Rating – T
Authors – Silverspoon and WelshWitch1011
Authors' Note –Some of you may have noticed we are slight Dean/Jo shippers. As soon as news leaked of the contents of episode 7:4, this idea formed, and we decided to take a major risk and run with it. Paragraphs written in italics are flashbacks.
WARNING – this fic contains MAJOR spoilers for episode 4 season 7, entitled "Defending Your Life". The synopsis of the episode is as follows; The Egyptian god Osiris wreaks a bloody trail of deaths as he tries and executes anyone guilty of past mistakes. Sam is forced to defend his brother when Osiris targets Dean for his guilt over all the things he's believed he's done in his life... and calls Jo as a witness.
The scheduled air date for this episode is 14/10/11. All content of this fic is pure speculation, guesswork, and the product of our twisted little imaginations. If you like your secrets secret, then look away now.
We own nothing... and if any of this is similar, we will be infinitely impressed ourselves! Sadly, we are pretty sure OUR version will be more D/J shipper friendly.
Quick dedication time – Happy birthday Missy! We hope you have a fantastic day and enjoy this fic.
"Defending Your Life"
The old man sets the tumblers down on the table, sliding one across the stained grain surface and watches as a large, masculine hand seizes it. The fingernails are cut short, clean and smooth, in keeping with the man's overall appearance. He has the looks of a male model but none of the inherent confidence, and presently there is a troubled light behind his eyes which is what first prompted Bobby Singer to reach for the whiskey on this Friday night.
His hands shake as he lifts the tumbler to his lips, and drinks in a generous amount of the liquid. It hits his throat with the burn only seconds behind the initial sugary warmth, and he winces just a little. Several seconds pass and the tumbler is empty, sitting back on the table, and he is gesturing for Bobby to refill it. The hunter obliges, uncertain of the last time he saw Sam Winchester so dependant on liquor. He doesn't like it but he says nothing, knowing the kid has been through one of the worst ordeals of his life, and that this can often lead folks to thinking that the answer lies in a bottle of Johnny Walker. As fine and sweet as the nectar is, Bobby learned a long time ago that this rumour is a false one. Nonetheless, he holds his tongue, lets the kid make his own damned mistake, and knows he'll be there in the morning with a pot of coffee, a greasy breakfast, and a sympathetic ear to mop up the fallout.
"Alright, so..." Bobby refills the glass and sets the bottle down. "You gonna tell me what the hell happened out there?"
Wide, haunted eyes suddenly meet Bobby's expectant gaze, and Sam merely bows his head and mumbles in affirmation.
"Osiris... we uh, we figured out he was after Dean," Sam explains, watching as Bobby jerks his head impatiently.
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Who was the one doing all the damn book work for you two yahoos? So!"
Sam blows out a shaky breath and begins to relay earlier details of the story, just as Dean imparted them to him.
"Dean was in this bar," Sam begins nervously then trails off as he hears a gruff snort of acknowledgement from their mentor. "There was a woman... I don't know... they were talking and, and I guess she reminded him of... of Jo."
Bobby's expression darkens sadly at the mention of the young woman, and he nods, gaze averted to the table top. "Go on."
Sam shakes his head in exasperation and pinches the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger, "Well, turns out this Osiris guy was in the damn bar too, sitting right beside him. Dean starts thinking about her, and..."
"That's how he honed in on him..." Bobby says thoughtfully, watching as Sam downs the final dregs from the bottom of the glass and regards the bottle hopefully.
"Don't even think about it kid, I'm cutting you off. You'll thank me in the morning. Now... what happened next?"
Sam shrugs helplessly and sits back in his chair, the shock and disbelief still etched across his features, "Then Jo showed up."
"She what?" Bobby demands. He suddenly grabs at Sam's glass, promptly filling it and downing the contents within seconds. He swallows down the alcohol with a decisive gulp, shakes his head in confusion, and sweeps his hand through his thinned hair before resettling his cap on his head.
"Yeah," Sam nods, and his tone is laced with sorrow emphasized by his weak smile, "Dean never talked about her afterwards, you know? He wouldn't even say her name out loud. I had no idea he felt that way."
Bobby sighs sadly, recalling how frantic and utterly distraught Dean had sounded that fateful day as he had told him via the radio that Jo had been injured.
"Damn boy, had his head wedged up his ass all those years," he comments bitterly, before he shakes his head as a cue for Sam to proceed.
Sam blinks and snatches the bottle from the table top, unscrews the lid, and he tries to find the words that can possibly explain the events of the day.
Sam Winchester falters momentarily, and when he speaks his tone is laced with residual fear, "Then... I guess you could say Dean got his court summons."
x - 'SUPERNATURAL'- x
The explosion was still ringing in his ears even as his vision began to clear, the white hot light receding slowly before his eyes. Sam's heart hammered against his ribcage, about fit to bust out, as both the shock of the reappearance of a long dead ally, and also her subsequent actions, took their toll on his body. He wiped his sweaty palms against his denim clad thighs, gnawing on his bottom lip a little as he waited for his focus to sharpen that last bit.
Nothing was as Sam Winchester had expected.
He peered around the room, which seemed to belong to a wooden building of some sort, possessing large square windows set high above the hay strewn floor. Sam was seated in front of a table and, before he had even turned to confirm as much, he sensed the presence of his brother by his side. A quick glance to his right revealed a desperately blinking and evidently confused Dean, who appeared to be bound to his chair by rusted chains. Sam frowned, but he made no move towards Dean, allowing his eyes to rove the room once again, taking in the platform before them upon which sat a bald, dark skinned man swathed in robes. The golden collar about his shoulders was striking, and he wielded a staff that Sam didn't immediately like the look of. His features were highlighted by the dark kohl surrounding his eyes, and the faintest tinge of shimmering bronze, which stood out against his well defined cheekbones.
To his left sat the pale and ghostly form of Jo Harvelle, her lips as ashen as they had been in the final moments before her death, and her expression equally as haunting. Her blonde hair hung heavily about her face, and her eyes were wide as she too took in her surroundings. Invariably, her gaze fell upon Dean, and Sam sighed as he watched her scan his brother's face. Regarding him with a deep sense of sadness, Jo mouthed the word 'sorry', and stared at the older Winchester as if she were as amazed to see him as he was to see her.
"You should have told me, man," Sam murmured, glancing sideways at his sibling whose eyes now shone with the tears he had been withholding for almost two years.
"What difference would it have made?" Dean gulped down a breath, unable to look at anything but her despite the renewed pain that lacerated his heart. "She's still gone."
Sam's lips formed a tight line and he sighed in exasperation, "You could have told me, Dean, you... you could have talked about things."
"And that'd what? Make everything okay?" Dean shook his head bitterly. "Is it gonna bring her back, Sammy? Huh? She's dead because of me. What happened to Jo is all my fault."
"Do you wish to enter your plea?" The voice was reverent, tainted almost by boredom, as was the heavy gaze that suddenly fell upon Dean and held him fast in his chair along with the chains.
"His plea?" Sam echoed, already realising with sinking certainty what was to come. He shot a look at Jo, who looked for all the world like she longed to speak and yet simply couldn't find the words.
"Dean John Winchester," Osiris intoned, examining the nails of the hand that rested on the head of his staff. A smile flickered across his lips, but was dispelled as quickly as it had bloomed. "Your heart has been weighed against the feather, and it has been found heavy with the burdens of guilt."
"What?" Sam demanded, glaring at the god through narrowed eyes that betrayed both his fury and lack of understanding. Of course, being the scholar that he was, Sam knew a great deal of the ancient Egyptian traditions and beliefs, particularly those centering around their death customs and the afterlife. As a boy, the tales of Ammut the Devourer and the great Hall of Maat had thrilled and ghoulishly delighted him, but several decades later their reality was proving to have the opposite effect on Sam.
Osiris extended a steady hand and pointed towards the corner of the hall, in which stood an enormous set of pure golden scales. Sam swallowed down the bile that rose in his throat as he took in the sight of the still rhythmically pounding crimson mass that sat in the centre of one of the dishes, which was almost touching the floor with the apparently leaden weight of its content. The second dish, which was farthest from view, was suspended clear above the ground, and from its centre a magnificent white plume almost shimmered.
Sam shot a glance at Dean, who had managed to tear his own eyes away from Jo's face just long enough to look upon the scales and recognise their content. He paled considerably, and Sam thought that had his hands not been bound fast to his sides, they would have doubtlessly fluttered to his now hollow and emptied chest.
"You may defend your life or choose to accept your fate," Osiris said simply, his voice an eloquent purr that set every nerve in Sam's body alight.
"Guilty..." Dean barked, his eyes snapping to Osiris' face and remaining there with what Sam could tell was considerable effort. "I plead guilty. Now let my brother go."
Sam's eyes widened and he turned aghast to face his brother, "What? No! Dean... what the hell?"
Remaining silent, Dean simply stared across the court room at Jo, his eyes relaying his intense sorrow and regret.
Osiris arched an eyebrow and then nodded in acceptance. Regarding Sam momentarily, the ancient deity smiled, "You wish to defend your brother?"
Sam cleared his throat, undecided if he should stand or sit. He chose the former, and clasped his hands together as he replied, "I do."
Osiris leant back in the throne he was perched upon, "Very well. Dean Winchester, your plea has been noted. I now call my witness, Joanna Beth Harvelle."
Gazing down upon Jo with an ill-concealed smirk, Osiris appeared slightly taken aback by the glare with which the blonde hunter affixed him.
"Consider me a hostile witness," she spat, turning her gaze dismissively from the being toward the far side of the court.
"As you please," he agreed, confused as to her apparent disdain toward proceedings. Narrowing his eyes, Osiris watched as she turned to Dean, and though he could not read the minds of those already in the afterlife, the depth of emotion in her eyes appeared to intrigue him.
"Joanna, how is it that you came to meet the accused?" Osiris purred the question, affixing her with a curious stare that perhaps would have made her shudder had she been alive. Jo paused and the traces of a smile twitched at her blue-tinged lips.
"It was five years ago..."
As she began to speak, Dean's eyelids fluttered closed.
The bar was as rundown and decrepit on the inside as the exterior had suggested, and Dean wrinkled his nose slightly as the smell of furniture polish, sweat and stale beer assailed his nostrils. The pool table bore a prone body sporting a mullet and with one arm twisted behind his back, but neither Sam nor Dean bothered to check on the condition of the stranger.
Dean watched Sammy disappear into the back, the blinking and persistent buzzing of the damned fly trap on the wall momentarily stealing his attention. With a grimace, Dean whipped his head around to the bar, and that was when he felt the nozzle of a shotgun press flush against the base of his back.
Dean swallowed hard, taking just a second to mentally berate himself for lowering his guard in somewhere so seedy looking. His knife was concealed in his boot, but Dean knew with certainty that his captor would doubtlessly shatter his spine with a round of buckshot before he could so much as stoop to retrieve it. Quickly, Dean decided on another course of action.
"Oh God, please let that be a rifle," he muttered under his breath, tensing as he heard a female voice utter a deadpan reply.
"No, I'm just real happy to see you. Don't move!"
Releasing a slow, deep, breath, Dean held up his hands and contemplated his course of action.
"Not moving, copy that."
Listening for any telltale shift behind him, he summoned his usual bravado.
"You know... you should know something, miss. You put a rifle on someone, you don't wanna put it right against their back. It makes it real easy to do..." wheeling around suddenly, Dean used the element of surprise to his advantage, and grabbed the gun from the grasp of his adversary. "This."
The rifle landed in his hands with a jolt and he discharged the rounds quickly, yet his victory proved to be short lived as almost in the same second, a fist connected with his nose. Seizing the tumbling rifle back from him, the blonde eyed him dangerously, holding the shotgun on him in a decidedly threatening stance.
Doubling over in agony, Dean blinked against the tiny black dots that suddenly danced before his eyes. Holding the back of his hand up to his nose, he waited for the blood to begin trickling from his nostrils.
"Sam, I need some help in here?" he called, cursing under his breath as the bridge of his nose throbbed, and he felt a dull, insistent headache brewing, "I can't see, I can't even see."
A breath later, with his brother also at the mercy of another gun toting woman, Dean would find himself formally introduced to Joanna Beth Harvelle.
It only took a moment after that, for him to fall in love with her.
"What of your encounters with the Winchesters?" Osiris demanded, stretching back in his throne and cocking his head at Jo, who seemed to be staring off into space, a faraway look in her eyes. She blinked, hauled from her own mysterious reverie, and looked only upon Dean as she spoke.
"They were friends... good friends," she insisted, her tone lacking in neither conviction nor nostalgia. Her smile was back in place, although there was something about it so unbearable to behold as it was set against her ghostly pallor. Sam mustered a smile of his own with some difficulty and turned the full force of it upon his old friend, who looked so desolate and distraught at her sudden position. He pondered briefly on what had occurred to bring her here; where she had been and with whom. Had she shared a paradise with her parents, or had she experienced her heaven alone, lost in a continuum of fake REO concerts, and racking up the top scores in her own personal games arcade. Sam mused on this all, utterly oblivious to the reality of Jo's heaven; watching the sun rise and set with a version of his brother that to the young blonde hunter, who had been taken too soon, paled in comparison to the real thing.
"And the accused- what were his feelings toward you?" Osiris probed, smiling in satisfaction as he watched Dean attempt to straighten up in his seat, his attention now focused solely on the woman in the witness stand.
Jo blanched, shaking her head as she appeared suddenly lost for an answer. Staring down at her hands, folded in her lap, she shrugged, "I-I don't know."
Dean closed his eyes, and Sam watched as his brother crumpled. He wondered how Dean could have ever believed Jo to be aware of his feelings, when he succeeded so completely in keeping them from everyone.
"You don't know," Osiris repeated, nodding his head and appearing to consider her answer before an arguably wicked glint flashed in his eyes. "Perhaps I should remind you then..."
Dean's breathing began to speed up, becoming audible now, and his jaw clenched in anger – perhaps anger at himself as he listened to the list of offenses suddenly leveled at him.
"Isn't it true that this man continually used you for his own selfish ends? Did he not dangle you as bait to trap the spirit of a serial killer..."
"I was the one who insisted on going on that hunt," Jo interrupted, finding herself instantly silenced as he banged his staff against the ground like a makeshift gavel.
Continuing on unimpeded, Osiris now directed his wrath at Dean, whilst still addressing the young woman beside him.
"Where you not held by a demon possessing his brother's mortal form?"
Dean swallowed hard and Sam felt himself wince, knowing all too well the reason that Jo had been the target of Meg's plan to divide the brothers; if Sam had harmed Jo as Meg had intended, Dean would never have forgiven his sibling.
The inherent tragedy of the situation now struck Sam as he realised that, whilst a demon had known his brother's heart, Jo herself had never truly been aware of the depth of his feelings toward her. The taunts and cruel jibes that Meg had flung at the girl using Sam's tongue still gnawed away at him to this day, contributing to his own sense of internal guilt to some extent.
"That wasn't his fault," Jo protested, suddenly climbing to her feet as exasperation and anger blazed across her flickering ghostly features, "you know what? I've had enough of this crap. Just let him go!"
"Sit down," Osiris warned, his tone low and calm even as he fought to regain control over his witness, "or I will end the mortal's life."
"This is bullshit," Jo spat, lowering herself back into the seat, not noticing the brief smile her actions summoned to Dean's lips. It faded quickly however, as Osiris calculated his next blow.
"Then of course, we have the reason that your mother was forced to live out her days as a widow, and you without a father," Osiris murmured, his features unreadable. Jo squirmed in her seat, blinking back tears that she refused to allow to betray her.
"That was never Dean's fault, and you know it," she hissed, wrapping her arms around her torso as though to provide herself with some degree of comfort.
"But you blamed him," Osiris answered, not missing a beat, "did you not?"
Silence hung thick and heavy in the air, until Sam felt the weight of Osiris' venom would crush him, along with the tension in the hall.
"I..." Jo whispered, a fat tear slipping from one eye and scoring her cheek now. Her form flickered for several seconds as a result of her distress, and Sam was reminded of the spirits they had hunted for years. He felt instantly nauseas, and from the soft groan that Dean emitted at his side, Sam assumed the spectacle was having the same effect on his brother.
"It'll be okay, man," Sam promised, his voice a soft whisper that held little comfort. For his sibling's benefit, Dean nodded.
"You are under oath," said Osiris, sounding uncannily like he had been ripped straight out of a cheesy court room drama. Jo's mouth dropped open a little, her hands fluttered to her chest, and she let out a strangled cry.
"I... did..." she choked out, her features contorting as though the admittance brought her actual physical pain. Osiris leaned forwards with a smirk, satisfaction ebbing from his every pore.
Shaking her head vigorously, Jo brushed the tears from her cheeks and searched out Dean's gaze. "But I was angry, I... What happened to my Dad wasn't his fault, I know that," she cried, suddenly glancing down at her own body as it shimmered and flickered violently.
Sam closed his eyes momentarily as Jo appeared to suddenly remember her own fate, and her chest heaved with sobs at the thought of the short life fate had cruelly dealt her.
Casting a discrete sideways glance at his brother, Sam watched as Dean looked toward the heavens, and silent tears ebbed down his cheeks.
The image invoked a memory that Sam had long ago been forced to file away of that night after Carthage.
South Dakota, 2010
Hours after the final embers of Bobby's fire had died out, Sam wandered downstairs unable to sleep, to find Dean alone in the kitchen. Jo's shotgun was laid out in front of him on the table and he clutched a half empty bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand.
Sam cleared his throat from the doorway, concerned by Dean's poise and the veritable darkness that surrounded him. Unwilling to talk, Dean simply stewed in his grief, quietly mourning the loss of both Harvelle women and of the life he might have lived with Jo beside him.
Sam was shocked to find tears streaming from Dean's eyes; yet as the moments passed and it seemed Dean was about to break and finally give voice to his heartache, he had withdrawn as he always did into anger and denial.
Snatching the gun up from the table, Dean held Sam's gaze for only a moment, in which he forced him to swear that the name of the young blonde hunter would never be uttered aloud between them again.
With a hesitant promise extracted from Sam, Dean disappeared to the solitude of his room, cradling the Winchester Model 1887 as though his life depended on it.
Sam had remained in the kitchen, sitting alone with his thoughts, as he unashamedly shed tears for their fallen friends.
Dean would never mention Jo Harvelle again.
"The very reason you are here now is because of him," Osiris accused, staring at Dean even as he spoke and seeming to find enjoyment in the hunter's discomfort.
"Don't rise to it," Sam growled under his breath, nudging Dean's knee with his own before he added, "you're stronger than this, Dean."
Sam hazarded a glance at his brother, who in that moment looked anything but strong. He slumped in his chair, seemingly held upright only by the chains that encircled him, and every fibre of him seemed to scream defeat. Sam frowned, worry clouding his features as his mind worked over time to formulate the basis of the defence he knew he would soon be called upon to provide.
"That's not true," Jo retorted, and her voice adopted a firm tone that Sam recalled from their time together hunting the spirit of H.H. Holmes. Jo had been adamant that she was up to the job, right up until her kidnap, and she had employed the same snarky tone against a reluctant and horrified Dean.
"Really?" Osiris demanded, one eyebrow shooting upwards on the second syllable. He spread his arms wide as he continued, "Are you not the Joanna Beth Harvelle who died November 19th 2009 in Carthage, Missouri, in defence of the accused?"
Jo remained silent and turned her head away in a dismissive gesture, indicating that she was not about to answer his goading question.
"You must answer the question," Osiris demanded, confused as his witness appeared to be ignoring him, marring the proceedings with a decidedly unsatisfactory air.
"Go to Hell," Jo snarled, turning her head to glare in utter outrage at the presiding deity.
"You will answer the question," he repeated, unaccustomed to being refused in such circumstances.
Jo's jaw set determinedly, and she arched an eyebrow in defiance, "No. Let him go."
Climbing to his feet, and with his voice raised in anger at her impudence, Osiris slammed the heavy gold staff against the ground once again. "You will answer!"
"NO!" Jo yelled, her eyes narrowing to slits as she suddenly extended her hand in the direction of the large statue of Anubis that stood in guard at the door. The imposing stone figure began to sway unsteadily and, seconds later, tumbled to the ground where it shattered into pieces.
Dean's eyes widened in shock at her ghostly abilities, and an intense sadness flooded him as he realised the woman he once knew was now no more than one of the other-wordly beings she had once hunted.
Suddenly jumping to his feet, Sam cleared his throat in preparation to address Osiris.
"Uh... permission to... to cross examine the witness?" he stammered, swallowing hard as Osiris turned and regarded him suspiciously.
Mulling over the request, Osiris nodded in hesitant agreement, "Very well."
Sam bowed his head briefly in thanks and Jo turned her eyes upon him as she awaited more questions.
"Hey Jo," Sam said with a sad smile, trying to ignore the hammering of his heart in his chest. Even if Dean appeared to care little about his fate, Sam wasn't about to watch his brother die because of his own ill-conceived personal demons. Glancing between the blonde hunter and his brother, Sam searched to find a tactful way of broaching the subject. Going on instinct, and believing himself to be correct in his long-held assumptions, he continued after a pause.
"Jo, that day in Carthage... can you tell us, uh... I mean, tell the court... why you went back for Dean?" he asked softly.
Jo was silent for a moment, composed although she brushed a fresh onslaught of tears from her cheeks.
"You know why, Sam," she whispered.
Sam bobbed his head, consumed with sadness for the couple, who had never been allowed to find their way to each other.
"I do," he affixed her with a pleading expression, "but I'm gonna need you to say it."
Jo sucked in an unnecessary breath, raking her hands through her hair as she hesitantly bobbed her head at Sam.
"When I saw Dean go down, it was like... time stood still," Jo murmured, her eyes affixed on a spot in the distance, as though with her words she was revisiting the memory. "I mean... hellhounds... they're... nobody just walks away from those things."
"Go on," Sam encouraged quietly, his gaze flitting from Jo back to his brother, whom he could tell was listening intently despite the fact that his eyes had closed.
"I knew I had to go back... I mean, the world needed him... he was supposed to be the one- the one to stop the devil and save everyone," Jo continued, a smile stretching her lips taut as she added, "but that's not why I did it."
Osiris frowned, drawing his staff into his body as he watched Jo become instantly more animated with her tale, her hands flying out to illustrate her point. Sam bounced on the balls of his feet a little, nervous energy getting the better of his usual poise and demanding that Jo continue.
"I did it because I couldn't imagine a world without him," she said, and Sam knew that her cheeks should have blazed with the crimson fire of embarrassment. "Dean can be a pain in the ass, more than most guys... he's a terrible shot, he owns like one shirt, and he sings along to the jukebox even if he doesn't know the words, but... but I guess he's... he's kind too, y'know? Selfless and loyal... smart, in a way... the kind of hunter that I always wanted to be and the kind of guy I..."
Jo halted before the words could tumble from her lips, and her mouth sealed closed, much to Sam's horror. He shot her an imploring look, one that communicated both his understanding of her reluctance to talk, and yet also the insurmountable need for her to do so. Sighing, Jo nodded her head in understanding, and her lips parted.
"The kind of guy I could have loved." Smiling despite her grief, she added softly, "That I did love."
Dean's eyes flashed open and this time he made no effort to blink away his tears. Having been moved to speak, Jo found herself now reluctant to stop- desperate to make both Dean and his accuser realise the futility of his guilt.
"None of it... none of it was his fault," she stated, eventually managing to catch his gaze, "and he would have gone back for me, too."
A fleeting moment of understanding passed between the two, and Dean affixed his eyes upon hers as he nodded his head slowly.
"No more questions," Sam said quietly, sitting back down beside Dean, who had once again taken to staring forlornly at Jo's deathly pale face.
Osiris peered down at the ground, silently deliberating over the evidence. It was with an odd smile contorting his lips that he declared, "The court has reached it's verdict..."
By the time Sam has reached this point, his eyes are watering in a telltale fashion, and the room has begun to spin as a result of the liquor he has sucked down as though it were tap water. Bobby is in a similar condition, although the years of drinking experience he holds over Sam help him to an extent.
Bobby swallows hard, leaving the question unspoken, but realising that the outcome he most fears would explain Sam's demeanour, and the fact that he has yet to see Dean walk through his door.
Sam's head whips up and he affixes Bobby with a look that is altogether odd, and the older hunter can see the strain and agony playing across the boy's features.
He takes it in with a stilted nod, feeling his old heart hammer ten to the dozen in his chest, and without a word he stretches for the bottle.
There was no pain for Dean, just a brilliant and blinding flash of white light before he found himself standing in a room that baffled him immediately. He blinked rapidly to encourage his vision to sharpen, and reached out a hand to steady himself. His fingers met the plush back of a maroon couch, which was overstuffed and piled with both throw cushions and discarded magazines.
Dean shook his head, his eyes wandering the lounge and drinking in every little detail, no matter how irrelevant.
Scanning the room around him for clues as to his whereabouts, Dean reached out and plucked a photograph from the table beside him. The content was confusing, and he frowned as he saw Jo's smiling face right next to his own; of course the photograph and indeed the moment had never really existed. At the sound of heavy paws against the wooden floor, Dean was suddenly face to face with something, or rather somebody, he did recognise.
"Buddy?" he laughed softly, smiling in disbelief as the adorably droopy eyed hound who had once been a resident of the car yard padded toward him, tail wagging in greeting.
"Hey there, big guy," Dean ruffled the top of the animal's head, oblivious to the figure that was now standing behind him.
"He remembers you."
Dean turned instantly upon hearing her voice, and his breath caught in his throat as he saw Jo standing before him; golden skinned and rosy cheeked, just as he always tried to remember her.
"Jo..." his voice came out in little more than a whisper, and he felt his heart ache at the smile that gently tugged at her lips.
"Hey Dean-o," she murmured, jamming her hands in her pockets and then shrugging, "I'd offer you a beer, but I guess you won't be staying that long."
"I guess not," Dean replied, his own hands sliding into his pockets from force of habit. He watched Jo for several awkward moments before he took a step towards her, and she closed the remaining distance between them. She was encircled in Dean's arms before either had truly realised what was happening, and she appeared to be blinking back tears as she stared up at him.
"Hey, I thought there were no tears in heaven," Dean quipped, aware of the weak joke and also the decidedly sorrowful tinge that his voice bore. Jo sniffled, forcing a smile as she regarded the hunter, who seemed poised with so many things on the tip of his tongue, and yet he remained silent.
"I'm sorry... about everything," Jo began as she stepped away from Dean. He shook his head quickly, seizing Jo's elbow in order to pull her back against his body.
"Don't waste the time we have, none of this was your fault," Dean assured her, reaching out and brushing a stray wisp of hair away from Jo's eyes. She smiled through the tears that had now begun to descend, and Dean laid his palm against her cool cheek. His flesh connected with hers and he was vaguely surprised at this, although definitely grateful; he had figured that their goodbye could be only about words and nothing more, given the fact that he did not truly belong in heaven, yet.
"So, this is..." Dean trailed off, his eyes sweeping the room as he realised that he was unsure of how to really classify his surroundings.
"This is... home..." Jo said, her gaze befalling the photographs of her own version of Dean, which she realised quickly that the real Dean was certain to have spotted. She struggled to bury her embarrassment; telling herself that this was her heaven after all, and she had every damn right to fill it with whatever she wished.
However, if Dean had noticed the photographs, he made no mention of them, and instead he rested his hands on Jo's hips in order to peer down into the depths of her brown eyes.
"I guess this is it," Dean murmured, drawing a nod from Jo who was worrying her bottom lip with her teeth in an effort to hold herself together. His eyes trained unwaveringly on her plump, pink lips, Dean lowered his head and pressed a chaste kiss to her mouth. As he moved to draw back, he felt Jo's arms encircle him and lock around his upper body, holding him close so that their lips could be reunited. Her skin was suddenly warm against his, and her tongue pushed its way gently into his mouth, causing a subsequent groan to rise from Dean's throat. His eyelids fluttered closed and he held onto Jo for all he was worth, lips moving in perfect time with her own as they continued the searing kiss.
"I don't want to say goodbye to you again," he whispered regretfully, pressing his lips to her forehead as he held her against his chest.
"It's not your time, Dean," Jo said softly, mapping her fingertips across his cheek and jaw as she stared up at him intently. The Dean Winchester she had conjured in the afterlife was a poor reflection of the man standing before her, and she realised heaven could never hope to compete with the actual feeling of being in his arms.
"We don't have long," she shook her head pointedly, placing her fingertip against his lips to halt his response.
Dean nodded in understanding, tangling his fingers in her hair as he ushered her mouth toward his once again, trying to memorize everything about the moment, from the taste of her kisses to the scent of her shampoo. She smelled just as he remembered, a curious mix of vanilla and gunpowder, yet the sickeningly metallic stench of blood that had surrounded their first goodbye was long gone.
Pressing his cheek to hers, Dean brushed his thumb over her skin, hesitating only for a moment before he spoke, "It would have been you, Jo..."
His admission prompted a gentle sob from Jo, and she forced a smile as she tried to overcome this new heartbreak.
"We'd have driven each other crazy," she replied, fingers grasping at his shirt as she lifted her eyes to his, "but, I guess we'll never know."
Dean could feel an invisible force beginning to tug at him, and he knew with sinking certainty that it was time. His fingers tightened their grip on Jo's arms, and he pressed his forehead against hers, not bothering to attempt to stem the tears that flowed down his cheeks.
"I love you too, Jo," he murmured fiercely, screwing his eyes tight closed as Jo leaned into him farther in response. "I always did."
Heaven was supposed to be a place of happiness and ecstasy, free from all pain and sorrow, and yet here Jo was being subjected to possibly the worst heartbreak since the actual moment of her death. She had left behind so much on earth, and it seemed that she was being allowed one last cruel glimpse of what could have been. She was certain that she and Dean would not cross paths again, and so all she could do was steal herself against the hurt, and find contentment in what her own mind had created for the benefit of her disembodied soul.
"Have a good life Dean," she whispered, as the blinding white light began to envelope them, and she felt Dean's soul being wrenched away.
"Dean Winchester; although your heart is indeed heavy with guilt, it is your grief that holds you within its grasp. Whilst you shall carry with you the burdens that weigh upon your soul for the rest of your mortal life, it is the decision of this court that you may go free. I reject your plea of guilt. Leave this place."
"That's it?" Dean demanded, standing as the chains that surrounded him suddenly clattered to the floor, where they faded out of view as though they had never really existed in the first place.
"He can go?" Sam pressed, a half smile pulling at his lips as he glanced from Osiris to his brother and back again. "This isn't a trick?"
"Do not doubt the will of the gods," Osiris replied, cocking his head as he shot a look at Jo, who was smiling as she regarded Dean. The god frowned, clearing his throat before addressing the blonde spirit. "It is time for you to return to your place in the afterlife."
"Wait," Dean interjected hurriedly, stepping out from around the table, and approaching the witness stand almost hesitantly. Jo barely twitched, her eyes trained unblinkingly upon Dean as she struggled to make sense of his actions.
"I just..." Dean continued, his cheeks colouring and his Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed. "Do I at least get to say goodbye?"
His brows knit together in a frown, and Bobby pauses in lifting the heavy glass tumbler to his lips. He regards Sam incredulously, "So, what? That's it? This Osiris guy let him go?"
Sam nods his head and runs his hand through his hair as he leans back in his chair, "Yeah, pretty much."
Bobby's lips form a tight line across his mouth, and he extends his hand to deftly clip Sam across the ear.
"You couldn't have just told me that? You had to tell the whole damn story and scare me half to death? What's the matter with you, boy?" he demands, his relief materialising as anger. He reaches out to repeat the gesture, causing Sam to recoil and duck his head.
"Ow, Bobby, would you quit it?" Sam's eyes widen and he stares down at the table top before raising his gaze. Bobby sits back down, all at once uneasy by the expression that ebbs over Sam's features.
"I kind of had to tell you the whole story." Sam laughs softly, shock still evident in his tone, "Because otherwise, I wouldn't even know how to begin to explain this..."
Bobby watches uncertainly as Sam rises from his chair and crosses the room in barely two strides. Sam calls out for Dean and, almost instantly, Bobby hears the sound of footfalls across the expanse of the back porch.
"Damn kids are gonna give me an ulcer," Bobby gripes, preparing himself for whatever is about to be sprung upon him. He throws his head back emphatically to drain the final dregs of whiskey from his glass, and then suddenly he freezes as the sound of a familiar voice registers in his brain.
Bobby slowly places the glass down onto the table, and dubiously turns his gaze in the direction of the door. Almost immediately a torrent of muffled curse words tumble from his lips, half lost in his cry of shock.
Jo Harvelle stands on the threshold of the kitchen doorway, one hand floating nervously by her hip, and the other wrapped between Dean's large, calloused fingers. The young man wears an expression that betrays both his amusement, and also his utter disbelief at the fact that she is flesh and blood at his side once again. He looks like he may never loose his grip on her hand and, as she walks towards Bobby, Dean matches her every step.
"Dear God..." Bobby breathes finally, the mild profanity the only coherent words he can form. "How in blue blazes..."
Sam is the one to speak, allowing Dean and Jo to become lost in each others' eyes once again. Bobby listens to the youngest Winchester, but his gaze is on the couple, who look mighty cosy in Bobby's book. He is pleased for Dean, but concerned at the same time that whatever has brought Jo Harvelle back is simply playing with them all, waiting to snatch her away again. From the look spread across Dean's face, the old hunter can tell it's love; he recalls seeing John look at pictures of Mary in much the same way, remembers how he used to smile when Karen's hand fit snugly in his own, and a renewed sense of hope surges through his bones. He takes an uncharacteristic moment of prayer in which he asks that Dean finally be cut some slack, because from that look in his eyes Bobby is certain the boy couldn't stand to lose this girl again.
"Osiris," Sam says, averting his gaze as Dean leans down and brushes a kiss against Jo's lips. "Not only is he the ruler of the Underworld, but the Ancient Egyptians believed that he possessed the ability to resurrect the dead; more specifically, those gone before their time, or souls that might serve a greater purpose on Earth."
"But... why?" Bobby demands aghast, having heard nothing about the deity so far that seemed in the least endearing.
"The most we can figure is, it was his way of apology to Dean," Sam says with a shrug, although something in his voice conveys he doesn't believe his own words.
"You back for good darlin'?" Bobby asks, tact and diplomacy gone out the proverbial window as he appears desperate to ascertain any clauses or complications of Jo's return.
Smiling up at Dean as the reality of her second chance - their second chance - hits her, Jo nods her head. Dean is still seemingly unable to tear his eyes from her face, and the scrutiny of his gaze makes her heart pound in her chest. She thinks about how good it feels just to experience that sensation again, and as though sensing her thoughts Dean gives her hand a squeeze.
"Yeah, I'm back for good," she replies, her cheeks flushed with a pale pink blush that Dean is overjoyed at the sight of. Gone is the ghostly pale complexion and haunted eyes that had tainted her beauty, and Jo appears to all intents and purposes just as she ever was. Her skin is the same shade of faint bronze he remembers, her lips are wonderfully pink, and soft and warm against his own. The life and vitality that had previously shone in her deep brown eyes is once again present, and though he has never known it before, her hand fits perfectly in his.
Bobby is out of the chair and on his feet before either of the hunters can blink and, moments later, Jo finds herself the victim of an exuberant hug. They dance around the room for several seconds, Jo led rather than leading, before Bobby composes himself. Clearing his throat, he resettles his disturbed cap on his head, and affixes Jo with a toothy grin.
More glasses are seized and both Dean and Jo are ushered into vacant spots around the table. This time, as the tale is retold, Bobby Singer's eyes are wet with tears of joy, rather than those of sorrow.
The Hall of Maat, 2011
Isis approached the platform with a tender smile, the likes of which she reserved only for her husband.
Osiris hunched over on his throne, one palm outstretched. A puddle of dark ink sat in the cup of his hand, and he squinted as he gazed into the liquid. Isis frowned, her iridescent beauty not disturbed by the gesture even for a second.
"Darling?" she queried, alighting the step so that she found herself level with Osiris, who barely glanced up from his work.
There was an odd expression fixed upon his face, and he was watching a scene play out on the surface of the ink. Isis listened in silence for a while to the cries of the young blonde woman, and the whispered words of love from the young man that held her.
Isis felt a little ache in her heart, as she always did when reminded of the terrible partings that death can bring. It was evident that Osiris was troubled also, and so Isis hunkered by his side with the resolve to help in any way she could.
"I do not understand," Osiris said finally, his tone belaying as much. He continued in the next breath without prompting, "They were never lovers and yet... they speak of love as though it were familiar to them."
Isis nodded, not truly understanding, and simply waited for Osiris to proceed. When he fell mute, she heaved a sigh.
"What happened here?" she inquired, cocking her head and arching a brow as she watched the couple indulge in a kiss.
"The accused was released without charge," Osiris revealed, and although this may normally have irked him greatly, Isis was certain that the route of his unrest was something else entirely.
"And the girl?" Isis asked, genuinely curious now as she watched the passionate and sorrowful scene unfold in greater detail.
"The witness," Osiris explained, patting his knee in a coaxing gesture and smiling when Isis settled herself there. She stretched across her husband and brushed her rouged lips against his forehead.
"She spoke highly of him, although he was the cause of her death," Osiris revealed, watching Isis' face for signs of a reaction. "She loved him."
"And did he return her affection?" Isis pressed, interest peaked as she peered at the image of the handsome young man. Although she had only had eyes for her husband for many thousands of years now, it never hurt to look.
"He did," Osiris answered, adding quietly, "although he did not realise until it was too late."
"For every joy there is a price to be paid," Isis admonished, thinking immediately of her long passed mother as the words left her lips. "We of all should know that."
A smile quirked her features again, and Isis stroked her husband's brow with slender fingers.
"What troubles you, husband?"
Osiris sucked in a breath and then released it in a whoosh, turning to Isis with a searching expression in place.
"I fear I will never understand humans," he answered, genuinely perplexed. Isis let out a snort of laughter, although the sound was delicate and not unkind.
"Oh darling, but you were one, long ago," she chastised, rolling her eyes and pursing her lips. "Surely you could never forget that?"
"Perhaps," Osiris replied, eyes still upon the pool of ink. There was something about the latest case that felt so inherently wrong to the deity, and yet he could not put his finger on the cause of his unrest. Whilst it was true that he could not understand Jo Harvelle's love for the man who had been her death, he knew that there were those in the world who had never been able to understand his own story; that of a man murdered by his brother, protected by a devoted lover, and eventually restored by the gods. Over time, he had come to be known as 'the lord of love' and, whilst in the company of his beloved wife, the title suited him.
During the years of his reign, Osiris had restored life on but a few occasions, allowing the righteous to conquer death when he was moved to do so. It was an action that he did not take lightly, and yet one he felt the strongest urge to consider in that moment. Empathy had never been the deity's strong point, even during the years he had spent as a human, and yet he felt the parallels between himself and these young lovers like a punch to the gut. He had spent the last few minutes deliberating over what his life without Isis would mean, and of the lengths she had gone to thanks to the magnitude of her love.
"You will do the right thing," Isis comforted, touching her forehead to her husbands and sighing. "Of that I am certain."
With a quiet murmur of unrest, Osiris merely turned his attention back to scrying- his mind and heart both at war.
She sits basking in the warm glow of the sun as it rises above the South Dakota skyline. She is settled on the porch of Bobby's ramshackle house, her arms hugging her knees, and her chin resting atop them. She hears the screen door swing open but doesn't turn in that direction, her wide eyes instead affixed on the horizon.
Dean clears his throat as he approaches Jo, who is swaddled in his loaned bathrobe and wearing one of Sam's plain white t-shirts as a nightshirt. It is more than long enough.
"You okay?" Dean inquires as he draws level to Jo and drops down into a crouch at her side. She turns to glance at him a moment, her smile alerting him to the fact that she is more than okay.
"Sure," she answers, tossing her curls over her shoulder and scooting closer to Dean, who encircles an arm around her shoulders in response. She explains quickly, "Just couldn't sleep. I feel kind of wired."
"I woke up and you were gone..." he explains, recalling the moment of panic that had overcome him as he wondered if perhaps he had dreamed the whole thing, and once again awoken to a world without her.
Arching a blonde eyebrow, Jo grins and lets her head fall back against his shoulder.
"Guess you know how all those girls felt now, huh?" she teases, sighing contentedly as she feels his fingertips gently caressing the back of her neck.
Shaking his head, his face a mask of innocence, Dean merely smiles and brushes his thumb across her cheek as he directs her lips toward his.
Jo smiles as they part, and places her palm to his jaw, her fingertips brushing over stubble.
"I've done this so many times with you," she confesses shyly, now knowing beyond all reason that nothing in heaven could begin to compare to this moment. Her heart pounds in her chest as he claims her mouth in another eager yet achingly tender kiss; she realises that the resulting dip in the pit of her stomach and jolt of electricity that shoots through her entire body belong only in this world.
It is then that she notices that only one of his arms has tangled around her, and she glances curiously at his other hand. The sight of the Winchester rifle near takes her breath away, and Jo swallows hard, tears springing to her eyes as Dean extends it towards her.
Her old shotgun is perfect; clean, well cared for, and just as she remembers it. She half expected Dean to discard it or perhaps relegate it to the back of some long forgotten closet at Bobby's. When she learns that Dean has carried it with him on and off for the last two years, and that it has saved his life on a number of occasions, a smile blossoms on Jo's face.
Jo accepts the shotgun and brings it close to her chest, enjoying the comfortable weight of it in her arms. For just a moment, a pang of fear shoots through her, and Jo contemplates giving up the hunting lifestyle in favour of something more normal, and decidedly less hazardous to the health; but that is just for a moment, and it passes quickly as Jo meets Dean's expectant gaze. Hunting is not just a part of her life, but almost a part of her genetic makeup, and Jo knows she could never leave it behind, whether it has been the end of her before or not.
"I guess you already know you were in my heaven," Jo says sheepishly, just feeling the need to make the confession in light of the fact that Dean must have worked it out by now. He nods, and his smile is more than a little pleased by this. Jo blinks, surprised that he doesn't seem at all freaked out. Instead, he leans closer, almost close enough for the tips of their noses to meet.
"I'm kind of glad," Dean replies, grazing the back of his hand along Jo's cheekbone. "And maybe I can't give you heaven again... but if you let me try, I can give you..."
Jo purses her lips, making a shushing sound that quiets Dean even as she holds her index finger against his lips. Looking up into his eyes, she smiles and then speaks softly.
"Honey, I have all I need right here," she whispers, and she tilts back her head so that the rising sun kisses her skin once again. Dean inhales sharply before literally diving forwards and initiating a long, tender kiss, which sees him tangling his hands through Jo's hair.
He knows life on the road with him will be just about as far from heaven as you can get, but Jo doesn't seem to mind, and he is struck dumb for a minute or so by the fact that she actually wants to be with him.
Dean smiles, and just looks at the woman before him; Joanna Beth Harvelle – daughter, friend, hunter, and the woman who gave up heaven for love.