[identity profile] nagi-schwarz.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] nagi_fic

Title: Meg and Benny's Excellent Adventure
Author: [livejournal.com profile] nagi_schwarz
Artist: [livejournal.com profile] ms_doomandgloom
Fandom: Supernatural
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.



Chapter Ten



Benny stared down at the unicorn notebook, pale, shocked. He was perched on the corner of his motel bed and looked liable to topple off of it like a felled tree any moment.

“So a teenage girl hired you to hunt a half-demon, who’s basically the Antichrist, and cut out his heart so you can heal her mother?”

Meg snatched the notebook from his limp grasp and turned to her own note section. Compared to Claire, her handwriting looked positively schoolmarm-ish. “Actually, we need the heart of a cambion, the kiss of a succubus, and the ichor of a demon to reverse a single action of a single archangel, in this case Metatron, and restore Castiel’s grace so Castiel can heal Claire’s mother.”

Benny buried his face in one hand. He was unmoving, unbreathing. If Meg didn’t know better, she’d have thought he’d died then and there. But then he lifted his head, peered at her from between his fingers.

“What’s a succubus kiss, anyway?”

“Not sure.” Meg waggled her phone at him. “As it turns out, a cupid’s bow is on its hand. So maybe a succubus kiss also some kind of body part.”

“Did your phone tell you that? That kind of thing is on, what are the kids calling it these days, Google?” Benny straightened up, surprised.

Meg smirked. “Nope. It was in Supernatural.”

Benny sighed and shook his head. “Of course it was. How did this Claire kid know how to find you, anyway?”

“She also read the books, which contained the spell to open Purgatory, the ingredients to power the spell, and the fact that I ended up there.”

“And I was just along for the ride?”

“Kind of like Dean and Cas riding Dick to Purgatory.”

Benny’s expression twisted, like a father seeing his daughter kiss a boy for the first time.

Meg rewound her most recent string of words, replayed it in her head. “Right. That came out dirtier than I intended. Bet there’s fanfiction out there for it, though.”

Benny buried his face in his hands again. “You’re insane.”

“Hi, I’m Meg. I’m a demon.”

“Being a demon does not excuse the majority of your behavior, you realize.” Benny’s voice was muffled.

Meg flopped back on the bed – stiff as a board, not as light as a feather, and covered with a floral bedspread to match walls that had been papered out of a Victorian florist catalogue. She was pretty sure not even the Winchesters had stayed somewhere so ugly. “So are you in or not?”

“Do I have to kill any humans?”

“Pretty sure Claire would frown upon that,” Meg said. Claire hadn’t specifically forbidden Meg from killing any mortals, but that would probably negate the purity of the sacrifice of going on a noble quest to save an angel so he could heal a favored mortal. Although if the books were anything to go by, Amelia Novak hadn’t been a favored mortal as much as she’d been collateral damage. “Strictly monsters. Besides, do you have anything better to do other than getting jumped by mildly incompetent inbred gangs of hunters?”

“I haven’t killed a single human,” Benny said, “but being topside hasn’t been easy.”

Meg tilted her head up enough to arch an eyebrow at him. “Has it been easier than Purgatory?”

“Well, slower-paced.”

“Then shut up.” Meg sat up. “We need better supplies than my phone and my sad little hunting pack. We need a better phone for you, a laptop or a tablet, and some more weapons for you. And maybe a car. Do you want a car?”

“Why do I need a better phone? Or a car? You can teleport.”

Meg cast him a withering look. “I can see why Dean liked you. He likes them dumb.”

Benny threw his empty water bottle at her.

She batted it aside with ease. “Humans will be weirded out by us teleporting,” she said. “Also, a smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop will make our research more efficient. We can both research at the same time. And I can show you Star Wars, as well. What do you say, Rufus?”

Benny had been nodding his agreement right up until that last sentence. “Who’s Rufus?”

“If we’re going to be LARPing as hunters, I’m totally playing Bobby.”

“What the hell is LARPing?”

“Surprisingly enough, not something thought up in Hell. Humans are an inventive lot.” Meg raised her eyebrows at him. “So, hunting? Are you with me? Gonna be my Sammy, my wing man?”

“I sure as hell ain’t that –”

“Yes you are. Both so packed full of angst. If someone smushed both your souls into one person, that person would cry himself to death.” Meg grinned at him when he scowled at her. “C’mon. Dean would love you forever if you fixed his BFF angel.”

Benny continued to scowl at her. “If I’m doing this, it won’t be for Dean.”

“For me? I’m flattered.”

“Not you, either.”

Meg flapped a careless hand at him. “Whatever. So, listen up. This is the plan.” It was better for Benny if he joined his quest for himself. She wasn’t his wife or his shrink, though. If he couldn’t figure that out on his own, when they were done she’d let him cry himself to death.

claire_s_patches_2_by_msdoomandgloom-d8hfig1

The plan wasn’t terribly glamorous. In fact, it was downright boring. Meg had suffered through a lot of boring on Claire Novak’s behalf. Occasionally Meg called and left long, rambling complaints on Claire’s voicemail.

“How did you learn so much about cars?” Benny asked under cover of sipping some hot cocoa.

Meg waggled her phone at him absently. They’d walked over to the Wal-mart in Ephraim to get a better phone for Benny, a laptop, a tablet, and some simple “sporting goods” supplies to convert into a basic hunting kit for him. Then they’d headed to a garage in town and purchased an old, beat-up 1969 Mustang coupe, which they drove as far as Wales before it broke down.

A kindly elderly mechanic towed them into the town itself (population 227) and let them have complimentary hot cocoa and seats at the little table outside the convenience store attached to his garage. It was the only gas station/convenience store in town. In fact, it was the only commercial business in town besides the post office. The mechanic, Loren, told them it was brand new, had only opened a couple of years ago, and everyone in town stopped by eventually on their way to or from work. Wales was all houses and farms, a fire station, cemetery, and library. There was no park, and no other shops or restaurants.

There was a lot of sheep to be had.

“The library might be more comfortable for you folks,” Loren’s wife, Grace, said. She stood in the doorway of the garage wearing an apron and curlers and fretting.

Meg waggled her phone at Grace. “My friend and I both have research to do. I guess our car couldn’t have broken down at a more convenient time. We can get some work done, uninterrupted.”

Grace wrung her hands. “You sure you don’t need an afghan or something? The days are getting cold.”

“We’re fine, thank you, ma’am,” Benny said. He cast Meg another unreadable look, part admiration, part disbelief. She wasn’t actually a genius when it came to cars. She’d managed to kill the car in just the right spot because she’d hooked up a killswitch in the thing. It had sputtered and died up the road within viewing distance of Loren’s garage. Meg removed the killswitch transmitter under cover of poking ineffectually at the engine and let the age of the car do the rest. Now she had an endless supply of hot cocoa and time to research the spell Claire thought she ought to use.

Benny was on succubus duty, trawling police reports for any patterns of succubus activity. Meg made him read “Sex and Violence” first.

“It’s about sirens, not succubuses,” he protested after scanning the plot overview.

“Succubi,” she said, shaking her head. Kids these days who didn’t learn Latin. “And also, succubi and sirens have very similar MO’s. Except for the part where sirens are mutants and succubi are demons. So read. And then find.”

She couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when he realized that Dean’s siren was the ultimate (white, male) hunting partner and Sam’s was a hot female doctor. And that there would be details about Sam and the hot doctor.

Claire was right, though. Information on the demon-killing spell defigere et depurgare was pretty scant, but it involved a hex bag and an incantation known only by the creating witch who, according to the website, died sometime back in the seventeenth century. In Scotland. Meg pursed her lips. Scotland. Witch. Seventeenth century. Crowley once mentioned his mother was a witch. Could the creator of this demon-killing spell, this Rowena, be his mother? No. There were plenty of witches running around back then, and why would she have created a spell to kill demons when her own son was one?

Unlike the heart of a virgin spell Ruby once recommended, the spell Claire was suggesting sounded like the best bet. After all, all demons in the blast radius – including, say, the demon who did the spell – would be blasted back to Hell. According to the most recent email from Claire, defigere et depurgare would turn a demon into ichor instead of simply sending his smoke careening back to hell.

Meg emailed back, inquiring how Claire knew that even though the internet was completely devoid of all such resources.

Claire replied that there was a new prophet in town, and she’d made friends with said prophet.

Meg blinked at the laptop screen for two seconds, then whipped out her cell phone and called Claire. It went straight to voicemail, but seeing how it was the middle of the day and Claire was a college student, Meg shouldn’t have been surprised. “Hey, Feathers Junior. Call me about your new friend,” Meg said, “and see if your friend can’t save us from sitting here all day.”

Sitting there all day wasn’t just sitting there. Benny was folded into his peacoat on the chair opposite Meg, his hot cocoa mostly untouched but for when Meg filched sips of it. He tapped cautiously at the screen of the tablet Meg had bought for him, reading a Supernatural book all on his own. Meg glanced at him occasionally, waiting for the moment when the realization hit, and set about researching cambion omens.

Claire had come up empty, since the only cambions she knew of were Jesse Turner, who had used his power childishly when it manifested, Caliban from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, who was, as far as Google was concerned, a fictional character, and Merlin, who was also mostly made up. Meg was a demon, however, and since a cambion was half-demon, cambion omens would be similar to a demon’s.

“Need a top-up on that cocoa?” Grace appeared in the doorway, still wearing an apron over her house dress, though the curlers were gone./

Benny looked up, blinked, then glanced down at his empty mug. Meg favored Grace with a sunny smile. “Why, yes please. Thank you so much.” She nudged both of their mugs within easy reach of Grace’s teapot.

Grace reached into her apron pocket and handed Meg a little packet of marshmallows. “To sweeten things up,” she said, and smiled knowingly, tipping her head in Benny’s direction.

“Thanks,” Meg said, because she adored junk food and could indulge in it as much as she wanted.

Loren poked his head out of the garage, hollered for Benny to come look at the mess that was the engine. He did that occasionally, assuming that Benny, as the male in the partnership, was responsible for all things automotive. Benny apparently knew enough about engines from his sailing days to be able to nod and make agreeing sounds in all the right places, for Loren hadn’t stopped calling on him.

“I can’t believe you let your little lady buy this clunker,” Loren said, scratching his head and leaving streaks of grease across his bald pate.

Benny chuckled. “I don’t let her do much,” he said.

Grace leaned in toward Meg, lowered her voice. “How long have you and Benny been together?”

“We met about a year ago,” Meg said. “Some men attacked me, and Benny saved me.” It was both a truth and an untruth.

Grace pressed a hand to her throat. “You poor thing! It was such good fortune, then, that Benny was there.” She rested her hip against the door jamb, still holding the kettle. “So, what are you two doing out here?”

“We’re traveling the country together, collecting urban legends,” Meg said. She’d seen that excuse used by Sam and Dean in books before, and people bought it.

Grace laughed. “We’re not very urban here.”

“Not just urban legends,” Meg said. “Also local folklore. Americans seem to think folklore belongs only to the old country or the Natives, but America has its own legends, and we’re trying to compile them into one comprehensive narrative.” Thank you, random fanfiction writer who was a literature major and who took her fandom to work.

“That’s really impressive,” Grace said. “Found anything good so far?”

Meg nodded. “Lots. Demons, vampires, werewolves, angels.”

Grace looked alarmed. “Demons?”

“There are legends,” Meg said, “about places across America that are actually gates to Hell.”

“Be careful,” Grace said. “If you go meddling too much with that business – well, it comes meddling with you.”

Right. Utah. Small town, conservative Christians. “It’s just research, ma’am,” Meg said, keeping her tone light and friendly. “We want to know what stories people tell. Like this town – used to be a coal mining town, right? Called Wales for all the Welsh miners who settled here. Are there any legends about the mines?”

The question was the right one to ask. While Benny hunkered down and fought off expressions of dawning realization and horror as he progressed through his ebook, Grace summoned many of her neighbors and friends to come tell Meg any local stories they’d heard from their parents and grandparents. If anyone stopped by the convenience store to buy gas or pick up supplies, Grace waved them over to join the conversation. Meg took notes on the laptop, because she had to sell the story, but she was also listening for any signs of cambion presence.

And she was counting off in her head every person she met, counting down from the population total. She pressed out subtly with her gifts, checking for any demonic auras in the polite, friendly caucasian men and women who came over to say hello to the youngsters passing through, but so far all of them were human.

Benny finished the book by the time lunchtime rolled around and shoved it aside. He cast Meg a few glares, which she answered with smirks and grins from behind her mug of hot cocoa. Grace brought them some chicken salad sandwiches, homemade pumpkin cookies, and carrot sticks. Benny insisted on paying her, but she said she didn’t mind because she didn’t usually have company, and the store was generally quiet all day, and conversation with Meg was payment enough.

While they ate – Benny slowly, cautiously, Meg with gusto – Grace asked them about their plans for the future. Benny looked alarmed. Meg contemplated the best way to sanitize the killing of someone Grace probably thought as a friend and neighbor. Benny darted Meg a pointed look, which she couldn’t quite read, because she was distracted.

There, by one of the pumps, was a tall, slender, long-legged boy who looked barely older than nineteen. He had glossy dark hair, cheekbones that could cut glass, and bright, bright blue eyes.

He looked like Merlin.

Not Merlin with the long white beard, blue robe, and star-spangled pointy hat. Like Merlin the kid who popped up as the first hit on Google when one typed “Merlin” into the search bar. He wasn’t so brazen as to be wearing the brown jacket, blue shirt, and bright red scarf, but it was definitely him.

Him, the cambion, not him, the actor. There was no good reason for the actor to be hanging around Wales, Utah. It was entirely within reason, however, that Myrddin Wyllt, the cambion, would take on the appearance of the most recent incarnation of his namesake as a subtle statement of ego and twisted amusement. In this small town of farmers and retirees, probably no one recognized him, and he could enjoy his joke openly.

Benny stomped on her foot, hard, dragging her back into the conversation with Grace. “I don’t know, Meg. What do you think about children?”

“Cute from a distance and while unconscious, messy and obnoxious up close, best baked into a muffin, why?” She turned back to look at him and kicked him in the ankle, jerked her head in Merlin’s direction.

Grace looked horrified.

Benny glanced at Merlin, confused.

Meg replayed her words, realized her demonic humor was lost on humans, and flashed Grace a reassuring smile. “Just kidding. I can’t have kids, so I guess I don’t think about it much.”

Immediately Grace’s horror melted into sympathy, and she patted Meg on the hand. “Poor dear. Well, it’s a good thing you have Benny looking out for you.”

Meg resisted the urge to snatch her hand back. “Benny and I look out for each other.”

Grace patted her hand again. “Of course you do, dear. Feminists these days.”

Meg craned her neck to peer around Grace. The cambion was still pumping gas into his beat-up pick-up truck.

Grace must have noticed her distraction, for she followed Meg’s gaze. When she saw the cambion, her face lit up.

“Walt! C’mon over here. We have tourists.”

He looked up, blinked. Meg tugged her demon powers down, down, down, hoped she portrayed human or, at the very worst, witch as much as possible.

“Walt” finished filling his car and replaced the gas nozzle, closed his gas tank. Then he jammed his hands into his jacket pockets and ambled over. His expression was friendly and open. If Meg hadn’t known what he was, she’d have thought him adorable. Expendable, breakable, but adorable.

“Hey, Grace.” He had a bland American accent.

“Walt’s ancestors came over here with the original pioneer settlement,” Grace said, “but his parents moved away before he was born. Now he’s back and reviving the family homestead.”

Meg offered a hand, left her handshake weak. “Walt? That’s not a name I hear for kids our age these days.”

He ducked his head, blushing, and he was like a male Snow White, all dark hair and pale skin, ruby-red lips. “My mom liked Disney, and I had big ears even as a baby –” He tugged on one ear ruefully. “So I guess I’m just thankful I avoided being named Mickey Mouse.”

It was a cute story, but he’d picked Walt because Wyllt was a little too unusual to go unnoticed by, say, a hunter with a research streak the size of Sam Winchester.

“This is Meg and Benny,” Grace said, and Benny offered his hand as well.

Meg watched Merlin for any signs of discomfort, of noticing how cold Benny’s skin was, but if Merlin noticed what Benny was, he gave no sign.

“Pleasure to meet you,” he said, and he still sounded utterly sincere. Meg could have detected insincerity in an instant if she dared to reach out with her powers, but that was a terrible idea, because when he was this close, she could feel power rolling off of him in waves. How could no one else sense it? Even the most third eye blind idiot would have been able to sense the magic inherent in him.

Benny was either seriously insensitive to the supernatural or a supernal actor, because his smile was equally polite. “You too.” He practically oozed southern charm. “Everyone in your town has been so hospitable.”

“It’s our home, and we’re proud of it.” Merlin stepped back, tucked his hands into his pockets again. “We’re always glad when others are willing to call it home, too, even if only briefly. So, what brings you through these parts?”

“We’re researchers,” Benny said. “Folklorists by trade. Looking to learn about some of America’s best-kept legends.”

Amusement lit in Merlin’s eyes. “I see. And you thought Wales, Utah was the place to come?”

“Actually, my little lady has mildly terrible taste in cars and ours broke down nearby. Loren and Grace have been kind enough to put us up while the thing gets fixed.” Benny smiled at Meg with an unexpected softness, and she floundered momentarily.

But she recovered herself and said, “Grace has also been telling me all about the legends people have around here, about the coal mines and all. I’ve noticed that a lot of the local legends are transplants from the old country, but with modern twists.” Briefly, she met Merlin’s gaze.

The amusement in his eyes took on a darker gleam. “That’s true. For all that America claims to be a melting pot, it takes its various heritages very seriously. Take my family. Also from Wales, like so many others here. They say that some of the ancestors who came over weren’t good Christian pioneers at all, that they were druids carrying on the ancient traditions of Laloken, Taliesin, and Myrddin, and that one of these coal mines houses a portal to Avalon where, if the proper price is paid, one can awaken King Arthur.”

Grace swatted him on the arm. “I’ve never heard that one before. How long have you been hiding that little gem?”

Merlin shrugged and ducked his head, bashful, and that gleam in his eyes was gone. “You know my grandparents, so proud of crossing the plains with the other pioneers. Pretty sure they didn’t want rumors of paganism ruining their second lease on life.”

Grace beamed at Meg. “Won’t that make a lovely addition to your book?”

“Indeed it will,” Meg said. She’d dutifully typed notes on the laptop to avoid Merlin’s gaze. Did he know what they were, who they were, why they were there? Was that why he’d mentioned his legendary alter ego? Or was that just his ego talking, like his face and his name?

“Hope your car is fixed soon,” Merlin said. He nodded politely at Grace. “I’d better get to class.” And he headed back to his truck.

“Class?” Benny asked.

“He’s a student at Snow College. It’s just over in Manti,” Grace said.

“What’s he studying?” Meg feigned an expression of interest.

“History, I think. He really is such a nice young man. Shame about his parents, though. He was quite young when they passed.” Grace nudged Meg in the shoulder with her elbow. “You two have been together for a year, you say? And Benny hasn’t popped the question yet?”

Meg choked on a mouthful of hot cocoa, burned her throat for an instant before her demonic power soothed the pain away.

It was Benny’s turn to smirk.

“Um –” Meg floundered.

Grace flapped a hand at her. “I know, you’re one of those modern feminists, and marriage is so old-fashioned, but young Benjamin is such a dedicated soul. He protects you, he shares your passions, he’s got that darling accent – you really couldn’t do better.”

“He’s a great cook, too,” Meg said. All those times Sam and Dean hadn’t been aware people thought they were a couple, she’d thought them stupid for being oblivious. As it turned out, when it was impossible for two people to be a couple, it was almost impossible to conceive of the notion that others might think they were a couple. She and Benny would never be a couple. “Makes a mean bowl of gumbo.”

Benny reached across the table, slid a hand over hers, gave it a fond squeeze. Meg was so shocked she froze and didn’t pull away, which worked out to her advantage. “Meg’s just the cautious type. Last two fellas she was with burned her pretty bad. I’m patient.” His smile was downright endearing.

Meg threw up in her mouth a little. Then she swallowed it down and smiled up at Grace as best as she could. “Benny and I are waiting for the right time is all.”

Grace clicked her tongue disapprovingly. “Well, don’t wait too long. Even a knight in shining armor doesn’t wait forever.”

Meg resisted the urge to point out that true knights in shining armor didn’t wait at all when they could exercise droit de seigneur. Instead she nodded. “Thanks.”

Grace glanced at her watch, and her eyebrows flew up to her graying hairline. “Goodness gracious! I better get inside and fix Loren some dinner. Would you two like to join us?”

Loren poked his head out of the garage. “Your car’s right about fixed up,” he said to Benny. “If’n you like, you could head over into Ephraim. They have real nice restaurants there.” He wagged his wrench at Benny. “You know, now that it’s fixed up, this car ain’t so bad. Slap a coat of paint on it, replace a few other parts, and she’ll purr like a kitten. Maybe your little lady doesn’t have such terrible taste in cars after all.”

“Thank you kindly,” Benny said. “How much do we owe you?” He started to reach for his wallet, then froze. He didn’t have nearly enough cash to cover such a large job. Good thing they’d gotten the car for a steal.

Meg rose up, drawing her wallet from her jacket smoothly as she went. “Indeed, how much?” Benny didn’t know enough about modern economics to start a credit card scam. He probably hadn’t been topside long enough to start one anyway even if he knew how.

Grace shook her head. “Feminists.”

Benny recovered quickly. “She does make more money than me.”

Meg drew a wad of cash out of her wallet, probably more than could conceivably fit in her wallet if one paid attention to conventional physics. Loren raised his eyebrows and told her his fee. Meg counted out the full amount plus a few extra dollars as a tip for the speedy work and hospitality. Loren and Grace saw them off from the doorway of the garage. Loren actually took off his cap and waved it at them as they departed.

“What kind of a car is this?” Benny asked.

Meg rolled her eyes. “Seriously? When did you cease being human, exactly?” She knew from the books that he’d been down in Purgatory for about fifty years. Fifty years back from 2013 was the 1950’s. “Were cars still like boats?”

“You have no place to mock,” Benny said. “Couldn’t you tell they thought we were together?”

“Of course we’re together – we’re a team,” Meg snapped. They didn’t need to get food. But they did need some anti-demon supplies. Bottled water to convert into holy water. Salt. Holy oil. Good thing this part of the country was loaded with conservative Christians. They had holy oil and holy water to spare.

“They think we’re dating and on our way to being married,” Benny corrected, and he had the temerity to laugh. “I can’t believe you didn’t notice.”

“And I can’t believe you didn’t notice,” Meg shot back.

Benny guided the car into the Wal-mart parking lot. “I thought we had enough supplies for hunting.”

“Basic hunting,” said Meg. “Not going after a full-on cambion.”

Benny cut the engine and they climbed out. After he locked the car, he tossed the keys to Meg, who caught them deftly. “Why didn’t we get it all at once?”

“I needed to see what we were going up against, which you didn’t notice.”

“But I did notice.”

“You did?”

“Yeah. You had Grace bring all the adults in town to you so you could meet them, talk to them, find out about them. It was a pretty good plan, but I don’t think we saw enough adults. Couldn’t you have broken the car enough for us to stick around for a few days?” Benny made for the automatic doors. He walked with his shoulders curled in and his chin ducked down into his collar so people wouldn’t look at him. He still didn’t think of himself as a person.

Meg smirked up at him. Despite their height difference, she could keep pace with him. After months of walking in Purgatory with him, she instinctively paced her strides to match his, three steps for every one of his two. “Then you didn’t notice.”

“Sure I did. The plan. Didn’t work.”

“Sure it did,” Meg said. “I found him.”

Benny raised his eyebrows. “Our mark?”

Meg nodded. “The cambion.”

Benny stopped in his tracks. “Who?”

“Walt.” She unlocked her phone, did a quick Google search, handed it to him. “Take a look.”

“Well, I’ll be. It’s Walt.” He prodded her phone cautiously. “He’s an actor who played Merlin on a TV show?”

“No,” Meg said. “The cambion made himself look like Merlin from the TV show. His own private joke.”

Benny started walking again, slowly. “So...what’s the plan?”

“He’s half demon, half human,” Meg said. “Theoretically he has all the benefits of demonhood – power – but all the benefits of humanity – immunity to typical demon barriers.”

“Then why did we come here to stock up on anti-demon supplies?” Benny kept his voice low.

“I said theoretically.”

Benny followed Meg toward the sporting goods section. “Are there any other cambions we could take on?”

“One that I know of. And he’s scarier than Merlin.”

“Who could be scarier than Merlin? He was the greatest wizard of all time. Bent time and space and all that.” Benny waved a hand vaguely. He probably hadn’t read the books either.

“The Antichrist,” Meg said flatly.

Again, Benny stopped in his tracks.

Meg prodded him into moving toward storage water tanks for camping. “So Merlin is our better bet. Trust me.”

“You keep breaking my world view,” Benny protested.

“You’re supposed to learn something new every day.” Meg grabbed one tank, directed Benny to take the other. Then she paused, changed her mind.

“Forget the tanks. We need CamelBaks,” she said.

Benny obeyed slowly. “Is that a demon power? Turning people into animals?”

Meg hefted one of the boxes at him. “No. It’s a handy human invention. For keeping people hydrated. One for holy water, one for holy oil. We can attach them to some super-soakers and, voila! Cambion-busters.” She grinned up at Benny.

“That’s a pop culture reference,” he said. “Give a moment. Wait...Ghostbusters? They wore backpacks with guns attached, right?”

Meg beamed. “Good job! You learned your bad late night TV movies. Now, toys are this way.”



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