Title - A Tree of Broken Promises
Summary - When she was seven years old, Jo Harvelle fell out of a tree. She could recall feeling breathless, shocked, and nauseated. She can't help but fell the same way when she looks at him.
"A Tree of Broken Promises"
Joanna Harvelle had been through a lot of heartbreak in her twenty-two years on Earth. The most damaging event was losing her father, a man that she both loved and inspired to be like one day. Her strong father was tough and brave, but at the end of the day would always have a smile planted on his face as he tucked his daughter into bed at night. With a sloppy kiss on the cheek and a quick story, Jo would be fast asleep with a comfort about her that she longed for since they day that she realized her father wasn't coming home.
She could remember the numbness she felt when she learned her father was dead. Immediately, the ten year old went into denial. Her father was untouchable, undefeatable. So when her mother dragged her to the wake of her father, with hunters from all over the country attending, Jo knew it was all a cruel joke. She felt like she was in on a joke that no one else knew about. Impatiently, she waited for her father to jump up in his casket and laugh at all the people who thought he was dead. It would be so like her father with his dazzling smile playing on his lips.
It wasn't until her mother and her stood outside the roadhouse with her father's ashes did she comprehend that her father was really dead. She remembered her mother opening up the top of the vase and the ashes flying around their home. That was the first time that she cried for her father, the time that the pain started to eat away at her.
As the years went by, it was harder for Jo to recall her father. Her mother wasn't exactly any help seeing as her mom only focused on forgetting, numbing the pain. There was only a small list of things that Jo could remember about her father: he always smelled of dirt, blood, and aftershave; he always had a smile on his face whenever he talked to her; he used to come up with the best stories even though she couldn't recall what any of them were about; he loved hunting; he loved his family; he was the best person to go to if you acquired a wound.
When Jo was seven, she climbed a tree to feel the rush of doing something dangerous, a pretend game of hunting the evils of the world just like her father. She remembered wanting to climb higher and higher. She was halfway up the tree when she stepped on the wrong branch and went crashing towards the ground. She barely had time to scream as she landed on her back, the wind knocked out of her. She laid there too stunned to move, breathless, and wanted nothing more than to throw up. Her father came barreling towards her, scooping her up in his arms whispering words of comfort in her ear and kissing her several times.
It was years later when Jo was in another tree, the aching memory of her father pounding in her head. Tears burned her eyes as she froze in the tree, unable to climb any higher. It wasn't the fact that a hellhound was at the base of the tree, barking like mad up at her as it tried to climb the tree. It was the fact that if she fell, her father wouldn't be there to pick her up and kiss her all better. With a shaky hand, she took out her cell phone and dialed the first number on her list: Dean Winchester.
"Dean…" her voice was breaking and sounded pathetic, "Dean…"
"Jo? Are you okay? Where are you?"
"Daddy…" she moaned into the phone.
"Jo, you have to tell me where you are or else I can't help you."
"What were you doing up in that tree, Joey?"
"Going to fight the bad stuff."
"Let Daddy fight the bad stuff, okay, Joey Sweetie?"
"Jo! Come on! What's going on? Sammy… can you trace this?"
"I'm sorry," Jo gasped.
"I wanna help you fight the bad stuff."
"Darling, Daddy doesn't want you getting hurt."
"But I'm a big girl now."
"Joey, how about we wait a couple of years?"
"When you turn sixteen, I'll take you on your first hunt. Me and you, Joey. Just me and you. I promise."
"Jo, listen to me. We got you. We're on our way. Just… just hang on."
The phone clicked and fell from her grasp. Her free hand shot up and gripped the nearest branch. She was breathing hard, her stomach aching from the large gashes across her abdomen. Shakily, she pulled herself higher into the tree not knowing what else to do. She didn't feel like she was twenty-two any longer, she felt as though she was seven and fighting off pretend monsters. The memory of her father pulsating through her body, making it impossible for her to concentrate on anything but him.
A gunshot rang through the air, causing Jo to let go of the branches. She fell, screaming at the top of her lungs. Her back collided with the ground, the feelings of nausea pelting into her. She blinked several times and saw her father staring at her with eyes wide filled with worry. She reached out and touched his cheek, a stubble gracing his chin. Closing her eyes she whispered, "Daddy…" before opening them again to see that her father was gone and replaced with a very uncomfortable looking Dean Winchester.
"Jo, you okay?" he asked as her hand fell from his face.
"Fine…" she whispered as she turned her head to see Sam Winchester staring at the two.
"Let's get you out of here."
Dean scooped the young woman up into his arms, and Jo wanted nothing more than to cry. He held her close to him, her head resting against his shoulder. She sniffed him, a scent of dirt and aftershave filled her nostrils. It was so familiar, so nice. She wanted so badly for it to be her father carrying her away from the tree but reality would never allow that to happen.
The next thing she remembered was waking up in a dingy motel room. Looking down at herself, she noticed that someone had taking off her shirt and applied bandages around her abdomen. The motel room door opened and Dean appeared with a brown bag in his arms. He walked towards her, asking how she was doing.
"Fine," she replied quickly.
"You're lucky, you know that? Sam and I just so happened to be hunting the Crocotta as well."
"I thought it was a hellhound…" Jo trailed off as Dean sat down on her bed.
"Nah… look, Jo, I'm going to give you some advice, okay?"
"Lemme guess, you're going to say something along the lines of how much potential I have, but it would be better if I just went off to college somewhere and forgot all about hunting, right?"
"You're an amateur. You haven't been at this your whole life. You can't grasp the concept that you're going to die if you keep this up. You're not a hunter."
"I know you think I'm really pathetic to have broken down out there, but you don't understand."
"My dad…" Dean paused as he swallowed a lump in his throat, "he always told Sammy and me that this isn't a game. This is life or death. We can't fuck around. We don't have room to mess up. We gotta keep our game face on at all times. We can't show those evil sons-of-bitches any kind of weakness. You're a sweet kid, Jo, but you're not cut out to be in this kind of work."
"Do you remember your mom?" Jo blurted out.
Dean stared at her; a deer-in-headlights look appeared on his face. He shifted on the bed, causing it to squeak. He looked down at his lap and starting playing with a tear in his jeans.
"A little, why?"
"I was ten when my dad died. I uh… I don't remember him much. We never talked about him because it was too hard for my mom. So as the years went on, I forgot him. When I was in that tree, I remembered this time when I was seven. This memory of him just crashed into me, and I… I just remembered. Does that ever happen with you? Do you ever remember your mom like that?"
"Sometimes," Dean answered as he looked up at her.
"Has it ever clouded your mind while on a hunt?"
"Then please don't insult me by calling me an amateur." Jo finally dropped her gaze from him.
"Jo, you weren't raised to be a hunter like I was. That's why I called you an amateur not because you remembered your dad."
"He used to call me Joey," she said with a sad chuckle, not wanting to talk about hunting any longer. "I forgot he used to call me that. After he died, I couldn't take anyone calling me that."
"I'm sorry. I know you blame my dad for what happened to him. Hell, I would too if I were you. I just-"
"I'm over it. You and Sam aren't your father. I just, when my mom told me that I was just so angry. I mean, I guess I always thought that hunters would look after each other."
Jo looked up at him, wondering if he knew what she knew about her father's last hunt. She remembered clear as day what Sam said to her while he was possessed. She chose to ignore it, believe it as a lie because if it were true it would be too painful. To think that John Winchester would shot her father rather than get him to a hospital made her sick to her stomach. But looking at Dean, how could he possibly have a father who would do such a horrid thing?
Leaning forward, Jo grabbed the man's face, drew it close to hers, and kissed him. At first he was frozen, trying to decide whether to kiss her back or not. Finally, he pulled away, looking at her like she stabbed him or something. He took her hands off his face and sat them in her lap before sliding off the bed.
"No, Jo," he started.
"Dean, I…" she trailed off because she had no idea what she was trying to say. "Don't go."
"We can't do this."
"I know. I just don't want to be alone right now."
Dean turned towards the door as though he were looking for his brother to come bail him out of the situation. When he didn't come, Dean finally turned back to Jo who looked so fragile and small in the bed. Running a hand down his face, he walked towards the bed and sat down on it, his back up against the headboard. Jo leaned into him, her head resting just above his hip as a hand crossed her body to clench his pant leg. Dean rested one hand on his leg and the other awkwardly patted Jo on the head.
"I hunt for my dad because he died a supernatural death," she whispered. "You hunt to finish what your father started… to avenge your mother's death. We're so similar, Dean. Why can't you see that? We both want the same thing."
Jo struggled into a sitting position, her abdomen protesting with pain. She ignored it as she stared into Dean's green eyes. Numb with both physical and emotion pain, Jo leaned forward and kissed him gently on the cheek. He protested as he turned and kissed her on the lips, his hand coming up to cup her face. He lowered her tenderly onto the bed, making sure he didn't touch her stomach area. Jo tugged at his shirt, managing to slip it off over his head. Her hands then fumbled with the belt buckle as he ran a line of kisses down her jaw.
He was careful with her, far more careful than she imagined he would be. The whole time her mind screamed to stop this, to stop him. It felt wrong. She knew she was using him make the memories of her father leave. After years of trying to remember, Jo was now pushing them away because she was unable to take the hurt that came with them. Dean was an easy target, a guy who'd slept with more women than he could count. She would be just another girl he slept with, no emotional depth or strings attached: another town, another girl, another fuck. It meant nothing to him and it meant nothing to her.
The next morning she woke up with her head on his bare chest, her body aching with pain. She sat up, struggling as tearing pain ripped through her abdomen. She looked down at the man that she lusted over since the moment he walked into the Roadhouse. The infatuation was gone and now replaced with a feeling of breathlessness and nausea, the same feeling she felt when she plummeted towards the ground. She realized Dean Winchester was more like her father than she thought was healthy. They had the same cool exterior while hunting but when it came to family, the hostility was pushed aside. They had the same sad smile, a sense of humor about them. With those feelings was a sense of release. Her silly feelings for Dean were gone and replaced with a sense of respect for the man. Perhaps they could even try being friends. A dry sob escaped her lips. Dean stirred and stared up at her, a look of confusion written on his face and then a look of horror.
"Never again," she whispered as his face clearly changed to that of relief.
"You were upset, and I took advantage of you. I'm… sorry?"
"I used you too."
"How're you feeling?" Dean questioned as he sat up.
"I'm ready to get back on that horse and kick some demon ass."
"I know you're going to do what you want to do but if you need help, you can always call on Sam and me. I'd rather you call us than wind up dead because you got wrapped up in something way over your head."
"I'll keep that in mind," she said softly, doubt obvious in her words.
Jo was sixteen and the promise of going on her first hunt burned in her mind. He promised and wasn't there. She turned to Gordon Walker and asked him to take her hunting with him. Without her mother's permission, lying and saying she was going to a friend's sleep over party, Jo walked out of the Roadhouse and walked a mile down the road to where Gordon was parked. Climbing into the car, the two drove off to conduct a stakeout. Though it wasn't long before her mother found them on the job, dragging a protesting Jo home, yelling at Gordon to stay the hell away from her daughter.
The sick thing was, she imagined that she was on a hunt with her dad and not with Gordon. After her father died, it seemed like she was trying to replace her father every chance she got. First with a young hunter named Shane whom she lost her virginity with at the tender age of fourteen. Then with headstrong Gordon who was more than happy to toughen her up in the world of hunting. Then with a hunter named Rick, the first man she ever loved. Then with Dean a guy who made her feel like a young teenager again. Now, she felt like she was free. She no longer yearned for the father, or for the memories. All she wanted was to make him proud of her by hunting, by making a difference.
"Uncle Johnny and I are going on a hunt. I won't be able to make it to your school play. I'm sorry, Joey Sweetie."
"When will you be home?"
"A week tops."
"Can I come too?"
"Joey, honey, you know that you can't. When I get home though, I'll take you shooting."
"Cross my heart."
"You and Uncle John be careful."
"We will, Sweet Pea."
"Yeah, Uncle Johnny?"
"Next time I drag your old man out on a hunt, I'll bring my boys by to keep you company. Sam's twelve and Dean's sixteen. I'm sure you guys will get along great."
"I promise. Come on, Bill. Let's hit the road. I'm driving."
"Oh gosh, you hunt with style, John. Old school Impala, old school hunting."
Author's Notes - So I think Jo has a lot of potential on the show, but the writers make her so… one-dimensional. So this was my attempt to give her some depth. Please review and tell me what you think.