Title: Second Best

Title: Second Best

Author: Xanthos (bellajayd)

Pairing: Dean/Castiel, Sam/Dean (if you squint – which I do)

Category: Angst/Drama

Rating: PG

Words: 761

Spoilers: YES! Coda 4.01

Summary: Ruby answers a question Sam never asked.

Disclaimer: Supernatural does not belong to me. Just playing in someone else's sandbox.

Warning: Spoilers for Season 4. Implied Slash and Wincest. Worksafe!

Notes: This is my first fanfic in a loooong time, but the idea of Dean/Castiel sent the plot bunnies into a frenzy. Comments very welcome! Flamers will be made fools of.

Many thanks to Darklyng for the being the best beta of all time and putting better words in my mouth! Baci-Ooglies!!(tm)


"Sam, have you ever asked yourself, why me?"

It's four in the morning and he's sitting in a cheap diner with Ruby, a stale cup of coffee on the dirty table and a temper that frays all too quickly nowadays between them. His eyes narrow, "You said you'd found out something about Castiel?"

Ruby sits across from him, lips knowingly slanted, looking as fresh as a rose.

Beware the serpent that hides beneath its petals.

Cracked vinyl creaks beneath him as he shifts, thinking about the brother he left sleeping in the hotel room. Alone. Again. Sam had returned to their motel a few nights ago to find their room covered in broken glass with no trace of Dean but a cold, sheet-rumpled bed and a few dots of blood. All of his power-boosted confidence had fled at the sight. He had abandoned Dean on his first night back from Hell, with some unknown entity after him, to go and take out a few low level demons just to prove to himself that he could. The thought still makes his stomach twist.

Later, Dean had returned close-lipped but filled to the brim with purpose and certainty. Dean's hand would often drift to his shoulder, covering the handprint branded into his skin, his eyes wide with awe.

"So, have you?" Ruby's lilting voice brings him back to the here and now.

He shakes his head to clear the confusion. "Have I what?"

She looks at him in indulgently. "Have you ever asked yourself, why me?"

Sam has spent endless nights awake asking himself that question. Why me? Why this power? What makes me so special?? Who decided that I had to carry this burden? He shakes these worries off like raindrops. "Who hasn't?"

"Well, I have an answer for you." Her smile is full of white teeth.

"What?" His knuckles are clenched so tightly around the mug of cold coffee that they resemble overripe fruit, ready to burst from their skin.

"You see, God chose first." Ruby isn't smiling now, and she sounds like a gambler who just realized that they'd put all their money on the wrong horse.

"I thought there was no God." His voice is terse, just reciting his lines so she would get to the point. All he cares about is getting back to Dean.

"That makes two of us. Actually, that makes all of us. But, then your brother had to go and take a vaycay Down Under."

The air in his lungs disappears faster than his faith had. "I don't get it." Sam really, really hopes he doesn't.

"Let me put it like this: God and the Devil are playing a cosmic game of baseball. God got to pick his team first." The diner is silent as Ruby shifts her gaze to look him straight in the eye. "God picked the best and the brightest, Sam. The cool kids, the ones who never miss a hit, the winners. So when His team captain got himself sent to Hell, He sent an Angel down to pull him back into the game."

His hands are limp now, resting like dead things on the tabletop. No, no, no. Dean was never supposed to be a part of this.

"You see, God chose Dean as his champion. God chose first and Hell was stuck with the leftovers, the geeks who get shoved into lockers and don't go to prom," she pauses for a moment and her blank expression twists into something bitter, "with you."

Sam doesn't remember leaving the diner or driving to the motel. He comes back to himself sitting in the dark room, staring at the sleeping form of his brother.

Dean is sleeping like a lamb that has finally been reunited with his Sheppard after wandering alone without his Master's sure protection. He whispers into the darkness, "Castiel . . . Castiel," like the faithful utter the name of their Savior.