Author Topic: A Death Worse Than Fate  (Read 379 times)

Jo Winchester

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A Death Worse Than Fate
« on: September 24, 2016, 09:18:00 AM »
[size=9]June 19th, 2013[/b][/size]

The scene Dean and Sam burst into was horrifying to witness. Jo lay dead on the kitchen floor, her blonde hair matted with her own blood, her throat slit open imprecisely but fatally. Bertie was screaming in his basket, demanding to be soothed in the only way the three-month-old knew how. And Becky ... they had watched her plunge the knife into her stomach, twisting it and casting it aside, falling to the floor as her blood flowed forth to mingle with Jo's own. It was a terrible scene to enter, made all the worse by the lack of any real understanding as to how it had all happened.

They barely had a moment to take it all in before there was a thunderclap of sound, and a person Dean had not seen in more than a year was suddenly there in the kitchen with them. Blonde and tall, silver-eyed and knowing, Aphrodite had not changed at all. She knelt beside Jo, a touch of her hand to the blonde's head healing the vicious gaping wound, but there was no response. The curse that left her lips was Greek, and not at all complimentary. The Olympian looked up at the two men.

"Well, don't just stand there," she snapped. "Summon Apollo, or Ares, or whichever one of your friends is closest. Heal that one -" she pointed to Becky "- and remove her. This one ..." She looked down at Jo, frowning. "That's going to be a little trickier."

To say the scene was chaotic was a bit of an understatement. Neither Sam nor his father had much time to react to what had happened before Aphrodite appeared a little too late to save either woman, but maybe it was better that way. Without Aphrodite's sudden appearance, things might have gone much worse. Sam was pale and clearly shaking, tears of grief and guilt streaming down his face. He went to Becky and cradled her in his arms, but this wasn't the time for grief. If there was any hope of saving either of them, it was the time for action, and he immediately went about summoning Ares, leaving his father to deal with the death of his mother.

Dean looked like he was in a complete state of shock. His worst nightmare was playing out right in front of him - the one thing he had been working to prevent since his arrival in this world. He refused to believe he and Jo had been brought here only for him to watch her die a second time. At least, she wasn't bleeding anymore, but she wasn't responding to Aphrodite's touch either.

"It was Hades," Dean said, without doubt, his eyes never leaving Jo's as he crouched down beside her and took her hand in his. He wasn't sure how, but he knew in his heart that somehow Hades was responsible for Jo's death. Maybe he'd used Becky somehow to do his dirty work for him, but there was no doubt in Dean's mind that Hades was responsible for Jo's death.

"Come on, baby. Come back to us," he coaxed, as he held her hand between his. Of all the things he'd prepared himself for, this wasn't one of them.

As the sound of Ayden's voice rose in the room beyond, no doubt having come with her husband when Sam summoned him, Aphrodite's frown deepened. She laid her hand against Jo's pale forehead, seeking ... seeking what? Whatever it was she was looking for, it wasn't there.

"She's gone, Dean," she said, her voice harsh with anger. Whatever this act had to do with the war, this was a personal affront. She had gone out of her way to interfere in Zeus' spell in the first place, to bring Jo and Dean back together and give them the chance they had been denied in another universe. And now Hades had undone her work.

"We'll bring her back," the Goddess of Love informed him, hard and brittle as diamond in those moments. "Call Apollo. I need to speak to Ares." She rose from where she knelt, leaving Dean with his wife to walk out into the main room and speak to her former lover.

It seemed in that moment like all hope was lost, and yet, Dean had been there before, and he knew nothing was over until it was over. There were greater powers even than Hades, and he wasn't giving up on Jo just yet, not so long as there was even a shred of hope that she could be saved. "She isn't gone," he said, his voice rough with grief, but his words filled with conviction. "I won't let her be gone." Damn straight they were going to bring her back, or someone was going to pay big time. In the meantime, Sam had moved Becky to another room at Ayden and Ares' direction, leaving Dean alone with Jo while Aphrodite joined them.

"I'm not doing this again, Jo. I can't lose you again," Dean said, his voice breaking on those last words. He paused a moment, just to hold her hand and let the tears flow before he remembered Aphrodite's instructions. Call Apollo. What the hell was he going to do? Dean knew in his heart what he had to do, and he knew he was going to have to do it alone. Still, he was going to need all the help he could get. "Apollo! Get your ass down here and explain what's going on!"

In Aphrodite's wake, there was no sound but Becky's voice suddenly raving in the other room, madness turning her normal coherency to utter nonsense, demanding the opportunity to kill and die, as though her soul depended upon it. Ayden was the one to join Dean in the kitchen, automatically picking up the screaming baby to soothe him as she felt herself crying for the loss. Her hand gently touched her brother's shoulder, unable to find words to offer him in the face of such a terrible loss. But there was no need for words.

Despite the injunction against entering the warded house, Apollo managed to break it, stumbling a little as he landed in the kitchen to stare in shock at the scene before him. "What the hell happened?"

It was his sister's hand on his shoulder that finally broke him, but as soon as Dean heard Apollo's voice, he gritted his teeth and let his anger speak for him. "Hades happened. I don't know how, but some ... thing ... possessed that girl and made her do this." It was the only explanation. Even now, Dean wasn't so grief-stricken to think Becky had done this of her own accord. She was raving mad - that much was clear - but how and why? "Maybe you'd like to tell me," Dean replied. Though he knew in his heart Apollo had had nothing to do with Jo's death, all of this had been the fault of the Olympians, one way or another. Hopefully, cooler heads, such as Ayden's, would prevail.

"Girl?" Apollo looked more confused than ever, not least at the harsh way Dean spoke, his eyes rising automatically to meet Ayden's tearful gaze.

"Becky," she explained quietly. "She's ... I don't know what's happened to her. She killed Jo, and she nearly killed herself."

Apollo's frown deepened as he knelt down, his better grasp of healing finding what Aphrodite had missed. "She's still connected," he said thoughtfully. His gaze slid sideways to Dean. "Have you ever heard of Orpheus?"

Dean wasn't as well-read as his brother had been, but he'd learned the Greek Myths inside and out. He hadn't had much choice, all things considered, and he thought he got Apollo's meaning without needing an explanation. "You want me to go to Hell and bargain with Hades for her soul?" he asked, remembering the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice, or at least, the gist of it. "Are you kidding me? That's exactly what Hades wants."
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2016, 09:18:52 AM »
"Who said anything about bargaining?" Aphrodite's voice interrupted. There was silence in the room beyond now - it seemed as though Ares had taken Sam and Becky elsewhere for the time being, probably to protect the girl from herself in her madness. "There are ways to get to the Underworld without attracting our uncle's attention, you know."

Apollo frowned at his sister. "He can't go alone," he pointed out. "Hades would relish the chance to trap his soul. Someone will have to go along to keep the old demon occupied for as long as possible."

"You realize it's a trap," Dean pointed out. "I don't know how, but somehow he made Becky kill Jo knowing I'd stop at nothing to get her back." It was the only explanation that made sense, and it only deepened the hatred Dean already felt for the God of the Underworld. The fact that they were talking about him like he wasn't there wasn't helping matters any. "And you can't go with me," he said, looking to Apollo with an expression that brooked no argument. He's seen firsthand what would happen to the world if anything happened to Apollo, and there were bigger things to consider here than just retrieving Jo's soul.

"Why not?" Apollo demanded immediately, but Ayden was already speaking.

"It might not be a trap, Dean," his sister told him quietly, gently rocking his son against her shoulder as Bertie calmed. "Hades ... he sets plans in motion to happen as pre-emptive revenge for his own death, plans that he knows he will never see happen. But has he ever done anything that suggests he's thinking beyond the immediate reward? What if this is more to do with pleasing himself, than with hurting you?"

"Are you saying this isn't personal?" Dean said, eyes flashing with anger as he looked to his sister, but the rage in his eyes wasn't directed at her so much as at Hades. "Are you gonna try and tell me he's not to blame for all this? He took Jo from me. He's responsible for her death, and if that isn't personal, I don't know what is."

Ayden knelt beside her brother, looking into his eyes, showing him the proof in her own gaze that he was not the only one hurting over the damage done to their family. "I didn't say he wasn't to blame," she said, her voice firm but quiet. "But think about it, Dean. You took his mate, his wife, his queen, away from him. He couldn't touch Jo before now because she was pregnant and because she was a new mother. They used Becky to do it. But Apollo says Jo isn't dead, she's just not here. So what does Hades think he can do with her soul in the Underworld that means she would think any differently of him when her soul comes back to her body? An eye for an eye, perhaps?"

Dean thought long and hard about what his sister was telling him, but it didn't make him any less angry. In fact, it only made him hate Hades more. He'd started this war, not Dean, and while he wasn't happy about Persephone's death, he believed it was Hades who was to blame for it. Who had thrown the first stone, drawn the first blood? Did it even matter anymore? "That just makes it even more personal," Dean replied, but he'd gotten his sister's drift. "Call Ellen and tell her and Bobby to get over here," he told his sister, as he very gently scooped Jo's lifeless body up into his arms. No one was going to touch her but him.

"I will," Ayden promised him, easing back as he lifted his wife into his arms.

Apollo rose with him, offering one last suggestion. "Somewhere with space for a fight," he suggested. "If we do this, Hades will be right on your tail when you get back."

"When, not if, and you're not coming with me," Dean told the Olympian, though his voice had softened some, no longer sounding angry at least where that particular Olympian was concerned. Apollo had been briefed after Dean's return from the future, hence, he didn't think any further explanation was needed. Someone would accompany him, but it wouldn't be Apollo and not Ares either. That said, Dean started toward the library with Jo cradled in his arms.

He was not disturbed as he bore Jo's body through the house, the sounds of preparations around him barely making an impact. The sound of Ellen and Bobby arriving were unmistakable, however. No one could miss Ellen making an appearance.

"You, young woman, need to go and be with your husband," the older woman was saying, ignoring any and all complaints Ayden was offering. "If Hades is coming into this house, no expectant mother will be here for it. Take Bertie with you, so he's safe; you can bring him back later. You, Miss Snooty ... take her someplace safe."

There was a long pause, and finally Aphrodite spoke. "I beg your pardon?"

Dean was relieved to hear Ellen's voice radiating through the house. As much as his heart ached, he was confident she'd take charge and have things under control in a heartbeat. He knew his son was already missing his mother, but if they ever wanted to see Jo again, he had to focus his energy on how to get her back. He chose the library as the best place for a final showdown. Though it might not offer much in the way of comfort for Jo, it was fairly easy to defend and roomy enough for a fight.

Bobby was sent his way, to help prepare the space, as Ellen corralled the troops in the main room of the house, overriding any and all protests and arguments. Even the Olympians gave way eventually, with Aphrodite huffily keeping out of Ellen's way to summon someone in her own time as Apollo took Ayden and Bertie to Greece for the time being. When, finally, it seemed as though everything was under control, Ellen came to the door of the library, her jaw clenching at the sight of the lifeless form laid reverently on the desk. In her hand was the Hind's Blood Dagger.

"We're all set to go here," she said calmly. "Dean, you got a choice who you want to go with you. Miss Snooty out there, or Apollo's sister, the Huntress. They both volunteered."

"What if this doesn't work?" Dean asked quietly, as he stood beside Jo, unable to tear his eyes away from her deathly pale, too-still features. This was a question he wouldn't have dared ask anyone but Ellen. Though she might not be his blood, she was the closest thing to a mother he had ever known since childhood, and he trusted her advice and her opinion above all others.

Gently closing the door behind her, Ellen moved over to him, wrapping her arm about his shoulders. She didn't want to consider this admittedly haphazard plan not going as they needed it to, but she understood that he needed to ask. "Then we'll find a way to go back and change things. Your kids did it; you can do it, too." She sighed softly. "Look, I'm not happy about trusting them, either," she assured him in her matter-of-fact way. "But the fact remains that Apollo's never done us a bad turn, and he's the one says she's still alive, just not in her body. So you go and get her, and bring her back to her body, and we'll beat the ever-living crap out of anyone who tries to bust in here uninvited."
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2016, 09:19:27 AM »
"I can't lose her again, Ellen," Dean said, despite everything she was telling him. He knew all that already anyway. He knew she was trying to give him some hope, and hope was something they all badly needed. His voice was uncharacteristically quiet and there were tears in his eyes as he took Jo's cold and lifeless hand in his. She appeared as if she was dead, and he knew that time was of the essence if they wanted to save her.

"She's not lost yet." And despite everything that was happening, the evidence before her eyes, Ellen believed that was so. She refused to believe otherwise; that this was the end for Jo, and that they would never meet the children that should come to them in the years ahead. She squeezed Dean's shoulder firmly. "Snap out of it, kiddo. You've got a rescue to do, and you still have to choose who you're taking with you."

"I'm taking Artemis," Dean informed her without hesitation. The choice made sense. Artemis was a hunter, like him, and she'd already earned his trust on more than one occasion. He wiped a hand across his face to dry his tears and turned to face the woman who had been Jo's mother in his own world. "Tell Sam I don't blame Becky. I'm not sure what happened, but I have a feeling it's not her fault."

"Let's deal with that after this is sorted out," Ellen suggested, patting his back gently. She moved to open the door. "Artemis, you're up. Snooty, stay put - I got questions."

Artemis stepped in through the door, smirking at the outraged noise that came from behind her at Ellen's method of speaking to Aphrodite. She was tall and short-haired, her silver eyes bright in her face; dressed in modern clothing, true, but with a wiry look that suggested she was more than capable of looking after herself. In one hand, she held a small vial half-filled with something clear.

"We will retrieve your wife, Dean," she promised him faithfully.

Despite everything, even Dean couldn't help but smirk just a little at Ellen's nickname for Aphrodite. He had Aphrodite to thank for giving him Jo back, but what he needed was someone who knew how to fight and had no compunctions about doing so. He wasn't sure what they were going to find when they got there, but he wasn't expecting it to be easy. "Damn straight we will," Dean said in complete agreement with Artemis. He wasn't coming back without Jo, no matter the cost.

Artemis raised the vial, offering it to him. "These are the tears of Achlys," she told him, as straightforward as any of the hunters she watched over. "Known as Death's Tears. If you drink this, your soul will leave your body, and I will be able to guide it to the Underworld. No mortal body can enter the Underworld without Hades' knowledge, and the moment he knows you're coming, he'll destroy her rather than allow you to save her." Moving over to the desk, she touched gentle fingers to Jo's hair. "There is a line, a thread, connecting her soul to her body. You and I will follow it, and you will use it to guide her back here. Her body is healed; there is no danger in doing it this way. Hades will follow you - how quickly, I do not know. I have never fought him face to face before."

Dean took the vial from her, instinctively lifting it to his nose to take a sniff, though he'd certainly imbibed of worse things than this. "What happens when we get there?" he asked, knowing Hades wouldn't let Jo go easily, whatever his plans for her.

"We'll know better when we see what he is doing with her soul," Artemis told him, unprepared to lie or pretend she had all the answers. "You will have to release her, somehow, from whatever torment he is inflicting on her. I will ... distract him." She flashed him a wicked little smirk; it looked as though the Huntress was looking forward to this fight a little too much.

"Distract him how?" Dean asked, unwilling to go into this without some inkling of how it was going to go down. He knew the best laid plans had a habit of going awry, but even so, it was better to know what to expect in advance.

"I'm a hunter, Dean," the Olympian said cheerfully. "I intend to shoot him from cover, and see what happens. If I can make him hunt me through his own Underworld, then you will have the time you need. If he won't hunt me, I'll attack him. I'm not a very subtle kind of person."

"Neither am I," he replied. He had a feeling that Aphrodite might have been a little more subtle in her distraction of Hades, but Dean didn't care. His goal was to bring Jo home, and that was all that mattered. If they managed to lure Hades into a trap and finish him off now, all the better. He was getting anxious to be finished with this whole business. "Tell me something," he said as he eyed the liquid in the vial once more. "Did Aphrodite really bring us here to give us another chance or was she hoping we'd get involved in this little war of yours?" His tone wasn't accusatory or blaming. By mention of the war, he was referring to Olympians in general, though it seemed to him the war was mainly between those who were allied with Zeus or Hades.

Artemis was quiet for a moment. "I told Zeus that if humanity was going to survive a war between us, they would need a champion. Hera brought your name into the conversation, something I think Ares may have planted in her mind. Athena was against it from the start, of course. The intention was always to bring you here, with the support of someone who loved you. We were expecting it to be your brother. Aphrodite claimed the credit for it being Jo."

Dean frowned at the mention of his brother. He and Sam had died in this world taking Lucifer and Michael with them, but it hadn't happened that way where he'd come from and as far as he knew, Sam was still alive and well in their world. "It wouldn't have worked, if it had been Sam," Dean said, a hint of sadness in his voice at that realization. It had taken him a few years to realize it, but while he adored his baby brother, they had always been each other's biggest weakness. Now that he didn't have to worry about protecting his little brother, Dean could live up to his greatest potential. He only hoped his little brother was living up to his own greatest potential, as well.

"I can understand that," Artemis said thoughtfully, glancing at him with sympathetic humor in her eyes. "I have a brother, too."

"All right, folks, let's get this show on the road," Ellen announced, pushing her way into the library with Bobby trailing in her wake. "Hop up there, drink the brew, and let's get your girl back."

"The brew that is true?" Dean asked, just a hint of his usual humor shining through, despite the circumstances. He looked to Jo, refusing to believe she was dead. No, she was more like a sleeping princess, and he was the prince hoping to rescue her from an evil spell and wake her with a kiss. He touched a kiss to her brow, alarmed at how cold she had grown. "I'll be there in a bit, baby," he whispered to her, though he knew she couldn't hear him where she was now.

Ellen bit back the urge to cry, knowing a little of how he must be feeling. She had watched another Dean grieve for a love killed in a fight that wasn't hers, and it had almost broken him. She refused to admit that it could happen again this time. "Get up there," she told him, jerking her head for Bobby to put Death's Scythe into Dean's hand. "We'll be here, waiting for him to follow you. Just you get her back."
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2016, 09:20:03 AM »
"I will," he told her, refusing to believe he would fail, and if he did, they'd find another way. Now that he had Jo back, he wasn't going to let her go so easily as he had once before. There was no time for mushy farewells, and even if there were, he knew Ellen and Bobby would rather he were brave. "Be ready," he told them both as he laid himself down beside Jo, too cold beside him. Death's Scythe was heavy and all too familiar in Dean's hands.

"Don't you worry. We'll give him one hell of a fight, boy," Bobby assured him, which was about as sentimental as the older man was going to get.

Ellen nodded, stepping back to stand beside her husband, as ready for a fight as he was, though neither of them could promise to be able to kill an Olympian without severe injury to themselves in the process. Artemis watched them quietly, waiting with the patience of a hunter for the moment when Dean's soul would leave his body and allow her to take him to the Underworld.

"Bottoms up," Dean muttered before tossing back the potion in the vial Artemis had given him. It wasn't the worst-tasting stuff he'd ever had, but it wasn't exactly pleasant either. That done, he handed Bobby the vial and laid back his head, ready for the worst. There was no preparing for a trip to the Underworld, and even if there was, he couldn't be sure what to expect.

It wasn't spectacular, that much was for sure. For a long moment, it seemed as though nothing was happening. Then a deep heaviness settled over his body, a sensation of movement even though he wasn't moving, and Artemis reached out, her hand passing into his mortal form to take hold of his soul and pull him forth, unseen by the people he loved.

"Are you ready?" she asked, ignoring the confusion on Bobby and Ellen's faces.

It was a strange sensation, to be sure, but it wasn't the first time Dean Winchester had died prematurely or forced his own death in order to accomplish some goal. There were some who probably thought he was a little bit crazy, but as the old saying goes, there was a method to his madness. He felt strange, almost weightless for a moment, until Artemis spoke, reminding him he wasn't really dead - not yet.

"Ready as I'll ever be," he replied. The thought of traveling to the Underworld wasn't a pleasant one, seeing as how he'd already been to Hell, but he had a feeling he was going to find the Underworld a very different place.

"Then brace yourself."

As his soul took form, she gripped his shoulder, and the world went white. When the brightness faded, they were in a strange, shadowy place, filled with darkness, illuminated only by the flicker of torches that burned with a sickly green light. The air was filled with the muted cries of souls in torment. Artemis shuddered, looking around them.

"Tartarus," she said in disgust. "Of course he would be here, rather than any other of his realms." Glancing about, she gestured ahead of them, to where a glowing line of silver blue stretched out ahead of them. "Your wife's thread," she told him. "We should follow it."

Dean had to close his eyes against the brightness, which was in stark contrast to the darkness that followed. He mirrored Artemis' shudder, mostly at the hopeless cries of the souls in torment. Once upon a time, he had been one of those souls, and though it had been a different time and place, the horror of it had been burned upon his soul so that he'd never forget it. "Why here?" he asked, hoping to God - if He even still existed - that Jo wasn't one of the souls in torment.

"He's become darker, more twisted, since we were last in the cycle," Artemis shrugged, moving to follow the thread. Here, in this place, she was no longer garbed as a modern woman; here, she wore leather armor, soft boots, and was armed with daggers, and a bow and arrows. "His throne used to be in a realm of its own. Now, it would seem, he prefers to be among the tormented."

Dean might not know much about the Underworld, but he knew from his studies that Tartarus was the deepest and darkest of Hades' realms. It would be the hardest to find, and the hardest to escape from if anyone - like them - was foolish enough to dare go there uninvited. Dean made no comment on Hades' preference regarding the location of his throne. It didn't much matter to him where it was so long as they left with Jo. If he had any ideas why the God of the Underworld might prefer this realm over others, he kept it to himself. "I've always wondered how Zeus ended up with Olympus and Hades ended up here. I know what the legends say, but I mean, what's the real story? I can't say I much blame him for being angry at drawing the short straw."

Artemis smirked faintly. "I wasn't born then," she told him, "but I know the real story, as you call it. Hades didn't choose sides in the fight against the Titans. Zeus and Poseidon did; they sided with the angels and the demons against their own parents, because they loved humanity. But when the fighting was over, and the angels had been cast down, Hades demanded an equal share in the ruling of the world. So Zeus and Poseidon suggested that he have the portion that contained the most souls." She flickered a grin toward Dean. "He was too greedy to think about it properly, or he would have realized that meant the realms of the dead. He snatched at what he saw as a great prize, and has resented it ever since. But it was his own stupidity that put him here."

"That sucks for him, I guess," Dean remarked. One stupid mistake, and Hades had made himself the self-proclaimed Ruler of the Dead. He didn't exactly feel sorry for him, but it helped him understand him a little better.

"He was allowed to keep Persephone more out of pity for him than any bargain that was struck," Artemis added. "None of us believed she would ever love him, and yet she did. There is something of the noble in him, still, though it may have been utterly destroyed by her death. I do not know this being who is my uncle, Dean. I can no more understand him than you can." She paused, laying a hand on his arm. "When you retrieve Jo, you must follow her thread back to this point. Make sure you are holding onto her when you get here. When she reaches the end of her thread, she will be thrown back into her body. If you are not in contact with her at that point, you will be trapped here - there is no thread for you to follow."

"Don't worry. I have no intention of staying here any longer than I have to," he assured her, touched by her concern, even if he didn't let her know it. He paused a moment before continuing. "You realize we're probably gonna have to kill him ... unless you can come up with a better idea," he said, feeling she at least deserved to know that, considering how she was helping them. It didn't matter much to Dean either way what happened to Hades, so long as his family was safe and the world wouldn't burn under his rule, but he thought Artemis might feel differently.

"If I can kill him here and save you the trouble, I will," was the surprising response to his honesty. Silver eyes found his calmly. "I am the Watcher, the Huntress. I preside over all hunters. Hades has harmed those I pride myself on watching over. If I can end him and save that task falling to one of my own, then I will. If not ... it will fall to you and yours to do it."
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2016, 09:20:38 AM »
"I would rather do it with your blessing than without it," he told her. After all, he thought it would be far more beneficial for him to remain in her good graces than the alternative.

She paused, holding his gaze for a long moment. "If it falls to you, or to anyone else, to take his life, there will be no punishment from us for it," she promised him. "I will stand as your defender if any of my kin should suggest otherwise, and I know that others will, too. So long as he lives, he endangers humanity, and I, for one, will not allow that to continue."

Dean nodded his head to acknowledge that he understood what she was saying and appreciated her support. "Just so long as we understand each other. I wish there was another way, but I'm not sure we have a choice. I've seen firsthand what he's capable of, and I won't stand by while the world burns."

She nodded to him, glancing into the shadows ahead of them. "Be wary, while you are here," she warned him. "You will see torments, and the tormented. Do not touch them, or you will take their place. Compassion is a dangerous thing in Tartarus."

"I already did my time in Hell, but thanks for the warning," Dean replied, more than a little anxious about being there and eager to leave, just as soon as they found Jo. "So, what's the deal with this place, anyway? What have they done that they've earned an eternity of torment?"

"Tartarus is the deepest level of the Underworld," the Huntress told him, leading the way as the shadows around them began to deepen and take shape. "As far beneath Hades as Hades is beneath Earth. The worst are sent here to suffer, or be imprisoned. This is the only prison that will hold the Titans. I do not know how they are judged, or why this is their torment, but there are far fewer human souls in Tartarus than in any other level of the Underworld."

"Forever is a long time, don't you think?" he asked, though he had no way of knowing the crimes those imprisoned here might be guilty of, nor had she mentioned any time frame with regard to their imprisonment. He knew enough about Hell, though, to know Tartarus was merely the Olympians' version of the same thing.

"Is it any different to the angels and their Hell?" Artemis asked, genuinely curious. "This is the order as I know it. I have never condemned anyone to Tartarus myself, I do not know quite what it takes. The only one I know of who is here who may well deserve it is Sisyphus."

"Try saying that ten times fast," Dean murmured to himself in regard to the former King of Ephyra's tongue-twister of a name. "Anyway, we're arguing semantics. When this is all over, you can give me a proper history lesson."

She chuckled softly. "Perhaps. But I would rather look to the future, and avoid making the same mistakes again. Wouldn't you?" Before he could answer, however, she laid a hand against his chest, gesturing for him to step into the shadows with her as the ground rumbled beneath them. Something was coming.

"Of course, but ..." He trailed off as she silenced him with a hand, and he followed her into the shadows, his blood running cold at the knowledge that they were no longer alone. Whatever he'd been about to say would have to wait until later. It was just as well. He was eager to find Jo and get the hell out of here, and the sooner the better.

Whatever it was that walked by them, it was not human. Possessed of 50 heads and 100 arms, all of them bearing a weapon, it was definitely not something either one of them wanted to cross. But Artemis was not the Huntress for nothing. A good hunter could hide just as well as any prey they sought, after all. It was only when the thing was well past and gone that she gave the signal for them to continue on their journey.

"What the hell was that?" Dean whispered, once the thing had passed, leaving them to continue their journey. Whatever the thing was, it looked like something straight out of a horror movie.

"One of the Hekatonkheires," she said quietly, rising to her feet to continue on their way, further into the choking shadows as the sounds of torment grew louder around them. "The guardians of Tartarus. There are three of them, and they are all but impossible to kill. Thankfully, they are loyal to Zeus."

"That's comforting for you, but I'm not so sure they'd think twice about stomping on me," he said, relieved the thing had passed them by, though he had a feeling they had a long way to go still before they found Jo. "I kinda feel like Ulysses on his Odyssey."

"It isn't going to take you that long to get home," Artemis promised him. "Watch your step from here on in ... the pit has many openings." As she spoke, the shadows around them took true form, and they found themselves in the midst of a strangely mountainous landscape, gloomy and oddly bustling with the souls of those in torment.

Dean frowned, clenching his jaw as memories of Hell washed over him, making him shudder. This place was different from the Hell he had known, but no less horrific. He heeded her advice, taking care as he followed her through the gloomy landscape full of tortured souls.

Thankfully, there was no need to cross paths with Cerberus - Hades' guard dog prowled the banks of the rivers in the higher realms. But it was bad enough. The thread wound between pits that alternated between utter darkness and flame, between souls in torment for their crimes in life. They saw Ixion on his flaming wheel, and Sisyphus rolling his rock up a steep mountain side, and many others besides them. But slowly, the sounds of torment began to fade, and Artemis became tense, alert for anything. Jagged rocks rose ahead of them, and it was into those rocks that the thread of Jo's life wound its way.

"In there is the throne of Hades," the Huntress whispered to Dean. "I do not know how many others may be in there with them."

Under other circumstances, Dean might have been awed by the sights as they passed; after all, it wasn't every day that you got to witness Greek legends up close and personal, but that wasn't why he was here. He was here to find Jo's soul and return her safely to her body, and that was all. He did have one more question, though. "What happens if we kill Hades?" he asked, wondering what would happen to this place and who would take the Olympian's place as its ruler.

"Tartarus is not just a place," she told him softly. "It is a being, primordial, one of three. Gaia, Chaos, and Tartarus. It will always be, no matter what happens to the one who rules over it. When Hades dies, the other realms of the Underworld will devolve into the realms that humanity knows best - heaven and hell, I would guess - and Tartarus will be sealed for all eternity."

"Which means no one gets in and no one gets out," Dean theorized aloud. It sucked for those who'd been imprisoned here, but at least, no one else would be have to suffer beneath Hades' rule. "Chaos is a place?" he asked further, a little belatedly.

"Chaos is the birthplace of everything that ever was and will ever be," the Huntress said, her voice calm, but it was clear that even talking about such primordial forces was almost frightening to her. "Chaos is what came before, and what will come after." She ducked off the trail, away from the direction the thread was leading, and into the maze of rocks, gesturing for him to follow her.
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2016, 09:21:08 AM »
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," Dean murmured again, though he wasn't too sure who or what had come first. It wasn't so much a question of the chicken or the egg as it was a question of Creation. Had the Bible gotten it right or not? Death had once claimed that even God would be reaped one day, but Dean wasn't so sure about that. If there even was a God. He paused as she turned away from the thread. "Why are we going that way?"

She met his gaze with solemn eyes. "Listen." In the shifting sound of the shadowy darkness around them, there were voices to be heard, voices that would grow clearer the closer they got. They no longer needed the thread to find their way to Jo, and approaching from a different direction was a sounder tactic than simply walking into danger.

Dean didn't need to be told whose voices those were; he would have recognized Jo's voice anywhere. It figured that she was likely talking to Hades, but what he really wanted to know was what was being said, and the closer they got, the angrier he became. Jo was his wife, and he figured the only reason Hades had brought her here was to make Dean feel the same grief Hades felt when they'd killed Persephone.

Unfortunately for Hades, it sounded as though Jo was giving him more grief than Dean was feeling. She was certainly strident, her voice growing clearer the closer the two hunters crept through the jagged rocks, until they found themselves well hidden but able to see Hades' throne. The King of the Underworld was seated on the dark stone throne, rubbing his temple with one hand as Jo's voice rose in fury from where she was chained to the rock wall beneath him.

"... and another thing," she was declaring, "what the hell do you expect to gain from this, huh? You seriously think anyone is ever going to forgive you for this? You think I am ever going to forgive you for what you've done to my husband, to my son? You're nothing but a turd on my shoe, and no amount of presents or pretty dresses is ever going to change that!"

As angry as he was, Dean had to stifle his own laughter at the scolding Jo was giving Hades. The Olympian looked like he just might have bitten off more than he could chew, and Dean couldn't help wondering if he regretted bringing her here. If he'd been hoping for a docile bride, he sure as hell was finding out how wrong he'd been.

"Your wife has an arresting voice," Artemis murmured under her breath, her silver eyes studying the area around the throne. What few guards there were seemed to be hybrids, likely the only beings Hades could consider loyal to himself at this point in time. Carefully, she unsheathed one of her daggers, handing it to Dean. "Hephaestus forged my weapons, they will break those chains at one blow. And they will kill hybrids. Wait until Hades has left this place before you break cover."

"What if he takes her with him?" he asked, murmuring quietly back, though it didn't seem likely. Hades had Jo chained to a wall and guarded by hybrids - an escape didn't seem very likely.

Artemis flashed him a wicked smirk. "He's going to be a little too busy to care," she assured Dean with a nod. One hand squeezed his shoulder gently. "Remember ... wait until he leaves this place before you break cover. I will keep him occupied as long as I can, but I cannot make promises as to how long that will be. If you have a choice between running or fighting ... run." She eased up onto the balls of her feet, moving further into the darkness of the rocks, to find the best place from which to launch her attack. Quite why none of the Olympians had attacked Hades here before wasn't immediately obvious, but then, Dean was one of the few mortals who knew the truth. It was all about the souls.

Dean nodded his understanding. As much as he'd like to shove the dagger into Hades himself or take down a few of his pets, the only thing that was really important was getting Jo's soul out of here and returning her to her body. If Hades was foolish enough to follow, then maybe Dean would get a chance to kill him; but for now, he had to focus on rescuing Jo. "I don't need long," he assured her, or at least, he hoped not.

Below him, Jo was still in full voice, listing her opinions of Hades, his minions, his policies, his actions, and even his personal appearance in debilitating detail. She was enough of a distraction all on her own, though not if you considered that getting her out of there was the aim here. Artemis disappeared into the rocks, moving silently until Dean could no longer see her, or hear her. He had to wait for her to be ready, and that wait was almost interminable. Until, quite suddenly and without warning, an arrow flashed from the darkness on the far side of the throne to plunge deep into Hades' chest.

The God of the Dead roared in pain and anger, arching up from where he sat even as he snapped the arrow shaft with one hand. "Where are you?" he thundered. "How dare you attack me here? Come out and fight!"

Yet his only answer was the sound of girlish laughter that seemed to come from all around him. Snarling, Hades drew his spear from where it rested against his throne, some instinct unknown to mortals allowing him to block the next arrow as it shot toward him from the darkness.

"Guard her," he commanded the hybrids around him, pointing at a now dumbstruck Jo. "Artemis! The hunter becomes the hunted!"

Artemis' laughter echoed back to him once again, enraging Hades further as he plunged from his throne and into the darkness of the mountainous peaks that surrounded that place, every footstep a crack of thunder that shook the realm around him.

Dean hoped Artemis knew what she was doing, and he also hoped she'd evade Hades' desire for revenge, but he knew this was the chance he'd been waiting for, and he knew he didn't have much time. In hopes of distracting the hybrids long enough to get to Jo, Dean picked up a rock and tossed it in the opposite direction of where he was hiding, hoping to draw their attention there if only for a moment so he could get to Jo.

The clatter the rock made seemed very loud in the silence that remained in the wake of Hades' anger, loud enough that the hybrids were unnerved by the sound. Of the six that stood guard, three moved to investigate the sound, disappearing into the darkness together. And, of course, Jo took the opportunity to kick the nearest of the three that remained squarely in the balls, just to see what would happen.

Dean wasn't sure the hybrids had balls, but he appreciated his wife's efforts. Wasting no more time, he climbed out from the rocks where he and Artemis had been hiding, brandishing the Goddess of the Hunt's dagger in one hand. Hoping to catch the hybrids off guard, he didn't bother waiting for them to attack him, plunging the dagger into the closest one's back, as silent as an assassin.
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2016, 09:21:52 AM »
Well, Jo had certainly got their attention, and that definitely helped. As the first hybrid fell, the others were slow to react, turning toward Dean in confusion. Jo's foot tripped the one nearest to her just before he got out of reach, buying her husband a little more time to deal with the second.

Like he'd told Artemis, time was something Dean didn't need much of - not when it came to killing hybrids, anyway. They were terrifying up close and personal, but they were also lumbering and clumsy and a little slow to react, and Dean had the advantage this time. Not only did he have the advantage of surprise, but he had a weapon that was sure to draw blood. With a flick of the wrist, he slashed the throat of the second hybrid and shoved it out of his way so he could get to Jo.

"It's about time," his lovely wife informed him, planting her foot in the backside of the last hybrid to give it a healthy shove in his direction. "I was beginning to run out of insults."

"You talk like it was easy finding my way here. Besides, I was enjoying the show," he said, even as he hacked at the chains with the Huntress' knife. It wasn't exactly like slicing through butter, but it didn't take much effort before the chains clanged to the floor, freeing Jo from her bondage.

"Oh, you like Hades' taste in clothes, huh?" she asked a little pointedly, gesturing to the diaphanous gown she'd been put in. She glanced down at the three bodies. "So ... what now?"

"I meant the insults," Dean clarified, as the chains fell away. It wasn't that he hadn't  noticed the gown, but he didn't want to think about the God of the Underworld trying to seduce his wife. He wondered what it was Persephone had seen in him, but there wasn't any time to think about that now. "Now, if you pardon the pun, we get the hell out of here," he told her, taking her by the hand. "Follow me. We don't have much time."

"Running it is, then." Jo wasn't going to argue. She'd had just about enough of Hades and his Underworld, thank you very much, and Dean's appearance had definitely come as no surprise. She'd known he'd come for her, even if they had promised each other not to do just that if the worst happened. It wasn't a promise either one of them could keep, and they both knew it. Her hand in his, she ran alongside him, out from the mountainous peaks that surrounded Hades' throne, and into the torments of Tartarus. "So ... is that really Artemis shooting at him?"

Like a hero in a romance novel, he might have liked to have scooped her up into his arms or maybe over his shoulder, carried her from this place, and let her reward him with kisses, but that wasn't very practical. Instead, he tugged her along behind him as he followed the thread that would lead them back from the Underworld and that connected her soul to the body that was awaiting her return. "Yeah, I had to choose between Aphrodite and Artemis, and I thought she'd be more help. I don't have time to explain now."

"Let me guess ... don't look back, huh?" Jo might almost have laughed at the cliche, but for the sudden, unmistakable roar of fury from behind them. Hades had either broken off his hunt, or killed Artemis, but either way, he knew his prize was missing. "Time to pick up the pace!"

"Yes, ma'am!" Dean replied, not needing to be told twice. Maybe he should have hoisted her over his shoulder, after all, but Jo was no wilting damsel. She was a hunter in her own right, and carrying her would only slow him down. "Follow the thread!" he quickly instructed, without time to explain properly. "And don't look back!" he added, just for good measure.

Determination and fear of what was coming after them was more than enough to add speed to Jo's feet, defying the thin soles of the sandals she wore to keep pace with Dean despite the difference in their heights. The sound of thundering footsteps was definitely behind them - far enough not to be of immediate concern, but definitely not far enough to make this a less than hair-raising flight. They passed the tormented souls, barely hearing the weak cheers as those in torment recognized souls defying Hades himself in flight. Out from the pits, and into the shadowy gloom beyond, to the place where the thread ended. Without needing to be told, Jo took a tighter hold on Dean's hand, closing her eyes as they rushed to the end of the thread, and the world around them went white.

Back to the world of the living, but Dean knew Hades was hot on their heels, and despite their precautions, he just might come through with them. Dean's soul slammed back into his own body almost too quickly for him to realize that they were free from the Underworld.

Jo's eyes shot open as she gasped, dragging in a harsh breath in the first moment her soul re-entered her body.

"Oh, thank God," Ellen declared, moving toward the desk where they lay, but there was no time for welcomes. Jo's eyes turned to Dean for one terrified second, and she rolled directly off the desk and underneath it. After all, she wasn't exactly armed to face an Olympian.

Dean's eyes snapped open almost at the exact time as Jo's, and he realized with relief that they were home, but they weren't out of danger yet. "Get down!" he shouted, even as Jo was rolling off the desk to hide beneath it. "Take this," he told her as he handed her Artemis' blade before clutching Death's Scythe in his hands. If Hades did somehow manage to follow them there, he'd soon find out it was a trap.

Artemis' dagger found its way into Jo's hand as she landed beneath the desk, with Ellen pushing the Hind's Blood Dagger into Bobby's hand to draw the Colt from her belt as the two older hunters backed up to leave room. Though the house was warded, Hades could follow the wake left by Jo's thread a while longer, and as the ground began to tremble, it seemed he was doing just that.

"I hope you know what you're doing," Ellen muttered, glancing at her husband in concern.

Bobby wasn't sure if Olympians were one of the five things the Colt couldn't kill. He and Dean had debated it on countless occasions over a bottle of Hunter's Helper, but they'd never come to any definite conclusion. If Olympians were on the list, then Ellen was the most vulnerable of the group, but Bobby had a feeling they were only there as backup.

Dean hoped Artemis had escaped the Underworld alive, but he couldn't think about that now either. "I've got this," he assured his family, gripping his weapon tighter. He'd waited long enough for this moment, and this time, they weren't going to fail.

Hades' arrival was as spectacular as their own had not been. In a flash of light, thunder seemed to break through the entire room with a force that knocked Ellen off her feet, saving her from the sweep of the spear as the Olympian materialized in the library with them, already wielding his weapon. "You will not take my revenge from me!"
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2016, 09:22:43 AM »
"She's not your revenge. She's my wife," Dean pointed out, stepping forward, not only to shield the others, but to challenge Hades. "You started this, not us. Your minions attacked us at the church, remember? Or have you forgotten already?" Dean prodded, though that was only one the tip of the iceberg, as far as Dean was concerned.

"Better for you if you had been left dead," Hades snarled, raising his spear to sweep at Dean once again.

Unseen under the desk, Jo narrowed her eyes, took very careful aim ... and sliced the Olympian's hamstring clean through. Hades roared in pain, dropping down onto one knee, already bleeding from several wounds inflicted by Artemis.

He leaned heavily on his spear, scowling at Dean. "End it, then," he spat venomously. "See how long my brothers remain your friends."

For just a moment, Dean felt a stab of sympathy for the Olympian. It seemed a shame to kill someone who was supposed to be immortal. Then again, he?d never had any compunction about killing immortals before. Was he going soft in his old age? Still, this wasn?t just about vengeance. Not anymore. Dean had seen what would happen if Hades won, and he couldn?t take that chance. This was their chance to finish it, and he wasn?t going to blow it. Not this time. It wasn?t just a matter of his family?s survival, but that of all humanity.

?I have a feeling your brothers will thank me,? he replied at last, swinging Death?s Scythe around to drive the blade into the Olympian?s chest, right where his heart should be. Though he wasn?t entirely sure Zeus and Poseidon would be pleased with their brother?s death, he?d worry about that later. He only hoped Artemis had not become another of Hades? victims. It would be a shame to lose such a valuable ally and friend, but at least, Jo was safe.

For just a moment, as the blade stuck deep and true, a look of grateful peace crossed Hades' face. No more wars, no more deaths, no more responsibility. No more life without his beloved Persephone. Then the universe caught on. The ground shook violently, the sky darkened, and within one house on the outskirts of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a minor explosion of energy blasted through one room, flattening everything in its path and blowing the door clean off its hinges. Yet just as suddenly, everything was still. The only sound was that of a body falling heavily to the floor, and the groans of those who had been caught too close to a dying God.

Dean wasn't sure what he was expecting when he shoved Death's Scythe into the Olympian's chest, but it sure wasn't a minor explosion, which knocked him over the desk before it slammed into the wall behind him. Dazed, it took him a moment to realize that he and Jo were wedged together between the desk and the wall. Somehow in all the confusion, he'd lost his grip on the blade, though it was more than likely still sticking out of Hades' chest. He was vaguely aware of an ache where his head must have hit the desk or the wall, but otherwise, he seemed unharmed. "You okay?" he asked, turning to find Jo close beside him.

"Uh ..." It was more of a groan than a word, but it proved she was still alive, at least. Opening one eye, she twisted her head about to look at her husband. "This would be a bad moment to make a joke like ... I'm still alive ... right?" She smiled, reaching to push the desk away from them and peer over the top of it.

"It would be the perfect time to make a joke," he replied, mirroring her smile as he helped her to push the desk away and help her to her feet. "Everyone okay?" he asked, as he surveyed the scene.

"I got a God of Death between my legs."

Jo snorted with laughter - she didn't even need to look to know that Ellen had landed with her back against the wall and Hades' top half fallen exactly where she'd just stated. Pulled up onto her feet, Jo leaned gratefully into Dean's side, feeling strangely tired despite the lack of exertion her body had been through most recently. "I guess no one missed the memo this time."

"Dead or not, he don't belong there," Bobby remarked as he climbed to his feet and went over to inspect the fallen Olympian. How did you know if an immortal was really and truly dead anyway? Check his pulse? He helped Ellen to her feet and pulled her away from the fallen Olympian.

"Where's Artemis?" Dean wondered aloud, as they recovered themselves and gathered around the body of Hades.

"She didn't come back with you two?" Ellen asked, stepping away from the dead body with her own husband's help. "Figured she was the one threw you both back where you belonged."

Jo was shaking her head. "I didn't see her at all," she said. "I just heard her." She looked up at Dean. "You don't think he ..."

"I hope not," Dean replied with a frown. It would be a damn shame if he lost what he was starting to consider his patron Olympian, and he would never forgive himself if he learned she'd sacrificed herself for them, but it wouldn't be the first time something like that had happened. "She didn't throw us back," Dean went on to explain. "We followed the thread that connected Jo's soul to her body back." Or he did, since he'd been in the lead. He wasn't quite sure what to do first, now that it seemed they had won, but he thought it best to make sure Hades was really and truly dead, and the best way to do that was to ask an Olympian. "We need to summon Apollo."

It seemed as though Apollo had been listening for the sound of his own name spoken by the right people. Almost before his name had left Dean's lips, the Sun God appeared among them, absentmindedly handing baby Robert into Jo's arms as he moved to look at his uncle's body. "Where's my sister?" he asked, looking up at Dean from where he knelt. "Did she escape Tartarus before it was sealed?"

"I don't know," Dean replied with a frown of his own. "She told me to get Jo and run and not to look back," he informed him, his heart heavy with worry. "She seemed to know what she was doing," he added, knowing he had her to thank for saving Jo's life and refusing to believe Artemis was dead, until they knew for certain one way or the other. Now that Apollo was there to confirm Hades' death, Dean turned his attention to Jo. "You okay, baby? He didn't hurt you, did he?"

"She's alive," Apollo frowned thoughtfully. He looked back at his uncle's body, glancing around the room. "I will take my uncle to Olympus. We will lay him to rest in our own way. You will not be bothered for some time, I expect, Godslayer." With a subdued crash, he disappeared, and with him went the body of Hades, leaving the disassembled library bare of the evidence but for Death's Scythe lying forlornly in the middle of the floor.
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2016, 09:23:29 AM »
Jo raised her eyes to Dean, a little more relaxed now she had their son in her arms, gurgling and toying with her hair. "I'm fine," she promised Dean quietly. "He didn't do much of anything. Just dressed me up and chained me to a rock. I don't think he was expecting me to be quite so ... loud. What about you? Are you all right?"

Despite their victory, Dean didn't look particularly happy or relieved, but then what was he expecting? Champagne and a tickertape parade for saving humanity once again? No, being a hunter was a thankless job, but a necessary one. "You were giving him some sass," Dean agreed with a strained smile. He leaned over to touch a kiss to her lips. "Love you," he whispered, just because he needed to say it.

Leaning into him, she answered his kiss with her own, tender and soft, and all his. "Love you back," she whispered in return, only raising her voice to add, "You and me are gonna have words about you, you know, dying to come and get me."

"It worked, didn't it?" he asked, sliding his arms around her and touching another kiss to her lips, despite the small audience. "Besides, it wasn't my idea," he added, with a brush of affectionate fingers to Bertie's cheek. He suddenly felt drained, his head aching where a goose egg was blossoming at one temple. "Want me to take him so you can get changed?" he asked. Though he didn't mind the gown so much, he hadn't been the one to dress her in it.

The baby boy grabbed at his father's fingers, drawing Jo's attention back to the present moment. Or rather, what had set everything in motion. Her brow furrowed as she met Dean's eyes, setting aside the curious way the gown seemed to have followed her from Tartarus for a moment. "I want to see Becky," she said worriedly. "Both of them, Becky and Sam. Where are they?"

"Uh ..." Dean glanced over at Ellen and Bobby, as if for support. He wasn't sure it was a good idea for Jo to see Becky just yet, nor was he sure what kind of hold Becky still had on her sanity, but maybe if she saw that Jo was still alive, it would help alleviate some of her guilt.

"She's with Ares and Ayden," Bobby interjected, turning a questioning look at Ellen, as if to say, "What now?"

Jo's frown deepened with concern, but before she could ask any more questions, Ellen shook her head.

"They'll see to her," she informed everyone in the room. "You two go and settle down. We'll straighten up, and see if we can find out what's going on elsewhere. Right?" The look she gave Bobby suggested that an argument was not on the cards.

Dean didn't look much happier than Jo, despite having just killed Hades and presumably preventing an apocalypse of sorts, once again ... until the next time. There were still a lot of loose ends to sort out, starting with the return of Death's Scythe, but he thought he and Jo deserved a small respite, if only for a few hours. "She's right. You've been through a lot, and I could use a few z's," he admitted, though sleep wasn't really the first thing on his mind.

Reluctant though she was to let her guard down, Jo knew they had earned a few hours of respite today. After Persephone's death, it had been months before anyone moved against them; there was no reason to think Hades' death would be any different. "All right," she nodded in agreement, brushing her lips gently against Bertie's head. "We'll be upstairs, okay? If you need us."

"Upstairs. Got it!" Bobby replied before turning his attention to helping Ellen tidy up the library and probably discuss what to do next.

Dean waited for Jo to take the lead, falling in behind her as they climbed the stairs to the bedroom. He had turned a little too quiet, as if there was something on his mind, though he hadn't yet said what that something was.

It was always like this, that feeling of anti-climax, the sensation that maybe it hadn't been enough, after all. As though they were waiting for the other shoe to drop already. Jo was just as quiet as Dean as they slipped into their bedroom, laying Bertie down in the basket they still hadn't moved out of there. There was no question that he would be very close until they knew for certain nothing was going to go boom on them.

"I'm not sure I like the way Apollo said 'Godslayer'," Dean confessed once Bertie was settled in his basket. It wasn't so much the word he didn't like as it was the tone of voice he'd used when he'd said it. It wasn't like Dean was going to go around killing every Olympian he ran into. Apollo had been on board with the plan, but it had been Hades who had pushed the final button.

Jo sighed softly, turning to wrap her arms about his waist. "I doubt he meant it to be unsettling or an insult," she said as gently as she could. "But it's the truth, from their perspective. You've landed the blow both times. Only our friends among them know that you wouldn't have done it without being pushed. The neutral, and the ones who were against us ... they'll be wary of you, maybe even frightened. It's not a bad thing. Think about the era they're still most used to. Warriors were given titles based on their actions."

"I guess," he admitted grudgingly, as he pulled her against him. "Is it stupid of me to feel kind of sorry for him now that it's over?" he asked, though he knew in his gut that he'd done the right thing. He'd seen the future, and he knew he'd had no choice.

"I feel like we just picked up the fat weirdo who never gets picked for teams and tossed him out with the garbage," she confessed guiltily. "I mean ... he was an ass, but ..." That guilt didn't last long, however, as another thought occurred to her. "What if whatever he did to Becky is permanent?"

"It can't be," Dean said, not daring to think otherwise. He wasn't sure what Hades had done to Becky, but he refused to believe they'd be unable to help her. After all, Hades might be dead, but they still had plenty of allies on their side. Someone had to know what was going on and how to help her; they just had to figure out who. He didn't even want to start thinking about how Sam must be reacting to all this. "We'll figure it out, but for now, I think it's best we keep you apart."

Pressing into his arms, Jo bit her lip hard. She could still remember with terrifying detail the sheer hatred in Becky's eyes as the knife had slit her throat, that moment of horror when the girl realized what she had done. She couldn't imagine how Sam must be feeling right now. "He'll never forgive me if she's been hurt."

Dean held her close against his chest, fingers gently smoothing her hair. "He knows it's not your fault. What I'm afraid of is that he might blame himself," Dean pointed out, knowing his son better than either might have guessed. After all, like father, like son.

She laughed, but there was no mirth in it. She knew the men in her life as well as they did. "Then we'd better hope whatever's wrong with Becky can be fixed," she murmured quietly. "She's the only one who might be able to convince him otherwise."

He knew the answer was there somewhere, but he wasn't yet sure what it was. "It's almost like she's possessed," he mused aloud, though he knew Becky had been protected against possession, at least, as far as demons were concerned. He sighed wearily as he pulled away from her, only to take her hand and lead her to bed.
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2016, 09:24:08 AM »
"I don't know what to think," Jo admitted, sinking down onto the bed with him as she let out a weary sigh. "I didn't even see it coming. One minute she seemed fine, and the next ... Dean, she hated me. Whatever was driving her, she was so angry with me, she blamed me for something that still hurts. And then it was gone, just for a second, just long enough to make her suffer knowing what she'd done. That isn't anything but cruelty."

"What did she blame you for?" he asked. He hadn't witnessed Becky's attack on Jo so much as the aftermath. He made no comment on the cruelty of what had happened to Becky, but now that Hades was dead, he was hoping whatever held her under its sway was broken.

"I don't know." Staring up at the ceiling, Jo realized she was far more bothered about the fact that Sam and his relatively innocent girlfriend had been dragged forcibly into this mess than she was about having been killed in the first place. "That's just it, she didn't say anything. She just acted. Whatever it was, she really felt it."

"It's not Becky, Jo," Dean said. "Someone or something drove her to it. We just have to figure out what." He was hoping maybe Bobby or Ellen would have some idea what was going on, but that discussion would have to wait a while longer. For now, Becky and Jo were safely separated, until they could figure out what was going on.

"Maybe Ares can work it out," she sighed softly, rolling to curl into his side. "Or maybe Ayden Saw something just a little too late. I guess all we can do is wait and hope." It was not the most encouraging of plans, nor was it easy to admit that they were utterly powerless when it came to helping the newest and most vulnerable of their little band. But it was the truth.

"We'll figure it out, one way or another," Dean promised, sliding an arm around her as she curled up beside him and touching a kiss to her temple. "You're safe, and that's all that's important." That wasn't precisely true, but Jo's life had been the one in danger this time around. He wasn't sure what he would have done if he'd lost her, and he didn't really want to think on the possibility too hard.

Her thoughts mirrored his, but just thinking about it made her body start to shake with the shock of what had actually happened. "I died," she whispered, clinging to him tightly. "I felt myself die. You know what my last thought was? How pissed you were gonna be with me for getting myself killed by a librarian."

Despite everything, he couldn't help but smile, even as he held her tighter. "To be fair, you weren't expecting her to attack you," he said, wondering to himself what she'd have done if she'd known. He didn't think she'd have killed Becky, but she certainly would have defended herself. He'd died himself on several occasions, only to be rezzed in some way or other, and he knew how frightening it could be. He wondered how Becky was feeling knowing she had killed Jo. She probably still thought she was dead, but maybe for now, it was better that way, despite how hard it would be on Sam.

It seemed to take a long time for those tremors to fade, but just being in Dean's arms helped, listening to Bertie gurgle and snore in the basket not so far away, and the sounds of Ellen and Bobby good-naturedly arguing as they straightened up downstairs. Those were the sounds of her life, and Jo clung to them as she forced her way through her shock and fear to be herself once again. "This thing is really itchy."

Dean wasn't quite sure how to comfort her, other than hold her close, until those tremors died away. He hoped it was comforting to know she was home, safe in his arms, with their son resting nearby, and Bobby and Ellen downstairs cleaning up. They had worked so hard to make this place safe, but he wondered if she'd ever feel safe here again, and it made him sad to know he could only do so much to keep her and their family safe. "No one said you had to keep in on," he teased, somewhat relieved she wanted to get the gown off. It wasn't that it wasn't attractive, but it had been a gift from Hades, and it just wasn't her style. Jo was a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl, and that was what Dean liked about her. She didn't pretend to be anyone but who she was.

"Seriously, who thought putting souls in this ridiculous get-up was a good idea?" Jo asked, pushing herself to stand up as she searched for some kind of fastening somewhere on the floaty confection she was wearing. "I mean, is this really the kind of thing a woman would want to wear for all eternity?"

"I think he meant for you to take Persephone's place," Dean said, though the thought of Jo as Hades' wife was ridiculous. Even if he hadn't been able to rescue her, he doubted she'd have agreed to it, even if it would have saved her from far worse torments. He debated lying there and watching her get undressed before deciding to get up and help her instead. "You know, I've always wondered ... in the legends, Hades carried Persephone off against her will. How'd she end up so enamored of him?"

"I swear, if this thing doesn't come off clean, I'm going to cut it into tiny bits!" she flared, dropping her hands in frustration. "You try." Turning, she offered him her back to see if he could find where the damned dress undid, if at all. His question, though, made her a little pensive. "He was kinda charming," she admitted reluctantly. "Before I started yelling at him. I guess I can see how a girl who didn't really have any experience of men would fall for it."

Dean snorted at Jo's remark regarding Hades. "If you like men old enough to be your great great great grandfather or something. I mean, seriously ... The guy's older than dirt." Or was older than dirt, before Dean had killed him. He frowned in frustration as he tried to figure out how to get the gown off her. "I don't see any fastenings ..." he mused aloud, before reaching into his jeans pocket and pulling out a pocket knife. "Hold still."

"Well, maybe he didn't look like that when she first met him?" Jo shrugged, glancing over her shoulder at the warning not to move. Seeing the knife, she snorted with laughter, rolling her eyes. "Sure you don't want me tied to the bed first?"

"It's a thought," he replied, though he thought being chained to a wall was enough excitement for one day. "You sure you don't mind if I ruin it?" he asked further, eager to get the thing off her, if only because it had been a gift from his nemesis.

She turned to look up at him, one brow raised above a smile that answered that question without words. "Am I sure I don't mind the utter destruction of a dress I'm only wearing because some thousand year old perv wanted an eyeful?"

"I'm not even gonna ask how he got you into it," Dean replied, with just a hint of jealousy, even if it was misplaced. She belonged to him, and no one else, Olympian or otherwise. He'd often wondered what might have happened if she'd lived. Would they have ended up together eventually or not? It didn't really seem to matter much now. She'd been young when he'd first met her, maybe too young, but that girl had long since grown into a woman. Skillful with a blade, he carefully cut her out of that dress, ruining it in the process, much to his own satisfaction. "You really want something pretty, I'll buy you something pretty."

Well, she had said she didn't mind it destroyed. It certainly was prettier in bits on the floor than she'd considered it to be on her. Jo smiled innocently up at her husband, not even touching the comment on how Hades had dressed her up, more than comfortable in her own skin around the man she loved. "What, I'm not pretty enough on my own?"
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2016, 09:24:40 AM »
"Sure you are, but ..." He frowned again as she twisted his words around, that pang of jealousy making itself known again. So, Hades was charming and he'd given her a pretty dress, but he wasn't Dean. She loved him, not the God of the Underworld. "You want me to prove it to you?"

Her smile softened, turning that familiar shade of sultry tease that had always been his alone to enjoy. Fingertips went wandering as she stepped closer, rising onto her toes to nip his lip tenderly. "I think I'm the one who has some proving to do," she murmured, knowing him almost better than he knew himself. "Proving that no one matches up to you. No one at all."

That prompted a smile to flicker across his face. "I know that already," he admitted, with just a little puffed up male ego. "But don't let me stop you," he added with a smirk, as he the last shreds of the dress fell to the floor and he admired the view.

"Put the knife down," she suggested impishly. "Unless you want me to cut up your favorite shirt." Her dark eyes flickered wickedly as she grinned at him, taking hold of his hips to pull him close.

"Yes, ma'am," he said as he flicked the knife closed and shoved it back into his jeans, which was as safe a place as any, though he didn't think his jeans were going to be staying put too much longer.

Laughing, she pulled him down to the bed, and proceeded to do what they did best together. It wasn't about the physical, though that was always wonderful. It was about reconnecting after a harrowing experience, reminding each other that they were still alive, still together. That they had come through once again, and everything was as it should be.

Any other couple might have dealt with such a harrowing experience another way, but for Dean and Jo, it wasn't just about reconnecting, but about celebrating life and being alive. It made perfect sense for two people who lived life so close to death not to waste a single moment in enjoying life, knowing that life could end at any minute. And Dean was eager to prove to Jo that no Olympian had anything on him. Immortal or not, he knew Jo better than anyone, and she was the one who benefited from that knowledge.

Quite how he could possibly think that she might ever have entertained the possibility of being anywhere near intimate with Hades was beyond her, but Jo was more than happy to help prove to him that it would never have happened. Indeed, it was only the sound of Bertie beginning to fuss that drew them out of that soul-deep intimacy, mussed and tousled, and aching in just the right places.

Dean growled in mild irritation at the interruption, whether they were finished or just getting started all over again. "Your son could have better timing." Bertie was always her son when he was doing something annoying, and Dean's when he was doing something that deserved praise.

"My son, huh?" Jo laughed, nuzzling a kiss to his lips before beginning the business of disentangling herself from him. "You keep that up, and Hope is going to be your daughter all her life. And Sam insists she was the difficult one."

"Of course, he does. Do you think he's going to admit that he was the difficult one?" Dean asked with a chuckle once he'd returned her kiss. The mention of Hope made his smile fade a little. Their daughter hadn't been born or presumably conceived yet, but he couldn't help wondering how she was faring in the future.

"Any daughter of yours is going to be a handful," Jo predicted, pulling on the first shirt to hand as she moved over to the basket to lift Bertie up and into her arms. "Right, little man? Your little sister is gonna be just like her poppa, and that means he's gonna have to be stopped from putting her in a chastity belt when she hits puberty."

Dean tucked his arms behind his head as he watched her with their son. "Are we talking about the same Hope? Because the last time I checked, she didn't even have a boyfriend yet." To anyone else, it might have seemed strange to be talking about a daughter who hadn't even been born yet in the present tense, but they'd had a peek at the future in the form of a visit from their grown children.

Jo raised her brow, grinning over at her husband. "Princess, did you ever have a real, honest to goodness girlfriend before we got together?" she asked him innocently. "I'm saying Hope's going to be just like you. Might have to ask a friendly Olympian to make her sterile until she's old enough for kids."

He winced as that was kind of a loaded question, but she had a point. He'd had a few girlfriends, but none that came anywhere near what he felt for Jo. "Maybe if you'd said yes sooner, you could have saved a few broken hearts."

"Or it could have been much worse for you when I kicked it," she pointed out, moving to sit on the bed beside him. Bertie wasn't fussing for any reason other than loneliness, something he had a tendency to do when things had been tense for a little while. "This is here and now, princess. You, me, and our family. That's all that matters."

"I can't imagine it being any worse," Dean replied, though he got her drift. They hadn't been lovers the first time she'd died, before Aphrodite had sent her here. They'd only been friends, but there had always been some inexplicable connection between them that neither could entirely ignore or deny. "You shouldn't have come back for me, you know," he told her, regarding the fateful day she'd saved him from a hellhound and ended up paying for it with her life. They'd had this discussion multiple times, and it almost always ended with Jo telling him to shut up.

Just as it did this time. "Shut up," she informed her husband fondly, leaning over to kiss him. "Here, cuddle up with the baby while I get dressed." Bertie was laid on his chest, and with uncanny Winchester skill, managed to hit himself in the face with his own fist while kicking his father in the nose simultaneously.

He smiled into her kiss. It was good to know some things never changed. "What are you getting dressed for? I'm not," he pointed out as he took Bertie from her and promptly got kicked in the nose. Thankfully, it was just a baby kick and didn't do any harm. "You're not off to a very good start, kid," Dean teased his young son, as he settled him into a more comfortable position against his chest.

"Because that little dude is going to need feeding and changing pretty soon, and we need to eat, too," she pointed out, laughing at the sight of Bertie sprawled over Dean's chest comfortably. "Why do I never have a camera when I want one?"

"Um, I think maybe I should put some pants on before you snap a picture," he pointed out, as he had not yet gotten himself re-dressed. "You know, if it wasn't for Bobby and Ellen, we could walk about naked all day, and no one would care. You wouldn't care, would you, Bertie?" he asked as he tickled his son's toes.
[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 Death Worse Than Fate
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2016, 09:26:03 AM »
The baby giggled delightedly, flailing as he was tickled, much to the amusement of his mother as she dressed herself. Jo was surprised to find how relieved she was to be wearing her jeans again, that the dress had been quite such an uncomfortable experience for her. "And what would you say to the grown up son who has a habit of dropping around unexpectedly?" she asked her husband, dragging a brush quickly through her hair before dropping onto the bed beside him again.

Dean grinned at the question, knowing she meant the grown version of "Bertie" who'd come back in time with his sister to save his parents from death and had decided to stay. "I'd tell him to knock," he replied with a grin. "So, what are we getting dressed for?" he asked, naked as the day he was born, only a sheet covering him from the waist down.

"We're getting dressed because the grandparents are downstairs, and I'm starving," she informed her husband fondly. "Being dead is hungry work." Leaning over, she kissed him one last time, slow and easy, before rounding off the affection by blowing a raspberry on Bertie's middle.

"You know, they're gonna wanna talk about it," Dean pointed out, once she was done kissing him. He handed the baby off to her, so that he could get up and make himself halfway presentable again. "I thought I'd feel relieved once Hades was dead, but I keep feeling like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop."

"Which is another reason we need to be dressed," Jo pointed out, lifting Bertie up onto her hip as she stood, absentmindedly jostling the infant as she admired the view Dean presented. "Until we know exactly what's going on, and how Sam and Becky are, none of us are going to relax."

"No, I guess not, but until we're sure Becky isn't going to attack you again, we can't take any chances," Dean reiterated once again. Now that the Underworld was in chaos, Dean wasn't sure they'd be able to bring Jo - or anyone else, for that matter - back from the afterlife anytime soon. "Artemis said something about the Underworld getting split into Heaven and Hell again. You know who's gonna wanna to be in charge of Hell."

"I guess that makes sense," she mused thoughtfully, letting their son suck on her necklace. "If the afterlife is shaped by the beliefs of humanity, then the dominant belief at the moment is in two planes - heaven and hell. We did promise to give him his kingdom back in exchange for the Scythe. Which we really should give back to Death at some point too, you know."

"I'm pretty sure he'll come looking for it soon, if he hasn't already," Dean replied as he tugged his jeans on over his hips and zipped them closed.  "I sort of promised Heaven to Gabriel, too," he added a bit sheepishly. He wasn't entirely sure Gabriel was the right choice for Heaven, but he was the only surviving Archangel, and so far he'd kept his promise in keeping Ayden safe.

She blinked in surprise, tilting her head curiously. "Well ... he is the last archangel," she considered. "Kinda makes sense, if he can be persuaded to do it. I hear he's not exactly the taking responsibility type."

"Might teach him responsibility though. He's done a pretty good job of watching over Ayden," Dean pointed out, before tugging a clean t-shirt over his head that didn't reek of Tartarus. "You don't mind if I burn that, do you?" he asked, with a nod of his head to the now-shredded dress discarded on the floor.

She glanced at it and shuddered. "Feel free. You think I want to have it lying around the house? Ugh." Unseen by Jo, the baby boy in her arms echoed her expression, screwing up his face and sticking his tongue out before laughing uproariously.

"I think we're raising a comedian," Dean said, as he caught a glimpse of their son mimicking his mother's expression. "Why don't you go on downstairs and see what Ellen's whipping up while I get rid of it?" he asked, as he took a seat on the bed so he could get his boots on.

"Huh?" Jo glanced down at Bertie just in time to catch the expression, snorting with laughter as she tickled his tummy. "You, little man, are as bad as your dad sometimes." Smiling, she hoisted him higher on her hip. "Okay, we'll head downstairs. Don't be long."

"Jo," he said, getting to his feet to move closer. "I love you. Don't you ever forget it," he said, pushing a strand of blond away from her face, just for an excuse to touch her before brushing his lips against hers.

She held his gaze for a long moment, her smile all his as her eyes softened. "I'm never going to forget it," she promised him, raising her own hand to touch his cheek tenderly. "I love you, too. Always have, even when I didn't remember you. So don't you forget it, either."

"Not a chance, baby," he replied with a grin, though he knew how close he'd come to almost losing her forever. He knew they weren't going to live forever, but he wasn't ready to lose her yet. If their glimpse at the future was anything to go by, there were at least two more children in their future, and Dean was looking forward to raising them. "You know, when this is all over, we should go on a proper vacation."

"You know, I think someone said something about Disneyland last time this came up," she grinned back to him, nipping his chin. "No more stalling. Your wife is hungry, and if you make me wait too long, I'll make you change your son's diaper before you eat."

"A fate worse than death," Dean teased, as he drew away, his eyes bright with amusement. Diapers were nothing compared to most things he faced on a daily basis. "I won't be long," he promised. "And you be good for your mama," he warned baby Bertie, as he tickled his toes.

Bertie grabbed at him, giggling as Jo laughed and turned away, slipping out through the door and down the stairs. The sound of Bobby greeting her was clearly audible, followed by Ellen demanding to know how anyone managed to cook anything in their kitchen. It sounded as though Jo was going to have to explain the system for the umpteenth time.

Once Jo and Bertie departed, leaving Dean with the task of getting rid of that dress, he let down his guard a little, the smile fading as he considered what had happened and what needed to be done. The sight of his wife lying in a pool of blood was one he wasn't going to forget anytime soon, and though he didn't want to smother her, it would take a few days or maybe weeks before he felt comfortable letting her out of his sight for very long. Thankfully, they had plenty of help. Dean gathered up the dress and took it outside to burn while Jo showed Ellen around the kitchen. It wasn't long before Bobby joined him, and by the time they rejoined the women, the dress had been burned to ash.

And by the time they rejoined the women, Ellen had been pacified by being put in charge of the baby, the one thing guaranteed to stop her in mid-rant every single time. With lunch on the table, they settled down to eat, each one of them knowing that they would not be parting ways for a good while yet. Not until they knew for sure that other shoe was firmly in place.

[size=9]((You know, whenever we come back to this storyline after a break, it always results in something minorly epic! Stayed tuned for the truth about Becky, coming at you - oh, some time in the next week!))[/size]
[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]