Author's Note: Sooo sorry I didn't update yesterday! Family has come to visit and I don't think they'd appreciate me sitting at the computer all day. I hope to update at least once more this week, maybe twice. Enjoy the holidays, spend time with your loved ones, and pretty please review! :)

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Dean did not do the cold. He was born in Kansas and could only remember how much he hated the cold and the snow there. San Diego was much more his style, sunny and warm all year round. As great as San Diego was, it did a terrible job of acclimating him to the freezing nights of an Afghan winter.

He sat up, keeping watch the whole night while Cas slept propped against his chest, wearing his fucking shirt. Dean, meanwhile, had only a thin short-sleeved undershirt to keep him warm. At first Dean had been embarrassed about snuggling (because there was really nothing else to call it) with Cas because Dean Winchester did not fucking snuggle! After just a few hours, though, Dean had embraced the suck and literally embraced his companion, trying to keep them as close as possible to conserve warmth.

Nearly 12 hours had passed and Cas had yet to awaken, which was concerning to Dean. He'd known far too many guys who had gone overseas and been involved in an accident, usually an IED attack, and suffered a traumatic brain injury. Maybe something similar had happened to Cas? Dean decided to give Cas another hour before he was going to wake him up, like it or not. Luckily, Dean wouldn't have to wait long.

Cas soon began to stir, quietly moaning as he regained consciousness. Apparently sleeping through the night hadn't helped the man's pain at all, as he started thrashing his head from side to side just like the night before. Quickly Dean slid out from underneath Cas and laid him down on his back.

"Hey, uh… Cas? Can you hear me, man?" Dean asked. Blue eyes immediately opened wide and locked onto his, but Cas didn't speak.

"Um, Cas? Are you alright?" Dean tried again. Still there was not response, and Dean began to seriously worry about the possibility of brain damage.

"Fuck fuck fuck fuck…" Dean muttered under his breath, closing his eyes and trying as hard as he could to remember what to do in a case of suspected brain damage. "God damn it! Please don't have brain damage, please don't have brain damage…" Dean repeated, as if saying it enough times would make it true.

Cas, still unblinking, narrowed his eyes slightly and tilted his head sideways, taking in the spectacle of Dean mumbling to himself.

"I may have a slight concussion, but I do not believe I have suffered any brain trauma," Cas said slowly.

Dean immediately opened his eyes and stared at him, entranced by the deep, gravelly voice that came from such a light and lithe man. He must have looked like a complete idiot, Dean realized, because the corners of Cas' lips turned up slightly when he spoke again.

"I do not believe we have been properly introduced yet, although you seem to know very well who I am," Cas said.

Dean mentally smacked himself; what had he been thinking, not ever telling the guy who he was? Hell, Cas could think he was a bad guy from any number of other countries for all he knew. Considering what he knew about the guy's profession, it wouldn't surprise him if Cas did suspect Dean of wanting to harm him.

"I can only assume, because you have not tortured or killed me yet, that you are," Cas paused slightly for dramatic effect, the bastard, "my rescue party."

Geez, this guy made him sound like some knight in shining armor; that just wouldn't do. As Dean continued his mental reprimand, which had become much more frequent since the start of this mission, Cas pulled himself up into a sitting position against the side of the cave.

"Petty Officer First Class Dean Winchester, United States Navy SEALs," Dean said, extending his hand toward Cas. Cas graciously accepted his handshake with, Dean noted, a nice, firm grip…

Instead of saying anything further, Cas tilted his head and closed his eyes, as if processing this information took a lot of work. Dean was becoming convinced that if the guy wasn't crazy, he must be some serious introspective-thinker type, the kind who wrote books and newspaper editorials. Dean sat silently as he watched an array of expressions cross his companion's face; first deep thought and then confusion before settling on concern. He opened his eyes and looked directly at Dean.

"You know, it is highly unusual that the Agency would choose to send in a Navy SEAL, all by himself, rather than another agent. You work in teams. We work alone. You like to run your mouths. We like to keep our problems ours," Cas said. It was a statement, but there was no hiding the hidden question behind the words, why are you here?

Dean, of course, knew the answer to this, that the CIA suspected one of their own had betrayed Cas, but he didn't know what to say. Or if he should say anything. The guy was injured and vulnerable and Dean didn't want him getting crazy or anything. So Dean, great orator that he was, settled for the eloquent, "Oh, um, yeah. I thought it was weird too," as a response.

Cas' one quirked eyebrow in response told Dean he didn't buy a word Dean was saying, but he wasn't going to push it. Dean was grateful for the out and quickly changed the subject.

"So, you're hurt pretty bad," he commented.

Not missing a beat, Cas shot back, "You are pretty unprepared." He accentuated his point with a deliberate sweep of his blue eyes around the cave, which was now glaringly empty. Leave it to a spy to notice, despite the pain he must undoubtedly have been in, the fact that Dean was missing his rucksack.

"Yeah… About that…" Dean started. He explained to Cas the events of the last 24 hours; how he had hidden the rucksack close to the village, but was unable to retrieve it after rescuing Cas and had decided to find a hiding place for themselves instead. "So I need to go get it. You can't go anywhere until you heal at least a little, and the longer we sit here the more likely we are to be discovered, which means I need to get it as soon as possible to start treating you. I'll have to leave you here, but I'll give you my pistol so you can defend yourself."

Cas appeared to think it over for a while, his jaw set and lips pursed. It was obvious he didn't like the plan and Dean was certain he would argue with it. He was prepared to launch into another round of reasons why it was necessary when Cas spoke.

"It is a dangerous and reckless plan, but I do not see that we have any other choice. If you leave immediately, I believe you will be able to return only slightly after night has fallen," he said. "I will take your pistol," he added quickly, holding his hand out. "That will be more than enough."

Dean handed over the pistol and the two extra magazines held in his vest. Cas seemed more than familiar with how to handle the weapon, which both terrified Dean and turned him on.

"So, yeah. Um…" Dean struggled at the extremely awkward goodbye. All he could think to do was pull out his extra canteen of water and hand it to Cas. "Make sure you drink that," he said before sliding out the entrance to the cave.

"Be safe, Petty Officer Winchester," was Cas' farewell remark. What struck Dean was the way Cas said it; not as a message of good luck, but as a command.

Dean had a lot of time on his trek across the mountains to think about Cas and his comments. It occurred to Dean that even though Cas would never admit it, he was scared. Dean was his only chance for survival, and here he was, going back to the village where every adult male wanted his head on a stick. But after all Cas had done for his country, there was no way Dean was going to let him down.

Dean's assessment of Cas wasn't very far off the mark; he was unaccustomed to feeling helpless and being the one looked after. When he woke up he was disoriented and confused; the last clear memory he had was of being tortured by the villagers. After that, he had lapsed in and out of consciousness, capturing small clues to what was going on. He remembered darkness, being jostled around, and the color green, but above all, he remembered pain.

It was the pain that ultimately woke him up, but as soon as he realized there was another person present he shut down all his body's responses and looked around. It took all of two seconds to realize why he'd been imagining the color green when he found green eyes boring into his. Sure, the man they belonged to was gorgeous, but it was hard to win Cas' trust, especially in light of recent events. It was only when the stranger was on the verge of hysterics over the possibility of brain trauma that Cas could safely say the man was invested in his health and safety.

After a brief explanation, it was clear that they were in a random cave on a random mountain because of the SEAL's botched rescue mission. Cas was certainly appreciative, but he disliked the limitations placed on members of the military due to international law. If it had been up to any agent, himself included, there wouldn't have been anyone able to signal the rest of the village. In and out, quick and easy. But Cas found Winchester's morals, as well as his dedication to treating Cas' injuries, strangely endearing, especially on such a skilled warrior.

However much Cas enjoyed his company, he was glad when Winchester left. The supplies in the abandoned ruck were absolutely necessary and Cas was in excruciating pain, so much so that it was difficult to hide from Winchester. He could only hope that nothing would happen to his companion; Winchester was his only hope, and all he could do was wait.