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A Week's End

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Sam’s plating the eggs by the time Nathan and Elena stumble downstairs. They look pretty much dead to the world and Sam blinks at them like he’s stumbled across a pair of zombies.

“Hey, uh. I made—”

Nathan pushes past him, makes a beeline for the coffee pot. He’s still in his boxers, with a white tee thrown over his torso, and goes through a series of motions that look nothing short of mechanical.

Sam steps to the side, out of his way, feeling very much like he’s intruding on a routine. He fidgets in front of the stove, is careful not to touch the eye he’d just clicked off.

He’s still tapping his knuckles together, awkward and unsure of what to do, when Nathan turns around and jolts.

Jesus,” he says, coughing because he breathed in a little too sharply. “I didn't—” He smacks a hand against his chest. “I didn't see you there.”

Sam quirks an eyebrow, picks up one of three plates sitting on the counter.

“I made breakfast.”

It's nothing special. Bacon, scrambled eggs, toast with butter and jelly. He figures it's the least he can do to pay them back for … well, everything.

Not that breakfast erases a mad trip around the world made under false pretenses, but it's a start.

Nathan blinks at him a couple times. The coffee pot gurgles in the background.

Elena comes up behind Sam, lids heavy with exhaustion, and reaches a hand up to lay on Sam’s shoulder.

He leans into the touch, eyes drooping a bit because he’s perfectly aware that she’s doing everything she can (Nathan, too) to make him feel at home. And, sure, it’s kind of awkward intruding on their lives like this, but, hell, they asked for it.

“Thanks,” she says, grabbing the plate from his hands. Her throat visibly constricts with all the effort it takes to sputter out a single word so early in the morning.

Sam’s eyebrow lifts. Didn’t these kids know about early birds and worms and all that?

Elena slides her hand away, then saunters over to the couch, flopping down like she’s participating in a trust fall. It’s a weird kind of graceful, Sam thinks. Kind of sloppy. Kind of reminds him of Nathan.

His little brother isn’t far behind, hands full with two mugs of coffee. He sets them on the coffee table, then back to the kitchen, sidling around Sam to grab a third mug in a different cabinet. Yeah, there was no rhyme or reason to where they put what, and Sam had found that out earlier, scrambling around trying to find the right utensils to cook with.

Nathan thrusts the warm cup into Sam’s fidgeting hands. He grabs the other two plates before Sam can protest, and treads on over to the sofa, tilting his head for him to follow.

“You comin’?” Nathan says. His voice is shot to shit.

“Yeah, Sam, there’s plenty of room.” Elena pats the cushion next to her, and of course it’s in the crack of the couch, because Nathan, the little asshole, sits down on the other side.

It’s somewhat of a squeeze, at least for three grown-ass adults, but Sam doesn’t mind. Likes the contact, knees knocking against knees, if he’s entirely honest with himself. He’s a pretty tactile guy, likes to touch, and thirteen years in prison meant the only contact he ever got was his fist connecting with someone else’s face (or vice versa). Even the parade of women sliding in and out of his life after Rafe bought his freedom wasn’t enough to make up for all that time alone.

He props himself up on the edge of the couch, back cracking when he leans forward. Starts scarfing down food like it’s gonna disappear if he’s not quick enough. Out of the corner of Sam’s eye, he can see Elena cradling her coffee between trembling fingers (hint of blue beneath her nails, cold). She gives it one long, exaggerated whif, humming in the back of her throat. Damn if it isn’t endearing. Sam’s got a little tilt to his lips, like he’s accidentally caught something genuine. Cute.

“So,” he says, tongue rubbing along his bottom row of teeth. “You guys conscious yet? Because I swear I— I thought you were gonna eat my brain right outta my head when both ‘a you traipsed down the stairs.”

“Mm,” Elena mumbles into her coffee, drawing it away with a slurp. “Lucky for you, I’m on a strict no-brains diet.” Her elbow finds contact with Sam’s ribs.

“Yeah, uh-huh,” he says, rubbing his side. “That’s what they all say. Until your head’s cracked open and you’re, you know. Gettin’ your brain nibbled on.”

Nathan snorts into his own cup, and Sam beams at him.

“You’re so—” Nathan waves a hand. “Lame.”

“Oh, oh, I’m lame, huh?”

“Without a doubt.”

“I’ll have you know—”

Will you, now?”

“I’ll have you know, that every girl I’ve ever met falls right for those zombie jokes.”

“She must’ve gotten a concussion, then.”

Sam pinches his brother’s side, quick-like, and Nathan yelps and Sam can feel the way Elena vibrates next to him, trying to hold in her laughter, and, yeah. Yeah, this is good.