for the past few years. It’s been draining. Last year, my brother Michael graduated from law school and joined the firm as well. He’s a brilliant, shrewd young man, and as he becomes more experienced, he will be able to take on some of my work. On the day he committed to working for us, I came here and applied to be matched with an omega. However, they haven’t really found a serious candidate to introduce until you.” Castiel reached for a glass of water on a nearby table and took a sip. “As for my personal life, such as it is, I enjoy nearly all genres of music, including rock, but I have had very little time to watch television. Perhaps you could tell me which shows are worth catching up with? And I’m a hopeless cook. If not for my housekeeper, I’d live solely on prepackaged food.”

Dean felt an unexpected rush of sympathy. “Man, that sucks. Here I was expecting you to tell me you live the high life. You know, vacations in the Caribbean, dates with movie stars, the whole nine.”

“Well, don’t feel too sorry for me, Dean. I am still incredibly wealthy, after all.” Castiel gave him a mischievous grin.

“That’s what confuses me. I mean, you’re rich enough to have whatever you want, basically. It seems like it would be easy for you to find a submissive. I’m sorry, I know we said we weren’t gonna talk about it, but it’s kind of the elephant in the room.”

“It’s fine, Dean. It’s only natural for you to be curious.” Castiel took another sip of water. “I’m sorry, I’m being rude. You don’t have anything to drink. Would you prefer regular or sparkling water?”

“Regular. I hate fizzy water.” Dean waited with bated breath as Castiel poured water from a pitcher into a crystal goblet.

“As I was saying, it would be easy for me to find a submissive. Somewhat less easy to find a very compatible one, but it could be done. It would also be fairly simple for me to find a pleasant enough omega to marry and mate. That’s not what I want, Dean. I want a true partner in every sense of the word. Someone who complements me both during a scene and in regular life. Such a person is difficult to find.”

Dean laughed a bit to cover his nerves. “Yeah, the perfect spouse/mate/submissive. The age old problem. Look, I suppose this is a good time to tell you that I don’t have any experience as a sub.”

“That’s not an issue, as long as you communicate honestly with me about any questions or concerns you have.” Castiel hesitated. “This may be too forward of me, but I sense that you are also inexperienced sexually.”

Dean’s face turned bright red. “Um, yes. Not due to lack of interest, but… Listen, Castiel. Truth is, my father kept me on a pretty tight leash. If I wasn’t working, I was supposed to be home. He was old-fashioned, didn’t think it was proper for omegas to go out without a chaperone. And he didn’t want me to find a mate, because he would’ve lost his best mechanic. He didn’t let me out of the house much.”

“Dean. That’s terrible. I would go so far as to call it abusive. But your inexperience is still not a problem. Like I said, communication is key. And if we decide to pursue a relationship, we’ll proceed slowly, so that you’re comfortable with all aspects.”

Dean drank some water, and then licked his lips to moisten them. Castiel’s eyes followed every motion. “Yeah. Charlie--Ms. Bradbury, I mean--is helping me do some research on the lifestyle. So I’ll know a little about what to expect.”

“That’s wonderful. A dom/sub relationship can be one of the most fulfilling things in life, if the partners are compatible and open with each other.”

“What do you like about being a dom?” Dean was afraid this was going too far, but Castiel had encouraged questions.

“First of all, I should tell you that I am a very different kind of dom than you may have seen portrayed in the media. I don’t enjoy causing pain or humiliation in my subs. I want someone who submits to me willingly and enthusiastically, because they trust me to make them feel good and safe. At work I must always be in control, but also aloof and detached. I can’t become too familiar with my employees. When I come home, I yearn to take care of someone, to give them exactly what they need. To know them better than anyone. Do you understand?”

“I think so.” Not only did Dean understand, he felt intrigued. He wanted to know exactly how Castiel made a person feel good and safe.

“To turn the tables a bit, what interests you about being a sub?”

Dean was quiet for a bit; he didn’t want to say the wrong thing. Finally he blurted out, “Knowing exactly what I should do.”

Castiel tilted his head again. “How do you mean?”

“I mean, well, when my father was still alive. He wanted me to do exactly what he wanted, but he usually wouldn’t tell me what that was. I was supposed to just know, or read his mind, or something. Then when I didn’t do what he had in mind, he’d get angry.” Dean had to stop for a minute. John Winchester’s anger had been terrifying, even when Dean was an adult.

Castiel nodded, his face open and interested.

“Just once, you know, I’d like to not have to agonize over every move and second guess myself. And to have someone tell me I’ve done a good job when something does turn out right.”

“I see. You would like specific instructions to follow, and you would like to receive praise.”

“Yes. And…” Dean hesitated, then forged ahead. “I’d like to feel safe. It’s hard for an omega to feel safe, even at work or at the grocery store or when you’re out with friends. You’re always looking over your shoulder, worried you’re going to run into the wrong kind of alpha. Except most omegas feel safe at home, but I never even had that.”

Cas was nodding thoughtfully, but Dean suddenly felt horrified. He had basically outlined a laundry list of his issues to an alpha he’d only just met. He squinched his eyes shut and buried his head in his hands.

“Dean.” Castiel’s warm, rich voice was suddenly nearer to him, and he felt the sofa cushions shift. “Dean, please don’t be embarrassed. Look at me.”

Dean lowered his hands and met Castiel’s eyes.

“There you are. Listen, Dean, it bodes well that you were able to tell me these things. The more open and honest we are with each other, the better.” Castiel patted Dean’s arm gently and moved away again. “Now, let’s eat some of these lovely snacks that your Charlie has prepared. We wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings, would we?”

Dean drew a shaky breath and smiled. “We wouldn’t.” He followed Castiel over to the table and served himself some of the mini quiches.

“And after we have eaten, maybe she can accompany us for a walk in the garden out back. I think we could both do with a little fresh air.”

Chapter Text

After Castiel pressed the buzzer to summon Charlie, she burst back in the room like a jack-in-the-box. Dean had expected it, but Castiel was a bit startled.

“Oh! Ms. Bradbury! Dean and I have a request. We aren’t finished talking, but we’d like to have a bit of fresh air. Could you chaperone us in the garden for a little while?”

“Absolutely, Mr. Novak! I just wondered if I might have a quick word with Dean first. Paperwork, you know. There’s always something else to sign.” Charlie tugged Dean out the door and into the next empty meeting room. “I couldn’t get a good read on the situation. You guys seemed to be getting along, but it was hard to tell. Are you okay?”

“I’m okay. He seems like a good guy, I think.”

“And you’re fine with talking to him awhile longer? I can always go out there and tell him you’re indisposed, if you want me to.”

“No, don’t do that. I want to talk to him some more.”

Charlie looked him in the eye for several seconds and then nodded. “Okay. When we’re outdoors, I’ll give you guys some space, but I’ll be watching. Same rules apply; if you need out, rub your right ear.”

“Got it.”

It was sunny out in the garden, and just a touch warmer than Dean would’ve liked. They sat on a bench in the shade with Charlie just out of earshot.

Castiel took off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves. “You can ask me anything, you know.”

“Same here.”

Castiel smoothed his jacket and draped it over the back of the bench. “Tell me about Sam.”

Dean grinned. “Oh, man. Sam. That kid is something else. Learned to read when he was four, and it never stopped after that. Always reading, always wanting to learn something new. He wanted to do all the after school activities, you know. Chess club, school newspaper, drama club. Kept me busy dropping him off and picking him up.”

“I’d drive him around in my dad’s Impala. It felt like us against the world. We talked about everything. Problems he had in school, girls he liked.” Dean’s grin faded a bit. “I always felt so cool driving that car. Cooler that I really was. That was really the only time I had to myself--driving to get Sam or waiting on him somewhere.”

“Where’s Sam now?”

“Stanford. God, I was so proud of that kid. He came from practically nothing, and got into a great school like that. Dad was pissed, though. He wanted Sam to take over the family business.”

“That was the garage you worked at? Why didn’t you take it over?”

Dean shrugged. “I’m an omega.”

“Do you have a picture of Sam?”

Dean pulled out his wallet and extracted some tiny school photos of his brother. “Don’t let these fool ya. The little shit took quite the growth spurt over the past year. He’s way taller than me now.”

Castiel took the photographs carefully and studied them. As if he actually cared, Dean thought. “You don’t look a great deal alike, but I do see a family resemblance.” He hesitated. “Forgive my lack of tact, but what happened to your father?”

“S’okay, I don’t mind. Brain aneurysm. He didn’t even live long enough for Sam to get back home to see him.”

“I’m sorry, Dean.”

“Well, it wasn’t a total surprise. He wasn’t the healthiest guy; subsisted mostly on liquor and fried foods.”

“And your mother?”

“House fire. I was four.”

“Shit. I’m sorry again, Dean.” Castiel gave him a sympathetic look.

“No problem. Didn’t expect to hear you curse, though.” Dean laughed softly, then turned serious. “Can I…can I ask what happened to your mother?”

“You may. She had ovarian cancer.”

“I’m sorry, man.”

“It was difficult, but she was a very distant mother. She cared more about our achievements than she did her actual children, I think. At least, that’s how she acted. Who knows how she really felt.” Castiel leaned back on the bench and stretched his legs out in front of him. “It hit my father pretty hard, though. He never seemed the same after that. After I had been at the firm for about a year, he took some time off to travel. He told us he was going to Fiji, to a quiet resort without internet access. We never heard from him again.”

“What? No way. Did something happen or did he just decide to stay?”

“We hired a private detective to look into it. He found no signs of foul play. I can only assume that he doesn’t want to be found.”

Dean was amazed. “That’s a story from a movie or something! Nobody from my family ever did anything that interesting.”

Castiel laughed. “Interesting isn’t always good.”

“What about your other brother?”

“Gabriel? He’s two years older than me, and honestly, the best legal mind in the whole family.”

Dean frowned. “Then how come he didn’t take over the firm?”

“My father thought he wasn’t serious enough. But I suspect Gabriel prefers to be the power behind the throne, so to speak.” Castiel drummed his fingers on the park bench briefly. “I also have a sister, Anna. She works at the firm as an investigator. She’s very good at it, too. Some people don’t take omegas seriously, and she uses that to her advantage. Her husband is a partner in our firm--he’s the Milton of Novak Milton.”

“Did they meet at Select Omegas?”

“No, they met in college. Anna’s very independent.”

Dean was impressed. “Not many omegas go to college.”

“That’s starting to change, though. There’s an omega community college near my neighborhood.”

They sat in silence for a moment, watching a pigeon hop along the walkway. Dean cleared his throat. “So, you said I could ask anything.”

“I did.”

“Well, how does this dom/sub thing work? I know it’s different for everyone, but how would it work with us? Would I be, um, submissive to you all the time?”

“I’m not looking for someone to be a sub 24/7, no. I’m looking for someone to scene with--and not all scenes have to be sexual in nature, did you know that?--and then someone to spend the remainder of our time together as most partners do. Eating meals together, going on outings together, being physically affectionate with each other. I don’t want to suppress your personality or take away your free will, Dean.”

Dean nodded, and ran his fingernail over a crack in the bench.

“I do expect you to show respect for me as your husband and alpha, but I will also show respect for you. It’s a two-way street. If we embark on this journey together, I want you to be happy, Dean. Do you understand?”

“I think so. I’m still curious as to what sort of things we’d do during a scene.” Dean blushed. “I mean, Charlie and I saw some pretty weird shit. No offense.”

“None taken. What is desirable to one person may be unacceptable to another. That’s why starting a dom/sub relationship requires much discussion, so that all parties are comfortable and satisfied. As for us, if you choose to, we’ll progress to reviewing a contract. Anything that you don’t wish to do will be off the table, no questions asked.”

“I’m kinda glad to hear that. There are some things I wouldn’t be okay with.”

“I also have things I’m not okay with. And one more thing: even if you say yes to something initially, you are allowed to change your mind at any time. If you want to stop, we stop. No matter what.”

“All right. That makes me feel better.”

“I don’t want you to worry too much about any of this, Dean. If we decide to proceed, we’ll take things slow.”

Dean scrubbed one of his feet on the concrete walkway. “What’s the contract like?”

“Well, first we’ll agree on a set of rules that will guide our relationship, and define our goals and expectations. We’ll go over safewords and aftercare requirements. Then, we’ll review a list of potential activities, to determine our preferences and limits. If either one of us checks no on an activity, it gets taken off the table, so to speak.” Castiel made eye contact with Dean. “As I mentioned before, I practice what might be termed light or gentle bdsm. There will be no activities on the list that would be likely to cause you physical harm. Nothing too “out there”, you might say.”

Dean took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay, then.”

Castiel looked at him, almost shyly. “So you’d like to see me again?”

“Um, yeah. I would. I mean, if you want to see me again.”

“I would, Dean. You’re very intriguing. I’d love to spend more time with you now, in fact, but duty calls.”

Dean blushed. “I guess we should call Charlie over?”

“Of course.” Castiel motioned to her, and she popped up from her bench and made her way over. “This may be a bit unorthodox, Ms. Bradbury, but given the circumstances, I’d like Dean to have a way to contact me directly if he has questions. Maybe an email address?”

“I think that would be acceptable.” Charlie pulled a notepad and pen from her bag. Castiel wrote his address and handed the paper to Dean.

“Um, thanks. Just, there’s one problem. I don’t have an email account.”

Charlie and Castiel had matching expressions of shock. Finally, Charlie recovered enough to smile brightly. “No worries, Mr. Novak. I’ll help Dean set up an account, then he can email you!”

“I look forward to that. Dean, I’ve greatly enjoyed making your acquaintance. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.” Castiel extended his hand, and let Dean grasp it. “I hope to see you soon. Ms. Bradbury, I’ll be in contact.”

“I’m available anytime you need me, Mr. Novak. If you’re in a hurry, you might want to walk through the lobby quickly. If my manager sees you, she’ll have a lot to talk about.”

Castiel gave her a genuine smile. “I appreciate that, Ms. Bradbury.” He draped his jacket over his arm and headed back toward the building.

Dean’s eyes followed him until he disappeared through the door, then turned to Charlie.

“Hate to see him go, love to watch him walk away,” she quipped.

“Are you sure you’re a lesbian?”

“Again, Dean, just because I don’t want to sleep with Castiel Novak doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the most perfect ass I’ve ever seen.” She grabbed Dean’s arm and pulled him back to the bench. “Sit down. Let’s talk without my hag of a manager hovering over us. I’ll be honest, Dean. I couldn’t hear what you guys were saying, but you seem into each other.”

“He’s very…intense.”

“In a good way or a bad way?”

“Good. I think. He seems kind. He’s easy to talk to.”

Charlie frowned. “Do you want to continue? If you have any doubts at all, Dean, tell me. I’ll go in there right now and tell him to fuck off. Don’t think I won’t.”

Dean thought about never seeing Castiel again, and it made him feel empty inside. Deep in his bones, he knew that he was hooked. “I appreciate it, Charlie, I really do. But I’m gonna see this through. See where it leads.”

Charlie whistled. “So we’re really doing this, huh?”

“It appears that we are.”

“Well, let’s go get you a Gmail account set up. Normally at this stage direct communication between matches is verboten, but I think I’m right in allowing it in this case. You’ve got a lot of questions to ask, and not much time to do it in.”

Charlie’s manager waylaid them on the way back to her office, and was rather put out that Castiel had dodged her. She wanted to interrogate Dean, but Charlie told her they had a time-sensitive issue to take care of for Mr. Novak, and she finally let them go.

“Sooo, Dean. Why are you living in the 19th century, if you don’t mind my asking?”

Dean took out his ancient flip phone, and Charlie’s mouth dropped open. “This is all Dad would let me have. He thought if I had access to a smartphone or a computer, I’d start talking to alphas online.”

“I wondered why you only texted two or three words at a time. I thought you were just one of those people who didn’t like to text.”

“This thing’s getting pretty old, too. Doesn’t work right half the time. He would never let me upgrade it.”

Charlie pressed her mouth into a thin line. “That’s just dangerous, Dean! What if you got sick or in a car accident and your phone wouldn’t work? You’re getting a new phone tomorrow. I’ll stop on the way home and buy you one of those prepaid deals.”

“I can’t let you do that…”

“I wouldn’t be, it’d be the agency’s money. We have to have reliable contact with you. Honestly, now that our star client’s interested in you, they wouldn’t deny you anything, Dean.”

“In that case, okay.”

“All righty then. Now, what do you want your username to be?”

In half an hour, Dean was walking out to his car, a paper in his hand with his new email address and Castiel’s written on it. His ears were ringing from Charlie’s enthusiastic lecture on the benefits of two-factor authentication.

Too bad he couldn’t email Castiel until tomorrow, he mused. He stopped at a red light next to the Lawrence City Hall and stared out at the city government buildings. Of course! The library would have internet access. He turned into the parking lot on a whim and found the library entrance.

A kind, blue-haired omega librarian showed him to the computer lab and helped him log in. Dean stared at the screen. Now that he was here, he couldn’t decide what to ask Castiel.

Dear Castiel,
I hope you don’t mind me emailing you so quickly, but I wanted you to have my address.

I do have a question. There wasn’t much in Charlie’s research about aftercare, and I heard you mention it today. What does that usually include?

I hope you have a good evening.

Dean

He re-read the email and sighed. It seemed terribly stilted, but he didn’t know how to make it better. He hit send before he lost his nerve, then took a deep breath and started another new message. Buried in his wallet was a card with Sam’s contact info, including his Stanford email account.

Hey, Sammy! Guess who finally decided to join modern times. I hope you’re doing good and getting enough sleep.

Listen, I know we haven’t talked much since the funeral, but I wanted to run something by you. I know this might be a shock, but I’m thinking of selling the house and Dad’s garage. There’s just too many memories and it’s too hard being alone there.

Don’t worry, Benny and Andrea offered me a place to stay, and we can store your things until you come home for the summer.

I hope you understand. This means I’ll have money to live on, and you won’t have to worry so much about school expenses. Hope I hear from you soon.

Dean

He was probably a coward for telling Sam by email, but if they talked on the phone, the little smartass would be able to tell that Dean was lying. It was the best way.

Dean had hoped to get back home quickly, but the little blue-haired lady was waiting, and insisted he sign up for a library card. He didn’t have the heart to tell her no. By the time he left, he was carrying not only a brand-new library card, but a book on communication in alpha/omega relationships, and a spy novel. That librarian should have been a used-car salesperson, he grumbled to himself. At least he’d have something to distract him from his empty house.

He was even running short on food. Good thing he’d eaten at the agency, or his circumstances would be even more depressing. Dean scraped together a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and flopped down on the couch to read about how to relate to one’s alpha spouse.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Dean dreamed that he was wandering around in a palatial house--Castiel’s, he assumed--looking for someone, anyone. The house was empty, and his footsteps echoed in the silence. Once, he thought he heard Castiel’s voice in the next room, but when he rushed over the threshold, no one was there. Dean saw a movement from the corner of his eye, and whirled around to see himself reflected in a full-length mirror.

He was wearing a French maid’s uniform.

Dean awoke in shock, scrambling at the covers. When he looked down, he saw the same Zeppelin t-shirt he’d gone to bed in. Dean vaulted out of bed, grumbling. Stupid fuckin’ alpha getting in his head, making him dream crazy shit…

He might as well get dressed and go to the library. The thought that he might have an email waiting from either Castiel or Sam was driving him nuts, and he wouldn’t be able to get his new phone from Charlie until her lunchtime. Dean buttered and toasted a stale piece of bread to make it more palatable, and drank the last of the orange juice. He made a cup of instant coffee to pour into a travel mug, and was out the door.

The blue-haired lady smiled triumphantly as he sidled into the library. “Hello, dear. Back already?”

“Um, yeah. But not for a book. I didn’t finish those yet. Just to use the computer.”

She gestured to the next room. “That’s what they’re there for, hon. Let me know if you need any help.”

Great. A little old lady librarian knew more about computers than Dean. Maybe when he married an alpha, they’d let him have his own laptop or something. He sat down and logged into his account.

There was a welcome message from Gmail, and one each from Sam and Castiel. He held his breath and clicked on Sam’s first.

Dean,
It’s great to hear from you, man! I know we haven’t talked much lately, and I feel kinda bad about that. But now that you’re actually using technology, maybe we can talk more.

Listen, I’ll admit it’s a shock to think of selling the house and garage, but I thought about it overnight, and I actually think it might be for the best. You never had much of a social life, what with taking care of the house and cooking and working for Dad. Maybe this is a chance for you to start over and make a new life for yourself. And I have to admit that having a nest egg for us both to fall back on would make me worry less.

So I say, do what you think is right. I’m really sorry I can’t be there to help you, but call or email me anytime. I’ll do whatever I can from here.

Hang in there,
Sam

Dean felt a mixture of relief at Sam’s understanding, and guilt for lying to his brother. Well, it couldn’t be helped. Nothing could be allowed to risk Sam’s chance at success.

Now for Castiel’s message. He hovered over it for several seconds before he clicked.

Dean,

I was pleasantly surprised to see your message. I feared that you might make me wait--I’m glad you didn’t. I’ve thought about you several times this evening, and I’m eager to see you again, if you should wish it.

I can’t speak for other Doms, but I consider aftercare to be the most important part of a Dom/sub relationship. It is crucial to forming a bond and building trust between a Dom and their sub. No matter what activities are undertaken during a scene, after it concludes the sub must know that they are safe, supported, and cared for.

Proper aftercare is different for everyone--that’s why there would be a section in our contract dealing with that aspect. The only thing that I would specifically require is for you to drink juice and water after a scene to prevent dehydration, and to eat a small snack when you are able. I also never leave a sub’s side until I am absolutely certain that they are physically and emotionally ready.

Here are some other things which are sometimes done for subs as part of aftercare:
Being held/cuddling
Being wrapped in blankets or soft clothing
Massage
Having your hair stroked
Being praised and told how much you are valued
Watching a favorite TV show or movie
Being bathed/soaking in a warm bath
Being fed by the dominant

These are just off the top of my head; your needs may be different. You may want to engage in one or more of these activities, and your needs may change depending on the type of scene you participated in, or just how you’re feeling on a particular day. My job as a Dom is to make sure you have everything you need to feel safe and secure.

I hope very much that we can see each other soon, and talk more about this in person. Tomorrow is Saturday, and I normally have to work until 2-2:30 pm, but I would love to make a date with you after that. Would Saturday afternoon work for you? I would say evening, but Charlie needs to be present as a chaperone, and I hate to ask her to work so late on Saturday night. If this is suitable for you, I will call her and check her schedule.

Until then, Dean.

Castiel

P.S. Please feel free to email me anytime with more questions, if you like. I will check my inbox frequently.

Dean decided to reply immediately, even if it made him look too eager. He didn’t yet know when the house would be up for sale, but his money and food supply were running very low. If he didn’t find other living arrangements soon, he’d end up having to scrounge off Benny.

Castiel,
Saturday afternoon sounds great, just let me know what time and where to meet you. By the way, what will we be doing, so that I know what to wear?

I look forward to seeing you. I’m sure I’ll think of more questions before then.

Dean

With that task done, Dean realized that he had no idea what to do with the rest of his morning. It was only 9:45, and he wasn’t meeting Charlie at the agency until noon. He wandered around the library stacks aimlessly until he bumped into the librarian. “Excuse me, ma’am.”

“Call me Mildred, son. Listen, we’re having a computer class from 10:15 til 11:15. You should come.”

“Oh, I don’t know.”

“No reason to embarrassed for not knowing much about computers. Everyone in the class is in the same boat. Now, are you coming or not?”

Dean ended up in a class with ten retirees, learning about email, web searches, and social media. Even the instructor was in her sixties. He’d missed out on so much that everyone else his age knew. For the first time, he felt a wave of resentment toward his father.

The old people were nice, though. The instructor gave him a schedule of classes for the next month, and everyone encouraged him to come back. Maybe he would.

Best of all, it had killed enough time that he could go straight over to Select Omegas to meet Charlie. When he pulled into the parking lot, she was waiting on the sidewalk for him, bouncing up and down in her ballet flats. “Deeeaaannn!” She squealed, rushing over. “You’ve got a date! And I’m coming with!” She jumped into the passenger seat. “The deli around the corner, okay? I’ll give you the deets on the way there.”

Charlie reached over to turn off the classic rock station Dean had been listening to. “Tomorrow at three, Lawrence Country Club, in the Upstairs Dining Room. It’s a late lunch, so it won’t be formal attire, but you’ll still have to look sharp.”

“That’ll be a problem. What I wore the other day is as nice as it gets.”

“No worries! After lunch, you’re gonna come back with me and let Hannah get you fixed up. You can borrow the clothes for the weekend.”

Dean sighed with relief. “You’re a lifesaver, Charlie.”

Charlie further proved to be a lifesaver by insisting on using her expense account to pay for lunch. “So order whatever you want, Dean. You look hungry.”

“I just had a quick breakfast. Had some stuff to do.” Dean folded up the menu, having decided on a burger and fries. “I gotta say, I never thought I’d being hanging out at a country club.”

“Right? Mr. Novak kind of apologized for it, said it wasn’t really his favorite place. But seeing as he’s a member and all, he knew we’d get seated right away and it would be less stressful. AND he said I could bring a plus one! It’s too last minute to get a real date, so I’m bringing Kevin.”

“Really? That’s awesome! It’ll be, you know, less awkward with you two around.”

“Yeah. Kevin’s excited, too. All the big business deals go down there, you know, and that kid is really into networking. That’s the real reason he’s working at Select Omegas. Just waiting for an opportunity to come along.”

“I’m not sure my manners are up to a meal at the country club.”

“Don’t worry, just don’t chew with your mouth open and I’m sure you’ll be fine. From what I gather, lunch there is a lot less formal than dinner, and there probably won’t be a lot of people there mid-afternoon.”

Charlie chattered about office gossip until they got back to the agency, then turned serious. “Dean, I have to say, this guy seems really into you from what he’s saying. I think this could pan out for you. Just so you know. How do you feel about that?”

“Really nervous,” Dean admitted. “But also excited and happy and kinda warm inside.”

Charlie’s mouth dropped open. “Oh. Oh, wow. Sounds like this could work. I better warn Hannah to make you look both respectable AND hot.”

Dean wasn’t sure about the hot part, but Hannah certainly made him look like someone that regularly lunched at a club. “A navy blue blazer is classic, dear, and this shirt will go well with your eyes. Now, let’s find you some slacks.” Dean thought that the pair she chose were a little too tight-fitting, but Charlie overruled him.

“You go in wearing that, Dean, and there’s no way Castiel Novak will be able to stop himself from proposing to you soon. Trust me.”

Charlie gave him the new phone, which looked unnecessarily complicated, and walked him through texting and setting up his email.

“I feel bad taking up all your time, Charlie. Don’t you have other clients to see to?”

“As a matter of fact, no. The agency wants me to concentrate on you and Castiel only. If the most eligible bachelor in town finds his husband here, it’ll be the best advertising Select Omegas could ever hope for.”

Dean’s stomach lurched a bit. So much was riding on this. If he could just make it work, then both Sam and Charlie would be financially secure. That was what mattered, he reminded himself as he drove home, his borrowed outfit conspicuous in the worn back seat. He could get through anything, as long as Sam was safe.

He hung up the clothes in his bedroom carefully. The only iron he possessed had been purchased by his mother in the nineties, and it was prone to scorching nicer fabrics. Dean pulled out his new phone and opened his email. A message from Castiel was waiting.

Dear Dean,

I hope your day has been pleasant. I have spoken to Miss Charlie a few times today, and I find I like her more and more. She has such a zest for life, and she is quite loyal to you.

I suppose she has told you the details of our outing. I apologize for the rather stuffy location, but the staff at the club will take care of us and be discreet. I thought it would be preferable to an unfamiliar restaurant. I know you are probably nervous, so I thought I would tell you what to expect.

We will meet at the agency around 2:30, and my driver will take us to the club. We’ll have appetizers in the lounge, and conversation with Charlie and Kevin. Then we’ll move to separate tables in the dining room, so that you and I can have a bit more privacy.

Don’t worry too much, Dean. I would only suggest that you don’t have any alcoholic beverages. I usually have no problem with a having a drink or two, but I will be abstaining tomorrow as well. I think we should both be clear-headed and sober as we discuss our possible future.

I can hardly wait to see you. Sleep well.

Castiel

 

Chapter Text

Dean arrived at the agency just before two the next day, and eased the Cadillac into a shady parking spot. He wanted a few moments of quiet before everyone else arrived, to convince himself that he wasn’t going vomit from nervousness. What if he did that while in Castiel’s vehicle? That would go over well.

Every time he managed to clear his head, the aftercare list Castiel sent him had popped into his head, and he started to imagine having those things done to him. Specifically, having them done by Castiel. It was very distracting. He’d been able to sleep through the night, but only with the help of some Benadryl he’d found in the medicine cabinet. It was a couple years out of date, but it still did the job.

He only had about ten minutes of peace before Charlie bounced out of the side door of the building, Kevin in tow. “Dean! I thought I saw your pimp car out here. Get out and let us have a look at you!”

Charlie was wearing a modest floral dress and cardigan with sensible heels, and Kevin was wearing a pastel polo shirt with a tan blazer. The outfits were so different from their usual attire that Dean knew they must have borrowed them from the agency. “Look at you guys! Straight out of Pleasantville.”

“Look at you! Straight out of GQ. You ever thought about modeling, Dean?”

“Shut it, Charlie. I’m concentrating on not throwing up.”

“Nope, you’re gonna be fine. Look at me. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slowly but not too slowly. Watch.”

It did help, and Kevin was able to get him smiling by relating a story from one of Friday’s photo shoots. “So this girl thought it would be cute if she sat on the back of one of the benches outside, with her feet on the seat, you know? All casual and cool. But she leans back too far and the whole bench topples over! I nearly peed myself! Hannah had to find her new clothes and comb the grass out of her hair.”

“That’s mean, Kev! Poor girl could’ve been hurt.” Charlie tried to look disapproving, and failed.

“She was awful, Charlie! She said Star Wars was dumb.”

“I retract my earlier statement. She got what was coming to her.”

Dean saw a vehicle approaching out of the corner of his eye, and turned to look. “Fuck,” he whispered.

“What’s with you…oh.” A massive black SUV with tinted windows was pulling into the parking lot. “This is it,” Charlie murmured. “He’s a Russian mobster or something, and we’re all gonna be kidnapped.”

“Shut up, Charlie.” Kevin’s face was pale.

The vehicle rolled to a stop, and one of the doors opened to reveal Castiel smiling at them. “I was able to leave work a little early,” he explained. “Hop in.”

“Nice ride, dude,” Kevin squeaked.

“This? Company vehicle. I thought it’d be more roomy, since there are four of us.”

Dean took a seat in the middle row, next to Castiel, and Charlie and Kevin took the back seat. The driver pulled back out onto the street, and Dean felt a tinge of panic, like he was at a point of no return.

Castiel glanced at him and frowned slightly. “Do you need some air, Dean? I can lower a window.”

“No. Well, yes, I need air, but it’ll mess up everyone’s hair.”

“Good point. We’ll just turn the air conditioning up a bit.” Castiel opened the console between them and extracted a bottle of water from a tiny refrigerator. “Here you are, Dean. You look a bit pale.” Castiel swiveled in his seat to look back at the two betas. “Would either of you care for a drink?”

“A drink from your magical car fridge? Heck yes!”

Castiel reached two more waters to the back seat. “Ms. Bradbury, you look lovely.”

“I know, right? I look like a PTA mom. Listen, no more of this Ms. Bradbury stuff. When we’re outside the agency, we’re Charlie and Kevin.”

“Very well. Then I’d also like both of you to call me Castiel. Every time someone calls me Mr. Novak, I look over my shoulder for my father.” He turned back to Dean. “It’s so good to see you. Have you been well?”

“I’ve been okay. You?”

“Anxious, actually. I could hardly concentrate at work this morning, in anticipation of seeing you again.”

Dean was floored. “Why would you be anxious? I mean, I’ve been nervous as hell, but I’m me and…you’re you.”

“I was anxious because I very much want this to go well. I want you to have a good time and be comfortable. I want you to like me, Dean.” Castiel stretched a hand across the console, and Dean took it.

It was weird to be sitting there holding hands with an alpha he barely knew, but Dean found that it calmed him. He took deep breaths and waited for when Castiel would pull his hand away, but he didn’t, not until the driver pulled up to the club entrance. Dean reached for his door handle, but Castiel shook his head slightly, so Dean stayed put. Castiel strode quickly around the back of the SUV and opened his door, giving Dean a hand to steady him.

Castiel again didn’t let go of his hand as they entered the club and were shown to the lounge.

 

“No, no, no. You’ve GOT to be kidding me, Castiel. The famous attorney, Gabriel Novak, once broke his nose in a hot tub accident?” Charlie was aghast.

“How did he even manage that?” Kevin added skeptically.

“Well, I was 18 and he was 20. I followed Gabe everywhere at the time, and we had rented a luxury cabin in the mountains for New Year’s. There he was on the other side of the hot tub, a girl on each arm. We were all quite inebriated, of course.”

“You didn’t have any girlfriends with you?” Charlie teased.

“At that time I was extremely skinny and had an unfortunate haircut. So, no. No girls for me. Gabriel decided that everyone should have more drinks, and he hoisted himself up to sit on the edge of the tub, lost his balance, and fell over. He turned a somersault on the way down and landed on his face.”

“Oooohhhh,” Kevin and Charlie yelled simultaneously. They were getting a bit noisy, but they were the only group in the lounge, and Castiel didn’t seem to mind. He had, in fact, encouraged them to order whatever they wished, and both betas had downed two cocktails already.

“Gabe, however, was never one to ruin everyone else’s good time. So he jumped up from where he was lying on the deck and yelled that he was just fine. You know, as blood was streaming down his face. I encouraged him to go inside and clean up, but as he was walking toward the door, he slipped on a patch of ice. He ended up with a knot on the back of his head as well.”

Charlie gasped. “Was he okay? Did you guys take him to the hospital?”

“Oh, no. He washed his face, got another drink, and rejoined the party. The next morning when he got up and stumbled to the bathroom he was pretty freaked out--you see, he didn’t remember any of it, so he didn’t know why his face was black and blue.” Castiel took a sip of his sparkling water and smiled at Dean.

A smiling, blonde-haired beta approached their group. “Mr. Novak, we’ll take you and your guests to your tables in about ten minutes, if that will be acceptable?”

“Of course, Emily. Thank you.”

Charlie reached for her purse. “I’d better go to the ladies and freshen up real quick.”

Kevin stood as well. “Me, too. Well, not the ladies room. You know what I mean. All that water.”

“That’s what you get for drinking two bottles from the magical car fridge,” Dean heard Charlie tell him as they walked away.

In the sudden silence, Dean cleared his throat and fidgeted in his seat. Castiel gave him a reassuring smile. “Dean, before they get back, I want to ask you a question. Would it be all right if I tried a little demonstration with you? Don’t worry, it won’t be frightening or embarrassing, in fact, no one else will know. I just didn’t want to catch you off guard. Would you trust me with that?”

Dean’s heart began to pound. “Yes,” he heard himself say. “Okay.”

“Good.” Cas leaned back in his seat and took another sip of water, apparently unaware of Dean’s inner turmoil.

After Charlie and Kevin returned from the restroom, Emily came to show them to their table. Charlie gave Dean a little wave and a whispered “good luck” as they left.

Castiel leaned forward and looked directly into Dean’s eyes. “Our table is the one in the opposite corner. I requested it specifically for reasons of privacy. I would like you to get up right now, walk to the table, and sit in the chair facing the window. Fold your hands in your lap and remain perfectly still until I tell you to move.”

Dean could not have explained why, but it never would have occurred to him not to do exactly as he said. As soon as Castiel asked it, Dean’s body was automatically moving to obey the command.

He should have been nervous, crossing a room alone with nicely dressed strangers giving him curious looks, but he was calm. Castiel had told him to do this, and therefore it must be the right thing to do. He sat in the requested chair, and put his hands in his lap. Being perfectly still was for once no hardship.

He sat for what he reckoned to be about two minutes before he smelled Castiel’s whiskey-chocolate scent and felt his warm breath near his ear. “Very good,” the alpha whispered. “Perfect. You can move now.”

Dean smiled uncertainly as Castiel took the seat across the table. “It was easy.”

“It’s not that easy for everyone, believe me. But more importantly, how did you feel?”

“It felt right,” Dean answered immediately. “It felt like something I’d been waiting for.”

Castiel smiled with delight. “It did, didn’t it? Dean, you are such a surprise. I’ve never met anyone who intrigues me the way you do.”

Dean fiddled with the tablecloth. “There’s not a lot that’s interesting about me.”

“That is most certainly not true.” Castiel gazed directly at Dean until he was able to make eye contact. “Now that I feel like we’ve broken the ice a bit, I hope we can both talk freely and say whatever is on our minds.”

“Would you make me wear a French maid’s outfit?” Dean blurted out.

Castiel’s grin widened. “I hadn’t thought of that. You might look quite nice in one.”

Dean’s eyes widened. “Are you serious?”

“I’m teasing you. You know, you’d have the opportunity to veto any item of clothing I asked you to wear.”

“Really?”

“Really. Dean, my aim is to encourage you to indulge in your most secret desires. To make you feel the most exquisite pleasure, and then provide you with a soft place to land. I don’t want to coerce you into anything you truly don’t want.”

“So what would I be wearing?”

“If we decide to enter contract negotiations, we’ll talk more about that. But I will say that I would want you to feel comfortable and safe at all times.”

“Okay. I think I can live with that. What about eating? I read that some dominants control everything their subs eat. That they can only eat certain things, or not go over a certain amount of calories.”

“I have no wish to control what you eat, Dean. Or your exercise regimen, such as that may be. If you’re happy, I’m happy. If I saw that you were in a self-destructive pattern that was harming your health, such as dieting excessively, I would of course try to intervene.” Castiel drummed his fingers on the table thoughtfully. “There could be instances in which we used food during a scene, but of course, we’d discuss that in the contract as well.”

“So even if I gained weight, you wouldn’t mind?”

“On the contrary, I think you need to gain some weight. You’re quite thin.” Castiel hesitated. “I know this is a delicate subject, but I have to ask. When Charlie called to discuss our plans for this afternoon, she was very insistent about a meal being included. At first I thought that she just wanted to be taken to a fancy restaurant, but then she let it slip that she had bought you a new cell phone because your old one was unreliable. I realized that she was, in fact, trying to look after you.”

Dean flushed and looked down at his lap.

“No, please look at me. Dean, do you have enough to eat at home? I had trouble going to sleep last night, thinking that you might be going hungry.”

Dean opened his mouth to say that everything was fine, and he had plenty of food at home, but he found that he couldn’t. For some reason, he was incapable of lying to Castiel. “I’m low on money,” he admitted. “I’m trying to save what I have for gas to get back and forth to the agency. So I don’t have much to eat at home, no. But Charlie bought me lunch yesterday, so it wasn’t so bad.”

“Ah, here comes Emily.” Castiel smiled at her. “Sparkling water for me, please. Dean, would you like another Coke?”

Dean wasn’t sure that Coke was the proper beverage for a meal this fancy, but it was what he wanted, and if Castiel had mentioned it, it must be acceptable. He nodded, and Emily scurried away.

“I didn’t know that you were in such a bad situation. I’m sorry. I’ll try to help you, if you’ll allow me.”

Somehow, even this reassurance made Dean feel lighter, and he smiled at Castiel. “You’re already helping. You’re buying me dinner.”

“I suppose so. Well. Now I have another question for you. What did you think of the information I sent you in my last email?”

“On aftercare? I have to admit I’m suspicious of it. Is that something people actually do? It seems too good to be true.”

“Aftercare is absolutely mandatory, Dean.”

Dean was sure he was blushing again. “Well, it sounds really nice. I never thought I could have anything like that.”

“You don’t think you deserve good things?” Castiel tilted his head and looked at Dean questioningly. “Physical affection and loving reassurance should be a regular part of any relationship, whether or not submission is involved.”

“I’ve never had any experience with that,” Dean admitted.

“Should we become a couple, I will make sure you experience that on a daily basis. You deserve no less.” Castiel moved his hand across the table, as if to touch Dean, then seemed to think better of it and pulled it back. “We should decide on what to eat before Emily gets back.”

“I haven’t seen a menu.”

“They don’t really have one. They have a few regular items and some specials that change depending on the season. What do think you would like to eat? The chef here could probably manage most anything you requested.”

“Steak,” Dean told him firmly. If he were going to eat at a restaurant this nice, he was going to get the steak, by God.

“The filet here is truly excellent. I’ll probably have that myself. It usually comes with some sort of potato dish and something green.”

“Sounds fine to me. Better than fine.”

Castiel gestured, and Emily came over immediately. Dean realized that she had probably been assigned to wait on their party exclusively. “Emily, I will have the filet, medium rare, please. Dean?”

“Filet, medium. Thank you.”

“We’ll get that started right away, gentlemen. And I’ll bring some bread.”

“Hallelujah,” Dean interjected, before he could help himself. Both Emily and Castiel laughed, so he must not have embarrassed himself too much.

Castiel reached across the table again, and this time Dean took his hand. “I’m glad you can relax a bit around me, Dean. I want to get to know the real you.”

“Can I just say that I’m really relieved that we’re talking about things? You know, important things. I think if I’d had to sit here all through dinner and make polite small talk, I might’ve exploded.”

“Dean, as lovely as you are, if we don’t agree on the fundamental things, there’s no reason for us to waste each other’s time. I’m very serious about this process. As are you, I think.”

Dean nodded. “I don’t guess you’ll be surprised if I tell you that I need this to happen as soon as possible. I’m kind of desperate, financially speaking.”

Castiel squeezed his hand. “In that case, I’m so glad I found you before you committed to another alpha. I really believe that I could make you happy, Dean. Truly happy, not just comfortable financially.”

“I’m glad I met you, too. I’d only met two alphas before you. One was horrible; the other was okay. It felt weird to think of marrying him, but I could have stood it. He was kind of cool. Had a British accent and lots of cars.”

Castiel gave him a hard look. “Mick Davies, right? He’s a client of mine. Dean, had you married and mated him, I have no doubt he would have been kind to you and you would have wanted for nothing financially. But Gabriel tells me that Mick frequents a local alpha gentleman’s club several nights a week. I think he would be unlikely to stop that behavior completely even if he were married.”

Even though Dean had barely known Mick, this information made him feel slightly faint. He imagined night after night of waiting for his husband to come home, knowing he was out enjoying the company of other omegas.

“You deserve the full attention and affection of your alpha, Dean. Not benign neglect.” Castiel patted Dean’s hand and released it. “Now, let’s eat and enjoy ourselves. I want you to tell me the craziest thing you and Sam ever did when you were kids.”

Chapter Text

Dean certainly hoped that the whole marrying Castiel thing worked out, because the filet he was eating had ruined him from any other steak. He couldn’t stop himself from moaning softly, and Castiel grinned at him.

“Good?”

“I’ve never had a steak like this. It’s fantastic.” Dean stuffed his mouth with another large bite.

“I’m really glad you’re enjoying it.” Castiel’s words didn’t sound like mere politeness; he really seemed to mean it. “Tell me, Dean, what do you like to do for fun? You mentioned watching sci-fi, but is there anything else you might like to do?”

Dean finished his bite of steak, chewing slowly to give himself time to think. “I haven’t had a chance to do many fun things, really. Um, I like being outdoors. Dad didn’t like for me to go out alone so I was cooped up in the house a lot. We didn’t live in the greatest neighborhood, and he was afraid I’d get hurt. A few times he took Sammy and me to the park and we went swimming. We had a blast.”

Castiel’s face lit up. “I have a large backyard with a pool! I don’t use it much, but perhaps you could take advantage of it.”

Dean felt unexpectedly touched; Castiel was actually happy that he had something that Dean might enjoy. “That’d be nice. I haven’t been swimming in years. I was a pretty good swimmer, back in the day.” He cut another bite of steak. “So when you’re not at work, what do you do? To relax, or whatever.”

“Oh, I’m rather boring, I’m afraid. I like sleeping in when I can, and relaxing at home. Oh, and I work out daily. I have a home gym.”

Of course he did. A guy couldn’t be that ripped without exercising daily. “I like sleeping in, too.” Dean smiled shyly, finding that he enjoyed the thought of sleeping in with Castiel. “What’s your house like?”

“I live in a gated community, not too far from my work. It’s very safe there, so you’d have no worries about walking around outdoors. My home isn’t huge, but it’s pretty spacious. Plenty room enough for two. I have very nice kitchen that only my housekeeper uses. And a big screen TV. You might enjoy that.”

Dean suddenly thought of something, and felt a cold shiver run down his back. Castiel put down his fork, concerned. “What did you just think of, Dean? Please tell me.”

“Do you have a…a dungeon?” Dean stuttered.

“Oh, Dean. No. Nothing like that. I think you may have been reading too much about heavy BDSM. No, I just have regular rooms. It’s a very normal house.” Castiel hesitated. “Would you like to see my house? It might make you feel better. You and Charlie could come over for lunch.”

Dean shook his head. “I don’t have to see it, I’m sure it’s much better than where I live now.” He couldn’t draw this courtship out too long or he’d be living on the street. “I just thought of that and got worried, is all.”

“Please don’t worry. I want my house be a safe and welcoming place for you. There’s nothing scary in it, I promise.”

Dean smiled tentatively. “Okay.” One more worry lurked at the back of his mind. “Can I ask you one more thing?”

“Anything.”

“What are you wanting as far as…kids? One of the other alphas I spoke to was really into having lots of children and I, uh, just wanted to know what would be expected of me.”

“Well, actually, children are not something I want right now. I like them--I have a niece and a nephew who are wonderful--but I don’t really want any of my own.”

Dean breathed a sigh of relief. “That’s fine. I feel like I’ve already done my time raising Sam, anyway.”

Castiel tilted his head. “So you really were more like a parent to him than a brother.”

“I guess. I was all he had, you know? Dad was…busy. I cooked for him, did his laundry, helped him with his homework til he got too advanced for me. Not that he needed much help. All I had to do was support him while he did his thing.”

“And he got accepted to Stanford? He’s a credit to you. And don’t say you had nothing to do with it, Dean. There’s no way he could have done this on his own.”

Dean shrugged. “He was so happy when the acceptance came. Then the next day, reality hit. He knew it was out of reach for us. I’ve never seen him so despondent; I couldn’t stand it. He had gotten some scholarships, and I told him to take out student loans for the rest and we’d figure it out somehow. His face just lit up. He was so relieved, he’d been wanting to get out our house and out of Lawrence since he was twelve. Sam…he’s meant for better things.”

Castiel looked at him searchingly. “And you’re not?”

He frowned. “I’m just Dean.”

“And I, for one, happen to think quite highly of you.”

Dean blushed. “I have no idea why, but I’m glad you do.”

“I wish you could truly see yourself. How beautiful you are, for one thing, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. You are unfailingly loyal, and you inspire loyalty in others. Look at Charlie and even Kevin. They haven’t known you for very long, but they both clearly care about you. Charlie would probably help you dispose of a body, if you asked.”

Dean chuckled. “She probably would, if only for the excitement of it.”

“I am a sharp judge of character, Dean--I wouldn’t be in the position I am if I weren't. And I can see that your heart is pure and righteous. You deserve safety, protection, affection. All the good things.”

Dean lifted his hands in a gesture of futility. “I still can’t understand what you’d see in me, but I’m not going to argue with you.”

“Good. It’s unwise to argue with a lawyer.” Castiel winked at him.

They finished their meals in a companionable silence, and Dean was relieved. The food was so delicious, and he couldn’t appreciate it while distracted by Castiel’s deep voice and fine words. He finished everything on his plate, even the grilled asparagus--he figured it had been a while since he’d had access to a green vegetable. He might be getting some kind of vitamin deficiency.

The plates were whisked away, and Emily returned, smiling. “Gentlemen, the desserts tonight are molten chocolate cake with a scoop of ginger-vanilla bean ice cream, and a bourbon-pecan pie with whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce. Any takers?”

“None for me, thank you. Dean?”

Dean was conflicted. “I’m so full, I don’t think I can eat another bite. But, I really love pie. Like, really love it. And pecan’s my favorite.”

“Well, there’s an easy solution. Emily, one slice of pecan pie to go. Make it two, actually. In the same box, please. Oh, and how are our other guests doing?”

Emily’s professional facade slipped a bit, and she grinned. “They’re having a marvelous time, I think. The young man is on his fifth cocktail, the redhead on her sixth. They’re sharing a molten chocolate cake as we speak.”

Castiel returned her grin. “Excellent. Tell them we’re getting ready to go pretty soon. And thank you, Emily. Everything was wonderful, as usual.”

Dean waited for Castiel to sign the check, purposely not looking across the table. He didn’t even want to know what this evening had cost. Emily brought him the slices of pie safely enclosed in a bag emblazoned with the country club logo, and they all began the task of relocating the two tipsy betas to the car.

“Dean!” Charlie shrieked when they were reunited. “I have a new sexuality. My new sexuality is molten chocolate cake with ice cream. I think I’ve wasted my life.”

Kevin told Castiel earnestly that he felt the secret to happiness lay in eating more sugar. “They call them simple sugars, because life should be simple! What’s easier to digest than something simple?”

“Many people say the exact opposite,” Castiel replied kindly.

“Because they’re paid by the government. They want to keep all the sugar for themselves,” Kevin whispered loudly, as Charlie nodded in agreement.

Emily suggested they use the service elevator, as clearly neither Charlie or Kevin could handle the stairs, and the guest elevator was currently packed with members coming in for a Saturday evening dinner. They made it through the entrance without incident, but then Charlie ran onto the nearby lawn, arms outstretched, making airplane noises. Kevin quickly followed suit.

Emily put her hand over her mouth, clearly trying not to smile, but when Castiel snickered, all three of them lost it entirely. Dean laughed so hard, he could barely breathe. It wasn’t really THAT funny, but the stress of wanting the evening to go well had made them all a bit hysterical.

When Emily regained her composure, she nodded briskly. “Leave this to me. I have three younger brothers.” She strode off onto the lawn, calling out, “Shuttle to the airport this way! All airplanes please follow me!”

She had them loaded in the SUV in short order. Castiel wiped a tear of mirth from his eye and handed Emily something that looked suspiciously like a hundred dollar bill. “You go above and beyond, as always. Thank you.”

Emily gave him a mock salute. “At your service, Mr. Novak.” The driver got back into the vehicle, and they pulled away.

Castiel got out his phone. “I suppose I should have asked her about a taxi. They clearly can’t drive. Or I could just have the driver drop them off before he takes me home.”

“They live on the other side of town. That would put you pretty late getting home.” Dean hesitated. “You could have the driver take them, and I could take you home in my car.” It was a stupid idea, probably, but Dean found himself not wanting to be separated from Castiel just yet.

Castiel nodded solemnly. “This sounds like a very sensible idea. I approve.” Dean’s heart skipped a beat. Maybe Castiel didn’t want to leave him yet, either. By the time they reached the agency, Charlie had decided that Kevin should crash at her house for the night. Dean made them promise to text him when they got home safely, and the black SUV sped off into the evening, leaving him alone in the parking lot with Castiel.

Now that it was too late, Dean felt embarrassed that he’d asked Castiel to ride in the old Cadillac. Well, it couldn’t be helped. He didn’t meet Castiel’s eyes as they walked over to the car.

“I was expecting an Impala.” Castiel ran a gentle hand over the hood of the Cadillac.

“Yeah, well. The Impala’s getting sold on the courthouse steps, as the old saying goes, along with the rest of my dad’s shit. So we’re stuck with old Bessie here.”

“I like her,” Castiel said unexpectedly. “She has character.” He stroked his hand over the side panel, which made Dean feel a flush of heat. A car. He was jealous of a car. Castiel looked him in the eye, and his gaze felt soft, somehow. “I’m sorry for your troubles, Dean.”

“Not your fault. It’s just that it was unexpected. Dad never told me anything about his finances.” He forced himself to smile. “Hey, I know you probably got things to do, but I know a great place to watch the sunset. I mean, if…”

“I’d love to watch the sunset with you, Dean.” Castiel opened the passenger door and slid into the Cadillac gracefully. “Where are we going?”

Dean hopped into the driver’s seat in record time and fired up the engine. “Out at the lake, you can park at the dam and watch the sunset over the water. I did it a few times while I was waiting for Sammy to finish soccer practice.”

“Ah. Was he a good athlete?”

“He was pretty terrible at soccer, especially once he started his growth spurt. But he thought it would make his resume look more well-rounded.” Dean reached for the radio knob. “Do you mind if…”

“Not at all.” The sounds of Bob Seger filled the car, and Castiel tapped his fingers on the door panel to the beat. Dean pulled out onto the highway, and they sped toward the lake as he hummed along to “Night Moves”.

“You’re a very good driver.”

“Um, thanks. I guess.”

“I only mention it because I loathe driving. That’s why I have a driver. Plus I can work or read while they drive.”

“So if we were together, I’d get to drive? Man, I can deal with that.” Dean grinned and stepped on the gas.

The view was just as good as he’d remembered, and they both watched the sun sink into the water in silence. Castiel reached across the seat for Dean’s hand, and Dean interlaced his fingers with Castiel’s. It felt easy, Dean thought. It felt right.

Dean finally spoke. “I hate to admit this, but I’m starting to get hungry again.”

Castiel laughed. “You’re insatiable. Good thing we have pie.” He rummaged around in the back seat for the bag and pulled out the container. “She even gave us forks and napkins.”

Dean reached his hand out, and was met by a sly smile from Castiel. “Would you allow me to feed it to you?”

Dean’s mouth went dry.

Castiel looked concerned. “Is that all right? I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.”

“Yes. Yes. It’s fine. All right. Very all right.”

“Good. Because I was thinking of this on the drive over, and I’m very much looking forward to it.” Castiel cut off a bite of pie with the plastic fork and extended it toward Dean, who automatically leaned forward and opened his mouth.

“So eager, hmm? Be patient, Dean.” Castiel moved the fork with almost imperceptible slowness, and finally slid it between Dean’s waiting lips. Dean was unsure how much of the resulting rush of pleasure was due to the most delicious pie he’d ever eaten, and how much was due to Castiel’s attention.

“Do you like it? The pie, I mean.”

Dean swallowed, hard. “It’s the best pie I’ve ever had.”

“Good. I see you were telling the truth; you really like pie. It reminds me of you. Do you know what your scent is, Dean? Has anyone ever told you?” Castiel fed him another bite, and Dean shook his head. If anyone had ever been attracted enough to him to get the full range of his scent, they hadn’t said anything. “It’s bourbon and vanilla and brown sugar.”

Dean snorted. “I sound delicious.”

“You are delicious. What do I smell like to you?”

“Whiskey and dark chocolate,” Dean mumbled, just before receiving another bite.

“Hmm. I sound delicious, too. Would you like some of the whipped cream?”

“Yes, please.” Castiel liked that he said please, Dean could tell. He dragged his index finger through the whipped cream and held it out to Dean.

“Go ahead.”

Dean opened his mouth and wrapped his lips around Castiel’s finger, sucking at the whipped cream until it was gone.

“Very good, Dean. You know, I think we should have this pie often.” Castiel fed him a slightly larger bite, and Dean’s mouth was too full to respond with anything but a nod.

“Aren’t you going to eat any?” Dean mumbled after a few more bites.

“Oh, I enjoy watching you far more. The last bit is always the best, don’t you think? The bites with all the crust. So flaky.” Castiel picked up the last piece with his fingers and offered it to Dean. It was a big bite, almost too big, and Dean’s mouth was stuffed with incredible flaky, pecan-y goodness. He closed his eyes and savored it.

When he surfaced again, fluttering his eyelids, he found Castiel staring directly at him. “How did you like that, Dean?”

“Yes. I mean, incredible. I liked it a lot,” Dean stammered.

“I thought you might. Dean, I have to be frank with you. You’re just what I’ve been looking for, and I think we’ll be very compatible. I don’t see a need to draw this out much longer, as we both know exactly what we want. If you are agreeable, I propose that we enter contract negotiations as soon as possible.”

Dean laughed, and Castiel quirked an eyebrow. “You’re such a lawyer. But yes, I agree. Could we do it tomorrow?”

“I can do that. I don’t have to work Sundays, unless something urgent comes up. We can use one of the meeting rooms at the agency. I do hate for Charlie to have to come in on her day off, especially after an evening like she’s had.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much, dude. She does stand to make $100,000 from this, after all.”

“Good point.”

“I have to ask, since I brought it up. A million dollars, dude? For me? What the hell?”

“Yes, a million dollars. I needed to find a partner with a specific set of attributes, and I wanted all parties involved to know that I was very serious. I wanted the agency to take my requests seriously. I wanted the omega I was interested in to feel valued, and I wanted their family to feel properly compensated.” Castiel slid his hand toward Dean again, as if he couldn’t stand to feel too separated. “Dean, it’s not uncommon for my associates to spend 10 to 15 million on a house and property. Maybe more. But a bigger, more lavish house cannot make you happier the way that a beloved partner can. As long as I have a nice house, how much nicer does it need to be? I’d rather spend my money on something that matters.”

“Well, in that case my only question is why you’re not paying more.” Dean grinned. “I’m kidding, Castiel.”

“I wanted to make sure I’d have plenty of money left to spoil you with.”

“Oh. Yes. Also very important.”

“Well, as badly as I hate for our evening to end, you had better take me home. I have a lot to do to get ready for tomorrow.”

Dean felt a wave of anxiety. “Do I need to do anything?”

“You need to remain calm. Remember that this is a negotiation and you shouldn’t agree to anything you don’t want.” Castiel regarded him thoughtfully. “When you get home, I have a homework assignment for you. Can you do that?”

“Sure. I think.”

“You’ve been doing some research, correct? I want you to get three sheets of paper. On the first sheet, write down the things you’ve read about that especially interest you. I don’t want you to think about what I might want, only what you are excited about doing yourself, no matter how small or inconsequential it might seem.”

Dean nodded. “Okay. Got it.”

“On the second sheet, I want you to write down anything that you do NOT want to do. Keep in mind that certain things are already off the table, as I mentioned the other day. Just try to think of things that might not be obvious, but that you want to be sure we don’t do. If writing them down bothers you, use abbreviations of some kind. The point is to make sure that you don’t forget anything that we need to address. Oh, and please list any serious injuries you’ve had as well.”

“I understand.”

“For the third paper, I want you to think about aftercare and what you would like to happen during that stage. Don’t overthink this one. Don’t worry about your needs seeming silly or unnecessary. I want you to have exactly what you want and need, okay?”

Dean nodded. He felt a little better now that he had a task to do, something to occupy the time until tomorrow. “I can do that.”

“Good. Now, when you get out to the highway, you’ll want to take a left.”

Castiel’s directions took him to the better part of town, where Dean had spent very little time. He’d been driven through there a few times on school field trips. Eventually they pulled up to a gate with a security guard, who stepped down from the booth and peered into the driver’s side window with narrowed eyes. Castiel gave him a little wave.

“Oh! Mr. Novak! You’ll have to excuse me, I didn’t recognize your…vehicle.” The guard waved them on through, and they passed a row of condos and a large decorative fountain.

“Next right, then second on the left.”

Dean pulled up to the house and stared through the window. “I thought you said your house wasn’t huge.”

“It’s only 6,000 square feet.” Dean glared at him, and Castiel confessed, “Well, a little over 6,000.” He reached over to squeeze Dean’s hand. “I’d love to invite you in, but I suppose that would be really improper. So I guess it’s good night.” Castiel kissed Dean’s hand softly and opened the car door.

“See you tomorrow,” Dean managed.

Castiel leaned down to look through the open door, smiling. “Until tomorrow.” Dean watched Castiel until he disappeared into the brightness of the big house before he drove away.

Chapter Text

Dean pulled into his driveway and immediately picked up his phone, eager to find out if Charlie and Kevin had made it home safely. Charlie soon texted back that they were eating popcorn, binge watching The Librarians, and “plotting world domination”. Dean laughed softly, and reached for the door handle.

Wait. The country club bag was still sitting on the passenger side seat; Cas evidently wanted him to have the other slice of pie as well. Dean peeked inside the bag and noticed a small envelope.

Inside was a Dillons gift card. Dean breathed a sigh of relief. Now tomorrow morning was set; he could have pie for breakfast and then use the gift card to fill the Cadillac with gas on the way to the agency. He usually preferred to buy gas at the locally owned station down the street--they had always been tolerant of him and Sam hanging around there when they were kids--but he had to admit it was a practical gift.

He slid the card back into the envelope and flipped it over to find a phone number written on it with a firm hand. My cell number, was scribbled beneath. Feel free to contact me anytime.

Dean couldn’t resist. He entered the number and immediately sent a text.

Hi. Made it home okay.

He didn’t have to wait very long for a reply. Dean? I’m so glad you texted. I’d hoped you would.

Hey, thanks for the gift card. You didn’t have to, you know.

Oh, good, you found it. It’s not much, but I hope it helps. I had a wonderful time with you tonight, by the way.

Yeah, me too.

Charlie and Kevin get home okay?

Yeah, they did. Crazy asses.

They seemed to have a good time. Listen, Dean, did I move too fast on the contract? The last thing I want to do is make you uncomfortable.

No, man, not at all. I mean, I’m nervous, but I’d rather not put it off.

Everything is going to be all right, Dean. Just concentrate on your lists, okay? And try to get some sleep.

Okay. What time are we going to meet?

I guess I’ll have to text Charlie and arrange it, but let’s say noon. That’ll give her a chance to sleep in. And I’ll have lunch delivered, so nobody has to worry about that.

Okay, Castiel. See you tomorrow.

It took Dean a minute to locate sheets of paper, as most of his things were packed already. He finally found a wire-bound composition book, half-filled with calculations from Sam’s long-ago algebra homework. He tried to find a pencil, in case he needed to erase something and start over, but he only had a pen emblazoned with the name of his father’s garage. Well, he’d just have to re-copy his lists if he messed them up too badly. Dean flopped down on the sofa, turned on the TV for background noise, and began to write.

The next morning, Dean pulled into the gas pumps at Dillons. He wasn’t sure if he could pay by gift card at the pump, so he took it over to the cashier to pre-pay. “Thirty of gas on pump three,” he told the attendant. “Hey, just out of curiosity, how much is left on the card?”

He swiped the card and whistled. “Four hundred and seventy dollars, man.” He squinted at Dean. “What’d you do, steal it?”

“Nope. Just got lucky, I guess.” Dean walked back to the gas pump, shaking his head.

He made to the agency precisely five minutes before Charlie, who exited her Prius wearing the biggest sunglasses Dean had ever seen, and black sweats. “Don’t say anything, Dean, we have to get inside ASAP. The sun is burning my retinas, and I need about a gallon of coffee.”

“After you, ma’am.”

As they crossed the parking lot, a black Lexus pulled up. “Who’s that? Oh, wait, don’t tell me. It’s your Russian mobster suitor in one of his many black vehicles.”

“I believe you’re right.”

Unlike Charlie, Castiel practically bounded out of his car. “I know I’m early, but it looks like I have good timing. Miss Charlie, how are you holding up?”

“If we don’t get indoors pretty soon, my eyeballs may spontaneously combust.”

“That good, eh? Well, I’ve ordered food, if you’re able to eat anything. Breakfast burritos and doughnuts from Wake the Dead.”

Charlie placed a hand over her heart. “Dean, I’m sorry. Lesbian or not, I am going to marry Castiel.”

Dean frowned. “What’s Wake the Dead?”

“It’s the most wonderful funky breakfast place. They even have a breakfast sandwich called The Death Star. Oh my God. Are they bringing coffee?”

“What am I, a heathen?” Castiel gave Charlie his arm and started to escort her inside, turning back to wink at Dean. “Now, Charlie, after we eat, feel free to dim the lights and lie down in one of the other visiting rooms. Dean and I can behave ourselves, I assure you.”

“If I get a Unicorn doughnut out of the deal, I don’t mind if the two of you bang in my manager’s office. Wait, did I say that out loud?”

“I didn’t hear a thing. I gave them your cell number so you could let them in when they get here. I hope that’s okay.”

“Peachy. I’ll knock when the food gets here. You guys can use the largest room, here at the end of the hall.”

Castiel nodded. “Lead the way, Dean. We’ll chat a bit until our food arrives.”

Dean headed toward the visiting room, acutely aware that Castiel was walking at least a couple of paces behind him. Was he checking Dean out? It was too bad that he didn’t have a body like Castiel’s.

Castiel shut the door behind them, and Dean felt a little wave of nervousness. It was silly, he’d just been alone with him the night before.

“Good morning, Dean.” Castiel approached him, arms held out slightly, and Dean accepted an embrace. It was very slow and gentle, as if to give Dean the opportunity to pull back at any time. Just before it ended, Castiel brushed his lips against Dean’s temple. “I’m so glad to see you. Did you sleep well?”

“Not too badly. You?”

“I had a little trouble getting to sleep. I couldn’t get you out of my mind, actually.” Castiel gestured toward the sofa. “Shall we sit?”

Castiel had a briefcase with him, which he placed on the coffee table. “What’s in there?” Dean asked timidly.

“Only the papers for our contract, and some pens for signing and making notes. Nothing scary. The contract isn’t something to be afraid of, Dean. It’s meant to make you feel better, in fact. To know exactly what to expect, and to protect you from anything you don’t want. Okay?”

“Yeah. Okay. I’m still nervous, though.”

“I’d be surprised if you weren’t. Can I tell you a secret? I’m a little nervous, too.”

“No way,” Dean blurted out, then blushed. “I mean, why would you be? Haven’t you done this before?”

“I have. But never with anyone like you.” Castiel was interrupted by a knock on the door, and he sighed with exasperation. “Already? Come on in, Charlie.”

She was bearing a tray with burritos, doughnuts, coffee, and orange juice. “The delivery guy practically followed us in. Don’t mind me, you two. I’ll be out in a jiff. Let me know if you need anything.” She gave Dean a significant look, and dashed out the door.

Dean selected a burrito, then squinted at it. “They smell really good. But I’m not sure I can eat anything.”

Castiel gave him a stern look. “We aren’t going to start until you eat at least two bites of your breakfast burrito and drink some juice. I don’t want you feeling poorly later.”

“Yes, sir.” Dean picked up the burrito and took a bite.

Castiel quirked an eyebrow. “Are you being sassy?”

“Maybe. God, this is good.” Dean took a sip of juice and bit into the burrito again.

“Good. We can start now, but I want you to continue eating. You need your strength.”

“I brought my homework,” Dean said, his mouth full of food. Castiel quirked his eyebrow again. Dean chewed and swallowed, and then continued. “Sorry. I’m not used to eating in polite company. I brought the lists you asked me to make.” He handed Castiel the composition book. “Sorry it’s not, like, fancy or anything. It’s all the paper I had.”

“This is perfectly fine, Dean. You did very well. Let’s see, your first list is things you are excited about and want to try. Shall we?”

It had taken Dean a while to get up the nerve to write down the two items on the list, but he had thought about them for a long time. Before, he had thought that desire made him bad or weak. But Castiel had told him to be honest about what he wanted.

“Spanking,” Castiel read the first item aloud, and his face lit up. “How fortunate, as that is something I am also very interested in.” Dean blushed, and Castiel continued reading.

He hadn’t really know how to word the next item. There were specific terms to describe it, but he didn’t feel comfortable with them yet; so he’d described it in his own words.

“‘I would like to have my hands tied or restrained,” Castiel read aloud. “And maybe my feet as well. I think it’s something I’ll have to explore to see how much I’m comfortable with. But I’m very interested in being tied up.’” Castiel nodded. “Dean, this is another wish of yours that I can help you indulge. As you said, we’ll explore it slowly, but I suspect that you will enjoy it.”

Dean tried to speak, but his throat made a squeaking noise. He took refuge in his breakfast burrito.

“The other items you have written are following directions and being praised when you have done well.” Castiel looked up and gave him a dazzling smile. “This is a very good list, Dean. I approve.”

“It’s not long enough, I guess.”

“No, it’s a perfectly good list for someone who is new to subbing. You don’t know exactly what else you would like yet, and it will take some time for us to find out. But it’s an excellent start.” Castiel reached out and patted Dean’s hand. “Now, I know that the next list is a bit uncomfortable, but I need to see it before we start. I won’t read it aloud, we’ll read it silently together, all right?”

Dean nodded and turned the page of the composition book. The handwriting on this this was more uncertain.

1. No tickling. I hate it and I hate when people think it’s funny to do without asking.
2. No gagging, choking, or covering my mouth or nose. I get really panicky when I can’t breathe freely.
3. I know you said nothing that would really hurt, but I don’t want to be hit really hard, like with a whip. I think that would really scare me.
4. I don’t want to be called degrading names, like slut or whore.

Dean was nervous about the second one. He’d read a lot about being gagged during his research, and he hoped it wasn’t a deal breaker for Castiel.

“Thank you, Dean. This is very helpful, and all of the items will be off the table permanently.”

“Is it okay that I don’t want to be gagged?” Dean asked timidly. “I gather that it’s pretty common.”

“I don’t care how common a practice it is; if you don’t want to do it we won’t. And I think I would prefer to hear your pretty voice calling my name, anyway.” Castiel winked at him. “Now that we’ve gotten through that, we’ll start going through the contract. We’ll save the aftercare discussion for last.”

Castiel drew out a stack of printed sheets, and Dean swallowed hard. There was a lot of stuff to go through.

“Now, Dean, if at any time you want a break, or think that you need to stop for the day, promise that you will tell me immediately. Okay?”

“I will. Promise.”

“Good. Now, let me explain the contract. There are three parts. The first section is a list of rules, the second is a list of activities or kinks, and the third concerns aftercare.
I know it’s a lot to take in. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. And please, be completely honest with me at all times.”

Dean took a deep breath. This was the part he had feared most; things were about to get real. What would Castiel require of him? He’d read some pretty scary things. “Yeah. But I have a question. What if I don’t like one of the rules? What do we do then?”

“Then we negotiate a compromise. I feel quite sure that we’ll be able to come to an agreement on everything, so don’t hesitate to tell me if you have reservations. I’d rather talk things out with you than have you misunderstand my intentions and feel put upon.”

“Fair enough. Go ahead.”

“As I said, rules are the first section. We’ll discuss each one, and if we agree, we’ll both initial the line next to it.” Castiel scooted a bit nearer to Dean on the sofa, so that they could both see the papers. “First of all, while we are in this relationship, the two of us are it for each other. I am faithful in my relationships, and I insist on fidelity from my partners.”

“No problem there. I agree.” Dean reached out to initial the item, and Castiel shifted positions to make it easier for Dean to reach the paper.

“Okay. Next, communication and honesty are important in any relationship, but they are doubly so when BDSM is involved. We must be honest with each other, even in small things that we might consider unimportant. Minor disagreements can fester into major misunderstandings, so if either of us are feeling unsatisfied with some aspect of our arrangement, we must discuss it with each other.”

“This one’s going to be a learning curve for me,” Dean admitted. “Hiding your problems and lying about them is pretty much the Winchester family way. But I want to do right by you, Castiel. I’ll agree to this one as well.”

“Thank you, Dean. It may help you to know that I will not be judgemental about any concerns you bring forward. And the next rule is somewhat related. I know you’ve been through a lot, and that you’ve been taught to suppress your feelings and needs. Therefore, the next rule requires you to tell me if you are sick, injured, in pain, or in emotional or psychological distress, so that I can care for you properly. I will be your husband and dominant, and it is my responsibility to make sure you receive what you need to be happy and healthy. I cannot do that if you try to hide any infirmities in order not to worry me.”

Dean hesitated and chewed on his lower lip. “I’ll agree to that one if it applies to you as well. I mean, you’re my husband too, and I want to take care of you if you need me.”

Castiel smiled at him. “I appreciate that, Dean. And it’s a very wise idea. I’ll amend the rule to apply to both of us.” He wrote the addition in neat block letters, and they both signed.

“All right, the next rules apply to household concerns. I have a housekeeper--her name is Ellen--who cleans three times weekly and prepares meals ahead of time, so that covers the bulk of our housework. However, I expect you to keep your possessions in a reasonably neat and orderly fashion. I will do the same. Also, I’ll expect you to keep the kitchen cleaned and the dishes washed and put away after our meals. We have a dishwasher, so there should be no excuse for dishes piled up on the sink or countertop. If you are ill or injured, I will of course take over these duties until you recover.”

“That’s nothing new to me. I did nearly all the housework at our house. Dad was a stickler for things being neat, and I usually did all the cooking and cleaning up while Sam did homework. So that’s no biggie.” Dean initialed on the line. “I do have a question, though. Would you mind if I cook our meals? I can’t make fancy things, but I’m a pretty good cook, and I enjoy it. That way you could have hot meals, instead of something reheated.”

Castiel looked pleased. “Dean, I would love that. You don’t have to do it all the time, though, if you don’t want to. Let’s see how it goes, and if it’s too much work for you we can put some of the cooking duties back over to Ellen.”

“It won’t be too much work for me, Castiel. I’m used to it. You should see how much Sam can eat.”

“Well, it sounds lovely. And it’s fine that you don’t cook complicated dishes; I much prefer simple foods anyway.” Castiel turned to the next page. “Next is the matter of our shared space and possessions. When we are married, what is mine also becomes yours, in a manner of speaking. I want you to be comfortable in our home, and you will be free to use anything in it as you wish, as long as you treat our belongings with respect. This includes exercise equipment, television, books, DVDs, or anything else. There are only two exceptions.

One, I have a home office, and I ask that you don’t enter it without my permission. You will also have your own designated space that I will not enter without being invited. Two, there is a cabinet in the bedroom that contains toys and supplies for our scenes. I ask that you also do not use the contents of the cabinet without my express permission.”

Dean was actually taken aback at the leniency of this rule. He wouldn’t have been surprised to be confined to an area of the house, or to be forbidden to touch any of Castiel’s things. “Agreed.”

“Now for scheduling. On weekdays, I get out of bed around 6 AM or so for a workout. You’re free to sleep in. After that I shower and then eat a light breakfast before I leave for work. I want you to join me for breakfast each morning so that we can talk a little before we start the day.”

“No problem. I can make breakfast for you, even.”

“You certainly don’t have to do that, Dean. The main thing is your company. After I leave, as long as the kitchen is clean, you’re free to do as you wish. Watch Netflix, take a nap, swim, take a walk outdoors. You may leave the house to shop, run errands, or for recreation, as long as you text me to let me know. You can even have Charlie or Kevin over if you wish. However, don’t invite anyone into our home that I haven’t first met and approved of.”

“Oh, no. I wouldn’t.” Dean perked up at the mention of having a friend over. He hadn’t thought about that being allowed, either.

“I usually return home from 5:30 to 6 PM. I’ll send a text when I leave work so you’ll know when to expect me. If you’ve invited friends, they must leave by then. When I get home in the evenings, I’m often quite tired, and I’d like to have you to myself. When I arrive home, I’d like you to be waiting for me so that we can greet each other and talk about our days.

Now, I know you may at times receive invitations for evening social events with your friends, and I am fine with you accepting those, with the following conditions. One, that you restrict such outings to no more than once weekly, unless it is a special occasion that we have discussed in advance. Two, you must let me know where you will be and who you’ll be with. This rule is for safety reasons; it can be dangerous for omegas to be out at night and it will ease my mind to know where you are. Three, you will return home by 10 PM unless, as I said before, it is a special circumstance previously arranged. I want you home with me before I go to bed. Four, you must let me know that you will be out that evening by noon that day, so that I can plan ahead.”

“Honestly, Castiel, I’m surprised to hear that you’ll allow me to go out with friends. Many alphas don’t. So I’m cool with that. I’m not really a social butterfly, anyway. But what if Sam is in town?”

“Ah, yes. Family is different. If Sam is visiting, especially if for a short time, I expect that you will spend more time with him. He could even stay at our home for a visit, as long as he is respectful of us and our surroundings.”

Dean felt dizzy with relief. “That’s fine, yeah. I was really afraid you’d restrict Sam’s visits.”

Castiel looked concerned. “I wish you had mentioned earlier that this worried you so much. I could have eased your concerns. Of course I won’t keep you from seeing your brother, Dean. I would even be willing for you to travel to visit him, although I would miss you terribly.” He reached over to the coffee table for Dean’s orange juice and handed it to him. “Please drink a little. You look quite pale.”

Dean took a couple of swigs of juice. “Nah, I’ll be okay now. You can go ahead.”

“All right, but I’m going to amend the contract a little. There’s a section on family visits, but I’m going to be more specific based on what we’ve discussed. To ease your mind.” Castiel wrote a few more sentences, then looked to Dean for his approval. He nodded.

“I’ll move forward with the schedule, then. I usually go to bed around 10:30, but I sometimes read for a little while before I go to sleep. We will sleep in the same bed every night unless one of us is ill or injured and sleeping separately becomes temporarily necessary for some reason. If you need comfort or company during the night, please wake me rather than sitting alone and worrying. I would rather lose a bit of sleep than know that you were in distress.”

“Okay,” Dean said, very softly. “Thanks.” He initialed the schedule.

“When either of us leaves or arrives home, the other will stop whatever they are doing to provide a warm farewell or greeting and a kiss. Before sleeping, we will say goodnight to each other and and exchange kisses and/or cuddle.” Castiel looked at Dean and raised an eyebrow, as if challenging him to make a smart remark.

Dean blushed bright red, and he felt sort of warm inside. He would never have admitted it to anyone else, but he daydreamed about cuddling just as often as he thought about sex. He initialed the line without comment, as Castiel looked on with interest.

“The next rule deals with physical parameters of our relationship. I will expect us to engage in non-sexual physical affection on a daily basis--hugs, kisses, hand-holding, back or shoulder rubs, etc. I expect us to engage in various forms of sexual contact--eventually. I understand that you are inexperienced, and I want us to take things slowly. In fact, I would suggest that we delay discussion of penetrative sex for at least one month.”

Dean’s mouth dropped open. “What? I thought…I mean, you’re an alpha, and alphas want sex, right? Isn’t that the point of finding a mate or a husband or whatever?”

“Contrary to popular belief, Dean, alphas can control themselves. It’s just that many of them don’t want to. We can certainly do other things, but I don’t want to move too quickly. I want you to be completely comfortable with your first experiences.”

“I have to admit that’s helped my nerves about our wedding night. I figured you’d want sex right away, and I was freaking out about it a little.”

“Well, now there’s one less thing for you to worry about. Dean, we have to do this right. If you were that anxious about it, then waiting is the right thing to do.”

Dean wrote his initials by the item. He wondered if Castiel would actually be as physically affectionate as the item made it sound. Daily hugs and holding hands sounded wonderful, and if he got even an occasional shoulder rub, he’d be ecstatic.

“All right, Dean. Now we come to rules defining our scenes. Do you need to take a moment first?”

“No, I’m okay.”

“Drink some more juice, then. Dean, the important thing to remember about our scenes is that you always have the power to call things off, no questions asked, no matter what. That’s the purpose of a safe word. In previous relationships, I’ve used the color system. Are you familiar with it?”

“Yeah, I read about it. Green means go ahead, everything’s fine, yellow means slow down and reassess the situation, and red means stop.”

“Very good. Do you want us to use this system during our scenes, or would you prefer to choose your own safeword?”

“I think I’d like to use red, yellow, and green. It sounds easy to remember.”

Castiel nodded. “Some people pick very complicated safewords, but that seems counterintuitive to me. When you’re in the middle of a scene, they can be difficult to remember. I’ve always been of the opinion that dominants cannot rely solely on safewords to know if a submissive is being pushed too far. If you say words like “stop” or “no”, I will listen. If you don’t say anything, but seem distressed, I will stop and check in with you.”

“Good to know.” Dean tried to act as if all of this was normal. Like he’d discussed it before.

“Next rule: during a scene, you will refer to me as sir or alpha, unless otherwise requested. This rule is not negotiable. If you scene with me, you will show me the proper respect as your dominant.”

Dean’s heart began to pound, and his mouth felt dry. “Yes, sir.”

Castiel smiled slightly. “You don’t have to call me that right now, Dean.”

Dean fidgeted in his seat. “I wanted to see how it felt.”

“And how did it feel?”

“Good. Really good. Sir. I won’t have a problem with that rule.”

“How would you like to be addressed during a scene? Some people prefer to be called a nickname instead of their real name; it demarcates your time as a submissive from your time in the regular world.”

“Oh.” Dean shook his head a bit, to clear his thoughts. “I’d be fine with that. As long as they’re not, like, degrading. Like I said before. I’ll let you choose what you’d like to call me.”

“So would you be fine with being called pet, or good boy?”

Dean started to sweat a little. “That would be okay.”

“And when we’re not participating in a scene, may I call you things like sweetheart?”

“Uh-huh. Sure can.”

Castiel gave him a knowing look. “You can also choose a term of endearment for me, if you like. Anything but Daddy. That makes me uncomfortable.”

“I’ll have to think about that one.”

“All right. Moving on. Dean? Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Just, could we sit a little closer?”

“Of course. Would you feel better if I were touching you?” Castiel scooted nearer to him.

“Yes. How did you know that?”

“Sometimes when a person is anxious, it helps to have someone touch them. It makes them feel more grounded.” Castiel stretched out his left arm, and Dean nestled into his side. Castiel wrapped his arm around him and rested his hand on Dean’s waist. “Better?”

Dean felt small, and safe, and precious, all at once. “Yeah. Can we stay like this?”

“Absolutely. However you’re comfortable.”

“I’m not usually like this. Usually I’m…”

“Self-sufficient? The one others lean on? It’s all right to let your guard down with me, Dean.”

“Okay.” Dean leaned his head on Castiel’s shoulder. “I’m ready.”

Castiel adjusted the papers so that Dean could see, and continued. “For clothing, I want you to wear what you like and feel comfortable in. The only times you will be required to wear what I choose are when we attend social functions associated with my work. I may choose clothing or items for you to wear during a scene, but you have veto power on these occasions.”

Dean looked up at Castiel and squinted. “Really? So if you asked me to wear a French maid’s outfit, I could say no?”

“Yes, really. When I select things for you to wear during a scene, it’s not just because I can, or to humiliate you. There is always a reason for what I might ask you to wear, and I choose these things to evoke a certain response in you. I may want you to feel sexy, or I might pick something soft and silky that will bring you a sensual pleasure. Some clothing is bondage-like, and might help you enter a submissive space. If I am doing a good job as your dom, I will pick things that you will be eager to wear.”

“That makes sense, I guess.” Dean initialed.

“The same goes for eating. As long as you are eating enough to be healthy, I’m happy with that. I don’t want you to deprive yourself of foods that you love. Actually, it would make me very happy to see you well-fed. One of things I’ll have you do after we leave here today is make a list of foods and drinks that you enjoy. I’ll make sure Ellen keeps those items stocked in our house. Did you enjoy what we did with the pie last night, by the way?”

Dean was glad that Castiel couldn’t see him blush yet again. “Um, it was amazing. One of my favorite things I’ve ever done, actually.”

“I’m sincerely glad to hear that. I will hand-feed you frequently during scenes and aftercare. I find it a very enjoyable act, and one that increases the bond between a dom and sub. I do want you to safeword if you don’t like what I am feeding you, or if you become too full. You have such an enjoyment of good food; it would be a shame to spoil your pleasure.”

“I never thought I’d say this, but I think I’ll like that very much.”

“Good. Next item is about collaring, which I prefer not to do unless it is something you feel very strongly about. Collaring a sub is a very common act among doms, but I have never felt it necessary in any of my relationships. Especially for us, since we will be husbands. We may have different roles, but neither of us has more importance in the relationship than the other. We will exchange rings during our wedding ceremony, and I feel that these are enough of a visible claim on each other.”

Dean was relieved; he’d expected to be collared, and wasn’t sure how to feel about it. “Thank you, Castiel. I’m not sure I would have liked wearing a collar. I kind of dreaded it, in fact. But I would be happy to wear a ring.”

“One more item, Dean, and then we should take a break. It concerns pleasuring yourself and/or seeking sexual release on your own. I feel that these things are a human right and I do not mind you doing so. However, I would like for you to keep me informed of any orgasms you have that I am not present for, as well as details of what you did and thought about while pleasuring yourself. Occasionally I may ask you to put off having an orgasm as part of our play, but it will not be for an extended period of time.”

Dean sat up and stared at Castiel. “I’m not really sure about this one.”

“All right. Can you tell me what your reservations are?”

“It just seems so invasive. I mean, do I have to call or text you every time?”

“Telling me upon my return home will be sufficient, Dean.”

“And will you tell me about every time you…you know?”

“Oh, I don’t plan to seek sexual release outside of your presence, unless we have to be separated due to one of us traveling. And then, I would probably call you while I’m doing so. If I may be so bold, Dean, I think we will keep each other very satisfied.”

“I’m still on the fence here.”

“What about this. We can give this rule a trial period of one month, and if you still find it uncomfortable, we will remove it from the contract.”

Dean chewed on his lower lip. “Three weeks.”

Castiel laughed. “Deal. Now let’s put this away for a few minutes and have some of these doughnuts. If Charlie was that excited about them, they must be to die for.”

Chapter Text

“I’ve never eaten anything this colorful before.” Dean nibbled at a rainbow-colored doughnut covered with sparkly sugar, then took a big bite. “God, this is actually really good.”

Castiel nodded. “Maybe we can go to this place one weekend. For a brunch date.”

“You’d take me on a date?”

“Of course. Dean, you’re going to be my husband. I’ll take you anywhere you want to go.”

“A date sounds nice. I’ve never been on a real date. I always thought it would be fun to have a picnic at the lake.”

“That sounds lovely. We’ll do that as well.”

Dean finished the last bite of his doughnut and licked the rainbow sugar crystals from his fingers as Castiel stared. “Well, should we get back to it?”

“As you wish. The rules, continued. We will never participate in a scene when either of us are overly tired, ill, injured, under the influence of chemical substances, or under an emotional stressor such as anxiety or anger. This is very important. Healthy interaction during play requires a clear mind.”

Dean nodded. “Sounds good.”

“I will never, during any part of our relationship, engage in silent treatment, ignoring you, or ask you not to speak for an extended period of time. I feel that these actions are abusive. They shouldn’t be part of any relationship, dom/sub or not. We need open communication with each other at all times. That goes for you too, Dean. Don’t shut me out.

I will never leave you alone during a scene. I will always be in the same room with you. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and I have learned to keep any items we might need close at hand, so I won’t need to leave the room to retrieve them. Even if you are blindfolded and cannot see me, never doubt that I am only a few feet away at all times. I will never leave you.” Castiel looked up at Dean, who was picking at a thread on the sofa. “You’ve worried about these things, haven’t you?”

“Yeah. But not anymore.” Dean signed the item. “Thank you.”

“There’s nothing to thank me for. This is how it should be.” Castiel initialed next to him. “The next item concerns rewards and punishments.” Castiel stopped to look at Dean. “I have always practiced positive reinforcement with my submissives. Do you know what that means?”

Dean knew that if he spoke, his voice would tremble, so he just shook his head.

“It simply means that if you are good, you get rewarded. It’s the opposite of what most people think a dom would do, which is punish a sub who behaves badly. I’ve found much more success with my way.”

Dean shivered a bit. “What kind of reward?”

“Well, I’ll have to get to know you a bit before I know what really makes you happy. It will also depend on the situation and how you’re feeling at the time. Some things that I’ve done in the past are massages, giving a blow job, or spanking.”

“Wait, hold up. I thought spanking was a punishment?”

“Not necessarily. One of my subs liked being spanked so much that I used it as a reward for her.”

“Oh. Okay. Cool.” Dean shifted in his seat a bit. His rear end felt oddly sensitive, as if Castiel were going to throw him over his knee and administer a spanking at any minute.

“But I do have a word of caution. Many subs think that being “good” is doing anything possible to try to please their dom, to see how much they can take, even if it means putting them in harm’s way physically and/or mentally. To me, being good means that you are trying your best to respond to me openly and honestly. That you are willing to give me the chance to make you feel safe, valued, and treasured. And that you will give me your trust and respect, if I earn it. Your willing submission is your gift to me, Dean, and that is the action that I mean to reward. Do you understand?”

“I think so. It’s not what I expected, though.”

“That’s okay. Dean, I think you will take very well to this method.” Castiel gave him a smile that warmed him to the core. “There are very few occasions in which I administer punishment. I only do it when there is an issue in the relationship which cannot be resolved without it.”

“What do you mean?”

Castiel looked up at the ceiling for a moment, considering. “All right, think of it this way. Say that you, Dean, made a mistake. What would you do?”

“Easy. Try to fix it.”

“If it were something fixable, yes. If you didn’t repair someone’s car on the first try, you’d try again. But say it’s something more difficult. What if you said something to Sam that really hurt him, and the situation wasn’t so easy to fix?”

Dean thought about it for a minute, then laughed. “I wouldn’t handle it well, probably. I’d tell him he took it the wrong way, or not to be so sensitive, and then we’d argue about it. Then later I’d feel really bad and we’d avoid each other for a while.”

Castiel nodded. “You’d feel very guilty, wouldn’t you? Like it was eating you up inside.”

“Exactly. Yeah.”

“Punishment can be a way to shift guilt and allow us to move past the issue. Does that make sense?”

“Strange, but it does. It…it kind of takes the weight away from me.”

“Exactly. Now, as I mentioned during a previous rule, punishment will never include silent treatment, ignoring you, or leaving you alone and vulnerable. I will also never punish you in anger. If the punishment is too much mentally or physically, I encourage you to use your safeword; I will trust you not to misuse your safeword merely to escape something you find tedious. If you say stop, I will stop, and I will neither judge you for it nor give you any additional punishment. But you must also promise to trust my judgement on the issue. Trust that if I punish you, the punishment I have selected is an appropriate consequence to your transgression and that no other atonement is required of you.”

Dean considered this. “So what you’re saying is, if you punish me for something, we can go back to being okay with each other after that? You won’t keep mentioning it over and over, or let me think that you’ve forgotten it and then all of a sudden get mad about it again?”

Castiel flinched, very slightly; if Dean had blinked he would have missed it. “I’m sorry you have experienced that too, Dean. And yes, that is exactly what I mean. Once we have discussed and dealt with the issue, we will return to our normal routine. We may have additional discussions about it, however, if it is something that threatens our well-being.”

“I don’t even mind that, as long as I know what it is you’re mad about. Half the time with Dad, I didn’t even know exactly what I’d done to piss him off, and he wouldn’t tell me.”

“That’s emotional abuse, Dean. It’s meant to keep you in a constant state of doubt and turmoil. After a while, it even alters the way you think and respond to things. You’re always on edge. I know the feeling very well.” Castiel tried to smile at him. “And another thing--even if we are angry at each other, you can always seek comfort from me.”

Dean frowned. “How does that work? Why would you comfort me if you’re angry?”

“If you were angry with me, and I fell down the stairs and sprained my ankle, would you leave me lying there?”

“Of course not. I’d help you.”

“Exactly. And it should be no different in a case of emotional distress. If you need me, I will tend to you in whatever way that you need.”

“That sounds really good. I’ll do the same for you.”

“Thank you, Dean. Now, this item is fairly straightforward. Neither of us will tell anyone outside of our relationship about the dom/sub aspect unless both partners agree that it is okay. If someone already knows about it, it’s okay to talk with them about it, but no intimate details, please.”

“No problem.” Dean scribbled his initials next to the item.

“One more thing, and we’ll proceed to the kink list. We’ve briefly discussed not wanting children at this time, so we’ll of course have to take precautions so that this doesn’t happen. Are you currently on birth control?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“Really? I’m surprised. I didn’t suppose that your father would allow it.”

Dean shrugged. “Well, it certainly wasn’t on my behalf. If I hadn’t been on the pill, I’d have had to take time off twice a year for being in heat. Dad didn’t want to lose out on two weeks of free labor. Plus, you know how it is. Even before I actually went into heat, the alphas would be able to smell me days ahead of time. They’d never have left me alone.”

“I understand. I take suppressants for much the same reason. I can’t leave my practice unattended for days while I’m in a rut.”

“Good to know. I’d already been a little concerned about that. You know, I’m not very experienced, last thing I need right now is a partner in rut.”

“Exactly. I propose that we keep these things as they are now, and promise that we will not stop taking these medications without the knowledge of the other partner. If things change, we’ll have a discussion.”

“I’m cool with that.” Dean signed again. “Soooo…now the kinks?”

Castiel laughed. “Now for the kinks. A bit more fun than rules, for sure.” He turned to the next page of the contract.

“Now, a little explanation on how the list works. The items on it are the standard ones on BDSM contracts, but you’ll noticed some of them have already been crossed out. These are things that we will never even consider doing. For example, humiliation, both public and private. Anything very clinical, such as certain medical kinks. Anything that is degrading or especially painful. Okay?”

“Yeah. Thank you.”

“As we read through the list, we’ll find more items to remove from consideration, such as the ones you wrote down. I will draw an “x” through these items with a black pen. If either of us object to an item, it will be removed.” Castiel reached into his briefcase and pulled out some colored markers. “I’ll use the following shorthand, to make it easy for both of us to reread the contract as needed. The blue marker will be for me, the green marker for you. We’ll mark each item as follows: 1 means that you are excited about the item and you’re eager to try it. 2 means that you aren’t 100% sure, but you’re open to discussion about the item. 3 means the item is something you wouldn’t exactly enjoy, but it wouldn’t cause you any distress or trauma, and you’re willing to do it to please the other person. 4 is a hard limit, something you never want to do.”

Dean nodded. “Okay. I think I have it.”

“All right. Let’s begin.” Castiel shuffled the papers. “Would you like to sit as we did before?”

Dean couldn’t even bring himself to be embarrassed. “Yes, please.”

Castiel reached out his left arm, and Dean nestled against him again. “Item one: kissing.”

“I thought everyone liked kissing.”

“No, not everyone does. How do you feel about it?”

Dean went very still. No one had ever asked him that; he had been kissed by a few alphas, and they had all assumed that he would like it. “Can I be honest? I’ve never had a kiss that I enjoyed. But I do think I would like kissing you very much. So that’s a one.”

“Thank you for letting me know, Dean. It’s nothing to be surprised at; kissing can be quite intimate. We’ll start slowly, and you can let me know how it feels for you.” Castiel marked the item with a one for himself as well.

Both Dean and Castiel were enthusiastic about hand jobs and blow jobs (giving and receiving), but Castiel insisted on skipping over the fourth item, penetrative sex, and the fifth item, knotting. “We’ll discuss those again in a month, Dean.”

There were a number of items that Castiel simply marked through without comment, as per their discussion, and Dean was relieved. Some of them were scary, some were icky, and for some he just didn’t see the appeal.

“The next item is spanking, which you have expressed interest…”

“One,” Dean interrupted.

Castiel frowned, and Dean immediately understood that he had been rude. “I’m sorry for cutting you off. I just already know that’s something I want.”

“I know, but there’s more to it than that.” Castiel showed him the list. “For example, the position you’ll be in. What about being put over my knees for the spanking?”

Dean thought that his ears might be ringing. “Oh, God. Yes. Definitely a one. Please.”

Castiel grinned. “Very well. Being bent over a desk, table or other furniture?”

“That’s not quite as exciting, but still a one.”

“Lying facedown on a bed?”

“Definitely.”

“What about being on your hands and knees?”

“That doesn’t sound as nice, but I could do it. Three.”

Castiel kept track of each item--Dean noticed that they were all ones for him. “All right, one more. What about a spanking bench?”

“What’s that?” Dean thought it sounded very interesting, and only a little frightening.

“It’s a special piece of furniture, made just for...well, spanking. It puts you in an ideal position, and has padding to keep you comfortable. You can be secured to the bench, usually with leather straps, to keep you still. Or sometimes I might not tie you, and trust that you can stay put on your own.” Castiel rummaged in the briefcase and pulled out a tablet, which he used to google photos of spanking benches.

Dean’s breath quickened, and he leaned into Castiel a bit more. He wanted this, he thought, this was something he would have always wanted if he’d known it existed.

“Dean? Do you have questions?”

He took a deep breath. “This seems like something I’d really, really, like. But I don’t think I’d like to try it right away. Maybe we could try regular spanking first, then work up to it. I’ll say two for this item.”

“Of course; that’s very reasonable. Is it the bondage aspect that makes you hesitate?”

“Umm, a little. But I really like that part of it, too. I...I know this seems stupid, but the benches you showed me look kind of medieval. Like something from a torture chamber. They’re a little creepy.”

Castiel laughed. “I agree, actually. I had a spanking bench once, and I got rid of it because it clashed with my decor. The sub I used it with had moved away, and I didn’t see a need to keep it. But they don’t have to look that way, Dean. You can find similar furniture with a less extreme look. If you decide you are indeed interested, we can shop for one together. Okay?”

“Sounds good.” Dean relaxed into Castiel’s side. He found himself wanting to lean up and scent Castiel, but he didn’t know if that was allowed. He’d heard other omegas talk about being calmed by their alpha’s scent, but Castiel wasn’t his yet. They weren’t married or mated, and Dean wasn’t really sure how such an overture would be received.

“All right, now there’s the matter of what implement I’ll use while spanking you. The hand of the dominant is most frequently used.”

“One for that one. I like the thought of you touching me while you do that. It’s...more intimate, I guess.”

“It’s my preference as well.” Castiel marked off a couple of the implements listed, including a whip. “How about paddles or hairbrushes?”

Dean fidgeted in his seat. “Three. They don’t sound very fun, but as long as you’re not too rough, I think it’d be okay.”

“Three it is. I’ll amend the item to say that extreme care must be taken if we use either of these.” Castiel marked both with a two for himself. “Next is bondage, and as you can imagine, there are several aspects to be considered there as well. Hands in front?”

“One. I like that.”

“Hands in back?”

That one wasn’t appealing to Dean at all, and he tensed slightly. “Three. I have trouble putting my arms behind my back. I guess I’m not very flexible.”

Castiel looked down at him until Dean met his gaze. “I sense that it would be uncomfortable for you in more than a physical way. I think we should take it out of consideration for now. Is that okay?”

Dean nodded into Castiel’s shoulder.

“All right.” Castiel rubbed Dean’s arm, very gently. “How about having your arms above your head?”

“Would I be lying down, or like, kneeling or standing?”

“Either.”

“One while lying down. That sounds awesome. Three while kneeling or standing, as long as it’s not for a long time.”

“Duly noted.” Castiel continued down the list. The idea of having his ankles bound pleased Dean so much that he was unable to keep from wiggling a bit, making Castiel chuckle at him. He didn’t like the idea of having his wrists tied to his ankles--he wasn’t a yoga expert, for heaven’s sake--but Castiel showed him some contraptions on the tablet that would allow his wrists to be secured to his thighs.

“Yeah, those look really good, actually. Can we get those?”

“I’m really glad that you’re getting excited about this, Dean. I’m excited too. Yes, we’ll have quite a bit of shopping to do, I expect. How do you feel about being tied to a chair or a bed?”

“Being tied to a bed is like, my ultimate fantasy. So definite yes there. A chair would be really nice, too, as long as I don’t have to sit there for hours or anything.”

“Of course. I have a padded office chair that would do nicely. Excellent for role playing. Now, we need to talk about what bondage materials you’d prefer. This can take some trial and error until you decide what feels best to you. Metal handcuffs are a classic example, but I prefer not to use them unless it’s important to you. They can be unsafe if used improperly, and of course there’s always the fear of losing the key.”

Dean flinched a bit. “I don’t want handcuffs. The metal’s too cold, and they freak me out a little.”

Castiel crossed them off the list. “Good. There are much better options, anyway. How do you feel about leather cuffs?”

Dean imagined the feel of leather against his bare skin, and shivered with pleasure. “I feel great about them. I’ve been, well, thinking about that a lot. I saw some pictures. But some of them were too thick and bulky looking. I really want them to feel good against my wrists. And my ankles.”

“I think we can do that. I have an acquaintance who makes custom leather cuffs. We can visit her and have you measured, and you can pick out exactly what you want. Does that sound good?”

Dean had to remind himself to take a breath. “Yes, please, sir.”

Castiel leaned down until his lips almost touched Dean’s ear. “Omega,” he whispered. “Do you know how someone’s scent becomes more intense, more pleasurable, when they are happy, excited, and, shall we say, aroused?”

Dean couldn’t have moved for anything. “Yes, sir.”

“And did you know that every time you call me sir, that same thing happens to your scent?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, it does. And you are the most tempting, delicious omega I’ve ever scented.” Castiel took a deep breath, and his voice returned to almost normal. “Have you considered silk ties, Dean? They would also feel lovely against your skin.”

“Hell, yes. One for silk ties.”

“I look forward to deciding which color of silk you look best in, while you lie there all bound and waiting for me, little omega.”

Dean squirmed uncomfortably. “Damn, Castiel, you’re like zero to sixty with the sexy stuff. You gotta stop that. I’m gettin’ a little too worked up, if you know what I mean.”

“I’m sorry, Dean. That was inappropriate.”

“Um, we’re sitting here discussing how I like to be spanked, so I don’t think you went too far off the mark.”

“Perhaps. But we need to stay focused. How about being bound with rope?”

“I don’t know. It seems a little, well, intense.”

“Are you thinking of intricate rope bondage and suspension? Those are very advanced techniques. I’m not nearly well versed enough to practice that type of bondage. It’s a good idea to learn in person from someone more experienced.” Castiel rubbed Dean’s arm, as he had a few moments ago. “The type of rope bondage I’m speaking of would be much more simple. One does have to be very careful, regardless.”

Dean was quiet for a moment, and Castiel waited for him to speak. “Can we put this item off to discuss later on? I’m just not sure. I think I’d like to read more about it, and talk to you some more before deciding.”

“That is absolutely fine, Dean. In fact, it’s very wise. You can’t make a good decision without the proper knowledge. I must admit that I would also benefit from some research on the subject.” Castiel wrote TBD next to the item. “The last possibility on the list is bondage tape.”

“Ugh.” Dean shuddered. “Wouldn’t that hurt like a bitch when you pulled it off?”

“Oh, no. It’s not regular tape; it sticks only to itself, not to skin. And it’s easily removed with scissors as well.”

Dean wrinkled his nose. “I’ll give that a three. But there’s one more thing that you didn’t mention.”

“Go ahead.”

“Well, you’re a lawyer, so you must have a lot of neckties. Would you ever consider tying me up with them?”

Castiel pulled Dean ever-so-slightly closer before stopping himself. “That is a lovely idea, Dean. I think you’ve earned your first reward. I don’t know yet what it will be, but I promise you’ll enjoy it thoroughly.”

Dean made a pleased sound. “Can I have my reward today?”

“We’ll see. We have a lot to go through, still.”

“Okay.” Dean was pleased that he’d managed to excite Castiel enough that he had dropped the cool, calm act, even if only for a second.

“Now, I briefly mentioned roleplay earlier. Tell me your thoughts on that.”

“Cowboys,” Dean blurted out.

Castiel laughed until he had to wipe a tear from his eye. “I take it that you really like cowboys, Dean.”

“Hell, yes. I’m not embarrassed about it, either. Cowboys are sexy.”

“Lucky for you, I agree, although I might not be quite as excited about them. There are lots of other things we can do with roleplay, though. It’s a good way to get out of your comfort zone and try things you normally wouldn’t.”

“I have questions, though. I mean, do the regular rules apply when we roleplay?”

“Absolutely. We will do nothing that we have agreed to be off-limits, and you may of course safeword at any time. I’ll check in on your comfort level frequently, just as I would during a regular scene.”

“What are some things we might do?”

“Oh, the sky’s the limit there. Cowboys, of course.” Castiel gave Dean a little squeeze. “Boss and sexy secretary, that one’s always fun. We could play with neckties. Professor and student. Anything you’ve ever fantasized about, really. Some people really like medical roleplay, but others hate it.”

“No doctors,” Dean said emphatically. “Nothing to do with doctors. Hard pass.”

“That’s fine. I myself prefer role playing to be more lighthearted and fun.”

“That sounds good. And I like all the other scenarios. Just not the doctor one.”

Castiel amended the item. “We’re making good progress, Dean. How about being blindfolded?”

“One, as long as you keep talking to me while I’m blindfolded so I won’t feel alone. You already said you wouldn’t leave me, so that’s okay.”

“What about wearing a plug?”

Dean couldn’t help squirming a bit. “Two. I mean, I think I’ll like it, and I’m very willing to try it, but let’s start slow, okay?”

Castiel marked the item with a two for Dean and a one for himself. “I’m excited about discussing this with you in the future. Vibrators and/or dildos? As I’ve said before, we won’t do anything penetrative for at least a month, but we can still have some fun with toys.”

“One. I think those would be a little less stressful when we’re just getting started.”

“So do I, Dean. Now, there are also chastity devices. Like a cock cage, for instance. I understand if this is something you wish to remove from consideration.”

“Um, no. Let’s not be hasty with that one.” He could tell that he had surprised Castiel, but Dean had once had a very colorful fantasy involving a chastity device. “I’ll give it a two. We gotta talk more about it beforehand. But nothing really barbaric looking. It has to be comfortable and it can’t be for a long time. Not for days, or anything.”

“Oh, absolutely. Dean, this pleases me very much. I never thought…this is very exciting.” Castiel sighed. “And leading into another item, I assume this means that orgasm delay is on the table? Again, not for a long period of time. I’m thinking more while I’m at work during the day, etc.”

“Yeah, a two for that one as well. Like I said, I find it exciting, but we both have to be clear on what’s okay and what’s not.”

“Agreed. How about public play? Nothing involving exhibitionism, I mean. Things like following instructions--like we did at the country club--or perhaps secretly wearing a vibrating toy while in public.”

“One.” Dean was surprised at the strong feelings he had regarding this item.

Castiel arched an eyebrow. “Are you sure? Public play requires a great deal of trust in your dominant.”

“I’m sure. I know you’ll take care of me.”

“Dean, that is a great compliment for me. I won’t let you down.” Castiel leaned down and nuzzled a bit at Dean’s hair. “May I kiss you here?”

“Yes,” Dean whispered, and Castiel tenderly pressed his lips to Dean’s hair, twice.

“You are amazing. I can’t wait until we can be together, Dean. I’ll be so good to you, pet.”

“Until today, I’ve been more nervous than anything. I’m still nervous, but now I’m more excited.”

“I’m so glad. We just have a couple more items, so let’s power through. Now, I would really like you to at least try this next item before you dismiss it. I think you would love it if you let yourself. Have you ever thought about wearing panties or lingerie?”

Dean turned a deep shade of red. “Um. Well.” His first thought was that his father would roll over in his grave to know that his son wore women’s underwear. His second thought was the unexpected realization that this would probably feel amazing. “Aw, man.”

“It’s just that you seem really excited about things that feel good against your skin, like leather cuffs or silk bindings. If it won’t upset you, try it once for me before you decide.”

“Okay. I’ll try it. No promises, though.”

“Thank you, Dean. Now, this last item is very special to me: kneeling. Not only does it show respect for your dominant, but it can center you and help you enter subspace. The usual caveats apply, of course. You must tell me at once if you feel stiff or uncomfortable, and I won’t let you kneel for a long period of time without moving. A pillow or mat is allowed, of course, for additional comfort.”

“At your feet?” God, he shouldn’t feel so eager about such a thing, but Dean found himself wanting to kneel in front of Castiel already. “Can I try it? To see how it feels?”

“Of course.”

Dean slid from the sofa onto the floor and knelt in front of Castiel, eyes downcast. He shifted a bit to find the most comfortable position. Castiel gave him a moment to adjust, then placed a finger under his chin and made him look up. The look on his dominant’s face--his dominant, Dean was already beginning to think of Castiel in that way--was almost reverent.

Castiel brushed his thumb over Dean’s lips. “You’re beautiful, pet. So beautiful for me.”

“I like kneeling, sir. I want to kneel for you.”

“Good boy.” Castiel stroked Dean’s hair once. “Now come back up onto the couch with me. We can’t get too distracted until we’re done.”

Dean made a whining noise. “How much more do we have?”

“Just the aftercare portion. Shall we look at the list you made?”

Dean’s hands shook slightly as he pulled out the last sheet of paper, which was blank except for the word “aftercare” written at the top.

Castiel was quiet for a minute. “Dean? Could you not think of anything you’d like?”

“I tried. I really did. I could think of things I’d like, but I couldn’t make myself write them down.’

“You have trouble asking for things you want.”

Dean nodded, not meeting Castiel’s eyes.

“You think you don’t deserve good things?”

Dean shook his head.

“It’s all right, Dean. In hindsight, I probably should have provided a little more structure for this part of the assignment. This is very foreign to you.”

“You’re not mad that I didn’t finish my list?”

“No, sweetheart. We’ve really accomplished a great deal for one meeting. This is what we’ll do. I’ll email you some more information about aftercare when I get home tonight. You can read through it tomorrow, when your mind is fresh, and we can talk about it tomorrow evening by phone. All right?”

“That sounds great.” Dean yawned, and found that his eyelids felt heavy.

“Would you like to sleep for a bit?”

Dean was surprised. “Can I? Here? Don’t you have other things you need to do?”

“Of course you may sleep here. I’ll be here to take care of you, and there is nothing more important than that.” Castiel put a pillow on his lap and patted it, and Dean was unable to resist. Once he was settled, Castiel covered Dean with his jacket. “I wish we had a blanket, but this will have to do.”

“S’good.” Dean was so comfortable, and so sleepy. “Thanks.”

“There you go, Dean. Rest.”

“Mmkay. Castiel?”

“Yes?”

“Can you pet my hair again? Can that be my reward?”

“Absolutely.” Castiel ran his fingers through Dean’s hair, and he drifted into sleep.

Chapter Text

Dean awoke slowly. He was surrounded by warmth and comfort, and he didn’t want to open his eyes. Gentle fingers ran over his scalp, and Dean furrowed his brow in confusion. Oh. Castiel. Shit, how long had he been asleep on Castiel’s lap? Dean’s eyelids fluttered.

“Easy, Dean. Everything’s fine.” Castiel’s fingers continued rubbing in a circular motion.

“How long was I…”

“You only slept about forty-five minutes, Dean. Not very long. Just relax. Give yourself a moment before you get up.”

Dean rubbed his face on the pillow. “Wow, I was really out, huh? Did I snore?”

“You did not, but it would have been fine if you had.”

Dean lay still for another minute or so, then started to sit up. Castiel took hold of his shoulders and helped ease him up to a seated position. “There you go. Are you okay?”

“Yeah. I don’t know what happened, I just got really beat all of a sudden.”

“It’s not surprising. We had a very heavy, lengthy conversation involving our future. It was emotionally tiring and your mind needed a break.”

“Oh. Are you okay?”

Castiel smiled at him. “I am, thank you for asking. I’ve done this before, but it’s all new to you. In fact, what we just did could be considered aftercare.”

“Really? I thought that was only after a scene or something.”

“Aftercare means simply that I am attending to your needs when you are physically and/or mentally spent. That’s all.”

Dean looked down at his hands. “I liked what you did, by the way.”

“Good. I’ll do that often, if you like.”

“I would. I guess I have a lot to think about.”

“Aftercare should be pleasant to think about, not stressful. Just keep that in mind.”

“Okay.” Dean wondered if he were being dismissed. “Um, do you have to go now?”

“I don’t. Do you? I was hoping to spend some more time together.”

Dean brightened. “No, that’s great. I just thought maybe you had to go, and I didn’t want to keep you.”

“Not at all. I do think we should let Charlie go home, though. So she can recover before work tomorrow.”

“Yeah. We should send some of this food with her, too.”

“Good idea. I don’t know if you’re interested, but maybe we could go have a late lunch.”

“That actually sounds great. I shouldn’t be hungry, but I’m starving for some reason.”

“Again, very understandable. I’ll pack up the food, you go find Charlie.”

Dean found her in the darkened employee lounge at the end of the hall, fast asleep on the sofa, her jacket draped over her head.

“Charles.” Dean gave her shoulder a little shake. “Are you alive?”

“If I take this jacket off my head and you’ve turned the lights on, I will quite possibly punch you.”

“Don’t worry, it’s still pitch dark in here. But we’re done here for the day, and we thought we’d load you up with food and send you home.”

Charlie uncovered one eye and squinted at him. “Thank God. My bed is calling me. And I’m pretty sure Kev is still there--he was passed out on the couch when I left. So extra food would be a great idea.”

Castiel had sorted the food into two packages--a small one with a few doughnuts for Dean to take home for later, and everything else for Charlie.

“Castiel, you are a lifesaver. I assume your conversation with Dean went well, but if things don’t work out, I’ll still consider marrying you.”

“I’m very flattered, Charlie. Thank you for coming in on your day off. We appreciate it very much.”

“No worries, man.” Charlie checked to make sure that all the lights were switched off, and placed her sunglasses firmly on her face before they stepped outside. Dean and Castiel waited for her to lock up and saw her to her car. She waved furiously as she drove away.

Dean gestured to Castiel’s waiting car and driver. “So, are we gonna go with him, or separate, or…”

“Actually, could we go in your car? It would be more private. I like Garth well enough, but he’s pretty new, and I don’t know him that well yet.”

“Oh, no, that’d be fine. I hate he had to wait all that time for nothing, though. What does he do when he’s waiting for you?”

“Usually he finds a nearby coffee shop with wi-fi. He’s always staring at that phone of his. Either he’s addicted to some kind of game or he’s got a significant other he’s always texting. Hold on, I’ll go tell him to go hang out for a while.” Castiel trotted over to the Lexus and had a short conversation with the driver, who nodded and drove away.

Dean ambled over to join him. “Maybe Garth’s in the mafia, or the CIA, and this job is a cover for him. Or he has an online gambling problem.”

“No. Anna did a pretty thorough background check on him. Plus, he doesn’t seem the type.”

“So, you said Gabriel is older, and Michael is younger. What about your sister?”

“Anna is my twin, actually.”

“Twins? Interesting. I don’t really know any twins.” Dean unlocked the passenger door of the Cadillac and opened the door for Castiel.

“Apparently they run in the family. Michael’s children are also twins.” Castiel settled into the car and leaned over to unlock the driver’s side for Dean.

“Thanks. A boy and a girl, you said?”

“Yes. Jack and Claire. They’re three.”

Dean buckled his seatbelt and started the car. “So where we headed?”

“I was thinking The Sandwich Bowl. Does that sound okay?”

“Never eaten there, but I’ve seen it. It sounds good.”

Castiel smiled at him. “I think you’ll like it. Do you like going out to eat?”

“I love it, but I’ve never really eaten anywhere fancier than a fast food restaurant or a diner. Dad was always like, ‘We got food at home, boys.’”

Castiel glanced at Dean’s arm. “And did he keep enough food at home?”

“Oh, yeah. I mean, he kept up with it better when Sam was home. You know, he was a growing alpha, needed a lot of food.” Dean pulled out onto the street. “Now mind you, it wasn’t always stuff that went together well. I had to be creative.”

“I’ll bet you became an excellent cook. Necessity is the mother of invention.”

“I guess. So what’s good at this place?”

“Well, they usually have different soups every day. I like the bacon, avocado, turkey, and havarti sandwich.”

Dean gave him a look. “And what’s havarti, exactly?”

“Oh, it’s a cheese. Sort of soft and buttery.”

“That sounds good. But I’m not sure about avocado.”

Castiel did a double take. “You’ve never had avocado?”

“Dude, consider where I grew up. They don’t sell avocados at the gas station on the corner. Too expensive.”

“Well, you can try mine and see if you like it.”

“So you don’t mind sharing your food? That bodes well for our relationship.”

The restaurant wasn’t very busy due to the time, so they were able to get a somewhat isolated booth. Dean wondered if more relationship conversation was coming. He didn’t really mind talking about that kind of thing with Castiel; at least everything was clear and well-defined.

Dean ended up with something called a double grilled cheese, and a cup of tomato soup. Castiel cut off a piece of his sandwich for him to try, and Dean poked at the avocado suspiciously before he took a bite.

“It’s good. Adds kind of an interesting texture. But it’s better if you don’t look at it.”

Castiel laughed. “They can be an acquired taste.”

“Would you like some of my sandwich?” Dean thought that it was polite to at least ask.

“No, thank you. I’ll have a hard enough time finishing this.” Castiel gave him a quick smile. “I hate to bring up a more serious subject while we’re having lunch, but have you thought about when you’d like to have our wedding?”

Dean felt a pleasant warmth in his chest when he heard the words ‘our wedding.’ “As soon as possible. I mean, I guess a weekend would be better for you because of work. Could we do it next Saturday?”

“You’re absolutely certain you want to go through with it this quickly?”

“I’d do it tomorrow, if I could.”

“Very well. Full speed ahead, then. Luckily, Charlie has offered her services as a wedding planner.”

“Oh. I didn’t know she’d ever planned a wedding.”

“She hasn’t.” Castiel took a sip of tea and avoided Dean’s gaze. Dean held out as long as he could before he snorted with laughter, which in turn triggered a chuckle from Castiel. “I know, I know. But she was so excited about it, and to be honest, I’m don’t mind what the wedding is like. I’m mostly excited about being married.”

“Yeah, me too. I’m not picky, as long as we get hitched. Do you have any ideas, though?”

“Actually, yes.”

“Of course you do.”

Castiel smiled sheepishly. “Well, just hear me out. I thought we could get married at the country club. It’s not my favorite place, but it would be difficult to book a room anywhere else at the eleventh hour. And I’m sure Emily could help Charlie get everything arranged.”

“That makes sense. Are…are we talking a big shindig, here? Lots of people?”

“Oh, no. I’d prefer a more intimate event. I’d like to invite my siblings, and Ellen of course, but there’s no one else I really want to include. How about you?”

“Oh, yeah. Small is better. Since Charlie is the wedding planner, she’ll be there, of course. I think Kevin would probably be jealous if we didn’t invite him, too. And I’d like to have my friend Benny and his wife Andrea, if they can come.”

“And Sam, of course.”

Dean looked down at his plate, and carefully placed his soup spoon back in the bowl. “Actually, I’m not going to ask Sam.”

“Really? Dean, look at me. You’re not inviting Sam?” Castiel reached across the table for Dean’s hand. He interlaced their fingers lightly. “Have you even told him?”

Dean took a deep breath. “No. I haven’t. And I won’t, until it’s all over. Look, it’s hard to explain.”

“I’m listening.”

“You don’t know Sam. He’s the most stubborn damned kid I ever saw. If I tell him, he’ll jump to the worst possible conclusion. He’ll quit school and come running back to Lawrence, and everything will be screwed up. I can’t do anything that risks Sam’s future. It’s more important than anything.”

Castiel nodded. “I do understand, and I’ll do whatever you think is best regarding your own family. But do you really think this is wise, Dean?”

Dean huffed. “Of course it’s not wise. But I’ve got no other choice.”

“Well. I will trust your judgement.”

Dean sighed with relief. “I know it doesn’t seem like the right thing to do, but trust me, it is.” He pushed his plate away a few inches. “I can kind of tell him more gradually, you know? I’ll e-mail him soon and say that I’ve met someone, and we’ll go from there, and then before his next school break I’ll tell him we got married.”

Castiel squeezed Dean’s hand, lightly, then let go. “Yes. We could invite him to visit over the holidays, if you like.”

“I would. Thank you for backing me up on this, Castiel.”

“We’re a team now, Dean.” Castiel smiled so broadly that there were crinkles at the corners of his eyes, and Dean felt a rush of affection.

“So what day do you think we could have the wedding?”

“Next Saturday is a little soon. I don’t see how we could get everything done in less than a week. If we put it off until next week, I think I could manage to take Friday off. We could get married on Thursday evening, then have a long weekend together. We could have a mini-honeymoon at home.”

“I love it. Let’s do that.”

“That way you can have a bit of time to settle in, and we can get to know each other better. I’ll take you on a real honeymoon later, of course. Anywhere you want to go. Maybe after the first of the year?”

Dean had butterflies in his chest. Damn it, he was turning into a romantic. “You want to take me on a honeymoon?”

“Of course, Dean. Isn’t that a typical thing people do after they get married?”

“Yeah. I just didn’t think that I’d ever get to go on one. It sounds fun.”

“Well, it’s settled, then. I’ll call Charlie tomorrow morning.”

“Great. So what do I have to do?”

“You’ll have to be fitted for a wedding suit--I’m sure Charlie will arrange that. And she’ll probably call you a dozen times a day to ask you questions. Oh, and there’s the marriage contract. We’ll have to get that finalized and signed.”

“Oh. Yeah.” Dean knew that wealthy people always had marriage contracts, but he never thought he’d be signing one. “Makes sense. You gotta protect yourself.”

“I do, but my main goal in writing this contract was to make sure that you are protected. Let me assure you that no matter what happens, you will not have to worry.”

“Oh.” Dean took his napkin and folded it in half, then in half again. “Is it like the other contract?”

“No. That contract is between the two of us only. The marriage contract is a legal document, and mainly discusses the financial aspects of our marriage. Since I have the advantage concerning legal matters, I want you to meet with another attorney to review it. Someone more objective. I don’t want you to feel like you were pressured in any way.”

“I don’t know any lawyers. Well, I met one who was handling my dad’s estate, but I didn’t really like him that much.”

“Select Omegas has an in-house attorney, so you wouldn’t need to pay an extra fee if you consulted her. Marriage contracts are most certainly in her wheelhouse, and she is very professional.” Castiel sounded strangely reluctant.

“Do you know her?”

“I do, but you don’t have to worry that she will show me any favoritism.” Castiel gave him a half-smile. “We used to be…involved, and we didn’t part as friends.”

Dean was surprised by the intense jealousy he felt. It was silly; of course Castiel had had partners before him. He had known that. But he’d never thought he would meet one of them. “So she used to be your submissive?”

“No. Actually, I was her submissive. But that was a long while ago, Dean.”

Dean pushed his chair back from the table a bit. “Hold on. Wait. You were a submissive? I don’t understand.”

“It’s not that difficult to imagine. She worked at the family firm years ago, so I saw her often. I was very young, my mother had recently died, and my father was emotionally distant. I was yearning for guidance, and Abigail provided that, after a fashion.” Castiel was quiet for a moment. “It would be easy to regret the relationship, but I learned a lot from Abigail. I learned what kind of dominant I did NOT want to be.”

“So she took advantage of you?” Now Dean felt fiercely protective. God, he was just a whirlwind of emotions today.

“No, she did not. I was of age, and I consented to everything that we did.”

“How old were you?”

“It started when I was eighteen, and ended when I was nineteen.”

Dean nodded. “How old was she?”

“Thirty-two.”

“So she did take advantage of you! You were so young…”

“We have an age difference, too, Dean.”

“Twenty-two and twenty-eight is a lot different from eighteen and thirty-two.”

“Perhaps. At any rate, she left the firm soon after we ended things. Told my father that the organization was ‘rife with nepotism’. She was correct, of course. And I bear her no ill will. The position at Select Omegas is a prestigious one, and she seems to have done well for herself.” Castiel shrugged, and Dean understood that he was ready to drop the subject. “What do you want to do this afternoon, Dean?”

“Could we just...sit somewhere and talk, maybe? Nothing heavy, we could just be together.”

“That sounds perfect. There’s a coffee shop down the street with some comfy chairs.”


Dean pulled back into his driveway around 5:30. He and Castiel had spent a pleasant afternoon at the coffee place, people watching and chatting. It was so easy, talking to Castiel. He’d rarely experienced that with anyone.

He flopped down on the couch and pulled out his phone to text Charlie.

Hey, kid. Call me when you wake up.

He was only half surprised when his phone immediately started buzzing.

“Oooh my God, Dean, it’s all happening! Castiel sent me an email about your plans, he didn’t expect me to read it til tomorrow of course, but I’ve already called the club and they can do next Thursday at seven. I wasn’t surprised, I mean, it’s Castiel Novak’s wedding, they’d be crazy to turn that down. They’ll provide a private room for you to get ready, the guests can have cocktails, then we’ll have dinner after the ceremony. Dean? Are you still there?”

“Glad to see you’ve fully recovered.”

Charlie huffed. “I’m great, Dean. I took a nap and then Kev and I watched some Netflix and ate doughnuts. Anyway, this wedding business has energized me. I’ve emailed Emily, I’m sure she’ll help, wedding planning would look great on her resume. And Kev will be the photographer, of course.”

“I hadn’t even thought about a photographer.”

“And that’s why you have a wedding planner. Don’t worry about a thing, Dean. I was born ready for this.” Charlie paused for a second, and Dean wondered if his phone had died. “I don’t wanna be nosy, obviously, but did everything go okay with Castiel? I assumed it had, what with the email about your wedding, but I wanted to hear it straight from you.”

“Yeah. It went better than I expected, actually. We discussed a lot of things, got on the same page with each other. I’m really nervous, but really excited, you know?”

“Good. I want you to be happy, Dean.”

“Thanks, Charlie. I’ll let you go, I’m gonna call a friend to invite him, and I know you probably got a lot to do. I’ll see you soon anyway, Castiel wants me to meet with the agency lawyer to review our marriage contract.”

“You’re meeting with Ms. Donne? Ooooh. I’ll be excited to hear what you think of her. Don’t get me wrong, you’re a client, she’ll be very professional, but oh man, she is intense.”

“So I’ve heard. Get some rest, now. Tell Kev thanks for me.”

“No prob! Talk to ya soon.”

Dean took a deep breath and dialed Benny’s number. They’d always communicated in person or by text, so a phone call felt uncomfortable, but extending a wedding invitation by text felt wrong.

“Hey, brother, what’s up? Everything okay?”

“Yeah, Benny, I’m good. Any luck finding work yet?”

“Yep, got hired at the Budget Brakes over on Main Street. Not exactly what I wanted, but it’ll pay the bills while I look for something better.”

“Good. Glad to hear it.” Dean cleared his throat. “So listen, the reason I was calling is to ask if you and Andrea might be able to come to my wedding. Not this Thursday, but next Thursday. Like around seven?”

Benny whistled. “You sure didn’t drag your feet, did you? Yeah, we’ll be glad to come. Are you sure you want to move that fast, though?”

“I feel like it’s the best thing, yeah.”

“And your fiancé, or whatever, is he a good guy?”

“Yeah. He is.”

“Well, he better be, or he’ll hear from me. Or even worse, from Andrea. Where’s this shindig at?”

“Lawrence Country Club.”

“Oh, well, then Andrea will come for sure. Wild horses couldn’t keep her away, she’s always wanted to see the inside of that place.”

“Thanks for this, Benny. I don’t have a lot of folks to invite, you know? I’ll text you if anything changes.”

“No problem, brother. You call anytime if you need something, you hear me?”

Now he just had to email Sam. Dean wasn’t used to typing on a smartphone, so it took him an embarrassing amount of time to finish the message.

Sam,
Hey, hope everything’s good with you. I just wanted to tell you that I met someone recently. He’s a good guy. Kind of the perfect combination of serious and fun. You know what I mean? Anyway, I just wanted to keep you in the loop. I know you’ll tell me to be careful, and I will. Talk to ya soon.
Dean

He reread the message twice. It seemed inadequate, but it was best to keep things simple. If he gave Sam a name, the little shit would be googling Castiel immediately. Dean pressed ‘send’, and stretched out on the sofa. It was the best he could do.

 

Chapter Text

Dean napped for about an hour, and awoke to a completely darkened house, as he hadn’t turned on any lights when he came in. He was momentarily disoriented, but after a moment of feeling around on the couch for his phone, he held it up to his face and was able to focus on it.

There were the expected couple of texts from Charlie, both about possible entrees for the wedding dinner. He made a mental note to answer her later, because the remaining messages were from Castiel.

Hello, Dean. I hope you made it home safely. I’ve sent the email I promised, but you don’t have to read it right away. You’ve gone through a lot today already, so just rest if you need to.

Followed by:

Today was the best day I’ve had in a long while. I’m honored and happy that you want to marry me.

Dean found himself grinning from ear to ear as he typed a reply.

Hey, Castiel. The pleasure’s all mine. I just hope you can put up with me

He hauled himself up from the couch and flipped on the light switch. He’d eaten enough today that he didn’t have to worry about supper. He might eat the rest of the doughnuts later, if he got hungry, or maybe some cereal. He opened the refrigerator and found it mostly empty. His phone buzzed.

I’ll do far more than put up with you, Dean Winchester.

Dean rolled his eyes.

There you go again, 0 to 60, Castiel. Not that I mind

Dean was searching for a winking emoji when his phone buzzed again.

Get some rest, dear one. And call me anytime you need anything, no matter what time it is. All right?

The unexpectedly tender reply gave Dean a lump in his throat.

Thank you. You too, okay? Good night

Dean had been all set to read Castiel’s latest email, but after this exchange, he decided to wait. A lot of things had been decided today, and he needed to recharge. Dean found a package of crackers--only slightly stale--and a Coke, and returned to the sofa to watch Doctor Who.

The next morning, he was awakened by another text from Castiel.

Good morning, sweetheart (I hope it’s all right if I call you that?) I hope you rested well. I’m headed to work, but it’s going to be hard to concentrate when I am constantly thinking of you.

Dean smiled at his phone, and was unable to wait even a minute to reply.

Morning, Castiel. Of course it's okay to call me sweetheart, I like it. I slept pretty well, did you? I’m probably going to go grocery shopping this morning and then I’m going to read your email.

Buy anything you want, all right? If you run out of money I’ll add some more to the gift card.

Dude, I could survive for months on five hundred dollars’ worth of food.

But buying gas will take up a lot of it. I mean it, anything you want. I want you to be comfortable.

Thank you, Castiel. I appreciate it.

I’m almost at work now, Dean, but text me anytime. Could I call you during my lunch break?

Sure thing, Castiel. Have a good morning.

Dean breakfasted on the last of the doughnuts and a glass of tap water, and left the house as quickly as possible. There had been a chill in the air the past couple of days, and the Cadillac thankfully had a good heater. The house was so drafty during the winter; lucky he’d found an alpha before wintertime set in.

He didn’t come near spending the remaining money on the gift card, but Dean did splurge a bit. Milk, orange juice, soda, two kinds of cereal. Bread and chips. Ground beef and chicken and actual fresh vegetables. Canned tomatoes to make marinara sauce. As he was pushing the cart through the frozen foods section, Dean spotted an item he’d coveted his entire childhood: toaster strudel. He had known better than to ever ask for them; John even refused to buy name brand PopTarts, but in Dean’s childhood fantasies, toaster strudels were a delicacy beyond imagining. He selected a box of apple pastries and felt positively rakish as he placed them in his cart.

He then visited the health and beauty aisle, where he stocked up on nicer shampoo and aftershave than he could normally afford. He wanted to smell nice for Castiel.

“Dean? Is that you?” He turned to see Mildred, the blue-haired librarian, pushing a cart toward him. “I haven’t seen you at the library in a few days! How are you?”

Dean found, to his surprise, that he was glad to see Mildred. “I’m good. I’ve been busy.” His happiness bubbled up inside him, and he blurted out, “I’m getting married.”

“Oh goodness! Congratulations, young man. When is the big day?”

“Weekend after next.”

“Well, I imagine you are busy, then. It’s just around the corner.” Mildred regarded him sternly. “Is your fiancé good to you?”

“Yeah. He is.”

“Well, now. You’re not going to be too busy to come see us at the library, are you? There’s a monthly get-together for married omegas. Sort of a support group/social gathering.”

“That...sounds nice, actually. I’ll definitely come by.”

“All right, then. I’ll let you get back to shopping.” Mildred nodded toward his cart. “I’m glad to see you buying all that food. You need to put some meat on your bones!” She rolled away, leaning heavily on her cart.

Dean could hardly wait to get home and cook something real. He couldn’t stop thinking about a chicken and rice recipe that he’d gotten from one of his mom’s old cookbooks years ago. He was going to make it and then eat until he couldn’t hold any more, damn it.

Dean hummed to himself as he seasoned the chicken and put it on to cook. Making food had always calmed him, and it was even better now that he didn’t have to worry about making the ingredients last. He’d stopped cooking much after Sam left. He hadn’t realized how much he missed it.

He set out everything he’d need to finish the dish in a neat row on the counter, then took a deep breath. Enough stalling, he told himself. Time to read the e-mail. He sat down at the kitchen table and pulled out his phone. There was a message from Sam, too, but he ignored it.

Dean,
I've attached a list of possible aftercare activities. I thought you might respond in a similar way to our list that we went through this afternoon, in terms of how interested you are in a particular item. One caveat: this list is by no means exhaustive. My hope is that by reading it, you will come up with ideas of your own and add to it.

Try to be in the right frame of mind when reviewing it. The only thing you must consider is whether or not YOU would enjoy the activities, and if they would make you feel happy and cared for. Try not to consider what you think I would like, or what you think you should like.

I have also provided a link to a thoughtful discussion of subspace and aftercare. As always, text or email me at any time with thoughts or questions.

Yours,
Castiel

Dean held his breath and opened the list.

Every scene will be followed by the following aftercare components:

  • Immediate assessment of your mental and physical state and well-being.
  • Being offered water and juice
  • Being cleaned up gently with warm towels
  • Being wrapped in soft clothing and/or blankets
  • Being offered food when you are alert enough

I will have all items needed on hand so that I will not need to leave your side while you are recovering.

Here is a list of some possible aftercare activities. Go through them as we did our other lists and indicate which you find appealing. The aftercare activities that we participate in on a particular day will depend on your wants and needs at the time. Every situation will be a bit different, so we will probably choose different combinations from the list every time.

  1. Being read to
  2. Watching television programs or movies that you find soothing. Ideal are programs that you have seen before and don’t require a lot of concentration. Pick things that make you feel comfortable and at ease.
  3. Being hand fed
  4. Being bathed
  5. Massage (Back/neck, Scalp, Hands/arms, feet/ankles, etc.)
  6. Being held/cuddled
  7. Being wrapped in soft clothing or blankets
  8. Being praised
  9. Being kissed softly
  10. Having your hair brushed or stroked
  11. Listening to soothing music
  12. Being sung to

Dean laid the phone down on the kitchen table, his hands shaking slightly. He checked the progress on the chicken, even though it had only been a few minutes since he’d put it in to cook. He wiped down the kitchen counters and dusted the top of the microwave.

Fuck it, he thought. It was almost lunchtime. He picked up the phone and dialed Castiel’s number.

“Dean! What a nice surprise.” Castiel did indeed sound pleased. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”

“I’m having some trouble. With the email you sent. I guess I wanted to talk.” Dean cleared his throat. “But I don’t want to bother you if, you know, you’re still working.”

“It’s not a bother at all. My assistant has already left for lunch, so it’s a great time to talk.” Castiel paused. “What kind of trouble, Dean?”

Dean couldn’t speak for a moment. “I. I can’t understand it. Is it something people actually do?”

“Of course it is, Dean. We’ve spoken about aftercare before, albeit briefly. Remember one of the first emails I sent to you?”

“Yeah. But I kind of figured it was just, you know, lip service. Something that sounds nice, but no one actually does it.”

Castiel was silent for a moment. “Dean, it is absolutely something we will do after every scene. It’s crucial. Did you read the article I sent you about subspace?”

“No. I’m gonna, but I read through the list and I just felt really...messed up, or something.”

“Was there something on the list that bothered you? Because we can cross off any items that…”

“No, that’s not it.” Dean took a ragged breath. “The thing is, it all sounded good. Everything on that list sounded awesome, but I never thought about someone doing even one of those things for me, much less all of them, and you can’t promise me something like that if it’s not actually gonna happen…”

“Dean. Okay, slow down. Are you sitting down right now? Go sit somewhere comfortable, okay?”

“Can’t. I’m cooking chicken.”

“It will be fine for a few minutes. Turn the heat off and go sit down on the sofa.”

“Okay.” Dean turned the oven dial to zero and went into the living room.

“Dean, are you still there?”

“Yeah. I laid down on the couch.”

“Good. Now, close your eyes and take some deep breaths. Put me on speaker. I’m going to stay with you.”

Dean drew one arm across his chest and gripped the opposite shoulder. He couldn’t seem to move enough air through his nose, so he opened his mouth and panted softly. He was glad Castiel wasn’t here to see him like this, with his mouth hanging open. Dean startled slightly when Castiel spoke.

“We drove by the little lake with all the ducks on my way to work this morning. Garth and me. He slowed down as we passed, and we could see some children feeding bread to the ducks. They were laughing, and the ducks were so excited.” Castiel laughed softly. “I should take Jack and Claire out there, they’d love it. But I’d have to have help in case they decided to jump into the water.”

“Not supposed to do that. Feeding bread to the ducks. ‘S bad for them.” Dean found that even this short speech took the wind out of him.

“I didn’t know that. What are you supposed to feed them?”

“Duck food, I guess. But I don’t think it’s good to feed them too much of anything. They get diseases and shit.”

“Ah. Another myth debunked. Maybe I’ll just take the twins duck watching, then.”

“Sounds nice.”

“You could go with us.”

“I’d like that. We could take a picnic. Duck a l’orange.”

“Duck…” Castiel replied blankly, then burst into laughter. “You made a joke. I hope that’s a good sign.”

“Maybe.” Dean rolled onto his side, face toward the back of the couch, and curled up.

“What are you cooking?”

“Chicken and rice. Mom’s old recipe. Dunno why, it’s way too much for one person to eat.”

“Dean, this is probably presumptuous of me, but...I would love to share it with you.”

Dean opened his eyes in surprise. “You want me to bring it to your house tonight?”

“I could come to your house. That way you wouldn’t have to transport it.”

Dean chewed his lower lip. “Why would you want to come to my house?”

“Because it’s where you are.”

“No, look, Castiel. It’s a crappy house in a crappy neighborhood, there’s no reason anyone would want to come here.”

“I’m sorry, Dean. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. But I truly don’t mind where I go, as long as you are there.”

“All right. I don’t mind, then. Just don’t expect too much.”

“I’ll be there around six, if that suits you. We can talk.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll let you get back to your food, then. But if you feel badly at any point this afternoon, you are to call me. I’ll have my phone on my desk.”

“Okay.”

“Goodbye, sweetheart. See you soon.”

Damn him, Dean thought. He had to finish with an endearment like that, ensuring that Dean wouldn’t be able to think about anything else. He laid on the couch, staring at the ceiling, for around ten minutes, until he thought his legs wouldn’t be shaky. Then he stepped softly back into the kitchen to deal with the abandoned chicken.

The afternoon passed slowly as molasses. There was very little left in the house to clean, and Dean could have made the recipe on autopilot. Around three, he decided to read Castiel’s article. As he opened his email, he saw the forgotten message from Sam.

Dean,
That’s great, man! I’m really glad you’re getting out there and meeting people. So are things serious with this guy? If so, I’ll have to meet him soon. I’ll do the whole alpha “don’t you dare hurt my brother ever” bit. :P

And...I have some news too. I met a girl named Jess. We’re not officially dating yet, but I hope we will be soon. She’s beautiful and smart and great. Anyway, I gotta get back to studying. Talk soon?

Sam

Dean smiled in spite of himself. It didn’t really matter what happened to him; Sam was happy at Stanford, and he had done the right thing to make sure he could continue there. It was what Sam deserved--a beautiful girl, a bright future. He hit reply.

Hey, Sam.
I’m glad to hear that, man. I was worried that all the Stanford girls would be afraid of you because you’re eight feet tall. I take it this Jess doesn’t scare easily. (Just don’t let her distract you from school.)

As for me, yeah, it might be serious. He’s coming over for dinner tonight.

Dean

He settled in on the sofa to read Castiel’s article.


Dean waited near the living room window as the time drew near, and his heart skipped a beat as he saw Castiel’s black Lexus approach. He slipped out onto the porch just as Castiel emerged from the driver’s seat.

“What the hell, man? I thought you didn’t drive.”

“Just because I don’t care for driving doesn’t mean that I can’t.” Castiel looked stressed out. He must have changed clothing before leaving work; he was wearing dark jeans and an expensive looking sweater.

“Hey, if you’re worried about the car in this neighborhood, I can back the Impala out, and you can put yours in the garage.”

“No, Dean. It’s fine.” Castiel leaned back into the car and pulled out a reusable shopping bag. “Did you say the Impala is in there? Could I see it?”

“Her,” Dean corrected, as a smile spread across his face. “Yeah. Come on in.” They both squeezed into the narrow, one-car space.

Castiel reached out and ran a hand gently over the shiny black paint. “She’s beautiful.”

“Yeah. My dad bought her when he was dating my mom. I grew up in this car.” Dean turned away. “I’m gonna miss her.”

“Yes. Well. Shall we go inside?”

Dean led him into the tiny house, flinching slightly as they passed through the front hallway with the hole in the wall, and into the living room with its threadbare carpet. Castiel’s face remained serene, and he reached into the shopping bag.

“I bought these for you, Dean. I hope it was all right.” Castiel handed him a bunch of the darkest red roses, and Dean couldn’t breathe for a moment. He touched the petals, which were soft as silk.

“Yeah, Castiel. It’s all right.” Dean swallowed hard. “Thank you.”

“I also brought a bottle of wine. Not to pressure you into drinking, just to be polite. You don’t have to…”

“It’s okay, man. That sounds great.” Dean accepted the bottle and gestured toward the kitchen. “Shall we?”

Dean faced a dilemma of sorts; the two gifts Castiel had brought demanded a vase and wine glasses, and he had neither. He opened a cabinet door and stared into it for inspiration, and came up with a yellow Tupperware pitcher for the roses. He filled it with water and arranged the flowers in it, carefully not looking at Castiel. Dean’s next foray into the cabinet found some juice glasses for the wine. He placed them on the table next to the wine bottle and shrugged.

“Best I can do, man.”

“It’s fine, Dean. Umm...I hate to ask, but do you have a corkscrew for the wine?”

“Uhh...wait wait wait. I have a Swiss Army knife someplace.” Dean rummaged through a catchall drawer filled with random broken spare parts and came up triumphant. “I’ll let you handle that. I’ve never opened a wine bottle before, I’d probably break it.”

“Of course. You serve the food; I’ll pour the wine.”

Dean filled two plates with food directly from the cooking pots. It wasn’t ideal, but he didn't really have any serving dishes. He turned to place them on the table, where Castiel was pouring dark red wine into the glasses.

“This smells divine, Dean. I’m absolutely famished.” Castiel took a large bite, and closed his eyes in appreciation. “This is wonderful! You’re an excellent cook.”

“Well. I try.” Dean picked up a glass. “Are we supposed to make a toast?”

“Oh, of course. To us--what would be more appropriate?”

They clinked juice glasses, and Dean took a big sip. Ugh. The wine tasted slightly bitter. He managed a big smile for Castiel’s benefit. “Nice. Oaky.”

“I suppose so. I have to confess that I have never had an aptitude for wine tasting. Michael is obsessed with wine. I enjoy it, but I don’t appreciate like he does.”

“To each their own, I guess.” Dean dug into his food. After an afternoon of delicious cooking smells, he was starving. He held himself back from shoveling chicken into his mouth for Castiel’s sake, though.

“I’m very glad you were able to host me tonight. I’m having a few renovations done in my home--some last minute things before the wedding--and the only way they’ve been able to fit me in is by working evenings. The workers came in this very evening to start, so I would’ve went home to a lot of noise and dust, I’m afraid.”

Dean frowned. “Don’t do any renovations on my account, Castiel. I’m sure everything is more than fine.”

“It’s nothing major, Dean. I just wanted a few things changed, so as to better suit our needs, and I preferred to have it done before you moved in.”

“Oh.” Dean tried not to think about how much money Castiel must have offered the construction company in order to make them amenable to starting that very evening.

“Maybe you could come over and see the house next weekend? That way you wouldn’t be coming to an unfamiliar place on our wedding night.”

Dean felt equal amounts of excitement and apprehension at the mention of their wedding night. “That would be good. If it’s not too much trouble.”

“Of course it isn’t.” Castiel took another sip of wine. “Don’t be nervous about our wedding night or our honeymoon, Dean. I intend to take very good care of you. There won’t be anything that makes you uncomfortable.”

Dean took a big swig of wine and forced it down. He didn’t want Castiel to think he didn’t like his gift. “I like hearing you say that.” At Castiel’s questioning look, he explained, “When you say you’ll take good care of me.”

Castiel reached over the table and brushed his fingers over Dean’s hand. “I mean every word.”

“I’m glad I’m not marrying another alpha.” Dean considered the horror of having to be mated by someone he barely knew on the first night they spent together, and shook his head a bit to clear the image.

“Dean? Are you all right?”

“What about the mating?” Dean blurted out. “We’ve talked about sex, but what about the mating bite?”

Castiel’s eyes softened. “We won’t be doing that until you feel ready for it, either. I really should have covered that in our discussion yesterday, if I had thought. It’s just that the timing of the mating bite is usually covered in the marriage contract, so I had included a clause which states that it will happen when and if both parties agree to it.”

“Oh. Okay.” Dean felt weak with relief. Mating bites were permanent, of course, and he’d heard they could be quite painful as well. “Um, what do marriage contracts usually say about that?”

Castiel gave him a regretful look. “Most state that the marriage must be sexually consummated and the mating bite completed on the wedding night. If these things don’t happen, then the alpha has the right to withdraw the dowry offer, any financial support of the omega, and the marriage can be annulled.”

“Damn. That’s cold. Do alphas actually do that if the wedding night doesn’t go as planned?”

“I’m sure not all of them do. If the alpha is an understanding person, then they might let it pass. But some do, and the terrible thing is that they have every right to. It’s really a travesty how some omegas are treated.”

“That could have been me.”

“Dean, I have crafted this contract with the utmost care. You will be protected in every possible eventuality. You’ll never have to face such a thing, I promise.”

Dean pushed the last bit of rice around his plate. He couldn’t meet Castiel’s eyes. “Thank you. I really can’t believe I’ve gotten this lucky.”

“Good things do happen, Dean.” Castiel hesitated. “Is...is that why you were upset after you read the list I sent you? You can’t believe that someone could be caring and affectionate toward you?”

“Occasionally, sure. But on a regular basis is hard to believe. I just don’t want to expect things like that and then not get them.”

Castiel nodded and poured some more wine in his juice glass. “Would you like more wine, Dean? I don’t want to seem as though I’m pressuring you to drink, or that I’m trying to take advantage…”

“No, it’s okay. I’ll take a little more.” As Dean had finished his first glass, the bitterness had dulled a bit. Maybe the wine had killed his taste buds. At any rate, he was starting to feel warm and relaxed. He noticed with pride that Castiel had cleaned his plate. “Do you want any more food? I don’t think I can go for seconds right now.”

“No, I can’t either. But I won’t rule out eating more in a little while. It was a wonderful meal, Dean. Thank you so much for sharing it with me.”

Dean blushed as he got up to gather the plates. “It wasn’t much, but I’m glad you liked it.”

“Don’t be so modest. I’m fortunate that my fiancé is such a wonderful cook.”

Dean ran some water over the dishes. “Well, at least you’re getting something out of this deal.”

Castiel frowned. “Dean, what I’ve gotten “out of this deal” is a kind-hearted, vibrant, and interesting fiancé. Even if you never cook another thing for me, I still count myself as very lucky. Now, I insist on helping you do the dishes.”

“No, I’m gonna let them soak for a few minutes. We’ll wash them later, I’m too full right now.” Dean kept his back turned to Castiel, so that he wouldn’t see him blushing. “You make me sound better than I really am.”

“No, I don’t. You just don’t realize how special you are. That you deserve all the good things in life.” Castiel’s voice was close, almost in his ear, and he ran a hand gently down Dean’s arm. “Now. Will you please come sit and talk to me?”

Dean turned and found that Castiel was indeed very close; he could feel the heat from the alpha’s body. “Will you kiss me first?” He had no idea what had made him that bold, only that he wanted it very badly.

“One kiss,” Castiel told him sternly. “Then we talk.” He leaned over to reach Dean’s lips, rather than pressing him against the counter, and Dean found that he appreciated that. He could slip away at any time, if he wanted, and that made him less nervous.

Dean had kissed a few alphas--or rather, they had kissed him; Dean had never had much of a say in the matter. He could handle himself, but there were times when he had to let the alphas have their way to avoid trouble. If one of his father’s best customers pushed him against the register and felt him up, he could hardly punch them in the face, could he? They would have lied about it to his father, his father would have been angry, and they would have lost business.

“Nobody wants to hear a mouthy omega,” John had told him, so many times. “Keep your smart mouth shut when you’re dealing with my customers. The customer is always right, remember that.”

Castiel was so different. He led the way, but gave Dean space to respond; he was confident but tender. Dean was surrounded by his scent, and he felt he could never get enough. When Castiel finally pulled away, Dean yearned to follow, to be close to him always.

“You taste so good,” Dean told him breathlessly. “I didn’t know anyone could taste so good.”

Castiel cupped Dean’s jaw with his hand. “You taste exquisite, little omega. I look forward to tasting you everywhere.” Dean shivered, and reached out to pull Castiel back in. “No, dear one. I didn’t come here to take advantage of you. Let’s go sit and be comfortable.” Dean whined very softly, and Castiel laughed. “You’re making it very difficult for me to behave like a gentleman, Dean. I’ll kiss you again before I leave, if you’re good.”

“I’ll be good,” Dean replied immediately, making Castiel laugh. They settled in on the living room sofa, one on each end. Dean kicked his shoes off, and after a moment’s hesitation, Castiel did as well. “Look at you getting casual.”

“It’s the wine, I think.” Castiel looked around, squinting slightly. “It’s rather cold in here, Dean.”

“Yeah, the house is pretty drafty. Heat doesn’t really work that well, and I try not to turn in on til it gets below freezing.”

Castiel tilted his head; he looked displeased.

“Don’t give me that look, Castiel. I’m okay, I’ve got blankets, and I can bundle up if I need to.”

“I’m not giving you any look. I just don’t like the thought of you shivering.”

Dean pulled a big blanket from the back of the couch and unfolded it. “Well, this is the best I can do. Hold on, I’ll get another one for me.”

“We don’t need two.” Castiel covered himself with the blanket and held one end up for Dean, who scooted under it and nestled against Castiel. “There we are. Nice and cozy.”

Dean tried to remain at least a little aloof, like the cuddling was no big deal, but then Castiel slid his arm around Dean’s shoulders. Dean was warm and safe, and when Castiel started rubbing his arm gently, he melted.

“There you go, sweetheart. Are you comfortable?’

“Mmm-hmm.” The wine had made him affectionate, and he nuzzled his face into Castiel’s chest.

“I love seeing you like this. You’re always beautiful, but even more so when you’re relaxed and content.” Castiel kissed the top of Dean’s head.

“S’nice,” Dean mumbled.

“This is not all that different than aftercare. Me finding out what makes you feel safe and cared for, and making sure you receive it.”

“Yeah?” Dean’s voice was barely a whisper.

“Yes. And I promise that you can depend on me to provide you with what you want and need. It will not be a temporary thing, or an occasional thing. This is a commitment I am happy to make, Dean. I will need guidance from you to make sure we’re on the same page, but I promise that I will listen and adjust my actions accordingly.”

“You promise?”

“Yes. Can you talk to me about the list? The things you liked, maybe?”

Dean was quiet for a moment. He moved his face ever so slightly closer to Castiel’s neck, and scented him as best he could. “Every item on the list is a one for me.” His voice trembled slightly.

“All right. Are there any that especially stand out? Something you’d really like to try?”

“Um, maybe being massaged? Like a back rub? No one’s ever rubbed my back before.”

Castiel brushed his fingers through Dean’s hair. “When’s the last time anyone touched you, Dean?”

“Hmm. Dad’s funeral. Sam hugged me.”

Castiel drew him a little closer. “And before that?”

Dean tensed up. “I can’t tell you about that.”

“Why is that? You can tell me anything.”

“A customer touched me.” Dean whispered. “I didn’t want him to.”

Castiel stiffened, and his scent became bitter, like the darkest chocolate. “What was his name, Dean?” His voice was calm, but deathly serious. “Tell me his name.”

Dean drew away. “Jesus, Castiel, calm down! I don’t remember his name, and it doesn’t matter anyway.”

“On the contrary; it matters a great deal. This alpha, this…” Castiel almost growled. “This vile piece of filth deserves whatever he has coming to him.”

“Maybe he does. But it’s MY decision. It’s not like he was the only one, anyway.” Dean propped his elbows on his knees, and put his head in his hands.

He felt a gentle touch between his shoulders. “I’m sorry, Dean.” Castiel took a big breath. “I’m sorry. I’m acting like a stereotypical alpha. It just makes me furious that someone would take such liberties with you.”

“I understand. It’s just...not helpful, right now. Okay?”

“Yes. Just give me a minute. I’m trying to calm down.” Castiel hesitated. “Is this something that happened often?”

“Not often, really. And it almost stopped after Benny came to work there. People were kind of afraid of him.”

“Dean, I’m so sorry that this happened to you.”

“Thanks, Castiel.” Dean leaned back onto his shoulder. “Some alphas don’t take this kind of thing seriously.”

“I am glad that you told me, however. This makes it even more important that we proceed at a pace that’s comfortable for you. I don’t want to make a mistake and rush things, Dean.” Castiel slid his arm around him again, and Dean relaxed a bit.

“I appreciate that. But it’s different with you. When I think about you touching me, it’s not scary.”

“Good. I won’t do anything you don’t want, I promise.” Castiel kissed Dean’s temple.

“There was something else on the list I really liked.” Dean’s heart was thumping, and he felt a little dizzy.

“What is it, sweetheart?”

“Umm, the bathing part.” Dean’s voice cracked. “I know it’s probably dumb. But. It sounded so nice, and…”

“It is very nice, and soothing. And not dumb at all. When you feel okay with trying it, we will. I think you’ll love it, Dean.” Castiel looked down at him, smiling. “I’m so glad you were able to ask me for that. It can be difficult to ask for things that you want.”

“So...does this mean we’re finished with the contract?”

“It does, actually. Tomorrow we can review it and sign it.”

“Wow. That’s exciting. And kind of scary.”

“The contract can be amended if needed, Dean. In fact, that’s a good thing. It means our arrangement, and our relationship, can keep growing and changing. I’d like to propose that we have a review of things once weekly for the first month, then once monthly. Or as needed, of course.”

“Okay. That makes sense, I guess.”

“And I’ll need to know a few things about your preferences. I’ll get you a list. What type of juice you like, your favorite comfort foods, favorite movies. Oh, and what scents you like. We’ll need bubble bath and massage oil, and I want you to have your favorite scents.”

“Orange-pineapple juice.”

Dean could feel Castiel smile into his hair. “That’s very specific.”

“When I was a kid, Sam and me would eat breakfast at school, and they had these little cartons of it. It was so good, better than regular orange juice. It’s hard to find, though.”

“I’ll find it. I want everything to be perfect for you, Dean.”

“It’ll be fine, Castiel. Like I said, your house is so much better than mine that anything’s a step up.”

“Not ‘my house’, Dean,” Castiel corrected. “Our home.”

“Our home.” Dean couldn’t help smiling from ear to ear. “Yeah. Okay.”

“Do you want to lay your head on my lap for a little while? You choose a movie to watch, and we’ll relax for a bit.”

“That sounds nice. But you do owe me a kiss later.” Dean scooted down on the couch and nestled his head on Castiel.

“I won’t forget.” Castiel started stroking his hair, and Dean closed his eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Dean.”

“Mmmm.”

“Dean, wake up. We both fell asleep. It’s really late; I should go.”

Dean’s eyelids fluttered. He was slumped against Castiel’s shoulder, and his face retained an imprint of Castiel’s sweater. “Umm.” He rubbed his eyes and sat upright. “What time is it?”

“A little after midnight. I need to go.”

“Don’t go. It’s so dark outside. Dangerous to drive. You can stay with me.”

Castiel hesitated.

“C’mon. It’s a big couch, we can both lay down. You can go home when it’s light.”

“I do hate driving after dark.” Castiel sank back into the couch cushions.

“Course you do. Hey, how come you drove yourself tonight?”

“Garth had a prior engagement.”

“Hot date, huh?”

“No. His six-year-old niece’s birthday party.”

“Oh. Hey, did you still want any leftovers?”

“Not really. I’m happy right here.”

Dean beamed. “Me too. It’s too cold to get up. Can we just lay down together for a while?”

“Absolutely. Do you want to be in front or in back?”

“In the back.”

Castiel stood up. “All right. Scoot in, then.”

Dean rolled over, so that he was facing the back of the couch, and Castiel lay down on the outside edge. Dean held his breath as Castiel spread the blanket over both of them, then nestled up to Dean’s back.

“Is this okay for you? Are you comfortable?”

Dean’s heart was thumping so loudly, he was sure that Castiel could hear it too. “It’s perfect.”

“Good. Now rest, sweetheart.” Castiel kissed the top of Dean’s head softly, and slid an arm around his waist.

Dean had never imagined feeling as safe as he did now, sandwiched between Castiel and back of his couch. He made a soft, contented sound, and Castiel reached up to smooth his hair. “”Are you warm enough?”

“Never been so warm in my whole life.” Dean’s eyelids were heavy. “Castiel? Is this improper?”

Castiel laughed softly. “There are so many things that would be less seemly than snuggling on a couch, Dean. I wouldn’t worry.”

“I wouldn’t mind being improper with you.”

“We will do a great many improper things together, Dean Winchester, after our wedding.” Castiel leaned down and kissed the back of his neck. “Now sleep.”

 

“I’m leaving now, Dean.”

“S’middle of the night.”

“No, it’s morning. I have to go by my house and change before I go to work.”

Dean nestled in closer. “You can’t leave me alone on the couch. You’re too warm.”

Castiel rolled off the sofa, extracting himself from the blanket. “I can take you to bed and tuck you in. How about that?”

“That’s an acceptable substitute.”

“All right. Roll over, so I can pick you up.” Castiel placed one arm under Dean’s knees and one arm around his shoulders. “Hang on.”

Dean made a sound of surprise as Castiel easily lifted him. “You’re really strong.”

“Well, yes. I’m an alpha. And I work out.”

“Impressive.” Dean laid his head on Castiel’s chest.

“Which room is yours?”

“Last door down the hall.”

Castiel nudged the door open with his foot, then stopped short. “This is your bed? It’s barely a cot, Dean.”

“Well, it’s the best I got, so you better put me on it.”

Castiel eased him down onto the bed, then knelt beside it. “I can’t leave you here, Dean. The mattress is so thin, and you barely fit on it. And it’s freezing in here. This is unacceptable.”

Dean propped himself up on one elbow. “It’s fine, Castiel. Really.”

“Is there anywhere you could stay until the wedding? Maybe at Charlie’s?”

“Look, Castiel. This has been my bed as long as I remember. I’ll be all right until the wedding. Okay?”

Castiel relented. “I don’t mean to be overbearing. It’s just that I hate to think of you being uncomfortable.”

“I’m used to it. I sleep on the couch a lot anyway. Always loved that couch.” Dean lay back onto his pillow.

Castiel occupied himself with making a nest around Dean. He went back to the living room for the extra blanket, and tucked that around Dean as well. “There we are. I have to go now, but I’ll call you at lunch. Text me anytime, of course.” Castiel leaned down and gave Dean four kisses before he could pull himself away.

Dean lay in the cocoon of blankets Castiel had made for him, lips tingling, and listened to the front door shut. He closed his eyes.


Dean’s phone was buzzing insistently.

DEAN WINIFRED WINCHESTER. Wake up, I got plans for today.

Dean cracked open one eye to read the text. Charlie, that’s not my middle name.

I know your middle name, Sleeping Beauty. Now hop out of bed and make yourself presentable. We have wedding planning to do, and Ms. Donne has agreed to meet with you at two to go over the marriage contract.

Followed quickly by:

I’ve also ordered lunch.

Dean chuckled. You know the way to my heart, Charles. See you in a bit.


Dean noticed lots of curious glances, and a low buzz of conversation as he walked past the offices. Word had gotten out, he supposed, that he was marrying the most eligible bachelor represented by the agency, and people were curious. Thankfully, Charlie was waiting for him at her office door, and whisked him inside.

“Dean, it’s gonna be the event of the year, and we have a week and a half to plan. I have so many ideas.” Charlie took a deep breath. “But I want your input as well. Tell me what you’ve always dreamed of in a wedding.”

“Charlie, I’m a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks. I never thought anyone would want to marry me, and if they did, I would’ve expected it to happen at the courthouse. This stuff is all new to me.” Dean picked up a glossy wedding magazine from her desk and stared at it. “I know you’ve talked to Castiel about it. What does he want?”

“Your dreamy alpha told me in no uncertain terms that all he wants out of the wedding is for you to be happy. He said we have full creative control.” Charlie waggled her eyebrows.

“Doesn’t he know that’s a recipe for disaster?”

“I think he does, and I think he will be greatly amused by whatever we come up with. So let’s start with your favorite thing: food. You couldn’t stop talking about the steak you had there, so let’s build a menu around that. We’ll have to offer a chicken entree, of course, in case anyone doesn’t eat red meat, and I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to have a vegetarian option as well. I’ll check with Emily on what they have available.”

Dean shrugged. “My only guests are my co-worker Benny and his wife, and I know they’re not vegetarians, but I’ve got no idea about Castiel’s family. We could ask.”

“What about your baby bro? Isn’t he coming?”

Dean hesitated. “He can’t. Middle of the semester, you know. He can’t miss exams.”

“Oh. That sucks. Well, you have me for family. The potatoes they serve with the steak were to die for, but the asparagus I could live without. We’ll find another vegetable. Now, for the cake…” Charlie gave him a devious smile. “So Emily and I had a brilliant idea for the cake, but we want you to be surprised. Do you trust us?”

“I’m equal parts scared and intrigued, but yes, I’ll leave that to you two.”

Charlie was making notes in a large notebook with dividers. As she continued down her lists, Dean’s head started to spin. He had no idea there were so many options available for a wedding, especially a last-minute one. He had to give his opinion on colors, music, and even the content of the wedding ceremony. “I’d better talk to Castiel about the ceremony stuff, Charlie. I don’t want to screw anything up.”

Castiel called while they had taken a break to eat sandwiches. “I won’t keep you long,” he said when he found out what Dean was doing. “I wondered if you might like to go shopping with me tonight. We could get a quick meal first, of course.”

“What would we be shopping for?” Dean hoped he wasn’t going to be taken to a store selling bondage equipment. He didn’t feel ready for that today.

“We have to get you a cell phone. I know Charlie got you the burner phone, and you’re welcome to keep it, but of course I’ll be adding you to my account. You can choose whichever phone you like best.” Castiel paused, and his voice became just a touch deeper. “Then, we’re going to a store that sells bath and spa supplies. We’re getting bubble baths, massage oils, lotions, and anything else you like. You can smell the products and pick your favorite scents.”

“Oh.” Dean felt himself turning pink, and Charlie looked at him with interest. “That...that sounds interesting.”

“I very much look forward to spoiling you, Dean. I’m reading up on massage techniques, in fact. I think you’ll enjoy it.”

Dean was sure that his face was now bright red. Charlie was grinning. “Yeah. Um. That sounds like a good plan. Um, what time?”

“Will you be home by six? I thought I could send Garth to pick you up.”

“Great. Yeah, sounds great.”

“Wonderful. I look forward to seeing you, Dean.”

“Yep, me too. I mean, I’m looking forward to seeing you too.”

“Goodbye, my dear.”

Charlie gave Dean a significant look as he hung up. “Big plans?”

“Oh, not really.” Dean looked down at his sandwich.

“Yeah, sure. That’s why your face is the color of a fire engine.” Charlie raised an eyebrow. “So...how are things going, really? Not just with the wedding stuff, but with all the...relationship stuff and BDSM stuff and the Castiel stuff in general.”

“Not bad, actually. He’s really big on communication, you know? Talking things out and making sure we’re on the same page about everything. I actually feel pretty comfortable with him.”

“Well, I’ve talked to him and e-mailed him quite a bit in the past few days, and he seems really concerned with making sure that you’re happy. He seems like a good guy. As far as guys go, I mean.”

“Yeah. He does.” Dean stuffed the last bite of sandwich into his mouth.

Charlie rolled her eyes. “See what I mean about guys? All right, let’s get back to business. I’ve got some ideas for songs you could walk down the aisle to.”

Dean was exhausted by the time he had to leave for his meeting with Ms. Donne. It was probably for the best, he thought. The more tired he was, the less nervous he would be.

Charlie thumped him on the back as he left. “Go get ‘em, tiger. Text me after you get out; we have to get you fitted for a tux tomorrow.”

Dean followed Charlie’s directions to an office on the second floor. A handsome male omega receptionist looked up expectantly. “Mr. Winchester? You can go right through, Ms. Donne is ready for you.”

Abigail Donne’s office was spacious, with large windows looking out onto the garden. Ms. Donne herself was the most stunningly beautiful woman Dean had ever seen, and he figured that her outfit probably cost more than everything he’d ever owned put together. Her red hair was drawn back into an elegant updo, and she reached out a manicured hand for him to shake.

“Mr. Dean Winchester, I presume? I’m Abigail Donne. Please have a seat.”

Dean drew back his hand, and a wave of scent rushed over him, leaving him in shock. Abigail Donne was an alpha. He was well aware of the existence of female alphas, but they were quite rare; he’d never met one before. He cleared his throat. “Please, call me Dean.”

She put a finger up to her red lips and regarded him. “No, I don’t suppose there’s any call for formality here, is there? I suppose that Castiel, given his unfortunate predilection for truth-telling, has told you all about me. Call me Abi, please.”

“I know very little,” Dean replied diplomatically. “Only that you used to be involved, years ago.”

“Involved. Yes.” Abi pursed her lips into a sort of smile. “Well, let’s get down to brass tacks, Dean. I have, of course, read the marriage contract Castiel has prepared. He has been most generous with you. You’d be a fool not to accept it.”

Dean moistened his dry lips. “Generous how?”

“In every possible way. He must be quite taken with you.” She gestured toward a file folder on the desk. “Shall we go over everything?”

“Um, sure. Go ahead.”

“We’ll start with financials. You are of course already aware of the one million dollar dowry payment. This will be placed in a trust for your alpha next of kin, your brother Samuel Winchester. This is a standard arrangement. The money may be used for his benefit at your discretion, and he will gain control over the remaining sum at the age of twenty-two.

The contract differs from most in that Castiel has stated here that the dowry money will remain with your family even if you leave the marriage arrangement. Usually, if the couple parts ways before a specified amount of time, a percentage of the money must be returned to the alpha.”

“Oh.” Dean didn’t know what else to say. He had never entertained the possibility of leaving Castiel of his own volition.

“As I said, very generous. Many an omega has remained in an unhappy marriage due to a clause like the one I described. Castiel has given you a clear route of escape, should you ever wish it.” Abi raised an eyebrow at him. “Moving on. The contract states that you will have your own cell phone and car provided, and any related fees or costs of upkeep will be covered by your husband. You will have access to a credit card to purchase household necessities, such as groceries, and gas for your car. The card has a three thousand dollar limit, though, so don’t plan on fleeing the state and going on a spending spree. You wouldn’t get very far. He will review the charges and pay the bill monthly.”

“That sounds fair,” Dean managed. It sounded more than fair. He’d never had his own credit card before.

“He will also give you a weekly allowance of five hundred dollars, to be spent on whatever you wish. It will be transferred to a checking account weekly, and you will have access to a debit card connected to the account.”

“Whoa, whoa. Stop right there for a minute. There’s no way he can give me five hundred dollars a week. Can you change it to five hundred dollars a month, or something?” Dean pulled at his collar. The room seemed very warm all of a sudden.

“I don’t think you understand how negotiating works, dear. Don’t be foolish. Of course he can give you five hundred dollars a week. In fact, if you don’t make any ostentatious purchases right away, which will show him that you have good spending habits, he will probably increase both your allowance and the credit card limit in a few months.”

“I just. I can’t. No way.” There were tiny beads of sweat on Dean’s forehead, and Abi gave him an appraising look. There was more irritation than concern in her expression. She pushed a button on her phone.

“Maxwell, can you bring in some water, please? Do you prefer still or sparkling, Dean?”

“Um, just regular. Regular water, no spanking. I mean sparkling.”

Abi bit her lip to hold in her laughter. “Perrier, please, Maxwell.” The receptionist entered with a bottle of water and a glass on a tray, and poured a drink for Dean, who gulped it down quickly.

“All right, we’ll move on. You’ll be placed on his health insurance plan, and any medical expenses not covered by insurance will be paid by him. You’ll be allowed to choose whether you keep your own surname, adopt his, or opt for a hyphenated combination.”

“Really? He’ll let me pick?” Dean hadn’t expected that, either. “What do you think I should do?”

Abi sighed impatiently. “I’m not your buddy, Dean, but my best advice is to go with the hyphenate. It shows that you’re independent, but not to an unseemly degree. It will annoy his family, but they’ll tolerate it better than if you kept your own name.”

“Okay. I’ll take that under advisement.”

“As you wish. Lastly, on the matter of mating bites and sexual consummation of the marriage, he has stated that these acts shall occur when and if both parties agree. Also very unusual.”

Dean felt a wave of anxiety. “Why do you think he did that? Is he giving himself a way out, in case he doesn’t like me?”

“Oh, Dean. You are quite the naïf. Much like Castiel when we met. No, again that is for your benefit. If the marriage doesn’t last, he will have no problem finding another mate and spouse. He’s a wealthy, powerful alpha. People would talk, but not too loudly. They wouldn’t risk offending him. Now you, on the other hand.” Abi regarded him in the same manner that she might look at a misbehaving puppy. “If you left the marriage with a mating bite, you’d be finished. No decent alpha would look twice at you. The best you could hope for is either living under the protection of family, or to become a prostitute of sorts.

Now, if you had merely been divorced, but without the bite, you might have a chance. It would be a bit unorthodox, but times are changing. An open-minded alpha might take you in; you’re quite pretty, after all.”

Dean bristled a bit at the “pretty” comment. “Well. You’ve been very helpful. Is there anything else I need to know?”

“That’s all that’s pertinent to you, really. I can provide you with a copy, if you want, but it’s quite unnecessary. As I said before, you’d be a fool not to sign it.”

Dean drained the rest of the glass of water. “Nah, that’s okay. Thank you for your help.”

“No trouble at all, Dean. I must say, I didn’t detest you as much as I thought I would. If I’d met you before Castiel did, I could have had quite a good time with you.”

Dean stood up abruptly. “I think I’d better go. Goodbye, Ms. Donne.” He purposely didn’t use her first name as she had offered. She certainly didn’t feel like a friend.

He didn’t stop at Charlie’s office on the way out. He just wanted to be outside the agency, in the fresh air, away from prying eyes. Dean slid behind the wheel of the Cadillac, then sent Charlie a quick text, telling her things went well and to let him know when he should meet her for the tux fitting tomorrow.

He found himself shivering a bit, even though it was nice outside, and he suddenly felt very eager to see Castiel. His fiancé might be an alpha and a dom, like Abigail, but he was otherwise as different from her as could be. Dean decided to text him as well.

Hi. Just wanted to say I miss you and I’m looking forward to seeing you.

A reply came quickly:

I miss you too, sweetheart. I’m going to see if I can finish up a little early tonight. Expect Garth around 5:30, if that’s okay. I can’t wait to see you.

The reply calmed him, and after a couple of minutes, Dean was collected enough to start the car and head for home.

 

 

Chapter Text

When Dean arrived at his house, he poured a glass of orange juice and curled up on the couch. He reasoned that if juice helped one feel better during aftercare, it might help after a stressful situation as well. He sipped from the glass slowly, and it did seem to clear his head a bit. Dean realized that it wouldn’t be too long before Garth came, and he should shower and get ready. He picked up his phone.

Hey, sorry to bother you, just wondering what I should wear tonight. I didn’t want to be underdressed.

A reply came about five minutes later. Not at all, I just finished a meeting with a client. Wear whatever you’re comfortable in, we won’t be going anywhere stuffy.

Ok thanks

See you soon, Castiel replied.

By the time Garth arrived, Dean had decided on his favorite pair of jeans, a blue t-shirt which fit him very nicely, and his leather jacket. It was a little too warm at the moment for the jacket, but it would get cool after sunset, and Dean liked how he looked in it. He grabbed his wallet and phone and locked the front door behind him.

“Good evening, Mr. Winchester,” Garth called out cheerfully, holding the door to the back seat open for him.

“Hey, Garth. Just call me Dean, okay? Do you mind if I sit up front?”

“No problem. Hop in.”

As they left Dean’s neighborhood, Garth explained that they were going by Castiel’s office to pick him up first.

“Well, thanks for coming to get me.”

“It’s my job, Dean.”

“Yeah, I’m not used to people with chauffeurs. How’d you get this job, anyway? Is there, like, a website for people to hire drivers?”

“There might be, for all I know.” Garth paused while he merged into traffic. “But I got this particular job because I had all the qualifications.”

“Which are?”

“Clean driving record and background check, passing a psychological evaluation, and being trained in evasive driving and hand-to-hand combat.”

Dean laughed loudly, but Garth didn’t smile. “Wait. You’re serious?”

“Well, yeah. Mr. Novak’s a pretty wealthy guy, and a lot of people know that. He’s also really stubborn, and he’d never hire a bodyguard or anything. So his sister thought having a driver who was experienced in some of those things might be a good idea. I was looking for work, and it seemed like a good fit. I’ve been really happy with the job. Mr. Novak’s a nice guy, and it gives me a lot of time to think.”

“Where’d you learn all that stuff? The driving and hand-to-hand combat?” Dean stopped short. “I’m sorry, I guess I’m being really nosy.”

“Nah, I don’t mind. I trained to be an FBI agent, actually. I thought it would be a good thing, you know, to serve my country. I actually did really well in the training. I was the best marksman in my class. But it wasn’t for me, and I missed my family. So I came back home.”

“You’re shitting me, right? An FBI agent?”

“Nope. I know, I don’t look the type. But that actually worked in my favor. People always underestimated me.”

Dean stared at him. “I can’t believe this. You’re like, a complete badass.”

Garth chuckled. “Not really. I never worked as an agent. Right after I graduated, my mom told me she was sick. She didn’t tell me before, so I wouldn’t be distracted. I did some soul-searching, and I decided I’d rather be with my family then work on my career. I haven’t regretted it.”

“Is your mom okay?”

“She’s great. Been in remission for almost a year.” Garth beamed.

“Well, that’s awesome.” Dean was quiet for a minute. “Don’t you ever get bored doing this? With all the waiting?”

“Nope. I use the time to work on my novel. My real goal is to be a published writer.”

“Well, I’ll be damned, man. I love reading, actually. I look forward to your book.”

Garth brightened. “You wouldn’t mind reading it? My mom and my sister promised to help me with proofreading, but they’re not very objective. They just tell me that everything I write is great.”

“I don’t know how much help I’ll be, but I’ll give you my honest opinion.”

“Thanks, Dean! It’ll be a while, anyway. I’m a little over half done, I think.” Garth glanced over at him. “We’re almost at Mr. Novak’s office. I guess you’ll want to ride in the backseat with him.” He turned on the signal light and pulled into a parking lot.

“Oh, yeah.” Dean peered out the window. A lighted sign with imposing lettering read “Novak, Novak, and Milton”. The building itself was dark red brick, and the landscaping was impeccably neat. “Wow. Pretty fancy.”

“Right?” Garth pulled up to the curb, and Dean jumped out and got into the back seat, where he waited, toes tapping nervously. Five minutes later, Castiel emerged, carrying a briefcase and a garment bag. Dean assumed it contained his suit, because Castiel was wearing dark jeans with a blue button down and a blazer.

Garth hopped out to hold open the door for him. “Good evening, Mr. Novak.”

“Hello, Garth. Thank you.” He slid into the back seat gracefully, a smile spreading across his face when he saw Dean. “Hello, Dean. It’s good to see you.” Castiel leaned in to give Dean a quick kiss, then buckled his seat belt.

Dean wanted badly to sit as close to him as possible; he was still a bit rattled from the events of the day. He resisted this urge, and merely slid his hand into the seat between them, giving Castiel a longing look.

The alpha immediately covered Dean’s hand with his, wrapping his fingers around Dean’s palm. “Rough day?”

Dean exhaled. “A little bit. Better now.”

“We’re going to a very small, quiet restaurant. Corner booth. You’ll be able to relax.” Castiel stroked the back of Dean’s hand with his thumb.

“Sounds good.” Dean leaned back into the seat and half closed his eyes so that he could concentrate on Castiel’s touch. He wished he could crawl across the seat and into Castiel’s lap, and let Castiel hold him and soothe him.

Castiel inhaled sharply, and Dean realized that his scent must be radiating distress. “You have had a hard day,” Castiel said, very gently, and he unbuckled his seat belt and slid into the center seat, buckling himself in again. He slid an arm around Dean’s shoulders. “Lean on me for a minute, all right? Close your eyes if you like.” Dean laid his head on Castiel, as a child might.

He wrapped one arm around Dean, and used the other hand to pet his hair. Dean trembled a bit; he could not remember the last time he had received such tenderness. “Did you have a hard day?” he asked, his voice small.

“It wasn’t too bad, sweetheart. I knew I’d see you at the end of it.”

“Oh.” Dean was quiet for the rest of the drive. When they arrived at the restaurant, Castiel gave him his hand and helped him out of the car, and wrapped his arm around Dean’s waist.

“You look lovely, Dean,” Castiel whispered as they entered the restaurant. “I’m so happy you’re here with me.”

The hostess’s face lit up in recognition, and she immediately guided them to a secluded booth in the back corner. “Good to see you again, Mr. Novak.” She handed them both a menu and gave Dean a wink. “We’ll be right with you.”

Dean glanced over the specials, then back at Castiel. “I know we said no drinking the last time we went out to dinner, but seeing as Garth’s driving…”

“Oh, absolutely. You know, nothing makes the cell phone store more bearable than a drink or two.”

“Now you’re talking.”

Castiel flagged down a waitress and ordered a glass of wine. Dean asked for a beer.

“Was Charlie pretty intense today?”

“Yeah. I mean, who know there was so much stuff to decide for a last-minute wedding? I kinda just want to turn her and Emily loose with the planning.”

“That wouldn’t be a bad idea,” Castiel mused. “Emily would keep Charlie from going completely wild, and Charlie would keep Emily from being too stuffy. You should do that.”

“Exactly! God, this is such a relief. Thank you.”

“Dean, Charlie is having a ball with this. If you’re not, then just let her know if there’s anything that’s really important to you, and let her run with the rest.” The waitress delivered their drinks, and Castiel raised his glass. Dean followed suit, and they clinked their glasses together.

“Have you gentlemen seen anything you like on the menu?”

Castiel looked at Dean, who shrugged. “They have a lot of good appetizer plates here, Dean. We could get a few of those and share.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Dean took a swig of his beer, and Castiel handed the waitress their menus.

“Bring us your three favorite appetizers, please.”

The waitress perked up a little. “Will do.” She nodded and rushed off toward the kitchen.

“Speaking of intense,” Dean continued, “I had to talk to your ex today. So I think I really deserve a drink.”

Castiel’s vibrant, contented expression suddenly turned cold. “You saw Abigail today?” His voice was careful and even, but his eyes were troubled.

“Yeah, to go over the marriage contract. She’s a piece of work, but I guess you know that.”

Castiel squinted at him. “Was she unpleasant with you?”

Dean took another swig of beer. “More like inappropriate, I’d say. Whoa, whoa, whoa! Don’t start giving me that angry alpha look again, Castiel. It’s all over with, and I held my own.”

Castiel was simmering. “I thought she wouldn’t dare to be anything other than professional with you. I can’t believe this.”

“Well, we never have to see her again, so I say we forget all about her.” Dean placed his hand, palm up, on the table, and Castiel laced his fingers through Dean’s.

“Very wise. Why should we let her ruin our good time?”

They didn’t. They each had another drink, and Dean decided that he had to learn to make the fried risotto balls with cheese in the middle. “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten, hands down. I could eat these every day.”

“I’m glad you like it here. I used to bring dates here, but no one ever worked out. So I’ve been coming by myself for awhile.”

“Aww, really?” Dean was pleasantly tipsy. “I would’ve come with you.”

Castiel laughed. “I appreciate the thought.” He waved down the waitress for the check. “Are you ready to go shopping?”

“Yup. Lead the way.”

They settled back into the car; this time Dean took the middle seat, so that he could lean on Castiel. The alpha put his arm around Dean’s waist, and rested his hand on Dean’s hip.

Dean found himself feeling very affectionate. He nuzzled his face on Castiel’s neck, pressing a kiss right above the collarbone. Castiel’s scent grew sweeter and more enticing, and Dean couldn’t stop himself from scenting him. Castiel drew in a sharp breath, and Dean stopped suddenly. Maybe he wasn’t supposed to scent Castiel before they were mated, or something. “I’m sorry, I didn’t ask. Was that okay?”

“Of course it’s all right, little omega. But may I have permission to scent you, as well?”

“Do it,” Dean breathed, and Castiel drew Dean close, burying his face into Dean’s neck.

“God,” Castiel said between breaths, “You smell incredible, Dean. I’ve never smelled anything so sweet in my whole life.” He pulled away regretfully, and Dean whined a bit. “Shh, little one. This is neither the time nor the place.”

Dean comforted himself by wrapping an arm around Castiel and resting on his shoulder. “You smell really good, too.”

“I’m glad you think so. I think we’re going to be very good together, Dean.” Castiel rubbed a hand over Dean’s knee. “You didn’t say anything about the marriage contract. Was it acceptable?”

Dean snorted. “Of course it was. You don’t really have to be that generous, you know.”

“Yes, I do. What good is my money if I can’t use it to spoil my husband?”

“Yeah, but I wasn’t expecting anywhere near that much. Ms. Donne told me you were being very generous, compared to most alphas.”

Castiel waved a hand. “I didn’t want you to have to come to me for money every time you needed or wanted something small.”

Bright lights shone through the car windows, and Dean realized they had arrived at the mall. Garth again popped out to open the door, and they merged into a crowd of shoppers near the entrance.

“The cell phone store is just around the corner, Dean.” Castiel offered his hand, and Dean took it gratefully. He wasn’t used to so many people. When they entered the store, an employee approached immediately, smiling. People just seemed to be drawn to Castiel, Dean thought. “I need to add my fiancé to my plan, and he needs a new phone,” Castiel explained. “Dean? Do you want to keep same phone number?”

“Um, yeah. That way I won’t have to tell everyone a new number.” ‘Everyone’ was only Sam, Benny, and Charlie, but still. Dean was drawn to a display of tablets, and he wandered over to touch one of them. The tablet screens were filled with brighter, sharper colors than the computers at the library. Dean heard someone behind him clear his throat, and he startled to find another employee standing very near to him. “I’m sorry, I’m probably not supposed to touch this stuff.”

“No, you can. That’s what it’s there for, so you can look at anything you want. I’m Matt, and your fiancé says I’m to help you pick out a phone and a tablet and whatever else you need while he takes care of updating his plan.”

A tablet? Dean turned and searched the room for Castiel, who was at the counter. Dean made his way past the other shoppers and tapped him on the arm. “I don’t need a tablet,” Dean began indignantly, but Castiel shushed him.

“Of course you do, and Matt is going to help you find one. Pick whatever you like.”

Dean returned to Matt, who was grinning at him. “Ready? What kind of phone are you wanting?”

Dean had no idea. He’d only seen smartphones on TV, and he hadn’t paid attention. “An iPhone?” he suggested, his voice cracking with shame. It was the only brand he could remember. Maybe it wasn’t a good one, and Matt would laugh at him.

“Sure. They just put out a new model, and it’s been really popular.” Matt gestured toward a display. There were several models, all marked with numbers and letters that meant nothing to Dean.

He sighed. “I gotta be straight with you. I’ve never had a smartphone, and I don’t have any idea what to look for.”

“Wow. Well, in that case, I imagine you aren’t looking for anything specific. Just get the newest model, and if you end up not liking it, you can switch to another brand when you upgrade.”

Matt was a very efficient shopper, and before Dean knew it, they had joined Castiel at the counter with an iPhone, a pair of headphones, a small Bluetooth speaker, and an iPad with a carrying case. Castiel surveyed the haul casually, and pulled out a credit card.

Dean found himself sitting at a table, with Matt teaching him how to set up his phone and email. “I’m sorry, I’m pretty bad at this kind of thing.”

“Nah. You should’ve seen me trying to teach my grandma how to text. She never has gotten it right.”

Dean laughed. “There’s actually a class at the library teaching old people how to use smartphones and stuff. I may have to go to that.”

Matt chuckled. “It’s not a bad idea. But if you can’t figure something out, you can always come by here. If I’m not working, someone else can always help you.”

“Really? You’d help me with that?”

“Dude, do you know how long it’s been since I sold this much stuff? I’ll help you anytime.” Matt produced a business card, which Dean tucked in his wallet for safekeeping.

Dean sat on a bench and played with his new phone while Castiel finished with everything. He decided to send a text to Sam.

Hey, man. Guess who finally got a smartphone? Now I can bother you anytime.

The reply was almost instant. Look at you, deciding to join us in the 21st century. What kind did you get?

Um, an iPhone X? I think. Have you asked Jess on a date, or did you chicken out?

Ha ha, Dean. For your information, we’re going to a movie this weekend. How are things going with your alpha?

Pretty good. We’re on a date right now, actually.

Well what are you doing texting me then? Hey, what’s this guy’s name?

Gotta go, Sam. Here he comes.

Don’t be a stranger, jerk.

Dean breathed a sigh of relief, and unwrapped his new phone case. That had been close. Castiel wasn’t the most common name, and he wouldn’t put it past Sam being able to track him down.

“Ready?” Castiel was standing in front of him, smiling. “We can put your things in the car so we won’t have to carry them around.” He had evidently texted Garth already, because the car was waiting near the mall entrance.

“You know, when you asked me if I’d come shopping with you, I kinda thought we might be shopping for, you know, bondage stuff.”

Castiel tilted his head. “Are you disappointed?”

“Oh! Um, no. I mean…”

“I’m only teasing, Dean.”

“I was a little relieved, actually. It would’ve been a bit too much too soon, you know?”

“Yes, of course. We will need to shop for those things, but we’ll start slow. And sometimes, online shopping is better when you’re starting out. You can look at things in the privacy of your own home. It’s less stressful.”

“Yeah, that sounds better.”

They walked in silence for a moment, and Dean felt the background noise of the mall pressing in on him. Laughter, children shrieking, the music pouring out of stores as they walked past. Castiel took his arm.

“You know, when Abi and I were first seeing each other, she took me to a store like that without any warning. I was quite young and unused to the lifestyle at that point, and it was very disconcerting.”

“I’m sorry.” Dean didn’t know what else to say, but his heart ached for that younger, more innocent Castiel.

“I mentioned it because I wanted to tell you I would never do that without talking it over with you first.”

“Thank you.” Dean squeezed Castiel’s arm.

“All right. Enough about exes and cell phone plans and such. Let’s just have fun and enjoy each other’s company.”

The store Castiel led him into was more upscale than Dean had expected. The floors and fixtures were made from light-colored wood, and a row of scented candles burned behind the counter. The only sound was soothing instrumental music. Dean felt like he could probably curl up under a table and go to sleep at once. They were approached by a soft-voiced beta employee, who gave Castiel a wire shopping basket and invited them to look around.

“Are you shopping for your girlfriends?” she asked.

“Oh, no. Dean is my fiancé. We’re shopping for him today.”

Dean blushed, but the clerk was delighted. “Congratulations! Not to generalize, but most of our male customers prefer less floral scents. You might want to check out this section.” She smiled at them and retreated behind the counter, where she was unpacking a case of tiny bottles.

Dean shrugged. “She’s right. Never liked anything flowery. It makes me sneeze.”

“I feel the same.” Castiel picked up a bottle of lavender scented oil. His nose wrinkled. “Too strong for me.”

“Agreed.” Dean picked a fancy frosted glass bottle. “Almond. I really like this one.”

Castiel sniffed. “Very nice. Clean yet soothing.” He placed it in the basket. “I see they have shower gel and bubble bath in the same scent.” He got two of each, and an additional bottle of massage oil.

“Man, slow down. You didn’t even look at the price stickers.”

Castiel grinned at him. “I don’t have to, and I don’t want you to either. How about this one?”

“Coconut and tiare flower? I don’t know.” Dean inhaled and made a noise of surprise. “You know what? I actually really like it. Not for every day, but it’s really nice.” It went into the basket as well, along with cucumber and sandalwood scents that they both agreed were pleasant.

Castiel spotted something at another table, and brought it back to show to Dean. It was a square glass bottle reading ‘Soleil Blanc Rose Gold Oil’. Dean wrinkled his nose. “It’s glittery!”

“Not glittery, shimmering. It clearly says so on the bottle.” Castiel uncapped it. “Bergamot and cardamom. Very exotic.”

“It actually smells great. But glitter...I mean shimmer…”

Castiel leaned forward, until he was very close to Dean, and whispered in his ear. “Are you sure? It would look absolutely stunning on you. I’d love to see you like that.”

Dean almost trembled. Castiel was so close, and yet not close enough. “Well, I suppose we could try it.”

“Very good,” Castiel murmured, and Dean felt dizzy with the warmth of Castiel’s approval. “I think we have enough for one trip, don’t you?”

“Yeah. I dread seeing how much all this is going to cost.”

“You’re not going to see. It’s a gift, and it’s rude to let the recipient know the cost of a gift. Wait here.”

Dean amused himself by looking at his new phone until Castiel returned, laden with two large shopping bags. “Let me carry one of those. I won’t take no for an answer.”

Castiel pretended to frown, but handed over one of the bags.

“God, this thing is heavy. Did you buy rocks while you were at it?”

“You’re the one who insisted on carrying it,” Castiel teased. “Don’t worry. I texted Garth again. The car’s not far away.”

Garth was again waiting near the entrance, and took Dean’s shopping bag from him to load in the car. “My goodness! You two had a really good shopping trip tonight.”

“Yes, we’ve stocked up on some of the things we needed. Thank you for your patience, Garth.”

“Not at all, Mr. Novak.” Garth returned to the driver’s seat, and began carefully guiding the car through the parking lot.

Dean scooted next to Castiel. “Thank you,” he whispered. “This is a lot more than I expected. More than I deserve.”

“On the contrary. You deserve all that, and more.” Castiel pulled him a little closer. “The tablet and accessories you’ll take with you tonight, of course, but I want the other things to stay at my house. They’ll be waiting for you when you move in.” He moved closer to the nape of Dean’s neck, almost but not quite scenting him. “I can’t wait to spoil you in the manner that you deserve, Dean. Bubble baths, massages, anything that makes you feel good.”

“It sounds nice.” Dean relaxed into his touch. A combination of the alcohol and exhaustion pulled him under, and he slept in Castiel’s arms until they reached Dean’s house.

Castiel insisted on walking him in and settling him comfortably on the sofa, his new phone and tablet within reach. He kissed Dean’s forehead and smoothed his hair. “Rest now, little omega. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

“Thank you for everything.” Dean mumbled. His eyelids were very heavy. “You’re really nice.”

Castiel huffed in amusement, smoothed Dean’s blanket, and slipped out the front door, locking it behind him. Dean let his eyes shut and dreamed of sunshine and palm trees.

 

 

Chapter Text

Dean was jolted awake early the next morning by the sound of his next-door neighbor trying repeatedly to start his car. He groaned and covered his head with a blanket. He’d been in the middle of a really nice dream featuring Castiel. He had just resigned himself to going outside to offer his help with the car when he heard the engine turn over and run raggedly.

Dean attempted to go back to sleep, hopefully returning to the dream, but the disruption had rendered him wide awake. He rolled off the couch, deciding that a shower would be the best way to relieve some tension. The hot water was actually working this morning, and it felt amazing running down his body. Dean began to touch himself, slow and languid at first, then working his way up to a desperate edge.

It was an act that he had previously had difficulty with, as an omega trapped in a small house with two alphas. What if they knew what he was doing? He realized, of course, that it was something nearly everyone did, but it was still embarrassing to think of. Dean had been further frustrated by the knowledge that he would probably never have an alpha of his own, at least if his father had anything to say about it. Thinking about any kind of intimacy had made Dean feel even more lonely and hopeless.

Now, Dean let himself go, imagining Castiel pushing aside the shower curtain and filling the small space with muscles and alpha scent. Castiel would take hold of him from behind, pushing him to the wall and holding him there while gently biting the back of his neck to mark him. Then, Castiel would spin him around and lift him up, letting Dean wrap his legs around him.

Dean wasn’t sure how shower sex actually worked--it was probably complicated--but he gave his fantasy free reign, imagining Castiel fucking him against the wall until he whispered into Dean’s ear, “Come for me, pet.”

Dean pressed his fist onto his mouth as he came, muffling his shout. He still wasn’t used to having the house to himself, to not having to worry about anyone hearing. He leaned against the wall for a moment, panting, before he was able to finish his shower.

He had promised to tell Castiel about any orgasms he had, Dean suddenly remembered. He didn’t know if it counted before they were married, though. As he dried his hair and dressed, he decided that it was better to be safe about it. Dean checked the time--Castiel would probably be on his way to work. He dialed the number.

“Dean! What a lovely surprise. I wanted to call you myself, but I was afraid I might wake you.”

Dean opened his mouth, but he wasn’t sure how to continue the conversation. Castiel waited for a moment. “Dean? Is everything all right?”

“I came in the shower a few minutes ago,” Dean blurted out. “And I didn’t know if I still had to tell you even though we weren’t married yet, but I wanted to talk to you anyway, and…”

“I’m glad you called me, Dean.” Castiel’s voice went even deeper than usual. “I’m very pleased, in fact. What were you thinking about when this happened?”

“You. Um, I imagined that you were in the shower with me.”

“You did? That sounds very nice. What did we do?”

Oh, God. He had not thought this through. “Oh. You, um, put me against the wall of the shower. You pinned my hands and bit the back of my neck.”

“Goodness. I must have been feeling rather enthusiastic. Was that all?”

“No.” Dean was starting to sweat. “You turned me around and held me up as you…I mean, we…”

Castiel took pity on him. “I see. And did we have a good time?”

Dean’s voice was almost a squeak. “Yeah. We did.”

“Thank you, Dean. You’ve done very well.”

“But, I’m kind of confused about the whole thing.”

“What are you confused about? You can talk to me.”

Dean was quiet for a moment, and Castiel waited patiently. “Well, when I was thinking about it, I was really into it. But if you’d actually walked into my house in right then and done that, I’d have been scared.”

“Oh, Dean. Of course you would have. Fantasies don’t necessarily mean that you’re ready for something to happen in real life. They can be a way of taking an idea or experience out for a test drive, you might say.”

“Oh, okay. But that doesn’t mean I never want to do that.’

“I understand. Listen, Dean, I’m almost at work, but the construction crew is supposed to be done by Saturday. Would you like to come over and look at the house on Sunday? We could have lunch there.”

Dean’s stomach churned with nervousness. He was finally going to see inside the place where he would live from now on. “That would be great. Should I bring anything?”

“No, that’s not necessary. I’ll just show you around the house, so you’ll be familiar with everything, then we’ll eat and relax. Sound good?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“I’ll talk to you sometime later, then. Have a good day, sweetheart.”

“Yeah, you too.”

Dean decided to try the toaster strudels for breakfast. He didn’t have a working toaster, so he waited for them to bake in the oven with happy anticipation. He squeezed the frosting packets over the hot pastries and took a bite. Maybe he was just really hungry, but they were every bit as good as he’d imagined. He hummed contentedly as he ate, and licked the frosting from his fingers.

He suddenly remembered that Charlie didn’t know he had a new phone, and would still be texting his temporary one. Dean plugged up the burner phone to charge it, wondering what he’d do with it now. He decided to keep it, just in case. He could put it away in a drawer somewhere.

The phone lit up with several missed texts, which stated (with increasing degrees of urgency) that Dean was to be at a local formalwear shop near the agency at one PM to be fitted for his wedding suit. He started typing a reply right away, before Charlie self-destructed.

Hey, Charlie. Forgot to tell you that Castiel got me a new phone, so you can go back to the original number you had for me. Yes, I’ll be there at one.

Fantastic, I was getting a little worried. Come at 12:15. There’s a sandwich shop next door. My treat.

Charlie was nearly vibrating with excitement when he arrived at the sandwich place. Her wedding-planning notebook was already open on the table. “Dean! Remember the surprise wedding cake I mentioned? Emily and I have it all worked out. I can’t wait for you to see it.”

“I can’t, either. Listen, Charlie, about all the wedding planning stuff. You’re really enjoying it, and you have Emily to help. Would you mind if I kind of left it to you two? I know you’ll do a great job, and…”

“Dean! You’d really trust me enough to let me plan your entire wedding?” Charlie’s face lit up with joy. “I promise I won’t let you down! It will be beautiful and classy, yet fun and cool. I’m sooo excited!”

Dean breathed a sigh of relief. That had been easier than he’d expected. “Of course I trust you. I know it’ll be really memorable. And we’ve already decided a lot of the most important stuff, anyway.”

“Right, right, we have. The only thing I really need input on is the ceremony itself. Do you two have anyone you want to officiate, or should I start looking? And do you want the standard vows, or to write your own?”

“I guess I’ll have to talk to Castiel about that. I really don’t know any ministers or anything.” John had never darkened a church door after Mary’s death, and he hadn’t approved of his sons doing so, either. “I do feel kind of bad, though, that you’re putting in all this extra work.”

“Oh, don’t worry about me, Dean. Castiel instructed me to keep track of the hours I spend working on the wedding, and all my expenses, and he’d see that I was fairly compensated.”

The sandwich shop was so busy that they had to wait for a while, and ended up having barely enough time to eat and dash over to the formalwear shop. Dean tried to
make the case for wearing a regular suit for the wedding, but Charlie would have none of it.

“It’s an evening wedding at the country club, Dean! You have to wear formal attire, it’s non-negotiable.”

Dean made a face.

“Think of it this way. You’re going to look really good in that tux. Just imagine Castiel’s face when he sees you.”

Dean wavered.

“I thought so. Now get over here and let the nice lady take your measurements.”

The whole process was less odious than Dean had expected, and it wasn’t too long before he and Charlie were ready to go their separate ways.

“Now, keep your phone on you at all times, okay? Remember to talk to Castiel about the ceremony. Preferably tonight. Text me when you all decide. I’ll be in touch about everything else. Gotta bounce!” Charlie gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and dashed off to her car.

Dean spent the afternoon sorting through his possessions, deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. Both piles were pitifully small. Nearly all his socks had at least one hole, and only two pairs of jeans that didn’t have grease stains. He could probably throw all of his clothing away and ask Cas for new things, but his pride wouldn’t let him. No, he had to arrive with at least a few items.

Sam’s belongings had already been stored at Benny’s, so Dean rummaged through the house, trying to find things that would spark good memories of their parents. John had gotten rid of nearly all of Mary’s things, but Dean had hidden away some keepsakes. A few pieces of inexpensive jewelry she’d worn often, a music box she’d kept on her dresser.

John’s belongings were more difficult to sort through; so many things triggered memories that Dean would rather forget. He had to save some things, though. He decided to text Sam.

Hey, man. I know this isn’t the most cheerful topic, but I’m going through Dad’s stuff. What should I save? I don’t want to get rid of anything you might want.

Dean arranged things into piles while he waited for a reply. Neither he nor Sam could wear any of John’s clothes; maybe those should be donated. His watch, pocketknife, and mementos from his military service would, of course, be kept.

Sam replied an hour and a half later. Sorry, Dean, I was in bio lab. I’d like to keep Dad’s books. You know, he had a shelf full of westerns and books about World War II. I know he didn’t read them anymore, but I’d still like to have them.

Sure thing. Let me know if you think of anything else.

I will. Sorry you’re having to deal with all that alone. I wish I could help.

Just concentrate on school, Sammy. It’s the most important thing.

I guess. How are things with your alpha? What’d you say his name is?

Dean clutched the phone in his hand for a moment. His name is Cas, he finally typed. Talk to ya later, Sam.

Castiel called him later that evening, just when Dean had collapsed on the couch for a break. “Hello, Dean. I’m sorry to say I won’t be able to see you tonight. I’m clearing my schedule for next week, and that means I’m having to work late.”

“That sucks. But I understand. I’ve been packing up all my dad’s stuff today, so I’m pretty beat anyway.”

“Ah. That’s always a difficult thing. Are you doing all right?”

“Oh, yeah. He didn’t have as much stuff as you might think. Oh, wait. Charlie wanted me to talk to you about the ceremony. She wanted to know who should officiate.”

“Oh, right. Do you have any suggestions?”

“Nope. Dad never took us to church, and I don’t know anyone who could do it.”

“Our family went to church frequently before my mother died,” Castiel mused. “After that, most of us eventually stopped. Michael still attends regularly, however. I’ll ask him for a recommendation. It would be a nice gesture, I think. We don’t talk often except at work.”

“As long as the minister’s not long-winded, I don’t mind who does it.”

Castiel laughed. “Exactly. Or overly self-righteous. Just a nice, simple ceremony.”

“Charlie also asked about our vows. I didn’t know what to tell her.”

“The traditional vows call for the omega to promise to obey and the alpha to promise to protect. A lot of couples change the wording nowadays, and I don’t object to that.”

“No,” Dean said suddenly. “I want to keep it that way.”

“Really?” Castiel sounded surprised.

“Well, yeah. I mean, I have promised to obey you. I want to obey you, because I can trust that you won’t take advantage of that. So can we keep the vows like they are?”

“Of course we can, dear one. I think it’s perfect. It’s a nod to our arrangement that no one will notice except for us.”

“Yeah. I also like the thought of you protecting me.”

“I do, as well. You seem to bring out all my latent alpha tendencies, Dean.” Castiel paused for a moment. “I wanted to talk to you about this morning’s conversation. You followed my directions perfectly. It made me very happy, Dean.”

Dean felt warm and tingly all of a sudden. Just the sound of Castiel’s voice made him feel safe. He curled up on the couch and put the phone on speaker. “Could you say that again?” he asked shyly.

“You’d like me to praise you some more?”

“Um, yeah. I guess.”

“That’s wonderful, Dean. I’m so glad that you can ask for what you need and want. I’m very proud of you.” Castiel’s voice was becoming deeper as he spoke, and it was driving Dean crazy. “I’m also proud that you were so obedient this morning. You could have justified not telling me, as we haven’t signed the contract yet. But you followed my instructions in good faith. I’m so pleased.”

“Mmm.” Dean closed his eyes. He felt so light, as if he could float. But he didn’t want to. The couch was so comfortable.

“Dean? Do you like how I’m talking to you?” Castiel’s voice was gentle, but Dean could tell he expected an answer.

“Yes, sir. I like it a lot.”

“Good boy. I’m so happy we’re getting married soon, Dean. You are beautiful in every sense of the word.”

Dean made a small noise, then remembered. Words. “Thank you, sir.”

“Good boy. I have to hang up now, Dean. But I want you to rest. You’ve worked enough today, all right? Don’t wear yourself out.”

“No, sir. I’ll rest if you want me to.”

“Good. Text me anytime you need to or want to, all right?”

“Mmm-hmm. Good night.”

“Good night, sweet boy.”

Dean lay on the couch for a while, happier than he could ever remember being. He felt as if he were drunk, perhaps. If Castiel’s voice made him feel this good, what could his hands do? Dean shivered.

His phone buzzed. Don’t forget to eat and drink something, sweetheart.

I won’t. Thanks

Dean didn’t want to get up, not even to eat, but he’d told Castiel that he would. He shuffled to the kitchen to make a sandwich, which he ate standing up at the kitchen counter before going to bed.

Dean dreamed of Castiel almost every night that week, but the dreams were usually odd and disjointed, without the urgency of the first one. One night he dreamed that his father was back, telling him that he no longer had to get married. Dean woke in a cold sweat, and realized that even if his circumstances changed, he would still want Castiel in his life.

He saw Castiel only once more before the weekend, when they met at Select Omegas to sign paperwork. They signed the marriage contract and had it notarized, then signed their other contract privately. Castiel kissed Dean before rushing back to work, leaving him bereft.

They talked on the phone daily, and Castiel sent him an email asking for a list of things that Ellen would keep a supply of in the house. Dean had to list his favorite snacks, beverages, preferred toiletry brands, and over-the-counter medications he’d like to have on hand.

Putting his house in order gave him plenty to do, thankfully. He texted Sam often, asking questions about what to keep from the house, and giving him small details about Castiel now and then. Charlie’s texts were much decreased in frequency, now that she had sole responsibility for the wedding, but he still had to field many of them. Even so, the weekend took forever to arrive.

His stomach was full of butterflies as he pulled up to the gate outside the housing complex. Castiel had previously alerted the security guard to Dean’s arrival, and he pulled into the driveway right on schedule. He knocked firmly on the door, three times, and it was almost immediately opened by a smiling Castiel.

“Welcome to our home, Dean. Please come in.”

Dean had expected something modern and minimalist, but Castiel’s house was warm and welcoming. Light poured in through large windows, and the high ceilings made the living area seem especially roomy. It reminded Dean of a famous chef’s home that he’d seen on the Food Network. There was an enormous, plush-looking sofa and two chairs facing the largest flat-screen television that Dean had ever seen in real life.

“Wow.”

“Yes, I thought you might like the TV and the sound system. I’m glad there’ll be someone else here to enjoy it; I haven’t used it enough to even justify having it, really. I occasionally watch some NetFlix, and that’s about it.”

“I’ll definitely use it.” Dean gazed at the TV reverently.

“Do you want to see the kitchen next?”

“Absolutely!” Dean had a feeling that the kitchen would be spectacular, and he wasn’t disappointed. There were dozens of light-colored wood cabinets, and miles of granite countertop. The stainless-steel refrigerator seemed bigger than Dean’s bedroom at home. He ran his fingers over the professional-looking range (six burners!) and gasped at the two ovens. “Wow. I can bake all kinds of things. And look at the dishwasher! I’ve never had one before, it’s awesome!”

“We may be a bit light on kitchen utensils and small appliances. After you move in, look around and make a list of what you might need. We’ll go to Williams-Sonoma and stock up.”

Dean opened one of the cabinets to find a full set of dinnerware--plain white with a blue stripe around the edge.

“I didn’t really think about buying anything fancier, seeing as I rarely entertain,” Castiel explained.

“I like them. I’ve always thought if the plates were too colorful, they take away from the food you’re serving.” Dean picked up one of the dishes to examine it.

“I agree. And they are good quality, from what Anna told me. The glasses are in the next cabinet, and they’re similar, just basic clear glass. I’ve got some wine glasses as well.”

“Do you have a vase?” Dean asked. He still had Castiel’s roses in the pitcher at home.

Castiel looked blank for a moment, then understanding dawned on his face. “Yes, I believe we do.” He opened several more cabinet doors before proudly displaying a crystal vase. “Here we are.” His voice grew a touch softer. “So you liked the roses, then?”

Dean looked down at the countertop covering the spacious kitchen island. “Um, yeah. I guess it’s silly. My dad would have made fun of me.”

“There’s nothing wrong with liking flowers, Dean. They’re beautiful, as are you.”

“Um, well, not really.”

“Yes, really.”

“It smells good in here, by the way. What are you cooking?”

“Luckily for you, I’m not cooking anything. Ellen made a lasagna ahead of time, and it’s in the oven right now.”

Dean whistled. “I can’t wait. Anything that smells so good must taste fantastic.”

“Ellen’s lasagna is truly the best.” Castiel smiled at him. “Shall we continue?”

They made their way through a formal dining room (which Castiel admitted had never been used), the laundry room, and a guest suite. “Sam can stay here when he visits, if he’d like.” The guest room was bright and comfortable, with its own tiny porch, and Dean liked the thought of Sam being so close by.

“Ellen refers to this next room as the den, I call it the library. Either way, it’s a good place to sit in front of the fireplace on a cold day.”

Dean’s mouth dropped open. “You have so many books!” He stepped quickly over to the shelves, longing to touch the books. “Can I?” he asked, looking over his shoulder at Castiel.

“Of course. Read anything you like. You must love books.”

Dean stroked the spine of a leather-bound volume. Castiel didn’t just have lots of books, he had really nice books. “Yeah. We didn’t have a lot of them in the house, but Sam brought a lot of books home from school. I’d read them after he went to sleep.”

“I don’t read nearly as much as I used to, so I don’t have a lot of newer ones. But there’s still plenty to read here.”

“I’ll say.” Dean slid the book back on the shelf regretfully. “Well, I guess we should go on with the tour. If I stay in here, I’ll end up reading something.”

Castiel grinned at him. “Next week you can read all you want.”

Next, he showed Dean the gym, complete with a treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike, and weight-lifting equipment. Dean whistled. “Wow, you weren’t kidding. You really do work out.”

“Did you doubt me?”

“Nah. Especially not after you picked me up like it was nothing.”

As they left the gym and continued down the hall, Dean noticed that Castiel seemed on edge. They stopped in front of a closed door. “Do you remember how I said you’d have a space of your very own in our house?”

“I’d forgotten that, actually. Is this it? This is really mine?”

“Yes, this room is yours. It was put together in a bit of a hurry, considering, so I’ll understand completely if you want to make changes to the decor. I just wanted it to be somewhat finished when you moved in, so you’d have your own place right away.” Castiel was wringing his hands as he spoke, and Dean realized that he was honestly nervous that Dean might not like the room.

Dean grinned at him. “I’m sure it’s fine, man. Can I see it now?”

“Go ahead.”

Dean turned the doorknob and stepped in, and immediately caught his breath. The room was larger than he’d expected, and painted in a soothing shade of blue. The walls were decorated with some vintage Led Zeppelin posters, and a couple of illustrations from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There was a blue plaid recliner, and a flat screen television that was quite a bit smaller than the one in the living room, but still good-sized.

“Holy shit, I’ve got my own TV!” Dean moved closer, and realized the television was hooked up to some sort of gaming system.

“Charlie picked it out,” Castiel told him. “She said it was the best. I myself know nothing about video games.”

“I haven’t played since I was a kid. But it’ll be fun to try again.”

“I thought it would be something fun for when you invite Charlie and Kevin over. They both seemed really excited about it.”

“So they helped you with this?”

“Of course. Charlie in particular has proven to be invaluable. She also helped me choose the sound system. You can download music on your phone and play it over the speakers.”

“Oh my God! There’s an actual record player.” Dean knelt in front of it and lifted the lid. “We had one at home, but it hasn’t worked in years.”

“Maybe you can bring your records here, to add to the collection.”

“You bought me records, too?”

“Yes, of course. They’re here, in this cabinet.” Castiel had bought the entire Led Zeppelin catalog on vinyl, as well as some Bob Seger and other classic rock albums.

“Oh, wow. This is awesome. I can’t believe this.” Dean sorted through the albums with a huge smile on his face. “So you and Charlie have been working together on this. I can’t believe you got all this done in like, a week.”

“Charlie is a very determined individual. And it was important to me that this room be ready for you.” Castiel hesitated. “You’ll notice there is a large empty space. I...I thought you might like to have the sofa from your home here, so that you can have something familiar.” Seeing Dean’s stunned face, he continued, “Of course, if you’d rather have a new one…”

“No! I love that couch. Having it here would be perfect.”

Castiel finally relaxed. “All right. I’ll arrange to have it moved here Thursday. I’m really happy you like this, Dean.”

“I can’t believe you were afraid I wouldn’t. This is awesome.” Dean gestured at the room, searching for words. “This really means a lot. I’ve been so nervous about moving in here, and it helps to know that I have this.”

There was a dinging sound from the kitchen. “Oh! That’s the timer for the lasagna. I’ll be right back, you can just look around if you want.”

Dean sat down in the recliner and tested to see how far back it would lean. It was the most comfortable chair he’d ever sat in. It made a little rocking motion, too, and Dean idly rocked back and forth until Castiel returned.

“The lasagna is done,” he announced, “but according to Ellen I’m supposed to let it cool for a little while. Would you like to see our bedroom now, or would you like to wait until after we eat?”

“Now.” Dean let the footrest down and stood up quickly. Even though Castiel had told him it was a ‘normal room’, Dean was still nervous about seeing it. Knowing what their future bedroom looked like would make all this seem very real.

“Okay, then. This way.” Castiel gestured toward the door, and they walked to the end of a long hallway. The master bedroom was certainly secluded, Dean thought. As they approached, Dean’s heart beat faster and faster, until Castiel reached over to take his hand. “It’s all right, Dean. Take a couple of deep breaths. Good. Ready?”

Dean nodded, and Castiel opened the door. Dean scanned the entire room, and felt weak with relief. It was indeed very normal. The master bedroom was spacious, and decorated in various shades of blue, with pale green accents and dark brown furniture. It was nice, and not unlike what Dean might have picked for himself if he’d had an unlimited budget.

The bed was made of some kind of metal, and the headboard looked like tree limbs in leaf. Dean realized that the design and material were ideal for affixing restraints, and he blushed.

“What’s with the sink and stuff in the corner?” There was a tiny sink with a cabinet, a mini fridge, and a metal rack with towels on it that worried Dean a bit.

“Here, let me show you. I’ve had these things installed this week, to be ready for your arrival.” Castiel opened the refrigerator, which was stocked with individual size juices, water, and snacks. “This is the type of juice you requested, and some of your favorite snacks that are easy to eat.” He then gestured toward the sink. “This is for clean-up, obviously. And the rack is a towel warmer. When you are recovering from a scene, you might be susceptible to chills.”

Dean was stunned. “So all these things are for aftercare?”

“Exactly.” Castiel beamed. “I’ve spent some time over the years thinking about this. It’s unwise to leave a sub alone after a scene, especially an inexperienced one. This way, everything we might need is right here in the room. I don’t have to leave your side to get towels, water, etc. There’s also a wastebasket with a lid, and a laundry hamper, so that everything stays neat.”

Dean was silent, and opened the drawers under the sink. There were extra towels and washcloths, lotions, drinking glasses, ibuprofen, and stomachache medicine.

Castiel stood several feet away, letting Dean take everything in. “Dean?” he said hesitantly. “Does this make you feel better, or worse?”

Dean considered. “Honestly, it seemed weird at first. But I see that you’re trying to make sure I’m comfortable. If I’m going to completely entrust myself to someone, I want it to be a person with this much concern and attention to detail.” He took a deep breath. “The answer is, better.”

Castiel sighed with relief. “Good. All of this was done after a great deal of thought about your safety and comfort, Dean. I’d like to show you something else in the bathroom, if I may.”

Dean followed him to the master bathroom curiously. His mouth dropped open. “I didn’t know there were bathrooms this big.” There was a garden tub, a separate shower with glass doors, and a vanity with two sinks. “Wait a minute. Is that one of those walk-in tubs? Like you see advertised on TV?”

“It is. That’s the other new thing I’ve had installed this week. I know what you’re thinking, that they’re usually for older people, but if bathing is going to be a common occurrence during our aftercare, it makes sense. It’s really difficult to carry someone in and out of a regular tub without dropping them. Not to mention that if a submissive isn’t alert, you have to worry about keeping their head above the water. This way, it’s easy and safe for you. Plus, it has these whirlpool jets. Very relaxing.”

Dean grinned at him. “I’ll be damned. You really did think of everything.”

“You’ll also notice that the shower has two shower heads, one on each side. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to shower with anyone, but only one person can really stand under the water at a time. The other person is left shivering. That won’t be the case with us.”

“That’s really clever. I’m impressed. Oh, hey, here are all the bath things we picked out.”

“Yes. The sink and drawers on the left are yours. Ellen has already stocked them with the toiletries that you specified. The medicine cabinet has over-the-counter medications for pain, allergies or colds, and stomach upset. If there’s anything you need that’s not in there, I’ll get it for you.” Castiel hesitated. “Oh, yes. There are two walk-in closets; again, the one on the left is yours.”

“I don’t have enough clothes to fit in a regular closet, much less a walk-in. But it’ll be nice to have plenty of room.”

Castiel nodded. “When you get settled in, we can go clothes shopping. If you like.”

Dean shrugged. They continued back into the bedroom, and Dean noticed a tall wooden cabinet along the far wall. It looked like a wardrobe. “Is that the cabinet you told me about?”

“Yes, this is where we’ll keep our toys and supplies.” Castiel looked at him carefully. “Would it make you feel better to see the inside?”

Dean nodded, and held his breath as Castiel opened the doors. “It’s empty.”

“Yes. Because we’re going to pick those things out together. I want you to be comfortable and familiar with everything we use, especially at first. Later on I might surprise you with some things, but you’ll still have the final say on whether we use them.”

“Okay. That seems fair. Does it lock?’

“No, it doesn’t. I know I’ll be able to trust you not to touch it without permission, as we discussed.”

“What about your housekeeper?”

“Ellen is very professional and discreet. She doesn’t go searching for things, and she doesn’t comment on what she happens to find.” Castiel closed the bedroom door behind them, and they continued down the long hall.

“How did you meet Ellen?”

“Ellen and I met when her previous employer--my client--left her an inheritance. I knew her employer well and respected him, and he told me on more than one occasion about Ellen’s trustworthiness. After our business was conducted, I invited her to work for me in a similar capacity. She quickly agreed. She had a daughter to support, and she wanted to save the inheritance for her daughter’s college tuition.” Castiel reached out to grasp Dean’s hand. “We’ve gotten along very well. Ellen is not the typical housekeeper; she expresses opinions freely to me when asked and I have grown to value her advice. She’s a bit of a character.”

Dean nodded. He had never met anyone with a housekeeper, so he had nothing to compare Castiel’s story to. “Does she live near here?”

“She lives in one of the condos that you pass on the way here. It’s ideal arrangement for both of us. She’s nearby, in case I need something done at the last minute, and this community is a very safe place for an omega who lives alone. Her daughter started engineering school last fall.”

Dean figured that Castiel must have paid for Ellen’s condo. Not many housekeepers could afford a place like that. “Well, that’s handy.”

“It is. She normally comes in to clean and restock things on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ve given her next Friday off, of course, since we’ll be honeymooning here.”

“Well. I’m looking forward to meeting her.”

“She’ll be at the wedding, for sure. Along with Anna, Gabriel, and Michael.” He smiled apologetically at Dean. “I’m sorry to inundate you with three relatives all at once, but there’s no way I can get out of inviting them to the wedding. They’re all excited to meet you.” Castiel tilted his head, thinking. “Except for Michael. It’s hard to say if Michael gets excited about anything. But Gabriel and Anna are thrilled that I’m getting married.”

“Are their spouses coming, too?” That would be a lot of new people to meet, Dean thought.

“No. Gabriel, of course, isn’t married, Anna’s husband will be out of town on business that day, and Michael’s wife doesn’t like to be away from home at the twins’ bedtime. It’s for the best, really. You can meet them another time; it’ll be less overwhelming.” They entered the kitchen, where a magnificent lasagna sat cooling on the counter. “Please, Dean, have a seat at the counter, and I’ll make you a plate.”

Dean hopped up on one the the swiveling chairs at the counter, and Castiel served him a heaping portion of lasagna. Just lasagna, Dean noticed with amusement. No side dishes, no salad, no garlic bread. He was definitely not a cook.

Castiel put a wine glass in front of him, then hesitated. “I’m sorry, I should have asked. Would you like a little red wine?”

Dean hesitated. “How much longer will I be here? I do have to drive home.”

“I had hoped you’d spend a few hours with me, if you like. You haven’t seen the backyard yet.”

“Oh, yeah. Of course I’d like to. I just didn’t want to drink anything if I needed to leave right after lunch.” Dean gave the wineglass a little push toward Castiel, who started pouring.

“That’s very responsible of you. I admire that.”

“God, this lasagna is perfect. Think Ellen would give me the recipe?” Dean stuffed his mouth with another bite.

“If she takes a liking to you, she might.” Castiel poured his own glass of wine and took the seat next to Dean.

“I can be very charming.”

“That is true.” Castiel reached over and wiped a spot of marinara sauce off Dean’s chin. “Are you judging me for not having any garlic bread?”

“Nah. Well, okay, I was lowkey judging you.” Dean laughed.

“I didn’t think of it until you were already here, and it was too late.”

“Don’t worry about it, man. Everything’s perfect.”

“I don’t even have a dessert.” Castiel lamented.

“Now that is a tragedy. We’ll just have to have extra lasagna instead.”

When they finished eating, Castiel gathered the plates and forks and put them in the dishwasher. Dean very carefully washed and dried the wine glasses.

“I don’t know that I’m up to walking around the backyard right now,” Castiel admitted, “but the weather’s nice. We could sit on the back porch for a little while.”

“Fresh air sounds good. Lead the way.”

Castiel opened a sliding glass door. The “back porch” was actually an expansive covered patio with plush furniture and a fire pit.

“And your backyard looks like a resort. Why am I surprised?”

“It’s not that big. You should see Gabriel’s pool. He could host all the Playboy bunnies at once.” Castiel thought for a moment. “He probably has, in fact.”

“I dunno, man. That’s a pretty big pool out there.” Dean grinned at him.

“It is heated, but it’s getting to be too cold for swimming. Maybe we’ll have a few warm days, and you can try it out.”

“That’d be nice.” Dean peered farther into the backyard. Past the swimming pool, there was a spacious grassy area with trees and landscaping plants. A hammock swayed in the breeze, and a wooden privacy fence blocked any view of the surrounding houses. “But it’ll be great just to be outside more, to be honest.” Dean turned to examine the rest of the patio. “Whoa. What’s that down there?” It looked like a mattress, suspended on ropes and crowded with pillows.

Castiel rolled his eyes. “It is called a hanging daybed, Dean, and I did not pick it out. The house came with it.”

“Well, you should have picked it out! It looks awesome!” Dean was thrilled. “Can I sit on it? Should I take my shoes off first?”

“Yes, and yes. Let’s try it out together.”

“You’ve never tried it out? That’s awful!” Dean had already kicked off his shoes and crawled onto the bed.

“It’s one of those things that’s not as much fun by yourself,” Castiel explained, carefully climbing on after him.

“Yeah, I can see that. Hey, Castiel? That fence is pretty high. I don’t think any of the neighbors could see us. Maybe when we get to know each other a little better, we could get creative with this thing.” Dean raised an eyebrow.

“I like the way you think, Dean Winchester.” Castiel settled in on the daybed and propped himself up with pillows, and Dean flopped down next to him.

“Right now I’m thinking of taking a nap.”

“Also a good plan.” Castiel extended an arm, and Dean snuggled against him.

“I probably won’t see you anymore until Thursday, will I?”

“Probably not. But just think, by then we’ll be married, and living here together.” Castiel stroked Dean’s hair softly.

“Mmm. I’m gonna go to sleep now.”

“All right, little omega. I’ll be right here when you wake.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

On Thursday, Dean awoke to complete quiet. The television was off, there was no sound from the neighbors, and no cars passing by. He stared up at the ceiling, floating in the silence, feeling disoriented.

Maybe the world had ended without him knowing it. Maybe he was the only person left. Dean untangled himself from the blankets and rose from the couch, and stepped quietly to the window. He stood there, looking out, until he finally saw a car pass. Satisfied, he dropped the curtain and headed for the kitchen. The last of the toaster pastries were waiting for him.

It was an odd feeling. Everything was packed, aside from the clothes he had laid out to wear to the country club; before he would change into his tux and his life would change forever.

There was nothing left to do, no decisions left to make, no last minute plans. Dean wandered through the house like a ghost. At noon, the moving company came to get the couch and everything Dean had packed. After they left, he went to the kitchen and ate some crackers and drank a soda. There was very little left from his grocery store shopping spree; he hated the thought of wasting food, so he’d made sure it was all eaten.

He would be leaving at three, but by two o’clock, the silence of the house was pressing in on him. He grabbed his duffel bag, stepped out onto the tiny porch, and closed the door forever. Dean sat down on the front steps and waited.

Thankfully, Kevin was not late. He pulled into the driveway in his compact car at ten til three, waving cheerfully when he saw Dean waiting outside. “Looks like you’re all good to go, then?”

“More than.” Dean hopped in the car, tossing his bag in the back seat. “Thought I was gonna go crazy these last few minutes.”

Kevin peered at the empty house and shivered a bit. It already looked abandoned. “Yeah. Understandable.” He put the car in reverse. “Let’s go get you hitched, then.”

The country club was a hive of activity. Charlie and Emily actually had matching Bluetooth earpieces to communicate with each other, and club employees were rushing around everywhere. One of them was explaining to an elderly patron that the smaller dining room would be closed that night. “Booked for a special event, ma’am. Very exclusive. No, I’m not at liberty to say.”

Kevin grinned at him. “Well, I think this is where we part ways until you get ready. I’m going to start taking some photos of the venue and decorations.”

“Hey, thanks for picking me up, man. I appreciate it. And, you know, for being the wedding photographer and all.”

“Are you kidding, man? This is the opportunity of the year. No way I’d miss this.” He hoisted a camera bag on his shoulder and moved into the crowd.

“Dean! Deeeaaann! Over here!” Charlie was waving frantically. “Good, good, you’re on time. I’ve picked up your tux, they’ve set aside a private room for you to get ready, the tux is in there. C’mon, I’ll show you.”

“How much getting ready do I have to do?” Dean griped. “It’s still more than three hours til the ceremony.”

“Better safe than sorry. And besides, Kev still has to take photos of you. That’ll take a little while.” Charlie grabbed his arm and pulled him along. “You excited? Nervous?”

“Mostly ready to get it over with, I think,” Dean admitted, then realized he might have hurt Charlie’s feelings. “The waiting, that is. I can’t wait for the wedding! And the dinner. Yum!”

Charlie giggled. “It’s all right, Dean, I understand. Weddings can be stressful. But the important thing to remember is, I got you! I’ve thought of everything--well, Emily and I did--so all you have to do is keep your eyes on me. I will not steer you wrong.”

“God, I really appreciate that. I’m in way over my head here.”

“Nah, you’re good. I’ll give a run-through real quick.” Charlie guided him down a hallway and opened a set of double doors. “Here’s where the ceremony will be. You’ll enter from that door over there, the guests will be sitting here, and Castiel will be standing right up there. At my signal, you’ll walk down the aisle, slowly, to the tune of an instrumental version of “Thank You” by Led Zeppelin, played by a string quartet, who will be in the front corner.”

Dean gaped. “I’m going to walk in to a Zep song? Can we do that?”

“We can do whatever we want.”

“That is so cool. Charlie, you’re the best.”

“You know it. Like I said, cool yet classy. After you reach the altar, Castiel will take your arm, and Reverend Mosley will make a few remarks. Don’t worry, Dean, I’ve cautioned her to be succinct. Then, a poem will be read.”

“Which poem?” Dean hadn’t read a lot of poetry. He mostly stuck to short stories and non-fiction, with the occasional novel.

“Castiel chose it; it was his only request for the ceremony. I believe I should let it be a surprise.”

“Fair enough.”

“Then, we’ll have the vows. Those are no problem, you just have to repeat after the minister. Then you’ll kiss your groom, and turn to walk out to the dulcet strains of ‘Here Comes the Sun’.” Charlie grinned at him.

“I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but this wedding is gonna be epic.” Dean wandered around the room. The chairs for the guests were decorated with vining greenery and dark blue flowers. White candles lined either side of the aisle, and spilled into a grouping of candles on either side of the altar. There was a spare, curving wooden arch draped with flowering vines at the front.

“Charlie, man. This is really impressive. I can’t believe how good it looks. And it’s wedding-y but not too girly, you know what I mean?”

“I do indeed. And you don’t have to worry about knocking over any candles. They look realistic, but they’re actually battery-powered.”

“You really did think of everything.”

“You haven’t seen anything yet. Wait til tonight.” Charlie pulled him away to get a peek of the banquet room, where two staff members were setting the table. “They don’t have everything set up yet, but trust me, it’ll be gorgeous! Okay, let’s get you all gussied up.”

The dressing room had a full-length mirror, a vanity, and some kind of chaise. Well, at least he could sit down for a while, Dean thought. Charlie had other ideas. “Okay, your tux is hanging up in that garment bag, your shoes are in that box on the vanity. Go ahead and get dressed, Hannah will be here in 15 minutes to do your hair and makeup. If you can’t figure out the bow tie, she’ll help you.”

“Hair and makeup? Again?”

Charlie pursed her lips. “There’s gonna be a lot of photos taken, Winchester. You gotta look good. Don’t worry, I told Hannah to go very natural. No eyeliner.”

“Thank goodness for that.” Dean pulled off his sneakers and started to unbutton his jeans.

“And this is my cue to leave. Later, Dean!” Charlie zipped out of the room, leaving Dean in silence.

He had brought fresh socks and underwear for the ceremony, but both had been washed so many times that they were a dull shade of gray. He had brought regular white socks, Dean realized with a sudden panic. He had no dress socks, and he hadn’t thought about buying any. He was going to look like an idiot--a tux, shiny black dress shoes, and grayish-white athletic socks.

Could he bother Charlie with this? She was so busy already. Well, he may as well put on the rest of the tux while he decided what to do. Stiff white shirt, check. Tucked down in the black pants neatly, check. He took one look at the tie and decided to wait on Hannah, and hung the jacket carefully over the back of the chaise. Dean stood in front of the mirror, feet bare, and stared at his reflection. Not too bad, but he could use some work.

Someone knocked briskly. “Dean, may I come in? It’s Hannah.”

He dashed over and opened the door. Hannah breezed in, a large tote bag on her shoulder. She placed it on the vanity and began extricating makeup kits and hairbrushes. “Sit down here on the stool, and we’ll get started. No, wait. Why are you barefoot?”

“I forgot dress socks,” Dean mumbled.

Hannah snorted and began rooting around in the depths of the bag. She produced a pair of black socks, slightly rumpled but otherwise acceptable, and held them out towards Dean.

His jaw dropped. “How did you know?”

“Oh, please, give me some credit. This isn’t my first wedding.” Hannah gestured at the stool again, and Dean sat. “I was right, wasn’t I? It didn’t take you long to find an alpha.” She started applying some sort of moisturizer with a large brush.

“Yeah, it all happened kinda fast.” Dean closed his eyes. He hated to admit it, but having makeup applied felt sort of soothing. He basked in the silence for a few moments.

“My husband and I got married fairly quickly, too,” Hannah offered after a while, as she clicked her makeup box shut. “Here, let’s fix your tie first, then I’ll do your hair.”

“And it worked out okay?”

“Yes. Marriage isn’t easy, of course, but it’s worth it. If you’re with the right person.”

“Mmm.”

“All set,” Hannah finally said. “Come with me, dear. Kevin’s waiting to take photos of you.”

“Is there any way I can get out of that?”

Hannah grinned at him. “No.”

Dean was subjected to an even longer photo shoot this time. Kevin wanted outdoor photos, then some in the room where the ceremony would be held. Finally they went back to the dressing room and Kevin took some close-up shots.

Charlie poked her head in the door. “How’s it goin’, guys? Are we about done?”

“Yeah, I think I’ve got everything I need.” Kevin grinned at Dean as he breathed a sigh of relief. “Is Castiel here yet?”

“He just arrived, and he’s ready for his close-up. Hey, Dean, Castiel’s sister Anna and someone named Ellen just got here, too, and they’d like to meet you before the ceremony. Is that okay?”

Dean had a sudden flutter of nerves, but he smiled. “Sure, why not?”

“I’ll send them in.” Charlie patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, they seem really nice.”

Dean stood up to greet them, but after a few minutes, they still hadn’t arrived. Maybe they’d changed their mind. He flopped down on the chase and sighed heavily. Of course, the door opened at that very moment.

“May we come in?”asked a soft, musical voice. The first woman was tiny and pale, with fiery red hair. She was wearing a flowing blue evening dress.

Dean jumped to his feet. “Of course, sure. Come in. Um, I’m Dean.”

She smiled at him, and her entire face lit up. “I figured. I’m Anna, Castiel’s sister.” She held out her hand, and Dean took it. She was so small and delicate looking that he took care to grasp her hand very gently. “It’s lovely to meet you at last; I’ve been so excited for today.” She gestured behind her. “And this is Ellen Harvelle.”

Dean liked Ellen immediately. She had brown hair and a matter-of-fact expression. She grabbed his hand and pumped it firmly. “Nervous, huh, kid? I felt the same way before my wedding. I had so many butterflies, I was afraid they were gonna fly right outta my mouth.”

Dean grinned at her. “You got that right. I’m ready to get this show on the road.”

“I felt the same way,” Anna mused. “Although I felt much better once I saw my husband. That reassured me. I’m sure it will be the same for you.”

“I had a few glasses of wine before the ceremony,” Ellen offered. “It made me really relaxed, but I was kinda shaky as I was walking down the aisle. I was afraid I’d trip and fall right into somebody’s lap, but I managed.”

“Yeah, I’d better avoid alcohol right now,” Dean told her. “My stomach is so jittery, I’m afraid I’d be sick.”

“Let’s all sit and relax a bit,” Anna suggested. “Tell us about yourself, Dean. What do you like to do?”

“Um, I love cooking. And working on cars. Especially classic ones. And I love music. Led Zeppelin’s my favorite.”

“Man after my own heart.” Ellen smiled at him. “We’ll get along fine.”

“I’m afraid I know nothing about cars,” Anna admitted. “And I’m a terrible cook. Castiel and I share that trait. But I love all kinds of music.”

“Oh, Ellen, I meant to tell you your lasagna we had last weekend was fantastic. Best I’ve ever had.”

Ellen winked at him. “Well, I might be persuaded to give you the recipe.”

Charlie leaned in the door again. “Hey, guys. We’d like to get some photos of Castiel with his family.”

“Oh, of course.” Anna rose gracefully to her feet. “Dean, I’d like to give you my phone number. Feel free to call or text me anytime. Adjusting to marriage can be difficult, and we omegas need to support each other.” She drew a card out of her handbag and gave it to him. “Is it okay if I have your number, too? I’d like to check in with you, if that’s okay. Maybe we could go to lunch, or for coffee?”

“Sure thing. That would be great, actually.” Dean recited his number, and Anna saved it in her phone.

“See you soon!” she said brightly, before Charlie escorted her out of the room.

Ellen unbuttoned her purple taffeta jacket. “May as well be comfortable. Sometimes the picture-taking can go on a while.” She pursed her lips. “So Castiel tells me your parents aren’t around.”

“Yeah. My mom passed when I was a kid, but Dad just died recently.”

“My parents are both gone, too. And my husband. It’s just me and my daughter now, and she’s off living her life. Anyway, I wondered if you might want me to keep you company until it’s time for the ceremony.”

Dean felt a lump rising in his throat. “Yeah. I’d like that.”

Ellen seemed to sense that Dean was too nervous to talk, so she told him a story about meeting her husband. “I was working in a bar then, you know. I was taking a tray of drinks to a table full of guys in the back. Bill had just came in and sat down in a booth, and he hadn’t pulled his legs under the table yet. There he was with his big ‘ol feet sticking out in the aisle, and I tripped right over them. Broken glass and beer everywhere.” She chuckled. “He was so embarrassed. Helped me clean up the mess, then offered to take me to dinner to make up for it. And that was that.”

“That’s a good story.” Dean wished that he and Castiel had a story like that. Something normal.

“Yeah. Well, you and Castiel will have plenty of stories of your own. Listen, Dean. I think of Castiel like family, and I hope you’ll come to think of me that way, too. I’ll be over at your house a lot, and I live nearby. You can call me anytime you need anything, and I mean that.”

“I appreciate that. Really.”

The door opened again, and Charlie was standing there, smiling nervously. “Okay, guys, it’s go time.”

Ellen stood and pulled on her jacket, and checked her hair in the mirror. “I’d best get to my seat, then. Good luck, young man. I’ll see you in a little bit.” She patted his shoulder and nodded to Charlie as she left.

Dean’s hands were starting to shake a bit, so he clutched the lapels of his jacket to steady them. Charlie put a hand on each of his shoulders. “Easy. Everything’s cool, Dean. I’m going to stay right with you and tell you when to start down the aisle. Emily is standing at the front of the room, and she’s going to give you a signal. If she puts her hand up like this”--Charlie made a ‘stop’ gesture--”then you need to walk slower. If she beckons toward you, then you need to speed up. Okay?”

“Sounds easy.”

“It is, and you’re gonna do fine. Now, you ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

“Let’s go, then.” Charlie took his arm, and they walked to the door leading to the ceremony room, where Castiel was already waiting. “We’re in position,” she said into her earpiece. They waited about half a minute, then Charlie nodded. “All right, Winchester. Knock ‘em dead.” She opened the door for Dean, and he stepped through.

The lights were dimmed, and the room was filled with hundreds of candles. Dean took slow steps into the room, and the guests rose to their feet. Dean felt stiff and awkward, and cast his eyes around for someone to look at. Benny nodded to him, and Andrea waved frantically. Ellen gave him an exaggerated wink. Dean grinned in spite of himself.

Oh, damn, he was supposed to be looking at Emily. Dean’s eyes snapped up front to see her giving the “slow down” signal. How could he possibly walk any slower? Then he saw Castiel.

Castiel was beaming, and his eyes were locked on Dean, as if they were the only two people in the room. Dean forgot to look on the other side of the aisle, where Anna was sitting with his future brothers-in-law; he forgot to listen to the string quartet. He even forgot to look for Emily’s signals. All that mattered to him was reaching the altar, and Castiel.

Dean must have walked down the aisle in record time, if Emily’s bitchface was any indication, but when Castiel took his arm and gently squeezed his hand, nothing else mattered. They stood there together while the string quartet finished the song, and Dean caught himself silently mouthing the lyrics as they played. Castiel saw, and grinned even more. As the musicians fell silent, and the guests seated themselves with rustling of clothing and squeaking of chairs, Castiel leaned over a bit and whispered, “You look beautiful.”

Now Dean’s smile matched Castiel’s, and he found he was no longer afraid.

Reverend Mosley took her place, and had to clear her throat twice before either of them paid attention. “Dearly beloved,” she began, “we are gathered here today to witness the joining of alpha and omega, of husband and husband. Castiel and Dean may not have known each other for very long, or have the most conventional meeting story, but strong love can grow from the most unlikely places. ‘Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.’

As the two of you start your married life together, there will be ups and downs. Not everything will go smoothly. Sometimes, the differences between your experiences until now will seem impossible to bridge.

‘Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.’” Her voice thundered through the room, and Dean felt very small. Castiel squeezed his hand tighter.

“Marriage is not always easy. It’s not like the happy ever after you see in the movies. A good marriage takes work. It takes getting up every morning and deciding, every day, to actively love this person. To cherish them. To take care of them, and allow them to take care of you. And at times, to forgive them when they’re acting like a fool.”

The guests laughed, and Reverend Mosley cracked a smile.

“Castiel and Dean, you chose each other, but never forget that you must keep choosing each other, all the days of your marriage. ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’ Now, I have been told that Castiel’s sister, Anna, is going to read a poem that Castiel picked. Anna?”

Anna rose and stepped lightly to the front of the room, her dress rustling. She cleared her throat and smiled at everyone.

“I’ll be reading Touched By An Angel, by Maya Angelou.

We, unaccustomed to courage
Exiles from delight
Live coiled in shells of loneliness
Until love leaves its high holy temple
And comes into our sight
To liberate us into life.

Love arrives
And in its train come ecstasies
Old memories of pleasure
Ancient histories of pain,
Yet if we are bold,
Love strikes away the chains of fear
From our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
We dare be brave
And suddenly we see
That love costs all we are
And will ever be
Yet it is only love
Which sets us free.”

Dean swallowed, hard. His eyes felt a bit prickly. Reverend Mosley gave him an understanding smile.

“Castiel, will you take Dean to be your wedded husband, will you love him, protect him, honor and keep him in sickness and health, and forsaking all others, keep only unto him?”

“I will.” Castiel looked straight into Dean’s eyes.

“Dean, will you take Castiel to be your wedded husband, will you love him, obey him, honor and keep him in sickness and health, and forsaking all others, keep only unto him?”

“I will.” Dean’s heart thudded in his chest, and he took a deep breath to calm himself.

“Castiel and Dean will now exchange rings, as tokens of their love and devotion.” Reverend Mosley looked toward the back of the room, and Charlie stepped forward, beaming, bearing their rings.

“Castiel, with this ring, I thee wed.” Dean’s hands were shaking so badly that it took a couple of tries to slide the ring on Castiel’s finger.

Castiel’s hands were steady and warm. “Dean, with this ring, I thee wed.”

Reverend Mosley beamed. “Those whom God has brought together, let no man put asunder. You may kiss your groom.”

Dean suddenly found his lips smushed against those of a very enthusiastic Castiel. He could hear Benny whistling, and Charlie laughing. The string quartet struck up “Here Comes the Sun”, and Dean felt as if he were walking a few inches off the ground. He hung on to Castiel until they crashed through the doors, into sudden blissful quiet.

Charlie leaned through doors after them. “Guys, I’m gonna give you a couple minutes in private, okay? Then Kevin will come take a few photos of you together.”

“Thank you, Charlie.” Castiel reached for Dean. “Come here. Oh my God, you were wonderful. Are you all right?”

Dean stumbled into his arms. “Holy crap, I’m so glad that’s over,” he mumbled into Castiel’s shoulder.

“Yes. So am I.” Castiel just held him for a moment, rocking him back and forth gently, and Dean took a deep breath. Castiel finally pulled away to arms length, and looked at Dean carefully. “Is there anything I can get for you? Do you need to sit down for a minute?”

Dean shook his head. “Nah. Anna was right. I felt better after you were with me.”

“Yes. It was hard to be away from you. It hurt, almost.”

“Yeah, it did,” Dean whispered. “I liked the poem, by the way. A lot.”

Castiel’s face brightened. “You did? I’m so glad. I, um, have another poem to read to you. When it’s just us. All right?”

“I’d like that.”

Kevin slipped through the doors, quiet as a ghost. “Do you need a minute, or…”

Castiel looked at Dean, who nodded. “No, Kevin, let’s go ahead. We don’t want to keep dinner waiting too long.”

Kevin grinned. “I wouldn’t worry. There are drinks and appetizers out there, and Gabriel’s entertaining everyone. He’s already danced with Ellen, and now he’s trying to get the minister to dance, too.”

Castiel narrowed his eyes. “There’s a dance floor?”

“Oh, no. There’s not.”

“Oh, well. Unless he starts dancing on tables, we’ll call it a wash. Where do you want us?”

Having his picture taken with Castiel was infinitely better than being alone. Dean pretended that Kevin wasn’t even there, and that Castiel’s gentle glances were for him alone. He started to feel a bit wobbly, and he leaned on Castiel for support.

“Excuse me, Kevin. Is it all right if we take some seated photos?”

“Sure thing, Castiel.”

Dean gave Castiel a grateful look. It had been quite a while since he’d eaten, and his energy was starting to flag a bit. Sitting down felt heavenly.

“You guys are like, one of the most photogenic couples I’ve ever photographed. These are going to turn out great.”

“Do you have all that you need?”

“Yeah, I think so.”

“Good. Kevin, could you do me a favor? Send someone over with a refreshing drink for Dean. Nothing with alcohol, please. And tell Charlie we need fifteen minutes. Dean needs a break.”

“Sure thing. Like I said, everyone’s having a good time out there. No worries.”

Dean leaned back and fanned himself. “It’s warm in here.”

Castiel frowned. “It’s not that warm.” He reached out and undid Dean’s bow tie, and unbuttoned his shirt collar. “Take your jacket off for a minute.” Castiel stood and walked into the bathroom, returning with some damp paper towels. “I promise I won’t mess up your makeup,” he said, grinning.

“Smartass.”

Castiel pressed the cool towels to either side of Dean’s neck. “Does that feel good?”

“You don’t have to do this, Castiel. I can get through it.”

“I know you can, Dean. You’re a very strong person. But I want to you at least feel well enough to enjoy your dinner.”

A club employee entered with a fruity-looking drink. “Without alcohol, right?” Castiel reached for the tray.

“That’s right, sir.”

“Thank you so much.” He handed the glass to Dean, who took a careful sip through the straw. The drink was cool and sweet and good, and his head cleared a bit more as he sipped.

Dean set the empty glass on the table. “I do feel better.”

“Good. Now, I want you to lean on me and close your eyes. You’re going to rest for ten minutes. No buts, Dean.”

“Kay.” Dean didn’t even want to protest. He put his feet up on the seat, and laid his head on Castiel’s chest. He took deep, even breaths to match Castiel.

He wouldn’t have thought it possible, but he actually dozed for a moment. Castiel patted his shoulder. “Dean? Are you okay to go in now?”

Dean eased himself back upright and considered. “Yeah. I feel good.” He buttoned his shirt, and Castiel helped him with his bow tie. “Let’s do this.”

“If you start feeling like you need a break, just reach over and tap me on the leg. No one will see, and I’ll get you out of there as soon as I can.”

“Thanks. But what would you tell everyone?” Dean shimmied back into his jacket.

“I’d simply announce that we are retiring for the night, because I have been suddenly overcome with lust.” Castiel pulled Dean to his feet.

“I’m considering doing this, just to see the looks on people’s faces.”

“All jokes aside, Dean, your comfort matters the most here. If you’re not doing well, please let me know.”

“I will. Thanks, Castiel.”

“Shall we?” Castiel linked arms with Dean, and they walked into the reception area. A man who must surely be Gabriel was dancing vigorously with Ellen. Benny and Andrea had joined them on the makeshift dance floor.

Anna spotted them first. “Oh, my goodness, everyone! Here’s the happy couple!”

A surprisingly rousing cheer rose from the guests. Dean guessed that cocktails had been handed out liberally to distract them from the wait. Only a dark-haired man in the corner appeared to be bored, and was actually checking his watch.

Anna stepped forward. “I believe you’ve met everyone except Gabriel and Michael. Dean, this is our older brother, Gabriel.”

Gabriel was much shorter than his brothers, and wiry. He shook Dean’s hand with a smile. “Good to meet the guy who’s making an honest man outta my brother.”

“Nice to meet you.” Dean looked into Gabriel’s eyes, and felt a jolt of surprise. Everything about the man suggested a lighthearted jokester, but his tawny eyes were deep and not entirely benign. This Gabriel might be entertaining, but he was clearly not a man to be messed with.

“And this is our younger brother, Michael.”

Michael had the same dark hair and startling blue eyes as Castiel, but the resemblance ended there. Castiel’s eyes were warm and lively, but Michael’s gaze was cold and flat. Dean got the idea that Michael was irritated by the whole evening in general, and Dean in particular.

“I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Dean.”

“The pleasure is all mine.” There, he could be polite too.

Charlie clapped her hands. “All right, everyone! Dinner will be served in just a moment, if you’ll all go through to the dining room.” She gestured for Dean and Castiel to go ahead. “You guys go first, okay? I can’t wait to see what you think.”

Dean entered first, and stopped to catch his breath. The table was covered with candles, and more greenery and dark blue flowers vined down the center. It was stunning, but Dean’s eyes were drawn to the small table at the back of the room.

“Oh my God, Charlie. Is that...wedding pie?”

Charlie bounced up and down excitedly. “I knooow, isn’t it great? Come and see!”

The table held a massive four-tiered display packed with bite-size pies. Hand-lettered signs on each tier indicated the fillings. “Apple, pecan, cherry, and chocolate,” Dean read aloud. “Charlie, this is the single greatest thing anyone has ever done for me.”

She squealed and leaned forward to hug him. “I’m so glad you like it!”

Dean squeezed her tightly. “I love it, Charlie. You’re the best.”

As everyone found their seats, Dean heard Michael sniff disdainfully. “Wedding pie? What is this, a hoe-down? Mother would have hated this.”

“Well, then, it’s a good thing Mother’s not here then, isn’t it?”

“Gabriel!”

Dean looked carefully at Charlie, but she was busy directing Benny and Andrea to their seats, and didn’t appear to have heard. The string quartet, who had set up in the corner, started playing a tune that sounded suspiciously like “All of my Love.” A group of servers circled the table, pouring wine and bringing platters of hot rolls. Dean wanted to eat three or four of them, but when he saw the dinner plates, he was glad he’d saved room.

The steaks sizzled loudly and smelled delicious. Each plate also held a generous serving of garlic mashed potatoes and roasted carrots in butter sauce. Michael looked at the potatoes and wrinkled his nose.

“Oh, for God’s sake, Michael, you’re not going to fall over if you eat a carb.” Anna rolled her eyes.

“The keto diet is a very effective way to stay in good physical condition.”

Anna snorted. “It’s also an unsustainable long-term lifestyle.”

Gabriel reached over and grabbed Michael’s plate, scraping the mashed potatoes onto his own. “There! That settles that. I love carbs.” He took a huge bite of potatoes.

Castiel sighed. “Reverend Mosley, I apologize for the appalling behavior of my siblings.”

“My friends call me Missouri. And since I married you and your husband, and witnessed your brothers acting like fools, I’d like to think of us as friends.”

“Fair enough.” Castiel raised his glass to her.

“Besides, it takes me back to when my own kids were young. I’m an empty-nester now, you see.” Missouri apparently appreciated carbs as well; she was making quite a dent in her mashed potatoes.

The musicians were now playing “Your Song.” Dean leaned over to Charlie. “Is that…”

“Yep, it is. Every song they’re playing is a classic rock love song. Awesome, huh?”

Everyone seemed to be enjoying the steak, even Michael. Anna was the only one who was unable to finish hers. Gabriel couldn’t keep his eyes off the display of pies. “So would it be rude if I start in on dessert?”

“Yes, it would, Gabriel. Dean and Castiel should get the first servings.” Anna shook her head. “He’s obsessed with sweets. I honestly don’t know how he stays so thin.”

“I got all the good genes in the family.”

“Go ahead, Gabriel,” Castiel told him. “It’s not like we’re going to run out of pies, there are hundreds of them.”

Gabriel didn’t wait for anyone to protest. He jumped up and piled a plate with at least ten tiny pies, which he proceeded to quickly cram into his mouth, one by one.

“It really is too many pies,” Charlie volunteered. “But a display of only a few dozen pies wouldn’t have looked nearly as impressive. Besides, they can pack up the leftover ones for you two to take home. Emily says you can even freeze some, if you like.”

Dean perked up at this. He had already been regretting having to leave the pies behind. Now he could savor just a few, knowing that he could eat more tomorrow. He couldn’t decide which flavor he liked best. While eating a pecan pie, it was clearly the best, but as soon as he tried an apple or cherry, he changed his mind. The chocolate ones were a bit rich for his taste, but Gabriel and Anna loved them. Benny and Andrea preferred the fruit pies, and Ellen and Missouri thought they were all equally good. Kevin would only eat pecan and chocolate, saying fruit was too healthy for dessert. Michael picked at a single cherry pie unhappily, and was teased by Gabriel.

Emily had the remaining pies packed in one large box for Dean and Castiel, and several small boxes for everyone else. Michael declined his box, so Castiel took it. “We can give it to Garth,” he explained, and drew Dean aside. “When you’re ready to go, let me know. I’ll have Garth pull around. There’s no hurry, though.”

“No, I think I’m ready. I’m pretty tired, and they probably want to get this place cleaned up so they can go home.” Dean made the rounds of their guests, shaking hands with all the Novak siblings again. Anna promised to text him about getting together soon. Ellen hugged him tightly and kissed him on the cheek. Missouri invited him to church.

Benny patted him on the back, and Andrea leaned in to whisper in his ear. “You have any problems, you call us. We’ll come get you.”

Kevin high-fived him. “Can’t wait for you to see these photos, man. They’re gonna be really good. I’ll start going through them tomorrow, and I’ll call you in a week or two.”

Charlie had retrieved Dean’s duffel bag from the dressing room, and she carried it to the car for him. “C’mere, man.” She gave him a bear hug, then pulled away, trying to hide the fact that she was wiping away a tear. “You call me anytime, okay? I expect to be hearing from you a lot, or I’ll come find you.”

“Thank you for all this, Charlie. I can’t thank you enough.”

Garth placed the boxes of pastries in the trunk, and they settled into the back seat. Dean was unexpectedly anxious; he had ridden in Castiel’s car before, but this time he was being taken to stay with him forever. Suddenly, everything felt very real and uncertain.

“Dean.” Castiel held out his arm, and Dean leaned against him. “Let me tell you what we’re going to do after we get home. We’re going to put on our pajamas, and then we’re going to relax. We can watch a movie, or we can go right to sleep; whatever you feel like. All right?”

“Yeah. Okay.” Dean nestled into Castiel’s chest, and let him stroke his hair.

“You can close your eyes if you want. I’ll take care of you.”

“Might do that,” Dean mumbled. “M’ tired.”

“You’ve done so well. I’m so proud that I’m your husband. I’m so happy that I get to take you home with me at last.”

“You’re not so bad yourself.” Dean realized that this was not the ideal response, but he was too exhausted to correct himself. Castiel laughed, so it must not have been too insulting.

They pulled out onto the highway, and Dean let the humming of the engine soothe him. Dean Winchester-Novak, he thought to himself, right before he dozed off.

Chapter Text

“Could you get Dean’s duffle bag? There--just hang it on my arm--thanks.” Dean felt himself be lifted into the air.

“Here, I’ll get the door.”

“Thank you, Garth. Could you bring in the pastry box? Just put it on the counter.”

“Sure thing. Have you got him? Do you need any help?”

“No, he doesn’t weigh that much.”

Dean stirred. “Are we there yet?”

“Yes, we’re home. Just lie still, all right? I’ve got you.”

“Okay.” Dean yawned. The lights inside the house were too bright, and he burrowed his face into Castiel’s chest to avoid the glare.

“I’ll lock the door behind me, Mr. Novak.”

“Thank you again, Garth. I’ll see you next week. Enjoy your weekend.”

Dean opened one eye, just barely. Castiel was carrying him down the long hallway to his bedroom. Their bedroom.

“Hang on, Dean. I have to open the door.” Castiel fumbled with the doorknob for a moment before the door swung open. He set Dean down on the bed gently, and placed his bag on the floor next to him.

Dean yawned and stretched. “Sorry I passed out on you like that.”

“Well, it is traditional to carry one’s omega over the threshold on the wedding night.” Castiel sat down on the edge of the bed. “If you want to get ready for bed, you can have the bathroom first. I’ll find us something to watch, and then I can get ready when you’re done.”

“Yeah. Okay.” Dean swung his legs onto the floor, and picked up his duffel bag. He closed the bathroom door behind him, thankful that Castiel was allowing him some privacy. He took off his wedding clothes and folded them carefully, then donned a pair of threadbare pajama pants and an AC/DC t-shirt that had a few tiny holes in it. He brushed his teeth and splashed his face with water.

Just as Castiel had promised, the bathroom counter and drawers had been stocked with toiletries, in the exact brands Dean had requested. The medicine cabinet was filled with any kind of over-the-counter medication he might want--Tylenol, Ibuprofen, stomachache medicine, cold and allergy remedies, and all name-brand. Dean shook his head; what he would have given for such a well-stocked medicine cabinet before. When he’d strained his back working in the garage, all he’d been able to afford was generic aspirin from the dollar store. Whenever Sam had come down with a bug, he’d had to scrimp to afford cold medicine.

Dean studied his reflection for a moment. His shabby pajamas certainly weren’t sexy, but they were all he had. What if Castiel laughed when he saw them? Dean took a deep breath and walked back into the bedroom, avoiding Castiel’s gaze.

Castiel had kicked off his shoes and was lounging on the bed, watching an episode of Psych. “You mentioned you liked this show. Is this okay?”

“Yeah. It’s kind of my go-to. Comfort food in television form.”

“Well, I’m going to get ready for bed. You go on and get comfortable. Here, I’ll show you how the bed works.”

“How the bed works? Don’t you just...lay down on it?”

“It’s a sleep number bed. You can change your side to be softer or more firm.” Castiel showed him a remote control. “I didn’t know your mattress preference, so I thought this would be a good idea.”

Dean chuckled. “You’ve seen where I’ve been sleeping, dude. Anything would be an improvement.”

“Well, I’ve actually wanted a bed like this for a while, so my motives weren’t entirely selfless.” Castiel grinned at him and picked up his shoes.

Dean sat gingerly on the side of the bed opposite to the one Castiel had just vacated. He’d never seen such a large bed before, and he felt like it might swallow him up. He played with the settings on the remote for a minute, but they were all infinitely more comfortable than his old bed. He picked a number in the middle and left it there.

Dean was exhausted, but too nervous to lie down. He crossed his legs and tried to concentrate on the television. The bathroom door opened, and his heart pounded as Castiel walked toward him. The alpha was wearing dark blue pajama pants with a matching shirt; the fabric looked lush and expensive. Dean picked miserably at one of the holes in his own pajamas.

“I bought plenty of pillows, so you could choose whatever is most comfortable for you. Just put the others in the floor.”

Dean squeezed a few of the pillows, and selected a moderately firm one.

“Good. Now slide under the covers for me.” Castiel got under the blankets as well, and held his arms out for Dean. “Come here, sweetheart.”

Dean found that being told exactly what to do calmed him somewhat. He scooted over and laid his head on Castiel’s shoulder, and Castiel wrapped his arms around him. Dean took a trembling breath.

“Shh, shh, little one.” Castiel pulled him as close as possible. “I can smell how anxious you are. There’s no need. Everything will be all right.” He rubbed Dean’s back gently. “Would it help if you scented me?”

“Yeah, maybe.” Dean buried his face into Castiel’s neck and inhaled deeply. It did help. Castiel was trying hard to be as soothing as possible, and each breath took a little more of the edge off.

Castiel continued stroking Dean’s back. “Do you remember when we slept on your couch together? This is no different.”

“It feels different.”

“I know. But I promise you never need to be afraid with me, all right?”

“Okay.” Dean closed his eyes and leaned into Castiel. “M’sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“Never apologize for letting me know how you feel. It’s a lot to take in, I know.”

Dean continued breathing in the alpha’s--his alpha, now--scent, and found himself becoming sleepy and sated. Castiel kept petting him, and occasionally murmuring something soothing. He didn’t press Dean for anything else, not even a kiss, and Dean was thankful.

“Better?” Castiel asked him, and Dean nodded drowsily. “Good. Sleep now, sweetheart. Wake me if you need anything.”

Dean did awaken a few hours later, and found that he had rolled over and slightly away from Castiel. He reached for his phone on the nightstand: 3:30 am. Dean slid out of bed and tiptoed toward the bathroom. He had to pee, and he had the beginnings of a headache; probably from the red wine.

He finished using the bathroom and opened up the cabinet for some ibuprofen, swallowing them with a few swigs of water, and made his way back to bed. Dean tried to settle in, but the room was chilly, and he began to shiver. Castiel had pointed out a chest in which extra blankets and bedding were kept, but it was so dark, and Dean didn’t want to wake him by hopping out of bed again. Surely he would warm up in a minute. He scooted nearer and nearer to Castiel, trying not to jar him, but the shivering grew worse.

“Dean?” Shit, he had woken him up. “Are you cold? My goodness, you’re trembling like a leaf. Are you all right?”

“Yeah. Just chilly.” Dean’s teeth chattered a bit.

“I’m sorry, Dean. The thermostat is set to a lower temperature at night, but I forgot that omegas feel the cold more. Especially you, because you’re so thin. I’ll go turn it up a few degrees.” Castiel slid out of bed and headed toward the bedroom door.

Dean found that he couldn’t bear being left in the dark, unfamiliar room alone. “Castiel? Please don’t leave.” His voice cracked a little, and he was ashamed.

Castiel immediately returned. “All right. I’m here, don’t worry. We can fix the thermostat in the morning. I’ll get you a blanket.” He tucked it around Dean and got back in bed. “Here’s what we’ll do. I want you to turn over, away from me, okay?” Dean did so, and Castiel curled around him, wrapping an arm around his waist. “Your feet are cold. Put them on top of mine, all right?”

Castiel was so warm. Dean was able to stop shivering in a couple of minutes. “Sorry I woke you up. I don’t know what happened, my house is way colder than here.”

“Yes, but you probably slept all bundled up. Not to mention that you’ve been through a lot today. Your body is probably too tired to regulate temperature properly.” Castiel rubbed his hand over Dean’s belly, then stopped. “Is that okay?”

“It’s nice. I like this.”

Castiel laughed softly. “You enjoy spooning?”

“Yeah, I do.” Dean’s eyelids grew heavy.

“Well, we’ll do it often, then.” Castiel kissed the back of his head.

When Dean opened his eyes again, sunlight was pouring through the windows, and Castiel was lying awake next to him, one hand resting on Dean’s hip.

“Hi,” Castiel whispered.

“Hey.”

“Are you ready for breakfast, or do you want to sleep some more?”

Dean squinted at him. “Sleep.”

Castiel chuckled. “All right, then. But can you drink some water? I don’t want you to get dehydrated.” Dean nodded, and Castiel retrieved a bottle of water from the little refrigerator. He unscrewed the cap and handed it to Dean, who took several sips and handed it back before passing out again.

He ended up sleeping til almost noon. Dean stretched and sighed happily; aside from being hungry, he felt human again. He looked around for Castiel, who was propped up on pillows, reading. When he realized Dean was awake, he set the book on the nightstand.

“Morning, sunshine. Ready for breakfast now?”

“I’ll say. I’m starving.”

“Coming right up. Bacon and eggs all right?”

“You’re making breakfast?” Dean tried not to sound doubtful.

Castiel seemed amused. “I can handle cooking breakfast, Dean. Stay where you are, just give me a few minutes.” He slid on a pair of slippers and shuffled down the hall to the kitchen.

Dean took advantage of Castiel’s absence to freshen up a bit by brushing his teeth, shaving, and combing his hair, then hurried to back to lie down. He didn’t want to miss his first ever breakfast in bed. He lay back on the pillows, and ran his feet along the impossibly soft sheets.

Castiel didn’t disappoint. He returned with a tray of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast, and one tiny cherry pie, a glass of orange juice, and a little vase with a flower in it. He settled the tray over Dean’s lap, and perched on the other side of the bed.

“Oh, wow. This looks great.” Dean found that the eggs were slightly overcooked and the bacon was not crisp, but the toast was perfect. The juice was outstanding. “Is this fresh squeezed?”

“Only the best for my husband.”

“You actually made orange juice for me?”

“Of course. It’s not difficult, and I thought it might make up for the rest of breakfast being a bit subpar…”

“It’s the best breakfast I’ve ever had.” Dean popped the cherry pie in his mouth, closing his eyes to savor it.

“Well. I’m glad you liked it.” Castiel’s voice softened. “I’m sorry you had such a rough night.”

“Nah, not that bad. I’m sorry I woke you.”

“Never be sorry for that. I’ve adjusted the thermostat, and I’m going to put a couple of nightlights in here. It’s a bit too dark when you’re not used to it.”

Dean felt a lump in his throat. How had Castiel known how panicked the unfamiliar darkness had made him feel? “Um, yeah. That would be nice. But will the lights bother you?”

“No, not at all. I sleep pretty soundly.”

“You woke up right away when I was cold.”

“That’s different. I sensed my omega was in distress, and that’s a powerful thing.”

Dean blushed and bit his lip. He looked at the flower in the tiny vase, and touched the petals very gently, just as he had the roses. “I’m your omega?” It was silly, of course he was, but he liked hearing it.

“Yes, of course. You are my beautiful omega. I can’t believe how fortunate I am to have you here.”

Dean’s breath hitched. Everything was so soft and lovely; he was warm, and comfortable, and well-fed, and there was a beautiful alpha saying nice things to him. Maybe it was a dream, and he would wake up alone again, in his old house.

“Dean? Do you like how I’m talking to you now?”

“Um, yes.”

“Would you like for me to continue?”

“Yeah.”

“All right. Tell me what you need.”

Dean was silent for a few moments before he could form a reply. “Just want to be close to you. Is...is that okay?”

“That’s absolutely okay. Very good, Dean.” Castiel rose and started to collect the breakfast tray. “Do you want to keep your flower with you?”

“Can I put it on the nightstand?”

“Of course. Let me clear these dishes away, and I’ll come right back.” Castiel disappeared into the long hallway.

Dean waited for him to return, his mind blissfully blank for once. Castiel returned in a couple of minutes, and placed a bottle of water on Dean’s nightstand before crawling back in bed. “Just in case you get thirsty, all right? Now. Do you want me to lie near you, or…”

“Hold me.” Dean was shocked to hear the words come from his mouth, and softened them with, “Please?”

“Face to face, or spooning?”

Dean answered by scooting into Castiel’s arms, and burrowing into his chest.

“All right. Now, where were we?” Castiel ran a hand through Dean’s hair. “I was going to tell you about one of the best moments I’ve ever had, when I was waiting at the altar last night and you walked through the door. Dean, you were unspeakably lovely. I was so happy, so proud that you wanted to be mine. My little omega.”

Dean nuzzled his face on Castiel’s shirt. “Yours?”

“Yes, mine. My sweet omega.” Castiel pressed a quick kiss to Dean’s forehead. “I wanted to run down the aisle toward you, and sweep you off your feet. Carry you away somewhere safe.”

“That would have been nice. I wouldn’t have minded.”

“But you were so brave, and came to me instead. And you promised to love and obey me, didn’t you?”

“Yes. You’re my alpha.” Dean felt a wave of contentment wash over him.

“That’s right, I’m your alpha now. And I promise to love and protect you. Dean, you don’t have to worry about everything now. You’ll be warm and safe and cherished. I’ll take such good care of you, little one.”

Dean made a soft noise. He didn’t think he could speak.

“You’ve been starved of touch and kind words and affection, but from now on I’ll make sure you have plenty of all of those.”

Dean buried his face further into Castiel’s chest.

“Don’t hide from me, sweetheart. Can I see your pretty face, and give you some kisses? Just little soft kisses. Would that be all right?”

Dean lifted his face to Castiel’s, but he couldn’t look at him.

“Dean? Is it all right for me to kiss you? You have to tell me.”

“Yes,” Dean whispered, and was able to meet Castiel’s eyes for a fleeting moment.

“Good. So good, little omega.” Castiel began giving Dean gentle kisses, his mouth slightly open as he pressed his lips to Dean’s face. He kissed Dean’s forehead, his cheeks, his nose, his jaw; and after Dean’s eyes fluttered shut, Castiel gave him the softest possible kiss on each eyelid.

“Mmmm.”

“That’s right. I’m going to kiss your lips now.” Castiel moved in slowly, in case Dean wanted to pull away. His lips were dry and soft, and he didn’t try to part Dean’s lips, or put his tongue in Dean’s mouth. There were only soft little kisses, as had been promised. Dean relaxed, and grew brave enough to kiss Castiel back.

Castiel made a sound of approval, and his scent deepened. It was intoxicating, and Dean pressed his face to Castiel’s throat, unable to get enough. “God, you smell incredible.”

“So do you. I didn’t anticipate how...intense this would be.” Castiel captured his lips again, and Dean felt as if he were drowning. There were equal parts pleasure and longing and apprehension, and he didn’t know which emotion would take hold. Castiel took Dean’s lower lip gently between his own, and Dean inhaled sharply. Before he could stop himself, he pushed his hips against Castiel’s leg.

Castiel gave him one more kiss, then pulled away. “I’m sorry, Dean. I didn’t expect things to go quite that far. I know we were only kissing, but…”

“Yeah, I know. That was really, uh, hot.” Dean hesitated. “I kind of felt...conflicted, maybe?”

“Yes. I’m going to go take a quick shower, Dean, and take care of things, so I can think a little more clearly. I won’t be long.” Castiel gave him a mischievous smile. “You may touch yourself while I’m gone, if you like.”

Dean tried, but it didn’t feel as good as he’d hoped. He turned over onto his stomach and rocked his hips into the mattress a few times, but that didn’t help either. Frustrated, he propped his chin on his hands and waited for Castiel to return. After a few moments, he heard muffled sounds from the bathroom, and Castiel’s scent intensified. Clearly his alpha was having a better time than he was.

Castiel’s already familiar scent sharpened, until Dean could recognize the smell of caramelizing sugar at peak perfection, just seconds before it burns. Inside the shower, Castiel shouted Dean’s name.

After a few more moments, the running water was turned off, and Castiel returned to the room, clad only in pajama pants. His hair was damp and wild, and he wore a satisfied look on his face. When he saw Dean, his expression softened. “No good, little omega? Perhaps you’d like to take a shower as well. When you’re done, we can talk.”

Dean rolled out of the warm bed, grumbling to himself, and closed the bathroom door behind him. He selected a large towel--the softest, fluffiest one he’d ever touched--and pulled off his pajamas, letting them fall to the floor. When he slid the shower door back, he went weak in the knees. The interior of the shower smelled intensely of Castiel’s orgasm, and Dean stepped in and shut the door quickly, lest the scent dissipate.

He turned on the water, as hot as he could stand, and closed his eyes as he reached for his cock. Castiel’s scent surrounded him, and it was almost like he was right there. Dean tried to stay quiet, but he was soon making the most desperate noises. He didn’t have to be silent anymore, he remembered hazily. He had his own house and his own alpha now, and he could show as much enthusiasm as he liked. Castiel had said so.

Dean imagined Castiel standing behind him in the shower, wrapping his arms around Dean’s body and touching him. He came more quickly than he ever had, but he was too far gone to call Castiel’s name. Dean leaned against the wall of the shower, panting, and wondered what his scent was like now. Would it be rude to ask?

He cleaned himself hurriedly; unsure how much longer his legs would support him. He stepped out of the shower and reached for the towel, swiping it over his body, and decided to sit down on the toilet while he dried his hair. Dean took a deep breath and stood, sliding his pajama pants on over his slightly damp legs. He picked up his t-shirt, quickly decided against trying to pull it on, and carried it with him as he shuffled back into the bedroom.

Castiel watched him, amused, as Dean crossed the room and collapsed onto the bed. “Have a good time, sweetheart?”

“You know I did. Your scent...I’ve never come so hard in my life.”

“Oh, I hope to make you come harder than that, at some point. Would you like help putting your shirt on?”

Dean huffed. “I guess so.”

Castiel slid the shirt over his head, and helped corral Dean’s limp arms into the sleeves. “There we are. Lean on me and rest for a few minutes, dear one.”

Castiel made him drink some water, and Dean relaxed. “Would you be interested in some food in a few minutes? Ellen stocked the fridge very well yesterday. I may not be a good cook, but I can make a truly magnificent sandwich.”

“Yeah. Sounds great.”

Castiel smoothed Dean’s damp hair. “You mentioned feeling conflicted, a few minutes ago. Can you tell me about that?”

Dean considered this for a moment. “Part of me was screaming that I needed to present to you, to let you have your way with me. But another part of me was saying I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t really scared or anything, because you’d said no sex yet, and I didn’t think you’d do that. But I guess the omega part of me, deep down, thought it was time.”

“It can be very difficult when your hormones are arguing against you. Especially when you’ve formed an emotional bond with someone. But I have found that if any part of you resists an intimate act, it is wise to listen to that instinct. There is usually a good reason.” Castiel ran the back of his hand down Dean’s cheek, making him shiver slightly. “That’s why I went ahead and took that off the table for a while; so you wouldn’t have to worry.”

“Yeah, I’m definitely not ready for that. But I could do other things.”

They sat in silence for a moment, Dean’s eyes half closed. “How would you feel about me touching you until you come? Is that something you would be comfortable with, or should we postpone that for a little while?”

“Hell yes. I’m definitely up for that.” Dean paused. “But not today, okay?”

“No, not today. Maybe tomorrow, if you still wish to.”

“Am I going to be touching you, too?”

“Oh, no. I prefer for our activities to be centered on your pleasure until we get a little more used to each other.”

“Are you sure? I don’t want to be selfish.”

Castiel smiled at him. “You could never.”

“No, I mean, it’s your honeymoon, and you’re probably expecting sexy times, and I don’t want you to be disappointed.”

“My only wish for the next few days is to spend time with you, Dean. I have no plans other than to do things that please you. Now, can you think of anything that would make you happy?”

Dean ducked his head sheepishly. “Um, you mentioned sandwiches?”

A grin spread over Castiel’s face. “I did mention that. How about you come with me to the kitchen and tell me exactly what you like on sandwiches? That is very important information for a husband to know.”

“If you tell me exactly how you like your sandwiches, too. Sam always said that I made the best sandwiches.”

At the mention of his brother, Dean’s face fell a bit. The knowledge that he was being dishonest to Sam was never far from his mind, but he had managed to push it aside during the past twenty-four hours. Now it came rushing back to him, and he felt cold inside.

Castiel saw, and took Dean’s hand. “I know it must have been hard not to have Sam at the wedding.”

“It was the right thing. I know it was the right thing, but…” Dean’s voice cracked. “He’ll never forgive me.”

Castiel enclosed Dean’s hand in both of his. “I had an idea about that, Dean. Hear me out, and tell me what you think. Over the next few weeks, you could tell me more about me. We could video chat with him and he could meet me that way. Maybe around Thanksgiving, when he has a break from school, we could go visit him, admit that we’re married, and beg his forgiveness for not being able to wait. We could have a simple ceremony on the beach that he could attend, and that way he wouldn’t feel as slighted for not being at the actual wedding.”

Dean frowned. “You’d do that for me?”

“Of course I would. We’re a team now; I’ll do whatever I can to make your life easier. I know this is a big worry for you, and I’d like to help with it if I can.”

Relief flooded over Dean. It sounded so simple. “That...that might actually work. It might not work perfectly, he’d probably still be a little pissed, but I think he could get over it.” Dean leaned forward and threw his arms around Castiel. “Thank you. Just...thank you. You don’t know what it means to me that you’d help me with this.”

Castiel wrapped his arms around Dean as well, and drew him a bit closer. “Dear one, I’d do anything for you, I think.”

“I don’t know what to say,” Dean mumbled.

“You don’t have to say anything. Now, let’s go to the kitchen, and I’ll make our sandwiches.” He kissed the top of Dean’s head.

“I hate mustard on sandwiches. Just so you know.”

“Hmm. I don’t care for it much, but my feelings aren’t quite as strong as that. Now, mayonnaise…” Castiel made a face.

“Mayo’s not so bad, as long as you don’t use too much.”

“Bleh.”

Dean started giggling uncontrollably. “Bleh!” he repeated, mimicking Castiel’s deep voice.

Castiel tried, and failed, to look dignified. “You are obviously too hungry to think clearly, so I’m going to ignore that. In fact, I’m even going to let you choose the movie to watch while we eat.”

“You won’t regret that. I have awesome taste in movies.”

“We’ll see. Now come on.” Castiel clasped Dean’s hand in his, and they started down the hallway.

Chapter Text

“So what are we watching?” Castiel placed the tray of sandwiches and drinks on the coffee table and settled in on the couch.

“The Fellowship of the Ring.”

“Oh. I haven’t seen that one.”

Dean squinted at him in disbelief. “Really? Did you see any of the Lord of the Rings movies?”

“No. But I’ve read all the books. The Hobbit was my favorite, I think.”

“I loved the books, too. I used to check ‘em out from the school library when I was a kid. I’d read The Hobbit aloud to Sam before bedtime.”

“Ah. And are the movies as good?”

“They’re different, but they’re good. If you’ve never seen them, I guess we should stick with the theatrical edition, not the extended edition. That one’s over four hours long.” Dean started the movie, and recited the opening lines along with Galadriel. He looked over to see Castiel smiling at him. “What?”

“It’s just nice to see you enjoying something so much.”

“Well, this particular movie was kind of like a security blanket to me. I watched it dozens of times. I know exactly what happens, so it’s okay if I doze off or don’t pay attention.”

Castiel passed him a sandwich, and took one for himself. “Chips?”

“Well, yeah. You gotta have chips with a sandwich.” Dean took a huge bite. “Mmm. Izzsogood.”

Castiel laughed at him. “What was that? Did you say that I make the best sandwiches in the world?”

“No arguments from me, man.”


The members of the Fellowship had just pledged to travel to Mordor and destroy the ring when Castiel’s phone rang. He frowned and squinted at it, then brightened. “It’s someone from the gatehouse. Anna was supposed to drop something off there for me. Hello? Yes, I am expecting a package, from Anna Novak. Wait...from Gabriel Novak? Yes, that’s my brother. It’s fine.”

Castiel hung up, and Dean, who had paused the movie, looked at him questioningly. “Uh, I texted Anna this morning to ask if she had any spare night lights. She has some in her house that switch on automatically when it gets dark, or if the electricity goes off. I didn’t want to waste any of our honeymoon going to the store, so I thought she could drop off one or two during her lunch break. She assured me she’d take care of it, but it looks like she sent Gabriel instead.” He shrugged. “One of the guards is bringing it right over. I’m sorry to interrupt the movie, Dean.”

“That’s okay. It’s a good point for a break, but...dude. You told your sister I was afraid of the dark?”

“I did not,” Castiel answered sheepishly. “I told her that it was difficult for someone unfamiliar with the house to navigate it in the dark.” His phone rang again. “Now it’s Gabriel.” Castiel sighed and answered. “What is it, Gabe?”

Gabriel spoke loudly, and Dean could hear every word he said. “Hey, little bro! Surprised you answered. How’s wedded bliss?”

“What happened to Anna?”

“Ouch. Good to hear from you, too. Anna forgot that she had a meeting with a client, so she asked that I take care of something for her. Well, more like demanded. She said Dean was afraid of the dark or something and I had to go to the store and buy some of those plug-in night lights. And like the awesome brother I am, I agreed.”

“What did she bribe you with?”

“You wound me, Cas! I need no reward other than helping people.” Gabriel paused. “But she did promise to bring me a piece of tres leche cake back from Cafe LeConte.”

“Well, at any rate, it was very kind of you. I appreciate it. And now I’d like to get back to my honeymoon, if you don’t mind.”

Gabriel made a lascivious noise, and Castiel hung up on him just as the doorbell rang. “That must be our lights. I’ll be right back, Dean.” Castiel returned quickly with a large shopping bag. “He must have bought several. I’ll go ahead and open them. They may need to charge up before nighttime.”

Castiel tore open the first box, and looked at the contents with a blank expression. He opened his mouth, but couldn’t seem to speak. Dean leaned over to see what was wrong, then let out a loud guffaw.

The night light had a white ceramic base with several brightly colored plastic mushrooms rising from it. Castiel cleared his throat. “Um. Well. Let’s see what’s in the rest of the boxes.”

It turned out that Gabriel had purchased five of the lights, with varying colors of mushrooms. Castiel was dumbfounded, and Dean was crying with laughter.

“For heaven’s sake...I’m calling him right away…”

Dean wiped his eyes. “Don’t, man. Don’t give him the satisfaction. And besides, I like ‘em.”

“You do?”

“Course I do. They’re fun. And they won’t be really bright, so they won’t bother you.”

Castiel’s face softened. “They are kind of whimsical. If they suit you, I’m certainly happy with them.”

“Good. Now, back to the movie.” Dean put the lights on the coffee table, and they snuggled together on the couch. Dean dozed every now and then, and awoke to Castiel giving him kisses. “This is a really nice honeymoon,” Dean mumbled.

“I think so, too.” Castiel whispered back. “You slept through the mines of Moria.”

“That’s okay, that part’s kinda scary. Lothlorien is the part I like. It looks so cool.”

“Oh, it is.” Castiel leaned forward a bit. “I love the trees. I’d like to live in a tree like that.”

“Right? I’ve always wanted one of those fancy tree houses like you see on TV. One of those that’s built with the trunk running right through it.”

“Wow, Galadriel is really intense.”

“Yeah, she’s a badass.”

After a while, Dean reached for the remote and paused the movie. “Do you mind if we stop here? I don’t wanna see Boromir die. It’s too sad for today.”

“I understand.” Castiel stretched his legs and yawned.

“What did you think of the rest of it, though?”

“I missed Tom Bombadil, but otherwise I really liked it. I thought it was well cast, and I loved the design. Everything is so intricate and well-thought out. I’d like to watch the rest of them with you sometime.”

Dean beamed. “It’s a date.”

“What do you want for dinner? Ellen prepared some frozen meals for us, so we’d just have to reheat them. I’ll have to check and see what we have. I know there’s chicken enchiladas.”

“That sounds great. Let’s go with that.”

“I’ll go ahead and put it in the oven.” Castiel gave Dean another kiss before he slid off the couch.

Dean followed him into the kitchen and watched him pull the baking dish out of the freezer. Ellen had taped a note to the top indicating the temperature and length of baking time, and a suggestion to serve the enchiladas with sour cream.

“Ellen knows me well,” Castiel admitted. “I would never think of things like garnishes on my own.”

“I could make some Mexican rice to go with it, if you have the ingredients,” Dean offered.

“I have no idea. Ellen does keep the kitchen well-stocked, so we might.”

Dean quickly found a recipe on his phone--he had taken to google like a duck to water--and then started searching through the cabinets. “Let’s see. Rice, tomato sauce, chicken broth, spices...looks like we have everything. It won’t take that long to make, though, so I’ll wait until the enchiladas are almost done.”

Castiel seemed excited. “It’s like having a chef right in my house.”

Dean blushed. “I’m not that good, you know.”

“We’ll see. Hey, do you want to go out in the backyard for a little while? I can set a timer on my phone so that we don’t let dinner burn.”

Dean brightened. “That sounds awesome. If I go too long without being outside, I start to feel weird.”

“Fresh air and sunshine are good for you.”

“Wait, do we have to put on real clothes?”

“Not unless you want to. No one can see us.”

“Then no. I’m comfy just like I am.”

They strolled through the yard and sat next to the pool to soak up the afternoon sun. Dean stared at the crystal clear water until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He rolled up his pant legs and sat on the side of the pool, swishing his feet in the water. “Hey, it’s warmer than I expected.”

“Yes, the pool is heated. Even though we’re getting into fall, you should still be able to get some swimming in.”

“I don’t have any swimming trunks.” Dean looked down at the water.

“You don’t have to. You can swim in your underwear, or even naked if you like.” Castiel gave him a sly look.

“Um, okay.”

“I’m teasing you, Dean, although I certainly wouldn’t mind you swimming in the nude. We’ll go shopping for some swim trunks, or we can order some online.”

“Thanks,” Dean replied softly. All his life, getting things had been so difficult; but for Castiel it was easy. All he needed was a credit card, and he could get anything he wanted shipped right to his door. It was going to be hard to get used to.

Castiel decided to put his feet in the water also, and they enjoyed the sunshine until the timer buzzed. Dean pulled his feet out of the pool and shook the water from his legs. “We forgot towels.”

“There are towels for the pool in that cabinet right inside the door, so we can dry our legs off inside.”


Castiel checked on the progress of the enchiladas--they were supposed to remove the foil covering and bake them for a while longer--and Dean got started on the rice. He heated some oil in a saucepan and stirred in some rice.

Castiel watched curiously. “You don’t boil it first?”

“Not for this recipe.”

“What can I do?”

“Um, you can open the cans. And when the rice gets a little browner, you can measure out the spices.”

Castiel took his job very seriously. He dipped the measuring spoon into the container of cumin, and meticulously evened it off with the edge of a table knife. “Is that okay?”

“Oh, yeah. You don’t have to be quite so precise while cooking, though. Now baking is a different story.” Dean stirred in some tomato sauce and chicken broth and brought the mixture to a boil. “Now we turn it down and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.”

Castiel was delighted. “This is so much fun! I’ve never really watched anyone cook before. Ellen always does the cooking while I’m at work.”

“Your mother didn’t cook?”

“Oh, no. She was far too busy with her charity work and her social life. We had a housekeeper, and she always prepared the meals.” Castiel sat in a kitchen chair and looked at Dean. “I like watching you cook. You’re so confident.”

“Thanks.”

“Confidence can be very...sexy.”

“Oh.” Dean had a sudden vivid thought of Castiel bending him over a kitchen counter, and he blushed.

Castiel watched him with interest. “What are you thinking about?”

Dean turned away and stirred the rice. “Something unsanitary.”

“Enjoyable activities are often unsanitary.” Castiel sighed. “Forgive me. Now I’m sounding like Gabriel.” The oven timer sounded, and he peeked into the oven. “They look done to me. What do you think?”

Dean leaned over and squinted. “Yeah, looks perfect. The rice is done, too.”

Castiel fetched some plates and silverware, and they served themselves right from the cookware. “Would you like to eat here at the kitchen table? I hardly ever use the dining room; it’s so formal.”

“Yeah, sounds good.”

Castiel loaded his fork with a big bite of enchilada and rice. “Oh my God, this is wonderful. The rice has so much flavor!”

“Yeah, a lot of the Mexican rice you get in chain restaurants is kinda bland.” Dean had finished almost half of his rice before he could stop to talk. God, he loved carbs.

“I’m very fortunate to have married such a good cook.”

Dean looked down at his plate. “I’m not that good of a cook.”

“Don’t do that, Dean. It’s clear that you’re very talented in the kitchen.”

Dean shrugged. “I cooked a lot for Sam, so I guess I got quite a bit of practice. He was hungry all the time.”

“I’d want to eat all the time, too, if you were cooking.”

They ate in a companionable silence for a while, both of them getting up for a second helping of the rice, and then cleaned up the kitchen together. Castiel loaded the dishwasher while Dean put up the leftovers and wiped the counters.

Castiel leaned against the counter, rubbing his belly. “Hey, we could start on The Two Towers.”

A smile spread across Dean’s face. “You really did like the movie.”

“Well, it’s a world that’s lived in my head since I was a child, and it’s nice to see how other people pictured it.”

“You don’t have to talk me into it. I love movie marathons.” They retired to the living room, and Dean started the movie. “Unpopular opinion, but the Two Towers is my favorite of the trilogy.”

“Is it because of Rohan?”

“Nope. I like the Ents.”

Castiel chuckled. “Really? The Ents?”

“Heck, yeah. Treebeard is awesome.”

At some point during the movie, Castiel got up and returned with a bowl of microwave popcorn and water. Even with that distraction, Dean could barely hold his eyes open by the end. “Do you need me to carry you to bed?” Castiel teased.

“Tempting, but I think I can make it.”

Dean let Castiel go first in the bathroom this time. While he was waiting, he laid down on the luxuriously carpeted floor and stretched. His back was feeling a bit stiff from all the sitting. Castiel entered the room and stopped short. “Dean? Are you all right?”

“Yep, just stretching. It’s really soft down here.”

Castiel reached out a hand to pull him up. “You know what’s softer? The bed.”

Dean hurried off to brush his teeth. When he returned from the bathroom, he saw that Castiel had plugged in some of the nightlights--one on Dean’s side of the bed, one near the bathroom, and one near the door leading out to the hallway. There was also a folded blanket on the foot of the bed. Castiel was tucked in and waiting.

Dean crossed the room, concentrating hard on not tripping over his own feet, and slid into his own side of the bed. “Thanks,” he said shyly. “For the lights and stuff.”

“They’re okay?”

“They’re perfect.” Oddly enough, Dean found the colorful glowing mushrooms rather soothing.

“Good. Now, I expect you to wake me if you need anything at all.” Castiel regarded him sternly.

“Okay.” Dean nodded.

Castiel opened his arms. “Come here, sweetheart.” Dean didn’t hesitate to scoot across the bed and nestle into his arms. It still felt odd to him, but not as nerve-wracking as it had last night. “Shh.” Castiel kissed Dean’s temple, and cradled the back of his head gently in one hand. “You are safe, and you are cared for, and I am so glad you are here.”

Dean’s head swam, and his eyes felt itchy for a moment. “Shit.”

“That was not the reply I was expecting,” Castiel said drily.

“You know what I mean.”

“Yes, I do. Now close your eyes and relax. I’m right here.”

Dean slept soundly through the night, only waking once to go get a drink of water from the bathroom. The mushrooms provided the perfect amount of light, it turned out. When he got back into bed, Castiel stirred and gave him a questioning look. Dean smiled in reply, and Castiel’s features relaxed. “Little spoon?” he whispered.

“Hell yes.” Dean rolled over and let Castiel curl around him. “You’re so warm. S’nice.”

“You’re nice.” Castiel nosed at the back of Dean’s neck. “You smell nice.”

Dean was too sleepy to answer, and he drifted off.


Dean awoke first the next morning, and watched Castiel sleep for a few minutes. His face was smushed into the pillow, and his hair was messy. It was unbearably cute. Dean inched out of bed, trying not to wake his husband; he had an idea. He sneaked down the hallway toward the kitchen, bare feet chilly on the cold tiles. Pancakes were one of Dean’s specialties, and he wanted to surprise Castiel with some.

He searched the cabinets for maple syrup and came up empty. He peeked into the fridge and brightened; there were fresh berries that he could use to make a sauce. Castiel truly had everything. Dean washed raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, and put them in a saucepan to simmer with lemon juice and sugar.

He mixed up a batch of pancake batter and then put a skillet on the stove to heat while he whipped some heavy cream. Ellen had the kitchen well-stocked with basic ingredients, Dean noted with satisfaction. Normally when he cooked, he had to scrimp and substitute ingredients; he’d never had carte blanche to cook whatever he wished.

The first one didn’t brown as well as he wanted, but the first pancake was always like that. When he’d made pancakes at home, Dean had always hidden the first one on the bottom of his own stack, saving the perfect ones for Sam--and his father, on the rare occasions he joined them for breakfast.

The next three cooked up light, fluffy, and golden brown. Dean plated them with a smile, dousing the stack with warm berry sauce and whipped cream. He poured a glass of orange juice, arranged everything on a tray, and returned to their bedroom.

Castiel stirred as he set the tray on the nightstand. “Mmm. Smells good.” He rubbed his eyes and grinned at Dean. “Pancakes? Oh my God.”

“Yeah. Um, I hope you like them.”

“Who doesn’t like pancakes? They smell amazing.” Castiel propped himself up on a pillow,and Dean placed the tray on his lap, watching with bated breath as Castiel took the first bite. “Ummm. Incredible.”

Dean couldn’t believe it. Cool, collected Castiel Novak was sitting in front of him with messy hair, talking with his mouth full. He loved it.

“Wait,” Castiel said, as soon as he was able to talk clearly. “Where are your pancakes?”

Dean looked blank. He had been so focused on making his husband a perfect stack of pancakes that he hadn’t even thought about himself. “I guess I forgot,” he said sheepishly, and started to get up.

“No, wait. Don’t leave. We’ll share this.” Castiel put the tray on the bed between them, and reached Dean the fork. “Here, have a bite.”

Dean blushed as he loaded a bite onto the fork. He should have gone for a smaller piece, but he was hungry. He ended up quickly shoving a giant bite of pancake into his mouth before it fell onto the bedspread. “Mmm.”

“Exactly. Dean, you are a truly wonderful cook. Did you make this sauce, too?”

Dean handed Castiel the fork again. “Yeah. And the whipped cream.”

“You can make whipped cream? I thought it came in a can.”

“Homemade’s way better. Right?”

Castiel stuck his finger into the whipped cream and licked it. “You’re right. No comparison.”

They traded bites until all three pancakes were gone, and Castiel was talking about licking the rest of the berry sauce from the plate. “Should I go make another stack?”

“Will it take you long?”

“Nah. Five minutes or so.”

“Well, as long as you’re not gone for a long time.” Castiel leaned back on the pillows, smiling.

Dean returned shortly, the tray refreshed, and hurried into bed so that he could put his feet under the covers. “Whooo. That floor is freezing.”

Castiel frowned slightly. “You need some slippers. You can borrow mine until we get some for you.”

They finished the second stack of pancakes in the same manner, and Castiel rose to take the tray back to the kitchen. “No, Dean, let me do it. I’ll just put the plates in the dishwasher and I’ll be right back.”

Dean relented. “You’d better put the sauce in the fridge, too.”

“I will. Lie still, little omega. I’m going to come back and dote on you.”

“I...I don’t even know what that means.”

“It means I’m going to shower you with affection. It will be quite nice for both of us.” Castiel lifted the tray and started toward the kitchen.

Dean was speechless, and his heart began pounding. He fidgeted under the covers, wondering what to expect, until he heard Castiel return. The alpha kicked off his slippers and crawled into the bed, but stopped short of touching Dean.

“Don’t be frightened, little one. This is going to be soft and sweet and easy. All right? Can you let me?”

“Yes,” Dean whispered, and Castiel smiled at him before gathering him close. Being doted upon, it turned out, involved being kissed and caressed gently, and being told how lovely he was. In all his memory, Dean had never received as much care as he did in that short time with Castiel, and he felt like he might die happily right then.

“There now, dear one. You smell so sweet when you’re happy.”

Dean made a soft, keening sound.

“Yes. Does this feel good for you?”

Dean nodded, and hoped that would suffice. He didn’t think he could speak.

“It’s all right. I’m going to hold you for a while, okay?”

Dean melted into Castiel’s embrace, and closed his eyes. They gradually moved closer and closer, until all of Dean was pressed against all of Castiel, and he felt like they were one person. Dean sighed and shifted his hips to get as much contact as possible.

Castiel drew away, and Dean whined softly. “I’m going to go take a shower, beautiful one, like I did yesterday. I won’t be long.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Dean whispered.

“Yes, I do. I want my head to be completely clear during whatever happens next, so that I can take care of you.” Castiel leaned back over to kiss Dean quickly, and left for the bathroom.

Dean lay in bed, covers pulled up to his chin, and tried to think about what he would want, if he were asked. His thoughts raced, presenting him with multiple options, some frightening or confusing, others tender. He took a deep breath and tried to clear his mind entirely. He would do whatever felt right in the moment, he reasoned.

Dean listened to Castiel’s moans and breathed in the scent of his pleasure, and he felt as if he were on fire. He lay very still, waiting for Castiel to come back.
He didn’t dare to touch himself, for fear that he wouldn't be able to stop. His entire body was both apprehensive and eager. Finally, Dean heard the shower shut off, and his heart pounded as he waited for Castiel to appear.

He walked through the door and toward the bed, hair damp and messy, in low-slung pajama pants. His chest was bare. He had lost a bit of the hesitancy he’d had before with Dean.

Castiel knelt by the side of the bed and inhaled Dean’s scent before looking straight into his eyes. “You have two choices, little omega. You can go into the shower and take care of this yourself, or I can take care of it for you.”

Dean was nearly panting. “You. Please.”

“All right, then. Do you want me to use my hands or my mouth?”

“Your mouth,” Dean blurted out, then blushed. He shouldn’t have said that, it was their first time, and he would look desperate…

Castiel smiled at him with genuine pleasure. “I didn’t expect you to say that. But I’m glad you could ask for what you really wanted. And…” his voice dropped even deeper. “I’m very eager to find out what you taste like.”

Dean trembled and pulled at the sheets. He didn’t know what to do next.

“Dean, I’d like for you to get out of bed and sit in this chair. Can you do that?”

“Yes.” Dean scooted out from under the covers and pushed himself to his feet.

“Please take off your pants and underwear. You can leave your shirt on or not, that’s up to you.”

“Okay.” Dean slid off his pajama pants and boxers, and hesitated before he folded them and placed them on the corner of the bed. He left his t-shirt on.

“Good. Very good. Now, I have a throw for you to sit on, so that we won’t ruin the chair.” Castiel spread out a dark blue blanket, and motioned for Dean to sit. The throw was luxuriously, velvety soft, and Dean could feel his slick starting to dampen it already.

Castiel knelt in front of him, and rubbed Dean’s knees. “Remember your colors, sweetheart? Can you tell me?”

“Yes. Green means I’m good, yellow means slow down, red means stop.”

“Very good. I want you to use these anytime you need to. What’s your color right now?”

“Green.” Dean hesitated. “Should I be calling you Sir?”

“No, not right now. This isn’t a scene, it’s just us.” Castiel stroked his hands up Dean’s thighs. “But thank you for asking. Very conscientious. Can you open your legs for me a bit?”

“Um,” Dean answered, eloquently, but he was able to comply. Castiel stroked the insides of his thighs gently, and Dean pushed forward, just a bit.

“Try to keep your hips still, if you can.” Castiel looked up at Dean. “Has anyone’s mouth ever been on your cock before?”

“No.” Dean tried to keep his voice even. “No one else’s hands, either. Just mine.”

“That shouldn’t please me so much, but it does. I love that I’m going to be the first one to touch you here. The first one to make you feel this good.”

Dean whined softly, and Castiel leaned forward, putting his lips over the tip of Dean’s cock. Dean had to use all his willpower to keep from thrusting toward Castiel, who drew back slightly. “You’re so eager. Just wait, little one, it gets better.”

Without warning, he took Dean’s cock into his mouth, and Dean’s brain nearly short-circuited. Castiel was doing something with his tongue that Dean couldn’t quite keep track of, and he couldn’t decide how he felt about it. He gripped the arms of the chair and made embarrassing little whimpering sounds.

Castiel’s mouth felt so warm and so good, but Dean couldn’t manage to feel like he thought he should. It was like there was an earthquake inside his mind, and everything was sliding away, and he couldn’t catch hold of anything solid.

Suddenly Castiel withdrew, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “What’s your color?”

“Still green,” Dean panted. “I just…I don’t know.”

“It’s all right. Sometimes it takes practice to be able to let go.” Castiel took both of his hands in his. “Here. Hold on to me, and squeeze my hands as hard as you need to.” He took in Dean’s cock again, and his blue eyes locked onto Dean’s.

That in itself very nearly did Dean in. He kept looking straight at Castiel, and hung onto him for dear life. He eventually felt a tightness building, and it took everything he had not to pitch forward onto Castiel. “Oh, God, I’m almost there, I can’t…”

Castiel winked at him, and Dean came, right into his mouth. If he’d been in his right mind, he would have been embarrassed. Castiel swallowed everything down before he pulled away, and rubbed his hands over Dean’s thighs gently.

Dean collapsed back into the chair, his body limp. “Ahhggh.”

Castiel laughed. “Hold still a minute, little omega. Let me get you tidied up.” Dean felt wet wipes cleaning him, but he was unable to do anything other than make little noises of appreciation. “I’m picking you up, all right?” Castiel scooped Dean up in his arms and laid him down on the bed before curling around him and covering them both with a blanket.

Dean lay still, getting his bearings, as Castiel smoothed his damp hair. “You did so well, little omega. You were so beautiful. And you taste divine.” He leaned over to Dean’s ear, and whispered into it. “I can’t wait to taste you again.”

When Dean opened his eyes again, Castiel was watching him anxiously. “Are you all right? I was afraid that might have been too much.”

“Nah, m’all right.” Dean grinned at him. “It’s just a lot to get used to.”

“It is. But it will get easier.”

“I didn’t think an alpha would do that. I thought only omegas did. And with you being a dom, too, I didn’t really expect it.”

“What? That I would give you a blow job?”

Dean nodded.

“I can’t speak for other alphas, or other doms, but I feel that it is a very pleasurable and intimate act to perform for one’s partner.”

“Well, I liked it.”

“Good. I look forward to doing it again for you.”

Dean blushed.

They cuddled for a while before they decided to move to the living room for a change of scene. Castiel helped Dean slide back into his pajama pants, and they made their way to the sofa, Dean on slightly wobbly legs. They collapsed onto the soft cushions, and Dean laid his head on Castiel’s lap.

“Hey, Castiel?”

“Yes, sweetheart?”

“Um, how was I? Was I okay? I’ve never done that before, and…” Dean trailed off.

Castiel smiled at him softly. “Dean, you have nothing to worry about, trust me. You were beautiful.”

“Okay.” Dean curled up and enjoyed the feeling of being so close to someone. It was a new and lovely sensation.

Castiel checked his phone, and his face brightened. “Dean, I have to take care of something. It will only take me a few minutes. Stay right here, all right?”

“Okay. Are you leaving?”

“No, I’ll just be outside for a few moments, then I’ll be right back.” Castiel beamed at Dean, and gave him a quick kiss before he walked toward the bedroom. He returned in a couple of minutes, fully dressed and running a hand through his unruly hair. He strode out the front door, dialing his phone as he went.

Dean waited uneasily on the couch. He reached for his phone to entertain himself, and decided to text Charlie. She was probably wondering how things were going.

Hey, Charles. Just wanted to say thank you again for everything. The wedding was awesome.

The reply was almost instant. DEAN! I was wondering how you were. Is everything okay?

Yeah, everything’s great. We’re just hanging out and having fun.

Great, great. I was a little worried about you, but I didn’t want to text, with it being your honeymoon and all.

No, I’m good. Dean smiled at his phone. It kind of made him feel warm inside to know that Charlie had worried about him.

Castiel treating you okay?

Yeah. He’s...Dean hesitated, trying to think of the right word, but one that wasn’t too revealing. He’s really considerate.

Well, that’s good. But you let me know if you need anything at all, okay?

Thanks. Same to you

Charlie sent the “blowing a kiss” emoji, and Dean stuck his phone back into his pocket. What on earth was Castiel doing?

Dean waited five more minutes before he heard the side door open into the kitchen. Castiel rushed into the living room, his face alight. “Oh, good. You’re still right here.” He knelt in front of Dean and looked up at him. “I have a surprise for you. A wedding gift.”

“Dude, you’ve given me enough already…”

Castiel waved a hand. “This is different. Wait, I’ll be right back.” He disappeared in the direction of the bedroom again, and came back with what looked like a silk sleep mask.

Dean huffed. “A blindfold?”

“Yes. Do you trust me?”

Dean relented. “I do.”

Castiel’s smile was dazzling. “Good. May I?” He slid the blindfold over Dean’s eyes, and grasped his hand. “I won’t let you fall.” Dean rose and allowed Castiel to lead him, but he wasn’t familiar enough with the house to know exactly where he was going. He heard a door open. “You’re going to step over a threshold, Dean. Careful.”

Dean stepped through the doorway and felt a cold surface through his socks. Concrete. They were in the garage. Dean grinned. The marriage contract had said that he would have a car; obviously Castiel had a new car delivered as a surprise. It was cute how excited he was. Dean just hoped that it wasn’t fancy enough that Charlie would make fun of him.

“All right, step right over here.” Castiel took Dean’s hand and placed it on a metal object. Dean ran his hand over it and frowned. It wasn’t the silky smoothness of a new car, it was a bit rough and textured.

Dean gasped. “Baby.”

“Yes?”

“Not you, the car. It’s Baby.” Dean ripped off the blindfold and leaned on the Impala, trying to concentrate on breathing evenly and failing. She looked just the same as when he’d last seen her, except cleaner.

“I had her detailed before they delivered her, I hope that was okay…” Castiel trailed off. “Dean? Are you all right?”

Dean sat down on the garage floor, sock feet in front of him, blinking rapidly.

“Oh, God. I’ve made a mistake.” Castiel sounded panicked. “I’ve done the wrong thing, I’m sorry, Dean…”

“Castiel. Hush.” Dean managed, before taking a deep breath. “You haven’t made a mistake, I’m just overwhelmed.”

Castiel sank down on his knees next to Dean. “You’re all right?” He hesitantly put a hand on Dean’s shoulder.

“This is the best thing you could have done for me. I...I thought I’d never see her again.”

“I know you probably thought you’d get a new car, and I’ll still get you anything you want, but I thought you might like to, um, have your car back.”

“I don’t want a new car. All I want is Baby.” Dean still couldn’t look at Castiel, for fear a tear would spill out. “How did you manage to get her?”

“Oh, well. Sometimes being a wealthy attorney with connections is helpful.”

“I’ll say.” Dean laughed softly and rubbed at his eyes. He felt suddenly joyful. “Let’s go for a ride.”

“Where are we going?”

Dean’s heart warmed. “I know a great drive-in. Burgers and milkshakes and stuff. Let’s go there.”

“Sounds good. But you know you’ll have to put actual clothing on.”

Dean swatted at Castiel’s leg. “Jerk.” He stood up and offered Castiel a hand. “C’mon. The quicker we get ready, the quicker we can hit the road.”

Castiel held the door open for him. “Lead the way.”