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Be As You Are

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The day John Winchester drunkenly steered his wagon full of his sleeping family off the path and into a river was the day the Winchesters lost everything. More specifically, the Matriarch of their small pack. Mary Winchester, the only thing that held John together, was swept away by the rushing currents, never to be found. Dean Winchester, only seven, hit his head against a mossy rock but clung to his baby brother as his vision blurred. John was a strong Alpha, strong enough to fight the currents, and he had enough sense left in him to grab his oldest by his scruff and toss him to the bank, Sammy in his arms.

The Alpha had pulled himself from the water, sobered by both the cold water and the sudden loss of his mate, and silently led the boys back to the path, stinking of grief. A day later, they reached their settlement, and John built their home as Sammy toddled after his big brother. It would take a month before John would notice Dean hadn’t said a word since the accident. That he sometimes seemed confused, and his movements were slower than usual.

None of this really mattered to John. No, without his mate, John didn’t much care about anything more than getting his hands on another bottle of whiskey.

Through the years, Dean would find his words again, though they would come slowly, slurred or stuttered. He was still slow, but Sammy was a patient brother, and would take his big brother’s hand and help him along with anything he needed.

Dean’s first heat hit when he was twelve. The day it ended, John had him packed up and in their wagon before the sun was up. Dean had no idea how long they’d travelled, still too exhausted and weak from his heat to pay much attention. It is only when he was handed off to Headmaster Moseley at the Omega Institute that Dean really woke up. He tried to ask his father what was happening, why he had to stay without his Sammy, what he did wrong. But in his confusion and fear, he couldn’t get his tongue to work and everything that came out was jumbled nonsense that just made John shake his head and turn away.

“Good luck to you,” John muttered over his shoulder to the Headmaster, “Dunno what good a broken omega will be to you.”

Dean cried as he stood on the steps, watching his brother disappear over the hill, until Headmaster Moseley steered him inside.

The Omega Institute was the biggest place Dean had ever seen. It had so many rooms, it may as well have been a castle to the small boy. In reality, it housed around 30 young omegas, ranging from 10 to 18. The Institute specialized in training omega’s in proper omega behavior and skills, and getting them mated off or find them Omega positions within households. Those positions could either be a surrogate for Beta couples, a nanny for high end families, or merely a companion for lone omegas.

Headmaster Moseley, or Missouri as she preferred the children call her, bunked Dean with a small asian boy named Kevin. This was fine with Dean, he would later decide. Kevin never seemed to stop talking, which saved Dean the effort of having to do it himself. Kevin also never asked why Dean was broken. He merely took Dean by the hand and helped him find his way.

By the time Dean was twenty, he gave up any dream of being mated, or even finding a job within someone’s household. A broken Omega just wasn’t worth the hassle. Missouri would smack him upside the head if she’d hear Dean say anything like that about himself, but it was the truth. Working with Kevin, Dean had gotten better and better at speaking, but it was still taxing. His movements were still jerky and hesitant, slow. Missouri had paid for a doctor to come and look him over a week after he had arrived. Upon examination, the good Doctor had felt the dip in the back of Dean’s skull and decided Dean had suffered a hard enough blow to the head that it had resulted in brain trauma. There was no treatment he could offer.

This didn’t bother Dean much, not anymore. He found himself content at the institute, though he missed his brother something fierce. The first few years, Kevin had helped him write letters, but when he never got a reply, he gave up. He knew it was likely that John wasn’t even giving Sammy his letters, but the silence still stung.

Missouri had taken Dean under her wing, treating the boy like her own son. She was patient, but didn’t put up with anyone’s nonsense. When Dean got to fed up with his own limitations and claimed he couldn’t do something, she would put her foot down and insist that he could.

“It may take you a little longer, Sugar, but you can do anything any other boy can do.” She would tell him, rubbing soothing circles across his back. It would definitely take him longer, but he would still eventually finish whatever task she put in front of him. Whether it was cooking dinner, or sewing new skirts for the growing omegas, he found he could do it all, even with shaking fingers.

The day Kevin was signed off to his new household, the Miltons, as a nanny for three pups, Dean cried. Kevin was a year younger than himself, at just barely eighteen. “Don’t worry, Dean. You may be the oldest one here, but you’re such a pretty Omega. You’ll find a home. If not with your own Alpha, then as a good nanny, or companion.”

Dean noted that Kevin had left out the surrogate option. Despite the fact that Dean was, in fact, a very pretty Omega, albeit slightly larger than was average, nobody wanted a broken Omega carrying their pups. His feminine features and green eyes just weren’t enough. He knew Kevin meant well, but he just didn’t see a future outside of the Omega Institute. Missouri had already made it clear that he was welcome to stay and work with her as long as he wanted. Dean was happy enough to accept the offer. Omegas couldn’t lead much of a life on their own, anyway, so it was best that Dean just stay where he was.

At twenty, Dean was content taking care of Omegas alongside Missouri. He was content cooking meals, tucking in the young ones, and sewing their simple skirts. He was content, until he watched another lucky omega get signed off and walk out the front gates with their new families, new Alphas, and new pups. On those days, Dean would quietly go to his room and let himself cry.

 

----

“Dean, honey, I have some news.” Missouri said, coming into the kitchen with the sweep of her skirts. She smelled of brown sugar and apples, a smell that Dean had come to register as home. She stopped behind him as he wiped cooking oil from his fingers on his apron, cocking an eyebrow at the Headmaster. “It’s good news, sugar.”

Dean looked at the paper in her hands. It looked like a new request form, and Dean wondered what new lucky omega was about to find a home. “Shoot,” Dean muttered, ready for Missouri to just tell him already so he could get back to making lunch.

“Now, Dean, I want you to think about this, before you say no.” Missouri shook the paper at him. “It’s a request. A request for you.”

“Yeah, sure.” Dean guffawed, turning back to the counter. It wasn’t like Missouri to joke around like this. Why would anyone request him?

A hand on his elbow pulled him back around. Missouri narrowed her chocolate colored eyes at the boy, squeezing his arm. “Boy, you best not be thinking I’d joke around about something like this. You’re a good boy, Dean, a good omega. It’s no wonder a request would come for you.”

Dean’s cheeks flushed at her praise. She was biased, Dean knew, but his omega still preened at her words. “What for?”

“A nanny positIon.” Missouri said, releasing his arm. “For a newly widowed alpha. He’s got a new pup. His estate is large, and he has a lot of beta and alpha staff but he would prefer an omega take part in the upbringing of his pup.”

It wasn’t unusual for people to prefer an omega help raise their young, as they were naturally the most nurturing of the subgenders. A fair amount of the omegas in the home went to widowed families, but that still left Dean with one question.

“Why me?”

“Well, sugar, I recommended you. The Alpha sent one of his staff members to look us over and find him a nanny. They asked for my best and, well, that’s you.” Missouri said simply, patting Dean’s cheek.

“Me, the best?” Dean sputtered, “I’m just a broke...I ain’t the best.”

Of course, this earned Dean a smack to the back of the head. “Dean Winchester, how many times do I have to tell you, you aren’t broken. You are the hardest working omega here. Why shouldn’t you get this chance? And if it doesn’t work out, you will always be welcome back here, honey.”

Dean tapped his fingers against his legs, thinking. This was something he never expected to happen. A request, for him. Sure, it wasn’t for an Alpha, or his own family, but he’d get to take care of a pup. Watch it grow, be a part of the pup’s life. He loved pups, having raised Sammy himself after their mother’s death. This would be something he knew he could do.

“I guess,” He shrugged, pulling his apron off slowly. “When do they want me?”

Missouri’s scent filled with happiness that had Dean fighting back his own smile. He wouldn’t let himself get too excited over this. He didn’t want it to hurt too bad when they sent him back. “His staff is here and ready to take you today, if you’re willing.”

“That soon, huh?” Dean muttered, tapping his fingers again, suddenly nervous. “I guess I better pack.” He shuffled past his Headmaster and up the two flights of stairs to his room. He didn’t have much, so the bag John had sent with him was packed quickly. He had a single nightgown, a robe, two changes of clothes, and a book Kevin had used to teach him to read. Reading and writing wasn’t common among omegas, so the book was one of his most prized possessions. He tossed in his comb and journal. It wasn’t a very full journal, as he still found writing too much of an effort to do very often, but it was still nice to have a place to let out his private thoughts. He wondered, briefly, if this alpha would be accepting of Dean’s reading and writing, or if he should hide the fact that he knew how. Lastly, he grabbed the small fake knot every omega was provided with and shoved it into the bag between his clothes, cheeks flushed at the thought of needing to use it in an unfamiliar home surrounded by strangers.

Lugging his bag downstairs to the mainroom, Dean kept his head bowed. It was proper for omegas to keep their heads down unless addressed. He was determined to make as good a first impression as he could. “This is Dean Winchester,” Missouri introduced him to the beta staff who had been sent for him. “He’s very shy, but he’s a sweet boy.”

“Hi there, Dean.” A woman’s voice chirped, “I’m Charlie. You don’t have to keep your head down with me, or any of the staff. We don’t bite.”

Dean lifted his head slowly to look at the small red-headed beta. She looked nice enough, though Dean still felt uneasy. He hadn’t been around anyone but omega’s for nearly a decade. Charlie smiled at him and held her hand out for his bag. “Let me carry that for you. We’ve got a nice coach outside, and a beta driver named Bobby. He comes off kinda surly, but he’s a good guy, I promise.”

Dean just nodded along and handed off his bag. It felt weird to have someone else carrying his things, but he wasn’t about to argue and have the beta change her mind already. Missouri pulled him into a tight hug. “You’ll be fine, sugar. Just be your good-hearted self and they’ll absolutely love you.”

“Sure thing.” Dean muttered against her neck before she left him go. He gave her a small smile before turning away, shuffling toward the beta. “M’ ready.”

Charlie offered her elbow and Dean hesitantly wrapped a shaking hand around it, letting her lead him outside. On the street outside the gate was the nicest coach Dean had ever seen. It was sleek black with a pair of beautiful chestnut horses hooked at the front. A burly man that he assumed to be Bobby stood at the back, taking his bag from Charlie and setting it in the trunk attached between two large wheels. “Nice to meet ya, boy.” Bobby said gruffly, tipping his hat to the omega.

Dean dipped his head in return and allowed Charlie to help him into the coach. The interior was even nicer than he could have expected. The seats were plush and a soft ivory that Dean was almost afraid to sit on in case he dirtied it. The windows on the doors had thick curtains that could be drawn for privacy, and the floor was even carpeted in a rich crimson. Dean couldn’t hold back a low whistle as he settled into his seat.

“It’s nice, right?” Charlie chuckled as the coach started to move. She sat across from him, legs crossed. She was wearing trousers, which was odd to Dean. All omegas and women wore skirts, as far as he’d been taught. It just wasn’t proper for them to be seen in such form fitting clothes. “Alpha Novak comes from a wealthy family. He’s owned the Eden estate for about ten years now. It was a gift when he got married. It was an arranged marriage, but Omega Amelia was a nice woman. It was a great loss for us when she passed in childbirth.”

Dean could already tell that Charlie loved to talk, and right now he was thankful for it. He wanted to learn all he could before they got to his new home. “Novak?” He asked, flinching at his own voice. It was always thicker, slow like syrup when he was nervous.

Charlie didn’t seem to notice as she nodded. “Castiel Novak, youngest son of the Novak pack. His parents, Naomi and Zachariah Novak live on the east coast, at their main Estate. Aldon Estates. They don’t visit very often, thank goodness. They’re very traditional people. Alpha Novak is much more modern, don’t worry.”

Dean didn’t really know what it meant to be a modern alpha, but he didn’t want to ask. He’d been brought up with his omega training, and he intended to stick to it like any other proper omega. “How,” Dean cleared his throat, “How far is it?”

“Eden estate?” Charlie asked and Dean nodded. “A few hours. You’re welcome to take a nap, or if you’re hungry I have some sandwiches packed. I realize we kind of interrupted your lunch time.”

Dean waved off the sandwich, knowing his nerves would make it hard for the food to settle in his stomach. He rested his head against the seat, letting his eyes drift shut and the movement of coach lull him to sleep.

---

Dean was jolted awake by a hand on his shoulder. “We’re here,” Charlie said softly, opening the door and hopping out. Dean smacked his lips, stretching his legs out as he shook himself awake. He took Charlie’s offered hand and climbed out, looking around to see where ‘here’ really was.

He remembered the day he arrived at the Omega Institute, and how he thought the home was a castle. He’d been wrong. Compared to Eden Estate, the institute might as well have been a shack. The limestone house was enormous with a stretch of never ending windows and levels. The lawn stretched out behind the coach, lush green with flowers and trees growing throughout.

The front door was massive, at least three times the height of any normal person and even more wide. “I’ll take you to your room to get you cleaned up and presentable before you meet Alpha Novak and his pup.” Charlie said as Bobby handed her Dean’s bag before pulling away with the coach.

Dean just quietly nodded as he followed her inside, eyes darting everywhere to take it all in. The interior was even more extravagant. The walls were paneled in cherry wood, and the floors were covered with lavish rugs. Every few feet, another painting was hung on the walls on either side. They were all beautiful landscapes of places that Dean couldn't believe existed outside of stories. Mountains so tall they dipped into the clouds, and valleys so green they couldn’t be real.

Charlie led him up to the second floor that looked much like the first. “You’re room will be at the very end of the hall, away from everyone else, for your privacy. Are your heats regular?”

Dean’s cheeks flushed at the personal question, but understood the need to know. He coughed to clear his throat. “Uh, yea. Every,” he licked his lips, “every three months.”

Charlie nodded, “Great. You’ll be able to safely have your heat here, and if you would prefer it, Alpha Novak is happy to provide a doctor to prescribe you suppressants.”

Dean blanched. Suppressants? He couldn’t imagine asking for such a thing. He’d been taught that suppressants were unnatural and unhealthy for omega’s bodies and reproductive systems. They staved off heats for years, and if you waited too long to have one, the heat could kill you when it finally hits. Though, really, it wouldn't matter much if Dean did take them. He didn’t really need to worry about his reproductive system, being a broken omega. No one would want him carrying their pups, anyway. But even so, Dean shuddered at the thought.

Charlie seemed to notice, as she gently patted his arm. “It’s up to you what you do, Dean. No one is going to force you to take them, and no one is going to bother you during your heats if you choose to have them. You’re safe here, omega.”

Dean heaved out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and nodded, letting Charlie lead him through the door at the end of the hall. The room was large, with a tub for bathing settled in one corner, a dressing screen angled in front of it. The largest bed Dean had ever seen was placed in the middle of a far wall, adorned with thick blue blankets and more pillows than one person could ever need. A wardrobe was pushed into another corner, and a table with a bowl and pitcher sat next to it. Above the table was a mirror, something he never got in the habit of looking into at the Omega Institute. Dean always feared that upon looking at himself, he’d be able to see physical proof of everything wrong with him. It was enough that his head made him so slow and dumb, he didn’t want to see it too.

“Do you think this will work for you, Dean?” Charlie asked, smiling.

Dean couldn’t figure out how that was even a question. What more could he need? This room was more than he could have ever hoped for. He nodded quickly, still looking around to take it in. Charlie smiled impossibly wider. “Great! This string over here,” She walked over to a thin twine string that hung above the tub and pulled it, “makes a bell ring down in the servants quarters. They’ll bring up hot water to fill your tub, so you can take a bath. You’re free to bathe as often as you like.”

Dean scrunched his eyebrows, “Why ain’t I with the others?” He asked, “I don’t need a special room.”

“This room makes you more accessible to Alpha Novak and the pup, as she gets older. Alpha Novak is on the third floor, but the pup is right down the hall from you. Besides, Dean, you’re not a servant.” Charlie explains, “You’re the House Omega now.”

Dean shrugged, not really understanding what she meant by House Omega, but figured it must just be because he is the only omega here. It was a weird feeling, knowing there weren’t any other omegas around after living surrounded by them and their sweet scents for so long,

Charlie and Dean stood by silently as two betas- Gadreel, a huge man that could easily pass as an alpha, and Samandriel, a smaller boy who couldn’t be any older than sixteen, heaved bucket after bucket of water into the tub. They made several trips until the thing was full, and Dean couldn’t help but feel guilty for standing idly by as the two men did all the work.

When the tub was finally full and the betas took their leave, Charlie helped Dean out of his clothes. Dean was used to undressing in front of others, as many of the omega’s would often share a large tub in the laundry house behind the institute. He kicked off his house shoes, thin slippers, the only shoes he owned. Since it wasn’t common for omegas to leave their homes, it just wasn’t worth the extra expenses to get sturdier shoes.

Charlie stood behind him and unbuttoned the back of his blouse, a loose, thick fabric that masked his omega softness. After finally pulling the blouse over his head and stepping out of his skirts, Dean eased himself into the tub, gasping at the heat. Being the oldest at the institute, Dean was usually one of the last to get in the tub at home and was therefore subjected to cold baths. The heat he rested in now was amazing, immediately soothing the tension in his stomach that he hadn’t even realized was there.

“I have unscented soap for you,” Charlie said, taking a seat on a stool next to the tub, lathering a flannel with a white bar of soap. “I know omegas don’t like being covered in unnatural scents.”

Dean nodded and sat forward, allowing her to rub the flannel across his shoulders and back. He allowed Charlie to move him around as she saw fit, scrubbing every inch of skin until he was red. She motioned for him to dunk his head, wetting his short sandy hair and she scrubbed that, too. Eventually she deemed him clean enough and helped him out, wrapping him in a large, soft robe. “Do you have a clean set of clothes?” She asked, already opening his bag.

Dean rushed over, taking the bag before she could look inside and happen upon his heat toy. Charlie raised an eyebrow but thankfully didn’t say anything. He knew it was a normal thing, and he shouldn’t be embarrassed, but there were just some things Dean wanted to keep private. He pulled out his nicest dress, a green thing that Missouri said complimented his eyes greatly. She’d provided all of her omegas with at least one nice outfit, saved for special occasions. Dean figured meeting the head alpha was a special enough occasion.

“We can have more clothes made for you soon,” Charlie said as she helped button him into his dress. “In fact, we can even have trousers made if you’re interested. Alpha Novak prefers it, actually. Even Omega Amelia would wear them, though she prefered dresses when leaving the estate. Again, it’s completely your call, Dean. We want you to be as comfortable as possible here.”

He just gaped helplessly, unsure. He hadn’t worn trousers since he was a small boy, and couldn’t even remember how it felt to wear them. He enjoyed the flow of his skirts, but he longed for the freedom that trousers could offer. He shrugged at Charlie and she smiled. “We can have a pair made up for you to try out, see how you like them. How does that sound?”

“Sounds awesome,” Dean said truthfully.

“Great! I’ll send for the tailor later.” Charlie clapped her hands, striding toward the door. “For now, it’s time to meet Alpha Novak.”

Chapter Text

Charlie led Dean to a room she called the den, and Dean held his breath expecting to walk through the door to find Alpha Novak inside. Instead, a petite blond beta sat in a rocking chair in the corner with a wriggling bundle in her arms.

She perked up as soon as she saw the red haired beta and omega come in. “You must be the new House Omega! I’m Jo.” She pulled herself up, holding the bundle to her chest. “Alpha Novak had to run out to the stables for a moment, but he gave me the go ahead to introduce you to Claire.”

Dean’s heart seized as Jo passed the pup into his arms. The child couldn’t have been more than a few months old. A faint blond fuzz adorned her head and her blurred blue eyes fluttered as she tried to fight off sleep. Her little mouth puckered in a pout as she was jostled around, and Dean adjusted his hold on her, lifting her to his neck so the pup could scent him. He’d been taught that it was best for pups to establish a scent bond with their carers as soon as possible. The pup nosed at the dip of his neck where his scent was strongest and cooed happily, settling in against his chest.

“I think it’s safe to say Claire will be happy in your hands.” Jo said with a smile.

Claire snuffled and Deaned bowed his head to take in the soft scent of the infant. His nose instantly filled with sweet milk and fresh linen, a scent that easily reminded him of holding Sammy after he was born, and tears pricked at his eyes, falling before he could stop them.

“Oh Dean, are you alright?” Charlie asked, rushing to his side, ready to take the infant.

Dean shook his head, pulling the infant closer. “M’ fine,” He said softly, “She just reminded me of somethin’.”

Charlie and Jo shared a look but didn’t say anything more, directing him to the rocker. He dropped into it, eyes still glued to the pup in his arms. After a long silence, Charlie couldn’t seem to hold her tongue any longer. “Did you have a pup, Dean?”

Dean sputtered, startling the poor pup in his arms. He quickly soothed her, gently brushing his fingers across her cheek. “Nah,” he said quietly, “Nobody’d want to breed me.”

Charlie made an indignant noise, crossing her arms. “Why would you think that? You’re obviously a beautiful omega, and Headmaster Moseley gave you a glowing recommendation. Any alpha would be lucky to have you bare his pups.”

Dean flushed, keeping his head down. “I’m a good worker, sure.” He said slowly, working his way through the words. The last thing he wanted to do now was stutter or slur his words to prove his point. “But I’m broken. Hit my head when I was young. Made me slow, in and out. I’m good with pups, though. I’ll be a good nanny for Claire.”

“I don’t doubt that,” A rough voice said from the doorway. Charlie and Jo quickly stepped aside to make room for who Dean assumed could only be Alpha Novak. He was a tall, lean man with a mess of black hair and the bluest eyes Dean had ever seen. His chin was rough with days growth of stubble and his smile was soft. As he drew closer, Dean was overwhelmed with the scent of cinnamon, leather, and strangely, honey. It seemed like a strange mix, but on this alpha, it was divine.

Dean quickly bowed his head, realizing he’d been staring. “No need to keep your head down, omega.” Alpha Novak said softly, “We are all equals here.”

He doubted that very much, but wasn’t about to admit it. How could Dean ever be the equal of such a man, let alone an alpha. Even the betas were socially above omegas. But Charlie had said Alpha Novak was a modern alpha. Maybe this is what she meant. Dean slowly raised his head again, still keeping his eyes off the alpha in front of him.

“What is your name, omega?” Alpha Novak asked. His voice was deep, rough, and sent something shooting straight down Dean’s spine.

“Dean,” He said, his mouth dry. He licked his lips, thinking he must be mistaken when he thinks the alpha’s eyes tracked the movement. “Dean Winchester.”

“Well, Dean. You may call me Castiel. No need for formalities between us if you are to help me raise my pup.” The alpha, Castiel, said.

Dean moved the name around on his heavy tongue and decided he’d address the alpha as little as possible, sure he’d slur such an intricate name.

Castiel cleared his throat and looked over to Charlie. “I trust you can show Dean around and help him settle in. Jo, please watch over Claire for the remainder of the day. Dean may begin his duties first thing tomorrow.” He ordered, looking between the two betas. To Dean, he smiled once more. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Dean. Don’t hesitate to ask anyone here for anything you may need.” He briefly tipped his head to the omega before backing out of the room.

“I think that was the longest he’s stayed in one room since Amelia passed,” Jo muttered, lifting the pup from Dean’s arms.

Dean scrunched his brows at the girl, standing from the rocker. “He ain’t around much?”

Jo shook her head, adjusting the pup before taking Dean’s place in the rocker once more. “No, Alpha Novak has always been an outdoorsman. He has an apiary in the west fields, and he helps with the cattle and horses quite often as well. When Amelia was here and pregnant, he made more of an effort to spend time indoors, to be available to her. Since her passing, though, he’s gone right back to his old habits.”

Tending bees seemed to be a very odd thing for an alpha to do, but Dean knew better than to question it. He said his goodbyes to the blond beta and allowed Charlie to lead him back into the hallway. She showed him to the formal dining room, stating that they rarely use it. It was mostly saved for the elder Novak’s rare visits. A smaller informal dining room was nestled outside of the kitchen. An older woman stood over a boiling pot in the largest kitchen Dean had ever laid eyes on.

“This is Ellen,” Charlie introduced her, “She is actually Jo’s mother.”

“Mother?” That would mean that this woman was actually an omega, which eased a bit of tension in the back of Dean’s chest. He felt much more comfortable knowing he’d have another omega nearby.

“Yes. Like I said earlier, Alpha Novak is a modern alpha. He’ll allow omegas to work any position they are skilled at. Ellen is the house cook, and a wonderful one at that.” Charlie said, catching Ellen’s attention. The heavy scents of dinner being cooked had covered any scent of them coming in.

Ellen set her ladle aside and smiled warmly at Dean. Up close, he could see the resemblance between Jo and her mother. The same long, straight nose, and warm honey eyes. Ellen’s hair was a darker blond, streaked with gray. She exuded warmth and smelled softlly of lavender and peaches. “Hello, you must be the nanny Alpha Novak sent for.”

“M’ Dean,” He said quietly, smiling at the woman. “I cooked at the institute, if you ever need another set of hands.” Dean flinched, knowing he was mostly mumbling, but the older omega’s smile just grew warmer. It always got worse later in the day, when he grew tired.

“That would be wonderful, Dean, thank you. You are welcome in my kitchen anytime.”
Charlie patted Dean’s arm, “I’d show you everything outside, but it’s getting pretty cold and I didn’t see a coat among your things. Besides, you look pretty tired. Ready to head back to your room? I’m sure Ellen wouldn’t mind making up a dinner tray for me to deliver later.”

“That wouldn’t be any trouble,” Ellen agreed.

Dean nodded, “Sounds good. Thanks, Ellen.”

Ellen made her way back to the stove and Charlie ushered Dean out. “There’s a library at the far end of the house,” Charlie explained as she and Dean made their way up the stairs, “And on the other end of the second floor are our guest rooms. The third floor is all Alpha Novak’s space. His office is up there as well.”

“What does he do?” Dean asked, opening the door to his room. He immediately slipped off his house shoes and sat on the edge of the bed, sinking into the plush mattress. His old bed hadn’t been horrible, per say, but it hadn’t done his back any favors either.

“He helps with his father’s trade business. In fact, he trades the honey his bees produce as well. He tends to focus more on the paperwork, rather than the traveling, though. He doesn’t like to leave his estate for too long.” Charlie busied herself pulling extra pillows off the bed, dumping them on the floor and yanking back the blankets so Dean could slip under them. “The folks around here don’t appreciate the way he runs things, wish he would keep a tighter leash on his staff. It’s unlikely they would come here and try anything, but Alpha Novak chooses not to take that chance.”

That didn’t surprise Dean. Missouri had taught her omegas well just what was expected of them, and made it clear how strict the public could be if they stepped out of line. Betas were mostly restricted to working for the high class families, ordered to be seen and not heard. Betas were rarely born to high class families, as they tended to carefully breed within their own lineage.

“Anyway, I’ll bring a tray up for you in a couple hours. There’s another string above your bed that goes to the kitchen, so ring if you need me.” Charlie backed to the door, giving Dean one last smile before ducking out.

This was far from what Dean had expected. He was being treated like he was someone important, rather than just the nanny. He wasn’t about to complain, though. The bed alone was enough to settle his nerves as he sunk back into the pillows, eyes already drifting shut. Tomorrow he would get to start his new job, a nanny to a beautiful pup. It was something he had given up hoping for long ago. Dean couldn’t imagine how he’d gotten so lucky.

---

Dean woke to a dark room, unsure what time it is. For a moment, he wondered what exactly woke him because the last thing he knew, he’d been deep in a dream about bees and blue eyes. Then his ears pricked and he heard the incessant cry of a distressed pup. Without much pause, he pushed himself out of bed and was already shuffling down the hall, trying to find which door the pup was hidden behind.

The cries were loudest three doors down, so Dean opened the door and peeked his head into what was, indeed, the pup’s nursery. Claire lay on her back in the center of a cherry wood crib, flailing her little fists around. Upon inspection, Dean decided she didn’t need changed, and must be hungry. No one had told him where to find the supplies for feeding, so Dean took an educated guess and, with the pup securely in his arms, made his way down to the kitchen.

Thankfully, Ellen was still there preparing food for the next day. She looked up as Dean entered, a knowing smile on her face. “Pup hungry?”

“Think so,” Dean nodded, bouncing the infant softly. “Know where I can find her food?”

“Well, Dean, does your chest feel kinda funny? Kinda achy, or full?” Ellen asked, hand pressed to her own chest. When Dean stopped to think about it, his chest did kind of ache, so he nodded. “I’ve been standing in feeding her, but now you’ll be able to. It isn’t well known, but any omega can produce milk for a pup in need. If you two have scent bonded, which I suspect you did when you held her earlier, your body will recognize her cries for food.”

This was definitely news to Dean, and he wondered why Missouri didn’t teach that to her omegas. Ellen hurried over and pulled out a chair at the prep table for Dean, motioning for him to sit. She moved behind him and started to unbutton his dress, easing one side off his shoulder so part of his chest was exposed. He could already see that his chest was the slightest bit rounded, and his nipple was puffy.

With practiced ease, Ellen helped Dean bring the pup’s mouth to his chest, moving her around until her mouth latched on and she began to suck in earnest. It was the oddest sensation Dean had ever felt, but it sent something warm and happy through him just the same.

“You won’t produce a whole lot the first time, so if she doesn’t get her fill tonight, I’ll take over for you.” Ellen said softly. “Charlie couldn’t get you to wake for dinner, so I’m sure you’re hungry. I’ll whip you up a bowl of oatmeal with some honey drizzled on. It helps with production. If you’d like, I’ll prepare it for your breakfast each morning.”

“Sounds good,” Dean whispered, watching the pup suckling in awe, “Thank you, Ellen.”

Ellen pet his head gently and moved away to prepare his late meal. In the silence, Dean was the most at ease he could ever remember being.

Since Dean hadn’t eaten since breakfast earlier that morning, he wasn’t surprised when Claire quickly drained him of milk. Thankfully, Ellen was already coming to the table with a heaping bowl of oatmeal in hand. After setting her load down, she unbuttoned the front of her shirt and lifted the pup from Dean’s arms and quickly popped the whining infant on her own nipple.

Dean took a bite of the oatmeal and nearly moaned from how delicious it was. “The honey is awesome,” He said around a mouthful, uncaring for manners with how hungry he was.

“Alpha Novak’s bees produce the best honey around,” Ellen said proudly, “Even has different flavors. That one there is aster honey. When Jo was a pup, I’d constantly find her in the pantry with her fingers covered in aster honey, eating it like candy. It’s the sweetest he has to offer.”

Dean chuckled, picturing the young beta as a child covered in honey. It was definitely sweet, and he wouldn’t mind eating it straight from a jar either. By the time Dean’s bowl was empty, the pup had finished feeding. Ellen passed her back over and buttoned them both up,

“Better get the pup to bed,” Dean said, giving the older omega a warm smile, “Thanks for all your help, Ellen.”

“Don’t worry about it, honey,” She said, patting his cheek. “Like I said earlier, you’re welcome in my kitchen anytime. In fact, I’ll have Bill bring in Jo’s old bassinet so you have somewhere for Claire to sleep when you stop by.”

Dean’s smile grew. Taking this position, he never expected to be welcomed so warmly by the staff themselves. He prayed to whoever was listening that he didn’t screw this up. As much as he loved Missouri, he could see himself being happy here. “Thanks, Ellen.” He said again.

Back in Claire’s nursery, Dean settled into a plush rocker in the corner, content with holding the sleeping pup in lieu of returning to bed. With the pup’s sweet scent and warmth surrounding him, it didn’t take him long to drift off to sleep himself.

Chapter Text

“The tailor will be here within the hour,” Charlie said, taking the tray from Dean as soon as he finished his oatmeal. The honey had been different this time, a lighter, lemon flavor. Dean had no idea how honey could come in so many different flavors. Maybe, he hoped, someday Castiel would explain it to him. “I want to explain Rowena to you. She’s a brash woman, so don’t take anything she may say to heart. She’s that way with everyone, even Alpha Novak. I suspect he only puts up with it because he’s an angel sent from God himself. Plus, her work is flawless.”

Dean chuckled and followed the beta down the stairs to the den. “There isn’t much for you to do as far as entertainment goes,” Charlie grimaced, moving a bassinet closer to the couch for Dean to lay the pup in. “Frankly, I find infants boring at this age.”

This was something Dean could kind of agree with. Apart from feeding and changes, there wasn’t much Dean could do with Claire at this point. Dean knew he would grow antsy if he just sat around all day. At the Omega Institute, he was always on the move. His hands were always working with something, and there was commotion everywhere. “I could help Ellen with meals,” Dean offered, “or do any mending that needs done.”

Charlie nodded, “That would be wonderful! I’m sure Ellen would love your help. And we have a little over fifty staff members on site, so there’s definitely always mending to be done. I’ll send word for everyone to pass along what needs fixed. Of course, there’s no rush to finish them.”

A pretty beta with dark curls and round cheeks peeked her head in to announce the arrival of the tailor and Charlie heaved a breath. “Thanks, Meg.” She turned to Dean, “Get ready for some fun.”

Dean wondered how one person could be so bad and still be employed. He was actually kind of looking forward to meeting the woman. The beta, Meg, ushered in an impossibly petite woman with long, bouncy red curls. Dean could immediately smell the the woman was an omega. How an omega was allowed to work such a position, he had no idea. She smelled of sage and rosemary, and was giving Dean a purely lecherous grin.

“My, aren’t you a delectable creature.” She had a thick lilt to her voice. “Are you the wee doll I’ll be dressing?”

“He is,” Charlie said cheerily, “This is Dean. Dean, meet Rowena MacLeod. Rowena, please don’t scare him off. We like this one.”

Dean flushed at Charlie’s compliment as Rowena circled him as if he was prey to be hunted. “Oh, shush, I’m always a ray of sunshine, dearie.” She stopped in front of him, “I’ll need you to undress if I’m to take your measurements.”

“Meg, watch the door so no one interrupts, please.” Charlie ordered, moving to help Dean out of his clothes. Once undressed, she pulled out a short stool and helped Dean to stand on.

Rowena moved quickly, pulling a measuring tape seemingly out of nowhere and stretching it over his torso. As she moved down to measure her legs, she chuckled. “My, quite a tidy wee tush he’s got here. You are certainly fit. Novak is a lucky alpha indeed.”

Dean’s flush deepened and Charlie quickly snapped at Rowena, “He’s here as a nanny, MacLeod. Don’t be so crude.”

“Oh, Novak is a fool to pass up on this fit cutie.” She quipped, taking the last of her measurements. “You’ll look delicious in some trousers.”

Despite Charlie’s many objections over next two hours, Rowena continued her repartee. Dean was surprised to find he didn’t really mind her behavior. He could smell the gentle warmth in her scent that proved she didn’t mean any ill intent. Dean had an idea as to why Rowena behaved the way she did. As a working omega, she had to have the upper hand somehow. Often times, alphas were the ones spouting off inappropriate remarks about omegas, so it only made sense that Rowena would beat them to the punch.

By the time the second hour was up, Rowena had a pair of simple black trousers and white blouse ready for him. “These will tide you over, dearie. I’ll whip up the rest of your wardrobe and send it over toot sweet.”

“Thank you,” Dean said, twisting and turning to get a better look at his new outfit. The pants were loose enough that he wasn’t worried about being too salacious, though it was definitely weird having his legs so confined. “Looks awesome.”

“Pleased to have your approval, muppet,” Rowean chirped, giving Dean a quick pat on his bottom before she turned on her heel and headed for the door. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a date with a yummy alpha, and I’d hate to keep him waiting.”

“I’ll see you out,” Meg offered with a roll of her eyes. She and the tailor disappeared behind the door and Dean moved to check on the pup. Claire had been blissfully quiet as Rowena worked, but now she was squirming and would most likely be in need of a change and some milk. As if on queue, Dean’s chest started to ache. He was quick to swap out her cloth diaper, offering up the soiled one to Charlie for her to take care of.

Once Claire was clean and wrapped up, Dean pull aside his shirt and set her to his breast. It was rounder than it had been last night, so the honey and oatmeal must have been working well to aid his milk supply.

“You’re taking to mothering wonderfully, Dean.” Charlie said softly, returning to the room. “Think you’ll be fine for a while if I go take care of a few things?”

Dean nodded, “Of course. You don’t need to babysit me.” He added a quick smile so she knew he wasn’t serious.

Charlie chuckled and patted his shoulder. “In that case, I’ll leave you be. If you need anything, feel free to ask any of the staff you come across. Lunch is in a couple hours, so I’ll come and join you then.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Dean told the beta before she made her leave. Once Dean was alone with the pup, the sounds of her suckling filling the sudden silence, Dean sighed. If he were at the institute, he would be running ragged preparing lunches and keeping an eye on the youngest by now. Instead, he was being waited on and snuggling with a sweet pup, and couldn’t be any happier. Still, though, his hands grew fidgety against Claire’s soft blankets.

She didn’t take long to get her fill, and once he was buttoned up Dean decided to see if Ellen could use his help. On his way to the kitchen, Dean passed more staff than he’d seen yesterday. He had no idea where they’d all been hiding, but he imagined they’d been told to lay low so Dean wasn’t overwhelmed when he arrived.

They didn’t seem to pay him any mind, which was fine with him. He’d prefer to just keep his head down and not make a fuss. Upon entering the kitchen, Dean was immediately glad he’d decided to come and give the older omega a hand.

Ellen was darting between the stove where several different pots were boiling and the oven where she was obviously trying to keep an eye on rising bread. A pile of carrots and potatoes sat on the prep table half chopped and peeled, and Dean could smell something was close to burning. He quickly found Jo’s old bassinet Ellen had said she’d have Bill, her husband Dean assumed, bring in for Claire. It was nestled safely in the corner closest to the door, under an open window so Claire could get fresh air. He settled the pup into the bed and made his way to the omega.

“Where do you want me?” He asked, startling her. She whipped around and her face immediately brightened.

“Oh Dean, you are a godsend. Could you finished peeling and chopping the carrots and potatoes?” She asked, eyes pleading.

“O’ course,” Dean agreed, dropping into the chair and taking up the knife and vegetables. He set to work as Ellen went about stirring and slicing this and that. Dean could easily do this all day, the mindless work of preparing food. He didn’t have to worry about talking and screwing up his words. He didn’t have to worry about what these new people would think of him, or wether or not they’d want to keep him around. He didn’t have to worry about his hands screwing up such simple tasks. Despite the slight shake in his fingers, he’d done this so many times his hands moved thoughtlessly.

The peace didn’t last long before the back door flew open and Castiel himself came flying in, reeking of nerves and annoyance. Dean shrunk into his chair and Claire began to whine with the shift in the air. Castiel didn’t seem to notice, barely looking around himself. He ducked into the pantry, muttering to himself. He dropped something that shattered and he cursed loudly. This really set Claire off, who began to cry in earnest. Dean dumped the knife and carrot he’d been working on to the table and swooped in to pick her up, bringing her to his neck so she could bury her nose in his soothing scent.

She started to quiet, until Castiel came out of the pantry, hair askew and still muttering. “Alpha,” Ellen said, trying to catch his attention. He paid her no mind, and his scent made Dean bristle. Claire was growing more upset again when Ellen snapped sharply. “Alpha Novak! If you can’t get yourself under control, I’ll be asking you to get out of my kitchen.”

Castiel’s head snapped up, eyes flying between Ellen and Dean as if he’d just realized he wasn’t alone. His scent immediately dampened and he sighed, “I apologise, Ellen, Dean.” He said, voice low, “I’ve just gotten word my parents are visiting. Someone informed them I was bringing in a nanny and they find it to be their duty to assess my newest charge, not that that’s any of their concern.”

Dean paled. Charlie had told him they were very traditional people, so chances were they would be picky about who they wanted to help raise their grandpup. He was sure they wouldn’t approve of him, a slow, dumb omega with shaking hands. He knew this was too good to be true. He should have known it wouldn’t last. He never should have-

“Dean? Breathe, honey,” A warm voice broke through his thoughts. He found himself back in the chair, his hands around his head rather than holding the pup. He quickly looked around to find the pup in her father’s arms, the alpha’s eyes wide and concerned. There was a low whining noise that Dean realized was coming from himself. “You okay there, omega?”

He shook his head slowly, dropping his hands. They shook heavily in his lap and he flushed, wishing he could hide them. “M’ sorry,” He mumbled, mouth dry.

“You’ve nothing to be sorry for, Dean.” Ellen waved him off, kneeling at his side taking his hands in her own. She clasped them tight, stilling them. “Want to tell me what happened?”

No, Dean did not. But he knew he wouldn’t be able to lie his way out of this. “They’ll tell you to send me back,” He said quietly, keeping his eyes on their clasped hands. “They’ll know I’m broken.”

“Zachariah and Naomi Novak seem to believe they have a say in what I do, but I am a grown man.” Castiel spoke up, “I am the Head Alpha of Eden Estate, and what I say goes. The file I received on you showed that you are, in fact, an exemplary omega and caretaker. You have barely been here a day and already have half my staff enamored with you, as is my pup. You’ve already established a scent bond with her, as well. As for you being broken, Dean, I see nothing about you that would make me believe that to be true. You are, by all intents and purposes, a good omega.”

Castiel moved towards Dean, shifting Claire so that he had on arm free, and Ellen moved aside. He reached down and placed a hand near the curve of Dean’s neck. The warmth of his fingers soaked into his skin and Dean felt warm, looking up at the alpha. His blue eyes were soft, and he smiled down at the omega. His thumb moved to rub at Dean’s scent gland, sending a spark down Dean’s spine. “A scent claim should help you quell your fears. You belong here, Dean. You deserve a chance, and I will not let my parents chase you off before they even get here. Alright?”

Dean nodded slowly, not trusting his voice. He bit back another whine when Castiel removed his hand, and returned the alpha’s smile. He had never, not once, in his life been scent claimed. With the rush of warmth that kept cascading from the spot Castiel’s thumb had been, he couldn’t imagine anything sweeter.

---

The impending arrival of the senior Novaks sent the entire house into a spiral of activity over the next week. Rooms that hadn’t seen use in months were cleaned and aired thoroughly. The already perfect lawn and gardens were tended and trimmed, and Ellen had two betas Dean hadn’t met yet helping her in the kitchen the take stock and make sure they had everything they needed to provide the Novaks’ favorite meals while they were there.

Dean kept himself to the den with Claire in her bassinet beside him. Charlie had been true to her word about having everyone pass along anything that needed mended. Dean had already worked through a third of the massive pile, and was grateful for the distraction. Despite Castiel’s assurances earlier in the week, and though he renewed the scent claim at least once a day, Dean was still nervous. Castiel could promise he wouldn’t make Dean leave, but Dean still found himself in desperate need of the senior Novaks’ approval.

It was silly, Dean knew. Their opinion shouldn’t matter. But all he could think about was watching his father’s back as he walked away, driving off with his baby brother. His words bounced around the back of his head. “Dunno what good a broken omega will be to you.” No good at all, Dean surmised.

Moving his needle through the stitches, Dean found himself wondering about his baby brother. Sammy would be sixteen by now. Considering he was never dumped at the institute like Dean had been, he could only assume Sammy had presented as an alpha. Did he remember his big brother? He’d been eight, old enough to remember most things. Did he miss him? Or was he glad he didn’t have to look out for his slow omega brother? Dean shook his head. Thinking wasn’t doing him any good.

He looked to the pup who was wide awake in her bassinet, her fist wagging in the air. Her blue eyes were trained on its movements, having no idea the fist was her own. Dean set down the trousers he’d been working on and shuffled over the pup, “You’re a sweetheart,” He said softly, reaching down to waggle a finger against her stomach. It earned him a hiccuped laugh, and he did it again, “How lucky am I? To get to take care of such a sweet little pup.”

He lifted her into his arms, easing back into the couch. Without much thought, he found himself softly singing a song he remembered his mother singing to him when he was little. Claire certainly seemed like it as the soft vibrations in his chest lulled her to sleep.

Dean was nearly asleep himself when Charlie found him, quietly closing the door behind her. “How’s it going?” She asked quietly, joining him on the couch.

He shrugged as much as he could without jostling the pup too much. “Shouldn’t you be getting ready for the big arrival?” Dean raised a brow at the beta.

Charlie made a face, “It’s a madhouse out there and I’m exhausted. Besides, I’m sure you could use some company outside of the pup. You two look awfully cozy.” She smiled, brushing her fingers over the pup’s soft curls. “We haven’t had much of a chance to talk. I wanna be your buddy, so we need to get to know each other.”

Dean chuckled at her blunt attitude, but he appreciated the gesture. He was happy to take any friendship he could get. “I’m game,” he agreed.

“Well, let me tell you a bit about myself.” She said, settling further into the cushions. “I grew up on the streets, mostly. Lost my parents when I was young. I did a lot of odd jobs here and there until Alpha Novak moved into the estate. He was about your age at the time, and he sent away the entire staff his parents sent him with. Decided he wanted to offer the positions to the folks around here, since there wasn’t a lot of work available at the time. He found me working a little shoe shine stand of all things. Offered me a housekeeping position and I accepted. Through the years I’ve wormed my way up and now I’m the Household Manager. Basically i get to tell everyone what to do.” She grinned, waggling her eyebrows, “And I love it.”

Charlie seemed smug to earn a laugh from Dean. He couldn’t imagine growing up on the streets with no one to help him. He’d never really realized before just how lucky he had been growing up. Sure he’d lost his mother, but his father had still technically been there for him. He made sure his boys were fed and clothed, with a roof over their heads. And even when he sent him away when he presented, at least he’d found him a good home.

“So, what about you?” Charlie asked, nudging his arm.

“Ain't’ much to tell,” Dean admitted. “Lost my mom to a river when I was seven. Dad had crashed our wagon in the water and I hit my head. It’s why I am the way I am. Took me a long time to get to where I am now. I have a little brother. Sammy. He helped me as much as a little boy could. When I presented, my dad shipped me off to the Omega Institute. That’s pretty much all that led up to you choosing me.” Dean shrugged.

Charlie hmm’d, eyeing Dean closely. “Did you get to keep in touch with your brother?”

Dean shook his head. “Tried, Kevin, another omega at the institute, helped me write letters. Never got anything back, though.”

“Kevin?” Charlie perked up, “Is he a little asian boy?”

Dean sat up quickly. Could it be possible that Charlie knew Kevin? He nodded quickly and Charlie clapped her hands in excitement, “He went to the Miltons! Michael Milton is Alpha Novak’s cousin. They live about an hour from here! I’ll mention to Alpha that we should arrange a visit. I’m sure you’d love to see a familiar face, huh?”

“That would be awesome!” Dean agreed, moving to hug the beta, the pup snug between them. “Thanks, Charlie.”

“Think nothing of it, captain.” Charlie smiled. “I’ll make it happen as soon as we get this horrible visit out of the way first.”

Chapter Text

The day the senior Novaks were due to arrive, everyone was sure to avoid the main hall. Not so much to save themselves from the Novaks, but more so to avoid the pacing, muttering mess that was Alpha Novak. Dean didn’t understand why this visit had Castiel so unraveled, but he was beginning to get second hand anxiety just watching Castiel wearing a hole in the orante rugs, even from the den.

“Alpha?” Dean called, making his way to the hall. He couldn’t sit still any longer, and figured he could at least try to calm the poor man down.

Castiel didn’t stop his pacing though he did glance back at Dean as he came around the corner. “I thought I told you to call me Castiel,” He said, though his tone was kind.

Dean lightely bounced the sleeping pup in his arms, keeping his head down. “Castee-castel….Cas...” He worked his tongue quietly, trying to weave his voice through the different inflections. “Your names kind of a mouth full, Alpha.” He finally admitted, every inch of his face burning.

Castiel came to a halt in front of him and placed a heavy hand on the omega’s shoulder. “I think Cas would suffice, if you find it easier.” He moved his hand up the curve of Dean’s shoulder and Dean hoped the man didn’t notice the goosebumps that arose. The alpha rubbed his thumb against his scent gland once more and Dean sighed. Was it normal, Dean wondered, to have to renew a scent marking everyday? In reality it seemed a bit excessive, but he definitely wasn’t complaining.

Over the past week, Dean could admit to himself that he’d developed an infatuation with the handsome alpha. Not just for the fact that we was one of, if not the, best looking men Dean had ever laid eyes on, but because he was also the kindest. Castiel radiated compassion and warmth, and though you could see the grief he still held over the loss of his omega wife, he didn’t dwell in his sadness. Despite having so few conversations with the man, Dean could also tell that the man was brilliant. Smarter than Dean could ever hope to be, that was for sure.

“Cas.” Dean said firmly, smiling up at the man. “Hold your pup. No one can stay antsy when they have a sleeping pup in their arms.” He thrust Claire forward into Castiel’s arms before he could object.

Cas took the pup in stride, adjusting her so he could scent at her curls. He broke out into a smile, a wide and gummy thing that Dean had yet to see from the man. Dean’s heart melted as the alpha’s scent filled with warmth for the pup. “Better?” He asked the older man.

“Much. Thank you, Dean.” Cas moved around Dean, their shoulders brushing, and took a seat on the bench against the wall. He motioned for Dean to join him, so the omega did. “I apologise for being so...frenzied, as of late. My parents drive me absolutely insane.”

“Why?” Dean asked, burying his hands between his knees. He was always most nervous around Castiel, which meant his hands shook more visibly. He knew Cas didn’t care, but it was still hard for Dean to get past his embarrassment.

Cas sighed, a long suffering sound. “I’m the youngest of six children. Three brothers and two sisters. Every single one of them were alphas. Growing up surrounded by 5 hard headed and competitive alpha siblings was difficult enough, but our parents often pitted us against one another. They were obsessed with making us be the best alpha we could be, so we were all constantly clamoring for the spotlight. By the time I was fourteen, I’d decided I had enough.” He paused, shuffling Claire to his other shoulder. He let his head fall back, closing his eyes. “I liked to read, and sit in the fields amongst the flowers. Far from typical alpha behavior, which sent my parents into a tizzy, obviously.

“They began to focus on me, flaunting many omegas past me, hoping it would somehow trigger my inner alpha. This, in turn, made most of my sibling resent me for stealing our parents attention. By the time I was eighteen, they were at their wits end. They decided the best thing they could do was find me a wife and send me away. They arranged my marriage to the daughter of a family friend. That was Amelia, of course.” He had a small smile, his eyes still closed. His voice was soft now, speaking of his late wife, and Dean couldn’t help but feel a bit jealous of his affection for the woman. It was shameful, Dean knew, to be jealous of a dead woman, so he squashed that feeling down as quickly as he could.

“They rarely visited, but when they did, the visits were purely excuses to come and judge my decisions. One of their biggest arguments was about Amelia and I having pups. We felt no rush and I wanted to focus on cementing my position here at Eden Estates. When we finally agreed it was time, my parents were ecstatic. Now that Amelia is gone, I can only guess what my parents will want from me now.”

Dean reached over and patted the alpha’s knee, “Well you won’t have to deal with them alone. Your staff is here for you, and the pup,” He pulled his hand back when he realized he had gotten a bit too familiar. “Me too, if I can be any help.”

Cas grabbed Dean’s retreating hand and squeezed, “Dean, you are already more help than you know. Thank you.”

They sat in silence on the bench for a while longer, though Cas had long since released Dean’s hand. His scent had long since callmed, thankfully. This was the longest Dean had been alone with the man. Any other time he saw him, it was usually when Cas had come to renew his sent mark, which he did quickly and efficiently before rushing back to whatever he need to do. This, sitting here in comfortable silence, was nice.

Claire interrupt the silence with a sharp cry, struggling against the blankets surrounding her. “Sounds like a hungry cry,” Dean quipped, reaching for the pup. Cas passed her off easily, fingers brushing Dean’s. “I’ll take her to the den.”

Castiel nodded slowly, looking oddly disappointed. Dean put his hand on the alpha’s shoulder, giving it a small squeeze. “We’re all here for you, Cas.”

The alpha smiled up at him as Dean turned away, shuffling back to the den. Claire was full on crying, her little face scrunched and red. “Shush, little pup.” Dean said softly, working his shirt open, “Your milk is coming.”

He dropped onto the couch, pushing his shirt off his shoulder and putting the pup’s mouth to his breast. She whimpered and whined as she suckled and Dean ran his fingers alonger her curls until she quieted. “Your daddy is awfully nervous about your grandparents visiting,” He said softly, “He shouldn’t worry so much, though. His parents will take one look at you and fall so in love they’ll forget everything they came to complain about.”

---

It was hours later that Charlie came to collect Dean, with Jo on her heels. “Jo will be staying with Claire for now,” Charlie explained, leading Dean upstairs to his room. “I need to get you changed for dinner. Alpha Novak hoped that with the distraction of food, his parents might go easy on you. Even so, it would be best that you don’t wear your trousers while they’re here. Rowena’s assistant dropped off a few appropriate dresses this morning, so you’ll have something nice to wear.”

She pulled a deep, jade colored chiffon gown with the fullest skirts Dean had ever seen. Pulling it on, the neckline stopped just below his chin and he couldn’t help but grimace under the constriction. He knew it was much more proper for omegas necks to be fully covered, so as to not tempt any alphas with a bare unclaimed neck, but living in the institute, Missouri had never enforced such a rule. Afterall, there were never any alphas around to tempt.

Charlie hummed in sympathy for Dean’s discomfort, “They shouldn’t stay for longer than a week,” She said, “They usually don’t.”

Dean nodded, rubbing his sweaty hands on his skirts. He needed to get his nerves under control if he was going to make a good impression. He could already feel his throat tightening, his tongue heavy and dry. At least he’d be able to hide his shaking hands under the table for the most part.

“Ready?” Charlie offered her arm to Dean. They made their way back downstairs, weaving through the halls until they came to the doors to the larger, formal dining room Charlie had shown him on his first day. She turned to him, “Now, just remember that to them, omegas are seen and not heard. Don’t say anything unless you’re spoken to, and keep your head down. Alpha Novak doesn’t want you to act that way, but this is one of the few times that it would be easier to disregard him for the sake of saving arguments. Alright?”

Dean nodded, already pulling himself into the proper omega posture. He dipped his head and told Charlie he was ready. She swung the door open and led him in. Castiel, who was seated at the end of the table, was the only one to stand for his entrance, pulling out a chair next to a young woman Dean wasn’t expecting. She was thin with soft red hair and dull mossy eyes that stared down at her empty plate. She smelled faintly of daisies and grass, with a blanket of sweetness that indicated she was an omega.

As Dean sat in the offered chair, Castiel returned to his own seat. “Mother, Father, this is Dean Winchester, Claire’s nanny.” Dean flicked his eyes up briefly to look at the older couple across from him. Zachariah was a tall, plump man with a balding head and an angular nose. His eyes were dark, almost beady as he looked at Dean with disinterest. Naomi sat with her back ramrod straight, her mouth puckered and grey eyes narrowed. Her brown hair was pulled into a bun so tight, Dean wondered if it hurt. “And this is their charge, Daphne.”

“He’s rather large for an omega,” Naomi said in lieu of greeting. “And older than I would have expected. They didn’t have anyone a bit more appropriate?”

Castiel sighed as Meg brought out a large tray and began serving them with a soup she announced to be shrimp and lobster bisque. “Dean is twenty, hardly an old maid. And as for his size, I hardly understand what that has to do with his capability as a nanny. He came with a glowing recommendation from the Institute’s headmistress herself, and has already proven he is wonderful with Claire.”

“I’ve never cared for bringing those random omegas into our own homes.” Zachariah piped up, “You don’t know what kind of background they come from. You should have let us find you someone, like Daphne here. She comes from a wonderful family. You know Inias Ephraim? Daphne is his youngest daughter.”

Naomi leaned forward, “What kind of family did you come from, Dean?”

Dean swallowed, keeping his eyes down. “I was at the institute since I was twelve, but before that it was just me, a younger brother, and my father. He is an alpha.”

“Why are you mumbling?” Naomi said sharply, “That’s very rude. You need to speak clearly when asked a question.”

Dean flushed and Castiel dropped his spoon with a loud clatter. “Mother, he can’t help it. It doesn’t help that you two are making him so nervous, either.”

“What do you mean he can’t help it? Does the boy not know how to speak?” Zachariah chuckled, “Did you really get a stupid omega to care for our grandpup?”

Dean knew his scent was radiating shame, and he did his best to reel it in before he further embarrassed himself. He knew this would happen, but it didn’t make it any less hurtful.

“He is far from stupid,” Castiel’s voice was loud and cold, “He was in an accident as a child, if you must know. He has faced hardships overcoming his injury, but he is perfectly fine. He is smart, and kind, and everything we could hope for in a nanny for Claire.”

“Oh, Castiel.” Naomi tutted. “You’ve always been too soft when it came to the less fortunate. I’m sure he’s perfectly passable, but I really think Daphne here would be a much better fit. I know it has only been a few months since you lost Amelia, but I think if you allowed Daphne to stay, you two could bond. She can offer you a future that this overgrown omega cannot.”

Dean snuck a look at Daphne, who was still quietly eating, her face completely impassive. She was obviously completely unaffected by the conversation. “Mother, I’m sure Daphne is a very nice girl, but I am in no position to even consider remarrying right now, if ever. I have everything that I need already and I’d thank you to accept my decision.”

“At least let Daphne replace Dean as Claire’s nanny.” Zachariah said, downing the wine in his glass. “We’ll be much more willing to stop interfering if we at least knew our grandpup was in good hands. I’m sure Dean was fine enough at whatever institute you plucked him from, but Daphne is by far the superior choice. She’ll be able to teach Claire propriety, and she doesn’t have any…” His beady eyes roamed Dean’s face, “Developmental delays.”

There was a long silence and Dean dared to look over at Castiel. His face was stony and his eyes were closed, his scent heavy and thick around them. Finally he opened his eyes, the edges Alpha red with anger. “Dean,” he said calmly, though his voice still sent a shiver down Dean’s spine. “Please return to your room. I need to have a private discussion with my parents.”

Dean realized Castiel had let his Alpha voice leak through his order, as his own omega was quick to comply. He was on his feet and out the door before he even noticed. He suddenly felt too warm, his dress too tight, and he wanted nothing more than to get undressed and into a cool bath. He was halfway up the stairs when he ran into Charlie who wrinkled her nose at his scent.

“Well this is great timing,” She muttered, grabbing his elbow and dragging him down the hall to his bedroom, “Your going into heat!”

Chapter Text

The first day of Dean’s heat was always the worst. Usually, Dean could feeling it coming at least a week in advance, so he had time to prepare. This time, though, he was thrown in headfirst. The fever was first, leaving him delirious. He couldn't think straight, the only thing running through his head was ‘too hot, too hot, it's too much’. At the institute, the omegas would take care of each other through this part, so he was grateful that Charlie took up the task this time around.

She had helped him undress and dumped him into his bed, wrapping him in his thinnest blanket. The last thing Dean could remember was Charlie saying she’d be right back, before he succumbed to a feverish haze. His whole body ached, and he wanted nothing more than to sleep. He could feel slick pooling beneath him, but the real need to be filled never really bothered him the first day. Without warning, something cool was placed across his forehead and he jumped, looking around. “Alpha?” He mumbled.

“Sorry! Just me.” Charlie apologised, “You must be really out of it.”

Dean only let out a low whimper, pushing himself further into the bed. Charlie replaced the cool cloth several times through the night, running a hand through his hair and whispering soothing words to her friend.

By morning the fever had only seemed to get worse. His sheets were soaked with slick and sweat, and the need to be filled had finally become unbearable. Charlie had managed to find his fake knot in his bag and shoved it into Dean’s shaking hands before making herself scarce.

Dean spent no time preparing himself before he flipped over, settling on his knees, and shoved the knot deep into his aching hole. He whimpered, a high keening noise, and dropped his forehead to the bed. No matter how much he squirmed and shoved at the knot, it just wasn’t enough. He wasn’t full enough and the omega in him panted for an alpha he did not have.

“Alpha,” Dean muttered, “Need you, Alpha.”

Dean pushed and pulled at the knot, moving his free hand to jerk at his cock, thumbing incessantly over the head’s slit until he was hit with a blinding orgasm. It satiated his heat enough that he could fall forward and let himself sleep for before the next wave of need would hit.

Charlie would continue to come in and try to ease his fever with cool cloths and was sure to make him drink at least one full glass of water every few hours. She was kind enough not to mention the toy Dean left lodged in his hole, though Dean was beyond caring by day three. His heats had never lasted any longer than three days in the past, and would usually be nothing but a mild fever by this point. This one, though, showed no sign of slowing down.

Charlie was changing Dean's bedding as he lay in a tub of tepid water, dozing off. “Of course he'd have a difficult heat,” the beta was muttering to herself. “Don’t know what Alpha Novak was thinking, scent marking you every day, then using his alpha voice on you.” She gave the sheets a sharp shake, “the poor guy has spent his whole presented life away from alphas, of course he'd get thrown so out of whack. Dumb alphas.”

Dean chuckled at her ranting, “‘M fine,” he mumbled, unsure if Charlie would even understand him. His tongue felt foreign in his dry mouth. “Not Cas’ fault.”

“Oh you would defend him,” Charlie said, though she turned to him with a smirk. “You like him, huh?”

Dean flushed and dipped his head under the water to give himself a moment before he had to answer. He wiped a hand over his face before peaking over at Charlie who was now perched on the stool next to the tub. “He's a good guy, everyone likes him.”

“That's not what I mean and you know it, Dean Winchester.” Charlie swatted at him, “You like, like him. You totally want his knot. Don’t think I haven't heard you whining for your alpha.”

Dean spluttered, “What? You're crazy, Charlie. He's basically my boss! I don't want his knot. It's just the heat talkin’.”

Charlie didn't look convinced but she shrugged anyway. “If you say so. Ready to get back into bed?”

Dean nodded, thankful to drop the subject. Charlie made quick work of patting him down with a plush towel before allowing him to fall back into bed. He was beyond exhausted, having gotten no real sleep in days. He also hadn't eaten anything beyond a few bites of the shrimp and lobster bisque the first night, but he knew his stomach wouldn't handle anything substantial until his heat was well and truly over.

After two more days of grinding into his mattress and fucking himself with a too-small knot, Dean's heat finally broke. Ellen sent up a hearty bowl of oatmeal thickly coated with sweet honey and different colored berries. Dean greedily ate every bite, feeling a bit nauseous after doing so.

“Who's been watching Claire?” Dean asked Charlie as she was taking his tray.

“Jo for the most part, but the Novaks convinced Alpha Novak to allow Daphne to help out as well.” Charlie grimaced, “I'm sure they hoped it would make him think Daphne is a better nanny, but I'm happy to say that it backfired on them. Epically.”

Dean cocked and eyebrow at the beta, a slow smile pulling at his lips. “How so?”

“That woman should never be allowed around pups again.” Charlie laughed, “She refused to change the pup's poopy diapers, threw a hissy fit when Claire spit up on her, and only held her a good foot away from her body after that. I mean, it's unfair to assume every omega is naturally good with pups, but that woman doesn't have a single maternal bone in her body.”

Dean shook his head, shoulders shaking with laughter. “My poor pup, I should really go make it up to her.”

“As long as you promise to take it easy,” Charlie ordered. “You're still tired, and you'll need to bring her to Ellen when she wants to feed until you get more food in your system.”

“Yes ma’am.” Dean smirked, slipping out of his bed. Charlie helped him into one of the ‘proper’ dresses Rowena had sent, in case they ran into the elder Novaks, and led him to the den.

Daphne sat with her back rigid in the rocker. Claire was in her arms, though Charlie hadn't been joking about how far the omega held the pup from her body. Daphne was looking at Claire with what Dean almost suspected was fear. He could barely hold back a chuckle at the sight. “I can take over pup duty now,” Dean offered, holding out his hands.

“Oh thank god,” Daphne sighed, thrusting the pup at Dean. “I never asked for this. I told father I'd agree to marry whoever he deemed good enough. When he mentioned Castiel, I was ecstatic. He comes from an established family, has one of the biggest estates this side of the country, and he's generally well-liked by everyone my father knows. I thought I'd hit the jackpot! But father never said anything about pups. My stomach is far too sensitive for all their...smells.”

Dean chuckled, relieved at Daphne's disinterest. He’d have to forgive her materialistic viewpoint as just being the way she was raised. At least he didn't have to worry about her wanting to replace him, even if the elder Novaks still did. “Pups aren't for everyone, I suppose.”

“Definitely not.” Daphne agreed, moving aside so Dean could take her place in the rocker. She watched Dean for a moment as he adjusted the pup, letting her scent at his neck. “You're certainly good with her, though.”

Dean smiled down at the pup as she cooed and smacked at his chin, “I helped raise my younger brother, so I've had practice. I'm sure you could be good with them as well, if you spent more time with them.”

“Not interested,” Daphne waved her hand, “Your job is certainly safe for now. If I'd known the alpha had a pup I never would have agreed. I'm sorry if I made things difficult for you.”

Dean was glad he has misjudged the woman before. He figured seeing her now, how open she was being, her behavior before was purely for the elder Novaks’ sake. “You don’t need to apologize, but I appreciate it anyway.”

Daphne gave him a short smile before leaving the room. Holding the small pup again after so long put Dean at ease. He hadn't realized before just how attached he had grown to the young girl until now, looking down at her bright blue eyes as she watched him. He'd missed her soft scent and the little noises she made.

“I hope they took good care of you while I was away,” he whispered to the girl, “but I'm glad to be back now, Claire bear.”

Claire kicked her legs wildly and gave him a gummy smile. “You missed me too, huh?” Dean said, wagging his fingers against her tummy to earn a squeal from the pup. “I think you did!”

“I'd have to agree with you,” A deep voice said from the doorway. Dean startled, jerking up to find Castiel watching him tickling the pup. “Sorry to startle you. Charlie said you were feeling better, but I thought I'd check for myself. How are you?”

“Tired,” Dean admitted, “but I'm fine now. Happy to be out of my room.”

Cas moved slowly toward him, stopping to perch on the corner of the couch closest to him. “I wanted to apologize. First, for my parents behavior. After you left, I made it clear to them that their actions would no longer be tolerated, and if they couldn't respect me and my staff they would no longer be welcome in my home.”

“You didn’t have to do that, Cas.” Dean said, though his chest warmed at Castiel’s kindness. “They didn’t say anything I haven't heard before.”

“Even so, no one should be saying such things to you. Not a word of it is true. But I also wanted to apologize for my thoughtlessness.” Cas said, looking sheepish.

“What are you talking about?”

Cas sighed, “Charlie gave me quite the earful while you were indisposed. She pointed out that I had made things difficult for you, with excessive scent marking and then using my Alpha voice on you...I truly wasn't thinking, and I'm very sorry.”

Dean shook his head, “No, Cas, you don't need to apologize for all that. Like you said before, the scent marking was helping me feel more at ease about my place here. It really was helping. And you were angry that night, it isn't your fault your Alpha came out.”

“I should always be in control of my Alpha, no matter the circumstances, but thank you for not holding anything against me.” Cas reached out, squeezing Dean's arm. “For the record, I'm very happy to have you here. You are a wonderful addition to this family, and I couldn't imagine trusting my pup with anyone else.”

Dean blushed and ducked his head, “Well, I'm happy you gave me this chance. Thank you, Alpha.”

Cas let his hand linger on Dean's arm a moment longer before letting go. He stood, running a hand through his already messy hair. It stood up at different angles. On anyone else, it would look ridiculous, but with Castiel it only added to his charm. “Well, if you'll excuse me, I have some parents to try and chase off.” He smiled and strode across the room, stopping long enough to give Dean and his pup one last look before disappearing behind the door.

Chapter Text

The Novaks stuck around for a few more days before Castiel was finally able convince them to leave. Halfway out the door they made one last attempt to persuade Cas to allow Daphne to stay. Surprisingly Daphne herself was the one to put a stop to it.

“Mr and Mrs. Novak, I fully appreciate what you've tried to do for my father and I, but I have absolutely no desire to remain here. I would appreciate it if we could get on with our trip home.” She said, arms crossed and scent hefty with a stubborn tang.

Dean expected the couple to he furious at the young omega for speaking out against them, but instead they readily apologised for putting her in such a position. Dean figured it was all about social status. Since Daphne came from an established family, whom the Novaks were close to, she could get away with a whole lot more than Dean could ever dream to.

With their last argument brushed off and one last look of pure disdain thrown at Dean, they were barely out the door before Castiel was closing it behind them. He fell back against the wood with a loud thud, sighing.

“Oh that wasn't so bad,” Dean said cheerily, “I dare say it could have been worse!”

Castiel tilted his head, half smiling at the omega. “You really are something, Dean.”

Dean wasn't so sure what that was supposed to mean, but before he could ask Cas was already disappearing down the hall.

It was a fairly nice day, so Dean decided he'd take advantage of it and treat Claire to a long walk. The first thing he did was return to his room and change into his trousers, wondering how he had ever given them up so many years ago. Ellen had found him Jo's old sling made of a soft lavender cotton, so he'd at least have his hands free for the trek. He grabbed that was well, making quick work of placing Claire inside. She was snuggled closely to his chest, but he was still able to see her face easily, her big blue eyes sparkling up at him.

Returning back downstairs, he headed for the kitchen to let Ellen know where he was off to in case anyone went looking for him. “Take an apple with you in case you get hungry,” she ordered, pointing over her shoulder at the fruitbowl on the prep table. Dean indulged her, shoving a ripe green apple in his trousers pocket. With a quick peck to the older omegas cheek, he ducked out the back door.

Dean liked Ellen. She treated him like one of her own, and in turn she was the mother he so long ago lost. He didn't remember much of Mary. Just the faint whispers of the melody she sang him to sleep with, and the soft caress of her fingers through his hair. Her long blond curls and soft green eyes. He missed her scent, too. Honeysuckle and sweet peas.

There was a large garden just behind the manor, though walking through it he was sad to see it was sorely lacking in either of his mother's flowers. It was lovely all the same, filled with more flowers and shrubbery than Dean could ever name. There was a short dark skinned man clipping away at some of the plants that Dean stopped to introduce himself to. The man explained that he was Joshua, and that he was the head gardner, and Dean was free to pluck anything he wanted for the house.

Dean thanked the man but decided against it for now, since he had only just begun his walk, but he imagined he'd return another time. It would be nice to add life to some of the rooms. Castiel's staff were wonderful with the upkeep the manor required, but Dean new from previous exploration that nearly two-thirds of the rooms rarely saw any real use. He often wondered why wealthy people felt it so necessary to have such unnecessarily large homes.

Dean still wanted to meet more of the staff and learn all he could about Castiel’s estate. He’d met most of the people who worked indoors, but there weren't all that many. He figured most of them worked in the outer buildings, such as the laundry house, a stable, and several barns dotted across the fields. He hadn't had the chance to do any outdoor exploring in the weeks that he had been there, and he wasn't sure he wanted to drag Claire outside too often, so he was going to make the most of the day’s good weather.

He followed a trail down to what looked to be the stables. It was a long and wide wooden structure with heaps of hay piled around the open doors. There was a large fenced in enclosure next to it where a chocolate colored colt was prancing around its mother. Dean stopped at the fence and the colt trotted over, too young to know caution. The mother whinied and stomped at the ground but made no real move to stop her child.

The colt dipped its head down and nosed at the bundled pup on Dean's chest, nipping at the blankets with its large teeth. “Now, now.” Dean said softly, nudging the colt’s nose away from Claire. “Best not try to eat my little Claire bear. Don't think her Daddy would appreciate me bringing her back with missing fingers.”

The colt, bored of his visitors already, huffed and pranced back to his mother. “He's a few weeks old,” A gruff voice said behind Dean. He turned sharply but calmed as soon as he recognized Bobby, the man who had driven the coach when he was brought here. “He don’t have a name yet. I ain't too good at namin’ things, and Novak's been too occupied with everything else to do it himself. You got any ideas, boy?”

Dean looked back at the colt, thinking. His knobby legs and brown hair hanging in his eyes made Dean's chest ache with a familiar fondness, and he was answering without realizing it. “Sammy.” He would probably never see his baby brother again anyway, so the poor kid didn't have to know his namesake was a horse, Dean supposed.

Bobby raised a brow but didn't question it. “Sammy it is.”

The old man moved to brace himself against the stable's wall, eyeing Dean. “How you likin’ it here? Everybody treatin’ you good?”

Dean nodded quickly, “Everyone's been awesome, save for our recent visitors. But I've enjoyed it here so far. Love watchin’ out for the pup.”

“Them Novaks are assholes, son.” Bobby said bluntly, startling a sputtered chuckle from Dean. “Don't pay them no mind. Castiel been good to ya?”

“Yeah, he’s been…He's been very welcoming.” Dean smiled.

“Good. If anybody gives you any trouble, you find me.” Bobby ordered, “You seem like a good boy.”

“Thanks, Bobby.” Dean said warmly. He found it almost hard to believe how easily these people seemed to not only accept him into their lives, but considered him someone to take care off. Taking the job, the most he hoped for was a decent employer and a sweet pup to spend the days with. Instead, he had gotten so much more. Dean had gotten a family he had given up wishing for years ago.

Dean turned and continued down the path before the old beta could notice the wetness of his eyes. Dean was never much of a crier, but he'd be damned if he didn't admit how much everyone's friendliness touched him.

The omega stopped at a stone bench that was nestled under a tall oak tree after a while of walking. Claire was beginning to wiggle and fuss, so Dean figured now was as good a time as any to feed her. He pulled his apple out of his pocket before he settled the pup on his breast and leaned back against the cool stone, looking around as he bit into the apple.

In front of him was mostly open fields. Far off he could spot the little dots grazing a hill that were probably cows. A little closer, on a flatter plaine of grass, Dean could see what looked like short white boxes. Someone was moving through the rows, inspecting the boxes. Dean wondered if this was the apiary Jo had mentioned before. The man was completely unprotected, wearing just a simple collared button up and trousers, his gray hair pulled back in a knot. Dean wondered how he was able to work around bees without getting stung, or if it just didn't bother him. He made a mental note to ask Cas about it the next time he saw the man.

Claire finished up just as Dean did and Dean realized the poor girl was definitely due for a changing, so he made quick work of fixing his shirt and trudging back to the house.

Charlie found him just as he was finishing up Claire's diapering, grinning like the cat who caught a canary.

“What's got you so happy, red?” Dean asked.

“How do you feel about paying the Milton's a visit next week?” She asked, dropping down onto the floor next to him. “They've been trying to get Alpha Novak to visit with the pup for a while, and having you here now makes it an even better excuse to take them up on their invitation. Already got Alpha to agree and everything.” She said, fairly smug with her accomplishment.

“That'd be awesome!” Dean crowed, “You work fast, Charlie. The Novaks only left this morning.”

Charlie merely shrugged, reaching over to tickle at the babbling pup that was wiggling on the floor between them. “I have my ways. Someday, young Dean, I shall teach you a few of my tricks.”

Dean cocked a brow at the girl but didn't bother pointing out that she was only a few years older than himself. They watched the pup together a while longer as Dean told Charlie about his walk and naming the new colt, and Charlie gossiped about a pretty blond maid that she was currently trying to woo and who she suspected was sleeping with whom. Dean didn't know half the people she named off, but it didn’t really matter.

Dean had never felt so at home, sitting on a floor with the pup he had easily come to love as his own and the beta he was more than happy to call his closest friend. When he and Charlie got to witness Claire work and grunt her way from her back to her tummy all on her own for the first time, he was all the happier for it. And if Dean teared up out of pride for the little girl, well, that was okay too.

Chapter Text

The Mitons home was nestled in the outskirts of Lawrence. With Michael Milton being Castiel's cousin, Dean had an expected to arrive at yet another large estate, but the manor the coach stopped in front of was barely any bigger than the institute had been. It was a beautiful place all the same, with the pristine white bricks that made up the home and lush gardens surrounding the path to wide glass doors.

A tall, willowy redhead was the nine to greet them at the door, ushering them inside. “Anna, good to see you.” Castiel said warmly, “I hope my cousin has been treating you well.”

“Of course he has,” the woman, Anna, replied. She led them through clean white halls to a sitting room that was equally immaculate as everything else about the home that Dean had seen. “I’d hoped my husband could be here for your visit as well, but he has business to tend to. He has been much busier as of late preparing for the fall traders. Kevin has been an absolute godsend to have around. I was pleased to hear your new nanny was a good friend of his.” She looked appraisingly at Dean

Castiel motioned for Dean to sit with the pup in one of the ivory armchairs. Castiel took a seat on the sofa on one side of Dean and Anna took up the armchair opposite of him. Anna and Castiel were eyeing each other silently, the air tense and Dean squirmed.

Castiel finally sighed, clasping his hands in his lap. “I apologize for not coming sooner.” He said quietly, “Its been difficult, these last few months. Since Amelia-”

“Yes, Castiel, I know.” Anna said, sharper than Dean was expecting. “I know fully well how difficult it was to lose Amelia. She was my best friend too. I've been left to grieve her passing alone, since you turned me away when I tried to come to you.”

Dean had never felt so awkward in his life, being forgotten in the midst of this sudden argument. The air was so electric with tension and anger, Dean was surprised Claire was still sleeping soundly in his arms. He was far from unaffected himself.

“I didn't want you coming just to say I told you so, Anna.” Castiel said lowly, “I'm surprised you haven't said so yet!”

Anna gaped in disbelief, “What, you think I blame you for what happened?”

“Of course! Amelia was always desperate to please me. You were the one that came to me and told me she didn't want to have pups. Told me I shouldn't push her for them.”

Dean eyed the door, wondering if he could get his shaking legs to work long enough to make a quick exit. He wasn't so sure he could.

“Amelia was a grown woman, Castiel.” Anna hissed, “She may have told me she didn't want pups, but you didnt force her into anything. She knew your parents were never going to drop the issue, and she knew you wanted nothing more than to be a father. She chose to give you that little girl because you were her best friend and she would have done anything for you. She gave her life out of love, do not belittle her decisions by saying you gave her no choice.”

The alpha had never looked so small, sitting in the massive sofa with his head down and shoulders hunched. The air had turned so thick with regret and sorrow, tears had formed in Dean's own eyes.

“You're right,” Cas said quietly, still looking at his hands, “I couldn't help but blame myself, but you're right. That's not fair to Amelia. I'm sorry.”

Anna moved swiftly to the other couch, dropping down to clasp Castiel's hands in her own. “You don’t need to apologize to me. Just let me in. Let yourself mourn for our friend, but stop pulling away. We've all missed you, Castiel.”

Claire chose that moment to squawk and squirm in Dean's hold and he glanced from her to the alpha with wide eyes, feeling as if he'd been caught eavesdropping.

“Oh, Dean, I'm so sorry you had to hear all this.” Castiel said quickly, pulling himself together.

Anna stood and gave him a tight smile. “Come with me, Dean. I think Kevin is watching the children on the back lawn.”

Dean threw a small smile at the alpha and scrambled to his feet, shuffling after the other omega. She didnt speak a word to him as she led him through a few more halls and out yet another glass door.

Dean spotted his old friend a few yards away sitting on a plush blanket, a large book in his lap as three children romped around a few feet away. He waved Anna off with a quick thanks before hurrying across the stretch of grass.

Kevin, hearing his arrival, jumped to his feet, letting his book fall the the blanket with a soft thunkand threw his arms around the larger omega, careful not to squish the pup between them.

“Dean! I thought I'd never get to see you again. I was so pleased to hear from Anna that you were working for her husband's family. I knew you'd find a home eventually!” He was grinning wildly, hands grasping Dean's arms. “Sit! Tell me how things have been for you! Do you only have to watch the one pup?”

“Missed you too, buddy.” Dean grinned dropping to the blanket with Kevin. He settled Claire on her back, shaking her teether toy over her grabby hands. “I got so lucky at Castiel's estate. Everyone there is so welcoming and friendly. I've made a good friend out of Castiel's assistant, Charlie. She's somethin’ else, I think you'd like her. The cook, Ellen, is an omega too. She treats me like her own son. And Claire is the easiest baby, I just adore her.”

Dean realized while talking to Kevin that this was the easiest his words had come in months. He had always found it easiest to talk to the smaller omega, because he never had to worry about any judgement about the way it came out. There had been few others he really talked to at the institute after Kevin had left, and he'd been growing more and more comfortable with people like Ellen and Charlie, but he still found himself focusing too much on working his tongue and drawing out his words.

Kevin’s smile grew and he threw an arm over Dean shoulder, yanking him into a sideways hug. “I'm so happy for you, Dean. I always hoped someone would see just how great you are.”

Dean flushed, blowing a raspberry at Kevin's compliment. “What about you? Seems like you got pretty lucky, too.”

“I'm happy here, sure. The kids are wild. Hael, Rachel, and Lucifer,” Kevin named each child off, pointing them out in turn.

Dean cocked a brow at him, “They named their son Lucifer?”

“Oh, he lives up to the name, believe me,” Kevin smirked. “Anna says Michael wanted to carry on the family tradition of using angels’ names.”

Dean hummed in understanding though he couldn't imagine ever thinking Lucifer would be a good name for a child, even if he had once been an angel.

“They're major perfectionists, so it can be hard to keep the kids as neat and tidy as they'd like. And Michael has been away a lot. He's a good guy, but he's not exactly the friendliest. Anna is great though. I'm just so glad she and Castiel are good friends. That mean we'll get to visit each other now!”

Dean agreed, almost excited to have Kevin over to his new home. He was looking forward to show off something that was really his.

The day drew on as Dean and Kevin lounged on the blanket trading stories about their homes and families. The children had long since joined them on the blanket, cooing over the new pup and eating sandwiches out of a basket Kevin had packed for them. Kevin had to scold Lucifer for trying to slip a frog in Hael's collar, and again shortly after for fibbing to Rachel about seeing a bug in the girls hair, sending her off, squealing as she shook her head wildly.

The fireflies were just beginning to appear across the lawn when Castiel popped his head out the back door, beckoning a Dean to come inside.

Dean said his farewells to his friend, and Kevin was quick to remind him it wasn't a goodbye this time, but a see you later. With one last hug he collected his sleepy pup and went after the alpha.

They climbed into the coach together in silence, the setting sun making it almost too dark to see each other clearly with the curtains closed. The alpha was across from him, head tipped back and scent tired and muted.

Finally Castiel cleared his throat, “I'm sorry again,” he said quietly, “for earlier.”

“Its fine, Cas.” Dean said. He had a lot of questions he was dying to ask about the whole situation, but he knew it was his place to ask. Someday, he hoped, Castiel would consider him a friend enough to talk to him.

Cas drew in a breath as if he was going to say more, maybe explain it himself, but then he blew out a weary sigh. The rest of the trip home was spent in tired silence.

Chapter Text

Over the following month, Dean could count on one hand the amount of times he saw Castiel. He understood the alpha was most likely embarrassed about Dean overhearing the fight between him and Anna. He understood that the alpha didn't want to talk about it. He understood that he was entitled to his own secrets.

But that didn't make being avoided hurt any less.

Dean, in turn, was getting kind of grumpy. He tried to take his mind off of it by playing with Claire, finishing up his mending, or helping Ellen with meals, but by the time he dropped into bed at night, his thoughts returned to everything he'd heard that day, as well as missing his friend.

“I don’t know what to do,” Dean told Charlie and Jo after yet another week of only seeing Castiel's back as he rushed out the backdoor. “I don’t want him to have to be so uncomfortable in his own home, thinking he has to keep away. If he doesn't want to talk about it, that's fine. ut I thought we were on our way to being friends. Now he won't even look at me!”

Jo tutted, “Don’t take it personally, Dean. He used to do this whole ‘see how long I can avoid my problems’ game with Amelia, too. When it comes to his parents, his work, and any staffing issues, Alpha Novak can take care of it easy. When it comes to people he cares about, people he doesn't want to disappoint, that's when he clams up.”

“Jo's right,” Charlie chimed in, “I think you need to find a way to tell him that it's ok. You're not going to force him to talk about it, but that you miss him being around. Knowing Novak, he thinks from what you overheard, you don't want him around. His ‘people skills’ have always been rusty.”

Dean nodded slowly, “Yeah, I get it. Think you girls can keep an eye on Claire for me long enough to figure out how I'm gonna do this?”

“Absolutely!” Jo grinned, swooping in to pluck the pup from Dean's chest where she’d been curled up, nose planted firmly on his scent gland. “Take all the time you need. I've missed hanging out with our little Claire.”

Dean thanked the blonde beta and left the room, not really sure where he was headed. He paced around the hall, brow creased in thought. He considered writing Castiel a note and placing it somewhere he knew the alpha would find it, but his handwriting was abysmal. He couldn't just go up to the man to talk to him, because he had no idea where to even begin looking. He’d taken Claire on a few more walks, usually ending up passing the apiary in hope of catching sight of the man but he was never there. Dean also didnt trust himself to be able to talk to the man in general. He had no idea what he really wanted to say without sounding like a needy omega, and he didn't trust himself not to stutter and and slur beyond recognition.

Dean stopped at one of the windows that faced the backyard, peering out. He could see the edge of the gardens from here, and a thought dawned on him. He remembered Kevin talking him about one of the books he'd been reading. In it, it spoke of the language of flowers. Dean couldn't remember what Kevin had said any of them meant, but he figured it wouldn't hurt to check the library within the house.

He had been in the room a few times before, looking for a book to borrow. He wasn't the fastest reader, but it was nice to pass the time with. He veered down a few winding halls til he came to the massive double doors that led him into the library. It was a large room with wall to ceiling shelves, every inch filled with a books of all colors and sizes.

Luckily either Castiel had very initiative housekeeping staff, or he was a very fastidious man himself because everything was shelved in alphabetical order. Dean figured he'd start by looking for flower, and searched for the F's. Once he located them, he skimmed the many shelves but came up empty handed. Stumped, he tapped his foot, mouth turned down in a frown. Kevin's book had referred to it as a language, so maybe he should look under the L's.

He shuffled further down the rows until he located the letter he needed and went back to skimming the titles. With a noise-that he refused to admit was bordering on a squeal- of glee, he located a dark green binding with gold letters that read ‘The Language of Flowers: Conveying a Message’.

With the book under his arm, he hurried over to one of the fluffiest arm chairs and settled in to get to work. The book included thousands of flowers and messages and Dean's head was beginning to swim with all the information. He set the book aside and went to the desk that sat in the far corner that was supplied with papers and quills for the staff to use as needed. He grabbed what he needed and sat back down. After jotting down a few different options, mindful to choose several in case Joshua didn't have the flowers he needed, he replaced the book on the shelf.

Joshua was, thankfully, kneeling by a rose bush working with the soil when Dean got to the garden. “How can I help you?” He asked with a warm smile as Dean approached.

Dean worried the paper between his fingers, “I was hoping you had some of the flowers I wrote down here.”

Joshua stood, his knees creaking, and pulled off his work gloves to take the paper from Dean. A small smile pulled at his lips and he looked up at the omega, “Trying to pass along a message to someone?”

“Hoping to, yeah.” Dean blushed.

“Follow me,” Joshua ordered, turning on his heal. He led Dean through the paths, helping him narrow the message down to what he had on hand and what Dean intended to say. In the end, he was holding a small bunch of soft purple Chrysanthemums, ivy wrapped around their stems, and small white clovers encasing it all.

If he had read the book correcting, he'd be telling Castiel that he promised to be a dependable and supportive friend as he went through this difficult time. “Sounds like whoever is getting these is lucky to have you stand by them.” Joshua said with a pat to Dean's shoulder.

“Thanks for your help, Joshua,” Dean said. He thought about where to put them and figured the only place he could leave them so that the recipient wouldn’t be misunderstood would be Castiel's room.

Dean hadn't been on the third floor yet. He wasn't even quite sure he was really allowed. He didnt see why he wouldn't be, and no one had explicitly told him he wasn't, so he made quick work of climbing the two flights of stairs. By the time he reached the top, his feet were heavy and he was a little out of breath, realizing he may need to take up a more frequent exercise routine.

There were only four doors in the short hallway, so he started with the first one on his left. Opening it, he found a surprisingly messy office with a heavy wooden desk in the center. It was piled with loose papers and open books, and there were old dishes sitting precariously close to the edge.

Dean closed that door and moved across the hall to the opposite door. Inside, there were canvases strewn all across the walls, some hanging, most leaning against one another on the floor. In the center was a tall easel, a large canvas sat a half finished painting of what looked like Castiel's apiary. It was beautiful, and reminded Dean of the paintings he had seen on the walls downstairs. This was, Dean realized, probably Amelia's room. She had been the one to paint all of the amazing landscapes Dean had admired when he first got here. It made Dean's chest ache to look once again at the unfinished painting resting on the abandoned easle.

Dean backed out of the room, firmly shutting the door behind him. He pushed it from his mind, determined to finish out his task. The room straight down from Amelia's seemed to be for storage, which left the last door to open to Castiel's bedroom.

Dean was taken aback by how strong the smell of cinnamon, leather, and honey was in here. It was like he had been blanketed in purely Castiel. He closed his eyes and gulped in a few breaths before releasing the air slowly, wishing he could hang around and bask in it. But he knew he would rather not get caught, so he looked for somewhere to place the bundle of flowers.

Castiel's room was set up much like Dean's own. A tub in one corner, a wardrobe in the other. Large bed in the center of one wall, though his bedding was a soft green, and a table with a bowl and pitcher near the window. Next to his bed, luckily, Dean spotted a side table with enough space for him to lay the flowers. Task completed, he sucked in one last breath and closed the door behind him.

Returning to Jo and Claire, he kept his fingers crossed that Castiel would accept his olive branch.

Chapter Text

The next morning, Dean was disappointed to find that Castiel had already left the house once again. When he finally made his way to kitchen for breakfast, he passed Charlie and Jo who took one look at his deep frown and gave him pitying pats on the shoulder.

Dean wasn’t feeling very hungry, but out of duty for feeding Claire, he silently worked at his oatmeal until it was all gone, not once tasting the honey or fruit Ellen had generously applied.

“Wanna tell me what's bothering you, son?” Ellen asked after a while, wiping her hands on her apron and sitting across from him. Her eyes were soft as she looked him over.

Dean shrugged. He didn’t feel much like talking, but he didn’t want to be rude to Ellen. “M’ fine, just havin’ a bad morning.”

Ellen hummed in sympathy. “I think you’re due for a day off.” She said and held up her hand when Dean went to argue, “No buts, darlin’. You’ve been working hard everyday since you got here. Take the day, spend it how you like. Focus on yourself for once, Dean.”

“I can’t just pass Claire off on someone else for the day,” Dean reasoned, “Everyone else has their own jobs to do.”

The older omega waved him off, moving to pull a string by the pantry. Dean wondered where all the bells were kept and how in the world people knew what was needed of them. He’d have to ask Charlie or Jo to let him in on the secret sometime, he decided. “Jo watched her for months before you got here. She loves watching the pup, and would have loved to keep the job if it weren’t so important to have omegas around. There’s more than enough housekeepers, she won’t be missed. Now put Claire in the bassinet for now and get on out of here.”

Dean got up, albeit reluctant to obey. Giving Claire a soft peck to her smooth forehead, he placed her in the cradle and moved to the door. “If Jo needs me to take over, don’t hesitate to find me.”

 

She sighed, smiling softly. “Fine. Now go!” She shook a hand towel at him.

Dean forced a small smile of his own, muttering a quick, “Thanks, Ellen,” before heading back into the hall. He couldn’t think of anywhere he wanted to go. He didn’t much feel like doing anything. His whole body felt like lead, so a walk outside was out of the question. He doubted he could focus on a book, and he didn’t feel like forcing his fingers to work a sewing needle.

Sighing loudly at the empty hallway, he decided to just head back up to his room. Leaving his blouse and trousers on, he slipped back under the covers and closed his eyes. Eventually his body gave in and let him slip into slumber.

---

Dean woke to a soft knock on his door. It felt like he had just closed his eyes, but from the window he could see the sun was resting high in the sky, indicating it was nearly noon. Another soft knock pulled him from his bed, wiping blearily at his eyes. He bit back a yawn as he opened the door.

He wasn't sure who he expected it to be. Maybe Charlie or Jo looking to return Claire to him, or Ellen ready to force a lunch upon him. Who didn't expect, however, was Castiel.

Castiel stood with his hands behind his back, rocking back on his heels. He offered Dean a small smile, “Hello, Dean.”

“Uh, hi, Cas.” Dean stuttered, his voice scratchy and dry with sleep.

“I got your flowers, and, well…” Castiel looked uncertain, eyes not meeting Dean's as he thrust out a hand toward Dean. He was holding a bouquet of bright yellow Rose's and purple flowers Dean didn't know the name of. “After I realized you had used each flower to give me a message, I thought I would return the gesture.”

Dean slowly accepted the flowers, wrapping his hands around the stems tightly to stop his hands from shaking. He thought back to the book he had read, but there had been so many flowers and meanings he couldn't for the life of him remember what these two meant.

Castiel seemed to see that Dean was at a loss, so he was quick to continue. “The yellow rose is for friendship, as well as a promise for a new beginning. The purple hyacinth offers my regret, for the way I have behaved.”

“They're beautiful, Cas. Thanks.” Dean said quietly, breathing in the flowers’ scents. He and Castiel were still standing in his doorway, now staring at one another.

After another long moment, Castiel said, “I want you to know that I wasnt avoiding you, specifically. I just...It's more that I've been trying to avoid myself, and in turn I've neglected you as well as everyone else. I'm sorry, Dean.”

“You apologize too much,” Dean said without thinking. He hoped the alpha knew he was just teasing. “You don’t need to be sorry. I know how it is to lose someone you love. Everyone copes differently. I just wanted to make sure you knew you weren't alone, and that I've missed talking to you.”

Castiel was looking at Dean with something Dean couldn't place a name to in his blue eyes. “I've missed speaking with you as well, Dean.” Cas said softly.

Dean wasn't sure what had possessed him, but before he could stop himself he was moving forward, wrapping his arms around the alpha's shoulders and pulling him into a hug.

At first the alpha tensed up in Dean's arms, and he was sure he had screwed up, but after a beat Castiel brought his arms up to wrap around him. Dean let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding and buried his head in Cas’ neck, breathing him in.

Cas kept his arms tightened around him and Dean could feel his chest move against his own as the alpha took a deep breath of his own. “I've always liked the way you smell,” Cas admitted, his voice rumbling against Dean's chest. “You aren't floral like most omegas are. Yours is like warm apple pie and the way the breeze smells on a warm summer day.”

It warmed Dean to know that Cas liked his odd scent. It had always been another source of insecurity for Dean that he didn't smell as sweet and flowery as most omegas did. No one had ever said much about his scent before.

“I like the way you smell too, Cas,” Dean said honestly.

Castiel's hand moved up Dean's back, leaving a trail of goosebumps in its wake. He stopped at his neck, moving his thumb against his scent gland as he had done so many times before, scent marking him.

He dropped his hand back down and pulled back, keeping his warm hands on Dean's sides. For a moment they just breathed, looking at one another.

Without warning, Castiel dove forward, pressing his lips against Dean's. It was softer, more questioning and hesitant than Dean expected. He had never been kissed before, so he wasn't sure what he was doing, but after a moment he let his nerves go and just allowed his mouth to move against Castiel's.

Castiel's grip on him tightened and something wet moved against the seam of Dean's lips and he let them part, giving Cas room to lick into his mouth. As the kiss deepened into a bruising pace, Dean let out a soft whimper.

The noise seemed to whip Castiel back to himself as he pulled back sharply, eyes wide and lips wet and swollen. He dropped his hands quickly as if they were on fire.

“Dean, I...That shouldn't have…” He stuttered, backing up, “I shouldn't have done that, I'm so sorry.”

Before Dean could even wrap his head around what Cas had said, the alpha was spinning around and darting down the hall, away from Dean. He barely missed crashing into one of the housekeepers Dean recognized as Ruby and disappeared back down the stairs.

Dean was frozen in his doorway, suddenly cold all over, chest hurting worse than it ever had before. His hands shook wildly as his sides and the flowers fell to the ground, sending petals all over the rug. He shook himself out of his stupor and backed up enough to close the door and dropped back into bed.

He felt sick to his stomach with rejection. Shivers wracked his body and he pulled the blankets up to his chin, but he couldn't get warm. He didn't fight the tears when they started to fall. He was still crying when Charlie brought up his dinner later that evening.

Chapter Text

By the next morning, Dean's eyes were finally dry, though swollen and red. He knew he looked a sight and he still reeked of rejected omega, but when he settled in the kitchen to eat with Charlie and Jo, everyone kept blissfully quiet.

Ellen kept her eyes on the pot she was stirring, though Dean suspected from the lack of smell it was only water and the woman was just trying to avoid looking at him. Her mouth was set in a thin line, and her scent was tinged in muted anger.

“Alpha Novak is going to be away for a few weeks,” Charlie said finally, keeping her eyes on the muffin she was picking apart. Dean didn't think he could feel any worse, but now he knew that he'd been wrong. He'd done this. He'd finally chased the alpha out of his home. “Said his brother Gabriel has some kind of emergency he needed him for.”

“Get away from me, more like.” Dean muttered, pushing away his untouched meal. “Jo, you mind watchin’ the pup for the morning? I didn't sleep much last night.”

“Of course, Dean. You go on back to bed.” Jo said softly, eyes sad. Dean dropped a kiss on Claire's curls before passing her off and ambled away, into the halls.

Dean had every intention of going straight back to bed, but passing the door to the den, Dean could hear two of the housekeepers laughing inside as they tidied up.

“You're serious?” A voice asked. He recognized it as Meg and he froze midstep, “What'd he do then?”

“Oh, you should have seen it,” another voice chuckled. With a cold feeling he realized it was Ruby. He knew he shouldn't stop, shouldn't move closer to the door so he could hear better. The self destructive part of him ignored reason and pushed him to lean against the frame, ear to the crack in the door. “Novak ran away so fast you'd think he was going to be sick. He looked so disgusted.”

Meg's laugh bubbled through the opening and Ruby went on, “I don't know what that bumbling omega expected. It's so pathetic to think someone like Castiel Novak would want him. He may be easy on the eyes but have you heard him talk? I barely understand a word out of his mouth. He moves so slow it's a wonder he gets anything done, too. And the way he shakes, I don't know why anyone would trust him to hold their pup!”

Dean felt like he was going to be sick as he stumbled away from the door and their horrible laughs. He tripped up the stairs, clutching at his stomach and slammed his bedroom door behind him.

Letting himself believe he was good enough for these people had been a mistake. He was sure they all had just felt sorry for the poor, dumb omega, Castiel included. That kiss had been a moment of weakness for the alpha. A grieving man seeking comfort, no more no less. Dean had just happened to be the only one offering it. After hearing Ruby's words, Dean thought back to Castiel's face when he had pulled away. Had that been a look of disgust that covered his face? Dean wasn't sure. Castiel had said he shouldn't have done it-kissed him. Of course he shouldn't have.

Who would want to kiss a broken omega?

And now he was gone, running to his brother to get as far from Dean as he possibly could. Dean could kick himself for ever letting himself fall for the alpha. It had been a doomed crush from the beginning. Castiel was beautiful, smart, and strong. He shouldn't have to subject himself to the the pathetic pining of a ‘developmentally delayed’ omega. Of course he'd left.

Dean sank onto the edge of the bed, dropping his head in his hands. It wasn't fair to Castiel to have Dean here, and he knew the alpha was too nice to ask Dean to leave. And it definitely wasn't fair to Claire that her father had to avoid her in turn all thanks to her nanny.

With a heavy weight on Dean's shoulders, he got up and pulled his bag out of the bottom of the wardrobe. He stripped out of the trousers and blouse Rowena had made him, folding them carefully and laying them on the bed. He pulled on the simple dress he had come in, buttoning it up with shaking fingers. It felt odd to be back in the fabric. He never noticed how itchy it was before.

He pushed past the other outfits the alpha had generously paid for, knowing he had no real right to them. He grabbed only the clothes he had come with, shoving them haphazardly into the bag. Next he shoved his book and journal inside. With a burning face, he dropped his fake knot in as well, wishing he never had to look at it again. He didn't want to be reminded of any alpha ever again.

Dean moved as quietly as he could out the front door. Another part of his chest tightened at leaving without telling anyone goodbye, Claire especially, but he knew they'd only try and stop him. Everyone here was too kind for their own good.

Save for Ruby and Meg, of course.

The omega inched across the lawn to the back of the house, bounding down the path to the stables. He found Bobby inside, leading Sammy to one of the stalls. The colt had grown since Dean had last seen him. He was far from his full size where he would one day tower over him, but he was steadily reaching Dean's height.

Bobby took one look at the omega and set his jaw. “What'd the idjit do?”

Dean shook his head, “Doesn't matter. I need to leave. Need to go back to the institute. Will you take me?”

“You sure about this, son?” Bobby asked, a kindness hidden under the gruff tone. Dean nodded wordlessly so with a quiet mutter of “Balls,” Bobby set about saddling up one of the bigger horses and tying Dean's bag to the side. “Novak took the coach with him, so we gotta make do with Chevy here.”

Dean said nothing, not really caring and just allowed the man to pull him in into the saddle, settling in against the mans back.

“I'm real sorry it didn't work out, boy.” Bobby said quietly, clicking his tongue and starting the horse forward. “Everybody's an asshole.”

Dean set his forehead to the back of the old man’s shoulder, arms wrapped tightly around his plump waist as they gained speed. He shook his head slowly, keeping his head down. “Not Cas.”

Chapter Text

By some small miracle, when the two men arrived at the Omega Institute, Missouri took one look at Dean and didn't ask any questions. She pulled her boy into her arms and let him cry into her shoulder as Bobby made his leave with a hushed farewell.

Missouri had saved Dean's room for him, though returning to the cramped space felt little like returning home. Dean didn't sleep that night, wounds too raw to ignore. It was almost eerie, the familiarity of it all. The bed felt new and hard against his back, and here he was, crying into his flat pillow about losing his family once again. Only this time, there was no Kevin to help him through it.

By morning, he was empty. The exhaustion was almost a blessing, since it left him to weak to focus on the pain. He dressed slowly and made his way to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for everyone.

Missouri found him cleaning up after the meal was through. Many of the kids had been excited to find Dean was back, barreling questions of where he'd been and why he'd come back, but after getting nothing out of him, they eventually backed off.

“You wanna talk about it, sugar?” Missouri asked, taking hold of Dean's elbow to stop his incessant scrubbing at one of the plans.

Dean shook his head, pulling his arm back to continue his work. “Dean, honey, I'm sorry it didn't go well. When you're ready to talk about it, you know-”

“Do me a favor,” Dean interrupted her, still scrubbing.

Missouri was silent a long moment, looking over him. “What is it, sugar?”

“Next time a request comes in for me,” he said, finishing up his pan and moving on to the pile of plates. “Deny it.”

---

Days blurred into weeks. At one point, Charlie had tried to see him, but Dean told Missouri to turn her away. He felt guilty, knowing the trip wasn't exactly short from Eden estate to the institute, but he didn't want to have to explain himself. Maybe it was cowardly, but he didn't care.

By week three, Dean was ready to put it all behind him. He was working with a group of the youngest omegas, showing them how to thread a needle, which was kind of a joke considering how must worse his shaking had gotten since his return. The door burst open and Missouri charged at the omega with a glint in her eyes.

“There’s someone here to see you, sugar.” She said happily.

Dean sighed, narrowing his eyes as his thread missed the needle once again. “I already told you, I don't want to see anyone. Tell Charlie I'm sorry she wasted another trip, but she can just give up.”

“It ain't Charlie,” Missouri insisted, plucking the needle from Dean's fingers. “You need to get out there. I'm not taking no for an answer.”

Dean crossed his arms, annoyed at her persistence. How could she push him like this, knowing how much he was hurting? He was just trying to move on and talking to those people would only make it harder. “Well too bad, you can't make me.” He said petulantly, only slightly embarrassed of his childish tone when the children giggled.

“Dean Winchester, you get your butt up out of that chair and into the main room or so help me, I will never give you another slice of pie in your life!” Missouri threatened.

The omega threw up his hands, “Fine! Fine.” He got to his feet and went around Missouri, throwing on last glare at her for good measure. Moving down the hall, he froze just outside the doorway.

He couldn't see inside, but he knew that smell. It was unmistakable.

Castiel was here.

Dean considered turning right back around and running away, but he knew Missouri would only hunt him down and end up dragging him back by his ear. With a steadying breath, Dean pushed through the door and looked a the floor. He was determined to make this easier by at least keeping his eyes off the alpha. He wasn't sure he could ever move on if he had to look into those blue eyes again.

“Dean,” Castiel breathed. He moved as if to come towards him, but froze, obviously thinking better of it. “Dean, I'm so sorry. I came came home to find you were gone, and I... I'm just so sorry I chased you away.”

Dean sputtered a humorless laugh, “Chased me away? Pretty sure I was the one chasing you away, buddy.”

“What? No, of course not.” Cas said frantically, “Dean, would you just...would you look at me?”

The omega in him didn't want to deny the alpha even the simplest request, but the stubborn ass part of him demanded he refuse. After a moments battle, his omega won out and he looked up, green eyes meeting blue.

The alpha looked exhausted. There were circles under his eyes, and his usual stubble was bearing full grown beard status. His clothes were wrinkled and worn, as if they hadn't been changed in days. When he met the omega's eyes, a tiny, relieved smile pulled at his chapped lips.

“Why would you think you chased me away, Dean?” Castiel asked softly.

“You really have to ask? You...you ki-kissed me,” Dean flushed at having to say it out loud, “and when you realized what you'd done...Kissed me...you couldn't get away fast enough.”

Now Castiel did allow himself to move forward, grasping Dean's arms as if he was afraid Dean would make a run for it. Maybe he would have, given the chance. “Dean, you've got it all wrong. I didn't run away because of you. Kissing you was...I'd wanted to kiss you from the moment I saw you holding my pup! I was just angry at myself. Angry for not having more control over myself, for taking advantage of you!”

“Advantage?” Dean squawked, “Cas, you didn't take advantage of me. I may be slow, but I'm not stupid. I'm not just some idiot that has no clue what's going on.”

“Of course not, Dean!” Castiel looked affronted at the mere thought, “But I was your employer! You came to care for my pup, not to be accosted by her father.”

Dean gaped, unsure what to say. Castiel looked at him sadly, wringing his hands. “I just came to ask for your forgiveness for my thoughtless actions,” Cas said. “And...and to ask if you'd consider returning for Claire. She is inconsolable without you.”

The omegas heart broke to imagine the poor pup missing him, trying to catch his scent and finding it no where. “Cas of course I want to come back. I miss her too. I miss everyone. I didn't want to leave. I just thought it would be easier for you if I did.”

“Why?” Cas asked.

“If I'm honest...I thought you'd left because you were ashamed of kissing me because I'm...Me. I overheard someone making fun of me because of it, and I just broke. I got upset and I ran.”

“Who was it? I’ll have them fired!” Cas demanded.

Dean waved him off, “I don’t want someone losing their job on my account. It doesn't matter.”

Castiel stepped closer again, cupping Dean's cheek with one hand. “Dean, I could never be ashamed of you. Everything I've said in the past is true. You amaze me. You are so warm, and kind. Smart, and thoughtful. You are wonderful with Claire, and make my staff so happy, at this point I'm almost worried Ellen will poison me in revenge for hurting you!”

Dean chuckled, “Do you regret kissing me?”

Castiel shook his head, eyes firmly on Dean's, “Not one bit.”

“You're not my employer now...would you consider kissing me again?” Dean asked, slightly stunned at his own bravery.

Castiel broke into a small smile, “Only if you want me to. Do you?”

“Yes.” He said softly, returning the alpha's smile.

The alpha moved in slowly, as if he was giving Dean a chance to back out of it. To prove Dean wasn't even considering it, he closed the distance and pressed his lips to the alpha's.

The kiss was just as soft as before, the gentle slide of their wet lips moving against one another. When they broke apart, Castiel's eyes were bright and he gave Dean a gummy smile.

“Not going to run away, alpha?” Dean teased, though there was a nervous knot in his stomach that worried at his answer.

“Never.” Castiel said firmly. “Come home?”

Home. Dean liked the sound of that.

“Yes.”

Chapter Text

Dean's arrival home-home-is met with tears and hugs from Jo and Ellen as well as a sharp smack to his shoulder from Charlie for refusing to see her.

Dean begs them off, promises he'll never run off again, and asks where Claire is, anxious to see the pup he'd missed so much.

“She's in a cradle in your room. We found she slept easier surrounded by your scent.” Jo explained with a sad smile. The omega felt a guilty pang in his chest. He never should have let his own hurt feelings and shame come before Claire's wellbeing. She had already lost her mother, she didn't deserve Dean leaving her too.

Castiel must have picked up Dean's guilt radiating through his scent because he rubbed soothing circles into Dean's back, “It's alright, Dean. You came back. Shall we go and see her?”

Dean nodded and Castiel led him with his hand to the small of the omega's back. Ignoring Charlie's raised brow at the alpha's intimate touch, Dean let himself be directed up the stairs and to his room.

As soon as he was through the door, he made a beeline for the cradle that rested at the foot of the bed. The pup lay on her back, hands fisted and face scrunched in an unhappy frown. Already she looked bigger than the last time he saw her and his heart hurt for the time he lost. Swooping down, he lifted Claire up and to his chest, and instinctively the girl wiggled around until her nose was buried in his neck, relaxing immediately.

Hands landed on his shoulder from behind and Castiel settled against his back, pressing a kiss first to Dean's temple then to the crown of Claire's curls. The air around them was warm, comforting, and smelled strongly of family.

Castiel led the omega to the bed, helping him lay down carefully so as to not jostle the pup too much. The alpha went to his feet, easing off first one houseshoe, then the other, and placed the on the floor. Dean settled on his back on top the blankets, Claire sleeping peacefully on his chest. Cas moved around the bed, stopped to remove his boots, and then joined him. He settled on his side, blue eyes on Dean's green ones. They shared a small smile and Cas brought his hand to Claire's back where Dean's own hand rested, weaving their fingers together.

The room grew dark as the sun went down, the only sound was their mingled breathing and Claire's soft snore. Surrounded by happy, content scents, Dean drifted to sleep.

---

Over the course of a week, the three spent nearly their time together. It became apparent that the alpha had basically moved into Dean's room. His clothes had somehow migrated into Dean's wardrobe and his comb rested next to Dean's by the bowl and pitcher. This was something Dean was more than okay with.

As Claire was still sleeping in the room with them, almost more for Dean's sake than her own, the most the alpha and omega shared were brief kisses as they fell asleep, hands tangled together on the sheets between them.

As weeks passed them by, Dean couldn't help but wonder why the alpha didn't push for more. There were nights that Dean would wake up with the alpha's hardness pressed against his backside, sleepy arousal heavy in the air. The first time it happened, he froze, unsure if Castiel was aware. The deep, steady breath on his neck suggested the man was still asleep, so Dean took a chance. He shifted, just enough that Castiel was resting directly between his clothes cheeks and rocked back.

The alpha barely moved, though he let out a short moan. Dean waited a few moments before repeating the motion, once, twice, the third time with a bit more force. With each roll of Dean's hips, the alpha squirmed and huffed, his own hips jerking sleepily into Dean.

“Alpha…” Dean breathed. All at once, Castiel froze, hips stuttering to a halt.

“Sorry,” Castiel whispered, voice uncharacteristically shakey, “I'm sorry.” He released his grip on Dean and rolled out of the bed, stumbling out the door.

Dean rolled onto his back, slick drying between his legs, and stared blankly at the ceiling. He had no idea what would make Castiel react the way he had. Surely the alpha wanted him? He had no problem holding and kissing Dean. There were times that Dean could see the heat in Castiel's blue eyes that he knew was pure desire. Dean was more than willing- he had proved that well tonight. So why had the alpha left? Maybe part of him really didn't want Dean, couldn't look past the tremors that shook him, the slur of his voice when he called him Alpha…

With a sharp shake of his head, Dean reeled in the bitter hurt in his scent, knowing there had to be a good reason for Castiel's reaction. The man had done nothing but showered Dean in attention and affection since he returned. He wouldn't do that if he didn't truly want him.

When the door clicked quietly open, Dean feigned sleep, allowing Castiel to crawl back back into the bed and ease his arms around Dean's middle. The tender kiss to the back of his neck spoke Cas’ apology and Dean relaxed, settling back against his alpha.

The next few times that it happened, Dean fought the urge to let his hips roll back. Instead he would force himself to lay completely still until the alpha's arousal became too much and he would wake himself up, roll away from Dean with a mumbled apology, and disappeared to take care of himself. Castiel would always return shortly after to pull Dean back into his arms. Despite the growing knot in Dean's stomach, he couldn't find the courage to ask why Castiel wouldn't take what Dean so blatantly offered.

As Claire reached six months old, Dean and Ellen agreed that it was time to start easing the pup into soft foods. Ellen showed him how to mash certain vegetable up into a soft enough paste for the pup to swallow.

Claire sat happily in Jo's old high chair, fists beating the table as she babbled between bites. Dean wasn't sure how she was even getting any of the smashed peas, as the green mush seemed to mostly be smeared across her plump cheeks.

“Here comes the coach!” Dean sing-songed, driving the spoon into Claire's gummy smile. Her mouth closed over the peas, lips puckering as most of it was pushed back over her lips and down her chin. “Sammy was always a sloppy eater, too.” Dean chucked quietly, wiping the pup’s face.

Dean's chest aches beneath his blouse. His milk still seemed to be set to Claire's routine, but he didn't want to risk overfeeding her just for a little relief. He squirmed in his seat, pressing a hand to a leaking nipple through the fabric.

“It can sometimes get to be too much, waiting for your breasts to dry out.” Ellen said knowingly, taking a seat on the other side of Claire. She gently took the spoon from Dean's hand and nodded toward the door. “Go find your alpha.”

“Why?” Dean asked, confused.

Ellen chuckled, “He can help. Go on, he's probably in his office.”

Unsure but desperate to ease some of the ache in his chest, Dean climbed the two sets of stairs with heavy feet. The door to Castiel's office was closed so he tapped on the door. A loud “Come in!” had him pushing the door open, a blush on his cheeks. There was no hiding the two damp circles on his blouse.

Castiel's eyes flicked between his chest and his face, “What can I do for you?”

“Um, Ellen said I should...that you would be able to help?” Dean's whole face burned under the alpha's gaze, “We started Claire on soft foods, so I couldn't breastfeed. Now it...it hurts.”

Castiel got up slowly, moving towards Dean like a predator stalking its prey. “You...you need me to help?”

Dean nodded slowly, the situation dawning on him. A searing heat pooled in his stomach, his legs shaking. He was waiting for Castiel to say no, to turn him away. He didn't expect the look of awe upon the man’s face as he grabbed Dean's hand. “You would let me drink from you?”

“Yes,” Dean breathed. Castiel pulled Dean to his desk, shoving a pile of papers to the floor so Dean could perch on the smooth wood. Castiel leaned over him, his hands on either side of Dean's hips and his forehead pressed into his shoulder. The alpha’s breathing was rough and fast, as if he couldn't catch his breath. Dean carded his fingers through Cas’ dark locks. “You don’t...you don't have to do it.”

Cas jerked his head up, his nose just inches from Dean's own, his breath coming in warm puffs against Dean's face. “Drinking from you isn't some unfavorable job. Its the most magnificent thing anyone has ever offered me. You are an absolute gift, Dean.”

Dean flushed with the man's praise. Castiel's hands moved to unbutton Dean's blouse with amazing speed, shoving the fabric over his shoulders so that it pooled on the wood around Dean's wrists. They were both panting now, the air heavy between them. Cas lifted his hand reverently, rubbing his thumb roughly across the omega's left nipple, making it harden quickly under his ministrations.

Cas brought his mouth to the hardened nipple, tongue flicking out to wet it before his lips closed around it. He sucked hard, his mouth immediately filling with the warm liquid. The alpha groaned loudly, his hands gripping Dean's hips roughly. Dean held onto the man's head, fingers pulling at his hair sharply.

The sensation was so far from when he fed Claire. Having the man sucking and teething at his breast sent electric waves through his entire body. Enough that his head fell back and slick pooled in his trousers. He knew it was seeping through the fabric, smearing the wood beneath him. “Alpha…” He groaned, aching for more.

Without missing a beat, the alpha’s hands moved to the front of Dean's trousers, pulling at the ties until they came undone. With one arm wrapping around his waist, he lifted the omega easily, yanking his pants down with the other.

Castiel pushed at Dean until he leaned back, perched almost precariously over the edge, cool air hitting his bare cheeks. Dean couldn't believe this was the same Cas that bolted from the bed every time he woke up with an erection. This Cas barely paused before his hand dove between Dean's legs, a single finger circling his slick hole, giving no warning before he sunk the digit in as far as he could go.

Dean let out a high keening noise, wishing he were in a better position, the need to push himself deeper onto Castiel's finger nearly overwhelming. “Alpha...alpha more.” Dean panted.

The alpha thrust the single digit in and out roughly a few more moments, ignoring the omega's plea, before adding in a second. The stretch was good, but nowhere near enough. It did nothing to ease the need to be full. Castiel's mouth moved to his other breath, his free hand moving up to twist at the already abused nipple.

With a third digit added to Cas’ thrusting fingers, the burn of Dean's stretched hole had him babbling, begging for more. “Please, Alpha.” Dean groaned, “I need you.”

Castiel released Dean's nipple, milk droplets pooling at the corners of his mouth. He kissed and sucked his way up Dean's chest to his neck. His other hand dropped between the omega's legs, covered his hand in slick and loved it back up to wrap around Dean's straining cock. With barely a few jerks, his other hand still thrusting fingers in Dean's hole, the omega's breath stuttered and he came hard, vision whitening, his come coating Castiel's stomach.

Cas eased his fingers out of Dean slowly, wrapped his arm around him to pull him closer. Dean dropped his head to Castiel's shoulder while they both caught their breath. He could feel Castiel's erection pressed against his thigh.

“Cas…” Dean sighed. “Why won't you...why won't you fuck me? Don't you want to?”

Cas sighed, his breath brushing against Dean's hair. “Of course I do. You have no idea how badly I want you, Dean. I just can't.”

“Why can't you? I want you to, you want to...what's stopping you?” Dean asked, lifting his head to look the man in the eyes. His blue eyes were dark, almost sad.

“I suppose I'm afraid.” Castiel admitted quietly.

Dean scrunched his brows in confusion, “Scared? Of what? Me?”

“Of course not,” Castiel said quickly, cupping Dean's cheek with a slightly sticky palm. Dean didn't complain. “I just don't want to lose you.”

“Why would you lose me? I doubt your cock is going to chase me away,” Dean smirked.

The alpha huffed a laugh, smiling fondly at the omega. “Oh, definitely not. No, I'm afraid that you would…” He closed his eyes, shoulders slumping, “I'm afraid of you falling pregnant.”

Dean felt like ice water had been dumped on him. He pulled away sharply, looking everywhere but at the alpha. “I should have known. I ain't gonna screw up any pups. They wouldn't come out like me, so broken, just because I am. That was an accident-”

“No, no, Dean,” Cas rushed to say, grabbing Dean's chin and forcing him to look at him. “You misunderstand. I'm not afraid for you to fall pregnant for the reason you think-which is just ridiculous. Any pups you'd gift me would be perfect. I just…I've already lost my wife to childbirth. I couldn't risk losing you, too.”

Dean melted into the alpha, wondering how he'd been so stupid. Of course Cas would be afraid. He couldn't imagine the pain of losing the one he loved in that way. “Cas, man, you've gotta know Amelia's death was rare. Omega's are made for this. The chances of me dying in childbirth are slim to none.”

Cas shook his head. “You just mean so much to me, Dean. Amelia was my best friend. I loved her, but only in that way. Neither of us were especially attracted to one another. I've mostly appreciated men more, and she just wasn't interested. But I loved her all the same, and her death hit me hard.” He gripped Dean harder against him, “But you...you are everything. I love you, Dean, so much. I couldn't imagine living without you.”

Dean tightened his own arms around Cas’ shoulder, “I love you too, Cas.” He breathed, “But you can't let this fear stop us from living our lives. My mom died because of a wagon crashing into a river did that stop me from riding in them? No. Things happen, Cas. People die, but we shouldn't stop ourselves from living because of it.”

“How did you get to be so wise, my omega?” Cas grinned into Dean's neck.

“Maybe my accident actually knocked some sense into me.” Dean grinned.

Cas laughed and pulled away, helping Dean to his feet. He helped Dean back into his pants and Dean grimaced at the dry slick pulling at his legs. “So, how about we go take a hot bath?”

Cas pressed a final kiss to Dean's forehead, “Sounds great.”

Chapter Text

“Have you been out to see Sammy lately?” Charlie asked one morning, tone carefully nonchalant. She and Dean were sitting on the floor of the den separating clothes that needed mended. Claire lay half off a soft blanket, determined to wiggle her way across the room.

It took a moment for Dean to realize Charlie had meant the horse and not his baby brother, and he shook his head. “Hadn't thought about it. There's been so much going on with Cas and Claire bear here, I forgot about him.” Dean admitted, “I ought to thank Bobby for what he did for me, too.”

Charlie narrowed her eyes at Dean, “Thank him for helping you run away from your family, you mean?”

Dean flinched, “How many times do I need to apologize? You know I love you guys, and I'm sorry I hurt you. Really. He was just doing what I asked him to do.”

“I guess,” Charlie sniffed, turning her attention back to the piles of clothes. “I just really missed you. It's hard finding someone as awesome as I am, so I don't want to lose you.”

With a chuckle, Dean tossed a shirt at Charlie's face, “I'm way more awesome than you are, Red. Mind watching the pup long enough for me to run out there?”

Charlie waved him off and Dean got to his feet. The walk to the stables didn't take long. The doors were left open as usual, and the enclosure was empty of any horses, so Dean went in to see Sammy first. The horse had grown since Dean had last seen him, already standing taller than Dean himself.

Holding his hand out flat to the horse, Sammy came forward without hesitation, pushing his muzzle into Dean's palm. Dean could hear something like scraping in one of the far stalls, but suddenly there was a loud thump and then sound of wood crashing to the dirt floor, followed by a very not Bobby flurry of curses.

Dean rushed over to see if whoever it was, was alright but froze when he looked in. Ruby was sprawled on her back, trying to push herself up and out of what looked like a heaping pile of hay and horse shit. Dean took one look at her disgruntled expression, hay sticking out of her dark hair, and suspiciously dark smear across her cheek and burst out laughing.

Ruby's eyes popped open and immediately glared at the omega, “You. This is all your fault! Went running to the alpha to cry about me just telling it like it is and I get banished to horse shit hell!”

“For the record, I didn't say anything.” Dean corrected her, shoulders still shaking with laughter, “Either way, you have no one to blame but yourself for being such a nasty person.”

Ruby got to her feet and opened her mouth to shoot back at Dean but was interrupted by a gruff voice behind them, “Novak didn't send you out here to gab. I suggest you pick up the rake and get back to work before he decides even this job is too good for you.”

Ruby snapped her mouth shut into a thin, angry line. Despite the pure fury in her eyes, she did as Bobby ordered and returned to her work.

Bobby led Dean outside so they could both breathe in the fresh air, away from the stink inside. “Thanks for that, Bobby.” Dean said to the old beta, “And for helping me out before. How did Cas know it was Ruby I overheard?”

Bobby shrugged, “Ain't no secret Ruby has a mouth on her. Meg threw her under the wagon to save her own behind. That idjit only got demoted to laundry.”

Laundry didn't seem all that bad of a punishment to Dean, but he knew it would at least keep Meg out of the house and away from Dean. He appreciated that Castiel hadn't just fired them for their mean ignorance. He hoped someday they'd seen their error in judgement, but he also knew better than to hold his breath.

He returned to Charlie who had a satisfied grin on her face, and Dean was sure his own face matched. “See anything interesting?”

Dean shrugged nonchalantly, “Only some sweet justice.”

---

“Hello?” A loud voice echoed through the halls. Dean was in the library with Claire, practicing his reading by reading aloud to the squirming child who was more interested in trying to chew on the book's leather cover. “Cassie, you here?”

Dean was just setting the book aside and pushing himself to his feet when the man the voice belonged to mosied into the room.

He was short, at least a head shorter than Dean, with whiskey eyes and shoulder length hair that seemed to somehow match. His nose was long and his thin lips were pulled into a smirk as he looked Dean over. “You must be Dean-o!”

“Yes?” Dean said with uncertainty, clutching the babbling pup to his hip, “and you are?”

The man clutched his chest in mock insult, “You don’t know? You don't see the family resemblance at all?” His smirk returned and he flipped his hair, “Of course not, I'm the good looking one. Gabriel, Cassie's favorite brother.”

“Not much competition there,” Castiel said wryly, marching in behind Gabriel, “Who let you into my home?”

“Is that how you treat someone that's doing you a favor?” Gabriel squawked. Dean looked between the two men, unsure how the two alphas in front of them could possibly be brothers. There wasn't a single resemblance between them.

Cas shot Gabriel a look before his eyes flicked to Dean and back. “Perhaps we should speak in my office?”

It was obvious to Dean that he wasn't supposed to know what they needed to talk about, and he couldn't help but bristle. “Oh, don't mind me, Alpha. I'll just get out of your hair.”

He sulked past the two men, ignoring his alpha calling after him. If Cas was going to keep things from him, then fine, but Dean didn't feel like listening to any excuses.

Since it was close enough to Claire's nap time, Dean decided to join her. He lay her in the center of the bed and built a wall of pillows and blankets on Castiel's side of the bed before he lay down with her.

For a while, Dean breathed in the smooth honey scent of Cas that seemed to linger on the sheets more than any of his other scents. Despite his annoyance with the alpha, and the pup currently batting at his nose, the soothing scent easily eased him to sleep.

---

Dean woke to fingers carding through his hair. He had no idea how long he had been asleep, though the pup snoring softly beside him indicated it couldn't have been long. Claire never napped for more than an hour.

Cas lay stretched out on the other side of Claire, head propped on his free hand as he stared down at Dean. “Enjoy your private chat with your brother?” Dean asked. He knew he was being petty, but he had hoped they were passed keeping secrets.

His alpha smiled softly, “You heard him mention he was doing me a favor, yes?” Dean nodded, and Cas continued. “It's actually more of a favor for you. When I went to him after our first kiss, I was trying to think of a way to make my behavior up to you.”

“What did he do?” Dean asked, feeling nervous. He didn't know this man, how could he have done Dean any favors?

“Well, I've heard you speak of a younger brother, and how you haven't been in touch with him since you were dropped off at the Omega Institute. Gabriel has many connections all over the country, so he was able to track him down.” Castiel explained.

Dean's chest tightened sharply, eyes wide on his alpha. “You...you found Sammy?”

“Samuel Winchester, born to Mary Campbell and John Winchester?” Cas checked, and once again Dean nodded so he went on. “He lives just two hours west of the Omega Institute.”

Was he that close the entire time? Or had he, at some point, moved closer and didn't realize Dean was so nearby? Did he care?

“We haven't contacted him. I told Gabriel not to, in case you didn't approve. Samuel is listed as still living with your father, so I wanted to see how you felt about it before we acted.”

Sam would only be sixteen, Dean remembered, so of course he would still live with John. This was something that made Dean pause. Every part if him thrummed with anticipation to see his baby brother once again, but what if John refused to allow it? Would he be able to handle being turned away by his own father for the second time in his life? What if Sammy himself turned Dean away? Was ashamed of Dean's short comings as well as presentation? So many years alone with John, of course it was entirely possible the man's beliefs and behavior could have rubbed off on the boy.

No, Dean refused to believe his Sammy could ever be like their father.

“I want...I need to see him.” Dean mumbled, nerves tying his tongue.

Castiel nodded solemnly. “I will send my messenger right away.”

Dean shook his head quickly, “No, we have to go to him. No messages. It has to be a surprise,” Dean licked his lips and sat up, “If John knows we're coming, it would give him the chance to refuse us.”

“Whatever you want, Dean. I will do this any way you think is best.” Castiel readily agreed, sitting up as well.

Dean stood and circled the bed quickly, stopping in front of the alpha. He grabbed the man by the neck and lowered himself to kiss him roughly, his nerves buzzing and heart pounding. “Thank you, Alpha. Thank you for finding my brother.” He breathed against Cas' bruised lips.

Castiel returned the kiss, much softer than Dean's had been.

“Anything for you, Dean.”

Chapter Text

Dean had wanted to jump right in the coach and head off the next day, but Castiel acted as his voice of reason.

“Dean, as much as I want you reunited with your brother, it would be disastrous for us to leave right now.” Castiel said in a soothing tone to the pacing omega. They were alone in their bedroom that night. Claire had been moved to own room once again, much to Dean's dismay. He had gotten used to having the pup so close, but Castiel had insisted. “Your heat is due any day now. Do you plan to suffer through it in the coach?”

“Of course not,” Dean huffed, falling into the bed. He looked up at the alpha through his eyelashes. “Are you going to help me through it this time?”

Despite their last conversation, Castiel had yet to touch Dean again, save for some enthusiastic kissing. His stomach sank as the alpha frowned, eyes sad. “I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“Why?” Dean's voice comes out as more of a whine than he intended. His last heat had been torture, he couldn't imagine going through it now knowing that the alpha wanted him but still refused him.

“I want us to do it the right way,” Castiel explained simply. “I wish to marry you first, and mate you during our first copulation.”

Warmth replaced the hurt in Dean's stomach and he sat up next to Castiel, barely holding back his grin. “You want to marry me?”

“Of course I do,” He insisted, grabbing Dean's hands and squeezing them tightly. “But it hasn't even been a year since Amelia passed. Out of respect for her and our marriage, I think it would only be right to wait until after Claire's first birthday.”

Claire had only just reached seven months a few days ago. To wait another five months seemed almost insurmountable to Dean. To sleep in the same bed, feel Castiel beside him, and to not have him in the way his body desires most? What the alpha proposed felt like torture.

“I get it,” Dean admitted. He absolutely saw where Castiel was coming from. Thinking about it, he almost felt guilty that he and Cas were even sharing a room. It hadn't occurred to him before just how backwards their entire relationship had been. He let himself mumble through a pout, “I dunno how I'm gonna get through this heat. I ain't gonna lie, it's gonna be hell.”

Castiel lifted Dean's hands to his mouth and placed chaste, soft kisses to each of his palms. “You will get through this heat as you have all the others, my Omega. After we are married, you will never go through another heat unsatisfied, I promise you.”

---

Castiel had temporarily moved back to his own room for the duration of Dean's heat. Dean couldn't decide what could be worse; Having his alpha so far away, or having his alpha close but unable to help. Either way, though Dean knew better, Dean's heat was making his entire body thrum with pained abandonment.

Having been spoiled with his alpha's presence, having it kept from him when he needed it most was the worst frustration Dean had ever experienced.

The first day hit even more suddenly than it had the last time. Dean had been working in the kitchen with Ellen, sweating from what he had thought was the heat from the stove. He turned too quickly toward the stove and the whole room spun. The next thing he knew, he was on the floor, his forehead sticky with blood and a sizable lump on his temple. On top of that, he was burning up, shivers wracking his entire body.

“Dean?” One of three blurry Ellens said from above him, “Dean, honey, are you okay? Charlie, get someone who can carry Dean to his room.” There was a garbled answer, too far for Dean to understand in his haze, and the Ellens shook their heads. “No, not Novak. He won't be able to leave him now if he gets too close. Get a beta. Hurry!”

She turned back to Dean, pressing her dish towel to his forehead, earning a sharp wince. She pulled back and peered at his face. “Doesn't look too deep, should heal easy. Gonna leave a scar, I bet.”

Her words meant nothing to Dean when he was suddenly lifted into the air. Was he flying? He wasn't sure. The omega squinted his eyes against the continuous throb and tried to focus, finding the face of whoever was making him soar. He was familiar, with his square jaw and serious expression. A strange name, Ga...Gad? Gadreel.

Why wasn't his alpha the one making him fly like this? He wanted his alpha's arms beneath him, and his delicious scents all around him. Not this scentless, brooding beta.

Without warning, Dean was dropped into his bed and Charlie was hovering over him this time. Squinting once more, the multiple redheads merged into one. A cold hand touched his face and he jerked away. “Oh Dean, your cheeks are on fire.”

Without much else she could do, Charlie prepared him a lukewarm bath and helped him in. There he stayed until the room grew dark and his whole body had become a fair skinned, freckled prune.

By morning the next day, the deep, gnawing ache had arrived deep in his gut. He could smell his alpha all over their bed, and his omega begged and cried for him. His fake knot did nothing to ease the pure need and his cock was nearly raw from Dean pulling and tugging so hard, just desperate to find some release.

Everytime the door would open, Dean would perk up in hopes that it is his alpha coming to ease his pain. Instead, it was always Charlie and Dean would return to crying into the blankets.

By day four, Dean was sure this heat would kill him. It hasn't let up at all, and he can hardly even bring himself to drink water he is so exhausted. At least his tears had dried up the day before.

When the door clicked open for the hundredth time, Dean didn't bother looking up. “Got something you might like, Dean-o!” An obnoxious voice says, far too cheerily for Dean's sour mood.

He barely lifts his head to look at the short Alpha who is plugging his nose with one hand to block the overwhelming smell of omega in heat. In his free hand he's holding out a plain, long and flat box. When he realizes the omega was making no move to take it from him, he rolled his eyes and dropped it on the bed by Dean's knee, carefully keeping his eyes trained on the floor.

“Hope that helps,” Gabriel quips, backing out the door, “Cassie's been acting like a crazy knothead with worry.”

As soon as the door clicks shut, Dean props himself up on a shaky arm, using his free hand to fumble at the box's clasps. As soon as he gets it open and flips the top off, he's overwhelmed with the scent of Castiel.

Nestled on soft blue cloth is a smooth wooden knot, triple the size of Dean's own toy. The shaft and tip of the thing is shiny and wet, and suspiciously white. Fresh slick leaks from Dean's hole upon realization that his alpha had come on the toy for Dean to use.

With a groan he scrambled his tired body to present on his hands and knees, shoving the knot straight into himself. This was the fullest he had ever felt, and it was wonderful. With the mouthwatering smell of his alpha's arousal and knowing his come was finally in his hole, he was quick to come himself, satisfied for the first time in days.

Thanks to his new knot and his alpha's seed, the heat only lasted one more day. As soon as it ends, Charlie has Dean in a bath while she strips the bed and airs out the room.

Castiel was quick to return to him, dropping to his knees by the tub and peppering Dean's face with kisses. “I'm so sorry you suffered, Dean.”

“S’okay,” Dean slurred with sleep, his face flushed under Castiel's ministrations. “That knot helped.”

Cas smiled softly at his omega, “You can thank Gabriel for that idea, actually. Despite his obnoxious personality, he can be fairly smart at times.”

Dean snorted, closing his eyes and resting his head against the alpha's shoulder. He could barely feel his arms or legs, but his temple throbbed from his previous tumble. He was worried that the hit had only screwed him up more, but until he got some real sleep, it would be hard to tell. He didn't feel any more scrambled than usual.

“So when can we leave to see Sammy?” Dean asked.

Castiel hummed as he thought about it. “Let's allow your body a few days to recover,” He decided, “We can leave the first of the week.”

Dean settle in happily against the alpha's side, not caring that he was getting the man wet from his bath. For now, he could be content. He had his alpha back, he was going to marry and mate the man he loved, and soon he would have his baby brother back. He refused to believe otherwise. Maybe, Dean thought, he did get to be happy.

Chapter Text

By the next week, Dean was feeling nearly good as new. He and Castiel agreed that it would be alright to leave early the next morning. For whatever reason, Gabriel insisted he tag along. He swore he only wanted to accompany them in case things with John got out of hand, but Dean secretly thought the man just wanted to use the five hour coach ride to torture them. The last few days with the short alpha had been more of a headache than the bump on Dean's head was.

Dean found himself correct an hour into the trip as Gabriel’s mouth never once stopped moving. It wasn't even inane chatter that Dean could tune out. The man was trying to tell jokes, and refused to be ignored.

“Where do you find a cow with no legs?” He would ask and look between his companions expectantly.

“Where?” Dean asked, voice flat.

“Right where you left him!” The man would cackle as if he were the funniest man in the world. “How do you make holy water?”

Castiel sighed, “Well, you would need to find a church, and then-”

“You boil the hell out of it!” Gabriel ignored his brother. “What hangs at a man's thigh and is used to poke a hole? A key, you perverts!”

Castiel rolled his eyes, “I've got a joke for you, Gabe.” Gabriel quirked his brow in interest. “How do you keep an idiot in suspense?”

There was a long silence as the two brothers stared each other down, Castiel's face stony as Gabriel glared.

The pause in Gabriel's never ending comedic tirade ended all too soon, and the two were forced to listen for the rest if the trip. Part of Dean was a little thankful for Gabriel's chattering, despite how annoying it was. Without it, Dean was sure he'd be a nervous wreck by now.

Even so, his gut was in knots when Castiel leaned over to whisper in his ear that they were almost there. His hands were shaking terribly in his lap. His alpha reaches over to grab them, squeezing them tightly with his own large hands.

“No matter what happens today,” Castiel said softly, “You will still have a family, Dean.”

Dean smiled softly and leaned into his alpha, breathing in his soothing warmth. Gabe made kissing noises across from them but Dean ignored him, choosing to remain there until the coach jerked to a stop.

“How do you wish to proceed?” Cas asked, “Would you like one of us to go in first? Assess the situation?”

Dean shook his head, “No, I need to do this. Gabriel should stay here for now, though,” Gabriel scoffed so Dean went on to explain, “If I show up with two alphas, John may take it as a threat.”

“Fair point,” Gabriel conceded.

Castiel climbed out of the coach first, holding his hand out for Dean. With a deep breath and a “Go get ‘em, tiger,” from Gabriel, Dean let his alpha help him down the steps.

Looking at the small, run down home in front of him, Dean's stomach dropped. It was the same home John had built when they had settled all those years ago. His brother had been here the entire time, right under Dean's nose.

From the outside, it looked as if the cabin could have been abandoned years ago. The windows were filthy and clouded, the siding chipped and caked in dust and dirt. The front door appeared to be just barely hanging on its hinges. This was where is baby brother had spent his whole life. A place he, too, had once called home.

“Ready?” Castiel asked, weaving their fingers together.

Dean nodded, afraid to open his mouth. With shaky legs, he shuffled to the door and tentatively knocked. Inside, there was a loud crashing noise followed by muffled cursing and then heavy footsteps moving towards them. The door flew open, and a man glared out at them. “What d'ya want?”

Dean gaped. The years had not been kind to John Winchester. The man who had always seemed larger than life to Dean now stood a few inches shorter than his son. His face probably hadn't seen a razor in years. His cheeks were sunken and his dark eyes bloodshot. His scent was laden in the sharp burn of whiskey in Dean's nose and he fought the urge to cover it with his hand. He immediately felt ashamed that this man was his father, and that his alpha lay witness to this.

Castiel gave Dean's hand a squeeze before stepping up. “Are you John Winchester?”

John gave Cas a once over and sneered, “What's it to you?”

“I’m Castiel Novak, and this-” He nodded toward Dean, “whom I'm sure you don't recognize after so many years, is your son, Dean.”

John jerked his head back to Dean, blinking a few times as if he wasn't sure what he was seeing. “Dunno what you brought ‘em here for. You want to return ‘em, take ‘em back to the institute.”

Dean's face burned and anger burned in his gut. Of course his father would jump to this conclusion. He had thrown Dean away, who wouldn’t he expect anyone else to do the same?

“I can assure you, I have no intention of returning Dean.” Castiel said calmly, “I've brought Dean here so he may see his brother. Is he home?”

John made a face, “Sam ain't here. That little omega bitch threw himself at the first alpha that looked his way and took off a year ago. Dunno what I did to deserve two pansy sons. Is this one still stupid? That why he ain't talkin’? No wonder you beat 'em. Probably doin' him some good, knockin' the bitch around a bit.”

Without warning, Castiel's free hand had landed a blow to John's face. The older man’s hand flew up to hold his presumably broken nose as blood seeped between his fingers. His eyes burned with rage as he seethed, Gabriel's laughter ringing behind them. At least the man had the sense not to fight back.

“Let me make one thing clear,” Castiel said sharply. “Dean Winchester is a better man than you could ever dream of being. The only bitch I see here is you.”

With that, he turned and tugged at Dean to follow, but Dean paused, unable to tear his eyes from the broken man in front of him.

John looked back at him, his shoulders slumped and eyes sadder than anything Dean had ever seen. The man in front of him was nothing. A sad shell of a man he didn't know.

“John…” Dean said quietly, “Dad. I know Mom's death killed you, too. I know it hurt. But you still had us. Your sons. You chose to drown your pain and turned your back on all you had left. You chose this, Dad. I used to think I hated you. But now, seeing you after all these years? I just feel sorry for you.”

He turned on his heel and let his alpha take him back to the coach. On the trip home, Gabriel kept blissfully silent while Castiel held his omega close.

“We’ll find your brother, Dean.” Castiel assured him. “I’m so proud of you, my strong, brave omega.”

Dean closed his eyes against brewing tears. He had imagined so many scenarios, but never once had he pictured this happening. His brother, his omega brother, was gone, run off somewhere with some stranger. He had no idea if his baby brother was safe, or even alive at this point.

Another thing that bothered Dean was the fact that Sammy hadn't been taken to the Omega Institute like Dean had been. Why did John decide to hang on to his youngest omega son, but banished Dean right after he presented? Dean didn't have to think about it much, since the answer was fairly obvious to him. Despite being an omega, Sam hadn't been broken like Dean was.

Castiel brushed away the falling tears from Dean's cheeks. “We'll find him, my love. I promise.”

Chapter Text

Over the following weeks, Dean spent most of his time alone with Claire. The pup was beginning to get more and more mobile, so it was easy to keep busy with her. Castiel tried to spend as much time with them as he could, but he and Gabriel had thrown themselves into trying to track down his lost brother.

To top it all off, Dean was beginning to feel sick. Most mornings, he had to run for the chamber pot to puke. He felt nauseous most of the day, but he didn't bother telling Castiel. His alpha had enough to worry about.

He decided not to help out on the kitchen very often as well, since all the mingling smells didn't do any favors for his weak stomach. He was sure to keep his face impassive when Charlie or Jo were around, since they would tell his alpha if they knew he wasn't feeling well.

“Are you sure you're okay?” Charlie would ask daily. He knew he hadn't been acting like himself since the terrible visit to his father's house. He knew he shouldn't let it bother him so much. It isn't like he expected much else from John, but he still felt overwhelmingly disappointed.

He would shrug and assure his friend that he was fine, just tired, and ask her about the latest staff gossip to distract her while he swallowed against rising bile.

Claire seemed to sense his poor moods and would make a point of climbing into his lap and dropping sloppy kisses to whatever part of him she could reach. Her babbles were growing into some actual sounds, and Dean was trying to work with her to say, “Dean.”

“De, de, de!” Claire would shriek, thumping her feet on the ground. It was close enough to his name that the day she said it, he cried happy tears until bedtime where he slept with a with a warmth he thought he'd never feel again.

Dean was able to ignore his unrelenting illness for a few weeks longer before Charlie walked in on him upheaving on the rug in the den.

“Dean!” She cried, helping him to the couch and grabbing Claire before she could crawl to the mess. “Are you alright? How long have you been feeling like this?”

Dean was shaking and his throat felt raw. “Dunno, it's been weeks, I guess.”

Charlie furrowed her brows and frowned at the omega, “Oh, Dean, if you've been like this for weeks, we need to send for a doctor. Something must be seriously wrong.”

Dean shook his head vehemently, another wave of nausea rolling through his stomach with the quick moment. “No, I don't need a doctor. It's probably just my nerves from all the stress with my dad and Sammy. I'm fine!”

“I'm sure Alpha Novak would insist on the doctor as well,” Charlie said, “Should I go ask him?”

“No! Don't bother him. Just…” He sighed, “Send for the doctor, I guess.”

With a short nod, Charlie did a quick job of rolling up the soiled rug before heading off to find a the messenger.

It was only hours later that Charlie and Jo led an alpha woman into the den. She had short brown hair and warm brown eyes, but she gave off an air of ‘all business’.

“Dean, this is Jody Mills,” Charlie explained, “She specializes in omega health.”

“Hi, Dr. Mills,” Dean smiled tentatively, shaking her hand.

Dr. Mill waved a hand through the air and smiled, “Please, just call me Jody. I hear you've been feeling ill for a few weeks now? Why don't you explain what you've been feeling for me.”

She took a seat next to Dean and Jo took Claire from him so he could focus on the doctor. “Well, I've been pretty nauseous for about...five weeks now. I throw up most mornings, and seems like most smells set me off too. Otherwise, I really feel fine. Like I told red here, it's probably just my nerves. Been going through a lot here lately.”

“Would you mind if I look you over? It would involve a bit of...invasive probing.” Jody asked.

“Uh...I guess?” Dean accepted, not totally sure what to expect.

Jody first had him open his mouth wide so she could look at his throat before he moved her fingers around under his jaw and across his stomach, pressing at the soft flesh there. “Now, I'm going to need you to take your trousers off if you're okay with that, and Charlie will need to hold your legs up so I can look you over.”

Dean hesitantly agreed and stripped off his trousers with flushed cheeks. He lay back on the couch and Charlie grabbed each of his ankles, holding them high and spread apart. He had never felt so exposed in his life.

The doctor shuffled through her black bag and came up with a clear jar of clear goo. She dipped a couple fingers in and spread it around until the fingers were fully coated. “This is going to be a little cold, and will feel a little weird but I'll make it quick.” She explained.

Before Dean could respond, the fingers plunged into his hole and he jerked at the cold invasion. He pressed around for a few moments before withdrawing her hand and wiping her hands off on a handkerchief. “Well, I believe I know what your deal is. I would advise calling your alpha in here before I break the news.”

Without a word, Charlie dropped his legs and darted from the room. With shaking hands, Dean dressed quickly and returned to his seat on the couch, his stomach rolling with nerves and nausea. If she wanted Castiel in the room, this couldn't be good.

Within moments, Cas and Charlie burst into the room, both flushed and out of breath.

“Dean! Why didn't you tell me you were ill?” Cas demanded, rushing to his omega. Dean only shrugged. “What did you find, Jody?” Cas asked the doctor.

“Well,” Jody said, her lip twitching into a smile, “What we have here is a pregnant omega.”

The room fell completely silent and the air felt like ice that would shatter at the slightest of sound.

“Excuse me?” Dean sputtered. “I haven't even...We've never...I'm a virgin!”

Jody drew her brows together and frowned, “Well, I'm not sure...you're definitely pregnant, Dean.”

Gabriel broke into a fit of giggles at the doorway. “Oh Cassie,” He said through his laughter, “Leave it to you to impregnate your omega with a come coated dildo.”

“I didn't…” Castiel gaped, his blue eyes wide and face pale, “I didn't even think that was possible.”

“Dean must be an extremely fertile omega for this to have happened.” Jody quipped, “I suspect he is about 7 weeks along.”

Castiel was growing paler by the second and Dean gripped his arm in a death grip. “Cas, it's going to be okay. I'll be fine, alpha.”

“Alpha Novak,” Jody said sternly, “I know what happened with your wife was difficult. It was a tragic, rare death. I can't make any promises to you as far as Dean goes, but I can promise that I will monitor him and your pup as closely as you need to assure you that they are both healthy and safe.”

Castiel turned to Dean and pulled him into an embrace, “I'm terrified,” he admitted, “but I'm also so happy. You are such a blessing, Dean. I love you, so much.”

“I love you too, Alpha.” Dean cried into his alpha's neck.

Dean's life was a mess, he knew. He had come here with nothing more than a wish to do a good job as a nanny, but he'd gotten so much more. He was engaged to a man that was putting off mating him out of respect for his dead wife. He had just seen his drunken father after nearly a decade and told him off after finding out his baby brother had presented as an omega and run off with some alpha. And now he was a pregnant virgin trying to track down his lost brother.

Yeah, Dean's life was a mess.

Chapter Text

“How would you feel about pushing up the wedding?” Castiel asked once they were settled in bed, Dean wrapped tightly in his arms.

Dean chewed his lip, thinking. He wanted nothing more than to marry his alpha, and to do it even sooner? That would be a dream. But another part of him was hesitant. Things were so all over the place, and unanswered questions concerning his brother were still eating away at his nerves. He couldn't imagine getting married without finding his brother first.

“Can we…can we wait until we find Sammy?” Dean asked quietly, hoping his alpha would understand. “I'd just really like it if I knew if he was at least alive first.”

“Of course,” Castiel agreed immediately, rolling over until Dean was on his back and he was propped up on his elbow, looking down at the omega. “Finding him will be top priority. I don't want you any more stressed than necessary,” He rubbed soothing circles around Dean's flat stomach, “We will find him, I promise.”

Dean leaned up to catch Cas’ lips in a quick kiss, “Thank you, alpha.”

“Of course,” He lay down and wrapped his arms around Dean once more. “Good night, my love.”

“Night, Cas.”

---

Jo stepped in to help with Claire more and more as Dean's morning sickness got worse. Dean hated feeling as if he couldn't take care of the pup on his own, but he had to face the facts.

Pregnancy was hard.

All he wanted to do was sleep, and it seemed his every waking moment was laden with unrelenting nausea. One of the only things Dean could choke down as honey toast, so Ellen was sure to keep plenty made for whenever he felt up to eating. Charlie kept close by, much to Dean's annoyance. He loved his good friend, but he loathed the idea of being babysat. He was a grown man, pregnant or not. It wasn't as though being pregnant made him an invalid.

He spent most of his days outside, since fresh air seemed to help settle the rolling tides in his stomach. Castiel and Gabriel spent a majority of their time holed up in Castiel's office. About the only time they would emerge was when Gabriel would run off to follow a lead on Dean's brother, and Castiel would take the opportunity to check up on his pup and fiance.

Dean ached to tag along with Gabriel, despite how irritating the man could be, in the event the short alpha was able to locate Sammy. He knew the young omega would be hesitant to trust a strange alpha, and he hoped his brother would hear the man out if given the chance.

“Gabe and I think we have an good lead on Sam, though it leaves me to worry for his safety.” Castiel admitted. “There was a beta named Azazel that was traveling near your old home around the time Sam left. This man was slightly...unhinged. He believed himself an alpha, and he travels looking for ‘students’. Our source was unclear as far as what Azazel imagined he was teaching them, though.”

Dean shivered at the thought of such a man luring his baby brother in to leaving with him. He could only hope his brother was smart enough not to fall for any tricks.

Days melded into nearly two weeks before a messenger was sent for Castiel. “What is it?” Dean asked as he watched his alpha read the note. The man was bald and his brows drawn. “Is it bad?”

Cas shook his head quickly, “No, no. Dean, Gabriel...he found your brother.”

Dean's heart soared in his chest as the news. That didn't explain Castiel's reaction, though. Why did he look so worried?

“He's alive, but he's in rough shape. In fact...Gabriel decided he couldn't possibly leave the other ‘students’ behind, so he is bringing them as well.” Cas said, his voice grave, “The man, Azazel, wasn't there. Possibly traveling to find more poor souls to claim.”

“What did he do to them?” Dean asked, scared for the answer.

Castiel shrugged sadly, tucking the note into his pocket and turning to his omega. He pulled Dean into a hug, “He didn't clarify in his note, but I suspect we should prepare for the worst if Gabriel decided it was enough to justify taking everyone. They should be here by tomorrow evening. I'll have the staff prepare the guest rooms and give Ellen notice that she should plan meals accordingly.”

With that, Castiel took off in search of Charlie. Dean slunk back to the his room, not up to Jo's questions in the den.

Sammy was alive. In rough shape, but alive. Dean could only hope he could help his brother through whatever he had been through, but without even the slightest hint to what had happened, Dean could only imagine the worst.

No, he had to stop. His brother was alive. Alive and being brought to him that very second. It wouldn't do to dwell on what he didn't know.

It was growing late enough in the day that Dean could justify retiring to bed earlier than usual. If sleep was the only way he could stop himself from overthinking, then so be it. It helped that it would bring tomorrow evening and Sam's arrival that much closer.

---

Dean woke before the sun. His alpha still slept peacefully, undisturbed as Dean rolled out of the bed to retch into the pot at the bedside. He cleaned his teeth quickly and dressed quietly before slipping out of the room.

Dean's trousers were growing tight around his waist, despite how little he had been eating, and Charlie would need to send for Rowena to create some maternity clothes for him soon. He was due for a check up with Jody, but counting the weeks in his head he knew he was nearing fifteen weeks. The little swell in his belly made him smile, despite the nagging nerves in his chest.

Later today, Dean would see his brother after what felt like a lifetime. Would he recognize him? The last time he saw the boy, he barely reached Dean's waist, and his brown locks hung in his hazel eyes. He had dimples in his cheeks when he laughed. Would Sammy recognize his big brother? Dean doubted both questions. A lot could change in so many years.

Dean popped into Claire's room to ensure the pup was still asleep and didn't need changed. Her diaper was fairly swollen, so Dean made quick work of swapping it out for a fresh one before lifting her up and settling her against his chest. He hadn't spent much time alone with his Claire bear, and breathing in her soft scent did wonders for his nerves.

The pair settled into the plush rocker in the corner of her room. For once, Dean was wide awake but he was content to rock the pup until the sun came up and she woke hungry.

Claire served as a welcome distraction for the rest of the day, between meals, a much needed bath after an unplanned mushed carrot food fight, and exploring everything she could reach by wiggling and crawling through the first floor.

Dean was surprised when Castiel came to alert him of the approaching coach, shocked to see that it was, in fact, nearly dinnertime.

Jo took Claire from him and disappeared to feed the girl so Dean could rush after the alpha. They both stepped outside to watch the coach pull to a stop. The door popped open and Gabriel was the first to hop out, leaning in to talk to the occupants. They were just far enough away that Dean couldn't hear anything the man was saying, but he kept motioning to the house and the two figures hovering at the front door.

The first to follow Gabriel out was a young woman with greasy brown hair and a round face. She stood close to the side of the coach, unsure. The next was a tall dark skinned man who had an unexpected air of confidence as he took in his surroundings. Then came another boy with an unshaven face and messy brown hair.

Gabriel ducked back into the coach, holding his hand out for the straggler. After a few moments of discussion, a tall young man let Gabriel helped him down the short steps. He was unusually tall, taller than anyone Dean had ever met. He was thin, his long-brown hair hung over his eyes and down to his shoulders. His shoulders were slumped, almost dejected.

Dean couldn't stop his legs from moving forward, vaulting himself down the steps toward the man before him. This was his brother, no question about it.

He stopped short, just barely talking himself out of throwing his arms around the scared omega. Sam was looking at him wearily, hazel eyes tired and bloodshot.

Dean cleared his throat, praying he wouldn't slur the first thing he said to his brother after so many years.

“Hey, Sammy.” Dean said hesitantly, offering a small smile.

Sam's eyes widened, taking over Dean once more. “De?”

Dean choked back a sob at the old nickname. He had nearly forgotten his baby brother had called him that. “Yeah, Sammy. It's me.”

Sam launched himself at his big brother, enveloping him in a tangle of his long limbs. “Dean,” Sam cried into Dean's neck. The two held onto each other for a long while, sniffling against long overdue tears and breathing one another in.

As far as Dean was concerned, he would stay there forever if it meant never losing his baby brother again.

Chapter Text

Eventually the group made their way inside. The three other omegas, Ava, Jake, and Andy, were shown to their rooms to wash up and get some rest after their long trip. Sam lingered next to Dean, eyeing Castiel wearily as they settled into the den.

“This is Castiel Novak,” Dean explained, “He's Gabe's brother, and this is his estate. He's also my fiance.”

Sam's eyes widened at the news, “He treats you well? Are you happy?”

“Yes, even happier now that you're here.” Dean said warmly, “He has a pup, Claire, who's almost nine months old now. And I have more news for you…”

Sam watched Dean pat his swollen stomach and his eyes grew impossibly wider. “You're pregnant?”

“Sure am, Uncle Sammy.” The two shared another hug.

Jo brought the men trays of sandwiches to eat as they filled Sam in on Dean's life. He kept things light and left out anything about missing his family so badly, or resigning himself to working for Missouri, as well as the misunderstanding with Cas that had sent him running back to the institute. It would be best not to upset the poor guy with the past, Dean decided. Instead he told him about Kevin, and who his friend worked for now, and gave him a run down on everything that led to him becoming Castiel's fiance. He was dying to ask what had happened with Azazel, but one look at his hollowed cheeks and bloodshot eyes, he knew it would be hard for the young omega to talk about. He would just have to wait until the two of them could be alone, hoping his brother would be more willing to tell him about it with a little more privacy.

But for now, it was getting late and Sammy was slowly sinking into the couch, obviously exhausted. “How about I show you to your room, Samsquatch?” Gabriel said cheerily, pushing himself to his feet. Sam didn't hesitate before slowly pulling himself out of the cushions to follow after the short alpha after a quick farewell between the brothers. Whatever had gone on when Gabriel found them had obviously earned him the trust of the young omega, which oddly pleased Dean. He didn't much care for Gabriel's antics, but he was a decent guy. Dean just hoped the man didn't get any ideas about his baby brother, considering their age difference. Gabe was in his early thirties. Dean really couldn't say much in that regard, he realized, when Castiel actually had ten years on him, too.

Deciding to set aside his concerns for now, Dean leaned into his alpha, heaving a happy sigh. “I can't believe he's here.”

Cas buried his nose in Dean's hair, breathing him in. “He seems to be a very intelligent young man.”

“He's always been a genius,” Dean said, pride lacing his voice. “Dunno where he got it from. And he got so damn tall. Seems pretty comfortable with your brother, too.”

Cas nosed his way down to the shell of Dean's ear, his breath hot against his skin. Goosebumps rose along his neck and he tilted his head, baring his throat to the alpha. “Gabe appears interested,” Cas said lowly, his nose now in the dip between the omega's neck and shoulder. “But despite his immaturity, he'll be respectful and wait a few years before he acts on it. I suspect your brother shares his interest.”

Dean nodded, distracting by the alpha's wandering nose and hands, which were gripping his sides tightly through his blouse. “Not that I'm complaining, Cas, but what's got you so handsy?”

Cas paused to press a kiss into the spot where a mating bite would usually go sending a spark down Dean's spine before pulling back, earning a low whine from the omega. “I apologize. Having so many new people here has me feeling a touch...possessive.”

“They're all omegas, Cas. Nothin’ to worry about there.” Dean teased, pleased nonetheless. “But please, don’t let that stop you.”

Cas narrowed his eyes, “I suggest we take this to our bedroom. I would certainly hate for one of the staff to walk in and see something they shouldn't.”

Dean didn't argue, quick to climb to his feet and pull the alpha behind him. Cas hadn't made a real move on him since he had fed on him, and even though Dean had no idea what had changed his mind, he wasn't about to miss this opportunity. He'd been dying for his alpha to have him.

Once inside the bedroom, Cas made quick work of locking the door and pushing Dean down onto the bed. Dean was thankful his stomach was still relatively small when Cas lay himself over him, careful not to press too much of his weight on the small bump, but enough so that every inch of them was touching.

The alpha kissed him hungrily, his tongue making sweeps of Dean's mouth that made him groan without any restraint. Cas used one hand to fumble with the buttons on Dean's blouse, using his other hand to pull him up enough to push the fabric off his shoulders. As soon as Dean's chest was bared, Cas moved away from the omega's mouth.

Dean barely had time to whine from the loss before the alpha was leaving a trail of wet kisses down his neck and chest, stopping to take a nipple into his mouth. He gave it a hard suck, earning just the barest trace of left over milk since it had been a while since Dean had last fed Claire. It seemed to satisfy the alpha, though, from the sound of his pleased growl. He continued to suck and lap at the tender nipple until Dean's gasps turned a touch pained from over sensitivity, and Cas moved to give his other nipple the same treatment.

Dean buried his fingers in Castiel's dark locks, tugging each time the man sucked or bit too hard. Dean's trousers were soaked in slick, and hole ached for the alpha to bury himself in it. “Cas, please.” He whined.

Castiel made a deep rumbling noise as he pulled his mouth away from Dean's chest and planted soft kisses across the arch of his swollen belly, his hands moving to untie and pull off the Dean's trousers. Once freed, Dean's cock slapped against his stomach and Cas stopped to nose at it.

Normally Dean didn't care much for giving his cock too much attention, since he always found more pleasure in teasing his hole, but the moment Cas slipped his mouth over the tip and sucked, Dean saw stars across his vision. He had never felt anything like it, had never heard of an alpha doing such a thing to an omega. The warm, wet heat of his mout was so much better than his own hand had ever felt. Normally alphas would be quick to shove themselves into a slick hole so they could pop their knot, not waste time playing with a useless omega cock. Of course, Dean shouldn't have been too surprised that his alpha would be different. He definitely wasn't like the average alpha knothead in any other aspect of his life, so why would that be any different in bed?

Cas worked Dean completely into his mouth, which was actually quite a feat. He was fairly well endowed for an omega. He bobbed his head, lapping and sucking as he went until Dean tugged at his hair in warning, “Cas, I'm gonna-”

The alpha buried his nose against the soft curls there and hollowed his cheeks until Dean came down his throat. He pulled off with a pop, a droplet of come in the corner of his mouth and he grinned up at the omega, “Good?”

Dean yanked the man up and kissed him, licking into his mouth to taste himself there. It shouldn't have been as much of a turn on as it was, but it was enough to already have his cock twitch in renewed interest.

“Very.” Dean said, his voice rough. He could feel the alpha's own erection pressed against his thigh through fabric, which brought up the question, “Why are you still dressed?”

Cas chuckled and sat up to pull off his own shirt. “I was too distracted by my beautiful omega,” he said as he worked his way out of his trousers next. “Couldn't wait to taste you.”

Dean flushed and his eyes dropped to the alpha's cock. It was big, much bigger than his own, and already had an obvious swell to where his knot would pop to tie them together. It was already dripping at the tip, and Dean's hole pooled with more slick at the sight.

“I want...” Dean trailed off, embarrassed to ask.

Cas crawled back over him until his eyes were inches from Dean's own. “What do you want, omega?”

“Your knot.” Dean blurted, cheeks flushing. “Please, alpha. I don't think I can wait any longer.”

Cas shushed him with a sloppy kiss before his hand moved between Dean's legs, his finger circling his hole. “I wouldn't dream of denying you any longer,” Cas growled, pressing his finger in without warning.

Dean threw his head back and panted as Cas worked him open with his fingers, his mouth sucking marks into his neck. By the time he had four fingers thrusting into Dean, the omega was a slick babbling mess, murmuring pleas for more.

“Ready?” Cas asked, already lining himself up. Dean nodded quickly. The alpha grasped his hips, lifting him up a bit before he pushed in. Once he was completely buried, he paused so Dean could adjust, for which the omega was grateful. He had never felt so full in his life, so split open.

He moved his hips the slightest bit, experimenting to see if he could take any movement and the two groaned at the same time from the sensation. “M’ ready,” Dean panted, “Move please, Alpha.”

Cas didn't waste a second pulling his hips back and slamming them back in, earning a sharp gasp from Dean. Cas lay back down against him, sealing their mouths together as his hips snapped in a brutal pace, unable to slow down after waiting so long. Dean was more than happy with it, especially when Castiel's knot began to swell and push at his rim.

“Knot me,” Dean begged against the alpha’s mouth, “Knot me, Alpha, please.”

With one more thrust, the alpha's knot pushed into Dean and he came hard between their stomach, his hole clenching against the alpha's cock. Cas groaned and came inside him, and Dean swore if he hadn't just orgasmed, he would have from that sensation alone.

Cas carefully pulled Dean to his side so they could lay facing each other, still tied together. “It's been a very long time since I've knotted anyone,” Cas admitted, “It could be at least an hour before it goes down.”

Dean sighed happily, burying his face into the alpha's neck. “Could be like this forever and I wouldn't mind.”

Cas hummed in agreement. He shifted and wiggled despite Dean's protests until he got the blanket pulls out from under them so he could cover them up. Returning his arms around his omega, he rubbed soothing circles into Dean's back. “Get some sleep now, Omega. I expect we'll have a busy day tomorrow.”

“Love you,” Dean murmured into the alpha's chest.

“I love you, Dean.” Cas said quietly as his omega drifted off to sleep against him.

Chapter Text

Shortly after breakfast the following morning, Jody arrived for Dean's bi-weekly check up. After looking him over and declaring him to be in top shape save for a little swelling in his ankles, Castiel asked her to give the new arrivals a once over as well.

The head alpha and his omega allowed the new omegas their privacy and kept to the halls as Jody conducted her examinations, including Sam’s. Dean hovered outside his brother's bedroom door as his alpha looked on, knowing better than to try to settle the worried omega. He hoped his brother was well, despite how frail he looked. Nothing a few hearty meals couldn't fix.

Once Jody emerged from Sam's room, a grim frown upon her face, Dean's stomach sank. “What is it?”

Jody ushered the pair further down the hall for some semblance of privacy before explaining. “They all complained of the same symptoms,” Jody said quietly, “Aches and sweats, disorientation, nausea...They're early symptoms of withdrawal. I only know this for certain because Sam was able to recognize his captor was drugging them. From what he described, it sounds like Azazel was giving them very strong doses of raw opium. I'm afraid these poor omegas will have a painful, difficult road ahead of them.”

Dean gripped Castiel as he checked back a sob. “What do we need to do?” Castiel asked.

“Keep them hydrated. Feed them light foods, nothing too heavy or their stomachs won't accept it. Keep their fevers as low as possible. Be prepared for them to hallucinate, possibly even become violent. I don't want to cause any more worry than necessary, but it's important that I'm honest with you both. I have seen many not make it through the withdrawal when it comes to raw opium,” Jody said sadly, “I'll come as often as I can to help. Send for me if you need me, day or night.”

“Thank you, Jody.” Castiel dismissed the good doctor, already pulling Dean into his arms. “I'll assign staff to tend to each of them day and night. We'll get them through this, Dean.”

Dean nodded slowly, his throat thick with emotion. “I gonna go talk to him. You go fetch the staff, Alpha.”

With a quick kiss to Dean's temple, Cas did as his omega ordered and left Dean trying to settle his distressed scent a bit before he dared enter his brother's room. Eventually satisfied that his scent wasn't too terribly bad, Dean pushed into Sam's room without bothering to knock.

His younger brother was curled up under the thick blankets in the bed, face pale and glassy eyes trained on his older brother.

“Hey, Sammy.” Dean said, hoping the boy hadn't noticed the crack of unshed tears in his voice. “How you feeling?”

“Never better,” Sam smirked. “Did the doctor tell you?”

Dean nodded, fidgeting. He wanted nothing more than to lay beside his baby brother and comfort him, but he wasn't sure Sam would appreciate being coddled by a near stranger, brother or not. The older boy's chest ached looking at his sickly brother. He had only just gotten him back, and already he had to worry about losing him again.

Sensing his brother's wish, Sam shuffled over and lifted the blanket in an invitation. Dean wasted no time crawling under the covers and curling up to his brother, sending him a grateful smile.

“Can I ask you something?” Dean whispered, grabbing Sam's cold hands on the sheets between them, hoping to offer his warmth.

“You just did,” Sam smirked again, but he nodded as well, “Go ahead.”

“Why did you go with this man? Was it really better to go off with this stranger than stay with Dad?” Dean asked.

Sam sighed, his eyes falling closed. “I thought so, at the time.” He admitted, “After Dad left you at that institute, he become even more cold and careless. I think he felt guilty, abandoning you. He drank more, if you could believe it possible. I was so alone. I was tired, trying to take care of him and myself and working whatever odd jobs I could find in town just to put food on the table. I was just waiting until I presented, praying I'd turn out to be an omega too. I hoped that he would send me off to the institute, too, so I could find you. I was a late bloomer, but my heat finally hit when I was fourteen. I was so happy, despite how awful it was. But then the end came and went and Dad didn't send me away. Either he didn't want to be alone or he didn't want anymore guilt on his shoulders, so he kept me.

“I was miserable. He would disappear during my heats, leaving me alone for days with no food or water. Then he would come home drunk, pissed the house reeked of distressed omega in heat. I couldn't take it.” Dean squeezed his brother's hands as he spoke, feeling horrible that his brother had been so neglected for so long. “One day I was shining shoes in town when a strange beta stopped me. He was wearing alpha cologne, as if it would help him pass himself off as an alpha, but that stuff always smells so...artificial, it doesn't fool anyone. But he was nice. He could see that I was struggling and he basically offered the answers to all my problems on a silver platter. Claimed he ran a safe house for neglected omegas. He could provide warmth, food, even schooling if I wanted it.”

Dean could see how such an offer would easily reel his brother in. Sam had always been smart, could have made something of himself if he'd been allowed to attend school, but John had claimed it was a waste of time.

“I didn't even hesitate before I agreed. He sent me home to pack a bag and told me to meet him in town that night. I left John a note. Made up a story about finding a mate and running away with him.” Sam went on, “Things were fine at the ‘safe house’ for a while. I really bonded with the other new omegas. He fed us well, and there really was a tutor there. Then our heats hit. He told us he had an experimental medicine that would ease the pain. I thought it was kind of weird we had to smoke it, but we all took it anyway. He gave it to us daily and we slept through our heats. For a while, he only gave it to us during our cycle, but we all started to crave it. Got sick unless he would give it to us. This went on for two years, up until Gabriel found me.”

Dean blinked away tears and pulled his brother to his chest. “I'm so sorry, Sammy.”

“Wasn't your fault, De.” Sam mumbled against his blouse, “At least we're together now.”

The brothers soon drifted off to sleep, holding one another close.

---

Over the next few days, the omegas began to fare worse and worse. By day five, Ava was seizing and hallucinating, and Andy was being kept on ice to aid his burning fever. Jake seemed to be the healthiest, and was mostly just plagued with severe nausea and fatigue. Dean could barely bring himself to sit with his brother, leaving Gabriel to keep him company instead.

He felt incredibly guilty, steering clear of his brother. It broke Dean's heart to sit at his bedside and watch the young man thrash and cry, seeing things that were not there. Just that morning he claimed the devil himself was sitting upon the desk in the corner, singing sea shanties.

Castiel stuck close to his omega, hoping to soothe him as much as possible. The older man feared the stress was doing too much harm on his pregnant fiance. Distress was far from healthy for his growing pup.

He did his best to distract the younger man by taking him outside often, going as far as taking him out to the apiary to tend the bees. He packed picnic lunches to share in the garden and read to him in bed for hours on end. They played with Claire often as well, though Jo had taken over many of the duties when it came to the pup.

This was another thing Dean felt guilty for; not tending to Claire as much as he used to. He knew he had valid reasoning, but he couldn't help but feel like he was failing everyone that needed him.

Jody made sure to check in on him as well anytime she came to look over the other omegas. This time around, Dean was laying across his bed on his back, shirt pushed up so that his stomach was bare so Jody to push around on it. What she was looking for, Dean had no idea.

“You must be eating well,” Jody chuckled, “You're belly is bigger than it usually would be at fifteen weeks.”

Dean shrugged, ignoring the fact that his doctor may or may not have just called him fat. “I wouldn't say I've been eating any more than usual. Cas usually has to make sure I'm fed, if I'm honest.”

Cas nodded beside him, helping Dean to sit up and fix his blouse. “With everything that's going on, Dean tends to forget meal times unless I force food upon him.”

Jody hummed but just shrugged, “Well, everyone's bodies are different and no pregnant belly looks the same. Everything looks perfect either way.”

“When do you think we'll start to feel movement?” Castiel asked, rubbing the omega's belly. The man always seemed to have his hands on Dean's bump, not that he would ever complain. He relished the alpha's touch.

“Probably not for another few weeks. It'll start off as a little flutter, nothing that you would be able to feel from the outside.”

Castiel frowned, his face bordering on a pout and Dean chuckled. “Be patient, Alpha.”

“Well, fellas, I think it's safe for me to head out. Just continue taking it easy, Dean.” Jody announced, packing her bag. “I know that's a difficult request, but your brother is doing well. I have no doubt that he's going to be fine.”

The knot in Dean's chest eased a bit at the doctor's words. If she was comfortable enough to tell him his brother would be fine, he knew she meant it. “Thanks, Jody.”

It was late enough that Dean talked Cas into going to bed early, not that it was difficult to do. The alpha was quick to do anything his omega requested, which Dean shamelessly took advantage of often to ask for foot massages to ease his swollen ankles.

Dean was able to fall asleep easily. He had his alpha's arms around him, one beautiful pup sleeping peacefully just down the hall and another pup healthy and growing inside him, and last but certainly not least, his baby brother was going to be just fine. For the first time in a while, Dean was able to fall asleep with a smile upon his face.

Chapter Text

Dean woke to a dimly lit room and an empty bed. He wasn't sure what exactly woke him, but a nervous twist in his gut told him he should get out of bed and find out. Dean rolled out of the bed and slipped on his house coat before quietly making his way into the hall.

At the far end of the hall, one of the doors to a guest room was cracked open, a soft light illuminating from inside. He knew it wasn't Sam’s room, his was just s few doors down from Dean's own, but he knew one of the other three omegas was using it.

He stepped quietly closer, careful to move around any of the creaking floorboards. Once he drew closer, he could hear murmuring voices from inside, one distinctly belonging to his own alpha.

“Where was the maid assigned to her?” Castiel asked, tone angry despite being hushed. “This could have been prevented, I'm sure of it.”

“You can’t blame Hester, Cassie,” another voice, Gabriel answered. “She needed a trip to the privy, she's only human.”

Cas sighed, “I know. This shouldn't have happened, though. I swore I'd help them, yet this young woman passed in my care.”

“You can’t blame yourself either, Castiel.” Gabriel snapped, “If anyone is to be blamed, it's that sick beta, Azazel.”

“You're right.” Castiel conceded. “He needs to be found and stopped before he does this to any more omegas.”

“I couldn't agree more. I'd also like to know just what he hoped to accomplish, taking in a bunch of omegas just to get them hooked on opium. Why go through the hassle? It doesn't sound like he made any advances on any of them, either.”

Cas hummed thoughtfully, “I cannot even begin to guess what he intended. As soon as things are a bit more settled and the rest of our guests are healthy, we will assemble a pack to hunt him down. First things first, though, I should find Bobby and have him prepare a grave for Ava.”

Dean moved back when he heard footsteps coming toward the door, not bothering to hide himself. Cas frozen when his eyes fell on the omega. “Did you…?”

Dean nodded, “What happened?”

Castiel grimaced, “I'm not sure you really want to know the details.”

Gabe popped up from around his brother's shoulder, “From the looks of it, she was laying on her back when she vomited. She was too out of it to roll herself over, and she choked.”

The omega could feel the blood rush from his face, realizing his alpha had been right. He definitely didn't need to know. All he could imagine was the feeling of choking on his own bile, and he began to feel sick.

“Gabriel!” Cas growled at his brother. Without waiting, Dean turned and dashed down the hall and back to their shared room and falling to his knees in front of his chamber pot just in time to release the bile burning in his throat.

Moments later, warm hands were rubbing soothing circles across his back, and Cas was brushing sweat stuck hair from his forehead. “Its alright, Dean. She probably wasn't even aware. Ava was basically comatose when she choked. She isn't suffering any longer.”

Dean fell back, letting himself collapse into his alpha's arms. “It could have been Sammy,” he said, his voice shaking almost as bad as his body.

“It wasn't.” Cas said firmly, gripping the omega tightly. “Sam is improving. He always had a maid in the room with him, as well as Gabriel, excluding his absence just a moment ago. We won't let anything happen to him, my love. I swear.”

---

Everyone reached a mutual decision that none of the other omegas would be informed of their friends passing until they were feeling a bit more themselves. Dean wished they could wait to bury the young woman until the others could attend and give her the funeral she deserved, but there was no telling when that could happen.

Instead, Dean found himself standing outside the following cold morning beside Castiel, watching as Bobby and Garth eased the omega's pine coffin into the hole that Bobby had dug for her at the edge of the estate. There were a few other graves there as well, belonging to Castiel's family had lived there before him.

They stood together silently watching until the two betas had gotten the dirt back into the hole and packed down, a wooden cross fixed at the head with Ava's name and date of her death carved into it.

Dean stayed there even after the two betas had gone back to work. He stayed until Cas wrapped his arm around the younger man's shaking shoulders and led him inside. Even in the warmth of the house, Dean couldn't get the image of the fresh grave out of his mind, but fear had replaced Ava's name upon the wood with his brother's.

---

Dean decided to get over whatever fear had been keeping him from Sam's room and paid him a visit. Gabriel, who had been lounging on the bed next to the young omega, set aside the large book he'd been reading aloud and stepped out to give the brothers a bit of privacy. Rachel, the maid who had been tending to him for the day stepped out as well, leaving the two completely alone.

Sam's eyes were clearer than they had been the last time Dean had visited, though he was still pale and shaking with a fever.

“How you feeling?” Dean asked, feeling a bit stupid asking such a question.

Sam shrugged, “The devil isn't dancing on my pillow anymore, so I'd say I'm feeling a good deal better.”

Dean was able to chuckle a little, satisfied with his brother's response. He moved to sit next to Sam on the bed, picked up the wet rag Rachel had left on the bedside table and pressed it along the boy's temple. “Gabe driving you mad yet?”

“Nah, he's been great.” Sam said, averting his eyes with what Dean realized was embarrassment. “He's a good guy.”

Despite the older alpha's rowdy personality, Dean couldn't help but agree. “He is. You like him?”

“Sure, he's been a good friend to me.”

“Not what I mean,” Dean smirked, “Do you like him?”

A light flush spread across Sam's pale cheeks. “I know he's a good deal older, but I can't help it. He smells amazing. I thought so the moment he found me at the safe house. I caught his scent and it was like, for the first time, I felt…” Sam drifted off, trying to find the words.

“You felt like you'd found home?” Dean guessed, smiling softly at his baby brother.

Sam nodded, “Exactly. Did it feel like that with Castiel?”

“I don’t think I really realized it at first, but yeah, it did.” Dean admitted.

Sam smiled, “I'm glad you found him, Dean. You deserve all of this.”

“Thanks, Sammy. You do too, for the record. Even if it has to be with Gabe.” Dean pulled a fake grimace.

Sam whacked at his brother weakly, “Shit up, jerk.”

“Bitch.” Dean retorted.

The two snickered at each other before falling silent.

“Dean?” Sam eventually whispered.

“Yeah?”

“I really missed you.” Sam said quietly, his chin quivering. All of a sudden, Dean could see the baby brother he had been forced away from so long ago, and his heart broke at the time lost all over again.

He shuffled down into the bed and pulled Sam into a hug, squeezing tighter when the younger boy began to cry against him. “I'm here, Sammy. I'm not going anywhere. Never again.”

---

Dean spent most of the following week in his brother's room, only coming out to check on Claire and eat at least one meal with Castiel.

Slowly but surely, the three remaining omegas grew steadily healthier until Jody deemed them capable of returning to day to day life.

When Castiel broke the news to them that they had lost their friend, they all agreed they'd grieve on their own in lieu of holding some sort of service for her.

Andy seemed to be the most upset, having returned to his room to mourn, and Dean briefly wondered of their relationship hadn't been a bit more than friendly. If it had been, that wasn't for Dean or anyone else to question. It was definitely rare for two omegas to be together in that way, but as far as Dean was concerned, love was love, despite any secondary genders.

Jake, who had grown antsy sitting around the house for so long, had been sent out to the stables to see if Bobby could use a hand with some of the chores. Castiel had offered to hire him on as a stablehand, should he be interested in obtaining a position in the household. Jake seemed more than pleased to accept, though he'd been ordered not to work too hard until he's fully recovered.

Charlie and Sam became quick friends as they poked fun at Dean who rolled his eyes at their antics but couldn't bring himself to be truly annoyed. He was too happy that Sam was fitting so seamlessly into his life here. Even Claire took a quick liking to him, pulling herself into his lap and pulling at the young omega's long hair.

“I could go get the shears and take care of that for you,” Dean offered as his brother grimaced at yet another painful tug at his hair.

“Hah hah.” Sam grumbled, easing the pup out of his lap where she whined until Dean handed her one of her favorite stuffed bears.

Castiel had taken Gabriel up to his office to discuss strategies for tracking down the infamous Azazel, and Dean couldn't help but be a little nervous. He hoped his alpha didn't plan on taking it upon himself to go out and search himself. Maybe it was a little selfish, but Dean didn't want to be away from his alpha. Especially if his alpha might be putting himself in danger.

Jake eventually returned to the den, tired from working with the horses after being bedridden for so long. “Hey, Sam, did you know there's a horse with your name?”

Sam whipped around to gape at his brother who just shrugged, “Ain't my fault he looked like a Sammy to me. You two have the same long mane and knobby knees.”

Sam squawked in indignation and launched a throw pillow at Dean's head. Dean returned the attack with a throw pillow of his own, and Charlie quickly joined the battle. Jake saved Claire from the line of fire, shaking his head at them all.

“Just what kind of household did I get myself into?” Jake muttered to the pup in his arms.

“Only the best,” Charlie crackled, bouncing a pillow off of Sam's head, “Welcome to Eden Estate, bitches!”

Chapter Text

Dean felt like he was constantly holding his breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. There hadn't been much talk from Castiel or Gabriel about how they planned to find Azazel, and the not knowing was driving the omega mad. Dean suspected his fiance knew that the omega dreaded the thought of him leaving and putting himself in danger, but there wasn't much else to be done.

Castiel had gone to speak with the local law enforcement, but Sherriff Hansum had said their hands were tied. Since the omegas had all gone with the man willingly, and had willingly accepted the drugs, in the eyes of the law Azazel hadn't done anything wrong. The odor of the alpha's anger when he had returned that night had sent most of the staff scurrying.

It was nearly a month later that Gabriel put his foot down. “What are we just sitting around for? That dick needs to be found and stopped. Who knows who else he's been drugging in all this time we've wasted! I know you don't want to leave Dean-o, him being knocked up and all, Cassie. I'll go alone if I have to.”

Sam dropped the book he'd been paging through with a loud thump. “Like hell you will! What if he's not alone?”

“Sam's right,” Cas said, glancing at Dean next to him. The guilt Dean saw swimming in the alpha's eyes made his chest seize. “You won't be going alone. We shouldn't have put this off for so long.”

“No,” Dean scrambled for the alpha's hands, “Please, you can't go. We don't know what he's capable of!”

“We can’t just not do anything,” Sam said from across the room, eyes down to avoid his older brother's glare. “Would you really rather we sit back and allow him to take advantage of other omegas?”

“No,” Dean admitted, his voice thick with tears. “Is there no one else that can go?”

“The larger our group, the better. I imagined I'd ask Gadreel and his brother Ezekiel to come along, and Jake has already requested to join us.” Castiel explained, “I don’t want to leave all of you unprotected, so I plan to leave Bobby here. I'll also request Sheriff Hanscum send someone to patrol the area until we return.”

“There's nothing to worry about, Dean.” Sam said, drawing closer. “Azazel was always alone when I was there. There's no way he'd try to take on a whole group on his own. Cas will be back in no time, safe and sound.”

Dean nodded, not trusting his voice. “It's getting late. We should all call it a night. I'll make arrangements tomorrow.” Castiel decided, standing up, pulling Dean up after him. Without so much as a goodnight to the others, Dean waddling after the alpha, his chin trembling.

He knew his hormones were mostly to blame for his reaction. He hadn't been without his alpha in months, and the thought of sleeping without him made his inner omega whine.

Once they reached their room, Cas helped Dean sit down on the edge of the bed. His belly had grown considerably in the last month, which made even the simplest of tasks difficult and exhausting. Dean was grateful to have such a considerate alpha who was willing to help him with whatever he could. Which, at night, mostly consisted of helping Dean out of his clothes and into his oversized nightgown.

Dean's chin trembled the entire time, and as soon as Castiel had him dressed, he sighed. “You don’t know what it does to me to be the cause of your pain.”

Finally the need to cry became too much and tears slipped down Dean's cheeks. “I'm being stupid. It's just these damn hormones. I know you’ll be fine. I just...I'll miss you.”

Castiel swooped down to pepper Dean's face with soft kisses, “Don’t ever claim what you're feeling is stupid. I'll miss you too, omega, every second that I'm away. What can I do to make it easier for you?”

“I want to feel you after you're gone.” Dean said, his cheeks flushed. They'd had sex many time since the first time, but it seemed no matter how much experience he gained, the omega couldn't help but be embarrassed to talk about it. Growing up at the institute, Missouri frowned upon talking about such intimate topics. It seemed to be one of the many habits that stuck with the omega.

Castiel growled low in his throat and wasted no time leaning in and kissing Dean, his mouth rough. They were a mess of tongues and teeth and spit, shoving off clothes, not caring if anything was ripped in the process.

Dean favored lying on his back so he could see his alpha, but the bigger his belly got, the more uncomfortable the position became. This time, Dean was quick to push off of the alpha and crawled to the middle of the bed, resting on his hands and knees, giving his hips a slight shake in an unnecessary invitation.

Cas launched himself up the bed and gripped Dean's hips hard enough he knew his fingers would leave lasting marks. He pulled Dean's cheeks apart with his thumbs and leaned down to breathe in the sweet scent of the omega's slick. The alpha was sure he could get drunk of the smell alone. With a quick nip to one cheek, earning a yelp from Dean, he dove in to lick up the slick pooling around the omega's fluttering hole.

Dean was already wrecked, moaning the alpha's name into the pillows, shoving back against the tongue at his hole. “Cas, please, just-fuck! Please, alpha, I need you inside me.”

Castiel pulled back, cocking his head in a way Dean found down right adorable, “Already? I haven't quite opened-”

“Don’t care,” Dean whined, “I'll be able to feel you longer. Please, Cas. Alpha.”

The alpha growled. Unable to deny his omega, he scrambled up, nipping and licking his way up Dean's back. Without warning, he lined himself up and thrust into the omega. Dean whined deep in his throat and Cas froze, “Are you alright?”

“Yeah,” Dean panted, grinding back against the alpha. “Yeah, Cas. Feels so good. Move, alpha, please.”

Castiel wasted no time setting a bottle pace, his hips snapping harshly against Dean's. His omega wanted to feel him after he was gone, and he was going to make sure he delivered.

Dean whimpered and whined, the pleasure almost overwhelming. His breathing stuttered when he felt the alpha mouthing and nipping at his throat, his knot starting to grow against the omega's rim. “Do it.” Dean begged.

Castiel paused, his mouth still on the dip between Dean's neck and shoulder. He nipped, almost a question, and Dean nodded wildly. “Yeah, Cas. I don't want to wait anymore. Please, Alpha.”

Castiel whined but didn't answer. Instead his hips slowed down, pushing harder and harder until his knot was thrust into Dean. The moment they tied together, he latched onto Dean's neck and sank his teeth in.

Dean's vision went white and he came hard into the sheets below him. By the time he could see again, Cas had them settle on their sides, his cock still deep inside of him. Dean's neck was throbbing pleasantly, and every inch of him was screaming mate, home, safe.

“Are you alright?” Cas asked softly, running his hands over Dean's belly, soothing the pup wiggling inside.

Dean shuffled until he could get a good enough angle to pull the alpha into a kiss. “‘M perfect, Cas.”

Castiel chuckled, his blue eyes sparkling. “Yes, you are.”

---

The next day saw Castiel rounding up his troop. Gadreel and Ezekiel, an alpha who it turned out was the beta's twin and also worked out in the fields with Garth, were quick to agree to go. Bill, Ellen's husband, had even volunteered. With them, plus Gabriel and Jake going, Dean felt a bit more at ease with the whole situation. He still wished his alpha, his mate was not going, but at least he knew the man would be well protected. Castiel was a well respected alpha who took good care of his staff, which meant they would do whatever it took to see him home safely.

After a short trip to town, Castiel returned with news that Sheriff Hanscum was happy to send her Deputy, Benny Lafitte, first thing in the morning to stay at the estate until the head alpha returned.

Between all of this and getting supplies packed for their trip, the day went far too quickly. The night saw Dean laying sleeplessly next to his sleeping mate, taking care to memorize every line and mark on the man's face. He wanted nothing more than to wake the alpha, if only so he could memorize the blue of his eyes as well, but he knew the man would need his rest.

Morning came all too soon.

Deputy Laffite was punctual, arriving just as the sun broke over the horizon. The man was an alpha, and Dean could tell by the way Castiel's shoulders tensed that his mate wasn't so sure about leaving him with an unknown alpha.

“Relax, Cher.” The deputy said, his smile kind. He pulled down his collar to reveal a mating mark. It wasn't common for alpha's to have their own mark, so it was obvious the man was truly committed to whoever had put it there. The tension slowly eased off of Castiel's shoulders. “I'll take good care of your family, brother.”

“Thank you, Deputy Laffite.” Castiel said warmly, shaking the man's hand.

“Call me Benny.”

“Benny, then.” Cas amended before pulling dean closer. “This is my mate, Dean. He'll be in charge while I'm gone.”

“Nice to meet you, Cher.” Benny drawled, knowing not to offer his hand to shake. Castiel may have been willing to allow the mated alpha to watch over his mate, but he definitely wasn't comfortable with a strange alpha touching him.

Dean rolled his eyes at his posturing alpha but smiled all the same, his chest warm at his protectiveness.

Benny ambled away to familiarize himself with the floorplans and staff, leaving the couple alone by the coach. The others had all already piled inside, ready to get on the road.

“You'll be careful?” Dean asked quietly, pressing his face into the alpha's shoulder.

“Of course, Dean.” Cas promised, “I'll be home as soon as I can, and then I will never leave you again.”

“You promise?” Dean pulled back, tears threatening to spill over.

Cas pressed a kiss to his forehead before breathing in deeply, soaking in as much of Dean's scent as possible. “I swear it.”

Dean nodded, pulling back until just their hands were touching, before finally dropping them as well. He turned on his heel, unwilling to say goodbye or watch his alpha leave him, and waddled back inside to cry in private.

Chapter Text

Hey everyone! I realized it's been about 2 weeks since I last updated and I wanted you guys to know that the new chapter will come soon!

I've been dealing with some personal things plus writers block on top of that, so each paragraph is coming to me super slowly. It's an important chapter, so I dont want to push it and post something I'm not happy with, either.

So, I haven't forgotten you guys! Just working on giving you the quality content you came for :)

Thanks for your patience!

(Sorry if you got excited for a new chapter only to be told to wait even longer, haha.)

Chapter Text

“I fold,” Dean sighed, dropping his cards to the table. Charlie snickered from across from him. Sam and Andy had folded two turns ago and now it was down to Jo, Charlie, and Benny.

It had been after a sullen dinner that Jo had whipped out a deck of cards, much to her mother's dismay, and declared that she wouldn't put up with everyone's moping, they were playing poker, and participation was mandatory. Dean hadn't argued, more than happy for any distraction, though it had taken a few hands for him to learn how to play. Even so, he was definitely glad they were playing for chocolates that Charlie had found buried in the pantry rather than money.

“Four of a kind, bitches!” Charlie shouted, spreading her cards out. Jo rolled her eyes and dropped her hand, folding.

Benny’s eyes twinkled as he lay his own hand down, revealing a royal flush. “Don't celebrate too soon, darlin’.”

Despite Charlie's sputtered claims that Benny had to be cheating, everyone shoved their piles of chocolates toward the deputy who was more than happy to collect his winnings.

Ellen rose from her seat at the table with a sleeping Claire on her hip, “Better be calling it a night soon,” she ordered the group, “Joanna Beth, you put the pup to bed so I can do up some dishes before the grime sets.”

Jo huffed but pushed away from the table to do as her mother asked. Dean ached to take Claire himself, but his belly had begun to get so large that it was just too uncomfortable to carry the growing pup up and down the stairs himself.

Catching the frown on Dean's face as he watched Jo disappear with the pup, Benny pushed over a pile of his loot with a wink. “You need ‘em more than I do, I think.”

Dean mumbled his thanks and dug into the chocolates, ignoring his brother's disapproving frown. “You shouldn't be eating sweets, Dean. It's not healthy. You and the baby would both benefit more from some nice greens, instead. I was reading-”

“I ain't a rabbit, Sammy, and I ain't giving birth to one either.” Dean interrupted his brother, grinning, his mouth still full of chocolate.

“Gross, Dean.” Sam rolled his eyes before turning to the deputy. “Are you going to do another once over of the property before you call it a night?”

“Was planning on it, sure.” Benny agreed, “I've got a cot set up in the main hall, that way I can keep an eye on the front and back entrances. Bobby’s set up outside. Got ya'll covered.”

Despite the man's reassurances, Dean's stomach was a nervous pit. Rationality told him that as a newly mated and very pregnant omega, his body was just reacting to being away from his alpha, and he was perfectly safe. Even so, he doubted he would get much sleep until Castiel returned. He wished he knew how long this whole mess would take. He especially wished he knew his alpha was safe.

Benny excused himself to start his rounds, and only Sam, Charlie, Andy and Dean remained. Andy looked half asleep in his seat. Dean finished off the last of his chocolate-the pup kicking away in his stomach with the sugar rush.

“It's getting pretty late,” Charlie announced, “Want me to help you get ready for bed, Dean?”

 

“I'm pregnant, not an invalid.” Dean grumbled, pushing away from the table. “Nah, I got it. Thanks, Charlie.”

Dean waddled his way up the stairs, careful to watch his step and resolutely ignoring the fact that he could no longer see his own toes under his protruding belly. He stopped off in Claire's nursery to peak in on the already snoozing pup. With a gentle kiss to her soft curls and a whispered goodnight, he shuffled into the room he and Cas shared.

The room felt foreign to him with the lack of Castiel's boots by the door where they usually sat, and the alpha's scent was far too faint for Dean's liking since Charlie had changed the bedding that morning. He mentally kicked himself for not thinking to stop her. It would have been easier to fall asleep if he had been able to bury himself in the hefty aroma that was all Cas. He would just have to make do with cuddling the older man's pillow and hope that would suffice in dulling the ache currently in his chest.

---

It felt like Dean had only just closed his eyes when he heard distant crying, startling him awake. Realizing Claire must have woken up, he eased himself out of the bed's warmth and shuffled out of the room and down the hall, wiping at his bleary eyes. Claire was full on wailing in a way that Dean had never heard from her before, and he briefly wondered if the poor pup knew her daddy wasn't around, and if that was what had her so upset.

Pushing through the door, his blood ran cold.

The unfamiliar shape of a man stood over Claire's crib, his back to the door. The acrid odor of false alpha pheromones coated the air, strong enough Dean could only just smell how distressed his pup was.

“Get the hell away from her!” Dean snarled, his hands fisted and ready to strike the man.

The man glanced over his shoulder as if he hadn't a care in the world, a small smirk on his face. What really startled Dean was the man's yellowed eyes, which made him look even more sinister. “How nice of you to join me,” he said, his relaxed tone only barely audible over the sound of Claire's crying. “Saved us the trouble of coming to find you.”

Before Dean could spring forward and attack the way he itched to do, cold hands wrapped around his arms, yanking them behind his back. Hot breath on the back of his neck made him recoil, pulling away only to be jerked back with a painful jolt to his shoulders.

“Now, now, omega.” A nasally voice cooed into Dean's ear, the man's hot breath rolling against the omega's neck. Dean recoiled, which only earned him another harsh yank to his arms. “My, my. This one looks about ready to burst, Azazel. What a nice, pretty little package deal this one is.”

Dean whipped his head back to the man by Claire's crib, Azazel. The man who had been collecting wayward omegas, drugging them, keeping them for who knew what sick and twisted reason. The man his alpha was currently hours away searching for.

Azazel turned, Claire squirming in his arms. The little girl was doing everything her power to push herself away from his chest, tears and snot still streaming down her face as she called for Dean. “G-give me my p-pup.” Dean stuttered, the panic and fear making his mouth freeze up once again. He'd meant to sound like a strong, protective omega, but his damned head had betrayed him.

Azazel smiled fondly at the struggling pup in his arms, ignoring Dean's weak demands. “When Samuel first came to stay with me, he told me he had a big brother. A little damaged, but a good brother. Your daddy never told him where you were, but when Sammy told me about you disappearing, I knew you must have been at that institute. A broken thing like you, I figured you'd still be there. I'd take pity on the poor, abandoned omega. I was going to collect you and add you to my collection, even.” Finally he looked up at Dean, his yellowed eyes grazing over every inch of him. “Imagine my surprise to find you had already been claimed. Carving out your own little family, no less.”

“I'd love to help you carve out this pup,” The man holding Dean back breathed into his ear. He easily held both of Dean's wrists with one hand, bringing the other around to drag his nails across the swell of the omega's stomach.

Dean jerked, “Get your hands off me, you sonofabitch.”

“No, Alistair,” Azazel shook his head, smirking fondly at the other man. “Not yet, anyway. We need to finish collecting what is ours.” With that, he hefted the still squirming pup onto his hip and breezed past them to the door.

Alistair twisted until Dean turned, forcing him to follow.

“I believe they should all be in the den by now. With the poor excuse of a guard out of the way, Gordon and Christian should be more than capable of collecting the others.” Azazel spoke over his shoulder.

“What'd you do to him?” Dean demanded, dreading the answer. Even so, it didn't escape his notice that they only mentioned one guard, meaning one of the two men hadn't been caught. Dean allowed a small glimmer of hope at that.

“Don't you worry, Omega,” Alistair cooed, continuing to shove him forward roughly. “The old man is still breathing. For now, anyway. He's just a little tied up at the moment.”

Bobby, then.Dean thought. Which meant Benny was still around here somewhere, and hopefully with a brilliant rescue plan up his sleeve.

They followed Azazel into the dimly lit den. Castiel never had any of the help working at night, which meant the oil lamps and fireplaces were put out each night. Dean considered the fact that none of the maids were bustling about and were all safely tucked away in their quarters. The less people caught up in this mess, the better.

Dean was pushed onto the sofa next to Andy, who was shaking violently with fear. Sam perched on the other side of him, glaring at Azazel, barely sparing Dean a glance.

In the corner, Dean spotted Bobby folded up against the wall, his arms behind his back and ankles tied firmly together. He was pale and blood dripped from his forehead, but his chest rose and fell evenly.

Behind the couch stood two other men, both also freaking of the fake alpha pheromones. One was a shorter, lean man with a smug smirk that Dean ached to claw off his face. The other was a tall and broad dark-skinned man, his dark eyes intense.

Azazel's gaze flicked between the omegas, eyebrows scrunched together. “I know our dearest Jake joined the hunt, but where is my lovely Ava? Did you idiots let her get away?” He asked, moving to look at the men behind the couch.

“She wasn't here, sir.” The dark-skinned man said.

“Well? Where is she?” Azazel asked, eyes narrowed at the omegas. When no answer came, he moved closer, crouching in front of Andy. “I know you two were good friends, Andrew. Don't you want her to be with you? Hmm?”

Andy whimpered, shaking impossibly harder. The room was silent, except for Claire's hiccuping whining while Azazel waited for his answer. Finally Sam sighed and spoke up, “She's dead. She didn't make it through the withdrawal.”

With a long, drawn out sigh, Azazel stood back up and looked down at Sam in sad disappointment. “This is why you shouldn't have left. I said I would take care of you all, keep you safe. You didn't listen, and you ran away with those good for nothing alphas and what happens? You get one of your own kind killed.”

“She died because of you, asshole.” Sam growled.

“You've got it all wrong, Samuel.” Azazel said, looking down at Claire and running his dirty fingers through her curls. “I take good care of my omegas. I was merely medicating you all to help you through your heats. Would you rather have been bred before you were ready? Suffer through the heats with nothing to ease the pain? I gave you all everything you needed. And yet you repay me by allowing my darling Ava to die a needless death.”

He shook his head sadly, coiling a curl around a single finger. “I fear I can't just let this go unpunished. It's only fair-a life for a life.”

Dean's eyes followed the expanding claws on Azazel's free hand, moving toward the innocent pup on his hip.

He did the only thing he could think of, he leapt up and attacked.

Chapter Text

Dean Winchester never considered himself to be particularly violent. He had very little experience when it came to fighting, in fact. Growing up with Sammy, the younger boy was always far too hesitant to rough house with his big brother, too scared of accidentally worsening Dean's head injury with a stray elbow. At the institute, Missouri had strict rules when it came to acceptable behavior. Obviously rolling around and putting one another in headlocks was at the top of her ‘do not’ list.

Even so, Dean knew he wasn't weak. He was taller and stockier than the average omega, and had spent many years doing most of the heavy lifting at the institute. He had a decent layer of muscle. He was also fiercely loyal and protective of his family, and would stop at nothing to keep them safe.

Since no one had really been anticipating the heavily pregnant omega to be the one to pounce, no one was close enough to stop him from diving straight for Azazel's jugular, his omega rage having brought out his fangs.

Dean whipped around behind the beta, one hand tangling into the man's thin hair to yank his head back so his throat was properly exposed, the other digging into his shoulder to keep him in place. The hand Azazel had been bringing up to the pup's throat froze as soon as Dean's incisors grazed against his pulse point.

Alistair glowered and dived forward to pull them apart, and Dean growled, biting down just hard enough to break the skin and make Azazel hiss in pain. “Stop! Get back, Al.”

Still glowering, Alistair stepped back and Dean pulled his mouth back, “If you don't want me to rip your throat out right this second you sonofabitch, I suggest you hand my pup over to Sam. Now.

“Fine, come and get her, Sammy boy,” Azazel said with a smirk, holding the crying child out. Sam stumbled to his feet, wide eyes shifting between the man and Dean's hold on him, before he quickly pulled Claire from his grasp.

The moment Claire exchanged hands, Dean received a sharp blow from Azazel's elbow to his side-just enough to weaken his grip-and Azazel pulled free. Within the blink of an eye, their positions were switched and it was Azazel's teeth at Dean's throat, his nails digging into the swell of his belly.

Dean was frozen in fear for his unborn child, now at the mercy of a deranged beta. His eyes swept the room, skipping over the smirking faces and glares from the other beta men, Andy who looked close to tears as he cowered into the couch, and locked on Sammy. The boy's eyes were the size of saucers and his chin trembled as he fought the urge to cry. Dean knew the feeling, the burn of agony in the back of his chest. They had only just found each other again, gotten Sam healthy, and now they were going to be torn apart once again- quite literally, this time around.

He dropped his gaze to Claire, meeting the blue eyes that reminded him so much of their alpha. Her blond curls stuck to her wet cheeks and she whimpered when she locked eyes with Dean. She struggles in Sam's arms and her small hands made grabbing motions towards Dean as she let out a shrill, “Dee!”

“Its okay, Claire bear.” Dean said weakly, wincing as his adam's apple bobbed in his throat and brushed against sharp teeth. “Ain't gonna let them hurt you, pup.”

“Not that this isn't touching and all that, but can we get a move on?” The shorter beta, Christian, muttered. “Should kill him and get the others outta here before the staff wake up and all hell breaks loose.”

A metallic click came from doorway and everyone's attention snapped over to find Benny filling the doorway with his bulky frame. “Did you idiots really think Novak would leave his family behind with nothing more than the groundskeeper for security? Y'all really are dumber than you look.”

Benny surveyed the situation, gun trained on the beta at Dean's throat, his eyes flickering between the omegas on the couch and Bobby still slumped over in the corner. Satisfied that everyone seemed to be unharmed, he narrowed his eyes at Azazel. “Unless you have a death wish, might I suggest you let Novak's mate go?”

Azazel's mouth pulled back, but his grip on the omega tightened. “Now, now deputy.” He said, his voice cool and even, unfazed by the gun aimed at his head. “Put the gun down and let's talk this over like gentlemen.”

“Not sure what there is to talk about,” Benny said lazily. “As far as I can tell, you've got all of two options. You either let him go and leave peacefully...or I shoot you right between those yellow eyes of yours.”

Azazel hummed by Dean's ear, pretending to think it over. Across the room, Christian and Gordon were growling, ready to fight. Alistair was closest to the door where Benny stood, glancing between the alpha and his beta boss, looking entirely too hopeful for an order to attack.

“That doesn't sound entirely fair, deputy. I've come to collect my omegas, and I don't intend to leave empty handed.”

Dean was shoved forward with no warning, landing hard on his hands and knees, and a sharp cramp course through his stomach. Gunfire pulled his attention back to what was happening and he crawled as quickly as he could to where Sam and Andy were huddled on the floor by the sofa, Claire safely sheltered between their bodies. Another shot rang out and Dean scrambled up to his knees to peer over the couch, praying that their savior had been on the receiving end of the second bullet.

At the door, Benny was fighting off both Christian and Gordon, all three of them grappling for the gun that lay halfway across the room. Azazel was crumpled to the floor, blood seeping into the rug beneath him. Alistair was doubled over, hands gripping his bleeding abdomen. The gun lay only a few feet between the beta and Dean, a fact they both seemed to discover at the same moment.

They both kept forward, heads knocking together, hands overlapping over the cool metal. Blood was smeared across Dean's fingers, both sets of hands slippery as they pulled against each other. A foot shot out and kicked at Dean's side, and Dean threw his elbow out blindly in retaliation, connecting with the beta's nose with a sickening crunch. It was just enough to make the man pull back for a moment, enough time for Dean to yank the gun to him.

Dean had never been so close to a gun before, let alone knew how to work one. He wrapped his hands tightly around it, finger on the trigger-

A heavy body fell into him and Dean's head slammed back against the corner of the cherry wood coffee table, the gun pressed between them as it fired. His ears were ringing, the room growing darker each time he tried to blink against blurring vision. He could think, he couldn't breathe, his chest was too heavy-.

---

“Dean! Dean, wake up!”

“You have to move back, brother. Give the doc some space to work.”

“Like hell-”

A muffled thwack. “Don't be an idjit, boy. Let Jody work!”

Dean was tired. He couldn't remember the last time he felt so worn to the bone. He wanted to open his mouth, tell everyone to just shut up and let him sleep. His head hurt something fierce, and his whole back felt like God himself was scolding him in a vise grip, the pain radiating in pulses through his stomach. He didn't want to be awake if this was how it felt.

“Dee?” A sweet voice said by his ear, a tentative hand patting at his hair. “Dee, Dee, Dee.”

And dammit, he was going to have to open his eyes if only to put the pup at ease.

His eyes flickered open only to clench shut against the blinding light filtering in through the windows. “Sonofa-”

“Hey there sleeping beauty,” Jody said merrily over Dean's grumbling. “Head hurting?”

Dean scoffed, daring to crack an eye open just enough to look at the doctor hovering over him. “Ain't too bad.”

Jody hummed, unconvinced. “Close the blinds, could you Sam?”

Once the room was safely bathed in semi darkness, Dean opened his eyes again. Claire was smiling brightly by his head, hand still petting him. “Hey there, Claire-bear.”

“Dee!” She squealed, sending another shooting pain through the omega's head.

Dean put a finger to his lips, “Have to be quieter, pup. Dee has an ow-y on his head, and loud voices make it hurt. Kay?”

“Ow-y?” Claire peered down at him, her lips pursed and eyebrows drawn together. “Ow-y!” She repeated and dropped down to give Dean's forehead a slobbery kiss. She sat back up, smiling proudly.

“All better! Good job, Claire!” Jody grinned as she ruffled the pup's curls. Claire deemed Dean's ow-y officially healed and forgotten as she climbed to the edge of the bed-had Dean been on a bed this whole time? He hadn't even realized he'd been moved.

“So, what the damage, Doc?” Dean asked, trying to push himself up against the pillows. Sam jumped to his rescue and helped him rearrange enough that he was propped up against a pile of pillows.

“Well, you cracked your head again and most likely fractured your skull again. It was already a weak spot thanks to your lack of treatment for the last fracture. A head can only take so many hits, kiddo.” Jody cocked an eyebrow at him. “Think you can try to keep yourself out of danger from here on out?”

“Depends, we got anymore psycho beta's roaming around here?”

“Well, Azazel is dead. You were able to bring down Alistair before you got knocked out, and And Bobby here,” Sam explained, clapping a hand on the surly man's shoulder. “Finally woke up to join the party and helped Benny take out the other two.”

Bobby rolled his eyes, “Ain't my fault they knocked me out. Didn't see you jumping in to help the deputy either, idjit.”

Sam scoffed, “Please, after being drugged for years I've got the muscle mass of a puppy. What good would I have done?”

Jody cleared her throat loudly, glaring at the bickering men though her eyes showed amusement. “Anyway, Dean. As for your pup- you took some good blows to your stomach. Luckily, the pup is pretty protected in there, but I checked you and you do have some spotting. Do you feel any cramping?”

Dean nodded, “Back hurts, too.”

“Thought so. I suggest you stay in this bed until I clear you to deliver. Any strenuous activity could push you into early labor. You're still only about twenty-four weeks, so definitely less than ideal for a healthy birth.” Jody explained.

Dean sighed, already dreading not being able to stay busy. He bit down the urge to complain, knowing it wouldn't do him any good. He had to do what was best for his pup. He looked over to Bobby, “Any idea where Cas would be right now?”

“Sheriff Hanscum left to track him down as soon as she cleared everything here. Alpha Novak mapped out their expedition before they left, left me a copy which I gave to her. Shouldn't be more than a day away.” Bobby said, then squirmed an eyebrow, “But when he hears what happened, I'm sure he'll practically fly home to make sure you're really still kickin’.”

“So…now we wait?” Dean asked.

“Now we wait.” Jody confirmed.

She patted Dean's hand as he slumped back into the pillows and huffed. “Great.”

Chapter Text

Hello wonderful readers!

I'm sure you've figured out by now that I'm on a bit of a hiatus and will continue to put this on hold for the time being... but don't worry, I will finish this.

Life has been rough, and usually I'd love to write to escape but it just hasn't been working for me.

My daughter and I have been homeless since the beginning of February and needless to say, it's been difficult. I've come to learn who I can count on it isn't many people. But I know I can always count on the kindness of this fandom to send some positivity my way :)

I remember the first time I read more into Misha and his childhood, and thinking how hard it must have been for him and his family when they were homeless, and how strong his mother had to have been to get them through it and raise such wonderful children. Now I know first hand just how hard it really is, and I can only hope my daughter can learn and grow from these experiences just as Misha did. I know I certainly have.

I hope someday I can meet Misha and let him know just how much his own story encouraged me to keep going when I wanted to throw in the towel (which was a LOT).

I know a fanfic on AO3 should probably be the least of my concerns right now, but I don't have much in my life that I'm proud of. The fact that I have so many people that read and enjoy my story makes me feel good, so it makes me pretty sad that I can't even muster up the energy to write the few chapters I have left to finish this fic.

Anyway, I just wanted to update those of you who have been so patiently waiting. Thank you for your kudos and kind comments. They've helped more than you can ever know ❤

As suggested, here's my tumblr that does have a PayPal link if anyone would like to help me out. I have no idea if I linked this correctly or not, so hopefully this works!

https://kavern225.tumblr.com/

Chapter Text

The following night, Dean had Charlie set up a cradle for Claire to use in his room. After everything that had happened, just the thought of her being out of sight made his pulse race. Charlie and Jo, ever the most patient of friends, indulged his fears and had even taken to joining him in his room to watch Claire. They were a good distraction, sharing stories about their time at Eden Estates and teaching him new card games.

 

The room was fairly spacious, but the by the time Sam had joined them and set up a camp of his own in way of a cot in the corner, things were getting crowded. Dean couldn't bring himself to mind it, though. There was safety in numbers, after all.

 

Dean knew that the danger had passed, but part of him was still afraid the rogue betas had more friends out there, waiting for an opportune time to come to avenge their fallen comrades. Sam assured him that he didn't remember seeing anyone else during his time with Azazel, but even so, the paranoia ran rampant inside of Dean.

 

Sleep made it worse. 

 

Gunfire would echo in Dean's ears, and all he could see was crimson staining the rugs and lifeless, accusing eyes. “Murderer. Murderer. Murderer.” An eerily familiar, nasally voice would whisper behind him, and he would jolt awake with the sensation of hot breath against his ear.

 

Laying in the dark room, listening to Sam and Claire's soft, even breathing, Dean was wide awake, the words still swirling in his head. It was a well deserved death, he knew. Alistair and all the others were monstrous people who, left alive, would have only gone on to destroy more lives.

 

But that didn't mean it had been easy for Dean. He had been caught up in an adrenaline rush, willing to do anything to protect his family. He hadn't even been aware of himself when he'd pulled the trigger. Violence just wasn't something Dean was accustomed to. Being apart of so much death and savagery had Dean completely off kilter. He wishes he could sleep and dream of nothing at all. 

 

Instead he lay awake until the first hint of morning light peeked through the curtains and a new day began.

 

---

 

The day was passed much the same as the last. Everyone crowded into Dean's room to entertain and distract him, which was getting harder and harder to do the more restless he became. His back ached, and his legs felt jittery from lack of movement. Beyond getting up to relieve himself, he wasn't allowed much activity at all. 

 

Ellen hand delivered his lunch, shooing everyone out so he could have a bit of quiet as he ate. She was quick to notice the bags under Dean's eyes. 

 

“For a man on bed rest, you sure do look tired, honey.” She hummed, climbing into the bed to sit beside him. She wound an arm around his shoulders, bringing a hand up to run her fingers through his hair.

 

Dean leaned into the touch and sighed, “Had some trouble sleeping last night.” He admitted before spooning a bite of tomato rice soup into his mouth. He groaned around the food, eyes slipping closed. An early memory of his mother feeding him the same soup so long ago popped into his head and suddenly there were tears streaming down his cheeks, his whole body trembling. 

 

Ellen pulled the omega against her chest, gently adjusting him until his nose was buried in her neck in an effort to sooth him with her scent. “Its gonna be alright, sweetheart,” she said softly as Dean clung to her. “You just let it all out.”

 

It felt like forever before the tears dried up and Dean was left sniffling into Ellen's soaked shoulder. He knew he'd be embarrassed about it later, but right now he was going to take all the comfort he could get.

 

“You wanna tell me what set you off?” Ellen asked quietly.

 

Dean shrugged against her, “My mom used to make tomato rice soup when I was sick. I kinda forgot about it until I tasted yours.” He took in a stuttering breath. “I had nightmares last night. ‘Bout killing Alistair.”

 

Ellen pulled him in tighter, “Don't you regret what you did. He deserved that and worse.”

 

“I know, believe me. After what those bastards did to Sammy… I just never thought I'd be able to do something like that. They threatened my pup, my family, and it's like I saw red. I couldn't stop myself.” Dean took a shaky breath and rested a trembling hand on the swell of his belly, “I could have gotten this pup hurt, or worse.”

 

“And if you'd done nothing, you both could have been hurt...or worse.” Ellen's hand joined his on his belly, rubbing soothing circles against him. The pup wiggled inside, its foot popping forward to kick at their hands. Ellen smiled softly, “I'm so proud of what you did, Dean. Your alpha will be too.”

 

Dean doubted pride in his omega was what Cas would be feeling about everything that had happened in his absence. If he knew his alpha at all, the man would be angry. Not at Dean, or anyone else, but at himself for not being there to protect them.

 

Which was, in Dean's opinion, pretty dumb. None of them had thought that the betas would have been reckless enough to come to the estate looking for the omegas. Despite Dean not wanting Castiel to leave, he knew what the alpha had told him before was true. If they hadn't gone looking for them, just let them go free, other vulnerable omegas would have been in danger. It had all been one big, awful mess but in the end the betas were no longer a threat to anyone, and his alpha would just have to accept that.

 

Dean was more than ready to be in his alpha's arms again, ready to tell him everything that had happened and reassure one another that they were both alright. The pup inside of him seemed to agree as it grew more and more restless through the day, kicking and elbowing everything surrounding it. 

 

He had just fallen asleep when the pain slammed into him.

 

If Dean had ever gotten tangled in the grip of a boa constrictor, he assumed it would feel fairly similar to the contraction that refused to let up. What could have only been seconds felt like hours before his muscles relaxed and he could breathe again. 

 

“Dean?” Sam had woken up at some point and was now hovering over his brother, concern etched into his face. “I can smell your pain. What's hurting?”

 

"S-send for th-the doc-c," Dean breathed, the pain and exhaustion making his stutter impossible to suppress. 

 

Sam was out the door before his brother had even finished his request, his scent heavy and laden with fear. He was back with a small entourage only moments later. Jo was quick to pluck Claire from her cradle and whisk her down the hall so she wouldn't be overwhelmed by everyone's sour scents. 

 

No one had to say anything as the next pulsing contraction washed over him. Dean knew by the mix of worry, anxiousness, and resignation in everyone's eyes that it was too early to deliver safely. He had to fight it, had to hold it in, keep the pup safe. Had to wait until his Alpha could get here, Cas had to be here for the birth of his child, he had to-

 

"Just breath, honey," Ellen was brushing sweaty clumps of hair off his forehead. "Doc will be here real soon. Just gotta keep breathing."

 

Easier said than done. His head was starting to hurt almost as bad as the searing cramps in his abdomen, and everything seemed to be squeezing the breath straight out of his lungs. "C-can't," He bit out.

 

"I've been where you are, son." Ellen reminded him, "I know you're hurting somethin' fierce. I'll be right here to help you."

 

A new pain swept over him, an empty ache in his chest so strong that it sent new waves of salty tears down his pale cheeks. "Sh-should be C-Cas. Can't d-do this without him."

 

"'Course you can," Jody announced, a determined steel in her voice as she rushed into the room. She dropped her doctor's bag with a heavy thunk before pulling his sheets aside. "Let me just check you, see how dilated you are and go from there, okay?"

 

Dean heaved out a breath and nodded his assent, grateful the doc had made it so quickly. Ellen handed the doctor a pillow and helped Dean lift his hips enough to allow the other woman to slide it under him to allow easier access to his hole. He watched as the doctor ducked under the blanket. 

 

She emerged a second later and gave him a small smile, "You're only about 2 centimeters. Good thing too. This early, I have a better chance at putting it to a standstill." She dug around in her bag, coming up with a needle and some tubing, as well as a small glass vile. "I'll have to inject it into a vein. Ellen, could you pass me my antiseptic?"

 

Ellen quickly passed it along and gripped Dean's hand as Jody wiped the cool liquid into the crook of his arm. "This definitely isn't a long term solution, but the longer we can keep that pup cooking, the better. You'll feel a pinch."

 

Dean winced as the needle pushed into his arm, followed by the burning rush of the medicine flowing in. She slid the needle back out and covered the injection site with a plaster before packing up her bag. "There, that should hold you off for a bit. Ellen, is there a spare room I can commandeer until we're ready for this pup? Think it'd be best if I stay close by."

 

"Absolutely, just down the hall." Ellen stood, patting Dean's hand before pulling away and leading the doctor out. Sam crept over from where he'd been hovering at the end of the bed, eyeing his brother warily.

 

"Still in pain?" The younger man asked as he sat carefully on the edge of the bed. Dean shook his head, to worn out to even muster up a real response. Sam took pity and pulled the blanket up to his brother's chin, tucking him in like Dean did for him so long ago. "You get some rest. I'll be here."

 

---

 

What could have only been hours felt like days later that Dean stirred, breathing in the scent of home and comfort. Eyes still closed he wriggled under the blankets to nuzzle into the warmth beside him, sighing deeply when his nose found where the scent was strongest. He purred, content and sleepy. 

 

The solid bulk under his hand rumbled with it's own deep purr in response, startling the omega into a more awake state and a hand shot up to card through his hair, calming him. "Shh, it's alright Dean. It's only me."

 

Dean's heart felt close the bursting with relief and happiness when his eyes locked with his Alpha's own beautiful blue ones peering down at him. "Cas?"

 

"Hello, Dean." Castiel smiled warmly, moving his hand from the omega's hair down to the swell of his belly, "I was so worried I wouldn't return home in time for this little one's arrival."

 

Dean clutched at the Alpha, drawing him impossibly closer. "You nearly didn't. Doc had to give me some kind of medicine to stop my labor. After everything that happened…" He trailed off, suddenly worried about how much, or how little, his Alpha knew. 

 

Castiel tensed, swallowing down the anger at the reminder of the intruders. "Yes, Sam informed me of what I've missed. He told me about you, how you saved our Claire." His voice wavered, and Dean feared the man was close to tears. "You could have been killed and I wasn't here to keep you safe. As your Alpha, my duty is to protect you and I...I failed you, omega." 

 

"Hey, none of that " The omega said firmly. The alpha looked away, shame clear in his eyes. Grabbing the man's chin, Dean forced him to meet his eyes again. "You couldn't have known they'd come here. You were trying to do the right thing, going after them. You did everything you could to ensure we would still be looked after here, having Benny stay with us. Alpha, you could never fail me."

 

They were both crying now, tears streaking down their cheeks. Castiel pushed his face into the crook of the omega's neck, his whole body shaking. "I could've lost you, Dean. I can't lose you."

 

"I'm here, Cas. I'm not going anywhere." Dean soothed him, brushing his fingers through the man's dark locks as Cas had done for him only moments ago. "Did Sam...d-did he tell you that I..."

"That you ended the life of a murderous criminal in order to protect our family?" Castiel propped himself up and cupped the omega's cheek in his hand, brushing his thumb across the frown lines he found there. "I couldn't be more proud of you, Dean. I love you."

Dean gulped against a sob of relief. His alpha still loved him. Fresh tears fell from his eyes as his Alpha gathered him back into his arms. They lay intertwined together until their tears dried and their breathing leveled into sleep.