This is crack!fic, more or less. If you enjoy it, venture on over to Manchester Lost (also by me) because it's actually kinda its sequel. Very odd. Enjoy!
Exactly three weeks after Armacomeandgonedon (a name Crowley considered getting copyrighted), the demon in question vowed to himself and to anyone who happened to be listening that he was never going to complain about being bored again. Crowley had spent all three of those weeks hiding in the corner of the back room of Aziraphale's bookshop wielding the same tyre iron as before in one hand and a considerably more deadly super-soaker filled with holy water in the other, just waiting for someone to try to get their revenge on him. The Almostaclypse* had, after all, opened up the door to just about anyone who wanted to kill him going ahead and killing him, and it never hurt to be prepared.
But after the three weeks, and after Aziraphale had physically removed him from the aforementioned corner, the demon found himself facing a wide new world where, theoretically, no one was going to kill him. And thus was born his vow to not complain about how boring it was.
Except for the fact that Crowley was still a demon, and demons aren't exactly the best at keeping promises to anyone, including themselves.
After he began returning to his flat, Crowley instituted a new ritual wherein he would actually listen to his vast collection of Best of Queen for what they were before exiting the Bentley. Specifically, he would listen to "We Will Rock You" and "Another One Bites the Dust" in order to psyche himself up in case anyone happened to be lurking in his flat. As it was the first time he was listening to Freddie Mercury for Freddie Mercury and not for Tchaikovsky or Beethoven, he had to admit he kind of almost liked it.
And thus was born the creative brainchild of Crowley's boredom.
What would happen if he put an actual Best of Queen tape in the car?
He wasn't sure he wanted to try it. He had no idea what the Bentley would do to such a thing. Every other tape he owned metamorphosed into Best of Queen (for reasons that he had yet to figure out); would the real deal make the Bentley explode? Make it turn the tape into something incomprehensibly evil? Or do nothing? Oddly enough, he had to admit he really didn't want it to do the last one.
And so began the beginning of the end.
* Crowley actually had a list of stupid end-of-the-world-not-happening puns that he created while sitting in the aforementioned corner (Armanotgonnahappon, Ragnacrockofbull, Armageddon't), but later it mysteriously vanished when he left it too close to the bamboo. The bamboo later found itself in a zoo; specifically in the panda enclosure.
Meanwhile in Hell, Hastur, a Duke of Hell, tapped his pencil on his desk in agitation.
He was pretty sure he wanted to revenge himself upon someone. He was also pretty sure he had a good reason for doing so. He just couldn't remember why, or how, or who it was he wanted so desperately to destroy. What the Duke didn't know was that this was because a certain Antichrist had wiped his memory at the request of the being Hastur wanted to painfully discorporate.
He put a hand on the speaker button. "Nancy?" he asked his secretary.
"Yes Sir?" she responded from her desk outside.
"Was there somethin' I was 'pposed to be doin'? Revenging, I think?"
"Well, Sir," the secretary responded, the sounds of shuffling in the background, "two weeks from now you have written down 'My Glorious Revenge,' but there aren't any details."
"Bless. Maybe I left a memo?" the demon guessed.
"Let's see… there's a post-it note here which reads 'Don't forget My Spectacular Revenge.'"
"… and that's it?"
"Bless." He depressed the button and checked his email. Nothing new. He sighed and pressed the button again. "Nancy, I 'aven't heard from Ligur in awhile. Did he leave any messages for me? He usually spams my email box."
"No sir. I was under the impression that Duke Ligur had a bad encounter with some holy water."
Hastur let out a laugh. "Ah, wish I'd've thought of it! That bastard totally deserved it. Only so many ads for tail enlargements you can get before you get peeved."
Nancy sounded wary. "I'm glad to hear it, Sir. You seemed upset when it first happened."
"… … I did?"
"Yes sir, you were raving about your Fantastic Revenge."
"… … … I was?"
`"You said it was going to be, and I quote, 'Spectacuriffic.'"
"… … … …That's not a word," Hastur remarked, sounding nervous.
"I noticed, Sir."
He depressed the button again, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
Crowley had to do this right. He purchased a Best of Queen tape with actual money, refused to even look guilty or embarrassed while doing so, and gently placed it in the glove compartment.
Now he had to wait a fortnight.
Two weeks passed and found Crowley sitting in the Bentley once again, once again eying up the glove compartment. The problem was that his hand trembling for no reason and he was filled with a deep terror the likes of which he had never felt before. He truly had no idea what to expect, and the Bentley wasn't giving him any clues.
Crowley stared down the glove compartment, which stared right back.
"I'll make the angel do it!" he said with a genuine smile before starting the car up and driving off.
Crowley entered Aziraphale's small Soho bookstore and cringed visibly. The angel in question was staring at a display against the wall, before turning around to see who had entered his shop; upon seeing Crowley, he looked up at the ceiling, mouthed the words "thank you," and looked at Crowley with a gaze that clearly betrayed he was thinking of crying. "I can't do it!" the angel exclaimed, "I just can't do it!" He was clutching a price tag in his hands.
The demon held out his hands in a placating gesture. He knew what this was about.
Aziraphale had initially been uncomfortable but willing to deal with Adam Young's insistence that he actually sell real books. That had been until a before-unknown author began a series of novels concerning a young wizard which turned out to be immensely popular. Aziraphale regarded popular books in the same way he regarded songs released after the year 1900; "bebop" and completely not worth his time. His chagrin at having to sell bebop had manifested itself when lines of children had appeared outside his shop during his midnight tea-and-Ancient-Greek-Classics (which Aziraphale had written down and gotten signed by the otherwise verbal epic poets themselves). The first two times there hadn't been a line, and he had coped. The third time the line formed, and he had coped. The fourth time he had closed down the bookstore, only to have to open it when the Antichrist, decked out in full memorabilia, had joined the line outside.
And now here he was, selling the fifth book and looking as if he was going to go into an anxiety-induced discorporation.
"You can do it, angel," Crowley said soothingly, walking over to put a hand on top of each of the angel's slim shoulders. His blue tear-filled eyes seemed too wide to fit his face, making him look extremely young*. "All you need to do it put up the price tag." Crowley took a corner of the rumpled paper and tried to tug it out of the angel's grip; it didn't budge.
"It's bebop, Crowley," the angel whispered.
"It's making today's youth read," the demon responded. They'd had this conversation before, including Crowley reminding him that "bebop" didn't really apply to anything.
The angel placed his forehead on the demon's shoulder. "I simply can't. I'm going to have to tell Adam that I can't sell his favorite book out of a sense of principle, and he's going to wipe me from existence and-"
"How about I sell the books tonight and you can go hide in my flat?" Crowley suggested without thinking.
The angel looked back up at him, his eyes even wider than before, but filled with hope instead of tears. "You'd do that for me?" he asked in a breathless whisper.
"Against my better judgment," he admitted, unable to bring himself to back down. After the selling of book four, he'd ended up brewing Aziraphale three pots of his favorite tea, reading him his favorite passage from The Fairie Queene and preening his feathers** before the angel had calmed down enough to sleep (which Aziraphale admitted he actually needed to do for once). Afterwards he'd lent him a large pot of particularly terrified hydrangeas to nurse, trusting in the angel's predisposition to caring to soothe him. The way the plant bloomed made Crowley briefly – very briefly – reconsider his method of plant growing.
Aziraphale grasped him in a hug. "Oh, thank you my dear! You truly were once an angel!"
Crowley awkwardly patted him on the head. "You owe me," he grumbled.
"Of course of course! Anything!" The angel still hadn't released him. Crowley pressed his hand to the shorter man-shaped-being's forehead in order to push him off; he didn't budge. Crowley sighed and hugged him back.
* After being told he looked old by Madam Tracy, Aziraphale had done some sit-ups and bought some anti-wrinkle cream, which took a good ten years off his appearance. This prompted a new phase in Aziraphale's long life devoted to getting exercise ***, which was really just Crowley leading him around town while he took long walks so that he didn't get himself discorporated because he insisted on reading as he did so.
** It's arguable who was more turned on, although neither admitted it.
*** He claimed it was so he could set a good example, but Crowley knew it was so that he could eat more sweets and get away with drinking "devilishly" fattening and expensive mocha beverages. They hadn't quite replaced tea in the angel's heart and soul, but they were getting close.
Hastur's phone began ringing, the newly-installed caller ID revealing that it was Beelzebub. The Duke hurriedly cleared his throat and picked up the receiver. "Hallo?"
"Hastur, thizzzzzz --- wait, you're actually zzzzhere?" The Demon Prince sounded confused.
"Yes Sir, where else would I be?"
"I could have zzzzworn… yes, I have it written down that you took today off for your Fantabulouzzzzzzz Revenge."
"I did?" the Duke responded, sounding excited, "Did I say who it was against?"
"Um…" there was a shuffling of papers, and, "All I have is that you zzzaid you were going out to dinner and ordering zzzzome delizzziouzzzzz vengeance-zzztickzzzz as an appetizzzzzzer, a medium-rare revenge-cut filet in a rich revenge zzzzzzauce, some revenge potatoezzzzzz, a zzzzide of delicious revenge carrots, and have a revenge cocktail. It zzzzounded very delizzzzzzzzzious; I was conzzzzidering inviting myzzzzzzzelf along."
"I could really go for revenge potatoes right now," Hastur admitted.
"Me too. Nothing as tasty azzzzzzz a revenge cocktail."
"Quite, quite. … … so, I never told you who it was against?"
"Why would I care?" came the response.
"So… want to go get zzzzzzzzzzome dinner?"
In order to prepare for the opening night, Crowley drove Aziraphale (whom, Crowley noted sourly, was already in a large pair of flannel tartan pajamas, holding two texts that were so old they were only being held together through sheer force of will, and was wielding at least five tea bags - normally he was too much of a tea connoisseur to use bags, but he was not exactly in the best state of mind) to his flat, left him and the Bentley there, and transported himself back to the bookstore.
Crowley couldn't help but admit this was a little bit exciting. He'd always wanted to redecorate the store, but the first time he'd brought it up Aziraphale had said, "Don't worry about it, my dear," in a tone which clearly said, "If you touch a single thing without my express permission I will smite you so hard you'll go through Hell to Heaven, where the holy energies there will cause you dissolve in agony, and you will simply cease to exist except for a sense of terrible pain, and every day I will find your ethereal remains and laugh at you." Aziraphale had a way with tone of voice.
That being said, the angel wasn't there and it couldn't hurt him* to get a bit of an update to his shop. And while Adam may have prohibited him from messing with people, he never said anything about messing with objects or with angels.
After Crowley was done, the porn store next door and the surrounding shops had been absorbed into a mega bookstore that would've put Barnes and Noble to shame. The first floor contained the popular books that were going to be the focus of the night's activities and a particularly large fountain complete with laser lights flashing out scenes from the book series; for kicks, it also had a café selling some of Aziraphale's favorite pastries and the coffee drinks he had so guiltily come to love. An escalator led to the second floor, which contained the remains of the aforementioned porn store and an entire night club. People were already dancing there. Aziraphale's books - the ones he cared about, at any rate - were up in an inaccessible attic, because Crowley was brave, not stupid. The whole place smelled like fresh coffee. Also, there were six new employees all manning cash registers so that Crowley wouldn't have to do anything.
And so midnight came, and Crowley unlocked the gigantic double doors, and the new bookstore was filled with young children who all ran to the section with the new book.
"Nice place," Adam Young said, looking at Crowley critically.
Despite the fact that Crowley hadn't sensed the Antichrist's presence, he tried to his best to remain nonchalant. "Aren't those the colors of the evil group?" he asked, referencing the fact that he was wearing a black and green scarf.
Adam smiled knowingly. "Well, yeah," he pointed to his blonde locks, "I got the hair for it. Brian got to be the main character, Wensleydale thinks it's all a waste of time so he stayed home –"
He should meet Aziraphale, Crowley thought.
"-and if you want to live you won't mention the fact that Pepper's wearin' a skirt. Anyhow, I couldn't help but notice Mr. Fell's bookshop is quite a bit different than last year…"
"He decided to upgrade it," Crowley deadpanned. "Listen kid, if you let this slide, I'll… get that book autographed for you."
"REALLY?" Adam squealed in an undignified manner before his eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You didn't have anything to do…"
"No," Crowley said honestly **, "but I can be very… persuasive… when I want to be."
Adam's eyes didn't change. "Well... … I guess since you did this to be nice-"
"I did not!" Crowley said dishonestly.
"- I can let this slide. But no more funny business outta you. And… if you happen to run into the author…" He gazed at the book longingly.
* It could hurt Crowley. He had it on good authority that it could hurt him a lot.
** And it was true, Crowley had nothing to do with the book series in question – he did, however, have plenty to do with the movie adaptations in the sense that he invented the entire "turning books into movies" idea just to spite his bibliophilic counterpart.
Aziraphale was singing. Now, by angelic standards Aziraphale's voice was subpar at best, clearly demonically influenced at worst. But by human standards, Aziraphale had the voice of an angel*.
And by plant standards, well, he had the voice of an entire choir of angels singing lullabies to sleeping kittens.
He started out by humming to himself as he made some tea. He thought the rustling of the plants was his imagination. But as he continued humming and the plants continued rustling, he couldn't help but notice the sense of terror that always permeated Crowley's flat fading.
"The hiiiiiiiiills are aliiiiiiiiive, with the sound of muuuuuuuuusiiiiiiiiiiic!" Aziraphale sang as he misted the plants, "With sooooongs they have suuuuung, for a thou-sand yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaars!"
The terror was completely gone (at least for now) as the plants leaned forward toward the singing angel.
"The hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiills fill my heeeeeeeaaaaaaart, with the sound of muuuuuuusiiiiiiic! My heart wants to siiiiing, every song it heeeaaaars!"
This was exciting. Crowley specifically refused to let Aziraphale sing unless both were extremely intoxicated and did so very much loathe The Sound of Music. This meant that not only was Aziraphale not allowed to sing, but he certainly wasn't allowed to sing anything remotely associated with Heaven. Until now.
As he continued singing, dancing around the flat in the best gavotte one could do without a partner and years of practice, the joyful angel forgot the rest of the world and focused on what he did best – comforting. Usually he comforted people, but the plants were close enough, and they were infinitely more grateful than most people tended to be.
Aziraphale could get used to this.
* Go figure.
Meanwhile in Hell, Beelzebub and Hastur met at the Ztir, a fantastic restaurant that served only the best in hellish dishes, even if no one was sure how to pronounce its name correctly.
At first Hastur had been rather nerve-wracked to have a meal with his boss, no matter how enthusiastic he was about having revenged potatoes. But then Beelzebub had overdosed on the revenge cocktails and started blabbing about bureaucracy.
"It jus' don' make sense," the Demon Prince mumbled, having to put all of his upper body weight on the table, "I mean, why does ever'thin' I send to Satan have… have to be… tape?"
"I was trapped in a tape once," Hastur offered, not exactly sober himself.
"Red tape. Or yellow. Maybe? I think so. Is stupid… stupid… bee-yur-o-cra-sea. Stupid… stupid-"
"Stupid Crawly," the two demons said together.
And then suddenly Hastur remembered.
"Inventin' bureaucracy," Beelzebub continued even as Hastur left in the most evil fashion he could think of. Either the demon prince didn't notice or didn't care. "Pointless, stupid tape. Brilliant bugger, I'll give him that, evil as, well, here, but… Tape."
"High on a hill was a lonely goatherd, layeeodllayeeodllay heehoo!"
Hastur arrived in Crowley's flat with a roar of rage, a cloud of ash and smoke, and the scent of sulfur. He didn't even notice every single one of the plants recoil. He did, however, notice the angel with the plant mister look shocked at him with wide blue eyes.
The two stood there, staring at each other.
Finally Aziraphale cleared his throat delicately. "Can I… can I help you?" he ventured.
"Um… yes, I'm looking for… Crawly. I'm supposed to revenge myself upon him," he said awkwardly.
"Oh… I see… Well, he's not here right now… May I ask who you are?"
"Your voice sounds very familiar," Hastur observed.
"… … that's nice, I suppose…"
"I'm Hastur," the Duke finally said. "Duke of Hell."
"My name's Aziraphale," the angel said. "Principality of the Subcontinent."
This could end very poorly for both parties involved. In a straight up one-on-one fight, an angel would likely beat a demon every time because holy energies effect demons much worse than demonic energies effect angels. That being said, Hastur was a Duke for a reason. Between this particular angel and this particular demon, Aziraphale would get creamed, but Hastur would likely permanently lose most of his limbs.
"Would you like some tea?" the angel offered tentatively.
Elsewhere, Adam Young, standing in the checkout line and smiling as Pepper got Brian in a headlock for commenting on her costume, sneezed.
"Would I!" Hastur said.
Crowley, viewing the goings-on in the bookstore with the air of a king viewing the slaves at work, was startled out of his reverie by his cell phone ringing. This surprised him, as he only had the cell phone for the purpose of having one and therefore looking cool; no one actually knew the number.
He flipped it open. "Talk to me," he said, trying his best to sound cool as well as look it.
"Crolius," said a voice using a name he hadn't heard since 476 AD, "I'm currently entertaining royalty," a pause, "a duke, in fact, and would appreciate it should you not interrupt us. My apologies for any inconvenience."
"Huh? Aziraphale, is that you? How did you get this number? Oh, right, miracles. Are you trying to be sneaky or something?" Crowley asked suspiciously, "Because that was horrible."
Silence. "We'll have to reschedule our appointment, Crolius. It would be in your best interests to stay far away, my dear. Terribly sorry." He hung up.
"That was just weird," Crowley said aloud.
And then he understood.
He ran down the escalator and out the door before turning around and running back in. "You!" he pointed at the Antichrist, "You're in charge!"
"I always am," Adam said with a smile. "And didn't he tell you to-"
Crowley jumped in the Bentley, which had arrived outside on cue, and revved it up before driving 120 down the road to his flat.
"- stay away?" Adam finished with a sigh.
Meanwhile, "My flat!" Crowley practically roared, "With my plants! And my… stuff! That bastard's gonna die!" He still wasn't emotionally prepared to see the Best of Queen tape, so he just turned on the one that happened to be in the Blaupunkt at the time and turned it up so that it really wasn't even music anymore, just bass.
"… YOU GOT MUD ON YOUR FACE, YOU BIG DISGRACE, KICKIN' YOUR CAN ALL OVER THE PLACE SINGIN'"
As he drove by, people were inexplicably overcome with the urge to stomp their feet twice and clap, repeatedly and to a very specific rhythm.
"WE WILL, WE WILL ROCK YOU!" Crowley was singing at the top of his lungs, trying to psyche himself to fight oh sweet Manchester a duke of hell what am I thinking oh wait, that's right HE'S IN MY FLAT!, "WE WILL, WE WILL" CROWLEY?
Completely caught off guard by the sudden lack of music and the fact that he had just finished basically screaming "rock you" to nothing, he slammed on the brakes in the middle of the road. He took an unneeded breath to calm himself. "Yes Sir?"
CROWLEY, HAVE YOU SEEN HASTUR ANYWHERE? WE CAN'T SEEM TO FIND HIM DOWN HERE, WHICH IS A LITTLE ODD BECAUSE HE'S SOMETHING OF A WORKAHOLIC, AND YOU ALWAYS KNOW THAT IF HE'S NOT AT HIS DESK HE'S DOWN TORTURING SOULS.
Crowley started driving again. "I'm on my way to visit him right now," he said through gritted teeth.
OH, THAT'S GOOD. ER, BAD. YOU KNOW HOW IT IS. WHEN YOU SEE HIM, KILL HIM, BECAUSE THIS IS JUST PLAIN ANNOYING. HE'S PROBABLY OUT SEEKING REVENGE ON YOU, AND I SAID SPECIFICALLY 'DON'T KILL CROWLEY', AND YOU WOULD THINK THE IDEA OF UNENDING TORTURE AND DEATH AND WHATNOT WOULD DETER HIM, BUT NOOOOOO, HE HAD TO… SORRY. WELL, NO, I'M NOT SORRY.
"I would say it's okay, but you're not sorry," Crowley said.
YEAH. ANYHOW, I RECENTLY STOLE SOME PHOTOGRAPHS. THERE'RE ALL OF MY SON – HERE, ISN'T HE CUTE? Suddenly images of a beautiful, slightly-chubby blond-curly-haired baby appeared in Crowley's head. THIS IS ONE OF HIM PLAYING IN THE SANDBOX FOR THE FIRST TIME… HERE'S ONE OF HIM GOING TO DISNEY WORLD WITH HIS ADOPTED PARENTS… DOESN'T HE HAVE THE CUTEST TOESIE-WOESIES? MAKES ME KIND OF SAD I MISSED MOST OF HIS GROWING UP, YOU KNOW, BUT THEY GROW UP SO FAST ANYWAY…
Crowley was having the hardest time shielding his thoughts.
Apparently it wasn't enough for the speaker. WELL FINE, BUT IF YOU AND THAT ANGEL EVER SOMEHOW MAKE LITTLE ANGEL-WINGED SERPENTS TOGETHER*, I WON'T BE LOOKING AT ANY PHOTOGRAPHS.
Crowley hit the brakes again. Later he would apologize to the Bentley for all the sudden starts and stops. "Say what?"
The voice chuckled and then Crowley was startled yet again by, "ROCK YOU!"
Crowley turned down the music, spent a good two seconds breathing, suddenly exclaimed, "My houseplants! The aloe vera will never recover from this! It's way too sensitive! That bastard!" And he turned up the music and drove off again.
* Completely inspired/stolen from http: // ok . bent - halo. net/ fanart/ offspring_ sm. png. Because I saw it and died laughing. It's the background of my computer now.
"More tea?" Aziraphale asked politely.
"Of course!" the duke exclaimed, holding out his cup, "This is the best tea I've ever had! Absolutely fantastic!"
"Why, thank you kind fellow," Aziraphale said with a sweet smile, pouring the demon some more. He had debated blessing the tea, but did the math in his head and realized that the Duke could still destroy him before he died. "You're such a dear, truly. Now then, what were you saying about Dagon?"
"He's such a whiner," Hastur complained, daintily sipping at his tea, "Constantly complaining and threatening. You know, Hell isn't that bad, not really. Although recently it got worse because I was going to have to revenge myself on someone and was told I couldn't. Huh. That's why I'm here, isn't it?"
"Is it?" Aziraphale asked warily, his nature refusing to let him to lie even to a Duke of Hell, or at least not without a very strong sense of guilt afterwards that he'd rather avoid if at all possible.
Hastur looked puzzled. "I think so. I'm pretty sure I was here seeking my Superb Revenge on someone, but now I can't remember who."
Please don't ask me who, Aziraphale pleaded silently.
"Do you have any idea who-"
"How about some more tea!" Aziraphale exclaimed brightly. "Maybe I ought to get some scones too, but I'm not entirely sure where-"
And then suddenly the door burst open dramatically. Anthony J. Crowley, unarmed and visibly trembling, ran in, stopped, pointed at Hastur and exclaimed, "GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY ANGEL!"
Complete and utter silence filled the flat.
"Are you girls having a tea party-"
Crowley ducked out of the way as Hastur charged at him, colliding with a wall. Quickly Crowley grabbed Aziraphale and started sprinting out of the flat, back to the Bentley.
"What part of 'stay away' didn't you understand?" Aziraphale questioned.
"Oh shut up and get in the car!"
The two got into the car and Crowley started it up, driving down the road. It was perfect timing, as around this point Hastur had decided to morph into some large four-legged maggot-ridden beast, which burst out of the building and began chasing them down the road.
"Shit shit shit shit shit!" Crowley said as a mantra under his breath as he glanced in the rearview mirror.
"You wouldn't have this problem if you'd listened to me and stayed away," Aziraphale said calmly, glancing out his window almost wistfully, "but of course, seeing as I apparently belong to you I ought to not be surprised…"
"Oh come on angel, you were having tea with a Duke of Hell in my flat! Do you even realize the kind of danger you were in?"
"I find myself in more danger now, actually. And just because you're being chased by a vengeful entity doesn't mean you shouldn't still avoid hitting pedestrians." Indeed, one hapless human had gone into the front of the Bentley and over it; the Bentley was unharmed due to Crowley and the human was unharmed due to Aziraphale, at least until he got absorbed into Hastur's gigantic maggoty flesh.
"Ewww," the two man-shaped-beings commented.
Crowley did a sharp turn, which led Aziraphale to finally look wary. "You're not leading him back to my shop, are you? With all of the children?"
"Adam's there," Crowley said tersely, trying to will the car to go a little faster as Hastur started catching up to them.
Crowley double-parked in front of the bookstore. Both beings got out, and Crowley was about to drag Aziraphale in until he noticed the Look on his face.
Nothing Hastur could have done ever would have put more Fear into Crowley than the Look on Aziraphale's face.
"Uh oh," he said eloquently before running into the bookstore by himself.
Aziraphale's wings spread from his back, his tartan pajamas morphing into angelic battle armor. The heavenly aura around the Principality was too painfully bright for Crowley to even look at, and was it his imagination or was the angel starting to grow larger? "ANTONIO AUGUSTUS ANTHONY JULIUS JEZEBEL KIREAWEL CRAWLY CROLIUS CROWLEY! WHAT IN THE NAME OF HEAVEN, HELL, GOD, SATAN, MANCHESTER AND EDINBURGH HAVE YOU DONE TO MY SHOP!"
"Oh geez," Adam said as people began running from the bookstore screaming, "Does he do this often?" The only four people left inside were Adam, Brian, Pepper and Crowley.
Crowley was hiding behind Adam. "The last time he did this was in 48 BC, when we accidentally burned down the Library of Alexandria. I got away by turning back into a serpent, barely, and he spent the next 300 years trying to discorporate me… And I've been on the proverbial couch ever since," he finished darkly*.
"I would say 'too much information' if it wasn' so obvious," Pepper commented.
Aziraphale in his holy wrath was now much larger than the super bookstore. He calmly stepped on Hastur, who had shown up and wasn't sure what to do, ending the Duke with a satisfying squish.
"That's one problem down," Crowley admitted.
The huge windows in the front of the bookstore blew in, prompting the demon, the Antichrist and the two hapless humans to hide underneath a table displaying some other new release that hadn't even been touched.
"Can someone go talk to him?" Brian demanded, hiding his head under his hands.
"Do you want to try talking sense into him?" Crowley snapped back, "Be my guest, kid!"
Pepper rolled her eyes, getting up. "He's just worried about his old books, right? You didn't get rid of them, did you?"
"They're in the attic," Crowley replied, looking at the skirted girl in the new light of one looking at someone much braver than himself.
Pepper calmly walked outside, looking up at the gigantic Angel of Death. In fact, Death was sitting nearby, taking notes. "Hey you!" she shouted up, "Your books are fine! The idiot says he's sorry!"
"I did not," Crowley retorted before Adam lashed out a kick to his calf.
The wind did not stop blowing, and Aziraphale bellowed something akin to death, destruction, and holy damnation for the incompetent serpent. At this point, Aziraphale's sandaled foot was all of the angel that could be seen from this angle.
"Tell him that upstairs sells tea, and extra-large mocha frappuccinos with whip cream!" Crowley cried to Pepper.
She did so.
The wind stopped blowing, the angel returning to his normal size and state of attire. The wings faded and he smiled at Pepper kindly. "Thank you, dear girl, for calming me down a bit. I have a tendency to lose my head over things, you know how it is. Now then, where did you say those delicious beverages were located?"
* Inspired/stolen from http:// community. livejournal. com/ go_exchange /71281 .html# cutid1, because... whew. It's a very, ahem, adult-subject picture, FYI.
Which brought Crowley back to the beginning, his Bentley with its Best of Queen tape, as he drove Aziraphale to St. James Park while trying to get the angel to take the possibly fatal step. The trick was to make it casual. "Hey angel, get out the tape on top, would you?" He willed his hands to stop shaking.
Aziraphale, unsuspecting, reached out and took the tape out of the glove compartment. The angel was back to normal, better than normal actually, after a few mass miracles performed by a suitably-chastised Crowley resulted in his shop being returned to normal and the adjacent adult bookstore being turned into a coffee shop. He made a tsking noise with his tongue as he glanced over the new tape. "More bebop. My dear, you really-"
"Don't," Crowley snapped a little too quickly, worried that the tape would be offended.
He should have been more worried.
Aziraphale plopped it in and settled back.
Crowley was gripping the steering wheel so hard that if the Bentley had nerve endings it would've been screaming in agony.
"I'LL TELL YOU WHAT I WANT WHAT I REALLY REALLY WANT!"
Apparently Crowley had forgotten to turn down the volume. If Aziraphale hadn't been buckled in he would have been blown out of the car.
"SO TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT WHAT YOU REALLY REALLY WANT!"
"WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?" Crowley screamed, not really able to control his language. Or the Bentley for that matter, as the car swerved violently around the street before plowing into a tree. The force of the crash caused the tape to skip and repeat, "ZIG A ZIG AH!" as a mantra *.
The two immortal beings forced their way out of the car.
"Oh dear, my ears hurt," Aziraphale moaned, rubbing them.
Overcome with emotions that he had never felt in connection to his precious Bentley – rage, terror, betrayal – Crowley used his occult powers to set the totaled car on fire, not relaxing until he could hear the tape melting and the music stopping.
"Do I dare ask what just happened?" Aziraphale asked, his ears no longer hurting once he remembered he couldn't really feel pain.
"My hopes and dreams just died in a burning pyre," Crowley said somberly, the light from the Bentley's fire reflecting off his sunglasses.
"Oh." Aziraphale placed a well-manicured hand on Crowley's shoulder. "I do know how fond you were of that old car. I'll leave you to your mourning then, my dear." He walked off, leaving Crowley alone. Crowley tried to avoid sniffling as he realized that he would always, in a sense, be alone. Curiosity may not have killed the demon, but it killed his soul.
* No, tapes can't exactly skip.
A few weeks later, a bored Crowley wished the Bentley back into existence, pristine as usual, and curiously put a Spice Girls Greatest Hits into the glove compartment.