It’s through a splatter of red that Eileen first meets her.
She still can’t see whatever’s been chasing after her, but she definitely sees the blood dripping out from thin air as the red-haired woman pushes her machete deeper into the thing. When she pulls the blade out, there’s a big enough vibration against the ground for her to flinch.
It smells awful. Like pungent, rotten meat.
After making sure the thing is dead, the woman walks towards her. Eileen scrambles on the ground to get back up, but the woman’s eyes widen, and she shakes her head.
She drops the machete on the ground, and holds up her hands.
Eileen stares up at her, this strange woman who appeared out of nowhere to kill the beast, and the woman’s head whips towards something in the distant, and back to Eileen with wide eyes. It’s too dark to make out anything she says, but not too dark to see the finger raised to her lips. She extends a hand to pull her up from the ground, points at a direction, and gives her a gentle push on her back.
Eileen doesn’t need more to run out of these wretched woods with her.
They only stop running once the woman thinks they’re safe enough to take a quick breath, and they’re back to running again until she sees a paved road and a small yellow car parked along it. Eileen can only hope it’s the woman’s. Thankfully, the woman pulls out her keys and the car’s headlights flash in the dark, and the woman gestures for her to get inside.
Eileen slumps into the front seat, drenched in sweat and blood. She’s still wary—of course she is—but it’s hard to conjure up any strength after running for what felt like hours. The whole car vibrates from the slam of the door, and she looks over to see the woman sitting on the driver’s, her sweaty forehead against the wheel. Her body rises once, twice, and she lifts her head back up, and starts the engine.
Eileen stares at her to see if she says anything. She doesn’t. Her mouth is a firm thin line, her hands gripped tightly around the wheel, and she looks as exhausted as Eileen feels. Once they’re on a main road, and away from those woods, Eileen speaks.
“Who are you?”
The woman starts, and she glances between her and the road. “Sorry,” is the first thing she says. “You must be super confused right now. I’m Charlie.”
“What was that thing back there?”
Charlie bites her lips. “A hellhound.”
A hellhound. But that makes no sense—she heard that it only comes to collect souls that belong to Hell, and she’s never sold her soul. Unless…
“Are you one of the British Men of Letters?”
“What? No.” She shakes her head violently, as if the thought makes her sick. “No way. They’re a bunch of sexist pigs, and I would never join them. Even if they’ve got some really cool tech.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“Being a target of a crappy organization after being involved with the Winchesters,” she says, and the familiar name she hadn’t expected to find in this unfamiliar car catches her off guard. “I get what that’s like.”
“You know Sam? And Dean?”
“Do I,” Charlie says, and for the first time during their conversation, she grins. The sight calms down her frantic doubts a little. “They’re like, my adopted brothers.”
Her grin falters as soon as she says it. “But they think I’m dead.”
Eileen blinks. “Oh.”
“It’s complicated,” Charlie summarizes. “I’ll explain everything once we get to my place.”
The safe place she talks about is an apartment in the middle of a brightly-lit city. Her apartment is already lit, and someone else is there to greet them.
The dark-haired girl glances at Eileen, and smiles. “You succeeded.”
“Yep,” Charlie replies, and quickly lugs her stuff into a room, and back out into the living room. “Eileen, this is Magda. Magda, Eileen.” Magda waves at her, and Eileen nods back. “Why don’t you take a shower first? We can talk after.”
She should be wary. She’s been running from the British Men of Letters for how long, and they proved tonight that they’d caught up to her. Who’s to say that this red-haired woman isn’t one of them?
Instinct. The towel given to her along with a fresh pair of pajamas patterned with rainbows. Or maybe it’s the weariness Charlie wears as she moves around the house, her movements still quick and alert but almost like she’s trying to calm her nerves rather than for efficiency.
The Winchesters think she’s dead. Why?
A tap on her shoulder startles her, and Eileen clutches onto the pajamas like a shield. Magda looks at her, to Charlie, and back to her.
“It’s okay,” she says slowly. Or maybe she mouths it; Charlie doesn’t seem to notice as she pours water into a kettle. “You’re safe here.”
Eileen uncoils, and watches as Charlie puts on the kettle, turns back to them, and upon noticing that she’s being watched, gives an awkward smile.
She can’t help but smile back.
The shower is revitalizing, and it helps to clear her head while she lets the warm water beat against her shoulders in a steady stream. When she steps out with the pajamas on, she finds Charlie and Magda in the living room with the TV on, three cups of tea in front of them.
“I never thanked you,” Eileen starts, and they both turn to her. “For everything. Really.”
“Hey, it happens,” Charlie smiles. “Happened to me, happened to her.”
Charlie admits to running a basic background check on her when she found out that the British Men of Letters were targeting her. It doesn’t faze her—everyone and their dogs seem to be doing background checks on her these days. When Eileen says so, Charlie gives her another one of her awkward smiles, as if she’s not sure whether to look guilty or take it as a joke.
“At least you didn’t try to kill me with the information,” Eileen reassures. Charlie’s smile widens a little.
Charlie tells her story first. Some organization not even worth mentioning their names tried to kill her because of something she did while helping the Winchesters.
“How did you get away?” Eileen asks, halfway through her cup of tea.
“The same way I helped you,” she says. “Disguised an object with part of me on it to look like my corpse. Dean and Sam gave my toothbrush a hunter’s funeral.”
Eileen stares at her. “Are you a witch?”
Charlie shakes her head with a smile. “No, but you learn a thing or two when you get involved in a magical war at another dimension for a year.”
Another dimension. Eileen takes a minute to let that sink in.
Magda tells her story next. She’s hesitant at first, but with Charlie holding her by her shoulder the entire time, she grows a bit more confident as she tells it. There are obvious gaps where she glosses over some of the details, but Eileen doesn’t ask her to clarify.
“You’re very brave,” Eileen says, after Magda finishes on the note of Charlie having snuck her away while her puppet kept Ketch company. She gives a tired smile in return.
There’s a lull in the conversation after that, and Eileen finds herself blinking awake when someone shakes her by her shoulders.
“Hey,” Charlie smiles. “It’s late, and you must be super tired. Let’s talk more tomorrow, okay?”
Eileen nods, and soon crashes into the bed that Charlie shows her to. She hasn’t slept in a proper bed ever since the Men of Letters were on her tail, and she snuggles into the warmth further.
“Thank you,” she says to Charlie’s back. She doesn’t know if she says anything back, and she falls asleep, knowing that she’s safe.
Breakfast is a stack of pancakes.
“It’s from a box,” Charlie says with a shrug, “but it does the trick. Right?”
Magda nods enthusiastically as she shoves a forkful into her mouth. Eileen sips at her coffee, and watches Charlie as she happily chats with Magda while they eat.
She wants to ask her on how she knows the Winchesters, but maybe it’s not her place to pry. With the initial shock wearing off, Eileen recalls near when she first met Sam, and when they were sharing old case stories. He’d slipped the name Charlie—and clammed up almost instantly afterwards. She’d assumed a lost comrade, and didn’t pry at the time either. It’s not uncommon to lose someone you know in this line of work.
She must have her reasons for not letting the Winchesters know that she’s alive. Eileen should probably keep it low for few weeks too, just in case. But she does want them to know that she’s okay.
Charlie helps her write her letter—mostly to disguise is as an innocent letter so the British Men of Letters don’t get a whiff of it with their snouts. She’s sort of a fugitive now, she realizes as she writes the letter. She wants to think that it’s part of being a hunter, but she’s never really had to hide from anyone before. Not to this degree.
It scares her a little. She glances up at Charlie, a small frown upon her brows while she types furiously on her laptop. At least she’s with capable company. She’s glad she’s not alone in the experience.
Eileen pauses her scribbling, after she finishes a sentence about how she’ll miss Sam. “Are you sure you don’t want me to mention you?”
Charlie pauses her typing, and looks over to the letter. She wrinkles her nose with a humourless smile. “Nah. It’s not the right time for my dramatic entrance yet. And…” she leans again her chair. “I still want to help, but after all that’s happened, I just need a little time out from being in the middle of all the crazy clusterfuck. I’m usually the tank, but I’d rather be playing support right now.”
Eileen blinks in confusion, and Charlie waves it away with a smile. “They’ll understand,” she says, gesturing to the letter.
Eileen quirks her eyebrows. “What if they don’t?”
Charlie shrugs. “Then I’ll kick both of their asses.”
She can’t help it—she laughs. Charlie has a big smile on, and finishes whatever it is she was typing out just as Eileen finishes her letter.
“Okay,” Charlie says, standing up. Both Eileen and Magda’s attentions are on her. “Next stop—Rowena.”
“The witch?” Eileen frowns.
“You know her?”
“Only second-handedly,” she admits. “Why her?”
“She’s the next target,” Charlie replies, and stretches her shoulders. “And she’s the only one who knows how to trap the Devil back where he came from.”
“At this rate, we’ll be our own team of hunters,” Magda says with a slight smile, a bit of syrup glistening on her lips.
“Two women of letters, a psychic, and a witch?” Charlie grins. “Not too shabby for a team.”
Eileen grins back, and eats her pancakes.
Not too shabby, indeed.