The Lion and the Lamb
Chapter One: Words from Up(and Down)Stairs
We'll flash forward to a few years later
Where no one knows except the both of us
And I have honored your request for silence
And you've washed your hands clean of this."
From "Hands Clean" by Alanis Morisette
The day before The End, London, England- Crowley let the water from the shower fill his body as he lathered up with soap. Like all demons, he didn't have to bathe (and truth be told demons never actually did) but he liked the feel of the water up and down his body and plus, he liked the sounds of his baritone voice bouncing up and down the walls as it was now. "Beezlebub, has the devil put a sign for me/For me/FORRR MEEEEEEE!" He was interrrupted by a shadow that appeared in the bathroom. He rolled his eyes. It was probably Aziraphale. He was supposed to meet the angel at his bookshop and the two of them were supposed to dine at The Ritz (He still owed him one from the French Revolution in the 18th century), but he guessed Aziraphale got tired of waiting for him and showed up at his place instead.
Crowley rolled his eyes and hissed. He pushed open the shower curtain and said, "Aziraphale, I am going to be out in a minute. You always say patience is a virtue, why can't you practice what you-?" He stopped when he realized that his visitor was tall, thin, had dark hair in a retro Beatles cut, wore small Lennon sunglasses and was definately not Aziraphale!
"I have something to preach to you," the man said wryly. "It's very rude to point." Crowley looked down to realize what his friend was referring to and stepped back behind the curtain.
"Spiggy you old boy, how's it been?" George Spiggot, was a close friend of Crowley. In fact he was one of his best friends on his side. He hadn't seen Spiggot in years though. In fact the last time he saw his old friend, he was dressed like a brunette female supermodel.
"Getting tired of the tart look, eh?" Crowley asked.
Spiggot shrugged. "Well after awile it got old, plus the retro look was back in, so I thought I'd go back to normal."
"Whatever that passes for you," Crowley quipped.
Spiggot's demeanour changed and he suddenly took on an uncharacteristically serious tone. "I wish I could just say I'm here to catch up on old times, but I'm not. Wormwood's here, too."
Crowley's eyes widened. "Wormy, too it must be serious." Wormwood was Crowley's other best friend on his side. He really lost touch with his friends after he took part in the "Busted Up Armageddon." In fact Crowley lost touch with any news of Hell and they seemed to forget about him. Crowley hoped and prayed (well demons didn't really do either one, but he thought it was worth a shot) that Hell had. Obviously not.
Well at least being taken back to Hell by a mate was better than being taken by those two idiots, Hastur and Ligur. "Okay, hang on a mo and let me get dressed," Crowley said.
Spiggot grinned. "We are demons Crowley, we don't have inhibitions."
Crowley smirked back. Demons had a basic sexual instinct like humans, though it differed. Spiggot seduced women and Crowley had his way with men. So Crowley couldn't resist a little tease. "Well, if you want it to be that way, then surely you and I could-"
Spiggot held up his hand. "I'll wait outside."
Crowley was dressed in his typical entirely black suit and dark glasses. He walked over to his plants and found one with leaves wilting. He threw it away without a word, but vowed he would put the fear of Crowley in the others later. Spiggot was already seated in Crowley's chair and he could see Wormwood seated on the couch. Wormwood was a sad sack of a demon. If he had been in human form and been a high school student, he would have easily been the one all the other kids picked on. He wore large coke bottle glasses and had a skinny nervous disposition with prematurely thinning red hair. In his centuries on earth, Crowley observed that nervous humans had a tendency to chew their fingernails or pull their hair. Being a demon, Wormwood was an expert at doing both at the same time as he was doing now. He was always worried about what senior demons such as his Uncle Screwtape, or Satan thought but Wormwood could always be counted on for a bit of fun.
"Hey Wormy, how's it going?" Crowley called to his mate jovially.
"Ngk," Wormwood groaned and continued pulling and chewing.
"Yeah ditto," Crowley said used to his friends nervous antics. He then turned to Spiggot. "So what's going on? Am I being sent back down?"
"Actually no," Spiggot replied. Then he smiled excited. "You're being transferred to a new position. You will be assigned to watch our guy."
Crowley was confused, which was a very rare emotion for him to be. "Our guy?"
"Yes do I need to explain it further, Our Guy, Satan's son, The Anti-Christ? You need to watch over him, advise him, keep an eye on him, during the End."
This explanation made no more sense than the previous one. "The End?"
Spiggot raised his arms wide. "Yes, you know. The Battle between our side and the folks Upstairs. End of the World, Apocalypse! Or as your type likes to call it 'Opening Night Baby!'"
Crowley laughed. "I don't know how to tell you this Spiggy, but you are about ten years too late. Apocalypse already happened."
"No, it didn't."
"Yes it did."
"No it didn't."
"Yes it did," Crowley said realizing that this argument was taking on the attributes of an elementary schoolyard fight, he changed his tactics. "Look it happened. I was there. We stopped it, blah, blah, blah. Yes I know you guys weren't happy, etc. etc, and so on and so forth. You can only go around once on this sort of thing."
"That's what you think," Spiggot said. "Look thanks to your little mess up things have been in utter chaos Downstairs, so we haven't been getting the information as much as we like."
"Nice going," Wormwood chimed in.
Crowley glowered at his friends. "Yes and I was the only one in this group who made the Bosses unhappy!" He pointed at Spiggot. "Spending many years convincing mortals you actually WERE Satan."
"Didn't make a difference to them," Spiggot defended.
Crowley then turned to Wormwood. "And you, messing up most of your assignments like that Christian fellow during the Second World War. You spent forty years as an insect after that one!"
Rather than waiting for Wormwood to respond, Spiggot spoke again. "Look we're here to talk about your stupid mistake not ours! Will you just listen?" Crowley drew back, Spiggot hardly ever raised his voice instead retained a cool composure. "Finally, we received information that the Rapture will take place very soon."
"How soon?" Crowley asked.
"Tomorrow soon," Wormwood replied.
"That soon, huh?" Crowley asked. He remembered after the averted Apocalypse, Aziraphale mentioning the possibility about "plans within plans." Damn, Angel, I hate it when you're right, Crowley thought. He shrugged. Oh well, he hated the idea for this world to end, but he could work with Adam and maybe the boy will be ready to save it again.
Crowley nodded. "Sure, I would be happy to work with Adam."
Wormwood and Spiggot exchanged glances. "I didn't say that you would be working with Adam Young again."
"Yes, you did," Crowley said.
"You misunderstood me," Spiggot said. "I said that you would be working with the Anti-Christ."
Crowley nodded. "Yes, who is Adam. Boy, Spiggy you need to keep up."
"No he's not," Spiggot said. "There was a mix-up. "
"So it's the other boy, Warlock?" Crowley asked.
Spiggot shook his head. "Typical beaurocracy! No one knows what the other side is doing. While you and your angel friend have been chasing the Anti-Christ up and down the countryside of England no one thought to inform us that the real Anti-Christ had been born twelve years previously in Romania to a woman named" He checked his records. "Marilena Carpathia. The message got screwed up on our side, but from the sounds of it the Big S. prefers the elder brother to the younger anyway particularly after Adam grew up to be human. Apparentely Adam was 'found wanting', so this fellow will be taking the throne not Adam."
Crowley was furious. This went beyond bungling. The idea that there would be two Anti-Christs was not only a regrettable error, it was dangerous for the world. Who knew what would happen if they ever faced each other? And an eerie thought occured to Crowley. Satan never made beaurocratic mistakes like that (after all he invented beaurocracy and all of the holes to get around it). It wasn't an error: the births of both Adam Young and this Carpathia fellow had been planned. But to what purpose? Crowley had given up long ago in figuring out what Satan's motives were. They were as hard to read, as well God's.
"How does Adam play into all of this?" Crowley asked.
Once again Spiggot and Wormwood exchanged glances that said that they knew more than they were letting on. "What?" Crowley asked getting annoyed.
"You mean you hadn't heard?" Wormwood asked. "It's been all over."
"All over what?" Crowley asked. "What are you talking about?"
"Turn on the telly," Wormwood said.
Crowley turned on the big screen television and there appeared a perky blond woman. She had the fake dripping sympathy of all newscasters. "Police have continued the search for Adam Young, the missing Oxford student from this small town of Tadfield." A picture of Adam in high school flashed on the screen as Crowley felt what was left of his heart leap into his throat. "Though there have been no new leads since a witness who prefers to remain anonymous said that he had seen a boy fitting Young's description being carried into a black car with no liscence plates and drive away. Police have been unable to find any evidence of the young man's whereabouts and are considering calling off the search. Young's parents, George and Deirdre Young were unavailable for comment. In other news, Britney Spears has revealed her new breast implants-" Crowley turned off the tv preferring not to hear about Britney's new breasts.
"How is it, that I hadn't heard about this?" Crowley said surprised that his voice had a catch to it. He and Aziraphale were supposed to go to Oxford the following week to look in on Adam, but now- it looked like that wasn't going to happen. "Is he- does our side have him?"
Spiggot and Wormwood shook his head. "He hasn't come to us."
"Then he must be still alive," Crowley said. "Thank God- uh Satan- uh, I mean Thank Somebody. Who could subdue him though?" Crowley asked but he had his suspicions.
"You have other issues to deal with," Spiggot said slowley. He showed him a photograph of three men in a clandestine meeting. "The Anti-Christ is one of these men," he said.
Despite his concern for Adam, Crowley looked at the photo. One of the men was an older gray haired middle aged man, whom Crowley had more than a passing acquaintance with, Jonathan Stonegal. Even though he was sly and sneaky, Stonegal was at heart a coward. Crowley knew that it wasn't him. The other was a ferret faced dark haired man with a mustache whose nervous disposition reminded Crowley of Wormwood. He couldn't be the Anti-Christ, he didn't have the stomach for it. Then Crowley looked at the third man and knew they had him. He was blond and handsome with deep blue eyes and chiseled features. Besides the fact that Crowley was stunned at his similarity to Adam, even through the picture Crowley could see the confidence and charisma that he exuded. "I bet it's the attractive one," Crowley said sarcastically.
Spiggot took the picture away. "Sorry, he likes girls! But yes it is him, Nicolae Jetty Carpathia. You will work under him and I have it from the lowest authority that you will not refuse."
Crowley opened his mouth to object but did not. He knew he was in trouble and was at least getting out with his body intact and being offered this transference. He knew what would happen if he failed. Regardless of whether the world began or ended, he would be in the soup. He was surprised that the only words out of his mouth were, "Where is he?"
"He's in London right now, but you won't be meeting him here," Spiggot said. "He is going to the U.N. tomorrow."
"I thought that was a strange name for a city Youen," Wormwood said lofitly half to himself and half to his compatriots.
"That's U. N., imbecile," Crowley snapped. "As in United Nations as in New York City?" He then started. "NEW YORK CITY?"
Spiggot nodded. "You rendevoux with him there."
Crowley rolled his eyes and didn't bother disguising his contempt. New York City, America, it figures. He always had bad luck whenever he visited the States. In fact he hadn't been there since the 1970's when he challenged that obnoxious kid, Johnny to a fiddling contest in Georgia! He was so wrapped up in his dismay that he almost missed Wormwood's comment.
"And Crowley," Wormwood said. "They wanted me to tell you that it would be best if you stayed away from the Angel. That is if it isn't too much trouble. I mean they said he could. Bring trouble for you, I mean."
"You leave tomorrow morning," Spiggot said in a tone that almost sounded apologetic and sympathetic. "And if you're not there, there will be a lot of nastier types who will make sure you do. Be seeing you."
Suddenly, Crowley's two friends disappeared as quickly as they arrived. Crowley didn't have much time, but he sat there alone with his thoughts of Aziraphale, Adam, and his new assignment.
Aziraphale's thoughts were just as wrapped up and just as in confusion as his demon friend's. The angel was sipping tea in his used bookshop and reading the London Daily Telegraph article hoping each time that he read the words would just magically disappear, but they didn't. Even with Aziraphale's ethereal abilities, he could make the words vanish but the thought was still in his mind.
Under a lingerie ad that had been circled, Aziraphale read the story still feeling the shock go through his brain. He couldn't believe it! Adam was missing? He may have been kidnapped and was now presumed dead? And what filled Aziraphale with even more confusion, was that he didn't know this until now. No one told him (but that wasn't earth shattering news. Since the Apocalypse -that -Never -Happend things had been quiet on this side and he neither saw nor heard anything. Nor did anyone come to collect him or punish him in a way that always reflected God's mercy of course or hurt Him more than it hurt Aziraphale. In short, Aziraphale had become a pariah). He didn't feel Adam in danger. He tried several times, but nothing. He couldn't feel Adam being afraid, angry, in despair, or happy. He could be dead, Aziraphale thought. But surely he would have felt that too. There was just nothing there as though the earth had swallowed Adam up completely.
He called Crowley, but there was no answer. Just his infernel voice mail! "Hi, this is Anthony J. Crowley and I am not in right now, but leave a message. If it's from Down Below press one. If it's from the Royal Family press two. If it's from anyone in Manchester press three. If it's any used car salespersons, barristers, or telemarketers press four. If it's-" Aziraphale hung up the phone and very nearly swore.
The angel turned his head annoyed at the sound of the small bell tinkling as the door opened. He rollled his eyes, "I'm sorry, but we're closed."
"I am sure you will open the door for old friends," said a familiar male voice. Aziraphale greeted the man and woman into his shop grandly. The man was thin and pale with short dark hair and innocent-looking sky blue eyes and was dressed in a white button shirt and light jacket and black trousers. The woman had long red hair and Irish green eyes, and a winning smile, and wore a floral print dress and sun hat. Aziraphale embraced them warmly. "Darien, Monica it's so good to see you again!"
"You too, Aziraphale," Monica said in her rich Irish voice. Monica and Darien were Aziraphale's best friends from Heaven though they lost touch because of their different jobs, Monica spent most of her assignments in Ireland and America, Darien remained in Heaven having the coveted role of "Guardian Angel of Jesus Christ" and Aziraphale spent most of his time in England.
He embraced them both warmly. "How are you two? It's been what fifty sixty years since we last saw each other?"
"At least," Monica laughed. "And how are you?" Monica and Aziraphale laughed, though he noticed Darien did not. Angels already knew how each other did. Such comments like "how have you been" or "you haven't changed a bit" came from centuries of being around mortals.
"Doing alright, I still run the bookshop obviously," Aziraphale said motioning around the shop.
"It's a lovely shop," Monica said. "But do you know what this place needs? A cappucino machine!"
Aziraphale laughed remembering his friend's weakness for coffee. "Just for you, love." A capuccino machine began to whirr next to the angel. He then poured a cup and gave it to Monica. "On the house, as they say in America."
"Monica tasted it and sighed contented. "Mmm, Heaven sent."
"Naturally," Aziraphale laughed. "And what's this I hear? You have been given a promotion from the Big Guy personally, no less!"
Monica blushed at the compliment, but Darien cleared his throat. "Aziraphale, we have grave news."
Something in Darien's tone indicated this was serious. Though that wasn't a surprise. God knows, Aziraphale wasn't by any means a partier, but Darien's behaviour made the other angel seem like a frat boy during Spring Break.
"Well what is it, I'm all ears," Aziraphale replied. It can't be that bad, if Heaven sent friends, right?
"How do I begin? Because of your... error ten years ago, you have been given a demotion," Darien began. Oops, maybe it was.
"You mean I am not a case worker, then?" Aziraphale asked.
Darien shook his head. "No, you're still a case worker but you will be one until the Glorious Appearing."
Aziraphale shook his head confused despite what Crowley believed angels rarely ever get confused, but this was one of those time. "The Glorious Appearing, you mean through Armageddon which of course we will win or have won?" The other two angels nodded. "I'm confused, the Apocalypse happened ten years ago. We stopped it, which of course we had no right to stop it naturally!"
Monica shook her head. "No, Zira, God told us that it will happen tomorrow."
Aziraphale blanched. Armageddon happened once before, hadn't it? He was there, he remembered. He looked at the newspaper article and knew Adam's disappearance wasn't a coincidence.He decided to take the current issue at hand. "So, I am not to carry the flaming sword then."
The angels shook their heads. "No," Darien said. "Your assignments are in America. You will be helping a group of believers during this time."
Aziraphale shook his head. "I don't understand, who... where? America is a big continent, a bit too big some would say.I couldn't find them, I'm sorry!"
Both Monica and Darien drew back at Aziraphale's petulent rebellion! Monica spoke first. "You mean that we have to tell the Almighty, Heavenly Father that Aziraphale can't do this assignment because he doesn't think he 'can find them'?"
Aziraphale couldn't resist a dig at his female friend. "Be careful, Mon. You're channeling Tess there," Aziraphale joked invoking the name of Monica's stern friend and former supervisor.
"You'll know when you meet them," Darien replied almost apolegtically. "Aziraphale, you must do this."
The angel bowed his head realizing that he had been beaten. Either way, he was stuck on Earth. Well there were worse things. "I understand, if it is God's will." he said quietly. He then perked up hoping to make a joke about his situation. "I guess I owe 20 pounds, euro actually."
"Why?" Monica asked.
"Crowley always said that the day when you made supervisor, Mon, would be the day when the world ended," Aziraphale felt kind of bad for Monica. After all that training, she had only been supervisor for two years before now. But he supposed she would prefer Heaven anyway. "I hate when he's right."
Monica and Darien's eyes narrowed at the mention of Crowley's demon friend. Neither of them liked him, but Monica and Crowley always did have an uncomfortable relationship mostly through comments and some slight name calling. (She referred to him as "a Prince of Darkness" he always called her "Monny Sunshine") Though Monica could tolerate Crowley, perhaps because of her own relationship with a fallen angel, Kathleen. Which was more than could be said of Tess who despised Crowley with every fiber of her being.
"That's another thing, Aziraphale," Monica said. "God would prefer it if you stayed away from Crowley during that time."
"But why?" Aziraphale said. "Aside from the looks and comments no one has ever said anything before."
"Things are going to change, Aziraphale," Darien said. "Crowley will be doing his own work. He won't know you. He won't want to know you."
Aziraphale shook his head. "I don't believe that for a second and I don't believe you two do, either."
He couldn't stop himself. "Don't tell me that if the situation were reversed that you wouldn't want to still remain friends with Observer and Kathleen!"
Monica and Darien hung their heads in some slight regret. During the Great Rebellion and the subsequent centuries afterward, many angels had fallen to Satan's side. Their fights were almost like the American Civil War, in which one-time friends were seperated by taking opposite sides. Monica, Darien, and Aziraphale weren't the only angels who have had former friends on the other side. But Aziraphale often wondered if he were the only one who still retained a close connection to him.
"I can't speak for Darien, but I would probably try," Monica looked to Darien's long face and knew her answer. "But this is different, Crowley will be your enemy down here, your real enemy. We just don't want you to get hurt by him, Aziraphale."
Aziraphale looked down choosing not to answer and knowing that he had argued enough. "You will be leaving from Heathrow tomorrow."
"You can't make an exception for me," Aziraphale asked. "Maybe put in a word in His ear."
"You know I cannot do that, I'm sorry," Darien replied sounding truly sorry. "God be with you and I know he will," he said and disappeared.
Aziraphale nodded, but before Monica disappeared, he grabbed her arm and held up the newspaper. "Mon, you have ties with many of the Angels of Death, was he taken?"
Monica skimmed through the article about Adam. "Not that I know of," she said.
Aziraphale nearly swore with relief. "That's good news."
"It could be the other side has him," she suggested.
Aziraphale shook his head. "I don't think so. It's like he disappeared into thin air. What became of him?"
"I don't know Zira," she said. "But from what I understand before too long a lot of people are going to be wondering the same thing. Goodbye my friend, we'll keep in touch." She hugged and kissed Aziraphale and disappeared.
Aziraphale tried to phone Crowley but once again got his voice mail. He thought of leaving a message, but what could he say? Would he ever see his demon friend again? Should he and what side would they be on if they did? Who were these people Aziraphale were supposed to meet and how would he know them? And what about Adam? If the Apocalypse is supposed to happen, then shouldn't Adam still be around vis a vis, being the Anti Christ? Or was there something else to this? Aziraphale made himself a cup of tea and looked around the bookshop. Oh, he could always make another one in America, but it wouldn't be the same. He remembered Crowley's words ten years ago and chanted them to himself. "No, rare first editions, no Daily Telegraph crosswords, no compact discs, no composers besides Elgar and Liszt," He drank and sighed, feeling suddenly lonely. "Ineffable."