Gen Teensybang Fic MasterpostTitle: Silent Night
Pairings: Ruby & Bela, Ruby/Sam, Ruby/Lilith, Bela/Dean, Ruby & Dean
Word count: 9,300
Contents: Warnings for references to past mpreg (this fic takes place in S4, but in S3 Dean was pregnant with Bela’s baby) and references to Bela’s abusive childhood.
Summary: Babysitting Dean and Bela’s brat after they went to Hell was so never in Ruby’s plan, but with them out of the pit now, efforts to free Lucifer are finally back on track, if a few months behind schedule. There are still occasional blips, though, like the boys deciding to batten down the hatches on little Mary Winchester’s half-birthday. Fortunately, while Sam and Dean wallow in their paranoia that history’s going to repeat itself, Ruby and Bela have each other, not to mention lots of wine.
A/N: This fic takes place in an AU in which Dean became pregnant with Bela’s baby in S3. They traded the Colt for an extension on Dean’s contract so that he could live until the baby was born in August; he was rescued by the angels at the end of October, so the S4 arc timeline is pushed back by a month. “Silent Night” is a companion piece to “Waiting Game,” which takes place while Dean and Bela are still in Hell and Mary is in Sam and Ruby’s care; however, it’s not necessary to read “Waiting Game” first.
A/N 2: This fic is split into two posts only because it's too long to fit into one; there's no break between the "chapters." Second post is here.
Thank you to the mods of genteensybang for running the show and inspiring so much Gen/Ruby creativity.
Thank you to smells_corrupt, my wonderful beta partner-in-crime! ♥
And thank you to my artist partner-in-crime sagetan, who drew the most beautiful Ruby, Bela, and Sam a girl could hope for. Go see for yourself and shower her with adoration.
* * *
When she heard the distant sound of the toilet flushing upstairs, Ruby allowed herself a moment’s hope that she’d hear Sam on the stairs next, come to his senses at last. It wasn’t that she disapproved of madness on principle or anything as close-minded as that, but she preferred the Lewis Carroll or even the Stephen King variety as compared to the Winchesters’ brand of pointless, co-dependent, self-perpetuating psychosis.
Anything that wasn’t so boring.
It was all Dean’s fault, of course.
(“You don’t have to go to New York! Nothing’s going to happen to her!”
She didn’t know what she was more annoyed at him for, making the trip or turning her into a shrill, nagging cliché of a girlfriend in the process.
“You don’t know that!” Sam yelled over his shoulder rather than pause, never breaking stride in his hurtle around the hotel room. Gone was the practiced efficiency she was used to seeing when he packed, replaced by frenzy. The ghost they’d been hunting the past week had needed more time to put down than expected, and now he was panicking about reaching New York in time from the Middle of Nowhere Idaho.
Although really, Ruby suspected he’d be frenzied before this particular trip even if he weren’t late.
“They could come for her, just like they came for me.” He finished stuffing a pair of jeans into his duffel and finally spared her a second’s hard glance. “I have to be there.”)
Ruby twisted all the way around on the couch to look at the stairs, as though if she watched long enough he’d do what she wanted.
Like the proverbial pot, he didn’t.
Scowling, she turned back to the television and increased the volume. It was the one where Joey read Little Women, and that, unlike the empty staircase, was always worth watching.
A few minutes later, Rachel had just finished telling Joey that Beth didn’t die when a voice said, “This is a good one.”
Bela stood so close to the couch Ruby could have touched her if she leaned over. Well, in her blonde body anyway; maybe not in this teensy one. Maybe if she leaned over and stretched…
Either way, Bela stood far too close for comfort. Ruby didn’t remember the last time someone had managed to sneak up on her, but whoever it was, she’d probably killed them.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option in Bela’s case.
Which didn’t mean the instinct wasn’t there. Only when Bela eyed her arm did Ruby realize the remote control was clutched in her raised fist like she might use it as a possibly ineffective and definitely inefficient blunt instrument.
She lowered her arm, refusing to look sheepish. Hiding her surprise was a lost cause, but she wouldn’t give Bela the satisfaction of looking embarrassed, too. Although Bela didn’t look smug, like she’d been trying to get the better of Ruby.
Then again, she didn’t look contrite either.
Looking unruffled in every possible way, in point of fact, Bela stepped around the right side of the couch, as silently as she’d come down the stairs, and sat. Ruby was forced to scoot to her left, unless she wanted to sit elbow-to-elbow.
She glanced at Bela’s feet, clad in simple, navy blue socks, and comforted herself with the thought that if the thief had been wearing her usual heels, there was no way Ruby wouldn’t have heard her coming down the stairs.
She waited for the rest of Bela’s opening, but the other woman’s eyes were fixed on Friends. Ruby might not even have been in the room, let alone three feet away on the same piece of furniture.
Ruby tried not to scowl. She supposed Bela was under no obligation to explain her presence anywhere in her own apartment, and it wasn’t that she was particularly offended by bitchy, ice queen attitudes but…
Well, that was usually her job.
She forced her attention back on the television as well. Two could play this game, whatever it was.
Still, during the commercials, which were even more mind numbing and useless that usual at two in the morning, she couldn’t keep from sneaking peeks at Bela out of the corner of her eye. Ruby hadn’t seen much of her in the past six weeks she’d been out of Hell; Bela hardly surfaced even on Skype, and Ruby could probably count the number of words they’d spoken in private on two hands.
(“There’s Uncle Sammy! Say hi to Uncle Sammy!”
Ruby hadn’t thought Dean’s cooing could get any more annoying, but the static and tinny feedback from Skype proved her wrong. Sam only had eyes for his laptop, so she didn’t even bother trying to hide her eye roll.
“Hey, Mary. How’s my sweet girl?”
Unlike his brother, the softly spoken endearments always sounded a little uncertain on Sam’s lips. That also made them sound more sincere, though, so Ruby had a harder time disapproving.
At least until he added, “Wanna say hi to Aunt Ruby?”
She made a face at him, but he was already tipping backward in his chair and reaching for her where she lay on the bed playing solitaire.
“She wants to see you,” he said earnestly.
She’s five-months-old; she wants to eat, shit, and sleep, Ruby wanted to say, but she let him take her hand and pull her gently, inexorably, from the bed.
She waved at the screen. “Hi, Mary.” It came out chirpier than she intended. Stupid babies and their weird psychic ability to make everyone around them sound like idiots.
She would have gladly have let it go at that, but Sam was already standing up and holding out the chair for her. Reluctantly, she sat.
“Hey, Dean,” she said half-heartedly.
He nodded at her. “How’s it going?”
“Not bad.” Because both brothers were watching, she leaned closer to the camera and said, “Hi, cutie!”
Unexpectedly, Mary’s mouth opened in a gummy, toothless smile. She made a sound like blowing a raspberry.
Ruby felt herself grin. “You miss me?”
“Yeah, she-” began Dean, but the apartment buzzer interrupted him. “That’s the pizza- hang on.” He lifted Mary from his lap into a little play-chair that would keep her immobile and adjusted the computer screen for her. “Be right back.”
He strode out of view just as Sam’s cell rang.
“I think that’s the sheriff’s station,” he said, looking at caller ID. “Maybe they’ve got something. Be right back…this is Agent Sculder.”
Before Ruby could protest, he was walking away.
Ruby stared at Mary, who had started sucking on her fist. Great. Alone with the baby again. Amazing how that happened even when she was two thousand miles away.
Mary’s green eyes were fixed on her almost too intently for comfort. On impulse, Ruby covered her own. After a few seconds she whipped her hand away. “Ahh!”
Mary’s chubby face crinkled in another ugly grin. Ruby wasn’t surprised; she had played peek-a-boo with Mary too many times to count while Dean was in Hell.
She did it again and then stuck out her tongue and crossed her eyes. Mary screeched the baby equivalent of a laugh.
She really was slightly less heinous when she was just pixels on a screen.
Ruby was in the middle of making another funny face when she heard the sound of heels, followed by, “Dean? Where’s Mary- oh.”
At the sight of Bela, Ruby froze mid-gargoyle face. She smoothed her features as quickly as possible.
“Hi. She spoke automatically; it was the first time she’d seen the thief since leaving New York, and the first time they’d been alone, so to speak.
“Hi,” echoed Bela.
They stared at each other. Mary looked up, open-mouthed, at her mother.
Ruby was actually grateful to see Dean when he returned, carrying plates and the pizza. Not that she’d ever admit it.)
When they got the call in early January that Bela was saved, during a hunt in Jersey, Sam had insisted on hightailing it back to New York, both to see her and in case Dean needed help with Mary. They hadn’t stayed long, though. Dean had been out-mother-henning even himself, and after seventy years of torture, give or take, Bela wasn’t much for company.
Not that Ruby would have been particularly solicitous if she had been. It had been hard to feel anything but irritation for the thief, what with Lilith raging at her over the phone about her escape. Like it was Ruby’s fault that Anna hadn’t told anyone she was going to sneak into Hell to try to rescue Dean’s Lady Love, lest it give him false hope.
Besides, even if Ruby hadn’t been smarting from Anna’s out-maneuvering them (of course it was a woman who realized that the best way to break into Hell was not with a siege but as a shadow slipping between the cracks; if she didn’t hate Anna on principle, Ruby would have to admire her), she still wouldn’t have sympathized much with the thief.
Only seventy years on the rack? She’d gotten off easy.
Ruby had little interest in Bela, but what did Bela want with her?
Was she interrupting Ruby’s Friends marathon to show that she could? Was her sitting here, on the pull-out couch that would theoretically serve as Ruby’s bed, if she were actually going to sleep tonight, a way of marking her territory?
Sam would have scoffed at that and pointed out that if Bela wanted to mark her territory, she would have gotten rid of all the furniture he and Ruby had bought while the apartment was theirs. Aside from the unavoidable baby paraphernalia, she could have made it look as though no time had passed since her death; instead, most of the old furnishings were still stacked and shoved into the corners where Ruby and Sam had left them.
To which Ruby would have pointed out that the new fold-out couch needed to stay, since they were short a bed, what with Dean technically sleeping on the one in Mary’s nursery. Emphasis on ‘technically.’
Bela hadn’t seemed to like Ruby much before she died, and Ruby seriously doubted Hell had improved her outlook on demons, so she couldn’t be here for companionship. Although she hadn’t made Ruby check into a hotel, so Bela probably didn’t hate her too much on principle. That, or she was planning to stab Ruby in her sleep.
Maybe this was just a convoluted ploy to make Ruby uncomfortable and confused, in which case…it was working?
As Rachel offered to put the book in the freezer, the thief’s lips curved in a soft, innocent way Ruby couldn’t remember seeing even before she went to Hell.
Or maybe Bela just liked Friends. Maybe she was as sick of the boys’ melodrama as Ruby. Lucifer knew she had to be getting the worst of it. Frankly, Ruby was surprised Dean had let her leave the bedroom at all.
Earlier in the evening, when Dean was spilling his Oedipal complex all over Sam while Bela was in the other room with Mary, Ruby had pointed out that since Dean was the one who'd given birth, he was actually the most likely candidate for charbroiling on the ceiling, not Bela.
It hadn't gone over well with either brother.
Ruby wondered if the end of the episode would prompt conversation, but Bela didn't make another sound until they were a few minutes into the next one. Even then it was just a muted sound of disgust that Ruby might have thought she imagined, if not for the thief's matching disdainful expression.
After a moment of indecision, Ruby took the opening. “What?”
Somewhat to her surprise, Bela answered. “I hate the Mark storyline. I hate when Ross and Rachel break up.” She sounded so thoroughly disgruntled, like it was a personal offense, that Ruby almost snickered. She repressed the urge, though, hesitant to derail what could be their first real conversation since Bela's rescue. Assuming they moved on to less inane topics, it would be useful to get a measure of the thief, even if Ruby doubted the traumatized woman would play much of a role in upcoming events.
And besides, she was curious.
“You like Ross and Rachel?”
“Yes.” Bela looked delightfully defensive. “You don't?”
Ruby suppressed a snort. “No.”
“Uh, because they're awful for each other? They have nothing in common, and they fight all the time. They'd never be together in real life.”
“Opposites attract,” said Bela. “Sometimes. And fighting a lot doesn't mean they don't care for each other, too.” Her frown changed to a small smirk. “It just means more opportunities for angry sex. I can think of worse downsides.”
“Yeah but-” Ruby remembered the first time she'd seen Lilith after Anna's stunt. “Okay, point.”
The smirk grew.
“Ross is still a prick most of the time,” said Ruby quickly. She was a little annoyed at herself for sounding like a child who needed the last word in an argument, and more than a little annoyed at Bela for somehow eliciting it, but she couldn't help herself. “He's jealous and…self-righteous.”
Bela just looked amused. “We all have our flaws. He's also…” Her smile faded, voice turning pensive. “Sweet. You know he’d do anything for her. The gestures he makes…he can be very sweet.”
Ruby raised an eyebrow. Before she could say anything, though, scathing or otherwise, Bela gave her head a little shake and said lightly, “The first episode I ever saw was “The One with the Prom Video,” so when it came to Ross and Rachel, I was always a lost cause, I'm afraid.”
“Oh.” Ruby bit her lip. “Well...yeah, he is sweet in that episode,” she conceded grudgingly.
If she felt like she'd won something, Bela didn't show it, and it was that that made Ruby venture, “I wouldn’t have figured you for a romantic.”
“I had just turned twelve,” said Bela. “Disillusionment with the world was still a few months off.”
Ruby stared. Had she misheard? Was Bela really referencing what Ruby thought she was referencing? Bela’s grimace gave away nothing- or maybe everything.
She searched for a change in subject. “What about Monica and Chandler? Do you like them, too?”
Bela's nose wrinkled, and just like that, the tension passed. “Not really. She's a bit of a harpy when they're together, yeah?” She took one look at Ruby's face and started sniggering. Ruby couldn't recall ever hearing her do that before.
“Oh dear, we're not going to be friends, are we?”
Ruby felt her eyebrows shoot up again. She waited for a cutting remark that Bela hadn't planned on making friends with demons anyway, but instead the thief said, “What do you like about them?”
“I…” Was she really being asked to analyze her preferences on a silly human TV show? Lil would laugh her ass off if Ruby ever told her.
Bela was watching her. Ruby tried to think. “I guess…I like that it was unexpected. They were just two friends who happened to fall in love. It wasn’t epic or…inevitable. She even said that if he was the last person on Earth she still wouldn’t be with him.”
“Although on television, saying something won’t happen does make it inevitable,” Bela pointed out, but there was no malice in her smile.
Ruby rolled her eyes. “You know what I mean.” She paused. “And he’s my favorite of the guys. He’s smart without being a know-it-all like Ross is, and he’s funny. Not dumb funny like Joey, like, he actually has a sense of humor. I like that he makes her laugh.”
“I thought he was funnier before they got together,” said Bela. “I liked her better before, too. She bossed him around so much.”
Ruby felt her hackles rise, though she couldn’t have said why.
Bela continued, “Her control freak bit was endearing in the early seasons, but in the later years I thought she became more…more of a caricature?” She gestured. “Harpy.”
“She's not a harpy!”
Her voice was shrill in defense of fictional sitcom characters. Lil would not laugh her ass off, because Lil was never hearing about this.
“Little bit.” Bela’s green eyes twinkled. “But that's all right. Flaws, remember?” She shrugged, grin fading to a look of contemplation. “I think…I don’t care for them as much because I don’t like power imbalances in relationships. And she’s always in control.”
Ruby opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Seconds ticked by, threatening to turn into an awkward silence, until she finally managed, as jocularly as she could, “Are you saying controlling men isn’t an attractive quality in a woman?”
Another startled laugh escaped Bela. “Point.
Bela was smiling, but Ruby didn’t feel like she’d won anything. There was a weird, heavy feeling in the pit of her meat-suit’s stomach. She looked away, pretending to be interested in what was on-screen, even though she couldn’t have said what was happening.
“So how does a demon come to like Friends?”
Ruby couldn’t tell if Bela had emphasized “demon” or if she was being paranoid. Her face showed no sign of mocking or aggression, though. She just actually seemed to want to carry on the conversation.
Ruby shrugged. “Staying in a lot of motels with not much in the way of entertainment. A show with hundreds of episodes in syndication on so many channels you can find it pretty much any time of day. You do the math.”
(“I have to make a few calls. Make sure everything’s running smoothly. Then we’ll celebrate?”
Ruby nodded, and Lilith flashed a grin. With her dimples and pearls and demure, pink dress, her tweenage host looked ready for a photo op at one of her recently deceased father’s political rallies. Well, if not for the blood spatters.
Lilith sashayed across the kitchen, her patent pumps making squelching sounds in the senator’s blood, and grabbed a silver bowl and one of the cooking knives Mrs. Senator had knocked over in her mad grab for a weapon. The woman herself still cowered in the corner she’d crawled to after the Hellhound finished with her husband. Her eyes were open but unseeing. Whimpering sounds escaped her intermittently. Lilith moved toward her, idly twirling the knife.
“Uh- Lil? Aren’t you going to switch?”
Lilith stopped and pouted at Ruby. “She’s old enough to have all the bits and pieces.” She traced one of her host’s nipples, eyebrow quirked.
“Not old enough to be my type. Switch, Lil.”
Lilith rolled her eyes. “Have I told you recently you’re high-maintenance?” But she tilted her head back and dropped her jaw. Smoke puffed from the tween’s mouth in a smooth, neat plume, reminding Ruby of the genie emerging from her bottle in that TV show from a few decades ago. Mrs. Senator’s whimpers increased momentarily as the smoke spiraled toward her and then cut off abruptly as Lilith flowed into her. The eyes snapped briefly shut, and when they opened again, they were white. Lilith stretched, nose wrinkling as her middle-aged joints creaked, and retrieved her knife and bowl.
The daughter’s eyes hadn’t fluttered all the way open when Lilith slit her throat.
“Be right back,” said Lilith once she had her bowl of blood. Ruby waved her off and ambled into the once pristine living room. Most of the furniture was upended from the Hellhound’s attack, but the TV still worked. She flicked through channels until landing on something familiar, a new sitcom that all the humans were raving about, if the rag-mags in the maternity ward reception were anything to go by. She’d seen a few episodes while on shift, waiting to nab babies for Lil, and it had indeed been mildly more entertaining than the usual mediocre human fare.
She righted an armchair and turned up the volume.)
“How does a British thief come to like Friends?” Ruby asked, before Bela could pry further.
Bela took so long to answer that Ruby started wondering whether her own answer had really been so insufficient and whether she should be offended. “My schoolmates introduced me to it.” Bela hesitated. “And my father thought it was rubbish. Forbade me to watch it.”
There was no mistaking that. Ruby wondered if her meat-suit looked as impressed as she felt. “Spite watching,” she said, with only a second’s hesitation; clearly the elephant had been invited. “I like.” And because she was impressed, she added, feeling magnanimous, “May he be spinning in his grave right now.”
Bela arched an eyebrow. “Considering the price I paid, I hope he’s doing a lot more than spinning.”
Ruby choked. A very undignified giggle, unbefitting of a demon, escaped her.
Something that was almost like appreciation flashed across the thief’s face, so fast Ruby wasn’t entirely sure she’d seen it. It occurred to her that if the boys had been here, Sam would have looked sad and awkward, and Dean would have looked constipated with useless rage, but neither of them would have said anything.
Without warning, Bela stood. Something like disappointment rose in Ruby. It peaked when Bela walked toward the wine cabinet instead of the stairs, but she tried to look bored instead of hopeful.
When Bela rose, she held a bottle and a thickly stuffed envelope. She set the latter on the coffee table before going to the kitchen. Ruby’s fingers itched to open it as she listened to the sound of the cork popping.
Bela returned with the open bottle and two glasses dangling from one hand and lifted the remote from the end table beside Ruby with the other. If Ruby hadn’t been watching her, she wouldn’t even have noticed; apparently Hell hadn’t hurt the thief’s deftness.
Ignoring Ruby’s pointed look, she lowered the volume to almost zero before filling the first glass. When she held it out, Ruby took it.
“Cheers,” said Bela, with an ironic, not quite smile, after pouring her own. She didn’t try to clink glasses, thankfully, but proceeded to down a third of hers in one swallow. Gulp might be a better word. She’d probably been wishing for a drink for the past- oh, since waking up this morning.
Ruby took a much smaller sip and again felt unexpectedly impressed. It probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise that Bela had good wine, given her taste for all the finer things in life- men excluded- and the means with which to procure them. But Ruby certainly hadn’t expected Bela to share said finer things with Ruby.
Bela put down her glass and finally picked up the envelope. “This is for you.” She held it out.
Ruby eyed her, but Bela’s poker face didn’t slip. Curiosity won out, and she took the envelope and pulled out the unsealed flap.
A multitude of Benjamin Franklins stared back at her.
“Twenty thousand dollars,” said Bela crisply. “For taking care of my daughter while we were indisposed.”
Ruby was too shocked to even mock her semantics. “Are you serious?”
“Quite. I counted it myself. You helped Sam care for Mary while Dean was in Hell. That was about nine weeks- Earth weeks- correct?” She didn’t wait for a response. “Nine weeks at ten dollars an hour, 24 hrs a day is approximately fifteen thousand dollars. Sam said you saved Mary from Lilith’s minions, so I added a bonus for that.”
“When I…oh, right.” Ruby remembered when a horde of Lilith’s mouth-breathers had overwhelmed Sam in late summer and kidnapped his infant niece, barely two weeks after her birth. Ruby had returned from a scouting trip with not a second to spare and rescued the precious babe. After that, Sam had trusted her implicitly, exactly as she and Lil had intended.
“I know ten dollars is a rather paltry figure for round the clock child care,” said Bela, seeming to mistake Ruby’s silence for dissatisfaction. “But I decided it evened out since you also had room and board, so to speak. I believe this settles our account.”
It took Ruby a minute to compose herself enough to speak; she was afraid of what other undignified sounds might emerge when she opened her mouth. “You calculated a wage to pay me for something I’ve already done.”
“You’re giving me twenty thousand dollars as a- hang on.” Ruby mentally flicked through the very few things Bela had said to her the past six weeks. “Instead of a thank you.”
Bela paused. “Yes.”
Ruby finally stopped restraining her grin. “That’s messed up!”
Surprisingly, Bela laughed. “You sound like Dean.”
Ruby choked again, this time without the mirth. “Take that back!”
Ruby made a face at her. “And here I was going to say that made you my kind of human.”
“Alas,” said Bela. “How will I go on?”
Ruby smirked. “It is messed up, though.”
Bela shrugged, looking supremely unfazed. “I don’t like being in anyone’s debt.”
“Especially a demon’s?” said Ruby, without thinking.
Bela’s smile was a shard of glass. “Especially a demon’s.”
They regarded each other for a moment. The envelope felt pleasantly thick in Ruby’s hand.
“Did you give Sam a wad of cash too, then?” she asked, although the answer didn’t really matter. Sam wouldn’t have accepted if Bela tried.
“No. He was just doing his familial duty. That sort of thing matters if you’re a Winchester, doesn’t it.” A bitter tone underlay the words, but Ruby thought the look in Bela’s eyes was more wistful than anything else. After a minute she added, carelessly, “I bought him the Dodge.”
Ruby blinked. “Oh. Right. Thanks for that. It’s way better than that scrap heap Dean calls a car.”
Bela smirked. It made Ruby inordinately pleased. She unfolded herself from the couch and stepped around the coffee table to her duffel bag, trying to sound casual as she said, “Well, cool. Maybe we’ll stay in the Hilton one of these nights instead of a flea trap.”