Author: a demon
Pairing: A certain demon and a certain angel.
Archive: Anything if it"ll help complete your
collection of The Infamous Fanfics. Series / Sequel: not / likely
Notes: This is what I did on my spring vacation, mommy.
Feedbag: I rather prefer chopsticks, thanks. But I"ll eat anything you"re serving. You"re an excellent cook, you know. You should have a tv show.
Summary: Some crap about fish, some drinking, some more drinking, a little more drinking, and the space-time continuum.
Disclaimer: I didn't create em. Look at Niel Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Sue me not.
as told by a demon
Crowley tipped the plastic bag full of water into the bowl and watched with some satisfaction as the goldfish slid out. It made a tiny plunck as it hit the water, righted itself, and came face to face with another fish, known as The Great White Bastard, Jaws of Steaming Hot Death, Tour Guide of the River Styx, Gilled Terror, and Your Ass Between My Teeth.
He was also known as Crowley's newly acquired pet.
Before the past week Crowley had never given much thought to fish. Oh, he had thought of them as food, of course, and as...well, food. Except for one notable occasion as a rather nasty projectile. And when a few had fallen on his head during Almostaggeden, as he had come to call it, during the mass downpour of fish that took place - like being slapped about the head by an old seal, it was, having a fish land on you from that height. The place had been covered in fish. And that was as far as they had entered into his life thus far.
That was because he didn't know there was such a thing as a fighting fish.
Crowley had purchased the white and pink creature on a whim, sensing a deadly pissed-off little bugger. He'd put it into a bowl with the bug-eyed goldfish he'd bought because it looked like Aziraphale, innocent and well-read. It was a boring, good-natured, bookish creature he figured the angel could give a boring, good-natured, bookish home. When he returned to the bowl after a good half-hour of floral intimidation, Aziraphale's fish had been reduced to a single floating bug-eye and some rather interesting entrails. Crowley was suprised and delighted that he, seemingly by chance, had acquired an aquatic psychopath.
He looked up the breed of fish, bettas. Turned out they fought. That they liked to fight. And Crowley, in turn, had developed a new hobby, for each replacement fish he bought for Aziraphale and meant to put in a separate bowl inexplicably ended up sacrificed for the demon's entertainment.
He watched with giddy anticipation as The Great White Bastard, Jaws of Steaming Death, Tour Guide of the River Styx, Gilled Terror, and Your Ass Between My Teeth sized up his quite alarmed, bobbling opponent of the day. In all of the six days Crowley had owned him he hadn't yet lost a match. This fish was a champion in the way not even his plants were, for he didn't even require fear to excel. He was just a complete lunatic.
Crowley sat on the floor between the coffee table and the white leather couch, staring at the fishbowl. The betta was poking about the rocks, ignoring the goldfish. It was only a matter of time. He manifested himself a nice slice of german chocolate cake and waited for things to happen.
"The smart money's on Harlow," he muttered absently.
He reached over to his phone and buzzed Aziraphale in before the angel, three floors down, had extended his finger to press the doorbell. The doorbell, as though Crowley might be unaware of his presence, as though he couldn't sense the angel coming for miles.
And he said so. "You and the bloody doorbell," is what he said, to be exact, when Aziraphale poked into the apartment, politely removing his hat. "Always with the doorbell, you. Cake?"
"What kind of cake?"
Aziraphale blinked and gave the tiniest indication of an amused smile.
"That wasn't clever at all, was it?"
"They can't all be winners," the angel admitted.
"Shut up, you smug bastard. Cake." Crowley manifested another slice and pushed it across the table at him. "Come here and watch this."
"What's this? Fish?" Aziraphale asked, sitting on the couch, which creaked and sighed orgasmically in the way only an very expensive leather couch can. "What drove you to fish?"
"Shh-shh," he said. "Watch." The Great White Bastard, Jaws of Steaming Hot Death, Tour Guide of the River Styx, Gilled Terror, and Your Ass Between My Teeth floated, completely still, next to the little plastic argonaut stepping out of the little plastic sunken ship, next to the assorted Homies, and the figurines of Slimer and Egon from a "Ghostbusters" Happy Meal which had lived in the pencil drawer of Crowley's desk for eighteen years.
The goldfish bobbled about the surface, swimming back and forth, poking about excitedly; the betta was apparently asleep.
"They're lovely," Aziraphale said carefully. "How long have you been...watching them?" He asked in a tone that questioned Crowley's health.
"Dammit! What's wrong with the bloody bugger?" Crowley snapped, slapping the side of the bowl. "Kill! Kill! Kill!"
"The white one's a fighting fish. From Japan. He usually beats your fish silly. Great fun."
Crowley blinked, realizing his slip but trying not to let it show. "Other fish."
"You said my fish."
"Well, they start out as your fish. I mean, they always intend to be your fish, you know, they look at me from the tanks in the store and say Oi, look at us, we belong to Aziraphale! Take us to him! But they always end up dead before you get here, so they never have a chance to be your fish. You know, cycle of life, and all that."
"So they were my fish in spirit. Purchased for me?"
"And fed to your fish?"
"Not fed!" Crowley thought fast. "Put to the test."
"Ah," Aziraphale said. "I see."
"I can't very well give my friend an unworthy fish, can I?" Crowley wailed. "Any pet of yours, he has to be a tough bastard. He has to put up with a bit of the old rough and tumble to live in such a quaint little bookstore."
Aziraphale stared at him for a silent moment. "Well...it's the thought that counts, I suppose...."
"I owe you six fish," Crowley muttered bitterly. The demon summoned a very expensive bottle of brandy and a couple of snifters. "We'll toast to it."
Aziraphale swished the brandy in the snifter as was proper practice. Crowley downed his in one gulp and slammed the snifter down on the table. The Great White Bastard, Jaws of Steaming Hot Death, ecetera, didn't even move.
"Is he dead?" Aziraphale asked.
"No, he'd float. He's just a lazy wanker." What would be a proper discipline? Perhaps a few drops of Tabasco in the water? He looked up at Aziraphale, who was sniffing the brandy like some sort of Regency dandy. "What brings you here, angel?"
"A woman came into the store today," Aziraphale said, taking a sip of the brandy.
"Oh, bloody-" Crowley started, exasperated. "Would you just drink already? Stop with all the swishing about, you'll make the brandy sick. Honestly."
"This is how it's supposed to be done," Aziraphale replied.
"Shit or get off the pot, angel dear."
Aziraphale blinked. "I'm sorry?"
"Drink it or I'll take it."
"Brandy isn't to be gulped!" Aziraphale cried.
Crowley waved his hand and the brandy turned into a bottle of Petron. "Thatis. Eternity isn't long enough to watch you play with your liquor." He poured a shot into a shotglass that appeared a third of a second before the tequila hit the table. He held the glass out to Aziraphale. "Have."
The angel took the shot.
Crowley to raised his glass. "To stuff."
"And things," Aziraphale echoed. "Oh, and fish."
"Not so fast. I believe in order to properly salute the fish there should be six shots imbibed. One for each." He grinned.
"Keen this evening, demon?"
"Keen always. Cheers." Crowley downed the tequila, Aziraphale followed suit.
"So, what's this about a woman in your shop? Looking to buy a book? Did you subtly terrorize her until she left?" He poured another pair of shots.
"No. She wasn't interested in books. Wanted to talk."
"Well, she comes in and says, Ah, you're an angel, then."
Crowley winced. "Oh dear. I don't like those. Who know."
"Yes, it is a bit disorienting, isn't it? Working so long under a guise and one of them just spots it. Frightening, really."
Crowley was silent, thinking of the terror of exposure he'd felt when Adam Young had gazed upon him, reading his entire being easily as a street sign. It still made him shudder.
"What did you do?" Crowley asked, handing Aziraphale another shot, raising his. "Stuff."
"Fish number one."
"We did fish number one, I thought."
"No no, that was pre-fish."
"The fish were mentioned."
"Yes but not specifically toasted to. It was more an acknowledgment of the fish situation. You see-"
"Buggerall, fish number one it is," Aziraphale said.
"So the woman looks very tired, harried," Aziraphale said, wiping his mouth. "She says she's been struck by lightning just a month ago, poor dear, and she hasn't slept a wink since."
"Struck by lightning and given the second sight? Sounds like one of yours."
"One of ours? I beg to differ, it sounds much more like one of yours. It's not current thought, anyway, to administer psychic powers by way of a nasty shock and leave the poor human traumatized in the wake of excess information, sent out all bobbled into the world to do heaven knows what sort of damage."
"But your people are dead fond of that big showy Seigfried and Roy nonsense. Parting of the red sea, burning bush and all that. Dramatic buggers, the lot of you. We demons prefer a sort of silent, moldy, slow despair," Crowley said. "Subtlety, subtlety, subtlety."
The angel's jaw dropped. "Hitler? Chernyobl? Canada? Those were subtle?"
"See, but they are! There's no proof of occult intervention in any of them! We prefer to do our work in silence. You prefer to have the Mother Mary appear in a tortilla."
"We had nothing to do with that tortilla business. Pure silliness, that."
"Really? Was a startling likeness, have to admit." Crowley got to work pouring the third pair of shots. "We weren't at all responsible for Canada. Well, some aspects of Quebec I'll admit to, but other than that we were sure it was your work. Those people are just so damned pleasant."
Aziraphale's brow folded. "Yes, you see, that's why we were suspect...figured something awful must be up."
Crowley nodded. "But, as to the topic at hand...so your people fried the divine sight into this girl, and-"
"I told you, we had nothing to do with it. We're not that ostentatious!" Aziraphale cried desperately.
Crowley pointed at Aziraphale. "Flaming sword." He pointed at himself. "Persuasive garter snake."
The angel crossed his arms. "More like a tree boa, as I recall, with glowing yellow eyes and-"
"Flaming sword, Aziraphale."
The angel huffed and gave a cross look. "As I was saying, the poor dear hasn't slept for this whole month since she's been struck. Spying angels and demons and sprites and fearies left and right. Near out of her mind, she says, near out of her mind. Says she's planning on bringing herself to an end soon and asks for my absolution."
"She didn't mean it." Crowley handed Aziraphale his drink. "The ones who do don't tell anyone, they just do it."
"Not even an angel? I think they might tell an angel, were they to see one."
Crowley gave it a thought. "Point made," he said, raising his glass. "Stuff. Fish number two."
"One fish, two fish."
"Red fish, blue fish. Cheers."
Aziraphale coughed and undid the first button of his collar. "Anyhoo, I tell her heaven can't give absolution to suicides. She says, can't you be a dear and make an exception in my case, since my life has turned to...to....you know..."
"Yes, just that exactly. She says her life has turned to...that, and why should she be blamed for putting herself out?"
"She has a point."
"No she hasn't. It's a gift from God."
"After all that fuss about how you're not responsible for her ailment?"
"Her life, Crowley, is a gift from God. And it is a mortal sin to throw it away."
"Even if you've been dealt a smelly lot like that?"
"Even if. Gives you a chance to...er... rise above, ineffable plan, such. We've had this discussion. Dear me, I do believe this is starting to kick in."
"Good. Have more."
"Trying to tempt me, old demon?"
"Oh, shut yourself and get pissed. On with the story." Crowley was pouring another pair of shots when he started to feel himself sink into the first warm effects of swiftly imbibed tequila.
He watched Aziraphale watch his hands. The angel did that sometimes, interlaced his white hands in his lap and looked at them, as though they would tell him what to say next. It was charming, really.
Aziraphale pushed the soft blonde hair out of his eyes and continued. "So she...where was I?"
"The woman wants to off herself."
"Did she give you a method?" Crowley handed the angel another shot.
Aziraphale cocked his head."What do you mean?"
"How did she intend to do the offing?"
The angel looked take aback. "Well that is a bit morbid, isn't it? Even for you?"
He paused. "She was going to poison herself, I believe," Aziraphale said stiffly, as though he were revealing a secret he shouldn't have.
"Oh, pfff. Pfff and pfff. And pff. Next time you see her, tell her to get herself a good shot in, right in the mouth, so it blows out her spinal cord and she'll actually die. You wouldn't believe the silly buggers who shoot themselves in the temple and just end up vegetables."
Aziraphale's jaw dropped.
"What? It would be doing her a favor. I mean, if she wants to do it, she should at least do it correctly."
"Crowley, really! You honestly expect me to tell her that?"
The demon looked at the angel for a long moment, smiled, and sighed. "No. No, I don't, Aziraphale." he raised his glass.
"Fish number...number... what number?"
"Right right. Three. The third fish. Tres."
"Oi," Aziraphale said. "It's starting to taste a bit like water."
Crowley laughed. "You always say that. You said that right before you died once." The demon slapped the table. "D'you remember that? Seventeenth century, France, I think-"
Aziraphale flushed. "I remember."
"I made you drink all that whiskey and absinthe and you died like some kind of lightweight. I had dragged you into the stairwell of that whorehouse, oh, if you could have seen that way those whores fawned over you, it put me in bloody hysterics. I mean, they just thought I was drunk, because they had no idea how funny it was. Because you....you....." Crowley was laughing so hard at this point he ceased speaking.
Aziraphale closed his eyes as though he were dizzy. "Crowley...."
"....because after you passed out you kept sending me //Crowley, I think I'm dying.// And I'd send back //Ah, well, that's going to be a hell of a thing to explain, now, isn't it? An angel dying of alcohol poisoning? Good luck with that, getting a new body and all.// And you just kept sending nonsense, telling me to look after the bookshop till you got back, and I just kept saying //Dammit, Aziraphale, are you dead yet, because I'd really like to throw your body in the river and go home, this place reeks of manure.//. Remember, there was that stable across the way? You remember that, right? It was a right riot."
"And the whores, the whores wailed over you like anything, because you were just so beautiful, they said. All these whores wailing about the death of what they didn't know was an angel while what they didn't know was a demon laughed beside them like a drunk goat. Brilliant. Fucking poetic."
Aziraphale closed his eyes and shook his head. "That did take some explaining. Why, er. Why. Why I was out drinking with a demon."
"They have their eye on us, don't they?" Crowley waved his finger up and down in the time- honored gesture that indicated their superiors.
"My people don't say much."
"No? Mine either."
"I think they think...I think that...they think the contact is bene... posi ...a good thing."
"I certainly do." Crowley smiled at him and poured another two shots. "I do."
"I do too, demon dear," Aziraphale took one. "This would be fish four," he said, raising the shot. He slurred a bit. "Thass a lot of fish. You owe me all these fish."
"I do!" Crowley exclaimed like an elated child.
They looked at each other for a moment and then laughed. Crowley tried to pour more shots. A great splash of tequila hit the table. "Whoops," he said. "It's on the table."
There was a few moments of silence as Crowley tried his damnedest to pour the drinks and Aziraphale lost himself in thought. The demon was dimly aware of the angel looking at him, studying him, but most of his mind was absorbed in the aim and trajectory of the liquor.
"We should just put everything on the table," the angel said finally. He slid off the couch and onto the floor between the coffee table with Crowley.
"Whadyoo mean?" The demon clinked the mouth of the bottle clumsily on the shot glass, knocking it over. "Whadyoo mean by that, angel?"
"You ssssaid table."
"And you were getting at?"
Aziraphale's look was apparently blank, but if Crowley had been sober enough to look beneath it he would have seen some wheels turning. Some sparks.
"I don't know," Aziraphale said finally.
Crowley knocked over the second shot glass and cursed. Aziraphale gently took the bottle from him and successfully landed the shots on the second try.
"Good bloody show! Is thiss the ssssame angel I left in the whorehousse to die?"
"Is is." Aziraphale laughed. "Or as you say, issss."
"Am I hisssssing?"
"You tend to. When drunk."
They were silent for a moment, looking at the couple of full shots, then realizing they were meant to be imbibed.
"The fifth," Crowley hissed.
"My," said Aziraphale. They drank. The angel slammed his shot on the table. "Look at the fish," he demanded.
Crowley rested his chin on the table. Nothing much was happening on the fish front. Both creatures were alive and well. Seemingly asleep.
"Think they're drunk too." Crowley stated. He hit the side of the fishbowl again. "Fight! Fight, you sssstupid bugger, or I'll throw you out. Throw out the fish with the...the fishwater."
"If they fight you'll owe me more fish," Aziraphale said pointedly.
Crowley crossed his arms on the table and rested his head on them, looking at Aziraphale between straight black bangs.
"Not if your fish winsss," he replied.
"My fish has never won so far, you said."
The demon gazed at the angel and blinked slowly, like a sleepy cat. "You win sometimesss," he said quietly. "I can't deny that. You win more than you think you do."
The looked softly at one another for a moment before Aziraphale averted his eyes, a little too quickly. His gaze fell on the tequila. "Who's this rum customer?" he muttered, pushing a shot at Crowley.
"This rum cusstomer is fisssh number...er...."
"Yess. Thisss is the sixteenth fisssh. Or sssomething."
They toasted and drank.
"Rum cussstomer," Crowley said. "What the bloody hell is a rum customer?"
Aziraphale shrugged. "Buys rum."