[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 Eighteen



Danielle came awake screaming. Meg opened her eyes, reached for Benny. He coughed and spluttered.

“Are the men in the white suits out there?” Meg hissed at Benny.

He paused, did his vampire hearing thing, shook his head. “But someone is out there.”

The mattress springs squeaked. Danielle made a gurgling sound not unlike the one Benny had made moments before in the dream.

Meg was surrounded by a rush of cold air as the bed flew off the floor and slammed into the ceiling. The succubus was wearing a pretty, slender blonde woman wearing hospital scrubs, but not the same kind the employees at the sleep clinic wore. She didn’t look nearly as pretty as she made herself out to be in dreams.

She had Danielle by the throat and was slowly squeezing. “Meg. And stunt vampire number whatever. Hunting other demons, are we?” Her expression was sly, unimpressed.

“Not other demons,” Meg said. “Just you.”

“You’re not as impressive as you think you are,” the succubus said.

“And Azazel’s special children aren’t much to look at either,” Meg said. “Too bad you’re just a photocopy, and a shoddy one at that.”

“Says the girl who called Azazel ‘daddy’.”

“Says the demon who’s going to rip your lungs out.” Sometimes borrowing a turn of phrase from Dean Winchester wasn’t such a bad idea.

“Touch me and she dies.” The succubus sneered.

Meg raised her hands in a gesture of surrender. “Me? I won’t be touching you. Benny, on the other hand –”

The succubus lunged, slapped her palm against Benny’s forehead, and he wilted like a harvested wheat stalk.

“There,” said the succubus. “He’s having sweet dreams about –” She licked her lips, grinned. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

There, on the tip of her tongue, like a trendy new tattoo, was the image of a mouth, pouty pursed lips.

Meg wrenched Danielle out of the succubus’s grip with a simple flick of power. People always underestimated her. Or at least, demons who’d never read Supernatural, which Crowley was eventually smart enough to do. The demon gossip mill just wasn’t what it used to be, judging by the shock on the succubus’s face. Meg sent a tendril of power Benny’s way to wake him up. No success. She shrugged, kept her grip on the succubus with her telekinesis, and pried her jaw open. Then she grabbed the knife out of her jacket and started cutting.

Danielle, who had stirred from where she landed against the wall, started screaming again.

The cops would be here any moment with all the noise going on.

Someone pounded on the other side of the bedroom wall. “Keep it down!”

Or not.

Meg had no time. She blinked out to the car, rifled in the duffel bag for the jar of rosewater, and dropped the tongue in. Then she blinked back into the house.

Right as the men in the white suits kicked the door down.

Meg had no choice. She grabbed Benny and Danielle and blinked them back out to the car. Benny and Danielle landed in the back seat, Benny coming awake with a jolt. Huhn. Teleportation jolted someone out of succubus dreams. Good to know. Danielle screamed and pressed herself into the corner, sobbing. Benny heaved himself upright, blinking and rubbing his eyes.

“Seatbelts,” Meg reminded them, and she eased the car out into traffic. No need to rush, to draw attention to themselves. She drove back to the motel.

“Where are we? Are you kidnapping me?” Danielle whispered, sniffling. She eyed Meg and Benny warily.

“No,” Meg said flatly. “We saved you from a nasty CDC quarantine strip search, hose-down procedure, and then long-term lock-up while those morons run around like chickens with their heads cut off, utterly unable to discover the source of the illness you no longer have. So, you’re welcome.”

Danielle crumpled and wept.

Benny scooted closer to her. “Hey, now, you’re fine. See? You’re awake. You’re not hurt. Everything’s okay, I promise.” His voice was gentle, soothing.

Danielle’s shoulders shook with sobs.

Meg said, “Benny, we need to clear out our gear and go. They’ll be looking for us. I know the clinic parking lot had security cameras. And they’ll have found the dead meatsuit by now. She can hide in our room for a few days till the furor dies down. But we need to move. Now.” She parked behind the motel.

Benny went on as if Meg weren’t even present. “I know you’re scared. What happened back there was terrifying and horrible, and there isn’t a good explanation for what happened. But you’re safe now, okay?”

Danielle shook her head, hiccuped wetly.

Meg tossed her head. “Benny, we have to go. Just boot her –”

“Will you shut up?” Benny snarled.

Meg sat back, startled by the force of his voice.

“This woman just went through a nightmare. She’s seen more than she thought possible. And she was a victim. She needs our help.”

“She was collateral damage,” Meg began, but Benny pinned her with a look.

“Get out of the car.”

Meg blinked. “What?”

“Go get our stuff out of the motel room,” Benny said, pointing. “And let me handle this.”

Meg glanced at Danielle, who had now inched toward Benny and looked about ready to collapse in his arms, then back at Benny’s severe expression. She sighed and got out of the car. She climbed the dank, echoing stairwell up to the motel room, made a thorough search of it in case they’d scattered anything important, and packed up all their belongings. She checked out with the night manager, who barely blinked when she signed her false name, and then she took a deep breath, returned to the parking lot.

It wasn’t an ego thing. Yes, demons had egos, but not the same way humans did. She wasn’t mad at Benny, or upset, or even offended. She was just...a little baffled. This was her quest, her cause, and he was just her sidekick.

Right?

She was the one who could teleport, who knew how to run money scams, who knew all the lore. Benny was the one who was sitting on the hood of the car, Danielle beside him and laughing at something he was saying, maybe a joke judging by the flutter of his hands in the air.

Meg hefted both duffel bags, lifted her chin at Benny.

“Everything’s here.” She rattled the one duffel bag so the glass jars clinked meaningfully.

“Thanks, Meg,” Benny said.

Danielle’s wide smile dimmed a fraction, but she nodded at Meg as well. “Yeah. Thanks, Meg. I’m sorry I assumed he was – you know. He explained.”

Meg paused, halfway to throwing the duffel bags into the back seat. “He did?”

“Yeah. About the PTSD, and how you had each other’s backs in Afghanistan. He said it was hell. So, I’m sorry,” Danielle said. “Thank you for saving me.”

“Sure. Whatever,” Meg said. “C’mon, Benny.”

He cleared his throat pointedly.

Meg arched an eyebrow at him, confused.

He tipped his head in Danielle’s direction.

Realization dawned. “Oh! Right. I’m sorry I yelled at you and called you stupid.”

“I guess I was kinda stupid, huh?” Danielle ducked her head, sheepish.

“That’s not true, darlin’,” Benny said. “You just weren’t prepared for what we were dealing with. You did fine. You helped get us out of there in the end.” He straightened up. “Now, go find those books I recommended. Meg and I have to hit the road.”

“People to save, monsters to hunt?” Danielle asked, straightening up reluctantly as well. The way her gaze lingered on Benny and his broad shoulders was telling.

“Something like that,” Benny said. He waved, headed around to the driver’s side.

Meg waved, a little belatedly. Moments later, a cab pulled up. Danielle climbed in. Once the cab was out of sight, Benny fired up the engine.

“You know,” he said, “you catch more flies with honey than with –”

Meg held up a hand. “Stop with the Aesop.”

Benny guided the car onto the interstate. They’d best get out of Nebraska, and the quickest way to accomplish that was to hop the bridge to Iowa, give the authorities something to think about while they hunkered down and searched for some demonic omens.

“I know you can play nice,” Benny said. “Or at least, you can fake it. You managed to do it with Sam Winchester.”

“Once. And only for a brief while.”

“A long enough while that he considered you a sympathetic ear when he complained about Dean.”

Meg shrugged. “I knew everything that went on between those boys, had seen inside their little heads. Sam, violin. Me, Vanessa Mae.”

The allusion was lost on Benny, but he didn’t seem to care. “I get that you’re a demon and all, but if it means getting the job done faster, you could at least learn to be play nice.”

“Kicking her out of the car would have gone faster.”

“And ensured the FBI ended up on our tail,” Benny said. “Danielle will keep quiet for us now.”

“Fine.” Meg rolled her eyes. “Maybe you have a point.”

Benny tugged his phone out of his jacket pocket. “Driver picks the music.”

Meg sighed but fired up some Robert Johnson for him.

“Great blues from this man,” Benny said.

Meg smirked faintly to herself, booted up the reading app on her phone. “He made a deal with a devil.”

Benny huffed, exasperated. “Can’t you try to be nice for a single second and not ruin everything I enjoy at ever turn?”

“I was being nice. Great music, brought to you by Hell. Some terrible music, too, but usually great music. Devil’s Trill and all that.”

“Meg!”

“Fine! Fine. Next time the need arises, I will try to be nice.”

Benny cast her another look.

“Okay, next time you decide the need arises, I will try to be nice.”

Ten miles down the road, Meg looked up from her phone and said, “Did you tell that woman to read the Supernatural books?”

claire_s_patches_2_by_msdoomandgloom-d8hfig1



Title: Empty Vessel
Author: Clairestiel
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairings/Warnings: None/None
Summary: Claire Novak is still out there. This is her story. AU after Swan Song Coda to KTAP’s Frontierland.

Every night before she went to bed, Claire knelt and prayed. She’d prayed to God every night as a child up till the day her father vanished, after which her prayers became more and more infrequent. And then one day God answered her prayers, and with her father came demons, hunters, blood, possession, and death. Mom stopped praying altogether, but Claire prayed sometimes, sneaked prayers to God or Castiel to keep her dad safe.

And then one day Castiel answered her prayer, saved her from bullies, an insignificant event compared to the things Castiel was facing, like the Apocalypse. But he came to visit her again, and he made her a friendship bracelet, and he came to visit her again and again, healed her when she was sick and read to her till she fell asleep, and she started praying again.

To him. She didn’t thank him for creating her world; he hadn’t. She didn’t ask him for blessings; he was busy. She talked to him, long, rambling one-sided conversations where she let him know how Mom was doing so he could tell her dad, who was in Heaven. She told him how school was going, and anything happy she experienced that day to remind him that humans were still worth fighting for. She hoped her dad was all right, and could he tell Dad she missed him and loved him? She hoped Castiel was all right, too.

She prayed the way Mormon missionaries told her to pray to God once. Have a conversation with Him. Tell Him your thoughts and your fears. He cares about you.

Claire was pretty sure Castiel cared about her. Mostly sure. She prayed so he would know she cared about him. He was an angel, something bigger and scarier than most people could comprehend, and he belonged to a world that was more important than paying bills and getting to class on time. He was a soldier who had been abandoned by his family. Claire was, in a way, the only family he had, the only blood he shared on this earth.

And she felt less alone, knowing that whatever she said in her prayers, Castiel heard. Even if he never talked back, she knew that as soon as she invoked his name in prayer, he could hear her.

She didn’t ask him for anything, not really. Sometimes she joked. “By the way, my history final is tomorrow. I studied pretty hard, but I could always use a little help. I bet you know all of history. So, if you get a moment, come be the angel on my shoulder.”

Claire took a deep breath. It felt a little strange, to kneel and close her eyes, clasp her hands and talk to empty air. If her mother walked in on her – well. Mom wouldn’t talk to her for a week. “I know you’re in the middle of a civil war and all, but –”

“Castiel doesn’t have time for this.”

Claire paused, reached under the bed for the safety pouch. She dug around in it for the water pistols. One had holy water, the other holy oil. Then she turned, raising both plastic pistols.

“Who are you? What do you want?” Claire demanded, aiming both pistols at the intruder.

The woman was tall, slender, blonde. Beautiful. She wore a black leather jacket over a paisley blue blouse and neat slacks, like some kind of personal assistant for a celebrity.

“I am Rachel,” she said. “I am Castiel’s lieutenant. He is, as you noted, fighting a civil war and commanding an army right now. If you need help on your history test, then you should study.” Her expression was severe and unimpressed.

Claire said, “I wasn’t actually asking for help. I was just making conversation.”

Rachel furrowed her brow. “But I clearly heard you –”

“You heard my prayer to Castiel?” This Rachel person was an angel, then. Claire reached behind her, replaced the holy water pistol.

“As his lieutenant, I handle his lesser affairs,” Rachel said, lifting her chin. She sounded self-important, a cheerleading captain who thought she was a police chief.

Claire’s throat closed. “How long have you been intercepting his prayers?”

“Long enough to know that your prayers are ill-thought out and ill-conceived and that you lack faith in our Father,” Rachel said.

Claire wanted to throw up. This stranger, this unfeeling thing wearing a human body, had been listening to her bare her soul to one of the only friends she had left in this world. “Well, I wasn’t praying to your father, I was praying to Castiel.”

“What do you want, besides unnecessary assistance for your petty existence?” Rachel asked.

“Like I said, to make conversation.” Claire kept the oil pistol trained on Rachel. “I just want Castiel to know someone out there remembers him and cares for him.”

There were plenty of people who cared about Castiel, but that was because they thought he was a beloved fictional character, not a real entity. How many fans had prayed to him, out of sheer curiosity or out of a faithful disconnection from reality?

“I’m his friend,” Rachel said, “and I care about him.”

Claire lifted her chin. “If you really were one of his friends, then you would know who I am.”

“A whiny, self-absorbed brat,” Rachel said.

Claire held up her right hand, displayed the faded and fraying friendship bracelet she’d made last year. “See this?”

“What about it?”

“Have you ever noticed how Castiel, when he manifests in human form, wears one as well? On his left wrist, in shades of blue and green?”

Rachel’s eyes narrowed. She had no idea what Claire was talking about. “What do a few bits of knotted string matter?”

“This is called a friendship bracelet,” Claire said. “Friends make these for each other and wear them. Castiel is my friend.”

“That’s just a petty human tradition.”

“Friendship,” Claire said, “is a human concept. What would you know about it?”

Rachel’s frown deepened. “You know I am not human. You know I and Castiel are both angels. Real angels. You are not awed by my presence.”

“Well, you didn’t do the thing where your eyes glow blue with grace and lightning flashes and I see the shadow of your wings,” Claire said. “Teleportation’s not that impressive. Even demons can do it.” She shrugged with feigned nonchalance.

Anger and disbelief flashed across Rachel’s face at being compared to a demon. “Who are you?”

“Castiel’s friend,” Claire said. “So I pray to him. I talk to him. I let him know I remember him.”

Rachel shook her head, smoothed out her expression to professional cold blankness. “As I said before, Castiel doesn’t have time for your prattle, and neither do I. I have genuine prayers to intercept and answer.”

“You mean answer when it helps your cause,” Claire said flatly. “Except, oh wait, Castiel answering the prayers of the humans you were created to protect doesn’t help your cause, does it?” She tilted her head quizzically, just the way she’d seen Castiel do it. “What is your cause, these days?” She was crazy. She was taunting a full-blown angel.

Rachel’s eyes flared blue, and she lifted her hand. She looked ready to smite.

“Castiel,” Claire said, “will just bring me back.” She didn’t know for sure, but she liked the anger that flashed in Rachel’s eyes at the words.

“Rachel, stop.” Castiel caught Rachel’s wrist, appearing with the thunder of a thousand beating wings.

“Castiel!” Rachel jerked back, surprised.

“She means no harm,” Castiel said. He turned to Claire. “I stopped hearing your prayers. I assumed you were busy with school and your training. I missed them.”

Rachel’s fish-like gape was unflattering. “Castiel, you don’t mean –”

“Let her prayers through, please,” he said. “Her voice is pleasant to me.”

Rachel looked furious and something else. After a moment, Claire realized: she was jealous.

“You are a good soldier,” Castiel said to Rachel. “I appreciate all the support you give me and the others. But the support Claire offers me is invaluable and irreplaceable. I hope you understand that.”

Rachel nodded slowly, drawing her wrist out of Castiel’s grip, but she didn’t understand. Instead, she inclined her head, a knight to her liege. “Of course, Castiel.” And she was gone, the fluttering of her wings tiny in comparison.

Castiel raised an eyebrow at the plastic pistol. Claire blushed, fumbled it back into its bag.

“Sorry,” she said. “Just a precaution.”

“Your caution is good,” he said. “Thank you for not shooting me, although I am not sure how water would hurt an angel.”

“Holy oil, actually,” Claire said.

“Oh. That is quite ingenious.”

“I try to keep safe.” Claire tugged her knees up to her chest, curled her arms around them and rested her chin on them. Embarrassment roiled through her. Someone else had been listening in on her prayers. “So...Rachel. What a peach.”

“She’s good at her job,” Castiel said. “She helps me.” He sat down next to her, mimicked her pose. For her, at least, he seemed to have mastered the art of personal space.

“How goes the war in Heaven?” Claire asked.

“No better than the last one,” Castiel said.

Claire blinked. “Have there been many wars up there?”

“Just one before,” Castiel said. “When Michael cast Lucifer down. How goes school?”

“It goes,” Claire said. She sighed. “I did study for my history test. Just...it’s so hard to care. All those names and dates. What does any of it matter?”

“So much of what’s in those history textbooks is wrong, too,” Castiel agreed.

Claire lifted her head. “What?”

“Of course it is. Human memory and perception are notoriously unreliable, not to mention the ego of the victors always gets in the way.” Castiel nodded earnestly. “Very few things in this world are eternal, constant, and sure.”

“I’m studying the Civil War. That was pretty recent. We even have photographs. Letters. Lots of firsthand accounts. How is that unreliable?” Claire asked.

“The battle of Antietam,” Castiel said. “So many died, correct? More than in any other battle.”

Claire nodded.

“More died than necessary.”

“More people die than necessary in every war and battle,” Claire pointed out.

“True. But given the physical limitations of the soldiers in poor health with poor gear, so many should not have died in combat,” Castiel said. “It wasn’t possible. But for the demons.”

“Demons?” Claire echoed. “You mean the Confederates...?”

“Both sides. In every war, both sides,” Castiel said. “Demons will serve whoever is willing to pay. Have you not looked closely at the pictures and seen how so many of the men have no souls?”

Claire groaned and buried her face against her knees. “I don’t know what to believe in this world anymore.”

“Believe,” Castiel said, “in your soul. And no matter what you do, never, ever sell it.” He patted her shoulder clumsily, then rose up. “I must continue the fight.”

Claire lifted her head. “Good luck.”

Castiel smiled, and he almost looked like Dad. “Thank you.”

Then he was gone.

The next day, Claire was horrified when she opened her history textbook and a copy of the test fell out, with all the right answers filled in. There was a note on the back.

Sorry. It was signed, Rachel.

Claire set the test on fire in the garbage can in the boys’ bathroom, and the test was canceled in the ensuing fire drill, and Claire didn’t even care.



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