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Room Number 21

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Gabriel stood in the hallway, no more than a foot from the door.

It was cold, the stone and tile walls of the bunker always seemed to be a dozen degrees short of comfortable. He shivered and curled his arms around himself.

This was stupid. This was stupid and he should leave. He urged himself to turn around, to walk away and and return to his room, but he couldn’t. His willpower had gotten weaker. Hell, everything about him had gotten weaker.

Gabriel gritted his teeth, fed up with himself as he stared uselessly at the number stuck on the door in front of him. 21; he knew that number, it was ingrained in his mind, a symbol of warmth and comfort. He stopped to wonder for a moment, scraping his brain for the digits on his own door.

Nothing; he just remembered the same shimmer of gold as all the others. There wasn’t much to set the bunker’s bedrooms apart, they all had the same 4 walls (3 concrete, 1 brick), a set of lamps, a bed, a shelf, a desk, and a couple of gold plated numbers on the door. All cold, empty, and foreboding. Barely distinguishable.

That is, all except for room 21.

Room 21 held an air of welcoming. Just like the rest of the bunker it was cold, but it was winter cabin cold and left him craving hot chocolate and peppermint sticks. The blankets -inevitably ending up wrapped around his shoulders- smelled of old books, gunpowder, and a hint of hair product. Sometimes, in idle moments, Gabriel wondered how such an odd assortment of scents could make him feel so happy, so safe. He never had a mind to figure it out.

He could really use that right now, lamplight the color of a campfire and books scattered across the desk.

He reached his hand out, letting it hover just over the door.

“You can always come by if you need something. I’m here for you.”

Three quick knocks, short and quiet, unlikely to rouse anyone from a deep sleep. After a moment of silence, Gabriel turned to leave, to go crawl into his unwelcoming bed, but he heard the click of the doorknob and looked back, watching the door swing away.

“Hey,” Sam greeted him, leaning against the doorframe, “what’s going on?”

Gabriel looked at him, taking in the tired expression and fading bruises along his jaw. He looked inside, a perfectly made bed and a dozen lore books spread across the floor. He didn't belong here.

“Gabriel?” Sam gently brushed his shoulder, bringing his eyes back to Sam’s face to catch sight of that kind, patient gaze. He stepped forward, sliding his arms around Sam’s waist and burying his face in his shirt, shivering and clinging desperately to the warmth of his chest. Sam tensed for a moment, surprised, but he quickly eased into the embrace, bringing his own arms up to surround Gabriel’s shaking body.

“Hey,” He murmured in Gabriel’s ear, “you wanna come in?”

Gabriel nodded and Sam took his hand, leading him into the room and onto the bed.

“What’s wrong?”

Gabriel shrugged, looking at the floor.

“I got cold," he muttered, an answer so simplified it would be a lie if he wasn't shivering so hard.

He felt the bed shift beneath him as Sam reached to pull the covers up, bringing them to perch on Gabriel’s shaking shoulders. Dusty books, gunpowder, and cheap leave-in conditioner.

“Better?” Sam placed his hand on Gabriel’s back. Gabriel nodded, a small smile of relief flitting across his face.

“Good. Do you want to stay?”

Gabriel bit his lip, a wave of guilt rushing over him, “I can’t, you need to sleep. I just wanted to stop by.”

“I don’t mind, I’m just doing a bit of research. And even if I weren’t, you know you’re always welcome in here.”

Gabriel didn’t respond.

“Come here,” Sam guided him onto the floor next to the bed, placing his arm around Gabriel’s shoulder, “I like having you here, Gabe. I don’t mind if you sit with me.”

“Take some of the blanket, at least,” Gabriel muttered, letting himself give in and pushing a corner behind Sam’s neck.

Sam offered a soft smile and pulled the blanket around himself, holding Gabriel against his chest and a book in his lap. They sat like that for awhile, arms tangled around each other's bodies, bundled in a heavy blanket. Sam flipped through worn out yellow pages as Gabriel drifted to sleep at his side, warm and comfortable.

Room number 21 would look just the same as every other to the unacquainted, just a room with a bed, a desk, and for walls (3 concrete, 1 brick), but to Gabriel, it couldn't be more different. Room number 21 carried the irreplaceable feeling of home.