Summary: The Doctor faces another End of the World, this time with two almost competent companions – an angel and a demon.
Disclaimer: I own neither Doctor Who nor Good Omens. I make no money from this literary venture.
Warnings: shameless social satire
A/N: So, after years and years of worshipping at the individual literary altars of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, I finally got around to reading Good Omens. It wasn't… say… downright disappointing. Or, not much. It's just, you should read the book before you get to something really awestriking (like the later Discworld books or American Gods) because otherwise it's really all very transparent and you catch yourself sighing and wishing that the flat humour would just give way to something as inspired as you're wont to expect from this author duo.
The sad Truth is that, in light of Discworld and the Sandman and American Gods, Good Omens is really obsolete.
And yes, I should probably commit ritual suicide and put pieces of my repentant corpse at the respective altars, begging for forgiveness… it's just how I feel.
Sorry. Reviews always appreciated, even if you hate on me for the blasphemy. I fully admit I was not entirely sober throughout writing any part of this story.
PS: Somewhere around the two thirds of the book, where an actually gripping bit had just ended, I had a sudden vision of the Doctor popping around and adding a bit of life to the narrative. Hence, this little future-fic.
"Gosh," Aziraphale said, and continued as pastel-colourfully as only an angel could: "Oh my, goodness, me. Darn. Well, would you look at that!"
Crowley gave him a look. At least, Aziraphale assumed that Crowley gave him a look – it was none too easy to say, what with the sunglasses. Although, if Aziraphale were to assume (and he so disliked to assume) he would have assumed that Crowley's look was supposed to convey something along the lines of 'that non-statement made me doubt your sexlessness-implied asexuality.
Aziraphale knew that when he got slightly disconcerted, he sounded like… what was that word… a fruitcake. That begged the question 'what does a fruitcake sound like?' and Aziraphale had attempted to find this out on many a Christmas (just out of curiosity, you understand) and he had yet to discover anything except some understated sizzling or, on one more memorable occasion, quiet effervescing.
"Does the Earth as such give out green cards?" Crowley asked – rhetorically, as far as Aziraphale could determine. "Because I'm this close-" He lifted his hand, with forefinger and thumb indicating the distance of less than quarter of an inch. "-to requesting humanisation."
This was somewhat upsetting to the angel. He sniffed. Seeing as he had spent the last six thousand (and some change) years in more or less constant conflict with his companion, until they had become the very definition of the modern term 'frenemies,' he didn't at all enjoy imagining as Crowley withered away to an old man and eventually died. The very idea brought him close to tears.
Fortunately, they were distracted from their trial (it was in his nature to assume that every displeasing event was a way of Him testing Aziraphale and his belief and his piety and somesuch) by the loud, conspicuous, and suspiciously-timed arrival of a police box that seemed to be about fifty years out of its place. Its time. Its coordinates in time space. Aziraphale was way too accustomed to thinking in four dimensions to feel comfortable when faced with the ten that had allegedly been around when life was created. He didn't understand the need for the further six, but he was ever-ready to proclaim it simply ineffable.
Crowley liked to point out that, in the same way as people used their belief in the Church to justify everything, Aziraphale used the word 'ineffable.'
Aziraphale maintained that it was a good word. A nice one. In both the meanings.
"That's not in the Book," Aziraphale pointed out, squinting over the top of his reading glasses at the suddenly present police box. "Times like this, I wish Miss Device had let me buy Agnes Nutter's second book off of her before she burned it up."
"Yesss…" Crowley hissed, which was a good indication of how disconcerted he was. "Not like the Book isss much good now. Your ssside needsss to hire a new writer and get a new ssstory into sssirculation. Otherwissse thingsss like thisss happen: sssuddenly, out of nowhere, there'sss an Apocalypssse. And a polissse box. It'sss admirably unfair, I give you that."
Aziraphale sighed, very softly, loathe to spread his vexation to the rest of the world.
They had already averted one Apocalypse – even though, admittedly, by sheer dumb luck – and he thought they might have a couple of centuries to take a breather. No. That would have been much too considerate of the forces of evil, and the proverbial Black King on the Lord's Chessboard had chosen to send forth yet another of his spawn fated (or, rather, destinied, but Aziraphale was mildly offended by the incorrect grammar) to bring about the end of the world.
By this time, the front door of the police box they had both been none too covertly observing was opened from the inside, and a creature with the appearance of a young ban in a fancy pinstriped business suit, sporting a rather extreme hair-do, peered out.
"Do you think he is a criminal?" Aziraphale inquired, as he believed, quite pertinently.
Crowley responded with a smirk that was, in fact, a muted grin, and said: "I don't think what I know."
Aziraphale did his best to not let this implied knowledge prejudice his first sight of this new-comer. There were, after all, all kinds of criminals. Someone who did not pick up after their dog was technically a criminal. Or someone who drove their car without all the right papers. Or… or… (he floundered) someone who took their kids to Disneyland when the judge gave the custody to the other parent. Yes.
It would be so much like Crowley to give Aziraphale the wrong idea. It was the particular sense of humour.
"What is going on here?" inquired the spastic man-shaped creature in a pinstripe suit and sporting extreme hair.
Aziraphale checked its aura. The readings were… confusing.
Crowley met Aziraphale's eye and minutely shook his head. Not one of the Hell's either, then. Someone from outside either of their jurisdiction, which basically amounted to… alien. As in, off-planet. Extraterrestrial. The big (or, as it happened, the human-sized) E.T.
"The Apocalypse," Aziraphale replied, adding in the relative privacy of his mind: 'Again.'
The man-shaped person did not seem to find this in any way surprising, although there were signs of disappointment and exasperation, somewhat similar to what a teacher might have felt hearing from their most notorious pupil that his dog had eaten his homework. Again.
"I mean," the person amended, "what is going on here?"
Aziraphale blinked. Well, he was quite intelligent, but right at his moment he asked himself if he was intelligent enough, or perhaps stupid enough, to understand the question as it was meant. Because he would have much liked to not understand it.
Crowley, being naturally inclined to disturb the peace (or at least the armistice) of anyone's mind, just had to say: "The Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are riding. Again."
The man-shaped alien thoughtfully nodded, pensively directed his gaze to the heavy thunderclouds that were gathering on the horizon, bit his lower lip in reflection, and professed: "Well, that's a new one."
There was something to be said for relentlessness.
The Doctor didn't know exactly what it was – he had more important things to memorise at any given time – but he knew where to find the quotes, and from there it was only a matter of a bit of time-travel and perhaps some spirited debate. It always ended in him saving the world, anyway, and he treasured the rare instances when one of the (objectively quite stupid, not that it was their fault, just genetics, you understand) humans proved him wrong.
Statistically, it had to happen. He lived for the statistical anomalies.
"Do you think that's really him?" the self-proclaimed angel at the Doctor's right shoulder inquired, looking uncomfortable.
"Her," the demon at the Doctor's left shoulder corrected derisively. "Looks like He has branched out. Moved with the Times. Became innovative." There was a pause as the Time-Lord-shaped creature adjusted his tie. "Frankly, it's frightening."
"I never thought I would live to see the time when His Chauvinism consented to begetting female progeny," the angel pointed out.
"I'll have you know, there's three times as many women as men in Hell!" the demon claimed.
There were many various reasons for this, and most of them quite logical. For example, the fact that for many centuries a woman couldn't disobey her father or her husband without breaking some divine rule or other. It was hell's recruitment ground. All a demon had to do was wink. Sometimes not even that much. Just sit down and stay in one place long enough. The girls came in droves.
"Look!" the Doctor yelled to make himself heard over the argument. "That-" he pointed rudely (because this him was undeniably rude) at the object of the celestial beings' discourse, "-is a little girl. The way I see it, hurting little girls is bad."
And maybe he could have made a case for this opinion, too, were it not for the fact that said 'little girl' turned her head around, going a few minutes and seconds past three hundred and sixty degrees, and then spat out a bit of green-grey sludge.
The Doctor faltered. He also took a step backwards, unintentionally nudging both his companions' upper arms.
This was, he felt, out of his jurisdiction. Give him Cybermen any time.
"This day, lowly mortal," the little girl said, turning her eyes – all the parts, including the whites and the irises – a monochromatic black (as in three zeroes in the RGB system), "will mark the end of your pathetic, corrupt race."
The Doctor caught a sense of admiration for the hypocrisy from the demon at his left shoulder, who seemed to be thinking that dooming any race for something the Hell was actively encouraging was the height of lowness. Or the low of lowness. This was where human metaphors became confusing.
"Ideas?" the Doctor asked, because this really wasn't the time to admit that he was out of his depth.
"Run?" the angel suggested in a tiny, tinny voice, that would have been absurd coming from someone as lucent as himself, were it not for the fact that a religious-belief-fuelled personage was attempting to willfully end all life on the Doctor's favourite planet.
"Keep her talking?" countered the demon. For once, both advices had probably the same value.
The Doctor gave an expressive sigh, and pulled out his sonic screwdriver. "Do you know what this is?" he asked.
It was, of course, a trick question.
One had to regret that there was no way for someone with fully black eyes to go cross-eyed. At leas, no discernible way.
"No," the girl admitted.
"It's a sonic screwdriver," the Doctor replied superiorly. "I can do things with it. And if you don't know, you're not fit to run a planet."
There was a while of silence. It stretched on, a bit more than what would have been comfortable to any of the participants of the scene, but then self-preservation kicked in, and the first one to break was a red-headed lady that stepped out in front of Young Lady Antichrist and took the proverbial microphone.
She took said proverbial microphone in her left hand, because the right one was occupied with a heavy, double-bladed flaming bastard sword.
"No, no, no!" the Doctor protested, pointing accusatorily at the burning blade. "Please – I'm asking nicely – please put that thing down."
War chuckled. Guffawed, even. She swung the flaming sword in a lazy, way-too-wide slope, like a kid holding a plastic sword-shaped toy might, and guffawed more. "It's in the heart of every man," she claimed. "You know you want to-"
"I don't," the Doctor resolutely cut in. "No, really. I'd like you to put that down. You can take out someone's eye with that." He pointed at the flaming sword.
"I don't see the problem-" War attempted to reply, but then there were her fellows.
"S'nice," croaked the young-looking one that could have been attractive, were it not for the fact that he probably wasn't acquainted with the concept of a shower. "All those b'dily l'quids squirtin' all 'ver th'place." He grinned. "Very u'ygienic."
"Not to mention the low nutritional value," the third fellow, a tall thin one with short black mustache, opined. "An eyeball is almost all water."
"Is it just me," the Doctor said as conversationally as anyone in his position could, "or is there something not right with them?" He turned to his team.
The angel and the demon exchanged looks, and they both shrugged in an attempted but unachieved unison.
"They're the Bikers of the Apocalypse," the angel pointed out, as if that explained everything.
In a manner of thinking, it did.
"How would you like being trapped in every mirror and only ever being seen out of the corner of the eye and impotent to do anything?" the Doctor asked, doing his level best to maintain the conversational tone.
He remembered The Beast all too well, and he would have liked to know that he wasn't the one to actually chain it there, because that kind of paradox was only ever liable to make you angry at yourself for aging into such an effing idiot.
The little girl Contemplated for a moment, tugging onto her blond pigtail. "I think I'd give that job to Pestilence. I know he's retired an' all, but he'd get a kick out of the contagiousness."
The Doctor groaned. There was a limit to how far your wittiness could carry you.
He was too embroiled in thinking up yet another complicated diplomatic scheme of convincing (or confusing) the young Heiress of Hell into giving up on her ultimate goal of general destruction of the Earth, so he didn't notice when the angel and the devil stopped standing at his shoulders and started actually doing something.
No one could take it ill of the Doctor that he had assumed that the two celestial beings had been there to relay relevant information to him and then argue for his amusement. Following this, no one could take it ill of him when he was surprised by their intervention.
In a cosmic joke, Aziraphale was the one to offer a choice of sweets he seemed to be keeping at hand (his belly could attest to their primary purpose), and Crowley then said all those lines so reminiscent of parenting like 'think about your actions, young lady' or 'you won't get to sleep until you eat all the greens.'
The Doctor disapproved of parenting a priori. That was why he was glad to have Crowley along. The demon would have been such a good parent.
Little Evelyn was, at best, disconcerted by the opposition. She had never expected an opposition. There had been no lectures about opposition. No advice about it. And she liked chocolate. Not any chocolate, of course, just the really dark chocolate, but the nice mister was offering her a whole bar, and saying that she only had to refrain from destroying the world to get it and… well, she was ultimately Lucifer's daughter. She knew a bargain when she saw one.
The three Time-Lord-shaped creatures let out relieved sighs at the same time.
THAT SEEMS TO BE THAT, one of the Apocalypse fellows opined.
"Yes," the Doctor said quickly. "Thanks for your assistance. See you around."
The Four Bikers of the Apocalypse weren't there. Not that they had fled, or anything. No. Just removed themselves from a potentially antagonistic situation.
"Evie!" an irate not-exactly-young woman with artificially auburn hair proclaimed, stepping out of a vehicle and intent on collecting her apparent daughter. "How many times have I told you? No shenanigans unless you take Lady with you!"
A very obviously male young poodle submissively sat at the angry woman's feet.
"Discreet retreat?" the angel – intelligently – suggested.
"Oh, yes," the demon agreed, with an undertone of blissful relaxation, now that the threat of eternal damnation was over.
"Allow me," the Doctor injected, taking both their elbows and uncompromisingly leading them in the direction of the TARDIS.
They returned to St. James Park, where ducks were laying siege to the police box stationed on the edge of the pond. Lake. Body of water.
"I like him," Aziraphale said. "He's straightforward. A pacifist. Doesn't smoke, or drink, or do drugs." He seemed to forget that their audience consisted of the object of their recourse. And of ducks.
Crowley snarled in disgust.
"Oh…" the alleged Doctor said, while his cheeks gained a pinkish hue distinct enough in the pinkish-grey light of the dawn. The reason for this phenomenon was ambiguous. "Thank you?"
Crowley had enough fingers in his man-like shape to count that this was going to end badly, mostly for him.
There were some mutual congratulations. Mutual as in that everyone was being congratulated (everyone including Crowley) whereas the congratulating parties were Aziraphale and the Doctor. Also, there was a suggestion of a chocolate and strawberry cake. Now, Crowley was an avid fan of decadence, but there was such a thing as a limit. Having chocolate and strawberries on any kind of cake was against the Rules.
Crowley didn't quite remember how that argument ended. There was some half-imagined recollection of taste bud-induced mindless bliss, which he washed down with extensive amounts of red wine – because quality red wine had both sufficient style and sufficient alcohol content.
"I was thinking… You know what I was thinking?" the Doctor inquired and Crowley and Aziraphale, both suspicious by experience, willed themselves sober. "You guys are good to have around in a pickle."
Crowley, who could see where this was going, replied a short, concise, poignant and full of meaning: "No."
Aziraphale looked at him.
Crowley gritted his teeth and summoned the several point six six six Everests of his strength of will. It didn't seem to be working. He could feel his resolve crumbling, his mask of decisive refusal flaking off like old skin once he'd grown out of it, and in the deep recesses of his mind the little part of him that hesitated before he kicked a puppy tentatively raised its trembling hand. Metaphorically speaking.
The one fact that above all confirmed Crowley's theory that there was a seed of evil deep in Aziraphale's soul were the angel's puppy-dog eyes.
Crowley felt a droplet of sweat trickle down from his temple, across his cheek in a graceful downward arch, until it reached the corner of his mouth.
It tasted salty.
Aziraphale's lip quivered.
"Alright!" Crowley all but bellowed. "Fine! Perfect! Okie-doke!" He turned to the Doctor, schooled his expression into something vaguely resembling calm, and said: "Yes, we shall accompany you on your journey to other worlds. Whatever."
Ever so slightly hunched, scuffing his snake-skin shoes, he walked into the blue police box with the same kind of vim the condemned probably felt walking up the steps to the gallows-tree.
"You have to forgive my friend, my dear," Aziraphale said with his polite face on, which basically amounted to an oozing level of gayness (because the angel, apparently, had missed the shift in the meaning of that word – or, alternatively, had predetermined it a long time ago. Seriously, it was a wonder he had not shared a cell with poor old Oscar Wilde once upon a time. Or maybe it was lucky. Crowley wasn't sure what someone like Oscar Wilde could have done when being inspired by the ineffability. Might have stopped buggering other men and – what a waste of a demon's fun).
"Nothing to forgive," the Doctor replied with a grin that wasn't quite the same level of gay, and yet again there appeared the question of definition, and did the humans have to go around changing the meanings of the words? It was like you never quite knew if you were saying what you thought you were saying because of when you were saying it.
"Let us be off, then!" Aziraphale pronounced, and walked into the police box as if he were entering the Gates of Heaven.
The Doctor, ever so slightly disappointed (pouting) at Crowley's and Aziraphale's lack of surprise at the dimensional discorrelation of the insides of his ingenious travelling companion (something as sentient and in possession of such a sense of humour could not be, in good or heavy conscience, referred to as 'a machine') shut the front door, and approached what appeared to be the controlling interface.
Crowley found it the height of arrogance that the Doctor assumed he could man such a device by himself. Also, there was the fact that the Doctor seemed to have not asked before absconding with said device, not to mention the number of civilisations he would have thrown into utter chaos during his joyride…
Crowley thought, he might just learn to like the Doctor.