This chapter has some musings on life, God and the afterlife. I apologise to anyone who might be offended by what I've written - I don't really see how it could be offensive, but then I'm an atheist an so that kind of thing is probably beyond me.
The quotation is from the novel "We" by Yevgeny Zamyatin. It's a rather interesting dystopian novel, and one which I recommend that people read. You can easily find a copy online (in English) for free.
I've also paraphrased a line from "The End of the Affair" by Graham Greene. Kudos to anyone who can spot which line it is.
I welcome any discussion on what I have written, but please don't flame me for it.
A Russian author had once written that "Knowledge, absolutely sure of its infallibility, is faith."
Sherlock, as he lay awake in bed that night, thought that that sentence was applicable to him. He had thought - he had believed
- that he had known everything, but he was wrong.
Sherlock had always believed only in things that he could see, that he could touch and smell and taste and hear. And Sherlock saw more than other people, far more. He had thought that everything he saw was correct, because there was no one on this planet (save for Mycroft, if his brother ever had the motivation to do so) that could possibly deceive him.
But now a brave new world had been revealed to Sherlock - several new worlds, if Willow was to be believed. Worlds where what Sherlock saw wasn't necessarily what was happening, where what he was seeing was impossible, beyond the laws of physics.
But Sherlock could accept that. It was a challenge. It would take him time, but he was sure that sooner or later he would be able to apply his not inconsiderable observational talent to the supernatural world, and be sure that what he was seeing was the correct version of events.
No, what bothered Sherlock was the world beyond the physical. The afterlife, he supposed.
Vampires had no souls, Willow had said (Well, she'd actually said that vampires generally have no souls, but she hadn't expanded on that). Sherlock had never believed in souls, in life after death. He'd seen killers murder people without remorse, seen families clinging desperately to their religion in the hopes that the victim would be rewarded in Heaven, or whatever their religion's equivalent was.
Sherlock had always found it easier just to let them go. The victim had been a son, a mother, a sister, whatever, but now the victim was nothing, just meat.
Sherlock believed that this life was all anyone had, and that was partly why he was so frustrated that no one made use of it, that most of it passed people by, that everyone just frittered it away on mundane activities and never did anything actually interesting
But, if there were souls, then there must be a heaven and a hell. In fact, Willow had said that Sunnydale was on the mouth of Hell, or at least one of a numerous quantity of Hells. And Buffy had died and gone to heaven...
It didn't fit Sherlock's rules. There was no life after death, there was no god, no devil. Just the things humans did. And, apparently, the things that demons and vampires did, which was more or less the same.
If Sherlock was honest with himself (which he always was) then he would admit that he didn't really care. So there were souls. So there was heaven, and there was hell. What did it matter, really? It wasn't going to change the way Sherlock lived. He wasn't going to go to church, to pray to a god. He might be on the side of the angels, but that didn't mean that Sherlock was one.
Sherlock would be the first to admit he was a sociopath. In fact, he already had. He just didn't care for social norms, and he certainly wasn't going to change his ways to conform to some unknown criteria that would get him into heaven, which would in all probability be as boring as Earth was most of the time. Who wanted eternal bliss anyway?
John had been Catholic. He had even been to a Jesuit school.
But after what he'd seen in Afghanistan... there couldn't be a god that could allow the kind of things that he'd seen there. And even if there was, if there was a god who would allow men to die in the horrific and prolonged manner that he had seen, then it wasn't the kind of god that John could worship.
But Sherlock had told John that there were souls, and hell (several hells!) and even a heaven. Surely all of that meant that there had to be a god? If there were demons, then was there Satan? If there was Satan, then was there God?
But, even if there was, did it change anything? Did it really make a difference? If there was a life after this one, would John really change his life to suit the whims of a god who would allow wholesale slaughter and genocide?
No. John sure as hell (any hell you care to name) wasn't going to start going to church to save his soul. If there was a god, then John would let his deeds, his life, speak for itself.
John was the kind of fiery atheist that was the next best thing to a believer. He hated God as though he existed.
Oddly enough, this epiphany of sorts made John feel a lot better. Not enough to get to sleep, though. So he got up to make some tea.
John wasn't unduly surprised when, moments later, Sherlock appeared, clad in a dressing gown.
"Couldn't sleep?" said John conversationally as he waited for the kettle to boil.
"Evidently." Sherlock replied, sitting at the table.
"It is rather a lot to take in." John commented.
"Oh, witches, demons and vampires explain rather a lot, actually. Like how someone can walk into a cul-de-sac and not come out." Sherlock said. "Make me a cup too, will you?"
"Sure." John said, filling the teapot. "But I didn't mean the things that go bump in the night. Don't get me wrong, it creeps me out that there's demons and stuff walking around, but I can live with that. I mean, it's not like they're all that different from the killers you catch." John said, although he didn't add or the soldiers that I saw die
"No, it's the other stuff, isn't it?" Sherlock agreed. "The metaphysical..."
John nodded, and was about to speak when Sherlock's mobile rang. John looked at his wrist, before remembering that he'd removed his watch before going to bed. So he looked at the clock on the wall instead. "Who's calling you at 2:30 in the morning?" asked John incredulously.
"Mycroft." Sherlock replied shortly, looking at the caller ID. He didn't take the call.
"Aren't you going to answer that?" John asked, curious as to why Sherlock's brother would be calling him at such an early hour.
"No. If its important, then he can text me." Sherlock replied. Then his phone buzzed. Mycroft had
texted him, which was unusual. Mycroft never texted if he could speak. It had to be urgent.
The message said I need to speak to you, Sherlock. If you won't take the call, may I visit you? MH
Sherlock thought for a moment before replying Yes. But don't wake Mrs Hudson. SH
A moment later there was a knock at the door. "Ah, that'll be Mycroft." Sherlock said brightly to the puzzled John. "If you would be so kind as to get the door, John?"
Upon opening the door, Mycroft breezed in, dressed in an immaculate suit and carrying an umberella, as usual.
"Please, come in, make yourself at home." said John sourly, shutting the door.
Mycroft took no notice and seated himself opposite his brother. "What have you been up to, Sherlock?" he asked, without preamble.
"What do you mean?" Sherlock asked warily. Mycroft's mind was as sharp as his own - sharper, if he ever bothered to use it.
"I've been bombarded with questions from powerful people - some very
powerful people, Sherlock - all day. They all want to know about you. So tell me, brother, what have you been up to?" Mycroft demanded.
"What did they want to know?" Sherlock asked, curious. He wasn't playing for time - although he had told Willow that he wouldn't tell anyone but John, and Sherlock planned to honour that deal, he had no doubt that Mycroft already knew about the supernatural world. There was simply no way that a global demon-hunting organization could escape the notice of at least one government. Something like that had to be something that a government would share, and Mycroft, practically being the British government, would definitely know about it.
"Amongst other things, they want to know whether you have magic, and if you're entirely human. So you've evidently come to someone's attention, Sherlock, and I'd like you to tell me why." Mycroft replied tersely.
"What, you know about that?" exclaimed John, who hadn't made the same logical conclusion that Sherlock had.
"Evidently." Mycroft replied, not even looking at the doctor. "Well, Sherlock?"
"I broke into the Wyndam-Pryce Academy." Sherlock answered.
"And they let you go?" asked Mycroft incredulously. "What on Earth did you say to them, Sherlock?"
Sherlock frowned. "Don't pretend you don't already know, Mycroft. I'm sure that these very powerful people you mention told you everything that happened - you probably found out about it before I even got home. You're just trying to find out what I'm going to do next."
Mycroft dropped the agitated appearance he'd had since he'd walked in. "I know I didn't give anything away. You must've guessed."
Sherlock shrugged. "You're my brother, Mycroft. I didn't have to guess."
Mycroft stared at his brother before saying "Sherlock, these are dangerous people. They've got dangerous enemies. If you get caught in the crossfire, you'll die. Or maybe something even worse. So, Sherlock, tell me what you're going to do. Because I don't want to see you dead. Or a vampire."
Sherlock leant forward. "You want to know what I'm going to do?" he said, quietly.
"Nothing. I'm going to do absolutely nothing. Because I don't have to do anything. Sooner or later, whoever killed that Slayer's going to strike again. And they'll bring me in, because I am a Consulting Detective. Then I'll find the killer. So, brother, there's no need to worry about me."
"You're mad." Mycroft said, softly. "You've known about this would for less than a day, and you think you can find a magical killer? You won't stand a chance."
Sherlock just smiled. He didn't bother to say that he already thought he knew who did it. He knew that Mycroft could see it in his body language, just as John couldn't.
Mycroft stood up abruptly. "Very well." he said shortly "Carry on with this madness. You won't find anything."
Sherlock didn't answer.
That night, Willow woke up, got out of bed and headed over to her computer. She opened the register containing the names of every Slayer currently attending the Wyndam-Pryce Academy, and scrolled through it until she hit upon a name at random.
Then Willow walked into her bathroom and turned on her tap. She waited until she the basin was full of water, then said a single word.
The water in the basin congealed, forming a perfect sphere. "Go." Willow said, holding the image of the young Slayer she had chosen at random in the forefront of her mind. "Go and kill her."
The ball of water floated into the air, squeezed itself through Willow's keyhole and floated off down the corridor. The Slayer would be dead by sunrise.
Willow laughed softly to herself, before going back to bed.
When Willow woke up in the morning, she wouldn't remember what she had done.