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unexpectedly more comment fic

Oh, man. I am not planning on making this a habit. Don't think this is any kind of indication of the volume of comment fic I'm intending to traffic. But I ran across the prompt, buried way down in the post of the very first episode, of the quote that pretty much hooked me into Show. And it wasn't really filled (alluded to in a fic filling a prompt from 1.04), and then there was the whole mine! mine! *grabby hands* thing going on. Not that I am not very mature. I am.


Title: ain't completely alone
Ficverse: SPN (in-universe AU, in this case)
SPN comment!fic
Rating: Gen / PG
Length: 1250 ish
Characters: Bobby, Ellen, wee!Jo
Prompted and posted: from 1.01, Pilot
Dean: I can't do this alone.
Sam: Yes, you can.
Dean: Yeah. Well, I don't want to.

Notes: this one kind of unfolded on a couple of levels. Mostly driven by the idea that, really, everyone is kind of alone. But that's not the whole story. Cheerful, huh?
Warnings/Spoilers: pre-series, angsting.
Feedback: let's hear it. The good, the bad, the ugly....

When he woke, he knew in his waters that something wasn’t right. After – well, he was honestly beginning to forget how many – years of hunting, that was something you looked to.

Then he heard it, the dim sound that had reached into his dreams and pulled him out, and it was brutally familiar. Reluctance replaced alarm and he closed his eyes again.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t do the same with his ears. He endured less than a minute before dragging himself out of bed and casting around for pants. Of all the things a man could face in boxers, this was not one.

At the door he paused, running a hand through his unkempt hair. Greasy. But the only cap he had with him was the one with the pig on it, and damned if he was gonna wear that right now. Quietly, he slipped out into the hallway and took two hesitant steps before he realized he wasn’t alone.

Well ... crap.

That little huddle was an awfully familiar shape. The head lifted, and wide, frightened eyes peered up at him from behind white-blonde bangs, and for a second he was tempted to look away. He’d seen that look on John’s boys before, too, when they were younger – Dean especially, although he got good at hiding it – and it always twisted sick in his gut. There was precious little to be grateful for in Karen’s death, but at least she hadn’t left any children behind to be raised by his sorry ass. Left behind to be lost and frightened and alone because their world was crumbling around a wreck of an adult who’d lost their soulmate in the job of holding that world up.

“Hey, Miss Jo,” he started, keeping his voice low, but got no further before the angel-faced tyke scrambled to her feet and fled silently back to her room, a vanishing wisp of pale hair and nightgown.

Case in point, right there: he was secretly relieved. He didn’t know how to deal with a crying little girl. He didn’t know much better how to deal with a crying woman, either, but there was no kind of choice going. Pastor Jim had a room downstairs, but that was the coward’s option, no mistake. Besides, the man had spent half the day conducting a hunter’s funeral, and the other half dealing with the compound-interest grief and guilt of John Jackass Winchester, before resorting to drinking him under a table. That was a pastor who’d earned his sleep and then some.

The crack of the door let a soft line of light out, and when he got closer, the clearly wracking sobs of the strongest woman he knew. He waited for the courage to push it open, but when it didn’t come, took a breath and put his hand to it anyway.

It took a second to find her, sitting on the floor, curled fetally against the side of her bed. She was rocking with the force of the pain trying to escape through her lungs, and he wanted nothing so much as to walk away from this stark replay of his own time of bereavement.

“Ellen,” he said softly, wondering if she’d even hear him. He came a little closer and tried again. “Ellen.”

She shuddered, acknowledging him with a twitch of her head and a brief, futile attempt to get herself under control. Then the next sob ripped from her, so he grabbed the box of kleenex from the bedside table, and sank down next to her silently on the floor.

For a few seconds, he felt her powerful pride strive to stem the tide of tears, but there was no holding that flood with gates already busted wide open. He knew the moment she gave in again, because she reached for him, clinging awkwardly with limbs askew; he shifted in closer and wrapped her up, letting her collapse against him.

“Shhsh,” he murmured, more for an audible presence than to trying to suppress her. A few times he almost opened his mouth to say something, but what? “It’s gonna be okay”? “Don’t cry”? What? He couldn’t bring himself to say either of those things, or any of their nonsense variants.

It took time, but she began to subside. When she was a little calmer, he suddenly found the memory of young Dean Winchester’s hardened face making him blurt, “Ellen, I – I think you might have scared Jo. I think she heard you.”

The look of horror she gave him nearly made him bite his tongue off with remorse. “Oh, God, Bobby – I can’t do this,” she said, voice cracking. “I can’t do it without him. I can’t do this alone – Jo –” She broke off, a fresh overflow contorting her face.

Bobby rested his chin against her hair and rode out this wave with her, too, trying to think of what to say. It would be easier to stay silent, to let things be, but somehow John’s boys weren’t letting him. He wondered when he’d got so damn clucky, and then ignored the answering tendril of old wishing that he’d buried with Karen. It wasn’t his life. It would never be.

“Ellen, I ain’t got any right to say this to you, but can or can’t, you have to. You’re all Jo’s got. You grieve all you like, all you need” – and wasn’t he just a hypocrite, dispensing advice none of them had ever been able to follow – “but don’t you ever let yourself turn your back on tryin’ to love her and protect her.”

Her eyes, bloodshot and hopeless, rose to find his, seeking who knew what. “I don’t think I can, Bobby,” she whispered. “Bill....”

“That’s fear talkin’. Fear and – and not thinkin’ you’ll ever heal from this pain.” He almost gritted his teeth. If those kids’ eyes weren’t fresh in his mind, he never could have said such hard things to a new-made widow. “And ... sometimes some self-pity. Believe me, we’ve all done that dance. But Jo doesn’t deserve for you to refuse to get up out of that mess.”

Something stiffened in her eyes, but it didn’t make her pull away from him. He watched her carefully, and saw the beginning of resolve sprout, way down in the bedrock. Relief grew in him to mirror it.

“I’m sorry, Ellen. I’m sorry it’s this way, that you’re left this on your own. But I ain’t sorry it’s you Jo’s got. For what it’s worth, I think if anyone can do it, you can. And I know it ain’t much, but Jim and me, we’ll be around. One call, and I’ll come running. I promise you that. You ain’t completely alone.”

Ellen bowed her head for a long breath, then nodded. A final clench of her fists where they gripped his shirt, and she let go, reaching for the kleenex. It took her a few minutes, and half the box, to clean herself up, but she got there, getting unsteadily to her feet to dump the pile in the trash. A few tugs and tucks to straighten herself out and a final deep breath, and she met his eyes with steel in her spine.

He smiled a little, proud of her, and she placed a quick kiss on his cheek before slipping out the door to find her daughter.

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January 2016
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