A/N: Happy new year to you all! I'm aware this is a short chapter - I initially intended to post it as part of a much longer chapter, but it's been so long since I put anything up I thought it best not to keep you all waiting too long. Hope you enjoy it.

Dean had never been more in awe of anything in his entire life as he stood before Castiel, their clothes discarded, completely bared to each other in every way possible.

As they had slowly undressed each other, Dean had had the feeling that he was shedding not only layers of clothing, but layers of himself that he had built up over the years, desperately trying to disguise the person underneath that had never quite been enough.

But now, under Castiel's intent and adoring gaze, he had never felt more worthy, or more worthwhile.

Dean didn't even know how long it had been since he had arrived at the house... it felt as though they had spent an eternity just looking at each other, kissing and undressing together slowly, whispering words of affection they had never before spoken to another soul.

His gaze trailed down Castiel's body, drinking in every last curve of musculature, every strong, defined angle. It was almost as though he was seeing him, truly seeing him, for the first time...all of his emotions, his hopes, his fragility in plain view...and he had never loved him more.

"You're beautiful..."

Dean knew the words could never do justice to the work of art that stood before him, but somewhere in the expanse of time since he had arrived here tonight, the filter that usually existed between his heart and his mouth had somehow disappeared.

Castiel sighed softly, a delicate blush creeping into his cheeks.

"...So are you."

His voice held a reverence, and his eyes a vulnerability, that Dean had never witnessed before tonight. He was beginning to realise that this was just as big a step for Castiel as it was for himself, that he had just as much to lose now. They were in this together, on every level and in every way.

He reached a trembling hand towards Castiel, who did not hesitate for a second, and pulled him towards him.

Castiel's hands circled around Dean's back, caressing his bare flesh with feather-light strokes as he brought his mouth to Dean's, kissing him as though he were afraid he might break.

Dean could feel the rhythmic thud of Castiel's heart beating against his chest, almost as fast as his own as their lips played softly against each other's, Castiel's touch gentle and explorative.

"You're so warm..." Castiel sighed against Dean's lips, pressing his body flush against him.

Dean shivered at the complete contact, a gentle heat building within him as Castiel's tongue stroked lightly against his own.

He let his hands wander over Castiel's chest, down across his stomach, eliciting a small gasp from the older man as he gently pressed his fingertips into his hips.

"Dean..." Castiel breathed, his hands firmly holding Dean's body against his own. His eyes held a mosaic of emotions, of desires and fears and absolute conviction – everything Dean was feeling in spades.

He slowly stepped back, his arms wrapped tight around Castiel, until he felt the edge of the bed hit the back of his knees. He drew in an unsteady breath as he lowered himself onto the mattress, drawing Castiel down with him.