AN: I know, I know! I shouldn't be starting a new story! But I needed a break from all the angst of my Everything You Want and Queen of Hearts and apparently I can't write oneshots anymore so...I give you part one of this unplanned fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants story. Ta da!


Title: Until You
Summary: AU: Dean Winchester was a thriving detective. Ruby Daniels was a struggling artist. They had absolutely no reason to meet. Until they were thrown into each other's worlds by sketchbooks, one unique ability and the things that go bump in the night.
Pairing:
Detective!Dean/Human!Ruby
Characters: Dean, Ruby, Sam, Victor Henriksen, Mary Winchester, John Winchester, Missouri Mosely, Jimmy, Claire and Amelia Novak, a few OC's scattered about.
Genre: Romance/Supernatural
Rating: T
Timeline: I have no idea. All I know is that Dean is roughly twenty eight and Ruby is roughly twenty five.
Spoilers: None really.
Warnings: Really, really AU, human!Ruby, character death, violence.
Notes: I suppose you could say this story is somewhat of a spin off of the 'well, bless my soul' universe. I'm borrowing some characters from that 'verse for Ruby's backstory.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.


Until You

Written by Becks Rylynn


Part One


/1/

sketchbooks


It starts with drawings.

It always starts with drawings.


She sees a little boy in her dreams. She's standing in an unfamiliar house in a dark bedroom and there's a little boy asleep in a race car bed. She feels like she's intruding. Like she should leave. But there's an unexplainable force keeping her in place, there's a dark presence looming nearby and she is suddenly struck with the inexplicable feeling that she somehow has to protect this child. Save him. It's nothing new, really. She always feels like she has to stop her premonitions, save the people in danger like a big damn hero, which she is not. But it never fails to take her breath away.

And then there's a hand at the window, long twig-like fingers tapping at the glass. She can't move. The boy stays sleeping. She is a prisoner in her own body, an outsider looking in on a world that isn't hers as the window opens and something dark and evil crawls through like something out of a horror movie. It is only when she catches sight of its grotesque face that she wakes up.

She bolts upright in bed, sweat glistening on her forehead, gasping for breath. There are whispers in her head and phantom fingers in her hair and she's shaking. She throws herself sideways in an attempt to grab a pencil and a pad of paper off her nightstand only to misjudge the distance and go crashing to the floor with a thump. She groans, but since there is no time to spare, she bites back a curse and snatches the sketchbook.

Then she draws. Because that is the way these things seem to work.

When she is finished, it's five o'clock in the morning and she has two pictures to work with. One is a picture of a little boy sleeping peacefully in his race car bed unaware of the danger he's in. The other is of a frightening creature that shouldn't exist outside of a Wes Craven movie. That's pretty much all she has to go on.

Sometimes (read: all of the time) she wishes the afterlife would give her a little more info.


/2/

come sit close to me


''Sorry, Rubes,'' her cousin shrugs helplessly and slides the sketchbook across the table. ''I have no idea what that thing is. Looks like Freddy Kruger's brother, though. If that helps.''

Ruby sighs heavily and drops her chin into the palm of her hand, tapping her pencil on the picture. Great. As if this thing she does isn't hard enough. Now her resources have almost been tapped out and she is still not any closer to knowing, like, anything. ''Aggie,'' she murmurs. ''Why does the spirit world have to be so vague?''

''The afterlife is complicated, Ruby,'' Aggie says sagely, sipping at her espresso. ''Sometimes things just get lost in translation.''

In response, Ruby yawns and flicks to a blank page, absently drawing whatever her muddled, sleep deprived brain tells her to. ''Yes, Agatha, I know that. I just wish I had more to work with.''

Aggie rolls her hazel eyes flecked with gold so far back into her head Ruby is sure she must get a headache. ''Yes, yes, I know. Being psychic is rough. Just remember you're the one with the magical powers, super bitch. I'm the one who is stuck with research detail. Okay? You're Buffy and Willow. I'm Dawn. Nobody likes Dawn.''

''Don't make fun of me. And they're not magical powers, they're just...they're just...'' She trails off and doesn't know how to complete that sentence. ''...Whatever, Dawn.''

''You'll figure it out eventually,'' the brunette reassures her, leaning forwards to pat Ruby's hand comfortingly. ''You always do. You're great at what - ooh! Boyfriend! It's my boyfriend!'' Squealing like an over excited teenager, Aggie leaps from her seat and nearly knocks Ruby out of her chair on her way over to her...boyfriend.

Ruby scoffs and lifts her eyes to the gray, overcast sky above the sky. Boyfriend. There really should be an age limit on that word. Victor Henriksen is way over that mythical limit, by the way. She turns, expecting to see her cousin throw herself at her Detective Creeper manfriend. And she does see that. But she is so not prepared for Victor's friend. Whoa. She puckers her lips and clears her throat, looking away quickly when he catches her eye. She looks back down her sketchbook and has to stifle a gasp, nearly choking on her own tongue in the process, when she sees Mr. Hot Guy's likeness drawn on the paper.

...Apparently the universe is trying to tell her something.

What? That she needs to get laid? Because she already knew that one.

She slams the book shut and crams both it and the drawing of Freddy Kruger's brother back into her bag seconds before Aggie and Victor reach the table. She stands, forcing a smile onto her face.

''Ruby,'' Victor greets. ''Still don't like me?''

''Oh,'' she smiles brightly and reaches out to swat him on the chest. ''You know me too well, Vic.''

''That's all right. I brought a buffer this time.'' He crooks his finger over to his friend, who's slipping his phone back into his pocket and making his way over to them. Ruby's breath catches in her throat. Totally against her will. ''Ruby,'' Victor says, ''this is Dean Winchester, my colleague and the bane of my existence. Dean, this is Ruby Daniels, Aggie's cousin who thinks I'm the scum of the earth.''

...Yeah. See, she has this annoying little habit where she tends to blurt inappropriate things out when she's nervous. It involves her opening her mouth without thinking and saying the first thing that comes to mind because she is currently not in possession of one of those handy filters that connects your brain to your mouth. This is the reason why she introduces herself by blurting out, ''I'm adopted'' because for some reason, she thinks Dean's going to comment on how she looks nothing like her cousin. Which, in her defense, has happened on more than one occasion. It is not the first time she has put her foot in her mouth and it surely won't be the last. She does that daily.

Dean Winchester, however, doesn't falter. ''I'm an Aquarius,'' he informs her. Then he adds, ''Don't worry. I'm used to women falling all over themselves when they meet me.''

Well, that's that then. Hotness factor totally blown to bits by the ego. She crosses her arms over her chest, entirely unimpressed. ''You ruined it,'' she deadpans. ''Now I pretty much just think you're a smug bastard.''

''Oh, I am a smug bastard,'' he nods.

''At least you're honest.''

''But I'm a very, very attractive smug bastard.''

''I wouldn't flatter yourself if I were you.''

''Well, this is going swimmingly,'' Victor pipes up. ''It's very comforting.''

''You're a thirty four year old man dating a twenty two year old girl, Victor,'' Ruby snaps. ''I don't do things to comfort you.''

''You know, there's a name for guys like you, man,'' Dean adds on, swinging his gaze over to his friend.

''Perverts?'' Ruby suggests.

Dean grins at her. ''Heroes.''

''Ugh,'' she scoffs again. ''I don't even know you and yet I'm positive I dislike you strongly.''

''Hey, whatever helps you sleep at night.''

''Wow!'' Aggie jumps in between them with a wide smile and eyes that anxiously flick from her cousin to her boyfriend's best friend. ''Clearly this is a sign of true love and all, but how about we try this again, 'kay? How does that sound?'' When both Dean and Ruby open their mouths to object, Aggie cuts them off by grinning and clapping her hands together. ''Great! All right, so...Ruby,'' she wraps one arm around Ruby's shoulder and pulls Dean to her by the arm. ''This is Dean Winchester. He's a detective.''

''Is that supposed to impress me?''

''And Dean, this is Ruby Daniels. She's an artist.''

''The kind that draws naked people?''

''Now shake hands and say oh, hello. It's such a pleasure to meet you.''

''Aggie, I have a very big personality and he obviously does too and sometimes - ''

''Yes, your robotic tone of voice tells me you're the life of the party.''

''Hey, know what? Why don't you - ''

''For God's sake, will you just shake hands?''

All eyes go to Aggie. As in all eyes. A waiter actually stops talking just to look over at the flustered chick and her crazy eyes. Almost instantly, Aggie seems to realize the volume of her voice, wincing and pressing her lips together. She steps back, crosses herself and drops her head into her hands, shaking her head. Victor pats her arm gently. And Ruby is the first to break. Mostly because she doesn't want her cousin to have some kind of mental breakdown during the lunch hour. Reluctantly, she holds out a hand and resigns herself to this starting all over again thing. ''Hi,'' she says politely. ''It's nice to meet you, Dean.''

He looks at her for a moment, a smile briefly crosses his lips and then he takes her hand. ''It's nice to meet you too, Ruby.''

When Victor catches sight of the way Dean's eyes are twinkling, he jumps in with a sharp, ''End it there, Winchester.''

...You know all of those clich├ęs you read about in romance novels? Butterflies in the stomach, metaphorical sparks and wildfires (because apparently attraction is a fire hazard), strange magnetic forces? Well, the reality is a little bit different. Especially for people like her. The reality is a very real, very physical shock of electricity that travels all the way up her arm. In the movies, this would be the part where they drop hands and make stunned eye contact because oh my god, they've found The One! That doesn't happen in real life. In real life, something is keeping them from dropping each other's hands and they're avoiding eye contact at all costs.

It's only when Aggie says, ''Um, are you two aware that you're still holding hands?'' that they finally let go.

Ruby is not at all sure of what just happened here, but she is fairly certain she's not comfortable with it.


Halfway through lunch, Ruby gets that feeling. That knowing feeling. She catches sight of a waiter coming out of the kitchen with a milkshake and she just knows he's going to trip and spill it on someone. He will carefully dodge his way through the restaurant and make his way out onto the patio without incident, but when he's right near their table he'll miss one lady's enormous purse sitting on the ground. That is what will happen.

So, when said waiter is seconds away from sending chocolate milkshake spraying all over their table, she jumps to her feet and takes the hit because nobody ever said being a psychic was a glamorous job.

She's wiping the sugary, chocolaty mixture from her eyes while the waiter apologizes profusely and Aggie is rushing towards her with napkins when Dean, who she has just saved despite the fact that he's a pain in the ass, by the way, stands and wipes chocolate from her cheek. ''Hmm,'' he eyes her carefully and for a second she almost thinks he knew what she did there. But then he smirks and licks his finger. ''My hero.''


/3/

to draw your love on my arms


She's been drawing forever.

Ever since she was a little girl, she's found solace in her drawings. She traces lines and patterns that become something extraordinary within seconds; a world she creates with the tip of her pencil. She can make magic with chalk and fairytales with paint, shapes and colors that blend together into beautiful portraits of lives. Her drawings tell stories, her paintings sing songs. That's just the way it has always been.

It was her grandmother, her namesake, who had introduced her to the feeling of a pencil in her hand at the tender age of four. Up until then, Ruby had wanted to be a nurse just like her mommy. But then she saw those pretty paintings in Grandma Ruby's house, spirals and shapes and people and houses and animals and places and a beauty that seemed untouchable to the little girl.

She was four years old when her grandmother put a paintbrush in her hand for the first time and all Ruby can remember is that it felt right.''You're a natural, gumdrop,'' Grandma Ruby said, beaming.

Ruby was seven when Grandma Ruby passed away after being sick for a real long time. She inherited every art supply her grandmother had stored away in her house, every painting on the wall and a memory of her grandmother saying, ''Draw me a world, baby-girl.''

The rest came naturally...


Her mother died when she was thirteen. Victoria Daniels went out for milk and never came home again. Ruby couldn't drink milk for five years. Thirteen was also the year her power really started to manifest itself into her drawings. She had always had these...abilities. She had always been different. And her parents knew that. But they didn't know where it came from; they didn't know how to handle it. So her father accepted it as a unique quirk and her mother advised her to channel it into something productive. She didn't know what that meant until she was thirteen.

Angry and grieving, she lost herself in her artwork and those strange vibes, those things she could do, began to grow. In her heightened emotional state, she would learn, she had opened a gateway she couldn't close. She didn't even realize what she was doing until she drew a picture of their next door neighbor committing suicide.

It scared her father and it terrified her. What she could do...nobody was supposed to be able to do that. So when she was sixteen, she tracked down her birth mother in hopes of receiving the answers that she had been running after since she was three and had a little ghost friend.


Her birth mother named her Aubrey.

Would you believe it means supernatural being and power?

She was born on August 13th into unbearable summer heat. Her birth father's name is Jackson Casey. He was a seventeen year old boy when Ruby was born. A boy who loved his girlfriend more than anything. He would have followed her to the end of the universe and beyond if she had asked him to. He was the bad boy with the heart of gold, the bad boy who isn't really bad at all, with deep blue eyes that see through lies and deceit. Her birth mother's name is Lily Sullivan. She was a sixteen year old girl who loved her baby more than the world. Which was why she gave her up. They handpicked Joey and Victoria Daniels to give their daughter a better life. Which they did...

...For the most part.

Lily Sullivan was the spitting image of what her daughter would become, except for the blue eyes, those were inherited from Jackson. Lily had blond hair, a beauty that blinded, artistic ability and she could do things most people couldn't.

Ruby was sixteen and scared when she finally showed up on her birth parent's doorstep. Lily and Jackson were married, doing great and had two kids. And it took about three minutes upon meeting her mini-me for Lily to reach out, take Ruby's hands, lock eyes with her and say, ''You have it too, don't you? The power. You have it too.''


And so that's how she learned to roll with the punches, how to stop fighting what's inside of her and instead run with it and embrace her powers to help people. When she has a premonition, she draws it, gets it down on paper and she does her best to solve the week's mystery or save the week's victim. Over the years, she got her best friend/cousin on the bandwagon, her birth mother still helps her out and she packed up her life in New Jersey and moved to Lawrence, Kansas (Aggie followed, mainly to piss off their Gran) because Lily told her there was a wonderful psychic out there who could help her in all her endeavors.

So, yes.

At twenty five, she has managed to come to terms with the fact that her life is like a TV show.

Everybody has their quirks.


/4/

shout when you want to get off the ride


Sometimes she regrets not taking track in high school. It possibly could have helped her in her current adult life. Especially when she's trying to race from her apartment to her work because for some reason, she felt the need to save a jackass from getting milkshaked.

Alas, she was too busy going out with bad boys, smoking in the bathrooms and cutting class to join the track team. That would have revealed her dirty little secret anyway. Her dirty little secret being that she actually did care about her education, despite what everyone thought. She pushes through the door, lungs burning painfully and when she opens her mouth to wheeze out a triumphant, ''Yes! I'm not late!"' she is rudely cut off.

''Yes, you are,'' a voice calls out from another room. ''You're a minute and a half late.''

Still attempting to catch her breath, Ruby lets that one go and has to lean over with her hands on her knees, gulping in much needed breaths of air. ''Sorry,'' she coughs out, standing straight and pushing her hair out of her face. ''There was an emergency.''

Missouri Mosely makes her way into the room, arms full of old, dusty books. ''Yes, I know. However, if you had spent less time deciding between the red shirt and the blue shirt, you would have been here right on time.'' She shoves the books into Ruby's arm, ignores the younger woman's surprised ''oof'' and brushes dust off her clothing. ''Also, you should have chosen the red.''

Ruby arches an eyebrow. ''Okay then. Thanks for the fashion advice.'' She carefully puts the books down on the coffee table, catching one when it falls. ''So,'' she blows dust off the top of one of the books and cracks it open. ''What's with the archives? I'm not going to have to copy crap down from these things, am I?''

''That depends.'' Missouri offers her one of those knowing smiles and glides over to the tea pot in the corner.

''On what?''

''On how much you want to know about that drawing of yours.''

Ruby's fingers, absently flipping through the pages of the well worn book, still and she swivels around to face Missouri. She opens her mouth to say something, clamps it shut and shakes her head with a smirk. ''I'd ask how you know about that, but that's a stupid question.'' She drops the book back down onto the unsteady pile of books and collapses on the overstuffed sofa, digging through her bag for the picture of the creature from the Black Lagoon. Missouri eyes her carefully as she takes the paper. She takes one look at it and then her lips curve downwards into a barely noticeable frown as she murmurs, ''oh, dear'' under her breath.

All in all, it is not the comforting reaction Ruby was hoping for. If something is bad enough to get an ''oh, dear'' from Missouri Mosely, then it's bad.

Shaking her head, Missouri carefully chooses a book from the bottom of the pile and hands it over to Ruby. ''The information you need is in there,'' she informs her plainly. ''But Ruby...I hope you're not thinking of going up against this thing alone.''

Ruby sighs and bites her lip.

Missouri shakes her head again, clicking her tongue in disappointment. ''You are. Child, when are you going to realize you're not Wonder Woman? You're only human, Ruby. These things can kill you. Yes, you have power. But you are still only one person.''

Ruby looks down at the ground and avoids Missouri's eyes at all costs. Well, what else is she supposed to do? Let this thing go after that little boy, if it hasn't already? Stand by and not do anything when she knows she can? Go to the police, perhaps?

''You know...'' Missouri is smiling widely when Ruby lifts her head. Uh-oh. ''That's not the worst idea you've ever had.''

''What's not...oh.'' Ruby wrinkles her nose. ''Stay out of my head. ...Wait, you want me to go to the police? Yes, because they've been so helpful in the past.''

Missouri's eyes twinkle like she knows something Ruby doesn't as she pats the young psychic on the shoulder. ''You'd be surprised, honey.'' Then she flings a look towards the phone and arches an eyebrow. ''You should get that. It is your job, after all.''

The phone starts to ring about three seconds after Missouri walks out of the room.


Ruby spends the day researching some scary monster called a Shtriga. And, you know, doing her job. Also important. Usually she'd just get Aggie to do this for her because if there is one thing Ruby hates more than anything, its research. This is different. She can't put her finger on why this is different; she just knows something about this case is different than all of the other ones. According to the things she reads in Missouri's book and the info she gets from occult website, a shtriga is a nasty little sucker who likes to eat children's life source. Like something out of a really creepy fairytale.

And they look like monsters.

...Okay, she's not going to lie here: She's petite, which does increase her chances of getting thrown across the room like a ragdoll. Unfortunate, but very true. She will admit that she could use a little help. A sidekick who is not a twenty two year old girl with little to no hand to hand combat skills. Someone with a little muscle maybe?

Right before she goes home for the day, she is still trying to figure out how she is going to go up against this shtriga character and she's daydreaming, pencil gliding across a sheet of paper without her even realizing it. The next thing she knows, Missouri is appearing out of nowhere and snatching the paper right out from under her pencil. Ruby sputters for a moment before she finally manages to squeak out a, ''Hey!''

''Mmmhmm.'' Missouri looks down at the drawing with a nod, eyes lit up like a Christmas tree. ''I was right.''

''Right about what? I don't even know what I drew, okay?'' Ruby slumps back down in her seat. ''Whatever it is, it's not a big deal.''

Missouri hands her back the sheet of paper. ''Whatever you say, dear.''

Ruby purses her lips and tells herself she is not going to look at the piece of paper. Whatever she drew, it doesn't matter. She lasts about two minutes, looking back and forth between the direction Missouri disappeared and the clock on the wall. Then curiosity gets the best of her. She grabs the paper, takes a deep breath and turns it over. A gasp escapes her lips and she throws it back down like it's on fire, lip curling in disgust, jumping to her feet and backing away from it like it's a scary monster in the dark. ''What? No. No, no, no, no. Just...no.'' She looks up at the ceiling with narrowed eyes and puts her hands on her hips. ''Don't do that. That's not funny.''

''It's not supposed to be funny!'' Missouri calls from another room. ''It's supposed to be fate!''

Ruby closes her eyes, nibbling on her lower lip as she weighs her options. Finally, she reaches out and takes the piece of paper again, tilting her head to the side. On the paper, drawn in startling detail right down to the rims on the tires, the keys in his hand and the badge around his neck, Dean Winchester is climbing into an old, classic car that she knows is supposed to be black even though she's never seen it. She looks at it for a moment, and then rips it in half.

She can hear Missouri huff in frustration all the way from the other room.

Ruby rolls her eyes and turns away for a moment to grab her bag because she really should be getting home before the storm comes.

When she turns back, the picture is intact.

Oh, fuck you, fate. Sometimes you really suck ass.


/5/

this is a gift, it comes with a price


Later that evening, she's at home making dinner when the stupid cosmos decide to make the decision for her.

It's raining and the TV is on for background noise while she tries to recreate the delectable spaghetti her mother used to make to no avail. This spaghetti is something she's been trying to duplicate ever since her mother died. Then it happens:

Now, this is another thing that is not at all like it's portrayed in fiction.

These abilities are something she was born with. Not something she was given that was never meant to be hers. Meaning that there is no pain behind her premonitions and when she's not dreaming, her premonitions are not movies that play behind her eyelids. People are very rarely born with actual honest to God visions. It's more a sense of knowing. One minute she doesn't know things, the next she does. While we're at it, not every dream she has is prophetic, she can't hear your thoughts and she cannot sense auras.

Got it? Good.

She just...happens to have really important and vivid dreams that come true sometimes, her artwork means more than you could ever know, sometimes she knows things and hey, maybe when she wants to, she can see your thoughts. When it's a direct enough thought she can see it written on your chest because most thoughts that mean something come from your heart. That is the way these things really work.

Disappointed?

She is stirring the pasta sauce, eternally let down by the fact that it's mediocre and not orgasmic like her mother's when she hears something on the television about kids getting sick. Kids getting sick. That strikes a chord. It's barely a fragment of a sentence that she somehow manages to catch over the sound of the rain and the boiling pasta, but it's enough to trigger a premonition.

Katie Reynolds is seven years old. Her bedroom is pink and white and filled with teddy bears. Her window was the first one that thing crawled into. Ricky Hallen is nine years old. He likes dinosaurs. A monster came into his room on a Thursday. Jason Riley is seven years old. He has glow in the dark stars on his ceiling. He was number three. And Carter Meyers is a five year old boy who likes magic tricks, sleeps in a race car bed and whose picture she drew. He was admitted to the hospital this morning.

Those are the things she knows now.

Her pasta burns and the sauce bubbles over.


/6/

ghosts with just voices


It isn't as if this is the first time Ruby has ever presented her findings to the police in Lawrence. She used to do it sporadically with unimportant snippets over the anonymous tip line. And then a few years back, there was Bianca. Her name was Bianca Rhys, she was ten years old and she went missing during a hot and humid summer. Snatched right off the monkey bars at a local playground. Ruby knows this because she saw it happen in a dream.

And do you know what happened when she went to the police? She was laughed at.

Bianca died. That little girl with her whole life ahead of her died because the detective handling the case didn't take her seriously when she told him Bianca was being kept somewhere where it was so hot it made her sick and it was getting so hard to breathe and she knew that because she was psychic. Guess where they found Bianca Rhys. No, really. Go ahead. Take a guess.

Yep, that's right. She was found in a stuffy box because some psycho wanted to turn her into a living doll. She suffocated to death, slowly and painfully.

So, no. She doesn't particularly like police and generally they don't like people like her. Yet here she is, sitting in a cold office in the precinct with wet, rain soaked hair while she waits for some cop to show up and, most likely, openly mock her. She is so convinced this person is going to call her crazy that she can't even begin to think of what she will do if they do believe her.

She sighs tiredly and leans back in her chair, the very thing she was told not to do as a teenager. She always has had a penchant for doing the exact opposite of what people tell her to.

The door opens.

She barely manages to stop herself from toppling over in shock. She also barely manages to keep from staring at the ceiling and shouting out a despairing and dramatic cry of, ''Seriously?''

Dean Winchester strolls into the room with a smug smirk and derogatory slurs written all over him. Literally. Words such as wackjob and crazy and nuts are printed neatly on his chest and arms for all the world to see. Well, actually, just for her to see.

She lets out an indignant huff, sticks her nose up and refuses to let that one go. ''I most certainly am not crazy, you...you...jerk.''

He whistles lowly and shuts the door.

The nasty remarks fade away, replaced by something incredibly offensive and dirty that makes her blush and that she will never, ever repeat. Ever. ''Detective Winchester,'' she admonishes. ''I hardly know you! I would never - '' She stops short when a boy enters the room, looking bored out of his mind. He's around twelve or thirteen, lanky, he's got a mop of dark hair on his head and there is something undoubtedly familiar about him. But what's really remarkable is that he enters the room by walking through the closed door.

Ah, ghosts. Gotta love their timing.

''Anyway...'' Ruby squirms in her seat and tries to avoid looking at the ghost that Dean does not appear to see. Not surprising. He doesn't exactly seem like the type of guy who is incredibly open to the paranormal. ''Can we just get this show on the road?'' She asks.

''Sure.'' Dean throws a notebook and pen down on the table and takes a seat, leaning back in his chair like he too was a rebellious teen once upon a time. He studies her silently for a moment like this is some sort of cop intimidation tactic. She sighs.

The ghost boy hops up on the table between them, swings his legs out and looks at Dean. ''Dude,'' he says casually. ''You so totally like this girl, don't you? You haven't looked at anyone like that since Carmen.''

Ruby is finding it unbelievably hard to pretend she's not seeing this.

''So...'' Dean leans forwards. ''You think you're psychic.''

She rolls her eyes and pinches the bridge of her nose. ''No,'' she says calmly. ''I don't think I'm psychic. Only crazy people think they're psychic. I know I'm psychic. There's a difference, Dean.''

''...I don't even know how to respond to that.''

Ghost Boy snorts. ''Yeah, right,'' he laughs. ''You're a psychic. Sure. What a crock of shit.'' He splays himself out on his stomach while Ruby bites back a comment about his language. He drops his chin into the palm of his hands and stares at Ruby. She works very hard not to make eye contact. ''Dean, if she really was psychic, she'd be able to see me. And she can't. Watch this.'' He waves a hand in front of her face. She presses her lips together. The kid makes a face at her. Kinda hard to ignore when a ghost is blatantly trying to throw themselves at you.

''Look,'' she says.

Ghost Boy blows a raspberry.

''Look,'' she repeats, doing her best not to look around the ghost because that would look a tad odd, don't you think? ''Think whatever the hell you want to think, Detective. I just need to tell someone.''

''That you're nutty?'' Ghostie suggests.

''I don't care if you believe me or not.''

''Yes, you do,'' the ghost says with a nod.

''But the least you can do is listen to me.''

Ghost Boy starts to hum.

All right, she's getting increasingly flustered here. What exactly is the universe trying to do? Get her carted away to the funny farm? She's got a freaking shtriga on the loose, an egotistical cop who thinks she's hot but kind of looney tunes and a ghost child who is seriously distracting.

''Fine,'' Dean is saying, bringing her back to the present. He drags the notebook across the table and clicks the end of the pen restlessly. ''What do you want to tell me, Patricia Arquette?''

Not an entirely incorrect reference.

''Well, first of all, stop with the name calling.''

''Yeah, Dean,'' the boy scoffs. ''How childish. You don't call someone names to their face. Even if she does have half a foot in the cuckoo's nest.''

Okay, that's it. While Dean is rolling his eyes, she clenches her teeth and carefully makes direct eye contact with Mr. Sarcastic. Ha! That ought to throw him off his game a little. As expected, it startles him quite a bit. Stunned, he rears backwards, lets out a yelp and promptly rolls off the table, landing hard on the floor. ''Whoa!'' She bites back a satisfied smile.

''Sorry,'' Dean says. ''That was unprofessional. Go ahead. Tell me your story, Ruby.''

The ghost is on his feet within a second, staring at Ruby with wide eyes. ''You can see me? Holy shit, you really are psychic!''

Ruby bites her lip and can't decide who to answer. Both Dean and the unnamed ghost stare at her expectantly. Finally, she lets out a cough. ''You know,'' she says through coughs, giving Dean what she hopes is her best Bambi eyes. ''You know, it's really dry in here.'' She leans towards Dean, hoping she looks distressed enough. ''Do you think you could get me some water?''

''Wow,'' the boy mumbles. ''You should get an acting award. I especially like that little hitch in your voice. ...Are you going to cry?''

Dean stares at her suspiciously, eyes narrowing. But eventually, either its professional courtesy or he really is a gentleman deep, deep down, he nods slowly. ''All right.'' He stands, eyes still raking over her. ''Don't do anything illegal.''

''Like what? What am I gonna do? Light up a joint?''

''Well, if you were a stoner, it would explain some things.''

Ruby waits until he's out of the room before turning to the ghost with pinched lips and eyes that glint with frustration. ''He likes you, you know,'' the ghost cuts in before she can say anything. ''I mean, he doesn't just think you're hot. He genuinely likes you. You've got moxie. He likes that in a woman. He's growing tired with all of these soft girls he keeps chasing. They don't keep him on his toes like you would. They won't fight him like you would.''

''Listen, Casper,'' she snaps out. ''That was quite the show you put on there. Are you going to tell me who you are or what?''

''Oh,'' he laughs nervously and she gets the feeling that if he could, he would blush. ''Sorry. I'm Sam. Dean's permanently little brother.''

Ooh, so that's why this kid is hanging around some guy who has zero interest whatsoever in the supernatural.

''I'd shake your hand,'' Sam says, bouncing on the balls of his feet. ''But I'm afraid - ''

Ruby cuts him off by standing, stepping forwards and taking his hand. It's a psychic thing. He stares down at their contact for a long time like he can't believe his eyes. Odd. He's a ghost and yet he can't believe this? When she tries to draw her hand away, he holds on tighter and grasps her wrist with his other hand. Uh...okay. Getting uncomfortable. He lifts his wide eyes to her. ''I...I can touch you,'' he squeaks. That's the first time he's really sounded like a kid. She can't decide if that's funny or sad.

''Yeah,'' she nods, lifting a shoulder in a shrug. ''It's just one of my many abili - oh!''

He jumps forwards and wraps his arms around her waist in a tight hug. ''I can touch you!'' He yells triumphantly. ''Oh my god, do you realize how long it's been since I touched someone with a heartbeat? I could kiss you!''

''Uh...yeah. Kid - ''

''Oh, don't worry.'' He pulls away and waves a hand dismissively. ''I'm not gonna. I was just saying. ...Is it cool that I kind of pretended you were my mom for a minute there?''

All of her annoyance drains away, replaced by sympathy. She's not dead. She's never even been close to it. But she sort of feels like she knows how he feels. If she had someone to pretend to be her mother... She wrangles up a weak smile for him and sits back down. ''Okay, listen, Sam - it's Sam, right?'' At his nod, she places her clasped hands on the table. ''Let's talk about you. How long have you been like this?''

''You mean...dead? Well, uh, let's see.'' His eyebrows furrow in concentration and he starts to count on his fingers. ''I died when I was twelve and I'd be twenty four now so...twelve years? Somewhere around there.''

''That's a long time to hang around,'' she says gently. ''Haven't you ever thought about - ''

''Going into the light?'' Sam shakes his head, eyes glinting with determination. ''No way. I can't leave Dean.''

''All right, I get that. But - ''

''No, you don't. You don't get it. You think you do, but you don't.'' He shakes his head. ''Look, Dean needs me, okay? I have other family. I do. I have a mom and a dad and a sister in med school. And somehow they have all managed to move on. But Dean...he needs me. It's been twelve years, Ruby, and he hasn't let go even a little bit. He needs me here. Even if he doesn't know I'm here, he needs me. So, if you're just gonna try and get me to cross over then you can just go away, all right? I made up my mind a long time ago.'' He holds his head high, something very few ghosts do, and puts his hands on his hips. ''I'm here until Dean dies either in his sleep or on top of some chick. When Dean goes, I go. Not a second sooner. And you can't make me.''

For a ghost boy...this Sam kid is surprisingly well adjusted.

''Nobody's going to make you do anything you don't want to.'' He lets out a breath, taking a step away from her. He's still looking at her like he expects her to try and exorcise him or something. He looks her up and down and when he reaches her eyes, she holds his gaze. ''Sam, it's your choice. If you want to stay here, you can stay here. All I'm saying is that it must get lonely. I can't imagine you and Dean have long talks. He's never seen you, has he? He has no idea you're here?''

Sam's shoulders slump and he looks at the floor, scuffing his shoe on the ground. ''...No,'' he admits quietly. ''Dean's not really open to these kinds of things. Oh, hey!'' He looks up, eyes lighting up brightly. ''Maybe that's what you can do for me! You can tell him I'm here! You can tell him I'm here and tell him what I'm saying!''

''I'm not sure that's a good idea, kid,'' she says softly, lowering her gaze to the table. ''People can see ghosts, Sam. If they believe, if they're open to it then they'll be able to see you. But if they're not...Dean doesn't believe in this, dude. He's not open to it. If he doesn't believe in you, what makes you think he'll believe me when I tell him you're here?'' Oh, wow. When he gets back, she is so screwed, isn't she? She'll tell him her story about shtrigas and kids and he won't believe a word of it. Then it's back to square one.

Sam lets out a groan, sits down in Dean's discarded chair and flops forwards with the dramatics of a twelve year old boy. ''Isn't it at least worth a shot?'' He asks. ''Can't you at least try?''

The door opening prevents her from answering. Honestly? Thank God for that. She doesn't want to disappoint the kid, but she really doesn't think this is going to go well. Dean enters the room, glass of water in his hand, eyes finding her almost instantly. He sets the water down in front of her and turns away from her before she can thank him. His extremely distrustful eyes scan the room like he's searching for evidence she did something stupid. He actually seems a little disappointed when he finds nothing wrong. ''There,'' he says gruffly. ''Can we continue this and finish it now?''

Ruby makes a show out of taking a dainty sip of the water as she watches Sam scramble out of the chair before Dean sits on him. ''Yes,'' she says primly. ''Thank you for the water.''

He grunts in response and keeps his head down. ''Talk now. I could be out solving murders and saving small children and puppy dogs, just so you know. Instead I'm in here talking to Jennifer Love Hewitt.''

Also a fair reference.

''Oh, Dean,'' Sam folds his arms. ''Always hiding behind your wit.''

''Actually, the reason I'm here is because of small children,'' Ruby speaks up, smiling smugly when Dean looks up sharply.

''Excuse me?''

''Before I say anything, I have to tell you that what I am about to say will sound crazy,'' she smiles nervously. ''There's no use denying that. It'll sound crazy and you probably won't believe me, but it really is the truth.''

''Enough with the disclaimer,'' Dean bites out impatiently. ''Get to the part with the kids.''

Wow, okay. Weakness for children. Good to know. ''You know those kids in the hospital?'' Ruby asks, crossing one leg over the other. ''The ones who are getting sick?''

''You mean the pneumonia outbreak?''

''It's not pneumonia.''

Dean stiffens and his grip on the pen in his hand tightens to the point where his knuckles turn white.

Off to the side, Sam raises his eyebrows in surprise. ''Whoa,'' he breathes out. ''Plot twist.''

''What do you mean it's not - ''

''It's a shtriga.'' The fact that she just blurted that out without skirting around the issue nervously probably comes from that talks when she's nervous issue she has. ''That's what's doing it,'' she continues, because she's too deep into this mess to stop now. ''That's what's making the kids sick. It comes into their rooms late at night and it takes away their life essence.'' When he has no visible reaction, she grabs her bag and digs out the picture of the shtriga, placing it on the table. ''That's what it looks like.'' She waits until he hesitantly grabs the picture before going on. ''A shtriga is sort of like a witch. It feeds on the kid's life essence because children are...well, they're about a gazillion times more pure than adults. If it takes away their life essence, their immune systems are compromised and they get sick.''

Dean looks up from her sketch, doesn't say anything for a long time and then he smirks. That can't be a good sign. He drops the paper back onto the table and crosses his arms over his chest. ''Right. Of course.'' Oh, great. Now he's got the patronizing done of voice down. Always wonderful. ''Well, personally, I'm surprised the doctor's didn't figure this out since it is such common knowledge and everything. It's a monster. Of course it's a monster because what else could it be?''

She could argue. Her stubbornness is telling her to argue. But she swallows all of that down and rises to her feet gracefully instead, snatching the picture back. ''You don't believe me,'' she monotones. ''That's fine. Nobody ever does. I'm used to people not believing in me. But just so you know, if I don't kill this thing then those kids are going to die.'' She stuffs the picture back in her bag and retrieves another, unfolding it slowly. He's still looking at her, seemingly unwillingly interested in her for reasons he cannot comprehend. She places the picture on the table. ''This boy's name is Carter. He's one of the sick kids. He's five years old. He should have the chance to live his life. Because it's always tragic when young lives are cut short. Isn't it, Dean?''

The smirk on his face fades and he stands, towering over her. He stares down at her, right into her eyes like he's trying to read if she really knows his secret or if she's simply bluffing. At last, he looks away from her. She watches his eyes trail back to the picture of Carter. ''Even if I did believe you,'' he mutters. ''What were you hoping to get from the police, Ruby?''

''Help,'' she whispers. ''All I want is some help. I can't do these things on my own anymore. The world is getting more and more dangerous and I am just one person.'' She offers him a small, polite smile before brushing past him to get to the door.

''Ruby...'' Sam's small, desperate voice stops her in her tracks.

She has her hand on the doorknob. She could escape. Instead, she sighs, looks up and turns around to face Dean once again. ''He's here, you know,'' she whispers. ''Your brother. Sam. He's right here with us. He's standing right next to you. He's always been with you. Ever since he died, he's been right beside you and despite what you say, despite the fact that you think these things don't exist...some part of you can sense him. Isn't that right?''

Well, that hits a fragile nerve. In two seconds, Dean has closed the distance between them and grabbed her shoulders. ''How do you know about Sam?'' He demands, chest heaving. ''Ruby, how the fuck do you know about my brother?''

''I told you,'' she says strongly. ''He's standing right - ''

''Stop it!'' He lets go of her and takes a step back, running a hand through his hair. ''Just...stop. Tell me the truth.''

Over Dean's shoulder, Sam looks heartbroken, one hand reaching out towards his brother like he so badly wants to touch him. Ruby licks her lips as Dean turns away from her. ''Dean,'' she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and shrugs her bag over her shoulder. ''I am telling you the truth. You just don't want to believe it.'' She smiles sadly and pats his arm. ''He loves you,'' she whispers. ''Very much. He stayed behind for you. He told me he's not going anywhere until you do. You're a very lucky big brother.''

Dean whirls back around to glare down at her, eyes shining with anger and something akin to grief. ''Ruby,'' he growls out. ''I think you should leave now.''

She frowns. ''You're right,'' she nods. ''I should. I have children to save. And you probably have some paperwork to do. Bye, Dean. ...Bye, Sam. I'm sure I'll be seeing you boys around.''


She's not sure what the fates are trying to tell her with Dean and Sam Winchester but she is quite certain that they are going to change her life.

That's just one of those things she knows.


end part one


AN: And that is the kind of show Jensen and Katie should do together when SPN ends. That's just one of those things I know.