Character/Pairing: Jo/Dean, Cas
Genre: Drama, Action
Author's note: Since this was started before season 8 premiered, this is AU after the season 7 finale. Also, I took as long as I did on this chapter because I was agonizing about how to handle the Men of Letters/Henry Winchester plot and finally decided that the meeting with Henry went pretty much exactly as in the show.
Jo kept her promise to Sam and stuck with the boys. Even after Kevin went off and asked them not to follow him. She knew that it meant losing her job and the house rental that she'd secured for herself, but this felt more important. She left them briefly from time to time when they got leads on the creature that had followed Dean and Cas out of hell. There were a lot of dead ends and it sometimes helped to split up. She was frustrated at the lack of answers and Dean was growing increasingly more ornery about the fact that they couldn't get in touch with Cas. Dean seemed convinced that Cas knew more about the creature that seemed to be feeding on people who were living examples of the seven deadly sins. For whatever that was worth.
While she was gone tying up loose ends and moving the rest of her things out of the rental house, Dean and Sam's grandfather came from the past and left them something of a legacy. Jo was definitely curious about the Men of Letters when Sam recounted the story of everything that had happened to Henry and everything they'd found. She was also pretty amazed at the space that they'd inherited.
Her first night in the bunker was a restless one. Jo was getting used to the nightmares, but there were some nights when it was harder to get back to sleep than others. The change of scenery didn't really matter either way-she could sleep anywhere. But it didn't help matters that this place was still a mystery to be explored. The library alone held more books on the supernatural than she'd ever seen in her life. Let alone the sheer size of this place and how many corners had been left untouched so far. But first, Jo made her way into the kitchen. She'd made a point of stocking it with beer and food, since they seemed to be holed up in here until they could find more answers on the thing that had escaped Purgatory.
She stopped once she got into the little den off the library. The light was already on and she wasn't alone. When Dean didn't turn around immediately, she considered just slipping away and finding somewhere else to drink the six pack that she'd retrieved from the fridge. Too late, he turned and gave her a small smile.
He gestured toward the armchair opposite his. Jo took the seat, still not sure what to say here. Dean hadn't tried to send her away, though he hadn't always seemed happy about her presence either. Actually, there were times when he simply didn't seem happy period. Though Jo supposed that she couldn't blame him.
"Guess I'm not the only insomniac around here," Jo said, returning the smile with a cautious one of her own.
"Yeah." Dean frowned and looked down at his drink. "You get moved out of your place okay?"
Thank god for small talk, Jo thought. They hadn't actually been alone together since the day after that rejected kiss. That was partly her doing and, she thought, partly his own avoidance of her. It was probably better that way, though she hoped that they'd eventually get to a point where things weren't awkward. Could she do that? Could she ignore her feelings for him and just be platonic? She thought she could. Especially if she was sure that sticking around was best for him.
"There wasn't much to move, so yeah. You know hunters. It pays to travel light."
She'd had a few things to sell off or donate, but mostly it had been just a quick stop to put in her official notice and grab a few weapons she'd left behind. It was a little bittersweet, but she'd spent enough time on the road that she didn't get overly attached to places. People, though... Getting attached to people had always been her downfall. Even when she was working at the Roadhouse, it had been hard to have certain people coming and going all the time. Or worse, dropping off the face of the Earth. Hunters were solitary enough that one could die without the community ever knowing exactly what had happened to him. It was a tough reality, but one that she'd learned to compartmentalize after awhile.
"Are you sure about this?" Dean asked. "Seemed like you were building something good in New Mexico."
Jo did her best not to exhale in frustration. Instead, she fixed Dean with a weary look.
"In spite of what you think, I am capable of making my own decisions. I'm sure."
He at least had the decency to shoot her a regretful look, followed up by a self deprecating smile.
"I just think that you could do better with your second shot than hanging around with bums like us."
"Probably," Jo teased. She sighed and looked at Dean. "But I think you two need me. I know that you think you've changed. And you have, but you're still helping people. There are a lot of things that hunters could do if they've gone around the bend, but you haven't done those things. Everything you've been through, and you're still trying to make the world a better place in the best way you know."
She took her beer and stood, because it was probably a little too much honesty to stick around without things being awkward.
"And you know how you keep on the straight and narrow? You keep people around you who care. People who are willing to help you recover from whatever hell you've experienced. Literal and figurative, of course."
She gave him a small smile and started toward the door. Behind her, she heard Dean get out of his chair and follow her.
"Jo, wait." His hand caught hers and he whirled her around. She could see the confusion in his eyes, along with an intensity that took her breath away.
For just a moment, Jo was sure that Dean was about to lean in and kiss her. And then someone cleared their throat. Both their heads turned in the direction of the sound. Cas stood there looking at both of them.
"Dean, Jo," he nodded to each in turn and then shifted his gaze to Dean. "Dean, I need to talk to you."
He didn't have to emphasize that he needed to talk to Dean alone. Jo got the hint just fine. She gave both a faint smile.
"I was just on my way to do some reading in bed anyway," she lied. "You two catch up."
'Catch up' might not be the right choice of words, since Cas had been mostly awol over the last few months when they really could have used him. Jo though that she saw a flicker of anger on Dean's face, which only reinforced her desire to give the two space to talk. With any luck, Cas at least came bearing some knowledge of what they were up against with the escapee from Purgatory. She hoped.
She thought she saw a little note of appreciation in Dean's eyes as he caught her gaze on her way out. She tried not to think too hard about whatever Cas might have interrupted or if they'd come back to that at some point. Instead, she just slipped down the hallway to her room.