A/N: Set after 5.14, “My Bloody Valentine.” “Companion” piece to “Running With the Devil.” And by “companion,” I’m talking that they’re about as related as the first Narnia books were to the middle ones. I’m not entirely certain. In my head, they were supposed to be parallels, but I’m not sure if they turned out at all like I was planning. Title from the song by Cher.
Summary: Sam's in the panic room. Dean's panicking and feverish. Ruby's doing monologues like she thinks she's in a one-woman show of Richard III. Wait, wasn't she supposed to be dead?
Ruby’s been dead nine months, Dean’s pretty sure. Yeah, his chronological skills may be a little rusty after all the blood Hell had poured on them, but he still thinks that he can remember how long it’s been since
“Dean, Dean, Dean.” Ruby stops and pivots, looking at him over her shoulder. “I have to say, looks like Death’s treating me a whole Hell of a lot better than life’s doing you.” She places emphasis on the words ‘death’ and ‘hell,’ in case Dean wasn’t sure she was referring to proper nouns.
“Nice meatsuit,” Dean chokes back, coughing into his upper arm. “No returns on damaged merchandise, huh?”
“Nah,” Ruby says, holding out her arms and examining them. “Store credit.” She flicks her blonde hair back and comes closer.
“So.” Hand on hip, it’s like she never left.
“It’s like I never left, huh?” she asks, smiling.
Dean blinks slowly. He feels hot.
Ruby jams her palm up against his forehead. “Fever,” she diagnoses. “We’re getting close.”
Close to what, Dean wants to ask, but doesn’t. Ruby turns away from him and starts doing laps around the motel room. He’s just finding a cool spot on his pillow when she reappears, once again ignoring the personal space sign.
She procures a pack of cards from her back pocket, and holds them out so Dean can see. “Deal me in, Dean?”
Dean rouses up a rattly laugh. “They never put you on crossroads detail, Ruby?” Her name is delicious, like raw steak left out.
Ruby narrows her eyes at him. “Nope.”
“Well then,” Dean starts around another coughing fit. “Let me teach you.”
By midnight, Ruby’s up four cough drops and sixty-seven cents.
“Come on,” Dean wheezes. “I need one of those.” He takes a swallow of tepid water from the glass Ruby’d gotten him, and holds out his palm. “Give it.”
“Fine.” Ruby rolls her eyes and drops a cough drop in his hand. “Now.” She starts the sentence but then lets it linger, her eyes on Dean’s, never wavering.
“Now what,” Dean says. “I’m tired, Ruby. It’s been a long night.”
“Long night? Try long existence.”
“Is that like long division? Because I didn’t have such great luck with that.”
“Shut up, Dean, I’m trying to tell you something.”
“Then tell it.” Dean swallows hard, and leans back against the headboard. Ruby picks up the cards from the bedspread and reshuffles them.
“Sam is going to say yes.”
“To the dress? I know. We’ve been waiting to hear back from TLC on the TV spot, but…” Dean breaks off and slumps back against his pillows.
Ruby stops shuffling and leans in. “Be serious,” she tells him. “This is—”
“Life or death,” Dean cuts in hoarsely. “Yeah, yeah, I know already. Cut to the chase.”
Ruby gets up and paces. “You got any whiskey?”
“Yeah,” Dean grunts. “Duffel bag.”
“You got any whiskey that’s not laced with holy water?” She hasn’t moved, her hand on her hip.
Dean sighs. “Under the bed.” Ruby kneels down and retrieves it. She shakes it as she straightens up.
“Fuck you.” Dean’s exhausted. Sam’s still in the panic room, and he couldn’t take one more night of Bobby puttering around in the kitchen, with thinly veiled hints that maybe he’d like to take a nap on the couch or there was Tylenol in the bathroom cabinet, if a person might wonder. Sure, it’s kind of ridiculous to be spending money on a motel when Bobby’s is only a few miles away, but hey, Dean’s thinking about doing his own MasterCard commercial someday- quoting the price of rock salt and silver by weight and ending with a toast to the camera, “Privacy- priceless.”
Ruby uncaps the bottle and takes a swig, then sets it on the nightstand.
“Okay, stud,” she says. “I need you to listen to me.”
“Who am I?” Dean half-laughs. “Jesse James?”
Ruby looks him up and down and then takes off her shirt. “Yeah,” she says. “Probably.”
Ruby says that she’s here for him, no ulterior motives.
That doesn’t mean you don’t have motives, Dean points out, but she just presses him harder back against the mattress.
I had to warn you, she says, spitting hair out of her mouth.
Warn me, Dean laughs for real this time, and then shivers. Warn me. Hell, Ruby, baby, I knew this was coming like it was a hurricane and I could already hear the trees falling over.
Hurricane Sam, she ponders. I kinda like that.
Dean pauses, shivers again. Ruby rides it out, shoves her hand against his neck. Listen to me, she says again. You have to keep this fever going. It’s the only way I can get to you.
Don’t think I have a choice, Dean tells her.
Good, she says, let’s keep it that way, and Dean laughs for the irony.
Ruby stops then, long enough to get Dean literally by the balls.
You can’t let him say yes, she says, but you’re going to anyway. I just thought you should know. If it’s not a surprise, maybe it won’t be as bad.
Dean chokes, laughing again, but she ignores it, instead plowing on with her monologue. If there ever was a girl who should start doing one-woman performances of Richard III, it was Ruby.
At the end, Dean doesn’t have anything left to say about his brother or how he’s going to play dress-up with the Devil.
Famine said I was empty inside, Dean confides instead.
Ruby licks her lips. He forgot one aspect, at least, she smirks, and then shifts, moving back up in the bed so that she’s on top of him.
Dean changes topic. Thought you were dead, he puffs, trying to catch his breath. Ruby trails her finger along the sweat on his forehead, licks it off.
Has death ever been permanent, in your experience? she asks, and Dean’s got nothing to say to that.
He closes his eyes. Ruby traces pentagrams on his chest, and he can feel them sizzling slightly.
He falls asleep with Ruby’s fingers still moving, his head like someone had dumped a jar of rusty thumbnails in it and then shaken it up.
When he wakes up, Ruby’s laying next to him, watching him.
“Jesus,” he spits at her, his eyeballs seeming to ignite somewhere behind the sockets. “Won’t you ever leave?”
She ignores him, sitting up in bed and leaning on her elbow.
“Heard you were praying,” she claims, eyebrow cocked. “Now was that before or after the fever hit you?”
“Before,” Dean grunts, twisting his fingers around some of her hair and pulling.
“Pity,” Ruby states when her face is only a few inches away from his, “At least then you’d have an excuse.”
Again, she tastes like death- sulfur and blood and lust, and oh, baby, it’s good.
She puffs air in his face when he breaks off, leaning over to hack into the pillow.
“Donner Party conditions down there, huh?” She quirks her eyebrow again, and Dean’s hit again with just how well she knows him, how she’s got him inside out by the intestines and always has. “Alastair always was big on Survivor. Said he got great cable reception down in the fourth circle.”
Fuck you, Ruby, is what Dean should say. Or Go to hell, if he was going for the ironic angle. Maybe even, Get off my chest, bitch, I got enough bricks on there already.
“Ruby,” Dean says instead. “I missed you.”
The next time he wakes up, he’s on the couch in Bobby’s living room and all he can see are books.
“Thank God,” Bobby says, taking off his cap and wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. “I was thinkin’ you were gonna pull a Sunny von Bulow on me.”
Dean sits up slowly and looks around. He can’t see Ruby anywhere, and as far as he can tell, it looks like he never left Bobby’s house.
He clears his throat roughly and rasps out, “Ruby visited me, Bobby. Told me Sam’s gonna say yes to the dress.”
“Shit, kid,” Bobby says, his eyebrows disappearing into his cap. “Don’t tell me.”
It’s chalked up on that list of things they don’t talk about, right next to when was the last time you got laid, Bobby, and that night in Cold Oak, South Dakota.
“You just woke up,” Bobby continues. “You spiked a crazy fever, kid, and there was a lot of, erm, moanin’—”
“Thanks, Bobby.” Dean shuts his eyes again and massages his temples.
“Kid,” Bobby starts out again, and then stops.
The only time Bobby calls Dean ‘kid’ is when he thinks that there’s a good chance he’s going to die. These days, that’s pretty much always.
“Dean,” Bobby says, in that your-cat-fried-on-the-hot-tin-roof voice, “Ruby’s been dead for a long time.”
Dean grimaces what could pass for a smile. “Along with the best of us.” He coughs into his elbow, and then fights a sudden attack of the chills.
Bobby looks at him like he’s not quite sure what to do with him. It’s the same look he has on his face pretty much always, these days.
“You’re sure?” he whispers finally, and Dean almost thinks that Bobby might believe him.
Dean looks over Bobby’s shoulder, and shivers. The air seems to shimmer with fever-heat for a moment, and he can just see Ruby, sitting on the kitchen counter, swinging her legs. Jerk, she mouths, laughing, and the urge to mouth ‘bitch’ back at her is incredible.
Dean blinks, hard. “Yeah,” he tells Bobby, never taking his eyes off that empty stretch of counter, “I’m sure.”