Title: Killing the Fandom
Summary: Much to Dean and Sam's annoyance, Gwen and Jo come face to face with one of the more unusual aspects of their husband's lives: the book series and fans. Companion piece to 'Lost and Found' & 'Nothing and Everything'.
Disclaimer: 'Supernatural' was created by Eric Kripke. No disrespect is intended with this work of fan fiction.
Notes: It'd be best to read 'Lost and Found' and 'Nothing and Everything' before this piece to avoid confusion.
The timer Sam had set went off at the same time Jo cried out, "Crapsticks! Why can't I win at this game?"
Dean Winchester glanced in the rearview mirror at them, seeing a tiny smirk on Sam's lips before he covered it up. Jo should know better than to think Sam was going to make it was easy for her to win against him at any card game. He waited for the words he knew Sam was going to say. He should know. Sam had said them every hour on the hour since they'd left the house.
"Pull over, Dean."
There they were. He glanced askance at Gwen in the front seat beside him. She was reading the Nook she and Jo shared, resting it against the pregnant curve of her belly. Dean had once glanced at the library on the device and shook his head at the differing reading preferences between the two women. Jo read horror and women's magazines, with the occasional chicklit thrown in, while Gwen preferred true crime and mystery of the grisly sort.
She was nearly eight months along and barely looked it except in the chest. Her cleavage had become rather remarkable in the past couple months. Even he was impressed. "You need to stop," he asked her.
"I can go another hour," she replied, not looking up from the screen.
"We're stopping." Sam was insistent, tapping Dean on the shoulder and pointing. "There. Pull over there. Gwen needs to walk for five or ten minutes."
At this rate, it'd be another day before they reached Las Vegas.
Now Gwen looked up, frowning. "Sam, I'm fine. I don't have to pee and I think I can wait an hour to walk."
"Long car rides aren't good for you or the baby. You need to walk, keep the blood flowing."
Jo snorted. "I went on an even longer car ride when I was pregnant with Jack and I'm fine."
Sam shifted in the seat. "Well, you're not my wife."
"True," she agreed, "but I'm Dean's and he was just as fanatical about stopping as you are."
"I'm not being fanatical," he argued.
"You are a little." Jo's voice was mildly critical. "Lighten up and loosen up or we'll never get there. We're two hours behind in our ETA already. All the good slot machines will be taken."
Dean settled it the only way he could. He pulled into the gas station Sam had indicated. "We're stopping. Everyone out. Pee, get drinks, snacks, and Gwen? Go walk before Sam has a stroke."
They needed this. They all needed this. Work, both their real and front jobs, had been hard and busy since the reunion. Heather Holt's family was a mystery and puzzle and Gwen and Jo still didn't trust her. Honestly, Dean didn't either, though he found it amusing that Heather had to be the worst witch he'd ever met. She'd admitted a few times that the only studying she'd done was to find spells for what she wanted. She'd ignored the theory and darker, deeper aspects of the craft. A far cry from Mia, Gwen's mother. Mia had honed her craft to deadly results for Gwen's father Aaron and a ton of other people.
He refilled the gas tank, leaned against the Impala, and watched Sam and Gwen walk in circles around the station while Jo went inside and returned with a bag of cheese popcorn and two bottles of water.
She set the popcorn in the car, handed him a bottle and opened the other one. "That brings back memories." She jerked her chin in Sam and Gwen's direction.
Whenever they'd driven anywhere, he'd walked with her about every hour or so for the same reason Sam was walking with Gwen. "It does." He put the bottle in the car and slid an arm around her waist. It also brought back other memories from that trip to Lisa's house with Ben in tow, specifically, a slip of paper he'd left for Lisa and Ben. "You think Sophie is still hunting?"
"Don't know. Why?"
He looked down at her. "Sophie and Mick were the names I gave them if they ever had trouble and needed a hunter."
There was a thoughtful gleam in Jo's eyes as she contemplated that and she took a sip of water before answering. "We can send a note off to Ben, recommend a few more if you want."
Ben and Lisa were firmly in the past, but he'd given them Sophie and Mick as contacts on the completely wrong assumption that nothing would happen to them in the near future. Everything had happened. Mick was now dead and Sophie was…. Who knew where she was? She'd left the reunion and disappeared. Now if Ben and Lisa tried to call, they'd get no help at all. He wanted Ben safe. After all this time, he still wanted Ben safe and sound and he realized that Jo understood. "Would you and Gwen take care of it?" She'd liked Ben, too.
"Will do. I'll do an address search, make sure they're still there, write up a few recs and send it out the next time Gwen and I are in another state." She capped the water. "You know, I thought Sam would be a mess over her being pregnant, but he's been surprisingly rational and calm for the most part."
She hadn't heard about Sam's nightmares then, which meant Sam hadn't told Gwen about them. Probably didn't want to worry her, but it wasn't good that he wasn't telling Gwen. She needed to know, especially since they were becoming frequent events. He'd been having nightmares that the baby came out with Lucifer ensconced already in him, like Sam had been a conduit and was living Rosemary's Baby. He'd also had a nightmare that he was an old man trying to stop his son from accepting Lucifer and failed. Both nightmares shook Sam deeply and while he'd been reluctant, he'd admitted the story in each to Dean. "He's not as calm as you think."
It was all the explanation Jo needed. She nodded in acceptance. "Then this vacation will do him good. He can relax and have a good time."
Exactly what Dean planned to do. "We all can."
That good time, or the first part anyway, came about a few hours later, almost immediately after check-in to the hotel and a quick inspection of their suite. He and Jo claimed they wanted to unpack before heading to the casino and Sam and Gwen went on without them. Of course unpacking wasn't exactly what either of them had in mind.
Dean swept his hand up Jo's bare side, glad for this vacation they'd taken. It was nice to be able to have some together time without Jack trying to get in the room. Their son was not only an escape artist, but had an instinct that told him when his parents wanted to be alone together. They kept waking up to find he'd gotten out of his room and was either in bed with them or playing on the floor with a toy waiting for them to wake up.
Hi phone rang and he picked it up. It was Sam. "Yeah?" Dean moved onto his back.
"What time did you want to meet for dinner?" Sam's voice was muffled and Dean could hear the sounds of a crowd and Gwen's triumphant cry.
Jo rolled over and began pressing kisses to his chest and down his stomach. Her glance up at him was deliciously naughty.
He stretched just a little. "Mind if we just meet up later and skip the dinner together?"
Jo moved lower, added a hand, and his brain quit functioning. "Um…. Uh…. Um…." Dean tried to suck in a breath without sounding like Jo was making him a happy husband at present.
"Dean? You there?"
"We're on a winning streak," he gasped out.
There was silence on Sam's end. "Right…. We'll just meet you later. Call us."
Dean ended the call and dropped the phone onto the bed, concentrating only on Jo - or rather what Jo was doing.
Yup. He was a very happy husband.
While being in Las Vegas didn't necessarily mean she had to be drinking, Gwen Campbell Winchester would've liked at least one frou-frou cocktail. Unfortunately, her condition made it a bad idea.
She was in the middle of her seventh month of pregnancy and had what she considered to be a decent sized baby bump. Dr. Ames had said she was looking good and right where she should be. Of course, Gwen already knew that. She'd actually done the reading. Jo, who'd been twice as big at seven and a half months, maintained that Gwen had the smallest bump ever and kept asking if she was sure she was as far along as she thought. Maybe she'd miscalculated?
She hadn't miscalculated and her breasts had apparently gotten all of the extra that Jo thought should be in her stomach. Her bra size had gone up by two cups. Sam hadn't complained and she'd even caught Dean admiring her cleavage a couple times.
In a show of sisterly solidarity, Jo had declared earlier that she wasn't drinking either, though Gwen didn't mind if she did. She hardly felt left out of this couples vacation Dean and Sam had proposed after the long mess with the soul stealer. So much had happened in such a short time that they'd needed some sort of downtime. Gwen's grandparents had been killed, Ellen and Jack targeted by the soul stealer, then the showdown at Jo's high school reunion.
So many people had died that night. Jo's high school nemesis had come through unscathed however and now appeared to think they were the best of friends because Jo had saved her life. Sometimes, Jo even took her calls instead of sending them to voicemail, giving non-answers to questions and talking only enough to get Heather to talk about herself. Once, Dean had picked up and told Heather she was going to hell. Heather still thought he was witnessing to her. For a smart woman, she couldn't seem to connect her demon deal with actually going to hell over it. They continued to work through what had turned out to be a mountain of problems stemming from Heather Holt's dad, Artie, and as long as Heather paid them, Gwen didn't see any reason not to continue investigating.
Sam had never forbidden her to work cases, like Dean had tried with Jo, probably because every time he got that look in his eyes, she'd simply say 'caveman' and it'd shut him up. Maybe she'd had to say it fifteen or twenty times before he paid attention…. She wasn't working real jobs from here to the end of the pregnancy, only the front cases and doing paperwork. There was always paperwork of some kind or other.
The soul stealer had been imprisoned once more, but the Trickster - Teddy, as he claimed his name was - had gone free, his powers returned in a last ditch effort to keep the soul stealer distracted. Just in case he'd kept Las Vegas as his home, they'd stayed as far away from the hotel he'd used as possible. While Sam was certain they had an understanding now and Teddy wouldn't come after them, Gwen and the others weren't so certain. Teddy was a monster and monsters usually couldn't be trusted.
Sophie had been true to her oath to end Mick's misery. She'd shot him once in the head and disappeared, leaving the scene about the same time Teddy had. Her phone number no longer worked and Gwen hoped that somehow, somewhere, Sophie had found peace with herself.
It was nice to relax, just the four of them. Dean and Jo's son Jack was with Ellen and Bobby for the next few days and the only thing on the agenda was to have fun.
She smoothed her dress down across her stomach and stepped into her flats. Normally, she'd wear heels despite her pregnancy, but Sam was sure an accident would happen if she did. Flats it was. He'd tried to hide his anxiety as the weeks had turned into months, channeling that energy into getting the nursery ready and keeping a vigilant eye on the local news. He wanted to be on top of anything that dared come to Sioux Falls, claiming it was the practical thing to do. However, Gwen knew it wasn't just that. He was having nightmares and hadn't told her. She'd been there for one that she thought had been a doozey, yet he claimed he was okay.
Maybe she'd press him about it when they got back home, really sit down and talk it over. Gwen had an idea what was bothering him, namely the vessel issue. Even if it wasn't a real issue, it needed discussing if it was bothering him.
She turned to the side and gently patted her belly. The baby was starting his evening gymnastics and Gwen smiled. Their son. They were having a boy and she couldn't wait to welcome him to the world.
Gwen put on her great-grandmother's necklace and earrings, a brief pang of sadness inside her at the reminder of Ronnie and Ham. Even after time had passed, she still expected to get an email or call from Ronnie. She missed them both more than she'd thought possible. Jo and Dean had gone to the cabin and swept it for anything suspicious, then cleared out more things only hunters should know about. They'd cleaned the kitchen and brought in a cleaning crew to clean the entire cabin. It was ready now if they needed it.
"You about ready?" Sam put his arms around her and dropped a kiss to her shoulder. She laid his hand on one spot on her belly as their baby kicked. He caressed that spot, smiling. "Feeling him kick never gets old."
They were having dinner by themselves. Dean and Jo had hit a winning streak in the casino, or so they'd claimed, and couldn't be pulled away from the slot machines and card tables. From the way their room had looked when Gwen had come back to get dressed up for dinner, she thought it was more that they'd gotten distracted in the hotel room and didn't want to be pulled away from each other. True or not, Dean and Jo weren't in the suite now, the door to their room open. They'd meet up with them later. "I'm ready." Turning, she straightened his tie, smiling. "Don't you look good enough to eat."
"Mmm….You just might get lucky later," she promised as they let themselves out of the suite.
They hadn't intended to spend most of the day in their room. Honest. The plan had been to head straight for the casino and try to make living expenses for a month or two.
But then Dean had kissed her and begun doing some really interesting things with his hands, and the afternoon was gone, broken only by Sam's call. Oh well. It wasn't like they really needed the money this time. WHC Investigations was doing well enough to be considered profitable and there was always the job they were still doing for Heather.
Jo had been flabbergasted to discover she really did have some things in common with Heather - and that she sort of liked her a little. When she was away from the group they'd grown up with, she was like a different person entirely, eager to talk at length to Jo about the changes she'd decided to make in her life upon hitting thirty. It was a bunch of self-help crap, but Heather was taking it all seriously, trying to be a better person and make a better life. Jo's bullshit meter didn't even go off once during any of their talks, though she'd thought it'd be screaming.
She didn't think she'd ever trust Heather however. No way Jo was going to trust a witch no matter who she was. So, she listened and let Heather talk, filing away tidbits in case they were ever needed again. When Heather finished up the personal talk, she asked about the case. Each new thing they discovered, each layer of depth to Artie's involvement in selling cursed objects, had Heather asking 'what the hell more can there possibly be to uncover?'. There was always more. That was one thing Jo had learned over the years. No matter what a body finds out, there's always another bomb waiting to explode or shoe to drop.
It was Murphy's Law or something.
She wondered where the trail Artie had left would lead them and if it was getting time to drop it and tell Heather to leave well enough alone. Somehow, she suspected Heather really did want the full truth about her family and in Jo's experience, the full truth usually hurt in some way.
Shaking away thoughts of the present, she focused on getting in vacation mode. She was well into vacation mode, riding the groove of it into a nicely mellow mood, when she realized the girl beside her at the slot machines was wearing her pink blouse.
Not merely her blouse, but her blouse, her long blond hair, her total look right down to the boots. It was like looking in a mirror -except for the dark roots that betrayed that the girl wasn't a natural blond and was in need of a new dye job.
The girl studied her back, then slowly smiled. "There aren't many of us, you know. Jo fans. Or Ellen fans, or…any of the women for that matter. I don't remember your shirt from the books, but the jacket I totally do. I've been looking for one with no luck and think I might just make one. I found a pattern I think'll work. I'm Marissa by the way. Well, when I'm not being Jo. She's just so much fun, I think I'd rather be her than me, you know?"
Jo fans? Ellen fans? What the hell was she talking about? She looked down at her brown jacket. It was one she tended to forget she had. It had actually been in her mother's closet, though it hadn't fit over Ellen's chest in many years, a thing Ellen had lamented. Before she could formulate some sort of answer, Dean sidled up to her and leaned against the machine. He had that devil-may-care look in his eyes that indicated he was going to try to coax her back to the room and blow off meeting Sam and Gwen.
"Hey, Jo. What would you think if we -"
"Hi Dean," the girl beside her, Marissa, said in a cringe-worthy, almost lovesick tone.
Dear God, Jo thought. Did I ever sound that obvious?
With an uncomfortable lurch in her stomach, she realized that yes, she'd been that obviously lovesick over Dean once and it was like a mini-hell coming face to face with her own awkward behavior.
Mouth open, Dean flicked his gaze to Marissa, then Jo, then Marissa. That devil-may-care glint faded, his eyes widening with something like panic. "No. No, no, oh hell, no!" He looked all around the room, expression shifting to irritation. "Damn it. This is not happening."
"What's wrong," she replied, only to be irritated herself as Marissa, said it with her.
He cringed at that, pointing a stern finger at Marissa. "Where's Chuck?"
"Chuck? Who's Chuck? I don't know any Chuck."
"Then where's Becky?"
"Are you mad at her?"
"Oh, don't be mad at Becks! She worked really hard to put this together. I mean, have you seen the guest line-up yet? We've got David Angle, the actor who's playing Dean in 'Route 666' speaking tomorrow morning on his insight into the character. Isn't that awesome?"
"The killer racist truck? Have you read that one?"
Read? The word, combined with the mention of Chuck and Marissa's other chatter, rang a bell in Jo's mind of something she recalled Dean and Sam telling her about. Her lips parted. She had the suspicion that their lives were about to slide into the surreal and decided to just go with it. It was a vacation after all.
He looked ill, paling and pressing a hand to his stomach. "Chuck is dead," he mumbled.
"Who's Chuck," Marissa asked, tucking her hair behind her ears and looking at Jo. "Do you know who he's talking about?"
Standing, Jo gathered her things and abandoned the machine, putting an arm around Dean's waist. "Come on, sweetheart. Let's go find Sam and Gwen, then Chuck or this Becky chick. Get some things straightened out."
Marissa gasped, grinned, and waved a finger at them. "I get it now! Jo-Dean AU! Awesome! You look so good together as them! Like, perfect! You could totally be Jo and Dean! Oh, my God, I'm like in total awe! I once wrote a fic -"
"Right," Jo interrupted. "Becky?" While Dean had explained about the books and, now that Jo thought about it, about the fans, she hadn't realized how weird it'd be to meet any of them and hear herself talked about like a fictional character. It was more than slightly off-putting.
"I don't know. She was at the author table last I saw her."
"Author table." Dean sounded like he was strangling - or about to throw-up. One of the two.
"Yeah. Apparently, she really knows Carver Edlund, like went out with him. That's like so cool. Have you met him? He autographed my copies and man, he's a total babe!"
Total babe? Not exactly the words Jo would use to describe Chuck, but to each her own.
"There's a sign in the lobby. Didn't you two sign in yet? Make sure they give you your packet. I know two people who had to go back and get theirs already. Not a good sign. Do the sign-in people not get their job is to sign us in and give us our packets? Hello?"
Dean stalked towards the lobby, leaving Jo to trail behind him. Luckily, Marissa had the sense to stay where she was. Jo had noticed a few people dressed in costumes earlier, but it was Las Vegas so she hadn't thought a thing of it. They found a small sign in the lobby pointing down one hallway. The sign was nearly hidden behind a potted plant and she heard Dean make a noise of approval.
"At least they're keeping it quiet." He followed the signs to a room the size of a small gym. It was apparently everything for this convention: sign-in table (that had no one sitting there), author table, vendor room with licensed merchandise…. "Licensed merchandise?" Dean stopped walking, backed up two steps, and stared at a row of six tables. "What the freakin' hell?"
Jo went to the t-shirts, holding one up in her favorite shade of pink. It had 'I love Dean' on it with a fuzzy heart for the word love. "Ooh, I like. How much," she asked the vendor, a woman who resembled her mom in every way except bust size and she had curly hair.
Dean snatched it from her and dropped it back on the table. "Don't get friendly with the crazies."
Other shirts were laid out as well. There was a matching 'I love Sam' one, also with the fuzzy heart, and 'I love Sam and Dean'. She saw one with EDG and one with ESG on the front, the backs displayed on a plastic crate: Extreme Dean Girl or Extreme Sam Girl. Briefly, she thought about getting Gwen the Sam one, though she wouldn't be able to wear it for awhile. There was a shirt that had 'The Roadhouse' on it she might pick up for her mom. Ellen would love the design and since they'd never managed to get around to getting t-shirts made….
On another table were coffee mugs, bumper stickers, Impala key chains, and more.
He grasped her arm and tugged her away.
"I'll be back," she told the vendor.
"You will not," Dean said. "We're leaving as soon as I kill Chuck."
They came to the author table. It had a bored young woman there who was filing her nails. To one side was a rack of re-released books. To the other was a rack of new releases. Dean was starting to look like he was going to burst a blood vessel.
He pressed a hand to his chest. "I can't breathe. I mean it, Jo. I can't breathe. I'm sweating…."
"Calm down," she soothed, picking up a glossy sheet of paper from the table. "Complete your set of 'Supernatural' books with the re-released titles and experience the lost adventures of Sam and Dean with these recently released titles."
He took the paper, then went to the new releases rack, grabbing each one and flipping through them. "Before dad died, before dad died, Roadhouse, Roadhouse, oh geez, really?"
While he was muttering and cursing to himself, Jo glanced at the re-released titles. The titles were certainly provocative. She'd read them. Next, she went to the new rack, gently shoving Dean a little to one side so she could get at the rack. The latest titles were: Dean Man's Blood, Devil's Trap, In My Time of Dying, Everybody Loves a Clown, Simon Said, No Exit, Hunted, Playthings, Born Under a Bad Sign, and Tall Tales.
Her brows rose. Chuck certainly was prolific. There weren't many authors that she knew of outside of slim paperback romances that put out so many books so fast. Barbara Cartland came to mind.
Due to be released soon were: Dead on the Water, Provenance, The Usual Suspects, and All Hell Breaks Loose. The last one was a double volume and was going to be available in a first time ever hardcover addition. The sign for them also noted that e-versions of each novel would be available - the perfect gift for a Kindle or Nook user.
Jo picked up Born Under a Bad Sign and started to glance through it. Halfway through, she saw her own name and began to read. "Dean?" Using her finger as a bookmark, she waved the book at him.
"Are you gonna pay for those," the bored girl asked, still filing her nails.
He shot her an annoyed glare and put the books back. "I'll get free copies from my good buddy Carver Edlund. Any idea where old Carver is?" He smiled, though it was less than his usual charming grin.
"He said he had to go to the can."
"Dean." Jo smacked him in the arm with the book. "Read this."
Taking it, he read a few pages, then shoved it on the rack. "Enough is enough. When he upsets my wife…."
The thing was, she wasn't upset really. A little weirded out maybe, but not upset.
"How did this happen," he demanded.
The girl sighed. "Well, he published Dead Man's Blood and was like caught in the vampire craze. Devil's Trap was next and when people found out it was an entire series, it exploded."
"Oh, I wish it all would," he muttered.
"E-sales have been awesome and then those guys wanted to make that movie out of the one book, and once that started, demand really shot up. He couldn't have timed it better if he was God himself setting it all up." She began to buff her nails now. "The books are perfect on Kindle or Nook and we've got a sale going right now at our Supernatural web store -"
"There's a web store," Jo asked, pulling out her phone. "What's the address?"
Dean clutched at his chest and let out a moan.
"Relax," she told him. She was mostly kidding. If she was going to get any of the merchandise, she'd just revisit the vendor table before they left.
"I can't relax. I haven't killed Chuck yet."
Putting her phone away, she stepped close to Dean, sliding a comforting hand up and down his back. If Chuck knew what was good for him, he'd see Dean and run.