On that fateful day, his best friend had asked for help on his shrimp boat, and Benny had agreed. He’d kissed his wife goodbye and ruffled his son’s hair, promising he’d bake a shrimp meal fit for a king when he returned. It was supposed to be a short weekend, but it had turned out to be the last weekend of Benny’s mortal life.
When the vampires boarded his friend’s boat, Benny had looked into the monster’s face and accepted his fate. No begging for mercy or for his life, he just fell silent and locked eyes with his murderer. Coppery-tasting blood seeped into his mouth even as he saw the other monsters prey on his friend and the rest of the crew.
For the next ten years, Benny was rarely out of his Maker’s sight. Father, as he demanded to be called, wanted to make sure that all new members of the family knew what they were doing before he sent them out to find the right prey, and Benny, though he was one of Father’s favorites, was no exception to the rule.
His maker was head of three nests spread along the coast, along with a small fleet of shrimp boats. At the time, Benny had been new and inexperienced. Benny couldn’t help but look up to the vampire as a God. It was ingrained, he supposed. Even if what he’d had to do went against everything he’d believed in as a human. But, in all that time, he’d never once told Father about his human family, nor did he ever lead the nest back to Carencro, praying that his son didn’t believe his father had abandoned him.
New Orleans had become a haven, a place where he’d settled into his new life and his new family. A place where Father cared for him. So it was a natural location for him to set himself up as a fry cook after he’d seen the last of Dean Winchester. He found an unpretentious little place that catered more towards the locals than the tourist trade. Life was good, his urges were tempered in the familiar setting, and Benny put his feelings for the elder Winchester on the back burner. He missed his brother-in-arms, but he wasn’t crippled by his absence.
And sure, he got tempted at times, especially when one of his co-workers cut themselves. After all, he was a vampire, and blood was his sustenance, but he made sure to have a fully stocked first aid kit on hand and filled his work space with aromatic herbs and spices to keep the scents of humanity at bay.
Benny had been enjoying the peace of his life for several months when a blast from his past walked into the restaurant. Yeah, the hair was different. The neon white was certainly a new affectation, but there was no mistaking those cheekbones; that face. The infamous William the Bloody, Spike, was back in town. The way he strode into the place, as if he owned it… it made Benny grimace and sharp teeth dropped into place behind his clenched lips as he stared at the thing that dared to enter his home once again.
It took him a moment more to realize that Spike wasn’t alone. He had two young women in tow: one tall and lithe, wearing a flowered sundress, and one short and sweet with long, wavy blonde hair. She wore a short skirt and a t-shirt. The two of them happily talking with the vampire as if they didn’t have a care in the world.
Benny’s stomach twisted into knots. They were in deep trouble, and obviously didn’t know their lives were at stake. He was pulled out of his thoughts as the creature walked right up to him, ignoring the waiter and moving to the counter.
He slapped the call bell, the sound sharp and piercing.
“Oi, mate. D’ya have those bloomin’ onion things?” he called out. “Didn’t see ‘em on the menu, but they’re not difficult to make.”
Benny stared at the monster, remembering that same face covered in his nest mates’ blood. He stood frozen, knowing that he couldn't do anything, not now. If he did act, Spike would have no reason to keep from killing everyone around him. He waited for the vampire to say something else, to recognize him… to remember the bloodshed he’d caused amongst his family.
Spike snapped his fingers. “You all right? Having a seizure or summat?”
“Uh… sorry, man. Just drifted off for a sec.” Benny shook his head. There were no signs of recognition in the blue eyes he remembered so well. “What is this onion thing you’re talking about?”
As Spike launched into the merits and makings of the Blooming Onion, the shorter of Spike’s companions sidled up to the blond vampire. She was the one in the mini skirt, and it wasn’t until then that Benny realized what was emblazoned on her chest. Slayer. It took Benny a moment to realize it had to be one of those band shirts, like the one Dean had worn when he first arrived in Purgatory. He remembered the name, and upon escaping from Purgatory, looked it up… and searched for the new Slayer. It was an irrelevant thought, however.
The shirt was nice, even if the woman wasn’t quite buxom enough for his tastes. An odd feeling tickled at the back of his senses, but he pushed it away, blaming it on nerves at seeing a hated enemy after all these years.
The irony of the Slayer of Slayers killing a girl wearing that shirt… he imagined in the sick, twisted mind of the vampire it would be some sort of salute to the current Slayer. Maybe bring her to his attention and make her his second, or third or whatever number he was up to now.
“Is there a problem, Spike?” she asked, wrapping her arms around his waist. “Dawn’s getting really hungry, and you know what a human garbage disposal she can be.”
Benny tensed, hands fisting, nails cutting into his skin as he tried to stay quiet. She seemed so lively. How could he live with himself if he let these young girls end up dead?
“Nothin’s wrong, love,” Spike said, dropping a kiss on her upturned forehead. “Hopin’ to get the cook to fry up a bloomin’ onion for us. What’ya say, mate? Can you oblige a bloke and his ladies?”
"Sure." Benny answered slowly, looking away from the duo before his face betrayed his turmoil. “Will you be wantin’ anything else?”
“Why don’t we start with the onion, and see where that takes us?” At Benny’s nod, Spike shepherded the young woman back to the table, and the smiling brunette.
It took another half an hour before Benny could manage to find an excuse to go outside. The boss looked at him strange, since it wasn't like he smoked, but she nodded when Benny pointed to his phone. With one last look towards the vampire’s table, where the trio was happily munching on the batter-fried onion, he slipped out the back entrance and taking a deep breath, called the one person who might be willing to help. He prayed that caller ID wouldn’t deter Dean from answering.
Even though he knew that Dean would always pick Sam over him, he just hoped that the seriousness of the situation would be enough to convince the younger and more petulant Winchester that their help was needed.
Three rings, four… Benny began to despair. He was about to give up and attempt to do something himself after all, when luck was with him. Dean’s familiar voice answered on the sixth ring.
“Damn it, Benny? I thought I made myself clear that we needed to be done.”
Just hearing those angry words tore into the vampire’s heart. "Sorry, brother,” he said, shaking his head. “I really am. But this isn't about me, there're lives in danger, and I need your help.
There were rustling sounds in the background before Dean replied. “Spill, then. What can’t you handle yourself?”
"Have you ever heard about demon vamps?"
When an answer didn't come, Benny continued. "They mostly hang out around hellmouths or any place that feels close to the pit. They drink blood, like we do, but that’s about the only thing we have in common. Most of what legends and lore say about vampires is about them, not my kind."
"Ya mean all that crap about crosses, and the lack of reflection?"
"That and they can be killed by wooden stakes through the heart, or beheadings."
"So what's the problem?” Dean asked. “You can drive a stake through their hearts… seems like easy peasy work for a vamp like you.”
"You'd think, right? For all their vulnerabilities, they're faster, they're stronger, they're all-‘round more powerful than us. My nest went up against just two of them back in the thirties. There were over twenty of us, and two of them, and they tore through us as if they were shredding paper. We didn't stand a chance. And now he's back.”
"Damn." Dean muttered.
"They don't care about Hunters. From what I saw, they kill with abandon. They didn't even bother to feed on most of the people they killed; just used their fangs to rip out throats. Basically, they killed for the sheer pleasure of it. The one I saw in the thirties, he just walked into the bar I'm working at. And it looks like he's got an appetizer and lunch with him."
There was a slight pause before Dean answered. “I’m in Kansas right now, and I have to talk to Sammy first. It’ll take me at least fifteen hours. Think you can keep an eye on 'em for that long?”
Benny threw back his head in sheer relief.
“Hey, Benny! Get your ass back inside.” Georgia yelled from the back door. “Not payin’ you for yappin’ on the phone all day. We got orders stacking up while you’re here, lollygaggin’ around.”
Benny nodded at his boss, a fifty-something year old woman with café-au-lait skin and the personality of a prickly alligator if you got on her wrong side. “Be right there, Georgia,” he promised before turning his attention back to the phone. He knew he had to finish quickly, because it didn’t look like Georgia was going to be patient for too much longer, and he wasn’t looking forward to being beheaded by her wooden spoon.
"Just get in here, brother,” she said as she walked back inside. “‘Cause I can't handle this on my own."
“Gotta go, Dean. Just hustle. I’ll do my best to keep track of the three of ‘em.”
"Benny, if this guy is as dangerous as you say he is, don't commit suicide. Save the vics if you can, but don't be stupid about it."
“Will do, man. Will do.”
Benny wondered if he should warn the local nests. There were at least three in town that he knew about and all three were non-killing nests. Not that they cared about the humans around them, but New Orleans was an old city, and it's vampires had been a fixture in it for too long to risk their safety by bringing themselves to the attention of Hunters. A vampire like Spike would draw the interest of half the state… perhaps half the South, and there was no way any of the nests would allow that. He just didn’t think they’d stand a chance against Spike.
The only reason Benny survived the destruction of his nest, was the cross he’d grabbed to try and hit the bumpy-faced, yellow-eyed monster with.
His nest had several of the damn things lying around, his maker had seen it as an affront to the humans they took home, as if mocking them for their silly beliefs that their holy objects would actually protect them. When it actually worked in warding off the beast he’d found himself face-to-face with, he was as surprised as the other seemed at his ability to hold the cross in the first place.
It wasn't until he went to Purgatory that he learned the difference. That while vampires of his own kind were children of Eve, the demon vamps were creatures straight out of hell, possessing the body of those they killed, barely retaining the memories and personalities of the humans they'd been before they were turned.
“Fuckin’ hurry, Dean,” he muttered, returning to his job.
Never say Buffy couldn’t multi-task. She sat at the table, ankles crossed, knees together, holding Dawn’s hand while talking with Willow on her phone. And above all else, her eyes were glued to Spike’s back (side), as his gestures got more animated the longer he talked to the cook, obviously relishing the description of his favorite treat. He did this in every restaurant and dive they visited.
“Willow, don’t,” she begged. “It’s not that I don’t understand. But don’t try and plead Xander’s case to me, not now. The whole reason we took off was to get away… to give Dawn a chance to breathe and get her feelings under control. I’ve already talked about this with Xander, and whatever else he has to say can wait.”
Dawn squeezed Buffy’s hand in thanks, and Buffy was happy she could help ease her baby sister’s pain. A quick glance told her Spike was still talking with the cook.
“Willow, I’ve gotta run. I promise we’ll talk later.” Slipping her phone into her purse, Buffy excused herself to Dawn and headed over to join her favorite vampire.
“Is there a problem, Spike?” she asked, walking up to her ‘bloke’ and wrapping her arms around his waist. “Dawn’s getting really hungry, and you know what a human garbage disposal she can be.”
“Nothin’s wrong, love,” Spike said as he kissed her forehead. “Hopin’ to get the cook to fry up a bloomin’ onion for us. What’ya say, mate? Care to oblige a bloke and his ladies?”
"Sure," the cook answered slowly, looking down at his order slips. From the note of tension in his voice, Buffy could only figure a customer telling him how to do his job pissed him off. “Will you be wantin’ anything else?” There was just something off in the way he looked at her; it just gave her the wiggins.
“Why don’t we start with the onion, and see where that takes us?” At the cook’s nod, and the sight of his back as he turned away from them, Spike wrapped his arm around Buffy’s shoulder, heading back to their table and Dawn.
"Yes, please ignore that I'm here and just go about having fun with my sister." Dawn teased before she grabbed one of the breadsticks from the little wicker basket and bit off the end.
“At least she doesn’t stick them in her nose and play walrus anymore,” Buffy snorted.
“Bit’s got it right, though,” Spike laughed, as he held Buffy closer, feathering kisses down the slope of her neck. “She’s not a little girl anymore, even if she acts like one. Think she’ll survive if I snog big sis in front of her.”
Buffy protested, more out of habit than anything else, but there was no real heat in it. Holding Spike at bay was becoming more and more difficult as his hand moved slowly down her thigh, and then began to travel upwards. This time a little push accompanied her words. “Stop. Spike, please!”
“Love it when my woman begs,” he smirked. His face glowed with smugness and self-satisfaction.
“Oh my god!” Dawn squealed. “Won’t you two ever grow up?”
Spike looked at her, head cocked to the side and eyebrows dancing. "Now why would we want to do that?" he asked, his tongue swiping across his full bottom lip, hinting at the delights he had in store for big sis once they got back to their room.
"Ewww! Impressionable younger sister here." Dawn was so obviously overacting that even Buffy couldn’t take her seriously any more. She was halfway convinced that the monks had messed up somewhere, leaving Dawn stuck as an eternal twelve year old in a grown woman’s body. Then again, maybe it was a younger sister thing. Dawn never behaved like that when around her peers… just with the old familiars.
“Impressionable, my ass,” Buffy muttered, now fully grinning. “Who was it that found you and Carlo pretzel-wrapped in your bed?”
"Or that Kitsune you ended up with in Hawaii?" Spike added, a soft sub-vocal growl accompanied his words as his eyes flashed amber.
“Oh, knock off the dramatics, fang-boy,” Buffy said, slapping his arm. “We all knew this was gonna happen eventually.”As if she herself hadn’t been the one to kick the Kitsune out of the door, long before Spike had ever gotten to him.
"Shoulda locked Bit in the cupboard 'til she was fifty," he groaned..
"And watch me slip out the second you had your back turned?" Dawn grinned.
“Again?” Spike and Buffy chorused.
"We should have gone with the lojack," Spike muttered.
“All right! Enough!” Dawn held up her hands. “I promise to stop being such a brat if you two stop treating me like such a baby.”
"Don't worry Dawnie, I promise not to let Spike chase away every guy that comes close to you when we head to the French Quarter tomorrow." Just every other one that even looked at Dawn as if they might try to bed her. Which probably meant they’d be busy beating them off with a stick.
“Hrmph,” Dawn sighed. “You’d better. You promised I would enjoy myself if I came with you on this road trip. I need a little ‘something’ to get my motor running, and Spike comes on like a bucket of cold water.”
"Summers word of honor, Dawn. You won’t regret leaving the Council library to set foot in the world for a change.”
"Don't I get a say in this?" Spike asked, petulantly.
"No." answered Dawn and Buffy in perfect agreement.
The ribbing continued as a perfect onion-flower was set before them, along with a bowl of hot sauce. The place wasn't high class, but at least they weren't at some demon bar, and the battered treat was a delight. Once they’d finished and the bill was paid, they walked out, heading for their hotel.
Buffy’s arm wrapped comfortably around Spike’s waist as they walked slowly, taking in the peaceful night. Dawn strode slightly in front of the couple, nattering away about tomorrow’s itinerary. Just as Buffy was about to grab herself a nice firm handful of vampire ass, she felt… something. Tinglies, but not the usual vampire kind. She whipped her head around, but to no avail. Whatever it was, it was being very, very sneaky.