Rook’s seen a lot in the relatively short time Hope County has been under siege - more than any human being should have to see in their life, let alone a few months. But nothing - not the corpses of people they had just spoken to the day before, or animals perverted by bliss, or chunks of skin being nailed to the wall - compares to the searing, unblinking gaze of Joseph Seed when they hung from the crashed copter, face only inches from theirs. And that voice, that fucking soft rendition of Amazing Grace, like he was lulling them to sleep. They’ll never forget how he sang it the whole short-lived ride, because of course the peggies were willing to decapitate themselves just so he couldn’t be taken, of course he survived the crash completely unscathed while the rest of them were so badly banged up that they were easily captured, of course–
“You still with me?”
They’re back in the bell tower of Lamb of God Church, and Grace is watching them rest against her leg, her brow raised. Saying they’re fully removed from their thoughts, however, is generous. She likes to come back here every so often to make sure everything is still undisturbed - she says it makes her feel closer to her father. But all it does for Rook is remind them that the peggies tried to take away this away from her - her, the person they cared about most of all. There’s nothing comforting about that.
And they can’t get that song and those eyes out of their head.
“We can leave soon, find a cozy place to shack up. You seem exhausted.”
Grace smirks. “Considerin’ you’re answering me with questions, yeah, I’d say so.”
Rook focuses on her face, tries to replace Joseph’s eyes with her dark brown ones. The smeared black marks and dirt caked on her cheeks are so real, so her, just like her messy side ponytail and fraying scarf. How could whatever Joseph Seed claimed to feel about his followers compare to being so utterly moved by a living, breathing person? They rub their thumb along her calf, as if that will be enough to prepare her for what they’re about to do.
“Don’t.” She already knows what’s coming, like she does everything else. That only makes their heart swell for her more, and they smile. Grace puts up a hand, eyes wide. “No. People used to do this to me all the time, I don’t want–”
But Rook wants to. They need to, to hear their own voice in their head again.
“Amazing Grace–” They push themselves up off the ground and point at her, grinning, “How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.” They take her hands and pull her up out of her seat - she lets them, despite how annoyed she looks. “I once was lost, but now I’m found.” They pull her close, pressing their foreheads together. Her eyes are right there, and the warmth in them seeps through to their soul - but it’s not enough. “Was blind… was blind… but–”
‘No one is coming to save you.’
His face won’t leave their thoughts, nor will the heat of the fire around them. He’s so close they can feel his hot breath fan over their skin, and the sharp tug on their hair as he forces them to look at him. Too close, so fucking close, he can do whatever he wants with them, why isn’t he? Why is this happening? ‘How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like–’
They break down sobbing into Grace’s shoulder, and although it takes her a moment to adjust, her arms wrap tightly around them as she eases them down to the floor. “It’s okay. I’m here.” She takes off her cap so she can rest her cheek against the top of their head without it getting in the way. “You just… you cry it out, alright? God knows I get it.” She punctuates her statement with a loud sniffle of her own, hiding it in their hair as she presses a kiss to the crown of their head.
“Oh God, I didn’t mean to make you cry too.” Rook lets out a bitter, watery laugh, but she just tightens her hold on them, almost as a warning.
“I won’t have you sayin’ none of that, you hear me? You know I’ve needed a good cry for a while now.” Rook can feel her tears seeping into their hair. “You don’t ever need to make excuses for me. We’re together - that means we’re honest about what we’re goin’ through. So… we’re gonna cry until the hurt’s out. That seem fair?”
They can’t help but laugh again - but this time, at least there’s actual humor in it. “Okay.” They just sit there, holding each other up, lips brushing over lips, hair, and cheeks alike, as they let their resolve crumble so they can build it back up stronger. The sun sets behind them at some point, and only then does Rook sit up and dry what remains of their tears.
“You really are amazing, Grace.”
Her answering expression is completely blank - except for the smile she’s fighting to hide. “You’re lucky I love you, Dep. But… so are you.”
They suck in a shaky breath, reaching for her hand. “I… we’re gonna get Joseph, right?”
“Babe, if you don’t land the killing blow, I sure as fuck will.”