Ghost of a Chance (A Destiel fic)
Tags: A/B/O, soulmates, soulmate-identifying marks, enemies to lovers, flirty Cas, reluctant Dean, Alpha!Cas/Omega!Dean, unsolicited touch (briefly, Michael is an asshat), chasing, full wolf shifters
Dean drags his feet at the back of the group, tuning out the repetitive theme song of Charlie’s ‘what if’ and John Winchester’s ‘never back down’. Adam’s running circles around them or shooting forward like the pup that he is. Dean’s glad the kid’s excited, though he didn’t think it wise to bring him along. What he wouldn’t give to be back home, sink into his memory foam, headphones on with an array of snacks around him. Maybe drag the television into his room, so he doesn’t need to interact with the world for a while.
John’s perpetual need for dominance ain’t helping. Sure, the days ahead are going to be tense, but the way he cuts off Dean's every sentence or suggestion on how to handle the upcoming negotiations with the Novak pack is beyond tiresome. What is the point of forcing Dean into his second-in-command role, if he isn't going to listen to what he has to offer?
Because his father doesn’t want a true heir. Because he merely wants to mould Dean in his image until there is nothing left of what Dean might have once considered his own identity. Because Omega-driven approaches never land well with John Winchester, and his father is convinced each suggestion that reeks of diplomacy equals weakness. Not for the first time, he wishes Sam would change his mind and step up, but that is unfair.
Truth is, he should know better than to let his Omega pipe up. Omegas ain’t leaders, so whatever approach he takes has to be… everything he’s not. Everything he’s perfectly capable of channeling, mind, because he was trained by John to fit the part, but it’s everything that… that… His chest reverberates with an angry sound as his mind trips up.
His thoughts track to the rival pack leader, Gabriel Novak. Refreshingly, the man is a Beta, filling the shoes of their surly Alpha, Chuck, who passed last year. Sources say he is a reasonable man, albeit an eccentric and unpredictable one. He’s been known to strike deals with packs and take the piss out of them the week after. With so many secondary gender egos in the game, that rarely lands well. The Novaks can afford a few toes stepped on. Except for the Winchesters. Dean wants to believe the shit won't hit the fan because of Gabriel Novak and their family’s reputation.
But if it does, it'll be because John brings up unresolved issues. The stuff that happened on the border between Winchester and Novak territory. Because that will provoke Lucifer and Michael, who will set off John and even Sam. For all his smarts, Sam's Alphatude can be a royal bitch. Hell, so can Dean. It’s ingrained in him, especially when it comes to her. And who even knows what the hell Castiel 'Angel' Novak would do? Dean dismisses the man's existence the second it sneaks up on him. Literally waves a hand as if he’s swatting at an annoying fly.
“You okay?” Sam chuckles.
“Fine,” he grunts.
His brother falls into step beside him, nose up to catch the coastal city scents, wind messing with his long hair. “You think it’s true?”
“Is what… What?”
“That he doesn’t have a true mate’s mark.”
“Who?” he asks, knowing full well who Sam is talking about. Though why he’s interested in the man’s Schrödinger’s true mate mark is unclear.
“Angel. I’ve been wondering what it’d be like whenever he takes over.”
“Gabriel’s young. Not gonna happen any time soon.”
“I think he’s older than we estimate him, but with that whole Novak litter, it’s hard to remember. Still… Someone without a mate…”
“... can be just as happy,” he says. “Just because we have the damn marks doesn’t mean we gotta submit to them.”
“Happy?” Sam huffs on a laugh. “Not sure if I’d wanna use the word ‘happy’ on that guy. But sure, I guess that’s fair.”
“Hey, not having to worry about that would free up a lotta brainspace in a lotta heads. Maybe stop people from doing stupid stuff, like…”
Dad. He doesn’t say it. Knows he doesn’t need to, because Sam is smart, as his hazel eyes travel to John’s back. “It can be an anchor too,” he says lamely.
“Yeah, uh-huh. Why do we care, Sammy?"
“Sam. No reason,” Sam shrugs. And isn’t that just like him? To wonder out of curiosity, which is exactly why he’d make the better heir. He’s an Alpha, he’s smart and empathic, and he wonders about things. "Except.. Dad is convinced Gabriel usurped Lucifer with Angel's help."
"Likely, but at the same time another prime example of limited thinking. Maybe they chose the Beta instead of letting secondary genders determine the course of events."
Sam recoils slightly, eyebrows shooting up at Dean's tone. “You’re in a mood. I thought you’d be pleased with a change of scenery. They have Omega-friendly bars here.”
“Not this again.”
“What? It’s better than the ones at home.”
Their somewhat backwards home, but home nonetheless, where he only gets into any of the bars, because everyone thinks he’s an Alpha, because Omegas belong at home. When the decision about his secondary gender was made, he didn’t realize how much it would piss him off having to pretend being something he isn’t. How much energy it would cost and how every night he goes to sleep hoping that tomorrow it’ll be easier. That tomorrow something will click into place and he can stop pretending. Be normal, for whatever that’s worth.
He scowls at their beautiful surroundings. The ocean breeze rakes through his hair and sneaks through the fabric of his shirt and tee. A welcome feeling, as there’s an itch under his skin that’s annoying the fuck out of him. So, despite himself, he straightens up and smiles, because it brings on a sense of freedom. Sam’s kinda right. Different horizon and means of entertainment. The sun is warm and the scents are crisp, while they're exchanging the more rural Bunker for a city landscape during the next three days. Less, if it goes belly up. More, if they find common ground and have to hammer out an actual deal that leaves everyone unfulfilled and pleased they fucked over the other party.
“I just wanna get this over with. Go back home.”
He still misses her, more so when they’re recovering from the anniversary of her death and having to suffer John’s gloom, hanging heavy over the Bunker. In that sense this is a good change. If only it were an actual holiday, but that’s a rare event for any Winchester.
“We won’t be in meetings the whole time,” Sam says. “I’m sure Charlie’s already looked up plenty of stuff we can do.”
“We?” He smiles and nudges his shoulder into Sam’s. “You sayin’ you wanna go out?”
“Yes, there’s an exhibition I want to go see - “ Dean groans and accepts the shove he gets in good humour. “- you don’t even know what about!”
“Unless it’s old Hollywood movies, vintage cars or, I dunno, strange and colourful fungi from across the globe, I doubt your pick would be my pick.”
“Shows what you know. ‘What A Genderful World’,” Sam says primly.
His ears perk up at the words. Sam grins, likely picking up on whatever he’s giving away simply by way of being siblings, because yeah, okay, that might grab his interest.
“Let’s get this show on the road first,” he grouches. “God forbid we actually have a good time.”
“Just ‘cause you won’t…”
They arrived early and took their seats first in one of those ridiculous territorial stunts packs like to pull on each other. As juvenile as he deems it, Dean makes sure to hold himself tall at his father’s right side, when the Novaks join. Charlie’s next to him, chipper as ever, though it’s a misleading front she maintains. She takes in the other pack members with quick flashes of scrutiny, as they move through the room, finding their place. All the while, she scribbles in her notebook so Dean can read, the way they did in school.
Michael = Dick. Gabriel so short?!
Angel very hot in those leather pants.
Charlie wants to go exploring. Jealous of Adam.
She was always better at summaries.
Adam isn’t here. Kid’s likely making excellent use of the hotel’s recreational area, if he isn’t wandering the city yet.
Nor are any of Charlie’s assessments wrong, though Dean refuses to acknowledge that when she underlines the Angel bit with thick stripes. Her fervour suggests her willingness to make an orientational exception, if given the chance. And considering his manwhore rep, the odds are in her favour. Hell, in anyone’s. Dean can feel his dimples breaking out, as he reluctantly gives Castiel a once-over, just to see what all the hubbub is about.
The black and burgundy colour scheme certainly suits him, and his dark, messy hair is begging for his hands. Man looks like he hasn’t shaved in weeks, flashing even teeth through a lopsided smile at the guy who’s bringing in refreshments for the meeting. The suggestion in those baby blues isn’t even remotely subtle. Dean has no idea what he’s saying, but he kinda wishes he could hear, because he has never seen anyone get all flustered and shaky so quickly. Charmed too, if the smile and dilated pupils are any indication. Dean sniffs in annoyance.
Still, Castiel carries himself with more grace than some people Dean knows, despite the fact that he’s easily got three buttons too many popped on his sinfully tight shirt. It provides an eyeful of clavicle and chest hair, which he’s got trouble looking away from.
Like what you see? Charlie bats her lashes at him as she dots the ‘i’ and punctuates the question mark with a little heart.
Lucifer trying to read, he scribbles back.
Blocking the book with her arm, Charlie smiles at the oldest Novak son, whose face gives away little to nothing. A sense of disdain, but that looks to be his default setting. The man gifts them a disinterested shrug and turns his attention to the obligatory introductions, when his name is called. He nods at John and cocks his head at Sam. As far as Dean can tell, he doesn't look like a usurped, angry Alpha. Behind Gabriel, who’s oozing all sorts of smug charm, bound to piss off John, is Michael. Dude stands like he’s running bootcamp and about to yell them in line.
The hair in the back of Dean’s neck stands up, a shiver rushing down his spine, when he’s introduced as an Alpha. He should be used to this by now, but every time a part of him wants to start a mutiny. The true part of him, he’s been thinking lately, for all the good the thought process does him. So he tends to quiet those voices with food, drink and telling himself this is good enough. That he agreed with John, even after the choice was made for him.
Diagonally across from him now sits Castiel, the picture of true Alpha ease, who very consciously seeks Dean out when he’s introduced and inclines his head. It’s a minute gesture, polite in its intent at first, until he adds the most suggestive wink. His tongue flicks over a canine as he shoots Dean a flash of a smile, as if they’re anywhere but at a meeting with family. The suggestion is right there, even while Dean is lost for words. His skin tingles all over in a heartbeat. Dean moves stiffly when he returns something of the sort. A nod or maybe the facial equivalent of a stroke. Knows it looks as constipated as he feels when Charlie nudges her elbow into his ribs.
“Ease up, dude, you’re giving me neck pains just by looking at you,” she whispers.
“Yeah, well, that’s ‘cause my neck feels tight, alright? Probably from all the testosterone in this room. And I'm pretty sure it's mainly coming from one source.”
Charlie gives a few tentative sniffs and scrunches up her face. “Hmm, that Novak flavour is something else.”
“You lie,” he grumbles, squirming in his seat as he casts another glance at Castiel, though God knows why. Clenches his jaw the second that seems to amuse the Alpha. “Everyone’s behind blockers.”
“You just said you can feel the testosterone.”
“I’m sensitive,” he hisses.
“Riiiight,” she smirks knowingly.
“Quiet, you two,” John says, voice coiled tight. “Pay attention.”
“Tell that to Jaws over there,” Dean bites. He thumbs at Michael, who’s been circling the table restlessly.
“Charlie, do you have the files?” Sam cuts in.
“I sure do,” she says, as she gets up. She walks around the end of the table, a spring to her step. Leaning between Castiel and Gabriel, she opens a folder and pulls out several excel printouts. “We took the liberty of redoing some of the math, you know, the correct one, so we’re at least talking about the same numbers. Signed off here by a neutral bookkeeper to prove we’re not… lying. Is that the word?”
“Such an ugly word,” Gabriel chuckles, his eyes turning to slits. “Would never dream of using it on you. We appreciate the effort.”
The numbers are mainly Sam’s area of expertise, which means as long as they’re on that subject, he gets to vaguely pay attention. Which, sadly, also means it keeps getting drawn to Castiel, who manages to contribute to the conversation, while locking eyes with Dean every chance he gets. Annoying, even when it’s making him feel hot under the collar.
He idly wonders if the nitty gritty reality would live up to the charm that’s being tossed around like very cheap confetti. Angel can’t be as suave as he crafted himself to look, right? Probably smells funny, ‘cause he looks scruffy. Terrible sense of humour. Shallow.
He tugs at his shirt to let in some air. The ocean breeze doesn’t reach all the way inside, but he can still smell it, and suddenly he wishes he was out there on the beach. His toes in the sand, bermuda shorts, sun on his skin. In the blink of an eye, that daydream is transplanted to the man who keeps staring at him so openly. Puts Castiel in equally tight swimming boxers, sunnies on that very straight nose, which could probably sniff Dean out in no time. Imagines how that chest hair would narrow down to a treasure trail all the way… He swallows around a lump in his throat and frowns at Castiel, when those dark eyebrows rise minutely. As if he’s asking Dean a question that has nothing to do with profits and cuts and...
Doesn’t anyone else notice this behaviour?
Charlie might, 'cause she sees a lot, except she’s too busy pointing out errors to the Novaks and giggling at whatever joke Castiel is cracking. No. Bad sense of humour, remember? The Novaks are probably used to it. Maybe it’s part of their tactic. Sam is oblivious to this kinda shit and John… Well, John doesn’t like Castiel much, despite his Alpha status. The word ‘manwhore’ made its way into Dean’s vocabulary by way of Judgemental John Winchester. What it means to be a true Alpha is a clearly delineated concept. It’s an ancient list of tick boxes that never got updated. Fucking your way through every gender (primary or secondary, Angel doesn’t discriminate), age and city isn’t on there.
He fidgets with Charlie’s pen, pressing down on the cap hard enough for it to spring loose and skitter across the table. Without so much as a hitched breath, Castiel catches it under his cupped hand, releasing an amused chuckle to the air mid-sentence. He brings the cap up to his nose, flicking it between his fingers like it’s a magic coin.
Dean leans forward, feigning interest, as if he still has the plot. His thighs and lower back feel warm and now he can’t take his eyes off those hands.
Suddenly there’s an oppressive kind of presence sidling up behind him.
“My, my, this is… interesting. This little bitch smell is coming from you?”
Before he can look, he’s pressed cheek first to the table surface and an invasive, sticky breath hits his face. That’s the unfortunate moment he realizes his heat is close and, in the chaos of the past days, he forgot to take his suppressants. Which means this fucker, Michael here, just sniffed through his insufficient blockers.
For a split second, he struggles against his instincts in vain, when he bares his neck, right under John’s furious gaze. Squeezing his eyes shut, he bites back the Omega whimper that wants to worm its way out, but it’s too late. His stomach drops, the world going hostile in a heartbeat. The whole table knows what he is. Secret’s out.
“Get off me!”
“We got ourselves an Omega!” Michael jeers. “Oh, and you smell lovely.”
Dean yelps when Michael’s nose, unfamiliar and cold, snuffles at his neck. His hackles come up at the further invasion of his personal space, but his body goes limp for those few seconds that could have given him a chance. Michael chuckles deeply, sliding a hand up his thigh.
“And so needy too. Tell you what, Johnnyboy, you give me this one and you’ve got yourself any kind of deal. Right, Gabe?”
“Michael,” Gabriel sighs, audibly unimpressed. “We’re not here for that. Release the man.”
“No?” Michael kicks the chair away, bending Dean over the table, as he shoves his weight into him, chest hard against his back, groin pressed close. Dean growls, but his body locks up when Michael’s hand lands at his hip. His mind goes into a jumble, when oddly his gaze finds Castiel’s. Please, no. Castiel’s eyes are nearly all blue, pupils reduced to terrifyingly focused pinpricks, as he sits completely still, his attention somehow on both Dean and Michael.
“What about that other one? The little bastard son? You brought him along on the trip… What’s his name? Adam?”
“Leave the kid out of this!” Dean snarls.
“Adam has no bearing on these negotiations,” John says coolly. “As if any of you share the exact same parentage. If I’m not mistaken, you’re a halfbreed yourself. Boy’s mine, that’s all that matters.”
Michael sneers and bends low, licking the side of Dean’s face. He is hard against Dean, which has his stomach turning with nausea and, more paralyzing, instant shame. Dean’s eyes close and snap open, immediately caught on the dark mass that is Castiel, when Angel rears up. His heart leaps with the Alpha's gesture. As if he’s going to step in… Gabriel is quick as lightning, when his voice cracks through the air, and Castiel’s Alpha voice hits like thunder in its wake, Dean feeling like he’s caught in a storm.
Dean’s other instincts finally kick in and he windmills his arm back to front, cutting through Michael’s strength, the grip on his neck loosening up, every inch of touched skin burning. The second his head’s free, he shoves his other hand up and behind Michael’s neck, slamming him face first into the table and pinning his hand behind his back. His own is slick with stress sweat and he is sure he reeks.
“Don’t ever fucking touch me again,” he snarls.
“Oh, your eyes are even prettier like this.” Michael laughs, as he twists his neck until he can look at John. “What do you say? I’ll take both Omegas off your hands. Clearly you don’t want them, if you feel the need to hide ‘em.”
Dean doesn’t dare look at his father, his gut in writhing knots at the turn this took. It’s going to be on him, when this goes south. Instead, he drags Michael off the table and sends him flailing backwards. With his training, Michael recovers quickly enough and looks as if he might lunge for Dean, until both Sam and Charlie step up. The fact that his father doesn’t shouldn’t bother him. John never has. Not for Dean.
What surprises him is the moment Castiel lands a hand to Lucifer’s chest, when the oldest Novak tries to intervene. Angel looks at Dean, face like marble, Alpha eyes flashing red.
“Everyone, sit your asses back down,” he orders. “Now.”
Dean snarls and stands his ground, glaring at Castiel, then Michael. It might be seconds or minutes of this, the air around them so tense they could cut it with a knife, until Michael moves. Neither John or Gabriel look terribly concerned, but Dean knows his father well enough that this meeting just became a dime on its side. He wants to leave, but that ain’t in the cards.
If only Castiel would stop trying to catch his eyes. For whatever reason, he’s pissing Dean off, the way he suddenly took control of the situation and is still doing so, by pointedly waiting for Dean to take his seat again. He doesn’t want to. Dimly he’s aware of Charlie, as she tugs at his hand in passing. He sways, but doesn’t go with it.
It takes John’s whip of a voice to get him to move and then it’s an almost robotic affair. He wills himself to sit up straight, reading every unspoken order in each of John’s mannerisms.
Make eye contact. Michael flashes him a smile that makes his skin crawl.
Take up space. Charlie leans her shoulder to his in support.
Never back down. Go for the throat. He juts his chin out, when Castiel makes eye contact again, daring the Alpha to wink or smirk or… anything that he shouldn’t have been doing this whole fucking time. What is wrong with these people?!
Which is why all of a sudden her name falls. Mary Winchester.
And that marks the end of the meeting. There’s no point to continue beyond that, but they persist stubbornly. What he catches of Gabriel’s comebacks suggests he remains calm in the face of John’s accusations. Calmer than any Alpha would. He keeps his own Alpha brothers in check with a wave of his hand, but barely, and again Dean wonders how he got in that position.
He stumbles out of the room and bails, ignoring Sam who tries to call out.
Once outside, he breathes in until he’s shaking with the effort and stares at the ocean.
Time to be anywhere but near his family.