Headin' to the Unexpected (2/3)
Summary: Wounded and exposed, Dean heads to the unexpected, and gets it all wrong. Snapshots after the events of AHBL1, set 1-2 weeks later. (Dean, Jo, Caleb)
A/N:WIP, Set after AHBL, part 1. AU – character death. Borrowed 'Brotherhood's' Caleb by Ridley. This is by no way a Dean/Jo shipper, but human desire is a natural response.
Disclaimer: SPN is not my show and no one belongs to me.
'The Quickest way of ending a war is to lose it' – George Orwell, 1946
'We cannot heal the wounds we do not feel' – S.R. Smalley
'It is not a tree that stands alone in the middle of a plain, but the distance between the deep sap and the bark, between the leaves and the roots' - Jose Saramago on loneliness
She could have left him on the doorstep, told him to leave, get a motel. Sleep in the goddam car. Anything but be sucked back into the Winchester's lives. But the sight of the mute and shaking Dean had her instantly reaching for him.
Somehow she found herself coaxing him into her small under-furnished apartment. She led him to an old worn blue couch that she was pretty sure had been there before she had even been born. She had told herself, when she had found the place, that it had been vintage and not because the guy who lad lived their previously had been dead in the bedroom for god knows how long.
When Dean did not respond to the feel of the couch pressing into the back of his legs she pushed at his shoulders. The touch was gentle but enough as Dean silently lowered himself, bringing his arms tightly across his stomach, and hunched slightly. Conserving body heat or his composure. Or both.
Jo hesitated a second before joining him.
"I'm sorry" she said simply, not knowing what to say. Sam had been everything and now he was gone.
She had no idea why he had chosen to come to her. This had been unexpected and it left her silently freaking out. Give her a situation that required a shotgun and she could deal. But this… it left her slowly drifting out of control.
"You should get out of your jacket" Jo instructed. She explored his face. He looked different, more lines, older.
"What…?" Dean responded, startling. He glanced at Jo. "Why?"
"Are you leaving?" she asked. Dean shrugged, turning away.
"Get out of the jacket Dean. It's wet". She started to pull at the tough and cracked leather, exploring the material between her fingers, but Dean remained unmoving. She paused a second before finally leaning across him to free his remaining arm when she suddenly found Dean's mouth pressed against hers.
It took her by surprise and her reaction faltered as his lips became urgent and explorative. 'He tastes nice' filtered through before conscience got the better of her 'Must. Stop.'
'Dean" she mumbled against his lips as he moved his body so that he was leaning over her. How'd that happen? He brought his hands up and cupped her face as his kisses became more full, teeth occasionally nipping at her. She may have even whimpered. There was a fleeting thought of to hell with the consequences. Instead she managed a slightly firmer 'No.Stop'.
She pushed at him and they both pulled away, their faces inches part.
"This would be where you take advantage" Dean breathed against her. She felt the words float across her skin.
This close, she looked at him, with a sinking realisation that he was completely detached. His face blank, the words he had spoken, were flat and devoid of any emotion. She wondered if this was the face he wore whenever he got any and if there hadn't been a dead brother in the mix she would have hit him right up the side of the head for playing her.
But then of course he would probably not be sitting on her couch in the dead of the night.
She remembered how when she had first met Dean, he had turned her down because he hadn't been in the right headspace. It was ironic how Sam's and John's deaths had initiated two completely different reactions. Dean had done a complete 180. Sam's death had caused Dean to reach out for physical contact; a presence in the dark.
The lack of human emotion, however, scared the hell out of her.
She pushed him further up and rolled out from under him. Not saying a word she made her way over to her room. She emerged, clutching a blanket, in her hands.
Dean had returned back to his seat, head down, silent and morose. She dropped the blanket onto his knees, briefly touching his hair, before pulling her hand back.
"Get some sleep" she said before making her way back to her room.
She closed the door and leant against it. Dammit Winchester, she thought to herself, I should have left you on the doorstep.
Awareness came to Dean first through smell, tickling his nose. His head, full of a cotton wool haze, could not quite decide if it was pleasant enough to open his eyes yet. He vaguely remembered turning up at Jo's late and hoped it was a dream or failing that – that he at least left, got blindly drunk, and was about to wake up in a nameless girl's bed.
The sound of something he was sure was much louder inside of his head coincided with a white light brightening behind his closed eyes. His body decided that the smell and outside world had to be much better than the party inside of his head and his lids involuntarily opened before closing again.
A groan escaped him. One eye cracked open.
Great, he muttered, I didn't even make if off the couch.
He lifted his head, which was a great accomplishment considering how heavy it felt, and looked down at his own body. He appeared to be slumped on the couch, one arm and leg hanging sluggishly off. The blanket had pooled at his feet. He thinks he remembers staying on the couch once Jo had left. He didn't lie down, he didn't stay sitting. He simply just slumped.
Another groan escaped as he raised his arm and wiped his hand across his face. He must have had at least two days stubble there.
"Hey" a voice said above him. He jumped, moving his hand away quickly to reveal Jo Standing above him. He was surprised she had managed to approach him without him hearing.
"Hey" he replied, blinking up at her. "You're lucky I don't have my knife under my pill…" he caught himself before adding, "cushion."
"Right" she drawled, smirking down at him. "Good thing I took the one out of your boot. The left one to be precise."
He moved, instantly, reaching for his boots only to find himself strangely bootless. Glancing up, hand still touching his ankle, he found Jo nodding.
"You were out for the count" She said, reaching out and rubbing his head. "Kinda cute. In a disturbing way."
He pushed away from her touch and caught her wrist.
"I don't do cute" he said, eyes moving to her freehand, catching sight of the chipped mug she was holding. "Coffee?" he asked hopefully.
She nodded. He released her wrist and reached for it, causing her to step back.
"I don't think so" she said raising the mug to her own lips. "This ones mine. You can get your own cup of caffeine from over there". She nodded her head in the direction of a small counter and table that he only could presume meant kitchen.
"My kind of breakfast."
He pushed of the couch, pausing only to slip on his boots and snagging the blade of the table, tucking it back inside. He made his way over to the counter and directly to the coffee pot. The smell was stronger now and he found himself stalling his movement, hand on the handle.
A motel room, somewhere in South Dakota, Rapid City. Sam at the computer, Dean at the counter, coffee in hand. Sam laughing at something he had had said. He couldn't remember what, hell he couldn't even remember the hunt.
All he knew was he'd never have those moments again. He squeezed his eyes shut, feeling them sting, a heavy flare in his chest…
"… so when I get back" Jo was saying, voice cutting through the memory, "We'll need to talk."
"Back?" Dean asked, clearing his throat.
"Yeah, from work" she replied, searching his face, "Didn't you hear what I just said?"
"Obviously not" he said, turning and filling his own mug. He gratefully took a gulp from it, relishing the smooth back liquid as it made its way down his raw throat and into his empty stomach. "It's too early for conversation."
"That's why I said later" she said. She reached around him and dropped her mug into the sink. He winced at the sound.
He found he couldn't move in their close proximity. It was an uncomfortable feeling and strangely alien to him.
"Look." He said, searching for the right words. "If this is about last nigh… I don't-"
"Later" she said, shaking her head. "Besides, that's not want I want to talk about."
He knew it wasn't, not really. But that didn't make it any easier.
He glanced away, trying to avoid her eyes. He asked himself why the hell he'd even came here.
"Hey" she said, trying to catch his eyes, "Later gives you time to think of the lines you're going to give me."
He smiled a fake smile.
As Jo went to turn away he suddenly reached out and snagged her arm.
"Work?" he asked suspiciously.
"That's what I said" she said, looking down at his hand clamped there. "Do you mind?"
"I thought you worked in bar?" His voice had taken a hard edge to it.
"I do" she said, still staring at the arm. She finally settled in trying to shake it off. "What's with the questions?"
She was becoming annoyed. He could see her other hand flexing and un-flexing. Somewhere, deep within his brain, he was sure there was a voice telling him not to piss off Jo Harvelle. It was like feeding a Gremlin after midnight.
"Since when do you do 8.30 starts?" he asked ignoring the flaring nostrils of the blonde girl in front of him.
"Since now" she said loudly. He tightened his hold on her arm, aware he was squeezing.
Jo stood defiant yet unmoving in his hold. He wondered if she had any intention of leaving, that maybe she was giving him a much needed release. Or maybe she was just itching for a fight.
Dean, however, maintained some semblance of rationality by accepting that he might be heading for an irrational meltdown. He hated it, but he needed to shake it of Jo, he needed her to see it for herself, for it to make sense.
"You've got a job" his words stabbed at her. The way Jo tilted her head at him made him realise he didn't need to elaborate on it.
"What? No" she exploded, now trying to pull from his hold.
"Seriously, Jo" Dean responded, grabbing at her arm again. He knew there was a hint of desperation; he wished he hadn't allowed it to creep into his throat. He gulped down, attempted to swallow it. "You know you shouldn't hunt alone."
He found his voice cracking instead. The flare in his chest was there again.
Jo stilled just as quickly as she started.
"Dean" she murmured quietly. Too quietly. Too gently.
He bit down on his lip. Actually tasted blood. He wanted to snap at her, he wanted to shout. But instead he bit down harder. He flinched as she reached for his arm and so she dropped it back down by her side.
"It is the bar" she said sincerely, pulling out of the now loosened hold. "There was a private party last night. Some dick and his friends messed the place up. We're supposed to do the tidy up this morning."
Dean felt his cheeks flush. He tried to push himself further into the counter.
"Sure" he said, cracking an awkward smile. "I forgot you're doing normal these days."
Jo had taken the opportunity to move out of the kitchen and backed up into the lounge. If Dean didn't know any better he would have thought she was being cautious.
"I don't do normal" she threw back at him with an equally uncomfortable smile.
"I'm gonna go" she said, gesturing with her head.
He nodded at her and then turned his attention back to his black coffee, getting lost in the reflection. He wondered who the distorted man staring back was.
At the sound of the front door closing, he slid down the counter, letting some of the hot liquid spill and scold his hand. He winced and flexed it; relishing the stinging sensation. He wished that Jo had actually fought him, left blood in his mouth, broken teeth and punctured lungs because anything was better than the ravaging acidic anger inside.
When Jo got home Dean was sitting back on the couch. He had one foot perched on an old storage crate that suspiciously had not been there before. There had, however, been several out the back. He held the remote and was flicking through the channels of the television.
As she passed, he glanced at her, and she looked quizzically at the crate.
"You needed a coffee table" he shrugged.
So as not to crowd him, she decided to sit at the small kitchen table. Going for the horns, she had made a decision not to let herself be dragged into any of Dean's dodge tactics.
"So" she attempted, "Why come here?"
"Does Ellen know how pokey this place is?"
"It's no worse than the motels' you've stayed in" Jo found herself goaded. Damn, he's good.
"That's different. We're never supposed to stay."
"Who says I will?"
Dean turned his attention back to the TV. She could imagine him saying to himself 'Job done.'
"Dean, why'd you com here?" she tried again.
"I was in the area" he offered, continuing to flick through the channels.
"Will you stop with the bullshit!" she snapped.
"You know" Dean resigned with a sigh, clicking the TV off with the remote, "Day time TV still sucks."
He stood and walked the short distance to where she sat, dropping heavily into the seat beside her and turned towards her.
"Okay" he drawled with pronunciation, "You've got my attention now."
"Don't be a prick" She admonished, pushing him away. "And answer the question."
When he didn't answer straight away, she grabbed his hand and squeezed tightly. "Talk."
"I don't know" she heard him say, head turned away. He didn't attempt to remove his hand from her painful grip. "He was there and then he wasn't. Bobby and Ellen – you can see how they feel" he said it bitterly, jealous almost. "And they were talking. Always talking. Their lips were moving and" a laugh – "I couldn't hear a thing."
He paused and she could she could hear it catch in his throat, "All I knew was Sam was there and now he's gone."
"Dean-" Jo tried to intervene, unsure of what say. She released his hand and dropped it back onto his arm.
"I just needed space" he said, "That's it, really."
"Then why come here?" she asked tentatively. She didn't want it to sound uninviting. She was curious and maybe, just a tiny bit, hopeful too.
He looked down at her arm and shook his head.
"I don't know. I just got in the car and drove. Headed to anywhere but there."
"I'm sorry" she offered for the hundredth time. By now, surely, those words had lost all meaning.
"I don't want your pity" Dean informed her, shaking her hand away. "I just needed time to think."
He turned and glanced at her again and for the briefest of seconds his eyes flashed with something she could not quite read. Anger, determination, fear? She wondered what the hell he was considering.
"You don't need to know?"
"Dean-" She was cut off by a knock on the door and they both jumped, pulling away from each other.
"Are you expecting someone?" Dean asked. He sounded apprehensive and betrayed.
She got up and quickly made her way to the front door, opening it to a man. Handsome, leather jacket, hands pushed deep into jean pockets. Strangely Dean like.
She heard Dean sigh behind her, followed by the scrape of his chair. There were no introductions, as the man pushed past her.
"Deuce!" he muttered, rushing forward and grabbing Dean by the face.
It was a rough movement and one she was pretty sure had hurt. But Dean didn't acknowledge any pain, didn't fight the man off as Jo would have expected, as he simply looked up at the slightly taller and older man.
"Why the hell didn't you call me?!" he asked, searching Dean's face for answers. He released him and quickly followed it up by enveloping him in his arms.
Jo saw Dean stiffen slightly and was taken aback when she saw him visibly relax within the hold. He actually turned his face into the older man's shoulder. These guys must have some kind of history together for such an intimate moment like this.
Who the hell are you to get that response?
"I don't know" Dean whispered into the leather. "I'm sorry."
"You've got nothing to be sorry for, Kiddo" he informed him. He let Dean pull away, not fully letting go, by sliding his arm around his shoulder. Dean kept his eyes aimed at the floor.
"How'd you find me?" she heard a mumble.
"Bobby" the man answered. She didn't miss the build up of tears that appeared. He caught her staring at him and blinked them away. "I Kind of felt it, you know. So I was already on my way. Ellen figured you'd come here."
"Wait!" she interrupted, poking her head out of the still open door. "Is she here?"
"No. Just me."
"Oh, shame" she muttered, sarcastically. She shook her hand through her hair. "Thought it was gonna be a party."
The man, arm still protectively wrapped around Dean's shoulder, looked at her. There was the unmistakable movement of his head as he looked at her from head to toe. A small grin formed at his lips. "So you're Jo."
"You've got five seconds to tell me who the hell you are" she said placing her hand on her hip and looking him in the eye.
He reached forward, offering his hand, amused.
"Reaves. Caleb Reaves."