Character/Pairing: Characters in this chapter are Jo and Sam. (not as a pairing) Mentions of Jo/Dean feelings, future Jo/Dean in later chapters.
Genre: Drama, Action
Author's note: SPOILERS through the Season 8 Finale. I repeat, do not read if you haven't seen and don't want to be spoiled. Summary is under the cut because even the summary is spoilery. Title courtesy of a Beatles song.
Summary: With Dean and Cas missing and Meg and Kevin taken prisoner by Crowley, Sam sets out to find out what happened to his brother and Cas and get the two of them back. Along the way, he runs into a dearly departed friend.
To the long, winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago
It had been months since the showdown with Dick. Months that Sam had spent chasing down every possibly lead on what might have happened to Dean and Cas. He knew that they needed to find a way to rescue Kevin too. He felt pangs of guilt whenever he thought about the prophet, who had simply been an innocent kid shoved into a crappy situation because of their actions. But when it came down to it, family came first. That was how it always was with the Winchesters.
First priority was to get Dean back and then they could figure out how to clean up the mess they'd made of Kevin's life.
It wasn't the first time that Sam had been left on his own. But that didn't mean that it was any easier this time around.
The search for a psychic that might be able to help find Dean and Cas had led Sam to New Orleans.
That was where he found her.
He'd just finished the first meeting with the psychic, a woman by the name of Destiny (of all things.) She'd given him enough of a picture to confirm his suspicions about exactly where Dean and Cas had ended up.
His head full of what he was up against, Sam had walked right by the alley and ignored the wild barking that he'd heard. A dog running wild wasn't even on his radar.
In fact, he kept walking until he heard a scream. It was only then that he drew his gun and darted down the alley.
He saw the blonde figure, crouched low, a weapon of some sort in her hand. The hair fell in a curtain over half her face, and she was covered in a layer of grime. She was twitchy, but there was a certain ferocity to her. Sam didn't take the time to study her and instead got between the dog and the woman.
It was only once he fired a shot off to the side of the alley that the dog turned tail and ran.
Only then did Sam hear a whimper and turn to check on the blonde.
He stared, not believing his eyes at first. He took a step toward her, hoping to get a better view. It was possible that all of these months on his own had him seeing things. Maybe. He supposed that it would make sense that in the absence of any allies to turn to, he might see more than a passing resemblance in a random encounter.
All the same, he took a step toward the woman.
"Jo?" his throat was raw, his voice carrying just a hint of hope that he wasn't wrong.
Her brown eyes raised to meet his and then shifted away.
"Black eyes," she muttered and tried to shrink back again, flattening herself against a nearby building wall.
It had taken a lot of coaxing to get Jo to come back to the motel room with him. Sam had run through the usual routine-holy water, cutting himself with a silver knife, and he'd made her do the same thing. Jo hadn't said anything else, but she'd silently consented to going with him. He didn't know why she was back, but he couldn't just leave her to wander around the New Orleans streets.
It was only after she'd cleaned up and eaten something that Jo looked at him again. She looked like she was trying to figure something out, though Sam wasn't sure what. When she didn't voice whatever question she might have had, he took out his research again.
"I thought Hell would have more fire and brimstone."
Sam almost jumped at her voice and looked up from his research. So familiar and yet it still felt like an echo of a distant memory. It was gravelly, as though from lack of use. All the same, there was a slight smile on her lips when he met her eyes. The smile didn't quite reach her eyes, but he could still see a whisper of the strength that had always defined the Harvelle women in his mind.
"Jo, you're not in Hell. Trust me. I would know." He stood, but didn't approach her.
She stared at him and then rubbed at her arms.
Sam nodded. He didn't know what had happened to her, but he knew coming back from the dead. He also suspected that she'd been in Heaven. Where else would she and Ellen have ended up really? And if she remembered Heaven and was now here... Well, he didn't want to think about what Earth might feel like after spending years in Heaven.
He went over to the sink and poured a glass of water, returning and setting it on the edge of the table closest to her. He sat down again.
"We're on Earth. I don't know how or why, Jo, but something brought you back. This isn't Hell. And it's not Heaven either. It's just... life."
Jo stared at him for awhile and then finally nodded and went back over to the window, peering out of it.
Sam sighed and paged through his notes again.
This time she didn't look at him, but the question hung on the air all the same. Sam didn't answer right away and instead shuffled through his papers. He didn't know how long she'd been back and he didn't know what sort of mental state she was in.
He did know that she'd had feelings for Dean. That wasn't a secret. He also knew that right now, she was the only company he had. Maybe she couldn't help, but maybe he just needed someone to listen as he talked through it. And maybe she needed a straight answer to where Dean was.
"Dean and Cas have been missing for months. There was... well, we had a showdown with some pretty nasty creatures. You might say that we won, but things didn't go well. What we used to take out the head monster also sent Dean and Cas somewhere. I've been trying to find out what happened to them, and I'm pretty sure now that they're in purgatory."
Jo's head turned to him sharply, her eyes suddenly very lucid. Any hint of caginess was gone for the moment. In that moment, she reminded him of the way she'd been on the night before Carthage-full of life and determination and just a little bit of that 'give 'em Hell' attitude that they'd all needed when going up against the devil.
"Purgatory?" she repeated.
She took the seat at the table across from Sam, her expression grave.
"What else do you have on this?"