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26 November 2010 @ 04:22 pm
Fic: "When Play Turns Bitter - Chapter One: Gone Man" [SPN]  
TITLE: "When Play Turns Bitter - Chapter One: Gone Man"
AUTHOR: nanoochka
RATING: NC-17 for language, violence and graphic descriptions of sex.
PAIRING: Dean/Castiel, Dean/OMC, Sam/OFC, mentions of Dean/Lisa and Cas/Balthazar
SUMMARY: “You’re happy with your world/ But there is something small in the back of your head/ Your concerns are still free/ You fall into the trap/ Without knowing what you want/ And there’s nothing left but a foolish idea/ Everything goes back into place.” Remember that play turns sour when playing with a fire; but Dean is as tired of pretending like his life hasn’t begun, as he is waiting for Castiel to notice.
SPOILERS: General S6
DISCLAIMER: Supernatural and all associated content is the property of The CW and Eric Kripke. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’ve been wanting to write a Dean/Cas epic in the frame of Dean/OMC for a while—there’s so much fic out there that situates their relationship within Dean’s involvement with Lisa, which is obviously all very well and good (and canon); but I’m more curious about how Dean would handle getting involved with another man. There are a lot of fun implications not only for his sexual identity, but how Castiel might respond to such a thing, so I figured to just forge ahead and see how things work out. The title is from the traditional Welsh standard written and sung by Caryl Parry-Jones, “Chwarae'n Troi'n Chwerw” (“When Play Turns Bitter” or, “When Play Turns Sour” - lyrics here); chapter title from Eels. Thanks to fossarian for the alpha. Artwork by the supremely smashing daggomus_prime, to whom I owe flowers, candy and a honeymoon in the South Pacific.

“When Play Turns Bitter” by [info]nanoochka

Chapter One: Gone Man

Although Dean probably didn’t know it, his way of thinking about the whole “Truth” versus “truth” question would have made a lot of people in the field of literary theory pretty happy. Much like those students of Postmodernism who couldn’t crack Foucault’s An Introduction without later wondering what point there was to having jobs or procreating, as opposed to just drawing a warm bath and ending it all, Dean had serious issues with anyone who tried to force the idea of a universal Truth—of any kind—down his throat, because he was fairly certain those people were full of shit.

Maybe it was a result of having been a professional liar and a con for most of his life, but Dean didn’t buy that what came out of one person’s mouth was any more meaningful, definite or valid than the next. Half of what Dean said was utter and complete bullshit, though he’d swear the contrary a million ways to Sunday; the other half of what he thought was even worse. There were probably people out there in the world who knew how to be honest with themselves and those around them, but Dean had never met those people, and wasn’t altogether sure he wanted to, since they probably knitted or had lots of cats or failed to grasp the meaning of ‘fun’. His brother was a great example. The majority of folk—the fun ones, anyway, and the ones who weren’t Sam—were so far up denial’s ass that they could convince themselves of almost anything. That’s why Dean refused to subscribe to the idea that anyone out there in the world—and he didn’t care if it was fucking Shakespeare, or Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, Jr.—was qualified to tell him what was True and what wasn’t. All they had, that Dean didn’t, was a better marketing team. The strategic use of capital letters didn’t change that.

Along those lines—or maybe in total contradiction of them, who knew—Dean had a few loosely-formed truths about himself that he knew better than to trust implicitly. The first was that he’d always love Sammy and never abandon the kid, but that had been tested more than a few times already, with less-than-stellar results; another was that Dean turned everything he held dear to ash. Everyone from Bobby to a freaking angel of the Lord had contradicted this particular nugget at one time or another, but it was still a struggle for Dean not to believe it. Lisa denied it for a long time, too, but in the end even she couldn’t ignore the irrefutable truth that Dean Winchester tended to fuck up the people he loved. As such, he preferred to avoid romantic entanglements, because they never ended well. After the year he spent playing house with Lisa and Ben, he made a solemn promise—for himself this time, not Sam—that he wouldn’t go down that path again. Then again, he wasn't so great at keeping those, either.

It also so happened that Dean found little evidence to refute the fact that he loved women. A lot. Size, shape, colour, sexual orientation, political affiliation… that shit didn’t matter to Dean. He liked his women any way he could get ‘em, though obviously it was a bonus if they happened to be hot and smart and a little wild in the sack. It wasn’t that he was closed-minded to the possibility of liking dudes, but he’d never had reason to wonder if he might. The question of his heterosexuality had been settled the moment he blasted through puberty, Rhonda Hurley’s panties notwithstanding, and that wasn’t something he ever expected to be contradicted in his lifetime. Okay, sure, he might have let a handful old dudes blow him in his late teens and early twenties, when money was short and there was no reasonable way of knowing where the next meal would come from; and he might have gone downtown a couple of times himself when Sammy clamoured for the opportunity to go on a class trip to NYC like every normal eleventh-grader. But he could lump that stuff in under the first category, since it wasn’t fair to qualify the lengths to which you whould go to make your brother happy, even if he should never, ever know about it. With the exception of one other incident that he didn’t like to think about too much—yeah, fine, another one—Dean figured he was about as adamantly hetero as a guy could get.

As it turned out, he could still be proven wrong.

When Sammy got his soul back and the end of the world was slightly less nigh, Dean and his brother more or less settled down in the Portland area with a two-bedroom rental that they paid by the month. It was a small, dingy (“historic”) walk-up in the Northwest part of the city, probably a shithole by most standards, but palatial by theirs. Portland was a sweet town, both anonymous and quiet, and as it turned out the mountain air suited them both. For one thing, it was close enough to Bobby’s that they could visit without planning for a cross-country road trip, but not so far-removed from civilization as Sioux Falls, where they might have gone slowly insane from boredom.

Sam seemed comfortable being somewhere on the same coast as Stanford, too, in case he ever decided to go back for grad school. It would be on forged credentials, of course, but Dean knew he still thought about it sometimes; a half-completed application package sat in the top drawer of the desk in the front room. Dean wasn’t threatened by it. After over six years on the road together, he was reasonably certain that he wouldn’t mind letting Sammy go. He had Dean’s blessing to that end. There would always be more ghosts to expel and monsters to kill, even with business a bit quieter these days, and Dean didn’t see much point in chaining themselves to the job anymore, nor to each other. As a blonde television heroine once memorably said: “If the apocalypse comes, beep me.” Much to Dean’s surprise, he found he was okay with bracing that mindset.

Both of them had jobs that placed little demand upon their ability to pack up and leave at a moment’s notice, whether for a case or otherwise—Sam did evenings and weekends at an internet café downtown, while Dean struck up an arrangement with a nearby mechanic. Paid on a job-by-job basis, Dean visited the garage whenever there was enough overflow to justify his coming in, which turned out to be pretty often. Manny, the owner, seemed to take a liking to Dean that was a little reminiscent of his relationship with Bobby, and might have resulted in Dean getting more work than he would have found otherwise. He had no complaints about that. The rest of the time he hustled poker games or pool in the next town over; between that and the legit stuff, he and Sammy did okay for themselves. Certainly it wasn’t the most glamorous of lifestyles, but it beat the hell out of living in motel rooms or the back of the Impala, and there was always food in the fridge.

Because Sam was usually out of the house on weeknights, Dean quickly made himself at home at the local bar, and made a point of showing up a few times a week for a few of beers and to watch the game. The Underground wasn’t much, but the service was solid and there were live bands most evenings. Somewhere along the way, Dean had forgotten how nice it was to be recognized for something other than a by-product of panic or fear, or have the bartender greet him with a wave and his usual before he made it past hello. He got to know which bands were worth watching and which of them could be sweet-talked into playing some Zeppelin, and there was always a pretty girl or three to flirt with at the bar. Thirty-five wasn’t far off, and Dean was less compelled to sow his wild oats as when he was twenty-five, or even thirty, but suffice to say it was an existence he felt happy with, as much as it surprised him that such a thing was possible.

The band on stage were Tuesday-evening regulars who played some mean jazz and blues, which was reason enough to show up before ten and score a seat at the bar. Jessie, the night bartender, always knew to save Dean a spot near the stage where he could watch and drink in silence before heading home for the evening. They were a small outfit of twentysomething guys that included drums, a double bass, one dude who seemed to play everything from saxophone to trumpet to jazz flute, and the singer, whom—Dean noticed—flowed seamlessly from vocals to the piano or the cherry-red Gibson he pulled out for some of their more Blues-y tracks.

Unlike some of the other local sets that wandered in closer to the weekend, the quartet was unobtrusive enough that it was possible to carry on a conversation without being distracted. They were good—so good, in fact, that even someone as difficult to impress as Dean liked to ignore whatever game was on in favour of paying attention, especially when they lapsed into some perfectly-executed Johnson or Coltrane. A couple of times they even managed to pull off some more unconventional selections for an all-male group, like covers of Nina Simone, Billie Holiday or, once, Marlena Shaw, and apparently an acoustic-jazz version of “California Soul” was possible. The singer’s voice was pure smoke and longing, Chet Baker after a pack of cigarettes and a twelve-hour fuckfest. That was talent right there, to be able to make an entire room full of people go silent and want to listen closer. That they were limited to playing the kind of Portland dive bars that Dean liked to frequent was a damn shame.

“You should be charging them a groupie fee,” Jessie teased, as she refilled the tumbler of whiskey at Dean’s elbow. Back in his twenties, he would have given his left nut for a bar back who made getting another drink as easy as wishing, the way Jessie did. On most nights they liked to talk sports or classic rock, but on Tuesdays she knew well enough to make herself scarce. Dean loved that she didn’t take it personally, almost as much as he loved a bartender who knew how to read her customers. The band was wrapping up for the evening, so they were free to chat. “I think you’re my only regular who bothers to listen to these guys.”

“Consider me the silent, supportive type,” Dean answered with a smile. He raised his glass to her in thanks, and took a sip of the crisp amber liquid as he glanced back towards the stage. His drinking was another thing that had slowed way down over the last few months, symptomatic of his sense of well-being with the world. “You’d just get sick of me if I kept showing up for no other reason than the pleasure of your company.”

“Never!” she gasped with mock alarm.

They’d never bothered to do much more than flirt, him and Jessie. She was a spritely little thing with amazing dark hair and cerulean eyes, but it took about ten minutes in her company for Dean to start thinking of her like a kid sister. He kept meaning to introduce her to Sam—and not just because she was called Jessica—though his brother never came in on her nights. Something about her reminded him of Jo, and he wondered if her mother was also the Ellen-type who had instilled her with such a strong sense of cockiness and independence, that same low bullshit threshold. Jessie never gave him a hard time for hitting on the other regulars, but she had less reason to call him out for taking them home than she might have, five years ago.

He smiled at her fondly. “Maybe if I get bored enough, I’ll pick up the guitar and convince them to let me join.”

“There’s too much good-looking in that band already,” she laughed, nodding her head in the lead singer’s direction, who was thanking the small audience and packing up his guitar. “To say nothing of the promiscuity. If you contribute any more, we might need to start marketing ourselves as a male brothel.”

This made Dean throw back his head with a throaty chuckle, because Jessie had a point. With the exception of the lead singer, who for some reason seemed to be the most socially subdued despite his looks, Dean had seen one band member or another go home with a different woman almost every night they played, though he couldn’t fathom where the variety came from. The Underground didn’t see much rotation in terms of its clientele, except, apparently, on Tuesday nights.

“I wanna say that you should have seen me in action when I was their age, but I’m pretty sure that you can imagine what it was like,” he said.

“Yeah,” she agreed dryly. “I think I have a fair idea.”

With a shrug, Dean took another sip of his drink. “Whatever, lady. If the grass is green…”

“Go roll in it,” Jessie finished for him. Winking, she wiped down the bar in front of him and went to tend to the other customers.

Dean finished his double in comfortable silence, wondering whether Sam had made it home by then. It wasn’t for another couple of hours that he needed to start thinking about hitting the hay, but of the few Underground regulars he ever made a point of socializing with, none were there to distract him. The quietness was probably a direct result of the murky, foggy weather outside, typical of Portland in late April. He didn’t see much point hanging around all night to drink by himself; without a good reason, even he could see it was pretty damaged-looking.

Sighing, he began digging through his pockets for money to pay his tab. Lately he’d found it depressing that he and Sam spent so little time with people outside the Winchester-Singer circle, but it was hard to break out of a solitary nature when it was all he’d known since childhood.

A warm body settled itself upon the stool next to him as Dean finished counting out a few bills for Jessie, which naturally included a generous tip, and he didn’t think much of it until the person nudged at his elbow and quietly drawled, “It’s seriously pathetic to see our number-one fan drinking alone all the time, man. We gotta do something about that.”

Dean turned, and found the band’s singer sitting with his elbows propped up on the bar, smiling softly at him. He was too startled by the appearance to be bothered by the comment or what it said about him. It took Dean a second longer than usual to contain his surprise before he could plaster his features with a smirk. “All that means is that I need more friends, and you need to find a better manager,” he shot back. “It’s a shit-sad case for you guys if I’m your only hope for a consistent following.”

“I wouldn’t disagree with you.”

Although he’d watched him on stage enough times, this was the first time Dean had met or seen the guy up close. While the other musicians liked to mingle and charm their conquests for the night, which was easy enough when you knew what a time signature was, he’d noticed that the singer kept to himself a lot of the time, disappearing almost as soon as the Gibson was put away. At this distance, he seemed a lot bigger and less soft, even despite his voice, and about a million times better-looking. Insofar as observation was an area with which Dean neither struggled nor had difficulty reconciling himself to, he could admit that the guy had ‘heartbreaker’ written all over him. He sounded Southern, but the deep honey-brown skin peeking out from beneath his t-shirt was too perfect and even to be the result of tanning, no matter how close you lived to the Equator. Dean had never visited Spain, but he’d always figured that the people there wandered around looking exactly like this, reinforced further by his liquid black eyes and the dark hair that hung in a tousled fringe above his forehead.

A quick glance at Jessie earned him a mouthed, ‘I told you so,’ and Dean resisted the impulse to roll his eyes. Maybe she expected him to feel threatened, or something, but Dean was a bit too old for that now, especially with a brother who spent as much time at the gym as Sammy. Besides, the guy seemed friendly enough, and Dean had only just finished thinking that he needed to get out more, meet new people. A badass guitarist who looked like a cross between Orlando Bloom and the Prince of Persia wasn’t an awful place to start.

The man extended a hand. “Kurt Wolfgramm,” he said, the syllables rolling off his tongue in a contradictory mix of twang and softened vowels. Dean couldn’t help but smile as the singer’s face brightened when he accepted the handshake.

“Dean Winchester, Number-One Fan.”

Kurt’s grip was firm and sure, which made sense for a guitar player. Dean wasn’t thinking so much about that, however, still caught up on Kurt’s name. He’d introduced himself with some pretty bizarre monikers in his time, but this one was a little goofy even by his standards.

Noticing, Kurt withdrew his hand, as though Dean’s confused expression was the only reason he ought to do so. “Something wrong?”

Dean chuckled. “No, not really, I just didn’t think you looked like a ‘Wolfgramm’.” Alright, he hadn’t been to Germany, either, but he was reasonably certain that Kurt didn’t resemble the average Kraut.

“So what do I look like?” he returned smoothly, eyebrows raised. It occurred to Dean that he really needed to stop shoving his foot in it so soon after introductions, but from the way Kurt turned his body to face Dean, he didn’t think he’d actually offended the guy, so much as baffled him.

“No offense,” Dean began, “but with a name like that it sounds like you’re either the lost member of Rammstein, or you spend weekends ironing your SS uniform in the basement.”

Kurt laughed. It was a surprisingly normal sound, less subdued, and made him look more like an average Joe just out of college or a little bit older. Dean had a lot of affection for people that age, maybe because it reminded him of Sam when they’d first started hunting together, though in all fairness he didn’t have the slightest idea of how old Kurt might actually be, beyond ‘under thirty’.

“I guess that’s fair,” the singer admitted, blushing slightly. “But for what it’s worth, I didn’t choose it. My father is German and my mother is Indian—my middle name’s Nikhil.”

Dean wrinkled his nose and said, “Weird,” and immediately wanted to bash his head against the wall for how bad this conversation was going. “Sorry,” he added. “Where I come from there was just Midwest and not-Midwest. I don’t ever think I’ve heard that combination before.”

“And you probably won’t again,” Kurt agreed. “It’s no different in the part of Florida I’m from.” He gestured for Jessie to bring him a drink, which in turn made Dean reconsider his previous plans to leave. Kurt followed his eyes to the money atop the bar, and lowered his hand. “Damn, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were on your way—”

“No, it’s okay,” Dean cut in. He indicated to Jessie for another round for both of them. The change of plans earned him a slow smile from Kurt. “What’re you drinking?”

“Jameson,” Dean said, and became aware that, like a jackass, he hadn’t asked Kurt his preference before ordering. Whatever weird mood he’d suddenly gotten into, he was going to have to find another Tuesday-night haunt if he kept it up. He caught himself apologizing for the second time in as many minutes. “Fuck. Sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me—get whatever you want. You don’t need me ordering for you like a douchebag.”

Kurt shook his head and chewed on his lip. For a brief moment he seemed to consider Dean from beneath his eyelashes. “Whiskey’s great,” he assured him after the pause. “It’s kind of a nice change from beer, and you probably know what’s good here by now, anyway.”

It was obvious that Kurt was still making fun of him, but somehow he managed to pull it off in a way that made Dean smile rather than want to punch his face in. To be honest, he responded the same way to a hot girl with a flare for sarcasm, and Dean could admit he was being a bit of an easy target tonight. “You trying to tell me something, dude?” he asked with a grin.

Hands up in submission, Kurt poked his tongue out from the corner of his mouth. “Only that you’re the expert.”

Dean blinked, pretty sure that he was being flirted with, but couldn’t honestly say that he hadn’t been doing the same. He didn't know anymore; sometimes it was like a compulsion to try and charm people, regardless of whether or not there was anything in it for him.

Jessie was smiling at them weirdly when she brought over their order, and Kurt touched her hand as he accepted the drink. “Thanks, Jess,” he said warmly, and she blushed in a very uncharacteristic way. Dean began to wonder if Kurt wasn’t just overly friendly. “I hope you aren’t planning to get rid of this one anytime soon.” He jerked his head to indicate Dean, making Jessie laugh out loud. Definitely flirting with both of them. It made Dean both envious and impressed that he managed to pull it off without looking like a complete tool.

“Dean can stay as long as he wants,” Jessie told him, leaning forward onto the bar so that her cleavage was overemphasized between her arms. Dean shot her a pointed look that went unacknowledged but, had someone accused him of acting jealous, he wouldn’t have been able to say of whom. “Usually it’s you that we have a hard time keeping around,” Jessie teased. “Why is it that your horndog bandmates are always the ones to close down the bar, while you sneak out right after the set? As far as I can tell, you’re the most fun of all.”

“You’re an awful judge of character, girl. I’m not remotely fun,” Kurt deadpanned. He followed up by throwing back the glass of Jameson. Dean tried not to let his eyes widen, bemused, because the man could pound back a double without flinching. Apparently that’s a talent exclusive to angels and Germans, he thought. “Another?”

Nodding, Dean followed suit, but took a bit longer with his before he asked, “How is it that I just met you five minutes ago, and already I feel like you’re trying to drink me under the table? Who the hell are you?”

“A Rammstein wannabe.” The way he said it, along with the sidelong glance he slid at Dean, reminded him a lot of how Cas in the old days. It was weird that Dean found himself thinking about Cas so often in one conversation, because he didn’t usually. The angel still came around sometimes, sure, but it’d been an awful long time since Dean had seen an expression like that on his face, coy and clever and playful. He missed it, and Kurt seemed a stable enough individual that the warmth was pretty welcome. “Maybe you just bring out that side of me,” he suggested.

Dean’s eyebrows shot up. He ordered two more shots but challenged, “Now who needs more friends?”

“Can’t help it if I’m picky.”

“Guess I should be honoured, then.”

However much Dean was enjoying the banter—and he was, surprisingly—he couldn’t switch off the Hunter’s instinct to question exactly why Kurt was over here talking to him. When women did it, Dean had no qualms about returning the attention. Maybe that said something about him, but men rarely if ever came up to him without preamble, unless they were trying to get into his pants, that is. Dean knew for a fact that he didn’t come across as approachable, not like Sam, and this definitely wasn’t the place for dudes to go around trying to get people to switch teams. There were more than enough of those kinds of bars elsewhere in Portland, downtown or in the Southeast—not that Dean had done much investigating. Rationally, he knew the guy was just being friendly, though he couldn’t shake the feeling that Kurt had approached him for a reason. While he seemed in no way sketchy or threatening, with his boyish face and cheeky smile, Dean also sized up that he wasn’t a small man, broad-shouldered and tall. As a Winchester, he was mentally incapable of not working out the odds of winning in a fight, should he let his guard down, if it came to that.

He lowered his voice to a casual, confiding pitch as he asked, “I’ve been watching you guys play for months—what made you come over here now?” Obligingly, Kurt tilted his head closer to better hear Dean's words. “Is it the loner vibe I give off?”

That Kurt seemed unaware of Dean’s suspiciousness was a good sign in and of itself. Dean relaxed fractionally when Kurt flashed that bright, disarming smile again. “Could be.” At closer proximity he seemed more anxious, fingers taking up an uncertain, staccato rhythm against the side of his empty glass. “Us loners should stick together,” he confided.


Sometime in the last five minutes he’d failed to notice Jesse returning with their second round of whiskeys but, evidently, so had Kurt. He gave an amusing start when Dean slid the glass towards him and raised his own in a toast. “What are we toasting?” asked Kurt.

“Well, we could toast loners, but that’d just be sad,” Dean pointed out.

“New friends?” suggested the guy who, yeah, Dean could sort of see was turning out to be just that. He realized that he was already thinking about the next time they might see each other, whether it would just be a casual, mutual acknowledgement at the bar on Tuesday nights, or if they’d actually make plans to meet up and hang out like Dean had with Syd back in Cicero, like he did less frequently with Cas. It also occurred to him that making new friends was not unlike trying to hit on someone with as little creepiness as possible, in the hopes that they’d agree to share breathing space with you again.

Still, he grunted. “Fuck, no.”

“Okay—then either we toast to awkward toasts, or we toast to Jessie here, ‘cause I’m gonna keep embarrassing you with every one of these that goes down the hatch.” Seeing Dean’s look of mock-alarm, he shrugged. “My gag reflex might be nonexistent, but I’m a lightweight. Pretty soon I’ll be lifting my glass to pom-pom socks and unicorns, so we better get it out of the way now.”

Dean nodded judiciously at this logic, because he was no stranger to saying seriously stupid shit when he got drunk, either; and at this rate he’d arrive at that point not much later than his companion.

Kurt lifted his glass to clink against his, and Dean said, loudly, “To Jessie!”

When she turned to see the two men raise their drinks in her direction before throwing them back, she laughed. “It’s way too early for you boys to be getting shit-faced.” Dean thought she might have looked at him with mild surprise that he was suddenly hitting the liquor with renewed vigour, but if she was tempted to say anything about it, she decided otherwise and refilled their glasses before moving off to the other end of the bar.

This was the last one, Dean promised himself with some reluctance, and didn’t know why he was suddenly so apprehensive to leave. Before Kurt showed up on the stool next to his, he was perfectly ready to pack it in and go home. He reminded himself that he would have a miserable day at work tomorrow if he felt tired and hungover, but that didn’t motivate him to make his excuses and peace out. Instead he propped his head up on the butt of his palm, and arched an eyebrow at Kurt to signal that he was about to ask something very important.

“How come you’re stuck playing in a shithole like this?” he queried. The question made Kurt snort a laugh, chuckling through the rest of Dean’s words. “I’m serious. You guys are good. There’s no way you wouldn’t get a decent audience on most nights if you were playin’ somewhere respectable.”

“You ain’t been in Portland long if that’s your attitude towards the music scene,” Kurt said lazily, drawing out the long sounds of his accent in a way that sounded sensual and reassuring. “Sure, we play at jazz clubs every so often, and I’ve been known to do the odd solo gig, but this town is too full of hipsters for the stuff we play. No one wants to hear Coltrane or Parker played by amateurs, and besides—I’m pretty happy to have a low-pressure regular gig like we do here. It’s not like we don’t all got day jobs. Realistically, this is as good as I’m ever gonna get.”

Although Dean admired Kurt’s sense of realism, the answer was a little disappointing given his high opinion of their music. “You’re already better than most professionals, man. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Sure, he knew enough about the industry to know that there was a very small market for cover bands, especially those playing standards, but he wasn’t the kind of person who got protective of bands he liked—Dean would rather they have the most exposure possible, and the means to produce more music. As a teenager and young adult, he was a big fan of the mix-tape in the effort to turn other people on to his favourite music. Sammy could attest that he was often disappointed when the recipients—usually women he was trying to bone—lacked in enthusiasm or interest. According to his brother, this made him an early-generation music geek, but Dean didn’t care. He had a feeling Kurt was probably the same way.

“Where’d you learn to play like that, anyway?”

Kurt shrugged, and sipped at his drink contemplatively for a moment before answering. “My dad loved jazz, and he was a pretty talented blues guitarist,” he explained. “Taught me the basics when I was little, and I messed around with learning songs all through high school, played in a couple different bands, that kind of thing. Piano I taught myself, and the singing I got from my mother, but she has a more traditional Indian voice—very Bollywood, y’know? I have no idea when I started pretending like I was Chet Baker, but I guess it’s sort of my schtick now.” Dean loved how much more animated the quiet Kurt became as he talked about music, and he began to see how they could end up chatting all night.

“That’s awesome,” he said, meaning it. “I always wished I knew how to play an instrument—it probably would have taken the Zeppelin obsession to the next level if I’d been able to learn their stuff.”

“How come you didn’t?”

The thought made Dean laugh quietly, struck by the irony that he’d barely had a father around to teach him to shave, let alone play the guitar. “Didn’t have that kind of family,” he told Kurt. In a small way, it amazed him how easily he felt he could talk about his past in the context of music; or maybe it was just Kurt, looking at him with his head slightly tilted, dark eyes alert and curious. “My dad was in the military,” he lied smoothly. “We just traveled around from place to place and never really put down roots. I looked after my brother the most of the time, and I guess that didn’t leave much time for guitar lessons.”

“Sorry to hear that,” said Kurt with sincerity. His face grew a bit wistful. “If I ever have kids, I’m totally going to be the kind of parent who won’t let them have dinner until they’ve finished violin practice.”

“You better not tell any of this to Child Services,” Dean advised with a smile. “Based on that model, your hypothetical kids will probably starve to death first, and I hear social workers don’t like that kind of thing.”

“Speaking from experience?” asked Kurt.

“Kind of.”

Dean’s desire to talk about his year with Lisa and Ben was exactly zero, because it always seemed to open up a host of questions he didn’t feel comfortable answering or thinking about, for that matter. Fortunately, Kurt didn’t press him for clarification, and did one better by changing the subject entirely. It was the kind of Jessie-worthy perceptiveness that made Dean’s respect for Kurt increase tenfold, despite the fact that they’d only known each other for less than a half hour. Either the guy was a little bit psychic, or Dean was a lot easier to read than he gave himself credit for.

“So, Zeppelin, huh?” he tried weakly, and relaxed a bit when Dean offered him a smile of gratitude. “Can’t say I’ve met many people who combine a love of classic rock with jazz. Blues is understandable, but there’s not a whole lot of common ground between the Zep and, say, Charlie Parker.”

Realistically, Dean saw this coming—it wasn’t reasonable to assume that a conversation about music with a jazz musician wouldn’t eventually lead to a discussion about jazz. He was fine with it in theory, but beyond a pretty embarrassing admission, he didn’t have a whole lot to contribute on the subject. He rubbed the back of his neck and hoped the blush on his face wasn’t too visible in the dim lighting.

“This is really pathetic, but I had to look a bunch of stuff up the first few times I heard you play.” At the sudden, brilliant grin that split Kurt’s face, punctuated by a laugh so surprised that it could have qualified as a giggle, Dean reddened further and tried not to get too defensive. “Hey, look. If you’d been a hair metal cover band, I’d be the one teaching you a thing or two, here—but I don’t know the first fucking thing about jazz beyond the fact that it sometimes puts me to sleep or makes me feel like I’m having a seizure, depending on the artist.”

Apparently Kurt still had the wherewithal to look concerned; for a moment he just frowned at Dean and narrowed his eyes slightly. “Is that a general statement, or a performance review?”

Dean rolled his eyes but did it with a smile. “What do you think?”

“I’m flattered. Maybe I can teach you a few Zeppelin songs on the guitar sometime” Kurt paused for a moment to study Dean’s face, and after a moment his lips quirked in something that might have been a smile, but never quite made it past his eyes. Eventually he cleared his throat. “You know,” he said slowly, “you’re not at all what I expected before I came up to introduce myself.”

This made Dean’s brown furrow in confusion, because—well. It wasn’t the first time someone had accused him of being a puzzle, and he kind of liked to keep it that way. But something about the way Kurt said it made Dean want to ask whether or not the statement was meant to be a compliment, or something else.

The question continued to plague him even as he tried to dismiss it, so Dean did the best he could and settled for confronting the other man in a way that wouldn’t seem completely gay, or reveal how much he was secretly hoping for the former. “What did you expect, exactly?” he wondered.

Kurt’s face took on a seriousness Dean had yet to see thus far into their conversation, though he spoke again before the expression could perplex Dean too much. Breaking eye contact, he slid off the bar stool just enough to reach into the back pocket of his jeans for a pen. Without warning, he grabbed Dean’s hand at the wrist and flipped it palm-up on the bar while he clicked the pen open.

“Listen,” he began, and started to write something down on Dean’s palm that he quickly recognized a phone number. “Maybe all you’re interested in is something easy to listen to when you come in for a drink after work, and that’s cool.”

This wasn’t really doing much to alleviate Dean’s confusion about this whole encounter, which in his head was quickly morphing from two guys talking music at a bar to, Is he about to ask me out? At a loss for words, Dean just watched Kurt finish scribbling down the information before returning his hand. The other man’s eyes lifted again and settled squarely upon Dean’s; he thought about Cas, who was maybe the only other person who looked at him that way and seemed to actually see.

Gesturing at the number as though it explained everything, Kurt recognized Dean’s hesitation and had the good grace to blush. “We’re playing a house party for a friend of Joey’s—that’s the drummer—in a couple of days. Nothing too fancy, but they’re good people, and it’s in a classy part of town. There’ll be free booze. It’d also be nice to see a friendly face.”

Dean pulled back his hand to consider the number and what the hell he was being asked to do with it. Normally this was when the flight response started to kick in, but for once Dean’s mind failed to provide him with the excuses he produced whenever he got hit on by a guy, if that’s what was going on here. “There won’t be friendly faces there?” he asked dumbly.

“Well, not yours.” This seemed to amuse Kurt for some reason. His mouth tugged up again. “Think of it as furthering your jazz education. I’ll make sure we play something you’ll enjoy, but no pressure.”

“I don’t really do house parties,” said Dean. He arched an eyebrow as if to remind Kurt that he didn’t exactly look twenty-one anymore.

“Neither do I,” Kurt laughed, and clapped him on the shoulder.

It was only as he downed the rest of his drink and fished out a few bills to throw onto the counter that Dean realized that Kurt was pre-empting him by a lot, and beating a hasty retreat. It wasn’t quite how he’d envisioned the conversation ending, with Kurt running off like he’d suddenly remembered to go wash his socks or buy peanut butter on sale. Even Jessie shot a puzzled look his way, noting Kurt’s imminent departure like she’d blinked and missed something important, which, hey, maybe they both had. Before Dean could figure out whether to let him go or somehow convince him to stay, Kurt just turned that crazy-sweet smile on him again, and appeared to catch his breath somewhat.

“If you decide to come, give me a call and I’ll text you the address. Okay?” He held out his hand, which Dean mutely shook while he tried to school his face into something that didn’t scream ‘captive retard’. “It was nice meeting you, Dean Winchester,” said Kurt.

He was already halfway across the bar, guitar case in hand and saying restrained goodbyes to his bandmates and their hangers-on, when Dean caught his breath and muttered a faint, “Yeah. You, too.”

Chapter Two
Current Location: Canada, Toronto
Current Mood: impatient
Current Music: Glen Hansard - Leave
The Majestic Bison Daggotdaggomus_prime on November 27th, 2010 05:47 am (UTC)
I haven't read this yet put I just wanted to comment on how excited I am that you're doing this. I love the angles and different perspectives that you pick up on, and my god, you really are doing something amazing here. I whimpered when I read the summary. This is going to break me, I know it.
Giuliae0wyn on November 27th, 2010 01:24 pm (UTC)
I've noticed that chapter 2 is already up but I've gotta stop and tell you how much I loved this. To tell you the truth, I was already captivated by the summary and especially the notes. The concept is great and now that I've read the first chapter, I can tell you that, until now, the premises look great.
I really like seeing how Dean is struggling with the definition of himself (and his sexuality) in this kind of normal environment... now that there are no demons or monsters in sight and he has actually time to sit down and think about it. I also really enjoyed all the times Dean mentions Cas in his thoughts :)
wickedvirtue on December 6th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
So I'm reading this all kinds of late, but yeah, I had to stop and say something at the end of the first chapter. You've GOT me. I have this true, deep fanon belief that Dean prefers the morenas (in all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnicities) and you hit that ON THE HEAD.

Excitedly off to chapter two!
Nansense: confidenanoochka on December 6th, 2010 10:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Kurt's ethnicity wasn't a deliberate choice in my part because of Dean's previous inclination towards morenas, as you say; he's based on a really specific mental image with some RL inspiration, but I guess it's kind of ironic now that I think about it, that Dean's had almost no involvement with anything BUT morenas on the show.

Glad you're liking it so far!
wickedvirtue on December 7th, 2010 02:35 pm (UTC)
Ooooh, I really want to know who he's based on and/or supposed to look like!

Also, it didn't have to be a deliberate choice for me to appreciate it. It actually tickles me more that it wasn't deliberate but somehow ended up that way anyhow (which is what I believe happened with the Show).
leaffit: SIGH Mishaleaffit on January 9th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
This is really, really good! You're an excellent writer and the story has captivated me. I'm kinda curious as to why Dean and Sam no longer hunt but it doesn't bother me that they aren't.

Love it that a guy is hitting on Dean and he's actually considering it, and that the guy reminds hime a little of Cas. Love that line about how the guy looks at him and can see, like Cas did. : )

Glad there are more chapters to look forward to!
caz2y5caz2y5 on January 31st, 2011 08:43 am (UTC)
This is interesting looking forward to seeing where it leads.
Thurisaz. Bow before me, for I am root.: spn Dean fanfic amaze meadja999 on February 2nd, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
Mhh... This sounds really interesting. I really like the writing style and the way you give lots of details without making it boring... It's a nice trick.
Kurt seems awesome. ^^ Dean needs more of that.

I love daggomus-prime's art. But that's no news I'm a fan...
Nansense: confidenanoochka on February 2nd, 2011 04:49 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're giving the fic a try! Obviously I'm also super thrilled with Dag's artwork, but it's great that her fans are joining us for the ride! :)
eternal_moonieeternal_moonie on February 3rd, 2011 08:06 pm (UTC)
AWESOME start!!!
Xarixianxarixian on February 26th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
Ooh, I like this. Your OMC is interesting and I love the parallels you draw between him and Cas.
And I love Dean's characterisation here, the perspective is really good, very mellow and yet searching at the same time.
Love the opening as well, the stuff about Truth.
the only water in the forest is the river: [spn] castiel | leader of the revolutionnyoka on March 23rd, 2011 02:28 am (UTC)
Hi! I just wanted to let you know I recced your wonderful fic here.
baba_o_reilybaba_o_reily on April 4th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)

I love your writing so much. All those little details that you throw in (like Dean referring to himself as a captive retard)...it's like, there is literally no one else's head that we could be in. I cannot wait to read more of this.
lacking in glitter: sexy backtawg on April 13th, 2011 11:06 am (UTC)
I've had this open in my browser for, oh, over a week trying to find the free time to read it and the strength to tackle an original character fic (though this one has come highly recommended, and I can assure you that I can see why, and it's a very good reminder that I should get over my irrational fear of Mary Sues and Gary Stus). You have a very good writing style for this kind of story - there was a lot of the setting and the characters that you got across without it ever feeling like an info dump, it was more of a 'Okay, this is what's been happening recap', very fluid and familiar, and I wish I had that talent.

I really liked the way you related your OCs back to canon characters. Like, with Jess, I had such a clearer image of her and how her lines were delivered when you related her to Jo, and tying Kurt's expressions to Castiel's and his post-college look to Sam not only made him easier to visualise, but it also justified to some extent Dean's interest in him. I suppose it's not exactly a secret technique, but it was just very effective here.

The one big detraction was your livejournal background - I kept stopping every few paragraphs to try and make out if it's Dean standing near Cas or what (for a long while I thought it was The Master, from Dr Who).