TITLE: Prayer in the Night
SPOILERS: Season 2 - Season 4. I guess you could call this AU because it weaves Jo into the plot starting from season 3 and working it's way into season 4 - so you've been warned for all those people who haven't seen season 4 :D
AN: A huge massive thank you to Hannah for her awesome beta skills and for her guidance, as well as deanandjorecs for offering advice and reading over the fic to make sure it makes sense. I should also point out that this will be a long fic - I'm almost finished writing chapter 14 and I'm no where near done. So please be patient and I hope you enjoy it!
Joanna Harvelle collapsed heavily onto a pile of freshly turned soil and let out a deep groan. Six feet below, the bones, from a particularly bad tempered poltergeist, were smoldering away in the fire she had started in the old oak coffin. Several used matches lay discarded on top an empty bag of rock salt beside her.
Staring up at the inky night sky, she slowly stretched each of her aching limps while waiting for the bones to finish burning. After a few minutes she sat up. Chunks of grass and soil clung to her back, but she ignored them and stood up with a moan. Picking up her abandoned shovel, she waited until the fire died down before replacing the soil into the grave.
She frowned at the mess she had made. At the time she had been frantic to find the bones, and burn them before the ghost had a real chance to hurt the young family occupying its former residence. Now she wished that she had bothered to dig in a neat rectangle. The cemetery's grounds keeper was sure to notice the grave had been recently tampered with.
Jo quickly finished her work and ignored the little voice taunting her with the knowledge that the Winchester brothers could have done a better and neater job. Her fingers tightened on the shovel angrily. She knew it was stupid to compare her hunting skills to the Winchesters – they had been hunting since they could walk – but she had been working full time as a hunter for a year and a half now, and she was proud of her small achievements.
Jo stifled a sneezed. It was the middle of May and despite the approaching summer, it was still icy cold at night, and Jo could think of nothing but a long, skin scalding hot shower.
When she was finished, she loaded her brand new truck up with her equipment and left the cemetery. Before she checked into a motel, she performed a last thorough walk through the house and cleaned up any residual ecto plasm. Jo completed the job by calling the family to let them know it was safe to come home. The small family of four was most appreciative and forced her to take some money (which she had been embarrassed and awkward about accepting), and thanked her for handling the situation so quickly and privately.
At twenty minutes to midnight, Jo was in the shower - her skin quickly turning a bright shade of pink. While she lathered and rinsed the dirt, salt and blood out of her hair, she found her thoughts drifting towards her mom.
Since the destruction of the Roadhouse, Ellen Harvelle no longer forbade her daughter to hunt the supernatural. Instead, she surprised Jo by appearing in Duluth with a sad smile and a brand new truck. Jo had been prepared for another full-blown mother daughter argument, and was taken aback when Ellen had wrapped Jo in a hug, and apologized for months of arguments and ultimatums.
She had confided to Jo her deepest fears, insisting that she could never survive the death of her only child, but she understood why Jo wanted to destroy evil so desperately. Ellen promised not to stand in her way, so long as Jo kept in regular contact, and visited her as much as she could. Jo was startled by her mother's sudden change of heart - that is until Ellen revealed the truth of her visit. Dean Winchester had sold his soul to the devil in return for his brother's life, and had less than a couple of months to live.
Suddenly it all made sense. The strange missed calls on her phone from a private number, the silent two-minute long messages on her voice mail and the reason why Bobby sounded so distracted when she had called asking for help with a Japanese translation.
Jo wasted a whole month debating with herself about whether she should call the eldest Winchester. Eventually, after a couple of shots of tequila, she called him only to discover his phone had been disconnected. She wasn't one to believe in 'signs', but Jo had found herself hesitant to try tracking him down.
Too much time had passed and she had heard from her mom that he was up to his arms in demon's and monsters. Jo realized after a couple of months that she had been right not to track him down. After all, she was the one carrying the torch for him, and she probably wasn't the first or the last female to have her heart broken by Dean Winchester.
Jo contemplated the significance of the date with a painful pang to her heart. Earlier in the day she made the time to ring the new roadhouse's answering machine, and left a brief message, allowing her overly concerned mother to know that she was safe and that she loved her. Jo knew that her mom would be upset that she hadn't called earlier, but knew she would appreciate that Jo had called at all.
Jo leant forward, resting her head against the cool tiles, and closed her eyes. The hot spray worked it's magic as heat seeped into the stubborn muscles in her neck and allowed her to relax. When her cell phones alarm chimed midnight, her thoughts focused solely on Dean.
Her stomach muscles clenched, her heart began to race painfully and she shut her eyes tightly. Before she could think twice, Jo found herself stumbling awkwardly through a prayer. She prayed that Dean Winchester had someone managed to escape the clutches of hell and death itself.
She hadn't prayed to God in a very long time - not since the death of her Daddy. When Bill Harvelle hadn't returned home alive after a hunting trip, even though she had begged and promised a lifetime of good behavior to God, Jo decided that God had turned his back on her and so she had turned her back on Him.
'Please God,' she whispered into the small shower stall, clenching her fists tightly. 'Please don't let them take him to hell. Please, he has done so much good for you. How can you possibly let them take him? Please! I know I haven't prayed in a long time and I'm sorry but please, please, please save him. Please!'
The hot water suddenly evaporated and cold water streamed down her back. Jo stepped out from under the spray feeling exposed and embarrassed. 'Idiot!' She cursed herself for indulging in such fantasies and make-believe. 'As if God, if he even exists, would decide to grant me my wish just because I said please?' Disgusted with herself, she turned off the water as hard as she could and threw the curtains aside angrily.
Jo grabbed the stiff motel towel, and started to roughly dry her bruised skin. She stormed into the bedroom to grab her clothes and got dressed as quickly as she could. Jo was in no mood to take her time and enjoy the victory of another successful hunt tonight. Instead she was already thinking about the next job.
Grabbing her brush, she raked it through her wet hair and continued to scold herself for her earlier weak thoughts. 'The truth is that life sucks and it's up to YOU to make it worth something. Dean died having lived his life to the fullest and taking out as many evil SOB's as he could. He would mock you for praying to God – you might as well pray to the tooth fairy while you're at it,' she thought angrily.
'No more wishing for a nice sugar coated world', she decided. 'Tomorrow I am going out there and making sure evil knows they can't take this world without a fight.' She glared at her reflection in the mirror. She desperately wanted to do something to signify her new mantra - like cut her hair short - but she knew that the long blonde hair and petite face allowed her to gain more information from authority members and allowed her to play her different parts when she was inspecting new cases.
Jo was well aware of the fact that at first glance, people assumed she was just another schoolgirl, a perky young blonde haired girl who didn't have a secret knife collection or had seen the monsters that hide under children's beds at night. 'This is my best weapon,' she told herself. 'Keep the illusion prominent and I can use it to my advantage.'
Throwing her towel over the hook, she retired to bed with unresolved tension in her bones. In the dark it was harder to deny the feeling of sorrow and yearning deep down in her heart for the cocky hunter. She longed to see the smirk and the haunted eyes, and the thought that no one would see him again made her lungs hurt.
'I wonder if it hurt when he died?' She had read the stories, heard the gossip that the hellhounds would tear him from limb to limb. Jo shuddered and knew without a doubt that as much as she wanted to believe it - Dean did not die peacefully in his sleep. She hoped his younger brother was by his side when he died, and secretly wished Sam had just stayed dead.
She wanted to be shocked by the dark confession, and she wanted to believe that she might have made the same deal if she had a little brother that died. Jo didn't have a little brother - but once she had Ash, and when the news came of his death, she had wanted to do something drastic and life saving too.
But she didn't.
Instead she polished off a bottle of tequila and exterminated two poltergeists haunting an abandoned fishing trawler. She'd nearly drowned but when she stumbled onto the shore, throwing up half the ocean, she had felt better.
Jo closed her eyes and tried to repress the memories of Dean uselessly. 'Just tonight', she told herself when the tears started to well in her eyes. She wanted to scream out loud when the pain in her heart increased. She wished that she had better memories of him and hated that her most recent memory was riddled with rejection. Jo pulled her legs closer to her chest and hugged them tight. 'Tonight I can cry, but tomorrow its over. No more tears for any Winchester men'.
No sooner had she given in, the tears sprung free. A million different 'what if' scenarios trickled through her brain and with each new one, another tear stained the mattress. 'Why God? Why him? Why Ash? Why Dad? Why John? Why wont you take me?' She begged for the answers to her questions - but they never came.
Eventually she cried herself to sleep.
In the morning Jo awoke to a familiar hollow feeling. She got out of bed and tore the tainted sheets from the bed and dumped them on the floor. She slid into new clothes, packed her bag, removed salt from the windowsill and picked up her car keys. Tossing her bag in the tray of her truck, she checked her weapons cache in its secret compartment and dropped the room keys off to the motel owner.
She was on the road before the sun began to climb into the sky, and the memories of last night were left behind in the motel room. Jo took the next exit and settled into an eight-hour drive to her new hunt. Her phone sat in it's cradle beside the trucks CD player and blinked painfully that she had missed 3 calls and a message; all of them from her mother.
The only message she cared about had already been read the night before and remained saved to her SIM card.
'Jo, keep an eye on Sam for me - Dean'
As always - feedback is loved and adored and very much appreciated! :D