Notes: This is the last chapter, I hope everyone enjoys the final part and I love your comments!
'A Key to the Future'
The first thing Jo thought of as she came too was how bright it was. She blinked and moved her head away from the light source. As she did so her vision swam. She closed her eyes again and waited till the spinning stopped.
Slowly, she blinked and tried to focus. She was startled to see a heart monitor. She squinted and went to rub her eye when something heavy clunked against her head. She hissed against the pain and held her heavy arm in front of her. As soon as she saw the white plaster cast her memory came flooding back.
Jo turned her head. "Dean?" She whispered when she saw the familiar figure sitting beside her bed fast asleep. At the sound of his name his eyes flew open. He looked up at her.
"Hey." He said softly rubbing his eyes. "You're awake."
"The truck." She answered trying to sit up. "There was an accident. Another car. My mom…"She paused looking around the hospital room. "Where's my mom?"
"Hey, Hey." Dean tried to sooth her, placing a firm hand on her shoulder and tried to push her back down. "It's okay. You're both in hospital. You're safe."
"But my mom?" Jo repeated. "The car hit her side. I heard her scream." She struggled against him until she saw Bobby enter the room with two cups of coffee. "Bobby." She cried.
Bobby dumped the coffees on a table and hurried over to her other side. "Hey, you're awake." He said dropping a kiss on her forehead. "Are you in any pain?"
Jo shook her head, staring at Bobby's red puffy eyes. His baseball cap was no where to be seen. "My mom, Bobby. Is my mom ok?"
"I'll go let the doctor know you're awake." Dean excused himself and practically ran from the room.
"I want to see my mom." Jo insisted trying to sit up again. Her back began to spasm with pain but she gritted her teeth against it.
"Just relax Jo, you've been in a pretty big accident." Bobby informed her trying to gently keep her from getting out of bed. He needn't have bothered. As soon as she tried to roll onto her side the pain stopped her short. Her heart began to beat painfully against her chest and she found it hard to breathe. "Dean!" She vaguely heard Bobby shout. Jo fought to keep her eyes open. "Get a doctor in here!"
Jo saw a blur of white before she succumbed into unconsciousness again.
It was well into the next day before Jo opened her eyes again. This time she saw it was Bobby asleep beside her and Dean was perched at the end of her bed watching TV.
"Hey." She said sleepily.
He looked over at her and smiled. "Happy Birthday." He said gently switching the TV off. "How are you feeling?"
"Stiff." She admitted moving slightly. She was grateful to discover her back wasn't shooting with pain anymore.
"That'll be the drugs." He told her moving around to face her completely. "You should have seen the amount they doped you with. You kept waking up during the night moaning, so the doctor came in and upped your pain medication."
"How's my mom doing?" Jo asked glancing at Bobby who was currently drooling.
"The doctor said you can go see her when he checks you out." Dean motioned to the door. "Want me to go fetch him?"
Jo nodded and Dean jumped off her bed and went to find the doctor. Jo watched Bobby for a few moments while waiting for the doctor. Eventually a short man with a receding hairline and a white lab jacket entered with a smile. "I see you're awake now Miss Harvelle. That's good news." The doctor greeted.
"I was hoping to go see my mom." Jo asked hopefully.
The doctor nodded and stepped up beside her. "Now I want you to open your eyes up wide for me. That's it." The doctor pulled his pen light out and switched it on. He lent forward and examined her eyes. Jo squinted against the brightness. The doctor nodded. "Okay, good." He looked at her cast arm. "How's the pain?"
"Is my mom ok?" Jo responded.
"You're mom is in a medically induced coma right now." The doctor told her gently. "She obtained a lot of injuries in the accident and after a long surgery they only released…" The rest of the sentence didn't register with Jo. Her brain was still stuck on the words 'Coma' and 'Injuries'.
"Thanks, Doc." Jo looked up at Dean's voice. She looked back at the doctor and he smiled sympathetically at her.
"Why don't you just get some rest and we'll talk more later ok?"
"I want to see her." Jo said quietly.
"How about you just rest and I'll send a nurse in when you're clear to see her?" He left before she had a chance to respond. At that moment Sam appeared with a bunch of daises and an arm load of coffee's. He nudged Bobby awake and handed the flowers to Jo awkwardly. "Um.. happy birthday."
It wasn't until the next day, when Jo was able to walk around on her own and threaten nurses, that they let her see her mom. Bobby and Sam left to fetch Jo some new clothes from her apartment, leaving Dean to take Jo to Ellen's room.
For a long time Jo just sat at the end of Ellen's bed just staring. It was completely surreal for Jo to be looking at her mom in such a delicate state. With the help of a breathing ventilator, Jo was almost lulled to sleep by the rhythmic beating.
"The um… doctor said if you speak to coma patients they can hear you." Dean suggested awkwardly next to her. Jo nodded but her throat felt too thick to allow any words to come out. "Are you hungry or thirsty? I can get you something if you want?" Dean asked sounding so nervous that Jo couldn't help the small smile.
"Um, maybe a drink." She said understanding that he was feeling uncomfortable.
"Right. I'll go get one." He said and patted her shoulder before leaving. Jo watched him exhale once he was outside. Jo turned back to her mom.
"He's freaking out so bad, mom." Jo said touching her mom's foot gently. "He'd probably drive to Alaska for ice if I asked him too." She said with a forced smile. Jo paused, looking for some kind of a sign that her mother had heard her. Ellen remained still. Jo felt the tears return. "Please wake up Mom. Please. I promise I'll work hard and I'll call you everyday. Just please wake up."
The heart monitor continued to blip steadily. Jo wiped away the tears with the back of her uninjured hand. A knock sounded at the door. It was Sam. Embarrassed she wiped away any traces of tears and waved at him to come in.
"Hey." He greeted gently. "I got you some clothes." He said holding out a small bag to her. "And Bobby found this on your kitchen bench." He extended his hand to show her a small box wrapped in dark green paper with a silver bow. Jo took the present from him. "There was no card with it sorry." He apologised shoving his hands deep into his pockets.
Jo nodded and pulled off the bow. Slowly undoing the wrapping she pulled out a small black velvet box. As she opened the box a little piece of paper fluttered out. Jo put the box down and picked up the piece of paper.
'To my dearest Jo,
A key to your future.
Jo looked up at her mom. She could almost hear her mothers voice in her head as she re-read the note. Sam was peering over her shoulder trying to see what was in the box. Jo picked the box up again and pushed back the material to reveal an old fashioned black key. She picked up the key and analysed it.
"Huh." Sam said sounding disappointed. "Is it a metaphor?" He asked confused.
Jo smiled. "No." She said simply touching her mom's foot gently. "It's a key to an old jewellery box mom has. She never let me open it. She said, 'one day when you're old enough – I'll give you the key'. It killed me for years wondering what was inside."
"Cool." Sam said sounding curious.
"I got drinks." Dean announced entering the room. In his arms he held every kind of soda drink the hospital had, a bottle of water, a coffee and three kinds of juices. Jo rose her eyebrow at him as he set them all on the table. "I didn't know what you liked." He said motioning to the drinks.
Jo snorted and gave him a smile. "So you got all of them?"
"Except energy drinks." He told her but then his face fell. "Do you want them? I can go get them. I just thought it wouldn't be good for you after all that medication."
Jo couldn't stop the laugh that bubbled in her throat. "Dean." She said grinning. "This is fine." She told him and to assure him she picked up a bottle of orange juice.
"Can I have the coffee?" Sam asked looking hopeful.
"Go get your own." Dean said giving his brother a frown.
Jo shook her head and handed the coffee to Sam. To Dean she handed him the bottle of cola. Dean forced a smile. "Sorry."
Later that night, when the others had left for the motel to get some rest, Jo sat flicking through a magazine. She glanced beside her at her mom to check she was still unchanged and went back to the magazine.
"Oh mom, listen to this one 'Nine ways to keep your man from straying'." Jo read out loud flipping through the article. "You know I'm surprised that stringing him up and tying him to a bed isn't here. Oh wait… no.. that's a different kind of typing up." Jo told her with a grin. "I don't know why I read this crap but you just can't look away."
There was a knock at the door and Jo looked up. Dean was standing at the door. "Hey." He greeted.
"Hey. I thought you went with the others?" Jo said putting her magazine down.
Dean shook his head. "Didn't feel like sleeping." He admitted and hovered at the end of the bed. "Any change?" He asked looking down at Ellen. There was a sadness in his eyes that made Jo want to comfort him.
She shook her head. "No. None."
"I'm sorry, I should have just stayed at the motel."
"Why?" Jo asked confused. "I don't mind that you're here." She admitted.
"Really?" He asked unsure.
Jo nodded and looked at her mom. "Talking will keep me from my thoughts."
Dean moved to lean against the edge of the bed. "What kind of thoughts?"
Jo sighed and rubbed the back of her head, trying to keep her emotions at bay. "Regrets. What ifs? Etc." She told him honestly. She felt the sting of tears well in her eyes and fought hard against them. "What if we never went to dinner? What if I'd never come back to school? What if-"
"What if you never made that stupid deal?" Dean finished before he could stop himself. He looked down at his shoes angry with himself. Jo looked at him feeling a mixture of emotions.
"Please don't start on that." She pleaded upset with herself for starting the conversation. She didn't want to admit he was right. She didn't want Dean to know that all night she had been wondering if the moment she made the deal she had sealed her mothers fate. She didn't want to admit that after six months of not hearing a word from him, she was starting to wonder if she had just let him die she could of moved on.
"I'm sorry." He said still looking at the floor. "But I can see it written on your face." He hurried to explain. "I don't blame you Jo. But I warned you that something like this would happen. I told you not to make that deal."
"How can you say that?" Jo asked staring at him, a familiar tug of anger spooling in her stomach. "How can you be so heartless to come here and make me feel worse?"
"I'm not trying to hurt you Jo." Dean insisted finally looking up. He glanced over at Ellen. "I'm just-"
"Being a bastard." She finished. "I know. You're always being a bastard."
He didn't look at her. "Then why'd you make a deal for a bastard?"
Jo swore under her breath. "I really can't believe you are doing this right now, Dean." She said angrily. "Now after six months of disappearing. Six months earlier you could of talked to me about this, but you choose now?"
"Six months ago you still would have been in denial." He told her. He stepped away from the bed and faced the wall. "Six months ago you wouldn't have realised the sacrifice you made."
"I understood the sacrifice." She told him sharply.
"No you didn't." He insisted turning to face her. "Now you know what you gave away so foolishly."
"Why are you doing this?" She asked tears now springing free. She didn't bother wiping them away. "Why are you punishing me?"
"I'm not-" He paused frustrated and rubbed a tired hand over his face. "I'm just… I've lived the last six months with the guilt that I am living while others die. Three times I should have died Jo, and three times someone has stepped in and died in my place. Do you have any idea how hard that is?"
"Maybe it's because you are meant to live." She said. "Things happen for a reason."
"You don't believe that bullshit, I know you don't." He challenged her.
"How do you know anything about me, Dean?" She argued stepping towards him. "I haven't heard a single word from you. Neither of us has seen each other since that day."
"You haven't seen me." He said quietly.
"What?" She asked confused.
"I've seen you, but you haven't seen me."
"What?" She repeated.
Dean ducked his head embarrassed and walked over to the window on the other side of the room. He sighed and turned around. "I've been dropping in occasionally to check on you."
"You what?" Jo exclaimed.
"I just wanted to make sure you where ok. I didn't want to interfere in you're life, so I stayed out of sight."
"You've been spying on me?" Jo said looking disgusted. "So you drove halfway across the country to pop your head in, make sure I still had arms and legs and then took off again?"
"Pretty much." He admitted quietly.
"And you didn't think that was unfair because?"
"I told you." He said walking towards her. "You had a brand new life and I didn't want to come in a ruin it."
"I was miserable." Jo exclaimed. "If you had of looked closer you would of seen that I was struggling to keep a brave face." She sighed and looked down at her necklace. She had already strung the key onto the silver chain Dean had given her and it was resting comfortably against the protection charm. She touched it lightly and felt the strength to admit how she felt. "All I wanted was some kind of sign from you that you where ok."
"Sam sent you emails." Dean reminded her gently.
"But they where from Sam." She said still gazing at the charm. "I needed a message from you." She felt more tears slip down her face. "I needed to know that you had forgiven me for being in love with you."
"What?" She heard him gasp. She looked up at him and saw a million emotions flutter across his face. He reached up and gently wiped away her tears. "Jo." He started slowly. His eyes where searching hers franticly, as if trying to figure out if she was in any way lying to him. She continued to look him straight in the eye until he bent his head and gently pressed a kiss to her lips.
At first she was too shocked to respond, but as his hands pulled her closer she began to respond. She closed her eyes as all the pent up tension spilled free and she kissed him passionately. Jo felt his hands tighten against her until eventually she had to pull free for oxygen. She gazed at him unsure and saw the vulnerability in his eyes. "Does that mean you forgive me?" She asked gently.
A smile broke across his features. "I…" He took a deep breath and whispered to her. "I think I love you too." Jo grinned and pulled him closer, the kiss more passionate this time. She threaded her fingers through his hair and felt giddy as his hands roamed her back. Jo felt the room buzz in her ears.
The buzzing began to grow louder until she was forced to pull away. She narrowed her eyes at him trying to determine the source of the noise until she finally looked away from him. Jo's eyes searched the room until her eyes fell upon her mother. A serene smile was frozen on Ellen's face. Jo felt Dean's grip tighten on her protectively. Jo's eyes flickered to the screen beside Ellen's bed.
The heart monitor had flat lined............