The Wasteland Part II: The end is where we start from
Title: The Wasteland Part II: The end is where we start from
Author: The Mad Tea Girl
Characters/Pairings: Ruby, Chuck, Crowley, mentions of Sam/Ruby
Summary: After Sam leaves Ruby to rejoin Dean, she goes searching for him in an attempt to stop Lucifer. Spoilers for all aired episodes.
Author's Notes: Once again, the Ruby in this work is Katie!Ruby, Should be read after The Wasteland Part I: I was neither living nor dead, and I knew nothing And another GINORMOUS thanks to suchaprince for being my AMAZING beta.
The end is where we start from
“What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from”
- “Four Quartets 4: Little Gidding” by T.S. Eliot
If there was one thing Ruby had learned during her centuries on earth, it was that life’s a bitch, and then you die. And then things still don’t get any better. There was Hell, and even if you made it out of Hell, there was humanity destroying the Earth, and destroying itself. And that stopped being funny after a few centuries.
Even though he had left her, even though he obviously didn’t want to be followed, Ruby knew she had to find Sam Winchester. Find him and stop him from saying yes to Lucifer.
She had started to wonder if maybe at the heart of things she was really just a glutton for punishment.
She had been attempting to trail the Winchesters for over a month, and saying that it wasn’t going well would be a painful understatement. She had tracked his cell phone signal until Nebraska where it went dead. After finding the plastic device in a dumpster behind a fast food restaurant she fell back on one of the things she was truly good at: finding and torturing lesser demons until they told her what she wanted to know.
The trouble with how well Dean Winchester’s “guardian angel” had hidden the brothers, was that they were virtually untraceable. She spent days in the small town of Alliance before one demon hissed for her to “find the Prophet”.
She had stopped, her hand knotted in his hair.
“What prophet? What are you talking about?”
“The Prophet, Chuck Shurley, he’s the only one who can tell where the Winchesters are … he has visions about them… find Chuck Shurley, and you’ll find the Winchesters.”
In stark contrast to her search for the Winchesters, finding Chuck Shurley had been almost ludicrously easy. She spent less than half an hour in an internet café before she knew where and how to find this prophet. Searching his name had redirected her to the name Carver Edlund, the apparent pen-name of Chuck Shurley. Carver Edlund’s books had a somewhat avid, following, and one web site announced that he would be doing a series of book signings to promote his newest novel.
Which was how Ruby ended up driving down a quiet street in Springboro, Ohio. As she stepped out of her car she found herself momentarily taken completely, and utterly aback. First, by the incredibly large number of black, vintage impalas parked within the vicinity of the bookstore. And second, by the people milling outside the store, as well as those she could see through the shop’s window, most of whom were dressed in some imitation of the Winchesters’ attire.
Ruby had lived a very, very long time and she had seen many very, very strange things during that time. Usually they more or less rolled off of her, but she found herself almost dumbstruck this time. She took a deep breath before she pushed open the shop’s door, she squeezed past the people lined up inside the store to a large display for Carver Edlund’s newest novel. She snatched up a copy and took her place at the end of the line with more than just mild annoyance.
Ruby had skimmed three or four of the books in the Supernatural series by the time she reached the front of the line. The accuracy of them unnerved her. She had met Prophets before, but they didn’t usually choose fantasy/horror novels as their medium of choice.
The Prophet himself was nowhere close to what she had been expecting. He was shorter, and more nervous. She did her best at giving him what she hoped was a winning smile as she handed her copy of the novel over to him.
“Your characters are so real it’s… amazing.” She said, while trying to maintain her cheery look.
“Well... it’s um… really great to meet fans…” Chuck babbled nervously as he fumbled with the book jacket, trying to open the novel to the title page. Ruby leaned forward slightly and held the book open herself.
“I don’t know if I would just say I was a fan, your books are basically my life.” She paused for emphasis. “Really.”
“Yeah, that’s you know, great … who, who do I make it out to.” Subtly was obviously not going to be an option.
“Ruby.” She said flatly, when he didn’t so much as blink and just began signing her book she cleared her throat. “As in the Ruby?” she said, but slightly lower and Chuck finally glanced up with a slightly quirked eyebrow. She sighed heavily, and decided that the completely black eyes trick was in order.
“HOLY SHI-” He practically shrieked as he surged up out of his chair, Ruby caught his wrist.
“Stop being such a spazz. Listen, I need you to help me. And this day has already been frustrating enough for me. Some guys in the line starting talking to me about LARPing, I don’t even WANT to know what that is, not to mention all the ridiculous driving I’ve been doing, and I’m really hungry and extremely irritable. I honestly just want to talk to you without resorting to violence, but I’m not particularly opposed to it either.” She hissed at him and he sat back down. Hard.
“Umm, I don’t know if you know this, but being a prophet and all, I kind of have an archangel making sure no one tries to, you know… kill me.” He squeaked. Ruby rolled her eyes.
“Oh don’t be an idiot, you’re not the first prophet I’ve met, and I have no intention of getting the angels involved in this. I know that I can’t touch you, but I assume that woman who was talking incessantly at me for half an hour about whether I was a “Sam girl” or a “Dean girl” is not off limits as far as the holy rollers are concerned.”
“Look, please leave Becky out of this, I’ll give you what you want.” She smiled and patted him on the cheek.
“There’s a good boy, meet me at the diner across the street in half an hour. I would prefer that you come alone, but I understand if you have to bring your girlfriend with you. Got it?”
He nodded vigorously and Ruby all but waltzed out of the store with her book tucked under her arm.
He was prompt, she gave him points for that. Chuck and Becky slid into the seats across from her almost exactly half an hour after Ruby had spoken to him.
“So you’re really Ruby, I mean the real one?” Becky said in a kind of awe, leaning slightly across the table.
“See, I thought that the other girl who told Sam she was you, wasn’t, you know, you. She was just such a different character, or you know, person. Oh, no wonder you said you were a Sam girl, lots of people don’t see it, but I always sensed that you were in love with him. Not that I blame you, Sam is amazing, but it never would have worked out between us.”
Ruby could feel that her mouth had slowly dropped open, it was a rare occasion that found her actually speechless. However, this was such an occasion. She shifted her glance to Chuck and raised an eyebrow at him. He cleared his throat.
“Umm, Becky, I think that Ruby actually had something important to talk to me about, and not, you know, Sam.”
“Actually, it is about Sam.” Ruby said quietly as a waitress sidled up to the table with a Coke and a ludicrously large basket of fries. “My friend here is paying for it.” Ruby told her without looking up, as the waitress placed the check on the table. That gave Chuck pause, but Ruby’s stare frightened him enough that he nodded at the waitress.
“Okay, well, what is it that you want to know?” Chuck asked, nervously rubbing at the back of his neck.
“I know about the whole thing Castiel did to hide them from Zachariah and the like, the trouble is that he managed to pretty well hide them from everyone. I was able to trace the signal from Sam’s cell phone for awhile, sort of like a homing beacon. But that only got me as far as Nebraska before he ditched that phone. So now no one knows where to find them, except for you Chuck. I happen to know that all your prophetic visions are about Sam and Dean, which means that you can locate them.” She punctuated the end of her sentence by popping a fry into her mouth.
Chuck took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair.
“Just so you know, I’m trying very hard not to offend you, since I think you could probably rip my throat out with your bare hands before an arch angel could get here.” He said, receiving a small nod from Ruby. “But from what I saw, sort of, didn’t he leave you? This isn’t some sort of revenge thing is it?”
Ruby glanced up at him from the pile of ketchup she had been dispensing onto her plate.
“No, this isn’t about revenge.” She said, looking down and swirling a fry through the thick condiment. “This is about stopping Lucifer from turning Sam into his meat puppet.”
“I knew it! You are in love with him!” Becky all but shouted, Ruby rubbed her temples.
“I don’t suppose there’s any way you could muzzle her?” Chuck laughed nervously in response to her question. “Anyway, it has been my experience that Dean isn’t exactly fabulous at keeping his brother out of trouble, and it’s really in everyone’s best interest that Sam doesn’t become Lucifer’s vessel. The last thing we all need is the apocalypse, am I right?”
“But why would you want to help? I mean, you’re a demon; shouldn’t you want the apocalypse to happen? Shouldn’t you pretty much be on Lucifer’s team?” Chuck asked her and Ruby leaned across the table.
“Tell me, Chuck, have you ever been to Hell?”
“Well I have. So any personal feelings about Sam aside, all that fire and brimstone up here isn’t exactly my idea of fun. Call me sentimental, but I kind of like the earth the way it is, and if Lucifer is going to destroy humanity, then who is going to make my French fries? And let’s think about this for a minute here. Lucifer isn’t just one of the most powerful entities in existence, he’s clever, and he literally has an army at his beck and call. You guys have what? Two pretty boys with salt and shot guns? You need all the help you can get.”
“Okay, but I can’t just have visions on the spot, the last one I had was awhile ago, so I can tell you a bit about what happened after Nebraska, but I don’t even know where they are now.”
“It’s a start.” She conceded around another fry.
Chuck had told her all about the antichrist in Nebraska, the time stealing witches, and the Trickster. His last vision had ended with the brothers in a small town called Carthage and Lucifer releasing Death on the world. It had not been as helpful as she had hoped for, but he had her cell phone number and the threat of potential violence if he didn’t call her as soon as he had a new vision about the Winchesters.
Ruby tried to feel at least a small bit optimistic as she walked to her car, with a stomach full of Coke and fries, and a bag full of those strange books Chuck wrote slapping against her calf as she walked.
She almost didn’t notice the man leaning against her car until she had nearly walked straight into him. He wasn’t particularly tall, and he was dressed in an expensive looking suit and grinning from ear to ear.
“Why, Ruby Tuesday, as I live and breathe.” She stopped and regarded the man with a look a mild surprise.
“Crowley? What are you doing here?” His grin broadened almost impossibly.
“A little birdy told me that you were around these parts, and I knew that I would be seriously remiss if I didn’t come see my best girl.” Ruby sighed and dropped her bags as she let Crowley envelop her in a hug. He smelled like cigar smoke and some sort of vanilla liquor, and she was ridiculously happy to see him.
Some centuries back Ruby had realized that Crowley was the only friend she’d ever really had. He was her safe place to run to, always ready with a bottle of vodka and a couch for her to sleep on. It was nice to have something to depend on.
The news hummed dimly in the background and she only caught small snatches of it. An entire town wiped out, the Center for Disease Control concerned about a new unclassifiable outbreak, floods. She occasionally looked up from her book at it, but it was really just a stereotypical apocalypse and she didn’t care at the moment. Crowley sauntered into the room with a bottle of Grey Goose in one hand and two glasses in the other.
“Oh the news, that’s cheery. Put it on History Channel would you, Pet? They’ve got a special about the debauchery of the Roman empire.” He said as he sank onto the couch next to her. “And what the bloody Hell is that you’re reading?” Crowley asked, snatching her book as she changed the channel.
“Some hack-writer-turned-prophet making books about the Winchesters. You should read the parts I’m in, they’re full of adjectives that make want to take a hot shower and scrub with steel wool.” She said off handedly. Crowley flipped through the volume before tossing it onto the coffee table.
“My Ruby, still concerning herself what the youngest Winchester, I see? I saw your Sam a few months back. You always did like them tall and pretty. Remember that soldier you had back in World War II? He was a looker, too bad about that whole getting his head blown off thing.” She groaned and leaned back.
“Lord you like to bring up the past…hey, wait, what do you mean you saw Sam?” She asked, sitting quickly upright and turning to face him. Crowley shrugged.
“Yeah, him and his brother came by looking for the Colt. They had plans to go put it against the forehead of our beloved boss, and far be it for me to not point them in the right direction. Of course, since then I seem to be moving to a new place every week to stay under the radar. I’m pretty sure our fearless leader wouldn’t look too kindly on me aiding the boys in their little quest.”
Ruby stared at him in silence for a moment.
“You gave them the Colt.” She asked finally.
“To kill Lucifer with.”
“You realize you basically sent them up against a tornado with a pea shooter right?”
“It could work!” He said defensively and took a large gulp from his glass, Ruby sighed heavily.
“We both know that it wouldn’t. Best case scenario: they would just make Lucifer sort of irritable, and since when do you want anything do with the whole Apocalypse business?”
“Apocalypse is bad business for us Rubes, and you know it. As much as they get a mite irritating at points we need the human race around, and besides, you know once Lucifer’s done polishing off that lot it’s on to us. And if the business is keeping me from being dead then, yeah, I want something to do with it.”
There was a silence that settled over the room that was only broken by Ruby knocking back the entire contents of her glass and then moving onto a large gulp from the bottle of Grey Goose. Crowley absently stroked her hair before disengaging the bottle from her hands and refilling his own glass.
“You were more fun in the sixties love, remember the London orgies back then? God I miss those days. Now it’s all fire and brimstone and my girl getting bent out of shape about some tall human with reasonably attractive hair and good shoulders.”
“He has really nice hair.” She mumbled and then frowned “I feel like my ass is buzzing”
“Or it could be your cell phone, Poodle. You didn’t used to get drunk this quickly either.”
“It’s this body, too low a percentage of body fat.” Ruby told him, lifting her hips slightly to fish her phone out of her back pocket. “It’s from that prophet I told you about.” Crowley quirked an eyebrow at her. “I need to be in Detroit in two days.”
“Detroit? Why the bloody Hell are you going to Detroit?” He asked as Ruby got to her feet slowly. She shook her head, trying to clear the vodka induced fog.
“I don’t know, it has something to do with Sam.” Crowley stood up, putting a hand on her shoulder to steady her.
“You’re tipsy sweetheart, you can’t just go running out there like this. How do you expect to be able to teleport yourself in this condition, you’re going to end up in Nairobi or something.”
“Not teleporting, driving.” She said and then waved dismissively at his skeptical look. “For whatever reason, when I crawled out of the pit this time a lot of the things that I used to be able to do aren’t working. Don’t know why, but it’s meant a lot of relying on good old fashioned witchcraft and driving.”
“It doesn’t seem like much to go on.” He told her as he tried to navigate her back towards the couch. Ruby shook his hands off of her and took a deep breath.
“It’s enough. I have to go, I just. I have to.”
“I know, love.” Crowley said, and kissed her lightly on the forehead.
And then she was standing in the nearly empty parking lot across from the bookstore again, in front of her car. She squared her shoulders as she settled into the driver’s seat before keying the ignition and heading north towards Michigan.