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Chapter 10: Relative Madness: Twisted Family Trees
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“You’re lying.”

Those had been Alec’s first words after Dean’s revelation. It was easy. It was too easy.

Dean wasn’t insulted. “Mother, Rachael Berrisford, father, Simon Trent, piano teacher. Their only son disappeared with a woman named Ruby the day he was born. Any of this sound familiar?”

It all sounded familiar. It was everything Alec knew about his son. “Come on,” Dean invited. CJ’s in his room with Ben. Ben’s my son.”

“Ben?” Alec echoed.

“Did Gem, by chance, mention him?” Dean asked hopefully.

Alec wasn’t entirely sure why Dean was mentioning Gem. “Ben is a leader of Ghost Town. He easily spots transgenics without technology and he doesn’t care about our origins. Of course, Gem mentioned him in her debrief.”

“Did she say anything else?”

Alec tried to remember. “He’s a good story teller and has some pre-Pulse manners.”

“That’s all his mom,” Dean said. “Lisa raised him right. Is Gem coming back?”

Since it seemed like Dean wanted her to, Alec would suggest it to Max. “I believe so. She said that she would be willing to return to Ghost Town whenever needed.”

“Well, that’s something, at least.”

“My son’s name is CJ?” Alec turned the conversation back to important matters.

“Caleb James.”

“Why that?”

Dean shrugged. “It fit. Both were men who influenced me when I was a child. I respected them and I wasn’t ready to name anyone ‘Bobby’ yet.”

Alec was rather mystified at the explanation. “Can I see him?”

Dean nodded. “Just follow me.” Alec followed as Dean wheeled his chair to the bedroom. The young man about Alec’s age was holding a toddler securely. He was standing near the window, but not in such a way that a sniper would be able to get a shot. That, at least, Alec respected. The toddler, his son, Caleb James was nuzzling Ben’s neck. It was probably a familiar scent, a safe scent. Alec wondered if Caleb James smelled like Rachael. Both males looked up at Dean and Alec as they entered the room.

“Alec this is my son Ben and my grandson, CJ. Boys, this is Alec.”

Ben stared at Alec and Alec stared at his son.

“Let him hold CJ,” Dean finally said. He was wheeling out of the room, expecting his order to be followed.

Ben nodded once. He stepped forward and offered the baby. Alec awkwardly accepted him and suddenly had no idea what to do. He hadn’t paid attention to Gem and her child. What if he harmed his son?

“He’s a baby, not a football,” Ben muttered.

As sorry as Alec was to think it, Ben was right. Manticore had given all transgenics a ton of training in how to hide and control their excessive strength. He could hold his son and not hurt him. So Alec gathered his son close. The boy examined him with intelligent green eyes, his eyes and Dean’s eyes. Ben stood two steps back, as if to spirit CJ away if Alec did something wrong.

“So did Castiel bring CJ to you?” Alec finally asked Ben. It was the only explanation he could consider where all the family ended up together. How else had Dean found out about Alec’s son?

Ben smirked. “Not quite.”

Alec waited for the other man to elaborate, but Ben was silent.

“Why did you and Dean really name him CJ?”

Finally, Ben quit looming –he must have figured that he couldn’t intimidate a genetically bred super-soldier –and sat in a nearby chair. He was still smirking. “Well, a little over a year ago, Dean woke me up and told me that we had to drive to Seattle immediately to meet up with a chick he despises…”

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The girl jogged through the Seattle rain and stopped at a parked SUV with handicapped license plates. The men inside saw her coming and Ben considered running her over after she delivered the package. The SUV had tinted windows and if the engine was idling, no one could tell. That was Dean’s work. The passenger side window rolled down in response to her arrival but not in welcome.

“When I gave my allegiance to the Boy King, I didn’t expect to find myself doing his errands after he died,” she said.

Dean reached out for the baby, and tucked him in close. “Sucks to be you, Ruby.” He started to roll up the window. Ben put the vehicle into drive.

“Don’t I at least get to know what you’re going to name him?”

Dean glared. His hair was speckled with grey. It made him look distinguished. And firm, Ben had always thought.

Ruby had witnessed the transformation. She didn’t intimidate easily either. She was, after all, the Boy King’s messenger, though he had a different title now. “Well?”

“Simon, maybe?”

Dean cuddled the baby close, rolled up the window and waved Ben to drive.

They left Ruby standing in the rain.

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“So what are we going to name him?” Dean asked his son. Ben noticed that he checked his rearview mirror and didn’t feel a sliver of pity for the black-eyed girl they had left in the rain. They both knew what she was capable of even when she was ‘helping.’ Maybe next time, Sammy would get the hint and leave her burning in hell. Why he still used Ruby mystified Ben and Dean.

“Not Simon?”

“Of course not,” Dean sounded vaguely insulted. He turned his attention to the quietly sobbing baby. Dean dried the raindrops off of his face and the baby settled quickly. The vaguely blue eyes stared up at Dean. “If the father was a trained assassin like Sam hinted at, he wouldn’t have used his real name. Hell, if he was a Winchester of any caliber, he wouldn’t have used his real name.”

Ben shrugged and maneuvered through three different sections of the Seattle, each time using the ID of one Mikkey Dee. He had only used his real name up until the Pulse. When his mother and Sam had died within days of each other, Dean had come for him. Over a decade later, Ben still didn’t have confirmation as to how Dean had known about Lisa’s death or how he had managed to find an orphaned ten year old in the chaos immediately following the national economic disaster and mob riots.

Ben guessed that it had been Sam, same as the source of the information for Dean’s ‘grandson.’ Dean had swooped in one night, while Ben was hiding in the closet of his house as scavengers –the human kind- rifled through his mother’s belongings. Even at the age of ten, he had been practical: he had already hidden all of the food and anything of value in the closet by his feet. He also had a flashlight and his handheld Gameboy. Thankfully his mother had one of those flashlights that you cranked to get the needed energy, so he could waste the batteries on his Gameboy.

He had heard a scuffle outside the door. He had heard Dean cussing and fighting. Ben didn’t remember much after that. He knew that he had ran out of that closet and that Dean had nearly hurt him before recognizing him and then he had squeezed Ben so hard that it felt like he cracked ribs. Ben remembered a lot of crying and tears and not all of them his.

Dean had showed up and once again saved the day. Dean had set up a temporary base in Ben’s mother’s house. Then he proceeded to strip it of anything worthwhile. Things that Ben hadn’t considered Dean evaluated as worthwhile; candles, the gas saved for the lawnmower, and the canned vegetables in the basement. Ben had breathed a sigh of relief that Dean really didn’t mean to eat them anymore than Ben did. It turned out that they were worthwhile for bartering and if you were hungry, they did fill you up.

Dean and Ben had driven away from the house and never returned. Ben’s life had changed in so many ways since his mother had died in a riot. Learning that Dean rarely had used his real name had been a bit of a culture shock drowned out in the rest of the PTSD that Ben had been dealing with. Since then, Ben had used the name of nearly every 80’s rock band member that had ever lived. “So why are we giving him a name if we’re not going to use it?”

Dean’s glare was palpable and Ben immediately regretted the flip question, so he tried again. “Will we name him after Sam?”

“No.” The response was immediate, but Ben had to wait for the explanation. “There’s only one Sammy.” Dean offered a smirk. “Like there’s only one Ben Winchester.”

Ben Winchester. Another one of those things that Ben never asked about and Dean never truly explained. It was only after the third person assumed that they were father and son in a week’s period that he cornered Dean. It was a bit of a shock when Dean admitted that Lisa had said that they weren’t related. In reading between the lines that Dean never spoke, Ben realized that it was a distinct possibility.

The next night, Sam Winchester had visited his dreams looking harried and hard but still amused. The nighttime vision was the first time Sam had communicated with Ben. Sam told him that Dean was his biological dad and if he ever wanted to make his father freak, he could call him ‘dad.’ Ben had only called Dean ‘dad’ when it conned the audience –be it a witness or a cop- more than any other relationship would. Dean seemed to puff with pride when Ben claimed to be family and Ben was scared that it was just an act for the con and sometimes he was scared that Dean was just as proud of Ben as he had been of Sam. The last thing Ben wanted was for Dean to treat him like he had treated Sam. Ben wouldn’t let him sacrifice that much. Now there was this baby to whom Dean was sure to be willing to sacrifice everything.

“You don’t mind that his father is an assassin?” Ben suddenly blurted out.

Dean shook his head. “Sammy explained it to me.”

“And?”

“You know how it is, we can’t talk about what Sam tells us.”

It was well past time to change the subject. Sam was something/someone involved in somewhere/something that Ben didn’t understand and, most days, didn’t want to. “What are we going to call him?”

“I was thinking about using part of his mother’s name and part of the name that his father was using at the time and smashing it together into something unique.”

Ben offered his father the classic ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about, so you have to explain it in small words’ look.

“Rachael and Simon. It would be about the only thing he’s going to get from his parents. Ra… mon? No. I’m not naming a kid after noodles.”

Ben snorted back his laughter. “Sichael?” he offered.

“Too close to psycho. And it sounds like an angel’s name which is even worse. Racon?”

“Bacon,” Ben rhymed.

“I was thinking recon, but you’re right too.” A beat. “Keep an eye out for a diner. We need food too.”

“Elsi?” Ben tried to put together another name. Naming the quiet baby was more important than food.

“Too girly,” Dean automatically dismissed it. “Elon?”

“That reminds me of Elrond from Lord of the Rings. Elmon?”

Dean snorted, “Elmo. My idea isn’t going to work, is it?”

Ben ran through a couple other possibilities. “Si…rac? Sim…ael? Rach…on? Rac…mon?”

“No. No. No. And no.” Dean sighed. “Caleb James?”

The two men looked down at the baby and chorused, “CJ.” Now that was decided and finally they left the borders of Seattle. They had sandwiches in the back of the vehicle. Dean’s mention of the diner had been only to divert Ben from making fun of Dean’s horrible name choice. They only would stop in an emergency. It was safer to be moving. The two were quiet for a while; they had a long drive home.

Finally, Ben asked, “What are we going to tell him about his dad?”

“I have no freakin’ clue. We’ll figure it out when we get there. We do have a couple years yet. Seven if he’s anything like Sammy, nine if he’s like you.”

“Hey, Sam had the advantage. My dad’s main job wasn’t hunting the supernatural every night.”

Dean just looked over at Ben and waited for the young man to correct himself. “My dad wasn’t coming home to me from a hard night of supernatural hunting every morning,” he said instead.

Dean huffed but Ben knew that the separation of his parents, especially after his infamous eighth birthday fiasco was entirely at the insistence of his mother. Dean hadn’t put up any fight, but then again he had been a federal fugitive. And with his lifestyle, it wasn’t as if Dean could have gone to the courts for custody.

Knowing how much that information had hurt and filled Ben with feelings of abandonment, he was most assuredly not looking forward to having that conversation with CJ someday. If he had any luck at all, he would be out of town on his own hunt and Dean would be left to deal with the inquisitive child.


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Alec chased his son all over the house. The boy couldn’t blur, but he would soon. Ben and Dean didn’t seem to be lacking, even though they were normals. They could outthink CJ and figure out where he would go. Within an hour, Alec didn’t consider calling his son anything but CJ. It just seemed to fit the kid. He had to admit that he didn’t believe most of Ben’s story, but he wondered about it.

Ben left the house soon after. He had work to do on the alternative energy tower. Dean promised to come help him later, but neither one of them wanted to leave CJ alone with Alec. The transgenic couldn’t blame them: he was tempted to take CJ and run. He would be abandoning his unit, the transgenics, and Max. He would be isolating CJ and stealing him away from the only family he knew. Alec was tempted but he wouldn’t do it. CJ tolerated Alec; he loved Dean. Dean loved the child in return. Alec had a price on his head; Dean was free and clear of the entire mess.

Dean was obviously the best scenario for CJ. It wasn’t like Alec would take the kid back to Terminal City and have both his family and his unit.

Alec decided to go for a run. He would be able to clear his head with the physical activity and he’s also be able to check the perimeter. Gem had commended Ghost Town’s security, but Alec wanted to confirm her analysis. He wanted to know that the town was safe for his son.

So Alec jogged around town, careful not to blur in sight of the residents. He noticed some of the children that Gem had mentioned in her report. Come to think of it, Gem had made some omissions about the children. It was the one part of her report that skimped on details. Why? Alec decided to investigate. He looped around the building –blurring beyond the children’s speed- to surprise them.

He was the one surprised. He couldn’t find them anywhere. He couldn’t smell them. Where were they?

He heard a giggle and followed. The giggle was inside the building. Alec tried the door and it was unlocked. He would just look inside and no one who ever know that he trespassed. He opened the door, expecting to see some of the boys he had been following but saw nothing. It was dark inside, but his eyesight could compensate admirably. He heard the faint sounds of electricity and screaming. It was so different from the giggles he had been following. Alec told himself that he edge closer to the inner doorway because he was part cat and curious. It was not because he was concerned that someone was hurting.

Inside the door, Alec stopped and stared. He was facing a huge room, occupied with children, some as young as five and the oldest about eighteen. They were screaming and yelling and disappearing before his very eyes. They would look solid one moment and be translucent the next. Electrical currents were visible, sparking from one node to another.

“CJ’s Dad!” one little girl yelled across the room to him. Alec stared at her; she was very well informed. How could she possibly know that? Alec couldn’t let intel like that spread. She waved at him. “You want to come over here,” she told him. She was pointing at another doorway. Alec would have to cross the chaos of the middle of the room. The children were blurring, but not like trangentics, they were skipping across the room, not being there in the middle. Alec was completed freaked. “You want answers, don’t you?” the girl asked.

Alec did. Damnit. He took a deep breath and ran across the open floor. He managed to make it to the other door without getting struck by the odd lightening. The girl had long since vanished, but since Alec was here, he opened the door.

The girl was inside the room, but Alec knew that she hadn’t opened the door to get there.

Surprisingly enough, the room was occupied with two familiar faces. Dean was fixing a pile of wires in the corner and Ben was standing in front of the little girl chiding her. “You know you’re not allowed in here, Joanna.”

“Sorry,” the girl said. “CJ’s Dad is really good at hide-n-seek.”

Ben looked up and saw Alec. “Yes, he is,” he admitted. “Now scoot.”

Joanna just vanished.

Alec had a million questions, but he asked the most important one first. “Where’s CJ?”

“The Terrible Trio’s watching him. He’s taking a nap and if I tried to bring him, he’d wake up and be cranky. You noticed that he’s also pretty mobile and would try to get into everything here.” Dean waved a hand at all exposed wires. “This is not a safe place for a kid.”

“What is this place?”

“It’s somewhere where ghosts can come and let off steam. Otherwise they become destructive to other people, property and themselves,” Dean answered. “We’ve managed to figure out a way to catch and use the electrical current they throw off.”

Alec wanted to deny Dean’s easy tone, but was stuck on the people (ghosts?) he had observed.

“Look,” Dean said. “Go out there and chat with them. They’re good kids. They’ll talk with you.”

Alec returned to the big room, the electrical flashes and the ghosts.

One appeared at his side and offered his hand. “Hi. I’m Jacob.”

Alec shook the young man’s hand and was struck by how cold it was. He was solid and friendly. Jacob was a teen and he was much bigger than Alec. He appeared stronger. Alec knew that he could best the kid in a fight… if the kid was alive. He was not alive. When he chose, he was transparent or invisible.

Jacob grinned. “Bit of a mind-bender, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

Just then a really cute, curvy girl –no, a woman- appeared in the middle of the room. She screamed and threw lightening to all of the corners. “Now that’s hot.”

Jacob looked horrified. “No crushing on Mrs. Overby. You can’t. That sort of thing… You’ll go to hell, for that.” Jacob told Alec playfully.

Alec used to be one of Manticore’s best assassins. If Hell existed, this wouldn’t even the top fifty crimes for which he would be punished. Before Alec could tell the ghost that hell was a construct of a human fear-based religion, Dean threw a screwdriver at Alec, like one would throw a knife. Alec caught it because he could. “You don’t have worry about Hell,” Dean said. “You’ve got a place waiting for you in Purgatory and you’ve already got an in with the law there.”

Alec blinked. “I do?”

“Yep. Sammy will look after you.”

Not for the first time, Alec wondered about Dean’s sanity. Then he took all the ghosts into account and wondered about his own sanity. “Purgatory has law?” What was he supposed to do with a screwdriver?

Dean pointed to a corner tool chest. “Put it over there. And Purgatory? Tons of it and marshals and lawyers –I guess most of them end up there anyways- and courtrooms. You do good there and then you can get into heaven. You screw up and you land in Hell, never to get out. They have a one strike rule and the game –your time- there takes freakin’ forever.”

“How do you know this?” Alec asked.

“Told you, have an in.” Then Dean rolled away and left Alec sitting there, holding a screwdriver and his mouth gaping. Alec watched him go. He wheeled through the ghosts and the electrical storm like it was nothing. He rolled out the other door and was gone. It was obvious that he was heading to his house. It wouldn’t take Alec and Ben much time at all to catch up.

Alec turned to Ben, who for once was amused by Alec and not resentful. “Is he crazy?”

Ben shrugged. “’Pends on your definition.”

“Hell? Purgatory?” Alec quoted.

“Ghosts, angels,” Ben shot back. Okay, Ben totally won that one. The child ghosts that protected –and energized- Ghost Town were a totally new experience. And while Cas might not be an angel, Alec couldn’t classify him as something that fit into a known category.

“If Castiel’s really an angel, why hasn’t he healed Dean yet?” Alec asked.

Ben’s face shut down exactly how Dean’s had at the same question. “When Dean wants you to know that, he’ll tell you.” Then Ben stalked off and Alec had managed to alienate his brother/nephew again. Alec really needed to stop doing that, if for nothing else than CJ’s sake. CJ adored his… relative and the feeling was mutual. Alec knew full well that CJ would continue living with Dean and Ben. Alec had too many people on his tail. Dean had managed to raise a fine man in Ben, no matter if he blamed most of the good stuff on Ben’s mom. He was doing a good job with CJ as well. It was the best thing for CJ. CJ was safe here and Alec could trust Dean. It wasn’t like Alec had a clue on how to correctly raise a child.

Alec planned to visit every chance that he had dropped his tail, so he needed to make peace with Ben and that was challenging for a number of reasons. One being that he shared the same name as Alec’s evil twin… that Alec hadn’t even mentioned to Dean and Ben yet. There were too many Bens in this family.

He almost liked this one, but he was leaving soon and wouldn’t have a chance to figure out what made the other man tick. Alec jogged to catch up and then fell into step with Ben as they walked up the driveway to Dean’s house.

“Ben’s taking you back to Seattle,” Dean announced from his porch. “In an hour. Pack up whatever you need.”

Or maybe Alec would figure Ben out. It would be a long car trip. Considering that Castiel had transported Alec via invisible wings and apparently wasn’t available for a return trip, Alec was just happy that he didn’t have to steal a wreck and turn an entire town of potential allies into an enemies. “Thanks.”

Dean smirked at him like he could read his mind. “It’s not just for your ride.” Ben tried to walk past Dean and into the house but Dean stopped him. The two just looked at each other and it seemed like they were having a silent conversation. And they weren’t even wacked like the X-8, supersonic conversations. Finally Dean smiled at nodded at his son. Ben continued into the house and Dean concentrated on Alec.

“So it’s not just for my ride?” Alec prompted the old guy that had probably forgotten what they had been talking about. Or Alec was just being Alec.

Dean ignored the inference. “The demon that’s working with White?” he said.

“Demon?”

“The guy that smelled of sulfur? Cas tagged him as a demon. You can’t get rid of him, but Ben can.”

“Ben’s a normal.”

Dean glared at him and Alec felt like shuffling his feet like a young soldier getting chewed out. “I’m hardier,” he stated. “What can he do that I can’t?”

“Ben has over a decade of experience of kicking supernatural ass. You aren’t sure that you even believe in the species you’re fighting yet.”

Alec didn’t have an answer for that. In the back of his mind, he was sure that someone, sometime and somewhere had created Castiel in a lab and the poor guy had been deluded into believing that he was an angel because that’s how his creator exerted his control.

“Thank you, sir,” Alec said as respectfully as he could manage.

Dean rolled his eyes. “Yeah. That’s not what you really want to say.”

“I don’t do chick moments,” Alec informed his genetic donor. “Dad.”

Dean laughed so hard that he nearly fell out of his wheelchair. He was still chortling when he turned his chair away. Over his shoulder, he said, “CJ should be waking up now. I’ll go get him so you can say ‘see you next time’.”

No ‘good-bye’ Alec noticed. Dean understood him in ways that even Max didn’t.

Ben tossed Alec an impressively heavy duffle bag. He tilted his head to the open hatchback and Alec packed it amidst all of the other bags. Alec noticed a battered laptop and two books.

“Research,” Ben told him. “And some light reading for you.”

“What do you mean, ‘for me’?” Alec asked. “I’m going to be driving.”

“Not my car, you’re not. Throw your shit in the passenger’s seat.” Alec only had the clothes on his back, but he did shed his jacket and throw it into the van.

It was time to leave. Ben had his SUV packed. He had a glove box of truly impressive IDs and Sector Passes Alec had found as he explored his temporary territory. The transgenic had been jealous until Ben handed him his own box. Alec grinned, “For me? You shouldn’t have.”

“If I hadn’t, you would have tried to steal mine.”

“Maybe,” Alec admitted.

“Boys, be good,” Dean called. He was rolling up to Ben’s SUV, CJ in his special pouch. “Good thing I have good instincts, the boy was trying to climb out of his crib again.” He stopped his wheelchair and handed CJ to Ben. Ben hugged the boy and passed him to Alec. Alec concentrated on his son… his son! and ignored Ben and Dean’s private conversation. Another father and son saying goodbye… no, ‘see you later.’ Alec would keep Ben alive for Dean. Dean would keep CJ alive and healthy. Alec squeezed CJ and scented his neck. CJ scented his neck in return. They were family, no matter what happened next. Reluctantly, Alec released CJ and handed the baby to Dean.

Dean took the baby but nabbed Alec’s neck while he was close. “Don’t be a stranger,” Dean ordered. “Don’t be an idjet. Listen to Ben, he knows the score.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dean grinned at him. “Go give them hell.”

(next)
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