"We haven't finished The Sacrifice and it's fucking depressing anyway," Dean snapped, slamming his coffee down on top of the set list plans. "We're finishing with Cravings."
"Blah blah blah, I'm Sam and I'm a bitch who hates my own guitar solos, I don't care. It's a crowd pleaser and you know it."
Sam tensed all over in a manner that probably looked terrifying to anyone who didn't know his six foot huge of pure muscle hid the heart of a puppy. "You are such a jerk."
"You love me really." Sam got to his feet, still visibly tense and grumpy. "Where're you headed?"
"Out," Sam snapped, like it wasn't obvious. "I need a lot more weed before I can promise I don't kill you."
"Such a romantic," Dean said, grinning, before glancing over the finalised list. Seven crowd pleasers, two oldies for the long-term fans, and three slots free for the new album.
It'd help if the new album was finished, but they had a month to go and hadn't resorted to Andy's mushrooms for last minute inspiration yet. Besides, when the band's drummer also happened to be their producer's son, a little leeway was allowed here and there.
At least, that was what Dean told himself in order to keep sleeping at night.
Dean found himself several hours later stretched out on the sofa, staring at a ceiling that seemed to mock him and his inability to fit words to music or music to words. That Sam had decided to cover said ceiling in the lyrics to American Pie not long after they first moved into the apartment didn't help, and Dean had never dared ask what Sam was on when he made that decision for fear of finding out it was a sober one.
Sam had a knack for attracting weird and wonderful things while getting hold of creative substances - case in point, their drummer. Sam had met Gabriel the first and last time they ever investigated ecstasy; anything that made Sam sweat even worse than usual wasn't worth trying more than once, but Sam's bringing home a new boyfriend who just happened to be a drummer, the son of a producer, and the single best friend on the planet to have around when you had the munchies because he just attracted food, was an instance of unholy luck.
He figured it was typical that Sam's shopping trip for weed had ended in him stumbling through to his bedroom accompanied by not one but two male voices, before slamming the door, a thin stream of smoke creeping through the gap underneath minutes later, accompanied only by the occasional giggle.
When giggling turned to less innocent noises, Dean pondered busting in everyone but opted instead to head to his own room for some much needed rest. Coffee wasn't cutting it any more, and with luck he might have a McCartney moment and wake with a new song on the brain.
In later years, when being interviewed by a ghost writer for his autobiography, Dean would realise the turning point from 'good' to 'awesome' in his career - hell, in his life - was all courtesy of his own ability to piss Sam off to the point of storming out of the apartment. The late realisation was probably a good thing, at least for Sam; he might have tried pissing Sam off even more if he'd pieced everything together sooner.
It was Sam's turn to pay for breakfast, threesome or no threesome, and Dean opened the door to Sam curled up around Gabriel, completely stealing the blanket from -
"Good morning," said the dark haired, blue eyed, completely fucking gorgeous stranger who wasn't part of the post-threesome cuddle.
"I. Uh. Morning."
Completely fucking gorgeous naked stranger. "Do you need something?"
"So you and Sam - uh - I'm gonna - go now."
The stranger continued staring at him - at his shoulder, not his eyes, which was unsettling in and of itself - as if Dean was the weird one for being embarrassed at the sight of an unfamiliar and completely unashamedly naked man in bed with his brother.
"Bye," Dean finished before closing the door and heading to the bathroom for a shower.
A cold one.
Breakfast was a truly weird affair, courtesy of Gabriel alternating between draping himself over Sam and making increasingly obscene comments about their beautiful dark haired companion - Castiel, apparently, making his parents even crueller than Gabe's - and his taste for sausage.
The cold shower had been a bad idea. Jerking off in a hot shower would have left his dick disabled rather than merely discouraged.
"Cas plays the piano, you know," Sam piped up. "Well, keyboard. And the trumpet -"
"- And triangle. Oh! And the xylophone -"
"Sam! It's great - Cas, that's awesome - but is Chuck gonna be okay with this?"
"It's cool," Gabriel said, grinning. "Castiel's my little bro."
Dean went green.
"Stepbrother," Sam added in a hurry, giving Dean his very best "I'm not that much of a pervert, I promise" puppy-dog eyes.
Castiel had been largely unreadable for the most part, but the amused twist of his lips at Sam's panic, however brief, showed there was something human hidden under that otherwise impenetrable surface.
"Huh," said Dean. "Guess we've got a pianist."
Gabriel snorted, hiding his face in his shirt sleeve.
"Pianist. Not penis, you douche."
As it turned out, Castiel had a weird habit of fitting in while remaining completely out of place at the same time; it was hard to explain, but even though he was different, he was an approachable sort of different. He seemed to live in his own world but he never objected to letting others into it.
Maybe it was a dick move of Dean to hover around Castiel, all things considered he knew Castiel was Sam's boyfriend, but given Sam already had Gabriel that was just greed on Sam's part. Sure, he had offered to share Gabriel on more than one occasion, but Gabriel liked to play favourites and had talked far too loudly far too often about Sam's cock for Dean's liking. It wasn't that he had any doubts about the size of his own cock, just that there were areas where he didn't mind being compared to Sam, and others where he really, really did.
Castiel, on the other hand, was still something of a mystery. Between the lack of eye contact, the impressive musical talent, and the fact he seemed mostly sane despite having Gabriel for a stepbrother, Castiel kept being interesting, and Dean had always been a sucker for interesting.
Sam thought Castiel was just the natural outcome of an unfortunate acid trip, but Gabriel had brushed off that thought with a "No, he's always been that way". No one could decide if that made it better or worse.
He'd known Castiel all of a week when he walked in on him in the storage room, keyboard plugged in but not switched on, tapping away as if caught up in his own thoughts.
"You know, those work better when it's turned on."
"They're," Castiel said.
"Those work better when they're turned on."
"That's what I said."
"No," Castiel replied. "It isn't." He looked up from the keyboard, focusing on the joint in Dean's hand after offering only the briefest glimpse of actual eye contact. "May I?"
Dean handed the joint over, sat down next to Castiel on the bench and leant forward so he had an excuse to cross his arms in his lap, hiding the lazy arousal brought on by watching Castiel smoke. It was the cupid bow, he'd decided. The exaggerated little cupid bow, particularly of his top lip, making him look kind of like a kitten when his lips were slightly parted. A really sexy kitten.
What the fuck had he been smoking?
He took the joint back.
"Why d'you never look at anyone?" Dean asked, pressing the power button on the keyboard and listening to Castiel play, the tune gorgeous and weirdly familiar though he couldn't place it.
"I try not to stare," Castiel said, blank expression faltering slightly at the edges, something uncertain coming through. "Gabriel says I stare too much."
Castiel looked up from the keyboard again and, okay, that was definitely a stare, wide eyes and a steady focus coming across a little too intense.
That lazy arousal was threatening to take on an air of urgency. "So. Uh. What are you playing?"
Dean blinked. "Seriously?" He opted against adding, but you actually sound good.
"I thought it needed work," Castiel said. "I've been trying different variations, but I think I've almost got it."
"You did that with The Sacrifice?"
"I liked the lyrics. I didn't want you to scrap it."
Dean was the lead singer and lyricist of a reasonably popular band. He was used to being a smart ass and getting what he wanted. He wasn't used to being speechless and floundering like an idiot.
Not until Castiel came along and screwed everything up, anyway.
"Dean, are you staring?"
"Yeah," Dean cleared his throat. "Guess that makes two of us."
Dean shouldn't have felt surprised when Castiel opted to continue staring as Dean kissed him, but he kept his own eyes mostly shut - at least, until Castiel kissed him back, slowly and carefully, like he was trying kissing out for the first time. He couldn't help but close them tight after that, raising a hand up and resting it against Castiel's neck when there was no flinch.
Castiel let out a quiet, breathy not-quite-moan when he pulled back from the kiss, and it was the hottest, least self-conscious sound Dean had ever heard.
"I should break up with Sam," Castiel said, kissing Dean once more before standing up and walking off.
Dean stared blankly at the door for a bit after it closed, then back at the keyboard, and wondered what the hell had just happened.
"Dad's started bugging me about the new album," Gabriel announced over breakfast, pouring strawberry syrup onto his pancake stack until it was fairer to call it syrup-with-pancakes rather than pancakes-with-syrup. "We should probably think about doing some actual work. He's getting bossy."
"Can't Cas calm him down a bit?" Sam asked quickly, before Dean could start ranting as to who at the table had been working their asses off while others coasted along happily on a reasonable amount of drumming skill and an inhuman ability to procure weed at any hour of the morning.
"Wouldn't do any good," Gabriel said, putting down the half-emptied syrup bottle. "I'm the favourite."
"Now, Gabe, I'm sure that's not -" Sam began in his best unintentionally patronising apologetic tone, before Castiel cut him off.
"Actually, he is."
"Look, we've got three weeks and three talented musicians, we can do this," Gabriel said, carving into his pancake stack, the resulting squelch at once faintly nauseating and weirdly inviting.
"Three?" Dean asked, raising an eyebrow.
"Guitar doesn't count," Gabriel replied, Sam shoving his face into the pancake stack as a thank you for the statement. "S'true," he garbled around a well earned face full of food.
"I'm taking not-the-favourite for a walk," Dean muttered, extending a hand to Castiel. "C'mon. At least you try to work once in a while."
"I need to talk to Sam," Castiel said, staring at Dean's hand guiltily, and Dean withdrew it, huffed.
"Okay, leave me to write the whole damn album," Dean snapped, storming out and leaving the threesome to their own devices.
The effect was slightly lessened when he had to return for his jacket, keys, notepad and pen, but he'd still made a point, damn it.
Anger was good for a song or two, though he had to scrap the third as it sounded a lot less like their usual fare and a lot more like death metal.
Good death metal, but even so.
"Strung Up?" Sam asked, expression wary as he took the lyrics from Dean's hand. "You, er, got something on your mind?"
"Screw you," Dean replied affectionately, the anger comfortably out of his system and on paper instead. "It's good though, right?"
"If by 'good' you mean 'makes me really uncomfortable', yeah," Sam said, his slightly off-kilter smile making Dean grin in return.
"Where's Gabe and Cas?"
"Gabe's practising Babel, Cas is -" Sam scrunched his nose. "Huh. I don't actually know."
"So they're really stepbrothers?" Dean asked, folding his arms on the table and resting his chin on them.
"Really can't decide if that's kinky or gross," he said, pondering it for the hundredth time that week. "D'you think we could write a song -"
"No. No. And - no." Sam looked outright horrified at the idea, despite his being the one who'd brought both of them home for a threesome in the first place. "Besides, we're not Rammstein."
"You're just upset Gabe won't wear knee-highs while you oil him up," Dean said, laughing.
Dean stopped laughing when Sam maintained the dead-pan expression. That was a shade too much information, even for him.
Castiel's whereabouts remained a mystery until long after everyone headed to bed, and made themselves known in a pretty startling manner.
Dean had woken up with a jolt enough times before courtesy of prank wars with Sam descending into evil affairs where things were put in beds or applied to faces that did not belong, but it was still weird to wake to Castiel leaning over him and staring.
"What?" Dean asked after a moment, given Castiel seemed content to keep staring without saying anything.
"I know you hate covers," Castiel said, "But I think I've found something we should look at."
"What time is it?"
Castiel seemed offended by the very idea of time existing, took out his mobile and checked. "Four thirty."
"Please tell me that's in the afternoon."
"Come and listen," Castiel said. "I think this could really work for us."
"Sleep works for me," Dean said, rolling over. "Tell me in the morning."
"I might forget," Castiel said, sounding concerned. "We should do this now."
"Write it down," Dean huffed, hugging his pillow and waiting for Castiel to go away.
"I hadn't thought of that," Castiel said, sheepishly.
Dean tried to be angry, he really did, but giggles had a way of fighting off any other emotions or attempts to apply common sense. "'Night, Cas."
Dean opted against outing his early-morning stalker to Sam at breakfast, though at least he now understood why Castiel occasionally looked as if he hadn't slept in days. Chances were he actually hadn't. "So," Dean said, pleased he had the opportunity to show off Castiel's skills in front of the others. "Anyone had any more ideas for the album?"
Castiel tilted his head, before pulling out a battered scrap of paper from his jeans' pocket. "I thought we could do a Gary Numan cover," he suggested, flattening out the paper on the table, scribbled alterations to lyrics and some sort of weird code dotted all over the page that Dean hoped translated to musical notes rather than serial killer diary entries.
"Isn't that kind of eighties?" Gabriel asked, leaning across and looking at Castiel's writing. "Huh."
"Good huh or bad huh?" Dean asked in turn, trying to hide his instinctive urge to defend Castiel but unable to stop himself tensing his jaw.
"Good," Gabriel said, scooping a pile of sugar-dusted blueberries into his mouth. "Think you could be onto something, little bro."
"Do I have to do a guitar solo?" Sam asked. "If not, I'm all for it."
Castiel wasn't the only group member to have kept busy, Sam and Gabriel dragging him and Dean into the storage room before setting up the drum kit and bass, looking entirely too pleased with themselves.
"Cas, d'you need the keyboard on?"
"Not at the moment -"
"Turn it off then," Gabriel said, waving a finger in the air. "Keep that carbon footprint down."
Dean hadn't known Castiel could roll his eyes, that wry sense of humour sneaking through as he walked over to switch off the keyboard. Dean couldn't quite resist watching him bend over, the curve of his ass utterly delicious in jeans that hugged it in just the right way.
"Oh," Castiel added quietly as he returned and sat down next to Dean. "While I remember. I split up with Sam."
"Cool," Dean replied, fighting the blush that suddenly and violently threatened to tinge his cheeks, wishing Castiel had chosen a time where he could actually talk back to him to spring that particular statement instead of announcing it while Gabriel and Sam were preparing to perform.
"Hold up," Gabriel said, shifting in his seat. "Okay, we're good."
Sam started first, a slow, steady rhythm that Gabriel's drumming added a certain weight to, before stopping altogether. "Hold on. Who's singing?"
Dean applied his palm to his face with the distinct feeling it would be staying there for some time.
Once they finally got themselves in order enough to actually perform, Dean had to hand it to Gabriel and Sam - they really had something going for them. Any song where he was fighting an urge to clap along by the end deserved recognition, and he applauded their efforts regardless of the initial screw ups. Castiel applauded too, though he didn't copy Dean in adding a "Woo!".
Sam's grin in response was completely goofy, an embarrassed, lop-sided thing. He'd never really got the hang of taking a compliment, which had the amusing - for Dean, anyway - side effect of leading fangirls to call him "the cute one".
The six foot plus "cute one". There weren't many other bands who could claim that.
Or any, come to think of it.
"Fuck yeah," Gabriel said, arms in the air. "Team shibby for the win!"
Even Sam stared at that one.
"Oh, come on. You've all seen Dude, Where's My Car?" He allowed a split second of silence, then stood up. "Oh, we are fixing that now."
"Never thought I'd say this," Dean said, post-movie and skipping to the Jesse and Chester kiss a second time just to confirm they had all actually watched that happen, "But Gabe, I love you."
"You can thank me later," Gabriel said, climbing to his feet and stretching, looking even more smug and self-satisfied than he had post-performance with Sam. "But first, I'm going to screw your brother into the mattress."
"Thanks for that," Dean muttered. "Really."
Sam cuffed Gabriel around the back of the head but still near sprang off the sofa to race Gabriel to the bedroom.
Dean suspected Castiel had been counting down the seconds to their leaving the room given he immediately slumped against Dean's shoulder, cheek warm through the thin material of Dean's t-shirt, and made no complaints when Dean wrapped an arm around his waist.
"I had a dream about you last night," Castiel said after a few minutes of watching the TV in surprisingly comfortable silence.
"You had tentacles," Castiel continued. "I was fighting you."
"Hm." Dean turned the TV off and tossed the remote to the floor, frowned when one of Gabriel's less subtle moans escaped the confines of his and Sam's bedroom.
"And I lost, and you took my hands and feet in them, and you ripped off my clothes."
"Sorry, man," Dean replied, half asleep, before actually processing what Castiel had said. "What?"
"You ripped off my clothes -" Castiel settled his hand on Dean's thigh, not moving it yet. "- and you fucked me, and you wouldn't let me come."
Dean's sleepiness faded, and he dropped his own hand from Castiel's waist to his hip, breath catching when he glanced down to find Castiel hard. "Cas?"
"I don't know what to ask you," Castiel said, looking the closest to uncertain Dean had ever seen him.
In hindsight, it would have been good to say "Well, don't", or "You don't have to". Something smart.
"God, yeah," was hardly poetic, but it seemed to do the trick, Castiel shifting to sit in his lap and kissing him, open-mouthed and wet and messy this time, nothing of the uncertainty from their first kiss present any more.
"Dean," Castiel said, sliding his hand down between them and squeezing Dean's crotch. "I want to make you come."
Dean absolutely did not whimper. "How the fuck did I deserve you?"
"Do I," Castiel corrected, before biting Dean's ear.
It said something about Castiel that even when Sam and Gabriel started up their erection-killing chorus of exaggerated groans next door, Dean's attention was still focused solely on the slow turn of heavy breathing into a quiet but desperate litany of "Please", "Dean", and "Let me -".
He'd never really understood the concept of a 'crime of passion' before, but if anyone had interrupted him in the middle of trying to answer Castiel's requests, he would probably have ripped their arms off.
"Dean," Castiel murmured a few moments after he finally did come, half asleep despite being sticky, Dean not faring any better and figuring Sam deserved to walk in on them given what he'd been made to suffer in the past, "We need a drum solo."
Dean decided not to ask, pressed a kiss into the sweat-damp hollow of Castiel's neck instead before tilting his head to the side so he wouldn't suffocate on Castiel's skin in his sleep, even if the idea did hold some appeal.
Dean woke up to a miserable-looking Sam saying "Why?", tossing a blanket over his and Castiel's half-naked bodies, and couldn't resist grinning like an idiot before drifting back to sleep for another few minutes.
The smell of bacon cooking was a better wake-up call, both for him and Castiel, though actually getting up off the sofa was an effort. Dean had a knack for sleeping anywhere in any position, but it didn't mean waking up from weird places and positions was easy.
Even so, with Castiel's morning-after hair and morning-after smile and morning-after everything to look at, he couldn't really complain.
"Stop grinning," Sam grumbled as he served up overdone bacon and overdone eggs, just the way Dean liked them, though Castiel seemed a little wary and opted to play it safe by picking from the pile of not quite so burned toast. "You look like an idiot."
"Your face is an idiot," Dean said, still grinning, occasionally glancing over at Castiel just to double check that yes, he was still there, and yes, he did have a slight red line on his neck where Dean had accidentally scratched him before licking it better -
"Dude," Sam said. "Seriously. Stop it."
"It is kind of creepy," Gabriel added.
Dean didn't really care, but made an effort to look down at his plate instead for a little while; he wondered if bacon had ever tasted that good before to anyone in the world, ever. He doubted it. Other people weren't having post-sex-with-Castiel bacon.
"So," Gabriel continued. "When are we going to be stuck with an ode to Castiel's perfectness?"
"Gabe, don't," Sam muttered.
"We're not," Dean assured him. "I can't write anything romantic worth shit."
"Point made and proven," Gabriel said, sounding comforted.
Dean considered letting it go entirely, but couldn't resist sliding a hand into Castiel's jeans' pocket, loving the way it made him sit up straight in an instant. "We'll save that for the next album after I've had practise."
Gabriel gagged, and Dean took it as a sign of Castiel's good influence that he didn't feel any need to smack him in retaliation. Kissing Castiel deeply was much, much better revenge.
"I hate everyone," Sam groaned.
"Hey," Dean warned, wishing he'd had the foresight to kiss Castiel after brushing his teeth rather than before, "We're only halfway done on this album. Don't make me threaten you with a power ballad."
And as if the day wasn't perfect enough already, Sam shut up.