A/N: So, over the summer, kalliel and I were going to write fic/make a vid based on the song “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” by BRMC. We agreed that it should include Dean/Alastair and our favorite girls, Meg and Ruby. Somehow, my fic turned into… this. Title from the song by Don Henley. Hearts as always to kalliel for beta-ing. <3
Summary: Snapshots of the summer in between Dean’s death and resurrection.
A/N 2: This fic can also masquerade under the working title, 'OMG I WROTE GEN!RUBY!!!!'
There’s a vial of dirt and a crumpled receipt in Sam’s pocket. A piece of metal hanging around his neck, waiting to drag him into the ground, to be with its original owner. A hole in his heart. He hasn’t had a consult, but the girl he’s dangling at the end of a finger has rolled her eyes and deemed it non-surgical.
“You have all day, Sam? Daylight’s burnt to a crisp.” She’s perched on the diner table, clacking the heels of her motorcycle boots together.
“Hell,” Sam tells her, getting up. “No matter how apt your name is, we aren’t in Kansas anymore.”
Ruby’s face is tinged with a smile, like blood dripping into a glass of water. She hops down off the table. They don’t leave a tip.
“I just love summer, don’t you, Dean?”
Dean spits out a tooth, trailing a kite end of pink saliva. Alastair picks it up, polishes it on his suitcoat. Puts it in his mouth.
“S’always summer here,” Dean manages. “S’nothing special.”
Alastair sucks on the tooth, savoring the taste of blood. He pokes it into his cheek and smiles at Dean. “Exactly.”
The orange Mustang’s humming, and it’s past midnight at a dive bar in the middle of the continental U.S. Sam’s not sure where. There’s a miniature Devil’s Trap-shaped burn on Ruby’s palm, after she’d made the mistake of laying her hand on his bare chest.
“Sam,” Ruby says, and she fits more words into that one that it makes Sam wonder if she’s discovered other dimensions to shove meaning and context into. The multiverse theory- Sam hasn’t thought about that in years, but maybe it’s true.
Dean wakes up in layers. Something’s dripping and running into his eye. He raises his head with effort, squints at Meg.
“Hey bad boy,” she coos. “Didn’t you just get the special treatment today.”
Dean barks what could have been a laugh, once.
“Upside-down crucifixion,” Meg continues, coming over and running her palm down his side. She licks his blood off of her fingers, and it’s more of a turn-on than it should be. Who would’ve guessed: Hell, the new Viagra. She stops at his nipple line, looks him in the eyes. “How quaint.”
“God, Sam. That was amazing.” Ruby pushes her fingertips into his pecs, looks up at him without blinking. “Three demons at once… I’m impressed.”
Sam’s still shaky from the encounter; his veins are calling out for another hit like blood vessels have been transmogrified into vocal cords.
“Just—just—let me chill for a second, okay?” he shoves Ruby away from him, more roughly than he had intended, and she stands there with her arms crossed in front of her chest. Ruby doesn’t do pouting, but she does do a mean impatient waiting.
Sam reaches into his pocket, breathes deeply. His lungs are being turned into something else, too. His very molecules are melding. He’s becoming a sulfur-based life-form. He takes out the crumpled receipt, smoothing it out on his palm for the hundredth time.
Dean’s scrawl on the back, almost illegible even when it’d been fresh: SAM- GETTING COFFEE. BACK IN A FEW. –D.
It’s the last thing his brother gave him, besides the blisters on his palms and the dirt underneath his fingernails. The splinters. Sam treasures it.
“Gawd,” Ruby repeats, drawing out the word. “Sam, you know that doing that isn’t helping anything.”
The amulet’s burning against his chest, so hot that Sam almost thinks that it’s not his imagination. That it’s crying out, conducting the heat of whatever’s happening to his brother far below his feet. He’d given Dean six feet. Well, four, but Sam’s rounding up. Look at him, helping his brother to damnation even after death.
It’s his thirty-second year, and Dean’s older than he’s ever been before. There are notches on his forearms that he cuts every day, to remind himself of how long it’s been. Across-the-street notches, because here, bleeding out’s too much fun.
Scars are curious things, Dean’s decided. His are all gone, and any wounds he has or makes disappear by the time he wakes up. This is why it’s better to be the one cutting. He remembers something about up-there, where there are people who cut you up only to sew you back together. It doesn’t make sense any more. Why would you sew it back up, if it would only come back together crooked? Heal a jagged line? The cuts themselves were the beautiful things, and the secret lay in the fact that there was no wrong way to do it. It was right it was right it was right.
“You’re getting close,” Ruby tells him, her eyes dark and shiny with lustlovehateenvy. To what, Sam wants to ask, but he’s pretty sure he already knows all possible answers.
[Damnation: yes. Death: probably. A record: why not. Crossing the line: too late.]
Sam looks at the body on the floor, doesn’t bother going through the wallet like he would’ve, in a different lifetime.
In a different life, he was a boy who would’ve crouched down next to this empty shell and been its sole attendant mourner. He would’ve buried it, and maybe said some appropriately empty words, to match.
Sam lets the door slam behind them and lock. Ruby’s boots crunch on the gravel. She tosses her car keys from hand to hand.
Where to next, says Sam.
“You did it,” Meg had told him, her eyes shining in the dark on that firstlast day. Dean’s body was still thrumming with the energy of it all, trying to remind his hand that the knife wasn’t an appendage he’d grown up with. Did what, Dean wants to ask, but it’s not something he wants answered.
How much longer, he asks her instead, and she crouches down and holds his gaze steadily. Her lips taste like—forever; not long enough; the perpetual tick of a metronome that can’t be shut off. Blood.
Dean’s not sure whether he was asking her how much longer until the end of the day, his sentence—or until he could start cutting again.