Hey. I don't know who owns SPN. Kripke? Eh. This is a thing. A little thing. Not beta'd. Sorry? ;)


Better

The bottle in his hand had become inexplicably empty again. He wasn't sure how it happened, but he could have probably taken a guess. It would have been no surprise to anyone that he'd turned to drinking his sorrows away. That was, after all, the way Dean always handled hard times. It was how his father had handled it, and Dean learned from the best.

Sometimes he wished things had turned out differently. Maybe he just stayed with Lisa and Ben. Maybe he went back to Cassie. She understood. She knew what he did. But that never happened. Lisa and Ben didn't even know who he was, and he'd lost touch with Cassie a long time ago.

The truth was, Dean had never met a woman that made him want to stop hunting, to stop doing the jobs that put his life in danger. Well, that wasn't exactly true. There was one person that he would have given it all up for. The one girl, who he would settle down with, quit the monsters and the drinking for.

The ironic thing was – he wouldn't actually have to quit for her. It was her life too.

Dean closed his eyes and pictured the last time he'd seen her- the last time he'd seen Jo's ghost to be more exact. She was just a ploy used by Osiris, but it had hit Dean harder than he let on. Seeing the explosion, watching her and Ellen die, regretting that he never took the time to get to know her better…it all sat in the back of his mind every single day.

After a moment of feeling sorry for himself, Dean finally lifted himself from the ratty motel chair and crossed the room to the door. He didn't know where he was going, but anywhere had to be better than sitting around feeling sorry for himself. Sam was out there somewhere, and Cas, too. Dean knew that neither one of them wanted to see him at the moment though. After everything that had happened with the angels…Dean wasn't really ready to see them either.

He'd made it halfway to the door before something stopped him dead in his tracks.

Dead being the operative word, here.

"Hello, Dean." Her voice was soft, just a whisper that was full of warmth and hope. It caused him to close his eyes and swallow hard before turning to face her.

"You're not here to kill me again, are you?" Dean asked with a soft smile.

"No, not this time," she answered and held out her hand. "Let's go."

He took her hand without question, feeling warmth bathe his skin like he had stepped into the sunlight. The truth was that Dean hadn't felt the sunlight in quite some time.

"Don't you even want to know where we're going?" Jo asked, smiling slightly.

"I don't care," Dean managed to answer, afraid that if he opened his mouth too much everything would come out at once and none of it would make sense.

"Close your eyes, then," she instructed. He did as he was told, and felt a warm breeze ruffle his hair. "You can open them now," Jo whispered as she dropped his hand.

He opened them and blinked quickly before shielding his eyes from the bright sun to take in his surroundings: a sprawling front yard, a quaint little farmhouse, and a bright red barn. It was like something out of a cheesy painting you saw in hotels or something. Jo smiled and pulled his hand away from his eyes, making his scowl at her, which only made her laugh.

"Trust me; you're going to want to see all of this."

Dean didn't respond. He just focused on the way her mouth moved while she talked and the idea of how very alive she looked. When he finally opened his mouth to speak, he was caught off guard again. Two little girls came sprinting full force around the side of the barn, their matching long blonde hair flying behind them. Dean jumped at the sight of them, but Jo put a hand on his arm.

"They can't see you," she murmured.

Dean nodded, and continued to watch the girls as they neared him.

"No, Ellie. I don't want to play that game. Daddy says there are no more monsters, anyways," the smaller girl said with a roll of her eyes.

"Yeah, but there used to be. Him and Mommy used to fight them. Don't you remember the stories, Mary?"

Mary rolled her eyes again and stomped away, her little boots kicking up dust as she did. Dean smiled as unfamiliar warmth spread through his chest. He wasn't sure why he was feeling such a strange surge of affection for a little girl he'd never even met.

The older girl followed her sister, and soon enough Dean didn't have to wonder why that feeling continued to spread across his chest. He followed the girls at almost a run until the sight before him nearly brought him to his knees.

It was Jo. But not the same Jo that was standing next to him. This Jo was alive, older, different, and even more beautiful than he could ever have imagined.

"Mommy! Ellie is telling scary stories again!" Mary cried as she threw herself into her mother's arms. Jo simply smiled and held her daughter close.

"There's nothing to be afraid of, Mary. Not anymore," she whispered quietly, with a meaningful look at her older daughter.

"No monsters?" Dean said quietly and Jo shook her head beside him.

"No monsters," she answered.

"So, if these are your daughters, then…" He trailed off, cocking his eyebrow at her. If she were alive, Jo would have blushed.

"Whose do you think, you idiot?" Jo rolled her eyes and punched him in the shoulder.

"Ow," Dean muttered, rubbing at the spot. Then, a grin slowly spread across his face. "You finally gave in, huh?"

"Do you want to see this or not?"

Dean sighed. "I'm not really sure anymore."

"There." She nodded toward the road leading toward the house, and the beat up pick-up truck that was coming down the drive.

He watched as the truck stopped and quickly read the side of it: Winchester's Garage. Then it got weird as Dean watched himself get out of the truck. Like Jo, he was older and more mature looking, clean-shaven and dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt. The warmth in Dean's chest turned cold though, as he watched this version himself green Jo, Ellie, and sweet little Mary, because he realized that none of it could ever be.

"Why are we here?" He asked angrily, as he turned away from the happy scene.

"Because you deserved better, Dean. We deserved better," Jo cried, just as frustrated.

"Who sent you?" Dean turned quickly and grabbed her by the arms, but she moved quickly from his grasp. Even in death, Jo was a warrior.

"I don't know! I don't know why I ended up in the stupid hotel room, but I just…had this feeling that you should know this, too. I come here and watch them sometimes. It's so stupid and I can't help it, but to think that we got to live that way- that we had a chance, Dean, I-"

She didn't get a chance to finish, because Dean had wrapped her up in his arms and silenced her with his mouth. He kissed her hard, trying to tell her so many things with just the simple gesture. That he was sorry. That she deserved better. And that she would always be a part of him.

When Dean opened his eyes again the sprawling lawn and house were gone. The little family wasn't there anymore. Dean was empty again. He pushed away from Jo, from her warmth and hope, and tried to see her for what she really was.

He couldn't, though. Because to Dean, Jo would always stand for hope and warmth and home: a home that he never had, and never would have.

"Please don't come back again," he whispered. If Jo were hurt, she didn't show it. She just nodded stoically and disappeared before Dean's eyes.

He signed, rubbing a hand over his scruffy face and falling backwards onto the bed. A moment later he closed his eyes, and let his mind drift back to that scene that was still so incredibly vivid.

Maybe Jo was right. Maybe they both deserved better. And maybe it wasn't too bad to pretend, just for a little while.