Castiel stared at the invitation on his desk.

It looked nice enough, bright red with embossed gold stars and gold lettering. Someone had put some money into it. Castiel picked it up and read it, unable to summon up much enthusiasm. One line in particular jumped out at him.

'Castiel Novak and guest'

His heart plummeted. The rest of the invitation detailed the planned buffet, the hours the office Christmas party would take place and requested for him to RSVP so they'd know how many where coming. It felt like someone, possibly Meg from human resources, was mocking him. He turned the invitation over in his hand, looking for some sign that it was her handwork.

Contrary to popular office belief that thought Castiel went home to his cat and a glass of warm milk every night, Castiel did like to go out. Dean was always dragging him out to movies he wanted to see or to new burger joints that had just opened and promised to make the best fries in the state. They'd even been to a gun show once and after that, Dean had taken him down to the shooting range and tried to teach him how to fire a gun without knocking himself off his feet. It hadn't been their most successful outing but that wasn't the point. The point was that Castiel still enjoyed a more active social life then his colleagues believed.

He would have liked to go to the office party, to show his face and have a glass of champagne that had probably gone flat by the time the tray was passed round, to talk to people and feel the warm glow of Christmas cheer. He just didn't want to go alone. It was a different sort of event when you were invited to bring someone. Not having a date made you the odd one out in a room of happy couples.

Everyone would assume that you were spending Christmas alone or, in Castiel's case, alone with his cat and people looked at him sadly and tutted about him needing to meet people. Never mind that he was spending Christmas with Dean and Sam.

There was more to it than that though. Castiel could deal with people thinking he was lonely, even if that wasn't the case. They tended to look on him like someone to be pitied. Castiel could handle being pitied. There were worse things.

There was a knock on his office door and he looked up, frowning. His section chief, Zachariah Adler, was standing in the doorway, a smile on his face which always made Castiel feel queasy to look at. He imagined it was the sort of smile a spider might give a fly before moving in for the kill. If sharks could smile then they'd smile like Zachariah Adler.

"Is there something you wanted?" Castiel asked briskly. The less time he had to spend around Zachariah the better in his opinion.

Zachariah stepped forward, glancing around Castiel's office, his face showing obvious disdain.

"Yes, I was wondering if you had the Harvelle file."

"One moment. Let me have a look," Castiel said. He set his invitation back down on his desk and crossed the room to pull out the drawers of his filing cabinet in search of the needed file. Zachariah didn't wait patiently like anyone else would have done. He began picking things up off Castiel's desk, inspecting them and then putting them back in the wrong place – a paper weight, the framed photograph of Castiel and his family taken the last family reunion, another file that he'd been working on. Castiel gritted his teeth and tried his best to focus on the task in hand. The sooner he found the file Zachariah was looking for, the sooner the man would leave but he couldn't help being distracted.

Finally, Zachariah picked up the invitation. He read it, sneering, and then tapped the embossed front. "Are you planning on coming to this?" he asked.

"Yes," Castiel said.

"Not bring anyone, are you?" Zachariah didn't wait for him to continue, but carried on. "No, your sort aren't into the long term, are they? It's your lifestyle, I suppose. It all seems rather meaningless but you must enjoy it or else you wouldn't choose it."

Castiel felt the muscles in his jaw strain with the effort of keeping his mouth shut. He grabbed the Harvelle file, banged the draw shut and shoved the file at Zachariah, hitting him square in the centre of the chest. Zachariah looked at him, his eyes wide for a moment and then he smiled again. He enjoyed seeing him angry, Castiel realised. In an ideal world he wouldn't have given Zachariah that satisfaction but the world wasn't ideal and Castiel hated the fact that Zachariah could make snide innuendos about him based on his sexuality and get away with it. It wasn't as if there was anyone Castiel could go to to make a complaint. The upper management all hung together and there was no specific employment law to protect him. Castiel had looked into it, when the insinuations first started but he'd come to the conclusion quickly that either he accepted it and kept his head down or quit the company.

Castiel simply had to force himself to get though the unpleasant moments. He couldn't leave the job until he had another one lined up and, apart from Zachariah and ilk, he did like the company.

"There," he said. "There's the file."

Zachariah flashed him another one of his ugly, deeply unattractive smiles. He dropped the invitation back on to Castiel's desk and took hold of the file.

"Maybe give this one a miss, hmm?" he suggested, nodding towards the invitation. "It's for couples really."

Content, having said his piece and put Castiel in his place, Zachariah swept out of the office.

Castiel collapsed into his office chair, glaring at the man's back until he couldn't see him anymore. He sighed, turning back to his computer screen. The invitation's gold, embossed lettering winked at him from the corner of his eye. Zachariah was the perfect example of the other reason Castiel dreaded office parties without a date. Every time he turned up to an event without a boyfriend it just confirmed a number of prejudiced preconceptions about gay men. Half the office thought he was sad and lonely, the other half thought he spent his free time cruising and picking up anonymous men for sex.

Castiel would gladly deal with any number of good natured, but misguided people thinking he was lonely than deal with bigots who sniggered about him behind their hands and made it clear in a hundred little different ways that he wasn't welcome and he wasn't the same as them.

Dean swallowed his mouthful of beer, frowning as he got a good look at Castiel's unhappy expression. It felt like a week didn't go by when Cas didn't come round, depressed and brimming with anger about the way his bosses treated him. Dean already knew the script off by heart. He'd tell Cas to jack in the job and go work for someone who'd treat him better. Cas would 'um' and 'ah' until he convinced himself that he'd be bankrupt in a week if he quit his job and talk himself round into staying. Then, next week, he'd be back at Dean's kitchen table, looking forlorn and nursing a beer while the repeated the whole act all over again.

This time, however, there was a difference. This time Dean had an opportunity to do something.

He picked up the invitation that Castiel had miserably laid in front of him and read it again.

"Why don't I come with you?" he said, tossing the invitation back across the table to Castiel. "It says plus guest. I can be your guest."

Castiel stared at him. Dean wondering if Castiel thought he was joking or what because it seemed to take him a long time to come up with an answer.

"They'll think you're my boyfriend."

Dean shrugged. "Let them. I'm not gonna see any of them after that night. It's no skin off my nose if a room of stuffed shirts think I'm gay."

Castiel hesitated. "If you're sure," he said finally.

Dean leant back in his chair, raising his beer again. "I'm sure. It'll be fine, Cas. We'll shake up some of those dicks in your office."

"Dean," Castiel shook his head. "Please, nothing wild. You could get me fired."

"I don't know why you keep working for these assholes, Cas."

Castiel shrugged, looking miserable again. "It's a job."

Dean took a swig from his bottle, swallowing angrily. "I wouldn't kowtow to any bastards you work for."

"I know, Dean. It explains why you've been fired so many times," Castiel said. Dean could practically hear him rolling his eyes.

Dean grinned. "Each one of those was a matter of principle."

"You're a very principled person," Castiel agreed. There was just the hint on a smile on his lips.

"That's why you love me, Cas."

The red and gold theme of the invitation had been carried through to the party itself. There were red table clothes on the tables, gold ribbon and tinsel hung up in festive bunches, gold stars scattered over the tables. There was a buffet of canapés and other little snaky food laid out against the wall, catered by one of the top events planners. There was an open bar, which most of the staff seemed to have drifted towards. A professional photographer was going round, snapping people's photos and Castiel realised, with a sinking heart, that there were just as many clients of the company there as there were employees. The evening was obviously planned as a promotional event, not a chance to relax and enjoy the fruits of a year of hard work.

At least Dean looked good in his tux. He'd complained about having to rent one but it suited him. He looked handsome, but a different type of handsome to his usual look. Dean looked effortless, like he'd walked out of an advert and he only spoiled it slightly but demanding a beer instead of the glass of wine that was offered to him at the bar. Castiel kept staring at him. It was hard not to. When he managed to look away he found other people equally as entranced as he was. Dean wasn't the sort of person who could be ignored. It wasn't just the fact that he was attractive. He radiated an air of charm that drew in everyone around him. Dean made people want to be around him, if only to see what he'd do next.

Castiel hung around the edges of the party, the perpetual wallflower. He spoke to people when they talked to him but he didn't actively seek them out. He kept watching Dean.

He was so preoccupied with Dean that he didn't notice Zachariah slide up next to him until it was too late. Castiel couldn't turn away or walk off now without looking rude.

"Are you enjoying the party, Castiel? I didn't think you were coming," he said.

"I found a date," Castiel said, not feeling the need to elaborate. His eyes follow Dean though the crowd as Dean fought his way back from the bar, a bottle of beer in one hand and a glass of champagne in other.

"Ah," Zachariah said, his gaze following Castiel's. "I didn't realise he was your type, Castiel."

"Dean's an old friend," Castiel supplied, wondering exactly what Zachariah meant. It was probably another snide remark but Castiel wasn't in the mood to spend too much time figuring it out. He'd come to the party to have fun, not to engage in another round of innuendos.

"I think it would be best if you did tell people he was just a friend," Zachariah said. "After all, we're a family company. We wouldn't want our clients to get the wrong idea about us."

Castiel bit his tongue, a lot of things he wanted to say bubbling up in his throat, but he kept his mouth shut. Dean finally managed to make his way back through the crowd and joined them, passing Castiel his glass of champagne.

"Sorry that took so long. Loads of single girls here and they all seemed to want to talk to me. Had to tell them I was already here with someone," he said, winking. Castiel felt his stomach drop. Zachariah coughed.

"Yes, about that," he said nastily. "I've just been talking to Castiel here and we've agreed it would be best if you just told everyone you're friends. I'm sure you understand."

Dean's eyes narrowed. "I don't, actually."

"This company supports traditional values," Zachariah said smoothly. "It doesn't support alternative lifestyles."

"Is that the company talking or you?" Dean asked, taking a step towards Zachariah.

"Dean!" Castiel put his hand on Dean's arm. He shook his head quickly. "It's fine."

"I'm glad to hear it; I know we don't want any unpleasantness, especially not so near to Christmas," Zachariah smiled, another one of his sickly, fake smiles. "I really should go and say hello to some of the other guests. It was good to see you, Castiel and your ifriend/i." He put an emphasis on the word friend that made Castiel wish the ground would open up and swallow him so he didn't have to spend another moment with Zachariah Adler staring down his nose at him, and then Zachariah was gone, blending back in to the sea of bodies.

Castiel lifted his glass of champagne to his lips and swallowed half of it in one quick gulp. It didn't do anything to make him feel better. Dean was staring at him, his jaw set.

"Why did you agree to tell people we're only friends?" he asked.

"We are," Castiel answered meekly. "And he's my boss, Dean. I can't just….Do you want to leave?" He really couldn't fault Dean if he did want to go. He'd thought this was a bad idea from the beginning but Dean had been so insistent, had convinced him that it would be a good idea and Castiel always found himself agreeing with Dean despite his better judgement.

Dean sighed, his shoulders slumping and he shook his head. "No, Cas. I don't want to go. Look, let's go try out the food. Maybe they've got pigs in blankets. I love pigs in blankets."

As it turned out, the buffet didn't have pigs in blankets. Dean muttered under his breath, filling his plate with odds and ends but ignoring most of the food. Castiel could see why. It wasn't Dean's normal sort of fair. There was a cranberry and wild rice salad, couscous, fiddly little filo pastry wrapped vegetable tarts. There was very little meat and not a lot in the way of food Dean normally ate. Castiel wasn't feeling very hungry but he popped a few things on to his plate, just to make a show of trying it. They retreated back to the corner of the room and Dean picked despondently at his plate.

"You should have brought Sam," he said. "He'd go crazy over this stuff."

"Yes," Castiel agreed, unenthusiastically.

He ate a few mouthfuls but none of it was really to his tastes. Food didn't excite Castiel. He supposed everything was on trend but the only thing he really enjoyed was a greasy, cheap burger and a cup of black coffee which no self-respecting caterer would choose to put out on a buffet.

Someone tapped him on the shoulder and Castiel turned to see Meg. She was dressed to kill and with Meg that could be taken literally as well as figuratively. She smiled at him, all plum coloured lipstick and dark black nails. Meg did festive in a way no one else would ever have tried.

"Is this the boyfriend?" she asked, pointing at Dean. Dean paused, his mouth half-full of food.

"He's a friend," Castiel said before Dean could swallow his mouthful.

Meg rolled her eyes at him. "iPlease/i. I've been waiting for you to bring someone to one of these parties. It's so boring watching you play nice with Zachariah." She circled Dean, eyeing him critically. "He's pretty. Does he do tricks too?"

"Who's this?" Dean asked. He glanced at Meg, frowning. "Like what you see?"

"I've see better," Meg said, smiling. She offered her hand to shake. "I'm Meg Masters, Head of Human Resources."

"She's a friend," Castiel said, his tone uncertain. Meg might be a friend but just as likely she was an enemy. She didn't like Zachariah but that hardly meant anything, no one really liked Zachariah. She'd still be the one signing his pink slip if Castiel was fired.

Meg turned to beam at him. "Isn't that sweet? I'm a friend!" She turned back to Dean, her eyes narrowing slightly. "A friend who'd hate to hear about Castiel being hurt. I know where to bury the bodies. I'm in HR."

Dean laughed. "Don't you worry about me. I don't plan on letting Cas get hurt." He caught Castiel's eye and smiled at him, a soft, warm smile that made Castiel's heart flutter. It would be so easy to believe that Dean was his date, a real date, not just there as a friend to ruffle a few corporate feathers. It wasn't as if Castiel hadn't thought about what it might be like. He and Dean were best friends, hardly anything would change; they'd still go out to movies together and diners to try the pie, only when they were driving home Dean would park up somewhere secluded and they'd kiss, fumbling and desperate for each other like horny teenagers. He'd stay the night and sleep in Dean's bed instead of downstairs on the couch. He could tell people Dean was his boyfriend and mean it. It would be the same but different, wonderful because he could share everything with Dean.

Castiel shook his head, forcing himself to look away from Dean. He'd thought about it but never for itoo/i long. If he thought too hard then he'd have to accept that he was in love with Dean and that would ruin everything. Castiel could be comfortable being Dean's friend. He didn't need Dean's kisses, he didn't need to sleep tucked up next to Dean but if he spent too much time imagining those things then he'd never be happy with what he had.

There was no point in spoiling everything over something that was never going to happen.

"Well, I've got to mingle," Meg said, either oblivious to Castiel's discomfort or ignoring it. She bent across to kiss him on the cheek, leaving a smear of her dark plummy lipstick behind her before she walked off, the crowd parting around her as she sought out her next victim.

"Interesting friends you've got," Dean muttered. He put his plate down and picked up a napkin. He gripped Castiel's chin and carefully began to wipe away the traces of Meg's lipstick. He paused, staring down at Castiel and for a split second, Castiel thought Dean was going to kiss him. They were standing so close and Dean leant into him, closing the space. Then, just as quickly, he pulled away, dropping his hand to his side.

"Maybe we should have a liquid dinner?" he suggested. "The bar seems well stocked."

Castiel nodded. He wasn't hungry any more, at least not for food and he didn't think he'd be able to satisfy the other cravings he had. Drinking away his problems suddenly seemed like a good idea.

Two glasses of champagne later, a shot of something dark green and a scotch on the rocks and Castiel was beginning to forget his cares. He and Dean seemed to be the talk of the party. Half of the guests avoided them, watched them out of the corner of their eye and whispered about them when they walked past. The other half fell over themselves to tell Castiel how lucky he was, how handsome Dean was, how shocked they were that Castiel had kept him a secret. None of them would believe him when Castiel said they were only friends. They all smiled knowing smiles and then changed the subject to something less charged.

The only conversation that had really meant something to Castiel had been when Inias, one of the interns, had quietly drawn him aside while Dean was fetching another round of drinks and told him how much he admired Castiel's courage. "Maybe next year, I can bring my boyfriend," he'd said wistfully and Castiel had hadn't the heart to tell him that Dean and he weren't a couple.

Now he was staring into the bottom of his glass, watching the last of the ice melt, listening to Dean debating if he was too drunk to drive home.

"Yes," he said, "You are too drunk. We'll call a cab."

Dean smiled at him, another heart stopping smile and Castiel wished that Dean would follow through on one of those smiles, would actually physically charm him out of his pants instead of metaphorically. He was too drunk, too close to saying or doing something stupid that he couldn't go back from. He was ready to excuse himself go outside to make a call, ready to bring the night to a close when Dean suddenly grabbed hold of his hand.

"Hey, look! There's the photographer. We should have a photograph," he said.


"A photograph. Come on, it'll be fun. We can frame it and give it to Sam as a Christmas present."

Castiel smiled. "Why do you like to torture Sam?"

"He's my little brother. If you had little brothers you'd understand."

"I only have older brothers."

Dean grinned. "Proves my point. Come on!" He tugged at Castiel's hand, pulling him away from the bar. Castiel left his glass on the nearest free space and let himself be guided through the noisy throng of people to the photographer.

"Hey!" Dean said, "Take our picture!" He wrapped his arms around Castiel from behind, resting his chin on Castiel's shoulder. Castiel relaxed back against him, feeling warm and comfortable in Dean's arms. It wouldn't be so awful to have one little photo of his dream.

The photograph looked them over, his lip curling slightly. "Sorry, I've been told to take photos of couples and groups only," he said.

"We are a couple," Dean said angrily.

"Dean, just leave it," Castiel said, turning in Dean's arms, ready to push him away, make him go outside and cool his heals. Dean had drunk too much and he'd been spoiling for a fight since they arrived. Castiel knew Dean wanted to protect him, to do something to stop the business from treating him like a second-class citizen but he couldn't change everyone's opinions in one night and he certainly wouldn't change them by punching a photographer who'd only been hired for the party.

"No! No, I'm not gonna just leave it, Cas! I'm sick of it. We're a couple and we're as good as anyone else here!"

"But we're not a couple, are we?" Castiel said quietly.

Dean stared down at him, his eyes wide, and shoulders rising and falling as he drew in short, stifled breaths. Then he tight his hold on Castiel, drew him closer and kissed him. It wasn't anything like Castiel had imagined it would be. It was better. Dean tasted like whiskey, warm and spicy. His kiss was demanding, stealing Castiel's breath away. Castiel clenched his fingers in the front of Dean's shirt, keeping them pressed tight together, not ready for the kiss to end. Any second now Dean would come to his sense, he'd realise just what he'd done and he'd pull away, make a joke of it and then they'd have to awkwardly ignore it till either Castiel died from sexual frustration or Dean decided it wasn't worth having Castiel as his friend any more.

Only Dean didn't pull away, he kept on kissing him, moving one hand to tangle it in Castiel's hair. It was so easy for Castiel to believe that maybe he did want this too, that maybe Dean had been watching and waiting and hoping the way he had and this was the chance for both of them.

Someone coughed, loudly and exaggeratedly, and they broke apart.

Zachariah stood there, glaring at both of them. "I think it's time for you to leave, don't you?" he hissed. His face was nearly purple with rage.

"Why don't you just…." Dean started but another voice broke in,

"Mr. Adler!"

Castiel had only heard it once or twice since he'd come to work for the company but he'd know that voice anywhere. It was the voice of the company president, Michael Milton. Castiel hadn't even realised he was here tonight. He buried his face in Dean's shoulder, hoping against hope that this was a dream and he'd wake up in a few minutes in his own bed. The last thing he wanted was to come to Michael Milton's attention because of something like this.

"Mr. Milton," Zachariah said smoothly. "I was just reminding Mr. Novak and his friend here that this is a family company and displays like this should be kept private."

Michael Milton strode up to them, his hands in his pockets, an enforced air of relaxation about him. His gaze swept over Castiel and Dean and then over Zachariah. He was younger than Castiel remembered. He was handsome, well-dressed in an expensively cut suit with dark hair and prominent cheekbones.

There was something about him though, something that raised the hairs on the back of Castiel's neck. He didn't for a moment buy the jovial, friend of the everyman air that Michael Milton was trying to exude. It was something in the eyes; they were too cunning and shrewd. Castiel cast a quick glance towards Zachariah, wondering if the man felt the same way but he looked serenely comfortable. It made Castiel feel worse.

He was almost certain he knew what was coming when Michael Milton opened his mouth.

"You know, Mr. Adler, it's come to my attention that you've been telling people a lot of things," Michael said. "You seem to do a lot of talking on my behalf."

"I.…I.…" Zachariah spluttered. Castiel stared at Michael Milton, mentally rewriting his thoughts on the man. There'd been an atmosphere around him, decidedly so, but Castiel had misread it completely.

"And what really surprises me is that the words you put in my mouth are words I'd never say," Michael continued. "This company is a family company and that means every type of family."


"In fact, I think we might need to have a discussion about your future in this company because I don't think you really fit in here, Mr. Adler."

It was a dick move, firing Zachariah in front of everyone. It was cruel, cold and Castiel wanted to dance he was so happy. Zachariah opened his mouth, gaping and then closed it again sharply, unable to find anything to say, certainly nothing that would make the situation better. He glared at Castiel, a glare that screamed every slur and name under the sun that Zachariah could think to call him, and then stormed off, out of the party and out of the building. The silence left behind was horrible. No body moved. Nobody said anything. They were all waiting, uncertain what to do next. Castiel didn't know when people had realised something was going on, but people were always drawn to a drama. Now the drama was over, all the lines were said but the audience wasn't prepared to leave.

Finally, Michael sighed and looked around the room.

"This is a party. Get on with it."

There was some nervous laughter and then, slowly, people started talking. Someone turned the music on again, terrible Christmas covers but it created the right sort of atmosphere for quiet, secret conversations that no one else had to hear. Everybody wanted to talk about what had just happened.

Michael Milton turned to look at them both again. Dean tightened his arms around Castiel, squeezing him protectively.

"Castiel, isn't it?" Michael asked. "I've seen some of your work, good stuff." He nodded, seeming to consider everything settled. A moment later he disappeared, strolling off to go and inflict himself on another underperforming member of staff, rather like an avenging angel, if angels tackled workplace dilemmas.

Dean squeezed him tight again.

"Come on," he said. "Let's get out of here. I need to talk to you."

Castiel still couldn't believe that the evening had actually happened. He kept pinching himself but he still hadn't woken up. It was looking more and more like it wasn't a dream. Eventually, Castiel would have to admit that it was reality. He was wrapped up in Dean's arms in the back of a cab, heading back to Dean's house and a conversation that Castiel couldn't wait to have. Zachariah was gone. When Castiel went back to work, ihe/i wasn't going to be there, making his horrible comments and making Castiel feel like he was dirt on his shoe. Not only was Zachariah gone, but the president of the company had made it clear that he wouldn't tolerate people like him. Castiel was suddenly eager to go back to work but not as eager as he was to get back to Dean's.

"Are you sure Sam's out?" he asked.

Dean laughed. "Yeah, I'm sure Sam's out. It's just gonna be you and me, Cas."

The cab pulled up at the curb in front of Dean's house and they rolled out, Dean throwing the driver a wad of bills that probably covered more than their ride home had cost but that didn't matter. The only thing that matter was getting inside the house. When they reached the front door Dean pressed Castiel against it, kissing him thoroughly as he dug his keys form his pocket and unlocked the door. It was a skilful move, and one that spoke about years of practise. Castiel was impressed, more so when the door opened and they moved into the hallway, Dean kicking the door shut behind them without ever breaking the kiss.

The living room, with its inviting looking couch, was only a room away but Dean seemed more intent on getting him up the stairs and into the bedroom. Castiel broke the kiss, gasping for breath while Dean worked away at the buttons on his shirt, popping them open one by one.

"I thought we were going to talk," Castiel gasped.

"We can talk in bed," Dean said, forcing Castiel's shirt and jacket off his shoulders and down. He pressed his mouth to Castiel's neck, leaving hot little kisses along the collar of his throat then lower, mouthing along his collarbone, his hands warm on Castiel's bare skin, the fingertips of one hand brushing across Castiel's nipple, the other heavy on the small of Castiel's back and slipping under the waistband of his pants.

Castiel groaned. He could wait to talk. He wasn't going to do anything to stop Dean. He'd wanted this for so long and now his body was on fire. He didn't want to think about how long it had been since he'd been to be with someone, how long his period of abstinence had lasted. Every one of Dean's touches to his skin reignited desires in him that had been lying dormant for far too long.

"Bed," he said, pushing Dean determinedly towards the open bedroom door. He didn't even care if it turned out to be Sam's bedroom. He just needed to be naked, needed Dean to be naked. Nothing would satisfy him but the slide of skin on skin. Dean laughed, stripping out of his own jacket and shirt.

He kicked off his shoes and shimmed out of his pants and boxers, leaving them in a pile on the floor. Castiel took a moment to drink in the sight of him. Everything about Dean was delicious – all of him covered in smooth, golden skin that Castiel wanted to taste desperately. He wanted to lay Dean out and lick him all over until Dean was straining and his cock hard, then he wanted to take Dean in his mouth and show him all the tricks he'd learned.

"Like what you see?" Dean asked, fisting his cock and stroking it a few times.

"Yes," Castiel said. He licked his lips, his mouth dry.

"Come on, Cas, don't leave me hanging here," Dean said. "I want to see you too."

Castiel wiggled out of his formal trousers, letting them pool around his ankles before he stepped out of them, leaving his shoes behind. That left him naked apart from his underwear. Castiel was already hard. He'd been hard since Dean pushed him up against the front door. He could feel the stretch of fabric across his cock and it wasn't enough, it was nowhere near enough.

"Cas, those too," Dean said, grinning from ear to ear. "You're so pretty, Cas. I bet you're pretty all over. Why don't you show me?"

Castiel had insecurities, doubts about the way he looked. He wasn't chiselled and sculpted the way Dean was. Someone could honestly have carved him from stone he looked so good, so unreal and Castiel was pale and skinny. There was muscle on him but nowhere near the same as Dean. All his insecurities melted away under Dean's gaze however. It didn't matter what Castiel thought about his body. Dean was watching him hungrily, ready to devour him. He looked coiled, ready to pounce and rip Castiel's underwear off him if he didn't hurry up. As good as that idea was, Castiel hooked his fingers into the waistband of his boxers and tugged them down in one quick movement, neatly stepping out of them, completely naked and bare for Dean's inspection.

Dean groaned, biting his lip, his eyes darkening with lust. "You look real pretty, Cas," he drawled, taking a long, lazy look over Castiel's body. He squeezed his cock, groaning again.

As nice as it was watching Dean touch himself, Castiel didn't want the night to end with them just watching each other, coming under the steam of their own hands rather than doing any of the other things they could be doing together. Later Castiel wanted to spend a lazy afternoon watching Dean jerk himself off, watching him come apart and memorizing the way Dean liked to be touched, the little tricks he used to get himself off so he could use them later. Not now though. Now he needed Dean to touch him.

"Bed," he said, his voice coming out like something akin to a growl, deep and low and filled with fire.

"Bossy," Dean said but he was grinning. He crawled on to the bed, settling himself up against the headboard. "What do you want, Cas? Want me to fuck you?"

"Yes," Castiel said, stepping towards the bed. He settled on it, moving so he was straddling Dean's hips, the first touch of skin-on-skin and hesitantly he bent his head to kiss Dean, savouring the feeling. He wanted to remember all of this. He was still buzzing from the alcohol he'd downed at the party, not drunk – no, he was in control of all his facilities and he was sure Dean was too – but he was flushed with liquid courage. It made him bold. "I want this, Dean. I want you."

"Yeah?" Dean slid his arms around him, holding him tight. "You gonna ride me, Cas?"

"Yes," Castiel ground his hips down against Dean's, a parody of what he wanted Dean to do to him. "We need…." he trailed off, not even certain that Dean knew what he was doing. Dean grinned up at him.

"I know what we need, Cas, don't worry. This isn't my first rodeo."

Castiel raised an eyebrow, wanting to ask Dean just what he meant by that but Dean was reaching for the bedside table, jostling Castiel and half tipping him off, pulling out a half-empty tube of lubricant. He held it out to Castiel, looking so proud of himself that Castiel couldn't help but smile.

"I thought you said you knew what to do," he said.

Dean looked puzzled and then colour rose in his cheeks.

"I figured it might be different with a guy," he said, uncapping the tube and pouring a healthy amount on to his fingers. "I thought you might want to stretch yourself out. You know how you like to be touched."

Castiel kissed him again, cupping Dean's face in his hands. "I want you to touch me. I'll tell you if you hurt me."

Dean nodded, a hint of nervousness in his eyes. Castiel found it endearing. He shivered as Dean pressed the tip of one lubed finger against his hole, rubbing gently, so gently that Castiel wanted to tell him to hurry up, to do more because he could take it but he let Dean explore him, growing bolder as he felt Castiel open to him, pressing first one and then two fingers inside him. Dean thrust his fingers slowly, watching Castiel intently for any sign of pain and Castiel stared back at him, rolling his hips back against the fingers stretching him open.

"More," he demanded, moaning as Dean slid a third finger into him. That was more like it, like the fullness Castiel wanted. Dean spread his fingers wide, testing just how much Castiel could take as he slid a forth finger in. Castiel ground down on them, suddenly glad Dean had decided to take it slow. It had been such a long time, too long, since Castiel had had anything but his own fingers in him and the stretch of Dean's fingers was bigger, thicker. It made him wonder what taking Dean's cock would feel like. Dean seemed in no hurry to find out. He seemed content to scissor his fingers up into Castiel, stretching him and getting him dipping wet with lube.

"Dean, I won't break," he said, clenching tight around Dean's fingers to prove his point and to prove to Dean that what he really needed to feel inside him was Dean's cock. Dean looked at him, twisting his fingers, making Castiel yelp in surprise as he rubbed across his prostate. Dean smirked, pulling his fingers free and reached for the tube again. He tossed it at Castiel who caught it clumsily.

"Why don't you lube me up?" Dean asked, pushing his hips up demandingly, his cock jolting as he did so. Castiel stared at it, licking his lips. He couldn't help it. Dean had a gorgeous cock, hard and red, a little bead of pre-come glistening at the head. Castiel uncapped the lubricant and poured more than he needed into his hand. He circled Dean's cock, trying to keep his touch light, trying just to get him good and coated but he wanted to touch Dean so badly, wanted to see him groan and writhe and make sounds that only Castiel would ever hear.

He tightened his grip, jerking Dean off with quick, short strokes, covering Dean's cock in lube. Dean whimpered, flexing his hips, fucking into Castiel's hand and it would have been so easy to make Dean come just from this. Castiel's hole twitched, stretched and empty and needing, and Castiel knew that nothing would feel as good as having Dean come inside him.

He let Dean's cock slip from his grip, ignoring Dean's noise of protest and inched forward until he could feel the head of Dean's cock brushing against his spread pucker. He reached back, gripping Dean to hold him in place and then he pressed back onto Dean's cock, moaning hoarsely because no matter how big Dean's fingers had felt, how thick, they hadn't prepared him for this. Dean was big, especially after such a long period of abstinence and Castiel could already feel his own erection flagging. He kept going, the head of Dean's cock the widest part and once that was buried inside him it was a smooth, slow press till he'd taken every inch.

His own cock was half-hard, lolling against his thigh. Dean caught sight of it and swallowed, his expression caught somewhere between pleasure and worry.

"You're not hard?" he asked, his voice coming out strained and Castiel could feel how tense he was, could fell the effort Dean was making to hold himself back. He reached for Dean's hand, guiding it to wrap around his cock.

"I'm fine," he said, urging Dean's fingers up and down his shaft. Slowly, surely, Dean began to move on his own, stroking Castiel while Castiel got used to the feeling of Dean's cock inside him – bigger and thicker than he'd imagined it would be, or maybe his memory was playing tricks on him and Castiel had forgotten how tight he could be. "Keep doing that," he said, moving hesitantly, rocking into Dean's hand and then back onto the cock buried inside him, setting himself a slow, easy rhythm.

Dean ran his hand up and down the length of Castiel's cock, rubbing his thumb over the head, flicking his nail across the slit, making Castiel gasp. He could see his cock thickening, growing hard again in Dean's hand and it felt so good.

"Just lie still and let me do this," he growled, wondering if Dean could manage that. If he could resist the temptation to thrust. He'd been good so far but all Castiel had been doing was easing both of them into it. Now he began to move in earnest, pushing himself up and then sinking back down. He pressed a hand to Dean's hip, holding him in place, his fingers splayed there as a warning not to try to move.

Castiel picked up a rhythm easily now, pistoning himself up and down, clenching when he came down just to see Dean's face – the surprise giving way to pleasure, his eyes flickering closed, his mouth falling open. His hand slid away from Castiel's cock, clutching at the bedspread but Castiel didn't mind. Castiel found himself wanting to ruin Dean for any other man. He never wanted to let Dean out of his bed, out of his heart and he wasn't too proud to pull out every trick he knew and ruin Dean for women too. He wanted Dean to think of him and him only. Never another man, never another woman, just Castiel for always.

"Fuck, Cas," Dean moaned. "Fuck, if you keep doing that…."

Castiel kept doing it. He wanted Dean to come, he wanted him to come so hard and so fast that he saw stars, that when he thought about sex with Castiel he thought about the mind-blowing orgasm that Castiel had given him. He wanted Dean to keep coming back for more.

Dean made a low, broken sound, gabbing hold of Castiel, dragging him down so he was buried balls deep in Castiel and then he came. Castiel gasped, warmth flooding him and he closed his eyes, lost in the feeling. He reached down, wrapping his hand around his own cock and stroked himself hurriedly. He could feel his orgasm building, so close but not there just yet. He could feel the pressure building, his balls feeling heavy and full. He tightened his grip, running his thumb over the head of his cock, whimpering because he was so close, circling the edge and unable to push himself over.

Then Dean's hand was there, his fingers wrapping around Castiel's own, urging him to move faster. Castiel bucked up, biting his lip and came in long, uninterrupted spurts across Dean's chest. Dean wrinkled his nose, reaching out to run his fingers through some of the sticky white stuff, bringing a finger to his lips and licking it gingerly.

"Not too bad," he said, sucking his other fingers clean. Castiel chuckled softly, slumping down against Dean, too bone-tired now and relaxed to care about getting sticky. Dean wrapped his arms around him and kissed the top of Castiel's head. Castiel closed his eyes, wanting to fall asleep. Tomorrow looked exciting with the prospect of waking up in Dean's bed, of doing this again over and over till he forgot his own name. He wanted to hurry up and fall asleep so tomorrow would be there sooner.

Dean rubbed his hand up and down Castiel's back, soothing but enough to keep Castiel awake. There were still things unspoken after all, words unsaid.

Finally Dean whistled low through his teeth, head dropping back onto the pillow and he was staring up at the ceiling, not at Castiel when he said "How long have you been in love with me, Cas?"

"As long as I've known you," Castiel mumbled into his shoulder. He was too fucked-out to consider lying. He didn't want to play pretend and say that the thought had never crossed his mind, that he hadn't known what his heart felt even if he wouldn't let himself think about it. Acknowledging it to Dean as well as too himself felt wonderful. Castiel didn't suppose he could have kept it hidden. He didn't do the things he did for Dean for anyone else.

Dean nodded thoughtfully, "Good," he said. "That's good." He paused for a moment, maybe thinking or maybe he just didn't know what to say. Castiel waited though. He knew Dean wasn't finished. "Maybe," Dean said tentatively. "We could try that whole dating thing. Sam thinks we're pretty much dating already just without the sex."

Castiel raised his head and kissed him, short and soft. "You can tell him our relationship includes sex now."

Dean smirked, lost in a world of new sexual escapades to embarrass Sam with and Castiel nestled his head back down on Dean's shoulder. "Are you in love with me too?" he asked.

"Oh yeah," Dean said. Castiel smiled. He never would have guessed. He knew Dean cared about him, was possessive over him but love was something new and something to be treasured.

"That's good too," he said, his eyelids beginning to droop and sleep beckoning. "Next year when we go to the Christmas party, people will be right when they assume we're boyfriends."

Dean chuckled softly. "Yeah, they will."

Castiel drifted off to sleep, a smile on his lips. For the first time in a long time his sleep was untroubled. There were no more worries about work, no fears about office gossip and what would happen when he went back on Monday. He wasn't naïve, he knew not everyone would be happy that Zachariah was fired but he also knew that now the boss had spoken, those people were going to have to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. There was also a vacancy that would need to be filled, Zachariah's old job, that was a tantalising prospect now Castiel was committed to staying with the company. He could use the extra money to keep Dean in pies and beer.

Dean really was the best thing to come out of the evening. Castiel wondered if Dean hadn't wanted something like this to happen when he invited himself along as Castiel's date. If so, then his plan had worked out better than he'd had any right to expect. Castiel smiled in his sleep, enjoying the subconscious thoughts of Dean deviously planning a way to covertly ask Castiel out. He wasn't worried about waking up in the morning to an empty bed or a man who thought he'd made a mistake. Dean loved him. Even if none of the other things had happened then knowing that Dean loved him, that Dean wanted him and wanted to make a go of something with him, would have been enough for Castiel.

Downstairs the door open quietly. Upstairs Dean stirred, opened one eye and then promptly decided it wasn't worth dislodging Castiel, not even to get up and brag to Sam. There'd be tomorrow for that. He fell back asleep. Castiel slumbered on, not even aware of Sam coming in.

In his dreams it was Christmas day. There was a tree done up with lights, presents around the base and Sam in an awful Christmas sweater. There was music, laughter, terrible Christmas specials on the television. There was Dean, his eyes warm and filled with affection, passing him his gift, bringing him a cup of hot chocolate, curling up on the sofa with him while Sam fiddled about on the floor, trying to fit the batteries into whatever new gadget he'd received. There was Dean kissing him, soft and unhurried. It was just as he had always wanted it to be, different but the same, nothing changed and everything changed.

And everything so much better than it had been.