I Came Here With a Load
He's there again, the lanky kid with the notebook and pencil. He comes every day you play at this little club and, to be honest, you find it kind of flattering. He hasn't missed a single one of your performances ever since he first came here about a month ago, which is seventeen shows so far. That's commitment.
On this Wednesday, you've got half mind to come up to him and ask what he's always writing down in that notebook. He looks like a damn critic, judging you. But, at the same time, he looks really at peace whenever he's here, scribbling away in his notebook, erasing and rewriting whatever he's doing. He seems like the story kind of guy to you, though you could never be sure. Maybe it's poems.
Maybe you shouldn't be thinking so hard about this. You've got a performance to do.
You make your way up on the stage, waving away the compliments and cheer you get from the crowd with a smile. Notebook kid doesn't cheer, just looks up and smiles, tapping his pencil. He's always like this. He'll only stop writing when you play, and you feel your heart swell a bit at the realization.
You sit down on the little stool center stage, right behind the mic, and pick up your acoustic guitar. The crowd grows quiet as you lean into the mic.
"Evenin', everybody." And the crowd says 'Evenin'!' right back, just like you always asked them to before they caught on themselves.
"How you guys doin' tonight?" You smile into the mic as you're met by a medley of "good!" and you strum a G chord to begin the night.
"Good, good. Glad you're all feelin' good." You adjust the microphone and strum a C chord. Perfectly tuned. "Tonight I'll be playing you a song titled '100 Suns'. A lot of you might recognize it, s'kinda popular, and I'll need you to do backup for me Can you do that?" The crowd claps and cheers for a few moments and you take that as a yes, look over to notebook kid one more time, meeting his too blue eyes before you let the music take you over.
"I believe in nothing
Not the end and not the start
I believe in nothing
Not the earth and not the stars
I believe in nothing
Not the day and not the dark
I believe in nothing
But the beating of our hearts"
You turn your attention to notebook kid now, who has his eyes closed and his hand tapping lightly on the table he's seated at. He's joined the crowd in singing the background "Oh's" and you can't help but smile to yourself. You're smiling an awful lot this night, you realize.
"I believe in nothing
One hundred suns until we part
I believe in nothing
Not in sin and not in God
I believe in nothing
Not in peace and not in war
I believe in nothing
But the truth in who we are"
The crowd whoops and hollers, but you don't hear any of it. All you can see is notebook kid's smile-- and that smile should headline in the fucking news, you think --as he writes a little more. You play a couple more songs, thank the crowd and excuse yourself from the stage. You've decided you're gonna talk to notebook kid today. You have to, actually.
He's picking his stuff up when you approach him, packing away his notebook of whatever it is and picking up his pencils and putting them in his bag. His back faces you, so you tap him on the shoulders.
He jumps and turns around, bag in towe, and you laugh a little at his action.
"Oh, my God," he says, and wow, his voice is very gravelly, like he'd been gargling asphalt since he was born. But in a good way, if even possible. "You scared the shit out of me."
You both laugh.
"I'm sorry," you say, a smile on your face. "I didn't mean to scare you." You laugh again and extend your hand to shake. "Dean Winchester. You probably already knew that, though. And you are...?"
He reaches his hand out and takes yours, and you can't help but notice his hands are very soft and warm.
"Castiel," he says, "Castiel Novak. And yes, I already knew your name, Dean." He retracts his hand from yours, and gives you another small smile.
"Awesome. So, Castiel," you start, pointing to his notebook, "whatcha always writing in there?" You arch one of your eyebrows, and he laughs.
"Nothing, really," he pulls the notebook out of the messenger bag, "just some silly old songs I write. They're really nothing special." He's flipping through it, fondly smiling as if recalling a pleasant childhood memory. He closes it and runs a hand over the cover, caressing the leather exterior.
"Can I read one?" You ask, now having taken up one of the chairs.
"Oh." he says. "Yeah, sure." He flips the notebook open to a song he finds appropriate and hands it to you.
"I... this ones just kind of stupid." He looks down as you begin to read:
Take one breath, wonder if you might've breathed it better
You could take a class on lung expansion, blame it on the weather
You can't be heard over the wind, others breathing out and in
With such conviction, like they're not afraid to take the oxygen
And never marvel at the heartbeat banging steady in their ears
Their chests expand like rubber bands so tight around their fears
But maybe they have none of those, and all of that's dilation
And contraction feels constructive, not cause for renovation
Everytime you feel like your dramatic personator
Isn't listing anybody but a single fool narrator
Never building towards anything, a tragic one-man circus ring
Remember, it's not over until Cecelia sings
So everyone's a character and all the worlds a stage
But your spotlight's a bit dimmer than you need to read your page
So every lines half memorized, and half approximation
And the opera hall's collapsing, it could use some renovation.
You lower the notebook slowly and look to Castiel, who's looking quite uncomfortable.
"Dude." You say, and you're sure your mouth is hanging wide open but you don't care, because you just read some amazing song lyrics.
"I... I'm sorry. I didn't... they're bad, aren't they?" he asks, and you feel like laughing because he's so worked up over literally nothing.
"No, they're amazing!" You nod approvingly before closing the notebook and handing it back over. "I would have never guessed in a million years you could write like that."
He stuffs the notebook back in his bag, smiling. "Thank you so much." he stands up as if to leave, but you stop him.
He stops and turns around, and dammit, you're not going to fuck yourself over by messing this up.
"Want to get a drink with me, you know, like, at the bar down the street tomorrow? Say around 7?" You're suddenly feeling very anxious and vulnerable for no reason, and God damn it...
He contemplates this before answering, "Yes, I'd like that."
You finds yourself preparing for your night out an hour early, laying out clothes and acting like a teenage girl, and holy shit this isn't a date this is just getting drinks with a friend whatthefuckareyoudoing
You settles on a faded ACDC shirt and dark blue jeans with a hole in the knee. You feel like you look like you're trying too hard, or not hard enough, and for the second time that night you wonder if you're actually a 14 year old girl trapped in a male collage juniors body.
You sigh and make your way to the bar at about 6:45 and you're actually surprised when you find Castiel already there, coddling a bottle of beer.
You take a seat across from him, the waitress takes your order and you thank her before you notice Castiel has his notebook, too. You wait a couple minutes and when he doesn't look up at you, you clear your throat.
"Workin' on a song there?" You ask, and he puts the pencil down, looking up at you.
"Yes. I apologize." He says, but pushes it towards you and says, "you can read it if you'd like, to make up for my ignoring you."
"Hey, it's not a big deal, really." You smile but pull the notebook closer towards you so you can read what he's written this time. It only takes up half a page, and it's peppered with notes and marks from here he's erased, but his neat handwriting is still clear.
How can you imply that I'd leave you behind?
Do you really think I am quite that wise?
I try to be the beast, and side with what lies least
But in my mind I find holes the size of dustbowls.
Makes me wonder why I tried
To cottle and care for
The rusting chains connecting you and I
The days just turn themselves like pages in a book
They fall down from their shelves into the fire
I tried to do the right thing, give back what I took
But, in the end, it's all pretend, and I'm just a liar in a dustbowl
Makes me wonder how I knew
I'd borrow and battle
Through every memory I spent with you
You whistle, pushing it back towards him.
"That... was brilliant. Really. You're an amazing songwriter, I can't believe it." You look at him and holy shit, he's smiling and blushing a little and you don't think you can actually handle this right now.
"Thanks," he says simply, tucking the notebook in his bag. He returns his hands to the table, pursing his lips.
"So," he offers, and just then the waitress comes by with your slice of apple pie and beer. You throw her a quick thanks before digging in.
Castiel laughs and shakes his head. "Apple, huh," He smiles when you lift your head and neatly spits crumbs all over the table when you say, "I love me some pie."
Castiel sighs. "I'm more of a Cherry man myself, to be honest."
You make a face as you finish up the last bite of pie.
"Eugh," you groan, "Cherry is the epitome of every shitty pie ever. It's like pouring a bottle of thick cough syrup in a pastry shell and putting small seeds and bits of paper in it. Never in my life have I had a Cherry pie where the skins didn't get stuck everywhere in my mouth. If you asked me if I would rather eat an entire Cherry pie or throw myself off the empire state building, I would choose the free fall."
"That's a bit melodramatic," Castiel says, "Don't you think?"
"Nope," You say firmly, but you can't help but let a little chuckle slip out as you take a sip of beer. He throws his head back and his whole body shakes with the force of his laughter.
The rest of the night consists of story sharing; you talk about Sammy mostly since he's really the only family you have left, but you talk about Bobby a little, too, and Castiel falters but shares some information about his brother Gabriel but that's all. He's defidently avoiding the topic, and you want to know why. There's something telling you not to push, but you can't help but do it.
"Castiel," you begin, and already you're regretting asking and you haven't even said anything yet, "what's the rest of your family like? You mom and dad, your other brothers...?"
He freezes and stiffens, before taking a deep breath.
"I'm not sure you want to hear that story." He replies, wringing his hands.
You finish off your beer and cock an eyebrow. "Sure I do," you lean in a bit closer, "tell me about it."
He opens his mouth as if to protest, but turns away and begins talking.
"My family was... not the most supportive. They didn't... my mother died when I was born. I'm not sure why, nobody is, really, but... my father has always blamed me for it. He was a very religious man. Said I was sent from hell to destroy the family." He shudders and takes another swig of beer before continuing, "He beat me. Quite a bit, I still have scars and bruises and burn marks."
He laughs bitterly and you want to just die for asking about it.
"It only got worse when I... I came out. I told him about the boyfriend I had at the time, how it couldn't possibly be a sin to feel love like that. He told me I was going to hell, that I was an abomination and God hated me." He coughs, and you think you hear a bit of a sob in there, but you can't be sure.
"He beat me almost to death that night. If it weren't for my brother Gabriel I would probably be dead right now. Gabriel threw a steel pot at him, knocked him out cold. He helped me get a scholarship here. Just to get away."
You catch yourself with tears in your eyes and you feel like such a fucking bastard for pushing him to talk.
"I'm so sorry," you bark out, "what a fucking horrible question. I shouldn't of even asked, I'm so sorry."
He turns to you, flashing a watery smile.
"Don't be," he says, grabbing your arm and giving it a squeeze. "you're the first one to even ask. To be honest, it feels a lot better to talk to someone about it. I'm glad you asked, it's like a burden being lifted, y'know?" He looks you in the eyes and smiles, genuinely this time. "Thank you, really."
He spends the next hour telling you about his dick of a brother Lucifer and Raphael and how they were no better, an how Gabriel has always watched out for him. He tells you about his ex boyfriend Balthazar and how they're still great friends, and as you drive back to your dorm that night, you can't help but feel special that he divulged this information unto you. He said he's never told anybody about it, not even past boyfriends. You gave him your phone number in case he ever wants to talk a little more.
You hope he does.