Cronicles" by: Tidia
Chapter 3: The Phone Rings
Drew knocked on his office door with one hand, Wall Street Journal tucked under his arm, while the other hand held a white bag and grande sized white cup with a brown wrapper. "I remembered how much you like the fruit and nut bar at Starbucks, so I got you the last one, along with your latte."
Joshua grew up being suspicious of kind acts towards him. Drew complained about coffee runs. He didn't do them without being prompted, and he certainly didn't add to them. "Did Carolyn call you?"
"Who?" Drew made an exaggeratedly perplexed face. "Oh, your girlfriend. . ."
It was all a dead giveaway, along with the phone calls and emails Carolyn sent him reminding him to eat, asking him what he had eaten, and what he was planning to eat. He knew he had lost weight, but forced feedings were not going to help him gain weight faster. "How much is she paying you?"
"Nothing!" Drew set the coffee and white bag in front of Joshua on his desk blotter. From just the smell Joshua could tell the latte contained whole milk and not his usual 2%. "I'm doing this out of the kindness of my heart for the best boss ever."
The flowering compliment made Joshua inwardly cringe. "How much?" Drew had his price. Joshua just couldn't think of what Carolyn would have to ensure his assistant's cooperation. Caleb wasn't an option in his current condition.
Drew released a long suffering sigh as if Joshua had been hounding him for hours. "She keeps me supplied with cupcakes from Magnolia's." He pointed at Joshua. "But I would have done it for free anyway. You're kind of scrawny and not really filling out that Armani as well as you used to."
Joshua glanced at his suit pants, knowing this morning he had tightened his belt. He was unaccustomed to someone other than his mother and grandmother being concerned with his well being. Carolyn was always on his mind of late. "Well, I appreciate it."
"No problem, except this is a six dollar a day habit with the latte and treat, plus I have to take the elevator down, walk through the lobby, so . . . I'm thinking forty bucks a week should cover it." Drew put his hand out, palm up.
Joshua frowned. "And you still get the cupcakes?"
Drew's hand did not move. "The cupcakes are non-negotiable."
"I think Carolyn would like to know that you are changing the terms of your deal. Let's call her." Joshua picked up the phone.
"No, wait." Drew placed his hand over the numbers so Joshua could not dial. "Red velvet moist morsels versus green hard cash?"
"Drew?" Joshua held up the phone, prompting the admin for an answer.
"Fine, keep your money." Drew released his hand. "But I am not sharing the cupcakes. They're mine."
Drew left in a huff with Joshua deciding not to tell Carolyn that he knew about her plans with the firm's administrative assistant. As uncomfortable as the attention was, he could live with it. He was just glad the firm had warmly welcomed him upon his return to work.
Originally, he had taken time off because of the sudden death of a family friend, Boone, but that had morphed into an attack by a crazed woman in Colorado. Joshua didn't even try to explain further because even his PR skills were lacking when it came to Ruby, his mother's break up, and Dean's death.
Now that he had returned to work, he realized what an asset he was to the firm. His accounts were happy he had returned to the office, though he had started working from home. The political season was a busy time for any public relations firm. On his desk now were notes about a local congressman and his issues with the Internal Revenue Service over an undocumented domestic worker.
He was grateful when his cell phone vibrated. Joshua was surprised when he glanced at the caller ID. At first Joshua assumed he was being used as a link to his mother, but The Scholar had continued to call him every week even though he was almost back to normal. Either way the calls were welcomed as Joshua wanted his mother happy and tried to help Carolyn's three-pronged plan by giving Mackland advice. After all, Caleb wasn't around to consult.
Joshua had heard from Caleb once, the day before his return to work. It wasn't their normal conversation of sarcasm. Carolyn had already returned to her job in New York with a promise to be back the following weekend. It was easy to recall because of its brevity.
"Hey, you're okay, right?"
"Yes, Caleb, about Dean. I wanted to say. . ."
"Glad you're good. Gotta go."
When Mackland had called, Joshua had told him about the phone call, and Joshua could hear that The Scholar just wasn't missing Esme, but his son, along with Sam and Dean. So their conversations then turned into reminiscing, then to discussions about The Brotherhood, and eventually to Caleb and Sam.
"Hello?" He answered the phone just as it was about to be sent to voicemail.
"Joshua, hello, I am sorry to be disturbing you at work."
He couldn’t admonish The Scholar for calling him at work. "Yes, well. . .How can I help you?" Joshua deduced Mackland would only call him at work if there was a problem.
"I don't know how to tell you this." There was a pause that made Joshua's heart clench. "Dean has been returned to us."
That wasn't what he expected to hear. He wasn't thinking about Dean at all except in the context that he was dead. He thought Sam and Caleb's reckless behavior would have repercussions, had been expecting to hear about them before the year was out. He wasn't the only one. "What?"
"Dean is alive and at the farm."
Joshua thought it may have been Mackland's tone that had him believing that Dean Winchester was among the living. "How is that possible?"
"We don't know, but it's him. Bobby's made sure of that."
"Who else have you told?" Joshua asked to buy himself some time. There were so many questions, each fighting for prominence.
"You so far, because Dean would like your assistance in a matter."
"Me?" His questions evaporated. He hadn't said goodbye to Dean, hadn't helped Sam to give him and Caleb more time to find a solution to the deal. Of course, he'd been a little busy at the time. As guilty as he'd felt, he liked to think Dean would have understood. Maybe he had.
"He'd like for you to meet him in Atlanta. Can you get a flight out immediately?"
"You must be joking. Dean's alive, and I'm one of the first people he wants to see?" That didn't seem right to him. This didn't sound like the Dean Winchester he once knew.
"In Atlanta?" There were no hunts in the Georgia area as far as he knew.
"Yes. I can tell him you are not available if you don't feel up to it."
"No, I'll meet him." He stood up, walked a few steps, went back to get his suit jacket. "Do you know what this is about?"
"I think you'll be paying a visit to Griffin."
Griffin had a beautiful home in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. Joshua hadn't been there since he was a child with his father. However, he was the only connection with Griffin that Dean had who was impartial. Griffin had called him during his convalesce, done more than his own father had done. "So my role is as a mediator?" He strode out of the office. No one would question where he was going, figuring he was going to see a client. It was the best part of working at a public relations firm. He made sure he avoided Drew's desk.
"Joshua, your father may be there."
He was being offered a way out. Joshua did not think he would ever speak to his father again, and now he would be forced to. But the next Guardian was making a request. He had made his choice. "Thank you, Mackland, and congratulations."
"For what?" Mackland seemed genuinely puzzled.
"On getting your boys back." Joshua closed the phone with a smile. To think he had actually considered the job in England that would have taken him away from all this. Yes, it would have saved him from an injury, but he would have missed Carolyn. He would have also missed the resurrection of Dean Winchester.
He drove to the airport, dropping his car off in extended parking and going to the Delta Airlines counter. Their hub was Atlanta so they would be the easiest to get a direct flight.
When he landed at Hartsfield, he had a long walk to the exit to let the nervousness grow. His last memories of Dean were clouded. He mostly recalled Caleb, Dean, Sam, and Riley swimming in and out of focus. Caleb had talked to him. He didn't remember the words, just the pleading tone to stay alive. He was sure he was being held by Caleb, part of him comforted that if he was going to die he wouldn't be alone, surrounded by people who he could count as more than acquaintances.
He saw the Impala through the glass, and it was comforting as a symbol of The Winchesters. At first it had been ominous because it had a connection to John Winchester. The man was intimidating. Then it became the symbol that Dean and Sam had arrived. Now it represented Dean Winchester. He never thought there would be relief in that, but there it was.
Joshua squinted to make out Dean's form in the front seat. Dean didn't get out of the car so Joshua gripped the handle and with a deep breath opened the door. He didn't greet Dean as he slipped in, put his bag in the back, then shut the door.
"Josh," Dean greeted him with a twisted grin. The older hunter remained silent, so much so that Dean huffed, "Take a picture, Mama’s Boy. It will last longer," but he was paying more attention to the car than to his passenger.
“I’m sorry,” Joshua said when he regained his manners. He continued to stare at Dean with a look of awe. “It’s just…it’s all quite remarkable.”
“Yeah.” Dean gave him a half-assed grin before returning his gaze to the road. “Women have been saying that about this package for years.”
Joshua snorted. “It really is you, isn’t it?”
He hoped that Dean was untouched by Hell, and maybe he was. He assumed
someone returned from Hell would be more weary, torn and miserable.
This was Dean Winchester, though, and there should be no assumptions.
He seemed driven on his mission to accept his role, and Joshua was
willing to back him up and be The Advisor.