He finds her leaning against one of the barn supports, still struggling to stay on her feet, knees wobbling and face in a grimace. Reaching out a hand, he grabs onto her elbow, the other winding around her back.
Her body shakes as if it's freezing in here, breath coming out in shaky spurts.
She looks at him, teeth clenched behind a forced grin.
"I forgot how good he was," she says, hands still on her stomach, the sticky red wetness smeared all over her fingers.
"You need to sit down," he replies.
"I need to get the hell out of here," she counters, eyes locked with his, still shivering under his touch.
He nods his agreement, moving to pull her away from the support beam, her knees almost buckling, his grip firm and holding her partially aloft.
"Always had a thing for the damsel in distress didn't you?"
"Come on, let's get you cleaned up."
Dean stops at the first seedy motel they all agree is far enough away from the barn. Sam can't help the compulsion to keep turning to check on Ruby, laid out in the back seat, hands still holding tight to her stomach.
It was his idea that did this to her, his fault.
Sure she still made it back alive, or, whatever it is you can call her existence.
Her eyes match his every time he looks, a stern painful glare assuring him: I know what I signed up for.
But the guilt is still there, crawling along his conscious like a spider.
Sam gets a separate room for him and Ruby, an action that gets a concerned glare from his brother. While Dean has slowly been coming around to the idea that she can be trusted, and has been more accepting of her presence among the two of them, he's still not okay with the idea of a demon shacking up with his brother while he's around.
"She's hurt," Sam says in defense. "She needs rest and we both know she's not going to get that with the both of you in the same room."
Dean has no rebuttal for that argument, and only grunts whatever in response, taking his key and walking away without another word.
She's trying to get out of the car by herself when he walks back outside, and probably would have fallen flat on her face had he not rushed to catch her.
"I'm fine," she growls out.
"No, you're not."
She doesn't fight him when he helps her out of the car, or when he half carries her to their room.
Laying her down on one of the beds, he rushes back out to the trunk for the first-aid kit.
She's just lying there staring at the ceiling when he makes his way back inside, setting the kit next to her on the bed he gently lifts her shoulders to remove her jacket, before taking a pair of scissors, and starts cutting away her shirt.
"Damn," she says with a half-hearted chuckle, "I liked that one."
He doesn't laugh in return, body stiffening at the sight of her bare skin, more so the jagged devilish letters carved into it.
Tracing his fingers gently over the S, the L, the U, and the T, he looks up to her, face steeling into a scowl, his right hand clenching into a fist when the fingers are done tracing the T.
Picasso with a razor, he thinks glumly, this is more like the school bully with something to prove.
"I'm sorry," he says looking away.
"Don't be," she replies. "I knew who I was dealing with. I knew what might happen."
She looks down at the letters, red and raw, and shrugs.
"Sticks and stones," she goes on. "They'll never break me."
He manages a small smile at that.
Reaching down into the kit, he takes a couple of alcohol swabs and starts to wipe away the blood. She hisses against the sting as he goes over the letters again, her body once again starting to shake.
"We should get you to a hospital," he says.
"No," she shoots down quickly, causing him to look up at her again, "I'll be fine."
"You're still shivering. I think you're in shock."
"It's not that."
"You haven't touched me since Dean came back," she says.
"Yeah, oh. You ashamed of me Sam? You sorry for what we've done?"
Part of him still is, part of him always will be.
"No," he says focusing back on her wounds.
She laughs tonelessly.
"You can't lie to me," she says. Then softer: "Just like I can't lie to you."
Once he's done wrapping up her wounds, he moves toward the other bed when she reaches out a hand to stop him.
He looks at her for a second, the odd softness of her pleading, the fact that with each passing day, she's continually becoming less of a demon in his eyes. Sinking down next to her, careful to avoid aggravating the injury, she slides close to him, molding herself into the curve of his side.
He can feel her breath on his skin, long and hitched, telling him she's in more pain than she cared to let on. Briefly he wonders just how it is that she's breathing in first place, if it's really her that needs to, or just a reflex of the body.
"I think you better start preparing yourself," she says into his side. "That neither one of us is going to make it out of this mess in one piece."
Thing is, he's already been thinking something along those lines himself. The way the apocalypse has always sort of been there, looming in the distance since his first run in with yellow-eyes, now on the forefront of everything. The one in which he's to play a pivotal role even though he's denied it, always declaring which side he was on, even if his blood screamed the opposite.
It's the way Uriel talks to him, the way Castiel threatened to stop him if he didn't stop using his abilities, that already told him even if he keeps on fighting the good fight, there's no place for him amongst the clouds and halos.
"Heaven and hell," Ruby goes on as if she's read his mind. "There's no place for us in either."
Scary thing is he's always suspected as much since he witnessed Azazel's blood dripping into his mouth. That no matter what he believes, how hard he prays, his soul was always hell bound.
"I didn't want this," she says. "I just wanted Lilith dead. I didn't want a war."
No, Sam thinks, neither did he, neither did anyone. But that's just the way it is. They probably can't win, just as he knows they can't walk away.
"We'll make it through," he tries to assure anyway.
She laughs brokenly.
"You don't believe that anymore than I do," she says.
Lips suddenly on his neck, sending chills down his spine, right into his toes.
"I've missed this," she admits.
No matter how much time they've spent together, she never fails to surprise him, this newfound ability to act so disturbingly human. When she was the blonde it seemed like she simply didn't care for such things.
Part of him has always had a suspicion that it had something to do with what happened when Lilith sent her spiraling back down. Before this moment he never cared to know, or ask.
"That night," he starts. "When you first appeared again, you said I had no idea what it took for you to come back."
She stills against him.
"What did you have to do?"
"All this time," she says, craning her neck to look up at him. "You never once asked me that."
"Maybe I didn't want to know."
"And now you do?"
Because, he doesn't say, I think maybe you have my brother have something in common. He won't talk about what happened to him down there, and now neither will you. Doesn't take a genius to figure out there might be a connection.
Looking at him for a moment, long enough to get him to shift nervously under her gaze, she moves to kiss him.
He lets her.
Lets the sensation of lips on his, quiet the unease of the royal mess that surrounds them.
Once she backs away, he opens his eyes to hers.
"I came back for you," she says, taking hold of his hand and pressing it against her stomach, hissing at the pain. He tries to pull away but she holds it there. "I'd do anything for you Sam, I think I've proved that, does it really matter exactly what that means?"
She kisses him again, painfully, purposely trying to wipe the thoughts from his mind.
For now, it really doesn't.
All he hears is the soft, rhythmic breathing, of Ruby softly snoozing against him. Her hair fanned out across his chest, hand possessively holding onto his hip.
Funny, he never thought demons needed to sleep either.
The ceiling stares back at him, stray beams of light from sunrise creeping through the windows, all he has are thoughts. He can hear Ruby telling him he's getting flabby, hear Uriel's threats if he continues to use his abilities, and his brother's denial of anything that happened to him in hell.
Stuck in the middle of all it, unsure what to do about any of it.
The good boy with demon blood and the demon girl with good intentions, Shakespeare could have had a field day.
A knock on the door.
Ruby doesn't stir, so he gently tries to slide out from under her, she mumbling something against his skin before falling silent again. He gets off the bed as quietly as he can.
He opens the door to find Dean standing there; six pack in hand, looking like he hadn't slept all night.
"A little early don't you think?" He asks, nodding his head to the beer.
"We need to talk," Dean replies evenly.
Sam's head turns back to Ruby still passed out; the decline to leave perched on the tip of his tongue.
"It's important," Dean says, eyes looking over Sam's should to Ruby's sleeping form. "She'll be here when we get back."
Sam turns back to his brother.
"Yeah," he says. "Sure."
Sam's eyes stay on the motel door as he gets into the passenger seat.
"She came through I'll give you that," Dean says, following his brother's eyes again. "Alistair can be… Persuasive."
Sam's head snaps to Dean, this being the first thing he's heard about hell from him, as the engine rumbles taking them down the road.