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Sweet Surrender

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Castiel shifted nervously in the posh leather chair, crossing his ankles for comfort as he waited for the estate lawyer to grace him with his presence. His eyes drifted over volume upon volume of legal texts that sat in perfect, dust-free alignment on the mahogany bookshelves that lined one full wall of the small office. The scent of leather from the covers laid thick in the room as the early spring sunlight streamed through the window warming the books. An underlying scent of woodsmoke and sawdust lingered, the scent of the alpha lawyer that would be meeting him for their appointment soon enough.

Gabriel had only been buried a day. Castiel’s beta brother had been at work when he’d gotten in the middle of an argument between two territorial alphas. He died when he was shoved aside, falling fast and hitting his head on the edge of the bar. It was a freak accident, something that wouldn’t have killed him had it not struck just hard enough in just the wrong spot, but it had and now Castiel was feeling a great loss for the second time in his 38 years.

It had only been four days since he'd received the shocking news, and Castiel was still numb. The service had been small, just some of Gabriel’s employees, a few friends and Castiel, Gabriels’ baby brother and fellow black sheep of the family in attendance. Their parents, of course, would never be caught in the same room as their disowned sons, not when they had plenty of perfect children to dote upon. In lieu of actually showing up to mourn, they'd sent a large flower arrangement and a generic note of condolence. How generous.

Castiel was the youngest of the twelve Novak children, just one member of a large, religious family and the one most easily forgotten. He was the only one of the brood to present as an alpha, and that put him on a pedestal for a very short-lived period of time. Once he figured out he was only interested in male omegas, his parents turned on him. In their strict, outdated religion, male alphas mated female omegas, and Castiel was a massive disappointment when he went and fell for his male classmate not long after presenting.

His alpha father and omega mother met, mated and got pregnant in the span of a year, and after the eldest Novak child, Michael, was born, their mother spent the next twelve or so years perpetually pregnant. After Castiel was born, his mother had reproductive problems that stopped their family from getting any larger, but according to family legend, the Novaks had set out with ambitions of having a nice, even twenty children.

In the end, they were left with only half that.

Gabriel had been born somewhere in the middle, the seventh child to be exact, and he came with a rebellious streak a mile wide. Presenting as a beta was neutral territory in their household, but he had neither the natural dominance of an alpha, nor the submissive obedience of an omega, and as the only beta in the family, his inquisitive nature became his downfall. Where the other children fell in line, attending church, and doing their chores while wearing their chastity rings, Gabriel questioned everything.

“If God created everything, who created God?” He’d asked one day when he was seventeen years old. Castiel had only been twelve at the time and a few years from presenting, but looking back he could remember everything from that family dinner. Anxiety spiked in everyone's scents. Forks clanged as they were dropped in shock. His omega siblings gasped, his father growled, and his mother brushed away tears while she questioned her own parenting skills.

“You have to take it on faith, son,” their father had said firmly before hushing his wife and trying to convince her she hadn’t failed as a parent.

“What about science? Evolution? The big bang? Dinosaurs that roamed the earth millions of years ago while, according to evidence, man didn’t exist until 62 million years after dinosaurs went extinct! How does that fit into our beliefs?” Gabriel ranted, his hands flying about in question.

“I told you letting him use the internet was a mistake,” Michael had quipped while his new alpha bride giggled next to him.

“And why is it so wrong for unmated alphas and omegas to find a warm body to get through their ruts and heats? It’s inhumane to expect them to go through it alone. It’s biology! And if male omegas can get knocked up by male alphas, what’s so wrong with same sex relationships?” Gabriel continued, voice getting louder as each question fell from his lips.

“Enough!” their father had shouted, patience out the window by this point. “You’ve attended church with us every Sunday since the day you were born. The answers you seek are upstairs in your bible. I suggest you go to your room and crack it open.”

Just like that, Gabriel had been dismissed to the room he shared with Castiel and two of their brothers, and told to read scriptures until it was time for lights out. Instead, he pulled a skin mag out from under his mattress and looked at the naked women inside, wishing he had his own room so he could ease the arousal the photos stirred in him.

Castiel can still remember sneaking up to their room after dinner and climbing into Gabriel’s bunk while the rest of their large family bickered about what to do about Gabe.

“Hey, Cassie! Skipping out on game night?” Gabe said in greeting as Castiel shrugged then scooted next to him, peering over his shoulder to see what was looking at. “You’re too young for this, bro, but they’re pissing me off, so have at it.”

Castiel’s eyes widened in shock as the magazine landed in his lap and he got his first eyeful of a naked omega woman, face down and presenting, glistening slick running down her thighs.

“Gabriel!” he’d hissed, “If mom and dad catch you with this, they’ll ground you for life!”

“It’s just the human body, Cassie. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Get a look at her. She’s beautiful.”

Cas scrunched his nose and shrugged. “I suppose she’s aesthetically pleasing.” He looked at the blonde spread out on the page before him, then reluctantly flipped through the next few pages. “Are there any men in here?” he asked, curiously.

“Men?” Gabriel looked at him, an eyebrow arched in question. “You want to see some naked men, Cassie?”

Cas shrugged again. “I just wondered, is all. When you said it was just the human body, I thought there might be both men and women in here.”

Gabriel sighed. “Baby brother, you might actually end up making me look like the good son.” He smiled and threw an arm around Castiel’s shoulder. “Do you want me to get one with men in it?”

Cas squeezed his eyes shut and tried to pull free from Gabriel’s grasp. “It’s a sin,” he mumbled.

“Cassie, if you'd rather look at men than women, it’s ok. You’ll grow up one day and present and then you can make your own choices. Live your life. You can leave this place and never look back. Don’t ever let them tell you who to be or who to love,” Gabriel said, calmly. “Just, wait until you’re eighteen, ok? You wait until you’re old enough to get out of here and take care of yourself, then you can tell them who you are, because I won’t always be here to protect you from them.”

Castiel nodded, curling into his brother’s side and breathing in the faint beta scent he gave off. Betas were fairly neutral when it came to scents, but Gabriel always smelled a bit like gummy candies, and the sweetness always served to calm Cas when he was upset.

It was only a year later that Gabriel had gone forever. He’d left the church, fed up with their policies and unwillingness to accept LGBT members and announced his plans for the business he wanted to open. The fight with his parents had spilled onto the front porch and been loud enough to get neighbors to call the cops. It ended when Gabriel went back into the house and shoved as many of his belongings as could into a single backpack and walked out the door forever, middle finger thrust high in the air. Cas ran after him, begging him not to leave him alone with their intolerant family.

“Cassie, it’s ok,” Gabriel pulled him into a hug in the middle of the street and soothed his tears. “You’re always welcome in my life, ok? Remember that. If you ever need me, I’ll be there. Here, take this and hide it.”

Castiel hugged his brother tight and breathed in his sweet scent. When Gabriel grasped his arms and pulled away, Cas looked at the slip of paper Gabriel had put in his hand before tucking the phone number into his pocket.

“It’s just a cheap burner phone, but I’ll make sure there’s minutes until I get a more permanent number,” Gabe said, before pushing away from Cas. “Go back in there. They’re all standing on the porch waiting for you. I think they’re afraid I’m corrupting you… or that I’ll kidnap you.” He huffed out a laugh.

“I’m already corrupted,” Cas grumbled while looking at the ground.

“You’re not corrupted, Cassie. You are who you were born to be. Remember what I told you. Hold on until you’re eighteen. Then if you’re lucky, you can announce that you like boys and make your own huge scene.”

Castiel’s eyes snapped up to lock on Gabe’s. “I am,” he said clearly. “I am gay. And Omegas smell so good to me. I think I’m going to present as an Alpha.”

“I know, Cassie. How good did it feel to say it out loud to someone?”

Cas shook his head. “It was terrifying. I can’t even imagine telling them.” He glanced over his shoulder at his large family gathered on the porch, watching them disapprovingly. “They’re going to want me to take a female mate.”

“It’ll be ok. Stay strong, Cassie. Keep in touch,” Gabriel said before turning and walking away.

Though they did sneak phone conversations here and there, it would be five years before Castiel saw Gabriel again.

Castiel graduated high school in June and worked through the summer, saving every penny for the night of September 18th, the night he planned to finally tell his family about his sexual identity. He hadn’t started college, claiming he wanted to take a gap year to work and do a little traveling, but in the back of his mind he knew it wouldn’t be worth starting when his parents were sure to cut him off without a dime.

It was after they’d had Castiel’s birthday dinner and he’d blown out the traditional 18 candles that he’d finally just come out and said it. No preamble, just a simple, barely audible, “I’m gay.”

“Castiel,” his father had said over his slice of cake. “You know how the church feels about this… how we feel about this.”

It was just his parents and himself, the last Novak kid in the nest, no siblings there to defend nor turn against him. He wished Gabriel was there more than anything.

“Dad, I can’t help it. God made me this way.”

“No, Castiel, this is a choice you’re making. You don’t have to be this way. You can find a woman to mate and have a family the way God intended!” his mother snapped, tears already streaming down her face.

“And then what? Pretend to be happy? That’s not me! I’m not attracted to women! I. AM. GAY!” Castiel was getting louder now, angry. “How can you suggest I just ‘find a woman?’ Male omegas can give me a family just the same as female can. These rules are outdated.”

“Son, you took that lovely Masters girl to the junior prom. You even told us you gave her a goodnight kiss. Maybe you can keep seeing her,” his father suggested as gently as possible.

Castiel scoffed. “Yeah, and you know what I did all night at the prom? I watched the new student over her shoulder while we danced. HE is the most beautiful omega. HE’S tall for an omega. HE has long eyelashes and perfect lips, and HE is the most attractive person I’ve ever seen! And at the end of the night, when I kissed Meg, I closed my eyes and pictured HIM! I spent half the night holding my breath because Meg smells terrible! It’s like... sulfur or something. I can’t be with someone whose scent turns my stomach. Besides, she’s an Alpha. We went together as friends.”

“And I suppose the boy’s scent was better?”

Castiel nodded and squeezed his eyes shut to keep tears from falling. “Like Heaven on Earth.”

The omega’s scent had been the most mouth-watering he’d ever smelled, and Castiel ached with loss when he remembered the tart sweetness of Granny Smith apples and warm, melted butter. He could only imagine what notes would be added as his scent matured.

His mother was openly weeping and his father’s face was turning beet red with barely contained rage. “My son is NOT a homosexual! I didn’t raise you to be like this!” his father shouted, finally standing from the table and sending his chair flying.

Castiel stood as well, unwilling to let his father run away from the truth. “I was born this way as much as I was born an alpha! Do you think I would choose to be gay? I know how against it you are! I’ve heard the sermons. I’ve been around all those bigots you call friends. I’ve heard them gossiping about other families with gay children, and I’ve gone to the funerals of some of the gay youth who have killed themselves rather than deal with this oppression and guilt! Well, I’m not going to kill myself, but I won’t to be discriminated against either!”

He stomped up the stairs to his empty bedroom and started packing everything he couldn’t live without. With shaking hands, he stuffed a backpack with a few days worth of clothes, all the money he’d saved from his after school job for just this occasion, and the tattered paperback that his omega had given him the day they met.

As soon as he was packed, Castiel stormed out of the house, brightly colored Nokia cell phone gripped tightly in his hand as he dialed Gabriel’s number. The scene was so similar to the night Gabe left, that he was the only one Castiel could even consider calling.

An hour later, he was sitting on a swing at the elementary school down the street from his parents house. He was just wondering if his parents had bothered to look for him at all, or if they simply didn’t care if he left. Maybe they were even glad to be rid of the burden he’d suddenly become. What a disappointment he must be, the only one of their 12 children to present as an Alpha, and he had been born with a crack in his chassis. He was just getting the pity party started, stinking up the air around him with the scent of scorched cinnamon and distressed Alpha, when Gabriel pulled up in his flashy, red corvette.

That night, he was moved into Gabriel’s guest room, the sound of crashing waves lulling him to sleep. A few days later, he started working evenings at Gabriel’s small business on the boardwalk, answering phones, taking the money, and doing administrative work. All of his paychecks went straight into the bank, piling up until Castiel could buy himself a beat up old Lincoln Continental. He started college in the Spring semester, aiming for a simple accounting degree at Stockton State.

He spent four years with his brother, working and learning how to run a business, even though Gabriel told him many times he could earn far better if he joined the service side of things. By the time he graduated, he knew the ins and outs of Gabriel’s business, but it was time to move on, and Cas struck out on his own, moving to New York City where he got a job with a large accounting firm.

He was comfortable with his life as it was. He had spent sixteen years working his way up at his firm, he rented a clean, spacious apartment in the Connecticut suburbs, and replaced his car with something newer and more fuel efficient. Though he’d never mated, choosing to isolate himself after a broken heart instead, he was content with things the way they were.

After taking his new job, Castiel talked to Gabriel on the phone a couple times a week at first, then it fell to once a week, and eventually once a month. Cas liked to think they were just busy adults, but he supposed they just drifted apart as Cas tried to distance himself from Gabe’s slightly shady business. He hadn’t even put that job on his resume when he’d started job hunting after college. Now, Gabriel was gone forever, and Cas was feeling regret at the way he’d let their relationship fall to the wayside. He’d been the only family he’d had.

“Mr. Novak,” a voice broke through Castiel’s thoughts, dragging him back to the awful present. “I’m so sorry you had to wait.”

“That’s ok,” Cas croaked, not realizing until that moment how wrecked he sounded in the wake of his brother’s death. Not that his soured scent wouldn’t have alerted anyone within a block radius of his mourning.

The lawyer sat at his desk, spreading a small stack of papers in front of him, shuffling through them before nodding, stacking them and banging the edges on the desk to straighten the pile neatly. Finally, he raised his head and looked Castiel in the eyes. “First off, I’m very sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you.”

“OK, so, as you know, I requested that you come to my office for the reading of Gabriel Novak’s last will and testament,” he paused and Cas nodded. “Well, it’s actually quite simple. You get everything. I’ve made you a copy, but bottom line? If Gabriel owned it, it’s now yours. The house and all its contents, the cars, the boat, the business, everything.”

“The…business?”

“Yes, Mr. Novak, the business.”

Castiel blinked at the perfectly put together lawyer as he tried to wrap his head around everything he’d just said. He was now the proud owner of a rather sizable ocean front home in a small shore town, a couple of flashy cars, a small speedboat…

…And a brothel on one of the busiest boardwalks in all of New Jersey.

Chapter Text

Two weeks later-March, 2019

The nostalgic scents of salt air and pungent fish at low tide surrounded Castiel as made the drive through the salt marsh between mainland New Jersey and Seven Mile Island where it sat in the Atlantic. Out the open windows of his practical little Toyota, great blue herons and snowy white egrets stood on their long, spindly legs amongst tall sea grasses, feasting on fish and crabs in the shallow pools left behind by the retreating ocean. Seagulls circled above, their distinct calls filling the warm spring air that spilled into the car.

The small barrier island in Cape May County was home to two sleepy little shore towns and the beach-front home that now belonged to Castiel. Stone Harbor sat to the south of the island, and Avalon, where Gabriel’s house happened to be, sat to the North.

This time of year, the place was practically a ghost town with only a few thousand residents inhabiting the island full time. Most of the shops and restaurants were closed until summer, and Castiel coasted into town without laying eyes on another car. Soon, homeowners would be coming down in droves to assess their houses and get them ready for the summer rental market. Houses here were more like businesses than homes, and come June, the streets and beaches would be filled with vacationers. The large beach homes rented out for thousands per week to families who enjoyed the small town beach feel while still being parked conveniently between the family friendly Wildwood Boardwalk and the more adult-oriented Atlantic City. Full-time residents had to put up with tourists for about 3 months out of the year, but it was a small sacrifice for the solace that came with 9 months of peace and quiet, only the crashing of waves or occasional nor’easter to break the silence.

After sixteen years of suburban living and a career in the hustle and bustle of New York City, Castiel couldn’t help but welcome the change, in spite of being wary about taking over Gabe’s business. He’d left a job he was comfortable at after finally deciding not to sell the brothel, but that was just another sacrifice, he supposed. What was 4 weeks of vacation time and medical insurance compared to making your own hours and living on the ocean?

There were far too many upsides to upending his life to just walk away from it all. Gabriel had been uncharacteristically brilliant with his money, having only taken a 15 year mortgage when he purchased his home, and Castiel’s accountant brain loved the idea of owning a flourishing business and a mortgage-free house. Even after property taxes, what the brothel brought in would keep him more than comfortable for the rest of his life. He could only endeavor to run it with as much integrity as Gabriel had. Though he was an alpha, not a controlled beta like his brother had been, he was the most in control alpha he knew of, having been celibate for two decades. He could do this. His brothel would never be like one of those dusty, alpha-owned, trailer park brothels Nevada was known for. No, this was a classy establishment in one of the richest areas in the state, and it would stay that way.

Castiel pulled into the driveway of an impressive, gray, two-story home. He marveled at the immaculate upkeep, surprised at the obvious pride Gabriel had taken in the home. The paint looked fresh, the trim and porch railings a crisp, clean white. The lawn and little plant bed lining the front of the home were meticulously neat and tidy, likely due to hired landscapers.

Cas sighed as he stepped out of the car and looked up at the wrap-around, second-story balcony and the comfortable furniture that filled the space. He knew the bedroom he’d spent four years of his life in sat behind one of the sets of sliding doors up there, and he wished he could settle in on the balcony with a book before the sun dropped, and with it the temperature. Alas, he was just here to move a few things in and air out the home before he had to head out to the brothel to meet the staff.

He scaled the seven steps up to the front porch. The altitude of the home was the result of building high enough off the ground to avoid inevitable storm flooding that came with being on a narrow strip of land situated a mile or so out in the Atlantic. Juggling a couple small boxes of his belongings, he slid his key into the lock, swung the door open, and got his first look at the home in sixteen years.

Gabriel had updated the home, whites and grays making up much of the color palette. The home was filled with neutral furniture and warm wood floors, pops of blue here and there in throw pillows and other accessories. He wandered through the kitchen to the back of the home, peeking out to see that Gabriel had added an in-ground pool to the backyard at some point. It was small and covered as it awaited summer, but Castiel looked forward to spending time out there once the weather broke. A small shed sat near the pool, surely holding pool supplies and beach chairs and umbrellas.

He carried his boxes upstairs, pushing the door to his old room open and seeing that unlike the rest of the home, his room had been left untouched. The same art adorned the walls and the same quilt sat on the neatly made bed. His books lined the bookcase and he still has some clothes hanging in the closet. So many of his things had been left behind when he hastily took his job in New York City, and seeing them brought him back to another time.

Castiel picked up the tattered copy of “Slaughterhouse Five” that he’d never had the heart to get rid of. He ran his fingers over the well-loved cover, and slipped out the sliding door onto the balcony that overlooked the ocean. He opened the book to the first page and thought back on his short, life-altering acquaintance with an omega boy he’d once thought he’d share a large home like this with, filling it’s six bedrooms with pups. A boy who’d changed everything and left him empty and unable to love when he left Cas alone.

Dean Winchester.

March, 1997

It was nearing the end of his junior year when he’d first laid eyes on the transfer student, and it took only a few days of scenting tart apples in the hallways for his crush to completely overwhelm him.

Dean strutted the halls in band tees, scuffed boots and a worn leather jacket, such a stark contrast to his prim classmates. He was your typical bad boy with a heart of gold, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who could often be seen standing up to alpha classmates who picked on his fellow omegas. He was rough around the edges, tall for an omega, with the attitude worthy of an alpha, yet strip away the leather, ripped jeans and angsty swagger and you’d be left with a startlingly beautiful twink. Castiel couldn’t help but wonder if Dean dressed the way he did to detract from his long lashes, freckles, big green eyes and distinct omega scent. Dean was… pretty.

It hadn’t been hyperbole in the least when Castiel had told his father that Dean was the most beautiful person he’d ever seen, but it was more than that. Dean has an ease about him, a charisma that seemed to draw everyone in. He was cocky and confident and the least submissive omega Castiel had ever laid eyes on, which made him a challenge. Dean was fast to make friends with omegas, alphas and betas alike, and the girls all circled him in hopes of catching his attention. By the end of his first week, Dean had become one of the most popular kids in school.

Castiel, on the other hand, had been shy and awkward throughout his high school years. His family’s tradition of homeschooling their children through the eighth grade left him woefully unsocialized outside of church, and it had taken almost a full year before he could even have brief conversations with classmates. It gave him anxiety just thinking about asking to borrow a pen, but he slowly grew out of that, managing to make a few friends along the way. Yet, watching Dean interact so effortlessly left Castiel feeling like that socially awkward new kid all over again.

But, God, how he wanted to talk to him.

One afternoon, after the final bell had rung and kids were on their way home or to their extracurricular activities, he saw Dean sitting alone on the bleachers by the football field. By some stroke of luck, the field was empty, and Cas saw this as his chance. He stood back and watched Dean where he sat reading, the book in his hands interesting enough to leave Dean rapt, hanging on every word. It was such a juxtaposition to see the “bad boy” sitting with his nose stuck in a book, and it only served to pull Castiel further into Dean’s orbit.

“How is that?” Castiel asked as he slid into the bleachers a few feet away from the green-eyed boy he’d developed a massive crush on over the last week.

Dean lowered the book, smiling wide, his scent sweetening as their eyes met. He dog-eared the page and set the book in his lap before answering. “It’s one of my favorites. I’ve probably read it a dozen times. You want to borrow it? I can read something else.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t have much time for recreational reading” Castiel said with a shrug. “It’s all school work and the bible for me, it seems.”

“You sound bitter about that. Smell a bit bitter too, Alpha.” Dean said with a smirk that sent dangerous shivers through Castiel’s body, then he continued after Castiel just shrugged in answer. “I’ve noticed that there are a lot of people like that around here.”

“I know,” Castiel said with a chuckle. “You’d think being in a blue state with New York and Philadelphia right around the corner, we’d be more liberal. But we seemed to have taken over this neighborhood. I suppose it’s not what you expected?” Castiel asked.

“I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I never do. My family moves around a lot,” Dean admitted with a shrug.

Castiel snorted a laugh. “And mine seems archaically stuck in the same place.”

“I’m Dean,” he finally offered.

“I’m…”

“Castiel. I know. I asked someone about you on my first day.”

Castiel swallowed thickly. Dean had asked about him? Why? What did it mean?

“So, Cas, you don’t mind if I call you Cas, do you?” Castiel shook his head and Dean continued. “So, Cas, what’s there to do around here aside from attend church and not get laid? Or are you one of those rebels that fucks everything in a skirt then goes to confession on Sundays?”

“Oh, I… um.. I mean…”

Dean laughed. “Don’t hurt yourself Cas.”

“I don’t… Um, I’ve never… I don’t ‘fuck’ anyone.” Castiel answered honestly, using air quotes and making Dean laugh a little.

“Is it the religion thing? You know that’s all bullshit, right? You’re not going to go to hell for getting your rocks off.” Dean said, scoffing and shaking his head. “Religion. What a joke. My mom used to tell me angels were watching over me. Then she died, and you know who watches over me now?”

“Who?” Cas asked with a curious tilt of his head.

“No one.”

“Dean, I’m so sorry.”

“It was a long time ago and I’ve gotten used to my dad’s bullshit.” Dean took a deep breath through his nose and leaned back, propping his elbows on the riser behind him and stretching his long, bowed legs out in front of him. “You smell good, Alpha.”

Cas swallowed thickly and scented the air subtly. “So do you, Omega.”

Castiel let his eyes drift over Dean’s long, lean body, wondering what it would be like to just swing a leg over Dean’s lap and straddle him, maybe grind down a little while he was there. He caught himself lingering too long and forced his eyes to meet Dean’s again.

“OK, now I know why you’re not sleeping around with chicks,” Dean teased.

“I’m that obvious?”

Dean just shrugged. “I don’t judge, and I’m an equal opportunity lover, so I don’t mind a pretty, blue-eyed, alpha boy ogling me.”

 

“You think I’m pretty?” Cas asked, his cheeks heating and blushing bright pink.

“I said what I said,” Dean said with a laugh.

It was so nonchalant the way Dean accepted Castiel’s sexuality and revealed his own. It probably had something to do with his family’s lack of roots. Why keep secrets from classmates when he’d be gone soon enough? Castiel doubted he’d even be back for their senior year.

“So what kind of name is Castiel, anyway?”

“Religious,” he finally answered. “I was named after an angel.”

Dean smiled at him warmly then shook his head as if in disbelief. “Maybe mom was right. You gonna watch over me, Angel?”

Cas drew his lower lip between his teeth and bit down. Was Dean flirting with him? What should he do? He’d never met another boy who liked boys, and had no experience with flirting. He could smell his own scent becoming laced with anxiety, but the tart apples and warm butter next to him were laced with omega arousal, and he knew Dean was interested.

“I… um… do you need watching over, Dean?”

Dean’s eyes were searching his, for what, Cas couldn’t tell, but in the next second, Dean was sliding closer. His fingers reached up and traced Cas’ square jaw, and Cas shut his eyes involuntarily, losing himself in Dean’s touch as he nudged Cas’ head to the side. Seconds later Dean was nosing at his neck, scenting him deeply and whining low in his chest with want.

When Cas opened his eyes, Dean was moving to drop to his knees on the bleacher a step lower than the one Cas sat on. His head tipped to the side, and everything about his actions screamed submission. Cas leaned in, accepting the invitation and scenting Dean, breathing in the rich sweetness of apples and butter.

“Omega,” Cas growled against Dean’s skin.

Castiel could only imagine how enticing Dean’s scent would become as he matured. Alphas and omegas didn’t have fully matured scent glands or scenting abilities until sometime in their early twenties. Most people found their mates between their twenty-first and twenty-fifth birthdays, but it wasn’t unheard of to form scent bonds in their teens. Sometimes it worked out that high school sweethearts ended up mated for life, and that thought was at the forefront of Castiel’s mind as he scented Dean deeply, his tongue peeking out to drag over Dean’s scent gland as the omega trembled in his arms. He hadn’t even remembered dragging Dean flush against himself… Stupid alpha instincts.

“Can I kiss you, Alpha?” Dean asked, breaking Cas out of his daze.

“It is a sin,” Cas whispered against Dean’s ear.

“Fuck, that just makes me want to kiss you more, you know that? I already thought you were stupid hot and smelled perfect, but now you’re forbidden fruit and I want to taste you so bad.”

Cas heard himself make a sound he’d never heard come from himself before and surged forward so Dean could capture his lips in the perfect first kiss. His brain went fuzzy enough to stop caring about their surroundings or who could see them. Nothing else mattered, no one else existed but Dean and the slow slide of his lips and tongue. Castiel’s sweet honeyed cinnamon scent mingled with Dean’s tart apples and salty butter, and their scents merged in the air around them smelling like oven-warm cinnamon apples.

Castiel could almost smell it as he reminisced. They hadn’t matured fully yet, having only presented the summer before they met. Their scents still had a few years to develop and richen with other scent notes, but it had been enough to scent bond, and even twenty years later, Castiel’s heart ached when he remembered those whirlwind months with his first, and only love.

He went back inside and shelved the book. Dean was probably settled into a life somewhere with his mate, happy and surrounded by pups. Not for the first time, Castiel prayed that Dean was happy in whatever life he ended up with, even if it hadn't been with him. Sighing, he left his room behind and headed out to meet his new employees.

Chapter Text

March 2019

For the most part, the Wildwood Boardwalk was a family friendly place. The beaches were crowded all summer, lifeguards stationed periodically up and down the length of sand ready to save those caught in the ocean’s undertow or to snag the stray beach umbrella uprooted by the sea breeze. The boardwalk’s various piers were jam packed with amusement rides and games, and shops up and down the boardwalk catered to the tourist crowd selling everything from salt water taffy and fudge to overpriced beach chairs and sunscreen. At the height of summer, when the boardwalk was bustling with life and laughter, you could find cheap tee shirts to announce to the world what you did on your summer vacation or make the arguably poor decision of taking home a pet hermit crab. There was even a pair of waterparks to seek over-chlorinated relief on the steamiest of summer days if you were brave enough to risk swimming in the quite possibly urine-infested waters that had a distinct iridescent sheen of sunscreen floating on the top. Once Memorial Day weekend arrived, the boardwalk would be inundated with flashing lights, overexcited pups protecting sweet treats from swooping seagulls, and the distinct robotic voice that demanded, ’Watch the tram car please!’ All said, summer in Wildwood was an overwhelming assault on the senses made even worse by the sweat and stink of the overstimulated alphas and omegas crowding the boards.

At the northern end of the boardwalk, a fair distance from the massive Ferris Wheel and rich scent of freshly deep-fried funnel cakes, a more adult theme had taken shape over the years. There were a few upscale restaurants that catered to couples, and there was a stretch of bars that was perfect if you were looking to do a pub crawl with your buddies. A large, clean, well-lit tattoo shop was constantly thrumming with business and a palm reader had set up shop, telling fortunes for twenty bucks a pop. Lastly, tucked at the very end of this little strip of adult nightlife was a single upscale brothel with a black sash of mourning draped across the red vinyl front door.

Castiel stared at the large building in awe. Gabriel had expanded over the years, moving into a building that was easily three times the size of the original brothel Castiel had worked in so many years before. In spite of Gabriel’s brash personality, the brothel was classy and discreet on the outside, only the ‘Sweet Surrender Lounge & Pleasure House’ signage giving away the promise of hedonism lying behind its doors.

“Come on in, Alpha. I’ll get you taken care of.” An older woman with medium brown hair and an innate air of no-nonsense toughness had just walked past Castiel and was about to enter the brothel, purse dangling from her elbow and a smirk on her face.

Castiel scented the air subtly, finding the woman was a beta, and her calming neutral scent was enough to make him feel instantly comfortable in her presence. He lingered there in that scent for a moment, knowing his nose would be assaulted with the pungent blend of alphas, omegas and sex soon enough.

“I’m not here for that,” he finally answered, holding his hand out in offering. The woman took it, shaking it firmly, a questioning eyebrow arched above narrowed eyes. “I’m Castiel, Gabriel’s brother.”

“Ah, the new boss. No wonder I didn’t realize… You sure you and Gabe were related? I’m sorry, but I don’t see a lick of resemblance,” she said, releasing his hand.

“I used to get that a lot,” Castiel said with a chuckle. He got his height, blue eyes and dark hair from his mother’s side, whereas Gabriel favored their father.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” She offered before she pulled the front door open, leading Castiel inside while rambling off far too much information far too fast. “I’m Ellen. My official title is madame, but basically I keep the books, take the payments and manage the entertainment. I pretty much run the place, but I see myself more as brothel mom than manager. A lot of these kids don’t have much in the way of family, so I try to step into that role when it’s needed. My daughter Jo runs the bar, Benny handles security. He’s the best kind of alpha, big and scary with a warm gooey center. He pines after one of our omegas, but he’s harmless. Gabe only employs the best… employed. Sorry, I’m still getting used to talking about him in the past tense.”

Castiel followed the chattering beta through a lobby that smelled only faintly like an exotic mixture of unfamiliar alphas and omegas, then through a side door. “Gabriel’s office?” he asked, taking in the spacious room. It was tastefully decorated, a leather couch lining one wall and a big mahogany desk in the center of the room. It was tidy, put together, and completely impersonal.

“Your office, now,” Ellen answered. “We cleaned out Gabe’s personal effects and put them in storage up in the attic. It’s yours to do with what you wish, if you even choose to come in. Gabe only came in once a week or so to look over books and hand out paychecks, but honestly, I’d appreciate a more hands-on approach if you can stomach the smells. We do have air neutralizers installed in the lounge and hallways, but they really only take it all down a few notches since the staff doesn't wear blockers. I’d understand if it’s too overwhelming for you.”

Castiel nodded. “I’ll be in often, at least until I get to know everyone, and I see that everything is running well with Gabriel gone. I had considered selling, but something told me this was my next step in life. It’s hard to ignore your gut,” he said with a shrug, and followed Ellen as she led him back out into the lobby.

It was the middle of the afternoon on a Monday, and the lobby was empty, giving Castiel a good look at his surroundings without the distraction of other people and the smells they brought. A large bar sat against the back wall, elegant barstools in deep red vinyl and dark wood were arranged in front of the bar in a neat line. The mirrored wall behind the bar held shelf upon shelf of liquors, wine lists sat on the bar top, and a row of taps boasted an extensive beer selection. There were no tacky neon signs advertising beer brands, no TVs playing sports, and Castiel couldn’t help but think that for a bar in a brothel, it was actually pretty classy.

Two small, round, black stages sat on opposite sides of the room, gleaming silver poles in the center of each, stretching from floor to ceiling. One side for alphas and one side for omegas. That made sense. High top tables and barstools stood circling the stages, mixed drink menus and sex menus standing in the centers of the tables for clients to casually peruse.

“We’re not just a brothel,” Ellen stated, drawing Castiel’s attention back to her. “We’re here to provide a service to unmated omegas and alphas. Sometimes we even get the rare beta looking for a cheap thrill, but this bar is something special. We do something here that no other brothel on the shore does.”

“What’s that?” Castiel asked, intrigued, following her over to the bar and accepting a stool when she vaguely gestured to it.

Ellen fixed a drink and set it in front of Castiel, waiting for him to take a sip before she continued. “Options. We’re one part brothel, one part singles bar. We allow for natural attractions. Say an alpha comes in one night and smells the perfect omega, but they happen to be another client and not one of our employees? Well, if both parties are attracted and want to be together, we offer a few rooms for either an hourly or daily fee. They’re free to stay here in a safe environment as long as they need. We still make money, they still get laid. Win-win.”

“That’s smart,” Castiel said approvingly. “Of course, the service staff loses money, but you can’t force someone to accept a pairing with someone of inadequate scent compatibility, and if two people really wanted to be together, they would just leave and find someplace else to do their coupling.”

“Gabe saw it the same way. And fifty percent of the room fees get split up and go into the workers’ paychecks weekly. Fifty to the house, of course. Everyone gets a cut, and they really don’t lose too many clients. Gabe prided himself in employing the best of the best. We have some of the most beautiful, sweetest smelling alphas and omegas on the East Coast. It’s why he’s always been able to charge a premium. This ain’t some backwoods brothel. Everyone makes a good living here. And the most important thing? Everyone is treated with respect. Anyone comes in here and hurts an omega, they’re blacklisted for life. That’s not to say we don’t cater to kinks, but they are mutually agreed upon and papers are signed before anyone is left alone in a room with one of our workers. We have a very good reputation. Our workers are here because they want to be. Some enjoy sex so they make a living at it, some because they’re good at it, others just like the money. One or two ended up here because they were running from something, but that’s to be expected, I suppose. But they’re all clean and tested weekly. They don’t take drugs and they don’t take shit from the clients. Our omegas are on birth control and all alphas use condoms, our and clients alike. Everyone has medical insurance and paid vacation time. It’s a good group. We’re family at Sweet Surrender.”

Castiel finished his drink while Ellen was talking, then set his glass down on the bar top. “I’d like to see the rooms and meet any staff that’s here, if possible.”

“Of course. We're open 24 hours a day, though it may not seem like it right now. There aren’t any clients in the building and the day staff is pretty bare bones during the week, but I’ll wrangle them for you right quick then I’ll give you a tour.” Ellen walked over to a pair of red buttons on the wall and pushed them and within a minute, a few scantily clad Omegas and Alphas were lined up on opposite sides of the room filling and overwhelming the space with their combined scents.

Castiel swallowed thickly as he took in an omega woman who was staring at him with big, blue eyes. The omegas that flanked her kept their eyes downcast in submission, but this one wouldn’t take her eyes off him.

“See something you like, boss?” Ellen whispered over the bar.

“Oh, U-um, no. I just….She’s not as submissive the others. I’m gay anyway,” he answered nervously. He’d liked Dean because he was feisty and fiery, never taking any of Castiel’s bullshit, so to see this woman standing up straight, shoulders back and making full eye contact with him was refreshing and filled Castiel with a sense of nostalgia.

“That’s Hannah. She’s usually pretty meek. She must really like what she sees, or smells. to be so forward. Let’s break her heart,” Ellen said with a conspiratorial wink before addressing the room. “Good afternoon. This is Castiel Novak, the new owner of this fine establishment. You are to treat him with the respect you showed his brother and help him with whatever he needs.”

Hannah’s hopeful smile faded and she crossed her arms over her almost bare chest.

“Hello everyone,” Castiel said, mustering as much confidence as he could. “I’m not here to change the way things are done around here. Gabriel ran a good business, and though I’m not him by any means, I am hoping we can continue running this place up to his standards. My door is always open if you need someone to talk to. I look forward to getting to know all of you.”

Hannah stepped forward and tilted her head to the side, offering herself up to be scented by the newcomer, and Cas leaned in to scent her subtly. She smelled like warm cotton and lemons, almost neutral for an omega.

“I’m Hannah,” she said after Castiel took a step back. “I’m a straight omega. Alphas like me because I seem like the innocent girl next door,” she shrugged and stepped back in line.

“Nice to meet you,” Castiel replied, then took his turn scenting the other two omegas that were present as they stepped forward and offered submission and introductions. Two alphas came forward next, offering hand shakes instead of necks, and then Castiel was swept off by Ellen to tour the rooms before the shift change came with nightfall.

“There’s ten rooms on the omega side and six on the alpha side,” Ellen said, leading him through a door into the alpha hallway. “We don’t need as many alphas on staff because most of the time, omegas only come in for help getting through their heats. We get more alphas in here for recreational sex than omegas. The other four rooms in the alpha hallway are our rental rooms. There’s a doorway separating them from our alphas’ rooms. So, separate, but together.” She led Cas through the door and showed off four tastefully decorated spaces that reminded him of upscale hotel rooms.

The mix of scents in the alpha corridor were overwhelming to Castiel, making his hackles rise. There was an overtone of air-neutralizing blockers that were emitted into the space from dispensers high up near the ceilings, but it was hard to cover up the scents of that many alphas in such a small space. Ellen seemed to note Castiel’s discomfort and led him through the rooms as quickly as she could. He poked his head in quickly, noting that each alpha decorated their own space to their taste, then closed each door tightly.

“The alpha supply closet. As you can see, we stock a large assortment of condoms and toys. Plenty of extra sheets and towels, emergency contraception in case a condom breaks. Neutralizer replacement cartridges. Pretty much everything we need. The omega side closet is identical.” Ellen stated as she closed the door. “The other side could be easier or more difficult to tour, depending on what kind of alpha you are.”

Castiel snorted a laugh, “The celibate kind. I was hurt when I was younger. Broken scent bond. I’ve never found another omega’s scent enticing enough to even attempt a date.” He shrugged it off nonchalantly, though he felt a pang of sadness in his chest.

“That’s rough,” Ellen said, laying a sympathetic hand on Castiel’s shoulder. “Kills some people. When my mate died, I almost died with him. Jo kept me here.”

“I almost did as well,” Castiel answered sadly. “I honestly thought I was going to die. I think had I been fully matured, I would have. It’s a bit easier to pull through when you’re seventeen and hiding everything from your parents. I just… forced myself to live.”

“I’m sorry, Castiel,” Ellen said softly before leading Cas to the other hallway, opening doors to show off the omegas’ rooms along the way. The scents were softer here, sweeter, than the alpha side. A lovely mix of flowers, fruits and spices. He caught the occasional whiff of coffee and chocolate and recognized Hannah’s cotton and lemons. As with the alpha side, each room had its own distinct personality.

Ellen’s hand rested on the knob to the final door. “This room belongs to our most popular omega male. He has regulars that come in even when they aren’t in rut. He’ll be in tonight-he always works nights- and then you’ll see the way alphas gravitate to him. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

She swung the door open and Castiel was overpowered with the strong scent of tart apples, butter, toasted pastry and brown sugar.

“Apples,” Cas whispered, his head tipping back to scent the air. Before he could stop himself, his feet carried him through the door and into the room. He stopped by the bed and pulled the pillow up to his nose, breathing in deeply. “Butter… fuck.”

“Are you ok, Castiel?” Ellen asked cautiously.

Cas shook his head and climbed into the bed, pulling the satiny green comforter around himself and breathing in the aroma of the omega whose scent reminded him so much of the love he’d lost.

“Fuck,” he growled, feeling himself growing hard in his pants. He hadn’t had a reaction like this in so long, he’d forgotten what it felt like to become aroused. He laid back on the bed, letting himself get utterly lost in the scent of apples, knowing he was embarrassing himself, but unable to find it in himself to give a shit. He wanted to bathe in this scent, to live with it wrapped around him forever.

“Castiel,” Ellen called, but her voice sounded thing and so far away. “ALPHA!”

That got his attention. Castiel sat up, the comforter slipping from his shoulders. His hair was sticking up all over, he was breathing heavily and his cock was full and hard where it sat trapped against the zipper of his pants. The air around him was thick with his arousal and spicy scent.

“You’re going into rut, Alpha,” Ellen stated calmly.

“Impossible,” Cas said, shaking his head. “I haven’t gone into a spontaneous rut since I was in high school,” but even as he said it, he knew Ellen was right. He was aching for the omega who belonged to this scent, and he had to get out of here before he lost control and ravaged his new employee the second he walked through the door for work.

“You’re right,” he finally conceded. “I have to go. Give my apologies to the night shift and let them know I’ll be back in a few days to meet with them.”

Castiel stood and smoothed his clothes and hair the best he could then practically ran out of the building and back to his car, his cock hard and heavy between his thighs.

How would he ever keep it professional with the scent of apples assaulting him day after day?

 

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Dean got to work that night in a fairly good mood. There had been some free time before work, so he sketched out an idea for a drawing, breaking out his colored pencils and getting some color work done before he’d had to pack it up for the day. Even better, he’d just spent the weekend with his brother, sister-in-law and niece, and nothing made him happier than seeing his family, even if Sam tried with all his might to get Dean to leave the brothel and ‘get a real job.’ It was worth putting up with Sam’s judgement to spend a couple days with him, Eileen and little Chloe.

Sam would never understand. Dean liked his job, craved it even. After their dad dragged him kicking and screaming out of New Jersey two decades earlier, he’d almost died from his broken scent bond with Cas. Eventually, he had heard 'suck it up, Dean!' enough times to force himself out of bed and back into the world, but Cas was always on his mind, even twenty years later. He’d never gotten the chance to say goodbye, and he was too much of a coward to return and offer an apology after he came of age. He was afraid of being rejected, or worse. If he’d almost died when their bond was broken, how had Castiel faired? What if it had actually killed him? Dean wasn’t sure he ever wanted to find out, and opted instead to picture Cas happy and healthy somewhere.

But the years passed, and with them, so did his dad. He made sure Sam got through school and settled in his law career, but he couldn’t find it in himself to settle down anywhere. He traveled the country, working odd jobs and turning tricks, all the while, inching closer and closer to the East Coast. Something drew him back to the Jersey Shore like a magnet, and for the first few years he was here, he wondered if fate would step in and put Cas in his path again.

Eventually, he gave up on that hope and figured Sweet Surrender was it for him. On what he made doing sex work, he could pay all his bills, keep his old Impala in tip-top shape and stock his small art studio. The job filled the void for the most part, keeping him sated physically, above water financially and distracted from the fact that he’d never have a mate and pups. He’d stopped wishing for that last one at least a decade ago.

He’d tried to date, even came close to finding someone he wouldn’t mind mating with a time or two, but it always ended the same way. Alphas didn’t particularly want a headstrong, stubborn omega with genes that put him just this side of ‘too tall.’ And there was no alpha on earth that wanted to mate with a prostitute. He was fun, but he wasn’t exactly ‘mate material.’

Dean sighed as he stowed his personal belongings in his locker, then got dressed in nothing but a pair of plain green booty shorts that brought out his eyes. A little bit of smudged eyeliner and a bit of strategically placed body glitter, and he was ready for the night. He’d be on the pole that evening, but only long enough to snag a client to take to his bed. With any luck, he’d make enough tonight to get Chloe the little Victorian style dollhouse that had made her tiny face light up when she saw it in a shop window in Cape May. He adored his niece and loved spoiling her, and her fourth birthday was just around the corner.

It wasn’t long before Dean was on the pole, leg wrapped around the gleaming silver as he spun slowly, making eye contact with a large, sexy alpha in the corner. He could smell leather and arousal curling in the air, and he knew he had this one on the hook. One suggestive crook of his finger and the alpha stood and drew nearer, eyes never leaving Dean’s.

“See something you like, Alpha?” Dean purred, hanging backward from the pole so he looked at the alpha upside down.

“Yeah, Omega. Already filled out the contract. You like the rough stuff?” The alpha growled, eyebrows quirking in question.

“Just don’t make me bleed, big boy” Dean said flirtatiously, smiling when the alpha licked his lips and nodded.

A few minutes later, signatures were drying on the forms, money was exchanged, and Dean was leading the man back to his room at the very end of the hall. The door swung open on its hinges and suddenly all Dean could smell was cinnamon, honey, nutmeg and ginger. The scents wrapped around him deliciously and he dropped the client’s hand as he scented the air, nostrils flaring wide to drag in as much of the scent as possible. In an instant, he was transported back in time and reminded of the only alpha he knew that smelled of cinnamon and honey. The only alpha he'd ever known that had such a sweet scent.

“You have to go,” he demanded, looking into the alpha’s eyes and drinking in the air around him once more.

“I already paid, sweetheart,” the alpha said, grabbing at Dean’s waist and pulling their bodies flush.

“There’s a clause. I can back out at anytime and you’ll be refunded. Ellen will get you squared away.” Dean said, pushing against the alpha’s chest only to find him unmoving.

“Just give me what I came for, Omega,” the alpha growled, his grip tightening.

“Don’t get yourself blacklisted, Alpha,” Dean warned, and the client finally released him begrudgingly. “Good boy. Now go get your refund.”

The alpha stalked angrily down the hall, slamming the door behind him, and in a flash, Dean was in his room, door shut securely behind himself. He followed the spicy scent further into the room, finding it at its strongest when he reached the bed. He lowered himself into the thick of it, letting it curl around him and meld with his own scent delectably. There was an underlying scent he could make out now that he was encased in it… alpha rut. Slick began to pool between his thighs, its sweet scent mingling with the others and revealing the combined aroma of himself and the alpha that had been in his room.

“Apple pie,” he whispered, wondering if it was possible to scent bond with someone he hadn’t even met.

All of the sudden, he felt hot and itchy all over, slick pouring from him freely as his heat was triggered by the alpha he’d yet to lay eyes on. He knew it wouldn’t be long until he was taken with fever and begging for a knot, but this time, he couldn’t rely on Benny to help him through.

“Fuck,” he moaned, rolling onto his stomach and grinding his hard cock into the mattress.

Usually, if it wasn’t Benny, one of the alpha whores would help him though his heats, just like he helped some of them through their ruts. They all seemed to like it that way, being with a friend they trusted, but this time that just wouldn’t work. Dean wanted… needed the alpha whose scent triggered him. No one else would do.

He picked up the phone and called the front office. “Ellen,” he groaned when she picked up the phone. “I’m in heat. Who was in my room? I need him.”

Ellen sighed on the other end. “Shit. I was afraid of this,” she said. “You triggered him too.”

“Not helping,” Dean moaned. “Get him here, please. I need him. I need his knot.”

Ellen sighed over the line heavily enough to cause distortion in Dean’s ear. “We have a problem, hun. It’s the new boss. Gabe’s brother.”

Dean was shaking a little now, his heat hitting hard and fast… faster than he can remember experiencing since he’d first presented all those years ago. His first heat after meeting Cas had been like this… Cas… Castiel Novak.

Gabe’s last name had been Novak… Gabe left the brothel to his brother. Cas had come from such a large family, Dean hadn’t ever known all his siblings’ names, only the ones still in the Novak nest when he and Cas met. The ones he’d met when he visited their home under the guise of being Cas’ friend. Fuck.

Voice shaking, Dean asked, “Ellen, what’s the new boss’s name?”

“Castiel Novak.”

Chapter Text

April, 1997

“I asked her before I met you,” Castiel said, regretfully. “She’s just a friend, and I knew it would make my parents happy.”

“It’s fine,” Dean said with a shrug. “We wouldn’t be able to go together anyway. Your parents would kill you.”

Castiel nodded. Of course Dean was right, but it still sucked that they couldn’t go to the junior prom together like a normal couple. He hated keeping to the shadows and only getting to kiss his boyfriend when they drove into the woods or down the shore. He wanted to go on dates and hold Dean’s hand in the hallways at school. He wanted to kiss him by the lockers before they went to separate classrooms and snuggle up to him on the bleachers for Friday football games. But it just wasn’t meant to be yet. In a year and a half, he’d be eighteen and he and Dean could finally start their lives together. In the meantime, they'd hide from his homophobic parents and take what they could get.

“Maybe we can go to senior prom together?” Cas wondered aloud. “Even if we just say we’re going as friends because we couldn’t get dates.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Dean said, frowning. “If my dad keeps us here that long.”

Cas nodded, his heart aching as he imagined Dean leaving him behind.

“I’ll go stag this year. Make sure Meg keeps her filthy little hands to herself,” Dean said with a chuckle, skipping a stone across the surface of the cedar-stained, tea colored lake. “Maybe we can sneak off somewhere private and have a dance, just the two of us.

Cas smiled. “I’d like that.”

Castiel and Dean were camping for their spring break, a trip Castiel’s parents thankfully agreed to because there was no way their son could ever be gay, so Dean was considered “safe.” Dean had borrowed his dad’s tent, a boombox and a couple of sleeping bags, Cas packed a cooler full of food and drinks, and they’d set off on their first grown-up adventure together. They were in Wharton State Forest in the Pine Barrens, sitting on the hood of Dean’s ’67 Impala, and skipping stones across Atsion Lake. They sipped on beers stolen from John Winchester's large stash and ignored the elephant in the room while an old Zeppelin cassette played in the background

They both knew this was it. After a few weeks of dating, scenting each other like crazy and making out heavily, they’d finally have sex. Castiel had gone almost insane at the scent of slick that had been starkly present during their make out sessions, barely able to keep himself in check as his alpha instincts called out to him to claim Dean as his own.

A few days after they started seeing each other, Dean hadn’t come to school. His heat had been triggered by their intimacy, and it was too dangerous for him to go to school feverish and smelling like every alpha’s wet dream. They spoke on the phone that night, Dean between self inflicted orgasms and whining about how badly he wanted Cas, and Cas hard as a rock and aching to go to Dean. Castiel ended up in rut just from thinking about Dean laying in his bed, slick soaking the sheets as he got through his heat with the help of a knotted dildo.

That week while they were sequestered away from the world, with the urgency of their cycles out of the way, they could safely give in to temptation. They were freshly tested for STIs, birth control in Dean’s blood stream, and it was finally going to happen. Castiel was exhilarated and terrified, ready and not, his heart pounding in his chest every time his eyes met Dean’s.

Dean shivered next to him on the hood of the Impala, and Cas reached out to pull him close for warmth. Springtime in New Jersey was a fickle thing, and so far that year it had been fairly chilly and damp, an excuse to use their combined body heat for comfort. Dean snuggled against him, pressing his face into Cas’ neck and scenting him deeply before letting out a content sigh.

“Always smell so good, Cas,” he murmured against his boyfriend’s skin before his tongue darted out to flick across Castiel’s scent gland. Then it was Cas’ turn to shiver, but not from the cold.

“Mmm, likewise,” Cas whispered, taking a turn to breathe Dean in. “Let’s build a fire. The sun is dropping. I don’t want to freeze to death.”

Dean slid off the hood of the car, reaching out to grip Castiel’s hand and pull him along to the little clearing they’d pitched the tent in earlier. He began to stack firewood in the ring of stones that sat in smoothly raked sand a fair distance from the tent flap. It was far enough away to be safe, but close enough to keep them warm. Cas watched as Dean expertly sparked the kindling and had a fire roaring in mere minutes.

“You’re good at that,” Cas said, walking up behind Dean and wrapping his arms around his waist, pulling their bodies flush together and resting his chin on Dean’s shoulder so he could watch the flames rise.

“I’ve camped a lot,” Dean said with a shrug, leaning back into Castiel’s embrace. “Between moves, usually. Campgrounds or cheap motels always worked, wherever we could crash until Dad found us a place.”

Castiel always noticed the sadness that fell over Dean when he talked about his past and his family’s nomadic lifestyle. He was curious to know more, but Dean would always change the subject when asked, or worse, shut down completely. So Cas bided his time and waited for Dean to be ready to talk about it.

“Let’s have some dinner and tell campfire stories,” Cas suggested, giving Dean another squeeze before stepping away.

“Kind of cheesy, Cas,” Dean teased, his mood lightening again.

“I brought stuff for s’mores,” Castiel said with a grin.

“Seriously?”

“I don’t camp. My family isn’t exactly the outdoorsy type. Humor me and do all the cliché camping activities with me? Could be romantic?” Cas turned his wide, puppy dog eyes on Dean and smirked when Dean caved almost instantly, all the fight gone from him.

“Anything for my alpha,” Dean smirked and pulled Cas close, kissing him and scenting him again as if he couldn’t get enough.

Castiel’s heart thundered in his chest at being referred to as Dean’s. He liked the idea of them belonging to each other, of mating one day and having pups and a life beyond their small town. Not for the first time, he wondered if they would still be as magnetically drawn together once their scents fully matured, and he prayed they would.

“Maybe tomorrow we can rent a couple of kayaks and paddle around the lake?” Dean suggested. "Just have to make sure we don't tip over. The water's probably colder than a witch's titty."

Castiel beamed at Dean, sheer happiness washing over his features at the suggestion. “Or a canoe? That way we can be together?”

“Whatever you want, Cas.”

Castiel nuzzled and scented Dean before kissing him softly and pulling away to get drinks from the cooler and a blanket for them to settle on my the fire. Dean rooted around in the shopping bags Cas packed and came up with chocolate bars, marshmallows and graham crackers.

“OK, so maybe some clichés are clichés for good reason,” Dean said when Cas raised a questioning eyebrow, tossing the ingredients onto the blanket and wandering off to find a couple of good roasting sticks to whittle to sharp points.

“Don’t you think we should have dinner first?” Cas called after him, laughing softly when Dean turned around and looked at him as if he’d just kicked a puppy.

“We’re on vacation, Angel. Dessert first!”

After Dean was back by his side, the sun had dropped and they were getting sticky with melted marshmallow and chocolate, Castiel demanded a campfire story. Dean leaned in and licked the chocolate from the corner of Cas’ mouth and Cas turned and captured his lips in a proper kiss.

“Ok, story time,” Dean said as they separated. “Have you ever heard about the Jersey Devil?”

“No,” Cas said, eyes wide and curious.

“Really? You sure you were born here?” Dean said with a laugh. “I spent most of my life in the Mid West and I even I know about the Jersey Devil.”

“Dean I told you, my parents…”

“Yeah, yeah, my little sheltered alpha,” Dean teased, shutting Cas up with another kiss. “Lucky for you, my dad is obsessed with ghost stories. Ok, so the story goes, back in the 1700’s a woman called Mother Leeds found out she was expecting a thirteenth child. Rumor has it, she was a witch and the father was Satan himself. So as you can imagine, she was none too thrilled to be having this child. She cursed the baby, saying ‘Let it be the Devil!’ When the child was born, it had cloven hooves, the face of a goat and the wings of a bat. The creature gave a mighty screech, unfolded its wings, and flew out the window and into the woods. Over the years, there were sightings of the Jersey Devil all over the Pine Barrens…”

“Dean, we’re in the Pine Barrens!” Cas said, voice shaking as he looked around at the trees as if the Jersey Devil had been there watching them the entire time.

“Cas, are you going to let me tell the story?”

Cas snuggled closer, seeking comfort, and nodded. “Yes, Dean. Please continue.”

“So, as I was saying,” Dean began again. “People kept seeing this thing all over the place. It even left the Pine Barrens and traveled all over South Jersey. It was raiding chicken coops, destroying crops and killing livestock. Local zoos offered rewards for its capture, but to no avail. Some say it still roams the woods today, killing and eating whatever it comes across. Late at night you can sometimes hear it’s screech or the flap of its giant batwings!”

In the distance a twig snapped and Cas practically jumped into Dean’s lap. “Dean, what was that?”

“Probably just a deer or something. It’s just a story, Cas.” Dean chuckled and tipped his head back, allowing Cas to lean in and scent his throat for comfort. He smiled as Cas snuffled along his neck and wrapped his arms around him tightly. “I wouldn’t have told you that story if I knew how big of a scaredy cat you are.”

Cas breathed in Dean’s scent and sighed, his exhale tickling Dean’s skin and making him shiver. “Blame my sheltered upbringing. Scary stories were blasphemy in my house.”

“Wanna give that Devil a show?” Dean asked, his hand roaming over Castiel’s strong chest and shoulders.

With their close proximity, the slightest tinge of arousal had crept into Dean’s scent, swirling around Cas and drawing him in like a magnet. His stomach flipped and his heart stuttered in his chest as nerves took over. He wanted Dean, had wanted him since the day he scented him in the hallways, but he was woefully inexperienced and Dean was far from it.

“You smell anxious, Angel,” Dean said softly, brushing a stray lock of hair of Cas’ forehead and pressing a kiss there.

“Of course I’m anxious. I’ve never, well, I’ve never done much of anything,” Cas said, embarrassment creeping in to nestle alongside the scent of anxiety.

“Would it make you feel better if I told you I’ve never been knotted?” Dean asked.

Cas looked at Dean with wide, shocked eyes. “How? You've hinted that you’ve had sex before. You called yourself an ‘equal opportunity lover.’”

Dean sighed. “Are you sure you want to hear about my past? I know if you had exes, I wouldn’t want to know anything about them.” Cas nodded, and nothing in his scent implied that he was lying, so Dean continued. “OK, I’m an omega, so obviously as an alpha, you immediately assume I’m the one who gets fucked.”

“Dean, that’s not what I meant. You know you’re so much more to me than that,” Cas said quickly, alarm spiking in his scent.

“Shh, calm down, Alpha. That’s not what I meant,” Dean cooed, continuing when Cas relaxed against him. “I’ve been with other omegas and a beta or two, girls and guys, and I always topped with them. I was with an alpha once, and we’d just stick to heavy petting and oral. He was generous and I always got off, but I never let an alpha… you know… inside. Wanted to wait for someone I trusted, someone special, to be the first one to knot me.”

“Oh,” Castiel said softly. “If you don’t want to Dean, we can do that other stuff, or nothing at all. I won’t force myself on you.”

“Cas, you fool.” Dean laughed, amusement permeating his scent strongly, only quieting when Cas looked at him with wide, questioning eyes. “You’re who I was waiting for, Angel.”

“Really?”

“How can you not realize how gone on you I am?” Dean murmured, pulling Cas with him as he laid back on the blanket. “Come on baby, I want you.”

Cas went easily when Dean pulled him down and their lips met in a sweet kiss that quickly deepened, leaving them gasping and flushed with desire. Dean’s hands ran over Castiel’s sides and back, rucking up his shirt to find warm, bare skin to spread his hands across. A low rumble sounded in Castiel’s chest as Dean’s lips moved across his jaw and down his throat, brushing over his scent gland before latching down and sucking a mark there. Cas rocked back on his heels and shucked off his shirt, dropping it to the blanket before nudging Dean’s knees further apart and settling between them.

The sweet scent of slick began to fill the air, and Cas growled as his alpha instincts kicked in and he quickly began divesting Dean of his clothing. Dean sat up, allowing Cas to remove his shirt, then laid back again, kicking his shoes and socks off as Cas worked the button of his jeans and pulled them free when Dean lifted his hips. Left in only his boxer briefs, Dean looked up at Cas from under his lashes and nodded in encouragement when Cas hooked his thumbs in the elastic waistband, and he slipped the final garment down Dean's legs. Once Dean was gloriously naked and glowing in the flickering light of the campfire, Cas leaned in, kissing him deeply before moving lower to lick and suck at Dean’s scent gland. He breathed in Dean's apple scent deeply, growling as it mixed with his cinnamon scent and filled the air with the mouthwatering scent of baked apples and woodsmoke from the fire.

“That’s it, baby. Just follow your instincts,” Dean encouraged as Castiel’s teeth grazed the juncture between his neck and shoulder, right where a mating bite would go someday.

“Dean,” Castiel growled, grasping Dean’s wrists and pinning them to the blanketed ground above Dean’s head. He laid between Dean’s parted knees, grinding his clothed hips down to press their erections together, smiling against Dean’s skin when Dean gasped and arched his back to force them more tightly together.

“Cas,” Dean gasped out. “Get naked, Angel. Let me see you.”

Cas sat up on his knees and Dean followed, hands scrambling to Castiel’s waist to undo his jeans and start sliding them together with his underwear down over his gorgeous hips. Cas clumsily kicked off his shoes, sending them flying to land in the sand a few feet away and quickly shoved the rest of his clothes away.

“God, Cas, look at you,” Dean breathed out as his eyes traveled over the bare skin, lean muscle and thick, hard cock revealed before him. “I gotta… fuck Alpha, I gotta taste you.”

Before Cas could so much as breathe, Dean had guided him onto his back and straddled his shins. A strong hand wrapped around Castiel’s cock, and as he looked down, he was met with Dean’s darkened green gaze. Neither looked away as Dean smirked, licked his lips, then bent to suck the head of Cas’ cock between his lips. Cas lost the battle to keep his eyes open when Dean bobbed his head a few times, then pulled back, flicking his tongue over the sensitive spot tucked under the head.

“Dean,” Cas groaned as Dean took him in deep, gagging just the slightest, his throat contracting tightly around Cas’ cock, before pulling back again. “So good, Omega,”

A deep purr sounded in Dean’s chest under his alpha’s praise and he redoubled his efforts, sucking hard and bobbing faster. Castiel moaned and his fingers ran through Dean’s hair before his palm came to rest on the back of Dean’s head, just resting there as if he couldn’t bear to not touch Dean while he performed this sinful act on him. When his knot began to swell, ever so slightly, Castiel closed his fist around a chunk of Dean’s hair and tugged lightly, effectively pulling him off his cock. Dean looked up at Cas from under thick lashes, his freckled cheeks flushed and swollen lips pink and spit-slicked.

“My beautiful omega,” Cas said, running a thumb over Dean’s lower lip before reaching down and pulling him into a kiss.

As Dean opened up to him and their tongues teased each other, Cas rolled them over until he was laying on top of Dean. Dean arched his back, rolling their hips together and drawing little moans and snarls from Castiel as their dicks slid against each other, their commingled precut easing the way. The scents of omega slick and alpha arousal were thick in the air around them as Cas worked a hand between them and pressed a finger to Dean’s soaking wet opening.

“Is this ok?” Cas asked, determined to keep himself in control when every fibre of his being was screaming for him to take Dean right here, right now. He would not give in to his animalistic instinct unless it’s what Dean wanted.

“Fuck yes,” Dean panted out at the sensation of Cas’ probing finger, trying to press firmer against Castiel’s touch. “More, Cas, please.”

“Dean, you smell incredible,” Cas said, breathing in deeply at Dean’s scent gland before slowly moving down Dean’s body, leaving sucking kisses in his wake. As he came face to face with Dean’s cock, Castiel gave it an experimental lick, smirking up at Dean when it twitched under the attention. He wrapped a hand around it, stroking a few times before running his tongue over the head and down the shaft. Leisurely, Cas licked over Dean’s sac and perineum, all the while breathing in the thick, sweet scent of the slick that was absolutely soaking the blanket now. His tongue dipped down, licking over Dean’s hole and gathering up a bit of slick, the sweet flavor of apples bursting across his tongue.

“You taste even better,” Cas growled before shoving Dean’s knees up toward his chest to grant himself better access.

“F-fuck!” Dean cried out as Castiel flattened his tongue, licking from his hole, to the tip of his cock. Dean grasped behind his knees, pulling them even higher, shameless in how he wanted Castiel’s tongue to stay right where it was, alternating between flicking over his hole and pressing just slightly inside. Cas palmed his ass, spreading him wide, a low growl rumbling in his chest as he ate Dean out with fervor. Dean’s fingers were digging into his own thighs and his bottom lip was trapped between his teeth as he fought to stifle the moans that threatened to shatter the peace around them.

Dean lost that fight as two fingers slipped inside him and crooked, rubbing over his prostate in slow strokes. He moaned loudly, and Cas huffed a self-satisfied little laugh before his head disappeared back between Dean’s legs. The fingers in Dean’s ass spread, and Castiel licked between them, his tongue flicking over the sensitive rim while his fingers prodded and massaged Dean’s prostate. Slick continued to seep freely, and Castiel licked it up as fast as Dean's body produced it, moaning as he swallowed it down.

“Cas, please,” Dean gasped as he writhed against Cas’ face.

“Please, what, Omega?” Cas teased before slipping a third finger inside Dean.

Dean moaned, rocking back to fuck himself on Cas’ fingers desperately. He wasn’t full enough. He didn’t know if he would ever be full enough when it came to Cas or if he'd always be left wanting more. “Please,” he begged again, and Cas just continued to fuck him with three fingers, bringing his second hand up to stroke Dean’s rock hard cock. “C-Cas, fuck, please! Knot me!”

“Alright, Omega,” Cas cooed, kissing Dean’s inner thigh tenderly. Dean whimpered as Cas slid his fingers free and used the slick coating them to lube up his cock.

As Cas sat back on his knees, Dean scrambled to flip himself over. He pressed his chest to the ground and arched his back, lifting his ass high in the air. Castiel’s hands fell to his asscheeks, squeezing them and spreading them for one last lick to Dean’s hole.

“Come on, Cas. Get on with it,” Dean whined, wiggling his ass.

Cas bit his lip and shook his head. “No, Dean.”

“What?” Dean all but yelled looking over his shoulder to scowl at Cas. “You can’t be serious, Cas!”

“Calm down, Omega,” Cas said, sliding his hands over Dean’s hips and turning him over gently. “It’s just… you don’t have to present for me, Dean. I don’t want you to think of us as anything but equals, and I want to see you the first time. It should be special. We both waited for this.”

“Oh,” Dean said softly. “Y-yeah… good… ok.”

Cas pushed Dean’s knees apart and settled between them before kissing Dean deeply. Dean’s hands found their way to his shoulders and blunt fingernails dug into the flesh as their kiss grew more and more heated. The kiss broke and Cas moved to guide his cock to Dean’s hole, pressing in only slightly before Dean opened up beautifully for him, practically drawing him inside until he bottomed out.

“Oh, Dean,” Cas breathed out as his hips came to rest flush against Dean’s ass. Dean was biting his lip and his eyes were shut and Cas thumbed his lip free before kissing him again. “Open your eyes, Omega,” he urged, continuing when Dean obeyed. “I love you, Dean.”

Dean’s eyes widened in surprise before he pulled Cas in for another kiss. “I love you too, Angel. Now move! Knot me, Alpha. Please.”

They held each other tightly as Cas began to rock his hips, his thick alpha cock stretching Dean open and hitting his prostate with every slow thrust. Dean wrapped his legs around Cas’ hips, gasping and moaning as Cas sped his thrusts, snapping his hips forcefully when Dean begged, “harder, Cas, please.”

Cas buried his face in Dean’s neck, breathing in his scent and nibbling at his scent gland. He wanted to bite down. Every instinct told him to make Dean his forever, to mate him and tie their lives to each other, but his brain told him no. He couldn’t. HIs parents would kill him. They had nowhere to live. They were too young. They had years before their scents fully matured, and though his gut told him nothing would change and that he’d found his mate, he couldn’t be absolutely certain they’d still be biologically compatible. So, he nibbled and sucked with fierce control and thrust his hips until heat began to pool in his belly and his knot began to swell.

Beneath him, Dean was moaning and rocking his hips to meet every thrust. The sounds of skin on skin and the noises their lovemaking punched from their chests echoed out across the lake, and Cas found himself grateful that it was far too early in the season to have much company out in the woods.

“Please, Cas,” Dean begged again as Cas’ knot swelled and began to catch on his rim. “Fill me up Cas. Knot me, Alpha.”

Cas growled and nipped at Dean’s scent gland, pulling away when Dean tilted his head back to grant him better access. It was submission and it was permission, but he couldn’t… he wouldn’t bite. There would be no going back if he gave into temptation.

He focused his efforts elsewhere, capturing Dean's lips and kissing him deeply before raising himself up to get a hand on Dean’s leaking, neglected cock. Cas stroked Dean fast and hard while Dean’s hands grasped his ass to guide into faster thrusts. Dean’s breathing was heavy and erratic as Cas worked him closer and closer to orgasm, then all at once, his body went tense and his release splashed across their torsos and over Cas’ fingers. The sight and sound of Dean coming pushed Cas closer to his climax and he released Dean’s cock to grip him by the hips and hold him still as he pounded into him.

“Dean,” Cas gasped, his knot popping past Dean’s rim and swelling, locking them together as his orgasm ripped through him forcefully. He rocked there as Dean clenched around him, coaxing spurt after spurt of cum from him as he marked Dean from the inside.

His hips stilled as he started to float back to his body and Dean pulled him into a kiss before gathering him up in his arms, the mess between them forgotten. Their breathing slowly returned to normal and Cas rolled onto his back, pulling Dean along to straddle him and lay his head on his chest as they waited for Cas’ knot to go down.

Some time later, Cas’ cock slipped free and he woke Dean, who had been so sated and relaxed, he’d fallen asleep on Cas’ chest. They gathered their clothes and went into the tent where they slept curled around each other for the first time.

Castiel woke to a ray of sunlight streaming across his face through the unzipped “window” of the tent. He shielded his eyes with one hand and pushed himself up on the opposite elbow, looking at Dean, who was already awake and sketching on a pad of paper.

“What time is it?” Cas asked, and Dean’s eyes snapped up to meet his, a blush spreading across his face.

Dean hurried to close his sketchpad before answering. “It’s just after eight.”

“What are you doing?” Cas asked, sitting up fully and scooting closer to Dean, kissing him on the shoulder in lieu of exposing Dean to his possibly horrid morning breath.

“It’s nothing,” Dean said, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. “Breakfast?”

Cas frowned and ignored Dean’s attempt at a redirect. “I didn’t know you like to draw. Can I see?”

“Cas, it’s just a dumb hobby. I’m not even any good.” Dean said, setting the sketchpad aside and attempting to distract Cas with a kiss.

“Come on, please?” Cas begged, tilting his head away from Dean’s advances. “You deemed me special enough to knot you. Aren’t I special enough to see your drawings?”

Dean scowled at him before tossing the pad into his lap. “Fine. But just know that you’re not playing fair.”

Cas smirked in triumph and flipped to the first page of the sketchpad. “Dean,” he said reverently as he looked at a drawing of a woman and a little boy. “This is really good. You’re a talented artist. Who are they?”

Sadness washed over Dean’s face and he swallowed thickly before answering. “My mom and me when I was little. I drew it from an old picture I stole from my dad. I lost her not long after the picture was taken.”

“Dean, I’m sorry,” Cas said, rubbing a hand over Dean’s bare back soothingly.

“It’s not your fault,” Dean said with a shrug and a sad smile.

Dean reached out and turned the page and Cas knew that subject was closed for now. As he looked at each page he saw portraits, landscapes, buildings, even one Dean’s car gleaming in the sunlight. Many were done in nothing but pencil but others were in full color. He flipped to the last drawing in the book, gasping when he saw a perfect rendering of himself, peaceful in sleep as he laid back with a sleeping bag pulled up to his chest.

“Dean,” he murmured, at a loss for words.

“It’s nothing. Just a sketch,” Dean said, reaching out to take the book back from Cas and rolling his eyes when Cas held it out of reach.

“It’s not nothing, Dean. I can’t even draw a stick figure, and this looks exactly like me.” Cas said, voice full of awe. “You’re very talented. Have you ever thought about being an artist when you graduate? There are very good art schools as close as Philadelphia and New York. You wouldn’t have to go far. With your talent, you could get in anywhere.”

Dean scoffed a laugh and finally snatched the book back. “I don’t have the grades,” he argued.

“There’s still time. If you apply yourself, maybe…”

“Cas, stop, ok?” Dean said with authority. “I like to draw. Let’s not make a whole thing out of it. I probably won’t even be here long enough to worry about graduating, let alone trying to get into college nearby.”

Dean’s words cut right through Cas’ heart and he gasped and tried to will away the tears he could feel springing to his eyes.

“Shit, Cas, sorry,” Dean said, running a hand up and down Cas’ arm. “I didn’t mean to upset you, it’s just that my dad… he doesn’t like to stay in one place too long, and until I’m eighteen,” he trailed off, feeling helpless as Cas brushed away a tear.

“Yeah, I get it,” Cas said. “Can you just promise me something?”

“Yeah, Cas. Anything.”

Cas crawled into Dean’s lap and wrapped his arms around him, snuggling into his chest as if only Dean’s touch could ground him. “If he takes you away, don’t go until you come tell me goodbye, ok?”

“Of course,” Dean swore.

“And, when you turn eighteen, you come back to me. Even if you’re moving on without me, you come tell me. Because last night, it took everything in me to stop myself from biting you and making you mine forever,” Cas confessed, pressing a kiss to Dean’s scent gland and breathing him in for emphasis.

“OK, Cas. I promise.” Dean said, no hint of surprise in his voice, since he could very distinctly remember instinctively tilting his head back in hopes that Cas would claim him. He nuzzled Cas and scented him tightening his grip as Cas clung to him desperately.

“And don’t give up on your art. Promise me.”

“I promise, Angel.”

Chapter Text

March 2019

“Come on, Castiel, pick up! Why won’t he answer?” Elle grumbled, tossing her cell phone onto the passenger seat for the fourth or fifth time in as many minutes.

Dean was hot and cold all at once where he sat slumped in the backseat of Ellen's car. He burned from the inside out with fever, his blood boiling as it ran through his veins, but the cool air blowing through the cracked windows cooled the sweat on his skin, and he shivered against the chill. He ached all over, from head to toe, with a distinct throb of arousal trapped heavy and hard in his shorts. If he were to take a peek, he’s sure he’d see his neglected cock flushed an angry red and aching to be touched. Slick flowed freely and his hole clenched at nothing, desperate to be stretched and filled by his alpha.

Dean groaned and palmed himself through the tiny shorts he hadn’t bothered to change out of before Ellen had wrapped him in the blanket from his bed and ushered him into the backseat of her car. He’d protested, begging her to keep him away from Cas, but she wouldn’t hear it. She just tutted at him and mumbled something about getting him away from Benny before the alpha got a whiff of him.

He gave himself a squeeze and moaned, shame washing over him and coloring his cheeks deep pink in embarrassment. He rubbed himself again and stifled his noises the best he could, trying to discreetly take the edge off without traumatizing poor Ellen. His heats were never this bad. He was never quite this needy. Usually he could shack up with one of the alphas at the brothel for a day or two, or even go home and sink a knotted dildo inside himself and everything would be just fine. But not this time. This time he felt like he would be dead within the hour if he didn’t get knotted.

Ellen spared a quick glance at Dean in the rear view and pressed her foot harder to the gas pedal as they sped up the Garden State Parkway. “You’ll be ok, Dean. It’s just a little further.”

“Ellen, please turn around,” Dean whined, not for the first time. “I can’t do this. Don’t take me to him.”

“You know I can’t do that, hun. You caught the scent of your true mate and no one else will do. But, you know that, don’t you?”

“He won’t want to see me,” Dean whined. “I fucked up, Ellen.”

“So you’ve said, ten or so times,” she sighed, completely exasperated. “I know there’s a story there, but you won’t say what you did or how you know Castiel, so I’m not turning around. Whatever it is, he’s sure to forgive you the second he catches a whiff of your stink. If I can smell you, you know it’s bad,” the beta said.

“No,” Dean said, shaking his head weakly and hunching over in his seat as a fresh wave of cramps washed over him. He needed to come. If he could just find release, his heat would ease up enough for his brain to function and he could think of a way to make Ellen turn around. He just wanted her to take him home to his stash of emergency heat toys so he could fuck himself through this mess.

A breeze blew through the window stirring up the warm scent of cinnamon, and despite the fever, Dean wrapped the blanket tighter around himself and pulled it up to his face, burying his nose in it, breathing in the spicy scent of his alpha. It calmed him and aroused him all at once, and he felt more slick leak out of him, soaking the towel Ellen had had the foresight to lay over the seat. The tiny sliver of his brain that was still thinking rationally told him that Ellen was right, the only thing that could help him now was Cas. His mate. His mate that probably wouldn’t want him after what he’d done.

“Drink some more water,” Ellen urged as the scent of slick reached her nose. "Don't need you dehydrating on top of everything else."

Dean sluggishly opened a bottle and sipped at it slowly, feeling the cold water slip down his throat and settle unwelcomely in his stomach. He fought the urge to vomit, recapping the water and tossing it on the seat. Dehydration was the least of his worries, rejection topping that list, and rightfully so. True mates or not, Castiel may not accept Dean back into his life, and the rejection of one’s mate could be fatal, especially during a heat. Dean had thought it was rough being separated while they were in their teens, but that would be nothing now that they’d fully matured and were biologically perfect for one another.

The drive from Wildwood to Avalon was only around twenty minutes without the summer traffic, but Dean felt like he’d been trapped in that backseat for hours. As a new wave of arousal gripped him, he groaned and rubbed his cock through his shorts, the friction doing next to nothing to ease his rock-hard erection. Even if he were to come, it’s not what his body was aching for. He needed to be filled and fucked into the nearest mattress. He needed to be bitten and claimed by his mate. He whimpered and laid back on the seat, burying his face in the blanket and breathing in the scent that clung to the soft fabric.

Dean must have let his eyes drift shut, because when the car came to a sudden stop, he snapped out of a half-sleep daze and looked up at what was once Gabriel’s big, grey beach house. A little Toyota was parked in the driveway, and Dean couldn’t help but think the practical sedan fit the Castiel he once knew. He’d always been the practical one of the two of them.

“Ellen,” he whined as his makeshift mother opened his door and prepared to help him from the car. “It’s not too late. Get me out of here, please.”

“No can do, hun. Come on, get up. We’ll get you taken care of,” she said, holding out a hand as if to help him out of the car.

Dean pulled his hand from her loose grasp in one last attempt of defiance, and movement on the front porch drew his attention back towards the house. Standing there, looking as wrecked as Dean felt, was Castiel. His hair was damp and sticking up all over his head, just like it always did in high school. Much to Dean’s chagrin, he wore nothing but a low-slung towel across his well-defined hips, and he looked even better than he did all those years ago. He’d filled out, all strong muscles, broad shoulders and toned legs. His jaw was strong and square and darkened with stubble, his blue eyes lined at the corners, and Dean could just tell that they probably crinkled adorably when he smiled. Castiel was still gorgeous. A familiar confused tilt to Cas' head made Dean’s heart stutter as he called out to ask Ellen what she was doing there.

The world went foggy, the words exchanged between Ellen and Castiel lost as Dean’s world tilted on its axis. There was a sudden shift in the wind and a breeze blew through the car, carrying the scent of cinnamon, nutmeg, honey and alpha rut on the air, and in an instant, Dean was out of the car and moving toward his alpha.

.
.
.

Castiel reached the house after speeding the entire way home, and promptly stripped every stitch of clothing from his body on his way up to his bedroom. The scent of apples still clung to his hair and skin having transferred to him while he rolled around in the prostitute’s bed like an animal. It mingled with his own scent, filling the room with the scent of freshly baked apple pie. He sunk down into the mattress and had a hand on his cock in an instant, stripping it fast and rough only to come all over his stomach and chest within seconds. He panted and collected himself, only to end up hard again as his heart rate returned to normal. He swept up his release with his fingers and coated his cock with it, slicking himself to ease the friction of the second of many masturbatory sessions he’d end up having before his rut ran its course.

He massaged his knot as it started to swell and came again, adding to the mess on his abdomen. In the distance, his phone rang, and he ignored it for the time being. What could be so important? He had no family, he’d just left his job in capable hands and he only had acquaintances, not friends.

He ended up jerking off for a third time before the itch was scratched and he felt more like himself again. He was covered in the evidence of his elicit activities, so he ran himself a hot shower to rinse off the cum and sweet scent of an omega that could never be his. Standing under the stream for a long time, a million thoughts ran through his head, now that he could actually think. Who was the man who’d caused such a reaction in him after two decades of celibacy, and how could they possibly work together if his scent alone was enough to trigger a rut? There was no way to keep this professional, and as the boss, he could never pursue one of the employees, no matter how sweet he smelled. He supposed he could work from home, but Ellen stated that she hoped he could spend a good amount of time at the brothel. He would just have to stick to working days and stay as far away from the omega hallway as humanly possible.

He groaned and rested his forehead on his arm as the hot water rained down on his back, easing the tension from his muscles. He stretched and reveled in the short period of relaxation he had before his rut took over again, then shampooed his hair and soaped up his body. By the time he’d cleaned himself from head to toe, he was hard again.

Soaping up his hand, he reached for his cock, stroking himself slowly as he pictured green eyes, freckles and the cockiest smirk he’d ever seen grace the face of an omega. He wondered what Dean looked like now and if his scent matured to be anything like the sweet smelling omega that worked for Castiel. He thrust into the tight tunnel of his fist, his hips rocking as he conjured the familiar fantasy world he always relied on in times like this. He tried to remember what it felt like to have Dean’s plush lips wrapped around his cock as they stargazed on the beach late at night, the sound waves crashing against the shore just loud enough to to drown out his soft moans. His treacherous brain provided him with memories of being buried in Dean in the back of the Impala, windows open, their moans and the classic rock Dean was so fond of drifting out into the open field they’d parked in one night. He could still feel the way Dean would clench around him when he came, could still see the way his head would tip back as he cried out in ecstasy and how they’d kiss soft and sweet until they could safely separate.

Castiel cried out as he came hard, his release splashing across the mosaic marble tiles before washing down the drain.

He had the passing thought that the omega at the brothel could possibly be Dean. The scent was so similar to the omega he once knew so intimately, down to the Granny Smith apples. He’d smelled others over the years whose scent was similar, but it was the sweeter Honeycrisp apple, or the generic scent of a Macintosh. This was the first time in twenty years he smelled the tart sweetness of a bright green Granny Smith, and it would be a hell of a coincidence, but anything was possible, he supposed. What would he do? Dean had betrayed him, lied and left him… and yet… he was Dean.

Despite Dean’s betrayal, Castiel didn’t want the life of a prostitute for Dean, even the life of a prostitute in a well-respected establishment such as Sweet Surrender. He wanted all good things for Dean. He wanted Dean happy somewhere, in a home with a mate and pups, maybe a little studio for his art. Dean didn’t deserve to be used night after night by countless horny alphas.

Castiel pushed all thoughts of Dean aside and turned off the water. The fire inside him had been banked for now, a glowing ember where a raging flame had been only a couple hours before. He slipped out of the glass-walled shower and wrapped himself in a fluffy white towel, using a second to quickly towel-dry his hair before hanging it for later use. He didn’t bother taming his hair, leaving it sticking up all over the place to air dry on its own. It’s not like he’d be leaving the house until his rut was over anyway.

In the bedroom, his cell phone was ringing again, and he ignored it, opting to go to the kitchen to see if there was any food in the house instead. He put a kettle on for tea and found some shortbread cookies in the pantry, and was just pouring the hot water over the teabag when he heard tires crunching over the gravel in his driveway. Peeking out the window, he saw Ellen standing at the open backdoor of her car, talking to an unseen passenger.

“…We’ll get you taken care of,” he heard Ellen say as he opened the front door and made his way onto the porch.

“Ellen? What are you doing here?” Cas called out, suddenly realizing he’s dressed in nothing but a towel and gripping it tightly to be sure it stays in place.

“I called, Castiel. A few times. You really should have picked up so I could expl…”

Ellen was cut off as a man shot past her, and before he knew what was happening, Cas had an armful of strong, solid, sweet-smelling omega, his face buried in Castiel’s neck and nose pressed to the scent gland there.

 

Ellen took a few steps closer, staying at the bottom of the steps. “You triggered him. Rolled all over his bed and left your stink behind. Congratulations, boss. Pretty sure you got yourself a true mate.” She nodded toward the man clinging to Castiel.

Cas made a weak attempt to pry the man off of him, but he was big for an omega and his arms just tightened around Cas’ middle in protest. Kisses were pressed to the sensitive skin behind his ear and Cas moaned at the first sensual touch from another human being in too damned long. His senses were overwhelmed as he breathed in the thick scent of slick and apples and heat, and he found his arms wrapping around the bare-chested man in reciprocation as if they had a mind of their own.

“Alright then, I’ll just leave you to it,” Ellen called out, waving and sliding back behind the wheel of her car.

“Wait, fuck!” Cas tried to call out, but she was gone as quickly as she’d arrived.

“Cas,” the man breathed against his neck. “Need you Cas. Need you to knot me, Angel.”

Castiel froze, arms falling to dangle uselessly at his sides. The voice was deeper, raspier with age, but the warmth behind the endearment was the same. He was still being held too tightly to catch a glimpse of the man’s face, but when he looked down and took in the bare shoulder he found there, all he saw were freckles spread out over tanned, tight skin.

“Dean?” he whispered, terrified and thrilled all at once to find out the answer.

“Missed you,” Dean answered, rolling his hips to press his erection into Castiel’s hip. “Need you.”

Cas swallowed nervously, panic bubbling up in his chest as his cock perked up again in spite of the multiple orgasms he’d had already that afternoon. He couldn’t just knot Dean after two decades, after Dean’s betrayal and all he went through trying and failing to get over it... could he?

Dean continued to thrust against his hip, soft sounds of pleasure and desperation falling from his lips as he clung to Cas. Castiel’s brain was going fuzzy with want and his instincts were calling out to give in and knot Dean right there on the porch, but he couldn’t. They couldn't.

“Dean!” Cas said firmly, relying on the alpha voice he never used.

Dean released him in submission, backing up just far enough for them to see each other, to really look at each other after so long apart. He was older, his features more masculine with age, but still beautiful and freckled, his green eyes glassy and his skin flushed a bright pink from his heat. He was tall, just a bit taller than Cas, and broad and strong across his shoulders. His narrow waist tapered down to tiny green shorts and long bowed legs ended in bare feet. A smattering of glitter decorated his chest, starkly drawing Castiel’s attention back to what Dean did for a living now. He wondered what path in life lead him to the point where he sold his body, but that was a question for another time.

Cas opened his mouth, wanting to demand to know what happened all those years ago. He wanted to know everything about Dean, where he went, why he came back. He wanted to know how long he’d worked for Gabriel. Did he know he was working for Castiel’s brother, or was it just fate that put them back in each other’s paths?

He wanted to ask about everything, but all that came out was a barely audible, accusatory, “You promised.”

Dean’s face crumpled, and he looked down at his feet, pressing his palm against the raging erection that strained against his almost non—existent, slick-soaked shorts. “Cas,” he said, the name a prayer on his lips.

Castiel’s heart tripped in his chest when those green eyes met his, pleading with him. “You promised,” Cas repeated. “You promised you’d say goodbye, and you didn’t. You promised you’d come back for me, and you didn't.”

“Cas, please. I’m here now and I need you,” Dean hand was rubbing his bulge, seeking release as Cas watched right there on the open air porch. “Angel… Alpha… please.”

Castiel was lost in that moment as his perfect mate stood on his doorstep, smelling like heaven, reaching out to touch him and begging for his knot. There would be time to talk later. Dean would have to earn his forgiveness, but for now, they both needed each other too much to waste time talking. He knew rejecting Dean would be dangerous and was not an option, and he reached out, taking Dean’s hand in his own and leading him into the house.

As soon as the door slammed shut behind them, Castiel had Dean pressed against it and their mouths were on each other for the first time in twenty years. Dean kissed him like he was dying and Cas was the air he needed to breathe. In the back of his barely functioning mind, Castiel ran over everything that Ellen had told him during the brothel tour. According to her, Dean was tested, clean and on birth control, and he knew for a fact he was clean himself.

Gripping Dean’s hips tightly, Castiel spun him around and walked him backwards across the house, pushing him down onto the large leather ottoman in the living room. Dean leaned back on his elbows seductively then lifted his leg, pulling the towel from Castiel’s hips with his toes. Cas growled as the towel fell to the floor and bent to divest Dean of his tiny green shorts, tossing them away carelessly and kneeling between Dean’s spread knees.

“It’s been twenty years,” Cas whispered before he dipped his tongue between Dean’s cheeks and lapped up the slick he’d craved since the day he lost him. Dean keened and writhed on the ottoman, one hand gripping the leather, the other on the back of Castiel’s head, his fingers twisting in the damp hair. Cas growled and pulled Dean’s hand away from his head, the intimacy of the touch too much.

“Twenty years since you walked away without a word,” Cas spat out as he thrust two fingers into Dean’s aching hole, twisting and spreading them just long enough to make sure Dean was ready, before removing them just as quickly. “Twenty years since your rejection almost killed me. If I could stand to do it, I’d toss you out the door so you could feel pain that for yourself.”

“Cas please,” Dean pleaded, tears gathering and spilling down the sides of his face. Neither of them knew what he was begging for. For forgiveness? To be allowed to stay? To be fucked and knotted? Castiel could give him only one for now. Forgiveness could wait.

“Present for me, Omega,” he said coldly.

Dean looked back at him with wide, sad eyes, as if that command alone snapped him out of his haze of lust. In the fleeting time they’d had together in school, he’d never once asked Dean to present for him. But Cas was angry. He was angry at himself for giving into his biological instincts and he was angry at Dean for coming back into his life like this, unable to think clearly enough to just talk about everything like rational adults. But it was too late for talking, and both of them needed this, and Castiel couldn’t look at him while they satisfied their carnal desires.

“Cas,” Dean whimpered, spreading his legs wider, attempting to entice Cas to sink into him right then and there.

"I said 'present,' Omega," Castiel growled again, then roughly rolled Dean onto his belly, grasping Dean’s hips highly and pulling him into position until his back was bowed and his ass was high in the air. “Tell me now if you don’t want this, Omega,” he warned.

“Knot me Alpha,” Dean said, a fresh stream of slick running down his thighs to pool on the ottoman that didn’t quite feel like Castiel’s yet.

Cas thrust in hard, sheathing himself to the hilt in one fluid movement as Dean gasped and his thighs began to shake from the pleasure and pain of it all. His hands grasped Dean’s hips in a bruising vice grip as he began to move, pulling Dean back roughly to meet every thrust, the sounds of skin slapping skin filling the room along with their grunts and groans. It was perfunctory, almost clinical, the way Castiel fucked Dean. It was the quickest means to an end, and when Dean cried out and spattered the leather below him with his release, Cas fought the urge to bite down on Dean’s neck and pushed his knot inside, coming deep in Dean’s ass.

Dean whimpered as Cas maneuvered them onto the couch, his knot tugging at Dean’s abused rim as he settled Dean in his lap to wait out his knot. A few minutes passed in awkward quiet before a soft sob broke the silence.

“I deserved that. I’m so sorry, Cas,” Dean said with a sniffle. “I fucked up when we were kids, and now this? I don’t think either of us wanted this, not the way it happened, anyway.”

“Hush, Omega,” Cas said firmly. “We’ll talk later. It won’t be long until we lose our heads again. Just use me like the clients at Sweet Surrender use you. Get through this, then we’ll talk.”

“You never made me present for you before,” Dean said petulantly.

Castiel sighed. Dean was right to be upset, but he couldn’t bring himself to feel bad about it. It had been so long and he’d been so hurt. He could have the sex, he just couldn’t have the intimacy. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

“We’ll talk later,” Cas said again with an air of finality and they lapsed back into uncomfortable silence.

After his knot went down and he was able to slip free, Castiel gently pushed Dean from his lap and led him upstairs. He dug through a suitcase until he came up with a couple clean tee shirts and soft pairs of pajama pants and gave a set to Dean before guiding him into the bathroom to clean himself up. Once he was alone and heard the shower running, he all but collapsed onto the bed with his head in his hands as he fought to keep the tears at bay.

What had they done?

Chapter Text

Before bed, they fucked again, rough and dirty, standing with Dean bent over, his face pressed into the mattress to keep his voice muffled and their mess from getting on the covers. Cas didn’t even knot him the second time, instead, he pulled out and came across Dean’s back. After, Cas disappeared into the bathroom to clean himself up then sent Dean in after. Dean stood in front of the mirror and examined the finger-shaped bruises on his hips before rinsing off quickly in the shower. When he’d dried off and returned, Cas was already under the covers facing the sliding doors.

Dean sighed, sadly. Gone were the days they’d make love then clean each other up tenderly and hold each other until they dozed off.

“Cas? Should I find someplace else to sleep? Gabe used to let us use the back bedrooms after parties or whatever.” Dean said, carefully, hugging his own arm to his chest nervously while he prayed that Cas wouldn’t send him away to sleep alone.

Cas rolled over just long enough to flip back the covers on the empty side of the bed in invitation. “Just get in. You might need me before morning,” he grumbled before turning his back to Dean again.

Dean slid into bed and pulled the covers up to his chest, breathing in the scent of Cas that clung to the soft cotton.

“Cas?” Dean whispered, reaching out and cautiously touching Cas’ shoulder.

“Already?” Cas grumbled in annoyance.

He pulled his hand back as if he’d been burned. “No, it’s not… I just… I’m sorry, Cas.”

“Go to sleep, Omega,” Cas snapped. It stung like a bitch that Cas was ordering him around and wouldn’t even use him name to do so, but Dean obeyed, closing his eyes and eventually falling into a fitful sleep.

When morning came, Dean scowled at Castiel’s sleeping form where it laid, silhouetted in the sunlight that streamed through the sliding glass door. If he were any further from Dean, he’d be on the floor. He resisted the urge to curl up against Cas’ back and breathe in his spicy scent. The only thing that was likely to get him was another rough fuck and a few grumbled orders. And though arousal thrummed under his skin, his heat still at its peak, he couldn’t bear to wake Cas and see the way he looked at him. He couldn’t bare to be flipped over on his stomach and taken fast and hard without an ounce of emotion.

It felt too much like being at work.

Not that he could blame Cas. The entire situation was fucked up, to need each other but not necessarily want each other. He longed to talk to Cas, to tell him that their separation was as hard on him as it was on Cas, but he was the one who left. Anything he said now would just be disregarded, and the last thing he wanted to do was piss Cas off. When he’d threatened to toss Dean out on his ass the night before, the panic Dean had felt over the possible rejection was immeasurable. He’d do anything to avoid that.

Dean slipped from the bed and into the hall bathroom where he could relieve himself and jerk off quickly to ease the arousal that was burning through him without Cas overhearing him. He wasn’t ready to wake Castiel just yet, so the en suite was off limits. He stroked himself to a quick, unsatisfying release, then found a washcloth to wipe up the cum and slick from his skin. He found a spare toothbrush, still packaged, in one of the drawers and sent a little thank you up to Gabriel for keeping his home guest-ready at all times, and brushed his teeth.

After he finished his morning routine, he poked around in the bathroom, finding cleaning supplies under the sink. He sprayed down the walls of the shower and while the cleaning fluid sat for a few minutes, he cleaned the toilet. He wiped down the mirror and the sink, then scrubbed the shower. Finally, he gathered up his used towel and put it in the hamper before leaving the room.

Returning to the bedroom, he found Cas still out like a light, so he borrowed a pair of boxers from his suitcase and took in the room. It was very Cas, as he remembered him from high school. Neat, orderly, plenty of books, and very few pictures on the walls. This was the room he must have used when he visited Gabriel, and the one he intended to stay in, now that the home was his. There were a few boxes piled against the walls and a couple packed suitcases, so Dean assumed he’d just started moving in. All the furniture downstairs had been Gabriel’s, making it seem like Cas had only brought the essentials. He wondered what that meant for Castiel’s longevity here. Maybe he was planning on selling everything and returning to wherever it is he called home.

Dean opened one of the suitcases and quietly took out the neatly folded clothes, laying them on the bed in little piles. He sorted the socks and underwear and placed them in the top drawers of the dresser, then started sorting out teeshirts by color order before folding them and stacking them sideways in a drawer so Cas would be able to see each shirt without digging through the piles. He opened the closet and started hanging some of Cas’ nicer clothes and was just putting a stack of sweats and pajama pants in another drawer when Cas stirred.

“You’re nesting, Omega,” Cas said, simply. It wasn’t a question, more along the lines of an accusation than anything.

Dean froze, leaving his back to Cas as he closed the drawer and tried to let a neutral expression fall over his face.

“I was just trying to help out,” Dean finally said, though he knew in his heart that Cas was right. He’d scented his mate and was subconsciously making himself useful, trying to insinuate himself into Cas’ life and make the house a home.

Cas shrugged it off for the time being, likely unwilling to open up that can of worms just yet. “Do you need me, or should I go find us something to eat?”

“I can wait,” Dean said, turning to the boxes on the floor. He itched to open them up and help Cas put them away, but he was too self-conscious after being called out for nesting, so he turned away from them once more.

“I figured. You smell like sex. You could have woken me,” Cas said with a sigh, and Dean glanced down to see the beginnings of an erection tenting Castiel’s sleep pants. Ruts weren’t known to be as difficult as heats, but Dean figured Cas was probably starting to feel pretty uncomfortable with the scent of his slick on the air.

“I thought I’d let you sleep, but if you need…”

“I’m fine.” Cas snapped, then turned away from him again. “Help yourself to some clean clothes,” he said before disappearing downstairs.

Dean dressed and went downstairs where he found Cas in the kitchen, digging through the pantry and grumbling at the contents. “I can cook,” he offered, cautiously.

Cas sighed and closed the pantry door with a slam. “I don’t know what you expect to cook. There’s not much here.”

Dean flinched at the tone of Cas’ voice and wrapped his arms protectively around himself, looking at the floor to avoid Cas’ eyes. “Sorry,” he mumbled.

Cas sighed again and ran a hand through his unkempt hair. The room was filled with the scent of his arousal and the burnt cinnamon of his annoyance. “It’s not your fault. I just wasn’t expecting to be stuck in the house entertaining an omega in heat.”

“An omega,” Dean repeated, dejectedly. “Just another omega. Some random omega.”

“You say that as if I go through omegas like you go through alphas,” Cas quipped. “You know nothing about me, Omega.”

“My name is Dean!” Dean’s green eyes flashed in anger, and he straightened himself up to his full height, looking down his nose at Cas, their one inch height difference suddenly feeling like so much more. “And the ‘alphas’ I ‘go through’ are a just job. I can’t remember the last time I had someone in my bed by choice, you son of a bitch!”

Cas stepped back as if he’d been slapped. “Well… I can remember the last time I took someone to bed by choice,” he said sadly, turning away to stare out the window.

“Cas, you can talk to me,” Dean said, softening and reaching out to run his hand down Cas’ back. Much to his surprise, Cas leaned back into his touch and Dean wrapped his arms around Cas’ waist, drawing him back against his chest.

“No talking,” Cas said quietly.

Dean tipped his head down to rest on Cas’ shoulder and nodded. His body was reacting to their closeness, his cock hardening and the scent of slick starting to permeate the air.

“No talking until we’re ourselves again,” Cas reiterated as Dean’s hand slipped down to cup his erection through his sleep pants. His hips jerked, pressing his cock more firmly into Dean’s palm.

“Ok, Cas,” Dean agreed as Cas turned in his arms.

Cas spared a quick glance into Dean’s eyes before he spun him around roughly and bent him over the kitchen island. Dean gasped and his hands splayed out on the cool white quartz in an attempt to brace himself as Cas pulled down his pants and underwear in one movement. They rested around his ankles, and neither himself nor Cas made a move to take them off them completely. Two fingers were shoved inside him without ceremony, and he hated the way his back arched enticingly under the touch. Cas probed around for a few seconds, before withdrawing his fingers and pushing his cock deep inside Dean hard and fast enough to bruise Dean’s ribs on the edge of the hard countertop.

Dean whimpered and keened desperately as Cas pounded into him and nipped at the back of his neck, teeth barely grazing the skin as Dean fought the urge to beg Cas to bite him and mate him. He blamed the fog hanging over his brain on biology and his heat, but he longed for his true mate, for Cas, no matter how much bullshit they had to get over.

He tried to stand straighter, to press his back to Cas’ chest and wrap an arm behind Cas’ neck and drag him in for a kiss. He was desperate for intimacy, but Cas pressed a firm hand between his shoulder blades, bending him back over the countertop. A strangled sob fought it’s way free from deep inside his chest and Cas stilled behind him.

“Are you hurt, Omega?” Cas asked, the slightest hint of worry in his voice.

Dean bit his bottom lip and tried to stifle a second sob, but to no avail. Finally, he shook his head and answered Cas. “No.”

“I don’t believe you,” Cas said, pulling out.

“I’m fine, Cas. Don’t stop,” Dean pleaded, arching his back prettily, pushing himself up on tip toes, and shuffling his feet wider apart in invitation.

When Cas pushed back in, dragging his cock across Dean’s prostate, Dean moaned and his hands grappled at the counter, looking for something to grab onto and coming up empty. Cas draped across his back, his hands sliding down Dean’s arms to rest over his. Dean spread his fingers, silently begging for Cas to lace their fingers together. When Cas did, Dean choked on another sob.

“Goddamn it, Dean!” Cas all but yelled. “Tell me what I’m doing wrong!”

Dean’s heart swelled hopefully when Cas used his name, and he had just enough courage to ask for more. “Turn me around, Alpha. I need to see you. Please.”

Cas’ hands left his as Cas stood and pulled out, leaving Dean feeling cold and empty. Gentle hands gripped his hips and turned him until they were looking in each others eyes, just inches apart, and Dean couldn’t stop himself. He wrapped his arms around Cas, pulled him in and kissed him. For one glorious moment, Cas kissed him back, and then the world shattered and Cas pulled away and led Dean back upstairs.

Cas laid Dean out on the bed and crawled up between his legs, drawing them up around his hips before he sunk back into Dean’s wet heat. Dean wrapped his legs around Cas’ waist, drawing him in deeper, and Cas met his eyes briefly before he closed his own. There movements were slower now, gentler, as Cas rolled his hips and Dean arched to meet him thrust for thrust.

Dean reached out tentatively, tracing Cas’ jawline with his fingertips and he gasped in surprise when Cas sharply turned his head and kissed his palm softly. His hands fell to the back of Cas’ neck and he took at chance at pulling Cas in, coaxing him in for a kiss.

“Cas,” Dean whispered against Cas’ lips before burying his nose in Cas’ neck and scenting him deeply. He almost sobbed in relief when he felt Cas dip down to do the same to him. The scent of warm apple pie surrounded them, filling the room with spicy sweetness, and Dean felt teeth graze his scent gland. He wanted to beg for Cas’ bite, to be bound to him for the rest of their lives, but he knew Cas would regret it if he bit Dean while in the haze of rut. Still, Dean arched off the bed when Cas’ lips closed over the gland and sucked, drawing blood to the surface of his skin to form a purple bruise.

Dean could feel Cas’ knot beginning to swell and catch on his rim with every thrust, and he tightened the grip his legs had around Cas, pleading silently to be knotted this time. Above him, Cas was panting, eyes still firmly closed so he wouldn’t have to look at him. Dean ran the pad of his thumb over Cas’ furrowed brow.

“Please,” Dean whispered. “Cas, please look at me.”

Cas growled, but opened his eyes after a few seconds, the dark, stormy blue glazed over in lust. Dean cupped his face and drew him in for another kiss, greedy for the affection Cas grudgingly bestowed upon him. Cas kissed him back with dominance, nipping at his lip and sucking on his tongue as his hips snapped harder and his knot swelled further. Dean’s fingertips dug into Cas’ shoulders, and his ankles crossed over the small of Cas’ back. His toes curled, and he moaned wantonly as Cas’ cock dragged over his prostate again and again and his own cock leaked where it was trapped between their bodies, neglected aside from the drag of Cas’ stomach.

“Knot me, please knot me, Cas” Dean begged.

Cas pulled back far enough to get a hand around Dean’s cock and stroked him hard and fast as his own thrusts became quick and shallow. Dean tried to pull Cas deeper, but Cas grabbed him behind the knee with his free hand and pushed his leg higher, breaking the hold Dean had had on him.

“Please,” Dean whimpered, as his orgasm washed over him and he spilled over his stomach.

Cas released Dean’s cock so he could grip his ankles and hold him open. He kept his thrusts too shallow for his knot to pop past Dean’s rim, in spite of the stilted pleas that continued to fall from Dean’s lips. Grunting, and pulling out, Cas came hard, his copious release coating Dean’s cock and dripping down over his balls and abused hole. Cas stroked himself through it with closed eyes, then sagged back on his heels, panting breathlessly.

As his breathing slowly returned to normal, he shuffled away from Dean and disappeared into the bathroom. Dean laid on the bed, slone, shell-shocked and cold all over, his eyes welling up with tears and his heart full of self-loathing. He wanted nothing more than to sneak out of the house, quit his job and never face Castiel Novak again.

But he knew he could never do that. He could never walk out of Cas’ life without a word, having done that once already. He could only ride out his heat and hope that somehow, after all was said and done, he could apologize and start over again with Cas. They were true mates, and they had a history so he owed it to both of them to try.

The bathroom door opened and Cas emerged, holding a wet washcloth. Dean pushed up on his elbows, looking at Cas expectantly. Cas looked back at Dean with the slightest nod in acknowledgement then tossed the cloth so it landed on Dean’s chest. Dean watched as Cas got out clean clothes for both of them, then dressed and walked out of the room.

It was like one step forward and two steps back with Cas and it was making Dean feel completely helpless. He sighed loudly, cleaning himself with the cloth, then dressing. He poked around in the hall closet until he found clean sheets, then changed the dirty ones and made the bed, neatly tucking the corners and smoothing the bedspread. He fluffed up the pillows and arranged them neatly at the head of the bed. Rolling the sheets into a ball, he stuffed them in the hamper in the corner, and turned, finding Cas standing in the doorway, watching him.

“You’re nesting again,” he said.

Dean just shrugged and picked up a few items of dirty clothes from the floor, discarding them in the hamper as well.

“Don’t.” Cas snapped. “No more nesting. You’re only a guest here. This isn’t your home to make.”

Dean’s heart clenched in his chest as the pain of rejection buzzed under his skin, lighting up every nerve ending in his body. He refused to cry, balling his hands into fists at his sides and staring at Cas unwaveringly. “Fine!” he spat, willing his feet to move so he could brush past Cas and lock himself in one of the bedrooms at the back of the house.

Cas didn’t bother coming to find Dean until late into the night when Dean’s heat was relentless and he was filling the house with the stink of his arousal and moans of “Cas” and “Please.” Around three in the morning, Cas’ rut wouldn’t let him resist anymore and he kicked the door in and took Dean fast and hard from behind, Dean moaning and begging for his knot. Cas pulled out again, spilling on the bedsheets, then finished Dean off with a quick and dirty hand job. After, he cleaned them up he brought Dean to bed with him in case they needed each other again.

The next two and a half days, it was much more of the same. They’d fuck and fight. They’d eat quick take out meals, bathe separately, then fuck and fight some more. They shared the bed, but slept miles apart, until the last morning, when Dean woke and found them tangled with each other. The fever and urgency of his heat were gone, and the arousal that had been thrumming in his veins for days had finally abated. He carefully leaned in and scented Cas, finding no evidence of rut remaining, which meant they’d cuddled and it had nothing to do with their cycles.

Dean smiled and cuddled into Cas’ chest again, breathing in the more muted scent of his alpha. He was content and just dozing off again when Cas shifted beneath him.

“Hey,” Dean said softly as Cas’ eyes blinked open and he looked down at him.

“Oh,” Cas said, sliding out from under Dean and turning to sit on the edge of the bed.

“Really, Cas?” Dean snapped. “You need to get away from me that badly? You can’t stand the thought of cuddling with me now that my heat is over?”

“Dean, we’re not…”

“We’re not what, Cas? Because you won’t even talk to me!” Dean yelled, cutting Cas off.

“What do you want from me?” Cas asked, turning back to face Dean again.

“I want you to try! I want you to let me apologize for what I did twenty years ago! I want you to realize that you’re not the only one who almost died when our bond was broken!” Dean’s voice broke as he spoke. He stood to pace around the room, and Cas followed suit, standing next to the bed.

“It’s not that simple,” Cas said with a sigh.

“You’re my true mate, Cas,” Dean said, his breath hitching as he held in a sob. “You have to feel this pull. This isn’t just your rut and my heat, it’s so much more.”

“You left me!” Cas spat, his own eyes filling with tears now. “One day you were there, telling me that you loved me and you wanted us to be together forever. You used to talk about pups, for God’s sake! And then, the next day you were just… gone. No goodbye, even after you promised. You swore you’d never leave without a goodbye, and that you’d come back for me! And now? …You’re a whore, Dean.”

It would have hurt less if Cas had slapped him.

“That’s all I am to you?” Dean scoffed, a single tear springing free and sliding down his cheek. “I’m nothing but a whore? A place to stick your knot when you’re in a rut? And then what? When you’re done, you’ll just send me back to the whorehouse?”

Cas sniffled and looked down at his feet, ashamed. “That’s not what I meant.”

“Then explain it to me, Alpha.

Cas took a step closer before stopping himself. “I was so mad at you Dean. So angry and hurt that I never wanted to be put in that position again. I gave up having a life for myself. I simply existed. I got up, I went to work, I ran errands, I slept, I ate. I wasn’t living. I never dated. But in spite of all of that, I never wanted this life for you. When I thought of you, and it was often, I imagined you happy somewhere with a mate and pups and working on your art. I never thought you’d… I wanted you happy, Dean. I truly, honestly wanted you to have the good life I’d never have.”

Dean wiped a few stray tears away before speaking. “When you said you could remember the last time you took someone to bed by choice, who was that?”

Cas took a deep, shaky breath and released it. His hands were trembling, and silent tears fell. “I think you know the answer to that.”

“All these years?” Dean asked, and Cas simply nodded in reply. “You’ve only been with me? Cas…”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Cas said shortly, brushing the tears away and wiping them off on his pants. “It’s not important how many people I’ve been with. No one appealed to me for so long, I just gave up the dream of ever having a mate and a family.”

“Cas, we can still…”

“Dean, I can’t. Not yet. I just need some time.”

Dean took a tentative step forward, and then another. When Cas didn’t step away from his advances, Dean closed the gap until he was standing a foot in front of him. He brushed a hand over Cas’ arm, and when Cas leaned into his touch, he pulled Cas against his chest and wrapped him in his arms.

“I’ll do whatever you want me to do Cas. I’ll quit the brothel. I’ll leave town and promise to leave you alone forever. Or I’ll stay, and we can try. Cas, I really hope you want to try,” Dean said, running his hands over Cas’ back until the tension melted out of his muscles and his own arms wrapped around Dean.

“I can’t ask you to quit. You need to make a living… But I can’t be with someone who gives themselves to others, so it seems we’re at an impasse.” Cas said finally.

Dean drew in a ragged breath. “I have some savings. I have other skills. I can find something. Cas, if I didn't work at Sweet Surrender, would you want to be with me?”

Cas shrugged and buried his nose in Dean’s neck, breathing in his scent to calm himself. “I can’t just mate you, Dean. We could be completely different people now. It’s been two decades. And… I…”

“Talk to me Cas. Whatever it is, just talk to me.”

“I’m scared. If I lose you again…”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Dean said, firmly.

“You said that last time.”

“I didn’t go by choice. My dad, he wasn’t well. One day he got this bug up his ass, and he packed us up in the middle of the night to move us across the country again. Said he needed to go home and see my mom.”

“But your mom was dead,” Cas said, questioningly.

“Yeah. But he wanted to be close to her again so he could visit the gravesite. Why after years of shuttling us all over the country? I don’t know,” Dean said with a sigh. “But I had no money, no home. You were stuck with your religious nut-ball parents. And I couldn’t leave Sammy with him. You know how my dad was, drinking too much, disappearing to Atlantic City to piss away his paychecks for days at a time. I had to go. Sammy was still a kid.”

“I’d have gone with you,” Cas said, his hands grasping at Dean’s shoulders as he snuffled against Dean’s scent gland again. “I would have run away.”

“I couldn’t ask that of you. My dad…” he sighed. “My dad was an asshole, Cas. I couldn’t have asked you to put up with him, not when happy couples pissed him off more than anything. Losing my mom broke him… it broke him in ways that losing you broke me. And fuck, Cas, I never regretted anything more than I regret the way I left you. I just couldn’t face you. I couldn’t tell you goodbye because I was scared and immature, and I knew I couldn’t look at you and walk away. One look at you and I would have stayed, and I couldn’t leave Sammy with him. I couldn’t be selfish.”

Cas took Dean’s face in his hands and kissed him softly. “Why didn’t you come back for me?”

“I tried, just once” Dean said before scenting Cas for strength. “I waited until Sam went off to Stanford, and I came back. I knocked on your door and your parents… excuse me for saying this, but your parents are assholes. They accused me of corrupting you, turning you gay.” He huffed a little laugh. “Couldn’t believe that you were born the way you are. They told me you left home on your eighteenth birthday and they had no idea whether you were alive or dead, nor did they care. Then they told me to leave or they’d call the cops. Real winners you got there, man.”

“Why didn’t you try to find me? I wasn’t exactly unlisted.”

“Your eighteenth birthday wasn’t too long after I left you, and I remembered what it was like for me. I almost died. I was so grief-stricken without you, I stopped eating. I almost drank myself to death on my dad’s stash one night. I was a mess, and I was the one who did the leaving. You were the one who was rejected, and I was afraid I wouldn’t find you. I was afraid you left your parents house, and God knows what happened to you. I didn’t want to know, Cas. I was a coward.”

Cas nodded. “Ok.”

“That’s it? Ok?”

“Yes. Ok.” cas shrugged. “I forgive you. Nothing can ever take away the pain you caused me, and I don’t have to like the fact that you didn’t try harder, but you were young and I can understand why you caused your actions. We can’t change the past, and I’m exhausted from trying to stay mad at you. So, ok.”

Dean stood silent for a moment, reveling in the fact that Cas was still allowing him to hold him in his arms. “Ok.”

“I want to try, Dean. I want to start over,” Cas said softly. “That means a date. And if that goes well, another date. No more sex. I don’t even think we should kiss while being this biologically compatible. It’s too risky. But we can go out and get to know each other again. We need to be sure about this before we rush into anything.”

Dean’s heart tripped as it sped to a rapid staccato in his chest. Overwhelming happiness washed over him, turning his scent sickly sweet with absolute joy. “I’ll go as slow as you need, Cas.”

Cas untangled their arms and backed up a step. “Also, you’re fired. But if you’re interested, I could use another bartender?”

Dean laughed, his eyes crinkling adorably at the corners. “My regulars won’t be to happy with the change, but yeah. I’ll take you up on that. I don’t think I could go back to what I was doing before anyway. None of them were ever you.” He shrugged and pulled Cas close, kissing him softly.

“Ok, that’s the last one,” Cas said, pushing Dean away by the shoulders. “Slow, Dean.”

“Right. Slow. I got this, Cas,” Dean said with a wink.

“Ok. Get in the car. I’m taking you home so we stick to this,” Cas said with a laugh, walking off to find his keys and wondering how difficult it would be for them to keep their hands to themselves.

Chapter Text

May 1997

It was deceptive, a way of going to the junior prom together without actually going to the junior prom together, but as Castiel adjusted his green tie and watched in the mirror as Dean did the same to the blue one he wore, he just didn’t care. They’d thought of it weeks before when Meg announced that she was wearing a green gown to the dance, giving Cas an excuse to dress to match Dean’s eyes. He was delighted when Dean said he’d dress to match his, since he wasn’t bringing a date to worry about coordinating with.

They’d split a limo with friends, Castiel wedged between Dean and Meg on the seat, thigh pressing against Dean’s the entire ride to the catering hall. Meg was a friend, one of the few Castiel had acquired since starting public school, and the only one who’d picked up on the nature of Dean and Cas’ relationship soon after they’d started seeing each other.

“You basically smell mated, Clarence,” she’d said dryly, one day in study hall. “The stench of apples is all over you, and I only know one Omega around here who smells like apples.”

Castiel hadn’t even denied it. He’d just shrugged and gave his best impression of a sad puppy before saying, “Don’t tell anyone?”

It’d been easy to explain the prom situation after that. Meg hadn’t minded going as his official date since they’d only planned on going as friends anyway, and she even agreed to a quick peck on the lips at the end of the night when the limo dropped him off, for his parents’ sake. She was one of few kids at school who hadn’t grown up bigoted, so all told, it was the best outcome he could have hoped for.

When the limo pulled up in front of the hall, the group poured out of the car, stopping in the lobby to take pictures for the photographer. Cas pretended not to notice the longing in Dean’s eyes as he watched Cas and Meg pose for the camera. It was a longing Cas felt in his very soul. He wished everything were different and they could take the photo together, but this was all for show, something his parents could put on the mantel nestled in with all his siblings’ prom photos.

Dinner was quick, since the school had decided on the buffet option over the sit down service, and before long, the dance floor was filled with writhing, sweaty bodies. Castiel danced with Meg, swaying back and forth to Sarah Mclachlan’s I Will Remember You as it played in all its saccharine glory over the DJ’s speakers. All the while, Dean stood against the wall, watching, his heated eyes never leaving Cas as Cas snuck glances his way every few seconds.

“Go,” Meg said, finally fed up and pushing Cas away by the shoulders. “You don’t have to babysit me, and the stink of all this pining is making me sick.”

“Meg, I’m here with you,” Cas said, pulling her close again reluctantly.

“You asked me to prom before you even met him. I’m your obligation, not your date. Now, go. There’s some really lovely gardens on the grounds here. Show him the statues or something. Make out in the bushes. I’ll be ok,” she urged, giving him a playful shove.

Cas blinked down at her, gratitude curling into his scent, sweetening it with notes of raw honey, and he bent to kiss her forehead. “Thank you.”

He strode over to Dean, the scent of apples enticing him to stand a little too close in order to catch his scent on the air. Had they been someplace more private, he would have gathered Dean up in his arms and kissed the breath out of his lungs like he’d been longing to do all night.

“Come,” Cas said, jerking his head toward the door.

“With any luck, I will be soon,” Dean said with a mischievously arched brow, but he followed as Cas smirked and walked out into the night.

Meg had been right, there were beautiful gardens on the grounds, lit with small, hidden spotlights here and there and embellished with statues and fountains along the gravel path that curved through the lush plant life. The paths were blissfully empty aside from the two of them, and Cas grabbed Dean’s hand and pulled him onto a marble bench. They sat in front of a small fountain that looked suspiciously like The Birth of Venus, but in sculpture form, water spilling from the shell into a shallow pool below. The trickling water and soft lighting lent itself to the overall romance of the gardens and Cas sighed and pressed a kiss to the corner of Dean’s mouth.

“This is nice,” Dean said softly. “I don’t usually go for the cliché, romantic shit, but being here with you… you’re different. I’ll never know what compelled my dad to bring us this far east, but I think I owe him. ”

Cas slid his hand around the back of Dean’s head, fingers threading through the short strands of hair at the nape of his neck. The only sounds were the far off thump of the music inside the dance, the soft tinkle of water coming from the fountain and the pounding of their hearts in their chests as their lips met in a sweet kiss that left them both breathless and wanting.

“I love you, Dean,” Cas whispered against his lips.

“Back at ya Angel,” Dean murmured before pulling Cas flush against him and kissing him forcefully. Off in the distance Nothing Else Matters by Metallica started to play, and Dean broke their kiss. “I love this song. Dance with me?”

Cas allowed himself to be pulled to his feet by the tug of Dean’s hand, then pulled Dean close and began to sway, dipping his head down to scent the overwhelmingly sweet fragrance that was Dean’s happiness wafting into the air around them. Dean pressed a kiss to the shell of Castiel’s ear and began to sing along softly, the lyrics and the rough caress of his voice drawing goosebumps to the surface of Cas’ skin.

“This should be our song,” Castiel said, the words all but lost against the flesh of Dean’s throat as he lowered his lips and sucked hard enough to bring blood blooming to the surface.

Dean nodded in agreement, his chin bumping Cas’ head where it was tucked in against his neck. “Yeah Cas, it’s perfect.”

“I’ll dance with you to this song at our wedding someday, Dean,” Cas said with conviction, and though Dean should be scared of the idea of such a commitment at their age and after only a few months of dating, he believed it and accepted it as truth.

“Cas?” he said, his voice barely above a whisper, continuing after a soft mmm? was hummed against his throat where Cas was breathing him in deeply. “Do you think we’re true mates? I mean, I know we’re too young to know for sure, but do you ever get the feeling that we are?”

Castiel pulled himself away from Dean’s scent gland reluctantly, studying the dark bruise his mouth had left behind. “Yes.” he shrugged, and it was clear that there would be no further commentary. He believed they were true mates with every fibre of his being, and there was no use keeping that to himself. “Don’t you?”

“Abso-fucking-lutely,” Dean said with a wide grin. “I know we’re young, but you’re it for me, Cas. I don’t now how I know it, but I do. Mates, husbands, parents… we’ll have it all some day. Hell, maybe we’ll even get a white picket fence just to rub it in everyone else’s faces how fucking perfect we are.”

Cas laughed and kissed Dean, his heart beating wildly in his chest as he allowed himself to imagine such an idyllic future with Dean. He longed for the day when what his parents thought wouldn’t matter because he’d be a grown up with a mate and a mortgage. The monotony of a nine to five job, a practical car… pups… he wanted it all with the gorgeous omega in his arms.

They danced under the stars, swaying softly long after the song had ended and the rough bass of a hip hop song started to play in its place. Ties were loosened, lips were pressed to bare skin, scents were breathed in, and hips rocked against each other as they teased each other to hardness. When the tension between them had finally reached a breaking point, Cas dragged Dean off the path and into a dark, secluded spot just off the grounds where he knotted him against the largest tree they could find.

Later, as they met up with their friends, Meg hissed, “You smell like sex!” to Cas who just shrugged and slid into the limo next to Dean. If any of their other friends noticed, they didn’t say anything, but most of them were betas, so their sense of smell was nothing like their own or Meg’s.

The limo dropped off the gang one by one to their respective homes, and Meg got out to make a show of kissing Cas goodnight in case his parents were peeking through the curtains. From inside a limo, the low growl of an omega could be heard, and Cas broke the kiss with a laugh.

“Quiet, Omega,” he teased, before wishing everyone a goodnight and walking to his front porch, shaking his head as he imagined how awkward the rest of the ride would be with just Meg and Dean in the backseat.

When he finally slept that night, he dreamed of a gazebo dripping with fairy lights, wisteria and roses, of green eyes and freckles, of a kiss accompanied by a smattering of applause and the soft strains of Nothing Else Matters playing in the distance while he danced with his mate under the stars. He dreamed of a grey beach house and pups with blue eyes and freckles splashing in a kiddie pool, zinc oxide smeared on their tiny noses to protect them from the summer sun.

 

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March 2019

Dean sat in the passenger seat with the window rolled down, his eyes closed and a soft smile on his face as the salty ocean breeze ruffled his hair. He was dressed in Cas’ clothes, borrowed since all he’d been wearing the day he’d landed on the alpha’s doorstep were his tiny green shorts from work. Castiel drove down the nearly empty Parkway, sneaking glances at the omega, all the while catching his scent on the warm spring wind. Dean smelled happy, content, and in turn, Castiel’s own scent sweetened and combined with Dean’s in the air that swirled around them.

“You smell good, Alpha… happy, maybe?” Dean said carefully, his eyes cracking open to catch a glimpse of the flush that was spreading up Castiel’s neck and across his cheeks.

“As do you, Dean,” Cas purred back, shooting Dean the tiniest of grins. “I’m… hopeful, I guess you could say. I hope that this is the beginning of my being happy.”

Dean reached across the seat, laying his hand tentatively in the middle of Cas’ thigh, low enough to be discreet, high enough that the gesture couldn’t quite be mistaken for friendly. “I hope so too, Cas. I want to make you happy.” He squeezed the fleshy thigh for emphasis, his heart doing a little flip when Cas smiled a little at the gesture.

Siri perked up from her perch on the dashboard, insisting that Castiel take the exit into Wildwood where Dean lived, close to work. They fell into companionable silence as the turn by turn directions were called out by the phone, and Castiel parked in the lot of a fairly impressive condo building that overlooked the boardwalk. Castiel suspected it was mostly vacation rentals and fairly quiet this time of year, much like his own town.

“Ocean-front. Was my brother paying you too much?” Cas said with an impressed arch of an eyebrow and a laugh.

“Nah, I bought it, so I don’t pay the ridiculous rental prices this place fetches in the summer. The mortgage is fairly reasonable. I could make a killing if I ever used it as a rental property,” Dean answered with a shrug.

“You’re a home owner? Impressive. You sure he wasn’t paying you too much?” Cas teased.

“What can I say? I’m very good at what I do… popular,” Dean said with a shrug, wincing when Cas’ scent turned a bit sour.

“Was. Past tense. You were good at what you did,” Cas growled, possessively.

“Yeah, Cas, yeah. Sorry. I know, I’m just a lowly bartender now.”

“You’re mine. I don’t share, Omega.” Cas was leaning over the console between the seats, pushing himself into Dean’s space and wrapping one large hand around the back of Dean’s neck.

“Yeah, Alpha, I’m yours. There’s no one else, only you.” Dean went pliant, allowing Cas to pull him close and bury his nose against his neck, breathing in his scent. Almost instantly, Cas relaxed, Dean’s scent calming and grounding him.

“I’m sorry,” Cas murmured, his lips brushing against Dean’s scent gland and making the omega shiver and yearn for more. “You’re not mine. Not yet. I was acting like a neanderthal. My apologies.”

“Cas, It’s ok. I am yours,” Dean said softly, running his hands through the back of Cas’ hair and coaxing him back far enough that they could look into each other’s eyes. “From now on, no matter how long it takes for you to trust me again… to love me again… I’m yours. Even if we have to go on a thousand dates before you’ll even considering making me your mate, I’m yours. There’s no one else I could ever want.”

Cas’ tongue darted out to wet his bottom lip and his eyes flicked down to Dean’s lips, so close and so kissably pink. “You’re making it very hard not to kiss you,” he accused.

“You’re making it very hard not to be kissed.” Dean chuckled, cupping Cas’ cheek and dragging his thumb over Castiel’s lower lip, watching as the alpha’s eyelids fluttered closed under his touch. The urgency of their respective cycles had faded away and with them, the intense heat and need, but in that moment, under each other’s soft touches, Dean could feel heat pooling in his belly and smell Cas’ arousal subtly floating on the air. “If I kiss you, I won’t be able to stop,” Dean admitted. “And I promised you that I could take this slow for you. I have to keep that promise, because I fucked up last time. I can’t fuck up this time.”

Cas kissed the tip of Dean’s thumb, then pushed himself back onto his side of the car. “Yes. Slow. Right. I’ll walk you in,” Cas said, unbuckling his seatbelt and getting out of the car without waiting for an answer so he could breath in the fresh air outside the enclosed vehicle and calm his libido.

Dean followed, coming to stand beside Cas for a moment before leading him into the building. They waited for the elevator, and when it came, Dean punched the button for the fifth floor.

“Top floor. Fancy,” Cas said with a smirk.

“It had the best view,” Dean shrugged, leading Cas into the hallway as the doors opened to his floor. “Do you want to come in?” Dean asked, looking down at his feet, nervously. Dean shuffled on the welcome mat, the soles of his slightly too big, borrowed shoes scratching against the fibers. “I mean, it’s not much, but it’s home.”
Castiel waited until Dean found the courage to look back up at him before speaking. “I’d love to see where you live, Dean.”

Dean turned his key in the lock, then led Castiel inside, flipping a switch to turn on the light in the entryway. Castiel looked around, noting the neat way Dean’s shoes were lined up by the floor and how his keys had a hook of their own, right next to where his jackets hung. A large mirror hung over little entry table with a pile of mail on it that Ellen had been collecting while Dean had been staying at Castiel’s place.

Dean kicked off his boots, Cas following suit, then Dean led Cas into the living room, holding his arms out. “Living room, dining room combo. The kitchen is over there,” he pointed and Castiel turned, noting the small, but updated kitchen. It was clean and tidy, nary a dirty dish in sight.

The living space was masculine, and decorated simply. A few bookcases stood in the living room filled with books and framed photos, nothing on the walls aside from a large, flat screen TV. A set of french doors led out to a small balcony that overlooked the beach. Cas could see a pair of chairs on the balcony facing the water, and his heart clenched as he wondered who sat by Dean’s side out there in all the years they’d been apart.

The walls were a cool, slate blue, and the floors were a dark hardwood. In the center of the living room, a large, comfortable looking sectional sofa sat, blankets spread across the back of it. It was a very inviting piece of furniture that seemed to beckon to Cas to sink into the cushions and watch movies all day with Dean. Maybe one day, he’d be able to indulge in such a thing without worrying about keeping his hands from wandering.

He followed Dean down the hall, poking his head into a modest bathroom, and into Dean’s bedroom, careful to stay in the doorway rather than venture too close to the bed. It was sparsely decorated in muted blues and grays, and rather small, but on par with the rest of the house in neatness. The bed was made, and the room was clutter-free.

“It’s nice… cozy.” Castiel said.

Dean shrugged. “Cozy is just another word for small. I use the small bedroom to sleep, because really, who needs a massive bedroom? The master is where I work on my art. More space and the attached bathroom is handy for rinsing brushes.”

Castiel looked up at him sharply, a wide grin on his face. “You’re still an artist?”

Dean scratched the back of his neck nervously and frowned. “Yeah. I did manage to keep one of my promises to you.”

“Can I see your studio?” Cas asked eagerly.

Dean smiled and nodded. “It’s kind of messy, but yeah.”

Dean led Castiel to the closed door across the hall from his bedroom. When he turned on the light, Castiel’s eyes went wide. The room was full of easels, canvases, paints, brushes, pads and pads of drawing paper and drawers and shelves filled with supplies. There were pencils, both granite and colored and wooden pastel boxes that Cas could only assume held the intended medium in their many shallow drawers. Under an easel in the center of the room, a drop cloth covered the floor to protect it from paint splatter, and the thing looked like a Jackson Pollack piece in its own right.

At the back of the room, there was a set of sliding glass doors, which must have been wonderful for letting in the natural light, and the walls were painted a simple pale gray. A few finished pieces hung on the walls, paintings and drawings alike, one in particular catching Castiel’s eye.

“It’s us,” he said softly as he stepped closer to the portrait that hung prominently in the center of one wall.

It was a simple pencil portrait, beautiful even it its monochromatic color scheme. They were forehead to forehead, eyes closed, just a whisper away from a kiss, and it took Cas’ breath away to look at it. He remembered the photograph it was drawn from distinctly, since a framed copy of it sat in a box somewhere in his new home. He’d never had the heart to get rid of it. It was taken one of the days they’d spent camping, the photograph taken on a disposable camera held in Dean’s own outstretched arm. A selfie before cell phone selfies became ridiculously popular.

“Yeah, I drew that about a year ago. I was going through this old shoe box full of stuff from my childhood, stuff I kept because it was important. An old necklace Sammy gave me, matchbooks from shitty motels we stayed at… and there was this picture in there of us and I just had to draw it,” Dean said, drawing closer to stand at Cas’ side, pressing in until they were shoulder to shoulder.

“It’s beautiful,” Cas murmured softly.

“I never forgot you Cas. Thought about you all the time. Always wondered where you were and if you were happy. I wanted you to be happy,” Dean said, laying a hand on Castiel’s lower back out of the sudden overwhelming need to touch him.

Castiel turned to Dean and took a step closer. “You’re still making it exceptionally difficult to stick to the no kissing rule,” he said with a smirk.

“You’re still making it exceptionally difficult to keep my promise,” Dean teased, reaching out and pulling Cas even closer. He bent slowly, carefully, giving Cas time to pull away and when he didn’t, Dean leaned in and scented his neck, breathing in cinnamon, honey and the sweet scent of contentment.

Cas laughed and pushed Dean away by his shoulders, leaning in for a quick sniff, then stepping away. “I’m going home before I do something I’ll regret. I’ll see you at work tomorrow?”

Dean pouted, his bottom lip sticking out exaggeratedly. “Yeah, I’ll see you there. I kind of want to come in early to watch you break it to Jo that she has to train me on how to make all those fancy drinks.”

Cas smiled, then leaned in to press a kiss to Dean’s cheek as Dean huffed in disappointment that it hadn’t been his lips. “Can I take you out after work? Maybe to a late dinner?”

“Yeah, Cas. Of course,” Dean said, walking Cas back to the front door. “I’d offer to walk you down, but then you’d just offer to walk me back to my door and you’d never get out of here,” he joked.

Castiel just smiled. The idea of staying with Dean for the rest of the day was all too tempting, but he had things to do, having lost a few days to the haze of lust they’d found themselves in. In the end, he simply kissed Dean on the cheek again, squeezed his hand and murmured a sad goodbye.

Castiel went home to his empty bed, and looked at it with disdain. He hated that Dean wasn’t there to share his space, and he hated himself for hating it. It was too easy to fall back under Dean’s spell again, and their biological compatibly was making their brief separation far more difficult than he was prepared for. His heart ached a little from loneliness, and he knew his body chemistry was thrown off. He felt mated, which meant Dean was probably going through the same thing. His alpha instincts cried out for him to return to Dean for comfort, but instead, he retreated to his bedroom to take care of the mess they’d left behind.

His sheets were covered in their combined scents and fluids, and as much as Castiel wanted to, he couldn’t bring himself to change them and put fresh ones on. Instead, he threw open the sliding door to let in some fresh air, curled up in the bedding, and breathed in the warm, calming scent of fresh apple pie before drifting off to sleep with a pulse of mate steadily repeating in his head.

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“There’s a freaking guidebook right under the counter,” Dean whined as Jo showed him how to make the 30th drink in an hour. “I can look stuff up.”

“I’m just teaching you the most popular drinks, and the specials. If you can’t handle it, how are you supposed to tend this bar?” Jo snapped impatiently.

Dean rolled his eyes in protest. “When it’s busy, there’s ten people in here, max. Those ten people buy a drink or two, then they’re off to get laid. This ain’t rocket science, kid.”

“Oh, my job is so trivial? Then why are there suddenly two of us back here?” Jo challenged, one sassy hand on perched on her narrow hip.

“Because… I… shit,” Dean threw his hands up and stalked into Castiel’s office.

“Hello Dean,” Cas all but purred from behind his computer screen, his blue eyes flashing with happiness as he laid eyes on Dean, in all his fury.

“This is ridiculous,” Dean said, continuing when Cas only raised a brow in question. “We don’t need another bartender. Why are you doing this?”

Cas sucked in a deep breath and released it slowly. “Because you’re mine, and you want to earn a living. Because I could use another bartender to handle things when Jo isn’t here. It’s not fair to have the rest of the staff mixing drinks during the slower periods when they should be focusing on their own jobs, so I’d like to have a bartender here as often as possible. There are only two of you at once until your training is complete, then you’ll be on your own during your shifts. And because this place can afford to create the position.”

“Even without me turning tricks? I was the top earner, Cas, and you know it,” Dean said, eyebrow raised in challenge.

“Your previous position will be filled. Even an average earner will be sufficient. As a former accountant who has been poring over the books all day, I can honestly say that this establishment is incredibly viable, and the summer crowd is a few months away. You’ve seen my inheritance. Gabriel ran a good business. Now, get back to work, Omega.” He grinned up at Dean when he saw there was no fight left in him, chuckling as Dean turned on his heel and stalked back to the bar.

The afternoon was fairly peaceful. Castiel worked on the books and read through employee files, familiarizing himself with everything he could about his new job, and Dean continued to train with Jo, their sniping loud enough to entertain Cas all the way in his office. A few clients came in, drinks were served, dances performed on the pole, rooms were occupied, money was exchanged. It was all very routine.

Night still fell a bit early this time of year, the darkness bringing clients in earlier in the evening, and by 8PM the bar was lined with paying customers. Castiel finished up in the office and took an open stool at the end, opting to observe Dean and have a drink while he waited for his not-quite-boyfriend to finish his shift at 9:00 so they could have a late diner together.

He watched as Dean served drinks, obviously a fast learner for all his previous complaints. He watched as Dean laughed off advances from the customer, stating “I’m just a barkeep now, man,” quite a few times. It worked for the most part, the clients turning their attention to the available prostitutes on the pole or working the room in their skimpy outfits.

Then, when there was a mere fifteen minutes left in his shift, one of Dean’s regulars sidled up to the bar and ordered a whiskey, neat, all the while, looking Dean up and down with hungry eyes.

“That’s a new look for you, sweet cheeks,” the man all but growled as he took in the faded jeans and plain black tee shirt Dean had thrown on before work. Dean’s face was free of makeup, the only embellishment the natural smattering of freckles across his nose and cheeks.

“Position change,” Dean said with a shrug, setting the shot glass in front of the decidedly smarmy man.

“I take it you don’t mean the sexy kind. I do recall you getting into some rather tricky positions over the years,” the man said, wiggling his eyebrows.

“I’m not doing that anymore, man. You have to find a new omega,” Dean said simply, fixing a drink that no one asked for in a desperate need to make himself look busy. He took the cranberry and vodka to Cas and set it down in front of him. “There’s not a lot of liquor in there ‘cause I know you have to drive, but just sip it slow and pretend to be interested in what I’m saying,” he whispered, leaning close so Cas could hear him.

“I can ask him to leave if he’s making you uncomfortable,” Cas offered. “Perks of being the boss.”

Dean shook his head. “Nah. He’s made me uncomfortable for years. I just want to avoid him now, at least until he gets used to the idea that he can’t buy me anymore.”

“Let me know if that changes. The omega down the end of the bar has an empty glass and an impatient look on their face,” Cas said, urging Dean back to work.

“Bossy, bossy,” Dean mumbled, making his way to the omega and taking her drink order.

As he was mixing a martini Al, his regular, spoke up again, “Come on, Dean-O. You’ll never make the kind of money you made with that sweet ass of yours by slinging drinks. What do you say we get a room and you let me fill you up the way you always beg me to?”

Dean snorted a laugh and turned toward the man. “Guess now’s as good a time as any to let you know that I only begged because you paid me to, Alpha.”

Al stood up in a rush, his barstool clattering loudly to the floor in his haste. “You listen here, whore! You can’t fake the way you wanted me. No one is that good an actor.”

Cas had also risen to his feet by this point and was moving toward the man, stopping only when Dean held up a hand to signal that he had the situation under control. He stopped, but refused to move back to his seat, staying poised for a fight from only a few feet away.

“Let me ask you, Al, in all the years you’ve come in here and paid for the privilege to fuck me, did I ever come?” Dean asked, cockily.

Al stuttered, then reddened in anger, reaching across the bar and yanking Dean by his shirt until he was bent over the bar top. “I’ll fuck the cum out of you right now, right in front of all of these people just to wipe that self-important look off your smug little face!”

The hands gripping Dean’s shirt let go suddenly as Al was pulled away from the bar and shoved toward the middle of the room. In an instant, Cas had placed himself between Dean and the other man, a deep growl rumbling in his chest.

“Cas,” Dean called, but Castiel ignored him.

“Get out,” Cas rumbled as the other man crouched down as if to pounce.

“Who the hell are you?” Al snarled, stepping into Cas’ personal space, the reek of wood smoke and anger filling Cas’ nostrils.

“I’m the owner of this establishment, and the future mate of the omega you’re harassing,” Cas said firmly, his hands curling into tight fists, preparing for a fight.

Dean stood still behind the bar, startled into inaction as Cas’ words really sank in. Future mate. He had hoped Cas saw him that way, but now he knew for sure. The realization made him snap into action, and he rounded the bar, stepping up to put his hands against the chests of the two alphas in an attempt to separate them and keep Cas safe.

“Hey! Cas! Calm down, Angel,” Dean said soothingly as he pushed Al away and placed himself between them where he could cup Cas’ face and force eye contact. “Hey,” he said softly as Cas’ eyes met his. “Stop, baby. Stop. I’m yours. He doesn’t matter and never did.”

Dean kissed his forehead and Cas leaned in to scent him, enjoying the way their calmed scents intermingled and warm, spicy apple pie began to permeate the space around them.

“True mates,” Al grumbled, turning away from the scene before him in defeat and begrudging acceptance, and leaving the brothel altogether.

“Punch out,” Cas commanded, his tone still a bit rough with residual ire. “We’re getting out of here. I owe you a date.”