Authors' Note – This fic is a response to a request by Monica. We hope you like this; we had great fun tormenting Dean and Jo!
This fic is a collab project between Silverspoon and WelshWitch1011. A banner for this fic made by Illicitwriter can also be found on our blog, The New Roadhouse.
Reviews fuel the fire of our Dean/Jo love!
January 14th 2011
For a man who had wrestled Wendigos with his bare hands, decapitated a vampire with nothing more than a pocket knife, and battled the devil himself, Dean Winchester had never been more afraid than when sitting opposite Ellen Harvelle at her own kitchen table. His hand, slick with sweat, rested atop Jo's in a way which not entirely accidentally covered the glittering band that had adorned her left hand since the previous evening; and which now served as the cause of the blinding terror that ricocheted through every nerve in Dean's body.
Ellen slid two mugs of coffee across the table and gripped her own mug between interlaced fingers. Her eyes, narrowed in suspicion, never once wavered from her daughter's face, and Dean noted the cool smile that Jo flashed her mother with awe. However, as she reached with her left hand for her coffee mug, Dean tightened his grip on her fingers and pulled the offending limb back down to his side, extracting a yelp from his fiancé in the process.
"So come on you two, spit it out," Ellen demanded, finally having grown tired of the curtain of silence that had descended on the house since the couple had arrived. "You've got somethin' to tell me and I'm not gonna like it one bit."
Dean giggled- actually giggled- an uncharacteristically high-pitched, and obviously nervous sound that sent both of Ellen's brows sky rocketing upwards. She affixed a sour frown upon her face, and turned to Jo.
"You pregnant Joanna Beth?" she demanded, glaring sideways at Dean for the reaction that would give him away in seconds, and have Ellen reaching for her shotgun.
"What? No!" Jo replied instantly, rolling her eyes for effect as she shot her mother a withering glare.
"No! No!" Dean added, widening his eyes to convey the sincerity in their denial.
"Hmmm..." Ellen pursed her lips, leaning back in her chair as she surveyed Jo analytically and then cast her gaze over Dean, who visibly paled at her attention. "Well good, because I'm too young to be a grandmother... and I like you, boy. It'd be a shame for me to have to kill you."
"Yes ma'am," Dean nodded, licking his lips as he found his mouth entirely dry. Jo sighed in exasperation and attempted to wiggle her hand free from under Dean's furious grip. He glanced up at her with wary eyes and an expression that clearly questioned her sanity.
"Mom... okay, so..." Jo began, trying to concoct a suitably tactful and painless way of telling her mother her only daughter was engaged to a fellow hunter; and not only a hunter, but a Winchester at that.
"Well, here it comes..." Ellen gritted her teeth, her hands fastening around her mug as she took a slow, steadying breath and prepared herself for the worst.
"We're getting married," Jo said bluntly, feeling Dean crush her hand in his. Dean winced as he watched Ellen's as of yet impassive expression for signs of a reaction.
"Bullshit," Ellen challenged, glancing between the couple as a smirk settled on her lips, "is it April first around here?"
Jo and Dean exchanged suitably confused glances, before they simultaneously turned their attention back to Ellen who was now chuckling to herself.
"Mom, we're serious," Jo implored, arching an eyebrow as Ellen took a sip of her coffee and gestured to Dean with a suitably derisive guffaw.
"You ain't the marrying kind, Winchester," she stated in a matter of fact tone, ignoring the indignant expression that flashed across the young man's features.
"Well, no... no, I mean, not before. Not with all the other girls," he stammered, suddenly hearing his own words in his head, and beginning to backtrack with haste as Ellen narrowed her eyes. "Not that there were... I mean... it's just..."
Dean ran his hand over the back of his head, and a blush rose up from his neck to taint his cheeks.
"I... I love her," he stated, deciding to forego any last traces of self respect. Ellen Harvelle was a formidable woman, and Dean knew that she would do everything in her power to protect the best interests of her beloved daughter; if he was to spend the rest of his life with Ellen as his mother-in-law, Dean had to begin the painful process of complete and utter honesty if he hoped to get her on side.
"Huh..." Ellen simply observed, her eyes falling to the rim of her coffee mug. Her expression was unreadable to Dean but, as he noted Jo reach one hand across the table in comfort to her mother, he realised that she could read Ellen like a book.
Ellen glanced down at the hand that rested over her own, and a somewhat forced smile twitched at the corners of her lips.
"You happy, Jo?" she demanded, cocking her head to one side as she evaluated her daughter. Jo's cheeks coloured, and she carefully avoided Dean's gaze as she nodded in vehement confirmation.
"Yeah, I am Mom," she murmured, exchanging delighted grins with Ellen, who abruptly shoved her chair aside in order to gather her daughter into her arms. She hugged Jo tight and rubbed her back with one hand, murmuring something unintelligible into her hair that caused Jo to sniffle. Dean watched the scene askance, amazed by how quickly Ellen's mood could shift.
"Then I'm happy too," Ellen replied, planting a kiss on the blonde crown of Jo's head, and then turning sharply to Dean, who straightened up in his seat. She barked hoarsely, "You take care of my girl, Dean, or so help me I'll wear your god-damn testicles as earrings."
Dean swallowed hard as he whispered in reply, "Yes ma'am."
And he did not doubt the weight of Ellen's threat for even a second.
January 17th 2011
The next few days passed without event as the couple shared their happy news with those closest to them, and went about their every day lives.
Bobby had offered his congratulations with the obligatory wise crack they had both been expecting, whilst Castiel digested the information as any other celestial being would; with complete and total indifference.
Sam however made no attempt to mask his happiness at his brother's impending nuptials or, for that matter, his choice of bride. Over the three years Jo and Dean had been dating, Sam had grown to love Jo almost as a sister, and he could not image a more perfect match for his older brother.
After the events of the last year, particularly those in Carthage only a few weeks previously, Sam was thrilled that Dean had something good in his life. For once, it appeared that Dean had decided to seize any and all happiness he could.
It was as their undeniably oddball yet close family gathered together for the purpose of celebrating the recent engagement, that the topic of the wedding itself first arose. It was a conversation that the couple, despite their occasionally exhibitionist tendencies, had been dreading. Neither Dean nor Jo wanted their wedding to be a fussy event, preferring instead to focus their attentions on the marriage thereafter. However, Jo had prepared Dean for the fact that Ellen was unlikely to allow the notion of the perfect wedding for her only child to pass by without a fight.
"So, you guys thought of setting a date yet?" Sam queried, smiling gratefully at Ellen as she placed a steak before him on the table.
Jo shrugged, reaching for the salt as she glanced down at her own plate, "Not really. We figure we'll just go to Vegas or something between hunts. I mean... the whole big wedding thing isn't really us."
Dean nodded in agreement, swallowing his mouthful of beer as he accepted the bowl of potatoes Bobby passed to him and heaped a generous helping onto his plate.
"Is that really what you want, sweetie?" Ellen inquired, striving to remain impartial as she shook off a grimace and sliced into her steak with vigour.
"What's wrong with Vegas?" Jo challenged, her defenses immediately raised as she glared at her mother. Her fork was poised above a slice of carrot, which she stabbed at venomously as she watched Ellen lower her own cutlery and affix her with a frown. Sam and Bobby exchanged worried glances, as Dean shoveled a forkful of potato into his mouth to prevent from being drawn into the impending row.
"Well nothin' if you like overweight, balding guys in white jumpsuits," she sniped, struggling to contain a derisive sneer. Jo popped the carrot into her mouth and her eyes narrowed as she stared at her mother. After several moments of uncomfortable silence, Jo gulped down her mouthful of food and affixed Ellen with a level gaze.
"Well, what else do you suggest Mom?" she challenged, actually planting both hands on her hips as she regarded Ellen. "It's not like we have a ton of money stuffed under our mattress, and in our line of work, we're not exactly picking up a steady pay check each month. It's just easier this way."
Her voice dropped significantly as she added, "Besides... I was never the little girl sitting dreaming about her wedding day. Mom, you know that. It's just a wedding; it's the whole being married thing afterwards that's important."
Ellen nodded, dabbing at her mouth with a napkin in an uncharacteristically demure fashion, "No, that's true. But you're gonna do this once, Jo. I don't want you to have any regrets. And... I have money. Not a fortune, but it'd pay for the church, a dress and a real nice shin dig afterwards. Maybe even enough to send you two kids off somewhere warm and touristy for a couple days, to do things no mother wants to know about."
Dean coughed, almost choking on his food, and his eyes watered as he held his fist up to his mouth. Sam slapped his brother across the back, and Dean shot him a glare.
"Mom... we can't let you do that," Jo shook her head determinedly, although touched by Ellen's offer, "you need that money."
"You're my only daughter, Jo. You're... well, you're all I've got in this world and the only damn thing that means anything to me. Let me do this for you," Ellen pressed, watching as Dean and Jo exchanged dubious glances.
"I got a few bucks to chip in," Bobby stated, turning expectantly to the couple.
"No, Bobby, that's just too much," Dean replied in haste, suddenly losing all appetite for the meal before him as the magnitude of his own wedding began to snowball out of his control.
"Shut up boy," Bobby growled with a characteristic snarl, "you're the closest damn thing I got to a son. You'll take my money and you'll like it."
"Yes sir," Dean muttered, his words seeming to blend into one as Bobby stared at him across the table, one bushy eyebrow arched as he almost dared Dean to argue with him again.
"Well, that's settled then," Ellen declared, her eyes beginning to sparkle in a manner that sent a shudder of unease through Dean's spine. "We'll have this thing planned in no time. Just you two wait and see- it'll be the best day of your lives."
Jo and Dean exchanged looks, and both simultaneously pushed aside their still laden dinner plates.
Blissfully unaware, their family chattered on around them.
January 30th 2011
"This is getting out of control!" Jo exclaimed, picking up a stack of bridal magazines her mother had deposited on the nightstand, and eyeing them apprehensively. With the date for the wedding now set for five months' time, Ellen Harvelle had practically gone into overdrive on the planning front. It seemed that every time Jo glanced at her mother, she was on the phone yelling at a florist or caterer, or pouring over her three page list of things to be done before the big day. Sam could often be seen trailing in her wake like a large, over-eager puppy, as he scrawled down the orders that Ellen barked at him, and attempted to work on his best man speech. Dean had never formally asked his brother to partake in that honour, but the Winchesters' bond was so tight that it had simply been assumed by everyone involved that Sam could have no other role.
Dean nodded in agreement, pulling the covers up over them both as Jo dropped the magazines with a thud onto the floor and settled into his arms.
"You wanna call it off?" Dean asked, glancing down at her as he saw her eyes widen with uncertainty, and she attempted to process the intent behind his suggestion.
"Is that what you want?" she murmured, wondering if Dean perhaps was coming down with a raging case of cold feet.
"No!" He shook his head, suddenly realising her misinterpretation of his suggestion.
"No," he stated again, this time more emphatically as he rolled Jo beneath him and gazed down at her imploringly, "that's not what I meant, Jo. I just think if this is gonna make you anxious or unhappy, then maybe we should just, you know..."
"Elope?" Jo suggested with an arched eyebrow, looping her arms around his neck as she considered their options. "As appealing as that sounds right now, my Mom would kill us."
"Yeah, but... at the risk of her hating me forever... this is about you and me, sweetheart. Now, if you wanna go along with all this wedding crap, then I'm in. Hell, I'll even write a speech and learn how to fix a bow tie, but it's gotta be what you want."
Dean pressed a kiss against her lips, smiling as her fingertips traced his jaw and she peered back up at him with an expression of such utter adoration that it made his chest ache.
"Mom's been through a lot," Jo admonished, heaving a small sigh as she continued to stroke Dean's cheek. "If having a big wedding will make her happy, then I guess I can go along with it."
"You sure?" Dean queried, arching an eyebrow as he surveyed Jo, who nodded before nestling herself into his arms.
"Why not?" she replied, evidently attempting to talk herself round to the idea, "who knows, it could be fun- the dress, the party..."
"The wedding night," Dean teased, waggling both eyebrows now and succeeding in extracting a giggle from Jo, who swatted playfully at his chest.
"Please honey," she retorted with a roll of her eyes, "like you need an excuse."
Dean smirked as he sought out her lips, kissing her eagerly in response until she giggled against his mouth and gasped to catch her breath.
"Totally your fault for being hot," he shrugged, brushing an affectionate kiss to her cheek as he wrapped his arms around her and released a thoroughly contented sigh.
"Hey, I wasn't complaining," she informed him with a smile, closing her eyes as she let her head fall against his chest, suddenly overcome by fatigue.
"Hmm?" he replied sleepily, not bothering to open his eyes as he reached blindly to turn the light out.
"Are you nervous?" she glanced up at him in the darkness, squinting to make out his expression as he mulled over her question.
"Not about the wedding," she clarified, "I mean, about... marriage?"
Dean remained silent for a few moments before replying truthfully, "No. I mean... it's you and me, Jo."
"Okay," she accepted his response with a somewhat disbelieving air about her, frowning as she pressed the subject, "but the whole 'one woman for the rest of your life' thing, that doesn't freak you out?"
She felt his body shake beneath her as he chuckled softly and, rubbing his palm over her back, he brushed a kiss against the top of her head. "Not if it's you."
February 19th 2011
"What's wrong with that one?" Ellen demanded, throwing her hands up in a dramatic gesture as Jo screwed up her nose and flicked the page of the magazine with obvious disdain.
"There's like a million buttons on the back of that thing," Jo exclaimed, making a similarly dismissive noise as she scanned the dress on the next page also.
"I think it's nice, it's... it's elegant," Ellen stated, glancing across the table as she looked for support, "back me up here, Sam."
"Not another word out of you, ," Jo refused to lift her gaze from the magazine as she held up a finger toward her future brother in-law, similarly exasperated and yet amused by the interest he was taking in the forthcoming ceremony.
Sam allowed a rather uncharacteristic scowl to cross his face, and folded his arms across his broad chest as he leaned back in his seat to regard Jo. The younger Winchester brother had thrown himself into the planning stages of the wedding along with Ellen, acting as her figurative 'right hand man' in all manner of ventures from collecting dress brochures for Jo to peruse, to actually helping to hand craft the invitations that Ellen had designed. In fact, Ellen had been pleasantly surprised by Sam's apparent talent for decoupage, and his overall enthusiasm for ensuring that the wedding went off without a hitch.
"There must be something in one of those that you like," Sam challenged, arching an eyebrow at Jo, who he suspected of being deliberately difficult on the matter of a wedding dress.
"Well, there just isn't," Jo replied snootily, slamming closed the heavy catalogue and glancing up at her mother. "I still don't see why I can't just wear my jeans."
Sam let out a derisive snort that caused both Harvelle women to turn sharply in his direction.
"Sure," he grumbled, "and whilst you're at it, you could serve mini cheeseburgers as appetisers and have the bridesmaids dress in pink leisure suits."
"Someone say something about cheeseburgers? Alright, I'm headed out with Bobby to take care of that poltergeist up at the old mill... you kids play nicely," Dean announced, striding through the room as he hauled his shotgun up onto his shoulder and tried to ignore the irritated glances he received from both Sam and Ellen.
"Wait for me!" Jo called after him, almost falling off her seat in her haste as she sprinted after him. Dean paused on the back porch, halting his steps only to exchange a few muted words with his fiancée and to press a hasty kiss against her lips.
Glancing back toward her mother and Sam, Jo nodded over toward the car and led Dean from the house.
"Hey! We aren't done here!" Ellen yelled, sighing and folding her arms across her chest. She watched with gritted teeth as the screen door slammed closed behind Bobby, and Dean and Jo stalked hand in hand toward the Impala. "Jo? Joanna Beth? Get your ass back here!"
Ellen stood beside the door, hands perched on her hips, as she sighed in frustration.
"Why is it only you and me who give a rat's ass about this thing?" she demanded, pulling Sam's gaze away from the image of a smiling brunette who seemed to be capturing his attention from the pages of one of the bridal magazines.
Sam cleared his throat guiltily and shrugged, glancing diplomatically at the soda can in his hand, "You know, maybe we should just let them do it their way? I guess it is their wedding... if they don't want..."
"No!" Ellen interrupted, holding up her hand as she refused to listen to reason, "this is my only daughter's wedding day, Sam... and I'm gonna make sure she has everything she's ever wanted... even if she doesn't know she wants it, she's gonna damn well get it."
Sam frowned, momentarily confused by Ellen's logic, and decided to stay silent on the subject rather than risk incurring her wrath.
"We'll just have to work our way through what we can until they get back later," Ellen sighed, refusing to admit defeat in the face of adversity, although she could not resist adding sourly, "damned ungrateful kids."
February 20th 2011
Jo and Dean had returned from the poltergeist hunt covered in fresh bruises yet in remarkably high spirits. It appeared that the chance to level her shotgun at some unspeakable evil was all it had required for Jo to work out some of her earlier frustrations at her mother's relentlessness. Whilst Jo wanted a pleasant enough affair, her patience regarding the finer details of the impending wedding was wearing thin. With Vegas ruled out, she would have much preferred to have left such things in Ellen's more than capable hands; however, her mother was being irritatingly and unwaveringly insistent that Jo should have an opinion on everything from napkin colours to sugar coated almonds- none of which succeeded in igniting even the faintest spark of interest in the hunter.
Jo had never been the girly type, dreaming of her wedding day or gazing into the window of bridal stores longingly, and that was something that Ellen had always been perfectly okay with; until of course, Jo's refusal to cooperate with her planning had made her rue the day that she had ever allowed her four year old daughter to dress in boys' dungarees as opposed to several layers of pink taffeta.
Ellen was mulling over that very fact when Dean and Jo stumbled through the doorway of Bobby's kitchen, arms entwined and goofy grins spread across their faces.
"Hey Mom," Jo said, her tone somewhat hesitant. Ellen huffed in response, turning her back on the couple and pretending to busy herself with examining material swatches in various, nauseating shades of pastel.
"What'cha doin'?" inquired Jo, widening her eyes and sidling up to her mother, who shrugged off the hand that Jo laid on her shoulder.
"Lookin' at swatches," Ellen replied, her shoulders hunched and her chin tipped in an almost comically dejected manner. Amusement flashed briefly over Dean's features before, in fear of his life, he managed to rein it in.
"The hotel need to know what colour bows they should put over the back of the chairs... if you even care..." Ellen sniffed once more for emphasis, and continued to rifle through the strips of silky material, which Jo eyed with disguised distaste.
Jo shrugged, clearing her throat and trying to look as interested as possible as Ellen released a melancholy sigh.
"Um... purple?" Jo suggested, glancing up at Dean for approval.
"Sure, yeah... purple works for me," he agreed, frowning as he reconsidered Ellen's initial question.
"What's she talking about?" Dean mouthed, affixing a broad smile on his face as Ellen glanced sharply at him, having caught the action out of the corner of her eye.
"I don't know," Jo whispered, smiling apologetically at her mother as she turned and looped her arms around Dean's neck.
"You need a few minutes?" Dean inquired, already anticipating Jo's question. She smiled and nodded, rewarding him with a brief kiss which he instantly reciprocated.
"I'll be out back..." he said, brushing his lips against her temple as he whispered covertly in her ear and then disappeared out of the door, the usual Winchester swagger in place.
"It's not really my kind of thing either, you know," Ellen blurted out as soon as the door began to swing in Dean's wake, "all this wedding crap, I mean. But I want you to have the things I didn't. I don't want you to look back and have regrets. You're only gonna do this once, Jo..."
She arched an eyebrow playfully and added with a grin, "...Probably."
"Mom!" Jo objected, nudging her mother in the ribs but giggling despite herself. Her expression sobered as she continued, "We do appreciate everything you're doing. It's just..."
"Yeah, I know," Ellen replied, rolling her eyes and chuckling, "you've never really been the girly-girl type. I blame your father."
Jo nodded, and Ellen noted the almost sorrowful frown that tugged the corners of her daughter's mouth downwards.
"What'd I say?" Ellen demanded, all concern now as she realised that something had struck a nerve with her daughter. Jo shrugged, forcing a smile as she attempted to make light of the situation, and to not upset her mother with thoughts she was certain the older woman had already entertained.
"I just wish Dad could be there is all," Jo answered simply, averting her gaze as Ellen pulled her into an embrace.
"Me too, sweetie," she said, her voice thick with emotion she dared not allow herself to express. Ellen was determined that the wedding would be a happy affair, despite the glaring absence of both the parents of the groom, and also the key-figure of the father of the bride. Her own father had given her away at her wedding, and she would never forget the look of pride in his eyes as he surveyed her for the first time in her gown right before he had walked her down the aisle to Bill. The moment had been perfect to Ellen, and it tugged at her heart that Jo would not experience the same.
"It'll be a good day, kiddo, I promise," Ellen vowed, pressing a kiss to Jo's head as she squeezed her tightly.
"I know," Jo agreed, running her fingertips absently over the edge of one of the swatches, "Mom, can I ask you something?"
Ellen shrugged, indicating that there was no topic that could not be broached between mother and daughter, "Sure. Something wrong?"
"No, I..." Jo folded her arms across her chest and leant back against the kitchen counter, her expression indicating her distinct level of discomfort. She suddenly blurted out, "You think Dad would like Dean?"
"What, would he approve of him, you mean?" Ellen frowned, mirroring her daughter's stance as the two women stood side by side, the color palette of the wedding momentarily forgotten.
"Yeah," Jo replied quietly, avoiding her mother's gaze as she heard Ellen exhale.
"Because he's a Winchester, or because he's a reckless, self-assured, wise cracking, smart ass?" Ellen chuckled, cajoling Jo with her elbow.
Jo laughed, but her expression remained unchanged, "Both, I guess?"
Ellen nodded again, allowing a silence to befall them before she replied, "Your Dad and John were good friends... the best of friends. And for all his faults, Dean's a good kid."
"I know," Jo smiled, briefly interrupting her mother before falling silent once again.
"I think your Dad would've liked him just fine," Ellen declared, her eyes misting over with unshed tears as the events of recent months sprang to mind. "You know... back there, back when..."
Ellen swallowed hard, blinking away the images that the mere mention of a hardware store in Carthage instantly provoked.
"Mom, don't," Jo implored, hating to see her mother visibly crumble whenever Jo's near death at the jaws of the hell hounds became the topic of conversation.
"No," Ellen said firmly, determined to finish her sentence, "back there... before Cas showed up, and we thought... we thought we were gonna lose you- I saw his face, you know? I... I..."
Jo placed her hand on her mother's arm, watching sadly as a tear descended her cheek, which Ellen brushed away as though it had never fallen.
"Dean loves you, Jo... any idiot can see that, and that's enough for me, and that'd be enough for your Dad. Okay?"
"Okay," Jo replied, unsurprised to find herself pulled into another crushing embrace. Ellen drew back and regarded Jo with sudden suspiciousness.
"Would it have made any difference what I said, anyway?" she checked, a dark eyebrow arched as she peered down at her daughter and held her at arm's length.
Jo laughed as her mother rolled her eyes and shook her head in disdain. Ellen opened her mouth to respond but was abruptly silenced by the ringing of Bobby's telephone. Bobby's home had become the sort of mutually agreed base for the hunters, and between jobs both the Winchesters and Harvelles settled there. Thus, Ellen had been doling Bobby's number out right, left and centre since she had begun planning the wedding.
Jo seated herself at the kitchen table, fingering the swatches and half listening to the conversation Ellen was engaged in out in the hallway. However, Jo had no need to strain as Ellen's voice suddenly resounded throughout the entire house, and probably into the scrap yard as well.
"WHAT?" the woman shrieked, before launching into an enraged tirade that was peppered with more expletives than was usually characteristic. Jo sat up straighter in her chair, cocking her head to one side as she listened to Ellen slam the phone down into the cradle and stomp into the kitchen
"Mom?" Jo queried, arching an eyebrow and staring at her mother as though she had lost her mind. Ellen simply stood, breathing hard, her hands curled into fists at her side.
"Well, the hotel just cancelled," Ellen announced sourly, plopping down into the chair opposite Jo.
Jo winced, flipping with feigned interest through the pages of the book before her.
"So, we'll find somewhere else?" she said, shrugging as though the matter were quite that simple. Both women glanced up at the screen door as Dean sauntered in, looking to Jo first to ascertain if his presence would now be welcomed.
"Don't worry, it's safe, girl talk's done," Ellen stated, smiling despite her sky rocketing stress levels. Dean nodded in relief and moved to stand behind Jo. Planting his hands on her shoulders, he squeezed her affectionately and leant over to get a better look at the fabric swatches she was leafing through.
The ringing of Ellen's cell phone startled the couple, and with an expression of blind fury on her face, Ellen seized the offending item from the table top and marched off toward the back porch in grim determination.
"What's with..." Dean began, dropping down into the chair next to Jo as she slammed the book closed with a weary sigh and dropped her head onto her arms.
"The hotel cancelled," she stated, turning her head to face him, and smiling as he shuffled closer, pulling her to him as he leant his chin atop her head.
"So, we'll find some place else?" he ventured, clearly not understanding the finer points of wedding planning.
"You want to go tell my Mom that?" Jo teased, grinning as Dean considered this for all of a second and then cocked his head with a pointed smile.
"Not a whole lot, no," he replied, flashing a charming grin as he craned his neck and kissed her.
Jo inclined her body toward his and looped her arms around his neck, humming in pleasure as their lips met again and again, and they sank into a lingering kiss.
"You think your Mom would notice if we snuck upstairs?" he suggested breathlessly, his fingertips dipping down into the band of her jeans and caressing the small of her back.
Jo slid her hand up his chest and pressed her lips to his, finding her whispered and suitably suggestive response immediately halted as Sam ambled into the kitchen.
"No," she grumbled, rolling her eyes in Sam's direction as she added quietly, "but Sam might."
"What's up with Ellen?" Sam inquired in evident confusion, pausing in order to rifle through the refrigerator in search of a snack. Snagging a half empty bottle of juice, Sam unscrewed the cap and downed the contents.
"The hotel just cancelled the reception," Jo revealed as Sam was poised to swallow a mouthful of juice. The gasp he released almost choked him, and Sam spluttered, sending a torrent of orange juice across the kitchen floor.
Dean turned to Jo, one eyebrow arched as he murmured, "This... is going to be real interesting."
"It's no big deal," Jo shrugged, reaching behind her and placing her palm against Dean's jaw as he pressed a kiss to her neck.
"We'll just find somewhere else," Dean agreed, biting back a smirk at the shocked and indignant expression that flashed across his sibling's face.
"It's kind of short notice, Dean," Sam snapped, staring ahead of him in a contemplative gesture. "You wanna look at other venues? I can give you guys a hand and call a couple of places?"
Dean and Jo wore similarly unimpressed grimaces, something Sam was all too quick to catch on to.
"You know, a little enthusiasm from you guys would be nice," he remarked irritably, sighing and folding his arms against his chest as he watched them.
Jo flinched under the weight of his gaze, patting Dean's hand to halt its progress as it slid around her waist to perhaps unsuitable terrain.
"We're sorry Sam," Jo repented, swatting Dean's wandering hand away and affixing him with a reproachful look. "We're excited, really. Right, Dean?"
At the swift elbow he received to his ribs, Dean forced a smile and nodded.
"Oh yeah, like you wouldn't believe," he grumbled, glaring at his fiancée as Sam set about gathering together a stack of leaflets and brochures from venues that had been dismissed weeks ago, but mercifully never relegated to the trash.
Under his breath, Dean added, "Tell me again why we can't go to Vegas?"
March 5th 2011
"I hate it!" Jo protested, lips twisted into a mutinous frown and hands planted on her hips. Ellen arched an eyebrow and flung a dirty look at Sam, who had been the one to insist that Jo try on the current gown. The trio had been wedding dress shopping since the stores had opened at nine, and five hours and forty-three gowns later, seemed no closer to discovering the 'perfect' dress for Jo. The store assistants had long ago lost all patience with their customer and wandered off to pour glasses of champagne that had never materialised; Ellen presumed the women had downed them themselves after the hour they had spent in her daughter's company.
"What's the matter with this one?" Sam demanded, crossing his legs as he sank back against the soft cushions of the armchair he occupied in order to preside over proceedings.
"I like it," Ellen declared, folding her arms across her chest and sighing in annoyance as Jo shrugged and rested her hands on her hips.
"Yeah, me too," Sam nodded in agreement, stifling a yawn as he rubbed at his bleary eyes in a desperate attempt to thwart exhaustion.
"Well I don't," Jo replied simply, ambling over toward the dress rail nearest the mirror and plucking a simple, satin, fitted ivory gown from amidst the mass of tulle, taffeta, and lace.
"I'm gonna try this on, and then I swear to Lucifer, I'm going home... if I so much as see another wedding gown..." Jo threatened, lifting the hem of the dress she was wearing as she padded back into the changing cubicle and hefted the curtain across with a dramatic sigh.
Ellen sat down heavily on the couch next to Sam, raising her eyebrow as she heard Jo release a string of muffled expletives before her head popped out of the curtain.
"A little help here?" she demanded shortly, now devoid of any last shred of patience.
"You wanna go?" Ellen inquired, adding at the raised brow Sam directed towards her, "promise I won't tell Dean."
Sam chuckled and firmly shook his head, to which Ellen grumbled and clambered to her feet, disappearing into the dressing room to aid Jo. Seconds later, the clear sounds of mother-daughter bickering could be heard emanating from beneath the thick, velour curtain.
Leaning back against the armchair cushions, Sam allowed his eyes to flutter closed and folded his hands across his chest.
"Tough day?" a soft, female voice inquired. Sam's eyelids flew open, and he found himself staring into the face of a redhead, who was leaning against a stationary dress rack wearing a similarly bored expression to the one Jo had been sporting all afternoon.
Sam snorted in response, finding it genuinely impossible to adequately voice Jo's feelings on the tradition of dress shopping with one's mother.
"The worst," he eventually replied, noting the transfixing way in which the woman's eyes sparkled when she laughed. She was rather ordinary looking on the whole; short, petite, and possessing the kind of plain and unassuming features that could blend into any crowd comfortably. Her hair, however, was a different story entirely; flaming red tresses stretched down her back and ended at her waist, and yet not a single hair seemed to be out of place or in the slightest fly away. There was something appealing about the woman, but Sam was damned if he could put his finger on it. He found though that he did not mind in the slightest when she took a few steps towards him and moved as though to sit at his side. At the last moment however, she simply stood adjacent to the armchair, and Sam noticed for the first time that she was clutching a dress in her arms, still fastened to the hanger.
"Are you buying"? Sam asked, gesturing to the dress with a curt nod of his head. The woman seemed surprised, before she shot a glance down at the garment clutched to her chest and immediately dissolved into laughter.
"God, no," she snorted between giggles, shaking her head as though the idea were ridiculous. "I'm here with my sister. Enduring my torment. She just got done with the first hundred fifty-six dresses, and now I think we're about to begin the first leg of the last two hundred ninety-nine."
"I know the feeling," Sam replied, dropping his head back against the cushions, "my sister in-law... well, I guess she will be soon... seems pretty determined to try on and systematically hate every dress in the store."
The woman laughed and shrugged diplomatically, "Important decision, your wedding gown. I guess she has a right to be picky."
Sam snorted and gestured over toward Jo and Ellen, groaning inwardly as the former stepped out in the latest dress and immediately began a scathing critique.
"Picky doesn't even cut it," Sam said with a tight smile.
"So I see," the woman observed with a chuckle, wincing in sympathy as Ellen ran her hands through her hair and looked for all the world as if she were about to strangle her daughter.
"Your brother know what he's letting himself in for?" She arched an eyebrow, watching Sam carefully out of the corner of her eye.
"Dean?" Sam smirked, shaking his head as he considered the overall compatibility of the couple, "let's just say he and Jo were pretty much made for each other."
The redhead smiled thoughtfully, propping her chin in her hand as she stifled a yawn, "Well, I guess that means it's gonna be a marriage made in heaven, or... the other place."
Nodding in veritable agreement, Sam laughed at her observation. He ran his hand over his face wearily as Jo marched back behind the curtain, and the hunt for a suitable wedding gown continued.
"Hey, why don't you see if she likes this one? I mean... my sister has like forty dresses to wade through right now, she's not gonna miss it," the woman suggested, holding up the ivory chiffon and lace gown she held for Sam to examine.
"Thanks," Sam said, smiling as he reached out to accept the dress, and his eyes widened appreciatively when his fingers brushed the luxurious satin bodice that was lined with delicate diamantes. "Woah, this is really beautiful."
The redhead grinned, her features brightening as she shrugged.
"Hey, if I can spare you another ten stores then great," she enthused, reaching out and squeezing Sam's shoulder in a familiar gesture that he found he did not mind in the slightest.
"Well, it was real nice to meet you...?" Sam began, his sentence trailing off into an unspoken question as he waited for the woman to supply her name.
"Carolynn," she offered, her smile widening as she began to walk backwards away from Sam, and towards the outer store, "maybe I'll see you around again soon... once all this wedding craziness is over."
"Uh, sure, yeah..." Sam stammered, beaming rather inanely as he watched her offer him a final departing wave and then disappear from view.
"Okay, thats it... I'm done!" Jo announced as she yanked back the curtain of the fitting room, an armful of discarded dresses clutched to her chest.
"Joanna Beth, you are gonna give me grey hairs!" Ellen retorted, taking the dresses from her and beginning to hang them haphazardly over a nearby rail.
"Hey, Jo..." Sam began, holding up a hand defensively as Jo glared at him, her brown eyes narrowed to expectant slits.
"Yeah?" she barked, tapping her foot on the ground, a gesture Sam could not fail to notice.
"What about this one?"
He offered the dress with a shrug, hoping his apparent indifference might work in his favour against Jo's defiance.
Jo glared at the hanger that Sam held outstretched over one arm, and snatched it without a word. It was only as she turned to storm back into the dressing room that she wheeled around to say her piece, her features contorted by her fury.
"I will try this one last dress on," Jo stated, almost as though she were doing both Sam and her mother a favour, "and when I hate it- because I will hate it, just the same as I have hated every dress I've tried on so far- I am going home, to eat an entire tub of ice cream, and neither of you are even going to contemplate stopping me. Got it?"
"Wouldn't dream of it," Ellen yelled, her eyes narrowed as she watched Jo's retreating form. Sam let out a chuckle of genuine amusement, and settled back into the armchair, watching as Ellen began to pace the extent of the floor.
"What are we going to do, Sam?" she demanded, her tone coloured with panic, "we have a month until the wedding, and we still don't have a dress, a cake, a caterer..."
"We'll figure something out," Sam assured her, watching with a sympathetic smile as Ellen near collapsed beside him and folded her arms across her chest.
"I don't know, Sam. Maybe we should just let them go to Vegas," Ellen said in defeat, closing her eyes and leaning her head back against the plush fabric of the couch.
"We'll work it out, Ellen," Sam promised, placing his hand over hers and squeezing it affectionately.
Flashing him a bone weary smile, Ellen's expression suddenly sobered as she stared down into her lap, avoiding the younger Winchester's gaze as she inquired, "You think they'll be happy, Sam?"
Sam blinked, the question wholly unexpected, and he paused momentarily to contemplate his answer.
Shrugging off any uncertainty, Sam nodded, and a small grin settled upon his lips as he replied, "Yeah, I know they will."
Ellen arched an eyebrow and nodded, as if his brief reply had been all she had needed to hear. "I think so too."
The sound of the dressing room curtain being yanked back suddenly caught their attention, and both Ellen and Sam glanced up to see Jo stepping out of the cubicle, holding up the skirt of the ivory, brushed satin dress she wore.
Ellen felt her breath catch in her chest and she blinked back a sentimental tear as she surveyed her daughter. Sam's eyes similarly widened and he exhaled slowly, a whispered 'wow' slipping from his lips.
"I guess this one isn't so bad," Jo stated, with just the faintest trace of a sulky expression upon her face. Having been determined to hate each and every dress she tried on, it had come as something of a shock to her to have taken a strange yet instant liking to this particular gown.
The bodice was fitted like a corset, strapless and secured by an invisible zip, thus eliminating the need for numerous tiny buttons or the yards of ribbon that Jo detested. A thick band of diamantes glittered above Jo's chest and, as her eyes roved the store in discomfort, she found herself almost immediately picking out a tiara and veil that would match. The skirt was full but to just the right extent, flowing off her hips and accentuating her tiny waist nicely. The hem of the dress swept the ground yet somehow it all seemed to sit so right on Jo's petite figure, where many of the other gowns she had tried on had drowned her in miles of constricting fabric. On the whole, it was beautiful in its elegance and simplicity, and Jo had found herself examining her reflection in the full length mirror with a degree of admiration. For the first time in her life, Joanna Harvelle felt truly beautiful.
"Oh... Jo..." Ellen breathed, moving forwards and encircling her daughter in an embrace, which Jo allowed with none of her usual abrasiveness.
"Jo, you look..." Sam began, trailing off and blinking in surprise as he noted the tears descending Jo's cheeks, despite the delighted smile that twisted her lips.
"I think this is the one guys," Jo murmured, examining herself once again in the mirror and twirling girlishly as Ellen looked on, her hands clasped in wonder above her heart. Hefting an audible but apparently unnoticed sigh of relief, Sam allowed a silent prayer of thanks to the mystery red-head who had saved them all from another thankless day of dress shopping, and a quart of Ben and Jerrys.
April 3rd 2011
Pacing the back room of the chapel, Dean jammed his fingers down the collar of his shirt, and blew out a shaky breath. Beads of perspiration were beginning to form on his forehead, and his skin had taken on a decidedly pale pallor over the last half hour.
"I can't breathe in this damn thing," he complained, yanking the stiff white cotton away from his neck as he continued to walk circles around the room, ignoring the amused expression playing across his brother's features.
"Dean, would you just calm down?" Sam soothed, apparently amused by the panic attack that had overcome Dean almost as soon as they had stepped foot in the church.
"I am calm!" Dean snapped, not missing the chuckle that his response provoked. "Yeah, yuk it up."
Sam yawned, stretching his arms above his head as he leant back in his seat, "Hey man, you were the one who proposed."
"I know that. You think I don't know that?" Dean bit back, sitting down heavily in the chair opposite from Sam as he leant his elbows on the table and attempted to suck in a calming breath, "I just... I just got a bad feeling about this, Sammy. A real bad feeling."
"I think it's a little late for cold feet now, Dean," Sam replied, his concern growing at the idea that his commitment-phobic brother was genuinely contemplating ditching his bride at the altar; a bride who would undoubtedly be furious, and not averse to using a shotgun to communicate said displeasure. Sam folded his hands together and shot his brother what he hoped was an impassioned look. "Hey, listen to me, you can't do that to Jo. She..."
"I'm not talking about Jo," Dean snarled incredulously, narrowing his eyes as he regarded Sam with a thoroughly indignant expression.
"You're not?" Sam frowned, now entirely confused as to the source of Dean's panic.
"No, dude, are you nuts? Of course I'm not talking about Jo, I... you know... I love her," he said quietly, hiding his discomfort behind a cough.
"Well then..." Sam began, shaking his head to convey his lack of understanding.
"Haven't you noticed that everything has been going wrong lately?" Dean demanded, raising an eyebrow as he continued, his tone laced with anxiety, "the reception venue, the flowers... Hell, even the minister came down with chicken pox last week and we had to get a last minute replacement. Now, there's a room of fifty people out there, Sammy... fifty hunters and a dead dude in a tux..."
"Okay, you just lost me," Sam stated, glancing at the door as Bobby poked his head around the jamb and pointed to his watch, mouthing 'Five minutes' before withdrawing back out to the chapel.
"First off, the reception venue cancels, and then the replacement venue burns to the ground three weeks ago. Now, we're having the reception at Bobby's... at a scrap yard Sammy. My wedding reception is at a scrap yard!"
"Not ideal," Sam agreed, frowning as he recalled the floods of tears Ellen had been reduced to when the manager of their second selected hotel had called to break the news that said building had been raised to the ground. Sam himself had almost gone into heart failure after an entire week of calling round local hotels had revealed no available venues for their chosen date within a one hundred mile radius.
"Then, two days ago, the florist calls, saying her supplier failed to deliver our flowers because they're out of stock," Dean growled, adding indignantly, "when the hell have you ever heard of roses being out of stock?"
"Apparently there was some kind of Black Spot epidemic," Sam grumbled, his memory all too alive at the frenzied twenty-four hours he had spent to no avail attempting to locate and scrounge a single rose in the tri-state area. Finally, Jo had been forced to accept the fact that her cream bouquet and table decorations of hybrid tea roses were not going to happen, and she would instead be clutching a posy of plastic flowers that Sam had grudgingly bought at Walmart.
"Half the invitations went awol in the mail," Dean stated, beginning to use his fingers in order to tick off each calamity as it had befallen them, "the jeweller sent the rings two sizes too small, the church double-booked, and the caterer was closed down by the Department of Health last night."
Sam grimaced at the latter statement, which had by far been the greatest test of his wedding planning ingenuity as he, Ellen and Bobby had sat up until dawn crafting canapés and cooking up pots of food. Sam had almost considered escaping to Vegas himself until the nuptials were over, or at the very least making a mammoth food run to Taco Bell when the time came. He doubted Dean or Jo would have minded that, but Ellen had been fairly insistent that her daughter would not be eating takeout on her wedding day. By six am, when Ellen and Bobby had almost come to blows over the correct way to bake mini soufflés, Sam had finally ordered them to bed, resolving that he would be forced to make a few calls before lunch asking a number of the guests to bring a last minute dish along with them.
"Is there like... a wedding demon or somethin'?" Dean drawled, quite serious as he regarded his brother. Sam faltered, uncertain of how best to answer as Dean steamed on, "No, no wait... an evil wedding sprite... yeah, that sounds right!"
Sam glanced up dubiously at his brother and studied him intently, "Hey, any of your ex's handy with voodoo curses?"
"Real funny, Sammy." Dean rolled his eyes before adding with a grimace, "This thing has just been one long disaster after another. I'm really starting to think that something or someone doesn't want me and Jo hitched."
"Jo said something similar to me yesterday," Sam allowed, shrugging as he attempted to allay Dean's fears, "but hey, what kind of demon or... whatever it could be... would try to attack at a wedding with a room full of hunters?"
"I don't want to find out," Dean stated confidently, glancing at his watch and suddenly leaping to his feet as he realised that Jo was due to arrive within minutes. Taking a final, deep breath, Dean nodded at his brother and checked his reflection in the mirror, straightening his bow tie and fussing with his shirt cuffs as Sam moved to stand behind him.
"Alright," Sam stated, patting Dean's shoulder and beaming with something resembling paternal pride, "let's go get you married."
"You got the rings?" Dean checked, nodding as Sam patted his breast pocket and gestured for Dean to head toward the door.
Dean paused as they reached the hallway and he licked his lips nervously, glancing up at Sam, "Hey... I just want to say thank you for everything, you know?"
Sam nodded, somewhat taken aback but pleased nonetheless as Dean reached out and suddenly enveloped him in a hug. They each patted the others back in an absurdly male gesture that belayed the emotion of the moment.
"You're welcome," Sam replied, hugging his brother hard as they each reflected upon the last six years of their lives, and the impenetrable bond that had been re-forged between them time and time again. "I'm glad you're happy, Dean. You deserve that more than anybody. You've always taken care of me and, I guess I just wanted to do something for you."
"Hey, I always wanted to take care of you Sammy," Dean said, shrugging and grinning, "no one was allowed to kick your ass but me."
"Thanks..." Sam chuckled, slapping his brother between the shoulder blades as they moved towards the front of the church, and all eyes suddenly fell upon Dean Winchester.
Her mouth was dry, her palms were sweaty, she had to pee like she'd just chugged a gallon of Gatorade and, beneath the silken skirt of her dress, she was pretty sure her knees were knocking bad enough to actually make an audible sound. Ellen fussed around Jo, fluffing the bottom of her veil, and smoothing the skirts of her dress as her daughter stood before her, looking for all the world like she was awaiting her execution rather than her wedding.
"You ready sweetie?" Ellen queried, a little quirk of her lips betraying the emotion she was reining in with rather impressive success. For the first time in decades, Ellen was sporting a dress; a figure hugging black number with a plunging neckline and an above the knee hem that had turned quite a few male heads thus far, and promised to do so again later. With her dark hair falling in loose waves about her shoulders, and just a hint of rouge and lipstick to add a splash of bright colour to her naturally bronzed skin, Jo thought her mother had never looked as radiant.
Jo paused, her own heartbeat so loud it echoed in her ears, considering her options, mulling over her choices, and deciding in a second that there was no place else she would rather be than by Dean Winchester's side for the rest of her life. A smile graced her painted lips, and she nodded.
"Well, we got just one more surprise for you baby girl," Ellen breathed, covering her hand with her mouth and taking two steps backwards suddenly as the outer door of the chapel opened with a loud clunk. Jo turned slowly, the gossamer fabric of her veil spinning out behind her, and the posy of artificial flowers she had been nursing suddenly tumbling from her grasp.
"Daddy?" she hissed, great shoulder heaving sobs threatening to bubble up from the well of mixed emotions that had been swirling around inside her gut all day.
Bill Harvelle took a step toward his daughter and his blue eyes creased as a disbelieving smile appeared on his face.
"Hey sweetheart," he said softly, as he regarded the woman who had been no more than six years old the last time he had held her in his arms.
"But how..." Jo began, her eyes wide and brimming with tears as her father slipped his enormous hand over hers, and a deep sob heaved from her chest.
Ellen batted tears away with the pads of her thumbs as she watched the reunion between her cherished daughter, and the man who had always been the love of her life.
"Cas," Ellen explained, retrieving a balled up Kleenex from her clutch bag and dabbing clumsily at her eyes, "I guess he wanted to give Dean a little 'thank you' for all those years of service. He offered to bring John or Mary down here for the wedding..." Ellen looked on adoringly at Bill, and grinned as he offered her his other hand, "but Dean wanted your Daddy to be here."
"So here I am," Bill shrugged, closing his eyes and chuckling as Jo flung herself into his arms, taking in the old, familiar scents of sweat and cologne. This time though, there was no leather jacket for her to bury her face in, just a smart, crisp tuxedo that seemed oddly out of place on the man.
"You're so beautiful," he stated, drawing back and looking down at her with a smile, "I'm sorry I wasn't there to see you grow up, but I've been watching over you, Jo. I'll always be watching over you. So, if it's okay with you and your Mom, I'd like to walk my daughter down the aisle."
Jo merely nodded in agreement, unable to speak as she felt a further cascade of tears threatening to descend from her eyes and ruin not only her carefully cultivated reputation but also her painstakingly applied make-up.
Bill stooped and picked up the bouquet, placing it back into her hand as he watched Ellen wipe away the tear tracks from Jo's cheeks before laying a tender kiss to her forehead. Offering Jo his arm, Bill glanced down with unchecked pride at the young woman beside him.
"So, you're marrying a Winchester, huh?" Bill teased, peering down the aisle as the doors to the chapel were suddenly thrown open and he flashed a wink at the very nervous young man that stood at the side of the altar.
"Uh huh," Jo stammered, blinking as she gazed up at her father, wondering how he would digest this piece of news given his history with John.
"He better take care of you, princess, or he'll have me to answer to," Bill said, his eyes gleaming as he added, "and I hear a pissed off spirit can be a ball ache."
"Daddy..." Jo scolded, enjoying the weight of the word upon her tongue, and the sound of it as it spilled from her lips. Bill laughed; a hearty growl that Jo remembered well from her childhood.
"That boy loves you more than he loves that damned car," Bill whispered, his mouth inches away from Jo's ear as he stooped down carefully, "and that's saying somethin'. Be happy, Jo."
Nodding, and sniffling pathetically, Jo slipped her arm through her father's and prepared to walk down the aisle to enjoy perhaps the first truly perfect moment her life had to offer.
Sam turned uncertainly, one eyebrow arched in questioning as he regarded the usher who was leaning towards him wearing a somewhat panicked expression.
"What is it Jim?" Sam demanded, signalling to Dean with a toss of his head that indicated he was about to become somewhat indisposed.
"I... well... the cake!" Jim stammered, raising one arm and pointing towards the back of the church, where two other ushers seemed to be struggling under the weight of the four tiered chocolate monstrosity. Sam heaved a sigh and slapped one palm to his forehead.
"What the hell is the wedding cake doing at the church?" he demanded, beginning to stride down the aisle towards the ushers. "It was supposed to be at Bobby's two hours ago."
"There was a mix up, the store delivered it here and before I could stop them they... they drove off," Jim explained, his cheeks reddening almost as though he feared Sam's wrath, which had been making quite a notable appearance the last few days.
"Just bring it to the front," Sam growled, his head whipping around as Dean pointedly coughed and beckoned him over to resume his position. "Bobby can take care of it."
As Sam rejoined his brother at the altar, he watched as the three men manoeuvred the cake over to the front pew and deposited it safely at Bobby's side. Sam sighed, relieved that the item had made it in one piece, when less than a second later, a suited up Castiel materialised into being right beside the wedding cake and a startled usher, who instantly extended a fist out toward the angel as his hunter reflexes overcame him. There was a loud, sickening squelching sound as the angel successfully side-stepped the blow, but staggered dangerously to his left and landed square in the centre of the wedding cake. All four layers of cake collapsed underneath his weight, and Cas was left sitting in a mound of chocolate frosting, broken sponge, and white sugar roses. Sam's mouth dropped open and his entire face fell, as from his side Dean snarled a series of expletives utterly inappropriate for God's house.
Bobby snorted as he observed wryly, "Hey... now it's an angel cake."
Jo gasped, shooting a furtive glance at Dean who peered back at her with similarly wide eyes and a startled expression. From beside the altar, the organist suddenly struck up the wedding march, and Jo had no choice but to begin a measured advance toward her waiting groom.
Trying to ignore the commotion the cake fiasco had caused, Dean turned to regard Jo, and suddenly the numerous calamities of the past five months seemed insignificant.
He barely noticed Sam rejoin him at his side, and as Sam glanced between Jo and his brother, their adoring expressions instantly brought a smile to his lips.
"Wow," Dean whispered, not able to tear his eyes away from the stunning figure of the woman walking toward him, "she looks..."
"She does," Sam finished, unable to recall a time when his brother had previously been rendered near speechless.
"I'm one lucky son of a bitch," Dean observed, a thoroughly smug grin now settling on his features as Jo reached his side. He watched Bill press a kiss to her cheek before taking her hand and placing it in Dean's.
Sam remained silent, deciding not to comment on the irony of Dean's statement, and he instead simply nodded his head and shot Jo a grin.
The minister cleared his throat and began his greeting to the congregation in a loud, jovial voice. Sam allowed his gaze to wander over the assembled guests, all of whom were fellow hunters that either Jo or Dean, or on occasion both, had encountered over the years. However, Sam started as a familiar head of flaming red hair bobbed into his view, and his eyes came to rest on the face of a woman he had encountered only a few weeks ago. Swallowing hard, Sam poked Dean in the back.
Without bothering to turn around to regard his brother, Dean slapped at Sam's hand. Sam tried again and this time received a swift heel to his toes. Barely managing to contain his yelp of pain, Sam turned back to the figure of Carolynn, the woman who had been responsible for locating Jo's dress. Suddenly, everything seemed to make sense; both Dean and Jo had wondered about the series of unexplainable misfortunes that had plagued their wedding plans from the get-go, and Sam finally realised that they had perhaps been correct to do so.
"Dean..." Sam hissed in a low, warning tone, as Carolynn raised one hand and waggled her fingers in greeting at him. Her mouth fell open, and she began to chant something inaudible that immediately set Sam's nerves on edge.
"Dean..." Sam growled, louder this time, panic beginning to creep into his tone.
"Dude, seriously!" Dean replied through clenched teeth, growing more and more irritated by his brother's behaviour.
Sam sighed, watching as Dean clasped Jo's hand in his own and bent his head to whisper something in her ear that caused a rosy blush to colour her cheeks. She pressed a kiss to his hand and peered up at him with such unchecked happiness that it caused Sam to momentarily regret his following actions.
"It's the dress!" he hissed loudly, gesturing to Jo's gown as the couple glared at him in confusion, "the dress! It's cursed!"
"What?" Jo demanded, smiling apologetically at the minister who was looking at all three hunters with an expression of amazed disdain.
"Should I continue?" he asked, holding the bible in his hands against his chest as he waited for confirmation.
"Please," Dean enthused, shooting Sam a disgruntled sneer.
Sam rolled his eyes and this time made a bid for Jo's attention, "Jo... the dress... it's cursed. It's a witch! She's here!"
"My dress came from 'The Blushing Bride', Sam," Jo snarled through her plastered on smile, "not Beezlebub's Boutique."
"A woman in the store, she gave me the dress..." Sam explained in a rush, watching as Carolynn began to climb to her feet, "you gotta admit it was weird... you tried on practically every dress in the store, but you loved that one the second you put it on... then everything to do with this wedding has gone wrong, except for that dress..."
"Sam, what are you...?" Dean interjected, smiling at the minister as he muttered irritably. "We'll be right with you, sir."
"You need to take off the dress," Sam insisted, reaching for Jo's bodice and yelping as she smacked at him with her bouquet.
"What's going on?" Bill muttered, leaning closer to Ellen, who shrugged and shook her head, both mystified and simultaneously irritated by the unfolding scene.
"There, there she is!" Sam yelled out, jabbing one accusing finger at Carolynn, who stood now in the centre of the aisle, wearing an amused smile and shaking her head at the youngest Winchester.
Dean and Jo turned curiously to regard the women, who appeared to seek out Jo and Ellen's gaze from the host of guests and members of the wedding party.
"You!" Ellen narrowed her eyes, suddenly remembering a hunt a little over three years before, that had involved a coven of witches terrorising a New England town. Ellen and Jo, with a little assistance from Bobby, had dealt with three aged witches, who had been destroyed when a misguided attempt at a vengeance spell on the hunters had backfired.
"Me," Carolynn confirmed with a nod, her eyes gleaming as she affixed her attention upon Jo. "You killed my mother... my aunts... let's see how you like it when you're the one with nothing."
Carolynn smirked, raising both hands up into the air and chuckling menacingly as with the gesture an insistent buzzing sound filled the chapel.
"What the..." Dean began, raising his voice above the now deafening hum as the gathered hunters stared in the witch's direction, "does somebody want to tell me what in the hell's going on here?"
"Oh my God," Jo breathed, watching as a swarm of wasps materialised in the corner of the room. They hovered for a few moments, before flying in a zig-zag pattern above the heads of the flailing hunters. Chaos descended upon proceedings, and the guests each leapt to their feet, swatting at the insects that buzzed around their heads and attempted to slip inside sleeves, collars and loose hems.
"Help me," Jo cried, turning her back and gesturing for Dean to lower the zip of her gown, "I've gotta get out of this thing, we need to burn it, now!"
"What, out here?" Dean demanded incredulously, wondering if his fiancé planned on stripping down to her underwear in front of all their guests.
"Dean!" yelled Jo, slapping at his chest as the swarm flew at her mother and Bobby, both of whom began to flail blindly in defence. As Dean turned to seize the zipper, he found Carolynn suddenly standing nose to nose with Jo, her lip curled back into an ugly snarl.
"You'll get everything that's coming to you, you little bitch," the witch hissed, suddenly backhanding the blonde hunter and sending her tumbling down the stairs that led to the alter.
"Jo!" Bill called out, evidently concerned as Jo's head hit the wooden floor and her eyelids closed. Dean stared into the witch's eyes, and his hands balled into fists at his side as fury overtook his reason. He had barely taken one step forwards when a stray wasp landed on the back of his neck, followed by a second and third upon his cheek.
"You're not allergic to wasp stings, are you honey?" Carolynn inquired with mock innocence. At Dean's puzzled look she let out a guffaw and waved one palm quickly over his forehead, "You are now. Ooops!"
Groaning at the unwelcome throbbing in her skull, Jo lifted her head and struggled to sit up, yelling desperately at the minister who was cowering under the altar to help her.
"Unzip the damn dress!" she demanded, rolling her eyes at the blush and disapproving expression her request prompted.
"I-I can't..." he stammered, "young lady, this is God's house!" He reminded her, gasping as Jo seized a fistful of his robes and held up a fist threateningly.
"Just unzip the damn dress, or everyone in this room could die. You want that on your conscience?" Turning and pointedly gesturing toward the back of the dress, Jo breathed a relieved sigh as the vicar slowly and unwillingly began to lower the zipper.
Yanking the gown unceremoniously from her body, Jo barely acknowledged the fact that she now stood before the entire congregation in her lingerie. However, she gratefully accepted the jacket her father tossed in her direction as she kicked the dress free from around her feet.
"I need a lighter!" she yelled, watching in horror as Dean and Sam batted away the hordes of wasps currently swarming around the older Winchester brother.
Her eyes desperately swept the church, ticking from the ushers who each patted their pockets frantically in search for the required item, and then to Dean, who suddenly dropped to the floor of the church clutching his throat and gasping for air.
"No!" Jo screamed, her eyes widening as she watched Sam fall to his knees at his brother's side and begin tugging at his bowtie. Reacting as quickly as she could, Jo seized a candle from the altar and crouched down by the dress, touching the flame to each corner of the hem. She worked at the bodice next, finally dropping her candle into the centre of the garment as several hunters joined her in fanning the flames. Within several seconds, the entire dress was ablaze, and Jo's eyes narrowed in fury at Carolynn.
The wasps continued to circle the chapel, but they seemed to almost part as Jo stalked towards the smirking witch.
"So, how's the best day of your life shaping up so far?" Carolynn inquired, giggling as Jo's lips curled back into an enraged snarl.
"I'm going to kill you," she seethed, hazarding a concerned glance at Dean, whose face had begun to turn an alarming shade of crimson as it swelled to twice the usual size.
"Oh come on, isn't her wedding day what every little girl dreams of?" Carolynn teased, genuine glee alighting her features as Dean's eyes rolled into the back of his head, and his entire body began to convulse.
"Well, I'm not every little girl," Jo spat, swinging her fist back into a wide arc. Landing a vicious punch to the witch's jaw, Jo watched in satisfaction as the woman fell backwards onto the floor, landing with an enraged howl.
She turned as a hand seized her shoulder, and narrowly avoided landing a right hook on her mother, who deftly side stepped the blow and gestured over toward Dean.
"Your Dad and I have got this, sweetie... go... go to Dean," Ellen ushered her daughter away, catching the small silver handgun that a fellow hunter tossed in her direction.
Jo nodded, elbowing and jarring her way through the crowd of assembled guests, who were all now apparently rushing to Ellen's aid. Dropping down onto her knees at Dean's side, Jo dragged him toward her, and pulled open the upper buttons of his shirt. She tore at the fabric with shaking fingers, searching through the crowd of bodies for Castiel.
"Cas?" she yelled, lifting Dean's head into her lap and exchanging frantic gazes with Sam as Dean grabbed her hand and pulled her down to his swollen lips in an attempt to speak
"No, no," she implored angrily, pressing her palm to his cheek and shaking her head as Dean pulled her hand tight against his chest.
"Dean, no..." she cried desperately, realising that in his mounting panic, Dean was attempting to say goodbye to her.
"Cas?" Sam screamed, any further shouts dying on his lips as the angel appeared at Jo's side and wasted no time in pressing his hand to Dean's forehead.
Dean's eyes closed and, as Cas' touch worked it's figurative magic, the red tinge that his skin had adopted faded to a healthier pale pink, and his cheeks began to visibly deflate before their eyes.
"Dean?" Jo demanded, desperately patting his cheek in an attempt to rouse him. Sam turned to the sound of Ellen's enraged snarl, just in time to see her cock the safety catch of a handgun.
"You tried to ruin my little girl's big day," Ellen accused, her eyes wild and body coiled in preparation to strike. She was fearsome, cutting the perfect figure of maternal protectiveness as she added coldly, "Big mistake, bitch."
As Carolynn's mouth opened to begin the utterances of some new incantation, Ellen did not give a second thought to squeezing the trigger of the gun in her hand. The shot resounded throughout the church, causing the minister to squeal in fright, and instantly the swarm of wasps disappeared from view as though they had never been present at all.
"Dean, sweetie, can you hear me?" Jo whispered, her voice trembling and her head swimming as she glanced from the concerned faces of Sam and her father, to the smouldering pile of her wedding dress, and the now prone body of the witch.
Dean let out a cough and his eyes flashed open. Jo breathed a relieved sigh and immediately folded herself into her fiancés arms, whispering her thanks to Castiel who nodded as he stood off to one side, taking in the scene with his usual air of discomfort.
"Well, I... I think that just about brings proceedings to an end," the minister stammered, his eyes wide in fear as he surveyed the guests and bridal party with a horrified expression.
"Hey, I don't recall anybody getting married," Ellen countered, her eyebrow arched in a challenging gesture as she backed the trembling minister into a corner.
"Mom, it's fine..." Jo began, frowning as Dean sat up and hauled her to her feet beside him.
"No, no, your Mom's right," Dean shook his head, glancing around the church as he clasped her hand and pulled her into his side.
"Dean, are you crazy? Look at me, I'm... I'm a mess, and you... you're..." she babbled, resigned to face defeat and just go home.
"Hey, hey," Dean placed his palm to her cheek, brushing his thumb over her skin as he tried to calm her down, "I want to marry you, Jo... and I'm not leaving this church until there's a ring on your finger and you're legally bound to wake up beside me every morning. Okay?"
Jo blanched, glancing up at Sam as he held out his hand, where two gold bands sat nestled in his palm.
"We got the minister, we got the rings... let's just do this, sweetheart," Dean smiled, hoping to convince her that the day, and indeed five months of chaos, had not been for nothing.
Jo groaned and stole one final glance down at herself before she peered back up into his impossibly green eyes and nodded in agreement, "Okay. Let's do this thing."
And so it was to the enthusiastic whoops and cheers of fifty boisterous hunters, that Dean Winchester and Joanna Beth Harvelle, still wearing her underwear and a borrowed tuxedo jacket, were finally hitched.
Their first dance commenced out in Bobby's yard to a muted Bon Jovi rock ballad that Dean managed to refrain from cringing at as he twirled Jo around, and swayed her in his arms. By their sides, Bill and Ellen moved to the music, arms encircled and her head laid on his chest as each tried not to think of the time constraint placed upon their reunion. Castiel had already informed them that Bill would have to leave in several hours before his absence from heaven was noted, and the angel himself was reprimanded for his impromptu 'wedding gift'.
"I like your outfit," Dean observed, grinning down at Jo as his gaze swept her blue denim jeans and the crisp white blouse that she wore now in place of her wedding gown, the passing of which she had actually found herself briefly mourning.
Jo snorted as she responded wryly, "Figures, the one wedding gown in the whole state I actually like, and we wind up having to burn it."
"Well, for what it's worth, you looked hot," Dean stated, smiling down at her as he realised the image of her walking down the aisle toward him would be forever imprinted on his memory.
Jo grinned, blushing at the compliment as she lay her head on his shoulder and cast a mournful glance over at her parents, who she knew would soon be forced to part once again.
"Thank you," she said softly, brushing her fingertips over the nape of his neck and bestowing a tender kiss against his lips.
Dean frowned, as if not understanding her inference, and she nodded over toward her parents by way of explanation.
"I can't believe you did that for me..." she mused. Whilst Jo had her mother, Dean had lost both of his parents, and the extent of his sacrifice in order for her father to attend their wedding was not lost on her.
Dean craned his neck and watched Bill and Ellen momentarily, before returning his gaze to his wife.
"I'd do anything for you, Jo," he said simply, and his words were punctuated with a kiss.
In years to come, when Jo looked back over her wedding album, she never once tired of explaining to friends exactly why she looked like a Playboy extra in the first few shots; or exactly how her late father had come to be in the majority of pictures wearing the trademark goofy grin that she had inherited; or exactly why her wedding cake had been substituted last minute for a plate of Twinkies with a Matchbox model '67 Impala nestled on top.
Despite the fact that the reception took place in a scrap yard belonging to an old drunk, and that her brother-in-law was forced to make an emergency pizza run when the fancy handmade canapés ran out after a half hour, Jo never had a single bad thing to say about her wedding.
Each and every time she recounted the story, Joanna Winchester simply reflected upon how it was indeed, the happiest day of her life.