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Title: A Girl's Gotta Do
Pairing: Jo/Ruby
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Case-fic with a helping of femme-slash UST
Author's Notes: Written for apieceofcake's wonderful art in the spn_reversebang. Thanks to luzula and Maria for the beta.
Art Post: Check out apieceofcake's Graphics Post and leave her some feedback! She did an amazing job on the chapter headers, working from some basic summaries.
Length: 7,000 words
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW.
Spoilers/Warnings: General spoilers for season 3. Warnings for graphic violence, mentions of suicide and violence against children, and canonical off-screen character death.
Summary: Jo was aware that a sudden desire to avoid moral ambiguity might be the stupidest reason ever to call a demon, but she didn’t let that stop her.

The bathroom door shuddered as the snarling werewolf slammed into it. One more hit and the lock would buckle. Jo stopped her frantic search through the cupboard under the sink for something, anything to use as a weapon. She braced her back against the door and pushed back, trying for a few more seconds of life so she could think her way out of this.

The werewolf had grabbed her shotgun, loaded with silver sabot rounds, and tossed it, fuck, somewhere. Jo was out of ammo for her Glock. She heard a blood-curdling howl and a series of crashes. Apparently the monster was taking its frustrations out on its own furniture. Jo still had her dad’s knife, but it was blessed iron, not silver. Maybe if she opened an artery, it would bleed out before it had time to heal?

It occurred to Jo that it was quiet out there, and had been for at least a minute. No snarling. No howling. No more attempts to break down the door. Had the werewolf … given up?

There was a polite knock on the door. Jo froze, knife in hand, listening with adrenaline-sharpened senses.

A soft sigh from outside. “Knock knock,” said a woman‘s voice.

“Uh – who’s there?” Jo responded automatically. The werewolf she’d been hunting was a grizzled man in his fifties, when he wasn’t all fangs and claws.

“Orange,” replied the voice.

Feeling like she was stuck in some weird foreign film, Jo asked the obvious question. “Orange who?”

“Orange you gonna come out?” the voice replied triumphantly.

With a mental shrug, Jo unlocked the bathroom door and stepped out into a room that looked it been decorated in early post-apocalypse. The furniture was firewood, the man’s library of books had been shredded, and there were a couple of human-sized dents in the walls. All of that was just window-dressing.

Center stage, there was a model-pretty woman with long blonde hair, a brown leather jacket, and one of those fancy Arab scarves. She stood with one expensive black boot resting on the werewolf’s corpse, as if she were posing for a safari photo shoot.

The were’s throat had been cut, Jo noted, probably with the knife holstered on the hunter’s right hip. She wasn’t visibly carrying any other weapons. There was a bit of blood spray on the woman’s face. She absently licked her lips and smiled.

The sight triggered a memory. Mom had called last week, warned her about a demon that was playing at being a hunter. “Christo,” Jo said.

The thing flinched, eyes black, and Jo found herself tossed against the wall and held there by an invisible force. Fear rushed through her as Jo flashed back to the last time she’d been captured by a demon; Sam’s gloating voice and huge, brutal hands.

But Jo was a hunter. She’d started studying exorcisms after demons had killed Ash and burned the only home she ever knew. Every time she woke shaking from a nightmare about being held helpless by that thing she recited the Rituale Romanum, over and over, like water flowing over the stone of her fear until it was gone. Now the words came to her, prompted as much by her terror as by her need.

Exorcizamus te,” she whispered. The demon snarled and advanced on her. Jo continued, voice stronger, “Omnis immundus spiritus-

The demon pulled the scarf off her neck, twirled it into a rope, and shoved it in Jo’s mouth. “Hunters!” she said, like it was a dirty word, as she tied the gag around the back of Jo’s neck. “What’s a girl gotta do to earn a little trust around here! I mean,” and now she was pacing around the room, gesturing widely, “I offer to help Dean stay out of the Pit, and he tries to off me. I offer to show Bobby how to re-forge the most powerful weapon on the planet, and he wants to shoot me,” she said, kicking a table leg out of her way. It embedded itself in the wall.

Jo’s heart pounded. The cotton of the scarf was dry against her tongue; Jo barely kept herself from gagging on it. She tightened her fingers around her dad’s knife, waiting for her chance to take the demon out.

“Your mother splashed me with holy water when I tried to give her a lead on a demon possession. That shit burns, you know!” She was strutting closer, moving like a predator, and all Jo could do was watch. “I save your life, and this is the thanks I get?” Now she was close, right up in Jo’s face as she was pinned to the wall. “I don’t mean to get personal, but you hunters all have some serious trust issues. I think-”

The demon broke off, a funny look on her face, and sniffed delicately. “You’re wet. Wait. Is this shit turning you on?” she said incredulously.

“Mmmmph!” Jo protested. It was a, a stress reaction. It didn’t mean anything.

“It is! Oh, this is rich.” The demon was wearing the same smile she’d had while licking blood from her lips. “Ellen’s little girl likes guns and knives and rope and gags and pussss-ay,” she sang to herself.

It wasn’t true! Jo had never even been with a woman. She flirted with the pretty young hunters to give her Momma moving targets. Fucked the older, scarred ones who had something to teach her. There weren’t many women hunters, and Jo didn’t do civilians. Couldn’t ignore their stupid chatter about salaries and sports teams and TV long enough to get off. So it hadn’t really come up. What she thought about in the privacy of her own bed, rubbing off at night, didn’t count.

The demon backed off. “Now that’s just not fair,” she drawled. “Here I am, trying to turn over a new leaf, and you’re all …” Her eyes tracked slowly up and down Jo’s body. Jo’s nipples got hard from being stared at. “Yeah, like that. Well, sweetie, I’d love to play, but this is too important to for me to screw up.”

She stepped close again and reached for Jo. Jo held her breath, but the demon only pulled Jo’s cell phone out of her pocket and quickly programmed it. “Name’s Ruby. Call me when you decide to graduate from the bush leagues, and really make a dent in that pack of demons that slipped out of Hell a few months ago.” She shoved the phone back in Jo’s pocket and walked away.

“Don’t worry, I won’t tie you down and eat you up.” Ruby paused on the way out and glanced back over her shoulder. “Not unless you want me to.” She sauntered past the dead were, long legs and peach-shaped ass on display in her tight jeans, leaving a trail of bloody boot prints out the door.

It was another minute or two before Jo fell to the ground. She immediately sheathed her dad’s knife, untied the gag, and dropped the scarf on the ground. Then Jo grabbed her cell phone and hit her mom’s speed-dial. She hung-up before it connected, not sure what to say.

Jo paused for a moment and picked up the scarf up off the ground. She had to find her shotgun, make sure the house was clean of her prints, and get out of there before the dead were’s wife came home from work.

A week later, Jo was done. She’d traveled to Oxnard, CA to hunt down a rumor of a black dog that was killing people. Turned out it was just a meth dealer with a pair of Rottweilers. She’d had to kill both dogs when the asshole sic’ed them on her, and had come about half an ounce of pressure on the trigger from taking the dealer out, too.

The cops barely responded to gunshots in that neighborhood, so she got away easy. And so did the meth dealer. Midnight found her in a motel across the county line, seriously considering going back, finding the guy, and putting a bullet in his head.

Fuck. She needed a real hunt, with an evil son of a bitch to take down. Jo pulled out her phone and scrolled down her contacts list. Ruby’s name was still there, right between ‘Mom’ and ‘Rufus’. Jo was aware that a sudden desire to avoid moral ambiguity might be the stupidest reason ever to call a demon, but she didn’t let that stop her.

Ruby appeared on her doorstep before dawn the next morning. She told Jo to head south and briefed her in the car. Ruby said she had tracked one of the escaped demons to a suburb of Dallas. Apparently it had already run up a serious body count, and was crafty enough to have slipped away from Ruby twice. She claimed to have a knife that could kill the demon, but she needed a human partner to distract the thing and keep it from getting away as soon as it sensed her presence.

“So that knife will kill any demon?” Jo asked. This was sounding more and more like she was getting jerked around.

“Oh, not a Duke of Hell, or one of the Primuses. But your average demon, yeah. Only three astrapi blades were ever forged. One’s in the Vatican, one’s lost somewhere in Tibet, and the last one’s right here,” she said, proudly patting the sheathed knife at her side.

“So how’d you get your hands on it?” Jo asked skeptically.

“Spoils of war, baby,” Ruby purred.

“Uh-huh.” Jo pulled off the highway and into the parking lot of a church. “Quick resupply,” she informed her demonic passenger.

“Sure,” Ruby said, snapping her gum. The scent of strawberry wafted across the car.

Jo grabbed an empty milk jug from the trunk. Was she crazy, trusting this thing at her back in a hunt? There had to be at least a 50-50 chance that the two demons were the actual partners, and the trap was designed especially for her. She picked the lock, dragged the heavy church door open and stepped inside.

The church was an echoing quiet smelling faintly of incense and Pledge. The rising sun shone through a window, settling a peaceful golden glow over the sacred space. Jo felt herself slowly relax. Maybe if she hung out in here long enough, the demon would get the message and take off.

A minute later Ruby breezed by her and strode up to the altar. She stood staring at the life-size wooden Christ hanging on the cross.

“I thought demons couldn’t walk on holy ground,” Jo blurted.

“Common misconception,” Ruby answered absently, still engaged in a staring contest with an effigy of the Son of God. “We can. It hurts. Like, oh …” she gave a connoisseur’s pause, “like walking on hot coals.”

Jo gaped at her. “Then why are you even in here?”

Ruby shrugged and turned. “Got bored waiting in the car,” she answered. “Look, I spent the last century in Hell. You know, Hell, land of eternal torment? Hanging out in the employee break-room of the Pit hurts worse than this. Why do you think all the demons are so desperate to break out?”

Jo considered. Demons lied, yeah. But if it was true, she had a real opportunity to gain some useful information here. “So why are there so many stories about hunters successfully hiding out from demons on holy ground?” she challenged the demon.

“Works against newbies,” Ruby said, delicately pulling the chewing gum out of her mouth and sticking it to the back of a pew. “They don’t have the self-discipline to tough out a little present pain for a future reward. They’re all, ‘rape, maim, kill, party all the time.’ Sort of like frat-boys,” she concluded with a wink.

“And this one we’re up against?”

“Not quite so fresh, but he’ll still go for maximum carnage with minimum risk. Speaking of which, we need to hit him before he gets bored with flying under the radar and starts another massacre. You good to go?”

Jo considered. “Two more questions,” she said.

“Shoot,” Ruby agreed.

“One – who’s the woman you’re possessing?”

“What, this old thing?” Ruby said wryly, tossing her hair. “When she was bad? She was very, very bad. Pretty packaging, and let’s just say she was good with a knife before I took up residence. Trust me, the world’s better off with me in the driver’s seat.”

“Okay,” Jo said. “And two – what’s with you trying to stare down Jesus?”

Ruby’s smile slipped away, and her eyes went demon-dark. “Oh. That.” She threw a glance over her shoulder. “It’s never fun, running into an ex. We done with the interrogation?” she said sharply, striding towards Jo, and the exit. “’Cause I’m really in the mood to kill something.” She slammed the door on the way out.

Jo dipped the jug into the font, capped it, and carefully dried it off before following Ruby out of the church.

The demon had possessed some poor schmuck of a court reporter. Jo stopped by a drug store. She picked up some blue eye shadow, red lipstick, and a neon green water pistol. The water pistol held 10 oz. of holy water and fit neatly in her Glock 23’s holster at the small of her back. The make-up made her look young, slutty, and stupid. A jeans jacket, clean but worn and a few sizes too big, completed the white trash camo.

“Let me get this straight,” Jo had protested. “This demon crawls its way out of Hell, slaughters a dozen people, then possesses this guy and goes to work?”

Ruby shrugged. “He thought I wouldn’t find him there. He was wrong.”

Jo took her watch off for the metal detector, smiled brainlessly at the marshal, and breezed on through the courthouse security. She walked up the stairs and into courtroom 229, where Ruby had told her the target worked. The door creaked as she walked in. The only one to look up was the defendant, a beefy bald-headed white guy wearing a cheap suit. Jo made eye contact and smiled. She had no idea what he was charged with, but decided to give him a thrill in case they put him away. Besides, no one would question her being there if she looked like his girlfriend. She slipped past a few better-dressed women sitting in the front to get as close as possible to the demon and the court reporter he was possessing.

Jo watched the court reporter out of the corner of her eye. The demon-reporter – Bob, she decided to call him, looked bored out of his mind. He was randomly clicking away at his little typewriter with one finger, not even pretending to transcribe the testimony of the witness on the stand.

A few minutes later, Bob stiffened and stood up, somehow alerted to Ruby’s presence in the building. Jo put a hand on the wooden barrier in front of her and hurdled it, landing hard on the other side and pulling the water pistol from its holster at the small of her back.

Ten feet. That was all the range the piece of shit water pistol had. Closer. Closer. Now!

Jo pulled the trigger and a stream of holy water hit the demon in the face. It screamed like a cougar. People were yelling, running away. Good. At least she’d gotten them out of the line of fire. As Jo reached the demon, it looked up at her, eyes black, and hissed as it back-handed her to the ground.

“Get off her!” Jo heard. And then silence.

Jo opened her eyes. Her water pistol was on the ground a few feet away. Jo got to her knees and lurched for it. The demon picked her up. Jo felt a flash of blinding pain along her back as it slammed her into the front of the witness stand.

“Did she send you?” the demon snarled at her, literally frothing at the mouth. Jo wished she had a hand free to wipe the spittle off her face. This whole ‘pinned by demonic telekinesis’ thing was getting old.

Jo opened her mouth to play for time, pretty sure that an exorcism would get her killed at this point. “Yep. And I’ve got a message for you,” she said, mind scrambling for something plausible. Over the demon’s shoulder, Jo caught sight of Ruby stalking silently towards the demon’s unprotected back, knife at the ready. “Man, you are so screwed,” Jo informed him. “She’s pissed.”

Ruby cleared her throat. The demon spun around just as she lunged with her knife. It staggered back against Jo, convulsing. A strange sensation like a jolt of electricity passed through her. Jo felt the force of three more furious blows transmitted through its body to hers before Bob’s body slid to the ground, taking her with it.

Jo shoved the still, heavy corpse off of her and rolled towards her water pistol. Ruby was staring down at the dead man, black-eyed and ready to strike again.

Jo snagged the water pistol and staggered to her feet. “That looked personal,” she said breathlessly, waiting to see if Ruby would turn on her now the demon was down.

Ruby shuddered, and then quirked a smile at Jo, eyes back to hazel. “When I saw he had you backed up against the stand like that, I got jealous. Thought I was the only one for you, baby,” she joked, squatting down to wipe her blade clean on the dead man’s pants.

Jo relaxed and holstered her water pistol. “Oh, don’t worry. If I ever decide to start slumming with demons, you’re at the top of my list.”

“Awwww, you sweet-talker. And you even got all dolled up for me,” Ruby said, gesturing at Jo’s chest.

Jo glanced down. There was a big fresh blood stain smeared across the front of her jeans jacket. “Fuck,” she muttered. That would attract all the wrong kinds of attention. Jo stripped off her jacket and, after a moment’s regret at the loss of a good piece of gear, her holster. No way could she conceal that under a t-shirt. Maybe she should start carrying a purse? No, it’d be in the way for fire fights. When she looked around, Ruby was gone. Typical.

Luckily the blood hadn’t soaked through to her shirt. Jo decided to hide her jacket behind the judge’s bench. She found the defendant there, crumpled against the wall with his head at an unnatural angle.

Damn. He must’ve been the one that shouted at the demon when it hit her. Another dead civilian, and this one was all her fault. She shouldn’t have smiled at him. “Sorry.” She whispered to the dead guy as she stuffed her jacket, water pistol and holster under the judge’s chair.

Jo let tears well up in her eyes. She psyched herself up, let out a piercing scream, and then ran for the exit. “Oh my God, oh my God,” she wailed, throwing herself into the arms of the nearest, very startled, armed man on the other side of the door. “He stabbed him! The big bald guy stabbed him!”

She sobbed incoherently when they tried to question her. It was an Oscar-worthy performance, inspired by a dozen utterly useless victims she’d saved in the past year.

Five minutes later Jo was wrapped in a blanket, sitting in the back of an ambulance while EMTs checked her over. Ten minutes later she’d slipped away and made it back to her car. The fact Ruby was waiting for her in the car was a surprise. The fact that Jo was glad to see her was an even bigger one.

“You hurt?” Ruby asked awkwardly. Her eyes were glued to the scenery as they pulled onto the highway. “You were moving like you were hurt.”

Jo’s back lit up with pain with every breath. “It’s not too bad. Bruised a couple of ribs, maybe.”

Ruby winced sympathetically. “Want me to pick up some painkillers for you?”

Jo choked back a laugh – and fuck, that hurt. Sure, she’d send the helpful demon out to pick her up some prescription meds. Would Ruby steal them from a hospital pharmacy, Jo wondered, or murder a dealer for his stash? “No thanks. I’ve got some Tylenol 3 in the first aid kit in the back.”

She couldn’t drive like this. Jo pulled off at the first motel she saw and checked in. Ruby was still sitting in the passenger seat when Jo came out of the office with the key.

“Don’t you have somewhere to be?” Jo asked, sliding painfully into the driver’s seat to park the car.

“Nope,” Ruby answered, not making eye contact.

Jo parked in front of the room, cautiously got out of the car, and pulled her overnight bag and first aid kit out of the back seat. She was suddenly reminded of her first and only date with Jimmy, a soccer player from her senior chemistry class. There’d been the same awkward ‘will he – won’t he come in’ after dinner. Only, with less fear for her life, because Jo could have taken Jimmy out in a second if he’d tried anything. Which he hadn’t.

“Fine,” Jo said drily. “But just so you know, I’m planning on sleeping with a salt line and a devil’s trap at the door.” She expected some kind of sarcastic comment.

Ruby nodded. “Give me a second to fill the ice bucket,” she said.

Once Jo made it into the room, she headed into the bathroom and downed a couple of Tylenol 3’s while Ruby grabbed the ice bucket and headed back outside. Jo shuffled to the door. She sank to her knees with a groan, pulled a piece of chalk from her bag, and started drawing a devil’s trap. Not her fault if Ruby wasn’t back by the time it was done, she reasoned. The demon could sleep in the car. Or wherever Ruby went, when she wasn’t hanging around with hunters.

There was a soft knock on the door before the trap was even half-drawn. Jo shuffled backwards.

“Come in,” she said.

Ruby stepped through the door without a word. She placed the ice bucket on the bedside table, picked up the remote off the TV, and sat on the bed. The bed. It hadn’t even occurred to Jo to ask for two queens.

Now this was gonna be awkward. Jo was opening her mouth to tell Ruby to get out when the demon suddenly said, “Twilight Zone okay?” She was pulling off her boots. “The one from the fifties? There’s a marathon tonight.”

The Twilight Zone. How fucking appropriate. “Sure,” Jo agreed. “Why not.” Why the Hell not. Jo finished the devil’s trap and sat down gingerly on the bed.

“Take off your shirt,” Ruby suggested. “I’ll ice your back for you.”

Jo managed to get her shirt off, but trying to reach the clasp of her bra sent pain shooting down her back and side.

“I’ve got it,” Ruby murmured. A moment’s pressure, and then Ruby carefully lifted the bra away from Jo’s body. “Come here,” she said. “Scoot back a little and lean on me. That’ll support you so you can watch TV while I apply the ice.”

The ice was cold and wet, but Ruby was pressed warm against her side, so Jo was comfortable enough. She felt drifty. The Tylenol 3 was definitely kicking in. “Why’re you being so …”

“So what?” Ruby asked gently.

“So nice,” Jo decided.

“I can be nice,” Ruby said, lips brushing against the back of Jo’s neck. “I’m a little out of practice at it, but I can be whatever you want me to be.”

“You’re weird, for a demon.”

“Well, you’re not the average hunter, yourself, sweetie. I guess that’s why we get along.”

“Mmmm-hmmm,” Jo agreed drowsily.

On TV, Rod Sterling introduced a man who would sell his soul to the Devil for a chance at eternal life.

Ruby was a terrific partner, Jo decided as she cleaned her Glock. She always had Jo’s back, trusted her when things went sideways, and was teaching her basic spell work. They’d called up the spirit of a murdered man to answer questions about the monster that killed him, and used a ritual to track down sources of demonic energy on a map.

Sure, she wasn’t around 24-7. Ruby would take off for days at a time, when she had other stuff to take care of, or was running down a lead, and then show up out of nowhere. It worked out. Jo never had taken well to being smothered.

Ruby looked grim as she opened the motel door. “This hunt’s gonna be rough,” she said, locking it behind her. “Think you’re ready?”

Jo put down her Glock and gestured to the rest of the arsenal she had spread out on the bed. “I think I’ve got it covered.”

Ruby shook her head. “No, that’s not …” She sighed. “Look. Up until now, the demon’s we’ve taken out have been small fry. This one, she’s different. Older. More powerful. More subtle. She’s not going to attract attention with big, showy massacres.”

“So how’d you find her? That map ritual?”

“No, Ananôku’s too good for that. But she’s got … let’s call it a signature move. You ever heard of the McMartin abuse case? No? Then how about the Salem witch trials?”

“That was a demon?” Jo asked.

Ruby nodded. “This demon, she doesn’t kill humans. She builds up fear and violence, feeds on it, intensifies it, until they kill each other off. There’s a case in this little town in Iowa – I think it might be Ananôku getting her rocks off.”

“What kind of case?” Jo said. She had a feeling she wouldn’t like the answer.

Ruby stepped close, tilted Jo’s chin up, and brushed a kiss across her lips. “I don’t want to bias you,” she said. “Let’s check out the town. Maybe I’m jumping at shadows.”

They reached the town in time for lunch the next day. It wasn’t little. It was tiny. ‘Welcome to Conrad - Population 1003 – Home of the Comets!’ proclaimed a road sign.

“Carol’s Country Kitchen sound good?” Jo asked as she drove down Main Street, hit the edge of town, and pulled a three-point turn. Ruby agreed. Good thing, too. It was either that, wait for the steakhouse to open for dinner, or drive back to the Dairy Queen they’d passed 20 minutes ago.

Ruby, pale and distracted, followed her inside and slid into the other side of the booth.

“You okay?” Jo asked. Ruby’d barely said a word for the past half hour.

“Yeah,” Ruby murmured. “Just trying to keep a low profile.”

Jo suspected there was more to it; some kind of spell or energy work to hide them from the Big Bad. She decided not to bug Ruby for an explanation in public. There was only one other customer in the place. A guy with a buzz cut in a dirty grey sweatshirt was sitting at the counter, hunched over a bowl of beef stew that smelled mouth-wateringly good.

An older woman in an apron bustled out of the kitchen. “Hello ladies,” she said with a cheerful smile. “I’m Carol – this is my place. What can I get you?”

“A bowl of that stew and a Diet Coke, please,” Jo ordered politely.

“And for you, miss?” Carol asked Ruby. Ruby was slumped in her seat, eyes closed. She didn’t seem to notice that the waitress was talking to her.

“She’ll have some fries, no salt,” Jo said quickly. The waitress was staring at Ruby with open fascination.

“Sorry, we got up real early for the drive,” Jo explained. “She’s beat.”

“Huh. You two visiting someone in town?” Carol asked.

Jo hid her surge of irritation. Spy satellites had nothing on interfering old busybodies when it came to gathering local intel. “Well, we wanted to take a look at that property out on route 96,” Jo said. She’d noticed the For Sale sign on the drive in. “My husband has a friend who used to live in town. He said it’s a great place for,” Jo looked down shyly and curved a hand over her belly. “For raising a family.”

“Oh, honey, congratulations,” Carol crowed, peering down at Jo’s stomach. “Your first?”

Jo nodded. Carol plopped down on the bench seat next to Jo. Jo moved as far back as she could, making sure she had room to defend herself in case the granny jumped her.

“A few months ago, I would have said there was no finer place in the world to raise children,” the waitress informed her. “We all looked out for each other, you know? You could leave your car sitting out there on Main Street, keys in the ignition and the door hanging open, and folks would turn off your headlights to save your battery. This place was packed every day for lunch.” She glanced around the deserted restaurant. The guy in the overalls dropped a dollar tip on the counter and took off without a backwards glance.

“But now?” Jo prompted Carol.

“There’s something wrong,” Carol said, voice low. “We’ve had three suicides in the past two months. Three kids. A fourteen-year-old boy, his thirteen-year-old best friend, and my neighbor’s son that was only ten years old. And that … that can’t be natural.”

Kids. Jesus. “Are the cops investigating? Do they think somebody might have done something to the children?” Jo asked in a quiet, urgent voice.

Carol’s eyes were bright and hard. “Sheriff Jay’s fine for rounding up drunks, but he’s got no clue what’s really going on around here. A few of us in town – we’ve got some ideas on who’s been hurting our babies. We’ll get it settled, real soon.” She was flushed, excited. Jo had once seen a photo of a group of women setting up a picnic lunch at a lynching. They’d looked exactly like Carol did right now.

“Hey Carol,” Jo interrupted. “You think you could get that stew for me? I’m starving.”

Carol blinked a few times. “Oh. Oh, sure thing, miss. After all, you’re eating for two now!” Carol slowly got to her feet and headed into the kitchen.

Jo rolled her shoulders, which had tensed up as if she were going into a fight. “Ruby,” she said, “is that what you were expecting to find?”

Ruby opened her eyes. “Yeah. That’s Ananôku’s work. I’d hoped I was wrong.”

The stew didn’t taste anywhere near as good as it had smelled, but Jo left a five dollar tip anyway. As they left, Jo noticed that the sidewalks were nearly empty. The few people they saw scurried from their cars into their destinations without making eye contact.

Jo pulled into the school parking lot with her cover story firmly in place. A nice young wife looking into buying property in town, checking out the local school. She and Ruby walked through a gate into the playground. There was a covered area with a basketball hoop. Ruby picked up a deflated basketball and showed it to Jo. It looked like it’d been slashed repeatedly with a knife. The brick wall of the basketball court was covered in graffiti. A devil’s head in black spray-paint laughed at them. Under the head was scrawled, THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT. The top of the graffiti was barely at Jo’s chest-level. The artist must have been well under five feet tall.

A bell rang. Jo gestured Ruby back towards the car. They sat on the hood and watched as children ran out onto the playground. One boy shoved another off the slide and started kicking him as he lay on the ground. A teacher snatched the bully up into the air and shook him hard, screaming in the little boy’s face.

“There,” Ruby said suddenly. She nodded at a chubby little blonde girl, maybe seven years old, in a green corduroy jumpsuit. The girl was standing perfectly still in the middle of the playground, watching as another fight broke out on the other side of the playground. Ruby loosened her knife in its holster and hopped off the hood.

“Wait,” Jo hissed, grabbing her by the arm. “You can’t do that.”

Ruby looked around. “It is pretty public, but I think the adults will just try to get the rest of the children away from us, and even if they do make a move, they won’t be armed. Ananôku’s the only real threat.”

“No, I mean you can’t kill that little girl,” Jo whisper-shouted.

Ruby cocked her head. “Why not? Last week we killed that big guy, no problem. Ananôku’s got some major mojo, but she’s no stronger in a stand-up fight.”

Christ, it was like trying to describe the color red to a blind woman. “Because it’s wrong!” Ruby shifted restlessly, looking at the possessed kid. “Look, you’re trying to earn some trust, right?” Jo said desperately. Ruby’s attention was suddenly focused completely on her. “With me, Mom, Bobby, the Winchesters – you’re trying to prove that we can trust you?”

“That’s right,” Ruby said quietly.

“Well, this is the price for that trust. Sometimes you can’t do things the easy way. You’ve got to do it the right way, instead.”

Ruby stared at her for a few seconds, and then broke into a clear, pealing laugh. “Okay,” she said, and got into the car.

Jo was left gaping after her. “What do you mean, ‘okay’,” she demanded as she slid into the driver’s seat.

Ruby shrugged, smiling. “I mean, okay, whatever you want to do. I assume you have some kind of plan. We’re not going to leave Ananôku here to rip the town apart, right?”

“Well, we need some way to capture the demon,” Jo said. “And transport it to a secure location. Then I can perform an exorcism.”

“Think I’ll skip that part of the program,” Ruby said. “But we can pull off a snatch and grab. A bag inscribed with a devil’s trap over her head so she doesn’t toss you across the room, then a binding link carved – scratched,” she amended at the look on Jo’s face, “into the meatsuit’s skin will keep her from zapping or smoking out. That and enough holy water could keep her subdued until we get her somewhere isolated. Ananôku’s strong enough that it’s gonna take a full-on exorcism to send her back to the Pit. We’re talking … maybe four hours of chanting in Latin while she screams like you’re torturing her. ‘Cause you will be. You up for that? ”

“When the alternative is killing a little girl? Yeah, I can do it.”

Ruby volunteered to keep an eye on the demon, and find out where it was living. Jo found a self-storage facility 10 miles away off of route 330, rented a unit, and set-up some lighting and a meticulous devil’s trap inside. She bought some big collapsible water containers and another water pistol. The minister of the United Methodist Church didn’t blink an eye when she asked him to bless 50 gallons of water for her, and he mentioned that he would keep her in his prayers at the evening’s service. The man must’ve known there was evil walking his town. At five o’clock she met Ruby outside Carol’s Country Kitchen.

The plan worked. It was a fucking nightmare, but it worked. The demon was bike riding through the park when they grabbed her. It cursed in a dozen languages, all the more terrifying in a little girl’s voice. Ruby drove like a maniac to get them to the storage facility. Jo tried to avoid splashing her with holy water; especially after one enthusiastic splash nearly sent them head-first into a tree.

Finally Jo had the demon hog-tied in the center of a devil’s trap. She scratched through the line of the binding link, doused it with holy water, and pulled the bag off its head. The girl’s eyes gleamed in the lamplight. “This’s a pretty little pet you’ve found, Bellona,” it called out in a hoarse voice as Ruby exited the storage container so that Jo could start the Rituale Romanum. “Bet she tastes like honey and absinthe.”

Princeps gloriosissime cælestis militiæ, sancte Michaël Archangele, defende nos in prælio et colluctatione,” Jo began.

The demon howled. Over the hours, between screams, it shouted humiliating details about Jo’s life, her hopes, her fantasies. It growled terrifying promises about what it would do to ‘your bitch mistress’ when Ruby eventually ended up back in Hell. Jo found herself shouting Latin over something that felt like, but wasn’t, a wave of sound, until finally her voice was just a cracked husk muttering the final words of the exorcism. A stream of black smoke spewed from the child’s body and was pulled back down to Hell.

Jo collapsed to her knees inside the devil’s trap and felt for a pulse in the little girl’s throat. There. Fast and thready, but there. Jo topped 100 miles per hour on little two-lane highways to get the girl to the hospital in Grundy. She carried the kid into the ER, shouting for help. The doctors hustled her into an exam room. Jo realized she didn’t even know the girl’s real name, and split before anyone started asking questions. She called Ruby from the road.

“Jo,” Ruby answered on the first ring. “I’m in Conrad. Lillian Ave., near the school. There’s something you need to see.”

Twenty-five minutes later Jo pulled up to a bizarre scene. It was the middle of the night. There in the flickering mix of firelight and the blue-red flash of the emergency vehicles, dozens of people, including the volunteer fire department and county sheriff, were standing around watching a house burn. Jo pulled onto the side of the road and headed towards the crowd. They were oddly quiet. Jo finally spotted Ruby, standing next to Carol.

“What’s going on?” Jo managed in a hoarse whisper.

“Carol, fill her in, would you?” Ruby said, eyes on the burning house.

“A little girl disappeared today. They found her bike in the park. But don’t worry – we took care of the pervert. He’ll never hurt another child.”

Jo couldn’t make sense of it for a moment. Then her brain made the leap. “Wait. There’s someone in that house?” she squeaked, breaking into a sprint.

Ruby tackled her to the ground. “Stand down, Jo. It’s been burning for a long time,” she said in Jo’s ear, holding her down with more than human strength until Jo went limp. “Come on, let’s get out of here before the locals decide to play ‘Burn the Witch.’”

Jo followed Ruby back to the car. Ruby settled her in the passenger seat and snicked the seatbelt closed. She got into the driver’s seat and pulled onto the road. Jo dozed off. She woke up sometime later when Ruby pulled into a gas station and asked, “Did the kid make it?”

“Yeah,” Jo answered, voice still wrecked. “Yeah, she did.”

“Well, that’s something anyway.” Ruby said. She looked over at Jo. “Don’t take it so hard, sweetie. Sometimes, doing the right thing isn’t enough to make things come out right. You’ll learn.”

She got out to pump the gas, and Jo fell back asleep.

There were a whole slew of demonic omens in Indiana, and Jo’s partner had up and disappeared. Jo had left seven voice messages for Ruby in the past twenty-four hours. Last time they spoke, Ruby’d said something about being busy with the Winchesters for a couple of days, but that was over a week ago. Dean and Sam weren’t picking up, either. Both those dicks had been tip-toeing around her ever since Sam’s little possession gig, but avoiding her was childish.

Jo tried the map ritual, searching for demonic energy. Five candles, a few drops of blood, a little Latin, but it was no good. The hotspot in Indiana didn’t match Ruby, and they’d cleared out everything else. Finally Jo called Bobby.

“Yeah?” Bobby answered after a dozen rings. The one word had Jo on edge. Bobby sounded drunk.

“You alright, Uncle Bobby?”

“No,” Bobby barked. It hung in the soft, staticky hum of the phone line. Jo wasn’t sure what to say. “You calling to inquire after my general health, or did you need something?”

“I, uh, was wondering if you’ve heard from Ruby lately.”

“Oh. Of course. Shoulda known. You’re calling to inquire after the demon’s health,” Bobby slurred. “Well, girlie; hate to break it to you, but Ruby’s gone. Probly dragged back to Hell right alongside Dean.”

“Wait,” Jo said. “Dean? Dean’s dead?” She felt bad, now, about thinking he was a dick.

“And buried. Sam wouldn’t even let me burn his bones.”

Jesus. Sam must be a wreck.

Jo suddenly remembered Ananôku’s threats. Ruby was back in Hell, and because of Jo, because Ruby did the right fucking thing by not killing Ananôku with her knife, that demon was doing all the things it’d promised, screamed at her for all those hours. No. She couldn’t be responsible for Ruby suffering like that. But maybe … maybe there was a way to get her out.

“Bobby, do you remember that demon-summoning ritual those Goth kids got their hands on a couple of years ago?”

There was a harsh sound from Bobby’s end of the phone line that might have been meant as a laugh. “You know Sam woke me up at three this morning to ask if the ‘life’s blood of an infant’ in Guiborg’s Denique Ritus might be negotiable? You all can just go to Hell in your own damned hand baskets. I’m done.” The phone was slammed down, hard.

When Jo tried calling Bobby back, all she got was a busy signal. Well, she’d figure it out herself. The Olmütz Collection at the Notre Dame library would have the texts she needed. She could be there by the time they opened in the morning.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2010 04:32 am (UTC)
OMG you did this soooo much Justice! I was super excited when I saw this pop up on RB.

This story is so in character! Your Jo and your Ruby is spot on!

I love it, and memed it, and really am thinking about reccing it too! :flails:

Oct. 29th, 2010 05:47 am (UTC)
Thanks, falling_dominos! The interesting thing about this is how much Jo and Ruby have in common. Ooh, I'd love a rec - femslash is a bit of a hard sell, in this fandom.
Oct. 29th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
:) I know, I'm gonna do recs when I get several of the RevBangs read (and mine gets posted...cause I'm kinda stressin a bit!) so I can be all like, 'My faves of the rev bangs so far.' Cause I mean...there are a lot to be posted still. XD!
Oct. 29th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC)
This was awesome! You did an awesome job with the characterizations and I'm so glad that I read it :)
Oct. 29th, 2010 05:49 am (UTC)
Thanks so much, youaredriving, I appreciate you lettig me know!
Oct. 29th, 2010 05:05 am (UTC)
There is nothing I appreciate more in fic than when writers can get the voices absolutely perfect...and you definitely did. Which I expected having read your stuff before but was still blown away. Your Ruby is so close to canon Ruby, if I didn't know any better I'd say you wrote her on the show. Complete perfection.

I loved this. Great job!
Oct. 29th, 2010 06:02 am (UTC)
*blushes* Thank you icelily, that's a lovely compliment.
Oct. 29th, 2010 06:35 am (UTC)
Just wonderful. Not enough femslash in this fandom.
Oct. 29th, 2010 06:47 am (UTC)
Thanks, gestaltrose, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Oct. 29th, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed that! Thank you for picking my prompt and writing this ♥

Jo and Ruby are in character and I liked the UST :-)

Oct. 30th, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
I'm glad you like it! Thanks so much for the prompt! It never in a million years would have occurred to me to write Jo/Ruby, but once I saw your artwork, I couldn't stop thinking about what a great team they would make.
Oct. 30th, 2010 03:47 am (UTC)
The artwork is gorgeous! You wrote a fantastic story too. :D

I'm probably one of a handful of people who like both Jo and Ruby so this was a fun surprise to see. You do such a great job with the character voices and I could see this happening. The two could team up together, Ruby working Jo just like she did Sam for her own ends. Loved the tidbits about building a trust with the hunters. And awww, poor Bobby at the end. :(

Great strong characters here. Nicely done.
Oct. 31st, 2010 11:12 am (UTC)
Jo and Ruby are AWESOME! And even better together! It's a pairing that never would have occurred to me, but once I saw apieceofcake's artwork, that plot bunny turned pitbull and would not let go. It doesn't even have to be an AU. Ruby isn't with Sam most of the time in season 3 - she could very well be hunting demons with Jo. Didn't you wonder how Ruby got back out of Hell? I know I did.

I'm of the (unpopular) opinion that there's a lot of truth and sincerity mixed in with Ruby's lies. That's what makes them so effective. But I think she honestly does care about Sam, wants him to reach his potential and fulfil his destiny. And I think, in this fic, that she admires and enjoys spending time with Jo, and would rather teach her this hard lesson before Jo goes down in a pointless battle when the End of Days hits.

Thanks for reading, dragonlit!
Oct. 31st, 2010 08:12 pm (UTC)
I'm of the (unpopular) opinion that there's a lot of truth and sincerity mixed in with Ruby's lies. That's what makes them so effective. But I think she honestly does care about Sam, wants him to reach his potential and fulfil his destiny.

I absolutely agree. I don't think her fervent belief in Lucifer as a savior negated the bond she developed with Sam -- in the last moments of her life Ruby was (mistakenly) convinced that everything would work out best for them. I thought she was a complex, tragic character. (I think there's a strong comparison in Castiel's tragic misconception about the method & motives of the upper angelic hierarchy and Ruby's tragic misconception about the nature & purpose of Lucifer. I find those two characters so similar in S4 -- both working against their Winchester during S4 for a purpose they sincerely believed was more important, while also working with them. Only Castiel has the option of being confronted by Dean in the last minute, while he still had a chance to be convinced to change sides, and that opportunity never happens for Ruby.)
Nov. 1st, 2010 01:44 pm (UTC)
Agreed! There's a vid I want to make, comparing season 4 Ruby and Castiel, and their roles in recruiting Sam and Dean to their respective sides.

One of my betas, while reading this fic, said after reading the scene where Ruby compares Jesus to an ex, sauddenly said, "Wait! Is Ruby Mary Magdalene?" And wouldn't THAT be an interesting take on her character.
Oct. 31st, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
Totally LOVE this fic! And *heart* the pairing!!!
Nov. 1st, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, eternal_moonie!
Oct. 31st, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC)
OMG YAY! I don't know what it is, but I just love this pairing and you did great things with it here. I love your version of Jo. The ladies of SPN rarely get to live a real "life" onscreen (existing only when it the Winchesters need them to) and it's fun to read about them having their own adventures together.
Nov. 1st, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
Thanks silvia! Jo's one tough chick, and the fact she's a woman surrounded by men makes her have to be even tougher.
Nov. 1st, 2010 02:11 am (UTC)
Awesome job. You got Ruby's voice spot on.
Nov. 1st, 2010 01:45 pm (UTC)
Thanks bree, I'm glad I got her right!
Dec. 1st, 2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
!!! ♥♥♥
Dec. 2nd, 2010 04:44 am (UTC)
Why thank you, glad you enjoyed!
May. 31st, 2011 01:45 am (UTC)
I love how you synched this up with canon, so the ending was super creepy, Jo waiting for Ruby to call her back. I really enjoyed this.
Jun. 5th, 2011 05:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, glovered! Yeah, no one really considers how Ruby was affected, being ripped out of her meat-suit and sent back to Hell by Lilith. (If that's what happened. There's the delight of events only reported by characters that we know, for a fact, are liars.)
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )