When Castiel emerges from the bathroom, Dean feels his stomach do that twisty, knotty thing it's only ever done for Cas. He looks so tired and wrung out, the way Dean's been feeling, mostly because the holidays suck, even if Sam is talking to him again. Then there's all the work hours and...he's up to his neck in take home assignments and reconfigurations.

The fact that he loves every minute of it, that's beside the point.

"Toast," he slides the plate across the kitchen island. He always knew Castiel would have a kitchen island.

Castiel sits, watching him as he nibbles the toast. "Why are you in the city?"

Dean goes back to doing dishes. "Do you have a cleaning lady? Some of this stuff is growing new life."

"Dean?"

"I work in the city Cas."

He glances over just in time to catch Castiel's frown. "Since when?"

"Since just before Christmas...I took a job with an engineering firm here, to be nearer Sam and...you know, just to be in the city."

"You said you hated that work."

He stacks the last clean plate and turns around. "I hated the way it made me think. Turns out Sam was right, I am tool with a chip on my shoulder...you were right too."

"About?"

"About me being a white trash drunk...doesn't matter how smart I know I am, if I want to be that guy, the smart guy, I can't be living in a trailer with a hundred dogs. And I didn't want to. I wanted to be here."

They look at each other, and Dean relearns the tiny details of Castiel that have somehow worn off of his memories, the way he tilts his head a little when he thinks, the spider lines around his eyes when they're creased up in consideration, his nervous, elegant hands.

"Dean."

"Cas."

They speak at the same time, and Castiel blinks, then motions for him to go first, if he wants.

"It's been a year and I haven't heard from you, which was the deal, you know? So that's fine. But, I'm ok with Sam now, or, getting to be ok. I'm working in the city again and I thought...maybe you'd moved on and so I didn't call. I didn't want to make things hard. Then Sam says he's got an apartment for me to view, so I came here, and it's your place, only you weren't expecting me so...if you want me to leave...I can."

"No!" Castiel blushes, sits himself back down. "I mean, no, you don't have to go."

His grin slips out of his control. "You want me here?"

"I want you here." Castiel sighs and pushes the toast away. "You and Sam are you..."

"He's talking to me, that's new," Dean taps his fingers on the counter, "we had Christmas together with..."

"I know he has a new partner. She's...very nice."

Dean looks like he doesn't believe him. "Must be hard."

"It's a little weird. After he was with me, I thought maybe I turned him off of men."

"Maybe it's a phase," Dean shrugs, "Like I have any right trying to work him out. I don't even know what I am."

"You're wearing a suit."

Dean let his smile return. "Yes I am."

"And I am a mess."

"You're a cute mess."

"Liar." Castiel's eyes narrow, but his mouth remains playful.

"Kitchen's clean anyway so..." he watches Castiel, trying to work out what he wants. Because, as confused as Dean's been over the last year, he's pretty damn sure of what he wants now. "Want to...uh..."

Castiel gets up and rounds the counter, keeping a watchful eye on him. "To..."

"To..." Dean tilts his head and glances at the spick and span kitchen island. "...make a mess."

Castiel slides between him and the counter hops up on to its marble surface easily, hands slipping down to the waistband of those god-awful pyjamas pants.

"What happened to being shy?"

Castiel raises an eyebrow. "I kissed a supermodel."

"Really?"

"Mmmhmm," Castiel smiles, and Dean remembers that smile, that cat-smile. "I have game."

"Oh yeah you do."

Dean's still smothering a laugh at Castiel's indignant yell as he pulls his hips off the counter and yanks the pyjamas off.

Dean's had a lot of sex in his life, with women, with dudes. With two of one, and one of the other or vice versa, he's had a lot of stuff done to him, and done a lot of stuff, and all of it was pretty fantastic, some of it was downright mythical – but one of his top ten spots is still occupied by a very long, warm make out on the kitchen floor of a New York loft, with a wriggling, naked Castiel, followed by a viciously hot shower and a slow, stately fuck on the chair by the window.

While Castiel dozes, head in the curve of Dean's shoulder, Dean hears his cell phone going, then go quiet. It's Sam's ringtone. He has no idea why Sam sent him to see Castiel, he hasn't mentioned him in a year, hell, neither of them have. So what if Dean bought a hand tooled leather wallet for an ipad he doesn't own, and wrapped it with his other Christmas gifts before consigning it to the back of his wardrobe. He was having a chic moment, like when he buys flowers for Ellen on her birthday, it's just something that happens.

But God knows, he hasn't felt this good in years. Part of it's the naked guy slowly stirring in his lap, signalling he's ready for round two, and maybe most of it is that he can enjoy this now, because Sam knows. Sam knows everything.

Maybe it's because Castiel's not hiding away from him.

Maybe it's also a little because he's ticklish, and Dean's never going to hear enough of that laugh.