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By the Dark of the Moon

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It wasn’t supposed to happen. The Novak line was comprised solely of Betas, time out of mind. And they were good, too, very good. They prided themselves on how well they ran the wolf packs they were assigned to, and Alphas negotiated high compensation and unheard-of freedom to the Novak Betas. Lucifer and Michael had already finished their apprenticeships and had gone on to run extremely successful packs in Boston and Grand Rapids, respectively. Gabriel and Anna were currently completing their apprenticeships, and there were already five Alphas sniffing around for them.

 

Castiel was supposed to be no different. And yet here he was, miserable, head buried in his lap as he slumped over himself, unable to stay upright.

 

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right. Male Omegas were as rare as female Alphas, but a female Alpha had found him outside the boy’s locker room, cornered him, sniffed him up and down, and forced him into some sort of unnatural Omega heat. It had to be a mistake. She must have tricked him in some way, because he was a Beta. He had to be a Beta. He wanted to be a Beta. He was comfortable with that idea. Hell, he’d even be a Theta! But an Omega? A male Omega?

 

The door opened and his dad walked in, followed closely by his Alpha.

 

“Cas…” Chuck whispered, kneeling down and pulling his son close. “Oh, Cas…I’m so sorry this happened to you!”

 

Castiel put his forehead down on his father’s shoulder and breathed in his comforting scent. Chuck smelled earthy, like the forest right after a light rain. Clean and crisp and loamy with hints of pine and oak…it was a good Beta scent. A strong Beta scent. Behind him, Bobby Singer smelled musky and strongly Alpha, all sea brine and bourbon, and Castiel felt a strong pull in his stomach at the smell. He wanted to go to the older man and bury his face in his neck. A sob pulled itself from his gut at that thought.

 

“Chuck, we need to get your boy home,” Bobby said gently.

 

He was a good Alpha, Castiel reasoned. A very good Alpha. “Yes, Dad, we should go home,” Castiel agreed.

 

Chuck pulled his son off the infirmary cot, where the principal had brought Castiel as soon as the circle of Alphas, Betas and Thetas had surrounded him outside the gym. Thankfully, she had been close by and was able to diffuse the situation before it became dangerous. Omegas were schooled separately from the others because their heats could be distracting, but also because they reached sexual maturity much earlier than their counterparts. No one had doubted that Castiel would be a Beta, so he had never been tested when he reached adolescence. He had just been sent to school with his peers and he had not manifested for all three years of middle school, and for nearly all four years of high school. And then one female Alpha had brought it out in him, ripped his manifestation from him, and it just wasn’t fair, damn it all to the seventh level of Hell.

 

The next few days went by in a blur for Castiel. He was taken to a doctor and examined, one of the worst and most humiliating experiences of his life. He was told that his heat had been incomplete and unnatural and that his true heat was still several weeks away. His uterus was developed and healthy, and then the doctor said, “He’ll make a fine Omega, Mr. Novak,” and Castiel lost it. He wasn’t sure if the noises he was making would be considered “shrieking” or “screaming,” but he knew he was loud, and he knew he was destructive. When his human body finished throwing and breaking, he exploded into his wolf form and began destroying even more stuff.

 

And then someone got a hypodermic into him, and the world went all hazy and soft for a very long time.

 

When he awoke, Chuck was sitting close by, going over some papers, reading glasses perched at the tip of his nose. Castiel stayed still, not letting on that he was awake, and every so often, Chuck would reach out and pet his head.

 

“Dad?” Gabriel’s voice.

 

“Hey, Gabe. How you doing?”

 

“You know I’m just worried about him, Dad.”

 

“I know, son. But don’t worry. Bobby is working on something for us. It’ll be good. I won’t let him…his mate will be a good Alpha. I swear to you.”

 

“Michael…he called earlier, but I didn’t want to bother you. He said his Alpha might…”

 

“No,” Chuck interjected. “No, Michael’s Alpha is good for what he does, but I won’t have my Omega son under him.”

 

Castiel could no longer feign sleep. He began to weep openly. A mate? His father was going to mate him to someone? As an Omega?

 

Of course he was. He had to be mated. It was their way. If he wasn’t mated, he would be vulnerable to all sorts of trouble, particularly from Lone Alphas. Omegas who weren’t mated were the lowest of the low, streetwalkers and sex slaves, selling themselves for any amount of money and drugs, dying unnaturally young and alone.

 

“Oh, Cassie,” Gabriel said, slipping onto the bed with him and spooning up behind him. “It’s okay, baby bro. It’s okay, man.” Gabriel nosed his hair affectionately, tightening his hold. “We’re going to take good care of you, don’t worry.”

 

Castiel cried harder. He didn’t want to be taken care of. He was raised to take care of his Alpha, to settle accounts and take inventory and order toilet paper for the whole pack and make sure that everyone ate and took their vitamins and got their exercise and…and…it was all for nothing. All that upbringing for nothing. Because he was going to be mated to someone, an Alpha or a Beta, and his job would be taking care of his pups and raising them to be something special. He would be nothing in the pack. He would have no say, no voice. If he was lucky, his Alpha would be kind to him and want a relationship. If he was unlucky, he would only see his Alpha during mating times, but no matter what, his role in the pack would be next to nothing. He would be replaceable. Even the most juvenile Theta was considered irreplaceable in a pack. Omegas could own no property, had no vote, no place in society.

 

In essence, Castiel had gone from being a functioning member of society to little better than a concubine.

 

*!*!*!*

 

Two weeks later, Castiel was feeling marginally better. He was still slightly depressed, but he had a rather optimistic disposition by nature, so he found himself in better headspace. Gabriel and Anna had been particularly helpful to him during this time, promising him that many Alphas had progressive views of Omegas and that their father would undoubtedly find someone like that for him.

 

And just when he felt like he might be okay, Chuck came home with Bobby Singer and gave him the “good news” that they had negotiated a place for him in a pack, and Castiel was sent into a tailspin again. Absurdly, however, he found that he couldn’t give way to his feelings in front of Bobby. The Omega in him responded to the Alpha’s wishes that Castiel remain calm, and so he did, and that bothered Castiel as much as anything else.

 

“Look, pup, I know this is upsetting for you,” the Alpha said, sitting close to the Omega and putting a strong, reassuring hand on his shoulder. “You were supposed to be something else, and now you’ve got the rug pulled out from underneath you. You don’t know who you’re supposed to be any more, but the sooner you are accepted somewhere, the sooner you can start settling into your role in our society.”

 

Castiel didn’t want to get settled into his role in society. He wanted to be a Beta. That was the role he knew. Bobby must have known this in some way, but he didn’t chastise Castiel for it.

 

“We found a good place for you,” Chuck said. “Winchester pack. Dean, the eldest son and an Alpha is ready for a mate, and John, the supreme Alpha, is anxious to align our families.”

 

Castiel remembered Dean Winchester. He had been friends with Michael when Michael was in school. Dean once hit him with a football, and then he never saw him again. Castiel always figured Michael had told Dean not to come back because all the kids tended to be protective of each other. Of course, it seemed odd that Michael would do that, since he was laughing when it happened.

 

“Alpha John is coming by in a few minutes to meet you, Castiel,” Bobby continued. “I want you to show him what a good, strong pup you are. Can you do that for me?”

 

Castiel nodded. He couldn’t not agree, not when an Alpha was asking something of him, curse his Omega nature. Why had this never happened before? Why had he gone through life like a Beta, only to be blindsided by a female Alpha, an anomaly just like himself. Neither of them should have been there, neither of them should exist, and yet they did.

 

He was pulled out of his shock by the doorbell. Gabriel answered and showed John Winchester into the study. Castiel stood immediately as John approached, his eyes downcast, not looking at the Alpha as he introduced himself to Chuck and exchanged pleasantries with Bobby. John approached the Omega, and Castiel leaned his head to the side, exposing his neck by hooking his finger into his collar and pulling, eyes still averted. John took the invitation and placed his hands on the pup’s hips, pulling him close and sniffing up his neck.

 

“He smells good, Chuck. Not in full heat yet, eh?”

 

“Ah, no,” Chuck agreed. “He’s not ready to mate yet.”

 

“Don’t worry, we won’t do anything he’s not ready for, not ever.”

 

Castiel supposed he would have to get used to people talking around him and about him like he wasn’t there. Omegas are to be seen and not heard, after all.

 

John brought his hands up to Castiel’s cheeks and turned his head this way and that, studying him. Castiel continued to keep his eyes averted. “He’s beautiful, Chuck. Really beautiful.”

 

“Yeah,” Chuck agreed, his discomfort evident in his voice. “Um…yeah...”

 

John chuckled and released Castiel’s face. “Look at me, Castiel.”

 

Castiel was surprised at being directly addressed, but he could not disobey an order from an Alpha. He lifted his eyes to John’s lips, which were smiling tightly.

 

“It’s okay, pup. You can look at me.”

 

Castiel briefly joined eyes with the Alpha, but then looked back down at the safety of his lips again.

 

“Tell me about yourself, Castiel. What were your favorite subjects at school?”

 

John sat down on the sofa and indicated that he wanted Castiel to sit with him, so the Omega settled himself at his feet like a good pup.

 

“I, uh, enjoyed history, sir. And chemistry.”

 

John placed his hand on Castiel’s head to show his approval. “That’s good. Did you have many friends? Before?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“I expect your manifestation sent you a bit off-center. Your family hasn’t thrown anything but Betas for generations and generations. I’m a bit flabbergasted, to tell you the truth, but I would really like it if you came to be with my family. Would you like that?”

 

No, Castiel would not like that, but he couldn’t say that. So he said nothing.

 

“It’s all right, Castiel,” John said. “You can tell me the truth. You don’t want to live with my pack?”

 

Castiel shook his head. “No, sir.”

 

Bobby cursed under his breath and Chuck sighed.

 

“Maybe we’re pushing this on him too soon,” Gabriel started, but Chuck stopped him with a hand movement.

 

“You’re eighteen, pup?” John asked, tilting Castiel’s face to his. Castiel kept his eyes down. John sighed. “Look at me when I talk to you, Castiel.”

 

Castiel complied.

 

“Now answer me. You’re eighteen?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“As an Omega, you should be reaching sexual maturity within the year. Do you know what happens to Omegas who aren’t mated?”

 

Castiel nodded. “Yes, sir.”

 

“Do you want that?”

 

Castiel felt tears welling up. “No, sir. I just—“ he stopped himself.

 

John Winchester leaned forward. “Tell me, pup. You just what?”

 

Castiel licked his lips and looked away, then remembered that John wanted him to look at him, so he returned his eyes to John’s. “I just…want to be with my family, sir. My brothers, my sister.”

 

John nodded. “Your dad?”

 

Castiel swallowed hard and nodded. “Yes, sir.”

 

“Even if you were a Beta, you’d still have to leave them. You know that.”

 

Castiel nodded. “I know, sir.”

 

“So you’re just scared, that’s all.”

 

“I suppose so, sir.” But for Castiel, “scared” was too weak a word. “Absolutely terrified” was more like it.

 

“Well, then maybe I can help you with that. You see, my current Beta is getting on and needs to start retiring. You know my other son, Sam, is supposed to be Dean’s Beta, but he’s not quite ready to step up yet. I was thinking that if Gabriel was ready, maybe he could come with you and fill in, teach Sam, and maybe stay on. How does that sound?”

 

Castiel couldn’t believe he was still being addressed, and his opinion was being solicited. “I, uh…that would be fine, sir. I would appreciate that.”

 

John looked up at Chuck. “What do you think, Beta? Is Gabriel ready to finish his apprenticeship?”

 

Chuck looked literally blown away. “I uh…yeah. I mean, he’s been trained for this all his life. He’s just reached his twenty-fifth year, so I’d say he’s good to go.”

 

John smiled. “And Gabriel? What do you think?”

 

“I’d love to help out Cassie’s pack, any way I can, sir.”

 

John ran his fingers through Castiel’s hair with affection. “See, Castiel? This won’t be so bad.”

 

Castiel felt that the Alpha required a response, so he managed a smile. “Thank you, sir. Alpha.”

 

Yes, he may as well start calling him that. And the smile that John gave him let him know that he said the right thing.

 

Gabriel and Castiel left Bobby, Chuck and John to draw up the contracts. Gabriel started talking about packing, but Castiel just moved to his room, tears now flowing freely down his face.

 

“Hey, hey, Cassie,” Gabriel started, following his younger brother into the bedroom. “Hey, don’t cry, puppy…”

 

Castiel couldn’t help himself. His father was negotiating his mating to a pack Alpha. Mating! This was so humiliating! To be sniffed over and looked over and talked about like he wasn’t there! Maybe if he had been raised to be an Omega all his life, but he had been raised to be a Beta! Someone with thoughts and feelings and opinions, and he had them! But around the Alphas, all of those things flew out the window and all he could do was stand there and look at his shoes!

 

And Dean Winchester! The boy who threw a football at him and then left while his brother laughed. Castiel started to cry harder. What if he didn’t let him wear clothes? Some Alphas didn’t let their Omegas wear clothes. What if he passed him around to other Alphas? What if he made him wear a collar or…or…

 

“You’re going to hurt yourself, baby bro,” Gabriel said, tucking him into bed and spooning behind him, stroking his hair lightly. “It’s going to be okay. Sam Winchester is a good kid. He’s in your class, isn’t he? You know he’s a good guy, you did a project with him in biology last semester, didn’t you? And Dean will be the same way.”

 

As long as there weren’t any footballs around.

Chapter Text

The Winchester territory was large and sprawling over four acres with a huge Antebellum house surrounded by smaller cottages here and there, presumably where mated Betas and Thetas lived. While the Singer pack provided the law for the county, but the Winchester pack provided private security, so it wasn’t surprising that the two packs interacted quite a bit and knew each other well. Dean had played with Michael and Lucifer, and Sam and Castiel had known each other in school, though they weren’t necessarily good friends. Castiel definitely respected the Beta.

 

Sam met them at the on the porch as they walked up the steps, and held out his hands to them in greeting, his smile as warm as his palms and just as welcoming.

 

“Hi, Cas! It’s good to see you again!” Sam said, as though Castiel had just been on vacation from school, and had not been summarily kicked out for being an Omega. As though he would have seen him again anyway. “And Gabriel too. I just can’t tell you what an honor it is to be apprenticed by a Novak. I mean, it’s more than I could have hoped for,” the tall werewolf said as he vigorously pumped Gabriel’s hand. “Come with me, and leave your bags here at the door. One of the Thetas will take them to your rooms. Dean’s in the garage; I think he’s a little nervous.”

 

Castiel wasn’t sure what the Alpha could have to be nervous about. As the Alpha in the relationship, Dean held all the cards as far as Castiel was concerned, but it was clear that the Winchesters would follow pack protocol when it came to Alpha/Omega introductions. The garage would be a neutral area where many werewolves would have possessions, so neither Castiel nor Dean would feel any sort of territoriality there, and Sam and Gabe would both be nearby if anything got violent or heated.

 

The garage was large with several classic cars and trucks within berths that had more than likely been converted at the turn of the last century from housing carriages to their more modern horseless successors. Dean was detailing a shiny black Impala in one of the berths, but dropped his cleaning supplies when the door opened and wiped his hands on a cloth as he approached the newcomers. He was dressed in rough jeans that had more grease stains showing than actual denim, thick boots, and an old ratty flannel that seemed to be better suited as a rag than an article of clothing. Castiel immediately noticed his eyes, a bright green that was unusual for wolves. Gold certainly, brown most often, yellow like Gabriel’s, and blue like Castiel’s. But green was uncommon. It suited Dean well.

 

“Dean, this is your new Beta, Gabriel Novak.” Here Castiel felt an insane surge of jealousy. He had actually been looking forward to the day that he would be introduced to his Alpha as the new Beta of his pack.

 

Dean held out his hand and greeted Gabriel warmly. “I remember you!” he said. “Yeah, you used to bug me and Michael while we were playing video games.”

 

Gabriel laughed. “Yeah, I liked to try and get you guys killed off as quickly as possible.”

 

Dean laughed too. “Gods you were annoying!”

 

“But you loved me.”

 

“Yeah, yeah.” He said dismissively with a laugh. Then those green eyes moved to Castiel. “And this is Castiel.” It was a slight breach of etiquette, but Castiel supposed an Alpha might do what he liked in his own house. And he was glad that Dean didn’t wait for the introduction from his brother. It showed that maybe he was okay with bending those roles.

 

“Hello, Dean,” Castiel said quietly, baring his neck for his mate. Dean pulled him close and sniffed him the way John had, though Dean held him closer, bringing their bodies into full contact, and his nose lingered over the long expanse of pale neck. Castiel held still as Dean moved his arms fully around him and licked the side of his face, marking him slightly with his scent. The Alpha was getting to know him, and he submitted to the scrutiny. It was all very warm and soft and sweet, so Castiel was taken by surprise when the Alpha tensed and growled, “Drop it, Gabriel.” The growl was low and commanding as something metal hit against a table, and Castiel felt himself respond sexually to the power behind the voice and he clung to Dean in order to stay upright.

 

“Sorry, Dean, I just…”

 

“No, I’m sorry, Gabe, I uh, got a little territorial there for a second. Um…”

 

Castiel realized that Dean was shaking. And there was definitely something pressed against his stomach. Castiel wanted to move away, but found that he couldn’t. Instead, he pressed closer and fisted his hands in Dean’s shirt. Dean’s hands flexed against his hips.

 

“Hey, Cas, I think I should introduce you to the pack now, okay?” 

 

“Yes, of course Dean.”

 

They broke away from each other and Dean and Sam led Gabriel and Castiel through the house to the den.

 

“That seemed to be going well,” Gabriel whispered on the way. Castiel couldn’t answer because, yes. Maybe it went a little too well. Sexual attraction was definitely not going to be an issue here. Sexual attraction had never been a problem when it came to Dean Winchester. Not even when he was five and his big brothers and their friend were running through the woods and it should have been impossible for Castiel to realize that the large, broad-chested Alpha was something special, something more than his brothers, he had felt that Dean was beautiful. In retrospect, it was a very Omega quality that he had noticed the Alpha. In retrospect, he should have realized what he was, even then. But everyone and everything around him had lied to him, so he had never had a reason to question any of that.

 

He felt so foolish whenever he thought of it. As though the entire universe had been moving in one direction and he had been moving opposite direction, and no one had ever stopped to tell him so, or maybe no one had noticed. Everyone had just gone along with his delusion that he was normal, that he was moving normally. 

 

Like always when he experienced these emotions, Castiel stopped himself and buried them deep. It didn’t do to dwell on it. It didn’t do to think on it. Instead, he paid attention to where they were going in the house.

 

The den was very nice, large and open with lots of windows, but decorated with dark colors so it seemed smaller and more intimate a setting. There were at least five sofas all around the room, all of them dark oxblood colored leather. A variety of werewolves sat upon them, both men and women.

 

“Not everyone’s here because my dad’s pack is out, but this is my pack so far,” Dean said. “Guys, this is my mate, Castiel, and our new Beta, Gabriel.”

 

“Ooh, the Omega smells good,” someone said, making Castiel flinch and unconsciously move closer to Dean. Dean’s arm was immediately around his waist, pulling him close.

 

“I won’t have my mate being sexually harassed in my own pack!” Dean growled again, and Castiel worried that the power exhibited by his Alpha might cause him to go into his full heat. “Castiel is my mate. You will treat him with the same respect you show me, and if he issues you an order, you will follow it. Are we clear?”

 

Castiel gasped and ventured a look at Dean’s face. The Alpha had a taut, grim expression as he stared down his pack. Dean turned to him, and Castiel realized that he was raising his eyes to his Alpha, so he turned his gaze back downward, but Dean lifted his chin and nuzzled his cheek. It was a clear sign to the pack that the Omega was to be treated well and with tenderness. Such things were not unheard of, just incredibly rare. The large knot he had been carrying in his belly for the last month uncurled just the slightest bit.

 

“We’re sorry, Alpha,” one of the women said. “We’re sorry, Castiel. It won’t happen again. Will it, Balthazar?” And then she looked pointedly at a blond man with a rather smarmy expression.

 

“No, of course not,” he said. “I am very sorry, Castiel.”

 

Dean nodded to his pack. “You’ll learn everyone’s names eventually, but for now we have Madison,” the woman who had apologized, “Jo, Balthazar you’ve met, Ash, Garth, Kevin, Benny, Charlie, and of course Sammy.”

 

“Sam,” the Beta said with a smile that let Castiel know it was a joke between the brothers.

 

“Sammy,” Dean said, lifting his hand to the hackles on the back of Sam’s neck that were completely smooth despite the low, teasing growl that the Beta let out. The brothers smiled at each other for a few moments. “Bitch.”

 

Sam laughed. “Jerk.”

 

Castiel noticed that the Thetas were smiling at the brothers. This was apparently a normal argument between the two. Gabriel and Castiel shared a glance, because they had their own in-jokes, and they would apparently be learning their idiosyncrasies as they became more and more entwined into the pack.

 

“All right, let me show you guys where the offices are,” Dean said. “Balthazar, take their bags to their rooms.”

 

Castiel was taken to another part of the house where it seemed there was a corridor of doors. “Okay, this one is my dad’s office. Don’t go inside unless he orders you to. Seriously,” Dean said, indicating the first door. “This door is for Gabriel and Sam. Sammy, you can show him around inside, right?”

 

Sam nodded. “Sure thing.”

 

Dean still had his arm tightly around Castiel’s waist. “We’re here, right next door to my dad. Do you mind sharing an office? It’s just that there aren’t a lot of them, and you and I won’t need them too much anyway.”

 

“It’s fine,” Castiel said immediately, taking in his surroundings. There was a huge window overlooking the back yard where there was a small pond. The perimeter was surrounded by woods where the wolves could run free and feel the earth under their paws in the evenings.

 

“So, this is how I want things to run,” Dean said, turning immediately to business. Castiel was surprised; not just because he wasn’t wasting time, but because he was discussing pack business with him, an Omega. “I want Gabriel and Sam to have a slight division of their duties. One can handle domestic issues, the other will run the business. Our pack provides security for several night clubs and bars in town, as well as a few warehouses. Whichever Beta that ends up running the business end can report to me. The other can report to you. Is that good?”

 

“Of course, Alpha.”

 

Dean took both of Castiel’s hands into one of his and lifted his chin so that they were looking at each other. “Call me Dean.”

 

“Yes, Dean.”

 

Dean frowned. “Talk to me, Cas. What are you thinking about?”

 

Castiel shook his head. “Nothing.” He had been studiously thinking about nothing for weeks now.

 

“Look, I know about how this all just happened to you, and I’m sure that you’re confused and upset about it. But I’m a good person, Cas. My dad has this saying that Alphas might be the head of the pack, but Omegas are the brains. That’s what I want you to be.”

 

“Yes, of course, Dean.”

 

Dean sighed and Castiel knew that his Alpha did not want to hear that much agreement from him. He wanted something else, something that Castiel wasn’t comfortable saying quite yet. He wasn’t really even sure who he was any more, and he really didn’t know how he was supposed to figure it out while being the perfect little domestic Omega, either. But he hoped he could. He just wished everyone would stop trying to tell him that they were “sure” he was confused and upset. No one could possibly understand what he was going through. There weren’t exactly support groups for Omegas who thought they were Betas, because this sort of thing just didn’t happen. The roles of their society were finite and absolute. He was an anomaly. A freak. He shouldn’t exist.

 

“Castiel, I want you to be open with me. I mean it. I want us to be mates, partners.”

 

Castiel felt hot tears prick his eyes. “I want that too, Dean.”

 

Dean pulled him close and nuzzled the hair behind his ear. “Tell me what’s wrong, Cas. Please.”

 

Nothing. Everything. “Dean, do you…are you…” He licked his lips. It was a presumptuous question. No true Omega would dare ask it. But he had to know.

 

“Ask me, Cas. Ask me anything you want to ask. I won’t get mad. I promise.”

 

He gulped as Dean’s nose moved down around his neck and over to the other ear. “Are you happy? With me? Did you…want…me?”

 

Dean chuckled. “I wanted a mate. And I’m happy with you so far. Balthazar was right, you really do smell good.”

 

The Omega inside Castiel was absurdly pleased that he smelled good to his mate.“So, I’m not…I mean, my dad didn’t just make a deal with your dad because he had to get rid of me?”

Dean pulled back and cupped Castiel’s face. “No. Hell no, sweetheart. No, we found out about you, and we asked for you. I mean, we’ve been wanting to try and unite our pack to your family in some way, but Michael and Lucifer were sent to other packs, and we weren’t thinking of replacing Rufus until Sam was ready, and when it came out that you were an Omega, it seemed perfect. We begged Alpha Singer for a meeting almost immediately.”

 

Castiel suddenly felt crestfallen. Dean hadn’t wanted him particularly, just his name and his pack. Of course. No one cared about Omegas. Just what the Omegas brought with them. “I see.” He turned back to the window, but Dean stopped him.

 

“Wait, wait, no, it wasn’t like that. I mean, yeah, it was partly like that, but not entirely like that. I mean, yes, I wanted you. You. Yourself. If it had been Gabe instead of you, then…well, I mean, not that I don’t like Gabe, but…I remembered you from when we were kids. I remembered you being kind and sweet and that everyone loved you in the family and I remembered your eyes. I thought you’d be a good match. When my dad brought it up, I said yes.”

 

His eyes? Dean remembered his eyes?

 

Dean cupped his face again, leaning in once more for more nuzzling. They should be grooming each other at this point; it was the best way to get to know each other. “You threw a football at me.”

 

Dean leaned back. “I what?”

 

“You threw a football at me, and then you left and you never came back. That’s all I remember about you. I mean, I’m sure there’s more, but I only remember you throwing a football at me. And then Michael laughed.”

 

“No, I never threw a football at you. I wouldn’t do something like that.”

 

Castiel frowned. “Then who was it?”

 

“I don’t know. I mean, maybe I threw it, but not at you.”

 

“Oh.”

 

Dean laughed. “This is really the only memory you have of me?”

 

Not specific memories. Just memories of looking at the young Alpha and thinking he was beautiful. Wishing he could play with him the way that Lucifer and Michael did. Wishing he could tease him the way Gabriel did, or smile at him the way Anna did. “I don’t really know. It was ten years ago.”

 

“Michael and I would have been in high school. I remember tossing a ball around with him a few times, but…I mean, you were a little kid, I wouldn’t have thrown it at you on purpose. And I was there a lot at that time. I came over for dinner. I made cookies with your sister and brothers one night. We used too much salt and they tasted terrible. Anna and Gabriel thought they could do it because they had been in a home economics course in school and learned how to bake that week.”

 

Castiel laughed. “Okay, I remember the cookies.” And the flour that Dean had gotten in his hair.

 

“And one night, Lucifer and Gabriel decided that Michael and I were going to get married, and they made us go through some mock wedding ceremony and you were the ring bearer.”

 

Castiel didn’t really remember that. “Was that the night they made me put on my suit?”

 

“Yes! You were maybe six years old at the time. Michael and I played along, but we wouldn’t kiss each other and Lucifer and Gabriel took your tie and tied our necks together.”

 

Castiel suddenly remembered the night like it was yesterday. Michael and Dean had probably been sixteen or seventeen. He knew that it was at least that because he remembered Dean driving up in his car, the shiny black thing that he apparently still had. He hadn’t wanted to put on his suit, but Lucifer had insisted and Michael and Dean had laughed through the entire thing and Anna had been the flower girl, throwing petals all over the living room until it looked like it was snowing. And Chuck had been such a good father that he hadn’t even gotten angry about the mess that was made. Gabriel had performed the ceremony. Castiel couldn’t remember what he had said, but it must have been funny because everyone had been laughing as he forced Michael and Dean to make vows to each other.

 

“I can’t believe I forgot that,” Castiel said with wonder. “Oh my gosh, you can’t mate me, Dean! You’re already mated to Michael!”

 

Dean wrapped him up into a hug. “Yes! I knew you’d remember!”

 

They both started laughing and Castiel put his arms around Dean’s neck. “I can’t believe I forgot. Anna made it snow inside. On hot days, you can still smell rotting rose petals in the living room.”

 

“See?” Dean asked. “We had some good times together.”

 

Castiel was about to reply when someone knocked at the door. Dean let go of Castiel but stayed close by him.

 

“Enter.”

 

It was Sam and Gabriel, both ready to report about what they had discussed.

 

“Since Sam is more familiar with the business side of things, he’s going to take over that aspect, so he’ll be reporting to you, Dean,” Gabriel said. “And I’m going to get this house in order for you, so I suppose I’ll be reporting to Cas. After we have all of that worked out, Sam is going to show me the business side, and I’ll get him started on how to be domestic.”

 

Dean nodded. “Sounds good.”

 

“So, before I get started on inventory, let me just ask a few questions,” Gabriel continued. “Dean, what time does the pack usually eat breakfast?”

 

“We work until two, three in the morning usually, so we don’t generally. We usually have lunch together after everyone wakes up.”

 

Gabriel made a notation on his clipboard. Chuck was always very specific about clipboards and inventory. “What about when you get home? Is everyone hungry?”

 

“Usually,” Dean said. “We usually just fend for ourselves at that time.”

 

Gabriel nodded. “Then I’ll just observe for a few days. Is that okay?”

 

Dean nodded. “But I want you to start taking this up with Castiel.”

 

“Of course,” Gabriel agreed and then looked at Castiel expectantly. Castiel realized it was his moment to be the domestic leader Dean expected him to be.

 

“Very well, Gabe,” he said. “Take inventory of everything, the way Dad taught you, and report to me. I want to know how many loads of laundry are done per day, how many rolls of toilet paper are gone through, loaves of bread, gallons of milk, the whole nine yards. I’ll discuss menus with our Alpha and we can coordinate shopping lists later in the week. I think it’s best for us to see what needs to be done before we start shaking anything up.” If he closed his eyes and wished really hard, he could maybe pretend he was a Beta just doing his Beta duties.

 

Gabriel smiled warmly. “Very good, baby bro. You just let me know if you need anything.”

 

Castiel nodded.

 

Sam then cleared his throat. “We got a call from The Brick in the Wall nightclub earlier. I guess they have lady’s night every Friday night, and for the past three weeks, women have been groped. They were hoping we could send some of our girls undercover to apprehend the culprit before it sends business down the tubes.”

 

Dean rolled his eyes. “Let me guess, they haven’t called the Singer pack?”

 

Sam made a face. “They don’t want any bad press, and they think that calling the law will do that for them.”

 

Dean snorted. “Of course, because word of mouth with a bunch of chicks saying they’ve been groped is so much worse than having a cop or two come by. And they want us to risk our females?”

 

“Yeah, I haven’t said yes or no yet, but if they do go, I want Ellen to go with them.”

 

“This is what I don’t like, Sammy: if I say no, then it’s like I’m some jerk who doesn’t care if innocent civilians are getting groped at a nightclub. If I say yes, then I’m the asshole Alpha who puts his pack at risk to make a buck.”

 

“But if we send them, then we’re at least part of the solution,” Sam reasoned.

 

“A solution would be to let the law do their job. We’re private security, not cops.”

 

Sam nodded. “So I’ll tell them no?”

 

Dean sighed. “Oh, hell. Tell them yes. Coordinate with Dad and see about sending either Ellen or Missouri or both with them. And have Balthazar and Ash help them with the wardrobe. I swear, those guys don’t make a move on any female unless she looks like a two dollar hooker.”

 

“So you want them to be groped?” Sam asked, eyebrows raised. “Charlie? Jo?”

 

“No, I don’t want them getting groped! I’ll bit off the hand that dares molest my Thetas! But I want them to look better than any other girl in the joint, and you know they can if they dress slutty enough for Balthazar.”

 

Sam laughed. “We’re pretty sure our Thetas are the prettiest in the county,” Sam confided to Gabriel and Castiel.

 

“Yeah, and like to give us all heart attacks, too,” Dean groused.

 

“We were raised with Jo and Charlie, so they’re sort of like sisters to us,” Sam continued. “So, think about your sister, going out to a nightclub, dressed in a miniskirt and heels and then wanting some guy to try and touch her.”

 

A low growl escaped Gabriel.

 

“Exactly,” Dean said. “Thanks, Gabe.”

 

“Charlie at least is taken care of since she’s only into other females. But Jo’s door swings both ways, and I swear if her mom, Ellen, weren’t around fending off the Alphas, Dean and I would have our hands completely full.”

 

“Only a complete moron would try to hit on Jo with Ellen around,” Dean confided to Castiel, as though he were the only one in the room at that moment. “She’s not tall or unusually intimidating or anything. But by the gods, there isn’t an Alpha for ten miles who would be dumb enough to try and get between her and her pup.”

 

Castiel stared at Dean for several moments. It wasn’t often that an Alpha would joke about other Alphas being afraid of a mere Theta, and for just a moment, that stomach knot unwound another millimeter. Maybe, just maybe, this wouldn’t be as bad as he kept making it out to be in his head.

 

“Now come on,” Dean said, taking his hand. “I’ll show you our bedroom.”

 

Their bedroom?

 

Castiel followed dumbly behind his mate as he was led up the stairs. Just one room?

 

Okay, so maybe he had inner-monologued a little too soon. Maybe this would be as awkward and terrifying as he had originally thought.

 

Chapter Text

The room was spacious with a partially-walled off sitting area that housed a comfortable-looking sofa, a recliner, and a large-screen TV. The bedroom had one of those large sleigh beds that looked like it was carved from the trunk of a massive tree sitting between two tall windows. Both the sitting room and the bedroom were painted a soothing grass green and the linens and coverings and moldings were all cream or white. The windows opened out onto the woods which looked mysterious and dark compared to the brightness of the late afternoon sun, and there were glass French doors in the sitting room that opened to a balcony where there was a little table and chairs for afternoon tea or chess games. There were two doors against the far wall of the bedroom, the wall that was towards the inside of the house. One was opened and Castiel caught a peek at white subway tiles and a claw-footed bathtub. The other door he assumed was a closet.

 

The artwork on the wall was impressionistic but masculine; scenes of woods and mountains that played off of the wall color beautifully. The floors were a dark hardwood and the molding was almost painfully white and clean. There were a few area rugs, Turkish by the looks of them, with cool greens and blues and accents of red that made the room seem homey and nice. The only thing that didn’t make sense was a little white figurine of a cherubic angel with gigantic, dark doe eyes sitting on a shelf between some books and some photos. Castiel frowned at the creepy little thing.  Sitting next to the figurine was a picture of a beautiful blonde woman and a little boy who could only be Dean.

 

“Do you like the room?” Dean asked, his voice a little anxious. “I had Charlie and Madison do it for you. I’m, um…I’m good with cars. Not so much interior decorating. If I had my way, there’d be guns on the wall and you’d be lucky to have a wool army surplus blanket on the bed.”

 

Castiel took in everything. There were a few empty frames on one of the dressers, but most had photos in them. Some of Sam and Dean together, some with John and some with other members of the pack. “It’s very nice, Dean.”

 

Dean gave a snort. “I know it’s nice, Cas. Do you like it? We can change the paint if you want, or get a bedspread with actual color on it…”

 

Castiel shook his head. “I like it, Dean.” His eyes flickered to the big bed.

 

“Don’t worry,” Dean said, sliding up behind him and pulling him against his chest. “I’ll sleep on the sofa for now. Until we get comfortable with each other.”

 

Castiel turned. “No, I’ll sleep on the sofa. I’m smaller than you, I’ll fit better.”

 

“I won’t let my mate sleep on the sofa.”

 

“But I’m just supposed to let my mate sleep on the sofa?” Castiel answered back quickly, regretting his snapping tone immediately. He kept forgetting he wasn’t a Beta any more. Well, more accurately, he had never been a Beta. He widened his eyes in surprise at his gaffe, even more appalled with himself that he was holding Dean’s gaze. He dropped his head, baring the back of his neck in submission. “Sorry, I’m sorry—“ but then he stopped himself from talking because he shouldn’t be doing that.

 

“Castiel!” Dean exclaimed, his hand pulling Castiel’s head back up. “Jeez, man! I told you, I don’t want…just stop that, okay? If I want submission, I’ve got a whole pack of Thetas out there. Not that they’re exactly submissive, but… I don’t want that from you!” Dean turned away, running his hands over his hair. “Just be yourself, man.” 

 

Castiel shouldn’t have such a war within himself when Dean said these things. He should be rejoicing at the fact that his Alpha wanted more than just a fuck receptacle and brood mare. He knew that logically, but emotionally he was still a wreck. And Dean wanted him to “be himself?” He wasn’t sure who he was anymore! Who had he ever been? The whole time he had wanted to be a Beta, was he just doing that because it was expected of him, or was it something he really wanted? He just didn’t know.

 

Dean took his face in his hands, and Castiel was shocked out of his musings by the contact. “Tell me how to help you, Cas. I want to help you. Tell me what you need.” He pressed their foreheads together. “Please tell me.”

 

Castiel grabbed Dean’s shirt and pressed his head down against his neck. “Nothing, Dean. Nothing.”

 

Dean wrapped him up in his arms. “It can’t be nothing, Cas, you’ve been through—“

 

“What I’ve been through, you can never understand!” Castiel snarled, pushing Dean away with way more force than he realized he possessed. “Never! You’re an Alpha, Dean! The world was made for you! I’m just an Omega! I’m nothing! You know nothing!” Castiel took a deep breath and clenched his shaking hands, cursing the tears that were flowing down his cheeks. “Now please, Dean,” he whispered, trying to get a rein on his emotions, “Just let me sleep on the couch. I’ll be fine.”

 

“You’re not fine, Castiel,” Dean said. “I know you’re not fine.”

 

 “I will be.”

 

~~~~~

 

Castiel slept on the couch the first night, but on the second night, Dean had lifted him up and carried him to the bed, tucking him in while he slept. Castiel had groused at him the next day, but Dean didn’t seem to care about the grousing as much as he cared about Castiel sleeping comfortably in the bed. When Castiel woke up and found Dean had done that to him, he awoke his Alpha in a temper and treated Dean to a first-rate dressing-down, which would have been the stupidest thing he ever did as an Omega if Dean had been any other Alpha, and not been visibly amused by Castiel’s tirade.

 

“Dean, are you even listening to me?”

 

In answer, Dean grabbed him by the arms and kissed him soundly. It was Castiel’s first kiss, and certainly the first that had any meaning for him. It was soft and nice, just Dean’s lips against his, nibbling at him, trailing down his cheek to his neck.

 

“I love it when I get to see you,” Dean said as he cuddled him. “The real you, not the one you think you need to be.”

 

Castiel bristled, but that just made Dean hold him tighter. “Dean, this isn’t funny, we made an agreement that you would sleep in the bed, and you picked me up and carried me while I was sleeping and made me sleep in the bed!”

 

Dean sat him on the sofa and knelt down in front of him. “Oh, yes, the big bad wolf huffed and puffed and made you sleep in a comfortable warm soft bed.”

 

“Contrary to my wishes!” Castiel wasn’t sure why this was such a big deal, he just knew it was. “Is this how it’s always going to be, Dean? I want something but you want the opposite, so we just do it your way?” He looked away, a tear escaping his eye. “I’m just an Omega, my opinion doesn’t matter? Fuck, Dean, I’m not even supposed to have an opinion! Why ask me for it anyway! Why try to make me think that I matter? Why are you doing this to me?” The last sentence came out so broken that Castiel nearly felt ashamed of himself for showing such weakness.

 

Dean was still kneeling on the floor and he pulled Castiel into his lap, hugging him hard. “Cas,  Cas! You matter! Christ, I’ll sleep on the floor if you want me to, I just…I didn’t want my mate, the man that I want to spend the rest of my life with, to sleep on the sofa. I just…Yeah, I’m an Alpha and I get what I want most of the time, but It’s not because I don’t respect you or your opinion. It’s just because that’s what I do. It’s because I’m selfish, but not because I don’t respect you.” He rubbed his cheek against Castiel’s, their morning stubble scratching audibly. “I’ll sleep wherever you want me to, sweetheart,” he whispered, his nose nuzzling the hair just behind Castiel’s ear. He had already learned that was his weak spot, in just two days. It was almost embarrassing.

 

Castiel tightened his fingers around Dean’s neck. “I want you to sleep in the bed, Dean.” And then he paused. “With me.”

 

Dean pulled back, his eyes full of questions.

 

“I’m not, um…not yet,” Castiel said.

 

“Don’t worry, I won’t try to make you do anything,” Dean assured him. “I’ll sleep in my wolf form if it’ll make you feel more comfortable. Or on top of the covers.”

 

Castiel shook his head. “You don’t have to. I trust you. But I would like to see your wolf form.”

 

Dean peppered his jaw with kisses. “I want to see yours, too. I bet you’re beautiful, all sleek muscles and messy fur.”

 

Castiel smiled and ran his fingers through Dean’s hair. “Do your eyes stay green when you change?”

 

Dean shrugged. “I’ve never asked anyone. Does it matter?”

 

“No,” Castiel said. “I like your eyes, though.”

 

Dean pushed Castiel off of him and pulled his shirt over his head. “You tell me, okay?”

 

Castiel blinked a bit, trying not to stare as Dean dropped his boxers to the floor. He transitioned fluidly as an Alpha should, no noise or grunting. His human body seemed to melt into his wolf like it was the most natural thing in the world. Castiel’s wolf responded to the sight of the change with awe and reverence, accepting this wolf as his mate.

 

Dean’s eyes indeed stayed green, his coat an unblemished sandy brown, short and spiky the way he kept his hair. The wolf turned around once then sat, staring up at Castiel expectantly. Castiel went to him and rubbed his head, scratching behind his ears and inspecting the marks on his nose that looked like freckles. He was a huge wolf, his head nearly reaching to Castiel’s shoulder. Dean opened his mouth and lolled his tongue, panting as Castiel hit a particularly sensitive part just behind his left ear.

 

“You’re gorgeous,” Castiel murmured, his hands sinking into the thick coat of warm fur. In answer, Dean licked his face. “Ugh, that’s gross, Dean.”

 

Dean just panted happily, standing and turning in a circle before nipping at Castiel’s nose. Then he pushed him over and started tugging at his shirt.

 

“Oh, okay, I’ll show you.”

 

Castiel disrobed and crouched down, his transition not nearly as smooth, though it was graceful in its own way. He knew his wolf was small and dark, but like Dean, he had no clue what his eyes might look like once he had changed.

 

Dean barked with his whole body when Castiel was done, and started to inspect him from nose to tail. Dean was big enough that he was towering over Castiel’s form, even though they were only a few inches different when human. Castiel took the opportunity of having so much of Dean at his nose level to sniff him and really smell him like he couldn’t in his limited human body.

 

Bobby Singer had smelled strongly of alcohol and brine, power and surety. John Winchester smelled somewhat similar, but with a sort of earthy tone to his scent that Castiel recognized as part of the family line, just as Castiel knew he smelled strongly of pine and oak like his family. Dean had all the characteristics of his father’s scent, but with an undercurrent of motor oil and hops and something that reminded Castiel of freshly baked bread on a cold winter day. It was warming and welcoming and Castiel flopped onto his side, inviting Dean to dominate him like he should.

 

He wanted that scent on him.

 

Dean complied with the unspoken request and lay down with his upper body on Castiel, the weight reassuring and pleasurable as Dean began to groom around his ears and eyes. It wasn’t sexual, though it was a part of the mating process. Dean was caring for him, showing him that he could, that he would, and it was sweet.

 

Castiel still had his issues with being an Omega; still felt the fear and the embarrassment and the horror. He was still a rational, logical werewolf and could see that at times like this however, after having just argued with his mate and now being lovingly groomed by him (Dean was currently combing through the hairs between his ears with his teeth, biting down to the root and smoothing upwards) that maybe he would be okay. Maybe being an Omega wasn’t so horrible. Especially not with Dean as his Alpha.

 

!*!*!*!

 

Dean wasn’t sure why he was in a good mood, he just was. He had been ever since Castiel and Gabriel had shown up. It wasn’t that either of the Novaks did anything in particular, it was something else. Something more spiritual. They brought a presence into the house, a feeling, a palpable calm.

 

The brothers had taken a full inventory of everything in the house, a feat that took them three days, and they were currently cleaning out anything that was useless.

 

Dean loved Rufus, who had just finally admitted it was okay to be retired and had finally made an appointment for hip replacement surgery that had been the catalyst for his retirement to begin with, but he had to admit that Rufus had not been anywhere near as helpful and organized as the Novak boys.

 

In the kitchen, Dean found three boxes labeled, “Keep,” “Donate,” and “Trash.” So far the “Trash” box was much fuller than any other box, and Castiel was down on his hands and knees in the bottom shelf of the pantry, scrubbing with a brush. Dean tried to not think about the brown suds currently thick against the faded white paint. But seriously; his food had been sitting in that?

 

“Wow, that’s beautiful, Cas,” Dean said casually as he poured himself a mug of extra-strong coffee. He didn’t know how many scoops Gabriel added to the pot, but you almost had to chew it, and Dean was becoming addicted.

 

Castiel ducked his head out from the pantry and gave Dean a smile. “It is nice to get everything clean.”

 

Dean’s eyes roved over his mate’s form, gleaming with mirth. “I’m not talking about the cleaning, sweetheart. I’m talking about your—“

 

“Hey, there’s our fearless leader!” Gabriel exclaimed, heading in from the mudroom off the kitchen. If he noticed Castiel blushing, he said nothing.

 

“Morning, Gabriel. Thanks for making coffee.”

 

“No problema, Jefe,” Gabriel smirked.

 

Dean returned his eyes to his mate and noticed that Castiel was maybe arching his back a little more than necessary, those haunting blue eyes looking over his shoulder and catching Dean’s gaze every now and then. “This place looks fucking fantastic,” Dean said casually, his eyes still roving freely over Castiel’s sweet little ass.

 

Gabriel apparently couldn’t contain his tongue any longer because he rolled his eyes and said sarcastically, “Yeah, the place looks great. Uh-huh. I’m just gonna head back out with another load of trash so you can finish ogling my baby brother’s ass.”

 

Dean was sure that he should be annoyed by his Beta’s flippant attitude and the blatant sexual innuendo directed towards Castiel, but alone in the kitchen with his mate whose hair was currently a mess and whose sweat smelled sweeter than Christmas morning, he found he just couldn’t care.

 

“Castiel, come here,” he ordered softly, the command uttered whether he wanted to give Castiel a choice or not. Not that he thought his mate would refuse.

 

He didn’t. Castiel came to him, pliant in his arms as he pulled him down onto a chair and into his lap, making him straddle him, planting his hand firmly on the ass that had been teasing him since he walked into the room, the other hand up Castiel’s shirt to splay out over the smooth, soft skin. They had been kissing more and more every day, especially when Dean first came to bed in the early morning and Castiel was barely awake but eager to make sure that there had been no emergencies and that everyone had made it home safely. Castiel wasn’t in heat yet, but it was coming. Dean could smell it on him.

 

It didn’t help his jealous nature that Castiel smelled so very good. Sure, there was the possibility that some Alphas might not find him particularly good-smelling, but Dean imagined that there were more who would than those who wouldn’t. Castiel was all fresh grass, sunshine, wild blackberry bushes and a hint of oak and pine. Smelling him in was like smelling the perfect summer day, the kind that made you want to transition and just run for miles and miles before collapsing beside a cool, clear stream. His scent was home and beauty and brightness and Dean just wanted to drown in it half the time. And when Castiel kissed him, it was like he was being surrounded by it, simultaneously warmed and cooled by it and if he didn’t stop himself soon, he was going to push Castiel to the floor and rut with him right here.

 

“We better stop,” he said, pushing Castiel back upright. Castiel didn’t help matters when he stared back at him, eyes huge and fathomless blue, full of want and insecurity and just the slightest amount of pain.

 

“Oh,” he said simply. “Okay.”

 

Dean stood up and took his mate into his arms. “If we don’t stop now,” he said, pressing himself into Castiel so he could feel his full arousal, “then I might not be able to stop. Okay, sweetheart?”

 

Dean just loved the realization that washed over Castiel, the way he visibly relaxed at that admission. Dean just wished he could get Castiel to open up to him about all of the other stuff that bothered him. It was obvious that the Omega was still dealing with the fact that he was not a Beta, had never been a Beta. Sometimes he looked so despondent that Dean wanted to pull him into his arms and kiss a smile back on his face, but he sensed that this was not what Castiel needed at those times. He just wished he knew what it was that Castiel did need.

 

Gabriel came back into the kitchen, making noise as he walked and opened doors in case he needed to give the mates a little warning.

 

“How’s it coming along with the scrubbing, bro?” Gabriel asked, his eyes averted from the couple.

 

“I just need to rinse it down and we’re good,” Castiel answered.

 

“Good, then I’m just going to wash my hands and grab the grocery list and we can head out.”

 

Castiel nodded. “Sure, Gabe. I have a few things that I need as well. I’ll meet you in the garage in fifteen minutes?”

 

When Gabriel was gone, Dean pulled Castiel back against him once more. “Be careful at the store, okay? You’re really starting to smell good, and—“

 

Castiel snorted. “I doubt any Alphas will be nosing around me at the Super Target, Dean.” And then he leaned up and kissed him, something that set Dean’s blood boiling because it was something Castiel was doing of his own volition rather than just playing along with Dean’s direction. “Besides, sweetheart, I smell like you now. No Alpha would be stupid enough to try and steal your mate.”

 

Dean smiled widely at Castiel’s fire and sarcasm. He loved when he got to see the real Cas, the one that he tried so hard to hide. “But you’re so gorgeous that they might think it’s worth the risk,” Dean continued to tease, his hands tight against Castiel’s hips.

 

“You forget that I don’t want some other Alpha around me as much as you don’t want it, so that means I’ll fight him or her off of me if it’s the last thing I do.” Castiel kissed him again, then pushed him away. “Now get out of here so I can finish this before it’s time to go!”

 

“You can finish while I’m in here,” Dean reasoned. “I’ll stay out of your way.”

 

Castiel gave him a look that could rival any of Sam’s bitchfaces. “I can’t do anything with you in here, Dean, you’re distracting me.”

 

Dean grinned wolfishly. “How am I distracting you?”

 

“You know how you’re distracting me you asshole, now get out of here.”

 

Dean didn’t want to leave his mate when he was so feisty, particularly since he wasn’t quite sure when Castiel might get this playful again, but it was true that it was a supreme distraction, so with one last kiss and a long swipe to the side of his face just to be sure his scent was on there, and Dean went to his office.

 

He couldn’t be quite sure, but he was pretty sure he was starting to love his mate.

Chapter Text

 

 

Castiel was floating through the huge aisles of the Super Target in a haze of contentment. It was because of Dean. It’s all because of Dean. A month ago, he felt his life was ending, and now he finally felt like it was beginning. He was useful and needed, and Dean made it seem as though…as though he might have true affection in his life at some point. He was too afraid to say the word “love,” but he could at least pretend that there might be a day when he could say it.

He was stocking up on dry goods while Gabriel was taking care of paper and plastic products, and he was currently looking dried beans over, trying to decide how many packages of lentils he needed. He already had two packages each of white, black, and red beans for some of Gabriel’s famous three bean chili as well as a few packages of whole dried ancho, chipotle and Anaheim chile peppers. He had more boxes of linguine than he felt was healthy for any one person, but more than enough for his plan to cook up a big pot of his favorite creamy marsala pasta, and he couldn’t decide if he wanted to do split pea and ham soup, or lentil with ham.

Lentils would have more of a protein pack, he reasoned.

Of course, nothing beat split pea and ham for comfort. Especially if it came with a heaping big square of cornbread on the side.

Of course, he could always make cornbread to go along with the lentil soup. And lentils would have less sugar in them, making them far more nutritious.

He started wondering what Dean would like better and realized that he didn’t really know. His mate had eaten everything that he and Gabe had put in front of him, moaning in ecstasy with every mouthful. The entire pack had been doing that, come to think of it. And ever since he and Gabriel had started making a platter of sandwiches and bowls of cold salads for when the Thetas came home from work in the morning, everyone had started treating them like kings. The reason behind it was that Gabriel and Castiel were tired of the mess their pack made in the kitchen in the morning while scrounging for a quick snack before bed, so they just began throwing together picnic meals using every recipe in their father’s arsenal from his coriander coleslaw to his rosemary and thyme potato salad.

The other evening, Castiel had made an extra turkey for dinner just in case (as you can imagine, a pack of werewolves can really eat a lot) and when no one ate it, he used the leftovers to make his father’s post Thanksgiving curry-turkey-cranberry-salad sandwiches on Russian rye bread for lunch the following day and Ash had actually hugged him, a happy tear running down his cheek as he chewed his sandwich.

And then Castiel blushed right there in the middle of the aisle because he remembered that Dean had thanked him in a very different way later on in their bedroom, using his hands in a way that Castiel had never done, a smile breaking the Alpha’s face when Castiel made a mess all over them both. He could still feel Dean’s breath hot against his ear when he whispered, “You’re so fucking hot.”

That meal was definitely going back on the menu. There were already three huge frozen turkeys in the cart along with several loaves of Russian rye. Making a quick decision, Castiel leaned down and grabbed two bags of dried green lentils. They would look and taste a lot like split pea, only healthier, he reasoned.

“Well, look who it is,” a voice from up the aisle said. Castiel stiffened. He would recognize that voice anywhere. Looking up, he confirmed that it was the Alpha female from his school who had forced him into his premature heat.

“What do you want?” he snapped, still unaccountably angry at her. “And why aren’t you in school?”

 

“I don’t have a sixth period, and I’m picking up some things for my mom. But you wouldn’t know that, seeing as how you sort of got your ass thrown out of there.”

 

“No thanks to you!” Castiel flung back. “Get away from me, I have nothing to say to you!”

The girl frowned. “Is that any way to talk to me, Cassie bear?” she pouted, her pretty full lips drawn on a little too large with gloss, long blonde hair flowing over her shoulders and framing her wide blue-green eyes.

That was unfair. He still didn’t know her name. “How else should I talk to you?” he asked petulantly.

“Oh, come now, baby.” She approached him and put her hand on his shoulder, making his hackles twitch and a low warning growl escape his throat. “After what I did for you?”

“Don’t touch me,” he snarled, jerking his shoulder out of the way.

The blonde laughed but pulled her hand away, sniffing slightly in Castiel’s general direction. “Oooh, somebody’s got himself a big Alpha mate. Who is it, Cassie? Meg Masters? I bet she’d eat you alive.”

Castiel rolled his eyes. “If you would pick up a paper, then you would know that I was mated to Dean Winchester nearly a week ago. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have things to do.”

The female clearly did not appreciate being dismissed. “Is that so?” she asked, getting angry. “I am an Alpha, and you’re just a little slut Omega, and if I want you to talk to me, then you have to talk to me.”

Castiel growled fully at that, his hackles raising at the back of his neck. “I think you’ve severely overestimated your own worth,” Castiel stated as calmly as he could and then turned to walk away.

“Don’t you turn your back on me!” the Alpha snarled, gripping his arm and trying to turn him to her. But she hadn’t manifested yet, and her strength wasn’t that much more than any other female her age.

Castiel turned, baring his teeth, his wolf flashing ever so slightly at her. “I said: don’t touch me!”

Her eyes went wide at that and she had the good sense to look frightened.

“What’s going on in here, Cas?” Gabriel asked. He was coming up the aisle, his cart laden with toilet paper, toothpaste, bulk shampoo and a ten pack of soap bars.

“You need to put a muzzle on your Omega is what’s going on in here,” the female Alpha flung at Gabriel.

“Oh, is that so?” Gabriel asked, his eyebrows raising. “And you are?”

“I’m Lilith,” she said. “I’m an Alpha and he’s disrespecting me!”

Gabriel snorted. “Yeah, newsflash, sweetheart? Even after you manifest, if you don’t have a pack under you, then you ain’t shit. Come back when you grow up.” Gabriel then smiled at his brother, dismissing Lilith completely. “You okay?”

 

“I do have a pack you worthless insignificant excuse for a Beta!”

 

Gabriel mock gasped. “Ooh, the little Alpha wanna-be has fangs! Protect me, Castiel, I’m so frightened.”

Castiel allowed Gabriel to lead him from the aisle, Lilith fuming behind them, shouting threats and insults.

“Gabe, what if she goes to Dean and tries to make trouble for me?”

Gabriel laughed. “Then I hope the absent gods will grant my request to become a werefly so I can sit on the wall as he hands her her ass on a silver platter.” Gabriel led them to the produce aisle and began to bag tomatoes and lettuce. “Come on, Cassie. Dean is so in love with you, he’ll probably challenge her just for aggravating you.”

“But if he thought I made him look bad for disrespecting an Alpha…”

Gabriel grabbed Castiel’s hand and shook his head. “Cas, listen to me. You didn’t disrespect her. From what I heard, she was trying to cause you trouble, not the other way around. You defended yourself, and pretty well, might I add. Who was she, anyway?”

Castiel gulped. “She was the female Alpha. At school. The one who…”

Gabriel looked at him in sympathy. “She started all of this.”

Castiel nodded.

“Let me ask you something, baby bro: if you could change it all, go back to the way things were before Dean, before all of this, if you could live your life as a Beta, but it meant giving up everything you have right now, would you do it?”

Give Dean up? “I, uh…” Give up Dean? Castiel wasn’t sure if he was ready to think about this. “I don’t know, Gabe. Let’s just finish shopping and get out of here.”

“Sure thing, Cas.”

Castiel didn’t see the knowing smile Gabriel gave him as he ducked his head to pick up a package of cuties. Even if he had seen, he wasn’t quite ready to admit that nothing would ever get him to give Dean up, so he pushed it down to the place where he hid everything he’d been attempting to not feel for the past month.

 

On the way home, they found one of those fruit stands on the side of the road and Castiel asked to stop.

 

“I want to make a pie.”

 

“That sounds great!” Gabriel said, pulling over.

 

“Dean loves pie.”

 

“I see.”

 

“I was thinking I could make him a whole day of pies. You know, like quiche for brunch and chicken pot pie for dinner and maybe berry pie for dessert?”

 

“Uh huh.”

 

Castiel frowned at his brother as he inspected a pint of blackberries. “What?”

 

Gabriel smiled. “Nothing.”

 

“Nothing with you almost always means something. Bad.”

 

Gabriel shrugged. “In this case it simply means I’m amused by how much my baby brother wants to please his mate by making him his favorite food.” Gabriel put his arm around his brother. “Absent gods, you’ve got it bad.”

 

“Got what bad?” Castiel asked, shaking him off.

 

Gabriel would only chuckle in response.

~*~*~*~

 

Castiel was amazed at Dean’s ability to zero in on the fact that something had upset him at the store. Castiel also knew that Dean wasn’t above going to Gabriel for information if he chose to be tight-lipped about it, so as he and Gabriel organized their purchases in the kitchen, he informed Dean of Lilith’s little interlude with him in the dry goods aisle at Super Target.

Thankfully, Dean was less upset and more amused by Lilith. “I went to school with a female Alpha like that,” he mused. “She was all over me like brown on rice and Michael hated her.”

“I’m sure it didn’t help that Michael had a raging crush on you back then,” Gabriel laughed, emptying a bag of flour into a Tupperware container. All of the old flour had beetles in it because someone (the rumor was it was Jo) had decided to bake a cake (for Sam’s birthday, or so the story went) and had forgotten to check the seal on the Tupperware, and so all of the flour had to be replaced (but since it was for Sam, it was apparently an excusable offense). Not that it was a huge expense, Castiel just hated wasting food. He was also trying very hard to not think about Michael having a crush on Dean.

“Mikey didn’t have a crush on me!” Dean insisted. Castiel was trying very hard to believe him.

“Sure, Deano. Don’t you remember when Lucie and I forced you two to marry each other?”

Dean frowned. “Well, yeah, to make the little kids laugh.” Castiel tried to not frown at being referred to as a “little kid” even though he had been at the time.

Gabriel rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Riiiight. We were always teasing Mikey about you, and he would get all flustered about it. Don’t worry, he got over it before you even graduated, but he had a bit of a crush.”

“Huh.” Dean looked completely nonplussed by the revelation. “Anyway,” he shook his head as if clearing off his thoughts, “there was this female Alpha at our school, Naomi, and she was just convinced that she was the shiz because of the myth that Alpha females breed true even though Mendelian genetics proves that Omegas are the only true recessives, and for every dominant Alpha, you would get an Omega and two Betas.”

Gabriel and Castiel both stared at Dean in wonder.

“What?” he asked defensively. “I paid attention in school.”

“Yeah, right,” Sam scoffed, entering the kitchen and looking over the food with interest. “Ooh, honey mustard pretzels!”

Gabriel slapped his hand before he could open a package, hiding the pretzels away in the cupboard.

“Hey, I’m a growing pup!” Sam protested.

“That’s why you need fruits and vegetables over empty carbs,” Gabriel admonished, setting a plate of celery and hummus in front of his counterpart. “Besides, don’t you want to grow up big and strong?”

Dean snorted. “Like the moose needs to get any bigger.”

Sam dipped his celery into his hummus and made appreciative noises while Gabriel and Dean filled him in on Lilith.

“Wonder what she was doing at Target instead of at school?” Sam wondered. “Next time you see her, call the dog catcher.”

Ellen then walked into the kitchen. “Hey, boys.”

All four said, “Hi, Ellen,” at the same time, making her smile.

“Cas, hon, did you pick up any soup while you were out?”

“Yes, I got curried carrot, tomato and red pepper…” he stopped when Ellen held her hand up.

“This is for Rufus. John brought him home from the hospital about an hour ago while you and Gabe were out, and as much as I can’t wait to try curried carrot, I’m afraid he’ll just throw something like that at me. Got any good old fashioned chicken noodle?”

Gabriel laughed and pulled a battered tin from the pantry. “Here you go, my love.”

Ellen took the tin and set to making up the gloopy condensed mess. Castiel was sure that somewhere out there, his father knew that he was permitting someone in his pack to eat that mess and mightily disappointed in his boy over it. He caught Gabriel’s eye across the room, and the brothers shared a secret grimace.

“Is he really very grouchy?” Sam asked.

“Oh, you know how old Betas get after they’ve outlived three Alphas and one hip. Ornery as a porcupine and just as prickly.”

Dean grabbed a bowl and a tray from one of the cupboards. “Need any help?”

Ellen patted his face. “You’re sweet, but you’d best let us old-timers take this one on.”

“Maybe you could spike the soup with sedatives,” Dean suggested. “The doctors gave you some for him, right?”

Ellen looked for a moment like she was really and truly considering such a thing. “I’d better not,” she finally said with resignation just as John walked into the kitchen.

“Do we have any Johnny Walker?” the Alpha demanded.

Dean cracked open the liquor cabinet and pulled out a bottle, handing it over to his father, not put off in the least by the older Alpha’s gruffness or request for hard liquor at four in the afternoon.

“Absent gods, that man is making me crazy!”

“So you’re just going to drink him away?” Ellen asked, eyebrow raised.

John laughed bitterly. “I wish! No, I’m gonna get him drunk, and then maybe he’ll shut the hell up for five minutes!”

Ellen shrugged. “Beats overdosing him with sedatives, I guess.”

“Don’t tempt me.”

“Can I do anything to help, Alpha?” Castiel asked quietly. “Maybe I’m neutral enough to him that he wouldn’t treat me too badly.”

John’s expression softened noticeably and he ruffled Castiel’s hair affectionately. “Aw, that’s kind, Cas. But that big bad wolf would eat you alive and then pick his teeth with your bones. Us in the old guard don’t do too well when we get to feeling bad and we do even worse when we have to be reminded of how old we are by the pretty little pups running around the house. Best if all of you boys steer clear of Rufus’s room for the next week until he gets mobile again.”

Castiel looked over at Dean, thinking about how his mate often referred to himself as “the big bad wolf.” Considering how the original Red Riding Hood story had been incredibly erotic, Castiel found that moniker to fit Dean quite well. It really didn’t help when Dean flashed a wolfish grin at him, as though he clearly knew what Castiel was thinking.

“Well, if you’re going to go back in there, take His Prickliness this soup,” Ellen said, and Castiel was struck by the fact that a Theta was ordering her Alpha around.

“Why do I have to?” John practically whined.

“You’re the Alpha around here,” Ellen replied, setting the bottle of booze on the tray. “I guess I could add a tumbler, just to make it seem like I don’t expect him to drink it straight from the bottle,” she mumbled half to herself.

Sam grabbed a heavy crystal tumbler and set it on the tray.

“So what’s going on in here anyway?” John asked.

 

“Quit stalling, John,” Ellen admonished. “Go give Rufus his lunch before he accuses us of trying to starve him to death.”

 

John rolled his eyes. “And you know he would, too, grumpy old goat.”

 

“Takes one to know one,” Dean muttered under his breath, making Sam snort hummus out of his nose.

 

When he left, Ellen turned to the boys. “Well? What is going on in here?”

 

“Nothing!” Dean promised. “You’re so suspicious.”

 

“Four boys, standing around and putting groceries away, and two of those boys wouldn’t be able to tell a chicken from a goose if it bit them in the butt? Yeah, something’s up.”

 

“I just got here, they were already in here,” Sam said defensively.

 

“My mate and his brother are in here working. I just wanted to see if I could help,” Dean supplied. “Besides, Cas ran into the Alpha who forced him to manifest, and I’m trying to make him feel better.”

 

Ellen raised her eyebrows at Castiel, who had gone back to organizing his pantry. “You okay, Cas hon?”

 

“I am fine, Ellen. Thank you.”

 

“It was a female Alpha, right?”

 

Gabriel nodded. “Her name’s Lilith apparently. Seems to have an overinflated sense of self importance.”

 

“Well, she is an Alpha,” Sam teased.

 

“I resemble that remark,” Dean shot back.

 

“Lilith?” Ellen asked.

 

“Yeah, really defines the term bitch,” Gabriel said. “No offense.”

 

“Sweetheart, I’m a bitch and proud of it,” Ellen said. “Well, I’ll leave you boys to it. Better go help John out with Rufus before Rufus literally rips him a new one.”

 

Ellen didn’t go back to Rufus’s room, though. She went to her own and pulled out her scrapbook. It wasn’t the kind with pictures and cutouts of turtles glued lovingly to the pages. She kept records of all of the packs in the county and a few outside of the county. An Alpha called Lilith seemed to spark some memory, and she began reading backwards because she was sure this Lilith was close in age to Sam and Castiel.

 

She finally found what she was looking for about eight years back. The headline read, “Azazel McLeod, Crime Lord, Killed by Brother.”

 

Azazel had been bad news. He was a drug dealer and he liked addicting children, the younger the better. He used to boast that the children were customers for much longer than adults were. He had deserved to die, and his brother, Gavin, had been exonerated in the death because the jury had determined it was self-defense. Azazel had left behind a pretty extensive drug empire, a wife, and a daughter. And the daughter’s name was Lilith.

 

The wife, Ellen learned re-reading the article, had been an Alpha. It was surmised that she had taken over for Azazel. Ellen wondered if Lilith was the princess in this empire. The brother had been a Beta, and Ellen gathered from the article that Mrs. McLeod had kept him on after the murder.

 

It really wasn’t her business. Crime was the Singer pack’s jurisdiction. Still, if Lilith was going to take over for a drug pack, her dealings could trickle down to the Winchesters just because of their private security business. She decided she would bring the information to Gabriel and leave it up to him whether he wanted to concern John and Dean or not. Not that there was anything really to concern them about. Just a bad feeling.

 

Maybe she wouldn’t talk to Gabriel after all. He might think she was being a ninny.

 

Still, it was his brother that she was needlessly worried about. And since he clearly loved the pup, he would certainly help her see that there was no way this girl and her pack could harm them.

 

 

Chapter Text

Gabriel and Ellen transitioned in John’s office and he threw them each a robe.

 

“How’d it go?” he asked.

 

“No one saw us,” Gabriel answered. “Just two Thetas, out on our nightly rounds. If anyone had asked, we would have just said we were on orders from our Alpha.”

 

In truth, Dean knew nothing about this business, and John had been explicit about keeping it that way. Castiel was days, maybe even hours away from his first heat, and the younger Alpha was starting to hover over his mate. If he even suspected that some members of his pack felt there was a threat so close to him, he might not be responsible for his actions. So far, Dean was amused by Lilith’s insistence that she had “turned” Castiel. “Turned him off of women, maybe,” Dean had laughed, secure in the fact that Castiel adored him and only him.

 

Ellen and Gabriel were simply tailing Lilith at this point. They knew her school schedule, where she lived, and who her dealers were. Bobby Singer had sent one of his deputies with them, a young wolf called Inias. He knew quite a bit about the McLeod pack and had been tailing them for a long time. He apparently had a huge team running surveillance and was even trying to infiltrate the group using a young Theta called Samandriel who had “bumped” into Lilith’s mother at a coffee shop several weeks earlier, and who had managed to play-act at being completely smitten with the beautiful Eve. Samandriel had been introduced to Lilith and Gavin, who was called Crowley. It seemed that Crowley fancied himself to be more the Alpha of the pack, and Samandriel thought that the Beta might be attempting a takeover before Lilith reached full maturity. It seemed that Eve wasn’t as interested in running the pack as she was in creating new drugs, her Monsters as she called them. Samandriel was sure that Lilith just blithely assumed the pack was loyal to her even though most of them were fine following Crowley despite the fact that he wasn’t an Alpha. It was one of the strangest and most complicated set of circumstances that John Winchester had ever come across.

 

Alpha Singer had a hard time trying to crack this pack’s illicit activity. It seemed that every time he caught a dealer, usually an Omega who was as hooked on the Monsters as badly as his or her clientele, before any of them could even be questioned, they would end up dead of an overdose. If the law of the county had been human, Alpha Singer might have suspected corruption in the ranks, but he smelled the truth on all of his Betas and Thetas so he could only conclude that the unfortunates had been brainwashed to kill themselves rather than be taken alive.

 

John Winchester wasn’t exactly happy about being involved in the investigation in any way. Really, he was just allowing his Thetas to tag along and make sure that Lilith’s interest in Castiel was only fleeting. Spurned Alphas tended to be irrational about getting revenge, but John hoped that since Lilith was still not fully mature (and not likely to ever be, according to Gabriel), her sense of being wronged might not be as strong. Worst case scenario, in his thinking, was that Lilith might demand some form of apology from Castiel, which she would most certainly not receive, and best case was that she would forget all about it if it wasn’t in her immediate line of sight. Since she had not attempted any sort of contact or even tried to speak with Sam in any way while at school, John was pretty secure that the latter outcome would happen. He just wanted to be sure.

 

So, Gabriel and Ellen had stayed close to the female Alpha for a few days, and then they would go back to business as usual, and Dean and his mate would be none the wiser for the extra precaution. It seemed, though, that unless one of her Thetas made trouble in one of their nightclubs or at one of the places where they oversaw security, they wouldn’t have to worry about Lilith again.

 

“So, are you two comfortable letting it all go?” John asked.

 

Ellen and Gabriel shared a look. “I don’t see how it’s going to have anything to do with us,” Ellen said. “I’m sorry I wasted our time on this.”

 

John shook his head. “You will never waste time trying to keep one of my pups safe,” John told her sternly. “I’d do the same for Jo too.”

 

Ellen nodded.

 

“Besides, better safe than sorry,” Gabriel said. “That’s my brother we’re talking about. Lilith is a stupid little girl. She’s been brought up thinking she’s something special, her daddy telling her that she’s his little Alpha princess. She’ll figure out soon enough that most packs view Alpha females the same way that they view Omegas. If she wants to be more, then she has to do it herself. Her Uncle Crowley isn’t going to help her.”

 

Ellen snorted. “I’m frankly surprised she’s still alive. He’s probably planning on breeding her when she comes into heat.”

 

John made a face. It wasn’t unusual for elder members of a family to breed Alpha females, but it was frowned upon pretty heavily. He wasn’t quite sure that Crowley would have much interest in Lilith, however beautiful she was. John was pretty sure Crowley would prefer a pretty male Omega like Castiel.

 

“Well, let’s let it go then,” John decided. “Go to bed, guys. Nothing more to be done tonight.”

 

Ellen and Gabriel nodded and then left.

 

John paced through the large house, listening for sounds of the night. It was Dean’s “weekend” currently. Since their pack ran a 24/7 business, everyone had different days off, and Dean was more needed on the actual weekends since that was when the nightclubs needed added security, so he took weekends on Wednesday and Thursday nights. John’s eldest pup was taking the opportunity of his weekend with Castiel to race his mate all over the grounds, tiring the poor boy out, and they were currently sound asleep behind their door.

 

John scented the air a bit. Castiel was definitely about to go into heat. John wished it would happen sooner rather than later. Not only was the sexual tension between the two getting to be unbearable (even though it was obvious that they had been enjoying certain other activities if their scents were anything to go by), but it was clear that both mates wanted to be closer, to mark each other. And John couldn’t deny that he wanted grandpups, not that he couldn’t wait until the boys were ready, but as soon as Cas went into heat, that would be the inevitable conclusion within a few years.

 

John put his hand on the door, uttering a silent blessing to the two sleeping quietly within. He could never really say what it was he meant, but he was sure it went something like, “Please, let my boy be happy.”

 

!*!*!*!

 

“Cas! Cas!”

 

Castiel came awake with a start, his heart racing and blood pounding. He was shaking and tears were streaming down his cheeks. “Dean?”

 

“I’m right here, sweetheart.”

 

Castiel moved against the warm, solid body lying next to him, wrapping himself around it, smelling the scent he had come to adore so much. “You were dead,” he sniffed.

 

“No way. It’d take more than that to kill me.”

 

Castiel looked up at his mate, clearly visible in the early light of dawn. “You don’t even know how you died.”

 

Dean snorted. “Don’t need to. Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough. I’m still here, aren’t I?”

 

Castiel pressed his face back against Dean’s chest as Dean stroked his fingers idly through his hair. The contact was soft and nice and Castiel closed his eyes, reveling in the feel of it. “They were pulling me away from your body. Trying to take me, make me their mate.”

 

“They can kiss my fine ass. No one will ever take you from me. Ever. They can pry you out of my cold, dead arms, and even then I’ll put up a fight.”

 

Castiel shuddered, because that was exactly how his dream had gone, as a matter of fact.

 

“Go back to sleep, baby. I’ve got you. I’m right here.”

 

Castiel closed his eyes, letting the feel and smell of Dean seep into his bones, lulling him back to sleep. He really was very tired. Tired, and just the slightest bit achy. He’d been working hard, trying to get the house in order, and he maybe was working too hard. Dean’s touch soothed him, though, relaxed him and helped with the tension in his muscles. With every breath, he relaxed more, and soon he was in oblivion, this time his dreams full of green eyes, soft lips, and the sweetest laugh…

 

When Castiel woke again, Dean was wrapped around him like an octopus on steroids. And he was hot. Too hot. He tried to shift Dean, but the Alpha just moved closer, nuzzling his nose into Castiel’s neck mumbling something that sounded like, “Smell so fucking good, sweetheart,” before snoring lightly, his breath ghosting against Castiel’s chest.

 

“Dean, come on,” Castiel muttered, trying to push the heavy man off of him. It didn’t help that Dean was all muscle, and his body was heavier and more solid for it. Castiel flopped back against the mattress. “I’m too hot,” he whined.

 

“Mmmm…so hot,” Dean agreed, finally shifting off, giving Castiel a breath of fresh air as the cooler temperature of the room hit his sweaty skin. “Getting close,” Dean said, kissing his cheek before heading off towards the bathroom.

 

Castiel had to agree. Even he could smell it on himself at this point.

 

They ate breakfast with the pack, though it was a pretty tense thing. Even Charlie was shooting Castiel hungry looks. He decided to retreat to the office for the morning since he might not make it in there for a few days if his heat was really going to hit today.

 

In the hall, he ran into John who was exiting his office.

 

“Castiel,” John said, his head up and nose working. “How…how are you feeling, pup?”

 

Castiel sighed. “A little achy and warm, sir.”

 

John nodded. “Best you go back to your room, okay?”

 

“Of course, Alpha.”

 

John reached out and put his hand on Castiel’s shoulder as he was about to say something, maybe give a slight bit of fatherly advice, but then an angry growl reverberated through the hallway.

 

“Mine!” Dean snarled hotly, dragging Castiel against him.

 

“Dean! He’s your father! Calm down!” Castiel said, clinging to his mate for dear life because Dean had pulled him completely off his feet and was currently glaring daggers at his father.

 

John for his part was standing passively, not making eye contact, but not showing any submission either. He was Dean’s Alpha, after all.

 

“Son, I was just going to reassure him. That’s all. You need to take him upstairs. I’m pretty sure your primal display was all he needed to send himself over the edge.”

 

Indeed, Castiel could feel everything that he had been told by the doctor to expect when his heat finally hit. The fever, the disorientation, and more importantly, the wet, slick feeling seeping from between his buttocks.

 

“Dean,” he said, trying to bring the Alpha’s attention back to him. “Dean, I…I need you.”

 

Dean was rigid, his chest like a wall of granite, and his face was hard and angry.

 

“Dean!” Castiel repeated, pulling on his collar.

 

Dean finally looked down at his mate. “Cas?” Concern washed over his features and he looked back up at his dad, bewildered now.

 

“Go, son. Take care of him,” John said.

 

“Right,” Dean agreed. “Of course.”

 

Dean hooked his arms under Castiel and just lifted him up and carried him to their room. Castiel had been expecting him to be happy, maybe even gleeful at the heat. Finally, it was finally going to happen. Dean should have been happy. Alphas, as a rule, tended to be sexual creatures by nature.

 

Dean just looked worried as he laid Castiel on the bed. “You okay, Cas? You with me?”

 

Castiel growled at Dean. His wolf had no time for Dean’s concern or his tenderness, no matter how much Castiel himself appreciated it. The wolf needed Dean’s Alpha. It needed to feel his heat and his teeth, needed to be marked and claimed. It was time. Castiel had been given enough time, and now the wolf was going to take what it needed.

 

“Cas! Whoa!”

 

Castiel flipped Dean on his back, took hold of the collar of his T-shirt, and ripped it off.

 

“Okay, I didn’t like that one anyway,” Dean said. “But if you try that with my Led Zepp—oof!”

 

Castiel crushed their mouths together, attempting to free Dean’s wolf. He was holding tightly to it, much tighter than Castiel had been expecting. He didn’t want to hurt his mate, but there was no time to think of that. Castiel was on fire and there was only one way to extinguish it. He growled again, calling to the Alpha, begging for it to give him what he needed.

 

Dean answered with a growl when Castiel removed his own shirt, then licked a stripe from the middle of Castiel’s chest, up his neck to his cheek. Castiel smiled wolfishly, feeling the Alpha getting much closer to him.

 

“Slow down, sweetheart,” Dean admonished as Castiel attacked his jeans. But Castiel didn’t have time for that. He opened his mouth and started kissing around Dean’s hips, getting closer and closer to the knot. “Cas, just slow down…”

 

Castiel looked up at Dean and growled again, as though his wolf were saying, “Make me.”

 

Dean’s eyes narrowed at the challenge as Castiel continued to kiss and lick around his hips and thighs.

 

“I said slow down!” Dean growled, grabbing Castiel and taking the dominant stance once more, hovering over his mate. Castiel grabbed Dean’s face in both his hands and kissed him, causing Dean to grab his wrists and hold them over his head. The Alpha was closer than before, and all Dean could do was growl as he ground himself against his mate. Castiel tipped his head back in answer, inviting his mate to mark him, claim him.

 

Dean grazed his sharp teeth over the flesh exposed to him, an appreciative sound escaping his throat. Castiel rumbled from his chest in answer, grinding his hips to Dean’s, wrapping his legs around his Alpha’s waist. Dean grabbed Castiel’s jeans and ripped them apart, dragging them off of him, boxers and all. Castiel shuddered at the primal display, his wolf anticipating what it wanted so badly. He whimpered, opening his legs, showing his mate what he could give him.

 

Dean pushed his knee towards his chest, leaning down to kiss and lick his ass. Castiel planted his foot against the bed and lifted his hips to give his mate better access. Dean bit down hard on the soft cheek, and then Castiel was gone, his wolf taking over as Dean marked him.

Chapter Text

It was dry. His mouth, his skin, every part of him was dry. Even the sheets he was laying on felt like dried out sand paper. Every muscle in his body ached.

 

“Dean?” he rasped.

 

“Hey, I’m right here, Cas. You okay?”

 

“Water.”

 

Strong arms pulled him up, cradled him, and then he was laying in Dean’s lap as Dean sat cross-legged on the bed. “It’s right here, baby. Open your mouth.”

 

Castiel complied and a glass was held to his lips as those strong hands held his head. The water snaked down his throat, burning the way down. He had a fleeting memory of those hands holding him while a body rocked into his and he nearly spit out the water.

 

“Hey, take it easy now,” Dean whispered, and Castiel remembered that same voice moaning, “Fuck yeah, sweetheart, so good,” against his neck as he bit down hard.

 

“Dean, what…what happened?” Castiel finally opened his eyes and looked around the room. It was a mess. An absolute mess. There were two broken pieces of furniture, a nightstand and a dresser. There were shredded clothes and shredded bedclothes laying around as well as some shattered dishes and towels. The curtains and blinds were broken and hanging crookedly from the windows.

 

“You went into heat is what happened,” the Alpha said. “Fuck, Cas. It’s been four days. Don’t you remember anything?”

 

Castiel closed his eyes and remembered the feeling of Dean, hard and hot sliding in and out of him urgently. He began to quicken at the memory, flames licking up his sides again. “I…uh…a little…”

 

“Drink the rest of your water, babe. It’s been a bitch keeping you hydrated. Every time I got near you, you’d attack me.”

 

Castiel felt embarrassed, but Dean just seemed amused. And then suddenly Castiel remembered a sandwich being held to his lips and Dean cajoling, “Just eat a bit. If you’re good and you eat it, I’ll let you suck me off, okay?”

 

Castiel lowered the water glass and covered his face with his hand. “Dean, I—I’m so sorry.”

 

“Sorry about what? Don’t be sorry! We were great together! Didn’t you…I mean, I know you enjoyed yourself.”

 

Castiel could remember arching against Dean as an orgasm ripped through him, Dean’s knot thick and heavy inside.

 

“I did, I remember, but…Oh, Dean, it’s so…I was out of control!”

 

Dean grabbed the glass and put it off to the side, then cupped his face. “Cas, come on! I mean, if we were human and we got married, we’d be fucking for our entire honeymoon. So we got to do it the werewolf way instead. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”

 

Castiel nodded. “Um, Dean?”

 

Dean ran his fingers through Castiel’s hair and hummed.

 

“Um, now that I’m not a sex maniac, um…are you…I mean, it doesn’t have to be today, but…can we do it again sometime when I’m not out of my mind with the biological imperative?”

 

Dean laughed and nuzzled him. “Trust me, sweetheart. Now that you’re sexually mature, we can have sex whenever you like. I swear. Any time, any day, anywhere.” He leaned down and kissed him. “You’re amazing, baby. You’re completely amazing.”

 

Castiel let out a sigh of relief. “Oh thank the gods.”

 

“Did you think you’d be bad?”

 

Castiel nodded. Dean looked like he was about to say something else when someone knocked at the door.

 

“Dean?” Sam’s voice. “I’ve got some lunch for you guys.”

 

“Leave it at the door, Sammy,” Dean called back.

 

“Everything okay? Need anything else?”

 

“We’re good, Sammy. We’ll probably be seeing you in a little while.”

 

“Oh? Oh yeah? That’s great! So everything’s, uh, died down then? Um? You okay, Cas?”

 

Castiel felt himself flush crimson. “I’m fine, Sam, thanks,” he squeaked. It didn’t help that Dean laughed into his hair.

 

“You can go now, Sam!” Dean called.

 

“Right. Okay. Bye!”

 

Dean rolled them over and kissed Castiel, and that triggered another memory of Dean pounding into him, moaning, “Oh, fuck yeah, baby, fuck so fucking tight Imma fuck you so hard, so good, make you scream, fuck!”

 

Castiel laughed.

 

“What?” Dean asked, a little defensively.

 

“I was just thinking that your dirty talk vocabulary is slightly limited.”

 

Dean gave him a “come on, man!” face. “This from the guy whose only phrases for four days consisted of, ‘more,’ ‘again,’ ‘harder,’ and, ‘Dean, yes!’”

 

Castiel flushed again, and Dean laughed.

 

“You are so adorable, Cas. So freaking adorable.” Dean rolled off of him and pulled a pair of jeans out of the broken dresser drawer. “But we need to eat lunch.” He threw a pair at Castiel. “After that, we’re going to take a shower because I’ve been wiping you down for four days, and I’m sure you need a proper shower. I know I do.”

 

Castiel could vaguely remember Dean washing him off with a washcloth, but the heat had been unbearable, and the only thing that made it better were his Alpha’s bare hands on his body. He had pushed Dean down using unnatural strength, and then impaled himself, riding Dean while Dean continued to wash him off. After a few more swipes, Dean had thrown the cloth to the side and grasped his hips, moving him and thrusting so that they were moving together. Castiel remembered the look on Dean’s face, the ecstasy. He really had been enjoying himself.

 

Castiel pulled on the jeans, which were Dean’s and far too large, and sat on the floor, waiting as Dean brought a tray in laden with food. Castiel could barely remember Dean cajoling him about different foodstuffs, but whatever the Alpha had managed to get into him, it hadn’t been enough. His stomach growled painfully.

 

“Dean, I’m so hungry.”

 

Dean smiled and set the tray in front of him. “I know. Me too. But after we eat, okay?”

 

Castiel felt his body go all hot from embarrassment again. “Has it really been that bad?” he squeaked from behind the safety of his hands.

 

“Cas!” Dean said, pulling at his wrists. “Come on, I was joking! I was just…no! It wasn’t bad at all. I keep telling you that it wasn’t bad. It was great. Fan-freaking-tastic even. Come on, Cas.”

 

Castiel put his hands in his lap and managed to meet Dean’s eyes. “It’s just so embarrassing. I was not in control of myself at all.”

 

“I wasn’t either, though,” Dean said. “You were the roller coaster, and I was along for the ride. I mean, your hormones were driving mine crazy and we both were just… I’m surprised we aren’t dead.” Dean laughed and reached across the tray, his hand on Castiel’s knee. “It’s our way, Cas. It’s the way we are. I mean, it’s just our nature. It’s not something we can be embarrassed about. It just is what it is.”

 

Castiel nodded, not sure he agreed with that assessment, but then, his mate seemed very happy with whatever had happened, so he supposed he should go along with it.

 

Dean set sandwiches and potato salad in front of Castiel, so he began to eat, washing it down with water and tea. After that, Dean pulled Castiel into the shower and washed him off, his hands on Castiel’s body bringing back more memories of heated caresses, which made Castiel more aroused than he wanted to admit, though he could hardly hide the fact from Dean when both his scent and his rock-hard erection were right there for the Alpha to see. Dean proved that he was happy with the development by pulling Castiel against his chest in a heated kiss before lifting him and taking him slow and steady against the shower wall.

 

“This is so good,” Dean groaned as he thrust unhurriedly into Castiel.

 

“Yes,” Castiel agreed, memories flooding him of his heat. Then it had been all frenzied passion, but now it was slow and sweet, and Dean was kissing his neck, and then his lips and Castiel felt he couldn’t hold out for long.

 

“Don’t you dare come yet,” Dean ordered.

 

“Dean, please!”

 

“No, we’ve been in a frenzy for four fucking days and I want to take this one slow. Do it for me, baby. Please?”

 

Castiel almost laughed. Like he had the ability to defy his Alpha.

 

“You’re mine. You hear me, Cas? You’re mine…fuck…all mine.”

 

Castiel felt an absurd pleasure at those words. “Yes, Dean. I promise, only you, ah that’s good…only yours. And you’re mine too. All mine.” It was a bold statement to make, but he had been raised a Beta and wasn’t used to holding his tongue all the time.

 

Dean stared at him for several moments, his green eyes fathomless, and Castiel began to worry that he had overstepped. But then Dean swooped in and kissed him hard. “All yours, baby. I’m yours.” Then he put his foot on the side of the tub and began to thrust harder. “I’m yours, yes! Gods, Cas…”

 

Castiel threw his head back against the wall of the shower, feeling every movement. In their position, Dean wasn’t really pulling out far, but his body was rocking into Castiel’s, and every thrust seemed to take him deeper and deeper until he was hitting that special spot every time, forcing Castiel to cry out and clutch at Dean’s shoulders and neck and hair, begging to be able to come until Dean finally relented and agreed, both of them coming one right after the other.

 

Dean sank down onto the floor of the bathtub, letting the water wash over them as Castiel slumped in his lap.

 

“Good?” Dean asked.

 

“Fuck,” Castiel said happily.

 

They rinsed each other off, and then Dean dressed Castiel in his softest most comfortable boxers and Dean’s vintage Zeppelin T-shirt.

 

“Lay down,” he said. “You’re still not very strong. I’m just going to go down and see everyone and get a report from the Betas, then I’ll be back.”

 

Castiel lay down in the bed, happy for the reprieve. He was sore and tired and still a little dehydrated, so he poured more water for himself before snuggling down under the duvet.

 

Looking at the room made him more tired. So much needed to be done. The curtains had to be re-hung, the dresser and nightstand repaired, everything cleaned and scrubbed, and the sheets probably needed to be burned. Even now, he could smell the sex on them. He closed his eyes and tried not to think about it.

 

When he woke up, Gabriel was spooned up behind him.

 

“Gabe?”

 

“Hey, Cassie. How you feelin’?”

 

Castiel turned in his brother’s arms and snuggled his head under his chin. “I’m good. How is everything downstairs?”

 

Gabriel laughed. “Looks a lot better out there than it does in here, that’s for sure. Smells a lot better too, though I did open the windows for you guys.”

 

Castiel smiled. “I noticed a faint breeze coming through.”

 

Gabriel scratched his chin back and forth on Castiel’s head. “Seriously, though, you okay? You, uh…I mean, you’re not…I don’t know, bleeding or anything?”

 

“I’m fine, Gabe.”

 

“Good. I made an appointment for you on Wednesday with your doctor.”

 

Castiel pulled out of Gabriel’s embrace and frowned. “What? Why?”

 

“It’s common procedure. You had your first heat, and you could be pregnant. You have to get checked out.”

 

Castiel fell back against the bed. “I’d rather clean this room up single-handedly.”

 

“Yeah, well, you don’t really have a choice. Dean will compel you if you don’t go voluntarily.”

 

Castiel looked up sharply at that. “Dean would never compel me.”

 

“This is your health we’re talking about,” Gabriel reminded him. “I’m sure he’d figure out a way before resorting to mind games, but you have to go.”

 

“What day is it today anyway?”

 

“Tuesday.”

 

Castiel groaned. Four days, and all he could remember was sex and heat and a few times when Dean had managed to make him eat something. He hopped out of bed and went to the dresser, finding a pair of his jeans, pulling them on over Dean’s boxers, keeping his mate’s T-shirt on. It was nice to wear it. It smelled like him.

 

“Okay, tell me how everything’s going. Did Charlie and the other girls find the mad groper at the nightclub?”

 

“Affirmative. He tried to grab Jo’s ass, and Ellen practically bit his head off. Lucky for him, he’s a vampire and healed pretty quickly, but it was a close thing.”

 

Castiel ran a comb through his hair. It didn’t make much difference. “Is Jo okay?”

 

Gabriel snorted in answer. “She’s fine.”

 

“How is everyone else? Is Ash eating?”

 

“Ash is eating fine, everyone else is great. We all missed you guys, but we’re a little anxious about whether or not you pupped.”

 

Castiel put his hand on his belly absently. “I don’t think so. Don’t feel any different.”

 

“Lucifer and Michael both texted you, and I think Dad will probably want to see you.”

 

Castiel ripped the curtains and the blinds from over the window, vastly improving his view of the room in that slight movement.

 

“The nightclub is really appreciative of the help of the pack. Dean has been invited to attend Saturday night as a VIP guest. I thought maybe you could drag him out there.”

 

“Sounds like fun,” Castiel said. “I’ve never been to a night club.”

 

Gabriel bunched up one of the pillows and curled around it as Castiel tried to get the room in some semblance of order. “Me either, really. I wonder if Dean would let me come?”

 

“Don’t see why not. You and Sam should both come.”

 

“The week before his finals? I’m not sure Sammy’d go for that,” Gabriel mused.

 

Castiel stopped in the middle of cleaning up the broken plate, his heart twisting at the idea that Sam was about to take his finals.

 

“Cas?”

 

Castiel looked down at the broken shard in his hand, squeezing it so that it cut into his palm. Then he let out a roar and hurled it at the wall, making it shatter into a billion pieces.

 

“Castiel!”

 

“Fuck!” Castiel shouted. “Fuck! Shit! Fucking cocksucking motherfucker shithole!”

 

“Cas!”

 

“Fuck everyone and everything and their mother and their father those rat bastard fucking assholes! Fuck!”

 

He had somehow pushed Gabriel up against the bathroom door, his arm at his throat.

 

“It’s okay, Cas. Let it out. It’s okay.”

 

“I hate them! I hate all of them!” He was crying now and shaking. “I hate you and Sam and all of you!”

 

Gabriel reached out, stroking his hand down Castiel’s wet cheek. “I know.”

 

Castiel let go of Gabriel and collapsed onto the floor, tilting his head forward into his hands, his legs flopping open, unable to hold them up to his chest.

 

“I hate them,” he moaned as Gabriel knelt in front of him.

 

“I know, Cassie.”

 

“What the hell is going on in here?” Dean demanded. “What’d you do to him?”

 

Gabriel let out a chuff of laughter. “Shut up, Dean.” He put his hand on Castiel’s head, threading his fingers through his hair. “It’s okay, Cas.”

 

Castiel moved to his brother, wrapping his arms around his chest, sobbing. “D-don’t tell Sam.”

 

“I won’t, puppy. I promise.”

 

“I don’t hate him.”

 

“I know.”

 

He burrowed closer to Gabriel. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

 

“Hey, don’t be sorry, Cassie. It’s not your fault. You can’t hold onto that. You couldn’t forever. I don’t want you to, been trying to get you to talk about it for ages now.”

 

Castiel leaned back, running his hand over his nose and across his cheek to wipe away all the gunk. “Why me, Gabe? Why me?”

 

Gabriel sighed. “You keep acting like this is the worst thing in the world to ever happen to you. But Cas—why not you? And why is it a bad thing? You get to bring life into the world, you get to mean everything to your mate. It’s a good thing.”

 

 Castiel shuddered. “Why didn’t you ever notice?”

 

Gabriel leaned back against the doorjamb. “Christ, Cas, you’re asking like you think it’s the same thing as growing a third eye or something. It’s not that. It’s just the way you are. You’re still a male, you’re still a werewolf, you’re still you. You’re Castiel Novak, son of Charles and Rebecca Novak, brother of Gabriel The Great and a few others we won’t name who aren’t nearly as great. You are you. You are who you are. You just happen to be an Omega rather than a Beta. Big deal.”

 

“Big deal?” Castiel shouted. “Big deal? My life is a lie and you can just stand there and say big deal?”

 

“It’s not a lie, Cassie. I’m telling you the truth: you are still you. You are still Castiel. Dean? Tell him.”

 

Dean decided to join the two on the floor and sat next to Castiel. “I just wish I knew who it was that you thought you were supposed to be. It’s like you keep trying to be this…thing…and it’s not you. But when you’re you, when you’re funny and sarcastic and you fight with me, I think you’re just the best person I know and I love you.”

 

Castiel sniffed. “But…that’s not what Omegas do, Dean. We’re supposed to—“

 

“Oh, fuck what Omegas are supposed to be, Cas,” Dean growled. “Jeez, do you really think packs have Omegas just lolling around the back rooms, naked in collars, just waiting for their Alphas to breed them? Sure, somewhere that might happen, but not around here, and certainly not in this house! Would you really have gone to be a Beta in a pack that did that? Do you really think that anyone else would either?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

Dean sighed and put his arm around Castiel. “Just…don’t think that I’d think you’re not good for anything except breeding and fucking.”

 

Castiel looked over at his mate. “Do you really love me?”

 

“Of course I love you, asshole.”

 

“And that’s my cue to get out of here,” Gabriel said.

 

They barely looked at him.

 

“I love you too, Dean.”

 

“Are…are you sure, Cas?”

 

Castiel looked up at Dean. “What?”

 

“Are you sure you love me?”

 

“Why would you ask that? Of course I do!” Castiel started feeling hot and cold at the same time, his skin prickling with fear. “Gods, Dean! Yes, I do!”

 

“You go into heat, we have amazing sex for four days, you finally come out of it, we have more amazing sex, and then you completely freak out? What am I supposed to think, Cas?”

 

“No, Dean, please…”

 

“Are you even happy?” Dean asked, his eyes looking sad and tired.

 

“I am happy, Dean. I swear to you that I’m happy. But there are times when I remember what I had and it just…”

 

Dean tipped his chin up. “Tell me what you want. Do you want to finish your education?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you want to go away?”

 

“What? No!”

 

Dean looked relieved by that. “So you want to stay with me?”

 

Castiel thought he might start hyperventilating. “Yes, of course, Dean.” He grabbed Dean’s arm and started to climb into his lap. “I don’t want to leave you, not ever.”

 

Dean wrapped his arms around him, kissed his cheek, nuzzled his hair. “What did I do wrong?”

 

Castiel buried his eyes in Dean’s neck. “Nothing! You didn’t do anything! It was me. I’ve been ignoring it…and then Gabe reminded me that Sam was going to graduate. I was supposed to graduate with him. And now…”

 

Dean petted him. “Thanks for finally opening up.”

 

“I’m sorry I hurt you. I didn’t mean to. Please don’t doubt that I want to be here.”

 

“I’m sorry too. I keep not thinking about the fact that your life was ripped apart just so you could be here with me. I should have made you talk about it.”

 

“It wouldn’t have done any good. I was really burying it.”

 

Dean laughed. “Yeah. Obviously. Look, new deal, okay? If there is anything you want, and I mean anything, college, whatever, you tell me. Don’t hold back. And don’t think I want you to be some submissive little slave. I want you to be my mate.”

 

Castiel kissed him hard. “I am, Dean. And I do love you.”

 

Dean smiled. “Okay. Enough chick flick moments. We need to get this place cleaned up and find out what we’ve been missing out on lately.”

Chapter Text

The second medical examination was pretty much as mortifying and uncomfortable as the first one, but Dean helped Castiel get through it. They were sent home with an at-home pregnancy test to be taken in three weeks, and a clean bill of health. The doctor had even remarked that Dean must have been incredibly in-control and gentle, which Castiel had affirmed with some small amount of satisfaction.

 

Afterwards, Dean smiled a little enigmatically at Castiel, and then drove through the town to a college several miles away.

 

“What is this, Dean?”

 

“Douglas County Omega College. I, uh…I made an appointment for you with a counselor. But if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.”

 

Castiel got out of the car gingerly, looking around the sprawling grounds of the school. Dean came over to him and put his hand on his shoulder, and then Castiel threw himself into his arms. “Thank you, Dean.”

 

Dean smiled and kissed the top of his head. “Glad you’re happy. Come on the admissions office is this way.”

 

The counselor was a werecougar Omega in her thirties, and she smiled happily at Castiel as Dean made himself comfortable in the waiting area.

 

“Tell me about yourself, Mr. Novak,” Miss Clarke said. She had green eyes like Dean and put Castiel at ease immediately.

 

“I haven’t graduated high school yet,” Castiel said. “I…they thought I was a Beta, and then I manifested about a month ago.”

 

Miss Clarke smiled. “Yes, your mate told me on the phone. How are you doing with that, by the way?”

 

Castiel swallowed hard. “Sometimes I’m okay. Sometimes I’m not.”

 

“Sounds about right. But your mate seems a good wolf. He take good care of you?”

 

“The best,” Castiel said with total honesty. “He’s been a friend of my family since I was a pup.”

 

“You had a crush on him, huh?” Miss Clarke said. “I’m a trained psychologist, Mr. Novak. You can’t hide that from me.”

 

“I liked him when I was young, yes,” was all he would allow, not that Miss Clarke couldn’t see right through him. Castiel looked at a picture of Miss Clarke with a young man by her side and a baby on her hip. They were smiling happily at the camera.

 

“Okay, what are your goals? Do you have a specific career in mind, or are you just looking for enrichment?”

 

“I was supposed to be a Beta,” Castiel said. “I’ve never given it any thought beyond that.”

 

“Well, then let’s just start with finishing your education and getting your diploma first, and you can start thinking about the rest as time goes on?”

 

Castiel nodded. “Sounds good.”

 

“And not to be forward, but we do offer actual counseling if you want it. If you don’t want to go with me, then I can find you a counselor that you will feel comfortable with. A man, or whatever you’d prefer.”

 

Castiel felt warmth spread through his chest. “I’d love to speak with you, Miss Clarke.”

 

Castiel found Dean looking at pamphlets, fending off the advances of a young Omega.

 

“Is that right?” Dean was murmuring, appearing as disinterested as possible.

 

“Oh, yeah,” the girl said happily. “Yeah, he’s just a great professor and he knows, like, everything!”

 

“Cas!”

 

Castiel smiled. “I swear to all gods, absent and present, I leave you alone for five minutes…”

 

Dean grabbed him by the hips and gave him a nice, long kiss.

 

“Can’t trust you off your leash, can I?” Castiel continued to tease, giving the Omega a little nod as he pulled Dean out of the office.

 

“Maybe I just really wanted angry, jealous sex later.”

 

“Later? You’ll be lucky if we make it to the Impala,” Castiel shot back, still pulling Dean along by his hand.

 

Dean tried very valiantly not to look smug. “I was just looking at the pamphlets, babe, she was coming onto me.”

 

“Uh huh.”

 

“You know I’m not into girls.”

 

“I don’t know, she was a busty Asian beauty…”

 

Dean pushed Castiel up against the passenger door of the Impala and kissed him soundly. “You jerk,” he growled.

 

“Assbutt,” Castiel said back playfully.

 

“Assbutt?” Dean asked, laughing. “That the best you got?”

 

“If the ass fits it…”

 

“I think you’re just obsessed with my ass.”

 

Castiel grabbed a handful. “Yeah, seems like it.”

 

“You know,” Dean said thoughtfully as he opened the door, “we’re probably going to have to get you a car.”

 

“My own car?” Castiel asked when Dean slid in the driver’s seat.

 

“Yeah. What do you think? Pontiac Firebird? Mustang Shelby? Volkswagen Thing?”

 

Castiel smiled. “Any car I want?”

 

“If I can find it.”

 

“I want an old Cadillac. Like, a fifties Cadillac with the fins and everything.”

 

“Pink?”

 

Castiel smacked Dean on the shoulder. “Black. As black as you can get it.”

 

Dean’s grin got huge. “Only if you promise to play nothing but Johnny Cash while you drive.”

 

“And if you can only find parts for it, you’ll have to get it one piece at a time…”

 

Dean laughed. “You’re going to make me sing now.”

 

“And we’ll have to put a Deadhead sticker on it.”

 

“Of course, though now you’re just mixing your genres.”

 

“My counselor is an Omega,” Castiel said with wonder, abruptly changing the subject.

 

“Everyone at the college is an Omega. It’s the biggest Omega college in the state. Packs from all over the Midwest send their Omegas here. And not just wolves, either. Any shifter can send their Omegas.”

 

Castiel looked down at the pamphlets Dean had grabbed, everything from nursing to culinary arts. “Thanks, Dean.”

 

Dean cupped his face. “Anything, Cas. Anything.”

 

~~~~~~

 

It turned out that everyone in the pack had either advice or an opinion on what Castiel should major in.

 

“I’m just saying, think about how well you cook now and how much better you could cook if you became a classically trained chef,” Ash had said at dinner that first night.

 

The next day after Castiel led the girls, Balthazar and Garth through an hour-long yoga session, Madison suggested he become a yoga instructor.

 

“My ass hasn’t been this tight since before I discovered beer,” Balthazar said in encouragement of the idea.

 

“And my chi is definitely in perfect alignment,” Garth had agreed.

 

Charlie nodded. “Yeah, my girlfriend commented on my flexibility last night.”

 

“Darling, you must allow me to watch to be sure of that,” Balthazar teased, earning him a well-placed punch from Jo.

 

“Why not business administration?” Ellen asked, ever practical.

 

“Because Dean wants him to be happy, Mom. He doesn’t want him to kill himself with boredom.”

 

“Fair enough.”

 

Castiel felt amused by his pack’s interest, but more than that, he felt happy that none of them had tried to discourage him or tell him that he was “only” an Omega and that it wasn’t important. All of them deemed it worthy of his time and effort.

 

Even Rufus had cornered Castiel and said, “Just find something that’ll make you happy. Half the world’s problems could be solved if everyone just did something to make them happy. What makes you happy, Castiel? That’s what you’ve got to find out.”

 

Dean, for his part, was happy hunting down a ’55 Cadillac El Dorado. By the end of the week, he had managed to find a chassis from a junk yard, and Bobby Singer, who seemed to love old cars as much as Dean and John, offered the name of a salvager who could help find parts for it.

 

“I’m guessing you’ll want white wall tires,” Dean said, throwing his arm over Castiel’s shoulder as they stared at the hulking piece of rotting junk currently sitting in the driveway.

 

“At this point, I’ll be happy with just the axels,” Castiel answered.

 

Dean just laughed and John rubbed his hands together with glee. “By the end of the month, you won’t recognize her,” the elder Alpha said.

 

Castiel hoped not. He had every bit of faith in his mate, however, and whenever he checked on the hunk of junk, it looked less junky and more like something Elvis might be seen in. By the time Dean painted it black, even Johnny Cash himself would have been happy to sit down in it.

 

“Wow,” Castiel said about six weeks later, looking at the shiny chrome where once there were only rust stains.

 

“Right?” Dean asked, throwing a shop towel down. “Come look at this engine. Dad got you eight cylinders.”

 

“And since we built everything ourselves, the gas economy should be pretty comparable with…well, it won’t be as bad as the original,” Balthazar said. He was currently busy tightening up thingies and what’s-it’s under the hood. Castiel didn’t even try to follow as the car jocks walked him through everything that was happening with the car.

 

“Oh, and the best part?” Dean said, grabbing Castiel’s iphone and moving to the driver’s door. “Sit down in here and turn her on, sweetheart.” Dean leaned over and plugged the phone into the dock near the radio.

 

Castiel slid into the brand new black leather that held him like a lover’s caress and put the key into the ignition, turning it over. Johnny Cash’s “Orangeblossom Special” came blaring out over the sound system.

 

“Eight speakers, sub-woofer, hands-free system. You name it, it’s all state of the art, but we wired it all to the original sound system which is why it still looks retro. It’s the original stereo face.”

 

Castiel smiled, running his hand over the laminated wood of the original stereo. It was way more than he was hoping for. “Dean this is amazing. You’re amazing.”

 

Dean smiled back. “I know.”

 

“You know, some of us helped too,” Balthazar groused.

 

John laughed. “Gonna have to let that one go, big guy. Cas only has eyes for Dean.”

 

“Not a Johnny Cash song, Alpha,” Balthazar shot back, but in good humor.

 

John lowered the hood. “Wanna take her for a spin, Cas?”

 

Castiel nodded, still looking at Dean, who was leaning in the window. “I do, John.”

 

“Lower the top, then, it’s a gorgeous day.”

 

Castiel took his eyes from his mate and unhooked the convertible latches, then pressed the button that would put the top down. “This is so awesome.”

 

Dean went to the passenger side and jumped in, not bothering with the door.

 

“We’ll get the next ride, then?” Balthazar continued to tease.

 

Castiel laughed. “Get in, Bal. You too, John. You both deserve it!”

 

John grabbed Balthazar’s shirt before the Theta could do just that. “We’ll be fine, Cas. We’ve already ridden in it while we were in the testing phase. You pups go and have your fun.”

 

Dean grabbed the iphone and changed the song to “Ring of Fire,” the trumpets heralding Castiel’s exit from the grounds.

 

~~~~~~~

 

Dean watched with rapture as Castiel cruised his boat of a car around the town. Everywhere they went, people pointed or honked at the pretty Cadillac, smiling and giving them thumb’s up for how awesome it was. And it was indeed. And Castiel was perfect driving it around, his sunglasses as black as the car, his hair blowing in the breeze. His smile was beautiful, the most beautiful thing Dean had ever seen, and he reveled in the fact that he had given Castiel this amount of freedom.

 

“Where to?” he asked over Johnny’s cover of “Solitary Man.”

 

“Let’s go say hi to my dad,” Castiel replied, heading onto the road that would lead them to the Sheriff’s office.

 

“Watch this,” Dean said, hitting a button on the stereo. “Call Dad.”

 

The phone rang over the sound system.  

 

“Cas?”

 

“Hey, Dad!”

 

“Where are you? You sound like you’re on the back of a bike. Is Dean driving you on a motorcycle?”

 

Castiel laughed again. “I’m in my own car, Dad!”

 

“What? The hunk of junk!”

 

“Easy there, Chuck!” Dean said defensively. “This beauty is up and running.”

 

“Can we come and see you, Dad?”

 

Chuck was obviously laughing on the other side of the phone. “You’d better get your butt down here!”

 

“Okay, ETA in five minutes!”

 

Dean laughed out loud as Castiel pressed the gas pedal down and barely managed to get the car up to 55mph.

 

“We’re working on it!” he promised when Castiel shot him a look. “Just be happy it’s running at all.”

 

Castiel smiled back. “It’s okay. This is the sort of car that’s supposed to be ridden slow and steady.”

 

Dean felt himself quicken at the look Castiel then shot him and he smiled in return. Castiel had been feisty ever since he sent him to the college, and he definitely seemed happier since he had been seeing the counselor. Dean felt a pang of guilt at that idea. Maybe he should have suggested the counselor earlier. He asked Castiel about it, but he had been adamant that he wouldn’t have seen a counselor before. He had to see how much he was hurting before he would accept it.

 

At the Sheriff station, Chuck and Bobby came out to look the car over and show their approval.

 

Well, approval might have been too strong of a word where Bobby was concerned. The older Alpha opened the hood and gave Dean a look. “You could hear the carburetor rattling all the way down the lane,” he grumbled.

 

“Yeah, it came loose the last mile or so. We’ll fix it when we get home.”

 

Castiel and Chuck just stood off to the side, watching the car guys at work. Chuck was texting someone while he and Castiel spoke, and then a few minutes later, Anna came out of the building and ran straight into her brother’s arms.

 

“He pupped yet?” Bobby asked gruffly.

 

“No. We’ve been careful. He just signed up for college, and I don’t want to take that from him so soon.”

 

“I’m sure there are plenty of parents at the college, plenty of pregnancies.”

 

Dean shrugged. “Yeah, but what’s the rush? We’ve got a couple hundred years to do it.”

 

“You’re telling me you can wait that long to have pups?”

 

“No, but…I have to take care of my mate.”

 

Bobby clapped him on the shoulder. “Good boy.”

 

Castiel approached them, arm-in-arm with Anna, Chuck following behind. “What do you think?”

 

“She’s beautiful,” Bobby said with sincerity. “I’d be proud to drive her.”

 

Castiel smiled worshipfully at Dean.

 

“So, Dean says you’re starting college in the fall,” Bobby said, bringing Castiel’s attention away from Dean.

 

“Yes! I’m taking a few courses over the internet for the summer to get me caught up, and then I start basic education in September. Still haven’t picked a major yet, and I’m not really looking forward to being the oldest person there.”

 

“Why would you be the oldest person there?” Bobby asked.

 

“Because. All the Omegas graduated two years ahead of me…they’ll all be so much younger than me.”

 

Bobby scoffed at that. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about university courses, it’s that you’re never the youngest in the class, and you’re never the oldest neither. You’ll be fine. Plenty of Omegas are behind on their schooling because of pregnancy, or families that don’t think educating them is worth anything. You won’t be anything weird.”

 

Castiel smiled warmly at that. “You think so?”

 

“I know so. Now get this car home and tighten up those screws.”

 

Dean and Castiel smiled and said goodbye to Chuck, knowing they had been dismissed. Chuck and Anna promised to come by on Sunday for dinner, and with a few parting kisses, they were ready to go.

 

Dean slid in next to Castiel and grinned. “Now what?”

 

Castiel answered his smile shyly. “Well…I was thinking, we have this big backseat. Maybe we should christen it?”

 

“You’re going to kill me, Cas.”

 

“Yeah, but what a way to go!”

 

Castiel drove them to a very secluded area in the Winchester Woods and Dean slid into the backseat, hand clasping Castiel’s, dragging him back with him, both of them grinning like virgins. Dean couldn’t get Castiel naked fast enough, couldn’t wait to worship every inch of his mate’s skin. And when they finally joined, the look of wonder that lit up Castiel’s face still, even after they had been mated for more than a month was a sight to see. He was sure it would still be in a hundred, two hundred years. Forever.

 

When they finally made it back to the house, Gabriel and Sam were ready to tease them both, and Balthazar and Ash were chomping at the bit to join in, but didn’t quite dare for fear of reprisals from either mate.

 

“Dad said you left the Sheriff’s office two hours ago, baby bro,” Gabriel needled.

 

“Sheriff Singer was about to send out a search party. He thought maybe the carburetor finally detached completely,” Sam added.

 

Benny was the only one unamused, though Ash and Balthazar laughed heartily.

 

“All right, pack business,” Benny said in his smooth Louisiana drawl.

 

“This is pack business, Benny,” Gabriel told him. “There hasn’t been a pup in the Winchester pack since Jo was born, and I haven’t seen one since Castiel. Don’t you think it’s time to remedy that?”

 

Benny rolled his eyes. “Castiel just started back to school. He don’t want no pups right now.”

 

Castiel blushed at that, and Dean noticed but said nothing.

 

“Hey, why don’t all of you stop trying to tell me and Cas what we do or don’t want?” Dean suggested. “Why don’t we turn our minds to the fact that some of you are well past the age of manifestation and still single, Gabriel.”

 

Gabriel smirked. “I’m working on it, Deano.”

 

Dean’s eyes narrowed at Sam’s sudden interest in other things. “Working on it?”

 

Gabriel slapped Sam on the chest as he walked away. “Working on it!” he called over his shoulder.

 

“Sammy…”

 

Sam held up his hands. “I have other things to do!”

 

Castiel laughed and followed Charlie and Jo into the den. “Poor Sam.”

 

Jo snickered. “Poor Gabriel. Dean’s gonna kill him.”

 

“Gabe will be lucky if Dean kills him,” Charlie amended.

 

Castiel just shook his head and settled onto the sofa. As per usual, he picked up a paper to look through the want ads to see if anything jumped out at him for an occupation he might enjoy.

 

“Oh, put that away!” Madison ordered. “I got you a personality quiz.”

 

“What? Like Myers-Briggs?”

 

Madison nodded and set an ipad in Castiel’s lap. “Here you go, it’ll tell you what you are.”

 

“Oh, please, Maddie!” Balthazar shouted, pulling the ipad from Castiel’s lap. “Let Cas do this his own way. It’s his life, let him lead it.”

 

Castiel was about to answer when he heard shouting down the hall, so he went to investigate.

 

“…my little brother, and I just feel I have the right to know certain things!”

 

“You’re overreacting, Dean, I haven’t touched Sam! And it’s really unfair considering what you’ve been doing to my little brother.”

 

“What about my opinion in this, Dean?” Sam asked.

 

Castiel came up behind his mate and took his arm. “Dean, it’s okay.”

 

Dean somewhat unconsciously snaked his arm around Castiel’s shoulders and pulled him against his side.

 

“Okay,” John boomed, his voice filling the hallway. Behind him, Ellen and Rufus were frowning, and behind them, the Thetas were taking everything in. “Anyone mind telling me what’s going on in here?”

 

Dean turned to his father. “Gabriel is trying to seduce Sammy, Dad.”

 

John laughed. “Finally figured that one out, did you? You and Castiel have been so tied up in each other, I’m surprised you surfaced enough to see it. Or did you have help?”

 

Dean looked down, his ears red.

 

“Dean, Gabriel is a good wolf. He won’t hurt your brother. And he trusts you with his. You think he loves Castiel less than you love Sam?”

 

“No one could ever love anyone as much as I love Sam,” Dean answered. He sounded so sure, so completely truthful that Castiel’s heart lurched. He was sure that Dean never, ever doubted himself. It was the mark of a true Alpha.

 

John just smiled. “At least give him a chance, pup.”

 

Dean grumbled something in response, so Castiel took his hand and led him into their office. “Come on, Dean. It’ll all be okay.”

 

Dean shot one last look at Gabriel over his shoulder, holding two fingers to his eyes, and then pointing them back at Gabriel. Gabriel just smiled and waved in return.

Chapter Text

The Brick in the Wall Nightclub had a standing invitation for Dean and any of his pack on Saturday nights, so Castiel and Dean often went there to unwind while the Thetas ran security for other places. They had Gabriel with them, and he was busy being charming with the owner, who still didn’t have a set team of security, just a few werepanther bouncers. Gabriel was trying to change that.

 

Dean and Castiel were sitting at the bar, holding hands and talking. Dean kept shooting looks at a dark haired Beta who was staring hungrily at Castiel. Castiel in turn was doing his best to distract Dean from the Beta, and if that meant a lot of public kissing, then so be it.

 

When Castiel excused himself to go to the restroom, Dean licked the side of his face. “I’ll be over with Gabriel when you get out. Be careful.”

 

Castiel rolled his eyes. “I’ll be fine, Dean. Trust me, the Beta would be an idiot to try anything.”

 

“Yeah, well, he looks pretty stupid if you ask me.”

 

Castiel went to the men’s room, and when he exited the cubicle, the Beta was standing there waiting for him.

 

“I was hoping to get you alone,” he said. He had an English accent, and even though he was handsome, something about his looks set Castiel on edge. He just looked evil.

 

“I’m mated,” Castiel said, going to the sink and washing his hands.

 

“Yes, I saw. Quite a large mate you’ve got. Quite dishy.”

 

“Then you must understand why I’m not interested in you.”

 

The male nodded. “Yes, if looks were anything to go by. And he’s certainly an Alpha. Could feel him the minute he walked in the door. But, my darling, you haven’t heard what I can do for you yet.”

 

“I’m not interested,” Castiel said, feeling uneasy. He wished he had just stayed with Dean, no matter how much he had drunk or how strong the call of nature had been.

 

“Here, love, just take this card, and if you ever want to change your mind, you give me a call, yeah?”

 

Castiel stared at the little white card in the male’s hand. “No. Thank you, but I’m really not interested.”

 

The Beta reached into his jacket and pulled out a little packet. “How’s about I sweeten the deal? Take this, free of charge.”

 

Castiel stared at the packet. “Why would I take anything from you?”

 

“It’s a friendly gesture, love. Just a gift from your old friend Crowley. And you know it’s rude to refuse a gift.”

 

Castiel took the packet and the card, figuring he could get rid of the Beta if he complied. As he took them, Crowley grabbed his hand and brought him close, smelling behind his ear.

 

“Ooh, yes, you’re sweet, my darling.”

 

Castiel growled and shoved him away. “You’re not. And you’d better have gotten a good sniff, because it’ll be your last.”

 

He smiled, completely unperturbed. “We shall see, my pretty pup.”

 

Castiel made his way back to Dean and Gabriel, and Dean immediately grabbed him. “He touched you!”

 

Castiel held onto Dean. “It’s okay, I took care of him.”

 

“Did you punch him in the fucking face? ‘Cause that’s what I call taking care of him!”

 

Castiel held out the packet and the card. “He gave me this. What is it?”

 

Gabriel took it before Dean could, looking over the card, his eyebrows raising. He turned to the club owner and said, “Looks like you’ve got yourself a drug problem here.”

 

Dean stared at Gabriel. “What?”

 

Gabriel opened the little packet and dumped a couple of pills into his hand. “Eve’s Monsters. Eve McLeod is the Alpha of a drug pack, and her Beta, Crowley, sort of runs shit for her.”

 

Castiel gulped. “That’s what his name was. Crowley.”

 

Dean pointed a finger at Gabriel. “You are going to explain exactly how you know all of this, Gabe.” And then he turned to Jason. “And you are going to tell me why you let this guy in here.”

 

Jason raised his hands in surrender. “I just let people in here, man. I don’t know anything else.”

 

Dean unlocked his phone and called Sheriff Singer, and within a few minutes, a werewolf called Inias was escorting Dean, Castiel, Gabriel and Jason to Jason’s office.

 

“Tell me exactly what happened, Mr. Novak,” Inias said, pulling out his iPad to scribble down notes.

Castiel relayed the whole story, not even leaving out how Crowley had smelled him, though Dean growled at that. 

 

“Unfortunately, you’re just exactly his type, Mr. Novak,” Inias told him. “Jason, I strongly suggest you bring in some sort of security to keep Crowley and his pushers out of here. You really don’t want to deal with the McLeod pack. People tend to die around them.”

 

Jason nodded. “I was actually about to sign with Gabriel anyway.”

 

Gabriel gave Dean a smug smile as if to say, “See? I’m useful!”

 

Dean scowled at Gabriel and pulled Castiel against his side. “What do you mean people tend to die around the McLeod pack? Is Cas in danger?” 

 

Inias shrugged. “Who knows? He could have just attracted Crowley for a night. But if he becomes obsessed with him, it may prove problematic. I’d keep your Omega close, Mr. Winchester. At least until I can find out what Crowley wants with him.”

 

Castiel hated being referred to as Dean’s property. It was true he belonged to his mate, but he wasn’t property. He belonged to Dean the way that Dean belonged to him; it was an equal partnership.

 

Dean squeezed his shoulder as if he knew his thoughts, and Castiel nuzzled his neck, not really caring if Gabriel and the others saw. He was a wolf, and he was allowed to be affectionate in public, dammit.

 

“I’m pretty sure Cas can handle himself,” Gabriel told Inias.

 

“I’m not saying he can’t. I’m just saying everyone should be careful. Crowley is a difficult wolf to trap. We’ve been trying for five years, and we are no closer to getting to him now than we were then. You know this, Gabriel.”

 

Gabriel snorted. “I know what I needed to know about Lilith to make sure my brother was safe from her. I had no idea that Crowley might be a threat to him as well.”

 

Dean growled low in his throat. “Gabriel, I swear to the gods, you’d better start explaining yourself.”

 

Gabriel nodded. “Later. I’ll tell you all about it later.”

 

Inias put Crowley’s business card and the packet of drugs in a little evidence bag, then stood up. “Well, there’s nothing else I can do here. It’s really Castiel’s word against Crowley’s about whether he gave him the drugs or not, and the only one I could really arrest is Castiel for possession…which I won’t do,” he added when Dean looked like he was about to deck him.

 

Castiel sighed. “Dean, let’s go home.”

 

He let Dean take Inias’s information, staying close to his side, Dean’s arm warm and sure around his waist. The ride home was tense with Gabriel in the backseat, being silent, Dean driving, being even quieter. He didn’t blast his music as he usually did, and aside from his hand on Castiel’s knee, he seemed almost robotic. Castiel felt like he should say something to try and alleviate the tension, but he couldn’t think of anything. Gabriel was his brother, and he had apparently gone behind Dean’s back to do something to keep Castiel safe. Dean was his mate, and he didn’t like being left out of it. Especially if it meant keeping Castiel safe. And Castiel was frankly a little more than upset about that fact that both of them felt the need to keep him safe rather than just trust him to take care of himself.

 

At the house, Gabriel knocked on John’s door and waited for permission to enter. John looked perplexed, but opened his door for the trio as they stepped inside.

 

It was the first time Castiel had been in the office, and he was unsurprised at the interior. Everything was organized chaos. Schedules lined the wall, held together by some sort of String Theory. Every Theta group was accounted for, and a map of Lawrence was at the center of it all. The desk was huge and organized with piles of folders here and there, and in the middle was the huge screen of John’s iMac.

 

“Okay, what’s going on?” the elder Alpha asked as he shooed the trio into chairs.

 

“Castiel had a run-in with Crowley at the club,” Gabriel explained.

 

Dean threw his hands in the air. “Oh, great, so my own father’s in on this too?”

 

“Now, son, it’s not what you think.”

 

“I don’t know what I think , Dad! Why wouldn’t you tell me if you thought there was danger for Castiel out there?”

 

Castiel frowned. “What danger, exactly? What did I do?”

 

“Oh, Cas! You didn’t do anything!” John told him. “No, it was Lilith. Ellen, she remembered a female Alpha called Lilith being mentioned in an article, and she checked it out and realized that Lilith was the princess in a drug dealing pack. She just wanted to make sure Lilith wasn’t going to come after you after your little confrontation at Target.”

 

“So…you called the police?” Dean asked, incredulous.

 

“I called Bobby Singer who was more than happy to help me figure her out once he realized I was worried about Castiel. Gabriel did all the leg work, with Ellen. And we determined that Lilith was no threat. That was all. I think she’s forgotten Castiel completely.”

 

“She has an Alpha friend, Alastair, that she runs around with,” Gabriel said. “He’s probably keeping her mind otherwise occupied. I don’t think Castiel’s run-in with Crowley had anything to do with her, I just think he happens to be his type, caught his eye.”

 

“Lucky me,” Castiel muttered.

 

Dean pulled him closer. “So? Now what? Do we issue a challenge?”

 

John shrugged. “You tell me what you want to do. Do you find Crowley to be a threat to your mate? Or was he just a passing fancy? Maybe Crowley hoped to get Cas hooked on his Monsters so that Cas would be desperate enough to do anything to get more. Who knows? Let’s be careful about this.”

 

“Right, the Sheriff’s office is working on it,” Gabriel reminded them.

 

“Yeah, and Inias said he’s no closer to getting to the bottom of the issue than he was five years ago!” Dean said.

 

“Dean, it’s not our fight. It doesn’t matter to our pack,” John said. “It will only get our members killed.”

 

Castiel watched his mate’s face as Dean worked through all of this information. Dean certainly didn’t want any members of his pack dying. He loved them all, even Balthazar. But the thought of his mate being in potential danger went against a wolf’s nature. The wolf would demand that Dean do everything possible to keep Castiel safe.

 

“Dean, it’s okay,” Castiel said. “Look, I’m sure that Lilith and Crowley have nothing to do with each other. I’m sure it’s just coincidence.”

 

“That’s a hell of a lot of coincidence,” Dean replied.

 

“All I know is that the pack dynamics for the McLeod’s are the most complicated I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think I want any of us getting in the middle of it,” John said. “Really, Dean, it’s not our fight.”

 

“My mate, my fight,” Dean said.

 

Castiel sighed. “Dean…come on. Let’s just wait and see if Crowley tries anything.”

 

“Listen to your mate,” John said.

 

“Yeah, I’m gonna side with Cas on this one,” Gabriel agreed. “Crowley is bad news. Inias was right; people tend to die around him. As long as we don’t make any overt displays, he should back off. He’ll get side tracked in time by some other wolf.”

 

Castiel threaded his fingers through the hair at the back of Dean’s head. “I know it goes against your nature, Dean. But you have to let things go sometimes. I don’t want to get in a fight with Crowley. We’ll just lay low for a few weeks, and let the law do their job.”

 

“But I want to know why it was kept a secret from me. From us.”

 

“Because,” John said, “Cas was really close to his first heat, and I was afraid you would go to the McLeod pack, both guns blazing, and start an all out war. Remember you were ready to tear my throat out because I reached out to touch him?”

 

Dean nodded. “Fair enough.”

 

“Yeah, fair enough.”

 

“But no more secrets.”

 

John sighed. “Fine. No more secrets. Not that it was. It just wasn’t anything to worry about. But now you know about the drug pack, and if we’re going to start offering security to night clubs, I guess we need to know more about them, and we might need new members, too.”

 

“I can start recruiting,” Gabriel said. “Lots of Thetas just graduated and are probably looking for packs to join.”

 

“Sounds good,” John agreed. “You and Sam get started on that. Work with Dean to decide what your hiring strategy will be. New Thetas need to fit well with the ones we already have.”

 

Gabriel nodded. “Sounds good. I’m sure Sammy can help with that.”

 

Dean frowned. “I’m the only one who calls him Sammy.”

 

“Of course,” Gabriel said smoothly, and Castiel raised an eyebrow at him. Gabriel just shrugged in return as if to say, “Just keeping him happy.”

 

Castiel led Dean back to their bedroom to reassure him the best way he knew how that he was his, and that he was fine, and that they would be okay.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Dean awoke to the warm and comforting weight of Castiel at his side. His mate was snuggled in deep under Dean’s arm, his nose nuzzling against his chest.

 

“Daddy?” Castiel murmured. He talked in his sleep. Sometimes it could be disturbing, but usually it was just harmless memories. He stroked his fingers through Castiel’s wild hair and listened. “Did I kill my mommy?”

 

“No, sweetheart,” Dean answered. “You didn’t kill her.”

 

“Michael said…mrph…”

 

“Michael’s an ass.” Dean had had the same conversation with Sam before. Of course, his mother had been alive for the first six months of Sam’s life and Castiel’s mother had died shortly after childbirth, but Sam still blamed himself, sure that the nursery fire that killed her had something to do with him. “Cas, it’s time to wake up now, sweetheart,” he murmured, stroking a little harder against this back. “Wake up now, babe.”

 

“Hmmm?”

 

Dean watched him as he awoke, noticing the fluctuations of his beautiful face. Dean leaned down and nuzzled his hair with his nose, smelling his fresh scent, blackberries on a warm sunny day in the forest, clean clear water. Castiel was so innocent and kind, always finding a way to negotiate away violence and anger, like he had last night. Always thinking of something clever rather than using brute force.

 

Omegas were the brains of the pack. Dean didn’t deserve him, he knew that. But he loved him anyway.

 

“Dean?”

 

“Hey, baby.”

 

Castiel smiled. “You call your car baby.”

 

“What do I call you, then?”

 

“Hmmm…you call me sweetheart.” Castiel opened his eyes and squinted in the morning sunlight. “You’d better call me sweetheart.”

 

“Morning, sweetheart.”

 

Castiel smiled, then turned over and buried his head under a pillow.

“You do realize you’re completely naked?”

 

“Mmmspfh.”

 

Dean smiled wide, staring down Castiel’s body. “I’m not complaining, I’m just pointing out that you’re completely naked, no covers, and you’re on your stomach.”

 

“’Erk.”

 

“Hey, I call you sweetheart and you call me assbutt. I thought we had agreed on that. Only Sam calls me jerk.”

 

“Ssshhhhhbt.”

 

Dean started to kiss up and down his back. “Don’t be like that, sweetheart. Why don’t you come out of there and show me your pretty face?”

 

Castiel raised one hand and flipped him off.

 

“I’d love to fuck you, yes,” Dean said, highly amused. Castiel was sometimes just not a morning person, and he was always adorable and combative when he wasn’t. “What’s the matter? Didn’t you sleep well?”

 

Castiel’s sleeping habits were one of the many things Dean tried to keep track of. Omegas sleeping too much tended to be a first sign of pregnancy, as well as ravenous hunger.

 

Castiel finally emerged from the pillow. “Bad dreams. All night.”

 

Dean slid on top of Castiel and kissed his cheek. “Why do you think you had bad dreams? Was it because of Crowley?”

 

Castiel made a face. “Maybe. Him, everything else.”

 

Dean started to massage his mate’s shoulders, pressing between the blades, making him moan. “Wait, what’s everything else?” Dean only knew about Crowley. “Has something else been bothering you? Or someone else?” Had someone in the pack hurt him or bothered him in some way?

 

Castiel turned over and put his arms around Dean’s neck. “Nothing, really. I just have a lot on my mind. School, my major, the pack, you, us.”

 

“What about us?” Were they having a problem he didn’t know about?

 

“Nothing about us. Just…us in general. Being mated and everything. It’s a lot for me, Dean. And I feel like I should be getting pregnant because everybody wants a pup…I want a pup too. Am I being selfish, going to school when I should have a pup?”

 

Dean laughed. “Wow, if this is what it’s like to be the brains, I’m glad I’m the brawn. You’re worrying too much. When we have pups, it’ll be because we’re both ready. You need to do what you need to do to make yourself happy. That was the whole point of sending you to school. But if it’s not making you happy, then you stop. End of story.”

 

Castiel kissed him. “But what about you, Dean? Are you happy?”

 

The look of concern on his face was all Dean needed to know that he had the best mate in the world. Who else would be so concerned about him? Dean was so used to taking care of everyone in his pack, and his role as Alpha meant that his competence was never questioned. Yet here Castiel was, making sure he was happy and that his needs were met. “You make me so happy, Cas. You make me very happy. Don’t ever think you don’t.”

 

Dean realized then what it was that Castiel and Gabriel had brought to the pack. They cared about them. It was love of a sort. Familial love, maybe. Not that Rufus didn’t care, he did. But he had been a Beta for centuries, and he had seen Alphas and Thetas come and go. He couldn’t bring himself to get too attached any more. For Gabriel and Castiel, the caring was as much a part of the job as stockpiling toilet paper. Every meal was cooked with love, every towel warmed with caring, every piece of inventory taken with the good of the pack at the center.

 

“Cas, if you see Crowley when I’m not with you, I want you to put your head down, be polite, and get to me no matter where I am.”

 

Castiel nodded. “Okay.”

 

“Wait, you’re not going to argue with me?”

 

“Crowley scared me. Besides, if I tell you I saw him, then you drag me back here and fuck my brains out. It’s like a lose/win situation.”

 

Dean leaned down and kissed him. “If you want me to fuck your brains out, you just have to ask.”

 

“Sometimes when I ask you to do something, you end up doing the exact opposite.”

 

“Then ask me to not fuck your brains out,” Dean said with a smirk, earning him a bright smile from his mate.

 

“I would never take the chance that you might take me seriously.”

 

“Trust me, I never would. Not where that is concerned.”

 

“Dean? Fuck my brains out.”

 

Dean leaned down and kissed him. “Anything you want, sweetheart.”

Chapter Text

There were changes to be made to the house, and one of the cottages had to be outfitted for Rufus so that he could retire in peace. Castiel sent out a few contractor inquiries and got some quotes to put in a ramp so Rufus wouldn’t have to navigate stairs with his new hip, and to have the bathroom fitted out with safety bars around the toilet and in the shower stall. They had already chosen one of the one-story cottages for him, and he seemed happy with it. Madison and Jo seemed excited to start redecorating it, and as a consequence, Castiel’s desk was covered in plans, paint chips, and swatches of fabric.

 

Rufus himself had decided to stay out of the process as much as possible, and spent much of his time holed up in his room in the large house, playing chess with Sam or Ellen (Ash beat him too many times, and as a result, Rufus beat him with his cane), and basically ordering everyone around. John tended to him most often, a distinction that the pack was happy to pay their Alpha.

 

Word of mouth let unattached Thetas know that the Winchester pack needed new members, and soon Gabriel and Sam were weeding through applications and meeting applicants, trying to stay calm with the amount of werewolves they had coming through the door.

 

Balthazar of course was very interested in bringing in more females. “You want us all mated, right? Well, bring us mates!” he had stated. Sam had just laughed.

 

Sam joked, “What female could possibly deserve you, Bal?”

 

Balthazar shrugged. “I’m sure that somewhere out there, there’s a girl, maybe three, who are special enough.”

 

Gabriel snorted. “I think he means, “What crime could a female have possibly committed to deserve you?””

 

“Ouch. May have walked into that one,” Balthazar said, rubbing his chest as if in pain.

 

“As much as I would love more sisters,” Madison said, “if you’re looking for mates for us, I’d like to remind you that some of us prefer males.”

 

“This is not Gabriel Novak’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you guys. If you want mates, you need to go find your own. I’m not setting you up.”

 

Sam laughed. “Yeah, and I’m not Sam Winchester’s Theta Speed Dating Company. Seriously, you want a date? Go get one.”

 

Madison wasn’t about to be swayed by that logic. “Yeah, anyone we tried to date would be torn apart by all of you, so it’s better if you just find them for us and send them our way.”  

 

Castiel decided it was time to intervene. “Why don’t you guys go and bring in recruits, if it matters that much to you?”

 

Benny smiled. “Now you’re just being logical, Cas.”

 

Dean and John then walked into the den and all the conversation stopped.

 

“Well?” John asked.

 

“Three prospective new members will be coming in today,” Gabriel said. “And we will be hiring based on personality and capability. Looks aren’t really high on the list.”

 

“Can’t expect anyone to be as hot as you, Gabe,” Dean quipped, patting his Beta on the head.

 

Naturlich, kapitan,” Gabriel responded. “Ich bin sehr sportlich.”

 

“I’m sure once I find my German/English dictionary, I’ll think you’re a smug little bastard.”

 

Gabriel just smirked.

 

“I don’t need a German/English dictionary to know that,” Castiel said.

 

Dean nuzzled his neck. “I love it when you’re feisty.”

 

Gabriel rolled his eyes. “Haven’t you two passed the honeymoon phase yet?”

 

“They’ll never pass it,” Madison said dreamily. “They’re adorable.”

 

Jo giggled. “I’d tell them to get a room, but…”

 

“Don’t encourage them,” John finished.

 

Castiel gave Dean a kiss. “I’ve got to go to the store, babe. Need anything?”

 

Dean grabbed his hand. “Take someone with you, kay? Take Benny or Ash.”

 

“I’ll go,” Ash said. “Gotta make sure Cas gets the good beer.”

 

“Pabst Blue Ribbon is piss water,” Gabriel declared.

 

“You said it, brothah,” Benny agreed. “I’d best go m’self and make sure Cas gets the good beer too.”

 

Castiel smiled at Dean. “Okay. They can come.”

 

Dean put his hand on his face. “Thanks for not arguing with me. Boys, keep my mate safe, hear?”

 

“No one will touch a hair on his head,” Ash proclaimed.

 

“He’ll be fine,” Benny promised.

 

They drove to the store in Castiel’s convertible, the top down, singing “Boy Named Sue” at the top of their lungs. Castiel parked in the back of the parking lot like Dean had taught him so that no one would park next to him and scratch his shiny paint job. Not that Dean wouldn’t enjoy touching it up.

 

Castiel somehow knew he would see Lilith. It was almost like he had a premonition about it in his dreams, and so he was unsurprised when he ran into her in the pharmacy while he was refilling his birth control pills.

 

“Oh, it’s a little Cassie bear,” Lilith said.

 

Castiel nodded shortly. “Lilith.” He had promised Dean that he would be polite, so that was what he did.

 

“No watch dogs around you today? Has your mate let you out without a leash?”

 

Castiel smiled. “I have some pack members with me, yes.”

 

“Poor little Cassie bear, can’t go anywhere without protection.”

 

Castiel snorted. “It’s less protection and more the fact that I don’t choose the right beer, really.” He opened his arms. “Notice how they’re not hovering.”

 

“Whatever you have to tell yourself to make it through,” she simpered.

 

An Omega approached her, pale and wasting away. She held a box in her hand. “Mistress.”

 

Lilith took the box and stroked the Omega’s long hair. “Thank you, pet.”

 

“Is that decongestant?” Castiel wondered aloud. Werefolk tended to not get sick, aside from viruses that mutated quickly, so it was odd to see one with any sort of cold medication, or even first aid equipment.“What, do you have a meth lab in the basement?”

 

He cursed himself when he said it because it wasn’t exactly a submissive, unobtrusive thing to say, but Lilith only smiled sickeningly sweet back at him.

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know.”

 

“You know, I don’t think I would,” Castiel replied, then turned to leave. “Good luck with that, Lilith. And be careful, I hear meth labs have a tendency to blow up on you.”

 

Lilith frowned at him. “Whatever.”

 

Castiel found Ash and Benny arguing the merits of lager versus stout.

 

“You all right, Cas?” Benny asked.

 

Castiel nodded. “I’m fine. You two ready? We need to check out.”

 

~~~~~

 

Lilith watched Castiel drive away in his sleek car with his pack mates and frowned at his retreat. She didn’t wish him any ill will, but he was a lot of fun to screw with. If he had been an Alpha, she might have been interested, but as an Omega, and a mated Omega, he had no hold for her. Still, she had seen the way her Uncle Crowley had stared after him, and he might prove useful in the future.

 

Too many of Lilith’s Omegas were ending up dead or in jail, and none of Crowley’s were. It was too much of a coincidence for her to ignore. It was time to take her uncle down, not only for killing her father, but for trying to take over the pack. Alastair had already promised to help her. He liked the idea of being her mate, and mate to a pack as strong as the one her father had built. He was also completely ruthless and more than just a little scary, and she found that exciting.

 

Her Omega opened the door for her, not a huge feat since it was an automatic door. Still, it was obedience like that that you couldn’t buy, and Crowley was trying to take her pets away from her completely. Not if she could help it. And if she had to use Castiel in some way, well…he was just an Omega, wasn’t he? Dean Winchester could find another mate. She couldn’t find another pack. Not one as strong as the one she currently had. It was her father’s work, and she wasn’t about to let it go down the tubes, and she sure as hell wasn’t going to let some Beta like Crowley take it away from her. She would have to ask Alastair about possibly exploiting Crowley’s interest in the Winchester Omega if it came to that.

 

She looked down at the packet of decongestants. Her Omegas bought them at different stores all over the city and brought them home for her mother to cook. Castiel was close to his guess of meth. It was so much more complicated than that. Her mother made Monsters, new ones all the time, ever tweaking the ingredients like a mutated virus to keep their clients as dependant as possible. Lilith only wished Eve would bring that single-mindedness to holding onto the pack, rather than cavalierly throwing it over to Crowley every chance she got.

 

Lilith supposed it was up to herself alone to try and hold onto her father’s legacy.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Dean had to sniff Castiel from toe to crown to make sure Lilith hadn’t hurt or bothered him, but in the end, he believed his mate that he was fine.

 

“It’s okay, Dean,” Castiel reiterated as Dean licked his cheek. They were sitting on the sofa in their sitting room, hands clasped between them.

 

“I just wish I knew what was up with this McLeod pack. Why do they care about you?”

 

“Lilith just cares that she made me manifest. That’s all. Crowley…probably has other intentions.”

 

Dean sat back. “We need to talk about this. Tell me what she did to you. You’ve been skirting this issue since you came to me, and I feel I have a right to know.”

 

Castiel looked obviously uncomfortable at that, but he didn’t argue. “It wasn’t anything huge. I was coming out of the locker room after a game of basketball, and she just sort of cornered me by the door and told me I smelled good, like an Omega in heat and…and then I went into heat. You know the rest.”

 

Dean threaded his fingers through Castiel’s hair. “Aggressive Alpha made you go into heat.”

 

Incomplete heat,” Castiel reminded him. “Only you got me to go into my true heat. Remember?”

 

Dean slowly and carefully sucked Castiel’s lower lip into his mouth and then bit down. “Yeah, I remember. That was all me, sweetheart.”

 

Castiel slid into his lap and wrapped his arms around Dean’s neck. Dean was happy to kiss him in the sitting room, but just as Castiel started pulling at his shirt, pushing his hands underneath to feel Dean’s chest, Dean grabbed his mate and carried him to the bed, falling onto the softness of the mattress with him.

 

“You deserve a bed and sheets,” he murmured, lifting Castiel’s shirt and kissing his way down to the button on his jeans.

 

“Except when we’re in the backseat of the car.”

 

Dean smirked against his belly as he unbuttoned the placket. “Well, our cars are special, magical places.”

 

Castiel gasped, grabbing at Dean’s hair when Dean took him into his mouth. “Your mouth is a special, magical place.”

 

Dean hummed his laugh around Castiel’s length, making his mate gasp and arch. Dean pulled off with a fond kiss, not wanting Castiel to be too far ahead of him. He stood up and stripped off Castiel’s jeans and boxers, then stared down at him as he removed his own shirt, drinking in the long, lithe body of his mate.

 

Castiel lounged on his back, one arm behind his head, his other hand idly stroking up and down his stomach as he watched Dean strip slowly. His eyes were dark as they roamed over Dean, hungry and wanting.

 

Dean planted his knee between Castiel’s and bent over him, taking his mouth, finding his tongue, tasting it, feeling it with his own, tasting Castiel fully as he brought their bodies together, sliding against his mate, letting him feel his body. Castiel leaned up and kissed him, opening his legs more and angling his hips for better access. Dean took the opportunity and pressed in just a bit, feeling Castiel’s moan in his mouth.

 

Castiel was all tightness and heat, and when he was turned on, his scent got even sweeter. Dean sniffed at him, licking along his neck and jaw as he slid home, making Castiel arch against him.

 

“Feel good, sweetheart?”

 

“Fuck, so good, Dean.”

 

Dean gave Castiel one more kiss, then got up on his knees, pulling Castiel with him so that his hips rested on Dean’s knees, his body angled downward so that Dean could see every delicious inch of it as he thrust in and out. Castiel’s eyelids lowered, the blue standing out of the small slits. Anyone might think he was falling asleep, but Dean knew his mate was still very much with him, Castiel’s hands over his while Dean held his hips, flexing ever so slightly with each thrust.

 

When Castiel was in heat, their matings were rough and frenzied, so when he wasn’t, Dean took advantage and went slow and steady, drawing out Castiel’s pleasure like a fine silk thread. Castiel never complained. When he wasn’t in heat, he did not take control in the bedroom in any way, though when he was, he had no problem pushing Dean back and riding him hard and fast. It was almost like having two lovers, and he wished sometimes he could get the two together.

 

Being an Alpha, Dean had no trouble taking control, and as he watched a flush creep its way up Castiel’s chest to his cheeks, he smiled and leaned down to kiss and lick at the pink skin, making it get even pinker. Castiel brought his hands to Dean’s biceps and squeezed his thighs around Dean’s waist just a bit as the angle allowed Dean to sink even further into him.

 

“Dean…”

 

“Tell me,” Dean said. “Tell me what you want, sweetheart.”

 

Castiel’s cheeks got just slightly pinker and he licked his lips.

 

“Come on, tell me,” Dean urged again. “Want me harder? Softer?”

 

Castiel turned his face away and whispered, “Harder.”

 

Dean smiled. “Thank you, sweetheart,” he murmured before speeding up and kissing Castiel in reward.

 

“Yes,” Castiel said, arching his back and squeezing his heels against Dean’s ass.

 

“Yes? Tell me.”

 

Castiel gasped as Dean thrust in particularly hard. “It’s—it’s good, Dean. So…gods…yes, again! Like that!”

 

Dean wrapped one arm around Castiel’s shoulders to hold him in place, and then began to thrust hard, but still unhurriedly deep inside his mate.

 

“Will…will you touch me, Dean? Please?”

 

“Anything, sweetheart. Anything.”

 

Dean circled his hand around Castiel’s length and stroked it, feeling every bit of the silky smooth skin and the way it moved over the hardened shaft. He began to stroke in time with his thrusts, smoothing his palm and fingers over Castiel, listening to his breath, feeling his moans and his kisses, reveling in the pleasure he was giving him to the point that when Castiel came, his own pleasure took him by surprise. Even more surprising was that he knotted, something that only happened when Castiel was in heat and his hormones forced Dean into rutting mode. He gasped as he felt himself swell and collapsed onto his mate.

 

Castiel’s eyes went wide when Dean turned over and brought him with him, making sure his mate was comfortable since they’d be like this for a while.

 

“Dean, how…”

 

Dean shrugged. “I think you excited me.”

 

Castiel snuggled against Dean’s chest, nuzzling his face into his neck. “I excited you?”

 

Dean kissed his forehead. “Hmmm…excited quite a bit.”

 

“Love you, Dean.”

 

“Love you too, Cas.”

Chapter Text

Sam set down a resume and dropped his head onto his hands, sighing heavily.

 

“Okay, kiddo?” Gabriel asked from the desk across the room.

 

Sam cringed. Gabriel had been really kind and understanding, even passing off Sam’s raging crush as something of his own invention, but that didn’t stop the incessant disappointment Sam felt every time Gabriel unwittingly reminded him of his singular disinterest in the younger Beta. That simple word, kiddo, might be a term of endearment, a fond moniker, even a simple nickname between mentor and mentee, but it would never be construed as a romantic pet name. It also made Sam feel stupid because damn he had a huge crush on Gabriel, and even though Gabriel had a lot of fun taunting Dean, he had no clue what he was doing to Sam, and Sam wasn’t about to let him know. As far as Gabriel was aware, Sam was appreciative of the cover story. And he was. To a degree.

 

Regardless of how he felt, Sam was sure that if Gabriel knew, he’d stop the pretense immediately to spare him the humiliation, but Sam wasn’t about to say anything. He was sure that in time, he would be able to overcome the crush and find a nice Beta or Theta to mate with that actually liked him. At least he hoped so. Until that time, pretend or no, he was enjoying the ruse a little too much, and as a side bonus, it really did frustrate Dean.

 

“I’m fine, Gabe. Just looking at this last girl we interviewed. I just…I don’t know what it was, but I just didn’t like her for our group.”

 

“The twins, though,” Gabriel teased, quirking his eyebrows suggestively. “Kimi and Mai?”

 

Sam smiled. Kimlan and Mailinh Nguyen were definitely good fits for the group, their personalities and senses of humor definitely quick enough for everything Gabriel had thrown at them during the interview. And then, when Sam had been showing them out, they had run into Kevin who was bringing John lunch in his office, and the young Theta had stammered and flushed at Kimlan, who had smiled shyly in return. “They were very cute,” Sam agreed.

 

“Well,” Gabriel said, turning his attention back to business, “if Ruby didn’t do anything for you, then we thank her for her time and we wish her luck in the future. We’re hiring based on personality as much as anything else, and if she rubbed you the wrong way, then she’d probably do the same for everyone else.”

 

“True. It’s just, she’s the fourth person I’ve gotten this exact same feeling from, like something’s just wrong, and I don’t know what to think about it.”

 

Gabriel shrugged. “Maybe you have The Gift. It’s possible.”

 

Sam snorted. “Why would I of all people be Gifted?”

 

“Because you’re just so darn adorable?”

 

Sam looked up and met Gabriel’s eyes, pretending for a moment that his counterpart might actually have a spark of interest behind his smirk. “Thanks, Gabe.”

 

“Anytime, moose. What about Beauregard Devereaux? Anything from him?”

 

The southern werewolf had reminded Sam very strongly of Benny, and not just because they were both from a very similar background. “I think he might grow on me.”

 

“Like a fungus or a vine?” Gabriel quipped, laughing heartily at his own joke. “Yeah, I liked the guy too. And then there’s Gordon—“

 

Sam shuddered before Gabriel even finished. “No.”

 

Gabriel nodded. “Okay, why don’t you tell me who you did like?”

 

Sam pulled out three files. “The twins and Beau so far.”

 

Gabriel just shrugged. “So, we start with them. Let’s invite them by for a Sunday barbeque and see how everyone gets along with them.”

 

“If we can keep Balthazar from dry humping the twins’ legs, I’ll be satisfied.”

 

“You really need to raise your expectations, Sammy,” Gabriel laughed.

 

Sam’s stomach twinged at the use of his nickname. Oh Gabe.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Crowley was beyond angry, beyond frustrated. His pushers were being turned out of nightclubs thanks to the Winchester pack, and all of his agents had been turned away during the application process. How difficult could it be to fool Moose and Squirrely into hiring a few of his Thetas? It really shouldn’t have been this difficult.

 

Then again, Moose and Squirrely were Betas, and it was well known that Betas were the brightest, even if Crowley was one himself. And he had been sending Thetas to do his dirty work, arguably the stupidest of the lot. Even stupider than neanderthalic Alphas. Crowley wondered what it was lone Alphas did without Betas to wipe their asses and shine their shoes for them. He was pretty sure Dean Winchester couldn’t get out of bed in the morning without both of his Betas and his sweet little Omega to help him out.

 

His distraction with Castiel was beginning to cost him. Perhaps if he could just get the Omega underneath him for a few hours, he could forget about those blue eyes and thick cocksucking lips. Maybe if he could just quench this lust, he’d be better.

 

Crowley knew it was rubbish. He wanted Castiel a lot more than he’d wanted anyone else. If it were only lust, he’d be able to substitute any Omega for his fantasy. He’d found himself following Castiel’s movements the past two weeks and had even caught the Omega and his mate on the Winchester property, moving together beautifully in the backseat of the gigantic Cadillac Dean had gifted the Omega. It almost seemed a waste, giving such a treasure to a mere Omega, but when Crowley had seen the blush on Castiel’s face when Dean had flipped their positions, forcing Castiel to take the lead, he had understood. The innocent Omega had been so perfect, so submissive in the dominance his Alpha had granted him, it had practically moved Crowley to tears with the beauty of the moment. Castiel was a contradiction, being so virginal and yet so experienced, so submissive and yet obviously had Dean wrapped around his finger, so pliant, and yet had a will of iron if his one encounter with Crowley was anything to go by.

 

Breaking him would be not only a challenge but a pleasure, and yet Crowley couldn’t quite bring himself to want to kill the Omega’s spirit. He would have to, of course, but it would bring him pain when he eventually succeeded and Castiel’s eyes lost their light. He could almost see what it would look like in the end; that proud head bowed, those eyes never straying from the ground in front of him. Maybe then, he’d finally be able to forget and move on.

 

Even in his fantasies, though, he imagined Castiel defying him, staring at him, accusing him, never giving an inch.

 

Crowley just hoped that when the time came and the Omega was finally his, he’d be able to kill him before he ended up being his ruination.

 

Then there was Lilith. His idiot niece was actually convinced that the pack was somehow hers to run and was aligning herself with Alastair Morgan of all people to stage her grand takeover.

 

Crowley had to admit that Alastair scared the piss out of him. The Alpha was more than just ruthless. He enjoyed torture and was skilled at it. Crowley had seen the evidence of his skill on a few of his pushers when they had unwittingly encroached on his territory.

 

He couldn’t afford the distraction of Castiel, not now. He had only ever killed one other Alpha, and he had had a lot of help and almost not come out of it alive. If he continued his obsession with Castiel, then he was looking at three Alphas who needed to die, and none of them were going to go down without a fight. Adding to that, if he couldn’t infiltrate the Winchester pack, he wasn’t going to be able to do much of anything.

 

Crowley scowled at his four Thetas who had utterly failed him. It was time to punish them, and they knew it.

 

“Well? Anything to say for yourselves?”

 

Ruby raised her head, her nose bloody and her eye already black and blue from his initial temper tantrum. “We’re sorry for failing you, sir.”

 

“Yes. You should be, worthless piece of flesh.” Crowley raised his hand, but then dropped it when the Theta didn’t even flinch. She had gotten to the point where she wasn’t afraid anymore. She just did what he said.

 

You couldn’t buy that devotion, really. It could only be brought about by constant, consistent conditioning.  Crowley narrowed his eyes and wondered if he was going about his Winchester situation the wrong way.

 

He lowered his hand and walked from the room. “Clean this mess up!” he ordered as he walked away from the bloodied room and his battered Thetas. He had planning to do.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Mailinh, Kimlan and Beauregard all joined the Winchester pack, and Sam and Gabriel wasted no time entering them into the rotation for security services. Sam was particularly impressed by Kimlan and Mailinh, who were both small of stature, even in wolf form, and yet incredibly fierce. The twins gave Lawrence its first taste of their wrath when a couple of Alphas cornered an Omega in a bathroom stall at The Brick in the Wall.

 

Mailinh had apparently smelled the fear from all the way at the front of the club and with the slightest signal to her twin, had raced to the back and fought off the Alphas while Kimlan called the Sheriff.

 

Later, they were giving their depositions to the Beta sheriff lieutenant, and Sam and Gabriel hovered close by to make sure their Thetas were well looked after, not that they didn’t trust Sheriff Singer’s Betas, but they still wanted to know what was happening.

 

“So you smelled the Omega in distress?” Beta Uriel asked for the fifth time. Sam sighed.

 

“Lieutenant, why are you asking this question again?” Sam asked. “She’s said several times that she smelled the distress. This isn’t an odd thing to have happen. Omegas do send out scents.”

 

Beta Uriel smiled in an unfriendly manner. “I’m simply making sure I have all the facts, Mister Winchester.”

 

Gabriel scowled. “You have the facts. My packmate has told you her story enough times that you could write it out word for word. May I ask why this is?”

 

The werewolf shrugged. “I want to make sure that her story is consistent every time.”

 

“Well it was,” Gabriel declared. “Every time she told it, she was consistent.”

 

“The Alphas she wasted are telling a different story.”

 

Gabriel raised an eyebrow. “The Alphas that were attempting to rape a young female?”

 

Mailinh frowned hard at Beta Uriel. “They’re embarrassed that I got the drop on them. Males like that think they’re indestructible, and the fact that I’m a female and a Theta is bruising their ego.”

 

“Don’t you want to know what they said?”

 

Mailinh shrugged. “Not really. Whatever it was, it was a lie. I’m sure if you question them a million times, you’ll find that their stories aren’t as consistent. All I’m left wondering is why you are more concerned with them than you are with the Omega who was attacked.”

 

The young Theta crossed her arms over her chest and Gabriel wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Good question.”

 

“Well, I’d love to stay and chat, but I have work to do. Miss Nguyen, please don’t leave the state for the next few weeks. We may have follow-up questions.”

 

Gabriel growled low in his throat, and Sam put his hand on his arm to steady him. Sam was pretty sure a call was about to be made to Sheriff Singer about a certain Beta who was getting too big for his britches.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Castiel stared at the swirling water of the flushing toilet, unable to deny any longer what was happening inside of him.

 

Three weeks since Dean’s unexpected knotting. Three mornings of upheaving the contents of his stomach. Three sleepless nights.

 

He had two classes this morning, and he couldn’t make it to either of them. Weakly, he pulled his phone from his pocket and sent emails to his professors. And then he texted Dean.

 

In the bathroom. Need you now.

 

They used condoms during his heats because heats and knotting were designed specifically to get a mate pregnant. In between times, however, the pills were supposed to protect him. In humans, the pill was about 98% effective, but for werecreatures, it was more like 68%. Maybe even less. High metabolism combined with superhuman cell regeneration tended to render hormone replacement therapy moot.

 

When Dean opened the bathroom door and looked down at him, green eyes apologetic, however Castiel just smiled weakly. He couldn’t regret this. Not if he tried.

 

“I’m so sorry, sweetheart,” Dean murmured, kneeling next to him and pulling him against his chest, leading his head to his shoulder.

 

“I’m not,” Castiel admitted, enjoying the feel of Dean’s stubble scratching at the top of his head.

 

Dean kissed his forehead. “You’re not?”

 

“No.”

 

Castiel gave a little laugh, and then another spilled and bubbled from his lips as Dean joined him, holding him tighter.

 

And then the stomach contractions from laughing made him upchuck again, and Dean held him as he bent over the toilet yet again, stroking his back and his hair as he murmured softly through his heaving. When Castiel was done, he leaned his head back against Dean’s shoulder, letting his mate flush the toilet with one hand as he stroked his stomach softly with the other. When Castiel’s breath returned to normal, Dean supported him to the sink where he brushed and rinsed with Listerine, and then Dean hooked his arms under his legs and carried him to bed, stripping his jeans off of him and tucking him in.

 

“You just lay still, I’ll get you some soda water and crackers, okay?”

Castiel smiled. “You always tell me how adorable I am, but Dean? You’re adorabler.”

 

“Not a real word, Cas.”

 

“I just made it up to describe you, assbutt.”

 

Dean leaned down and kissed him. “Jerkface.”

 

“Dipshit.”

 

Dean moved through the rooms to the door. “Sweetheart,” he said before disappearing behind the door.

 

Castiel closed his eyes, smiling and caressing his belly.

 

He was absurdly pleased with his life just at this moment, feeling that all of the pieces were falling into place. And if his calculations were correct, he’d be giving birth just shortly after spring semester finals. Besides, pregnant bellies were very normal at his college, so he wouldn’t be the only one juggling this life. He’d have peers to help him through.

 

He must have fallen asleep, because when he came to, Dean was sitting on the bed next to him, leaning against the headboard, snacking on crackers and reading a book.

 

“Mmm…I thought the crackers were for me, asshole,” he griped, swiping it out of Dean’s hand.

 

“There’s the mood swings I’ve heard so much about,” Dean smirked, setting his book aside and helping Castiel sit up even though Castiel could manage just fine. He liked the feeling of his mate’s hands on him.

 

Then Castiel caught sight of the book. “Dean, are you reading “What To Expect When You’re Expecting?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

“It says “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” on the spine. How is that a maybe?”

 

“Dude, why did you ask the question when you knew the answer? That’s some Sam–level shit there.”

 

Castiel smiled. “I love you, Dean.”

 

“I love you too, you complete asshole.”

 

 

~~~~~

 

They planned on not saying anything until Christmas. As it was the middle of September, that would put Castiel somewhere around four months at that time. Of course, fate had other plans, at least where the grandfathers were concerned.

 

John discovered first, walking into Dean and Castiel’s office, surprising Castiel whose back was to the door as he was playing with a program one of the interior decorators had left behind when they were working on Rufus’s cottage. He was currently using virtual reality to move the sofa and TV into the bedroom, which seemed a lot larger before it had a sofa and TV in it, and putting a sleigh-style crib and coordinating changing table and dresser into the sitting room while simultaneously checking the Crate and Barrel Kids catalogue for a bedspread that was both gender neutral and coordinated with the paint when John surprised him. Even more damning, he was also unconsciously caressing his belly when the elder Alpha walked in. Castiel turned his chair just in time to see John opening and closing his mouth like a fish.

 

“John! I…uh…”

 

“Cas,” he said, his voice low and gravely. “Oh my gods, Cas…”

 

Castiel pushed the laptop and catalogue away, standing up quickly to try and stop the Alpha from saying anything aloud. As he did, though, he soon found himself engulfed in a huge, strong, back-cracking hug. Castiel was just about to try and explain that no one else knew when Dean walked into the office. He might have said something, had not John grabbed his son and gathered him into the hug too.

 

“Dad! Oof…Uh…Cas?”

 

“He caught me,” Castiel mumbled, his voice slightly obscured by John’s thickly muscled shoulder. “I was redecorating our rooms for the pup and he saw.”

 

“Oh,” Dean said lamely as his father nuzzled his hair.

 

Castiel awkwardly patted Johns’ back. “Um? John? We need to talk.”

 

John released his boys and stood back, wiping tears from his eyes. “I’m sorry, Dean. I’m just…I really wish your mom was here.”

 

Dean toed the floor, cheeks flushing as he thought that over. “Me too, Dad.”

 

When John was more himself, they explained their plan to surprise the rest of the pack at Christmas, and John smiled hugely at that. “I have just the plan! I’ll buy presents for the pup and put them under the tree and sign them from Santa.”

 

Both Dean and Castiel liked the idea and even promised to make a gift list for him to choose things from.

 

Chuck found out in a different way. Castiel realized that if his father found out that Dean’s father knew beforehand (and was able to buy the pup gifts when he wasn’t), he’d be very put out, so Dean and Castiel invited Chuck out for dinner two days after John’s discovery. They all met at a restaurant, and when Chuck pulled his son to him, he stiffened and sniffed behind his ear. When he pulled back, Castiel realized that he knew because Chuck pulled him back into a hug and said, “I knew it!” happily. “Juniper berries!”

 

Dean and Castiel both frowned. “Juniper berries?” Castiel asked.

 

Chuck wiped his sleeve over his eye, wrapping his arm around Castiel’s shoulder. “Your mom always smelled like juniper berries when she pupped, and so do you.”

 

Dean leaned in and gave his mate a sniff. “I only smell blackberries.” And then he leaned in again. “Oh, wait, there it is.”

 

Chuck sniffled and hugged Dean. “My first grandpup! I’m so happy!”

 

Dean brought Castiel into the hug. “We’re happy too.”

Chapter Text

Castiel met with his counselor before he met with his doctor, just so he could get some of his classes switched around. The advantage of going to a school for Omegas was that a lot of his classmates were also pregnant and needed to move their schedules around to accommodate morning sickness and other pregnancy stress.

 

His history class was switched to the afternoon, and there was another male werewolf in the class. Castiel gravitated towards him immediately, the first he’d met since he manifested. Try as he might, however, he could not hold the Omega’s attention.

 

Castiel himself was quite shy, so making new friends came difficult to him. He wasn’t the sort that could turn someone from being recalcitrant, so he simply did the only thing he knew to do. He smiled, waved, sat nearby his potential new friend, and was friendly with anyone else that wished to be friendly. Still, he kept the other male Omega in his sights at all times and hoped he wasn’t coming off as creepy whenever he talked to him.

 

Castiel had plenty to occupy his time without his potential new bestie. Gabriel felt that Sam was ready to train with Castiel on how to be domestic, so Castiel was bringing Sam with him on his weekly supply runs.

 

Of course, with the new members and Castiel’s growing appetite, it was becoming more of a bi-weekly thing. They finally sprang for a membership to Costco and when the renovations to Rufus’s cottage were done, they had the pantry expanded to accommodate more supplies. Still, it seemed that every meal was finished before it had hardly begun, there were no longer leftovers, and the refrigerator was almost always empty, which was causing tons of complaints from the rest of the pack.

 

Telling them to not eat so much wasn’t getting the results Castiel wanted. In fact, it seemed that most of the pack was offended when he suggested it.  Charlie went so far as to ask him if he was suggesting she was fat, which was ridiculous, and not just because she was a tiny little thing. All he was asking was that they maybe not take fifths and sixths at dinner and you’d have thought he was suggesting they clip their tails.

 

“I know it’s a pain for you,” Sam said as he and Castiel went over the budget to see where they could find more money for food, “but I sort of enjoy that my first week in the new role, I get a bit of a challenge.”

 

Castiel gave a sideways smile. They had new members, two more after Mailinh, Kimlan and Beauregard joined them. They also had new contracts, but there was going to be about a three month time difference between the new hires and the new money to pay and feed them. Eating in a werewolf pack was a social event and bonded the group as much as living and working together did, so room and board was nearly always included in any salary negotiation.

 

Dean came into the office and walked over to where Castiel sat at his desk, immediately leaning over his mate from behind and stroking down his chest with both hands until his palms landed flat on Castiel’s belly.

 

“Hey, sweetheart. How my little pumpkin?” He began to nuzzle behind Castiel’s ear, surprised when Castiel began to push him away. “What’s wr—“

 

“Do you have to do that right now?” Sam yelped, making Dean freeze mid-caress.

 

“Oh! Sam! I, uh…didn’t see you there.” He removed his hands from Castiel as though he’d been burned.

 

“Obviously.” Thankfully, Sam was keeping his eyes on his paperwork and wasn’t paying attention to the couple and hadn’t seen Dean’s wandering hands and couldn’t make the connection between his words and his actions.

 

“Sam and I are trying to make a meal budget without us being forced to use credit,” Castiel said tightly. “You probably didn’t get my text that we were in here.”

 

Dean swallowed and looked a little ashamed. “I got your text. Sorry, my brain only saw that you were in here. Wasn’t thinking about Sammy.”

 

Sam sighed. “No one ever thinks of poor Sammy.”

 

Dean picked up a red stress ball from the desk and threw it at his brother, hitting him on the top of the head. “You can look up now you know.”

 

There was a definite derisiveness to the snort that met their ears. “When the two of you are in the same room together, I find it’s best to never assume.”

 

“Well, you don’t have to worry. Dad, Gabriel and I are going out to look at a warehouse that may want our security detail. I was just dropping by to say goodbye to Cas.”

 

Castiel stood up and gave Dean a hug. “Have fun.”

 

Dean kissed his cheek. “You too. Love you.” And then he dropped his voice and said, “Both of you.”

 

“We love you too,” Castiel whispered back, his cheek close to Dean’s as though he were kissing him.

 

“I’m sure we’ll both miss you if you’d get gone,” Sam suggested. “Just saying.”

 

Dean went to his brother and ruffled his hair. “Bitch.”

 

Sam slapped his hands away. “Jerk!”

 

And then he was gone. Castiel found himself staring at the closed door, wishing his mate would walk back in for some reason. Any reason. Just to give him another smile.

 

“I can’t believe you let him call you pumpkin.”

 

Castiel snorted. “That was actually the first time. And if I have anything to say about it, it’ll be the last time. I am not an autumnal squash.” And neither was their pup. He would be a summer squash. Like a pattypan...or a zucchini. Okay, the pup definitely wouldn’t be a squash of any varietal.

 

“Please say you’ll argue about it in front of me. I love to hear you argue with him. It’s like a kitten taking on a cougar and winning every time.”

 

Castiel smiled at that image and sent a quick text to Dean.

 

BTW, U and I R going to have a fight about U calling me pumpkin tnght for Sam. Just go with it.

 

IF WE HV FAKE ARGUMENT DO WE STILL GET MAKEUP SEX AFTER?

 

We can have fake makeup sex. ;-)

 

HA HA. FUNNY GUY. SRSLY. CAN WE?

 

Of course we can. Assbutt.

 

SWEETASS U MEAN.

 

“Dude, even when you’re texting each other, you’re sickeningly sweet. They can see your smile in space!”

 

Castiel laughed. “Sorry, I’m just telling him that pumpkin is not an acceptable nickname.”

 

“And you’re smiling like a cat with cream, so whatever he’s saying back must be changing your mind.”

Castiel narrowed his eyes. “For a wolf, you make an awful lot of feline comparisons, Sam. Are you having an identity crisis?”

 

Sam laughed at that. “You have to admit that cats tend to be pretty smug. Maybe I’ll start calling you Catstiel.”

 

Castiel gave him a look. “No. No. Absolutely not. Never. It’s bad enough that my brothers and sister call me Cassie.”

 

 

“Is your favorite book The Great Catsby?” Sam needled. “When you tell a story, do you spin a yarn?”

 

“When you and Gabriel start playing footsie during movie nights, I hope you recall this conversation and know that I’m just giving you back what you deserve.” When Sam’s smile disappeared, Castiel dropped his phone and gave his brother-in-law his full attention. “Sam? What’s the matter? Are you and Gabe having a fight?”

 

Sam covered his face with his hands. “Kind of hard to have a fight when you’re not in a relationship,” he mumbled.

 

Castiel stood up from his desk and went over to Dean’s desk where Sam had seated himself. “You’re not? But he’s always patting your butt and making eyes at you.”

 

Sam still had his face buried. “I know. He’s doing it to mess with Dean. He knows it’s pissing him off, and John and the Thetas are playing along. Well, a few of the Thetas. Some of them think it’s childish. It is.”

 

Castiel pulled Sam’s hands from his face and stared at him. “Sam, are you in love with my brother?”

 

Sam looked down and nodded. “I think so. It’s probably just a stupid crush.”

 

“Does he know?” It wasn’t like Gabriel to be unnecessarily cruel, so Castiel hoped his brother was ignorant of the fact.

 

“Gods no! You can’t tell him, Cas!”

 

“Well, I can tell him that it’s not fair of him to bring you into the middle of his feud with Dean. I’m sure there’s some other way he can mess with him.”

 

Sam smiled. “I sort of love that you don’t care that Gabe is messing with Dean.”

 

“Dean’s a big boy. He can handle a bit of teasing. Might be good for him.”

 

“This right here? Is why I love you, Cas. You’re the best brother ever.”

 

“I’ll be sure to mention to Dean that you said that.”

 

“I’ll deny every word.”

 

~*~*~*~

 

Gabriel was staring at his brother, eyes narrowed, trying to figure out what he was hearing.

 

“Are you listening to me, Gabriel?”

 

“Oh, I’m listening. I’m just…why do you care that Sammy and I are making Dean squirm a little bit? I’m forced to watch him pawing my little brother, payback’s a bitch.” If it had been Dean asking him to leave Cassie alone, that would be something else entirely. But Cassie caring about Dean getting messed with? Something wasn’t adding up.

 

Castiel licked his lips. “I don’t care that you want to mess with him. Really. But Sam’s my friend, and I don’t want to see him get hurt. There has to be some other way for you to mess with Dean.”

 

Gabriel sat back in his chair and chewed on the end of a pen that already sported more of his teeth marks than could be called sanitary. “What’s in it for me?”

 

Castiel rolled his eyes, obviously getting upset over this. “Can you just do it for me? As a personal favor to your little brother who you claim to love? Just find some other way to screw with Dean if it bothers you so much. Put soap flakes in his cereal or swap out the maple syrup for Karo, or, I don’t know, change the password on his phone or something. But just leave Sam alone.”

 

Gabriel spread his hands wide. “Done.”

 

“Done?” Castiel looked skeptical.

 

“Done. As you say, I will do it as a personal favor to you.”

 

Castiel left the room, still eying Gabriel as though he had lobsters crawling out his ears, but Gabriel just waved him away. He had some thinking to do, and he needed to be alone to do it.

 

First, he started playing around with Sam to mess with Dean’s head. Sam seemed okay with it, playing along, including Balthazar and Ash in the scheme. John found out and was amused by it, feeling that Dean could use a little chain yanking.

 

And Sam was okay with it, wasn’t he?

 

So why wasn’t Cassie? What did his little brother know that he didn’t? Because honestly, this wasn’t like him. Especially since Cassie didn’t seem to care that Dean was being messed with, just that Gabriel was using Sam to do the messing.

 

But Sam was messing too, wasn’t he? He enjoyed it too, didn’t he?

 

Gabriel began to scour his memory for every time they had joked with Dean, from that first time after Cassie had come into heat until just yesterday morning when Gabriel had grabbed Sam’s ass at breakfast just to watch Dean squirm.

 

He closed his eyes and conjured the image, and then noted that Dean wasn’t the only one who had squirmed. Sam had as well, ever so slightly.

 

Gabriel didn’t know why he had been so blind. Usually he was on top of these things, but it seemed he was allowing his extreme fun at Dean’s expense to cloud his judgment. Now the only question he had was, was Sam actually and truly in love with him, or was it just a crush? If it was a crush, that was easy to take care of. He’d get over it in due time. If it was more, though…

 

The thing was, Gabriel was pretty close to being ready to settle down and take a mate. He was now the member of a pack, he was making good money, he had something to offer any prospective mate. He was also a good four years older than Sam and far more mature. He’d date, loved, lost, had his heart broken a few times and done the breaking of other hearts as well. Sam didn’t have all that much experience. Gabriel knew only of a girlfriend in high school, not much in the scheme of things. As much as Gabriel didn’t want to break Sam’s heart, he didn’t want his own broken as well, and at Sam’s age, it was a possibility that the pup might lose fascination quickly.

 

Caution was what he needed to employ. And he needed to figure out if he could offer Sam what Sam apparently was asking for.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Dean and Castiel sat in the doctor’s office, waiting. It was the second week of November, and they were going to have a sonogram. Dean was nearly irrationally excited about the promise of the first glimpse of his pup. He knew that what they would see wouldn’t be much, but he still hoped to see something wonderful.

 

“Boy or girl?” the technician asked as she wheeled the cart into the room. Her nametag said her name was Pam.

 

“We don’t know yet,” Castiel answered.

 

“Yeah, but what’re you hoping for?”

 

The fathers shrugged at each other.

 

“Healthy baby it is!” Pam gushed with a smile. “Now, Mister Novak, if you’ll just pull up your gown and let me at that tummy, we’ll get this started.”

 

Castiel’s belly was hardly showing, but there was just the slightest little roundness to it that had presented in the past week or so. Just between his hips, a little softness that had never been there. Dean had been having a hard time keeping his hand from it, the first physical sign that there was something in there.

 

“This is going to be a little cold,” the technician warned as she held a bottle of jelly over Castiel’s belly. Even with the warning, Castiel still twitched and gasped a little. “Sorry.”

 

“It’s okay,” Castiel said, his eyes hard on the screen.

 

Pam placed the wand against Castiel’s skin and the room was soon filled with the strange underwater sound of the pup’s heartbeat. They had heard it before at the six week visit, but hearing it again was like a small miracle. Dean actually sighed with relief. It was still alive, still growing, heart still beating. His pup.

 

“All right, let’s find this little bugger,” Pam said, pushing the wand in and swirling it around until she landed on some nondescript area. “Aha, there it is!”

 

Dean and Castiel both looked intently at the screen.

 

“Your own little bean just a-growin’!” Pam said happily.

 

Castiel and Dean exchanged a glance. “Um…where?” Castiel asked, and Dean was glad it wasn’t him who had to say it.

 

Pam laughed. “Don’t worry, they’re pretty hard to see at this stage. Just a little jellybean with a heartbeat. It’s right here, see this little white spot?”

 

Dean nodded. “That’s the pup?”

 

Pam laughed again. “Don’t worry, gorgeous, lots of people don’t see much the first time. Next time, there will be so much more to see, and by your fifth month, it’ll actually start looking like a wereperson.”

 

Dean stared at the little blob on the screen and felt a deep sense of disappointment. He was sure that he was going to see his pup and feel love for it that he had never felt before in his life. Instead, he felt disconnected. He wondered if Cas would understand, or if maybe he just shouldn’t say anything about it.

 

Pam handed Castiel a cloth to wipe himself off with, and she printed out several photos of the sonogram for the family. Dean took the piece of photopaper and stared at his pup once more, willing himself to feel something for the little nondescript blob.

 

Nothing. He looked up to find Castiel staring at him with a little half-smile on his lips, his eyes warm and blue. Dean reached out his hand and stroked it over his mate’s cheek, feeling all the love he had expected to feel at that moment for both his mate and his pup.

 

“Let’s go home, Dean.”

 

Dean smiled. “Of course, sweetheart.”

 

“Okay, you two are a little too adorable,” Pam said. “Get out of here before I throw up, will ya? Or make out so I can watch.”

 

Dean turned to the woman and rolled his eyes. “I think we’ll be gone, thanks.”

 

Pam shrugged. “Up to you, big man.” With one more cheeky wink, the technician left the room and Castiel buttoned his jeans up.

 

“That woman is frightening.”

 

Dean laughed. “Yeah. Tell me about it.”

 

Castiel pulled out one of the pictures and stared at it. “Will you hate me very much if I tell you that I see absolutely nothing in this filmy, grainy photo?”

 

Dean laughed and pulled him in tight. “I thought it was just me!” He felt relieved over that. “But Cas, I swear, I love our pup. And I love you.”

 

Castiel kissed his cheek and pulled him from the room by the hand, leading him to the car and slipping inside. It was a nice day, so they had the top down in the Eldorado.

 

“Um, Cas? This isn’t a criticism, but is there a reason why we’re listening to what sounds like a herd of cats meowing the tune to “Sunday Morning Coming Down?”” Dean asked when they were back on the road.

 

Castiel snorted. “Actually, the odd part isn’t the cats meowing a Johnny Cash song, it’s the fact that we can thank your brother for it, rather than mine.”

 

“Huh,” Dean grunted. “Sunovabitch.”

 

 

Castiel was about to say something in return when a call came through. He hit the speakerphone. “Hello?”

 

“Cas? It’s Dad.”

 

“Hi, Dad! Dean and I just had a doctor appointment, and we got to see the puppy.”

 

“Really? Oh, Cas, that’s great, that’s really…um…I have good news for you.”

 

Castiel’s eyes narrowed. “That was an abrupt change of subject.”

 

“No, no, it’s not about Christmas, it’s about Thanksgiving,” Chuck replied, voice stilted, and Dean nearly snorted at how transparent Chuck was being.

 

“Is someone there, Dad?”

 

“Yes, son, Thanksgiving. In fact, someone came to visit, and they’re pretty excited to see you.”

 

Castiel groaned. “Michael or Lucifer?”

 

“No fair guessing, Cas. Just come by the station, okay?”

 

Castiel exchanged a look with Dean and turned the car around at the next stoplight. “Okay, Dad, we’re on our way.”

 

Dean groaned inwardly, but he didn’t let anything show on the outside. He’d had a falling out with Michael his senior year and hadn’t had much contact with the family until Sheriff Singer had told John about Castiel. Dean’s response had been to jump at the chance to get Castiel into his family, based purely on the memory of the young pup’s face and sweet manners. But Michael and Dean had used to fantasize about joining up, with Dean as Alpha and Michael as his Beta. Dean had never suggested they do it as mates, but ever since Gabriel had mentioned Michael’s crush, Dean realized that his friend had indeed been deeply in love with him, and had tried to tell him many times, and Dean had just been too blind to see.

 

Well, that combined with the fact that he simply didn’t see Michael that way. If he had been aware of Michael’s crush, he would have done everything he knew of to stop it. Unfortunately, without knowing about it, he had not only broken Michael’s crush, but he had lost his friend at the same time. Michael’s infatuation had turned to hate, and he had said something to Dean one afternoon, and Dean had simply left and never looked back. If it was Michael who had come to visit, Dean could anticipate nothing but trouble. He hoped that they could put aside their differences, but he wasn’t sure if that was possible. He hoped that it was Lucifer who had come to visit, and as Castiel pulled into the Sheriff’s parking lot, Dean found his prayers answered. Maybe the gods weren’t so absent after all.

 

Castiel’s family was an odd looking bunch. They all shared features of a sort, but none of them actually looked like each other. Gabriel had eyes that looked a lot like their mothers in shape and color, and his face was similar to what hers had been, and Gabriel and Lucifer had similar coloring to each other, but Lucifer had the sunken, heavy-lidded eye shape of his father’s eyes along with Castiel and Anna. Anna herself was a true ginger whereas Lucifer and Gabriel were more golden or strawberry blonde while Michael and Castiel both had Chuck’s dark hair and blue eyes. Lucifer and Gabriel both had the same wing-like eyebrows, though Lucifer’s were thicker than Gabriel’s, and Lucifer and Castiel both had thick, luscious lips like their father while the other three had thinner cupid’s bow shaped lips.

 

To look at them superficially, they didn’t look like they even belong in the same family. But if you looked closely, you could see it.

 

Lucifer and Chuck were standing in the parking lot, chatting happily. Lucifer was tall like Castiel and Michael, but his body was in the thicker, more square-like brick shape of Chuck and Gabriel. Michael, Castiel and Anna were all incredibly thin, and if Michael was still the same as he had been in highschool, he was almost unhealthily skinny. Not that Lucifer was fat; far from it. But compared to Michael, just about anyone would be thick.

 

Castiel parked his car and jumped out, clearly relieved at Lucifer’s presence.

 

“Cassie!” the blonde shouted, pulling his brother into a bone-cracking hug. “My gods, it’s so good to see you, baby bro!”

 

Dean greeted Chuck and handed him a printout of the sonogram while Lucifer was distracted.

 

“You’re killing me,” Chuck said as he slid the picture into his pocket without looking at it. “I have to wait until I get rid of him to look at it!”

 

Dean shrugged. “You really can’t see much.” He was still a little disturbed by the lack of any recognition in the ghostlike shape that he could still hardly make out. He could look at Cas and feel a swell of pride and love towards the pup, but he still felt a little ambivalent towards the actual image of the pup.

 

“Never can at first. The next one will be better.”

 

Dean wasn’t sure if he meant the next sonogram, or the next pregnancy. Before he had a chance to think about it, Lucifer hugged him tight. “Hey, Deano!”

 

Dean clapped his back a few times. “Lucie. How you doing?”

 

“I’m great, Dean. Just great. And Cassie looks fantastic.” Then Lucifer’s smile got a little too toothy. “Is it just me, or does he smell a bit like juniper berry?”

Dean did an actual double-take at Lucifer’s smug smile.

 

Son of a bitch.

Chapter Text

Lucifer sat on Gabriel’s desk, his legs crossed under him lotus-style, elbows on his knees, chin resting on his hands. Gabriel was quite studiously working around him, organizing paperwork, and signing payroll checks. Behind him was a huge whiteboard planner with everyone’s name, colorcoded for their time and place of work.

 

“This place is great, Gabe. But then, you know Michael always wanted to be Beta here.”

 

Gabriel snorted and moved Lucifer’s toes out of the way so he could staple some paperwork. “Yeah, well, Mikey wanted to be upstairs in Castiel’s place.”

 

Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Mikey was an idiot about Dean. Poor kid, though. I feel for him.”

 

“I don’t remember much. How did he take the news about Castiel? I mean, really how did he take it? He’s been polite in his correspondence, but…”

 

“Mikey got over it. He’s fine. I think he’s met some female out in Grand Rapids and they’re sniffing around each other.” Lucifer stretched his legs out and hopped down from the desk. “Can I ask where you found an MP3 of kittens mewling to the tune of Folsom Prison Blues? I assume of course that you were responsible for that atrocity.”

 

Gabriel smirked and stretched his arms above his head, arching his back until it cracked. “That wasn’t me, hermano mejor. That was all Samsquatch.”

 

Lucifer raised an eyebrow. “Sam? Then am I to understand that your apprenticeship with the younger Winchester is progressing well?”

 

“Too right. I’m really proud of him. I’m not quite sure what made him put the Johnny Cats album on Cassie’s iPhone, but I am really proud he did.”

 

Lucifer laughed and patted Gabriel on the head. “Sounds like you’re doing a good job. What can you tell me about the McLeod pack? Dad mentioned it a few weeks ago. It’s why I’m here. I don’t like the thought of anyone threatening my family.”

 

Gabriel explained about how Lilith had forced Castiel to manifest, and how that had caused Cassie to spiral into depression. Lucifer was impressed with how well Dean handled that, sending him to college and to a counselor. He also really appreciated that Dean had spared no expense outfitting Cassie with his dream car. Cassie actually used to have a little model Caddy with the huge tail fins, and he would pretend to drive it all over the place when he was a pup.

 

When Gabriel got to the part about this Crowley fellow, Lucifer found his hackles raising. “And he really propositioned Cassie with Dean that close to him?”

 

Gabriel nodded. “He’s got a brass pair, I’ll give him that.”

 

“Brass or just plain insane, who knows?” Lucifer mulled this over. “Where does Crowley hang out?”

 

“Lucie, tell me you’re not going after Crowley by yourself! Not even you are that fearless.”

 

Lucifer stroked at his stubble and tilted his head, thinking. “I don’t know, Gabe. If this assbutt is going after our baby brother, then I want to do something about it.”

 

There were few families that were as close as the Novaks, at least as far as Lucifer was concerned, and even though their dynamics could be complicated, particularly between Lucifer and Michael, if you threatened one member, you threatened them all. Lucifer was convinced that the only reason Gabriel hadn’t gone after Crowley himself was because John and Dean had decided against it. But Lucifer was under no such orders from his own Alpha.

 

Gabriel sighed. “Crowley has been keeping court at a nightclub called Zimini’s off of 49th street. It’s a rough place, Luce.”

 

Lucifer shrugged. “I’m a rough wolf.”

 

Gabriel pulled out his phone. “Okay, but you’re not going to go alone. I’ll have either Balthazar or Benny go with you. They’re both pretty tough looking, and neither has anything going on tonight.”

 

A few minutes later, a very handsome werewolf walked into the office. “Gabriel, darling, you rang?” he asked in an English accent.

 

“Balthazar, this is my brother, Lucifer.”

 

Lucifer held out his hand, keeping eye contact with the Theta.

 

“The pleasure, my dear Lucifer, is all mine,” Balthazar said smoothly.

 

Lucifer managed his best smile. “Good to meet you, Balthazar.”

 

“Listen, Bal, you know a little of the situation with Cassie and the McLeod pack?” Gabriel asked.

 

Balthazar nodded. “Yeah, bit of a bother.”

 

“Right,” Gabriel agreed. “John and Dean have both said that I can’t do anything, but they haven’t said anything about Lucifer, and Lucie is determined to go to Zimini’s tonight and get a look at him. I’d feel a lot better if you went with him. For support.”

 

Balthazar put his hand on Lucifer’s shoulder and gave a charming smile that reached his eyes. “Oh, that sounds splendid, darling. Hit old Crowley where it hurts, eh?”

 

“That’s the idea,” Lucifer agreed.

 

“Just to look, though,” Gabriel reiterated, fixing Lucifer with a strong stare. “Please, Lucie. Don’t go asking for trouble.”

 

Lucifer pulled his younger brother into a hug and ruffled his hair. “Don’t worry about me, Gabe.”

 

“Can’t help it, Lucie. Crowley is bad, bad news.”

 

Lucifer gave his brother his best smile. “So am I.”

 

~~~~~

 

Lucifer ate a family dinner with Anna, Castiel, Dean, Gabriel, and of course their father. It wasn’t awkward as it could be in his youth, with all of them still burning over the death of their mother. They were at ease, smiling, laughing, teasing the new couple, Anna close by him, her pretty red hair feeling silky against his arm as she leaned against him. There had been a time when he had pushed his entire family away, but he had thankfully worked past his demons before he alienated himself completely.

 

There had been a lot of jealousy when the twins had come into his life. He had been three, and he had been his mother’s little prince. Michael had been their father’s shadow, always following him around and leaving Lucifer to sit and worship his mother. He hadn’t really noticed what was happening when Becky’s tummy had started getting bigger, but one day, she had said, “Sorry, little man, you just can’t fit in my lap with your brother and sister here too!” and he had noticed the truth of the matter. Many of his friends at school had younger brothers and sisters, but he had always been happy that he had been spared that little bit of aggravation, and then he ended up getting two at once.

 

And then five years later, he’d gone through the same thing again, just when he had felt he was getting back to normal. Gabriel and Anna tended to be more wrapped up in each other than with the rest of the family and Michael continued to be their father’s suck up. But then Becky had done it again just when she and he were getting close again, and Lucifer had watched in dismay as her tummy swelled once more. Then she went to the hospital and never came back.

 

Lucifer had blamed Castiel, and so had Michael. Lucifer had been less vocal about the entire thing, but Michael had been more than happy to yell at poor Cassie one morning after the little pup had spilled his sippy cup of milk (he couldn’t have been more than three), “You ruin everything! You killed Mom, and now you’re going to make the house fall down!” Castiel’s large blue eyes had filled with tears, and Chuck had pulled his little boy into his arms, then looked at Michael and said very evenly, “Castiel did not kill your mother, Michael. She had a condition that killed her. Not Castiel. We love Castiel. He’s your brother.”

 

In the beginning, Lucifer had only started being kind to Castiel because it bothered Michael, and it seemed like a good way to annoy his elder brother. Castiel was a sweet little kid, though, and despite Lucifer’s internal insistence that he hated Castiel for killing his mother, he soon found himself loving the pup and stood as his advocate against Michael when he tried to be mean to him.

 

It had taken some doing, but by the time Michael had entered high school, the family had finally become the closely-knit unit that they were today. Not that it was all wine and roses. Michael could still be a dick, Lucifer could still lash out at his younger siblings, but for the most part, they were united. And now Dean was a part of the family, and he and Cassie were secretly pregnant (seriously, how blind could Anna and Gabriel be?), and Lucifer wasn’t about to let some McLeod pack try and take it all away from him. Especially not when he was about to be an uncle for the first time.

 

The coolest uncle. Like, the kid was going to worship him. He was determined to make this happen. In order to make it happen, he needed to get rid of Crowley.

 

 

~*~*~*~

 

Balthazar put on his nicest shirt and frowned at Garth. How that goofy-looking mook had ever gotten together with someone as beautiful as Mailinh Nguyen was beyond him. Currently, said goofy-looking mook was waxing philosophical about his newfound love.

 

“She’s amazing, man. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so connected to a female before.”

 

Normally, Balthazar would wonder if Mailinh didn’t have ulterior motives, but she seemed to be genuinely in love with Garth. And she had spurned Balthazar’s every advance, telling him that she could smell the insincerity on him a mile away.

 

So, okay, Balthazar wasn’t interested in being mated. Not yet. He was only forty two, and in wereyears, that was still infantile to him. He had plenty of time to settle down, and frankly, he wasn’t sure if he ever would. He enjoyed being single. That didn’t make him insincere, though.

 

“Where are you lot working tonight?” Balthazar asked. “Kupa?”

 

Garth nodded. “I’m pairing with Linh and Kevin is taking Kimi to Brick in the Wall. I hear Crowley and his pack are spending more time elsewhere, so hopefully it’ll be a quiet night.”

 

Balthazar grinned. “Try and get Linh onto the dance floor tonight, yeah? I saw her and Kimi dancing around the kitchen yesterday while they helped Sam make sandwiches, and I think she’d enjoy that.”

 

“Ah, thanks, man. Good idea. And what’re you getting all dressed up for?”

 

Balthazar rolled his eyes. “I’m babysitting Cassie’s brother Lucie. What is it with this family and their names?”

 

“Coming from a guy named Balthazar,” Garth said with a grin. He was just too sweet and kind to say anything like that with any sort of malice.

 

“Yeah, well, I’m British; my sort can get away with mad-sounding names.” Balthazar considered putting on a tie, but decided instead to slip on only a waistcoat and a jacket with his shirt open to the middle of his chest. If all went well, maybe he could run into a pretty little Omega at the bar and get introduced to their bedroom. Bed was optional.

 

“I do hope you have a good time,” Garth said in his slow drawl. “I’m sure you will. Maybe Lucifer is really nice. I mean, Gabe and Castiel are very nice.”

 

Balthazar snorted. “Nice isn’t exactly what I generally look for, Garth, and this isn’t a date.”

 

Of course, Garth couldn’t stop from saying one more philosophical item: “Maybe nice is what you should be looking for.”

 

And with that in mind, Balthazar went to the foyer to meet up with Lucifer. The Beta was also wearing a waistcoat and a jacket, but his was an actual suit whereas Balthazar’s was mix-matched and paired with jeans. He looked like a rent boy out with a wealthy out of town client, and frankly, that wasn’t a turn-off.

 

“Ready?” he asked.

 

Lucifer nodded. “Let’s go.”

 

Balthazar led him to the garage and unlocked his little ’57 Metropolitan. He saw Lucifer looking it over and almost said something derogatory, but then realized that Lucifer only had admiration in his eyes.

 

“I work on it myself,” Balthazar said as he got in.

 

“It’s perfect,” Lucifer responded, folding himself into the passenger seat. “I love it. One of my favorite cars, actually.”

 

Balthazar softened towards Lucifer just a bit. Well, at least he knew from cars.

 

The club was busy and pumping, and it was hard to hear anything for the noise of the bass. There was a live band tonight, singing Kansas songs between beer breaks, and Balthazar thought about commenting on the music when it occurred to him that Lucifer probably liked classic American rock just like all the other people who lived in Lawrence. Castiel was one of the few who ever listened to anything else, though ever since Dean had decided that nothing but Johnny Cash could be played in the Cadillac, his repertoire had sadly diminished.

 

Lucifer ordered a rum and Coke, which sounded good so Balthazar seconded it. They stood at the bar, looking around and eyeing the patrons as they waited on their drinks.

 

“Do you have any clue what this Crowley looks like?” Lucifer asked, getting close to Balthazar so he could be heard over the dulcet strains of “Dust in the Wind. “

 

“Yeah,” Balthazar answered. “Don’t see him yet. He probably won’t show until after midnight. But Lilith is behind you.”

 

Balthazar turned his back to the bar and made it look like he was staring up at Lucifer as he kept his eye on the blonde Alpha.

 

“She’s the one that made Cassie manifest, right?” Lucifer asked, still with his mouth close to Balthazar’s ear. The movement seemed to have caught Lilith’s eye because she started watching the two intently.

 

“Yeah, and it seems we have an audience. Want to give her a show?”

 

“I want to see her,” Lucifer said, so Balthazar switched their positions, pulling Lucifer close and nuzzling his hair.

 

“The blonde in the white dress.”

 

“What the fuck is she drinking?”

 

Balthazar laughed. “Something pink with cherries in it.”

 

“Holy gods, who is this girl and how did she ever make my brother manifest?”

 

Balthazar pulled back and looked Lucifer up and down as though he were appraising him. “In Cassie’s defense, he was awfully close to his first heat. Is she still watching us?”

 

Lucifer leaned his mouth close to Balthazar’s ear. “Hm, yes, I think she’d pay us a bill to kiss.”

 

Balthazar laughed. “Do you want to talk to her?”

 

“Well, I promised Gabe that I wouldn’t talk to Crowley tonight. Never said a word about Lilith.”  

 

“Or tomorrow night, I suppose,” Balthazar supplied.

 

Lucifer spread his hands as if to say, “What can I say?”

 

“I’m not going to help you lie to your brother.” Balthazar looked over his shoulder to make sure Lilith was still watching. He gave her a light smile, and she smiled back.

 

“Do you have any brothers?”

 

“Oh yes, I have several. Mummy and Daddy were quite prolific.”

 

Lucifer smirked. “Then you understand why it’s important to lie to them sometimes.”

 

“Oh, darling, I know it’s a necessity. I just won’t help you lie. Won’t make it any more difficult, either, mind.” Balthazar turned to the bartender. “Listen, old chap. That lovely young blonde over in the white dress. Can you tell me what she’s drinking?”

 

“It’s called a Cherry Bomb,” the bartender replied.

 

“How lovely. Can you please send her a fresh glass with our compliments. My…friend and I find her quite striking.”

 

The bartender shook his head. “That’s Lilith McLeod, boys. I’d stay as far away from her as you can get.”

 

“Why is that?” Lucifer asked.

 

The bartender seemed unwilling to answer the question, he simply made another drink and handed it off to a server with the message.

 

“Let’s just say that she’s looking to get mated to a very dangerous Alpha.”

 

Lucifer gave another of his smooth smiles. “Who says I want a mate?”

 

The bartender shrugged.

 

“Our funeral, then,” Balthazar murmured against his ear.

 

“We’ll see,” Lucifer said.

 

Lilith apparently was flattered by the new drink and the two men who sent it, so she invited them to join her in a VIP lounging area. It was much quieter there, and Balthazar felt his ears go hollow and start to ring from the loss of sound.

 

The way Lucifer was handling himself, though, gave the Theta new respect for him. He had thought the night would be spent keeping Lucifer out of trouble, and it was true that he was definitely running some sort of interference and probably would continue to, but Balthazar had to admit that Lucifer seemed to know what he was doing. It was actually almost sort of frightening, and an extreme contrast to Castiel’s sweet nature and Gabriel’s tricky ways. Lucifer was smooth. Teflon coated, practically. Like a snake, only somehow warm and fuzzy rather than cold and slimy. Balthazar was starting to think that he could learn a few things.

 

The Beta practically waltzed into the room, holding Balthazar’s hand like they had been lovers for years, and immediately began charming Lilith.

 

“Thank you so much for the drink, fellas,” Lilith simpered, sitting in the middle of a sofa and inviting them to sit next to her.

 

Lucifer went to her, practically shoving Balthazar down next to her, and sat on the other side. “I’m Lucifer and this is my friend Balthazar.”

 

Lilith held out her hand. “Lilith.”

 

Lucifer smiled, taking her hand in both of his. . “Lilith? Oh, that’s an interesting coincidence, isn’t it, Bal?”

 

“Absolutely,” Balthazar agreed, no idea what Lucifer was batting at.

 

“What do you mean?” Lilith asked, her pretty forehead wrinkling ever so slightly.

 

Lucifer began to trace the lines of her hand with his forefinger. “You see, in the human Catholic folklore, there was an angel named Lucifer who caused the first female human to sin.” He paused for dramatic effect, making Balthazar a little jealous at his effortless theatrics. “That female’s name…was Lilith.”

 

Lilith smiled at that. “What did Lucifer do to make her sin?”

 

“He tricked her into eating an apple.” Lucifer kissed her hand. “And then he fucked her.”

 

Balthazar had to check to make sure his jaw wasn’t hanging open. Lilith was staring at the Beta with wide blue-green eyes, as though she were trying to see if he was serious.

 

“What an interesting story,” she demurred.

 

Lucifer gave her one of his snake charmer smiles. “It’s completely true. You can Google it.”

 

“I believe you. So what brings you to Zimini’s? I’ve never seen you here before?”

 

“I’m visiting my family here in town. Balthazar here offered to show me a good time and then we ran into you. Well…you just seemed like a good time.”

 

Balthazar couldn’t believe the smile Lilith graced them with at those words. He’d had drinks thrown at him for less. By males. “Lucifer, really, what sort of female do you take me for?”

 

“You’re an Alpha. You know what it’s like to be direct… in charge,” Lucifer answered, still holding her hand. “I didn’t think beating around the bush would serve either of us.”

 

“Well, I don’t usually entertain Betas,” Lilith said, stroking her free hand down Lucifer’s handsome cheek. “But I like you. You know your place.”

 

That smile came back. Just a lifting of the corners of his mouth. If Lilith were older, more experienced, she might see that it was not a friendly smile. She wasn’t, however, and she was power mad. Lucifer went completely over her head. “Do you often have trouble with your Betas? But I suppose your parents run your pack.”

 

Lilith pouted prettily and told the two of them about her father’s death by his own brother and how her mother seemed content to allow her uncle to run the pack. She carefully skirted the matter of what their pack did exactly, but she was smart enough to do it in such a way that did not provoke questions.

 

“This nightclub is sort of one of ours,” Lilith said. “That’s how I got us this room. My uncle usually uses it, but he won’t be in tonight.”

 

Lucifer kept tight control of his expression, but Balthazar could tell that he was disappointed. “I think you should use the opportunity, don’t you, Bal? Of not having your uncle here, that is.”

 

Balthazar nodded. “Oh, yes. Show your Thetas what a natural leader you are,” he said. “That way, when you challenge your uncle, you’ll have their backing.”

 

Lilith considered this. “Well, my mate, Alastair, is going to help me with that. We’ll get the pack back.”

 

Lucifer made some excuses to leave shortly after that, handing Lilith his card as he stood and pulled Balthazar into his side. “Call me if you need a new Beta. Or anything else.”

 

Lilith smiled and simpered as they left her with kisses to the cheeks and promises to see her around.

 

“You were great,” Lucifer said when they got back to the car.

 

“How’s that?” Balthazar murmured as he started her up and pulled out.

 

“You just did a really good job. I wasn’t sure. I thought maybe Gabe foisted you off on me as one of his jokes or something, but that whole submissive Theta thing you had going was great. I think it really impressed Lilith to think I had that much hold over someone.”

 

“Actually, I was busy taking notes. You could have fucked her brains out if you wanted.”

 

Lucifer laughed. “Not a huge feat there. Her daddy issues have daddy issues.”

 

“Too right. Feel sort of dirty after all that, though. Can’t wait to wash her off of me.”

 

“Good thinking. I need to take a shower. Got her smell all over me. Don’t know how I’d explain that to Cassie after what she did to him.”

 

They fell into silence, Lucifer lost in his own thoughts and Balthazar wondering if he should say something. He pulled into the garage, expecting Lucifer to jump out and go off to take his shower, but instead, the Beta just sat there, the silence deafening.

 

 “Why would Thetas follow a Beta, Bal? What does he do? What hold does Crowley have over them?”

 

“He’s got to be clever in some way, or maybe he can Compel?”

 

“Have you ever been Compelled?”

 

“Well, no,” Balthazar admitted.

 

“It’s not what you think it is. It barely works on mated pairs. The suggestion has to be something you would do anyway. Crowley…he’s got to be clever, as you say, but he’s stupid enough to proposition Castiel in the same building as Dean, an Alpha?”

 

“It could have started an all out war,” Balthazar filled in. “Definitely not a clever decision. Maybe he’s so used to being in charge that he has stopped considering his place in society. Perhaps he truly believes he could defeat any wolf who challenged him.”  

 

“Do you think…” Lucifer licked his lip and dropped his hands to his knees. “Do you think he just couldn’t help himself? I mean, I know Cass is beautiful, and his scent is unique and amazing, but I wouldn’t think that he could make someone insentient. Still, maybe he was just overcome by lust.” Lucifer didn’t want to say anything, but it would have been around the same time Castiel got pregnant, and maybe his hormones were playing havoc with those around him.

 

Balthazar shrugged. “I’ve hardly even seen him; you’re asking me?”

 

“Good point,” Lucifer conceded. “I just don’t get it. I don’t like it, and I don’t get it. I hate having mysteries on my hands.”

 

“Okay,” Balthazar started, “you’ve got Eve who seems completely uninterested in running her pack. On the other hand, you have Lilith who seems a complete idiot. Maybe Crowley is simply their best option, eh?”

 

Lucifer frowned. “The Thetas would just find a different pack, though. Betas are good at organization, but we’re not good at leadership. Alphas know how to motivate and inspire their pack to do better; they incite loyalty in their members. I’m a Beta, I understand this dynamic. So how does Crowley work around it?”

 

“Maybe he’s very charismatic, though. I mean, I honestly think that you’re quite charismatic. You could probably run a pack if you had to.”

 

“I’m flattered, Bal, but let’s be honest with each other—it’s something neither of us wants. Can you really see yourself running a pack? Running interference between all the petty little problems of day-to-day life? All that shit that Alphas have to put up with, all the different personalities and dramas? I’d rather take a bullet to the brain.”

 

Balthazar didn’t have an answer for that. “You’re going to go back there and talk to him, aren’t you?”

 

There was a sigh that filled the car with heaviness. “I don’t know. What if he’s completely forgotten about Cassie, and then I go and talk to him and bring attention back to this pack?”

 

Lucifer got out of the car and Balthazar followed him through the house and up the stairs where he stopped at the landing. Balthazar’s room was at the other end of the house.

 

“Thanks for helping me out, Balthazar. Really. I appreciate it. But I think it’s best we part ways now. I don’t want to drag you down with me. Things could get dangerous.”

 

Balthazar looked into Lucifer’s green-brown eyes and wondered if he was going to regret what he was about to say. “Don’t give me that shit, Luce. You need me. And…I care about Cassie. I don’t want to see him come to any harm. I’ll do anything.”

 

Lucifer looked him up and down, that smirk back in the corner of his mouth. “Anything?”

 

Balthazar narrowed his eyes. “Within reason.”

 

Lucifer reached out and touched the open sides of his shirt. “Do something about the wardrobe.”

 

“Ah. Want me to button up a little more?”

 

“I was thinking something in the opposite direction, actually,” Lucifer replied, one eyebrow raised slightly. Then he turned and walked away, leaving Balthazar to once again stare after him with his mouth hanging open. Bloody hell. He managed to get to his room before he started laughing like a lunatic.

Chapter Text

Dean slipped into bed sometime after four in the morning. Castiel was deeply asleep and snoring lightly, practically naked, his body throwing off heat like nothing else. Pregnant werewolves experienced higher metabolism and lower immune resistance, so it was always a matter of determining whether the high temperature was due to fever or not. The way Castiel snuggled into him when he lay down, however, led him to believe that it was strictly the higher metabolism.

He mumbled something that sounded like “Dean?” so Dean kissed his head and said, “It’s me, sweetheart. Go back to sleep now.”

Dean closed his eyes and fell asleep to Castiel’s even breaths, the feel of his mate’s tiny tummy soft against his hip. When he awoke in the late morning, it was something hard against his leg, and the scent of Castiel’s arousal all around him that drew him out, and he rolled his mate onto his back and sank in deep, both of them still half asleep and sloppy, but completely awake by the end of it, Castiel’s semen rubbing between them, adding to the scent of the room.

“Mmmm..morning babe,” Castiel yawned when Dean finally lifted his head and pulled out.

“Hey, sweetheart.”

Castiel wiped sweat from his face and arched his neck, laughing. “That was a really great wakeup call, Dean. I uh…you should do that more often.”

Dean laughed. “I do it as often as I can, you know.”

Castiel rubbed his hands up from Dean’s stomach to his chest, rubbing over his shoulders as he leaned up and kissed him. “Try harder to do it more often.”

Dean kissed him long and hard, biting down on his upper lip, nipping down his throat. “You really want to kill me, huh?”

Castiel locked his legs around Dean’s torso, holding him in place. “Maybe in two hundred years. But not yet.”

Castiel was ready again almost instantly; his new higher metabolism combined with being pregnant meant he was in a perpetual state of heat. Dean took a little longer, though, and didn’t mind caressing his mate until he was ready again, so he kissed his way down Castiel’s body, licking, sucking, teasing his sweet little nipples that had become rather sensitive lately, moving down until he could kiss around Castiel’s erection, teasing and licking at it, at the tip, the base, that sensitive spot just to the left.

“You know what’s better than you sucking me off, Dean?” Castiel gasped, grabbing handfuls of Dean’s hair. “I love sucking you off. I love your knot in my mouth, all hot and big and thick. Ah…you make my jaw…fuck…so sore because you’re so…fucking big…shit!”

Dean went all the way down, drawing Castiel into the back of his throat, cutting off his torrent of dirty talk. To make things better, he added his fingers to the mix, fingering Castiel, making him choke and sputter as Dean continued to tease and suck, forcing him to come hot spurts in his mouth. Dean swallowed it all down before kissing his way back up and making Castiel taste himself on his tongue.

Dean rolled off and lay next to Castiel, staring at the ceiling. “Better?” he finally gasped.

Castiel laughed. “Much better.”

Dean found his hand and wrapped their fingers together.

“Dean, I’ve been thinking about the baby. Names, you know?”

“Sweetheart, we don’t even know what it is yet.”

“Well, that’s what I was thinking about, actually. I was thinking of a name that could work with either a boy or a girl, and…well, you probably won’t like it.”

Dean turned on his side and petted Castiel’s face. “I’ll love anything you say. Promise.”

Castiel turned too and gave Dean a kiss. “Thanks. That means a lot. And it’s just a suggestion.”

Dean laughed. “Tell me already! You’re trying to talk me out of it before I even know what it is.”

“Beckett,” Castiel said. “You know, my mom’s name was Rebecca. Everyone called her Becky. I figure if it’s a girl, we can call her Becky and if it’s a boy…” he stopped himself and gave a rueful smile. “Well, knowing my family, if it’s a boy, we’ll still call him Becky.”

“Beckett,” Dean mused, pulling Castiel into his chest. “I like it. Beckett Marie for a girl. Marie for my mom Mary.”

He could feel Castiel’s smile against his shoulder. “Yeah. That’d be sweet. But what about for a boy? What was your mom’s middle name? Maybe we can masculinize that.”

Dean opened his mouth, then closed it, doing a very good impression of a trout out of water.

“Dean?” Castiel raised his head. “Didn’t your mom have a middle name?”

“Wwwwwwwwellll…yes?”

Castiel frowned. “Care to share it?”

“Demumble.”

Castiel fixed him with that blue gaze, and Dean knew he was lost.

“Deanna. Her middle name was Deanna. I’m named after my grandmother, okay? I have a girl’s name, okay?”

In Castiel’s defense, he really did fight laughter for longer than most people would have. Of course, he fought it so long that when he did finally let it out, it exploded from his lips in an unseemly snort and a lot of spit.

“Okay, okay,” Dean groused, pushing his mate off of him and heading towards the shower.

“It’s just that you always call Sam Samantha,” Castiel tried to explain. “But all along, it’s…”

Dean tried to shut the door on him, but Castiel pushed his way into the bathroom.

“Can’t a guy take a shower in peace?”

“Who is Sam named after, then?” Castiel asked, turning on the tap and stepping in. Dean followed him, but only because it was his idea to take a shower in the first place, and he wasn’t about to be pushed out of it.

“He was named after our grandfather.”

Castiel chuckled and wrapped his arms around Dean’s neck. “Whoever you’re named after, you are my Dean, and I love you.”

Dean couldn’t help kissing him. It was like breathing for him sometimes. “What about Beckett Dane for a boy?”

They both brought a hand to his little belly. “I love it,” Castiel said. “I love you.”

There was that realization that Castiel had already said it once and Dean hadn’t said it back. “I love you too, sweetheart. Love you so much.” Then he dropped to his knees and kissed little Beckett. “Love you too, jellybean.”

Castiel chuckled. “Much better than pumpkin.”

Once they managed to finish showering and clothing themselves (which took considerably more time than they had anticipated) they went to the dining room to find the Thetas sitting around the table, eating and talking loudly. It was amazing how a few pairings had made the dining table different and lively in a more organized way, as Garth sat with Mailinh, talking softly as she smiled, Kevin with Kimlan, who was clearly wearing the pants in the family. And then there were Benny, Madison and Beauregard who all three seemed to have become one, much to Dean’s amusement. He often joked that he’d like to watch that one unfold in the bedroom.

Weirder still, Balthazar and Lucifer seemed to be in some sort of deep conversation with Gabriel. Warning bells went off in Dean’s head. Lucifer and Gabriel in cahoots was bad enough, but throw Balthazar in the mix…Dean just hoped whatever was happening wouldn’t get them all killed or worse.

Of course, when the trio abruptly stopped talking the minute Dean walked into the room, he knew that something was going on. He just hoped Lucifer hadn’t spilled about the pup. In warning, he narrowed his eyes, frowning at Lucifer’s answering smirk. Lucifer was all wrong parts Gabriel and Michael, too tricky and too smart for his own good. And of course, Dean couldn’t help but like him because that was the Novak curse/blessing.

~*~*~*~

Castiel was excited to learn in his history class that they were pairing up for research essays. Most of the students looked downright pained at the process, but Castiel happily caught the eye of the other male Omega in the class, and was soon paired up with him to start researching the rise and fall of Constantinople.

“Hi!” Castiel said with enthusiasm, hoping he wasn’t coming off too creepy. “My name’s Castiel.”

Castiel was regarded by dark brown eyes framed by impossibly thick black lashes set into the softest brown skin. “Marc.” Like most Omegas, he was incredibly thin and compact, and he was also very, very beautiful in that exotic sort of Middle Eastern/Indian way that was so striking and made you look twice.

Castiel had to keep himself from extending his hand. He didn’t want to come off as too much of a dork. Instead, he managed to figure out their thesis statement and hash out a plan for researching at the library. It turned out that Marc had Wednesday afternoons free, and that worked for Castiel, so they made plans to meet the following week. Castiel was elated even though Marc didn’t seem nearly as excited. If anything, he seemed frightened.

“Is this your last class of the day?” Castiel asked, wishing he knew how to put the nervous wolf at ease.

“Yes.” Marc was clearly never going to elaborate without encouragement.

“Mine too. Do you have a car?” When Marc shook his head no, Castiel stopped himself from smiling like an idiot. “Well, I have a car. Can I drive you home?”

“I must wait for my ma—my mate.”

Well, now he just felt bad. He was scaring the poor wolf and making him stammer. “Oh. Um…well, do you want me to wait with you?”

Marc gave him his first smile. Just a little sad, hardly reaching his eyes. “I will be fine, Castiel. Thank you.”

Castiel was already feeling somewhat like a creeper towards his new potential bestie, and though he had been somewhat fantasizing about being friends with him (but no matter how much Dean might joke around, there was no hair braiding or mutual waxing of hard to reach areas in said fantasies), he was sure that Marc had hardly given him a thought. Marc was painfully shy, withdrawn to a fault, and Castiel was sure he wasn’t about to break down any walls by being aggressive right off the bat.

“Good. Call me if you can’t make it on Wednesday, then.”

Marcus nodded. “I’m sure I’ll be there.”

“Great!” He was breezy! And he continued to smile as Marcus walked away in the opposite direction, towards the science and math classrooms.

Castiel knew it was stupid to feel so disappointed. After all, not everyone was looking for a new friend, and Marc definitely seemed cautious. Maybe he’d been hurt in the past? Life wasn’t easy for Omegas. Maybe his family or his mate weren’t as kind as Castiel’s own family and mate?

Well, it didn’t do to dwell on it. He’d met the guy finally, gotten his name and his phone number and a promise to meet for research. It was really as much as he could expect, and it was a good first effort. He just wished he knew how to put people at ease better.

Castiel thought maybe Gabriel or Lucifer could help him with that. Both of his middle brothers tended to know how to make people like them right away, and they both exuded confidence. Since Lucifer would be staying through Thanksgiving, he’d have plenty of time to pick his brain.

In the Caddy, he cued up Johnny’s “American III” album and got lost in the familiar sound of that guitar that he could recognize from anywhere. It was soothing how familiar Cash’s sound was. No matter what radio station or iPod might be played, the minute you heard even one bar of guitar, you knew it was him. The man in black.

At home, he found Lucifer in the guest room, reading, a pair of rectangular black glasses perched on his nose. “Hi, Cassie. Come on in.”

Castiel entered and gave his brother a nod. “Lucifer.”

Lucifer patted the bed and Castiel snuggled down with him, taking the book from Lucifer and turning it over in his hands. It was a memoir by a Beta of a large pack in British Columbia.

Lucifer was often a source of comfort to Castiel when he was a small child. He was always warm and solid and there, filling the void where their mother should have been. Like a lot of brothers, Lucifer could be mean when Castiel bothered him too much, but unlike Michael, Lucifer had always been patient, soft-spoken, and kind to the little pup who would look up at him with wide, nearly wild blue eyes that looked exactly like their father’s in color, shape, size, and perpetual dark rings underneath. Lucifer would often joke that Castiel was the only five-year-old he knew of who could look like he just came off a bender by simply waking up in the morning. It never helped that his hair was always wild no matter how many times someone licked at his cowlicks or tried to slick it down. Like Chuck and Michael, his hair simply did what it wanted and curled or spiked at odd angles around his face. Dean liked it, and that was all Castiel ever cared about. He even started growing it just a bit longer so that when Dean threaded his fingers through it, he’d have more to grab onto. He had a delicious thrill at the thought of his hair curling itself around Dean’s fingertips as his mate petted him.

“How was school?” Lucifer asked, zeroing in on Castiel’s anxiety as he always did.

“It was great. I’m working on a research project with one of my classmates for History.”

Lucifer snorted. “I hated group projects in college.”

“Well, you tend to not play well with others, and you take control whether you should or not.”

“It’s really not my fault that everyone around me is completely incompetent and have poor leadership skills.”

“And you know this of course because you give them ample opportunity to display their inconsiderable skill.”

Lucifer smirked. “Naturally.”

Castiel smiled and nuzzled his brother’s cheek. Werewolves are more affectionate than other species, so it was not unusual to see brothers and sisters and packmates sitting close, even on top of each other or snuggled in beds together, nuzzling and grooming. It’s part of bonding both in the pack and in families that humans don’t seem to understand. To humans, most touch is sexual, so brothers and sisters snuggling and nuzzling is intrinsically construed as something disgusting and incestuous. Castiel often thinks that it must be very limiting to be human, and not just because their strength and senses are so few. There’s all that convention that goes along with it. Werewolves have traditions that are observed for mating, meeting anyone new, joining packs, and their societal structures, but they were never conventional. It was one of the reasons that humans nearly sent them extinct during the Enlightenment Period, and why they went into hiding for so long. If their numbers hadn’t flourished so well in recent decades, they would probably still be in hiding, pretending to be human.

“So tell me about this project you’re working on,” Lucifer said, steering the conversation back to Castiel’s source of anxiety.

“It’s the history of Constantinople. Nothing big.”

“You know, Istanbul is Constantinople.”

“Yes, but now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople.”

They both laughed. It was a favorite song.

“Who are you paired up with? Or is it a big group?”

Castiel sighed. “Just one other person. His name’s Marc. He’s a werewolf too.”

“And he’s nice?”

“I suppose so. I don’t really know him.”

“Still have trouble making friends, eh?” Lucifer asked, stroking the hairs at the back of Castiel’s head.

“Always,” Castiel smiled ruefully.

They fell quiet for a moment. Castiel picked at a frayed hole in the hem of his T-shirt. Well, it was Dean’s T-shirt, but he had managed to steal it. It was of course too large on him, but it smelled like Dean and the cotton had been washed so much that it was like a soft cloud on his overly sensitive pregnant skin.

“You know, Cas, I think you’re the best little brother a wolf could have, but you are a very intense person, and I can see how that might be off-putting for an Omega.” And there it was. The way Lucifer could tell him what his fault was, but in the nicest way possible. Michael might have been more abrupt and Gabriel might have lorded it over him, but both Anna and Lucifer had a way of breaking gently. “Now, an Alpha such as Dean might find your intensity incredibly interesting, and he clearly does. Even a Beta such as myself could find merit in it, but consider an Omega. Not someone raised as you were, or who has managed to find a mate like yours, but a wolf who has been oppressed most of his life and looked down upon. Particularly as a male, I can imagine that a very light touch is required to make that box open.”

Castiel mulled this over. “He’s in college. His mate must believe in education.”

“Hmm. True. But what about his family before his mate? You don’t know these things, so…maybe try being less enthusiastic. Hold back. And try not to give him your Intense Gaze.”

“I try, Luce. I really do try to not do that. Even Dean says it puts him off. I can’t help it. It’s as if I don’t require blinking when I’m thinking particularly hard.”

Lucifer ruffled his hair and kissed his temple. “I’m glad I came, Cassie. It’s good to see you so happy.”

“You’re just happy you’re the only one who knows about the pup.”

“Well, there is that,” Lucifer agreed. “But I am glad I’m here all the same.” He went quiet again, and Castiel was just thinking about going and finding Dean for some afternoon delight when Lucifer spoke again. “Castiel, Gabriel told me about this Crowley character.”

“Oh.”

Lucifer gave his shoulder a squeeze. “Have you seen him again? Since that night?”

Castiel wished he was any good at lying. “Sometimes.”

Lucifer turned his full attention to his youngest brother, his forehead wrinkled with worry. “Does Dean know?”

“I didn’t want to start a war!”

Lucifer pulled Castiel to him. “It’s okay, Cas. I’m going to take care of it for you.”

“Lucifer, you can’t. The sergeant said that people die around Crowley, and that they haven’t been able to touch him in five years.”

That reassuring hand came back to rest on the back of his neck. “They aren’t me, Cassie. You trust me. But I need to know when you’ve seen him and where.”

Castiel told his brother very shortly all the times he had seen Crowley hanging around close by, or smelled him but saw nothing. At the store when he was with Sam, at the library when he was alone, near one of the clubs, outside of a warehouse that the pack patrolled, in the woods one afternoon while he was running after Dean in wolf form. He felt paranoid even talking about it.

“What does he want with me?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll find out, Cassie. You’ll be safe.”

Castiel didn’t care about being safe for his own sake. He worried more about those around him. He had this feeling, this sense that whatever Crowley wanted him for, he wanted him alive. It was everyone else that Castiel’s worry went towards, and his usual nightmare of being taken from Dean forcibly over Dean’s very cold, very dead body had morphed into dreams about the bodies of his family and friends being strewn about as well. Now he supposed his sub-conscious would throw Lucifer’s lifeless form into the mix just for good measure.

He decided to go and find Dean. When his worries about Crowley got to be too much, he found Dean’s touch to be a soothing balm, and Dean, not knowing the source of his sudden appearance and urge to cuddle, always obliged. Within a few minutes of finding his mate in the garage, tinkering with the Impala’s engine, which had been knocking a bit, Castiel found himself flat on his back in the backseat, Dean inside of him and around him, holding him, suffusing him with heat and love and everything he needed at the moment. He only hoped that the time might come some day when he could give Dean back even just a bit of what had been given to him.

~*~*~*~

Gabriel apparently had no problem pairing mates up in his pack, because Madison, Beau and Benny were all patrolling the local furniture warehouse that night. Mates tended to work better together because the bond offered some small amount of telepathy when it came to who wanted who to do what and when. This was of course perfect in the bedroom, but it was something that helped out when they were working as well. Madison also liked knowing that her two mates (they all had yet to mark each other, but it was really only a matter of time at this point) were close by and that she could see them if the need arose.

Being in a wolf pack necessitated some form of what humans call codependency, and being mated took that bit of codependency into unhealthy levels. Well, unhealthy for the humans. For the wolves, it just was. They had to know where the other members of the pack were when they were hunting or tracking, and they had to know that they could trust each other with their lives. In times past, they would howl to each other, but now they could just use their mobiles to triangulate position. And their sense of smell and the feel of each other, of course. This sort of codependency came in handy that night as Madison thought she heard something strange in the warehouse and told Benny she was going to check it out. The managers they had to deal with generally appreciated heads-ups about rats and stray pets, so if it was something like that making the noise, Madison was sure to tell their contacts to get some traps.

What she found instead was a pale, bruised, shaking Theta laying in his own vomit and excrement, pupils like pinpricks, lips bloodless, completely unresponsive to Madison’s queries.

Benny must have felt her alarm, or he could have just been on his way to find her because she had heard strange noises and who doesn’t want to help someone when strange noises are involved? Madison was half out of her jacket and dialing the local precinct when Benny found her. He insisted she keep her jacket on, covering the strange wolf with his own instead, and he spoke with the dispatcher while Madison helped him answer the dispatcher’s questions as a squad car was sent to their location.

“He’s conscious but unresponsive,” Benny drawled, his warm voice like a soothing blanket to Madison’s nerves. “He looks awfully bad, brothah. Better send an amb’lance as well….Well, I can’t say, but I’m guessing drug OD? Or maybe detox? Yeah. ‘D say so. It’s pretty bad.”

Madison kept one eye on the unknown Theta and the other eye on her mate. When Beau showed up behind her, she turned to him and let him wrap her into a hug that was too short because soon they heard the sirens, and Benny told the dispatcher that his mate was going out to show them where to go. When Beau left to do just that, Madison turned back to the sick wolf and leaned over him.

“If you can hear me, then try to hold on. We have an ambulance and police coming to help you, okay?”

 

She reached out and petted his matted, dirty hair from his forehead. He’d actually be quite handsome if he weren’t so very sick. She would have thought he was beyond comprehension, but as the warehouse doors opened again and the sounds of EMT’s and deputies filled the hollow space, she heard the Theta say, “Don’t let him kill me. Please?” before he lost consciousness.

After that, it was all watching and waiting until the detectives turned their attention to the Winchester Thetas. By that time, Gabriel had shown up with three other Thetas who took over patrolling and who took it upon themselves to call their contacts for the furniture company so a manager for the building could come out and start making his own phone calls, mostly in regards to liability for the wolf who was on his way to the hospital.

“He’s one of them, isn’t he?” Gabriel asked the tall, thin detective with the shaggy dark hair.

“Yes. He’s one of Crowley’s Thetas,” the detective said with a sigh. “I pray to the gods he lives through the night.”

Madison and Benny shared a frown, unsure of what Gabriel was talking about.

 

~*~*~*~

There were so many things that Gabriel had to do for his Alpha, such as the accounts, the schedules, fielding inquiries from businesses, and basically obeying the order that they all keep out of the McLeod Pack business. This last directive was in contrast to the things he needed to do for his family, and so since he could not disobey his Alpha, he texted Lucifer.

Big Bro—go to St. Joe’s hospital. Find T Nick Parks. One of Crowley’s exes. Keep him safe. Ask him about Cassie.

Lucifer’s response had been almost immediate.

Sure thing. Bringing B with.

The great thing about Lucifer was that Gabriel didn’t have to tell him anything else. Not what happened, not what information he needed to wheedle from the ill Theta. No, Lucifer could work all that out for himself. But still…

Be careful. C may send his assassins.

Don’t worry. This is me we’re talking about.

Gabriel sighed. It was almost like he was being forced to ensure the safety of one brother at the risk of another. He knew that Lucifer would gladly make the sacrifice if asked how he felt about it, but Gabriel knew that Castiel wouldn’t appreciate losing his brother at the price of his own safety, and that Castiel would just as gladly sacrifice himself for Lucifer. It was one of the things that the Novaks and the Winchesters had in common: they would always choose family over self.

Turning his attention back to Inias, Gabriel began to ask the questions that he found relevant at the time. “What do you think he was doing here?”

“It’s clear that someone beat him pretty badly. He said it was “Master” who did it.”

Gabriel snorted. “Someone’s been watching too much Doctor Who.”

Inias tilted his head. “I don’t understand that reference.”

“Never mind. So…Master. That’s Crowley?”

“Yes, he has them call him Master. It’s a bit of a power trip, I think.”

“He came here to detox himself?” Gabriel sat back on his heels by the offal where Nick had been laying and gave it a tentative sniff. Sure, it smelled disgusting, but beyond the sick and the offal, there were other things such as chemicals and foreign bodies that Gabriel was attempting to suss out.

“I doubt that was his end game, but yes, he certainly started the process. Could have killed himself doing it, too. The drugs that Eve makes are strong, highly addictive, and long-lived in the system.” Inias sighed tiredly and crouched near Gabriel. “They make their Thetas and Omegas dependent on them. It’s how they train them. The ones we’ve found have been…abused in some of the most creative ways I have ever seen. And yet they want more. They beg to see their master, beg us to give him back to them. You saw the Theta. Imagine the beating he’d have to take in order for his body to stop healing like that. Imagine the amount of drug they’d have to take to make them high and keep them high.”

“It’s torture,” Gabriel mused. “Good old fashioned waterboarding torture.”

“Mixed with a good amount of Stockholm Syndrome. Creating dependence makes Crowley the savior as well as the abuser. He gives them pain only to give them pleasure and oblivion afterwards. The weirdest part is that Crowley seems to enjoy the aftereffect. A lot of abusers grow tired of their victims after they create the perfect little puppies, but Crowley seems to enjoy the broken creatures he has left. He loves seeing the hold he created over them, and he likes to test the limits of their complete and utter loyalty. A few have burned themselves alive simply because he told them to.”

Gabriel frowned. “It sounds like a cult almost. Like those Branch Dividians or Hail Bob worshipers.”

Inias nodded emphatically. “Exactly. That’s exactly what it’s like. Crowley is their king, their master. Their god, practically. They worship at his altar.”

Gabriel was unsettled by this assessment. He exchanged information with Inias once again and made his way home, the urge to see Castiel, touch him, and assure himself that he was still alive, so that was what he did.

Castiel and Dean were in their office, Castiel sitting on Dean’s desk, smiling and laughing at something Dean had said. Dean’s hands were at his waist, and when Gabriel walked in, the Alpha simply slid his hands down Castiel’s thighs where they rested. It should have bothered Gabriel to see someone be so overtly claiming towards his youngest brother, but he felt safe with that gesture. Dean would do what he had to do to keep Castiel safe. Gabriel and Lucifer (and Balthazar too, apparently) would work in the background, but Dean would be there by Cassie’s side, never leaving it.

“You look tired,” Castiel said, hopping off of the desk and walking over to him. “What happened?”

Gabriel smiled his usual easy smile. “Nothing big. Maddie found a half-dead transient at the furniture warehouse, and I had to go talk to the cops. No biggie. I just wanted to see you.”

Castiel pulled his brother into a hug, clearly aware that he needed it. Lately Castiel was smelling particularly sweet, some smell that made Gabriel feel nostalgic and happy for some reason he wasn’t able to put his finger on, so he breathed his brother in and let that scent calm his nerves.

“Go to bed, Gabe. I’ll take care of the Thetas. You’re obviously tired,” Castiel murmured.

Gabriel couldn’t resist kissing his cheek. “Thanks, kiddo. You’re the best.”

“I know.”

Gabriel didn’t go straight to bed. He wandered the house, making sure nothing looked or felt off, then made his way slowly to his room. At the den, he stopped and saw Madison sitting on Beau’s lap, Benny at their feet, all of them murmuring to each other. It was unusual for one female to take two males as mates; usually it was the other way around, but Gabriel couldn’t help but wanting to high-five Madison every time he saw her with her mates. Tonight was no exception, they looked so close, so cozy and so complete with each other that he felt more than just the passing “You go, sexy bitch!”, he felt a true longing for that same closeness. But not just yet. Not while Cassie was in the wind the way he was.

Feeling melancholy and anxious, Gabriel made his way to his room and collapsed on his bed, tossed and turned for several hours, and then went to Lucifer’s room to await news from his brother because there was no way he was sleeping until he heard what his brother had to say.

Of course, the minute he was propped up on his brother’s pillows, starting in on the memoir that Lucifer had on his nightstand, sleep overtook him and he didn’t even wake up when Lucifer shifted him to the far side of the bed and slid in next to him two hours later. He did, however, have a very odd dream wherein Lucifer mumbled, “Thank the gods you have clothes on, assbutt.”

Chapter Text

Lucifer was patient. It was one of his virtues, and he had very few, so he prided himself on it a bit. That was why he was the perfect one to wait for Nick Parks to wake from his unconscious state.

The Theta was hooked up to a monitor and IV fluids were being delivered, which was helping Nick’s natural healing to begin, though it was slow going. There were yellow bruises littering his face along with lacerations that were slowly closing. It was just a waiting game until he was conscious again, hence the patience.

Balthazar, it turned out, wasn’t nearly as patient.

“Shall I fetch you a tea?” he asked for what seemed like the eighth time in an hour.

Lucifer looked up from the magazine he’d been slowly perusing (tips for a flatter tummy? Maybe he’d leave that on Cassie’s desk as a fun little joke) and smiled, deciding that it just might get his own Theta out of his hair. “You know, Bal, that sounds good. Make mine a coffee.”

“Cream? Sugar?”

“Black.”

“Right,” Balthazar said. “Won’t be long.”

Lucifer grabbed his arm. “Take your time, Bal. We have a long night ahead of us.”

Balthazar sighed. “Right.”

Lucifer watched him walk away, smirking to himself. Balthazar was older than him by nearly twenty years, but he was a Theta by nature, always wanting to move and work. Lucifer was a quintessential Beta, always looking for the end result, no matter how far away it was.

Of course, the minute Balthazar left, Nick regained consciousness. Lucifer moved to the bed and caressed Nick’s face, noting the way the Theta flinched.

“Hey, kiddo, calm down,” he said in his most soothing voice. The Theta’s heartbeat was going through the roof, and he was looking around wild-eyed. He clearly still had drugs in his system, but he was definitely doing better. “My name’s Lucifer.”

“Please, don’t tell him I’m here…please!” Nick begged, grabbing Lucifer’s sleeve.

“Don’t worry,” Lucifer said, putting his hand over Nick’s and rubbing his thumb over it to soothe him. “I’m going to keep you safe. You have my word.”

Nick regarded him with tawny eyes, chewing at his thin lips until he opened a gash on the bottom lip and blood trickled down his chin. Lucifer reached into his jacket and took out a crisp white handkerchief, then gently blotted the blood. “There there, sweet pup. Let’s calm down.”

“Who do you work for?” Nick asked. “Are you with him? The Master?”

Lucifer shook his head. “No, I work only for myself here. Your master is called Crowley, is he not?”

Nick flinched at the name and folded in on himself. “That’s the Master.”

“Shhh, sweet pup,” Lucifer murmured, petting his head. “It’s okay now. He won’t come here. I am going to make sure he won’t come here.”

“Wh-why?” A tear traced down his cheek. “Why do you care about me?”

“Well, for one thing, this is my hometown and I hate to have a man like Crowley ruining it. For a second thing, my brother is Castiel Novak.”

At the name, Nick drew in his breath quickly. “No!”

“Now you see, I’m going to keep you safe because you are going to tell me exactly what your master wants with my brother, and I am going to kill him.”

Nick’s eyes got wide. “Mr. Lucifer, please…no one can kill him. They’ve all tried and they’ve all failed.”

“We’ll see about that.”

They went quiet, Lucifer found it was usually best to just sit and be silent and let the other person stew for a moment. It usually loosened tongues and it nearly always got him what he wanted.

“Your brother is Castiel?”

“Yes.”

The silence clearly bothered Nick, but Lucifer just sat still, continuing to rub Nick’s hand in a soothing manner.

“I don’t know exactly what Master wants with Castiel, aside from the obvious. He…he had some of us follow him and learn where he was, what he did.”

“I’m sure you were just following orders,” Lucifer soothed. He would have said more, but Balthazar returned with the coffee then.

“Here you are, darling, just like you wanted it…oh, hello chappie. How are we feeling?”

Lucifer worried that Balthazar’s careful laizes-faire attitude might send Nick back inside himself, but after the wounded Theta spent several minutes staring at Balthazar as he and Lucifer drank their coffees, Nick finally relaxed.

“Did you two save me?”

“Ah, no, that’d be our Madison, Benny and Beau,” Balthazar said. Then he pulled a packet from his jacket pocket. “Scone? You look a bit…hungry.”

Poor Nick actually looked green at the idea of eating anything, so Lucifer stroked his hair again and nodded to Balthazar to back off.

“Probably for the best,” Balthazar decided. “Nasty, dry thing I suppose.”

Lucifer knew that with Nick awake, room, his time was running short. The Theta would not allow for the long silences Lucifer used to draw out information, and it was only a matter of time before a doctor or nurse came in and would begin to wonder why they were in the room where they weren’t supposed to be. Lucifer had some skill to keep himself unnoticed, but just like an Alpha could only Compel in an instance of forcing someone to do something they would normally do or wanted to do, Lucifer would not be able to keep himself in Stealth Mode (as Gabriel called it) once the doctors, nurses, and, more than likely, detectives started crowding into the room.

He was right. Very soon, a person in a blue lab coat came into the room and immediately zeroed in on Lucifer and Balthazar. “Visiting hours are over, gentlemen,” he said with a frown. His nametag read “George.”

Lucifer gave a charming smile and flashed his badge. Sure it was for a completely different state and city, but that didn’t tend to matter much to the average human, which this man clearly was. “I’m protecting this wolf.”

The man harrumphed and looked over the chart. “Mr. Parks, how are you feeling?”

Nick looked positively green around the gills, but he just nodded. “I’m healing.”

“You had enough barbiturates in you to kill five men,” George admonished.

“Lucky, then, that he’s a werewolf,” Balthazar snarked. Lucifer actually smiled at that. Balthazar smiled back and Lucifer found himself lost in the impish lines of the British werewolf’s face for a little longer than strictly necessary.

They were jarred from their mutual staring (was it something that ran in the Novak line, Lucifer wondered) by the arrival of a tall, rangy dark-haired werewolf. He started at the two blonds in the room, clearly werewolves, and narrowed his eyes.

“Who are you?”

George frowned. “They said they were with you.”

Lucifer rolled his eyes. “I said I was keeping this wolf safe.” Then he turned to the werewolf. “Lucifer Novak. And you are…?”

“Inias. I’m with the Sheriff’s office. Are you with Gabriel?”

Lucifer raised an eyebrow at that. “Yes. He’s my brother. So is Castiel.”

Inias nodded. “Well, you have to leave. I’m sorry, but you can’t stay here.”

“No!” Nick exclaimed, his heart rate raising, making the machine punch out a harsher staccato. “No, he said he’d stay! He said he’d keep me safe!”

“Sir, you must calm down!” George admonished, placing his hand on Nick’s chest and pushing him down into the bed.

“Don’t worry, Nick, I mean it when I say I’ll keep you safe.”

“I’m going to keep you safe as well, Mr. Parks,” Inias said in his quiet way. “I want to bring Crowley down. Will you help me?”

Nick looked at Lucifer for guidance. As the only Beta in a room of Thetas (and one human), Lucifer was the top-ranking wolf, so it was natural that he was assumed to be in charge by Nick. He gave a nod to Nick, and Nick agreed to help Inias.

“I will keep you safe, Mr. Parks,” Inias promised. “My deputies will be stationed at your door and I will be personally overseeing your stay at the hospital. After that, we will move you to a safe house.”

“He’ll find me,” Nick declared. “He always finds us. Someone there…at the Sheriff. They must tell him where we are.”

Inias colored. “I’m keeping you very close to me,” he promised. “Very few people know where you are, or even who you are, and Sheriff Singer is seeing to your detail personally. We will keep you safe.”

Nick again looked to Lucifer for help, and Lucifer moved back to the injured Theta, his quiet demeanor once again serving him much better than anything else. “It’s all right, Nick. I’ll make sure they’re doing their jobs. I will look out for you.”

Inias sighed and shot Lucifer a face. “Mr. Novak, can I please speak with you outside?”

Well, he’d been expecting that. “Sure. Bal? Keep Nick safe for us, okay?”

Balthazar nodded. “Of course, darling.”

Lucifer followed the Theta out to the hall, braced for a dressing down, so Lucifer cut him off before he could start in. “How do you plan on keeping this man safe, Detective.”

“Sergeant. I have already stated that I will be personally seeing to his twenty-four-seven security detail. I’ve handpicked the wolves that will be taking care of him and given them thorough background checks. I will also be working extreme overtime to ensure that Mr. Parks remains amongst the living for the foreseeable future.”

“I really would feel better if I were to be a part of his protection detail. I will be offering my services to him personally. If he accepts, I would hope that there would be no opposition from your office.”

“Look, I know that you and Gabriel want to ensure Castiel’s safety, and I’m sure that Mr. Parks seems like a catalyst for such action…”

“Sergeant, let me assure you that I do intend to personally see to my brother’s safety, the safety of Nick Parks, and the safety of all Novaks and Winchesters as the needs arise. Nothing you are about to say will stop me from doing this.”

Inias’s lips went tight and thin as he regarded Lucifer. “No, I don’t suppose it will.”

“So we understand each other.”

“So help me, if you ruin this investigation for me, I’m—“

Lucifer took out his badge and brandished it for the Sergeant. “I’m with Boston PD, Inias. I’m a Captain over the Investigations division. I know what this case means to you. I don’t want to step on your toes or ruin anything. I want to get Crowley. I want to stop the drug trade of the McLeod pack. But I’m a wolf, and above all that, I need to keep my baby brother safe. He’s…you can’t tell anyone this, but he’s in pup right now. Brand new life, just waiting to be born, and I will not allow Crowley to take that from my family. My mother died giving Castiel life and I will not allow her sacrifice to be in vain.”

Inias took the badge and gulped. “So I guess you know what you can and can’t do with regards to evidence and witnesses.”

“That’s right, kiddo. I will try my hardest to make sure that the outcome for you is usable evidence and an airtight case. Barring that, I will rip Crowley’s fucking neck open and drink his blood.”

“Uh, let’s…let’s try for the first outcome?” Inias handed the badge back with hands that shook only slightly.

“Of course.”

Inias pinched the bridge of his nose. “Okay, go home, Lucifer. I’ll see you back here tomorrow. I will stay tonight. If you insist upon keeping Parks safe, come back tomorrow in the evening, and take over for me.”

Lucifer smiled. “Sure thing.”

He went back into the room, the sergeant following closely behind him, and sat down on the edge of Nick’s bed. “Okay, Nick. Here’s my card. This right here that I’m circling is my personal cell phone number. Call it any time, day or night, for any reason. I am here for you. I will be back tomorrow afternoon. Do you understand?”

Nick nodded and took the card with dirt-caked fingers. “Thank you, Lucifer.”

Lucifer ruffled his hair and motioned for Balthazar to follow him out. They were silent on their ride down the elevator to the parking structure, but once they got in the car, Lucifer began the talking. “What did you think of Inias?”

Lucifer shrugged and shifted into a higher gear as he pulled onto the main highway. “He seemed competent enough. I felt a true and sincere wish to see Nick live from him.”

“Me too.”

“What did he want to talk to you about?”

“What do you think? He didn’t want us ruining his investigation. Crowley’s a big fish, and he wants to catch him.”

“He’s pretty handsome, don’t you think?”

There was a long beat of silence when Lucifer tried to figure out what Balthazar was getting at. “I suppose. If you go in for all that shaggy dark hair and chiseled jaw.”

Balthazar shifted again, a little hard this time. “All those lanky limbs and slick suit, sure. I suppose he’s shagable.”

Lucifer looked over at Balthazar with a light smile tugging at his lips. He let the silence continue for a long, awkward three minutes (so what if he timed it?) before saying, “I said if you go in for all that shaggy dark hair and chiseled jaw. If.”

Balthazar processed this for a further minute and a half. “Oh.”

Lucifer smiled. “Yes. Oh.”

“ Awkward.”

Lucifer laughed out loud at that. “You’re really an ass, you know that, Bal?”

Balthazar laughed along with Lucifer, and when he pulled into the garage, he barely let Lucifer remove his seatbelt before he was on him, in his lap, kissing him, hands in his hair, tongue searching for purchase against Lucifer’s.

“Slow down, Bal,” Lucifer managed to gasp.

“Not bloody likely,” Balthazar answered, grappling around the seat for the recliner lever and pulling it, pushing Lucifer backwards as he ground them together, now fully in his lap.

Lucifer felt himself grow impatient with that lever of impertinence. “I said slow down,” he said, turning his face so that Balthazar could only assault his cheek. The Theta was not deterred, however, and continued to slide his hips against Lucifer’s. The sensation was wonderful and marvelous and everything Lucifer could want, but…not yet. Not now. Not in a car that had fewer square inches than a fucking Mini Cooper. “Balthazar, stop!” he commanded, pushing Balthazar upright and growling low in his throat.

Balthazar made a face that was completely indescribable. His jaw went slack, his eyes closed, and he groaned low in his throat. Lucifer was transfixed, taking in every sight, sound, and smell as Balthazar was taken over the edge by his display of dominance.

“Bal, did you just…”

Balthazar practically fell forward, breathing heavily across Lucifer’s neck where he snuggled down. “Good lord, that was embarrassing. I’m so sorry, Luce. I’ve heard…but I’ve never been with anyone above a Theta. I’ve never felt that much power.” He chuckled and wiped the sweat from his forehead. “Whoo, that was…I’m really sorry, Darling, I’ll take care of you just as soon as I catch my breath here.”

Lucifer stroked his fingers through Balthazar’s fuzzy blond hair. “It’s okay, Bal. We need to slow down. You don’t need to worry about me.”

Balthazar lifted his head. “Lucifer, what do you…oh no. What a first-rate fool I’ve been, of course you’re just playing me like you did Lilith and I bet you get off on it, too, don’t you, you sodding—“

“Hush!” Lucifer growled. “Fuck, Bal. No!” He placed a hand on either side of Balthazar’s face and stroked his thumbs over his cheekbones. “Hush, dear. It’s not like that. Listen to me. I’m not some fuck you take in for a night or an hour. I’m going to be here tomorrow morning. The morning after that. And after that, I’ll still be here, Bal.” He stroked along Balthazar’s neck, noting the texture and color, the pretty pink flush erupting around it. “When I fuck you, this is where I’m going to mark you. I’m going to sink my teeth into your neck as I sink my cock into your ass, and I’m going to claim you as mine. Do you hear me?”

Balthazar shivered. “Bloody hell, Lucifer.”

Lucifer kissed his cheek, then pushed him upright and pulled the seat back upwards. With the seat up, the smallness of the front seat was even more pronounced. “Absent gods, Balthazar. Don’t you think you deserve more than a quick fuck in this little thing?”

“I’ve honestly never thought that far beyond it, Luce.”

Lucifer gave him another kiss. “Well, you’d best start thinking because that’s what I want if we’re going to do this. So you have to tell me that you want it too.”

Balthazar stared at him with those blue eyes that sparkled like glass. “All right.”

“No, think about it. Take your time. We can wait for all this.” Lucifer began kissing down his neck, tasting the area he was intending to mark. “And when we do come together, baby, it’s going to be so fucking great. But it’s going to be forever, so you have to be sure.”

He opened the door and pushed Balthazar out, then followed him through the house, holding his hand and tugging him along. At the top of the stairs, they parted with one last kiss, and Lucifer made his way to his own bedroom where he hoped he could quietly contemplate (beat off to thoughts of Balthazar) the situation. Instead, he found his brother in his bed and rolled his eyes. Apparently Gabriel meant to wait up for him, if the stacked pillows and book were any indication, but had apparently succumbed to his fatigue.

Lucifer sighed and put his arm behind Gabriel’s shoulders, holding him up as he redistributed the pillows. Gabriel, the little shit, slept through the entire thing and even remained asleep when Lucifer put his other arm under Gabriel’s knees and half shoved/half lifted him to the other side of the bed. As he did so, he couldn’t help but say, “Thank the gods you have clothes on, assbutt.”

He lay down next to his brother and pulled the sheet over both of them. “Hey, Gabe. I just proposed to Balthazar. Whaddaya think?”

Smiling into the darkness, Lucifer fell asleep.

~*~*~*~

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, found Castiel getting ready to go to the library and meet Marc. His internal temperature was now several degrees above normal, but the Midwestern autumn was slowly closing towards winter, and it was not cold enough for him to slip a sweater on over one of Dean’s T-shirts and to wear a pair of thick-soled boots for his outings.

Shoes tended to be a bone of contention (no pun intended) for werewolves. They tended to prefer going barefoot and generally did so while on their own property, so thick-soled boots were worn with a lot of stomping and derisive looks at his feet every few steps. It was with a look of frustration on Castiel’s face that he ran into Marc just outside the library.

“Oh, hi!” Castiel said brightly, boots forgotten.

“Castiel,” Marc answered, looking down at the offending boots. “Everything all right?”

“Oh, yes. I just really hate boots and currently, I’m…well, I just hate boots.”

Marc gave him his first smile. “Me too. I’ll be happy when the weather gets warmer and we can go barefoot again.”

Castiel smiled back, very pleased that Marc was suddenly being very open and kind with him. He hoped that his potential new bestie had realized that they could be friends and support each other.

They walked into the library and made their way to the computers so they could look up which reference books would serve them best.

“Um, Castiel?” Marcus asked while writing down a number. “Did you drive your car today?”

Castiel managed to smile inwardly rather than grinning like an idiot on the outside. “Yes, did you need a ride home?”

“If you don’t mind.”

“Don’t mind at all.”

He managed to stay calm and find another reference book to look up as Marcus actually began to open up. “I’ve told my mate about you, and he was pleased that we are partners for this project.”

“My mate and brothers are very happy for me that I’ve met another male Omega werewolf.”

“You are close with your family?”

Castiel remembered what Lucifer had said about how Marc might not have had a very supportive family, so the while the question took him just slightly by surprise, he had been also somewhat anticipating it. “Yes, we are very close. What about you?”

Marcus looked away. “We do not speak anymore.”

Castiel wasn’t ashamed to admit that he wanted to get to know everything about Marc, and that Sam’s prediction of him being very cat-like was coming true. This was because the more stand-offish Marc was, the more he withheld information, the more Castiel burned to know about him, much like a cat might prefer the person who loathed it to the person who desperately wanted to cuddle with it. It was not to be said, however, that Castiel couldn’t take instruction, so he followed Lucifer’s advice and pretended that he wasn’t that eager and soon Marcus began to open a little more.

Of course, “opening up a little more” meant that by the end of two hours, Castiel still knew next to nothing about Marc other than the fact that he was shy, withdrawn, and not very talkative. Considering that Castiel’s own “people skills” were slightly “rusty,” this meant that neither could honestly say that a true exchange of information had taken place. The only indication Castiel had of what Marc might think was when Marc gave him a tiny smile and said, “You are a very kind wolf, Castiel.” Castiel was too busy trying not to smile like a loon to make any sort of reply.

Castiel drove Marc home from the college and learned the neighborhood of his new friend. “I can pick you up too if you ever need it,” he said helpfully when Marc asked to be let off at the corner of Fellowes and Waterfront, insisting that Castiel not need to drive him all the way to his house.

“Thank you, Castiel,” Marc had said with sincerity. “If I ever require a lift, I will call you.”

That small promise warmed him for the entire ride home.

Once back home, Castiel joined Ellen, Sam, Gabriel, Lucifer, and Kimlan in the kitchen where they were beginning the preparations for the feast the following day. Thanksgiving was generally a much larger affair in the Novak household than Christmas was, so Gabriel and Castiel had been looking forward to introducing their new pack to their traditional family recipes since the very first meal they had cooked for the pack.

Ellen smiled brightly at Castiel, a mound of peeled turnips at one elbow and the peelings at the other. Lucifer was spicing sliced apples in preparation for pie baking, and Gabriel was experimenting with an actual pumpkin this year rather than using canned for another pie. Kimlan and Sam both looked interested in simply learning how to cook and prep for a huge day, and Castiel, Gabriel and Lucifer were all three happy to teach whatever they could.

Chuck would never make his pups feel bad for wanting to experiment, for making a mess, or for asking questions, and as a result, all of his pups (even Michael) were more than happy to instruct when asked. That was how Castiel found himself showing Sam how to gently knead dough without overdoing it. Thankfully, the giant Beta was going to get plenty of practice as there would be three different kinds to be made: bread dough for dinner rolls, brioche dough for cinnamon rolls (breakfast), and pie crust (for Dean…). The Brioche and regular bread were very similar in mix, rise, punch down, knead, rise again, punch down again, knead again, form into little dough balls/rolls as the occasion calls for. The pie crust was slightly different as it required no rising at all, just chilling.

“Is there some substitute we can use for butter?” Sam asked as he started mashing together the butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar that would be used as the filling for the cinnamon rolls. This earned him a dirty look from every other member of the room, and he shrugged. “I just want to keep it healthy, okay?”

“They’re cinnamon rolls, Jolly Not-So-Green,” Lucifer snarked. “They aren’t supposed to be healthy.”

“Play nicely with others, Lucie,” Gabriel admonished.

“Why should I start doing something so tediously dull at this stage in my life?”

Ellen brandished a knife. “Because you’ll be answering to me if you don’t.”

Lucifer regarded the knife and the female wielding it before giving a short nod. “Noted.” He then gave her his most charming smile, which instantly melted her down and made her smile back.

Castiel then helped Kimlan prepare the challa bread and vegetables for the dressing.

“Okay, I want you to explain this all to me, if you please, Castiel,” she said pointing at the bread, the vegetables, and the spices.

“We’re basically going to cut everything tonight in preparation for tomorrow,” he explained.

“No, I know that. I mean why challa bread? Why all of the other stuff? And why not just use a box?”

The three brothers all groaned. “Trust me, sweetling, once you’ve had the real thing from scratch, you’ll never want to go back to the boxed crap,” Lucifer said with a pat to Kimlan’s arm. “Plus, that little boytoy of yours will be bound to your lead once he finds out that you did all this.”

“Kevin is already on my lead,” Kimlan replied rather smugly, her smile proof of the satisfaction she found in that statement.

Gabriel snorted. “Having met his mother on more than one occasion, I can safely say that Kevin prefers dominant females in his life.”

“Good lord above, that woman is a force to be reckoned with!” Ellen exclaimed, making the occupants of the kitchen laugh.

“Coming from you, Ellen, that’s frightening,” Sam said, giving her an affectionate kiss on the forehead.

Castiel turned back to Kimlan and picked up a loaf of challa bread. “We use challa bread because it’s a thick, dense bread that will soak up the flavors, but still keep its shape and texture when soaked in liquid, and we are cutting it the night before so it can dry out just a bit because stale bread will actually do all the soaking much better than fresh, moist bread.” He pinched a small piece and held it out to Kimlan, who ate it straight from his fingers. “Taste that? It’s eggy, it’s chewy, it’s everything that bread should be.”

“It’s also got more calories in one square inch than a piece of chocolate cake,” Sam joked.

Castiel frowned. “I don’t believe that is correct, Sam.”

“He’s just kidding, baby bro,” Gabriel insisted, elbowing Castiel in the back as he passed by with a huge skillet in his hand.

“Anyway,” Castiel brushed the distractions away. “So, we’re going to cut the bread into one-inch cubes, and then dice the parsley, celery, carrots and onion for tomorrow so we don’t have to do it then. Unfortunately, the apples will have to wait to be cut tomorrow because no matter how much lemon juice I put on them, they always turn brown.”

Kimlan held up a hand. “Okay, why are we putting fruit in the stuffing?”

“Everything we’re going to be eating tomorrow will be incredibly savory, so a little fruit will go a long way towards making us feel a little less stuffed.”

Gabriel smirked. “Yeah, and the less stuffed you feel, the more you can eat.”

Kimlan turned to say something to Gabriel, not even thinking that she had her knife in her hand still and barely grazed Castiel’s arm with it, not enough to break the skin, just enough to remind him that she had absolutely no kitchen skills whatsoever. His answering intake of breath made her drop the implement with a gasp and a squeaked, “I’m sorry!”

The large, heavy chef’s knife (and, really, it was ridiculous that his mind thought about the fact that she should have been using a bread knife instead) fell downward and lodged itself pointy-end-first into Castiel’s bare foot (painfully) before the heavy handle caused it to (painfully) fall over (painfully) blade-side-up, slicing upwards(painfully) in the top of his foot until the gash was at least three inches long, practically as deep as his foot, and oozing blood.

Kimlan screamed and immediately began apologizing like her life depended on it. Knowing how protective Dean was of Castiel, she might have actually been convinced she was right. Ellen grabbed one of the soft floursack towels laying around and pressed it to the gash, but not applying much pressure as humans might, because of the way that werewolves can heal themselves. If he wasn’t pregnant, he’d be healing himself, that is.

Thankfully, Lucifer was right there to scoop Castiel up and carry him off in the direction of the bathroom, a literal bloodline trailing after them.

“You have to go to the hospital, Cas,” Lucifer hissed, applying pressure to the cut after he set him on the sink vanity. “Text Dean. I’m going to try and get the bleeding to lessen.” He wrapped the towel and applied painful pressure to the cut, both top and sole because the knife had actually—dear gods—pierced through at one point on the bottom.

Not trusting his fingers to do the talking, Castiel pressed Dean’s name on his phone and called him.

“Um…Cas?” Dean asked from the other side. “Aren’t you home?”

“Dean, I’m hurt. I’m in the bathroom by the kitchen…you need to take me to the hosp—“

He wasn’t finished speaking when he looked up and found Dean standing in the doorway, doing his trout impression once more.

“How?” was all he managed to get out, gesturing at Castiel’s foot.

“Kitchen accident,” Lucifer said. “Dean, he won’t heal if he’s pregnant, we’ve got to get him to the hospital, and I’m really sorry, but your little jig is more than likely up because we all know what causes werewolves to stop healing.”

Dean sighed and reached for Castiel. “Okay, let’s go,” he mumbled as he lifted his mate.

“Wait, let me walk,” Castiel insisted. “Please, Dean?”

Lucifer and Dean both shook their heads. “It’s a cut on your foot, Cas,” Lucifer said as gently as possible. “If you put weight on it, you’ll just make it worse.”

Castiel figured they were right, so he let Dean pick him up (like he could stop him), and they were off.

Gabriel met them by the garage, his phone in hand. “Just texted Dad,” he said. “I also have Ellen supervising the prep work, and Kimi has removed herself from the kitchen.”

Dean grunted. “So why are you here?”

“I’m coming with you, of course. That is still my baby brother.”

Dean grumbled something about stubborn Novaks before grousing, “Well, you might as well get the door since I’ve got my hands full.”

Gabriel opened the door and made a sweeping gesture. “I’ll drive.”

Dean groused again at that, but Gabriel driving meant he could hold Castiel in the backseat, so he didn’t object. He did call ahead to St. Joseph’s so that a doctor who knew how to treat pregnant Omegas would be sure to attend them. Thankfully, Pam met them at the emergency entrance.

“What did you do to yourself, gorgeous?” she asked Castiel as Dean set him down in a waiting wheelchair.

“Is the chair necessary?” Castiel grumbled.

“It’s either the chair, or I carry you through the hospital,” Dean threatened.

“Bestill my heart,” Pam said as she led them through to an elevator, and then to an examination room. She let Dean and Castiel enter before her, but then she stopped Lucifer and Gabriel from joining them. “Look, I let Daddy 2.0 inside because he has a Claim, but Smirky and Sexy need to wait down the hall.”

“He’s our brother,” Lucifer pointed out.

“Down the hall,” Pam reiterated.

Castiel could hear Gabriel say, “She meant me when she said Sexy,” followed by Lucifer’s, “Dream on, Smirky.”

Pam turned to the wolves at hand. “Does your pack need a permanent nurse, Mr. Winchester? Because I’d be willing to leave this hellhole if all your Betas looked like those two.”

“Listen, if this one decides to get himself injured again—“ “like I did it on purpose” “—then I may take you up on that,” Dean said.

Castiel just shot him a look. Pam saw the look and winked at Castiel. “You two really do make my job worthwhile,” she said. “Well, the ones like you. Trust me, Mr. Novak, there are worse things out there than a mate who’s a little protective and a lot loving.”

Castiel blushed, ashamed, and took Dean’s hand. “Trust me, Doctor, I know.”

Pam gave his shoulder a squeeze and smiled before unwrapping the towel from his foot. “I know you know. Now, let’s get down to business. Knife wound, quite deep, won’t heal for probably three, maybe four days. I’m thinking…glue.”

“Glue,” Castiel repeated.

“Glue and some butterfly plasters. As your foot heals, the glue will dissolve into your body. Better than stitches, which your body might reject.”

Castiel nodded, wincing as Pam began to clean the wound with antiseptic.

“Doctor, you’re a werecougar, right?”

“Sure thing, Blue Eyes.”

“Are all werecougars in the medical field?”

Pam shrugged. “We’re just like wolves, we do a lot of different things. My pack is in medicine, but we don’t limit ourselves.”

“Do you know the counselor Miss Clarke at the Omega college?”

Pam nodded. “She’s in my pack.” She started to apply the DermaBond, which Castiel tried to ignore because it felt so wrong. “Is she your guidance counselor? At the college?”

“Yeah,” Castiel said as she pushed the skin together, his voice just a little higher than usual. “Oh, I don’t like that.”

Dean held his hand a little tighter, obviously fascinated by the entire proceeding. “Are you guys going to do this when he has the pup?”

Pam shook her head. “No, he’ll be able to heal almost immediately after we go in after your pup. If he breastfeeds, it’ll go a little quicker.”

“Oh.”

“Which I will be doing,” Castiel promised, and got a smile in return from Dean.

“Okay, Blue Eyes, you’re all done here. Keep it covered loosely, and I’ll get you some crutches to help you get around, unless Muscles here is insistent upon carrying you.” Pam grabbed a roll of gauze and wrapped the wound.

“I will do anything,” Dean promised.

“And that’s why he loves you,” Pam laughed. “Okay, I’ll go let Smirky and Sexy know they can see you, and I’ll get your crutches.”

When she was gone, Dean turned to his mate. “She does know we have names, right?”

Chapter Text

Thanksgiving day and the day after were spent by Castiel with his injured foot in the air, bored nearly to tears (except when Dean managed to distract him), eating his body weight in candied nuts, stuffing, turkey sandwiches, pie, and leftover cinnamon rolls. The one nice part about it (and there really was only one nice part about it, aside from Dean hovering like some Roman Centurion) was that he could stop pretending he wasn’t pregnant. No longer fighting off the extreme fatigue, nausea, and nearly crippling hunger in order to appear normal, he actually felt less of all the symptoms, and it was very liberating.

When most of the pack went shopping on Black Friday, Castiel stayed at home with his father, the laptop between them as he chose items for a puppy registry. Chuck was somewhat invaluable during the registration process, as he knew what Castiel and Dean needed, as opposed to the things that Castiel really wanted. Of course, the third time Chuck snorted derisively at some expensive bit of baby clothing—a tiny pleather jacket that looked a lot like Dean’s—and said, “He’ll be out of that in two weeks, Cas,” Castiel growled and narrowed his eyes.

“But Dad, it’s cute, and Beckett will have it in their wardrobe for their own children.”

“You’re due in May, kiddo. When is Beck even going to wear it?”

Castiel sniffed and hit the “Back” button. “What about the little booties?”

Chuck sighed. “Fine, get the little motorcycle booties. But get the bigger size. You had huge feet when you were a whelp, and I’m pretty sure there has never been anything small about Dean.”

Castiel tried not to blush at that. He knew his father didn’t mean it that way, but…yeah. Nothing small about Dean. At all. He added the tiny motorcycle booties to his cart rather than to the registry. He wanted to give them to Dean for Christmas.

“Cas? Have you told your doctor about your mom?”

“I told her. She says that I have none of the symptoms, but she’s keeping an eye on it.”

Chuck put his arm around his son. “Be careful , Cas. They told your mom she was fine too.”

Castiel felt all of his old, guilty feelings return to the surface. “I’m sorry, Dad.”

Chuck shushed him and pulled him close, giving his head a kiss. “Don’t be sorry. She loved you so much. She knew you’d be special. I’m sure if she knew the outcome would be the way it was, she would have considered it worth it.”

“But we all grew up without her. My life for hers…”

“It’s done. It’s not worth thinking about,” Chuck said with finality. “We can’t change it.”
Castiel nodded. “I always used to wonder why she did it. I mean, once Michael informed me that she would still be alive if I weren’t, I often wondered why she would choose me over her. But now that I have Beckett, I understand. I’d do anything for him, dad. Anything.”

“I just hope you’ll never have to make that choice.”

“Me too. Can we talk about happier things now? Like this Ramones onesie?”

Chuck forced a watery laugh. “Yeah, not impressed. Find a Johnny Cash one and we’ll talk.”

“Not you too with the Johnny Cash! I’ve been listening to nothing but him, and variations of his music, and his duets with others for the past six months and I’m starting to get a little tired of him.”

“Hey, don’t knock the Man in Black, kid. Your grandpups will be listening to his music.”

Castiel huffed, but he was smiling as he opened a new tab and went to the Johnny Cash online store. Surely there had to be some… “Here we go.”

“Get the three-to-six-months one. It’ll fit him longer.”

He decided on both the “I Crawl The Line” and the striped “Folsom Prison Blues” offerings. “If it’s a girl, she’s going to wear this with a little pink tutu and the motorcycle boots.”

“I can’t wait to see Dean’s face if you do that.”

Castiel laughed. “He’d be the one putting it on her.”

Chuck petted his fingers through Castiel’s hair. “I’m glad I did right by you, son. Dean is a good mate for you.”

If there was one thing Castiel knew for sure, he knew his father was right. “He’s a good wolf, Dad. Loyal, dependable, protective, kind. Sometimes he gets into an Alpha Male funk, like he has been these last couple of days, but it’s just because he cares so much, and he feels powerless to do anything about it, so he overdoes what he can.”

“I have to say that as your father, I appreciate seeing him hovering over you. I know it must feel suffocating, but it’s good to know he takes care of you.”

Castiel placed one hand over Beckett and smiled to himself. “I do feel rather suffocated at times, it’s true, but then I think of everything he’s given me by way of freedom…the car, the school, he’s encouraging me to get counseling…how many werewolves can say that their mate, Alpha, Beta, Theta, have done that for them? And I’m not even bringing the fact that I’m an Omega into it.”

Around that time, the object of their conversation came home, brandishing a plush pillow in the shape of an owl. It was a gender-neutral light brown with chartreuse wings and big orange button eyes. “Look at this, sweetheart!” Dean said excitedly. “They have an entire bedding set to match it, too! I mean, you know, if you like it?”

Castiel took the pillow and hugged it. It was squishy and the material was soft against his face. “I love it,” he said. “And you managed to deliver it without making any hooter jokes, which frankly is a small miracle in itself.”

Dean popped the collar on his jacket. “Don’t worry, I thought of about a million on the way home. Are you ready?”

“He’s ready for you to shut up,” Gabriel said as he elbowed his way close, handing over his find—a baby bathtub shaped like a turtle. The pup’s head would be cradled against the turtle’s head as it was propped up on the turtle’s back. The arms and legs held soap, shampoo, lotion, and cloths. “Make sure Becky knows that’s from Uncle Gabby.”

Lucifer shoved him out of the way. “Yes, please be sure our Becky knows that’s from Uncle Gabby, but he won’t care once he sees this little beauty.” Dean removed the laptop from between Castiel and Chuck and took its place so he could watch the proceedings. Castiel tentatively took a “Babies R Us” bag from Lucifer and looked inside. The size and weight of the thing put him off right away, but when he pulled the box from the bag, he gave a laugh. It was a plastic dinosaur that popped balls into the air from a container in its back, and also rolled them out of its mouth so the pup could pick them up and deposit them back into the popper. “Right?” Lucifer said. “Becky’s going to love playing with that.”

 

“You mean you’re going to love playing with that,” Balthazar teased.

Dean was mesmerized by the toy, taking the box and checking the specifics. “This is freakin’ awesome, Luce!”

Lucifer actually preened. Castiel rolled his eyes but smiled. “Becky is going to love all of his gifts.”

Sam then galloped into the den. “Wait, one more!” he then proceeded to put his hands under Gabriel’s arms, pick him up, and set him off to the side. “Here you go, bro.”

Dean took the package. “Sweet!” Inside was a red Kansas City Chief’s onesie.

“They had a pink one, too, but I figured even if Beck is a girl, she’ll wear the real colors with pride. No pretty princesses for us, right, Dean?”

Dean raised an eyebrow. Castiel knew for a fact that Dean had been checking out sparkly pink Converse and neon tutus during their one and only trip to Omega Maternity when Castiel had broken down and decided to purchase some Be-Bands owing to how tight his jeans had been getting in the belly area. Dean’s shirts were still huge on him, so he didn’t see the need to buy anything else from the store and hadn’t been back since. Maybe he should go again, though…after he found out the sex of the pup.

“Uh…sure, Sammy. She’ll be a real tomboy.”

Castiel laughed openly. “She’ll have plenty of princess in her, too, Dean. Don’t worry.”

“She’d better not be too pretty,” Dean grumbled.

“With you and Cas as her parents?” Gabriel scoffed. “You’d better just resign yourself to a life of horror, Deano. That girl will break some hearts.”

“But she’ll have us to protect her, right?” Lucifer pointed out.

Gabriel and Sam both nodded. Castiel just rolled his eyes. “If Beckett is a female, then she’ll be an Alpha by birth order. Do you really think any males are going to be stupid enough to try and hurt her?”

Dean pinched the bridge of his nose. “Can we stop talking about this? I’m feeling sick, and I was really planning on eating another piece of pie.”
~~~~
School resumed on Monday, and Castiel found himself in a whirlwind of preparing for final exams, finishing his essays, and Christmas shopping, so his friendship with Marc was put somewhat on the backburner.

Lucifer remained in Kansas, which was curious to Castiel. The only explanation his brother would give him was that he was working on a case in Lawrence, and that his Chief wanted him to stay where he was. Castiel wondered if it had more to do with Balthazar than any elusive “case,” but he kept his thoughts to himself. The two had not marked each other yet. In fact, they seemed to be going rather slowly, which Castiel found interesting. Lucifer tended to be very decisive, so he couldn’t imagine what his brother might be waiting for, and Balthazar…well, he tended to have needs that were met often, and the fact that he was waiting said something. Castiel wasn’t sure what it said, but he knew it had to be important.

~*~*~*~

When the semester was done, the biggest change Dean noticed in Castiel was how tired he was. Dean had never been to college, so all he could do was watch while Cas studied and wrote and worked. It seemed a lot like high school to him, and it made him glad he decided to never go. But he was so proud of his mate for doing it, particularly since he clearly enjoyed it so much, however much it might fatigue him.

The second week home, Castiel started sleeping less and interacting more, and he actually seemed to be getting some of that pregnancy energy Dean had heard so much about. They had a doctor appointment to mark the passing of his first trimester, but the second sonogram was just as disappointing as the first. Maybe even more so since little Beckett kept its back to them the entire time. They did get a pretty great view of his spinal cord, though, and at least that looked healthy.

Pam was her usual flirtatious self during the appointment, but Dean had to admit that she seemed to understand male Omega pregnancy. She was kind to Castiel, much kinder than either of them had really been expecting her to be, and she advocated for his health. Dean didn’t ask, but he had a feeling she might have an Omega in her family.

The week before Christmas, Dean managed to get Cas out to the mall for some shopping. They started out by looking at things for their fathers (Dean wasn’t sure why he needed to buy something other than Johnny Walker, Jim Beam, and Jack Daniels for his dad, they were his best friends, after all, but Castiel was insistent), and then for Sam and the other brothers and Anna.

Dean sort of felt that, since he had only one brother and Castiel had three, he shouldn’t have to think too hard. But Castiel wanted his opinion on everything.

“What about this tie for Michael? It’ll look great with his eyes.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Cas, I’m the last one you should be asking about that.” At Castiel’s sour expression, he pulled his mate close and kissed him. “I only care about what goes with your eyes.”

“Well, do you think this tie would go well with my eyes?”

Dean shrugged. “Yeah, sure. You’d look great in it. I’d love to tie you up with it.” He gave Castiel’s waist a squeeze to emphasize that.

“Good, because Michael and I have the same eyes, so if it would look well on me, it’ll look well on him.”

Dean sighed and stepped away from Castiel. It looked like his fantasy of sex in the dressing room wasn’t going to come true any time soon.

Castiel placed the tie along with some cufflinks off to the side and leaned up to give Dean a good, firm kiss. “Dean, let’s just finish with this, and then I promise we will act out one of your fantasies. Now what do you think we should get Sam?”

Dean sighed. “I think you should give his brother another kiss.”

Castiel complied. “Okay, now what do you think we should get Sam?”

“Oh, all right!” Dean said. “Okay, let’s do this. I want to get him a watch. A real watch. The kind that he can wear when he goes diving in the Galapagos Islands, and it won’t die on him.”

“And when will he be diving in the Galapagos Islands?”

“I don’t know. Whenever he wants to?”

They headed to a jewelry store after paying for Michael’s gifts and soon Dean was trying to choose between two watches.

“I like the Russian Diver,” Castiel shrugged.

“You would, you Russian you.”

“The Subaqua has eighteen-karat gold accents,” the saleslady said in what had to be an incredibly fake Ukrainian accent.

“Yeah, but you can see the little gears on the Russian Diver,” Dean reasoned. “Sammy likes all that Steampunk crap. He’d like this.”

The saleslady gave a sniff as though she found that reasoning to be beneath her. Dean hated snooty salesladies, so he kissed the back of Castiel’s neck as he leaned over the display case, getting an evil look from the woman.

In answer, Castiel picked up a TAG and held it up to Dean’s wrist. “I think you’d look very sexy in this one.”

“The blue face is the same color as your eyes,” Dean murmured. “Then I’d feel like I always have you watching me.”

“Zat vun is on sale for twelve hundred,” the woman challenged, as though she felt Dean in his frayed green overshirt, motorcycle boots and leather jacket couldn’t afford it.

If she knew how wealthy the Winchesters actually were, she’d probably be kissing his boots instead of sneering at them.

“Yeah?” Dean asked. “What do you think, Cas?”

“I don’t think you should get anything too cheap,” he answered, turning his nose up at the woman. “Besides, I think you’re more Rolex material, don’t you?”

As a challenge, the woman took out another TAG from the case. “This vun is vater resistant for up to a tousand feet. It is two tousand five hundred dollars. The case is stainless steel, and the vindow is made of sapphire.”

Dean took the watch. “That’s more what I’m talking about. What do you think, sweetheart? Is it big enough for Sam?” he turned to the woman. “My brother is freaking huge.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Taller than you?”

Both Castiel and Dean snorted at that. “By several inches,” Castiel affirmed. “I think it will look well on him, Dean.”

Dean nodded. “We’ll take it.”

The woman didn’t even crack a smile. “Shall I wrap it?”

When they left the store, Dean found himself in great need of a giant soft pretzel and a soda. As he turned to Cas, he found that his mate was sagging after all the shopping and haggling. He wasn’t surprised, the books all said that pregnancy was a huge drain on shifters. The power the body needed to maintain the pregnancy left gestating females and males a combination of ravenous and tired, and immunity was suppressed so that the body wouldn’t reject the fetus so there was always a chance for some sort of typical human infection for which a shifter had no natural defenses.

So far, Cas had been doing well, but Dean figured he looked a little under the weather.

“Let’s get a pick-me-up, kay, sweetheart?”

Castiel nodded, the dark circles under his eyes slightly more pronounced. Dean took his hand and led him to the food court, setting him at a table as he searched out for something good.

By the time Dean got back to the table with pretzels, packets of mustard, sodas, cookies, and a couple of sandwiches, it seemed that Castiel had made a friend.

“Dean, this is Rachel. She’s in a couple of my classes at college. And this is her baby, Esther.”

It wasn’t very well known that Dean had a soft spot for babies, but he did, and seeing a little blonde, chubby thing in Castiel’s arms was doing things to his insides.

“Hi,” Dean said. “Hi, Rachel.” He sat down next to Cas and held out his hand, taking the baby’s chubby little fist into his. “Hi, Esther.”

Wide blue eyes regarded him without guile, suspicion, or cynicism. He was lost.

“Castiel was just offering to babysit sometime,” Rachel mentioned.

“Oh, yeah,” Dean agreed. “Yeah, we’d love to.”

“Maybe I can return the favor some day.”

Dean looked up at that, and Rachel gave him a knowing smile. “I’m sure you can,” he said.

“Sometime” turned out to be that Friday night. Instead of hanging out at one of the nightclubs they ran security for, Castiel and Dean found themselves in their study, watching with rapture as little Esther blew raspberries at the dinosaur with the popping balls while propped up against Castiel’s legs. When she started nodding off, Dean heated a bottle and Castiel fed her and rocked her in one of the desk chairs.

“We can so do this, sweetheart,” Dean said with a smile. “The best dads ever!”

Castiel nodded. “Right?”

Then Esther woke up, startled at their voices, then realized she was with complete strangers and began wailing at the top of her lungs.

~*~*~*~

The entire store was a muted golden yellow with plush toys, rows of wee clothing, pregnant people, babies, and anything pertaining to babies.

John wanted to run.

Chuck didn’t look much better. In fact, the smaller wolf was looking around the store and jerking on his collar as though it was too tight.

“Do you have the list?” John asked.

“Yeah. Do you have yours?”

John pulled out a sheaf of printed papers, full of things that Dean wanted for the pup. Clothes and toys were fine, but the grandfathers were only interested in the baby’s room.

“Did Gabriel get you the line of credit you asked for?”

John nodded and patted at his wallet. “It’s at my disposal. Shall we begin?”

Chuck pointed towards the large middle area where the furniture was. They were looking for a dark wood crib and matching dresser that could double as a changing table. John had the number on his papers, so it shouldn’t have been a huge deal.

But of course, some perky young human girl had to approach them, all smiles and long dark hair done up in a pony tail. “Can I help you gentlemen find anything?”

“We’re um…we’re, we’re good,” Chuck stuttered.

John spotted the set that they wanted, and he started towards it, both Chuck and the girl in his wake.

“Is it your baby, or is it…”

“Grandpup,” John growled. “Both of ours.”

“Oh, that’s so great! So you’re werewolves, then?”

John figured the girl would be their companion, so he resigned himself to her. “Yes. We’ll have this one, and the matching dresser. You got that?”

The girl—Jennifer, her tag said—pulled out a pad of paper and scribbled a few things down. “Okay, that’s great. So you two are going to fix up the nursery for your kids?”

“Sweetheart, we’re doing an entire house for them,” John said. “Now come on, we need to get the bedding.”

“Oh, sir, if you’re going to do an entire nursery, then you’ll need a mattress as well.”

John turned to Jennifer and her bright, chipper smile. The little she-devil.

Several hours and hundreds of dollars later, John and Chuck loaded up their truck with enough boxes to build an entirely new house. And Jennifer, the little minx, was waving them off.

“She just made her rent for the next three months,” John grumbled as he put the truck into gear.

They had purchased the dresser and the bed, the changing cushion and the changing cushion cover. The bedding set, that seemed to not come with a crib bumper, so they had to get the crib bumper (apparently this was an absolute must and the idea of leaving without it positively scandalized Jennifer). There was also a mobile that Castiel had taken quite a liking to when he was making out the registry, and a number of other sundry items that, as Jennifer put it, “simply pulled the room together.”

“Okay, can we go and get the manly building materials now?” John asked.

“Oh…yeah. Grunt and all that,” Chuck said in his awkward way, a smile about his lips.

John laughed. Chuck just wasn’t that sort of wolf. Not that he wasn’t masculine, he simply wasn’t overt. Or, as Sam might put it, he wasn’t butch and overcompensatory. Then again, Sam often felt that Dean and John tried too hard to present an Alpha front.

They pulled in at the Home Depot, and John jumped out while Chuck grabbed one of the soft quilted wall hangings that had all the colors of the bedding on it. Now they were off for the very manly task of finding nursery colors. After that, they went back to the Winchester property and started setting up the nursery in the cottage that John had chosen for Castiel and Dean.

Many improvements had been made to it before they began decoration. A new shower had been installed, and the hardwood had been refinished. Light fixtures had been replaced, and all the wiring had been gone over to make sure everything would run smoothly. John wanted his grandpup to be brought up in grand style.

And if there were two other rooms in the cottage, then…well…they may need filling at some point as well, right? One could only hope.

It took them several six-packs of beer, an entire bottle of whiskey, a peck of sandwiches, and two days, but by the end of it, the nursery was so perfect that even Ellen nodded her approval. The upper walls were a creamy beige, the lower walls a light golden brown, and the chair rail and baseboard were a happy, muted, autumnal orange. The dark furniture was showed off exquisitely against such a neutral backdrop, and the sweet little woodland creatures that danced all around the room somehow managed to not be completely creepy.

There was a glider and footstool by the window, and a bookcase close by full of all the classics from both Dean and Castiel’s childhood. There were also other items that both John and Chuck had saved to pass on to their grandpups. Castiel’s old Snoopy plushie, Dean’s soft woven blankie. A pair of booties sitting on a shelf with a picture of Dean and Castiel holding each other and smiling. All the room needed was Beckett to make it complete.

John draped an arm around Chuck’s shoulder, making the younger man slump a little under his larger weight. “Whaddaya think, Chuck?”

Chuck nodded. “It’s great, John. They’re going to love it.”

Christmas was in three days, and they couldn’t wait to reveal the cottage to their sons.

Chapter Text

Christmas morning dawned bright and clear, glancing over the stale snowfall from two days earlier and lighting up the back forty. The trees were holding the icy snow aloft in their naked arms, still pristine and white compared to the dirty leftovers on the ground. Dean wished it would snow again and blanket their world in a thicker coat that couldn’t be sullied so easily. He wanted his first Christmas with Castiel to be so perfect that even Danny Kaye would have approved.

He heard the sheets rustle, and he turned from the window and watched as Castiel stretched onto his side, his back arching as he reached his arms up under the pillow, the sheet sliding down to show the slightly rounded swell of his belly just between his hip bones where little Beckett was residing. Dean moved to the bed, his lips drawn like a magnet to that slight protrusion. He swirled his finger around Castiel’s belly button before flattening his palm over the bump, smoothing it around his skin, wishing he could feel his pup as it moved and grew.

Castiel pushed his hand through Dean’s hair, letting his nails scrape at the scalp, bringing Dean’s face closer to his tummy. “I think he likes that,” Castiel murmured sleepily, his voice even thicker and rougher first thing in the morning.

Dean looked up. “Can you feel him? Inside?”

Castiel nodded. “I think it’s him. Either that or it’s gas. Sort of hard to tell the difference sometimes.” Dean turned his cheek and nuzzled it against the bump, making Castiel laugh and pull his hair. “That scratches, assbutt.”

“Just giving Becky a cactus kiss.”

Dean nuzzled his way up Castiel’s body, then kissed his lips. “Merry Christmas, sweetheart.”

Castiel smiled. “Merry Christmas, lover.”

Dean smiled back. “I think I like that better than assbutt.”

“I don’t. I think assbutt is far more appropriate for you, but it’s Christmas, so I’m being kind.”

Dean decided to kiss the smile off his mate’s face. Or, that was the excuse he made, not that he needed one. Castiel was more than compliant with the kissing part, though Dean wasn’t so successful in removing the smile. Then again, he decide he didn’t want to. He raised himself on his elbow, moving up a little so that Castiel had to cant his head back, elongating his neck in the way that Dean liked so much. He put his hand on that long, pale expanse, feeling his mate’s pulse, the smooth skin and rough stubble, tracing a finger down from the ear until little goosepimples raised in his wake. He kissed and licked the path his finger had traveled, letting his hand move down Castiel’s bicep, squeezing the muscle just slightly, tickling down his ribs, then hooking his whole arm around Castiel’s waist and rolled until his mate was on top.

Castiel sat upright, his eyes half-closed as he looked down at Dean. “So what did you get me?”

Dean moved his hips upward, his hard member caressing Castiel’s cleft. “Want me to wrap it up for you?”

“I wouldn’t mind a ribbon on it.”

“You can put your ribbon on it, baby.”

Castiel laughed. “Was that supposed to be an innuendo?”

“Um…probably? Did it work?”

Castiel leaned down and kissed him. “No, but it’ll do.”

Dean rolled them back over, lifting one of Castiel’s legs into the crook of his forearm and sinking home. Castiel groaned as he wrapped his other leg around Dean’s waist, gripping his biceps as Dean pressed deeper.

“So fucking good, sweetheart,” Dean moaned as he was enveloped in Castiel’s tight, wet heat.

“Mmm…love you…love your knot,” Cas answered. “So big.”

Dean sucked the sweet thickness of Castiel’s lower lip into his mouth, loving the way it felt against his lips, against his tongue, the way his teeth sunk into it.

He felt Castiel’s moan deep in his chest where they were touching each other.

“I love you, Cas. Goddamn, love you so much, sweetheart…” he sped up his thrusts, enjoying the friction of Castiel’s body against his. He wished he could be inside him forever, just feel that slick closeness surrounding him, the sweet solidity of Castiel’s body in his arms. “I’m never gonna let you go.”

Castiel slid his hands up into Dean’s hair, directing his head and lips to slide over his face, nuzzling his cheeks, his hair, his neck. “Don’t, Dean. Please don’t ever stop loving me.”

Dean kissed everywhere that Castiel moved his lips. “Never,” he promised. “Never.”

Later, they lay together, quiet in the afterglow, tangling their fingers together, enjoying the closeness.

“How was your Christmas present?” Dean finally asked.

Castiel laughed. “It was great. Thank you, Dean. I’ll treasure it always.”

Dean moved Cas off of him and reached across him to the bedside table. Inside the drawer was a small velvet box with a red ribbon tied around it. “Well, I got this one just in case you didn’t like the first one, but I guess you can have it anyway.”

He leaned back against the headboard and Castiel turned into him, taking the box from his hand.

“Earrings? Or maybe one of those Pandora bracelets with all the charms?”

Dean snorted. “Jeez…just open it, asshole.”

Castiel complied, giving a little hum of surprise when he found two gold bands inside. “Rings?”

“I want to make sure everyone knows we belong with each other.”

Dean watched Castiel’s face as he read the inscriptions. They were very simple. One said “Dean’s” and the other said “Castiel’s.”

“I love them, Dean. Really.”

They barely had a chance for one last kiss before someone started pounding on their door. “Hey, you two just going to stay in bed all day?” John called. “Come on, Castiel’s whole family is here and the Thetas are about to open all your gifts!”

“Coming, Dad!” Dean rolled his eyes in the direction of the door, and grabbed the ring that had his name on it. “Give me your hand, sweetheart.”

Castiel complied, and Dean lovingly marked him as his with a ring. It was such a conventional, human thing to do, but he wanted to do it. He wanted everyone to know that he and Castiel belonged to each other.

The ring looked beautiful on his hand.

Dean held out his hand for Castiel, and Castiel slipped his ring on his finger. “I love it,” Cas murmured. “You’re mine now, Dean.”

Dean smiled. “I’ve always been yours, sweetheart.”

“NOW!” John shouted.

~*~*~*~

This was it. The moment that John and Chuck had been waiting for. The gifts had all been opened, Charlie was attempting to get a tabletop game together, Sam and Gabriel were deep in conversation by the fire, Castiel and Dean were laughing with Ellen about something, and Lucifer and Balthazar were completely wrapped up in each other. They had obviously just claimed each other, and the rest of the pack were attempting to ignore the new lovebirds.

John didn’t want to think about what losing Balthazar was going to do for the pack. In a lot of ways, Balthazar was a shot of glue in the group. Who would fulfill his role when he went off with Lucifer.

John cleared his throat, bringing the attention in the room to him. “I have one last gift,” he said. “Chuck and I both do.”

Chuck smiled. “It’s for Beckett.”

Dean and Castiel exchanged a look, expectant and excited. “Really?” Dean asked. “Okay, that’s great! Where is it?”

John motioned to the back door. “Outside.”

Dean jumped up, pulling Castiel with him. “Sweet! The last gift I had that was outside was the Impala for my sixteenth birthday. This is going to be even better.”

John smiled and wrapped his arm around his son. “Yes. Now let’s go.”

There was a procession out to the cottage. It was one of the two-story ones with a small three-step porch. It had once belonged to John and Mary when they were first mated, which was one of the reasons John had chosen it for Dean. It was also the cottage furthest away from Rufus’s , which meant that the older Beta wouldn’t be complaining about the pup wailing at night, and he wouldn’t be able to bully Dean and Castiel into doing everything for him. It was also very close to Ellen and Jo’s cottage, and John knew that those two would be big helps, but not overly nosy and pushy.

“I’m so excited!” Jo squealed behind them.

Dean and Castiel were staring at the cottage, their arms wrapped around each other. “Really, Dad?” Dean asked, his eyes wide and his smile happy.

John opened the door and motioned them inside. He smiled to himself when the mates saw how empty the place was.

“Uh…thanks Dad?”

John laughed. “Go upstairs, turn to the left.”

They complied, moving to the nursery. “John, Dad…this is incredible!” Castiel said, turning around in the room.

“It’s beautiful,” Dean agreed. “Too bad there’s no furniture in the rest of the house.”

John shrugged, smiling. “You have furniture in your rooms. You can move it in here and fill it up the rest of the way in your own time.” Then he frowned. “Um…but I’ll help. I want you to feel…”

Dean clapped him on the shoulder. “It’s great, Dad. It’s fantastic. We have plenty of time to move in.”

“Just move in quick, eh, Deano?” Gabriel said, his lips twisting. “You guys have been getting really loud lately.”

Dean rolled his eyes. “Yeah, and you don’t have your eye on our rooms or anything.”

Gabriel shrugged. “They are the best rooms in the house, not that it matters.”

John rolled his eyes with a smile. “Then I suppose you’ll be happy to help your brother move into this house more than anyone else.”

Gabriel gave John a bright smile. “Of course.”

Castiel laughed at that. “Out-tricked finally, Gabe?”

Gabriel shrugged. “He’s right, though. The sooner I get you two out of those rooms, the sooner I can move into them.”

This was met with a great deal of mirth, but a good deal of Christmas day ended up being taken up with moving Dean and Castiel into the new cottage. The consequence of this was that Christmas night, when Castiel and Dean left the great house, John felt as though their absence from the house left a huge void. It was an absurd feeling, but John couldn’t quash it. He suddenly knew how Chuck must feel, with all of his sons leaving him for other packs. And his son was only leaving him for a house outside.

~*~*~*~

There seemed to be some unspoken rule amongst Dean and the Thetas that Castiel wouldn’t be allowed to move anything by himself. After his tenth attempt to carry something from his bedroom to the new house was met with an angry pack member who took the item from him (it was just a lamp, for crying out loud), Castiel all but locked himself in the nursery, looking around at all his father and John had done.

His hands glided over the wood of the crib, feeling how warm and solid it was. He had chosen it, of course, but he was still amazed at how beautiful it was, and the fact that his father had actually gone out of his way to buy it for the pup.

It had a sleigh-style to it, just like the bed he shared with Dean. He liked the idea of Beckett having a bed like theirs. The quilt was the one that went with the plush owl Dean had bought the day after Thanksgiving. It had a tree with a fox and a bear, an actual toad on a little white-speckled red toadstool, and a hedgehog and a turtle. Sure, it would be just slightly masculine if Beckett ended up being a female, but Castiel didn’t think any of the over-the-top pink creations he had seen would suit as well as this gender-neutral scheme.

The chair by the window was a surprise. He hadn’t thought about anything like that, but of course his father and John had since they both knew what would be needed. It looked like a normal arm chair, but when he sat in it, he was pleasantly surprised at the way it rocked gently. He put his hand on his belly and smiled as the weak winter sunlight slanted through the paneled windows and warmed the back of his neck. In his belly, Beckett made butterfly wings flutter against his insides. He had a mental image of a tiny bumblebee buzzing around, here and there.

His phone beeped, and he pulled it out of his pocket, pleasantly surprised to find a message from Marc in his texts.

Happy Christmas, my friend. Will I be seeing you this coming semester? I have signed up for organic chemistry, American History I, and yoga. Being Indian, I fully expect to fail yoga ;-)

Castiel smiled.

Merry Christmas to you too! I’m taking organic chem as well! Who is your professor? I have Dr. DeAnda because I hear the other one is very strict. I lead the Thetas in yoga every morning if you ever want to stop by and limber up. You have six more weeks until classes resume.

Yes, I have DeAnda also! You are too good to me, Castiel. I may take you up on your offer. I will leave you to your celebrations!

“What are you smiling about?”

Castiel looked up to find Dean in the doorway. He was a little sweaty and there was dirt on his forehead and Castiel just wanted to shove his tongue down his throat. Pregnancy hormones and all that.

“It’s just Marc. He wished me a merry Christmas.”

Dean nodded. “I see. Should I start getting jealous?” he teased.

Castiel snorted in an undignified way. “Yeah, two Omegas together. That’d work. We’d both be waiting for the other one to make the first move.”

Dean came fully into the room and knelt before Castiel. “So…you’re waiting for me to make the first move, then?”

“Sometimes I don’t wait.”

“I like those times,” Dean said, then pulled Castiel out of the chair. “C’mere, I’m going to make something up to you right now.”

Castiel frowned at him. “What do you need to—Dean!”

Dean scooped Castiel into his arms and started walking towards the master bedroom. “I should have carried you over the threshold earlier. Can’t redo that, so I’ll do the next best thing and carry you over the bedroom threshold.”

Castiel rolled his eyes, but smiled. It really was the little things. “You’re such a dork.”

“Yeah, but you love me.”

“I try. You make it rather difficult at times.”

Dean slid on top of him, cradling his head with one hand, holding him at the waist with the other. Their legs tangled together, and Castiel hooked one around Dean’s thigh. Their kiss was soft, warm. Dean tasted like pie, no surprise considering how much he ate at dinner.

Castiel loved being like this with Dean. Kissing him, feeling his breath, his hands, his body. He was so solid and warm and strong. Castiel melted under his touch, enjoying his calloused fingers as they ghosted over his flesh, pulling up his shirt, caressing his nipples, setting every inch on fire. He opened his mouth, inviting Dean’s tongue inside, threading his fingers through Dean’s hair, wanting more, wanting him inside, moving, more.

“Dean, please!”

Dean kissed his way down Castiel’s naked chest, his hands pulling at the soft cotton band that held his jeans in place, his fingers tickling at his hip bones.

“I love you, sweetheart.”

Castiel looked down, not sure if Dean was talking to Beckett or him, but Dean was looking back, his green eyes glowing in the golden lamplight. “I love you too.”

Dean reached up and caressed Castiel’s face before stripping his jeans and boxers off, his eyes hungry as they fell on his cock. Castiel gasped when Dean’s mouth surrounded it, loving the feel of his tongue as it slid down the underside, broad and rough. He sucked and licked and kissed, then he brought his hands into the mix, one sliding up his chest, exploring over his stomach, ribs, his breasts and nipples that were currently so very sensitive to the touch. The other hand went lower, delving inside, touching and thrusting, getting Castiel ready for him.

This was going to be a long night, and Castiel shivered with the anticipation of it.

“Dean, please,” he said again, taking Dean’s hand and tugging. “I want you now.”

Dean stood and dropped his pants to the ground, and Castiel sat up, admiring his mate’s muscles. As an Alpha, Dean was naturally thicker than Castiel, his shoulders broader and round with definition. He wasn’t overly bulky like some could be, all of his muscles were lean and clean, but he was powerful. And his knot-so long and thick and glorious-jutted out with vulgar abandon. Castiel reached for Dean, encouraging him to straddle his chest and let him taste it.

“So good, sweetheart,” Dean crooned. “Fucking love that smart mouth on me…yeah…so good…suck it down.”

 

Castiel looked up, tightening his grip on Dean’s hips, loving the way his mate looked down at him, the way he caressed his hair as Castiel took all that he could into his mouth. Dean would never force him to take more, but he sometimes wished he would. He could imagine what it might be like if Dean ever grabbed his hair hard and forced himself down Castiel’s throat. He wished he could think of how to ask Dean to do that, but until he could, he would force himself to take it all, as hard as he could.

“You’re gonna fucking kill me, Cas…ahh…that’s right…”

Castiel purred against Dean’s silky length, turning his head this way and that so that he could run his tongue over all of it, gripping his hips tighter, loving the feel of Dean’s slight flex as he thrust just a bit into his mouth. Castiel hummed his approval.

“Like that? Like when I give it to you?” Dean gripped his hair a little tighter, but still stayed gentle. “Okay, that’s enough. I want you so bad.”

Castiel pulled off, licked his lips, and looked up at Dean, expectant. Dean just continued to stare down at him, his hand still in his hair, his green eyes glowing.

“You’re so beautiful to me,” Dean whispered. He touched his cheek. “So gorgeous.”

Castiel smiled. “You are too.”

Dean moved away, bringing their bodies back together. Castiel opened his legs, anticipating Dean’s knot inside of him. He wanted it so badly, but Dean seemed determined to tease him, rubbing the head around the opening, swirling the tip just inside and then pulling away.

“Fuck me already you bastard,” Castiel groaned when for the third time, Dean pulled away.

Dean just laughed. “Patience.”

“I don’t have patience with you. I want you.”

Dean leaned down and kissed him, sinking in just a bit, but slowly, his tongue matching his knot as he slid it in ever so slightly, gently, just licking at his lips the slightest bit. Castiel bit down on his tongue. “Hey, no fair!”

Castiel canted his hips upward, getting a little more of Dean. “I have to fight dirty with you.”

Dean sank in further, then pulled out, his slow entrance making Castiel’s blood boil. He could feel the heat between his legs, the size and length of Dean as he thrust, gently, long strokes that only fanned the flames hotter, made him want more. He slid his palms down Dean’s back and squeezed his ass, urging him to go deeper, harder. Dean moaned in response and complied, flexing his hips into Castiel’s, filling him to fullness, until the heat was so much, he was sure he would die of it.

The heat, the pressure, that fine line between pain and pleasure, Castiel felt himself spiral out of control until he came, hot and wet between them, crying out, feeling Dean’s release inside. Dean collapsed on top of him for the briefest moment before rolling off, his hand on Castiel’s belly.

“Sorry, babe, forgot about the pup,” he murmured, still out of breath and sweaty.

Castiel smiled, grabbing a Kleenex and wiping himself off. “We’re fine. You can’t hurt it, you know.”

Dean pulled Castiel into his side. “I’m tired, sweetheart.”

“You’ve been working hard all day and wouldn’t let me help. I don’t feel sorry for you.”

Dean snorted. “Shut up and go to sleep.”

Castiel complied.

Chapter Text

Classes began again, and Castiel got yelled at by Pam about his weight at his five month appointment.

“You’re too skinny!” she admonished. “I want you to put on ten pounds before your next appointment.”

Castiel looked at Dean for help, but his mate just shrugged. “Don’t give me that look. She tells you to gain weight, you gain weight.”

Pam smiled. “Looks like Gorgeous knows what’s good for you, Blue Eyes.”

Castiel gave Pam his best bitchface, but she and Dean only laughed at him.

“Sorry, boys, but your cub still has its back to us. No telling if it’s a boy or a girl yet. But…no biggie, right? I mean, you don’t really care, do you?”

They looked at each other and shrugged. “No,” Castiel agreed. “We don’t care.”

“Good, because it looks like it’s going to be another month.”

The mates shrugged again and Pam handed Castiel a wipe to get all the goo off his belly.

Pam started to leave, but couldn’t help calling, “Gain some weight!” over her shoulder as she closed the door.

Castiel sighed and pulled on his jeans. “Where am I supposed to gain it?” he groused. “I can’t help it if I’m thin.”

Dean grabbed him and kissed him. “I guess I need to fatten you up now. Get you some pie.”

“Yeah, the pie has nothing to do with what you want.”

Dean shrugged and patted his bony ass. “Come on, burgers and pie at the diner down the road.”

Castiel followed behind him, rolling his eyes, but smiling. He knew he was actually losing weight with the pregnancy, a tendency his mother apparently also had. He’d do anything he needed to do to keep himself healthy, so cheeseburgers and pie it was, as long as his blood pressure remained normal.

~*~*~*~

“Come, come, darling, you must eat,” Balthazar urged. Lucifer smiled as he spied from behind the hospital door. Nick was doing better, but he was still quite ill. The drugs were out of his system, but the want of them was still there.

“Please, I can’t, Mr. Bal. I’ll throw it up.”

Balthazar set the plate of fruit aside with a sigh. “You’re still so weak, m’lad. We need you healthy.”

“Why? Crowley’s just going to kill me.”

Lucifer frowned. He hated that Nick thought that.

“Don’t be so defeatist, Nick,” Balthazar said, patting his shoulder. “Lucifer and I are going to keep you safe. I promise.”

“How’s it going in here?” Lucifer asked, opening the door.

Balthazar’s bright smile belied the severity of the situation. “We’re just trying to get some fruit down, love.”

“Oh, hey, mazel tov on the whole mating thing,” Nick said, saluting with his big mug of water.

Lucifer smiled. “Thanks, Nick.” He took the plate of fruit and started cutting up the cantaloupe. “Look, I’ve got an idea, Nick. I need to go back to Boston soon, and I’ve been thinking that we can get you into a safe house there. All we are going to need from you is information about Crowley.”

Nick was clearly unhappy about that arrangement. “Oh, hell no, man!”

“Nick, I have kept you safe here since Thanksgiving, which isn’t as easy as it sounds, believe you me. In Boston, I can get you a new identity, a job, and you can live with Bal and me until you get back on your feet.”

“I know you mean what you say, Mr. Lucifer…I just…”

“Look,” Lucifer said, holding up a piece of fruit, “you think Crowley is going to kill you anyway. You help us out, at least you’re dying for something. And if you manage to live through it? And kick this drug habit? Think of everything you’re going to gain in your life.”

Nick took the piece of fruit and chewed it, not swallowing, just chewing.

“Look, lad, you can swallow.”

Nick shook his head at Balthazar, fear etched on his face.

Lucifer put a comforting hand on Nick’s leg. “How many times have you thrown up today, Nick?”

Nick held up three fingers.

Lucifer and Balthazar both sighed as Balthazar pulled out a bed pan for Nick to spit his masticated fruit into.

“Look, Nick, we just need to know some things. If the sheriff’s office can bring him down, then you won’t have to worry about him at all.”

Nick’s face turned haunted. “You don’t understand, Mr. Lucifer. Crowley doesn’t just have Thetas under him. He has slaves. He brainwashes us. If he were to come here, I don’t even know if I could resist him. He…he…”

Lucifer stood up and wrapped an arm around him as he began to cry. “It’s okay, Nick. It’s okay. I won’t let him near you.”

“You can’t stop him,” Nick said brokenly. “You can’t stop him.”

Lucifer and Balthazar shared a look, both completely unsure of how to reassure Nick. He was so hopeless, and while he said he had faith in them, he didn’t seem able to make his heart follow his head. He was still so shy, and it didn’t help that Lucifer could smell Crowley and his minions sniffing around the hospital. They really had to get him out of there, but he just didn’t seem emotionally ready to leave.

Lucifer motioned for Balthazar to follow him outside.

“Babe, we’ve got to get him out of here.”

“Do you know of a house we can take him to here in Kansas?”

Lucifer nodded. “I just don’t know if we can keep him sober on our own, but we could try.”

Balthazar considered this. “Well, it shouldn’t be any different than keeping him here. Or you could always go back to Boston without me and take Nick with you.”

Lucifer pulled Balthazar to him and kissed him. “I don’t want to go home without you.”

“I know, darling, but you just might have to.”

Lucifer shook his head. “No, I’m not leaving Cassie like this. I wouldn’t feel right. And I’m not leaving without you.”

“He’s got an entire Sheriff’s department, his father, a brother, a mate who defines the term “Alpha Male,” and the whole pack. You can go, Lu. He won’t think worse of you. I won’t either. You could lose your place in your pack, and I don’t think anyone wants that.”

“No, that’s not going to happen. I have served my pack loyally for seven years; they aren’t going to just get rid of me for taking all of my vacation time at once. It happens. Family is more important than anything.”

“Gods, you’re so stubborn,” Balthazar pouted. “But you are awfully sexy when you’re stubborn.”

Lucifer leaned in for another kiss. “It’s a wonder I get any work done with you around.”

“I expect that’s why you keep me in hospital babysitting all day.”

“You know you’re not babysitting,” Lucifer said, unsure as to whether or not Balthazar felt okay about all of this. “You’re really important to me, to this…Gabe and Sam and I trust you more than the others. Only Ellen and you know.”

“It’s all right, love. I know,” Balthazar said, his hands warm on Lucifer’s biceps. “I don’t mind. I quite like Nick. He’s sort of like our wayward younger brother that we must save from himself.”

Lucifer smiled because he sort of felt that way about Nick as well. It was like they were adopting him or something. “I’m glad you like him, because he could be with us for a long time.”

Balthazar looked in on Nick and smiled. “As long as we’re together, love.”

~*~*~*~

“So, I hand her the jumper cables, and I tell her to hook them to her battery. She looks down at her closed hood, then back at me and says no. I say, Anna, sis, pop the hood, and she looks back at the car and says, no.”

Sam laughed. “She didn’t even know how to pop the hood?”

Gabriel shook his head. “No clue. So, I go and I find the lever for the hood and pop it, then I find the latch and open it up and I start trying to show her how to do all of this and she actually says, “I just don’t care.”” Gabriel lifted his hands. “Just didn’t care.”

“But if she doesn’t learn, how will she know what to do next time?”

“Oh my gosh, don’t even say that to her. Apparently saying that to her is just being mean and missing the entire point.”

Sam laughed, clapping his hands lightly. “Oh, man…and I thought Dean was bad! He won’t accept a jump from foreign cars because he’s convinced that they have the wrong kind of juice.”

Gabriel laughed, shaking his head. “Well, I had no idea that Anna was so clueless about cars. I guess she’s just used to all of us taking care of her.”

Dean poked his head in the office then, and Gabriel smiled. “Hey, Dean, if Becky’s a girl, are we going to teach her about cars?”

Dean made a “pffft” noise as he blew air through his lips. “Are you kidding? I’m going to restore a classic car with her for her sixteenth birthday.”

Gabriel held up his fist for a bump. “Awesome.”

Dean complied with the bumping. “Hey, have you seen Cas?”

“Oh, yeah, that friend of his, Marc, asked for a ride to school, so Cassie headed out early.”

“Oh, yeah, that friend of his, Marc, asked for a ride to school, so Cassie probably took him home.”

Dean nodded. “I got a text, but I just figured he’d be home by now. I mean, school was out an hour ago...”

“Uh oh,” Sam sing-songed. “Twubbwe in pawadise?”

Gabriel didn’t know why his brain decided right then to notice how adorable Sam was. He really was.

“Oh, shut up you bitch.”

Sam gave Dean his brightest smiled. “Jerk.”

“Whatever. Okay, good to know where he is.” Dean turned to leave. “And for the record? I’m ecstatic that he has friends. Yeah. Ecstatic.”

“Oh, I’m not surprised that you’re ecstatic,” Sam said, his lower lip pouting just a little. “I’m more amazed that you even know what the word means.”

Dean shook his head, trying to look annoyed but his affection for his brother was warring with that annoyance. “Okay, I’m going back to my office to stop looking for my mate since he’s out with his new girlfriend, braiding his hair or whatever. Hey…have either of you met Marc?”

Gabriel and Sam exchanged a look. “I haven’t,” Gabriel said.

“Me either,” Sam said. “Um…Lucifer checked him out, right?”

“I’m sure he did,” Gabriel nodded slowly. “I mean, someone checked him out, right?”

Dean laughed, shaking his head. “You know what? I can’t obsess over this Crowley thing. I’m sure Marcus is a fine wolf. I just, I dunno. I guess I thought I would have met him by now.”

Gabriel suppressed a laugh. “Have you turned on his GPS yet?”

“I didn’t want to be too possessive.”

Both Sam and Gabriel laughed while looking at each other, their thoughts clearly in sync.

“He’s having fun with a friend, Dean,” Sam cajoled. “A male Omega friend. Think about how much that must mean to him.”

Gabriel could tell by the look on Dean’s face that Dean knew exactly how much that might mean to Cas, but he was still jealous.

“I know how much it means to him,” Dean said quietly. “But that doesn’t mean that I’m not worried about him.”

Gabriel gave Dean his best smirk. “I’m sure he’s fine.”

Dean turned and left, and then Sam turned to Gabriel. “Wait, you don’t think he’s fine, do you?”

Gabriel tilted his head in uncertainty. “Class was out a half hour ago. Dean hasn’t heard from Lover Boy? That’s not like Cas.”

“So what do you want to do?” Sam asked.

“Well, I want to not upset Dean because I’m sure Cassie is fine. I’m sure he’s just out with his friend, losing track of time, talking about their periods and overbearing Alpha mates, but…”

Sam stood up and leaned over Gabriel. “What do you want to do?”

“I want to call Lucifer.”

“So we call Lucifer,” Sam said. “Simple as that.”

Lucifer was supportive on the phone. “Look, I’m with Nick, but I’ll leave him with Bal. Do you know where this Omega lives? You and Sam start patrolling. Take Ellen. Don’t upset Dean, I don’t want to start a war if they’re just at a coffee shop kibitzing.”

“Okay. Thanks for not telling me I’m an idiot, Lu.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Thanks, bro.”

“I try my best. Go find our brother.”

 

~*~*~*~

Dean tried very hard to not be the kind of overbearing, overprotective mate that so many Alphas ended up being. Really, it was a struggle. Every time Castiel walked out the door, he wanted to go with him or send another member of the pack to keep him safe. Now that Cas was pregnant, the need was even stronger. The thought of Cas being in the college all day where anything could happen just about made him crazy, but Dean reminded himself at every turn that Castiel was a big wolf and could take care of himself.

However, his day at the college was over at three, and it was currently six-thirty, and Dean was understandably starting to panic. The last message he had from him said simply, Driving Marc home  with no other message about staying at Marc’s house for dinner, studying, or playing Barbies.

At five o’clock, Dean had sent a simple coming home anytime soon, sweetheart? text, trying to be cool, hoping his mate had just gotten distracted by the harmonious friendship of a fellow male Omega. At the half hour mark, Dean had started to feel the stirrings of fear in the pit of his stomach, but tried to rationalize that maybe Cas and Marc had started watching a movie and Cas just hadn’t thought to look at his phone or tell Dean what he was doing. This was, of course, completely contrary to Castiel’s personality, but then again, Dean was doing everything possible to not come across as That Alpha.

At six o’clock, Dean dialed Chuck’s number but hung up before it ever started ringing. Now at six-thirty, he was ready to fall into a full blown panic.

He dialed. “Chuck? It’s Dean. Have you heard from Cas?

Chapter Text

Castiel awoke in darkness, unable to move. He figured Dean was laying on top of him, and he tried to ask his mate to move, but found that his mouth wasn’t responding to his brain. In fact, he felt…odd. Drugged. It was the strangest feeling, as though he were moving while laying still, disconnected from his body by only a few seconds.

He had picked up Marc for school, and then Marc had asked for a ride home. He had invited Castiel in for a drink, and to meet his mate. Castiel had just walked into the house, not realizing until it was too late that he had blindly walked into a trap. Marc’s professions of being “so very sorry” didn’t make up for the fact that Castiel was staring at Crowley, who was smirking evilly, and being surrounded by Thetas, one of whom jabbed a needle in his neck, making everything turn fuzzy before turning completely black.

The room he was currently in felt like a basement or a warehouse, not snug and homey. He gave a little sniff to the air and detected something slightly damp, which confirmed that he wasn’t in a bedroom, though he was laying on a bed. And the sound of the room seemed…hollow…

“He is waking up,” Marc said. Not Marc, not anymore. He’d heard the name. Ajay. His friend, the one he’d worked so hard to win, was a stooge of Crowley’s and had actually delivered him to the enemy.

“Excellent, my dear boy. Wakey wakey, Castiel,” Crowley said in his low growl. “Do come and let me see those gorgeous eyes of yours, darling.”

Castiel wanted to scream, to cry, to throw up, all at once. No. No, not this. Anything but this.

“Don’t be so tiresome, love,” Crowley said, his hand caressing Castiel’s cheek. Castiel realized he must have said the words out loud. “You will come to love me more than you ever loved Dean.”

“Never.” Castiel finally opened his eyes and found Crowley’s smirking face staring down at him.

“Don’t be so sure.”

Crowley moved to the side, and Castiel found himself faced with Ajay/Marc/whatever he was calling himself.

“Ajay, you will take care of Castiel while I am training him.”

“Yes, Master,” Ajay agreed.

“Good. Keep him tied up, but wash and feed him. We can’t have him running away now, can we?”

Castiel noted the flicker in Ajay’s eyes. “No, of course not, Master.”

When Crowley left, Castiel turned to Ajay. “Please, Ajay, let me go. Let me go to my mate.”

Ajay shook his head. “The Master will have you, Castiel. I am sorry. He…he loves you.”

Castiel strained against the bonds at his wrists. He was still groggy, still drugged and unsure of where he was, but he knew for sure that he didn’t want Crowley touching him. “But I don’t love him, Ajay. I love Dean, my mate, and I don’t want Crowley. Surely you understand that? Tell me you understand what that means.”

Ajay looked away. “I understand what you say, Castiel. But Master is determined to have you, and I wish to give Master what he wants.”

Castiel gulped down his revulsion. “But...you don’t want me to be with him, do you, Ajay? You love him, right? If you let me go, then he won’t have me at all, it will still just be you.”

“I love my master, yes,” Ajay said. He was clearly at war with himself. “I…I wish for him to be happy. You will make him happy.”

Castiel doubted very much that anything would ever make Crowley happy. “But what about you, Ajay? Won’t it upset you to see your master with another Omega? I would die if Dean wanted someone else. Dean is my mate, I want only him.”

Ajay nodded. “Yes, perhaps I will kill myself when Master is done with me,” was all he said.

Castiel realized he had made a mistake, and bit his lip, wondering how he might fix it.

~*~*~*~

Dean stared at his phone. Cas had answered him, or someone pretending to be Cas had answered him.

Dean, I am at Marc’s house, just watching a movie. Sorry, don’t worry about me.

Dean showed it to Chuck, Bobby, Inias and John. Lucifer, Gabriel, Sam, Anna and Ellen were all on the prowl already, looking for Castiel, and Balthazar was finding out Crowley’s various addresses from Nick.

“Tell him something that would get him to respond in a way that only Cas would respond,” Bobby said. “Christ, Chuck. I’m so sorry.”

Chuck was in shock. Utter shock. He flickered his eyes at Bobby, but then went back to staring at nothing. John was pacing the room like a wild animal in a too small cage, which he sort of was in a way.

Dean stared at his phone.

Okay, have fun. Love you, sweetheart.

Bobby frowned. “Uh…you sure that’s gonna do it?”

The phone pinged, and Dean looked at the reply.

Love you too, baby.

Dean nodded. “Yeah. This isn’t Cas. If it was, he’d’ve called me assbutt.”

“Assbutt,” Bobby echoed.

Dean nodded. Then the phone pinged again.

Are we going to continue this game, Winchester?

John sucked in a breath when Dean read it aloud, and Chuck shuddered, burying his head in his hands. Before even thinking, Dean punched back an answer.

I can go all night, you son of a bitch. Where is my mate?

Manners, Winchester. I’m sure you’re very close to finding me. I assure you now, if anyone other than yourself shows up, I will kill pretty Cassie and throw you his carcass.

Fine. Done. Tell me where.

“Dean, think about this—“

“He’s my mate!” Dean spat at his dad. “My mate! I won’t—I won’t lose him, Dad! I can’t lose him!”

John pulled Dean into a one-armed hug and Dean found himself practically hyperventilating as he clung to the warm solidity of his father.

“I know, son. I know,” John whispered over and over.

I’m sure you are close enough to finding me that I don’t have to tell you. Oh, and as an aside, looking through my dear Cassie’s old texts is proving to be quite lucrative. Particularly your allusion to a particular “jellybean.” Can it be our friend is in a family way?

Dean’s blood went cold. “No.”

“Dean, don’t do this. Focus,” John urged.

“Sir, Lucifer just sent me an address. He says he smells Castiel,” Inias said. “I have informed him of Crowley’s threat. He’s contacted the other Betas and the Theta. They are holding back.”

Dean took several calming breaths. “Give me the address.”

I’m coming.

Really, there was nothing more that needed to be said.

~*~*~*~

Exploiting weaknesses was one of Crowley’s strong suits. He liked to think he made an art of it.

Take Ajay, for instance.

His shy Omega was once a high-powered attorney in a prestigious pack-run lawfirm. His parents were supportive, proud of all of their children. They did not care one whit that their youngest boy was an Omega. They loved him, educated him, empowered him. He was a thriving member of society, in need of nothing and no one when Crowley came upon him.

He was beautiful to behold in his pinstriped navy blue suit, French blue shirt, polished lace-ups, meticulously folded tie and matching pocket square. Crowley’s mouth had practically watered at the sight. He had to have him. He had to make that his.

Ajay had resisted, of course. For one, he was Crowley’s counsel and he repeated over and over that what Crowley was suggesting was unprofessional. Barring that, he was uninterested. Ajay had a mate. Just like Castiel, Ajay professed to love his mate. Maybe he even did at one point. Crowley wasn’t sure. He had never experienced such an emotion, and he had no need to. Love was weakness, control was power. He loved his control, he loved the power he had. That was the only love he needed.

Ajay had been angry at first, just as Castiel was currently. He had railed, complained, attempted to bite. He even got in a few good blows at first.

Breaking him had not been easy. Just like with Castiel, Crowley had to search long and hard for his weakness. Unlike Castiel, however, it had taken Crowley a bit of doing to actually pinpoint Ajay’s weakness. With Castiel, it was almost crystal clear that his weakness was Dean.

Ajay was harder to suss out. He had not responded to drugs or torture, but it turned out that he loved being fucked. Long, hard, well, as much as possible. When he was in heat, he was insatiable, and at first it had been all that Crowley could do to keep him satisfied. That was when he had gotten his greatest idea yet.

It was simple; Crowley would only give him what he wanted if he was a good boy. A very good boy. It turned out to be the greatest of motivators, and now Ajay was his own, body and soul, and he would do anything for Crowley.

Well, almost anything. When Crowley had sent him to the college to become friends with Castiel, Ajay had been downright recalcitrant. Probably a better word was jealous. He had wanted to know why Crowley was interested in Castiel. He wanted to know if he had done something to displease Master or upset Master in some way. Punishment had been meted out to even get Ajay at the Omega college.

Once there, Ajay had spurned the advances of the Omega of interest. There had been punishments to encourage Ajay into being friendly, and then finally withholding of sexual favors to make him behave, but it wasn’t until the history professor paired the students off that Ajay had finally spoken to Castiel. After that, it seemed that Ajay had actually formed some sort of affection for the younger Omega, and even admitted to Crowley that he would not mind having Castiel for a brother.

The best part was that Castiel was pregnant. Birth order meant that the pup would be an Alpha, and an Alpha would serve Crowley’s interests to the letter. He had been wanting to find a way to train an Alpha, and it seemed the gods had placed one in his lap, one that he could train from birth. Plus, the pup would give Castiel added incentive to behave. It was perfect really.

He went back to the room where Castiel was strapped to the bed. “Well, well, well,” he murmured, thinking that Castiel actually looked rather well all tied up. “Your mate is on his way.”

Castiel actually looked relieved. How sweet. The little pup truly believed his mate would help him.

“Yes, your big, bad Alpha is coming to my territory, Castiel. I think—“ he placed his hand on Castiel’s belly, enjoying the way the Omega lurched and tugged at his bonds, attempting to hide his whelp—“I think that Dean will be quite willing to do anything I ask of him if only I promise to not hurt his pup. What do you say, Cassie?”

Castiel struggled against the bonds, his face getting redder, his hair growing wilder, his eyes beginning to glow. Oh, how luscious. The wolf was right there, trying to come out. “You son of a bitch!” he spat. “Don’t you fucking touch me!”

Crowley laughed, lifting Castiel’s shirt just to drive home the point that he could. “So sweet, my darling.” He leaned down and dragged his tongue over the swollen belly, laughing at the ineffectual growl that Castiel let out. But then he felt Castiel’s body go tense and heard the snap of wood. Looking up, Crowley realized with astonishment that Castiel had actually managed to break one of the legs of the bed and was using the momentum of his triumph to get free.

Crowley hated underestimating his opponent, and it appeared that he had grossly underestimated Castiel’s strength. In anger, he stood up and slapped the Omega, causing him to pull again and the other leg snapped, letting his hands get slack. Crowley felt a moment of true fear before he called out to Ajay and Ruby to help him restrain Castiel. If he could pull himself into a crouching position, then he could shift, and he was just angry enough that his wolf could cause some damage.

“Goddamnit!” Crowley growled. “Hold him, damn you fools!”

Crowley stared at Castiel, who was glaring back in defiance, his blue eyes glowing in the light of the room. The wolf was too close to the surface. Damn damn damn, underestimated indeed, he needed to dial it back a bit to keep Castiel from manifesting any more than he already had. He had to get the Omega calm, because it was a surety that Dean would not comply if he couldn’t see his mate.

“I’m not interested in hurting your pup,” Crowley offered. “On the contrary, I very much wish to see him live.”

Castiel narrowed his eyes. He was foaming a bit at the mouth, but other than that, his chest was rising less violently, and he appeared to be calming down.

~*~*~*~

Calm. He had to stay calm. Too much adrenaline, and his body would go into manifestation overdrive, and the chance he could lose the pup would be high. All of his natural defenses, his immunity, ability to heal wounds, everything would be magnified if he gave into the anger. Dean called it “hulking out.”

 

Dean. He was coming. Dean was coming, and he’d bring the pack. They’d save him and little Beckett. He had to dwell on that.

~*~*~*~

Dean pulled up to the street and got out of the car. Lucifer met up with him in wolf form. Large, muscular, and shaggy golden-blonde, he melted into his human form, shifting as seamlessly as an Alpha. Nakedness wasn’t as socially prohibitive for shifters as it was for humans, and shifters tended to stay beautiful until the very end, so few humans ever really complained, so Lucifer did nothing to hide himself as he stood bare before Dean.

“He’s in the red warehouse,” Lucifer said. “I’d say he’s on the second floor currently, and I smell distress. There are probably five others in the building. Three Thetas, an Omega, and Crowley.”

Dean nodded. “Okay, stay downwind and keep out of sight.”

Lucifer nodded. “I have a Gift, Dean. I can go unnoticed for a time, so when things start looking bad, I’ll come in and help. We won’t have more than about three minutes in this situation, however. Maybe even less. I’m sorry.”

Dean raised his eyebrows. “You’re sorry? You can go fucking incognito and you’re sorry? I don’t care if it lasts all of five seconds, if it gives us an edge, don’t be sorry.”

Lucifer nodded and let out a shaky breath. “I’ll do what I can.”

“Okay, when the fight gets started, cover Cas at all costs. Don’t worry about me, just make sure he’s safe. Understood?”

Lucifer nodded.

“Luce, I mean it. Don’t worry about me. I don’t care if he never forgives you, as long as he survives, that’s all that’s important.”

“Dean, don’t go in with that attitude. You will be fine.”

~*~*~*~

Castiel smelled him. Dean. His mate. He was nervous, frightened.
“Well, well, smells like hubby is home. And he came alone. An Alpha who can follow instructions. How…unique.”

Castiel glared at Crowley. He wasn’t going to rise to the bait. He had to save his energy, and he had to protect Beckett. If he was going to “hulk out,” it would be at the moment that would serve him best.

“Tie him up, darlings. Make sure he’s secure. I don’t want a repeat performance.”

Two Thetas came forward and removed his hands from the bed, tying them securely against his back. Then they tied his legs in such a way that he shouldn’t be able to crouch and Shift.

Castiel wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but he knew it had to be something. He’d smelled Crowley’s fear earlier. He hoped that the Beta was as overconfident as he assumed he was.

~*~*~*~

Dean approached the warehouse, fear settling like a cold brick in his belly. His hands felt cold and numb. He wanted to kill everyone on the premises, just rip all of their throats out. He was actually contemplating how many he could kill before something bad happened to his mate. Three? What if he just went straight for Crowley?

He passed through a hole in the chain link fence that surrounded the perimeter, sniffing slightly. Castiel was here, and Dean’s wolf was calling out to him. It wanted to manifest, to rip and kill. Dean had to hold it steady. Brains were needed now, more than his brawn.

Lucifer and Gabriel, as extensions of Castiel, were felt in the background of his senses. He could feel them, upwind as he had directed with Sam and Ellen. He couldn’t sense Anna as well since he had spent little time in her presence, but he was sure she had to be close by.

Several figures emerged from the doorway of the warehouse. Dean had no doubt that this was an ambush and that Crowley was intent on killing him. Killing him in front of Cas was probably Crowley’s first step in some sick plan to break him, but Dean wasn’t planning on going down without a fight. He felt Lucifer edging closer and a flood of relief along with that, knowing that he had backup.

“Winchester,” Crowley said, smirk firmly in place.

“Crowley. So, are we going to negotiate here, or are we going to fight to the death.”

“Come now, Winchester. You’re an Alpha, I’m a Beta. If we fought fair, you’d win.”

Dean shrugged out of his jacket. “I like those odds. Let’s do it.”

Crowley let out a humorless chuckle. “Oh, we won’t be fighting fair, Winchester. My Thetas are on orders to kill Cassie should anything happen to me, so I think I can do anything I want right now.”

~*~*~*~

Castiel was unable to move, the Thetas were holding him too tightly. At Crowley’s words, however, the spark that was lying dormant inside of him finally burst into a full flame. He couldn’t let his mate be killed while he stood by and watched. He loved Dean with all of his being; he was going to give Dean a pup, and he wouldn’t allow Crowley to corrupt that. Dean was his, and he was Dean, and if one of them was going to go down, then they were both going to go down together.

“Lucifer!” Dean shouted, ripping his shirt open and crouching.

Castiel struggled against the Thetas and against his bonds. Now was the time, he had to do it, but he couldn’t crouch with the way his bonds were secured.

“Ajay,” He said. “Ajay, let me go to my mate!”

The dark-haired Theta, the one called Ruby, smacked him. “Hush!” she admonished.

“Ajay!” he was relentless, even when the blonde called Bella turned to strike him too.

Ajay stopped her, his eyes on Castiel. “You will kill my Master.”

“I’m going to rip his throat out,” Castiel growled in answer, not caring. If he couldn’t move, then he was going to say how he felt, even when it earned him another hit from Ruby that stung along his cheekbone and made his eye begin to swell.

Ajay whipped out a knife and cut the bond at Castiel’s back, the one keeping him from crouching, while hitting Bella at the same time. “Do it!”

Castiel crouched low, bending backwards to do so, thankful that he was flexible enough to do that, his clothes and bonds ripping as his body shifted. The Thetas moved quickly, attempting to hold him still, but he had the one they called Ruby’s throat ripped out before the one called Bella could even begin to shift. As Castiel turned to take care of her, a golden wolf came out of nowhere and Castiel recognized Lucifer. Turning from him, he found Dean wrestling with Crowley, half-naked and still in human form. Crowley was fighting well, and he seemed to have found an upper hand with some sort of gleaming weapon. It moved too fast for Castiel to really get a lock on it. He just knew he needed to stop Crowley, so he sprang into action.

~*~*~*~
Dean was stopped from crouching by Crowley, who was stronger than he looked. He also had a weapon: a wicked silver blade that cut and burned into Dean’s arm, making him wince and suck in breath. Behind him, a Theta tried to get a hypodermic into him, but he managed to shake him off before the poison could get into his system. Unfortunately, sparing a moment for the Theta meant that Crowley managed to plunge the silver knife into his shoulder, much too close to vital organs and arteries that he’d like to keep intact. He pulled out from under Crowley, the silver weakening him just slightly.

Dean ducked down, ready to take Crowley out once and for all when a huge ball of dark fur came streaking by him. Dean stood quickly, his wolf responding to his mate, wanting to keep Castiel as far away from the threat as possible. As far away from the knife as possible. Crowley’s arm lifted, the knife glinting in the yellow artificial light of the warehouse grounds, and Dean threw himself forward, feeling the bite of the blade as it lodged down between his ribs into his lungs.

Crowley fell backwards, the weight of both Dean and Castiel pushing him into the concrete as Castiel latched his mouth in Crowley’s throat.

The wolf bit, his teeth sinking against soft flesh even as the knife dug deeper into Dean’s back, collapsing his lung, the silver causing him to feel faint. But he couldn’t give into the darkness that was threatening even as Castiel bit harder, deeper into Crowley’s neck.

He had to keep biting, or Crowley would heal.

Lucifer and Sam both came loping over, shifted, and got the knife out of Dean’s back. Gabriel and Anna tried to go to Castiel, to get him to let go of Crowley, who had ceased twitching, but Castiel growled at them, his hackles raised.

“Dean, you have to talk him down,” Sam said. “He’ll lose Beckett if you don’t talk him down.”

Anna backed away, accepting a blanket from Inias, who had appeared with a squadron and an ambulance. The EMT’s were checking on the bodies, keeping a wary eye on the growling wolf.

“Cas,” Dean wheezed, his voice as insubstantial as a cobweb. “Sweetheart.”

Castiel turned to him, the limp body flopping as he moved his head.

“Cas, please, let go.”

Gabriel tried again. “Your mate’s hurt, bro. He needs you.”

Castiels hackles lowered just a bit, but his jaw worked at Crowley’s neck as hot blood trickled down and pooled below them.

Dean held out his hand, not trying to hide the pain he felt at the movement. “Please, Cas, I need you.”

Castiel gave Crowley one last shake, then reluctantly let his body go. Inias approached the body slowly, keeping his eye on Castiel just in case the wolf decided to come back for more. Castiel was obviously satisfied that the Beta was dead, however, because he kicked dirt over him with his rear leg before trotting to Dean and sniffing him over, whimpering in the back of his throat.

“He got me with silver, Cas. I can’t heal right now. I need you,” Dean said. Showing weakness was difficult, but he needed Cas to come back to him. “Come here, sweetheart. Come here.”

Castiel licked the wound on Dean’s shoulder, and Dean shuddered at the pain.

“Thanks, sweetheart.”

Castiel turned in a circle before relaxing against Dean. Dean lifted his hand and petted his mate.

“Can you change back now, Cas? Come back to me, babe.” Dean ignored the pain and sat up, heaving in breaths. “Cas? Come on, sweetheart. Come back to me.”

The wolf looked up, sighed, closed its eyes, and then shifted. Soon, Castiel was laying against Dean, pale, and unconscious. Dean hauled the limp body up against his. He didn’t have the strength to do anything other than just hold him close as the EMT’s began to work on his wounds.

“It’s over,” he whispered. “It’s over.”

Chapter Text

Castiel was laying against Dean in the little clearing by the stream on their property. It was a beautiful, sunny day and Beckett was picking clover blossoms.

 

Hey, Cas, don’t make it bad

Take a sad song and make it better

 

 

“Look, Daddy!” she exclaimed, running to him with a flower in her little hand. “Look, it’s a dumbledee!”

 

Remember to let me into your heart

Then we can start to make it better

 

 

 

 

Castiel took the flower from her and found a little bee industriously collecting pollen, paying no attention to the manhandling of said blossom. “Yes, baby. It’s a beautiful little bumblebee. He’s going to make honey with the pollen he collects.”

 

 

Hey, Cas don’t be afraid

You were made to go out and get her

 

 

Beckett smiled, a brilliant flash of white from her pretty red lips. At five, she was already beautiful, though Castiel was biased. And it didn’t hurt that she looked so much like him, either, as Dean often commented. “Okay, I’ll take him back then,” Beckett decided, grabbing the flower back.

 

The minute you let me under your skin

You can begin to make it better

 

 

“Be sure you don’t touch him, baby. He’ll bite you.”

 

 

Beckett smiled again and Castiel’s heart ached at the sight of it.

 

 

Behind him, Dean began to pet him, carding his fingers through his hair. “It’s time to wake up, sweetheart,” he murmured.

 

 

Castiel watched their daughter dance around the clover patches, her blue dress swirling around her knees and her dark curls swinging out behind her back. “No, I like it here.”

 

 

Besides, there was something he didn’t want to see when he woke up. Something was wrong.

 

 

He opened his eyes immediately, panicked. “Beckett!” he shouted. “Oh no! She’s gone! She’s gone!”

 

 

Dean held him down. “No, she’s right here, she’s right here,” he said, his voice desperate as he placed his hand on Castiel’s belly. “She’s right here, sweetheart.”

 

 

Castiel shuddered, his breath coming fast. He was very close to hyperventilating.

 

 

“Just calm down, babe. Calm down. You have to stay calm.”

 

 

 

Castiel tried to slow his breathing, not sure what Dean meant, but his Omega nature meant that he would always try to do what Dean asked.

 

 

“Beckett’s fine. You hulked out, but you stopped before you caused any lasting damage that they can see. Pam’s talking about putting you on bedrest, though, and you can’t get excited about anything for a little while.”

 

 

Castiel turned into his mate, relieved. “I’m so sorry, Dean.”

 

 

Dean wrapped him up in his arms, still cradling his head. “Why are you sorry? What did you do?”

 

 

The tears came. He didn’t want to cry, but it just happened, and he knew he looked terrible since he was completely unable to do the whole “beautiful single tear from the middle of one perfect green eye” the way that Dean did. Castiel cried with his whole body, shaking sobs, blotchy red skin on his neck and face, puffy eyes and runny nose. “I…I…he knew and I just fell for it,” he sobbed out brokenly, hands clutching at Dean’s shirt. “He knew and I’m such an idiot.”

 

 

Dean rubbed his hand in soothing circles over Castiel’s back, his other hand massaging his scalp. “No, you’re not an idiot. They played you. They played us all. I never even thought…if anyone should be apologizing, it’s me.”

 

 

Castiel shook his head. “No, it’s all my fault. Crowley knew that I would be…” Castiel sucked in a deep breath. “He knew I’d be lonely and looking for a friend. He knew how to get to me. To us. To the pup.”

 

 

“It’s not your fault, Cas. It’s not your fault. We all fell for it. We all just let you walk out the door—“

 

 

“Dammit, Dean, I’m not a porcelain doll! I’m not something you have to protect! It’s not your job to watch me every minute of every hour of every day!” Castiel yelled. “I’m an adult, I should be able to take care of myself!” He pushed himself up, but Dean held his hands so he couldn’t climb out of the bed. Castiel just then realized they were in a hospital, laying in a twin-sized bed together.

 

“Why-why are we in the hospital?”

 

 

Dean sighed and sat up, wincing as he did so. “Because I got shanked by Crowley and you hulked out. I should be in that bed over there, but they’re letting us stay close to each other.”

 

Castiel remembered vaguely the knife that Crowley had been holding. “You’re hurt.”

 

“Yeah, I’m hurt. I’m fine. So are you.”

 

Castiel closed his eyes. “Crowley’s dead.”

 

Dean’s hand, warm and dry, rested against his cheek. “You killed him, sweetheart. He’s gone. He won’t bother you anymore.”

 

 

“I killed him,” Castiel nodded. “I…”

 

“You sure did, sweetheart. You sure did. You were amazing.”

 

Hot tears stung behind his eyelids. He remembered everything, the feel of flesh tearing under his jaws, the snap of Crowley’s neck, the way he twitched as he died. Castiel lifted his hands and buried his face in his palms as a sob shuddered through him.

 

“Dean, I…look, after Beckett’s born, I won’t blame you if you want to take her and keep her from me. I...I don’t deserve…”

 

Dean gently took his hands from his face and pulled him close. “Sweetheart, you are the best dad for Beckett, you did everything you could to protect her—and me—and you are amazing. Why would I want you to go away?” He squeezed him tight. “Talk to me, Cas.”

 

“They tricked me, and I put us all in danger. I almost lost Beckett and you. Why would you still want me?”

 

Dean took him by the arms and looked him in the face. “Babe, you killed a Beta. You. An Omega. You killed Crowley to save your family. To help us. You didn’t do anything to attract his attention or encourage him.” Dean sighed. “He came after you. He forced himself onto you. If you had lost Beckett during that ordeal, then it would have been his fault, not yours, and I never would have blamed you for it. Ever. Cas, I love you. Don’t you see?”

 

Castiel didn’t see. He didn’t understand. “But I feel so stupid.”                

 

“Feel stupid, but don’t mistake that for being stupid.” Dean kissed his forehead. “You’re not stupid. It wasn’t stupid.”

 

“I feel like I should have known. I should have seen…it was just so perfect, and I thought it was right because it was perfect. But it wasn’t. It was just his trick.”

 

Dean lay back down, opening his arms for Castiel to snuggle against him. “’Mere, sweetheart.”

 

Castiel fitted himself against Dean, tucking his head under Dean’s chin, still completely confused and unsure of anything. How could Dean still love him? How had Ajay tricked him so badly? And why had he wanted a friend anyway when he was surrounded by so many Thetas and his brothers, Sam and Dean? If he hadn’t been so intent on finding someone else to fulfill him, if he hadn’t been so selfish, he wouldn’t be in this predicament at all.

 

“Hey, Cas?”

 

“Yes, Dean.”

 

“Why do you keep calling Beckett a girl? Did you …have one of your premonitions?”

 

“I just had a dream,” Castiel said, then briefly explained it. “Were you singing to me?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

“I thought I heard you singing.”  He could feel Dean’s smile against the top of his head. It made him smile too.

 

~*~*~*~

 

The room looked like it was splattered with red paint, and the body lying in the center looked unearthly. Anna was screaming for the door to be opened, then shoved her way in when it finally was.

 

“Get a medic!” she screeched, pulling Ajay’s hands away from his self-inflicted wounds, which he had jammed his fingers into to keep them from healing. “Why hasn’t he been watched! You knew he was suicidal!”

 

Uriel shrugged. “Hey, we can’t watch him 24/7.”

 

Anna growled at the Beta. He had been sore ever since Gabriel had gotten him in trouble with Sheriff Singer, and it was no secret that he hated Omegas.

 

“Your job was to watch him, you ass. Go home, you’re on Admin-Leave until further notice.”

 

“Hey, you can’t just—“

 

“I sure as hell can and I just did!”

 

Ajay’s wounds were closing slowly, his breathing shallow and labored. Anna grimaced, sliding out of the way when the medics came through with a stretcher. He was loaded onto it, and Anna followed him to the sickbay. “Oh, Ajay. Why?” she moaned half to herself while walking down the hallway.

 

She was just happy she had been in the jail that day. She wasn’t technically supposed to be working because of Castiel, but she didn’t really feel useful just sitting around the hospital, and her father was still in a bit of shock. After losing their mother, Chuck had thrown himself into the family. Anna was very young when Becky had died, but she remembered Chuck being gone a lot of the time while her mom was there to care for all of them. After Castiel had been born, Chuck had taken a year off of work, and he had become both father and mother to all of them. After that, he never really went away. Not even after he went back to work. Chuck would drop anything in order to be there for his pups, and thankfully, Sheriff Singer had never admonished Chuck for his devotion. In fact, he praised him for it.

 

“Miss Novak, who should we call?” the nurse on duty asked.

 

“Call Theta Inias,” Anna said. “He’s the lead on this case.”

 

The nurse nodded, and Anna took a seat by Ajay. His brown skin was pale and ashy and he was shivering, though unconscious.

 

“Anna.”

 

Anna looked up to find Inias standing near the opposite side of the bed.

 

“Hi, In.”

 

“Don’t tell me you were the one who found him.”

 

Anna shook her head, a tear escaping one dark eye. “That ass Uriel was supposed to watch him, and he just…”

 

Inias moved to her and put his hand on her shoulder. “Did you send him home?”

 

Anna nodded. “He tried to argue with me.”

 

“Well, he knows better than to try that for too long.”

 

“I don’t think he respects me.”

 

Inias knelt down in front of her and took her hands. “Then he’s a fool. You are wise and kind and beautiful.”

 

Anna smiled. “I don’t think Uriel cares about beauty. And you shouldn’t flirt while we’re working.”

 

“I’m working, honey. You’re supposed to be taking care of your family.”

 

Anna nodded towards the unconscious Omega. “I am. This is how I’m doing it.”

 

“How is your brother?”

 

“He’s okay. He woke up this morning, and he’s convinced he must have done something to deserve this.”

 

Inias reached up and stroked her cheek. “He’ll get through this.”

 

“I know.” Anna gave a tight-lipped smile. “I know. He was violated, his confidence was shattered, and…he killed someone. He killed someone, In. Have you ever killed anyone?”

 

Inias nodded.

 

“Well, I haven’t. I haven’t, and my little brother just…” Anna’s chin quivered and another tear slipped down her cheek. “Oh, In. Poor Cassie.”

 

On the table, Ajay groaned. “Why did you not let me die? Why did you not let me…”

 

Anna stood up, brushing Inias off of her. “Because you don’t get to just check out, you assbutt! You might not have started this whole fucking mess, but you sure as shit are going to finish it you worthless piece of horse shit!”

 

“Anna,” Inias said, grabbing her around the waist. “Come on, honey, don’t do this.”

 

“No!” she screamed. “No, I am not going to mollycoddle him! My brother is pregnant, Ajay. Pregnant! Do you even understand—can you even fathom the tragedy you could have caused in my family? Not just one member dead, but three all together because your precious little “master” couldn’t keep it in his pants!”

 

Ajay covered his face with his hands. “I am so sorry—“

 

“Don’t you dare say you’re sorry,” Anna growled. “Don’t you fucking—“

 

Inias picked her up over his shoulder and took her from the room.

 

“Put me down!”

 

“Anna, no!”

 

Inias shouldered his way into an interrogation room and unhooked the surveillance camera.

 

“He turned my family upside-down,” she sobbed.

 

Inias squeezed her arms and drew her close, wrapping his arms around her and nuzzling her hair. “He’s as much a victim of Crowley as Castiel is. You know he had a life before all this? A mate? Crowley turned him into one of his toys, took everything away from him. His last act, or so he thought, was cutting Castiel free and letting him kill Crowley.”

 

Anna looked up sharply at that.

 

“Yes, Anna. He did that. He told me about it last night, and Lucifer corroborated his story. Castiel got free and shifted because Ajay knew in his head that it was the right thing to do. That kid is so mixed up inside right now that he doesn’t know which was is up, and he doesn’t need the sister of the guy he just betrayed to start yelling at him.”

 

She absorbed his words, trying to come to terms with them. “Ajay has a family?”

 

Inias pulled her back to him. “He does. And they’ve been looking for him for the past five years.”

 

“Crowley just took him?”

 

He kissed her temple. “Crowley just took him.”

 

“He was like Castiel.” Her voice became high and thready as she choked back a sob.

 

“He was. And he can be again.”

 

Anna finally let her tears out, sobbing against his shoulder.

 

 

~*~*~*~

 

Dean and Castiel had a few hours to talk before they were assaulted by hospital staff. First a nurse came to redress Dean’s wounds, and then Pam came to visit, carting an ultrasound monitor with her.

 

“Hey, blue eyes! Nice to see you conscious,” she said with a wink. “It’s a shame you have to close your eyes at all, they’re so beautiful.”

 

Castiel stiffened against Dean, making Dean wonder what the problem was. Castiel had told him a bit about the way Crowley had touched his belly and threatened Beckett, but other than that, it was all self-recriminations for having been taken advantage of, as though it was his fault. As though he had been out trying to get scammed and kidnapped.

 

“First things first, let’s get you on the scale. How has your eating been?”

 

Castiel sighed. “Well, up until two days ago, I’ve been eating nonstop.”

 

Pam seemed unfazed by this revelation. “Well, let’s see how you’re doing.”

 

Castiel got up from the bed and stood on the scale. Dean could tell by the looks on both his and Pam’s faces that it was bad news.

 

“Mr. Novak, you are five-feet eleven inches tall. You should have started out weighing around one-sixty, but you were only about one-fifty. Now, that’s not too horrible; you’re an Omega, you have a thin build, and lots of lean muscle. That’s good. But darlin’, you’ve only gained ten pounds all together and you’re five months along. You’ve lost weight with this pregnancy. Your actual weight without the cub is only about a hundred and forty pounds. That is dangerously underweight.”

 

Castiel sat down. “I swear I’ve been eating whenever I’m hungry, high calorie foods, too.”

 

Pam looked sympathetic. “Some people are just like that, Mr. Novak. Some people just have a hard time keeping their weight up. I want you to stay in the hospital a few days, and I can monitor your diet while you’re in here, so maybe we can get to the bottom of this. Since there’s a history of preeclampsia in your family, I want to keep your food options healthy.”

 

Castiel nodded. “Of course, Doctor.”

 

“Okay, pumpkin. Glad we got that out of the way. Now let’s check in on your cubbie.”

 

“Doctor, when I was…taken…they gave me some sort of drug that knocked me out. I’m not sure for how long, but for at least a half an hour. Do you think…”

 

Dean had to control his anger at the thought of his mate being drugged. Drugged! He wished he could bring Crowley back from hell so he could kill him all over again himself.

 

“I honestly don’t know, but I’ll try my best to see what I can. If you like, we could always do an amniocentesis.” She pulled out the jelly for the ultrasound. “Now lie back so I can lube you up.”

 

Castiel complied, leaning back against Dean again, unable to break contact with him for too long. Dean didn’t mind, he wanted his mate close by too, so he stroked his hair the way he liked to do, letting the ends curl around his fingers.

 

“Has your cub been moving normally since your ordeal?”

 

Dean was still really curious about the way his pup moved. He hadn’t yet been able to feel it, but he enjoyed Castiel’s description of how it flittered around inside him.

 

“Yes, she’s been very active.”

 

Pam raised her eyebrows. “She? Are we taking a stand now? Tipping your hat towards a gender?”

 

Castiel shrugged. “I just…I have a feeling.”

 

Pam pulled the wand from the machine. “Well, you’re probably right. Carriers usually are. Care to make any bets, Gorgeous?”

 

Dean somehow managed to recall that he was the Gorgeous to Castiel’s Blue Eyes. “Oh. Well, if Cas says it’s a girl, then it’s a girl.”

 

“Good answer. Okay, let’s find her then…there she is!”

 

Dean stared at the screen, mesmerized by the baby-like lump that was forming in Castiel’s belly. His jellybean was getting bigger and bigger every time he saw it, it seemed.

 

Pam was moving the wand around, making stills. “Well, it seems like daddy knows best, Blue Eyes. You are indeed having a girl.”

 

Dean sucked in a breath, then looked down at Castiel, who looked up at him. Dean tightened his hold around Castiel’s shoulders, smiling hugely.

 

“Our daughter,” he said.

 

Castiel smiled. “You’re not disappointed? No Alpha male.”

 

Dean snorted. “Trust me, between Dad and me, there’s enough Alpha male in the house.” Dean smiled again. “Sweetheart…” he felt tears in his eyes as he started to choke up. “Fuck. Gods, I love you, Cas.” He kissed the top of his head. “Love you so much, asshole.”

 

Pam sighed happily. “You two are just too adorable, and you’re both complete and utter assholes. You’re going to make me cry.”

                                                                                                                                               

She grabbed a few tissues from a box and handed them over to the mates, who both took them and proceeded to blow their noses loudly.

 

“She’s beautiful,” Castiel sniffled, then hiccupped.

 

“She is,” Dean agreed. “But, why is she doing that thing right there?” he pointed at the screen. “Is she…it looks like she’s convulsing.” He felt a stab of fear, thinking of the drugs Crowley concocted to hook werewolves and make them desperate. What if..?

 

Castiel hiccupped again.

 

Pam smiled. “She’s hiccupping, just like your mate is.”

 

Dean stared at the screen in wonder, his fear abating. Hiccups. “Wow.”

 

“It’s actually a good sign,” Pam continued. “That means she’s doing normal things for this stage of pregnancy, such as sucking her thumb and accidentally swallowing her amniotic fluid.”

 

Castiel rubbed his hand over the upper swell of his belly, and Dean put his hand over Castiel’s. “She’s perfect,” he assured Castiel.

 

“She really is,” Pam agreed, printing out a few photos. “Two arms, two legs…except when she shifts, then it’s four legs. Her cranium is a good size, her heart is beating normally. I think she’s okay, but we’ll monitor her while you stay here. Now, Mr. Winchester, if you’ll walk with me, we can discuss a plan to keep Mr. Novak here healthy.”

 

Dean extricated himself from the bed and gave Castiel another kiss to reassure him. In the hallway, Pam turned all business.

 

“He’s not doing well,” she said, causing the sharp knife of fear in Dean’s heart to twist painfully.

 

“What, uh…can I do anything?”

 

Pam shrugged. “I don’t know. The cub is fine, so don’t worry about her. You need to get Mr. Novak’s spirits and weight up.”

 

Dean hung his head, defeated. “I don’t know what to do, Doc. He thinks this is all his fault. He thinks he did something to cause this, and he thinks I’ll leave him after Beckett is born.”

 

Of course, he had forgotten that this was Pam. “Okay, that’s a lot of whining for an Alpha, Gorgeous. He’s your mate. You take care of him. You do whatever it is you have to do to get him to believe you, put on weight, and stay calm.”

 

Well, Dean could think of about a hundred different ways to show him that…

 

“Okay, get the dreamy oversexed look off of your face, no sex for two weeks at least. I’ll check him out at the end of that time and give you the go-ahead, but nothing until then.” Her face was stern and hard. “I mean it, Winchester. Not even a handy in the shower, he needs to stay calm.”

 

Dean rubbed the back of his neck. “But he’s been…what if he needs it? I don’t…”

 

Pam poked him in the chest. “Nothing. Oh, hey!” her face changed a bit and she gave him a smile. “Hey, isn’t he going to my cousin Michelle Clarke, the counselor at the Omega college? He trusts her, right?”

 

Dean nodded. “Yes, I think he really likes and trusts her.”

 

Pam nodded. “Okay, I’ll give her a call if that’s okay with you. I’m sure he’d like to see a familiar face, and counseling would be good for him right now. He needs it much more than he needs sex.”

 

“Thank you, Doc. I really appreciate that.”

 

“No problem. But seriously, no sex.”

 

Dean sighed. He wanted to go back into the room, but decided to call Sam for a favor first.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Castiel dozed against the bed, a bit nervous and upset. Why wouldn’t Pam talk to Dean in front of him? Was she advising him to leave? Or did she think he was incapable of taking care of himself?

 

He hiccupped again, and wrapped his arms around his belly. It felt like Beckett was knocking on his insides, and he loved that they were sharing this.

 

The door opened and he looked up, expecting Dean. Instead, a tall, dark-haired Beta with blue eyes came into the room.

 

“Cassie?”

 

Castiel sat up. “Michael.”

 

Michael rushed into the room, enveloping Castiel into a huge hug. “Oh, Cassie…I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry I wasn’t here for you!”

 

Castiel grabbed onto Michael’s suit jacket and sniffled. “You wouldn’t have been able to do anything, you know.”

 

Michael laughed, a low rumbling in his chest. “Yes, I know. Everyone’s talking about it.” He pulled back and swiped the tears from Castiel’s cheek with his thumb. “You were amazing. I bet Dean is so proud of you. I know I am.”

 

Castiel closed his eyes. “He says he is.”

 

Michael put his hand on Castiel’s belly. “I finally get to meet the pup, eh?”

 

“Yes, Michael. This is your niece, Beckett.”

 

Michael’s hand curled. “Niece? Oh, hell, bro, that’s so…” he smiled at Castiel. “I’m so happy for you.”

 

Castiel couldn’t help but smile. “We just found out about the sex today. Dad doesn’t even know yet.”

 

“Then I’m the first one, huh? Even before Lucifer.”

 

“Yeah, that’s actually one for the records,” Castiel grinned. “Knowing something before Lucifer.”

 

They both chuckled over that, then Michael took Castiel’s hand. “You look sad.”

 

“I was lied to, kidnapped, and then I killed a wolf. How am I supposed to feel?”

 

Michael tilted his head and nodded. “Fair enough. I would think you’d be a bit angry and hurt, too. They did lie to you.”

 

“I let them lie to me.”

 

“No way, Cassie. You didn’t even know—how would you? It’s the most insane thing I can think of, sending an Omega to college just to get closer to another Omega. It made no sense, and it just highlights what a madman this Crowley was. Think about it; if he had just kept his head down and done his thing, left you alone, he’d still be alive, and he’d still be the drug king in this state. Instead, he had to go thinking with his knot, creating some grand, elaborate plan to get to you, and it backfired on him!”

 

“But why me, Michael? I must have done something…said something…”

 

“Hey, no, don’t even think like that,” Michael said immediately, squeezing Castiel’s hand. “Whenever someone is violated like this, whether it’s rape or physical assault or robbery or whatever, they think that if they just hadn’t been wearing this thing or walking down that street, they’d be fine. It wasn’t you, Cas. It was the person who violated you. If he had been a better wolf, if he had been a good person, we wouldn’t be here right now. That’s the truth.”

 

The door opened and both brothers looked up as Dean entered. “Hey, sweetheart, I got ya a…Michael!”

 

“Hey, Dean.”

 

Michael stood up, and he and Dean took hands, then went in for a slightly awkward one-armed hug.

 

“Wow, it’s good to see you,” Dean said sincerely, taking his place with Castiel again. “Sorry I took so long, babe. Had Sam go and get us some cheeseburgers, fries, and pie.”

 

Castiel shook his head. “She wants me to eat nutritious food, Dean.”

 

“Hey, a cheeseburger has all the basic food groups in it. You’ve got your vegetables, your dairy, your meat, and your grains.”

 

Michael laughed. “Same old Dean.”

 

“You expected me to change?”

 

“Never.” Michael raked his hand through his hair and looked around the room. “Well, I think I’d better let you two eat. I’ll be in town for a week, so just let me know if there’s anything you need, okay?”

 

“Thanks for coming by,” Castiel said. “I’m glad you’re here.”

 

“Me too,” Dean said. When Michael left, Dean kissed Castiel on the top of his head. “I think he cheered you up a bit.”

 

Castiel started arranging their lunch on the rolling tray that housed their water mugs. “Yes, we had a good talk.”

 

Dean turned those huge green eyes to Castiel. “Tell me. Please?”

 

Castiel stared at his uneaten burger. “He said it wasn’t…it wasn’t my fault.”

 

Dean dropped everything in his hands and dragged Castiel into his lap, holding him so tightly that it was almost suffocating. Castiel didn’t care, though. For the first time all day, he found Dean’s embrace comforting, and no shooting stab of embarrassment and self-loathing came to haunt him.

 

“It wasn’t your fault, sweetheart. I swear to all the gods, it wasn’t your fault. I wish you would believe me, I wish you knew how much I love you. I wish I could show you, but Pam says we can’t make love for two weeks. That’s the only thing that’s keeping me from…” Dean stopped himself. “Cas, I was furious at you when you went after Crowley by yourself. I saw you go by me, so close I could feel your fur. But I also knew that I had to keep him from stabbing you because if I lost you, then I’d lose the best thing that’s ever happened to me in my life. And I knew that whatever you did, you would protect Beckett and me if it was the last thing you…” Dean’s voice faltered. “…if it was the last thing you ever did.”

 

“You were furious with me?”

 

“Of course I was furious with you. Killing Crowley should have been my right. He threatened my mate, my pup.”

 

Castiel pulled away, unsure of what the emotion was roiling in his stomach.

 

“Hey, what’s wrong, Cas? I’m not angry with you anymore.”

 

“No, I…I sort of appreciate that you are angry with me. I just…I killed someone. He was evil and horrid, but…”

 

Dean spooned up behind him, their lunch forgotten on the tray. “It’s okay, sweetheart. You were right. You did what was right.”

 

Castiel wished he could believe that. 

Chapter Text

Castiel was kept in the hospital for three days, and was able to gain a pound a day eating both the food the hospital gave him, and the food that was snuck in by various members of the pack. Pam had banned anyone other than family from seeing him, so they sent him gifts to make up for it. Dean asked Castiel if he minded not seeing his friends, but Castiel actually said he didn’t want to see anyone other than his brothers or his dad.

 

Chuck came to see Castiel on his second day, all nervous energy and apologies. He cried, and Castiel cried, and Dean left them alone so they could say all the things that needed to be said between them. On the third day, just before they were checked out, Dean left Castiel alone with Miss Clarke from the Omega College.

 

The counselor had her golden hair back in a ponytail, and Dean found it interesting that he could see her markings in it that way. The majority of her hair was golden like a cougar, but there was a section at the very front that was creamy white, framed by black streaks, just as her animal form might have white around the muzzle framed by black. It was fascinating. Dean had never met a multicolored werewolf, though wolves could be many different colors. He wondered if a multicolored werewolf would have similar hair, and whether Pam’s cougar form was nearly black.

 

Dean went to the cafeteria to have coffee with Balthazar and Lucifer, who were cementing their plans to take Nick to Boston with them. Dean knew he was going to miss Balthazar, but he wasn’t prepared for how much he was going to miss Lucifer. The Beta had been there for him when he really needed help, and Dean would never forget him for that.

 

“We’ll be back to visit, Dean,” Lucifer assured him. “And we aren’t leaving for a few days yet.”  

 

Balthazar put his arm around Dean’s shoulder. “You’ll never get rid of me that easily, old boy.”

 

Dean smiled. “Well, you both better be back here once Beckett’s born. You can’t let Gabriel and Anna be the only ones around to spoil her.”

 

Lucifer gave a dark look. “Don’t worry, Dean. I am determined to be her favorite.”

 

Dean laughed, shaking his head. “You guys. You kill me. Well, I won’t turn you away from spoiling my kids, but now you’ve mated, I’ve gotta ask: when are me and Cas going to be made uncles?”

 

Lucifer and Balthazar shared a look. “We’re already adopting Nick, Dean. Geez,” Lucifer said with a laugh.

 

Dean rolled his eyes. “Okay, tell me when you’re ready for his birthday, and I’ll send him a gift.”

 

“We thought we’d get him one of those bouncy castles,” Balthazar said dryly.

 

“I know you’re being sarcastic, but that actually sounds pretty awesome,” Dean said. “I do need you guys to help me out with the pack, though. Cas is coming home today, and I need you guys to help keep everyone away from our cottage until Cas is ready to see them.”

 

“Sure thing, Dean,” Lucifer said. “I’ll let Gabe and Sammy know. You won’t have any unwanted interruptions, or I will take care of it personally.”

 

Dean could really appreciate when non-Alphas exhibited Alpha traits. He respected those who could command without the gene, such as Ellen or Rufus. At the moment, he was slightly in awe of Lucifer.

 

“I am so turned on right now,” Balthazar murmured, breaking Dean’s contemplative bubble.

 

“And this is different than usual, somehow?” Lucifer shot back with a smirk.

 

Dean rolled his eyes. “Okay, this was great, but I’m going to check out with the nurse, see if I can find Pam. Away from…you.”

 

Balthazar laughed at that, and even Lucifer smiled. “I’m sorry, Dean,” he said. “I can’t…I just love him so much.”

 

“I know how you feel,” was all Dean said before he turned away. Because he really did know.

 

Castiel was released with Pam’s blessing and a stern reminder to Dean that for eleven more days, he’d be sex-free. Dean nodded his compliance and swore he’d not go anywhere near Castiel’s nether regions.

 

In the Impala, Castiel huddled against the passenger door instead of sliding across to sit near Dean like he usually did. When Dean pulled up just outside the cottage, he looked over to find Castiel had fallen asleep against the door.

 

“Hey, sweetheart,” Dean said, reaching out for his shoulder. Castiel jumped straight up in the air, a feral growl ripping from his throat.

 

“Don’t fucking touch me!”

 

Dean put both hands up in surrender, backing against his door. He was surprised at Castiel’s vehemence, and the fact that he was apparently having some sort of flashback. Three days in the hospital, three nights, and not one nightmare between the two of them. One nap in the car, and he was freaking out.

 

“Cas?”

 

Castiel looked around, bewildered. “Dean?” Then he launched himself at Dean. “Dean! I’m sorry!”

 

Dean held him close. “Don’t be sorry, sweetheart. Don’t be sorry. Tell me what I can do to make you feel safe.”

 

“I am safe,” Castiel murmured. “I am safe.”  

 

“I’ve got you,” Dean said, his lips against Castiel’s head. “I’ve got you, sweetheart.”

 

“I’m so sorry, Dean,” Castiel said brokenly. “I don’t know what came over me, I just…I thought I was back there and that you were him. I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t ever say you’re sorry, Cas. Not for that. You have a right to feel unsure and frightened right now. Just tell me what I can do. I’ll do anything, even if you want me to shut up and go away for a while.”

 

Castiel’s hands flexed against Dean’s back as he squeezed him tighter. “No, don’t go! Please don’t go! I  just…can I just take a shower? Can we do that? I feel so dirty.”

 

 Dean nodded. “Absolutely. Let’s go inside, okay?”

 

He helped Castiel out of the car and led him up the stairs into the master bathroom where he turned on the shower and got it to just the right temperature for Castiel. Turning back to the bedroom, Dean pulled out Castiel’s favorite pair of boxers—that just happened to be Dean’s—and his soft vintage Zeppelin shirt that Cas seemed to like so much. He intended to leave the clothes on the vanity, but found Castiel leaning against it, still clothed, head bowed, hands pressed over Beckett.

 

 

“Hey,” Dean said quietly, opening the door wide and standing before his mate. “You want me to help?”

 

Castiel nodded, one lone tear streaking down his pale cheek. Dean moved into his space, taking hold of the hem of his shirt and pulling it up as Castiel lifted his arms. Dean carefully removed all of Castiel’s clothes, and then his own, then pulled his mate into the warm spray of water. He didn’t need Pam’s reminder to not have sex for two weeks. There was nothing sexual about this. He was taking care of his mate, grooming him, showing him how much he cared and loved and treasured him.

 

Castiel’s hair curled around Dean’s fingers as he soaped it up and Castiel’s arms curled around his shoulders as he rinsed him off. Dean just held him close, using the detachable head to make sure no shampoo was leftover before turning off the water and practically carrying Castiel out of the shower to dry him off. Dean dressed them both and led Castiel to bed where they both curled up under the duvet. Castiel curled against Dean, his wet hair leaving a damp patch against Dean’s shoulder, but he didn’t care. Just having him there was perfect.

 

Dean grabbed the remote to the TV and turned on the Dr. Sexy MD marathon that seemed to run every day on Lifetime. Before too long, he and Castiel were lost in Miranda Bentley’s storyline, about how she became a sexy-but-conflicted ER nurse after losing her fiancé (who also happened to be a half-cousin) to a horrific car fire five years prior.

 

“She didn’t know he was her cousin,” Castiel yawned.

 

“But she feels responsible for his death because the skin she donated to him after the discovery was rejected,” Dean pointed out.

 

“Dean, this is a ridiculous show.”

 

“I know. It’s awesome.”

 

“You just like Dr. Sexy.”

 

 Dean kissed Castiel’s forehead and nuzzled along his temple. “He’s nothing compared to you, sweetheart.”

 

“Perhaps I should invest in some cowboy boots.”

 

 “I wouldn’t tell you no.”

 

 

~*~*~*~

 

The next morning, after a sleepless night haunted by dark dreams about Crowley, Castiel rose early, trying hard to not disturb Dean, who was currently in wolf form, stretched out at the foot of the bed, because Castiel seemed to react less violently to him that way, and went downstairs to make breakfast. It was a tiny thing that he wanted to do, a way to get a small piece of his life back.

 

Sinking into the usual routine of cooking, Castiel scrubbed a couple of potatoes clean then cubed them small, then diced an onion and cut up several pieces of bacon. The hash came together rather quickly and when it was done, he stuck it in the oven to keep warm while he carefully poached two eggs each. As he was plating, Dean came lumbering into the kitchen, yawning, stretching, and naked as the day he was born.

 

“Smells great, sweetheart,” he yawned, pulling Castiel against his chest from behind and kissing his neck. “Mmmm…you smell great, too…”

 

Castiel stiffened without meaning to. Dean’s hands and body felt great against him, but he still felt closed in, held down, and he still remembered Crowley touching him, and even though Dean’s touch was nothing like that, being crowded against the counter made him think of it.

 

“Oh, shit, sorry…” Dean was still half-asleep, but all he could think about was Castiel’s comfort. It made Castiel feel even worse.

 

“It’s okay, Dean. Here,” he turned around, moving them just a bit so that he was no longer backed against the counter, then kissed Dean. “Better, see?”

 

Dean rubbed the backs of his fingers over Castiel’s cheek. “All better.” He looked down at himself, then gave a tight-lipped smile. “Maybe I should put some clothes on?”

 

“Don’t put yourself out on account of me. If you can take it, I can.”

 

Dean looked smug for a second before he frowned. “Man! You have to get all flirty with me when Pam’s put a sex embargo on us! Look at me, man! My body wants you even when my brain knows a werecougar is out there willing to castrate me with a spork if I so much as jack off to memories of you!”

 

Castiel chuckled and gave him another kiss. “Look, go put on some shorts, I’ll bring breakfast up to you, and if you feel the urge for some alone time in the shower after we eat, I won’t hold it against you.”

 

Dean turned away, mumbling something about what he’d really like Castiel to hold against him. Castiel let out a shaky sigh and finished plating up the breakfast, then put everything on a tray with a carafe of coffee and some mugs and went upstairs.

 

When Dean was in the shower, Castiel went to the kitchen on the pretense of cleaning up his mess, but really, he wanted to call Miss Clarke about the nightmares. He couldn’t imagine another night spent like the previous one.

 

Thankfully, Miss Clarke answered her phone and actually sounded like she had been expecting his call.

 

“How’d it go last night?”

 

Castiel sighed. “Terrible. I had nightmares all night, and I kept hitting Dean, even when he wasn’t touching me. And the sheets felt like restraints.”

 

“Well, dreams are how the brain processes information, so it’s only natural that your subconscious is processing your ordeal using your dreams. Nightmares are just an extension of that. You’ve been through a lot, Castiel. Talking to me once isn’t going to magically cure all of this. It could take weeks, even months or years for you to fully begin trusting people again. You were the victim of a violent crime.”

 

“But I don’t know what to do!” Castiel felt very frustrated. “I thought if I just got home where everything is normal and the people I love are, I’d start feeling better, and I feel worse!”

 

“Listen, recovery from these sorts of psychological trauma can go two steps forward and one step back. There’s no real textbook for this since every person is different and will process the situation in their own way. It could be that in your home, surrounded by the familiar and the love of your pack, you finally felt safe enough to let go and feel the fear your body’s been wanting to feel all this time. Regardless, you have to go through it, just like everything else in this world.”

 

“I’ve already been through it, though. Over and over, and I can’t stop sometimes.”

 

“That’s also perfectly normal. You will relive it from time to time. How are you doing on forgiving yourself? Have you done the exercise yet?”

 

“The Exercise” was that Castiel was supposed to look at himself in the mirror and tell himself over and over that it wasn’t his fault. He hadn’t even been able to get past the looking at himself part of it yet.

 

“Not yet. Last night, I just wanted to…” Castiel sighed. “I just wanted Dean to hold me. I watched some stupid show with him most of the day. I didn’t want to stop touching him, and then I spent the entire night having nightmares and trying to attack him in my sleep.” He rubbed his hand over his face. “What’s wrong with me?”

 

“Nothing’s wrong with you, Castiel!” Miss Clarke assured him. “You’re actually doing remarkably well, and you have an excellent support system. Your family and your mate will be there for you, so please talk to them, and call me any time. I mean it.”

 

“I will. I just…”

 

“You just what?”

 

“What if…what if it’s too much for Dean? What if he can’t take it?”

 

“What is it that you need to take exactly? What is it that you think is going on around you? Tell me what happened from your perspective.”

 

Castiel sighed and looked up, realizing that Dean was standing in the doorway, just staring at him. “I was kidnapped,” Castiel said. “I was tricked into walking into a house, and I was attacked—“

 

“Wait, back up,” Miss Clark interrupted. “Okay, you were tricked into walking into a house. Was there any reason you shouldn’t have walked into the house?”

 

Castiel hit the speaker button so Dean could hear her too. “No, there was no reason for me not to.”

 

“So there weren’t any dark and gloomy trees outside, headstones or yellow police tape, chalk outlines of former dead bodies to scare you off?”

 

Dean put his arms around Castiel and kissed his temple. “No, there weren’t.”

 

“How did the house look, then? Painted black with cobwebs and bats hanging off of the porch roof?”

 

Castiel actually laughed. “No, it was just a normal looking house.”

 

“So you walked into a normal, average, everyday-looking house in a neighborhood that was all run down and full of shifty members of society?”

 

“It was a normal neighborhood. It was just…it was just a house on a street.”

 

“No screams of pain coming from the basement? No crack pipes broken on the walkway?”

 

“Just a house,” Castiel confirmed.

 

“I see. So there was no reason you can think of that you shouldn’t have gone into the house? Was your friend behaving oddly?”

 

“No. He seemed…happy. Excited.” Castiel realized why Ajay had seemed so excited. Ajay was about to deliver something wonderful to his master. He was probably hoping to be rewarded. “I just walked right in.”

 

“Don’t do this to yourself, sweetheart,” Dean murmured, kissing him. “It’s okay.”

 

“Is that Dean?”

 

Dean looked up. “Uh, yeah. Sorry, but I’m here too.”

 

“No, that’s good, Dean. You’re going to be a part of Castiel’s recovery, so you should be privy to some of this. Tell me, would you have advised Castiel to not go with Ajay into the house?”

 

“No. I wanted…I wanted him to have a friend. I would have encouraged him to go.”

 

“Would you have blamed Dean, Castiel, if he had encouraged you to go inside?”

 

“No! Of course not,” Castiel said immediately.

 

Miss Clarke let him think that over for several moments. “So why do you keep blaming yourself?”

 

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I just feel that…there had to be something I overlooked!”

 

“But there wasn’t,” she reminded him. “People don’t come with nametags and ingredients printed on the outsides. If all villains had twirly moustaches and tophats, the world would be a less dangerous place. Unfortunately, villains look kind and caring, like friends and lovers. You don’t know usually until it’s too late. Your job today, Castiel, and for as many days as it takes, is to come to grips with the fact that there was nothing you did that day to cause this to happen. I want you to say it to yourself, to Dean, to anyone else, that the way you behaved was rational and normal for the circumstance. Do it right now.”

 

Castiel looked down at his shoes until Dean tipped a finger under his chin. “Tell me, Cas. Tell me it was a normal thing to do.”

 

“I…I followed Marc—Ajay—into his house because it was…”

 

Dean nodded in an encouraging manner.

 

“It was a rational and normal thing…fuck!” Castiel had been shaking as he was talking, but then he suddenly started to collapse as his breathing became more and more erratic. Thankfully, Dean’s strong arms were there to hold him upright.

 

“Hey, Doc, um…sorry, but this might be cut short,” Dean said into the phone. “Yeah. Uh huh. No, I know that….right. Well, yes, Pam has…uh huh. Right. Just tell me what I can do…”

 

Listening to Dean’s one-sided conversation was helping to calm Castiel’s nerves. He buried his face in Dean’s shoulder and inhaled his warm solidity.

 

“Okay, Doc. I’ll do that. Yeah. Okay. Thanks, I’ll call you later, or Cas will. Bye-bye.”

 

Dean pressed the “END” button and tucked the phone into Castiel’s pocket, then put both arms around Castiel and kissed him soundly. “I love you, sweetheart, and I’m so sorry this horrible thing happened to you. I’m here, and I will listen to anything you say.”

 

Castiel stared up at Dean in amazement. “What the fuck happened to you?”

 

Dean snorted. “Doc said I should tell you that. I should have told her I can’t do chick flick moments.” Dean took Castiel’s hand and led him to the living room and cuddled on the sofa with him. “Look, I suck at this touchy-feely crap, but I do love you, and we are going to get through this together no matter what.”

 

Castiel’s heart twisted. He really hoped so, but for as much as he loved Dean no matter what, he still felt guilty and stupid, and he kept thinking that no matter what, Dean would lose interest soon. He felt it was just an inevitable thing. Especially since they couldn’t have sex for two weeks.

 

As though he could hear his thoughts, Dean leaned over and kissed him again. “Stop thinking whatever it is you’re thinking. I love you.”

 

“I love you too, Dean.”

 

He remembered something Miss Clarke had said the day before, when he had expressed concern that Dean wouldn’t continue to love him. “Castiel, love isn’t a bank where you can only spend what you deposit. It’s more like a fountain or a river—sure, there can be droughts, but there can also be times when it’s overflowing. Most of the time, though, regardless of what’s going on around it, it just flows constantly.” He had to try and believe that was true.

 

 

~*~*~*~

“Dad, you can do this.”

 

Chuck stared at the number. “What do I say?”

 

Anna put her arms around his shoulders and kissed his cheek. “You always know what to say. Always. You’ll know what to say now.”

 

Chuck sighed and picked up his phone. On the other end, a secretary answered very pleasantly.

 

“Um, hello. Hi. This is, uh…Chuck. Novak. I’m, um…” he swallowed. “I’m the Assistant Sheriff of Douglas County, Kansas. I need to speak with Mr. Chandra Kumar please?”

 

Mr. Kumar picked up almost immediately. “Hello, this is Kumar. Tell me, please, what is this all regarding?”

 

Chuck looked up at Anna, who had taken a seat on his desk, facing him. “Uh…Mr. Kumar…your son Ajay is, uh…”

 

“Oh god! Oh god, tell me he’s not dead!” Mr. Kumar cried. “Please!”

 

“No, no, he’s not uh…he tried to kill himself, but he didn’t succeed, sir.”

 

“Where are you? Where did you say you were?”

 

“Douglas County, Kansas,” Chuck repeated. “Um, sir, there are some things you should know.”

 

“My son is alive, officer. My son is alive. I don’t care…I don’t care about anything else. My boy…Please tell me Gavin McLeod, the wolf who calls himself Crowley, is locked up. Tell me!”

 

Chuck swallowed. “He’s dead, sir.”

 

There was silence on the other end. Chuck couldn’t even hear Mr. Kumar breathe.

 

“Um, Mr. Kumar?”

 

“Did…” his voice cracked. “Did Ajay kill Crowley?” he whispered.

 

“No. He…he’s done a few other things, but the DA hasn’t decided about pressing charges yet because of some extenuating circumstances.”

 

“Please, sir, just tell me where he is. I don’t care what he’s done, he’s still my son, and he’s alive, and…”

 

Chuck licked his lips and took Anna’s hand, tears pricking at his eyes. Anna was already crying. “He’s at Saint Benedict’s hospital. I’ll let them know that you’ll be coming to see him. And, uh…you’ll probably want to talk to me. Let me give you my number so that when you come, we can talk.”

 

“Of course,” he said. “Of course, you’ll probably need a statement from me. Sir, my son was a good boy. I don’t know what Crowley did to him, but he was a good boy.”

 

“He still is, sir. He…Crowley wouldn’t be dead without him. He helped. In the end.” The only answer was sniffles on the other end. “Look, just get here, okay? We’ll talk more when you get here.”

 

“Yes, I…yes. Thank you.”

 

Chuck hit “END” and looked up at Anna. “Well”

 

“You did great, Dad. Really great.”

 

He leaned on the desk with both elbows and rubbed his face with his hands. “Oh, Anna.”

 

She leaned over him and rubbed her chin against the back of his head. “We’ll be okay, Dad.”

 

He lifted his head and took her hand. “I know, Bear. How’re you holding up?”

 

“I’m doing better since I yelled at poor Ajay. I’m so worried about Cas, Dad. He’s so…broken.”

 

“Cas has Dean,” Chuck said. “He’ll help get him through this.”

 

Anna gave Chuck a shrewd look. “Cas has Dean, I have Inias, Lucie has Bal, Gabe sort of has Sam, and Michael has Maris so he says. Who do you have, Dad? I worry about you.” 

 

“You know me, Annie Bear. I just worry about you pups.”

 

“Dad, don’t…” she squeezed his hand. “Don’t put on a brave face. I know you must be hurting for your son, and if you need to talk…I know I’m not Mom, but I am me, and I do care.”

 

Chuck rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand. “You know, you’re nothing like her. She was all manic energy and intense, controlled…” he chuckled. “…insanity. You’re my steady rock. You’re my girl.”

 

“What’s going to happen to Ajay, Dad?”

 

“That I don’t know. He’s accessory to kidnapping, but he was a victim himself and was only reacting to being gaslighted by Crowley. I’m sure his mental health will play a large part in how the DA decides to proceed.”

 

“He could have been Castiel,” Anna said quietly. “It could have been my brother who was tortured and brainwashed into kidnapping some poor other pup. Dad…we have to—“

 

“No,” Chuck said evenly. “No, we can’t get involved. Our position here at the Sheriff’s office dictates—“

 

“Bullshit, Dad.”

 

Chuck huffed. “He’s my boy, Anna, and he’s your brother. We don’t get involved.”

 

“You’re better than this,” she whispered.

 

Chuck considered this. “Not right now I’m not. Ask me again in a week.” He hated to let her down. He tried to give his children everything they needed, and this was one of the few times he was going to deny her.

 

“Okay,” she nodded. “Okay.”

 

“Okay?”

 

Anna leaned down and kissed him. “Okay, Dad. I know you. I know you’ll make the right decision in the end. 

Chapter Text

It was a different sort of damage that Dean had to deal with. There were no broken bones, no open wounds. Just a beautiful, hurt, completely internalized Castiel who seemed to float like a pale ghost through the cottage. In a way, he reminded Dean a lot of the wolf who came to him all those months ago, the one that had just found out he was an Omega. Just like then, Castiel had moments of feisty playfulness sandwiched around moments of pure despondency.

 

The Omega counselor, Miss Clarke, was adamant that this was a normal thing. She warned him to be careful about how physical he became with Castiel, to not crowd him or hold him down, and above all, to not push sex in any way, plus there was the sex embargo imposed by Pam. So when Castiel saw Dean lying on the sofa and sat down next to him to give him a kiss, Dean didn’t try to deepen the kiss too far. He simply slid his tongue just inside Castiel’s lips, just enough to taste and invite, tamping down his Alpha’s need for more. When Castiel slid his hands under Dean’s shirt and explored the planes of Dean’s stomach, he didn’t hold him too tightly or try to grind against him, he just waited to see what he would do.

 

And when Castiel moved on top of him and lay down with him, nuzzling into Dean’s shoulder and letting Beckett rest against his hip, he was adamant that he would not feel disappointed, he would take the moment for what it was. When something nudged just barely against him, though, he looked down at Castiel.

 

Castiel was looking back at him. “Did you feel that?”

 

Dean just stared at him. “Was that..?”

 

Castiel smiled. “She’s saying hi.”

 

Whoever was dusting in the cottage was doing a piss poor job of it. Really. “Holy shit.”  He felt the nudge again and gasped. “My gods…”

 

Castiel sat up just a bit. “Are you crying?”

 

Dean shook his head, too choked up to say anything else, and pulled Castiel against him. Two weeks ago, he thought he was going to lose them both, and now here they were, both in his arms, and he could finally feel his daughter, pushing up against him, alive and vibrant and…

 

“I love you so much, sweetheart. Fuck.” He gulped in a few breaths, holding Castiel as tight as he dared.

 

Castiel kissed his chin. “We love you too, Dean.”

 

Dean directed Castiel’s head back to his chest, both of them quietly waiting for Beckett to give another kick, talking softly to each other.

 

“You’re going to spoil her rotten, I can tell already.”

 

Dean smiled. “There was never any doubt of that. Look at what a pushover I am with you.”

 

He could feel Castiel’s answering smile against his chest. “You’re right. You give me everything I could ever dream of.”

 

And just like that, the melancholy was back.

 

Dean gave his shoulder a little shake. “Hey, what’s going on? Talk to me.” He started to run his fingers through Castiel’s hair the way he liked it, all soft with a little drag of nail at the scalp. “What is it?”

 

“Nothing. Nothing. You have been so good to me, and I…I threw it away on some pipe dream of having the perfect male Omega best friend. I was selfish and—“

 

“If you call yourself stupid, I swear to the gods I will take you over my knee.”

 

Castiel looked up sharply at that. “Dean?”

 

“No, seriously, you are not stupid. You are smart and awesome and great. You wanted an Omega friend because you knew he’d help get you through in the times that none of us understand what you’re going through. It wasn’t stupid. It was smart.”

 

Castiel started to sit up and Dean sat up with him. “He had me kidnapped…”

 

Dean grabbed his face with both hands, hoping he wouldn’t set him off on some PTSD regression, but he had to deal with tis the way he knew how. “He was brainwashed by a master torturer, Cas. But he…Jesus, I wasn’t going to say anything, but. He was your friend. He was your friend in the end, wasn’t he?”

 

Castiel was perfectly still, not trying to shake Dean off. He licked his lips and looked down. “What are you talking about?”

 

“He cut you free. He let you loose, didn’t he?”

 

“How did you…I haven’t said anything…”

 

Dean pulled Castiel close, cradling his head against his shoulder. “He told your sister and Inias what happened.” Dean pulled him closer, holding him a little tighter. “He…I wasn’t going to tell you this yet, but…he tried to kill himself.”

 

Castiel gasped and held Dean tighter also. “Because he helped me?”

 

Dean stroked his hair, trying to be soothing. “No. Not because he helped you. Because he hurt you.”

 

Castiel moved away and looked up at him, tears swimming in his blue eyes. “But he helped me kill Crowley.”

 

Dean pulled him close again, resting his cheek against Castiel’s forehead. “Yeah. Because he couldn’t do to you what was done to him.” Dean sighed. “I wish you would have told me about that. It was a surprise when Anna told me.”

 

Castiel fisted Dean’s shirt and sniffed. “I didn’t know what to make of it. I had been asking him…to let me go…and I told him I loved you and only you. I didn’t know it got through to him until he cut me free.”

 

“He was your friend, Castiel. He put you ahead of Crowley. Whatever happened, whatever way he was tortured or brainwashed, you have to know that he liked you and thought you were a good person. He sacrificed for you because to him you were worth it in some way.” Dean kissed his head. “You’re worth it, sweetheart. You’re worth so much to me, and to everyone around you. We all love you and care about you. None of us blames you. I want to help. But I don’t know how.”

 

“I don’t either,” he admitted.

 

~*~*~*~

 

When one week had passed since the incident, Castiel decided that he had to get on with his life, or just give up. Just like when he found out he was an Omega, he decided to keep trucking along. And, he reasoned, look how well it turned out. Sure, Crowley tried to kidnap and torture him into complete and total submission, but that was just a little speedbump in the road that was his and Dean’s journey.

 

At least, that was what he was telling himself. It got him through the last time. Well, until he had the nervous breakdown. But it got him through! And it would get him through again.

 

His resolve wavered when Lucifer and Balthazar left that Sunday. He hugged his brother tightly, wishing he could keep him there, wishing there was a place for him to fit in with either the Winchester or Singer packs, but he knew Lucifer had built a life in Boston.

 

Balthazar was almost harder to let go of. He was one of Castiel’s Thetas now, one of his own.

 

“Cheer up, darling. I’ll see you again,” Balthazar promised, kissing him on the cheek. “Can’t get rid of me now, anyway, since I’m with Lu.”

 

“Keep up with your yoga,” Castiel admonished. “Eat right, no more fast food. I don’t care how good the beer battered fish and chips are at the Irish pubs in Boston. And steer clear of the clam chowder, that stuff is loaded with triglycerides.”

 

Balthazar laughed and kissed his other cheek. “That’s my Cassie. Don’t worry a bit. I intend to watch my figure, or Lucifer might stop watching it, eh?”

 

His bright, impish smile made Castiel grin back. “I’ve seen the way he watches it. You two should be locked up away from each other and other people that have to look at you.”

 

Balthazar laughed again. “Join the club. Have you seen the way Dean looks at you? Positively indecent. And you don’t fool anyone with those big, blue, innocent eyes. I’ve heard you talking all filthy despite how sweet and clean your mouth is.”

 

They both laughed, but then grew somber. “I’m going to really miss you, Bal.”

 

“Yeah. But fear not. Your Dean has promised to visit, but only on the condition we rent him a bouncy castle.”

 

“I really don’t want to know,” Castiel moaned. “Great absent gods, I really don’t want to know.”

 

Dean came over and put his arm possessively around Castiel, smiling at Balthazar. “If you guys don’t leave now, you’re never getting out of here. This one has a plan to keep you, and I’m not sure I disagree with it.”

 

Castiel set his arm around Dean’s waist, holding onto Dean’s belt loop. They held each other as Balthazar drove Lucifer off in his little Metropolitan, the entire pack out on the graveled driveway to wave them off.

 

Then Dean pulled Castiel into his arms and kissed his tears. “I know, sweetheart. I know.” Dean’s cheeks were wet, too, but Castiel didn’t comment on them.

 

“They were there when I needed them most.”

 

“They always will be, too.”

 

“Hey, come on, Brozo! You’ve still got me and Sammy!” Gabriel said, clapping Castiel on the back.

 

Castiel turned to his brother and the comfort he offered. “Yes, and Michael will be staying another week as well.”

 

Gabriel snorted, ruffling Castiel’s already messy hair. “Yeah, Mikey’s so warm and cuddly.”

 

Sam engulfed them both in his unnaturally long limbs. “You are both too precious for this world!”

 

“All right, all right!” Dean pulled Castiel out of that particular circle of unending happiness. “Paws off my mate, boys. He’s carrying a pup and is generally nauseous enough as it is on his own.”

 

Gabriel smirked.

 

“Hey, you said it,” Sam muttered.

 

Castiel snickered, which earned him a deep look from Dean. “It’s funny because they’re implying that the act of intercourse is what has caused me to become nauseous,” he whispered.

 

“I know what they’re suggesting, sweetheart. I just like to hear you laugh.”

 

“It feels good to laugh,” Castiel admitted, throwing his arms around Dean’s neck. Dean hugged him back around the waist, practically lifting him up as he did so.

 

“Are they going to start fucking right here on the grass?” Gabriel asked.

 

“If they are, we should go elsewhere,” Sam decided.

 

Dean rolled his eyes, and Castiel felt a pang of guilt because of course they couldn’t have sex for another week at least, and only then if Pam cleared them. Dean didn’t seem upset by the abstinence at all. In fact, he seemed a little too not upset about it.

 

Not that Castiel was ready to have sex yet. He loved Dean still, loved the feel of his hands on his body, loved his kisses and hugs. He remembered what it was like with Dean, the care his mate would give him, how gentle he had become once Castiel had gotten pregnant. He wanted to have that intimacy again, but whenever he really started thinking about Dean touching him like that, he started feeling sick and scared and sometimes he would even start shaking.

 

He wanted Dean, but he didn’t want Dean, and would it kill Dean to maybe try and feel him up again like he had that first morning when he had forgotten himself?

 

Dean grabbed Castiel’s hand and led him back to their cottage. Castiel hugged Dean’s arm, wanting to get back home, for some cuddling and maybe belly kisses if Dean was up for it.

 

“You okay, sweetheart?”

 

Castiel nodded. “I just…I wanna be close to you.”

 

Dean stopped and pulled Castiel into his arms, sliding his hands over his waist, pulling his belly into his own stomach. Castiel ducked under Dean’s chin, pushing into him, loving the feel of his body heat.

 

“I didn’t want Lucifer and Balthazar to leave, either,” Dean whispered. “Come on, let’s go home. As long as you don’t tell Sam, we can snuggle up under that stupid cat  blanket he bought us for Christmas.”

 

Castiel smiled. “I’d never tell Sam about that.” Except he totally did the first time they snuggled under it. “Maybe Dr. Sexy is on TV. If not him, then maybe we can go with my Doctor on Netflix.”

 

Dean linked their fingers together and pulled him along the gravel path. “I don’t know. Your Doctor seems really cute and wolfish, but then he fights all those aliens and does all that running.”

 

“There is a lot of running,” Castiel conceded. “Way more running than you’d think space travel would entail.”

 

“Right?” Dean asked as he ushered Castiel inside. “Space is supposed to be weightless. He and all those chicks should be floating around. And it’s sort of scary too. I mean, all the aliens. You think it’s going to be all quirky and fun, but it’s scary.”

 

Castiel settled himself into Dean’s lap on the sofa and pulled the horrid cat blanket over them. “I’ll hold you if you have nightmares.”

 

Dean leaned in and kissed him. “Who will hold you, though?”

 

Castiel turned on the TV. “Let’s watch The Waters of Mars.”

 

“Yeah, ‘cause that doesn’t sound horrible and frightening.” 

Chapter Text

Castiel glared at his reflection. His jeans, his favorite pair of well-worn, perfectly faded jeans, barely fit up over his thighs, and even with the Be-Band, were simply too small. He had expected his belly to eventually grow too large for his usual clothes, but he hadn’t expected his ass and thighs to follow suit.

 

Since he came home from the hospital, he had mostly been banging around the house in either elastic waist jogging shorts, Dean’s boxers, or sweat pants. He had been steadily gaining weight, just as Pam had suggested, so he supposed it made sense, but it did his vanity few favors.

 

“Hey, sweetheart, we gonna head to the big house for breakfast, or do you want to hang here again?”

 

Castiel turned to his mate, his hands holding his jeans up. “Do these jeans make my pup look big?”

 

Something broke in Dean’s face, and he rushed to pull Castiel to him. “You look so fucking sexy,” he growled, aggressively grabbing at Castiel’s ass and licking his neck. “Got my pup all big inside you.” He surprised Castiel by kissing him passionately, winding his arms around his waist and back, pulling him close.

 

Castiel moaned into the kiss. It had been so long, and Dean had been treating him like some piece of twelfth century Chinese crockery ever since the whole Crowley incident. In his head, Castiel figured that Dean was probably just trying to not torture himself with what he couldn’t have, but it was nice to feel that Dean still wanted him.

 

“You okay?” Dean asked when he lifted his head.

 

“I’m fine, Dean.” Castiel smiled. “That was nice.”

 

“It was nice?” Dean echoed, looking a little hurt.

 

“It was…yes, nice,” Castiel deadpanned. “You know, toe-curling, life-affirmingly nice.”

 

Dean laughed while shaking his head. “I’m not sure what to do with you sometimes.”

 

“So now I feel that it may be a mistake to point out that I don’t really have anything to wear.”

 

Dean actually leered. “Naked is good,” he offered before dropping to his knees. “Hey, Busy Bee, you making your daddy fat?” He pressed kisses to Castiel’s protruding belly and peeled his jeans down.

 

“Don’t encourage her, I have enough crazy cravings without you giving her inspiration.”

 

Dean smiled and nuzzled just to the left of Castiel’s belly button. “Don’t worry, Beckett. I’ll still go out for marshmallow fluff and spread it on top of his cornbread for you.”

 

Castiel let out a little groan, because dang, that sounded good. “With peanut butter?” he murmured, stroking Dean’s hair.

 

Dean shrugged. “If that’s how you want it.”

 

“Would you eat it with me?”

 

Dean laughed. “I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole, but I’d watch you…” he stopped himself. “Come on, you should get dressed. We can go buy you some actual maternity clothes after breakfast.”

 

 Castiel wanted to ask Dean what he was going to say, but decided not to. Just a few weeks earlier, he would have pursued the chance to flirt and maybe distract Dean for a few hours, but until Pam cleared them, he didn’t want to tease him, especially when he couldn’t do anything about it. Dean didn’t want to torture himself, and Castiel didn’t want to torture him either.

 

They went to Omega Maternity after breakfast. Castiel was wearing a pair of Dean’s jeans, which were large enough in the hips and thighs to make him feel a little better about himself, even if he needed the band to keep them up since they wouldn’t button over Beckett. The maternity store had a good selection for males, and soon Castiel had several pair of jeans in a cart and was checking out some button-down shirts while Dean was having way too much fun trying to figure out what some of the gadgets were for.

 

“Castiel?”

 

Castiel looked up to find Rachel walking towards him, her mate following behind her with little Esther. Without thinking, Castiel reached out for Dean’s hand, and thankfully his mate was right there by his side, forgetting the breast pump that he had been attaching to just about every body part but his chest.

 

“Hello, Rachel.”

 

Rachel rushed to him and threw her arms around his neck, then sent an apologetic look to Dean when she pulled back. “I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you,” she said. “I wanted to call you, but I was worried it was too soon…I mean, I’m sorry, but we all heard about it.”

 

Castiel nodded. “I figured. I, uh,” he leaned into Dean’s side, “I am actually really happy to see you.”

 

Rachel gave his belly an assessing stare. “How far along?”

 

“Six months.”

 

She nodded. “You were hiding it pretty well.”

 

Castiel nodded. “I wasn’t trying to lie, I just wanted to keep it to myself for a while.”

 

Rachel shrugged that off. “It’s okay, Cas. I didn’t tell anyone for four months. All that matters is that you’re healthy.”

 

Rachel’s mate, a Beta called Aaron, leaned forward and clasped Dean’s hand. “Good to see you again,” he said with a smile.

 

Dean smiled back. “You too. And Esther. Hi, Esther.”

 

The pup had grown shy in the months since they had seen her last, and turned her little blonde head away from Dean’s smiling face to hide in her father’s shoulder. There was a lot of good natured laughing and teasing after that, the pup giving them all something to talk about rather than Castiel and his incident, which Castiel was grateful for.

 

Finally, Dean asked Aaron about the sling he was carting Esther around in, and Aaron suggested they go and check out the gear while Rachel helped Castiel find the clothes he would need to carry him through his last trimester, and soon Castiel was alone with his friend.

 

“Don’t worry, I won’t make you talk about it,” she said, holding up a blue T-shirt to his face. “This is a good color on you.”

 

“I like Dean’s shirts,” he grumbled, pressing a hand to his belly where Dean’s T-shirt was already stretched tight against Beckett.

 

Rachel smiled and reached out a tentative hand, lightly caressing the bump. “I’m about two months along with our second.”

 

Castiel’s eyes widened. “But Esther is just barely a year.”

 

Rachel shrugged. “I haven’t weaned her, either. She eats mostly solids, but she still nurses three times a day. I guess my body just decided I was ready.” She held up a red top to herself. “I didn’t even go into heat.”

 

“Are you happy?” Castiel asked, not even thinking until it was too late what a stupid, intrusive question that was.

 

Thankfully, Rachel smiled, understanding, and accepted his apology. “It’s okay. Yes, I’m happy. Of course I’m happy. Another one. I love being pregnant.” Her smile took on a glow. “It’s a bit soon, but you don’t question blessings, right?”

 

“Right,” he agreed. He figured he may as well buy a few new tops for when Dean’s could no longer contain both him and their daughter. He also needed a light jacket for the spring. “Rachel, how much do you know? About what happened?” 

 

“Not a lot, really. The papers were pretty vague. Just that you were kidnapped and that your kidnapper was killed in the process, and that he was a drug lord.” She laughed. “I’m pretty naïve, I guess, I had no idea we had drug lords here in Lawrence. I mean, that’s Wichita-level stuff, right?”

 

“I think there are drug problems everywhere,” Castiel murmured, finding a green canvas jacket that would suit his needs.

 

“Here,” Rachel said, finding a few nursing tanks. “You’ll need these for when the pup’s born. You are going to feed it yourself, aren’t you?”

 

Castiel nodded. “I guess I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”

 

“It’ll be here before you know it,” Rachel warned. “Come on, I’ll help you out.”

 

They shopped for well over an hour before they even went back to their mates and then shopped some more. At the end, Castiel had both maternity and post-baby clothes, a bassinette that hooked onto the bed for easy midnight feedings, special pillows to help, a pump, but a different one than the one Dean had been playing with, slings, blankets, diapers, sleepers, and an invitation for dinner at Rachel’s house.

 

Dean was excited about the prospect and talked about Aaron and baby Esther nonstop on the way home.

 

“They’re going to have another pup,” Castiel said when Dean paused for air.

 

“I know,” he smiled. “That’s great, right?”

 

Castiel smiled back. “It’s great.” He took Dean’s hand and laced their fingers together. “It’s…it’s perfect.” He slid closer to Dean across the bench seat and kissed his cheek. “It’s great.”

 

 

~*~*~*~

 

In the werewolf hierarchy, Thetas were supposed to be just slightly above Omegas. They weren’t natural leaders like Alphas, or administrators like Betas. They could be impulsive and chaotic, and every now and then completely disloyal. But just as humans are individuals, so too are werewolves, and some Thetas are natural born leaders, some are administrators, and even still, many manage to tamp down their disloyal, chaotic impulses and are forces to be reckoned with.

 

Most of the Thetas in the Winchester pack followed that mold. They were chosen by John and Rufus, and later Gabriel and Sam to be more than just mindless drones in a pack. They obeyed, true, but it wasn’t blind obedience, and it wasn’t always without argument.

 

Missouri Moseley and Ellen Harvelle were two such Thetas that managed to punch through stereotypes and preconceived notions, and every time they did it, it was a thing of beauty to behold. Gabriel loved to watch them keep order in the clubs, especially if someone was getting too drunk, or if there was a guy getting a little too handsy with the clientele.

 

It was a Saturday night, he and Sam were enjoying a lovely beverage at their favorite club, and Lilith was trying to approach them.

 

“Oh, uh-uh, honey,” Missouri said patiently. She was head and shoulders shorter than Lilith, and while she was older, a Theta should not be a match for an Alpha, and Lilith had clearly come into her own in the last few months since Gabriel had laid eyes on her. Then again, Castiel had killed a Beta, and that was supposed to be equally impossible. “You just need to turn tail and move on your way.”

 

“I wish to speak peacefully with the Winchester Betas,” Lilith said again, her voice even, but clearly upset.

 

“Then make a damn appointment and do it the normal way. Not here where people could get hurt.”

 

Lilith rolled her eyes, a huge breach in etiquette, particularly with an elder. “I want to talk, Theta. Not fight. Just talk.”

 

Missouri took a deep breath, clearly ready to keep going, but Gabriel stopped her. “It’s okay, Missouri. If she wants to parley, we’ll parley.”

 

Missouri gave Gabriel a look that clearly said, “Boy, you’re crazy,” but stepped aside. “Your funeral,” she mumbled.

 

Gabriel gave her a smile. “It’s okay, Missouri. We won’t talk long, I promise.”

 

Missouri raised an eyebrow in Sam’s direction. “And what will you tell John?”

 

Gabriel turned to Sam. “Go with Missouri, Sammy.”

 

“No way, I’m staying with you.”

 

“Sammy…”

 

“No, Gabriel. I’m staying with you,” Sam reiterated, taking Gabriel’s hand and squeezing. “What do you want, Lilith?”

 

Lilith sighed. “Your Omega killed my uncle.”

 

“Retribution it is,” Gabriel muttered.

 

“No, not retribution. I owe him thanks. I wish to pay tribute.”

 

“Your unending gratitude is enough. No tribute needed.” Gabriel turned from her. “We done?”

 

“No,” Lilith said. “I’m not done, dumbass. Your family killed a member of my family, I have the right to challenge you.”

 

Gabriel snorted. “My brother was protecting his pup and his mate. You have no grounds and you know it. If you wish to challenge our Alpha, be my guest.” He moved in front of Sam just a bit, trying to shield the giant from Lilith’s notice. He wished Sam hadn’t spoken at all. After how unhinged Crowley turned out to be, Gabriel wasn’t putting anything past Lilith.

 

Lilith sighed. “I don’t wish to challenge him. I am merely stating a fact. You owe me hospitality at the very least. I simply wish to say thank you for what you did for my pack. Crowley was a disease.”

 

“Your pack is a disease,” Sam shot back and Gabriel nearly growled at him.

 

“You want hospitality, I’ll grant it,” Gabriel said, gesturing to a seat. “What would you like to drink? Lemon Drop? Cosmo?”

 

“A cosmo sounds great, Gabriel. Thank you.”

 

Gabriel nodded to Sam who went to the bar for the drink. “Tell me what you really want, Lilith.”

 

“I’m telling the truth,” Lilith insisted, her blue-green eyes wide and serious. “I came without a Theta or my mate to protect me. I just want to talk. That’s all.”

 

Gabriel spread his hands. “So talk.”

 

~*~*~*~

 

It had been four weeks since Castiel had been taken, and Dean was about to crawl out of his skin. He had been patient and kind and understanding. He’d talked to Castiel and Miss Clarke and Ellen, who was offering her advice whether he wanted it or not, and he was trying very hard to not bring up the subject of sex. He wanted Castiel to make the first move, to be the one to initiate. As an Omega, Castiel would never be overt in his advances, but there would be ways that he could initiate within his role. Dean only hoped Cas would do something before his wolf came out.  

 

The few times his wolf had come to the surface and he’d kissed Cas, Cas had been receptive and warm, but then he’d ended the kiss, and Dean took that as a sign to stop and leave him alone. This caused a lot of lonely showers with just Dean and his hand for company, and while he didn’t blame Castiel in the least for it, it was difficult to not look at him and wish for more.

 

Four weeks without sex, four weeks watching Castiel blossom and gain weight and actually start to look pregnant, and here he was, wet from his shower, still turned on because his hand just didn’t cut it the way Castiel did, and he found his mate staring at himself in the full-length mirror, fully naked and round and pale and perfect and Dean just barely had the strength to keep from shoving Cas onto the bed and just rutting into him for a few hours.

 

“Gods be damned,” he grunted, grasping the door frame hard enough to dent the wood. “Fuck, Cas, put on some god-damned clothes!”

 

Castiel jumped and turned, showing how rounded his breasts had become, his belly huge with Beckett. Dean could feel his incisors growing, and the need to claim his mate got stronger. What was worse was that Castiel was actually walking towards him.

 

“Fuck!” Dean groaned, killing the space between them with a few long strides, pulling Cas to him. “Mine,” he growled, hands grasping, caressing the baby bump. “Mine,” he whispered again, his teeth grazing Castiel’s ear.

 

“Yes,” Castiel agreed. “I’m yours. I’m ready, Dean.”

 

Dean started actually shaking. “I can’t…I can’t hurt you,” he moaned, holding onto that little bit of control he had left by a very small, thin thread. “Tie me up, you have to before it’s too late.”

 

Castiel pushed him back onto the bed. “I trust you, Dean. I still trust you.”

 

“Don’t,” he begged, reaching up and grasping the headboard. “I’ll hurt you!”

 

Castiel shook his head and straddled him. “You won’t. You never have.” He angled their dicks together and started to grind. “I trust you, Dean. Trust me.”

 

Dean took a deep breath and nodded. “Okay.” Just the feel of Castiel against him helped, too. It was as though Castiel’s skin was soothing his anxiety and helping him keep a grip on his humanity. “I have to taste you, sweetheart. Please?”

 

Castiel leaned over Dean. “I have to stay on top, Dean. I need that much.”

 

Dean nodded and lifted his hand to Castiel’s long neck. “Okay. I can do that.” 

 

“You can taste me now, Dean. I’m okay.”

 

Dean caressed Castiel’s sides, then brought his hands up to his small breasts, fondling his sensitive nipples lightly, then opened his mouth and licked at Castiel’s neck. He tasted so good, all salty-sweet and earthy and Dean moaned as he sank his teeth into that flesh, not enough to bleed, just enough to mark.

 

Above him, Castiel gasped, gripping his shoulder hard and grinding down more, giving Dean more friction against his knot.

 

“Sweetheart, please, I can’t…don’t tease me now, please!”

 

Castiel sat upright and gripped Dean’s knot, then slowly lowered himself onto it, throwing his head back and moaning as he fully sheathed himself in only three thrusts. Dean gripped his hips, his fingers digging into Castiel’s particularly fleshy ass cheeks, appreciating how much more of them there was since the pregnancy.

 

“Dean, you feel so good.”

 

Dean had to agree. This was great. Castiel was so tight and hot and everything in him wanted to reverse their positions and just pound into him until he was a writhing mess, until his cum spurted all over Dean’s chest two or three times, but he had to stop himself. He was afraid to even thrust upwards, so he let Castiel take complete control and matched his movements to his mate’s.

 

“You’re so hot, Cas. So hot, shit…” he arched his neck and thrust his hips up, trying to stay gentle. “Fuck, sweetheart…you gotta speed up a bit…”

 

“I can’t, I’m too heavy,” Cas panted. “It’s okay, Dean, you can give me more…I’ll tell you if it’s too much, okay?”

 

Dean moved his hands under Castiel’s ass so he was holding him up, taking some of the weight from him. “Better?”

 

Castiel nodded and began to move faster, harder. Dean didn’t mind his weight, he was a strong Alpha and more than able to hold him up. He met Castiel’s movements, thrusting upward hard, wanting his mate to feel him, need him. In answer, Castiel tipped forward and kissed him, nibbling at his lips, licking inside, sucking Dean’s tongue into his mouth. Dean moaned into the kiss and moved one hand back to Castiel’s hip, pushing him back onto his knot.

 

“Tell me,” he whispered between kisses. “Tell me if it’s too much.”

 

“It’s good, it’s good,” Castiel assured him. “Touch me, Dean. Please.”

 

Dean moved his other hand to grip Castiel’s erection and began to stroke in time to his thrusts. He stared at his mate in amazement, wondering how he could be so strong after such a terrible thing happened to him.

 

“You’re so great, Cas,” he groaned, feeling his stomach muscles tighten. “You’re so amazing, sweetheart…fuck…come on, sweetheart…come on…”

 

Castiel thrust hard into Dean’s hand as Dean thrust into him, and then he came hot and wet between them, pushing Dean over the edge as he closed even tighter around him. Dean didn’t care too much about his own release, however, he was too busy watching Castiel’s face, mesmerized by the way his eyes closed, his mouth opened, and the deep, keening moan he let out. Dean gasped and reached up to caress Castiel’s face, somehow not surprised when Cas flinched just a bit.

 

“Sorry,” Dean murmured.

 

Castiel fell forward and nuzzled his cheek. “Don’t be. It’s okay.” He rolled off and ran a hand over his belly. “Don’t be sorry. I’m okay.”

 

Dean reached for his hand and they threaded their fingers together. “You sure you’re okay?”

 

“I’m sure. I’m okay. I’m fine.” Castiel breathed deeply. “That was good.”

 

Dean turned to him. “You sound surprised.”

 

“I was afraid that I wouldn’t be okay. That, I don’t know…I’d freak out in the middle of it and let you down. But I didn’t.”

 

Dean propped himself up on one elbow and ran the back of his finger over Castiel’s cheek. “It would have been okay if you did. You wouldn’t have let me down.”

 

Those blue eyes turned to Dean, nearly electric in his afterglow. “I think that’s why I didn’t freak out. Because I knew you’d be okay with it. I knew you wouldn’t be angry or disappointed, and…I don’t know. I guess…I guess I trust you.”

 

Dean felt his heart swell at that. “I’m glad you trust me. I don’t ever want you to be afraid of me, or for you to think that I’d hurt you. I wouldn’t. Not on purpose. And if you ever need to stop, you just tell me to stop. I swear to you that I’ll stop.”

 

Castiel moved so that he was cuddled against Dean’s side. “I know. That’s why I trust you.”

 

~*~*~*~

 

John was displeased. With Sam, with Gabriel, with Missouri. With himself.

 

“Did she say what she wanted?”

 

Gabriel shrugged. “She wanted to thank us. She says she doesn’t want retribution.”

 

Missouri humphed. “I’ll believe that when I see it.”

 

“Me too,” John agreed. “She may have hated him, he may have been usurping her power, but he was still family. I might not like Uncle Mort very much, but he’s still my uncle.”

 

Gabriel shrugged that off. “Look, we all knew the pack would still be a threat, even without Crowley. I just hoped that maybe they’d flounder a bit before they picked back up again, and by that time, Inias might be closer to shutting them down.”

 

Sam put a hand on Gabriel’s shoulder and Gabriel visibly relaxed at that. “Inias is working hard,” Sam reminded him. “Without Crowley, the Thetas and Omegas they had employed are in the wind and Eve appears to not be taking care of them as Crowley had.”

 

Gabriel nodded. “It’s clear that Lilith will not, she feels that she’s the one who should be cared for.”

 

John frowned. “Then she is not a very good Alpha.”

 

“I think we’re counting on that fact,” Gabriel agreed.

 

“I want to see her,” John said. “I’ll meet with her. Set it up, Gabriel.”

 

“Sir, with respect…”

 

John turned to him sharply. “Don’t sir me, with or without respect,” he said lowly, not quite a growl but close enough. “I’m not going to allow another incident to happen like the last one. If I have to call the whole clan out and fight them myself, I will.” John still felt like a failure for the Castiel incident. If he had perhaps done more, something different, it might not have ended the way it did.

 

Gabriel cleared his throat. “Okay, tell me where you want to meet.” 

Chapter Text

It took about three visits for Rachel to get the entire story from Castiel, and when he finally told her about how he killed Crowley and Dean managed to bring him back to himself before he lost Beckett.

 

“You’re amazing,” Rachel whispered. She wasn’t overly in awe, she was simply trying to keep from waking Esther.

 

“Sometimes I think I’m the biggest idiot to ever walk the earth,” Castiel admitted.

 

Rachel put her arm around him and gave him a squeeze. “You’re brave and wonderful.”

 

“That’s what Dean says.”

 

“Hm. And Dean’s never wrong, is he?”

 

This got a smile from Castiel. “No, never. Just ask him.”

 

“Castiel, you need to tell your story.”

 

His heart clenched. “No, no, I…”

 

“You could write about it.”

 

Castiel just shook his head. Talking about his experience with his friends and family was difficult enough, but sharing it with the world at large would be torture.

 

Rachel sighed. “Please think about it. There are a lot of Omegas out there who could learn a lot from hearing about your ordeal. And the rest of the world needs to understand that we’re more than just baby makers and fuck toys.”

 

They both looked over at Esther to make sure she slept through the swearing.

 

“Rachel, I just don’t want to…put myself out there like that. You know it would create a lot of controversy, especially since I killed the Beta, not my mate. I’d get death threats, and on top of everything else that happened to me, I just don’t think I could take that. I just want to live a quiet, normal life with Dean and our pups.”

 

Rachel didn’t argue. She nodded. “Well, I’m just putting it out there.”

 

Castiel told Dean later that night about what Rachel had suggested . Dean was holding him tight, one hand buried in his hair, the other planted against Beckett, who was particularly active. He kissed his temple and gave him a nuzzle as his hand tightened at Castiel’s stomach just a bit. “If you want to put your story out there do it. I told you I would support anything you want to do, and I mean it.”

 

Castiel smiled and turned to Dean for a proper kiss. When they broke apart, Castiel said, “I don’t want to.”

 

“Then you don’t,” was all Dean would say.

 

~*~*~*~

 

John was a difficult wolf to please, it was true. He didn’t think he was unreasonable about it, however, which was why he felt no reason to hide his distaste for Eve and her pack at their meeting.

 

The female Alpha was pretty in a “Girl Next Door” sort of way that Sam usually found attractive, but did little for himself and Dean. Large brown eyes, clear peaches-and-cream skin, soft light brown hair, and always a serene, unbreakable expression on her face. Really, Lilith’s perpetual petulance was preferable.

 

“John Winchester,” Eve said in her even, unemotional voice. “It is so nice to finally meet you. I must give you my thanks, for your son has killed the man who murdered my husband.”

 

“Yeah, well, you could have challenged him yourself and spared my family a lot of heartache,” John snapped back. “What do you want?” It was odd, but her serenity was making him angrier.

 

“I wanted to thank you. Is that so odd?”

 

“Why didn’t you kill your brother-in-law when you had the chance?”

 

Eve gave him that Mona Lisa smile that he wanted to rip off her face. “My Thetas and Omegas are my children. Crowley took good care of them, and as their mother, I couldn’t take that away from them. I have yet to find a Beta as organized as Crowley, so I have not seen fit to replace him.”

 

Lilith made a face at her mother. Clearly, the daughter disagreed.

 

“If he had killed my mate, I would not have allowed him to live another minute,” John growled. Behind him, Gabriel laid a hand on his shoulder.

 

They had agreed to meet at the old library in town, which had been abandoned when a new, modern building had been erected. The old library was a protected historical landmark, but nothing else had been done with the place, so it was perfect for whenever the various were-packs and clans needed neutral territory. There was no more electricity, heating or cooling, but there were still tables and chairs, and it was comfortable for the werefolk.

 

“We have different end games, John Winchester,” Eve murmured drowsily. “I do not expect you to understand my methods, just as I will likely never understand yours.”

 

“Your Thetas are floundering and directionless, your Omegas are sick and wasting away. Crowley was the only thing holding your pack together. What sort of Alpha are you?” John wondered.

 

“I’m not the sort to micromanage,” Eve said dismissively. “It is true that I relied on Crowley. Perhaps too much. It is not a mistake I will make again. But I am currently without a Beta, and they are what is needed to ensure the proper running of a pack. Your son has deprived me of my Beta, and I expect some sort of help from you because of that.”

 

John scoffed. “You honestly think I would help you continue your drug selling?”

 

That smile came back. “I sell so much more than drugs, John Winchester. My pack provides a useful service for the were community. I care for those who buy from me.”

 

“Yeah, you’re doing a great job of it. There are four Omegas and six Thetas in the hospital, and two Thetas died yesterday. There are probably going to be more deaths because whatever you put in your drugs is so addictive and causes such dependency that breaking them of the habit is nearly impossible. You call this caring for them?”

 

Eve shrugged. “Each parent has their own methods of inciting loyalty, obedience, love and caring. My monsters do what must be done in order to make sure my pack will give back to me.”

 

John stood up. “I really don’t have anything to say to you, Eve. I am sorry you lost your Beta, but my boy just did what you should have done when he killed your mate. I will not help you find a new Beta. I will not be a party to drug dealing or using.”

 

“So you refuse to pay recompense.”

 

John spun on her. “Your Beta kidnapped my pregnant son-in-law. I have the right to wage war on your entire pack, and the fact that they are directionless at this moment means that I would rip you to shreds. Your recompense is that I am not going to do that very thing.”

 

“So be it.”

 

“Mother!” Lilith exclaimed, no longer able to contain herself. “Don’t let him do this!”

 

“Hush, Lilith. You know nothing of these matters.”

 

Lilith tossed her pretty blonde hair. “I know enough. If you will not take care of the pack, then I will.”

 

John pulled Gabriel out the door. “Do whatever you like, just leave us out of it.”

 

They went back to the Winchester territory and met Anna and Inias in Gabriel’s study.

 

“Well?” Gabriel asked.

 

Inias shrugged. “We’ll do what we can. She’s admitted that they make drugs and sell them, but…I’m not sure if it’s enough. I’ll talk to the DA about it. We may need more.”

 

“I don’t want to meet with them again,” John said. “I don’t trust them.”

 

“They’re going to be around whether you want them there or not,” Anna reasoned. “But at least they aren’t making a big deal that it was Castiel who killed Crowley. Some Alphas get weird about that.”   

 

Anna and Inias left shortly after that, leaving Gabriel and John to each other.

 

“People would never believe it,” Gabriel reasoned. “If the truth got out that an Omega killed a Beta? It’s supposed to be unheard of.”

 

John snorted. “Except for the fact that I’ll kill anyone in the McLeod pack who approaches Castiel, I sort of hope they would try and underestimate him again, just so they can see how wrong they are about Omegas.”

 

Gabriel sat down at his desk. “What made you think that Omegas are more than what society calls them?”

 

John sighed. “My Mary was an Omega. From the Campbell pack. She was…incredible. Smart, funny, sweet. Just like Castiel. So much more than the labels that have been put on her. Just like Castiel. I was…sort of arrogant before I met Mary.” At Gabriel’s snort, John amended, “And I still am, I know, but…it was so much worse. I thought I was getting some sweet little wife, and it turned out that I was getting so much more. We fought so much that first year. And then Dean was born, and I realized that I had an obligation to teach him that prejudice was wrong. So I told him that Alphas are the heads, but Omegas are the brains.”

 

“It’s true,” Gabriel shrugged. “Pretty much anyone has a better brain than an Alpha, but viewing an Omega as an actual person? That’s pretty deep, John.”

 

John turned to leave. “Let me know if I have to meet with them again.”

 

Gabriel nodded. “Sure, John.”

 

John went back to his office, a guilty feeling settling to the pit of his stomach. He usually could work around it, but it never went away. He could always remember the feel of soft skin, the look of hurt in big brown-green eyes, nasty words falling from his mouth. Few in the pack knew how he was as a husband. Dean probably remembered some of it, but John had managed to lie about it enough to convince him that the nasty things John could say were just a bad dream.

 

He had been a terrible husband. Terrible. And the only way he could do penance was to make sure that Mary’s sons had better lives than the one John had given to her.

 

He wouldn’t fail them again, even if he had to take on the entire McLeod pack himself. And if the law couldn’t put them behind bars, then he would just have to kill them all. Starting with that smug little Eve.

 

~*~*~*~

 

“It’s not enough, she only makes a few allusions to creating drugs,” Naomi, Deputy District Attorney said. “And while she doesn’t contradict John when he brings up the drugs, she doesn’t actually say anything about them at all.”

 

“She says that she does more than simply sell them,” Inias reasoned. “That’s admission enough for me.”

 

“Besides, we have Ajay to testify,” Anna said.

 

“He’s not exactly a compelling witness, Anna,” Naomi said in a way that was surely supposed to be comforting and wise but ended up being condescending. Naomi was an Alpha, and arrogance came with the territory. Anna wondered how two female Alphas managed to run packs in the same town without killing each other. Especially since they were on opposite ends of the law. Of course, since they didn’t overlap or step on each other’s toes, that probably was how they managed to handle it.

 

“I find him incredibly compelling,” Anna challenged. “I find him lucid, articulate, and believable.”

 

Naomi smiled. “I’m sure you do, dear. But I want more evidence before I go to court over this.”

 

“What if we get more witnesses?” Inias asked. Anna looked at Naomi hopefully.

 

“I hope you don’t mean the drug addicts you’ve been pulling off the street. They tend to not incite trust and compassion in juries.”

 

Anna frowned. “I’m starting to think you don’t want to get the McLeod pack off the streets and out of power. Their reach extends beyond our county, I’m sure there are others in the surrounding counties—“

 

“I want them out of here as much as you do,” Naomi said, cutting Anna off. “But I want it done right and I want it done permanently.”

 

Anna sighed. It seemed that it was impossible for Naomi to be anything short of annoying, which just happened to be an Alpha trait.

 

“I’m just suggesting that the surrounding counties may be trying to put an end to the McLeod pack as well, and perhaps you could collaborate with them.”

 

“It is your job to bring me evidence, Anna. I am a prosecutor, not an investigator.”

 

They were clearly getting nowhere with Naomi. “Fine. We’ll keep digging.”

 

Anna huffed out with Inias following behind like an obedient puppy.

 

“You okay, honey?” Inias asked.

 

“No one messes with my family,” Anna growled. “We’re going to find the evidence she needs if it’s the last thing we do.”

 

Inias nodded. “Okay.” 

Chapter Text

At seven months pregnant, Castiel was starting to look less like he swallowed a basketball and more like he swallowed a beanbag chair. Dean sometimes had to keep himself from pulling Castiel into the nearest empty room and rut until they both lost consciousness, and he didn’t understand why he had such a difficult time controlling himself around that pregnant belly. He loved it, he loved watching it grow, knowing that it was his pup growing inside, and yet he wanted to claim it over and over again, as though claiming Castiel even after he had impregnated him would be a sign to other wolves that he was his, the pup was his, and no one could touch it.

 

Dean thought it might have something to do with Crowley, but Aaron told him that he felt that way about Rachel when she was carrying Esther. They were simply territorial that way. Aaron warned Dean that as soon as Beckett was born, he and Cas would get even more territorial over the baby. Apparently Aaron and Rachel had tried to rip out their nurse’s throat when she came to change Esther’s diaper the morning after she’d been born.

 

Thinking of Beckett coming to join them made Dean impatient for her to get there, and also eager to savor the time he had left. It was also exactly a year since Castiel had come to live with him and they’d become mates, so Dean wanted to do something extra special for him.

 

He found Castiel in the living room wearing a pair of yoga pants that didn’t go over the bump and one of the nursing tanks that Rachel had talked him into buying that didn’t quite go down all the way. He was kneeling and leaning backwards with his palms flat against the soles of his feet. Very slowly, he lifted his right arm and looked up, breathing deeply. He wasn’t as graceful as he used to be before the pregnancy, but Dean could watch him all day.

 

Breathing deeply meant that Castiel smelled Dean without Dean needing to say anything. Slowly, Castiel got out of the pose and sat down on the floor lotus-style.

 

“Hello, Dean.”

 

“Hiya, Cas.” Dean came fully into the room, admiring Castiel’s form. “Still doing yoga?”

 

Castiel shrugged. “I wish to keep in shape.”

 

“I wish there was something I could do to help,” Dean said, wondering if there was something he ought to be doing.

 

“Oh! You can.”

 

That sounded like an invitation. “Oh? Like what?”

 

“Come here and sit behind me with your legs on either side of mine.”

 

Dean got into position behind Cas and wrapped his legs around his as well as he could. Castiel lifted his ankles so Dean could cross his own underneath them. When they were situated, Dean placed his palms on the floor beside his hips. “Now what?”

 

“You put your arms around my belly…”

 

“Okay, and?”

 

Castiel leaned his head back against Dean’s shoulder. “Now you kiss me.”

 

Dean laughed, then pressed his lips to Castiel’s. “Should I tell you I love you too?”

 

“Mmmm…I think you should.”

 

He rubbed his hands over Castiel’s belly and kissed his cheek and down his neck to his shoulder. “I love you.”

 

“I love you too, Dean. So does Beckett. I can feel it. When you hold me and talk to me, she gets real still like she knows it’s you.”

 

“I want us to go out to dinner tonight,” Dean said.

 

“I don’t feel like going to the club. But you go.”

 

Dean smiled and kissed Castiel’s shoulder again. “Not to a club. I wouldn’t trust anyone there around you. I mean just a nice quite dinner, just the two of us.”

 

Castiel snorted and started untangling them from their little love knot on the floor. “Just us. Right. Then Gabriel will find out and he’ll decide he wants to come and bring Sam, and then Dad will decide that it’s a family thing, and then he and Anna will come, only Anna won’t come without Inias, so we’ll be eating dinner with Gabriel glaring at Inias all night and Sam and Dad will talk about the legal system all night, and you and I will just…”

 

Dean cut him off with a kiss. “Just us, sweetheart. No one else.” He helped Castiel to his feet and pulled him in for another kiss. “I promise.”

 

“All right. But if my family invites themselves, I’ll tell you I told you so.”

 

They did end up being alone that night, though Gabriel did try to make it a double date. Dean told him that if he wanted to take Sam out, he had every right to, but not to Tutto Fresco, and not that night. And just in case he was thinking about disobeying, Dean made sure to make it an order.

 

The restaurant was owned by a male Alpha werebear and his male Omega mate. They had several children of various ages from adult to infant, so Castiel didn’t feel as self-conscious there as he might have at one of the human restaurants in town.

 

They got a seat by the giant rock fireplace and held hands over their baked ziti and iced tea. When dessert was brought out, Dean took a package from his pocket and placed it in front of Castiel.

 

“Happy anniversary, sweetheart.”

 

Castiel looked abashed. “Oh…Dean…”

 

Dean smiled. “Open it! I hope you like it, you know I’m terrible at giving gifts.”

 

“Dean, I…I forgot.”

 

“I figured,” he laughed. “It’s okay, honey. Really.”

 

“I just…I feel so bad…”

 

Dean squeezed his hand. “Hey, you’re giving me the best gift of all.”

 

Castiel nodded. “I know Beckett means a lot to both of us…”

 

Dean cut him off. “No, not Beckett. You. You are the gift that you give me. Every day. And I sound like a fucking Hallmark card, so just open your damn gift already.”

 

Castiel was blushing now to the point that his ears were pink. “I’m not…”

 

“Yes, you are, Cas. You are.”

 

Castiel stared down at his lap for a very long time, then finally looked up, his eyes shining with emotion. “You are, too, though. You are, Dean. You’re wonderful. And I wish I had remembered so I could have shown you how wonderful.”

 

Dean cleared his throat. “You’ll show me later, okay?”

 

And now Castiel was blushing for a different reason. “I will, Dean.”

 

Dean was rather pleased with his gift. It was an army dogtag-style platinum pendant on a nice chain that would be inscribed with Beckett’s name and birthdate once she came. The tag could hold up to six names, and Dean was determined to fill it up.

 

As if Castiel could read his mind, he looked up at Dean with a little smirk and said, “Let’s just take this one at a time, dear.”

 

Dean grinned back.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Anna had never been in shock before, but she was pretty sure she was experiencing it now.

 

It had all started after she and Inias had met with the Deputy District Attorney. She had called in a few favors to get a judge who would listen to Ajay’s confession. It turned out that Naomi had been right that his evidence wasn’t nearly as compelling as a confession from someone who hadn’t been kidnapped, tortured and brainwashed by a madman. Still, what he said was substantiated by evidence, so they finally got their search warrants.

 

After that, it had been almost easy to find all the evidence they needed to take down the McLeod Pack. Of course it took time, all things took time. And the time they needed actually weeded out some of the corruption in the Singer Pack.  There wasn’t any overt disloyalty, but there were a handful of Thetas addicted to Eve’s Monsters who had been looking the other way as issues happened. Bobby had been disappointed, but not surprised as Anna would have thought he would be.

 

It took about two weeks of getting their ducks in a row, involving the District Attorney, Matthew, and what seemed like a hundred depositions, but finally in mid-April, Bobby was ready to serve Eve and Lilith with arrest warrants for drug manufacturing, possession, trade, drug trade within a school zone, and several other felony offenses.

 

The first shock came when Alastair, realizing that he was no longer mating into a well-known, well-off drug empire, tried to break his bond with Lilith.

 

Werewolves just didn’t divorce. Bonds between mates were more than just a piece of paper, a spoken word of love, a promise of forever. In the were-culture, mating was a physical, emotional bond that nearly rendered those involved psychic where their mates were concerned. Severing the bond was nearly like ripping off a limb. Even when the split was consensual, there was a chance that one or all members of the bond could simply fade away into death. If pups were involved, it often gave the broken mates something to cling to, as Chuck and John both found they had when their mates had died, but there were cases where pups just weren’t enough. If the bond breaking was non-consensual, then the heartbroken mate could die or go insane.

 

Of course, Lilith chose to go insane. It seemed to be in her nature.

 

She had exploded into her wolf form. Anna had been nearby for it since it happened at the courthouse during the arraignment. Alastair had just walked up to Lilith, and told her that he wouldn’t be going down with her. He was turning state’s evidence and he was severing their bond. Lilith laughed at first, sure he was joking. But then her face had gone blank as he turned from her, and she just lost it.

 

Her wolf form had been exquisite. Milky blonde, lighter than Lucifer, almost completely white. Her eyes had stayed wide and green-blue like the ocean, and her nose had been a sweet deep black that had taken Anna by surprise. Lilith was so pale, Anna had been sure her nose would have been pink, but no, it was so dark and a striking contrast. Anna had gasped at how graceful she was, how beautiful.

 

Inias had protected her, though he didn’t need to. Lilith hadn’t cared about anyone other than Alastair. She had been so intent on ripping his throat out (which she had, unfortunately not been able to completely do) that she hadn’t noticed or cared about the armed officers all around her. It took six weres to bring her down, and she had not survived her injuries.

 

Eve’s reaction had been…eerie, to say the least. The female Alpha had not cried or wailed, had not sought revenge. She seemed to simply…shrink.

 

After all the drama, it was anti-climactic, to say the least. Eve didn’t fight being taken into custody, pled guilty, and after examination was remanded to a mental institution. Upon reflection, Anna realized that Eve had been less than sane, but she had never really thought about it much. The sleepy voice, the insistence that she was taking care of her Thetas and Omegas, even as they died in the streets of their addictions, all of it was indicative of some sort of mental break with reality, but her true break hadn’t happened until she saw her daughter, perfect white fur covered in blood, glassy dead eyes, slack expression. All of Eve’s calm, her composure, her nearly half-asleep expression had just…faded. Despair had taken its place. They had to carry her from the court room.

 

John wasn’t happy about the resolution, he had wanted to fight. He was happy that Lilith was dead, but he felt cheated in some way, and Anna had to agree. She had wanted the whole thing to come out in the paper, in the courthouse and in the court of public opinion. She wanted the world to know how strong her Omega brother was, the way he had protected his mate and his family. She wanted everyone to see how destructive the McLeod’s were, how their web of influence had infected to the very marrow of their neat little county.

 

There was a lot of work for her and Inias to do. There were still pushers, still werewolves who were ill or dying, who didn’t know how to cope with the addictiveness of the drugs they had been taking. There were hospitals that were ill-equipped to deal with the addiction. Anna knew that Mark was still struggling to live normally, months after the monsters had left his system. They seemed to cause nerve damage, not surprising considering what would need to be done to make a werewolf high and keep him high.

 

The entire situation was unsettling. Anna felt no closure about it. She didn’t want Lilith dead, no matter what she had done, just as she had done what she could to save Ajay. She wanted them to pay for hurting her brother, for allowing her town to become a drug superhighway.

 

Justice, she knew, generally had very little to do with what was fair. It wasn’t fair that Lilith got to check out of life and not face the law for her transgressions. It wasn’t fair that Crowley was similarly dead. It wasn’t fair that Eve was  in a mental institution, perhaps would be for a very long time to come, and it certainly wasn’t fair that Alastair had turned state’s evidence and been granted immunity for any of his dealings in the matter.

 

What Anna needed was for Castiel to tell her that he was fine with how things turned out. If he said he was happy, then she would be too. If he could let go, then she could too.

 

“I want to tell him,” Chuck had said. “I need to be there for him.”

 

Anna had agreed, had accompanied him. Had heard from his lips that it was finally over.

 

Dean had big, square hands with long, thick fingers. They looked strong, protective, and they were currently curled around Castiel’s thinner, more elegant digits. His belly was now so large that it almost dwarfed him, and Anna felt herself go nearly feral at the sight of her little brother carrying the next generation. She knew that this was all that mattered, this family, this carrying on and growing and making the world a better place one step at a time, one pup at a time.

 

Castiel would live on, his pup would be the future, and if the absent gods would only look down on them again, would favor them one blessing, it would be that Dean and Castiel would have many more pups. That was what she tried to focus on.

 

“Are you all right, son?” Chuck asked Castiel.

 

“I am,” he said. “I just…it seems so sad, that Lilith left us that way. She wasn’t…I never got the impression that she wanted to do true harm to me or anyone else. She was just doing what she knew. I didn’t know her mother or her mate, but I don’t think Lilith would have gone out of her way to hurt anyone. She only retaliated when she felt someone was hindering her. I think she would have taken down Crowley in her own time, had he not…”

 

Dean squeezed his hand and kissed his cheek. “It’s okay, honey,” he murmured.

 

“Well, it’s all over now,” Castiel said, plastering a brave smile on his face, in spite of the tears that trickled down his cheeks.

 

Anna stood up and went to him, to hold him, to kiss him. Gabriel was there too, and Chuck. They held each other. They were family, and that would never stop.

 

She reached out her hand and caressed Castiel’s baby bump, reminding herself that her sense of fairness and closure was nothing compared to Beckett’s future and safety.

 

“Hey, watch it, sis,” Gabriel joked, elbowing her in the ribs. “That’s how you get pregnant, you know, by rubbing someone’s belly. It’s an old Wive’s Tale.”

 

Anna snatched her hand back with a gasp, making her brothers and father chuckle. Anna rolled her eyes at Gabriel. Now wasn’t the time for jokes. But then she looked up at Castiel, and he pulled her close.

 

“It’s okay, sis,” he said. “It’s okay.”

 

Anna shook her head at him. How could he be so strong? After everything he’d been through, Castiel was still so strong and concerned for others. Anna threw her arms around his neck, just a little careless of the baby in her fervor to hold him close. “You’re so amazing, Cassie.”

 

“He really is,” Dean agreed.

 

Castiel blushed.

 

After a large family dinner at the noisy Winchester table, Inias took Anna home—they’d been staying at his place more than she’d been staying with her father, and she had a feeling Chuck was resigning himself to the inevitable—and then he turned to her when they had barely made it inside and hung up their damp coats from an impromptu spring shower that was sure to bring flowers the following month, and said, “Anna, I want to be your mate. I want…I want to be your family. But I’m not going to push it. I know you guys have been through a lot lately and you’re probably still processing everything that happened today, but for me…for me it just affirmed that life is short and…you’re who I want to spend it with. You and your insane family.”

 

Then he kissed her and backed away because he knew when she needed space to think over whatever curve balls she had to deal with. And now she was sitting in the dark in his tiny little sitting room, in shock, not quite sure what to think. There was only one thing she knew for certain after all of that, though. It was that she really did want to spend the rest of her life with Inias. And he was right. Life was too short.

 

 

~*~*~*~

 

Castiel was all right. He actually was. He felt the closure that Anna seemed to need. But that didn’t mean that he didn’t need a little time to process the information. He waited until Dean fell asleep, then escaped to the bathroom and sat down heavily on the side of the tub.

 

It was over. Lilith was dead. The McLeod pack was disbanded, Crowley was dead. Beckett was due in two weeks. He could move on.

 

Beckett gave him a particularly hard kick and he smiled and rubbed his belly. “I know,” he told her.

 

She kicked again and he felt some intense pain across his belly that doubled him over.

 

“Ah, careful, Becky,” he whispered. “That hurt!”

 

She seemed to roll over at that and he felt the same pressure in his lower back that he’d been feeling all day, a sort of dull throb. He got up and went back to bed, snuggling against Dean and bending his knees up to try and alleviate the ache in his back.

 

Two hours later, the ache was still there, and he’d felt that pain again twice more. He gave up on sleep and wandered back into the bathroom, wondering if he was sick. The pain felt sort of like he might throw up, so he crouched by the toilet, wondering if he’d be seeing his dinner again.

 

When he realized he’d gone into labor, it almost seemed a little silly.

 

“Cas?”

 

He looked up to find Dean at the door, silhouetted by the moonlight in the bedroom.

 

“Dean, I think…Beckett’s coming.” 

Chapter Text

Dean wasn’t sure what woke him up, just that something didn’t seem right. He put his arm out and realized that Castiel wasn’t next to him.

 

“Cas?”

 

He heard a groan come from the bathroom which pulled him to full wakefulness. He jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom, finding Cas doubled over by the toilet.

 

“Cas?”

 

Castiel looked up. “Dean, I think…I think Beckett’s coming.”

 

Dean couldn’t help smiling at that thought. “Why didn’t you wake me?” He moved to his mate and helped him up.

 

“I thought I was just feeling a little sick.”

 

Dean put Castiel’s arm around his shoulder and helped him hobble out of the bathroom. “She’s a little early, huh?”

 

Castiel gasped a little and started to sink forward, but Dean held him tight. “She hurts, Dean…she’s hurting me.”

 

Dean nodded. Castiel was never supposed to go into labor. It was dangerous for male Omegas. “It’s okay, we’ll be at the hospital in no time, and Pam’ll get her out of you. I’m just going to call Gabe now, okay?”

 

Castiel nodded as Dean grabbed his phone.

 

“Gabe? It’s time. You got everything?”

 

“Oh my gods…yes!” Gabriel shouted. “Okay, get Cassie outside, we’ll be there!”

 

They hobbled down the stairs, taking it easy and slow. It was clear that Castiel was incredibly uncomfortable, and Dean was trying to be sympathetic, but his joy that his pup would finally be here was distracting. When they finally made it out to the porch, Castiel doubled over again, and that snapped Dean into action.

 

“It’s okay, Sweetheart, it’ll be okay…”

 

“Fuck you! It’s not okay, Dean! It hurts like a motherfucker and this is all your fault…ah!”

 

Dean was a little taken aback by Castiel’s vehemence. “Um…I’m sorry?”

“Shit yeah, you should be sorry, my whole life has been turned upside down because you forgot to wear a fucking condom and now my insides are trying to expel themselves through a very small opening! Fuck! This hurts!” Dean was surprised to see tears on Castiel’s cheeks. “Where the hell is Gabriel, anyway? I thought he was supposed to—“

 

Gabriel chose that very moment to pull up in his SUV, honking his horn twice as he did so. Dean was just dumbfounded about what was happening. Castiel had never spoken to him like this before, and he thought Cas wanted the pup. Was he changing his mind?

 

Gabriel jumped out of the car so he could help Dean get Castiel inside. “Okay, I’ve got your bag with your stuff and Beckett’s going home outfit with the cute little matching hat…just like you wanted it, baby bro.”

 

Castiel glared at Gabriel. “Must you be so goddamned cheerful?”

 

Gabriel was completely unfazed by Castiel’s outburst. “Ooh, look who woke up on the wrong side of Lamaze Class. Okay, Deano, I called Doctor Pam, and she’s already at the hospital, so let’s get this show on the road.”

 

“The sooner I get my body back, the better,” Castiel grumbled.

 

“Oh, you’re downright ugly when you’re bitchy, Cas,” Gabriel chuckled.

 

Dean was horrified. “Cas, do you need anything before we go?”

 

“I need you to shut your goddamned piehole, Dean. That would be great, ‘kay, pumpkin?”

 

“Breaking out the sarcasm, huh?” Gabriel smirked as he pushed Castiel into the backseat. “Just keep up that sunny disposition!”

 

Castiel extended the middle finger of brotherly love.

 

“You know, Beckett can see you. Just think on that.”

 

Dean stared at the brothers in wonder. What the hell was happening?

 

“Let’s go, Deano,” Gabriel said, clapping him on the shoulder. “Better get in the front seat, or he might give you an impromptu vasectomy on the way in.”

 

Dean did as he was told, and he stayed quiet too, since Castiel seemed to want that. But what was going on? Castiel was sweet, kind, even-tempered for the most part…it was really the only truly Omega quality he had, and that was all just…gone. Was it a show? Did he pretend to be that way, but really he was some cold-hearted person underneath? It didn’t make much sense. He was always so good to Dean and everyone else…

 

“You okay there, bucko?” Gabriel asked when he pulled out onto the main road.

 

“I…I don’t know,” Dean admitted. “Cas, are you all right?”

 

“Dean?” Castiel whimpered from the backseat. “Dean?”

 

Dean turned to him immediately, putting his hand on Castiel’s knee in a comforting gesture. “What is it, sweetheart?”

 

“Dean, I’m scared,” he whispered. “It…it hurts, and…Why aren’t you with me now, Dean?”

 

Well, shit. “It’s okay, honey,” he soothed, climbing into the backseat. Castiel took off his seatbelt and huddled close to Dean. “It’ll be okay.”

 

Castiel sniffled. “I’m sorry I was so horrible to you, I don’t know why I did that.”

 

Dean stroked his hair and kissed his forehead. “Hey, don’t worry about me, you’ve got enough on your plate right now.”

 

Thankfully, Gabriel pulled into the hospital parking lot just a few minutes later and drove up to the emergency entrance where a nurse was waiting with a wheelchair.

 

“Here we are, guys. I’ll park and get the bag and meet you inside.”

 

Dean nodded at Gabriel before helping Castiel out. The nurse came forward to help him, and Castiel immediately got grumpy again.

 

“I am perfectly capable of seating myself in a chair, Dean,” he snapped as he lowered himself, pushing Dean’s hands away. “Let’s just get this over with.”

 

Dean turned to the nurse feeling rather bewildered and apologetic. “Don’t worry,” the nurse confided as he took off the brakes and began to steer Castiel through the automatic doors. “This happens a lot. Hormones combined with labor pains tend to be a pretty volatile cocktail.”

 

“I just…he’s not like this,” Dean told the man. “Seriously, he’s a sweetheart. He’s…perfect.”

 

The nurse just smiled and directed him to a room. “Here is a gown for Mr. Novak. He’ll need to change and lay on the bed so I can examine him.”

 

Castiel growled. “I might be as big as a house, but that doesn’t mean I won’t rip your throat out if you don’t stop flirting with my mate.”

 

The nurse smiled and winked at Dean as he handed Castiel the gown. “Sure thing, sir. I’ll be back in a few minutes, I have to check and make sure you’re actually going into labor.”

 

Castiel shot one more growl at the closed door before pulling his shirt over his head. Dean approached him cautiously, lifting the hospital gown from the small bundle Castiel had set on the bed. “Need some help, honey?”

 

Castiel broke down in sobs and turned to Dean, burying his head in Dean’s shoulder. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, Dean! I’m being so horrible to you!”

 

Dean stroked his back soothingly. “It’s okay, really. You’re going through a lot right now. I’m not angry, I’m just worried about you.”

 

“Why are you being so good to me?” Castiel sniffled.

 

“Because I love you, you idjit.”

 

Castiel grabbed two fistfuls of Dean’s shirt and held him close. “It’s all going to change now,” he whispered. “She’s coming.”

 

“Yeah,” Dean agreed. “It’s going to be awesome.”

 

Castiel looked up at him. “Promise?”

 

“Cross my heart.”

 

The nurse came back a few minutes later and performed an examination. Pam came in shortly after and heard his report.

 

“Three centimeters dilated, he’s definitely going into labor.”

 

“Gee, ya think?” Castiel growled.

 

“He needs an epidural,” Pam said. “Then we operate.”

 

Castiel grabbed Dean’s hand and Dean gave it a squeeze. “We’ll be okay, sweetheart,” he murmured.

 

“You’re in good hands with Niles,” Pam assured them. “I have to go get everything ready for you two. Trust me, he’s a pro.”

 

Dean glanced at Niles with suspicion. He looked more like one of Pam’s boy toys than a nurse, all blonde and sinewy.

 

“Trust me,” Pam sing-songed as she left. Of course, her glance at Nile’s ass wasn’t that reassuring.

 

Even less reassuring was the needle Niles brought in for the epidural. Dean had been prepared for how to hold Castiel’s head against his chest as Niles sanitized the area with an iodine swab, draped it, and then inserted the needle. Castiel tensed up and gripped Dean tight as he was given the shot.

 

After Castiel was numb from the waist down, everything moved really quickly, and before he knew it, he was following Castiel as Niles and a few other nurses wheeled him into the operating theatre where Pam was waiting for them.

 

“Hello, gorgeous!” she greeted. “Let’s get this party started!”

 

The Ramones belted out over the loudspeaker and Castiel was hooked up to an IV drip for directly after the pup was delivered. He was draped, cleaned with iodine, and then Pam lifted her scalpel and got down to business. Dean was positioned at Castiel’s head and he stroked his fingers through his mate’s hair as the surgical team moved with the precision and excellence of a group of people who had done this countless times.

 

“Careful, Niles, don’t forget this is a male,” Pam murmured, making Dean look up curiously. He couldn’t see anything thanks to the draping, but he trusted Pam to not let her intern do any damage to his mate. “Pull her out, sweetness. That’s right, be gentle. Carey, we need the umbilical clamp yesterday…good job, cubs.”

 

And then both Dean and Castiel gasped because a small cry filled the room.

 

“Beckett,” Castiel whispered. “That’s her, I know it’s her!”

 

Dean stood tall and caught his first glimpse of his daughter, all dark hair, pink skin, and angry, gaping mouth as she cried. A nurse had her down on a scale, calling out her weight to a different person.

 

“Six-seven,” she said happily. “Twenty inches exactly…tiny little thing, huh?”

 

“He’s healing already,” Pam warned. “How’s the IV coming?”

 

Dean looked down at his mate. Castiel was clearly not comfortable, but he didn’t appear to be in overt pain.

 

“Stay with Beckett,” was all he said, so Dean nodded and went to investigate his daughter.

 

“Hiya, Daddy!” the female nurse said happily. “Ready to hold your daughter?”

 

Dean nodded, too choked up to say anything. And then the little bundle was put in his arms, all soft and warm… “Hi, Beckett,” he whispered.

 

She stopped crying and opened her eyes. They were blue, deep and clear, shaped like Castiel’s. She even managed to have deep bags under them. Dean leaned down and kissed her, in awe of the fact that she was finally here and real and solid.

 

“Let’s go meet Daddy,” he murmured against her forehead.

 

Pam was smiling happily at Dean as she continued to make sure Castiel’s muscle and tissue healed. Niles was removing the draping, and the IV drip was doing its job against the pain because Castiel looked groggy and slightly disoriented.

 

“Hey, sweetheart. Look who’s here,” Dean said softly, leaning down with Beckett.

 

Castiel smiled happily. “Becky.” He reached out a hand and touched the small face, practically hidden by a swaddling blanket and cap. “Hi, Becky.”

 

Pam pulled off her mask and stood opposite Dean. “Okay, we’re going to move you two back to your room now. I’m assuming you want to keep your cub close?”

 

Dean nodded. “Please don’t take her from us.” He held her close at the mere thought of someone touching her right now.

 

“Don’t worry,” Pam assured. “But we have to follow protocol, so you have to put her in the bassinette for the trip.” Pam indicated a clear plastic container on rollers that the male nurse was manning. “Niles here is going to keep her safe, and you can walk next to him.”

 

Niles smiled. “You can trust me, sir.”

 

Castiel growled at him groggily. “Stop flirting,” he mumbled. “S’my Dean.”

 

“I assure you, Mr. Novak, I am not flirting with your mate. My own mate wouldn’t appreciate it too much.”

 

Pam smiled. “Damn right I wouldn’t.”

 

Dean was a little taken aback. “He’s your mate?”

 

Pam shrugged. “Hey, you’ve got your pretty little thing, I’ve got mine. Don’t judge.”

 

Dean rolled his eyes and followed Niles closely as they all walked back to the room.

 

“We’re going to have to get Castiel off of the IV before he can feed the cub,” Pam said. “He really only needed it for right after the surgery, his body is mostly healed by now.”

 

Dean nodded. “I know he wants to feed her himself.”

 

A completely new nurse came bustling into the room. “Mr. Winchester, there is a large group of werewolves in the waiting room,” she said. “You may want to go and talk to them.”

 

~*~*~*~

 

 

Castiel watched Dean leave the room with a small amount of apprehension. He was still a bit groggy from the medicine and pain and surgery, not to mention the act of actually going into labor and starting to dilate. That had been painful, beyond anything he had ever experienced, but it had all been worth it when he heard Beckett’s little cry. Now she was lying across the room and he was stuck in the hospital bed, too sore and achy to get up and grab her and hold her close. He ached for her, ached to touch her.

 

The nurse who had called Dean away bustled back in and leaned over the bassinette, and Castiel growled low in his throat.

 

“Um…do-do you want to hold her?”

 

Fuck yeah he wanted to hold her! “Yes, I would love to hold my daughter now,” Castiel ground out, eyes on the little bundle of blankets. He needed to hold her. Did this nurse know nothing about werewolves? He was feeling so territorial that he was about to start pissing on every available surface. He was surprised Dean even had the wherewithal to leave his side.

 

The nurse lifted Beckett and brought her over, watching Castiel for any signs of weakness as she handed the pup over. Castiel just glared in response. “I am perfectly capable of caring for my pup,” he told her, mentally dismissing her from all concern as he said it.

 

His eyes went immediately to the life he’d been incubating for nine long months.

 

She was perfect, of course. He knew she would be. He looked at her tiny face and just felt…knew it was her. She was the one who had been kicking and punching, rolling over and hiccupping, keeping him awake at night, jumping on his bladder, and just all over making his life something more than it was. She was a living, tangible product of his life with Dean, of their love and devotion to each other, and he had to swipe a hand at his cheek to keep his tears from dropping on her and waking her up.

 

The door opened, admitting Dean, and Castiel looked up at him, wonder etched on his face. Dean moved to him quickly, kicking off his shoes, dropping the bag he’d retrieved from Gabriel, and snuggling into the bed with them, their little family now more complete than ever.

 

“She looks like you,” Dean whispered. “She’s so beautiful.”

 

“She’s perfect,” Castiel agreed. He wondered if his body had metabolized the pain medication yet. It felt like he had, he was aching like anything and every bone and muscle in his body felt like it was on fire and the place where they had cut him open throbbed both inside and out. “I want to try feeding her.”

 

Dean nodded. “What do you want me to do?”

 

Castiel turned a bit so Dean could see his back. “Untie my gown. In fact, I’d really like to change into the pajamas I brought.”

 

“Sit tight,” Dean murmured, giving Castiel a quick kiss. Within a few minutes, Castiel was changed into an old pair of Dean’s flannel pajama bottoms with Oscar the Grouch on them (apparently a Christmas gift from Sam several years prior) and one of the nursing tanks. Castiel was sure that the hospital wanted him to wait until the lactation consultant showed up, but he wanted to start as quickly as possible, and it was his family. He should be able to make the decision of when to feed his daughter since he had carried her for nine months, so he did.

 

 

Castiel leaned back against Dean’s chest as he cradled Beckett against his chest. Dean watched over Castiel’s shoulder with interest as Castiel tempted Beckett to his nipple. The pup eagerly started mouthing at it, trying several times before latching on and getting more than a mouthful of milk which made her cough and splutter a bit. Castiel was so thankful that Dean was right there with a burp cloth to clean up the mess. Dean gave him a kiss and murmured encouragement for him to try again.

 

Beckett seemed eager too. She hadn’t opened her eyes for Castiel yet, but she was clearly awake and ready to nurse, so Castiel felt good that he had made the right choice. Finally, Beckett managed to latch and not take too much at once and soon Castiel was actually nursing.

 

“God damn you’re amazing,” Dean said, his voice gravelly and low.

 

“You’re tired,” Castiel murmured. He had woken Dean in the middle of the night and it was now morning. “Get some sleep.”

 

“No way,” he replied drowsily. “I’m not missing this.”

 

Castiel was going to reply when the door opened. Both mates growled at the intruder, who was thankfully Pam come to check on them. She knew how to handle territorial werewolves who had just given birth, so she hugged the wall and explained the release process and what they could expect to happen for the rest of the day before she signed them out to go home. It was a whole lot of boring combined with complete medical examinations of both Castiel and Beckett, lactation consult, bath (for Beckett), and then finally discharge.

 

“Take a nap if you can,” she suggested. “I sent your family home to do the same thing. She’s going to keep you up enough as it is.”

 

They did just that before Beckett woke them up with wailings, rending of garments and gnashing of gums. Both Dean and Castiel scrambled to placate her, gratefully accepting a clean diaper and wipes from the nurse, and it turned out she might have known what she was doing because the messy diaper seemed to be a huge part of the problem. After that, Castiel wrapped her back up and tried her on his other breast, not really surprised to find that she was eager to latch on again for several more mouths full before dropping off to sleep while still suckling. Castiel un-latched her, wincing a little at the pain. His daughter had good suction, that was sure.

 

The lactation consultant came and went. A nurse came for Beckett’s vitals and left. A different one came for Castiel’s vitals.

 

Beckett needed another diaper. Then she needed to nurse. Then she needed another diaper.

 

They slept.

 

Beckett woke them up and they started the whole process again.

 

And then Pam signed their release form and they were able to go home.

 

Castiel dressed Beckett in the little sleeper with a bumble bee embroidered on the chest a yellow ruffles on the butt. It had a matching hat that was supposed to be a little yellow bee with a smile on its face and wee antennae with soft yellow fuzzy balls at the ends.

 

“There’s my busy bee,” Dean said happily as he set the hat on her head. The newborn size was too large for their tiny daughter, but it looked better to them than the hospital garb. Castiel pulled on a pair of jeans and secured them with his Be-Band, shrugged into his jacket, and they were ready to go. Dean carried the pup to the Impala, which John had brought by after having the car seat inspected and approved of by the proper authorities (Inias was happy to oblige). There was a short car ride after that, and then they were home at their little cottage.

 

The pack wanted to see the pup of course. They wanted to look at her, touch and hold her. But they stayed away out of respect for the new fathers. There might have been prying eyes looking out of windows, but the fathers entered their house unmolested.

On the counter was a crockpot full of Gabriel’s chicken and dumplings for later and the smell was heavenly. In the master bedroom, there were clean sheets on the bed and someone had attached the little bassinette to the side of the bed so Dean could set Beckett into it before he and Castiel undressed to their underwear and crawled wearily between the sheets. It had been twenty seven hours since they had last been in the cottage, and everything had changed.

 

Castiel turned onto his side to watch his daughter sleep and Dean spooned up behind him, kissing his neck, assuring him how proud and happy he was of his family.

 

Castiel smiled sleepily. “We did it, Dean,” he said through a yawn. “We really did it.”

 

“We sure did,” Dean agreed. “I love you.”

 

Castiel turned for a kiss. “I love you too.”

 

 

The End

Chapter Text

The screen door of the cottage burst open, admitting a tiny five-year-old girl, her thick blonde ponytail flowing behind her as she flew down the porch steps and jumped into Dean’s arms. “Daddy!” she screeched at the top of her lungs, clinging to his neck as he turned in a circle, kissing her rosy cheeks and cuddling her close.

 

“Hey, Ellie baby.”

 

“You were gone for so long!” Elle pouted. “I missed you.”

 

Dean had been gone for exactly twenty three hours, thank you very much, but he imagined that to his youngest daughter, the time was interminable. He had also left his mate home alone (not that Dean believed for a minute that Castiel was ever really very alone with the entire pack within shouting distance) with a set of three-month-old twins that he was incredibly eager to see and hold. “I missed you too, darlin’. Where’s your daddy?”

 

“He’s inside. Daddy, Uncle Gabby’s making Becky a cake for tomorrow, but it’s a surprise.”

 

Dean laughed. “Okay, we don’t tell surprises, remember?”

 

Elle shrugged, her green eyes huge and innocent, and completely incapable of keeping any secrets. Dean turned to the house and cleared the porch steps in only two strides. By the time he got to the top, Castiel was waiting for him, holding the door open, a smile playing at his lips.

 

“Hello, Dean.”

 

Dean nodded. “Cas.” And then he wrapped an arm around his waist and pulled him in for a kiss.

 

“Oh, that’s so gross!” Beckett exclaimed. “In front of Ellie, too! Come on, you’re going to corrupt her with your perversion.”

 

Dean turned to his eldest, who was standing by the stairs, arms crossed over her chest, her face stern with reprimand, but her eyes shining with laughter. “I don’t recall it hurting you any,” Dean grumbled.

 

Beckett rolled her eyes and took Elle from his arm. “I’m just really good at hiding my angst.”

 

Both Dean and Castiel laughed at this. Beckett just rolled her eyes again and made to go back upstairs with her sister. “Hey, wait! I’ve been gone for an entire day, where’s my hugs and kisses?”

 

“You were gone for a day, not a week!” Beckett laughed, finally smiling at him. Dean, as always, noted how very much she looked like Castiel--from her dark curls that fell wildly to her waist to her deep cobalt eyes. “Oh, fine!” She set Elle down and stepped into his arms, letting him wrap her up tight without protest. “I missed you.”

 

Dean cradled her head against his shoulder. “I missed you too, Bee.” He gave her a kiss and nuzzled her hair, wishing he could keep the years from passing. He wanted to keep her there against his heart forever. As if she knew his thoughts, Beckett leaned up and kissed his cheek. “Oh, go play,” he said, pushing her away and giving her butt a slap for good measure. She probably earned that at some point during the day.

 

She took Elle’s hand and started up the stairs. “Love you, Dad,” she called saucily over her shoulder, dragging Elle along by her hand.

 

“Go play!”

 

Castiel laughed. “She’s a chick. She’s allowed to have chick flick moments.”

 

Dean huffed and pulled his mate close. “Not with me, she doesn’t.”

 

Castiel put his hands on Dean’s chest and stopped him from coming closer. “Did you get it?”

 

“Oh, I got it, sweetheart.”

 

“Did you get the car?” Castiel specified with a roll of his eyes.

 

“Yes, I got one of the few cars ever made without a back seat,” Dean said with a smile, lifting his forefinger into the air. “No backseat, Cas.”

 

“She’s your daughter, I’m sure she’ll find some way around that little detail.”

 

Dean shook his head. “You won’t break my good mood, sweetheart. No backseat equals no car sex. It’s as easy as pie.”

 

“Considering that you’ve never actually made a pie, I’m not quite sure how you can use that expression so glibly.” Castiel took his hand and led him to the kitchen. “Now, I need you to do a little work before dinner is ready.”

 

“You need me to do some heavy lifting?” he asked, kissing the back of Castiel’s neck. “Show off my manly muscles for you?”

 

“I need you to wake up Ian and give him a bottle, then do the same with Jack. If you choose to do so shirtless, you know I won’t object. It might not be so very nice when they spit up all over your chest, however.”

 

Dean took the bottle of freshly expressed milk from Castiel’s hand and pulled him in for another kiss.

 

“Oh, gross!” a new voice grumbled from behind them. “What if I brought a friend home, Dads?” their son, Casey, groused as he pushed past them and reached for the refrigerator.

 

“Remember how much better our lives were before pups?” Dean whined, ruffling Casey’s short, spiky golden hair.

 

“Ha ha, Dad, so funny,” Casey said in that sarcastic way that ten-year-olds seem to master so well, making you want to both smack and kiss them all at the same time. “When’d you get home, anyhow?”

 

“About five minutes ago. Where’s my hug?” Casey just gave Dean a look in response. Dean rubbed the back of his neck and tried a different tactic. “Wanna help me feed your brothers?”

 

Casey grabbed a bottle of chocolate milk from the fridge and closed the door with his foot. “Oh, sure, why not?” said the poor, put-upon pup, and yet he always helped with the whelps when he was asked, and sometimes even when he wasn’t asked. Dean had even caught him on the floor a few times, helping Ian and Jack-Jack learn to play during Tummy Time. Casey always tried to write it off as helping keep his parents from being completely incompetent, but they always noticed he was right there. It was like an unspoken agreement that none of them would ever comment on it. Castiel handed Casey a baby bottle before he ruffled his hair and gave his temple a kiss. “O-ookay, Dad,” Casey griped, shrugging him off. But he was smiling.

 

“You just had to go and give me a son who’s exactly like you,” Castiel growled as Casey turned to go upstairs.

 

“Oh, come on, sweetheart. He’s awesome, but he’s not that awesome.”

 

“He’s pretty awesome,” Castiel said, leaning up for an uninterrupted kiss, now that they knew all of their children were safely upstairs somewhere.

 

“Yeah, he’s all right,” Dean conceded, pulling Cas back against him. “Love you.” He kissed his lips, soft, full of promise and maybe just a little tongue.

 

“He’s perfect, and so are you. Now go feed our young.”

 

Dean took two bottles up to the nursery. It was the same room they had used for Beckett all those years ago, only now there were two cribs sitting side by side. Casey was leaning over one, petting the dark, wild mess on Jack’s head with a soft, practiced touch. Jack slept through the entire thing, his snores filling the room. Dean set the bottles near the glider before scooping Jack up and breathing in his newborn scent. There was just something about that smell, all baby powder, sweet sweat, milk, and the somehow-not-completely-disgusting lingering scent of stale urine. How did babies do it? And then there was the feel of them in your hands, all squishy and insubstantial under the soft swaddling.

 

“Hey, Jack-Jack,” Dean whispered, ghosting his lips over the tiny little forehead. “Case, go sit down.”

 

Casey sat in the glider, holding his arms out for the whelp which Dean handed over gently. Casey knew how to give a bottle like nobody’s business. He held the nipple against Jack’s plump lips, sliding it back and forth ever so slightly until the slowly-waking whelp turned to it and latched on, grunting as he worked the bottle. Satisfied that both his sons were fine, Dean turned his attention to Ian, repeating the process of scoop, sniff, kiss before settling himself by Casey’s feet. Eventually, Beckett and Elle joined them, and before long the twins were fully awake, changed, and happily playing on the floor, more interested in their own feet than in the toys that Elle and Casey were trying to temp them with. Dean was on the floor lotus-style, and Beckett was kneeling behind him, her arms wrapped around his neck. There really was no place like home.

 

~*~*~

Dean pulled Castiel into the garage and proudly showed him the ’67 Corvette chassis he’d driven nine hours to pick up. Benny had come with him for fun and companionship making the drive slightly longer, but much more enjoyable.

 

“So…this is it,” Castiel said, his demeanor reminding Dean of the first time Cas had ever seen the Cadillac.

 

“We’re going to fix it up,” Dean promised. “Remember your car?”

 

Castiel smiled. “How can I forget? It was the first gift you gave me.”

 

The Corvette chassis wasn’t nearly as banged up as the Cadillac had been, but Dean was sure Castiel didn’t really know that.

 

Castiel walked around the car, touching it now and then, looking inside at the rotting floorboards and the frayed cover on the steering wheel.

 

“I don’t know, Dean.”

 

“It’s just the body, babe. I’ll put the engine in and paint it—“

 

“No, I’m sure you can fix this car up. I mean I don’t know about her not being able to have sex in here. It has bucket seats, sure, that’s one point against, and there’s no backseat as you’ve pointed out. But I think with a little creativity and finesse…I think we could figure out how to do it.”

 

Dean raised an eyebrow. “Oh, you think so?”

 

Castiel jumped up to sit on the side of the car. “Come here, let me show you.”

 

Dean grinned his wolfish smile and went to Castiel, pressing between his legs, pulling his hips close. With five pups in the house, finding alone time was just not possible. Even at night when they were all supposed to be sleeping, one of them would inevitably be awake, roaming the halls, raiding the fridge, making covert phone calls in the den, or wailing for milk and/or a new diaper. They had learned to be creative.

 

Of course, being creative and being over forty meant that Dean wasn’t going to stand and thrust against his daughter’s future car.

 

So they moved things to the back of the Cadillac.

 

~*~*~*~

 

Beckett’s birthday was beautiful. Her friends came and were thankfully scared off by the family and the pack. Beckett didn’t seem to appreciate it as much as Dean did, but he figured they could be there for her sixteenth birthday. The fifteenth belonged to the family.

 

Still, he had to act like he was upset on her behalf. “Sorry your friends left, Busy Bee,” he murmured against her forehead as he kissed her.

 

“It’s okay, Daddy.” Well, she learned to have the Winchester Brave Face no matter the circumstance. It was a good thing, too, since Lucifer and Balthazar gave her a taser for her birthday.

 

“You know I’m an Alpha, right?” She snarked at Lucifer, brandishing the taser. “I could probably beat the crap out of you if I wanted with my bare hands.”

 

Lucifer pulled her into a hug which she returned, smiling despite the taser she had pointed at his neck. Dean took a picture, then encouraged her to do another one with Balthazar. She refused when it came to Gabriel, though.

 

When it came time to reveal the car, Dean was nervous. What if she didn’t like it? What if she didn’t want to fix up an old car with him? What if she was serious about wanting a (perish the thought) VW Beetle?

 

“Dean, you look like you’re going to faint,” Cas said. “Relax, she’ll love it. She gets to spend time alone with you without the other kids interrupting? And she gets a car out of it in the end?”

 

“But what if she doesn’t want to spend all that alone time with me?” Dean worried.

 

Castiel gave him a look that clearly said he was nuts for thinking that, but Dean was still a little nervous.

 

Beckett came up to them with Jack on her hip, smiling happily. “This is great, dads. Thanks for everything.”

 

Castiel rubbed her arm. “And we are sorry your friends left,” he said. “You can go out with them tonight. Uncle Lu promised to drive you girls to wherever you want to go.”

 

Beckett’s smile faltered. “Uncle Lu promised? Oh…”

 

Dean would have marked Castiel all over again for the smirk he gave him.

 

“We have one more gift for you first, though,” John said, taking Jack from her.

 

Beckett looked genuinely surprised. “Oh? But you guys already gave me so much…I mean, I have a taser, a gift certificate to a self-defense class…”

 

Dean laughed. “Yeah, your uncles. So overprotective!”

 

“Yeah, not like us,” Castiel said, waving to Gabriel and Sam. “We’re letting you go out without us tonight.”

 

“With Uncle Lucifer,” Beckett reminded them. But she was smiling. “Okay, what’s this last gift?”

 

Dean took her hand and led her to the garage.

 

Beckett laughed. “Come on, you didn’t get me a car.”

 

“How come not?” Casey demanded loudly.

 

“It’s why not, and lower your voice,” Castiel said.

 

John opened the door and led them to the Corvette chassis. Beckett went very quiet and walked up to the ruined hulk. She reached out her hands and touched the sides and the doors, trailing her fingers over the hood.

 

“She hates it,” Dean whispered.

 

“Shhh,” Castiel whispered back. “Give her a minute.”

 

Beckett left the car and came up to Dean. “Dad, you bought me broken car?”

 

He started sweating. “Well, I thought we could fix it up for your sixteenth birthday.”

 

“You want to fix it up together?” Oh gods, she hated it.

 

“Yeah, I thought I could teach you how to take care of it…if you wanted?”

 

Her smile was incandescent. “Oh, Daddy!” She threw herself into his arms and started jumping up and down at the same time. “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it! And a Corvette convertible! Oh my gosh, I need to call Jenny and Brittany! Daddy, you’re the best!” She kissed his cheek, grabbed her phone and went to call her friends.

 

“You realize you just took the most beautiful girl in the world and made her mobile, don’t you?” Lucifer said.

 

“Yeah,” Dean smiled. “But there’s no backseat, the front seats are bucket, and there’s a gearshift in the middle so leaning over to give a blow job is impossible.”

 

Lucifer looked back at the car. “Huh. You’re a goddamned genius, Dean.”

 

Gabriel narrowed his eyes. “Wait, how do you know about the blow job thing?”

 

Dean winked and pulled Castiel to his side.

 

“I think we should have given Cassie the taser,” Gabriel told Lucifer. “Then we wouldn’t even be in this predicament.”

 

Dean smiled and pulled Castiel close. “Give Beckett back? I don’t think so.” He took Jack from his dad and kissed him. “I wouldn’t give any of them up.”

 

Beckett squealed into her phone. “It’s a Corvette! A Corvette!”

 

Okay, he’d give that up. But not anything else. Never.