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The Next Agenda 

Donnelly sat at her bedside. She looked so pale. She almost seemed faded, like an old photo. He finished his prayer.

The reverend had been praying a lot, both with others in the renegade church and by himself. Last night he had even tried praying to Odin. Standing out in the woods in the dark, remembering the mighty, terrible figure looming over him, wounded and wise. Donnelly had just improvised something, and his whispers had sounded like wind in the trees. He had started by asking for Odin's guidance, and protection, but eventually he had started talking, thoughts streaming from him, wishes and hopes. He had described the dream he'd always had of a beautiful cathedral, its doors open and welcoming. He had begged the Allfather to lead them to a world where they were safe, where Alice was better, where she and Max were married and happy, or where Max had never come to them. 

One of his prayers, to his God, had been answered. Mayganne was back. And another of his prayers as well; she had some answers.

While the Father had tended to the dressings on the cuts and bruises on her face, she had told him about her capture by LEGACY and her rescue by the mysterious woman, Suki. 

"I think we can trust her, Mother," Donnelly said to the unconscious woman. "She seems to know a lot about Max... She wouldn't even come with Mayganne to our sanctuary, so its location wouldn't be compromised..." He sighed, and took hold of Alice's hand. It was hot. Better than cold, he figured. "Mayganne says she needs to find Max. We have his cell number. But I'm going back to the city; I need to meet her before I give her the number."

He glanced down at the satchel he had packed. He had gotten everything ready before coming to see Alice. He knew his resolve might weaken. Mayganne was already outside in the car. The handgun was in his pocket. 

"I'll be back, dear girl," he said, leaning in to kiss her forehead. Here eyelids, for now, were still. "Maybe I'll find out what's happening." And when he thought of everything that had happened - fleeing the city, learning about LEGACY, Luger being a traitor, doing the ritual with Max to kill the hit squad, meeting Odin - tears formed in his eyes. And suddenly he was thinking about everything, all the ways the world kept changing, all the faces of everyone in his church, the fear that they carried with them always, the sister he no longer had. And he was crying, leaning down, his face against Alice's shoulder, sobbing. All the words of all the sermons he had told falling like red snow through his mind, melting into nothing against the burning ache inside him.

When he finally left the room, Hank was waiting outside. 

"I'm against this,  Father," Hank said as Donnelly passed him. His voice was tense.

The reverend rounded on the younger, larger man. "I really don't give a shit what you think. You just keep everyone here safe until I get back." 

Eyes wide, Hank was silent as Father Donnelly went downstairs.