-1Summary: Arguably AU. He should've known that she would show up as soon as she found out. Yet somehow, seeing her standing in the doorway of his hotel room still brought his heart to a standstill. Ruby finds Sam during his search for the trickster. Oneshot.

Disclaimer: Ha. You're funny.

A/N: So here's how it works. You give me a super angsty pairing, an episode of my favorite show where one of my favorite characters is killed, and a period of months that passes in a few short minutes on said episode, and I'm off to write fic that ties together all of the above. Major thanks to Kelsie for encouraging me and Hider for letting me gush about Ruby ad nauseum, even though she doesn't watch the show. Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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He hadn't slept. Up until this point, he hadn't really noticed when the days faded into night or when the sun rose in the mornings, but now it was impossible not to see how bloodshot his eyes were. With a sigh, he splashed some cold water on his face and wiped the drops out of his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt.

Sam took a deep breath and looked at his reflection again, noticing for the first time how blank his gaze had become. He didn't know why today of all days was the one where he was realizing how absent he had been from his own conscience, but it was mildly disturbing to discover how becoming Dean's replacement had turned him into a shell of a human being.

That probably didn't have anything to do with trying to be like his brother, though. He was certain it just had everything to do with trying to get his brother back.

Clearing his throat, Sam left the small bathroom of the cheap motel room he was staying in and ran his hand through his hair, scuffing his feet slightly as he shut the light off. Later, he would blame his lack of sleep for the fact that he didn't notice the cool breeze in the room, despite the fact that he kept the air conditioning off. At the time, he was so focused on the wall in front of him -- the articles, pictures, notes that were covering every inch of it -- to notice anything but the aching hole in his chest.

"You look like shit," she proclaimed. He jumped and grabbed his gun off the table, whipping around to face the disturbance with the barrel stabilized in his other hand before he realized who it was. Ruby cocked her head to the side and leaned against the doorframe, smirking in that irritatingly attractive way that she was so good at.

He should've known that she would show up as soon as she found out. Yet somehow, seeing her standing in the doorway of his hotel room still brought his heart to a standstill. "What are you doing here?" he asked anyway, setting the gun back on the table as he caught his breath.

"Keeping you on your toes, apparently," she replied, taking a step into the room. "Mind if I come in?"

"Since when do you ask permission?" he replied, more scathingly than he intended. She winced slightly, though the expression was clearly sardonic, and closed the door behind her, choosing to stand next to the empty bed nearest the entrance to the room. Sam tried not to linger too long on the thought.

"You do realize that you're killing yourself, right?"

"I'm not letting him die because of a stupid trickster," he retorted, slamming his hand down on the table. Ruby stared at him for a moment and then took a step forward, folding her arms carefully across her chest.

"He's already dead, Sam. This crusade you're on can't possibly end well," she said seriously. The words felt rehearsed, and they created a buzzing in his ears, but he took them at face value because anything else would have held him back from arguing with her.

"You know, for someone who's been so adamant in helping me get Dean out of his deal, you certainly aren't being too helpful now that he's gone," he snapped. She continued to stare at him, completely calm, and yelling at her didn't seem as satisfactory as it had three seconds ago. "What are you doing here?"

Ruby sat down on the edge of his bed and rested her hands behind her. "Maybe I was worried about you," she offered. He snorted. "Oh, get over yourself. Dean wasn't the only person who cared about you, Sam."

"Says the demon," he replied sarcastically. Ruby's eyes blackened at the words and he turned toward her completely, resting back against the table so that they were almost level with each other.

"Says the girl who has to keep saving your suddenly impulsive ass," she argued. Her eyes softened, but their color remained that of ebony, and Sam inhaled sharply at the contrast they created in her expression.

He sighed heavily and closed his eyes, surprised at the sudden onslaught of exhaustion her presence brought him. "Ruby…"

"Make my job a little easier," she said softly. Opening his eyes slowly, he was unsurprised to find her standing less than a foot from him, but he couldn't manage to swallow around the lump in his throat at her proximity.

"I can't just give up," he replied, just as quietly. Ruby took another step forward and rested her hand on his shoulder, letting her eyes return to a normal, human color. It startled him to realize that they were a lucid shade of hazel; for some reason, he had never taken the time to notice before.

She traced her fingers across the seam of his shirt and sighed heavily, watching the movement intently. They were both silent for a long time, and then he rested his hand lightly on her hip and she jerked away from him. Sam left his hand where it was, gripping air, as she turned toward the opposite wall and wrapped her arms around herself.

It was the first time he had ever seen her so visibly shaken. In a way, it was almost surreal to see someone so strong reduced to a stiff, quivering statue in his hotel room. For a moment, he was reminded of Dean after he woke up from his nightmare. He shook it off and added the sight to his list of discoveries for the day.

"Look, one way or another, you were going to end up in this position," she said coldly, turning to face him again. "Just because you were left all alone a little sooner than you'd planned--"

"What happened to getting him out of the deal?" Sam shouted, pushing away from the desk and getting as close to her as he dared. "I thought you had a plan!"

"It doesn't matter anymore!" She was nearly screaming; her chest was heaving with the force of her breathing, and he clenched his jaw for a moment before pulling her against him and slamming his mouth down on hers.

There were no fireworks, no great epiphanies, no hints of solace. Her lips were firm and demanding against his, and it took less than a second for her to respond. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he registered when her hands tangled in his shirt and one of the buttons popped off; he felt the jolt when her knees hit the edge of the bed and he caught her around the waist to keep her from falling and breaking their contact.

He didn't feel like he was drowning, like he did with Madison, and he didn't feel safe, like he did with Jessica. He did feel like he was on fire, and when she opened his mouth by sliding her lips just so against his, he was certain Dean would be proud.

The thought of his dead brother brought him catapulting back to his body and he pulled away from her roughly, panting heavily as she stroked her fingers through his hair. "We can't," he gasped, dropping his forehead to hers and closing his eyes. They swayed slightly on the spot, a combination of his exhaustion and the sudden increase in the room's temperature, and it was a long moment before she gave any hint of having heard him.

Ruby carefully extricated herself from his grasp, keeping her eyes on his the entire time. A sad, slow look of realization crossed her face, and Sam almost felt guilty for being the one to put it there. For the first time since Wednesday, he actually felt something other than a determination for vengeance.

It was nice. And complicated. And, to an extent, incredibly painful.

With a nod, she turned and headed for the door, a quickness in her step that he hadn't seen outside of a fight. "Wait," he muttered, his mouth moving without his mind's consent. He wanted to say something, anything that would reassure her that he could do this without Dean.

She paused next to the door. "If you get yourself killed, don't say I didn't try."

A moment later, she was gone, the door closed securely behind her. Sam ran his hand through his hair roughly, pulling at the locks with a little too much force, and glanced over at the tangled covers of his bed. His pillow looked far more inviting than it had in months.