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09 September 2013 @ 12:34 am
FIC: Human Nature (9/11)  
Title: Human Nature (9/11)
Author: joonscribble
Fandom: Good Omens & Sherlock (BBC)
Rating: R for language
Timeline: Set 20 years after the events of Good Omens. Set two months after "The Great Game."
Spoilers: All of Good Omens. Spoilers for only season 1 of Sherlock.
Disclaimer: See the first chapter for it.
Summary: The world was saved back in 1990. It all went downhill from there
Author's Note: There's a chance this story is either going to get extended to 11 chapters or get an epilogue after 10. I haven't quite figured it out yet because it seems to grow at random moments as I write the remaining story. I'm really trying to keep it to 10 chapters so hopefully it'll remain so with at most a short epilogue.


Something incredibly sharp and intrusive prodded at Crowley’s shoulder.

Cracking his eyes open, Crowley started at the sight of what was bearing down on him.

“Mr. Crowley?” asked the demon. It prodded him again in the chest this time when Crowley failed to reply.

“Ow! Yes.” He slapped the claw away and sat up, taking in his surroundings. Great, he was back at Home Office.

“I thought you already had your audit for this year, sir,” said the demon. “I have you ticked off right here.” It looked at something square that lit up in its talons which Crowley realized was an iPad mini. That meant it could only be one demon.

“I need to get back up top, Lynch,” said Crowley, getting to his feet. He patted himself down, relieved to see his body was still technically alive. Adam had been nice enough to just send him Downstairs rather than kill him which was something. Now would have been a seriously lousy time to have to fill out the paperwork to get a new one.

Lynch grinned his many teeth. “Of course, sir,” he said in a way that indicated he was probably going to make this as difficult as possible for Crowley. “Just after you have your meeting with Lord Beelzebub.”

“Why? How does he even know I’m-“

About fifty more teeth appeared on Lynch’s face. “He was alerted immediately when you came Down, sir,” explained Lynch. “Particularly given what’s been going on with the souls.”

Crowley took a moment to close his eyes and sigh. This was going to take awhile. At least he hoped so. Awhile was much better than never-because-of-swift-annihilation.

**

An object was falling at a very rapid pace from the sky. If it kept up its current descent, it would soon crash on the rooftop of 221 Baker Street in approximately 27 seconds. As the object was a human male of approximately 1.83 meters with low average body mass index, the roof would no doubt rather messily break his fall.

But then something odd occurred. One might say a miracle.

Firstly, the speed of descent slowed down drastically. That alone would have been cause for praise. But secondly, the roof at the last moment seemingly decided that it might be fun to be porous for a few crucial seconds. And thus it was that Sherlock Holmes, rather than ending up a jam of blood and bones on his roof, was instead deposited quite comfortably onto an armchair inside the living area of 221b Baker Street.

Most men might have passed out from the experience. Or cry out of relief and praise some sort of deity. Or at the very least sit in mute stupefaction. Sherlock was out of his seat almost the second he landed in it.

“John!” he shouted. He spun in a circle, taking in familiar mess around him. Piles of papers, stacks of books. No John. He raced to the door, intending on checking upstairs when he nearly crashed into Aziraphale who stood at the threshold.

The angel held up a very ancient looking Nokia mobile. “I’m afraid I forgot to charge it,” he said. “Could I borrow yours?”

**

Adam had shouted for the best part of three minutes and had even waved his hands for good measure. John Watson remained as he was in front of him. Finally giving up, Adam dropped his hands.

“Where did you send everyone?” John asked again.

“Home,” Adam answered, sullenly. “Where they belong. Now leave.”

“And where am I supposed to go?” demanded John. He gestured to himself. “I’m dead and I’m stuck like this.”

“That’s not my fault!”

“Yes, it is!”

“Is not!”

John nearly replied in kind but stopped himself. He was a grown man and he wasn’t about to have this sort of argument. “It’s what those two said,” he explained, trying to be patient. “Aziraphale and Crowley. They said you stopping time here caused some sort of ripple effect.”

Adam shrugged in that careless way children did. “They don’t know anything.”

“And you do?” countered John.

“I gave people what they wanted,” Adam answered, loudly. “Why do you want to die and go some place anyway? That’s what’ll happen if I let things go. Don’t you like being alive?”

“But I’m not, am I?” said John. “I’m not alive and no one can see me.”

“I can fix that,” offered Adam. He smiled. “Like I did with your friend. I’ll do it if you leave me alone. I can make everyone see you. Or just specific people if you want even.”

John frowned. “You mean like your dad? Did you do something to him to make him be able to see people like me?”

The smile dropped off Adam’s face. “Nevermind about my dad.”

“I don’t want to be a visible ghost,” said John. “I want to be alive. I want things to be like they were,” he half murmured to himself. That was all he’d wanted since this entire nightmare had begun.

“I can do that.” John stared at Adam’s perfect, beautiful face that smiled at him again, naked of any guile.

“You can bring me back to life?” asked John, incredulously.

“Well, yeah,” said Adam as if it were a stupid question. “I can stop time. I can do whatever I want. I can even change stuff so you won’t even remember any of this.”

For a fleeting second John considered it but shook off the thought. “No. No, that’s not going to work.”

“But you said that’s what you wanted.”

“It’s what I want but it’s not going to make things better.”

“Yes it will,” Adam insisted. “Look, I’ll do it now.” He tilted his head in preparation.

“No, don’t!” John rushed forward and nearly shoved his hands through Adam’s shoulders. “Don’t. Don’t do anything else.”

Adam stared at him, looking genuinely puzzled and a little bit annoyed. “You can’t even make up your mind about what it is you want,” he said. “You’ve no right to tell me what to do if you can’t even know your own mind.”

“I know exactly what I want,” said John, angrily. “But that doesn’t mean it’s what I should get. It’s not that simple.”

“It is!” Adam insisted again.

“You’re only eleven, what do you know?” John retorted, letting the absurdity of everything finally wash over him. “You’ve let 30 years of growing up skip over you! And you’re having a go at controlling the bloody world?!”

Adam narrowed his eyes at the rant. “Fine. Do what you want. You can’t do anything anyway. You’re just a useless ghost!” he shouted.

“Everything alright?” inquired a voice from behind John.

John turned to see Mr. Young standing by the French doors that led into the Youngs’ backyard. He was holding a spade and a pot plant.

“Uhm, yes,” John answered. He turned back but saw that Adam had disappeared. He swore under his breath.

“You can try the Fishers down the road,” Mr. Young offered. “They’re more the churchgoing folks. Your religious magazine subscriptions?” he added at John’s blank stare.

“Oh. Yes. Right,” said John. He looked back to the empty space where Adam had been standing. What was he going to do? The only thing he could do was talk and he could only even do that to people who could see him. And right now that number consisted of four people who weren’t there and Mr. Young. Adam was right. He was a useless ghost.

But even as John thought this, he could practically hear Sherlock’s irritated voice admonish him. He was overindulging in his emotional reaction. Why did John insist on letting things like despair and sadness overcrowd his brain? He should refocus his attention on important matters.

“Observe. Ask questions. Make deductions. Stop being useless.”

“Gather data…” John murmured to himself.

“I beg your pardon?” inquired Mr. Young.

Turning back to him, John gave his best benign smile. He reached into his jacket pocket and felt the familiar pad of paper and pencil he had always carried around with him even on the day he had been struck by that cab.

“Actually, Mr. Young,” said John. “There’s been a bit of a misunderstanding. I’m not here for magazine subscriptions.”

“Oh, yes?”

“I’m here to conduct your census interview.”

At those words Mr. Young’s eyes practically lit up.

**

“The number you have dialed is not available. If you feel you have received this message in error, please check the number and dial again.”

Aziraphale had followed the nice sounding woman’s instructions four times without much of a result. He feared what this meant for Crowley who never turned his mobile off since getting one.

Behind him Sherlock was pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace, his feet trampling over discarded papers and envelopes.

“This is impossible,” the detective muttered. “This is impossible. Impossible!”

“Please, Mr. Holmes, calm down,” Aziraphale attempted to placate. “I understand the thought can be overwhelming. Particularly to someone who lives a life of logic above all else.”

“This goes against every single scientific fact!”

“Well, that is overstating the matter a little,” said Aziraphale. “In actuality, many scientific mysteries are linked to a miracle-“

“Evolution!”

“Can exist side by side with religion,” Aziraphale insisted.

“Are you saying that with the evidence of angels and demons and a single deity that Christianity is the only religion?” Sherlock barreled on. “It isn’t even that old. Hinduism has roots that are more ancient. Norse gods! Greek gods! All of those were wrong?”

“N-no, of course not,” Aziraphale attempted to interject against the flood of questions.

“That’s impossible! Not all religions can exist simultaneously!”

“Erhm, well, the simplest way to explain it is that the religion that applies to you is the one you believe in-“

“And what about atheists? Agnostics? When you convert?” Sherlock demanded.

“Yes, well, one’s actions do not always indicate one’s true beliefs. Deep down inside,” Aziraphale tried desperately. “Even atheists who claim to hold no beliefs in a higher order, do in fact hold some faith-“

“I don’t have faith in a higher order,” said Sherlock, flatly. “I never did.”

“But you must now, surely. You taking on this case, Doctor Watson being the first human whose soul did not move on, us finding you, it’s all connected,” Aziraphale stated. “It’s all part of some ineffable plan. We were all meant to be here right now in order to save humanity. You must have faith in a being greater than yourself guiding you.”

“I believe in what I see,” said Sherlock, savagely. “I believe what my eyes take in and what my mind can deduce. You are telling me I have evidence of a higher intelligent design. It then becomes fact. That is not faith. Once faith becomes fact it negates itself and your religion can no longer exist upon the principles of blind belief of a deity it was founded on.”

While it was probably the first time Aziraphale wasn’t keen on having a philosophical debate, he still admired the zeal of Sherlock’s arguments. “For an atheist, Mr. Holmes, you are surprisingly very talented in discussing the finer points of religious doctrine.”

“And for an angel you’re surprisingly bad at defending your theology. Christianity is supposed to be one of the strictest religions, particularly Catholicism.”

“We do have a perhaps unfair reputation of being a bit overly close-minded-“

“The Old Testament was a bit overly close-minded?”

“I thought you deleted useless information?” Aziraphale demanded, flustered.

“Knowing whatever deluded principles people choose to believe in is not always useless,” said Sherlock. “And you haven’t answered my question.”

Aziraphale tried to think back to the multitudes that had been leveled toward him. “Errr…which one?”

At that moment the door to the living area swung open to reveal Crowley who was waving away a bit of smoke from his face. “Oh, good,” he said. “You’re all here. Well, almost,” he added, noting John was absent.

“Crowley! Where have you been?” Aziraphale asked in relief.

The demon looked fairly miserable. “That’s a story. I’ll tell you on the drive back to Lower Tadfield.”

“Lower Tadfield? We’re going back? Wouldn’t Adam just expel us all again?”

Crowley grimaced. “He’s about to have a lot more problems on his hands than just us.”

**

It was clear from the way Mr. Young answered all his questions that he was one of those citizens who took great pride in being part of something as massively organizing as the national census. But what was also disturbingly apparent was that Mr. Young couldn’t really give a definitive answer about anything.

He very happily gave his age as “around 40s” and having been married for “a long while.” He could, however, give a practical catalogue of why living in Lower Tadfield was wonderful.

“And when was the last time you left Lower Tadfield, Mr. Young?” asked John.

“Oh, I travel to London every Monday for work.”

“So you went yesterday?”

“…Yes.” Mr. Young didn’t so much frown as go a little blank.

“And what did you do at work yesterday?”

“…I…I had a meeting. In Dorset. Yes, yes, that’s it,” Mr. Young recalled. “I had to take a train there and walk from the station. The firm’s office was a few streets away.” Mr. Young trailed off, his gaze dropping down as he fiddled with his unlit pipe.

“Did something happen?” John asked.

“You know, I can’t remember,” answered Mr. Young. He looked more worried about that than the fact he hadn’t been able to give John a definite answer about his age. “I got off the train and remember walking to the office. It was raining that day. I remember thinking it always seemed to rain whenever I left home…”

“Mr. Young?”

“Hm? Oh, yes, sorry. You were saying?”

A familiar tension shot through John’s back. Like the time he’d rightfully diagnosed his first long term patient with atypical MS and when he’d realized where Andrew West had been killed. “What about last Monday?” John said.

“Last Monday?” asked Mr. Young.

“Yes, last Monday. When you went to London then. What did you do at work?”

“Last Monday…” Mr. Young thought in it. “I…must have…gone to Dorset. For my meeting,” he replied. “Yes, I remember. I went to Dorset. I had a meeting. I took the train and had to walk from there to the office. It was raining. It always seems to rain whenever I leave home.”

**

“Do you think if I ate this caterpillar I would die?” asked Brian. He held up the insect in question.

“That’s gross,” stated Wensleydale.

“I’ll give you a fiver if you do, though,” Pepper challenged brightly, which for whatever reason seem to make Wensleydale deflate a little.

Before the challenge could be accepted, Adam plucked the furry creature from Brian’s fingers. “Hey!” Brian protested.

“Leave it alone,” Adam said. He placed the caterpillar gently by the roots of the tree where they were all lounging. It slowly began to crawl away.

“I’m bored,” Pepper announced. “Adam, what should we do?”

It was always the same problem with Them. Adam was getting a little tired of it but he set his mind to thinking of something. It helped him ignore for the moment the problem of the man at his house, John Watson. He was being stubborn but Adam decided that it was best to leave him alone for now. John Watson might be stubborn but he was a grown up and grown ups tended to give up on things if you gave them enough time. He’d either come around soon or just leave on his own. Adam would just wait.

In the meantime, he could come up with a game for him and his friends to play.

“Cowboys versus aliens?” he suggested.

“Oooh! Yeah!” Brian whooped. “I get to be aliens this time! We can use Pepper’s granddad’s wheelchair as the ship!”

“And our bikes for horses!” Wensleydale chimed in.

While his friends excitedly planned, Adam smiled to himself. Things would be fine.

“Adam Young?”

Startled, Adam looked up from the grass to see a middle aged looking stranger standing over him. But he didn’t seem right. “You’re Adam Young,” said the man. “They told me what you looked like.”

“What do you want?” asked Adam.

“It’s ‘cause of you I’m dead. They told me to come here and tell you what for. Who do you think you are?”

Adam got to his feet as he realized it was another soul. “Go away. You don’t know what you’re saying.”

“Adam?” asked Pepper. “Who’re you talking to?”

“Don’t tell me what I know or don’t know,” snapped the man. “It’s ‘cause of you I’m like this. Not moving on and no one being able to see me. I’ve been like this days and it’s all down to you! That’s what they told me! Take your complaints to Adam Young of Lower Tadfield!”

The man was now shouting at full volume but only Adam could hear. It was unnerving how he screamed and screamed and no matter how much Adam wished it, he wouldn’t stop.

“Don’t you ignore me, you little shit!” he continued to scream when Adam attempted to follow whatever it was Brian was saying about how to dress like an alien.

“I have to go home now!” Adam told his friends, practically yelling over the man. His friends stared at him.

“Why?” asked Wensleydale. “We were just starting.”

Without waiting for a response, Adam raced back toward the village while the man shouted after him, drowning out whatever his friends were saying.

Several yards away from the direction of the town’s border, two more figures separately caught the small blond figure running away and began to follow.

**

“It’s all His idea,” Crowley said, darkly. Spotting the familiar roadblocks, he didn’t bother with ceremony and blasted them out of the way as the Bentley zoomed through. “The Apocalypse didn’t happen the first time so he’s got his fingers crossed now he’s going to get Junior to do now what he didn’t do then. He’s marshaled every available demon out there sending souls to Lower Tadfield with Adam Young’s name and address.”

“But isn’t this a good thing?” Aziraphale asked. “Once Adam sees how many people have been affected, perhaps he’ll set everything back to normal.”

“We’re not talking tearful grannies here,” said Crowley. “Every mean spirited bastard and/or soul driven crazy with the waiting is being rounded up. It’s a full on haunting of how ugly humans can get when they’re left waiting in the queue too long. After experiencing that lot, Adam’s going to want to level this planet and start again like he was told to do the first time.”

“So what’s the plan?” asked Sherlock, sounding genuinely curious.

“No clue.”

“So we’re just driving then.”

“For now, yes.”

“To warn the Anti-Christ about a haunting?”

“Look, I let you in this car again as a favor,” Crowley snapped. “If the world’s going to end don’t you at least want go out with Watson at your side?” he added.

NEXT
 
 
 
The Writer They Call Tayawanderingbard on September 9th, 2013 05:27 am (UTC)
I was just on my way to bed when I saw this and went \o/, but forgive me if my comment isn't as coherent as it should be.

Once again, a really lovely chapter. I loved Sherlock and Aziraphale's philosophical debate--very in character for Sherlock, as we know he has the soul of a philosopher. I also love the metal image of Sherlock falling through the roof of Baker Street. I have a movie with the most expensive special effects in my head.

And John and Adam's conversation is great, too. I love that John rejects the option of going back and forgetting, because of course he does, and I love Adam's 11-year old view of the world. Mr Young is also quite adorable, but I sense something bad is going to and/or has happened to him.

And oh noes for the the Apocolypse! Let's hope our heroes avert it.

Quick Brit pick: potted plant should be pot plant.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on September 9th, 2013 09:01 pm (UTC)
I also love the metal image of Sherlock falling through the roof of Baker Street. I have a movie with the most expensive special effects in my head.

That's the beauty of writing fic. You can make it as expensive as you want.

Mr Young is also quite adorable

The theater of my mind has cast Rory Kinnear as Mr. Young. He's around the right age and looks mostly non-descript enough that he fits. He's been waiting over a year to show up as I cast Kinnear in the role when I first started writing this thing.

Quick Brit pick: potted plant should be pot plant.

Thank you! Edited!
aelfgyfu_mead: Watson plotaelfgyfu_mead on September 10th, 2013 02:22 am (UTC)
I love the demon with the iPad mini!

The souls are going to be a very big problem for Adam very quickly, aren't they? I was relieved at first, but then I saw what Crowley thought, and of course Crowley is right, and Aziraphale is too optimistic.

And John asks questions and takes his notes even when dead. Love it.
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on September 10th, 2013 02:38 am (UTC)
I love the demon with the iPad mini!

One day I'm going to have to use Lynch in another GO story. He's a fun OC I'd like to revisit.

The souls are going to be a very big problem for Adam very quickly, aren't they?

In a word: yes.

But humans are surprising Crowley and Aziraphale all the time.