jacyevans: (ruby // look into my eyes)
[personal profile] jacyevans
Title: Burn Your Kingdom Down
Author: [livejournal.com profile] jacyevans
Artist: [livejournal.com profile] cassiopeia7 - [ART POST]
Pairing: Sam/Ruby, Sam/Ruby/Dean
Rating: R
Word Count: 7455
Warnings: Violence of the tortured/torturing-in-hell type. Violence preceding sex, but nothing more graphic than what has been shown on show.
Summary: When Dean's deal comes due, Ruby makes a choice. She turns her back on Lilith, training Sam to use his powers with a single goal in mind: save Dean. Though they succeed, Ruby's blood changes Sam, as much as hell changes Dean.
Author's Notes: A HUGE thank you to [livejournal.com profile] dream_mancer, [livejournal.com profile] faege and [livejournal.com profile] geckoholic for their amazingly helpful betas. This fic would never be what it is now without their suggestions. Ya'll are amazing, as always <3

Be sure to check out the absolutely AMAZING, beautiful, perfect art by [livejournal.com profile] cassiopeia here. The scenes are exactly as I imagined them in my head. Thank you so much for doing such a fantastic job, for your last minute nudges that made the fic better, and for turning the scenes into something visually stunning <3

Finally, thanks to the mods at [livejournal.com profile] genteensybang for running such an awesome challenge.

Title from "Seven Devils" by Florence + the Machine.

Sam walks right through the Devil's Gate like he belongs, just another creature made of darkness, blood, and bone. He destroys the hordes of hell with an easy flick of his fingers, and Ruby covers his flank, grinning as she shoves her knife through demon after faceless demon.

She finds Dean standing over a body on the rack, flaying skin from bones. Alastair stands, smiling, at his side, while Dean’s blade moves expertly through joints and muscles, maximum amount of pain with the minimum amount of damage. The scalpel in his hands drips blood on the tattered soul, no inch of skin left unmarred. Ruby can’t look away, not even when Alastair turns towards her, laughter grating down her spine as sharply as Dean’s knife drags across skin. For a moment, she’s back on the rack, Alastair reducing her to nothing but skin and bones while he hums merrily under his breath.

Dean turns towards her, sizing her up, smiling while the soul on the rack screams.

She shakes herself, darting towards Dean in a failed attempt to wrestle the knife from his grip. She hisses when she gets a blade between her ribcage for her troubles. Dean drops the scalpel and wraps his arm around her throat. His other hand twists her wrist, squeezing tighter until the knife falls from her hand. Ruby shoves her elbow back into his ribs, but Dean doesn’t break his grip on her neck. Alastair looks proudly on.

They’re still fighting when Sam finds them, and Dean’s eyes focus slowly on his brother, like he isn’t sure Sam is really there. Sam pauses for a moment, too, looks at Dean - black eyes, skin covered in someone else’s blood.

“Sam!” Ruby shouts his name, breaking him out of his stupor.

Sam reaches out when Alastair rushes forward, and Ruby takes great pleasure in watching Alastair’s eyes go wide, the life slipping out of him inch by painful inch. Dark smoke curls from his body before he flickers out with a screech.

Ruby takes advantage of the distraction to slip Dean’s grip. Dean lunges at her left, and she twists, diving for her knife. Sam grabs Dean's bicep and reaches out to wrap the opposite hand around Ruby’s wrist. He drags them both back topside, slamming the door to the Devil's Gate shut.

Sam releases Ruby and lays Dean on the ground on his back. Ruby holds a hand to her waist, skin tacky with blood, her knife dripping with it. Sam raises his eyebrows, eyes black as pitch, power thrumming in and around him like lightning in a summer storm. She grins, throws her head back, and laughs. The sky seems to answer, thunder crashing softly behind the clouds as a warm rain starts to fall.

Dean groans as the rain splatters against his face. His eyes flutter against the sunlight filtering through the clouds. He squints his eyes open, just a shade darker now than their normal green. Ruby waves, raising her hand and wagging her fingers, and his eyes narrow, one hand pressed against his chest.

"Dean," Sam whispers. Dean turns - slowly, oh so slowly - to face Sam, breath catching. Sam’s eyes fade back to blue-green hazel, warm and entirely unthreatening.

"What did you do?" Dean asks, but the question is hushed, reverent. Sam's answer is muffled by Dean's shoulder as he gets his arms around Sam's chest, pressing his face into his shirt.

When she finally escapes from Lilith’s clutches, Ruby finds Sam living at the bottom of a bottle, holed up in East Bumble, North Dakota in a house that's falling down around him.

"Nice place you got here, Sammy," she says, arching an eyebrow at him down the barrel of the gun he levels at her chest. She places a hand on her hip and flicks her hair over her shoulder while she glances up at him through her eyelashes. "Be a shame to damage this body, don't you think?"

Sam lowers the gun, glaring at her through glassy, red-rimmed eyes.

"Ruby," he says, and she shoots him a coy smile, lips sliding up as she peers around the edge of the door.

"Gonna invite me in?" Her smile blossoms into a grin when he swings the door open wide.

Dean sleeps for almost a week.

He wakes long enough for Sam to ply him with food and water, glaring at Ruby through every bite, but otherwise remains curled under the covers wearing an old pair of sweatpants and one of Sam's giant hoodies.

Ruby watches him sleep, watches his eyelashes flutter against his face with every breath, deep and undisturbed. His fingers twitch, and Ruby checks the knife at her hip reflexively, tapping her fingers against the table. She compares this Dean to the one she saw in hell, standing over the rack expertly weidling a blade, thrumming with expertly restrained strength. Sam looked the same when he ripped a demon from its host with a slight wave of his fingers - rife with power, demanding attention.

She turns away from Dean only when the door opens. Sam walks inside, bringing with him the smell of fried food and rain, a cool breeze following him in as he closes the door. He places the bag of food on the table, glancing at Dean while he shrugs out of his jacket.

"Still nothing?" Sam asks, soft and tense and full of worry, and Ruby shrugs a shoulder, reaching out to snag one of the french fries from the Styrofoam container in the bag.

"Nothing worth noting."

"Do you think there's something wrong with him?"

The image of Dean with black eyes flashes through her mind, a blood-soaked snapshot. Ruby blinks at Sam, opens her mouth to paint this vivid mental picture aloud, but Sam’s eyes narrow, arms crossed over his chest.

Ruby snorts, rolls her eyes and pops another of Sam’s french fries in her mouth. "He was in hell, Sam, not Disneyland," she says in between bites. "Of course there's something wrong with him."

Sam lives off of beer, cheap whiskey, and the suicidal determination of someone who has nothing left to lose. He pores over book after useless book, relentless in his quest for revenge, to destroy Lilith and save his brother by any means necessary. He drives himself further and further into the ground, a catastrophe waiting to happen.

“You know, you really should look into some fancier digs. Someplace with an actual wall, maybe.” She eyes the opposite end of the room. Planks of rotting wood and half-torn cardboard cover the space where the windows used to be. The entire place reeks of mold. She wrinkles her nose.

“No one invited you,” Sam mutters, the words barely audible and muffled by the book in front of his face.

“You’re not kicking me out, either.”

He grunts into his beer, as much of an acknowledgment as Ruby expects to receive. She perches on the edge of the table at his side, glancing down at his book. The words are a jumbled mess of Latin that Sam is attempting to translate, the pad at his elbow covered in words, most of which are scratched out.

“There’s an easier way, you know.” She nudges Sam’s knee with her foot, slowly dragging the toe of her boot up and down the outside of his leg. It isn’t the first time she’s suggested he learn to use his powers. Nor the third, or even the hundredth, but Sam has a moral streak a mile wide, and he’s bullheaded to a fault.

Sam shoves her legs away, not once looking up from his book. “No, Ruby.”

She pokes him in the leg again, just to be contrary, and Sam scowls at her from under hair grown too long, bangs falling into his eyes.

“Why are you even here?”

“Someone has to be here to save your ass,” she says, hopping off the table.

Sam huffs a breath, taking a swig of the bottle clutched in his hand. “I don’t need a babysitter. I can take care of myself.”

Ruby gives the line of empty bottles on the table a pointed glance, then shifts her gaze to the bed he hasn’t used for more than a few hours the entire week.

“Sure you can,” she drawls, and Sam rolls his eyes, finishing off the beer.

Dean wakes up with a gasp, and Sam’s head snaps up from the book in his lap. Dean blinks as his eyes adjust to the bright sunlight filtering in through the blinds. He scans the room, shoulders relaxing only when he finds Sam sitting at the table next to the window.

“So Sleeping Beauty awakens,” Ruby says, leaning back in her chair to rest her feet on the table, arms crossed behind her head.

“Screw you,” Dean mutters, voice hoarse with disuse. His attempt to clear his throat makes her grin, shaking her feet back and forth.

“So soon? You miss me that much, baby?”

“Only in your dreams.”

“Hey,” Sam cuts them off before the conversation devolves any further into innuendo. He sits on the edge of Dean’s bed. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I slept for a week.” He raises his arm to scratch at the back of his neck and grimaces. “I smell like I slept for a week.” He yanks the sweatshirt over his head, folding it carefully rather than tossing it to the floor as Ruby expected.

“You did. Dean, wait.” Sam grabs his brother's arm. Dean stiffens, shoulders tightening, and Ruby almost expects him to haul back and punch Sam in the face. He catches himself, though, body relaxing so his arms hang limp at his sides.

“You’re sure you’re okay? You had me worried,” Sam says, and if he notices Dean's reaction, he doesn't mention it.

Dean tosses the shirt at Sam with a roll of his eyes. Sam ducks out of the way, letting it fall to the floor at his feet. “I’m fine, Samantha. Stop hovering and let a man shower in peace.” Dean stands and stretches his arms over his head, shoulders cracking.

Sam looks like he wants to argue, but he rubs a hand through his hair, rolling his eyes in put-upon exasperation. “There’s food, when you want it.”

Dean grins, slapping him on the back. “There better be pie!” he shouts as the door to the bathroom swings shut.

Sam continues to ignores the burning power running through his veins, close enough to the surface that the air practically crackles around him. He refuses her offer, again and again. He could use his abilities so easily, bend them to his will, if he would quit being so goddamn righteous.

Instead, he studies all of the wrong books and follows all of the wrong omens, growing more frustrated and belligerent as the days pass. Ruby’s halfway to siccing Lilith on him, damn the consequences, when he blunders straight into a trap.

Ruby gets back to the house after a preemptive food run, with plans to shove a damn burger down Sam’s throat if necessary. She finds the rooms empty, the bed unmade, his duffel, books, and weapons gone from the table. She drops the bag, spilling its contents to the floor and cursing a blue streak, while the lamp behind the bed flickers wildly. She checks her hip, and the light shorts out in a single spark when she remembers she left her knife with Sam.

She finds him two towns over, at a house smack dab in the middle of picturesque suburbia. He’s shoved against the wall with one demon's hands at his neck, tall enough that his grin is level with Sam’s face. A second demon - shorter, broad shoulders pulling at the seams of his jacket - reaches up to press Ruby’s knife to the thin skin at the base of Sam’s throat.

Ruby slams the door open, and the demon’s grip on Sam’s throat falters. She flings her arm out. The demon flies across the floor, slamming into the wall at his back.

“Hello, boys.” Ruby grins, ducking as the demon’s partner comes back swinging. Her knife glints in the dim light. He catches Ruby’s jaw with a fist, swiping at her arm with the knife. It slices straight through the leather of her jacket to her skin.

Ruby grits her teeth, wiping at the corner of her bloody mouth with her injured arm. She clips the demon in the ribs, sending her knife skidding across the floor. She dives, grabbing the knife, turns and sends the blade careening into the shorter demon’s ribs. He twitches, a marionette with his strings cut, before falling to the floor.

The other demon tackles Ruby to the floor. He throws out his fist when Ruby tries to rise, knocking her through the wall. Her back smashes through old wood and plaster and she falls, winded, on the other side.

The demon grabs her by the collar, fingers pressing against her windpipe. “Does Lilith know you’re a traitor, bitch?”

Strangulation won’t kill a demon, but try convincing a human body of that when it’s gasping for air. Still, Ruby grins past the lack of oxygen, and the demon's expression slips from smug to shocked the instant Ruby's knife swipes clean through his neck. He glances around at Sam, eyes wide as he falls to the floor.

Ruby heaves for breath, pushing to her feet. She nudges the body with the toe of her boot. “That was my favorite jacket, bitch,” she whispers. She rubs a hand at her throat, nodding to Sam. There's blood on his face from a cut above his eye but otherwise, he's no worse for wear, at least not that she can see.

Sam waits until they're safely ensconced in the Impala to lean his head back against the seat with a groan. He closes his eyes and only flinches slightly as Ruby drops into the passenger seat.

“You okay?” She reaches over to wipe at the blood still slowly dripping down the side of his face. Sam roughly pushes her hand away.

Ruby shoves at his shoulder, eyes narrowing when he hisses in pain. She adds bruised ribs to the mental tally of injuries caused by his stupidity. “You know, I did just save your ass,” she says, annoyance clear. “The least you could do is say thank you.”

“Ruby - “ He chokes off, swallowing past whatever wise-ass protest he’d been about to make. He takes a deep breath, closing his eyes again. “Okay,” he says, quiet and resigned. “Teach me.”

And who would argue about a simple thank you when Sam Winchester, stubborn, defiant, boy-king extraordinaire, finally surrenders? He can't see her face, but Ruby grins anyway.

Dean waits until he finishes his food to finally turn to Sam, eyebrows raised.

"So, what did you do?" He balls up the paper wrapper, tossing it into the trashcan beside the bed.

Sam crosses his arms, looking anywhere but at his brother. "What do you mean?" Ruby rolls her eyes, resting her hands on the table and settling in for the inevitable argument.

"What kind of deal did you make?" Dean casts an accusing glance at Ruby, and her laughter spills out, loud enough to echo off of the walls.

"I'm not a crossroads demon, Dean.” The idea itself is ludicrous. “I don't need to make deals."

"I'll bet," he whispers, and there's hellfire burning in his eyes, dark, smoldering, and brilliant. A shiver works down Ruby's spine, adrenaline and something else, something she doesn't dare analyze just yet.

“I didn't make a deal with Ruby,” Sam says, stepping between them, keeping Ruby out of Dean's sight, “or anyone else for that matter.”

"A normal person doesn't just waltz into hell, Sam, not without paying a price. Tell me."

Ruby shoves at Sam's shoulders, but he doesn’t budge. His entire demeanor shifts, and he seems to grow even larger, his power seeping out into the room, slithering across her skin in tiny sparks. He smiles, eyes full of a threatening promise.

"No," he says, soft but unyielding. "But I'll show you."

Sam might be a ready pupil, but he isn’t willing.

Honestly, he’s a pretty crappy student, despite the tips and tricks Ruby offers. He puts so much energy into casting his powers outwards that he can’t control them. He crashes and burns right in front of the demon he’s attempting to exorcise, much to said demon’s amusement.

Ruby thrusts the blade of her knife through the demon’s neck. “Not funny,” she snaps, yanking the knife back. She wipes the blade on her jeans and glances at Sam, who’s pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes.

“Headache?” she asks, and he grunts, wiping the back of his hand under his nose, trailing blood across his knuckles.

Ruby sighs, “Come on,” grabs the sleeve of his shirt, and tows him out to the Impala. She reaches into the backseat where she stowed a box of tissues and a bottle of pain killers. She tosses them at Sam’s head. The bottle misses its mark and falls, rattling, to the ground. The box slaps him in his temple.

“Fuck you,” Sam grumbles, rubbing his fingers against his forehead. He bends down to blindly grab hold of the tissue box and climbs into the front seat, shoving a wad of them under his nose.

Ruby picks up the bottle then passes it to Sam through the open window. She cocks her hip against the door.“Sam, your powers are like a muscle. You try too hard to strengthen them in the beginning, and you’re going to fall to pieces before you get anywhere. Don’t shove; just nudge them a little in the right direction and the rest will happen naturally.”

“Because killing demons with my mind is completely natural.” Sam lowers the tissues, fumbling with the bottle of pills and shaking four into his palm. He swallows them down with a swig from the whiskey bottle at his feet.

Ruby purses her lips, rapping her fingers against the door. “You want me to drive?”

Sam barks a bitter laugh, letting the roar of the Impala’s engine be answer enough.

Dean eyes Sam from the driver’s seat, turning over the gearshift like he turned over his knives, a finely tuned instrument in his capable hands. There’s tension in his shoulders, in his grip on the steering wheel and running down his forearms, reflecting his wariness.

“You gonna tell me where we’re going?” Dean’s fingers shift, clenching then relaxing.

Sam shakes his head, mouth tugging up at the corners, unable to keep the satisfaction from his expression. “Just drive.”

Ruby smirks. Dean catches her expression in the rear-view mirror, lips pulling into thin lines. He turns his gaze back to the road.

They travel another twenty miles, past empty fields and over back-country roads, before Sam finally says, “Stop.” He points to an abandoned warehouse about a mile ahead.

Dean arches his eyebrow, but slows down as they approach. He pulls into a spot at the back, the wheels kicking up loose dirt and gravel. He kills the engine, movements slow and unsure as he follows Sam out of the car.

“What are we doing here, Sam?”

“You wanted to know what I did to get you out of hell.”

“And the answer is in the middle of nowhere?”

“Just watch and learn, Sparky,” Ruby says, trailing behind Sam with a grin she couldn’t wipe from her face if she tried.

Dean opens his mouth but shuts it when the door to the warehouse flies open without Sam ever touching the doorknob, banging against the wall with an ominous creak. The three demons inside immediately come running, eyes black and unforgiving, the dregs of Lilith’s army scrambling to regroup with the loss of their general.

Sam flings his hands to the side, and two of them crash into the walls at opposite ends of the warehouse, falling down with a thud and a flicker of light.

This Sam is completely different from the one who first agreed to let her teach him how to use his powers. That Sam stared defiantly into the abyss, holding onto his moral hang-ups even while his fingernails scrabbled at the ledge.

This Sam jumps right in, barely batting an eyelash in the face of his abilities. He doesn’t even have to lift a finger, just stares the remaining demon down, and the demon hits the ground so hard, Ruby hears something snap. Sam smiles, feral and wild, and Ruby’s eyes slide to black to match his as his powers fill the room like smoke, pressing and thick. The demon doesn’t even have a chance to scream, flickering out of existence as surely as if Ruby had gutted him with her knife.

Dean’s breath catches, and Ruby finally turns away from Sam, half expecting him to protest, to say something to deter Sam. But when Dean looks at his brother, there’s no fear in his eyes, no hint of disgust or disapproval.

"Christ, Sammy," he says, voice soft and full of a little something like awe.

Sam grins, and it's like the sun coming up.

Ruby leans back against the wall, slowly rolling her head towards Sam. His mopey face is firmly planted in the book under his nose. She sighs, loud and obnoxious, approaching the back of the couch to lean over his shoulder, hands squeezing his upper arms.

“You just need a little more time, Sam.”

Sam shakes off her hands but doesn’t glance up, just tosses back another mouthful of whiskey.

“Will you please look at me for one goddamn second?" she asks, and he huffs an indignant breath in her direction.

He speaks with his lips still against the rim of the bottle. "Go to hell, Ruby."

She pushes off of the couch so hard it shifts a foot along the floor, stalks around to Sam and pries the bottle from his fingers. She throws it against the wall behind his head so the remaining whiskey splatters, painting the walls brown, glass shards scattering across her feet.

Sam lunges as she grabs the second bottle on the table, holding it behind her back and spinning easily out of his grip as he stumbles in his drunken effort to grab it from her hands.

"This isn't what you need," she says, breaking the bottle against the wall. She drags the jagged edge of the piece still left in her hand across her forearm until her blood wells up against the skin. Sam's gaze follows the drops as they fall to the floor, eyes skittering from the blood to her face and back again.

"No, that isn't - "

Ruby steps closer, dropping the rest of the shattered bottle. Her blood is a shortcut that he doesn't really need, jumper cables to a stalled battery, just enough power to give him a jolt. She draws her other hand down his face, pushing his hair away from his forehead. Sam closes his eyes. Opens them and stares as she raises her arm, holding it under his chin.

"Do you want to save your brother or not?" she asks softly, and Sam grabs her wrist, fingers shaking as he lowers his mouth to her skin.

"I saw you in hell, you know," Ruby tells Dean that night. Sam's out, gone to the diner down the road to pick up a couple of burgers for him and Dean and a platter of french fries for her. Dean's sitting on the bed, flicking the edge of a knife against a whetstone with easy, practiced movements. "Before Sam got you out. I saw you."

He doesn't fumble, not exactly, but his movements slow, fingers going tight around the handle as he exhales, slow and loud. "Then maybe you should think twice about annoying me while I have a knife in my hands."

"I'm not scared of you, Dean," she says, amusement filtering through, and when Dean glances up, she raises her eyebrows in challenge.

Dean drops the knife and the whetstone to the mattress, stalking forward, all control and lithe limbs. He looms over her, forcing her back against the wall, one hand sliding down to her hip. She lets him slowly drag her knife from the holster, lets him press the tip against her throat, hard enough to draw blood.

"Maybe you should be," he whispers, and she grins beyond the hard beating of her vessel's heart, mindless adrenaline running swift through her veins. She laughs even as the blade presses harder into her skin.

Sam's key twists in the lock. Dean shifts backwards, sliding the knife back into place at her hip in one swift movement as Sam pulls the door open. He makes his way back to the bed, picking up his own knife while Sam shoves the door shut with his foot.

Ruby slips her jacket off. Sweat slides down the skin at the small of her back. Sam places the bags down on the table next to the window. He turns as he shakes his jacket off of his shoulders, blinking in her direction.

"You're bleeding," he says after a pause, and she presses a hand to the wound, already closed, dried blood sticking to the skin.

"So I am," she says, and only then does she move to clean herself off.

The first time Sam successfully exorcises a demon, he grins the entire way back to the motel. His skin is pale, a sheen of sweat across his brow, but there’s one more demon in hell today, sent there by his shaking hands.

For the first time since she found him in North Dakota, his smile is wide and genuine. A darkness lurks behind his eyes that reminds Ruby of hell, fire and brimstone and power uninhibited, and she shivers, reaching up to brush Sam’s hair off of his forehead.

“You look like hell,” she says, chuckling.

Sam rolls his eyes, huffing out a laugh. He drops onto the bed and rubs a hand through his hair. “Next time, you try exorcising a demon with your mind. Let me know how you feel after.”

Ruby slips her jacket off of her shoulders, letting it fall to the floor. “Not what I meant,” she says, and Sam follows her every movement, eyes dilating when she pulls the knife from her hip. He draws her forward when she gets near enough. She straddles his hips, smiles slow and wild. “Need a boost?”

Sam drags her down onto the bed, rolling them until she’s on her back. He holds himself up on one of his elbows, hovering above her and reaching down without looking away from her face. She lets him slide the knife from her hand, lets him draw the blade across her wrist, guides his head down until his lips press against her skin.

“That's my boy,” she whispers with a smile, cradling the back of his head to keep him there.

Sam's chest rises and falls with soft, even breaths.

Dean watches him sleep, running a hand through his hair when Ruby sidles up to his side, arms crossed over her chest.

“You kept him alive,” Dean whispers, and Ruby shakes her head.

“He was alive when I found him. I helped him survive.”

Dean leans forward, bracing his hands on the edge of the bed. He presses down hard enough that he leaves the indentations of his fingers in the mattress, but not hard enough to jostle his brother. “So, what exactly do you get out of all this, Ruby?”

“The honor of your company and good humor,” she says, looking up just in time to catch Dean fingering the knife at his hip. Ruby breathes out a laugh.

Dean doesn’t look away from Sam. "I don't trust you," he says, and his voice is quiet.

Ruby glances out the window, looking out at the world - the flickering lights of the neon sign, the sliver of a moon on the horizon. The thing is, Ruby does trust him - not with her life, not like she trusts Sam, but enough that she'll sit beside him while he's loading salt into rounds for the guns or running her knife across a whetstone to keep it sharp.

Dean slips out of his jeans, kicking them to the side before climbing into bed with Sam. He watches her face, defying her to comment. Ruby doesn’t grant him the satisfaction and keeps her expression carefully blank.

She shrugs a shoulder, looking back at him with a half-smile on her lips. "What's trust got to do with it?"

Dean laughs quietly, fumbles under his pillow. Keeps his fingers around the edge of the knife she knows he keeps there while he falls asleep.

Sam quickly moves from exorcising demons to killing them, getting a handle on his abilities with very little outside help. The headaches begin the fade, the nosebleeds all but stop. One twitch of his hand or flick of his wrist, and the demon dies. A scream, a flicker of light, and it’s over.

Sam power-drunk and grinning, stands over the demon’s body while his death screech fades.

“I didn’t teach you that,” Ruby breathes, eyes wide.

Sam steps around the body, pulling her forward by her wrist. He’s quieter now, less prone to outbursts of drunken rage, attentive where before he was caustic and hostile. He found a better outlet for his grief, channeling all of those emotions into destroying Lilith’s army one demon at a time.

“No, you didn’t.” He holds her cheek in his palm, and his hand burns where it touches her skin. He kisses her until she’s forced to pull back for a breath she doesn’t need, but he doesn’t move his hand, threat and reminder both -
this is what you created.

He’s the best of both worlds, demon powers locked inside of a human body.

Azazel knew exactly what he was doing.

“Nice work, hot shot,” she says, and he grins.

The sun has barely crested the horizon when Sam wakes up, takes the Impala out and comes back with breakfast. Ruby arches an eyebrow, which Sam answers with shrug just as Dean is rolling out of bed.

Dean grins, rubbing his hands together. He grabs a cup of coffee on the way to the bathroom, and Ruby rolls her eyes.

Sam watches Dean while he digs in, doesn’t even touch his coffee. Dean stops shoveling food into his mouth just long enough to say, “Don’t think so hard, Samantha, you’ll hurt yourself.”

“I saw you,” Sam blurts out, and Dean’s fingers spasm around his fork. “When we got you out. I saw you standing at the rack. I saw you with the knife.”

Ruby sits up straighter in her seat, eyes all for Dean. He opens his mouth to speak, then shakes his head and gets up, turning away from Sam to stare out the windows. He doesn’t move except to raise his coffee to his lips.

The sound of Sam saying his name finally breaks him out of his stupor. “Dean?”

Dean could keep his mouth shut - tell Sam to drop it, that he’s making something out of nothing. But Sam saw him in hell, too, however brief the glance, saw him with dark eyes and a blade in his hand.

Dean doesn’t hold back, laying it all out on the table - Alastair taking him apart on the rack, time and time again, until Dean took up the knife. Learning under Alastair’s tutlelage how to tear a soul apart inch by painful inch, one after the other bleeding and writhing under his capable hands. His voice is soft but proud as he regales Sam with every colorful detail, each more gruesome than the last.

Ruby doesn’t look at Dean while he speaks, though. She watches Sam, the shifting expressions on his face visible even in the near darkness - worry giving way to surprise, quickly fading to astonishment.

Sam gets up and goes to his brother, places a hand on his shoulder and holds it there until Dean turns around.

“I want you to show me,” Sam says softly, and Dean holds his breath, holds Sam’s gaze even as his eyes go dark.

Dean exhales, and Ruby grins when his lips kick up into a smirk. “Find me a demon, then.”

The last of Lilith’s generals lay dead at Sam’s feet.

He tracked them to a church of all places, abandoned and falling into disrepair. Sam burns them out one demon at a time, drags out the pain. He forces them to watch as he kills one after the other, unable to move or speak, to do anything but wait for their execution.

The sound of slow applause draws their attention to the opposite end of the room. Lilith steps over the bodies, shoulders shaking with silent laughter. She’s wearing a teenager’s body, slender hips just barely starting to fill out. Her blond hair falls down her back to her waist, frames blue eyes that turn white while they watch.

“Well, well, well. I have to say I’m impressed.”

Sam twists around. Before he can lift a finger, Lilith sends him crashing face-first into the altar. His chin clips the jagged edge, and he throws out his hands, catching himself before he slams into the floor.

Ruby rushes towards him, but she’s pulled back, tossed into the shattered remains of a stained glass window. Her blood mixes with the multi-colored shards, staining everything red.

Lilith drags her up by her hair.“Do you really think I haven’t been tracking you?” She raises her fist. Ruby’s head snaps back with the punch. “Did you really think you could sneak around behind my back?” Another punch, this one sending sparks across her vision.“Every move you made since you crawled out of hell, I was always one step behind you.”

Sam climbs to his feet, reaching out towards Lilith. Ruby makes the mistake of glancing over Lilith’s shoulder.

Lilith spins, dropping Ruby to the ground and pinning Sam to the wall. He grits his teeth but otherwise doesn’t make a sound while Lilith strides over to him. He twists his head away when she runs a finger down his cheek.“You can’t save your brother, Sam. That was never the plan.”

Ruby forces her feet to take her weight. She doesn’t bother trying to mask her footsteps as she crosses the church. Instead, she grips the knife at her hip, taking great pleasure in finally stabbing Lilith in the back. “Plans change,” she says, voice hoarse.

The blow doesn't kill Lilith, of course. Lilith laughs while she reaches around to pull the knife out of her back. She flicks her empty hand, and Ruby’s back collides with the edge of one of the pews. “You can't kill me, Ruby,” Lilith says, smiling.

“Maybe not.” Ruby pushes herself to her feet on shaky legs, every inch of her body screaming with pain. “But he can.”

Sam wraps his hand around Lilith’s throat. Lilith laughs, but her smile falls when Sam’s power burns across her skin. She kicks, gripping Sam’s wrists with her nails. He doesn’t even flinch.

He kills Lilith slowly, makes her feel every agonizing inch of his powers. Lilith’s mouth opens in a silent scream. Her eyes roll back in her head, body going limp in Sam’s arms. The blowback from her death nearly takes out the church, and Ruby throws her arms over her face, stumbling backwards. She peers through the gap in her arms at Sam.

Sam remains standing, doesn’t even wobble as the church shudders and groans at it’s foundation. He drops Lilith to the ground, and the church catches fire, flames licking the walls. Sam walks towards the exit without looking back. Ruby follows, turning back to watch the fire burn.

The air smells of ash and blood. Of hell.

Sam doesn’t use his powers to find the demon this time. He orders Dean down this road and that, and Dean’s questioning look slowly morphs into a grin when they come to a crossroads.

Dean barely pulls to a stop before Sam’s out of the car, opening the trunk and digging through his duffel until finds a small, cardboard box. He opens it, revealing an old and weathered ID card for Samuel Winchester, graveyard dirt, and bones.

Ruby digs the toe of her boot into the dirt. Sam drops the box, covering it back up again. A full minute passes while Ruby taps her foot impatiently before she hears footsteps at their back.

The demon steps out from the other side of the Impala, eyes flashing red. She stops short, tilting her head to the side when she catches sight of the three of them.

“Ruby,” she says, then laughs loud enough that the sound echoes across the empty road. “You’re either very brave or very stupid. And you,” she turns to Sam and Dean, batting her eyelashes. She rubs her thumbnail across her smiling lips. “You’re in a lot of trouble, boys. Not even a deal could save you now.”

“Good thing we’re not here to make a deal, then,” Ruby says, and Sam flicks out his hand. The demon lets out a scream, cut short as her eyes roll back in her head. Dean catches her before she falls to the ground.

When the demon comes to, she’s tied down in the middle of a Devil’s Trap, held down by chains doused in holy water and salt. They singe her skin with every slight shift of her body.

She laughs when her eyes focus on Sam. “Is this really the best you can do?”

Sam stares back, cool and silent. The demon twists her hands, laughing when the chains press harder into his wrists.

“You don’t scare me, Sam.”

Sam smirks, tilting his head towards Dean. “I’m not the one you should be afraid of.”

Ruby shivers at the sight of Dean, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, sharp instruments laid out on a table. The demon grins wider, a feat Ruby hadn’t thought possible. “Miss you downstairs, Dean-o. All those souls ripe for the picking.”

“I wouldn’t worry about them.” Dean picks up a long, thin knife, makes a superficial cut across the demon’s cheek with the blade. She giggles, and Dean stops cold. For just a moment, Ruby wonders if he’s going to call the entire thing off.

Then, Dean dips the knife in holy water, dragging it down the demon’s chest from collar bones to navel, and the laughter turns to screams.

Sam watches, eyes growing darker with every slash of the knife. Dean reduces the demon to nothing more than nerve endings, screaming scraps of skin and bone. Every nick and careful cut sends an answering shiver down Ruby’s spine, and Dean raises his gaze, dark eyes boring into hers as he drags the knife across the demon’s skin. His message is clear - this could be you.

His arms are spattered with crimson, blood and thicker things, and he wipes a razor clean on the hem of his shirt. Dean nods to Sam to finish the job while he shrugs out of his flannel.

He grabs his jacket from the table, and Sam douses everything else in lighter fluid. Ruby waits until they’re at the door before she lights a match, passing it off to Dean.

He holds her gaze while he drops the match, and the room bursts into flames.

Sam doesn’t say a word to Ruby until they’re back at the motel. He climbs in the Impala without her, leaves her to get back on her own.

Ruby slides her jacket off of her shoulders as soon as she enters, prowling across the room to straddle his lap while he grips her waist.
Sam's hands squeeze, eyes darkening as she draws a finger down his cheek. Her breath catches in her throat when he lifts a hand to her throat, touch burning against her skin.

“Give me one good reason I shouldn't kill you right now,” Sam whispers, the weight of his power pressing down, heavy and stifling.

“Because you still need me to save Dean.”

He holds his hand at her neck, doesn't squeeze, just presses down on her skin. He could pull her from this body without breaking a sweat, send her soul back to hell in the blink of an eye.

She always was attracted to things that could kill her. The danger makes it fun.
He flips her onto her back and slides the knife from her hip in one fluid motion. “Doesn't look like it,” he says as he draws the blade across her wrist. She feels his power rolling through her with every pull of her blood into his mouth, electricity and fire singing through her veins. He raises his head, pitch black eyes burning into her own, and this, this is the reason she turned her back on Lilith, on everything she knew. Sam was always meant to rule. She runs her fingers under his eyes.

“I can do it,” he whispers, and the lights flash. “I can get him out.” Sam smiles, razor sharp, and a matching grin slowly blooms across her face.

Ruby laughs and the lightbulb behind her head explodes in a shower of glass and shards.“Then let’s get him out.”

Sam comes back to the motel laughing, sky thundering, a dull roar outside of the room. He shakes the rain out of his hair, and Dean chuckles, tugging off his jacket. He lets it fall with a wet plop to the floor as he sits down on the edge of Sam’s bed.

Sam’s laughter slows as Ruby shuts the door, slipping out of her jacket. She grins, sitting on the bed opposite Dean. She quirks a finger at Sam.

He doesn't need her blood, not anymore, but she still lets Sam draw her knife across her wrist, runs her fingers through his hair when he lowers his lips to her arm.

Dean watches from the opposite bed, breathing harsh and loud. She meets his eyes over Sam's back, clenching her fingers tighter in Sam's hair at the base of his skull while Dean grasps at the edge of the mattress, knuckles white.

Sam raises his head, eyes black as pitch. Dean hauls him back by the collar of his shirt and presses his lips to Sam's, surprisingly gentle as his tongue licks away her blood at the corner of his mouth.

"Jesus," Ruby says, breathless, and Dean chuckles, pulling away from Sam long enough to shoot her a smirk.

"Don't think he's got nothin' to do with this, princess."

She crosses the distance between the beds, holding Dean’s gaze as one of his hands settles on her hip. His fingers press harder when she straddles his lap, kneeling up so he has to tilt his face to meet her mouth.

Dean kisses her like a battle, lips and teeth and tongue nipping at her lips, just the right side of violent. She threads her fingers in his hair, tugging at the strands until his fingers clench against her thigh, harder and harder, enough pain for her to gasp into his mouth.

Sam's fingers at her hips make her lean back into his hands as they skim the skin at her sides, along her lower back as he tugs her shirt over her head.

They could kill her so easily, Dean with his knives and Sam with his mind, both of them vibrating with a dark power she feels under her skin. She holds a claim to the Winchesters now, molded them more than all of the powers of heaven and hell combined.

“My boys,” she whispers, because they are - they’re hers.


The ground in front of the Devil’s Gate hums under Ruby’s feet. She closes her eyes, sinking down into the sensations: hellfire beneath her, the smell of blood and smoke, Sam’s powers seeping into the air around them, thicker than the heavy fog.

The lock on the doors spin, tumblers clicking into place. She smiles, opening her eyes to gaze up at Sam.

“You ready?” she asks, and she grasps one of his hands.
Sam grins, black eyes gleaming as he throws the doors open wide.

Date: 2013-05-03 05:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cassiopeia7.livejournal.com
Aww, you KNOW I love it!

And woohoo, we did it!

Date: 2013-05-03 05:10 pm (UTC)
geckoholic: (SPN Sam/Ruby)
From: [personal profile] geckoholic
YES, IT'S HERE! :DDD I still really love the way you're connecting the present and the past, and how it comes full circle. So good. <3

Date: 2013-05-03 09:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brutti-ma-buoni.livejournal.com
Wow! This is amazing, taking them into very dark places while never quite (for me, at least) losing an understanding of them, and a sympathy. We know why they are as they are, and it's earned. Ruby's oversight of the Winchesters as they reach her level is exciting and engaging stuff.

Date: 2013-05-03 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] monicawoe.livejournal.com
::applauds wildly::
What a fun read! I love this version of events quite a lot!

Date: 2013-05-04 04:11 am (UTC)
snickfic: (Ruby)
From: [personal profile] snickfic
Ooh, wow. The darkness in Dean and in Sam is mesmerizing - what the did to get here is terrifying, what they are now even more so. And Ruby, leading every step of the way. Good stuff!

Date: 2013-05-05 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] faege.livejournal.com
YAY FOR POSTING!!! :DDD Great job, you!

Date: 2013-05-06 04:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elliemurasaki.livejournal.com
Ohhhh this is gorgeous and blood-spattered and perfect.


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