Longinus must have been driving cautiously so as not to wake the baby. This paired with constant pit stops added days onto what used to be a brief detour. After driving for what seemed like a week Cain sees a familiar flash of tacky pink and blue neon lights.
Down the road is a building made of bricks being held together by magic instead of cement. There are two large ogres in the front. A church in the center of a once populated town gutted and rebranded as a home for debauchery.
“Stop the car,” Cain says to Longinus, who nods.
Longinus parks their car. Judas exits, followed by Longinus. Cain lags behind just to say, “Cover the kid. Keep the doors locked. Don’t come in.”
He stays around long enough for Mary to nod, then he climbs out of the car, locking the door behind him.
The bouncers give Cain nasty looks and shove him as he walks by. Pushing through the door Cain steps into a cornucopia of sin. Succubi and Incubi make their rounds throughout the dim packed bar. Cain observes them in quick passing glances. The way they grind on patrons, serve drinks and dress in outfits that leave very little to the imagination. He can hear the hissing and clicking of heels as the sexed-up waitresses make way for him.
Nasty looks, snide comments barely hushed, and an overwhelming sense that he’s not welcomed; this is how Cain’s ‘mark’ manifests itself. His sin stains his skin, but it’s invisible and works its way through people like a pungent aroma. At a glance, they know who he is and what he’s capable of; and that’s what makes the woman sitting in their car so fascinating.
Looking around, Cain finds Judas and Longinus up to their usual antics. Longinus is in the back, surrounded by three large figures. They’re sharing drinks and war stories. Cain shakes his head and looks over at Judas. He’s talking with a woman who’s dripping wet. Her eyes are glowing as are his. Judas is talking to that siren again, isn’t he?
Seeing as his comrades are preoccupied Cain tries to get to business as quickly as possible. He takes a seat at the bar, though this doesn’t sit well with the tentacled bartender in front of him. It’s funny, there are gremlins snorting dust, but Cain has all twelve of the bartender’s eyes locked on him. One of its large tentacles slams down in front of Cain. He can hear the suction cups snapping up as the limb eases back. It whips the long slimy appendage towards the door.
Cain decides to make himself clear. “Not here to drink. I wanna talk to-”
“Cain!” The youthful voice of the club’s eccentric owner cuts Cain off. Without turning his head, he peeks towards the voice. He sees Nephil, just as small and innocent looking as always. A Nephilim who’s the result of demons invading this world. Nephil resembles his mother with their round eyes, soft cheeks, sunflower colored hair and exaggerated simper. Nephil’s father shows in the black sclera, red irises with white pupils, jet black horns, tiny bat wings, and twitching little demon tail.
Nephil floats right up and lands on the swivel chair next to Cain. He’s wearing a tiny suit jacket, a red tie that forks at the end, and shorts that barely cover his thighs, leaving a long stretch of porcelain colored skin before reaching his knee-high black boots. After three spins, Nephil puts a gloved hand on Cain’s arm, bringing him to a sudden stop.
Nephil like Judas, Longinus or Haagenti, doesn’t appear to be affected by Cain’s curse. Over the centuries, Cain’s come to learn that there are some people in the world so used to dealing with sin that they can wear a smile even when face to face with the first murderer. That, or there’s some divine intervention, which he highly doubts in Nephil’s case.
For Cain, his mark has become an identifier for those like him or worse. So perhaps Cain’s jumping the gun by thinking of Mary the way he does, not that he thinks of her in any particular way. A sweet face, innocent eyes and a child; maybe it’s just a good cover for some beast that lays beneath? Now Cain’s having second thoughts about her. He’s angry he hadn’t suspected her sooner. Why hadn’t he tried confronting her about her weaponry, or more importantly, her son?
Longinus is right, he must be letting something about her sway his judgment. Then Cain remembers, Mary did save his life. Sure, she shot him once, but it wasn’t like once she put Haagenti down she tried to do the same to Cain...but she did see him regenerate earlier, so maybe she felt it’d be pointless and...
“To be honest, I’d thought you’d be dead by now, but I guess there can still be surprises even after the world has ended,” Nephil exclaims. “You should’ve told me you were comin’! I would’ve done somethin’ about your curse! Here, lemme hook you up with a drink.”
Nephil leans back against the bar and snaps his fingers. Cain hears the tentacles going to work and looks up to see the bartender preparing something. One of the tentacles stretches out towards him, a mug overflowing with a froth that reeks of ‘sin’ and ‘fun’. With two fingers, Cain pushes the mug away.
“Oh come on!” Nephil pouts. “This is my domain. My rules! Your sins shouldn’t be any more apparent than anyone else! In here we’re all sinners!”
A night ‘off’ isn’t going to make it any easier to shoulder his sin the next day. In fact, taking a break would just make it heavier. So he doesn’t respond.
“Fine. Be that way, geez. This is why you don’t have any friends, Cain. You’re a total buzzkill,” Nephil says all of this while extending his tail outwards towards the mug. The tentacle releases its hold on the drink and it falls into the coiled grip of Nephil’s tail. The androgynous demon child brings the drink towards his lips and begins taking little sips.
“To what do I owe the pleasure? You clearly aren’t here for a drink. I can see your buddies enjoying themselves, maybe that’s why you’re here?” Nephil cups his chin. “But you aren’t the generous type. Let me guess, you want some information? It’s gonna cost ya!”
There’s a lot of demons who frequent Nephil’s bar. So when it comes time for Cain and his team to track a target, Nephil becomes quite the resource. The higher ranking the demons they search for, the more expensive Nephil’s services become. Cain can’t hate him for it, it’s a smart way to make money, to gain power.
“I’ve been using Ichor lately,” Cain says, putting both of his hands on the bar. “You understand. No mess. But that means no orison either.”
Yeah, Cain jumped the gun. Had Haagenti died by another means there would have been orison left over.
“Mr. Cain?” Cain’s eyes widen when he hears Mary’s voice creep up on him. He throws his gaze around the room. He finds her standing in the center of the bar, holding that bundle of blankets that no doubt has Adam hidden underneath. Red has risen in her cheeks and Cain assumes it’s because of the depravity surrounding the nun.
What’s she doing out of the car? Cain told her to stay put, and worst of all, she brought Adam into this kind of place. There’s rustling around the room and Cain can already see figures starting to swarm around Mary.
Cain pushes himself up but a hand on his shoulder forces him back into his swivel seat. Nephil shakes his head.
“Just because you got your weapon past security doesn’t mean you can just whip it out.”
A thick mist washes over Mary. The smoke comes together and reveals itself as Judas, standing defensively at Mary’s side. Not too long after Longinus joins them. Cain feels the heat dispersing from his head and out throughout the rest of his body.
With a snap of Nephil’s finger and a loudly shouted, “Party’s over! She’s off limits!” The creatures shuffling around Mary walk away and return to their obscene antics.
Mary looks around then to Cain. She chuckles and he sighs, shaking his head. “Why are you here?”
“Oh! I-I had to use the bathroom. I’m really sorry, I didn’t think it was going to take you so long. I also need to...uhm...” Once more Mary glances around before looking at Cain. She leans forward and winks at him. “I need to change these blankets. Eh? Ehhh?”
Cain groans. Mary takes one more look around, and her cheeks go red again. “I had no idea you three liked these kinds of things. I guess there’s a lot we have left to learn about each other, hm, Mr. Cain?”
Cain sighs. He raises an arm and extends his finger outwards. “Bathroom’s that way. Make it quick. Scream if need me.”
Mary nods then leaves. Cain returns his attention to Nephil.
“Where were we?” Cain did take note of Nephil’s actions earlier, how he prevented the patrons from touching Mary or figuring out that Adam is with her. There’s no doubt some kind of creature in here who’d recognize the scent of a mortal.
“Hmmm, ya want more leads, but ya got no way to pay for em.” He floats upwards, crossing his legs and spinning. He stops to stare at Cain thoughtfully for a moment before snapping his fingers. “I’ll tell ya what. You can have some information if you leave that cute mama with me. Her proportions are pretty godlike, plus that innocent face should fetch a pretty penny!”
Cain feels his eye start to burn. He tenses up in his seat but knows better than to make a scene in another person’s domain.
“Wow! Your face! Calm down buddy! I was only kidding! You don’t have to worry...” Nephil says between a series of childish sounding laughs. He floats down and gets nice and close to Cain’s ear. “...your secret’s safe with me.”
Cain shrugs Nephill’s hand off of his shoulder, and watches as the boy floats down onto the bar, his legs still crossed, tail swaying around behind him.
“Alright, alright, geez. I get it. You’re sweet on her. Can’t blame ya, aren’t many innocent looking ones like her left in the world. But if you want to know where to find Haagenti, I’m gonna need something...”
“Don’t need word on Haagenti. We took care of him.” He looks up at Nephil, just to see the look on his face.
It’s as satisfying as Cain hopes. His eyes go wide, his tail straightens out and his wings go into a flutter.
“W-what!? You guys...defeated Haagenti? N-no way!” Nephil slams both hands down on the bar and lean forward towards Cain. Looks like he has the boy’s full attention, so he considers Mary and Adam safe, for the time being.
“Why else would we be here? You gave us leads on Haagenti twice already. The first time we barely made it out, did you really think he’d let us get away again?”
“Heh, you got me there. I didn’t think I’d see you again. I assumed Haagenti uprooted before you guys reached him so you came for new leads.” Cain notes Nephil was ready to pedal them false leads. Nephil lets out a soft sigh. “Though now I’m curious as to how you three managed to beat Haagenti. He’s like one of the strongest guys in the syndicate.”
“Will that information work as payment?” Cain inquires, casting a quick glance to Nephil out of the corner of his eyes. “I don’t have any orison for you now, but I’ve got a surefire method to killing strong demons. Soon I’ll go for the head. Tell me where I can find him, and it’ll be worth both of our whiles.” Cain closes his eyes. “You’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve been ‘killed’ countless times following your leads and not once has it ever gotten back to the source, right?”
“Guess I got no choice but to admit yer pretty good at what you do.” Nephil pushes his manicured nails through his wavy blonde hair. “Just remember Cain, my ass is on the line here. The leader isn’t like the others. They’re incredibly thorough. So you have to be able to kill them before they find out I have anything to do with you. Understand?”
“So you know what the death of the leader would mean for you?” Cain turns his seat so that he can give the Nephilim his full attention. “Their territory will be free for the taking.”
Cain can see Nephil falling into that deep thought again. He scratches his chin and his long pointed ears are twitching up and down.
Nephil clears his throat.
“Alright, Cain, you’ve convinced me! Though we’re going to have to create some stipulations.” Nephil raises a finger. “I’ll need your allegiance. I need to know that any and all power from those slaughtered will make its way back to me.” Cain opens his mouth to speak when Nephil’s tail extends out and presses against his lips. “Ah ah ah, I know. You guys won’t swear fealty to me. That’s why I’ll send you with some weapons that’ll sap the divinity of those you kill, kind of like Ichor. If you can agree to that much then...” Nephil offers his small hand to Cain. ” I’ll tell you where to find Astaroth.”
There’s a heavy pressure about the room. The very mention of that name makes people set down their drinks and turn. All conversation come to a halt. Cain’s eyes find Nephil’s and there’s that feeling in Cain’s stomach once again. Fear. He needs to find a way to make good use of it because it’s been making itself very apparent as of late. Slowly Cain reaches for Nephil’s hand. Briefly, he considers discussing this with his comrades because waiting to reveal that they were attacking Haagenti went over so well last time. Though the knowledge that Mary and her weapon would be there gives way to Cain’s confidence. His fingers flex in a readied grip when a shrill voice dices up the silence.
“Mr. Cain...” He looks over and finds Mary peeking around the corner that leads to the bathroom. She’s making a peculiar face, somewhere between surprise and fright. He jumps from his seat, leaving his fingers to graze against Nephil’s. “...help”
Cain’s eye begins to burn.
‘If someone did something to her or that boy I’ll..’ Cain thinks to himself, ready to draw Ichor then and there. But the time for battle doesn’t come, instead, Mary speaks again.
“There’s no soap in here.”
Cain stares at her, blinks, and falls back into his seat.
“W-what am I supposed to do? It’s...” She looks to the right, then left, then holds up a hand near her face while she whispers, “It’s unsanitary...”
Cain looks back at Nephil, quickly grips his hand, then gets up to assist Mary with her ‘problem’.
Cain dashes through fields of golden wheat. His destination is a lonely looking cottage on the side of a hill. He takes caution to step around the carcasses of animals, picked clean, leading up to the barn. Cain can’t tell if the remains are leftovers of the apocalypse or some kind of warning.
The sound of flapping wings draws Cain’s attention. He ducks down, rolling behind a rusty tractor to watch as demons descend from the twilit sky. There’s no way they hadn’t sensed him from this close-up. They don’t even bother to check the perimeter as they land. Probably a trap. Fine; he’ll take the bait.
As Cain begins scurrying from behind the downed tractor, he reaches for his eye. The rumbling of Ichor’s hunger is already throbbing in his head, but he mustn’t draw the weapon. No, he’s gotta stay on good terms with Nephil and adhere to their arrangements. Reluctantly, Cain grips a weapon strapped to his side. As he draws it he can feel how evenly weighted the weapon is, unlike Ichor. The blade of the sword has this little shimmer to it, and when Cain leans in he can see his reflection in it. The sparkling must have to do with the weapon’s enchantments. Anything killed with this blade will have its divinity sent back to Nephil.
Cain’s on his feet and moving towards the barn. Guess they weren’t going to keep up the act for too long a couple of the demons enter and another stays behind. This demon turns just in time to catch Cain sneaking up on him. Probably just a bodyguard, judging by his lack of horns. Cain’s gotten good at discerning things about the syndicate just from analyzing them. No horns indicate grunts. Then there are those with sawn-off horns. Those are people who’ve lost their seat in the syndicate.
Instead of calling for backup the demon attacks Cain. Cain bobs around the attack and impales his attacker. The sword is so light he’s through the demon and back out again just in time to catch his body and lower it to the ground. The demonic ichor dripping from Nephil’s weapon soon becomes another layer of luster, and so goes a shipment of power. The pop of gunshots rattles through the air, catching Cain’s attention.
He exhales and pinches the brim of his nose. She still isn’t using a silencer.
As expected several hornless demons emerge and surround Cain. After a quick look over Cain grunts, “Just get on with it.”
The demons spring into action. One of them strikes forward with their claws, but Cain’s too quick. Pivoting on one leg, Cain spins out of the way of the strike, then turns back and snags the demon’s forearm under his arm. He swings his blade down to lop off the demon’s arm, but it doesn’t cut all the way through and ends up getting snagged against the demon’s bone. Cain looks up at his howling opponent, then glances over his shoulder to see the other demons moving in. He’s used to Ichor going through bone like paper.
The other demons come at him with a variety of weapons, each heated to a scalding temperature.
Cain spins again, pulling the demon his sword is stuck inside of in the way of the oncoming attacks. The demon screams as the scorching pipe and hammer crash against his back. With a foot placed on the demon’s chest, Cain pushes back and rips his weapon away. Looking up, Cain can see the demon’s arm is hanging off. This isn’t going according to plan.
Cain grips his weapon tightly and shifts a foot back, ready to take off running if need be. There’s three of them not counting the demon still wailing about his arm. Cain glances between the demons and considers his options. He could run, but they’re all faster than him; perhaps he should summon ichor and fight it out. Maybe it’s best to just be a distraction until he can contact the others.
Unfortunately, Cain’s mind gets made for him.
“Fire in the hole!”
Cain groans at the sound of Longinus’ voice. All the demons turn to look in the direction of the shout. Cain doesn’t bother looking. He knows where this is going and acts accordingly. One of the demons gets a lance to the face and Cain goes to work on the other. Cain’s got his weapon snagged up against the demon’s pipe. From up this close, he can see the tiniest little horns sprouting from the demon’s temples.
Cain grunts when he feels Longinus back bump up against his own. He looks over his shoulder to see Longinus holding his lance, using it to deflect hammer strikes from the other demon.
" No, I’m Longinus!”
They both duck and manage to avoid their respective attackers.
Once up and standing again, Cain asks, “Where’s Mary?” He has to step around another demon attack and ends up at Longinus side.
“Hm, lemme check.”
Longinus reaches over and pulls a quarter out from behind Cain’s ear.
“Nope, she isn’t there.” Longinus flips the coin at the attacking demon, distracting him long enough for Longinus to spin and knock him off balance with his lance.
“Guess I’m the distraction,” Cain says slashing his weapon up at his opponent and literally disarming him, well, dis-handing him.
“Hi distraction,” In a single spin not only does Longinus get behind his opponent, but he also manages to trip him again. The demon doesn’t get up this time as Longinus immediately brings his weapon down into the demon’s skull. “I’m Longinus.”
As par for the course with Longinus, Cain groans again. Cain catches the slight nod forward from Longinus and manages to turn and thrust his weapon just in time to strike his enemy. Nephil’s thin weapon finds a home sheathed within the neck of the demon.
Longinus howls and claps about their win, but all Cain can see is a few dropped bodies but no boss demon. By now he’s either fled or knows his boys are dead and doesn’t care.
“Where’s Nephil’s weapon?”
Cain asks, noticing that Longinus used his spear to execute a demon.
Seemingly unphased by Cain’s words, Longinus shrugs. “I must’ve grabbed the wrong one.” He motions to his eyes. “I’m blind, remember?”
“Whatever.” Cain rolls his eyes. “Let’s check the barn. Can’t let Balam get away.”
Cain starts moving towards the shed but stops when he feels Longinus’ hand on his shoulder.
“How’s about Marebear? I haven’t heard any more gunshots. I feel she might need a hand.” Longinus places a hand that’s not his own on Cain’s shoulder. It’s the demon hand Cain cut off just minutes ago.
Yet again Cain groans. This time he tosses up his arms as well and ends up throwing the demon hand out into the field somewhere. Cain glares at Longinus who curls forward in laughter.
As Cain turns around he does find time to raise an eyebrow and curiously ask, “Marebear?”
After a single look around the barn’s interior, Cain grunts. “He’s gone.”
There are makeshift seats in the form of stacked hay, and a small table for playing cards. Some stray orison is scattered about the table alongside the cards, half-finished booze and lit cigars.
The gunshot or the brawl outside must’ve alerted Balam. Balam’s smart, with stories of demons losing territory to a ‘Phantom Queen’ and Cain’s own run-in with Haagenti, it’s best demons pick and choose their battles from now on.
Cain decides he’ll confiscate the orison on the table, maybe buy Mary and her baby some food so they don’t have to keep eating from cans. Just as Cain’s about to reach the table, Longinus speaks.
“Hey-” is all Cain hears as he picks up the first orison he sees. After examining it he looks to Longinus, who’s pointing. Cain tilts his head, then turns, sees nothing, then looks back at Longinus to shrug.
Longinus drives his finger forward again to emphasize the point, but Cain figures this is another one of his dumb jokes. Cain fills his pockets with the orison. After clearing the table he starts towards his comrade. Suddenly Longinus goes from being in front of Cain to his side, to behind him, as Cain goes flying from one side of the barn to the next. Cain’s careening through the air and only comes to a stop when he crashes through the wall.
A few pained groans creep out from Cain as he pushes through the debris of splintered wood and nails. He wipes sawdust from his face and glares at Longinus who peeks through the Cain shaped hole in the barn.
“Don’t tell me you didn’t see this guy.” Longinus hikes his thumb back as he speaks, pointing to the vast open space behind him.
Right, Balam must be using an invisibility to spell. Stuff like that fools Cain and Judas, but has no effect on Longinus. That’s the power of Christ’s blood. Took a man with deteriorating eyesight and gave him the power to see beyond sight.
Cain pushes off the ground and gets back to his feet so he can rejoin the battle. Despite the intensity of the situation, Cain can’t help but feel a bit embarrassed watching Longinus flip and dance around the room alone. It looks so pathetic.
Longinus holds up a hand, and Cain only sees the motion briefly before he goes flying through another wall. Alright, Cain’s up again, third time’s the charm. He rushes in, hoping to get a sneak attack. This time Cain follows Longinus line of sight, trying to swing where the man will look rather than where he’s looking. Cain slashes down but doesn’t feel his weapon connect with anything. Well, he feels like a complete idiot. Thankfully, it doesn’t last for long as he’s sent through yet another wall. Cain notices a large claw mark across his chest this time. And there goes one of his favorite shirts.
“Hey, buddy, you okay?” Longinus pops his head out of the hole and calls out to Cain. Cain’s already dusting himself off, contemplating another attack plan. He shoots a glare over at Longinus as he brushes wood shavings out of his hair.
“What?” Gripping tighter on the weapon, Cain starts towards the bar.
“You’re not really suited for...” Longinus ducks then pops back up. “...erm...invisible warfare.”
“Don’t think I can handle this?” Cain snaps as he comes to a stop.
“Now look. I didn’t say that. We’ve all got our talents.”
“You’re benching me. I can’t believe you.” Cain thrusts his thumb towards his chest. “Demon hunting is like...my thing.”
"Our thing, Cay.” Longinus whips his spear up, and Cain sees several sparks flash above him, as though something was deflected.
“I invited you!” Cain reminds Longinus, angry that he himself is forgetting the severity of their situation. However, a moment of thinking leaves Cain with raised eyebrows as he curiously repeats, “Cay?”
There’s a tug on Cain’s arm. When had Mary gotten there? She offers Cain a small golden sphere covered in white runes. Just as he’s prepared to ask about the item Mary laughs and nods towards the barn. Gripping the peculiar object, Cain sighs then charges in.
He sees Longinus making a much more obvious attack this time by tossing his lance. Longinus is too skilled to make such a risky move without hitting his mark, so Cain follows suit. With a wild whip downwards, Cain lobs the ball with such speed and accuracy he’s sure it’ll intersect with Longinus spear.
Sure as shit the objects collide and result in a small flash of white light. The sphere seemed to have exploded on contact, revealing its contents: water that somehow makes the demon visible. Just in time too, so Cain can get a look at Balam as the spear stabs into his arm. Balam is more horrible than Cain could have imagined. A large demonic beast with three gnashing heads. One head is like a bull, another a ram, and the last is a man, each has flashing flaming eyes. A serpent tail lashes around behind him. Two large hawk wings flex on his back, and his arms are like that of a bear.
He uses his massive bear claws to pull Longinus spear from his shoulder. Once uninhibited by the weapon, the creature glares at Cain with all six of his eyes. Balam bullets towards Cain at an incredible speed considering his size. Cain readies his weapon but doubts he’ll be able to do much damage in the short span of time he has to react. Even though he heals fast, that doesn’t make this part suck any less.
Cain’s eyes open to the sound of gunfire and he sees Balam freeze up before him. There’s a twitch working through each of his large limbs before finally reaching those three heads of his. Once all the flaming eyes dissipate the demon collapses. Cain turns and sees Mary, pistol extended outwards and a focused look on her face.
The hardened look fades in favor of her usual simper. Her gaze finds him and she’s giggling and tilting her head in a way that begs for approval. The look sends a shiver up Cain’s spine and flushes his face, so he turns away.
“How’d I do?”
Cain considers praising Mary when he hears Balam groaning. Cain shakes his head. “He’s alive.” He walks over and kneels down beside Balam. While examining Balam’s body he overhears Longinus and Mary laughing.
“Sharpshooting as always Marebear!”
“It was nothing!”
They high-five one another. Admittedly it’s a pretty amusing sight. As the shortest of the bunch, Mary has to hop just to reach Longinus’ hand. A subtle jiggle permeates throughout her form but she doesn’t notice.
Cain just rolls his eyes as he finishes searching Balam. From the looks of it, Mary’s little bomb contained holy water, which canceled out the invisibility spell. Since he has the time, Cain searches out the bullet wounds on Balam and finds nothing. Unlike the bullets that tore Haagenti apart, these last shots only stunned Balam.
Did Mary know the difference, or was this an accident? Had she spared Balam so they could dispatch him with the weapons from Nephil?
As nice as it would be to add invisibility to the list of tricks Ichor can do, Nephil would be pretty pissed if a big score like this didn’t make it his way.
Seeing as it’s no longer necessary to think it over, Cain stands up, draws the weapon, then plunges it down into one of Balam’s three heads; specifically the ram. As expected the creature wails and lashes on the ground best it can, but Mary’s rounds left him discombobulated.
Just as Cain’s moving onto the next one he feels someone grab his arm, stopping him. It’s Mary and she’s frowning at him. His eyes widen, and he doesn’t understand why she’s looking at him like that. Had his mark finally taken effect?
“Stop,” Mary says, her voice a touch shaky. “He’s already down.”
Cain shrugs her off and proceeds to stab Balam’s first head; the bull.
“Cain, that’s cruel! Please...” Mary grabs his arm again, but with a bit more force.
Maybe he was wrong to think she was competent. She only used the stun bullets as a means to try and spare the demon. Why the hell would she want to do that? What made this demon any different than Haagenti?
“Cruel?” Cain exhales then looks at Mary. He’s trying to look disappointed, but figures he just looks pissed. “You have no idea what these creatures have done. What they’re capable of...” With every word he speaks comes a memory of the horrible things they did to his fellow man.
“They should be turned over to the Archangels.” Mary tries arguing, which Cain doesn’t appreciate. He sees Longinus move in and put his hands on her shoulders.
“Come on Marebare,” Longinus whispers and tries to guide Mary away so Cain can deliver the finishing blow.
“The Archangels? You’re so naive.” Cain scoffs. Cain lines his weapon up with Balam’s temple. All it would take is one final thrust and that’s it. “You didn’t argue when I cleaved through Haagenti. Why now?”
Cain’s back hits the floor and he loses hold of his weapon. Mary’s tackled him and just like the day they met, she’s looming over him with those soft eyes of her’s. It’s disarming and alarming all at once, how she robs him of his strength like this. He’s pinned, but only because he wants to be.
“You were in danger.” Mary whimpers an answer. An answer Cain never expected to hear. The kind of unexpected answer that makes his blood run cold and cheeks burn up. “I hate using lethal force, but I was afraid Haggenti would hurt you so I...” Mary lowers her gaze, and Cain loses it. He tries searching it out, not wanting to miss even a moment with it. When he reunites with her gaze he’s found tears have begun to fog Mary’s vision. A droplet or two hit his face.
“Would you rather kill demons, or bring them to justice?” Mary’s words put things in perspective for Cain. Given her wardrobe and admiration of the Archangels, Mary believes in repentance. This woman wants to give them a second chance.
Her words are dumb and the fact that she’s crying right now is idiotic, and how she’s trying to pin him down is moronic and everything about her is stupid, and yet he wants to protect this kind of foolishness.
Cain knows he’s no better than the demons he kills. But that’s okay because so long as he sins, someone like Mary doesn’t have to lose her son. Just because he can’t have anything precious, doesn’t mean she shouldn’t. A twitch in his fingers comes and goes with the thought. Maybe he could touch her the way she touches him; like a person. But it all subsides when Cain decides to be effective with his words like he is with a blade.
“I want you and Adam safe. That’s all that matters right now.” Cain makes sure to look her in the eye as he speaks, wanting the truth to be passed on by his words and his sight. “If it’s to protect you, I’ll kill anyone or anything.”
They lay there in the hay and Cain finds himself counting seconds like a mortal man again. He’s waiting for anything from Mary, but she’s still just staring at him. This moment, which felt like it could last forever, ends thanks to the sound of metal piercing flesh. Cain’s gaze follows Mary’s over to Longinus who used the sword Cain dropped to finish executing Balam.
“Let’s go,” Longinus says before heading towards the barn doors.
Cain looks back at Mary, who doesn’t look at him as she stands up. Cain feels like he might have put distance between the two, but the thought isn’t long-standing, as Mary offers a hand. While her expression isn’t any less sad than before, it does seem a bit more understanding.
As their hands meet, Mary whispers something to him.
“There are other ways to protect what’s important to you.”
When they return to the car Judas is there waiting for them. He’s holding the baby at arm’s length.
“Finally! What took so long? ”
Cain didn’t miss the sound of Judas’ voice.
Mary closes the gap between the group and Judas by running right up to him, and by extension, Adam.
“Adam! My strong man! Did you miss momma? Huh? Did you?” Mary squeaks happily as she pulls the baby from Judas and starts spinning around with him. The twirl leaves the mother and son giggling.
“Yech,” Judas sighs while wiping his brow. “I don’t know how you deal with that thing. All it does is eat, shit and cry.”
Cain is quick to retort. “Sounds like you have a lot in common.”
“Hey, guys, Judas complains a lot, aren’t I clever reaching for this insanely high-hanging fruit?” Judas follows his mocking impression with a glare aimed Cain’s way “I’ll stop complaining when there stops being so much to complain about. Anyway...”
Judas slides over to Mary whose happily toying with Adam, wiggling her finger in his face “How’d your first mission go, Marebear?”
Cain pounds his head against the car door. After a groan, he mutters to himself, “Not you too.”
Just as Cain tries to enter the car, Mary stops him with a firm grip on his shoulder. There’s a readied look in her eyes, similar to when she takes aim at a target.
“Cain, when was the last time you confessed your sins? There’s probably a lot you wanna get off your chest. Let me listen. Let me help.”