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Inspired by a comic strip at A Softer World and a running joke from Calvin & Hobbes.
At the bottom of the snow-covered hill is a row of backyards. Suburbia sprawls out and stretches from there, a network of streets and frosted roofs and tall stark trees. When he huffs white steam curls up into the air.
It's beautiful up here.
"I don't understand," Castiel says as he shifts gingerly from his spot. "Why is it that every time we go sledding we end up in a tree?"
Dean laughs and leans back; he can feel the prickle of rough bark against the back of his head. Somewhere up that hill is his skull cap but he's disinclined to shimmy his way down, not when Castiel is stuck on a higher branch and the sled is somewhere at the very top.
"Bad luck," Dean suggests as he swings his feet back and forth, snow boots hitting the trunk. "Or maybe it just likes to fly when you're around. You know, being named after an angel and all. I'm surprised my car hasn't started levitating yet."
Castiel snorts at that. Dean watches as he shifts again, inching himself closer to the trunk. Dean tries not to think about how high up the tree they actually are so he carefully keeps his eyes either in front of him or up. Castiel though keeps glancing down and frowning.
When he moves again the branch he's on shivers, throwing off clumps of snow. For a horrid moment Dean thinks it's going to snap but it holds. Castiel's wrapped his legs tightly around the branch, gloved hands clutching tightly, sitting so still that Dean's having a hard time telling if he's still breathing.
"Cas?" he calls out. "You might want to come down?"
"And leave you up here?"
He has a point. Dean would love nothing more than to have his feet back on solid ground but first he has to steel himself for the actual climb down. And right now he's not ready.
Plus the sled is still up there. He has no idea how it hasn't snapped through the thin branches yet. Maybe if he gives the tree a shake-no, bad idea. He'll just have to throw things at it, or make Sam climb the tree. Shrimp's got skills and he's always been delegated to tree-climbing duties, like Dean's sled and their kite and the Frisbee.
So his next bright idea is, "Come sit with me, then."
Castiel looks at the branch he's on doubtfully. "I don't think it can hold my weight."
"It's thick enough. Can't even wrap my legs around it." Dean pats the empty space in front of him. "Come on."
Castiel looks down at the ground and then at him. Dean tacks on his biggest grin. "I'll catch you if you fall."
A sigh and a white smokestack issues from Castiel's red lips. "Fine. I'm going to regret this."
"No you're not. Don't you trust me?"
Castiel leans to the side and gives him a small smile. "I always trust you."
Dean flushes and suddenly it's not cold anymore. He croaks out, "Of course you do," even though he never understood why. Castiel's probably the only straight-A student to make regular appearances in detention and he still stands by Dean.
"It's not as bad as the gym roof," he says nervously while Castiel carefully swings his right leg over to the other side.
"You broke your ankle."
Oh yeah, that. "I sprained it. There's a difference. Still. Told you it was the best place to watch the fireworks."
Castiel presses his lips into a thin line as he calculates the distance between his branch and Dean's. Then, slowly, he slides himself off. Dean reaches out, hands wrapping around the other teenager's calves. "I got you."
"I can see that," Castiel says. Then, with the nimbleness that their P.E. teacher always admired whenever she put them up against the obstacle course, he swings his right arm around so he's got a solid grip on the branch. That brings him several inches down and the toes of his shoes scrape the bark.
"Almost there, Cas. Come on, I got you."
"I hate you," Castiel mutters as he shifts his grip on the branch. Bits of bark fall off and the branch makes an uncomfortably loud groaning sound. "I really hate you."
"Heard you the first time."
As Dean watches he slowly loosens his death grip on the branch and his feet land on the branch. Castiel lets out a startled breath, like he hadn't expected it, and Dean laughs.
"Just wait until we have to get out of the tree," Castiel says threateningly.
"Did I tell you how much I hate you?" Like the first two times there's no bite in his statement as he takes a sliding step forward. "I hope this holds."
"Just let go. You'll be fine."
Castiel gives him a very dark look that goes straight to his heart and groin. Dean will never, ever admit that one of the reasons why he sticks to Castiel's side is because he gets to see that glower. Sometimes he enjoys nothing more than riling him up just to have that turned on him because Jesus the things it does to him.
"So, uh-" Dean licks his lip and slowly slide his hands up to grip Castiel just above the knees. "You wanna let go?"
Castiel flicks his eyes down to Dean's hands and Dean almost lets go instead. He hopes his hands aren't shaking too obviously, or that Castiel can feel his heart pounding in his chest.
Almost nonchalantly Castiel does and for several seconds he's standing on the large branch with only Dean's hands to keep him from falling, then he's sitting down and Dean's taking his hands back.
The branch holds. Dean slumps against the trunk and takes a lungful of winter air. He looks at Castiel, who's got both legs hanging over one side of the branch; he's slowly swinging them back and forth as he stares out at their town. Dean stares at him, at the blush that's in stark contrast with pale skin, at the hint of stubble and a fading scar from a shaving incident Castiel refuses to talk about, at the wild mess of dark hair and the aquiline nose, at the peaceful look and the slight curve of his mouth.
"Penny for your thoughts," Dean murmurs after several minutes pass.
"I'm wondering where my scarf went."
Dean looks up. Against the gray sky and wispy clouds are the gnarly black fingers of the tree and the sled. There's no deep blue length of fabric in sight.
"Maybe it's somewhere back up the hill," he suggests.
Castiel sighs heavily like it's the end of the world. Maybe to him it is; Dean knows how much he loves that scarf. "I suppose."
"Don't worry, man," Dean says, leaning forward and clapping a hand on his left shoulder. "We'll find it."
Castiel smiles back and his face goes hot. Dean returns it weakly and sits back, letting his fingers slide off.
A few birds fly overhead. Dean traces their path and his eyes nearly roll to the back of his head as they vanish from sight.
It's so quiet up here. They're so far up that the sound of cars on the streets doesn't reach them and nobody's on this particular hill but them. Airplanes are pinpricks in the sky and he wonders where they've been and where they're going.
All he can really hear are the soft puffs of air as Castiel breathes.
"We're not climbing down anytime soon, are we?" Castiel asks.
Dean digs the heel of his boot into the trunk, feeling it catch on the bark. "Sam knows where to look."
"But not for a while."
He shakes his head, remembering the last time they were stuck in a tree and Sam had to traipse around outside for fifteen minutes.
"Barking up the wrong tree?" Dean called out when Sam finally found them.
"Shut up, jerk. Why can't you go sledding on the other hill?"
"Too many people."
Sam shook his head. "It's called sharing. God, how old are you?"
"Eighteen in two months."
"The height of maturity," Castiel said tastefully. "Would you be so kind as to fetch a ladder now? My fingers are frozen and he won't get down without one."
Sam stomped off, shaking his head and muttering about Dean's selective acrophobia. Dean considered it karma when, upon his return with Dad's ladder, the sled fell off the tree right in front of him.
Dean looks up but the sled doesn't seem very interested in obeying the law of gravity. "Nope. Actually, I think he's at Sarah's house. Either they're studying - can't believe they're studying when there's fucking snow outside - or they're making out."
Something about the way he says it makes Dean sit up. Castiel sounds far too pleased about this piece of information when earlier he seemed eager to meet solid, snow-covered ground. "What's so excellent about that?"
"It means we'll be up here for a long time." Castiel looks away as he talks and Dean is almost tempted to dust the snow from his hair.
"I thought that was a bad thing."
"I never said it was a bad thing."
He has no idea what kind of point Castiel is trying to make. "Okay. We're stuck in a tree and neither of us are interested in climbing down so we're going to wait until Sam finds us. How is that not a bad thing?"
Castiel looks at him then and there's a gleam in his blue eyes. Dean's heart sputters. "We're sitting in a tree and we're going to be stuck here for a while."
"And?" Dean almost says but Castiel suddenly slides closer and the branch emits a tiny, tiny groan. He has no idea which one's the reason why his lungs suddenly stop working.
"We can't reach the sled and it's going to get cold and we're sitting in a tree." Castiel swings his leg over the branch, straddles it while he tugs his gloves off. Dean stares as he exposes his hands to the cold, and then almost looks down when Castiel tosses them over the side.
"What are you-"
Castiel is very close now, knees pressed up against his, and all Dean can see is his flushed face and bright, bright eyes and full lips, chapped from the cold and very red.
"So maybe we should do something."
Warm fingertips touch his face, a feathery touch following the angle of his jaw. Dean shivers and leans forward. He thinks his heart's stopped beating, too.
"Like what?" he whispers and steam curdles in the short distance between them.
Castiel's eyes are so blue.
Dean closes the distance between them with a soft press of lips and the world comes to a stop. For the longest, most agonizing moment they don't move; Dean's afraid that if he pulls back everything will shatter or he'll wake up. Then Castiel slowly tilts his head and parts his lips, breathes out slow and hot against his mouth. Their noses rub as Dean tentatively kisses the corner of his mouth, and then he finally pulls himself back. Castiel follows him, whispers, "Don't stop."
Dean shivers at the neediness in his friend's voice, at how deep and rough it sounds in his ear. He leans forward, pressing his forehead to Castiel's and says, "I, uh, it's just...it's overwhelming."
Castiel laughs at that, a quiet knowing chuckle that's only for them. "I know."
He curls his fingers around the back of Dean's head and draws him close, brushes their mouths together. Dean sighs and closes his eyes, shivers when a hot, wet tongue traces the bow of his upper lip.
His head is full of so many questions, like how and when and why and are they really doing it, but his voice is lodged in his throat and his thoughts keep breaking up and scattering. He flexes his hands, needing something to hold onto; he pulls his gloves off and drops them - one might've fallen to the ground down below but he doesn't notice and doesn't particularly care - and wraps them around Castiel's waist. He can feel the cold but it's an afterthought to the heat curling up in his chest, to the way Castiel licks the inside of his upper lip and then the inside of his mouth. Castiel moans when Dean curls his tongue around his and sucks on it, and Dean's embarrassingly hard; his fingers dig into Castiel's hips as he tries not to press his hand against his dick to relieve the pressure. At the same time he wants to laugh at the absurdity of where they are and how they got up here but that'll stop the kissing and he doesn't want to stop.
The only comparison Dean has for this is the four months with Cassie, who loved to take it slow. He can't remember every being this slow with Lisa and Victor and Nick, can't remember the last time he took the time to sit with someone and explore his or her mouth thoroughly and with as much care as Castiel.
Castiel is breathing hard when they finally separate; he sags against Dean, steam coming out of his shiny slick mouth and fading into the afternoon light. Dean can't help but tilt his head and press a careful open-mouthed kiss to his lips. And then they're just sitting there, breathing into each other's mouth, and Dean is almost dizzy from the closeness and the intimacy and the comfort of this.
All this and they're in a tree.
"We're in a goddamn tree," he says and feels Castiel's lips curve into a smile, the huff of air against his bottom lip.
"I think it's perfect."
"I think a bed would be better," Dean says, already imagining them in his bedroom and pulling off each other's clothes, revealing skin to touch and taste. He can't help sliding his hands under Castiel's coat, fingers working themselves under the layers until they touch hot skin and Castiel shudders, eyes darkening.
"That would require climbing down," Castiel says carefully, his voice low and trembling. He leans over like Dean's a magnet and rubs noses, nuzzles into his neck and sighs. "I don't feel like climbing down."
"Too much work?" Dean asks as he kisses the shell of his left ear.
Castiel's voice is slightly muffled and his hot breath against the cold skin of Dean's neck is a glorious sensation. "I like where we are."
"We're in a tree."
"You keep saying that like I don't know." Castiel lifts his head and mouths Dean's jaw, teeth scraping skin. "I just like being away from the world, especially when I'm with you."
Dean turns his head and looks out at their neighborhood, which suddenly seems so far away. They're the only ones up in this tree, on this hill, and with Sam probably at Sarah's they'll be the only ones here for a very long time.
He doesn't like it when his feet are dangling in the air but it's not so bad when Castiel's next to him, commiserating over their habit of getting stuck in trees. It's even better when they're kissing. Dean wouldn't mind getting stuck in trees for hours if it includes kissing Castiel.
"We should go sledding again," Dean says, already wondering which tree they'll end up in next.
"Your sled's still in the tree."
As if on cue something snaps and they start as, with several heavy thuds, the sled falls out and lands somewhere down below.
"There's the sled." Dean says after a long moment. "And we still have to find your scarf. And our gloves. And my hat."
Castiel laughs and cups his face, leans in and whispers, "Maybe later."
Then they're kissing again and Dean forgets about the world outside of Castiel's mouth.