“So, what’d the therapist say? He fix you yet?”
Cas rolled his eyes, even though Gabriel couldn’t see him over the phone.
“You’re hilarious as always,” he deadpanned as he continued pacing back and forth in his bedroom.
He had only had his first appointment today and even though he hadn’t wanted to go in the first place, it hadn’t been as bad as he had imagined.
“I try,” Gabe said, and Cas could practically hear his smirk.
He sighed and sat down on his bed. Time to talk to his brother about why he had called.
“Doctor Fuller thinks I could get the panic attacks under control…”
“That’s great, Cassie!” Gabe interrupted, sounding genuinely excited for him.
“…if I regularly scent an alpha relative,” Cas finished.
There was pause on the other end of the line.
“We don’t have an alpha in our family anymore,” Gabe finally said as if Cas didn’t know that.
“He said a friend would work as well,” Cas continued and was interrupted by his brother once more.
“You don’t have any alpha friends, either.”
“I am aware of that, thanks,” Cas replied. He looked down at the piece of paper he held clenched in his hands. “I just… I want to get better. If I have another attack in front of customers, I’m going to get fired,” he explained.
Gabe immediately went into protective brother mode.
“Hannah can’t do that. She said you could keep working there if you got help. You’re getting help. Plus, it’s been months since you had an attack that severe. It was just bad luck.”
It hadn’t just been ‘bad luck,’ but Cas decided not to get into that again. Instead, he took a deep breath and said, talking quickly to get it all out, “Anyway, Doctor Fuller said that as long as the scent is comforting to me and makes me feel safe, the chances are good that regular scentings will help prevent further incidents, so I’m thinking of finding an alpha to scent. And I need you to tell me that that’s a good idea.”
“Cassie, that’s a great idea! I’ve been telling you to get out there and cruise for some alpha knot for ages. Do you need me to set you up? I think I still know some alphas down there—I’ll just give them a call. Maybe I should come visit you and introduce you personally…”
“What are you talking about? I’m not looking for a fling,” Cas had to cut his brother off. “I was talking about putting an ad in the paper—or maybe on the noticeboard of the bookshop.”
Then, “An ad?”
“Yes.” Cas looked down at the piece of paper again and read out what he had come up with so far, “‘Alpha Needed: Looking for an alpha with a calming scent, preferably mated, for scenting purposes. Twice a week, one hour. Pay: $20 per hour plus expenses.’ Does that sound okay? I’m not sure if I should clarify that it is just me scenting him and not the other way around.”
“It sounds like you’re insane,” Gabe said. “What’s with the ‘mated alphas preferred’? As if any omega would just allow their alpha to go off and let some other omega scent him.”
Cas shrugged. “I don’t want it to be weird.”
“This is very weird. You’re weird.”
Cas rolled his eyes again—he did that a lot when talking with Gabe. “Thanks.”
Gabriel just ignored him. “In that case, I rescind what I said earlier. This is a crazy idea. You will need to scent someone with a ‘calming scent’ so that you can calm down enough to meet up with a strange alpha in the first place. Hey, you could put up an ad for that.”
Gabriel was laughing at his own joke and Cas waited for him to fall silent again before he said, a bit petulantly, “I’m fine with alphas as long as they’re not in a pack. I can deal with them one by one in a professional manner.”
“You mean as long as it’s not two or more?—Hate to break it to you, lil’ bro, but two is hardly considered a ‘pack.’”
“That was one time. Usually I can handle two without a problem. It’s three where I start to get uncomfortable.”
Of course, Gabe knew that, but he liked ribbing Cas about things like that. Cas would never admit to it out loud, but he liked the fact that Gabe was so direct about it, not mincing words. It was a hell of a lot better than being treated with kid gloves when the topic came up. Somehow, Cas suspected Gabe knew that…
“I doubt anyone will be dumb enough to answer the ad anyway. But keep me posted so that I can tell you ‘I told you so,’ ’kay?”
Cas shook his head, unable to suppress a smile. He could read between the lines. That was clearly Gabe’s way of telling him to go for it. “You’re ridiculous,” he stated nevertheless.
“Love you too, lil’ bro.”
The ad had to be one of the strangest Dean had ever read—and he had seen ads for knot enlargements and beta cockblockers. But he could really use the extra money. Sam’s student loans didn’t pay for themselves. Plus, sitting around and letting someone scent him? Easiest twenty bucks an hour ever.
The ‘preferably mated’ part had thrown him off for a second, but he doubted mated alphas were going to respond, so here he was. About to enter the coffee shop his potential new omega ‘employer’ had suggested as a place for the job interview.
Taking a deep breath, Dean pushed open the door and looked around for someone who was wearing a trench coat. His eyes finally found the omega in the far corner—he was actually wearing the trench coat, even though he was inside. He had a few sheets of paper in front of him and was doodling around on them.
Suddenly, the omega looked up and his eyes instinctively landed on Dean, who gave him a casual wave and wandered over.
When he had reached the omega’s table, he had to keep himself from staring because—whoa! That was one sexy omega. If he had met him in a bar, he’d have let him scent him for free. Seriously—easiest twenty bucks an hour, ever!
“Uhm… Dean. Winchester,” Dean remembered to introduce himself as he held out his hand.
The omega squinted at the hand and for a moment, it seemed like he wouldn’t take it. But then he did as he said, “I know. I have the interview schedule right here.”
Dean glanced at the paper with the doodles in the margins. Wow—that was a long list of names. Seemed like other alphas had had the same thought about easy money. A few of the names were already crossed out.
“Castiel—you can call me Cas.”
Dean nodded, finally let go of Cas’ hand, and sat down.
“So… If you’ve already had some interviews, I guess this isn’t a first come first serve kind of deal?” he asked.
“I specifically asked for a ‘calming scent,’” Cas said, wrinkling his nose, which looked kind of cute. “Up till now, I’ve had one who smelled like dead fish, one who smelled like rotten fungi, and one who actually smelled like anger issues.”
He was squinting at Dean again, tilting his head as if he expected Dean to admit to smelling like rotten something. They stared into each other’s eyes for a few seconds. Cas had really beautiful eyes…
“May I?” Cas asked abruptly, reaching for Dean’s hand.
Dean could do nothing but nod as Cas brought Dean’s wrist to his nose and inhaled deeply, closing his eyes.
A few seconds ticked by in silence and then Cas let go of Dean’s hand, which promptly fell down onto the table between them.
He opened his eyes and said, “You’re hired.”
“What, seriously?” Dean asked. “Just like that? You don’t want to ask me anything?”
“You smell like home, that’s just the kind of calming scent I need. I noticed you don’t have a mating mark, but none of the applicants are mated, and my brother made me aware that mated alphas probably aren’t interested in letting omegas who aren’t their mate scent them. As long as we are clear on the fact that this is just a transaction, nothing more than a scenting, it’s okay with me that you are not mated. Plus, I’ve been at it for over an hour and am tired of having to interview alphas. So, if you don’t have any questions…”
Dean was left reeling a bit from this long speech that was delivered in such a deadpan way but, even though he was very happy that his scent was appealing to Cas, he said, “I do have a question, actually. Why are you looking for someone to scent? I mean, twice a week for one hour—that’s oddly specific.”
“That should be none of your concern,” Cas answered.
Wow. Total roadblock there.
“Okay, what about me? Don’t I get to scent test you?” Dean raised his eyebrows as he tried to reach for Cas’ hand as Cas had done with his before.
But Cas took his hand off the table.
“You don’t have to like my scent since I will be the one doing the scenting. I can use scent blockers for our appointments if you prefer?”
Dean had already gotten a whiff of Cas’ sweet omega scent as soon as he had shaken his hand, and knew that he definitely would not prefer that, so he shook his head. “Nah, we’re good.”
As they started talking weekdays and times that would work for both of them, Dean couldn’t help but feel a pang of regret that he wouldn’t get to scent Cas in return.