Hailstones clatter against the cobblestone streets outside the church, the sound much too reminiscent of a string of prayer beads, broken and scattered across a factory room floor.
This was the first warm meal they'd had in days, but as the words of the priest continued to wash over the impromptu congregation of the city's destitute, Oliver couldn't help but wonder if being here was even worth it. Tall tales of brimstone and fire, of unsubtle accusations of personal failures... He needed no more proof that nothing in life was ever free; tonight he would trade guilt and hours soothing siblings' nightmares for soup and bread, his barely full stomach churning from memories he'd rather forget.
The snap of string. Arms outstretched on instinct to prevent a fall. A cacophony of metal and bone and wood beads clattering to the ground. A blood-soaked wooden cross clutched weakly in mangled hands that were far too small.
The desperate pleas of a pain-addled mind might have well have been in a foreign language for all that he could understand it. He could offer only soothing hushes and gentle reassurance that everything would be alright, that God would understand you didn't mean to break it, that of course you'd still go to heaven, a stream of pretty lies that Oliver barely understood, let alone knew how to believe in.
God wasn't real. If He was, He'd be a monster more terrifying than anything he had ever known.
At home, they joke about the sermon they'd heard, outwardly dismissing it all as mortal nonsense even as seeds of unease lie in wait for them to fall asleep. When screams wake him, Oliver draws his siblings close and tells them the truth as he knows it, of The Cycle and their ancestors and every bit of Garou knowledge he can recall at such an obscene hour of the night.
As he watches his family slowly sink into more pleasant dreams, he knows one thing for certain: He needs no God nor afterlife. For now, he has a whole life to give to the ones he loves, and one day, his time would end, and another's would begin; that's the only faith he needs.
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