Who was bringing up three very lovely girls...
Wow, such a huge response! 22 reviews in less than 22 hours, that's fantastic. I love you all.
Things I should have mentioned in the last chapter: For those of you who didn't get it, the title of the fic is from one of Sam's very first lines in the pilot episode of Supernatural. The chapter titles are from the lyrics to the Brady Bunch
theme song. (If you're not from the US/too young to remember, The Brady Bunch
was an American sitcom in the 70's about a woman with three daughters who married a man with three sons, and how they all learned to live together. I thought it appropriate.)
For this chapter: All medical information comes from BrainAneurysm.com.
“This is impossible.”
John said it out loud, hoping that somehow he could force the notion into his brain and hers. Because it was. There was absolutely no way
he would re-marry, not like this. Not even drunk. Mary’s memory wouldn’t let him. The ring he still wore on his left ring finger wouldn’t let him. His job sure as fuck
wouldn’t let him.
He felt a small, warm hand on his forearm, steadying the shakes he hadn’t even noticed he had.
“Hey. Don’t worry. We’ll get an annulment right away.” Joyce’s eyes were sincere, her voice soft and gentling, and John calmed despite himself. “Let’s finish getting dressed and we’ll go find a lawyer.” She lifted onto her toes to brush a kiss to his cheek, then turned away and began digging through her suitcase.
Taking a deep breath, John let the incriminating paper drop onto the dresser and mechanically set about pulling on his socks and boots. When he looked up again, Joyce had pulled on a pair of white capri-length pants and was sliding into flat white sandals. She grabbed her purse and keycard from the table and waited while he stuffed his wallet and phone into his jean pockets. He stopped and studied her.
“Thanks,” he said quietly. “I didn’t mean to panic on you.”
“It’s alright. You panic very quietly,” she replied. He felt the corners of his mouth twitch into a smile. “We were drunk. It happens. It’s not as if I was looking to get remarried, either. Not that you wouldn’t be a great husband – I’m sure you would be – but I think that particular decision should be made only after lots of consideration and preferably while sober.”
“I can’t believe I would make that decision at all
,” John rumbled, twisting his ring on his finger like he always did when he was twitchy. Joyce nodded in understanding.
“Well. Whatever your reasoning, you’re obviously regretting it now. So let’s fix it.” She strode for the door, and John found himself following in her shadow, thinking disjointedly that he hadn’t let a woman take charge like this since Mary.
Of course, he hadn’t had a problem like this since Mary. Hunting and taking care of his family were the things he did and did well. Romance, marriage, the issues and legalities of a normal life....that was a different story. If Mary hadn’t taken the initiative he never would have learned her name, never would have kissed her, never would have asked her out.
And now, here he was, with another take-charge woman, however temporarily. He couldn’t help but think that if Mary was still alive, she and Joyce would have gotten on famously, giggling and snarking and poking fun at him behind his back.
John’s thoughts were interrupted when Joyce took his arm and steered him into a dining room. He blinked at the remains of the hotel’s complementary continental breakfast.
Joyce studied him for a moment, then moved away. She came back a few moments later with a cup of cheap black coffee and a croissant roll.
“Eat,” she said, in a tone that brooked no argument. “You look like you could use it.”
Staring at her, John felt his melancholy fall away a bit.
Yeah, Mary would have approved of her.
After filling up on free food, John and Joyce walked a few blocks to the nearest lawyer’s office. They chatted about anything and nothing, and Joyce found that as long as she kept John’s mind off of their apparent matrimony, he was as companionable and engaging out in the sun as he was in the bedroom.
A few minutes later, Joyce had drawn several conclusions about this almost-stranger. One, he had loved his wife very, very much. Two, his sons were the center of his universe, and he would do anything to keep them safe and happy. Three, he was hiding something.
The first two told her what kind of man he was, and she liked what she saw. The third left her curious. What should have been off-putting instead lent an air of mystery to him that she found strangely appealing. She found herself comparing him to Hank, and in every way she could think of her ex-husband lost. John was better looking, smarter, funnier, and more respectful than Hank had ever been.
He was also a better father, and she told him so.
John’s smile was self-deprecating.
“Not everyone would agree with you.”
At her questioning look, John sighed and ran a hand through his dark hair.
“I move around a lot. I haven’t been able to stay in one place for very long, not since...” He trailed off, and she reached out and squeezed his hand. He returned the squeeze with a grateful smile, and to her delight did not drop her hand afterwards.
“Anyway, I just couldn’t live in a real house long enough to make it my own, you know? It always started to feel wrong
after a while. So then I’d pack us up and we’d be on the road again.”
“That must have been rough on your sons. Just changing towns once was bad enough for me and my girls.”
“They never really knew any different. Sometimes it’s not me who suggests that we move again.”
They fell silent then, approaching the door to the offices of Lee & Geiger, Attorneys at Law. The receptionist nodded to them and Joyce strode right up to the desk.
“Can I help you?”
“We’d like to get an annulment.”
The receptionist, who looked like she could have been a classmate of Buffy’s, raised an eyebrow.
“Do you have an appointment?”
“Do we need one?” Joyce countered.
Overpainted lips quirked into an amused smile.
“Around the holidays, yeah. But right now I think I can get you in.” She flipped open an appointment book and perused the pages. “Mr. Geiger is in with a client right now, but he should be free in a half-hour or so, if you’d like to wait.”
“That will be fine, thank you.” Joyce shot John a look that said ‘see? Nothing to worry about.’ He smiled and shook his head at her as they sat.
They continued to talk while they waited, in low voices so the receptionist wouldn’t get too nosy. After a few minutes, Joyce dug around in her purse and came up with a bottle of prescription painkiller.
“You alright?” John asked, cutting out mid-sentence. She met his concerned eyes with a smile that she tried to keep the tightness out of.
“Fine. Headache. I get them a lot, since the...” She indicated her temple.
“Ah,” he said, nodding. She swallowed a couple pills dry, made a face, then steered him back into conversation.
After a few more minutes, John frowned and put a hand on her shoulder.
“Are you sure
With a start, Joyce realized she’d been grimacing and rubbing her head. She quickly dropped her hand and sat back.
“Yes, I’m – ” She stopped. Where there should have been one John, there were suddenly two. “Um. Maybe not,” she whispered.
“Do you need a doctor? Should I call an ambulance?”
“I don’t think – ah!” Sharp daggers of pain flared through her skull, and her vision went white. She felt John’s strong arms catch her as she pitched forward.
The last thing she heard before white turned to black was John’s deep voice commanding the secretary to call 911.
John looked up through his fingers at the young doctor standing over him.
“How is she?”
The young man – Dr. Johnson, if he recalled correctly – smiled in what was probably supposed to be a reassuring way.
“She’s stable, for now. Her CAT scan shows that the surgically implanted clip meant to close off the aneurysm has slipped.” He sat on the bench next to John, his clipboard on his lap. “We could perform another surgery to replace it, but it would be costly and carries a great risk of complications. Going into someone’s brain once is bad enough.”
John clasped his hands in front of him, bracing his elbows on his knees, and stared at his ring.
“Are there any other options?”
The doctor nodded. “There’s a new procedure called endovascular coiling. So far it’s shown great potential.”
“Basically,” the doctor said, “we would insert a thin catheter into the big artery in her thigh and guide it up through the bloodstream to the aneurysm. Then we’d use the catheter to insert tiny platinum coils into the aneurysm, which float around and tangle up in each other until she’s got a ball of platinum blocking the blood flow. No blood in the aneurysm, no chance of rupture.”
“Then you just pull out the catheter and stitch her up?”
“Exactly. It’s relatively non-invasive. We don’t even have to put her under; she can just have local anesthesia or a light sedative. It’s far less dangerous than brain surgery, and cheaper, too.”
“Then why are you out here talking to me?” John rumbled. “Go do it.”
“Believe me, I’d love to. If a procedure isn’t begun soon, we’re not going to be able to stop the rupture. But we need the signature of the next-of-kin. Ms. Summers’ condition has caused mental instability, so she can’t legally agree to her own treatment.”
John rubbed his stubble thoughtfully. He could call Joyce’s daughter – what was her name? Betty? – and get her to sign. But California was a long way away, and Joyce needed the procedure now
“I’ll sign,” he said. “I’m her husband.”
The doctor’s mouth twitched. “I thought maybe you were.” He held out the clipboard, indicating where John should sign. As soon as the forms were completed, the doctor stood.
“We’ll get her prepped for the procedure right away. It’s a pretty slow and tedious job, though, so she won’t be out for several hours at least.”
John nodded, and the doctor left.
Blowing out a long breath, John stared down at the white leather handbag at his side.
What a mess. He hadn’t even been married twenty-four hours yet and his wife was already in a life-threatening condition.
In truth, he didn’t owe her anything. But he couldn’t, wouldn’t
leave her now, not like this. He’d wait until everything was done and Joyce was recovered before he brought up annulment again. She deserved that much.
Pulling the handbag into his lap, he started rifling through it.
Her cell phone. Good. He wasn’t looking forward to calling her daughters, but it had to be done, and soon. This would hopefully tell him what numbers to call. While he was at it, he’d have to call home and tell his sons he wouldn’t be home as scheduled, and Caleb to get him to put another hunter on the Grimalken hunt. He wasn’t sorry about that at all – the little bastard was what got him into this mess in the first place.
Her wallet, with – thank God – her insurance card. That needed to go to the front desk ASAP. Money always needed to be taken care of quickly, so the sick didn’t need to worry.
Pepper spray, various cosmetics, a Swiss Army knife, a checkbook. And at the bottom of the bag, a single airline ticket.
He unfolded it and frowned. She was supposed to fly home tonight.
Which meant he’d have to go back and check her out of her hotel. As it was she was probably going to have late check-out charges.
John zipped the bag closed and stood.
He had work to do.