AN: I know, I know. I am officially a Very Bad Person for starting a five part fic when I've already got a bunch of WIP's. But what can I say? 5.22; Swan Song just demands fic. So, this is basically what the summary says. Five ways Swan Song could have ended with D/R. All of the mini-stories are unrelated and are not connected to each other. The first one takes place in the 'everything and in between' universe so it involves Ben. It's basically an alternate ending to that series as well as an alternate ending to 5.22.

Title: a million little stars spelling out your name
Summary: Five ways Dean and Ruby could have ended up together following 5.22. Major AU.
Pairing: Dean/Ruby.
Genre: Romance/General.
Rating: T for language and themes.
Timeline: Ranging from the past to directly after 5.22 to the future.
Spoilers: Major spoilers for 5.22.
Warnings: Character death and heavy AU.
Notes: Main title from the song Untouchable by Luna Halo. I know I just did a story that had a title from that song, but this one just fit so well. Oh, and there is some IMPORTANT INFORMATION that you should know. Some of the mini-stories will take place in my other series. The 'everything and in between' universe, the 'Silver Ring' Series and the Lila Bray Winchester 'verse will all be featured in this collection.

Disclaimer: I do not own Supernatural or any of the characters that you recognize.

a million little stars spelling out your name

Written by Becks Rylynn


god bless the child

('everything and in between' universe)

In the end, death came and got them all.

Not literally, of course. But it sure as hell feels like it. Ben wasn't even there and he still feels like he's been beat up and put through the wringer. And then run over by a truck. Which then dragged him through a bunch of rusty nails. He had wanted to be there. He had begged and pleaded and threatened and thrown a tantrum of epic proportions but nothing shook his father. Sam faltered, Ruby faltered, Bobby faltered, even stoic Missouri and Cas freaking faltered a little bit.

But Dad was like a tower. A tower built of bone and flesh and the strongest determination there was. ''You are not coming with us, Benjamin. Not this time.''

And one by one they all said their goodbyes like they knew they would never see him again and left him kicking and screaming in Missouri's capable hands.

When they come back, apparently it's over. Apparently it isn't The End. But Ben's not exactly sure if this is better.

He wakes in the middle of the night to the feel of soft fingertips across his skin and the sound of quiet sniffles. When he opens his eyes, Ruby's there smiling softly as she sits next to him, smoothing his hair out of his eyes. There are tears rolling down her cheeks that glisten in the moonlight, her smile wobbles on her lips and never has Ben seen her look so broken. So lost. Because she's Ruby and she doesn't break. And...And if something has broken her then it really can't be good. ''Hey, kiddo,'' she says and even her voice cracks.

But relief thrums through his veins like a powerful drug and she's alive so it can't be that bad, right? ''Ruby!'' Bolting upright in bed, he wraps his arms around her and pretends he doesn't feel the burn behind his eyes. ''You're okay.''

''I'm okay,'' she whispers. ''However....I'm still a little sore.''

He pulls away with a breathless ''sorry'' and there are all of these questions bubbling in his throat and he's not really sure if he wants to know the answer to them. ''Ruby,'' he whispers. And he can't quite manage to choke out the rest.

He loves Ruby, he really does. She's the closest thing to a mom he has left and she is totally meant for his dad (they just don't know it yet) and relief doesn't even begin to describe the feeling in his chest at the knowledge she is all right. But...what about everyone else? What about Dad? What about Sam?

There's this feeling in the pit of his stomach, something crawling and horrid and he knows someone isn't coming home. The tears shining on her cheeks only confirm that. He just doesn't know who.

Then the door creaks open and Dad comes in, all broken and tired and Ben is out of the bed and launching himself at his father within a millisecond. Dad holds on tighter than usual and when Ben sees the look in green eyes, he knows what happened and he knows who's been lost and then he cries like a little baby, but he can't bring himself to care because....

Sam's gone.

Eventually they both slip out of the room when he lets them think he's cried himself to sleep. He's not asleep, he's not sure he'll ever be able to sleep again, he just wants to be left alone right now and he's all too aware that neither of them would have left him at all if they knew he was still awake.

And he wishes Mom were here because she'd know what to do. What to say. How to fix Dad. How to make things seem a little better and a little brighter. Because she could always do that just by smiling. A little voice in his head that shakes with grief whispers, so could Sam.

The shadows under the door and Dad's urgent ''Ruby!'' is what gets Ben up and moving towards the door. Now, normally eavesdropping is not something he does a lot. Mostly because Dad always somehow manages to catch him. (It's quite aggravating actually.) But when he opens the door and looks out at them he can't not watch this go down.

''Sam wanted us to be happy,'' Dad's whispering, voice hoarse and quiet and not at all like Dad's.

Ruby glares at him through glassy eyes and shaking lips. ''How are we supposed to be happy, Dean?''

Ben swallows, Dad winces, Ruby turns to walk away (probably because she looks like she's about to burst into tears again and everyone knows she hates when people see her cry).

''Marry me.''

Ruby stops in her tracks and Ben's eyes widen to the size of saucers. Okay...that was not how he was expecting it to go down. Down the hall, she turns and stares through wide, shining eyes, disbelief coating her blue irises. ''D-Dean....''

''We could go somewhere nice,'' Dad offers. ''Somewhere beautiful. Somewhere as beautiful as you are. Just you, me and Ben,'' he says, taking a step towards her. ''Jobs and houses pie,'' his voice cracks when he says apple pie. ''We could go to Ben's soccer games and cheer him on like normal parents. We could....We could have a little girl just like you. And we'll have barbeques and watch the stars at night and we'll read the kids fairytales at night and we won't tell them what's in the dark because they don't need to know and I'll mow the lawn and smile and we'll sit down to dinner like a family and we'll be normal and Ben won't be like me and I'll....I'll have you because all those women, they're not you. We could do it all. We could do it right. Don't you want that, Ruby? Don't we deserve it?'' And he's crying by the time he's finished.

Ben has been told numerous times that life is not a movie, but right now it sure feels like one.

She looks at him for a long time and Ben holds his breath. ''Isn't that life a trap?'' She whispers. ''Isn't that what you think? Isn't suburban life a trap to you, Dean? The life you're talking about....isn't it just locking us in a cage and throwing away the key?''

''It's not a trap,'' he says slowly. ''It's not a cage, Holly Golightly. It's just life. And it's the life Sam wants....wanted....for us. It's the life Sam made me promise to give to you. To all of us.''

''Dean,'' she says his name like it means something extraordinary, breathless and soft. ''What am I supposed to say? I...I mean, here you are and you're saying all of these wonderful things that I've waited for and you're asking me to marry you and I love you, Dean, but how will I ever know if this is what you really want? How do I know I'm not just another one of your girls? How do I know that this is everything you want and not just everything you promised Sam? How do I live that life wondering if you're just doing it for Sam?''

''Because you're the right one.'' He says it with finality and determination and it's the truth. Everyone knows it. Everyone's been waiting for Dean to wise up. It's just....really tragic that it took the almost end of the world and Sam's dying wish (Ben chokes back a sob) to make them realize they belong together. ''You're it.'' And when he moves towards her, she doesn't move away like she usually does. She stands perfectly still and they're both crying when he moves a hand to her cheek only it's not 'cause they're happy. ''You're it, Ruby. You're it for me.''

And it's everything Ben has wished for, everything he's waited for, wanted for his father and for Ruby. But it's unbearably hard to be happy when Death has just curled its twig like fingers around his family.

''Say okay,'' Dad's begging, looking at her with broken eyes. ''Say okay, Ruby.''

It takes a moment, either because she's trying to talk through her sobs, or because she's trying to decide what to do, and then she speaks. ''Okay,'' she rasps out, nodding. ''Okay.''

And then he kisses her with tears glimmering on both their cheeks and they're both holding on tighter than ever.

Ben shuts the door and can't help but think it's not fair that they got just an ending instead of a happy ending.

Sometimes, Ben wonders if their love story is even really a love story at all.

Do they love each other? Hell yeah.

Would they go to the ends of the earth for each other? Yes.

Would they die for each other? In a heartbeat.

Are they going to be together until they die? Chances are they're in this for the long haul, yes.

But that doesn't make it a love story. It just makes it a story with love in it. The thing is, true love stories are supposed to have pain and grief and suffering because it's not really love if everything's perfect. It's not really love without hardships and mind numbing devastation. It's what makes the love story all the more powerful. stories generally have happy endings. At least the good ones do. And love stories are all about the love. All about the two people in love. They're always the main characters and all the other people, the supporting characters, just fade into the background like faded photographs held underwater.

So, no. This is not a love story.

Their story is a story of family and loyalty and pain and love is just there as a saving grace. Love was never in the original plan. (No, really. Chuck said it himself. ''Dean and Ruby's epic love story just kinda happened, shorty,'' he told Ben with a lopsided grin. ''That happens sometimes. People find each other on their own and they have to find the words to write their own story. And if they're meant to be they'll eventually realize their mutual Kyrumption. ....Yeah, I watch Angel. So what? Just trust me on this, Ben Winchester. As an author, I can tell you one thing. Love strikes when you least expect it. It's like lightning. Except with more touching and usually no one dies. Usually.'')

Love was a surprising but important addition to the story.

But the story always has and always will begin and end with family.

Because when you're a Winchester, family is the only thing that matters.

One Year Later:

Ben Winchester has a dirty little secret that he will never in a million years tell his father....

....He doesn't really like soccer. In fact, he kind of hates it. With, like....a fiery passion. He doesn't understand the point, the uniforms are dorky, his teammates are all cruel preteens and he loathes them all and he doesn't care about winning. But he's very good at it and when he sees Dad cheering on the sidelines he knows it is totally worth it.

Dad puts on a baseball cap, sits in the bleachers like all the other dads, old leather jackets and bloodstained clothing replaced by t-shirts and jeans without holes and he smiles like he means it. Which he does. And that's why it's totally worth it. ''I will not let you ruin my Soccer Dad moment,'' is always Dad's lazy remark when Ruby laughs at him.

Ruby pulls her hair into a ponytail, places oversized sunglasses over her eyes and sits next to Dad, flipping through magazines absently. And she tries to look uninterested and she always tells Ben that she doesn't really give a crap about soccer, but somehow she always knows the right time to cheer and that's pretty telling, don't you think?

They're not exactly the Cleavers. But they're normal.


....There's always that weight hanging over them, that memory that won't go away, that little voice that tells them in no uncertain terms that something is missing, you fools.

It's a warm Saturday afternoon and Ben's team has just won a game (and yes, Ben is happy. But that has more to do with Dad and Ruby's incredibly entertaining reaction to his winning goal than anything else) and there is mud splashed on his uniform and specks of dirt on his face but he's actually, really and truly happy right now (again, their reaction to the win? Priceless) and he's determined to keep that feeling for as long as he can.

Things in life are calm. There's apple pie and normalcy and while Dad and Ruby are not legally married (''Do me a favor, Dean,'' she had said, clasping her hands. ''Never marry me. I don't want to be like the others'') they're pretty much in it forever and there's a house and a lawn and he's not supposed to know this but apparently he's going to be a big brother (Dad and Ruby can do many things. Keeping her pregnancy a secret is not one of them) and the world is still here.

''Dude!'' Dad's saying as he claps a hand onto Ben's shoulder, his grin wide and genuine. ''I think that game deserves pizza.''

Ruby lowers her sunglasses to peer at him. ''You having another Soccer Dad moment there, buddy?''

''Stuff it, Ruby.''

''That's no way to talk to your woman.''

Dad smirks at her. ''I like it when you refer to yourself as my woman.''

''Okay!'' Ben steps in between them, arching an eyebrow. ''I'm going to have to step in before you two decide to do it on the soccer field. That would be embarrassing.''

''Yeah, and I think we've already embarrassed him enough for one day.'' Ruby laughs, reaching out to pat Dad's cheek affectionately. ''Well, you did anyway. You and your little victory dance.''

''Know what? When we get home I'm going to mow the lawn and make you put on that white sundress and serve me lemonade just for that comment.''

She blinks. ''Why can't you just have naughty school girl fantasies like every other guy on the planet?''

''That's dull. Besides, we've already - ''

''Whoa!'' Ben holds up his hands, grimacing at the mental image. ''Can you two please have this conversation in private? Before people start thinking we're a bunch of freaks.''

''Oh, honey,'' Ruby drawls. ''We are freaks.''

''We'll finish this conversation later,'' Dad promises Ruby.

''So,'' Ben grins like a Winchester and looks up at Dad. ''You said something about pizza?''

Yes, life is calm.

But when Dad and Ruby make their way to the car, Ben feels the unmistakable feeling of eyes on him and he turns around and there he is, leaning against a tree in the distance, watching from the sidelines. The missing piece. Ben's eyes widen and he races forwards, but by the time he reaches the space his uncle was standing, he's gone and life isn't so calm anymore.

And the story always has and always will begin and end with family.


AN: And there you have it. Story one is complete. It didn't really go along with what happened in the 'eaib' universe so I suppose that would make it more of a spin off of the series. Anyone get that Breakfast at Tiffany's reference in there? Okay, the next one could either be a 'Silver Ring' Series version of 5.22 or a Lila Bray Winchester 'verse spin off.