Title: Flying Solo
Category: Drama, UST (Dean/Jo)
Spoilers: Takes place sometime after Good God, Y'all!
Summary: Dean discovers flying solo isn't always what it's cracked up to be.
Word Count: 1,999
Disclaimer: Supernatural and its characters are the property of Eric Kripke and co. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. This is for entertainment purposes only; no financial profit has been gained from this story. This story is not mean to infringe upon the rights of the above-mentioned establishments.
Dean flung the last of his holy water at the demon before he darted behind the eroded pillar in the old church. He didn't know how the bastard had made it onto holy ground. The church, in ruins, had seen better days, but the site never lost its sacred power.
Unless he was being hunted by one of the big guns. Super.
Not knowing how much of an impact the water would make on the demon, Dean went to work on a hasty devil's trap. The symbols were crude, even for him, but he hoped that it would have the strength to hold the demon long enough for him to exorcize it.
Part of him wished Sam were here. A small part.
Dean scraped the chalk against the floor of the church as he finished one of the last symbols. He was about to start on the final one when he felt his throat tighten. Dean gasped, his hands coming to his neck, but he knew the gesture was pointless. Before he had a chance to react further, he was flung across the aisle and smacked into the back of one of the rotting pews.
Air rushed into his lungs and he swallowed it in mouthfuls, though the relief was short-lived. Dean was plastered against the pew, unable to move, as the demon sauntered over to him.
"Well, well. Dean Winchester," the possessed young man said. "Going solo. Can't say it's your smartest move, but when have smarts ever been your forte?"
Dean scowled at the demon. "Tough talk for a demon without any backup. Kinda suicidal coming after me with angels on my back."
The demon shrugged. "I don't see any angels, do you?"
Dean set his jaw. Just this once, he wished he didn't have those damn symbols carved into his ribs.
The demon started to laugh. "Didn't think so." He crouched before Dean and flashed him a dazzling grin. "Who would have thought it would have been this easy? Killing Michael's vessel in a church. There has to be some poetic justice in there, you think?"
Dean glared at him. He had no love for Michael or any of the douchey angels, but he wasn't about to go down without a fight.
"Oh, don't get that look. We both know you don't got what your brother does." The demon's grin seemed to magnify under the broken lights. "Shame this'll be nice and easy."
Like a stone, a heavy weight pressed against Dean's chest. He cried out as the pressure increased, crushing him against the wooden pew. He struggled to breathe as he fought against the invisible weight, but his body refused to move. At any time, he knew his soft organs would rupture, his ribs would crack, and he'd lose consciousness. God knew what the demon would do to him while he was out cold before he killed him.
A loud crash broke through Dean's grunts of agony. The demon paused, frowning, and the pressure lifted. Again, Dean took a deep breath, relishing the release, even if the pain throbbed all through his body.
Another bang came from the opposite side of the church, someplace past the altar, and sounded like an empty chalice hitting the polished floor. This time, the demon rose, a glimmer of fear passing over his face, as he diverted his attention between his surroundings and Dean's pinned body beneath him.
Dean managed a pained chuckle. "Looks like my angel buddies are here to kick your ass."
The demon said nothing and walked into the main aisle. Dean could tell he was scanning for any presence of angels or other intruders, though the more he searched, the more restless he became.
Dean squirmed against his invisible restraints. Nadda.
He knew Cas well enough to know none of this was his style, but the demon didn't need to know that. Whatever was happening in the church was a welcome distraction. If the demon became afraid enough to lose concentration, Dean might just have a shot at making it out alive.
A third bang echoed throughout the church, this time anywhere and everywhere, causing the demon to start howling obscenities in every direction. The grip on Dean loosened again, though he still couldn't break free of the invisible chains.
"I know you're there," the demon cooed, stalking down the aisle. "Come out and make this quick."
His voice betrayed him. The demon spoke threats and taunts, but the fear was laced in every word.
Dean managed to turn his head.
That was when he saw her. Dammit.
Jo threw a small object at the demon and then dove behind the altar. Dean knew the demon had seen her, too. The fear in its eyes drained and was replaced with sadistic pleasure. Dean cried out to warn her, but his voice was lost in the following roar.
The explosion came without warning. Dean rocked against the pew once before he stumbled down the aisle and crashed into the wall. Above him, the stained glass dislodged from its shaky molding and rained down on him. Instinctively, Dean covered his face, biting down the pain as the sharp shards of glass nicked and cut his exposed skin.
The explosion caused the demon to fly backwards. He hit the floor with a thud and let out a scream that made Dean's skin crawl.
He could smell salt in the air.
The demon seemed to forget him and charged down the main aisle to the altar towards his attacker. Dean didn't need to think. He leapt to his feet and ran after the demon, intent on keeping it away from Jo.
He didn't know what the hell she was thinking coming in here alone.
Dean bolted past the altar and into the adjoining sacristy. As he broke into the small room, he saw Jo was pressed against the decaying wall of the old sacristy next two moth-eaten vestments. The demon, however, was planted firmly in the center of the room. Dean flailed his arms and skidded to a halt.
Through the frayed edges of an old mat, Dean saw the outer outline of a devil's trap. He smiled.
Ellen stepped out of the shadows holding an old worn down booklet. Dean knew immediately what was about to happen.
"Go get him cleaned up," Ellen muttered. "I got this one."
Jo nodded, crossed the room, and guided Dean past the altar and down to the second pew. It was only then he realized he was bleeding, not just a few scrapes, but large lacerations across his arms and chest.
"Ow," he mumbled as she withdrew some cotton from her pockets and started to clean one of the larger gashes on his arm.
"Oh, don't be baby," she said.
He ignored the comment and winced as she bandaged the wound. In the background, he could hear Ellen's voice reciting the Latin necessary for the exorcism.
"You stalking me now?"
Jo snorted. "You can only wish you were that lucky." She tied the bandage tight, maybe a little too tight. "My mom and I saw you and Sam leave alone so…"
Dean frowned, a little put off that the Harvelles thought they needed to watch him. He rubbed at the bandage.
"Rufus is tailing Sam," she said, as if reading his mind.
"That's perfect," he grumbled. Hunters were keeping tabs on him and Sam. He wasn't sure he liked that or what it implied.
"Did you have a fight?" she asked.
"It's nothing." Dean didn't want to talk about it. Things were better this way for everyone.
Jo sighed and shook her head. "Mom said you were both being idiots." She flipped through a pouch clipped to her belt and withdrew some antiseptic cream and some more cotton. "I just didn't know you were being pigheaded, too."
He was about to argue that running around as bait in a church wasn't the brightest idea, either, but he couldn't seem to find the want or need to say it. Truth was Jo did a bang up job against the demon, and Ellen would never let her do something stupid willingly. If Ellen and Jo were both on the same page about something, maybe Dean needed to reassess how he viewed them. None of them really had time to chat with the aftermath of War's games, but he certainly couldn't ignore how well they handled themselves in River Pass.
And he couldn't ignore how much Jo had matured and changed.
Or maybe it was he who had changed.
"Salt-laced cherry bomb?" he asked, pointing to the burnt center of the main aisle.
Jo nodded. "Rufus' idea. They don't do much, but they buy some time. I made some changes, but he gets all the credit."
"Whatever changes you made, they're great." He glanced back at her to find her smiling. He looked back to the spot on the ground. He and Sammy would -- Dean cleared his throat. He would have to keep that in mind for the future.
She touched his chin and turned his head back to face her. Gently, she started to swab one of the cuts on his upper cheek. This time he didn't protest.
Dean slid a little closer and allowed Jo to sweep across his face. She didn't seem to mind.
He heard a cough in front. Jo let go and he faced the altar, finding Ellen and her intense gaze on them both.
Suddenly he felt like he was fifteen again, caught in the back of his dad's car.
"Didn't anyone teach you manners?" Ellen asked. "I'm thinking a thank you's in order."
"Thank you--" And he shut his mouth when he saw the distinct don't-you-ma'am-me look on her face.
"You're lucky we found ya when we did," Ellen said, moving to lean on the pew in front of them. "You'd have been demon kibble by now."
"Prime cut," he said with a smile, though no one was laughing.
"Where you goin' from here?" Ellen asked.
Dean quieted. He wasn't sure. He'd only heard from Cas a couple of times, only to be told to be patient and wait, and when Dean tried to contact him, he proved near impossible to reach. So Dean kept jumping from town to town, hoping for a lead, but whatever the angels and demons were up to, they hid it good. Of course, he wasn't actively trying to be found by them. This demon just got lucky.
That was what he kept telling himself, anyway.
"You could always hitch with us," Jo said, breaking the silence.
"Nah." He cleared his throat and forced himself to stand. "I got a lead over in Minnesota I got to check out."
He didn't need to say it, but they got the point. Not only did he not want to be a third wheel, but he also didn't need them following him anymore. He appreciated the concern, but he'd do just fine. He'd spent forty years alone in Hell. He could handle hunting solo.
"You call us," Ellen said. It wasn't a request.
"I will. I got your numbers. Both of 'em."
Jo rose to her feet and searched him with a determined face. "Don't get yourself killed again or else I'm gonna bring you back to do it myself." She paused a moment before her face softened. She touched his arm. "Maybe next time."
Dean nodded and watched them go. Part of him wished he could go with them, enjoy their company, back to a place that reminded him of better days. But he resisted and stood still, holding onto the bitter pain of isolation that he carried not as his badge of honor, but a reminder of all he'd done and what he had left to do.
Maybe some different time and place he could have said yes. Or maybe when this whole thing was over. Maybe, just maybe, things would be different.
He started to think that perhaps they already were.