Title: Meg and Benny's Excellent Adventure
Pairings/Warnings: Meg/Castiel, implied Meg/Jimmy Novak, mentions of Sam/Amelia, show-level violence
Summary: Meg and Benny go on a roadtrip. Pretexting, hunting, LARPing, and bickering over music in the car ensue.
The problem with teleporting somewhere one didn’t already know firsthand meant one landed somewhere random in the location. When a demon was heading for Australia, she could land on the roof of the Sydney Opera House – or in the middle of a greyhound racetrack.
The dogs howled and veered off the track when she appeared. Angry shouts and expletives exploded from the stands. Meg leaped over the one dog who stayed on course and vanished again mid-air.
She reappeared outside of the racing stadium and took a moment to collect herself.
She remembered Castiel in scrubs and his tan overcoat, talking about angry dogs chasing a rabbit and thinking only in ovals. That’s why she was here. For Castiel.
She flipped open Claire’s notebook and scanned the details of the first lead. She read the name of her first target and swore. When she fired up her phone and she saw she had no service. Damn.
Then she turned around and popped right back into Claire’s apartment.
Claire spun around, handgun at the ready.
The invisible steel walls of a devil’s trap closed around Meg in an instant. She rolled her eyes. Then she lifted the notebook and jabbed a finger at the first page of leads.
“Jesse Turner. The Antichrist? Are you insane?”
Claire didn’t answer the question. “Prove you’re really Meg.”
“I agreed to go on a crazy quest for my unicorn, and step one is killing The Antichrist?”
Claire de-cocked the gun and holstered it. Then she knelt and broke the devil’s trap. “I thought you said you understood what we were doing and that you were in.”
“I can’t go after the Antichrist alone,” Meg said. She stepped out of the devil’s trap.
“I can’t be your backup,” Claire replied, gaze steely.
Meg was reminded of standing back-to-back with the best comrade-in-arms she’d ever had, watching Leviathans close in to the whistled strains of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” She shook the memory aside. “You’re crazy. If an angel can’t take on the Antichrist, do you think a demon could?”
Claire drew herself up to her full height. “You’re not just any demon. You can cause pain for even the King of Hell. You survived Purgatory for a year.”
Meg eyed her shrewdly. “You took a gamble, opening the portal like you did. Why did you even think I survived?”
“You crawled out of Hell three times, each time on your own. You managed to possess Sam Winchester for a whole week when Lucifer couldn’t even do it for twenty-four hours. With a single thought and flick of your wrist you had Crowley cowering like a whipped dog.” Claire knelt and fixed her devil’s trap. A silver clasp on a chain gleamed at the nape of her neck. “If anyone can complete this task, it’s you.” Then she smiled faintly. “With me to guide you, at any rate.”
“Some guide you are,” Meg spat, “sending me after the Antichrist. Remember Christ in the Bible, exorcising demons with a single word, raising the dead, turning water into wine, making entire planets? Think of someone just as powerful, and just as evil as Jesus was perfect.”
“It doesn’t have to be the Antichrist if you can find another similar creature,” Claire said. “He was the only one I could think of, and the only one I had leads on.”
Meg blinked at her. “Seriously? In all the history of all the world, the only cambion you could think of was Jesse Turner, teenaged Antichrist and terrifying even to a demon who crawled out of Hell three times?”
Claire looked taken aback at Meg’s sarcasm. “Hardly anyone else even knows that Jesse Turner could properly be called a cambion.”
Meg pushed past Claire and marched down the hall to Claire’s bedroom. “Aren’t children required to read in school anymore?”
Claire hurried to follow her. “I’m pretty sure I’d remember if I read about a cambion.”
Meg scanned Claire’s bookshelves. Then she grabbed a battered paperback and flung it at Claire. She automatically turtled back to avoid the impact, caught the thing right before it could hit her in the chest and wind her. Then she turned it over and stared at it. “The Mammoth Book of Merlin?”
“Merlin the wizard,” Meg said, “is a cambion.”
Claire blinked at the book’s cover, baffled. “This was Mom’s. She’s always had a thing for Arthurian legends. She used to call Dad Galahad. I never bothered to read it, but I kept it in case she ever wanted to, you know, read it again.”
“Pretty sure Merlin’s who everyone thinks of first when the subject of a cambion comes up,” Meg said. She crossed the room and sat at Claire’s desk, prodded her ancient laptop to life. “What’s your password?”
“I’m not telling you. Also, Merlin isn’t real,” Claire said.
Meg fixed her with a withering glare. “I can see why Castiel stuck with Daddy as a vessel. Wouldn’t want to hamper the holy ministry on Earth with a vessel that’s slow in the head, would he?”
“I figured out how to get you out of Purgatory, didn’t I?”
“Would I be so frustrated that you hadn’t thought of Merlin if (a) he weren’t a real person and (b) he weren’t an actual cambion?” Meg poised her hands over the keys, waiting. While her meatsuit had been desperate to become an actress, she’d had the sense to acquire some useful skills, like secretarial-speed typing, to keep herself alive till she got her big break.
Claire crossed the room, put the book back on the shelf, and batted Meg’s hands aside. She typed in her password, what seemed like a string of random letters, numbers, and symbols, and then opened her browser. Her home page was, naturally, Livejournal.
Meg stared at the familiar image, scanned words she’d read earlier that night. Was it really only earlier that night? Then she typed in “merlin cambion” on Google and glared at the top hits. Twilight? What did Twilight have to do with either Merlin or cambions in general?
Stupid sparkly vampires. Had to kill them on principal. Benny was a real vampire.
Meg pushed him aside in her mind and drummed her fingers on the table top. Then she shook her head, rose up. “I’m going to check out some leads on Merlin. Do some research for me – find any cambion omens. I’m crossing the pond.”
“Glad we could have this conversation in person,” Claire said, and once again, Meg vanished in a whiff of sulfur.
Meg went from Wales, UK to an island in the Mediterranean rumored to be the last of the Atlantean Archipelago and possible home of Caliban, a cambion from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. She spoke to many a local, possessed a few who refused to talk to her, and flitted back to civilization to steal free wifi from that Starbucks in Boston and check in with Claire.
By the time fall break ended, Meg knew more than she’d ever wanted about cambions (the mere mention of them made even the Knights of Hell shudder). Claire was exhausted and grumpy and only speaking English half of the time after reading so many primary sources in Latin. Amelia Novak was none the wiser. Meg stopped by Broceliande Forest, the legendary burial place of Merlin. Apart from some woefully uneducated wiccans dancing naked in the moonlight, the forest held nothing of note, so Meg moved on.
The best sources seemed to agree that Merlin Ambrosius was entirely made up by Geoffrey of Monmouth, and that the true Merlin was Myrddin Wyllt, a madman and a prophet.
Meg, curled up in a corner of an abandoned warehouse in Phoenix, listened to Claire speaking quietly on the other end of their call so as not to alert her mother. Meg had had to listen as Claire lied to her mother and told her what a wonderful time she had in the cabin with Ina and her grandmother, who, despite the temperature, roasted an entire pig island style and tried in vain to teach Claire how to hula. Then she had to listen to Claire yawning every other sentence.
“So, assuming Merlin the cambion as you know him wasn’t who he was made up to be to make Monmouth feel better about his lousy writing, then Wales is key,” Claire said. She yawned yet again. Apparently her mother strongly disapproved of coffee and Claire wasn’t allowed to have it while she was home.
“I’ve already been to Wales,” Meg said.
“Keep looking.” And Claire disconnected.
Meg stared down at her phone, disgusted, and resisted the urge to teleport to where she knew Claire was, give her mother a heart attack, and then give the girl a piece of her mind to boot.
But Claire was right. They’d exhausted all of the possibilities from the ancient literature. Assuming Merlin was even still alive – and Meg was assuming, because someone would have mentioned it if he appeared Down Below – he wasn’t hanging around the Old Country. He’d been capable of traveling great distances long before airplanes. He could be, literally, anywhere. Demons, like humans, enjoyed symbolism and patterns. If he wasn’t in Wales itself, he was somewhere like it. Or somewhere with the same name. Naturally, there were thirteen other municipalities in the world called “Wales”, and Meg had to check every one of them. None of them, according to Claire, had manifested cambion omens. In fact, no cambion omens had occurred anywhere in the world since Jesse Turner.
Meg sighed, packed up her gear, and headed for the first alternate Wales on the list, which was in South Yorkshire, England. Castiel had damn well better be grateful when all this was said and done. Meg was done with ingratitude from the people she’d rescued.
Wales, Utah was probably the most similar to Wales, the country, if only because the sheep seemed to greatly outnumber the people. Meg was walking along Highway 132, greatly regretting her own dedication to this particular cause, when her phone rang.
She fished it out of her pocket. Claire never called with good news. The last good news Meg had heard was that she didn’t have to go after the Antichrist alone. She wasn’t sure she wanted to face down a regular cambion alone either. Claire’s good news would probably involve going after just the Antichrist’s adoptive mother or something equally suicidal.
“What now, Mini Vessel?” Dean always had quippy nicknames for people. Meg was trying a new one on Claire with each phone call. Claire was surprisingly long suffering about the trend.
Meg stopped in her tracks. “Benny?”
He chuckled. His voice, velvety smooth and baritone, was hoarse with overuse. Vampires didn’t get colds. What had happened to him? “Turns out I’m not the emo vampire you thought I was,” he said. “But I’m in a bit of a pickle, and I was wondering if you still thought of us as us, and whether you could come help me out.”
Meg hadn’t been lying. She couldn’t take the Antichrist on without backup. She was hesitant to take on even a lesser cambion without backup. More than once, she’d found herself humming “In the Hall of the Mountain King” as she wandered along rural roads. “Where are you?”
“Lebanon, Kansas. I thought this was the place to find Dean, but he isn’t here. Others of his kind are, though. They’re a little less open-minded about my kind.” Benny’s tone was calm, unhurried.
Too calm for a vampire with hunters on his tail. If Meg came to his rescue, she’d be walking into a trap. “What are your coordinates?”
Benny echoed, “Coordinates?” He paused. Anyone else would assume he was calculating them. Instead he was waiting for his captors to provide them.
He rattled them off, and Meg nodded, said she’d been on her way there to check on him and would be there in a few hours (no doubt his captors were listening to the entire conversation). She didn’t go straight to the coordinates. But she teleported close by.
An abandoned farmhouse on the outskirts of a rural town. So unoriginal. Sadly, most monsters were stupid, so hunters who borrowed from the Winchester playbook could get by. The Winchesters hadn’t written the playbook, though – they’d learnt from other older, more experienced hunters. Some of the newest crop of hunters could stand to learn from the actual written Winchester playbooks, or they wouldn’t have relied solely on anti-vampire defenses.
Meg shinned up a pipe next to one of the windows with inhuman agility and peeked through the dusty, broken glass. The hunters were, predictably, white males of the unwashed, flannel-wearing variety. Benny knelt in a circle of them. They were posed like the worst flannel rainbow ever, pointing a dozen silver weapons at Benny’s head.
Just a dozen? These boys really hadn’t done their homework.
“What now?” one of the younger ones asked.
“Keep an eye on him. We’ll set up a perimeter. Spring loaded dart guns with dead man’s blood,” the oldest said. At his nod, two other men peeled away from the group guarding Benny and started toward a stack of duffel bags in the corner, no doubt containing an arsenal designed to fend off a vampire nest. Benny’s nest was dead.
For two seconds Meg wondered why he hadn’t rescued himself, and then she remembered he didn’t like killing humans. He’d been willing to end a hunter before, but that was just one hunter, and one Dean already disliked as it was. A dozen hunters, including a kid who would probably remind Dean of baby Sammy, was another story.
“How much time have we got?” one of the hunters asked.
“Assuming she was lying –” the old man said.
The other hunters made a variety of animalistic sounds of derision. Of course monsters lied.
“An hour, tops. Vampires move faster than humans, after all. So if she’s three hours out at the most, cut the time in half. And assume she’s bringing others with her.” The old man loaded a shotgun with practiced ease.
The young, Sammy-reminiscent one, sneered at Benny. “They think we’re so stupid, that we’ll believe their lies. No vampire can withstand the desire for human blood for very long.”
“Yeah. That’s only in books,” said another hunter who was a brother or a cousin, judging by their similar facial features.
A smattering of snickers ran through the crowd. Someone mentioned Twilight, and there was more laughter.
“Blood bank donations my ass,” the kid said.
Meg had heard enough. She shinned back down the drainpipe, headed over to one of the cars – a gleaming black muscle car – and set down her backpack. She fished out her weapons – Purgatory axe, hunting knife – and armed herself. Then she straightened up, squared her shoulders, and headed for the barn doors. She borrowed a bit of drama and threw the double doors open, Aragorn at Helm’s Deep style.
Cries of alarm rang out, but the hunters weren’t total idiots, and Meg was staring down the business end of myriad firearms when she stepped into the barn.
She flashed them her brightest, most disturbing smile. “Guess I was already in the neighborhood. Heya, Benny. How’s tricks?”
“Meg.” He inclined his head politely, all Southern charm even while a hostage to murderous hunters. He was so old-fashioned. “As you can see, tricks aren’t so good right now.”
“The correct response is ‘silly rabbit, Trix are for kids’, but I’ll let it slide since that was both before and after your time.”
The kid blinked sweat out of his eyes. “How did you get here so fast?”
Meg cocked her head at him. “What are they teaching you youngsters in hunting school these days? I teleported.”
She enjoyed the confusion that crossed the hunters’ faces for two seconds before she let her eyes flicker black.
Expletives littered the air.
“Demon!” the old man shouted. The men stared in horror.
With a flick of her hand, Meg swept them aside. Then she was across the barn and tugging Benny to his feet. “Hey, partner. So nice to hear from you after all these weeks. What have you been up to?”
Benny eyed her axe. “Not killing humans. I ain’t about to start now.”
She arched her eyebrow at him. “I don’t have the same moral compass as you, Louis. As your new friends pointed out – demon. So, want to stay and fight?”
“I don’t want to kill anybody,” Benny said.
Meg sighed and holstered her axe. “I didn’t say we’d have to.”
“Fisticuffs? With humans? We spent a year fighting off Leviathans. This would be about as interesting as watching a pot boil.”
Meg grinned at him. “C’mon. You know you kind of miss it. Think of it as a warm-up to the challenges ahead. Defeat a dozen humans, no killing allowed.”
The hunters climbed to their feet, shook themselves out. Some headed for the weapon bags. They’d come armed for vampires, but they’d be fools not to be prepared for other monsters as well.
What followed next was beautifully controlled chaos. Baby hunter fired a dart. Dead man’s blood did nothing to Meg. She blinked across the room in a whiff of sulfur, punched the kid in the face. Benny lashed out, caught a man across the jaw. It was on.
The hunters were smart, tried to back Meg and Benny into a corner to overwhelm them with the number advantage. Meg let them think they were winning. Then she teleported herself and Benny out of the corner and started throwing punches at the rear ranks. On earth, combat was messier. Lesser opponents required lesser skill, and Meg was sloppy. That annoyed her. Knowing she was uncoordinated, winging punches and missing openings annoyed her even more. She missed it, the perfect cadence of defeating Leviathans.
One of the hunters got smart, spray-painted a devil’s trap behind the rear ranks to catch Meg when she teleported out of the corner again.
The hunter wasn’t smart enough. A few verses of Latin, a blast of power, and the devil’s trap broke. The fear and shock on the hunter’s face was invigorating. Benny, who’d hovered near Meg to protect her while she was trapped, let out a whistle of admiration and then dove back into the fray.
Just to be contrary, Meg pinned a couple of hunters to the walls with her telekinesis while Benny toyed with half a dozen more. They’d circled him like high school thugs at a schoolyard brawl, but they were unprepared for how fast and vicious he was. Any other hunters who tried to join the brawl were gently swept aside by Meg.
Then Baby Hunter said, “Grandpa, wait.”
Of course the old man was called Grandpa. “Not now, Johnny.”
“It’s Juan,” the boy said automatically. His expression turned pleading. He’d made a circle of salt to stand in, and he straightened up, raised his hands in a gesture of surrender. “Grandpa – they haven’t killed us. I don’t think they want to kill us. Maybe if we stop –”
“They’re monsters,” Grandpa snarled. “They’ll never stop.”
“Kid’s right, though,” Benny said. He parried a weak punch. “We haven’t even started, so you can’t say we’ll never stop.”
Grandpa looked unconvinced by a monster’s logic. Meg tossed her head, pinned another determined hunter to the wall. “Enough is enough,” she said. “We’ve had our fun. Let’s be on our way.”
Juan’s older brother dragged a fist over his mouth, wiped away blood from one of Benny’s well-placed punches. “Where the hell would you go?”
Meg flicked black eyes at him again. “Hi. I’m a demon. I can teleport. Anywhere I want. And where I want to go is away from here.” She lifted her chin at Benny. “You were right. This is boring.” She offered a hand like Mr. Darcy inviting Lizzie Bennet to dance.
“You said this would be just a warm-up.” Benny raised his eyebrows at her. “What’s coming?”
“You’ll see. But not here.” Meg was across the barn in an instant. She clapped a hand on Benny’s shoulder, and the scent of sulfur exploded in the air around her. In her wake, she could hear Juan shouting after her.
“Why didn’t you kill us?”
She landed them just outside the barn where she’d hidden her backpack. Benny stumbled, disoriented at the sudden discombobulation and reconstitution process of the molecules of his entire being. Meg scooped up her backpack, cast a sharp glance at Benny.
“Got your feet, sailor?”
He nodded. “That’s a hell of a lot faster than driving. Or flying.”
“Any supplies we need to get?”
Benny stared at the barn for a long moment, then shook his head. “There’s nothing for me here.”
Meg clapped a hand on his arm again. “Okay.”
They landed right where Meg had left off of, on the side of Highway 132 heading for Wales, Utah.
Benny looked sick this time. Meg took a big step back in case he decided to hurl up some blood, but besides him doubling over and making terrible retching sounds, nothing happened.
“I’d heard traveling Angel Air constipates some humans,” Meg said. “I didn’t think Demon Air would make vampires air sick.”
“I’ll take vomit over constipation any day.” Benny straightened up, clearing his throat. Meg reached into her backpack and handed him a bottle of ordinary water. She could have it blessed in a pinch. It wasn’t as if she needed to drink the stuff herself.
Benny accepted the bottle with a grateful bob of his head and turned away to rinse out his mouth. Why he bothered turning away to spit was a bit of a mystery to Meg, who understood that what he was doing was gentlemanly behavior, but they’d killed monsters together. She’d seen him ram his club through a Leviathan’s chest and rip it out the top of the creature’s skull. A little swishing and spitting was hardly uncouth by comparison.
“So, we’re hunting a cambion,”Meg said. “We need to cut its heart out.”
Benny choked. He spun around to face her, eyes wide. “What? Why?”
Meg grinned. “To do a spell. Now come on. Let’s go find a motel.” She resumed marching in the direction of Ephraim, the largest municipality in the county.
“Why a motel?”
“We need somewhere to stay while we do research,” Meg said. “Are you in?”
“In for what?”
Meg told him.