Chapter 17: The Test
Michael pulled his aching legs up the stairs towards Cayne’s door in the hope that when Daniel fled Ben’s, he had ended up here. Breathing heavily as he reached the door, he swore he was going to cut down on the smoking. It wasn’t doing him much good, but he knew it was an empty threat.
Ben proceeded to warn him after Daniel left and though he knew Daniel would not intentionally hurt Cayne, something in what Ben said struck home. He had not really seen it before, but now he thought about it there were signs. A look here and there without actually looking each other in the eye. There was a definite chemistry between both. While in the same room the atmosphere changed with them, and he made a note to watch more closely, but right now he needed to find Daniel.
Michael had known Daniel a long time and though he was awkward around people, in reality he was quite capable of hiding behind a confident persona. However, with Cayne, he had begun to see a young man starting to be stripped away. A man that had built so many walls around him that Michael was frightened of what may lie behind them. Ben did have a point. Daniel was a runner not a fighter and that was a worry. How far would Daniel truly go to remain within his comfort zone?
Lifting his hand, he knocked and listened as the noise resounded. There was no answer and believing the flat to be empty he turned to walk away. Then he heard it and turned in surprise to find the door slowly opening. Pushing it slowly, he stepped over the threshold to a blast of cold air. Books and magazines were strewn everywhere and a suitcase laid open with clothes hanging out was on the floor beside the door.
He moved slowly further into the flat making sure not trip on the debris. The room felt oppressive and dark even though the sun shone through the windows. He'd never really felt fear before. Not true fear, but right now it was creeping up his spine like fingers. From behind, he heard someone moving and turned to see Cayne coming from her room. Her hands and face was covered with blood and her eyes had changed to a darker shade of her usual brown. Almost a black. The white pullover and dark jeans worn were drenched and the sight pulled at Michael's stomach.
‘Tell me Father, when were you planning on informing me you were going to have me killed?’
'How do you...?' he asked.
'Never mind how I know,' she snapped.
‘Cayne, please, why don’t we sit down and talk about it?’ Michael tried to reason.
As she moved further into the room, it dawned on him that he was not talking to Cayne, whatever it was used her voice and body and this may be the one chance for him to find what it wanted.
‘Did you enjoy my little seduction trick, Father? I must say it is the oldest trick in the book and it tickles me every time I do it. The supposed men of God being tempted by the evil woman. You people are so scared of your female species.’
Michael watched as she started to circle him as though he was her prey, but was determined not to show fear to her intimidation. It was the first rule when dealing with things that were otherworldly, no matter what he felt. A fear of being out his depth. That no matter what faith he held in his heart, it would not help him. All he had was the only gift given to him. The ability to worm his way out of any situation using his tongue.
‘I’m far from being scared of women. I actually quite like them. It’s just unfortunate that the job description demands celibacy. As for the seduction, I hardly remember a thing so you can’t have been that good.’
He saw Cayne’s face darken slightly. His comment stung, but then just as quickly a smile emerged.
‘Would you mind me asking who or what you are?’
‘For a man of God, I am surprised you need to ask.’
‘So I am speaking to a god?’ Michael asked.
Cayne’s eyebrows rose in surprise and he suppressed the need to smile.
‘You surprise me. Your first presumption is that I am a god.’
‘You expected me to say you were demon?’ Michael asked. ‘I’m not naive enough to believe that there is only one god, just because it is what I believe. Just tell me where Cayne is, if you can.’
Cayne tapped her chest. ‘She is in here.’
‘Inside with you?’ Michael frowned.
Cayne sighed deeply as though something saddened her. ‘It’s not easy being divine, knowing constantly that every so many thousands of your years I have to become human in order to... how would you put it... save your sorry arses. You see Father, Cayne is I, just as I am Cayne.’
Sympathy filled him as her voice held a much softer tone. Whatever held Cayne obviously felt that it was bound within the destiny of others and was tired. Not that he could blame it. Humans were the most ungrateful beings on earth and if it was him, he doubted he would be that impressed either.
‘Why do you make her suffer? And why the wounds of Jesus?’ he asked.
Cayne had now stopped circling and went to the window where she gazed out for a moment before answering.
‘We must remember who we are. The one you called Jesus needed to suffer in order to remember also.’
‘And the Anti-Christ?’
Cayne turned from the window and started to roar with laughter and Michael struggled to maintain his composure. Her reaction was making him nervous and there was no hint of an aroma he couldn't place, but it made him feel nauseous. He just needed to hold his nerve for however long this calm would last for.
‘Well that’s for you to decide. Am I telling the truth or am I really from the pits of hell just to torment you for my own amusement?’
‘I was told that the devil was not interested in humans,’ Michael said.
‘The priest is just a man and has little idea the truth of things. You people take too much stock in the written word and now wonder at the mess you are in.’
From his neck, Michael pulled his crucifix and held it out between them. He had no idea what he wanted from her, but it seemed the most natural thing to use. Just to see what would happen.
‘Then, prove it.’
Before he realised what was happening, her hands were around his throat. The speed of her movement stunned him and he struggled to fight back. Her grip was immense and he could feel her fingers digging into his flesh. There was pure fury in her eyes as she bared her teeth at him like an animal. Then, he felt his body being lifted and then thrown through the open bedroom door before crashing onto Cayne’s bed, but before he could get himself together she was on top of him, punching and scratching.
‘Cayne, are you here?’
Relief flooded his body, despite the pain being inflicted.
‘Daniel, help me.’
Daniel ran into the bedroom and was faced with Michael with Cayne on top of him in a frenzy. For a moment he froze, before he grabbed hold of her and with the now free Michael pinned her to the bed. Obscenities flew from her mouth as she struggled to free herself from their hold.
‘What should we do?’ Daniel panted.
‘Pray it passes,’ Michael replied.
‘And what if...?’
There was no need for Daniel to finish, as suddenly Cayne’s body stilled and collapsed beneath their hold. With her eyes closed, both men breathed a sigh of relief. Then just as suddenly, a piercing scream rang out through the room. Cayne shot up with fear in her face and Daniel caught her in his arms. Her body shook with tears and Daniel held her tightly to him. Michael watched as Daniel comforted her. Getting up, his legs shaking managed to walk from the room.
Once alone, Michael was able to gather his thoughts. He’d just been tested and by whom he had no idea. Throughout Jesus’ teenage years, it was said that he was brutally tested by both demonic and divine forces and this allowed him to open himself to his own divinity. Now it seemed Cayne was dealing with her own test and he wondered whether like Jesus, hers had started in her teens.
Deciding what he needed was a cigarette, he opened the window and swung his legs so he sat on the window ledge. He lit up and closed his eyes as the nicotine worked its magic. Down in the streets below, he could make out people going about their daily business. A young mother struggled with a pushchair laden with plastic bags. The child inside countering the weight. As she pushed with one hand, she wrestled with another child in the other. Her hair and coat was damp from the rain and for a moment she stopped and lifted her face up the heavens and closed her eyes, before continuing on her way.
The moment was so brief, but Michael caught it and wondered to whom she had prayed to. He had seen her lips move. She had spoken words of help, but where had those words gone. Michael had always prayed blindly and it was only now he wondered. Was there actually anyone up there listening? Especially, as according to the Church, God was in Rome or according to Ben, God was in the arms of his friend and colleague. He’d never felt so confused then he did now. All he wanted were straight answers and for the smallest moment he wondered if it were best she was taken to Rome. At least there he would be with both Cayne and Joshua and maybe something would come to light once the two pieces were placed together.
‘I’m sorry,’ Cayne sobbed.
Daniel let her go and shifted so he now sat on the edge of the bed while Cayne sat hugging her knees. When she had been in his arms, he felt such a connection with her and the warmth of her body stirred him in a way never felt before. In that moment, the last thing he wanted was to let her go. He was falling in love. He knew that now and had no idea how to stop the whirlwind of emotions, but there was also the feeling of guilt. He was here to help her not to complicate matters. Her care could be his only priority.
‘Don’t be sorry,’ he answered. ‘We are just worried about you and why all this is happening.’
Cayne began to cry again and Daniel reached out for her hand to offer her comfort.
‘But we know someone who may be able to help.’
Cayne uncurled her body and slowly moved closer to where Daniel sat and he felt his breath catch in his throat.
‘I never meant to hurt you,’ she whispered.
His insides quivered as her fingers stroked the day old bruises on his face and he swore that the ache he felt there was now subsiding, as fingers touched skin. He reached for her hand and his lips touched it lightly. He heard her breath start to tremble, mirroring his own. He had no idea what he was doing. His conscious was screaming for him to stop, but his heart contradicted and wished that Michael was not in the other room.
Her perfume was musky and wooden, almost like incense used on church high days. He closed his eyes and tried to breathe in her essence so he would not forget. The skin of her hands was soft on his lips and their touch sent ripples through his body. He could taste the fruity handwash that he knew sat in her bathroom. It seemed all senses were being heightened by their contact.
Slowly, Cayne moved her hand away unsure of what to make of his reaction. Even though her head had been filled with such scenarios, in reality she never thought it would happen and now she was fighting the urge to kiss him. In only a few days she had gone from disliking to wanting him. Was she really that fickle with her emotions? In her mind, Karl had been her true love, but here and now she was not sure.
‘Daniel, I ...’
Michael stopped talking as he sensed the pent-up atmosphere within the room. Daniel’s flushed face told him that something had happened and he'd walked in just in the time.
‘We need to talk,’ he finished.
‘Okay,’ Daniel replied, as he awkwardly moved from Cayne’s bed.
‘Wait!’ Cayne cried, stumbling from her bed. ‘There was a man who told me that you were going to have me killed in Rome and he could protect me. Is he right? Is that what will happen when you take me to Rome?’
Daniel glanced at Michael whose jaw seemed to tense. ‘Daniel, make us some tea, and Cayne, let’s tell you everything.’
The LCD on the clock seemed to mock Cayne with its unwillingness to quicken time. It seemed she had laid there for hours trying to sleep. From the room next door, she could hear the heavy breathing of Michael who had taken Mary’s bed.
She’d sat there while they told her a priest called Ben had informed them that she and Joshua were blood descendants of Jesus and that was the reason for the Church’s interest. They reassured her that no one wanted her dead and that they were both too important for something bad to happen to them. Daniel then talked for the first time about Joshua, and told her that as far as he was concerned he was a normal young man, who had a big heart.
This was the reason for her insomnia. To find out that she had Jesus’ blood inside her blew her mind. She was just some girl that lived in the back streets of London. How could she be someone so special? She looked at the clock once more and sighing, threw the duvet off and got out of bed. Opening her door, she looked into the darkness of the room where she could just see Daniel laid upon the sofa. His slow rhythmic breathing told that he was asleep. Slowly, she crept towards the kitchen, but was stopped by his murmuring. Obviously still dreaming he seemed to be begging for someone to stay. He didn’t want to be left and asked if there was another way. As she got closer she could see in the moonlight that his face was wet with tears. Reaching out, she touched his face causing him to jerk awake and grab her hand.
‘What are you doing?’ he mumbled gruffly.
‘You were talking in your sleep,’ she whispered as she took back her hand. ‘I have sad dreams too.’
Daniel straightened himself and ran his hands over his face to dry away the tears. ‘I don’t even remember what I was dreaming about,’ he lied.
Getting to his feet, he made his way towards the kitchen and filled himself a glass of water. He turned to see that she had followed him and for some reason felt annoyed at her. It was almost as though he could smell her neediness and it was suffocating him. Earlier that day, he had wanted to touch and kiss her, but now he felt annoyance.
The dream had woken him in a foul mood, but it was more than that. It was as though he was being pulled in various directions and had no idea where he was supposed to be. He did not want to hurt her feelings, but if he barely understood it himself then how on earth would he be able to explain it to her. All he knew was at that moment he wanted and needed space. Just long enough for him to get his head round everything that was occurring around him.
‘Maybe you should go back to bed. Tomorrow is going to be a stressful day for you.’
Cayne felt her insides jump at his abruptness. She tried to catch his eye, but he would not look at her. Only earlier, he had kissed her hand and now he could not get far enough away from her. Her first reaction was to call him an arse, but then what would that achieve. She would still hurt.
‘Goodnight then,’ she answered and she turned back towards her bedroom and closed the door.
Left alone, Daniel hung his head in frustration. He had no idea why he was being so cold towards her. His stomach felt tight and sick and her presence seemed to make him feel worse. Then there were the dreams, they were now becoming more frequent and vivid and he had no idea what they meant. He knew he was falling in love with Cayne, but he did not have the strength nor the inclination to take it any further. He just wanted his life back and there was only one way he could do that. There was no way he could be near her when there was no way of being with her.
Cayne threw herself under her duvet and buried her face in the pillow. She had promised herself she would not cry and now she was fighting tears. He wasn’t worth it. No man was worth it and she had bigger problems to deal with then someone who could not handle the pressure. No, she had got this far on her own... but that was the problem she did not want to be on her own. She had fallen head over heels and not realised she had done it.