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let me perish young

Chapter Text

Castiel can remember Rome's glory days. He fought in Alexander's army. He was with Gilgamesh when the legend sought Enkidu, though that part is left out of the tale.

In all his millennia, Castiel has never looked upon another being and felt such a sharp want.

He is a myth among his own kind. The stories paint him as the oldest of all, the most powerful, ancient enough to stand in the sun and not burn.

(In all honesty, he can only survive sunlight because Apollo had a thing for him.)

Castiel could easily take command of all the vampires in North America. From there, the world itself would be as simple as stepping outside in the morning. He has stayed out of politics, though, because he doesn't want to rule. Has never wanted to rule. He'd have set himself up as the Eternal Emperor instead of Julius Caesar, if he'd wanted such power. Uriel took care of that, though, when his pet mortal led a revolt and Julius bled to death in front of his dearest companion, by his companion's own hand.

And these two 'wolves, they are his. He knows it the moment he sees them, catches their scent on the chilly autumn breeze, trails them into Starbucks. They are young, by his count. Humans would consider them adult, and 'wolves think them adolescent—mid-to-late-twenties, sure of themselves and their strength, determined to make their own way in the world.

Any vampire who sees them will want them. Will chain them and force them to heel. Will break them into guard dogs and nothing else, except maybe a pleasure slave to scratch an itch on cold days. There's a streak of darkness in them that's obvious to an ancient. One day, after a few centuries, they will be a force to be feared. Maybe even in a decade, with the proper tutelage.

He should take them now, while they're young and impatient and haven't learned better. 'Wolves don't need a vampire for survival. Most don't want one. But these two, they're alone. No alpha has taken them in, claimed them. They're fair game to anyone.

The elder meets his eye across the coffee shop, predator to predator, and doesn't duck his head. That'll get him killed soon enough, when someone far more interested in protocol than Castiel crosses their path. And the younger 'wolf, he glances over for just a moment before his eyes widen and he hisses, "Dean, that's an Old One."

Well. The pup knows age when he sees it. Even most vampires don't recognize Castiel for what he is. None of them can tell his power with a look.

"We have to get out of here," the pup says, clutching his brother's sleeve. "Dean, now."

It doesn't matter where they flee; he's scented them and he'll track them. They're his. And he'll claim them before Alistair or Azazel even gets a whiff of them on the wind. Those two are twisted, the type of vampire that gives all their kind a bad name. Both cause pain purely for the sheer enjoyment of it, and they wouldn't understand the gift in these 'wolf brothers.

Dean meets his eyes again, head raised defiantly. Castiel smirks. He won't break them; he'll mold them instead, his pack of two, his clan of 'wolves.

The younger 'wolf again tugs on Dean's shirt, but Dean replies, "No, Sammy."

And Dean, bold like only the truly young can be, strides straight to Castiel, head held high. He won't submit until Castiel has earned it, has proven himself worthy. And his brother follows him without hesitating, despite his earlier apprehension.

Castiel watches, already proud of them. In time, they will be the greatest of all 'wolves—and they will be his.

Chapter Text

So, Jake doesn't like to talk about it (at all) but he's really fucking old. Jessica, who he calls sister is actually his second-to-last descendent, from the one kid he managed to have way back when before he got turned.

(He's never actually forgiven his sire for that. He spent centuries being tired, so weary and heartbroken, and no matter how fast or strong or kickass his senses are, it doesn't make up for all the pain.)

Jake has never turned anybody, not a single childe in almost five thousand years. He's actually considered a legend by his kind, a myth just like his sire (who only ever turned one person).

He's thought about telling his team, more than once. Explain that he's older than any language spoken, explain that Jess is barely related to him and he's taking care of her because it keeps him human, explain away all the quirks that make him him.

Explain that he hates Wade so goddamned much because of something that happened back before Rome fell, when the man was alpha of a werewolf pack that ripped apart a human village and Jake's (great-great-great-great so on and so forth) grandson fell victim to the raid.

Jake's sire saved his granddaughter from the massacre and that's the only reason Jess and Jilly even exist.

But things keep stopping him. He hasn't felt like he belonged anywhere in twenty centuries. The vampires don't even know he's alive, the werewolves would either hunt him or shun him, and humans—well. He's too smart, he doesn't care enough about what anyone thinks, and he looks like he's twenty-five on a good day. Other days, he seems to be barely legal. It's a problem. At least his sire looks thirty, so no one ever gives him shit. But Jake, oh no, he's immortalized as twenty-four.

For the time, that was very old in human years. Nowadays, though? He looks like a goddamned infant.

No on respects him, not vampires or werewolves or humans. But over a few years (an eyeblink) he earns his team's respect. He's never good enough to attract attention because, under this name, he's the computer-genius comic relief. Roque's the muscle, Cougar's the silent threat never seen coming, Pooch is the all-around nice guy, and Clay's the leader. Jake is simply the kid brother, no more, no less.

(So much more. He's probably the second-most dangerous being on the planet and to look at him, no one'd ever know it.)

And there's Bolivia, then there's Aisha (she's so young, just a pup, and if Jake had known that Al-Fadhil was a 'wolf, he'd have somehow gone in himself, not let Clay into the den), and then Roque betrays them for—what? Money? Jake has more stashed than even the wealthiest royals of Europe have ever seen, and Roque signs all their death warrants for a plane-full of cash.

(If Aisha hadn't shown up when she did, Jake would have torn his way through Max's guards, ripped out Wade's throat, and then gone for Max. )

And now, one of his sire's enemies has allied with Max. Jake hasn't been close enough to figure out for sure, but he thinks Max might be a vampire. He certainly knows about them, and werewolves, because all the safe-houses Jake's found have wards up against both species, and guards armed with the one thing that kills either: silver. Not just any silver, though; it's gotta be old and pure. And Jake's almost positive that silver wouldn't work on him or his sire, not that he's ever tested it.

No one is safe, either way, so Jake steps out of Jessica's house, where the team is resting for a moment, and reluctantly dials his sire's number.

(Being able to go out in sunlight is impossible for all but two vampires, and is the sole reason Jake didn't find a way to die all those eons ago when his sire pulled him close and drank him down.

His sire used to say that Apollo liked him. Jake thinks it might actually be because his sire was the first of them all.)

And when his sire answers, the first time Jake's heard his voice since America decided to give Britain the finger, Jake says, "Hey, Cas, we've got a problem."

Aisha is showing Jilly a move that'll disable an attacker three times her size. Pooch is cuddling with Jolene while holding their son. Clay is setting out the things he'll need to toss together some spaghetti. Cougar is checking all his guns, keeping them in top shape for the next time he needs to kill someone an impossible distance away.

And Jake, the lucky bastard, is explaining to his sire that an evil genius, who may or may not be a vampire, has joined forces with Azazel and the world will probably end soon because of it.

Jake looks up at the sky, where the sun shines bright and high. He's got no choice now. Castiel( who somehow manages to be his least- and most-favorite person at the same time) will be arriving within the day, accompanied by the first strays he's taken in since Jake, brother 'wolves capable of putting Castiel on his back two in ten times. Jake can do it maybe eight, and that's after over four thousand years of practice.

He slips his phone in his pocket, takes an deep(unnecessary) breath, and goes back inside.

Chapter Text

On the whole, Dean hates vampires more than… well, anything. A vampire killed Mom when Dean was almost five and Sammy still a helpless pup. Dad dedicated all three of their lives to hunting that bastard down, but a quarter century later, they still have nothing to show for it: Dad's dead, and so are most of the 'wolves they've ever run with.

Dad taught them two ways to kill a vampire. The first is easier: a deathblow to the heart with something pure silver. And it has to be a deathblow on the first try, because vampires are just as fast and just as strong as werewolves. The one true advantage werewolves have is being able to go out in the sun.

The second way is far more fun, and that's ripping out a vampire's throat to stun the fucker, and then tearing open the ribcage to devour the heart. Sam's too squeamish to do that one, but Dean…

Castiel's whole face lights up the first time Dean plays with one of Alistair's minions. It's the closest thing to an expression Dean's ever seen on his face.

o0o

There's some masterplan of Castiel's that neither Dean nor Sam is privy to. Sam's scoured the library and told Dean what little of Castiel's past he's put together.

Castiel is really fucking old. He's what other vampires mean when they say the first or ancient. He's never, in all the history Sam can find, taken in anyone. He may have sired someone four thousand years ago, but Sam's not sure. Between then and now, though, he didn't adopt strays.

And Dean and Sam aren't just decorations for him, or guard dogs, or fucktoys. He's training them in history and languages, and refining what Dad taught them. He's had fifty centuries of experience, after all, not just a tour in the marines.

Before Castiel, Dean and Sam were deadly to just about anything that wasn't a thousand years old. But now he's taught them to destroy Old Ones, his own kind, the most dangerous beings in the world.

Dean's only ever bared his throat to Dad, but he fully submits to Castiel. He despises vampires on principle, because of what happened to Mom and how they treat 'wolves and because they smell like disease. (Except Cas, for some reason. Castiel, the only thing except Dad he's ever given way to, smells like a bright spring morning, and Dean's not sure why. Sam described Castiel's scent as warm cookies straight from the oven, so they're both pretty sure it's a psychological thing. Sam suggested it was because they've both accepted him as their alpha.)

Anyway. Something is about to happen because Castiel got a call this morning and vanished into his basement. Dean took that as a signal to start packing, and Sam must have, too, because he drops a full duffle next to Dean's in the den. They settle next to each other on the couch and wait.

o0o

Castiel, being richer than God, has a private jet. Dean clenches his fingers into fists during take-off and tries not to panic. Sam leans in close and whispers in his ear, a soothing rumble that almost calms him. He focuses on his brother's scent, but it's not enough, not this time. Too much has happened in the last year, Dad and Castiel and some war he didn't even sign up to fight.

Sam nips at the back of his neck, vying with panic for his attention, but Dean closes his eyes as panic wins out and unconsciousness looms.

And then Castiel is there, one hand tight around his throat, and he says quietly, "Listen to me, childe."

Dean opens his eyes to Castiel kneeling between his legs, face-to-face, and demanding his undivided attention.

"I," Castiel tells him softly, so softly, "am your alpha. I am your sire, your master, your general and your king. You belong to me in every way, by my choice and your willing consent."

He can't look away from Castiel's eyes, blue as the sky and just as endless. They're not on a plane, thousands of feet from the ground. Sam's not curled up next to him, worried and hurt that he wasn't enough. He and Castiel are somewhere else, somewhere dark and quiet and warm and safe.

And Dean's not panicking anymore.

"Good boy," Castiel purrs, pulling him down for a biting kiss.

o0o

Five hours into the flight, while Dean's still mostly in the quiet place, Castiel explains what the fuck they're doing.

"My childe called," Castiel says. Dean's curled up as wolf, his head on Castiel's lap. One of Castiel's hands rubs Dean's ears while the other tangles with Sam's fingers. "Azazel has allied with one of Jakob's enemies."

Dean snarls; Castiel ignores him and continues, "Jakob cannot get close enough to ascertain if Max is a vampire, and when he realized that Azazel had joined forces with him, my childe decided that he needed my help."

He tightens his grip on both of them when he says, "You must play nice with him. He was first and will always be special to me. But the two of you are mine, as well."

Sam nods. "Of course, Cas. He's part of the pack."

It takes a moment before Dean chuffs out an assent, but Castiel smiles down at him in understanding.

o0o

After he jumps off the plane to land on the tarmac, Dean stretches and lets the wind blow through his fur for a minute, shaking out the worst of the trembles. Fuck, but he hates flying almost as much as he hates any vampire that's not Cas. Probably not as much as he'll hate Jakob, though. Cas is his, damnit. And Jakob, he's got thousands of years of history with Castiel that Dean just can't begin to equal.

Sam shifts and nudges him, so Dean bounds away. Sam follows, snapping at his tail.

And Castiel just watches, a tiny little smile on his face.

Chapter Text

Jensen wasn't supposed to care about them. He was bored, so he signed up for the army. He was good with computers, so they 'trained' him as a tech. A black-ops guy, normal, almost always the youngest of the team… human. Young. Damn, but he's good.

He never cared about the teams until Colonel Clay. Roque, Pooch. Cougar. Goddamned Cougar.

He knew the moment they met. When he first heard Cougar's heartbeat, scented him. There in the sunlight, Jensen found his clan: all 'shifter blood, all young, all his. Cougar most of all.

They thought he was the weakest, the youngest, the one to protect. The little brother, the kid. He had to be careful when he looked out for them. The army didn't appreciate being lied to, so if he got found out…

Well, they wouldn't be able to hold him, but it'd take a whole lot of dead men before they learned it. He's pretty sure none of the clan would like that.

Then Bolivia, and Max, and Roque betraying his pack, Jensen's clan, for a plane-full of cash.

Jensen has silently protected them for five years. A drop in the ocean. Not even a blink. He's proven himself as a man. He loves them. He needs them. His brothers. The only mate he's ever wanted to claim. But they don't know him. Aisha is stirring things up, a young and arrogant and powerful 'wolf. She'll make trouble, if he comes clean.

But he has to come clean. Max is strong and he has allies, and Castiel is close. Jensen can feel him.

Jensen misses him.

So he checks in on each member of the clan and goes outside to make a phone call.

He loves them. He hopes he'll get to keep them, when all is revealed.

He looks up into the sunset, staring at the fading light, soaking in the warmth as his sire's voice fills up the holes inside him.

If the clan rejects you, Castiel whispers across the continent, come home to me, childe. You were first. I'll always have a place for you.

Jensen relaxes with a sigh and tells him about Max.

Chapter Text

Clay had been born Franklin Winchester, the second son of a werewolf and his human mate. Clay's older brother was a born-wolf, but Clay wasn't.

They both went into the armed forces; Johnny spent a tour in Vietnam and Clay lost track of him not too long after, when his pretty wife was killed by some vampire bastard. Johnny took his two pups and vanished.

But Clay knew his brother could take care of himself and he had his own life, and he climbed the ranks until he had a team of his own.

Roque was the son of two 'wolves but wasn't a 'wolf himself; Pooch was mated to a 'wolf, but she hadn't bitten him yet; Cougar was the grandson of a 'shifter; and Jensen was-well. Clay's not entirely sure what Jensen was, but he certainly wasn't human. That much, Clay knew. The kid didn't act like a 'wolf or any 'shifters Clay had ever heard of, and he sure didn't seem to be a vamp, but he was slightly off nonetheless.

Then Bolivia happened, and Aisha (such a young, powerful 'wolf) and Max, and Roque shoved a knife into all of their backs for... Clay doesn't even know why.

And what's left of his pack is holed up at Jensen's sister's house, licking their wounds and resting. Clay is examining Jessica's pantry, because he wants spaghetti so he's going to make some goddamned spaghetti. Pooch is with Jolene on the couch while Aisha gives Jilly, Jensen's niece, self-defense lessons and Cougar's cleaning his guns.

Jensen is outside on his cell. Clay can see him from the kitchen window. The kid is entirely too still, his back to the house, phone held to his ear.

Clay's filling a pot with water when Jensen walks back in, with steps even quieter than Cougar's, and says, "Clay, we need to talk."

"Just let me get this goin'," Clay replies, because whatever's eating at Jensen, Clay wants spaghetti tonight.

"Team meeting after supper," Jensen says.

o0o

So, Jolene and the baby and Jessica and Jilly go to bed, and Jensen stands with his back to the fireplace, and Jensen says, "Max's new ally is a sadistic fucker named Azazel, and I called in some backup." He pauses, not looking at anybody in the room. And even Aisha keeps quiet, because Jensen has never been like this, so very freakishly still. "I think Max might be a vampire, but I'm not sure. And since Azazel is with him now..." He meets Clay's eyes. "I can't get close to Azazel without him knowing; he's almost as old as me. And Max hired some bastard mage with wards up against everything. But my sire, no one can ward against him, he's so fucking powerful, so I called him. He'll be here tomorrow."

It takes a moment before Clay realizes what exactly Jensen just said. "Your... sire?"

Jensen nods. "Yeah." He shrugs. "I'm a vampire."

"But... you," Pooch says. "You go out in the sun."

Jensen nods again. "Me and my sire can do that."

He sounds so calm, so matter of fact. Like he didn't just rewrite the natural laws to suit his whim.

"No," Pooch says. "Vampires can't go out in the sun."

And Jensen just shrugs again. "Anyway, I just wanted to tell you. Cas is bringing two wolves with him, so Aisha, don't get too territorial."

He tilts his head to the side, eyes going distant, and then he says, "Cas promises to make his 'wolves behave. Y'all are all part of my clan, so you belong to him, and the brothers will respect that."

Aisha snarls, baring her teeth. "You want me to believe you're a vampire?" The way she's holding herself, it's obvious to everyone that she wants to lunge for his throat and make him submit. She's respected Clay's dominance, for the most part, and Jensen was always lower than her in the hierarchy. Pooch is an honorary 'wolf (Jolene'll turn him any day now) and Cougar fell into place nicely, and Jensen was no threat at all. He wasn't anything but the kid brother, the comic relief.

Jensen just looks at her, a small smirk twisting his lips, head tilted to the side like he's nothing but a young pup. "I don't care if you believe me," he says, still talking quietly, so not the Jensen Clay's known for years. "But my sire will be here in the morning, and if you disrespect him…" Jensen's chuckle is old and dark, and Clay shivers at the sound. "Well," Jensen continues and shrugs yet again. "His 'wolves will probably object to that, and trust me, Aisha." He straightens to his full height, meeting her eyes like they're the only two in the room. "You can't beat them."

He moves then, to the door that leads to the stairs. "I'm going to bed. Haven't seen Cas in a couple hundred years so I need my beauty sleep."

Cougar follows him down the hall. Clay looks over at Pooch, who still has a shell-shocked expression on his face, and Aisha, who looks pissed.

Either Jensen is crazy or the best actor Clay's ever seen. Or both. Actually, probably both.

Tomorrow is going to be a long goddamned day, either way, and Clay sighs. "Alright," he says. "I'm going eat more spaghetti."

He wishes Jessica kept alcohol in the house, but that had been the one iron-clad rule Jensen laid down.

Pooch joins him in the kitchen; Aisha stalks out the house.

Clay looks at Pooch and Pooch looks at Clay. "I believe him," Pooch admits quietly, tearing a chunk off the French bread.

"Yeah," Clay says. "Me, too."

o0o

Aisha returns before the vampire arrives and everyone eats breakfast quietly. Jilly plays with Jolene and Pooch's pup, while Jolene and Jessica watch them, and Aisha keeps her gaze locked squarely on Jensen. They're ranged around the den and just… waiting.

Clay feels a little ridiculous, truth be told.

And then suddenly—they're there, three strange men. Two are clearly 'wolves, strong ones, and looking at Clay like he's draped in silver. They stand flanking the other, the shortest of the three, who doesn't look or feel like anything special. He's as non-threatening as Jensen.

"Cas!" Jensen shouts, throwing himself at the third man.

"Jakob," Cas replies, wrapping his arms around Jensen. "It is wonderful to see you again, childe."

They cling to each other for a few moments, whispering in a language Clay's never heard before. After they separate, the vampire says, "I am Castiel. These are Dean and Sam."

The two wolves nod, but their eyes keep returning to Clay and it's starting to freak him out.

It's going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

Aisha can't believe Jensen is a vampire. She's both worked with and hunted vampires, and he has nothing in common with any of them.

If he were a vampire, he'd have dodged that bullet. And if he were as old as he claims, if his sire was actually the oldest of all, he could have caught it in the same breath he ripped out her throat.

Vampires can't go out in the sun. They certainly don't flirt as badly as Jensen does. Vampires don't smell like sugar cookies and fresh bread. Vampires don't sing annoying songs or ramble for hours about nothing at all.

But the vampire Jensen calls Cas and his two wolves—they are a clear threat. She can hear both 'wolves growling; she wants to attack them, drive them off, make them submit. And Castiel—his eyes are cold, judging, every time he looks at her. Like he knows she shot his childe and Jensen let her.

Jensen has always been off. She focused on Clay, Roque, and Cougar, the obvious threats. She mostly ignored the other two in the pack. Pooch had been claimed by a 'wolf and so long as she didn't encroach on his territory, she'd have no problems. She'd certainly dealt with worse than Linwood Porteous. They were all human, though each shared 'wolf or 'shifter blood. Except Jensen. She ignored him. Wrote him off. And he played her, played them all masterfully.

If he's as old as he says… then he is a master. And so much more powerful than her. She's young for a 'wolf, but her life has been hard and she's proven herself. The two dozen bounties on her head were well-earned.

And she realizes, watching Jensen stay within reach of Castiel, that she believes him now.

Fuck. She shot a master, an alpha. And he let her. To keep his secret, he allowed her to severely disrespect him and his sire will punish her for that, somehow. It's clear in his ice-blue gaze.

She is so very fucked.

o0o

Pooch stares at the strange 'wolves, the vampire Jensen calls sire, and Jensen. He can't reconcile his packmate with the second-oldest vampire because Jensen is still acting like Jensen. Young and goofy, irreverent and fun. His younger brother who needs to be protected, nevermind his black-ops training and the fact that Pooch has seen him tear his way through enemies and come out the other side with barely a scratch.

Until last night, Jensen had been a pup. To be guarded like Pooch and Jolene's son, like Jensen's sister and niece. Jensen never gave any indication of otherness, of being an alpha.

Even Cougar hadn't known.

That might actually be what bothers Pooch the most. He's thought for a long time that the two were courting each other, slowly but surely. Cougar has feline 'shifter in him, enough for the reflexes and senses but not to change. And Jensen, until last night, had been human.

And now he's not. Now Pooch knows he never has been. Or, at least, not in longer than Pooch can comprehend.

Jolene told him, back when they first mated, when he promised himself to her claim, that they might live for centuries. Born wolves are always stronger and survive longer, but those turned live awhile, too.

But hundreds of years are different from thousands, and Jensen is a goddamned master. He's a vampire who can walk beneath the sun, who blossoms in the light. Pooch has seen him, face toward the sun, smiling, content.

Jensen, his little brother, his pack, is an ancient vampire, an alpha. And Pooch doesn't know how to act around him now. How to treat a Jensen he's never really known.

And Jensen is just basking in the presence of his sire, speaking a language Pooch doesn't recognize, seemingly without a care in the world.

Chapter Text

Cougar has always known that there was more to Jensen than met the eye. Jensen got out of too many impossible situations to be pure human. Cougar was waiting for Jensen to tell him the truth.

Vampire never even made his list.

Now, he watches Jensen curl into his sire's grip, practically purring. Cougar has watched over Jensen for five years, has thought of Jensen first as a foolish cub in need of protection and then as a possible mate. Now he is the only mate Cougar considers.

The rest of the team still flounders with the knowledge that Jensen is an alpha, a master vampire, the only childe Castiel has ever made. Cougar knows that name. Castiel is a legend. Everyone knows vampires came first, before werewolves, before 'shifters. According to stories, werewolves and 'shifters came from the same place. Werewolves are more common now, but once there were 'shifters of every kind. Cougar's grandfather had been able to wear a lion's skin. He died when Cougar was just a child, the last true 'shifter of their family. Cougar's got the senses and reflexes of a lion, but no more. He can't 'shift.

This team is his pride, his pack, his clan. He watches over them, kills enemies before the others know of the threat. He knew that his pride were all human, though each—save Jensen—had some 'wolf in them.

Jensen was the youngest, the smartest, theirs to protect.

But Cougar always knew there was more to him. A silent, hidden side. Moments where he moved too fast, things he shouldn't have survived, times where he appeared somewhere impossibly. And Cougar never said anything because Jensen would share when he chose to. And Jensen was part of the pride.

Well, now Cougar knows. Everyone knows. And all that otherness is plain as Jensen curls up close as can be to his sire. He'd crawl into Castiel if he could. They're not even talking anymore, just standing together. Castiel's 'wolves are sub-vocally growling, the prettier one—Dean, Castiel called him—actually looking like he might attack Jensen.

Aisha looms in the doorway, eyes on Jensen, a snarl twisting her lips. Cougar can smell her frustration, her anger—and her shame. Like all the rest of the pride, Jensen fooled her. Made her think he was—not helpless, but goofy and rambunctious and young.

He's not young at all. He's older than most languages, than most countries. Older than a part-cat soldier can comprehend.

And Cougar doesn't care. Because he knows Jensen. Had known Jensen since the first time a too-loud, rambunctious boy joined their team and became theirs.

He and Jensen will speak later. But Cougar watches him now, watches him shed his skin like a 'shifter and become dangerous, and Cougar knows that nothing is changed.

Jensen has always been other. More. The only difference now is that the rest of the pride knows it.

o0o

The opportunity to speak comes with sunset. Jensen makes the first move and Cougar settles in to listen.

"I am…" Jensen pauses, looking at Cougar for a moment before dropping his gaze. "I am still Jake Jensen, you know. The same guy I've been for the past five years."

"Did I ever know you?" Cougar asks. He keeps his voice soft, but they both know everyone can hear. Pooch, Jolene, and their cub are in the kitchen with Jess and Jilly. Aisha is growling outside, Clay with her. Castiel and his 'wolves pretend not to listen in the hall.

And Jensen's bearing is apologetic. His entire body asks forgiveness.

"I never lied to you about the important things, Cougar. Yeah, I didn't check couple'a things on my paperwork, but no one ever asked, hey, dude, you a vampire? So I never said, no, I'm not a vampire. You know?"

He truly does come across as a cub. As young. Which, after four thousand years, is quite the marvel.

Jensen sighs. "I wasn't supposed to like y'all, Cougar. I was just bored. So I joined the army and let things go. Just went where and did what I was told. And then I got sent to Clay and it was almost like when Cas found me. That instant and that complete." He pauses again, lifting his gaze to look Cougar straight in the eyes. "Castiel made me. And I've existed for a… long time. But you, Cougs. I've never known anyone like you. And you…" He trails off, ducking his head. "Dude," he finishes softly. "You own me, Carlos."

Cougar does not respond for a moment, listening to Jensen's heartbeat. It is slow and steady, like always. That had been the first indication of Jensen's otherness. Even during firefights, Jensen's heartbeat never changes.

"Had I ever been fatally wounded, Jakob," Cougar asks, tilting his head to catch Jensen's gaze, "would you've turned me?"

"Yes." An immediate answer, no hesitation.

"And if I hated you for it," Cougar continues, "if I never forgave you?"

Jensen takes his time. "I would offer you my support, no matter what. And if you wanted me to end you, I would."

Cougar smiles and steps forward. "My name," he says, "is Carlos. My pride calls me Cougar. I've got a touch of lion 'shifter blood."

Jensen's smile is bright as sunlight. "I'm Jakob," he replies. "And I'm kinda a vampire."