ll_cool_cj (ll_cool_cj) wrote in remixredux08,
ll_cool_cj
ll_cool_cj
remixredux08

Emet (the Bitter with the Sweet remix) pt. 2 [Supernatural; Jo, Dean/OC, Sam; R]

Title: Emet (the Bitter with the Sweet remix)--Part 2 of 2
Author: ll_cool_cj
Summary: the Winchesters are a package deal, and George Clay will never be Dean’s top priority.  Not while Sam is alive—not even, Jo realizes, when Sam isn’t alive.
Fandom: Supernatural
Pairing: Dean/OC, allusions to Dean/Jo and Dean/Sam
Rating: R
Disclaimer: Supernatural characters belong to their creators; OC belongs to rivkat
Original story: Dabarim by Rivkat

 Part 1 is here

 

11.

Jo puts George in the spare bedroom; if George ever remembers sleeping elsewhere with Dean, he doesn't mention it.  She’ll figure out what the hell to do about him in the morning.  Her phone rings (again) as she’s getting into her own bed.  The display tells her that it’s Sam calling (again).  The phone chirps, sending the call to voicemail.  This will be the fifth message he’s left since she’d driven away from the cemetery.

Jo balances the phone on her palm for a moment, judging its weight, and then hurls it against the wall of her room.  It does not ring again.

12.

The sky is spitting a chilly April rain the next morning, but Jo goes running anyway. There’s a beat-up duffel bag waiting on the delivery bay steps when she returns. No sign of the Impala or the Winchesters.  She hauls it upstairs. 

“Your luggage,” she announces sourly.

George looks up from the newspaper.  “Oh.  Thanks.  I made coffee.” He gestures to a mug sitting on the table next to a defrosting packet of broccoli.

“Ok,” Jo says finally, because really, it’s not George’s fault the Winchesters screwed him over.  They have a habit of doing that to people.  And if George isn’t exactly people…well, still.  The point stands.

She picks up the mug—it’s nice and hot after her cold run—and reaches for the sugar bowl.

“I already added sugar,” George says absently. “One teaspoon.”

“Thanks,” Jo says, trying to remember if she’d ever told him how she took her coffee.

George just shrugs.  “Hey, I was looking over the police blotter—there’s this guy in, uh, Observatory Hill just died.  No apparent cause, but several suspicious bite marks.” 

Jo sits down, puts the frozen broccoli on her knee, and takes the section he’s handing her.

13.

Marie is delighted to see George again.  More and more frequently, when Jo comes home from work, she finds the two of them in the kitchen, mixing up a batch of something.  Her boss is thinking about expanding, opening the front of the bar as a coffee area, and George is content to listen to Marie dither over possible paint schemes all day.

("I'm thinking about calling this place The Bittersweet Bakery,"  she says one day. 

"Sounds good," George says and Marie bestows such a smile that Jo can't help but interject,  "Not very appetizing." 

"Oh, yeah, that's true," George agrees, immediately, as though there is no contradiction).

The rest of the staff like George well enough, too.  Why shouldn’t they? He’s always happy to pitch in and restock ingredients or to run a last minute delivery across town.  He’ll make endless batches of basic bread dough or chocolate chip cookies, freeing time for everyone else to do the more interesting, more elaborate recipes.  He’s the only one with the patience to make lace cookies according to Marie’s grandmother’s recipe, whipping them off the griddle a second before they burn so that they’re crisp and perfect. He'd  drop any one of those tasks in a heartbeat if Jo asked him to, but she never asks.

The only one who seems to be ambivalent about Jo’s “cousin” is Jo herself.

It’s not that she doesn’t like him, Jo decides.  She just doesn’t know him—though that’s a weird thing to say about someone who lives with you, who followed you to work ‘til you told him to knock it off, who spends his weekends assisting you in activities of questionable legality.  George knows how she takes her coffee, knows she likes to read the City section of the paper first, knows she’s fanatical about using the parking brake when she drives, that she overcorrects and aims slightly to the left of her target when she gets nervous.  He hands her the auto classifieds before she even mentions that she’s saved up enough to buy a car.  Two weeks later, he mentions seeing one she might like while out on a delivery run.  It’s perfect, and cheap, and she almost doesn’t buy it just because he suggested it. Another day, while cleaning the house, she blasts her old R.E.O/T.W.O album: he can sing every word even though she’d bet good money that he’d never heard it before.

And through all of this, Jo is keenly aware that she knows nothing at all about him.  There’s nothing to know.  He has no opinions or preferences that aren’t hers. When she mentions Atlanta or the Winchesters, he’s polite but hardly curious. He knows things—about Nebraska, about hunting—that he couldn’t possibly know, but his memory starts, for all intents and purposes, one night in a graveyard with her.

Lying in bed, Jo wonders if George has really forgotten all about Dean.  Maybe the memories are there, but locked away.  There’s a magic word that animates him; maybe if she knew the right word, she could retrieve those stories that he told her the first time they met, about what it was like to hunt with the Winchesters.  Dean’s—well, a pretty memorable guy, to put it diplomatically.  Even if he weren’t, it just doesn’t seem possible that anyone could completely forget someone who they… 

Jo gradually realizes that Dean and George slept right here, in her bed, that first time they visited.  She shifts, newly aware of the knobby spring on the left side.  A door squeaks somewhere—and suddenly, George stumbles into her room, looking less than half-awake.  His hair sticks up on one side and he’s wearing his usual pajamas: a raggedy t-shirt and scrub pants with STORMONT-VAIL stenciled down one leg.  (Jo has never asked).

“Hi,” he says around a yawn.

“What are you doing?”  she hisses, resisting the urge to pull the sheets up to her chin like a maiden aunt.

“You didn’t want me?” George looks confused.  “You don’t need anything?”

“No!”

“Oh.”  He scrubs a hand through his crazy hair.  “Are you sure?” he asks, like she might somehow be mistaken.

“Yes! Yes, I’m sure!”

“Huh.  Ok.  G’night.” He wanders back out into the living room and Jo can hear his footsteps as he crosses back to his bed. Jo stares after him.  Weird.  Fucking weird.

She expects the next morning to be awkward, at the very least, but George seems to have completely forgotten about barging into her room.  It occurs to Jo that maybe she summoned him, mentally, somehow.  After all, she had been thinking about him…and Dean…and her bed...  She chokes on a bite of muffin. George is at hand with a glass of water instantly, and if she’s blushing it’s just because she couldn’t get enough air for a moment.  Not because she was thinking—well, not because she thought George might know what she was thinking. Which was nothing.  She wasn’t thinking about anything at all.

14.

On their next trip to the library, Jo sends George off to the microfilm room and head off to the mythology/religion section herself.  It’s more efficient to split the research like this; George can be trusted with basic photocopying and they’ll just meet up by the circulation desk at 3:00 PM.  When Jo darts into the World Religions alcove, she barely allows herself to consider what she’s doing.  When she requests an Atlanta-area phonebook and starts jotting down the names of synagogues, though, it gets harder to deceive herself.

Maybe it’s a guilty conscience, but that night she dreams of the Roadhouse for the first time in months.  She’s shelving glasses along the bar which, for some reason, is lit by a series of tall candles.  The candles—tall, ecclesiastical pillars—are all wrong, but Jo accepts them with the equanimity that comes with dreams.  Everything else is just like it was: the heavy-bottomed glasses, the worn dish rag, the faint click-rattle of the jukebox as the needle pivots and falls.  There’s someone sitting at the end of the bar, flipping idly through a thick book.  When the room lightens, the way it does sometimes in dreams, Jo can see that it’s Ash.

“Found the answer,” he tells her casually.

“What answer?”

“About the golem.”  He slides the book down the bar to her, knocking one of the candles askew. He stands up and walks to her.  “It’s a book on robotics.  Had it at school. Golems are kind of like robots.  Or computers.  Can only do what they’re programmed to do.”

“Well, can’t we change the program?”  Jo demands.

Ash shrugs laconically.  “Dunno.  Ask the system administrator.”

He's wearing a flannel shirt, just like Dean’s, and Jo knows before it happens: the sleeve is going to catch fire.  The candle that he’d bumped with the book is tipping, tipping, closer to his shoulder where he stands at the bar.

Jo opens her lips to warn him, but she can’t get any words out.  Her tongue is stuck, her mouth full of Marie’s lemon bars, sour and too sweet. She reaches out to grab him, but he’s just a few inches beyond her grasp.

“What?”  he asks.  The candle, she tries to tell him.  The fire! But it’s too late: the flame catches at his wrist, races up his arm, turns his hair into a burning halo.  And now, now that it’s too late, Jo finds she can scream.

“Whoah!  Hey—ouch!  Careful!”  George is talking to her, dodging her fists as she tries to shove him away.  Jo pulls away from him, sits up in bed. She’s still in her room in Pittsburgh. The Roadhouse is gone, Ash is gone.  None of it was real.

“You were talking in your sleep,” George explains.

“I was not,” Jo says automatically, just to be contrary. 

“Ok,” George agrees. “Maybe not.”

He stands barefoot next to her bed, like the statue he is.  He would stand there all night, Jo knows, but now the demons are in her own head, and how can he protect her there? 

“Here,” she says, and holds open the rumpled blankets.  “Don’t just stand there.”

She’s still feeling jumpy, shaky with adrenaline, as she slides over to make room for him.  George, however, is not at all perturbed by her behavior.  He happily arranges the pillow and sighs contentedly. Five minutes later, Jo figures he’s asleep, but, all of a sudden he whispers, like a kid at camp after lights out. “So, why does everyone here call you Joan?”

For a moment, she doesn’t know what to say; she decides to go with the truth.  “Because I told them it was my name.”

“Mmm,” George snuffles.  He doesn’t seem to wonder why she might not want to tell them her real name.  Jo wonders if he has a real name, something his creator called him before giving him to Dean.  What does he call himself in his own mind?

“Joan was a warrior-saint,” he observes.  “The men didn’t want to let her fight, but in the end they had to, because she was brave and powerful. And, y'know, pure of heart," he adds, like that was a necessary job requirement.

What?” Jo turns, startled, to look into eyes that are greener than they once were.

“I read about it in the library today,” George replies, muffled by the pillow.

Jo wonders if he knows what she was reading about in the library today.

15.

As a kid, Jo had spent every July going to day camp at the Holy Love Baptist Tabernacle, which started life as a track shed sold off cheap when the Missouri Pacific Railroad went bust. (Pastor Blakely’s default sermon involved the stone which the builders reject becoming the foundation of the Church). When she wakes the next morning, with George spooned behind her, his arm thrown over her waist, Jo finds herself thinking about the Tabernacle for the first time in years. She knows exactly what she is going to do, and she knows that George cannot come with her.

Jo hadn’t been “raised religious,” exactly, but the Canteer kids down the road were brought up in the Church and there was no one else to play with when they went to camp, so she’d tagged along. Didn’t much care for the choir, but on Wednesdays and Fridays, they had crafts.  There was a big Fourth of July picnic for the whole congregation and, on clear summer nights, open-air showings of The Ten Commandments, projected in all its Technicolor glory onto sheets hung along the side of the building.

 Although Ellen never took any interest in the Tabernacle herself, she had no objections: “If it keeps my Jo out of trouble…well, I’ll thank the Lord for that miracle.” (“Amen,” Daddy responded). And if anyone disapproved of either Jo’s fair-weather faith or her parents’ place of business, they heeded the Pastor’s words about casting stones and Jo never heard a word about it.  The summer she was seven, however, John Winchester comes to town to help Bill Harvelle with a little job, leaves his boys at the Roadhouse, and that had been the end of Bible Camp, as far as Jo was concerned.  She’d trailed along behind Dean and Sam all over the dusty county, exploring abandoned farm outbuildings, damming the creek by Thomas Road, training the mutt Sam adopted.  It had been a perfect, golden summer until John Winchester returned, alone, and everything changed.

 Jo rolls over, snuggling herself deeper into the pillows.  George shifts behind her; rare that she’s the first awake.  Usually, no matter how early she rises, George is already in the kitchen, brewing coffee and laying out sugar. Funny how she’d forgotten that summer so completely; she hadn’t even recognized the Winchester boys (all grown, and how!) when they walked through the Roadhouse door two years ago. She doesn’t know why she’s thinking of it now. 

 Restless, she rolls over again; rain spatters the windowpanes.  The story of the Forty Days' Rain and the Ark was a summer favorite at Holy Love, and not a dumbed-down, kiddie version, either: the Holy Love congregants believe that, while God might appear in many guises, he spoke like King James.  There was a line from the Flood story—“the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth”—that had always puzzled Jo when she was little. Puzzled her even after she grew up and learned that all it really meant was that God decided all his people were a little damaged from the start, so there was no use wrecking the world over it.

 It was the imagination part that threw her off.  It hadn’t really made sense until a year and a half ago, when  she’d found herself staring at the demon who had been Sam Winchester—who still was Sam Winchester, inside somewhere. Then, finally, she'd understood: pair an occipital thumb with the creativity of an advanced frontal lobe and the capacity for evil is astounding.  Of course, by the same token, the imagination of the heart could be used for a lot of good, too, and Jo has to admit that the Winchesters probably break even on that score.  In fact, they’re probably out slaying evil even as she’s laying here in bed with her walking, talking statue.

 Jo finds George’s hand among the blankets, links her fingers through his.  They’re perfect: totally human, except for a faint dryness.  Jo looks at her own hands, almost expecting them to bear traces of clay. They don’t, of course. Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return, Jo remembers from the Ash Wednesday service at Marie’s church.  Marie, who had the business sense of one of those damned lilies of the field, had volunteered to make hot cross buns for the whole Lenten crowd and brought Jo along to help.  Saint Stanislaus was consecrated to the souls of Polish steelworkers, who hadn’t skimped on the marble or goldleaf, knowing that they’d be sending pictures back to the old country. It was totally unlike the Tabernacle, but somehow familiar.  Maybe that’s what had made her think of Pastor Blakely and his sermons.  It's a well-timed lesson: we are all  as we are made, and none of us perfect.

 She kicks her feet free of the blankets, steps onto the cold floor.  George mumbles until she whispers that she’ll be right back.  Jo grabs her phone on the way out of the room, digs a wad of notes from her coat pocket.  She goes down to the empty barroom to make her calls, actually steps out into the misty morning and phones from the front steps, as though George might somehow read her mind if she stays any closer. It’s silly, of course, especially since she more than half believes he’d lay in bed waiting forever if she told him she’d be back soon.

 The synagogue is called Beth Jacob, which means Jo only has to call her way through the As and half of the Bs in the Atlanta phone listing she’d copied at the library.  She knows it’s the right one because the rabbi doesn’t hang up on her as soon as she mentions the golem. Talk to the system administrator.

 “You don’t want it anymore?”  the rabbi—Rabbi Simcha—sounds puzzled and a little hurt.

 “It’s not that I don’t appreciate it,” Jo finds herself explaining.  “It’s just more, uh, more responsibility than I can—I’m not perfect.  I’m meant to be doing something else, something that I think George just isn’t cut out for.”

“Who’s George?”

 “The golem...you sure you don't want him back? I mean, he’s a great guy.  Good security.  Knows how to cook...”

 “Golem must have masters.  They must do what they are called upon to do.  When their task is finished, so are they,” the rabbi protests.

 “That’s a no, then?”

 "If you cannot give the golem to a master who needs it, you’ll have to destroy it,” Rabbi Simcha says decisively.

 “Hey, he’s not hurting anything!” Jo protests. “I just think he should have a chance to spend his life doing things…other than what I’m going to do,” she finishes lamely, thinking the rabbi might be professionally opposed to people who destroy supernatural beings.

Rabbi Simcha wasn’t having it: “You cannot allow a golem to roam without a master.”

 Jo picks at a thumbnail.“What do I do?”

 "You must alter the word of power imprinted on the golem; erase the first e so that it reads met.”

 Met?”

 "Yes.”

 “Ok,” Jo jots the word onto the back of her photocopy.  “What’s that mean?”

In Atlanta, the rabbi takes a deep breath.  Jo can hear the pause down the line.  “Death.”

 “Oh….so once I do that—change the word of power—he’ll die?”

 “It can’t die: it’s not really alive.  But it will cease to be,” the rabbi concludes.

 “Oh,” Jo says again.  Her thumb is bleeding.  “One last question…does he—it—does the golem have a name? Like, when you were, I don’t know, thinking him up or whatever, did you give him a name?”

 “Uh, yes.  I did.”  The rabbi sounds almost sheepish, and then she says something completely unintelligible.  It doesn’t sound like Hebrew—must be Yiddish—and she has to repeat it twice and spell it out phonetically before Jo even knows what she’s saying. 

 Jo repeats it to herself as she crosses the kitchen and climbs back upstairs.  Somehow, it’s easier if she doesn’t think of him as George

 The apartment is totally still; George hasn’t been up.  Of course not: he stayed right where Jo told him to, and that’s just one reason why this would never, never work. She can’t have a hunting partner who won’t contradict her—can’t have a partner who won’t argue with herabout tactics and fight over the motel remote and bitch about her music selection or her choice of weaponry.  She doesn’t trust herself enough to have that powerful creation magic at her beck and call.  Only the very holy should have that kind of power: man’s imagination is too evil.

 One of George’s bare feet is sticking out from under the covers, and when Jo kneels down, she can see the maker’s mark—the word of power, sketched like old scar tissue. If she told him to, he would simply walk out of the building, dive into the Monongahela, and dissolve.  She traces a thumb over the letters.

 “Hey!”  George pulls his foot back.  “That tickles!” 

“Sorry,” Jo says, standing.  Then, before he can react, she dips her fingers into his brain—and Jesus, that’s a weird feeling: tingles all the way up her arm, like touching a low-volt livewire.

 George puts his own hand up to his head once she pulls her fingers free.

 “What was that?”

 Jo holds up her photocopy, now missing a strip where she’d torn away the phonetic spelling the rabbi had dictated to her. “Your name.”

 George looks confused.  “I…don’t know what that means.”

 “Means you’re your own boss now." Jo explains.  “It’s time for me to leave—tomorrow, maybe next day.  You’re welcome to come with me, but I’m sure Marie would keep you on, if you’d rather do that. So…just think about it.”

 “Yes,” George says slowly. “I’ll have to do that, won’t I?”

16.

 Jo leaves him in bed to sort out the rest of his life and walks out the living room, looking out at the river as she dials.

 “Hey, Ma.  It’s me.  No, everything’s fine.  How’re you?  Yeah? Good.  I’m gonna try and , uh, catch up with the Winchesters.  Heard any news about them lately?”


 


 

References:

Emet

"Eve Speaks"

 
Tags: character: dean winchester, character: jo harvelle, character: sam winchester, fandom: supernatural, original author: rivkat, rating: r, remix author: 2ndary_author
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