CHARACTERS: Dean/Jo featuring Sam, Castiel, and other familiar faces
SUMMARY: Jo can't find peace in Heaven, so she searches for the next best thing: purpose. (1000+ words)
WARNING/S: Spoilers from the current season; some details may differ slightly due to Jo's perception of the events. Also, I've taken liberties with the whole concept of how Heaven works, again, based on the current season.
NOTES: I've always wondered about the ghosts, if they're still around, if they drop by to check in on the living. 09x14 has made me want to write about Jo in particular and about her life in the afterlife, as I can't imagine her sitting around waiting for another apocalypse to happen. Submitted for a challenge over at writerverse, using the prompts: "when opening up to somebody is the hardest thing you have ever done or will ever do" and "detached".
Jo remembers the Fall, the way the night sky is streaked in blazing light, each flame expelling another angel from Heaven. She remembers looking up, from where she is seated in the grass, and thinking to herself that she hasn't seen a firework in ages and maybe this is the same thing. It can be the same thing. Except it isn't and it can't.
Because what the event really means is that the world is in trouble. Again. And the boys - her boys - are at it again. And they will never have their peace. Nor will she, truth be told.
(Her mom tells her to let it go. It isn't her place anymore. That she's done hunting, with a finality which cannot be undone. But Jo has, within her, all the cracks of her existence on Earth. Has, tucked inside her heart, every memory, every sensation, every feeling, every blemish in an otherwise perfect life. Has, pushing to the forefront, the image of Dean Winchester with his hand on her cheek and her finger on a trigger. And this image is what fuels her, what keeps her from completely crossing over, what compels her to question whether this is all there is.)
She wanders through the grove until she finds Cas in a clearing. Somehow knows he's there even if she can't see his trench coat at first. She reaches out, passes through the veil, but can't touch him. Can only watch as he breaks down like an abandoned little boy, as he pulls himself (or whatever is left) back together, as he vows with more heart in his eyes than any human to right his wrong, as he walks away without another word.
Jo knows he won't hear her, now that he's long gone, but she quietly thanks him for fighting the good fight. For sticking by the boys, for keeping them safe. It takes forever and another second to focus on Dean, with his solid back and boyish grin, to travel between the spaces and white noise, until she is finally at the Bunker -- though it is empty.
She blinks again and finds herself at the hospital by Sam's bed, Dean hunched over and trying his hardest to pray. She wants to hold him then, to offer a shoulder, to extend an arm across his back and keep still and not let go. She wants to tell him that it will be all right, that Sam will be all right, that he will be all right.
But she can't, and her being a ghost is only half the problem.
(She's seen Bobby, sitting in a shadow of his old garage, reading a newspaper. Jo remembers walking up to him and asking him what he sees, what he knows of the world below. Because the newspaper is blank to her and she's heard the stories, about the Leviathans and how he'd stayed on Earth to keep charging ahead, to keep fighting. But Bobby continues on reading, as if he can't see her, with a faint smile on his face and his cap pulled a bit lower over his eyes. Her frown deepens as she slinks away.)
Jo witnesses it all, the angel climbing into a dying Sam, prying at his weakened soul, Dean's heart slowly falling to pieces, Crowley's endless deceptions. Remembers most vividly the look on Death's face, as the Winchesters escape him yet again. She wonders how things can possibly get worse. And, for a while, they don't. The boys continue saving people, hunting things. They find Cas. Dean sends him away, heart barely holding up. And then, at some point or other, he teams up with the King of Hell and takes the mark of Cain.
By then, she wants to hurl him across the Bunker. Ask him what the hell he thinks he's doing. But it gets harder and harder to focus on Dean and Sam and staying around at all. And, sometimes, Jo finds herself entertaining the thought of gathering more power, of doing what Bobby did. She muses in the dark, with her invisible legs propped up on their dining room table, the boys on the other end, heads buried in their books. She'd snap a picture if she could, then laughs at how silly it must look to whomever is watching. If anyone is watching.
(Kevin Tran notices her before he leaves with his mother. He doesn't know who she is, but the expression on his face tells her that he can understand. That he can imagine. That he won't interfere. He doesn't say a word to the boys, and in her state of unbeing Jo wishes she could give him a hug. Wishes their times had overlapped, that she had met him while they were both still alive. The thought lingers for a second before she dives right back into worrying about them. Because Sam's gotten up to leave and Dean's just watching him go, with all their words left unsaid. It's becoming a habit for them, to keep it in, to forget that all they have left is each other.)
Jo leans on the edge of his desk, arms crossed. Dean's too busy listening to his music, too busy blocking everything else away to notice the chill in the air. Too many ghosts in one place.
She feels the tug, Mary Winchester guiding a stray strand of hair behind her ear, feels that knowing smile, the fingers sliding down her cheek, her face warming to the touch. Almost familiar in the ways her mom and Dean and Kevin Tran are put together. She asks if Mary has been there long, if she can't get back into Heaven either. If she's maybe looking for someone. But Mary answers her with another question: "Will you take care of them for me?"
She fades away into the light before she can hear Jo's reply. But she doesn't need to. Jo's nod is enough, a remnant of her father's knife strapped to her leg, her eyes clear.