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The Face Behind A Mirror

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When he woke up, everything was grey. He wondered if he had opened his eyes or if he still had them shut, before deciding that they must be shut. He lay still, listening to the light sounds around him. The house was silent, breathing with groans and shudders, fraying on the edges, just like him. In a way it was rather comforting: him and the house, both old and abandoned, shabby and crumbling, clinging into their existence by sheer force of their stubbornness.

It took a great deal of effort to force his eyes properly open and meet the day. The bleak morning light stung in his eyes and he sighed and squeezed his eyes shut again. He didn't really know why he should get up. He had no idea what day it was, only that it was late autumn. He hadn't been outside for several days, and the last time he had been, the air had been crisp and sharp, a slight sliver of frost floating around. The house had been surrounded by mist, the outside world disappeared and off, his whole being reduced to existing within the old house and the yard around it.

He had hardly slept, but that was nothing new. He had had trouble sleeping for several years now, ever since he had been released from the hospital. When he had been admitted he had been pumped so full of sedatives that he had been barely able to utter his name, let alone think about what had happened. He had accepted the medication offered him but had dumped it as soon as possible, choosing to feel too much and too sharply rather than float in the fluffy haze of overmedication his doctor had recommended.

It wasn't that he had nightmares - or at least not the traditional kind. No, he had far more pleasant dreams: the ones of future and promises; the kind that left him warm and content for a fraction of a second, until the reality rushed back in. And then he remembered it all, until he didn't want to anymore.

He had wanted to die. He still did. He couldn't understand why he wasn't allowed to have that; why he didn't get the permission to end his life as he saw fit. He had nothing or no-one, and he couldn't see a way out. The doctors, of course, hadn't understood. They had offered him lame words of consolation and pity, placating him with limp hands and flaccid arguments that encompassed the gaping emptiness underneath it all. He had watched them with tired eyes and resigned shoulders, had turned away from them and hoped they would never be in the situation he had been - still was.

His stomach felt empty and he thought he should probably get up and eat something. It had been... two days since he last ate? He couldn't remember, and honestly, didn't care. He sighed and turned to his side, then pushed himself up with his other hand and sat on the edge of the bed, hanging his head. A wave of dizziness swept over him and he shook his head to clear it. He gripped the edge of the mattress with his both hands and pushed himself up. The dizziness returned and he fought it down with baleful determination and walked wobbly to the bathroom.

It was chilly and the bare hardwood floors radiated coldness that creeped slowly up his shins, deftly heading to his knees. He didn't care, it was of no importance. He hadn't turned on the heater in the previous night and the whole house was a tepid pool of grey, matching his mood. The bathroom was even colder, the tiles almost freezing under his soles, and his naked skin rose in gooseflesh. He went to relieve himself, brushed his teeth and washed his face with cold water. He didn't bother looking into the mirror, knowing full well what would be staring back at him. He had no wish to meet his mirror image this morning.

He glanced down, eyes sweeping over his arms. The scars ran in ragged lines, tracing his skin in angry embossings, from the inside of his wrists up to his elbows. They were another mark of his failure, of his loss of control over himself and the right to decide for his own fate. He let his gaze slide off from them, shame and anger clouding his mind for a second. He had been so close, almost succeeded, only to be violently pulled back to the ruins of a life he did not wish to live anymore. The marks were a part of him now, a permanent feature literally carved onto his skin, calling him and mocking him, a reminder of his downfall.

For a moment he contemplated returning to his bed and going back to sleep, but the gnawing hunger in his gut was bordering uncomfortable. It would probably be better to eat something and then return to bed. Maybe he could avoid getting out for a couple of days then.

 


 

The clock on the kitchen table claimed the time to be 6:30 am. He glanced uninterestedly out the window to see light mist circling lazily over the grounds, painting the outside world with soft pastel colors. He couldn't see beyond his own yard, but as he knew there was not much to see: a narrow gravel road and woods on the other side of the house, a bathhouse and a lake on the other side. 

He hadn't bothered to venture to the woods nor go for a swim in his years in this house. He barely left the building, preferring to stay inside, mainly to stare at the wall or the ceiling while filling the void inside him with music. The only things to force him out were his compulsory grocery shopping and his monthly check-up. He loathed especially the latter, but as it was the sole reason he was allowed to stay in the house and be left alone, he gritted his teeth and went on with it.

The pantry was almost empty, which meant that he would have to venture out at some point in the days to follow. It was a chore, both literally and figuratively speaking, and he wasn't looking forward to it. It was an hour drive to the nearest town with his sad little car, and it would take him the whole day to drive there, do his shopping and drive back. The only highlight of the trip was the prospect of a possibility of visiting the music shop to check if his order had arrived.

Despite their peculiar ways, the humans who owned the shop were pleasant enough, treating him with as much - or little - regard as they did everyone else. Majority of the town residents knew who and what he was and let him do his business in peace, but there was always some individual brave or stupid enough, someone who thought that pestering a lone wolf would be a rite of passage, a show of manhood and a proof of character. To this day he had never lost his temper, the impassive stare of his eyes enough to drive the brave and foolish away.

Coffee. That would probably be a good idea. There were still some rice and beans in the fridge left from a couple days earlier, and they would give him enough sustenance to get by. He had no milk, but he preferred black coffee anyway. He settled in making the brew, scooping cold rice and beans from the bowl with a spoon, not bothering to heat the food. It tasted bland and would have benefited from a speck of salt, but he didn't bother. It was fuel for his body and he had no need to savor it.

The coffee was nearly done, when he heard the crash. It reverberated through his being, traveling across the house and shaking him as it passed on, a ringing silence on its heels. He stood frozen, spoon halfway to his mouth, and listened intently. He could hear nothing; no cries for help, no footsteps on the driveway, no engine running or the sound of tires signalling the car driving away. He lowered the spoon and bowl to the kitchen counter and turned to look at the door. He almost expected a knock on it, but there was nothing. The silence was deafening.

After several minutes he lowered his head and closed his eyes, drawing a deep breath. He would have to go outside, to check the car and the driver. No matter how much he wanted to be left alone, the reality was that if the car was spotted, his privacy would definitely be invaded. He would be questioned, and most likely also demanded to go to the police station to give his statement. No, better to bite the bullet, he sighed, straightened his posture and went out.

The car had crashed into an old maple tree just outside his property, right beside his mail box. The impact had caused the front of the vehicle flatten around the tree trunk with the right side more damaged, which had probably saved the driver's life. The front seat was sprinkled with shards of glass from the windshield, decorated with red and orange maple leaves. When he peered inside the car, he saw that the driver, a male in his early thirties, had banged his head on the steering wheel, and was slumped unconscious on his seat. The car seemed to have no seatbelts, which was both irresponsible and dangerous. The driver was lucky the road was so narrow that the car couldn’t go too fast, but his head looked ugly in any case, and he would develop a massive bruise in his forehead and temple later on.

He stepped back to think. What should he do? He couldn't leave the driver there, that was obvious. Should he transfer him to his own car and drive him to town, to get him properly treated for the concussion he most likely had? Or transfer him to his house and wait if he regained consciousness? He was torn with indecision, forced to decide things for someone else than himself for the first time in a very long a time.

He decided to start with removing the driver from the car. He opened the door, which squeaked painfully, giving a low groan of resistance over the movement. He bent carefully over the unconscious driver and-.

His scent.

He frowned and cocked his head. The scent was painfully familiar, but disturbing at the same time. He studied the driver's face more carefully. His features were delicate; straight nose and plump, soft lips, his hair light brown with streaks of gold. The man was undeniably attractive, and his breath hitched despite himself. A scent like that was biologically designed to draw him in and with a conscious effort he took a step back and breathed shallowly through his mouth to clear his head.

What was an omega doing there, in the middle of nowhere? Alone and unbonded? How was he even unbonded, with his looks and the scent?

He shook his head in wonderment and approached the omega again. Now that he knew what to expect, the scent didn't take him by surprise, but it was strangely off somehow. He couldn't put his finger on it and decided to put it out of his mind. Instead, he maneuvered the man gently from his seat into his arms and lowered him to the ground, took a better hold of him and carried him into his house. He was not a small omega, but tall and muscular, and most likely had a height and weight advantage over him. Added to the fact that the omega was completely limp in his arms, he was actually glad for his alpha strength for the first time in many, many years.

He lowered his burden carefully onto the couch, mindful with his head. There was a flashlight in the kitchen and he retrieved it to check the pupils and sighed in relief, when he got an appropriate reaction out of them both. He put the flashlight to the floor and arranged the omega into a more comfortable position, which caused his shirt trail up a bit. When he reached to pull it back down, he saw a glimpse of scar tissue from the narrow gap between his shirt and jeans. He knew he shouldn't, but his curiosity got the better of him, and he raised the hem of the shirt and blanched at the sight.

A massive scar tissue covered the omega's lower abdomen, the worst being on the left side of his hip. It looked like something had burned across his pelvic area, and left behind a scarred mess of tissue. That must have been incredibly painful and affect the man on several physical and emotional levels. He stared at the plains of marred skin, suddenly overcome with an urge to touch. The omega shivered slightly, goosebumps spreading across his skin, and the alpha averted his eyes in a haste, hurriedly covering the exposed skin. He got up and went to turn on the heater, a decision he didn't dwell on too closely. He retrieved a blanket and covered the unconscious man before going back outside.

The sun had gone up and washed away the mist hanging over the ground. He glanced up to the clear sky and absently noticed a wedge of cranes flying over him. With unhurried steps he walked over to the car, turned off the engine and closed the door that had been left open when he had eased the driver out. He frowned and walked around the vehicle. It was a beautiful specimen, raw power coiled in a metal frame. It was black with chromium details and black leather seats. He could understand how someone might describe it as an erotic car, nevermind that he didn't see it that way.

The car wasn't that far from his yard, and all of a sudden he decided to push it from the side of the road to his yard. He went to the front, shifted the car into neutral and after a couple of tries was able to get the car moving and push it away from the battered maple tree. By the time he had managed to push it to the front of his house, he was shaking and sweating profoundly, his lack of exercise more than obvious. He stopped and leaned on the hull of the car to catch his breath before he went to check the driver's belongings.

The insides on the car smelled of desperation and urgency, and apart from empty soda bottles and a ready-to-eat-sandwich covers, there was nothing personal. The glove compartment was empty but a box of cassette tapes and a handful of fake ID's with names even he recognized as suspicious. The back seat was empty as well, despite a threadbare blanket, and after a bit of fumbling, he found the latch to open the trunk. There was a sole duffel bag half full with mainly dirty clothes, along with a paperback book by Vonnegut, a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste.

He didn't need the input from the injured omega, since it was painfully obvious. The omega was on the run.

 


 

He went back inside and carried the duffel to a spare bedroom. His house wasn't big, with only two bedrooms, as well as a kitchen, living room and bathroom, but it had always been enough for him. Something in the back of his mind tried to point out that he had just carried a strange omega into his house and was ready to offer his spare bedroom to him, but he pointedly ignored the voice. He had no interest in the omega, hence it was of no importance. Besides, he was too broken, irreparably damaged himself.

He prepared the bed for his guest, checking the sheets with a care that surprised himself, too. He took the liberty of emptying the duffel from dirty clothes, put them to the washer and turned it on. He went back and placed the Vonnegut on the nightstand, leaving the heap of fake ID's in the duffel. His guest could deal with them later, if he so wished. He retracted the covers from the bed and went downstairs to get his guest.

It was easier this time, to carry him. He knew what was to come, and, not surprisingly, it was easier to lift the omega from the couch than from the ground level. He took his time and care on the stairs, as it would not be that good to trip over and cause injury on them both. They reached the bedroom without incident, and he lowered the omega gently onto the bed, turned him to a recovery position and covered him with blankets. He went to fetch a glass of water and placed it on the nightstand, right beside the Vonnegut. He thought that the sight of water and the familiar book would calm the omega once he woke up.

Or, if he woke up.

He wore a light frown on his face while he walked to the kitchen. His coffee had gone cold, but it wasn't like he needed it anymore, he was very much awake. He placed the bowl of food back to the fridge and pondered for a moment before taking a ready-to-bake casserole from the freezer. He had bought a heap of them at one point, figuring it was only a sensible thing to do to stack his freezer with food to save for a rainy day.

He poured the coffee away and rubbed his face with his hand. If the omega was on the run, the first thing to do was to hide the car. He didn't know much about them as they were only a means of transportation to him, but he understood enough to realize that the black car was nothing if unforgettable, and combined with its driver it was almost certain to leave an impression. It would only be reasonable to give the man a chance, at least until he was able to actually speak for himself and tell what he was running from and why.

The most logical solution was to drive his own car away from its spot, push the black car there and then cover it. There was an old tarp stacked somewhere and he fought a moment of frustration before he found it from a closet under the stairs. He snagged his car keys and went out. His small Ford protested, resisting the need to move, but he was adamant, and the vehicle bent to his will eventually. The black car mover pliantly, like it was resigned to its fate, and he parked it and covered it with the tarp. He used rocks of reasonable size to lock the tarp in place before he drove the Ford closer, blocking the bigger car partly behind it.

Satisfied, he went inside and decided to have a shower. It had been several days since the last time, and the exercise of pushing a car around had left him sweaty and smelling. The house was warmer now, the heating kicking in, and the short trip to the bathroom was almost not-unpleasant. He didn't look at his arms nor his face in the mirror this time, either.

After his shower he dressed himself in khakis, a long-sleeved tee and a cardigan. He didn't put on his shoes because he liked to be barefoot or in woolen socks when inside. He knew that his appearance was anything but alpha-like, but maybe it would be of advantage. Waking up in a strange alpha house after an accident was likely to frighten the omega, and if he could ease his mind with his style of clothing, he would gladly do so.

The omega was still unconscious. His forehead was bruised and a little bloody, but the alpha was satisfied to see there was no blood from his ears or nose. Of course, it still didn't mean the man wouldn't have a serious brain injury, but it was a small comfort at least. The whole effect of the crash would be seen in the days to come.

He leaned forward a little before he could stop himself. The scent was more concentrated in the warm cocoon of the blanket; tantalizing and warm, but it was splashed over with strong doses of stress, desperation and exhaustion. Behind it all there was that disturbing undertone of offness and wrong he had smelled when he had first approached the omega in the car. He couldn't pinpoint the taint or dissect it from the other aspects of his scent, because it was submerged and intertwined within his scent, like it belonged there. The alpha had never in his life met a were with a taint in their scent, and he couldn't believe his own nose. The unconscious man smelled like an unbonded, fertile omega but also like an old, post-menopausal beta, with no traces of chemical alterations. That should not have been possible.

 


 

It was already well past noon and to his surprise he started to feel hungry again. He stopped for a moment, amazed by the sensation, until he remembered what he had done. Pushing around a car of respectable size might leave one a bit peckish, especially if said one has had a habit of disregarding his bodily needs. He shrugged at himself and went to put the casserole into the oven. Maybe the smell of cooking would wake his guest and he could get some answers he found himself wanting.

He rummaged the cupboards and pantry again and found coffee, tea, sugar, honey and some cookies he hoped weren't too stale. He found some rice and canned beans as well as pineapple and pickled peaches and decided that as far as he was concerned, they weren't going to starve. It had been years since he had had a visitor and therefore he was in no way prepared to have a second mouth to feed. He would have to go to town very soon.

He made a fresh pot of coffee and sat at the table, savoring the mug between his hands. He stared at the inky black surface of the brew and wondered what on earth was he doing. Why had he carried the omega back into his house and hid the car? Why was he so keen on meddling in somebody else's domestic quarrel, which this so very obviously was. On the other hand, the omega wasn't bonded, and, by their own laws, he was in his rights to interfere. On the other hand, he probably should've just stayed out of it, since domesticity wasn't always what it seemed to be. He should know.

He decided to go and check on his guest again. He had done it meticulously every two hours, cataloguing his level of unconsciousness, counting his breath frequency and heartbeat. He hadn't wanted to check his pupils again to avid disturbing his rest, but he thought that would follow as soon as the omega was awake again, as well as other concussion tests.

The house creaked around him, like it had hard time adjusting to another occupant after years of silence and solitude. It was a reliable, sturdy house, but well on the twilight of its time. The floorboards squeaked quietly when he rose the stairs to upstairs, and the sound of it was suddenly too much, vibrating all around him, echoing from the empty walls back to him. Like a side note commenting 'yes we know you are here, and yes, we don't give a damn.'

He reached the guest bedroom and peeked from the doorjamb. The omega had turned to his back, but he couldn't see whether he had his eyes open or not. He knocked softly and the man turned his head to look at the door. He opened the door and stepped carefully inside, keeping his moves calm and pointedly placating. The man didn't react but for a slight narrowing of his eyes, his scent sharpening with alertness. There were no signs of an unbonded omega reacting to the proximity of an unbonded alpha. Or, not an unbonded alpha as such, but he knew his scent would represent as such. But there was nothing. The omega regarded the alpha like he was a human and not an alpha of virile age, his pheromones instinctively reacting to an omega in distress.

"Hello," he said quietly and kept his hands relaxed on his sides. He knew that his tee and cardigan covered his arms, but he still felt somewhat self-conscious and didn't turn his palms towards the bed. "My name is Castiel. Can you tell me your name?"

The omega turned his head a fracture and looked at Castiel. His eyes were deep green and sharp and Castiel found himself transfixed in their stare. The silence rolled around and over them and Castiel held his breath, too wound up to breath. Then the eyes lost their intensity and clouded over and the man closed his eyes.

Castiel licked his lips. "I need to come closer and check you, alright?" He walked slowly to pick up the flashlight and then went to kneel beside the bed, keeping the flashlight on display the whole time.

"Please, keep your eyes open. This will only take a second." He raised the upper eyelid of the left and then the right eye, flashing the light, satisfied when he got the right responses from the pupils. He stood up and backed from the bed. The omega had his eyes open again, following him with a narrowed stare. For some reason, Castiel felt quite nervous to be the object of the intense scrutiny.

"Do you know what day it is?" He said, trying to coax an answer from the omega. Then he blinked. "Actually, that's not a very good question since I have no idea what the current date is." He frowned and tried to think something else to ask.

"Twenty fourteen and Obama." The voice was deep and velvety, but it had a quality of one that had not been in use for some time.

Castiel looked at the man in surprise.

"Those would've been the next logical questions, right? Year and the current President."

Castiel blinked again. "Um. Yes. And I think your answers are correct."

The omega cocked his brow and a small twitch of smile ghosted on the other side of his lips. "You think?"

Castiel decided to skip answering that. "Do you remember what happened to you?" He asked instead.

The eyes lost their focus again and the omega turned his head aside. Castiel took that as a no.

"You crashed into a tree right beside my house. That's where you are now, in my house. Your car is safe and all your belongings are here, except for your clothes that I took the liberty of washing for you. You banged your head onto the steering wheel, that's the reason for the bruise on your forehead. You might feel nauseous, dizzy, tired and have trouble concentrating and remembering things, because you most likely have at least a medium concussion. Otherwise it seems you are physically fine." His eyes darted to the omega's midsection before he focused his attention back to his eyes.

"You are welcome to stay here, if you like. There's a lock on the door if you wished to use it. Bathroom is on the other side of the hallway, kitchen and living room are downstairs. I have some food in the oven, if you feel hungry. I'll bring you a towel and some clean clothes, but I think you should stay in bed today, just to be sure."

He turned to put the flashlight back on the top of the drawer and walked to the door. Before he left, he turned back to look at the omega, who was again staring him.

"Do you remember what your name is?" Castiel repeated the question.

The omega turned his gaze to the back wall.

"I- think my name is Sam," he answered hesitantly, and Castiel knew he was lying.

Chapter Text

His head hurt like a sonovabitch and he had difficulty keeping his eyes open. The strange guy had come once more to see him, apparently to bring him some god-awful-tasting convenience food and to check his eyes again. He had no idea why, but the guy took it seriously, so he just rolled with it. At least he didn't have to walk a straight line, because that would've been pretty embarrassing.

The guy had a funny name, Castiel. Who the hell named their kid like that? It was an open invitation for serious bullying, not that the guy looked like he had been bullied. There was something weird about him, a sense of danger and power, although he sure didn't look like it. Castiel was clad like a Sunday school teacher, in a cardigan and woollen socks and there was absolutely nothing threatening about him at all. So why did he have this nagging feeling that he should be at his guard?

Castiel - oh fuck, he wasn't gonna call the guy that - Cas had told him that he had been in an accident, in a car crash more precisely, and that he had hit his head. He reached his hand to his forehead, and yep, there was a distinctive lump. He hissed in pain and jerked his hand away, which turned out to be a mistake, because his head swam and he almost vomited. Okay, so no sudden moves then - although throwing up the casserole wouldn't have been that big of a loss.

He eased himself gingerly on his back and closed his eyes to stop the world from spinning. He didn't feel especially peachy and had no wish to get up. The mattress felt nice, the pillow was quite soft and the blanket was pleasantly thick and warm to doze off. He figured he wasn't going anywhere for a while, so he could just as well try to get some more sleep. He felt like he hadn't slept well for ages.

 


 

The next time he woke, it was dark. There was no clock on the wall or at the nightstand, but it wasn't like he needed to know the time anyway. The throbbing in his head had lessened somewhat, but the nausea, sluggishness and a sense of the world spinning were there, on the edges of his awareness, waiting. He turned slowly and carefully, but almost heaved anyway. Okay, not getting up then. He would just lie there on his side and concentrate on his breathing.

"Hello... Sam."

Shit! He had had no clue that Cas was sitting on the corner. The guy had been still like a statue and he had nearly pissed himself out of surprise. He turned his head very, very carefully to keep from triggering the vertigo, and looked at the guy. His posture was almost pointedly calm, but something gave him away, tattled that he was nervous and not as composed as he wanted to appear. Maybe it was his back that was rod straight, or his palms that rested on his knees, but twitched slightly every now and then. Or maybe it was his eyes that stared at him with burning intensity. Or maybe it was his voice that had hesitated minutely, like he had known.

"Hi," he croaked as an answer. Ow, even talking hurt: his voice reverberated through his skull and rattled around like razorblades in a tin barrel, slashing his eyeballs and eardrums from the inside, like it tried to claw its way out with blunt fingers. "Aw fuck," he whispered with feeling, wanting to give the razorblades an easier way out. It helped, maybe a little, but he decided to keep his eyes shut and refrain from speaking for the time being in any case.

"I see that you are not feeling better yet."

He didn't deign to answer, but kept still and waited for the blunt pain to edge away. He heard shuffling and soft steps and then there was a cold, wet cloth on his forehead.

"I'm afraid I don't have any painkillers, but this should help a little. I can get another one for your neck, if you like?" The voice was a soft growl and, surprisingly enough, it didn't hurt his head.

He didn't dare speak or move his head to nod though, and carefully lifted his left thumb as an okay instead. He didn't know if Cas had seen it, but he got his answer when he felt a second cold cloth on his neck. They felt heavenly and he breathed out in contentment.

"Oh, good. Well. Then." The steps shuffled away and he heard the door hinges squeak. "I'll come to check on you again later and change the cloths to new ones. Try to get some rest."

The door clicked shut and then there was only silence.

 


 

Dark, again. Or still? He didn't know. The cloths on his forehead and neck were warm and partly dried, which meant that the guy hadn't been in recently. He decided to try some experimenting and turned to his back. No excessive nausea, which was nice for a change.

"Okay," he said out loud and cringed inwardly, waiting for the attack of the rampant razorblades. There was none, the objects in question had seemingly taken a hike. His head felt heavy and swollen though, like it had been replaced with retted straw. Most likely an aftereffect of his forehead making a close acquaintance with the steering wheel.

In sudden burst of energy he lifted his arms up, fisted his hands and rotated his wrists to test if anything was broken or sprained. They seemed to be sort of fine, if fine could be defined as clumsy and uncoordinated. He lowered his arms back to the bed and proceeded to draw his knees up. The movement caused a sharp pain jolt through his middle, like a blunt metal spike had been abruptly pushed through his pelvic area, and the muscles in his abdomen and lower back cramped instantly. He hissed and forced himself to relax, steadied his breathing and waited for the pain to ebb away.

He decided to try another approach. He turned carefully to his side (No nausea yet, great!), inched his legs to the edge of the mattress and slowly pushed himself to sit up with his upper hand. The pain in his middle flashed again, but soon gave way to the cavalry of every sharp and blunt object imaginable to have a free ride inside his skull. The razorblades had decided to return and have a party and had invited everyone in without consulting him. They had even purchased fireworks and artillery to go, how nice.

A sheen of sweat formed on his face and his hands trembled while he fought to keep still and silent, waiting desperately for the party to end or at least to calm down. He gripped the edge of the mattress with his hands and tried to convince the entourage in his head to move the festivities to the empty plains of foam and bedsprings behind him, but they seemed to have too much fun. He was determined to win this round though, and after a while (An hour?) the clamor had subsided enough for him to open his eyes.

The room was relatively small. It had the bed he sat on, a nightstand (and probably another one on the other side of the bed, but he didn't risk turning his head to check), a drawer and an armchair by the window. The nightstand sported a rather lonely-looking lamp with a frayed shade, a glass of water and a book. He had a distant feeling that he should know something about the book, but it didn't look familiar. He almost shrugged, but stopped himself in time lest to invite the juggernaut of pain back.

Nature was calling for him quite insistently and he tried to remember where Cas had said the bathroom was. Something about the hallway, he wasn't sure. His head was mushy and it was hard to think, but he decided to try and find the bathroom before he would piss himself and make even more an embarrassing sight of himself than he already was.

He pushed himself up with his hands, and, quite correctly, expected and experienced a jolt of pain in his lower back and pelvis. He peered down carefully, because he didn't know how much he could actually move his head without triggering the crushing headache, raised the hem of his shirt and blinked.

What the fuck?

His whole abdomen was a messed-up scar tissue, partly angry red, partly paler pink. He stared at his disfigured torso, his headache momentarily forgotten. How the fuck could a person end up looking like that? It must have been something pretty big and traumatic, either a deliberate mutilation or an accident of a massive scale, maybe even something involving fire or crushing force or-.

He hissed with sudden vertigo and nausea, his mind reeling away from that particular train of thought. He tried to leap after it, but it evaded him, disappearing behind a curtain of oily emptiness, leaving him to stare at a wall of his own scrambled sentiments. He swayed on his feet and forced his eyes to stay open, refusing to succumb to the onslaught of indisposition. His breath came in short gasps, but eventually he bested his body and the nausea lifted.

The door was not very far, but, as it turned out, the steps were a lot harder to perform when you actually had to take them. He gritted his teeth and shambled the distance one step at the time, finally reaching the door only to lean his temple on it to rest. When had walking become such a difficult thing to do? He would have been happy to slide to the floor and go to sleep, but he still had to find the bathroom, and he would rather it to be sooner than later.

The door squeaked on its hinges loudly, like it was an inconvenience for it to be actually used. The hallway behind it was dark and freaking long, and he had no idea where the bathroom was. He decided to sludge on, leaning to the wall for support and inched his way forward. It didn't take him more than a couple of steps before his knees gave out and he sled to the floor in slow motion. The nausea and headache returned with a revenge and he absolutely did not let out a muffled whimper of pain.

"Sam! What on earth are you doing out of bed?"

He hadn't heard Cas coming, but the guy was right there, his hand hovering by his shoulder. The weird sense of wrongness poked him again when Cas called him by that name, but it enveloped itself inside the oily emptiness and he decided to let it be. He could ponder the implications of the weirdness (of his name?) later, if and when he had the time and energy. And was free of the crippling headache and nausea, fuck you very much.

Cas knelt in front of him, worry evident in his eyes. And how the fuck could the guy have so blue eyes? They were like sky with a sun burning behind them and gee, if he didn't sound like a girl.

"Bathroom," he croaked with gritted teeth, trying not to topple over.

Cas shook his head. "You really shouldn't be out of bed yet, but..." He sighed and leaned back on his haunches and frowned. Then, without a warning, Cas scooped him in his arms and lifted him slowly up in bridal style, seemingly with no effort at all. He was too shocked to do anything but stay still, while the guy carried him to the bathroom, lifted the lid of the toilet seat up with his foot and lowered him to stand in front of it.

He stood still and blinked. "Um." He said intelligently.

"Oh, right." Cas hasted, and he was almost sure that the guy actually blushed. "I'll be outside. Call me when you are ready." And then Cas hurried out and he was alone.

He did his business while leaning his hand to the wall for support, flushed and took a couple of slow steps to the sink to wash his hands and to sprinkle some water on his face. He reached for a towel and glanced up at the mirror. A gaunt face with a stubble and dark circles under a pair of green eyes stared back at him. It looked like a face of a man who hadn't had a decent meal or a good night sleep for a long while. In addition to that, there was an ugly bruise forming on the forehead. He raised his hand and saw the mirror image do the same.

He had no idea who the man was.

He lowered his eyes and turned partly away from the sink and from the image of the sad excuse of a man that seemed to be him.

"Cas!" He called softly, but even that was enough for the headache to decide it was time for a full-on charge again. He closed his eyes and stumbled on his feet and would have probably keeled over if Cas hadn't been there to catch him.

"Stubborn," the guy muttered disapprovingly and lifted him into his arms again.

Being carried in bridal style probably wasn't the manliest way of transportation, but as he had trouble keeping his head up, let alone to stand, he wasn't going to protest. He leaned his temple on Cas's shoulder and could've sworn that the guy tightened his hold.

 


 

Pale morning light creeped inside the next time he opened his eyes. The cloths on his forehead and neck were cold, but he didn't see Cas in the room, which meant the guy had probably left only recently. He was lying on his side again, and when he turned his head a little, he spotted a glass of orange juice and a bowl on the nightstand. He pushed himself to sit up, knowing to wait for the jolt of pain this time. Surprisingly enough, the headache held back, but even so, he didn't exactly whoop with joy. The fucker had jumped on him without a warning previously, and it was in all likelihood just waiting for an opportunity. He eased himself on the edge of the bed again and reached for the bowl.

It was porridge with jam. He cocked his brow and stared. Porridge? Really? But his stomach decided porridge actually wouldn't be such a bad thing after all and growled loudly its opinion. He reached for the bowl and discovered that it was still hot. Cas must have left just as he woke up. He took a spoonful and grimaced at the taste. The guy was a seriously lousy cook if he was able to muck up simple porridge, but then, Cas had served him a shitty ready-made casserole earlier. He swallowed anyway and ate some more. The taste wasn't exactly bad per se, more like stale cardboard boiled with old shoes, but the weird thing was that the jam didn't taste right either. He put the spoon slowly back to the plate and turned to look at the glass of orange juice. He narrowed his eyes and thought for a while.

He wasn't sure how concussions worked, but so far he'd experienced at least vertigo, nausea, dizziness, exhaustion, difficulty to think and move and, oh yeah, memory loss. Food tasting like shit would add up just nicely, wouldn't it? He reached for the glass and took a tentative sip. Yep, tasted like shit. Stale and rancid shit. Lovely. He sighed and put the glass back. He knew that his stomach wouldn't care how the juice tasted, but he just couldn't make himself to drink it. The porridge was sort of tolerable, so he made an effort to eat it all. Unfortunately Cas had taken away the glass of water, which meant that he would have to go back to bed with a taste of cardboard and shoes in his mouth.

Eating turned out to be taxing, and by the time he had finished the questionable culinary experience of fucked-up porridge, his eyes were drooping and he swayed on his spot. Better to lie back down before the headache made an encoré with its relatives or he fell flat on his face and Cas was forced to carry him again. The guy didn't actually seem to mind, and, weirdly enough, neither did he. As emasculating as it was, it wasn't exactly unpleasant, although the same vague sense of danger lingered when he was that close to Cas.

He settled on his other side and tucked the blankets tightly around him. The house seemed a bit chill, even when he was fully clothed and under a couple of blankets. Might be that the temperature had dropped outside or that the house didn't have an exactly efficient heating system. Nevertheless, he was snugly under the blankets and it didn't take long for the sleep to claim him.

 


 

He stirred to a sound of movements in the room, footsteps and a soft clinking of dishes. His back was to the room which meant that he couldn't pry his eyes open slightly and take a peek, but he had to actually turn around and look. Before he had decided what to do, Cas cleared his throat behind him.

"I'm sorry to wake you, but I need to leave for several hours. I have to take a trip to the town to get some supplies. Is there anything I can get you? Food? Books?" Cas's voice was hesitant, like it was a new thing for him to offer to buy stuff for others. Maybe it was. Every sign indicated that the guy lived alone, and he had no ring on his finger. Not that it actually meant anything one way or the other. And was he into guys anyway?

"Sam?"

Again that disturbing feeling of wrong. He shook his head slightly and turned carefully around to look at Cas.

"Um. No, thanks." It didn't hurt to talk this time, but the nausea jeered at him just behind his eyelids. "I think I'm gonna stay in bed for now anyway."

"Do you need to go to the bathroom before I leave?"

"Why, are you offering to carry me again?"

"If you think that crawling on your face is more efficient, you are free to do so."

He gaped at Cas for a moment before bursting into laughter, immediately shutting up as the sneaky fucker of a headache assaulted him with full force and then some. He squeezed his eyes shut and massaged his temples with his fingers to ease the pain even a little. No sudden moves yet, not even laughter. Fine. The headache and its colleagues were such a joy.

"Please, Cas, don't make me laugh again. It triggers the headache like a motherfucker," he sighed after he had had his head and breathing under a somewhat shaky control.

"I wasn't joking," came a sulky answer.

He opened his eyes and looked at the guy. Cas's face was serious and there was not even a trace of amusement in his eyes. The guy was either dead serious or he had the best poker face ever. Had he really meant that he would let him crawl to the bathroom in all fours if he refused to be carried? What the hell?

"Um. Okay. I think I might need to go, but how about if we try to walk this time? If I swoon you can carry me, but please, let me at least try first, okay?"

Cas wore a disapproving frown, but nodded anyway. "Fine. But one stumble, and I'll carry you."

"Yeah yeah, whatever." He pushed himself up carefully, expecting and receiving the now-familiar jolt of pain. Cas looked at him sharply, but said nothing. Just as well, he wasn't that keen on showing the scarred mess of his pelvis to the guy anyway. He took a couple of tentative steps and resignedly accepted Cas's support. The guy was a bit shorter than him and definitely lighter too, and he couldn't understand how he had been able to carry him so easily. Cas hadn't even been out of breath or shown any signs of strain when picking him up from the floor. Pretty remarkable, really.

The journey to the bathroom took time, him concentrating on taking small steps one at the time, fighting to keep the vertigo and nausea at bay, the headache leaning to the back wall of his skull, casually flirting the barrel of razorblades in its claws. Cas didn't hurry him along or cheer him with annoying pep talks, but stayed on his side, silently supporting him with his hand around his waist. When they reached the bathroom he was once again left standing beside the toilet seat, Cas respectfully retreating with a reminder of calling him when he was ready.

For a moment he entertained the idea of taking a shower, but as his headache seemed to get the most entertainment of the mere embryo of the idea, he abandoned it for further notice and merely took a leak instead. There was a fresh razor by the sink along with a can of shaving cream, and he decided to at least give himself a proper shaving. As it turned out, shaving with hands that repeatedly refused proper co-operation was interesting, and it also took long enough for Cas to grow impatient. When Cas knocked on the door to ask if everything was alright, he invited the guy in. Cas took one look at his piss-poor attempt of a shaving and promptly took the razor from him to finish the job. He didn't roll up his sleeves which of course resulted in Cas having shaving cream smeared across his cuff.

Well, that was just stupid. "You should just roll them up," he said and reached out to do exactly that, but Cas jerked his hand away.

"Don't!" Cas snapped sharply and stepped away from him.

He didn't know what to say to the guy and he ducked his head, staring awkwardly at his feet. The silence roiled around them, poking and prodding them, pointing out how awfully tense and uncomfortable the air had just turned in the confined space of the bathroom.

"I'm sorry," he said quietly, not really knowing what he was apologizing for.

Cas sighed. "No, I'm the one who should apologize. I'm not... used to be around people and sometimes I... forget how things work." Cas still had the razor in his hand and he took a hesitant step forward. "I'd like to finish, if you allow me to?" Cas asked tentatively, as an act of reconciliation.

He nodded and shut his eyes before he raised his head. Something made him keep them shut while he waited for the shaving to be over. He wasn't scared, neither did he feel threatened, but it just didn't seem right to look at the guy. He was confused and tired and wanted to get back to bed already. When Cas had finished, he beckoned him to wash and dry his face by himself before they left back to towards the bedroom.

He had avoided looking into the green eyes in the mirror, although they had tried to get his attention.

 


 

There was a jug of water along with an empty glass and a plate with store-bought shortbread cookies waiting for him when he woke up. Cas had helped him back to bed after the trip to the bathroom, tucked him in and reminded him that he would be gone for several hours. Apparently his house was fuckwards-away from practically everywhere and it would take him an hour to drive to the nearest town and another to drive back, and who knows how much time he would spend shopping. Although Cas didn't seem the type to do some serious shopping, but you never knew, looks could be deceiving.

He eased himself to sit at the edge of the bed again and drank a glass of water. It was blessedly tasteless, which was a huge relief after the horror that had claimed to be orange juice. He narrowed his eyes at the cookies, but dared himself to taste one. It was like munching plywood, which wasn't that bad, considering. He took his time eating several of the cookies and drank half a jug of the water while contemplating his situation.

The guy, Cas, didn't seem that dangerous, but there was something off with him. He was definitely stronger than he looked and he liked to keep his distance, at least when he wasn't obliged to carry or support his unfortunate guest. Something about Cas made him uncomfortable, but he couldn't wrap his head around it. Not that he would actively try: his head was still a mess and that uncomfortable feeling related to Cas skated far too close to that oily emptiness in his mind. The strange thing was that at the same time he actually felt comfortable and safe around Cas, which was more than a bit schizophrenic, considering the situation as a whole. And, he was pretty sure that when Cas had carried him from the bathroom after his first embarrassing trip there, the guy had not only gripped him tighter when he had rested his temple on Cas's shoulder, but also sniffed him, which was just, well, odd.

He decided to be either foolish or brave, or bravely foolish or foolishly brave, or fuck that, and get up. The pain jolted in his back again and he stifled a groan. What the fuck was wrong with his body if simply getting up or turning to his side in bed resulted in a white-hot flash of pain? He gritted his teeth and forced the cramping muscles to relax before he took a tentative step towards the armchair by the window. His headache had abated into slow waltzing around his cranium, and he could well live with that, as long as it didn't get boisterous and start to samba.

The window looked over a calm lake and showed a part of a ramshackle bath house by the shore. He didn't remember what was on the other side of the house, because he didn't remember where he had been driving. And that was really the problem, wasn't it? He was alone with a weirdo in an old house by the lake, in the middle of the literal nowhere, and he had no idea who he was, where he came from and where he had been going to.

Yeah, fuck his life.

Chapter Text

The gravel road crunched and pattered under the tires of his Ford, which joined in the complaints with its squeaking suspension and hiccuping engine. He didn't bother to pay it any mind because the car was merely a transport to move him from one place to another and as long as it did that, it could behave as it wanted. The Ford would've probably complained about that, too, had it had the chance.

It had been well past noon when he had finally been able to leave the house. The bathroom incident had left him more shaken than he wanted to admit, and the whole business with his mysterious guest made him uneasy. First of all, he had never shared his house with anyone before, the dingy walls acting as his armor against the world. Now, his peace was shattered and his privacy invaded. Secondly, this was the first time in years for him to be in close quarters with an omega, and frankly, he was more than little afraid. The last time things had not ended well.

It was quite clear that 'Sam' knew all too well that the name he had given was fake, but it was quite possible that he didn't know why. His scent spiked with distaste/uneasiness every time Castiel said the name out loud, and it seemed like the omega noticed it too. But everything else about him was a complete mystery. Like his scent and the horrid scars on his abdomen.

When he had found the omega slumped in the upstairs hallway, he had almost tripped over his own feet trying to get to him as soon as possible. The sight of him had twisted something inside Castiel. He had wanted to keep him close and safe, and afterwards, when the omega had leaned his head to his shoulder, Castiel had experienced a rare spike of possessiveness. It was only later that he realized he had actually scented the omega and gripped him tighter. It was disturbing.

Bizarrely enough, the omega hadn't noticed a thing. More than that, he had yet to react to his alpha pheromones. The only semblance of any kind of submission had come this morning after Castiel had snapped at him for almost touching his sleeve. And even then the man had seemed to react mainly to his aggression and the tone of his voice, instead of his alpha pheromones. And when submitting, the omega had exuded no pheromones of his own at all. His scent had merely turned confused and slightly apprehensive, with no hint of a normal omega reaction.

Castiel was baffled.

 


 

Ever since weres had come out in public after the first world war, the knowledge of their species had seeped across the country town by town. Prejudice held strong and weres had been hunted and rejected for decaces, but eventually, little by little the acceptance had gained more and more ground. A lot had to do with the fact that the were community had an extremely strict code of honor and conduct, and any offense against human population was countered with brutal efficiency. They weren't exactly loved, but the human population knew enough to leave them alone.

He hadn't revealed himself to the citizens of Willowbrook, but some of them had been astonishingly perceptive and guessed his true nature quite fast, and because of the nature of small towns, the information had spread relatively quickly. He was grateful he had never been cornered, but the people of Willowbrook had let him know that they knew, and then left it at that.

Of course, Willowbrook was also small provincial town of less than 5000 residents, whose favorite entertainment was gossip and speculation.  Since Castiel had purchased his house (in cash) almost five years ago,  he had learned that, in addition to being a were,  he was also a hermit lunatic millionaire scientist with a secret laboratory, an outrageously luxurious private jet and a yacht, as well as an extensive harem of pretty young girls, boys and, by reasoning outside his mental capacity, llamas. In addition to that he was also gay, bisexual and asexual, Dracula incarnate and held a membership of the Illuminati.

People of Willowbrook must have a lot of time in their hands.

He parked the Ford in front of Badass Records and decided to go and ask if the CD's he had asked for had arrived. His green car wasn't as reconizable as the black behemoth hiding under a tarp at the corner of his yard, but combined with the place he had chosen for parking, he was aware that his identity was immediately known. He felt stares on his back as soon as he left the relative safety of his battered little car and exposed himself to the scrutiny of humans. He turned his head to look at a little family across the street, the father's face set on a disapproving scowl, the mother and two little children pointing their fingers at him. He sighed, but gave them a nod anyway. It never hurt to be polite.

Ash and Garth, the owners of Badass Records, had been the first to know. When he had walked into their shop for the first time, Ash had looked him from head to toe and lazily asked, "How can we be of an assistance, alpha?" Castiel had stopped on his tracks and stared at the plaid-clad long-faced man with a weird hair, but Ash hadn't even batted an eyelash and had eventually shrugged and gone with his business. He hadn't known how to react until a skinny rat-faced man had come to greet him with a wry smile on his lips and an amused glint in his intelligent eyes.

"He's been waiting for you, you know?" The man had said and introduced himself as Garth. "He's got this database of were activity, and as soon as you pinged on it, he's been eager to meet you."

"He is quite good at quelling his enthusiasm." Castiel had stated, and Garth had giggled before he had given a tour around their shop, eager to find something the alpha might like. They had eventually ended up in the back room, where Ash had slouched in a chair, a wide array of computer screens scattered in front of him. The screens had stared at Castiel with ominous columns of numbers and letters, an avalanche of empty information eagerly tumbling across the led-lit flat screens.

"Man, did you know that you're the only one in this neighborhood?" Ash had asked without looking at him, and had tapped away with his keyboard, lost in a world of code and patterns way out of Castiel's league.

"Yes," he had answered. It had been the main reason he had chosen Willowbrook.

"O-kay," Ash had said and that had been that.

They had never asked more, nor had he asked the reason for the ridiculous name of their music shop. Even though Castiel had never been keen on socializing, it was a relief that there were a couple of humans he didn't have to pretend around. They didn't know the whole story of course, and he had every intention to keep things that way.

When he stepped in, Garth looked up from the stack of CD's he had been filing and smiled, and Ash yelled a muffled "Yo, man!" from somewhere behind the counter. How the mullethead always seemed to know it was him, Castiel had never learned.

"I've got almost everything of your order waiting." Garth said, put the CD's aside and went to the counter. "The Cantus had to be ordered from Boston and it takes a bit more time. But it should be here next month."

Castiel nodded. Ash and Garth had grown used to him visiting rarely, once every month or two, and knew to put his orders aside to wait for his visit. Garth rummaged around and produced several CD's, grinning widely.

"Karajan, just like you requested. And the man himself."

"Thank you." Castiel smiled. He wondered briefly if he should find something for his guest as well, but then decided against it. He had no idea what kind of music the omega preferred, and he was hesitant to buy CD's blind. He paid for his purchases and accepted the bag Garth offered him. He turned his head to scan the shop and found it empty of other customers.

"Ash," he said quietly. "May I have a word with you?"

Ash glanced at him, then nodded and beckoned him to the back room. When he closed the door behind them, Ash raised his brows, waiting. Castiel fidgeted, unsure of how to pose his request.

"Someone you want to find or hide?"

Castiel blinked several times before he answered, "The latter."

Ash nodded. "Yeah man, thought so." He sat on his chair in front of the ominous constellation of screens, fiddled his fingers in the air before he attacked the keyboard. "Okay, give me something to work with, alpha."

He didn't know what to say to that and looked at the human helplessly. Interacting with his own kind had always been trying for him, and interacting with humans was even weirder. Trying to communicate with a computer program was so far from his comfort zone that he was practically on the dark side of the moon.

"Specs, details, anything man." Ash prompted. "Okay then... omega, right?"

Castiel's eyes widened. "How-?"

Ash waved his hand. "Magic, man. Besides, you wouldn't be so troubled over an alpha or a beta, right?" Ash's fingers made an intricate dance over the keys, and several screens flashed and blinked. Castiel was momentarily fascinated of the process.

"Bonded?" Castiel shook his head. "Anything else, anything special?"

Castiel thought for a while. "His car. Big, black with chromium details. No plates that I could find."

Ash nodded and for a while the room was silent but for furious tapping that rocked from one corner to the other, filling the room with soft clicking and clacking. Then Ash turned around and pointed at the screen that held several pictures of cars fitting Castiel's parametres. He studied them intently until he found what he was looking for.

"That one," he said, pointing with a finger.

More tapping. "So, a male omega driving a black Chevy Impala -67. Where's he coming from?"

"I don't know."

"Okay. What's his name?"

He hesitated before admitting, "I don't know."

Ash turned to look at him, every trace of the lazy music shop owner gone. Castiel realized that the man sitting in front of him was very, very dangerous if he so chose, and he was quite relieved to be on his good side.

"What do you want us to do? Keep him off the radar and inform you if someone starts asking questions?"

"I would appreciate that," he agreed. "Thank you, I'm in your debt."

Ash waved his hand dismissively and turned to his computers. "Nah, nevermind. You're our alpha anyway." Without a further word he started tapping away, the clicking of keyboard raising a wall of noise, a vortex of arrays, algorithms and data structures swallowing the man in the middle. Castiel could understand when he was dismissed and he retreated the room leaving the self-appointed computer genius to his work. When he closed the door behind him, he wasn't surprised to see Garth leaning casually to the wall beside the door. He offered the smaller man a hesitant smile and got a wink in return.

He was out of the shop before the reality what Ash had said sunk in: the man had called him 'their alpha.' It felt oddly warming.

 


 

Visiting Rosen Remedies was, like always, a chore in every sense of a word. No matter how nice and friendly the owner of the herbal shop was, something about her set Castiel's teeth on edge every time. Luckily he didn't need to visit her shop very often, but this time he had no choice.

The idle chatter of Miss Rosen surrounded him in a cloying cloud, poking and prodding his eardrums until he was sure he would start bleeding from his ears. The actual words of the neverending chirping were usually relatively easy to tune out, but unfortunately for Castiel, this time he was forced to actually listen to get the answer he needed.

"A liniment? Do you mean like an ointment for sore muscles? Oh yes, I have several options for you. This one is cooling with menthol, lavender and peppermint; this one on the other hand is a warming one. And, oh! I just got a shipment of a novelty that combines them both, first cooling and then warming, it's supposed to be very efficient and relaxing. Would you like to try it? No? Alright then. I can give you samples to go so that you can try and decide in your own time which one you prefer-."

It was frustrating, really. Miss Rosen was genuinely interested in her customers and very eager to please them, pouring her efforts in trying to find them products they were looking for. Unfortunately for her, the methods she used were quite tiring, and when Castiel finally tore himself out of her shop, he was exhausted. In a span of an hour he had interacted more than in the last six months combined, and it was taking its toll.

He rubbed his temples and breathed in through his nose and out throug his mouth, and was able to calm himself while he walked to the car. He still had to do the groceries, but at least he wouldn't have to actually talk to anyone once inside the store. He placed the bags from Badass Records and Rosen Remedies to the back seat of his Ford before he started the car to drive to the supermarket.

He didn't get out of the car once he parked it though, but sat for several minutes, bracing himself. He didn't like crowds, he didn't like to be stared at, he didn't like the whispers that wrapped themselves around him, taunting and smirking, hiding behind innocent smiles if he deigned to turn and take a look. But he was out of food and he had an omega to feed. He breathed deep a couple of times, squared his shoulders and got out of the car. The squeal of the door was like a pitiful cheer from the sorry Ford, but it heartened him anyway.

Once inside the store he went through his routine of picking family packs of rice, pasta, coffee, black tea, sugar, oats and canned beans before venturing the produce section. He stopped and wondered what he should choose. It had been a long while since he had bought fresh vegetables and fruits, preferring ready-made meals and large quantities of dry products. He hesitated for a moment before dumping random products to his cart. Onions, a pineapple, carrots, avocados, leek, brussel sprouts, yams, bananas and several fruits that looked way too exotic to be real. He was on his way to get some nuts and dried figs, when he froze and turned slowly around, letting go of the shopping cart.

There was another wolf somewhere behind him.

Castiel scanned the store slowly, his senses sharpening. The other wasn't an alpha so at least he wouldn't have to defend his territory in the middle of a store amongst humans. Everything seemed to slow down around him and he cocked his head, trying to pinpoint the scent of a beta near him. He realized he was way out of practice, when someone cleared their throat behind him. He whirled around, his trenchcoat billowing and was greeted by a slender, dark-haired woman.

"Good day, alpha," the beta greeted politely and tipped her head to bare her throat in submission when meeting the alpha of the territory for the first time.

Castiel stepped stiffly closer and scented the beta. She held completely still and kept her eyes averted, but her stance was tall and proud and she did not cow in front of her superior. It drew a low growl from him, and he was satisfied to see her flinch and smell a slight sliver of fright seep to her scent. Almost immediately he realized what he had done and backed away from her, blushed, averted his eyes and bowed his head.

"I apologize. It's been a while since I've encountered a new were in Willowbrook."

The beta nodded her head in acknowledgment. "Apology accepted," she said and watched him for a while. Then, "You are the lone wolf, aren't you?"

He huffed a humorless laugh. "Is that what they are calling me now?"

"Mmm... not exactly. They also say that you are a hermit and almost feral."

"The infamous 'them'," he muttered, suddendly tired, anxious to be done with his shopping.

"Yes," the beta said, inscrutable expression on her face. "I'm Lisa. It was good to meet you, alpha."

"Thank you. It was good to meet you, too." He didn't offer her his name.

 


 

The Ford lurched when its tires slipped on the gravel road and the car complained loudly about the poor handling Castiel offered it. The sun was already setting and he was still a good while from home, as the trip to Willowbrook took longer than he had anticipated. At least he had been able to purchase the items he had wanted, even with meddling shopkeepers and the stress of meeting a new were in his territory.

He was a little confused why the beta hadn't come and asked for a formal audience with him, which was the normal procedure when entering the territory of a strange alpha. But then, he had never been especially territorial or held on to his rights, and while his precence in the Willowbrook area wasn't exactly a secret in the were community, he hadn't advertised it, either. He had chosen his home primarily for its remote location that gave him the opportunity to live what was left of his life in peace, not to be disturbed by territorial disputes or to be called out to act as a mediator.

The good thing about being the only were in the area was that there were no quarrels to mediate.

But still, it didn't explain why the beta hadn't come to make an official announcement of her moving in, as was customary. She wasn't a threat, of course, not with his alpha-status outranking her tenfold, even if he was a feral hermit living in a ditch. Which he wasn't, at least not feral. Yet.

He shared a sigh with his car. The truth was that he was a hermit and the house he lived in wasn't exactly in a mint condition, but he denied the allegation of being almost feral. He had never been a very aggressive alpha (a fact his family had constantly nagged him about), and after witnessing what aggressiveness had caused to his two eldest brothers, he was rather happy with his more placid nature. He had never been one to succumb to his alpha side, not when bonded, not even after-

He gripped the steering wheel with force, his knuckles white, as the memories carved under his sleeves throbbed and burned, threatening to slither free from under the cuffs to taunt him in front of his eyes. The air inside the car turned sour and stifling, pressing into him from all sides. He steered the car to the side of the road, stopped it and hurried out, gasping big lungfuls of air that was free of his memories and the confinements of the car. He kept his arms on his sides, hands fisted and stared resolutely to the sky and the sunset, allowed the sun to burn away the past written in his skin through the pain in his eyes. His vision turned white and he felt wetness on his cheeks, but he kept staring, until the fiery orange blaze had scorched through his retinas to the back of his skull.

Later, when he finally staggered back inside the car, he noticed he had pressed his fingernails through the skin of his palms.

 


 

The house welcomed him back. He had been away longer than usual, and the shabby walls embraced him with a feel of calmness and contentment, and he indulged in the sense of silent acceptance, leaning his back to the closed door behind him. He put the shopping bags to the kitchen counter and frowned at the amount of food he had ended up buying. He had no idea where to put everything. In fact, this was probably the first time he had this much of food in his kitchen all at once.

He was so preoccupied with his own musings that he missed the omega entering the kitchen. It wasn't until the man cleared his throat that he turned around, startled.

"Sam! What are you doing out of bed? You are not yet well enough to walk around." Again he saw the omega wince slightly at the name, and, not for the first time, wondered what was his real name.

The omega gave him a careful one-sided shrug. "I slept most of the day, and when I heard your car, I decided to come downstairs to have a look at the place." He looked at the groceries on the table and cocked his brow. "Expecting company?"

Castiel glanced at the food. "I might have gone a little over the top," he said, bemused. "I didn't know what you like and ended up buying a little of everything."

The omega smirked. "I don't know what I like, either. Everything except water tastes like shit."

Castiel gave a noncommittal noise. "It must be because of your concussion. How is your sense of smell?"

"Isn't," came a blunt answer. "I don't smell anything."

"Oh." Well, that might partly explain why he didn't react normally to the proximity of an alpha.

"So, what are you going to do with all this stuff?"

Castiel frowned. He hadn't thought about that. "I don't know," he admitted. "I'm not used to cooking."

The omega looked at him oddly. "What do you usually eat then? Or do you have a personal chef?"

Memories from days past trickled down his arms and his inhale hissed coldly against his teeth. He shut his eyes and turned his head slightly and let his voice out steady and calm, camouflageing it in the veil of normalcy. "Usually I eat convenience food or rice and beans or something along that. I seldom even try to cook because there's only me."

"Hmh," the omega huffed and started to unpack the groceries. He sorted out the food in neat piles: vegetables in one pile, fruits in the other, dairy, meat, frozen goods and everything else in appropriate sections. He then proceeded to go through the cupboards and pantry, placing everything in their proper places. Castiel watched on, perplexed and amazed at the omega's ability to command the kitchen he had never been before without a second thought. He was natural about it.

"Do you have any canned tomatoes or red lentils?"

The question caught him unawares and it took a couple of seconds for the meaning of the words to sink in. The omega watched him expectantly, and with a perplexed shake of his head, Castiel went on to find the requested items. They were approved with a curt nod, and Castiel backtracked to sit at the table to watch. The omega moved with easy, fluid motions that spoke of practice and love for cooking. He picked onions, potatoes, carrots, ginger root, red lentils and canned tomatoes, and within fifteen minutes there was a pot of lentil soup simmering on the stove. Castiel had watched with a rapt attention, but for the life of him he couldn't have repeated the preparations even if he had wanted to.

Not for the first time he wondered about the omega. What was the real reason for him to be unbonded? He was undeniably attractive both in looks and scent and seemed to be in reasonably good health even when slightly starved, as he appeared to be at the moment. He also had a strong spirit and quick mind, both aspects that Castiel approved in every person, were or human. Was the reason his marred physique? Castiel couldn't fathom how or why the omega would be so brutally scarred, and as it came more and more obvious that the man didn't remember who he was, Castiel couldn't ask him. First of all, that would require him admitting that he had, in fact, looked, and he wasn't that sure that the omega would appreciate him invading his personal space while he had been unconscious.

The omega had cleaned the counter, put the trash away and rinsed the knife he had used. He turned to face Castiel and swayed a little on his feet, and Castiel hurried to his side and took him by the elbow.

"That needs to simmer for a while, right?" Castiel asked, and when the omega grunted in agreement, he nodded. "You need to sit down unless you want to end up on the floor again."

The green eyes were clouded with pain once again, and Castiel sighed at the omega's stubbornness. Why couldn't he just have stayed in bed and rest? But somehow, he knew it wasn't they way the man worked, and staying in bed would have probably made him even more irritated and bitchy, no pun intended. He steered the omega from the kitchen to the living room and guided him to sit onto the couch. The bags from town rested on the coffee table and he rummaged his newly purchased stack of CD's to find the one he was looking for. Ah, there!

He went to his stereo and put the CD to the deck of the player. From the corner of his eye he noticed the omega narrowing his eyes at his music set, but he said nothing. Castiel pushed 'play', and the music filtered via the amplifier and through the speakers to the expectant air around them, swirling in gentle spirals.

"Choral singing? Really?"

Castiel shrugged, sat down to the other end of the couch, leaned back and closed his eyes. The soothing notes of Requiem swayed and rocked through the air, voices rose and fell in harmony with the orchestra, the resulting volume cradling him where he sat.

"What is this?"

"Requiem by Mozart, performed by Berlin Philharmonics and conducted by Herbert von Karajan, a recording from the 60's," he answered without opening his eyes.

"Oh."

They sat in companionable silence, letting the music soothe them in all its glory. To Castiel this was a very new experience: despite his long history with classical music, this was the first time he actually shared the rather intimate experience of listening it in the privacy of his own home. Previously, he hadn't wanted to, or if he had, he was scoffed at. But now, sitting here side by side with the strange omega, he felt oddly at peace.

"Isn't requiem like funeral music or something?" The omega asked a moment later.

"Not 'like', it is funeral music. Funeral mass, to be specific."

"Why the hell would you listen to funeral music? Are you dying or religious?"

Castiel shrugged. "I don't count myself religious, no. I appreciate the music for its beauty, not the possible message it carries. It can soothe you, ease your pain, make you feel better..." His voice trailed away.

"So, basically you use music as therapy." It wasn't a question, and as such, required no answer. But the omega was right. To him music was therapy: a way to unwind, to ease out his frustration, nervousness, anxiety and fear; his nighmares, his hopes, his dreams. Not that he really had any of the two latter ones, but he believed his nightmares made up the lack of hopes and dreams.

Rex tremendes, indeed.

"Did you know that Mozart had been an exceptionally talented, but his mate, Salieri had never accepted his talent and superiority to his own, more meager talent? It was said that the brilliance of Requiem caused Salieri to succumb to alpha rage and jealousy and thus end up poisoning his mate.*) Nothing was ever proven, of course."

The omega turned his head and looked at Castiel, amused and incredulous. "Alpha rage and jealousy?" He snorted. "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

It was Castiel's turn to stare. His amnesiac guest was a wolf himself. How could he not know what an alpha rage was?

Unless he had forgotten it.

How could one forget their secondary gender and species? It should be impossible.

Chapter Text

Time blended into a blurred spiral without him noticing. The days and nights were all the same: he slept fitfully, headaches and the penetrating pain in his pelvis and lower back waking him several times a night. The days were sluggish and clumsy, the fucker of a nausea playing hide and seek inside his head with its BFF vertigo. At times he caught a glimpse of the oily curtain of emptiness deep in his mind, but it evaded him, spinning him around until he was dizzy and wanted to vomit. It was frustrating: there was something hidden in his mind, something vital and important, and he couldn't reach it. He would've banged his head to the wall out of spite, had he known it would've most likely a) knock him out and b) cause another concussion. So, he gritted his teeth and tried to bear with it.

It helped a lot when the guy he was crashing at didn't try to push him. Cas mainly kept his own company, listening his music and reading. But somehow he always seemed to know exactly where he was, if he was in pain, tired, hungry or frustrated. It was like Cas smelled it on him, and didn't that just make him sound a bit insane? Anyway, the guy was frighteningly perspective and oddly attentive, in a funny sort of gruff way. Cas had even bought him some weird herbal liniment shit for his back and said he had seen him wince with pain when moving. He hadn't said anything to Cas about his FUBAR pelvis, and the guy hadn't asked. He was grateful for the liniment though, because it helped, even if it made him smell like a granny.

In a weird, fucked-up way it was interesting to find out what he knew. Every now and then something came up, and he knew about it, the stereo system being an excellent example. When Cas had played him the funeral music (Okay, who does that?), he had squinted at the names he had seen on the front panels. He might not remember his own name or where he was from, but he remembered bits and pieces of various facts, and it seemed like the knowledge of kick-ass stereo was one of them. Because, if your system said McIntosh, Music Hall and Magnepan, it meant you were fucking serious. It also meant that you had shitloads of money, which didn't exactly fit the image Cas gave.

So, yeah, Cas was a weird guy. He lived alone in a ramshackle house, didn't know how to cook didn't own a phone of any kind, let alone a TV. But he had a fuckton of books and a stereo system to die for. Also, the system was the sole object of any worth he had seen in the house so far. Not that Cas lived in the middle of rubbish - no, it just looked like he was located in the house only temporarily, and ready to move on. There were no photos of any kind, no pictures on the wall, nothing personal. Only the food in the kitchen, the stereo, CD's and stacks of books told that someone actually lived here, and even the books might have been a bit questionable proof.

It was like Cas didn't know how to live, but seemed just to drift through life. He had been at loss with the groceries and most of the time didn't seem to know how to have a decent conversation. On the other hand, when the other party of said conversation was amnesiac, the coherence of the conversation was a bit hazardous. And sometimes he had the feeling that Cas was afraid of him, which was just ridiculous. Why would the guy be afraid of a concussed amnesiac who couldn't even stay up all day without dropping off at some point?

It also looked like he knew about cooking. Of course, knowing more than Cas wasn't a feat since the guy was completely useless in the kitchen and basically could be trusted mainly with boiling water or cutting the bread, with supervision. And then there was the thing with his sleeves: the guy absolutely refused to roll them up, and cooking with your sleeves down was downright unhygienic. One day he had tried to persuade Cas an even got as far as getting a hold of his right wrist, but it had resulted in Cas snarling at him and practically running out of the kitchen. The guy had stayed out of his way for the rest of the day, locked up in his room, and only emerged the next morning, his face pallid and eyes dull.

He didn't bring up the sleeves again.

 


 

He wasn't sure how long he had been with Cas. When you hit your head hard enough to forget your own name and address, keeping track of days is probably not the biggest of your problems. But he figured it was somewhere between one and two weeks. He tried to check it from Cas, but the guy had shrugged and said he didn't know. Turned out, Cas didn't have a calendar, either. When he asked how the hell did he cope, Cas had looked at him seriously and said that he didn't have any obligations and that he could go shopping when he ran out of food and that it was pretty much the only reason for him to leave the house.

Cas was obviously a bit cuckoo.

He had been taking care of the cooking ever since the lentil soup. Cas could make coffee and tea, but everything else was on him. It made him feel oddly warm and pleased when Cas complimented him about the food, no matter how mundane or basic it was. It made him wonder what kind of food had Cas been eating if his cooking made him sing praises, and whether he himself had never been praised, if Cas's compliments made him feel so ridiculously good.

He'd really, really like to know who he was, fuck you very much.

Every now and then he tried to remember, usually at night when he couldn't get any sleep because of the frigging pains. The liniments Cas had bought him helped, but on the other hand he would have to get out of bed to apply them and wash his hands afterwards. He had once made the mistake of not washing and found out exactly how refreshing a menthol liniment feels in your eyes: fucking crispy!

And now, it was one of those nights again. He tried to shift to his side, but his back pain was even more vicious than before, and he was barely able to move his right leg, before everything cramped. He stifled a scream and bit his tongue while trying to cope with the combined sensation of molten steel being poured down his spine and the muscles, nerves and joints on his pelvis being slowly torn apart. He couldn't help but whimper and sob in pain and trepidation, when he realized that the cramp had taken the liberty of strolling up his back and handing the flayed nerve-endings to the demon that was his headache. When the base of his skull lit up in avalanche of white-hot flames and all he could feel was pain, he screamed.

Somewhere deep inside his mind, the oily curtain parted.

...the only things that helps are booze and Percocet it hurts it hurts you're worthless shut up you shouldn't combine Percocet and booze it's bad for you it hurts shut up Sam it hurts it hurts it hurts you're nothing but a hole to be fucked shut up you're broken shut up shut up shut up...

He was dimly aware that he was still screaming, but somehow he was on his side and warm hands applied pressure to his lower back, forcing the pain to retreat, snarling and trashing when denied the free reign it had revelled upon. Someone was sitting beside him, someone was touching him, and touching hurt, everything hurt, and, fuelled by fear and pain, he lashed out as hard as he could.

"Don't touch me!" He shouted, and his fist connected with something and there was a surprised and muffled sound, and the pressure vanished from his back when someone tripped and fell from the bed. He curled on his side, his breath coming with pained whimpers while his whole body trembled with the aftershock of the cramp and residue adrenalin. His heart scrambled frantically around in its bony cage, in futile attempt of breaking free of the restraints of the broken excuse of a body it had the misfortune to inhabit.

He was vaguely aware of a low voice murmuring nonsense, the sound circling him gently, not intruding but swaying in front of him, waiting for him to be ready. He gasped and latched on the voice, anchoring into it, letting it guide him out of the chamber of smoke and broken mirrors of his pained headspace, that tried to distort his sense of self into a jeering hunchback. Little by little, he breached the surface of sanity and could make out the words that were spoken to him, wrapped in patience and warmth and understanding.

"You are safe here. No-one is going to hurt you. Breathe. You are safe. Breathe..." Over and over again.

He forced his eyes open to look at Cas sitting on the floor, eyes wide with worry. When Cas realized his eyes were open, he deflated, closed his eyes, and rubbed his hand over his face.

"Thank God," Cas breathed hoarsely. Funny, since he had said he wasn't religious. "I'm sorry if I scared you. You were in pain and I thought I could help you."

Cas raised his head to look at him intently. His eyes were piercing pools of blue when they searched his own and he closed his eyes to avoid the gaze that seemed to reach too deep inside him.

"I don't think you should try to move yet," Cas said, concern pooling in the edges of his words, threatening to overflow. "And when you do, you shouldn't try it alone." The concern swell and flooded in soft swirls, pooled around his ankles and rose up to rest on his lap like a kitten.

"Okay," he managed to whisper hoarsely, and the kitten on his lap purred.

He heard Cas move around, but he didn't have the energy to open his eyes.

"Is there anything I can do for you?" Cas asked. "I would offer to rub some liniment to your back, but I'm afraid it could trigger another cramp." Cas was silent for a moment. "How about a hot water bottle? I think I have one around."

"Okay," he whispered again, and heard Cas leave the room.

He drifted off to a haze of pain and adrenalin, floated in a cloud of throbbing ache where he couldn't discern his body from the fog of distress around him. He didn't hear Cas coming back, but felt warmth against his lower back when the hot water bottle was pressed against him, and he was able to draw the outlines of his body again, separate himself from the formless agony surrounding him.

"Open your mouth," Cas said, and he obeyed. Cas pushed in a chunk of something cold, but before he could deduce what it was, Cas explained. "It's ice. I thought your throat might be hoarse."

The ice felt heavenly against his tongue, and when he swallowed the cold rivulets, they caressed his sore throat on their way down, soothing and easing the throbbing mess. Cas fed him two ice cubes more, before the darkness claimed him.

 


 

The following couple of days (Hours? Years?) were a hazy fog of pain and exhaustion. He couldn't get out of bed without Cas's help, and even then his back usually cramped like motherfucker. He cursed, snarled and growled, but together they were able to get him moving, although it was slow and painful going. He didn't let Cas rub his back or apply the liniments even when he asked for permission, but accepted the hot water bottle. It didn't take the pain away, but it helped to redirect the sensation and made it a bit more bearable.

Sometimes he wondered if everything would be easier if he ended everything: jumped off from the roof, slit his wrists or walked to the lake. He never had the chance to entertain the idea further, because ever since the self-destructive thoughts entered his mind, Cas took up the role of being his shadow. It was like the guy sensed his desperation and didn't want to leave him alone.

By the time his condition improved to the point when he was able to walk by himself and get out of bed without Cas's help, the guy informed him that they would need to visit Willowbrook.

"You go, I'll stay here," he answered grumpily.

Cas shook his head, determined. "No, I'm not leaving you alone for that long." He refused to listen any arguments, and with that, they were off the next morning.

It was the first time since his accident that he went out. The air was crispy and he could smell a scent of snow in the air. What did that mean - was it October? November? Where he even was? They walked slowly towards the corner of the house, where Cas's car supposedly was. When he saw the car, he stopped, as something was revealed through the curtain that covered his memories.

"Where's my Baby?"

"What?"

"My Baby, my car. Cas, where's my car?" His voice rose towards the end, but he didn't care. It had struck him suddenly, the need to see and feel his car, to make sure she was okay. Cas looked at him oddly, his brow raised, and then he showed him a tarp-covered object behind his own car.

"I covered it. No, don't move the rocks, I'll do it," Cas said sharply, when he made an aborted move to bend to kick the rocks aside.

Together they uncovered his car, and his breath hitched when he saw the damage she had suffered.

"Oh Baby, what the hell happened to you?" He murmured sadly, stroking her hood.

"Maple tree," Cas deadpanned.

He snorted and rolled his eyes. "Don't listen to him, he's a weird guy. But okay, I think," he added, and from the corner of his eye, saw Cas duck his head. He stood there for a moment, resting his hand on the roof of his Baby.

"Okay, let's cover her up." He nodded to Cas, and they were careful to cover her up properly, and then Cas made sure that the tarp was once again secured in place by rocks.

"It'll take some work, but I can make her right again." He mused, his mind cataloguing everything he would need to fix the car, and didn't notice Cas stopping to turn and stare at him.

"You can fix cars?"

He looked at Cas and frowned. He didn't know how, but he knew he was fucking awesome fixing cars. He looked at his hands and saw they were calloused, perhaps from years of working with tools.

"Yeah, I think I can," he answered and grinned.

Cas blinked but said nothing when they walked to his car. It was a green Ford Focus, and he groaned.

"Yeah, I think I must know how to fix cars. There's no fucking way I'm going to drive a Ford-fucking-Focus any more than absolutely necessary."

"You won't be the one driving." Cas commented flatly.

"Dude, same difference," he snorted and missed the slight frown on Cas's face at the new moniker.

 


 

"Badass Records?"

Cas glanced at him curiously. "Yes," he answered slowly. "It's a music shop I visit regularly. Something wrong?"

He shook his head and snorted. "Nothing." Badass Records? Honestly?

When they entered, they were greeted by the owners, he realized the reason behind the shop's name. Cas introduced them as Ash and Garth, and while the guys seemed decent enough, he decided to hang back and observe. It was funny to see Cas interact with someone, because in the house there were only the two of them, and Cas's people skills didn't come out as especially fluent. But he moved somewhat relaxed around the shop, in a way that told him that Cas had been here fairly often and was familiar with both the shop and its owners.

Quiet music drifted in the background, and he stopped, cocked his head and listened:

...Once the stone you're crawling under / Is lifted off your shoulders / Once the cloud that's raining over your head disappears / The noise that you'll hear / Is the crashing down of hollow years...

He snorted and rolled his eyes. Chick-flick moment, not his thing. He glanced to at the counter and saw Cas talking quietly with the mullet-headed relic from the 80's. The background music changed into something more amiable, and he soon realized he was nodding his head and tapping his foot in tune with the music. He flipped idly through the CD's on the rack and the he froze.

"Found something you like?"

He blinked and turned to see Garth smiling at him. The skinny man cocked his head and reached out to take the CD he had clutched in his hand.

"Oh, Zep. Good choice." Garth nodded, his eyes bright.

He didn't know how to answer him. The CD's title had hit him in the head like a hammer and his hand had involuntary taken hold of it. All he could feel in his head was black, oily goo, swallowing his vision and blocking his airways. He had to get out of here, he had to get outside, to run away from the tentacles of blackness drawing him in somewhere he didn't want to end up being in. He blinked hard to clear his vision, and then Cas was standing in front of him, searching for his eyes, gripping his shoulder tight.

"I-. I need to get out," he managed, and Cas didn't ask him anything, just led him out to lean against the shop window. He missed the sharp looks shared between Cas, Garth and Ash, too busy concentrating on breathing and staying standing.

"What happened?" Cas asked softly after he had regained his composure and was breathing somewhat normally again.

He looked up. The air was crisp and clean, the sky blue with a hint of feathery clouds drifting leisurely in the distance. He didn't want to think about what had happened inside, and he definitely didn't want to go back.

"I don't know," he said tiredly, letting his eyelids drop. He shook his head and turned to look away from Cas. "I think I saw something I used to know." His voice was quiet and detached, as if what had happened didn't affect him at all. He probably couldn't fool Cas a second, but he could always try to lie to himself at least.

Cas made a noncommittal sound. Then, "Would you like to walk around on your own? There's not that much to see, but the weather is nice. I have some things I need to take care of." Cas slipped a twenty to his hand and shrugged. "Or, if you don't feel like walking, there's a bakery behind the corner."

He felt his face lit up. Bakery?

"Do they sell pie?"

Cas looked confused. "I have no idea, I've never been there. Go and find out."

He grinned. "Awesome!" His sense of taste might still be fucked up, but he could always at least try.

Cas gave him a small smile that made him feel all warm inside. "Good. I'm not exactly sure how long it takes to take care of my business, but I'll meet you there when I'm done." With a nod, Cas turned and went back inside Badass Records.

"Awesome," he repeated, tucked the twenty inside his jeans pocket and crossed the street. He felt eyes on his neck, like pinpricks poking and testing him, but he shrugged the feeling away. The joys of small towns, he gathered. He was a stranger in town, he was bound to be stared and pointed at.

The streets of Willowbrook were clean and the whole town had a warm air around it. It was a standard American white-picket-fence-and-apple-pie-life display of a dream, seasoned with a healthy dose of inbred suspicion and curiosity, and most likely garnished with a warped sense of humor. "Like Everwood," he muttered and had no idea what he meant by that.

It didn't take him long to find his way to the main street. There was a library, health station and several small shops, but he didn't see the bakery Cas told him about. He walked slowly along the sidewalk, taking his time and enjoying the weather. A small nagging voice on the back of his mind tried to tell him that walking was for wussies, but he ignored it. If it felt good, he might as well do it, right?

He had stopped to read the posters plastered on a notice board on the wall, when a female voice interrupted his thoughts.

"Would you like to come in to try?"

"Sorry, what?"

The woman was quite pretty, with a heart-shaped face and chocolate brown hair. Something about her tugged his mind, but she didn't come across as dangerous.

She laughed. "Come in, I won't bite." Her eyes flashed in amusement that he didn't quite catch. "I'm Lisa, by the way."

He nodded. "I'm... Sam," he said, and it sounded just so wrong. Lisa's eyes narrowed, but she said nothing. Actually, come to think of it, Cas narrowed his eyes pretty much like that whenever the name was called. Did they know it wasn't his real name? How could they?

His mind preoccupied he followed Lisa inside, and was already well in the dimly lit room, when his wits returned. He was in a gym of sorts - no. He was in a fucking yoga class.

"Lisa..." he warned, but she waved her hand and winked.

"Come on, change your jeans into sweatpants, I have several in the changing room. I'll help you to gather the necessary tools."

And then, before he realized how the fuck he had ended up in a frigging yoga class, he was wearing green sweatpants and sitting on a soft but somehow sticky mat with cork tiles, a long woven belt and a pillow that looked like an overgrown hot dog. He glanced around him and saw content-looking yogis sitting cross-legged on their mats, their hands resting on their thighs, waiting for the class to start. He looked at Lisa and felt completely out of place and nearly panicked.

"Good morning everybody. Today we have a visitor in our class, so I hope you'll forgive me for taking this class a bit easier on you, while I concentrate more on helping Sam." She was answered with humorous snorts, and somehow he figured that 'taking it easy' was not something associated with Lisa.

"Close your eyes and breath deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Good. First, we recite 'om' three times silently in our minds and then three times together out loud. Let's begin."

Oh fucking hell. He was sharing a class with fucking tree-hugger hippies. His face burned with embarrassment and he peeked glances at the other participants, who seemed to be totally at ease with Lisa's instructions. Fuck his life, honestly.

An hour later his face burned red for a totally different reason. He would've never guessed that yoga could be this taxing. He was trembling with exhaustion even though Lisa helped him through the poses (as they were called) with professional ease with the help of the weird tools he had. He had no time to look at the other participants or feel embarrassed, because all his energy was spent on maintaining each pose at the time. He was also convinced that the US Army had lost a fucking efficient officer in Lisa, considering the way she drilled the class through.

When Lisa said it was time for the relaxation to finish the class, he almost wept out of relief. She helped him into a weird cross-legged pose with his soles pressed together, his legs supported by cork tiles and the belt, and the odd pillow behind his back. She maneuvered his hands rest on the floor and finally covered him with a soft blanket, all the while talking the rest of the class through breathing exercises and relaxation sequence. He felt vulnerable splayed on his back like that, but at the same time he was comfortable, warm and limp, and before he realized it, he had drifted off.

 


 

When he woke up, Lisa was sitting beside him wrapped in a fluffy cardigan, a teamug in her hand and another on the floor beside her, smiling softly.

"Hello, sleepyhead," she said. "Don't move unless you want to trigger a cramp," she warned and helped him to unravel the pose bit by bit, guiding him to turn to his side before pushing to sit up.

"You sure are a mess," she commented, not unkindly.

"Yeah," he rasped as an agreement.

"How are you feeling now?" Lisa asked. "No cramps right now, I can see that, but otherwise?"

He cocked his head and made a mental run around his body. Surprisingly enough, he felt pretty good, considering that he had been through an exhausting session, torturing every muscle he had and inventing some new ones along the way. His head throbbed, but that was nothing new, and his lower back and pelvis felt oddly numb and warm. He frowned and reached his hand behind him, to poke at the small of his back.

"Your back isn't in that good a shape, you know. Unless you start to do some serious exercise, you won't be walking in a few year's time." Lisa said bluntly, but her eyes were gentle. "What happened to you? Were you in an accident, or...?" She let her voice trail away, but the implication was there in the open.

He shrugged with forced nonchalance and picked at some nonexistent flake of dust on the hideous green sweatpants. "I don't know," he said quietly.

Lisa didn't comment, but offered him the other teamug, which he accepted gratefully, to get something to occupy his hands with. He took a sip and was pleasantly surprised, when the tea tasted like tea, instead of stale bilge or deep-fried underwear, or shit like that.

"I don't know because I don't remember," he said. "I woke up with a concussion after I'd crashed into a tree by some guy's house. I'm staying with that guy because there's nowhere else to go before I remember where I'm supposed to go, and- oh fuck..." He groaned. He had forgotten about Cas.

Lisa raised her brows at his cussing.

"Uh, pardon my french. I was supposed to meet Cas, the guy I'm staying with, in a bakery a while ago. Shit!" He dropped his head to his hands and rubbed his face, wondering where he could find Cas. But when he lifted his head to ask Lisa to help him up, he glanced out of the window and saw Cas striding along the sidewalk.

"Oh. He's here." Okay, how did Cas now that he was here?

Lisa glanced up, breathed in sharply and turned to stare at him. "Him? You're staying with him?" She asked in a disbelieving voice, eyes widening in alarm.

"Um. Yeah. Why?"

Lisa considered him for a second. "Are you sure it's exactly safe?"

"Why wouldn't it be?"

But Lisa didn't have the time to answer before the door opened and Cas walked in.

Chapter Text

Ash and Garth had guessed instantly who the man accompanying Castiel had been, and as soon as the omega had wandered off to check the selection, Ash had drawn Castiel into a deep conversation that had had something to do with search parameters and configurations. Castiel had understood absolutely nothing and had concentrated mainly on grunts and 'okays' in places he had thought were appropriate. When the omega had had a panic attack or a flashback of sorts, Castiel had immediately dropped the conversation in order to rush to his side, feeling the shop owners curious stares at the base of his neck.

The mention of bakery had perked the omega up, and Castiel had been relieved to send him off. He should remember to buy the man some pie someday, because he seemed to have a fondness to baked goods. Castiel had returned inside Badass Records to continue negotiating the most efficient way of surveillance to keep the omega safe and under radar. Or, Ash had continued talking and Castiel had listened. But Ash obviously knew his job and Castiel was more than content to let him be the brain of 'The Operation Hideaway', like Ash had started to call it.

The conversation with Ash had taken a lot longer than Castiel had predicted and when he had finally made his way to the bakery, the omega had not been there. First, he had thought that the omega hadn't made it yet, but after buying an assorted box of doughnuts and drinking a cup of coffee out of pure politeness, he had started to worry. Willowbrook wasn't a big town, but it was still perfectly possible to get lost in it, especially if you were as addled in the brain as the omega unfortunately was. Castiel had thanked the barista for the coffee and exited the bakery wondering how to even start to look for the man. He had been frowning and blinking furiously, deep in thought, when a silvery ribbon of scent had beckoned him.

Of course, the scent. The omega might have a disabled nose, but Castiel had fully functional nasal cavities and olfactory system, and he couldn't understand why hadn't thought about using them from the start. But then, he had been told repeatedly over the years that he was not that smart, and this incident seemed to be another indicator that the old allegation was true.

Castiel closed his eyes and sniffed carefully. The now-familiar, pleasant-but-odd scent of the omega drifted along the street, and Castiel followed it. The scent carried no signs of stress or fear, which eased his mind considerably. The scent trail was easy to follow, the pheromones swaying in the air, calling him, tugging at his sleeve to follow. He felt momentarily ashamed: he had vowed to keep the omega safe (even though he hadn't told it to the man himself), and he had lost him just like that. Anything could've happened, the omega could've been hit by a car, might have had a panic attack or pain attack, or he might have been found.

The last thought clenched his gut with a surprising force, twisted his insides into a cold and slimy knot that seemed to suck all air and warmth from around him into itself. Castiel stopped and swayed, momentarily distraught both with the idea of losing the omega and having formed this strong a connection to him in such a short span of time. He almost dropped the bag containing the doughnuts and his purchase from music shop, only the reflex of fisting his hand sparing the treats from smashing to the concrete.

Why did he feel like this? Hadn't he already learned what happened when his emotions got involved?

He gritted his teeth and forced his feet on, coaxed them forward by pretending his attention was elsewhere and felt grim satisfaction only when he was steadily moving onwards, his legs on automatic and his head spinning.

Caring was risky. It placed your happiness and, consequently, your entire life into someone else's hands to treat in any way they chose. You had only the word and good will of the other to go with, and absolutely no proof whatsoever whether the other was reliable enough to be trusted with your heart. If the other felt like you did, it could be heaven. If not...

Castiel sighed and shook his head at his rambling thoughts that fluttered inside his head like scared birds. No point in wallowing in the possibility of a relationship. The omega didn't even know who and what he was, and Castiel was too bitter, too broken, too used and sad to be of any use. And even though the idea itself might have been appealing, the implications and possible consequences were too grave to ignore.

His body had been moving with his conscious thoughts elsewhere, and before long he found himself in front of a purple door. The omega's scent trail ended here, which meant he was inside. He cocked his head and looked at the big display windows that were covered with deep purple, turquoise and orange curtains, with the words 'Dechen Yoga' taped across the window. He was about to step inside, when another trail of scent caught his nostrils.

Another wolf, vaguely familiar. A beta. Inside with his (No, not his!) omega.

He was hit with the instinctual alpha reaction that made him drop his stance into battle mode: his fingers stretched, nails ready to lengthen into claws. He snarled aloud and his lips curled when his olfactory system readied itself to preserve the offending scent of the beta for instant recognition, before he got a grip on his alpha side and brutishly forced it to step aside. He could feel the animal part of himself snarling and trashing in the deeper layers of his consciousness, furious and betrayed to be ignored and eager to prove its worth by fighting the beta who had had the nerve to challenge his claim.

Too bad there was, in fact, no claim to defend.

His body took Castiel completely by surprise. Of course he knew about the automatic alpha reactions, but he had never experienced them before. He had never before threatened to turn on instinct, not even when-.

He took several deep breaths in conscious effort of calming himself, and only when he felt he was again fully composed, he entered the building.

 


 

The omega was sitting cross-legged on the floor, a soft blanket around him. He looked relaxed and, a little embarrassed? He had a teamug in his hand, but the mug was almost full and was possibly there just to give his hands something to hold on to. Beside him sat a familiar woman - the beta Castiel had met in the grocery store a couple of weeks earlier.

Lisa set her teamug on the floor and got to her feet in one gracefully fluid motion, and Castiel saw how the omega's eyes followed her movements intently. He felt the cold slimy knot tug under his sternum and gritted his teeth to get his temper under control. He knew that Lisa had no hindrances with her sense of smell, and that she could probably smell his simmering aggression well enough.

"Hello, Lisa." Castiel greeted politely, if somewhat stiffly.

"Good day," Lisa answered with a nervous smile and tipped her head to the side in a sign of submission. Her eyes flicked briefly to the omega and Castiel guessed she had left out his status not out of disrespect, but for the sake of the omega. He nodded her once, a notice that he understood and approved.

"Uh, I take it that you two know each other?" The omega asked from the floor, a little perplexed.

"We have met," Castiel commented curtly, his eyes still in the other were.

"Okay," the omega said, somewhat dubiously. He turned slowly to his knees and stood up stiffly, keeping his back straight. Lisa made a move to help him, but stopped when Castiel narrowed his eyes and stepped forward to offer the omega his hand instead. He wasn't surprised when the man swatted it aside and got to his feet on his own. Stubborn, stubborn man.

"I went to the bakery, but you weren't there. I bought you some doughnuts anyway." He thrusted the bag towards the omega, who accepted it in automatically.

"Ah. Sorry about that, Cas." The man said and winced, embarrassment clouding around him. "I tried to find the place, but before I got there, Lisa lured me in." He glanced at the woman and grinned.

Castiel felt the cold slime make an inelegant dive around his insides. "Oh," was all he said. Of course the omega would choose the alluring woman over a grumpy and broken older man.

"Yeah," the omega grinned. "I ended up in friggin' yoga class with some mantra-reciting hippies, but it felt fucking amazing and I actually fell asleep in the end." There was wonder in his voice, and his face was relaxed. Castiel liked the look of it very much indeed.

"I think your back would benefit from regular yoga." Lisa commented pensively, a slight frown on her face, cataloguing the minute changes on the omega's posture with a professional eye.

"Really?" The omega's voice was careful. "Regular like how? Weekly? Daily?"

"Weekly here, but you could practice the easy poses by yourself. I can lend you the necessary tools and give written material to refresh your memory." She winked and the omega snorted as an answer.

Castiel watched the exchange closely. He was happy for the omega to find a possible relief for the excruciating back pain he had been suffering from, but at the same time he felt something poisonous and filthy crawling up his spine, oozing that cold slime all around, until he was slippery and sticky with it. It took him several minutes to realize he was jealous, and most likely reeking of it. He shook himself mentally to get rid of the slimy substance of the unwanted emotion, his arms twitching in dread of going through the separation of emotional attachment again.

"Cas?"

He blinked. ”I’m sorry, what?"

The omega watched him with a raised brow. "I asked if it would be okay for me to come here. That means that you’d have to drive me since I can't drive yet, and even if I could, it's your car anyway."

”Don’t concern yourself with it. If there's even a slight chance this could help, you should participate." Castiel looked at the omega, but from the corner of his eye he saw Lisa's eyes widen.

”Great!" The omega smiled. "I'll go change then, I'll be back in five." The man headed to the back, probably to the dressing rooms where his jeans were. Castiel noticed only now the bright green sweatpants the omega wore. They framed his ass quite nicely. He swallowed and turned to look at Lisa.

The beta regarded him levelly. "I have no intention to challenge your claim, alpha. Not that there is an actual claim, but nevertheless."

He stared Lisa intently for several seconds and then decided to go with it. "It would be hard to claim someone who doesn't know who and what they are,” he said quietly.

Lisa nodded slowly. "I thought that something was amiss when he didn't greet me properly. He said he didn't remember his name or where he came from, but... I've never heard of a wolf forgetting their species. It sounds incredulous." She fell silent, pondering something. "He said he crashed?"

Castiel nodded. "Just outside my house. He hit his head quite badly, and I believe that the impact triggered his back pain."

"About that," Lisa interjected. "Do you have any idea what caused that to him?"

Castiel hesitated. He wasn't sure how much he could say without an explicit permission from the omega. He decided to go with vague. "I'm not sure if it's 'what' as much as 'who,'" he said carefully.

Lisa's eyes widened and her scent changed instantly as a reaction to the possibility of someone intentionally harming an omega. Castiel shook his head. "Don't ask me more. I don't know, and what I do know is something I'm not sure I'm allowed to share."

Lisa fell silent and watched him with keen eyes. "Fair enough," she said after a moment, approval evident in her voice.

Castiel nodded, glad that it was settled. Then something occurred to him. "I will pay for all his expenses, of course."

Lisa smirked. "Of course you will," she agreed, and Castiel frowned. He was about to question Lisa about her remark, but the omega returned, clad in his jeans again, the bag of doughnuts and CD's dangling in his hand. Castiel and Lisa turned to look at him, and he stopped short in the combined scrutiny of blue and hazel gazes.

"Something on my jeans?"

Castiel's eyes dropped to his crotch without his permission, and when he tore them away, they creeped their way upwards slowly, caressing the planes of the clothed torso gently before finally finding their way to the beautiful, green eyes. Narrowed, suspicious green eyes. Castiel blushed and quickly averted his eyes.

"Okay then," Lisa said, amusement dancing in the corner of her mouth. "I'll gather a set of tools for you. Oh, and I'll add a spiked yoga mat, if you’d like?"

"A what?"

"It's a padded yoga mat with plastic spikes. They'll massage the acupuncture points in your back and pelvis and will help you to relax. Just give it a try, okay? You don't have to use it if it doesn't work for you."

The omega stared Lisa in amazement, and Castiel used the opportunity to nod his approval to Lisa. She could pack everything she thought could help the man. When Lisa was done, she handed the giant tote to the omega, but Castiel was quicker and snatched it, ignoring the green-eyed glare.

Lisa gave the omega a stern look. "Try only what feels comfortable. Don't overdo it, unless you want to trigger a cramp. Remember how to get up from the floor. And ask for help, I'm sure your... host wouldn't object." She didn't look at Castiel, but they both knew what title she had actually meant.

The omega rolled his eyes and saluted. "Yes, ma'am."

Lisa huffed a laugh. "Okay, shoo," she said fondly, but her eyes were serious when they met Castiel's.

 


 

They made a quick stop to do their grocery shopping, and Castiel was more than satisfied to push the shopping cart and let the omega pick anything he wanted. It was strangely nice and domestic, and Castiel knew it was dangerous. He shouldn't indulge in this, to pretend he could have this, to pretend it would last. To pretend there even was an 'it'.

The omega practically danced around the aisles, happiness rolling off him in thick waves, and to Castiel it was amazing that someone could feel such contentment comparing loaves of bread or picking out a perfect cucumber. It seemed to satisfy some deep need in the omega, to be able to go through piles of oranges to choose the best ones or to read the ingredients from at least dozen different packages of cookies. The latter led to the omega rolling his eyes and mutter something along the lines of ’pre-made shit not worth the money,’ and then he stomped off to gather copious amounts of ingredients that took Castiel some time to identify as the ingredients for home made cookies.

He had never had home made cookies.

"I've never had home made cookies," he said to the omega, when they made their way to the cashier.

The omega turned to look at him with incredulous eyes. "Never?"

"Never," Castiel confirmed.

"Well, fuck me," the omega breathed.

Castiel blanched. "I-. I don't understand what that has got do with cookies."

"What? No. Oh, for fuck's sake, Cas!" The omega hissed. "It's a figure of speech. I wasn't... proposing or anything."

"Oh. Good, good." Castiel sighed, relieved, and then realized how his response might be interpreted. "I wouldn't presume-. I mean-. I don't expect you-"

"Cas, shut up."

Deep breath. "Yes."

"Okay. I'll go there and try to find some bananas." The omega turned and walked to the section displaying toilet paper, and Castiel was too flustered to point out that the section in question wasn't likely to offer bananas.

When they got to the checkout, the silence between them was uneasy and crackled with newfound tension. Castiel was painfully aware of all the stares shot in their direction and he twitched with the temptation to draw the omega into the safety of his arms, to shield him from the suspicious looks of the Willowbrookers. The omega was somewhat subdued and walked carefully, and Castiel wasn't sure if it was because of Lisa's yoga class or if the omega sensed the oppressive air around them, even if he didn't smell Castiel's alertness and need to protect.

They had gathered a rather impressive amount of food products to their cart and it took the cashier some time to process them. Castiel sent the omega to pack the groceries to give him something to do, but also to keep him from learning the total. Something told him that the man was probably fiercely independent spirit and would be upset with the total of their shoppings - especially when he had been the one to do the picking. But despite Castiel's efforts, the omega heard the total anyway, and by the alarmed widening of his eyes, Castiel knew he was far from happy.

"250 bucks? Friggin' two-hundred-and-fucking-fifty-bucks?" The omega hissed when they made their way to Castiel's Ford. "You should've said something!"

"Like what?"

"I don't know!" The omega exclaimed in frustration. "Maybe something like 'Stop piling shit to the cart, we've got enough already,' or 'Take the cheaper sugar, not that fancy-ass organic one."

"Why?"

"What do you mean ’why?’"

"Why should I have stopped you from gathering products or make you shift to a cheaper sugar?" Castiel asked, genuinely confused.

"Um. Maybe because the total was fucking 250 bucks!"

Castiel still didn't understand. "And...?"

They had reached the Ford and unloaded their groceries to the trunk. The omega whirled around to look at Castiel like he was an idiot. Maybe he was, because he had no idea what had gotten the omega so worked up.

"I don't want you to end up bankrupt because you took me to grocery shopping."

"Oh."

"Yeah, ’oh.’" The omega set his jaw and went to return the shopping cart.

Castiel sat on the driver's seat and thought hard. It hadn't even occurred to him that the omega would be so upset over money spent on groceries. Evidently the man knew quality products and enjoyed using them, but for some reason he wasn't okay with using money on them. Was it because he wasn't used to spending money in the first place? Or on food? On things he enjoyed? His thoughts were interrupted when the omega opened the passenger door and sat carefully on the seat and buckled up. Castiel started the car and steered the car away from the parking lot.

"I'm sorry," the omega said after several minutes of awkward tension.

"For what?"

"For disappearing on you. That was stupid of me."

"If it's of any consolation, it helped you to find Lisa. And speaking of which, how do you feel?"

"Tired. Sore. Tomorrow I'm probably dead from muscles I didn't know I had." He shifted on his seat and winced slightly. One class wouldn't fix his back, but with time, maybe it would get a bit better. Castiel truly hoped it would.

"But you want to continue, don't you?"

The omega bit his lip and looked out of the window. Castiel had a sudden urge to reach out and touch the omega, to soothe him out of his concerns, convince him that he could tell Castiel anything and he would always be there to listen. He gripped the steering wheel to keep his hands where they belonged, instead of letting them wander where they were not welcomed, no matter how much his body wished it. Something was brewing between them and it made Castiel uneasy. He was afraid of the new turn his life had taken, afraid of where it would lead him and if he would survive it. At the same time he was oddly exhilarated and giddy, eagerly embracing every moment spent with the man he knew nearly nothing about.

"Why are you doing this?"

The question took Castiel by surprise. The air inside the car stilled, waiting for his answer to determine the way it would develop, if the brew would grow stale and flat or bloom into a heady and fascinating concoction. His past wriggled and writhed under his sleeves, reminding him that nothing was forgiven or forgotten.

"Because I want to. Because it's the right thing to do."

"How can you say that? You know nothing about me."

Castiel shrugged. "I know enough."

They drove in silence.

 


 

Lisa had packed a full set of essentials and a stack of written instructions to go. Castiel watched with baffled fascination while the omega unpacked everything from the tote bag and set the tools on the floor in a neat row. There was a large, cylinder-shaped pillow (a 'bolster,' Castiel learned), cork tiles, a woven belt, a yoga mat and the spiked mat Lisa had mentioned. It looked like a medieval torture tool, an orange mat covered in sharp, plastic spikes. The omega poked at one with his thumb and winced at the feeling.

"I don't know how and why the fuck I'm supposed to lie on it, but then, I’m not the teacher," the omega muttered.

Castiel reached for the instructions. "It says here that you can place it on your bed and fall asleep on it." The omega snorted. "It also says that you can start with keeping your shirt on, but it works better when the spikes have direct contact with your skin."

"Um. Yeah, but no."

Castiel cocked his head. "Why don't you try it while I prepare dinner? We still have some of that rice and tomato soup of yours left from yesterday."

The omega still looked doubtful, but went to place the spiked mat on the floor and stopped to think. Castiel watched curiously as the omega took a pillow from the couch, dropped it on the floor, pushed the coffee table out of the way, placed the mat in front of the couch and grouched to lie down. There were muttered curses and several gasps when his whole weight bore down on smaller area, the spikes burying themselves deep into his skin, but eventually the omega lowered himself fully on the spike mat, moved the pillow properly under his head and lifted his legs on the couch so that his pelvis and knees both were in 90 degrees angle.

"Okay, maybe it’s not so bad," the omega admitted. "But I still don't want to try this without my shirt on."

Castiel nodded and went to the kitchen to heat up the soup. They had unpacked their groceries already, leaving only heaps of fruit and a couple of loaves of bread on the counter. Castiel dug a big bowl from the cupboard and piled the fruit in it. The loaves could wait for a while - it was more than likely that one of them would be gone by the evening anyway. The omega ate a lot, but not in a greedy, gluttony way, but more like a man who had not been used to the abundance of food or hadn't had the opportunity to eat his fill for some time instead. He had already started to fill his frame and lose some of his starved look. He was a bit taller than Castiel and broader of shoulder as well and by no means 'a delicate omega.' When properly healed and in good fit, he would be an impressive sight. Not that Castiel should be even thinking about that.

He brought the soup to simmer gently, and then turned the heat off to avoid burning it. The soup had been delicious and the omega had said it would taste even better when re-heated, and Castiel had wondered how did he know so much about food and cooking. Castiel took two bowls and glasses from the cupboard and placed them on the table, cut the loaf of bread into generous slices (just like the omega liked them), and set the table with bread, butter, cheese, and lastly, the pot of soup. He went to the living room to announce that the dinner was ready, but he found the omega soundly asleep. He watched the sleeping man for several, long seconds , savoring the opportunity to caress him with his eyes. Then he sighed and with a small smile went to fetch a blanket and covered the man with it.

Castiel went back to the kitchen and pondered what to do. He could wait for the omega to wake up, but considering how tired he had been, it might take some time. And Castiel was rather hungry himself, and honestly didn't want to wait with his dinner. His decision made, he sat down at the table and helped himself with a healthy serving of soup and several slices of bread. The soup was delicious, but then, everything the omega cooked was delicious. He ate in silence, revelling every spoonful, only regretting that it would be considered too impolite to eat all of the leftover soup himself.

He wasn't exactly sure when he had developed an actual appetite after years of neglecting his body, feeding it only as far as it was necessary, but he had realized that he enjoyed the omega’s cooking (both the process and the results) and was very satisfied to share his meals with the man.

The bag with doughnuts and CD's rested on the counter. Castiel took out the box of doughnuts and left it by the pot of soup to wait for the omega. He wasn't that much of a sweets person himself, but by the way the omega's eyes had lit up by the mention of pie, Castiel could figure that the man had a serious sweet tooth.

He took the CD's out of the bag and walked to the living room. Two of the CD's were not for him, and Castiel put the them carefully on the coffee table. He wasn't exactly sure how the omega might react when he saw them, but Castiel still wanted to try. The other was the CD the omega had been holding when he had had his panic attack, the other was suggested by Garth. Neither band was familiar to Castiel, but they weren't for him, after all. He took his own CD's to the stereo and considered what to play. He glanced at the sleeping form of the omega on the floor and made a decision.

Concerto for Birds and an Orchestra. He smiled, sat onto the couch, closed his eyes and leaned back.

Chapter Text

Okay. Yoga.

He couldn't remember who he was, but he was pretty sure that he hadn't been into yoga before. Something deep inside him yelled pretty hard at him about being a total chick for doing it, but since he didn't remember who he was, he politely asked that something to shut up and fuck off. Doing yoga felt nice and made him feel better, and if it made him a girl, well, then he was okay with it.

When they had returned from Willowbrook after his first class, he had unpacked all the things Lisa had loaned him and on a whim he had decided to try the friggin' spike mat. He had awoken some time later, his whole back oddly warm and numb. He had been covered snugly with a blanket and Cas had been sitting on the couch beside his legs and listened some freaking odd music with birdsong. When he had stirred from his sleep, he had actually thought he had been either outside or they'd had a flock of birds and shit inside the damn living room. But it had been the new CD Cas had bought, and it had been music for Birds and Orchestra. Really fucking weird, but, if he was being honest, also pretty fucking beautiful, not that he would ever admit it if someone asked.

It was happier music than the Requiem Cas had played earlier. Or not exactly happier, it was still haunting and sad, but it wasn't as desperate as something Cas liked to play more often. It was pretty obvious to him that Castiel expressed his emotions like a constipated rock and used music as a means to channel his feelings. It seemed like most of the music Cas preferred was raw and violent, some desperately sad, and too few content or happy. If music was a way to read the moods of the guy, Cas was, in general, a sad, lonely and desperate person. The realization made something inside him ache.

He had already familiarized himself with the most common of Cas's choices: the Requiem from the Mozart dude, some organ piece of Bach that sounded like it could be from a rock album, an intense-as-fuck piano piece and a massive whirlwind for orchestra and organ, that for some reason sounded vaguely familiar. When he had listened it for the first time and the music had hit the part where the organ played with full force for the first time, he had nearly fallen from the couch. It had been embarrassing, but it had also made Cas smile a genuine, small smile that crinkled the corners of his eyes, and that had given him a weirdly warm feeling. As if it was his responsibility to make the guy smile.

...Aaand about that. There was something going on, but fuck if he knew what.

When Cas had marched into Lisa's yoga place that day a couple of weeks ago, there had been a palpable tension in the air and something had flowed between Cas and Lisa, but he didn't get what. And he had been (Still was!) sure that the guy had checked him up after he had changed back into his own clothes, but then Cas had blushed like a teenager. Not to mention the awkwardness at the grocery store... Had Cas actually though he had offered to jump into bed with him? Had he? Would Cas want him to?

Oh fuck, he was so screwed.

He had been in two more of Lisa's classes, and they had been exactly as grueling as the first one, with her drilling the others and guiding him, and at the end of the class helping him into the same weird pose as the first time. It got easier, though, if only ever so slowly, and with Lisa's encouragement, he started practicing more at home, too. Well, not like it was his home, but Cas's, although strangely enough it didn't feel like it was a home for Cas. The odd feel of detachment lingered around the building, like it was waiting for them to move out and leave it to rot in place. But he liked it there. The house was a run-down, ramshackle hovel that radiated negligence, but it had started to feel like a home for him already. He had started to take care of the place little by little, mainly cleaning and cooking, but also tightening up some loose screws here and there. He wasn't sure if Cas had even noticed, but he didn’t mind.

After his first trip to Willowbrook he had asked Cas a permission to buy a calendar to keep track of days, in order not to miss a yoga class. Lisa had provided him with her phone number along with the tote bag of yoga tools in case he wanted to ask her something about the poses, and he had been too wrung out to tell her that he didn't have a phone and neither did Cas. But Cas had gone and surprised him by buying him a cellphone while he had been on the second class, gruffly shoving the box to his lap before he had started the car to drive them home (Cas's home, not his). He had tried to protest and point out that Cas had already used too much money on him already, but to no avail.

"Don't worry about the money." Cas had said, his eyes firmly on the road ahead.

"But-," he had tried, and Cas had driven the Ford to the side of the road.

"Look, Sam," Castiel had said and they had both winced at the name. "I understand that you are worried about the money, but please believe me when I say that there's nothing to worry about. I actually have a decent amount of it, even though I know it doesn't look like it."

”'Decent amount,’" he had repeated. "What does it mean, exactly?"

Castiel had frowned. "What are you asking, exactly? The balance of my bank account?"

He had shrugged and turned his head to look out of the window. The following comment was not what he had expected.

"Six- or seven-figured sum. I'm not sure, because I'm not interested. In addition to that there are several trust funds, but they are not exactly mine, so they don't count." Cas's tone had been flat and emotionless, his whole demeanor grey.

He had whipped around on hit seat to stare at the guy. "You're kidding, right?"

"Oh, you wish. I would give it all away if I could, but unfortunately I'm not allowed to do that." Cas had turned bitter and prickly, his face in a sneer, something sickly swirling around him, wrapping him in a cocoon, and he had wanted to tear it to shreds and make Cas smile again.

"Anyway," Cas had continued, "I hope this eases your financial worries. You'd have to purchase a lot more than a cartful of food or a cellphone. Oh, and by the way, the phone is a pre-paid and untraceable." Cas's voice had been even but there had been tightness around the edges that had made him curious, but the curiosity had slipped away from the oily, black surface in his mind.

"So, does this mean we could have a computer?" He had asked in a gently mocking way.

Cas had shrugged and started the car to drive them home. "If you want one, then yes. I have no use for it myself."

"Okay," he had said, because he hadn't known what else to say.

The next week, when he had gotten into the car after Lisa's class, Cas had handed him a box containing a laptop.

"Don't ask what it is or how it works, I have no idea. Call Ash if you need help, he installed it."

He had been speechless. He hadn't actually meant to ask for a laptop, but Cas had taken him seriously and got him one. He had blinked several times, trying to figure out what to say and failing miserably. After several minutes, he had cleared his throat.

"TV?" He had asked innocently.

"Don't push it," Castiel had warned with narrowed eyes and started the car. He had grinned and leaned back on his seat.

 


 

He didn't know how and what Ash had installed on the laptop, but turned out he was able to use several sites, including Netflix without a charge or logging in. He was pretty sure that it should've been impossible, but as he wasn't the computer genius, he didn't question it. He had found out that the phone number of Badass Records had been programmed into their (His?) cell, and along with Lisa's number, they were the only contacts he had. Not that he needed more, because he had everything he needed right at the house.

After acquiring the phone he had had a sequence of numbers flicking through his mind every now and then. He had written the numbers down to a document he had opened in his laptop, and it had looked like a phone number. He had yet to gather the courage to call it, because something made him hesitate. He didn't know what or why, but the feeling was so strong that he decided to abide with it. He also remembered that at some point Cas had said that if there ever was any kind of a problem regarding computers, phones or information, he should check it out with Ash. He hadn't, yet. Something made him wait.

According to his rough calculations he had been living in Cas's house for about a month now. He was still clumsy and groggy and tired easily, especially on Wednesdays when he had Lisa's class. His thoughts were muffled and slow and he still had occasional headaches and nausea, but fortunately they were rarer. His amnesia and anosmia (Thank you, Google!) stayed, though. He kept a log on his symptoms on his shiny-ass laptop on one document and recorded bits and pieces of scattered information on another. He didn't know what to do with the seemingly random memories that surfaced, but it probably wouldn't hurt to write them down. So far the document held the sequence of numbers, and the words 'fire' and 'Sam/hair', and the three lines made him feel extremely uneasy. Not much to start with, but at least it was something.

Apart from googling long-standing symptoms for concussion and binge-watching Netflix, the laptop was also useful in the kitchen. For reasons unknown to him, Cas had developed a deep fondness to avocados, and he had been busy trying to figure out what to do with them. Salads weren't really his thing and you could actually grow tired of guacamole, and he would rather have some solid, warm food on his plate anyway, thank you very much. When he had stumbled upon a recipe for Avocado Pasta, he had nearly inhaled his coffee. It had sounded so weird he had to try it.

Because of that, they now had Avocado Pasta once a week. Cas was a weird guy.

His sense of smell had been improving agonizingly slowly. If it didn't affect his sense of smell so fucking much, he wouldn't have minded, but because of his nose didn't work, most of the food he ate still tasted like shit combined with wet cardboard. That meant he followed the recipes to the letter, even if it made him feel slightly uncomfortable (although he didn't know why), because that was the only way to ensure the result would be decent. Cas praised his cooking daily, but as the guy hadn't eaten properly since, like, ever, his opinion couldn't be trusted. But the praise felt nice anyway.

He was in the middle of making a double chocolate chip cookie dough, when he heard a loud banging from the front door. He frowned. Who could it be? Cas had said at some point that he never had any guests. The banging didn't stop, so he rinsed and dried his hands and went to the door, yelling for Cas. When he opened the door he was greeted by a stocky, short man in obnoxious Hawaii-shirt, with sandy-colored hair and the most ridiculous pornstash seen on the face of the earth. Ever. The man gave him a dirty once-over and smirked.

"Well, Cassie, you sure have changed since the last time. For the better I must say."

He blatantly shut the door on the intruder's face.

"Oh don't be like that, cupcake. I just wanna be friends with you," came a muffled voice through the door and the doorbell started to ring insistently.

"Cas!" He bellowed. "There's an annoying dick on your porch. Can I punch him?"

The stairs creaked as Cas stumbled down, hair in disarray, sleep dripping off from him. There was no sleep left in his eyes though, and they burned with blue flame as Cas walked to the door and yanked it open. The dick spread his hands and grinned with way too much teeth.

Cas sighed. "Gabriel. What are you doing here?”

“Hellooo… Brother! You missed your monthly check-up, hence I was forced to come over.”

“Brother?” He asked and narrowed his eyes. “You never told me you had a brother.”

Cas closed his eyes in defeat. "It's not something I'm proud of."

The dick, Gabriel, pressed a hand over his heart and sighed theatrically. "You wound me, bro."

"No, I don't." Cas commented flatly, but for some reason moved away from the doorway. He looked resigned and crumpled, and suddenly all too much like the Cas he had seen when had first woken up after the crash. He hadn't even realized how much Cas had changed, before the change was pushed back into him.

Gabriel waltzed in and took in his surroundings with sharp eyes, before he turned to face him with a leer.

"Cassie, I have to say I understand why you've been preoccupied. With a delicious piece of an o-"

"Gabriel!" Cas's voice crackled like a whip, and he could've sworn he could smell ozone in the air. The dick froze in the middle of a word, his mouth agape and eyes wide. Cas used the opportunity to steer his brother to the direction of the living room.

"Please, carry on with your baking. My brother and I have some things to discuss," he called over his shoulder.

He stood by the open door for several seconds, before he shook himself out of the shock of the sight that was Cas's brother, closed the door and went to the kitchen. He poured his confusion into the cookie dough and felt partly sad that he wasn't in the making of bread rolls. You never got as good bread rolls as when you are royally pissed off. Punching the dough with all your fucked-up frustration results in a good viscosity.

He could hear voices from the living room, conversation rolling up and down, volume rising and easing, reeling in waves and surges, before it broke down to calmer murmuring. He didn't bother trying to listen on purpose, because whatever it was, it was probably private and not for his ears.

By the time he had prepared the cookies, the oven was ready, and while the cookies baked, he cleaned up the kitchen. It gave him a deep sense of purpose, making himself useful and doing something he knew he was good at. And if he made Cas happy in the process, well, he wasn't going to complain. When the cookies were done, he took them out and left to cool and walked to the living room, fully expecting Cas to escort his dick of a brother out in any minute now.

But for some reason, Gabriel stayed. Cas informed him flatly that if he insisted on staying, he would sleep on the couch, since both bedrooms were occupied. Gabriel tried to sputter an objection, but Cas called Gabriel's name again with that weird crackling voice, and then he had to flee to the bathroom because he was suddenly sporting an erection, leaving the bemused brothers staring after him. He hadn't even guessed he had a domination kink, but hey, everything was new because, amnesia.

He stood there, by the sink and stared at his crotch in disbelief. A real honest-to-god-erection, all because Cas had been a badass.

Oh shit.

Fortunately enough he had already baked the cookies and heated the food, which left him free to take care of his... problem and retreat to the privacy of his room afterwards. No fucking way was he going back downstairs tonight. He jerked off in a hurry, more than a little ashamed, and came with the image of Cas on his mind and a weird feeling in his ass. He didn't know what it was or why and sure as hell didn't want to dwell on it. He cleaned himself up, washed his hands and slunk to his room.

 


 

Things fell into an odd routine. He woke in the morning, went downstairs to prepare breakfast, and by the time Cas and Gabriel woke up, the breakfast was ready and he was already through his second mug of coffee. The brothers excused themselves to the living room, or, if he was there, to the kitchen to talk, and he tried to stay out of their way. Gabriel made him uneasy and nervous, even though he liked to sass back at him and more often than not they ended up in a banter that had Cas rolling his eyes and leaving the room. When it happened he felt oddly vulnerable alone with Gabriel, and it seemed that the dick noticed it and enjoyed riling him up even more. There was something about the way Gabriel smiled, the way his eyes moved over him, how he was a little too close to him that made him edgy and self-conscious in a not-good way. Funnily enough, Cas had no understanding about personal space either, but he never felt like this around Cas. Nervous yes, but in a butterflies-in-the-tummy-and-heat-on-cheeks kind of way, not the steak-on-display kind of way.

So, he tried to stay out of Gabriel's way and concentrated on writing down the sparse morsels of memories his mind dropped off every now and then from behind the curtain veiling his mind. It was frustrating, to wait and hope for his past to reveal itself, when he would've wanted to find out everything like, yesterday. He had tried again and again to push back the curtain, to force it open and draw his life out in the open, but the curtain persisted and stayed put. Instead of having a revelation, he ended up having a splitting headache and a spinning world tangoing together, flirting with the nausea that had barely decided to stay out of the party.

The first crack came two days after Gabriel's arrival, when he walked to the living room and saw Gabriel opening the Zep CD with an amused frown on his face.

"Led Zeppelin? Dream Theater? Didn't know you were into these, Cassie." Gabriel's tone was bemused and condescending.

"They're not mine," Cas stated absently from his book.

He strode into the living room, pissed that Gabriel would touch his things. "They're mine," he snapped and snatched the CD's from Gabriel's hands.

"Whoa, my gorgeous!" Gabriel hooted. "No need to get your delicate mind upset."

The curtain flapped when he whirled around. "I'm not your gorgeous!" He snarled with his teeth bared, and saw Gabriel flinch and Cas jerk his head up. He didn't stay to listen what they might have to say, but almost ran to his room and slammed the door shut. His heart pounded in his chest and his vision swam, and somewhere deep in his mind he heard a litany of filth that seeped to his system via cerebrospinal fluid and circulation, until it saturated him inside out, defining and labeling him, calling him with names he didn't want to hear.

He wasn't sure how long he stood there with his eyes squeezed shut, trying to control his breathing, trying to battle the something filling him, but losing miserably. And then he felt a hesitant hand on his shoulder, and the curtain snapped shut and he was able to breath again.

"Are you okay?" Cas asked tentatively.

He shrugged, not opening his eyes yet.

Cas let out a deep breath. "I'm sorry about Gabriel. He's... He's not doing these things on purpose, I guess. He's just not very considerate and he doesn't think what he says or does."

"He's a dick." It was a petulant whine and he knew that.

"That's a very accurate description of my brother, yes. But he's also the reason I'm still alive."

He turned sharply to look at Cas. The blue eyes were serious and sad, but also honest.

Cas shook his head slightly. "I'll tell you someday, but not now."

He nodded. "Okay. But I don't want to be alone with him. Don't ask me why, but I don't."

Cas squeezed his shoulder gently before dropping his hand. "Of course."

 


 

The next few days were awkward. He tried to keep his own company and avoided Gabriel as much as possible. He stayed in his own room, randomly flipping through endless webpages or watching some nonsense from Netflix. Sometimes he tried reading, but for some reason that triggered his headache, even though staring at the laptop screen didn't. He wondered if he would need reading glasses or if his brain just wasn't ready for letters yet. Maybe he should ask Cas to drive him to an optician the next time they went to Willowbrook.

Cas kept his promise. Whenever he emerged from his room, Cas was never far behind. He didn't hover or stalk, but stayed near him, seemingly immersed in his thoughts or book or music, but something told him that Cas was on completely alert the whole time. And, he didn't need to look at Cas to know that his eyes shot daggers at Gabriel whenever the dick entered the same room with them.

Little by little his feeling of paranoia subsided, withdraw to simmer under the surface, to play friendly in front of him long enough for him to let his guard down. Which was why he was completely unprepared the moment when everything fell apart.

It was Wednesday evening, he had had an almost perfect yoga class (He had fallen asleep in the end, again...), had finally grown a pair and texted Ash about the number sequence and was now in the middle of making some fancy-ass vietnamese thing he had found online. He was too relaxed and too content, immersed in his cooking, and failed to notice Gabriel tiptoeing behind him, suddenly grasping his hips as if to tickle him.

The oily blackness enveloped him in a flash and he reacted automatically, purely on instinct, and in a blur of movement he had Gabriel pinned against the wall with his hand on the guy’s throat and his snarling face inches apart from Gabriel's. Gabriel tried to gasp for breath and clawed at his hand, but he was so far in his own mind, the cold, oily black surrounding him and feeding him strength. He had no intention of letting go, no-one would ever hurt him again.

It took him time to realize that someone was standing beside him, pouring words over him, soothing him, enveloping him in a blanket of safety and warmth, but he wouldn't - couldn't trust it. The words kept on coming though, a steady stream of calmness and stability circling him and cutting out everything else around him, calling out to him. He blinked and could hear again.

"Let go, please, let go." Cas begged with an urgent, low voice. "You are safe here, Gabriel didn't mean a thing. He won't hurt you. Let go, please."

With a growl he dropped Gabriel, who slid on the floor, coughing and red in the face, and Cas knelt on the floor beside him. He stood there, panting, as the blackness receded from around him and he realized what he had almost done. He stumbled back a step, then two, then turned out of the kitchen and ran upstairs. He heard Cas's voice calling out for him (No, not him. The other. Cas was calling Sam, and Sam shouldn't hear about this - Sam could never hear about this!) He didn't slow down or stop, but ran to his room, closed the door with a bang and hauled the armchair against it, wedged its back under the handle of the door. He felt something snap in his back and then his legs gave out, and with a hoarse scream, he fell on the floor.

 


 

Pain, pain, pain everywhere. He didn't know where he was or how he had ended here. All he knew was pain - pain in his head, pain in his back, pain in his pelvis, pain inside him. He tried to scream, but when he inhaled, his lungs filled with smoke and dust and he started to cough.

It was a huge mistake.

The pain shot in a rapid white lava from his middle, stretched out like an exploding starfish, ripped through him, in him, around him. He swam in a boiling lake of agony, where every movement was interpreted as an invitation for a study in torment, a seduction of suffering. He didn't know where he ended and where the pain started, it was all the same flow of pure agony.

He was sure it was impossible to hurt even more, but when the flames leapt on him, he knew he had been wrong. The yellow tongues licked and sucked his skin, wrapped their tentacles around his middle and squeezed, squeezed, until he snapped in half, and the heat surged inside him, scorching him into cinders until there was nothing left.

He heard voices around him, calling for someone, for him, for anyone; voices screaming and screaming; he heard metal screeching and snapping; he heard waterfall and downpour and engines and fire crackling and screaming and then someone shouted, "He's alive! He's alive!" and "Oh dear God, it goes straight through him."

And thereafter, only pain.

 

 

≈≈ END OF PART ONE ≈≈

 

 

Chapter Text

The thick red rage boiled around him, swirling and roiling like a storm set loose. Castiel couldn't remember last the time he had been this furious. He had tried to warn Gabriel off, but, as usual, his cocky beta of a brother hadn't listened to him. He had acted out like he always did, gotten physical with the omega, unable to keep his hands off despite Castiel's stern instructions. As the result the man had gone nearly feral and almost strangled Gabriel. Castiel had been able to talk the omega out of his headspace and make him let Gabriel go, but when he had turned to look at him, the man had stared him and Gabriel, eyes wide with fear, and then fled to his room. Castiel had tried to call out for him, but he had only the fake name and it couldn't reach the omega who was at the edge of his lucidity.

As soon as Castiel had made sure Gabriel was able to breath, he had run after the omega, but he had already locked himself in his room and Castiel had heard something (A chair?) being dragged over the floor. Then the omega had cried out in pain, there had been a sound of something collapsing, and then silence. Castiel had started to pound at the door, begging the omega to let him in or at least to let him know he was alright. His worry swirled around him in frantic waves, curling around him and choking him in thick tendrils that tasted like lead and loss.

And then, the omega had started to scream and Castiel realized the silence had been a better option.

It was a sound of utter horror and suffering and it tore Castiel's mind into shreds and ripped his heart out. The stench of the omega's pain boiled from under the door and through the walls, and it attacked Castiel and drove him on his knees. He felt himself going under, turning feral, his alpha breaking to the surface by the call of an omega in terrible agony. He heard shuffling from behind him and whirled around to see his wide-eyed beta standing at the top of the stairs.

"Happy with your work, Gabriel?" Castiel managed, his voice a deep growl.

"Now Cassie, look, I never-," his brother tried, but the alpha had run out of patience.

"SILENCE!" He roared, not bothering hold back the power from his voice like he had before. Gabriel was slammed to the floor, and the alpha in Castiel was satisfied to see him stay down.

Castiel turned his attention back to the door and the torment behind it. He growled and rammed his shoulder against the door and felt it budge a little. There definitely was something blocking it. He concentrated for a second and tried to recall the furniture of the room. The bed and the drawer were too heavy for the omega to move even in his feral state, which left the nightstands and the armchair. Considering that the door had budged only a little, it had to be the chair. He drew breath and realized with a horror that there was another smell added to the pain and terror already hanging heavy all around them.

Blood.

Castiel redoubled his efforts and after several lunges was able to break down part of the door. He reached his hand through the crack to push the armchair down and away from the door and to open the lock. He ignored the scrapes the splinters drew on his arms and barely noticed them welling with blood. He only felt the frantic need to get inside, to help and protect.

When he finally got to the room, he stopped on his tracks. The omega was laying in a crumpled heap, his face white, eyes rolled back, trembling and screaming, although by now his voice was gone and all he managed was hoarse whine. Castiel circled around the omega, his alpha still on the surface, anxious to find the reason for the omega's agony. He saw no visible signs of an injury, but the stench of blood kept getting stronger. He turned the omega carefully on his stomach and saw it: the backside of his jeans was wet with blood, and with omega it could only mean one thing. But Castiel knew he hadn't been pregnant, so why was he bleeding?

Castiel grabbed a blanket from the bed, wrapped the trembling omega in it and lifted him into his arms. He strode out of the room and saw his brother standing on wobbly legs by the stairs, a dazed look in his eyes.

"The phone, at the coffee table. Move!" He barked, and for the first time in his life, Gabriel obeyed without a question.

Castiel hurried down the stairs as fast as he dared with his precious burden, and Gabriel was waiting for them, the omega's cellphone in his hand. Castiel grabbed it and called the first number. It rang only once.

"Ash, find me a hospital that's equipped with treating a male omega with internal bleeding. Money is not an issue."

 


 

Twenty-five minutes later the medical chopper rose from his yard, carrying them to the direction of a hospital that hopefully had staff who knew what to do with a bleeding omega. The paramedics were human, but obviously well trained to deal with weres (or thoroughly briefed by Ash), because they ignored Gabriel, avoided direct eye-contact with Castiel and called him by his status, and asked Castiel's permission for every move they made towards the omega. The pilot was a beta-wolf, but after she had greeted the alpha and briefly bared her throat in submission, she had turned her focus on her job, and Castiel didn't spare her another thought. His whole attention was on the omega.

The omega had lost consciousness at some point while they had waited for the chopper to arrive. Gabriel had asked carefully if Castiel would want to lower the omega to the couch, but when Castiel had snarled at him, his brother had fallen silent. Castiel had held the trembling omega in his arms the whole time, all his senses sharpened, his alpha controlling his actions. He had fallen under a trance of protection, his whole being coiling around the ball of agony the omega had turned into, desperately wishing he could draw it into himself instead.

When the chopper had landed and the three paramedics had hopped out, he had been torn between fighting them or letting them near. Two of them had stayed back while the senior, a middle-aged woman with a firm voice and kind eyes, had asked his permission to treat the omega. She had bared Castiel her throat as a sign of trust and submission, even though humans were by no means required do that, and, following her example, the two other nurses had done the same. Castiel had nodded and carried the omega to the stretcher himself, watched the paramedics strap the belts to secure him and lift him to the chopper, before climbing in and settling to sit by the omega's head, his back to the pilot. He hadn’t been even a bit surprised to see Gabriel tucking himself in a corner with a grim frown on his face.

"Saline and morphine, if you allow it, alpha?" The senior paramedic asked, startling Castiel from his thoughts, and he nodded his consent. It wasn't easy, though, to look at the paramedic give the omega a morphine shot or insert an IV-cannula into his arm, but he grit his teeth and forced his alpha side to stay still and wait. Blessedly soon the omega's trembling eased, indicating his pain was at least a bit eased, and Castiel was able to breath again.

"Could you give us an anamnesis of your omega?" The same paramedic asked, when she noticed that Castiel had relaxed enough to unclench his hands.

"Not my omega," Castiel murmured softly, but shook his head when the paramedic asked him to repeat.

"There's not much to tell. He crashed his car near my house about a month ago, and still battles the aftereffects of the concussion. He suffers from amnesia and loss of smell, and because of that, doesn't seem to know his name, species or secondary gender. There are some indications of abuse and former injuries, especially in his pelvic area." He ignored Gabriel's sharp intake of breath at the mention of abuse. "I suspect he's on the run, but because he's an unbonded adult, the pursuer has no legal claim on him." He stopped and fixed his eyes on the paramedic and his voice dropped to a low growl. "By our laws he's under my protection."

The paramedic nodded briskly and tapped her tablet to insert more info. "Claimed by alpha Castiel Allen," she confirmed, using the surname Castiel had adopted years ago. Castiel shook his head.

"No. Not Allen, Novak.”

The paramedic glanced at him curiously, but asked nothing. Gabriel, instead, stared at him in open amazement, and Castiel could smell the spike of nervousness from the pilot behind his back. He ignored them.

The rest of the journey went smoothly, Castiel filling the paramedics in on what had happened and what he thought might be ailing the omega. When they were landing to the roof of Valley General Hospital in Kipton, Colorado, the paramedic tapped Castiel hesitantly on the shoulder.

"There's something you need to know, alpha. The surgeon on call is... not human. But he's definitely the best we have, and your omega is in absolutely safe hands with him. Just let him do his job, okay?"

Castiel didn't know what to say, but there was no time anyway, because as soon as the chopper landed, the paramedics rolled the stretcher out and hurried it inside the hospital. Castiel jogged after them and sensed Gabriel follow him. He stayed beside the stretcher when it was rushed into the elevator and the senior paramedic rattled the report to the ER nurse that had come to greet them.

"-- the ER, Dr. Ferguson to the ER, Dr. Ferguson--" the intercom called, but Castiel tuned it out, too busy trying to decipher if the omega was in pain, if his condition was better or worse, or if he was going to survive at all. A slippery sense of dread curled into an oily ball somewhere under his sternum and sucked at his insides, making it difficult to even move.

More people were waiting for them when the elevator doors opened, and the omega was deftly moved to the responsibility of the ER nurses and sped forward, the chopper paramedics falling behind. If situation was not as dire, Castiel might have admired the beautiful efficiency of it all, like the exchange of the baton in relay race. But he had no time for admiration, when he had the omega to worry about.

The double glass doors closed in front of him, denying his entrance. He growled and demanded to be let in, but he was forced back by a nurse who informed him gently but firmly that since he wasn't the omega's bondmate, he wasn't allowed in. Castiel snarled and trembled, but was about to admit his defeat and turn, when a stocky figure swept past him.

Instincts kicked in, the red haze of rage rushing back in full force. All restraint disappeared and the pretense of civility dropped when the wolf in him took over, ready to attack and defend his omega from the age-old enemy in front of him.

"Vampire," he snarled all teeth bared, fingers extended, feeling his nails growing longer, the Turn taking hold.

The vampire turned and nodded politely. "Dr. Ferguson, at your service, alpha. You can also call me Crowley, if you wish."

Castiel growled and assessed the vampire in front of him, ready to attack as soon as the Turn was far enough. There was no way he would let that creature near the omega - his omega. He felt the full power of the alpha crackle in and around him, ready to be unleashed-

"Cassie, NO!"

Gabriel threw himself in front of Castiel, took a firm hold of his face with his hands and forced him to look him in the eye. A formidable feat from a beta shorter and weaker than the growling alpha, who was almost feral and over halfway to Turning.

"Cassie, stop! That's the doc who's gonna fix Sam, or whatever his name is. He's gonna save your omega's life. For fuck's sake, Cassie, you need him! Look at me! LOOK. AT. ME!"

Castiel blinked, and his growling faltered but didn't stop. He tried to follow the vampire with his eyes, but Gabriel didn't let him.

"Cassie, listen. They will sedate you if you don't stand down. The doc's our only hope, but he can't help if you don't let him. Please, come back."

Gabriel's words penetrated the thick red fog of his mind, battling a narrow path through aggression and rage, blowing fresh air to his muddled thoughts. He was no way in the clear, but he managed to nod and growled, "Go!" to the vampire, before he collapsed to the floor, gasping for breath on all fours. He saw movement from the corner of his eye and when he forced his gaze upwards, he saw a nurse with four security guards, ready to step in. He tried to fight it, tried to control himself, but he was already too far gone, and he grasped Gabriel's hand blindly.

"Help- can't- stop-. Shot."

Gabriel blanched, but he nodded and shouted something over his head. Castiel felt strong hands grip his limbs and rip open the neckline of his shirt, and then there was something sharp injected to his right bicep. Gabriel's worried face filled his vision before he was sucked inside of his own mind and he blacked out.

 


 

When he came to, he was disoriented. He was lying on his back on a bed, strapped in restraints, alone in a room with a regular window to his left and a one-sided surveillance window to his right. The only furniture he could see were a chair and a table by the window, bolted to the floor. The air was scentless and the lights indirect kind, pleasantly dimmed. It was a pointedly nondescript and soothing room, which meant that he was in a cool-down room, meant for weres gone feral.

He cleared his throat and winced at the soreness. He must have growled quite a lot, if his throat was in such a bad condition. He turned his head to look at the surveillance window and called out.

"Excuse me? I'm awake, cognizant and lucid. Any chance to get the restraints off?"

There was a rattle, and then he heard a gentle female voice via intercom. "Good morning, alpha Novak. Nice to see you awake. We'll send your brother in with a nurse shortly."

Novak? Why did the nurse call him by his family name? And why was Gabriel here? His head felt oddly soft and gelatinous and his mouth tasted like a devil had used it as a toilet. He didn't have time for further contemplation though, when he heard the lock click and the door opened, his brother stepping in with a brisk nurse.

"Hi, bro." Gabriel looked awful: his shirt was rumpled, face grey and he had black circles under his eyes.

"You don't look so good." Castiel rasped, and was rewarded with a watery snort.

"Look who's talking." He turned to the nurse. "Could you release him, please. He's fine."

The nurse wasn't convinced. "Look, sir. No offense, but an alpha gone feral like that... I'm not that fond of the idea."

Gabriel sighed and rubbed his face with his hands. "I'm sure you have seen a lot of feral weres here. But we're talking about my brother, who's never turned like that before. Ever. He has no history of feral behavior, not even when he might have had all the reason for it. And, he even asked for the Cortepherozone himself. Please, just release him. You don't have to let him out yet, but at least let him off the restraints."

The nurse huffed, then pursed his lips and shook her head. "I hope you don't make me regret this, alpha Novak." She muttered, and opened his restraints one by one. He made no move to get up, but rubbed his wrists and rolled his ankles instead.

"Could I have some water, please?" He asked hoarsely.

”Plastic mugs and the toilet's down there," the nurse pointed with a nod. She turned from the bed and walked to the door. "I'll be monitoring you," she said before leaving, and Castiel heard the lock click shut.

He pushed himself to sit on the edge of the bed and grimaced at the sore muscles he had everywhere. He was barefoot, but otherwise still in his own clothes. His shirt was ruffled and the neckline was ripped wide open from the right side.

"Gabriel," he said slowly. "Why am I in a cool-down room?"

His brother regarded him with a lot more seriously than was usual for him. "Cassie," he sighed. "What do you remember?"

Castiel closed his eyes and frowned, concentrated inwards. His mind was sluggish, but eventually he could recall images, scents, feelings, haze, him.

"The omega!" He breathed. "Where is he? Is he... Gabriel, is he alive?"

Gabriel gave him a grim smile. "Yeah, bro, he's alive. The doc was just as good as everybody said he was. They haven't told me much, though. I'm a beta and he's under your protection, so..."

Castiel felt giddy with relief. He stood up and took a step towards his brother, but Gabriel flinched and backed against the wall and turned his head, baring his throat to his brother. Castiel stopped, confused.

"Gabriel? What's wrong? Did you-. Did you just submit to me?" He walked slowly to stand in front of his brother and ducked his head to look Gabriel in the eye. "Gabe?" He asked softly, reverting to the old childhood nickname.

His brother chuckled nervously. "I thought it would be smartest to play safe, this time."

"This time? Gabriel, did I hurt you?" Castiel grew alarmed. Gabriel had never acted like this, like a normal beta submitting to an alpha. He stepped back, horrified that he might have harmed his own brother.

"You went full alpha on me, yesterday. You've used your alpha voice on me before, but it's always been controlled, only a sliver of it. But yesterday... fuck, Cassie, I had no idea you were that strong!" Gabriel's face was full of awe and wonder and his voice was almost reverent.

"I hurt you, didn't I." It was a statement, not a question.

"Um, yeah, you did. But mainly it was my pride, and honestly, I can only blame myself. You warned me, remember?"

Castiel sat heavily down on the bed. "It doesn't justify what I did. I'm sorry, Gabe."

"Well, I'm sorry too, bro." He sat onto the bed beside Castiel, and they shared a moment of uneasy silence, their mutual awkwardness hovering between them.

Then Gabriel twitched nervously. Castiel turned his head slightly towards his brother. Gabriel had never been able to stay silent for long, or at least when he wasn't scared shitless by a feral alpha.

"Who is he, Cassie?" Gabriel asked, perplexed. "You never told me about the possible abuse or that he's on the run. If I'd-, I would've never-"

"It was not my place to tell you." Castiel interrupted tiredly. "If I didn't consider it was necessary for his care, I wouldn't have told the paramedics, either. Besides, he doesn't remember any of it himself."

"I've never seen you like that. You've never gone full alpha or nearly Turned like that, not even after what happened with Liliana."

”I never thought that Liliana was in any danger. She rejected me."

"She rejected you because you exposed her. By law, you had every right-"

"A rejected alpha with a forcibly broken bond is incapable of doing anything except trying to survive." Castiel's tone was bitter, the acrid taste of his memories ashen in his mouth.

"Liliana was a bitch." Gabriel said flatly. "You should try to forget her. It's been over five years already."

Castiel sighed, tired to the bone. "It's hard to forget when her parting gift is carved to my skin."

Gabriel winced, the memory unpleasant and painful for him, too.

The intercom clicked.

"If you are through with your brotherly sharing and caring, I'd like to come in and have a chat with our gallant alpha. If it's alright with him, of course." The voice was silky and smooth, with a British accent and an undercurrent that was audible even through the static.

"Vampire." Castiel grumbled.

"I prefer Crowley, wolf. Now, may I enter or would you like to put on your muzzle first?"

Castiel bared his teeth at the direction of the surveillance window, got up and walked to stand by the window. He was perfectly capable of controlling himself with the vampire now that the omega wasn't in the same space with him, but he didn't have to like it.

A minute later, the door opened and Dr. Ferguson - Crowley, walked in. He didn't seem to be fazed at all, standing there, alone in the room with two adult wolves, from whom the other was an alpha that had almost Turned on him the previous day.

"So, about your omega..."

Crowley raised his brows when Castiel opened his mouth to protest. ”Oh, don't even try. He's got your scent all over him even though you are not bonded, and you cover all his medical expenses. And don't get me started on how you went all alpha because of him."

Castiel snapped his mouth shut.

"So glad we've got that settled." Crowley sniffed. "Now, about your omega. We were able to locate the source of bleeding and took care of it. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do to the state of his pelvis, the damage was too extensive and too old to even try. It looked like something had penetrated his abdomen and broken his pelvic bones, most likely rupturing his uterus at the same time. I've no idea who bloody incompetent tosser put him back together, but I've never seen such a messed-up MRI before. It's a miracle he's been able to walk at all."

Castiel felt like he might be sick, but he forced himself to stay calm.

"Was it intentional?"

"The pelvic damage? No. It looks more like an accident. My educated guess is that something crashed on him and staked him, and probably lit him on fire as well. That would explain the state of his skin. But, in addition to that there were several smaller cuts and burns around his torso, and they do look intentional."

At that point, Gabriel did get sick and fled the room. Harming an omega on purpose went against every moral code and natural barrier of the were community. The instinctual prohibition was so strong that even in a case of infidelity the omega was never physically harmed. Whoever had done that to the omega Castiel had been looking after, was a sick fuck indeed.

Castiel took several deep breaths to calm himself. "You said you were able to locate the source of bleeding. Is he alright now?"

Crowley cocked his head and watched him for a couple of seconds. "Have you mounted him yet?"

"I- what? No!"

"Good."

"Explain." Castiel snarled.

Crowley wasn't particularly impressed. "Down, boy," he commented flatly. "As I said, whoever fixed him years back, made a piss-poor job. His pelvic bones are a bloody mess and what tissue was left of his womb was so hideously patched up, that I would stake myself out of shame if it was of my doing. If an omega is ever in need of internal and/or channel surgery, the slick glands are meant to be left intact at all costs, as the channel nerves. None of that was taken care of for your omega.

"His anamnesis stated that due the concussion he was amnesic and didn't remember his species or secondary gender at all, but his body did, though. If I understood correctly, you have been in close quarters for some time now, yes?"

Castiel nodded.

"Have you been aroused in his presence?"

Castiel blinked and blushed.

"Oh, for heaven's sake..." Crowley muttered. "Has he been aroused in your presence?"

He hadn't allowed himself to think about it, but now that he had the permission to, he could remember at least one occasion, when the omega had frozen and fled the room, and a moment later Castiel had smelled his release drifting from the bathroom. It had smelled heavenly, and he felt himself harden at the memory.

"Brilliant," Crowley stated dryly. "Anyway. His body has been trying to answer your call subconsciously, and the literal mess left in his behind has caused this. He was fixed completely wrong, and it affected his scent, and now that he's been exposed to a virile, dominant alpha, his body forced itself into action to get you. Had you mounted him, even with consent, it might have severely damaged his channel, because you as an alpha do have a significantly larger… member than a human male.”

Castiel’s mind shied away from the implications of Crowley’s last words. He felt the red-black haze swirl right on the edges of his vision, and the mere thought of the omega being forced into anything was enough to make him growl. He shook his head, forcing himself to calm down in front of the sharp eyes of the vampire.

"Is he alright now? Can I see him?" He asked, his worry pouring from him in rivers.

Crowley smiled crookedly. "Oh, he’s alright, fixed properly now and all. He's still under due heavy medication, but I guess you can go and visit him."

Castiel's posture slumped, all fight gone. Crowley turned to leave, but stopped, when Castiel cleared his throat.

"Dr. Ferguson - Crowley. I apologize for my behavior last night. I thought... I don't know what I thought."

Crowley's eyes turned somewhat cool. "You thought that I would eat him and kill him. Well. I don't eat my patients, I treat them. It's called professional pride, I'm sure you've heard of it. Good day, alpha Novak."

 


 

The room the omega was placed was a spacious private room, most likely arranged by the hospital after they learned who was the alpha protecting the mysterious omega. Castiel turned around to get himself a chair, but it was already provided him by Gabriel. His brother had regained his composure, but still looked a bit green in the face, and he stared at the unconscious omega with something akin of horrified fascination.

"Gabriel, why don't you go and grab something from the cafeteria?"

"Well, I'f you don't need me..." The beta made no effort to try hiding his relief. "I'll bring you some coffee, okay?"

"Sure," he answered absently, his focus back on the man in the bed. He didn't pay attention to the nurse that had accompanied them to the omega's room, and barely registered her leaving with Gabriel.

The omega looked small and frail, lying unconscious on the hospital bed. He had several IV-lines attached to his arm, an oxygen tube on his face, and he was hooked to ECG-monitor. The medical equipment made Castiel feel uneasy and his arms itch, too many bad memories tickling around his mind. He sat into the surprisingly comfortable chair his brother had placed beside the bed and sighed. This whole thing was a mess.

He hadn’t actively sought to be in this situation again, to care for an omega. He had thought it was behind him, that he would never had another chance. And here he was, keeping vigil over an anonymous, abused omega of whom he knew only little fragments about. The thought that their subconscious minds had already made the choice for them was frightening, but Castiel couldn't deny that at least for his part the vampire had been right. He couldn't speak for the omega though - it might be that he didn't want anyone at all. It might be that he already had someone he had been running to. The thought made Castiel's insides clench painfully and he stood up and walked to gaze out of the window.

It was a beautiful day outside. The room was quite high and he could see the city outline beneath him. Kipton was a busy place, a big city that somehow had been able to hold on to the amiability of a smaller town. Castiel had visited there only once, but it had made him feel, if not at ease, at least not as tense as other cities he had been forced to visit before. Or maybe it was just that he had chosen to be in Kipton. Sometimes being the ability to make a choice made all the difference.

The sheets rustled slightly and a pissed-off voice called out him.

"Who the fuck are you and why the fuck are you here?"

Castiel's head snapped around to stare at the furious green eyes.

"Sam-"

"Sam? Why is Sam here? Who called him?"

"You said your name was Sam." Castiel ventured, and received a disbelieving stare and an incredulous snort.

"Why the hell would I do that?” The omega sneered, contempt flowing freely around him. ”My name’s Dean.”

"Dean," Castiel repeated. It felt right and he felt something heavy lift off his chest.

"Yeah, Dean. And you didn't tell-" The omega's, no, Dean's eyes widened. "You are a wolf," he hissed, as if it hit him just now.

"Yes."

"An alpha." Dean bared his teeth and his scent turned sour with fear.

Castiel was confused. "Yes. Dean, what's wrong?"

He took a step towards the bed, but stopped dead at the look on Dean's face.

"Get away from me!" Dean snarled. "Get the fuck out of my room, alpha. Get OUT!"

Castiel blanched and stumbled back a step. He could feel his limbic system start to shut down in an automatic response to rejection. This wasn’t supposed to happen, he thought desperately, as he tried to reach out for Dean again. He didn't have the chance to say anything before Dean shouted him to leave, again. He groped blindly for the door handle and managed to get out of the room before he slid to the floor in a quivering mess.

Something dropped to the floor and splashed on his face. Coffee, his spinning mind provided, then someone turned him to his back and raised his eyelids to look at his pupils.

"Oh shit, not again," he heard Gabriel say from far, far away, and then he fell into a grey pool of emptiness.

Chapter Text

Dean breathed hard, his head spinning and his body tense. There had been an alpha in the room when he had woken up. Why the fuck had there been an alpha when he had woken up? Why had he called him Sam? Where the hell was he? He had to get away, he had to keep on running, he couldn't stop, or he would be caught.

There were several IV-drips attached to him, and he was hooked to a weird monitor that was beeping away with increasing speed. He was clad in a hospital gown that was open from the back and tight socks that went up to his thighs and had open toes. And, he had fucking diapers on. And a fucking urinal catheter. Getting that off was going to hurt like motherfucker.

He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and tried to sit up. Pain shot through his middle, dulled by the drugs, but sharp enough to give him a pause. It was his old friend the abdominal and back pain, but it was accompanied by something blunt and throbbing from inside his pelvis. He lifted the hem of his hospital gown and grimaced at the sight of the catheter. He was greeted by the familiar sight of his marred, burned skin, but there were three patches taped on his skin, one on the each side of his navel and the third under them, a little on the right from the center. He peeled gingerly one patch open and stared dumbfounded at the small hole that was revealed.

What the actual fuck?

He ripped the patches off and saw three fresh, small holes on his stomach. Why the hell did he have holes in his belly? Was he, like, abducted by aliens or something? But no, aliens used anal probes, right? He felt a hysterical giggle rise from his throat and clapped his hand over his mouth. Silent, he should be silent, or they would come back. The giggle turned into a strangled sob that froze in his mouth when he heard a knock from the door. Paralyzed with fear, he watched in silent horror as the knob turned in slow motion and the door started to swing open. He had to hide!

He staggered to his feet and tried to make a silent run to the toilet, but the monitor went crazy at his movement. In panic, he lurched forward and cried out in pain, when the monitor line, IV-drips and the catheter tugged him, restraining his flight. He gasped for breath and clawed at them, ripped the IV-cannulas away ignoring the pain and the spurts of blood, and yanked the catheter, trying to get it out and it hurt, it hurt so much. Someone was in the room, shouting and gripping his hands, but he fought them, he wouldn't let himself be caught, he would get away, he could run, he just needed to get away-

"Oh, bloody hell, get some sedatives, he's going feral!"

It was all pain, panic and fear, before it was nothing at all.

 


 

"Be still, kiddo, or you'll hurt yourself."

It hurt like hell, worse than anything he had ever experienced. Or almost worst, if the nightmare of the crash and fire were real and not an actual nightmare. He tried to sit up, but cried out in pain, as the white-hot spikes of sharp pain shot daggers from his middle. His voice was hoarse, like he had screamed it all away, and his mouth tasted like ashes and death. He didn't have the strength to open his eyes, but concentrated on his breathing instead.

"I told you, be still. You got hurt really bad, you know."

”What...?" He croaked.

"You were in an accident, remember? There was a truck that broke its tire, and because of that the driver lost the control of the truck and it started to swerve. It was carrying a cargo to the construction site at Newfolden, steel and stuff, and it wasn't properly loaded, that truck. The cargo collapsed when the truck keeled over. You were crossing the street when you were hit by a random steel rod. Went straight through you, that rod. Freakin' bad luck on your part, a real shame. It'll be a true miracle if you'll be still able to walk."

Dreamless sleep crept over him via the cool liquid injected through his IV-line, and there was no more talk.

 


 

He stirred slowly, oh so slowly. It took him several minutes to claw himself back to the surface of lucidity and force his eyes open. He was back in bed, again, he had IV-drips attached to his arm, again, although they were transferred to his other arm. He was restrained by a wide belt around his middle and cuffs around his wrists and ankles. He couldn't move, he couldn't get away. This was it. He slumped back to the bed, resigned and ready to die.

"Sorry about the restraints. I was worried you might undo all my hard work by that thrashing and raging, therefore I had to order to restrain you. If you promise to behave yourself I'll ask the nurses to open them."

Dean turner his head to his side and regarded at the bearded man sitting on a chair, completely relaxed. He sniffed.

"Vampire," he snarled and bucked against the restraints.

"Charming," the vampire muttered flatly. "I can see where you got your manners from." He polished his nails against his scrubs before turning his sharp eyes at Dean. "Seems like you've got your sense of smell back and you know who you are. That's an improvement at least. Do you know why you are admitted?"

Dean was too tired to think. "Aliens?" He quipped.

The vampire served him a tight-lipped smile that still showed too much teeth. "Hardly." He leaned back on his chair, crossed his right leg over the left and pressed his palms together.

"Let's start with the basics, then. My name is Dr. Ferguson, but you can call me Crowley. The words you are looking for are 'thank you.'"

Dean gaped. "Excuse me?"

"Mmm... close enough," Crowley shrugged. "You are in Valley General Hospital in Kipton, Colorado. Does it ring any bell?"

Dean shook his head slowly.

"You were brought here by a medical chopper, accompanied by two wolfs, an alpha and a beta. Novaks."

Dean's eyes widened.

The vampire smiled like a cat on a cream. "Oh, that was familiar now, wasn't it? Seems you somehow managed to fall under the protection of the last Novak alpha, who had vanished and long presumed dead. Anyway, you were in shock and bleeding, a complete mess, I have to say. When you were patched up after whatever accident you were in years ago, somebody fucked it up good. I did what I could, but even though I'm bloody good at what I do, I can't work miracles."

"It was a car crash," he muttered.

"Pardon?" Crowley asked.

Dean sighed. "It was a car crash of sorts. A busted tire caused a truck to swerve and keel over, and its cargo spilled everywhere. I was crossing the street when one of the steel rods speared me through the pelvis."

"And the fire? Don't look at me like that. I’m a doctor, I can see it on your skin."

"There were other casualties. A family died, their car busted to hell by the steel rods. Several were admitted to hospital for various injuries. I was-." He drew a shuddering breath and squeezed his eyes shut. "I was trapped under a car, when it went up in flames. They all thought I was already dead."

He turned his head away from Crowley, too exhausted for the haunting of his past.

"You lost your uterus then, didn't you?" Crowley's voice was cool and clinical.

"Yes," Dean answered through his teeth.

"And how did you react to that?"

Dean whipped his head to glare at the vampire in scrubs. "You don't need to know that," he snapped.

Crowley raised his brows. "I'm your attending doctor. Why don't you let me decide what I need to know?"

Dean closed his eyes and gritted his teeth, fighting to get his emotions under control. Fear and shame mingled with the familiar stenches of self-loathing and sense of worthlessness. He didn't know how keen sense of a smell the vampire had, but as a doctor he was probably able to read them from his body anyway.

"I was seventeen, a male omega that had his pelvis staked by a steel rod and then grilled crisp over an open flame. I was turned into an useless invalid and an outcast because I decided that I wanted a fucking piece of pie! How the hell do you think I reacted?" His voice turned into a snarl, but Crowley merely looked at him, calmly.

"If you promise you won't try to hurt yourself or escape, I'll instruct the nurses to release you from the restraints." Crowley glanced at his watch and stood up. "It's time for your next morphine shot, I'll leave you to rest." He took a step towards the door, then halted and turned to look at him with a peculiar expression on his face. "This hospital is used to dealing with weres, and you are not the first runaway omega I've treated. Our security is top class, and you have been officially claimed by the Novak alpha. You are an unbonded omega, and by your own laws, you belong to him now. Whoever you are running from should be completely insane to try to take you from him."

Crowley nodded a goodbye and left. Dean was still staring after him, when the nurse came in to give him his morphine.

 


 

"What the hell were you thinking, Dean?" Dad was furious. Even with his voice down for the sake of the other patients, he could see Dad wasn’t far from striking him.

"I'm sorry," he said, because it was usually the safest thing to say when Dad was angry.

"Well, it's a bit late for that now, you know? You were supposed to be mated off next month, you were supposed to be our way out. Remember? It was your only duty as an omega, Dean. And you managed to fuck it up. Well done."

"I'm sorry," he repeated, panic and tears swelling inside him.

"Yeah, me too." Dad stood up, disgusted. "You're useless, Dean. An omega unable to carry pups. I'm done with you."

"Dad? Dad! DAD!" Dad's back didn't stop or turn, but vanished behind the curtains of other patients, behind the doors, out to the world where Dean was no longer wanted. He breathed in short, painful gasps, tears streaming down his cheeks.

"Pie, Dean? Really? You couldn't be without pie even for a single fucking day before your mating ceremony?" At fifteen, Sam was already taller than him, and filled with the righteous superiority of a beta over an omega.

"How was I supposed to know there's gonna be a truck accident?" He asked teary and incredulous, braver with Sam than with Dad.

Sam sneered down at him. "That's not the point, Dean. The point is, you let us down. Now, you are nothing but a burden."

With that, Sam left.

 


 

The restraints were off when he woke up the next time. His head felt fuzzy because of the medication and the heavy dreams he couldn’t escape from. His nose worked well enough for him to realize he wasn’t alone, but in a presence of another wolf. It was a beta, a somehow familiar one, but he couldn’t place the scent of… him? The only male beta he remembered was Sam, and fortunately this was not him. He turned slowly and carefully to his side to look at the person intruding his privacy, and found himself staring at a pair of golden-brown eyes over silly mustache.

”You’re a dick.” Dean stated flatly, knowing it to be absolutely true.

The beta gave him a humorless smile and sipped his take-away coffee. ”Nice to see you’re awake and, well, at least somewhat lucid, Dean.”

He narrowed his eyes at the beta. ”How do you know my name?”

”You told it to Cassie before you threw him out. Nice job that, by the way, the omega rejection does wonders to an alpha’s physical and mental state.” The tone was sarcastic, but there was a deadly serious vibration thrumming under the leering words.

”The fuck are you talking about? And who are you, anyway?”

The beta grinned wolfishly. ”I’m Gabriel. The alpha you threw out is my little brother. He’s the one who’s been feeding and sheltering you after you drove your car into a tree beside his house. An elegant way to pay back a guy’s hospitality.”

”You’re bullshitting me.” Dean was tired to the bone and in no mood for bad jokes.

”Am I? Tell me, Dean-o, what’s the last thing you remember?”

”Why should I tell you anything, Gabe?” He countered and didn’t miss the blink at the nickname.

”Humor me. Besides, we’re the ones paying your bills.”

Dean sighed and pinched the base of his nose with his fingers. The hospital bill. There was no way he could pay it for himself, not even if he contacted Sam. Which he was not going to do. So, what choice did he have, really?

”I had been driving for weeks, I think. I had no idea where I was, and I was too damn tired and hungry to even care anymore. Probably fell asleep on the wheel.”

”And?” Gabe prompted.

And then - yes, what had happened then? He had no memory of a crash, but little bits and pieces stumbled around his brain like toddlers trying to learn how to walk, but falling on their faces in the process. An old house - avocados - birdsong - burning blue eyes… There was no coherence, no linearity, no point of focus. He snarled in frustration and clenched his hands into fists. He was so sick of this not-remembering thing, and the thought jolted a sickly green flash of déjà-vu through him.

”I can’t-.”

”It’s okay, you’re still under a pretty heavy medication. How does morphine feel anyway?”

He gave Gabe a flat stare and got a toothy grin back. Gabe rose from his chair and handed him a can of soda he had brought in with him. It was his favorite brand, and he glanced at Gabe, surprised.

”You had that at the house. Cassie doesn’t drink soda, so I figured they were for you. Actually, come to think of it, there were lots of things in the house that seemed to be for you. Cassie tends to do that.”

”Do what?” Dean asked, and felt something tug him in the middle, poke him with a certainty of something he had no idea about.

Gabe said nothing, but sipped his coffee and watched him intently. Dean was suddenly reminded of the intense stare of blue eyes, and he blushed, a slight shiver running through him. What the fuck? What was his body playing about?

”What’s your story, Dean?” Gabe asked, all serious business.

The air around him turned heavy and suppressing, into a cloud of too many forgotten days that wrapped itself around him stifling all attempts to turn and flee. If he had harbored any fleeting thoughts of being free, he knew they were lost. He could never be free, he would always carry his past in his back, reminding him and everyone else who and what he was.

But he could at least try, futile as it would be.

”You don’t need to know that,” he grumbled and turned his head away.

”No, I don’t,” the beta said good-naturedly. ”But Cassie does.”

Dean frowned and turned back to look at Gabe.

”You see, for some reason Cassie has decided to claim you as his, most likely to protect you, and he decided to do it in his own name.” Gabe raised his brows, waiting.

Dean’s mind slipped conveniently off from the mention of claiming (it would be ridiculous for an alpha to claim an omega incapable of carrying pups), and latched on the way Gabe had ended his sentence. Something about the name… something the vampire had said… Then it hit him.

”Novak,” he breathed, eyes wide.

”Guilty as charged.” Gabe winked and then sobered. ”You realize that even though we don’t need to know anything about your life, we, or at least Cassie, needs to know if we have to take precautions. So, when I asked what your story was, I basically meant if there’s someone coming for you.”

In other words, Gabe was asking if there was a challenge of claim on Dean, another were he belonged to. Dean bit his lips and shook his head, but his scent betrayed him, warping and writhing around him, painting him with unhealthy colors.

Gabe shifted on his seat, clearly uncomfortable. ”Look, I know this is none of my business, but… I know about the abuse.” He raised his hand placatingly at Dean’s sharp intake of breath. ”No, let me explain. I was with Cassie when the doc came to tell how your operation went. He only said that there were marks around your body that looked intentional. That’s all I know, because, well, I got sick from hearing that and had to leave the room. Whatever the doc said after that, he told it to Cassie.

”I don’t know what your story is or what’s happened to you. It’s none of my business anyway. But Cassie obviously cares about you, and now that he’s publicly out again, it would be only fair to come clean to him.”

Dean grit his teeth. ”Why would the last Novak alpha give a shit of an omega like me?”

Gabe shrugged with overly nonchalance. ”Why does anybody give shit about anybody else in the first place? Beats me.”

Okay, the falsehood in Gabe’s answer was so thick it that the words were dripping of it, but Dean was so tired that he didn’t give a crap. He rubbed his eyes and then turned to his side a little too fast, and gave a muffled cry of pain. Gabe was out of his chair and by his side in an instant, a worried look on his face and concern clouding around him.

”You need anything? More drugs?”

Dean huffed a wet laugh. ”More drugs… No thanks, I think I’ve had enough for a lifetime.” He ignored Gabe’s questioning frown, closed his eyes and tried to relax in the fetal position he had curled into.

After a moment a blanket was placed carefully over him and a hesitant hand patted his shoulder.

”I’ll just… wait here then.” Gabe said quietly and sat back on his chair.

 


 

Months and months, and neither Dad or Sam came to see him. He tried to focus on getting better, but it was hard when you were seventeen and alone. The pain was his only constant companion, the steadfast lover on whose arms he woke up and fell asleep. He couldn’t even breathe without it, and no matter how he thought he could get used to it, he never did. It was almost like the pain got only worse, when he started anticipating it, dreading his every move.

The burns were awful, constricting against the bandages, itching and burning through every movement. In the beginning he had screamed through every change of the bandages, no matter how gently the nurses had tried to tend him. Now, they provided him a constant, grinding pain that made him want to claw his brains out. The skin had started to heal, but it was thickened, red and ugly, leathery monstrosity surrounding his abdomen. Sam had seen it once, made gagging sounds and informed Dean that he was the ugliest thing he had ever seen.

After a month he had been transferred to a rehab center. He was young and someone somewhere had had an idea that he was still worth something. The truck company paid for his treatment because he was a sort of a local hero, a survivor of a horrible accident, and the company made good PR from paying his expenses. Dean knew better, though. Ever since he had presented as an omega, Dad had told him that his worth was between his legs, and someday he would be mated off to a beta of Dad’s choosing, and he would make Dad and Sam proud. Of course, Dad would’ve wanted to mate him to an alpha, but they were so rare that finding one willing to mate with someone like Dean was practically impossible.

So yeah, he was young, but he was a broken and useless omega, and therefore he was worth nothing. Like Sam had said, he was a burden now. But he still would’ve wanted either of them to visit him. It would’ve been nice to feel like someone cared. Not that he would ever say it out loud, because that would make him a needy bitch, and nobody liked a needy bitch.

There was one nurse who made a difference. She was his favorite: she was brisk and strict, but she was also gentle and had time to listen to Dean’s crap. Mostly the nurse did the talking and Dean listened, but anyway. Okay, she was always trying to encourage him and cheer him up, to tell him to try harder and longer with the physical therapists, even though Dean tried to tell her that it didn’t matter. She just rolled her eyes at him and called him honey and made him try anyway. She was the nicest person Dean had ever known in his life, and it made him sad to realize she probably acted that way only because it was her job.

~


When he was finally released, he was surprised when both Dad and Sam nodded in serious agreement to the doctors about how important the physiotherapy was to Dean’s recovery and listened intently the lecture about the dangers of strong painkillers in the long run. They were attentive in front of the nurses and doctors, but as soon as they got to the car, Dean knew it had all been for a show.

”If you think I’m wasting any money on your therapy, you’re wrong,” Dad had snorted, and tossed him a bottle of Percocet.

It all went downhill from that. He was alone and in constant pain. Dad was mostly gone, doing odd jobs wherever he could find them, and Sam concentrated on his studies. Neither of them had the time and patience for the wreck of an omega harbored under the same roof, invalided to his room to stare at the TV with eyes that were too full of pain to actually see anything. At least Dad made sure he always had the drugs, but with time they didn’t help as well as they had before. The thought of the pain getting worse drove him nearly out of his mind. Two months after his release he sat in his room and swallowed all the tablets he had left.

He woke up in a hospital to a disapproving look from an older nurse, and drifted off again.

Dad and Sam were mainly pissed. Dad didn't say anything but set his jaw and left for another job off town. Sam glared at him with a sneer and shook his head.

”You’d do anything for attention, wouldn’t you?”

Dean didn’t even have tears left to cry.

He was released with a warning never to try anything like that again, and when they went home, it was like nothing had happened. He shut up, shriveled slowly inside, curled into a ball of nothingness and tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. Most of the time, it worked. Dad and Sam seemed to forget his existence, which was fine by Dean. He became a ghost in his own home, moving gingerly, waging futile war against the pain, something he knew he would never win. He learned to cope, to find the trajectories he could use without crying out in pain, because it used to irritate Dad and Sam, and when they were irritated, they were mean.

~

Eighteen months after the accident, Dad started to take notice on Dean’s appearance. He criticized his thinness and made him eat more, to get him look more healthy. Dean was too amazed to question Dad’s actions, but after a couple of weeks he started to wonder. It didn’t take him long to get his answer.

”Dean,” Dad said during breakfast one Thursday morning. ”You’re moving in with the Bradys on 19th.”

”What?” He managed with his mouth full of toast. 19th was in two weeks.

”I know Tyson from the Stanford prep course. His dad owns a law firm and he agreed to pay my studies and take me as an intern next summer.” Sam’s voice was smug.

Dean blinked. ”You found me a mate?”

Dad snorted. ”Don’t be stupid, Dean. There’s no wolf who’d want to mate with an omega like you. Tyson Brady is not a were, he’s human.”

Dean could only stare for what felt like hours.

”Are you selling me? To a human?” It was so crazy it had to be a joke, wolves were never mated off to humans, never. A bad, cruel joke, but they liked to play them on him anyway. But Dean could take it, because he was a good son, a good omega, even if a broken one.

Dad turned away, like he had nothing else to say to him.

Dean’s eyes widened. ”No, don’t do this. Dad, don’t send me away, please!” But Dad was already halfway out of the door, his business with Dean done for good.

He turned to his brother, frantic. Sam looked at him with contempt.

”Stop being such a drama queen, Dean. Be glad someone is willing to take you in the first place.”

 



He woke up with a soft intake of breath, opening his eyes to the darkness of his room. It was silent, the monitor beeping softly. He was alone, but that was okay - Gabe had no obligation to stay anyway. He was, after all, Gabriel Novak, brother to Castiel Novak, the last alpha of Novak clan, the heir who was thought to be lost and dead. Dean rubbed his face and huffed a bitter noise. He didn’t believe a word Gabe had said: there was no reason why an alpha of the most notorious clan of the country would want something like him.

 

 

Chapter Text

The sound of a phone ringing woke him up. He felt a mattress under him, which meant he was lying on a bed. His mind reeled with nausea and disorientation, unable to focus on anything or penetrate the fog of distorted delirium surrounding him. He heard someone answer the phone, the sound of the voice echoing around his skull in vibrant tones, syllables dripping and lurching like drunken fools.

”Wait, I think he’s stirring,” someone said and shuffled closer.

”Cassie? Are you awake?”

He forced his eyes open, his vision unfocused and swaying before settling to a shape in front of him. He blinked and the shape took a more solid form.

”Gabriel?” He said, perhaps. He wasn’t sure, his mouth wasn’t working properly.

Gabriel’s small smile was genuine and relieved. ”Hi bro. Do you think you can listen? It’s Ash.”

Ash. Ash was the owner of Badass Records. Ash was also a computer genius and he had given Ash a job to do. He blinked again and nodded.

”Yes.”

Gabriel fumbled with the phone a moment, then said, ”Okay, it’s on speaker now and we’re alone.”

”Hi there, alpha. You okay, man?” Ash’s voice was tinny through the phone, but it carried the lazy drawl of the mullethead anyway. Castiel grunted in admission.

”Okay. So I ran the number your omega gave me a couple of days ago. I had the answer already, but I didn’t want to disturb you. How is he anyway?”

Gabriel looked at him for advice. Of course, his brother didn’t know Ash and Garth. Castiel nodded his permission and Gabriel gave Ash a vague summary on Dean’s condition.

”Dean? Okay, so that confirms it. The number he gave me was a phone number like he suspected. It belongs to a beta named Sam Winchester, who happens to have a big brother named Dean.”

Dean had a little brother?

”I ran some searches. Sam Winchester is a lawyer in Brady & Co; bonded, but lost his mate in a house fire a couple of years back. No kids. Father deceased. Only living relative brother Dean Winchester, location unknown.”

”What do you mean, ’location unknown?’ Was he reported missing?” Gabriel asked, leaning towards the phone.

”No, and that’s what makes this so interesting. I dug up some hospital records, and after he’d been in a crash at seventeen, he was hospitalized for a month and then transferred to rehab. A couple of months after that he was in for an OD, and after that, nothing. No school records, no medicals, no mentions in any registers, nothing. It’s like he disappeared.”

Castiel thought for a moment the way Dean had reacted in him. Wherever the omega had been, it hadn’t been nice.

”Do you want me to contact the brother or keep on digging?”

Castiel shook his head. ”No,” he was able to form. ”Dig.”

”What’s up? You don’t sound so good, man. No offense.”

”Oh, he went feral and is still a bit tuned out. The costs of chivalry, you know.” Gabriel’s tone was light, but the look he gave Castiel was not.

”Okay, will do. Stay safe, alpha, we’ll hold the fort.”

Gabriel said goodbyes and ended the call. Castiel followed his brother with his eyes, knowing what was coming.

He didn’t have to wait for long.

”Oh, Cassie,” Gabriel sighed and sat on a chair right beside his bed. His eyes were full with emotion Castiel had no wish to see right now, so he turned his head away from his brother.

”How are you feeling?”

Emotionally drained. Drowning. Rejected.

”I’ve been better,” he croaked.

Gabriel was silent for a moment. Then he shifted in his chair.

”I went to see him, you know. He called me a dick.” He said cheerfully.

Castiel smiled in spite of himself. ”He’s obviously a very smart man.”

”Yeah. Smart and hurt.” Gabriel fell silent, but Castiel could smell that he was nervous and heard him fidget.

”Go on, I know you want to.”

After a couple of tries Gabriel was able to start. ”There might be someone coming after him. He’s not bonded, and-. What if-.” He stopped and huffed in frustration. ”I know this is a bit far-fetched, but what if it’s a human? Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but I think it’s something we need to count in. The way he reacted when I asked if there was anyone coming after him troubles me.

”Look, I know this is none of my business, but-. There is something between you two. It’s not just you, Cassie. But something tells me that Dean is even more broken than you, and there’s a hell of a lot work to do if you mean to see this to the end. And there’s a big chance that you’ll get hurt. All I’m saying is that take care, bro. I’m not sure I’d survive another round with you.”

The words were blunt but the emotion behind them was wide and deep like an ocean, and once again Castiel was reminded that his brother had been hurt, too. Gabriel was, like Dean so aptly said, a dick, but he wasn’t an emotionless one. Gabriel had been through a lot, survived the loss of two brothers and prevented the death of a third. If he was a dick, he had his reasons for it.

 


 

Six years ago

”Oh, come on Cassie, don’t be such a spoilsport!” Gabriel whined like a pup and even looked like one, as he always did when he really wanted something. This time that ’something’ was a charity event the Novaks were supposed to make an appearance in, but that Castiel had no wish to attend to. It was Liliana’s area, because she loved the festivities and events - anything she could make a dashing appearance in and sweep everyone off their feet. She was good at it.

He had been mated to Liliana for eight years now. She had been his appointed mate since their childhood, a choice made by their parents. As long as Castiel could remember he had been told that an omega daughter of an old and respectful were family and the alpha son of the most powerful clan of the country were a perfect match, and their union would benefit and strengthen both families. Castiel himself had never really thought about it. He had been told that he would mate and bond with her, and that was exactly what he would do. He had always been the dutiful and obedient son, never required or expected much, the third alpha in the Novak line.

Some of his friends had been appalled at the traditional way he was to be bonded, but Castiel didn’t mind. Having his mate chosen for him was a relief, because that meant he didn’t have to go through the embarrassing stages of courtship. Castiel had always felt like an outsider, more an introvert observer than an extrovert social butterfly, and the even the mere idea of finding his mate by himself felt exhausting.

Liliana had been beautiful, witty and outgoing, and from the first moment Castiel had felt intimidated by her. Where Castiel was awkward, Liliana was fluent; where he was blunt, she was smooth; where Castiel was grumpy and rusty, she was sparkling and glittering. She completed him in ways he didn't even know he could be completed. He offered her status and stability, she offered him her confidence and companionship.

”Cassieeeeee, pleeeez…”

Yes, Gabriel could make an excellent impression of a whiny pup when he felt like it.

”Gabriel, I’m really not in the mood. And why would you need me there, anyway? Only one of us is required to make an appearance, and since Michael and Luke are preoccupied, you are the one to most likely to hold up family name.”

”But Cassie, it’s no fun without you.” Now his brother was pouting.

Castiel sighed. ”Oh, for heaven’s sake, Gabe… You have a warped sense of fun if it means me. Okay, fine. I’ll come with you, but only for an hour.”

His brother threw his hands to his side and grinned. ”Yay! I’ll come and pick you up at 7:30.” And then he bounced off.

Castiel rubbed his temples and wished he wouldn’t develop a headache by the evening. He walked to the kitchen to grab some Tylenol, although he generally avoided drugs of all sorts. Weres didn’t usually need them, but something told him that an evening in the company of his brother in a charity event for a new children's hospital was more than likely end up in migraine if he wasn’t careful.

The house was big and silent. The location was picked by Liliana, and she had also been the one in charge of the interior. She had a far more luxurious taste than him, but she had rationalized her choices by merely pointing out that weres (and humans, for that matter) of their status were looked up to, and they had the obligation of appearances. Castiel wasn’t too convinced, since he knew her tastes, but he had let her have her way. It made her happy, and when she was happy, he was content. The only thing he put his foot down was his stereo system. It was picked by him, and no matter how much Liliana complained about its looks, Castiel was adamant. In the end Liliana complied, although she did pout and made snarky comments about the stereo over the years.

Theirs was a union of convenience, but it was a satisfying one. If Castiel was a man of emotional expressions, he might even have called himself happy. The only thing he lacked was an offspring. He had always wanted pups, wanted to be a father, but since it wasn’t exactly a norm for an alpha to express a wish for pups, he had been quiet. In the early years of their relationship he had asked Liliana what she thought of pups, and she had said she wasn’t ready yet.

That had been seven years ago. Castiel hoped she would be ready soon. The house was too big for just the two of them, and he would’ve loved to fill it with pups.

He looked at the clock. It was 3:18 p.m. He would have plenty of time to sort out his papers and even have a nap before he had to make himself ready for the event. He would’ve much rather stayed home, but if he indulged Gabriel now, he would most likely leave him in peace for several months to come. With Gabriel, it was mainly a question of balance.

Liliana was away this week. She had a meeting with a college friend of hers, someone named Anna, whom she had not seen in years. Sometimes Castiel wondered how Liliana kept track of all her acquaintances, when she seemed to have so many of them. He would’ve never managed to keep so many friends, he would’ve been burnt out in no time. But she had always been more social than him.

And thinking about Liliana - he hadn’t heard from her since the day before. It wasn't unusual, as Liliana tended to concentrate on her friends and forget about her mate altogether. Once, several years ago, Castiel had actually driven to the resort she had told him she was spending her week in, and when he had barged in, concerned that he hadn't heard from her for three days, she had been mortified. She had excused her ring of human and were friends (who had been flustered and blushing at the sight of him, their state of mind very evident in the air), and given him an earful when they were safely outside and out of hearing range. He didn't make the mistake of coming after her again.

Castiel picked up his phone and rang her, not even a bit surprised when the call eventually ended in the voicemail. He left her a brief note, announcing that he would attend the charity event with Gabriel and would not be home answering his phone if she happened to call. He ended the message in his standard I-miss-you’s, like he always did when she was away.

He made use of the time he had, and by the time he heard the car horn from outside the house, he was ready. He sighed and shook his head in exasperation when seeing the car. It was very much like Gabriel to rent a white Hummer-limo when he had several perfectly acceptable cars in his own garage as well. His brother greeted him with a grin, a glass of champagne and a very attractive human female on his lap.

”Remind me again why you wanted me to attend as well?” Castiel inquired, raising a brow at the woman.

”You lend me credulity, bro.” Gabriel winked and drowned his drink.

The event was very much like every other charity event Castiel had attended in previous years. They were all quite the same, and he didn’t really understand the appeal they held to both Gabriel and Liliana. But then, he didn’t have to. It was good that at least someone from the family was eager to participate.

He was mingling around, chatting random idle topics with patrons from various sectors of upper class society, when he smelled something he knew well. He turned around and sniffed the air, followed the moving trail of the too-familiar scent until he found himself near one of the nooks, away from the main festivities. He saw two shapes entwined together, the heavy smell of arousal mixing with the scents of a human and an-.

”Liliana?” He asked, incredulous.

The shapes whirled around and Castiel was staring at the horrified eyes of his bondmate.

”What are you doing?” / ”You weren’t supposed to be here!”

Their words jumbled together in confusion and anger; humiliation, horror, betrayal, embarrassment and sorrow tripping over themselves.

”Liliana, what are you doing here? I thought you were meeting Anna.”

The man accompanying her stepped slightly in front of her, as if to shield him. He was a human, and completely oblivious to the war zone of pheromones he was in. In some other situation Castiel might have saluted his bravery to step in between two wolves, but this wasn’t one.

”Excuse me, if you don’t mind, I’d like to continue my evening with my girlfriend.”

Castiel turned his eyes at the man. ”Your what?”

”Shut up, Adam.” Liliana hissed, her eyes full of fear.

Castiel narrowed his eyes, then stepped forward and grabbed his mate from the wrist. ”Say goodnight to your friend, Liliana. We’re going home.”

The man yanked Castiel’s hand, but couldn’t move it away. Of course he couldn’t - he was a human and Castiel was an alpha.

”Just wait a moment here! Who do you think you are?” The man was full of indignant righteousness, ready to defend his damsel in distress. He was also slightly drunk, otherwise he would’ve noticed the alpha red bleeding into Castiel’s eyes.

”I’m her bondmate. Or, husband, as you humans would call me. You are lucky to be a human, or you would be seriously hurt by now. Of course, were you a wolf, you would’ve noticed she was already taken.”

”This is him? This?” The human’s voice was incredulous. More incredulous was the fact that he had obviously known Liliana was taken. ”You said you were practically divorced.”

What?

Castiel turned to look at her, eyes wide in shock and saw something shift in her eyes. He felt a sliver of something, a premonition, and then-.

”I reject you. You are not my mate. I don’t want you.” Her voice was clinical and cool, her intention clear.

Castiel gasped. ”Liliana, what-”

”I never wanted you. You were chosen for me, but I didn’t choose you. I despise you, your softness and meagerness. You’ve been a cuckold for years now, and you haven’t even noticed. You are not a real alpha. I don’t understand how you think I could ever want your pups. I want nothing to do with you.”

The words hammered themselves inside his brain, tore down his defenses and attacked straight to his alpha side. He staggered and fell on his knees, his limbic system shutting down in instinctual reaction to rejection, making him completely vulnerable, an easy target to a rival alpha. He heard commotion behind him, voices shouting, but he couldn’t turn, couldn’t move at all. He fell slowly to his side, catatonic, as his eyes rolled over and he saw nothing more. It didn’t stop him from feeling, though, and when the tremors of nausea and the searing, slow torture of a mating bond being violently severed thread by thread, he wished he was unconscious.

”What the hell do you think you are doing?”

”What’s happening to him?”

”Sir? Sir? Are you alright? Do we need to call an ambulance?”

”Liliana, you fucking bitch!”

”Adam, run!”

”Call an ambulance, for fucks sake! And tell them to get Cortepherozone and sedatives ready.”

”Dad, is he going feral?”

”No dear, that’s what happens when an omega rejects their alpha.”

”Who the bloody idiot let the press in?”

”Cassie? Cassie - stay with me! Cassie, can you hear me? Cassie!”

~

He woke in a hospital bed, and for a moment he was completely disoriented. Then, a hollow agony tore through his sternum, through where for the last eight years he had felt the bond between himself and his mate, and he remembered. Liliana’s words circled around his brain, picking at his alpha, forcing him to curl down in a pitiful, broken mess, as the words attacked him again and again.

Pitiful, worthless, despicable, unwanted. Rejected.

He whimpered out loud, completely at the mercy of others. There were no others, though. He was alone. Abandoned. He looked blearily around the bleak hospital room bathing in the cold streetlights. It was cold and dark, empty. Like him.

There was a mirror on the wall. Something made him stagger up from the bed and forced him to walk to the mirror. He saw a man there, a worn-out shell with a stubble and mess of dark hair, empty wells of blue despair staring back at him. He let out a cry of loss and desperation and smashed his fist against the mirror, breaking it to sharp fragments. The impact made him sway on his feet, and he fell, knees and palms slicing against the shards of mirror. He didn’t feel any pain.

He sat on his haunches and lifted his palms in front of him. The shards had made dozens of small cuts to his palms, and he watched in silent concentration at the blood welling up. Then he reached out, grabbed a bigger shard and determinedly cut open both his arms, from the wrists to the crooks of his elbows, the sharp edge of the broken mirror cutting effortlessly through the tissue. He cocked his head and looked at the gush of blood pouring out, stared and stared until he felt dizzy and had to close his eyes.

He didn’t hear the door bang open, his brother’s frantic shouts or the nurses rushing in.

The next time he woke, he was in a different room, in a different bed and under the restraints his arms were cleaned up, the wounds stapled closed.

He had failed.

 


 

When he woke up, his thoughts were in turmoil. The encounter with Dean had left him exhausted and his body’s reaction had truly scared him. He wasn't supposed to go under like that, there was no reason for it - they weren’t even bonded, for heaven’s sake! Besides, Dean hadn’t known what he had done, he had acted on pure instinct, in terror for waking up with an alpha in the room. It hadn’t been a conscious or deliberate rejection like Liliana’s.

The call from Ash had made him uneasy. The ’Sam Winchester’ whom Ash had mentioned was Dean’s little brother, there was no question about that. But if there was something to be read from the way Dean had reacted to Sam’s name, there was a lot of bad blood between the brothers. It was safer to let Ash dig more information before making any move to contact Sam.

Castiel would’ve gladly talked more with Dean, but he wasn’t sure if it was such a good idea. The omega was still recovering from an operation, and even with the enhanced healing of were physiology he was still weak from the shock and blood loss. Maybe Castiel could get Gabriel to talk to Dean some more first.

Ah, Gabriel… His beta brother was slumped in a chair, snoring lightly with his mouth partly open. Castiel took time to study his brother. Gabriel looked younger and more vulnerable when sleeping, his brashness and cocky demeanor washed away. Gabe had been through too much for a man of his age, but he covered it well, rather choosing to play the role of an obnoxious gigolo than letting others realize how deeply he actually felt.

Gabriel was the reason he was even alive today. His brother had went almost feral when he had found out that the hospital he had been admitted after Liliana’s rejection had left him alone and unsupervised, which had allowed him to try and take his own life. After Castiel had been stabilized Gabriel had brought down the wrath of the Novaks, and after that all employees surely knew that a rejected alpha was never to be left unsupervised.

After everything, Gabriel was the one to stand by his side, keeping eye on him, keeping him grounded and hooked to life. He was the one to book him into a mental institution specifically meant for weres, he was the one to look after him, even though Castiel didn’t want him to. When Michael and Luke had torn each other into pieces in their territorial fight over dominance of the Novak clan and nearly destroyed everything in the wake of it, Gabriel had fled to the other side of the globe, the grief of losing his two big brothers too crushing to stay. When he had finally returned and visited Castiel to tell him that he was the last alpha of the family, Castiel had attempted another suicide, just to be stopped by Gabriel, again.

”Too many heavy thoughts in your head again, Cassie.” Gabriel’s tone was amused but his eyes were sharp.

Castiel sighed. ”I only thought that I really haven’t given you enough credit.”

”For what?”

”For being you.”

”Is that really something you want to credit me for? Ask anyone, and I’m just a big bag of dicks.”

”Well… I wouldn’t call you exactly big.”

Gabriel grinned. ”You wound me, bro!” He wailed, swooning on his chair, which made Castiel’s lips twitch.

”No, I don’t.”

Gabriel sobered. ”No, you don’t, not with words anyway.” He said softly, stood up and walked to sit at the edge of Castiel’s bed.

”You were thinking about Liliana again, weren’t you?”

Castiel didn’t say anything, he didn’t have to. Gabriel had always been very good in reading him, and gotten only better after Liliana.

He knew that his brother had blamed himself of what had happened: if he hadn’t forced Castiel to attend the charity event, he wouldn’t have confronted Liliana and end up being publicly rejected and humiliated, the story smeared in the tabloids for the whole were community to see. Liliana was cast out of the were community, both for her public unfaithfulness and her purposefully violent bond breaking. Last Castiel had heard, she was under the protection of some Hollywood bigshot human, dead to the were, but the damage was already done. Castiel was a broken-bonded alpha, the tarnished heir of the Novak line, and the news spread across the country in a flash.

And now…

”It wasn’t your fault, Gabe,” he said gently.

Gabriel winced and shook his head. ”I wouldn’t be so sure about that. If I had listened to you and kept my fingers to myself… I pushed him over the brink.”

”Or you acted as a catalyst, and the crack was already there.”

Gabriel watched him for a while. ”How do you do that?”

”Do what?”

”Stay so fucking understanding about everything. Why can’t you just blame me? Or blame Liliana, for fuck’s sake.”

He shrugged. ”It would be easy to blame everyone and demonize the people around you, but what good would it do? You acted rashly and irresponsibly, and that’s partly why we’re here, but that’s not the sole reason. And Liliana’s actions were reprehensible, but she was driven to a corner where she had no other choice but to lash out.”

”Don’t do that!” Gabriel’s voice was furious. ”Don’t explain Liliana’s actions, like she was some wilting flower in a loveless union. She chose to fuck around behind your back instead of requesting an official bond-break. She chose to be needlessly cruel and wanted to hurt you as much as possible when she was caught. You were there, but you didn’t see the look on her face. I did!”

Castiel didn’t know what to say and they sat in silence for a while, thinking about the events that had brought them there.

”Could you talk to him again?” Castiel asked quietly after several minutes of silence.

”Dean? Sure, unless he bites my head off.”

”Thank you.”

Gabriel’s smile was gentle. ”No problem, bro.”

 

 

Chapter Text

They let him out of the bed on the third post-operation day. He was dizzy and moving hurt like hell, but it would probably hurt even more if he stayed in bed. He should know, he’d been there before, after all. But then, if he was a human, he would’ve hurt even more. Lucky him. The nurse attending him was gentle but professional, but didn’t hold back his eye-roll at Dean’s annoyed growling.

Doc Crowley had come once more to talk to him and to check his condition. He was healing okay with his were physics helping him to recover, but he had received blood transfusion and antibiotics in any case. When he had tried to protest, Crowley had merely looked at him and informed him that unless Dean presented him a medical degree, Crowley would make the bloody decisions, thank you very much. Dean had grumbled, but conceded.

It wasn’t his healing that worried Dean, it was everything else. He hadn’t seen the alpha again, but that dick brother of his had popped in several times, to chit-chat about nothing at all, but as irritating as the beta was, Dean couldn’t deny that he was also entertaining. And it was refreshing to actually talk to someone who seemed to know pretty much into detail what a fuck-up Dean was and didn’t give a crap.

Which brought his thoughts to Sam.

Gabe had asked if someone was coming for Dean, and he had said no. That wasn’t exactly true, but he hadn’t specifically lied, either. Dad was dead and as a beta brother Sam had no legal claim over him. In were terms, Dean was in the clear. The problem was that his possible pursuer wasn’t a wolf.

Wolves were not allowed to harm humans except in extreme circumstances, and even then the repercussions were heavy. With the greater strength, a longer lifespan and the enhanced healing came the responsibility to behave themselves, and when faced with the possibility of extinction, the were community had agreed on the terms of interacting with the human population.

If he was found, he wasn’t sure what he would do, but one thing was sure as hell. He would never go back, he’d rather die first.

 


 

Then

Living with Tyson Brady and his father wasn’t that different from living with Dad and Sam, at least not at first. Tyson seemed like an okay guy: he was a couple of years older than Dean, a hard worker on his dad’s business and didn’t have that much free time. He devoted all his time and energy to the firm, determined to make his old man proud. And boy, he did. In two weeks time Dean got sick and tired listening to the endless bragging and praising at the dinner table, like all he wanted to hear from one day to the next was how bright, smart, good and efficient Tyson was. At some level he got that Tyson’s dad was trying to indirectly pick at him, trying to tease a reaction from him, get him to reveal something about Sam. In that, Dean was a disappointment.

Tyson had shared the bed with him since the day one, but hadn’t initiated anything. After a month, though, he stopped Dean while he was on his way to bed and took his jaw between his fingers.

”You know you belong to me, don’t you?”

Dean flinched. He had guessed this was the case, but it didn’t help, not when the hurtful words his Dad and Sam had said were carved inside him and twisted around his guts.

”Don’t be afraid, I’m not going to hurt you.”

Tyson petted his head and kissed him softly, took his time to make Dean relax. He caressed and stroked him until he was a throbbing mess of want, and only then proceeded to undress him. He was tender and gentle, and Dean thought that it wasn’t so bad, after all. Tyson guided him to lie on his back and kissed his way down Dean’s torso, and Dean had to hide his face to the crook of his elbow out of embarrassment, when Tyson reached the scar tissue. But Tyson clicked his tongue and chided him gently.

”Don’t ever hide from me, Dean. You belong to me. I’m going to take care of you.”

And Dean surrendered.

Tyson took his time opening him, because ever since the accident Dean hadn’t gone into heat or produced slick anymore, and mounting him even when he was aroused would’ve been like fucking a human male dry. But Dean was a virgin and it still hurt a lot, even with Tyson being gentle and patient and slow, using generous amounts of lube, and making sure Dean came first.

~

He took Dean out for lavish dates and liked to show him around. Before his accident Dean had been an outgoing guy and enjoyed looks and attention, but ever since the crash and with the constant pain as company, he had turned subdued. Tyson preened in his role as the beneficent suitor, and Dean was more than happy to let him take care of everything. It made it easier for him to cope his daily life with the pain.

Tyson was worried about his suffering and made sure he had enough painkillers. He warned Dean from using them too much, and made sure to count the tablets every now and then. It was a bit awkward, but Dean thought that Sam had probably warned Tyson and told him about Dean’s OD.

Once he had asked if he could see a physical therapist, but Tyson had been reluctant.

”I don’t trust them,” he had said. ”Some of them are pervs who just want to get handsy.”

He got Dean another prescription for painkillers instead.

Over time he noticed Tyson getting gradually more possessive, and he wasn’t sure what to think about it. On some level it was annoying and irritating, but on the other hand it felt flattering. Tyson called him precious and said no-one else was allowed to see Dean like he did. Dean thought it was a bit sappy, but forgot about that and everything else, when Tyson fucked him slow and deep. On Tyson’s request Dean was usually on his hands and knees and Tyson took him from behind and told him that it felt so much better like that. Dean couldn’t deny the fact that it quite often did, but it would’ve been nice to look Tyson in the eye sometimes.

~

When Tyson’s dad died from stroke, things started to change. Tyson was more often snappy and irritated and sometimes downright mean. He always apologized to Dean and told him how stressed out he was at work, when he had all his dad’s business to sort out. Dean felt uncomfortable and almost said it wasn’t his fault that Tyson’s job was taxing, but then he decided to leave it. He tried to make Tyson more comfortable at home, and he didn’t have anything else to do anyway.

He hadn’t gotten to college because Tyson had said they didn’t have the money and Dean would had hard time sitting through the lectures with his pains anyway. He was disappointed, but Tyson was probably right, he had been into college, after all. Besides, Dean liked taking care of their home and cooking for Tyson. It satisfied the omega nesting instinct in him, and it wasn’t like he was ever going to nest for real, with another wolf.

The first time Tyson hit him, it was over coffee.

Dean had bought a small batch of some fancy-ass coffee and decided to treat Tyson with it after he got home. He had been tired and stressed from work for several days now, and grown more and more volatile at home. When Dean heard the door slam shut, he knew Tyson had had a bad day. He prepared the coffee carefully, just like Tyson wanted it, and poured him a cup. What he didn't expect was Tyson standing right behind him, when he turned around with a full cup of hot coffee. It splashed on Tyson’s shirt, the dark stain spreading over costly Egyptian cotton, the hot liquid burning the skin underneath. He stared at the stain in horror, and then Tyson’s palm connected with his cheek.

”That shirt was expensive, you bitch! And what’s that anyway? You know I want decaf when I get home.”

Dean had been knocked to his knees by the impact and shock and stared dumbly at Tyson. ”It was Jamaican Blue Mountain, the shopkeeper suggested it…” His voice trailed away. ”I’m sorry,” he added quietly.

”Yeah. Clean that up,” Tyson hissed and stormed out of the kitchen.

Tyson stayed in his office that night and Dean ate his dinner alone. He was nervous about the night, not sure if Tyson would want him in their bed. He worried in vain, though, because Tyson was waiting for him when he was finished with his nightly routine.

”I’m sorry, Dean. I’m so sorry. That was a terrible thing to do, I’m so ashamed. I don’t know how you stand me, when I’m so awful. Please, don’t leave me. I love you, please stay.” Tyson’s voice was haggard and his eyes brimmed with tears, and Dean felt overwhelmed. Tyson loved him? He had never said it before.

Tyson gave him the best blowjob of his life and made love to him face-to-face, just like Dean had hoped for so long. When he came, he sobbed Dean’s name and promised he would never hit him again.

It was a lie.

~

It was strange, how much you could forgive when faced with tears and sobbed declarations of love. How you vowed to yourself that never again, this would be it, or at least the next time would be the last, and still you hoped that it was all a mistake, that he loved and cherished you despite how his fist punched the air out of you when you had put too much salt in his stew or forgotten to buy his favorite brand of scotch. And when your neighbors and your brother reminded you how lucky you were to have such a devoted partner who didn’t pressure you to get a job and even let you keep that ridiculously obnoxious car, you try to remember what he was like in the beginning.

Maybe he would be that again, if you tried hard enough?

Months turned to years and Dean learned. He learned to listen how the door banged shut and how Tyson’s steps sounded when he walked to the kitchen. He learned to have the food ready and waiting and to stay out of the way when Tyson had his dinner. He learned to keep silent of his hopes and dreams and listen to those of Tyson’s instead. He learned to put himself on hold and live for Tyson, orbit around him, letting him dictate his whole life. He learned it was easier that way.

He learned that drowning his painkillers with booze gave him a pleasant buzz, a warm cloud of indifference he could wrap around him. He learned that it helped him, allowed him to move outside of himself, to look at his life slowly unraveling in front of him.

It took a lot longer, but with time and Tyson’s endless patience at this particular aspect of their relationship, Dean learned that he was worthless and useless and he existed solely because Tyson was too tender-hearted to kick him out. He learned to stay still and let Tyson use him, because Tyson had taught him that he was a bitch, only a hole to be fucked.

But no matter how hard he tried, he never learned that Tyson lied when he cried and begged Dean never to leave him, that he loved Dean and would never hurt him again.

~

”Dean, are you mixing booze with Percocet?” Sam’s tone was incredulous and Dean swore inwardly for being sloppy and allow his brother to see. Sam had come over to get some papers from Tyson, and while Tyson was retrieving them from his office, Sam had wandered to the kitchen at the worst possible moment.

”So what if I am?” He asked tiredly.

”That’s just stupid. You shouldn’t mix painkillers and booze, even you should know that. I’m glad Dad’s not here to see this anymore.” Sam sounded both disgusted and relieved.

”What do you mean? About Dad?”

”Dad died seven months ago, didn’t Tyson tell you?”

Dean shook his head numbly. ”Why-. Why didn’t you tell me? The funeral-”

”Dad didn’t want you there.” Sam interrupted. ”And seeing you now, I don’t blame him. Tyson said you were acting strangely and he was worried about you, but I didn’t think you would sink this low. Really, Dean? Percocet and alcohol? Does Tyson know?”

A jolt of nauseous fear shot through Dean. ”Don’t tell him, Sam. Please!” The words stumbled and tripped over themselves, fear and intoxicants making them clumsy. He glanced at the kitchen door in panic, almost expecting to see Tyson standing there. The doorway was empty though, and Dean almost slumped to the floor out of relief.

Sam looked at him with contempt. ”Get a grip of yourself, man. That’s just pathetic.”

Dean ducked his head and closed his eyes.

~

When Tyson told him that Sam had found himself a pretty omega for a mate, he felt happy for his brother. No matter how bad things were between them, Sam was still his brother, the only family he had left. And because Dean was incapable of carrying a pup (not that he would even get pregnant from a human), it was Sam’s responsibility to carry on the family line. He hoped Sam would be happy and make his mate happy. God only knew one of them deserved it, and Dean knew it wasn’t him.

Sam didn’t invite them to his mating ceremony. When Dean found out, he drank until he passed out. The next day was the first time Tyson burned him with a cigarette.

~

He wasn’t sure who he was anymore. Sometimes he remembered a bright, sassy young omega with a sparkling laugh and an eagerness to learn and live, but then he realized he didn’t know who that was. The memory poked something inside him, but it hurt too much to think about it, and he let it slide.

Tyson didn’t want to touch him in bed anymore. He told Dean that he was disgusting and didn’t deserve his attention, and if he wanted to come, he could take care of his puny, sad little dick all by himself. He didn’t bother turning Dean on if he wanted to fuck him, but he did use lube, because he said that Dean’s hole didn’t work properly without it. It was broken, just like Dean.

Dean had learned to dread Fridays. Tyson seemed to gather stress throughout the week and wanted to release it on Friday, and for that, he needed Dean. He had told Dean that this was the only thing he was good at, lying on the bed with his face down and ass in the air, a hole for Tyson to fuck his stress away. Dean was pleased he was good at least in something, but it would’ve been nice if it didn’t hurt so much. Tyson seemed to need more and more aggression to get it up, which meant that by Saturday, Dean would be beaten, burned and sore - but not in the face, of course. The good thing was that the more worked up Tyson was on Friday, the more relaxed the weekend was.

So Dean took Percocet and booze, got to the bed with his ass up, buried his face to the pillow and spread his legs like a good bitch. Just like Tyson had taught him.

~

It was perhaps Wednesday or maybe Monday when the phone rang. It was Sam.

”She’s dead,” he sobbed on the phone, and Dean tried to remember who his brother was talking about.

”There was a fire. Faulty wiring, they said. She had already gone to bed when it started. I was working late and didn’t know until they called me. She’s dead, Dean! What am I supposed to do now?”

”Who is dead, Sam?” He asked haltingly.

”What the fuck Dean, what do you mean ’who?’ Jess, my mate!” Sam’s voice was incredulous and hurt.

”Oh,” Dean answered. Then, out of somewhere, ”The mate you never told me about, remember. I never knew her name, before.” He thought for a while, then continued in a conversational tone. ”You know, when I learned about your mating ceremony, where you didn't invite me, by the way, I drank myself shitfaced drunk. You know what your buddy Tyson did the next day? Stumped his cigarette on my chest.”

There was a silence on the other end of the line.

”Are you high?”

”I’ve got to be, to be able to live through the tender attentions of my lover.” Dean commented mildly. Somewhere deep inside him he felt a bubble of hysteric giggle threatening to break through. He didn’t exactly fight it.

”You’re out of your mind. Tyson would never-”

”Would never what? Please tell me, Sam. Hit me? Burn me with cigarettes?” The giggle burst free and danced around the kitchen. Dean watched it with a gentle smile.

”You’re crazy.”

”Sure, Sam.”

“At least you’ve got someone, I lost Jess!” Sam shouted and ended the call.

The giggle had flied away through the open kitchen window. Dean stared at the phone in his hand, feeling completely numb. He placed the phone carefully on its holder on the wall and stood unmoving for a long moment. Then he turned and walked stiffly to the bedroom, took a duffel from the cabinet and stuffed some random clothes inside it. Then he walked to Tyson’s office, went to the table and opened the secret locker Tyson thought he knew nothing about. There were several envelopes with names written on them, but he ignored all but the one that had his name on it, picked it up, checked that it had his papers in it (like he had suspected), and stuffed the envelope to his duffel. Then he turned and went to the safe (something Tyson also thought Dean knew nothing about), opened it and grabbed some money to go. A voice somewhere in the back of his mind told him that if he took it all, Tyson would come after him in a flash.

A sentiment made him grab the Vonnegut from the shelf. It had been years since he had last read it, but maybe he would now have the courage to read it again.

He walked to the kitchen, turned the oven on and took a casserole from the freezer. He had prepared several of them, an easy way out for the days he was too sore to cook from scratch. He placed the frozen casserole to the oven and closed the lid. It would cook with time and be ready when Tyson got back from the work. The smell of food would distract him for a little while, or at least he could come after Dean with his belly full.

Dean left his cell on the kitchen counter and unhooked the Impala’s key from the GPS-tagged keychain Tyson had bought him years ago, when he had still thought the gift to be cute. He opened the door and checked if any of the neighbors were out to see him. When he saw the way was clear, he walked boldly out, closed the door and didn’t look back.

 


 

He had dozed off, exhausted with all the mental and physical exertion. By the scent he noticed he wasn't alone.

”Hi doc.” He said without opening his eyes.

”Nightmares?” Crowley asked with a clinical interest, sitting calmly in his chair. ”And please don’t say it’s none of my business. I’m still your attending doctor, at least for a couple of hours.”

”What?” Dean whipped around to look at him, too swiftly, and hissed at the pain in his middle.

Crowley tsk-ed and shook his head disapprovingly. ”No sudden moves yet, you should bloody well know that already. But anyway, I’m ready to release you to the tender care of the Novaks.”

”But-. You can’t!”

Crowley raised his brow. ”Pray, tell me why the bloody hell not?”

Because Gabe had said that ’Cassie has decided to claim you as his’, Dean thought, desperation swelling inside him. He noticed Crowley studying him intently and turned his head aside.

”I can’t believe I’m actually doing this,” he heard Crowley mutter to himself, before the vampire shifted on his chair and cleared his throat.

”Have you ever felt threatened in the presence of that alpha of yours?”

”He’s not my alpha,” Dean answered glumly.

”Oh, for heaven’s sake. You bloody idiots truly deserve each other.” Crowley snapped exasperatedly. ”Just answer the damn question.”

”No.” Dean grumbled petulantly.

”There you go. I have no idea what your history is, and since you refuse to tell me I’ll have to do with guessing and reading the damage written all over your body. You were in a traumatic accident and after that you somehow ended up in an abusive relationship, am I right?” Crowley didn’t wait for an answer.

”Since wolves are incapable of inflicting bodily harm on omegas, your partner was bound to be a human, because no bloody way you can convince me that you were in a relationship with a vampire, mainly because none of us would touch a wolf even with a ten foot pole.

”You are obviously afraid that your partner will come after you. If that’s the case, your best chances are with the Novaks. If you were not married, the human has no legal claim over you, and the claim of an alpha outranks any relationship with a human, no matter what you’ve been told.

”And why the bloody hell am I explaining this to you anyway? You are the bloody wolf here, you should know these things. I’ll prepare the paperwork for you to leave. Please don’t come back here anytime soon, alright? I wouldn’t want to make a habit of digging around your entrails or act as your therapist.”

Crowley stood up, brushed an imaginary flake of dust away from his scrubs and turned to leave. By the door he stopped and turned to look at Dean, an odd glint in his eyes.

”Take care, Dean.”

And then the vampire surgeon was off.

Dean leaned back against the pillows and thought hard. He was still in pain, broke and homeless. No fucking way was he going back to Tyson, he’d rather die first. But he wasn’t sure he could trust Crowley, about the whole other-weres-not-being-able-to-harm-an-omega thing. He had never heard of it. Dad had only said that no wolf would ever want him because he was broken, ugly and couldn’t carry a pup, and Tyson… Well, Tyson had said lots of things.

Did he actually have a choice?

Now that he thought of it, Crowley had a point: he had never felt threatened in Cas’s presence. If anything, the alpha had made him feel safe and at home, and if the scattered fragments of memories he collected from the muck of his mind were anything to go by, the alpha had tried to protect him from the start. Even from himself. His initial reaction to the alpha after waking up from the surgery had been a knee-jerk flare of panic of being unconscious and being awakened to the mention of Sam. He felt bad for Cas for what he had done, how he had yelled at the guy, but Gabe had said that Cas understood, and Dean hoped it was true.

But the feeling of being around Cas mingled with his memories of Tyson and the fog of his drop to the feral state and the feeling of losing control of himself. It was confusing and frightening and he didn’t know how to segregate them.

His musings were interrupted by a hesitant knock at the door. It was Cas. Dean drew himself into a tight ball to the middle of the bed, hugged his legs close and stared suspiciously at the alpha by the door. His rational mind told him to relax, but the beaten up part of him constricted with fear, trying to hide inside clenched fists and narrowed eyes.

”I don’t want to scare you, so I won’t come further in.” Cas said, his scent like a calming rain pouring over him. His eyes were blue embers burning on low flame, but he averted them quickly, only letting them flick to him briefly.

”Okay,” Dean answered tentatively.

”I saw Crowley. He’s releasing you.”

”Yeah.”

Castiel licked his lips and Dean’s eyes were drawn to the movement. When he realized what he had done, he turned his head, cursing when he felt heat rising on his face. He heard a small falter in Cas’s breathing and swallowed. This was so not a good idea, being alone in the room with an alpha, when his body had already decided to do things without consulting Dean first.

”Do you have anywhere to go?” Cas asked, his voice rougher.

Dean snorted. ”You know I don’t.”

”Actually, I didn’t. That’s why I asked, Dean. You are welcome to stay at my house, if you want to.”

Dean turned to look at Cas with narrowed eyes. ”Why?”

Cas blinked. ”What do you mean ’why?’”

Dean took a breath. ”Why would you do that? Why would you offer me a place to stay? You know nothing about me.” You have no idea…

Cas shrugged and gave him a sidelong gaze. ”I think I know enough, Dean.”

Dean stared at him for a while, thinking hard. Did he trust the alpha enough to stay with him? The guy had done nothing untoward at the time they had been together, even though he had had plenty of opportunities. There was something about Cas he couldn’t put his finger on - something fragile and sharp, like he had been broken into pieces and then glued back together offhanded and sloppy. A bit like Dean.

If he went with Cas, what could be the worst thing to happen? That he would be treated badly? To be honest, he couldn’t possibly end up worse than with Tyson anyway, so maybe it was time to take a leap of faith. Okay, here goes nothing.

”Fine,” he said, and saw Cas’s face brighten with a shy smile.

Chapter Text

Dean had said yes. Or, to be specific, he had said ’fine’, but that was enough for Castiel: he was taking Dean home with him. Of course, he was only offering his protection to the omega, not harboring any hopes for an actual relationship. No hope, although he had been slightly aroused and could’ve sworn that Dean had been, too. It didn’t matter though, because for Castiel the most important thing at this point was to keep Dean safe, away from whomever that had hurt him so much that he had gone feral because of the memory of it.

But before they could leave, there were things to take care of.

First, he called Ash and told him that Dean was to be released from the hospital. He was relieved to hear that there had been ’no pings in his search-o-meters,’ like Ash had put it, and without him asking it, Ash informed him that he would do his best to hide Dean’s visit in Kipton. Ash also told him that he would take care of their transport back home, but before Castiel had the mind to ask what it was, Ash had ended the call.

The second task was the one Castiel anticipated with dread and dismay. He didn’t have to look up the number as it was seared to his memory, but he did it anyway, stalling as long as he could. In the end, he had to face the responsibility he had been hiding from for over five years, in order to provide Dean the best possible protection he could.

”The Novak Corporation, Mr. Custos’s office.” The female voice was crisp and sharp.

”Could you pass me through Raphael, please.”

”I’m sorry, sir. I’m afraid I cannot do that. Mr. Custos is not taking calls at the moment.”

”Oh yes, he is. Tell him it’s Castiel Novak.”

He heard a sharp gasp and muted whispering. Then the female voice returned, noticeably less crisp, a sliver of nervousness simmering behind her words.

”I apologize, sir. According to our understanding alpha Novak is deceased. Could you please be so kind and present information to confirm you are, indeed, Castiel Novak?”

Castiel paused. Was Raphael serious? He closed his eyes and drew a breath to calm himself. ”I don’t think Raphael could be stupid enough to demand classified information over an insecure phone line, but if he insists, I can surely tell you about his nightly adventures during college.” He commented flatly.

There was a click and the line was connected.

”Castiel. What a surprise to hear from you.” Raphael’s voice was as deep as ever, and, as usual, betrayed no emotion.

”Raphael,” Castiel greeted back. ”You have invented some new procedures. Since when have you stopped answering your personal number?”

”Since you vanished. Gabriel told me to hold on to it, because he had this thought that you would someday return to us.”

”I have no wish to return.” Castiel said dryly. Raphael had been a most loyal employee of the family for decades, and his loyalty and fierceness were most likely the reason the company had stayed standing through the loss of all three Novak alphas. Sometimes Castiel thought that Raphael was, in fact, the only real alpha the Novak family had had for a long time, despite he was not blood.

”Oh,” Raphael said.

”The reason I call is of personal matter. I need to protect someone. I assume this line is secure?”

”Oh,” Raphael repeated, his tone mildly curious, which meant that the older alpha was most definitely interested.

Castiel drew breath, bracing himself for what was coming. ”A male omega, name: Dean Winchester. One living relative, a beta brother. No familial alpha. Unbonded, former abusive relationship, possible human pursuer.” He paused. ”Infertile.”

There was a loud silence from the other end of the line. Then, ”Are you making an official claim on him?”

”Yes.”

”Are you sure that’s wise?”

Castiel sighed. ”Raphael, for the last five years I have been practically dead in the eyes of the were community. I really don’t think there’s any point dwelling on whether my decision is wise or not. I have no intention of moving back or take a stand as a figurehead of the clan. I’m announcing my presence only to acquire maximum level of legal protection for Dean.”

”I see.”

”I hope you do. Look, Raphael, I have no wish to take your place. You have been an indispensable asset to the Novaks, and without you there would probably be nothing left. I hold you on highest regard and have every confidence in you. You have my personal mandate of carrying on as you have done so far.”

”I- I don’t know what to say to that, Castiel.” Raphael’s voice was slightly baffled.

”You don’t have to say anything.”

”I see. Is there a way to contact you? I can see that this number you are calling from is blocked.”

Castiel had thought about that and written down Dean’s phone number before making the call. He gave it to Raphael. ”Don’t bother running it, it won’t lead you anywhere.”

”I see,” Raphael said again. ”So you have that part covered.” It wasn’t a question.

”Yes.” There was nothing more to say after that. ”Goodbye, Raphael. Contact me only in a case of emergency.”

”I will. Take care, Castiel.”

 


 

Castiel would probably never find out what feats Ash performed to provide them a medical helicopter to get home. He was grateful of course, since driving for several hours would’ve been pure agony for Dean, no matter how good a suspension the vehicle had. Besides, it wasn’t like he didn’t have the money. He felt slightly self-conscious though, a wealthy alpha moving an omega with a chopper, when there most likely were other places the chopper was needed more.

Dean had been provided with written instructions for his recovery along with a prescription for Percocet. When the omega had seen the name of his prescribed drug he had swallowed and shook his head, and blatantly refused to accept the prescription. The nurse had been confused and reminded Dean that he wouldn’t get used to the pain, but it would turn chronic instead. Dean had set his jaw, shook his head again and ripped the prescription in two.

”I don’t want to use that again. Never again,” he had almost snarled, and Castiel hadn’t asked why.

The nurse had sighed and asked what other methods Dean was going to use instead of medication, and Dean had looked her straight in the eye and answered ”Yoga,” before turning and walking to the elevators. Out of nowhere, Castiel had felt immensely proud of him.

The helicopter ride home was silent, with Gabriel dozing off on his seat, Dean staring intently at the landscape under them and Castiel studying Dean’s profile.

”I don’t get heats anymore.” Dean said suddenly.

"Excuse me?” Castiel asked, startled and confused about the intimate nature of the topic.

"I don't go into heat and I can't turn anymore so that's that," Dean snarled, still staring out.

Castiel frowned. ”Dean, why are you bringing this up?” He asked carefully. He saw Dean’s jaw move as the omega gritted his teeth and his hands clenched and unclenched at his lap.

”Isn’t that why you offered to take me in?”

Castiel opened his mouth to answer and realized he didn’t know what to say. Did Dean really think Castiel offered to take him under his protection for sex? What kind of a relationship had he been in if that was his first thought? And no, he really didn’t want to think about that.

”I offered you a place to stay and the protection under my name.” He said hesitantly. ”I made an official claim on you in my own name, but only to let the were community know that you are under my protection, and any move made against you is a move made against the Novak clan. I’m offering you the highest legal protection I can, and through Ash I can provide you… more creative ways of protecting you.”

Dean turned his head to look at him, and his eyes were hard and cold, and Castiel was unable to look away.

”I think you know by now that I care about you, but I hope you remember that I cannot, will not and do not want to harm you. Dean, I’m an alpha, I’m biologically programmed to protect you and do you no harm. And since you have no familial alpha of your own and you are unbonded, my claim outranks any possible claim your brother might pull out.”

Dean’s eyes narrowed and he bared his teeth. His scent turned into a jumbled mess of fear, shame and betrayal.

”What do you know about my brother?”

”Nothing more than the official files Ash pulled out,” he answered calmly, ignoring Dean’s aggression. ”A beta lawyer, lost his mate in a fire, the only living relative an omega brother, whose location is unknown.” He paused. ”The number you sent for Ash to check out was Sam’s phone number. Don’t worry,” he said to Dean’s alarmed face, ”it’s not our business to contact him. If you want to do that, it’s your decision, not mine. Although if it was up to me, he wouldn’t be informed at all,” he growled under his breath.

Dean cocked his head and raised his brow. ”Oh, and why’s that?”

”He either knew what you were going through or he didn’t care. Either way, he doesn’t deserve to be a part of your life.” Castiel couldn’t control his voice and was a bit surprised at the vehemence of his words and the alpha bleeding through.

Dean snorted and turned to look at the landscape again, but his scent turned a fraction to the softer side.

 


 

They were met with a problem when they got back to the house. The door to Dean’s room was splintered and broken beyond reparation and the dried blood on the floor tainted the air sour. Castiel was reluctant to let Dean stay in it before it was properly cleaned and had a new door. Dean was nervous at being back at the house, the re-acquired knowledge of secondary genders pulling his strings. Castiel couldn’t blame him.

The first night back was nerve wrecking. Gabriel slept downstairs on the couch and Castiel had talked Dean into taking his bedroom, since it didn’t smell like blood and it had an intact door with a lock. Castiel moved Dean’s mattress downstairs to sleep on, to give the omega more space, but reminded him to call for help if he needed anything.

None of them slept that night. Dean began his night screaming with a nightmare that had Castiel barging to his door, begging Dean to let him in (which he didn’t), and Castiel ended up patrolling the upstairs hallway, unable to relax to get some sleep. Somewhere during the early hours of the morning Dean wandered to the bathroom and then to the kitchen only to bump into Gabriel, when Castiel wasn’t looking. That ended with Gabriel having Dean’s fist in his face and Dean running back to Castiel’s room in panic.

The next day found them exhausted and frustrated: Dean with the whole situation, Castiel for not being able to help Dean and Gabriel mainly for the lack of sleep and the black eye that was beginning to bloom. After some negotiating they decided that Gabriel would rent a flat from Willowbrook, to give Dean some space and to act as a frontline in case someone came looking for him. Dean was very obviously nervous for being left alone with Castiel, but it seemed that Gabriel made him even more nervous. They let the decision to him and pointed out that Dean was free to change his mind anytime he wanted.

In the end Dean decided that Gabriel should move out, and Castiel was inwardly pleased.

Castiel saw Gabriel to his rental car that had been waiting for him since the day Gabriel arrived. Gabriel had saved Dean’s phone number to his phone and vice versa, and Castiel had called Ash to inform him about Gabriel’s arrival. They had struck a deal for Gabriel to check in their shop a couple of times a week, just to be sure, and if there was any doubt of emergency, Ash would call either or both of them, depending the circumstances.

”Be careful, Cassie.” Gabriel said after he had tossed his bag to the back seat. ”For both of your sakes.”

”Thank you, I’ll try.” Castiel answered awkwardly. He watched his brother drive away, enveloped in calmness he didn’t actually feel, before he turned back to the house and stopped. Dean was standing in the doorway, unmoving, staring at him. They held each other’s eyes for a long moment, and then Dean turned abruptly and went inside.

Castiel stood in the middle of his yard and wondered what was going to happen now.

 


 

There seemed to be two completely different persons in Dean. The other was the mouthy, sassy man Castiel had met after the crash, the other was beaten, broken omega who flinched at every loud noise and sudden move Castiel made, and who reeked of submission, unworthiness and fear. It was heartbreaking to watch the broken Dean jerk when Castiel accidentally dropped his book from the couch or if his steps banged just a little too loud on the stairs. Castiel didn't know which one was the real Dean, or if the real Dean was something or someone entirely different altogether. He wondered if Dean knew, himself.

Gabriel’s departure seemed to help a little. First of all, the beta-scent Dean remembered best was the scent of his brother, and at this point of his recovery, memories of Sam weren’t necessarily a good thing. Secondly, Castiel suspected that it was easier for Dean to be in close quarters with less people, and the knowledge that Castiel was literally incapable of hurting him seemed to calm him to a point. Besides, Castiel liked to think that the way he was constantly exuding pheromones of protection and safety might also have a positive influence on Dean’s fragile stability.

But things got tricky when you were in close quarters with someone you were attracted to.

If Castiel had been a normal alpha and Dean a normal omega, he would’ve courted Dean, his attraction made clear by his pheromones, if not by his words and actions. But Castiel was not a normal alpha and Dean was nowhere near a normal omega. Castiel tried to keep his emotions under control to prevent Dean from panicking, but with his protective urges running high, it took him a lot of energy and concentration. The fact that sometimes Dean seemed to share the attraction instead of running away made Castiel’s head spin and thoughts scatter.

He thought that Dean was amazing: a strong person in body and soul, and even when broken he was more brilliant and vibrant than many other omegas Castiel had met. He didn’t feel intimidated by Dean, not like he had felt with Liliana. Instead Dean made him feel comfortable and at ease, like he was free to be who he was, without the need to posture or hide his insecurities. Dean didn't give a crap about his status or clan, other than the slight apprehension over the family history, but that’s what you’ll get by being a part of a legend amongst were community.

There were shared looks and aborted words, but neither of them was able to do anything about it. Sometimes the tension between them was too much and Castiel had to leave the house and flee to sit in the bathhouse or walk to the woods to clear his mind. He knew Dean had said that he didn’t go into heat anymore, but after Crowley’s operation something in him had changed. Dean’s scent had been tantalizing before, warm and earthy, like home and satisfaction, but now the metallic undertone of menopausal beta had vanished. He had no idea what Crowley had actually done, and he wasn’t sure if he should thank or curse the vampire. All he knew that at times Dean’s scent was too much.

By Castiel's orders, Gabriel had ordered a new door to be installed to Dean’s room, and after it arrived, Dean moved back to his own bedroom. Castiel had made sure to scrub the floor to get rid of the smell of blood, although it would probably be completely gone only after the floorboards were torn off and burned. He aired the mattress and made the bed with fresh linens for Dean to sleep in, but left the linens as-is for his own mattress for reasons he didn’t think too closely.

If Dean’s scent had been alluring in his mattress, as stale and fucked up it had been, the fresh scent in Castiel’s mattress was enough to drive him crazy. He hadn’t had wet dreams for over a decade, but the first night he slept back in his room with the unaltered, fixed scent of Dean filling his senses, he groaned into his pillow, impossibly hard and after an embarrassingly little stimulation, came into his trousers like a teenager. As he lay there in the wet spot, floating in the afterglow, he knew he was in trouble.

The slip came a week after their return. Dean was in the kitchen, eating breakfast and reading some Huxleyan utopia he had picked from Castiel’s bookcase. Castiel shuffled in, still half asleep, and the combined scents of coffee and relaxed Dean surrounded him in a warm, fluffy cloud. He poured himself a cup and turned to lean back to the counter, watching Dean immersed in his book. He indulged in the sight, let his gaze sweep over Dean’s face and shoulder line, let it rest in the plains of his back. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew this was trouble, but his conscious mind was still sleep-addled and therefore not wholly there.

When Dean pushed his chair back, got up and turned around, he nearly bumped into Castiel, only then realizing the alpha's presence. He froze to stare Castiel in the eye, and Castiel was equally transfixed by Dean’s eyes and his proximity, his scent, his lips… Without thinking, the alpha moved in and kissed the omega. He had to reach a bit because Dean was slightly taller than him, but they fitted nicely. Dean’s lips were soft and for a fraction of a second the kiss was perfection - until Dean jerked back and shoved Castiel away with both hands.

”What the fuck, Cas!” Dean snarled teeth bared, his stance ready to attack.

Castiel blanched and stumbled back.

”I’m sorry, Dean-. I didn’t-. I wasn’t thinking-.”

”The fuck you weren’t!” Dean hissed and fled the kitchen.

Castiel groped for a chair and sat heavily onto it. He set his coffee mug on the table with shaking hands and pressed a hand to his mouth. What had he done?

He sat there for a long time, his mind blank, staring at the cooling coffee in his mug. When he heard stomping from the stairs, he looked up and saw Dean, fully clothed, ready to storm out. Castiel jumped up and rushed to him.

”I’m sorry! I don’t know what came over me and I have no excuse for my behavior.”

Dean looked at him, suspicion and distrust rolling off him in thick waves. ”That was a dick move, Cas.” His voice was quiet and hurt.

Castiel closed his eyes. ”I know. And I am sorry. That was totally inappropriate. I should’ve been able to control myself. I will make sure it won’t happen again.”

”Yeah, it won’t, because I won’t be here.” Dean snapped, his voice venomous.

Castiel blinked. ”What do you mean, won’t be here? Where would you be?”

”I don’t know!” Dean shouted and Castiel jerked back a step by the sheer rage of the voice. ”Anywhere but here.”

”But- it’s not safe-”

”Safe?” Dean interrupted. ”And you think this is safe? You just showed me how safe it would be, here with you.”

”Dean, I’m sorry!” Castiel exclaimed, alarmed at the turn the discussion had taken. ”I would never-”

”You would never - what? Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard that? Do you remember how many times you swore you would never hurt me again and then you did it anyway. You said you loved me, and it was all a lie, a way for you to make me stay with you, to take every hit and every burn-” Dean stopped, breathing hard. His eyes were wild and there was a thin sheen of sweat on his face.

Castiel felt frozen inside. He barely dared to breathe, waiting for Dean to make the next move. The omega had slipped inside a memory and was close being feral, and as much as Castiel would’ve wanted to give in to his snarling alpha, to let him soothe the abused and suffering omega trembling in front of him, he didn’t dare.

It took Dean a while to come back to himself, and when he did, he seemed to deflate and fold into himself, and Castiel sighed in relief.

”Please, Dean, stay. You are in my territory, under my protection. You would be safe here.” He said softly, but when Dean lifted his head to look at him, he gasped. The green eyes were hard and full of pain.

"Stay here? For what - to be your personal fucktoy?" Dean snarled.

The air turned into ash and Castiel felt like he was punched in a face with a fist size of the Moon. Was that really what Dean thought of him? Or was he merely scared to the bone and lashed out, trying to hurt as bad as he could before he was hurt worse.

"No, that’s not what I meant,” he said. "Weres are extremely rare in these parts of the country and I'm the only alpha in the area. That makes the town my territory as well. You can either stay here or I can offer you a place to stay in town. You would be safe and no-one would dare disturb you. And I would never expect anything from you that you are not willing to give," he added quietly.

"Oh, really?" Dean asked mockingly.

Castiel winced. After his little stunt in the kitchen he couldn’t blame Dean for his suspicion. ”Really,” he answered, looking at the omega levelly in the eye.

Dean stared at him for a moment, then muttered, "Fuck this," and stormed out.

Castiel sighed and rubbed his face. That went well.

 


 

It was near midnight until Dean came back. Castiel had been pacing around the living room, blaming himself for his own stupidity, playing the kitchen encounter in his head over and over again, analyzing his behavior and reactions. He couldn’t deny the fact that he was greatly attracted to Dean, a thing he had thought impossible after the traumatic way he had parted ways with Liliana. He had no illusions about his own worth as a mate: a broken-bonded alpha with serious issues and two attempted suicides was not on the highest place on the list for best possible choices.

And even if he wanted, Dean might never be ready or able to take a mate. The little Castiel had learned by the looks of his skin, from the discussions with Crowley and the flashbacks of Dean’s nightmares were enough to convince him that Dean was as much broken and bitter as Castiel was. What made it worst for Dean was the fact that he should’ve never been through it. Sexual relations between humans and weres were not a taboo, but they were extremely rare, because the majority of wolves chose a mate of their own species in the end. Castiel had never heard of a wolf, especially an omega, being mated off to a human, it just wasn’t done, it wasn’t natural. Humans had no such biological prohibitions towards omegas as wolves naturally had, and it looked like Dean’s human partner had had no qualms in harming him.

After years of conditioning it was no wonder that Dean didn’t know how to act around his own kind.

When Castiel heard the door hinges squeal, he whirled around and saw Dean slip inside. He was chilled to the bone and shivering, but otherwise unharmed, and Castiel felt nearly boneless out of relief.

”Are you alright?” He asked carefully, forcing himself to stand still and wait.

Dean didn’t meet his eyes, only nodded, his whole stance a standing ovation of submission. He flinched when Castiel took a step towards him, and it broke something inside the alpha. He stopped and thought for a while.

”How about if I go and draw you a bath? You need to get warm, you are thoroughly cold.” He didn't wait for an answer, but turned, unhurriedly, and went upstairs to the bathroom. He left the door open and run the water, the warm steam soon swirling around him.

He felt a thought forming in his mind, knew what it was, but his instinctive reaction was to try and shy away from it anyway. It was relentless, though, poking and jabbing at him, and with a sliver of dread Castiel knew he had to make a choice. He let the water run, and with slow, meticulous moves started to roll up his sleeves, first the right and then the left one, exposing the angry, ridged memories for the first time to another person after being released from the hospital all those years ago.

He smelled Dean entering the bathroom, but the satisfaction of it was dwarfed by the apprehension inside him when he felt Dean’s eyes drop to his bare arms. Castiel gripped the edge of the bathtub with his knuckles white, before he forced his grip relax and turned the backs of his hands against the edge of the bathtub.

He was kneeling beside the bathtub, his arms bare and open, completely vulnerable and laid bare before Dean, and he had never been more afraid in his whole life. He closed his eyes as he turned his head away and waited.

For a moment, time stood still. Then Castiel felt a soft, hesitant touch on his right wrist, tracing the scars gently, mapping his past with tenderness and understanding. He let out a painful huff of breath and dropped his chin to his chest, unable to keep his head up any longer. Dean’s hands closed around his wrist, a grounding presence, and then his forehead leaned lightly against the top of Castiel’s head. The touches said everything, more than words would ever be capable of, and Castiel knew he had chosen right.

 


 

Dean never brought up the incident in the bathroom, and Castiel never tried to talk about the flashback of memory that had driven Dean out of the house for hours. They developed a routine of dancing around each other, both of them knowing that something had been profoundly changed between them and neither of them brave enough to take the next step. Dean would cook and surf around Netflix while Castiel concentrated on reading and his music. They often found themselves in the same room, like they were pulled together by forces greater than themselves, unable to fight it, like any form of resistance was futile.

Castiel became hyperaware of everything concerning Dean. His whereabouts, his moods, his stance, they way he slept, smelled, moved… He fought to keep himself in check, reminded himself of the promise he had made to Dean, but even though he was able to control his actions, at least to some extent, he couldn't help the reactions of his body. Passing sleepy Dean in the kitchen in the morning made his breath hitch and his cock twitch, and when Dean chuckled at something he watched, all Castiel was able to think about was how he would’ve wanted to scoop the omega into his arms and burrow himself to the earthy scent of Dean and home.

But the worst was, when he woke at one night to muffled sounds and hurried towards Dean’s room in case he was in throes of a nightmare, and only by the door he realized that Dean was in throes of completely something else. He sunk to his knees and pressed his forehead to the door with one hand on his mouth to keep his whimpering from escaping and the other hand pressing to his cock, as he listened the groans from the other side of the door and lost himself into the scent of Dean’s release.

Next morning neither of them was able to look each other in the eye.

 


 

”I think I should continue the yoga thing.” Dean said hesitantly, three weeks after their return from Kipton.

”Hmm?” Castiel glanced up from his book.

”So, what do you think?” Dean’s eyes flicked to his own and then slid away.

Castiel closed his book and frowned. ”Dean, you don’t have to ask my permission to continue going to Lisa’s class. If you want to go, you are free to do so.”

Dean rolled his eyes. ”Yeah, I know. But how am I supposed to get there? Baby’s still a wreck and you said I shouldn't drive yet, anyway.”

”Oh,” Castiel smiled sheepishly. ”True. Tomorrow is Wednesday, would you like to go?”

Dean nodded. ”Yeah, if it’s okay by you.”

”Of course.”

The next morning the air in Castiel’s Focus was tense. Dean fidgeted slightly on his seat and it grated Castiel’s nerves. The omega had something in his mind, but seemed unable to spit it out.

”Something on your mind, Dean?”

Dean huffed, a little annoyed, but after a moment of hesitation he asked quietly, ”Why was Lisa concerned if I staying with you was safe?”

”Was she? When?”

”After the first class, when I was supposed to wait for you in the bakery and I ended up in her class reciting ’ommm’ instead.”

Castiel thought for a moment how to explain himself without sounding like, well, a stereotypical alpha.

”I had met Lisa a couple of days earlier in the grocery store. You know that every time a were moves to the territory of an alpha, it’s considered good manners to make an official appointment and announce themselves? Well, for reasons of her own she didn’t. She met me for the first time in the middle of a grocery store, showed only marginal submittance and said that, according to the the rumors, I was a nearly feral hermit. Considering that you were an amnesiac omega, I don't blame her for being worried.”

Dean was silent for a moment, contemplating Castiel’s words. ”Okay,” he said then, and was silent for the rest of the journey.

When Castiel pulled over in front of ’Dechen Yoga’, Dean didn’t get out of the car right away.

”Dean? Something wrong?”

Dean turned to look at him, a strange look in his eyes. It was disconcerting.

”I want to tell Lisa who I am, and I want you to be there.” His voice was hesitant, but there was a challenge in his eyes.

Castiel nodded and stopped the car before getting out.

There were a couple of students in already, but it was almost a half an hour before the class started. Lisa looked pleased to see Dean, but her scent grew slightly alarmed when he saw Castiel following him. Dean asked Lisa to step aside for a moment and she did, a question in her eyes.

”It’s nice to see you Sam,” she said. ”Did something happen? You were gone for several weeks.”

”Uh, not Sam.” Dean winced and glanced at Castiel, who gave him a small smile of reassurance. Lisa looked between them, confused.

”My name’s Dean, Sam’s my brother. And before you ask, yeah, I remember who I am and I also know that Cas’s an alpha. And I’m still staying with him.”

Lisa studied Dean long enough to make Castiel a bit nervous. Then she nodded.

”It’s your life and your decision. If you believe you are safe and protected like this, then it’s all fine by me.” She glanced at Castiel. ”I apologize for my disrespectful attitude from before. I’ve had some unpleasant encounters with alphas, and since I don’t have the same protection of a status like omegas have…” She shrugged.

Castiel shook his head. ”There’s no need to apologize. You were acting out of concern and with Dean’s best interests in mind. You have been a very good friend to Dean, and I respect that.”

The look they shared spoke volumes, and for the first time in a long while Castiel was relieved to have another were in his territory.

”Thanks for looking after me, Lis.” The nickname gave Lisa a small start, but she smiled in spite of herself.

”Okay, Dean,” she grinned. ”Are you going to stay for the class or do you have a hot date with your alpha?”

Castiel blushed and Dean snorted, and Lisa gave them a little laugh. The look she gave Castiel before he left was full of mischief and knowing.

He left the omega to his yoga class and left to meet with Ash and Garth. While he waited for Ash to deal with his customers, he wandered around the shop, thinking if he could find something Dean might like. The music playing in the background caught his attention. It was Wednesday (’Weird Wednesday,’ as Dean aptly called them), and clearly Garth had chosen the music again. It was hypnotic, the male singer’s voice purring in a low register. Castiel couldn’t understand a word, but he listened intently, the music worming its way under his skin, buzzing there like electric current.

”Yo, alpha! What’s up?”

Ash startled him out of his trance, and he grinned sheepishly. He briefed Ash of the new turn of events he had found out about Dean, and after some speculation they deduced that the person that had abused Dean was most likely someone the Winchesters had known, someone near them. When Ash pulled out the name of Sam’s employer, Castiel felt a shiver go down his spine. He didn’t know how he knew, but he knew.

 


 

The next morning, when they were having their late breakfast, Dean’s phone rang.

”It’s Gabe,” Dean said with a frown, and Castiel put his coffee down.

”Hello? - - What?”

He saw Dean’s face go white and his alpha was instantly on high alert.

”Wait a second,” Dean said and fumbled with the phone. ”Okay, you’re on speaker now.”

”I said that I went to Badass Records today and they told me that someone’s in Willowbrook, looking for Dean.”

Chapter Text

”Someone’s looking for you.”

The words made him feel cold all of a sudden, dread spreading in a sickening cloud around him. Someone was here, looking for him, his past had caught up with him. Cas was talking with Gabe, but Dean didn’t hear it. There was a buzz in his ears and his vision swam, and suddenly he was on the floor.

”Breathe, Dean,” Cas said in a low, comforting voice. He had maneuvered Dean into sitting with his knees up and guided his forehead to rest against his knees, and he rubbed slow circles to the small of Dean’s back. A small whimper of panic escaped his lips despite his attempts of keeping it in, and he smelled Cas’s pheromones flare with protection and safety.

”You are safe here. I won’t let anything hurt you anymore. I won’t let anyone take you away from me.”

Cas’s voice was a low possessive rumble, and for a while Dean felt schizophrenic: part of him wanting to curl as close to Cas as possible, the other wanting to run away as fast as he could. Cas made the choice for him and gathered Dean in his arms, cradling him close and bathing him in his soothing and protective alpha scent.

When he finally felt calm (and embarrassed) enough to pull back a little, Cas let instantly go. It made him feel cold and lonely, even though Cas was still there, right beside him. He cleared his throat and looked away from the alpha, who seemed as collected as ever.

”Who is it?” He asked.

”Gabriel didn’t know. He said that he went to see Ash this morning, and Ash said that someone came yesterday evening, asking questions about a green-eyed man driving a black Chevy Impala.” Cas paused. ”You didn’t drive through Willowbrook before your crash, did you?”

He shook his head. ”No. I was tired and hungry and scared shitless, and I avoided towns on principle.” He looked at Cas, who was studying him intently, like he could read his soul. ”Did he gave any description?”

Cas nodded slowly, still staring at him closely. ”Freakishly tall,” he said, and Dean felt the kitchen walls ripple and melt.

”It’s Sam,” he said flatly.

Why was Sam here? How did he know where to look? Did Lisa inform him - and if so, why would she? Hadn’t she said that she had had ugly encounters with alphas? He felt paranoia crawl all over him, its sticky and clammy claws grasping him and choking him, making it unbearable to breathe. Then Cas grounded him, again. He took Deans face gently between his hands and made him look into his eyes.

”I don’t think it was Lisa,” he said gently, and Dean was sure Cas had read his mind. ”Lisa doesn’t know what kind of a car you drive, and she knew you were on the run. She wouldn’t betray your trust like that.”

Dean looked at him and nodded mutely.

”Dean, your past is none of my business and I have no right to pry. But if there is anything, anything at all that I need to know in order to protect you, you have to tell me. It doesn’t matter if Sam finds you, as a beta brother he has no authority over me. The only thing that matters is if you are married.”

”I’m not bonded, Cas. You know that.” He stared at the alpha like he was a bit stupid.

Cas gave him a rueful smile. ”I didn’t ask if you were bonded. I asked if you were married. In human terms.”

Dean felt petrified and bent his head. ”No,” he whispered. ”He didn’t think I was worth it.”

He turned his head away in shame and more felt than heard Cas’s low snarl, and then his head was turned roughly, and the intense burn in Cas’s eyes consumed him inside out.

”You are worth everything,” Cas growled, some alpha red bleeding into his eyes. Dean stared at him, wide-eyed like a deer in headlights, and then Cas seemed to snap out of it, blinked and retreated hastily.

”I’m sorry.” Cas stammered.

Before Dean had the chance to say anything, Cas had scrambled to his feet and fled the kitchen. Dean was left sitting on the floor as a living embodiment of what-the-actual-fuck?, wondering what the hell had just happened.

 


 

Cas was avoiding him. There was no other explanation to the situation. Whenever Dean came to the kitchen, Cas jumped away. When Dean walked into the living room, Cas said he had to go outside. Meeting in a hallway seemed to push Cas into a small panic of sorts, and if Dean hadn’t been so out of his depth himself, it would’ve been hilarious. Now, it was only disturbing.

Dean knew Cas wanted him. He had seen it in his eyes and smelled it around the alpha, time and again. Ever after when Cas had kissed him in the kitchen, his thoughts had been all about Cas, and the memory of his lips haunted his dreams. Once it had been too much and he had jerked up in his bedroom, and in the middle of his muffled groans he had been almost certain he had smelled Cas’s arousal through the door. Cas had never said anything, nor did he make any attempt of advancing on Dean. It was gallant but it was also fucking frustrating, all the friggin’ puns intended.

And there was something else he couldn’t forget about Cas. After his freak-out Cas had drawn him a bath and finally rolled his sleeves up to show Dean what he had been hiding. Cas had looked so fragile, vulnerable and hurt, kneeling beside the bathtub, his torn arms in display for Dean to see. Dean had almost cried when he had seen the angry, jagged scars rippling through Cas’s arms, and he had had to take hold of himself lest he bent down to kiss them. Someone had hurt Cas very badly, and after witnessing the aftermath of it plainly written on Cas's skin he wondered how the fuck had he thought that Cas could ever hurt him.

He kept playing the kitchen admission in his head on a constant loop. The pure alpha possession in Cas’s voice and eyes had almost swallowed him whole, and the dedication and honesty behind the words took his breath away. Cas thought Dean was worth everything. He had never been worth everything to anyone. In fact, he couldn’t remember a time when he had been worth anything to anyone.

The situation was getting ridiculous, and Dean grew frustrated at himself. He knew he was a mess, a broken excuse of a wolf, but he wanted - needed! - to believe he was able to get through this, to leave his past behind him and be free of his demons. In order to do that, he needed to be brave, braver than he had ever been before. And he needed to corner Cas.

In the end the solution was so simple it would’ve made him laugh if he wasn’t so nervous he was practically trembling. He put his plan in motion immediately to avoid freaking out and running, because that was not an option anymore. He prepared himself by taking a long, hot shower and putting on a fresh pair of briefs. He donned the bathrobe Cas had given him with trembling hands and headed towards Cas’s bedroom.

The alpha was lying on his back reading a book, under his covers, and startled when he walked in.

”Dean, what-”

”Shut up, Cas.” Dean said quietly, and looked at the floor. He couldn’t meet Cas’s eyes, otherwise his courage would leave him. He drew breath and started to talk to his toes.

”You showed me the past carved into your skin. It’s only fair I do the same.” He opened the bathrobe and dropped it to the floor. He heard Cas’s sharp intake of breath, and squeezed his eyes shut.

”The scar on my left knee is from when I fell from a tree when I was eleven. Dad was furious and refused to take me to the hospital. The scarring on my abdomen is from the car crash I was when I was seventeen. A steel rod speared me and I was trapped under a burning car. The firemen thought I had died. Dad and Sam never came to visit me in a hospital after the first day when they told me I had let them down by crossing the street that day.” He was shaking, nearing the worst of it.

He heard sheets rustle when Cas shifted in bed, probably sitting up. ”Dean, you don’t have to do this,” he said softly.

Dean shook his head with his eyes still closed. He wanted to, needed to do this now.

”The round mark in the middle of my chest is from a cigarette Tyson stumped on me after I got hammered when Sam got mated and didn’t invite me to his ceremony.” He spoke haltingly, the words clawing the insides of his throat, resisting the light and exposure. ”The other similar marks are from days I didn’t behave, when I needed to be taught my place. The long scar on my back is from the day I was too stoned with Percocet and booze and I slipped on the stairs and fell, and my back caught on a loose screw and was torn open. Tyson didn’t take me to the hospital because he said it was my own fault.”

He went through all the scars Tyson had marked him with, explaining the situation it was given if he remembered it. When he was finished, he stopped, breathing hard.

”So, that’s what I’m worth, Cas,” he ended hoarsely.

The silence of the room was deafening and Dean had trouble breathing. Then Cas let out a strangled sound and Dean was suddenly held by a distraught alpha. Cas forced him to look at him straight in the eye, and he was drawn to the furious blaze of blue.

”Your worth is not defined by your body. Not the dimensions or appendages of it, nor the organs you have or don’t have. Your worth is defined by who you are, not by what you are, and anyone who says otherwise is a fool. When I said you are worth everything, I meant it. If you let me, I’d rather have you, scarred or not.”

Dean heard someone sob and remotely realized it was him. Cas scooped him in his arms and carried him to his bed, lay him gently down, drew the blanket over them and crawled in to spoon him. He felt like something huge was about to tumble down and suffocate him, but the solid frame of Cas held it at bay, and he was safe.

The next morning he woke up curled against Cas’s chest, his face burrowed against the base of the alpha’s throat. Cas was asleep, his hand possessively around Dean’s middle and the lines on his face smoothed, his looks softer. Dean lay there, completely comfortable, and inhaled the soothing scent of the sleeping alpha. His alpha.

The thought hit him as a surprise, although it shouldn’t have. After all, Cas had said he was Dean’s if Dean would have him. The mere idea of it felt absurd: why would the last alpha of the Novak clan want Dean? He was infertile, broken and used, and there was nothing he could give Cas. But then, Cas was a broken-bonded alpha who had tried to kill himself at least once, and before Dean had crashed into his life he had been living a secluded life alone in a ramshackle house in the middle of nowhere.

It would be nice if he could have this, but what if Cas got tired of him? What if Dean wasn’t enough? What if-

”You are thinking too much.” Cas mumbled and tightened his hold. Dean huffed, but went willingly, decided that he could have this if he wished hard enough.

 


 

He was making dough for bread rolls to go with lunch, when he heard a car turn to the yard. Gabe wasn’t supposed to come over today, and he had promised to call beforehand, in case they needed something from Willowbrook. And if it wasn’t Gabe… Dean felt a tight knot in his gut while cleaned the dough from his hands, washed and dried them waiting for a knock. He approached the door with apprehension, calling for Cas. If it was Sam, no way in hell would he want to be at the door all alone.

Cas was beside him in a flash, his scent already pouring off pure alpha as a reaction to Dean’s fear. The knock made Dean flinch, and Cas’s hand was on his shoulder in an instant.

”You don’t have to do this, Dean.” Cas said, face drawn with tight lines of worry. ”I can deal with whatever is behind that door.”

He shook his head. ”Thanks, but no. I’ve got to do this.” He swallowed, braced himself and opened the door.

It was Sam.

His brother was just as tall as he remembered. His face was a bit older and his hair even longer than before, but otherwise he was the same - all to his eyes that were full of disdain.

”Dean.” Sam stated.

”Sam,” he answered curtly.

There was a long moment of silence. Then Sam rolled his eyes and pursed his lips. ”Aren’t you going to invite me in?”

”No.”

Sam sighed. ”What games are you playing, Dean? Do you have any idea how many hillbilly towns I had to search before I got to your trail? Now, let me in, I’m tired.” He reached out to push Dean aside, but was stopped short by Cas.

”Touch him and I’ll rip your arm off.”

Cas’s voice was soft and mild, but the snarling alpha behind his voice and scent made Dean’s face flush and knees buckle. Dean had never experienced the full power of a protective alpha, and it messed with his mind big time. Sam blinked and dropped his hand, his face a mask of utter amazement. He seemed only now notice Cas standing a little aside from the door, and his brow furrowed in indignant embarrassment.

”And who are you?” He asked rudely, but Cas didn’t deign to answer.

”Look, Dean’s my brother, and I’ve come to take him home.” Sam’s tone was impatient.

”No,” Dean said again.

Sam narrowed his eyes. ”You belong with Brady. He said that you had been acting weird lately, but even I didn’t think you would actually run away.”

Cas cocked his head. ”What makes you think you or anyone else has any right to take Dean away from here?”

”I’m his brother.” Sam snapped.

Cas’s eyes went cool. ”You are Dean’s beta brother. As an unbonded omega without a familial alpha he is under my protection and you have no legal claim over him.”

Sam drew himself to his full height. ”Bullshit. You’ve got no claim over him either.”

Dean couldn’t help himself. ”Boy, Sam. You really have no idea what you are dealing with, have you?”

That made Sam snap. He bared his teeth and grabbed at Dean. ”Fuck you, Dean. You have no idea what I’ve been through with Brady bec-”

He didn’t make it further, because the next second he was pinned to the wall by growling Cas, reeking of protective alpha fury.

”What you have been through? Do you have any idea what Dean has been through? You and your father sold your brother to a monster. A human! Give me even one good reason why not tear you apart limb by limb right now:”

Sam’s eyes were wide with horror, like he only now realized that he was dealing with a protective alpha instead of just some guy. His eyes flicked to Dean’s.

”He- he said that you were clumsy all the time because of your meds and the aftereffects of the accident.” Sam made a desperate attempt to explain.

Dean snorted. ”Yeah, I’m awfully clumsy, capable of burning my own shoulder blades with cigarette.”

Cas tightened his hold on Sam to get his attention. ”I’ve made an official claim on Dean under my name. As a lawyer and a wolf you should know what that means. And you can tell your boss Tyson Brady that if he even thinks about sending someone after Dean again, he’ll regret it.”

”You can’t do that,” Sam sputtered.

”Oh, you’d be surprised what the Novak clan can do.” Cas said softly, and his eyes were so cold that Dean was sure Sam would piss himself. It seemed that scaring the shit out of intruders was one of the benefits of being related to the two most notoriously violent alphas of the last century.

”In addition to that, Sam Winchester, you are in my territory without a formal announcement and you are trespassing. You do realize what I’m legally allowed to do?” Cas’s voice was a low purr, alpha pheromones a thick cloud around him, and Dean was sure he was about to faint.

Sam seemed to finally realize that in order to live he should vacate the premises as quickly as possible. He scrambled ungracefully to his feet from the heap Cas had dropped him and hurried to his car. Before getting in he turned and spat, ”You’re on your own now, Dean. Don’t think I’ll come for you again.”

”Good,” Dean answered grimly, and when Sam drove away, all he felt was relief.

The silence that followed was heavy.

”Dean,” Cas said after a moment, shuffling awkwardly. ”I’m afraid I overstepped some boundaries. I lost my temper and-”

Dean didn’t let him finish, but yanked him close by the collar of his shirt and kissed him. Cas let out a muffled sound of surprise, but then he wrapped his arms around Dean and kissed him hungrily, with desperation and need. When he pulled off to breath, Cas cupped his cheek in his hand and looked at him seriously, expression open and vulnerable, eyes pleading wells of emotion.

”Are you sure? You need to be sure, Dean, because I won’t survive it if you-”

Dean interrupted him with a kiss. ”Yeah, I’m sure,” he whispered.

Cas rested his forehead into Dean’s for a couple of seconds, and when he lifted his head to look at Dean, his eyes were pure alpha want, and Dean would’ve slumped on the floor if Cas hadn’t held on to him. When the alpha scooped him into his arms to carry him upstairs, Dean didn’t even think about the embarrassment of being carried like a girl.

 


 

Kissing Cas was awesome. It was hot and sweet and tender and raw and everything he could’ve ever dreamed of. He had thought that Tyson was a great kisser in the beginning when he had thought everything was okay, but it hadn’t felt like this. Dean wasn’t sure if he should laugh or cry or spontaneously combust, because it was all so much. It was perfect.

Until he felt a wetness in the cleft of his ass.

He froze in the middle of the kiss, and it took Cas a moment to realize something was wrong. Dean was lying on his back on Cas’s bed, the alpha crowding over him. Cas pulled away, concern and lust battling in his eyes.

”Dean? Do you want me to stop?” Cas’s voice was thick, like his cock that Dean could see straining against the fabric of Cas’s slacks. The thought of it made his heart pound and another gush of wetness soaked his jeans. Cas was leaning into his arms and stared Dean with worry, and Dean had an excellent vantage point to see Cas’s pupils widen, how his eyes glazed over and his mouth went a little slack, when the scent of Dean’s slick hit him.

Yeah, slick.

”Um, sorry Cas.” Dean mumbled and prized himself from under the alpha and practically ran downstairs where he had left his laptop. He scrambled with the thing and googled the number to Valley General Hospital in Kipton, Colorado. He dialed the number and waited the central to pick up, bouncing his leg nervously.

”Valley General Hospital, how may we help you?”

”I need to contact Dr. Ferguson from ER,” he growled. ”Please,” he added as an afterthought.

The person in the other end of the line wasn’t perturbed at all. ”Just a second,” he answered, and the Dean was awarded with the jingling of some brain-jarring muzak.

”Dr. Ferguson speaking.” The familiar silky drawl raised his hackles.

”Crowley, you fucker. What did you do?”

”Why, isn’t this my favorite wolf? How are you, Dean?”

”I’m fucking leaking. What. Did. You. Do. To. Me?”

”If you are suffering from incontinence I’d suggest you contact an urotherapist.”

”Fuck you, fangs. I’m leaking slick from my ass,” he hissed, embarrassment flaming his face red.

”Oh, it worked. Bloody brilliant.”

”What?”

”I told you that I fixed you, didn’t I? You were stitched up bloody awful and I wasn’t sure if I succeeded repairing the damage, and, if so, to what extent. If you are leaking slick when aroused, that means I made it. Unfortunately the damage is too excessive for you to have an actual heat anymore even for a bonding purpose, but you should be able to function more normally now.”

There was a moment of silence. ”The words you are looking for are ’thank you’ by the way.”

”Fuck you,” Dean said, but his words were hoarse and strangled.

”Close enough,” Crowley quipped, his smug smile radiating through the line. ”Have fun, Dean. Say hi to your alpha for me.” And the line went dead.

Dean stared at the phone in his hand. ”Well, fuck me,” he breathed and then grinned at the innuendo.

And then, ”Oh, fuck!”

He slunk slowly upstairs, back to the bedroom. He stopped by the door, and breathed deep, thinking what to do. He had effectively abandoned Cas in the middle of making out, and leaving a horny alpha all alone and running away probably did wonders to Cas’s self-esteem - especially considering his past. And Cas had asked if he was sure, and Dean had said yes. What would Cas think of him now? Would he think that Dean had rejected him?

”I can smell you, Dean.”

He blushed and walked inside Cas’s bedroom. Cas was sitting at the edge of the bed, hands clenched into fists, his face serious and eyes haunted. He glanced at Dean and then his eyes slipped away, like they had difficulty to latch on the omega.

”What did I do wrong?” Cas asked quietly, and all Dean could think about was Shit, did I fuck this up already?

He shook his head and bit his lip. He knew he had to fix this, but he was unsure how. Cas radiated sadness and Den could taste his depression stale in the air. It had been so good, almost perfect, until he had fucked it up. And why? Because Doc Dracula had fixed his body so that it could actually function properly, like an omega’s body should. Why did it freak him out? Had it been too long for him to remember what it actually felt like, to be turned on by someone he could trust not to hurt him? Had it been too long to remember what it was to feel safe? Dean had been barely presented, a teen of seventeen, and only had two heats before his accident. He had never had the chance to mature and develop a proper heat cycle, before it had been wrenched away from him. According to Crowley he wouldn’t have heats even when fixed, but he could have proper sex with his alpha - if his alpha still wanted to be his.

”Cas,” he said and swallowed.

Cas turned his head away and closed his eyes. ”It’s okay, Dean. We don’t have to-.” He stopped and shook his head minutely, unable to continue. Cas was curled into himself, a tight ball of bitter resignation. The palpable fear of another rejection pressed into Cas and Dean loathed himself for causing it.

He didn't even think about what he was doing, when he practically flew over to Cas and sank to his knees in front of the alpha. Cas opened his eyes in surprise, and the weariness in them made Dean’s heart clench painfully. He reached out to hold Cas’s hand, just so, opened the clenched fingers and gently turned his arm to present the scar upwards. He rolled the sleeve up carefully and bent slowly down, giving Cas time to understand what he was doing, and then he kissed the scar. He heard Cas inhale sharply, like he was in pain, and Dean glanced up, worried.

Cas’s eyes were wide with shock and his lips were parted, as if he wasn’t sure what Dean had just done. Just to make sure Cas understood, Dean kissed his scars again, again, tracing them with his lips, anointing them with compassion and acceptance, before he repeated it to Cas’s other arm. He didn’t look Cas in the eye, because he wasn’t sure he could keep it together if he got caught in the endless blue.

After he had kissed the scars holy he rested his forehead into Cas’s upturned palms and sighed. He didn't resist when Cas lifted his head with his hands, and he opened his eyes to the alpha’s tears.

”You…” Cas’s whisper got caught in his throat and he blinked furiously.

Dean wasn’t sure what to do, and he ducked his head in indecision. He had known that deep down Cas was an emotional guy, but seeing tears openly streaming down his cheeks wasn’t something he had been prepared for.

Cas reached out carefully and helped him up, touched his cheek tenderly and kissed him lightly on the lips, and then he lifted the hem of his shirt, just an inch.

”May I?” Cas asked, and after a fraction of hesitation, Dean complied.

Cas helped him out of his shirt with utmost care, stroking his exposed skin reverently, kissed every cigarette burn and scar until his skin glowed with pleasure, like he earned and deserved the attention. When Cas kissed the marred burns in his abdomen, he flinched despite himself, and Cas stopped. He didn’t say anything, but the question was plain in his eyes, a request for permission to show how he felt and what he thought of Dean’s body. It felt sort of ridiculous, let the alpha worship the mess that was his body, but Cas enveloped him in a cloud of rightness and love, and even though he might have his doubts about the accuracy of the sentiment, he let it lie. He had promised himself that he could have this if he tried hard enough, and he was trying, dammit!

At some point Dean had closed his eyes, and, lost within his senses, he had missed that they had ended naked. Somehow it didn’t bother him, but when Cas moved them towards the bed, he felt a sliver of nervousness. Yes, he was leaking slick, but he was afraid Cas would want him on his hands and knees, and no matter how different Cas was from Tyson, the position would be too much.

But Cas surprised him again. He backed to the bed and pulled Dean on top of him.

”I’ve never been with a male before. Tell me what to do, Dean.”

Dean blushed furiously. He was not a virgin, but he had been used for someone else’s pleasure for so long that he had no idea what he liked, let alone how to ask for it. He opened and closed his mouth for a couple of times.

”I’d like to stay like this. I wanna see you,” he finally managed hesitantly.

Cas nodded and smiled. ”I’d like that too,” the alpha said softly.

Dean bent to kiss him again, long and deep, and then he felt Cas’s cock brush against his ass, slipping along the slick-wet cleft. He tensed, expected Cas to use the opportunity to push in, but the alpha stayed still, waiting. He felt Cas tremble and saw red bleeding into his eyes, mingling with lust and trust, and realized that Cas was waiting his permission. He breathed deep and nodded.

It burned and stretched, but not nearly as much as when it had been Tyson, although Cas was a wolf and a lot bigger than any human. Properly functional anatomy was an advantage, after all, and Dean spared a fleeting thought of gratitude to Crowley, and then he was lost in sensation of burning turned to stretching turned to unbelievable fullness, when Cas was fully seated. He hadn’t even noticed that Cas had supported his weight the whole time to prevent him from dropping down too fast and hurting himself. He sat on Cas’s lap, straddling him and getting used to the feeling of being filled to the brim, overflowing and complete, and he gasped for air, letting out soft whimpers.

”Dean,” Cas whispered with concern, rubbing his thighs, but Dean couldn’t answer and just shook his head with his eyes closed, and Cas waited.

When he didn’t feel so overwhelmed anymore, he shifted tentatively and was rewarded with a gasp from Cas. He opened his eyes, shifted again and Cas moaned. They worked up an agonizingly slow rhythm, lost in each others eyes, blue melting into green into blue ribboned with red. When Cas knotted Dean it hurt a little, but he didn’t avert his eyes from the alpha’s because it was purifying pain: in this Dean was a virgin and Cas set him free.

Later, when he watched his sleeping alpha, he wondered if they could act as each other’s mirrors, reflect back the image of how they saw each other and help each other to see their true faces beneath years of lies and loss.

Chapter Text

There were parts and tools everywhere and the floor was covered in oil stains, but Castiel didn’t mind. He zigzagged expertly from the kitchen to the living room, evading the scattered innards of Dean’s car on the way. When Dean had first asked his help to carry the Impala’s engine inside, Castiel had been doubtful. He had never been that keen on interior design, but even he had realized that an engine was perhaps not the most practical thing to have inside your house. But he had understood that for Dean, the opportunity to take his beloved Baby apart and make her whole again was something permanent, a sign of trust and stability. In the end, it had been Castiel who had carried the engine inside, using every bit of his were strength and scolding Dean for even considering it with his broken back.

It had been a hard six months for both of them: Dean struggling with his past, craving for closeness and intimacy and still so often reacting with distrust and panic, and growing frustrated at himself, and Castiel trying to navigate his own feelings in the emotional hurricane that his life had become. He had thought that Dean didn’t want him after all, months back when Dean had fled his bed to call Crowley. But Dean had come back and made it clear that he didn’t want to leave. And now Castiel wanted to make it clear that he too was not going anywhere: he had chosen Dean.

He had been completely blown away by Dean’s deep emotions and ability to love even after the things he had been through. The way the omega had touched his scars, accepted them with kisses and caresses, had broken Castiel into million pieces and then made him whole again. He hadn’t known he could have that level of understanding in his life, that he could be welcomed as he was. Afterwards, in the golden hum of their shared post-orgasmic bliss Castiel had haltingly told Dean the story of his scars, the way he had tried to end his life and how Gabriel had stopped him, twice. Dean had looked at him somberly, kissed his wrists, and held him close.

Perhaps you had to be broken to understand the shards of others.

Dean’s nightmares flared every now and then, the past clinging onto him, reluctant to let go. Castiel could only hope that with time, patience and love Dean could be, if not completely free, at least in control of his past. Too often the nightmares interfered with their daily lives, causing Dean to cry out and lash at Castiel, reeking of fear and terror. And afterwards he curled in a heap and apologized, a pitiful ball of misery and self-loathing. At those times Castiel found himself vengeful, full of righteous wrath, and wished that wolves were allowed to show violence towards humans like humans did to wolves. But then, descending to their level would not erase Dean’s past or wipe his skin clean, it would only make Castiel as low as the one who had hurt his omega.

And humans said wolves were animals.

But now, Castiel stopped at the living room door and fidgeted. He was almost sure he was on the right track, but he was still nervous.

Dean was sitting on the couch, reading, listening his newest CD - something Sabbath that Dean and Ash had geeked about together. Castiel didn’t know the band but was more than happy to learn more about things that made Dean smile. The music wasn’t exactly to his liking, but they had an agreement: Castiel taught Dean about music he liked and vice versa.

And now, Castiel had a new CD. They didn’t usually disturb each other's music moments, but this time was an exception.

He walked hesitantly to the stereo and stopped the music. Dean blinked and looked up from his book.

”I was listening to that,” he frowned.

”I know,” Castiel apologized. ”But I have something else I’d like to play to you.” His hands shook slightly when he put the CD on the rack, chose the right track and pushed ’play.’

The soft sound of strings filled the room, and he watched Dean’s expression carefully.

Dean listened intently. The music was different from what Cas usually chose. It was hopeful, beautiful, emotional, gentle. Happy. He placed a bookmark on his Vonnegut, closed the book, closed his eyes and leaned back on the couch. He let himself fall into the notes, to the gentle swaying of the strings, allowed them carry and caress him, make him feel safe and content. It was powerful and carried a promise within. It made him hold his breath in anticipation, and when the music swell and rose, he found himself in gooseflesh.

When the music stopped, Dean let out a breath.

”What was that?” He asked, still eyes closed.

”It was Andante Festivo by Sibelius.” Castiel answered him softly. He bit his lip. ”Did you like that?”

Dean nodded, not opening his eyes, like he didn't want to let go of the spell of the music.

”Yeah,” he said a little hoarsely. ”I liked that a lot.”

Castiel felt his heart beat faster.

”If you are willing, I would love to play it in our marriage ceremony.” He fell on his knees in front of Dean and held his breath, waiting, hoping, fearing.

Dean’s eyes shot open, infinite pools of green. He stared at Castiel and then rushed forward to kiss him.

”Yeah,” he whispered. ”I’d love that, too.”

Chapter Text

He didn’t feel any different, but yet he did.

It was sort of funny, Dean thought. They had been living together less than a year, had seen each other at their worst, and the platinum band on the fourth finger of his left hand shouldn’t really have made any difference at all. But it did.

When Cas had proposed him with that string music of his, Dean had first thought it had been a dream, but had still said yes. Because Cas was an alpha and an heir to a fucking Novak family, and Dean was a broken, overused piece of an omega ass. He had been fixed by a damn vamp, but he still was infertile, and, as a cherry on top, suffered from flashbacks that made him snarl and lash out to Cas. But Cas never complained, just let him scream and vomit the swirling pain out of his system, and afterwards held him close and kissed him to sleep, the sappy alpha that he was.

It was like Cas loved him. The idea felt frigging insane - who the hell would think Dean was worth loving? The only person who had actually said it to him after mom had been Tyson, and, well, that had turned out just fucking peachy.

They were driving back from Willowbrook, Dean behind the wheel of Baby and Cas sitting contently on shotgun, eyes closed and a soft smile on his lips. It was sort of fitting, that the first time driving Baby after the crash was for their ride to the courthouse to get married. There had been only a few people standing witness: Ash and Garth, of course; Lisa and Gabe (Who had something going on, and, ew!) and that uptight guy Raphael, as an official representative of the Novaks. Dean really wasn’t that interested in the legalese, but in addition to glaring at him, the stick-in-the-butt alpha was there to draw out forms to ensure that Sam had no way of getting his grabby hands in Novak assets. When Dean had asked where was the form denying his access, Cas had turned a blank face at him and told him that as his legal spouse, Dean would of course have access to the funds. Dean had had to sit down for a while to process that. He hadn’t missed the barely-there softening of Raphael’s glare, though.

The ceremony itself had been a dull business: blah-blah, before these witnesses, blah-blah-blah, but Dean had suffered through it because it had been important to Cas. He hadn’t exactly needed the official ceremony and he thought that the set-up itself was a bit cheesy, but then, what would you expect when you hand the reins over to Garth and Gabe? Dean was just happy that the reception room hadn’t been filled with pink balloons.

Although there had been a bouquet of pink roses. From Crowley, of all people. Dean had no fucking clue how Crowley had even known about the ceremony, let alone had the idea of sending him roses, but, you know, vampires. Twilight and shit. He was just happy that the doc hadn’t been present. It had clearly been enough for the judge to have five wolves (from which two were alphas) in the same room with him, and a vampire might have been a bit too much for the judge’s evidently flailing grip of his perception of the world he was living in.

Then the judge had asked about their vows. Dean had turned to Cas, a little panicked, because he hadn’t said anything about vows. But Cas had looked at him with a small smile and stated, that their vows were private, and the judge had just nodded. Dean had narrowed his eyes at the alpha, but Cas had just smiled at him serenely and then slipped the ring on, and Dean had fumbled with Cas’s ring and nearly dropped it before he had finally managed to put it on Cas’s finger. When the judge had declared them a married couple, Cas’s eyes had been so full of emotion that Dean had blushed under his stare and had been forced to avert his eyes to avoid crying. When he had managed to lift his eyes, Cas was still staring at him with open adoration, and their witnesses had suspiciously teary-eyed expressions on their faces.

So, yeah. Now they were fucking married and on their way to their married home.

Baby purred contentedly as Dean drove on, the familiar feel of the wheel a solid, grounding form in his grip. He glanced at the rearview mirror and smirked. Gabe had suggested attaching ’Just married’ plate on Baby’s back window with some balloons to go, and Dean had flatly informed him that he would geld Gabe in his sleep if the beta so much as breathed in the direction of his car. Gabe had fled behind Lisa in a flash and grumbled something about spoilsports, but his complaints had been drowned under Lisa’s laugh. That had been a good moment.

Dean turned into the driveway and parked Baby in front of the house, conveniently right in front of Cas’s hideous green Fiesta. If Cas noticed his move, he didn’t comment on it. The alpha got out of the car and waited for Dean to get out too, before he reached out to take his hand. They walked to the door hand in hand, and, before Dean could react, Cas scooped him in his arms and carried him over the threshold.

”Cas, for fuck’s sake!” Dean groaned. ”I’m not some blushing bride, you know.”

Cas lowered him down. ”Oh, I think you blush very prettily, Dean,” he deadpanned, and Dean’s body betrayed him royally by blushing at the comment.

Cas smiled and gave him a soft kiss, but before Dean had the chance to deepen it, the alpha turned and went to the stereo. He fumbled with a CD, then turned and reached his hand out to Dean.

”Dean, may I have this dance?”

Dean turned crimson and stared. He didn’t-. Oh fuck, was he really going to-? He swallowed, then nodded.

Cas’s smile lit up the whole room. He pressed ’play’ and the notes of the slow waltz filtered into the air around them. Cas took Dean into his arms and they started to move with the music, noses buried in each other’s necks, eyes closed, just living and breathing each other in, forgetting the world around them.

After a moment, Cas started to talk softly into his skin.

”I recite my vows to you every night. I breathe them into your skin, draw them on your flesh and kiss them through your lips. I declare my love and respect to you, on you, in you, every night. I pledge myself to you every night, and, therefore, have no need to do that in front of a judge.” He lifted his head from Dean’s neck and looked at him straight in the eyes.

”I love you, Dean. I’m yours, as long as you’ll have me.”

Dean blinked away the burning feeling in his eyes, the tears that threatened to flow unasked down his cheeks. This was all wrong, it shouldn't be the alpha giving himself over to Dean, it should be the other way round. But Cas had never done things like was expected from an alpha, and that was partly why Dean lov-

Dean closed his eyes for a fleeting moment and decided to take a leap of faith.

”I love you too.”