Work Header

Unexpected Variables

Work Text:

It's called emergent behaviour, and in theory, it's very exciting. She knows every single piece She has put into Her creation, and yet from those pieces, new patterns are emerging, and She neither predicted them nor controls their shape. It's not quite the same thing as free will, which was always part of the plan. A thinking being can freely make choices between several options, but those options are still defined by Her.

No, this is something She never expected, and that realisation is so thrilling it sparks a thousand new stars in the night sky.

In theory.

In practice, She is watching the angel and the demon meet in the Garden again, and if She has to reboot the universe for the fourth time this week, She's going to be more than a bit tetchy.

It's not supposed to be particularly complicated. Good, evil, make your choice, off you go. Shades of grey are fine for the humans, but Heaven and Hell are supposed to be the absolutes on each end of the scale, something to aspire to and something to rise above, respectively.

She's not sure what happened with these two, but She can already tell it's going to be a millennia-long divine headache trying to sort it out.

The first time they meet, they talk for hours and then the demon kisses the angel and the angel lets him do it. Both of them vanish into the trees of Eden for what She at first assumes is lustful cavorting (not ideal, but demons are supposed to get up to that sort of thing and angels are still able to Fall, after all), but actually turns out to be almost unbearably tender mutual wing-grooming. They're so caught up with each other that the demon doesn't get around to doing any tempting and the angel absentmindedly leaves his flaming sword under a bush, where it starts a fire that burns down the Tree of Knowledge before anyone can make any choices at all concerning it.

She thinks it's a fluke, an amusing quirk of the new universe, and resets things without worrying too much about it. It happens again. The details are slightly different (it takes a bit longer this time, and the angel manages to remember that fire and foliage do not mix), but the outcome is broadly the same: the demon and the angel latch onto each other like two halves of a clam shell and chaos ensues.

She resets things and takes a moment to consult Her notes. She wonders if the demon and the angel knew each other in Heaven, if they were one of those pairs who shared souls and lost each other in the Fall (and She does not feel guilt, She does not regret, all is as it should be but oh, She never knew they would learn to love like that so swiftly, never knew what it would mean when Michael cast Lucifer down). She checks the records, but as far as She can tell, these two never met. Which is probably just as well, frankly, since if they're carrying on like this when they're technically on opposite sides, who knows what they would have got up to Before. They certainly wouldn't have got anything done, and that would be a shame, since the demon made some of Her favourite stars.

The demon arrives in the garden, and this time She gives him just the slightest nudge in the direction of the Western Gate, curious to see what will happen, if any angel will do for this oddly affectionate creature of evil.

The demon's a lot less enthusiastic about approaching the angel of the Western Gate, which turns out to be quite sensible of him, since this angel smites him so thoroughly back to Hell that he doesn't even try to return to Earth. She waits quite a long time for them to send somebody else, but when eventually Hastur arrives, he's so annoyed by the screaming of Eve's recently born son that he transforms into a swarm of maggots and devours all three of the humans before any of the guardian angels can intervene. Which rather puts a crimp in Her plans for humanity as a whole.

She sighs, and resets things again. She really doesn't want to step in and micromanage everything, that isn't the point, but She leaves the demon with the vague almost-memory of angelic wrath, which turns out to be enough to stop him slithering up to any of the gate guards for now.

And Hallelujah, praise Herself, the demon finally takes an interest in the humans, pokes around the garden, establishes the One Thing They Are Not Supposed To Do, and suggests they do it anyway. It's important, you see, She has always known it is important that they have the choice, and that the temptation is put to them not by anyone who wants to harm them, but by someone who really can't understand why you wouldn't eat the apple, like this strange little kind-hearted demon who was once an angel who never stopped asking questions.

Is She disappointed or pleased when they succumb to temptation? When they choose the hard path with all its stones and stumbling? She couldn't possibly comment.

And then the angel of the Eastern Gate hands them his flaming sword and She watches in disbelief as Adam and Eve leave the Garden and immediately get started on the business of murdering Her other creations, something which their descendants will, She sees as She casts a glance at the future, be raising to an art form.

And now the demon is talking to the angel again and honestly, if they start kissing this time—

They don't, although She sees the exact moment the demon gets himself smitten in a somewhat different meaning of the term, struck down by the angel's unthinking kindness to the humans and to his so-called enemy. They stand on the wall watching the approaching storm, and She glances with exasperation at Her notes and wonders whether to start over yet again.

It's not, all things considered, quite the way She'd intended things to go, but She supposes it's close enough, and She did want to see what they'd all do, if She gave them an outline and let them colour it in, didn't She?

The angel is sheltering the demon with his wing. It's probably too wet for them to get up to anything handsy in the trees, and anyway, She thinks She's got the balance right now, just enough caution in both of them, just enough awareness of where each of them stands.

It's not that She doesn't want them to love each other. The idea that they can is so utterly out of scope that She wants very much to see what will happen. It's just that She does also have a universe to run, here, and it's a little hard to properly examine the effect of specific variables on the environment when those variables are more interested in interacting with each other.

It'll do, She decides, watching Adam and Eve seek shelter, watching the demon and the angel part ways for the time being. She lets creation continue unaltered, and in the end, that makes all the difference.

(Six thousand years later, She will admit that perhaps there is such a thing as too much caution, but just as She's considering a strongly worded note about getting on with things, they figure it out for themselves, and if Gabriel doesn't like it, he can get in the sun, thank you very much.)