Author's Note: Goodness gracious, I honestly hadn't planned on taking this long to get the sequel to "Moving Forward" up! This story kicked my butt and really put me through the paces. I apologize for the long delay and I hope this piece is worth the wait. Please note that this story deals with a suicide attempt. If this bothers you in anyway, please do not read. Please enjoy!
"And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck."
—Mumford&Sons, "The Cave"
His gaze is blank and focused on the dark corner of her house. She frowns slightly, wondering what exactly she should do. Ever since she had brought the youngest Winchester back from the jail, he had been silent. He wouldn't—perhaps couldn't—answer any of her questions, which left Jody more than a bit of detective work to do to figure out what exactly happened. She had the local hospital under strict orders to call her if either of the victims of the bar fight Sam got into woke up and while she was going to convince them not to press charges, she also wanted to know what had caused the usually calmer Winchester to snap.
"Sam?" She tries again, cautiously coming to sit on the couch beside him. His eyes flicker with something—recognition, fear?—but he refuses to meet her gaze.
"It wasn't hot, you know." He starts almost conversationally.
"What wasn't hot?" She leans in, wondering if he's finally snapping out of it.
"Hell." He replies calmly and a shiver runs down Jody's spine.
"Hell?" She echoes, the word foreign on her tongue. She knew a bit of what had occurred to Sam and Dean from Bobby, but last time she checked, neither boys had visited the underworld before.
"Sure, it's hot on the upper levels," He plows on, as if she had never spoken. "But in the Cage? With Lucifer? There's ice everywhere." As if on cue, he wraps his long arms around him, shaking as if he's in the middle of the Arctic without any snow gear on. "He and Michael would work together sometimes. Lucifer would freeze me only for Michael to set me on fire." He laughs dryly and dread settles in the sheriff's stomach like a rock. "So much blood, so much pain . . ." He shakes his head sadly and the mother in her takes over. She pulls the clearly in pain man to her side and wraps her arms around him, squeezing him softly.
"Sam, I don't know what happened to you," Understatement of the year. "But you're with me now. It's okay. You're free."
"That's what Dean said too," His skin is ice and Jody rubs her hands on his arms in the hopes of generating some friction to warm him up. "But now he's dead."
"He's . . . what?" She chokes, the air rushing from her lungs. Her vision swims before her and it's like losing her son all over again. Why? Why did this always happen? Why did people just come into her life just for them to leave abruptly and fracture her heart in the process?
"Dead." Sam repeats slowly, treating her like a child.
"How do you know—?"
"I killed him."
Jody doesn't even have time to process that before Sam bursts into tears.
Dean is dead.
She doesn't want to believe it, but Sam's reaction shows all the signs of grief. The anger in the bar could've been motivated by losing his brother. But why would Sam kill Dean? And was Bobby also gone as well? She does her best to remain calm; to stay objective, but her heart has other ideas. Bobby, Sam and Dean—she viewed them as if they were her family. Here, she was though, losing her reason to fight for all over again. After she lost her son . . . she had been in a fragile place and her life could've ended in those few weeks after she had buried her son yet again. She had been ready to put her gun to her head and join her family.
It was Bobby, Sam and Dean who stopped her, who gave her something else to hold onto. At the time, she had no idea what they were doing, but looking back on it now—Bobby's random visits to come and check on the wards he had placed on her house, Sam and Dean popping by to fix up her place, the three of them coming over for dinner—those visits were what saved her.
If Sam had killed Dean, if he had killed Bobby—she knew this would be the end for her. There was so only so long you could keep fighting for, only so long that you could hold onto hope before you let yourself go.
"Jody?" Sam stands in the doorway, his eyes red rimmed.
"Why'd you kill him, Sam?" Behind every murder, there was always a motive. Find the motive, you can piece the rest of the case together. She had to be a sheriff right now, not a grieving widow and mother. She owed Dean and Bobby that much.
"I thought it was Lucifer," He whispers, voice cracking. "I didn't know who it was until Lucifer showed me."
"The Devil showed you?" She repeats, trying to make sense of this.
"He's always been here," Sam taps his mind and smiles painfully. "None of this is real though, Jody," He adds, brightening somewhat. "I'm still in the Cage. Dean is out there with Lisa. Bobby is helping out hunters and you . . ." He hesitates.
"And me?" She insists.
"You're happy, Jody." He tells her with such conviction in her voice that she almost believes him. "I know you are." She shakes her head, and then sobers slightly.
"Take me to where Dean is Sam." She orders, grabbing her car keys. She's numb inside, her body refusing to allow the well-known grief to course through her veins until after she sees the proof. He grimaces, shaking his head. "Please, Sam." She's not above begging but she figures it won't come to that. "He deserves a hunter's funeral." That sparks something in the youngest Winchester and he nods his head. In a few seconds, he's outside and Jody can hear the faint slamming of a car door.
Taking a deep breath, she gathers her courage and then heads out after him.
There's no body.
There's no blood, no signs of a struggle, nothing to indicate that anything happened in this abandoned house. Jody doesn't know whether to be relieved or worried since there is still no trace of Bobby or Dean. She turns to Sam, who seems perplexed by the whole ordeal.
"This isn't . . . I killed him," He splutters, kneeling down and touching the wooden floor. "I saw his body, Jody." She has no doubts that he did, but whatever is going on in Sam's head is clearly messing with his memory.
"You didn't hurt him," She breathes, the news finally sinking in. Thank God, she still has her family. She could still go on, she could keep fighting. She would make it after all. Renewed by this, she walks over to Sam and places a strong hand on his shoulder. "We'll find him. Bobby too."
"Jody, I—" He stops abruptly, eyes widening, pupils nearly engulfing his irises. She follows his gaze, but finds nothing in the dark corner. Sam presses a finger onto his hand, hard enough to draw blood.
"Sam, stop—!" She tugs on his arm, but it's like iron.
"Not real, not real, not real," He repeats, like broken record. "I'm out, I'm out, I'm out." The blood flows thicker now, but Jody knows that whatever is going on isn't going to stop until she figures out a way to snap Sam out of it. She stands in the corner, blocking his vision. His eyes dart at her for a second.
"Sam, listen to me," She soothes, palms outward and outstretched in a comforting motion. She trails his gaze as it quickly moves from her, to the corner, than back to her again. "Sam! Eyes on me." He finally focuses on her. "Whatever you're seeing, it's not real. I need you to come back, okay? I can't find Dean or Bobby without you, understand?" A moment of indecision runs on his face and seizing her chance, she grabs his clean hand and holds it within hers. "Please, Sam, snap out of it." Slowly, but surely, Sam regains control of himself. His hazel eyes soon go back to normal and he lets out a shaky breath.
"Sam?" She waits patiently.
"I remember where they are."
They don't waste a moment in going back to the car.
She finds both Dean and Bobby slumped over the kitchen table at Bobby's place. Checking her pulse, she's relieved to see that they're both okay, but neither one is waking up.
"Fairy magic," Sam states calmly, the youngest Winchester breathing deeply and slowly, as if he's fighting for control. "We pissed off one at that abandoned house and it followed us here."
"And then?" She presses for more info as she checks both Bobby and Dean's pupils. They're normal; it's as if they just fell asleep.
"She got Bobby first," He informs her. "Dean and I tried to get her," He points to the discarded iron fire pokers on the ground. "But she got Dean and right when she was about to get me, she got scared."
"Scared?" Jody reiterates, slightly perplexed. This fairy didn't sound like the one who would run from a fight. Sam wearily smiles and it breaks Jody's heart in two to see the sheer pain evident in his eyes.
"She knew better than to mess with the Devil's chosen vessel." He answers cryptically and the sheriff decides to let the matter go for now and focus on getting Bobby and Dean back up to the strength.
"How do we reverse this then?"
"We can't. Their pulses will just get weaker until their heart stops." He states frankly.
"What do you mean we can't? There must be a way—!" She didn't come this far just to lose them now! Sam shakes his head, but he's not as sad as she would've expected him to be.
"Fairy magic can only be undone by the fairy that cast it or the death of said fairy," He recites dutifully. "But since she ran away, there's no way we can track her."
"So, what?" Jody snaps angrily. "You're just going to give up?"
"Of course not," He replies and he moves towards a cabinet by the living room. She doesn't see what he has until the metal barrel is pressed up against his temple. "I'm going to end this."
"Sam—" She can feel the adrenalin in her veins, her heart pumping, ready for her to stop this, to save Sam, to finally keep someone she cares about alive, but she has to be careful. One false move and he could pull the trigger.
"It's okay, Jody," He assures her, grin on his lips. "You're not real, anyways. Dean and Bobby are safe. You are too."
"I promise you," He continues, fingering tightening ever so slightly on the trigger. "Everything is going to be okay."
"Sam, wait!" He hesitates and she seizes this as her opening. "Kill me." This takes him completely off guard and he lowers the gun a bit.
"Kill me." She orders. "I don't want to be trapped in a world like this."
"But, Jody—" He's doubting himself now and it takes all of Jody's strength to keep from beaming. She's going to finally save someone. It's going to be okay, she knows that now.
"If none of this is real, then what harm will it do?" For a second, he shakily aims the gun at her and she wonders for a brief second if he will actually pull the trigger. She can dodge it and disarm him, but she needs him to be the one to put the gun down. Otherwise, what's to stop him from doing this again?
"Jody, I don't . . ." He's at war with himself and with whatever force is in his mind.
"Put the gun down," She orders softly. "We'll figure a way out of this."
"Promise?" He sounds like a toddler, demanding sanctuary from the monsters in the closest.
"I promise." And damn it all if she doesn't believe it too.
He puts the gun down.
Thanks to Bobby's countless books, Sam manages to find a binding spell and summons the fairy back. Jody is taken away by how beautiful the ethereal creature is with her midnight sky wings with what looks to be like dew adorning them. Her moss dress hugs her body in all the right places and the rose crown that sits upon her mane of chestnut brown hair makes Jody why more people haven't wandered off trying to search for fairies before. Upon seeing Sam, the fairy mutters something and tries to press herself as far back as the binding circle will allow her.
"Undo your spell." Sam growls and the fairy yelps before nodding her head furiously. Without another word, she waves her hands and golden dust pours over Dean and Bobby. Within a few seconds, both hunters are stirring and Jody rushes to their sides, relief evident in her face. "Never mess with humans again." She nods her consent, her fear of Sam clearly a strong motivator.
The fairy vanishes in a puff of smoke.
"They're waking up." Jody informs him and Sam shakily sighs, running a hand through his hair.
"S'm?" Dean slurs and she helps him sit up as awareness starts to make its way through him.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, Dean." Jody quips, beyond thrilled that her boys—her family—is still okay.
"Jody?" Bobby mumbles, rubbing his eyes. "What the hell is going on here?" Tears glisten in Sam's eyes and she can imagine what a relief this is for him, after he thought he had killed them. She can't convey how happy she is either, the sheer joy at no longer being alone consuming her whole.
"Sammy?" Dean only has eyes for his little brother and when Sam's knees buckle, the eldest Winchester is up and out of the chair and by his brother's side. "You okay? Just take it easy." Noticing the dried blood on Sam's palm, his face flashes with anger and Jody realizes that this isn't the first time that the youngest Winchester's gone MIA in his mind before. The anger melts away to a tenderness that Jody has rarely seen on Dean's expression before. With a strong arm, he tugs his brother's fallen form towards him and rests his chin on his younger sibling's head. Then, ever so quietly, he whispers, "I've got you, Sammy. You're okay."
And for the first time since this whole ordeal began, she believes it.
"Here." Bobby places a mug of steaming coffee before her and she nods her thanks before taking a measured sip, letting the warm liquid wash away the last remnants of her fear, worry and stress. He takes a seat next to her, his eyes carefully studying her. "How you holding up?"
"Bullshit." She chuckles a bit, staring at her reflection in the black depths of the mug. Bobby could always call her out when she was lying, that was one of the qualities that she liked best about him.
"I'm glad you're all okay," She admits softly, tucking a strand of her errant hair behind her ear. "The boys?"
"Dean is looking after Sam." The gruff hunter replies and Jody grins. "You bailed him out of jail?"
"I pulled some strings." She answers and takes another sip of her coffee, relishing the calm that the coffee brought to her nerves after such a long night.
"We're lucky to have you, sheriff." She shakes her head violently, placing the white mug on the dining room table.
"No," She insists. "I'm the lucky one. You, Dean, and Sam are family." Bobby's lips twitched up ever so slightly and she suppressed a chuckle. Leave it the older hunter to refuse to smile. He had an image to maintain, after all. "Bobby?"
"Hmm?" She hesitates ever so slightly, wondering if she really wants to know the truth, if it's any of her business.
"Sam kept talking about Lucifer and the Cage?" Bobby stiffens and she instantly wants to backtrack because she knows that the information that he's about to reveal is bad and she isn't sure if she can handle hearing about this.
"Sam, he, uh," Bobby shifts in his seat, uncomfortable. "Well, this is the price he pays for saving the world." He seems content to leave it at that and she's, for now, okay with that explanation.
"He'll be okay, though?" She presses for she needs to know, needs to have that certainty.
"You know Sam," Bobby starts, his eyes lighting up with relief. "He'll bounce back."
They sit there, letting the silence take them away—away from worries over Sam, away from fears of the future. Together, they offer solidarity and Jody knows that they will overcome this momentary stumbling block. Sam will get better—she has to believe that or she'll lose it—and she'll always look out for them.
Dean stands in the doorway and she rises from the chair quickly.
"Talk to you for a minute?"
"Of course." She crosses around the older hunter seated in the chair and before she could even regret it, presses a chaste kiss onto his cheek. "Thanks, Bobby." Seeing Dean's wild grin, she playfully punches him on the shoulder and the two of them head into the living room.
"I wanted to thank you—"
"No need," She waves off his gratitude. "Really, after everything you two have done for me, it's the least I could do." Dean places his hands in his jeans' pockets; clearly still unable to vocalize what he is thinking. "Dean?"
"Sam's mind," He coughs, trying to gather his thoughts. "It's pretty fucked up right now. I would tell you why, but that's Sam's story and I'm sure once he wakes up and is better again, he'll want to tell you." She nods, waiting to see if he has any more to say. "But for everything you did tonight Jody, we owe you one."
"Okay?" He mumbles, somewhat skeptically.
"I do have a garage door that needs to be repaired." She smiles, almost mischievously and judging by the sheer relief that radiates from Dean's form, she knows it was the right thing to say.
"You got it." She moves towards the staircase, exhaustion finally catching up with her.
"I'm going to get some sleep. See you in the morning?" Dean grins.
"We'll be here." He assures her.
"Okay, good night then."
The next morning, she wakes up to find the boys making pancakes—well, Dean is, Sam looks like he's been exiled to the table—and as she takes her seat at the table, she tries in vain to keep a big, dopey grin off her face.
"Morning, Jody." Sam murmurs, his eyes slightly downcast. He's nervous about seeing her, she realizes, and without another thought, she reaches forward and grabs his hand and holds it within her own. This action always used to reassure her own son and seeing the way Sam's shoulders slump at the physical contact, she figures that it's having the same effect on the youngest Winchester.
"Good morning, Sam."
"Pancakes?" She nods and Dean places a huge stack before her. "Bobby, breakfast!"
"I hear you," Bobby grumbles, shuffling in from the living room. "Didn't know you were a regular Betty Crocker Dean." Sam smirks and Dean sighs dramatically before placing a stack before Bobby and then Sam.
"Just shut up and eat, old man." Jody laughs at that and it's almost like the events of last night were just a twisted dream. Sam's laughing, Dean's smiling, and even Bobby is relaxed—could she have really gone through that whole ordeal? Was it even possible?
As they sit there, eating their pancakes, teasing each other, laughing, Jody begins to feel hope again for the first time in months. Here was her reason to keep fighting—back together and happy again. She could protect them, she could keep them safe.
"Jody?" She puts down her fork and glances at Bobby.
"Lost in thought?" He questions.
"Yeah, just a bit." He smirks and she goes back to eating.
This is her new family. It's got secrets, it's broken and barely patched back together, but it's hers. She would die to protect it, she would break every law known to man if it meant keeping these three men alive. This was her choice and she was okay living with it.
And when she finally leaves later that day and is hugged by each man, she knows she's made the right choice.
After all, like she had been taught, family didn't just end with blood.
Author's Note: I might have one more story in mind following this one, but we'll see if it comes about. Anyways, I'd love to know what you thought. Please review if you have a second! Thanks.