Author's Note: Phew. This is going to be a laaarge undertaking, but I'm up for the challenge!
Welcome, readers, to my first multi-chapter Good Omens story. It takes place after the events of the book, includes many of the same characters and some new, and is probably going to be long-ish. Honestly, that's about all I have to say here. So please just read, review, and enjoy! Thanks!
Disclaimer: I do not claim Good Omens as my own. It belongs to Pratchett and Gaiman.
"White always moves first in a game of chess."
1. In Which People Can't Sleep
Imagine, if you will, a quiet London street in late evening. Now add a terrified little girl and two dark men chasing her, and you will understand our opening scene.
The little girl was crying. Her dress was ripped in places, revealing bruises and smears of blood. One of her pigtails was frayed and almost out of its holder, the dark brown curls bouncing wildly across her back. She kept swiping a hand across her eyes to wipe away the tears that impeded her vision, and she was already gasping for breath and whimpering at the pain in her twisted ankle.
Up ahead she could see that one of the stores on the street was still lit despite the late hour. She increased her speed, heading for the shop, and the men behind her began to yell.
"Come on, girl, we don't mean no harm!"
"Yeah! We just need to borrow you for a while!"
The girl choked back a sob of pure panic and pumped her little legs faster. Her ankle was throbbing but she focused her entire eight-year old mind on ignoring it just to get to that brightly lit store. Something told her that if she managed to reach the shop, she would be safe. Nothing would get to her there. Everything would be better.
She approached at a sprint and slammed full-force into the door, pounding on it with her little fist.
"Help! Someone, please help me!" she screamed, beating on the door with all her might. She could still hear the men running to catch up with her, their voices getting closer, louder, angrier.
Finally, she saw a silhouette appear against the bright lights shining through the window on the door. The lock clicked and the door opened, revealing a kind-looking blond man with a stunned expression on his face. The little girl wasted no time. As soon as the door was opened wide enough for her to slip through, she entered the shop and grabbed the man tightly around the legs, burying her face into his dark trousers.
"Please help me," she sobbed, her voice muffled a bit by the fabric. A gentle hand came to rest on her head just as the two men chasing her skidded to a halt outside the shop.
"Shit," the smaller one hissed. "We can't go in there. You know who that is?"
"Nah, but you feel that?"
"Yeah, dumb ass, that's what I mean!"
"Fuck. What do we do now?"
"May I help you two?" A firm but amiable voice cut through the dark men's chatter, and the girl hugged herself closer to the source. For some reason the dark men would not enter this shop, and the little girl knew it was because of this man. He would keep her safe.
"Uh, well, you wouldn't happen to wanna give up that girl, now, would ya?" the larger man asked.
"I'm afraid not," the girl's savior said.
"Yeah, all right," the other dark man said, ignoring his companion's mumbles of annoyance. "Then we'll go for now, but we'll be back. You can't hide there forever, girly!"
The little girl shivered and clung to her savior's legs, not even daring to look back outside at the men who had tried to capture her. A moment passed during which the men could be heard arguing as they stalked off, and then the man she was holding onto closed and locked the shop door, cutting off all sound from the street.
"Now," the man said softly, prying the little girl's fingers from the back of his trousers, "who do we have here?" He crouched down in front of her and smiled. The little girl sniffled and wiped her eyes with her sleeve.
"Molly," she mumbled. The man's smile broadened and he produced a handkerchief seemingly from nowhere, taking her chin in one hand and dabbing at her tears with the other.
"Well, Molly. What are you doing out so late?" he asked.
"I ran away."
"It's not my home," the little girl said, glaring slightly but not fighting the gentle hands that were now wiping up the blood and dirt smudges from her face and hands. "It's just a foster home."
"Ah." The man stopped rubbing for a moment. "You're an orphan, then?"
There was a still silence for a moment, but then the rubbing resumed. Molly took the opportunity to look around the shop a bit.
"You sell books?" she asked, dark eyes widening at the many precariously stacked piles and overstuffed shelves spread around the store.
"Yes." The man ceased his cleaning and stuffed the handkerchief into his pocket. "Do you like to read?"
"Well, then it would seem we have something in common," the man said with a smile.
"Seems like it!" Molly said, her mood miraculously improving in that instantaneous way only children can master. "What's your name?" she asked. The man's pale eyes widened in mock horror.
"Oh, dear," he said. "How terribly rude of me! You can call me Mr. Fell."
"Thank you for saving me, Mr. Fell," Molly said, leaning forward and hugging the man tightly around the neck. He returned the hug with a little laugh.
"You're very welcome," he said. He shifted his hands to her waist and lifted her up, setting her on the counter so they could be at eye level without him having to kneel. "Now," he said, pale eyes twinkling. "Is there anyone you would like me to call?"
"No," Molly said firmly. "I ran away and I'm not going back."
"But won't your foster-parents be worried?"
"I don't think they know I'm gone yet," Molly said logically. Aziraphale cocked an eyebrow.
"But they'll have to find out eventually, right? And then what?"
"Can't I just stay with you?"
Aziraphale blinked, caught slightly off-guard. The girl was looking at him with wide brown doe eyes, so innocent, so hopeful… absolutely impossible to resist, especially for him. He opened his mouth to reply, then just sighed.
"For the night," he said, managing to at least cast a stern eye upon the little girl. "But in the morning, we talk." Molly grinned widely, sensing victory.
"Okay." She held her arms out to be lifted down from the counter and Aziraphale obliged her. As soon as she was set on her feet she reached for his hand and let him lead her into the back room. She glanced out the front window while Aziraphale flipped the shop lights off and could have sworn she saw two dark silhouettes standing across the street. Molly shivered and huddled closer to Aziraphale's legs, gripping his hand tightly.
He would keep her safe.
It was common knowledge to anyone who knew the mysterious inhabitant in apartment 13C that banging on the door in the middle of the night was a good way to get something mildly unpleasant shoved in your face. Like a middle finger. Or a gun barrel.
So it was with great trepidation that the two dark figures approached the door, knowing they would have to knock on it at some point.
"You do it," the larger one said.
"What, are you out of your bloomin' mind? I ain't touchin' that door," his smaller companion retorted.
"Well, one of us has to!"
"Can't we just wait?"
"Wait for what? For the boss to find out we failed to nab the girl, and that she's now under holy protection?"
"… Good point. But I'm still not knockin'," the smaller figure said, crossing his arms stubbornly.
"Well neither am I!"
"Don't make me pull rank on you, Foras, 'cause I will."
"How in blazes will you do that? We're at the same level."
"… Are we really?"
"I could've sworn I was above you."
"Nope. Same rank."
"Really. You ain't shittin'?"
"I wouldn't trust him," a smooth voice cut in from the direction of the now-opened door. "He's a demon. Demons lie like snakes."
"You make a good point," the smaller demon said. Then he paused, thought a little, and made significant eye contact with his companion. The fact that they were no longer alone seemed to dawn on them at the same time and they both turned back to the open door with a gasp and a bow.
"Master Crawly, sir!"
"So sorry to wake you, sir!"
"At ease, gents," Crowley drawled, leaning against the doorframe and watching the two lower ranked demons grovel. He yawned and stirred his glass of scotch absently, making the ice clink. "Is there a reason you two are hovering outside my door at two in the morning?"
"We, um, need some help."
"Mm-hm," Crowley said, sipping the scotch.
"And we knew you was stationed here, so we figured you'd help."
"So… you know… we thought we'd come see ya," the smaller demon finished lamely. Crowley raised an eyebrow. (He might have found it funny to realize that he raised his eyebrow in almost exactly the same manner as Aziraphale.)
"You do know you haven't properly asked me for anything yet," he said.
"I was gettin' to that!" the smaller demon said hurriedly.
"Well, you may want to get to it faster. I have very little patience at two in the morning."
"Peace, Crawly," called a low voice from inside Crowley's flat. Crowley was rather proud of himself for not jumping out of his skin before turning to see who had spoken.
At first glance it looked like a large dark wolf was sitting upon Crowley's sofa, but after a blink or two the image cleared into a wolfishly-grinning dark-skinned man. He spread his huge hands amiably.
"I apologize for my lackeys, dear Crawly," he said, his voice a rumbling baritone that Crowley could feel in his bones. The sound would have made his blood run cold if it had been running at all. (Just because he hadn't jumped at the newcomer did not mean he hadn't been startled enough for his heart to stop. Luckily, being what he was, heartbeats were rather unnecessary.)
"Good minions are hard to find these days, you know," the dark man continued. Crowley forced a grin.
"I can imagine," he said. "You look well, Amon. How is dukedom treating you?"
"I would say great, only at the moment I'm being forced to serve under a bleeding Earl of Hell. Can you imagine? Forty infernal legions in my command, and I still have to report to a stuffy old Earl." Amon shook his great head. "I tell ya." He got to his feet. It seemed to take forever for him to unfold. Standing, he towered over Crowley by about a foot.
"Hey, boss," the smaller demon said from behind Crowley. "We was just –"
"I know what you were 'just,' Surgat," Amon boomed, making the entire flat tremble. "You don't think I was watching? You two are an utter disgrace to demons everywhere. Be out of my sight."
He didn't have to say it twice.
"So," Crowley said awkwardly once the two lesser demons had fled. "Er. What's this all about?"
"You haven't heard?" Amon asked, fixing Crowley with an incredulous look.
"I'm afraid not."
"Well, I'll be saved." Amon settled himself on the white sofa again and gestured for Crowley to join him. Crowley, however, decided that his pride would be better served if he remained at least five feet away from the larger demon, so he politely declined. "You really haven't heard?" Crowley shook his head and, upon noticing his scotch was gone, poured himself another, then drained that one, as well. Amon appeared not to notice.
"Well," Amon began, "you, of course, know all about the Armageddon that never was, right? In the middle of the whole thing, you were. So. It's been, what, eight? Nine years, since then?"
"About," Crowley admitted.
"Right. So, the guys Down There have been getting antsy lately. Keep thinking that Heaven's up to something, what with all this damn peace and quiet. So this Earl I'm serving under – name's Raum, real creepy guy, maybe you've heard of him –" (Crowley almost choked on his fifth sequential glass of scotch but Amon remained oblivious) "– well he gets this idea to spy on a couple of angels in America, and you'll never guess what he finds out." Amon paused dramatically, dark eyes narrowed at Crowley.
"What?" Crowley rasped obligingly, eyes watering from the unpleasant sensation of almost shooting scotch out of his nose.
Amon grinned wolfishly, baring teeth that appeared too white for his dark skin, and were far too sharp to be human.
"Heaven's made a move," he said softly, his voice a deep rumble. "The game's started again, and this time we have the advantage."
"Oh," said Crowley. "That's nice."
"Nice?" Amon boomed. "It's a fair bit better than 'nice'! Don't you see? We're getting another chance to win!"
"Ah. Yes. Well, that is good news." Crowley placed his glass very deliberately on the table, avoiding meeting Amon's eyes. "And am I to be involved in this 'new game'?"
"I would assume so," Amon said, calm once again. "I mean, everyone's going to be involved eventually."
"So what did those two want from me?"
"Those idiots." Amon shook his great head. "They were supposed to kidnap a young girl here in London, but they can't even accomplish that."
"Yeah. Real important, this girl is, but Raum hasn't been telling anyone exactly why. I guess now she's under divine protection, which just complicates things."
Crowley's mouth went dry. "Divine protection, eh? Here in the city?"
"Oh yeah. I thought you'd know something about that," Amon said, narrowing his dark eyes. "You're in contact with the angel stationed here, aren't you?"
"On and off," Crowley lied. He had actually just seen Aziraphale that day for lunch and a walk in St. James' Park.
Amon grimaced, revealing those impossibly white teeth again. "Well, that's the guy who's got her. I wouldn't be surprised if Raum contacts you sometime soon just so you can get her back."
"I have to get her back?"
"Well, you know the angel, right? It should be easy." Amon stood with a grunt and held out a massive hand, which Crowley shook rather meekly. "It's been nice catching up. Hopefully I'll see you again soon, eh?"
"Yeah," Crowley said, watching as black smoke engulfed the Duke and the pungent smell of sulfur spread through the room. "Hopefully."
Anathema Pulsifer (formally Device) could not sleep.
The windows of her bedroom in Jasmine Cottage were opened to allow a gentle breeze. Her husband slept soundly beside her, breathing rather wheezily through his nose. She was not too hot, or too cold, or uncomfortable in any way.
She merely could not sleep.
It took her almost an hour to figure out what it was that was bothering her, but once it hit her, it refused to leave. It was a certain manuscript from a certain relative of hers, entitled Further Nife and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Concerning the Worlde that Is To Com: Ye Saga Continuef! It had been specially delivered to her door eight years earlier, and she had almost succeeded in keeping it out of her mind forever.
Almost being the key word in that sentence, of course.
Bugger, Anathema thought.
She sighed and rolled over so that she was facing the closet to the side of her bed. She knew the manuscript was in there, stuffed away in the chest it had come in, just waiting to be read. It was almost like she could hear it calling to her.
No. No, she had told Newt she wouldn't read it, and she would keep her word.
But… why tonight? Why hadn't she been this tempted to read it before? It had been there for years. Why taunt her now?
Anathema sighed for what felt like the eightieth time that night and turned back over, still hoping in vain for some sleep.
But if she had been reading the prophecies for the past few years, or even if she had allowed herself to open the manuscript that night instead of just turning over in an attempt to force sleep, she would have known the answers to all of her questions, and she would have been prepared.
A long way away, in a plain not known to humans and inhabited only by the very powerful and the very dead, Agnes Nutter shook her head.
This would be harder than she thought.
Adam Young (aka the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness) also couldn't sleep, but for completely different reasons.
Number One: He was nineteen.
Number Two: He had consumed copious amounts of alcohol. (But still just enough to get him buzzed. He had the liver of an ox.)
Number Three: He currently had a pretty young thing straddling him and trying to stick her tongue down his throat.
Being nineteen and home alone for the weekend definitely had its perks.
"So…" the girl panted, staring at the ceiling with half-lidded eyes as she let Adam rain kisses on her throat. "When are we… nngh… gonna take this… into the bedroom?"
"We're not," Adam said bluntly, nipping almost painfully at her jugular. The girl giggled, thinking it was foreplay.
Adam paused in his ministrations and rolled his eyes, wondering why all of his conquests turned out to be such mindless floozies.
"What's wrong?" the girl asked, draping her arms around his neck. Adam shook his head.
"Nothing. Don't worry about it." He moved in to catch the girl's lips again when…
There it was again! Adam pulled away from the girl and listened hard. It was as though something was calling to him, something that desperately needed his attention, and fast.
"What is it?" the girl asked, now positively annoyed. "It's that red-head, innit? You're feeling guilty about this!"
(Let it be noted that the girl and Adam were thinking of two separate redheads. The girl was thinking of the deadly-looking beauty in one of the photographs in Adam's room, which showed the two of them grinning and flashing ironic peace signs at the site of one of Africa's bloodiest massacres. Adam was thinking of a redhead with considerably more freckles.)
"Er… not quite," he said. "It's something else. Now hush."
The girl fisted her hands on her hips and scowled.
"What, then, is it some great Antichrist thing?"
(Adam liked to tell girls that he was the Antichrist. Many just assumed it was a joke. For others it was a huge turn-on. For the majority it just didn't matter. After all, who cared what kind of crap he spewed as long as he still looked like a blonde Adonis?)
"That's it," Adam said, shoving the girl unceremoniously off his lap and onto the floor. "I can't do this. I have to go."
"Fine," the girl snapped, gathering the few clothes she had already shed. "See if this ever happens again." And she stormed out.
"Next Friday," Adam muttered to himself, and then threw on a white t-shirt, grabbed the keys to his father's car, and headed out.*
His destination: London.
* Citizens! This author is in no way condoning drunk driving. Adam is the Antichrist, and this is a work of (fan) fiction. He will be fine. You should not attempt.
A/N: There you have it! The first chapter. Please leave some feedback - I'd love to hear what you think! Thanks, guys!