Disclaimer: The opening text was taken verbatim from the show. This is the property of Kripke & Co. I don't own it and I am not making money from it. The rest is just the product of my very sleepy muse.

Author's Note: This is a missing scene from Long Distance Caller. I don't know how or why this mini-fic happened, it just sprang up in my head and demanded to be written. Weird. This is totally not what I sat down to write. Let me know what you think.

ooooo

In all things it is better to hope than to despair.

- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

ooooo

"Hey, um…look, I'm sorry it wasn't Dad."

Dean snorts humourlessly. "Y'know I gave you a helluva time on this one."

"Nah"

"No you were right."

"Forget about it."

"I can't." Dean sighs, feeling the weight of the deal like lead around his neck. "I wanted to believe so badly that there was a way out of this. I mean I'm staring down the barrel at this thing, you know, hell. For real, forever. And, I'm just…"

"Yeah"

"I'm scared Sam. I'm really scared."

"I know" And he does know, more than anyone else could, Sam knows.

"I guess I was willing to believe anything, you know, last act of a desperate man." The self-depreciating line falls flat; truth holds the humour at bay.

"There's nothing wrong with having hope Dean"

"Aw hope doesn't get you jack squat. I can't expect Dad to show up with some miracle at the last minute, I can't expect anybody to you know. And the only one who person can get me out of this thing is me."

"And me." Sam asserts, needing his brother to feel supported.

"And me?"

"What?"

"Deep revelation, having a deep moment here, and that's what you come back with? 'And me'?" Dean's incredulous.

"Do you want a poem?" Sam tries for funny, but settles for the familiar bite of sarcasm.

"Moment's gone." Cracking two beers, Dean casts a stunned look at his brother. "Unbelievable."

ooooo

In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man's torments.

- Friedrich Nietzsche

ooooo

Hours later Sam is passed out, drunk from his half of the six-pack. Dean's been trying to will himself to sleep counting the stains on the ceiling tiles. He's counted to one hundred and forty seven and sleep still eludes him. With a reluctant sigh he quietly slips out of the room, closing the door behind him with a muted click.

The pre-dawn air is chilly, damp with the still settling dew. Dean has always liked this time of day best, the time when everything seems to stand still, the world hovering between night and day. No wonder this has been called the Witching Hour for centuries, if you listen you can almost hear the earth holding it's breath, waiting for the light.

A soft crunch behind him has Dean turning, his gun in hand. Ruby. Of course. Just when he thought there might be a moment's peace for him, she had to show up and turn everything upside-down. Bitch.

"The thing about hell, and even the though of hell, is that it can burn the hope right out of your soul. The last thing you've really got is your hope Dean; don't give it up it's all you've got. As soon as you walk away from hope there's nothing anyone can do, you're done. Because you need hope, or what's the point of living?"

"Well I necessarily want to listen to anything you have to say Ruby."

"Doesn't matter if you want to listen, you're still hearing me Dean. And regardless of what you may or may not want to hear, it's still true."

"Truth? From you?" Dean's voice was sharp, hard.

"Can the sarcasm." This isn't what she was here for, not for this, not for him. Dean's just a means to an end. Right.

"I never use canned, I prefer fresh."

Dean's deadpan delivery makes her laugh in spite of herself. Damn if she isn't going to miss the cocky sonuvabitch.

"Look wiseass, I know you're scared, I can smell it on you; but you can't give up. You can't just rollover and wait for the hounds to come, it's not your style. There's not a lot of time left, and maybe nothing can save you, but wouldn't you rather go down swinging? Wouldn't you rather fight your way into the pit?"

Dean leaned against the Impala, the metal cold against his legs. Would he rather fight? You're damn right he would, but what good could it do? It's not going to change anything, and it's not really going to make him feel any better about all this in the end.

"What's the point?"

Ruby fisted her hands in her hair. Sometimes these Winchesters made her want to kill something, anything, just to watch it bleed.

"You are so fucking stupid sometimes, you know that?"

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me. You've come to the end and now all you want to do is wallow in self-pity, well fuck you Dean Winchester."

"Wallow? Don't you think I've earned a little self-pity? Don't you think I've earned the right to think of myself first for a change? I'm tired Ruby. I'm tired of fighting, of killing, of bleeding my life away for an ungrateful world. I'm just so fucking tired. I mean, we're here for such a short time and then one day we're just gone. Why do we bother? Why do we struggle?"

She was cracking. It wasn't enough that she had feelings for Sam, now she was getting the warm and fuzzies for a dead man? Great. Just fucking great.

"Because we're human, and it's not in our nature to just rollover and die, not really. Because it's better to die with hope than to live without it."

Dean looked up at the sky, just starting to lighten with the first kiss of dawn. Soon enough the stars would wink out and the sun would wash everything in warmth.

"You said we."

"What?"

"We. You said 'we're human'."

"Did I?"

"You did." Dean turned, needing to see her face, needing to know if this moment was as real as it seemed. She was gone.

"You did." He repeated to the dark.

It's a funny thing peace; sometimes you find it in the most unlikely place. Right next to hope.

ooooo

Where there's life there's hope

Cicero

ooooo