The bar smelled of stale beer and sweat. The hunters that sat around talked softly amongst themselves. A certain solemnness had been hanging around the bar of late. Too many people were dying, things were getting worse by the day and none of them had any idea for a solution. She knew the boys were working on something, they always were.
She was wiping down the bar, a stripped wash cloth in her hand, when the girl came in. She’d happened to glance up at the sound of the door to see the red head walk in. Now there was someone who didn’t look like they belonged. The girl looked young and inexperienced, she might have been around Jo’s age but she looked more like she belonged in an office than in a bar full of hunters. Ellen saw some of the men nudge each other nodding to the girl, sneers forming on their faces.
Coming down the bar to where the girl had taken a seat, Ellen tossed the cloth over her shoulder. She raised an eyebrow at her questioningly. “What can I get ya?”
The sight of Ellen made Krissy smile slightly feeling some sense of comfort sweep over her. She seemed tough and caring at the same time yet maybe a little bossy. Pretty much any adult seemed too bossy these days. Krissy didn’t believe there was a whole lot left to learn about the world after everything she’s seen, but lot of teenagers felt the same way. Old hunters always trying to kill themselves with coffee and cigarettes. She shakes her head with a slight laugh and slings her school bag from around her shoulder and lets it land on the counter. ” Morning, Ma’am. I got some breakfast. I borrowed the already hot wired truck in the parking lot and used my fake credit cards. “
Opening the bag there are a few bacon and egg biscuits wrapped in wax paper. The smell is heavenly for first thing in the morning when your tummy is craving food. With her eyes closed and a smile on her face Krissy draws a long sniff taking it in while lifting her head in Ellen’s direction opening her eyes when her head is fully lifted. ” Hungry?” she asks in a sarcastic tone.
She raised an eyebrow at the girl. Joyriding and fraud before breakfast was not exactly what she would have called good behavior or even acceptable. The girl was going to get herself in trouble with the law if she continued like this, and Ellen was not going to bail her out. She glanced at the bag, the contents weren’t really of consequence but how she’d gotten them was. Setting her mug of coffee on the counter, she picked the bag off the table, examining the sandwiches inside. She pulled them out and tossed them into the trash without blinking. “Your wallet in here too?”
She pursed her lips, thinking for a moment. There had been a lot of hard things in her life but the decisions she had made had always been the obvious ones for her. Staying with Jo in Carthage had been hard but it was the only thing that had made sense. It had been hard to hunt after the Roadhouse was gone but it had been the only things she could do. Keeping the Roadhouse after Bill had passed was hard but it certainly wasn’t the hardest decision she had made.
She knew who was calling before she picked it up. The man never failed to make the same call two days into each hunt. She wasn’t looking forward to the call but as soon as his rough baritone came over the line she couldn’t help but crack a smile.
“Come Monday, it’ll be alright
Come Monday, I’ll be holdin you tight”
He sang softly into the phone. The smile disappeared, replaced by a frown that creased her face.
“I thought I told you not to sing to me.” She’d become an expert at turning on a hard
“Oh come on, Elle.”
“Don’t.” She could feel herself breaking again like she always did. He was charming and sometimes she hated it. She hated that he was gone and she hated when he was there and she didn’t know how to handle it. There was a pause on the other end. She could picture the puppy dog eyes and sad look he was making perfectly. “I bought a new lamp yesterday.”
“Yeah?” His voice was soft. They both knew what had happened to the lamp. He’d seen it the morning before he left, shattered on the floor, the nearly empty bottle of Jack he’s left on the table without a cap. She’d woken up in Jo’s bed, the little girl curled against her mother.
“Yeah, bulbs not as bright but it’ll do.” She spoke softly too. She wasn’t going to let him forget what he did, she wasn’t going to just brush it under the rug like it was nothing. She wanted him to know it wasn’t ok.
“I’ll be back in a few days, Elle.” Jo was running around her legs asking if it was her dad. “Can I talk to Jo?”
She didn’t say anything, leaning down and wrapping an arm around her daughter’s shoulders, Jo took the phone in both her small hands and put it to her ear, a large smile plasters on her face. Ellen could hear the ‘Hey, Joey.’ Bill said on the other line. Jo’s face lit up when she heard her father. Ellen turned away, letting her daughter talk with her father, she could hear the squeals of excitement that escaped the young girl.
"I think deciding between Benny’s wings and burgers for lunch was pretty hard. Guy sure knows how to cook." She turned, not wanting to think about anything but what she had to do that day.
The cup of coffee was steaming on the counter top. She could hear a door down the hall open as she closed the cabinet door, a bottle of hunter’s helper hidden on the top shelf. She turned, mug in hand to see the teenage girl she’d taken in. It’d been a few days since Castiel had dropped her off and Ellen wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about the girl. She was arrogant and disrespectful but she was a hunter and just a kid. Ellen couldn’t help but feel responsible for her, she’d been through more than most her age and knew more about the reality of the world than most adults.
“Mornin’, kid.” The words slipped out over the top of the mug as she sipped the coffee, the hint of alcohol adding a little kick to the coffee. There wasn’t much to eat other than cereal, Jo’s box of cocoa puffs and Ellen’s shredded wheat. There was eggs and bread if the kid wanted to put in the effort but Ellen wasn’t going to make her anything.
[For once, this actually seemed like a bit of good news. The Roadhouse was probably an obvious place for hunters to take refuge, but at least Ellen seemed to have plenty of defenses up. Dean would have expected no less from her. Most people might have found the atmosphere a bit grim and off-putting, but Dean looked around with a small, appreciative grin on his face.]
Let’s hope we never actually need to use this. A bunch of hunters all packed into one tiny bunker… Think of the smell.
I did think of it. Got a couple showers in the corner where the other fixtures are. [She pointed to the far corner of the room. There were a couple stalls an a couple showers. It wasn’t the best for privacy but it was only a precaution in case of emergency. If they really needed to use it, privacy was going to be the least of their worries.]
Got room for a food storage that I’m building. [She’d tried to think of everything that she could. Food, plumbing, beds, room for more than a few of them. It wasn’t going to be comfortable but it might keep them alive.]
I will be rocks, I will be water.
I will leave this to my daughter
lift your head up in the wind.
When you feel yourself grow colder
wrap the night around your shoulders
and I will be with you even then
even when I cannot see your face anymore.
I have seen such things, child
on this, and the other side
Words cannot show you
the midnight owl it does not know you
You will see for your sweet self
by and by.
[Benny didn’t think he had an eye for that sort of thing anyway. He was a humble cook, not an interior decorator. He did, however, offer a wide grin as the bag was shoved in his direction, quickly taking it up in his arms to follow after her happily.]
“‘m a cewk, nawt Na’e Berk’s, Pre’y ain’ mah stron’ poin’ unless we’re talkin’ ladies… I thin’ ‘s damn smar’ though, tah have errythin’ redy in case all o’ Purgatory decides tah stumblr inta our back yar’. Tha’d be a nasteh fiagh’ ‘f I eva saw one…” [He lumbered after her, fumbling with the bag for a moment before shooting her another smile. He liked Ellen. Her and Jo were like family. Not in the same way Dean was, of course, that was a bond that was deeper than nearly anything the vampire had ever felt. A fierce loyalty, love and devotion for the hunter boiled his still blood. All the same, Ellen and Jo were family. And Benny looked after his family. Should something less than savoury transpire, he’d be the first to bare his chest for the sake of those kind hearts that decided to give him a chance.]
Who the hell is Nate Berkus? [She hadn’t even heard of the man Benny had mentioned. She shrugged at the mention not caring enough to question him more on the matter. She shrugged, coming down the stairs to the basement. They had other thins to deal with at the moment including the massive nearly empty space that was in the lowest level of the building. She’d cleared it out and covered it wall to wall in salt and iron. It wasn’t the cheapest thing she could have done to the space but it was handy to have. There were a couple metal frames in the corner needing mattresses. There were some plumbing fixtures that needed to be put in. There was a wall coming out from the same wall the stairs were on, she led him around that to a corner room that would have sat under the storage area in the bar above.]
Set ‘em on a table here. [She waved a blade dismissively to the rows of tables and shelves she had in the room. She set the things she had in her hands and strapped to her before turning back to the door.] It’s gonna be more than one trip. After this I might get you a drink.
Jo slid out of the truck, rolling her eyes and swiping at the damp, mud-covered towel her mother had forced her to sit on. She almost held back her snark for her new attempt at contesting to be daughter of the year— almost. The daughter and mother hadn’t risen their voices at one another since Purgatory, a sombre, still tone falling upon their conversations. There was always room for the grumbled complaint but old hostility had faded into the background. Part of it was due to Jo’s infrequent visits, the other out of the want to be better this time around. Second chances were a rarity and Jo knew she had dropped the ball the first time around. However, old habits die hard. Roughly rubbing the towel into her muddied hair she clomped up the stairs, miffed over end results of the hunt. ”No I was thinking I was gonna sit in my wet clothes just for the hell of it. I was really hoping to catch pneumonia this year.”
Not looking back to mother Jo continued past the doorway, scooping up her pack of dirty laundry, and headed to the stairs leading to the apartment.
—- - —-
Bathroom lights gleamed and Jo blinked, a hand raising to shelter her vision from the glare. Slowly, she became conscious she didn’t remember the trip up, where she had dropped off her bag, or how the hell she ended up standing in front of the mirror with her hair smelling like citrus shampoo and gunk free. Shaking her head a collection of stars swirled across her vision, glistening as they were caught in the light.
That was new.
Kind of fascinating now that she thought about it.
Her hand drifted through the glittering cloud stirring up the nonsense drifting across her vision and a notably dazed smile sluggishly pulled across her face. Swiping her sweatpants and tank top off of the floor and pulling them over herself, Jo meandered out of the washroom with a false conception of her poise as she wobbled further down the hallway.
Jo padded towards her mother sitting at the round table in the middle of the kitchen, the walls of the room undulating under the lamplight. Back crossly curled over crackling papers and facing Jo, she wrapped her arms around her shoulders, pressing her wet hair onto the back Ellen’s dry shirt. “Ma,” Drawling out her greeting in a drowsy, yet somehow musical sigh Jo hugged her mother with an uncomfortable strength. “How long was I gone?”
Stomping up the stairs, duffle bag in hand, she entered the apartment. She dropped the duffle on the stainless steel table in the laundry room. She looked down at her own muddy clothes, not nearly as bad as Jo who had rolled in everything but some soapy water. The mess from the water leaper had splattered everywhere, though Jo had taken the brunt of the gunk. She took the liberty of changing into something a little less covered in mud while Jo was in the shower.
With a cup of coffee and the log she kept of new monsters, she stood over the table. It was a journal of sorts, only devoid of anything personal. The information was only on the monsters for future reference. She didn’t hunt much but she knew more than most about how to kill something when it came to it. If someone needed how to deal with something she was the person to call. Bobby had also been a great resource for the hunting community but since she hadn’t heard anything from him or about him from the boys she assumed the worst, just like with everyone else that she hadn’t heard anything from. It wasn’t surprising what had changed in the years since she was gone but it wasn’t the easiest thing to adjust to either.
- Water Leaper:
Amphibious. Lives in bodies of water, eats people. Large. Watch out for long tongue. Any weapon, remove head and burn.
Staring at the words, she felt like there was something she was missing in the short description she had for the monster. She hadn’t stared long before arms snacked around her and a wet, head pressed against the fabric of her shirt. She tensed for the briefest of moments before relaxing, realizing who it was, the familiar address coming from her daughter. Before she finished speaking, Ellen had hand welcomingly placed on one of Jo’s arms. The question, though, was confusing, her brows furrowing as Jo’s words.
“I’d say you were in the shower about twenty minutes, but I could be wrong. You feelin’ alright, Jo?” She turned in her arms, breaking the embrace and eying her daughter with a worried look. She couldn’t see anything physically wrong with her, there were no wounds that were visible. There was a look on her face that Ellen couldn’t quite place, exhaustion being the only thing she could think of.
[Feeling like she was suddenly background noise , Krissy composes herself. A drawer slams shut and the sound of silverware shifting and colliding with each other cuts through the conversation of the two women. Leaning the upper half of her body forward Krissy tries to speak in a slow and direct tone hoping to be heard this time]
"My name is Krissy. I’m a hunter and have been one most of my life. If you want proof I can give you the number of a hunter named Dean. He will tell you I’m not just a kid"
[She didn’t make eye contact until she had said her piece then looks up to maybe get taken seriously. With a quick arm motion Krissy points to the doorway]
"Poof the magic angel brought me here to help… Or that’s what he told me"
[Withholding an official statement to her mother’s claim that she had taken her drink from the bar, the bottle in her hand was held with only mild unease. Turning her attention to the girl, Jo’s brows arched at the smashed drawer. That kind of attitude wasn’t going to last long if Ellen had anything to say about it. She didn’t want to leave the kid out to the dogs but if she kept slamming around the house it was out of Jo’s hands. Leaning a dirty palms against a chair and crossing her feet leisurely, she took another sip from the bottle before responding the girl.] Well, Krissy, sorry to break it to you but Dean would tell you that you are just a kid.
[Her eyes slid over to her mother though her comment was directed to both parties. It was a warning more than anything else.] I don’t think he’s gonna be too excited about this. [Jo paused to wonder what the hell Cas was thinking bringing a kid into the fray, growing distant from the conversation for a moment. By the sounds of it, Krissy was a hunter; everywhere was a goddamn fight so what was the difference whether she was at the Roadhouse or god-knows-where?] How about I take Krissy downstairs and show her around while you try to get ahold of Dean?
[Her lips curled down in a frown as her eyes strayed from the girls to the drawer. If anything like that happened again, she was going to need to have a little talk with the girl about proper behavior. Her knowing Dean wasn’t surprising, it also wasn’t surprising that he hadn’t mentioned her. The Winchesters kept their business to themselves even if Ellen preferred they didn’t. She waved a hand, glad that Jo was taking the girl down stairs for a talk. She couldn’t be on the phone long with the Winchester but she did need to know somethings about the girl and from a reliable source. She was reaching for the phone before she answered Jo.] Yeah, yeah. Take her down stairs, mind watching the patrons while you’re down there? Try not to take another free drink, will ya?
[She was dialing and listening to the ringing on the other end before her response was finished.]
John spoke those words with certainty. He had made sure his sons had the best training in the hunter community. Even for all his renowned skill and infamous reputation, he made mistakes and John made sure his sons weren’t going to do the same.
John chewed on the inside of his cheek, reflecting on the situation. Mind reeling in reverse, backtracking to how he got into this situation, the hunter tried to disguise his hesitation from behind his half empty mug. Trying to disguise his apprehension. Hide away the twitch of his lip that pulled into a frown.
Joking and lounging in the barstools and couches of the bar.
Listening to the echoes of new voices and resting beams.
The memory of his friend being pushed to the back of his mind.
How did it become so easy to fall back into a behavior that hadn’t existed for ten odd years? Had the relatively tranquil time in heaven really made him so shallow that he just dismissed past actions for personal comfort? What allowed him to just enjoy the time with the family that had shattered from the force of the Winchester’s own gun.
He grasped onto an emotion: Anger.
He was able to come back, given a second chance.
The angel gave him a reunion with his sons.
A temporary paradise with his wife he fought hard for.
What did he do to deserve that in heaven’s eyes?
Why was he receiving this special, heavenly, treatment?
What made him better than Bill?
The turn of conversation was welcomed, breaking away from the loose, free flowing conversation. Where it could have headed, the Winchester wasn’t sure, but he didn’t wish to find out. Finished off the drink and placing it on the empty table, he cleared his throat, removing all touches of that fleeting emotion he had experienced. It showed his weakness and there was no room for that anymore.
”Working on something else? Tell me about it.”
Earth was going to hell, or purgatory, in a hand basket and she hadn’t been just sitting on her hands doing nothing. Tracking the rifts was a new hobby but it wasn’t the only one she had. They’d all gone through the end of days before, something that had threatened the world, and Ellen hadn’t planned on giving up easily. She didn’t have an active role like the others did, she preferred to work behind the curtain a bit more. Networking hunters, organizing them without half of them realizing it was something that had been useful before and was something she had started again as soon as she had opened the new Roadhouse.
It wasn’t like the old one.
This was supposed to be better.
Not something that would be destroyed as easily.
She wasn’t going to let everything she cared about slip through her fingers again. She was prepared to fight tooth and nail to the end. The bar was safer than before, she wasn’t going to lose it. Jo had survived purgatory when Ellen was sure she had lost her for good. They had both crawled through the mud back to their life and she was prepared to do anything to keep them both there.
“I think it would be better to show you.” She started down the hall of the small apartment. Crossing her nearly bare bedroom to the laundry room in the corner. It was large enough or more than just laundry though. The lights flickered on in the room revealing that the space was filled to the brim with weapons.
The wall on the far side covered in racks and an array of armaments settled on them, guns, knives, flare guns, a grenade launcher or two. She had munitions for all of them organized on shelves. She crossed her arms and smirked at her own handy work.
“Just one of the side projects I’ve been putting resources into.”
She didn’t need much to live on her own. The building was almost bought outright, all the profit from the bar was going to weapons and munitions. She was preparing to supply a small army if it came to it. If size and amount of weapons was the deciding factor she was making certain they were going to be ones on top.