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It’s happening again, and Dean’s not sure if he can stop it, this time. Castiel is pliant against his chest, mouth against his neck, and his fingers are on the buttons of his shirt, and he’s kissing him deliberately, and Dean has one hand in his hair, and the other at the crest of his hip before it drops to the gentle swell of his thigh. It’s good, better than good, unbelievable, really, like so many things are with Castiel, but then the bed bumps against the back of his knees, and Dean jumps, and remembers himself, remembers everything, and like so many times before, he spooks, and breaks away, wiping his mouth on the back of his sleeve.

“Hold on,” he rasps, but Castiel stumbles forwards to match him, and takes his face in both hands.

“Remember, Dean,” he murmurs. “I took you apart and put you back together; I know everything about you. How you work, where and why and when, inside and out. It’s okay. It’ll be fine.”

“I know that,” says Dean, clinging to Castiel’s hips, choking on his words. “It’s not – ”

Castiel brushes his thumb down his cheekbone, drops a kiss at his temple. “What?”

Dean shakes his head, and Castiel’s mouth falls slack.

“You don’t want – ” he begins, in a voice so thin Dean’s afraid it will tear.

“No,” he cries, hoarse, and gives Castiel a hard shake. “Don’t be stupid – I mean – fuck, just look at me, Cas.”

Castiel looks at him, a bit hazily. Dean shakes his head, and his chin bumps the swell of Castiel’s bare shoulder; his shirt’s slipped down, exposing his collarbone and the first lean sloping muscles of his chest. Castiel tilts his head to the side – typical.

“Then what is it?”

“I don’t – I can’t – ”

Dean never liked words; he grabs Castiel by the shoulders, kisses him ferociously, helplessly. Castiel stumbles into his chest, and static crackles and flares over his skin as he hooks his hands in his hair. It’s frenetic, almost panicked; Castiel hangs on like he’s about to melt through his fingertips, and Dean’s terrified because this is more dangerous than anything he’s ever done. His pulse screams in his ears; Castiel gasps for air, and then they’re kissing again, and his shirt is gone, and Castiel’s chest is smooth and powerful, but gives way to Dean’s palms, pressing down his stomach, the subtle arc of his waist.

“I’m – ” He drops his hand, and Castiel breaks away to catch it, expression sharp.

“Don’t do this to me.” His eyes stain navy with the lamplight. “You can’t do this to me, Dean.”

Dean wants to say it – he’s terrified – but of course he can’t, so he drops his chin onto Castiel’s shoulder, presses his lips to his throat, breathes at the nape of his neck. It doesn’t make any sense, this fear; Castiel is kind, and good, and knows Dean inside and out, like he said. He’s precious, actually – a rarity in Dean’s life, unexpected, surreal, and (like all good things that come to Dean) unbearably fragile. Just his existence on Earth teeters on the brink of possibility, let alone his hand at the small of Dean’s back, just beneath his shirt – Dean inhales sharply, but the touch is chaste, curious.

“I won’t – ” Castiel presses their foreheads together, shaking his head almost imperceptibly. “I can’t play games, here, Dean.”

“I don’t want to play games, Cas,” says Dean in a voice broken by desire, conflict, fear. “God, that’s the opposite of what I want.”

Castiel looks him in the eyes, and Dean sighs, and rolls his thumb over the bend of Castiel’s hip without thinking.

“You’re – you have to understand, man. This is so – it’s just – so weird, for me, at least.”

Castiel bites his bottom lip. “Because I’m an angel? Or because I’ve taken the form of a man?”

Dean knew that was coming; he closes his eyes, exhales. “Both. I don’t know.”

Castiel is quiet until Dean can’t stand it any longer, and groans, and pulls Castiel to him without thinking about it, hesitating, questioning.

“Sorry.” He buries his face in his hair, tries to breathe in the scent of him, deep into his lungs. “I’m an idiot. You don’t deserve this.”

“I know,” says Castiel mildly, and Dean laughs, and it’s such a relief. Castiel is quiet again, but in a good way, chin balanced on Dean’s shoulder, thumbs looped in his belt, just breathing against him for a long time, not asking for anything, torturously generous as always.

“Dean,” he says at long last. “We don’t have to.”

“I know,” says Dean. “I know.”

He looks down, but Castiel is staring at his collarbone, toying with the edge of his shirt. He’s pretty with the lamplight spilt across his skin, like gold leaf on the gentle nuances of his throat and chest. He’s flushed, too, and his mouth is pink and swollen, and he parts his lips just a bit when he realizes that Dean is staring at him a bit blearily.

“Jesus Christ, I’m stupid,” says Dean, breathlessly. Castiel nods, but doesn’t reach for his face or anything, and Dean can’t really blame him. He sighs, and catches Castiel’s hand, and kisses the knuckles, the fingertips, the flat space in the center of his palm. Castiel glances at him, hopefully, maybe, and Dean’s chest suddenly feels expansive, carbonated, like everything is bubbling up inside him.

“I’ll try,” he blurts out. “I can’t guarantee it’ll be great, but I’ll try, I promise.”

Castiel stares at him for a moment, mouth slack before he outright grins, eyes flickering to life like chips of bright blue glass. He leans upwards, and Dean accommodates, letting his arms wind in around his neck. He’s trying not to worry; he knows he shouldn’t, but it’s hard. Castiel is so bright and pure and precious, and it’s so strange, and foreign, and so much could go wrong – it could all go wrong, actually, every last bit. But Dean promised not to worry, so he won’t. He just takes a deep breath, and – in the weight of Castiel in his arms, the rasp of his voice, the press of his mouth, the feel of his skin, as he’s never done before in his entire life – tries to forget himself.

It’s not easy, at first, especially because Castiel is awkward, suddenly all irregular hard angles and uncertainty, and Dean doesn’t know what to do with himself, either; he’s used to soft breasts and supple thighs, after all, not the grate of five o’clock shadow, not powerful broad shoulders. But at least Castiel is honest about it, laughing fondly when his shoulders crack against the headboard, or when Dean jars at the tilt of his jaw, or tries to nestle between his thighs but just ends up sort of tangled up in the knobby points of his knees.

“This is hopeless,” he mumbles, arms loose around Dean’s neck, sort of wedged between the pillows and the headboard, and Dean can’t help but raise his hackles, if only because it’s Castiel who’s pushing forwards, so he doesn’t have permission to be dissatisfied.

“Think you can do better?”

Castiel rolls his eyes, and kisses Dean to wipe away his stricken expression, knitting his fingers into the soft hair at the nape of his neck.

“I meant that in the best way,” he murmurs against his mouth. “It’s charming. But – “

He hoists himself onto his elbows, pushes Dean up a bit by one shoulder – his hand, actually, almost fits into the raised scar, and Dean’s pulse stutters – and shifts to the side, hooking a leg up over Dean’s hip so that he’s suddenly pressed along the length of his chest, and then, just like that, they fit together, Castiel’s arms snug around his neck, his back cradled in his palms.

“That’s more like it,” he says softly, and though he’s smug, the quirk of his mouth is colored by a tenderness that Dean hates to acknowledge, because it seems impossible, too good to be true.

“Sorry,” he mutters, heart thudding, and Castiel snorts, and cups his face in the curve of his palm.

“Don’t. It’s supposed to be like this.”

Dean raises an eyebrow. “Like crap?”

“Stop; it’s the best I’ve ever had, at least.”

Dean snorts.

“That’s real swell, Cas, but we haven’t even started yet, and you’re a virgin.”

“Shut up.” Castiel traces the lines of his face, the premature creases at the corners of his eyes, his mouth, and presses his thumb to the generous dip of his lower lip. Dean’s breath catches, and he remembers that he’s not supposed to worry. He bends down, and kisses Castiel carefully, but with a certain abandon, so that he sighs and arches up a bit into his chest and mumbles his name against his lips.

It goes on like that for a while, kissing and getting the rhythm of each other, the tempo of tangled breathing, the beat of fingertips, and soon that carbonated feeling is back, bubbling up in Dean’s chest until it’s uncontrollable, and he’s afraid it might spill over. He gasps for air, but Castiel is having none of it, suddenly greedy, lunging forwards whenever Dean pulls back, dragging him under. It’s too good, and Dean can’t resent it, even if he’s drowning. Castiel lets him take the reins, but he’s not submissive; he kisses Dean all over, and his hands make great burning trails over his body, and he rasps out his name now and again, almost like a prayer.

“What now?” he whispers at some point, and Dean shuts his eyes, because he loves simple things, tangible things that he can fixed with a little concentration, but both of them know that it can’t be so simple for much longer.

“Well – ” He exhales unsteadily; Castiel has both legs hooked up at his hip, now, and his chest heaves. His own hands are trembling, and he tries to steady himself. “I need…”

He can’t bring himself to say it, but Castiel has watched humans for a long time, and even if he’s not the savviest, he understands enough. His voice is soft, sympathetic. “I see. Don’t you carry – ”

“Usually,” mumbles Dean. He should have thought about this, really. “Let me check.”

Castiel groans, and sort of clings onto his shoulders as he slips away, but lets him go. “Hurry.”

Dean’s getting close to desperate, too, even if he’s still scared, and he fumbles about in his clothes for a while before he finds his wallet. He rifles through the chaos of cards and tattered small bills and gives a sigh of relief. He tucks the silver packet into the palm of his hand and clambers back onto the bed; Castiel blinks – he’s been watching the whole time, Dean realizes with a funny warm splinter of pride - and there’s a curious look in his eyes.

Dean rips open the packet with his teeth. “What?”

Castiel shrugs, and looks down.

“Nothing,” he mumbles, and even though Dean knows something’s going unsaid, he can’t care anymore, because Castiel is grabbing at his neck and pulling him back into the circle of his arms, against the dips of curves of his body, hooking his legs back around his waist, smiling against his mouth. Dean takes a deep breath, because this is it. This is everything.

He sits up, tossing the package to the side, and tries not to look worried, because he’s not worried – he made a promise, after all. Castiel gazes up at him blearily, eyes soft melted blue, one hand still cupped around the bend of his neck, thumb on his Adam’s apple. He’s lying with his body entirely open, so unassuming that it makes Dean’s chest hurt.

“Are you sure about this?” he asks, and is surprised at the grate in his own voice.

Castiel rolls his eyes, but his face is soft. “No, actually. I just spent all this effort coaxing you into bed only to slip away at the last minute. Hilarious, am I not?”

“Don’t be a smartass. Look, just tell me if I – ” Dean swallows the words. Another thing he can’t say.

“Sure.” Castiel leans up and kisses him, and meets his eyes. “But you won’t hurt me.”

Dean wants to say otherwise, but Castiel is kissing him again, and coaxing him forwards on the mattress. Dean reaches for his leg to hook it over his shoulder, but stops at the soft feel of the back of his knee, at the way he tilts his head back with a sigh, ready and vulnerable.

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he blurts out. “I’ve never done this before, not like this.”

Castiel frowns.

“Of course you haven’t; you think you’re heterosexual. Stop worrying. It’ll be fine.”

Dean thinks of saying a lot of things – easy for you to say, what if it’s not fine, what if it doesn’t work and we don’t work and it all goes to hell like everything else, what then? – but Castiel urges him forwards, pressing his palms to his shoulder blades, titling his hips up. Dean bites on his lower lip, and looks down, and Castiel’s eyes widen. That’s pretty bad, because it means the fear is visible on Dean’s face, tangible in the hesitant brush of his fingertips. But Castiel only smiles.

“I trust you, Dean.”

And it’s as simple as that, really. Dean’s stomach twists in the best way, and he grips Castiel as best he can and kisses him hard, so that he slams up against the headboard a bit. He feels the bump of his ankles, the creak of the mattress, the hot cling of his fingers, and tries not to hesitate anymore. Castiel nods into his shoulder, and Dean shuts his eyes, and pushes, and both of them sort of recoil at the feeling, caught stunned and breathless together.

“You okay?” gasps Dean as soon as he can, because for a long time it’s too much, being so close to Castiel, that is. It’s much more than he could have imagined, at least, and they’re fitted together so nicely, all interlocking limbs and hands, hearts beating together, but he has to ask because Castiel is absurdly precious and all precious things are fragile, too.

“I am fine,” breathes Castiel, eyes wide and impossibly blue, reduced to stuttered, half-broken formal sentences. “I am fine, Dean. You may continue.”

Dean chuckles, and at that moment the carbonated feeling is overwhelming, spilling up out of his chest to flush through his entire body, warm and heady, and he kisses Castiel as he pushes forwards again, gently at first, but then with the full force of his hips because he can’t help himself anymore, he can’t worry, and he’s making good on his promise, at least. For his part, Castiel clutches at his shoulders, tipping his head back so that the extense of his throat lies exposed, interrupted by the frenetic bob of his Adam’s apple, and Dean gasps, and kisses him fiercely, maybe searching his mouth for the words that lie broken on the tip of his own tongue, that he can’t acknowledge yet.

He can’t quite believe it, honestly. It’s really happening; they find a rhythm, and it’s really happening. The world blurs a bit at the edges, and it’s not so much because Castiel is really brilliant at this but because he’s Castiel, Castiel who is infinitely generous and open and good, and he’s as honest in love as he is about anything, and it’s obvious in the heady come and go of his breathing and the abandon in his eyes that he’s giving himself wholly, with more trust than Dean’s ever thought possible, and that is amazing, it truly is. It’s incredible; it’s downright surreal, and then Dean realizes that he has to stop, because if he doesn’t – well.

“Wait, Cas – ” he starts, voice ragged, but Castiel shushes him with a kiss that’s too chaste, considering the situation, and stretches up to press his lips to his ear, breath hot.

“It’s alright, Dean.” His hand is in Dean’s hair, at the nape of his neck, the arc of his jaw. “You’re with me, remember? You can let go.”

And for once, Dean doesn’t argue, because he’s with Castiel, and that means he’s safe, so he shuts his eyes and lets Castiel kiss him, and comes with a little shudder, and before Castiel can pull away he has his cock in his hand, and with a few long strokes it’s done, and Castiel is groaning, and it’s over. He falls boneless into Castiel, nestling at the hollow of his collarbone, burrowing into the smell of his hair, and tries to regret something but finds that he can’t, and isn’t that something.

It’s a long time before they talk. Dean is slumped in the curve of Castiel’s throat and Castiel has one hand in Dean’s hair, smoothing it from his forehead. They don’t really need words.

“Dean,” murmurs Castiel at long last, voice still gravelly, and Dean blinks up at him, trying not to smile stupidly, probably failing. Castiel takes a deep breath; his eyes blur a bit, and he looks away. That’s atypical, and even a little worrying; Dean tries to sit up a bit more, concerned. Castiel meets his eyes.

“I am in love with you, Dean,” he says, and then, hurriedly: “You have no obligation to respond. I just wanted you to know.”

Dean is quiet for a long time – he’s not surprised, but he’s a bit dismayed, because it was so good and he hates to ruin it – and then he sighs, and takes Castiel’s face in both hands, wishing he could lie.

“I’m sorry. I don’t have a response yet, Cas. I don’t – I don’t know.” He looks down. “But it’s not – it’s…it’s not out of the question. I promise. I just – wait, please.”

To his surprise, Castiel’s expression is awash with relief.

“Oh,” he says, rather distantly, like he’s waking from a dream. “That’s more than I was ever hoping for. Thank you, Dean.”

Dean can’t help it; his mouth falls open a bit. “You’re – thanking me?”

Castiel tilts his head to one side. “Is that not an appropriate gesture of gratitude?”

Dean shakes his head, incredulous. “Christ. You’re impossible.”

Castiel looks uncertain, like he’s deciding whether to be insulted or not, maybe wondering if that was a pop culture reference or an idiom, and Dean outright laughs, and kisses him, taking his chin in one hand until the stiffness leaves his shoulders and he’s smiling again, albeit shyly, and of course he’s shy now, of all times.

“Dean,” he asks softly, “can I ask you something?”

Dean’s a bit wary, but he nods, and Castiel bites his swollen lower lip, bashful.

“Can we do this more often?”

Dean stares for a moment, wordless, and then he smirks. “Only if you insist, princess.”

Castiel’s eyes widen. “I don’t understand – ”

“Shut up.” Dean kisses the bow of his upper lip. “Just teasing.”

“Dean, this is serious,” replies Castiel, but his eyes are sparkling.

“I’m being serious,” chuckles Dean, and turns off the lamp, and rolls back over, and hesitates. The room is dark except for the wedge of moonlight cast in one corner and the vague shadows on the slope of Castiel’s shoulders, his jaw. A question is going unasked; Dean swallows, a bit thickly.

“So, are you going to – ”

Castiel is an angel, so he doesn’t need sleep. He doesn’t need anything much at all, actually. Dean fidgets, pulling the edge of the sheet between his thumb and forefinger. Castiel is staring at him gravely, of course, and he sighs, and stares up at the ceiling.

“Are you going to stay?”

Castiel looks at him like he’s insane. “Did you think I wouldn’t?”

Dean feels heat flood his neck. “I don’t know. Shut up.”

Castiel shakes his head, and leans over the side of the bed to retrieve a pillow. He sorts out the sheets while Dean watches, a bit slack-jawed, maybe, and then pulls the comforter up to the swell of his shoulder, turns over, and mumbles goodnight. It’s quiet for a long minute, just the hum of the ceiling fan and the sound of breathing. Dean sighs, gets his pillow, too, and then – and this takes more bravery than a thousand demons, it really does – scoots up towards Castiel and sort of twists his arm up beneath his elbow so that his palm splays flat on his stomach.

He feels rather than hears the sharp intake of breath, and then Castiel shifts back so that he presses into the dip of Dean’s torso, and relaxes. Like that, the top of his head ends up tucked beneath Dean’s chin, so that his lips are buried in his hair. Dean’s heart thuds; he’s too aware of everything, of the gentle rumble of Castiel against him, of what sort of embrace this is, what with their legs and arms all tangled together and Castiel lacing his fingers through Dean’s, maybe think he’s being surreptitious when really it’s painfully obvious he’s only feigning sleep.

It hits Dean more clearly than ever that Castiel loves him, and the carbonated feeling suddenly compresses itself into a lump stuck in his throat, and he swallows heavily, to no avail. Now Castiel is really asleep, warm and pliant, and Dean dares to prop himself on one elbow to catch a glimpse of his face. It’s slack and tranquil, and he swallows again, but doesn’t bother to unlace their fingers, because it’s alright. Dean’s not good with words, but he is good with promises, and one day he’ll tell Castiel everything, but for now he reckons that it’s okay to be like this, wound up together in tacit acknowledgement of everything, because some things can go unsaid for long than you’d think.

And just like that, Dean thinks that maybe he doesn’t have to worry anymore.