Well, here it is. The super secret story I've been working on for what feels like forever. Why do you think it's taking me so long to finish Goodnight, Moon? It's because this mofo keeps distracting me. (By the way, the final chapter of Goodnight, Moon will be up before Monday.) Consider it my Christmas gift to you. It's not actually a Christmas story, but the whole theme of this story is FAMILY and to me nothing says the holidays more than family.
Okay, so some info on this story: First of all, the POV will switch between Ben and Ruby throughout the story (I'm thinking it's more going to be Ben with Ruby interludes). Second of all, it starts out in past tense and then goes into present tense. Third of all, this story is like a mix of Stepmom, the Cohen's taking in Ryan Atwood on The OC, some kind of twisted ass murder mystery, Gilmore Girls/Life Unexpected, a lifetime movie and that episode of Angel where he turns human. And it's all on acid.
Now, since there is an unfortunate character limit on summaries, the FULL SUMMARY for this story is below.
And there is, of course, one last thing I must mention:
Happy Birthday, Katie Cassidy! The lovely Ms. Cassidy turns 24 today. And I'm not ashamed to admit that this story was supposed to be an epic length oneshot, but I got too excited about posting it so I decided to post it on her birthday and turn it into a multi-chapter instead. Plus, at this point I'm thinking turning it into a multi-chapter is a better plan than my original. I don't know how long this story is going to be, but probably not very long. It's not really short, it's just not an epic length multi-chapter like Queen of Hearts or anything.
Title: Breakable Hummingbirds
Summary: When Lisa Braeden first got sick, her main priority was what would happen to Ben. She planned to send him to live with his father, but an unforeseen turn of events leaves Ben an orphan with nowhere to go. Until his sharp tongued, tough as nails stepmother took him into her home, effectively changing both of their lives in profound, irreversible ways.
Characters: The main characters are Ben Braeden and Ruby with Sam and Cas as supporting characters and Dean and Lisa as mostly unseen, but often mentioned presences that start the whole chain of events. Also, a certain Original Character of mine will be making an appearance, but I can't say who it is or I will ruin it.
Pairing: Well, the main focus of this story is the friendship/mother/son type relationship that develops between Ruby and Ben (MOTHER/SON TYPE RELATIONSHIP, NOT ROMANCE) but there is strong Dean/Ruby, some vague, mostly onesided Castiel/Ruby. Other than that there is Sam/Ruby friendship, Dean/Lisa/Ruby friendship, Castiel/Ruby friendship and there might be some Ben/OC later on. Currently, I'm also trying to decide if I should put a little Sam/Jo into the story.
Rating: T for some themes.
Timeline: Good God, I don't know. I'm having trouble with the actual timeline in the series considering we lost a year. Let me just put it this way: When the story opens, Ben is eleven and then it skips to when he's thirteen. Do with that what you will.
Spoilers: Well, if you know about Ruby, Lisa, Ben and Cas then I think you're good to go. I'd say there are blanket spoilers for probably the entire series.
Warnings: Character death, strong language, possibly some uncomfortable images, medical jargon, character suicide, human!Ruby, pregnancy and AU. By the way, these warnings make the story sound darker than it actually is.
Dedication: To all of my readers, subscribers and reviewers. Happy Holidays!
Notes: Title comes from the poem Miss Drake Proceeds to Supper by Sylvia Plath. Something about the line The new woman in the ward wears purple, steps carefully among her combinations of eggshells and breakable hummingbirds gets me every single time and I have wanted to use Breakable Hummingbirds as a title ever since I first read that poem and now I finally have a story where it fits. So I'm excited.
Disclaimer: I do not own anything.
Written by Becks Rylynn
''The Weight of Water''
Mom started getting sick when he was eleven.
At first it was nothing major. Just flu like symptoms that he thought would go away. Mom was the strongest person he knew and it was just the flu so he was sure she would be fine with a few days of rest. But then he noticed that the flu she had seemed to be lasting longer than any flu he had ever seen.
She did almost too well at hiding the numerous doctors' appointments from him, but the seriousness of the situation was not lost on him. Mom did her best to brush it off, touching his cheek lightly and winking whenever she noticed the wary look on his face. He should have known things were really bad when she started trying to get in touch with his father. But he was so excited at the possibility of finally having a Dad that he pushed the gnawing fear to the back of his mind.
When he was almost twelve, Mom sat him down with a smile that shook on her lips and said those three words that changed his life forever:
''I have cancer.''
She started chemotherapy right away and put on a brave face for her son, even though all the chemo seemed to be doing was making her sicker. Ben did his best to pretend like he was fine because he had to be strong for Mom but inside he was terrified. His mother was slowly slipping away from him right in front of his eyes. He reserved the right to be scared out of his mind.
Mom could pretend with the best of them but even her acting abilities couldn't hide how sick she was getting. And Ben was mature for his age, everyone told him that, but Mom needed help that he couldn't give her.
She didn't have many friends and Ben could not take care of her. Mom was an only child and so was her mother, who died when Ben was a baby and the only family she had was a great aunt who was like a hundred and her father. Mom never talked about her Dad, but the scars on her back told Ben he was a bad dude. And she was so devoted to Ben that friends had never really been a big part of her life. The one friend she had, Dawn, did what she could, but she had a family of her own to care for. Mom's lawyer, Dalton something, had become somewhat of a fixture during her illness too but he wasn't even close to being a friend or family.
Mom made a valiant attempt to take care of herself, but the treatments were getting more and more aggressive and when her hair started falling out, she couldn't pretend anymore. The doctors suggested bringing a nurse in. Something that Mom quickly vetoed. Ben was sitting next to her when she told the doctor, ''No, it's all right. I think I know someone who can help.''
It was the precise reason why he was not all that shocked when he came home one day and found Dean Winchester aka his father sitting at the kitchen table with Mom sitting across from him. For some reason, what shook Ben the most was when he caught sight of the gold wedding band on Dean's left ring finger. Huh. Did not expect that.
Despite the unbearable heaviness in the room, Dean still made a half hearted attempt to smile and offered him a greeting of, ''Hey, Ben. Dude, you've gotten tall.''
Ben looked back and forth between the two adults and then forced a smile. It was something he was becoming disturbingly good at.
Later, after what was probably the most awkwardest (what? awkwardest was totally a word) dinner in the history of...ever, he abandoned his English homework in favor of eavesdropping. He sat at the top of the stairs, peered down at Mom and Dean - Dad? Could he call him Dad already? Was that what he was supposed to do? - and listened intently to their conversation. Dad - Nope, too weird. Too soon - Dean had his head in his hands while Mom calmly made herself a cup of the herbal tea that was supposed to help strengthen her immune system or something.
''Christ, Lisa,'' Dean muttered, looking up. ''You told me he wasn't.''
Mom shrugged and poured a cup of coffee for Dean. ''I lied.''
''Why?'' Dean demanded sharply. ''Why would you do that? You know I had a right to know. This is my son we're talking about. I should have known. So please, enlighten me, Lisa. Why didn't I know? What's your reasoning?''
Despite the malice in Dean's tone (which Ben did not appreciate one bit 'cause hello, you don't bark at a woman with kidney cancer, that's just not cool) Mom remained perfectly at ease as she sat down across from him and sipped at her tea. ''You would have stayed,'' she said plainly. ''If I had told you Ben was your son, you would have stayed with us and that...It wasn't right for you, Dean. Not then. You had things you needed to do with your life that you couldn't have done with us holding you back.''
''Holding me back? You think you would have been holding me back? From what exactly? What part of my life is worth - ''
He shut up instantly at the tone of her voice and Ben arched an eyebrow. Well, at least Dean seemed to have good survival instincts. ''Lisa, just - ''
''How long have you been married, Dean?'' Mom cut in, nodding towards his left hand splayed out on the table top.
When he moved his hand, his wedding ring caught the light. At Mom's mention, Dean twirled the ring and there was a long pause in which Ben really wished Dean's back wasn't to him and then there was a sigh and Dean's shoulders deflated. ''Not that long.''
''And do you love her?''
''Of course I love her. She's my wife.''
''And,'' Mom leaned forwards and put her hand on his arm gently. Ben inched closer. ''If you had stayed with us, would you have married this woman you love?''
Eventually, Dean sighed and sank back against his chair. ''No. Probably not.''
There was a long pause between them as Mom drank her tea and Dean rubbed his eyes. Ben knew what was coming next just by the way Mom was looking at Dean and by the way his chest was tightening. He could see it in Mom's eyes. What she was about to say. He wanted to run away, lock himself in his room so he didn't have to hear this, but for some reason, he couldn't move. ''He's going to need you,'' Mom said at last. ''When I'm gone.''
Dean and Ben both tensed and the breath Ben couldn't reach bubbled up in his throat in the form of a cry he wouldn't let out. ''Lisa, why are you doing this?'' Dean choked out, voice tight and strangled. ''Why are you just giving up?''
Mom scoffed and shook her head. ''You think I'm giving up? I'm not giving up, Dean. I'm being realistic. Don't get me wrong, I'm going to fight like hell to stay with my son for as long as I can, but...come on, let's face it. I'm not responding to the treatment and the doctor's say it's spreading.'' She stopped and looked away. When her eyes shone, Ben realized quickly it was the first moment of vulnerability she had shown in a long time. ''I know I'm going to die,'' she said softly.
''Lisa - ''
''And I need to know my son will be okay. Dean, I need to know you'll take care of him.''
The moment of silence that lasted too long terrified Ben. Dean was going to run scared now, wasn't he? He was going to say it was too much and he couldn't deal with having a son. But then there was ''You know I will'' and ''I am not going anywhere this time'' and Ben wasn't sure how he was supposed to feel.
When Mom started to cry, Ben started to wish he had skipped the eavesdropping. He sat back and swallowed the lump in his throat. He could hear Mom's quiet whimpers and Dean's chair scraping back against the floor, followed by low murmurs of comfort Ben couldn't quite decipher. His whole body had gone numb and he could hear the blood rushing to his head. This was it. His mom was going to die. She was going to die and he couldn't stop it.
He couldn't think of a thing in the world that would ever hurt more than that.
As the months flew by, Mom got sicker and lost her hair, the Winchesters & Company all but moved in and Ben got to know the father he had always wanted to have.
Ben liked the Winchesters and their extended family. He did. He liked Dean because he was cool and pretty much everything Ben wanted to be when he grew up and he was slowly becoming Dad instead of Dean. He liked Sam because he was nice and geeky and badass all at the same time and what more could a boy ask for in an uncle? He liked Bobby and Cas and the Harvelle women, who only stopped by about three times, but were nice people who treated the Winchesters - and by extension the Braedens - like family.
The only person Ben wasn't completely sure about was Dean's wife, Ruby. It wasn't that he violently disliked her or anything. It was just that she was an extremely closed off person who didn't give much about herself away and she...didn't really seem like she enjoyed her newfound stepmother-ness. The only people she had regular conversations with were Dean and Sam (and actually, she had pretty regular conversations with Mom too. She was weirdly good at talking people through pain. Ben didn't really want to know how she got to be so good at it).
She was hard eyed and rough, sharp tongued and fiery, but Ben knew she had a heart in there somewhere. She was the only one who treated Mom like she wasn't dying and even though she so obviously tried to hide it, it was clear she loved Dean and Sam to death. And vice versa. It was profoundly clear that they both adored every breath she breathed. Hell, even Bobby and Cas liked her a whole heck of a lot. Dean worshipped the ground she walked on, Sam seemed to look up to her (not literally) and Ben would never say anything, especially not to Dean, but something about the way Cas looked at her screamed love triangle.
She was appropriately polite, she didn't treat him like a little kid and she was majorly badass. (Also, he was past the cootie stage of his life and he was his father's son so he was well aware she was hot.) He thought he could have liked her a lot. He just didn't know her well enough.
But the main problem between Ben and Ruby was that he wasn't really sure if she liked him.
Primarily it was Dean...Dad. It was Dad now. Primarily it was Dad and Ruby who took care of Mom and made sure he was fed and getting to school (although it was more Dad who took care of him rather than Ruby) with Sam or Bobby taking over whenever they needed a break. They didn't always stay the night because usually Mom's friend, Dawn, insisted she had that covered and she made it no secret that she was not a fan of the ''ruffians.'' Then again, she also made it clear she ''just didn't have the room'' for Ben in her life so ''it's best that you go with your father, dear.''
Usually, the response to Dawn was an eye roll and a ''Son of a bitch, that woman is annoying''from Dad.
He liked the Winchester family and everything and he knew he was going to be spending a lot of time with them in the future because Mom was not getting better and the chemo had all but stopped by then, but most of Ben's free time was spent with his mother. Mom was always tired and pale but she still had a beautiful smile and she still looked at him like he was the only light she could see. She was still his mom, no matter how she looked.
Sure, there were scary moments and the hospital trips were growing longer and more devastating to be a part of, but Ben was a strong kid. He had to be. For Mom. He had many opportunities to break. He never thought he'd wind up splintering apart on a Thursday in the middle of the night because the bright white lights of the hospital made his eyes water.
He awoke in the middle of the night to commotion from his mother's room next door and Ruby yelling, ''Dean! Sam! We need you!''
Worried and curious, Ben snuck over to the door, cracked it open just in time to see both Dad and Sam barrel past his room and into Mom's room. When he heard the sound of quiet whimpers, his worry peaked. He opened the door, glanced around the hallway and then played spy, tip toeing towards his mother's room and carefully peering inside.
For a second, he thought some terrible act of violence had taken place because Mom and Ruby both had blood on them. It didn't take him long to realize, however, that Mom was throwing up blood. He figured that out when she did it again, this time managing to get it on both herself and Dad.
''Okay,'' Sam said, trying just a little too hard to make it seem like this wasn't totally terrifying. ''Hospital now.''
''Lisa!'' Dad grabbed Mom's face when her head lolled to the side. ''Hey, hey, hey. Stay with me, hon.''
''Don't call an ambulance,'' Ruby ordered, pointing a bloodstained finger in Sam's direction. ''She doesn't want to scare Ben.''
...Good luck with that.
''There's no time for a fucking ambulance anyway,'' Dad muttered before he scooped Mom up into his arms without a degree of difficulty (it was petrifying how frail and thin she was getting). ''I'm takin' her to the hospital.'' When he rushed towards the door, Ben dove back into his own room and tried to pretend he was okay.
''Wait!'' Sam's voice called out. ''What about Ben?'' At the mention of his name, Ben peeked out into the hallway.
''You stay here with him,'' Ruby demanded, glancing over her shoulder as Dad disappeared down the stairs. ''And give me your keys. By the time I get downstairs, they'll be gone. Thank you very much for delaying me by the way.''
Ben hesitated for about a second before he decided to freaking screw it. He didn't care that he was outing himself for spying or that he was supposed to be in bed or that Mom didn't want to scare him. He just wanted his mother. He stumbled out of his room, eyes wide and horrified as the sound of Dad's car roaring to life seemed to shake the entire house like some sort of death omen. (No, no, no! Not death!) ''I want to go with you.''
Sam and Ruby shared a glance. Ben was just trying to avoid looking at the blood staining Ruby's shirt. ''Ben,'' Sam said quietly. ''I don't think - ''
''Please!'' Ben pleaded desperately. ''That's my mom!''
''Okay, kid,'' Ruby cut in sharply before Sam could say another word. ''We don't have time for this. Get your coat and hurry the fuck up.''
''What?'' She sent Sam a glare at the warning tone in his voice. ''Did you not see what just happened here, Sam? Because Ben obviously did. I don't think my language is going to scar him for life.''
''Ruby,'' Sam snapped as soon as Ben had scurried into his room. ''This isn't a good idea. He's just a kid.''
Ben rolled his eyes and slipped his jacket on.
''Sam, that is his mother,'' Ruby fired back. ''The woman is puking up her organs, all right? She doesn't have much time left. He needs to be with her while he still can. Don't say you wouldn't do the exact same thing.''
Before Sam could say anything, Ben was pushing past them and racing down the hall to get to his mom with Ruby's words ringing unpleasantly in his ears.
She doesn't have much time left...
The doctors said it had something to do with an infection in her lungs and some other stuff that Ben didn't really understand. What he did understand was when Dad and Ruby got into an argument that could have rivaled a Ross and Rachel blowout (what? His mom liked Friends and since she couldn't do much else, he spent a lot of time watching TV in her room with her). It started when Ruby snapped, ''Dean, if she hasn't kicked the bucket yet, what makes them think this is going to do her in? Now stop fucking pacing, you're making me want to throw up a little bit.''
Although her wording could have been a little better, Ben didn't even flinch because he had heard much worse from the mouths of unsympathetic doctors. Except for that last part. And the profanity. Doctor people usually avoided cursing out their patients. Usually.
Dad on the other hand, did not take it well. ''For God's sake, Ruby!'' His voice was loud and angry and Ben got the impression it startled even Ruby because she looked up from the magazine she was flipping through. ''Can you, for once, act like a human being?''
Ruby recovered astoundingly quickly. ''That might be a little hard,'' she started smoothly. ''Considering I'm - ''
They paused briefly when Sam nodded towards Ben and Ben rolled his eyes and sunk further into his seat. Right, because he was the totally innocent twelve year old who didn't know anything about what Ruby was. Except that was a lie. He knew exactly what Ruby was. She made a point of telling him that after he got suspicious. Actually, the entire conversation went something like this:
Ben: ''Are you a vampire?''
Ruby: ''No. Demon.''
Ben: ''Oh. I was close. So...are you, like, gonna kill me?''
Ruby: ''If I wanted you dead, Ben, you'd be dead.''
(He had learned very quickly that Ruby didn't do comfort.)
But then she had told him not to tell Dad and Sam that she had told him that. Looked like that was being blown out the window.
''Oh, please,'' Ruby scoffed. ''He knows perfectly well what I am. I told him.''
Dad's eyes widened and Sam threw a hand over his face in exasperation. ''You told him?'' Dad roared. ''He is twelve years old!''
''Yes. Exactly. Twelve. Not two. And he had a right to know.''
''You can be such an idiot sometimes, Ruby.''
And then Ruby decided violence was the answer. In less than a second, she had twisted Dad's arm behind his back and shoved him into the wall hard, effectively startling Ben and making Sam sigh. Again. ''Don't verbally abuse your spouse just because you're scared,'' Ruby said lowly. ''That's a jackass move.''
''Don't physically abuse your spouse just because you're scared,'' Dad shot back, voice muffled by the wall. ''Will you let me go now? You made me bite my lip.''
''Good. I hope it hurts.''
Since Sam did not appear to be doing anything, leaning forwards to drop his head into his hands instead, Ben leapt to his feet and pushed himself in between his father and stepmother, shoving them both as hard as he could. This time he was the one who startled everyone. ''Stop it!'' He shouted, keeping his hands out and looking back and forth between them like they were insane. Which he was actually pretty sure they were, but that was a story for another time. ''Stop acting like this! God! You're supposed to be the parents! You're acting like you're...my age!'' He shot Dad a look, lips turned downwards into a frown. ''Look, Mom's your friend and you love her and you're scared. That's okay. But that doesn't mean you have to act like a dick. And you,'' he whirled around to face Ruby. ''You need to rewire your demonic brain, mmkay? 'Cause you can't pretend you don't care about people forever. I know you care about Mom and I've seen you look at Dad with googly eyes. Don't even try to deny it.'' He shook his head and hesitantly stepped away from them. ''I cannot believe I'm stuck with you two for the rest of my life.''
It didn't take them long to make up. Minutes later, Dad sat down next to Ruby, handed her a cup of crappy hospital vending machine coffee and when she took it, Ben saw her hand brush against Dad's wedding ring. ...And that was about it. Yeah, those two were weird.
When Mom regained consciousness, the first thing she did was ask for Ruby, something no one decided to question because the two women had gotten surprisingly close and Ben was right on the money when he said Ruby cared about Mom. But just because Ruby and Dad had made up did not stop Ruby from tossing a smug, triumphant smirk in Dad's direction before she disappeared into the hospital room.
To be honest, Ben was kind of relieved when she left, purely because she was covered in Mom's blood and the sight of it was making Ben sick. While Dad and Sam talked quietly, frequently glancing in his direction, Ben sat stone faced in an uncomfortable plastic chair and stared at the wall. He could remember the day Mom told him she had cancer. Quite vividly, actually. The first thing that he thought was 'I can't lose my mom.'
As it turned out, it looked like he didn't have much of a choice in the matter. His mom was going to die. His mother was going to die. As in, leave him forever. He couldn't stop it. He couldn't pray for it to get better because it wasn't going to get better. She wasn't going to be okay. None of it was going to go away. How was he supposed to deal with that? How was he supposed to live with that? What was he going to do without her? All of these terrible thoughts ran through his head and wouldn't stop and when he felt his eyes begin to burn, he tipped his head back to stare at the ceiling only to look right into what had to have been the brightest light in the entire world, forcing the tears out of his eyes. The tears slid down his cheeks and he adamantly wiped them away, sniffling quietly.
When he turned his gaze to his father and Sam briefly, Dad was looking right at him and Sam was nowhere to be seen. Ben looked away as quick as he could, but it wasn't fast enough. Just as he looked away, he saw Dad start to move towards him. He closed his eyes tight and tried to ignore Dad's sigh. ''Ben.'' Dad knelt down in front of him and put a hand on his knee. When Ben started to tremble with the effort it took to keep it all inside, he shook his head. ''Ben.''
There was a pause and then Ben felt a rough, calloused hand on his cheek. ''Ben.''
And Ben couldn't hold it all in and breathe at the same time so he let it all out. A choked sob escaped his lips, he opened his eyes and started to breathe. ''She's not going to get better,'' he cried.
Dad frowned and looked like he wanted to say something to make it okay only he wasn't sure what to say.
''She's not going to get better, Dad. She's going to die. She's going to waste away right in front of me and I can't do anything about it. I can't save her. I just want to save her. That's all I want. All this time, I tried to believe she'd get better because God wouldn't take away my mom, but...but He is. He's taking her away from me.'' He stopped to catch his breath, salty tears dripping down his cheeks. ''And I don't understand...why. Why can't she stay? Why can't she stay with me, Dad?'' By the time he was finished, he was sobbing and he didn't even care.
He didn't even stop to think before he was lurching forwards and catapulting himself off the chair and into his father's arms.
For his part, Dad didn't seem all that surprised and despite the fact that he hadn't even been a father for a full year, his fatherly reactions were impeccable. He cradled the boy against his chest, let him cry, rubbed his back and Ben could sense Dad wanted so badly to say everything would be okay, but everything wouldn't be okay. Nothing was going to be okay.
They both knew that.
The conversation Ben was both expecting and dreading came a few days later while Ben was lying in the hospital bed with Mom, pretending to watch Judge Judy when all he was really doing was counting the breaths Mom was taking. Dad and Ruby had been curled up in a chair next to the bed for a bit while Dad played with Ruby's hair and Ruby played with her phone.
(When asked what she was doing, Ruby had grinned and slyly responded, ''I'm texting Cas. He gets all confused because he doesn't know how to work his phone and he doesn't know the difference between a text and a phone call and when no one answers, he whines. It's fun.''
Dad rolled his eyes and instead of the more cheesy option of holding hands with her, his fingers grazed her wrist before letting his hand fall to her leg. ''Sure, it's fun for you. You're not the one he whines to.''
And the Mom had laughed a tired little laugh that sounded like music and said, ''Sometimes the things that amuse you make me sad.''
''Hey,'' Ruby shrugged. ''Don't knock it 'till you've tried it.'')
But with one careful look from Mom, both Dad and Ruby excused themselves from the room. Dad let his hand linger on Ben's shoulder for a moment before disappearing out the door and something about the gesture just made Ben panic. He swallowed and tried to concentrate on Judge Judy's verbal smack down.
''Ben,'' Mom prodded gently, plucking the remote from his hand and clicking the TV off.
''Hey,'' Ben tried to protest. ''Judge Judy was about to verbally bitch slap that chick!''
''Ben, honey, I think we need to talk.''
He cringed and toyed nervously with the stiff, starchy hospital blanket. ''I don't think I want to have this conversation.''
''Well, tough,'' Mom said in that tone of voice that told Ben there was absolutely no room for discussion. ''There are things I need to say to you.''
''Mom - ''
''Ben.'' She took his trembling hands in her own and he had to bite down hard on his lip to keep the tears at bay. ''I...I need you to know that you...you have been everything to me.''
''Mom - ''
''Just listen to me, honey. You mean more to me than anything else in the world. Do you understand me?''
He nodded because he couldn't find his voice.
''I love you,'' she whispered and when tears sprung to her eyes, Ben bit down harder on his bottom lip because Mom never cried. ''I love you more than I've ever loved anyone or anything. You know,'' a small laugh escaped her lips and her glassy eyes moved to the ceiling like she was trying to see the sky. ''I remember when I was about six or seven months pregnant, I went in for an ultrasound and when I saw you on the screen, it looked like you were waving to me.'' She laughed again and Ben allowed a tiny smile to grace his lips, if only because it was nice to hear his mom laugh. ''You were my whole world from the moment I found out I was pregnant, Ben. And that...that will never change. It doesn't matter if I'm on this earth or not, I will always love you. I hope you know that.''
He squeezed his eyes shut and nodded, swiping at his eyes. He felt her soft fingertips brush his stubborn tears away just like they had whenever he had a bad dream when he was little. When she pressed her lips against his forehead, a lump grew in his throat that he couldn't swallow down.
''Now,'' she pulled away and when he opened his eyes, she forced a smile. ''About your father...'' She paused and her lips curved downwards as if she were searching for just the right words to say. But when she spoke, there was no hesitance in her voice and her smile was much more real. ''He loves you,'' she said it with a certain degree of pride that Ben had never heard in her voice before. ''He loves you so much. And he is so proud of you. He's...He's going to be great, Ben. I know he is. I mean, look at him. He's only been your dad for a few months and already everything he does is all for you. And Ruby...''
Ben sucked in a nervous breath.
''I know you may not see it yet, but she's going to be good to you. She's not as cold as you think, Ben. There are just things about being human that she doesn't understand. She will though.''
''How can you be so sure?'' Ben asked bravely, looking over at Mom with eyes that wouldn't stop watering.
She tilted her head to the side and seemed to think long and hard about her answer. ''Because I can see certain things in their eyes that you can't see yet.''
He accepted her answer without questioning it and kept his eyes firmly on his hands. There was an ache in his chest that he couldn't make go away and prayers that went unanswered surrounded him in the silence. He broke when Mom put her hand on his and his walls crashed down. He jerked his hand away from hers and shot her a slightly betrayed look. ''I don't understand, Mom. Why can't you just hang on? Your body can get better and - ''
''I'm tired, Ben.''
That was it. She didn't launch into a big speech about letting go. She just told him she was tired. And that was enough. His watery eyes stared at her for a long time and then he slowly lay down next to her, turning his head to face her. He didn't say anything for the longest time and Mom took his hand. Finally, he broke the silence, sounding small and quiet even to his own ears. ''Dad doesn't know how I like my eggs.''
Mom squeezed his hand and brushed away his fallen tears. ''He'll learn.''
Things fell apart four months later on a Monday and Ben found a whole new reason to hate that dreaded day.
For the past month, things had been strange. At first, Ben chalked it up to jittery Winchester nerves. He knew all about what they did and he would've been surprised if they didn't get jumpy every once and awhile. But then Dad and Ruby began to spend more and more nights away from the Braeden household and the regular nightly fixtures became Sam and Bobby. Ben figured Dad and Ruby must have been fighting or something because honestly, they kinda did that a lot. But then Sam started disappearing too and one day, after having been gone for a week, he limped into the house with a bandage on his cheek, looking like someone had worked him over real good and Dad and Ruby didn't take their eyes off of him all day.
One day, Ben came home from school and Dad and Ruby were both in the living room. Only Dad looked like he hadn't slept in days and Ruby...just did not look well. Ruby's eyes widened like a frightened deer's when the door slammed shut and she shrank back against the couch. Ben almost took a step back when she looked up to display red, bloodshot eyes. He was ushered into the kitchen by Sam and Bobby and the last thing he saw before being pulled away was Dad rushing towards a badly shaking Ruby.
That image alone was not right.
''What's going on?'' He demanded, eyes darting back and forth between Sam and Bobby. ''Is Ruby all right?''
''She's...It's a long story,'' Bobby sighed. ''Basically, something big went down and now she's...''
''Human,'' Sam said tonelessly. ''She's human.'' Then a humorless smirk tugged at his lips and he shrugged. ''Overall, she doesn't seem to be coping very well.''
...Did not see that one coming.
That was Wednesday.
Ben didn't see Dad or Ruby at all Thursday and on Friday, Dad (minus Ruby) artfully dodged all questions about Ruby's newfound humanity, choosing instead to pretend nothing had changed.
On Saturday, Ben saw Ruby and Sam only briefly when they dropped Dad off. Ruby was in the passenger seat of Dad's car looking pale and not at all Ruby like and Sam was leaning against the car with fading bruises on his face. Dad said something to Sam, tossed him the keys and then pried open the passenger side door to talk to Ruby. Ben didn't know what was being said but Dad had his hands on Ruby like he was trying to anchor her and even though she was nodding like she understood, she looked terrified and near tears. Eventually, Sam drove off with a newly humanized (and apparently incredibly freaked out) Ruby, and Dad gave Ben an overly bright smile.
On the same day, Dad had a two hour long conversation with Mom while Ben played cards with Bobby and Mom's new nurse, Eliza (Mom had been adamant that she did not want to die in the hospital, so a nurse was sent to the Braeden house). When Dad emerged from Mom's room, his eyes were red and he looked...troubled. To say the least. Later, when Ben was propped up in bed with Mom, Dad came in, took a seat next to the bed and Mom brushed her fingers over Ben's cheek. ''Whatever happens next, Ben,'' Mom rasped. ''Your father and I are going to need you to be brave.''
Dad didn't say a word, but he kept his eyes on the ceiling like he was praying and his lips trembled.
After they thought he had left the room, Ben hovered by the door just long enough to hear Dad say, ''Ben, Ruby and Sam are my life, Lisa. That's why they can never know any of the things I told you.''
''To the grave, Dean,'' Mom replied. ''I can promise you that.''
''I hate when you talk like that.''
''...That's very hypocritical, don't you think?''
Well...that couldn't be a good sign.
On Sunday, Dad made a weird effort to be a Soccer Dad by taking Ben and Ruby out to breakfast, followed by a highly suspect game of catch in the park while Ruby's scared, wide eyes darted around the open space like she thought a sniper was going to take them out. Odd, but Ben thought it might have been some kind of attempt to show him the future wasn't going to be all bad.
On Sunday, in the middle of the night, Ben had a dream about Dad kissing him on the forehead and whispering in a rough, strangled voice, ''I love you, Ben.''
It was followed by Ben waking up at around four to the muffled sound of a woman screaming and Sam's panicked voice. His first thought was Mom, but when he crept out into the hall, he found the noises were coming from downstairs. He peered downstairs and saw Sam with his phone glued to his ear, body tense and Ben could hear wails coming from the phone from all the way upstairs. Was that...Ruby? No. That couldn't be right.
''Ruby!'' Sam was shouting and something about the desperation in Sam's voice made Ben shiver. ''Ruby, slow down. ...Is he still breathing? Well, I need you to check! Stop fucking crying! ...Ruby, is he breathing?''
Ben went back to bed and did his best to pretend that was a nightmare because it couldn't be - it couldn't be - real.
(It wasn't a dream, was it? Both of them. The dreams he had that night. They were both real, weren't they?)
On Monday morning, a crushed, haggard looking Bobby Singer called the school and told them Ben was sick and then he broke the news to both Mom and Ben at the same time. Ben thought the sky was falling. Mom cried, but didn't actually seem truly surprised.
Early Monday morning, around four, Dad died.
Dad died and nobody would tell him how.
It was an accident, they all said, a horrible, tragic accident. But their voices sounded funny and Ben wasn't sure if they were trying to convince him or themselves. Dad died in an accident. But Ruby was suddenly human and Sam had a permanent nasty scar on his cheek and Dad told him he loved him in a dream that wasn't a dream and Mom didn't seem surprised. Ben couldn't help but wonder if those things were all connected somehow.
One month later, a week and a half after his thirteenth birthday, Mom slipped away quietly in her sleep and Ben's future went up in smoke.
...So that's it.
That's his story. That's how he lost both parents so fast it was like somebody just snapped their fingers and boom, Mom and Dad were dead.
That's how he got here.
Ben Braeden is not a stupid little kid.
He is thirteen and bitter and jaded and he has just lost both of his parents. He is not a problem child either. He is just not in the mood for this bullshit.
Frank Jones, otherwise known as Mom's deadbeat father, cannot waltz in and act like the grieving father who only wants to give his grandson a better life. The bastard didn't even know Mom was sick until she was gone. The only reason he's even here is because Mom's dimwitted (who cares if she was well meaning?) friend, Dawn, called him to tell him about Mom's ''passing.'' And Ben really wishes people would stop calling it that. She died, okay?
Ben folds his arms across his chest, sinks farther into his chair and taps his foot anxiously. Currently, he's sitting in the hall of the lawyer's office because he was kicked out of the reading of the will because he was being a nuisance. And he'll admit he may have lost his cool, but the only reason is because as soon as those words, ''the only other option is foster care'' came out of Dalton's mouth, he got scared. And FYI, at the time, throwing a glass at the wall seemed like a great idea. It was strangely satisfying to watch it shatter.
He huffs impatiently and purses his lips into a scowl. He thinks he's pretty much screwed. He's an orphan with nowhere to go. This is it, man. Game over. This is beyond bad. He doesn't have anything or anyone. No Mom, no Dad, no Sam (because that idiot decided to do a disappearing act after Dad died and after he showed up drunk to Mom's funeral like a big jerkface), no fairy godmother and no fucking magic beans.
He's three seconds away from losing it completely and kicking something when he hears the sound of heels clicking against the hard floor, followed by two achingly familiar voices. ''Ruby, if you'd just calm down - ''
''Fuck that! Just because you decided to run like a little coward doesn't mean I will. I won't let them take him away from me!''
Ben looks up and his eyes widen at the sight before him.
Ruby is storming down the hall looking like the definition of hell hath no fury with Sam trailing after her like a lost little puppy dog and Ben almost wants to pinch himself to see if this is real. Neither of them even so much as look at him as Ruby pushes open both doors to Dalton's unnecessarily large office and stalks through with Sam following after her. Ben is left to wonder if that really just happened.
He's not sure how long he sits there, but by the time the doors open again, a million crazy thoughts are running through his head. Does Ruby really want him? Is she really the best person to be doing this? Raising him? Because it's not like she's the most maternal person in the world. Is he going to be safe with her? Because if she were still a demon, he'd have no doubts about his safety. But she's human now. Speaking of her humanity, is she stable enough to take care of him? Because the last time he saw her, she needed Dad to take care of her. Is this really a good idea?
He briefly thinks about protesting this and then he remembers Mom and Dad. Mom liked Ruby. She said she would be good to him. Mom said she saw things he couldn't see yet. And Dad had assured him many times that Ruby would grow on him. Honestly, the thing is, if Ben had to choose between the people left behind...he'd choose her. He's not sure why. He just would.
The doors open and Ruby, Sam and Dalton step out with Dalton's eyes scanning Mom's will. Ben's wide eyes immediately seek out Ruby and he opens his mouth to say something, but no words come out. ''Congratulations, kid,'' Ruby smirks. ''It looks like you're stuck with us.''
(He'll learn later that us doesn't mean her and Sam.)
end chapter one
AN: Okay, A) Don't hate me.
B) Yes, I'm aware that in canon Lisa has at least one sibling, but let's all just take a step back and pretend for a moment, shall we?
C) YOU ALL MUST HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. Like...How did Dean die? Is he going to come back? Did he know he was going to die? What was he hiding? What's going on between Ruby and Cas? What's up with Ruby being human? Why would anyone in their right mind leave a thirteen year old boy in the care of an ex-demon/emotionally fragile widow? Why is Sam being a jerkface? Why are you DOING THIS TO US? All very good questions. However, the only one I will address is the last one. I'm doing this to you because I can. Because it's fun. That's why. As for the rest...I will only give you this: Somebody knows something. One of them knows exactly what went down and they're not telling.
And D) For all of my American friends, Happy Turkey Day! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving. Eat lots.