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 next morning, they packed up their bags while Dr. Banh informed them that due to Meg’s unusual nightmare, the test results were probably inaccurate and she would have to come in for a retest. If they couldn’t arrange for one that night, they could schedule to come in a few days later.
Meg shook her head. “The sooner, the better. I need to know what’s going on.”
Dr. Banh nodded sympathetically. He thought she was talking about her nonexistent sleep issues. She was talking about the succubus.
Danielle kept casting Meg questioning looks as she walked them through the check-out procedure. She was noticeably cool to Benny, who took it in stride. He wasn’t as annoyed or amused at Danielle’s concern as Meg was.
“She seems like a kind soul,” Benny said. “She’s looking out for you.”
“If she knew what we really were, she’d probably be more worried about you,” Meg said. They trooped out to Trusty Rusty, which Benny had scrubbed clean and sprayed with some kind of chemical to stop the rust from spreading.
“Well, she doesn’t know what we are.” Benny raised his eyebrows at Meg. “Unless she’s the demon?”
“I didn’t smell any sulfur on her,” Meg said. “And she’d have noticed something about the hex bag I’m wearing.”
“We should get a new paint job,” Benny said. “If we’re going to keep this car for hunting, we don’t want it so ugly that people will remember it.”
“And yet so many people remember Sam and Dean’s pretty, shiny car.” Meg rolled her eyes. “But I get it. This machine is an extension of your manly ego. We’ll get it cleaned up.”
“If you know anything about me, it’s not cars I’m proud of,” Benny said. He still opened doors for her like the old-fashioned gentleman he’d once been before he started tearing throats out with his new teeth. “I take my pride in a good seafaring vessel.”
“Right. Do we have time to get a new paint job on this thing? Today?” Meg asked.
“More importantly, do we have money?” Benny shot back. They headed back to the motel to drop off their overnight gear.
“We can find the money,” Meg said. “Also, we need supplies for the rosewater. Found a recipe?”
“The recipe is simple,” Benny said. “It’s the supplies we don’t have.”
“A kitchen, for starters.”
Meg hummed thoughtfully, sorting the dirty clothes from the clean. Had they been human, they’d have been overdue for some laundry. There was a reason Castiel had managed to wear the same outfit for half a decade, and it wasn’t because he did laundry. A brief flicker of power, and all their clothes were cleaned and folded.
Benny, hunched over the laptop, blinked. “Did you just...? With your power?”
“Then why did you make me–?”
“Fold the laundry?” Meg grinned.
“So, what do we need to make the rosewater?”
“A massive stew pot, a stove, water, a strainer, something to keep the water in once we’re done, and a whole lot of roses.”
“Roses will be easy to find.” Meg shuffled her clothes back into her duffel, set Benny’s clothes next to his bag.
“We need to be able to boil the roses in the water,” Benny said.
Meg smirked. “We can break bad. Hot plate. Let’s go shopping, hubby.”
“For someone who was appalled by this whole marriage pretext, you seem to be having an awful lot of fun with it,” Benny said. “At my expense.”
Meg shrugged on her jacket. Both of them were woefully underdressed for the weather, which would have been a sign to any alert hunter that they were something other than human. When they swung by a thrift store to pick up cooking supplies, they could get scarves as well. Maybe a hat for Meg, since Benny rarely went anywhere without his beloved fisherman’s cap.
“I’m doing nice things, Benny,” she said. “I’m a demon. I have to keep my edge somehow.”
The nearest thrift store was a Goodwill on Dodge, the main drag through the center of the city.
“You get cooking supplies. I’ll get some accessories,” Meg said.
Benny, holding the door open for her, paused. “Accessories? As in, clothing accessories? Why do we need those?”
Meg nodded her head at the huddle of college students in the parking lot, counting their pooled money for some kind of shared project. “You see them?”
“You see how cold they look?”
“You want people to think we’re not?”
“Fine. Don’t get me anything too ugly,” Benny said.
For one second, Meg had the deepest urge to buy him the most hideous Christmas sweater she could find. Unfortunately, the whole point of burdening themselves with winter gear was so they wouldn’t stand out. She grabbed a little knit cap for herself, a couple of dark scarves, and headed over to the kitchen aisle where Benny had found a massive pot and was filling it with his supplies.
There was a wistful cast to his expression as he ran his hand over the curve of a green ceramic soup tureen.
Right. He liked cooking. That had been his mortal thing.
Meg remembered that, as a mortal, she had cooked. She couldn’t remember if she’d liked it or not.
“They won’t have a hot plate here,” she said, and he jumped.
Few creatures could get the drop on a vampire. “What did you find?”
She held up the items for his inspection and approval.
“Right on,” he said, fingering the edge of one of the dark scarves. Meg hadn’t noticed when she grabbed it, but it had a little anchor stitched into the bottom of it.
They paid with their dwindling supply of cash. Benny’s jaw tightened as Meg counted out bills from her thin roll. He cast her a glance. She shook her head minutely. Not here.
“The roses need to be fresh,” Benny said once they were outside. “Fresh roses are expensive. We’re running low on cash.”
“I know,” Meg said. “I have a plan.”
Benny eyed her warily. She gunned the engine, and they headed east.
“What’s the plan?”
“Just over the river in Iowa are casinos,” Meg said. “We’re going to win big.”
“Isn’t counting cards illegal?”
Meg laughed. “I’m a demon. I don’t need to count cards.”
“Won’t they notice something is up when you win all kinds of money?” Benny asked.
Meg adopted the most innocent expression she could muster. Her meatsuit had had the potential to be a very good actress. “Me? Win money? Never. I’m just a little rabbit’s foot. You, on the other hand, are one lucky bastard.”
“So...you’ll just use your demon mojo?”
“Honey, all casinos run on demon mojo. How else could they be as successful as they are?”
“And who do you think taught it to them?”
Benny eyed her disapprovingly.
“Not me personally.” She rolled her eyes. “So let’s go win some money. Then you can buy all the roses you want, and we can use the leftovers to make Trusty not so Rusty. Huh, buddy?” She patted the dashboard with mock-affection.
“Careful now. You’re starting to sound like Dean.”
“Who earns money by gambling, by the by,” Meg said.
Benny sucked in a deep breath as they crossed the bridge, rounded the city and approached the tall towers. “I’m not sure I like this idea.”
In daylight, the casinos looked old, tired, lights blinking dully. At night, they lit up all around them.
“Candy, baby, you know the drill.” Meg parked the car. “Now come on.”
Several hours, lots of free drinks, and acting like a drunk bimbo hoping to profit off some poor drifter’s lucky streak later, Meg and Benny were several thousand dollars up and ready to continue on their quest. The blessed thing about casinos was they were designed to distract players from whether it was day or night, so no one blinked twice at either of them being there before lunch.
“So,” Meg said, “do you want to go get the roses or get the car done?”
“How about we buy the roses and you drop me off back at the motel, then you get the car done? Two birds, one stone?”
“Oh, honey, you’re such a great strategist. I’m so glad I married you.” Meg fluttered her eyelashes at him.
He rolled his eyes and batted her away. “You’re not funny.”
“We are acting like a married couple, though – worrying about finances, divvying up the errands.”
“Yeah, well, you’re the one with the Donna Reed fantasies, not me,” Benny said. “Speaking of...who’s Ava?”
“Long story,” Meg said. “But while you’re waiting for the rose water to boil, you could read all about it.”
“When am I ever not serious?”
Benny pitched his voice into falsetto, fluttered his eyelashes. “Oh, wow, you’re so lucky today. I wonder if your luck will keep up later on.”
Meg punched him in the shoulder. “Just...read them all.”
“I feel like a creepy spy.”
“Embrace your inner creepy spy.”
“Fine. Which ones?”
“‘Hunted’ and ‘All Hell Breaks Loose.’ Not a very accurate title on that second one, but close enough.”
Meg poked around on her phone to find the fastest, if not best body shop in town, and headed straight there with Trusty Rusty. She offered the mechanic an extra two hundred if he got the job done by the end of business that day, said she’d wait, and then she set up camp in the waiting room with her phone and the tablet (Benny wasn’t fond of the tablet and was constantly nervous he’d break it if he poked it too hard; Meg refrained from making dirty jokes).
She glanced at her watch, calculated a time zone adjustment, and called Claire.
“It’s me, Angelcakes,” Meg said.
“I do have caller ID. What’s up?”
“Can your special little friend tell me anything about Ava?”
“As in Eva Peron?”
Right. Claire was taking a survey course in South American history this semester. “No. As in Ava Wilson, one of Yellow Eyes’s special kids.”
“She’s a demon, and she’s got a succubus working for her.”
“Let me make a few phone calls, and I’ll get back to you,” Claire said. “Seacrest out.”
“That’s my line,” Meg said, but the line was already dead.
She sighed and pocketed her cell phone. Then she pulled up the research Benny had collected – they were file sharing, so modern! – and started reading again. The demon knew she was in town, so it was probably underground. If it was smart, it would move on to new targets.
Benny had identified the obvious pattern in the victims – patients at the sleep clinic, female. But there had to be something more than that. If every single female patient at the sleep clinic had gone comatose and died, the clinic probably would have been shut down pending further investigation. So there had to have been female patients who hadn’t been victimized.
What made the demon choose the women it did? And what made it choose Meg as well? She sighed. Did she have time to learn how to do some hacking?
Meg was jolted out of her reading haze two hours later when her phone rang. Out of spite, she’d set Benny’s ringtone as the opening theme song from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV show. (Claire’s was “Johnny Angel” by Shelly Fabares.)
“Spike,” she said.
“Darla,” he returned without missing a beat.
“Ha! You’re learning. How’s it going?”
“Rose water is all done. Smells lovely. I might have a future as a perfumier. Also, I now know far more about Sam and Dean and the creature you called Father than I ever wanted to.”
Meg shrugged. “To be fair, I also called Lucifer ‘father’, so I wouldn’t get too hung up on who I have filial leanings toward,” Meg said.
“A battle royale in a ghost town? Really?”
“That wasn’t my idea.”
“How is Trusty Rusty?”
Meg stood up, stretched, peered out the window. “Not as rusty anymore, which is good. What, if anything, do you know about hacking?”
“I kinda know what it is. Why?”
“Because I think we missed something on the demon’s targets, and we need to figure it out,” Meg said. “So we can get to the next target before she does.”
“Do you know how to hack?”
“Not very well,” Meg said. “I read some, but I probably couldn’t pull off what I need to before tonight.”
“Think Claire knows any hackers?”
“I think Claire is better at being Bobby Singer than Bobby Singer ever dreamed he could be. Sit tight. I’ll call Claire.”
“I got a discount on the roses,” Benny said when Meg unlocked the motel room door.
The room smelled strongly of roses. Benny had several mason jars of slightly pink water lined up on the table. He’d cut one of the towels into strips to wrap the jars and prevent them from breaking in his duffel bag. He’d also been measuring out more portions of the dream root to make tea with that night.
“Discount? How’d you do that?”
“I told the florist my boyfriend thought I was cheating on him with a girl and I needed to apologize, and she took pity on me.”
Meg stopped in her tracks.
Benny grinned. “What can I say? I go with what works.”
“You actually –”
“Told her my boyfriend’s name was Dean and I showed her a picture.”
“Why do you have a picture of Dean?”
“It’s not of Dean, but the guy’s some kind of underwear model from Texas. Looked close enough.”
“Why do you have pictures of Texan underwear models on your phone?”
“I can use Google. I was improvising.”
Meg snorted. “You know Dean’s going to find out about that, right?”
“Only if you tell him.”
“Or if, I don’t know, he reads what the current prophet is writing,” Meg said.
Benny raised his eyebrows, but before he could ask about the current prophet – Meg still knew criminally little about her – Shelly Fabares’s tinny voice rang out. Meg flipped her cell phone out of her pocket, put it on speaker.
“Speak to me, Lady Clarence.”
“I called in another favor, got a friend to go Penelope Garcia on the hospital computer system, and files are on your way. I haven’t looked at them, so I don’t know what, if anything, the victims have in common,” Claire said. “How’s Spike?”
“Full of romance.”
“Dare I ask?”
“He made the rose water.”
“Good luck with the succubus,” Claire said.
“What can you tell us about the current prophet?”
Claire chuckled, amused. “Later, Spike and Anya.” And she hung up.
Meg scowled at her phone.
“Who’s Anya?” Benny asked.
“A vengeance demon.” Meg scooped up the tablet, prodded it into connecting with the motel’s atrociously slow wifi.
Benny hummed thoughtfully. “That’s more fitting than Darla.”
Meg scanned the zipped files Claire had sent. “Here,” she said to Benny, forwarding half of them to him. “Read fast.”
By the time it was nightfall, they’d found nothing. None of the women had anything in common, besides their relative ages, all in their mid twenties to early thirties. They were all from different parts of the state, had no friends or associates in common, were from all different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. They all had different jobs, too. And different religions. In fact, at least half of them had no religious preference at all.
“None of them have anything in common with me,” Meg said.
“Besides your age.”
“You mean this body’s age. Which isn’t as accurate as you’d think.” Meg tugged up the hem of her shirt to display the array of scars the body had accrued during her tenure. “Stopped aging the first time it died. It’s been all me ever since.”
“All of them are single,” Benny said, “and none of them have had kids.”
“In fact, most of them marked on their charts that they weren’t sexually active in the past year,” Meg added. Something niggled at the back of her memory. Young women, healthy, no children. They had that much in common. The demon would have known that from a quick perusal of their minds during their dreams.
And then Meg thought of her dream: house dress, apron, making dinner for a husband and child.
Alarm crossed Benny’s face. “What’s wrong?”
“Did I say that aloud?”
“Say what?” Benny asked.
Meg reeled off an impressive array of expletives in French.
It took Benny a moment to catch on, and then he looked a little flabbergasted. “What’s the matter?”
“Another antichrist,” Meg said. “They’re trying to make another one. If a succubus collects enough sexual energy from a basically pure woman with very strong maternal instincts, combines it with the right incubus – we’ll have a new antichrist walking the earth.”
“That’s...” Benny trailed off, gazing at nothing in the distance, face blank with horror. “Wait, why did the demon pick you, then?”
“I fit the basic profile,” Meg said. “Young. Haven’t had sex in a year. Never had children.”
“But you don’t have strong maternal instincts,” Benny said, and then he paused, frowned. “Wait. That whole Donna Reed business with Castiel –”
So he hadn’t realized it was Jimmy and not Castiel, which still made no sense to Meg but which she didn’t want to examine too closely.
“The hex bag might have messed with its ability to read me,” Meg said. “Or maybe...maybe it just creates that kind of dream in the woman to power the spell.”
“Maybe,” Benny said, though he looked dubious.
“Chances are, the demon’s moved on from the hospital,” Meg said.
“Let’s get this test done and find out.”