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pride: fourth time's the charm

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Benny ends up living in the bunker. He doesn’t mean to. Well, he doesn’t intend to, at first. After he got sprung from Death (again, turns out Billie is a pretty cool entity), he just… doesn’t know what to do. He’s alive again, Dean is finally dating his angel, and Sam has actually come around to liking him. And the bunker is nice. Of course, the humans in the place would love some sunlight every now and then, which is how another story gets suggested. 

 

Benny rolls out of bed at a later hour than usual, a glance at his phone telling him he’s got a text from Garth about this wine tasting that he and Bess want to bring him to (Benny’s not dumb, he knows it’s Garth strategy for getting him to come in for a checkup on his fangs). He sends a text back swearing he’ll be there and puts his packer in, pulls on some old clothes, and heads out to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. 

 

The bunker is 24/7 these days, but it still surprises him to see Dean, Sam, and Cas all hanging out with Jack in the kitchen when the kid should probably be in bed. Still, he’s holding lightning bugs in a jar and naming them with their dad’s rapt attention. Benny goes right for the coffee pot, not wanting to intrude on the family movement, but apparently Dean’s cup is running low too because he meets him at the little nook. 

 

“Morning, sleepyhead.”

 

“Oh fuck off, Winchester.” Benny grins easily. He glances at Sam, but the kid’s too busy paying attention to Jack’s story to reprimand him for bad language around the four year old. He’s a lucky one. “Did I miss anything?”

 

Dean shrugs. “Not much; Claire and Kaia are stopping in tomorrow, and Rowena’s gonna help with warding stuff tonight.”

 

Benny nods, loading some creamer into his coffee. “The kids gonna help out on the house, or are they just looking for a vacation?”

 

Eileen laughs from the doorway. Benny turns; he hadn’t realized she’d come in. Apparently she’s been watching though, because she answers him. She signs and talks, an aide Benny’s grateful for even with all his signing practice. “According to Jody, they are looking for any free bed that isn’t with her and Donna. According to Claire, they’re not doing jack-shit. According to Kaia, they’ll help out all they can. For some home-cooked food. And liquor.”

 

Benny snorts. “Sounds about right.”

 

Sam raises an eyebrow. “I hope you didn’t promise them great food. If they have the same diet Dean did when he was their age, the best I can do for them is sandwiches.”

 

Dean rolls his eyes at her. “I’ll do some slow-cooker meals for the punks.” Sam flips him off and nods, happy they don’t have to worry about that, at least. They’re pretty occupied already, between categorizing and digitizing the lore from the bunker and answering phones; it’s hard enough to try and figure out how to feed Dean, Benny, and Eileen once they’re all surly and dirty from working on the house. 

 

Once all the minor details have been settled for their visitors tomorrow, Benny, Dean, Cas, and Eileen head outside. The summer sun has set and the air is warm and humid under a cloud-studded sky. They all strip off their shirts immediately and get to work. (Dean had created a rule once they started construction that shirts were actively discouraged. Eileen was the only slight exception because she insisted she felt less vulnerable with a sports bra on. So it’s one sports bra and three scar-crossed chests instead.) 

 

Benny likes the work. He’d been alright at repairing things on the ship when he was still sailing, and there is still something comforting and familiar about working with his hands. It’s even better than back then, though, because now he’s got good people around him. Cas puts on Britney Spears and settles back with a book, the supervisor, DJ, and healer of their little gang (they need the healing more often than you’d hope). He usually stays up with them, and Benny would never admit it, but he thinks it eases his mind as much as Dean’s. Castiel’s steady presence is one of the few comforts he’s had in his long life, so sue him if having two there is nice. 

 

“Yo, Ben, you in there?” Dean’s waving a hand in front of his face. Ah, his other comfort.

 

Benny raises an eyebrow. “Sorry, chief. What’s up?” 

 

“I asked if you could help me lay up the drywall. Eileen’s too short to reach the top of the ceiling.” 

 

Benny smirks. “Oh yeah, but you’re tall enough?”

 

Dean flips him off. “Come on.”

 

Benny flashes Eileen a grin as he passes her. He and Dean get the ceiling in place, and it looks pretty fucking nice, if Benny can say so. Which he can. And he does. 

 

“Yes it is. You’ve done a good job; you all have.” Cas is at his shoulder without him realizing; Benny only gives a little jump. Eileen winks at him. 

 

“So does that mean we get a break?” She asks Cas, like he’s actually the boss. He looks between them. Dean bats his eyelashes and Benny pulls him into his side with a sweaty arm. 

 

It’s a good ten seconds before Cas gives in. 

 

They settle down with their beers in what will become the living room, perched on various supplies. “When do you think you’ll have it finished?”

 

Benny shrugs and guesses for the group. “Probably a month or so still, to get it all polished up and ready to use.” Dean and Eileen seem to agree, or too tired to disagree. 

 

“And then what?” Eileen asks. She’s actually serious when she looks at him, which is rare these days. “After the house is built, I mean.”

 

Benny falters. He hasn’t really thought that far ahead. It’s just been working, appreciating the company, and appreciating his now fourth chance at life. “Hell if I know.”

 

“But you’ll stay, right?” Benny’s eyes widen. Eileen rolls her own. “Of course we want you to stay, Benny.”

 

“I just don’t wanna… intrude.” He can feel Dean’s gaze on him, and he avoids it. This isn’t about Dean keeping his distance after the first run in Purgatory, it’s not. Mostly. He’s got lots worse reasons to have abandonment issues. 

 

Eileen crosses her arms. “You aren’t, and you haven’t been. And you know, this isn’t just me and Sam’s place. It’s going to be for anyone who needs it. Or wants it. We have plenty of room.”

 

Benny nods and takes a swig of his beer. He knows that. He’s listened to them all plan out this place, the safe haven and research library it’s going to be. Stil… “The hunters y’all are gonna bunk up here gonna be okay with a vamp like me hanging around?”

 

Dean clears his throat, and Benny finally lets himself look at him. He’s still leaning back against the wall, but Benny can read the tension in his arms like a book. “They will, or they won’t stay here. It’s not like this family is known for anything close to a humans-only policy, present company included.” He looks meaningfully between Cas and Benny. Cas just nods. He’s still mostly quiet around Benny, but they’ve started to get closer to being real friends, outside of Dean. One of the easiest talking points is still this new fight between human-purists and the rest that popped up after Chuck’s end. It’s a united front to stand on.

 

“Thanks,” Benny mutters. He finishes off his beer and wipes at his mouth. “Sure, I’ll stay, as long as you’ll have me.”

 

Eileen beams. “Good. Especially since you won’t give up your jambalaya recipe.”

 

Benny laughs. “I’ll take that one to my grave, Leahy, sorry. Family secret.”

 

Eileen glares. “We’re not family?”

 

Cas actually laughs a little bit at that one. “You might want to take that one back.”

 

“I don’t know, I’d think very hard before you call yourself a Winchester. There’s no getting out after that, I’m afraid,dear,” Rowena comes out from her hiding place beyond the doorway and covers Eileen’s eyes up from behind, eyes sparkling at Benny.

 

Eileen brushes Rowena’s hands off her face. “No fair,” she says, turning and glaring. “I can’t hear you coming.”

 

Rowena smiles sweetly. Considering she can use telepathy to talk to Eileen, it was a deliberate cheat. “Sorry, beautiful, I wanted to surprise you.” She closes her eyes and purses her lips until Eileen gives in and gives her a kiss hello. “I was just telling the vampire that becoming a Winchester is a one way street.”

 

“Dead-end, more like,” Dean quips. Cas rolls his eyes. 

 

“Not like he hasn’t already started down the Winchester street,” Eileen argues

 

“Not like I haven’t reached the dead-end already and started all over again,” Benny points out. Dean honest-to-god blushes and Cas raises his beer in a ‘hear hear’ gesture. 

 

“Haven’t we all?” They blink at each other, slow grins growing in realization.  

 

“Yup. Okay. Time for reflection on the Winchester Effect is over, okay? Back to work, bitches.” Dean pushes himself to his feet. 

 

The rest of the night goes smoothly. Rowena loiters and enchants a few door frames, does some magic stuff that Benny doesn’t really get in all the corners of the house, but mostly she just flirts with and distracts Eileen. 

 

Benny does get two ass-slaps out of the night though, and from the witch instead of Dean for once, so that’s nice. Good to be appreciated. They amble down for a tired breakfast at dawn, just when Benny’s skin starts to prickle from the sunrise. Jack’s still asleep but Sam takes a break from the library to eat with her girlfriend and wife. 

 

Benny ends up hunkered beside Dean who is next to Cas, watching how red Rowena and Eileen can make Sam turn with whatever filthy stuff they whisper in their ears with almost as much amusement as Dean. Sam glares at the three of them like they’re traitors every time a smile or laugh slips through, which has a grand total of no effect on them. 

 

Some days at this point, they lounge around the house. Benny and Cas have been sparring lately, being the only matches in strength around. Dean and he watch old movies and cartoons that make Dean nostalgic and remind Benny a little bit of a time when he understood all the new technology. He and Sam have started an honest to god book club that Benny’s actually been enjoying a lot. All in all, it feels like… it feels like Benny is starting to get his bearings in this life. 

 

“Oh hey, happy pride month, guys. Gals. Witches.” Dean knocks his coffee mug against the table. Sam nods their head in acknowledgement, Eileen too, and Rowena even blows a kiss in his direction. 

 

“What’s pride month?”

 

Cas leans past Dean to answer Benny, and Dean takes the moment of distraction to steal a piece of bacon off Benny’s plate, which he gets punched for. “It’s a recent tradition, made to celebrate the diverse range of sexualities and genders, in protest against the marginalization of them.” 

 

“Damn, Cas, read that off the Wheaties box?” Cas squints at him. Dean sighs. Sam interjects. 

 

“It’s basically when queer people throw protests and parades and parties to celebrate that they’re trans, gay, queer, whatever. It’s because the modern Gay Rights movement in the US started in June in 1969.”

 

Benny nods slowly, hand going to trace over his top surgery scars without even thinking about it. “Guess that’s another piece of history I missed out on, huh,”

 

Dean nudges him with his shoulder. “At least this time it’s a good one. Besides, you get to hear about Marsha P. for the first time. And fuck, you’re gonna love her,”

 

“She threw the first brick at a cop that first day,” Eileen grins. 

 

Benny laughs. “Okay, yeah, that’s pretty wild.”

 

“And that ain’t the half of it. We’ve got some movies to watch.” Dean says seriously. “And Sam’s probably got a whole list for your little book club thing already,”

 

Sam crosses their arms but doesn’t deny it. “Dean, didn’t you say you’d meet Jo at 11?”

 

Dean takes a look at his phone. “Fuck, yeah I did. We should probably get going.” He and Cas start to get up from the table.

 

“What about the slow-cooker?”

 

“Fuck, uh…”

 

“I’ve got it.” Benny cuts in. Dean bites his lip, guilty, but Benny grins. “Seriously, brother, I got it. Time to introduce the younger lesbians to my famous Jambalaya.”

 

Dean hesitates for one last moment before he nods gratefully and ducks in for a kiss. Benny’s smiling when he pulls away. Dean’s new easy affection is one of his favorite changes in his friend since he came back. He only blushes a little bit this time as he swipes the long hair off his forehead. “Thanks, Ben. I’ll for sure be back in time to get some.”

 

Cas leads in to squeeze Benny’s arm as a goodbye and they just wave at the remaining three. Benny manages to convince the triad to leave him with the dishes. Being in the kitchen still feels good, being able to just focus on the clinking of the dishes and the pressure of hot water against his skin. Jambalaya comes next, stewing in the biggest crock pot they’ve got until later, when he’ll wake up and make some sides for it. And, because he is a hopeless pushover when it comes to kids, he makes beignets after and washes all those dishes. 

 

By the time he’s done, he finally feels like he’s tired enough to sleep for a few hours, hopefully without being woken up by Sam, Eileen, and Rowena. Again. 

 

He leaves a note on the beignets for Jack to leave a couple for Claire and Kaia, a little nervous about making a good first impression even if he’ll probably be asleep when they get in. He hasn’t met them yet, but he has met all Claire’s parents, and knowing them, he’s gonna like them a lot.

 

When he gets back to his bedroom, he’s still trying to shake the nerves of fitting in, really fitting in, now that he’s agreed to stay in the long term. He googles pride out of curiosity, reading a few articles before an idea starts to form in his mind. 

 

Maybe the bunker could do with a pride party of its own. Maybe his new family would appreciate  a good old fashioned repurposed king cake (maybe that makes it a queen cake). Maybe he can finally take Sam up on their offer to put makeup on him, see how a pride flag, some blue and pink or a rainbow, might look on his cheek. Maybe he really is carving out his own place in this haven, in this family.

 

Maybe fourth life’s the charm. It sure feels like it.