Happy Jo Week to all! Here. Have a one-shot.

This story is set in "Sam, Interrupted" episode 5x11 which, obviously, comes after 5x10. I think that that's the episode that Ellen and Jo died. In the context of this story, let's say 5x10 didn't happen. I also fudged some details about 5x11, but I hope you don't mind.

I understand that I entered some precarious territory with the self-injury concept, so sorry if I wrote something completely off-base or offensive.

Thanks for reading and reviewing!

No rights to Supernatural.

Jo honestly thought she could handle hunting.

And she could. For about two years, she did, and she did it well. Until that thing got ahold of her mother.

She still remembered the night, merely two weeks ago, with a tragic clarity. It was any another hunt, tracking a werewolf through the backwoods of Minnesota, when during a casual spat between the two girls allowed the wolf to catch her mom off-guard.

Maybe if her mom had just died right there, she would've been able to handle it without ending up in her current situation. Instead, for about eight hours, she had entertained the happy fantasy that her mom had avoided catastrophe. The werewolf had scuttled off after being shot at a couple times and Ellen Harvelle was left with four claw marks trailing blood along her forearms and a gaping wound near her wrist. They were able to patch up the alarming injuries before she got to pale.

However, when they got back to the hotel room and turned in for a night, things took a downward turn. In the middle of the night, Jo was awoken to a dreadful snarling sound. Her mom, now a sickly gray color with nasty-looking chompers, had come at her, bearing teeth and brandishing claws.

Jo had taken a moment to wish she hadn't fought with her mom so much. Maybe her werewolf form wouldn't have been so quick to pursue her.

Jo had tried a number of senseless things. She considered evading it until morning, when werewolves were supposed to transition back to human form, according to the Winchesters, but as if she could keep that up. She considered talking sense to it, but of course, that was doomed. She considered hindering it somehow, but it didn't seem to affect it much. Even with a useless limb and a nasty limp, the Ellen Wolf came at Jo with powerfully and forcefully.

So, just before daybreak, she shot it in the chest.

She'd huddled feebly in the corner of the hotel room for who-knows-how-long, watching the alien form of her mother convulse and strain against its own body.

She must not have got a clear shot in the heart. It wouldn't die.

As the first beams of morning broke flirted with the other side of the hotel curtains, Jo thumped her head against her knees. When she brought her face back up, Ellen was her mom again. The bloody mass of a person was human and she watched the life drain out of it as if cough and sputter up its own blood.

For a while she just sat there, coddling herself, unwilling to make sense of everything she was feeling.

Apparently, not dealing with your feelings leads some issues.

Which is a noticeable reason as to why Jo now found herself in a mental institution.

She sat by herself in the rec room. She hadn't bothered making many friends here. There was one hunter she ran into, Martin, but he was actually kind of crazy. Plus, their common ground and likely conversation piece would be hunting, something Jo wasn't up for talking through at the moment.

She was going through her regular routine of being despairingly depressed and gazing at her surroundings as if they were actually very far away when two familiar faces came in to view.

In her altered state, it took a moment to place them.

"Dean?" she exclaimed before she could stop herself. "Sam?"

The boys turned to face her. Upon seeing Jo Harvelle, their eyes went wide.

"Jo?" Dean called her name, as if experimentally.

She stood from her chair and they rushed over to see her.

"Wait!" the doctor with them demanded. This was Doctor Fuller, the one Jo had seen after a she'd been recommended to this place. She didn't like him very much. She'd gauged that he was a close-minded, yet feeble man who you shouldn't bring up hunting with lest he throw a fit about practicalities and absurdities and mental stability.

He trotted after Sam and Dean. "You two can socialize later," he said. "Let's get to Nurse Foreman now."

Sam shot Jo a helpless look.

"You find us later, Jo," Dean demanded, pointing a finger at her.

Jo nodded vigorously. For whatever reason, she was suddenly self-conscious about her flimsy white shirt and unflattering robe. She brushed back the blonde hairs on the back of her head, but Sam and Dean had already turned away.

Seeing the Winchester duo comforted Jo significantly. She'd gone into her group session with a stupid grin on her face, something Doctor Fuller took the time to point out as she sat down in the circle of patients.

"Why the smile, Joanna?" he asked.

Jo rarely spoke during session, whether in groups or not. Most of her problems revolved around hunting and it's not like that would be received well. She hadn't even spoken up about going by Jo instead of Joanna.

Characteristically, Jo shrugged off the question and blanked her face. She slouched in her chair, pushing her hands down the pockets of her robe.

"Are you sure?" Fuller pressed.

Jo nodded, not making eye contact to affirm that subject was done with.

"Alrighty, then," Fuller accepted. "How was everyone's day?"

"Fine," a shaggy-haired guy replied first, "except the murders and everything."

"Murders?" a redhead repeated shakily.

"No, no. No murders took place here," Fuller tried to reassure her.

"Of course not," Shaggy scoffed. "People are just slicing themselves up out of their own accord."

"Well, this is a psych ward," someone grumbled.

"Wendy!" Fuller reprimanded.

"It's the monster!" someone else chimed in. "The monster is killing us! Anyone one of us could be next."

Fuller tried to be soothing. "Now, Dexter, let's think about this—"

"Think about this?" Dexter exclaimed. "You think that talking about the monster will make it go away?"

Jo watched the events distantly. She did that a lot these days, even when there wasn't a conversation to draw herself out of. Distancing herself from the world was becoming more and more routine. Her hunter self might have scoffed at the conversation, or maybe even believed these people's fears and gone to look for clues. Now, she just drew in on herself and waited until she could go back to her room and do so more privately.

Why are Sam and Dean here? her hazy, inward self thought. She hadn't seen them in a while, but they weren't exactly poster boys for sanity.

She barely registered Fuller's voice rising as the monster talk escalated.

Dean wouldn't allow himself to get checked in to a mental institution, Jo decided. He would probably consider that a black mark on his dignity. Plus, there was no beer in therapy. Beer was his therapy.

And Sam actually did make a conscious effort to sort this his problems by talking them through. Plus, he was too busy saving lives or whatever. He shouldn't be in here. Neither of the Winchesters would allow themselves to get checked in based on their mental state.

Or maybe they're just stronger than me, Jo decided. She considered dismissing the thought, though. The thought of Dean outshining her in an area made her want to go out and prove the concept false.

"Let's change the subject!" Fuller proclaimed desperately. "Wendy," he said, "you get out this month, don't you?"

Wendy's features suddenly lit up. "Yes. Yes, I do, this weekend. I get to see my daughter again."

With all this monster talk, a conscious Jo would have pondered whether or not Fuller would let her out.

But Wendy would not leave the building alive.

Sam and Dean sat huddled over a table in the rec room, their voices low.

"Why is Jo here, of all places?" Dean asked Sam.

"You haven't checked your voicemail?" Sam raised an eyebrow.

"No, why?"

"Well, you know, Ellen and Jo are kind of well-known in the hunter circuit since they ran the roadhouse. It's filled up my inbox, Dean. Ellen is dead."

Dean was stunned. "Ellen?" he gasped. "Ellen Harvelle?"

"Yep," Sam nodded somberly.

"Oh, no."

"Exactly," Sam agreed. "Jo must have checked herself in here shortly after."

"What?" Dean frowned. "No, no, Jo's not grieving, Sam. I mean, she probably is, but she's not hitting wrong bottom or anything. She's Jo."

"Yeah, Jo's tough, but we all have our limits."

"We've lost plenty of people in our life," Dean pointed out. "If we can handle, so can Jo."

"Dean, when I died, you made a demon deal to get me topside again."

"And I didn't check myself into a psych ward," he pointed out.

"True," Sam nodded, "but maybe Jo's just smarter than you."

Dean looked at Sam resentfully. "But this is Jo we're talking about. She doesn't get depressed."

"She's been strong for a long time," Sam told him, "and she probably still is. Maybe she's sick of being strong, though."

Dean considered that for a moment, than Sam spoke up again.

"Oh, have you checked your missed calls, too?" he asked.

"If I haven't checked my voicemail, what makes you think—"

"Okay, okay, I don't need the attitude," Sam shushed him. "Jo called you, too. She didn't leave any messages, she just called. But you didn't pick up."

"Really? When?"

"About a week ago, a little after Ellen died."

Dean chewed over that for about four seconds. He started to think maybe he could've said something that would've kept Jo out of this place, or at least something to comfort her. Then, a bald man with far off gaze showed up to end his current thought processes.

"Sam and Dean!" Martin exclaimed. "Boy, am I glad to see you."

"Hiya, Martin," Sam greeted in that kindly, Sam way of his. He stood up to give Martin friendly hug. Dean stood to do the Sam.

"I'm so glad you came!" Martin told them.

"No trouble," Sam assured him.

"You guys are in a psych ward. Of course you went through some trouble."

Sam chuckled. "Okay, maybe a little."

"So what's the emergency?" Dean asked.

Martin's face went stoic and serious. He leaned in very close to the boys. "There's something in the ward. A monster of some sort."

"How does it kill?" Sam asked, not bothering to question whether or not to believe him.

"It makes the deaths appear to be suicides," he explained, "which is brilliant if you ask me. A suicide in a mental institution. Who would question it?"

"So a monster with some smarts," Dean said. "Do you have any idea what kind of monster it is?"

"I was thinking," Martin said, "that it's probably a wraithe."

After the group session dismissed and the monster talk dispersed, Jo went to seek out Sam and Dean. They weren't in the rec room and, after asking some attendants for room numbers, she found that they weren't in their supposed rooms.

Of course not. If Sam and Dean were here for a case, they were probably off investigating.

To prove her point, as she was making her way down the hall, she caught sight of Sam and Dean walking briskly down the hall.

"Jo!" Sam called upon sighting her. Dean's face turned toward her, his face lighting up, and they both scuttled up to her.

"Hey," she said, unsmiling.

"Hey, Jo, what are you doing here?" Dean asked.

"Why do you smell like an autopsy?" she avoided the question smoothly.

"Working a case," Dean replied. "Is . . . is that why you're here?"

Jo shook her head quickly.

"Well, would you like to help us work this one?" Sam offered. "This guy that supposedly committed suicide here, we just took a look at his body, and it looks like something sucked all the juice out of his brain and—"

"No," Jo cut her off.

Sam seemed taken aback.

"No," she repeated. "I'm not helping you hunt."

"Why not?" Dean asked. "I thought you were all hunter-extraordinaire these days."

"Yeah, well, a hunter extraordinaire probably wouldn't get her own mom killed," she said listlessly.

Dean seemed to realize suddenly that they'd touched upon something . . . touchy.

"Yeah, I heard about that," Dean said. "I'm sorry, Jo. I would've called or something if—"

"It's fine," she said bluntly. She realized how droning her voice had become. "I hope you find whatever you're hunting, I guess."

"I hope you don't mind me asking, Jo," Sam began, "but have you noticed anything strange around here?"

Jo didn't think about it much before she answered, "No. I haven't noticed much."

"Much? Meaning some things?"

"Umm . . ." she thought a tad harder, "there was some talk about monster during—"

Jo stopped. Just then, the girl from her group sessions, Wendy, came up to Dean, gripped him by the neck, and promptly began making out with him.

Sam and Jo exchanged bewildered looks, glancing back and forth between each other and the girl stuck to a stunned Dean.

During Dean's tongue workout, Jo took a moment to evaluate herself. She clearly recalled pining over Dean from afar a few years ago. She didn't remember ever stopping.

But apparently she had.

Jo felt nothing towards Wendy for her deed. She didn't feel protective, or jealous, or irritated, or even happy Dean's general attractiveness had resulted in such situations. It didn't seem to matter to her.

Then again, she noted, not much did these days.

Sam, who probably knew about her pining habits, looked confused at her lack of reaction.

"I think I'll go to my room," she told Sam. "It's next door to Wendy's here, if you want to stop by later or rush in to save me from the monster."

"I think you can handle it," Sam smiled. And he meant it warmly, but when he said it, a knot formed in Jo's throat.

Several days passed without seeing either of the Winchesters. She didn't want to interrupt their hunt. Hadn't she messed with hunts enough for her lifetime?

After group one day, Jo returned to her room, which was as private as you got in these parts, unless you're locked in solitary confinement or something. Sometimes, Jo wished for that because it made it less awkward when she screamed.

Speaking of . . .

Jo slackened her jaw and let an almost primal shriek escape her throat. She clutched her head as the sound left her, vibrating her eardrums, the force pushing her against the front wall of her room.

She had deduced a possible reason as to why she screamed so much, sometimes banging her head against the wall, sometimes the generic, self-injury stuff.

She had come up with an analogy comparing the experience to being on a roller coaster, particularly the drops. You're descending at intimidating speaks and your stomach flies into your throat and you literally think you'll die unless you succumb to whatever the feeling wants.

So, you scream, and the stomach sensation becomes tolerable, almost enjoyable.

Screaming because she felt too much was like screaming because her stomach was in her throat. Substitutes for screaming were the banging the head against the wall, the self-injury, etc. Maybe all the things she told herself she didn't feel were just storing inside herself, waiting to come out in uninhibited shrieks and self-inflicted wounds.

She didn't say as much to her shrinks, though. Sure, they would listen, and it was much more believable than her hunting tales, but she still didn't feel like saying it, as if she didn't wanted to trouble the shrinks and counselors and doctors with the comparison. It didn't make sense, but her mind didn't do that very often these days.

Eventually, her screams dissolved and she released her hands from her head. She blanked her expression, became careless, disinterested, psych clinic Jo again, and pushed herself off the wall.

Just then, her door burst open.

"Jo!" It was Dean, confusing her screaming for distress. Well, she was distressed, but not in the way Dean was assuming.

"No, it's fine," Jo assured him, and her voice did not register that she was yelling mere seconds ago.

"I heard screaming," he told her.

"I know you did."

"Why were you—?"

"It's a loony bin, Dean," Jo told him listlessly. "I was screaming because I'm crazy."

"What? No, Jo you're not—"

Dean's reassurance, which Jo was about to interrupt anyway, was interrupted by a similar scream next door.

Dean hesitated, looking to Jo for a clue.

"Wendy doesn't do that," Jo said quietly.

Dean bolted for the room next over.

As he peered into the window, he saw Wendy get pulled away from it by an unseen force, flailing and shrieking in a fashion somehow less maniacal than Jo's cry.

Dean yanked the door open, but by the time he was inside, Wendy's body lay on the bed with deep slashes across the wrists.

Sitting over her body was the nurse he'd seen when he'd met when he'd come to the institution. Some needlelike projection was protruding from her wrist.

"You're the wraithe," Dean realized, wide-eyed.

The nurse, Nurse Foreman, if he remembered correctly, licked her spindly projection as if licking a plate clean, then retracted it back into her arm, giving Dean a sassy wink. Then, she proceeded the hop off the bed, make her features contort into a look of sheer terror, and scream.

Jo appeared beside Dean as she let out the roar. She took a look a Wendy's dead body, then, kind of absentmindedly, started clinging to Dean's shirt, sucking in a sharp breath.

Jo had seen dead bodies plenty, and Dean knew then. At Jo's reaction, Dean put an arm on her shoulder. "You okay, Jo?"

"She was a mom," she murmured. "She was supposed to see her daughter this weekend."

"I'm sorry, Jo. The monster just—"

"Oh, no," she barely whispered.

Dean understood the connection. Jo had a dead mother killed by a mother. Wendy was a dead mother killed by a monster.

"I'm sorry, Jo," Dean told her comfortingly. "I'm sorry. But we have some new information now. We can get this thing and kill it."

Jo suddenly shoved Dean away. "What have you been doing all this time?" she shrieked at him. Dean was startled. She had barely showed any emotion since they'd found her here, and now she was overreacting completely. "Why couldn't you save her?"

"I don't mean any disrespect, Jo," Dean began, "but we've been doing a lot more than you have."

Jo's face slackened and tears came to her eyes. "You're right," she said. "I should've done something."

Her moodiness started to concern Dean. "Jo, I'm not blaming you."

"I could've done something this whole time," she said, as if not hearing him, and she began to cry. "Instead I sit here and wallow."

"We all have our breaking points, Jo."

Just then, Doctor Fuller came rushing in, pushing through the crowd that had gathered. "What happened?"

Nurse Foreman spoke up, cracking her voice with sobs. "I came in to give her meds and I found her like this!" she cried.

"What?" Jo exclaimed.

Dean tried to hold her off. "Jo, not now," she whispered in her ear, taking her by the shoulders.

Doctor Fuller turned to her. "What is it, Joanna?" he asked.

"It wasn't a suicide," Jo said determinedly.

"Jo, this isn't the time," Dean said more forcefully.

But Jo fled his grasp, approaching the doctor. "It was the monster. I . . . I think it's a wraithe. It's responsible for this. It took Wendy away . . . from her daughter."

Doctor Fuller rolled his eyes. "Joanna, I assure you, there's no such thing as—"

"No!" Jo cried. "No, do something! Do something about this!"

"Jo, we're trying," she hears gruffly from behind her.

But Jo is impervious to reason right now. She starts up shrieking again as people, doctors and nurses and patients alike, try to hold her down.

And, somewhere deep inside herself, she knows she shouldn't. She was supposed to save her screaming for her in-room yell sessions. But apparently, it's hard to keep your two selves separate.

Her careless self fades and gave way to her mentally unstable self, which was kind of expected. The surprise was the appearance of her hunter self, which came out at a completely untimely opportunity.

As more people clawed at Jo, she went off on them. The first victim was the poor guy who'd grabbed at her shoulder. She thrust back her elbow and caught him the nose. The hands on her shoulder drew back abruptly. Her other elbow went back and caught a women in the forehead, who cried in pain. Jo spun her body around and brought her lower body into the mix, the hunter in her returning vigorously. She brought up her foot and rammed into the stronger of her observers.

"Jo!" she heard faintly in Dean's voice. But she ignored it and kept aiming her fists at people in her fury.

Soon, Sam came rushing in, shoving through the gathered crowd.

"Dean, what happened?" he asked fretfully.

"She saw the dead chick that slobbered on the both of us, mentioned something about her daughter, and flipped out!" he informed him.

"Duh. Mom thing."

"Yes, I understand the motives, Sam."

"Are you going to stop her?" Sam speculated.

"Are you asking me to beat up a girl?"

"You don't have to beat her up to incapacitate her, Dean," Sam rolled her eyes.

Dean gave Jo's flailing body and pointed look.

"Just be careful," Sam shrugged.

"Why don't you do it?" Dean accused.

"I'm kind of large," he said. "I might squish her."

Dean rolled his eyes at the sorry excuses. Sam just didn't want to risk hitting a girl either.

Regardless, Dean charged into the current mess of Jo's existence. As expected, Jo turned to him, as if blindly, and sent an arm to chop down onto his shoulder. Dean caught it firmly, going into a hunter mode of his own. Jo gasped at the sudden resistance, and then looked into Dean's face. For a moment, her violence ceased. Her expression, staring into Dean's eyes, seemed desperate, almost pathetic, and Dean half expected her to collapse against him into a pool of tears as she confessed everything that was bothering her.

Instead, the expression faded, and she brought her other hand up to slap Dean across the face.

Dean reacted quickly, even with his face momentarily forced away. She caught her other wrist before she could bring it up against and held them up on opposite sides of her.

"Let go of me!" she shrieked, starting to use her other body parts as weapons.

Dean, as gently as he could manage, pushed Jo against the wall in attempt to hold her down. He pressed his body into her a little, because hey, he only had two hands.

"Dean!" she cried.

"Jo," he whispered harshly, close to her face, "if you keep acting like this, they might hole you up somewhere."

"Let them," she screamed at him.

Jo struggled and strained against Dean's body.

"Jo," Dean said quietly, "please."

Jo, tiring out for a moment, went slightly limp, her blonde hair crowding her face. Breathing heavily, she was able to look through her hair at Dean. She noted the desperation in his eyes, willing her to be okay again.

As she observed Dean's mental state as compared to her own, she noticed a nurse scurrying up to her with a syringe.

"Hey, hey, she'd good now!" Dean tried to tell them. "That's not necessary."

Jo felt a sharp twinge on the side of her neck. She whimpered quietly, and the last thing she registered before she went unconscious was Dean trying to catch her crumpled body as she fell.

Jo blinked the drowsiness from her eyes slowly. She wasn't sure what to expect when she regained her focus.

Turns out, she was in what she described as solitary confinement.

Well, it depended what you called "solitary confinement." There seemed to be no other humans around and she was in a room. That was pretty solitary. There were no strait jackets or wall padding involved. Rather, a bed and a chair and door all a dreary light grey. It was more like a prison then solitary confinement, but, now that she thought about it, so was her room.

As she sat up on the bed, the door opened. It was the Nurse who had assumed Wendy committed suicide, Nurse

"Hey, darling," she smiled warmly.

"How long was I out?" Jo wondered aloud.

"A while," she answered vaguely. "You're probably pretty confused, huh?"

"Not really," Jo admitted, and her voice indicated she was listless Jo again. "I showed signs of violence, so they stuck me in here for everyone's safety."

"That's about right," Nurse Foreman nodded. "It's not lockdown. It's temporary. Just until we think you're ready to leave."

As she spoke, she eyed Jo in a nerve-racking way, making her feel like something to eat instead of a mental patient.

"Yeah, okay," Jo nodded.

The nurse gave a final patronizing small before leaving the room, closing the door behind her. Jo leaned against the wall for about four seconds before her hand went into her robe pocket.

Razor blades in this place were kind of like drugs in an upper-middle-class high school. We weren't supposed to have them for the purposes we did, but it was common knowledge that they were passed around.

After retrieving the blade, Jo held it with two fingers like one would with a cigarette and pulled up the robe's sleeve, revealing her pale forearm. Four thin lines were there, slashing across her forearm in nasty looking cuts.

Much like her mom's arm had looked.

Perhaps her careless, disinterested persona was actually the most affected and emotional of them all. That was usually the type of Jo she was when she was doing this sort of thing or right before she went into a fit of screaming.

She retraced the topmost cut with the blade, and it shined red again. It was a spectacle to watch. She knew why it made her feel better, but she didn't want to share that with a shrink or with anyone, because when it was said aloud, it was stupid and didn't make any sense, and maybe it didn't, but that didn't change how it made her feel.

As pulled the blade up, she was suddenly aware of a clicking noise at the door.

Someone was picking at the lock.

A second later, Dean triumphantly shoved the door open and barged inside.

"Jo!" he said urgently. "The wraithe. It's the nurse that— What are you doing?"

"I'm making coffee," she replied in her monotone without looking up at him. "Did you want some?"

"Jo," he said carefully on seeing the bloodied wrist, as if talking to someone about to explode. "Jo . . . what's going on?"

"Well, what does it look like?" Jo challenged, pulling the sleeve down and staining its inside with blood. She shoved her shame away and tried to deflect Dean's concern with attitude.

"Jo, don't think we're done talking about this," he warned, pointing his finger at her, "but there's a wraithe here. And it's Nurse Foreman."

"Yeah, I think she's assigned to look after me in here," Jo told him.

"What?" he frowned. "Jo, then come with me."

Jo crossed her legs. "No. I told you, Dean, I don't want to hunt."

"Okay, fine," he conceded, "but you should still get out of here as fast you can to avoid a monster that sucks brains dry."

Jo stared up at him, and the scrutiny began to make him uncomfortable. "No, thanks," she replied.

"Jo, if you don't want to hunt, then get out of here. Sam can drive you somewhere safer."

"I'm fine," she spat, but of course, that was far from the truth.

"No, you're not," Dean said pointedly. "I know you're not. But neither is Sam, and neither am I, but we deal with it. But not my slicing our hands off or screaming bloody murder."

A wave of defensiveness welled up inside Jo. "Oh, yeah. You deal with it," she scoffed, and her usual drone was heightened by a touch of attitude. "Be honest with yourself, Dean. Sam yells and punches at people and monsters and you drink like a maniac. Sam takes it out on others, you take it out on your liver, and so why is suddenly a concern if I take it out on myself?"

"You don't think I'm concerned about, Sam?" Dean said, his voice rising, unconsciously stepping closer to Jo. "You don't think Sam's concerned about me drinking enough to fill Lake Michigan?"

"No," Jo admitted, her voice escalating in response. "You're concerned about killing the bad guy and saving the day, not yourselves. And you think you're being selfless, probably, but you boys have no idea what you're doing. Sure, you've got some good somewhere in you. But Sam kills things because he wants to get mad and you drink because you want to feel good for a while. You're selfish."

The comments seemed to roll of his back, but it's not like Dean showed many feelings. He suddenly reminded Jo very much of herself in her listless state.

"You seem to speak from experience, Jo," Dean noted.

"Shut up!" she exclaimed, getting up off her cot and walking away, hoping that turning away from him would eventually get him to leave.

But he continued, talking at her back. "Listen, Jo," he said brusquely, "if my instincts are right, I think you want the wraithe to do her thing to you. You don't care anymore, do you, Jo? You want to stop feeling selfish and lonely and like you're not doing any good in the world."

"What do you care?" she snapped. He'd hit to close to home for her liking.

"That is not the Jo I knew," Dean said, beginning to approach her again. "The Jo I knew would never have accepted an easy death. The Jo I knew would choose nothing less than going down fighting and not giving up until she was bloody mass on the floor who couldn't find the strength for a final punch."

Jo turned back to Dean. "Am I really any more than that now?" she exclaimed.

"Yes," Dean replied without hesitation. "The Jo I knew is a lot of things, but she was not weak."

"This does not make me weak!" Jo protested, a crack breaking into her voice.

"Maybe not," Dean admitted, "but getting past it would make you strong, which was one of the most beautiful things about the Jo that I knew."

"Maybe she's gone!" Jo suggested desperately. "People change!"

"You did not die along with your mother, Jo."

At the mention, a small sob broke from Jo's lips. She brought her hands up to her mouth, as if trying to erase evidence.

"Slicing at yourself and screaming your head off will not change that. That'll change you, Jo."

Jo began shaking her head back and forth, but couldn't seem to bring herself to turn her body away from him.

Dean closed the gap between them, placing his hands gently on her shoulders. At his touch, her eyebrows wrinkled, trying to remain careless Jo, because that was a much easier person to be.

"You wanna know more about the Jo I know?" Dean said, quieting his voice. "She doesn't use blades to slit her wrists. He uses her dad's knife to stab things that threaten people. She doesn't pretend not to care about what's going on. She gives me a piece of her mind whenever she feels like it. She doesn't let people who think they know what they're talking about lock her with a bunch of psychos. She hits the road and trails other psychos as they try to kill monsters."

Maybe it was the shift into present tense that finally brought Jo to tears. Not even the Jo Dean used to know would have done this normally, but she suddenly felt like it would comfort her. She leaned into Dean, and he hugged her too her chest.

Dean continued to talk to her, resting his chin on her forehead and moving his hand up and down her back. "You still have your dad's knife, don't you?" he assumed. "You didn't dare take that thing to your wrist."

She nodded against him.

"Look, I know everything pile's up sometimes," he said. "The lifestyle doesn't advocate sanity, but Jo, you wanted to hunt so badly. And if you'll remember, I let you. You ending up here . . . Jo, don't make me regret it, okay? I love you too much to ever want you to—"

"Hey, princess," a muffled voice called up to him, "this isn't about you right now."

A smile broke Dean's face at the return of Jo's sarcastic vivacity.

Jo pulled back from him and started to bring a hand to her face, but Dean wiped her tears away for her. She scoffed at the action, but didn't reject it.

"You know, something else about the Jo I know," he added as she rubbed his thumb across her cheek, "I'd think she'd want to do the honors in taking out this wraithe." Dean pulled a knife from his shoe, silver for wraithe-killing purposes, and held it out to Jo.

Jo wasn't better yet. That kind of thing takes more than an emotional speech from someone else who also has a long way to go before they're stable. But there was a five-step or three-step or however-many step program out there somewhere that she'd heard about on TV. One of the steps to overcoming a problem was acceptance. She'd accepted she was in a bad place a while ago. Only now had she accepted that she should—that wanted to –get out of it.

Jo took the knife from Dean, and they knew it symbolized something.

"And what was that thing about loving me, again?"

Dean's face fell. "Ahh . . ."

Just then, Nurse Foreman, the wraithe, entered the room.

"You're not allowed in here, baby," she told Dean with a sickly sweet smile.

Jo took a deep breath, then lifted the knife, finding that her arm muscles worked like they used to.

"That makes two of you," she said. Then she charged the wraithe with the knife, proving to Dean and herself that she still had it in her.

All of Jo's personalities merged together—listless Jo, emotionally wrecked Jo, stable Jo—and they became, once again, the Jo that Dean knew.

To much cheese at the end, or...? Ehh.

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