A/N: This is the final chapter! Firstly I want to start off by saying, 'Woohoo! I never thought I'd make it!' and secondly I want to say sorry to the long wait for the final installment. A big shout out goes to Reporter Girl and Vanessa for putting up with me, for listening to me rant about ideas at odd hours of the night, for proof reading a dozen different versions, and for giving me so much support and confidence. A big thank you also goes to every single person who has commented and left feedback. I can't express how much it means to me, except to say I could never have finished this without you all. Supernatural fans rock! I can't wait to hear what you think of this ending. Hate it or Love it, I really hope it was worth waiting for.
Okay enough with the chit-chat, lets do this!
PS. Stayed tuned for a later update with the soundtrack list that accompanies this story.
'By the time I get to ten'
Dean stood at the threshold bewildered. An exact replica of the long dead John Winchester rose up from the couch to confirm his question. "In the flesh," he greeted with a wry smile. He made to move towards Dean, his hands extended with the offer of a hug, when Dean pounced; revealing a lethal looking hunting knife clenched in his hand.
"Dean, wait! I've already-" Sam cried out in warning, but the knife slid cleanly across the impostor's bicep. Dean quickly retracted his hand, ready to defend himself if need be, and placed himself between the thing and his younger brother. Adrenaline streamed through his veins, his limbs itching for action; but the impostor showed no signs of anger or retaliation. Instead, the John Winchester clone retrieved a bloodstained towel from the couch, and applied it firmly to his arm. "Dean," Sam urged, reaching out to touch Dean's stiff shoulder in assurance. "I've already done every test there is - it's really dad."
Eyebrow raised, Dean did not relax his stance even after the impostor seated himself on the edge of the couch. He stared at the being in front of him, studying him for any single flaw that would give evidence to justify the misgivings in the pit of his stomach. "Sam, what's going on?" He narrowed his eyes on the distinctive stray strands of grey hair just above the impostors' ear. The same scattered amount he had noted the last time he had seen his father alive. Hope rattled dangerously against Dean's taunt ribcage.
"Can't a father just visit his sons?" The impostor asked, waving Sam off when he picked up his duffle bag in order to fetch the first aid kit.
"Not when you're supposed to be a pile of ash," Dean countered, lowering his knife ever so slightly. He straightened up from his slight crouch, and squared his shoulders, his jaw tense. "If you really were my dad, you'd be chewing my ass off already for not shooting you the moment I walked through the door."
"If I was here to chew you out kid, not shooting a stranger would be at the bottom of a very long list." The man sighed, and shuffled backwards until he was leaning against the back of the couch. He lifted the towel slightly to inspect the knife wound. "So this is what happens when I leave you to hold the fort for one minute - you decide to take on the Devil? You definitely inherited that from your mothers side of the family."
Dean's lips twitched with the desire to smirk, but he repressed it. He glanced over at Sam, who was still clutching the first aid kit, when a waft of an all too familiar scent of his dads aftershave left him riddled with doubt. Dean could not deny that stranger things had happened in his life, yet his stubborn nature kept his hope on a short leash. "You're not my dad."
"Says me," Dean snapped, raising the knife again and rounding on the stranger. He grabbed a fist full of the impostors' warm, buttery soft leather jacket. "Say's common sense-"
"What would you know about common sense?" The impostor bit back, startling Dean by snatching his wrist from his jacket, and twisting Dean's arm until his own knife was pressed against his back. Dean attempted to wiggle free from the stronghold, but he'd never been one to escape the famous John Winchester back pin. "Do you know how many times I would have loved to march down here and smack you seven ways from Sunday, son?"
"Don't you dare lecture me!" Dean snarled, and quickly darted free when he felt a slight slack in the pressure of John's grip. He rubbed his wrist, tossing a quick five second glare at his brother for not coming to his defence, before turning on John. "You dumped us in this mess. You left me unprepared, and with nothing but a shit load of questions and half assed orders."
"You think I wanted to leave you boys like that?" John argued, tossing the blood soaked towel on the ground. "I would have given anything to stay and protect you. Fight with you. Fight for you! I did the best I could at the time, Dean. In fact you have already proved that you're also willing to do what ever it takes to protect your family." Dean shook his head, avoiding Sam's eyes and crossing his arms across his chest defensively.
"Why are you here?" Dean muttered peevishly.
"Dean-" Sam tried to break in.
"Don't, Sam." He held up his hand to silence his brother, and turned his gaze on John. "Did heaven give you a hall pass now that the danger is over, and all the hard work is done?"
John shook his head, and squeezed the bridge of his nose with his fingers. Dean blinked. He knew that hand gesture anywhere. It was a stalling technique his dad used when he was trying to come up with some grand lie to cover up the truth. Dean had seen it repeatedly through his childhood; none more so then when Sam started asking where their mom was. "Get out."
Sam whipped his head towards Dean in surprise. "But it's really dad, Dean. Trust me, I know-"
"Trust me, Sam." Dean insisted. "Real or not he's about to unload some serious BS, and I refuse to listen to it after the day I've had." He tossed his knife on the bed and promptly sat down on the edge of it while he began to loosen the laces on his boots. "You wasted your time coming here. You're two years too late."
"Dean, wait. Dad said-"
"He's right, Sam," John interrupted. He sighed and took one of the bottles of beer from the small coffee table and took a long gulp. "The real reason I came here wasn't because the Angels thought you boys deserved a personal congratulations."
"Told you," Dean mumbled and kicked his left boot off. His brother glared at him, before turning back to John.
"I'm here for, Dean."
Dean froze, where as Sam's body seemed to deflate. He sunk down on the bed beside Dean, his expression clearly reading disappointment. "You're here for him? What does that mean? Where are you taking him?"
"Relax kid before you give yourself a aneurism," John quipped with a grin. "I'm not here to give Dean his marching orders. He's not going anywhere unless he gets it into his thick skull to auction off his soul again." He paused, giving him a patronising look. "Nice going by the way bone head, what were you thinking leaving your brother here alone like that and with that guilt?"
"What can I say?" Dean growled, kicking his remaining boot off. "I'm my fathers son."
"No, you're your mothers son."
"Huh?" The two brothers echoed sharing a confused look.
"Never mind." John silenced them. "As I was saying." He cast a warning look at Dean. "Dean's not going anywhere. In fact Dean won't be going anywhere - unless he gets his act together and mans up to the task at hand."
"When your mother died…" John paused briefly, a flash a pain illuminating his eyes before it was quickly replaced with a look of determination. "Dean, I understand what you're going through-"
"Really?" Dean interrupted, his hands balling into fist. "Cos I don't think you would be here giving me a guilt trip if you did, and if that's all you came here to do than forget it, you wasted the trip – I'm done listening."
John's face hardened and for a second Dean thought the man was going to strike him. After a few tense minutes of silence, John spoke through gritted teeth. "I'm only going to say this once kid, so listen good.-"
"Like hell I do!" Dean exploded. "Don't you dare sit there, and act all high and mighty… like you're some loving, caring dad." He frowned. "If you really are dad, cut the crap and tell us what you want."
"Why do you have to make everything so hard for yourself, Dean?"
"You tell me, Dad?"
"Dean, stop." Sam pleaded. "Dad said he couldn't stay very long."
"Colour me surprised."
John stood up, placing his beer on the table. "I told your mother this would be a waste of time. You're too stubborn for your own good. You're just like me in that regard I guess, but I thought seeing as you've got a son of your own that you might have matured enough to take some advice when it's given to you."
"What advice?" Dean grunted, folding his hands across his chest.
"Pull your head out of your ass."
"You heard me," John insisted. He placed the beer down on the table firmly. "Don't you go making any wise cracks, you're not Mr Innocent anymore, and you've got a lot to make amends for." When Dean dropped his gaze to the floor bitterly, John let out a heavy sigh and stood up. "You want to know why I'm here, Dean?" Dean continued to stare at the floor, his gaze burning a hole in the stained carpet. His jaw ached from clenching it so hard. "The truth is, I can't watch you destroy yourself anymore. I'll be the first to blame myself for you being the way you are, but I'm here to tell you son, enough is enough."
"What are you talking about?" Sam asked, glancing from Dean to their dad.
"I'm talking about Jo, Sam." John responded, his gaze never wavering from Dean.
Dean sniffed, and began to pick at a stray strand on the edge of his shirt. "What's she got to do with anything?"
"Lets start with how you're in love with her, Dean."
"Oh come on!" Dean protested looking up at his dad with irritation.
"Don't 'oh come on' me, kid. From one man to another, you are wasting the best thing that'll ever happen to you." John shook his head sat down on the edge of the couch. "Look, I know how you're feeling. When your mother died… I went crazy. I lost my mind. I was wracked with guilt, I was angry, I was scared and I was mourning the loss of my whole world." He paused to take a deep breath before continuing. "I know that right now everything feels like a mess. But Dean, your brother and I know that despite everything that has happened, you're still in love with her."
"He's right, Dean." Sam pleaded, nodding his head. "What Dad is saying is true."
"Oh great. So now you two are ganging up on me?"
"Dean," John lectured. "You know that if anything happened to her you'd regret it for the rest of your life."
Dean jumped to his feet, his eyes wide. "Are you trying to tell me that something's gonna happen to Jo?"
John raised his eyebrow curiously at Dean's reaction. "No. But your reaction to the idea is proof enough that you still care about her."
Sitting back down, Dean released a long weary sigh and hung his head. "Yeah, well, it doesn't matter anyway. She made it clear that it was over the last time when saw each other."
"And whose fault is that?" Sam jumped in. "You didn't even give her a second to explain. You just stormed off. What was she supposed to do? Crash tackle you?"
"What does it matter anyway? What's done is done. Too much has happened-"
"Stop making excuses," John warned. "How about you be honest with yourself for a change? It's time to start making some choices, kid. Smart ones."
Dean rolled his eyes, and released a frustrated groan. "Dad, I'm not-" He stopped short when he realised that his dad had vanished into thin air. He glanced over at Sam, who was glancing around the room in search of their father with a disappointed frown. "Typical." Dean muttered bitterly, and threw himself backwards so that he was now lying on the bed. He stared up at the ceiling, mulling over the conversation while his brother quietly moved about the room, gathering up the empty beer bottles.
"Hey Dean?" Dean grunted in response. A few moments of silence passed between them before Sam swallowed and finally voiced what Dean had been too afraid to say himself. "Do you really think that was Dad?"
Dean sat up slowly, trying to come up with the right answer. "I honestly don't know." His brother nodded with confirmation, but didn't press the matter any further. Dean felt a familiar pang throb inside his chest while he watched Sam leave the room to have a shower. Once the water was nosily rushing through the pipes above his head, Dean lay back down on the bed.
'Why, out of all the times we really needed him did he decide to come back now?' Dean wondered, searching the stained ceiling above him for answers. 'And what was all that stuff about Jo such a big deal to him? Dad was always about protecting Sam, that was my job, my own priority in the world – and now… he didn't even mention how badly I had screwed up with Sam and the whole Ruby and Lucifer thing. There's no way that was Dad. This has got to be another one of Heaven's tricks – but why?'
Dean's restless fingers found his cell phone wedged deep in his jeans pocket. He frowned, deliberating whether or not Jo had received a similar visit from a dead loved one. He couldn't help but worry about her own reaction to a similar visit and considered her response if that visit was from her father.
Before he could change his mind, he pulled his phone free from his pocket and began to dial Jo's number – only the find that the number had been disconnected. Dean tried again and received the same pre-recorded reply.
Sam exited the bathroom, hair slicked back and carrying his shaving kit. Dean barely noticed his brother's troubled expression as he made for the door. "Where are you going?" Sam asked, sounding anxious.
"I just have check something in the car."
"I'll just be a sec-"
"I have her new number."
Dean whirled around, barely containing his surprise. "W-Whose number?"
Sam reached over and pulled his phone out of his bag and tossed it towards Dean. "Bobby gave it to me. He said regardless of your feelings, it's safer and smarter if we know how to get in touch with one another." Sam smiled, but the look didn't quite meet his eyes. "He also said you'd cave eventually."
With a roll of his eyes, Dean slipped outside quietly. He paused once he had shut the door behind him, his thumb hesitating on the call button. He glanced up briefly at the night sky; feeling like a battle was raging on inside his head. Eventually after a quick shake of his head, Dean made his way to the Impala, opened the door, and lowered himself heavily onto the drivers seat.
One deep breath later, he closed his eyes, hit call and waited for her to pick up.
"Huh," Jo responded, rolling her sore shoulders back and forth while admiring her work. "That went surprisingly well."
"Well?" A voice squeaked beside her. "You just full on killed a zombie like Buffy or something. A real, freaking I'm-going-to-eat-your-brains-for-dinner zombie!" The tight black jean clad teenage boy pointed at the fresh grave in front of them. "A real zombie! And you just cut her head off like you were just trimming the hedges or something. I'm going to need therapy for like, FOREVER!"
"You're welcome." Jo grunted, and picked up her shovel and slung it over her shoulder. The two high school boys trailed behind her nervously as she headed towards the track that led to her truck. She tried to block out their endless whispering by humming to herself.
" - no one is every going to believe us."
"You think I want the whole world to know that we were nearly eaten by your grandmother? Or the fact that we were saved by a some skinny blonde chick?"
Jo's eyebrows raised. She didn't think she was that skinny? She was normal sized. Even after being pregnant, though in her defence it wasn't a normal pregnancy, she had returned to her regular size and Jo thought that was fine.
"- what about when she staked Nanna? I thought that was what you did with vampires?"
"First of all; 'Nanna'? Dude, that was not the little old lady that used to sneak us five dollars when your mom wasn't looking. That was a.. a.. well I don't even know what to call it! All I know is, is that I am never EVER reading a book that isn't approved by my fifth grade English teacher – that's if I ever read anything ever again!"
Jo paused, and turned around to face the two teenagers with an amused smile. "You should listen to your friend; he's a smart guy." She replied brightly.
The lanky, long greasy haired boy who had been the one who had accidentally risen his grandmother, gripped his friends arm. "Just so we are clear, umm, she can't come back again can she?"
"Did you make any more copies from the book I just burnt?"
"Are you planning on brining anyone else back from the dead to increase your popularity?"
Jo smiled, and patted the kids' shoulder. "Than you'll be fine." The boy didn't look convinced. Jo sighed. She was irritated, and was feeling unusually strained from the light tussle with the overzealous rotting carcass bent on eating her grandson. "Just avoid ordering Wicca books off the internet again, ok? Especially when you don't know what it is you're cooking up."
The kid nodded, bitting his already buttered cracked lips. "Okay." He glanced at his friend and nodded at him before turning to her. "Thanks… um again.. for your help." He started to walk back to the car to join his friend, who was currently muttering about puking his guts up, when he stopped and whirled around. "You're not going to tell my mom about this are you? Because I'd be grounded for life."
Rolling her eyes, Jo shook her head. "No, Liam. You're safe. Just try and stick to video games ok?"
"Are you kidding? You'll be lucky if I watch something other than a Disney movie after what we just saw."
Jo pointed at the kid's friend. "Maybe you should get him home before he passes out… again."
"Sure. Ok. Bye."
Climbing into her truck, Jo waited until the boys had driven away in their borrowed mini van. Despite the dull pain at the base of her spine and the stiffness in her neck, Jo decided to keep on driving on to Tulsa instead of spending another night in Pine Bluff. Bobby had informed her the night before that there seemed to be a ruckus of the poltergeist variety bothering a newly rebuilt retirement home.
Mentally making a check list of all the things she'd need for the new hunt, Jo was about to turn onto the highway when her phone beeped, indicating a text message. Keeping her eyes on the road, she fumbled around her duffle bag until she found her phone. Flipping it open, she was surprised to see two missed calls and a message. Her surprise turned to irritation when she read who the message was from.
Rolling her eyes, Jo closed her phone and placed it in the cup holder. 'Hey? After all this time he randomly texts, Hey'? What the hell?' She mused, while hitting play on her cd player. She tilted her head to the left, trying to stretch out the stiff muscles in her neck and eliminate the headache brewing inside her skull. A stray thought of a hot shower and a warm bed taunted her, and brought out a frown on her face. She kept driving.
Her phone beeped again, and she deliberately counted to fifty before she let her curiosity get the best of her, and she read the message.
Jo – Bobby gave me your number – call me back.
Screwing her face up, she snapped the phone shut again, and tried to pay attention to the dark endless road in front of her. She shifted in her seat, trying to negotiate a comfortable position, but her spine wasn't having it. A weather damaged sign up ahead indicated a motel with free cable.
Her phone beeped again, but she ignored it. With a defeated sigh she took the next exit and headed towards the motel. 'A quick shower and straight to bed', she reasoned with herself, 'and it's back on the road by sunrise'.
It was a whole hour later before Jo finally extracted herself from the steamy bathroom. She crossed the small room, drying her long blonde hair with a towel, and tried to avoid the floor to ceiling mirror acting as a room divider. Her expression ultimately caught her attention and forced her to stop and study herself critically in the mirror.
Turning sideways, she lifted her tank top and analysed the stretch marks adorning her sides with a disgruntled frown. "How wonderful," she muttered pulling her shirt down firmly. "I suppose I have wrinkles too?" She leant forward, inspecting her forehead while manipulating her features with numerous expressions.
Feeling thoroughly depressed and in dire need for something sugary, Jo wrestled her hair into a pony tail, and pulled on a jacket. Her boots sat where she left them by the front door, so she slipped into them without bothering with the laces and swept her keys and knife up from the table. Knife hidden, she opened the door and came face to face with Dean.
Startled, she took a step back and instinctively grabbed the door ready to slam it shut. "Dean?" She rasped. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to see you," he answered sounding annoyed. "I did try calling you half a dozen times, and when you didn't answer I thought I'd make sure you weren't dead."
Scoffing, Jo went to slam the door shut in his face when he stuck his foot forward to stop it shutting. Annoyed, Jo frowned at him. "Fine. I'm alive. See you around."
"Goodbye, Dean." Jo kicked his foot out of the way and was about to shut the door completely when he swore.
"Fine! Be that way, I didn't mean to interrupt your extremely busy life – I'll go." He pivoted on his heel, jamming his fists deep into his pockets, and stalked off towards the Impala parked across the parking lot.
Feeling irritated, (and if she was honest - guilty), Jo closed the door when she heard him curse and storm back towards her room. Jo held her breath as he pounded on the door until she was worried that he might actually break it down and she opened the door.
"Look Jo, I know you're all Miss Independent now and I get it, I really do, and I know that I've got no right showing up here and expecting you to be all forgiving-" Jo's stomach clenched as she took in his wide frantic eyes, and his flushed cheeks. A quick glance at the rest of his dishevelled appearance and she realised that Dean looked exhausted, anxious and nervous. He was not the man she expected to see after months of silence and a hateful goodbye.
Doubt began to invade her mind, and for the first time since LA Jo began to wonder if she had been wrong all those lonely months. "Dean-"
"- I just drove eight hours to see you and I had this whole speech planned and –"
"Dean!" Jo interrupted, with a raised voice. She tried to school her thoughts and the suddenly surging emotions into a clear sentence. However all that tumbled out was, "Have you got any candy?"
Dean stared at her incredulously, his eyebrows slowly bunching together in confusion. "Huh?"
"There's a gas station down the road," she explained taking a tentative step forward while shutting the door behind her. "Wanna come for a walk?" She started to walk off in the direction of the gas station without waiting for an answer, leaving Dean to splutter behind her.
After a few anxious heartbeats later, Dean's heavy footsteps crunched after her. Jo was almost too embarrassed to admit to herself that deep down she was relieved that he had followed her.
A tense and nervous energy started to crowd around them while they walked down the highway in silence. Sneaking a glance at Dean out of the corner of her eye, she realised he was whispering something under his breath. "Dean, are you practising your speech?" A burst of laugher caught her by surprise as pure joy erupted from deep within her. She couldn't remember the last time she laughed so hard.
Dean looked put out for a few seconds before admitting his embarrassment with a bashful chuckle. "It was a long drive, ok? I wanted to get it right."
Her boisterous laughter drowned out the rest of his protests.
Anthony tried to feign surprise when he heard the fluttering of wings behind him. Trying to look like he hadn't spent the entire night sitting on an uncomfortable bench seat outside a two star motel room, he greeted Castiel with a forced cheerful smile. "Hey Cas, beautiful morning isn't it?"
"You would know – I'm sure you managed to observe the sunrise from your position." Castiel did not seat himself beside Anthony, instead he observed the dew covered Impala in front of him with obvious suspicion.
The young Angel cringed in anticipation of the long lecture the older Angel would most likely force him to endure. Not only had Anthony blown off his shift as prayer watcher that night, but he had also broken Castiel's promise that he would no longer interfere with his parents' life. He stole a quick glance up at Castiel in an attempt to gauge how furious the Angel was with him.
To his surprise Anthony discovered a fond smile had crossed the Angels smooth features. Following the trench coat clad Angels' line of vision; he scrutinized the occupied motel room across the parking lot. It was the only one in the building with the shades drawn.
"I had to come see for myself," Anthony spoke up, trying to appeal to the unflappable Angel. "When I heard the whisperings about Dad driving resolutely all night, I had to see if it was all going to work out."
"And has staring at a closed door all night fed those doubts?"
Anthony sighed, shrugging his shoulders. He couldn't lie to Castiel, and the truth was he had been seconds away from figuring out a way to enter the motel room undetected, and that really would have gotten him into trouble with the others. "No," he admitted dejectedly. "I'm dying to know what's going on inside."
"You do not appear ill."
Anthony grinned, and leant back against the bench. "Funny, Cas. That was a good one."
Castiel bobbed his head up and down in acknowledgement. "It has been made apparent that so long as your mother continues to draw sigils on the doors to keep out prying eyes, you will remain disappointed. My suggestion is that the best course of action is to return to your duties unless instructed otherwise."
Anthony sighed and stood up from the bench sullenly. "Yeah. Fine. Let's go then, Boss."
Castiel's sudden firm hand on his shoulder stopped Anthony from departing, and he was unable to hide his surprise at the gesture. Castiel lowered his voice, his face drawn tight with reproach. "I would also suggest an immediate revision of the rules set in place about impersonating ones deceased relatives - regardless of misguided intentions."
Cheeks flushing red with shame, Anthony looked down at the ants scurrying about franticly under his feet. He new instantly what Castiel was referring to, and he couldn't fault the Angel for reprimanding him. He had known very well that there would be consequences for masquerading as his deceased grandfather. "But Cas, I wouldn't have had to do it if Grandpa John agreed to come himself!"
Without looking surprised, Castiel responded calmly. "I believe he was wise to decline your offer."
"But you saw Dad's reaction!" Anthony cried out exasperated. "No one else can talk sense into him like Grandpa John can, and when he refused to listen to you I knew I had to do something-"
"Manipulating a human's emotions in order to achieve ones personal goals is forbidden – these rules are mandatory for everyone. You are not above reproach Anthony; you are the one who is supposed to lead by example."
Castiel squared his shoulders, and stared authoritatively down at the younger Angel. "This matter is not open for debate. I shall give you one moment to collect yourself and then we depart immediately for counsel. I warned you Anthony, and given your unique situation I have left you to your own devices, but now the others insist that I take action."
"I'm in really big trouble aren't I?"
Castiel did not answer him immediately. Instead he upheld his commanding stance and lifted his gaze up at the sky. A miniscule smile ghosted the edges of his lips. "It is nothing that you cannot endure." He eventually replied. "But make no mistake Anthony, you may have inflicted more harm than good. It was childish and foolish of you to manipulate your mothers destiny by changing-"
"What are you talking about?" Anthony stepped back aghast. "I didn't touch her, I swear. All I did was give dad a talking to. I didn't do anything other than that."
Castiel raised his eyebrow in disbelief. "Then if you did not - ?"
The two Angels turned to stare at the motel in front of them. Just then the motel owner rounded the side of the building, a broom in hand. He spotted the two men and began to approach them warily. "Are you two fellas after a room?"
Anthony shook his head. "No, we were just leaving."
The motel owner analysed them with an apprehensive look. Castiel motioned to the Impala in front of them. "We require gas – where would we purchase some?"
"Smooth, Cas." Anthony hissed, sending the Angel a quick glare.
"Okay then." Despite sounding doubtful, the owner look relieved by Castiel response, and turned around to point down the road. "There's a gas station down the street there. You can't miss it. If you need-" he turned around only to find Castiel and Anthony had disappeared.
A large smile crossed his worn features, and he leant against his broom while looking up at the sky. "Bunch of chuckleheads." He shook his head and reached over to the Impala and ran a gentle hand over the bonnet. The dew instantly evaporated and the Impala sparkled in the sunlight. "Such a beautifully designed machine."
Picking up his broom, the owner resumed walking to the check in desk with a smile and light bounce in his step.
Meanwhile in room twenty-four, Jo awoke from a blissful deep sleep. Releasing hold of the hunting knife under her pillow, she sat up in bed, and blinked sleep out of her eyes.
Wedged uncomfortably on the couch under the window, Dean slept soundly, drool pooling on the pillow under his face. Jo felt a warm feeling creep into her heart as she observed him, and she hugged her knees to her chest.
Despite having talked until the very early hours of the morning, Jo felt the long overdue sensation of peace wash through her. Though traces of guilt still lingered deep in her bones, (and she suspected they always would), Jo realised that something had changed overnight.
Dean grunted something in his sleep and rolled over, the movement causing him to land heavily on the floor. Jo tried to suppress her giggle with her hand, but Dean's well-trained ears heard her, and he frowned at her over his shoulder.
"Sleep well did we?"
"You have no idea," she responded with a leisurely smile. "You?"
"Never better," Dean grunted while pulling himself back up on the couch. "What time is it?" He lazily scratched his bare chest while a series of yawns followed his question.
Jo checked the clock on the nightstand. "Pretty late."
Dean nodded and with a crack of bones he stood up and began to stretch. "Well we better get going if we're going to make Tulsa before midnight."
"I didn't invite you to come hunting with me." Jo reminded him tersely, climbing out of bed.
"I know." Dean quipped with a cheeky grin. "And I didn't say you could keep my shirt." He reached over and tugged her towards him, planting a soft and sweet kiss on her lips. "And yet I don't see you taking it off any time soon."
Jo raised her eyebrows. "You want your shirt back?" With a smirk, she lifted the shirt up over her head and tossed it at his face. "Here you go, Winchester. Now go fetch us some coffee, and I'll think about letting you come hunt with me."
Dean grinned, letting the shirt fall from his face. His smile grew wider as she sashayed from the bed to the bathroom dressed in only her underwear. "Yes Ma'am." He saluted and his comeback was answered with a closed bathroom door.
Pulling on his t-shirt, Dean recognised her scent wafted up from his shirt. With a smug expression, he yanked his boots on and grabbed his car keys, barely remembering to grab his sunglasses as he headed out the door. Locking the door behind him, Dean slipped his phone out of his pocket and hit speed dial.
"Hey Sam, it's me – there's been a change of plans…"