There's cause for celebration today, because it is the birthday of the lovely destina! Honey, I've only liked you more and more the longer I've seen you in action, and I would love to get to know you even better. One of the ideas you threw out for me sparked a little something, though it's not the happiest story, for which I apologize. It's Ellen and John and Jo, a few years after the last hunt with Bill but years before John's last hunt. Pre-series gen, rated PG-13 for language only.
She didn't need to say it, but she looked it, could feel her eyes hardening and her mouth thinning into a tight line. John Winchester had a hell of a nerve, showing up after he'd put Bill in the ground.
"Yeah?" she snapped, sharp and quick, before he could figure out how to play her.
"I've got a hunt nearby," he said, like he didn't have time to waste. "I need a room."
"Hiiiiiiiiiiii!" Jo said, a model of bad timing as always, running into the room and lighting up when she saw the son of a bitch standing there just like it was years ago and Bill was going to walk in behind John and scoop her up to seat her on his shoulders. "Uncle John," she said, just dying to be useful, "I can make up your favorite bed for you."
Ellen cursed herself for sparing Jo's feelings all those years ago, saw John caught wrong-footed by Jo's sincere regard. God damn him anyway, if he thought she'd hurt her daughter just for the sake of the truth.
She had her face set by the time his dark eyes flicked up to hers, jerked a shrug with one taut shoulder, and let him follow her girl out the door to the barracks out back.
She still had all the glassware to put away, so she kept her hands loose, didn't let herself think of how fucking satisfying it would be to rip John Winchester's unscarred face off. There were no lines, no gouges, nothing to indicate what he'd done, and there was no preacher on earth who would be able to convince her that that was fair or right.
Billy had had a limp after the first time John had deposited him at home, had needed a long scratch along his ribcage cleaned and mended. Ellen could remember trying to twist him into the light to get a look at what she was doing, inhaling the tang of blood over his own scents of beer and sweat. He'd cupped her head like he was going to kiss her, but she couldn't remember now if she'd let him.
The ache in her hand stopped her from wallowing; she'd clutched the thick glass of the beer mug much too tightly. In any case, she could hear Jo's light voice chattering to John, getting louder as they drew closer. "Mom? I'm going to fix Uncle John some supper. You want anything?" Jo wasn't asking for permission, didn't figure she needed it for someone she considered family.
"Go on," she bit out, standing still while she tried to figure if she should hide away or keep a closer eye on them. Her legs wouldn't move.
Jo had fallen silent, no doubt trying to impress John with her culinary prowess, and John's voice had gotten even deeper than she remembered, a low rumble that conveyed tone if not words with perfect clarity. The breath choked in her throat when she made out that his voice was friendly, confiding, like Jo was a fellow hunter instead of just a starstruck kid. God, how she hated him.
"That's it," she heard him say. "It's all in the wrist."
Ellen turned at that, saw Jo concentrating so hard her face was scrunched up with it, trying to pour batter for a perfect hotcake on the griddle. "Atta girl," he said, casual, but Jo still flushed with pleasure.
"Run along, now, babygirl," Ellen said, making her steps heavy as she made her way into the kitchen. "You got homework to finish."
Jo didn't push, evidently too happy with what she'd already done to need more; she flashed them both a bright smile, ponytail bouncing as she took off. Ellen flipped the hotcake onto a plate and slapped it down in front of Winchester. He looked up at that, reading her even gaze, meeting the naked contempt in her eyes without flinching.
One corner of his mouth even turned up at that, and she figured if any man on earth had cause to be self-loathing, it was this one, but she was damned if she'd let him wallow in it in front of her. He nodded like he'd heard her thoughts and cut into the hotcake with the side of his fork. She turned her back on him, and he choked it down dry.
"If you ever tell her, tell her I'm sorry," he said. By the time she turned around, all that was left was an empty plate.
She hadn't let Billy kiss her then; she could remember it now, sliding out of his clumsy grasp as she asked why John couldn't have spared five minutes to stitch his buddy up. "Had his boys to get back to," Bill had said, contenting himself with running fingers through her hair. "Sam and Dean."
John's boys. As she picked up the empty plate, she wondered if he'd taught them to make hotcakes too; she left the plate in the sink and climbed the stairs, pulling Jo away from her long division and into her arms. She breathed out - steady, steady - against the top of Jo's golden head and shut her eyes.
As always, I'd love to hear what you think.