The music was loud, thumping bass and guitar riffs mixing together with the concoction of sweat and endorphins floating in the air. The night was warm, the lights were bright. Thousands of people were screaming song lyrics at each other and the stage, jumping up and down as they did so and cheering until their voices gave out. The ground vibrated with the moving crowd while the air buzzed with the thundering bass. It was an oddly-timed choreography of chaos and ecstasy.
In short, Castiel had no idea how he'd been talked into this mess.
There were people left and right obviously enjoying themselves and the music, his brother and cousin among them, but he himself simply couldn't quite grasp the appeal of this so-called "Classic Rock". For him everything classical, as far as music was concerned, was dated somewhere pre-twentieth century, not pre-1990. But that was just him apparently.
"Come on, kiddo," Gabriel yelled into his ear over the music. "Turn that frown upside down!" Had he kept it at the familiar request Castiel might have been inclined to offer an insincere half-smile but of course the shorter man wasn't done. He grabbed Castiel's cheeks and pushed them up into a grimace that was supposed to imitate but didn't even come near an actual smile. Castiel pushed him off, his frown deepening. He loved his brother but he was still a major pain in the neck.
To his other side, Balthazar had regrettably not missed the siblings' exchange and patted Castiel's shoulder mockingly. "Gabriel's got a point there." He leaned in closer. "Just live a little for once in your unbelievably dull existence."
Not even trying to suppress his eye-roll, Castiel shook his cousin's arm of and made a point of joining in with the crowd in a particularly eardrum-abusing cheer. A moment later he regretted having done so because just as he turned back to his two companions in order to triumphantly rub his forced enthusiasm in their faces he saw a solemn nod being exchanged between the two of them, obviously ending one of the many non-verbal conversations they had.
The next moment the two of them were stepping even closer than the crowded space imposed anyway and, after exchanging a pair of truly devious smirks, proclaiming at the very top of their lungs-
Immediately the two guys directly in front of Castiel spun around as if they had been waiting for their cue all night and before he even knew what was happening they, together with some of Balthazar's and very little of Gabriel's help, lifted him off the ground as if he weighed absolutely nothing and levered him up above everyone's heads.
"No, no, no. Wait!" Castiel exclaimed in distress, contorting his body to look over his shoulder at his so-called family. They both waved smugly at him and hollered their farewells while he was merrily passed on from one group of hands to another. From his current position, Castiel was even more stunned at how large the gathering of people truly was. And this was only a tribute concert, he couldn't imagine what the band's actual show must have looked like. Even he had to admit that he was impressed.
It took a seemingly infinite amount of time to get from his initial involuntary starting point to the front barrier where the most enthusiastic fan base seemed to have gathered. There was sufficient amount of space dividing the masses from the band on stage and Castiel fervently hoped that the excited crowd that was currently in charge of his wellbeing wouldn't just throw him down onto the uninviting concrete ground.
Before that could happen, however, a pair of strong, gloved hands came up to grab his midsection. "Hey, Benny, little help here!" a voice yelled and another moment later Castiel found himself face to very well-formed behind as he was thrown over the shoulder of one of the security guards. It was almost surreal to be on the ground again after that strange excursion and it took a moment for Castiel to wrap his head around the concept of walking again.
"You alright, brother?" a new voice asked, tinged with a prominent southern drawl and Castiel looked up into a slightly bemused bearded face.
"I- Yes. I think."
"S'alright, I got him," the first voice said again and apparently it was enough to send the man with the thick accent walking to the next mission with a nod. Castiel stared after him, dumbfounded, until someone tugged gently at his shirt. "C'mon, we need to move."
When he turned around, Castiel was tempted to just continue spinning and walk into the other direction because the guy he found himself in front of, the guy whose behind he had been ogling not two minutes ago, was even more stunning from a standing perspective. Immediately Castiel felt his cheeks grow warm. He followed the other man without a word, not that he would have been able to utter something coherent in his befuddlement. They walked along the entire length of the stage until they came to a makeshift gate where other men in the same attire as the one in his company did watched the crowd closely.
"Dean?" one of them asked as they approached. "Didn't know you were on personal security detail today."
"I'll just be a minute," Castiel's saviour- Dean- muttered in this ridiculously pleasant tone of voice. The other man just nodded knowingly and opened the gate to what appeared to be the staff area. A hand settled in the small of Castiel's back while he let himself be led to a secluded area somewhere diagonally behind the main stage. A grimy plastic table surrounded by a couple of camping chairs came into view and the security guard immediately hurried in front of Castiel to pull one out for him.
"Thank you," Castiel murmured candidly as he took a seat.
"No problem, you looked a little more lost than the usual dudes that come surfin' in."
"Yes," Castiel agreed. "I'm afraid this isn't my habitual scene."
"No shit," the other man chuckled. "Name's Dean, just in case you didn't listen to the douche back there." He nodded vaguely toward the direction they had come from. "Wouldn't blame you."
"Oh. No, I heard. It's nice to meet you, Dean." He swallowed. "I'm Castiel."
Dean walked over to the lone watercooler a few steps away and filled two plastic cups. One of them he placed on the table in front of Castiel. "Have some water, Cas."
Castiel nodded his thanks and drowned the cup in one large gulp, only now realizing how dry his throat was. Dean took a couple of small sips of his own water, watching Castiel closely from where he was standing. "So, what exactly has a guy like you comin' to an event like this, huh?"
"My brother. Initially someone far more enthused than I was supposed to come along but she got sick so he asked me to take her ticket. And here I am." Castiel shrugged.
The security guard seemed amused. "And the attire?"
Only now, as he looked down his own body, did it occur to Castiel why everyone immediately knew he did not quite belong there. He was wearing black slacks and a business shirt. "I- they picked me up straight from the office," came his stammered explanation.
"Lemme guess," Dean said, smirk still in place. "Tax accountant?" His green eyes danced with mirth and Castiel didn't quite find the will to look away.
"Lawyer," he corrected.
At that, Dean's eyes widened. "Oh? Cool. My little brother's studying to be a lawyer, too."
Castiel smiled appreciatively. "They have great programs, I'm sure he's doing very well."
Dean nodded, his pride evident. "Yeah. Sammy, he's real smart. Not a potato-head like me." He looked at his watch. "Listen. The concert's gonna be over in a couple of minutes and they're gonna need me over at the exits…"
A frown found its way onto Castiel's face at the other man's obvious self-depreciation but there was no time to comment on it since Dean was already walking back toward the stage. "Of course." He got up and threw his cup in a nearby trashcan before breaking into a jog to catch up with the security guard. "I apologize for taking up so much of your time."
Again, Dean's face broke into a wide smile that was almost painfully lovely to observe. "Nah, Cas, it ain't like that. You were by far my favorite crowd surfer of the day. It's been real nice hanging out with you."
The gate was back in sight way sooner than Castiel would have liked, and he didn't quite feel ready. "I would say I'll see you around but I fear that's rather unlikely, considering the mass of people."
Dean's face fell but he was quick to regain his composure. "Guess you're right. Well, either way- I had a blast. Promise me you'll give the rest of the festival a chance?"
"I will do my best, Dean."
"Atta boy." Dean winked at him, turned around and disappeared between groups of people that were leaving the concert early.
Castiel pointedly ignored the faint little flutter in his stomach.
"Come on," Gabriel begged, his mouth full with what had to be half a package of gummy bears.
"Absolutely not, Gabriel." Castiel shook his head vehemently. "I will not go to a metal concert with you."
"I'm surprised he even knows what you were referring to," Balthazar commented, flipping the page on the rather disgusting skin mag he found under the pull-out couch.
"Not helping, Balth," Gabriel hissed before shoving the second half of the bag of sweets into his mouth. He rather reminded Castiel of a hamster. A hamster that would very soon die of diabetes. "Please, Cas! It's Anna's favorite band, she'll kill you if you don't go."
"I thought the last concert we went to yesterday was her favorite," Castiel said sceptically, crossing his arms.
Gabriel made an exaggerated psh sound and rolled his eyes. "Favorite, Second-favorite, who cares? Point is, you promised to fill in for her and she'd go with me."
"I said No and that is final," Castiel said with authority before walking away from the pointless argument and into the bathroom.
Sure enough, two hours later found Castiel standing in the third row of a band's concert whose name sounded more like a federal offence than anything else. Thinking of which, there probably already was a band called Federal Offence.
"Isn't this awesome?" Gabriel was indulging himself in what was commonly referred to as head-banging. Castiel wished his brother would miraculously bang his head against a wall so this nonsense could end. He was just about to voice his general displeasure when Gabriel grabbed his arm and loudly proclaimed, "MOSHPIT!" before he was violently yanked backwards.
What followed was something Castiel had thought he'd never have to experience after his last high school gym lesson- namely, being roughly pushed from one brainless person to another. He didn't know how it was possible but he was almost certain he could hear his brother snicker from somewhere while he so desperately tried to keep his footing.
Apparently he had failed miserably because the next thing he remembered was being held up by a strong pair of arms, overcome by an unwanted sense of déja vu. "Well, I'll be damned," a vaguely familiar voice drawled. "Dean! This one's for you!"
Another couple of moments later he felt himself being handed over to someone else but his head was still swimming too much to form a conscious connection to the situation. "Christ, we gotta stop meeting like this," a soft voice murmured into his ear and Castiel found himself agreeing wholeheartedly with whoever had said it.
"I radioed Cole to fill in for you, Garth is waiting with a medical kit at the north entrance."
"Thanks, Benny. I owe you one."
Benny. Benny and Dean. That rang a bell. "Dean," Castiel repeated, eyes still mostly shut.
"Yeah, it's me, Cas. You'll be fine."
"Already am," he said and he couldn't be certain but he thought he was smiling. There was a bit of shuffling around and a couple of verbal exchanges Castiel wasn't able to understand properly but soon he was placed on a moderately soft surface and someone pulled at his closed eyelids only to shine a disgustingly bright light into his eyes. Castiel flinched away and tried to move until a soothing hand weaved itself into his hair, calming him instantly.
"Jeez, careful, Garth. Dude's beaten enough as it is."
There was a mumbled apology followed by retreating steps. Castiel turned toward the other voice, the one right by his side. "Dean?"
"Yup. Still me."
Castiel tried to open his eyes but was only partly successful. His right eye cooperated comparatively well, but his left, it appeared, was swollen shut for the time being. "What happened?"
"You got trampled in one of the bigger mosh pits. Took a pretty good hit to your noggin. Garth went to get some ice for your eye so the swelling ebbs off," Dean smiled. "Y'know that's not really what I meant by giving the festival another chance, right?"
"No?" Castiel feigned surprise. "And here I was thinking I was doing my promise justice."
"Funny guy," Dean murmured, still carding his fingers softly through Castiel's hair. His other hand tugged teasingly at the black t-shirt promoting the band that was still loudly continuing with their show somewhere in the background that Castiel was wearing, courtesy of Gabriel. "I take it you're not a fan?"
"Not even remotely," Castiel snorted. "Their music, if it can even be called that, makes me appreciate yesterday's assault on my ear drums."
"Everybody's a critic nowadays," Dean said with a dramatic sigh. "I should really take you to the final show tomorrow, explain what's awesome and why. Maybe that'd help you to listen to the songs and not just write 'em off as no-brainer rock music."
"Will it be anything similar to what I have endured today?"
"Nope. To be honest, this ain't my cup of tea either. I'm just working my last shifts here at this stage so I can have tomorrow mostly off. The final show's more like a tribute medley concert of all the big names. ELO, Styx, Bad Company and the likes."
"Then I would really like to come along, if your offer is genuine," Castiel said. He could get used to the music, maybe he wouldn't like every song but at least he'd for once be going out of his own free will and with a company of his choosing.
"Really?" Dean seemed pleasantly surprised. The hand in Castiel's hair moved to caress his forehead and uninjured cheek, adding to the intimacy. "I'd like that a lot."
They gazed at each other without speaking long enough that Castiel hoped no one was watching them too closely. "You have a lot of freckles," Castiel stated without thinking, only realizing what he had said when Dean burst out laughing.
"Okay, buddy. You hit your head pretty bad. No flirting unless you're a hundred percent aware of what you're saying."
Just as Castiel was about to either protest or defend himself a lanky guy game walking toward them, holding a blue icepack. In passing he handed it over to Dean who gently pressed it against the swollen side of Castiel's face.
"That's so gonna bruise, bro," someone piqued up from a couple of feet away. The voice caused Castiel's head to throb with an ache that was entirely unrelated to his injuries.
"Gabriel." Castiel breathed out noisily.
"Is that your brother?" Dean's entire disposition changed from one second to the next as he pushed the icepack into Castiel's hand and straightened himself up. "Are you his brother?!"
"You son of a bitch," Dean muttered, obviously fighting to keep his control. "Yesterday's stunt was kinda hilarious, I'll give you that much, but today? That was dangerous. He could've been seriously hurt, and for what?"
Gabriel's eyes quickly darted over Castiel, obviously taking in the damage. When it was clear that, beside some drowsiness and what was surely to become a black eye, his brother was alright, he turned to face Dean with a smirk. "Shits and giggles?"
Dean narrowed his eyes, a dangerous glint in them. He was only calmed by Castiel who gently wrapped the fingers of his free hand around his wrist. Dean swallowed hard and returned to his crouching position from earlier, wordlessly taking the icepack back. "Cas, can I punch your brother in the face?"
"Yo, what's the deal with Nurse Joy?"
Castiel sighed and vaguely gestured between the two other men. "Gabriel, this is Dean. Dean, my brother Gabriel."
"What, that assclown?" Gabriel frowned sceptically. "I thought he'd be taller."
"Assclown?!" Dean bristled. "Wait. Taller?"
Despite Castiel's pathetic attempt at non-verbal conversation, Gabriel continued to be a complete and utter jerk. "Yeah. I mean Cas here has been reliving your precious encounter from yesterday every waking moment of his. I bet he even wrote about you in his diary-"
"I do not keep a-"
"Dear diary," Gabriel continued, unfazed by Castiel's interruption, "Today I met Dean. Dean is so handsome. I really like his eyes. When I think of Dean my pants get real tight and I get this funny feeling between my-"
"Okay, message received," Dean cut in. "Now, are you going to be responsible and take Cas somewhere quiet?"
"I bet you'd like to take him somewhere quiet…"
Dean dropped his head onto Castiel's stomach with a groan. "Cas. May I please punch your brother in the face?"
"Enough," Castiel whined, "both of you. My head hurts, I really want to sleep, and that icepack is lukewarm and disgusting."
Even Gabriel sobered slightly at how miserable Castiel sounded. "Fine, little bro. I'll text Balthazar to pick us up."
"Thank you, Gabe."
"Anything for my favourite sibling." Gabriel said sweetly, already retreating.
Castiel managed a glare as he yelled after his brother, "I'm still mad at you."
"How are you two related again?" Dean asked, his anger gone. He was absentmindedly patting the pockets of his work jacket and pulled a pen from one of them.
"As a teenager I prayed every day for a sign that either of us was adopted," Castiel confessed, only half-jokingly.
"I bet," Dean chuckled. "Got something to write on?" When Castiel shook his head, Dean rummaged through his pockets once more until he came up with a crumpled gas station receipt. He scribbled something down, smiling as he did it, and then took one of Castiel's hands to make sure he wouldn't lose the note immediately. "Call me, so I can pick you up tomorrow."
Castiel regarded the numbers on the paper with what had to be the most idiotic smile humankind was capable of. "I will. Thank you for staying with me."
"Anytime." Dean helped Castiel up from where he was stretched out and supported most of his weight as they made their way to where Gabriel was standing. Just when Balthazar pulled up in front of them and Gabriel climbed into the car and was distracted, Dean dropped a quick kiss on Castiel's cheek. "By the way- I really like your eyes too," he whispered as he pulled back.
The last thing Castiel saw before Balthazar stomped onto the accelerator was Dean's cheeky wink.
The music was loud. The night was warm. The lights were bright. The steady beat of the music matched Castiel's heartbeat while a familiar voice softly sang song lyrics into his ear. The crowd around them was mad in their celebration but with Dean standing protectively behind him, Castiel didn't care. They were standing in the first row, just shy of the centre of the stage. Castiel may even have enjoyed it somewhat but that had less to do with the music and more with the hand rubbing circles into his hipbone. Every now and then Benny would walk past and send them a knowing look that Dean would rebut with a playful insult.
In short, Castiel was enjoying himself.
Well, until someone expressed his excitement with rejoicings loud enough to sound above the already ear-shattering thunder of noise. Reluctantly, Castiel looked over his shoulder to confirm his suspicions. There, several rows behind them, was Gabriel hoisted up on Balthazar's shoulders so everyone could see the neon pink sign he was holding up.
Cas luvs Dean
Dean looked pleadingly at Castiel. "Cas…"
"Yes, Dean," Castiel muttered. "You may punch my brother in the face."