1st October, 1928
The stage of the C.P was busy with the small group of hopeful actors, no more than twelve of them, as they filed into their seats across the back of the stage. From his place in the stalls, Crowley consulted his list.
"Oh goody…" He rolled his eyes, before taking a puff on his cigar. "A bunch of unknowns who all want to be leading lady. I can barely contain my excitement."
"It could be worse." Gabriel shrugged. "They could be unknowns who didn't want to be leading lady; then we'd be really stuck." He smirked at Crowley's exasperated sigh, before returning his attention to the stage. They'd shut down the theatre for a while, hoping to reopen with Rachael's play. They had decided to take the production slowly on this one, given that everyone had lives and most had second jobs to keep up. Today, however, was the casting.
"Hey." Sam cleared his throat, flapping aside Crowley's cigar smoke. "Does number five look familiar to you?"
"Well, well…" Crowley's eyes glinted with malice. "Number five, could you step forward, please?"
The sullen, scowling actress stepped forward reluctantly, before fixing them with her largest, most insincere smile.
"Hello, Mr Crowley! I'm back!"
"Yes you are, you treacherous moll." Crowley reclined as much as the chair would allow, crossing one leg over the other. Gabriel, conversely, leant forward, resting his elbows on the back of the seat in front of him. Both of them watched her with almost territorial glares.
"Meg! Dear old Meg, it's been so long." Crowley gave a slow, hollow grin, enjoying watching the turncoat squirm. "Did New York not work out for you?"
"I'm sure I don't know what you mean." Meg's eyes were steely, even if her smile didn't falter. "Can't a gal come back to one of the finest up-and-coming theatres in the country? I had a lot of fun here, I heard you were looking for actresses…"
"And you'd gotten bored of whoring yourself around Broadway." Crowley finished, his eyes glinting maliciously. "No."
"I'm sure you are," Gabriel cut in, smirking, "but you're also far too tall. And your look is all wrong, the lead in this is feminine, graceful, bright, caring… I'm sorry Meg, you're all wrong for the part. You may leave."
"What?" Meg's cheeks flushed with anger. "You can't… that's… I'm…"
"Thank you." Crowley had already crumpled up her resume and thrown it over his shoulder. "The door's just over there, offstage to your right."
Meg blustered a bit more, before making a weird, screechy huff noise and storming off. Gabriel and Crowley snickered to themselves.
"You're both evil." Sam shook his head, despairing.
"I'm serving out justice." Gabriel intoned, looking on Sam with an expression that could almost be offended if he wasn't fighting back another wicked smirk. "Giving her exactly what she deserves."
"Yes." Crowley agreed, before turning back to the (now slightly terrified) remaining actresses. "I, on the other hand, am just a very cruel man. Number one, could you step forward, please?"
Sam shook his head again, because it wasn't like he could do anything else. He stood up, and started shuffling out of the row.
"Where are you going?" Gabriel seemed to have a sixth sense for Sam trying to sneak off now, which had gotten mildly irritating. Not that Sam didn't want Gabriel to know where he was, but he'd had his father, his brother and now Gabriel all convinced at some point or another that he needed looking after. It was getting old.
"I'm A.S.M, I'm not needed for casting." He grinned. "Going backstage."
"Well, hurry back." Gabriel pouted. "I can't be held responsible for my actions if you leave me alone with this pill." He jerked his thumb towards Crowley, who ignored him.
Sam rolled his eyes and walked down to the stage, hopping up behind the curtain. He didn't listen to the actress as she launched into her audition monologue because hey, all he had to do was tell them where to be and when to be there. He didn't have to know how good they were.
He pulled himself up the ladder to the fly gallery, seeing the little blue light spread across the corner. Eventually, he got to gallery level, and stood up.
"Still painting?" He smiled, looking over at Castiel, who had rolled up his shirt sleeves as he brushed dark strokes onto the panel of white wall.
"I thought I may as well finish it today, so that it will be done by the time rehearsals begin." He stepped back slightly, looking a little awkward as Sam appraised the mural.
"It's good. It'll look great when it's finished."
"Did you hear what just happened? With Meg?"
Castiel's mouth slowly twitched into a rueful smile, before he regained a more neutral composure.
"I'm sure it was wrong of me to take so much pleasure in it." He turned back to his painting. "I just wish Dean had been here."
When Castiel had moved out of his apartment building, he had not, thankfully, sold the apartment. On his return from New York, he had known that the last place he wanted to live was the family home. It had taken them days to move in all the boxes, but he was finally back where he belonged.
Castiel let himself into his apartment quietly, hanging his coat up on the rack and placing the case that held his art supplies by the door. He kicked off his shoes and wandered through to the kitchen, wondering what he would make for dinner.
14th September, 1928
Dean stared up at the ceiling.
Half of his brain demanded to know just who he thought he was fooling, because it was going to make damn sure he wasn't sleeping tonight. No, no, there was far too much to think about.
He had been told in no uncertain terms that if he wasn't on that train at one, Castiel didn't want to hear from him again. It was ridiculous; Castiel was being ridiculous. There was a lot to sort through and think over; it wasn't all as simple as that.
For instance, where would he stay? The cabin had been sold, and Sam was living with Gabriel now. Dean had no real problems with that, as such; his brother was big enough to make his own mistakes, but that didn't mean Dean would share a house with the two of them. Ellen had moved in with Mr Singer, and Dean had no doubt they'd let him stay, but he didn't want to encroach on them.
He very actively didn't think about the possibility of moving in with Castiel.
If he chose to go back at all. Which he would be within his rights not to.
What about work? Sure, he was out of work now, and he had no obligation to take up the job when the writer finally got his act together… but… little work on Broadway beat steady work at the C.P, right?
Sighing, Dean turned over on the bed, in the vain hope that changing sides would do anything to make him more comfortable or likely to sleep. It didn't.
He could trick himself, lie to himself… he could pretend it wasn't simple, but he knew it was.
If he didn't love Castiel, if he could imagine living without the man who had haunted him night and day since he left, then he shouldn't get on the train.
If he could imagine forgetting all about the man who he liked to pretend he was having a conversation with, who he wrote letters to that he never sent, then he had no reason to get on the train.
He could try and lie that there were other, more complicated, more tangible factors, but he knew it all came down to a simple decision.
Did he want to be a lonely, unemployed Production Manager in New York? Did he want to go back to futzing around and not caring about anyone, or did he want to go back home, to have one last try with a man he really cared about?
It was almost laughably simple when he boiled it all down.
Did he want to be a Production Manager in a town where no one knew him, or did he want to go back home, and be a fly man?
15th September, 1928
Castiel blinked, slowly looking up at the stranger. No, he supposed, as they pulled out of the station, the train already heaving itself forward and gathering momentum. It looked like the seat was free.
1st October, 1928
Castiel sat alone at the lounge table, eating something boring he had thrown together. Lamb cutlets and vegetables, while nice, were hardly anything to write home about. The radio played softly in the background, so softly that it didn't mask the sound of the door opening and closing, as the opener seemed to hope.
"You're late." Castiel stated, continuing to eat.
"I know, I'm sorry…"
"This better not be a habit of yours." Castiel allowed himself a small smile as he teased the other man, who he could hear struggling with his coat and shoes.
"Ha, my sides, how they split. Hey, Cas, I have a suggestion for you." Dean entered the lounge, a sarcastic scowl on his face. "When you don't tell a guy what train carriage you're in, it's not his fault if he has to traipse up and down the whole damn train looking for you."
Castiel's lips twitched into a smile, and he was overjoyed to see Dean lose the ability to scowl. He wandered over, rested his hands on Castiel's shoulders, and leant down to kiss his cheek.
"Carpentry is hard work; it's not my fault if it takes ages."
"I know." Castiel smiled, reaching up to knot his fingers behind Dean's head, effectively trapping them both together.
"If anyone's allowed to be annoyed about the whole train thing, it's me." Dean mumbled into Castiel's cheek, his breath ticking. "You gave up my seat to a perfect stranger. What if he'd wooed you away from me before I'd gotten down to that end of the train?"
Castiel laughed, bringing his hands down so he could turn to face Dean.
"I'd never be happy with anyone else." He smiled, his words whispered over Dean's lips. One year previous to this, neither man would have thought it possible that they could have smiled as blissfully as they did when their lips met, forming a strong, happy, confident promise between them.
When they parted, Dean pressed a quick kiss to Castiel's jaw before standing up.
"So where's mine?"
"In the oven." Castiel smiled, as Dean happily darted off to the kitchen.
Dean had been late, yes. And reluctant. But he had caught the train in the end, and now they had both promised to take each other a lot more seriously. Castiel stood as Dean wandered back in with his own plate, intent on turning the volume up on the radio a little.
Together, Castiel thought, they could hold each other up. Together, they could run the show. And, as Castiel returned to his seat and regaled Dean with the story of Meg's failed audition, he had a feeling that this time, they'd do it right.
December 4th, 1928
The Hollman party filled two boxes. All the better for seeing the twenty-five year old theatre, as far as Castiel was concerned.
"Cas." Dean laughed, nudging his partner. "The stage is that way."
"Yes, but the curtains haven't opened yet, and they're nowhere near as interesting as the chandelier."
"Honestly." Gabriel rolled his eyes, waving at Rachael in the next box. "Bring him all the way out here to watch a play for a change, and he's still fussing over the architecture."
"Leave him alone." Sam smiled, settling back in his chair. "You know that as soon as the show starts, you won't pipe down about how we did it better."
"That's true." Gabriel conceded, flicking through his programme. "Although I have to say, I've been hearing good things about the actress they put in Meg's part… Ruth Etting..."
"Hey." Dean leant in to Castiel, smiling as he whispered. "The C.P's darb compared to this place; you shouldn't bother looking."
"But…" Castiel gazed around the space. "It's beautiful."
"It's generic." Dean grinned. "I've been in a lot of theatres, and I've only seen one that's got a mural of two winged men, standing on a cliff edge and smiling."
"Ah." Castiel smiled, slipping his hand into Dean's. "But that's a secret."
"Then stop talking about it." Balthazar snapped from the next box. Rachael hit Balthazar on the knee.
"Where'd you even get the idea to paint it like that, anyway?" Dean smiled. Castiel shrugged.
"It just... seemed right."
Balthazar, bitter after being shot down by the girl who sold the programmes, pulled a disgusted face as Castiel and Dean gazed at each other.
"Lovely. Now if you two goofs would mind buttoning your lips, the show's starting."
Castiel smiled, as the Hollman party from the C.P theatre clapped with the rest of the audience. As soon as the show begun, his hand slipped back into Deans, and he supposed Balthazar was right.
The show was only just beginning.