Dean's half way through laundry mountain when the sound of his cell ringing gives him the excuse he was looking for to take a break.
"Hey Sammy! What's up?"
"Honestly? Not much. Just work, work, and oh yeah, more work. I was really just calling to check in and see how everything's going."
"Eh, as well as can be expected. I've only got two residents at the moment, but I got a call about a third. A pregnant Omega looking for help getting on his feet so he can keep his kid."
"Damn, sounds rough. Hope it all works out and everything, but I was talking about you Dean? You still dating that Beta, what's her name...Lisa?"
"Nah man. She wasn't really looking for anything serious. We had our fun til she found an Alpha to run off with. I was getting ready to move on myself, so no biggie. You know I'm not really a relationship kind of guy anyway."
"Aw man Dean, I'm sorry. I know you liked her. Although you're right about one thing. I do know you. Better than anyone really and if ever someone was the relationship type, it's you. I don't know why you act like it's some big secret that you really have an ooey gooey center under all that tough guy crap."
"Well shit, Sam. Tell me how you really feel."
"Ugh sorry, sorry. I just...I just want you to be happy man."
Dean lets out a long sigh. He's been getting the same phone call for the last two years.
"I am happy, Sammy. I've got Matty and I love my work. I've got great friends and a roof over my head. I'm good . So stop worrying your pretty little Alpha head over my relationship status and focus on getting some time off to come visit us. I think Matty's grown three inches since you saw him last."
"Really? Wow, maybe he'll be tall like his favorite uncle then."
Dean can hear the smug tone coming over the phone line and rolls his eyes. He's an Omega for Christ’s sake. He doesn't understand the joy his little brother gets from rubbing in his superior height. As an Alpha, Sam was supposed to be taller than Dean.
As it stands Dean was already big for an Omega. The doctors had said it was likely due to losing his ovaries at such a young age. It threw his hormones out of whack and allowed his testosterone to enhance his growth.
Not that Dean was complaining. His size made it a lot easier to play the field. And yeah sure, he may have dreamed of one day having a life with a mate and pups of his own, but that's not the hand he was dealt.
Alphas had no interest in mating a broken Omega, but that had only given Dean the opportunity to explore his options. And holy shit did he explore. Men, women, Alphas, Betas, other Omegas… If they were looking for a good time (and not complete assholes), Dean was willing.
It was adopting Matty, almost three years ago now, that had finally settled him down a bit.
Dean realized his thoughts were drifting as Sam's voice crackled over the line.
"I'll try to get out there this summer. I miss you guys. I've got to go, but tell Matty I love him and I'll try to see him soon."
"Yeah, yeah, ok. Talk to ya' later bitch."
"Have a nice day jerk."
Dean chuckled to himself as he set about getting a room ready for the newest Omega being sent his way.
Last year, with the help of his friend Kevin, he had managed to register as a 501(c)(3) non profit, which qualified his halfway home for a grant through the Department of Human Services.
Basically, they provided much needed funds and sent him the Omegas most in need. He was proud to be able to house up to five Omegas at a time. Some only stayed long enough to contact out-of-state relatives or friends before moving on. Some stayed long enough to have a pup or heal after making the tough decision that they weren't ready to be a parent.
There was no judgement here. Only a network of support to help those who needed it most.
Over the last three years that Dean's been running the place, he's made a lot of interesting friends and contacts. That includes his best friend and most badass ally, Charlie.
She helped him with all kinds of stuff, including finding jobs that would take unmated Omega parents, safe housing, and even set up adoption interviews for those that chose to find a new home for their pup.
That's how Matty had come into his life.
Dean had only been eight years old when the car accident that took his father's life had also taken his ability to carry life. He was lucky to even be alive and with full motor capabilities. In the end, all he had to show for the accident was a few nasty scars, a dead father, and an empty womb.
The first year he opened Winchester's Home for Unmated Omegas, he had exactly two live-in residents. One was a twitchy kid named Kevin, who needed help to escape an arranged mating by his overbearing Alpha mom. He became a permanent house guest and often helped Dean with paperwork and odd jobs in exchange for living with him rent free.
The other resident had been a sweet young woman named Alex, who showed up on his doorstep eight months pregnant and clutching his ad from the local paper. She had trusted her Alpha boyfriend to stick around after she found out she was pregnant, but he left her high and dry and with no family to fall back on.
She already knew she wanted to find a family that could take care of her pup but didn't know where to start. So Dean had made a few calls and after talking to a friend of a friend of a friend, he met Charlie.
She had been exhausting to handle at first but she was so excited about what Dean was trying to do with the home, that she offered her services pro bono until he could get his funding locked down. It didn't take long for her to grow on him like a little sister he never knew he wanted.
Charlie had set up interview after interview with prospective parents, but Alex couldn't settle on any of them.
By the time Matthew was born, Alex was desperate to leave, but didn't want to abandon her pup to the foster system. So Dean offered to care for the boy and find him a home in her stead.
She waived her parental rights the next day, caught a bus to California, and Dean became the guardian of a two week old pup. Alex did leave behind a way to contact her so he could let her know when he found a home for Matthew.
It only took a week for Dean to fall head over heels for the boy. He had never been so nervous as when he made the call to Alex about adopting Matthew himself. Alex was thrilled that Dean wanted to keep Matty and gave him her blessing immediately. Technically, Dean could have gone through with the adoption even without Alex's seal of approval, but it had been important to him to contact her first.
She chose to keep the adoption closed but, with her permission, Dean sends her a card every year with a picture of Matty inside.
He will always love her for giving him the chance to be a dad.
The only thing that seemed to be missing from his life was a mate to share it with.
All throughout setting up the new Omega's room, Dean found his mind wandering to thoughts of finding a mate that would accept both him and his son.
Castiel felt sick, and this time it wasn't morning sickness. It was desperation that finally had him walking into the welfare office to beg for help.
Ever since he found out he was pregnant four months ago, his world had been crumbling down around him. Not that it was so great before, but at least he had food and shelter. If he was honest with himself, the problem had started long before he became pregnant.
As far back as Castiel could remember, he knew he was different from most Omegas. When puberty hit and all the Alphas at school had still smelled off putting and wrong , it had only cemented the fact that there was something broken in him.
When he had tried to come out to his parents, telling them he was attracted to other Omegas, they had scoffed and said it was a silly phase and that he would grow out of it when he met the right Alpha.
From that point on, his life had been one long stream of blind dates set up by his parents. In the last year, they had grown desperate and started setting him up with Betas as well. That's how he had met Aaron. He was nice enough and Cas did enjoy his company even if he didn't find him sexually appealing.
He thought he could tolerate sharing a home and a life with someone he considered, at the very least, a good friend. In order to stay in his parents’ good graces, he would have to do more than just find a "suitable" mate. He would be expected to provide heirs as well.
Castiel had always wanted pups and when he realized he preferred Omegas to Alphas, he had worried that dream would never become a reality. He may not get aroused by Aaron, but he didn't need to be turned on sexually for his future mate to get him pregnant.
Betas have a much smaller success rate with impregnating their mates, but he was confident with time and the best doctors available to them, they would manage.
It had never really occurred to Castiel that he could defy his parents. After all he never had before.
He had been shopping when it happened.
His heat had come out of nowhere, ten days early and harsher than ever. It slammed into him hard, leaving him breathless, panting, and needy in the middle of the store. Alone and unprotected.
It hadn't taken long for an Alpha to find him.
A week later he was dumped at the entrance to the local hospital.
They had administered emergency contraceptives, treated him for dehydration, and sent him home. Just another day, just another poor Omega who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He had no memory of his assault. No memory of who the Alpha was or what happened. Castiel could feel himself slipping away. His appetite waned, his sleep became restless, and leaving the house was a chore he couldn't bother with most days.
A month later found Cas throwing up for the third morning in a row with dread clutching his heart.
He was pregnant with a stranger's pup.
Cas didn't say a word to anyone about his discovery. His family was aware of what had happened to him, and he knew they would all expect him to terminate. It was the logical choice to make, but Castiel hesitated at the thought. He couldn't even remember the Alpha’s scent, let alone his face or the sound of his voice.
The pup hadn't done anything wrong. The Alpha that attacked him may be a part of the pup genetically, but so was Castiel.
This was his pup and no one else's.
At least he had blacked out for this pup's conception. If he mated with Aaron he would be subjected to many nights of unwanted copulation.
Could he give up a pup that was already growing in him when there was no guarantee that Aaron could give him one?
He knew the answer deep down in his gut. Still, he took his time, trying to avoid the fallout he knew was coming.
When he told his parents about the pup, they had reacted just as Castiel had predicted -- furious that Castiel had waited so long to tell them and insistent that he take care of it. And quick, before it became gossip for the neighbors.
Aaron, on the other hand, sat quietly through his confession. He only asked one question.
"What do you plan to do about it, Castiel?"
Cas looked at the man he thought of as a friend. The person he had been ready to tie his life to just to please his parents and hide who he truly was inside.
"Aaron, listen. I want you to know that your friendship has meant a great deal to me this last year, and I know this affects us both as you are my intended mate, but...I...I plan...I plan to keep it."
Aaron gave a humorless chuckle before standing up, calmly wishing Castiel good luck, and walking out the door.
That was that.
Aaron had made his choice. But so had Castiel.
For the first few weeks, his parents had tried to argue with him, tried to sway him to change his mind. The arguing had turned into demands which led to the ultimatum .
Terminate his pregnancy, or be cut off from his family.
He would have no access to the home he lived in his entire live or the funds his family provided. If he walked out the door, he would not be allowed to return.
Cas left and didn't look back.
He had a couple of friends willing to let him stay with them. At least he did until they found out why his parents had cut him off. Soon it seemed all his friends were gone... if they had ever really been his friends to begin with.
He had been working as a secretary at a prestigious law firm in the city, but a call from his dad had him unemployed in no time. They had a certain image to uphold, he had been informed, and a pregnant Omega with no mate was not the first thing they wanted clients seeing when they walked in.
He had a small nest egg he was able to pull from. Seeing as his parents’ money had been paying for most of his living expenses, he had been saving his wages to put toward his new life with Aaron.
Castiel knows now that he had been spoiled and naive in his thinking. The world was quick to show him the reality of his situation.
He was able to rent a small hotel room by the week but it wasn't cheap and it wasn't sustainable.
He needed work and soon.
But no one would hire him once they found out about the pup, and he was legally obligated to inform all potential employers of his condition.
By the time he walked into the welfare office, he had been sleeping on the streets for weeks and food was becoming scarcer by the day. The Omega doctor at the free clinic warned him that being unmated would put a big enough strain on his pup as is. If he became malnourished as well, chances were high he would lose his pup before it was even born.
It was terror that drove Cas to seek help from the one place he never thought he'd need it. It was pride and years of listening to his father rant about "lazy welfare Omegas" that had kept him away until now. But Castiel refused to let his pride be the death of his pup.
After filling out stacks of paperwork and sitting through two separate interviews, he was given the address for a halfway home that specialized in helping Omegas in his type of situation.
If he wanted the spot, it was his. Room and board would be provided, and they would help set him up with an employer and safe stable housing after his pup was born.
Castiel had broken down right there in the middle of the little cubicle the intake worker called an office. Fuck his pride, this woman was basically saving his life and the life of his pup. He wished he could hug her but he wasn't sure if that was allowed.
After getting the info he needed and a bus pass, the woman, Meg, informed him that she would be his case worker and if any issues arose to contact her directly. She'd also be checking in from time to time to see how he was doing. Cas did hug her then, and she gave him a gruff pat on the back and sent him on his way.
He gathered his meager possessions and headed off to find Winchester's Home for Unmated Omegas.
Hope was flickering in his chest for the first time since he stepped outside his parents' door.
Maybe having a life of his own was not so impossible after all.