AN: So…I drew this picture, and figured it needed a fic to go with it. It'll be a shorter, light one. Image is linked on my profile.
Posters of diagrams and charts on marine mammals littered the walls of a small, cluttered office with a shuttered window. Several bookcases were overstuffed with books of various sizes, each on marine life and environments. In the midst of it all, sat Castiel Novak, marine biologist. He specialized in marine mammals, and was currently sorting a large collection of whale songs. In the middle of a particularly long note, the chipper sound of Castiel's email alerted him to a new message. He paused what he was doing, expecting a note from Naomi.
Castiel stared in dismay at his computer screen. His brother had sent him yet another photograph and article on a mysterious animal that had been washed ashore. With a sigh, he scratched at his day-old stubble and set to writing his brother a strongly worded letter on whale carcasses. Photographs included.
It was the same thing every day, and he began to dread seeing the name 'Gabriel Novak' attached to an email. Especially when the subject line read 'Unicorn sighting!', 'Mermaids walk amongst us!', or 'Bigfoot and Elvis dining with aliens?!' His older brother had a fascination with sightings of mythical beings and grotesque mutations. And who was Gabriel's go-to guy for debunking and misquoting?
Castiel groaned as he received another email from Gabriel. He wasn't even finished with the most recent! He saved a draft and opened the new message, simply labeled as 'Important!'
Cas! As you know, I got this sweet gig at the Mythos channel! And guess what?! I can get you in on a couple of episodes. Free money for you to sit around and be our resident grumpy water expert. Best part? You get to be yourself! You don't have to pretend that anything's real. They want a skeptic. I told the producers that you'd be perfect. Showed them some of our love letters, and they think you're shoe-in! Isn't that great?!
I already talked to your supervisor, and Naomi says you can take the time off. Something about dolphins not going anywhere. Think of it as a research grant you didn't have to work for. You get to play in the water. I know you like that. There might be sharks. Fish. Lots of fish. Red fish, blue fish, big fish, little fish. Everything is paid for! You just have to sit there and look professional.
I already got your plane ticket. You're meeting us in Scotland! We're wrapping up the episode with Nessie. I just need you to take over where our last expert left off. Stand in front of some old architecture, say stuff about how the Loch Ness Monster doesn't exist. What it would take for her to be alive. The usual the stuff you send me. I have an old email. You could just read that word for word.
Please? Pleasepleasepleaseplease?! Kali left me and said she won't come back! Then she said I was immature and selfish! She was perfect! She's not coming back! I offered her my own paycheck, and she said no! What do I do? She won't talk to me! She won't talk to anyone I know. I'm going crazy out here, and I need a new expert on fish. I promise you'll have fun. Or as much fun as you can have. You don't even have to worry about Balthazar. He forgives you! There won't be any issues. I promise! Please! You gotta help me out! Think of our poor, dead mother! She would want you to help! There is only one answer, and it's YES! I'll see you soon!
All the love in the world for my baby bro,
Castiel glared at the computer screen. He wanted nothing to do with Gabriel's show. Gabriel was the one that got off on being in front of a camera. He had made his entire living off of chasing imaginary monsters and having guest spots on documentaries. He was the crazy kook that related theories and witness stories. But, the audience loved him. Especially the female audience. It was no wonder he managed to snag his own show.
Castiel clicked on the 'reply' button. He wished he could come up with some way to let his brother down nicely, but it was impossible. There was no nice way of saying 'no' without Gabriel actually listening.
I regret to inform you that I will be unable to assist you in your endeavor. Here is a list of reasons as to why it will not work:
1) Our mother is not dead.
2) I have no interest in being on television.
3) I have no interest in being misquoted nor having footage of me edited for your personal gain.
I suggest you see to getting a refund for that ticket as I will not be needing it.
Castiel nodded to himself and sent the email on its way. Now, maybe he could get some actual work done. He still had about fifty sound files of whale songs to catalog before he could start on the dolphins.
A soft knock interrupted him, and he slouched forward, hanging his head. 'Come in,' he called, not meaning it. He gasped as he was pulled from his chair and wrapped in a tight hug. Gold hair filled his vision, and the scent of hair gel and chocolate filled his nose. 'G-Gabriel?!'
Castiel managed to extract himself from Gabriel's hold, and he stared at his brother in disbelief. 'I…I thought you were in Scotland?!' he stuttered. 'Why are you here?!'
'I came to get you,' Gabriel replied.
Gabriel pouted, letting his lip quiver. 'But…Naomi already approved your time off,' he said. 'She says it'll be good for you.'
'She wants to take over my project!' Castiel pointed out. 'She's been looking for any excuse to get me out of the program!'
'It's sounds!' Gabriel whined. 'A bunch of whales moaning and dolphins clicking! It's boring.'
'It's communication, and it's important! It's important to me!' Castiel grabbed Gabriel by the collar and tried to shove him out the door.
'And this is important to me! Cas, you need to get out of this closet,' Gabriel said, bracing himself against the doorjamb. 'I'll get you back in the water. Where you belong. Looking at real fish. I know it's a dumb show, but it can open doors!'
'No one would touch me if I went on something like that. I'd lose all respect,' Castiel said, letting go of Gabriel. Even though Gabriel was shorter, he was the stronger of the two. 'What I'm doing right now is important. Why do you think Naomi wants it for herself?'
'Cas, I was just at your apartment, packing your suitcase. Don't give me that look! I saw your fridge,' Gabriel said. He poked around the bookcases, looking at the books and seashells. 'You can't live off fishsticks.'
'I like fishsticks,' Castiel argued.
'Your cat eats better than you.'
True, he did have a habit of throwing himself so far into his work that he had lost sight of everything else. It was why all his relationships went downhill. It was the reason Balthazar hated him. You could only forget about a date and run off on expeditions at the last second so many times. Fifteen, in Balthazar's case. It was the trip to the Caribbean that was the last straw. 'Look, I'm doing fine. If you really need my help, then I can…I can set up a little area in my apartment to make recordings. Would that work?'
Gabriel thinned his lips as he stared up at Castiel. 'I…I wasn't gonna show you this until later, but…' He reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded photograph.
'Gabriel, no,' Castiel said, turning away. 'I'm not interested in your aliens or mutants or whatever you think it is.'
'That's just it. I don't know what it is,' Gabriel softly replied. 'I don't wanna show it to anyone else yet. In case I did find something.'
Castiel sighed and held out his hand. He took the photograph and stared. It was surprisingly clear compared to Gabriel's normal mystery photos. Poking out just behind a reef was a long, green, scaly tail. It was striped with a darker shade of green, and its fins were lavender and violet. Fake or not, it was a beautiful specimen. He frowned as his eyes settled on the tail fin. 'It's fake,' he said.
'What?' Gabriel snatched the photograph back.
Castiel pointed to the tail. 'They did their research this time. I'll give them that. That's a very convincing scar from a shark bite, but they're trying to mix mammal and fish. The tail fin is horizontal. It's…a nice picture? Very convincing. I'm sure it'll look great on your show.'
Gabriel let his arms drop. 'But…but I took it! I was the only one there! I know I was…'
Castiel remained silent. His brother was always showing him photos that he thought were real, but none of them were Gabriel's. 'You took it?' he eventually asked.
'Yeah,' Gabriel quietly replied. 'I didn't fake it. I swear! I was in Bora Bora, doin' some preliminary photos for the show. I didn't even think it was something weird when I took the picture. Thought a shark was swimming by or something. And that's not the only one…but it's the clearest photo I got.'
Castiel took the photo again. If it was real, then…would that outweigh the stigma of being on Gabriel's show? A new species. It would certainly be more fun to be back in the water instead of being stuck behind a desk… He could always work on a personal project on Gabriel's dime if it didn't pan out. 'I'll do it,' he heard himself say.
'Great! You're all packed, and I got your cat in the car!'