Fic: "Carry On Up This Broken Tide: Epilogue" [NC-17, Dean/Cas]

Aug. 12th, 2011 | 09:04 pm
From:: nanoochka

TITLE: “Carry On Up This Broken Tide: Epilogue”
AUTHOR: [ profile] nanoochka
ARTIST: [ profile] daggomus_prime
PAIRINGS: Dean/Castiel, mentions of Dean/Lisa and Sam/Jess
WARNINGS: AU, depictions of psychological illness (ie. nervous breakdowns, anxiety), dubcon, mild D/s themes, infidelity, mentions of drug use and past drug abuse.

Carry On Up This Broken Tide by [ profile] nanoochka


     Let me just start by saying that Ben is not, and has never been, a shy kid. He has every ounce of his father’s cockiness and charm, and a heaping dose of Lisa’s poise and good sense, so it would surprise me little—as in not at all—if he someday went on to become the kind of lawyer students read about in their textbooks and dream of one day becoming. A real killer in the courtroom, the kind of prosecutor who goes on to take down every Don Corleone type there is. Speaking as someone who almost did become a lawyer, arguing with that kid puts me on edge; I always lose. Then to make matters worse, Cas went and buoyed up every last remaining insecurity he could find, so that my nephew now has roughly enough self-esteem to go out and become the next Brad Pitt. Loosely put.

     More specifically, Ben is just really goddamn good at surfing for a kid his age, and knows it. I’m all for confidence out on the waves, but it makes teaching him safety and technique all but impossible.

     Ben is looking at the foam training board like it’s personally offended him, happily uncaring that he hasn’t surfed in almost a year and oblivious to my God-given right to play the overprotective uncle. It’s a gorgeous June morning, the breeze crisp and the sun bright, and it was more or less unanimously decided that today should be spent down at the beach. No one needed much convincing, least of all Ben, who I know has been dying to get back on a surfboard for months. It’s his second summer out here with us in California, and he won’t be heading back to Indiana for another couple months.

     I’m all for letting him at the waves, but first, I need to know he can handle himself out there before I let him anywhere near the water. Dean, Lisa and Cas will all string me up if something happens to him out there. But the only response I can get out of him is an exasperated, “I’m a better surfer than my dad, Uncle Sam—for one thing, I’m not afraid of big fish or mermaids,” followed by the kind of eye-roll perfected by eleven-year-olds the world over.

     “Stop mouthing off and show me another pop-up. You can show off later when I’m sure you’re not going to go to a watery grave on my watch,” I snap good-naturedly, and there’s another exhausted roll of Ben’s eyes before he gives up and does as I say. I have to admit he’s doing really well, young body springing up to the proper surf position with complete ease. The only unusual thing is that Ben surfs goofy, just like Cas, and I have to mentally flip him around to adjust his legs here and there.

     As I leave Ben to practice a few more times, I glance over to the water and see Dean and Cas coming in from the surf with their respective boards under their arms, bickering and shoving one another like they’re ten, and not three times that age. Like I’ve seen happen a million times before, Dean, who rarely wins his arguments with Cas the honest way, stops Cas mid-sentence by grabbing him around the waist and hauling him in for a kiss. A childish part of me still wants to blush and look away whenever they do that, and I hear an echoing, “Gross,” from Ben’s quarter. I make a face at him to show my agreement, though I’ve definitely caught Dean and Cas in more compromising positions requiring plenty of brain bleach.

     Holding hands (which, by the way, will never not look weird coming from my macho-as-shit brother), Dean and Cas wander over to where we’ve laid our towels and gear on the beach. Almost immediately, Ben starts whining to Cas about how overprotective I’m being.

     Cas just snorts and turns for Dean to unzip the top part of his wetsuit, then flicks an amused look my way. “Much as I enjoy seeing your father and uncle made out to be the bad guys,” he says, “I’m afraid I received the same treatment from Sam before I was allowed into the ocean with a surfboard, too. You better get back to practicing if you ever hope to prove them wrong.” Ben grumbles some more, but complies.

     “How’d you do that?” I ask incredulously, amazed that Cas can get Ben in line without batting an eye. Not that I’ve ever seen Dean or Lisa struggle with him to any great extent, but with me it’s like pulling teeth to get Ben to do anything he doesn’t want to. I think the kid knows I’m a pushover, though Cas spoils him more than anyone else.

     It’s Dean who answers, stooping to ruffle his son’s hair. He playfully plants a foot in the middle of Ben’s back as he’s lying across the board, laughing as Ben whines and struggles to get back up. “Ben doesn’t like it when Cas gets pissed,” says Dean, grinning. “He knows it’ll just lead to a lecture with lots of big words he doesn’t know.” It occurs to me this is precisely how I used to lecture Dean as a kid and how much it used to annoy him. Like father like son, I guess. But this, I think, is why Dean is the perfect dad: his parenting style would probably get Child Services called on him if witnessed by the wrong person, but the fact of it is, he ignores the adult/child dynamic most of the time, treating Ben with the same amount of roughhousing and silliness as two kids would each other. I’m reminded how little physical attention—or affection—our own father paid to us as we were growing up, and I know why Dean does it. I know why Cas spoils Ben rotten, too, though he’s not so much the roughhousing type. Instead, he appeals to Ben’s desire to be taken seriously, which earns him a lot of points in Ben’s book.

     I see this look pass between Dean and Cas, a quick flicker of smiles and locked gazes that suggest a lot of making out is probably imminent, so I sigh in resignation and look down to where Ben is currently trying to wrap himself around Dean’s leg like an octopus and bring my brother to the ground. “C’mon, Ben,” I beckon, and go to fetch both our surfboards where they’re lying a few feet away. “I think we better get in the water, unless you’re in the mood for a free show from these two.”

     “Ew,” yelps Ben, and he pretends to fling himself away from Dean as Cas leans in for a kiss to prove my point.

     Considering Ben spent the first ten years of his life exposed to nothing but displays of heterosexuality from his dad, I have to give him credit for how cool he is about Dean and Cas, even when they’re at their most obnoxiously affectionate. Obviously, it wasn’t always like that—it’s clear Ben struggled to adjust to the new relationship at first, trying to balance his like of Cas as a person with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage and Dean’s identity as a gay man. That would be tough on any kid; hell, it was even tough for me at first, and I’d had plenty of time to adjust to the idea. Now, though, you’d never know it was ever not like this, with Ben adapting to Cas’s new role as co-parent and, most of all, friend.

     This explicit acceptance is how Dean and Cas can get away with playing up their public displays of affection just to watch Ben squirm. He never fails to be as dramatic as possible about it, but I see no difference from the exaggerated show of disgust he used to put on whenever he caught Dean and Lisa kissing. Ben treats all demonstrations of adult affection as equal, and that, I know, is a sign of his approval of Cas and Dean’s relationship.

     Helping Ben into his wetsuit before we jog out into the surf together, it doesn’t escape my notice that Dean settles down next to Cas and Callie on their towels with an arm slung around Cas’s neck—they’re always touching in some way or another, which, after over a year of being back together, is both the most astounding and ridiculously sappy thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a difference in Dean I can’t help but double-take over each time. The fact that I’ve never known him to be so openly affectionate clearly doesn’t mean he’s never wanted to be; and if the way he looks at Cas is anything to go by, he wants it all the time (whatever else Dean happens to want all the time is strictly not for me to comment upon). Taking into account everything they went through, it’s a damn miracle he and Cas can be together this way. I’m definitely not the one to accuse them of being too gooey around each other.

     I guess it’s what one might call an unconventional arrangement, but after Cas went to go find Dean in Cicero, they were able to work out a system that allowed the unlikely family unit to split its time between California and the Midwest. Things are finally really good between Lisa and Dean, who have taken to the role of joint parenting with an enthusiasm I both respect and admire; they make it look easy, really, and personally I think Lisa seems a lot happier, too, having started dating this doctor called Mark who Dean says is really nice. Rather than spending all their time flying back and forth, especially because Dean hates planes, he and Cas tend to spend longer stretches of time in each place, with summers exclusively in Cali with Ben, who seems to have taken to the SoCal lifestyle like a duck to water.

     Meanwhile, the surfboard business Cas and I took on as partners is going great; it took about five seconds for me to realize the untapped goldmine we had in Bobby and Ash, who between them produce some of the most beautiful and technologically-advanced surfboards I’ve had the pleasure of trying. Even Dean got in on the game, starting off as an apprentice before taking on his own share of projects in the shop, a natural to the craft with his background in carpentry and artistic eye. In one way or another, we’re making a real name for ourselves in the industry, and between the four of us, work can get done pretty much anywhere. Cas still has contacts to help with the marketing aspect back in Chicago, and Dean even has a workshop set up in the basement of their house in Indiana in addition to the one here. Bobby and I keep things running smoothly while they’re away—after all, he’s the founding partner of the business—and so far I think we’ve got a promising future ahead of us.

     I know Cas would say things could only be more perfect if he was back in contact with his family, but we all know that’s probably not going to happen. Even Anna, who always seemed pretty cool from Cas’s stories about her, limits her contact to a few texts and phone calls every couple months. It’s obvious how much it pains him to still be cut off, but he claims not to blame her for being unable to cut the ties to their family for Castiel’s benefit alone. I would certainly do that much for Dean, and vice versa, but if Cas’s family refuses to come around, the most we can do is try to compensate with love of our own. Where Dean is concerned, I know how happy he makes Cas; they affect such a recognizable difference in each other, I’m almost at a loss as to how they managed before.

     Obviously Dean is a different person now that he no longer has to pretend to be what he’s not, but it’s Cas who seems the most changed out of everyone. He’s so confident and self-possessed, finally in control of his life with such calmness and ease I actually feel envious sometimes, and it’s obvious he’s found the balance he struggled with so much when he and Dean were apart. Seeing that guy, I think I know what attracted Dean in the first place, and it’s amazing how Dean, just by being in proximity to Cas like this, is so much more open and unguarded and vibrant, where he always seemed to be on the defensive before. They saved each other, I guess.

     And me? Well, some days I feel like everything has changed, others like it’s exactly the same. My last book was a hit, the fans seeming to enjoy the addition of Jophiel as a new character to the series, with critics calling him a welcome counterbalance to the Wesson brothers. I may have even started dating again, though I’m aware that my love life is the laughingstock of this family. Still a work in progress, but I’m here in Cardiff with the people I love most in the world, drawn together, however weirdly, by surfing and some sleepy town in the middle of nowhere.

     I’ve since changed my opinion about Cardiff: it isn’t just a place for people to go with all their baggage and when their lives feel the most broken, though I do think it rescued us, in its way, from a lifetime of real misery. It might have started off as a home for my grief, and now it’s the only place on earth where I’ve ever felt perfectly happy, and like things have worked out exactly as they’re meant to. In one way or another, I can’t think of anyplace else I’d rather be.


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