Eileen likes the bunker. As a hunter you learn to be grateful and appreciative of things that others give for granted. Like waking up feeling safe, knowing that nothing can jump right through your window and attack you. Like pressing your cheek on a soft pillow without having to worry about bed bugs and filth. Like opening your bedroom door and smelling coffee.
She smiles and follows it right to the kitchen.
She doesn’t expect to find Castiel standing next to the coffee machine. He is in his usual attire, looking exactly as the last time she’s seen him. He looks up as soon as she enters and smiles politely at her. “Good morning” he says, “Would you like some coffee?”.
She smiles back, nods and waits for him to fill her a mug.
Then she sits at the table and watches as Dean appears on the door, his eyes sleepy, his hair messy, the belt of his robe loosely tied. He waves lazily in her direction then goes straight towards Castiel, holding out a hand to grab the mug that he was already offering him. No words between them, just soft smiles, as if it’s a thing they do every day. She has not been around the Winchesters that much but she is fairly sure she’s never seen a more content expression on Dean’s face.
He sits down next to her and closes his eyes, lost in the smell of the coffee.
“Good morning to me” she reads on his lips, with his eyes still closed, as if he’s talking to himself.
So, you know, Eileen is a very good observer. It’s a crucial skill for a hunter, especially someone who hunts alone and has no extra pair of eyes to rely on.
Later that day, Eileen and Sam are pressed against each other on a couch, both ignoring how “sharing a laptop” is a such a lame excuse for two adults to sit closely together. But whatever. Sam is showing her a restricted online archive about lore in European historical findings that he was able to crack into when she catches Dean passing by the door and she remembers about that morning.
“Sam,” she interrupts whatever he was saying on some magical old stones. “can I ask you a question?”
He nods. “Sure.”
“Castiel and your brother,” she signs, hoping that that’s enough input for Sam. Clearly it isn’t, because he keeps looking as if he’s expecting her to go on. “Are they… together?”
He frowns and ask: “Together? As in…?”
In response she signs: “Love.”
Sam has the funniest reaction. His face goes blank and he starts staring into the distance as if he’s processing a word he is not used to hear. He snaps out of it right when Eileen is wondering if she should wave a hand in front of his face. “No,” he says, “it’s not like that.”
She gives him a look as if to say “Please”.
“Really, they – they are like brothers.”
Eileen makes a disgusted face and signs: “Brothers?”
He makes an annoyed face back. “Yes. It’s not like that,” he repeats.
“They act like a couple,” she signs.
He shakes his head. “You are wrong.”
“It looks like there’s something more between them,” she insists in the face of his blunt denial. “Wanna bet?” she signs raising her eyebrows.
Sam frowns and signs: “I’m not betting on my brother.”
“Come on.” she says, then signs “If I win, I want you to cook for me.”
Sam laughs. “I can just do it. No need for any of this.”
She shakes her head and smiles: “Don’t worry, you will. When I win.”
They’ve been working like crazy, taking all kinds of jobs up and down the state. It’s tiring but as a team of four they can get it down in a fraction of the time it would take if they were on their own. Plus, it’s definitely more fun even if it feels like they barely have the time to put down their bags before something else comes up and they’re out of the bunker again.
This time, it looks like a simple enough job that could take two days top. Sam is checking their supplies once again and Castiel is sitting at the map table flipping through a magazine when Dean finally appears in the room.
“Alright, let’s go” he says clapping his hands together.
Sam looks up and makes an horrified face: “Wait. Dean, what are you wearing?”
“What? Oh, yeah. It’s a cowboy shirt.”
“You can’t wear that. With that thing on your shoulders. We are not going trick or treating.”
“Hey! Don’t insult the shirt.”
Eileen laughs at the exchange so Sam addresses her. “Eileen, please tell him.”
She just shrugs amused and Sam looks betrayed so Dean keeps going: “It’s not my fault we’ve been out all week and I didtn’t have time to do my laundry. This is the only clean thing I have left.”
“Well, you can’t come dressed like that. Just take one of mine.”
“You have freakishly long arms, Sam, I’m gonna look like I’ve shrunked in my clothes.”
Eileen turns to Castiel who seems engrossed in his magazine that has titles on the cover of the kind “Top 10 poisonous plants you can find in the jungle” right next to “What colours should you paint your garden shed”. It looks like he is used to it and knows that staying away from their arguments is the safest strategy to survive with the Winchesters. She taps him on his shoulder. “What do you think?” she signs, interrupting Dean and Sam who are still going at it.
Castiel looks up but Dean cuts him off before he can open his mouth: “Why are you asking him for? He has never changed once in his life.”
Castiel shoots him an annoyed look but doesn’t respond to the provocation. “Did you check the laundry room?” he says calmly instead.
Sam glances over his shoulder to look at him.
Dean just stares, seemingly confused.
“You always forget your clean clothes in the laundry room. There should be a red one that you haven’t wore this week yet. I assume it’s still there.”
Dean thinks about it for a few seconds, then nods: “Yeah, you’re probably right. Be right back.”
Castiel sighs and goes back to his magazine without another word.
Sam’s gaze meets Eileen’s. She raises her eyebrows and signs “Cute”.
Sam mouths back. “It means nothing”.
She just laughs and takes the stairs.
It’s a rainy afternoon and they are keeping busy cleaning their weapons and filling shotgun shells of rock salt. At some point Sam looks up from where he is sitting right next to Eileen.
“Hey Cas,” he says “remember that book that you were reading last week about sigils? I wondered if I could borrow that. I wanted to scan it and send it around to other hunters.”
“Sounds like a good plan. I’ll give to you later.”
“Oh, no, there’s no rush if you are still reading it.”
“It’s not bother. I’m not reading tonight anyway. I’m watching a movie with Dean.”
Dean, on the other side of the table, lifts his gaze for a moment at the sound of his name then goes back to his gun.
“O-okay, thanks.” says Sam.
Eileen meets his gaze briefly and holds back a smile.
Only when they are left alone she nudges him with an elbow and Sam knows immediately what she is going to address.
He grumbles: “They watch movies together all the time, they are friends!”
Eileen shakes her head. “But why haven’t they invited us?” she signs, then answers her own question: “Date night.”
“No, you don’t understand. Dean has been showing him all the stuff he doesn’t know.”
“I understand very well that I won the bet” she says challenging him.
Sam sighs and signs. “There is no bet. And it’s not like that.”
They are on a hunt. Well, actually they are at some kind of fair. The spirit they are chasing has shown up in all the towns that the travelling fair has hit in the past few months, so the safest bet is that it’s somehow hunting the place.
For now, they are just walking around in the crowd, keeping an eye out for anything suspicious. They have a duffel bag full of salt, shotguns and blades but from the outside they just look like four people that have come out to enjoy the fair on a fine evening.
Dean is in a very good mood. “I can’t believe they still do these things” was his comment on the way there and since they’ve arrived he has been complaining that he can’t stop at none of the games before the job is done. Eileen finds endearing the way he manages to protect that part of him that makes him excited for things like that even with the life he has. It’s not easy to reconcile the image of that man with sparkly eyes with the one she has seen swaying a machete a couple of days before.
“Hey!” he shouts at one point, jogging a few feet ahead of them and waving to get their attention. “Guys, look, it’s Cas!” He stops at one of the stands and grabs a tan teddy bear with a blue tie that is on display. Sam snorts and Dean keeps grinning like it’s the funniest thing ever and points at Castiel who has an expression on his face that seems to say Did we really stop for this? “It’s you!” Dean laughs again “I bet you didn’t know you had a twin, uh?”
“Alright, let’s go,” Sam tries to get them moving again and Dean jogs back up to them and falls in steps with Castiel.
Eileen looks his way in time to see him put his arm around Castiel’s shoulders and pull him close. His lips read: “What? It was adorable. Wanna win it for me later?”
She turns her face to look at Sam and finds him next to her.
“Adorable” she mouths at him. He rolls his eyes. “He just likes to joke”.
It happens again and again. Eileen looks pointedly at Sam when Dean pops into the kitchen to say “Me and Cas are going out. Need anything?” or when they find them engaged in a serious conversation or sharing a drink. She looks at him whenever Dean calls Castiel “Sunshine” and whenever Castiel asks “Where’s Dean?” before he even gets both of his feet in the room.
Sam dismisses every moment, finds every excuse for them. They’ve always been like that. Can’t two friends do it? Does it have to mean something? It’s just the way they are.
Now, Sam is in a sticky diner with his brother who is across from him and can’t seem to sit still. A couple of days before they got two calls in a matter of hours and they’ve gone north while Eileen has gone south. Coincidentally Cas has been contacted about a lead on God’s position so he’s gone too.
So it’s just the two of them again and Dean is tapping on the screen of his phone every two seconds as if he doesn’t trust that it will let him know if he has a new notification.
“Dude, what’s up with you?” snaps Sam when he can’t take anymore of his fidgeting.
“Cas.” he grumbles. “I texted him last night and I got no word back yet. We said we would check in with each other every night, so…” he frowns.
“I’m sure he is fine” Sam says, before thanking the waiter that brings them their food.
Setting down his plate his gaze falls on his own phone, and he is reminded of the last time he texted Eileen and she has taken a long time to reply. How he worried, how he needed to know she was fine. How he feels on his fingertips the need to type something to her right now. How he can’t wait to see her again.
He looks up at Dean who’s taking a bite of his burger.
“What?” he says with his mouth full in response to his staring,
Sam smiles a little. “Nothing.”
Dean takes another bite, still watching him so Sam sighs. “Dean,” he dares, “with Cas. I mean… is there…”
He gets interrupted by Dean’s phone lighting up with an incoming call. His brother drops his burger and picks it up without a care for his greasy hands.
“Finally.” He says, then presses it against his ear: “What did we say, uh? How many times I gotta tell you?” he barks in lieu of Hello.
Sam watches him while he listens to whatever Castiel is saying on the other end. He sees his forehead striped with worried lines relax by the second.
When Dean speaks again his voice is definitely softer. “You are an idiot, but alright. Yeah, we just got here,” the frown disappears and his voice goes quieter still, “Okay. Yeah, I’ll see you at home.” his eyes flicker to Sam and he clears his throat so when he speaks again his tone is back to normal. “Remind me to kick your ass for making me worry.”
Castiel says something back that Sam assumes sounds like You can try because Dean’s eyebrows rise comically. “What? You don’t think I can take you?” he says. “Yeah tough guy, anytime. Wanna bet?”
Sam tunes out. He touches his phone and opens up his conversation with Eileen. He types:
Alright, what do you want me to cook?