A clumsy “Woah,” wobbled out of her mouth as her mother had stood and turned without her realization. Stumbling back and away from Ellen arms Jo’s eyes widened once the to and fro of the room settled and her focus zeroed onto her mother’s face. Ellen’s lips parted as she spoke to expose a set of filed teeth while fragile hands extended out to her, and two red, plump pomes burrowed deep into doughy, ruddied eye sockets. Her brown hair frizzed out at the crown of her head and fell in matted wads garnished with flat yellow needled shaped leaves poking out of the chaotic mess.
A childish snicker bubbled over her lips into the air, “I’m feelin’ good. But you should check out your face.” Rotted earth reeked from her mother’s every pore. Gagging slightly and rapidly waving a hand in front of her face, Jo scampered off towards the counter. “Maybe you should take a shower.” Her balance had returned once the surrounding stopped lapping up against the ceiling. A line of divided coniferous trees had shoved themselves out of the wooden panels and it’s leaves, matching the ones stuck into her mother, littered the floor.
Greedy fingers swiped for the half eaten box of Cocoa Puffs and burrowed themselves in, pulling out an overflowing handful only to shove part of it to her mouth. Chocolate residue dusted around her lips, the remaining cereal trickled unnoticeably down to ground. “I feel like you should sweep too.”
Her eyes narrowed at her daughter. She had never seen Jo like this but she had seen other people under the influence of drugs. She didn’t know what had happened between the car and now but it was definitely something she was not happy with. She didn’t know what her daughter was talking about with the face thing, Ellen had cleaned up when Jo had. She chose to ignore it. The girl clearly had something in her system. She blinked at the cocoa puffs and the words that fell from her daughter’s mouth like the cereal to the floor. It had been a long day already but obviously it wasn’t going to end just yet. With a sigh she muttered to herself, “I can’t do this alone.”
She pulled the cell phone from her pocket and dialed Benny, the fry cook being close by and almost always available. She felt bad about calling him at such a late hour but she didn’t know what else to do. She’d never handed high people as well as she did drunk people, at least all they wanted to do was vomit and sleep most of the time. Ignoring Jo’s crunching of the chocolate flavored cereal, she waited for him to pick up. As soon as he did she spoke quickly with glances at Jo. “Sorry to be calling this late, I have an issue with my daughter. It’s been a long day and if you don’t min I’d like some help.”
It felt odd asking him for help but he had been a loyal employee and she thought of him as a friend. If something started happening to Jo, if whatever was in her system was dangerous, Ellen would need help. And she wasn’t so sure that Cas or Naomi would come to her aid if she needed them, though Naomi had promised she was still a busy woman.
Dean felt a huge sense of regret for taking on this mission at Lucifer’s crypt. It had sounded so promising at first. Gaining the artifact was supposed to be a win for the hunters, but in reality, the crypt turned out to be a major loss. At least, that was the way Dean saw things. Not only did he leave empty-handed, but he lost his father and Jo. Again. And who knows what even happened with Castiel?
But the angel and the artifact could wait. Finding John and Jo took the highest priority. They had to be alive somewhere. Dean couldn’t allow himself to doubt that for one second. He was focused on getting them back as soon as possible.
Though, he completely dreaded this next step. The hunter almost wished he could skip ahead straight to the fighting demons part, but he knew that wouldn’t be possible. He stepped out of his car and hesitated a moment, trying to plan how to proceed. Dean went over the scenario hundreds of times in his mind, but he still couldn’t decide the best way to begin. Whatever happened, he doubted it would go very well. It was best to just get this over with as soon as possible, so Dean made his way towards the entrance of the Roadhouse, completely unprepared to confess what happened to Ellen.
He stepped inside and glanced around, hoping to find the owner at her usual place behind the bar.
It’d been slow. Patience and waiting wasn’t one of her strongest points but it was something that she had spent almost a lifetime experiencing. She knew it would take days. The drive, the actual mission and the drive back ate up time like it was nothing. But the days moved slower than molasses, and she was getting anxious after she hadn’t heard anything, not even a phone call from Jo to know things had gone smoothly. The bar was nearly empty for a change, only one man at the end of the bar nursing his scotch. Ellen figured they were busy or trying to eat somewhere else since no one but Benny could cook and he was with the others.
When Dean walked in, she knew that something had gone wrong. She could feel it in ever bone of her body. The way he stood, the way he looked around for her, the way he didn’t have Jo with him. She rounded the bar, her eyes narrowed at the Winchester. She took steps toward him as she spoke, her voice cold and hard. “Where the hell is my daughter?”
Charlie looked slightly startled at the question. This place was new, unfamiliar, and she was busy taking in the surroundings - mostly the fact that some of the other patrons looking at her contempt. But she shrugged it off easily; she was getting more used to other hunters usually less than accepting attitude towards her.
Brushing some hair behind her ear, Charlie answered, “Uhm, a water would be fine.” She cast a weak smile at the other woman.
She resisted the urge to laugh. The girl looked so uncomfortable in the bar it was amusing. She shot her a polite smile and pulled out a glass. The rest of the patrons looked at Ellen for a moment before going back to whatever they’d been doing before. They looked to her for a next call and since none was coming they knew to stay out of whatever was going on. She set the glass on the bar top, the ice chips clinking together and against the glass.
"Can I get you anything else? Got some pretty good food if you’re hungry." She didn’t peg the girl as a hunter though it was a possibility. She looked too innocent to know some of the real costs of hunting though. Ellen wasn’t going to be the first one to mention anything in case the girl didn’t fit her regular patrons.
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.