Part 23: Catharsis

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Summary The house is introduced to someone new, and Dean experiences an incident that throws him. It’s a good thing his housemates have his back.

An accident blocking an entire intersection had slowed Dean down, and he was twenty-five minutes late for his appointment. He’d called the receptionist as soon as he realized he’d be late and asked her to inform Mr. Crowley, but Dean didn’t like being late for appointments. He was representing an alpha house, and he hated the idea that being late might lead people to think the house didn’t care about them.

He made his way through the lobby and used the full-length mirror on the far side of the elevator to make sure he still looked presentable. The expression on the receptionist’s face told him everything he needed to know. She didn’t look scared, per se. Rather it was a look that said ‘because of you, I have to deal with him for the rest of the day.’

Dean smiled at her as he signed himself in. Cindy, the receptionist’s name plate read, grimaced as she pointed toward the door to Mr. Crowley’s office. Dean nodded his thanks, then walked up to the office door, which opened before he had a chance to knock.

“This will have to be quick,” Mr. Crowley said, his voice full of irritation, words clipped, all of which sounded even more severe with his accent. He turned abruptly and practically stomped back to his desk. “I have a meeting to attend, and I refuse to make my clients wait for me,” he snarled, obviously implying that Dean didn’t give a shit about being late for meetings.

“I apologize, Mr. Crowley,” Dean said sincerely. “There was an accident on the –,” he started, but stopped speaking when Mr. Crowley turned to pin him with a glare.

“It’s just Crowley,” he said. “And don’t make excuses. It makes you appear weak.”

Dean winced, but nodded his understanding and made his way to the desk. He had been late, and Crowley had a right to be upset over it. Crowley sat down, sighing as Dean set the four manilla envelopes on the desk in front of him before stepping back.

“Those are the documents you needed,” Dean said, “signed and dated, and I’ll answer any questions you have.”

Crowley snorted, then said under his breath, “Can’t believe they sent the house cunt to hand-deliver these documents.”

Dean’s face flushed with anger, but he worked at calming himself down. The guy was a prick, but all Dean had to do was answer any questions and get out. He could do this. It was easy for a person to lose their temper, especially when they were running a company as big as Crowley’s.

Crowley stood up again, almost like he was too full of energy to stay seated. He picked up one of the manilla envelopes and opened it, pulling out the stack of papers inside before looking them over and frowning.

“This is wrong,” Crowley grumbled, then looked up at Dean. “This is wrong,” he said louder, as if Dean hadn’t heard him the first time.

“I can fix it if need be,” Dean said, forcing a smile.

“Little boy doing a man’s job,” Crowley said, shaking his head.

Dean’s hands clenched into fists. He couldn’t hit the man. He needed to stay calm. He was representing his house. It didn’t matter what this little prick thought about him. He was doing a job, and so far Crowley hadn’t done anything that warranted just plain dropping the entire thing and walking out.

“What’s the mistake, sir?” he asked. He wouldn’t pander to the man, but tolerance in a business situation was appropriate.

Crowley barked out a laugh. “Oh, I’m not going to let you fix it. I want this taken care of by someone competent who wouldn’t have done it in the first place. The only thing you’re good for, pretty boy, is lying on your back with your legs in the air.”

Dean wanted to hit him. He really, really wanted to hit him. His hand was already clenched into a fist. It would be so easy. But he couldn’t. He not only was an alpha in an alpha house, he was the house carus. People depended on him to make the tough decisions, but they also depended on him to handle things in a mature and dignified way.

“I’m sorry we can’t see eye-to-eye on this, Crowley,” Dean said, forcing himself to keep calm. He reached out and took the envelope and papers from Crowley, then picked up the remaining envelopes on the desk. “But if you’re not happy with the way things are going and we can’t resolve this in a civil manner, then I’ll have to insist you handle this internally. The House will send you the termination of agreement papers.”

Dean turned and walked out of the office, Crowley sputtering behind him. His hands were shaking by the time he got back out to the car, and as he slid into the driver’s seat, he pulled out his phone, calling Sam. He used his earpiece so he could start driving right away. He needed to get home.

“Hey, Dean,” Sam answered.

“Hey, Sam,” Dean said, pulling out onto the street. “Did Benny get home yet?”

“No, not yet,” Sam said.

Dean sighed, feeling drained. “Are you busy?”

“Gabe, Cas, and I were just doing some focusing exercises, helping them out with their magics,” Sam said. “Nothing we can’t put off. What’s up?”

“I need you to go into the office and answer the phone if someone calls,” Dean said. “I have a feeling Crowley, the guy I was meeting today, is not gonna be happy with my decision. I’m sending him termination of agreement papers. If he calls, he’s gonna be pissed, and I’m sorry if you have to deal with him, because he’s probably gonna go off on you, but don’t bother trying to reason with him or anything. Just let him know we’ve made our decision and he’ll be getting the papers tomorrow morning.”

“I’m in the office now, and I’ll answer if he calls,” Sam said, and he sounded concerned. “You can wait until you get home to talk to me about it if you’re upset.”

“Yeah, I’ll tell you the rest when I get home, but basically the guy was a huge prick,” Dean said.

Sam sighed. “I’m sorry, Dean.”

“Yeah, me too,” Dean said. “I’ll be home soon. I’ll tell you everything then.”

“Okay, bye,” Sam said.

*

Dean headed straight for the office when he got home, unbuttoning the top two buttons of his shirt as he walked down the hallway. Sam was waiting for him, getting up from his seat at the desk when he saw Dean.

“You okay?” Sam asked.

“Did he call?” Dean asked.

“No,” Sam said, shaking his head.

“Oh, cool,” Dean said, breathing a sigh of relief. “Maybe he decided to drop it.”

“Drop what?” Sam asked.

Dean ran a hand through his hair. “I was late because of an accident that shut down one of the intersections on the way. I got stuck in the middle of it. I called ahead, let the secretary know I’d be late, but when I got there, Crowley was already pissed at me.”

Sam shrugged. “Shit happens, but if he’s a busy man, I can see why he’d be upset.”

“Yeah,” Dean said with a nod, “which is why I was polite and apologized. But he just kept making little remarks, mumbling about someone sending the house cunt to deliver the documents.”

Sam’s eyes narrowed. “Oh, one of those,” he growled.

Dean snorted. “Yeah, he started to read the first document, saw there was a mistake, and he wouldn’t even tell me what I did wrong, but just started mouthing off, getting huffy with me. Then when I offered to fix the mistake he’d found, he started ranting about how he wanted it taken care of by someone who was competent enough to have not done it in the first place.”

Sam shook his head. “What an asshole.”

“That wasn’t the worst part,” Dean said, wincing.

“There’s more?” Sam asked, chest puffing out a little.

Dean nodded. “The next thing out of his mouth was, and I’m gonna quote this for ya, ‘The only thing you’re good for, pretty boy, is lying on your back with your legs in the air,’” Dean said.

Sam huffed. “Huge asshole. Wow. Yeah, I knew it had to be bad when you said you were sending termination papers, but wow.”

The doorbell rang, but neither of them moved after hearing Nick yell, “I got it!”

“I almost lost my temper,” Dean said. “I wanted to hit him so fuckin’ bad!”

“I don’t blame you,” Sam said, shaking his head. “Are you gonna file a complaint against him?”

Dean shook his head. “No. He’s not worth the time. I thought he’d call and complain about me, try to get someone else here to deal with him, but I guess he’s gonna drop it. He’s lost our support and the permission to make the merger. Once he comes to his senses, he might be really fuckin’ sorry he did that.”

Dean turned toward the doorway, a frown on his face as he heard someone ranting, the sound getting louder as whoever it was walked down the hallway to the office.

“…insist upon it!” a male voice with a very heavy accent was saying.

Dean groaned. “Oh, fuck,” he said, walking over to the desk and resting against it.

Crowley stormed into the room and walked right up to Sam. “I demand that boy be punished,” he growled.

Sam’s face immediately transformed into ‘I’m gonna be all cute and charming and work this out with you’ mode. Or that’s what Dean liked to call it. What it really meant was Sam was going to be firm with someone while at the same time not ruffling feathers unless the need arose.

“I’m sorry things didn’t work out, but the decision has been made,” Sam said.

“He’s incompetent!” Crowley said, pointing a finger in Dean’s direction.

Sam stayed calm. “I can assure you that Dean’s a valuable member of this house, and he usually doesn’t make mistakes on documents. However, his decision to terminate the agreement still stands, and the rest of us are backing him on it. You have the right to file an appeal, but I assure you it will be turned down unless you want to sit down and discuss things with us.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Crowley snarled. “I want to see you take that boy over your knee and beat his little behind until he apologizes and begs for forgiveness! He made a mistake, then couldn’t handle it when I pointed it out to him. He terminated our agreement and stormed out of the office! I’ll tell you now, that’s exactly why the house cunt shouldn’t be the one with all this fucking responsibility!”

“Crowley,” Nick barked, and everyone turned to look at Nick, who was standing just inside the room near the door. “I’d like to speak with you. Please come over here, now,” he said, authority in his voice.

Dean was about to laugh his ass off. Nick was posturing as if he was dealing with an insolent beta. And then, to Dean’s complete surprise, Crowley’s entire demeanor changed. His shoulders dropped a little, his face relaxed, and he walked over to Nick almost as if his feet had decided for him without his brain ever being involved.

It was then that Dean caught the scent, hidden under some cologne. Crowley was a beta, and Dean hadn’t had a clue before now, most likely because Crowley was pissed and sending off pheromones after having driven all the way to the house. Crowley had acted every bit the bigoted alpha, and even though it wasn’t an excuse for his behavior in any way, Dean’s viewpoint on the situation changed drastically.

Bobby had always been an aggressive beta, constantly fighting for recognition, almost as if he should’ve been born an alpha and it just didn’t happen, so he felt the need to try twice as hard to earn his place. If Crowley felt the same way, of course he would be snippy with alphas.

Until Bobby was more self-confident, he’d growl at any alpha that looked at him. Being with Ellen had been a huge confidence booster for him because Ellen treated him as an equal, as did the rest of the primes. It gave Bobby what he needed, and even though he was still aggressive and could be downright grouchy at times, he didn’t feel the need to growl and bite at random alphas.

If Crowley ran a business and worried that he’d be looked down upon, of course he’d feel threatened and see a need to assert himself in every situation. Again, it was no excuse, but Dean could see why he’d been an asshole at the office.

“I’d prefer you not use that term in this house,” Nick said, voice calm and commanding.

Crowley flapped a hand in Dean’s direction, a scowl on his face. “I didn’t mean it. I know a carus isn’t picked for their good looks or only good for a fuck. I just wanted to rile him. And I did quite a good job of it too,” he said with a self-satisfied grin.

“Was there a reason you felt the need to rile him?” Nick asked, still posturing.

Crowley’s smile slipped a little. “He was late,” he said.

“Did he apologize?” Nick asked.

The smile slipped a little more as he nodded. “Yes. And he phoned ahead.”

“Okay,” Nick said with a nod. “I know your time is valuable and you’re a busy man, but there’s no need for name-calling.”

Crowley frowned. “Well, he made a mistake on the documents.”

“They can be fixed,” Nick said. “He’ll take care of it immediately.”

“I want someone more competent to fix them,” Crowley snarled.

Nick took a half step toward Crowley, not overly aggressive, just getting into Crowley’s space, asserting his dominance. “Dean is very competent. He’ll fix the problem.”

“He’s terminating the contract!” Crowley said, petulant.

Nick leaned in even closer, putting a hand on Crowley’s left forearm. A gentle touch that further showed his dominance over Crowley, but in a subtle way that wouldn’t freak Crowley out or set him off. “Did he have a good reason?”

“It was completely uncalled for,” Crowley said, his eyes wide.

Dean opened his mouth, but Nick held up his index finger without turning away from Crowley, so Dean held his tongue.

“Was it really uncalled for?” Nick asked, his right eyebrow raising.

Crowley practically squirmed. “Well, maybe not completely uncalled for.”

“And why’s that?” Nick asked.

Crowley cleared his throat, grimacing. “Well, I may have said something along the lines of him only being good for one thing.”

“And that thing would be?” Nick prodded.

Crowley paused, glancing at Dean, then looking Nick in the eye again. “Lying on his back. Uhm, legs in the air,” he said softly.

Nick nodded. “Thank you for being honest,” he said.

Dean’s jaw dropped as Crowley leaned just a little closer to Nick, as if basking in the compliment. It was amazing to watch the transformation. Dean knew Nick only asserted himself when he needed to, but he’d never seen anything quite like this, had never watched an alpha so elegantly calm a pissed off beta. Ellen could do it, though she was more blunt. But it’s what Bobby needed, what worked with him.

“Did Dean handle himself well in the situation?” Nick asked.

Crowley frowned, then glanced at Dean again. He nodded. “I suppose. He really was working at remaining calm,” he admitted.

Nick nodded. “So he apologized for his tardiness, handled himself well, and kept his cool when you insulted him.”

Crowley frowned, then glanced at Dean again. He nodded. “I suppose.”

Nick nodded. “Okay, then I’d like to speak with you privately.”

Crowley’s eyes widened, his body tensing. “Uhm, okay,” he said warily.

Nick smiled, and Crowley immediately reacted to it, his body relaxing again. Nick held out his hand. “Come with me, please,” he said.

“Okay,” Crowley said, then took Nick by the hand, the two of them walking out of the room.

Dean turned to Sam with a bewildered look on his face. Sam was grinning. “What the fuck?” Dean said.

“That was so beautiful I’m wondering if Nick should start teaching at the college,” Sam said, obviously impressed.

Dean snorted. “Or we should just use him as a negotiator in tense situations.”

Sam nodded. “That too.”

They stood in silence for a few moments, Dean finally calming down. “You know, I thought about hiding it from Benny. When I walked out of the building, I kinda freaked out a little.”

“Why?” Sam asked.

Dean sighed. “I wanted to hit Crowley, but I didn’t, and instead I terminated the contract. And even though I knew it was a reasonable response to the way he was acting, I second-guessed myself, wondering if I did it just to get back at the guy. He needs us for the merger. Terminating our agreement was a blow to him and his company.”

“Do you still feel that way?” Sam asked. “Do you feel like you did it just to get back at him?”

Dean shook his head. “No. But on my way out of that building, I questioned myself, and when I thought of telling Benny what had happened in there, I don’t know. I just lost it for a minute. I pictured him getting pissed over how I handled it, telling me it was an immature thing to do. And as I pulled out my phone, I had this really strong urge to tell you to handle Crowley yourself and to keep it from Benny.”

Benny snorted from the doorway and Dean winced, wondering how long Benny had been standing there. That last part hadn’t sounded all that great out of context.

“What made you change your mind?” Benny asked.

Dean shook his head. “It wasn’t a thing where I changed my mind. I freaked myself out for a minute, but I never decided to hide it from you.”

“I’m proud of you,” Benny said with a hint of a smile. “You could’a handled that any number of ways, and even though the option you chose was a blow to his company, you can’t just stand by and let people walk all over you. The people in our community need to know they have to be civil or we’re not gonna work with ’em.”

Sam nodded. “I agree it was a good decision. You know we have your back.”

Dean was a mix of emotions. He felt a little uncomfortable with all the praise, but it felt good at the same time. It was exhilarating to know they trusted him and that they were happy with his decisions.

He looked Benny in the eye. “I was scared outta my mind you’d make me give up my position as carus,” he said, his throat feeling tight even as he said it.

“Why’s that?” Benny asked with a frown.

Dean shook his head, letting out a huff. “Like I said, I was second-guessing myself, and I was thinking about how inappropriate my behavior was for someone in my position if I terminated the agreement just to hurt Crowley. I let the little prick get to me, and as I thought about his smug little face, about the things he said, I suddenly didn’t want to tell you. People have been so awesome to me, but I know there are people out there who are so stuck in their archaic ways that they’d treat me like shit because I’m a carus. I knew it would happen one of these days, and I just freaked out thinking you were gonna make me give up my position.”

“How many mistakes have you made in your position as carus in public relations?” Benny asked.

Dean frowned, thinking back. “Ah, well, I sent an information request to the wrong department last week and had to call around to get things straightened out.”

Benny nodded. “Anything else?”

Dean shook his head. “That’s all I can think of.”

Benny snorted. “Yeah, you’re awful at your job.”

Dean’s mouth opened, but nothing came out. He knew Benny was being sarcastic, but he didn’t know how to respond, so he just stood there with most likely a really stupid look on his face.

Benny stepped forward and put his right hand on Dean’s shoulder. “You not only do good work, you do it without gettin’ stressed over it. You handle the hard decisions with a finesse that makes everyone involved see you as the good guy, even the ones gettin’ the raw end of the deal. The people in our community have nothin’ but good things to say about you, and the worst mistake you’ve made so far was sendin’ somethin’ to the wrong department in a building, and even then you fixed it within hours.”

“I suppose,” Dean said.

“You’re human,” Benny said. “You’re gonna make mistakes, but don’t think so little of yourself and your accomplishments that you see nothin’ but your failures, ’cause the rest of us see a whole Hell of a lot of good and not much bad to speak of.”

“Oh,” Dean said softly.

“Maybe we need to say it a little more often,” Benny said with a sly grin, making Dean groan.

Sam chuckled. “Now he’s going to hide it every time he’s done something good.”

Benny snorted, then wrapped his right arm around Dean’s shoulders, pulling him in for a half hug. “I know you have a hard time takin’ compliments, but I’ve never been the type that can let good deeds go unrecognized, so I’m gonna be mentionin’ the good things I see gettin’ done.”

“Fine,” Dean said with a smile.

Benny let go of Dean as Nick and Crowley walked back into the office, Crowley with a very sour look on his face.

“Dean,” Crowley said, standing next to Nick near the doorway.

“Crowley,” Dean said, keeping his tone pleasant.

Crowley winced and looked to Nick, who gave a very slight nod and a small smile to Crowley. Crowley sighed, then looked Dean in the eye. “I’m very sorry for my behavior. I’m used to asserting myself in the workplace because not many people respect me unless I crush them. I didn’t give you a chance to show me respect and instead I insulted you. I want you to know that I didn’t mean any of it. It was merely to rile you. And I want to apologize.”

Dean stared at him for a moment, not quite sure how to respond. He’d expected some demands from Crowley, maybe more insults, but this was pretty much a shock to his system.

“I’ll understand if you feel you can’t forgive me,” Crowley continued quickly. “The things I said to you, well, I’d never say those things to someone outside the office, and I certainly don’t feel that way about your role in this house nor in the community.”

“Uhm, okay,” Dean said, then nodded, forcing himself to recover from the shock. “No, I mean yeah, I accept your apology. I don’t agree with your business tactics, but I can understand why you did it.”

Crowley’s right eyebrow quirked upward, then he huffed. “Not many people understand why I do what I do. Care to tell me why you’re so sympathetic?”

Dean grinned. “I grew up in a house with a very aggressive beta. He could bite anyone’s head off, and most people never saw it coming. He fought hard for recognition even when he already had it, but it took the love, acceptance, and respect of everyone in the house who gave a damn about him to make him realize what he always had.”

Crowley snorted. “And now he’s a calm little lamb?” he asked sarcastically.

Dean barked out a laugh, startling Crowley. “Hell no! He’s one of the grouchiest bastards I’ve ever met, but he’s also a huge asset to the house. I love the guy more than I could ever say, and he damn well knows it.”

Crowley’s lips twitched, then a smile slowly grew on his face. “So does this mean I get my merger?” he asked with a snobby tone to his voice.

Dean chuckled, shaking his head. “I didn’t say I love you,” he teased.

Crowley pouted. “But I apologized,” he whined dramatically.

Nick smirked. “And I invited him to dinner,” he said.

Dean managed to keep the grimace off his face, but it was hard. “How about I answer you after dinner?”

Crowley opened his mouth, but nothing came out. His mouth closed and he glanced at Nick again, then his shoulders dropped as if he decided whatever he was going to say would get Nick on his back again. “That sounds reasonable,” he said with a forced smile.

Later that night, after dinner, Dean told Crowley he could have his merger with the full support of the Palo Alto Alpha House. Dean was still a little leery of Crowley, but the man had apologized, appearing very sincere. He didn’t know if Crowley had faked it so he could get the merger, but the merger wouldn’t be a done deal for at least three more weeks, and Dean could terminate it any time before then.

*

The next afternoon, Dean was very disappointed to learn that Crowley was coming to dinner again. Apparently Nick had made Crowley’s favorite. He’d worked on it all day. And when Dean saw the look on Nick’s face as he made the food, he grimaced. Nick was falling for the little prick.

They’d had a really nice dinner the night before. Crowley had said a few things that were somewhat insulting to a few of those seated at the table, but Nick’s very subtle disapproval of those comments had Crowley apologizing and keeping his tongue mostly in check, which was kind of adorable if Dean didn’t think about how he’d met Crowley.

It seemed more like Crowley was just rough around the edges, Dean thought. He reminded Dean of Bobby in some ways, yet other ways the two men were amazingly different. He wondered if Nick would be a positive influence on Crowley, maybe soften those edges. Dean didn’t think Nick was the type to try to squash a person and force them to be someone they weren’t, and while Dean might prefer Crowley to ease up a bit on the gruffness, he’d never want someone forcibly changed just so they’d be presentable in good company.

Dean had spent most of the day in the office, going over reports, reading emails, and fixing the documents Crowley had claimed were so horribly incorrect. Dean had growled when he realized that, for all of Crowley’s grumbling, Dean’s mistake had been to leave the box unchecked that confirmed these were the first documents regarding this particular issue and not a repeat request.

Yeah, so Dean wasn’t feeling all that charitable toward Crowley. He cringed as he remembered the smug look on Crowley’s face as he’d left early that morning, wearing the same clothes he’d come in the day before.

He had really hoped Crowley was a rebound fuck for Nick, a fling. Or maybe even just a one-night stand. A second night of dinner, especially with Nick working all day on Crowley’s favorite meal, didn’t bode well for Dean’s hopes.

Crowley sauntered into the office as Dean was finishing up the last of his paperwork. “Hello, Dean,” he said, leaning against the back of the overstuffed chair closest to the door.

“Hey,” Dean said, glancing up from his papers.

Crowley didn’t say anything for a few long moments, but Dean just continued working. Crowley was in their house, but Dean didn’t need to treat him like a guest. Well, Nick probably wouldn’t like it if Dean gave Crowley a hard time, but Dean was busy.

“Listen,” Crowley said with a sigh, “we got off on the wrong foot.”

Dean snorted. “Yeah,” he drawled, not really paying attention to his papers anymore, but faking it so he didn’t have to look up at the man.

There was another long pause, then Crowley sighed dramatically. “He really fucking loves the lot of you, Nick does, and I’d rather not be looking over my shoulder every time I come over here.”

Dean raised his head, looking at Crowley. “You apologized. I accepted,” he said, shrugging. “You’re not one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met, but if you treat Nick right and don’t do anything shitty to the rest of my family, you’re good.”

“So,” Crowley drawled, “you’re not dreaming of stabbing me in the back every time you see me?”

Dean snorted. “You’re an irritating guy, but if Nick likes you, and I have no idea why, then we’re probably gonna be seein’ more of each other. Don’t be a complete prick like you were yesterday,” he said with a shrug. “I don’t make it a habit of punching people who irritate me, but I wouldn’t rule it out if I were you,” he said with an obnoxious grin on his face.

“Did you want to punch me yesterday?” Crowley asked with a smirk. “That was a pretty good insult, wasn’t it?”

Dean’s eyes widened, the grin dropping. “Excuse me?”

Crowley chuckled. “You’re way too easy. Lighten up. I was joking.”

“What does he see in you?” Dean asked, shaking his head.

Crowley shrugged. “He likes a challenge. Have you ever challenged him?”

Dean winced. “Yeah, I pushed him a bit.”

“He steps up, doesn’t he,” Crowley said instead of asked, winking at Dean.

Dean chuckled. “Yeah, he does.”

“Kinda came alive as an alpha, didn’t he,” Crowley again said instead of asked.

Dean nodded, then frowned. “So he just likes the game?” He knew Nick wasn’t that kind of guy. He was feeling out Crowley to see just how observant the man was, just how quickly he was able to pick up on character traits and nuances.

“It’s more than that,” Crowley said with a shrug. “I’ve seen his type before. But none of them have made me feel the way he does. He’d rather have an equal than a passive beta. And I’d rather have an alpha that sees me as an equal instead of one that believes I need to be swept off my feet so I can gaze adoringly into their eyes,” he said, fluttering his eyelashes, then rolling his eyes in disgust.

“You sound as if you’re already planning the claiming ceremony,” Dean said with a smirk.

Crowley chuckled. “I’m very successful in business and in life. I’ve gotten where I am by knowing what I want and grabbing onto it with both hands,” he said as he sat down on the overstuffed chair. “I don’t know yet if this’ll turn into something big, but I’ve never backed down from anything in my life, I’m sure as Hell not going to start now.”

Dean was surprised. Crowley seemed sincere. He thought about Kevin, about how hard Nick had fallen for him, how much he had to be hurting.

“Has he told you about his past relationships?” Dean asked carefully.

“You mean did he tell me he recently had his heart ripped out of his chest? Yes,” he said with a nod.

“Don’t hurt him,” Dean said softly. “I don’t know if this is a rebound kind of thing, but he falls fast and hard, and I really love the guy. I don’t want to see him hurt again.”

Crowley glared at Dean. “I may fuck with a person’s head for fun, like I did with you, but I won’t fuck with someone’s heart,” he said with a growl.

Dean wished he could use Charlie, make her read Crowley. In fact, maybe he’d ask her to do that later. Crowley sounded sincere, but who the fuck knew? The guy purposely riled him, and he even just admitted to getting a kick out of mindfucking people. Dean felt protective of Nick, and if this guy was just going to use him for some fun and stomp all over his heart, Dean would do more than just punch Crowley in the face.

But if he really meant what he said, who was Dean to stand in the way of Nick’s happiness? Crowley sounded as if he knew what he was talking about when he said he knew Nick’s type. Crowley could be just what Nick needed and wanted.

“Well,” Crowley said, “go ahead. Give me the shovel talk. You know you want to.”

Dean chuckled. As much as he didn’t want to like the guy, he was maybe warming up to him. Just a little bit. Maybe.

*

Two weeks. Dean looked down at his cell phone’s calendar and felt his stomach clench. Two weeks until he’d be mated. Officially in front of friends and family. He’d finally have his marks on Gabe and Cas, and they would have each other’s marks.

He leaned back in the office chair and opened the date on the calendar. He was excited, but if he thought about it too much, he’d get nervous. Of course, that meant blowjobs, so it wasn’t all bad, but he really hoped he wasn’t being a pain in the ass.

Crowley walked in, and Dean turned his phone’s screen off, setting it on the desk just as Crowley dropped a thick manila envelope in front of him.

“What’s this?” Dean asked.

“It’s the rest of the paperwork for my merger,” Crowley said.

“Okay, I’ll get started on it,” Dean said, and he reached for the envelope only to have it snatched back by Crowley. Dean looked up at him with a frown.

“I need to apologize for the way I behaved when you came in that first day,” Crowley said.

“You already apologized,” Dean said, shrugging.

Crowley winced. “Just let me get through this, eh?”

Dean leaned to the side and peeked around Crowley, checking to see if Nick was in the doorway. He wasn’t, so Dean looked up at Crowley again.

“No, it’s not just because Nick is making me do this,” Crowley said.

“Just?” Dean said.

Crowley rolled his eyes. “Well, okay, Nick did strongly suggest it was a good idea,” he said, then frowned when Dean chuckled. “But it’s not an order, by any means.”

“Okay,” Dean said, nodding. “You’re forgiven.”

Crowley sighed. “No, you twit.”

Dean’s eyes widened. “Am I missing something here?”

“I wasn’t done,” Crowley said, voice full of frustration.

“Oh, sorry,” Dean said, amused by the whole thing. “Go ahead.”

“I’ve seen a lot more of you over the last few days,” Crowley said. “And I can see you’re really good at your job. That you give a damn. You didn’t deserve what I said to you even before I knew what an asset you were to this house, but now,” he said, then shook his head. “You deserve a better apology. And I’m sorry for my behavior.”

“Thank you,” Dean said. “But I really did forgive you the other day. I know you’ve gotta hold your own in your line of work, and even though it was uncalled for, you’re still human, you make mistakes, and you apologized. I’m good,” he said, shrugging.

“And…,” Crowley drawled, shifting from foot to foot as if he was very uncomfortable.

“And what?” Dean said.

“May I come to your claiming ceremony?” Crowley asked. “I know I’m not part of the house officially, but it means a lot to Nick, and even though you don’t know me well enough yet to realize I’ve got my hooks in all of you and it’s easier to get a barnacle off the bottom of a boat than it is to get rid of me, I’m going to be a part of this house one day, and I’d like to have been there for your ceremony.”

Dean smiled, impressed by Crowley just as much as he was annoyed by him. He hadn’t expected the little speech at all, but it was endearing in an odd way. “I’ll check with Gabe and Cas, but I don’t think they’ll have a problem with it.”

“Do you have a problem with it?” Crowley asked.

“No,” Dean said, shaking his head. “I just ask that you keep any opinions about how I got this job to yourself,” he said with a smirk.

Crowley’s chest puffed up a little, as if he was about to tell Dean exactly why that whole thing had meant nothing and reiterate the fact that he’d apologized for it not once, but twice. And then Crowley must have realized Dean was teasing, because he let out a huff, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.

“Well, it is your day and all,” Crowley said, shrugging. “I suppose I can keep my tongue under control.”

“I’ll let you know what Gabe and Cas say,” Dean said.

“Okay,” Crowley said, then handed Dean the envelope. “And thank you.”

Dean chuckled as Crowley left the office. He couldn’t remember having met anyone before who could make him feel like Crowley did. He wanted to strangle him and hug him at the same time. Of course, Bobby could make him feel the same way at times, and he loved Bobby more than words could ever say.

“Ugh, no,” Dean said, shivering at the thought of ever loving Crowley that much.

*

Dean pulled to a stop at a light just a mile from the house and ran his hands over his face, trying to stop them from shaking. He couldn’t get their faces out of his head, the sound of the omegas’ cries still ringing in his ears.

Someone honked behind him and he flinched. The light had turned green, so he accelerated, his chest so heavy it felt like someone was sitting on him.

There was nothing he could do for them, and it was eating him up from the inside out. The kids, all omegas, had appeared shell shocked, and it wouldn’t be until later that night everything would sink in, they’d realize their life would never be the same again.

Dean pulled into the driveway of his home, anger burning in his chest, but it wasn’t enough to drown out the guilt. He needed something. He needed to do something, because he couldn’t help that family. There was nothing he could do. But he knew something that would help with the guilt of being the one who took everything from them.

He left the briefcase in the car and headed inside. He knew where Benny would be. The house alpha had a lot of papers to go over, teams to evaluate and report on, and he had to still be in the office, but when Dean stomped into the house, slamming the door behind him, he saw Benny on the couch in the living room.

“Hey,” Benny said, giving him a little wave with his free hand, papers in his left hand.

The expression on Benny’s face changed so quickly that Dean would’ve laughed had he not been so devastated. Benny was dropping his papers on the coffee table and getting up, walking toward him before Dean could even take a step toward him.

“What’s wrong?” Benny said, eyes intense as he looked Dean over in a not-so-subtle way, making sure he was physically okay.

“Hit me,” Dean said through clenched teeth.

Benny tilted his head a little. “What?”

Dean winced. “I fucked up. Really fuckin’ bad.”

“What happened?” Benny asked, reaching up to put a hand on Dean’s shoulder.

Dean knocked Benny’s hand away. “You trust me. I know you do. So trust me when I say I fucked up and I need you to put me over your knee and beat my ass red.”

Benny’s right eyebrow quirked upward. “Not without knowin’ what you did.”

Dean let out a low growl, then reached out and shoved Benny, hands on Benny’s chest. Benny stumbled back a few feet, not really expecting the move, but sure enough on his feet that it didn’t send him to the floor.

“Be the fucking house alpha,” Dean snarled. “I fucked up. Control your fuckin’ house!” He saw Nick come to stand in the archway from the kitchen, Sarah next to him.

“Tell me what ya did and I’ll think about punishin’ you for it,” Benny said, shrugging casually.

“I thought you were the bigshot here,” Dean said, his chest aching even more because he knew Benny didn’t deserve it.

Benny sniffed the air. “Nope, I don’t smell a horny alpha,” he said, shaking his head. “Thought you might be lookin’ for some rough sex, so if that’s not it, you’d better explain.”

Dean let out a noise of disgust, more upset he hadn’t gotten what he wanted than anything else, and stalked over to Nick.

“You gonna do it?” Dean said, poking Nick in the chest hard enough to hurt.

“No,” Nick said.

“C’mon,” Dean said, poking again. “The guy who only shows his alpha when he needs to. Show me. Benny won’t do it, so step up.”

And then Dean caught sight of Charlie, who was standing a few feet behind Sarah, eyes wide.

“No!” Dean said, pointing at her. “Do not fucking read me. Keep it to yourself.”

“Okay,” Sarah said, putting a hand on Dean’s chest, “you want rough treatment for something you fucked up?”

“Yes!” Dean said, relieved someone was going to step up.

One second he was staring her down, the next she’d turned the both of them around, slamming him back against the wall. She was several inches shorter than him, but it didn’t seem to matter when she was snarling in his face.

“Tell me what you did,” Sarah said, right hand still fisting his button-down shirt while her left hand started to undo his belt. “If I’m gonna punish you for something, I wanna make sure you know what it is.”

Dean’s breath caught in his chest. He believed she’d do it. She’d give him what he needed. But if he said why he needed punishment, there was a good chance the others would stop her. He saw Sam, Gabe, and Cas coming down the stairs, knew they’d fight even harder for him if they knew.

“Ah!” Dean yelped as Sarah squeezed his balls, her hand having gotten into his boxers somehow, but he didn’t remember it, too busy trying to figure out how to keep her in that aggressive state.

“You’ve got five seconds to start talking,” Sarah said, “or my offer is void. I’ll make sure you’re taken care of. But you’d better talk.”

Dean hissed as she squeezed him again. “Okay, okay,” he said, trying to keep still. “I was downtown, overseeing an investigation into a building that collapsed due to shitty-quality building materials. As I was questioning people, just trying to figure out what I needed to hand off to Cas for the Labor Commission, I realized one of the guys was lying to me. It wasn’t my job to question people, but I wanted to be involved, stuck my nose where it didn’t belong.”

“Is that all?” Sarah asked. “You did somebody else’s job?”

“No,” Dean said, shaking his head. “He realized I’d figured him out, so he begged me, said he had no idea the building would collapse, that he was just trying to get his family out of a really shitty financial situation. Their kid is sick, and the hospital bills are piling up. I believed him. He was running the project and just figured the overall quality of the building would be shitty, not that it would hurt people. But when the thing collapsed, it killed four people and sent another dozen to the hospital.”

“So what did you do?” Sarah asked.

“I couldn’t let it go,” Dean said. “He said he’d never do anything that monumentally stupid again, and he was genuinely remorseful. But I couldn’t let it go. His actions led to the death of four people.”

“Sounds reasonable to me,” Sarah said, twisting his balls just a little.

Dean whimpered, trying to stay still. “His family was there. They’d come to the station to pick him up after his interview. His omega wife and five fuckin’ omega kids, one of which is so fuckin’ weak from chemo he’s in a wheelchair.”

“Fuck,” Sarah whispered.

“They watched their husband and father get handcuffed,” Dean said. “They cried. Fuckin’ screamed. They’re lost now. She can’t support them, has no skills, was a housewife, happily maintaining her home their entire mated life, and now she’s got five mouths to feed, a sick kid, and thousands in medical bills.”

“We can help them,” Sarah said. “There are plenty of programs that-”

“Fuck the programs!” Dean snarled. “I took their dad away from them. A guy who was just tryin’ to feed his family. A guy who wasn’t doing anything maliciously.”

“Okay,” Sarah said, nodding. “So you want me to hurt you. You had to make a really awful decision, one that you feel really fuckin’ guilty for, and it fuckin’ hurts. If you want some physical pain to ease that ache in your chest, ask me.”

“Hurt me,” Dean said.

“Be polite about it,” Sarah said, then squeezed his balls, making him whimper again.

“Please, Sarah,” Dean said, tilting his head to the side just enough that she’d see him submitting. “Please hurt me.”

“There,” Sarah said, dragging her nails over his cock as she pulled her hand out of his boxers, “was that so hard?”

Dean hissed, his head thunking back against the wall. “No ma’am. It wasn’t hard.”

Sarah yanked the slacks and boxers down his legs, letting them pool around his ankles. “I know a few things about what you like and don’t like,” she said as she ran her fingers over his cock, “but you’re going to tell me two things you don’t overly like. The first two things that come to mind.”

“I don’t wanna come,” Dean snarled. “I wasn’t asking you to get me off.”

“Oh, sweetie,” Sarah said, flashing him an evil smile. “You’re not coming anytime soon. Maybe not at all. Now,” she said, then pushed the heel of her left hand against his throat, making him cough, “give me those two things or I’ll decide for you.”

“Well, there’s the first one,” Dean said, wincing as the pressure against his throat made it difficult to breathe. “I don’t like breathplay.”

“One,” Sarah said, not backing off at all. “Give me one more.”

“CBT,” Dean said. “Oh, and I don’t like getting spanked either, which I was trying to get somebody to-ah!” he yelped as Sarah yanked him forward by his balls.

He let her pull him to the middle of the living room, keeping up with her even though it was difficult with the slacks and boxers around his ankles. He grunted as she pushed him down onto the coffee table, his ass hitting first, then she shoved him back, her hand behind his head to keep it from striking the table.

“Charlie?” Sarah said, looking at her mate over her shoulder. “Would you mind grabbing me the box from under our bed, please?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Charlie said, immediately running for the stairs.

“Thank you, baby,” Sarah said, then looked to Benny. “Okay, hot stuff. You’re in charge of Dean’s right arm, Nick you get his left arm, Cas gets his left leg, Gabe gets his right leg. Your jobs are to keep him from getting up and keep him from kicking me across the room.”

Dean’s heartbeat sped up as everyone took their positions, the sensation of being held down both scary and exciting. All four men got on their knees and took a hold of their assigned limbs, Cas and Gabe pulling his shoes, socks, slacks, and boxers off, tossing them out of the way.

“Nick,” Sarah said, “send a text to Crowley. Let him know we’re busy for the next three hours, but he can come at eight instead.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Nick said, pulling his phone out of his pocket while still holding Dean’s arm with his other hand. Soon he was putting his phone away, and Charlie walked back in, setting the box down on the floor near Sarah.

“Slide him down a little,” Sarah said. “I want his ass hanging off the end of the table.”

They moved him, and it wasn’t until his junk and ass were free of any support, vulnerable and presented for whatever Sarah had planned that Dean felt himself start to panic.

He deserved this, he reminded himself, forcing himself to stay still, to keep his mouth shut instead of begging her to forget about the whole thing. This was what he wanted. Punishment. And Sarah was giving it to him.

“Charlie, I want you at his head,” Sarah said.

“Okay,” Charlie said, sharing a look with Sarah that Dean couldn’t read.

But as soon as Charlie kneeled by his head, her hands gently holding him down, he felt her slowly pushing her way in. She wasn’t usually intrusive, but she was going slowly, and didn’t go all that deep in his head. Just enough to know if he really was freaking the fuck out.

That must’ve been the look they’d shared. Sarah must’ve wanted Charlie to just push her way in, not ask, because Dean didn’t want someone watching to make sure he was okay, would’ve said no. But he knew they were doing it because they cared about him. It made his eyes burn, but he filled his mind with the sound of those six omegas crying, and soon enough he was angry at himself again.

“Ah, fuck!” Dean growled as something pinched his sac, the soft skin between his balls, making him squirm, his balls pulling closer to his body.

He lifted his head enough to see she’d put a clamp on him, and she had more in her left hand. They were steel, a little bigger than a clothespin, and they had rubber on the tips instead of teeth. Good. This was good. They were strong enough to hurt. It was his punishment. Benny wouldn’t beat his ass? Sarah would come through for him, help him out, and he told himself he needed to find a way to thank her.

Dean hissed as another clamp was attached about an inch away from the first one. He’d never had clamps on his balls before, but he’d had plenty of guys tell him it hurt like fuck. He didn’t know what they were complaining about. Sure, it hurt, but it wasn’t the end of the world. He’d felt much worse.

“Fuck!” Dean yelled as Sarah flicked his balls, once on each side. He tried to close his legs, but Cas and Gabe had a good hold.

Another clamp was attached to his balls, all of them forming a T with three of them in a line around the outer edge of his sac and one more toward his cock in the center of his sac. Sarah flicked the first clamp, making Dean flinch. Okay, so the clamps were hurting a little more than when they’d first been attached.

“I said don’t get me off!” Dean snarled, wriggling as Sarah wrapped her right hand around his cock.

She flicked the first clamp again. “You don’t get to make demands. You asked me to hurt you, and that means I get to call the shots, so take it.”

Dean let out a noise of frustration, squirming as she jacked his cock, getting him hard. His balls started to ache, not only because the clamps were biting into his skin, but because jacking his cock made the clamps move around.

He wasn’t getting hard all that fast because of the pain, but when he was half hard Sarah flicked the clamps on his balls again, then started sucking on the end of his cock.

Dean whimpered, not really in the mood to have his dick sucked, but Sarah was right. He had given her permission to do what she needed to in order to hurt him. He really shouldn’t complain.

She stopped sucking his cock so she could flick the clamps a few more times, making him flinch and twist.

“Hey!” Dean said, eyes widening as she attached a clamp to his foreskin on the right side of his cock.

He hissed, watching as she attached a second clamp, this time on the left side of his cock, pinching his foreskin.

“Ah! Oh, fuck!” Dean said, trying to close his legs as she jacked him again, the clamps on his sac and dick flopping back and forth with every movement.

Even with the pain, he was getting harder. He wasn’t enjoying the pain whatsoever, but the stimulation to his cock was enough to get him there. He hadn’t expected the pulling sensation from the clamps as his foreskin became tighter, and when Sarah moved her hand up near the head of his cock, jacking it using the not-so-loose foreskin, Dean let out a grunt, squeezing his eyes shut and breathing through clenched teeth.

It hurt. More than he ever thought it would. Again, not the worst thing he’d ever felt, but there was no way in Hell he’d want to do this for fun.

“Open your eyes, Dean,” Sarah said. “I want you to watch.”

Dean looked at his cock, which she was waving around, drawing his attention as she slowly reached up with her free hand and took hold of the clamp on the right side of his dick, the one on his foreskin, with her index finger and thumb.

“You ready?” she asked.

Dean was about to say yes when she slowly started to pull, and whatever he’d been about to say turned into a scream. Every muscle in his body tightened as he twisted and pulled, trying to get away from the pain. By the time it finally pulled off of his skin, he was in enough pain that he let out a sob of relief.

She started jacking his cock again, having lost just a little of his erection due to the pain. He closed his eyes and rested his head against the table, ignoring the feeling of Charlie right there, making sure he was okay.

“Dean,” Sarah said. “Pay attention.”

Dean shook his head. “No, just pull it off.” One of the clamps on his balls was twisting, and Dean lifted his head, eyes open wide as he panted. “Okay, okay. I’m watching. Fuck!”

She held his cock up, giving him a good view of the whole thing as she took hold of the remaining clamp on his cock. He flinched, expecting her to pull it off right away, but she didn’t. She just smirked at him.

“Ready yet?” she asked.

Dean nodded. “Yes, just fuckin’ do it.” But instead of pulling, she twisted it. “Ah! Fuck, stop!”

“Being polite will get you so much more of what you want out of life,” Sarah said, as if she was scolding him for being naughty.

“Please!” Dean said. “Please pull it off.”

“When?” she asked.

Dean was panting, palms sweaty, a fine tremor running throughout his body. “Now. Please. Please take it off now. Please.”

“Charlie,” Sarah said, giving her mate a significant look.

Dean wondered what the fuck it meant, but soon enough Charlie’s right hand was covering his mouth and nose, her left hand across his forehead to hold him down to the table.

He hadn’t been able to get in another breath before she’d cut off his breathing, but he tried to relax. He didn’t like the feeling, but that was the point of this whole thing. Sarah was doing all of it for him.

His body reacted without conscious thought, his chest heaving as his lungs fought for air. He really tried to stay still, but soon he was fighting, trying to pull his head away from Charlie’s hands, twisting his body to get away from everyone holding him. It seemed to on forever, but just as he started to see dark spots, Sarah pulled the other clamp off, Charlie letting go of his mouth and nose at the same time.

Dean sucked in a huge lungful of air, then screamed it right back out again, back arching and toes curling as the sudden oxygen supply to his brain only intensified the pain in his cock.

He panted, his body boneless as he just tried to breathe. He looked up at Charlie, then Nick and Benny. They all seemed concerned, but none of them appeared ready to stop what was happening. They knew he needed it, and unless things suddenly went downhill, they were in it for the long haul.

Dean felt helpless and vulnerable. Being held down, letting Sarah hurt him was hard enough, but add to it the breathplay and he suddenly craved some sort of connection, something to ground him. Not being allowed something as simple as breathing had thrown him, and even though he knew everything that was happening to him was because he asked for it, he was still shocked at just how emotional he felt.

“Look at me,” Sarah said.

Dean whimpered, shaking his head no. She had to be telling him to look because she was about to pull the clamps off his balls. Now that he’d experienced the clamps on his cock, he knew that it hurt much worse coming off than they ever did just biting into his skin.

“C’mon,” Sarah said. “Eyes on these pretty little clamps I’ve got on your balls.”

Charlie lifted his head, her hands holding him up so he wouldn’t strain his neck. Sarah ran the fingernail of her index finger over the skin between the clamps, making him hiss.

“I’m going to take this one off first,” she said, tapping the first clamp she’d attached to him, right in the middle of his sac on the edge. “Watch me do it or I’ll put it right back on.”

Dean winced as she took it between her index finger and thumb. He glanced up at his mates, holding his legs. He didn’t know what he’d expected, but it wasn’t the determination he could see on their faces.

Maybe he’d thought Cas would be pissed, ready to toss Sarah out the door for hurting his mate. Maybe he’d thought Gabe would be giving her a lesson on what could and could not be done to the human body.

But his mates were calm, collected, and watching him very carefully. There for him even though they had to be upset about the fact that Dean was in pain, something being done to him they knew he didn’t like.

“Eyes here,” Sarah said, twisting the clamp.

“I’m looking!” Dean yelled, a bit of relief running through him when he got the connection he’d been craving just because she was making eye contact. He could see how focused she was on him, and that alone helped ease the helpless feeling. He was vulnerable, but at least he was surrounded by his housemates, one of them a competent alpha who was very good at what she was doing.

“Good boy,” Sarah said, then pulled the clamp off. Just like she had the others, pulling instead of releasing his skin.

Dean screamed, but then the pain became even more intense, and he howled long and hard as she massaged the abused skin, making the pain so all-encompassing that his breath caught in his chest, making him gag before he started to scream again.

Finally she let go, and he dropped back down, panting and whimpering as he recovered from the pain, gazing up at the ceiling. Once his breathing was a little more under control, Sarah flicked the second clamp.

“Look at me,” Sarah said.

“No,” Dean said, shaking his head. His bottom lip was wobbling, eyes burning.

“C’mon,” she said. “You wanted me to hurt you, and I don’t think you wanna give up this easily, do you? I’ve got two more clamps to go. You can do it. C’mon, show me those gorgeous eyes.”

Dean took a few more deep breaths, forcing himself to calm down, stomping his emotions back down. He lifted his head, grateful when Charlie helped him.

“That’s my good boy,” Sarah said, smiling at him, proud of him.

Dean’s breath hitched, his eyes burning again as he lost that control over his emotions, slipping. But in the next moment she was dragging the clamp off his balls.

“No!” Dean screamed, squeezing his eyes shut and crying out with all his strength when she started massaging the throbbing skin.

She finally let go, and this time he felt tears running down the sides of his face and into his hair. He panted, trying to catch his breath, his bottom lip wobbling again.

“One more to go,” Sarah said.

“No,” Dean said, more tears coming. “Please. It hurts. Hurts too much,” he said as he let out a sob. “Please stop.”

“Look at me,” Sarah said.

“No,” Dean said, shaking his head. “I can’t. You’ve gotta stop.”

“I’m not gonna pull it off yet,” Sarah said. “I just want you to look at me.”

Dean believed her, so he lifted his head, letting Charlie hold him up again. Sarah gave him a small smile.

“Do you really want me to stop?” she asked.

“Hurts,” he whispered, his voice suddenly not working so well.

“I know it hurts,” Sarah said, not unkindly. “But you don’t really want me to stop. You want to finish this. You want to get through to the end so you can let go. So you can put this behind you.”

Dean let out another sob, vision blurring with a few more tears. He squeezed his eyes shut, forcing himself to remember why he was here, why he’d asked Sarah to do this. He sniffled, then gathered his strength of will and opened his eyes, looking at Sarah.

“Okay,” he said, nodding. “I wanna finish it.”

“You’re such a good boy,” Sarah said. “I’m so proud of you, Dean.”

Dean hadn’t been ready to accept compliments the last time she’d said he was good, but he knew he’d earned it, he’d done what she’d asked, and he’d told her they could finish even though it hurt. He could do it.

“Look at the clamp,” she said.

Dean winced as he looked at it, her fingers already holding the clamp. “Okay, I’m-ah!” he screamed, losing his breath as the clamp was pulled off and she started massaging the skin. It took him a moment, but finally he was able to pull in air again, and when he screamed, he arched his back, letting it all out.

She finally stopped, and he was once again boneless on the coffee table, dazed and staring at the ceiling as he panted, tears running into his hair. Something warm and wet surrounded his cock, but he was too out of it to pay attention, so he just let it happen.

Someone was caressing his inner left thigh, another hand was on his stomach, then yet another hand on his chest, one on his left arm, and finally one gently scratching at his scalp. Someone was licking and kissing his right ankle and calf even as someone else kissed his forehead.

Dean closed his eyes, losing himself in the sensations. He groaned when lubed fingers pressed into him, and soon they were playing with his prostate, not too hard, not too soft. It was perfect. Just right. As if someone knew exactly what he wanted, how he wanted it.

The same thing was happening to his cock. It wasn’t just an awesome blowjob. It was the perfect blowjob. Just the right speed. Just the right amount of hand action. Just the right amount of suction.

He’d never felt anything like it. Hands everywhere. Nothing but pleasure. And then he was flying, coming hard, but his body was too drained to do much of anything except shiver. He didn’t even say anything, didn’t make a noise other than a weak moan as his body relaxed, everything melting against the table.

Dean felt them moving, felt them picking him up, but he kept his eyes closed. They were gently taking his button-down shirt off, and then he was settling down on a soft bed, someone on each side of him, soft touches and whispered words telling him to sleep.

He did.

*

Dean opened his eyes, groaning when he tried to move and his body was fucking sore. Charlie chuckled from behind him, Gabe grinned at him as he scooted closer, then kissed his cheek.

“Better?” Gabe asked.

“Maybe after everything stops aching,” Dean said, but he was smiling.

“You know what I mean,” Gabe said, reaching up to run his fingers through Dean’s hair.

Dean huffed out a laugh. “Yeah.”

“Good,” Gabe said, “because Sarah’s done a really awesome job of keeping Benny and Sam out of the room.”

“Why’s that?” Dean asked.

Charlie sat up and smiled down at him. “They wanted to come in here and lecture you about how you did the right thing, there was no good outcome, sucks to be you, but you’re awesome, blah, blah. She’s also keeping Cas out there. He wants to make sure you’re okay.”

Dean chuckled. “I guess I really gotta do something amazing for Sarah, huh?”

“Are you kidding?” Charlie said, eyes wide. “She loves cock and ball torture!”

Dean groaned. “Now you tell me.”

“She’s great at it,” Charlie said, “but we don’t find many guys willing to play with us that heavily. So that was a treat for her not only because she got to use her skills, but also because she was able to help you.”

“Still,” Dean said, “I think I gotta find a way to thank her. And you. Because I know that was you at the end making sure I got the best blowjob of my life.”

Charlie giggled. “Those are the perks of living with an empath mated to a green magics alpha. Not many people can do what we do. Lucky for all the rest of you.”

“Mmm, yeah,” Dean said, nodding. “That was amazing.”

“Nick’s downstairs making food,” Gabe said, “but take your time, and if you want, I’ll bring it upstairs for you.”

“That’s okay,” Dean said. “I can make it downstairs.”

“Oh, good,” Gabe said, rolling his eyes. “Sam and Benny are insisting on hand feeding you and pampering the shit outta you.”

“Aww, man,” Dean whined. “Really?”

“Yup,” Gabe said. “And we’re all set to crash on the couch so all of us can relax.”

“Nick offered to cancel with Crowley,” Charlie said. “He’s supposed to come to dinner tonight, but Nick wants you to relax and enjoy yourself, so say the word and he’ll tell Crowley to forget it tonight.”

“I don’t mind if he comes over,” Dean said. “He seems to make Nick really happy, and I’m getting a kick out of seeing the two of them together.”

“Okay,” Charlie said as she climbed off the bed and headed for the door. “I’ll go downstairs and let him know.”

Gabe kept running his fingers through Dean’s hair. “You really okay?” he asked.

Dean let out a huff. “It sucks. It’s the part of this job that really fuckin’ sucks. But I’m okay. The programs we can get the family into will help them out, and I know that even though he didn’t mean to hurt anybody, his decisions put people in danger, and he should’ve known better. I know I made the right decision. I just wish I didn’t have to make it.”

Gabe leaned forward and kissed Dean, a gentle touch as he cupped the side of Dean’s head. He nibbled on Dean’s bottom lip before he pulled back. “I’m so fuckin’ proud of you.”

Dean felt his face flush. “I’m hungry,” he said.

Gabe shook his head, letting out a huff of laughter. “Stubborn asshole. Can’t take a fuckin’ compliment.”

Dean grinned. “But that’s part of why you love me,” he teased.

Gabe kissed him again. “Yeah, it is,” he said against Dean’s lips.

And then Cas was storming into the room, as if someone had been holding him back, and now that they’d released him, nothing was going to stop him, determined look on his face as he took the spot on the bed Charlie had occupied and wrapped his arms around Dean, pushing his face into the crease between Dean’s neck and shoulder, scenting him, his left hand moving over Dean, checking to make sure he was okay.

“Hey,” Dean said, then hissed as Cas gently cupped his cock and balls. “Still sore.”

Gabe chuckled. “I checked him out while he was sleeping, Cas.”

“Sorry,” Cas mumbled, but it still took him a few moments before he let go and just snuggled with Dean.

“Thank you,” Dean said, then kissed the top of Cas’ head. “I know that was hard for you to watch, that it was hard to hold me down for that. Thank you.”

“I don’t like seeing you in pain,” Cas said, “but I knew you needed it. And Sarah knows what she’s doing.”

“Yeah,” Dean said with a huff of laughter. “She’s really fuckin’ good at that. I can’t believe how much that hurt.”

Gabe chuckled. “You’re such a big baby,” he teased. “You don’t even have any breaks in your skin.”

“I notice that you conveniently didn’t say anything about red marks or indentations,” Dean said, smirking at him.

Gabe grinned. “Oh, you’ve got plenty of those.”

“I don’t wanna see ’em,” Dean said, shaking his head.

“I can kiss ’em better if you want,” Gabe said, telegraphing his movements as he reached for Dean’s crotch.

Dean grabbed Gabe’s wrist. “No, I’m good.”

“Gabriel needs some matching marks,” Cas said as he lifted his head.

Gabe’s eyes widened. “Why?!”

“So Dean doesn’t feel left out,” Cas said. “Sarah has taught me a few things, so I’ll try them later tonight.”

Dean’s shoulders were shaking with laughter, and finally he lost it because the look on Gabe’s face was just too funny. “You still don’t get it when Cas is teasing you!” he said, nearly giggling.

Gabe scowled at Cas. “You’re mean,” he said, not upset, rather just looking for sympathy.

Cas leaned forward. “I’ll kiss it and make it better,” he said before gently pressing his lips to Gabe’s.

Gabe moaned, closing his eyes and opening his mouth to Cas. Dean felt his cock twitch, but he didn’t care if it hurt. His mates kissing over him was hot, and he didn’t want to stop them. Cas finally pulled back, leaving a happily dazed Gabe chasing after the kisses.

“Better?” Cas asked.

Gabe grinned. “Yup.”

“Now let’s go eat,” Cas said, getting up.

“I’m starving,” Dean said, suddenly realizing how hungry he was.

“Nick’s got a huge dinner down there for us,” Gabe said. “And we get to eat in the living room.”

Dean stood up, wincing a little as his balls ached with the movement. “You’re not really gonna let Sam and Benny hand feed me, are you?”

Gabe let out a bark of laughter. “You act like you hate it, but then you get this dreamy look in your eyes and you sprawl out on them whenever one of the guys feeds you.”

“I’m only doing it for them,” Dean claimed as he very carefully put some sleep pants on.

“Yeah, sure,” Gabe said. “We totally believe you.”

“I don’t,” Cas said. “And I like to watch.”

Dean shook his head, chuckling as Cas headed out of the room.

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