The plan is so good that Dean is almost tempted to tell Sam about it, but Sam would probably be a little bitch and make annoying comments that’ll ruin the mood. The plan is good, though, better than good, it’s excellent, Dean’s been thinking about it for weeks and it only sounds better as Christmas draws nearer.
The thing about Cas is that he doesn’t get the big deal about Christmas. Oh, he understands the religious and cultural connotations, and that traditions make people happy, but a couple of weeks ago when Dean and Sam started talking about snowmen and tinsel and cooking something ridiculous at Bobby’s place, Cas had just looked at them with an aura of silent judgment.
Dean’s going to set him straight on that account, though. Cas is gonna get the best Christmas present ever. (And if that means that Dean gets the best Christmas present ever too, then that’s just a bonus.)
Timing is crucial, though. They’ve agreed that present-opening will take place on Christmas morning, because everyone’s allowed to be a sap when they’ve saved the world and not died (suck it), but there’s no way Dean’s going to give Cas his, cough, big present in front of Sam and Bobby. Cas’ smaller presents are already under the metal-frame Christmas tree – some cool new clothes from Dean, nerdy stuff from Sam – but the big one’s going to have to be done in private.
That means it has to be after dinner, but before Castiel flutters off. That way they avoid an awkward dinner if it doesn’t go well, and if it does go well, a whole night for Cas to think about his answer.
The plan is excellent.
“So, Merry Christmas, Cas,” Dean says. His stomach’s full with more than just good cheer, Sam’s kitchen adventures an apparent success. The master chef himself is in the living room with Bobby, where they’re dutifully reciting the dialogue to Gremlins in between finishing up their specialty eggnog.
This, of course, leaves Dean and Cas conveniently by themselves in the kitchen. Dean’s helping with the cleaning up, really he is, even if Cas keeps plucking the plates out of his hands when he waves them around excitedly.
“Merry Christmas to you, too, Dean.” Cas replies with a warm smile of his own, which is promising. “Thank you for inviting me.”
“Of course you were invited,” Dean pshaws, because he’s not going to linger on spoilsport thoughts on how Cas is one of the few friends they have left. “Can’t have you missing out on your first chance to rub Christmas elbows with us mortals.”
“Indeed.” Cas had been polite and curious enough to try everything they’d served up during dinner. He’d also been indulgent with their various traditions, both real and made-up, and he seems in good enough cheer right now that Dean thinks that even in a world where perfect moments are rare, Dean might be allowed to have this.
“So.” Dean clears his throat. “I thought I’d give my present to you early. One of them, anyway.”
“Oh?” Cas puts down the plate he’d been washing and turns to face him.
A full blast of Cas-flavored attention would weaken a lesser man, but not Dean. No way, Dean’s been thinking about this for ages, had the thought fluttering around at the back of his mind for months until he’d finally allowed himself to coax it out into an actual, possible, full-fledged idea. Then he’d never had the time (or the balls) or found the right moment in between all the madness that is their lives to offer it up, until now.
“Anything you want.” Dean coughs again, that is so not nerves making his voice go funny. “Anything you want from me, if it’s within reason for me to give you, I’ll give you. I mean, you know, since we’re friends and you’re here and we’re friends and it’s Christmas…”
“And we’re friends,” Cas adds. He’s clearly thinking about it, even if he doesn’t understand exactly what Dean’s saying. “I don’t need anything, Dean. I told you, I understand why presents are important but I don’t—”
“No no no,” Dean says quickly. “Not really talking about, uh, material girl in a material world. Though if you want that, that’s cool, too, it’s a bitch to shop for an angel of the Lord, lemme tell you that. But I was thinking more like, something from me, that I can do for you.”
Castiel’s eyebrows jump up. Surprise is a good look for him, as is the intriguing way his mouth falls open as realization dawns. “Anything?”
Well, shit, Cas is gonna ask for something from White Castle, isn’t he? Sam’s cooking was pretty damn good but maybe that’s why Cas didn’t dive in like the rest of them, that’s totally not what he likes, he’s going to ask for a burger. Or maybe he’s going to ask for some fancy app for his phone, or a new spell that only Sam’ll know how to pull off. And Cas is totally going to ask for it without realizing what the hell Dean’s really putting out on the line here and it’s a miracle that Dean’s only being hysterical about this in his own head.
The kitchen is very quiet while Cas thinks.
“Since we are friends,” Cas starts ominously, “I wouldn’t want to ask for something that would impose on you or cause great difficulty. This is to be a joyous time, and I’m grateful to have been asked to share in this.”
“Yeah.” Dean nods frantically. “Cool.”
“So I…” Cas drops his gaze, which he never ever ever does unless it’s something huge, and Dean tries not to hope. “I would like to cuddle.”
“Cool.” Dean is still nodding. “I can do… what?”
“Cuddle.” Cas squares his shoulders and raises his eyes back up to meet Dean’s defiantly. “I’ve heard that it’s quite pleasant. And it’s cold outside, so cuddling would be… beneficial?”
Dean thinks he might actually be experiencing a mental blue screen of death. It certainly explains why he just stares at Cas, who stares back, and since staring is something like 50% of their vocabulary, Cas doesn’t seem to think there’s anything unusual about this.
“Come.” Cas grabs his hand and pulls him to the living room. Dean finds himself being seated in an unoccupied part of the couch, Cas sliding into the empty space next to him. This is normal and totally acceptable – Sam just grunts something about their having missed the best part – but what’s totally unacceptable is the way Cas pulls Dean’s arm over his shoulder and slides way into his personal space and—
“Whoa there soldier!” Dean says, flailing backward and almost off the couch entirely. Sam and Bobby are both staring at them now, so it’s really not Dean’s fault that he tries to lighten up the atmosphere by laughing. “Plenty of space for both of us, Cas. Hey, we haven’t missed the snow plow yet, have we?”
From the corner of Dean’s eye he can see Cas frown, but the angel obligingly adds a couple of polite inches between their bodies and starts watching the movie.
Fine, it was a terrible plan. Cas makes no less than three more attempts to snuggle up to Dean during movie time, and while Dean manages to deflect each one – twice by getting up for drinks and once to use the little boy’s room – Sam’s definitely noticed and is starting to make sad, pitying faces at them. Bobby doesn’t care because he’s Bobby, and Cas is definitely starting to radiate indignant displeasure which is ruining the moment for everyone.
“You don’t need to hide your love, Dean,” Sam says after they’re done watching Die Hard (traditions, very important!). He clasps Dean’s shoulders and pushes out his lower lip, looking way too earnest for this to be anything but Sam flying on eggnog express. “It’s Christmas. If you can’t share special time with your angel during Christmas, what hope is there for the rest of us?”
“Get out of my face.” Dean slides away before he can be bearhugged to death. “If you knock your head I’m taking all your presents, dude.” Cas is preoccupied helping Bobby to his room, so that allows Dean to make his own grateful exit up the stairs.
Except, of course, when he closes the room door and turns around, Cas is right there.
“Jesus!” Dean yelps. He clutches his chest, wheezing faintly. “You are not allowed to sneak around unless you’re Santa. Actually, I don’t think even Santa’s allowed.”
“I’ve come to collect my cuddles,” Cas declares. He opens his arms, an unmovable wall of angel demanding inappropriate touches. Not that Dean has anything against inappropriate touching – he wouldn’t have made the offer if he hadn’t – but there’s inappropriate touching and then there’s inappropriate touching, not that he’d know how the hell to explain the difference to a guy who’d only just picked up this blood ‘n bones body not too long ago.
“Look man,” Dean says apologetically, “I’m pooped. It’s been a really long day, there’s been so much excitement, I just want to crash and sleep in for as long as possible. Chances are some pagan gods will be up to partying in a couple of hours, we’re lucky we got this far with no emergency calls, ain’t it?”
Castiel’s frown deepens. “I’ve been led to understand that cuddles don’t require much energy. In fact, it should be just the opposite.”
“Just let me…” Dean backs away carefully. “Teeth. Need brushing. Plaque. And all that.”
Sometimes the best things about Cas are also the most annoying things. He’s a stubborn bastard when he sets his mind to something, and even Dean can’t be too surprised when Cas pops into the bathroom while he’s flossing to glare at Dean and say, “Cuddles!”
“Bathroom time is a man’s private time!” Dean shouts, once he’s untangled the floss from his teeth.
“You’re stalling!” Cas counters.
“Do I look cuddly to you right now?” Dean freezes at the slow, contemplative look that passes over Cas’ face. Dean looks down at himself, in his faded shirt and shorts, and then back up at Cas. “I am not feeling very cuddly at the moment, especially not when someone is getting their intruding all freak on.”
Cas narrows his eyes and then disappears.
Why couldn’t Cas have asked for something easy? Dean takes as long as he can finishing up, wondering how on earth something that sounds easy has resulted in an inconceivable itch erupting all over his body, making him feel restless and wrong.
Dean creeps out of the bathroom as quietly as he can. Cas is nowhere in sight, so maybe he fluttered off for some convenient angel business? It’s actually quite amazing how there hasn’t been any convenient angel business all night, Dean can’t remember the last time Cas spent so many hours in a row with them without a word about duty or serious matters. He’d even relaxed during dinner which was a miracle in itself, finally losing that harried, frustrated air that’s been following him around lately.
“You’re done.” Cas pops into existence in the middle of the room. He’s left his overcoat, jacket and tie somewhere, leaving him in the shirtsleeves and slacks, which is apparently what counts as cuddlewear for angels. “May we start now?”
“God, I’m so tired,” Dean groans, rubbing a hand over his face. “You really want to do this now? I’ll fall asleep in two seconds flat and drool on everything and it’ll be terrible, you’ll hate it.”
“Let me be the judge of whether something is terrible or not.” Cas sits on the edge of bed, looking so very innocuous as he watches Dean putter uselessly around the room. “Just do what you usually do, Dean.”
“Usually you check the room’s wards at this point.”
“Yeah, I got it!”
Dean doesn’t mean to snap, but Cas just regards him mildly and says, “You can pretend I’m not here.”
“Sure,” Dean mutters. Like it’s just as easy to pretend that cuddling without any of the usual benefits is something normal, but it’s not like Cas has any sort of handle on what counts as normal. Dean’s mind still races through possible excuses – there’s not enough room, he is a sudden and chronic allergy to angels, Dean just can’t sleep with someone there – which are so blatantly false that even Cas would see right through them.
Dean is so busy trying to think up a way around it that he barely notices that he’s already settled on the bed, legs under the covers.
Then Cas is right up in his space, grabbing Dean’s shoulders to guide him to lie down. It is, without a doubt, the most awkward, uncomfortable moment of Dean’s life – who knew that two attractive adults lying down together could be so damn unsexy? Cas is just all about bringing new experiences into Dean’s life, apparently.
Dean feels like a plank, or a piece of furniture. Cas moves around him, trying to find space under Dean’s arm and at his side. Eventually Cas goes still, and Dean gives it maybe half an hour before his arm starts screaming.
“This is.” Dean tries to find the words. He fails.
“I’m sure it will become pleasurable in a moment,” Cas says hesitantly. “Perhaps you should relax.”
“I am relaxed.”
“If I were any more relaxed I’d be vomiting eggnog.” Cas moves again. “Argh! What did I say about elbows?”
“And knees! Jesus, don’t kick me.” There’s a long moment of silence, and then Dean says, “Oh. Uh. Cas, you don’t sleep, right? Are you just going to lie there and...?”
“Yes.” Cas tries to push in closer, knocking his forehead against Dean’s cheek. It stings. “It’s all right. Go to sleep. You don’t need to worry about a thing. I will be as unobtrusive as I can without actually being invisible.”
“Don’t go invisible on me, Cas,” Dean warns. “I’m not going to lie here with a phantom weight on my chest, that would be hella creepy. Creepier than this, anyway.”
“This isn’t creepy, Dean.”
Just as Dean said, it’s terrible. Cas may try to be unobtrusive but he can’t, because he’s six feet of non-human trying to do a very human thing that he has no experience with. There’s limbs knocking and pressure in all the wrong places, making Dean feel like every cliché of teenagers fumbling at the back of a car, which just drives home how epically stupid this is, because two dicks lying this close to each other without any action going on is goddamn waste.
“Uh.” Dean eyes the door. “I think I should check on—”
“You don’t know who I’m talking about.”
“Who else is there in this house?” Cas asks dryly. “Sam is snoring. Bobby is awake and going through some old mementos but he’ll go to sleep soon as well.”
Dean shuts up. He tries to think happy thoughts.
Then, unfortunately, it gets worse.
Cas moves again, still trying to figure out this weird cuddling business, and discovers that he can solve the knocking knees problem by pushing one of his legs between Dean’s. That changes the fit of his body, turning him to an angle where his chest presses against Dean’s side and, oh shit, that’s Cas’ chin on Dean’s shoulder.
“Am I poking you?” Cas asks.
Dean bites off the inappropriate joke. “Your shoulder is a little, yeah.”
Which just makes Cas wiggle a little, fixing the position of his shoulder so not to poke Dean’s chest. Ultimately this results in Cas pressing his nose into the base of Dean’s neck, breathing softly.
Dean has to remind himself that this is not the best fucking thing on the planet, because if he lets his body believe that, there’ll be en route to boner city.
Cas shimmies a little more, nuzzling into Dean’s skin.
Make that massive, special-moment-destroying, friendship-shattering boner city.
Who the hell cuddles platonically? Angels of Thursday who cannot comprehend the idea of personal space, it seems.
“Why aren’t you holding me?” Cas asks.
Dean jumps at Cas’ voice. He’d actually started to nod off, because the bed really is quite comfy and Dean is actually quite tired and Cas is leaking body warmth all over the place. “What? Why?”
Cas sighs. For a moment Dean thinks Cas is going to grab his arms and maneuver him into place, but Cas moves away instead. He takes away all that not-so-terrible weight and warmth away, and sits up to level a look at Dean.
“Hey, looking good, Cas,” Dean offers.
Cas raises an eyebrow. Somehow it feels like the cocking of a weapon. Dean goes still.
“Answer me one thing, Dean,” Cas says softly. “One thing, and I will get out of this bed and leave you to your rest, never to mention this ever again.”
“Uh.” Dean’s muscles actually feel like liquid at this point, he couldn’t make a run for it if he wanted. “Shoot?”
“Was it a lie?” Cas’ face does that thing where it goes eerily blank. “When you said that I could have anything within reason from you, was that a lie?”
Dean’s chest goes tight. “No,” he says. “Of course not.”
“Then is it not within reason?” Cas sounds almost hopeful, as though he’s trying his best to understand what’s up with Dean. “Did I overstep our boundaries?”
Considering that one of the things Dean had fantasized Cas asking for had been blowjobs, it would be a damned dirty lie to say that Cas is the one doing the overstepping here. “No. I mean. It’s just. It’s weird, man. Cuddles, really?”
“So it was lie.” Cas lets out a quick breath, as though confirming a suspicion. There’s no disappointment in his eyes, which makes Dean feel like the biggest fucking tool in the world. “Well, Dean,” Cas says, voice suspiciously thick, “I suggest that next time, before you make a promise like that, you think it through and only offer it if you mean it.”
“But I did—” Dean grabs Cas’ arm without thinking, “—I did mean it when I said that, Cas, really. You just took me by surprise. You’re not… I just really wasn’t expecting something like that. You’re not the most physical guy I know.”
“Because I don’t get the chance,” Cas says, so fiercely that it makes Dean reel, “I don’t know how to ask, you know how I get things like that wrong. But you said that we’re friends—”
“—so I thought that maybe…” Cas shrugs, angry and helpless.
Somehow that had never occurred to Dean that Cas would want something like that. Cas is just so – so Cas – he’s so self-reliant and composed in his slightly disheveled way, always flitting in and out of their lives as though this is just a placeholder for whatever it is he’s doing most of the time. He handles the big stuff that Dean can barely wrap his head around, so the human world must seem so petty to him, that’s certainly reflected in how he reacts to things like reality tv and rock music and ice-cream sundaes.
But here he is now, asking for something from Dean, and it mustn’t be petty to him because Cas doesn’t do petty – he only does important.
“Hey, man, it’s not my fault you suck it at,” Dean says, ignoring the way Cas looks at him sharply. “No, really, you’re awful. This is how you do it.”
And Dean slides a hand to the back of Cas’ head, curves the other palm around Cas’ waist, and pulls him down. There is space where they fit, they just need to find it. Dean adjusts their bodies and limbs as though solving a jigsaw puzzle, then tucks Cas tight against him. Cas finds that perfect spot against Dean’s neck again, nosing at the skin under his chin, though this time Dean guides Cas’ arm to come all the way round Dean’s body, a lock.
A voice in Dean’s head murmurs that he’ll have to hand in his balls for this display, but Dean just sends back, Fuck it, it’s Christmas.
What also makes it worthwhile is the soft, breathy pleasure in Cas’ voice when he says, “Oh. Oh yes, I see.”
“You gotta move if at any point during the night I lose circulation wherever,” Dean says. “And if I have problem breathing. You’ll be awake, you’ll notice, right?”
“Yes.” Cas’ voice goes even quieter, almost slurring, as if he’s melting into a puddle of goo. “Yes, of course.”
Then it’s all safety and warmth and comfort, Cas’ body an anchoring weight in the quiet night. It’s always nice enough to share a bed with someone but it’s different when they’re there because they want to be there, and not because it’s convenient or coincidental or they’re too tired to move. It’s also really fucking intimate in a way that sex isn’t always, and isn’t that just the kicker?
Dean thinks he could dig this. He thinks he could sleep really well, too, in a way that he hasn’t for a very long time.
“In the morning,” Cas says, which makes Dean grunt irritably because hello, trying to sleep here, “we may have sex?”
Dean’s eyes snap open. “What?”
“How many friends do you cuddle with like this, Dean?” Cas presses a brief, almost delicate kiss to Dean’s neck. There are now goosebumps, and Dean still isn’t entirely sure he isn’t already asleep. “How many friends would you have made an offer like the one you made me?”
Dean clutches at Cas’ waist, suddenly needing confirmation that this is real. Yep, that’s Cas’ bony little hip, and that’s Cas’ hand on his chest, and that’s Cas’ calf moving languidly between Dean’s legs. Dean’s cock twitches hopefully, even if the rest of his body knows damn well that it’s too exhausted for anything right now.
“You got me.” Dean laughs weakly. “I thought… Wow, I thought you didn’t get it.”
“I wasn’t certain,” Cas admits, and Dean is pretty sure he’s smiling right now. “But it was worth a try. Thank you for trying, too. I imagine it must’ve been hard for you – no, you will not make a pun out of that, Dean. Don’t ruin the moment.”
Dean lets his eyes drift shut, even as his grin threatens to split his face in two. “Not ruining the moment, that’s me. Night, Cas.”