Good Omens Fanfiction: Chosen and Unchosen - 12. Rain
I’m so glad to hear that everyone enjoyed the previous chapter. It was Warlock’s greatest moment and I definitely enjoyed writing it. But I’m certain that everyone is eager to see what happens next. I’m sorry that the holiday season threw everything out of whack, but I did get the update finished.
Fear and stress managed to banish his weariness temporarily, but Aziraphale could feel it returning at full force as they drew closer and closer to safety. They’d somehow stumbled and staggered their way back until they reached a familiar-looking stairwell.
At that point Crowley practically collapsed on the first step, letting Adam take his hand and focus on restoring the demon’s corporeal body. The angel couldn’t help hovering over proceedings worriedly. Regardless of how tired that Aziraphale might feel, he needed to know that Crowley would be all right after Satan dug his talons into the demon’s essence. He’d managed the smallest and weakest healing miracle when he yanked the vulnerable demon away from the devil, but Crowley still needed more help than the weary Aziraphale could provide.
But not all of his attention was on the increasingly solid-looking Crowley, eyes closed and body slumped. Aziraphale kept glancing down he hallway at the small figure keeping watch, his back towards them as he kept guard with his twin water pistols. And every time the angel look, he was hit by the same feeling of how impossible the boy’s presence truly was.
Warlock Dowling. Their little Warlock. How was Warlock in Hell? He was supposed to be in the United States with his family, no longer tangled up with the occult or ethereal. Why was he there, armed with water guns filled with holy water? What possessed him to declare himself the Anti-Christ and start threatening the devil? How much did he know? Too many questions filled Aziraphale’s mind and the only one who might have the answers was keeping his distance.
Adam called him “Lock.” And before they came to Hell, they mentioned that they found out about Aziraphale and Crowley being in trouble from someone named Lock. Which meant Warlock told Them about what Heaven and Hell did.
But that only raised more questions. How did Warlock know what happened to the angel and demon? How did the boy even recognize them? He called them his nanny and gardener, so he knew that the two of them were the same people from his childhood. And how did he make Satan back down? Despite what he and Crowley might have believed for a little over a decade, Warlock was born a perfectly normal child. And after they left, he should have enjoyed a perfectly normal life. How did he end up here?
Azirahale turned back towards their other godchild and Crowley. The look of concentration on Adam’s face slowly relaxed and he let go of the demon’s now-solid hand. Aziraphale quickly took Crowley’s hand instead and squeezed it gently. Then he used his free hand to reach up and cup the demon’s face.
“How do you feel?” asked Aziraphale gently.
Eyes flickering open, still fully golden with no visibly separate irises, Crowley said, “A little better.” He rubbed at his chest with a small grimace. “Still tired and sore. Feel like napping a decade. But I think the kid did a bit more than fix me up a new body.”
“Only a little,” admitted Adam. “Feels too much like messing with people when doing stuff that deep and I don’t do that anymore. But I tried to fix where my Not-Dad poked holes through him. Should help a little at least.”
“We appreciate that.” Aziraphale carefully pulled Crowley back to his feet. “And everything else that you’ve done for us.”
“Yeah, thanks, kid,” said Crowley, giving a weak smile.
Brow furrowing briefly with concentration, Crowley snapped his fingers and managed to miracle up a pair of sunglasses. He immediately wobbled afterwards and Aziraphale nearly scolded him for wasting his very limited energy, but Crowley looked more comfortable after slipping them on his face.
“Let’s get out of here,” he continued. “We’ve spent more than enough time in Hell, thank you very much.”
The soft bark from Dog sounded like agreement. Aziraphale certainly appreciated the idea of escaping the dark, dank, and oppressive place. Both angel and demon ended up reaching out to steady themselves against the walls as they climbed the narrow stairwell, but they didn’t stumble. And they managed to reach the exit.
Aziraphale took a deep breath as soon as he felt the familiar sensation of being on Earth again, a cool breeze brushing against his face. The tension melted out of him. Part of the angel whispered home. 
“Why is Book-Girl and company napping on the dirt?” asked Crowley.
Glancing at the sprawled figures and trying to ignore the spike of guilt, Aziraphale said, “Ah, yes, that’s right. They’re fine. Tickety-boo and all that. They should wake up soon enough.”
“…You knocked them out, didn’t you, angel?”
“It was for their own safety. Otherwise all of them would have wandered into Hell too and they could have been hurt. I couldn’t bear the idea.”
“Yeah, I don’t imagine that Book-Girl would appreciate her nerd getting eaten down there.” 
Aziraphale knew that he should scold Crowley for even making a joke about such a thing, but he was simply relieved to have his demon back and making snarky comments. But now that they were both somewhere safe, the angel knew that Crowley needed to rest. His demon was still clearly exhausted from everything and Aziraphale could also use a moment to catch his metaphorical breath.
“While we wait for them to wake up,” suggested Aziraphale gently, “perhaps we can take a short break.”
Crowley offered no resistance as the angel lowered him until the demon was sitting on the leaves, leaning back against a tree with a tired sigh of relief. Aziraphale nearly sank down next to him. All the celestial energy that he’d been throwing around all day, trying to perform difficult miracles in the depths of Hell, had taken a toll on him. But when he thought about the potential stains on his trousers, Aziraphale ended up bracing himself against the bark of the tree instead. His hand rested lightly on Crowley’s shoulder beside him as faint thunder rumbled.
Aziraphale closed his eyes, letting the cool breeze banish any remaining traces of Hell that might cling to him. Safe. They were safe. Both Heaven and Hell failed. Everything would be fine now.
He was starting to relax when he felt Crowley stiffen under his light grip. That startled Aziraphale into opening his eyes. And then angel froze when he caught sight of the same thing.
Standing awkwardly at the edge of their improvised road paved with good intentions, Warlock gave them an uncertain look. His confident expression and fury from earlier were gone. He didn’t look like the Anti-Christ, ready to do battle against Satan with childish toys. He looked like he did when he was six and accidentally stained his mother’s favorite dress when the boy tried to get her attention, requiring a quick miracle to make the mud crumble off before anyone could say something that they would regret. Warlock looked like he expected to be yelled at for a simple mistake. As if he had done something wrong and expected punishment.
“Oh, Warlock,” said Crowley quietly.
His voice had shifted from his normal timbre. It was softer and the accent had morphed into something different. But still familiar. Aziraphale heard that voice countless times over the last few years. And the boy recognized it just as easily and responded instinctively to the sound.
Face crumbling slightly and tossing away the water pistols, he called out, “Nanny!”
Warlock ran the short distance between them, practically flinging himself down into Crowley’s suddenly waiting arms. The demon wrapped him in a tight hug, burying the boy’s face into his chest. Weariness forgotten as something more pressing took center stage. Crowley rubbed Warlock’s back in small circles as silent sobs shook the child. The soothing gesture was practiced, demonstrating that he’d done this hundreds of times over the boy’s childhood.
Aziraphale sank down next to them, placing a hand on Warlock’s shoulder. Neither of them ever expected to see the boy again. They left him alone as much as possible, trying to give the child a chance at a normal life. They’d agreed. They’d mess with him enough already and he deserved better than that. Warlock deserved to be more than a pawn in a giant game to prevent the Apocalypse. But Aziraphale couldn’t ignore Warlock’s current emotional state any more than Crowley could.
“Poor darling boy,” murmured Crowley, easily slipping back into the role of a caregiver. “What are you doing here?”
Sniffling slightly even as he kept his face hidden, Warlock said, “You needed help. Saw it. In my Dreams.”
“Do you often see real things in your dreams?” asked Aziraphale softly, struggling against habit not to fall back into the voice that he used as a gardener.
He pulled back as he gave a small nod. Warlock stared up at them with watery and uncertain eyes.
“Since my birthday party,” he said. “The one where… I’m sorry. Didn’t know it was you. Not then. I’m sorry we threw cake at you and stuff.”
“He really was a rubbish magician,” said Crowley, chuckling softly and earning a glare. “What else did you dream about?”
“The world almost ending. Angels and demons. Both of you, looking different and using different names,” he described with a small shrug. “I only Dream a day ahead or behind, but it is always real.”
Aziraphale tried not to think about the implications of Warlock developing the ability to see the future. Most people tended to go a little strange in the head when they tried it. There were reasons why most prophecies were inaccurate; they generally went mad when they looked too far. Agnes Nutter was the exception in many ways. And now Warlock had visions of the immediate past and future.
But that wasn’t a problem that he could handle at the moment. It wasn’t something that he could necessarily fix. So he tried to ignore it. Aziraphale did his best not to think about that possibility and focus instead on more immediate concerns.
“So you know about us?” asked Aziraphale.
“You’re an angel named Aziraphale and you have a bookshop,” he said slowly. “And Nanny is a demon named Crowley and…” Warlock trailed off, biting his bottom lip briefly. “I’m sorry, Nanny. What would you like me to call you? When I was little, everyone called you ‘she,’ but in my Dreams they call you ‘he.’ Do you want one of those or something different?”
Smiling at the child half-crumbled in his lap, Crowley said, “You can call me whatever makes you happy. Mostly been using ‘he’ at the moment, but I might change things up in a decade or two.” 
“Okay,” he said quietly. “Well, I know you’re an angel and a demon. And I know you were supposed to take care of me because you thought I was the Anti-Christ. But it was a mistake and you wanted Adam instead. I was the Wrong Boy. That’s okay, though. You found the right one and he didn’t want the world to end either. Everything was the way it was supposed to be then. Both of you were happy and keeping an eye on Adam afterwards.” Warlock shrugged slightly, eyes dropping towards the ground. “But you were in trouble. I had to help you. Even if I wasn’t the one you wanted, you two were there for me and…”
And the boy still loved them. Aziraphale could sense it radiating off Warlock like heatwaves. Strong familial love. Even knowing that everything that they told him was a lie or a mistake due to believing that he was the Anti-Christ, Warlock still loved them both. Enough to chase a vision across an ocean and into the bowels of Hell. Enough to risk everything to save the pair.
But Crowley wasn’t considering the implications of the love and affection coming from the boy. Demons couldn’t sense love like angels could. He was focusing solely on Warlock’s words, tone, and body language.
“Hellspawn, ” he murmured, brushing the boy’s hair back. “Do you think that… do you think that we stayed away from you because we didn’t want you?”
“No,” said Warlock. Then, a little uncertain, he said, “…Maybe. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t think that… anymore…” He shrugged a little. “I don’t know.”
Crowley pulled him close again, hugging the boy just like he did throughout his time as a nanny. Aziraphale couldn’t easily mirror the gesture with his current position and the demon was always surprisingly better at interacting with children, but he squeezed Warlock’s shoulder and hoped it would give him some comfort.
“Warlock, we stayed away afterwards because we thought it was best for you,” said Aziraphale apologetically. “A normal life. No more angelic or demonic influences. After the mess that we made of your childhood, tugging you this way and that to find a balance between good and evil, we owed you at least that much peace. We owed you a normal and human life.”
Aziraphale could feel the boy’s breath hitching with silent sobs and he could see Warlock’s fingers digging into the fabric of Crowley’s coat. Clinging to the demon, as if terrified that he would disappear. Warlock didn’t have to say a word to make it clear that given the choice between the two of them and a normal life, he would have made a different decision. He’d already said it by walking into Hell to save them.
Still brushing the boy’s hair back with his hand, Crowley said, “I was glad that it wasn’t you, Warlock. I mean, we were freaking out and panicking about it because we only had a few days to fix things and no idea where the Anti-Christ ended up, but even then I was relieved it wasn’t you. Because if it didn’t work, if it went wrong, the backup plan was… If it meant protecting the world, the backup plan was to kill the Anti-Christ to prevent the Apocalypse. And we never wanted to hurt you, hellspawn.”
“He means it,” said Adam, startling the trio into remembering that they weren’t alone in the forest. “When I first met them, Uncle Aziraphale pointed a gun at me.”
“To be fair, it had been a very trying day for all involved and I have apologized extensively since then,” said Aziraphale, still feeling a twinge of guilt even though the boy had long since forgiven him.
Adam grinned at the angel’s embarrassment. The other humans were in various stages of waking up and climbing to their feet. Newt somehow was doing it in the reverse order, staggering upright even before his eyes opened. Thunder rumbled as Pepper tried yanking Brian off the ground.
But the angel wasn’t the only one who reacted to the reminder that they weren’t alone. Warlock pulled back from Crowley, sniffling and drying his face with his sleeve. He tried to pull himself together, but Aziraphale could see the fragility behind his expression.
“I can’t believe you took Lock with you and not us,” complained Pepper. “We could have helped.”
“I didn’t intend for Warlock to end up in Hell either.” Aziraphale gave the girl an apologetic smile. “But he followed us with a few water guns filled with holy water.”
Warlock shrugged and said, “Nanny told the best bedtime stories, so I know all about that stuff. And sneaking in there and shooting the devil? Better than an escape room.” 
“Wait, ‘Nanny’?” asked Newt.
Smirking, Crowley said, “I made a better nanny for the Dowling family than the angel did a gardener.”
“You were like a goth Mary Poppins,” said Warlock, his expression brightening slightly at the memory. “And Brother Francis had a big hat and funny teeth.”
“It added to the character that I was supposed to portray,” defended Aziraphale even as the demon chuckled.
“It looked ridiculous, angel. I could barely keep a straight face whenever I looked at you. An entire decade of that without me laughing constantly? Sometimes I amaze myself with my level of self-control.”
“Yes, you are truly the model of restraint,” he said dryly.
Thunder rumbled once again, reminding Aziraphale of their current situation. He and Crowley were both exhausted and despite what help the angel and Adam provided, Crowley still needed time to recover from whatever happened in that locked room. And Aziraphale couldn’t imagine what the time zones might be doing to Warlock’s sleep schedule. Add in the way that Adam kept lingering near his friends as if drawing strength from their presences and there was no ignoring that everyone needed a break. They needed rest and a chance to regroup.
Aziraphale slowly climbed back to his feet, using the tree to steady himself. Then, with Warlock’s help, they pulled Crowley back upright. While the Serpent’s balance on his legs always looked like an uncertain and fleeting thing, exhaustion made the wobbling worse. 
“We should get out of here,” said Aziraphale gently. “Before the storm hits. The last thing that any of us need is to get soaked by the rain.
Nodding slowly, Crowley said, “Yeah, right, good. Yes, let’s do that. Would be nice to go home after all this. Sleep in my own bed.”
“That’s a bit of a drive,” reminded Anathema as she approached them. “And last time I checked, your car wasn’t in Tadfield.”
“We’ll manage.” Aziraphale glanced towards the dark-haired boy. “I know that Crowley’s flat is a bit sparsely-furnished, but at least I convinced him to add some furniture. He doesn’t have a spare bedroom set up for you at the moment, but perhaps the couch will do for the night?”
Warlock blinked up at them in surprise. As if he didn’t expect the invitation to stay with them. As if they wouldn’t want him to come with them. As if he didn’t expect to be included after it was over.
“Unless Adam or one of his friends has invited you already?” continued Aziraphale awkwardly. “Or perhaps you’ve made other arrangements. Who do your parents believe that you are staying with?” Hesitating a moment as he realized something, he asked, “What do your parents think that you’re doing?”
Shrugging and not meeting their eyes, Warlock mumbled something. And while a decade wasn’t that long in the grand scheme of things, it remained long enough for certain actions to become instinctive. Especially when that decade involved helping raise the child in front of them.
“Speak up, Master Warlock,” he said, sounding too much like his role as a gardener despite his best efforts. “I cannot hear you when you mumble and I know that you were raised with the manners to speak properly.”
Warlock straightened at the tone even if he refused to look up. He bit his lip and then the boy repeated his previous words.
“I didn’t tell them. They don’t know I’m gone.”
“You what?” asked Crowley, his eyebrows raising in a way that suggested that his eyes were bulging behind his glasses.
“You live in America now.” Aziraphale stared at the boy, trying to wrap his mind around the concept of what Warlock was saying. “How could they not know?”
He shrugged and said, “I snuck out. Left my phone behind and everything. Didn’t tell anyone. Security might have noticed by now, but not my parents.”
Crowley stared at Warlock silently. Even with his eyes hidden, Aziraphale could see several emotions flash across his face in an instant. Then he shook his head tiredly.
“You wandered into Hell. Why are we surprised that you crossed the Atlantic Ocean by yourself?” One hand gestured vaguely and he made a few half-aborted sounds that weren’t quite words before stumbling onto what Crowley intended to say. “We’ll sort it out tomorrow. Come on then, hellspawn. That insult to cars that the technobane drives should have room for you too.” 
Yes, they could sort out Warlock and his decision to run away from home in the morning. Among other things. Aziraphale still had some choice words concerning Crowley’s earlier decision. Flinging himself in front of the angel and being skewered instead was not something that Aziraphale was all right with. He knew that Crowley would do almost anything to protect him, but he also knew that the demon normally possessed a survival instinct. Aziraphale would be far happier if Crowley wouldn’t risk so much for his sake.
Especially not after he’d already come so close to… Aziraphale didn’t want to think about it, but he couldn’t forget what he found in that room. In that prison. How he found Crowley worn as thin and weak as a shadow, fading away towards nonexistence… And the angel barely pulled him back from that state, only for Crowley to turn himself into a demonic shield against the devil and could have easily been destroyed permanently. Those memories would not be leaving Aziraphale any time soon.
But that was a conversation for another day. For now, the exhausted group began their unsteady trek out of the forest. Wobbly and stumbling steps that crunched dry leaves eventually faded. Silence fell across the woods for a while, only broken by another rumble of thunder.
Then the skies opened up and released a torrential downpour. The rain soaked everything within seconds. And the writing scribbled on the stones washed away, erasing the entrance to Hell along with the words. The storm raged on, not leaving behind a single trace of what happened there.
The crowded car ride was quiet. Not uncomfortably quiet. Understandably quiet. Newt was the only one in the vehicle that wasn’t completely exhausted, though that was partially due to his involuntary nap.
Honestly, Newt was surprised that he didn’t hear any snoring. Crowley nearly passed out the moment that he slithered into Newt’s car. And, after sparing a moment to give Adam a parting hug, Aziraphale had swiftly followed. While technically conscious, the angle was resting next to them and barely able to keep his eyes open. Even the boy, whether the name was Lock or Warlock, was yawning from where he was pressed tightly between the pair. Newt didn’t know what cause the exhaustion for the two supernatural beings, but he suspected that Warlock was still dealing with remnants of jetlag.
There was no conversation. The only noise was the rain pounding on the windshield, the slight squeak of the wipers moving back and forth, the occasional rumble of thunder, and faint traces of a string quartet drifting out of Warlock’s iPod. It wasn’t really that bad though. Rather quiet and peaceful. Newt would almost describe his mood as Zen-like. The drive all the way to London in a storm didn’t seem as bad with the relaxing atmosphere.
But eventually Newt needed to break the weary silence.
“Are you certain that you don’t want me to drive you to the bookshop?” he asked softly.
Blinking a few times to combat the bleariness, Aziraphale mumbled, “No. Not yet.” He shifted slightly in his seat. “Don’t know what kind of mess that they left behind there. When they took us. And neither of us have the energy to… clean up.” 
“Should we stop somewhere and get food then?” asked Newt. “If you’re all that tired, I can pick something up for you. Or even call my mum and have her fix some food. She’s a great cook. It wouldn’t be hard to swing by her place first.” He paused a moment. “Though it might be safer to have someone else call the number. My mobile has survived almost three weeks so far, but I don’t want to press my luck.”
“Wensleydale gave me an apple. I’m fine,” mumbled Warlock, yawning once again.
Aziraphale thought for a few moments before giving a slow shake of his head. He kept the movement gentle to ensure that Crowley didn’t wake up. Not that Newt believed anything would wake him up except pulling the angel’s hand out of his loose grip.
“No,” said Aziraphale quietly. “At the moment, rest takes priority over a meal. We can always order food later. But thank you for the kind offer. We appreciate everything.”
Newt grinned and said, “Just trying to help. I might not be a witch or an angel or a demon, but I can do a few things.” Switching on the turn signal, he added, “And I don’t know if I said it before, but we’re glad that the two of you are all right.”
 Once Aziraphale would have felt guilty because Heaven was meant to be his home, but he knew better now. Earth had been his home from the start. Earth and Crowley.
 Yes, Crowley knew their names. No, he didn’t plan to use them much when he could use more interesting nicknames instead.
 By angelic and demonic standards, Crowley was changing his gender and pronouns constantly. But by human standards, the time frame meant something completely different.
 Only a demon would treat the word as a term of endearment.
 This did nothing to sooth Pepper’s annoyance at missing out. She would hold onto this disappointment for at least two more weeks and wouldn’t really forgive Aziraphale until she received a rather nice sword of her own at Christmas (“For emergencies only, my dear.”)
 The angel didn’t even notice that Pepper retrieved his sword from where he dropped it earlier. He was never very good at keeping track of it.
 Technically, Newt’s infamous Dick Turpin wouldn’t normally fit three passengers. But as long as an angel, a demon, and the not-quite-Anti-Christ firmly Expected to fit, the laws of physics would politely look the other way. Crowley also neglected to ask Newt if he would mind giving them a ride back to London, but Newt tended to be volunteered by everyone regardless. Ranging from his mother to Them to the little neighbor lady that kept thinking that he was a plumber. Newt wasn’t likely to complain and start asserting himself now. Especially not against Crowley.
 The possible mess left behind by the attack could be anything from some scattered papers to bloodstains to a pair of decomposing bodies, depending on what Michael and Hastur decided to do after discorporating them. And none of them were in a state to deal with the more unpleasant options.
I hope that this chapter is a suitable one to enjoy right after the holiday season. It was a busy time of year for me, so it took a little longer to update. But I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out. And hopefully the next chapter will be equally enjoyable.