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The (Acting) Alpha Wolf

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The first time that Castiel met Dean Winchester he hadn’t taken human form in six months. Six months of hunting, sleeping, dreaming and thinking as a wolf.

It couldn’t be healthy. Their kind had always walked on the fine line between one animal and the other, and to give up half of oneself for a long stretch of time was seen in their culture as something close to suicidal. At the very least it was regarded as poor self-care.

If he’d been with his pack they would have intervened long before he’d gone six days. But Cas had no pack now – he had nothing – he was the outcast alpha, the lone wolf, the scum of the earth: with no purpose, no home and no family. Why would he choose to face up to that in the form forced to spend so much time weeping and dwelling on the past? Not to mention the fact that on two-legs he was far worse at dealing with the cold, and disease, and appearing as a threat to the other things out there in the forest.

But even as a wolf sometimes Cas could not help but think back at times and mourn all he’d lost. The frost crunching beneath his paws as he wandered aimlessly into the territory of an unfamiliar pack was a harsh trigger of that. Because the wolf knew what he would have had, what he should have had guaranteed for him even in winter: a prime space by the fire, treated to the first choice of the meat, the warmth of his pack’s bodies surrounding him at night. But now the wolf, stripped of those certainties, knew fear. And it knew hunger, and a hunger that had nothing to do with food…

Going through a rut while living as part of a pack could be unpleasant, and lonely at times, but it was nothing next to what it was to go through it alone. A small part of Castiel had always resented what his ruts did to him – he liked to feel in control of himself. Now, that part of him had been almost entirely silenced from shame. He was truly now everything he had ever feared becoming. He was on his third day of it, and though it was almost gone, he knew that even the real wolves he’d passed that had smelt him earlier that day - a people naturally deferent and subservient to his own kind -had growled at him to leave their territory. They feared him, but they were far more disgusted by him, by the depths he had sunk to, whining, howling, growling at everything that passed him, unable to stop himself.

Just a small step away from foaming at the mouth.

Perhaps he was mad, he mused as he wandered through to the stream and paused to take a long drink. His rut had almost finished, but the fever was still on him, and he desperately needed hydration. His mind had not gone so badly that he did not understand that…

A growl that came from a rock across the stream from him made Cas slowly raise his head to see the claws curled down onto the rock. A Wolf. One of his kind and a large one, with dirty blond fur which was well-groomed. A wolf that was snarling at Cas, ready to jump at his neck.

His latent instincts were screaming at him to do something to show submission and a willingness to leave the others’ territory; while his rut still wanted to attack something if it wasn’t allowed to fuck anything… And his new death wish told him that what he should do was to start wagging his tail, as though pleased to see the other, but in a way that could not be seen as anything other than mocking.

After very little deliberation Cas went with option three. He knew how this would go. The Alpha – the wind was blowing in the wrong direction for him to scent the other wolf, but he knew that stance, that arrogant assurance of this is my land, my kingdom – would leap at him. Cas would fight back, because his instincts would allow him to do nothing else.

And then either he would die - and probably quickly because although this Alpha struck him as powerful, and maybe a little overly dominant, he did not seem sadistic, he did not seem cruel. He would not make him beg for it. He might even first offer him the chance to get out first, before Castiel forced him into continuing.

…But there was the slight sliver of a chance that Castiel might win this fight. That he could walk away from this having claimed himself a new home.

That he could emerge for the second time from a fight an alpha not only by assignation, but an Alpha by position.

But he didn’t really dare to hope, to want. All Cas really yearned for now was for some kind of judgement, some form of resolution.

The hackles of the Alpha looking down at him raised up further as he lowered its upper back and snarled again. This time Cas took a step back. He couldn’t help it. He felt that even Raphael would have flinched, and that helped to cheer him, make him stand his ground once more. He even felt resolve rush through him once more as he stared back determinedly at the other alpha, the mantra of no more running no more running pounding through his blood.

The Alpha seemed to recognise this and a fraction of a second later he had snorted and launched himself at Castiel.

The Alpha was larger than Cas, and better fed. But Cas was desperate and rut-crazed and had nothing to lose. So for a few moments they seemed evenly matched. But even with Cas’ fiery determination to bite, to scratch, to fight back this time, it did nothing to help him in the end, and it wasn’t long before the Alpha had him on his back.

Cas braced himself for death.

But in the moment of the Alpha’s hesitation he smelt the last thing he was expecting to – it was faint, residual, assumedly, but very much there.

You would know it when you smelt it, the elders lucky enough to grow old with their fabled ‘True Mate’ had always told him. Personally, Cas had always held back some scepticism for the archaic belief. It seemed almost cruel, wrong, for the fates to bind two souls together like that. What if they didn’t like each other? What if one would never live to see thirty? What if they never met?

But now Castiel had smelt his Mate, his omega. And he believed. And for the first time in a long time, he wanted.

But why did this Alpha smell so strongly of his omega? He had to be pack with them, but how close they were remained to be discerned… Something cold gripped at him even as he felt the Alpha begin to release him. Could he have already have claimed Castiel’s mate as his own?

Perhaps if Cas had been more himself, he would have reacted better to the thought, would have realised that the Alpha was giving him one last chance to get up and run. But he wasn’t, and he lunged for the Alpha, only to have his front paw caught in the iron clasp of the Alpha’s jaw.

He yelped at the pain, bent his neck down at last. But the Alpha, surprising him once more, released him again, and, growling at Cas fiercely in warning, ran off deeper into his woods.

The Alpha had won, and yet he had fled.

Castiel had a Mate out there somewhere, and yet still he was alone.

It was too much for the wolf to handle. Remaining bested on the floor, Cas threw back his head and howled mournfully into the uncaring sky.