After the call and Dean telling him they've reached the end of the line, Benny drives west. Away from the sea, away from memories and his old life. He chased after both, didn't do him any good. That's over and it won't be coming back. No more being sea-bound. Maybe he'll head for the desert for a change, hot and dusty and devoid of old threads to get tangled up in.
He doesn't have much money on him, just one bag of blood in the cooler in the trunk, and the tank's half full. Something's gotta give sooner or later, but he won't worry about that right now.
The bag lasts until halfway through Ohio. By that point, he'd skipped out on two gas stations and thrown his phone out of the window on the interstate just to turn around half a mile later and pick it back up. Didn't matter; the damn thing's broken. A crack in the glass, won't even turn on anymore.
For some reason, that feels more final than Dean hanging up on him earlier had.
Illinois finds him desperate enough to bury his fangs in a horse that's been grazing by the side of the road. He'd tried to get his hands on some more blood bags in Charleston, but he'd waited too long. There's no way he can get into a hospital without raising a bunch of red flags in the state he's in; he's out of money and wouldn't know where to buy anyway.
Less than a day past the line, and he's already screwing this up.
It used to work for him, just knowing Dean's out there. Never more than a call and a few hours of driving away. They didn't even have to talk all that often; it was enough to be sure that they could. Not that much of a difference, Benny tells himself. It doesn't matter whether or not Dean cares. There's one more thing Benny can do for him, and that's making sure he'll never run into another hunter. Don't become a case. Stay good. But it's harder now, infinitely harder.
He spends the second night in a ramshackle old cabin in Nebraska that he drives past on accident. Well. Okay. He's gotten lost. The hunger's so bad that it makes him nauseous, impossible to concentrate, and he's tired. Staying on the big roads would have been dangerous for everyone involved. He was looking for a town, somewhere to hole up in, but this might be better.
Out here, there are no heartbeats to taunt him and the cabin smells like dust and mildew and nothing more. He falls asleep around sunrise, and he dreams of Purgatory.
The first time it happened, they had been scouring monster hell for the angel for no more than a few weeks. Probably. Time was fluid, the days sometimes shorter and the nights longer, and he had given up on the concept of counting sunrise after sunrise to keep track less than a year after he bit it. What was the point in counting down on eternity?
Dean counted meticulously. He had a notepad in his jacket, and a pen that ran out of ink mere days after they met. From then on in, he jotted down his numbers and calculations on how much time passed there and how much time might've passed on earth with whatever he could find. His own blood, if he had to.
That's how Benny knows two things: the scent of human blood didn't bother him back then, and it had been four weeks and six days after he'd stepped out of the shadows when he first felt Dean's lips on his.
They'd gone after a pair of banshees, retaliation for a prior attack on the two of them. Purgatory operates on the law of the jungle: if you don't want to be hunted, you go and take whatever's after you out first. It wasn't a particularly hard or long fight, nothing special, no greater adrenaline rush than what they did every damn day.
And yet, it was the day Dean decided to work off his surplus energy by backing Benny up against a tree, kissing him stupid and giving him a blow job that made his eyes roll back in his head.
In the evening, Benny goes deer hunting. The taste is horrible but it comes guilt-free, and that's more important. He should probably go and see if he can find a town close by, one with a hospital, or keep an ear open for a coven with an established supply chain to leech off of. This doesn't have to be so difficult. A few bags of human blood to squelch the worst of the hunger, get a job somewhere for funds, and there he goes. He'll be back into a good routine. Straight and narrow. Clear nose and all.
Funny thing is, he's not sure he wants that.
Back in Purgatory, he forgot what hunger feels like. His body – soul, whatever – functioned on its own, and in a way, Benny felt more human down there than he does up here. Downstairs, he was just a simple creature trying to get by, but topside he's a predator, a monster, something that exists to kill.
Down there, he and Dean could be equals. Now they're on opposing sides of a line drawn in blood.
Dean let Benny fuck him way before he dared to fall asleep in Benny's presence without a hand on his machete. Trust came later, but need arrived early.
In the beginning, Benny thinks, it wasn't much more than Dean reaching out for the only beast not out to kill him for some sort of comfort. Human contact. An emotion that wasn't fear or bloodlust. Benny didn't care what Dean's reasons were, he'd spent much more time without either than Dean had. He fell into it willingly, rough fucks with one hand on Dean's cock and the other over his mouth so he wouldn't make too much noise, sometimes cutting his breath off in the process. There was never anything gentle or soft about it, sex as rough as the environment they were in and that added a few scrapes and bruises to the ones they already had.
Even back up here, the few times they could've taken their time, Dean never let him linger. But the image of Dean on the cot of that boat they'd stolen, naked and fast asleep, light filtering in through the port light and painting stripes of light and shadow onto his body? That's how Benny wants to remember him. Not the fighter, weapon in his hand and clothes crusted with blood, not the broken moans while Benny pushed into him dry with nothing but a rock or a tree trunk to hide them from sight.
When Benny wakes up on the third day – or maybe it's the fourth, he's already lost count again – there's an ache in his chest that has nothing to do with the hunger. He's homesick, for a place and a person, and he's starting to wonder why he ever wanted to get out so much.
The woods are alight with a blood-red sunset, like someone set the sky on fire while he slept. Benny's looking at another night of hunting deer to satisfy his body's most basic need, and for a second there, when he picks up his knife and sets out, he wonders if maybe he should use it against himself. Go back. Make it final, get rid of the hunger and the shame.
But he didn't give up on home when was stuck in Purgatory for more than fifty years. Even if the word means something different now, he won't give up on it this time around either.