Warning: Angst!Sam'nDean, Hurt!Sam
Disclaimer: The usual. Nothing's mine.
A/N: Geminigrl11 was awesome beta. Remaining mistakes are mine.
St. Mary was a town in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it wasn't really a town at all. More like a colourful conglomeration of dull, one-storied houses. There was a small sheriff's department, a hairdresser--who also offered the only drinkable coffee in the perimeter of a hundred miles (he even had Happy Hours, where you could get the coffee for half the price if you let you hair cut) – and a small elementary school, which had once been a church. A big church, but still a church.
Cleo had never left the town except for one time, when she and her father had gone to the nearest hospital in Pittsburgh to visit her Mom and her newborn twin sisters. Boy, that had been the longest drive of her life. And the worst thing: they'd had to take the two little brats back home.
Cleo had never known anything else but her family, the neighbours and the teachers in school. She had friends: four precisely. But there just weren't more kids of her age close by. So she grew up fishing and hiking, mostly alone.
She had a tree house in the backyard. A backyard big enough to get lost in sometimes. But getting lost sometimes had nothing to do with not finding a way back home. Sometimes, it was about knowing exactly where she was, but not knowing if she would ever be anywhere else.
A small bus came to pick her up for school every morning. Just her and the guy from across the street. A boy with hair as unruly as her own. Whenever she saw him, he had his nose buried deeply in a book. A different one every morning, as if he actually read them. And he pretty much never looked up. Sometimes, he tripped in the middle aisle of the bus. Then he'd smile sheepishly and lift his book even higher to hide behind it.
He was strange. Strange in a way that Cleo never really tried to understand. He wasn't like other guys. He didn't bully in school, he didn't even acknowledge anyone but the teachers. That probably was the reason why the teachers loved him. Good marks, intelligent and respectful. The teachers thought it was lovely, Cleo thought he was the weirdest person on the planet. Still, it wasn't like she knew a lot of people to compare him to.
Sometimes, she imagined him floating a few feet above the earth, his head in the clouds and oblivious to everything around... until this one morning a few weeks ago.
"Hey!" he had said, blinking owlishly like he had just woken up.
Cleo was way too surprised to answer.
"Uhm, my name's Sam, by the way."
She had felt like laughing. They had ridden to school together every morning for weeks now and he only just remembered to introduce himself? He wasweird. Plus, of course, she already knew his name.
"I know," she had answered, staring at him like she'd seen him for the first time. "I'm Cleo." He smiled, hearing her name for the first time.
It was one of these mornings again. She'd had a lot of these mornings in the last few months, when the world decided to spit her on the street and run her over with a truck, and she blamed her twin sisters Itchy and Scratchy. They had real names, but they just didn't fit. Who in his right minds calls his twin daughters Mary and Sue anyway? It reminded Cleo of orcas called Minni, or rabid dogs called Herbert. It was just blasphemous, really.
Sam was waiting for her at the bus stop, his ever present book clammed under his upper arm. It was frigid, December coldness creeping under layers of clothes and he'd stomped on his feet to stay warm. His face was partly hidden under a woolen cap and he looked kinda ridiculous. Pennsylvania wasn't known for its nice weather and it wasn't the first time Cleo wondered, why the hell he was here? Obviously, his father had moved here for a reason. Sometimes, there was an older guy too, a brother, Cleo had learned, but they weren't home very often. Or ever. Sam had said they were hunters. That had explained a lot. Though now, open season was over.
He smiled at her when she came closer and it was a bright smile, all teeth and dimples, and Cleo forgot how ridiculous he was looking.
"What's gotten you all shiny this morning?" she asked and couldn't avoid a smile of her own. She never could avoid a smile if he was around.
"My brother's back since last night." White clouds formed in front of his mouth and they looked sweet, like cotton candy.
"Cool," she answered, not really sure what he was so happy about. She'd have been glad to be left alone for a while. On the other side, she didn't admire anything about her siblings, whereas Sam seemed to think his brother was the new messiah. "And your father?"
"Yeah, him too," he answered and his face fell a little.
"Did they get anything?"
Now she was sure, there was a blush on his cheeks. "No," he replied and looked away, pretending to look out for the bus.
"Oh, sorry." Cleo said, not sure what she was supposed to say.
"No, that's okay. Means I'll be here a little while longer."
Sometimes he said weird stuff. Stuff like Means I'll be here a little while longer. It didn't make sense. As if any hunter would move just because he couldn't find any turkeys. That was stupid.
When they started being friends, she had asked a lot of stuff. About him, his family, his hobbies. He loved reading. That's the only thing she found out after paralyzing hours of interrogation. He was as reticent as his books were boring.
Cleo didn't think about him very often. Yeah, he was a mystery, but on the other hand, he was as unspectacular as the crime rate in St Mary.
The bus finally arrived with screeching brakes and Ken, the driver, watched them enter the bus with a thrilled expression.
"Hey people," he mumbled and drove on, before Sam and Cleo had even a chance to sit down. "Did ya hear?"
"Hear what?" Cleo asked.
"Ol' Benjamin's dead!"
"What?" There was a thick silence in the bus and Sam threw her a questioning glance. She ignored him. He probably didn't even know the old man, who was responsible for a lot of talk in town. Old man, lonely and living on his own in the middle of nowhere. More nowhere than even St. Mary. "How?"
"Was eaten by bugs, I heard. Or frozen in his outhouse. Nobody really knows. The Sheriff just came back when I left."
"That's awful," Cleo said and, to her own surprise, meant it. Of course, Benjamin wasn't exactly a model resident. He was said to be really mean and grumpy since his daughter died about twenty years ago. But Cleo was emotional. Death was just the perfect thing to be emotional about. It was way more cry-worthy than a scraped knee or an F in geography. Death was bad.
"Hah," Ken snickered morbidly. "Bet he fell asleep on the loo and drank in his own piss."
"That's not funny." Cleo reprimanded. But after the first period, she'd already forgotten about it.
She remembered again three days later when the Sheriff was found dead in a ditch. He was discovered by Ray the postman, who was doing his first round at seven am. And luckily or not, he was the most blabbering scandalmonger in the northern hemisphere. Around lunch, everybody in town knew about the Sheriff missing his eyes and his heart. The local newspaper was titled Jack the Backwood-Ripperand for the first time in over twenty years, the cumbersome bell on top of the elementary school's turret was sending a raw boom all over the town. Its echo bouncing back from the valleys walls, trying to give comfort where there was only disbelief.
Sam didn't wait on the bus stop this morning and Ken didn't show up either. It was as if the whole town had shut down because of shock. The wind was howling like mad and Cleo popped up her collar, trying to withstand the maelstrom around her. The first snowflakes of the season twirled around like fireflies in a hurricane. The weather was appropriate. Exactly how she would have described how the weather had to be, in case of a serial killer cutting through St. Mary like a knife through butter. Even her mother was acting weird. She had actually cried over her toast, hiccuping into her coffee and had shooed away the concerned looks of Cleo's father with a flick of her hand.
Cleo, on the other hand, had no idea what to think about this situation. Foreign and surreal it seemed, like a TV-show cast with bad actors. And it's not like it affected her in any way. Okay, she'd known the Sheriff, but he'd had a dangerous job, right? Sooner or later everyone had to die. So why not in the ditch on his way back from a crime scene?
A particularly hefty gust made her stumble and she had to hold onto the fence separating the Winchester's home from the street. A face watched her through one of the windows and it vanished as soon as Cleo had recognized it. It was Sam. She threw one last glance down the road. The bus wouldn't come, that much was clear. With a sigh that was swallowed by the howling of the wind, she trudged back home.
When she arrived, her mother was about to drive off, her two twin sisters in tow.
"Where are you going?" Cleo asked and wondered for a moment, if her mother actually realized that her oldest daughter wasn't on her way to school right now. That was a bad sign, especially since her mother was a teacher. The woman threw her a distracted smile.
"Director Miller called. They're closing the school for the week." She got into the car after checking the seatbelts of Itchy and Scratchy, who were secured on their seats in the back of the car.
"What?" The whole scene was starting to creep Cleo out and she felt a whiff of panic, not sure where that had come from. "Why?"
"The weather... I guess. Could you give me..." Her mother pointed towards a small travelling bag sitting on the stairs to the main door.
"Sure, but... " Cleo handed over the bag and without another word her mother was gone, leaving nothing behind but a few tire traces in the thin cover of snow.
"That was very strange," Cleo mumbled before she vanished into the house.
She found her father in the cellar piling wood for the fireplace and before she even had to ask, he told her a story about his wife's sister, who had died twenty years ago. Eyes and heart missing.
She had never been in Sam's home before. She just never had the chance. And honestly, she never before felt the need to talk to him. And now, her throat hurt from keeping the tears at bay. That's kid stuff, she scolded herself. You're grown up, nearly eighteen. Stop being such a wuss!
Her Mom had left a few hours ago to bring the twins to their grandparents, and after Cleo's father had told her about her aunt, she had gone into her room, trying to process what she'd just heard. Maybe she was stuck in a parallel universe in her own home, which wasn't her home at all. Yep, that sounded like a pretty good explanation.
Sam's home was old and she always wondered, how the hell he managed not to freeze to death in there. Before he and his family had moved in last August, the house was empty. Old and empty, like a dying man in a rocking chair. The windows barricaded and black, where the wood had decayed into nothingness. Scary, really.
Scraping together all her guts (Why the heck is it so difficult? It's just your freaking neighbours!) she knocked against the door, rattling beneath her fingers. She repeated this a few times before the door was opened and a man stood in the door. Sam's brother. He was older than her, with short hair and a face that expressed self-confidence and a healthy dose of arrogance. He lifted his eyebrow, looking at her, like he wanted to see beneath her thick clothes.
"Sammy?" He yelled back into the house, but didn't offer her to come in. "There's a hot blonde at the door. Did you order anything?"
Cleo was on the brink of telling this guy to shut up. She wasn't even blonde. Her hair was brown, nearly black. And it was currently hidden under the hood of her parka.
Fortunately Sam saved her from any stupidity she was about to commit.
"Cleo?" he greeted her, all deer in the headlights, and she felt already a little bit better. "What are you doing here?"
She swallowed down her feeling of not being welcome. "I just..." Actually she had no idea why she was here. She only knew, she couldn't be at home right now. "Can I come in?"
Another voice sounded from somewhere in the house. "Sam? Dean? Get ready, we're leaving in five."
"We're coming," Dean said, throwing Sam a meaningful glance and she felt even less welcome than the minute before. "You heard him, Sammy," Dean said with a grin. "Make it short and don't hurt her feelings."
"Shut up, Dean," Sam came to her rescue and passed his brother on his way to the door. "Come in."
She found herself in a long hall, leading into the kitchen on the other end. The door on her right was wide open, leading into a room that was supposed to be a living room. With the exception that there was no way of living in this room. A lonely table stood in the middle. No chairs. And on the table-top was the most exotic collection of weapons and guns Cleo had ever seen. She only had a few seconds before Sam took the sleeve of her parka and dragged her with him into the kitchen.
"Is everything okay?" He asked when he'd pushed her down a chair in the kitchen.
"Uhm, yeah," She answered, biting her lip. Sam seemed distant and not keen on having to talk to her. Repeatedly, he glimpsed towards the hall, looking out for something. "Well...No."
"What's wrong?" He asked and this time he looked at her, without blinking. Like he really wanted to know if everything was okay. "Your family...?"
"My family's fine. I just..."
He winced, ducking his head. "Coming, Sir," He yelled back, looking awfully guilty. "I'm so sorry, Cleo. I gotta go. Hunting, you know?"
"Now? There's a serial killer somewhere out there. Did you realize that?" If possible, he looked even more guilty.
"I'm safe. I'm going to be safe. Just... just go back home and make sure all doors are locked. Promise!"
"What's going on?" She demanded to know, even when he pushed her back through the entrance door.
"Nothing, just... take care, okay?"
He closed the door and through the window of her room, she watched the three men driving away fifteen minutes later.
Cleo's father was a jazz fan. He always made fun by imitating the trumpets, his eyes closed and his hand moved listlessly through the air. But the music had clanged unheard and unappreciated through the house since late afternoon. The wind had died down a notch while the snow kept falling, hiding the backyard in a thick blanket of white. The sky was the colour of mouldy bread and Cleo was convinced, God had sent the weather to mirror her mood.
The day stretched endlessly. Her father barely left the cellar, piling the wood from one corner into the next. She hadn't even tried to talk to him. Now the sun had set hours ago and her father had build a fire in the fireplace as if to protest against the solitude hanging in the air like the smell of her Mom's burnt pies.
Shortly after nine, he asked if she wanted to have dinner. She said yes, just to fill the silence. Now, the macaroni had long gone cold and she stared at them.
"Aren't you hungry?"
She looked up and met her father's eyes. The phone rang and she was saved from having to answer. It was her Mom, telling them that she had reached Pittsburgh safe and sound a few hours ago.
"Yeah, the weather is bad," Her father agreed. There was a pause. "No, she's fine. I told her... no, it's okay. We're safe. Don't worry!"
Cleo shook her head. She didn't feel safe. She felt betrayed but couldn't describe the exact reason for this feeling. It wasn't like her father had told her that she was adopted. She snorted loudly, not able to restrain the bubble of jumpiness locked inside. No, it was just the Late Night News. Oh, and by the way, your aunt was brutally mauled and murdered but that's okay, cause that was twenty years ago. Only that exactly the same thing had happened again. Hours ago.
She had just changed into her nightclothes when she heard the sound of wheels on the frozen snow. The headlights were muted by the falling snow but she could identify the pick up; she'd seen Sam driving away in it. It was late, close to midnight and she sneaked to the window. Of course, Sam couldn't see her, as there was no light in her room. Anyway, she just wanted to make sure Sam was okay.
But before she was able to get a glimpse of him, the headlights were turned off and the street was bathed in darkness yet again. She jumped when she heard the doorbell ring and was half-scared, half-curious when she opened her door to the hallway. A pair of loud voices sounded from downstairs. One of them, of course, was her father and the other one... The voice seemed familiar.
That's when she felt it.
A pang of anxiety, a feeling like being watched. A cold chill ran down her back and made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up like they were electrified. She felt childish for turning her head and wanting to check if there was something in her room. But she felt anything but childish when there was something staring back.
And she started screaming.
She was on her back and something was lying on her. Or more like jumping up and down. She felt her breath leave her body and pressed her eyes shut to avoid looking at the nightmare that must have followed her from troubled sleep. A person, a monster, a thing with the face of an old woman. Her long nails crawling against Cleo's chest, making her skin burn.
A loud crack made her gasp and she rolled away, surprised to be able to move at all.
"Cleo!" Stomping footsteps came closer and she felt herself lifted and encircled by strong arms. Her nose was buried deeply in her father's sweater. "Cleo? Are you alright?"
She nodded in a daze and over her father's shoulder, she could see Sam's father standing on the top of the stairs, a clunky weapon in his hand.
"What the hell is going on?" Her father turned around, yelling at him. She could see his spit flying and decided in this very moment never to make her father angry again. That couldn't be healthy.
"You have to calm down, Mr Clancy," Winchester senior ordered and his voice didn't allow any further arguments. He obviously was used to giving orders and he didn't budge an inch when Cleo's father answered: "Who the hell do you think you are? Barging in like that? You could have shot my daughter."
"Being shot by rock salt is the lesser evil against being ripped open by a dead and really angry witch. Believe me." Sam's dad turned around, looked down the stairs and bellowed, "Sam! Get the protection ready in the basement. Dean and I will take care of the rest." He grabbed her father's arm and they were led down without having the time to express their disapproval about being pushed around in their own house. Her father was mumbling under his breath, but he was too shocked to do anything else but stumble next to her, his hand wrapped around her arm.
She found herself back in the cellar and couldn't remember the trip down here. Her feet were chilled. She had no shoes on.
"Are you alright?" Sam's voice cut through her hazy awareness and she opened her eyes, trying to see in the darkness of the room. Sam was standing in front of her, his arms wrapped around his body as if to make himself invisible. He pretty much looked like Cleo was feeling.
"What would you tell me to make it better if I said no?" Cleo answered and felt anger bubbling to the surface of her stretched emotions. "Your father is a hunter, you told me! He nearly SHOT me up there!"
Sam's face was a mask of stone, but still there was a flicker of pain crossing his features. "He didn't... he saved you."
"From what? What was that thing? Are you like... headhunters or something?"
Sam huffed and looked away.
"Hey, Sam!" Dean stood in the doorframe leading into the kitchen. "Stop flirting and get your ass in the gear!"
Without giving an answer, Sam bent forward and started drawing something on the floor while Cleo watched him. An old blanket, smelling like oil and car polish, was wrapped around her shoulder and she leaned against her father's chest.
"What happened to make this day turn out so bad?" she asked no one in particular, but didn't get an answer anyway. There was just the shuffling noise of Sam's boots on the concrete.
"Sam?" A panicked voice yelled down at them. "Are you finished? We can't hold her back much longer."
Sam looked up and even in the darkness, Cleo could see his face scrunched up in concentration. Two more lines on the floor and he yelled back. "Done!" Then he turned towards Cleo and she felt her heart clench at the sight of his face. There was nothing but efficiency in his attitude. A bossy aura not that different from the one of his father. He was insane. Yeah, he and his family. Dead witches, hah!
"Get in the circle, now!"
"Why do you think..." Her father begun but was interrupted by a noise, as blood-freezing and toe-curling as nothing Cleo had ever heard before. The windows rattled in their frames and the echo seemed to get the air into fluctuation, like a shotgun that made the birds flee from their nests.
Sam didn't waste anymore breath for orders. Without any further comment, he pushed them into the crude circle spiked with weird symbols and lines that could have been words.
The windows exploded inwards with a loud wail and Cleo and her father ducked helplessly. She bit her lip and peeped over her fathers shoulder, wishing a second later that she hadn't. Splinters were sailing over their heads, spraying her hair and her father's back.
The thing, monster, whatever, was in the room with them and even though it made the temperature drop even more, Cleo didn't feel the cold biting anymore. She only saw Sam, standing between her and the thing. The witch. His stance was erect, his body ready to jump which he did when the thing floated closer. It fucking FLOATED! And the only thing that currently racked her brain was this one thought: "Where's his freakin' book?"
He shot at it, again with a shotgun, and Cleo felt like crying... or laughing... or both. Shooting a ghost with a shotgun. That would make one hell of an entry in her diary. To her surprise the load of bullets made the thing shriek and it burst in a million pieces, like trampling on a sandcastle. But it reappeared on the other side of the room only seconds later.
"Don't waste the rock salt," Dean yelled and came running down the stairs. "Doesn't work. Bitch is immune."
Sam cursed loudly, his innocent face grimacing, and he threw his weapon away. "So what? Do we yell at her until she's insulted and pouts in a corner?"
Dean laughed. A hearty laugh, as appropriate as giving a pair of scissors to a two year old. It made Cleo want to kick his ass. She was confined in ruddy circle, her world view tumbling in and out like a badly tuned radio channel. And this guy was fucking laughing.
"Are you kidding me?" She blurted out and Dean threw her an irritated glance.
"Just keep her in check until Dad's finished with the ritual," he informed Sam.
A ritual. Of course. Oh, this was getting better and better.
The two brothers surrounded the witch, Dean holding a machete in his hands, and Sam seemingly unarmed except for bottle of something liquid that he sprayed at her. Like blessing a newborn with holy water. But when the witch tried to attack, she screamed in pain. Looking at the two of was like watching a well oiled dance. They charged in turns, Dean standing back when Sam charged and vice versa. Their movements seemed to blur. But there was this one second before the next one, when Cleo felt it, knew it. She just knew, something was going to happen. Just like she always knew a few seconds in advance when the alarm would wake her up in the morning.
Loud clangs started rattling her brain and she watched the neatly hacked wood beginning to shake. The well-constructed tower her father had worked for all day started to waver and seconds later, the wooden pieces of wood jerked and sped of like deformed projectiles.
"Dad! Now would be great!" Dean yelled over the rampaging firewood noise.
Cleo ducked her head, her father curled above her for protection. A burst of light and heat washed over her back and she thought about all the things that could explode in the cellar when shot at with bullets from a shotgun. Just great! The explosion was accompanied by another unearthly scream and this time, Cleo clapped her hands over her ears, pressed her eyes shut and just wished for this nightmare to be over. She wanted to wake up in her bed. She wanted to think, how weird Sam was, waiting for the bus with Catcher in the Rye in his hands. She wanted to get back her own little world of banality and picnics and catfights with her moronic sisters. But there was no way back. She knew it. And it hurt even more than the burn on her skin and the bruises on her ribs.
The upcoming stillness was depressing and made the darkness even darker. There was nothing but the fast breathing of her father. And then...
... her heart stopped beating. At least, it felt like it.
Dean held a Zippo in his hand, lighting the unmoving figure of Sam. A branch stuck obscenely from his left side below his ribcage. In the dim light, Cleo could see his chest going up and down, trying to get air in his bruised lung.
"Sammy?" Dean repeated and his voice was heartbreaking. The sound of it made Cleo's eyes water immediately and she jumped up, regretting the motion as soon as she stood upright. She felt dizzy, grasping her fathers shoulder to keep standing.
Sam was awake. The flickering light made the pupils in his eyes dance and he blinked, confused.
"Dean?" he croaked and tried to get up. He pushed his elbow on the floor, wincing loudly when the muscles in his chest protested. He fell back but was caught by his brother's hands to avoid hitting his head against the rack behind him.
"Oh shit!" snarled Sam, grimacing at the sight of the thing protruding from his chest. "Get it out!"
Dean shook his head. "You know I can't." He turned around, met Cleo's gaze and hissed. "Get my dad! And a few clean towels!" But Cleo felt glued to the floor. Her heart trampled the staccato beat of a galloping horse and before she even realized the request was directed to her, her father had gotten up and hurried away to follow the orders.
"What's wrong with him?" she asked and felt herself blush a deep red. Could there be a more idiotic question? There was a fucking piece of wood sticking out of her friend's body and she was asking what was wrong? Go girl! "I'm sorry, don't answer that!" she added hastily, relieved to find her body following her brain's instructions again. She went to Sam, kneeled down next to him and took his hand in hers.
"Sorry," he whispered. He was looking miserable. His skin a waxy white and his bangs were wet against his forehead. "I'm so sorry, Cleo."
"What for?" she asked and gripped his hand harder.
"I ..." Sam said, obviously thinking hard.
"It's okay, Sam. Forget it!"
"Dean? What's wrong?" The stern voice of Sam's father came closer and the older man pushed Cleo out of his way.
"I'll call 9-1-1." Never before had she felt so much relief. Her father was probably the only one thinking straight and he even remembered calling an ambulance. That was...
"What?" Cleo questioned unbelievingly. "Are you kidding?"
Sam's father threw her a glance that could have made hell freeze over and she took a step backwards until her back hit the rack.
"No hospital. Dean, get him out of here!"
Dean leaned down, whispered something in Sam's ear and the younger boy nodded. Biting his lip to hold back a cry, he was heaved up and stood on shaky legs, his torso bent forwards to unburden his hurt side. Deans face was worried and his movements slow and deliberate, his arm carefully wrapped around Sam's back, who threw one last glance to Cleo before letting his head fall towards his chest.
Sam's father watched his sons stagger upstairs before he turned towards Cleo and her father.
"We'll take care of him." There was something missing in his words. It wasn't honesty, because if Cleo was sure about one thing, it was the fact that everything the old Winchester said was true and no matter for contradiction. But still, his voice was hardened, void of emotion. Though his eyes were different. There was a hint of fire, like a lion protecting his cubs.
"But..." she tried again, taking a step closer. There had to be a way of getting help for Sam. He needed help. He had a STICK IN HIS CHEST. Cleo even went to a doctor in case of a cough. It just...
"No!" It looked like he wanted to say something else but he seemed to decide otherwise, turned around and followed his sons out of Cleo's basement.
The next morning came with a wonderful sight. Winterly sunbeams made the snow sparkle and shine with an intensity that caused Cleo to close her hurting eyes. The non-existent sleep made her eyes scratchy and they teared at the smallest reason.
After giving up trying to sleep she had gone into the kitchen, watching her father clean the oven. He always did that when he was upset. Sometimes he was weird. Though not as weird as Sam.
This very thought had nearly made her burst in tears. Yeah, Sam was weird and sweet and brave and probably more insane than what could be counted as healthy. But honestly, how could anyone be normal after last night's events?
Her father and she didn't talk about it. They played cards after her father's hands were dry and chapped from the detergents, but she couldn't remember the game or who won. It didn't matter. The only thing that mattered was the huge patch of dark blood in the cellar, nearly black after having dried the whole night. Someone should clean it. If her Mom found out, she'd go ballistic.
On the other hand, she should be happy to have a family after last night.
The snow stopped falling around mid-morning. Peaceful and quiet was the street. Like nothing had happened. But the stain in the cellar told something else.
Half an hour later, Cleo tightened the big jacket around her shivering frame and she hesitated a second before rising her hand and beating her knuckles gently against the door.
An open door.
She didn't even have to enter the house. She knew instantly she'd find it empty. Nothing in the cupboards over the kitchen sink, no bedclothes, no toothbrush.
Just a few bloody towels in the tub.
She went home in a daze and started to cry in silence when she saw her father scrubbing away furiously on the basement floor.
Sequel: Goodbye Hello Can be found in my profile;-)