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Catalyst in Motion

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She hadn’t seen God outside of dreams since the day after she heard the angels and he set her on this path of limiting damage done by his wayward children. None of it - the ghosts, the demons, the angels - could have prepared her for this. This woman who seemed to radiate darkness where God had been light.

The woman's head tilted slightly, looking at Joan critically. "You've seen Him."

"Yes." There was no need for elaboration, she knew exactly who they were discussing.

"When? Where?"

Joan bit her lip, glancing at the sky before answering. "Seven years ago. Not here."

The woman smiled. "At least you've seen Him. The people who claim to know what He's like that have never met him are beginning to try on my patience. Come, child, tell me about him. What has he been doing while people have worshiped him like sheep?"

"He's been... around, I guess? I don't know him that well, he just asks me to do things. Why are you looking for him?"

"There's business I need to settle with my brother."

That was what took Joan off guard. She stiffened before letting out a breath. "He never said anything about having a sister. What... What's your name? I'm Joan."

The woman - God's alleged sister - scowled briefly. "Your human scriptures speak of Darkness. But I am fond of the name Amara. As for my brother's silence on my existence... He is prideful and made his creations worship him to cover the existence of his greatest crime. We were to Create together but he chose to fear my power and lock me away, warning you all against the darkness, offering protection for your praise. And you all did without any proof that he was even there." The girl took a step back as Amara's eyes seemed to hold a dark promise. "But I've tried praying. I've tried to get his attention and nothing. Maybe you'll be a better message. I am sorry, Joan. I want to bring everything perfect peace. But sacrifices have to be made."

She felt the familiar presence before the hand rested on her shoulder.

"That's enough, sister. My messenger is innocent." God was in a form Joan had never seen - a someone scruffy man, hair starting to go grey in his beard and curly hair. If he wasn't the Almighty, she'd assume he was some dorky middle aged guy but as it was... "Joan. Go home. See your parents and your brothers. Let me deal with this."

She nodded, eyes not leaning the two ancient beings until she had to turn around.

Joan didn't look back.

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Joan is glaring into her laptop when it's suddenly replaced with a large sundae that appears to have been tailor made for her enjoyment. That, and the chair across from her is definitely not as empty as it had been a second ago. Golden eyes are staring at her and the man gives her a lopsided grin. "Eat. And while you do, get your listening ears on Joany. Cause you and me talking is a bit overdue seeing as you've been doing my job for five years now."

She obediently picked up the spoon and began eating - she wasn't about to say no to a perfect sundae for free.

"You can call me Gabriel but you're gonna have to not blab that if you run into any of my brothers. Actually, better you not tell anyone that. I'm kinda a runaway at the moment and that's frowned upon for archangels."

Swallowing the cold, sugary goodness, Joan gawked at him. "You're the archangel Gabriel? Right. Okay. Life's weird enough for that. So why're you gifting me with ice cream and your holy presence?"

Gabriel frowned, eyes darkening slightly. "I know that you've got a bit of access to angel radio, you know the basics of what's going down. Big party for the end of the world. But here's the thing, kiddo. My brothers don't know about your connection to our dear ol' dad yet. You're safe for now. But if they find out what you are, you'll be in a lot of danger. It's all a power struggle and God's own messenger girl could be a huge tipping point for either side."

The girl nodded, spinning her spoon. "Right. Okay. Question. How am I supposed to avoid them finding me?"

He grinned toothily as if he'd been waiting or her to ask that. "This gonna hurt for a sec." Gabriel touched her forehead and a searing pain filled her chest. "Before you ask, I engraved your ribs with some of the best wardings Heaven can supply. You're welcome. Now keep eating your sundae." He waited until she'd shoved more ice cream into her mouth before he continued. "Those will keep you hidden but on the off chance you run into someone, even if they say they're an angel, no mentioning that you talk to the big man. And those won't protect you if Mike,  Raph, or Luce is right in front of you. They'll be able to tell."

"So what do I do then?"

Gabriel's expression turned properly serious. "Don't run. Don't lie. And try not to give them anything to work with. Mike and Raph won't hurt you, you're one of Dad's special humans, they know better. Lucifer... best case scenario, he'll kill you quick. Or try to corrupt you."

"Alright." Joan scooped up the last bit of sundae, eating it before asking her last question. "And if He comes back?"

The archangel shrugged. "Tell him he's a dick. And make him thank you for this shit you have to do. Though that cheerleading one - that was priceless."

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He appears in front of her, clutching at his chest. The pain is obvious in his golden eyes as light and blood leak from underneath his hand. Joan stared for a moment before hooking an arm under his, supporting the archangel until she can get him into a chair. This is more than she knows how to fix, but she'll put in as much effort as she can to save him considering the protections he'd put on her. And possibly her family, if the dreams were anything to go by.

"Tell me what I need to do."

"Pray. To me, just for a bit. And then maybe sew up this hole in my chest, yeah?"

Gabriel's chuckles are weak but she does as he says and slowly - too slowly it seems for how much light is escaping him - he seems to get more color, more strength. The stitches are as tidy as she can manage and he doesn't try to move at all, even when the last ray of light is hidden. He snaps, but nothing spectacular happens, just a light flickering in the motel room. His already serious expression twists into a frown.

"Damn. Out of commission then. There goes the porn career." Joan chokes on air for a moment, trying to make sure she heard right. Going off the returning smirk (though it doesn't reach his eyes, still pained and serious), he doesn't missed her reaction. "I'll explain it to you one day, kid. For now, it looks like I'm on battery-saving mode. Can't wait to see what kind of fun you get up to in your day to day life, Joanie."

"Don't call me Joanie."

"She prefers Joanith." A new voice added, catching both of their attention.

Joan rolled her eyes again. "Thanks Judith. Because I needed the archangel to have more names to call me other than the one I have."

Judith just grinned, turning to look at Gabriel. "Hey. I'm Joan's resident ghost best friend."

The archangel just gave her a knowing look, smile turning wry. "So that's how he's babysitting his favorite human. I was wondering how he was able to keep himself away from you. Good to meet you Judith. I'm Gabriel. Archangel."

"Seem a bit beat up for an archangel."

"Still got enough juice to get rid of annoying teenage ghosts."

"Alright enough." Joan rubbed at her temples. "Judith, if you want to hang around, that's fine, but I need to talk to our friend here." Her attention went back to the archangel. "What happened?"

He shifted uncomfortably, rubbing at his chest absentmindedly. There was something dark in his expression, pain and anger and... fear? He sighed softly, eyes closing. "My brother. I thought... I decided to try to make a stand, protect some people that I cared for like family. I should have known..." He stopped, eyes opening again. "No, no... I did know. Lucifer stopped caring about anyone but himself a long time ago. I told you before, Joan, but don't let him find you. If you try to stand against him, defy him... He'll kill you and the people you love. Or some complete stranger because you're the kind of person that'll hurt."

Judith was quiet and that just made the iciness forming in Joan's stomach grow. Light began to peek through the curtain - the sun was rising.

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Things had died down a lot since the Apocalypse ended. Joan went back to school, got into law school. She kept doing a few simple salt and burns, but it was nice, settling back into a proper routine. Gabriel had long since gone back into hiding, leaving Joan to fend for herself. But that was fine. No one supernatural came to her, with the exception of the time she had thought she saw God in the form he had taken once when she was in high school. But different. More squirrelly.

He hadn't spoken to her though, just watched and then vanished a second later.

So when a slow clap emerged from the darkness as she dropped the matches into the grave, Joan was mostly unprepared for the sight she was met with.

A man in a trenchcoat, head tilted slightly as he watched her. Judged her.

"Bra-vo. Really. Bravo. Not to you, of course. To Him. Hiding his biggest cache of power in a little human. And those runes blocking you from easy access, they're impressive. Gabriel's, if I'm reading the signature right. Too bad Metatron let your existence slip to Cassie here, otherwise I never would have found you."

"And who are you?" Joan asked, crossing her arms. "Because I've been enjoying getting to live my own life, I'm really not interested in whatever angel things are happening now. That is not in my job description."

The air seemed to cool rapidly around her, her breath coming out in visible puffs. He stepped closer to her, the smile turning cruel.

"Joan Girardi. Parents Will and Helen Girardi, brothers Luke and Kevin. Adam and Grace, closest friends. None of them have seen you in... seven years now, isn't it? Would be a shame for your father to come home one day to the corpse of his only daughter on the porch. I don't think they'd be able to handle that. And we both know God's not coming. He let a prophet get murdered just a few years ago. He let his best friend be offed and his sister be let out to destroy everything. He won't intervene now."

She paled, eyes closing, shoulders slumping in defeat. "What do you want from me, Lucifer?"

An icy hand closed over her shoulder. "When the time comes, Joan, you'll see me again." Sharp pain seared through her. "Modifications to your wardings. I'll be able to find you now, where ever you choose to go. So long, Joan Girardi."

And Joan was alone in the cemetery once more.

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Joan opened her eyes, slowly taking in her new location. A bar, empty. No, mostly empty. The bearded man in the booth waved at her when she looked over. Her expression changed rapidly from confused to annoyed. “I had a date.”

“Change of plans. I need you here, didn’t have time to argue with you. Mind working the bar for a little bit? I’ve got a guest coming that is going to need a drink.”

She glowered at him before giving a resigned sigh. “Do I have a choice?”

“You always have a choice. Stay and work the bar or stay and don’t work the bar. Either way, you’re not leaving.”

“I hate you. Fine. I’ll work the damn bar but I expect to be paid at least minimum wage.”

He laughed and went back to whatever it was he had been doing. She was just about to complain to him when suddenly there was another man in the bar (and a dog). Joan watched and listened, not drawing attention to herself except for when the new guy mentioned needing a drink.  She poured him a beer, setting it in front of him. He looked at her and she was suddenly startled to recognize him.

“How are you-?” Joan looked between him and God, trying to comprehend. The deity flushed slightly.

“Right, I forgot. I may have used Metatron’s appearance to visit you once. This is one of my angels. Or, he was.”

The angel – Metatron – scowled into his drink at the comment. “Mhmm. And so you’re making him edit your autobiography to earn his wings back?”

“No.” His voice was lighthearted but there was steel in God’s eyes. “He’s just my best editor. I trust his opinion when it comes to this sort of thing. But Metatron and I both know he’s got a long way to go before getting his Grace back.”

Joan nodded slowly. “Okay. I get why he’s here then. Why am I?”

God fiddled with his papers for a moment. “Because this bar is the safest place in the universe.”

“What do I need to be kept safe from?”

“His sister. Amara.” Metatron said dryly, watching them. “She’s on a warpath to take out Chuck here. He’s avoiding her.”

“Metatron, my office. Now.” She’d never heard God’s voice go so cold and suddenly she was alone in the bar, stuck contemplating everything that had happened. She couldn’t help but suspect that He’d been keeping her from noticing everything that was happening between him and Metatron. It was… strange, to see God acting so selfishly. It was a far cry from the way the deity had been with her in high school. Gone was the little girl with the alien antenna headband and the goth boy who could do make up light years better than she could. He’d become… jaded, it seemed.

She barely noticed when he returned, but couldn’t help but stay riveted when he began to sing. Her eyes welled with tears and when the song was over, she wasn’t in the bar anymore but a familiar town.



She spun, staring wide eyed at her mother. She could faintly hear God – Chuck – helping people up but her entire focus was on the woman in front of her. Seven years.

“Mom. Oh God, mom.” She flung herself into her mother’s arms, tears flowing unashamedly. “I’m so sorry, mom, I should have called but I couldn’t I’m so sorry.”

“I’m just glad to know you’re okay, Joan. We thought… Your father put out missing persons reports after you vanished from school. But we knew – we all knew you had to be alive.”

“I am. I’m okay. I can’t explain, but I’m okay.”

“Mom! Mom where are you?” Joan’s heart stopped. Kevin. “I found Dad and Luke!”

 “I’m over here, Kevin! Bring your father and Luke, quickly.”

She pulled out of her mother’s embrace, looking down. She couldn’t bare seeing the disappointment when she realized.


There it was. Confusion and heartbreak and slow realization.

“I’m sorry, mom.”

Joan looked over her shoulder to Chuck, talking to two men. He looked over at the same moment and she understood. It was her choice. Stand with him or stay with her family. He wouldn’t judge her either way. She was acutely aware of the sound of feet and wheels coming closer and with a quick bite of her lip, Joan chose.

“I love you mom. And I love dad and Kevin and Luke but I-”

She looked at her family, the male Girardis just within view enough for her to see how the years had changed them.

Joan turned on her heel, walking as quickly as she could..

“Joan, wait!”

“Joan? Joan!” Her father’s voice all but broke her heart but she kept moving towards God. He put a hand on her shoulder briefly before leading her and the two men out of the view of her family before moving them to a completely new location.