Gift for Meatball42

Dec 16, 2014 17:52

Title: A Sea of Voices
Gifter: Brutti ma buoni
Pairing/Characters: Pamela, Jo
Word count/Medium: 1600
Rating: R
Warnings: Casefic, for a painful case which deals with the death of young children, and bereaved mothers. Nothing explicit, but please be aware when you click.
Summary: Jo needs help, and the hunters' network sends her Pamela's way.

It's all about the network. The news, the rumours, the guys who know guys, and who - even though you're a gal and a newbie and they don't rate you - will point you toward another guy who maybe, just maybe, can send you to the psychic you need.

Which is to say, Jo Harvelle met Pamela Barnes a hell of a time before the Winchesters did, and nobody's eyes burned out, which was just fine in the opinion of all concerned.

"You're Bill Harvelle's girl," said the psychic, before Jo had a chance to introduce herself. "You don't look it. Good for you. But I hope you got his balls, cuz you'll need 'em." She turned and waved airily as she sashayed back into the house. "C'mon honey, get in here and tell me alllll about the big bad spook you got on your mind."

Jo loved her Daddy, while she had him, and the way Pamela just talked was enough to rile her. Which was precisely what Pamela had in mind, of course. Jo knew it, following on, trying to get her cool back together. Not that she didn’t trust Pamela, the network was very clear about her being on the side of the angels, so to speak, but she didn’t like being mocked too much.

“I’m here because I need your help,” she said. That was a tip from Ellen, make clear you’re prepared to be in the other person’s debt, no shame in it. But say it straight and strong, so they know you’re not grovelling.

Worked well with Pamela, it appeared. A wide smile dawned, like sunshine between stormclouds. “Sure you do, sugar. Want to come in and make it worth my while?”

Jo didn't blink, didn't recoil. The network was pretty clear about what to expect in the way of flirtation too. (“You might get off without, being a slip of a girl,” one grizzled hunter had said, “But I doubt it.” He’d leered, trying to make Jo uncomfortable, and failing by a country mile. She’d gently tapped her holster, waiting for him to give up the intel she needed, and after a little posturing, she got it.) “Got no cash. What’ll you take in kind?”

Pamela spun on her heel and sashayed (yes, really, Jo’d never seen it before, but that hip swing deserved no less a verb) inside. “Info, power, weaponry, sex. The usual, sweet cheeks. Make me an offer.”

The offer was mostly power, a couple objects from Bill Harvelle’s lockup that Jo had neither magic nor inclination to use, and that wouldn't end the world if they fell from Miz Barnes’ grasp into evil. Pamela shrugged. “Could be that’ll do it. Whaddya need?”

Jo outlined the case, the missing kids, mom like a wraith, hollowed out by loss and perhaps a little more than loss. “I wanted her here, but she won’t leave home in case they call.”

Pamela sighed. “Makes it harder, this end. And they won’t be callin’, honey. You know that.”

“Yeah. But she needs to know for sure.” Jo tapped her offered objects, meaningfully. “That a fair exchange?”

The laugh that greeted her is loud and bitter. “Sweetheart, you are no negotiator, you know that? I’d help you out for an eighth and a kiss, for a case like this. Sometimes, we just need to use our gifts to ease another person’s pain, and take a little something to ease our own. But since you’re offering, I’ll take the jade. It sings pretty.”

Jo said, “I got no weed on me. Bourbon do it for you?” She barely drank, but sometimes liquor loosened the right tongue at the right moment. And sometimes, the burn in your mouth made you know you were alive when you were not entirely sure which way up a case just ended. Pamela nodded, fetched shot glasses, and sat, opposite Jo.

“You’re gonna take my hands, and not let go, okay?” Pamela's palms were dry, her fingers slim and strong. Her gaze matched the grasp: direct, cool, challenging. “It’s gonna hurt you in your soul, but you knew that.”

“Yeah,” Jo said, calm. The worst of this was talking with the mother. The dead are all dead, and their worst is past. To know that again wouldn't shake her.

“Kids,” said Pamela, shaking her head. “Nothin’ but hostages to fortune.” It was harsh, not how Jo expected her to talk, but then Pamela loosed one hand, poured a little sand into the centre of their ringing arms, and set a glow flaming there. “Look at the flame, and see what it sends.” She took Jo’s hands again.

The first thing she saw was Pamela, so much younger, wild and pretty and pregnant as hell. “Not what we’re asking,” said the medium, calmly. “Move along.”

The image moved, to a cradle and a dent where a baby once rested, and Pamela on her knees beside it, tears leaking between the fingers which hid her face. “Still no. I’m not stopping for your little lightshow,” said Pamela. “Seen it, lived it, survived it. Go on.”

And there it was. Small child screamed. Knives plunged. Older child hurled herself at the demon, biting his arm, if you wanted to call it an arm. Discarded like a wet leaf in the autumn, flung against concrete, sprawling and broken. And on, and on. Three kids, all gone. The baby lasted longest, which Jo would not tell the mother. She looked away from the flame, sometimes, seeking relief, but Pamela’s gaze was steady and focused downwards. Witnessing.

Eventually she said, “Thank you.” The baby stopped screaming a while back, but its heart had kept beating till now. Tough little kid.

“You got everything you needed?” Pamela asked Jo. Who nodded in return, speechless. “Good. Then let’s let them go,” said Pamela, and sent something, like love, and permission, and farewell. The flame died. Pamela let go of Jo’s hands, and said, “Fuck, you better have brought the good stuff.”

Two fingers down and feeling warmer a half hour later on, Jo was curled up in Pamela’s huge couch, playing with the fringe on a throw and on her way to feeling no pain.

“You have the tolerance of a much younger infant,” said Pamela, kindly enough. “Lucky for you I have space to stash the occasional drunk hunter, huh?”

“Where’d you learn to drink, then?” Jo asked, tilting her head back to contemplate the ceiling, the pattern of light and shade cast by Pamela’s various lamps. “You hippy dippy types, you don’t drink so much, usually.”

“You think every seer is a new age herbal tea devotee?” Pamela laughed. It was probably the first time either of them laughed aloud since the end of the séance. The laugh was earthy and rough, and sent tingles through Jo. “Honey, I got my first vision at sixteen, out of my gourd in a mosh pit when my mom thought I was doing homework in the li-bra-reee.” She sang the last word, mockingly. “Never looked back. Never went back. Lived on the road a while. Bikers’ll take you a long way, if you ask them nice. And I learned. But seeing’s not about tie-dye and hemp, sugar. It’s about power.”

Jo asked idly, “Why’d you stop?” And then remembered the empty cradle and the silence. But Pamela wasn’t a one for take-backs, for sure.

“Why’d you think? Try getting on a bike when your belly’s at seven months, sweetheart. No biker will take you. And after, I didn’t want to move on a while. Long time ago.”

That was about all the explanation Jo was going to get, and she was cowardly glad of it. “How’d you live with seeing that, all the time? I work out the hell with fighting demons. Stabbing a freak in the gut as punishment takes away a lot of the pain, you know? But you just sit here, and see, and… what?”

A shrug from the seer, liquid and careless. “Wait, work out, sing, fuck, drink. Sweetheart, I have no problem letting go when it’s time. A seer who wears her past visions don’t have space for new, and that’s not me. You got to let go.”

Jo wondered whether Pamela was serious about that kiss, that touch of gaze on Jo when she said, ‘fuck’, whether this was something Jo would do, for a case, for letting go. It never was before, but-

“Kid,” said Pamela, and she said it with sweet finality. “You can put that look away. I only take people who are up to my weight. And you ain’t. Yet.”

It burned Jo’s biscuits a little, because this wasn’t the first dismissal she'd faced from an experienced hunting hand, not by a long chalk. But the 'yet' came with the kind of practiced glance Pamela probably offered every hunter who came to her door, hot and come-hither and promising one night for fun, and no more. Maybe Jo wasn't up for that. Not yet.

“More bourbon?” she said, plaintively. “Your couch is comfy.”

“One more, and then I’m cutting you off. And the rest is mine.” Pamela’s seductive look was all gone now. All business, and a cut line to her mouth, a pinch between her brows, said she was not anything like as okay as she pretended. Jo let it lie.

It was just one case. One of so many. She had to learn to let go, or someday a case would eat her alive. There were no candle flames in this room now. She didn't have to watch.

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