Soldier Of God

The Innocent

The Lord is near the broken hearted.

He’d been standing in front of her door not sure if he should knock but he didn’t want to just leave without telling her. The past week had been…


He turned already smoothing the scowl off his face as Riel came up behind him. No one other than Riel had made it past the door. Neither of her grandparents and certainly not the cousins. Rhomy had shut everyone out, even Dean…

“We’re leaving.” He said expecting relief on the guys face and not the frown. “We have…there’s some things we have to take care of.”

“Why are you standing out here then?” Riel’s tone was quieter, less angry than it had been when warning Dean to be careful of his sister. She’d barely said a word and even when they’d held the wake Rhomy didn’t say much to anyone. She didn’t bother to repeat the ‘story’ they’d come up with that even made Drake look good.

“Good question.” Dean grumbled. “Rhomy hasn’t said a word to me since-.”

‘Since we found her in the cemetery.’

“I know she’s been…cold-.”

“Don’t.” Dean shook his head moving away from the door. “She’s got reason-.”

“I know that.” Riel snapped. “Look, all I’m saying is right now she’s not…she isn’t-.” he huffed, annoyed. “I know what she’s supposed to be doing, ok. I know.”

“You mean the feathered fucks?” Dean frowned. “I don’t want her anywhere near them and if not talking to me and staying locked in her room is what it takes… hey.” He shrugged, accepting but not happy.

“So you know.” Riel studied Dean, noticed the slight shift of his shoulders and the uncomfortable air. The Hunter had been looking at his sister with unusual intensity the past few days. Dean had kept his distance and at first Riel had thought it was because of…circumstances but more and more he’d begun to suspect there was more behind the looks. “Yeah. You do know…well. I guess they could’ve done her worse than you.”

Dean frowned, not sure how to take it though he wanted to be offended by the remark. Except Riel was accepting Dean’s role, what he’d been expected to comply with once Rhomy was at his side, only…

“They could’ve done better.” Dean corrected in a quiet tone. He wasn’t supposed to be the hero, not now, not for Rhomy and he certainly didn’t want to have all the responsibility he was carrying around- krap! It was his. He couldn’t keep Sammy alive and then he went and sold his soul to get baby brother back. Then went to hell and couldn’t keep it together until rescue arrived, no, Dean gave in, gave up, caved and the first seal was broken. Now he was supposed to keep the rest of them closed so the devil didn’t come out to play… yeah, it was all his. The fate of the world rested on his shoulders and how over-the-top-dramatic-and-Saturday-movie-special was that sounding like?

“Man,” Riel breathed a heavy sigh, slightly annoyed and shook his head, dark hair falling in his eyes as he did so. “You're such a sufrido- actually you guys are perfect for each other. Just as mopey and whiny when things don’t go your way. Yeah, go on, get pissed but you know that bitchin’ isn’t going to change anything and its not going to help you get through what’s coming.”

Gabriel made sense, even if he could’ve been nicer about saying so. Either way, Dean pulled himself to his full height and would’ve stepped past Riel except for the palm at his chest.

“This way.” Riel said tilting his head to the door he opened. “She won’t kick you out.” He assured seeing Dean’s uncertain expression. Indecision was quickly replaced by resolution and the blond started forward. “Just remember, I’m out here. No funny krap, Dean. I don’t care if God himself says you're ok.”

Dean frowned at the blatant implication but Riel gave a quick smile and closed the door on him.

Dean took a breath and faced the room, it was the first time he’d been in there and the first thing he noticed was the soft cream color of the walls, all of which were covered in a pale design of swirling lines. The damask drapes on her windows were closed and the only source of light was the fancy lamp on a delicate looking table. The whole room was just like her apartment, a mix of antiques and modern pieces- and there in a corner he saw a cool looking leather chair, sort of like a throne with a mauve throw hanging off the side. It looked comfortable and he had no trouble picturing her curled up in it with a book…

“Rhomy.” He called slowly approaching the bed but the small figure didn’t move. At the foot, Dean could see she was asleep and he almost turned back to the door… The last thing she needed was him. She had her family now; they’d keep an eye on her…

“Protect her.”

Yeah, the echo of Cas’ voice only pissed him off. What did those feathered fucks expect him to do now? Was he supposed to just bow down and accept this- accept Rhomy…?

Dean went around the bed and looked at her. She was dreaming about something, he knew it from the slight furrowing of her brow… Had she been given a choice in this? Did she want him to-.

‘What’s the point?’

Why even consider it when the apocalypse was right friggin’ there, right at their door-.

“This is krap.” Dean muttered taking a step away from Rhomy and running both hands through his hair. Under any other circumstances he wouldn’t think twice about it- okay maybe he’d think twice but in the end Dean knew what the answer would be, he knew it. The certainty is what hurt, knowing what he wanted and what he had to do- “It’s never easy, right? They can’t ever give us a break.”

He looked at her again, still sleeping and decided just this once he’d be the fool.

“Rhomy.” He called her name again, this time running his fingers lightly over her cheek and through the loose waves. She barely shifted but the frown eased from her expression. “Wake up sweetheart.” He murmured close to her ear. She shifted, turning towards the sound of his voice and the softly mumbled question was accompanied with a couple of blinks before she opened her eyes and looked up at him. “Hey.”

Rhomy closed her eyes and drew in a breath. He felt her hand clutch at his jacket and then she pulled. Dean went easily, not fighting her and Rhomy wrapped her free arm around his shoulders.

“I’m sorry.” Her husky voice whispered past his ear. “I’m so sorry, Dean.”

“Don’t be. There’s nothing to apolog-.”

“I shut you out and pushed you away and I’m sorry, Dean.” She cut in. “I don’t want- I don’t-.”

Dean slid in beside her, sitting down and kept quiet, just holding on…

“I know.” He said quietly after a moment. He knew what she felt, hated that she’d seen it all go down and was relieved she’d been spared but he knew what she was feeling. “They keep telling you its going to get better, that you wont miss him as much in time, that you’ll…” what? Remember the good times and all that krap… well, that was all it was, krap. Dean trailed his fingers through her hair absently. “It doesn’t go away, missing them. No matter what, you always-. You feel their absence. Doesn’t matter how much time goes by.” Hell, it didn’t even matter if you were pissed at them because in the end they just weren’t there anymore.

“He was scolding me.” Rhomy murmured then chuckled softly at the memory. “Asked if I’d forgotten to block… It came up behind him, Dean.” She looked up and her eyes were bright with tears but there was a flash of something else in their depths. “It used Drake and suckered us. And I couldn’t pull my Dad out of the way, he wouldn’t let me-.”

“It wasn’t your fault.” Dean stated harshly.

“Yeah, it was. Because I’ve kept the damn key. Its all they want, had I given it to them Pru and Cea would be alive, Sawyer and Aislyn would have their parents, they wouldn’t be orphans now, they’ll grow up without a Mom and Dad and that’s on me. There’s no one else to blame Dean, nobody. Not God and not his angels, they just do as they’re told- like me.” Her rant lost fire and she sagged against him. “I did what they asked.”

“So stop.” Dean said and it sounded so easy. Just stop listening, stop doing anything and everything they asked of her, stop….

“No…” Rhomy shook her head, there were people depending on her, innocent people that would die, children like Sawyer and Aislyn who’d be left orphans… Other families- and what did they matter to Rhomy when her family was being decimated and the angels did nothing? They wouldn’t help her…

“Then question all of it.” Dean snapped pushing her away until he could look at her face. “Don’t obey blindly, make them work for your co-operation, make them ask instead of just ordering, hell- demand shit in return but don’t…give in. Don’t.”

Rhomy sat quietly, hazel eyes studying him and she could see why they wanted him, why they needed Dean to do this.

“What is it?” she asked softly and just as quickly Dean closed himself off. The warmth and fire in his eyes was contained behind a blank wall and she touched her hand to his cheek before thinking about it.

“We have to go.” Dean replied. He grabbed her hand and held it in his. “Bobby called and… we got some things to take care of.”

“Ok.” Rhomy drew in a breath and nodded. She started to get up except Dean held her back.

“No. It’s just Sam and me, Rhomy. You stay here, stay safe-.”

“You can’t leave me behind.” Rhomy cut in shaking her head. “I’m- I’ll-.”

“Stay here, Rhom.” Dean insisted. She wasn’t ready to go anywhere, not so soon after all the dying but she was already protesting and on impulse Dean closed the small distance between them, hands cupping her face and pressed his lips to hers.

Rhomy drew in a startled breath. The kiss was unexpected, he’d never tried before and there had been plenty of opportunity. Still, the soft pressure of his mouth on hers, the slight tug of his hands drawing her closer… she felt warm all over and lay her palm on his chest, leaning into him.

Dean hushed the voice in his head telling him to stop. That was the last thing he wanted to do now that she was in his arms. Whatever hell came next Dean was sure of one thing and that was this. Right now, in that moment he was ok-

“Yo,” Riel’s voice cut across the room. “What’d I say about you trying any funny business, Dean?”

‘Oh, yeah. Big brother is pissed. Again.’ Dean thought and smirked.

Rhomy felt it and then he was pulling away… Rhomy fisted his shirt and pulled him back for one more kiss, uncaring if Riel was standing in her room watching them.

“Rhomilly.” Riel snapped and when Dean pulled her in for another kiss he strode across the room intent on yanking the Hunter off his sister’s bed and out of the room.

“Back off Rie.” Rhomy warned flailing her arm in his general direction as she kissed Dean again.

“What-, quit making out in front of me!” Riel demanded shoving his arms between them and finally separating the two.

“Then get out of my room.” Rhomy calmly ordered while Dean sat back and wore that wolfish grin that only meant trouble.

“You.” Riel jabbed a finger in Dean’s direction and then over his shoulder to the door. “Out.”

Dean chuckled but got up and calmly walked to the door.

“Gabriel, you had better have a good reason for kicking him out of here.” Rhomy warned in the quiet tone Dean recognized. He closed the door behind him not at all sorry for any of it.

“Should’ve kissed her a long time ago.” Dean muttered as he descended the stairs.

Dean scowled at the ceiling. Bad enough he was dealing with angels- the pigeons were real and of course he was responsible for this disaster they were calling the apocalypse but the clincher? It was all in black and white, right there for the entire world to read. Every little detail; thoughts and…

“Stupid angels and their friggin’ prophets.”

But as disturbing as that discovery had been, the krap that weirded him out the most were those friggin’ fan sites, those Wincest fics…

Dean shuddered, not that he had a problem because, well hell, where you got it was your business all together but… It was Sam for kripes sakes! They were brothers, tied by blood-

‘Gross. That’s just wrong…completely disturbing.’

“Hey,” Sam spoke up and set down the last book in the series he’d been reading. “You think she knew about these?” he waved the paperback with the bare-chested, long-haired model on the cover.

Green eyes narrowed dangerously but Sam’s smirk didn’t diminish in the least. He was having fun teasing his brother, even if the books bugged the fuck out of him too. Dean flopped back on the pillows and closed his eyes hoping fervently that Rhomy had absolutely no idea the books existed.

“I’m gonna kill Chuck.”

‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?’

“Its time Rhom.”

She stiffened, refused to look up from her book but the page in front of her hadn’t change in the past hour. All she’d done was think and wish that Dean hadn’t left so soon and being angry with him for leaving without her. Of course she understood why but she didn’t like it any better. She wasn’t a child and she certainly didn’t see what difference it made where she mourned her Father. One place was as good as another and being with Dean was a lot better than staying locked in her room the past week.

“You can’t be pissed at God when you’ve known the risks all along.” Riel grabbed the foot rest and set it in front of her. Sitting on it put him eye to eye with Rhomy, even if she stubbornly refused to acknowledge his presence. He was telling the truth and Rhomy didn’t want to hear any of it.

“Yeah, it hurts.” He agreed. “Doesn’t make any sense why-. Look, cant…why can’t you just see the good?”

Rhomy flicked her eyes at him, slightly narrowed and full of anger.

“Mom and Dad are finally together, Rho. They’re with each other… and we aren't alone.”

No, they weren’t alone but they were also grown, they’d grown up with their parents… Sawyer and Aislyn wouldn’t get that chance.

‘But now trouble comes to you, and you are discouraged; it strikes you, and you are dismayed.’

Yeah, because it wasn’t fair- they weren’t being fair…

“They waver.” She was certain of it.

“We obey.” He knew what he was supposed to do. Yet Castiel had doubts and he was beginning to question…

“Her faith… she is breaking, Castiel.” Tamryn warned. “Her belief is flaggin. She blames us for their deaths-.”

“Because we did not interfere.” He corrected.

Tamryn nodded acquiescence.

“She will understand and obey. It is their duty.” Castiel intoned but he had doubts.

There was nothing but ashes left of the youngest Winchester. One more body to add on the long list of casualties racking up-

Dean clenched his jaw against the churning rage he felt roiling in his gut. Adam had been defenseless; unaware of what was out there, what wanted them dead or in hell… Now the kid was dead, because of them, because of who he was- a Winchester-

The cell rang; strains of Breakaway were muffled by his jeans.


That was her second call in the past four hours. Just hearing her voice… Dean stared at the cell phone in his hand. He didn’t remember taking it out of his pocket and then it stopped and a moment later his voicemail chimed.

No, he couldn’t talk to her, not yet, not when she’d be able to hear the anger in his voice and know something was wrong. She’d ask him and he’d want to tell her all of it, he would… Hell, maybe Rhomy already knew what was wrong and she was worried about him…

Dean clicked the keys and sent a short text, just so she knew he was still alive.

That was all he could manage for now….

“The news. The news ain't good.” Bobby muttered as he walked in the room.

“This is what Rufus called about? 'Key West sees ten species go extinct'.” He questioned looking at the papers Bobby handed over.
“Yep. Plus Alaska. Fifteen-man fishing crew all stricken blind, cause unknown. New York, teacher goes postal, locks the door, kills exactly sixty-six kids. All this in a single day. I looked them up. There’s no doubt about it. They’re all seals. Breaking. Fast.”

It took a minute for all of that to sink in and to stamp down the rush of panic that filled him.
“How many are left?” Dean finally asked.
“Who knows? Can’t be many. Where the hell are your angel pals?” Bobby questioned.
“You tell me.” Because they sure as hell weren’t telling him where they were hanging out while the world went down the drain.
“I’m just wondering.” But he didn’t elucidate.
“The apocalypse being nigh and now really the best time to be having this little domestic drama of ours?” he questioned hoping the boy would see- that he’d change course and just stop for a minute to breathe instead of ignoring things…
“What do you mean?” Dean’s defenses were up, starting to show that glimmer of anger at where Bobby was heading.
“Well, I don’t like this any more than you do, but Sam can kill demons. He’s got a shot at stopping Armageddon.”

Dean couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Bobby siding with Sam? Saying his addiction was a good thing, that they should use-
“So what? Sacrifice Sam’s life, his soul, for the greater good? Is that what you're saying? Times are bad, so let's use Sam as a nuclear warhead?”
Bobby knew he’d botched it and he shook his head. “Look, I know you hate me for suggesting it. I hate me for suggesting it. I love that boy like a son. All I’m saying is maybe he’s here right now instead of on the battlefield because we love him too much.”

The silence was broken by the approaching car. Both men stopped their staring contest and headed towards the door and window. It was Dean who recognized the car and his scowl was in place as he stomped towards the front door.

“You know who’s comin’?” Bobby asked still reaching for the shotgun.

“Yeah.” Was the short reply followed by the slam of his screen door and the muttered curse.

Bobby came out just as Rhomy jumped out of the passenger side, a soft smile on her face as she came towards them.

“Hi.” She waved a hand looking at Bobby.

“Well, um, come inside.” Bobby smiled though it dimed a little at Dean’s look but the old Hunter wasn’t going to worry about the boys feelings. With Rhomy here maybe they’d get Dean to see reason. He headed inside anyway.

“You should’ve stayed home.” Dean stated, more upset than he realized as the screen door closed behind him.

“I’m going to re-word that into an ‘I missed you’.” Rhomy skipped up the steps and hugged him. The top of her head didn’t reach his chin even standing on her toes.

Dean leaned into her, both arms wrapping around her and he drew in a heavy breath. He relaxed just a bit; “I did miss you.”

Rhomy squeezed him, happy he’d managed to whisper the words.


“My escorts are nagging.” Rhomy noted with a hint of annoyance. “You wouldn’t believe the plane ride.” She muttered under her breath before pulling away from Dean to face her cousins.

“Ok. We officially hand her over to you.” Laz tipped his imaginary hat and grinned.

“Yeah, good luck.” Joel quipped.

“She is a handful.” Franco agreed leaning on the driver side door. “Get her bag.” He ordered and Joel moved to the trunk.

“They were annoying.” Rhomy protested looking up at Dean. He snorted a chuckle and draped his arm over her shoulders walking towards the cousins with her. She noted the tension had eased a little from his features but it wasn’t completely gone.

“You’ll find out she’s just as bad.” Franco assured with a knowing grin.

“Any trouble getting here?” Dean asked watching the cousins turn serious instantly.

“Not anything we couldn’t take care of.” Lazaro assured.

“Yeah, we’re not Hunters but we take care of business.” Joel chimed in handing over Rhomy’s duffel.

“Quit it,” she ordered. “Now he thinks we ran into some demons.” She turned to Dean. “Which, we certainly did not. It was a quiet trip, no sign of them at all.”

“She’s right.” Lazaro agreed. “They didn’t bother us, don’t know why.” He shrugged.

“Ok, we got a schedule boys.” Franco stepped away from the SUV. Rhomy moved towards him only for Laz to grab her in a hug.

“Stay out of trouble.” He urged letting go and then Joel shoved Franco out of the way.

“Too slow, coz.” He smirked and winced at Rhomy’s elbow jab. “Answer your cell, Rho. You don’t want us all coming to check on you-.”

“Oh please.” Rhomy sighed shoving him away. “Any excuse to get in trouble is good enough for you.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere.” Franco assured with a steady look at his younger cousin who made a face.

“Be careful on the road, Franco.”

“Hey now.” He smiled at her. “You’ll get old worrying so much about us. You concentrate on the task. Let us take care of the rest.”

Rhomy held on to Franco a little longer, worry and fear made her wish they didn’t have to leave. With them out of her sight…she didn’t know where the demons would come from but they had threatened to kill her family. They wanted the key and she’d promised to keep it safe and Sydony hadn’t let her leave it at the house.

“Its your responsibility, Rhomilly. No matter what happens, which of us dies…Your duty is to guard this key.”

But Rhomy didn’t have to wear it. She wouldn’t, not anymore. She’d leave it in the small box buried in her duffel.

“I’ll tell Grandmother we left you in good hands.” Franco stepped back and held out a hand towards Dean. “We’ll see you, cousin.”

Dean shook hands with Franco, uncomfortable at the easy use of the word.

“Yeah,” Joel called out. “Welcome to the family, Dean.”

“Cant wait for ‘Guy’s Night’ after this is over.” Laz agreed grinning widely.

“You leave Dean alone.” Rhomy warned. “We can stay away from them.” She assured Dean who looked confused and just a little disconcerted by the easy acceptance. They knew nothing about him except for what they’d seen and yet they were already making plans... It was weird and Dean shied away from the warm feelings he was getting just thinking of belonging somewhere, to have a family again-

“He gets initiated no matter what you say, Rhom.” Franco chuckled getting into the drivers side. “He’s family.”

He’d stopped yelling at least.

‘O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.’

She was worried, because nothing she’d said had made him change course but she couldn’t agree with Bobby.

Sam wasn’t alright, he was in pain, suffering the consequences of his choices but nothing was going to stop Dean from trying to help Sam. That’s why Dean kept yelling for Castiel, calling the angel- Rhomy could hear the churning emotions in his voice as he called for them; worry, despair, hurt…

She stamped down the anger rising inside her. She had to let it go, had to reconcile…

“You got ass-reamed in heaven but it was not of import?”

She heard Dean and shook her head at his words. Why was it he baited the angel knowing he was going to need his help? And even then, Dean couldn’t completely hide the underlying tone of defeat in his voice.
“Dean, I can’t. I’m sorry. Get to the reason you really called me. It’s about Sam, right?”

The silence was unbearable but Rhomy stayed back, unable to see them, unwilling to step forward.
“Can he do it? Kill Lilith, stop the apocalypse?”
“Possibly, yes. But as you know, he’d have to take certain steps.”
“Crank up the hell-blood regimen.”

She winced hearing the sarcasm in his voice. She could picture him clearly, the mocking tilt of his head and the blazing anger in the green eyes. Rhomy wanted to be there, beside him-
“Consuming the amount of blood it would take to kill Lilith would change your brother forever. Most likely, he would become the next creature that you would feel compelled to kill. There’s no reason this would have to come to pass, Dean. We believe it’s you, Dean, not your brother. The only question for us is whether you're willing to accept it. Stand up and accept your role. You are the one who will stop it.”
Rhomy gripped the rusted metal of the junked car, her knuckles white as she listened to Castiel. He was giving Dean a way to save Sam and like a good brother she had no doubt Dean would do it. But she didn’t want him to. More than ever, Rhomy wanted to take back everything she’d said to Dean, all her persuasive arguments about how they were meant to do certain things in life, how they had a purpose, a role to play-

“If I do this, Sammy doesn’t have to?”

‘Please don’t.’ Rhomy closed her eyes and waited, willing him to walk away now. If only she were stronger… She’d walk out there, tell Castiel to flit away and play with himself because he certainly wasn’t doing much good-
“If it gives you comfort to see it that way.”
“God, you're a dick these days.”

Rhomy heartily agreed with him. The angels weren’t helping them at all, they weren’t doing anything to stop this, not with all their in-fighting and the backstabbing-
“Fine, I’m in.”

Rhomy pressed her back against the cold metal and bit her lip. She wanted to shake Dean and tell him not to give in. Where was all his conviction- his belief that God and the angels were nothing but liars? Why agree?
“You give yourself over wholly to the service of God and his angels?”
“Yeah, exactly.”
“Say it.”

‘Don’t do it. Please don’t.’
“I give myself over wholly to serve God and you guys.”
“You swear to follow his will and his word as swiftly and obediently as you did your own Father’s?”
“Yes, I swear. Now what?”

Even in his anger, Dean agreed. She didn’t feel any satisfaction, didn’t like how he came about to accept his role. It wasn’t right, and it wasn’t supposed to feel like that, like forcefully putting on a collar- submitting…

Rhomy headed back to the house.

Dean trudged towards the back door. His steps were slow-tired, hands shoved deep into his pockets and staring at the ground. It’s why he didn’t see Rhomy until he started up the steps and she stood.

“What are you doing out here?” Dean questioned and had to clear his throat because his voice had come out raspy.


He glanced over his shoulder, back at the junk yard then at her but she said nothing about his conversation with Cas. The silence lengthened making him uncomfortable and then Rhomy slipped her hand in his and sat down again.

“This, it’s just a rough patch, Dean.” Rhomy said quietly as he sat beside her. She curled into his side, both arms slipping around his waist and holding on.

“Yeah.” Dean agreed but he wasn’t so sure and he could hear the uncertainty in her voice. He wanted to forget everything; he just needed a minute of quiet, without something demanding his attention. It felt good to have her in his arms and he rested his chin on her head. This was good, felt right and yet he still held back, still didn’t accept his role, not while the angels were pulling their strings.

There were so many things Rhomy wanted to say, so many reasons why they shouldn’t go along with the angels but they couldn’t give up either and so she said nothing. Her shame kept her quiet, because Dean did what he had to while she’d thrown a tantrum. Yeah… That’s exactly what she was doing.

The quiet was broken by the light snap as the cuffs on Sam’s arms and legs fell off. He sat up slowly and the door creaked as it opened drawing his attention. It wasn’t his doing, of that he was sure.

“Hello?” Sam called slowly getting off the cot and heading towards the door. “Someone here?”

Still no answer and Sam hurried out of the basement before anyone caught him. He wasn’t strong enough to fight off Dean and he didn’t want to be stuck in that cage.

The stairs creaked lightly even with Sam being careful not to put all his weight in the center of the planks. Once at the top he listened at the door before heading into the hall leading past the living room to the kitchen. He moved quickly, glancing into the front room as he went and stopped.

Anger surfaced quickly and before Sam knew it he was a step inside the living room staring at his brother. He was asleep, with Rhomy curled into his side… Dean had been spending his day with her while Sam writhed in pain downstairs, while he was locked up and strapped down-

Sam forced himself to stand still as Dean shifted but it was only so he could wrap both arms around her…

‘She’s not wearing it.’

He held his breath and really looked but he was sure. When Dean moved so had Rhomy and the rosary was not around her neck or on either wrist. She wasn’t wearing it.

‘We need that key.’

Sam quickly backtracked and sure enough he found her duffel on the other side of the room, right to the kitchen entrance. He picked it up and went out onto the back porch where he dumped it out. Clothes scattered and he kicked them around, dropping to his knees and pawing frantically through them until he uncovered a small wooden box. It was a plain design with a snug lid that pulled off easily.

Sam smiled, sagged a bit then quickly pocketed the rosary before closing the box and dropping it as he leapt down the back stairs.

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