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.
Dr. Parwal was a portly, middle-aged woman with glossy dark skin and jet-black hair that fell to her waist in a neat braid, a single streak of white at her temple. She sat across from Benny and Meg behind a heavy wooden desk, hands folded atop a stack of files, business-like.
“Mrs. Lafferty, you fell asleep at the wheel?”
Meg nodded. “I get tired sometimes, and I feel myself getting sleepy. My head starts to nod, and my vision gets all fuzzy, and then it goes gray, and then dark, and then I just...can’t move. It’s happened at home. It’s never happened on the road. I can always stave it off, but...” She bit her lip, glanced at Benny.
He smiled sympathetically at her, patted her hand, and it took a whole lot of willpower not to pull away. Belatedly, she smiled back.
He squeezed her hand tightly. To the doctor, it was compassion. To Meg, it was a warning: you’re overacting.
Dr. Parwal looked at Benny. “Have you noticed her drowsiness?”
Benny nodded. “She’s always been a napper – her down time is around three in the afternoon. But lately I’ve noticed she gets drowsy over lunch and dinner. She drifts off in the middle of conversations. It’s almost like she’s – what do they call it? When you fall asleep randomly.”
“Narcoleptic?” Dr. Parwal raised her eyebrows, switched her gaze back to Meg.
She’d studied the medical notes very carefully. “No, I’m not narcoleptic. I’m not all the way asleep. I’m in that place in between. I’m tired, and I can’t move or speak, but I can hear everything going on around me. Time goes fuzzy.”
Dr. Parwal scribbled some notes on her notepad, making thoughtful humming noises. “Does this happen at other times?”
Meg nodded, affixing an earnest expression on her face. “When I wake up. If I don’t get up right when I first come awake, if I fall back to sleep, then I get trapped in that in-between place when I try to wake up again. I feel nauseous, have an awful headache.”
“It sounds like you could be borderline narcoleptic. We will do a sleep study first,” Dr. Parwal said. “You will sleep in the clinic with sensors attached. We’ll be measuring your brainwaves, breathing, and heart activity.”
Meg bit her lip again, turned big, pleading eyes on Benny, channeling her best Sam Winchester. “I – I have trouble falling asleep alone. Unless I have meds–”
“No, no medications,” Dr. Parwal said. “If the testing room isn’t too crowded, perhaps your husband can stay with you.”
“I don’t even have to sleep in the same bed,” Benny said. He chuckled. “Doubt we’d both fit. But if I could sit beside her, maybe.”
Dr. Parwal nodded. “We’ll do what we can. But no hanky-panky.” She winked at Benny, and then went to smile at Meg, and confusion crossed her face.
Benny squeezed her hand warningly.
Meg ducked her head, attempted a coquettish expression. “Of course. No hanky-panky.”
Dr. Parwal scribbled something illegible on a form, ticked some boxes, and slid it across the desk. “Give it a couple of days so all your regular sleep meds clear your system, and report two hours before your regular bedtime.”
Meg and Benny nodded.
“Thank you so much,” Benny said.
It was best if he did most of the talking. Everyone they ran into loved his smooth southern accent.
“Thanks again,” Meg added, and allowed Benny to steer her out of the doctor’s office.
Once they were in the hallway and headed for the parking lot, Benny stepped away from her, gave her some personal space.
“You know,” he said, “people might believe we’re actually a couple if you didn’t look like I’m about to rape you every time I touch you.”
“I still don’t see why we have to be married,” Meg said.
“Legalities,” Benny said. “No civil partnerships in Nebraska. I don’t get to stay overnight if I’m not immediate family, and again, it’s creepy if you can’t fall asleep without your brother in the same room.”
“Fine,” Meg huffed. “Let’s go shopping.”
“You want the demon to make us as soon as we walk into the building? No? Just checking. Shopping it is.”
The northwestern edges of the city were a careful intermingling of cramped apartments and small businesses – a smoke shop, a second-hand gift shop, a comic book shop.
And a new age gift shop.
“This is the fifth one we’ve been to,” Benny protested.
Meg extended a hand. “Come on, hubster. Let’s go see if this is the real thing.”
Between the flickering neon OPEN sign and the heavy velvet drapes, the placed looked about as unreal as a real witchcraft shop could be. Benny didn’t rise to the bait. Instead, he wound an arm around her waist and tugged her against his side.
The door opened before Benny could hold it for her. A young woman in a black velvet dress with a corset-like bodice and flowing sleeves beckoned them in. Her expression was probably supposed to be solemn, but mostly she looked bored.
“Enter, and find wisdom.” Her gesture was grandiose.
“Thanks,” Benny said, amused. He glanced down at Meg, who was unamused by his condescension. “Ready to get smart, sweetheart?”
The sigil painted in the window meant the place was the real thing. Meg knew what to buy; Benny didn’t. But he was male, bigger, taller, and people often conflated physical authority with other types of authority.
They browsed the shelves – candles, crystals, books, gaudy journals with skulls and raven’s claws for locks and clasps. Benny scanned the shelves, idly curious. Meg was trying to figure out where they kept the good stuff.
They made a circuit of the outer shelves, then scanned the inner aisles. Crystal balls, collections of pendants, chains, bracelets, and occult books of dubious authorship were all for sale.
“See anything you like? I got paid today,” Benny said.
Meg browsed the astounding collection of tarot cards. They made tarot cards out of any theme these days. Who knew animated Japanese pornography warranted their own tarot decks. And angel oracle cards? Were not tarot decks.
The goods were probably locked in the cabinets behind the glass display counter where a girl who was a reject from The Craft was shuffling a deck of tarot cards and laying out what looked like a game of solitaire.
Meg nudged Benny, and he guided her over to the counter. They leaned on the counter together. Meg reached up, stroked the hair at the nape of his neck. His hair, though short and spiky-looking, was actually very soft. For all that Meg preferred to possess females, she’d possessed a pleasing male or two in her life. Sam Winchester had deceptively soft hair.
The sales clerk glanced up. “How can I help you folks? Looking for some love mojo?” She nodded at some red tapers in eye-wateringly ornate silver candlesticks.
“Actually,” Benny said, “we’re looking for some African dream root.”
The girl raised her eyebrows.
Meg giggled, ducked her head. “We want to share a dream.”
“African dream root? That’s pretty rare. Pretty expensive, too,” the girl said.
“Pretty sure my man has enough cash to cover it. Right, Cupcake?” Meg patted Benny’s bicep and fluttered her eyelashes at him.
Benny nodded. “Like I said, I just got paid. We can get whatever you want.”
“African dream root’s pretty serious stuff,” the sales clerk said, one eyebrow arched in skepticism. “It’s not going to be like a weekend bowl of ganja.”
“We know, don’t we, babe?” Meg reached into her pocket and drew out the list of ingredients she needed for the hex bags that would prevent the demon from recognizing her as a demon until it was too late – until it was in her dreams. “Also, I was wondering if I could pick up these, too.”
The sales clerk scooped up the handwritten list, black fingernails stark against the white paper. Her eyebrows climbed toward her hairline. “This is –” Her eyes narrowed. “You’re hunters, aren’t you?”
“I’m sorry, what?” Meg asked.
“Sure,” Benny said. “Deer, elk –”
“Ghosts, demons?” The sales clerk’s expression turned amused. “And you’re pretty new at it, huh?”
Meg and Benny exchanged looks. The girl, for all her poor fashion choices, was pretty smart, and more accurate than even she knew.
“How’d you guess?” Meg stepped out from under Benny’s arm, tucked her hands into her jacket pockets. She curled her fingers around the hilt of her pocket knife just in case.
“Your wardrobe,” the sales clerk said dryly, “and also the awful pretexting. You’d be better off pretending to be business partners or something. Watching siblings like you try to be a couple? Awkward and also a little creepy.”
Meg raised her eyebrows, flicked a glance at Benny. She resisted the urge to cry gleefully, See? Not meant to be a couple.
“Better safe than sorry,” Benny said. “But you’ll help us?”
The sales clerk grinned. “And even give you a discount. I know your kind are poor – or your checks will bounce. Might as well take the cash I can get. What are you after?”
“Low-level demon,” Meg said.
The salesclerk scanned the list, fumbling for the keyring hanging from her gaudy series of necklaces. “Pretty strong protection you’re looking at here. These will make you practically invisible to the demon. Where’d you pick up this recipe?”
“From a squirrely little guy who thinks he’s hunter dispatch central,” Meg said.
“Ah. Garth. He’s been quiet for a while. Glad to hear he’s back in the business.” The sales clerk’s smile was less sarcastic, more relaxed, and she unlocked the back cabinet. She lifted the metal door, and built into the cheap metal cabinet was a series of wooden drawers, dark lacquer gleaming. She rifled through them with expert hands even though none of the drawers were labeled in English. That Latin used on the faded labels wouldn’t be particularly helpful either unless someone was an old hat at witchcraft. “How much do you need?”
“Enough for me and my partner,” Meg said.
“And the dream root?” The sales clerk paused.
“Demon likes to get into people’s dreams,” Meg said.
“Oh. Be careful. Dreams are tricky things.” The sales clerk bagged up the different ingredients separately, hands deft. She slid them across the counter, then rang them up. She gave them a generous discount. Meg peeled several more large bills off of the roll she kept in her jacket and slid them across the counter in return.
The other girl, who’d lingered on the edges of the conversation, bagged the ingredients and handed them to Benny. He thanked her softly.
“For the record, you were over-selling it,” said the sales clerk. “The whole affection thing. Too clingy. I get it – you’re siblings, and people think it’s weird, that you’re adults and working together and sometimes sleeping in the car together. But if you want to make it as a couple, you have to work with your own personal space boundaries. I could tell the second you walked in here that you’ve never been the type of girl to cling to a guy like you did with him.”
“Thanks,” Meg said flatly.
“Told you that you were overacting,” Benny said.
Meg stomped on his foot.
He winced but made no sound.
“Pretexting as a couple requires you to act natural around each other,” the sales clerk continued. She beckoned for them to stand closer together. “You need to act like you normally act, but put a tiny bit of a romantic spin on it.”
Meg and Benny stepped closer to each other hesitantly.
The sales clerk gestured again. “Closer. Closer – too close. I could see it in your eyes, girlie. You have some serious personal space issues.”
Benny rolled his eyes but shoved at her shoulder.
“There,” said the sales clerk. “Now, hold hands.”
Meg and Benny exchanged looks, decided to humor her.
The sales clerk hummed thoughtfully. “Nope. Too awkward. You’re not the type for that either. Your parents didn’t hug you a lot, did they?”
“Daddy wasn’t the hugging type,” Meg said flatly.
“Right.” The sales clerk eyed Meg knowingly. “How do you two show affection?”
“We don’t,” Benny said.
“I’m starting to get that.”
Meg and Benny exchanged looks. Everyone’s relationship was different. They didn’t have to abide by some sort of rom-com model to prove they were a couple. All they had to do was say it and stick to it. Time to go.
“There!” the sales clerk said. “You do that thing where you talk with your eyes. It looks a little soldier intense right now, but you can work with that.”
“Work with it how?” Benny asked.
“Smile a little, when you lock gazes,” the sales clerk said. “That way you look like you’re in love instead of planning where to bury the body.”
“Burying bodies is part of the job description,” Meg pointed out.
The sales clerk laughed. “I know. But seriously, you two, lighten up. Now get out there and salt and burn.”
“Thanks,” Benny said. He tipped his cap at the two girls and then did an about-face, headed for the door. Meg followed him.
The crisp winter night was like a slap in the face.
“Overacting,” Benny sang.
Meg climbed into the driver’s seat and gunned the engine. “Shut up. Let’s get back to the motel.”