So I wrote Preacher fic. Preacher/Margaret Atwood fic. I surprise even myself sometimes.
Warning: This is a Preacher fic that includes a character created by Margaret Atwood and it has been written by an irreligious atheist. People of delicate religious sensibilities should avoid this story. Don't even start reading it, basically. In Preacher (and this story) God Is Not Nice.
Setting: This story is set directly after the Preacher TPB #7: Salvation Texas. I borrowed these TPBs from a friend who ran out at this point. I, literally, have absolutely no idea what happens to Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy or the Lord after Jesse leaves Salvation and goes looking for Tulip. So it's AU but I don't know how AU. It fits in directly after he leaves and before he finds them.
Rating: I'd say R for bad words and non-canon religious themes (and yes,
that was an appalling pun
Disclaimer: Jesse Custer and his associates belong to Garth Ennis, Steve
Dillon and Vertigo Comics. The Angel of Suicide belongs to Margaret Atwood
and can be found in a story called An Angel in her anthology Good Bones.
The very, very strange mind that brought them together belongs to me.
Profiting from this is so far beyond the ken of mortal men that I really
don't think anyone needs to worry about suing me.
Disclaimer: Jesse Custer and his associates belong to Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon and Vertigo Comics. The Angel of Suicide belongs to Margaret Atwood and can be found in a story called An Angel in her anthology Good Bones. The very, very strange mind that brought them together belongs to me. Profiting from this is so far beyond the ken of mortal men that I really don't think anyone needs to worry about suing me.
By Amanda Sichter
In the beginning were The Words.
And The Words were, 'Drop the guns, all of you and let us go.'
And Jesse Custer found out he had been given The Word Of God.
And he was mightily pissed.
And he went looking for The Lord God with the sworn intention of kicking the shit right out of the motherfucker. And he had Tulip, his best girl, with him and Cassidy, his best friend, along too but he'd lost them along the way and found himself in a place called Salvation. He'd done a little of the Salvation thing himself and kissed a girl as pretty as the stars at night, but he hadn't done no more than that because he was going to find Tulip again and keep his vow to love her til the end of the earth. And then he was going to catch up with The Lord and just maybe the end of the earth would be a whole lot sooner than most people expected.
* * * * *
In the beginning was The Word.
And The Word was, 'Despair.'
And the Angel of Suicide fell from Heaven.
* * * * *
He was in a diner in a town best described as Bugfuck, Idaho, when he saw her for the first time. He didn't know where he was. He didn't know where Cassidy and Tulip were either. All he was doing was a following a trail long cold and wishing he'd walked into that diner how many months ago instead of walking away. Sure, saving a town from a mad meat-fucker and his Hitler-worshipping dominatrix lawyer gave a guy a warm feeling, but if he'd played it right he could have been with Tulip instead and she was a girl who *really* knew how to give Jesse Custer a warm feeling.
He was mulling over where to go next when he saw her. Him first. Him, who walked into the road as calmly as could be and placed himself very squarely and very deliberately in the path of the bus, a bus going from Somewhere to Somewhere and therefore going very fast through Bugfuck, Idaho indeed. In the moment before the bus hit, Jesse saw her.
Wings. White wings and glorious. Wings that made you believe. No more than that - just a suggestion of mass and darkness behind wings that would make you weep for their beauty. Then the wings enfolded him and wrapped him tight, fell through him as the bus hit, snagged something free of the body and were gone.
Jesse Custer knew he had just seen an angel.
Jesse Custer hated angels.
* * * * *
The second time he saw her was in a larger town with another name, a place where Jesse was spending his time trying to find out whether the guy who'd had his throat ripped out in a bar-brawl had really had it taken out by a broken beer bottle or whether he'd met America's only living Irish vampire.
He hadn't even been in the middle of it, which considering Jesse's history was kind of surprising. Skeeter had loped around the corner and barked wildly and by the time Jesse had followed it had nearly been over. The man holding onto the gun and the woman was wild-eyed and sweating and the cop facing him was much the same and shaking like a leaf as well. Jesse went to draw breath and use the Word but before he could say a thing, he saw her again.
Wings like silk and fire, wings as all-encompassing as pain. Dark mass inside and belief, beckoning belief. For a moment the man's eyes widened and then he flung the woman sideways, aimed at the cop and was dead before her wings swept through him and were gone.
Jesse had seen angels before. Chained angels, changed angels. She - she was something different. Not the Angel of Death because the Saint of Killers had said that angel was male. Not a corporeal angel, walking the earth by the Will of God. But an angel nonetheless and if he could catch an angel it just might know where the Lord God was hiding his sorry ass.
* * * * *
The third time he saw her he was sitting on a bridge. A tall bridge in a quiet place over a raging torrent. Jesse Custer was a smart man and it hadn't really taken him that long to work out where she might appear.
The man standing on the edge of the bridge had been startled when he had seen Jesse there, then fearful. 'Don't try and stop me,' he had warned, his fingers white as they gripped the railing at the edge.
Jesse's smile was supposed to be reassuring although, in the circumstances, it wasn't surprising that it was a total failure. 'No plans to,' he said. 'Go right ahead,' and waved casually over the definitely impressive drop to the canyon below.
Still casting suspicious glances at him, the man climbed up onto the railing, teetered precariously, looked to the sky and the water below and seemed to be having second thoughts.
And then she was there.
White wings like sails, gleaming in the sun. Darkness inside them and from them the fatal call, the soft song calling him downwards, drawing him onwards.
'Stay,' said Jesse and it was the Word of God.
He would have obliged, really he would. No-one disobeyed the Word of God if they could. Unfortunately, the law of gravity had got its bid in first and he didn't have an option. Jesse watched in philosophical discontent as his body plummeted away but found his gaze drawn back up, drawn to the wings.
She struggled, he could see that, the wings quivering as if she was caught in a net, feathers shivering as she tried to disobey his command, but she did not move. He could not see her, couldn't see anything behind the curtain of white fire.
Then she curved them at him, great masses of feathers like none he had ever seen, shimmering at him. Shimmering belief, siren song, dark call. 'Believe,' the wings whispered to him. 'Believe in the dark and the quiet places. Believe in the silence and the end of clamour. Believe in the peace of the ending and fall. Fall or burn or bleed or sleep or hang or drown, but die. Die into the peace and the night and be no more. Fall. Fall.'
Jesse Custer laughed. 'You obviously never met my grandma,' he said, equably. 'If I could survive her and her clan, no angel is going to make me fall.'
The wings fell back slightly but curved still so he could not see her face. 'Who are you?' asked Jesse but there was only silence and the faint siren call of her wings, muted now.
After a few seconds he was decidedly irritated and irritating Jesse was never a good idea. 'Show me,' he said and it was the Word.
Her wings fell back and away and he looked upon the face of an angel who fell. She shone with a dark light, her body not light and white like the angels on Hallmark cards but dense, heavy with antimatter, as beautiful and terrible as a dark star. Her eyes were empty holes, as they always were with angels, holes that saw everything. But other than that her face was featureless, worn smooth by the friction of her long fall, smooth as an egg and grey. She had fallen and she wore the scars of the fall still.
'A fallen angel,' Jesse whispered and the featureless face inclined slightly as if in answer. 'Not the Angel of Death. The Angel of Suicide.'
She didn't answer, did not agree or disagree.
'Why do you do it?' he asked. 'Why do you kill them?'
She did not answer and he wondered suddenly if she even had a mouth. Someone else might have cared but Jesse Custer *really* didn't like angels.
'Tell me,' he said and the Word echoed in the canyon.
A split opened in the grey egg of her face, a ragged-edged thing where a mouth was now if there had been none before. 'You speak with the Word of the Lord,' said the Angel of Suicide. 'And you ask why I do this? You are a fool, Jesse Custer.' Her voice was rusty with disuse.
'You know my name?' he asked, startled.
'We all know your name,' she said scornfully. 'You are the bearer of Genesis. You bear Heaven and Hell inside you. You are the end of the world and the beginning. The Saint of Killers did not destroy you. Of course we know you.'
'I didn't realise angels gossiped,' said Jesse but the Angel did not answer him, turning her terrible beauty away from him, her wings shuddering against her back as if they longed to fly away.
'Let me go.' She whispered the plea, as if she could not believe in mercy.
'To do what?' asked Jesse sharply. 'To kill more people?'
'I do not kill them,' she said. 'They kill themselves. I just come when they call and make them believe.'
'Believe in what?'
'In the dark places,' she said. 'In the peace and the silence of death. In the letting go.' The song of her wings rose again, tugged at his soul for a moment, drifted away. 'I do not tell them about Hell.'
'They all go to Hell?' Jesse whispered, and there was horror there.
The Angel matched his horror, surpassed it. Her voice was the cry of the damned, all the worse for her lack of expression. 'The Lord made the rules, Jesse Custer. Read your Book. Suicides go to Hell and I am the one who takes them there.'
Jesse had seen despair in his time, had been inside it sometimes, but he had never felt anything like the waves that came from the Angel of Suicide. 'But why?' he asked.
She shrugged. 'Ask the Lord. You seek Him. When you find Him, ask Him for me. I was an angel. Just an angel. We were so innocent before men. Before the Fall. But when He thought to make men, He made death and He made despair and He chose me to carry it. I am Despair, born of it, made of it, *wallowing* in it. He made my wings carry it.' The last was said fiercely as if it was the last outrage, the final straw. 'I was an angel.' It was a cry, torn from her breast with a ferocity Jesse barely understood. Some vague understanding came to him, perhaps from Genesis, a sense of the innocence, the joy of the unburdened angels, the others, the ones who did not fall.
'So you fell,' he said.
Empty eyes looked at him. 'Did I?' she asked.
'Or you jumped,' he said but she did not answer. Instead she spread her wings wide, sat herself on the railing so they perched side by side over the long fall. She looked downwards and Jesse followed her gaze, saw the body far below.
'I have his soul still,' she said. 'He rests inside me, quiet, peaceful. He thought he despaired but he did not. Not until he called me, until he saw me. I carry Despair in my wings, in all that I am. And when you are done with me I shall take him to Hell and we shall scour his sin from him, flay it out of him, burn him and feed his sin back to him in vitriol until the end of days.'
'Why?' asked Jesse, horrified.
'It is the Lord's plan,' replied the Angel. 'The suicides are sinners, cast from His gaze. They did not love Him enough to keep the life He gave them and so He sends them willingly to Hell.'
'Then stop doing it,' Jesse said quietly.
She laughed, crystal falling from a high, cold place onto stone. 'It is not that easy,' she said.
'Then - Stop,' said Jesse and it was the Word.
She turned her terrible beauty to him and from her empty sockets leaked Despair, freezing him, burning him. 'I was Commanded,' she said. 'I was Made. You equal the Lord but you do not surpass Him. You cannot Command to stop what he Commanded me to do.'
'What can I do?' he asked, an empty vessel suddenly, unable to Command, filling with the bleakness she exuded, her wings whispering to him to believe.
'Kill me,' she said.
He wanted to, so suddenly, so fiercely that he wondered whether it was her wings, or if her Despair was destroying his will to resist. But he flinched back from the idea, shocked beyond reason, remembering the pain that some felt, the necessity of sweet release from life when the world had eaten all of your hope. 'You are necessary,' he said, with a mouth gone dry.
'She calls to me,' said the Angel.
'What?' said Jesse uncertainly, surprised.
'Your Tulip,' said the Angel. 'She calls to me. She wants the peace and the dark. If you do not kill me, Jesse Custer, I will go to her.'
Pain like knives ran through him, drove breath from his lungs, doubled him over. 'No,' he shook his head, animal-dumb. 'No! Not Tulip. Not my Tulip. Cassidy - oh, Lord, what has he done?'
'Ask the Lord when you see him,' replied the Angel. 'You would have been with her but for Him. He took you away from her. He gave her to Cassidy. Ask the Lord why.' He looked up at her from his twisted position, slowly made sense of her words. She leaned in towards him and breathed her Despair on him. 'And ask Him why He made me into this.' Her wings shook behind her, whispering of the dark. 'But if you do not kill me now, I shall take your Tulip to Hell.'
'You fell,' Jesse croaked, barely aware of what he was saying. 'You chose.'
She laughed again, ice shattering in snow caves. 'No,' she said. 'I was Pushed.'
'Die,' said Jesse and he had never used the Word so fiercely.
She was a falling angel, plummeting downwards, soft-hard skin melting, antimatter sloughing, a dark star falling and her wings were burning, fire trailing backwards as her feathers burned and dwindled and she fell in on herself, so by the time she reached the canyon floor she was nothing but strands of ash drifting in the breeze.
Jesse watched her fall and, as her wings crisped away into nothing, Despair fell from him and was replaced by something far harder, far more dangerous. He would scour Heaven and Hell and the earth to its ends to find Tulip if he had to; he would kill every angel there was to save her. He didn't need to make any vows to the Angel of Suicide to kick the ass of the Lord because he was doing that from here to Revelations as soon as he got the sick, sorry motherfucker in his sights.
But first he was going to find his girl and he was going to save her.
Even if he had to kill his best friend to do it.