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“Don’t be nervous,” Ellen says.

Castiel looks at her like she’s insane, because don’t be nervous is a bullshit thing to say at this moment. Of course he’s fucking nervous. This is unsettling shit.

Castiel doesn’t go to the church. It’s not really his...domain. He is uncomfortable with the idea of God living in a building, instead of outside, among the trees. He’s uncomfortable with this tradition, that smearing a little water on someone makes them belong, that this is the magic of this place. He’s uncomfortable with being the arbiter of this kind of authority, this kind of meaning. It makes him uncomfortable when its babies, it makes him uncomfortable when it’s people significant others, and he’s not done being uncomfortable knowing that it’s going to be Dean, dipped under the water and eyes closed. That the water will suddenly bind him, incontrovertibly to the pack. As if he is not already bound. Already made. Already here.

As if four years had not already made him pack and had not already made him a connection, a part of Castiel. A nerve. A limb. An artery.

Dean is so important, like the babies are important and the wives are important and the husbands are important. And it makes Castiel feel wrong that they have to put him in the water to make him important. To make him recognized as important.

There are a lot of things about the whole structure of the pack that Castiel feels wrong about, and this a big one.

He steps out, into the light filled church, and sits in the front row of pews. The font is to the far left of the altar, the pulpit right between the two of them. There’s a few people in here- Anna and Gabriel are here with Ellen and Jo; Benny and Bobby have come as well. Charlie is here, with Gilda- who herself was baptized two years ago. Sam can’t afford to come up from California; he’s only left to go back three weeks ago and a plane ticket is expensive and he has school.

There’s no music. Chuck, the preacher, sits awkwardly next to Castiel.

Castiel must be here as Alpha, and Gabriel is here as the member vouching for him- kind of like being guardian but no blood relation.

Dean walks in, awkwardly, head held down. Castiel and Chuck stand up, and Gabriel does as well.

Dean folds his hands behind his back and kneels before the font. He is quite tall, and his face rests just above the surface of the water, the lip of the basin. His eyes flutter closed and his brow furrows, an expression that Castiel knows to mean anxiety. He bites his lip.

He’s wearing jeans and a white t-shirt, and his feet are bare. Castiel can’t help but smile at that. There’s something defiant to it. This is not a baptismal gown or a beautiful dress, and Dean has not asked for a reception. This is not where Dean has meaning here, and to him this is ceremony.

Around his neck is the knot on a long cord that Benny helped him tie, in the cabin in the snow. So long ago.

His bandage is off. His face is bare.

He is exposed here. This is a kind of nudity. A kind of vulnerability.

“The bonds that draw a pack are tight,” Chuck says, his voice surprisingly steady. “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. This bond is sacred and it is not easily severed. It is holy. It is meaning.”

Dean nods, serenely.

“Is he worthy?” Castiel asks.

This is ceremony.

“He is,” Gabriel answers.

“What name is this soul given?” Castiel asks.

“Dean,” Gabriel replies.

“Do you vow to see the care and growth of this soul in this pack?” Chuck asks.

“Yes,” Gabriel answers.

“Yes,” Castiel replies. Castiel the Alpha. Castiel the Shepherd.

Chuck places one hand on Dean’s chest and one on the back of his head, and slowly, he dips him into the water.

And just like that, the symbols are done, and Dean is pack.