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Absolution

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Eileen showers for so long every inch of her skin goes pruny, until the night’s chill has been melted off her bones. It can do nothing for the cold, regretful feeling that has taken root in her chest and thickened her throat to the point that she’s sure she’s breathing frost fumes out into the bunker.

One of the Winchesters has left her what must be the largest shirt Eileen has ever worn – it comes down to her knees and she has to roll the sleeves up several times just to use her hands. It smells like the bunker, gun oil and old pages and generic laundry detergent, but if she sniffs really hard like a weird stalker, she can just about smell Sam.

Eileen is no one’s idea of a weird stalker chick, thank you very much, and she leaves the shirt unsniffed.

When she pads back out to the library, the stone cool on her bare feet, Sam is at one of the tables, and Dean nowhere to be seen. He looks up, probably at the scrape of her feet on the floor, and his face changes, just enough, for Eileen to feel a small ember of something try to fight the ice in her chest. “Feeling better?” he says/signs at her, his hands just a little slower than his words. Eileen smiles despite herself. He’s sweet. Her life would be so much easier if all she likes about Sam Winchester is his body.

“A little,” she replies, patting him on the shoulder. “I’ll be back.” (She doesn’t bother to sign it to him. As long as it’s just her and Sam, she can look at his face to read his lips.) She doesn’t tell him that the hug before helped more than anything. Touch is something rare in her life these days. It doesn’t help that Sam gives amazing hugs, tight and warm, his hands on her shoulders, her back, shifting to cradle her head like she’s the most precious thing he’s ever held.

It’s not fair, Eileen reasons as she steps into their kitchen, that such a great couple of guys should have this life. Everyone’s heard stories about the Winchesters, even as far as Ireland, and Eileen’s not sure what she believes of it, but if even a tenth of the rumours are true… Poor bastards.

Their kitchen is organised with ruthless precision. It’s rather like being in an army camp mess, but she finds everything she needs, debating over the whiskey for a moment before deciding against it. There are some nights she needs liquor to sleep. Hopefully this won’t be one of them.

She carries her prize out on a tray, Sam’s head lifting from a heavy book to glance at her, his eyebrows rising and mouth falling open a little in delight. “You didn’t,” he says, but he’s grinning like a loon. “Cocoa?” Eileen sets a mug down next to him carefully.

“Hot chocolate,” she corrects. “I made one for Dean too.” Sam’s grin widens.

“Give him five minutes,” he says, a wry twist to his smile. “He can smell food like a dog.”

It doesn’t even take five minutes. Dean, hair tousled from a shower of his own, appears from around a corner like magic, his eyes zeroing in on the cups on the table. A flash of disappointment, almost too quick to see, passes over his face when he only sees two.

Eileen smirks at him and lifts the cup she’d been hiding underneath the table. “Like I’d forget you,” she teases, and Dean’s expression lightens, his hand just brushing her shoulder as he sits beside her and breathes in the steam rising from the chocolate rapturously.

“Never leave, Eileen,” he says blissfully as he inhales, and Eileen fights to keep from blushing. She knows he’s only joking, but still. They’re beautiful men, and they make themselves so damn easy to be fond of. Eileen knows dozens of hunters who’d be willing to go to war for these two, without ever needing to ask why. They’re the Winchesters. Eileen would face down heaven or hell for either.

Hell. Dagon. Cold trickles down Eileen’s spine, reality shrouding itself around her, and for a moment she can’t breathe. Eileen gasps, and then she’s crying, big ugly sobs and tears that get in her mouth and sting her tongue with their salt.

Sam’s hand is on her shoulder. “I don’t know what to do,” he says/signs, his face the very picture of helplessness. Eileen shakes her head.

“You’re doing it,” she says, and leans against him, like she can leech some of his strength out of his body and into her own. She closes her eyes against the reassuring flannel of his shirt, and there’s a solid presence on her other side; Dean, his body pressed to hers from hip to shoulder, and an arm around her besides.

She’s in a Winchester sandwich, Eileen thinks, only slightly hysterical, and she can’t look at them. Dean’s been to hell, if the hunter water-cooler gossip is to be believed, and Sam was Lucifer’s vessel and lost his soul in the bargain. And here she is, crying like a bloody amadán over accidentally killing that ponce from the Men of Letters. Sure, he was an arse. Didn’t mean he deserved to die for it. He was human.

Her tears wear themselves out, eventually. When Eileen is sure they’ve stopped for good, she looks up, to see Dean and Sam are having a conversation with nothing but their eyes and facial expressions alone. Eileen frowns, because she’s very good at reading non-verbal communication, but she can’t read a single thing that passes between them.

Dean notices her first. “Hey there, sweetheart,” he says, all charm, and Eileen swats him on the chest, shrugging herself out from under his arm.

“I bet you say that to all the girls, Winchester,” she says. A noise vibrates through Sam’s frame, a laugh. Eileen pulls away from him too, for good measure. She lives a solitary life because she has to, she reminds herself. No sense in getting used to all this touching, like it might be something she can have.

“He really doesn’t,” Sam signs. His eyes are on his brother but his smile is just for Eileen, and, caught in the feedback loop between them, Eileen can almost feel absolved.