Character/Pairing: Just Jo/Dean in this chapter
Genre: Drama, Action
Summary: Dean tries to apologize for the awkward kiss.
Author's note: Since this was started before season 8 premiered, this is AU after the season 7 finale. Also, I'm sorry that I haven't posted a new chapter in so long. I plan to get back on board with a regular posting schedule now!
Dean didn't sleep all that much after he 'd left Jo's room the night before. It wasn't like he slept all that well on a good night. He supposed that at least he had a different reason to be distracted. That kiss was etched into his memory, his lips still aching for what they'd started. He got up and made it all the way to his bedroom door, talking himself out of it each time. The hurt on her face when he'd pulled away was what stopped him. He didn't want to be the reason she looked like that. Not ever. Inevitably, he put that look on the face of every woman that made the mistake of getting too close to him. And those were the best case scenarios. That right there was a pretty damn good reason why he'd never followed up on calling her when he said he would. At least, that's what he told himself now.
He stopped pacing long enough to punch the overstuffed pillow on the bed. Jo had already been a 'worst case scenario' too. That image of her dying on the floor of some deserted hardware store was always going to be seared into his brain. It was still a jolt to see her living and breathing and just as gorgeous as ever. Seeing her as a ghost had been different. She'd still been pretty, but she'd just been a shadow of her living self. It had been easy to remember that she was supposed to be dead. Now, he couldn't erase the memories of her dying, but he also couldn't find a way to rectify that with how full of life she was now. She was back to being a force of nature-a hell on wheels Harvelle. Even, or maybe especially, when she was kicking him out of her room in the middle of the night.
At some point just before the first slivers of dawn started peeking through the curtains of the guest room, Dean managed to fall asleep. He didn't know how long he was out, but he woke up to the sound of pots and pans banging around in the kitchen. He gave himself enough time to wake up and pull on some clothes. At least it didn't take him long to get passed the bleary-eyed half-awake stage that most people had to contend with. Years of needing to get up and go at a moment's notice had chased that off.
He took a deep breath when he got to the door. He wasn't sure what he was going to find downstairs. Maybe a pissed off Jo, which was not something that he ever wanted to be on the wrong end of.
"Time to face the music," he muttered to himself and then headed downstairs.
What he wasn't expecting to find was breakfast. Jo was just finishing up omelets, which she slid onto plates for each of them. She barely looked up as he entered the kitchen. He studied her, a little confused.
"Morning, princess," she greeted him with a smile, and then set both plates at the table.
"Morning," he replied, doing his best not to scowl. He didn't like the feeling that she was just lulling him in and eventually the other shoe would drop. "What's this?"
She gave him a slightly amused look. "Protein. I figure that if we're going to spend the day looking into things, we might as well eat up. Just don't get used to it. I'm not running a bed and breakfast here."
One of the things Dean had always liked about Jo was that she wasn't exactly high drama. She didn't feel the need to talk things to death, and they had a pretty easy back and forth when they actually worked together. This was different, though. He didn't like the feeling that there was something that she wasn't saying. Or that she might have been less phased by the previous night than he was.
"Yes ma'am," he gave her a sarcastic salute and then dug in. A relatively comfortable silence settled over the room as they both ate. Dean didn't like talking during breakfast anyway, and he had to admit that this was probably the best one he'd had since he came back from Purgatory. Since before then, really, but his life was so divided that the time before Purgatory felt almost disconnected to the person he was after what he'd been through in there. It was funny, but having Jo around sort of helped combat that. He felt a little more like the guy he'd been before that, and before he'd lost the Harvelles in Carthage, and all of the other losses that came afterward. There was even a little glimpse every now and then of what it had felt like before he'd made the deal that ended in going to Hell and being responsible for the apocalypse.
He didn't deserve that feeling, and he knew it. It didn't make it any easier to brush off the need to cling to it for as long as she'd let him stick around. Or at least until Sammy found Kevin and needed him back.
Dean didn't realize that he'd stood when Jo stood until he followed her over to the sink. She whirled around and it was only then that he realized how closely he'd been following. He almost collided with her, but managed to keep it steady.
"I thought I told you that you at least needed to buy me dinner first if you were going to ride me this close." The old joke brought a smile to her lips. Under ordinary circumstances, he would have smirked and tossed a smartass comment back. But these weren't ordinary circumstances. He really didn't get her right now.
He stared down at her, and she stared right back. It felt a little like a game of chicken, and he was painfully aware of just how close she was right now. They were only a few breaths away from her hands sliding around him yet again and he spent much too long trying to figure out how exactly to get that moment back, even if he knew that he shouldn't. Finally, he held out a hand for her plate.
"I don't know about you, but I don't let someone who cooks me breakfast do the dishes. Come on, hand it over."
He wasn't a domestic guy and dishes weren't something he usually had to contend with on the road, but he knew how to do them and he knew at least enough to know that he wasn't going to let the woman who'd cooked him breakfast do all the clean-up too. Not that he wanted that spreading too far, but he could be a little more evolved when he cared about someone. He felt a smug sort of satisfaction when the smile that she'd kept on her face most of the morning gave way to at least some of the confusion he'd been feeling. She handed over her plate and then moved the frying pan and spatula over to the side of the sink and then she moved to grab a notebook and folder that he could only assume held her case notes. He didn't look at her, but cleared his throat.
"Uh. Sorry about last night."
He heard her stop moving, and could almost feel her turn and stare at the back of his head.
"What exactly are you sorry about?"
He grimaced. She couldn't just make this easy, could she? He finished up the dish that he'd been washing and put it in the dish drain. Then he glanced over his shoulder.
"I don't know, Jo. What do you want me to be sorry about? That I was a dick to you when you checked on me, or that I burst into your room without knocking. Maybe that I really wanted to take advantage of the fact that you were shaken up."
"Did I say that you had to be sorry?" Jo asked, and he didn't really know why, but now she just looked pissed. Oh, he'd been right about not wanting to be on this end of her temper.
He exhaled heavily. He really didn't know what she wanted from him. He shook his head.
"No. I just figured... You know what? Forget I said anything."
He turned his attention back to the dishes, scrubbing a whole lot harder in his frustration.
"Dean, I wasn't angry. I'm a big girl, you know. I actually do know what I'm doing, even when I'm shaken up. I was the one who kissed you, and you weren't interested. So no one needs to be sorry and we move on."
Not interested? She got that from... Dean didn't turn around right away. He bit back a scathing remark about the fact that it had taken two to kiss. He also stopped himself from pointing out that if he hadn't been that interested, he wouldn't have worried about whether or not he should sleep with her. He didn't think that he had a right to say any of those things, because she was better off. He took a lot longer washing the last dish than he needed to, casting around for the right words. They didn't come, but he finally had to turn around anyway.
Jo was at the table, engrossed in the contents of the file. Yet again, he didn't really know what to make of the rapid change or of her acting like they hadn't just been on the verge of shouting at each other. He studied her for a minute, still not sure what he was supposed to do here. Was he supposed to say something? Or just let it be? It wasn't like bringing up the subject had gone all that well in the first place, so he pushed aside anything else that he wanted to say and took a seat at the table.
"So what do you know so far?"
She paused, her hand hovering over one of the papers in the file before she looked up and nudged it over to him. He wasn't sure if that was disappointment or hurt, or maybe even relief in her expression. Maybe a little bit of each. Whatever the case, she didn't say anything more about the outburst. Instead, she pointed out one of the newspaper clippings in the article.
"There. That's about an hour from here, and some of those deaths look a little strange to me. They don't quite match up with anything I've seen before, so I'm thinking it's worth a look."
This was easier to focus on than he might have thought. He'd always said that Jo could put together a damn good case file. It seemed that some things didn't ever change. There was even a little bit of a proud smile as he looked over the clippings and her notes. He finished reading through everything and looked up at her.
"All right. I'm ready to go when you are."
She smiled again. It was a little more strained than her usual smile, but he was glad to see it all again. He suddenly realized that it felt like a nice change of pace to be working this case with her. Sure, he'd always prefer working with Sam, but he had to admit that the scenery was nicer. And something about Jo made him feel a lot more human than he'd felt in the months since he'd come back. He also appreciated how easily they slid from the tense conversation into this. There were probably things that needed to be said, but they could wait. For now, he was almost looking forward to hunting down the son of a bitch that had escaped from Purgatory when he did. He felt responsible for that and was eager to send it back to where it belonged. Whatever it was.