A/N: First off, thanks a lot for the positive feedback and all the follows! Keep it up, you guys are great! Anyway, sorry about the delay on the second chapter, I know I've psyched everyone up for it, I've just been a bit distracted by Comic-Con (who hasn't?).
Good news is I've already begun chapter three! I also apologize if this seems sort of short, but I just needed to get in some of our new characters before introducing some of the most important people.. ya feel? Again, thanks for reading, reviewing, and always feel free to tell me what you think!
At around six in the morning, Castiel's phone rang again. He's not sure how many times it actually rang, but it woke him up. He groaned audibly, wondering what on God's earth it was this time. He picked up the small, silver device and observed three missed calls before answering.
"Hello?" His voice was husky, and lower than usual. He cleared his throat.
"Cassie! I've been calling forever." Gabriel whined on the other end. The poor soul, Cas thought sourly.
"I can tell." He said, wondering why would Gabe get him up this damn early.
"Well, you don't want to be late to your first day on the job. Bad impression and all. So get your butt down here." Gabriel asserted, and Cas heard an audible click, meaning he hung up. Right, the job.
Somehow, Castiel found his way downstairs and into the kitchen, following the sweet scent of batter and bacon with eyes opened to slits. To him, getting up at six was unreasonable, especially when Gabriel had promised not to put him on the morning show. He wandered into the kitchen slowly, wearing only a grey t shirt and dark blue boxers, to find his brother flipping pancakes and bacon in separate pans on the stove. Cas might've not been a morning person, but he was definitely a breakfast person. He walked over to where Gabe kept a plate beside the stove, holding a high stack of pancakes and a pile of bacon. He plucked up one of the strips of bacon, just avoiding the slap of his brother's hand.
"Hey! I'm not done yet, you goof." he scolded, but Cas just rolled his eyes and took a bite of his bacon.
"Why did you wake me up so early?" Cas crossed to the coffee pot, taking down one of the brown mugs from the cabinet and pouring himself a generous amount of beloved dark liquid. He dumped two tablespoons of sugar into it, but left it black, going to take a seat at the table.
"Well, there's a lot more to radio than just showing up. There's a lot of technical stuff, plus you have to meet the boss. Gotta have approval before you can air. But, you should be good since I played him a recording." he replied, turning off the stove and coming to join Cas at the table with the tower of pancakes and bacon.
Castiel nearly spit his coffee. A recording? Since when did Gabriel have a recording?! He choked down his drink, wiping his mouth with his napkin, and blurted, "What the fuck? A recording? What recording?"
Gabriel smirked and forked three pancakes onto his plate. "I may or may not have recorded you on your last birthday..." he replied, and Cas covered his face with his hands and groaned. Last year on his twenty-second birthday, Gabriel had gotten him royally drunk and invited their cousin Balthazar and Castiel's friend Meg. Oh, he had a great time, but Lord knows what he said after he blacked out. Drunken words are sober thoughts, Cas reminded himself, but it only made him feel worse.
"Don't be so dramatic." Gabriel said. "God, I mean, the only time you ever say anything entertaining is when you're drunk, so why not?" He drenched his pancakes in maple syrup, making Cas' stomach growl despite the dropping feeling. He was hungry, sure, but he did not want to be at this table anymore. He piled about six pancakes onto his plate, alongside several pieces of bacon. He grabbed one of the syrup bottles and put it under his arm, grabbed his coffee, and hurried toward the front stairs, calling, "I'll be ready in an hour!"
Gabe didn't reply, just rolled his eyes and thought about how strange his little brother is. He shrugged and speared a few more pancakes onto his fork, thinking that his brother's loss was his gain.
Cas sat in his queen-sized bed, legs folded indian style, plate on the bed in front of him. He ate slowly, sorting through his emails on his dinosaur of a laptop. Everyone always told him to get a new one, and he probably should, but this computer has been loyal all these years, it's just too hard to give it up. Plus, this thing stored all his files, all his pictures and drabbles of literacy, his music. And although starting it up sounded like brewing a pot of coffee, he still liked the old thing. Old Faithful, he called it.
How is he going to survive today? He's asked himself this question many days. His first date, his valedictorian speech, his most recent hospital stay. He knows he asks himself this a lot, but he finds that every time he does, he survives. Like a strange habit, he asks this of himself and always finds a solution. But today is different, somehow. It's not his first job, but it's the first job where he must rely on his personality to keep it. Gabe always says how Cas has wit, but does he really think his little brother can do this? He must, right? But if he's going off of something Gabe recorded him saying when he was wasted, he just might be screwed.
"Whoa, little bro! Trying to make a good first impression?" Gabriel exclaimed as Cas joined him in the foyer as he was pulling his jacket on. Castiel went red, pushing his hands into his pockets and staring at the floor. He was dressed casually, he thought, in a grey button-up and dark brown jacket with silver buttons on the pockets, jeans, and his favorite black high-tops. Gabriel stepped forward and fluffed his little brother's hair with one hand. "Ya look great."
Cas did his best to swat his brother's hand away, muttering a "Can we go now?"
Gabe grabbed his keys off the row of hooks next to the door, opening it and motioning with one hand for Castiel to go ahead. Cas walked out and snickered, as he always did, at his brother's choice of rides. Climbing into the red BMW M3 convertible made him giggle even more, and his brother's stricken expression hand him in a fit of laughter by the time Gabriel started the engine. "Laugh all you want," Gabe nagged, "but chicks dig it."
By the time the two brothers reached downtown, Castiel could barely look at Gabe with a straight face. It may be the nerves, but Cas had a certain giddiness to him, an excitement that drove him insane. When Cas thought of meeting Dean, it only made him worse. His palms sweated, and he wiped his hands on his jeans. He was chewing his lip, obsessing over his hair, and he was jumpier than a drop of water on a hot griddle. God, why was this so stressful?
He was just going through the motions, he discovered, because when Gabriel parked in the garage behind the building that held the studio, he felt dread sweeping over him.
"Castiel," Cas jumped around in his seat to face his older brother, who looked a bit concerned. "It's go-time, I want you on your a-game. Understood?" Castiel nodded. "Best behavior, brightest wit, don't be afraid to turn on the charm!" Cas smirked at his brother's cheesy pep-talk, appreciating the effort. "That's the spirit." Gabe pointed toward his little brother's half-smile and smirked himself. "Now, c'mon." He threw his door open and stepped out, reminding Cas not to leave anything in the car that he wanted to keep.
Gabriel led Cas into an elevator and down two floors, around several hallways and one flight of stairs, and there they were. Two girls hurried past them carrying coffees in each hand, and Gabe appropriated two from one girl with a wink. He handed one to Castiel, who gulped his with great fervor, his nerves settling back in. But he kept up the charm, smiling at his older brother and leading the way through the doorway to the main studio.
He wasn't paying attention, apparently, too caught up in his act to realize before running into a very tall, very muscular man. The collision knocked Castiel backwards, but thankfully his brother caught him with a hand on his back before he landed on his bottom.
"Whoa, sorry, hey." the man stuttered, reaching a hand toward the brunet. "Sam."
Cas smiled and shook his hand, saying, "Castiel. I've heard a lot about you." He sneaked a glance at his brother, who was eyeing him with concern.
"And I've heard much about you, Castiel." It was almost embarrassing how much shorter Cas was compared to Sam, but he held his bravado as the tall man turned to Gabriel and hugged him with just a pat on the back.
"Cassie, this is our sound guy, Sam. Lazy, always late, one hell of a guy. Ah, what you up to?" Gabe asked, as if seeing Sam in the studio before recording hours was a phenomenon. Cas tilted his head at the guy, who turned to walk back toward the hallway.
"Actually, really busy with setting up for our new guy here. Mic, monitor, all that." he explained, clapping Gabe on the shoulder before starting back down the hall. "In the studio at nine!" was the final call as he disappeared around the corner.
"Now, why don't you let me lead the way? Sheesh." Gabe said, stalking off in the direction. Cas trotted up behind him, making pace with his brother's long strides.
"Where are we headed to?" Cas asked, looking around the place and relying on his brother not to lead him into any more people. The walls were mainly royal blue, the floors a knotted pine plank. People passed them in the hall, more people than Cas thought necessary to produce a radio show, and of the few doorways, not one was open. Gabriel led his brother into a small, square waiting room with comfortable-looking black chairs and silver accents. A woman that looked about twenty was seated behind a high silver counter, and when she looked up from her desk to see Gabriel, she smiled. She was blonde, with long, wavy hair and brown eyes that lit up when she smiled. Her skin was very porcelain-like, but her face had a friendly warmth to it, especially when she smiled.
"Jo, I've gotta see the bossman." Gabe demanded playfully, and Cas decided he liked this Jo girl as she let out a half-hearted laugh, quite similar to what would accompany eye-rolling.
"Sure thing. Is that our new guy?" she asked, peering around Gabe to get a view of Cas, who nodded at her once and smirked.
"Yeah, this is my little brother, uh, Cas, this is Jo Harvelle, secretary extraordinaire." Gabe joked, motioning toward the young woman.
"Oh, great to finally meet you." she said, nodding slowly, making her hair sway. She stared for a moment before snapping back into a business set of mind. She handed a folded piece of paper to Gabriel, and gestured toward one of the two wooden doors in the room. "He's expecting the both of you."
"Great." Gabe pushed his little brother along toward the door, who knocked before entering.
"Oh, Castiel, I've heard a lot about you." The middle aged man behind the large desk said fondly. Who hasn't? Cas wondered, suddenly fearful of what Gabriel has told everyone here. The bossman, as Gabe called him, stood up and offered a hand out to Castiel, who politely shook it and took one of the two matching seats in front of the desk. "Good to finally have you in the studio. Name's Crowley, but you can call me Mr. Crowley, Crow, Bossman, whatever suits you." he says, waving his hand in a very 'etcetera' gesture, as if he's been through this many times before. Gabriel nods, smirking. He's surely been through this before, and knows something Castiel doesn't.
"Thank you, for this opportunity, sir." Castiel gets in before the man continues.
"We have almost no formality here, wear what you want, come in early, call names, have fun. We're quite the hellions here, our only rules are don't be late, and try not to say anything on air that you wouldn't want your children to hear, okay?" Crowley runs through this as if it's a time-old speech he's all too accustomed to giving, moving around the room, lifting papers and boxes and opening drawers. "And, I must say, your recording shows a lot of promise, you're quite the wisecrack-"
"About the recording," Cas breaks in, but that doesn't disturb the man's movements around his office. "Can we hear that again?"
"I am working... on it... Ah-hah!" Crowley exclaims, pulling a small, black digital recorder from somewhere in his desk. He sits back down and sets it on the desk in front of him. "Found it." he says to Gabriel, who might've thought that he'd lost it. He cracks a smile and presses play while Castiel steels himself for whatever drunken blurb that was about to come out of the recorder.
"That... was awful." Cas almost groaned, covering his closed eyes with one hand and holding his coffee cup in the other. He thought that if there were any greater opportunity for him to have a migraine, he might not survive today after all.
"Oh, c'mon, it was great! Crow loves you!" Gabriel encouraged, but Cas just shut his eyes tighter and took a controlled sip of coffee. They sat at a table in the breakroom, Gabriel congratulating Castiel on his morning, and Cas feeling as if he might need to leave. The things he'd said, although witty and slightly entertaining, were barely him at all. How was he supposed to carry on like that, pretending into a microphone that he was another one of the 'wise-cracking bastards' on the radio? Gabe had tried to reassure him that they'd cut him some slack on his first day, and as long as he could take a joke, he'd be fine. But, Castiel still dreaded nine o'clock, when he'd be hooked up with headphones like the rest, given a seat at the broadcasting table, and basically pushed into the spotlight.
"I- I'd rather not talk about it." Cas quipped, and Gabriel went quiet with his pep-talk. Cas hadn't even started day one and he felt drained. What a job this was turning out to be.
At nine sharp, the two boys made their way into the main recording studio, where Sam was waiting in the recording booth, leisurely reclined in one of the office chairs in front of a sound board, scrolling through his phone. Gabe went over and knocked on the glass, making Sam jump. He laughed and looked up, motioned for Cas and Gabriel to come on in.
"Okay," he said, straightening up in his seat. "All we have to do is calibrate the new mic, adjust the broadcasting, and do some techy, nerdy stuff you wouldn't understand." Gabriel clapped him on the back and went to take a seat on the other side of the large table, right across from Sam. There were three more where Gabe's came from, all lined up in a row and each sporting their own mic, monitor, and keyboard. A pair of headphones hung from each mic, and Cas followed Gabriel's motions, taking the ones off the mic closest to the window (and one seat down from Gabe), and putting them over his ears. Sam did the same, and as he flipped a switch on his main sound board, the song Highway To Hell began blasting in his ears, which made him jump. Gabe chuckled and Sam apologized, flipping another few switches until all he could hear was Gabriel's laughter into the other mic. He laughed himself, testing his own microphone. The sound that filled his ears was his laughter competing with an annoying amount of feedback. He took the headphones off quickly, giving Sam a glare.
"Ca-il-bration." Sam sounded out, smiling. He took his hand and pulled a few switches downward, and Cas hesitantly restored the headphones to his ears. This time, they were silent. "Say something," Sam suggested into his microphone, and Cas nodded.
"Testing, testing, three, two, one." He said, the volume of his voice in his ears changing as Sam fiddled with the controls, straight faced and concentrated.
"Good, good. Another thing you can do is your name, birth month, state of origin, things like that. Anything that's familiar to you, we just need you saying different syllables..." Sam trailed off, turning a dial.
"Castiel, January, Massachusetts. Three, two, one. One, two, three." he spoke directly into the microphone like Gabe told him to, keeping his eyes on Sam. "Good?" he asked, raising his eyebrows. Sam smiled.
"Yeah, I think we got you." Sam checked his watch. "Dean and Charlie should be here soon, if you guys just wanna hang out here."
"Nah, I've still gotta introduce Cassie around. Thanks for the offer, man, but if he's gonna make it around here, he's gotta know a few." Gabriel interrupted, hanging his headphones on his mic before standing up. He motioned for Cas to follow as he nodded once at Sam and walked out the door. Castiel took off his headphones and stood slowly, shooting Sam a quiet Nice to meet you, before following after his brother. Sam just nodded and threaded his fingers together, propping his elbows on the table and setting his head on his hands. He stared out the window as Cas left, feeling awkward about his brother's sudden disinterest.
"The hell was that? I wanted to stay." Cas complained in a low voice to Gabe as they walked all too quickly down the hallway that connected the studio and break room to the offices.
As they came out into the small, main lobby Gabriel turned to him and explained very, very quietly, "Listen, tell a soul and you're dead, but this is my way to keep Sam... interested. Leaving and interrupting and sometimes being a dick, that's called being hard to get." He placed a hand on Cas' shoulder, waving his other hand about as he talked. "And I like being very, very hard to get. So don't get in the way, okay?" He pulled away and raised his hands in the air, shrugging in a very noncommittal gesture. "It's all in the game." He said at a normal volume, and it could've sounded to anyone standing around that he and Gabriel had just had a talk about work, or anything. At first Castiel wore his usual concentrated, brow-knitted countenance that came when his brother talked about these things, but he quickly broke into a wide grin.
"You like him!" Cas teased, and Gabriel's face fell for a moment before he recovered his bravado, rolling his eyes and turning away from his brother.
"Yeah, no... well, maybe.. but you shut your mouth, you hear- Charlie!" He exclaimed as a small redhead sporting long hair and white can headphones walked through the door, eyes fixated on her phone, which was connected to the headphones by a thin wire. Gabe rushed the girl and almost took her down with one of his bear hugs, making her drop her phone, which was thankfully saved by the headphone wire. She squealed and he released her so she could pull her phone back up and pull her headphones onto her neck.
"Gabriel Bennett, you almost owed me a new phone!" She scolded, but threw her arms around Gabe's neck anyway. He hugged her back briefly before she spotted Castiel over his shoulder, a sheepish smile still lingering on his face from earlier. Her brown eyes lit up in the most charming of ways as she pushed past Gabe to confront the new co-worker.
"Oh, you must be the new guy!" She mused with all the excitement of a kindergartner meeting their new classmate. Her enthusiasm was actually kind of adorable, that is, until she surged forward and wrapped one arm around his neck and one around his waist, trapping him in an almost bone-crushing embrace. Cas' arms flew up to keep him from falling backwards, and he awkwardly patted Charlie's back before she released him. "I'm Charlie, which you know, and you're..?"
"Castiel." Gabriel piped up, and bless him, because Cas was looking dumbstruck. He wasn't used to all this physical contact, having spent most of the past few days in the comfort of his own room or the small library. He stared down at the redhead, wondering if everyone in this building was as physical as they came on to be. He hoped not. But, deep down, he secretly wondered if Dean would come onto him in a rush, with hugs and wisecracks and guffaws, and he blushed red hot with the realization that he hoped that would happen.