Title: Fields of Paper Flowers
Summary: Jo has become separated from Ellen in the early days of a bleak future. Believing Ellen in danger, Jo makes a desperate deal with Lucifer-possessed-Sam. Too late, she realizes what his terms really mean: she's his. Always his. His to tease, his to torment, his to break.
Disclaimer: Supernatural was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is intended.
Notes: One line from 'The End' -- past Dean speaking to future Dean -- has stayed with me: "Oh man, something has been broken in you." Thank you for all of the reviews and for taking the time to read this piece.
It was time.
Lucifer had tested the tone of the world, Dean Winchester, and Jo's mental state. All was ready, as it should be. The time had come to bring the elements together and watch the result of all his hard work come to pass.
He had no further use for Marta. Jo would drift along fine without her. It wasn't necessary to have a handler for her anymore. Reaching out with one hand, he snapped her neck while Jo and Meg watched. It was a quick death, more than she deserved. He'd no patience to make it linger, not when better things awaited. He found himself excited by the coming events.
Meg accepted her assignment with pride. Such an important task she had. She was to go to Dean and tell him where Jo was. Nothing more. Who would understand just how important that one thing was? So few grasped how events all had to work together to achieve one end. He watched her wriggle in her meat suit like an overeager puppy, ready to go the second he said to.
"Your rewards will be many for this act of service," he told her, placing a hand on her head much like a faith healer to a supplicant. "I do promise. Your loyalty has been a beacon to others, an example of the greatest of my own."
She turned her face up to his hand. He allowed it this once. "The honor of this…. I'm overwhelmed."
And so she should be. To his right, Jo watched them, a vacant expression in her eyes. Right at this moment, he almost had an affection for Jo Harvelle, the final catalyst in his eventual triumph over Dean Winchester. The journey with her had been a long road, yet in the end, she'd been shaped as he'd known she would, her body, mind, and soul bending and twisting beneath her choices.
Flicking his gaze back to Meg, he nodded. "Make me proud."
Sitting Jo down, Lucifer talked to her in a soft voice. She was going to move to another location and soon, the culmination of all of his plans for her would transpire. He could hardly wait.
He swept his fingertips along her cheek in a gentle caress.
It was going to be beautiful.
Jo drifted in and out of reality, her mind refusing to lock on to one or the other. Sometimes, she'd be talking to Sam and realize he wasn't there. Or Meg, or Marta. Awake, asleep, it no longer mattered which was which.
Her fear was finally gone.
It was not usual procedure to let herself get caught. In fact, it flew in the face of everything Meg had ever done, but she did it. She did it because Lucifer'd asked it of her. From the very first time she'd met Dean Winchester, Meg had wanted to snap him in two. Every time after that meeting she'd wanted to torture him, make him hurt emotionally and physically. She wanted to look him in the eyes, watch the hopelessness take him over, and drink in the fear inside him. The times she'd hurt him had given her such satisfaction!
These long months she'd wanted to tell Jo what was happening. How Jo had been picked because of her connection to Dean. The woman he'd been afraid to get close to. The potential of that emotional connection they'd shared. Lucifer had known everything Sam had known straight from Dean's mouth. How Dean cared for Jo and how Dean would do anything to save someone he considered one of his own. Meg had wanted to share it and had restrained herself because Lucifer didn't want Jo to know. He wanted her unaware of the depths of Dean's true feelings for her -- that piece Jo had been missing as she'd tried to understand Lucifer's motivations. Jo Harvelle had never known just how much Dean Winchester cared for her. She'd believed the lie Meg had told her in Duluth: he thinks of you like a little sister.
A sister? Please. Men don't look at their sister the way Dean had looked at Jo over and over. The lusting heart. Jo's mother had been the only real obstacle between them. Dean and Sam had both understood that Ellen wanted more for Jo than a hunter, which by definition excluded both of them. He'd respected Ellen's feelings at the expense of potential happiness for himself and Jo. Stupid, Meg thought.
Jo hadn't known much in the end really. He'd kept her isolated. She didn't know how Lucifer kept a close watch on Dean, directing here and there to take away his friends. Like Meg had told Jo, it was beautiful how it all worked together. Things had to happen at the right time or nothing fit into place.
She twisted her wrists in her bonds. All she had to do was resist Dean's questioning and make him decide the only way to get information was to torture her. Then, in order to be convincing, she had to withstand the torture before telling that information Lucifer wanted Dean to know.
Meg hated that part. She wasn't a fan of torture on herself, yet she'd do anything Lucifer asked of her. His plans meant more than anything and if all went well, Dean Winchester would break as well.
Castiel was in a rare fully sober moment when the demon calling herself Meg was brought in. He didn't pay much attention to it until the first rounds of questioning had produced nothing and Dean decided to give torture a try. He watched, horrified, as Dean gave orders for a table of tools to be assembled. Holy water, salt, knives, hypodermic needles, and more, all laid out in neat lines on the table Castiel could see through the open door.
"Dean," he said, gesturing at the table. "You --"
"You got a problem with this, Cas?"
"Yes, I do." He remembered very clearly what Dean's last experience torturing had done to him.
"You, who once ordered me to do this same thing, have a problem with it now?"
The bitter tinge to his words made Castiel flinch. "You don't want to go down this path. It won't end well. It never does. We both know that."
Dean avoided Castiel's eyes. "She knows something and I aim to get what she knows. If you can't take it, get the hell out."
He didn't leave. Like last time, Castiel stayed and listened to the screams that weren't long in coming. With each scream that echoed, he forced himself to stand still while the others waiting with him fled from the sounds until only he remained to hear Dean's step into darkness. Like before, he wondered…does the end justify the means and does any of that matter in war?
Stepping into the room, Dean watched the demon a moment. Meg was wearing a familiar face, though it had been a very long time since he'd seen Sarah Blake. He wondered if Sarah was trapped like the real Meg had been. Had she seen everything Meg had been doing? How many months had Meg been wearing her? He gritted his teeth, trying to separate Meg from Sarah in order to begin.
She grinned, attention shifting to the table of tools for a few seconds. "Hey, Dean baby. Are we going to get physical now?"
"Oh yeah, Meg. We're going to get physical."
"Bring it on. I'm so hot for you."
Turning, he closed the door, shutting out those people who wanted to help him and shutting out Cas, who gave him such an expression of sorrow that he nearly changed his mind about doing this. How else were they going to get information from her? It's not wrong, he told himself. It has to be done.
Meg was all his and he planned to do whatever it took to get information from her. It wasn't wrong.
"So…baby," he went to the table, looking over the tools there. He hadn't done this in a long time, but knew it'd all come back to him quickly enough. It had the last time.
In another time, another place, Dean would be horrified with himself for even considering doing this again. Right now though? He blocked out that horror over it. This was necessary, he told himself. He had to. There was no other way.
"Is Sarah in there with you?"
"So nice you remember her name. No, she's long gone. I slipped in as she slipped out. She had a nice violent death a couple years ago. You could say she was a trial run of sorts."
"So it's all you in there?"
"Why don't you have a go if you're that interested?"
"Well, as long as Sarah's not in residence….." He punched her, the force of it snapping her head back. He heard something crack. It pleased him to have Meg strung up and helpless. "Why don't you tell me where the Colt's at?"
She spat blood and giggled. "Silly boy, that's not what you really want to know." She arched her back as though stretching. "Mmmm. Can you imagine all the things Lucifer's been doing to Jo for months now? No, not months. Years."
His attention fell on the holy water. "Jo," he asked in a nonchalant tone.
"Don't be coy. Jo Harvelle. The bitch you let get away. Dean, she loves it. I don't think you'd believe me if I told you just how fast she spread her legs for him. Ellen's body wasn't even cold yet."
He gripped the bottle, opening the cap.
"Just another slut." The last word was drawn out in a playful lilt.
The holy water sizzled her flesh and satisfaction at hurting her surged through him. He ran his tongue along his lower lip and doused her again.
When she was done screaming, Meg gasped in a breath and looked up at him. "You like that, don't you, Dean? It gets you hard watching me squirm."
"You're going to die, but first, I'm going to hurt you so badly you'll plead for death." He wanted to. He wanted to hurt her like he had Alastair as his ire rolled over him.
"I love foreplay!"
He splashed more on her. There'd be plenty of time for creativity later he suspected. "What do you know about Jo?"
"I know Sammy's a naughty boy. The things he's directed Lucifer to do to her…." One brow raised. "He's far more imaginative than you've ever thought of being. Ruby helped to lower those inhibitions and let the freak run free. You think Sam's dead? He's not. You think he's trapped? He's not. He wants to be there, Dean. He's enjoying every minute." She ran her gaze down him and back up. "You poor, poor baby. You can't save anyone these days, can you?"
"Where does any of that tell me about Jo?"
"She screams his name, over and over, like she never screamed yours --"
The anger he couldn't reign in propelled him, one hand reaching for the knife on the table. Minutes later, when blood dripped from her flesh, he stepped back. "Where's Jo?"
"Can you hear her? Can you hear her gasping his name?" She demonstrated, sounding eerily like Jo. "Sam! Sam! Yes, oh yes, don't stop! Harder!"
Dean clenched his teeth so hard his jaw ached. Keep it together, he told himself.
"And that, dear Dean, is how she sounds. I didn't have to take much artistic license you understand. She's a freaky girl, fucking Lucifer himself and calling him Sam."
"You're a lying bitch."
"Am I?" Meg tilted her head to one side. " Do you really think she was that picky as to which one of you she got? You certainly weren't willing to man up and give her what she wanted and he was."
"You mean Lucifer." Bending, he drew the knife along her arm just to hear her scream again.
"Lucifer and Sam," she gasped, body twisting. "Both of them. They both wanted to give her forever and she accepted it, spreading her legs wide like any good whore --"
He worked her over, ignoring the aches in his body as time marched on from minutes into hours, feeling as though he'd reached a precipice where his only choice was to jump fully into the situation. Dean took that leap and gradually, her smart mouth gave way to pleas to stop. She'd talk, tell him anything he wanted to know.
"He had her in Chicago," she screamed, twisting against her bonds. "You don't know how close you've come to finding her so many times."
"No," she shook her head. "He's moved her."
She spilled everything she knew and when she was done, Dean finished the job he'd started, telling himself all the while that it was necessary. Meg had been telling the truth about Sarah, at least. When Meg was gone, there was no one remaining in the body. He didn't have to hear Sarah tell him every thing Meg had made her see and do.
He'd done exactly what had needed doing.
So why did he now feel like he had another yawning, empty spot inside him?
Castiel listened to Dean's solo mission plans and waited until they were alone before voicing his objections. "You're really going after her," he asked, stretching his legs out and crossing his ankles. "Really?"
"You don't think I should."
"Is my disapproval that obvious? I think it's a trap for you and so do those people out there. They won't say it, of course. No guts to disagree with our leader."
"But you will. I'll be careful. Besides, he doesn't have her in a hot zone. He's got her in a relatively clear area in our regular patrol zone. He's got her right at my backdoor, Cas. Shit, we could run across her on a supply raid. No way I'm not snatching her up."
"Just because it's relatively clear doesn't mean there won't be trouble." He watched Dean pack his weapons, carefully choosing each one. "What if Meg was telling the truth, Dean? They don't always lie. She didn't lie to you about the woman Sarah. What if Jo Harvelle has gone to his side? Do you really want to have that memory of her spoiling all the others you have of her? We've heard of a woman in his entourage now and then with her description, seen those grainy photos. It could be her."
The woman in the pictures they had was blond and petite, well-dressed. Occasionally, they were able to locate him for brief enough periods to see him out with her on his arm. Castiel had been wondering about that. If it was Jo Harvelle, was she possessed? Was some demon riding around in her? Or had she chosen Lucifer's side in the end?
"Jo wouldn't go to his side unless she had no other choice. Come on, Cas. She was so dedicated to hunting that she ran off at one point rather than continue fighting Ellen over it. She chose the hunting life."
"Sure." He nodded in agreement of that fact. "But hunters go bad. You know that. You've seen it happen. Hunters, angels, friends…brothers. It happens."
"Not Jo." Dean jabbed a finger at him.
Seeing the slow simmering anger in Dean's eyes, Castiel shrugged. Dean wasn't exactly in a rational frame of mind right now and when he got in that state it was best not to argue. If Cas tried, they'd spend the next several hours screaming at each other about Jo Harvelle. "Okay. You have a plan to bring her out, then?"
"Kill any demon guards, grab her, and run."
"Simple. To the point. Nice to know you've thought this through."
"Don't even go there," Dean warned with a scowl.
"What?" He returned Dean's stare with one of his own. "Don't what, Dean? Don't try to stop you from going on a potentially suicidal mission to save a woman you don't even know wants saving?" He shook his head. "Will you think about this for more than a few seconds? Think. By her own admission, Meg's been one of Jo's companions for months now, but she just happens to get caught by us to conveniently tell you where Jo is -- also conveniently close. Lucifer wants you to find her. It's too neat for that not to be the case. Can't you see that? Can't you just let her go already? Let her go. The reason he wants you to find her can't be a good one."
Dean's expression shifted, the emotion rippling across his features so raw that it almost hurt to see it. "I have to believe I can save her, Cas, because I can't seem to save anyone else!"
Now that Castiel could understand. Dean had a burning need to save those closest to him and there weren't many left now. The need had gotten him into trouble before and Cas was afraid it would again, but there in Dean's anguished expression was the realization it was probably a trap. Dean wasn't ignoring it. He had noticed it. He'd weighed it all and decided he still had to try to save Jo. Cas sighed. "Okay. Say the word and I'll go with you."
"What, like old times?" Dean shook his head. "You stay here. I'll do this alone. I'll either find her or I won't, succeed or no. No sense in losing more than me if it's the latter."
Castiel watched Dean leave and wondered if it'd be the same man who return. For months, Dean had been walking an emotional tightrope. Cas hoped that whatever Lucifer wanted Dean to find wouldn't send him crashing to the ground. He didn't think any of them would recover if that was the case.
Jo wasn't difficult to find. He watched her walk the small downtown area, going into the stores and looking at what remained of the merchandise as though she had no fears in the world. He followed her. Once, he almost called out a warning to her as two infected came her way, but they passed her by like she wasn't even there.
What the hell?
He killed them, clean shots she didn't react to as she walked. Dean kept following her right to a small house. After an hour of observation, he decided she was alone and entered the house, carefully checking the rooms until he was sure there was no one but them there before he confronted her. He found her in one bedroom, back to the door.
She turned from the picture window, surprise flickering across her features. "Dean? Is that really you?"
"Yeah, Jo. It's me." He put his gun away.
Her smile was radiant, the pleasure in it blinding. She raised her left hand, tucked her hair behind her ear, her shirt sleeve riding up, revealing her wrist.
He didn't think he would have even noticed the mark right then if he hadn't been seeing similar ones for weeks now on others. In three strides he was to her, the relief he'd felt on finding her sliding away into cold horror as he took her arm and turned it to see the mark.
"What's this," he asked her, even though he was fully aware what the mark meant. Lucifer had taken to marking those who'd made deals with him, though Jo's had to be the clearest one he'd seen, like a tattoo on her skin. He smoothed his thumb across it. It was an unbreakable seal, Lucifer's mark of ownership. Those with it would be his for all eternity.
Her smile faded, replaced with regret and a sheen of tears in her eyes. "It's how he marked me when we'd finished sealing our deal."
"Jo no." He couldn't breathe, staring at her as though the sheer force of his will could wipe it away. "What did you do?"
She tugged her arm free. "Why are you here?"
"We caught Meg. She told me where to find you."
"Meg's gone?" Jo frowned, looking around the room. "She's not here." The words were said in a curious tone. "When did she leave? I was just talking to her…."
"What, so you have been keeping company with her?"
She crossed her arms. "She's kept me safe from hunters. His mark kept me safe from the disease and the infected. It's like they don't see me. I can't get it. I can watch it take everyone else in the world, but he's made me immune." Jo licked her lips. "He said I'm the only one it could have been. He gives me anything I want, Dean. Clothes, cars, food. Anything…"
"That's something to be really proud of, Jo, having Lucifer as your sugar daddy. Are you hearing yourself?"
"He even gave me Sam."
"What?" Her voice took on a dreamy quality, eyes un-focusing just a fraction and Dean watched her a bit closer. Something wasn't right with her. Something major. What the hell?
"He gave me Sam. Sam's always there. He listens to me and we talk and it's not so bad when he's there."
"Sam? Sam's gone, Jo. It's more like Lucifer prince of hell listening, playing games with your head."
"He loves me, Dean."
"Sam…. He must love me very much because he keeps bringing me back." Her gaze cleared, became anguished. "Do you have any idea how many times I tried to get away? No matter what I did, I would wake up whole every morning. I overdosed on sleeping pills and he told me it was okay. I slit my wrists and he told me he understood. I jumped off the rooftop, drowned myself. He's always so understanding of my human deficiency."
"Why did you do it?" He reached out to touch her, but she stepped back. "They lie. You know they do. Especially him."
"I did it because he promised that if I did, you and my mother would be safe from the infected. You'd both live if I gave myself to him. So I did." She laughed. "I damned myself for you."
"Jo, your mom's dead. Ellen's gone. I heard him kill her two years ago in a high school in Illinois. I burned her body myself."
"But he said…." She made a low moan, then gasped as though unable to catch her breath, shaking her head. "I can't…." Jo stumbled to him, hand touching his face. "You're real. Tell me you're real. Please. Take me away." She cupped his face with her hands.
"I'm real." He touched her sides, slid his hands to her waist. "But I can't take you away. I wish I could."
There was no way he could take her back to the camp, not with that mark. Lucifer would come for them all were he to bring Jo back. From what Dean understood, that mark made people easy for Lucifer to find when he wanted them for something.
Her gaze darted from him to the rest of the room, Jo shaking her head once more, a hand raising to wipe at her eyes. "You're not real. You can't be. I prayed you'd come and you never did, so you're not real. You never came. You're just another figment of my imagination. One of his constructs trying to trick me. I'm dreaming. That's all this is. Dean Winchester is safe somewhere else. This is a dream."
Sudden tears clouded his vision. He couldn't save her from her deal any more than Sam had been able to save him from being dragged to hell. Something wrenched hard in his chest. Jo was damned and there was not a single thing he could do about it. He couldn't break the seal upon her, for it was burned right through her body and soul both. No man could take that away. He swallowed hard. There was never going to be any of those things he'd hoped for with her. No bright spot in the middle of this war. He'd found her, but he had to leave her. Jo was lost to him forever. "I'm sorry Jo. I tried to find you. I did everything I could --"
She ceased to talk to him, obviously deciding he didn't exist, her attention moving from him to the rest of the room. She started to hum as she pulled free, went to a door, and opened it, pulling out a long white dress and holding it up. "What do you think, Meg? The white one or the blue? He likes me in the blue, but the white is new."
No matter what he said, Jo ignored him. She'd drawn inside herself, into a place he couldn't reach. Drawing his gun, he went to her, raising it. Which would be best? Head or heart? Or both? It had to be this way. He started to shoot, finger beginning to squeeze the barest of fractions…then remembered her words.
He keeps bringing me back.
Would it be any different this time? Would pulling the trigger end up causing her more pain than good?
He put it away, then grabbed her shoulders, turning her to face him. "I'm sorry, Jo." She wasn't home mentally, he could see that. Dean ran a hand through her hair. It was as silky as he'd imagined it would be.
Like the prince in Sleeping Beauty, he embraced her and kissed her, a soft brush of his lips to hers, a final goodbye, but unlike that princess, she didn't wake from her state, remaining fixed somewhere in her own mind. It was the only kiss he'd ever have from her, bittersweet in it's tragedy. It was too late for her.
Every step of the way since 2009 he'd been too late.
Too late to save Sam.
Too late to save Ellen, Bobby, Rufus.
Too late to save Jo.
Too late to save anyone at all.
A part of him broke apart right then, shattering into millions of tiny shards too smashed to ever be put back together and Dean stole away, leaving the shell of Jo Harvelle behind. Some demon somewhere would know where the Colt was. They had to. He'd search even harder, find it, and use it. Nothing else mattered. The desire to kill Lucifer burned deep inside him, eclipsing rational thought.
Dean would kill Lucifer.
Whatever the cost.
What did he really have left to lose, anyway?