Character/Pairing: Just Jo/Dean in this chapter
Genre: Drama, Action
Summary: Jo doesn't sleep well since she was yanked out of Heaven and brought back to life. Dean has trouble sleeping since his return from purgatory.
Author's note: Since this was started before season 8 premiered, this is AU after the season 7 finale
Jo awoke with a start. It took a moment for her to register what had pulled her out of sleep, but then she heard it again. Somewhere in the house, someone was screaming. As the fog of sleep lifted further, she realized that Dean was screaming. She swore under her breath and reached for one of her guns. She also tucked a silver knife into the waistband of her pajama pants.
It didn't take long to make it down the hallway to the guest room. Jo didn't bother to knock and instead flung the door wide open, gun pointed into the room. She didn't have any expectations, beyond finding something. Instead, Dean sat straight up in bed, his eyes wild with panic as he fumbled for his own gun.
Jo lowered her weapon after one more glance around the room.
"You okay?" she asked, her voice softening.
Dean stared for a few more minutes, his hand resting on the weapon that he hadn't yet picked up. Finally, he nudged the gun away.
"Just fine," he said, his voice gravelly and unwelcoming. "Sorry I woke you up."
"Are you sure?" Jo asked, but she barely got the question out before he raised his hand.
"Just leave it, Jo. Get some sleep."
She took one last look at her houseguest and then let herself back out of the room, smarting just a bit at the brush off. Then again, what else would she expect besides the tough guy act when she seemed to have walked in on a nightmare? She wondered how Sam handled these sorts of things as she tucked herself into bed.
It took awhile to settle down and get to sleep but when she did, Jo fell back into her own old familiar nightmare.
It always started on a sunny day. That kind of warm and bright that was just comfortable enough as the sun kissed your cheeks. A light breeze danced through the air and the smells of all sorts of food filled her up with the kind of anticipation that had been reserved for her mom's picnic lunches. A tradition that had stopped after her dad passed away. A tradition that they'd picked right up again once they'd found each other again. Both her parents grinned at her. And then... the chanting started. At first, it was an easily ignored hum. It grew louder but no more understandable. It wasn't any language she'd ever heard. It stirred within her bones, the sense of wrongness filling her up. And then something tugged at her.
Her parents' faces went from happy to worried and then she was yanked backward.
It hurt. It always hurt. There was gasping for breath, air that was too cold, a stomach that was so empty it felt she'd never be filled again, and a sense of nausea rolling around in her.
"Jo." That voice didn't belong there. Nor did the warm breath inches from her ear.
"Jo, wake up."
She reached out in an attempt to bat it away and a hand caught hers. It was only then that Jo's eyes flew open. Another hand grabbed her free hand.
It took another moment to realize that the green eyes locked onto hers, the voice, and the hands all belonged to Dean. He released her only once the recognition must have passed through her face.
"Didn't want you stabbing me in your sleep," he said with a little half-smile. "You okay?"
Jo looked at him, only starting to register that he was sitting in her bed, still shirtless from when he must have been sleeping. She struggled to get into a sitting position so he was no longer looking down at her, and tried not to think about the thin fabric of her tank top and how it probably didn't leave much to the imagination.
"Probably same as you," she said. She hadn't yet forgotten about his dismissal, nor did she have any more desire to discuss her nightmares than he did.
There was the faintest hint of an apologetic smile across his lips. As if he'd only just become aware of how close they were, he shifted a little further away so he was precariously perched on the edge of her bed. He shifted his gaze from hers.
"It should never have been you back in Carthage with those hell hounds." His voice cracked with emotion and Jo reached out to give him a light shove.
"Stop. I died for something I believed in. Isn't that what every hunter wants in the end?"
Dean made a practice of studying her headboard, still carefully avoiding her gaze. She watched as his jaw tightened.
"Still. It could have been an easier way. Those dogs were after me. I shouldn't have asked you and your mom to be there in the first place."
"As if you could have stopped me from helping you. That's the thing that you never got, Dean. It's not your job to keep everyone safe. Sometimes you need to let people choose their own risks. I made my choice and I never regretted it."
He didn't say anything, didn't turn. Jo leaned against the headboard and attempted to catch his eye.
"I was always going to end up a hunter. Whether you and Sam helped out on that first hunt or not. I would think that of anyone, you would understand why. Without you two, I probably would have died back in Ohio. We can play the 'what if' game all night, but that's not going to change the fact that I always made my own choices. You carry around a lot of crap that you shouldn't, you know that?"
Jo didn't know why, but those words got Dean's attention. He looked up and met her eyes and there was an intensity there that caught her off guard. A second later, he cleared his throat and looked away again. When he returned his gaze to hers, the intensity had softened.
"I'm glad you're back. I hate myself for it because I'm not glad that you got yanked out of Heaven, but it's good to have you back among the living all the same."
Some of Dean's reactions today and before made a lot more sense now. Jo's eyes were wide as she stared at him, trying to get her brain to actually work in reaction to all of this. Her brain didn't kick in, but her hand seemed to reach forward on its own and brushed against his cheek. He leaned in to the touch and then covered her hand with his.
That action spurred her on and she leaned forward and pressed her lips against his. Dean let out a little guffaw of surprise and then there was a flurry of hands and lips and tongues as his arms wrapped around her and pulled her closer.
She wouldn't admit that she'd imagine what this might feel like more than once or twice. She'd given up on that line of thinking sometime after "I'll call you." Hadn't she? Her hands tangled in Dean's hair and now it was her turn to pull him closer as she attempted to move both of them away from the edge of the bed and precarious danger of falling off. Maybe she hadn't, or maybe they'd just come back around to each other. She didn't much care now when she was barely remembering to breathe in between kisses that seemed more urgent than the need for oxygen right about now.
"Jo," Dean's voice was just barely above a growl as he put his hands on her shoulders and pulled away. "You don't want to do this. Not like this."
The sudden stop was almost like a slap to the face. Jo scooted backward and sat up against the headboard of the bed, pulling her knees up to her chest as she looked over at Dean.
"Still trying to tell me what I do and don't want or need," she said with a sigh and a shake of her head.
His expression looked almost apologetic before he seemed to set his jaw with resolve.
"I'm just saying, maybe we're both a little shaken up and maybe this isn't the time." He ran a hand through his hair, failing at smoothing down the ruffling that had occurred during the rush of kissing. "Believe me, I'm probably going to regret putting a stop to this in the morning."
Jo couldn't help but glare a bit. She didn't have much patience for people trying to protect her, but she also didn't have much patience for bullshit. If this was a brush-off, than she'd rather just get the truth. And if it was trying to guard her honor or whatever, then she had no tolerance for that either.
"That whole 'right place, right time' thing doesn't exist. You know that, right? We're hunters and we have no guarantees of tomorrow. You either grab onto something when you have the chance or maybe you didn't want it all that much."
Dean blinked and looked at her.
"Are you giving me the 'last night on Earth' speech?" There was a little touch of amusement in his voice.
Jo shook her head and brushed some of her own hair out of her face.
"No. I'm saying that it shouldn't be this difficult." She exhaled in frustration. "Never mind. Let's just table this and get some sleep."
Dean stared at her and closed and opened his mouth a few times, looking as though there was something-or perhaps more than one thing-that he wanted to say. Finally, he closed his mouth and nodded.
"All right. Night, Jo."
He let himself out before she had the chance to return the sentiment. Jo watched the door long after it shut and then burrowed into her pillow, her lips still tingling from the memory of those kisses even as a heavy confusion set in.