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27 June 2010 @ 02:00 pm
play it all night long - part I  
Suddenly I turned around and she was standin' there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns
"Come in," she said, "I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Shelter From The Storm, Bob Dylan

--


It’s almost one AM when the door opens and Castiel turns on the light. His studio apartment is exactly as he left it that morning and he takes a second to wish it was more welcoming. It isn’t, it never has been; he was supposed to use it for a short while and then find something better, and he never did. Not that he’s going to move anytime soon, especially given the talk he had with his boss Zachariah today, which was just the tip of the iceberg of the worst week he has had in… a long time. It’s Friday now, at least; he has two days for himself, not that he feels like doing anything. He dreads Monday, he really does. Then, he sits on his bed and finds himself staring at the picture on his bedside table (he and Anna, the day he graduated, and she looks so happy for him as she throws an arm around his shoulders). He shudders and pushes it down so that he doesn’t have to see it, and resolutely ignores the red light on his answering machine. He knows it’ll be Gabriel leaving some message about the funeral and he doesn’t think he wants to hear it.

Castiel sighs as he opens his take out bag (from the Chinese restaurant next block, it’s not exactly a five star restaurant but it’s cheap and it never made him sick); there are a couple of lonely spring rolls in the Styrofoam container. He reaches for one, then glances at his clock and realizes it’s one minute to one; a small, almost imperceptible smile reaches his lips as his hand reaches forward and turns on the small radio on the nightstand, which has been set on 112.3 FM since he stumbled into a certain program by chance some months ago.

Anna always used to tell him that when the highlight of your day is a radio program where they actually take calls from the public, you should at least call them once.

Castiel always shrugged and said she was being foolish, and something in his chest clenches as he recalls those conversations. He eyes his telephone for a second and then finally the familiar music of the program’s signature tune starts, at one AM sharp.

It’s gone in maybe half a minute, and then a deep, warm voice comes out from Castiel’s speakers.

“Howdy! If you’ve tuned in just now or if you didn’t get it or if you don’t know or anything else, this is Dean Winchester speaking and you’re listening to Play It All Night Long, only on WNCY and from now until three. I damn well hope none of you plans to sleep tonight because if you don’t call I’ll most likely lose my job, and then you’d just realize what you’re missing. So, what about you start with those calls, and I start with some good music to warm us up and teach you what the real deal is? I’m sure you’d love it. Which is why, while you call 917-555-4211, I’ll give you a taste of Heaven. These are Led Zeppelin, and this is Traveling Riverside Blues from the BBC sessions. You
know you want it.”

The music starts just soon after and Castiel writes title and name on a small notepad he keeps next to the radio.

And then… well, why not? He needs to talk to someone, the only person he could talk to is the reason he needs to talk to someone at all, and
Play It All Night Long is the most successful night program on WNCY exactly because you can call for anything. Advice on music, dedicating a song to someone, talking about books, ask for advice on how to fix a car’s engine, and sometimes just talk. Not that the idea of talking to Dean Winchester doesn’t make his throat tighten, because it’d feel like talking to some kind of distant celebrity, and there’s the chance he won’t even get on the line.

Still.

Castiel picks up the phone and dials the number.


--

It’s twenty to three when Dean puts Enter Sandman on for some guy who requested it because his best friend whose favorite band is Metallica graduated yesterday (oh, I’m more than happy to wake everyone up some more, and your friend has awesome taste); he relaxes in his chair and waits for it to end. Then there’s another call and then he’s done for the day, or the night. Even if this is one of those times when he wishes he had more than two hours, but then again he feels lucky enough to be here at all.

At times, he still can’t believe he has his own program. Which is a good thing, especially when it’s pretty much the only thing that he’s done right until now.

It really started because of pure and sheer luck, which isn’t something Dean gets often, and he’s even more grateful for that. Actually, the first time he put foot in the WNCY building, it was because he got a job as a janitor, not as a deejay. Not that he’d have complained about that; he had arrived from Lawrence just two days earlier with not that much money, his dad’s car and his dad’s leather jacket only; finding one job, as poorly paid as it was, so quickly, wasn’t something he’d have thrown a fuss about. (Right, he hadn’t survived just with that; after, he had found another temporary one, always fixing cars at the auto shop next to the radio station when the owner needed some help. Still, it had been a job.)

Because you know, when you took your GED after dropping out because it just wasn’t your thing, and let your younger brother get your funds for college because you can’t be bothered and you all you want is to fix cars, it’s all awesome… until you and your dad (who half-owns the auto shop you work for) end up in a serious car accident and both of you are without any kind of insurance. And well, when you need to sell the house in order to pay all the hospital bills (not so much for his dad, who died two days after the wreck, but most for all the physical therapy Dean had needed after the wreck, not to count the six months spent in a hospital bed)… you can’t be blamed if you decide that you want to change air for good and leave, right?

Right, Dean could have sold his dad’s half of the auto shop, but it felt wrong at the time and anyway the house would have covered everything leaving him with something to start another bank account. And Dean had thought that one day he might want to get back to fixing cars, at the time.

When he learned about Dean’s future plans after he sold the house, Sam had said he could come to California, where he was attending Stanford, they could share an apartment, but that’d have meant paying for one when Sam could be on campus for free; Bobby, his dad’s partner in the auto shop, had offered to lend him money, but after crashing a week at his place Dean had decided that a change of scenery would have been for the best.

New York was just the first place that had come into his head and he had figured it was as good as any, which was why he drove all the way there. And well, Bobby had a friend there who owned a bar in the East Village, and he said she could give him a place to crash if he needed one in the beginning. That was what made him decide for good.

Anyway, this one night about a year and a half ago, he was cleaning floors as usual, and it had been a good day already because he had finally enough money saved to rent an apartment less shitty than the one he was currently sharing with three other people he barely knew (but they had a free bed and had advertised it on the door of the radio station). So, it happened that Nick Monroe, the guy who hosted the eleven PM – one AM program, suddenly called in sick twenty minutes before he was supposed to be in the cabin. (Also, Nick?, decent guy, awesome music knowledge, but fuck, he does have a stick up his ass of major proportions. Still.) Anyway, everyone else who actually worked for the radio was either busy or couldn’t cover; which was how some executive had spotted him in the corridor and ran to him.

It went more or less like this:

Executive: Hey, you! Winchester!
Dean: Yes, sir?
Executive: Andy Gallagher tells me you can talk quite some, when you want to. Is that true?

At that point, Dean had actually gaped because well, he had spoken to Andy (who had this weird-ass program about alternative lifestyle and how to find your way in the world reading Heidegger; Dean had listened to it enough to be able to state that he understood zilch of the latter part) enough times during his breaks (not Dean’s), but he was sure Andy barely could remember Dean’s name, if he remembered him at all.

Dean: … well, I guess…
Executive: He also tells me you have quite a bit of musical knowledge, at least in some areas. Is that true?
Dean: Yeah, I’d say so, but…
Executive: Can you cover for that Monroe idiot in fifteen minutes? Yes or no and now. We’re that desperate.
Dean: Oh. Yes.

Point was, he had thought he’d blow it; the original format of the program consisted in Nick choosing an artist and discussing said person for the entire two hours, but when they told Dean that the day’s topic was supposed to be fucking Joy Division, he had said he didn’t know enough about them to talk for two hours. He’s into classic rock and blues and metal, not Joy Division. And that was why he just started saying that he was just a substitute and that he’d be glad to take listeners’ calls just for kicks.

In the end, Nick was sick for a week and Dean’s idea was a huge success. He never set a topic and he always was a good listener, which apparently made callers happy, and even if he probably sounded weird at the beginning because it’s not like he had ever hosted a radio program, he knew his music and apparently people liked to talk about random stuff. Hey, once he even told this guy how to fix his car’s engine and the guy had sent a totally embarrassing e-mail of thanks to the station’s address.

To cut it short, after Nick came back, Dean was offered his own program in the next time slot, because that one had been filled with pre-programmed music for a while and they liked him and all that jazz. Considering also the change in payment that it implied, not to mention that working with music always was in Dean’s top five dream jobs, he didn’t even wait two seconds before signing.

He got his two hours each night, he called the program Play It All Night Long because it was appropriate and because Warren Zevon is, in his opinion, highly underestimated, and he had kept on having luck. His program is the most popular nighttime one on the entire station and he loves it; he does something he likes and gets paid for it and well, he never was much of a people person if it meant forming lengthy relationships, but listening to strangers? That’s something he can totally do. And so he does. He does it to the point that these days, except when Sam or Bobby calls, or for when he crashes at Ellen’s bar, work is pretty much everything he’s concerned about. He has some friends, sure, even if they aren’t exactly close (and well, they’re Andy and Chuck, who deals with his and everyone’s calls from 7 PM to 5 AM), he has a favorite bar (the one that Bobby’s friend Ellen owns), he has a roof on his head, since he actually bought the apartment out at a point because it had been a disgustingly cheap price. The only problem is that driving from his neighborhood is hell on Earth and at times he wishes he didn’t like his car so much that he never took seriously the option of just using public transport; then again, as his brother always says, the only long-lasting relationship that Dean ever had with someone outside the family is the one with his car. As unhealthy as it sounds. Which is why he endures the traffic and the parking problems and he drives anyway. Point is, in the end he’s pretty much set right now. Fine, in order to buy the apartment out he had to sell to Bobby his share of the auto shop and had to accept a loan from the guy, but paying it back isn’t an issue and he’s managing pretty well) and a couple of completely failed relationships behind him, and that’s it.

Still, sometimes he thinks he chose Play It All Night Long to title the program because it has a refrain that says, play that dead band’s song. That’s how he feels sometimes. Like his life is playing dead bands’ songs, even if he’s fucking happy doing it. It also says that living in the South sucks ass and Dean can sort of get it even if he’s more from the center, but the substance doesn’t exactly change. Also, it mentions fucking brucellosis, can you get cooler than that?

And damn, he shouldn’t really think about where his life is going during the program.

But fuck, today he really wishes he could work longer, too.

As Metallica wind down, he gathers himself together and leans closer to the microphone again.

“And, this was Metallica’s Enter Sandman, with much congratulations again for the taste! Now, we’ll have the last call of the night and then we’ll miss each other until tomorrow night. Too bad, huh? So, who do we have…”

He reads the small note he got from Chuck, his co-worker and pretty much the closest thing he has to a sort of friend even if Chuck drinks more than Dean is usually comfortable with, and squints. Definitely a weird name, but to each his own.

“Castiel, are you with us?”

“Yes. Hello,” comes from the other side of the line, and fuck. The man’s voice is deep and low and calm, and if someone asked Dean now what this guy could do for a living, Dean would answer that he’d make an awesome phone sex operator.

Which is so not what he should be thinking about. He probably should sleep more.

“Hello yourself, man. So, what are the I suppose soon-not-to-be-secret reasons you’re calling this number and not sleeping as normal people do?”

“Oh, I do not sleep much anyway. And… let’s say that I was not even counting on my call to be picked. I don’t have a… particular reason.”

“You mean you just tried and now you don’t have anything specific to talk about? Well, that’s not a problem. I’ve been known not to need a topic.”

“I know. I have been… following this program for the last six months. I had this idea you would find a way to fill the time anyway.”

Dean should really not be paying attention to the images of deep, dark red velvet that the guy’s voice is evoking.

“Wow, that’s kind of great. After all, you and everyone else there are paying my bills so yeah, good to know.”

The guy, Castiel, lets out a small laugh. Dean thinks that there’s something not exactly right in that sound, but he shrugs it away.

“To be entirely truthful, I really did not have an idea about what I should have said. I called on a whim. I don’t do things on a whim often.”

“That’s bad. Doing things on a whim is the key to a long and exciting life.”

“I will take your advice, thank you.”

“No need to be that formal, man. Though well, now it should be the time when I ask you if you want some music.”

“I know. I was wondering if…” Castiel stops and then starts talking after a moment. “If you might pick one for me. You know, I… I never was much of a music person. I do like some artists a lot, but most of what I learned, I learned listening to you.”

For a second Dean feels strangely touched, it always happens whenever he finds out that him or his program have had any effects on some stranger’s life, but then he snaps out of it. He never was one to back out from a challenge.

“Well, that’s a deal. I’ll choose a song for you, but give me something to work with. I mean, tell me what it is that you like? No, wait, I just need your favorite artist. And song. If you have them, of course.”

“Oh, I do. I… I do like Bob Dylan, quite a lot.”

He can’t help thinking,, the guy does talk like a printed book.

“That’s okay. Classic guy, huh? And what about songs? I’m sure it’s something like Desolation Row.”

“I do love that one, but no. It’s… The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll,” Castiel answers, and Dean is sort of surprised at that. Not an obvious choice. Not at all. He likes people who aren’t obvious. Though well, now he really wants to know why. It’s just, it’s so bleak. Or at least, in Dean’s opinion, a song about this white rich guy killing the poor black waitress and getting six months for it because the judge’s a racist? That’s bleak. And it’s not like he doesn’t get liking depressing songs, but that’s the epitome of depressing.

Oh, well, that’s a good conversation topic anyway and they need to talk before he decides what to air, right?

“Woah, that’s quite the choice. Any particular reason you like that? I mean, it’s not like Dylan is all happy and stuff, but that one is bleak even for him.”

“I don’t think it’s bleak at all. Rather, I think it’s all the contrary, but…”

“No, no. Wait. Don’t tell me. I’m intrigued now. I’ll think about it a bit. And I think I know what I can play for you. Why don’t you call another time and tell me whether you liked my pick and whether I got it right?” Dean asks, not exactly sure of what he’s doing. But he’s good at getting what people mean just from their tone of voice and he can sense that his listener was lying. He had a reason to call and his voice has the tone of someone who really needs to talk about something not necessarily nice who then didn’t have the courage to say anything out loud. He sounds sure and calm but Dean can sense that he’s itching to let that mask slip away. And for some reason he thinks he wants to talk to him again.

“It is a deal,” Castiel answers, sounding slightly surprised.

“We have one, then.”

Dean already has an idea of what would work for this Castiel guy. If he likes Bob Dylan he has to be some… classic stuff kind of person. He also sounds like one, but point is, he can’t put in freaking Slayer. And he just sounds like a bird caged somewhere that doesn’t know how to fly out of it even if the door is open.

Oh, yes, he thinks. Now the only question is, original, Johnny Cash or k.d. lang?

Well, he’ll go with his gut.

“Okay, folks, that’s all for today. I’ll leave you with Leonard Cohen’s Bird On A Wire , performed by Johnny Cash. Not that I don’t like Leonard Cohen but you know. I have my preferences too. Good night to you and don’t forget to tune in tomorrow!” he says, and then clicks on his computer’s screen, bless mp3s and technology.

Like a bird on the wire,
like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free


Assured that it’s airing, Dean nods and puts his headphones away, says goodbye to Chuck and heads out of the room. Home sweet home, here I come, he thinks, not that the idea of going back to his two-room apartment makes him too happy. Sometimes he wishes he could just live in the radio station.

Hey, at least he has a job that is the perk of his day. Can’t get better, right?

As he drives home, he can’t help spending the whole ride wondering why the hell someone’s favorite song would be Hattie Carroll, or at least, how someone can like that song and at the same time say that it isn’t fucking bleak. Or, all the contrary. Well, now he’s genuinely interested.

--

He thinks about it for the entire next day; when he gets into the studio at midnight, waiting for Nick to finish, he tells Chuck that if Castiel calls they need to let him know and then he’ll talk to him while some other song airs.

He should be worried about this. He doesn’t talk with listeners if no one else is listening. That should be rule number one. Or, the rule of all the other rules. It’s not professional and definitely not his thing, mostly because if Dean is one thing, he’s a fucking professional.

Then again, the guy didn’t sound like he wanted to talk with an entire nighttime audience listening and for some reason Dean feels like he really, really should try to get why the guy really wanted to talk about.

Also, it’d be just one time. No harm done, right?

It’s two fifteen AM when Chuck hands him a note.

Your guy called five minutes ago, he’s on hold. What do I tell him?

Dean nods and grabs a pen as Clash’s I Fought The Law comes to an end.

To wait another five.

Chuck nods and Dean picks the next call; and oh, he’s goddamn happy when the requester says that he really wants to dedicate Light My Fire to his wife because she loves The Doors and it’s their anniversary and they actually met at the Oliver Stone movie when it came out; Dean says of course, and you know what, you get an awesome version! and puts in a live one which lasts nine minutes instead of six before he tells Chuck to pass him the call.

“Hey,” he greets as soon as he’s sure everything’s fixed.

“Hello,” Castiel answers, the voice with the same deadpan inflexion. “I am confused. Should you not…”

“I thought I’d take this one privately. I’ve got this idea you’d rather talk just to me than to me and my audience, or am I wrong?”

“… you aren’t. But how…”

“Dude, that’s my job. I’m kinda good at it, too.”

“I do not doubt that,” Castiel answers matter of fact, and God, does he sound convinced. Usually not many people bother to assure Dean that he’s kind of good at what he does, but still. Feels good.

“So, do you like that song because you like to go protest and stuff?” he starts, figuring they need to get somewhere before the time ends.

Castiel chuckles slightly again and again, it doesn’t feel completely right. “I have not attended demonstrations as much as I would have liked, but it could be a reason. It is not why I don’t find it bleak, though.”

“Yeah, well, maybe it’s a bit too long for singing it holding hands anyway. It means I’ll think ‘bout it some more. It’s challenging.”

“And you like challenges?”

“Hell yes, I do. But seriously. Yesterday. You called for a reason.”

Silence on the other side. A-ha.

“It’s just, I told you,” Dean keeps on when he realizes that he isn’t getting an answer for the moment, “I‘m good at what I do. You need to talk to someone, but then you figured you wouldn’t get picked and so you gave it a shot anyway, and you probably didn’t want to share with all the audience, so you just avoided it while I was talking to you. Am I right?”

“… you are not mistaken, yes.”

“Listen, it’s not my fucking business, hell, I shouldn’t even be talking to you right now, not like this, but if you want to say it now there’s no one listening to us.”

There are five seconds of silence; Dean can hear the other breathing.

“That is… very… perceptive of you. But I fear we have just the last stanza left and I need more than three minutes.”

Dean figures that Castiel has a point.

Which means he might call again.

For some reason he likes the idea.

“Yeah, right. Then… if you want to call another time I’ll see to get you a free pass to the first line. And I’ll think about that some more.”

“That is… incredibly kind of you.”

“Dude, again, that’s my job. And as I said, I like challenges.”

“You seem like the kind of person who does,” Castiel says quietly, and Dean curses Light My Fire for being almost over.

“Well, you know where to find me,” he ends, and then closes the call passing on to the next listener.

When he comes back home that night, he goes searching for his The Times They’re A-Changin’ vinyl and puts it on at the second-to-last song.

William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll
With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger
At a Baltimore hotel society gath’rin’
And the cops were called in and his weapon took from him –


The more Dean thinks about it, the more he wonders what the hell isn’t bleak. Especially when the ending goes like, bury the rag deep in your face, now it’s time for your tears.

There’s a reason he likes Led Zeppelin a lot better than Bob Dylan, but hey. It’s something to think about.

--

On Monday, Castiel doesn’t call.

Dean feels strangely disappointed.

During the program, someone asks him for some book advice. He says that you can never go wrong with Slaughterhouse Five, and since it’s Saturday, see you all in two days! He complies with the request of the listener and puts on Buffalo Springfield’s For What It’s Worth because apparently his listener liked Neil Young better when he wasn’t solo, then goes home and listens to The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll three times before it becomes too depressing to bear and then he switches it with some nice, early Stones.

--

Castiel calls on Tuesday; and he’s lucky because he doesn’t even have to wait. Or well, since the listener Dean was talking to when he got Chuck’s note didn’t have preferences, Dean decides that his audience needs to hear some serious kickass stuff and sends on air Like A Hurricane, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, from Weld, mostly because that version lasts exactly fourteen minutes and will give them enough time. Or so he hopes.

“You give excellent advice. With the Vonnegut book, I mean,” Castiel starts, and Dean raises an eyebrow as he speaks into the small mike.

“Dude, you already read it?”

“My weekend was not exactly busy,” Castiel answers, not specifying, and Dean doesn’t push it.

“So you liked it, huh?”

“Immensely. You should give more literary advice. This and the other one you mentioned a while ago were excellent reads.”

“Dude, you aren’t seriously implying that you read Johnny Got His Gun just because I mentioned it? The last person who read that book on my advice is my brother, as far as I know, and he spent the next month telling me he got nightmares or something.”

“I am not implying anything, I’m saying that I read it and I thought it was excellent. I’ll admit that I have read a lot of classics but not much… recent literature. Meaning, 20th century literature. You do give sound advice.”

“Well, thanks I guess. That’s… well. Nice, I guess?. And really, give a guy a hint? I can’t really see how can you think that Hattie Carroll isn’t depressing.”

Dean thinks he can hear Castiel smirking. “It has to do with the ending.”

“The ending? But it’s the most depressing part of the whole thing!”

“You should listen more carefully,” Castiel supplies, and Dean just shakes his head.

“Fine. It’s becoming extremely challenging, but there’s totally no problem. Now I need to get it.”

“You exaggerate.”

“Yeah, well, my life ain’t that exciting anyway. Except for the job. Then again, it’s hard to get bored.”

“I could see why you wouldn’t. Mine isn’t really as exciting.”

“What, are you a tax accountant or something?”

Castiel lets out a half snort. “Close. I work for an insurance company.”

“You don’t like it.”

“How would you know?”

“Dude, you said it with the same enthusiasm as you’d have said that your car’s wheel got busted in the middle of nowhere and you don’t have one to change it with.”

The half-laugh that comes from the other side of the receiver isn’t as depressed as that snort. “You are quite perceptive.”

“Told you. That’s how I pay the bills. And anyway, if you liked Johnny Got His Gun, try Dispatches. Michael Herr. It’s good. Though I wouldn’t go for it if you have a weak stomach, but if you read that other one, I doubt you do.”

“Well, thank you. I will let you know,” Castiel says, sounding slightly unsure about the latter part of the sentence.

“Anytime. I’d kinda love to talk with someone who actually finished that.”

They talk books for another short while, and when Dean checks how much time is left before the song is over, he starts wondering how exactly fourteen minutes can pass so quickly.

--

“Wait, you have a special listener?”

“Sammy, shut the fuck up.”

Dean hates it when his brother decides to be a smartass while he’s trying to keep the phone between his chin and shoulder, grabbing the coffee he made even if it’s five in the afternoon and he woke up ten minutes ago, and trying to find some music to kick off the day with among the scattered vinyls on the floor of his living room. Also, the night before he dreamed about the fucking wreck again and his mood is foul.

“Are you crazy? When it’s the first interesting thing happening in your life in ages?”

And it’s not like Sam doesn’t have a point.

“Oh, come on. It’s just, I don’t know. He calls and I just feel like he’d be more comfortable if no one else heard. And he likes my taste in books.”

“Then he’s a totally hopeless case.”

“Hey, Vonnegut is perfectly legit!”

“Yeah, sure thing. And what else?”

“Oh, I don’t know. We talk. And it’s been barely a week and a half and he didn’t even call every day, it’s nothing too weird. Happens.”

“I suspect that it really doesn’t, but anyway. Listen, I was thinking, in a month or so there’s spring break, the last before graduation. And you know, since I haven’t seen you in ages, we thought we might come there for the week-end.”

That makes Dean’s mood a lot brighter, especially since he hasn’t had much chance to see Sam at all since he left Lawrence.

“Oh, that’d be awesome. You can crash in my living room, really. The couch has a bed in it, you can have it. It’s big enough and the two times I slept on it my back was fine in the morning.”

“Are you sure? We could go to some hotel, it’s not…”

“Nah, it’s no problem. When’s your break?”

“About a month and a half from now if I’m right? If you’re not sure…”

“Sam, I live alone. Yeah, I’m sure. No one’s gonna complain. You two have a place. Let me know when you arrive, okay?”

“Fine, that’s settled then. And don’t flirt too much with your listener meanwhile.”

“I’m not flirting with anyone!”

“Yeah, I’m so sure about that.”

“You’re such a bitch.”

“Like you aren’t a jerk. Shut up.”

The call ends more or less there and Dean can’t help feeling better just for it.

At least he still talks to his brother regularly, which is a lot more than he’d have hoped when Sam had left for college slamming the door behind him. Yeah, well. Their dad hadn’t been too keen on Sam leaving, back then.

He sighs and finishes the coffee, then goes through some more records again; after he decides that today is a good day for some classic Skynyrd, he tries to put on goddamn Hattie Carroll, but he realizes he can’t stomach depressing and it doesn’t last until the end.

--

Castiel calls that evening, and Dean catches the occasion when someone asks him for some random Patti Smith. He’s quick to put on Land (nine minutes, or close to it) before taking Castiel’s call.

That’s when it starts to be freaky.

“You aren’t well.” Castiel says before Dean can say anything. He isn’t asking, and Dean wonders how the hell did he get it.

“And how would you know?”

“Your voice. You don’t sound like you are fully enjoying what you’re doing. And since you always do…”

“Damn, now the whole audience will be wondering what I’m up to?”

“Not necessarily. You disguise it well. I don’t think many would have picked it up.”

“Any particular reason why you did?”

“I… let’s say I have experience. First hand experience.”

Dean nods at that and doesn’t say anything, figuring that it’s personal and he shouldn’t pry if not asked. Then figures that what the hell, he might as well spill it. “It’s just. I was in a car accident with my father once and… I don’t like dreaming about it. Sometimes I do and… well. Puts me in a cranky mood. Sorry. I didn’t want to burden you with that.”

“Oh. Do not. I take that…”

“Yeah. He died. I didn’t. All there is to it, I guess. It’s… just that.”

Castiel takes a breath and Dean wonders if somehow he has fucked things up.

“How much of that song is left?”

“Oh. About… five or six minutes, I think. Why?”

“My sister. She died the day before I called you.”

For a second Dean can’t bring himself to say anything and the silence is deafening.

“Fuck, I’m s-”

“It was an accident, too. She was crossing the road, someone driving in the wrong direction was going towards a car going in the right one, they swerved and they hit her. A mistake. She died on the spot. And I couldn’t even attend the funeral.”

“Why, did she live far?”

“Well, that’s part of it, but she was one of my two relatives with whom I was still in contact. Let’s say that there was… a fallout a while ago. It’s a long story. But we talked regularly and she’d visit and now she’s gone. The other relative I currently still talk to wasn’t an option at the moment and I needed to tell someone, but in the end I just couldn’t.”

And what do you say in these cases? Dean has had people calling and asking him to play something for maybe a friend who died the previous week, but it’s easier to come up with things to say when others are listening.

“I’m… I’m sorry. I really am. I get it. It’s just… it’s like having a hole inside you eating you up, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Yes, it is. I just… it’s been two weeks and… I am sorry. I shouldn’t have…”

“Hey, I started it. It’s cool. Listen, I gotta go, the song’s almost over, but… tune in tomorrow, okay?”

“Oh. Yes. Of course. You do not need to tell me. I always do. I don’t know if I will manage to call because I need to catch up with paperwork, but I will certainly listen.”

Dean’s smile doesn’t reach his eyes as he takes up the next call and Patti Smith winds down, but he has an idea of what he should play first thing tomorrow.

--

He isn’t ashamed (or well, maybe he is, a bit, but no one can see him, right?) to say that he spends the entirety of the next afternoon going through Bob Dylan records. It’s stupid and he really shouldn’t, he doesn’t even know the guy, but for some reason they connected and Dean never was one for whom clicking with another human being was easy. Family not included, but that’s another whole subject. And there was something about Castiel’s voice last night, suddenly small instead of sure and smooth, that twists his insides if he only thinks about it.

Anyway, point is, Bob Dylan isn’t exactly Dean’s thing, but since he started with the program, he has spent half of his not-rent-and-surviving-related money to buy records because even if he knew a lot of music before, he can’t afford not to be up to date, from Elvis to Wolfmother; and since Bob Dylan is goddamn important, he has all his records even if he doesn’t listen to them all that much. So at least he’s sure he’ll find something, because that’s all he can do right now.

In the end he has narrowed it down to either I Shall Be Released or Every Grain Of Sand, and that’s when things get ridiculous.

Because he really can’t be there discussing internally on which one is more appropriate. Considering that someone named after an angel, and a pretty fucking obscure one for that matter (well, fine, he hadn’t known, but it was a weird name and he had sort of googled it once to check where it was from: so what?) has to at least come from a religious family either would be appropriate; maybe the latter would be better since it was from Shot Of Love and all that crap, but Dean honestly has a problem with airing something from the worst record Dylan ever put out in his honest opinion. Along with that other one he made when he was Christian or what the fuck it was. Then again I Shall Be Released, which is from a much better record and a much better song, could seem too personal. That other one would work better, considering that it’s someone else that died and all that jazz, and if the rest of the record sucked except for that one song, then it isn’t Dean’s business.

Also, it’s Castiel who likes Bob Dylan, not him.

In the end he decides that tomorrow he’ll make peace with his taste and educate his listeners on what a good blues song is, and today he’ll go for Every Grain Of Sand.

It took him exactly half an hour to decide that.

It isn’t something he necessarily has to like.

--

By chance he overhears a couple of secretaries at the radio station talking about the police having finally caught the son of a bitch who caused that accident in Harrison some three, four weeks ago. Yes, the one where the other car swerved and hit the poor girl.

Dean asks for information trying to make it sound like he’s interested, and that’s how he finds out about Anna Milton, thirty-three years old, successful manager in a theater company, dying in such a stupid way. And how she was survived by a bunch of brothers and relatives among which the online article lists a Castiel. But then, when he goes to read obituaries, he sees them signed by every possible weird name in existence except for Castiel. (You know, like: her brother Michael, her brother Gabriel, her cousins Raphael and Uriel, all mourn and miss her and stuff and geez, that’s a lot of angel names, but there isn’t a Castiel mentioned anywhere if not in the online article, which just states things anyway.)

This is strange, he thinks, but doesn’t dwell on it too much. After all, Castiel said he wasn’t in contact with most of them anymore if he remembers right.

For some reason, he feels sad in a way he hasn’t felt in a long while.

--

Castiel turns the radio on at five to one; his paperwork is laid in front of him and half done. He sighs and drinks some tea that is going lukewarm on the left of his desk. He’ll have to pull an all-nighter if he wants this to be done by tomorrow morning, and he has to because he can’t afford to lose his job now.

Even if he wishes he could, at times. Times like this one.

But he can’t, and so he finishes the cup and takes his pen in his hand again. He doesn’t think he has ever regretted not doing what he wanted at college as much as he is now, but it’s not the time for that. He’s sick of insurance, and mostly sick of selling it, and Gabriel leaving messages on the answering machine without leaving a return number isn’t doing anything to help the situation. He sighs before starting to check accounts and meanwhile he hears the familiar tune starting up. At least the next two hours won’t be that bad.

“Howdy! If you just tuned in or if you don’t know what the hell you’re listening to, this is Dean Winchester speaking and you’re listening to
Play It All Night Long, only on WNCY and from now until three this morning, for your listening pleasure. Our policy is, just call and be random, we like it when you’re random and when you call, mostly because otherwise this doesn’t have much sense to exist. So pick up your phones and start dialing 917-555-4211, won’t you? We’re waiting for you! And actually, why we wait for the first calls to roll in, I’ll give you a little something to get started. As we all know, I usually pick something that I like to kick things off, but today there’s… uh, let’s say a friend of mine who’s not having the greatest time ever and I figured I’d air something for him. He knows who he is, by the way, no names needed. Don’t get too scandalized by the choice, tomorrow we’ll be back to real stuff. But for now, I’ll leave you with Every Grain Of Sand , the Bob Dylan original version. And by original I mean original on the Bootleg Series, not the album one. Never say I don’t hand you gems, people. Get those calls in!”

Castiel’s fingers are shaking so hard that he has to put the pen away or otherwise he might draw some harsh lines on the sheets involuntarily. He doubts that Dean might have been referring to someone other than him, and he takes a breath as he turns towards the volume higher and listens. He always loved that song, but he never heard the supposed original demo version; and it’s just breathtaking.


In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
There’s a dyin’ voice within me reaching out somewhere,
Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair

Don’t have the inclination to look back on any mistake,
Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break.
In the fury of the moment I can see the Master’s hand
In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand –

He spends the next three minutes, until it’s over, perfectly still. And when it is over, he wonders when it happened that someone he never even met started understanding him better than his own family.

Part II
 
 
 
 
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
ficreader1ficreader1 on June 29th, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC)
So far I'm completely captivated by this story. I like the tone and feel you have going on and the music choices are excellent. Some I'm familiar with and others not so much but I do like the choices and reasons behind them.

the female ghost of tom joad: IT WAS A ROBOT HEADjanie_tangerine on June 29th, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks so much! :D Its great to know you're liking it so far. And that you liked the music because I did spend my time on that part and I really hoped the choices would work. :)
RathanyLakanrathanylakan on June 29th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)
Hee. I have a theory on why Cas feels that way about the song. Let's see if I am right :)
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural future!cas ;___;janie_tangerine on June 29th, 2010 09:17 pm (UTC)
You'll find out in the last part. :) Then I want to know if you had guessed it right! ;)
RathanyLakan: Cassnerkrathanylakan on June 29th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
I got it right ! Ok, now to read the read of that part :)
the female ghost of tom joad: booksjanie_tangerine on June 30th, 2010 07:45 am (UTC)
Yaaay go you! ;)
The Sighs of Children Tease the Landsilentdizo on June 30th, 2010 06:32 am (UTC)
You should thank olympia-m for endorsing this fic, because I decided to read it based on her boundless praise. And she was not lying, not at all! Let me just say that there is nothing about the phrase "2:30 in the morning" that makes going to bed any easier. This is probably what I will be doing first thing in the morning as well. My heart is in the clenchy vice of amazingly emotional and lovely stories, violently shoved together with the clenchy vice of wishing I could find someone half as amazing as AUs always make Dean and Cas.
You are fantastic. Keep writing. :)
the female ghost of tom joad: ILUjanie_tangerine on June 30th, 2010 07:45 am (UTC)
Awww, thank you! :D And what, she read it? lol I didn't have an idea. ;) I'm so glad that you liked it this far though, and I hope you keep on liking it when morning comes. Thank you so very much! :D
Giuliae0wyn on June 30th, 2010 09:28 am (UTC)
Mi piace proprio l'atmosfera di questa fic, leggendola mi sembra proprio di essere immersa nella storia e nelle canzoni. Complimenti per le scelte musicali e grazie per la possibilità di ascoltare le canzoni finchè si legge, è davvero un'esperienza unica
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural castiel is a bamfjanie_tangerine on June 30th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
Ma grazie mille! :DD e beh, mettere la musica a disposizione era il minimo. ;) Sono contenta che ti stia piacendo! <3
Joeykon_bl on July 1st, 2010 08:35 am (UTC)
Breathtaking chapter.
Love how Dean & Castiel slowly open up to each other, confused & happy.
the female ghost of tom joad: yay!janie_tangerine on July 1st, 2010 08:43 am (UTC)
Ee, thanks so much! :D I hope you like the rest as well. :)
Linsey: Misha & Jensen: mish looking at Jenpyjamagurl on July 3rd, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
This is just lovely! I am really enjoying this story and I like the instant connection between Dean and Castiel and how you have incorporated all the other characters into the story.

Off to read more! :D
the female ghost of tom joad: j2janie_tangerine on July 3rd, 2010 05:13 pm (UTC)
Ee, thank you! :D It's so great to hear, I hope that you like the rest as well. ;)
tequilafishtequilafish7 on October 4th, 2010 06:26 am (UTC)
Just stopping to say that this is freaking beautiful and awesome, and so well done.
I am thoroughly hooked.
I have to be up for class in a few hours, but I don't think I can stop reading.
I absolutely adore it already ^____^

the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural dean sam genjanie_tangerine on October 4th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks so much! :D I'm so glad that you're liking this so far, but please don't let it interfere with your sleeping patterns, I feel guilty then. ;) thanks again!
Captain Nommers of the Tastypants Brigade: castiel - sad cas is sadsecondplatypus on October 5th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
I was raised on classic rock and blues - Harry Nilsson, Bob Dylan, the Doors, Zeppelin, the Stones, the Eagles, etc. - and seeing the songs of my childhood worked into such a beautiful story, with such loving attention to detail... I don't really know how to articulate it properly. It just does something, moves something in my heart and gives me a happy little lump in my throat.
Thank you for writing this.
I usually wait to comment until I've read an entire series, but I think I'm going to end up leaving one on each part. I hope you don't mind.
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural castiel #2janie_tangerine on October 5th, 2010 10:38 pm (UTC)
No writer EVER minds feedback. ;)

And that said, thank you so very much! It's so great to know that you're liking it this much. :DD And also that you liked how I used the music because I seriously fretted over that part. Also it's stuff that I love as well so it might show. Maybe. Anyway, thanks again! :DDD <3
Captain Nommers of the Tastypants Brigade: cas - smile (5.04)secondplatypus on October 7th, 2010 02:19 am (UTC)
Some people get a little annoyed by people spamming their series with comments, so I always like to ask. :)

You're very, very welcome, darling. I've noticed that the things writers fret over often end up being some of the strongest points in their stories. The love you have for the music definitely showed, as did you skill. I adored it practically from the beginning.
(Anonymous) on December 15th, 2010 10:52 am (UTC)
Awesome fic! You're a very good writer. I love it how Castiel and Dean have this special thing going on between them. And oh what a great smusic you wrote in the story, Patti Smith, The Clash etc.
the female ghost of tom joad: musicjanie_tangerine on December 16th, 2010 12:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks so very much, I'm so glad that this worked for you! :D And thanks for the lovely comment. ♥ Also heee, Patti Smith is awesome. ;) As Clash are. ;)
Chanellemchanellem on January 10th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)
HA gosh that was so good. And I read way to slow, leaving in 15min ARGH! I need part two :(

And gosh I cried a little tsktsktsk. I wanna hug Cas so badly! And i hope we get to see Sammy :D and yeah really LIKED it, and love that we get to "see" things from both Castiel and Dean that makes it even better :DDD
the female ghost of tom joad: supernatural cas PEACEjanie_tangerine on January 16th, 2011 01:49 pm (UTC)
Ee thanks, I'm so glad that it worked for you! :D and ha, as you probably saw you did get to see pretty much everyone. ;) [btw sorry for cluttering your mail with answering to all the fb now, I had a busy week. er. /hides]
Chanellemchanellem on January 17th, 2011 12:12 am (UTC)
No prob I didnt have acces to my email any way hahaha. AND I REALLY LOVED IT! tried to explain to my friend the awesomeness of Destiel but I think she cant get pass the man on man part pwahahaha.
kanouseikanousei on February 4th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
I'm only a little ways in. And I may have to finish tomorrow.

But Warren Zevon? Friggin' icon of my upbringing. I have one of his compilations in my car stereo at this very moment. Play It All Night Long is one of my favorites, much as Dean (and you?) seem to love it. I'm from Kentucky, albeit the metropolitan part, and that song has always resonated with me. Johnny Strikes Up the Band is my start-the-morning song right now.

Anyway. I'm a cashier, and I rant every time Kid Rock's horrible sampling comes on the radio. I rant about Warren Zevon, quizzing innocent customers to see if they know who he is. I rant passionately about a Vietnam-Era Great American Singer-Songwriter, about lyrics and brilliant guitar, piano.

Stopping. Now. But you just made my night.
the female ghost of tom joad: warren zevonjanie_tangerine on February 6th, 2011 02:06 pm (UTC)
Okay this comment = made my day. Because Warren Zevon = TOTAL AMAZINGNESS. I just regret that I got into his music exactly when he died but heck, I was fifteen. I'll always regret not being able to catch him live. And ha, I love him and that song as much as Dean does, lol. It's so one of my Zevon favorites altogether. :D

I rant every time Kid Rock's horrible sampling comes on the radio.

*high fives* God anytime that song airs in a place where I can listen to it I rupture a blood vessel X__X except that whenever I go and am like 'this is a totally crap sampling of a Zevon song, he didn't exactly come up with it' everyone is like 'ZEVON WHO?' and I just want to headdesk forever. (Then again I'm in Italy, he's even more underappreciated here than he's anywhere else I think.) And I absolutely approve of your passionate ranting because that's exactly what one should do regarding Warren Zevon. ;) Especially if then people stop listening to that crap Kid Rock thing. ;)

Much glad that I made your night though! ;D and thanks for reading. <3
The Cleaverage: i heart ukel_reiley on April 8th, 2011 07:56 am (UTC)
I'm here via a rec from blue_fjords and I must tell you that I am absolutely in love with this fic so far! But but but... oh god the soundtrack. I LOVE THE EPIC SOUNDTRACK! That Dylan song? How perfect!
cerulean: ceruleanxstar on May 4th, 2011 09:46 am (UTC)
I know pretty much nothing about Dylan or any of these musicians, except that I recognize most of their names. (Let's just say...my generation was Britney, I play Chopin/Mozart, and my parents immigrated, so I haven't exactly been exposed to classic American music.) Anyway, so I probably don't have the background to properly appreciate your story and music choices, but I've been listening to every audio clip you've embedded and I love everything so far.

I do think Castiel's speech is a little more stilted than I remember from the show, but it's not bad. I'm pretty awed that you were able to construct something so interesting based mostly just on dialogue and music... Major kudos, definitely, and the reason why I'm reading this a 2:46 a.m. heh. Oh, and Castiel selling insurance is just...ridiculously appropriate.
Carly: Dean&Castielcarolina_hope on December 26th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
OME, I love this so much. I love music and this idea of them connecting thanks to it and through it is wonderful

I like the way we are getting little clues here and there on what their lifes are - more on Dean, less on Cas so far

and I cant wait to continue this beauty
kellyanne77kellyanne77 on February 18th, 2012 12:20 am (UTC)
Hi, just found this thru a rec on dA by xanseviera, and I'm really liking it. Have got spotify open and am listening along to some great tunes I never knew existed (some I did, *phew, wipes brow in relief that I'm not quite that music deficient*).

It's really interesting in a sort of got my hooks into me way, even though it's really understated. Does that make sense? I mean, hmm, it's kind of mellow with an undercurrent of sadness.

Anyway, even though it's gone midnight, off to read part 2.

Aha - a slow build up is what I meant - yes, I like the pace of it.
StArCAtcheR777starcatcher777 on December 26th, 2012 05:19 am (UTC)
I just have to say--I teach the history of rock and roll and I can appreciate someone else who knows their music history! Reading your work is awesome not just because I love Cas/Dean, but you speak my language!!!!!!! So much fun.
razerfrazerrazerfrazer on September 16th, 2013 05:08 am (UTC)
is there a reason everything is too the right? like some words are cut off :c it makes it hard to read, maybe its just my computer
the female ghost of tom joadjanie_tangerine on September 17th, 2013 10:26 am (UTC)
Wow that's weird.. Are you using that option that makes you view journals in your own style? On mine it looks normal, if you have that option try disabling it for the moment maybe? :/ or you can try with that view?light option (now I can't remember how the code is but it has to be somewhere on the lj faqs).. If neither works let me know!
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )