An Angel and a Demon Walk into a Bar.
by Macx

As always, thank you to Joules for her endless betaing!

An angel and a demon walk into a bar. Says the demon...

"Fancy meeting you here."

Eyes the colour of the azure sky narrowed a the words and in the gloom of the bar, a pair of inhuman orbs sparkled.

"Come on, grab a seat, I don't bite." Slightly extended fangs were flashed at the newcomer.

The angel stared at the shadowy figure, then slid onto the stool next to him. His body language was stiff and wary.

"Try some of this," the demon offered and held out a bottle filled with an amber liquid. "It's quite good. Barkeep, another one and don't stop the supply, will ya?"

The barkeeper did just that, wordlessly and without judgment. A new bottle appeared and was uncorked. The demon poured himself a generous amount and raised the glass.

"Cheers, old pal."

The angel stiffened again and carefully took the glass, sniffed at the contents, then sipped at it. It was surprisingly good and it must have shown on his face.

"Told ya," the demon replied cockily. "You can at least trust me with the pleasures of alcohol."

"I'd rather not trust you at all," was the cool reply.

"Oh, lighten up." The demon smirked a little as he ran his eyes over him. "What brings you here, into this remote little bar at the edge of the world?"

The angel remained silent, just poured himself another drink.

"Oh, I see," the demon went on, still smirking. "Job too much for you?"

"It seems to be for you," was the cool reply.

"Yeah, well, the rigours of administration."

"Tell me about it," the angel muttered.

A snicker that sounded somewhat intoxicated. "Yeah, well, you probably know all about it, huh?"

A third glass was emptied, quickly followed by a fourth. The angel's posture loosened up a little.

"It's only got worse," he muttered angrily.

"Uh-huh."

The first bottle was suddenly empty and the angel looked mournfully at it. As if the barkeeper had sensed it, he appeared and a new bottle was placed in front of the blond.

Demonic eyes were on him again, shining with rising inebriation. "Wouldn't have recognized you if not for that holy attitude…uh… aura." A grin. "Whatcha do? Stains on the robes? Somebody wash the whites with the colour?"

"Oh shut up!"

"But I gotta say, nice get-up. You'll need help getting out of those jeans, Mike. Who-eee."

The angel stared at the leering demon and gnashed his teeth. "My name is not Mike," he growled. "And I can get out just fine."

"Sure. They look like spray-painted on."

"Oh yeah, what about yours? I thought black leather was too clichéd?"

"I like clichéd. In doses." A shrug. "We have to keep up some traditions. If not us, who'll teach it to the lesser ones?"

The angel sighed in agreement and played with the half-empty bottle. "Not that it was much use with those two," he groused. "Nothing but trouble, from the first day on. Both of them!"

The demon cocked an eyebrow. "Tell me about it. If it had been up to me, you could have kept that blessed snake. The moment he Fell, I knew it. More trouble than he was worth. Always independent. Hasn't been to Hell in six millennia. Gone native, all right. Never had anything on him, though. Couldn't recall him on any basis. He delivered perfect reports, had a good record, and he did his share of temptations."

A blond head nodded in agreement. "Like ours. He should just have let him Fall, and we'd be rid of him."

"Are you out of your mind, Mike?" the demon cried out, sitting up. He swayed a little and grabbed for the bar counter. "Let him Fall? No way! That would mean he'd end up with us!"

"It's Michael, not Mike," the angel corrected him. "And he should have been punished. Falling is punishment. But no, He let him leave His ranks, become an..." he shuddered, "independent agent."

"'S better than pushing him off to us," the demon insisted.

"It was your side distracting him from his duties," Michael insisted.

"Oh, grow up! Your little angel did just fine on his own." A hiccup brought the point across. "'S all your own making. Been telling you all along: we don't make angels Fall. They do that by themselves." He grinned, eyes reflecting the amount of alcohol in his system. "Been there, done that, didn't buy the silly t-shirt. You still sellin' them?"

"You're drunk, Beel."

"So are you."

"No, just a little tipsy!"

"Uh-huh. Bet you couldn't find your smiting sword with a map right now." A giggle. "And such a nice, big one it is." Another hiccup.

Blue eyes flared, but the toxic liquid in his system kept the arch-angel from doing more than just keep himself on the bar stool. Beelzebub snickered again.

"Remember our last battle?" the Prince of Hell sighed with a dreamy expression.

Michael groaned. "Don't remind me."

"You were late."

"If I recall correctly, so were you!"

"You were later."

"Pft!"

"'Cause you were unable to get into your battle gear." A chuckle. "You know, once out of that ridiculous amount metal, leather and fabric, you are rather... slender. Work out much?"

He shot the demon a nasty look, which made Beelzebub only smile widely. Michael emptied his glass.

"Shouldn't have come here," he muttered.

"But you did. So did I. 'S the only decent place to get drunk. Didn't think angels needed that, too."

"Lately? Yes!" was the emphatic answer.

"The Apocalypse did go kinda wrong, agreed."

"Because of them! First he loses... gives away his sword to a human woman and then he stops the Apocalypse!" Michael growled. "He's a disgrace, but He won't let him Fall. Why?"

Beelzebub patted him on the shoulder, then looked at his smouldering hand with the fascination of a drunk demon. He sighed and wiped the palm on his leather pants.

"Not that my boss is any better. Won't let anyone get to Crawly either."

Michael blinked at him. "Why?"

A shrug. "Who knows? Does yours tell you all about his reasons?"

The arch-angel looked glum and swirled the amber liquid in the glass. "No."

"See? Mine and yours... same breed. Well, kinda." A weird little smile. "He has to have it from somewhere, eh?"

Sandy eyebrows dipped in a half-frown. "What good does it do to let Aziraphale go?"

"Or what bad?"

"I'm talking about an angel here, Beel! Angels do not do Bad!"

"Well, not until shortly before their Fall," was the philosophical answer.

"No angel has fallen in six millennia!" Michael triumphed.

"Yeah, because after Crawly, my boss had a word with yours and they agreed that it was a bad idea." Beelzebub stuffed some greasy chips into his mouth, chewing. "Worst mistake the boss ever made. We should have kicked him out."

"What becomes of a fallen angel not in the service of Hell?" the arch-angel asked curiously.

"How the fuck should I know? Wait a few centuries and then ask me again. By that time those two are either the worst thing ever created by Him or something to really take seriously."

Michael looked horrified at the prospect. He quickly emptied his glass. "You think He'll let this go on?"

"Why not? It was an elaborate set-up. I know mine won't touch this ex-angel of yours with a bargepole!"

Beelzebub swayed a little and accidentally bumped against the angel, starting to smoulder.

"'Scuse me," he slurred. "My bad." A leering grin. "Oh, very bad."

Michael pushed him back onto his stool, then muttered about the scorch marks on his hands. They healed immediately.

"How can Aziraphale think of touching such a vile creature?" he mused.

"Hey, vile creature sitting here!" Beelzebub reminded him. "And he seems to do the touching just fine. And the kissing and licking and nipping and fucking..."

Michael groaned and his head bumped onto the table with an audible thud. "Stop that!"

Beelzebub patted the long, pony-tailed hair, getting only a minor rash up to his shoulder.

"At it like rabbits," he added pointedly.

"He should smite him! He should have destroyed that fiend and be done with it," Michael groaned, still thudding his head against the table. "But no! No, he strikes a deal with him and then gets himself seduced!"

"Ah, yes, seduction. Temptation." The Prince of Hell looked smug. "We do temptation well. Crawly was exceptional at mass temptation. But in their case, I think it was more of the angel seducing the demon, eh?"

The blond head rose and alcohol-clouded eyes glared at him. "Angels do not seduce!"

Beelzebub leaned closer, almost off balance again. "They don't, huh? What if I told you I could do you, right here and now, over the bar?"

Michael was stunned for a moment, then shook his head, snorting. "You and whose army, Beel?"

"Yeah, because you have no idea about sex, do-gooder that you are."

"I do."

"Don't."

"Do, too!"

"You're an archangel, Mike. His second-in-command. You wanna tell me you know about sex? Looked it up in the dictionary? Had a few educational videos? Or is Heaven still using 8 mm?" Beelzebub chuckled.

Michael grumbled to himself. "Know about sex," he insisted stubbornly.

"If you weren't so blessed holy, I'd prove you wrong, but as it is, I'm not feeling very masochistic today." Beelzebub looked positively regretful.

"So if we can't, why do they?" Michael insisted, too drunk by now to care that he was discussing sex with his Enemy.

"Wish I knew. Would make life more fun to do it with angels, don't'cha think?"

"No."

"Awww..."

"Beel, you are disgusting."

"Thank you. You're not too bad either. Downright cute." Beelzebub giggled.

"He's sleeping with a demon," the angel held on to the topic like a dog with a bone.

"Often. Frequently. Doing the nasty in all kinds of positions. Puts sex ed to shame." Another snicker.

"And he doesn't get burned!"

"Only bitten."

Blue eyes blinked. "You've been watching?"

Beelzebub waved erratically with one hand. "Sure. Haven't you?"

The blush could have been the alcohol, but it wasn't.

"You have!" the demon crowed. "Oh, this is good!"

He swayed again and just narrowly avoided sliding against the angel.

"Shut up," was the only reply and the bottle was emptied.

Both had stopped counting how much they had drunk. It was by now almost impossible to sit up straight and whatever kept them on their bar stools, it was like super-glue, it seemed.

"Shuttin' up, pretty eyes," Beelzebub slurred.

Michael tried to glare, but he failed. The alcohol was so wonderfully numbing, taking all his worries about a certain angel and a certain demon away, making them no longer so important, leaving him indifferent.

"Say, what happened to you buzz?"

Beelzebub blinked. "Buzz?"

"You know." Michael gestured with his glass. "The buzzzzzzz." He did a good imitation of a voice like a million flies taking off.

The demon grinned. "Ah, that. Off duty, Mike. 's not required. Anyway, it's hard on the throat. Kinda get a rash or somethin'. Like you and that whatsit... long hair'n clothes... skirt... robe... dress." He spluttered into laughter. "So silly."

"It's traditional!"

"You're not wearin' it right now. You prefer spray-paint jeans? Nice ass. Never saw it underneath all that… stuff."

Michael shot him a dark look that came close to a smiting one. Beelzebub just burped.

"Well, I see you got a new hair-cut," finally came the snide remark.

The demon ran a hand over his jet-black hair, grinning madly. "Like it?"

Michael shrugged. "It's acceptable."

"And you still insist on having that tangly mess of hair, huh? Wearing a hair net at night?"

"Angels don't sleep."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Ever vigilant against the Forces of Darkness."

Blue eyes blinked stupidly. "Wasn't that a movie?"

Beelzebub pursed his lips. "Nah, a book. And since when do angels go to the movies?"

"They do," came the indignant reply.

"Okay, lemme rephrase that: since when do you go to the movies, Mike? You're not exactly the epitome of fun."

Michael looked indignant. "I know how to have fun!"

"Polishing your halo."

"I do not polish my halo!"

Beelzebub chuckled. "Got yourself a trainee for it?"

"Oh, you're impossible! Some things never change!"

"Which is good."

Michael didn't argue with that.

"Sometimes," the angel mused out loud, voice dreamy, "I just wanna throw it all out the window, y'know. Tschak! Like that. Make it all go away. Forms all day. Forms and signing forms and looking at forms and making new forms and forms to order more forms, and paper and gah!"

Beelzebub couldn't help but pat him consolingly. His hand sizzled briefly. "Try memory sticks. And discs. And CDs. And crashed systems. And bugs in the crashed system. And stupid geeks who dunno what's wrong with the fucked-up system. And frustrated office workers who wanna raise because of the fucked-up geeks and their thrice-fucked systems." He let his head thud onto the counter top. "Totally fucked."

Michael didn't have enough outrage in him to comment on Beelzebub's language. Mainly because he just felt the same, could relate to the problem, and started to wonder where the difference between Heaven and Hell was. It all sounded like one big administrative machine that never worked.

"Yeah," he only said instead.

And it warranted another bottle, shared evenly between them.

"An' on toppa that," Beelzebub went on, weaving dangerously before catching himself. "On toppa that… you get Craig."

"What's a Craig?"

"That would be a who, Mike. A who. Craig's... Craig's Craig. Bane of my existence. No good, stupid, fucked up son-offa-bitch who's gotten famous for his idiotic books."

Michael squinted at him. "Books?"

"Loads of 'em. Loads." Beelzebub glared at his glass and it refilled obediently. He grinned stupidly. "Writes trash. The others love it. Love it, I tell ya. Actually does sign 'em. Bloody stupid, you ask me."

"'M not askin'," Michael slurred, trying to focus on the bowl with the peanuts.

"Y'should. Y'should. And that bastard left his books with the humans. Sure, he did some evil." Beelzebub looked grudgingly pleased. "Converted some to black magic 'n all. Do bad'n so forth." Another dangerous wave of hands. "Good thing, that. But it went to his head."

Michael had managed to catch the evasive peanut bowl and was popping the greasy nuts into his mouth, missing sometimes.

"Really?" he only said.

"Yeah. That cretin also did journals! Journals!" Eyes glowed red in outrage. "Diaries, so to speak. Demon diaries. 'N he left 'em, too."

Michael burped.

"Know what one of them did?"

"Nope."

"That human found one. Jones, huh?"

Blue eyes sparked with the recognition of the name. "James Jones?"

"Yeah. Found a diary, used it t' steal. Brought the whole mess down on us." Beelzebub emptied his glass and hiccupped, then burped. "'Cause of him those two are..." He gesticulated wildly, "they're... what they are. Pain in the ass. Total fuck-up. When I get my hands on that airhead, he's gonna be dead meat! Yeah! Dead meat. So dead."

Michael grabbed him before he could slide off the chair once more and got a sizzle for it. He gazed at his smouldering fingers, shook them and they healed. Even drunk arch-angels could still do a little healing, even if it was rather uncoordinated. On such small injuries it wouldn't show, but right now Michael should not be allowed to do more complicated things.

"Shtupid," Beelzebub muttered and hung onto the bottle. "Shit for brains. His mother would turn in her grave if he had one."

"Huh? Mother?"

"My point." Beelzebub grabbed for a bag of chips. "She would. Believe me. If he had one. Point is..." His brow furrowed in the attempt to find that point. "Point is, someone would. Turn in his grave. Really would."

"Uh-huh."

There was a philosophical expression in the red eyes. "I'd give him back to you, y'know."

"Who?"

"Craig."

"Craig?"

"Yep. Airhead. The very one. Did his time. Don't want him any more. Wanna have him back? Don't even want any money. Or 'nother one in exchange. Not another one. Nu-huh."

"No, thanks." Michael shook his head and watched the room spin merrily around him. "No vacancies. All taken."

"Aw, too bad."

The bottles were empty and the two immortals were quite… full. Eyes glassy, bodies uncoordinated, they giggled and snickered and made rude remarks, noises and gestures. There was no difference between them right now. An angel and a fallen angel.

"Y'know," Michael slurred, "y're a really decent guy, come t'think offit."

"Really?" Red eyes, unable to focus, nevertheless tried to. "You, too, Mike. You, too. For'n angel, thattis. For'n angel."

They clinked empty glasses together.

"Cheers!"

° ° °

An angel and a demon walk into a bar. Says the demon...

"You gotta be kidding me!"

The angel looked at the drunken display and sighed deeply. "I doubt it is a joke, my dear."

Sitting at the bar, barely able to actually balance on the bar stools, Michael, archangel and personal assistant to Him, and Beelzebub, Prince of Hell, were singing raunchy songs and snickering over them. Both were dead drunk. Piss-pour drunk. Dancing on the table and stripping naked drunk.

Thank whoever that neither of the two had the coordination left to actually do it.

"And here I was hoping," Crowley murmured.

"Hoping for what?"

"That the letter was a joke."

Aziraphale nodded. "Yes, I believe so did I. So… you take Beelzebub, I take Michael?"

"If you think I'll touch an archangel, you can bloody well think again, angel," Crowley muttered. "And I won't let you within five feet of that guy!" He pointed at the Prince of Hell who was trying to pop peanuts into his mouth and was missing.

Crowley shook his head and started over to what had been his boss once. His ingrained fear was still there, but he had pushed it away. They had been asked to retrieve two wayward citizens of Heaven and Hell. The letter hadn't detailed who those citizens were, or Crowley would have refused to accept the job. Free-lancing or no free-lancing.

Aziraphale had by now managed to get a giggling Michael off the bar stool and was struggling under the almost dead weight of an archangel, who apparently weighed more than he looked. Crowley sighed and approached the demon.

"Crawly!" Beelzebub cheered. "Old fiend! You here? C'mon and join me'n Mike over there for a drink!"

The empty bottle was passing dangerously close to Crowley's left temple. Beelzebub over-balanced and fell off the stool with a thud. He sat there, stunned, for a moment, then giggled again.

"Oi, what a ride!"

Crowley sighed deeply and grabbed the higher demon. "Up you get."

"See it move!" Beelzebub crowed as he swayed to his feet, eyes so glassy, Crowley wondered just how much the other had had to drink. "Rollercoaster ride!" he called happily.

"Yeah, yeah. Don't throw up on me, okay?"

"Oki-doki!"

The idiotic grin was almost more than Crowley could take. He had never seen the second most powerful being in all Below so... childish and... un-demonic.

"Mike!" Beelzebub called, nearly taking out Crowley with his toxic breath and the volume of his voice. "See you gotchaself an angel!"

Michael waved drunkenly, smiling the smile of the totally brain-amputated.

Crowley exchanged a brief look with Aziraphale, then they started to manoeuvre their charges out of the bar.

Next time either Side asked for their help in finding 'lost citizens', he would ask just who they were first!

"Mike, it's been a blast!" Beelzebub announced when they were outside. "A real blast!"

The arch-angel grinned like an idiot.

"We should do this more often!"

"Oh, no, you won't," Crowley muttered. "And if you do, don't count on us hauling your drunken asses home."

Michael giggled and suddenly his wings exploded out of his back, upsetting Aziraphale, who almost fell over.

"Oooohh!" Beelzebub crowed. "Pretty!"

"No touching!" Crowley slapped one hand away, like a mother forbidding a naughty kid to get the cookie.

Still, a finger brushed over a feather and sizzled. The Prince of Hell just giggled, mumbling 'pretty pretty feathers'.

"Let's get them home," Crowley sighed.

Aziraphale, smothered by huge wings, spluttered an agreement.

It had been hard work, but they had managed. The question as to where to leave the hopelessly drunk archangel and Prince of Hell had been solved by Crowley spotting a hotel not far away. Aziraphale had protested, but in the end had relented. He didn't feel like dragging the sorry sight of an archangel to Heaven, just like Crowley refused to set a foot into Hell.

°

So it came that two days after getting piss-pour drunk, aforementioned archangel and Prince of Hell woke in the twin beds of the hotel room, which had a 'do not disturb' sign out front. Everyone had taken it seriously.

Beelzebub felt his head throb in rhythm with his heartbeat, and he cursed softly at having one. Sometimes human bodies got out of hand. But he couldn't remember for the heck of it how to stop his heart, so he let it go on. Finally he had a faint recollection about making headaches vanish and groaned in relief.

Friggin' last bottle had been bad...

Sitting up, he looked around the unfamiliar room and his eyes fell on the second bed and its occupant. Blond hair spilled out of the haphazard pony tail, the white shirt was rumpled, partly open and no longer hiding the slim chest. Eyes the colour of the azure sky were closed, the face almost peaceful, and Beelzebub found himself grinning as he took in the so sinfully tight jeans.

Nice ass, yeah, he thought again.

He shook his head. This was an angel he was thinking about! An archangel, to top it all!

And what was he doing sharing a hotel room with this particular one?

Demons had a good memory, even when drunk or drugged, and Beelzebub sighed deeply as his memory gave him a nice rerun of the events of... two nights ago. Oh great... He had got drunk with an archangel... and he had enjoyed it.

Michael chose that moment to move, and those impossibly blue eyes opened. He blinked, sobered up, and Beelzebub could tell when the memories came. The blond head turned and Michael closed his eyes with a groan, one hand coming up to massage his forehead.

"Damn," he muttered.

Beelzebub smirked. "And still the world turns, eh, Mike?"

"Oh, shut up."

The demon grinned insolently and watched with quite a leer as the angel got up and padded over to the bathroom. The white-blond strands shone in the sun slanting through the mostly drawn blinds and it itched in his fingers to...

Beelzebub shook off that notion.

It had to be Crowley's influence!

Speaking of which... the ex-demon had seen him in a rather… delicate situation and he would have to have a word with him before returning home. Crowley might no longer be part of their forces, but he was a demon and seeing his ex-boss in such a situation with the Enemy...

Then again, Crowley had ample experience with the Enemy himself.

He smirked.

Michael returned from the bathroom, looking a lot more like his regal, about to smite you, you spawn of evil, self. His hair was bound back, no wisp escaping, and Beelzebub gave him a cheerful smile.

"Ready to go?"

"Why are you still here?" the archangel asked, brow furrowing.

"Hey, common courtesy, after spending the night together."

Michael's eyes narrowed. "Watch it, demon!"

Beelzebub showed brilliant white teeth with a hint of fangs. "Yes, angel?"

The archangel turned on his heel and walked toward the door.

"We should do this again some time," the Prince of Hell called, amusement in his voice.

He got no answer, only the door snapping shut. Beelzebub laughed softly, shaking his head.

Teasing angels was so much fun.

But now he had to get back to business, and that business was called Anthony J. Crowley.

° ° °

Crowley sat in the very battered but also very comfortable armchair, feet on the low coffee table that was as scuffed as they came, and reading the daily newspaper. Aziraphale was out front in his bookshop, puttering around, sorting books or bustling through the bookshelves.

When the angel came to the back room for some tea, Crowley looked over the rims of his glasses.

"Zira?"

"Yes, dear?"

"Have you ever given us a thought?"

The angel tilted his head. "Us?"

"Yeah. I mean... we can touch, right?"

There was a slight blush on those celestial cheeks. "Yes, I believe we can."

"And we did touch right from the beginning."

"Well, not like that, but yes, we did."

Crowley frowned a little.

"What's on your mind, Crowley?"

"When Beelzebub touched Michael, he smouldered. I know from other demons that angels are like acid for them. Hastur told me some things about it. I usually ignored him. But... uhm... we never smouldered, right? You never got a rash or burns...?"

Aziraphale shook his head. "No. I would remember if I did."

"I didn't get anything either. But you're an angel and I'm a demon, and we should have adverse reactions... or we should have had anyway."

Aziraphale thoughtfully sipped his tea. "Maybe it's not a general thing. Maybe it's… specific? It might not apply to the lower ranks."

Crowley snorted. "That would be a joke."

The angel's fingers were unconsciously playing with the short hair at Crowley's neck and the demon hummed a little in pleasure.

"It might also just be us."

"Oh, I feel so special."

Aziraphale leaned down and placed a closed-mouth kiss onto his lips. "You should," he whispered, eyes filled with a promise. "Because you are."

With that he straightened and walked out into the bookshop again, leaving a slightly baffled and more than slightly tickled Crowley behind.

°

Some time throughout the early afternoon, the front door opened and Crowley felt a whiff of a familiar aura. He frowned a little and looked over the edge of the by now thoroughly read newspaper. He was doing the crosswords and planned to read the daily soap novel instalment next. Someone had just come into the bookshop and Aziraphale was somewhere among the shelves. The possible customer couldn't be seen from where Crowley sat, but he felt the aura strengthen.

It felt...

He put the paper aside.

It felt like...

Crowley's fangs came unbidden as the intensity of the aura grew more.

"He," he whispered and suddenly the sensation was clear.

Horror. Anger. Fear... for his angel.

He sprinted out of the battered armchair and into the showroom. Crowley froze when he saw their visitor.

"Beelzebub," he whispered harshly.

The Prince of Hell was dressed in the same black leather pants, but clean, and the same black shirt as two days before. The difference from two days ago was the simple, small matter that the demon wasn't drunk. He was stone cold sober.

Red eyes turned from where they were looking at the angel to meet Crowley's.

"Crawly," he said pleasantly.

"It's Crowley," Crowley replied automatically, tense.

The smile on Beelzebub's lips was far from pleasant.

Crowley moved between his angel and his ex-boss. His fangs were out completely and he could feel his claws when he curled his hands into fists.

"Crowley?" Aziraphale could be heard.

"Aziraphale, go," Crowley hissed.

"No."

He growled. "Angel..."

"No. This is my bookshop. I'm not leaving."

Beelzebub chuckled. "Feisty little angel, isn't he?" The red eyes flashed a little. "And from what I've heard down the grapevine, you'd also make a good demon."

Crowley hissed softly. He felt the divine aura expand a little and heard Aziraphale huff.

"You wish."

He almost turned and shot his angel a surprised look, but he remained where he was, a shield between the Prince of Hell and an ex-angel. Crowley had no illusions about being able to keep the more powerful demon at bay, but he would give it his best. No one would hurt Aziraphale.

"Actually, no," Beelzebub replied with a chuckle. "Crawly was enough."

Crowley's temper flared.

"Would you two please take this outside?" Aziraphale requested politely.

The Prince of Hell shot him a hard to interpret look, then smiled again, flashing perfect teeth. He quirked an eye-brow at Crowley, who reluctantly followed his ex-boss outside into the street.

°

Aziraphale watched them go and finally started to breathe again. Tremors raced through his body, a stress reaction to the nearness of such a powerful demon. He had met Beelzebub only once, which had been just before the Apocalypse That Hadn't Been, and back then he hadn't had too much time to think about it. Now he did.

The Prince of Hell had come to his bookshop. They had made small talk. And then Crowley had appeared like the knight for the princess.

Aziraphale huffed. He didn't feel very much like a princess. Right now he felt like a puddle of goo. His knees were still shaking.

Walking over to the window, looking outside onto the street where the two demons stood, he unconsciously put the palm of his hand against the window pane. Even from in here he felt Crowley's upset emotions, and his lover was radiating strongly. People passing the two demons didn't see either of them, but they started feeling worse than before almost immediately. Aziraphale just about caught himself from intervening and healing the aches and pains.

Finally Beelzebub stepped away from Crowley and turned toward the bookshop. Aziraphale met the fiery red gaze openly, without blinking, resolute and firm. Beelzebub smiled maliciously, then bowed ever-so slightly and left.

Crowley remained where he was, looking pale but composed.

Finally he walked into the bookshop, straight through the main room and into the back. Aziraphale locked up automatically, flipped the sign as if in an afterthought, and followed.

"Crowley?" he asked softly. "Dear?"

Crowley was radiating suppressed rage, terror, very open fear, and not very much hidden disgust.

"How dare he!" he whispered harshly.

"What happened? What did he want? Is Michael okay?"

The demon snorted. "I guess the archangel is okay. We didn't talk about him."

"What did he want?" Aziraphale asked again.

"He came to remind me that it never happened. As if I would go around blabbing about dragging his drunken ass into a hotel and putting him to bed!"

Aziraphale wrapped his arms around the upset demon from behind and shushed him gently. "Of course not. He just has to keep up appearances."

"Don't defend him!" Crowley hissed. "He threatened you!"

"Actually we made small-talk." Aziraphale rubbed his hands over the flat stomach, exuding warmth.

Crowley sighed and the tension drained a little from his body. "Beelzebub doesn't make small-talk, angel. He came here with a purpose, and he had no right..."

"Shhh. It happened. He left again. He won't be back."

Crowley muttered something under his breath, then turned in the loving embrace. Aziraphale smiled and pushed the sunglasses up into Crowley's hair. Their lips met in a gentle kiss and the demon finally relaxed completely.

"I told off my boss," he groaned and buried his head into Aziraphale's neck.

"Ex," the angel murmured softly.

"Yeah, well, it's Beelzebub, and I saw him drunk, and I was told to get him out of there, and he remembers… and I told him to fuck off out there." Crowley sighed deeply.

Aziraphale chuckled. "You survived."

The demon grunted.

"How about a nice cup of tea?"

Crowley detached himself a little and took in the calm, composed angel, then shrugged. "I could do with a tea," he acquiesced.

Aziraphale smiled brightly and walked past him to the kitchenette, then stopped and changed directions toward the flat. Crowley grinned to himself and followed. For today, the bookshop was closed.

Everything else was open.