A/N: I apologize in advance for the epic length of this note, but there are some special thank-yous I need to make. Please bear with me...
Silverspoon and WelshWitch1011 - Thank you for encouraging me to join this part of the Supernatural fandom. The two of you weave a magic spell with every story you write and give us Dean/Jo writers something to strive for. You are truly an inspiration to us all!
WhoNatural - Thank you for taking time away from your story to share in my journey. Know that I'm very much looking forward to supporting you as you continue yours. You've got something really amazing going...hope to see more from you soon!
cheekymonster2 and angeleyenc - Thank you both for jumping on the roller coaster and taking this ride with me. Your support and encouragement means a lot.
Heatherlina - Thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving me an extra confidence boost when my feathers got ruffled. Looking forward to more of What Was Lost May Be Found!
CFEditor - Thank you for catching the little things - technically and creatively.
celeste301 - Sweetie, I maintain you are quite possibly my biggest fan. Thank you for all your support and for being a ray of sunshine no matter what the world throws at you!
stephaniew - Steph, whether you believe it or not, this one is as much yours as it is mine. When I set out to start writing it, we butted heads and you pushed me to do something different...something I think turned out pretty special. I can only hope you are as proud of it as I am. I am truly humbled by your friendship and patience. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself...
Finally, thank you to everyone who has followed this story and included it in their favorites. It's always going to have a special place in my heart and I'm thrilled it earned your attention.
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural.
Chapter Seventeen: Bless the Broken Road
Dean's tongue drifts along his lower lip and he sighs. He'd never be confused with a knight in shining armor. His life isn't a fairy tale. And yet...he can't help but wonder 'what if'...
Bracing himself over her with one hand against the mattress, his palm slides against the softness of her cheek. His adam's apple bobs reflexively as he leans in close. Their noses brush. His lips touch hers softly and with infinite care. They move reverently, sucking gently, his tongue flickering in a barely-there caress.
Dean feels a featherlight touch on the back of his neck as her head lifts from the pillow and he shifts away. His eyes open and he drowns in the milk chocolate puddles of hers.
With a grin Jo drags him back for another kiss, her fingers curling into his hair as his caress her neck. It's hungry and he whimpers when she brushes her tongue against his. Sighing, she presses their foreheads together and clings to him. She smiles, her voice quiet, "It wasn't a dream?"
He takes the hand resting against his chest and kisses the tips of her fingers. "No," he murmurs. Reaching behind her, he adjusts the pillows and helps her recline against the headboard. "It wasn't."
Jo's heart pounds in her ears as she looks at him. She struggles to catch her breath when she notes his serious expression.
He squeezes her hand. It's a gesture meant to comfort. Meant to reassure her. But he's new at this. He doesn't know quite how to handle the emotional power surge that's overtaking him. His words plain, he speaks, "There are some things you need to know..."
Jo sits up, her hands flying to her open mouth. "Oh, God," she cries, "I have to go back?"
The corner of his mouth twitches and he smiles. "No, babe. One, I wouldn't let it happen. Two, I have it on good authority the Big Guy wants you to keep my sorry ass in line."
He waits for her to relax. He shifts to face her, moving further onto the bed as he continues to hold her hand. "You changed history, Harvelle," he says with no small amount of pride. "By saving me from Hell, you kept me from breaking the first seal. Sam..."
"Is he okay? What about Bobby? What day is it?" she moves to get up. "Dean, I have to change clothes. We've got to fight..."
He pulls her back. "No, Jo, we don't." He steadies her, hands resting on her arms as she struggles. A grin spreads across his face as he reveals the truth, "You prevented the Apocalypse. We don't have to worry about being Michael and Lucifer's meat suits."
Jo blinks rapidly. "Sam and Bobby?"
Dean nods. "Are fine," he laughs. "But it's even bigger."
She struggles to think clearly. She pushes her hair back from her face, confusion marring her delicate features. "Don't just sit there grinning, Deano," she scolds. "Tell me!"
Inching closer, he kisses her. His arms wind around her and his tongue teases at her mouth. He breathes her in. Somehow, nothing is more important than being with her. Not even sharing news of the other hunters.
"Dammit, Dean!" she groans. "Quit trying to distract me! What's going on?"
"Sam's married. To a girl he met on a case we worked before we met you. They're having a baby..." The story tumbles out. He tells her about the pictures. About how they stood up for Sam and Sarah. About how they were going to be godparents.
Jo sees the twinkle in Dean's eye. She becomes suspicious. "That's not everything," she says. "I can see it on your face. You're as bad as a toddler."
Dean's mouth quirks upward. "Bobby's married, too."
Jo laughs and joins in Dean's smile. "Who'd marry Bobby? We love him, but he's a crusty old fart," she tells him. "I just don't see..."
He takes her hands. "Jo, brace yourself." His voice soft and eyes shining, he tells her, "Bobby married Ellen."
She gasps. "Ellen? As in my mother?"
He merely nods.
"Mom's alive?" she asks, tears streaming over her cheeks. "And she married Bobby?"
"Surprised me, too," he answers. "But they're happy." He strokes his thumb over her hand. "You changed everything."
"Everything?" she whispers. Pushing the covers down, she pulls up the edge of her shirt expecting to see the silvery scars that tore across her abdomen. Her skin is perfect. Soft and pale, she bears no markings of her former life.
Dean reaches out and touches her. Together, their hands slide over her smooth flesh. "It's you and me now. We hunt together. We have for years. Sam went back to school. He helps Sarah run the gallery now."
She bites her lip. "Are you okay with that?" she asks shyly. "Are we happy that way?"
He shrugs, his mouth drawing into a careless expression. "We must be..."
She sighs and he sees the trepidation in her eyes. "But how can you know for sure? Do you remember? What was it like, Dean? I don't..."
He touches her face, stroking her cheek with his thumb when she leans into his palm. "I know we don't have their memories..."
"But it's not them," she reminds him, her voice raising. "It's us. We don't remember anything from the last two and a half years!"
Dean's eyes drop to the blanket. A memory flashes in front of him. A memory of being dirty and happy. A memory of chasing Jo through the house and into the bathroom. A memory of slowly stripping each other bare as laughter faded into a passionate kiss. His lips tingle in response. He can almost feel it.
"What?" she asks, seeing the smile bloom on his face. Her brow furrows.
"The memories will come back, Jo," he tells her, his tone fierce and filled with conviction. "Hell, we'll even make new ones..."
"You don't know that," she chokes. "We've lost so much time..."
Dean tilts Jo's face up to his. His lips brush over hers gently. It's a feather-light gesture that warms him down to his very soul. He feels his heart begin to soar in his chest. Feels it pound in his ribcage. "You have to trust me," he breathes against her mouth.
"I don't know what's real anymore," she voices. The sound is almost a sob and her sadness eats away at him. He wants her to believe. Wants her to feel everything he does.
"Do you love me?" he asks quietly. Her eyes are the color of bourbon and nearly as wet. He searches them for answers. Pleads for her to see everything she needs to know in his gaze.
"Yes," she murmurs. Her voice strong and unwavering. Her feelings for him are the one thing that hasn't changed. "Yes, I do. More than anything."
Dean swallows the emotion that fills his throat. "I love you," he tells her. "And I want to be with you. Just you, Jo. No one else."
There's a swirl of feelings storming in the deep green of his eyes. She sees possibilities and feels her heart clench. She wonders if she can have it all. A hunting partnership. Love. Time to learn what she's missed.
Dean digs in his pocket. His fingers close over the tiny piece of jewelry. He has to explain it. Knows there will be too many questions otherwise. But it's more than that. So much more. He may not remember how it went down the first time. He certainly never thought he'd ever be here. That he'd ever ask any woman, let alone Jo, to marry him.
The room is quiet. Everything is incredibly still. She picks at a piece of pulled thread on the aging blanket. She needs time. Time to think. Time to take it all in. To adjust to her new life. The new chance she's been given.
"There's one other thing," he tells her, shaking his head. "You're not going to believe it. When Ellen told me, I..."
"What? What else has changed? What else have we missed?" She's angry. Confused. But both of these things go unnoticed.
"Marry me, Jo," he says suddenly. "Marry me because it's what everyone wants. Marry me because it's what I want."
Jo's eyes go wide. For a moment, she just stares at him. Then she sees it. The flicker of what can only be described as hope in his eyes as he takes the glimmering band with its tiny but meaningful stone and lets it hover over her trembling ring finger.
She doesn't know what to say. How to even begin to respond. Neither of them have the answers. They don't know what lies ahead of them any more than they know what lies in the space between Hell and this second. She's scared. More scared than she was when she followed him into the darkness.
"C'mon, Jo," he says with a lopsided grin. "Just say yes."
She stumbles to find the words. To somehow make him understand. "Dean, I... We..."
To be continued...
A/N: Yes. I am, in fact, evil. I'm working on a sequel titled History in the Making that I hope to debut early 2012. I hope you'll join me for the next installment to discover Jo's answer to Dean's proposal...and the surprising news Gabe has for her.
Until next time...