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.
Lawrence, Kansas. Meg had been there before, on a cold November night in 1983, while her so-called father put in motion his plan for demon-kind to rule the earth. A plan within a plan: Sam Winchester, the Boy King, and if not the Boy King then the vessel for Lucifer himself, true King of the Earth. Meg didn’t have any particular attachment to the place, and she was enjoying lounging on a beach in Florida while she and Benny looked for signs of demonic presence, so she was surprised when it looked like she’d have to return to the scene of the crime.
Any place there were casinos was an easy bet for demonic omens, but Meg didn’t want to go to Vegas because it was too close to Utah. Atlantic City was too close to Boston, and there was no point in leading any of Ava’s other minions to Claire. Iowa wasn’t an option either since it was so close to Omaha. Meg also had no desire to hit any of the rural casinos on tribal land. After all, between their behavior at the sleep clinic and again at the casinos in Council Bluffs, they were probably wanted on at least some level. Meg’s monitoring of the news – from her phone, while she stretched out on a towel beneath a massive shady umbrella with nothing but miles of white sand all around – revealed little mention of the CDC presence in Omaha and only a brief blurb about a burglary and possible kidnapping attempt of a young nurse in North Omaha. Police were looking for any information about a caucasian couple in their early thirties, descriptions matching Meg and Benny and any number of other people as well.
The one wrinkle in Meg and Benny traveling incognito was the camera footage from the sleep tests. A phone call to Claire and her secret computer minion meant the footage had all been mysteriously erased – and from the casino cameras, too. Meg had called in to the Omaha PD, posing as an Iowa Gaming Commission agent who was looking into a couple of similar description who might have pulled a scam at a casino in Council Bluffs around the same time as the burglary incident in Omaha. The grumpy police detective on the other end of the line said he had nothing and the trail had gone pretty cold, and agencies from other states were not being very cooperative.
There was one other mildly interesting blip on the news. Wales, Utah. For the first time in the history of the town, a resident was missing and presumed dead. Walt Jones, a young college student, had missed several days of classes and work. His home was empty and showed no signs of being broken into, but it also showed no signs of him packing and leaving as his homework, half-finished, was still on the dining table. The residents of Wales, Utah were offering a meager reward for anyone who had information about their beloved young neighbor.
No one suspected a caucasian couple in their early thirties of being involved in the disappearance.
Meg hummed happily to herself, clicked her phone into sleep mode, and closed her eyes, lay back.
Benny was hunched over in a beach chair beneath the same umbrella. He was wearing shorts and a t-shirt as a concession to the weather and fitting in, but his pale skin and the copious amounts of sunscreen he had to wear prevented people from looking at him and his grumpiness too askance. He had the laptop open on one knee and the tablet awake on the other, and he was switching back and forth between them with an intensity that would have made Dean Winchester call him a nerd.
“I think I got something,” he said.
“What kind of something?”
“Demonic omens in Lawrence, Kansas. Think that’s too close to Lebanon?” Benny asked.
Meg groaned. “Actual demonic omens, or teenagers being stupid? Urban legend has it that there’s a devil’s gate at Stull Cemetery outside the town,” she said. “But no one has tried – or seems to know how to – open the gate there.”
Benny made a thoughtful noise, tapped at the tablet. “The two cities are only about an hour apart. You think those hunters will still be there?”
“I think after we got done with them, Johnny Boy got a sound lecture and probably a beating for being a softy with monsters, and then they got the hell out of dodge,” Meg said. “So we should be safe. Omens?”
Benny listed them off quietly. Cattle deaths. Lightning storms. Unfortunately, nothing the people of Lawrence hadn’t dealt with before.
It was Meg’s turn to make a thoughtful humming noise. “Any signs of crossroads demons?” Crowley liked them best, and since he’d once been their boss, they mostly remained loyal to him. “Any sudden influx of popularity or prosperity for anyone in the town?”
“No,” Benny said. “No lottery winners, no unlikely marriages –”
“A ten and a two,” Benny said.
Meg huffed. “So cynical. People don’t have to be in the same league appearance-wise to love each other.”
“Humans are shallow. It’s part of the programming,” Benny said. “Still. Nothing except – you have got to be joking.”
Meg opened her eyes, sat up halfway. “What?”
Benny flipped the tablet around for her to see.
Meg flopped back with a groan. “Unbelievable.”
“Why are you surprised? You always talk about fangirls,” Benny said. He still sounded shocked. “And in the one book, there was that one gathering –”
“The First Annual Supernatural Convention,” Meg said. “Annual. Which one is this?”
“The, um, sixth.”
“And who’s running it? Becky Rosen?”
“No mention of her. Two fellas, I think. Damian and –”
“Barnes. Right.” Meg heaved herself up into a sitting position. “I bet that’s why demonic omens are circling. Crazy little fans are probably poking at real hoodoo. Pack up. Let’s drive.”
“Glory hallelujah,” Benny said. He snapped the laptop shut and scooped it and the tablet into his backpack. He tugged on his cap and made a beeline for the car.
“Yeah, no, don’t help me or anything,” Meg called after him. When there was no response, she hauled herself to her feet.
Fifteen minutes later she was out of beach lounging attire and back in proper hunting gear. She ditched the umbrella and the towels, because those weren’t useful in the long run. Benny was fully dressed and leaning against the driver’s side door when Meg arrived in the parking lot.
“I’m driving,” he said.
“My turn,” she shot back.
Benny pursed his lips, eyed her up and down. Then he held out one fist. “I’ll play you for it.”
Meg raised her eyebrow. “What?”
“Rock paper scissors. Come on.”
They played. She won, rock to scissors.
“Two out of three,” Benny said. He prevailed, paper over rock. Round three ensued. He groaned when he lost.
Meg shook her head condescendingly and said, “Always with the scissors, Dean.” She fished the keys out of his pocket, bumped him aside with her hip, and climbed into the driver’s seat.
Benny was still grumbling as he slid into the passenger seat. “What do you want to listen to today?”
“No music yet,” Meg said. “Fire up my phone and hit the fan forums. Find out what they’re saying about the convention. See if you can’t get a sense of how many people are registered, what kind of weird games – like LARPing – they might be playing. Also, see if there are any fans who might be more interested in the darker side of things and might have, I don’t know, attempted to conjure a crossroads demon.”
“Where do I start?” Benny asked.
“A place called Livejournal. I should already be logged in. My username is Dark_Thorny.” Meg grinned.
Benny hmphed. “Original. That’s what Cas called you, you know.”
“He was still crazy in Purgatory?”
“He saned up some,” Benny said. “But once or twice, he mentioned you to Dean.” He tapped at the phone screen, squinted. “Okay. Livejournal. Where to next?”
“Click on my user profile, find one of the Supernatural fan communities,” Meg said.
“You weren’t kidding when you said you were narcissistic,” Benny murmured, mostly to himself.
Meg ignored the comment, because he was right. At first, she had been very interested in what fans had to say about her.
“Hmmm. Okay. Official community for the annual convention. Dates. Times. Panelists.”
“Check the comments.”
“There are...factions. Canon only. Canon through first continuation. Canon through second continuation. No one seems able to agree what does and doesn’t count as canon. Some factions are recommending...boycotting other fans who show up dressed up as non-canon characters. Also, there are something called ship wars. Apparently the Destiel fans are pretty angry at the Megstiel and Denny fans.” Benny lifted his head, cast Meg a puzzled look. “Pretty much all of Sam and Dean’s lives have been onshore, except for that time I took Dean on the boat. Is this like a Star Wars thing? Supernatural wars on...ghost ships? I don’t recognize those two angel names.”
Meg rolled her eyes. “Did you not listen to anything I told you in Purgatory? Ship is short for relationship. And those aren’t angels, those are ship names. Dean and Castiel is –”
“Oh. So Megstiel is –”
“Well, that’s at least accurate. But then Denny –”
“I told you, there were fangirls for everything,” Meg said.
Benny blinked at her phone like it was an alien entity in his hand. After several moments, he recovered. “So, will there be people there dressed up like me?”
“And maybe even me. Or me in my previous meatsuit.” Meg shrugged.
“Oh. Will that blow our cover?”
Meg snorted. “Please. If Sam and Dean get mistaken for LARPers, no one’s going to blink twice at us.”
“Okay, then.” Benny sounded faint, stunned.
Meg said, “Keep looking. Anyone heavily into the demon faction and mojo?”
“Sorry. Yes. Looking, looking.”
Meg said, “Give me your phone. We can listen to some of your truly distressing rockabilly.”
“Thanks,” Benny said, smiling faintly at her, and he resumed searching.
The best thing about being a demon and a vampire on a road trip was that neither of them needed to sleep. Benny, who was fed up with the sheer amount of money they spent on sunscreen, tended to huddle in the back seat under his coat and sleep during the day, so Meg took that time to drive. What would have been a two-day journey was cut down to a mere twenty-five hours of driving because sleep wasn’t a necessity. When they crossed the state line in Georgia, Meg hustled Benny out of the car for a selfie in front of the “Welcome to Georgia” sign. She emailed it to Claire with a note that they had a lead on a demon for the final ingredient, and she hoped Claire’s midterm paper was coming along all right. Benny would have been pleased, what with his constant nagging at her to be nice. When they stopped for gas outside Atlanta, Meg insisted on trying some Georgia peaches.
She badgered Benny into another selfie in front of the “Welcome to Tennessee” sign, and in Nashville she bought him a signed Elvis record from a dubious memorabilia shop with the promise that Dean had a record player at the Men of Letters Bunker. In Missouri, Meg took another state sign selfie - Benny declined to participate in this one, because what they were doing was supposed to be secret, and wasn’t she always the one who said the internet was forever? Meg fired off the image to Claire in a text message. Claire better have some text on that demon-killing spell for her, and also ingredients for the demon-bomb (or maybe the one Kevin got from the demon tablet; that would also be nice just to know for future reference).
In Kansas City, they headed for an occult shop one of Claire’s contacts recommended. Benny pushed open the door of the dingy little building, held it open for Meg. The store was tucked between a smoke shop and a convenience store that was more porn-tastic than convenient. The store had the appropriate symbol painted on the window, so Meg trusted Claire’s contact’s judgment, for now.
Meg made a beeline for the back counter, list in hand.
The girl at the counter had smooth dark skin, glossy black hair in punky pigtails, and broad features, wide cheekbones. She was reading what looked like a physics textbook and wore a supremely bored expression. Benny hung back, browsing the narrow aisles idly.
“Hi,” Meg said, “I’m looking for –”
The girl lifted a hand without lifting her head. “Look, I get that this is one of the last stops in civilization before you get to Lawrence, but if you’re LARPing, I’m exercising my right to refuse service. What is it you want?”
Meg rattled off the ingredients.
The girl’s head came up sharply. She narrowed her eyes. “I don’t sell to witches, either.”
“Not a witch,” Meg said. “Just need to deal with a demon.”
The girl eyed Meg up and down, eyed Benny in turn. “Yeah, I’ve already seen a dozen of your kind roll through here. Benny the vampire, right? And who are you, Andrea?”
Benny’s head whipped around at the sound of his lost love’s name.
“Hi, both human here,” Meg said through gritted teeth. “Just on a hunt.”
The girl arched an eyebrow, skeptical and amused. “You kids can’t fool me. I’ve seen the costume before – fisherman’s cap, pea coat. Yours is pretty good, though. Your little lady sew it for you?”
“I’m not his little lady.” Meg took a deep breath. “Please. I need these ingredients and we’ll be on our way. Money isn’t an object.”
“Obviously not, when you’re taking off work in the middle of the week for that fantastic nonsense.” The girl lifted her chin, daring Meg to challenge her opinion.
“A friend of a friend recommended this place,” Meg said, forcing herself to remain calm.
“Oh yeah? What’s your friend’s name?”
“My friend likes to remain anonymous,” Meg said, wracking her brains. Did Claire have some kind of hunter handle? Her online handle wouldn’t have gone over well with any real hunters. She looked the clerk up and down, and then she saw, on the girl’s punk jacket, amid anarchy symbol buttons and badges, an anti-possession symbol. “My friend embroiders denim patches like that one you have there on your jacket.”
The girl looked down at herself. She brushed her fingertips over the red embroidery. “Oh yeah?” Some of the tension left her shoulders. “What was that list again?”
Meg recited it to her once more.
The girl nodded and turned away. “I’ll see what I can find. How much do you need?”
Meg requested triple portions of what she needed to make three bombs, one for her, one for Benny, and a spare just in case.
Benny came to stand beside Meg. In a low, tight voice he asked, “Will there be girls there dressed up as Andrea?”
“I don’t know,” Meg said, just as softly. “Maybe. Kevin didn’t really describe her thoroughly. They probably won’t even look like her. Not enough for it to –”
Benny nodded and stepped back.
The girl returned with a cookie sheet laden with little plastic tubs and set it on the counter. She also set a brass scale on the counter, which looked suspiciously like the kind drug dealers used, and opened the first tub. “How much?”
Just to throw off a particularly persistent tracker, Meg asked for additional portions of ingredients that she could use in other hex bags and spells. She beckoned to Benny, who slid forward to help, hesitant. They’d bought a box of plastic ziplock bags to store all the ingredients safely before mixing, which Benny produced from somewhere in his coat.
It took a good half an hour to assemble all the ingredients, and then Meg shelled out the last of their major cash to pay for the ingredients. She’d pick a few pockets to keep them afloat.
“Those are some pretty serious ingredients,” the girl said.
“We’re on a serious job,” Meg replied.
The girl nodded, grudging respect in her eyes. “Good luck.”
“Thanks,” Benny said. He gathered the plastic bags into his backpack. Meg remembered to wave before they left the store.
Back at the car, Benny took a deep breath.
Meg dangled the keys at him. “Want to take a turn at the wheel?”
“No.” He shook his head, as if to clear it. “I need some time to think.” He yanked open the door and slid into the passenger seat.
Meg, out of an abundance of the kindness Benny kept nagging into her, put on some of that Norah Jones he liked so much. “Will you be okay? Do you need to sit this one out?” She could take a low-level red-eyed demon on her own.
Benny laughed shakily. “I don’t know how Dean didn’t just start swinging when he got into the middle of all that mess at that convention.”
“Sam was kidnapped and tricked into marriage by a crazy fan,” Meg said. “Dean got off easy.”
Benny’s second burst of laughter was steadier, more genuine. “Really? Big bad Sam?”
“Demon magic,” Meg said. “It takes all kinds, and they ask for all kinds.”
“No wonder you were concerned about fans poking in demon mojo.” Benny shook his head in disbelief. “Sam’s basically been a puppet his entire life, hasn’t he? It’s a wonder he doesn’t come out swinging.”
“He’s too nice for that,” Meg said dryly.