|Love Me Tender
Author: tomato-greens PM
Watch out, Las Vegas, here Lower Tadfield comes! Two weddings, one de jure and one de facto. PG13. AC, canonical pairings, and the Them star.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 3,376 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 4 - Published: 01-08-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4000964
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Written for meredydd for the 2007 GO Exchange on LiveJournal! Unfortunately, is being a loser and I can't HTML my italics in, but I hope you enjoy it anyway. It can be found in its best form on my personal eljay under the tag "good omens."
Aziraphale picked up the envelope––cream, with delicate scalloped edges and a subtly golden script picking out his address––with considerable distaste.
"What is it?" asked Crowley, who was practicing nonchalance over in the corner by a particularly stubborn group of Biggles books that refused to sell(1).
"I'm not sure," Aziraphale replied, but it looked awfully like one of Heaven's rare missives.
He carefully cut the envelope with the sword-shaped letter-opener Crowley had gotten him, grinning ironically, three Christmases ago. It had been dull at the time, but once it reached his hand it ballooned and, to everyone's embarrassment, started flaming right then and there.
(It had taken several talkings-to before it went down to size, and Crowley still couldn't get the hang of lifting it without slicing a finger. Aziraphale had always been the better swordsman.)
The angel unfolded the heavy paper inside with a preemptive wince; Crowley, seeing Aziraphale's face, fell over and ducked behind the bookshelf.
"Oh!" Aziraphale exclaimed when a Heavenly beam failed to erupt from the depths of the letter. "How lovely!"
Crowley called from his protected area, "What is it?" in the tones of someone who knows he is shortly going to be mortified.
"Anathema and Newt are getting married."
"Marriage, nuptials, matrimony, wedded bliss––"
"All right, angel, we haven't all swallowed our thesauruses, you know," Crowley said irritably (2).
"My dear, we've been invited," said Aziraphale happily.
"You've been invited, you mean. I'm sure they wouldn't want a demon fouling the ceremonies, would they?" He straightened up and, nonchalantly, strolled to the open part of the shop where Aziraphale was inspecting the mail.
"No, you're mentioned, too––you're on the invitation." He pointed to the personalized letter, which was evidently written with soy ink on recycled paper. "And, now that I look closer, the envelope, too. Funny I didn't see that before."
"Why didn't she send me one, then?"
They looked at each other in sudden horror.
"She wouldn't think," Crowley began.
"No. She couldn't. We hardly act as though we're––"
"Yeah, the lack of, you know, sexua––"
"Not that I don't care for you, my dear," Aziraphale said loudly, "but I just don't think of you in that way."
"Never," Crowley said, and both gave an identical shudder at the thought. "Hey, wait," he continued, "you didn't say it was going to be in America."
"It isn't," Aziraphale said. "It said, right there, Lower Tadfield––"
But Crowley was shaking his head, and when the angel looked closer, the address was, indeed, in America.
"How strange," Aziraphale said. "You don't suppose they invited a certain Antichrist, do you?"
"People bein' messed around," said Crowley, "but I wouldn't be surprised."
"I'd think he'd know better than that," Aziraphale sighed, but neither were sure. Thirty-nine kinds of ice cream are awfully tempting.
"Anyway, we're not going," Crowley said. "Right?"
"You said we didn't have to go!"
"I never did," said Aziraphale, nervously straightening his tie. He didn't like airports; all that gratuitous submission to the laws of physics made him uncomfortable. But it was either that or, well, fly, and as his life in London did not often lend itself to the skies, he was rather out of practice.
"One snap of the fingers," Crowley said mutinously, but Aziraphale shushed him with a gentle hand on the arm. Crowley was strangely childish, even vulnerable, and Aziraphale longed to calm him, to brush the stylish hair from his forehead like he had on the one terrible occasion in 1789 when Crowley had neglected to remove the alcohol from his blood stream and inadvertently started the French Revolution (3).
But he kept his hands to himself, busying them with duty-free chocolates until it was time to present their boarding passes and get to their seats; first class, of course. Aziraphale had been set to argue in the name of temperance and frugality until Crowley reminded him of the free drinks.
"Oh. Right," he'd said, failing to hide a grin behind his manicured hand.
"Angel," said Crowley, shaking his shoulder. "Angel! Snap out of it. Do you want anything?"
The stewardess, pushing a heavy cart in front of her, looked at them with widening eyes; then she smiled doubly wide. "Sirs, I can list our wines if you'd like . . . ."
"Bloody stereotypes," said Crowley, but Aziraphale motioned for the woman to go on and eventually chose an unambitious but tasty red for the both of them.
"Maybe I didn't want that," Crowley said, pushing at the plastic cup with an unenthusiastic finger.
"Of course you did," Aziraphale replied. "Drink up."
The wine was rather surprised as it was turned unceremoniously into a Chateau Lafite. "American slag," he said when he took a sip. "Doesn't even miracle right."
He abandoned it in disgust and looked out the window instead, fidgeting with the shade. He had let Aziraphale onto the plane first, a perfect picture of chivalry, but hurried ahead to get the window seat. The angel looked surreptitiously into his glass and wiggled his fingers over it. It wasn't quite the water-into-wine trick, but . . . .
"Grows on you," Crowley said, clearly surprised, when he took a second sip out of pure habit. "You're up to something," he continued as Aziraphale once again covered his mouth with a hand, but let it go in favor of the excellent view of England's most boring sheep fields.
"I'll leave the plotting up to you, dear boy," he said, with a particularly divine smile. "I don't think I've the head for it."
Crowley snorted, but didn't look away from the window. As his silence got longer and longer, Aziraphale feared he didn't believe in the angel's innocence; but when he patted Crowley on the shoulder, all he heard was a tiny, uncomfortable sound from somewhere in the back of Crowley's nose. The demon had fallen asleep with his forehead plastered to the window.
Aziraphale eased him back and tucked a pillow under his head, and Crowley, oh, he was the luckiest demon in the world, for he dreamed of whatever he liked best.
The plane landed first in New York; the two spent four hours awkwardly wandering around the stuffed airport and another two getting investigated by the surprisingly tight security.
"Why did you have to wear those shoes, angel?" Crowley hissed as the guards finally realized it was that very pair that had caused the metal detectors to go wild. He had been fine with the idea of slipping past––after all, in Crowley's world, reservations are for other people, and so are other hassles––but the angel had flatly refused. Crowley, thinking of the damage Aziraphale's Englishness could do, had finally decided to go along.
He was beginning to regret it, really.
"They're comfortable!" Azirphale said indignantly. "Besides, not all of us are as lucky as you to be so naturally equipped."
"Oh, shut up," Crowley said irritably. He felt like a wire about to snap, wrung out and sunburned, though his skin was as pale as ever.
"Never," said Azirphale, and turned to smile at him. It was a strange little smile that Crowley hadn't seen very often before. He had never quite deciphered what it meant, but this time, he felt a shiver creep down his spine and felt he was missing something.
"I can't believe Newt decided to have his wedding here, of all places," Aziraphale said.
"I can't believe Anathema agreed," said Crowley.
"Neither can I, at that."
"At that, indeed. Lights and prostitutes everywhere, though; I approve."
"Dear boy, you're disgusting."
Crowley laughed and took Aziraphale's tweed-clad arm in his own rather more suave one. "Come on," he said. "Let's not miss out on the fun."
Aziraphale sighed, but followed without too much reluctance. It would be like Crowley to enjoy Las Vegas. After all, he was a demon.
The man brushed his cowlick back. The day, he felt, was going to be a good one.
"You're here!" he said, looking unusually gangly.
"Ah, yes, Newt," said Aziraphale, avoiding Newt's outstretched arms but patting his hand kindly.
Newt looked at Crowley expectantly before lowering his arms in shame. "We, uh, didn't think you'd make it after the whole . . . you know, fiasco down at the plant––can't exactly remember what it was, haha, you know technology, always changing, a man has to be on the forefront––"
Crowley cleared his throat. He'd put his sunglasses back on; Aziraphale had removed them simply because "It is Las Vegas, my dear, no one will notice."(4)
"Aha, yes," said Newt, and his Adam's apple bobbed with all the nervous sincerity of a teenaged boy. "She's so glad you're here," he said. At the two level looks directed in his direction, he continued, "And I am too, of course. Of course."
"Of course," Aziraphale muttered, then looked at the hotel behind him. "She wanted a Christmas wedding, then?"
"Not quite," said Newt. "She, ah, liked the irony."
There were a few seconds of unease.
"So," said Aziraphale, "this is where everyone's staying?"
"Yes," said Newt.
"Bit seedy, isn't, angel?" asked Crowley.
Newt cleared his throat uncomfortably.
"Anything's seedy when you're around, dear," said Aziraphale. "Mind if go inside?"
Newt thought he sounded a bit pointed. "Yes, of course," he said. "We got you a room together, don't worry––"
"She does!" Crowley said. "She really does."
"For lack of a more delicate word, ugh," said Aziraphale.
"Should I show you?" asked Newt, trying to edge his way into their conversation.
"No, I'm sure we can find it ourselves," Aziraphale said, rather kindly.
Crowley looked over his glasses at Newt, who felt his whole body freeze in fear, or maybe something else.
"We're all adults, after all," said Crowley.
"Ah, yes," said Newt. "Right. Stop in at the front desk, then."
It took a good ten minutes and too many odd stares for his own comfort before he was able to loosen up again.
"Nice place," said Crowley.
"There's no need for that," the angel replied. "Sarcasm is, after all, the lowest form of wit."
"So how long have you kept your addiction to One Hundred Most Used Oscar Wilde Quotes (5) a secret?"
"My dear," Aziraphale said disapprovingly.
"Er," Crowley said, taking off his sunglasses.
They went about unpacking their few things in a silence that was not exactly uncomfortable. Soon the tension was gone: after six thousand years, it's hard to keep a grudge.
"Put them here," Aziraphale said, taking them from his pale hands and smiling that strange smile once again. "Keeps them from dropping."
Crowley looked at him, then looked outside. He felt thin and stretched; tired.
"I think I'll take a nap," he said.
"All right," the angel said mildly. "I'll wake you in time to leave."
"Rehearsal dinners, of course. Tradition."
Crowley rather thought traditions were overrated, but he supposed there had been worse things, and at least this one involved free food.
The man put on his suit. It was a little tight after all these years, but the zippers still closed. He patted the white fringe and smiled.
"So then," Crowley said, "so then he says, 'And what about the drills!'"
"It was funnier in Enochian, dear," Aziraphale said, patting his knee, when no one laughed. "You might want to sober up, a bit."
"Right," said Crowley. "Right." He winced a bit.
The other guests began to rise, full from the impeccable pressed duck and the many other dishes, which had been nearly as superb if depressingly American.
Newt made his way over to them, arm in arm with Anathema.
"My dear, you're glowing," said Aziraphale. Crowley snorted, but he always did.
"Isn't it a little dark in here for those?" Newt asked.
"He just wants you to be comfortable," said Anathema, smiling. Her earrings dangled but were so discreet that they didn't offend even Aziraphale's sensibilities.(6) "Don't mind him."
"We'll try our hardest, I'm sure," said Crowley, setting the glasses more firmly on his nose. Newt started to make an affronted noise but swallowed it. Crowley grinned. He was that kind of demon.
As Anathema watched them exit the room, she noticed their arms touching; gently, naturally, without a thought. Suspicions confirmed, she nodded to herself and patted Newt on the arm. "Time to get this one to bed," she laughed to her mother, who sniffed.
"She's just trying to scare you," said Anathema as they followed the couple of divine creatures out the door. The sniffs had been going down in size exponentially ever since Mrs. Device had met Newt four days ago, which Anathema thought was a bloody good sign.
"She's doing well, then."
Anathema patted his arm again.
"It's coming," said Crowley.
"He," said Aziraphale. He squinted at the figure in the grubby mack. "At least, I'm fairly certain it's always been a he. Little too dirty to tell."
"Ya great Southern pansy," said the figure. "And, yon, the flash bastard––"
"Mister S," said Madame Tracy, who appeared rather suddenly behind him. "You know you shouldn't talk like that."
Shadwell, cigarette hidden in his dirty fist, grunted assent and allowed Madame Tracy to hold his shoulder.
"The Beast what crouches toward Bethlehem," said Crowley. "I think she's tamed him."
"Now, that's no way to be talking, either, Mister Crowley," said Madame Tracy. "You might hurt his feelings."
"I'm not actually sure he has any," said Aziraphale.
"The both of you!" Madame Tracy said, but she smiled widely at the two. "You might stop by later," she said. "We could go out, you know, see the sights." She giggled as coyly as she could, which made the two suited gentlemen shudder delicately. "Double date––these Americans, you know."
"I think we need to go," said Aziraphale. "It was lovely to see you. I'm sure we'll see you again at the hotel."
"Yeah," said Crowley. "Later."
"So intelligent, those two," Madame Tracy said later to Shadwell, rubbing his shoulders. "Such lovely boys."
The man poured himself salt water. He'd read about gargling in certain brightly colored magazines. Then he splashed it out again, letting it wash down the sink. He didn't need it. He never did.
"Today's the big day," said Adam.
"Are you excited?" asked Pepper of Anathema.
Brian was too busy getting his shirt scrubbed by his mother to get involved, but Wensleydale said, "Thirty-nine flavors of ice cream" in the sort of voice he usually reserved for his comic.
"It is, yes, and not where you're going," said Anathema, who had an uncanny ability to follow a conversation. She had the feeling she'd received it from reading Agnes's disjointed prose her whole life. "But we do have three."
"Chocolate and vanilla and strawberry?" Wensleydale asked with a certain disappointment.
"Chocolate, vanilla, and mint-chocolate chip," said Anathema.
The four stared at her with wonder in their eyes.
"Cor," said Pepper.
Even Adam was impressed.
Anathema felt any doubts she'd had recede.
The man put on his shoes and his coat, then hopped into his car.
"I can't believe we're doing this," said Anathema.
"Neither can I," said Newt. "But I was on––you know, this internet thing––and up it popped right before the computer crashed."
"I can't believe they're actually doing it," said Aziraphale.
"I don't want to," said Crowley, "but better them than us."
Well. Aziraphale didn't know about that.
He plugged in his microphone. He was on the top of the world. He was ready.
"Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, to love, honor, and o––"
"Ahem," said Anathema.
"To love and honor, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, keeping yourself solely unto him for as long as you both shall live?"
"I do," said Anathema.
"Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and woe, for richer or poorer, to love, honor, and obey, keeping yourself solely unto her for as long as you both shall live?"
"I do," said Newt. "I thought––"
"If there be anyone present who may show just and lawful cause why this couple may not be legally wed, let him speak now or forever hold his peace."
The tension rose, but no one rose with it. There was a collective sigh of relief that sent Anathema giggling behind her hand.
"By the authority vested in me by the state of Nevada, I pronounce you man and wife. You may now kiss the bride!"
Newt drew Anathema to him for the second longest kiss in the history of Las Vegas weddings, which is saying something. "Love me tender, love me sweet. Never let me go," the Elvis impersonator crooned.
TIME TO GO.
"What?" said the man. "But these two fine people just got married, I don't want––"
TURN AROUND, said Death, as kindly as a creature who couldn't understand kindness could.
"Oh," he said quietly. The Just Married car had already driven away, but there was a crowd around something. "I see."
"One minute," said the man. "I've got something I need to do first."
BUT––OH, ALL RIGHT.
"Do you feel something?" asked Aziraphale. They were in the background, hiding away from Shadwell's belligerence and Madame Tracy's decided lack of it.
"No," said Crowley, but he was lying.
The man put his hands on their shoulders and whispered, "He loves you tender, he does."
"Okay," he said. "I'm ready."
GOOD, said Death, and took him to that great stage in the sky.
No one could see them, except Anathema, who had a sixth sense about these things, and Adam, who had more senses than you could count.
It was the longest kiss Las Vegas had ever seen. And, after a thousand years of waiting, it was the most appreciated.
R.I.P. Elvis Aaron Presley
8 January 1935 - 25 December 1995
"Give, and it shall be given to you." Luke 6:38
(1)Not that Aziraphale particularly minded: he'd always thought the dustier books had given a homey sort of feel to the shop. Yes, Crowley had said, the sneezes send everyone home but you.
(2) In fact, Crowley had once swallowed a thesaurus on instinct, soon after their invention. He had been sleeping when, in 1852, Aziraphale had invaded his bedroom nattering about some fellow called Rojay and waving a book in his face. Thirty seconds later, he had a sinking feeling in his gut (and, indeed, a sharper feeling in his esophagus) and Aziraphale had looked as though someone had kicked his theoretical puppy. Crowley had never told anyone, but it had taken the next fifty-odd years to properly digest the thing; he was rather disappointed to have missed the most exciting bits of the Industrial Revolution.
(3) But not Robespierre, although his report had said differently.
(4) No one had except for a few tourists, who clearly didn't count as human beings anyway. The regular inhabitants of Vegas were nothing so much as like the citizens of Soho: interesting, not interested.
(5) As seen on television.
(6) Which were admittedly outdated, but as discerning as ever.