A/N So this is a little different for me – it's been written with a very specific objective in mind, which was a request from Jade02 for a missing scene from Jus In Belo which would involve Sam offering to give himself up and Dean AND Ruby talking him out of it. I must confess I'm not the biggest Ruby fan in the world but I figured I'd give it my best shot, especially since I've never really had an actual request before! So here it is – I hope it turned out the way you wanted, Jade02. And I hope the rest of you enjoy it…
For reference, this is set after Ruby has arrived in the station but before she's suggested sacrificing Nancy. I put a little break in the middle basically, where she's told them what's out there but hasn't yet got to the spell part.
The title comes from a Nickleback song, the lyrics of which I might add fit the Winchesters perfectly in my opinion.
"Can I talk to you for a second?"
Dean looked up at the sound of Sam's voice, seeing his brother standing in the doorway. He seemed nervous, which although was to be expected given their current situation seemed a lot more pronounced than it should have been. Hendrickson looked from Sam to Dean and back again, picking up the final weapons he'd just finished loading.
"I'll go take these out front." he said, not completely oblivious to the tension surrounding the younger Winchester. Sam gave him a grateful nod as he left.
Dean carried on with what he was doing, frowning slightly when Sam came all the way into the room and shut the door behind him.
"Ok, what's up?" he said, dispensing with the wisecracks. Whatever it was clearly had Sam tied up in knots.
As if to prove the point, Sam paced for a couple of seconds before leaning back against the wall opposite Dean, folding his arms and forcing himself to meet Dean's gaze.
He knew this was not gonna go well.
"I've been thinking, about our situation."
Dean remained non-committal, trying not to make a big deal out of this even though he had a bad feeling about whatever was coming next.
"Well, the thing is, I think I have a plan."
This got him a direct look. One which he struggled not to turn away from.
"I'm not gonna like this, am I."
It was a statement, not a question, but Sam attempted a half smile and shrugged one shoulder.
"You don't normally like my plans."
The tone was a warning, a hint that while Dean was doing his best he was starting to lose patience. Sam swallowed.
"I'm going to give myself up."
"Run that by me again?"
The tone had gone from warning to deadly, but Sam gritted his teeth and forced himself to stand straighter.
"You heard me."
Sam jumped at the harsh sound of the shotgun being thrown on the table. Dean walked round in one fluid movement, stopping right in front of him. If he hadn't had the wall behind him, Sam would have taken a step back.
"You got five seconds to explain what has got to be the dumbest thing you've ever said. Which by the way is impressive, given that's a pretty long list."
Sam ignored the jibe, knowing Dean was simply getting into his stride. This was how his brother worked – when he was angry or scared, he got confrontational and Sam knew his last statement had probably trigged both those emotions.
"It makes sense, Dean. These demons are here for me – I'm the one they want. If I give myself up, they'll let everyone else go. We don't have a choice."
"The hell we don't! Just what is it you think they want you for, Sam? Huh? You think they wanna swop knitting patterns and have a group hug? You give yourself up you're as good as dead, or worse! This is not a plan, it's a suicide mission, and the answer is no. Got it?"
Sam forced himself to remain calm.
"No. This is not your decision, it's mine. And I won't let all these innocent people die because of me. I won't let you die because of me."
"Oh yeah? Well newsflash, Sam, the boat has sailed on that one."
Dean regretted the words the moment they left his mouth, Sam's face literally draining of all colour. He might as well have punched him in the stomach.
Dean took a step back, rubbing his hand over his face. He turned back to Sam, his eyes full of guilt and sorrow.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean that."
Sam shook his head.
"Why not? It's the truth." he said, bitterly.
Dean stepped forward again, putting one hand on the back of Sam's neck.
"No, it's not! This deal was my choice, Sam – mine. What's gonna happen is not your fault, do you understand me?"
Sam looked down at the floor, his whole body language answering Dean's question for him.
Dean cursed under his breath.
"Listen to me, I know you think all of this is your fault, that you're to blame here, but you're not. This isn't just about you, those demons out there have got their own agenda. Do you really think that handing yourself over will make it right? That they'll just walk away, let us go? Come on, Sam – you're a Winchester. No way are you that naïve!"
Sam still wouldn't look at him and Dean gave his neck a gentle squeeze.
"Sam, please. This isn't going to work, ok, not even a little bit. You walk out there they'll have exactly what they want, and they'll still kill every last one of us. You won't be saving anyone, you'll just be killing yourself."
This time Sam did look up to meet Dean's gaze, his eyes troubled but determined.
"You don't know that. And if there's even a chance then it's worth taking."
"No, it's not."
"Yes it is!"
"No! I will not stand by and watch you get yourself killed over a 'maybe'!"
"What about a definite? What if you knew for sure, would you let me do it then?" Sam demanded.
Dean's silence spoke volumes.
"That's what I thought. What happened to protecting innocent lives, Dean? What happened to doing the right thing? Now it's all about saving me, whatever the cost?"
"No! That's not what it's about, Sam, but you're an innocent here too – and don't even think about contradicting me."
Sam shook his head.
"I'm not innocent, Dean, not like they are. They didn't ask for this. Those people out there just showed up for work today, they had no idea Hendrickson was gonna bring us here or the entire demon army behind us. Even Hendrickson had no idea what he was dealing with, not really. This is our life, we're trained for this. They're not."
"I don't care."
"Yes, you do." said Sam, softly.
Dean let go of Sam's neck and walked away, resting his hands on the table with his back to his brother. Part of him understood Sam's reasoning but there was no way he could accept the decision that came from that. Sam deserved to be protected as much as anyone in that building and nothing would ever persuade him otherwise.
"Dean, you know this makes sense." pleaded Sam. He flinched slightly when Dean turned round again, his eyes blazing.
"This doesn't make one damn bit of sense, Sam! I don't know why we've ended up here, I don't know why those sons of bitches suddenly want to come at us all out and I sure as hell don't know why things got so screwed up! But they did, and they are, and we have to deal with that. And we do it by doing what we've always done – our job. We fight them, we fight all of them. We do not go handing ourselves over on a silver platter."
Sam looked at him, sadly.
"You don't see it, Dean. You're not thinking objectively. All you can see is that you need to protect me and I understand that, I really do. And I appreciate it. But that doesn't make it right. This is the only plan that has a hope of working. If you'd think about logically you'd see that. Dad would have."
"Leave Dad out of this."
Sam didn't back down from the venom in Dean's voice this time. He knew he had to make his brother see sense.
It was the only way.
Dean struggled to slow his breathing, to calm down. He knew if he stayed this mad then Sam would use it as proof he wasn't thinking straight.
"Alright, if this is the only plan you can think of, let me ask you something. Why don't I try handing myself over, huh? I mean I've pissed em off plenty, they'll be more than happy to get a shot at my ass. I walk out there, distract them, you and the others get away. That's a plan, right?"
Sam shook his head.
"No, it's not – they may want to kill you but it's me they want alive. They wouldn't be distracted long enough for the rest of us to get away. But if I go with them then they'll give up."
Dean gave a humourless smile.
"That sound any more convincing in your head than it did over here?"
"I don't know what you mean."
"Yes you do. That's all very logical and scientific, but you look me in the eye and tell me the real reason you won't let me go out there instead. If you think about it, I'm as good as dead anyway. Might as well go out fighting, right?"
This time it was Sam's turn to take a step forward.
"Don't say that! Just, just stop saying that, ok? There's still a long way to go before your time is up!"
"And what good is that if you've gone all kamikaze on me? I'm supposed to live out my last few months hunting alone? Knowing that you're out there somewhere, getting god knows what done to you, but not able to do a damn thing about it? But no, you're right – it'll definitely make those final days worth something knowing that I didn't make the sacrifice in vain. Except, oh yeah – I will have done. Because you'll be good as dead and I'll be the last one standing!"
Dean was out of breath when he finished, his chest heaving. Sam's eyes were bright and he felt like his heart was physically breaking.
Before he could answer though the door opened. He turned to see Ruby standing there.
"This a private party or can anyone join in?"
Dean practically growled.
"This really isn't a good time. Just leave us alone, would ya?"
Ruby smiled sardonically.
"Sorry, no can do. Besides in case you hadn't noticed, you two are yelling loud enough to be heard three states away. It's not exactly a private conversation."
Dean and Sam shared a look and Dean moved to stand next to his brother, his posture defensive.
"I don't care if the whole thing can be heard in Canada, this is between me and him. So butt out."
"Now that's not very polite, Dean. Also not true either – this affects all of us."
"Yeah, right. By us you mean humans of course. Since you got a ticket out of here, what with being one of them."
Ruby gave a theatrical wince.
"Ouch. Now that was uncalled for. In case you've forgotten, I came here to save your asses."
Sam looked incredulous.
"Sure, that's the only reason you showed up."
Dean gave him a look that was slightly proud. He was pleased to see Sam standing up to Ruby at last. He hated the way Sam followed her lead all the time, not least because he had an idea exactly what was behind it.
Ruby herself looked a little surprised but recovered almost instantly.
"Well now you're just picking up his bad habits." she said, jerking a thumb in Dean's direction. "You know exactly why I'm here."
Dean raised his eyebrows.
"Actually, no. Go on, enlighten us, please."
Ruby gave him a harsh look.
"I'm here to make sure Sam here survives. Because if he doesn't then we may as well all give up, right now. And someone has to watch his back, since you were dumb enough to go putting yourself out of the game in the not too distant future."
Sam moved so fast the demon didn't even time to react. Suddenly she found herself up against the wall, held up by the front of her jacket by 170lbs of seriously pissed off Winchester.
"Don't you dare talk about what he did like that, do you hear me? You don't get to talk about my brother that way – understand?"
"Hey. Hey, Sam – let her go. Come on, dude, she's not worth it."
Dean pulled on Sam's arm gently, trying to keep his tone of voice soothing. He was a little shocked by Sam's violent reaction to Ruby's words but he wasn't about to let Sam know that. He figured that they were just all on edge right now and the deal was, after all, a pretty touchy subject with his brother at the best of times.
Sam slowly felt some of the anger slip away. He dropped Ruby back on the floor, stepping back and giving Dean a slightly apologetic look. His brother grinned at him though, clearly just a little bit entertained by Sam's actions. Ruby straightened her clothes and tried to regain her composure, glaring at both of them as they leant back against the table.
"You might wanna consider a little anger management there, Sam. And by the way, we all know you wouldn't be quite so pissed if it wasn't for the fact every word I said was true."
Dean grabbed hold of Sam's sleeve in advance this time, giving Ruby a glare of his own.
"Alright knock it off, both of you. You know if you want us to believe you're doing this out of the goodness of your heart, I'm afraid you're gonna have a long wait, sister. Besides, it doesn't matter anyway. Sam's not giving himself up. End of story."
"No, that's not 'end of story'. You haven't given me one good reason for not going ahead with this, Dean," interrupted Sam "And you needing to protect me is not one of them. I'm sorry, deal or no deal, what I said stands. We have to protect the innocents here."
"Shut up, both of you."
They both turned to Ruby again, looking surprised. She folded her arms and fixed both of them with an intense look.
"If you want my opinion, and I really don't care if you don't, you're both idiots. You're always so ready to sign up for martyrdom for the 'greater good', but you don't actually think about what you're doing. I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but Dean is right. You giving yourself up, Sam, will not make those demons leave. Nor will it make them let everyone go. And Dean, if you give yourself over then you'll just be giving them a fat juicy bonus. They can make Sam watch you die and then they'll still storm in here and get exactly what they want. Truth is, neither of you can afford to give yourselves up. So get over it and start doing some real thinking, would you?"
With that she opened the door and walked out, slamming it behind her. Dean shook his head.
"Wow, guess even demons still get time of the month. Remind me not to stand next to her without a weapon, would you?"
Sam chuckled despite himself, then let out a long sigh.
"This still doesn't leave us any closer to having a plan, Dean."
"Maybe. But – and I really, really hate to say this – she's right. If either one of us goes out there then it's not gonna do anything except play right into their hands."
Sam was silent. He'd been so certain before but now he wondered if he'd been kidding himself. He was desperate to save these people, to not have any more deaths on his hands. Perhaps he hadn't been thinking anymore clearly than Dean had, in reality.
"So what do we do then? Wait it out and hope they get bored?"
Dean nudged him with his shoulder.
"No. I'm thinking."
"Well could you think faster? We haven't got long before they get tired of waiting and decide to just storm the place."
Dean rolled his eyes.
"Great. No pressure then. Thanks for that."
"Hey, you're the one who shot my plan down in flames."
"Because it wasn't a plan, it was a suicide mission! Look, we need to agree on something here, ok?"
Sam looked wary.
"Agree on what?"
"You're so keen for me to stop throwing myself into the path of the bullet without thinking. How about you agree to stop doing it too? Sacrificing yourself is not going to make this all better. And you are not to blame for everything these demons do either. So why don't we both agree to step back and try thinking things through in future. And no more sacrificing. Ok?"
"What was it you said? 'The boat has sailed on that one'?"
Sam felt no satisfaction when Dean winced at that, hating himself for lashing out in the same way his brother had done. It was the down side of being so close to someone at times. You always knew the exact best way to hurt them the most.
"I'm sorry." he said, quietly, and Dean shrugged.
"Forget it. I owed you a shot anyway. Look, I can't change what's already been done with the deal. But I made my own promises on that score. Now it's your turn."
Sam looked at the floor and then back up, seeing the plea behind the words in Dean's eyes. Sometimes just one look there could tell you more than an entire conversation, he reflected.
"Alright. No kamikaze missions. But we still have to come up with something or these people are gonna die."
"And we will. The important word in there being 'we'. Now come on – let's go check her demon-ness hasn't organised something of her own while we've been stuck in here."
Dean opened the door, sensing Sam following him. As they walked back into the main room everyone turned to look at them. Ruby was still glowering, but then that was her natural expression so he ignored it. He was about to say something when she beat him to it.
"Good, you're done at last. You might want to pay attention here. I have a plan."