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GO Ficlet: Written on the spot, now with title and rating... [May. 26th, 2010|11:39 pm]
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Title: Major Failings
Pairing: Aziraphale/Crowley
Rating: PG-13, maybe R for the brief gore-factor.
Notes: I was in a black mood. That's kind of all there is to say.
Summary: Sometimes, ineffability takes things a step too far.


It was quick and messy, the sort of thing that took you off-guard no matter how many beheadings, torture stints, and vivisections you'd seen otherwise. Actually, Crowley wasn't certain how many of any of those he'd actually seen. He tended to lower his eyes or look away at the last second. This was also a major failing in a demon.

One moment, she'd been walking only a few paces ahead whilst Aziraphale nattered on about nothing in particular—Southbank Centre, art and poetry series, something something—and the next, there'd been the screech of tyres, a pair of glassy blank eyes staring up at Crowley. Blood on the headlights. Brains on the pavement.

"Good gracious!" Aziraphale's arm tightened on Crowley's. "That could've been..."

They were part of the gawking crowd that had already begun to form. The cabbie had been taking a shortcut, no doubt, and hadn't been thinking of the pedestrians he'd encounter at the spot where his intended path severed the pavement before meeting up with New Oxford Street. At least someone had dialled the ambulance.

"Could it really, angel?" Crowley asked, stealing one last glance.

He took a shaky breath. Whoosh. They were gone. So far gone, in fact, that they'd bypassed both Crowley's front door and the staircase leading up from the entryway and into the living room (much more lived-in than it had once been).

"There's nothing for it now," Aziraphale was saying, as he puttered about Crowley's kitchen. "Far too many hangers-on. I'm not certain how I could have explained—"

Crowley bit the tip of his tongue, but it was no use.

"Would it have helped if she'd been on a bike?"

Aziraphale appeared in the doorway, glaring at him over Crowley's French press.

"There's no need for that," he snapped. "The poor girl's dead."

"Didn't have to be," murmured Crowley, bitterly. He sank back further into the sofa.

And then Aziraphale said, softly and somehow entirely without malice:

"Would it have helped if she'd been a bird?"

Crowley closed his eyes. Yes, a major failing indeed.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: the_moonmoth
2010-05-26 11:36 pm (UTC)

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It took me two reads to get this, but oh, ouch, and also yes. Sharp writing, in both senses.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-05-26 11:37 pm (UTC)

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It relies heavily on two very particular events from the book, I won't deny that
(a failing in and of itself, perhaps). And thank you.
[User Picture]From: the_moonmoth
2010-05-26 11:40 pm (UTC)

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a failing in and of itself, perhaps

Not your failing, though! It was a particular phrase that I read the wrong way the first time, and then couldn't figure out what the ending meant.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-05-26 11:43 pm (UTC)

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It's interesting to me, in any case. I'll be waiting to see if other readers react similarly. If nothing else, it shows me what my recollection pares itself down to in certain circumstances (i.e. the jugular, and little else).
[User Picture]From: bibliophile_bee
2010-05-27 01:25 am (UTC)

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Um. *raises hand* I don't get it. But it could be that I'm tired and brain dead today...
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-05-27 04:54 am (UTC)

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In the book, Aziraphale "heals" Anathema's bike when Crowley hits her with the Bentley, because "can't resist the opportunity to do a good deed." Crowley brings the pigeon that Aziraphale smushed up the sleeve of his magician's coat back to life. They're using those incidents to snipe at each other - so why didn't you save her, then?
[User Picture]From: bibliophile_bee
2010-05-27 11:00 am (UTC)

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Oooh of course- methinks a reread is in order for not catching that. Thank you so much for the explanation.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-06-02 11:08 pm (UTC)

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No problem!
[User Picture]From: sheerpoetry
2010-05-26 11:44 pm (UTC)

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Oh.
In which Crowley proves he's more damaged and tortured than we knew. And that they definitely know how to push each other's buttons.
It's haunting and lovely, thank you!

And, once again, I hope you've gotten news and all is well!
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-05-26 11:46 pm (UTC)

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I picked a pretty nasty set of buttons, to be fair. I've been imagining them having a fight for days on end, and this is what it boiled down to. Guiltily, I wanted to see what would happen.

Thanks *hugs* No news yet.

(Crowley is damaged goods, no doubt about it. That's what took me so off-guard about him, almost from the start. He's so human, even more so than Aziraphale. I'm endlessly fascinated.)

Edited at 2010-05-26 11:48 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: sheerpoetry
2010-05-26 11:57 pm (UTC)

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Az has it in him to fight back, even if quietly. ;)

In that case, I'll say another few.

Amazingly, he is, which I'm rediscovering. And with some deep-seated issues. But never stop pushing them; it always works fabulously!
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-05-27 12:07 am (UTC)

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They are my chief definition of world without end.
[User Picture]From: todd_fan
2010-05-27 12:29 am (UTC)

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This was a very poignant and well written ficlet. I think I'm going to sit back and let this sink in well. It's very deep thought stuff. Well done!
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-05-27 04:58 am (UTC)

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Thank you :)
[User Picture]From: ineptshieldmaid
2010-05-27 12:50 am (UTC)

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Oh *wow*.

I've utterly failed to get the reference here, so I'm missing several pieces, but the characterization of Crowley is gorgeous.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-05-27 04:58 am (UTC)

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Forgive me for cutting and pasting a response I gave to someone else above, as I've got to be on a train in less than an hour:

In the book, Aziraphale "heals" Anathema's bike when Crowley hits her with the Bentley, because "can't resist the opportunity to do a good deed." Crowley brings the pigeon that Aziraphale smushed up the sleeve of his magician's coat back to life. They're using those incidents to snipe at each other - so why didn't you save her, then?

Thank you, in any case!
[User Picture]From: linda3m
2010-05-27 12:56 am (UTC)

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Amazing writing. I love the way you get inside Crowley's head.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-05-27 04:58 am (UTC)

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He's my favorite ball of stress. Thank you!
[User Picture]From: icarus_chained
2010-05-27 01:04 pm (UTC)

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*blinks* Well, that was a sucker punch to the heart, anyway. *aches* Ow. Oh Crowley.

And then Aziraphale said, softly and somehow entirely without malice:

"Would it have helped if she'd been a bird?"


Really ow. I love it, that it is without malice, but so very, very ow. Oh babies.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-06-02 11:09 pm (UTC)

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*hugs*

Yeah, I always sort of hate myself after writing pieces where I put them through the wringer/nearly kill them/ et al. Glad you enjoyed this; thank you!
[User Picture]From: amberdiceless
2010-05-28 09:30 pm (UTC)

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Well, I understood the references immediately. Poor woobies, and the poor girl. :/
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-06-02 11:09 pm (UTC)

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Yeah - I tried not to think terribly hard about her name, who she was, etc. But maybe I should have :(
[User Picture]From: ladymouse2
2010-05-29 04:58 am (UTC)

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You never fail to elicit the most visceral response to a story of yours whether tender, amusing or as this one, lancet sharp.

>Actually, Crowley wasn't certain how many of any of those he'd actually seen.<

Yes, well, this is a demon who probably needed a nightlight after the first time he'd spied on an "inquiry" by the Inquisition in the bowels of some dungeon.

>a pair of glassy blank eyes staring up at Crowley. Blood on the headlights. Brains on the pavement.<

You convey so much so succinctly, I think it actually evokes an extra shiver!

>"Good gracious!" Aziraphale's arm tightened on Crowley's. "That could've been..."<

>"Could it really, angel?" Crowley asked, stealing one last glance.

He took a shaky breath. Whoosh. They were gone.<

And it's Crowley who miracles them instantly away from the scene(or whatever the equivalent it is that demons do). And it's Crowley, nerves plucked in the upper harmonics by what he hadn't time to blink at, who is the one to throw the first barb--sheer nerves.

And nerves still vibrating, he can't deal with Aziraphale's temporizing tone and slips out the unforgivable cut.

But as much as Aziraphale is actually better at distancing and the demon is still raw under the scar tissue of his fall, the angel too is goaded into playing the blame game...for an intervention not made.

It's comforting to know Crowley's home is >(much more lived-in than it had once been)< I imagine they would have practiced some cohabiting before they took up that cottage on the Downs that Gaiman postulates. After all, these two had moved to their dance of friendship and intimacy on a glacial schedule over millennia.

>I'm revoking my writing rights for the time being<

Don't you dare!

These two have exchanged some spite in the brittle, shamed aftermath of a mutual flashback. Like other veterans of wars the same shared experience that gives them such barbed arrows to use also gives them the bonding to get past them. I suspect it's not the first such incident nor will be the last. It's the rest of the past that matters.

And that too, you hint at all through this piece; the paradoxical double image, something you particularly excel at.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-06-02 11:11 pm (UTC)

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Crowley during the Inquisition is a story I've been wanting to write for a long time, but have not yet been able to work up the nerve to do so for...well, obvious reasons, I think. Also, Crowley's mental tic about the 14th century is another tempting, yet dangerous possibility (14th c. in England = BLACK DEATH, so I have to wonder if that was intentional on Neil's and Terry's part, or merely a random century that just happens to work out as, in my mind, one of Crowley's nightmares...)

Thank you very much.
[User Picture]From: ladymouse2
2010-05-30 05:59 am (UTC)

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Lady, I came to the most recent GO fic from Lower Tadfield so hadn't gotten your other recent posts about your father's frightening situation.

I am sorrier than I can say. That you are struggling with your PhD defense imminently besides this crisis is just further proof timing is naturally malicious.

At least you certainly have grounds for a reschedule of that so your focus can be given wholly to being there for your dad and family. We can't physically be there for you, but know that you have a good many people, I'm sure, praying for you and yours and sending every good thought they can.

You said you were getting ready for a train, I hope the holiday weekend presents you no additional hassles and that you travel safely to and from in your upset condition.

Many hugs.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-06-02 11:14 pm (UTC)

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I'm determined not to reschedule, because we had so much trouble arriving at the current date (a week from Monday next week) as it is! It had to be a date on which all three of us - that is, my internal examiner, my external examiner, and myself - were available, and it seemed as if June 14 was the only possible day at any time this summer. Dad's in good spirits and recovering well from the first round of removals, and we're still waiting on a full path report. It could be some days yet before we get that.

*hugs* Thanks, too, for this.
[User Picture]From: ida_pea
2010-07-31 05:19 pm (UTC)

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Wow. I know this is a very late comment, but I'm not on LJ much these days. Poor demon. :( This was pretty powerful.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-07-31 05:39 pm (UTC)

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Thanks. I was in a right state the day I wrote this, so I'm sure I know why I picked the angle I did.
[User Picture]From: mysterypoet66
2010-11-28 05:19 pm (UTC)

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Love this as a very dark perspective on the canon events.
Then again, my entire take on GO is that the bones of it are quite dark, indeed. The satirical bent of it, just makes the points hit home without causing too much damage to the reader.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-11-28 08:59 pm (UTC)

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my entire take on GO is that the bones of it are quite dark, indeed. The satirical bent of it, just makes the points hit home without causing too much damage to the reader.

This is the heart of it all. If you understand that, I think there's nothing about it otherwise you can possibly miss. I've met too many people who read GO as just straight comedy, and that's when it falls flat.
[User Picture]From: mysterypoet66
2010-11-28 10:08 pm (UTC)

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I typically get the, "So, it's The Omen, but funny. What?"
At which point I simply facepalm out of sheer frustration. Not that it's uncommon globally, but I do find that in the US, there is a profound lack of understanding of satire/dark humour.

*sigh* Which really makes me weep for American scholarship of English literature. Of course Shakespeare is funny, even as people are dying, as is Dickens, and Austen is as tart a wit as ever was born.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2010-11-29 06:24 am (UTC)

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Although GO does seem to be just as popular in the US as here, so I'll count that as some small victory.