Author Topic: A Little Strife  (Read 174 times)

Jo Winchester

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A Little Strife
« on: August 08, 2015, 10:32:14 AM »
What a difference just a few months could make. As the year rolled on into 2013, life seemed to settle down for the Winchesters and the Singers. Ayden was married to her Greek God of War and living mostly in Greece, enduring what sounded like the pregnancy from hell; Sam was moved out into an apartment that he would be sharing with Becky Hoffman when she finished at Stanford in the spring; Dean and Jo had a house of their own, presented to them by Apollo and Artemis, which was apparently the reason the twin Olympians had not been in that much evidence recently.

The winter was harsh, yes; Demeter's grief for her slain daughter stained the land bright with white snow far longer than it usually held on. But as the end of March came into sight - and with it, a matter of weeks until a very important birth - spring came to Sioux Falls, allowing the hunters to breathe a very welcome sigh of relief. For about ten minutes. There was always something lurking, and Hades had been quiet for too long.

That quiet was shattered by a phone call at stupid o'clock in the morning from Ayden, who had been in a mild panic. She'd Seen something - something about a small boy being chased down Sunset in the city by what Ares was fairly sure was Strife, a lesser Olympian. She'd Seen this lesser god kill a small child, and felt the world shatter around them when it happened, waking in a panic to share that feeling with her husband. So, naturally, she had decided to share it with her brother as well.

Which was how Dean and Ellen ended up sitting side by side in the Impala on the right street for most of the day. Jo was on lockdown at the Singers, with Bobby for company, and Sam was only a phone call away. But stakeouts were by far the most boring part of their job.

Stakeouts were boring, but they were also an excuse for Dean to binge on an excessive amount of coffee and donuts with the excuse that he he needed the intake of caffeine and sugar to keep him awake and on his toes - even if it was the middle of the day. No stakeout was complete without an array of munchies to keep his hunger at bay, and he had a habit of staving off boredom by listening to one cassette tape after another featuring some hair band or other from the late 70s or early 80s. Today, however, he had Ellen along for the ride, and it was unlikely she'd indulge his desire to listen to Ozzy more than once.

"Is Ayden sure about this?" he mused, as he scarfed down his third donut - this one jelly-filled and finger-licking good. "We've been here all day and nothing's happened." He knew better than to question his little sister's gift of sight, but maybe she had the wrong day or street even.

To her credit, Ellen hadn't said a word about the artery-congesting amount of sugar and grease Dean was working his way through, her attention on the road ahead of them as she sipped from her own thermos flask of soup. "Well, have you known that girl to be wrong so far?" she asked him, glancing in his direction. "And now she's all jumped up on half-god juice, or whatever that baby of hers is pumping out. Speaking of which ..." The older woman flashed Dean a grin that said everything before she got the words out. "Any signs of your little package getting mailed early?"

Dean chewed and swallowed, and chased that mouthful of donut down with yet another swig of java. It was nothing short of a miracle that he wasn't bouncing off the walls of the Impala by now. "My little package isn't so little, but if we're talking about the baby, no, nothing yet. Doc says could be any day now though."

"Oh, and that ain't just the most excitin' thing?" Calm and capable Ellen might be, but there was something about the prospect of having a baby to play with in the very near future that was turning her into a gooey woman on a regular basis, especially now she was reconciled with Jo calling her Mom. She was driving Bobby nuts with the grandma routine. "C'mon, you're not excited? Gonna be a daddy, sweetie."

"Of course I'm excited!" he replied with a look that dared her to disagree with him. He'd been elated to find out Jo was pregnant, but the news had made him nervous, too. Scared, really, if he was being honest with himself. He wasn't afraid of not being a good father; that wasn't it at all. It was the world they were bringing this small child into - this son of theirs that they already knew they'd name Sam. "Why wouldn't I be excited?"

Ellen chuckled. She always got a rise out of him when she did that. "Figured you might be gettin' all gnarly over it," she teased him fondly, reaching over to pat his cheek. "Big changes, having a baby."

"Sam and Hope turned out okay, so we must've done something right. Or will do something right." He furrowed his brows. The tenses always confused him a little, especially when he'd actually been to the future himself. He'd promised himself and the future Jo that he'd make things better, that he wouldn't let Hades create Hell on Earth. Hades' Earth was even worse than things might have been under Lucifer.

"World ain't goin' to hell on our watch, kid." As she spoke, Ellen narrowed her eyes, peering out through the windscreen. Something was forming in the middle distance of the road ahead of them, some swirling mass of red darkness and light that grew from a speck to a man-sized mass of crackling energy. "That look like a portal to you?"

Dean set his coffee in the cup holder as he followed Ellen's gaze to the energy crackling in front of them. "Either that, or we're sharing a hallucination," he replied, and they both knew that was not the case. He moved for the door, making sure he had the Hind's Blood dagger tucked inside his jacket, just to be on the safe side. "What kinda asshat preys on kids, anyway?" he murmured to himself, as the stakeout got serious.

"Hades' kinda asshats," she muttered, opening up her own door to climb out. Ellen had been armed with the Colt - even if it didn't kill Olympians, it could at least slow them down, and that was just the worst case scenario. Ayden hadn't said anything about hybrids, but better safe than sorry.

As the two hunters clambered out onto their feet, the mass of crackling energy pulsed once, twice, and a small boy came barreling out of it, running as hard as he could, not even glancing behind him. Moments later, a tall figure lurched out of the portal behind him, one hand already forming a ball of energy.

Ellen narrowed her eyes, aimed, and fired, shattering that weapon before the Olympian could fire it. "Get the kid!"

It seemed Ellen wanted him to get the kid while she handled the Olympian, though Dean was carrying the weapon more likely to have an effect on whoever or whatever was after the kid. "You get the kid! I'll get the asshat!" Dean countered, though if she got a good shot in before he got up close and personal, he might not have a choice. There was something oddly familiar about the kid barreling their way, but Dean didn't have much time to think about it before he was heading that way with the intention of putting himself between the kid and his pursuer.

"Don't get dead!" Ellen yelled back at him, accelerating to try and at least catch up so that she could grab the kid before he got hurt.

The Olympian - Strife, Ayden had said - had paused, a malicious grin forming on his face as he watched the two hunters run toward him. Then his silver-black eyes focused on the boy once again, and the sidewalk erupted before the child's feet, stones cracking and breaking to trip him up.

The Olympian should have been worrying about the two hunters more than the kid, but before Dean and Ellen could reach him, the boy tripped and fell with a thud, taken completely off guard by the erupting sidewalk in front of him. Dean watched as the boy rolled to his feet, bleeding from various cuts and scrapes and bruises, knees torn out of his jeans.

"No!" he shouted, knowing the Olympian would get there before he did, but then, the boy was turning to face his pursuer, just long enough to throw a handful of salt in his eyes before Dean reached him and shoved him safely behind his back.
[img:e7ee19851d]http://i.imgur.com/tqFhSGE.gif[/img:e7ee19851d]
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]

Jo Winchester

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Re: A Little Strife
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2015, 10:33:30 AM »
As Ellen reached out to grab the boy, skidding to a halt behind Dean, Strife reared back, the salt stinging in his eyes. His hands went up to protect his face, a very human reaction to what was the least of his problems. After all, the very real problem was the hunter standing in front of him, armed with a Hind's Blood dagger.

"Why don't you pick on someone your own size?" Dean asked the Olympian, not expecting or wanting an answer, the Hinds Blood dagger already in his hand. He didn't wait to give the Godling a chance to react or strike back, surging forward to shove the dagger home, letting the blade do its worst.

Silver light erupted from the dagger as it plunged into the Olympian's chest, the poison on the blade more than enough to end the existence of a being who should have known better than to go head to dead with Dean Winchester. A last pain-filled grimace crossed Strife's face, before a pulse of pure energy blasted out of him, hard enough to throw the hunters down as the life left the Olympian for good.

Ellen caught the boy as she went down, cushioning his fall and protecting him all at once. As the wind died down, she dared a look up. "That it?"

Closest to the Olympian when that pulse of energy blast toward them, Dean took the brunt of it, thrown a dozen feet in the air to slam onto the ground with a loud thud and a groan where he remained while Ellen caught hold of the boy.

"Aunt Ellen?" a young voice queried from within the protective shield Ellen had around him.

For the first time, Ellen took a proper look at the little boy wrapped up safely in her arms. She took in the green eyes, the blond hair, the ever so slightly cynical cast to the expression he could only have learned from his daddy. And she took a deep breath before answering. "You okay there, sweetie?" she asked, moving stiffly up onto her feet. She held her hand out to the boy, fixing her eyes on the man still lying on the sidewalk. "Hey, we gotta get little Dean here back to the house. Get up, idjit."

"What are you doing here?" the boy asked, obviously more than a little disoriented. She looked different than he remembered - older - but there was no mistaking it was Ellen. It seemed he hadn't quite realized that it was him who had entered the Twilight Zone, not the other way around. The boy who would one day become a hunter had gumption - that much was certain - but he was still little more than a boy.

The man lying on the sidewalk groaned, feeling like he'd just gone a few rounds with a prizefighter or a tornado, but he climbed slowly to his feet, not quite catching Ellen's drift. "I'm not that little," he murmured.

"I look like I'm talkin' about you?" Ellen asked the older Dean pointedly, giving his younger self a gentle tug as she headed back toward the Impala. She had no idea what was going on here, or even how to begin to explain to a child that he was in the future, but she knew they had to get out of Hades' sight, and soon. "You tell me what happened to you when we're in the car," she told the little boy beside her. "We're not far from my house, little man, we'll be safe enough soon."

Dean narrowed his eyes at the pair, blinking a few times as if to make sure he wasn't seeing things. "Wait a minute ..." he started. Moving to follow, he staggered a moment, the lump on his head starting to throb painfully, but he'd had a lot worse. He turned to retrieve the dagger, tucking it back into his jacket and looking around to make sure no one was following them.

"What's Dad's car doing here?" the little boy asked, as he followed hand in hand at Ellen's side.

"No time to wait, get your ass movin'," Ellen told the older version as she opened up the door to get the younger version inside. "This ain't your daddy's car, sweetie. Take a look at those plates - they ain't yours, are they? Get yourself in there, sweetie. I'll make you somethin' when we get in."

"Yes, ma'am," Dean replied as he took the rear, in part to watch their backs, before climbing into the driver's seat. "You want a donut, kid?" he asked, as he put the key in the ignition.

The little boy narrowed his eyes up at Ellen, not quite believing her, but trusting her just the same, even if she wasn't his Ellen. Whoever she really was, she'd just saved his ass and he owed her a debt of gratitude for that, at least. He looked up at her with mingled suspicion and hopeful trust, his chin trembling just a little, promising himself he wasn't going to let them see him cry. "Are you gonna take me home?" he asked as he climbed into the back seat.

"We'll get you back to your daddy, don't you worry," Ellen promised the little boy, dropping into the front seat. She didn't know how, of course, but one thing at a time. "You're gonna come along home with us for now and we'll keep you safe while we work out what's goin' on here." Her eyes flickered to the older Dean in concern, not even commenting on the offer of a donut. "This ain't good."

"What ain't good?" Dean asked, as he turned over the engine and pulled out onto the road. Apparently, he hadn't taken a really good look at the kid in the backseat as yet, but he was about to get the shock of his life.

"Sure sounds like my Dad's car," the voice from the backseat said as he slid forward to peer into the front seat. "You got any jelly? Jelly's my favorite."

Dean chuckled at the boy's response. "Yeah, jelly donuts are ..." His gaze darted to the face in his rear-view mirror and he slammed on the breaks, skidding across the road. "The hell ..."

One thing Ellen was very good at, no matter how shocked she might be, was taking charge of the situation. As the car swerved and skidded, she snapped her fingers. "Hey, hey! Language," she warned the older version. "You, eyes on the road. And you ... eat your donut."

The older Dean gave Ellen a look that said, "We need to talk," but turned his eyes back to the road as he pulled back out and started toward home.

The younger Dean picked the last jelly donut from the box and took a huge bite, jelly dribbling down his chin.

"Hey!" the elder Dean scolded from the front seat. "Watch it or you'll be cleaning the seats. Aw, Christ ..." he muttered quietly to himself. "Am I scolding myself? I'm scolding myself."

"Better'n watching yourself die," Ellen commented quietly, twisting to look into the back seat at the sugar- and jelly-coated small boy who could only be Dean when he was young. She remembered him at this age; John had been burning, obsessed with learning as much as he could, and the boys had been dropped on the Singers' doorstep more often at this age than later on, always with instructions to have Dean practice with his shotgun or something else stupid, in Ellen's opinion. "What happened to you, sweetie?"

Dean only clenched his jaw, making no comment on Ellen's remark, appearing to be intent on his driving, though in reality, he was working up to a slow rage at what had just happened to his younger self.
[img:e7ee19851d]http://i.imgur.com/tqFhSGE.gif[/img:e7ee19851d]
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]

Jo Winchester

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Re: A Little Strife
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2015, 10:34:16 AM »
The younger Dean seemed heedless of his older's self angst, heedless even that it was his older self who had saved him from certain death. Now that he had a jelly donut to soothe his ills, he only shrugged his shoulders as if what had just happened wasn't such a big deal. "I was playing in the backyard when that ... that bad guy showed up and started chasing me and then I was here." He shrugged again, not really wanting to think about it too hard. Maybe he'd think about it later, but then it would probably give him nightmares, just like it did when he thought about his Mom.

Ellen nodded slowly, glad the drive back to the yard wasn't a long one. She could feel the Dean beside her working himself up, whether he admitted to it or not. "Fair enough, sweetie," she said to the smaller version with a familiar smile. "Now what we got here is a puzzle that's easy to fix. We know people who can get you back home, we just gotta get them to come to us. So don't you fret, you understand?"

"If I'm not home, where am I?" the boy Dean asked, licking jelly from his lips. Thankfully, he only seemed to have suffered some minor scrapes and cuts - nothing that stopped him from enjoying that donut. He looked to Ellen with a boyishly curious gaze that lacked much innocence, even at six or seven before turning to regard his older self. "Who are you? Are you a hunter?"

"Well, honey, we're goin' to the yard," Ellen told the little boy. "But it's a little different to what you know. It's still home, it's just home that's a bit older than you're used to. I know it don't make sense, little man, but you need to trust me, okay? We will get you back to your daddy." At the boy's curious question to Dean, however, she stopped talking, her lips twitching in an effort not to smile.

"I trust you," the boy replied without hesitation, taking Ellen at her word. Whether it made sense or not didn't matter right now - he was safe and he trusted her to keep him that way. But that didn't answer his question about the man driving his father's car. "How come you're driving my Dad's car? Are you a friend of his or something?" No, he hadn't bought the story that the Impala was a different Impala to the one back home he knew and loved. Sure, the license plates were different, but otherwise, it looked pretty much the same to him.

Dean exchanged glances with Ellen, slightly annoyed that she'd left it up to him to explain. "Sort of," he said. "Your Dad and me, we go way back." Now, that at least, was the truth.

"Your daddy trained him up, with Bobby helpin'," Ellen added, more amused at the annoyance than upset by it. "Somethin' even better about him ... he's all married and settled, expectin' a baby. And still a darn good hunter, too."

"Gee, thanks, Ellen. That's high praise coming from you," the elder Dean remarked in a slightly sarcastic tone of voice that went right over the younger Dean's head. Darn good. Yeah, he was a hell of a lot better than that.

"Were you in the war? You don't look old enough to have been in the war," the boy asked, still curious.

"No, not that war anyway. I met your Dad ..." Dean paused a moment before continuing, as if debating what to say. "I met him after that. When you were little." Real little.

"Like I said, language," Ellen chuckled. She'd forgotten the way she slipped automatically into slightly cleaner idioms around children, and the fact that the men in her life didn't seem to know how not to swear. "His name's Dean, too." So much for keeping that one a secret, but it was better than having the kid confused when they arrived back at the yard.

Dean scowled, but said nothing, knowing better than to argue with Ellen. He was probably about the kid's age when he'd learned that lesson the hard way.

"Oh!" the boy exclaimed excitedly. "Am I named after you? My dad told me once that I was named after someone, but he didn't say who."

"Naw, sweetie, Dean's a name from your mom's family," Ellen told him. She'd never believed in lying to the boys, but she'd been prepared to sugar-coat the truth while they were young. That hadn't changed. "Same sort of thing for this one. He's named after his gramma."

There was that ever-present scowl on Dean's face still, obviously unhappy about this entire situation.

The boy laughed at Ellen's remark. "You're named after a girl? That's funny." Yes, he was, too, but he didn't know that yet, and maybe he never would until he was much older.

"Be careful who you laugh at, kid. I just saved your life back there," Dean found himself scolding his younger self and feeling just a little bit smug about it. He didn't remember any of this having happened in his own life, but that wasn't very surprising, all things considered. After all, he wasn't even from this universe ... timeline ... reality ... or whatever it was.

Ellen grinned, rolling her eyes for the younger Dean's benefit as they pulled into Singer Salvage. "He gets grumpy when he don't know what's happenin'," she said, in an awful stage whisper, to the little boy on the back seat. "Worse when he hasn't eaten in a while."

"Maybe you should have a donut," the boy suggested, taking Ellen at her word again. He didn't take too much offense at Dean's scolding; after all, he did have John Winchester for a father. Scoldings were practically an everyday event. The gravel drive crunched as Dean pulled the Impala into the yard and parked near Ayden's car, which was almost as sweet as Dean's, in his opinion anyway.

"Don't need a donut," Dean replied grumpily as he turned off the engine.

"Just needs a smooch from his best girl, that's all," Ellen agreed, already moving to get out of the car, She pulled open the back door, offering her hand to the little boy sitting there automatically. Strange, how dealing with the smaller Dean came naturally, even after all these years. She swallowed against the lump in her throat, knowing how this little man was going to end, and smiled at the boy. "C'mon, let's get you cleaned up."

The boy scooched over, taking Ellen's hand without hesitation and climbing out of the car that would one day in the future become his. "Thanks for helping me, Mister," he said, not forgetting the manners his mother had drummed into his head only a few short years ago. His Dad wasn't big on manners, but he had taught the boy to respect his elders, at least. Bobby and Ellen seemed to be doing the rest. "Can I please have a sandwich? I'm hungry," he asked of Ellen as he slid to his feet.

"What do I look like?" she asked the boy, laughing. "I look like Bobby to you? Course you're gettin' a sandwich." Chuckling as much to hide her own distress and concern as in amusement, she drew the little boy to the house, trusting in the older Dean to follow on rather than linger outside in a sulk.

Oh, Dean would follow, eventually, but for now, he was having a bit of a sulk - or rather, he was "thinking", and there was admittedly a lot to think about.
[img:e7ee19851d]http://i.imgur.com/tqFhSGE.gif[/img:e7ee19851d]
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]

Jo Winchester

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Re: A Little Strife
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2015, 10:35:35 AM »
The door opened as they approached, revealing the heavily pregnant form of Jo, raising a brow with a smile. "Who's this?"

Meanwhile, the boy looked wide-eyed up at the pretty lady who was so obviously pregnant and he actually blushed. She was quite possibly the prettiest lady he'd ever seen in his entire life. "Hello," he told her shyly.

All it took was one look from Ellen, and Jo automatically went into friendly babble mode, something that Sam had told her she did on a regular basis when there was something in the air the children weren't supposed to know about in the future. "Hey there," she greeted the little boy, not knowing who he was. "I'm Jo. You look kinda beat up there, but I bet the other guy looks worse, huh? C'mon in, let's get you cleaned up."

Ellen smiled, relieved to see that the only person in the house who had no way of knowing just who the little man was, was prepared to just take everything on faith. "You go on, sweetie. Jo'll look after you."

He cast an almost terrified look at Ellen at her suggestion that he go with the pretty lady named Jo. He didn't really know many girls yet, and the way his father kept moving them around, he didn't get much of a chance to get to know any, but he knew there was something about them he liked a lot. "Can I still have a sandwich?" he asked tentatively.

"She's almost good as me," Ellen promised him with a smile, gently ruffling his hair. "Go on, now. I'll be there in a second. And Bobby's around, too. You're safe, sweetie."

Jo's smile was a little quizzical as she considered that this small person knew who Bobby and Ellen were, but she didn't ask the obvious question, instead moving to crouch by the boy a little awkwardly. "You like peanut butter and jelly?" she asked curiously. "Or maybe you like a BLT, easy on the LT?"

Again, he had no reason not to trust her, though he already sensed that things were different here - wherever here was. Still, he trusted Ellen and if she said he was safe, he believed her. He nodded obediently to Ellen before turning to find the pretty lady named Jo crouching down in front of him. "Are you gonna have a baby?" he blurted, before he could answer her question.

Jo chuckled. "That obvious, huh? And here's me thinking people might just believe I'm getting fat." She grinned, moving up onto her feet once again to offer him her hand. "Hey, when the baby wakes up, maybe he'll kick you if you ask him to."

"Ellen said Dean is married and expecting a baby," he remarked as he took Jo's hand - more than happy to take Jo's hand. "Is he married to you?" he asked curiously, putting two and two together. He felt a strange pang of jealousy at the thought of that, though he wasn't sure why. After all, she was all grown up and he was just a seven year old kid.

"That'd be me," she nodded, drawing him into the house as Ellen turned her attention onto the adult brooding in his car. "Hey, Bobby!" Jo called as they entered through the door, moving toward the kitchen. "Stow your crap, they got him!" She glanced down at the boy beside her. "Just cuts and bruises, right? No one burned you with anything?"

The boy shook his head up at Jo to indicate he was all in one piece. He'd had a lot worse than a few cuts and bruises, having learned the hard way that the deepest wounds are those of the heart - the ones you can't see. "I'm okay. Dean and Ellen saved me. They killed the bad man, so he can't hurt me anymore. Is Sam here? I miss Sam. I promised Dad I'd take care of him, and I can't take care of him if he's not here."

"Don't have to shout, girl. I ain't deaf," the cranky male voice that was Bobby's said as he stepped into the room to see what was going on.

"No fun if I can't shout at you," Jo countered with a grin, glad that Bobby had chosen that moment to enter. She did not have the first idea how to answer the question that had been thrown at her, not when it led her toward some interesting guesses of her own. A small boy, whose death had been averted by the fact that Ayden had Seen it in her dreams; a small boy who knew Ellen and Bobby; a small boy who talked about taking care of Sam. This was Dean.

"Well, now, who do we have ..." Bobby trailed off as he recognized the small boy before him. He'd know that face anywhere without a doubt. "Dean?" he asked, incredulously. Leave it to Bobby to state the obvious. "The hell ..." he muttered, about the same reaction as the elder Dean at the boy's presence. The wheels in his head were turning, quickly sorting out the situation. "Son of a bitch," he muttered further. Well, where do you think Dean got it from anyway?

With her suspicion confirmed, Jo went into overdrive. "I reckon someone needs to get in touch with Ralph," she shrugged, employing Apollo's pseudonym just in case the party line was to keep as much of the detail a secret from the little fella as possible. "But we are on the way to the kitchen for band-aids and sandwiches. Right, dude?"

Little Dean beamed a smile up at Jo. If he wasn't already in love with her it would be a miracle, and he was only seven. What would have happened if he'd met the younger version of her was anyone's guess. "Yes, ma'am, Miss Jo ... Mrs. Jo," he corrected himself. For the moment, he'd forgotten about his concerns over his brother, but it was bound to come up again sooner or later.

"Where's, uh ... Your husband?" Bobby asked, a little shifty-eyed.

"Just Jo, sweetie," she corrected the little boy with a smile, looking to Bobby with very slight strain showing around her eyes. "He ... didn't come in, Ellen went back out to him. I'm guessing they're going over what happened." She patted Bobby's arm gently, resuming her course toward the kitchen and dealing with the immediate problem of a small boy bleeding on his jeans and complaining of hunger.

Bobby nodded again, unsure how much the kid knew and presuming the less he knew the better. "Okay, I'll, uh, give Ralph and, uh, Ayden a buzz and let them know what's going on," he volunteered. Someone was going to have to do it, after all, and Ayden was probably going out of her mind with worry by now.

"Good idea," Jo agreed with a nod, giving little Dean a gentle tug into the kitchen. "It's all go around here, kid." She smiled at the child, bending to heave him up onto the kitchen counter without a second thought. If anyone else in the house had seen her do that, she would have had an earful right then and there. She was supposed to be taking it easy, after all. Pulling down the first aid kit, she rummaged for wipes and band-aids. "So what do you wanna eat?" she asked little Dean, moving to roll up his jeans to take a look at the scrapes on his knees.

To be fair, there wasn't much to him yet. He was only seven years old, after all, so he probably wasn't much heavier than a couple sacks of potatoes. "Would it be okay if I had peanut and jelly?" he asked, uncertainly, as if he was afraid that might be too much trouble.

"Is that what you want to have, or what you think you should be asking for?" she asked him, gently wiping dirt and debris from his knees. "I'm here now. And the bigger Dean? Trust me, he's gonna want to eat. He wouldn't stop eating if he had the chance."

"It's my favorite," he replied honestly. At least, it was his favorite when he was seven years old. That would change a little in the future, but there was no mistaking Dean liked sandwiches, no matter whether he was young or old. "Does he like peanut butter and jelly, too?" he asked curiously, wincing just a little as she picked the dirt out of his scrapes.

"Then you get your favorite," Jo promised him, trying to be as quick as she could with his scrapes. She knew it was nowhere near as bad as it could have been, but he was just a little boy. "Oh, he likes everything," she added with a grin. "He like PB&J, and BLT - easy on the LT - but I don't think I've ever seen him get more excited than over a bacon double cheeseburger with extra onions. Trust me, you wanna use the bathroom first on the days he gets that."
[img:e7ee19851d]http://i.imgur.com/tqFhSGE.gif[/img:e7ee19851d]
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]

Jo Winchester

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Re: A Little Strife
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2015, 10:37:09 AM »
There was that little stab of jealousy again, but then he was laughing at the mention of the bathroom. "I don't like onions," he declared, sticking his tongue out in distaste. Something else it seemed that had somehow changed over the years. "Or carrots," he added. "But Ellen says they're good for me. My Dad lets me eat whatever I want. He says life is too short." He frowned a little at that, understanding what his father meant by that a little too well.

Jo laughed softly, gently sticking band-aids over his scrapes before rolling his jeans down once again, turning her attention to his hands. She didn't know all the ins and outs, but she understood why he would frown, gently stroking his cheek. "You know what? He's right. For most of us, life is too short. But for some of us, like Ellen and Bobby, it goes on and on, and we get a home and a family of our own, and we get to raise our kids and teach them normal. That's not so bad, is it?"

"No, I guess not. I mean, Dad says people like him do what they do so that other people can have normal lives and families and stuff, but ..." There was that frown again. At seven years old, he certainly didn't have it all figured out yet. "Why's it have to be us? Why not someone else? Why ... Why'd my Mom have to ..." He trailed off, his chin quivering. He'd promised his Dad he wouldn't talk about that. No one seemed to have an answer for that question.

Jo sighed softly, abandoning his hands to gently stroke his hair. "Some questions don't have an answer, sweetie," she told him softly. "It sucks, but we don't always find out why, or how. All we can do is the best we can. As long as we remember the people we lost, they're never really gone." She reached into her pocket, drawing the ever present iron knife from its sheath. There, on the blade, were the initials W.A.H., letters she now knew were more important to her than she could ever have realized. "See this? This was my dad's. He died when I was about your age, doing the best he could, protecting not just his family, but everyone's family." And then he had died again, saving her life when they didn't really know what they were to each other. "It's hard, and it hurts, but you still have family. You have your dad, and Sammy, and you have Bobby and Ellen, and we will get you back to them. I promise."

He didn't understand everything she was telling him. He didn't understand why they had to get him back to Bobby and Ellen when they were right here, but he got the feeling this Bobby and Ellen were somehow different from the ones who knew and loved him. They seemed older somehow, though he couldn't explain it and hadn't had enough time to think it through yet. By morning, he might have it figured out, but right now, he was just a little boy lost and too far from home. He found himself winding his arms around the pretty lady's neck, needing a little more than just words and hoping, even in his own fear and grief, that he could give her a little comfort. "I'm sorry about your father," he whispered, his voice on the verge of tears. He didn't want to cry. He knew big boys didn't cry, but sometimes he just couldn't help it.

"Oh, sweetie." Jo's heart almost broke as the little boy wrapped his arms about her neck, hooking him up from the counter and into her arms as she hugged him, moving to sit down so they could get comfortable. "I'm sorry about your mom," she whispered to him, stroking his hair as they got settled. "But you know what? It's okay to be sad, and it's okay to be afraid. Some things you can't put away; some things you have to feel. And it makes you stronger."

He didn't have to ask if her father was a hunter; he knew instinctively without asking that there was that common link between them, just as there was between his father and Bobby and Ellen and the Dean who had helped save his life. They all belonged to the same club, and they all probably wished they didn't. "Sometimes I just wish ..." he sniffled, precariously still on the verge of tears, afraid to say what was in his heart, knowing it would never come true.

She didn't need to know what he wished. They'd all wished it, at some point; that the one thing that had thrown them onto this path had never happened at all. For Dean, no matter how old, it was the death of his mother, and it always would be. "I know, baby," Jo assured him softly, kissing his hair. "I know."

Something broke inside him - a dam he had kept in place for too long, more for his father and brother's sake maybe than his own - and he was crying as he clung to the pretty lady's neck. He wasn't sure why, but though he hardly knew her, he trusted her. Maybe that was why - because he hardly knew her, because she wasn't expecting or demanding anything from him, other than what he was able to give. Or maybe it was just the simple fact that she was being so nice to him, so kind, and so caring - just like the mother he'd lost. She was even blond like her, and soft and pretty, but she wasn't his mother. No one could ever replace her in his heart, not even Ellen.

Jo held him for as long as he needed her to, murmuring soft soothing nonsense as she rocked the little boy back and forth. She might never tell her own Dean this, but this little boy was still inside him somewhere, still hurting, still reaching out for someone to tell him why and how and what to do. It was that little boy that kept him from turning into a bitter, angry man without a soul to turn to, and she hoped he would never lose that little boy in his heart.

The storm didn't last long, the clouds passing quickly, and the boy's tears subsiding. He sniffled and wiped a grimy hand across his face as he lifted his head from Jo's shoulder. "You won't tell Ellen or Bobby, will you?" he asked in a voice that was still edged with emotion. He hadn't just been crying for his mom, but for himself a little, too. Though he was trying to be brave, his little adventure today had scared the daylights out of him, and he was feeling a little lost and alone, so far from home.

"Cross my heart, I won't tell," she promised him solemnly, smiling at the sight of him wiping his eyes with a grimy hand. "Tell you what, you go and get yourself washed up, and I'll make that sandwich I've been promising you, okay? You know where the bathroom is."

The seven-year-old nodded his head, a faint smile on his face, pleased that the pretty lady would keep his secret from Ellen and Bobby. It wasn't that he was afraid they'd scold him, but that he just didn't want them to fuss over him too much. "And a glass of milk, too?" he asked hopefully. It would be even better if it was chocolate flavor.

Jo chuckled, ruffling his hair as she let him down off her lap. "I'll see what I can do," she promised him, wondering briefly if this was what being a mom was like. Well, she was going to find out in the not so distant future. "Scoot, wash up."

He rewarded her with a bright smile before hurrying off to the bathroom. The house hadn't changed so much in twenty years that he couldn't find that.

Jo couldn't help smiling after him, turning toward the fridge only to jump half out of her skin when she found Apollo standing in the way. "Seriously, could you maybe knock?" she asked, one hand on the rounded swell of her belly as the baby within woke up in reaction to her shock.

Apollo frowned at her thoughtfully. "You called for me," he pointed out.

Jo rolled her eyes. "Bobby called you," she countered. "And that little boy could do without people just popping out of the air right now."

"That little boy is Dean Winchester," Apollo informed her, not seeming to take offense at anything she said as he was hustled out of the way. "Artemis did not have much time - she had to create the portal from a fragment of Chronos' bone."

Jo paused, eying him thoughtfully. "So you can put this right? You can put him back where he belongs?"

Apollo nodded. "It will take a day or so to locate a true bone of Chronos," he told her. "I will inform your husband." And he was gone again.

Jo sighed, rolling her eyes. "Man, he was a lot easier to deal with when I thought he was just a musical drunk."
[img:e7ee19851d]http://i.imgur.com/tqFhSGE.gif[/img:e7ee19851d]
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]

Jo Winchester

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Re: A Little Strife
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2015, 10:37:50 AM »
Meanwhile, outside in the Impala, another Dean Winchester was busy brooding about the situation. It wasn't so much the fact that the kid was here, but that someone - no, Hades and his cronies - had tried to kill him. Him, Dean Winchester - his younger self or some aspect of his younger self that was part of the past of this reality. What kind of monster went around killing innocent kids, even if those same kids would one day grow up to be your enemy? It only made Dean hate Hades all the more, and long for the day when he would kill that son of a bitch.

"You know," Ellen was saying, leaning against the hood next to his open window, "you can sulk and curse and scream all you want, but what it comes down to is that we gotta have somethin' to tell that little you in there when he comes down to earth. He's all sugared up with Jo right now, but sooner or later, he's gonna start asking questions. So what do we tell him?"

"What the hell do you think we tell him? We tell him the truth," Dean replied, a little more irritably than he'd meant to, but it was the situation that annoyed him, not Ellen or her question. "He's not gonna believe anything else anyway. I know I wouldn't." And the kid was him, in a way, just in a smaller, younger version.

"And hope like hell when he goes back he doesn't remember it," the older woman pointed out mildly. Apollo's brief arrival to inform them of what was going on had been quick and to the point. "Bit more warning would have been nice, but I guess even Olympians get caught on the hop now and then. Leastways, we know how he ended up here and now, and we know he's going back to his own time. We just gotta ride it out until then."

"Riding it out isn't the problem," Dean replied, pocketing his keys and climbing out of the car finally. He did his best thinking in there, but now that Ellen was here, there wasn't much point in brooding all by himself.

"Hades is the damned problem," Ellen nodded. She sighed, tucking her hands into her pockets as she considered Dean for a moment. "What's he gonna try next? It's all been based on the past, or the future. What's got him so scared he ain't pushing at us in the here and now? Or maybe this war of theirs is going on where we can't see it."

"I'm gonna kill that son of a bitch," Dean said under his breath as he slammed the driver's side door closed, which wasn't the easiest feat, considering how heavy it was. His baby didn't mind, though - the door just creaked and slammed closed. It would take more than that to hurt her. "Are you kidding? He couldn't get close if he wanted to. He's got something up his sleeve, though," he said, in a manner of speaking, though he doubted Hades actually wore sleeves.

"Yeah, well ... that ain't our problem for now," Ellen pointed out. "Right now, we gotta keep little you safe until he goes home. Harder than it sounds - you always were a squirrelly kid. Number of times I caught you climbing out the window to go help your dad, lost count."

"Yeah, well, my dad's not here, so I doubt we have to worry too much about that." He took a lean against the side of the car and shoved his fingers thoughtfully through his hair, wishing his coffee hadn't gone cold. "I might have been squirrelly, but I wasn't stupid. He knows someone tried to kill him, and he knows he's safe with us. I doubt he's going anywhere."

"So who gets to break the news?" Ellen asked him quietly. She could tell the boy herself, but she wasn't entirely sure he would believe her off the bat. Bobby, too, could break the news. Or they could wait for the kid to put it all together for himself, but that course was likely to result in a runaway.

Dean already knew the answer to that question - he'd known right from the start. It had been one of the things he'd been brooding about. The boy was his responsibility, considering the boy was him. If anyone knew how to put it to his younger self, it was him. "I'll tell him," he volunteered, hoping the kid was old enough he didn't break down in tears. That's all he needed. "You know ..." Dean started, an anguished frown on his face. "It's gonna suck sending him back."

"He's gotta go back, sweetie." The look on Ellen's face was no less anguished than Dean's - moreso, perhaps, because she knew in agonizing detail exactly what that little boy was going to go through. She knew how he would end, him and his brother. "One thing ... don't tell him about his Sam. We just ... we just tell him that Sam's working a case, that's all. We can't tell that little boy the whole truth. It's cruel."

"It's not a lie. Sam's alive in my world, Ellen. At least, he was when ... when I ended up here." Dean's frown deepened, not just because he knew what he was sending his younger self back to, but because he knew he wasn't the Dean that belonged to this world. He wasn't the Dean Ellen and Bobby had raised, or the one they had watched die at Lucifer's hands. He wasn't the one they had loved like a son, and he also knew it was unlikely he'd ever see Sam again. He had accepted all that a long time ago, and yet, that didn't always make it any easier. "I sometimes feel like I traded Sam for Jo," he added. "Don't get me wrong ... I wouldn't change things, but sometimes ..." He just shrugged.

"Sometimes you feel guilty for what you got," she said quietly. "I know, sweetie. Hell, I feel that way myself sometimes. If things had gone the way they were s'posed to, I'd be dead, or a vamp. I wouldn't have had the chance to help raise two lost little boys; I wouldn't have watched them die. And I wouldn't have had you to look over, you and your Jo. I feel guilty sometimes, sure. But what I've got, I'll fight for. Every damn step of the way."

"I know he can't stay here, but I know what he's going back to. You know what he's going back to. Maybe ... maybe we can at least give him a couple good days before he goes back," Dean said, letting Ellen have a peek at his softer side, though she more than likely wasn't too surprised by it. "You and Bobby took good care of ... of that other me. He's going back to a better world than the one I ... the one I came from." Even if that Dean did end up saying yes to Michael. He'd made that choice and had died at Sam's side, both of them heroes. There were worse ways to go than that.
[img:e7ee19851d]http://i.imgur.com/tqFhSGE.gif[/img:e7ee19851d]
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]

Jo Winchester

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Re: A Little Strife
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2015, 10:38:58 AM »
"Coupla good days sounds good," she agreed, smiling a little at his acquiesance to what had to be. This Dean was definitely more of a grown up than the man she had held in her arms as he died a few years ago. "We gotta sit tight until they hunt up a bone anyways. Why not enjoy them, right?" She gently nudged Dean's arm. "Might send him back with a preference for blonds, though. You okay with that?"

Dean snorted at Ellen's suggestion. "You think I didn't have a preference at that age?" Sure, he'd dated - aka slept with - girls with every hair color - blonds, brunettes, redheads - but despite what everyone else might think, he'd always had a secret preference for blonds. Maybe it had started with his mother, but he liked to think it had started with Jo.

She laughed warmly, easing up out of her lean. "C'mon, kid," she told him. "Let's go in. Willin' to bet there's food on the table by now. Your Jo's almost as good in my kitchen as I am." To be honest, it had been Nim who was good in the kitchen, but since regaining her memories, Jo had retained that ability to cook. Dean was definitely enjoying home cooking on a regular basis now.

"Hey, Ellen ..." he started as she pushed out of her lean. From the look on his face, he looked a little reluctant to say what was on his mind, scared even. "You, uh ... I mean ... I know I'm not him, the Dean you lost, and you aren't the same Ellen I knew, but ..." He trailed off again, not quite knowing how to put into words what he was thinking - what he needed to know.

She turned to look at him, a gentle smile on her face. "No, you're not the boy I raised, or the man I knew," she told him. "But that don't mean I don't love you, just as much as I loved him. You're still Dean, honey. You're still family."

He didn't have to tell her that he felt the same, that he'd lay down his life for any of them, though they probably didn't want him to. He loved them all like family, and it seemed that here in this world, on this side of reality, he had far more family than he did back home in his own world, where it was just him and Sam. "Okay, just making sure," he said with a slightly embarrassed smile. "You think Jo would mind making me a sandwich, too?"

"You think she hasn't?" Ellen snorted with laughter that just got louder when Jo's voice called out quite clearly from the house, "Grub's up!" Ellen grinned, clapping Dean on the arm affectionately. "That girl knows you almost better'n you know yourself."

Dean grinned finally. "She does, doesn't she?" he said, and it was him she was in love with, not that other Dean who would one day grow into the man who would sacrifice himself to save the world. The storm cloud that had hovered over the younger Dean had passed, thanks to Jo, and now it seemed she had banished the storm waging in the elder Dean's heart, too, along with a little help from her older and wiser mother. "Let's just hope she doesn't want to adopt me ... him ... whatever ..." Dean laughed at the irony in that, as he and Ellen headed back toward the house together. Whether this was his home or not, Dean belonged here now, just as the younger Dean belonged in his own time and place.

But until they could get him back, they could give him a taste of the family he should have had, and the family they intended to build. Just a couple of days, to be a normal kid. That wasn't too much to ask, was it?

[size=9]((Bet you thought we'd forgotten all about this, dintcha? We didn't! Moving things on a bit!))[/size]
[img:e7ee19851d]http://i.imgur.com/tqFhSGE.gif[/img:e7ee19851d]
[size=9:e7ee19851d][color=darkblue:e7ee19851d][i:e7ee19851d][b:e7ee19851d]Remember the quiet wonders. The world has more need of them than it has for warriors.[/b:e7ee19851d][/i:e7ee19851d][/color:e7ee19851d][/size:e7ee19851d]