Praise this world to the Angel, not the inexpressible: you

cannot impress him with glories of feeling: in the universe,

where he feels more deeply, you are a novice.

Duino Elegies - Ninth Elegy - Rainer Maria Rilke

As Cassie stared at the baby crying on the alter, she could hear Ella softly intoning a prayer of some kind. She could also hear Azazeal saying that he loved her, loved their son, please stop this. Her mind was whirling and she didn't know what to do. Malachi was her son, part of her, and he was cold, crying, and about to meet his end. How was this going to be okay?

Suddenly, at the last moment, Cassie, moving faster then she had thought possible, reached out and snatched Malachi from under Ella's descending blade. She held him close to her and closed her eyes.

Thelma let out a shocked squeal and Ella yelled, "Cassie what are you doing?"

Cassie moved the boy back so that she could look into his eyes for a moment, then with a quick glance at Ella, she turned and walked quickly out of the church, brushing past Azazeal without acknowledging him.

Azazeal shot a glare at Ella and followed her out of the church at a distance.

Cassie did not have any thought of where she was going but she walked with purpose and trusted that she would find her way. She could feel Azazeal following her but he was not her concern.

Eventually, she found herself entering Azazeal's abandoned church and for a moment scolded herself for not walking back to the school, but she figured that all of the baby's things were here so this was probably the best choice. She walked directly to the crib and put the now sleeping Malachi down. She walked over the to couch and sat down on the edge of the cushion with her elbows resting on her knees as if she would be getting up in a minute. She was looking off in the opposite direction from the crib but she wasn't really looking at anything. Her thoughts were swirling around what she had just done. What was she going to do now? She's is student who has a baby who is responsible for the release of 200 fallen angels from the abyss and who is growing too fast for her to bring to school. The baby's father won't leave her alone and may have more in store for this child than she will stand for. What was she thinking?

She noticed Azazeal out of the counter of her eye, now, standing in the middle of the church just at the bottom of the steps up to the platform where the alter had been when this had been a real church. Then she began to realize that Malachi had been crying for a few moments now but she had not noticed. She moved her head slightly and looked at Azazeal, who looked a bit worried. He gestured towards the baby and took a step towards the crib, but paused. She waved her hand at him dismissively and resumed her former posture.

He walked over to the crib and gently picked Malachi up in his arms. Bouncing him a little, he walked in to the back and returned a few minutes later with Malachi happily sucking on a bottle of milk. He paced slowly around the room with the baby, occasionally sneaking a glace at Cassie. Eventually, Malachi was done and falling back to sleep, so Azazeal put him back in the crib and took the bottle back to its proper place. He then went to sit down behind Cassie on the couch, but he did not speak.

Cassie's mind acknowledged his presence when he sat down, but it was another few moments before she broke the silence and said:

"I want to know what will happen."

"What will happen?" he responded.

Quite suddenly she whirled around and looked him straight in the eye with a piercing glare.

"Look, I just save my son from a ritual sacrifice because he is still an innocent child, but you I don't trust for a second, I never have. I'm in this now and you will tell me what is going on or I will take Malachi as far away from you as I can get."

Azazeal's eyes flashed with shock, anger, sadness, and pain all at the same time, but Cassie could not read these in him right now through all the anger she had built up to deal with him.

"You cannot take him," he said quietly, but she heard you are not capable of taking him.

"You just watch me," she responded with a wicked glint in her eyes. She was fed up with all of this deception and all these secrets. But Azazeal looked truly lost for words so she tried to say with an even tone, "What is Malachi's destiny?"

He did not respond right away but eventually started to describe the end of days and how Malachi would take control of the school in order to gain strength to bring about the final battle. He told her how Malachi would gain control of the student's souls and finally sacrifice a pure soul to force God in to a confrontation with the angels he had thrown out of heaven.

"And what will happen to humans?" she asked, shocked that this situation was much more grave than she realized.

"I don't know," he said. She gave him a look.

"I really don't know for sure. It was never my concern."

They looked at each other and both were thinking and evaluating this new place they found themselves in. Cassie knew everything now, all of his secrets, and she didn't know whether to hate him and try to put an end to this or feel sorry for him and try to convince him to find another way.

Cassie stood and slowly walked around the room as she considered what she should do. Azazeal watched her from the couch and after a while rose to stand in front of her and stop her pacing. She stopped short of him but did not raise her eyes to his face.

"What will you do?" he asked, but she did not respond.

"You know that I love yo..," he started, but she sharply cut him off and said,

"Don't start that again!" with an exasperated look on her face.

"I don't understand," he said, hurt but almost amused because this was a typical reaction from her.

"You wouldn't would you? You think that's all it takes? All a woman needs is an "I love you" and may be a little sex and she's happy again, right? Women through the ages are essentially the same, hmm? Well, not this time."

She had gotten agitated during this speech and he reached out slowly to still her, but in her frantic state her brain flashed "threat" and she pushed against his chest and stepped back. He moved forward again undaunted and said in an irritated tone, "Why do you always push me away. You are mine."

Before she knew what she was doing, she had slapped him as hard as she could squarely across the face. His head lingered to the side for a moment before turning back to her with tears in his eyes. There was nothing left of the defenses that usually covered the windows to his soul and for the second time she saw the depth of his loneliness and humanity, but she also saw to her shock that the love that he had be professing to her all along was real. She was trapped by his gaze and stared open mouth at all that he was, but his eyes slowly closed and he sank to his knees in front of her.

Strangely it took this violent act to strip him of his arrogance, for the moment, and make him realized that it was this shield that had kept her from trusting him all this time. He waited with his head bowed, tears still gently rolling down his face, and prayed that it was not too late.

It seemed like ages that he waited but as soon as his knees had touched the ground, her hands were reaching out to him slowly and finally came to rest on either side of his head. She did not lift his head but leaned down, kissed the top of his bowed head, and ran her hands down to his shoulders. He leaned forward and began to wrap his arms around her, but she slipped through his arms down in front of him and pressed herself against him.

What were they going to do now?