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Arcane

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Dean wasn’t sure how long ago he found Cas in the woods, but he could remember the evening vividly:

There was a chill in the air and the moon was big in the sky, shining its silver light through the trees to illuminate the forest floor. Something had beckoned Dean into the woods, and he found a path carpeted with orange-gold needles soft beneath his feet, seeming to glow in a trick of the moonlight. He moved silently over them, winding through the pine tree sentinels standing tall and straight along the trail. It was eerily quiet, the only moving thing in the forest a white owl, who stared at him from a branch before alighting, flying off silent and ghostly down the path.

He caught a scent shortly thereafter, his nostrils flaring and pulling in the smell of a bonfire up ahead. The fragrant wood burning was new--not something his pack was prone to building fires from. Hickory, maybe. As he walked on he started to hear the crackling of the fire, the occasional pop and splitting of wood. Between the trees he could see a point of orange flickering light, and he veered off the path to go toward it.

The forest floor there was covered with dried leaves in a thousand colors of autumn, and it noisily crunched as he picked through, forging his own path. He knew the sound would alert whoever was out there that he was approaching--and he was glad for it. Nothing worse than being surprised when you think you’re alone in the woods with your campfire.

He came to a clearing where the fire was and beyond it he could just make out the shadow of a cabin behind the billowing smoke. He had never seen this place before, would never have even guessed it was here, though he had lived in these woods his whole life.

The fire was contained in a ring of grey rounded stones. Through the licking flames he saw a man sitting on a log, knees spread apart, his forearms resting easily on them, square shouldered and leaning forward slightly, the firelight revealing the cut of his face. The details of him were obscured by the smoke, the orange fire patina that suffused everything in the dark, but the man’s eyes were locked on his unexpected visitor.

Dean stopped in his tracks, his mouth dropping open a fraction.

Say something, his brain supplied helpfully. You just interrupted this dangerous-looking, unfairly handsome man’s bonfire.

“I didn’t know anyone was out here,” was what came out of his mouth.

The man, who had been steadily staring at Dean uninterrupted up until that point, dropped his eyes--maybe looked at his hands.

He mumbled, voice low and strong, carrying over the crackling fire, “I try very hard to keep it that way.”

Dean was caught wrong footed. He was suddenly too aware of himself, his hands at his sides, his weight shifting uncertainly from foot to foot. It was his turn to look down, and toe at a dried leaf that had shuffled in from the forest with him to the swept clearing.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to intrude,” the remorse in Dean’s voice was genuine in a way that surprised himself.

At the apology, the man looked up, almost as if he was suddenly startled, though Dean had spoken gently.

“No, it’s--” the man slowly got to his feet, telegraphing his movements in a conscientious sort of way, so as not to alarm Dean. It was clearly a tact he had refined, learned from past experience. He carefully walked around the fire, coming closer.

Dean couldn’t smell anything other than bonfire. It overpowered everything. But as the man moved away from the orange glow of the fire the moon bathed him in clean white light so Dean could get a better look at him.

He was big. Tall as Dean, broad shoulders and thick the whole way down to his hips and into his thighs. He looked sturdy. His hair was black, tousled by the night air and campfire. His eyes were blue and seemed to pull in all the celestial light down from the heavens. The rest of the man’s face, which had once held the warm light of the fire, now revealed high cheekbones, eyebrows with an imperious angle, and a straight nose that led to soft full lips. His dark green henley was open at the neck, unbuttoned. It pulled over his shoulders and chest and biceps as he extended his arm to offer his hand in greeting.

“I’m Castiel,” he rumbled.

Dean pressed his palm to Castiel’s, and held onto him.

He said, “Dean,” in introduction.

They stared at each other, bathed in moonlight, in the middle of the woods for perhaps too long. Dean shivered--maybe from the creeping-in cold air at his back, but more likely from the arousal skittering up his spine.

Castiel released Dean’s hand with some reluctance but said, “Would you like to sit with me by the fire?”

“Yeah.” Dean recalibrated, “I mean, yes. I would.”

They sat next to the fire and talked quietly for hours. Dean told Castiel about his camp--a few miles east into the woods. There were five main cabins in a semicircle housing his pack with a central communal area to have fires and meetings. They had lived there for generations. He told Cas about his family--his mother, father and brother. He told him he hunted, and built things--fixed things.

Castiel mostly listened, interjecting at just the right time to keep the conversation flowing. Dean did learn--or more accurately confirmed--that Castiel lived alone in his cabin, and kept to himself almost entirely. He didn’t share why, he didn’t talk about his family or his past. Dean didn’t press.

As the fire died down Dean could see Castiel’s nostrils flare, subtly scenting the air. His eyes moved searchingly from Dean’s, lightly scanning down his face, his throat, his chest to his lap and back up. Castiel unconsciously licked his lips--left them wet and a little open so he could breathe in and pull the cooling air into his mouth and over his tongue. Tasting his scent on the air, Dean gathered. Dean watched as Castiel’s pupils dilated.

Leaning forward from his place on the log, Dean closed in on the distance between them. He bared his neck, exposing the smooth pale skin, the corded muscle, and the faintly visible throb of his pulse.

“Would you like to..?” It was a brash invitation, though it was barely whispered. Castiel licked his lips again, nervously, Dean thought, which was answer enough--but he nodded shortly, making his intention crystal clear.

Castiel scooted over on the log in a move that Dean found adorable, eager in a way he wouldn’t expect from such a stoic. Leaning closer, Castiel’s shirt pulled against his chest, spreading his open collar further and revealing more skin. Dean’s eyes darted down to watch, shamelessly admiring the hollow of Castiel’s throat, the way the muscles of his neck dipped down to his clavicle, and the firm padding of his pectorals and the gentle swoop of valley in between. There was the barest hint of sweat sheen on his skin, and as he leaned toward Dean, a waft of Castiel’s scent escaped with the motion and found its way to Dean’s nose.

The words, “Holy shit, is that you?” came unbidden from his mouth.

Castiel looked momentarily startled, but turned his head to touch his nose to his shoulder and sniffed himself. If he wasn’t so distracted, Dean would’ve found it cute--endearing.

“Yes..?”

The move inadvertently exposed the length of Castiel’s own neck to Dean, who inelegantly muttered, “Holy shit” and reached out to Castiel, a hand sliding over his shoulder, skimming up his neck, and up into his hair.

To his credit, Castiel didn’t flinch but instead leaned into Dean’s touch, even as he tucked his face into the hollow of Castiel’s throat. Dean’s mouth fell open, and panted out a warm, humid breath to graze Castiel’s skin for him to pull back in, and fill his lungs.

“You smell… you smell so fucking good.” There was unabashed wonder in Dean’s voice, as his fingers in Castiel’s hair began to knead, gently massaging his scalp.

Dean’s ministrations spurred Castiel on to tuck his head down to nuzzle into Dean’s neck, his lips brushing soft against the skin. Dean shivered as he felt Castiel’s mouth gently lip across his skin, before resting over his pulse point. He could feel Cas speak the words, “You, too.”

They spent long moments crowded into each other, huffing each other’s scent, getting high off their mingled body chemistry. Their knees touched as they sat side by side on the log outside the smoldering embers of Castiel’s fire, but their hands stayed above the waist, palms and fingertips exploring shoulders and necks and hair and cupping cheeks and jaws. They didn’t kiss, but their mouths roamed where they sniffed, pulling in their smell to sample a taste.

They didn’t need to say the words “Alpha” and “Omega.” Everything in Dean’s body called out to Castiel’s and vice versa. The clarity of their thrumming biology was total.

Since that night Dean had come back to visit Castiel over and over. He couldn’t stay away. It was like an invisible tether pulled him back through the woods to Cas’ cabin again and again. He could find the path from his camp to Cas’ dwelling blindfolded and in the pitch dark.