There was a knock at the door just as Benny grabbed a beer out of the fridge.
“Jody,” he said in some surprise when he opened it to see her standing there. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” he asked, taking in the fact that she was still in her uniform.
She hooked her thumbs in her belt loops. “Well, howdy Benny. Is Alfie in?”
“Nope. He’s over at Missouri’s,” Benny said. He stepped back and gestured into the apartment. “But he should be home in a bit. What’s going on?”
She took his invitation and followed him inside. “Well, I just got a call from one Rufus Turner – who is an ornery old coot, I’ll tell ya – “
Benny laughed and nodded. “He is that but… he was also invaluable this summer.”
“So I hear,” She said dryly. “Looks like you boys had a bit of excitement. Rufus wants me to follow up with Alfie about a few things for his case. Apparently, our boy is dead center of it. I’ll save those questions for when he gets back though.” She perched against his counter as he sat on one of the stools there and sipped his beer. “Why don’t you tell me what happened? I’ve got a feeling Rufus left out a few things.”
“Well, ain’t much to tell. Alfie’s brothers found him and harassed us a couple of times. Some vandalism of property too, before they resorted to an all out attack – I think they were planning on kidnapping him.” Benny’s hands clenched tight at the thought. Even though it was over, it still made his stomach uneasy. “We caught them, stopped them with a bit of help and then we found out Alfie’s not even related to them which, hell, I ain’t looking at that as a bad thing at all.”
She nodded. “I can’t say that I blame ya. People like that?” She shook her head commiseratingly. “We’re all just better off without them.”
He took a deep breath. He’d been thinking about this ever since they found out, through the whole ride home, and over the last two weeks. He’s felt guilty as hell and had been debating bringing it up with Jody the entire time but… it was also over and done with, and he couldn’t change the past. Still… it had happened, and Benny felt awful about it and now she was here talking about the very thing that had been weighing on his mind.
Honestly, he was surprised she hadn’t come by sooner. He wasn’t sure whether to thank Rufus or curse him.
“Jody, he was a missing person and we never even knew. How is that possible? You ever think about how… how we kept him from his real family?” Benny’s words were low but rough, his accent thick, as he asked the questions that had been burning in him since they found out. Was this his fault?
“You’re feeling all sorts of guilty over that, aren’t ya?” she asked shrewdly.
“Well, yeah,” Benny said, blinking. “Wouldn’t anyone?”
“Look, Benny, we never ran his prints because he wasn’t a criminal. And with the documentation he’d stolen before he ran away, well, we never had cause to suspect it. Simple as that. But hell, now that we know it’s faked, that opens up a whole other can of worms, don’t it? Like who do they know that can just get fake birth certificates and social security numbers so easily? I suspect that’s something else Rufus is gonna wanna follow up on. I know I would,” Jody said.
“I know you’re right but… I still feel like I’ve kept him from his family. They could be good people. Now he’s… you know he’s scared?” Benny asked her, taking another swig of his beer. “He doesn’t even know if he wants to meet them. I can’t imagine being them right now. Not only losing your child and never knowing what happened to him, but then finding out he’s alive and well and… he ain’t even tried to contact them and they gotta know that he knows the truth by now. It’s gotta hurt somethin’ awful.”
“Don’t go down that road, Benny. This ain’t on you or us. We did what we did to keep him out of the system and to keep him safe. And there wasn’t any other reason to run his prints. We couldn’t have known this was likely. In fact,” Jody chuckled, shaking her head. “by normal standards, it’s not. It’s more like a soap opera than real life.”
Benny barked out a laugh and wiped at his face with one hand. It was a pretty on point way to describe the events of that summer, that was sure.
Her lips twitched at his amusement. “So of course, you boys get to be the stars in your very own show.”
“Well, you know me, I just love drama,” Benny drawled wryly. He sighed, the smile falling away. “I just hope he don’t regret not finding his family sooner if he finally gets the courage to talk to them and they turn out to be good people.”
“You’re going to encourage him to meet them, aren’t ya?” she asked.
“Of course. Family is important.” Benny swallowed past the ache he still held after all this time. He had no family left, and he supposed that was part of the reason why he hoped so badly for Alfie to get this reconciliation, even if being alone in the world was part of what had drawn them together to begin with.
“You can still say that, even after - ?” Jody let the question trail off. She didn’t have to finish. Everyone in town knew what had happened, except the folks who’d moved in after. Like Alfie, but Benny hadn’t kept any secrets from him and Alfie was well aware of what had gone down.
Benny nodded. “I miss my brother every damn day, despite what he’d done. It was the only thing he’d ever done that was so…” Benny floundered for a proper word. “Selfish? Anyways, the fault ain’t all on him. Takes two to cheat,” he shrugged. “Andrea was just as complicit. And I dunno, maybe I drove her to it.”
She looked at him sympathetically. “You’ve a good heart Benny, and very forgiving.”
“I don’t know about that,” Benny said, downing the last of the beer and turning away to toss the bottle into the recycling bin. “But I try not to let it bog me down. Carrying that baggage could hurt what I have with Alfie. I trust him, and I don’t need my past bad blood coming back to ruin that.”
“So, if Andrea showed up tomorrow?” her eyebrows rose.
“I don’t want nothin’ to do with her. I’ll wish her well and walk away. Maybe I’ve forgiven her, as I have Eli, but seein’ her would bring up nothing but bad memories I don’t need. I’ve moved on, and I’m happy now and I think…” Benny shrugged. “Well, like I said. Maybe I drove her to it. I loved Andrea, but I never loved her the way I do Alfie. There was something missing there that I never realized was missing till I found him but maybe… maybe she knew it all along. If she saw a different path to happiness, then I can’t blame her for taking it – only at how she did it.”
Jody shook her head again. “Like I said, Benny. You’ve got a good heart.”
“You also said I live in a soap opera and you’re right about that too. Can’t get much more soap opera than a love triangle with your own evil twin. Now all that needs to happen is we find out he never really died, but has been living a second life somewhere with amnesia.”
Jody shook her head. “Jesus, Benny. And I thought my humor was morbid.” Whatever else she was going to say was stalled when the door opened and Alfie walked through.
He paused, just as surprised to see Jody in their apartment - and in her uniform, no less – as Benny had been when he’d answered her knock. Not that Jody was a stranger to their lives, but she’d made it a point over the years not to show up to their place in uniform, ever. The diner, sure, but not their home.
Instantly, Benny could see Alfie was nervous. He crossed the room and took Alfie in his arms, giving him a gentle kiss. “Welcome back, cher. How was tea with Missouri?”
They never called them sessions. The meetings with Missouri may have started that way but they’d become something way more informal along the way as Alfie’s need for the sessions dwindled and he just enjoyed her company. Benny couldn’t blame him.
“It was good. Talked more about some of the things going on this summer. I hope you don’t mind?”
Benny knew what he was really asking. Alfie had already long since talked with Missouri about his parents and the revelation about his family, and he knew it was something that kept getting brought up every time they met as Alfie continued to hash out his feelings about it with her. That he was asking specifically, though, when Benny already knew all that? Then that meant it was about Dean and Cas and Benny. Benny wondered if he should get in on those talks, as he was as much in the dark on how to navigate a poly relationship as Alfie was.
“Its fine, cher.”
Jody cleared her throat behind them.
“I’m sorry to interrupt the domesticity here, but I am on official business. Now there’s nothing pressing at the station just now so there’s no rush but we should probably get a move on,” Jody noted. “And Alfie, don’t worry. You’re not in trouble. But I heard about what happened at the festival and I’ve been tasked to be liaison here in case Rufus has any more questions. Which, of course, the old coot does.”
Alfie chuckled, Jody’s matter of fact manner putting him almost instantly at ease. The fact that they knew her so well and she was genuinely a good person also helped.
“Of course. I don’t know how much more help I can actually be but… I suppose, if there’s something I can tell you, I’ll do what I can to make sure my broth –“ Alfie paused and closed his eyes. “Those men can’t do anything bad to anyone else.”
Benny went back into the kitchen to give the two some privacy but still remain where Alfie could see him, in case he needed him. It was an open concept room so he could still hear Jody and Alfie if he made the effort to, but instead, he went about heating up some soup he’d brought back from the diner and pulling out some bread he’d made that morning with dinner in mind.
Jody and Alfie talked quietly and Benny tried to keep one eye on them and one on what he was doing in case Alfie showed any signs of distress. He couldn’t blame his boyfriend one bit. Benny hadn’t had all that much exposure to the brothers Alfie had believed were his and he’d been stressed as it was.
He suspected his causes of stress were of slightly different natures but also figured they were rooted in the same fears.
Maybe he should make an appointment with Missouri. Even just for himself, one on one, so he could talk out the incidents and the fears that had risen, just so he could get it out without causing Alfie more stress than necessary. Being on call to help with the case probably wasn’t going to be easy on him and Benny wanted to make sure he was as strong as Alfie needed him to be.