The marks on his back shine red against his sickly pale skin. They look dark and angry, deeper than Dean thought possible with blunt fingernails. The whole cottage smells of fish, and it’s not until Dean’s coming to stand next to Cas that he realizes his hands and arms are streaked with blood, his feet and legs covered in sand.
“What the hell did you do?” he asks.
Cas blinks at him, slow.
“I—” he tries, his voice shaking. “I don’t know.”
As a native of Nova Scotia, the ocean is home to me. The clicking together of dry pebbles during walks on the beach. The smell of the sea brine filling your nostrils. The feeling of salt-caked skin, hair, clothes. The rolling fog that makes fishing boats and landmasses disappear. Or reappear.
Bring Up the Deep, a novella by beenghosting, beautifully captures the brooding atmosphere of the north eastern coast. And what better setting for a Supernatural case fic where Team Free Will investigates a lobster fisherman who claims a sea monster sank his boat. As they explore the misty beach, Sam, Dean, and Castiel discover a collection of slimy “monster caviar” washed up on the shore. And maybe, just maybe, four glowing red eyes blink at them through the thick fog.
Castiel is in his element here. “I want to go back to the beach,” he says, his trench coat flapping in the north eastern wind, staring out at the ocean. Ever since he placed a hand on one of the humming red eggs, he’s found himself strangely drawn to the sea – under its spell of the rolling tide and lapping waves. Moreover, Cas swears he’s seen the humming red eggs before. Dean hates the beach. It’s squelchy, wet, cold, and there’s something unsettling about those monster caviars – or “Freddie Mercuries,” as he calls them (hell, it’s better than Sam’s “gloops”). He’s perplexed at how they seem to call to him: feels their hum deep in his bones, hears their high-pitched siren in his ears. They entrance him until he’s physically ill – fish and brine and seaweed overwhelming his senses.
It is here where Dean finds solace in Castiel. The two of them have been not-so-subtly sneaking around behind Sam’s back – caressing, kissing, being each other’s homes. Cas is always on hand with a plate of nachos or a tension-releasing neck massage. Dean brings morning coffee and knows the perfect way to wake his angel up. We get a lovely glimpse into the rhythms of their newly established domesticity when a caretaking Cas brings Dean a piping hot cup of Red Rose tea. Dean scrunches his nose and quietly laments about missing the expensive brews Cas orders special from Lebanon – the ones with the chunks of dried fruit, leaves, and spices.
Dean knows something more sinister is going on with the case when a strangely aggressive Castiel comes to him one night, while Sam snores soundly upstairs. He’s rougher than ever before – nails scratching, teeth biting, strength unwavering. Not that Dean minds. But the fact remains, it’s not his Cas. He’s different. There are monsters in the deep that threaten to swallow them whole.
With flawless characterization, snappy dialog, and a blue-green atmosphere brought to life by purgatoryjar’s stunning artwork, Bring Up the Deep is a compelling case fic that transports you to the salty shores of Maine, where the rain and fog never quite let up. Until they do.
Tidbits: Sleep-rumpled Cas buried in a nest of warm blankets, lip biting, Sam telling Dean he’s allergic to healthy communication, “mornin’ sunshine,” the low gentle rumble of an angel’s voice making Dean’s heart swoop.
They went back and forth on whether or not to make the drive until Sam found an article in the town’s local paper dated a week earlier about a lobster fisherman who swore a monster sank his boat.