Castiel smiled indulgently over at his friend, Dean Winchester, as they paddled their boards beyond the shallows. Dean's dirty blonde hair stuck out in all directions, and his green eyes were trained on the swells out on the horizon. After they were out far enough, he turned his head back to Cas, blue eyes meeting green, and he grinned.
"Looks like we're gonna have some awesome waves today, man…"
Cas nodded and said, "Yeah, but we don't wanna go out too far. Gadreel said there's a dangerous riptide just beyond the shelf, so, be careful, Dean."
Dean's grin turned manic.
"When am I not?"
At that, Castiel rolled his eyes. Dean was notoriously known in the surfing world as the "Risk Taker". It was his actual moniker. Stabling his board as a small swell swept up under both of them, Cas replied, "Dean, please…this area has taken the best of us."
Both of their eyes went dark as they remembered Anna. She'd been surfing this area and had been dragged under and held under the water by a series of waves, one right on top of the other, and hadn't made it. She had been Castiel's older half-sister and one of Dean's closest friends. Her death weighed heavily on both of them, even though she had been more experienced than both of them.
Dean, being reminded, reluctantly nodded and then turned his gaze back to the incoming waves.
Cas watched him a moment longer, fascinated by his friend of twenty years. They had met in fourth grade and had fallen in love with surfing at the same time. They were both very good at it; hell, Dean was so good at it he did it for a living.
Cas, on the other hand, did it for relaxation, and it was easy to tell the difference in their attitudes towards the sport by simply observing their styles.
Whenever Dean surfed, there was an edge to it, as if he was about to explode from his board at any second, with an almost wild, manic energy. But with Cas, however, his movements when he was on a board were smooth and languid, like he knew a rhythm that no one else could feel, almost as if he had been born in the ocean, somehow explaining how his eyes were always the same color as the water he was surfing through, whether it was the tropical blue of Hawaii, or the stormy gray-blue of the North Atlantic.
There was a slightly darker swell, and Dean shot him a toothy grin.
"There it is, man. Our wave."
He looked back out at it, watching it as it got steadily larger. Cas was a bit more hesitant than Dean, especially after Anna passed. His older sister had given him and Dean their first lessons on the beach and in the water…she had also given them the itch in their veins to feel the ocean underneath them at all times.
Dean looked eager, his eyes bright, even without the sun, his fingers twitching along his board, wanting to push himself to his feet and take on each and every wave. Cas didn't have to read his mind to know this; he felt it, too, to some extent. However, Dean's excitement was almost manic, Castiel's more steady, more in rhythm with the water around him. Dean was used to the waves of Big Sur, Pipeline, and Baja. The waves out there might have been higher, but they were not nearly as violent or unpredictable as the ones at Small Point, which Castiel had significantly more experience with than Dean.
He had taken on the waves his entire life, but since Dean had taken his surfing and made it a career, he'd been more exposed to the Pacific than any other ocean, with a few exceptions off the coast of Brazil. Cas kept an eye on the wave as it came in, and then suddenly moved ahead of Dean and took the swell before his friend could grab it.
As if he was born doing it, he moved smoothly from his hands to his feet, and bent into the edge of the wave as it crested, smiling as the spray hit his face and he glided into the arc, keeping his eyes trained on the end of the tube. He snaked out of it just as it closed behind him.
He followed it towards the shore and then paddled back over to Dean, who was glaring at him.
"Dude, you just took my wave!"
Castiel threw him a smirk.
"I believe it was my wave."
"So, was it spitting barrels?" Dean asked, waiting impatiently for the next decent wave, and Cas nodded.
"Yeah, man, but still, be careful out there. This isn't one of your usual places, Dean. This is the North Atlantic. In winter." Dean was wearing a full-coverage body suit, while Cas was just in wetsuit pants. He was used to the colder water and weather, unlike Dean, who had a yen for more tropical climates. "If we're gonna take the waves, we're only going for the next hour. After that, we're heading in. Storm warnings."
Dean shrugged, but agreed, and then his eyes lit up as he saw his next wave.
Quickly paddling out, a bit faster than Cas usually did, he set himself into the wave and Cas watched as Dean slid into the tube effortlessly, rode it for a while, and then kicked out of it, making it look easy, looking like the professional surfer he was. He made it back to Cas and arched an eyebrow and said, "Admit it, Cas. I'm better."
He shook his head.
Dean barked out a laugh and adjusted himself on his board, absently running his fingers along the edge. Cas saw this and smiled. Dean had had that board for over ten years. It was the first one that he'd ever bought with his own money, and he was ridiculously fond of it. Cas was on the board that he'd purchased at the same time Dean had gotten his.
They both saw the next wave approaching, and Cas shot his friend a grin. Yes. They were taking it.
The two of them paddled out in a form that they were both very familiar with, and approached it with Cas leading the way. He loved riding the front end of the tube, whereas Dean liked to take it a bit more dangerously, as he loved feeling the water crash down right behind him, just skirting the edge of danger. Even though Cas never quite approved, he let him, and as he broke out of the end, he rode the rest of the wake and let it take him closer to shore.
He looked behind him and saw…nothing. No sign of Dean.
A surge of panic welled somewhere in the region of his stomach, and his throat tightened.
Paddling the rest of the way to the shore, his panic rose as he realized that there had been another wave just beyond the one that they had taken, and if Dean had been pulled under the first one, then it was fully possible that he had been held down under the pileup.
Cas stood on the beach, running his fingers through his hair, his hands shaking. Dean was, most likely…god, he couldn't even think about it. He'd already lost Anna, and he couldn't lose Dean, too. Feeling numb, he fell to the sand, tears falling unbidden as he realized that he'd most likely just lost his best friend in the whole world. His ankle cord chafed and he absently tugged it off, his eyes focused on the ground in front of him, not noticing a shadow pulling itself from the water and making its' way up the beach, a surfboard under their arm.
Cas's eyes shot up.
"That was fucking crazy, man! But totally awesome!"
Relief, followed by a surge of anger, brought Cas back to his feet. He took two steps towards a bedraggled Dean…and then punched him.
Dean, who had been knocked down to the sand from the blow, looked up at him, his bright green eyes confused, his board forgotten.
"The hell man…? What was that for?"
"What…what was that for?" Cas repeated, incredulous. "I thought you were dead, Dean! You…you didn't come up, there was…there was no sign of you…I thought you were dead…" His voice trailed off as he tried to control himself. He was gasping, his throat choked with emotion. He'd already lost his half-sister to this beach; if he'd lost Dean…god. Again, he couldn't even think about it.
Dean got to his feet, shaking himself off and brought a hand to his jaw, which was already a fierce red and would most likely turn black and blue within the next hour. He looked back at his friend, and, seeing his emotional distress, tried to reassure him, saying, "I'm fine, Cas. See?" He turned. "No cuts, no broken bones. A couple of bruises, sure," he amended, "But really, man. I'm fine."
Cas closed his eyes and shook his head, as though trying to rid himself of the image of his friend dead in the water.
In a small voice, he finally said, "I thought I'd lost you, Dean…"
Dean shook his head and threw him a devil-may-care grin, saying, "You're not getting rid of me that easily, man." He ran his hand through his hair. "I mean, yeah, that was brutal, for sure, but it'd take more than that to keep me down."
Cas just shook his head.
"It's just…we lost her here, Dean. And I don't want to lose you here, too."
He didn't have to say her name for Dean to know who he was talking about.
His green eyes widened and he seemed to shrink a little on himself, as if only just remembering what Cas had gone through. Cas had been there when he'd lost Anna. Dean had been off at a championship competition across the country in Big Sur at the time, but Cas had gone out with her on that fateful day. Dean recalled what his friend had told him about that day. It had been very similar to the one today; cloudy, heavy waves, a storm warning for later in the day…volatile and slightly unpredictable, just the way all three of them had always liked it. Especially Anna.
Dean's shoulders dropped, as did his eyes.
"Shit, Cas...I'm sorry, man. I didn't mean to…god, I'm sorry man," he repeated, looking genuinely sorry.
He just shook his head.
"No, you're…you're right, Dean. You've dealt with worse."
"That doesn't justify it. Shit man, I'm sorry."
"Thank you, Dean. When I didn't see you behind me, I…well, I panicked."
"You had every reason to, Cas."
He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Cas's shoulders, being uncharacteristically affectionate. The shorter man froze for a moment, unsure of how to react, but then reciprocated, putting his hands on Dean's shoulders, holding him tightly to him, not quite willing to let go.
And then, impulsively, not even thinking about what he was doing, Cas surged forward and put his lips on his friend's. He could feel Dean tense for a moment, and he immediately tried to pull back, but then Dean tangled a hand into the base of his hair and pulled him in close, bringing their lips back together, and Cas sighed in relief. Their lips met several times, each one less urgent than the first, but no less passionate, and Cas felt a part of himself finally break free, as if it had been tightly strung for far too long.
After a few moments, they pulled back in mutual agreement, both of them gasping for air, and Dean let out a short laugh.
"I thought, hell, I thought…"
Cas prompted him.
"You thought what, Dean?"
The green-eyed man shook his head and laughed a second time, saying, "I didn't figure it out until last year that I was in love with you, man, that I've been in love with you for years, and then you go and do this, and I'm just…hell, I'm just glad that you feel the same way…"
Blue eyes widened and then a small smile appeared on the corner of his mouth.
"Of course I'm in love with you, Dean…I just didn't think you felt the same."
Dean shook his head, water flying off it as he did.
"Not a chance in hell I wouldn't feel the same, man. You've been my best friend since forever. Now…well, now we're just taking the next step," he said, his smile going wide, showing off a toothy, off-center grin. "It only took us a death-defying stunt to prove that."
Cas grabbed his shoulder and pulled him close a second time.
"Let's hope it doesn't take that much for us to notice anything ever again," he said low and fierce into Dean's ear.
Dean nodded and patted him on the back.
"I don't think you have to worry about that, Cas."
Castiel smiled and held onto his friend just a bit tighter, still not quite believing that they'd gone from sheer terror to profound declarations of love in a matter of seconds, but he would take it. He didn't really care how it happened, just that it finally had, and it was all worth it.
They pulled back from their hug at the same time and Dean threw him a devil-may-care grin and said, "One more wave?"
Cas shook his head.
"No more waves, Dean…" Dean's face fell, but then lit back up in an instant when Cas added, "I prefer beds for our next activity. Or couches, whichever is closer."
He flushed red for a second, but then grabbed Castiel's hand and drawled out, "Well, then? What the hell are you waiting for?"
Cas dropped his board and dragged a laughing Dean up the beach to the house.
This would be highest wave Dean would ever ride, of that he would make certain.