Reflections on Retirement
Rating: PG-12 for creepiness and mild yaoi.
Pairing: Crowley x Pollution
Disclaimer: Non-profit fanfiction.
Notes: Dedicated to lipstickcat; a gift from a fic exchange.

There really wasn't any joy as simple as an oil slick, Pollution mused. Especially one you had not organised yourself. Bathing in the crude and listening to distressed birds as they gargled their last songs - or squawks, if you preferred - was a perfectly base sort of bliss. If he wasn't already busy elsewhere, it could probably be described as slothful.

But horsemen were not sinners. Oh, they induced sin when necessary - War loved wrath and greed, Famine loved pride and envy, Pestilence had loved sloth. Paradoxically, Death seemed to be purest. Using sin was fair enough and made a sometimes tough job ten times easier, but sinning itself was the closest a horseman could come to suicide. Pestilence had become a little too lazy in his later years and sure enough, along came penicillin. Not that dear Pasteur and Lister did nothing to help the cause - but penicillin was the proverbial nail in Pestilence's... retirement.

Thus far, lust looked like it might follow in the footsteps of its followers and be the one to nail Pollution.

He hadn't meant it to, of course - it had never interested him, and his little mind games were just meant to be that - games. Teasing. But then, that was how all these things started out, wasn't it? Teasing, the safe form of flirting. From playground to retirement home.

Lately, Pollution had been a little distracted. Not all that surprising really when the damp squib to end all damp squibs had temporarily destroyed his corporeal form. Trust humans to mess up their own end, though that Adam didn't quite qualify for the title 'human'.

But that wasn't the main distraction.

The demon and the angel. Even heaven and hell had unreliable workers; it seemed the horsemen - and one or two rare humans - were the only people who went about their work with any sort of integrity in this day and age. The two who had messed it up. The two who were responsible for the fact every human walking on earth was still alive. Heaven and Hell were too embarrassed to do anything about them, and the humans forgot after a short period of mild puzzlement.

The horsemen remembered. Death wasn't interested; he still kept himself occupied with his job, even if he was a little annoyed that his retirement had been put off. Famine had occupied himself with a few misplaced floods and draughts. And War, appropriately enough, had occupied herself with some occupations.

Pollution's job had always been a little scatterbrained per se though, so it was no real surprise that he kept reverting to thoughts of those who had further disorganised his life. Adam and his friends were unreachable to the horsemen so long as his purpose was postponed, meaning any trips down the M6 truly did last an eternity provided you were immortal, and the angel seemed to have been dragged along more than anything else.

Leaving Crowley.

Crowley. The demon who had set the humans off on their occupation of Earth by going against God's word: and who had prevented the humans leaving their occupation of Earth by doing the same.

At first, it was a simple enough matter of causing the demon some irritation. Making sure the car fumes from outside the flat managed to fill the room regardless of wind direction or quantity of fumes was the original idea, and it worked perfectly. Until Pollution decided to check that it worked.

Pollution had the ability to follow the path of any type of pollution he chose by feeling what it felt, and sure enough he could feel each object in Crowley's flat smothered in a good covering of carbon monoxide and enough other emissions to send any human running for an inhaler. Unfortunately, Crowley happened to be in the flat at the time.

It was good to know that Crowley was inhaling the fumes, but the trouble was that the fumes - and in turn Pollution - felt Crowley. And Crowley felt good.

Before long, Pollution was a touch addicted. Once the fumes had built up enough to annoy him despite the lack of needing to breathe, Crowley cursed them away; but it wasn't good enough for Pollution to wait again.

Funny, that. Being infinite but being impatient nonetheless.

Pollution had to find other methods, always temporary because despite tales of cleanliness being next to godliness, Crowley was the one who lived in pristine conditions while the angel comforted himself in layers of dust. Cigarette smoke was a favourite; seeping through the demon's shirt, and for a few moments Pollution could feel the skin beneath, rough scales and taut nipples alike. Pity about the fondness for leather pants, they were near-impossible to permeate.

And then it stopped being enough to just feel him by proxy. Pollution hunted down the demon and started toying with him; leaving streaky fingerprints on the Bentley, greasing Crowley's door handle, just little hints here and there that regardless of other events in Crowley's life, this horseman wasn't leaving.

Crowley didn't like being paranoid though, and quickly demanded a confrontation, which ended in the demon spending most of the next day vomiting even after cursing away everything Pollution forced upon him. Crowley's mouth tasted good, even from oil's point of view.

It was things like this which meant humans were developing recycling paper which didn't provide an unwanted skin peel, catalytic converters were actually being bought, and city councils were providing recycling schemes that didn't require their members to leave their homes. All in all, every second Pollution spent distracted took another year off his proposed retirement date.

He wondered who would replace him if he retired. It would have to be a P - Pestilence had come before him, after all, so it only made sense that a P should follow him. But how many abstracts began with P? War, Famine and Death all had easy jobs. Humans seemed to enjoy torturing each other. But Ps were the hard workers - humans didn't take up infecting each other deliberately on a large-scale until after Pestilence's retirement, and you got damned hippies trying to make Pollution's job harder for him all the time. He sometimes wondered if he ought to thank George Bush in some way for at least making certain he had an easy time in America.

P. Perversity? Passivity? Petulance? None of them sounded particularly devastating, and moreover they were all even more human-specific than war.

Pollution looked up at the sky, observing the next wave of feathered victims coming in for a rest on the water. He ought to have been angry with himself for his recent slips, but it wasn't really in his nature. His method of destruction was quite reliant on the sloth of others, so it was a fairly low-stress sort of work. For some reason, his calm seemed to unnerve others more than War's temper and Famine's tetchiness ever did. It didn't surprise him all that much; Death was the most laid-back of all four horsemen, and he stuck the most in people's minds.

The birds began to dive, then froze.

Something in the air had changed. Birds that had been readying themselves to land swept back up into the sky, squawked at each other, then flew off. They weren't the only ones who could sense it.

Pollution sighed and sat up, observed the land. Jesus might have been the only one to walk on water, but it didn't mean others couldn't do tricks on it.

"Crowley," Pollution breathed through a skeletal smile.

Think of the devil and he will come.

- End