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.
After this story is done, I will probably exclusively post future fic over on Archive of Our Own. So if you want to start following the story there, here's the link.
As soon as Jo was out of earshot, Dean turned to look at Cas.
"Cas, what the hell? I've been praying and calling for you. Where have you been?"
It had been months, and no sign of Cas. Considering everything they'd been dealing with? Yeah, he was more than a little pissed at the radio silence.
Cas looked remorseful, but Dean had seen that look on his face too many times lately. In some ways, amends had been made as they'd fought side by side in Purgatory. In others... Dean wasn't sure that their friendship would ever be the same.
"That creature that escaped Purgatory with us is an omen of bad things to come. I've tried to find whatever I can on it. And-" Cas hesitated and didn't quite meet Dean's eyes.
"And?" Dean prompted. "As much as I'd love to hash this out over tea, I don't think we have time for that. Not while that thing is carving people up."
He knew that he was being a dick, but he also felt personally responsible for every single person that thing killed. The blood was on his hands because it wouldn't have escaped if it wasn't for Sam and Jo rescuing him from Purgatory. And maybe if he'd moved faster when Cas told them all that they needed to go, maybe the door would have closed behind them and nothing would have gotten out. All the same, his expression softened with a little note of apology as he ran his hand through his hair.
"I also wanted to look into Jo. The means of her return..." the angel still avoided the hunter's eyes. "There's a darkness hanging onto her. She was forcibly removed from Heaven and I wanted to find out why."
Dean didn't say anything right away. He realized that he was holding his breath in anticipation of Cas continuing that last line of thinking. When it seemed as though Cas were waiting for Dean to give an indication of which news he wanted first, Dean sighed and made his choice.
"What did you find out about Jo?"
Castiel avoided Dean's eyes for a moment before making eye contact.
"Jo was ripped out of Heaven. Quite violently, if the trail left behind was any indication. There aren't many things that have the power to do that. They're called Fiends. Essentially, they have access to magic much more powerful than typical witches. There are only six in the world and they've never come together like this."
Dean scowled, not wanting to think about what might have happened to Jo's soul upon removal from Heaven. There were some wounds that never healed. This also made it a lot easier to hate himself for being glad that she was back.
The look on Castiel's face was hesitant, as if he were struggling with whether or not to answer.
"I believe that they needed someone ripped from Heaven and someone rescued from Hell to start the process of breaking down the barriers that keep Purgatory separate from Earth. They knew that Jo was one of the most likely to help free you."
Dean swore under his breath.
"So the world's about to end and again it's my fault?"
"No," Cas said. "This isn't a result of a choice you made."
"Don't you dare blame Jo and Sam, Cas." Dean was a little too quick to reply, his tone a little too rough. Cas simply looked at him, his expression unapologetic.
"We can discuss blame all we'd like, but it won't repair this situation."
"Okay," Dean breathed out. "Any ideas on how to end these sons of bitches?"
The angel nodded slowly.
"There are rumors. Things that might work. But you should know-killing them might undo magic they've worked in the past."
It didn't take long for Dean to connect the dots. When he did, he realized that he wished he hadn't.
"You think that killing them might send Jo back?"
"It might," Cas confirmed. "There's no conclusive evidence either way. This hasn't ever been done before."
"God damnit," Dean muttered. He took a deep breath and then waved his hand. "Okay, we'll keep looking. See if we can find an alternative or..." he shrugged helplessly. He realized then that he didn't think he could handle losing Jo again.
"Do you want me to tell her?" Cas asked.
Dean shook his head.
"No," he said strongly. "No, let me."
He turned toward the hallway and then sighed heavily and glanced over his shoulder.
"Thanks, Cas. We'll figure it out." He might not have sounded too convinced, but at least they knew more than before. Even if it wasn't exactly good news. When was there ever good news, really?
Dean headed towards his room, but stopped just outside the door that led to Jo's room. It was still weird to think that he could just go a few doors down to find her. She was here, and she was whole. Whatever Cas or anyone else had to say about it, he wasn't ready to let her go. Consequences be damned. After all, how many times had he and Sam cheated death? If anyone deserved that second chance, it was Jo.
He stared at the door for a long time before he knocked. He wasn't sure what he was doing, but he had to see her. In fact, he didn't even know what he'd say to her. He wasn't ready to tell her about what he'd learned from Cas. Not yet. Maybe not ever. If there was a way to quietly deal with the whole thing, he'd find it.
"Dean. Hey." There was a note of surprise in her voice as she moved aside and gestured for him to come in. Her voice still had that same soft lilt to it that he'd missed so much over the years. She looked the same-or rather, she looked better. The memories he'd had of her couldn't hold a candle to the real live woman in front of him. He didn't think that he deserved her faith, and he definitely didn't deserve the way that she was looking at him right now, but he also knew that he'd kick himself later if he kept pushing her away.
He knew exactly what she'd do if she knew what Cas had told him. She'd march right to her potential second death with her head held high. Because it was the right thing to do. She'd face it down with the same fearlessness that she'd had when she placed herself between those hellhounds and himself. That was why she could do better than Dean. He knew it, but that didn't stop him from hoping that he could find a different way. It was easy to say to hell with the consequences if it meant that Jo got her second chance.
He took a few steps towards her. There were things that he probably should be saying right now. Apologies to be made, maybe something to communicate what she meant to her. He'd never been all that great with talking about the heavy stuff. He simply reached out and pulled her into his arms as he bent his head down to meet her lips. There was a little murmur of surprise from her and then she melted into his arms and returned the kiss. Somewhere behind him, Jo managed to reach around and close her door before pulling him back into the room. He was done with keeping her at arm's length and done with ignoring this. Maybe he didn't want to waste any more time and maybe he was hoping that he'd give her a reason to stay. If he could just hold on tightly enough, maybe he could keep her this time.