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.
Twenty-four hours later, Meg and Benny were back Stateside and heading toward civilization. Meg put several wards on the inside of Trusty Rusty’s trunk to keep the heart and their other hunting supplies safe.
When she headed to the front of the car, she saw Benny in the driver’s seat.
“I’m driving,” she said, hands on her hips.
Benny winked and twirled the keyring around his index finger. “Driver picks the music.”
Meg narrowed her eyes at him. “Like you have any music.”
Benny waggled a shiny new smartphone at her. “I do now.”
“How did you get money for that?”
“A vampire has his ways. Now get in. We’re going to Omaha.” He reached across the front seat and popped open the passenger door.
Meg tucked herself into the front seat and pulled the door closed. “Fine,” she said. “Drive. And what’s in Omaha?”
“A succubus,” Benny said. “Let’s ride.”
They stopped for gas and snacks halfway across Wyoming. Benny checked on his phone for any news of Merlin’s death – none so far – while he gassed up. Meg wandered the aisles of the convenience store, picking up rag mags and checking in with Claire.
After multiple rounds of phone tag, Claire had given in and emailed Meg her class schedule.
“Hey, Harp-n-Halo, we’re halfway to Omaha,” Meg said when Claire picked up.
Claire sounded a little out of breath in her response. She was probably running across campus to her next class. She had half an hour between classes, but she liked to get across campus fast, then sit down and catch her breath while she ate. “Awesome. Do you need any back-up? Funds?”
“Benny has some way of getting funds he refuses to tell me about. I think we got this. Although, have you figured out which part of a succubus is her kiss? Or am I going to have to slice off her lips?”
“Still working on that,” Claire said.
The clerk behind the counter – a tall, lanky young man with a beard and a flannel fetish – raised his eyebrows at her.
“Dungeons and Dragons,” Meg mouthed, and the guy nodded in understanding, flashed her a thumbs up. Ah, but nerdiness covered all manner of sins.
“So.” Claire’s tone was knowing. “Benny.”
“What about him?”
“How’s that going?”
Meg picked several different types of chips, some mini powdered donuts, and some chocolate donuts. Apparently vampires could also eat human food. Or maybe Benny just remembered his cooking too fondly. “He’s been torturing me with his music. ‘Driver picks the music’.” Her parody of his accent was deliberately terrible.
Claire laughed. “Right. So, are things...working out?”
“Oh, not you too,” Meg said.
“Everyone in that tiny town thought we were dating.” Meg huffed. “I’m not in love with Benny. He’s not my type.”
“And what’s your type?”
“None of your business.” Then Meg remembered. “You never did tell me about your friend. Your new clairvoyant one?”
“The fewer who know about the new prophet, the better,” Claire said.
Meg narrowed her eyes shrewdly. “You wouldn’t even tell Moose and Squirrel about him?”
“After what they did to their last prophet?” Claire snorted. “I’ll call if she turns up anything.”
It wasn’t worth pressing the issue. “Fine. We’ll call if we need back-up. Get back to me on that succubus.” Meg hung up. She bared her teeth at the cashier in her most disturbing smile. “Also, throw down a full tank on pump four.” She peeled some bills off of the roll of cash in her jacket.
The cashier nodded. “What edition are you playing?”
“Third,” Meg said without missing a beat. She might have read more than her fair share of Charlie fanfiction as well. Charlie sounded like one hell of a ride. So much going on in her head.
“Rock on.” The cashier rung her up, handed over the change. Meg deposited the paper sack of snacks on the back seat, then climbed into the driver’s seat and pushed the seat all the way forward.
“Hey!” Benny protested.
Meg grinned sunnily. “Driver picks the music.” She adjusted the mirrors, smirked at herself. “Tell me about this succubus.”
Benny settled himself grumpily against the passenger window, scowled when Meg hooked her phone up to the radio and turned on some Red Hot Chili Peppers.
“First of all,” Benny said, “a succubus doesn’t have the same omens as a siren. Screw you very much for that ‘Sex and Violence’.”
“You’re welcome. Sam have some good tips for your next hookup?”
Benny tossed an empty wrapper at her. She caught it, rolled down the window and threw it into the garbage can. Then she gunned the engine and pulled out of the gas station.
“Or did you think maybe you and Dean weren’t so platonic after all?”
Benny actually punched her in the arm. “Anyway, sirens drug people by kissing them and make them do crazy things. Succubi steal energy from people during sex dreams.”
“Succubi. Good Latin.” Meg patted him on the shoulder condescendingly. “And you’ve found a succubus in Omaha?”
“Victims at a sleep clinic,” Benny said. “All going into comas and dying mysteriously.”
“Sure it’s not African sleeping sickness?” Meg guided the car back onto the interstate.
“I do know how to use Google,” Benny said dryly. “No fevers or nausea. Just there for a sleep study, and then coma, and then dead.”
“Sure it’s not some kind of hero homicide serial killer at the hospital?”
“Police don’t seem to think the deaths are suspicious at all. Weird, yes. Worth manpower for investigating? No.”
Meg nodded. Either the police were incompetent or the cause really was supernatural. Benny was her partner now. She’d have to trust him, or at least trust his research. “What’s our pretext?” Demons didn’t do the trust thing, just like Dean Winchester didn’t do parents.
Benny grinned. “You’ve been having trouble staying awake. We suspect sleep apnea.”
“Me? Why not you? It’s a succubus. Typically they go after male victims.” Meg cast him an incredulous look.
“All the victims so far have been female. It’s the twenty-first century. Don’t be so small-minded,” he said, tone deliberately nonchalant.
Meg rolled her eyes. “Yeah, you’re not really breaking my worldview here. You have collateral documentation?”
“Like insurance cards, a referral, medical records for me.”
Benny pressed his lips into a thin line. “We can’t just...go to a doctor?”
“You’ve never watched an episode of House or ER or Grey’s Anatomy? Seriously?”
Benny raised his eyebrows. “I’m a vampire, not a teenage girl.”
“Those two aren’t mutually exclusive.” Meg sighed and nodded at the radio. “Use my phone. Call Claire. She said we could call her if we needed back-up. Put it on speaker. Scoot close.”
Benny eyed her phone warily, then unplugged it. Static filled the car, and he shut the radio off hurriedly. He slid closer to her. “What’s your passcode?”
Meg told him.
“0666? Your kind aren’t original.” Benny snorted. He poked hesitantly at the screen – all he could do with his phone was make calls and play music. Eventually he found Meg’s contact list and fired it up. Meg made a vague gesture, and he poked some more till Meg could hear the phone ringing on speaker.
“I told you,” Claire said, “I have to get to class. Not telling you about the new prophet.”
She hissed an indrawn breath. Then, “Benny?”
“Meg’s driving, so she asked me to call.”
“Wow. Um.” Claire sounded like she was chewing. She swallowed. “Hi. Glad Meg is practicing safe driving habits. What can I do for you?”
“We have a plan to catch the succubus,” Benny said, “but we need some help.”
“Physical back-up, technical back-up, or something else?” All the awe was gone from Claire’s voice. She was business-like in an instant.
“I thought you said you weren’t a hunter,” Meg said, “and here you sound like the newest Bobby Singer.”
“That would be Garth, if he’s still doing that whole business now that he’s wolfed out. I’m not a hunter. But I do have connections. So, you have ten minutes to tell me what you want, and then I need to get to class.”
Meg explained what they needed.
“All right. I know a guy who owes me after the massive batch of patches I sent him. I’ll have it in your inbox ASAP. Gotta go.” Claire hung up.
“Patches?” Benny asked.
“Best not to inquire how teenage minds work these days,” Meg said.
Benny plugged the phone back into the radio. “What do you want to listen to now?”
“I’m nicer than Dean,” Meg said. “I compromise. Put on some Hugh Laurie. I feel like a little ‘St. James Infirmary’.”
The motel Meg picked in downtown Omaha was perfect for their needs, if not their comfort. It was cheap, the manager downstairs asked few questions beyond their names – and he probably didn’t believe any name anyone gave him – and he accepted a lot of cash up front.
Meg and Benny were settled into their room, laying out protective wardings and deciding what to do next.
“I want pizza,” Meg said. “Or steak. I never stop hearing about Omaha steak.”
Benny cast her a sidelong glance. “You don’t need food.”
“Doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes want it.” She shrugged, then added, “You eat food.”
“Money’s getting tight,” Benny said.
It was her turn to look at him sidelong. “You never did tell me how you get money.”
“I work for it,” Benny said. “There’s a lot of call for a man who can work without stopping to eat or drink.”
“For you, eating and drinking are kind of the same, aren’t they?”
“Well, I don’t need to stop for sustenance as often as humans.”
“You were doing last minute harvesting in Kansas or something?”
“Or something,” Benny said. “How have you been getting money?”
“I’ve been around for millennia, kid.”
“That is neither an excuse nor an explanation.”
“When a girl’s been around that long, she’s got ways.” Meg continued putting up anti-angel warding. Unfortunately, anti-demon traps were not an option, and neither were anti-vampire traps. “You’re not very creative, are you? I can get money any way I want. Possess a bank manager to open a vault. Steal money by picking pockets. I get money to get by.”
“And you just steal from whoever?”
“I tend to roll guys coming out of strip joints, especially if they’ve gotten too handsy with the girls,” Meg said.
“Please. Like I’m that sentimental.” No, she liked to think on a global scale. Having been around for centuries taught a girl not to think so ethnocentrically. She liked to steal mounds of cash and diamonds from warlords on various continents. She’d rub it in their faces when she saw them in Hell, because that was certainly where they were going. Besides, most of them made it to where they were by dealing with Crowley, and she was all about customer dissatisfaction in that department. “What matters is that I have money enough for both of us - for now. And right now, I am very curious about what Claire does, that she can get this kind of quality work.”
The motel they’d picked was what fans online tended to refer to as a Winchester Special – garish decor several decades out of date and in faded disrepair, suspicious stains on the cloth surfaces, dust on the solid surfaces, and mold in shadowy corners. They’d sprung for a single queen because that was less suspicious than two double beds, and also neither of them actually needed to sleep. Meg had the paperwork sent by Claire’s contact spread across the hideous kitten-patterned comforter (the walls were painted pale pink and had an accent border of kittens playing with balls of yarn).
The paperwork included driver’s licenses, insurance cards for both medical and auto, a manila folder with Meg’s falsified medical history, and even social security cards. The entire set of documentation was so well-done that everything looked used. The ID’s weren’t shiny and gleaming, the social security cards were worn around the edges from being tucked into wallets, and the medical history was a little disarrayed and dog-eared, and one page even had a stain from a coffee mug on it.
“With people this talented out there, no wonder the government is terrified of terrorists.” Meg scanned the information, committing it to memory (which she could do on a single pass, something Benny didn’t need to know, or else he’d give her so much crap for rereading all her favorite stories). They were Benjamin and Margaret Lafferty (neither Lafitte nor Masters but something both of them could answer to in a pinch). They had been married for seven years. Benny was a sous-chef at the Cajun restaurant in Old Market. Meg worked for a non-profit organization helping abused and neglected children. Meg had started having trouble sleeping about three years into their marriage, which resulted in some marital strife, but that was resolved through counseling. She’d tried various medications to help her sleep, which resulted in her sleeping through the night but still being exhausted, so exhausted she fell asleep at the wheel one day and almost died (thankfully no one else was hurt). They’d consulted several doctors, and they had been referred to the Sleep Center at the University Hospital.
Meg called Claire.
“Did the papers come through all right?” was Claire’s greeting.
“Hello to you too, Cloud Nine. Yeah, we got them all. I’m confused, though – why do Benny and I have to be married?”
Benny, who had been exiled to the chair and table in the corner to try to figure out some kind of anti-succubus weapon, lifted his head sharply. “What?”
“That’s what this is about? It’s not a big deal. It’s hunting. Pretext. You are a hunter now, aren’t you?” Claire sounded distracted. She was done with both class and work for the day. She probably still had homework, though.
Meg wasn’t a hunter. Benny wasn’t a hunter, not in the sanctimonious, narcissistic sense Dean Winchester meant. They were both predators, though. “I didn’t sign up for this.”
“Meg, you’re a demon. You sign up for eating babies in muffins.”
“I’ve never eaten a baby in a muffin,” Meg said automatically. It was true. The culture she’d been in hadn’t invented muffins at the time.
“It’s a good cover. It works. If Benny needs to stay with you overnight, it’s less creepy if he’s your husband than if he’s your brother. People in the general population are not usually understanding of Becky Rosen’s worldview.” Claire’s voice went muffled for a second. She swore. Then she returned at full volume. “So suck it up.”
“I can pretend to be a lot of things. Married isn’t one of them,” Meg said.
“Then learn. Fast.”
Meg frowned. “You know, I’m the one doing you a favor.”
“Raise you up, cast you down, yadda yadda,” Claire said airily. “Gotta go. Have fun with Benny.” And she hung up.
Meg stared at her phone, betrayed. “I almost think you’re enjoying this.”
Benny stood up, crossed the room. “Let me see those papers.”
Meg spread her hands in a wide gesture. “Be my guest, Hubster.” She stood up, grabbed her jacket. “I’m going to get some steak.”
“Be back in an hour,” Benny called after her. “And bring some pizza. No mushrooms.”
Meg returned as promised. Benny was lounging on the bed, watching staticky television. A perky blonde, corn-fed woman was regaling him about the upcoming weather forecast. Fog warning. Omaha in winter was just a dandy place to be.
Meg dumped the box of pizza on the table. She’d sprung for some beers. If they were going to pretend to love each other, she ought to at least play nice. Demons weren’t incapable of playing nice. “So. Are you ready to do this thing?”
Meg lifted her chin. “Hi. I’m Meg. I’m a –”
Benny threw a pillow at her face.