Authors' Note – This fic is a collaboration between WelshWitch1011 and Silverspoon. It is a sequel to our previous collab 'These Three', which can also be found on Silver's profile page. It is not entirely necessary to read that fic first but it may prove useful.
Updates will hopefully be weekly and each chapter will be written as a short story in itself to give the appearance of an alternative sixth season of the show. The chapters will be posted in either two or three parts.
Now, don't get us wrong, we adore SPN and Kripke's work; we just feel that Jo should have been along for more of the ride.
For legal purposes, we own nothing; not the characters, not the settings, not the Impala, and not those damn fine Winchester boys.
On with the show then...
Episode One – Part One
The Egg-straordinary Case of the
Killer Easter Bunny
Rebuilding the old roadhouse from the ground upwards had proven to be more hard work than attempting to wrangle a pack of rabid werewolves on a full moon. However, as Dean Winchester stared up at the impressive structure that was literally the product of his own two calloused hands, he could not help the thrill of excitement that coursed through his body. One word lingered on the tip of Dean's tongue but he did not speak it for fear of ruining the moment of mutually observed awe; home.
Snaking his arm around the waist of his girlfriend Jo, a self satisfied smile tugged at the corners of Dean's lips. Four months of backbreaking labour, repeatedly hitting his own thumb with a rubber mallet, and fretting over the codes for proper roof construction, all suddenly seemed worthwhile as Dean observed his achievement with beer in hand.
Jo followed his gaze and swept her brown eyes appreciatively over the newly assembled structure as Dean handed her the beer bottle. Jo paused before pressing the rim of the bottle to her lips, "Looks good."
Dean nodded, happy to meet her approval. Rebuilding her childhood home had been a labour of love for Jo and something both Winchester brothers had wanted to be involved with. Ellen Harvelle had been a fleeting yet important figure in their lives and though the majority of the blood, sweat and tears Dean had poured into the project had been for Jo's benefit, he could not help but hope that Ellen was looking down on them with something that resembled maternal pride.
Dean cast a sideways glance in Jo's direction and noted the furious rate at which she appeared to be blinking, clearly attempting to stem an onslaught of tears. He pulled her closer and rested his chin on her shoulder, pressing a kiss to her warm skin, "Come on, I've got a surprise for you inside."
"Ok, but your pants better not come off when we walk through that door Winchester," Jo said with a smile, making a stab at humour in an effort to detract attention away from her poorly concealed sorrow. Dean smirked, momentarily surprised that the thought of 'christening' the new bar had not occurred to him, before he shook his head and seized Jo's hand.
"I'm behaving," Dean vowed, taking the lead as they climbed the freshly varnished wooden steps that lead to an impressive metal studded old saloon style door. Jo paused in order to lay her hand against the timber and, before moving so much as an inch further, she shot a glance at the rapidly growing oak sapling that she had planted around five months ago.
The still immature tree seemed to have grown feet since having first been instated in the grounds of Harvelle's Roadhouse and Jo could not help but think that perhaps her parents had something to do with that fact. Ellen had indeed been a nurturing soul and so it made sense to Jo that she would continue that legacy even in death. The tree had been planted for Ellen after all, as a kind of remembrance to the woman when a grave site had proved impossible. On the days where her longing for her mother became too unbearable, Jo would head out into the yard and sit beside the sapling. Sometimes she would simply draw comfort from resting her hand against the trunk and, other times, she would talk to the tree as though it were Ellen herself. Dean had witnessed this on several occasions but had not interrupted for fear of upsetting Jo. Instead, he had approached his concerns with Sam who in his characteristic Oprah-style wisdom had declared that Jo's actions were a natural part of the grieving process for someone who was not quite as emotionally stunted as Dean. Having failed to formulate a suitable retort to that, Dean had simply 'accidentally' knocked Sammy across the back of the head with a plank of two-by-four. However, he had at least been satisfied that Jo was coming to terms with her mother's death.
Dean stepped back as Jo finally crossed the threshold of the bar and he waited with baited breath for her gaze to land upon the object in question. Her eyes widened in surprise and a beaming smile lit up her face. She crossed the floor in barely two strides as she spied the old fashioned upright in the corner of the room and let out a gasp. She slid her palms slowly across the wooden casing of the jukebox in an almost reverent fashion and let her head drop back against Dean's shoulder as he moved to stand behind her and clasped his hands over her waist.
"Dean... oh my God..." she grinned in disbelief, reaching up and placing her palm against his cheek. Despite his previous claims of disdain for all things romantic and his 'man-whoring' past as Jo liked to describe it, the last five months with Dean had allowed Jo to see just how much he had grown emotionally; and exactly how caring and attentive he could be. She suspected that sometimes he even surprised himself.
"F7," Dean directed, responding to her quizzical glance with a grin. Jo pressed the relevant buttons and waited with furrowed brow for the music to start. A quiet whirring noise overtook the silence of the bar before the melody of a familiar song filled the room with sudden life.
"Dean," breathed Jo, delight dancing in her eyes as she listened to the lazy voice of REO Speedwagon singing a familiar ballad. "I can't believe you stooped this low just for me."
Dean chuckled and rested one hand on Jo's shoulder, remaining quiet as together they drank in the appearance of the revitalised bar. Rather than attempt to recreate the old roadhouse faithfully, Sam and Dean had opted to restore those things they new that Jo had loved, and improve upon those that she had not. After all, the new roadhouse was the sole property of the surviving Harvelle now, and so the ultimate result should be one that pleased her alone.
Dean noted the line of spirit bottles placed in neat rows behind the mahogany bar that Sam had constructed, and the collection of old photographs that Bobby had given to Jo that were now framed and adorning every available wall. The photographs had been left at Bobby's house in a worn old album by Ellen for safe keeping. Most depicted the Harvelle family both before and after Jo's birth. Surprisingly, Dean found that he had enjoyed pouring over the images with Jo, who had been reduced to both hysterical laughter and gut-wrenching sobs whilst sorting through them.
An enormous pool table had been reinstated to one corner of the bar along with a dart board, both of which were brand new and had yet to have a single game played upon them. The tables and chairs had been replaced with high back stools and tables of matching height that were nailed to the floor purely for safety reasons. As well as having anticipated the odd demon attack, Dean also knew how hunters got when the fire of too much liquor burned in their bellies, and he had no desire to be rebuilding furniture every fortnight.
Jo turned her head as she felt Dean tap her on the shoulder and she arched an eyebrow in surprise as he opened his arms to gesture that she should dance with him. Although secretly delighted, Jo's smile was suspicious as she moved into Dean's waiting embrace and looped her arms around his neck. Dean ignored the amused smirk and pulled Jo's body flush against his, revelling in the feel of her warm skin beneath his fingertips as he slipped his hand under her shirt to rest on the small of her back.
Jo giggled in bemusement and pressed her lips to his ear in a whisper, "Christo!"
"Yeah, yeah," Dean said with a smirk. He rolled his eyes, continuing to sway Jo gently to the music. Her head fell to rest against his shoulder and her eyes closed against his ministrations.
"Dean Winchester, I think you're a closet romantic," she accused, her smile widening in unabashed delight.
Dean appeared to think this over momentarily before he brushed a kiss against her cheek and held her that much tighter, "Only with you sweetheart. Only with you."
"I have to say I kind of like it," drawled Jo, giggling as Dean twirled her around underneath his arm before pulling her back towards his chest. She found that the way her body fit so snugly against his was comforting, as was the feel of his arms around her.
Dean opened his mouth to reply but was immediately silenced as Jo sealed her lips against his own, stealing a kiss that Dean melted so willingly into. Jo flicked the tip of her tongue into his mouth and Dean let out a murmur of both pleasure and contentment. The kiss melted away after several seconds and the couple drew apart, Dean now breathing somewhat heavily.
"Thank you Dean, for everything you and Sam have done here," said Jo in earnest, eyes sweeping Dean's features now, "you don't know how much this all means to me."
Dean simply nodded, finding that the sorrow, pain and also happiness that flitted across Jo's features in such quick succession were too much for the lump in his throat to overcome.
"There's just one thing missing now," Jo continued, stepping away from Dean but allowing their hands to remain interlaced as the song came to a natural end and the jukebox shut itself off.
"Then I guess once the new sign's up, we're open for business," she mused, scanning the bar and imagining herself standing there behind it, bantering with the regulars and keeping a watchful eye over the patrons, just like her mother had done before her.
Dean nodded in silent agreement, allowing her to drag him behind the bar where she fussed over straightening the photographs on the wall.
"We should probably start looking for someone to look after this place when we're gone," Dean thought aloud, realising that a new hunt could come up at any given time and that having a caretaker of sorts for the roadhouse would be a good idea.
Jo glanced down diplomatically at the ground and pointedly avoided his gaze, "Yeah, about that..."
Dean narrowed his eyes as he watched her feign sudden interest in the new wooden flooring. The hesitation he detected in her tone caused his heart to pound in dread.
"You changed your mind about coming on the road with us?" he tried not to sound disappointed and failed miserably.
"No," Jo looked up sharply and shook her head to emphasize her words, "No. I just... I don't want to get between you and Sam. You're family and I don't want to get in the way of that."
"Jo, you're family too," said Dean softly, pausing to push a tendril of blonde hair that had escaped from her ponytail behind her ear. Jo nodded, chewing on her bottom lip and still wearing a fretful expression that Dean knew no amount of assuaging could dispel.
"Sam loves you," he reiterated, screwing up his nose as he realised that his proclamation had come out all wrong. He amended quickly, "In a strictly platonic kind of guy way."
"Smooth," quipped Jo, placing her hands on her hips as she regarded Dean but unable to prevent a smile from overtaking her now. "I just want you to be sure it'll work."
"It will work," Dean vowed, stepping closer to Jo and gathering both of her hands up in his own. He raised them to chest height and brushed a gentle kiss against the back of each of her hands as he murmured, "What could possibly go wrong?"
April 18th 2011
With her need for caffeine mounting with every second that ticked by, Julia Harris steered her five year old daughter towards the crowd of assembled children with a firm hand.
"Now, do as Mrs. Johnson tells you, okay sweetie?" she bent down and adjusted her daughter's party dress, re-tying the powder blue sash around her waist. A bright pink basket was held aloft and the little girl grabbed hold of it excitedly, clutching it to her chest with hands that were too small to properly encompass the handle.
"Yes, Mommy," the child lisped, her eyes wide and full of wonder at the impending Easter egg hunt. She eyed the other children carefully before spying one of her classmates and, with a beaming smile, she tore away from her mother. Emma skipped over to join her playmate and the two little girls immediately joined hands. Their simultaneous grins in her direction all but melted Julia's heart and she returned their smiles as they each waved in her direction.
"No candy before lunch, Emma, okay?" she felt compelled to remind her daughter, although the unchecked glee radiating in her little girl's expression could not help but broaden her already beaming smile.
"Sure, Mommy," Emma agreed dutifully, swinging her friend's hand as the children fought to stave off their excitement. They watched impatiently as the final baskets were handed out to their contemporaries.
"I'll be right here, baby girl- have fun!" Julia laughed as the proprietor of the hunt unleashed the children upon her extensive grounds and they ran off in zigzagging directions, all eager to uncover the treasures that lay hidden in the garden.
"I don't know how you do it, Beth," Julia admonished, awe struck by the organisational skills of her neighbour and best friend. Beth merely shrugged and eased herself into the neighbouring chair, resting her hands on her significantly rounded stomach.
"Oh, I like to stay busy, you know that," Beth dismissed her friend's praise and shot a distracted glance over at her toddler son who sat in a sand box a mere few yards away. "Tyler, what has mommy told you about eating sand?" Beth sighed and the two women exchanged amused smiles.
"Do you and Carl ever think about having another one?" Beth arched an eyebrow, reaching to the table beside her and pouring two tall glasses of homemade lemonade.
Julia glanced down discretely at her lap and simply shrugged, her smile not quite reaching her eyes as she met Beth's gaze, "We're just enjoying Emma right now and Carl works long hours at the bank and the store's really starting to take off..."
She gratefully accepted the lemonade and took a sip of the cool liquid, gesturing over toward the back porch of the house.
"You re-upholstered your chairs?"
"Oh yeah," Beth replied, suddenly coming to life with enthusiasm as she began to talk in an almost comically breathy rush about the exquisite fabric she had managed to secure at a bargain price. Julia listened dutifully, nodding and smiling at the appropriate intervals as Beth talked, her hands illustrating her point for her every few seconds. After a while, the two women quickly forgot about the fourteen neighbourhood children that milled around them, becoming fully immersed in their own conversation.
Emma hung slightly back from the other children, having lost her companion to a little boy several years older than her who already had a basket laden with discovered treats. She was a timid child by nature and often preferred to shy away from larger groups, despite her mother's gentle cajoling. No amount of ballet classes or girl-guide camps had succeeded in improving the five year olds confidence, and Emma found herself often more at ease in the company of animals.
Therefore, when the pure snow white rabbit hopped into her peripheral vision and reared up on its hind legs, a delighted toothy grin broke out across Emma's face.
"Hey bunny," the child crooned, bending down and extending her hand towards the rabbit. Its nose and ears both simultaneously twitched, but the animal made no move either towards or away from the child. Emma held her breath, and took a few hesitant steps on her tiptoes towards the rabbit, which remained rooted to the spot.
The animal scratched at it's nose before dropping back onto all fours and bounding toward a large rabbit hole that seemed to appear in the ground as if from nowhere. The creature paused and waited for the enthralled child to follow, pink nose twitching invitingly. Emma turned back one final time in the direction of the house and then glanced towards the rabbit. Discarding her egg basket, she skipped off toward the fluffy creature and giggled as it wiggled its way down into the rabbit hole, only to disappear from view.
A blue ribbon flapped gently in the breeze, suspended on a branch nearby, and brightly coloured Easter eggs lay scattered in the flower borders below; but little Emma Harris was nowhere to be found.
"Place looks great, Sam, you kids have done a fine job," Bobby eyed the frontage of the roadhouse and tipped his baseball cap in approval, "Ellen would be proud."
Sam nodded, helping manoeuvre Bobby's wheelchair up the ramp that he and Dean had constructed with him in mind.
"Damn thing," Bobby muttered, sighing as the back wheel caught on the door jam and he slammed his hand down in frustration on the armrest of the chair.
Sam smiled weakly in sympathy, wondering how he would ever cope if he was in Bobby's situation. The older hunter tried not to let the afflictions life had thrown at him get him down, yet every now and then his anger at his own limitations became very evident and Sam could hardly blame him. Bobby propelled the chair through the doorway and stopped dead as he eyed the scene around him and looked back at Sam in concern.
"Guys?" Sam called, stepping into the roadhouse behind Bobby and surveying the empty bar with suspicion. Something clearly was not right with the picture. When he had left, Dean and Jo had been industriously caught up in hanging light fixtures and setting out glasses behind the bar, finalising any last minute touches as and when Jo dreamt them up. From the looks of things, their projects had all been hastily abandoned.
"Guys?" he called again, frowning as he heard voices coming from the area behind the bar and a few moments later, a sheepish and somewhat dishevelled Dean appeared. Sam bit back a smirk and simply rewarded his brother with a disdainful sigh, one he found himself repeating when Jo finally emerged, looking equally as guilty as she fastened the top buttons of her shirt.
"We were just uh... we were..." Dean began, mouth gaping as he tried to hastily come up with a suitable excuse.
"Taking inventory," Jo supplied, clearing her throat in an attempt to detract Sam and Bobby's knowing gazes as a blush rose up her cheeks.
"If that's what you kids are calling it these days," said Bobby gruffly, ignoring the snort that Dean directed at him. "Now, which one of you lazy bums is going to fix your first patron a drink?"
"Sure thing Bobby," Dean replied, only too glad to be leaping into action in the wake of being discovered in such a compromising position. Dean was suddenly halted however by the splayed palm that Jo thrust into his chest.
"No!" she yelped, her eyes widening as she shook her head at Bobby. "Sorry, but no one gets even a sniff of liquor from this bar before that sign is up."
"Aw come on Jo," Bobby griped, rubbing one hand along his grizzled jaw line. "A guy could die of thirst over here."
"Water," Jo replied tartly, "you can have a glass of water."
"With whisky in it?" Bobby attempted, his eyes gleaming wickedly.
"With water in it," was Jo's sardonic reply.
"You're a cruel woman, Harvelle," Bobby sighed, rolling his eyes as she slammed a glass of water down on the counter and placed her hands on her hips.
"Ice and lemon?" she smirked, arching an eyebrow as she awaited his response.
Bobby sneered in disgust at the water and gripped the wheels of his chair, moving himself back from the bar and in the direction of one of the empty booths.
"I got something to show you comedians," Bobby announced, producing a rolled up file from inside his jacket pocket, which he slammed down on the table as he waited patiently for the three younger hunters to congregate.
Dean stepped out from behind the bar and immediately Sam averted his gaze.
"Uh... dude," he widened his eyes and cleared his throat, smiling until Dean eventually caught on and zipped up the fly of his jeans.
"Seriously man, it's three o'clock in the afternoon," Sam complained, his head turning sharply as Jo sauntered past.
"I get bored easily," she interjected, shrugging as Sam's mouth dropped open. A lascivious smirk settled on Dean's face and he glanced appreciatively in her direction before flashing his brother an entirely smug smile.
"I'm in hell," Sam mumbled, taking a seat opposite his brother and Jo, and waiting for Bobby to explain the details of what he assumed to be a new case.
"Alright, what we got then Bobby?" Dean asked, leaning forwards and rubbing his palms together. It had been quite some time since the trio had been on a genuine hunt. The building of the new roadhouse had occupied most of their time recently and, save for a few straightforward salting and burnings, Dean had not seen much action on the hunting front for several months now. He was anticipating getting back on the road in a sense, although he was secretly thrilled to now have a home base to share in with both Jo and his brother. It had been assumed rather than discussed at any length that both Sam and Dean would also reside at the roadhouse when not travelling, and that Jo would accompany them on the majority of cases. They had fallen into the agreement easily and all were hopeful that this fact boded well for the success of their venture.
"A five year old girl was snatched in broad daylight from a neighbour's house in Connecticut last Sunday," said Bobby, sliding the paper file across the table top to Dean, who flipped it open only to be greeted by a newspaper clipping complete with a black and white photograph of a grinning child.
"That seems more like a matter for the local fuzz than us," Dean replied, pausing to scan the article which did not immediately set alarm bells ringing in his head. He wondered why it had done so with Bobby, but refrained from asking for the moment.
"A second child was nabbed the day before in a town ten miles from that one," answered Bobby, taking a sip of his water which he found to be tepid and screwing up his nose. "They were both on Easter egg hunts at the time."
"So there's a lot of sick people out there," Jo said, her tone somewhat bitter as she peered over Dean's shoulder at the photograph of the little girl. She could not begin to imagine what her parents would be going through, and nor did she wish to try. It seemed that the more Jo lived of the hunter's life, the more she became put off the prospect of one day having her own children. She wondered how those hunters who had become parents, including her own, had managed to sleep at night with the knowledge in their heads of everything that was out there just waiting to snatch up their children.
"I'm with Jo on this one, there's plenty of perverse sons of bitches just waiting to grab a kid," Dean agreed, shrugging unwillingly as he added, "unfortunately, those guys don't fall within our remit."
Bobby ignored him and tossed a large photograph down on the table. Jo frowned, turning her head from side to side to decipher the image as suitably horrified expressions formed on both Dean and Sam's faces.
"Is that..." Jo began with clear uncertainty, pausing and glancing up at Sam and Dean in turn as they simultaneously groaned. Sam leant back in his seat and folded his arms across his chest, whilst Dean rubbed his hand across the back of his neck and eyed Bobby suspiciously.
"Please tell me we're not hunting Roger Rabbit?" Dean stared down at the crime scene photograph that appeared to show a giant twelve inch animal track, and he was certain that he felt a little bit of his soul die; not giant stuffed animals, not again.
"I gotta confess," Bobby stated, the hint of a smile twitching beneath his beard, "I've never seen anything quite like this before."
"Cursed wishing well?" Sam inquired with a sigh, shooting Dean a significant glance that only succeeded in leaving Jo baffled. She placed her hands on her hips and arched a thin blonde eyebrow as she turned to survey Dean, who had lowered his head into his hands.
"Only one way to find out," was the muffled reply from Dean, who had evidently been hoping for anything but the case at hand. Jo remained clueless but decided that the guys could fill her in on the finer details on the car ride to Connecticut.
"Well, saddle up boys," said Jo, a wide smile breaking out across her face as she clapped Sam on the shoulder in her excitement. "We got us our first case!"