Yay new chapter!

Thank you all so much for being patient and a big special welcome to the new readers who came in on a rather lengthy hiatus and inspired to get crackin' with their wonderful reviews! I am really sorry for the months it took, I started this chapter right after I posted the last one but got stuck and then uni really weighed me down (second year psych classes are KILLER!) and I also haven't been well lately. Got some bloods done yesterday so I'm hoping the doctors can figure out what's wrong with me because I'd sure like to know.

Anywho enjoy this lovely chapter filled with fluff and cuteness as a reprieve from the angst. But only a short one since we're going to jump back into, well, not exactly angst, but some serious contention in the next couple of chapters. Our boys are picking their way slowly into their new relationship and it's a bit awkward and a lot adorable so I hope you enjoy, especially after the long wait you endured!

If it was at all possible Cas became more clingy and tactile with Dean after their Christmas talk. To Cas's family it just seemed that Cas was responding to their "disagreement" by wanting to be closer, but to Dean as well as Sam and Jo who knew the whole story, it was obvious he wanted to be clearer with his feelings and needs. And Dean suspected it was also caused by worry he would push Cas away again.

For the most part, Dean was glad for Cas's behaviour. He would have felt lousy and more confused if Cas continued to avoid him and this behaviour was giving him clear indications of what Cas wanted and needed from him so he could respond far more easily. It was helping him sort through his confusing mess of emotions by just letting himself meet Cas halfway.

But there was a downside.

Lucifer refused to accept not knowing what Dean had done to upset Cas and his brother's behaviour made him yet more suspicious. The last thing Dean wanted right now was to tell Lucifer that he maybe, sort of, possibly had a thing of some form or description of romantic attachment with his autistic baby brother – he didn't see that conversation ending well in any way, shape or form.

So on New Year's eve Dean finally kept his promise to Cas and they escaped Lucifer's constant watchful eye in the Impala. They drove out to the back roads where Bobby taught Dean to drive so that Dean could do the same for Cas.

"Baby's an automatic so you should catch on pretty quick," Dean said as he cut the ignition. He glanced at Cas who looked an adorable mix of nervous and excited. Dean smiled once and got out of the car so Cas could slide across into the driver's seat. He got back in on the passenger's side and slid in close – to instruct Cas of course, not to ease that strange tension that took up a spot in his chest every time Cas was more than six inches away from him.

"Okay so, first thing," Dean said, slinging an arm over the top of the seat so that it was brushing Cas's shoulders. "Where's your accelerator?"

Cas looked down and touched his foot to the peddle on the right.

"Good. And the brake?"

Cas touched the second peddle to the left of the accelerator.

"Good. Okay, the car's in park so we can turn her on. Foot on the brake and turn the key."

Dean talked Cas through turning the car on, putting it in drive, putting it back in park and turning it off several times before he decided to get him started on getting the car to move off a few feet and then stopping. He looked at Cas's face when he was going through Dean's instructions. There was a tiny crease between his eyes for his concentration – he wanted to get everything right – but the deep blue of his eyes was lit up in happiness and a tiny smile was playing about his mouth. He was enjoying this.

"Okay, hands steady on the wheel..." Dean reached over and clasped one of his hands over Cas's. He felt his own cheeks heat when Cas shot him a quick glance before focusing back on the road. This was awkward. Dean was trying to be open here but every time he did something like this all he could think of what all the possible new meanings. He liked the idea of some of those new meanings but the terror was still there and he wasn't sure how to balance it all out.

Cas stopped at the end of the road and put the car back in park and cut the ignition. Dean frowned curiously but Cas just turned his hand over under Dean's and laced their fingers together before looking up at him.

Dean squeezed his fingers gently. "Why'd you stop? You were doing really well."

Cas shrugged and shifted closer to Dean pulling his hand down to where he could see it, turning it over and examining the way their fingers fit together before his other hand began tracing. Looking at Dean's scars and calluses from helping Bobby in his shop. He was so focused on it and Dean couldn't really understand why but he sat very still, fighting back a smile as Castiel continued to play with his hand, curling his fingers and tracing the lines in his palm before tracing them up his forearm, following a vein into the crease of his elbow. Castiel cocked his head to the side, turning his arm and following the pattern of Dean's freckles. Dean blushed a little at that but remained still and quiet, not wanting to startle Castiel and have this stop.

He had no idea that simple touches, with absolutely nothing else behind them, could mean so much to him. Could fill him with so much warmth that he felt like his heart might explode.

Castiel stopped tracing the freckles on Dean's arm and looked up, studying his face. Dean almost flinched when he realised what the younger boy was about to do but he held himself very still as he inched closer, raising his hand and tentatively, finger barely touching his skin, traced the freckles over Dean's nose. Cas usually refrained from touching Dean's face but today he seemed to feel braver.

Dean shut his eyes, smiling gently, as Castiel's fingers continued their light path over his cheek. He felt the boy flinch when he reached Dean's jaw and he jerked his hand away. Dean's eyes snapped open to find Castiel staring at him in confusion.

"What?" Dean asked curiously.

Castiel took Dean's hand and raised it to where he'd touched and Dean smiled when he felt his own stubble.

"Oh, I haven't shaved today, sorry," Dean chuckled.

Castiel smiled, eyes turning warm.

Dean turned their hands so he could guide Cas along his jaw, feeling the stubble. He started smiling and raised his other hand to touch the other side of Dean's jaw, truly amused and interested by the scratchy feel of Dean's five o'clock shadow.

Dean shut his eyes again to enjoy the feeling and when he opened them Cas was suddenly very close to him. Something the boy noticed too, pausing and eyes flicking up to meet Dean's shyly. Dean licked his lips, heart stuttering in nervous anticipation as he reached and cupped Cas's cheek, drawing him closer. Cas froze then ducked away, moving off Dean and onto the passenger seat where he stared down at his hands, cheeks flaming.

Dean dropped his hands and dropped his head down for a moment, letting out a breath.

"A little confused here, Cas," he said after several long moments of silence. "I thought you wanted me to kiss you. I thought this..." Dean gestured between them slightly, "was a thing where we kiss."

Cas didn't answer, or even look over, so Dean frowned at the dashboard. Part of him was relieved but mostly he was just confused with the sting of rejection making itself known. He was trying here and was hurt that Cas rebuffed him. Most of all, he was surprised with the realisation he'd actually wanted to kiss Cas.

The feeling of awkwardness was suffocating.

"Cas, come on, help me out here. Are we... you know, a thing? Or did I get it totally wrong?" If the answer was 'yes' it would be both a small relief and a massive disappointment.

Cas glanced at Dean then shook his head.

A knot of tension eased in Dean's chest and he moved closer to Cas, not touching, but needing to close the distance.

"So, what is it then? Why didn't you let me kiss you?" Dean wondered, voice soft. Cas lifted one shoulder, hands clasping as he stared down at them hard, refusing to meet Dean's eyes. "Is it because of last time? Cas... I want to kiss you."

Cas looked at Dean then, what was unmistakably a sceptical look on his face.

"You don't trust me in this do you?" Dean sighed sadly. Cas looked away guiltily. Dean tapped his hand anxiously on his knee before swallowing down the hurt and forcing a smile. "Right, well, let's swap sides and you can drive again."

Cas blinked, looking at Dean warily. Dean smiled encouragingly and the younger boy inched over. Dean rolled his eyes and tugged him until he climbed over Dean. He paused and looked down at Dean's face, a gentle look in his eyes. He leant down and kissed Dean's cheek, right near the corner of his mouth. Dean felt his cheeks heat and he wondered if they were redder than Cas's as the boy finally dropped behind the wheel and prepared to start the car again. His smile was certainly bigger.

"Where the hell have you been?"

"Whoa, Luci, chill!"

Dean looked up in surprise to find Lucifer glaring down at he and Cas where they were kicking off their shoes at the front door. Cas was staring up at his brother with wide eyes. Gabriel was hovering behind Lucifer, hands partially raised as though he was thinking about pulling the older Novak back.

"What's the problem?" Dean wondered.

"What's-?" Lucifer's eyes narrowed and he poked Dean in the chest when he straightened up, causing him to step back into the door. "How about you taking off with Castiel without a word to any of us about the fact that you were leaving let alone where you were taking him? So where the hell were you for so long?"

"Lucifer, man-"

"Don't take that casual tone with me, Dean!"

"Luce, seriously, back off," Gabriel suggested but Lucifer ignored him, stepping even closer to Dean.

He opened his mouth to speak again but Cas forced his way between them, pushing Lucifer back. It was the surprise of Cas touching him more than anything else that caused Lucifer to leap backwards, shock running through his body. Cas had his arms folded, staring bravely up at Lucifer with some trepidation. Dean felt him shake a little as he pressed a hand to his back in thanks.

"What is going on?" Michael appeared behind Gabriel and Lucifer and looked over the group with a frown.

"Your brother just started verbally attacking me," Dean said with a glare at Lucifer who returned the look. "All I did was take Cas out for a driving lesson and-"

"Driving lesson?" Michael said echoed by Gabriel and Lucifer.

Dean flushed involuntarily. "Uh... yeah... we went out to the back roads and I gave him a lesson. He's actually pretty good."

Cas looked up at Dean with a blinding smile. Dean returned it slightly before looking at Michael hesitantly.

"Well then," Michael said. He breathed out slowly and then looked at Cas with a soft expression. "I guess we'll have to talk about you getting your permit when your sixteenth birthday comes around."

Cas lit up and practically skipped over to Michael and hugged him. Michael huffed out a laugh and patted Cas on the head. He still couldn't seem to get over Cas freely touching him. So far it was Dean and Michael who received the majority of Cas's touches but Gabriel, Anna, Sam and Lucifer occasionally got their hands held or their arms tugged. Only Dean and Michael got hugs though.

"That still doesn't change the fact that we had no idea where you were," Lucifer said, turning back to Dean and taking a step forward now that Cas wasn't in his way.

"True," Michael hummed. "But if it was Gabriel instead of Castiel we wouldn't be this angry. So calm down. Everything's fine. Let's just get ready to go, huh?"

"Go?" Dean questioned as Cas came back to him.

"The fireworks in Kansas City," Michael explained. "We're meeting Inias and the others there. We do it every year. You're coming of course, it's a family commitment, you're not getting out of it."

"Oh, cool." Dean tried to push aside the intense warmth at being called part of the family. "Come on Cas."

Lucifer continued to stare heavily at Dean as he and Cas slipped away

"He is going to burn me alive if... when he finds about well... you know..." Dean gestured blandly between them as he shut the door to Cas's room.

Cas returned Dean's fearful look with a raised eyebrow. It was clear he disagreed. Dean understood why, Lucifer was basically a puppy when it came to Cas, vicious to anybody who meant him harm but he indulged and spoiled Cas with attention and love. But to Dean it was that exact reason why he feared for his life. Or at the very least his dick which he was positive would be the first part of him in danger when Lucifer found out, never mind that Cas wouldn't even kiss him let alone anything else. An anything else that Dean wasn't exactly ready for, he might add, what with his whole life of denying any attraction to guys. It was hard to get comfortable with.

Cas changed the subject by picking up the Harry Potter they were up to and tugging Dean over to the bed to read until it was time to go. The difference to before Christmas was that now Cas pulled Dean's arm around him and snuggled in under his chin to look at the pages as Dean read. Dean smiled and he flipped to the page they were up to. After some time he realised that his hand he was holding Cas with had started to run up and down his side without his consent. It scared him a little how easy this was and how natural it felt but he liked it. Even before they'd started this thing Dean had had moments where he never wanted to let Cas go and this was one of those moments.

The sun was hovering above the horizon when they reached the place in Kansas City where the fireworks were being held. The sound of chatter and high-pitched squealing of children filled the air alongside the smell of various food vendors.

"Man I could go for a pie right about now," Dean groaned.

"Dinner first," Lucifer said. "Hester was bringing a picnic but I think I need to visit that hotdog stand... the pickles smell so good."

"Let's find the others and get a place to watch the fireworks then you can all run off," Michael decided. "Remember to meet back at quarter to so we're all together for the New Year."

They found Inias and his family and together the group set off to find the best spot to watch the fireworks that would take place at midnight. They picked slightly sheltered spot at the base of a small knoll and set up the picnic. Dean tried not to bristle with jealousy as Balthazar and Samandriel took Cas away with them to do something they obviously did every year but he was sure he failed judging from the smirk Sam sent his way.

"They're going to get glow sticks and sparklers," Gabriel explained, noticing Dean's preoccupation. Dean just shrugged it off and helped set up the blankets and chairs as he waited for Cas to come back. They didn't take too long and when they came back Cas tugged Dean's wrist to him and looped one of the glow sticks around it, smiling proudly.

Dean soon realised Balthazar was not going to leave him alone with Cas, sticking to them and alternating between talking to Cas and shooting Dean harsh glares as they wandered the grounds. There was a row of carnival games set up and Dean noticed Cas stop out of the corner of his eye and stare at one of the prizes: a teddy bear dressed in a leather jacket and sunglasses.

The game involved shooting five of the moving ducks with an air rifle so Dean smiled and got the attention of the man in charge.

Thank you, Bobby, he thought as he aimed the air rifle. Those shooting lessons were good for something other than pissing off Bobby's neighbours after all. He managed to get all five ducks he needed down quickly, Cas watching with wide eyes and a growing smile. The man took back the gun from Dean and turned to unhook the bear Dean pointed to.

Cas's eyes grew even wider and his smile bigger as Dean turned to pass him the bear. He bounced on the toes of his shoes before throwing his arms around Dean and hugging him tightly, pressing a light kiss to Dean's cheek, as close to his mouth as he dared and Dean felt himself blush, glad Balthazar was more interested in the stall nearby selling cotton candy.

"It's nothing," Dean mumbled, rubbing the back of his neck but Cas apparently disagreed since he spent the rest of their time wandering with his fingers laced with Dean's, hugging the bear tightly to his chest with his free arm. Balthazar's looks of hatred and distrust increased during this time.

Dean thought he saw some kids from school at one point so he turned and ushered Cas and his cousin the opposite direction, no point having a good night ruined by assholes.

When night fell and the ground was lit up with lanterns and colourful lights on all the stalls Cas started to get tired so they made their way back to the group where Hester had produced pie from the cooler for dessert – much to Dean's delight – and Michael had gone to the Ben and Jerry's vendor to get several pints of different flavours of ice cream – much to everyone's delight.

The others drifted in and out to get food and chat.

There was music playing and Inias pulled Hester up to dance. The pair twirled about with laughs and smiles and Samandriel and Balthazar pretended to be horrified while Rachel grabbed Michael telling him he was "too uptight and need to seriously let loose a little, cus" and forced him to dance too.

Dean watched the group around him with a growing feeling of affection. He didn't think he'd ever get over how happy he was to be a part of this family. It was accompanied by a slight sting of regret that his own family wasn't like this.

He and Cas were under one of the blankets leaning against the cooler for support as they watched the others. Cas had his bear on his lap but he was leaning into Dean's space, head on his shoulder and a soft smile on his face. Dean had Cas's hand under the blanket, rubbing circles into his palm without even realising it.

A corny old song came on and Dean smiled and started humming which ended up with him whispering the word into Cas's hair as Inias and Hester continued to dance and be the happily married couple Dean had started to see as the image of a good marriage.

"'Cause don't forget who's taking you home, and in whose arms you're gonna be, so darlin' save the last dance for me," Dean whispered softly and he felt Cas sigh against him. He couldn't see his face so he wasn't sure of the reason. Cas tilted his head to look up at Dean, expression soft. There was something inviting about the slight curve of his lips and Dean leant down, fully intending to get his kiss this time when Gabriel and Sam chose to reappear from wherever they'd run off to.

Sam landed half on Dean, laughing.

"I win! I win!" he was shouting as Gabriel dropped down next to him and ruffled his hair.

"Just, kiddo, just," he responded with a smirk. They rearranged themselves so they weren't collapsed on top of Dean and Cas. Dean and Gabriel had a short tug-of-war over the blankets that Cas and Sam watched with amusement before they all settled, happily sharing the blankets and chatting.

The rest of the group made their way back to stay at about 11:30 and they all crowded close for warmth.

"So, New Year's resolutions?" Anna asked. "Who wants to share?"

Dean and Sam exchanged raised eyebrows.

"Do we have to share?" Dean asked, somewhat petulantly.

"Not if it's too personal," Hester promised. "But if it's something you need encouragement for or help then feel free to enlist everyone's support."

"I have one," Lucifer said. "Finish my fucking degree."

"Language!" Inias chided.

"Distance ed takes so long," Lucifer groaned. "I'm going to double my credits for the next semester so I can be done by June."

Michael winced. "Don't come crying to me when you're not getting enough sleep."

"I want to pass chem this year," Gabriel grumbled.

"I want to get fit," Anna chirped up.

"You might need to quit the vegetarianism, get some protein on those bones," Balthazar teased. Anna glared at him.

"I want to get into KU," Dean said quietly, half hoping nobody would hear. Everybody did of course and Rachel made a sound of happiness.

"You applied to KU?" she asked. "Oh I hope you get in! I'll be TA in your psych class."

Dean smiled at her hesitantly. Cas squeezed his hand under the blanket. There were a few jokes about winning the lottery and retiring to a tropical island before Anna turned to Cas.

"Cassie, do you have one?" Anna asked. Cas looked around at his family and then nodded. He dug in his coat pocket for the cards Sam got him for Christmas and flipped through until he found a card that showed two people with speech bubbles over their heads. Everyone craned closer to see properly and the reactions spread over their faces from shock to worry to hope.

Everyone seemed to understand. Cas wanted to talk to them and he wanted to do it by this time next year.

"Okay, we'll work on that," Michael promised in a soft voice, reaching out to squeeze Cas's hand still holding the cards. "I promise."

Cas nodded, eyes a little glassy as he looked at his older brother. The ten minute warning was announced and it broke into their atmosphere. The others settled back into lighter discussions and Dean leant closer to Cas.

"You're incredible," he whispered. Cas blushed and tucked the cards away. "Hey, no, look at me." He waited until Cas's strikingly blue eyes were on his. "I'm in awe of you. I know you can do this."

Cas blushed harder and hugged Dean who felt a little out of sorts. That was one of the most heart-on-sleeve things he'd ever said but he couldn't find it in himself to be embarrassed. He was too surprised at Cas's admission of what he wanted to achieve in the coming year.

They settled back into their blanket cacoon, Cas snuggled underneath Dean's arm and waited for midnight to come around. The lights all shut off and the countdown began and Dean's heart skipped a beat as he remembered the typical New Year's tradition. He really wanted to kiss Cas. Twice today he'd been thwarted but it was almost midnight he wanted that kiss.


He looked down at Cas who was watching the sky in anticipation.


Maybe this was a bad idea. Everyone was around. Someone would see.


But their attentions were all elsewhere. Nobody would notice a quick kiss, surely.


Should he?

"Happy new year!"

Hester and Inias kissed. Lucifer jokingly placed a huge, wet kiss on his twin's forehead while Anna ducked to her cousins closest to her with kisses on the cheek and Rachel leant over to kiss Gabriel and Sam's cheeks from her spot beside them.

Dean smirked when he noticed Gabriel press a kiss with a loud "mwah!" on the top of Sam's head, leaving the kid blushing brightly and Dean looked down at Cas again as the first firework exploded above them.

Screw it.

He reached down and tilted Cas's head up while the others were busy staring at the sky.

"Happy new year," he whispered and leant down to kiss Cas gently on the mouth, pulling away quickly before anybody could notice. Cas dropped his gaze but Dean could see his mouth curving into a smile that he mirrored before looking up at the brightly coloured sparkles bursting into the sky.

Coming up: Who saw Dean and Cas's private moment? Big explosions are coming - and I don't mean the fireworks!