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It rains so much anymore, but the streets had turned bone dry before the sun sank just below the bruised sky kissing the day goodnight with the last of its orange halo. The breeze was warm and with it carried a sweet scent, the promise of summer.

“C’mon Mr. Winchester.” Said Mr. Joshua.

Dean turned back from the open French door and watched an old man unsink himself from a comfy chair. Mr. Joshua was an old associate of his father’s and is more than a creaky elder. So far he’s the only alpha who has given him the most attention these past few months and Dean can’t say he doesn’t like the feeling of being useful.

Most treat him like a decoration on the wall, and the soon to be perched mother hen to Sam and Jessica’s first born. He was one of the most daring prospects in the city, the supposed elder alpha son of John Winchester and heir to the largest corn and whiskey manufacture in the Midwest. Or so was the tale till he presented no more than a month before his eighteenth birthday. The world didn’t crumble, he wasn’t cast out to the cold, but he was framed into a painting of soft pastels and lush fertile grain and left to bleach in the sun. He was an omega, but he was far from the fair flowers pinned to most alpha’s lapels.

He held hope once, he’d danced and sang but his stature is what got in the way. He stood head height with most alphas, even when he crumpled in on himself and obeyed. His heart was on a delicate thread to begin with, and as the years ticked over and the seasons changed without him every seeming to make a step in any direction he gave in to his father and moved to the north with his brother.

Hoping still maybe there would be a daring soul to intertwine with his open grasp. Until the candles on his thirtieth birthday cake wilted to the nub in an empty hall. Sam had tried to be generous and people did make an appearance to uphold their own, and Dean gave polite smiles and handsome cheer to all who looked his way. But there was no dance, no warm palm against his, and it was that night he decided it was ripe time he started wearing his brother’s monogram.

It was a symbol to the rest of the world he had given up on any sort of romantic pursuit, and the topic itself was highly rude to broach. By no means a servant he’d done it to show the world he was now just another piece to Sam’s estate like most unmated omegas of his senior. Owned but not kept, he only attended these large gatherings to help with the elderly and keep an eye out for the children if there dare be any.

Dean looked upon the dancefloor with Mr. Joshua for a brief moment, recollecting it had been at least half a decade since he’s graced its polished floors.

“Handsome aren’t they?” Mr. Joshua said idly, eyeing his brother and Mrs. Winchester rounded and youthful.

“’Twas a match made in heaven sir.” Dean said ducking his head, breezing him towards the front entrance. But not before stealing a glimpse of Coronel Castiel, he was a flame behind Dean’s ribcage that he kept tucked deep.

He was nothing more than a silly dream really. A handsome Cornel, and alpha who earned the President’s attention in the war. But before the accolades he owned a shipping company, which equated to a rather daring amount of money. And has shared all but sparse words with Dean in the past year’s events.

“Gone shopping have we?” Joshua said with a coy little smile.

Dean laughed, waiting for the carriage what was drawing up the way. “Unlike the youth I know my place.”

“You’re not a book Mr. Winchester, you shant sit on a shelf waiting to collect dust.” He said ominously as the horses cantered to a stop.

As luck would have it that night Dean would spend the rest of the evening on his shelf only to see Coronel Castiel’s bright sapphires only glance his way by accident. He watched them sparkle lost in a daze with one of the prospective omegas, ready and heartened for a mate just before their eighteenth birthday. Coronel Castiel shared about the same age as Dean, he was also on the cusp of choosing a mate. In his late thirties he had established a reputation, a foundation for a pedestal of his own to rise. Mate, pups, a home. Things Dean will have to share vicariously through Sam and Jess. The lonely old uncle who will change nappies, and read the eventual brood to bed, he knows he’ll find happiness somewhere in the chaos. But he can’t help the selfish urge to wish for his own.

Soon the days fly by, and so do dinner parties, small gatherings, none of which Dean has any business to attend yet is asked to be present. And each time he is found in the company of Coronel Castiel. It started with idle chit chat, nothing more than a gracious compliment, the likes of which he hasn’t seen in a great while. Dean held his head down, he kept in line to his fantastical knight, but Coronel Castiel never corrected him if he didn’t. In fact his interest seemed to only jump when Dean was a little more his rough self.Or maybe that was just the illusion he liked to believe.

Coronel Castiel was a bright and interesting man. He was born to a family who had a history of thin riches when his great grandfather had turned the key and started bringing finery from the east. Foreign spices, silks, jewelry, soon their company had expanded south bringing with it a modicum of riches. Yet he stayed humble taking care to fund a few orphanages and serve the starving on the street. He was far too rich for his blood and frankly would be wasted on Dean. Soon the man was everywhere Dean turned, he would be at dinner or an idle visit. Most had some other purpose hanging in the air, foreign trade, local goods, it all fell under business till the end of the visit when Dean would guide him to the door and find themselves wrapped up in conversations that near lasted hours.

Sam would give him snide looks and poking phrases as most siblings would do, and Dean corrected him each time. Coronel Castiel is just a polite man, he would say before going up to his room to chide himself for being such a fool. He wasn’t by any means good mate martial he was far too old, and had never had a suitor ask for his name. In short he was a cracked vase, beautiful but full of nothing. Coronel Castiel was a man who could dip his hands in gold whenever he so wished, so why would he ever pluck something so sickly and wilted as Dean out of a bouquet of freshly cut roses?

When Dean wasn’t busy giving Jessica a hand with young Robert he, more often than not, found himself in the light company of Coronel Castiel and a few other of Sam’s cohorts. Sometimes though, they would lose the rest of the group and be caught with only themselves to seek companionship. Dean’s favorite times were when they would go riding around the estate and while Sam dared race the other men Castiel seemed to lose in last each time staying not far from his side.

Oh, listen to him. Castiel, he’s Coronel Castiel, he’s not close family and by far is not Dean’s mate. Yet, he’d asked Dean to attend a beautiful night at his estate along with Sam and Jess. Most of it was spent watching Coronel Castiel be swooned over by the younger flowers in the garden. To which he absolutely was not jealous. But every time something in draped in lace and fine bouncy curls approached him, Dean felt his heart fall to the floor in a cascade crystal shards. He maybe a lonely old spinster but he was still a human and could only look on in quiet agony as they floated off the floor. Entranced with each other it felt near high time he let this one last thread be snipped as well. He hopes Colonel Castiel would still want his company from now and again, just like with Sam and Jessica he could watch his family grow. Because even if he was with another Dean could still dream could he not?

He did offer Dean company, more insistent they be to themselves rather than be an attentive host. And oh, did he want to fall into the unearthly sway of the Coronel’s eyes by the fire light, snatching him away for himself. Then he reminded himself, this is just how Coronel Castiel is, a good, strong man. Too gentle anymore for the grit and gangrene of war. Beyond them, Dean watched his brother and wife begin to make an early retirement and followed.

Bouquets came from Coronel Castiel, lavish yet identical ones for Mrs. Winchester and Dean. It was a courtesy extended for all of the omegas who had attended, but he had secretly pretended his was special. He pictured Coronel Castiel sitting with his organizer painstakingly hand picking every bud to send his message of thanks. He savored the consistent flourish of Coronel Castiel’s hand writing, as it dipped and weaved to form his name along with the small comment on the inside. He was nothing special to the Colonel, but every time Dean glanced at their delicate forms he’d like to think his petals were just as unique.

He’s insane of course. Driven to madness by the empty hole in his heart, what hurts Dean the most is no one ever bothered to look at him. He was an afterthought to every alpha his father tried to walk his way. Truthfully Dean never wanted any of those men or women anyway, they wanted something perfect, docile, nothing that could make too much noise and bear a brood big enough to have a child in every profession. That never truly spoke to Dean, surely he wanted a family and a mate but not a collar and a chain.

Dean tries his best to keep his heart out of the way, but whenever Coronel Castiel shows up unannounced he can’t help the quivering thrill between his lungs, especially when he is requested upon. Most of the time it is to funnel young Robert away from adult conversation. It must be his hilarious imagination when he feels Coronel Castiel’s eyes follow him up the stairs to the nursery. Once he was caught in a rocking chair with the door open trying to lull Robert out of a fit. They stood silently gaping at each other, till Dean finally admitted he was a terrible nanny.

“They would have done better to get someone younger, I’m afraid that my scent is too rough around the edges for him.” Dean said lightly rubbing his back coaxing Robert’s screams into a whimper.

“I see you’re doing a fine job.” Castiel said keeping himself to the doorway.

Dean gave a light chuckle. “There’s a reason I’m just kept good sir, but it certainly isn’t this. Every house needs fodder and a calloused hand, fate has just made me a poor example.”

Something fierce and angry strikes Coronel Castiel’s vision into an icy stare. Dean believing he’s the target bows his head in submission like he’s supposed to in these times, and when he looks up Castiel had vanished.

Returning a week later Coronel Castiel was in higher spirts, having forgotten his anger (or so Dean supposes) he is allowed to sit on the periphery of the conversation. Omega or not he’s still a man, and once spoke the same language Sam has become fluent in now. Trade flow, balanced accounts, Dean is astonished to have his advice requested from the far corner of the garden. The peaches have long been ripe, he rubs a thumb over the soft fuzz before thinking he should not take a bite.

“It’s alpha business,” Dean says. “What would a spinster know about such things?”

Something too quick and complex flashed over Castiel’s face. “You practiced did you not?”

Sam left a little surprised, didn’t look displeased.

“Once, my potential has since been in the grave.” Dean returned.

“Come now brother, you’ve helped me more than those jack rabbit consults father made me promise to keep around.” Sam added.

This was what Coronel Castiel did, he included Dean. Excluding Sam and Jessica he wasn’t treated as just an accessory. Which made is so hard to remind himself Colonel Castiel probably has always been that way. He treats every omega as if they have substance, Dean is just a single lusterless bead in his string of pearls.

For the winter they spend long evenings at the opera and ballet, never alone of course Dean would never gather the impression he was actually being courted. But it was nice to wonder if this was what it was like, to have someone sweep you away for an evening. He wasn’t the nanny, or meal planner when he was out with Castiel. Dean almost felt guilty he was ignoring the very duties he was set to do for his brother if he ever wanted to keep his stay. But the carriage would roll up and he’d near be thrown out of the house if he wasn’t on the steps with the rest of the party.

He humored just for a moment when he opened his wardrobe and glanced at the one blank suit he’d stashed away before sending every scrap to the seamstress to be embroidered. Sliding a hand down the smooth fabric he pondered if dawning it would make him feel free or just compound his agony. Dean never found out, slamming the door shut he decided it is best to just leave it to the moths.

Finally the time came for Dean to lay his head down on the matter, an invitation had come requesting all of the Winchesters to attend an engagement party for Colonel Castiel. His mood soured the entire month prior, not many were keen to his grey company. He even once snapped at Jessica for something as mundane and leisurely as taking Robert out for an afternoon stroll, something he’d never done. There were a few attempts to coax him from his window side nook, but he’d rather sit and watch the rain tap the glass, more so at the mention of Sir Castiel. He would have been the world’s biggest liar if he hadn’t admitted to himself he was devastated. It was all over, this was his last graceful stand with Coronel Castiel, and he wept for only one more chance to share a quiet balcony chat before what he supposes is the end. It’s not proper for a mated alpha to be amongst an unmated omega. Unless he were to be Castiel’s nanny, the thought of which pulls tears to his eyes.

But the evening comes, by then he’d reformed the jagged hard shell around his heart. Sam trying to be a darling has left him a new set of clothes. And he would have adored to wear them but there was something off.

“Sam.” Dean said approaching him in the den. “The seamstress failed to monogram my petticoat.”

He glanced at Dean with an innocent look. “We’ll have that remedied later, how do you like them so far?”

“They’re wonderful.” He said truthfully, they were a light grey and had an accompanying tie the color and sheen of emeralds. “But I cannot wear them tonight.”

“And why not?” Dean leaves him in silence, he knows exactly why not. If this is some stupid scheme for him to try and have Dean unwittingly seduce Coronel Castiel he will have absolutely no part in it. Dean laughs, he actually laughs, seduce? When had his head become so inflated? Coronel Castiel had obviously found someone else, granted they had gone unnamed in the invitation but that was the couple of choice’s decision.

So Dean tries to find something similar but nothing would go with that beautiful tie, and not wanting to insult Sam, decides he best just look too young instead of be rude. Plus he wants to look cheerful for Coronel Castiel, and the deep green gives his eyes the illusion of life. He after all has to spend the evening reminding himself when you love something you let the wind carry it instead of clutching it so tightly it bleeds.

By the time they arrive the dancing is already full under way and Coronel Castiel is jovial as ever swaying with a young woman he’s seen before. Her hair is the color of fire, and the dainty pink dress she’s wearing makes her look like a living Valentine card. She’s young, plush, she will give him everything he needs. Dean really can’t take much before he needs the sweet escape of fresh air, and once again he’s left to look out over bone dry streets after a heavy rain. The chilly air had a sickly sweet twinge, spring was half over, soon Robert would be having his first birthday, and Dean once and for all would be rid of Coronel Castiel.

“It seems you’ve found yourself in the same spot this year as the last.” Says a familiar voice. Dean turns to find his old friend Mr. Joshua perched on his cane gazing at the last inches of light falling past the bruised horizon.

“And what makes you think I ever expected change?” Dean said trying not to let bitterness seep into his tone.

“Well those for one.” He pointed to the blank spot right above his heart.

“It was a mistake,” a sad one at that. “I simply do not want to insult my brother.”

“But of course.” He said with a slight laugh. “You’re a fine specimen Mr. Winchester, and if my hip wasn’t such a bee in my bonnet I’d have asked you to dance.”

Dean returned with a laugh of his own. “I haven’t danced in years, there wouldn’t be much to miss.” He admits.

“I find that to be a shame.” Says the same gravelly voice he’s come to know and dare to love. “Pardon me Mr. Joshua, may I?” he gestures towards the rest of the festivities. 

“By all means young man.” Once Joshua had wandered out of sight Sir Castiel shut the curtain behind them.

“Hello Dean.”

 “And a good evening to you Coronel.” He says lowly, losing a tad bit of his control. 

Castiel returned Dean with a concerned look. “Are you displeased?” He asks.

“Not at all.” Feeling his constitution break Dean adds, “I ask you remain my friend, I understand your wife may not be keen on you keeping company with… with me. But I hope that this will not change our relationship.”

He stands examining Dean with an affectionate look he’s witnessed only in private company and it only serves to sting him as pity. “This is all rather presumptuous on my part.” Castiel began. “Dean, you don’t know what you do to me do you?”

“I wouldn’t truly have the slightest clue but after that desperate throw you can probably more than glean that I am just a candle in a typhoon. I understand if this were to be our last meeting.”

“Far from it!” Castiel says.

Dean turned away and looked back up to the sky, listening into the cricket’s chorus. “Then I ask, spare me the pain of attending your wedding. I will stand by your side for every moment, all except for that single one.”

Suddenly a warm hand firmly spun him around, Castiel stared as far as his soul.“I can’t accept that, not when…” Castiel drops to one knee, and with him Dean’s heart leaps into his throat. “There is much I’d want to change in my relationship with you.” Pulling out something from his pocket Castiel grabs Dean by the hand. “Dean Winchester, I ask you to be my mate.”

Every seething inch of his body wants to shout yes, but even when he’s found at tears of joy he cannot accept. “Oh, Sir I cannot. I simply…” If he indulged, there’s no guarantee of pups. He’s far from not having heats but as for childbearing men like him have a harder time of catching.

“I would ask no other.”

The ‘yes’ came faster than his lungs could grasp, he rasped out to Castiel almost crushing him in the embrace. For the first time Dean dances looking straight into those eyes, seeing more than just the horizon.