In the year 2005, as per every year, extraordinary things happen worldwide. George W. Bush comes to presidency for a second time in the United States, Iraq holds its first parliamentary election in almost half a century, Karol Józef Wojtyła dies and Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger succeeds him as Pope of the Catholic Church, Hurricane Katrina devastates the Gulf of Mexico, women in Kuwait are given the right to vote, and the most revolutionary of all, YouTube is founded.
But there are other, smaller things that went wholly unnoticed, for they are not important. Events so microscopic they matter to only so many, unassumingly the butterfly's wings before the windstorm.
In London, England, a fresh-faced man in a nice suit, on the cusp of 22 years old, takes his first steps into Canary Wharf, where he awaits to start his first day as a junior researcher for a small department inside the Torchwood Institute.
In the middle of nowhere, USA, a failed writer gets his first vision in a bar and winds up in the spilled remains of his drink with the start of an adventure stabbing at his brain.
In Jericho, California, a monster hunter drops off the grid, inspiring his son down the path of reuniting with his brother.
In Stanford, California, a college woman is killed in a house fire, inspiring her boyfriend down the path of permanently joining his family's crusade to hunt the monsters that haunt the night.
In London, England, a high-functioning sociopath meets a married Detective Inspector while behind bars at Scotland Yard, striking up an odd partnership that lasts far too long.
In a pocket universe, outside the realm of human understanding, an omnipotent being locks a favorite son away, leaving him screaming and raging and crying the only way he knows how.
2005: the year that sounded the call to arms.
Early August 2011
"Castiel is dead!" rang the song of the Choir, reaching far and wide throughout every bubble and vein of Heaven. Several Earth days had passed since the Choir sang of Raphael's death and the deaths of many of Raphael's followers. Now they sang a new song, and the Host who had only just began to accept their fate to follow Castiel, not as their leader but as their Father, found themselves truly lost for the first time since their creation.
Because this time, there was no answer volunteering itself to the problem.
The survivors who followed Raphael and the spared who followed Castiel raced around Heaven aimless, confused, frightened, none of them powerful enough or clever of them enough or capable enough to take the empty throne of the king. Even Joshua, now cut off from God, despaired and lamented over what was to become of them. Thousands of angels were now only hundreds and, with all the archangels gone, none of them had in them the gumption to be what they needed. No one dared, either. Everyone who tried filling in that spot, desiring it or promote into it died.
It was Ariel—God's Lion—who remembered, by happenstance, there was one last turn to take. One last card they could deal for their endangered existence. With a single word on her lips, a long forgotten name rippled forth across time and space, a call, an omen.
Outrage spurned on some of the Host; why should he be called upon? He was evil, a monster. He would destroy everything if they made him his leader, if they allowed him back into the company of the holy. But the weaker-willed angels fell behind Ariel's decision, because she argued Father was never coming home, because Heaven needed a God. Because there was no one left. Literally, there was no one. And Ariel, secretly, would make sure Raphael's plans became a reality. The Apocalypse would come to pass, as it was meant to. And who better to lead the charge...than their very own scourge?
August 20th, 2012
Volunteers to seek out the ancient curse of their kind were few. Admit it as they might, no one wanted to be the lamb that led them to the inevitable reign of a dangerous man. Even Ariel, steadfast in the belief that an archangel—any archangel—would be their salvation, could not quite quell her fear at the idea of being near him, let alone behind him. Like a soldier, however, she marched forward.
For four millennia did Samael have to think about the actions he would take once he was free, and Ariel was not old enough or connected enough to guess his mind. But surely he was no Lucifer. To be trapped on Earth and not in Hell was lighter punishment, right? This could not be wrong, especially when no God answered their cries for guidance and help on the matter.
And buried in Naica Mountain in Mexico, they found their last hope resting. Nestled deep in the now-dubbed Cueva de los Cristales, Ariel and several barely-willing followers gathered to group around the one crystal that glowed with Grace and empyrean, flooding the chamber and making the whole cavern glitter and sparkle, light reflecting off the rest of the crystals.
Quartz was Nature's answer to the presence of angels, much like salt and iron were to demons and ghosts, as well as many other earthly answers to unearthly things. It made the perfect physical prison for a being composed entirely of energy, with the right runes and glyphs in place. So the cage they sought would have been different from the rest, regardless of the brilliance it contained.
Samael's prison jutted from the ceiling at an angle, seventy feet in length, adorned with seven bands of large, gold rings, Enochian etched into each to hold and bind Samael into place. A regular angel would only have needed two, a cherub one. Michael would have needed five, at least (six, at most).
Ariel, in her vessel, stepped forward before the radiant monolith, another crystal as her platform. "Samael," she called.
The light from the crystal dimmed and then brightened in the space between two rings closest to Ariel. Even if angels were not prone to fear or beg in the presence of power, taking on even the forces of Hell with no hesitation, Ariel recognized the uncomfortableness that came from being watched by a sharp, unheeding eye.
So it was obvious he could see her. "Can you hear me?"
He was voiceless from inside the tetrahedron, but the opposite was not true, with the human voice resonating easily through the silica where the pure voice of an angel was absorbed and stifled. He could hear, and he made it clear by flaring up his Grace to a blinding point, had his company been anything by of his own kind.
Ariel squared her shoulders. "You have been sentenced here since the days of Seqenenre Tao, pharaoh of Egypt. You were sentenced in 1563 BC of the Earth calendar. Is this correct?" Instead of a flare, the grace pulsed from bright to dim rapidly. Ariel nodded. "Samael, you have been granted permission of parole from your cell, under restraint, 551 Earth years early. Heaven seeks your company once more."
There was a pause, and the light of Grace seemed to lazily stretch itself out inside the crystal, touching tip to tip, with a fluttering pulse to accompany it. An acknowledgment and perhaps, Ariel thought warily, willingness for complacency. Even if he was complacent, Samael was not to be trusted. God sent a defier of his will to Hell and the actual dangerous one, born of mischief and war, to Earth. If Lucifer was powerful when vengeful, how would Samael be?
With a motion of two fingers, two of the vesseled angels stepped forward and winged up onto the slanted surface of the cage, arranged themselves, and started reciting the release spell. No going back, Ariel thought, hooding her eyes. Father, "lead us not into temptation / but deliver us from evil. / For thine is the kingdom / and the power, and the glory, / for ever and ever." Amen.
August 27, 2011, 7:34pm PST
Jesus Ortega was seeing things. He had to be.
It was simply panic, that was all. His grandma's antique shop had been robbed at gunpoint and he had gotten a clip in the gut. Bleeding out, the pain excruciating even in his dazed silence. He was going to die and his mind was awhirl even as his body flitted between consciousness and the unconsciousness before death. But whereas the reality of the ER, an oxygen mask over his face, and a glaringly bright light burning his retinas were what he saw when his eyes were open, when he closed them...
The room was much grimmer, colors muted and shadows in every corner, like he was looking into a different world. But the staff still bustled about him in the same, hurried manner. All the players on both sides of the coin were exactly the same.
All but one.
She was a pretty thing, caught in the corner of his eye, hovering just behind two nurses. Long, thick black hair, green eyes that were too green and he could see then, and dark skinned. A Middle-Easterner dressed in all black. And she was only there when the shadows were darker than the overhead light was bright. She frightened him.
The grim world was coming into focus more than the real world was, no longer brief glimpses but brief stays, and the girl was looking more intent on a mission.
"Don't be afraid," she finally whispered, as a nurse vacated her place behind his head and the stranger occupied it with a smooth movement. "If you let go, the pain will end. Make your peace, Jesus, and you will be at peace."
But I don't want to die! he cried, clutching to the last shreds of consciousness in the light. My dad won't handle this well! I'm the last one left! Please don't take me!
She placed her hand—blissfully cool—to his forehead and shhhhh'd, as a kindness. "It's okay, it's okay. Come with me."
Jesus found the light going as he paid more attention to her, going, going...
The light turned on full force and Jesus groaned weakly. The sounds of the hospital were everywhere, crying in emergency as he began to code...but he was alive.
He was alive.
Jesus Ortega was dying and alive.
And he thought no more of the reaper there to take him, having no memory of her existence. She, on the other hand, recoiled away from him as life flashed back into his body. She looked about the ward, checked her schedule, and promptly panicked.
No one else in the hospital was dying.
January 15, 2012
Moriarty lay on the ground, dead and bleeding and even more terrible in his cold sleep. Because now he was trapped in the game, and it was inevitable to finish.
"Even geniuses," came the voice that had plagued him since the summer, now from the high-pitched whine emanating from his mobile phone (whereas past encounters primarily happened in his dreams, always asking, "Say yes to me."), "cannot account for all turns. You didn't account for this level of devotion."
"I," he started, mind awhirl with options and his chest making it hard to breathe and think, and his new delusional companion he spent the night trying to dispel helped none at all, "I don't-- I need a plan."
"You tried. For once you failed. This is all right. What have I been saying all night?"
Inhale, exhale, suppress a horrified noise because the world was ending at his feet and slowly shaking the world. "You're the answer. The answer to Moriarty."
"I still am," the voice purred most sympathetically. "The choice is now you die, or your closest keepers die. Is the world a much darker place when an intelligent creature loses its only worldly treasure, carefully collected and kept at the vest...or when three people lose one friend, and they still have each other to comfort one another through the tears and the pain and the emptiness?"
"The answer is them, of course!" Sherlock hissed. Breathe. It hurt.
The voice was silent for a baited moment. "You're not sure you have the same amount of bravery, to die for the game, like Moriarty. Oh my boy, my boy. Yes, yes you would die for your friends. Remember what John said when he left you earlier?"
The memory of John at the door of the lab, coat in hand to follow the ruse of Mrs. Hudson's ails, came unbidden like a hitch in the throat. "Friends protect each other."
"A soldier. The man you secretly love and adore, because he can see the real you, Sherlock. You would die to keep that precious light alive. The man who trusted Sherlock. The only one you can see, when you are surrounded by others who have that same faith. Mrs. Hudson, DI Lestrade, Mycroft, little Molly. Your world is narrow, and you have a compartment in your palace for just John. So yes, for him, if only for him alone, will you step off that ledge." Another pause. "And I can reward that bravery with your life."
"You're just a voice," he whispered, eyeing the ledge and now making careful steps to it. Whoever was watching to confirm his death needed this show to get on the road. "Always just a voice."
"Just a voice," it confirmed. "Moriarty hit so close to home saying you were on the side of the angels. Sherlock, even if you were him, the devil in a nice suit, you would still be on that side. Because an angel is telling you now: give me permission to enter your body and I will save you. You are my earthly vessel, Sherlock, my precious boy. I've loved you before you were even born. Say 'yes', and I will make sure you survive this obstacle."
A bubble of hysteric giggling flew out of his lips as he hoisted himself onto the stone, because surely, he must be insane. His head voice was an angel? "Is there a catch?" he asked, playing along.
"No one would survive this fall," the 'angel' lamented, as if staring over his shoulder and down to the ground. "Jump, and you will 'die'. For you must die to save your friends. But I can heal you with a thought once it's done. But once it is done, we shall flee to the shadows, Sherlock. As great a man as you are, a dead man is still dead. I will take you from your home and you will come with me as I seek my business here on God's paradise-earth."
"And if I say no?"
"You die, obviously. Crack your skull and bleed all your intelligence into a gutter." There was a sound like a sigh, but no sigh sounds like a breeze. "You barely believe I'm real; I am, but I cannot make you believe. So will you die knowing you took your life without even trying to save it, or with hope of survival in your heart because you opened up to an angel of the lord?"
Sherlock did not answer right away, only pulling out his mobile in perfect timing with John's arrival. Deep breaths, let the phone ring.
Sherlock closed his eyes for a brief moment. "John."
"Hey, Sherlock, you okay?"
The worry, it was there. John was not stupid; he already realized this was about Sherlock. "Turn around and walk back the way you came."
"No, I'm coming in." Insistent, almost petulant.
The fuel for Sherlock's next words, strong and on the verge of breaking. "Just do as I ask!" Paused as he watched John slow to a halt. "Please!"
"...Where?" So trusting. John turned around and retraced his steps, only a little confused.
And it was in the perfect spot, Sherlock said, "Stop there!"
"Sherlock?" As if he was playing a child's game.
No turning back, now. "Okay, look up, I'm on the rooftop."
Let the reality sink in. "Oh god."
Because the reality was sinking in for Sherlock, as well. "I, I, I can't come down so w-we'll just have to do it like this."
"What's going on?" A little terrified, a little scared. With every right to be. John was always more honest with his emotions.
"An apology." The voice whispered to him, for strength and purpose. Test him, it said. Listen to his faith in you and take it to heart. "It's all true," he stated. The litany of words following fell out so easily, it twisted the knife in deeper. Lying to his 'best' friend, and wanted so badly for John to believe them all the while hoping that even secretly, John could not. Make John hate him, lessen the heartache, because every syllable John interjected with carried a weight of affection and devotion, and do what it takes to end that. Sherlock barely noticed he was crying. "Nobody could be that clever."
But John only said, "You could," and inside, he was so happy he made a small laughing sound, the voice in his other ear chanting 'I told you so,' since why would John lose faith now? This is what a friend was. To broken Sherlock, this was a friend. But he tried again, anyway, because his happiness would not spare John the agony of witnessing the act to come. Why was this so hard?
"I researched you," he said lamely, keeping out the obvious fact that it had indeed been chance they had met—Not chance, the angel said, but destiny. "Before we met, I discovered...everything I could to impress you." He sniffled. "It's a trick. It's just a magic trick."
"No. H'all right, stop it, now." Stubborn, stubborn John. Stubborn John who was now disobeying and making a beeline for the hospital.
"No, stay exactly where you are!" Sherlock insisted. Please just trust me this time, too. "Don't move."
Like a miracle, John obeyed, his free hand up in surrender in acquiescence. "All right." And it was placating, because John wasn't admitting to the reality of this.
And to enforce the concept, Sherlock had his own hand extended to emphasize the command. "Keep your eyes fixed on me!" Believe I am serious, his tone begged. "Please, will you do this for me?"
Pray for me, he wanted to say. "This phone call is, um...it's my note." Resolute. "What people do, don't they? Leave a note?
"Leave a note when?"
John was floundering. He would disobey. Sherlock needed him right there, and any longer, John would break from Sherlock's hold. "Goodbye, John."
"No, no, don't--"
"Will you take my hand?" the angel asked in his other ear. Sherlock's heart was shattering. The only option was down and this voice was mocking him by existing. Live after this jump? If only it were so easy. He tossed the phone, no longer partial to its silent and John's drowned out words by the buzzing in his head. This needed to be done now.
He put his hands out to the sides and whispered softly to the wind: "Yes."
And he leaped.