Episode 8 – Part 2

'Meet Jo Blank'

x-x-x

Smiling sweetly, Jo held the door wide in order to allow the two men clad in dark blue overalls to enter the foyer. The taller of the men dragged a cleaning cart behind him, which squealed and groaned in protest, whilst the other wielded a mop carried over one shoulder.

The Winchesters certainly cut fine figures in their matching get-ups, which Jo had lifted the previous shift from the janitor's closet, and she could not resist slyly grabbing at Dean's rear as he passed her by. His back stiffened at the contact, and a smug grin spread across his lips, although he continued down the hallway without acknowledging Jo in the slightest.

Following Oliver Tucker's sudden and inexplicable descent into the throes of advanced dementia, the hunters had drafted a plan whereby Sam and Dean would gain entry to the building in order to cover more ground. With an EMF metre tucked into his breast pocket, Sam nodded at Dean before turning off in the opposite direction to his brother as they reached the end of the corridor. Dean paused, casting a glance over his shoulder and catching Jo's eye.

Whilst Sam headed off to complete a sweep of Oliver's room, Dean strolled languidly down the hallway, whistling the chorus of a rock song as he tried to look as inconspicuous as possible.

Jo watched as Dean cast a careful glance up and down the hall, before pulling a small metal object from his pocket, which he used to deftly pick the lock of the file store room.
Tossing the mop inside, Dean slipped into the room and propped the door with his foot, waiting for Jo to catch up with him.

Repeating Dean's previous check of the hall, Jo followed after him, ignoring the puff of air that left her boyfriend's chest as she slid past. Dean smiled to himself and shook his head, attempting to dispel the inappropriate thoughts and even more inappropriate stirrings their contact had provoked.

As the couple had once again been forced to share a room with Sam, their more amorous activities had come to a sudden halt for the past two weeks, and a heavy tension hung between them.

"So, what exactly are we looking for here?" Jo checked, not entirely sure why they were standing in a room that seemed to house a hundred random artifacts from the past five decades.

Old TV sets stood abandoned beside faded paintings, their broken frames propped against discarded walkers and wheelchairs. Stacks of clothes lay on a nearby table, and there was an indistinguishable mustiness in the air that made everything smell as ancient as it looked.

"You got me," Dean replied with a shrug, watching as Jo turned her back and hopped up onto a half size step-ladder.
"Nothing up here but about forty years of dust," she said wrinkling her nose as she traced a finger across the thick layer of grime coating the top of the shelving unit.
"Uh-huh," Dean nodded, clearly distracted by the view in front of him. He found himself grinning lasciviously at the sight of his girlfriend's shapely rear, which was teasingly close to his face.

"Quit staring at my ass, Winchester," Jo directed, rolling her eyes as she turned to face him with what she hoped was her most disapproving glare.
Dean's face was a pantomime of innocence, and he jammed his hands in his pockets as he ducked his head, shying away from Jo's quirked brow and challenging stare.

"You know," Dean began, taking a step suddenly towards the step ladder and reaching up in order to fasten his hands around Jo's waist, "it's kind of quiet in here."

"Yeah," Jo observed cheerily, slapping Dean on the chest as she added, "perfect conditions for a stakeout."

Dean peered up at Jo with a tellingly hungry glimmer present in his eyes, and Jo watched as a grin bloomed upon his lips. The tip of his tongue poked out, moistening his lips, and his expression became almost pleading.

"Come on," he purred in a husky tone, "don't say you're not tempted."

"Dean," Jo warned, her voice stern although her expression indicated that she was indeed entertaining the same naughty ideas that currently plagued Dean's mind. Leaning forwards in a deliberately slow manner, Dean brushed his fingertips across the hollow of Jo's cheek before pressing his lips against her own. Jo melted into his touch, swallowing a groan of frustration as Dean cupped her rear with the palms of his hands and pulled her flush against his body.

"Dean..." she protested half-heartedly, rapidly losing the power of speech as he dragged a path of kisses down her throat and she found herself hurriedly pressed up against the wall.

A nearby painting was caught with the tip of Jo's foot, as Dean hoisted her up from the ground, and her legs wrapped around his waist as their hips frantically found a rhythm against each other through layers of clothing.

They gasped for air as their lips parted, and Jo fumbled with the buttons on Dean's overalls. She sighed impatiently as her fingers refused to cooperate, and the warm, questing hand that slipped under her shirt only increased her frustration.

"Can't..." she gasped, her breath hitching as Dean untied the waist of her scrub pants, and her stomach muscles dipped as his fingers brushed her abdomen, "can't get this damn thing off!"

"Well, thank heaven for small mercies," a nasal voice declared from the doorway, which Dean and Jo turned to face simultaneously wearing similar expressions of horror and shock. The hunters had apparently been too immersed in their make-out session to hear the door to the storeroom swing open, and had also failed to note the light from the hallway filtering into the darkened space. On the threshold stood her manager, his eyes almost wide and his jowls quivering as he regarded the two apparent staff members locked in the most inappropriate of clinches.

Jo closed her eyes momentarily, cursing under her breath as she planted her feet on the floor and turned to regard the manager of the care home. She slapped quickly at Dean's hand, which was still positioned beneath her shirt, and felt a rush of blood to the apples of her cheeks. The man averted his gaze for a few moments, allowing the couple time to straighten their rumpled clothing and preserve the little modesty they had managed to retain.

He jabbed a finger at Dean, his already piggy eyes narrowed to slits, and snarled, "You. Get back to work. There's a leaky toilet in the second floor communal bathroom."

Dean nodded dumbly, directing a glance at Jo before he retrieved the mop he had earlier discarded and skirted around the manager, back out into the hallway. Jo dropped her gaze to the floor, struggling to remind herself that this indiscretion truly didn't matter.

However, she found herself swallowing hard when the man rounded on her, demanding sourly, "And I'll see you in my office, young lady."

x-x-x

Jo folded her arms across her chest as she watched her boss pace in front of his desk. Lance Robinson had been talking non-stop for the past ten minutes, and his voice had started to fade out into little more than an annoying blur.

Jo was vaguely aware that the phrase "inappropriate behaviour" had been bandied about more than a few times, yet she found herself caring less and less as each excruciating second passed.

"So?" Lance demanded, drawing up level to her and raising both eyebrows expectantly, "what have you got to say for yourself, huh?"

"Uh... I'm sorry?" Jo tried, narrowing her eyes at the glare her boss rewarded her with.

"And?"

Jo paused, wracking her brain for the correct response for being caught in a compromising position by an employer who wasn't really your employer, when you possessed a fake job and a fake name.

"And... it'll never happen again?" she finished, sighing in relief as he nodded and then appeared to look her up and down in a slightly predatory manner.

"You're damn straight it'll never happen again, or your ass is out that door, you hear me?" he bellowed, spots of saliva beading on his lower lip as he ranted.

Jo nodded, folding her hands in her lap and surveying the manager analytically for a moment. Lance peered back at her, his eyes still blazing, and he sneered visibly at Jo.

"Are you waiting for something?" he demanded, reaching into his shirt pocket and withdrawing a handkerchief, which he used to mop at the sweat on his brow.

Shaking her head, Jo hurriedly climbed to her feet and started out towards the door of the office, relieved that the confrontation was over and she would be able to return to searching for evidence. However, on instinct, she paused at the doorway of the office, her hand on the doorknob, and turned back to Lance, who was seated behind his desk as he crammed indigestion pills into his mouth. He growled low in his throat as he felt Jo's eyes still upon him and he glared at her across the room.

"Why are you still here?" Lance barked, leaning back in his chair and pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger as though her presence brought him actual physical pain.

Jo's lips drew into a tight line and she skirted out of the door and closed it behind her with a gentle click. Glancing down at her watch, she noted it was almost time for her lunch break and, for once, the prospect of dining on the less than palatable cafeteria food was a welcome one.

Sighing resolutely, Jo started off toward the locker room. A shadow loomed from behind a doorway in the hall, and Jo paused as she stepped back against the wall and watched the figure move closer.

Stepping uncertainly from the room, the nursing assistant cast his gaze up and down the dimly lit hall before he strode out of the bedroom, hands jammed in his pockets and head bowed.

Jo watched intently, hiding behind a large laundry cart until the man's footfalls had drifted out of earshot.

When she was certain that the corridor was deserted once again, Jo moved to the doorway from which the man had made his exit, and peered around the jamb. Immediately, she spotted the figure of Grace Ferguson, tucked neatly into her bed and apparently sleeping soundly. The woman had arrived at Cedar Wood the previous afternoon, and Jo had identified her almost instantly as one of the more lucid residents. Upon the woman's waking, Jo would be eager to see if the same were still true.

With her suspicions regarding the unknown nursing assistant building, Jo turned towards the locker rooms and disappeared inside. She had taken to leaving her wallet in her assigned locker ever since it had been filched from her person on her first day by the wandering hands of a somewhat senile 80 year old man. She entered the combination quickly, throwing the door open as soon as the lock clicked. Jo ran her hand lightly over the bottle of holy water positioned on the top shelf and moved it aside in order to reach her hand further into the back of the locker. Along with the holy water, Jo had also squirreled away an iron knife, a silver letter opener, a large bag of salt, and a crucifix, hoping that she had covered all of the usual bases. Although the hunters still had no idea as to the species of the creature they were stalking, or indeed what weapons it would be impervious to, Jo had been careful to sneak onto the premises a multitude of items that she could utilise as weapons if it proved necessary.

Jo paused as suddenly and inexplicably the hairs on the back of her neck stood erect, and a familiar chill drifted down her spine. Taking a slow, deep breath, Jo spun around, surprised to find nothing and nobody behind her. The room was silent, yet the overhead strip lighting flickered as if heralding the arrival of something otherworldly.

Jo waited a few moments; her body tensed in anticipation but despite the air of unease that had descended upon her, nothing happened.
"Damn it," she muttered under her breath, clasping the handle of the knife firmly in her hand as she prepared to slip it into her pocket. Slamming her locker closed with an irritable huff, Jo turned on her heel and sought the exit, ready for another afternoon of scintillating arts and crafts, and Hallmark movies. Next time, Dean or Sam could go undercover and she would be the one on research duty or, in Dean's case, eating copious donuts and sending a barrage of faintly humorous or outright filthy text messages. Jo smiled at the idea of the latter, recalling their few short minutes in the store room that afternoon. Maybe when she got back to the motel they could send Sam on a conveniently timed beer run.

Her breath caught in her throat however as from behind a figure suddenly loomed over her.
A split second before she turned to face her attacker, a hand landed on the top of her head, and Jo Harvelle's world faded to black.

x-x-x

Sam had been forced to grip the dashboard of the Impala so tight that his fingers had numbed on the ride to the hospital. After hanging up his cell, Dean had barely allowed Sam time to fling himself into the passenger seat before he had thrown the stick into gear and swung out of the motel parking lot at such speed that the tyres shrieked in protest. Neither of the brothers wore their seatbelts and so Sam was forced to white-knuckle the whole journey, although the majority of his concern was reserved for Jo.

They covered the ten mile distance in record time, and Sam was thankful that they had managed to avoid happening upon a cop car on the way. Dean barely wasted time locking the Impala before he was running up the steps of the old, stone building two at a time, not caring whether Sam was following in his wake or not. The younger Winchester had wisely chosen not to utter a word since the phone call had come, knowing too well that anything he said would be open to misinterpretation, and would more than likely only ignite Dean's flammable temper.

It had been nightfall before the Winchesters had finally realised that something was amiss. After failing to return to the motel, despite her shift having ended several hours ago, Jo had also neglected to answer the numerous messages Dean had left on her voicemail. The receptionist at Cedar Wood had revealed, when vigorously questioned, that nobody had seen Jo since the beginning of the lunch break, and Dean had immediately descended into panic. They had been busily pouring over a map of the area, scouting out separate routes by which to search for the missing member of their party, when Dean's cell had trilled ominously, signifying an incoming call from an unknown number.

When they reached the reception desk, the post was deserted, and Dean began rapping on the counter in order to draw attention to their presence. A sour faced, middle aged woman waddled out from behind a filing cabinet and affixed the brothers with an irritated look.

"Can I help you?" she enquired with an air of undisguised annoyance as she chewed slowly on a wad of gum that poked out from between her lips.
"My girlfriend..." Dean panted, exertion finally catching up with him, "you called me, said she was here."
The woman sighed and sat down at the desk, "I'm gonna need a name..."
"Jo... Beth..." Dean shook his head, suddenly realising that Jo had been using an alias whilst working at the retirement centre, "Elizabeth Williams?"

The receptionist quirked an eyebrow and shrugged, "Second floor, room 219."
Dean gaped around the reception desk, glancing up at the ceiling and the numerous signs hanging from it, "Which is where?"

Without looking up from the computer screen, the receptionist blew a bubble of pale green gum and sucked it promptly back between her teeth.

"Take the elevator up to the second floor then follow the green signs to the psych wing."

"Thank you, ma'am, you've been a real help," Sam stated dryly, shooting the receptionist a pointed glare before following after Dean, who was already at the elevator shaft and pounding on the button to summon it.

"Dean, calm down, dude," Sam almost pleaded, resting a large hand on his brother's shoulder. He realised that Dean was trembling from head to toe, and so Sam gently squeezed the shoulder he held in a gesture of silent reassurance. Dean peered up at his brother, and Sam could immediately see that the ghosts of the past were alive in his eyes.

"Why won't this damn elevator come?" Dean demanded, his voice sounding raw. No sooner had he spoken than the doors slid open, and both brothers piled into the shaft alongside a couple of doctors wearing scrubs and with surgical masks suspended around their necks. They each shot surreptitious glances at Dean as he bounced on the balls of his feet, watching the elevator climb at a torturous pace. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the doors opened onto the second floor, and Dean stalked down the long, impossibly white walled hall.

"Sign says the psych unit is this way..." Sam directed, nodding up at one of the signs on the wall. Dean simply stormed off ahead, causing Sam to jog along to catch up with him.

"What the hell's she doing in the nuthouse, Sammy?" he demanded, his heart hammering in his chest. He glanced up at his sibling with wide eyes, his fear palpable. "You think this thing got her too?"

Sam shook his head, following Dean down toward a set of locked doors which the older Winchester began to hammer upon with a balled up fist. A nurse instantly appeared- her demeanor none too pleased at her visitor's impatience.

"Yes?" she barked, eyes blazing.

"My girlfriend... Beth Williams, I want to see her," he said, his tone both demanding and yet also pleading. The nurse sighed and opened the door, gesturing for Dean and Sam to enter.

"We have some questions for you, Mr..." she fished, waiting for Dean to provide the name she was anticipating.

"Nicholson..." he stammered, his eyes roaming the halls of the unit, as patients wandered around in their pyjamas in what appeared to be varying degrees of awareness.
"Does your girlfriend have any pre-existing medical condition?" she inquired, leading Dean and Sam down the hall toward one of the rooms.
"No, nothing. Where is she? Is she okay?" he demanded, licking his lips which had become impossibly dry.

The nurse tactfully avoided his question. "Does she have a history of mental illness? Depression? Substance abuse? Maybe drugs or alcohol? Any history of psychosis?"
"No," Dean shook his head angrily, repeating with renewed insistence, "is she okay?"
The nurse folded her arms across her chest and gestured into the room they had now stopped outside of.

"Mr. Nicholson, your girlfriend was brought into the ER with absolutely no long or short term memory. It if hadn't been for the cell phone and ID we found in her pocket, we wouldn't even know her name. She's scheduled for a CAT scan in the morning but there seems to be no sign of a recent head injury or trauma. We're waiting for her blood work and toxicology screen to come back, but physically... we can't find anything wrong with her. I'll send Dr. Morgenstern in once he's finished up with another patient, I'm sure he'll be able to answer any questions you might have."

Dean appeared not to have heard a word she said, as he stared at the figure sitting upright in bed.

Jo sat motionless, peering blankly down at her hands. The gown she wore was standard hospital issue, and her usually buoyant blonde curls hung limply about her face.

Sam smiled in thanks at the nurse, hoping to speed up her departure, "Thank you."

The woman nodded before she bustled back down the hall toward the nurse's station, her thoughts now preoccupied by the tall latte waiting for her at her post.

Dean shot a helpless glance at Sam, who had focussed his attention upon Jo. She appeared not to have noticed the two men now standing on the threshold of her room, too immersed in her own world to pay them any mind.

"It got her," Dean said, his voice sounding flat. "Damned son-of-a-bitch got her."

"We don't know that yet," soothed Sam, wincing as Dean rounded on him, although his anger was considerably tamped down.

"She's not crazy, Sammy," he hissed, stabbing one finger in Jo's direction, "and that in there is seven shades of crazy."

He continued, beginning to pace the floor in front of the doorway as he ticked the issues off on his fingers, "We don't know what this thing is, how to kill it, or even if this can be reversed."

He seemed to visibly deflate, his eyes moistening as he regarded Sam and added hollowly, "I don't know what to do."

Sucking in a sharp breath, Sam recognised the immediate need for him to take control of the situation. Striving to maintain the air of a kind of calm he did not feel, Sam seized Dean by both shoulders and stared deep into his eyes.

"We go in there and we talk to Jo, because she needs us right now, even if she doesn't know it," Sam said determinedly, leaving no room for argument with his measured tone and arched brow. "Maybe she'll remember something, maybe she won't... but we hold it together and we do our best to fix this with the knowledge we have."

Dean nodded, attempting to compose himself as he stepped uncertainly into the room.

"Jo?" he called softly, not wanting to startle the young woman.

"I..." she blinked, glancing up and looking at him with an unfamiliarity in her eyes that all but broke Dean's heart. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"

Dean floundered, apparently frozen to the spot. Sam smiled kindly at Jo and gestured to his brother and himself in turn.

"I'm Sam, this is my brother Dean, we're... we're old friends of yours," he stated, wincing as she shook her head and her eyes flitted to each of the men's faces.

"I'm sorry, I don't know you," she said fearfully, her eyes glistening with tears as she added, "I guess I don't even know who I am right now."

"Maybe we can help?" Dean suggested, nodding toward the chair beside her bed before he slowly sat down. Her hands lay folded in her lap, and Dean resisted the urge to reach out and cover them with his own.

"We're really friends?" she asked, holding his gaze and managing a weak smile as she scrutinized his face. A sudden jolt of recollection struck her, and Jo found something oddly familiar in the stranger's eyes.

"I guess you could say you're my best friend," he murmured softly, his tone tinged with an emotion that she was unable to decipher.

"How do I know... I mean..." she sighed, shrugging as she struggled to form the question weighing on her mind, "how do I know you're really who you say you are?"

Dean watched her wring a balled up tissue in her hands as she struggled with this newfound information. The overhead lighting caught the diamond band on her finger, and he gestured toward the ring with a wistful smile.

"There's an inscription in that ring... Latin... 'In Aeternum'."

He watched as she slipped the ring from her finger with a shaking hand and, holding it up to the light, rolled it between her thumb and forefinger, examining the tiny scrolled cursive inside.

"How did you..." she began, gasping as she accidentally dropped the ring and it fell onto the pale blue bed covers.

"Because I gave it to you," he replied, retrieving the piece of jewellery from its lodgings in a crease of the bed linen and offering it to her in his open palm. Almost hesitantly, Jo accepted the ring and slid it back onto her finger, struck by the sense that it was somehow so very important to her.

"Why don't I remember?" she whispered helplessly, affixing Dean with a wide eyed stare that caused his breath to catch in his throat.

"We're working on it, I promise," Dean vowed, leaning forwards and holding Jo's gaze with his own. "I swear to you, we'll fix this."

"But what if I'm sick... what if..." she began, her panic evidently escalating as she glanced back and forth between the brothers. Sam shook his head and hurriedly closed the door of the room with a quiet click before moving to the edge of the bed and peering down at Jo.

"I know this is a lot to ask," Sam said, his tone soft and coaxing, "but can you trust us? Just for a little while?"

Jo shook her head, and her vehemence on the matter was obvious. Although his manner was gentle, Sam could cut an undeniably imposing figure, and Jo watched him keenly all the while as if her capacity to trust had been shattered along with her memories. Dean swallowed down his frustration and tentatively reached out a hand towards the woman, who watched as the tip of his index finger brushed against the back of her right hand.

"Please," Dean begged earnestly, dropping his voice to barely a whisper as he continued, "we would never hurt you. You just have to take a little on faith here, sweetheart."

Jo appeared to think this over before she suddenly lifted her gaze to Dean, her chin tipped back in a challenging manner.

"Prove it," she demanded, a hint of sport tainting her tone and giving Dean cause to smile despite his current state of panic.
"How can we?" Sam said with a frown, continuing logically, "I mean, even if we tell you things, you won't remember if they're true or not."

But Jo appeared undeterred, and she continued to stare expectantly at Dean. The older Winchester suddenly nodded.

"Alright," he said, appearing all too eager to rise to the challenge. "You've got three freckles on the top of your thigh... right leg, looks like they make up a triangle."

He gestured down beneath the sheets, smirking as he recalled having traced invisible lines across her skin with the tips of his fingers. Jo raised both eyebrows, clearly pondering whether to check. Sam dutifully turned his back whilst Dean swivelled around in his chair to allow her some privacy.

"You uh... you've got a couple of scars too." He swallowed at the memory of Carthage and blew out an unsteady breath, "Three lines, left side... just under your ribs. They've pretty much faded now, but... they're still there."

Jo blinked, processing the information before checking if they were watching her. Satisfied they had turned their gazes away, Jo pulled back the neckline of her hospital gown and peered down at her body. The scars lay exactly were Dean said they would be, and she traced her fingertips over the angry raised lines, wondering how they had come to mar her skin.

"How did I...?" she asked quietly, peeking beneath the covers and locating three small, dark, perfectly round freckles on her upper thigh that indeed formed a perfect triangle.

"You wouldn't believe us if we told you," Sam assured her, still turned to face the door.

"You got your cell phone in here?" Dean asked, eyes suddenly sweeping the room.

"Uh... I think they put my things in the drawer," Jo said as she nodded toward the nightstand.

Dean did not await her permission and quickly fished through the drawer, producing Jo's cell phone which he placed on the bed beside her. Flipping his own phone open with a flick of his wrist, Dean punched in Jo's number and, as if on cue, her phone began to vibrate in her hand. The chorus of an REO Speedwagon song filled the air.

A soft smile curved her lips upwards and she appeared to relax visibly, clearly deciding that she could perhaps place her trust in these men after all. She stabbed the disconnect button and turned her gaze expectantly upon Dean, who was wearing an expression of utter hopefulness.

"Ok," she said quietly, picking at the frayed edges of her blanket again. "What do you need me to do?"

x-x-x

Try as she may, Jo recalled nothing about the motel room that the two men ushered her inside of. She walked uncertainly into the centre of the room and spun a circle, her eyes taking in everything from the two loaded shotguns sitting atop the nightstand to the explicit photos of crime scenes spread out across one of the twin beds.

Jo swallowed hard, and her eyes darted to the door as she watched Sam slide the bolt into place, blocking her only route of escape to her. Panic flooded her and Jo backed up against the desk, only stopping when the back of her thighs connected with the edge of the wood.

"Maybe... maybe this wasn't such a good i-idea..." she stammered, her eyes ticking to the weapons and the photographs once again. Dean followed the path of her troubled gaze and groaned internally as he realised their mistake. He had been so eager to shepherd Jo in from the car and avoid the attentions of the other motel guests in the process that he had forgotten completely that the bedroom would require a little careful spring cleaning before it was fit for the eyes of a civilian.

"It's okay," he held his hands up as he skirted around the bed and carefully closed the folder, "it's kind of what we do. You too, actually. Guess you could call it a...family business."

Jo's eyes widened and she stared aghast at her boyfriend.

"What? she squeaked, her expression all too clearly conveying her misunderstanding, "killing people?"
Dean chuckled despite the situation, and he shook his head with a smirk. "No sweetheart, we save 'em."

Jo's brow furrowed and she appeared confused by his reply. "From what?"
Dean licked his lips and debated the merits of telling her the truth versus making up an appropriate story that would not send her running for the hills. "Just uh... stuff. Bad stuff."

Jo cocked her head as she pressed curiously, "Like what?"

When his imagination failed to conjure up a suitable cover story, Dean only shrugged his shoulders and resolved that perhaps distraction was the key.

"Oh, hey... this is yours..." he stated, handing Jo her purse and nodding down toward it as he deposited the army green canvas satchel onto her lap, "thought maybe you might remember something?"

Jo shrugged, instantly beginning to rifle through the bag, scattering across the bed a heap of discarded Kleenex packets, pain killers, a flick-knife, an emergency sewing kit, and a wallet.

"Wow. Guess I like to be prepared for everything, huh?" she mused.

"Yeah, you're a regular girl scout," Dean quipped, pausing awkwardly as he found his hand reaching out impulsively to brush a lock of hair back behind her ear.

"Sorry," he said quietly as she shrank back from his touch. He stole a glance over toward Sam, who was busily regaling Bobby with their current dilemma in the hopes he would be able to offer a solution.

"So, you really think you can fix this?" Jo inquired, emptying a stack of cards out of her wallet and running the tip of her index finger over the surface of each one. She noted the numerous aliases, and the fact that in her possession she seemed to have an identification card that suggested she was a part of the FBI as well as a forest ranger. She frowned and fanned the cards out in front of herself, arching an eyebrow.

"I certainly hope so," replied Dean, watching Jo somewhat uneasily as she picked through the contents of the purse.

"How come there's a ton of different names on these?" Jo finally demanded, shooting a challenging glare at Dean, "and how come the hospital told me my name was Elizabeth but you keep calling me Jo?"

Dean opened his mouth to respond, but in the next instant there was an audible flutter of wings and Castiel appeared at his side, wearing his usual trench-coat and stoic expression combination.

"Dean... Joanna," Cas said gruffly in greeting.

Jo's mouth fell open and she stared at Cas, blinking hard as though her eyes were playing tricks on her. Dean sighed, gesturing to the man beside him as Jo seemed either ready to scream or else descend into a catatonic state.

"But you... you... you weren't here... and now... now... you are," Jo babbled, jabbing her finger in Castiel's general direction, "I... I..."
"Jo, this is Cas," Dean relayed, as if making introductions over canapés at a cocktail party, "Cas is an angel."

Turning to address his friend, Dean paused as a heavy, sickening thud and a high pitched sigh interrupted him. Castiel stared down at Jo's unconscious form with a quizzical expression affixed upon his face. Sam glanced up from his phone call only long enough to work out the source of the disruption before he returned his attention to Bobby.

"Joanna is unwell?" Cas queried, watching Dean carefully lift his girlfriend from her new position on the floor and lay her down gently on the bed.

"You could say that," Dean retorted wryly, running his hands through his hair as he tried to calm the nervous tension that was rolling in the pit of his stomach. "This thing we're hunting? It got Jo, and now she's gone all Jason Bourne. I want this fixed, Cas. I want my girlfriend back, so you get your ass up there and you find out what this thing is and how we fix Jo, okay?"

Castiel blinked, glancing aside as he shook his head, "I'm afraid I do not understand. Jason Bourne?"

Dean groaned loudly in exasperation, stalking around the bed as Jo's eyelids began to flutter open once again, "You're so freakin' annoying sometimes, Cas, you know that? Get the hell out of here, and figure out how we fix my girl!"

Castiel looked between Dean and Sam, the latter of whom was pacing a proverbial trench in the floor as he spoke more animatedly than was usual on the phone. Deciding a hasty exit was in his best interest, Castiel nodded in compliance as Jo leant up on her elbows and groggily surveyed the room.

"I will return when I have news," Cas stated, suddenly disappearing from view once again with a similar rustling sound.
A strangled sigh left Jo's lips and, for the second time, her body fell limply back against the mattress, and her eyes rolled in her head.

"Awesome," Dean muttered, beginning to pat Jo's cheeks in an attempt to rouse her from unconsciousness for the second time in as many minutes. He had a feeling it was going to be a long night.

x-x-x

He had only to wade through several memories before he had realised the true identity of the woman posing as 'Elizabeth'. The fact that she was a hunter, and descended from a long line, was apparent the moment he watched the memory of a five year old girl being taught to wield a shotgun by a man in a leather jacket who smelled faintly of gunpowder and salt.

When he watched the man's shrouded body burning on a funeral pyre, surrounded by a sea of stony faces, he learned the woman's true name; Joanna Beth Harvelle. He scrolled through the remaining memories at speed, his blood running cold in his veins as he was subjected to image after terrifying image of the woman dispatching of his supernatural brethren.

However, he slowed down when he reached the last several years, which featured the emergence of new faces and potential companions. This worried him more than he cared to admit.

He sped past images that would usually have kept him engrossed - long, passionate clinches and escapades that brought a blush to his cheeks - and instead brought the past few weeks into focus.

A cheap, rundown motel suddenly flickered into view, betraying the location at which the trio were currently hiding away, biding their time.

The creature dug his hand into the bag of pretzels beside him and chewed thoughtfully, pausing to lick grains of salt from his lips.

Rising from his seat, he decided that a change of plan was now most definitely in order.

The hunters were coming for him, it was only a matter of time; so perhaps now, he would pay them a little visit.