Disclaimer: I don't own a damn thing.  Hastur and Ligur's love that dare not speak its name is borrowed from Daegaer, who is a far better writer than I am anyway.  Hell is borrowed from Dante, who is also a much better writer than I am.

Rating: PG-13 for language.  And maybe for some blasphemy too.

Other: I think I get geekier with every fic I write…

            The worst part was that they had to know.  Because there was no other reason why they would have told him to report to #7, Round 3.  It wasn't like #5 where they actually had workers.

            He really needed a drink.  Hot sand with a constant rain of fire could do that to you.

            He glared at a few passing runners.  He wanted to take out his frustrations on them, but he was already in enough trouble, and it wouldn't be worth the lecture on how any idiot could dick around with mortals, but you needed special training to deal with the damned.

            "Dick around" was probably the worst possible phrasing, all things considered.

            After further consideration, Crowley decided that the worst part wasn't that they knew; it was that he didn't know how they knew.

            The angel may have been a prissy, holier than thou(not that it was hard to be holier than Crowley) goody two shoes, but he wasn't a snitch.  Even if he was a snitch, he wouldn't have made a day trip to Hell to do it. 

            Aziraphale was the type who said crap about only wanting to see Hell through the words of a skilled poet, and Crowley always tuned him out shortly after he said it.

            Crowley grimaced.  Since Aziraphale probably hadn't ratted them out, it could only mean that their employers had been talking again.

            That really wasn't fair.  Their respective bosses weren't even supposed to be on speaking terms, but whenever they did have a chat, it only led to Bad Things.

            The last time God and Satan had had a drink together, some mortal bastard had lost his house, family, and livestock.  Heaven referred to the incident as a "test of faith."  Hell called it a "stupid bet."

            As Hastur and Ligur approached, Crowley wondered if there was still time to slip out the back way.  It wouldn't be pleasant, but if he made it over the Lethe, he'd feel a lot better about today.

            If he'd bothered to keep up with Hell gossip, he could have at least had a good laugh about meeting the Dukes of Hell here.

            Having not bothered to read the sign on the gate in several millennia, Crowley was able to say to himself, Maybe it'll just be a few personal remarks, a quick beating, and then back up in time for—

            "Start running," said Hastur.



            In Soho, Aziraphale was making promises to himself.  When he finally shows up, I'm not going to say anything.  Because I really should have known better than to…  The angel blushed and coughed nervously.  Well, I'm not going to say anything because that's just what the…bastard wants.  He only did it because he's evil, and he wants to get a rise out of me…

            Aziraphale decided that he should stop thinking and devote all of his attention to keeping customers away.  Because otherwise he was going to start thinking of Crowley trying to get a rise out of him, and nothing good would come of that.

            There was a crunch and scrape of metal outside as an unsuspecting car was pushed out of a good parking space.

            I'm not saying anything Aziraphale repeated as he felt the Bentley's various scrapes and dents being fixed.  And I'm not going to throw anything at him, because I only took the Bible out for a bit of light reading.

            These promises immediately went out the window when a very tan Crowley staggered in.  "You won't—" Crowley said before being hit with one of the only remaining copies of the Bugger Alle This Bible.

            "Where have you been?" Aziraphale heard himself babble.  "One day you're…we're…well, you know, and then you just disappear for two weeks, and you could have called me!"

            Despite the fact that the right side of his face was starting to melt, Crowley walked over to a bookshelf, pulled out a battered book from the worst century of his life, and slammed it on the counter.  He quickly started turning pages.

            "And if you get any of your stupid face on that, I'm going to…I'll do the worst thing I can think of!" Aziraphale snapped.

            Crowley found what he was looking for and glared at the angel.  "You really want to know where I was?" he hissed.  You halo wearing, harp playing bastard.

            "I think I deserve some sort of explanation," Aziraphale replied.  You pitchfork waving, goat arsed liar.

            "Here."  He jabbed the book several times.

            Aziraphale slapped his hand away and muttered something.  He skimmed a few lines and suddenly looked sheepish.  "Oh.  For two weeks?"

            "For two bloody weeks."

            "Well, that does change a few things…"

            "Yes, I think it does.  So you can save the blessed holy water enema for another time."

            "Er, I suppose that was a rather childish thing to say…"

            There was a rather uncomfortable silence.  "Is there anything I could get you?" Aziraphale asked.

            "You could start by healing my fucking face."

            "Right."  Crowley hissed softly as Aziraphale cupped his face in his hands.

            It was impossible to know someone for several thousand years without being able to pick up on a few things.  "Just ask it, angel," said Crowley.

            "Was it, er, worth it?"

            Even though he didn't need to breathe, Crowley had to take a deep breath.  He'd been expecting a stupid question, but one along the lines of "Do they really have that circle?" or "Is it always raining fire?" 

            His first instinct was to say something very sarcastic.  Something like, "Oh, yes, let's do it again right now so I can spend an entire month with bloody stupid humans asking me 'who I'm in for' and with two bastards who can't even spell sodomite." 

            Unfortunately, Crowley had to admit that even getting hit in the face with a Bible was worth it if Aziraphale was there to heal him. 

            He settled for a slightly snippy, "What do you think?"

            Aziraphale smiled at him.  That helped a little.