No idea if I should, or shall continue this – but I had to write it just to get it out of my head.
Castiel looked out of the back window of the old ford, the road behind them, single lane and dull, stretched backwards all the way to the highway off ramp. All the way back across the state to the little three bedroom house they'd left several hours ago. The radio plays something vaguely cheery, and he catches the occasional lyric '...told my girl we had to break up...call my bluff...'
Out the side window he could see only trees, the verge alongside the road and a fence. The Catskill Mountains in all their summer glory. To his right, Anna was leaning back against the leather seat, carefully, so as not to wrinkle her white summer dress, window rolled up despite the heat to preserve the style to her long red hair. Castiel wriggled on the seat, feeling his shirt sticking to his back, the plain, black pants soaking up the heat from the sun coming through the glass.
The car sped onwards, his parents looking out onto the road in front – the road to Kellerman's, the holiday destination of that season.
Castiel flicked through the pages of his book, trying to soak up the ideals of the monastic protests in Tibet – it was too hot, he could feel the sweat blooming under the cotton of his shirt. Beading under his waistband and the tucked shirt tails, trickling down his skin and into the furrow at the base of his spine, prickling lower. He closes his eyes and tries to relax into the seat.
"They'll be lots of girls at the mixer tonight." His mother chirrups, glancing at him via the rear-view mirror. Her eyebrows and eyes are the only things visible, one set of eyebrows fiercely plucked, the eyes below outlined modestly and shadowed pale gold. The eyes are blue, like his, and fixing him with a pointed look.
He makes a noncommittally expression, returns to the pages of his book.
"Be sure to have fun Castiel." His mother persists. His father casts a fond look his way, reflected in the small rectangle of glass.
"He'll have a great time, won't you son?" Michael rumbles cajolingly. "Take a nice girl out for a round or two on the green, maybe go out on the lake." Beside him, Rachel smiles, appeased by this idea.
Castiel feels sweat gathering under his fingers, dampening the pages as he grips the book in his lap.
"Yes sir." He says with the barest of smiles.
Anna adjusts the strap of her bra, poking it out of sight under her small lace cardigan. The back of the car smells like her perfume, powdery like her skin and the stiff white cotton of her bra, moulding the contours of her breasts into protruding triangles under the dress. She looks like the 'nice girls' he is expected to meet. Though Anna is the only girl he has any real experience of, and obviously he does not find her exciting, though she is attractive, he supposes. She catches him staring and frowns at him, her freak of a brother in the outmoded clothes of his boyhood – shirt and pants nowhere near as fashionable as the golf shirts and slacks of the boys she expects to meet this summer.
She takes out her purse, a small silk pouch, and redoes her lipstick in a small mirror.
They arrive in the middle of the day, boys his own age are meandering on the close cut grass in their shorts and shirts, some in blazers and slacks despite the heat. He can see the far off shimmer of the lake and the blinding white paintwork of the porch that wraps around the three story red brick lodge that serves as the main house. From this far off the girls sitting in the shade there are lace handkerchiefs of dressed figures, their cries bird-like as they greet each other from a distance. Visor and twin set wearing women accompany their husbands and their caddy's towards the distant coloured flags of the golf course.
Castiel gets out of the car and closes the door behind him. The air is fresh at least, the sun beating down as he circles the car and attempts to open the scorching metal of the trunk. John Kellerman himself approaches, seemingly larger than life in his white blazer and espadrilles. Michael greets his most prized patient with a handshake, and a uniformed porter (ushered in by John's outstretched hand) opens the trunk before Castiel gets a chance, removing his parents suitcase, Castiel's own modest case, and Anna's four vanity cases and shoe bags.
Anna herself slides gracefully from the sticky interior of the ford and stands, immaculate and white, beside the porter, smiling softly with her greased, pink, lips. John claps the porter on the back.
"Hurry those up to the cabin Gabriel." John turns back to Michael and Rachel, "Trust me, you're going to have the best vacation of your lives. This season we've got the best entertainments we've have for years."
Michael and Rachel make approving noises. Anna bats her painted lashes at him. Castiel helps with the cases.
He unpacks in his room. Shirts in one drawer, pants in another, shoes at the foot of the bed and books arranged in order of size on the table beside the single bed. The bed is clearly meant for someone younger than himself, it's child sized shape and sheets printed with boats and gulls both seem at odds with a seventeen year old occupant. He wonders briefly what his room at Stanford will be like, when he takes to it in the fall.
Anna's voice drifts through the wall – she has not brought enough outfits, or the shoes that would render her available outfits, 'cute enough'. Castiel sits on the child sized bed and looks at a faded print on the wall – two birds on a branch that has been painted unattached to anything, floating on the square of water colour paper in its gold frame.
Anna's voice rises and he hears the words 'coral shoes'.
Castiel looks at nothing.
By the time it has grown dark and cooler, the lights strung across the main houses porch lit up and visible from their own private lodge in the woods, Castiel has changed into a dark green cardigan style sweater over a clean white shirt and another pair of black pants. He calls in on his parents, who are dressing for dinner at the lodge with Anna, Lucifer and sundry other acquaintances.
"I'm going for a walk." He announces, though it's more of a question, which receives a negative answer.
"John specifically enthused about you meeting his son." His mother chides, smoothing her layers of pale silk summer dress and buttoning her thin cardigan. "Sam's going to Stanford in the fall, it might be nice for you to have a friend." She looks to her husband for support.
"You could do a lot worse." Michael says jovially, straightening his tie. "He seems a solid kind of guy."
Castiel folds to their instruction and changes once more into a jacket and tie.
As a foursome they walk across the darkened lawn, taking the meandering stone path towards the main house. They are greeted by the light of both candles and electric sconces, the sounds of delicate cutlery on china, the tinkling of glass as wine is poured. Castiel takes his seat when it's pulled out for him, unfolding his napkin and spreading it in his lap. Sam sits across the table from him, a clone of his father in a dinner jacket and tie, medium length brown hair hanging in bangs over his eyes. Castiel sips from his water glass and eats his food when it arrives in a neat triad of boiled potato, grilled chicken and green beans.
After dinner he's obliged to meet Sam's fiancé, Jessica, and to take a turn around the dance floor with her friend Megan – a ripe candidate for marriage as foisted on him by strangers. Part way through the ordeal, a dark haired woman and a man slightly taller than himself, take to the floor. Their dancing, a mambo, is much better than anything the holidaying men and women can hope to achieve. Castiel is struck by the woman's graceful movements, the slender curve of her body as he twists to follow the lead of the man. Her partner indeed, shows amazing talent for the dance, focused entirely on her as he lifts and sweeps her around the small space that the other dancers have cleared for this display.
In passing Sam on the floor he pauses, excusing himself from Megan and accosts John's son.
"Who are they?" he asks, the first words he's uttered in genuine interest all evening.
"The dance people." Sam says, frowning at them slightly as they continue to cavort in perfect rhythm. "They're suppose to be entertaining the guests though, not showing off." He catches Castiel's surprised look. "They're here to sell lessons." He explains. He mimes a 'cut it out' gesture at the male and a pair of green eyes glare back before the man breaks from his partner and ropes one of the guests in to engage in a more sedate configuration.
Sam shakes his head to himself.
"That's Dean." He tells Castiel, clearly seeking some sympathy from having to supervise such insolent underlings. "Trouble everywhere he goes – always showing off with Lisa and trying to change the line up for the evening." He sighs. "Takes the inch and goes for the mile. I don't know why my father keeps him on." Jessica comes to his side. "Excuse me Castiel." He smiles at his fiancé and leads her back to the floor.
At the end of the dance, once the band has been applauded, Sam finds Castiel again and asks him, within earshot of his parents, whether he wouldn't mind helping with the evening entertainments.
Under his mother's pleading eyes and his father's cajoling smile he is forced to agree.
So he spends half an house lying sideways and curled up in a box, with just his head protruding, as a middle aged man who smells of cough drops and whisky, pretends to saw him in half. At one point he closes his eyes to the stage lights and the cultured chortling of the audience, feeling the warmth of his body fill the box and the drumming of his own pulse in his temple.
He really wishes he wasn't here. In the box, on stage, at Kellerman's, in the Catskills, in the USA...on the whole planet. From a view point far far from where he is now he can see the spec that is Castiel Novak, a spec on a blot on a patch of green far below space.
In ten years he might well be a successful lawyer, campaigning for the rights of the downtrodden and helpless.
But he will still be just a spec.
After the activities he politely sidesteps an invitation to tour the facility with Sam, claiming fatigue and a need to get some sleep. He's left his parents to drink coffee with Michael, Anna to her flirtations with Lucifer, their waiter, and so he knows the cabin would be empty. He decides he'd rather not return to it in such a quiet state. He doesn't want to think anymore.
He walks without a destination, following the line of the trees until he happens on a woodchip path that does not show the same signs of zealous weeding as the rest. Following it he finds a small sign declaring the area 'Employees Only'. Castiel pauses for a moment, but continues regardless, it's just an area of woodland – surely there's nothing here that really necessitates a divide. He won't go into any buildings, he won't approach anyone.
He wanders for a while longer, enjoying the slight breeze and the silence under the canopy of trees. However his decision not to cause a nuisance to the staff is voided when he is approached suddenly by the short porter from earlier in the day, the man is however, now struggling with an armful of three large watermelons.
"You shouldn't be back here." Gabriel exclaims, he has a puppyish air of panicky remonstration, as if Castiel's presence here will surely be blamed on him for no good reason.
"I was just walking..." Castiel watches him wrangle with the round, bulbous fruit. "Would you like some help with those?"
"No." He denies bravely, as one melon fights to escape his grasp. Castiel takes it from him and Gabriel readjusts his hold on the remaining two. "Seriously, don't...just leave me to it." He looks slyly up at Castiel. "Shouldn't you be greasing wheels back at the main house? Getting in with Sam Kellerman?"
Castiel thrusts the watermelon back into Gabriel's arms, watching the shorter man totter backwards under the weight. Castiel turns as if to leave him to it.
"Wait!" Gabriel struggles the fruit, juggling them awkwardly against his chest. "If you help me with these...you saw nothing ok?" he looks back down the path edgily. "Your parents would kill you...and more importantly, John would kill me."
Castiel takes the melon back in mute acceptance.
Following Gabriel up the steps in the hillside towards the small employee lounge, knocks most of the breath out of him. So by the time they reach the doors and Gabriel careens through them, still laden with fruit, Castiel hasn't got a lot of air left in his lungs, they re-inflate rather suddenly when he gasps on the threshold.
He's never seen anything like this before.
There are so many couples in the one, tiny room. The air smelling like too many bodies pressed together in the latent summer heat as well as cigarette smoke and beer. Each couple is twisted together on the dance floor, the women straddling the thighs of their partners, hands searching under their clothing as they roll their hips seductively. The men gyrate back against them, rubbing and thrusting to the pulse of the music, rapid with drums and loud lyrics.
Castiel stands frozen for a minutes, Gabriel watches him with mild amusement.
"I know, right?" he almost yells over the music. "Can you imagine what the crowd at main house would make of this?" He looks Castiel up and down, nods his head at the unaccompanied women at the edge of the dance floor. "Want to try it?" Castiel shakes his head fiercely, still unable to tear his eyes away from the gyrating couples. Gabriel chuckles under his breath. "C'mon." He leads him through the crowd to the back of the room where the makeshift bar is set up. They deposit their melons and Gabriel hands him a slightly sticky bottle of beer.
For a while Castiel just watches them, these men and women dressed in undershirts, short skirts and enviably tight jeans. He watches them kiss, sharing breath and pressing their foreheads together, immodest bulges at the apex of the men's thighs, pressing into the almost uncovered clefts of the women. This is almost an...an orgy of the kind written of in newspapers under headlines about cults and moral degradation. Under the jazzy lyrics of the song he can hear ferocious whoops and cries of young people luxuriating in their freedom. He spots a coloured woman and a tall white man kissing furiously in the corner, another man openly sucking a bruise into another woman's neck.
He shifts uncertainly, uneasily, feeling like a nervous animal about to bolt.
The double doors fly open and the couple from the dance floor enter. The woman's luxuriant hair is unpinned and flowing freely over her bare shoulders, her bright green dress looking less like a ball gown and more like a whores outfit in this dingy outhouse of a building. The man is more disarrayed, his collar open, bow tie discarded, short unbuttoned to his waist where it's only half tucked into his black pants.
Castiel's eyes are drawn to him now because he looks so at ease, casting off the courtly grace and restrained passion of his dancing for an easy, lazy demeanour. He accepts a half drunk beer from a random dancer, takes a deep drink and turns to pull his partner, Lisa, out onto the floor. They press together openly, his hands on her waist as he raises her arms and writhes against him.
Castiel raises the beer to his lips automatically, swilling the bitter liquid as he watches them. The man, Dean, smiling, sultry and assuming as they rock together, groins and hands and backs and legs working in unison.
"They're good, right?" Gabriel shouts next to him. "That's my cousin." He looks admiringly out at Dean and Lisa. "You'd almost think they were a couple."
"They're not?" Castiel practically has to yell the question.
"No – they just act like it, I guess it's good for business."
Dean dances with Lisa until the climax of the song, then cheers with the rest of the employees and makes his way to the back of the room, searching out a drink. He catches sight of Castiel, frowns and turned to Gabriel.
"You brought him up here? The hell are you thinking?" He says, ignoring Castiel entirely.
"He'll keep quiet about it." Gabriel promises.
"He'll tell Sam and get us all fired." Dean insists.
"No I won't." Castiel puts in. Dean turns on him and glares.
"Better not." He growls with his head on one side.
Castiel flushes under that assessing gaze.
Then Dean does something unexpected, he catches at his hand and draws Castiel away from Gabriel, guiding him to the darker corner of the main floor. Gabriel watches them go with a raised eyebrow, then catches a glimpse of Kali, the hostess, drinking wine alone at the end of the bar.
Castiel goes willingly after Dean, and when the other man turns him and moves them together he only moves a little stiffly, uncertain of this dance, of the intentions to it.
"Will you relax." Dean half laughs, half chides. "Lots of girls in tonight...looking for a rich boy like you..." Dean presses their hips together, hands guiding the sharp jut of Castiel's in a slow, circular grind, raising Castiel's arms to link them behind his neck, drawing them closer. Castiel's lips form a soft 'O' of surprise, parted a little as he struggles to breath past his discomfort. "Give 'em something to look at." Dean murmurs, as if from a great distance. Sweat prickles on Castiel's skin, this time it has nothing to do with the heat. Their hips roll together, moving faster as the song increases tempo, making them exert effort, as Dean's breath chases unevenly over his face, smelling of beer, merging with the scent of his cologne.
Castiel feels, for the first time in all his memory, like a body rather than a mind.
The song ends and Dean moves away, slipping back into the crowd, leaving Castiel to cool off, and steady his racing pulse.