Cas left a year and a half ago. Dean still finds himself looking to the other—empty—side of the bed at a loss upon waking before it all comes back in a rush and he's running his hand over his face, trying to wipe away his groggy thoughts.

Dean gets up and first thing, like every other day, he crosses out another day on the calendar hanging in their bedroom. At first it felt good, another day down, another day where they both survived. Now, well, Dean just wishes he had something to count down to. He doesn't even have a return date. Cas' first tour lasted eight months. This one was supposed to be the same, until some highly decorated Staff Sergeant decided he just needed to keep Cas on, for the good of the country, you understand.

Dean did not understand.

"You know I have to." Cas had said.

"No you don't." Dean had bit out before he could think and waited for the fight he was just itching to have—in person, preferably—about just how quick Cas was to leave him. But Cas had sighed that wistful sigh of his over the crackling connection of satellite and Dean could all but see his fond smile.

"Dean, I love you so much, you know that," Cas had paused, breathed deep, "and I will come back to you."

"Don't make promises you can't keep."

"I'll keep this one."

Dean still hates that Cas decided to accept, to stay on longer, and when he gets back (because he will, he promised) Dean's definitely going to hit him for putting him through all this. Even if he doesn't want to accept it, he knows Cas' is the best EOD they've got, and perhaps even better than that, he knows Arabic (only Egyptian dialect, but most people understand him. It's a lot better than say, Moroccan dialect).

Objectively, Dean sees exactly why they kept him on, and why Cas felt the need to accept. Diplomacy is always preferable to bullets.

That doesn't change the fact that Dean hates it. That he hates the whole war, hates the fear mongering that got them into it and the politics that keep it going. Hates that people keep dying and building keep being destroyed and that the 'reconstruction' effort is dismal at best. Hates that months are going by and nothings changing.

And none of it gets Dean any closer to having Cas back.

Dean splashes cold water on his face, wishing he didn't feel so tired (or lonely). It's not his first Christmas without Cas—he's been gone for over a year now—but around this time it's always worse. The mantra of 'family' and 'loved ones' spouts on every commercial and people walk the streets hand in hand to ward off the chill. Dean's hands stay cold.

Dean did buy Cas a Christmas gift, just like he did last year. Wrapped it and everything. He has this crazy idea in his head that when Cas finally comes back, no matter the season, Dean's going to hunt down some eggnog and put mistletoe in every doorway. They'll watch their favorite Christmas movies, Dean will give Cas his gifts and they'll finally be able to make up for the Christmases they've missed.

Dean throws on comfortable clothes; Cas' training shirt and some sweats. He's going to need it. Last year he opted to spend Christmas alone, eating Chinese and watching crappy action movies. But this year Sam' finally convinced him to fly out and spend the holiday season with him and Jess. He knows his brother worries, and he can't even call it completely unjustified, but Dean's still not sure if going to spend Christmas with the newlyweds will be a bit too much like rubbing salt in the wound or not.

And then there's the flying. Dean isn't exactly one for flying. Avoids it at any cost, in fact. Spend days driving when a flight would be not half of one. Hell, he'd drive out to Cali from his east coast home if he had any chance in hell of making it and still being about to actually celebrate with his brother and sister-in-law, but elementary school winter break isn't that long.

Yesterday was the last day and all his kids had given him a large card proclaiming 'happy holidays!' with their names and more glitter than really necessary. It was sweet and touching. He puts it on top of his clothes in his luggage bag. Even if it gets glitter on everything it's nice and it makes him happy. Dean's all for clinging to what makes him happy nowadays.

As Dean's throwing his suitcase in the trunk of the impala and trying to remember how much alcohol the flight attendants will give him, highway to hell starts from his pocket. It's Sam.

"Hey Sammy."

"Dean. Are you at the airport yet?"

"Uh, no, the flight's four hours away." There's a long pause and Dean sighs, "and I live less than an hour away from the airport."

"You know we'll be there to pick you up."

"I know."

"It'd be really bad if you missed your flight."

"Yeah Sam—" Dean starts, annoyance seeping into his tone. His hatred of flights isn't really a secret, but does Sam think he'll really flake out on him so easily?

"—and Cas will be calling our house on Christmas eve, so you have to be here to get his call."

"Sammy, I know." Dean huffs out, "I'm hanging up now because I'm going to start driving to the airport where my plane is."

"Good."

Dean scoffs and closes his phone, "bitch."


Checking his luggage is easy and hassle free. That almost makes it worse. There's not even anything to bitch about to avoid thinking about the flight. But hey, planes rarely crash, right? The only reason it seems like they do so much is because reporters don't put planes that land safely in the news. He'll be fine.

Dean tries to loosen his white-knuckled grip on his carry-on. He's not even on the plane yet, for god's sake.

Granted, Dean hasn't been on a plane for a long time, but he remembers check-in as a rather mundane occurrence, staffed by overworked employees always five minutes away from their lunch break. But in this airport there's a large monitor set up with a scanner before it for the boarding passes. A family of four makes their way over before Dean and as the young girl of the family scans her boarding pass the monitor comes alive.

A man dressed as Santa with blue instead of the popular red grins broadly.

"Why hello there Josephine!" Santa says and Josephine practically vibrates on her feet. Dean smiles, he'll have to tell his kids Santa checked him in, they'll get a kick out of it. And it'll be a great transition into their unit on transportation too.

Dean comes back out of the world of lesson plans when Josephine and her family head over to the sitting area outside of their gate. Now front and center, Dean goes to scan his ticket and isn't too surprised when the blue Santa comes to life.

"Why hello there Dean," the Santa gives his patented laugh.

"Merry Christmas, Santa," Dean says, giving a mock solute.

"And a Merry Christmas it shall be!" Santa laughs again, "What would you like for Christmas, Dean Winchester?"

The smile Dean gives, sad and longing, is one he wears too often. The answer to the patented question of Christmas rolls off his tongue "Well Santa, I'd like my partner back from Iraq." It isn't until after he says it that it feels inappropriate to be displaying himself so openly. It must be the beard.

"Oh? And what is your soldier's name?" Santa inquires.

Dean squirms now, feeling weird about his previous openness and now being interrogated by a Santa on a TV screen while others wait behind him to get their tickets checked. But Dean had never been ashamed of Cas and he isn't going to start now.

"Castiel Novak."

"You must love him very much."

Dean shifts uncomfortably but nods.

"Well then Dean," Santa smiles kindly, "Merry Christmas, and have a good flight."

"Heh, yeah," Dean says a bit hysterically as he head away towards the sitting area around gate 23. He spots Josephine taking animatedly to her mother and just that helps to calm him down some. Kids are great with that, they're too busy being excited over literally everything to mind with the sort of problems Dean's facing.

This is the worst of it though, the waiting. He's just sitting at his gate, waiting to be herded into the flying metal deathtrap. Waiting patiently for the horrible, terrible death that's going to happen the moment he steps on that plane. Dean tries humming, tries breathing deep. All that does is earn him a weird look from the desk attendant. Cas would be laughing at him by now, no doubt. From anyone else Dean would slap them, but Cas always made it seem fond.

Cas.

He knows exactly how to play Dean, for better or worse and Dean's proud to say he has the same berth of knowledge on Cas. Cas brings out the most in Dean and he loves it.

Like—like that time they made snow angels and threw snowballs at each other for hours. Like they were kids again, before turning in and doing some decidedly not kid things to warm up. Cas had looked gorgeous in the light of their Christmas tree.

There was the time they'd gone to New York for new years and kissed as the ball dropped, surrounded by strangers doing the same with cheap glowing accessories that gave Cas a purple tinge. They both decided the whole thing was overrated and too goddamned cold to ever do again.

Or, god, when Cas had gotten sick with a cold and bemoaned the world like he was dying, making Dean wait on him and demanding his homemade soup. Dean had stolen kisses that Cas admonished, saying Dean would get sick. Dean said Winchesters are made of stronger stuff, and promptly fell ill not two days later. Cas cooking had been less good that Dean's own, but he couldn't taste a damn thing anyway, so it didn't really matter.

And once, they'd fought like they wanted to kill. About what, Dean hasn't a clue, but whatever it was was enough to send Dean out of the house in a rage and lock himself in the Impala. Why he didn't go anywhere, he's still not sure. But hours later Cas had come out with blankets and knocked on the window. And they'd climbed into the back seat and whispered the balm to their hurtful words and ended up sleeping there, even though it was cold as fuck.

And then there was how they met. Dean walking out of the elementary school into the light snow, making his way to his favorite coffee shop for a snack before heading home. He'd been crossing the street with a distracted man to his left who actually walked right into the snow bank on the other side of the road. Dean had gone to help the man up and was met with bright blue eyes and rosy cheeks. Dean had invited him for coffee right then. Coffee became dinner. And dinner shifted into the rest of their lives.

Super. Now on top of the jittery feeling in his limbs and the rock in his gut from the impending death ride, the ache of missing Cas is a pulsating clench in his heart. It's always there, but for the most part Dean can get it down to a dull and constant thing. But now it's sharp, at the forefront of Dean's mind and Cas will make it through bombs and gunfire and make it all the way back to him, but Dean is going to die on a fucking plane going to his brother's.

"Group three may now board." The automated voice cuts through Dean's freak-out better than anything. Sadly, Dean notes, as he looks at his boarding pass, he is in group three.

His legs feel stiff and useless, but he's walking. He's going down the ramp (that doesn't seem to be on a safe angle, actually) and making his way down the aisle (that is really way to small, what if there's an emergency?) until he's at row 21.

He's got the aisle seat—c—and the other two in his row are already settled. Good. if he'd had to get up to let someone in, he might have just walked off the plane.

Dean would love to say that when the plane starts to taxi towards the runway he's calm as could be. That would be a blatant lie. Before they even leave the ground, Dean's hands start to get clammy. He can feel the cold sweat at the back of his neck and he very quickly starts to feel dizzy. Very dizzy.

When Dean wakes up, they're already in the air and a flight attendant is hovering.

"Sir," her voice is firm but concerned, "are you alright?"

"Yeah," Dean says a bit more breathless than he'd wish and tries to de-fuse his hands for the armrests, "not the biggest fan of flying."

The flight attendant nods sagely and Dean kinda wants to stick out his tongue at her—she choses to get in these things all the time, it's her fucking job.

"I have some sleeping pills." The woman next to him pipes up and Dean turns to her with stars in his eyes, "if you want."

"Yes."

The next time Dean wakes up, they're already at their new gate in San Francisco International Airport. As he's getting off the plane, he's pretty sure that the flight attendant pities him pretty hard core.

But, the plane has landed, he is alive.

The many, many signs towards baggage claim help him find his way and pretty soon he's standing with the rest of his flight, waiting for the damn belt to start moving. As he sends a text off to Sam to tell him he'll be out in a minute, the buzzer sounds and the belt comes to life.

At first, like always, nothing comes out. Then, fully wrapped presents start coming out the luggage shoot. Dean looks around and finds he's not the only bewildered one among them as they stare at the gifts. One little girl—Josephine Dean remembers—steps forward and tells her mom she sees her name, grabbing a gift from the belt.

"Oh no sweetie," she starts, but then pauses, "Josephine Bears…" she reads, "this does say your name."

The girl jumps up excitedly, "Can I open it?"

Everyone, at this point, is looking at them and when her mom nods, Josephine is off, ripping away the wrappings.

"A pony!" she holds the stuffed animal up like a prize, "purple! It's just what I told Santa mommy!"

And at that, other passengers start to go forward, look for their names on the boxes.

Dean remembers what he told the Santa. Pretty hard to forget that he just opened up to some stranger about how much he misses his partner and how all he wants for Christmas is him complete with annoyingly catchy chorus. But before he can be so cruel to himself as to hope, Dean clamps down on the thought. Cas isn't here. He isn't going to be here. He's going to celebrate Christmas in the sand and Dean's going to celebrate Christmas with him brother, wishing and worrying.

Families and single travelers all exclaim over their gifts when a part of the luggage claim opens up and out steps two helpers holding a large box. An excited family steps forward and a quick peel of wrapping shows a large tv. The family is ecstatic.

Dean scoffs, "I should have asked for that" would have at least been realistic he doesn't say. He wonders vaguely when he's going to get his actual bag, when he can escape this.

"Sorry," a voice says behind him and Dean's turning with wide eyes before he even comprehends it, "you're just going to have to settle for me."

Before he's even done speaking, Dean is launching himself at Cas.

Dean's holding him tight, so tight it's got to hurt, "you idiot. What possessed you to take another tour." Dean pulls back, just enough to really look at him, to make sure it's really Cas, that he's really here. That this is really happening.

"God I love you so much." Dean says and it's through tears because he's crying—of course—but Cas has wetness in his eyes too so he doesn't feel too bad about it.

"I love you too," Cas pulls them back in to a hug, clinging back as hard as Dean clings to him, "I missed you. Every day I missed you so, so much."

"You're staying." Dean says definitively before pulling back again, "you are staying, right?" Dean cups Cas' cheek, searches those blue eyes he's missed and waits with his heart in his throat. God, Cas is still in his fatigues, what if he's not staying? What if this is some weird drop-by-hi before he goes off again where Dean can't follow? What if—?

Cas' smile is just as sweet as before he left, "I'm staying."

"Oh thank god." The words aren't even fully out of his mouth before Dean's kissing Cas, putting their lips together in a chaste kiss that still has the power to convey what their words could only glimmer.

When they pull apart, Dean rests his forehead against Cas' and tangles his hand in Cas' hair. The hands at his waist tighten. Dean pulls out his phone with his free hand.

"Sammy?" Dean says and he knows he can't keep the smile from his voice, "set another place for Christmas dinner," Dean goddamn giggles he's so giddy, "Cas is home."

Cas smiles, big and bright and Dean melts.


When they pull up to Sam and Jess' modest home, Dean and Cas get out of the car from the same side, they haven't let go of each other's hands since they were reunited.

"Sammy," Dean says, taking out his spare key to the house (they may live on opposite ends of the country, but the brothers still have each other's extra house keys), "take Jess out somewhere nice for dinner. Then go see a move or something." He wiggles his eyebrow, "take your time."

"Gross, Dean," Sam gets out over Jess and Cas' snickers, but the two obediently stay in the car and drive off down town.

Dean gets the door unlocked and shuffles in and when he clicks the door closed behind the two of them, he quickly finds himself pushed up against it, being kissed within an inch of his life.

Cas has always been good at kissing. He cups Dean's jaw gently, presses his lips against Dean's with just enough pressure to really feel it, and sighs into his mouth like there is nothing in the world he'd rather be doing.

Dean wraps his arms around Cas' waist and pulls him in tight, opening his mouth to draw the kiss deeper, make it wet and dirty and desperate like he needs. Cas moans into it and nips at Dean's lower lip, spurring him on. They stand there, leaning against the front door, making out and groping each other for a long while, they have a lot of time to make up for.

It's when they start rocking against one another with intent that Cas pulls back. Dean gives him a questioning look, but Cas just smiles and slowly sinks down onto his knees. Dean groans, head falling back against the door before Cas has full kneeled.

"'S been too long," Dean mumbles, running his hand through Cas' hair repetitively. Cas nods, pulling Dean out with efficiency. As he holds Dean's cock in his hand, relearning the heat of it, the size, he glances up to meet Dean's eyes before taking the head in his mouth.

They both groan as one; Dean at the wet heat and Cas at the welcome weight on his tongue. And then Cas starts bobbing his head.

"Fuck," Dean tries to keep his hips flat against the door, tries not to tug too hard on Cas' hair, "too good to me, Cas, so good, fuck."

Cas rubs his thumb in little circles against Dean's hipbone before pulling off with an obscene sound, "you can…" Cas says, "if you want."

Dean gets it, after so long with Cas it would be a shame if he couldn't because Cas just gave him permission to fuck his face.

"You're perfect," Dean gushes as he slowly trusts into Cas' mouth, keeping it shallow as to not choke him. Cas smiles around him and Dean is awestruck. One of his hands migrates from Cas' hair to his face and he lets his thumb sit there at the corner of Cas' mouth, feeling himself move.

"Not gonna last, sweetheart," Dean bites his lip, "too good for me."

Cas sucks harder and presses his tongue against the vein on the underside of Dean's dick just enough and Dean's lost, coming hard with a whimper. Dean slides down the door and Cas lets him, moving to allow for more room. Once he's seated, Cas leans forward for a kiss and Dean can taste himself and Cas and it's wonderful.

"Gimme a minute…" Dean gets out between kisses as he slowly comes down from his high. Cas hums agreeably and kisses his way down his neck. He's sucking a high school sized hicky and Dean can't make himself care—he knows he'll be doing the same to Cas before the night is over.

"Okay, up" Dean says and Cas is up quick as a shot, holding out a hand to help Dean. He's flushed, and his fatigues do nothing to hide his arousal and Dean can't help grinning.

"Standing at attention, I see."

Cas rolls his eyes, dragging Dean along to the spare room, "you've used that line too many times. It was no funnier then than it is now."

"Spoilsport." Dean slaps Cas' ass. The glare he gets for that is mitigated by the soft smile Cas is wearing.

They close the guest bedroom door behind themselves and Cas wastes no time ins stripping from his fatigues. Dean watches, admiring a view he'd sorely missed.

"God you're hot."

Cas smiles, almost preening, "then what are you doing over there?"

Dean grins and discards his own clothes quickly after that, feeling his dick give a halfhearted twitch at Cas' tone, but it's too soon for that.

Cas is lying on the bed by the time Dean's pulling off his socks, "turn over," Dean makes the motion with his hand. Cas raises an eyebrow questioningly but complies, giving Dean a great view of his ass.

Dean wastes no time getting on the bed with him and giving his butt a slap, earning a little yelp from Cas and an annoyed backwards glance.

Dean huffs a laugh and gets down to business, parting Cas' cheeks so he can get a nice view of his hole, all pink and puckered, before leaning in and giving it a sound lick. Cas' noise this time is certainly not one of annoyance.

"Yes," he hisses and Dean's grin broadens as he goes in again, licking and pushing into the tight ring of muscle with his tongue. Cas moans are gorgeous and make Dean double his efforts for more as reward.

A high pitched keen has Dean bringing one hand around to stroke Cas' neglected cock, flushed red and dripping, and it's not two stokes when Cas lets go with a cry of Dean's name. Dean cradles Cas' softening cock and continues to lick his hole until Cas gives a final shudder that borders on too much.

Dean pulls away and goes further up the bed, wrapping his arms around Cas and dragging him away from the wet spot. They fight to get under the covers and are able to manage with minimal difficulties. As they lay in each other's arms, Dean can't help but marvel about how this is his life.

"I got you back," he all but whispers.

Cas smile is sleepy and sweet, "and I'm not going anywhere," he leans in for a slow, lingering kiss, "I love you so much, Dean."

Dean's arms tighten and he feels wetness at his eyes, "I love you too Cas," he kisses his forehead once then again, "I love you too."


and here's my secret santa gift for wingchestr through the deancasweek blog on tumblr. I'm glad to be a part but god, did I have to rush to finish. I figured I had so much time and then went and wasted all of that said time. Regardless, wingchestr enjoyed it so I'm calling it a success! I hope y'all enjoy it as well!