Jo is laughing at something he's said, short hair flying as she doubles over, clutching her stomach. John's boy is making broad gestures and pantomiming some kill or other that he's made, and his brother is rolling his eyes and correcting him when he gets too enthusiastic with the embellishment.
Ellen wipes down the counter, grabs the empty bottles for recycling, and she feels Ash's steady gaze on her back. She doesn't acknowledge him. She's watching the Winchesters. Dean has his daddy's way about him when he's spinning a yarn, but it's Sam who got his brooding eyes, got the expression of a man who's seen more than he can take. He's amused right now, calm in his brother's sphere, but there's a violence about him, leashed and quiet, worse than before. He's not the boy who showed up in her kitchen with the wide puppy eyes.
Jo is telling a story of her own, now, pulling her shirt up to expose a jagged scar on her midsection that makes Dean whistle low with appreciation. Ellen thinks, not for the first time, that their lives would've been better if John Winchester had never walked through that door. Bill would be fixing the gutters and the plumbing when they went bad, Jo's body wouldn't be marked with the trophies of her hunts. Steve would be drinking at the bar, making stupid jokes and telling her about the latest crazy thing that his ex had done.
Her cell phone feels heavy and warm in her pocket, pressing into her thigh. Aaron's voice echoes in her ears, clear as if it was five minutes ago instead of two weeks. Wadell's dead. Cops ran the prints. She looks up, and Sam's watching her, eyes dark and unreadable. Ash is right; she knows what they have to do.
Dean and Jo's laughter follows her as she steps out into the hallway and flips open her phone.