by grace you have been saved through faith.
Sam and Dean followed the silver bike into the parking structure keeping a safe distance from the red light as they slowly wound their way up to the third level. Dean pulled in across from Rhomy who pulled the red bandana off her head and waited for them. There was no need to remind her of the helmet law because apparently the helmet had been lost during her run earlier that morning. Dean wondered how the hell he was supposed to keep her safe the way she’d been driving- weaving through traffic- she wasn’t making it easy.
“We’ll take the elevator down.” Rhomy said when they drew near. She couldn’t help the curious look she cast at Dean. He still looked upset, more so than before but she didn’t ask. Instead she pushed the button for the ground level and waited quietly for the metal doors to swish open.
“The bike…” Sam flicked his eyes at Dean but his brother stubbornly kept looking straight ahead not that he couldn’t see them reflected in the shiny metal doors.
“It’s easier than a car.” Rhomy replied twisting her head to look up at Sam. “Less traffic.”
Dean’s jaw clenched. The doors opened with a little ding and Rhomy stepped out. She turned left and headed through a side door, into the shiny afternoon sunlight. She pulled down her aviators and led them to the front of her building, an old five story built in the early 1900’s with most of its original panes still intact. There had been quite a few replacements over the years, mostly in the lobby where the stained glass dominated. The tile beneath their feet had been replaced in places as well as some of the moldings.
She turned already smiling, the shades going up on her head.
“I’m fine, Warner.”
“Yer bleedin’.” Warner protested moving around the security desk ignoring Rhomy’s excuse that it was just a little scratch. “Scratch my arse. Pardon, miss but you really look a mess.” He clicked his tongue looking very much like an irritated parent but she wasn’t worried over the few scratches she’d received. Now that she wasn’t running away from the demons Rhomilly felt every ache from the fights. The second one hadn’t been so bad, not with Castiel there and so what if she had a big bruise forming on her forehead or her lip was cut? They would heal. The people the demons had possessed, they’d have a harder time healing from the nightmares they’d re-live and there was nothing Rhomy could do for them in that respect.
“I’ll have my nurse look at it.” Rhomy promised with a nod towards Dean and making an effort not to limp her way towards the elevators. Anymore and Warner would continue fussing and she didn’t doubt for one second he’d refrain from calling Sydony.
The older man seemed to take notice of the Winchesters for the first time. His blue eyes wandered over the pair, assessing and then huffing a breath he relented. Dean took that as a sing of acceptance though he wondered why the doorman’s opinion mattered.
“How is everyone at home, Warner?” Rhomy asked as she walked towards the bank of elevators. Warner made some noises in his throat still eyeing the brothers but answered her questions. Sam noticed the old man had a fatherly familiarity with Rhomy, one she didn’t seem to mind and wondered how long she’d been a tenant of the building.
Dean eyed the old elevators with distrust, wondering how old they were considering they looked ancient. Did they even work? Sam admired the metal work on the gates which Warner slid back. Not a screech of rusty metal, nor scraping sound interrupted the conversation between the old security guard and pretty tenant. The second set of doors opened by themselves and Rhomy stepped in reluctantly followed by Dean.
“Don’t worry boys.” Warner chuckled. “These lifts may look older than dirt but they’ve been updated.”
Dean grunted in response not at all reassured by the old man. A blond eyebrow rose at the word ‘lift’ but he refrained from making a comment.
“Management convinced the owners fancy new lifts would depreciate the value of their investment.” Warner added an eye roll to his statement earning a grin from Rhomy.
“Besides,” she cut in. “There’s nothing manufactured these days that would match this craftsmanship.”
Warner agreed. He closed the metal gates tipping his hat.
“Have a blessed day, miss.” He said as the doors slid shut. Sam’s brow furrowed, he glanced at Rhomy but she just stood there, patiently waiting for them to reach the fifth floor.
Rhomy could feel the questions they hadn’t asked her yet. Not one comment regarding Warner’s blessing and in the car neither had asked about- about- well, what she’d done to those people. How long would that last? She wasn’t going to offer up explanations and the answers to their questions? Well, she wasn’t about to get diarrhea of the mouth either.
Thankfully the elevator reached her floor and she quickly slid the metal gates open. She led them to her front door, a corner apartment suite that had been part of the family’s ‘estate’ since Grandmother Calida had moved to the city. Dean took the key from her hand, gently moving her aside.
Rhomy sighed, rolled her eyes but waited for the guys to check for trouble. Sam followed his lead, both pulling out big shiny guns which made Rhomy wonder what it was about a gun that men liked so much. Still, she watched with crossed arms as Dean opened her front door and Sam aimed.
“There’s no one in there.” Rhomy said softly. Dean thought he heard a note of amusement in her voice but ignored it and her. She let them go on without interruption. The door was pushed open, both guys hurrying in, after a moment Rhomy followed them closing the door behind her. She was a little surprised by how quiet they were but as she’d told them, the apartment was empty of evil. This was the one place Rhomilly didn’t have to be on watch against the demons.
Sam came back from the hallway leading to the bedrooms.
“Nothing.” He reported. Rhomy dropped her keys into the bowl on the table behind the couch. The curtains were drawn and the ebbing sunlight cast a warm glow in the living room. Her eyes flicked over the brothers finally resting on Dean. The way the sun haloed around him, tiny dust motes floating about his body… She stared. She knew how she must look to them and didn’t care. She was safe. As long as Dean was around. She had faith; she believed everything would end up ok.
Sam cleared his throat, uncomfortable with how Rhomy was staring at Dean. As though she hadn’t seen someone she cared for in a long time. Happy, relieved… and more. Much more… Dean was no better and though his expression was shuttered, his eyes were intense, glued to her face as though trying to memorize her features.
“Why were the demons after you?” Sam asked and not just to break the uncomfortable silence due to their stares. Neither of them broke eye contact.
“They think I have something they want.” Rhomy murmured.
“Do you?” Dean asked. Rhomy’s lips turned up slightly and something in her expression told him she wasn’t going to answer that one.
“What is it?” Sam asked moving closer. It drew her attention away from Dean and the difference in her expression was obvious.
“You're welcome to guess.” Rhomy said with a careless shrug. “Make yourselves comfortable. I have some things to take care of.” She turned on her heel and walked out of the living room towards the hallway Sam had checked, leaving them alone.
The murmur of their voices faded but she could guess at what they’d be talking about. Both had questions only Sam was the one doing the asking. Rhomy wasn’t sure if Dean’s silence was a good sign. He seemed… “Broken.”
Rhomilly froze at the foot of her bed.
Why would she- but she was sure. Yes, that’s exactly how he’d seemed. Rhomy turned around, heading towards her bed room door, on her way back-.
‘Back to what? What am I going to say?’
She stopped, removed her hand from the doorknob. It wasn’t time. He wasn’t ready. Closing her eyes she let out a breath along with a quick prayer.
Curiosity got the best of him, at least that was the excuse to walk around the living room and snoop. The first thing that caught his eyes was the shelves stacked with music, and… a jukebox? An old fashioned, forty-five with a needle ready to go and…
‘Does it work?’ he wondered moving straight towards it, hands itching to put it to use.
“Dean.” Sam hissed watching him lift the cover.
“Dude, check this out.” Dean said over his shoulder ignoring his brother’s admonishing tone. The shelf beneath was loaded with records, he knelt and flipped through them frowning when he didn’t recognize any. He could barely read the titles and they didn’t sound right.
“Would you leave that alone.” Sam grouched looking over his shoulder towards the empty hallway. He reached his brother’s side wondering why he couldn’t just keep his hands off other people’s things.
“A-Track.” Dean chuckled eyeing the dark wooden cabinet. “Who even has one anymore?” He asked glancing at Sam before flipping through the A-Tracks neatly stacked in alphabetical order.
“Will you stop snooping-.” Sam frowned. “Dean, doesn’t this seem… unusual?”
“I mean… how…?” Dean stood up, closed the A-Track and turned back to the CD collection. He pointedly ignored Sam’s question, pretended not to know what he was talking about... Instead he flipped through the CD’s. There were stacks of burned CD’s marked with initials but that didn’t tell him what was on them. He fiddled with the CD player but there was nothing inside-
“Dude!” Sam scowled. He was being ignored and didn’t appreciate it, he didn’t like being treated like the kid brother and that’s exactly what Dean was doing. Again.
Dean finally set the CD’s down and looked at Sam. His expression was hooded but Sam could see his brother was tired. It was there, in the slight hunch of his shoulders, the darkness around his eyes and the almost perpetual frown on his mouth.
“We’re here, Sam.”
What did that mean? Exactly. Sam had no clue; he couldn’t begin to guess at what his brother was thinking. Dean hardly even talked to him about anything anymore, nothing that didn’t have to do with keeping seal’s closed or a hunt. But when had Dean ever let his guard down enough to talk about what was going on inside his head?
“You heard Castiel.” Dean said. His eyes shifted towards the hallway Rhomilly had disappeared through. He stared, feeling… Dean wasn’t sure what he felt anymore just that he had a responsibility he hadn’t asked for and couldn’t shrug off. He was honest with himself, enough to accept the angel’s words and do as he was asked.
“Yeah. Did you?” Sam demanded striding forward until he was in Dean’s sight. “Because I’m concerned with the part about demons chasing this girl- how are you even supposed to protect her?” He threw his hands up in exasperation. What the hell was going on? Why wasn’t Dean demanding answers? Why wasn’t he questioning this latest ‘request’ from on high?
Sam looked at Dean suspiciously. Because his brother wasn’t behaving as he should, like the Dean he knew but he hadn’t been himself ever since he got back.
Dean noted his brothers’ hazel eyes narrow. They shifted from the hallway to him and back again. Dean frowned but Sam didn’t say a word, he didn’t have to. The expression on his face was clearer than anything he could’ve said. Dean was already shaking his head.
“That’s not- I’m not-!” He protested. But the idea wasn’t entirely unappealing to Dean. She was a pretty thing, not exactly what he usually put the moves on…
Of course he knew that. Castiel had said her family were servants of God, that they’d all done their part and it was this woman’s turn.
Sam let out a heavy breath. He ran both hands through his already messy hair and turned away from Dean.
“We should be heading out to the next Seal. Stop the demons from breaking it and all the others so Lucifer stays where he’s supposed to be.” Sam jabbed a finger at the floor. Dean kept himself from following the motion but it didn’t stop his mind from playing images of his hell sojourn. Sometimes he could still feel the sting in his flesh from-
Dean blinked, green eyes focused on the living room and his brother’s face.
“She’s got Black Ice.” He said turning back to the CD’s and pulling out the black case with red letters. Sam’s brow furrowed, confused by the comment. He wasn’t sure what Dean was talking about.
“It’s not bad; I still like the old stuff better.” Dean continued ignoring the look on his little brother’s face. He didn’t want to have that conversation, didn’t want to talk about hell or demons or Lucifer or Sammy going evil on him and siding with Ruby-. No, Dean didn’t want to talk about any of that. Not yet.
So he put the CD into the player and let the sounds fill his head…
Rhomilly ran her fingers through the damp strands. The misted mirror offered a blurry view of her features but she wasn’t paying attention. She was thinking, wondering if she was ready for what came next. They knew she was leaving, had been prepared for the call she’d made in the park. No one was going to try talking her out of this, it wasn’t some whim, she wasn’t playing… This was her purpose. She was next in line…
Family. There were plenty of others, but they couldn’t help her with this. Not the guys and Rhomilly didn’t see her cousins able or willing enough to take this on. The girls weren’t as steadfast in their belief or their faith, something Grandma Syd scolded them for. What good was all the time she spent teaching them if none of it was getting passed on to the next generation?
“Bachelor pad, cool.”
“Not a bachelor pad, Laz.”
“You're a party pooper, coz. Joel’s not going to be happy but-.”
“I’m telling Grandma Syd.”
“Yeesh. Bring out the big guns why don’t you? Fine. No party’s.”
“How soon can you guys get here? I’m sort of in a hurry. I think.”
“I’m not that far, actually. See ya for dinner?”
Rhomilly sighed. Lazaro would arrive with an appetite, that one always had a big appetite and his brother, Joel, wasn’t any different. She wondered if her brother was still with Joel and hoped not. Mission or not, Gabriel wasn’t going to like his little sister riding off with two guys.
‘Riel’s a doofus.’ Rhomy sighed and headed out of the bathroom.
Sam was sitting uncomfortably in a fluffy arm chair. His eyes kept straying to the hall Rhomilly had disappeared through while his brother amused himself with the A-Track collection and the old fashioned ‘juke box’. He’d already made himself comfortable by turning on her iPod and playing her list of faves. That was a strange mix of classic rock, bluesy ballads, alternative rock and hard metal rock with some country thrown in. The apartment was also an interesting mix of eras. The building itself was an old brick front and the plaque in the foyer had put its inaugural date as 1917. Most of the furniture in the 5th floor apartment had a 1920’s feel, almost as if it had been styled to resemble a gentleman’s club. The dark wood was predominant with brocade and block patterns. Sam was pretty sure the dark green and gold flower vine pattern hanging on the wall was a rug.
It was a big living room, with two sitting areas. One of them was set around a very nice piano… Sam had no idea what the woman was doing running away from demons or what she could possibly have that they wanted. She just didn’t fit the frame. All he had to do was look around the apartment, which he couldn’t help thinking was more than just an apartment. It was too big to start and from his seat Sam could see there was a balcony off the French doors of the second sitting area with the piano. Everything was… for lack of a better word, fancy-
“You found my best stash.” Rhomy noted coming into the living room. Sam jerked to his feet, his face flushing slightly with embarrassment even though he wasn’t the one snooping through her things.
“See anything you like?” Rhomy asked stopping by the chair Sam had vacated.
“Some.” Dean answered turning from the CD collection on the shelves. “I’m not sure about your taste in music…” One of the CD cases slipped from his hand as he gawked while the strains of ‘Home’ came through the speakers but it wasn’t a country voice who sang.
“Variety.” Rhomy answered amicably, her soft smile slipped as Dean’s intense gaze registered. With a quick glance at herself, she was re-assured to find there was nothing out of place. Her dress covered everything it was supposed to cover and it was comfortable not to mention decent. She cleared her throat and swept her gaze over the living room and sitting area before heading past Sam.
“I meant what I said.” Rhomy half turned as she walked. “About getting comfortable.”
Sam wished he was close enough to his brother he could jolt the blond out of his sudden muteness. He was annoyed by Dean and the way he was looking at Rhomy. He’d been thinking the woman didn’t fit into her surroundings but looking at her now… there was no doubt she belonged to a different world than they were used to.
“There’s four spare rooms.” She said pausing under the arch of another hallway. “You’re welcome to any one if you’d like to clean up.”
Sam’s face colored slightly, he knew they were dirty. They both needed a fresh change of clothes; one’s not stained with fresh blood or dirt from their resent encounter with demons. Rhomy was aware some of it was her doing and she felt sorry about getting them involved. Dean cleared his throat and tried not to look like a bigger idiot. So she was in a dress, one that was a close match to her skin tone he’d almost thought she’d been-
“Through the hall.” She pointed behind them. “Any door except the first on your right or third to your left.”
Dean watched her disappear through another arched entryway. Sam turned to Dean with a scowl when her voice floated out to them saying there’d be a guest for dinner.
“Dinner?” Dean echoed with a slight frown.
“Put your eyes back in.” Sam hissed disapprovingly. He wondered why Dean couldn’t be normal- right. That was normal for Dean. “Never mind.” He sighed shaking his head.
Dean’s frown didn’t budge. He stared at the hall she’d walked into not liking how she just trusted two strange men to be alone in her home.
‘She knows we’re supposed to take care of her.’
But maybe Castiel hadn’t said anything. How was she supposed to know they weren’t psycho serial killers with pretty faces?
“Now what?” Sam questioned looking irritated. For a moment Dean didn’t say anything, he just stared after her which only annoyed Sam more.
What was going on with his brother?
“Get our duffels.” Dean tossed his keys at Sam deliberately walking to the arched hall. Sam shook his head but at least it looked as though Dean was going to try getting some answers.
Rhomy stood in front of the pantry, one hand was absently plucking at the gauzy material of her dress. It was the one she’d laid out before going on her… she didn’t have a name for what she was doing. Riel would tease her; call her a ‘vessel’ or some other nonsense but he always ended up with the same; they were Soldiers of God.
She was debating her dinner choices knowing meat was definitely on the menu. Her cousin would complain if there wasn’t and the other two looked like carnivores as well. She’d be extremely surprised if one or both of the men in her home turned out to be vegans.
“That would be…wrong. Yep, just wrong…” she murmured with a slight shake of her head.
“Do you talk to yourself a lot?”
Rhomy jumped with a startled squeak at Dean’s question.
“Sorry.” He said though he didn’t look it in the least. Again she found his stare disconcerting so she turned back to the pantry.
“Yes.” She answered making a face at the breathiness of her voice. “I’m used to being alone.” And she was trying very hard to cover her embarrassment but the heat in her cheeks meant she was blushing. Rhomy grabbed some cans from the pantry and turned closing the doors with a sandaled foot.
Dean stared which didn’t help. The cans clattered onto the island as she set them down and then hurriedly went to the refrigerator. She pulled out a stack of packages in white paper. Those she put in the sink before unhooking a large pot from the rack over the island.
“Do you have a last name?” She asked while filling the pot with water because she still felt his eyes on her.
“Winchester.” Dean replied watching her avoid eye contact or even looking in his direction.
“Oh. Like the…huh.” Rhomy shook her head, her lips quirking in a half smile. HE definitely had a sense of humor; she thought and set the pot on the stove.
“Are you gonna share the joke?” Dean asked with just a hint of annoyance in his voice as he leaned on the counter.
“I’m not making fun. Really.” Rhomy assured looking at him. She better than anyone knew what it was like to get teased because of your name but maybe Dean hadn’t been teased…
Dean raised a blond eyebrow.
“It’s just… Colt.” Rhomy said after a hesitant pause.
He tilted his head in question.
“Rhomilly Colt.” She clarified with a slight shrug.
“Colt.” Dean repeated and slowly his lips turned up in a smile.
“Angels really don’t hold much with introductions.” Rhomy stated more for something to say as she turned back to the sink.
“Or answering questions.” Dean added pointedly.
“That all depends on the questions.”
There was another pause; one Rhomy didn’t know how to fill because she knew he was going to start asking questions. There were some things Dean wasn’t ready to hear, he wouldn’t believe and that would make him wary around her which she couldn’t blame him for.
“Let’s start easy.” Dean said shifting his stance until he stood with his arms crossed while Rhomy tossed some potatoes in the sink. “Cas.” To her credit she didn’t even flinch. “You knew.”
“Yes.” She answered as she started to toss the potatoes into the boiling water.
It really wasn’t that difficult a question. How did she know Castiel was an angel? But the answer wasn’t easily believable and after seeing the reaction of those few she’d told the truth to… maybe Dean would be different? Maybe he wouldn’t think her some nut, or wonder if she was messing around with him… After all, Dean was on speaking terms with an angel of the Lord.
“I see… them.” She answered softly, setting the lid over the boiling pot. “Not their true forms but I can see… I see them.” Rhomy said unable to really describe the way they looked- their wings and the light in their eyes- the way the air around them seemed to fill up and…
‘Lame. That was so lame.’
She couldn’t help it.
“Castiel isn’t the first angel I’ve met.” Rhomy elucidated turning towards him again. “Tamryn, she’s –. I guess she’s my guardian angel.” She fidgeted with the skirt of her dress again. “Sort of.”
“Uh…huh.” Dean nodded not hiding the doubt stamped on his features.
‘Probably thinks I’m crazy…’
“Cant you hear them?” Rhomy asked with just a tinge of desperation coloring her words. She wanted him to believe her because it would make everything else so much easier.
“NO.” Dean answered quickly, shifting out of his leaning pose to stand straight. “Definitely not.” He hoped to God never to go through that again.
Rhomy frowned, unsure about his reaction and what it meant.
“What did Castiel tell you?” She asked. “About me, I mean.”
Dean looked as though he wouldn’t answer and she tried not to fidget under his stare.
“The demons would come for you again.” He said quietly. “They wouldn’t stop.”
Rhomy nodded. She already knew that, had accepted that life was going to change drastically for her and the only one she could rely on was already taking care of her. Hadn’t HE put Dean and Sam in her path already?
“You're very calm for someone who’s being hunted by demons.” Dean stated frowning. By contrast he noticed the softening of her features.
“Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in him.” She loved that verse. It was a promise, an assurance that everything would be alright so long as she kept faith and believed in HIM.
Dean scowled. Everything in him rebelled against what he heard. Because what he took from those words was that he deserved all the bad things that were happening and it wouldn’t be such a bitch to accept if only innocent people didn’t have to suffer along with him.
“It’s my turn.” Rhomy said quietly, noticing the change in him.
“It isn’t yet time…”
She sighed and turned towards the sink where she began to un-wrap the packages.
“Wh-. Your…turn?” Dean echoed. He shook his head- she was spouting bible verses at him and not making sense. Anyone in her shoes would’ve been frightened- hell they’d be terrified! That was the normal, accepted and expected reaction….
“My family,” Rhomy said as she put the white paper in the trash can under the sink. “We aren't like…other people.”
“Neither are we.” Dean snorted wondering where she was going with the conversation. “My brother and I, we grew up hunting demons.” He found himself adding. He didn’t know why only that it wasn’t uncomfortable or strange- no, talking to her felt like… like he was with an old friend…someone he… trusted…
“We know about Hunters.” Rhomy assured with a glance over her shoulder at him. Her Grandmother Syd had helped a few back in the day, when she’d been young and a ‘Soldier’ but the friendships didn’t last. Death sort of took care of that… “But we aren't. My family-we don’t hunt. We aren't part of the community.”
“And you're still hunted by the demons.” Dean said.
There it was again! That calm acceptance of something that should’ve been scaring the daylights out of her. So why wasn’t it? Why wasn’t she afraid? And why the hell was it bothering Dean so much, that lack of concern- of fear…
“What do they want?” Dean growled. “And don’t tell me they think you have something they want. We both know you do. So what is it?” he demanded.
Rhomy turned to the stove. She pulled the pot off the flames and poured the steaming contents into the sink keeping her face out of the billowing steam. She was stalling and they both knew it.
“What do they want?” Dean asked again.
Rhomy knew she couldn’t tell him, she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone what it was the demons wanted from her. Only her chosen one had the right to know because it would be up to both of them to keep it safe. That was how it had been from the very beginning and even Grandfather Elian had not been able to tell his wife. His disobedience has caused the family so much grief….
“Something I’m not about to give them.” Rhomy stated quietly. She knew it wasn’t enough to satisfy Dean but he wasn’t ready to know. He wasn’t going to accept anything else- at least not yet and it pained her to have to sidestep his questions.
“And what’s that?” Dean insisted growing more annoyed. It was like pulling teeth with her and he couldn’t understand why it had to be this hard. She knew he was there to protect her, Castiel had said so! So what was the problem?
“A key.” Rhomy answered with a sigh. She set the meat on a plate and reached for her spices.
“That’s it?” Dean demanded incredulous. “A key.” That’s what the demons wanted from her and she wasn’t giving it up… “To what?” He asked warily. He moved around the island until he was at her side watching her wrap the steaks in foil and setting them on a tray.
“You have a purpose don’t you?” She asked keeping her eyes on the work at hand. “A reason why God sent his angels to you?” She finished and bent to set the tray in the oven while Dean drew away from her. Had Castiel said something? Did she know it was all his fault? The seal’s being broken and Lucifer about to rise… did she know-?
“My family,” Rhomy said. “Our purpose,” she straightened and moved to the counter where she began opening the cans. “We protect that key. We keep it safe and out of demonic hands.” She turned to him, her brown eyes just a little hard. “At all costs.”
Dean watched her take the cans and pour then into the same pot she’d emptied. Her face was as calm as it had been before, when she’d acknowledged demons were hunting her.
‘For a key. A damn key!’ Dean thought.
What was so damn important about it? And why her? Why was it her turn?
He was frowning, trying to understand but she knew he couldn’t, he didn’t know because he didn’t want to see.
“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you, for everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.”
Again. She was quoting scripture at him and Dean didn’t like it. He hadn’t appreciated it when Pastor Jim did it and he sure as hell didn’t like it now.
She was ignoring the scowl on his face and the clenched jaw. Her whole demeanor was calm and confident.
“I asked.” Rhomy said with a barely noticeable shrug of her shoulder.