Crowley woke up the next morning, sunshine shining on his face and birds chirping in the distance. He just knew today would be a good day. He was finally going to be allowed outside after his previous shenanigans, and he planned to explore more of the garden to find any weak points in the security. He hoisted himself out of bed and into his wheelchair and wheeled up to the door to retrieve his breakfast. His tray was left on the table by the door, since he was still asleep when the nurse had walked in. As he picked up the tray, a harsh shrieking resounded.
"You bastarrdddddddd! I know you're in there! Get out here so I can break your other leg, demon!"
Crowley, nearly dropping his tray in surprise, backed away from the door. "...Zira? How the hell did you manage to get over here? It's barely even morning!"
"What does it matter? I snuck out of my room. I know my way around here. Now open the door, so that I may give you retribution!" the angel whispered harshly on the other side of the door.
"Bloody hell, it's too early in the morning for this. What did I even do this time?"
"What did you even-?! You stupid-" Zira raised the volume of his voice but immediately quieted down when he heard footsteps farther down the hall. Crowley stayed completely still, hoping that Zira would get caught and leave him alone.
The footsteps died out, and suddenly his door shook violently.
"I. Said. Let. Me. IN! You coward!"
"Alright, alright! Just shut up already! I'm not afraid of you!" Crowley rolled over to the door and threw it open, and an angry angel tumbled into the room and onto the floor. He held a dusty book in his right hand, and a torn page in his left.
"Oh. That. The book."
"Yes. The book. You ruined it." Venom dripped from each word Zira said.
"Is it really such a big deal? It's just a dumb book," Crowley yawned. "Now scram, mmkay?" The Bentley received an angry kick for that statement. "Hey! Don't hurt the baby!"
"Don't hurt the baby!" Zira mimicked in a nasally voice as they scowled at each other. "It's just a dumb wheelchair!"
Sighing, Crowley nonchalantly rubbed his eyes behind his sunglasses. "I'll be honest with you. It's too early in the morning for this. Come back later, and I'll be more than happy to argue or tempt or deceive or whatever it is I do."
"No. We settle this now."
"Now?" Crowley leered. "And here I was, under the impression that you were an angel."
"Sure you are," he said, rolling his eyes. "So, should I assume that angels usually covet dusty old books?"
"It's not covet-!"
"And am I supposed to assume that they seek to strike the lame?"
"But you see-" Zira sputtered.
"Not only that, but they advocate attacking the helpless as well?"
"Now see here-!"
"My, what is this world coming to?" Crowley said amusedly, inspecting his nails. "So much for heavenly honor and all that."
"Then what, pray tell, would you have me do?" Zira huffed, crossing his arms. "I can't have a demon running around tempting others to sin."
"And I can't have an angel going around and breaking every bone I have."
"Ah…" Zira said, nervously twiddling his thumbs. "I am sorry about that, you know. Don't know what came over me. I'm not usually prone to that sort of violence."
"Tell that to my broken leg," Crowley muttered darkly.
"I truly am sorry, dear. I don't know how else to put it."
Crowley's eyes narrowed in glee as he glimpsed the perfect opportunity and struck. "How about this… You swear that there'll be no more of this "smite-y angel" crap?"
Closing his eyes in thought, Zira tapped a finger against his lips. "Only if you promise me that you won't go about tempting people to damnation."
"Nothing ssso serious, I assssure you," Crowley grinned.
"And stop hissing, dear. It's unbecoming."
Crowley extended his hand. "Alright, let's shake on it. No smiting, no tempting. Deal, angel?" Zira eyed the hand suspiciously, and wrought his hands.
"Oh come on, it's not as if you're making a deal with the devil!" Crowley said, receiving a harsh glare from Zira. "Well, not literally at least." He grinned and extended his hand further. Zira reluctantly took it and shook.
"I just know I'm going to regret this somehow."
"I told you, no more hissing!"
In another hall, in another part of the asylum, a young lady shuffled down the hall in the direction of the garden. Her long asylum robe dragged behind her on the ground, dirty and worn from being stepped on. Her hair fell in her eyes, unbrushed, and every once in a while she would wave her arm at the air, as though chasing away an annoying fly. She was heading out to get some fresh air in the garden, but there was one tiny problem. She could not remember where the garden was.
"Not this door." She said as she pulled at a door, finding out it was locked. She headed to the next door and swung it open.
"WHO ARE- CLOSE THE DOOR. CLOSE THE DOOR THIS INSTANT."
"Bathroom." She closed the door dismissively and headed to yet another door. This time, the door led to a small closet filled with cleaning substances. It was one of the many janitor closets in the asylum. An old, angry-looking man stood in the middle and turned to face her.
"An' who ar' ya? What's yer name?"
"Anathema, sir. Could you possibly direct me to the garden?"
"Garden, eh?" He took a deep sigh and got a can of something that looked a lot like condensed milk off the shelf, mumbling something about "dang loonies wandering into his office."
"Alright, my lad here'll direct yer there, won't ya?" He pointed to a dark corner of the closet. Anathema squinted, as she was pretty sure that there was only one man in the room. Suddenly, the boxes stacked up shook as a dark, skinny figure rose out of them. Anathema started in surprise, about to shriek.
"Oh! I'm sorry, didn't mean to startle you. My name's Newt, I can help you find the garden." He stepped out to Anathema and smiled slightly. Anathema raised her hand to her forehead, feeling another bout of voices coming on.
"Newt... Newt. Thank you Newt, that would sure be.. helpful."
"Uh.. are you alright?" He wavered in place, unsure of whether to help her or to back away.
"Really? Him? Oh, shut up, Agnes! I don't want to hear about this. Now you're just making stuff up. Bloody witch." Anathema waved her arms, attempting to dispel the voice. Newt glanced around, hurriedly pushing Anathema out into the hallway, a call of "loonies, damn loonies!" following them out.
"Er… so do you go to the garden often"
"You ever burned a witch before? At the stake, I mean? Agnes keeps insisting that you have."
"Erm, not particularly. It's not really a, uh, habit."
"She's also telling me that you've been trying to count my nipples since we've left the other janitor."
"Well, how many do you have?"
"You certainly don't waste any time prying into people's personal issues."
"I didn't mean to offend-"
"You didn't offend me. You offended Agnes. You should probably apologize." Newt couldn't help but stare blankly at her after that. Tapping her foot on the ground, Anathema crossed her arms and stared expectantly at him. "Well, come on. She's not exactly the most patient woman. She'll leave if you take to long, and that'll just give her more time to stew over how offensive you are. And that'll just result in more headaches. When she's like that, you see, she likes to rant and rave to me for hours."
"Well then," Newt said, clearing his throat. "I sincerely apologize to Agnes. There. I hope she won't give you too many headaches now."
"I hope so too."
"Ah, and here's the garden."
As he opened the door for her, Newt suddenly noticed how lonely she seemed in that moment, despite her ancestor's constant presence. Maybe…
"Do you think… would it be okay if… Could we talk for a bit longer? If Agnes is fine with that, of course."
"I don't see why not. Just as long as you put your witchhunting days behind you."
"Of course," he smiled, relieved that he hadn't managed to screw up this one conversation with a female. "How about we sit over by the tree, then?"
"Not today. The angel and the demon are already sitting there. Have you met them before?"
"I've had the distinct displeasure of meeting Crowley last week, and I've run into that Zira man a couple of times before as well. I heard that they're trying to kill each other."
"Well, a healthy debate never hurt anyone" Anathema said, watching Crowley and Zira motion furiously at each other.
"There are a couple rumors floating around that say that the boss is keeping a close eye on that Crowley guy. They say that he pleaded insanity in a trial in order to avoid the death sentence."
"The rumors are true." Smirking slightly at Newt's incredulous expression, Anathema twirled a wisp of hair around her finger. "There's a lot that the doctors say in front of us. They think that we can't understand them."
"More the fools they are," Newt said, giving a slight chuckle. "Now, how about we sit on that bench over there?"
"Be-bop? Be-bop? Angel, I swear, you are possibly the most outdated thing since inserting floppy disks into disc drives. No one, and I mean no onecalls Queen, and I quote, 'be-bop.'"
"Well, if the staff would stop playing that absolutely garish music in this place, maybe I would give it a kinder name," Zira huffed.
"I'll agree that the damned staff needs to stop blasting continuous Queen in here, but you're completely missing the point!"
"The term "be-bop" is never to be uttered by you again. Shit, how long have you been here anyway?"
"Ten years." Crowley's eyebrows shot up.
"You heard me!" Zira sniffled and crossed his arms. "I've been here for ten years."
"So.. is that when you started thinking you were an-" Zira shot Crowley a dark glare "-fine, is that when you realized that you were an angel?"
"...Yes. I had known that I was different since I was little. I refused to get in fights, rarely socialized, and mostly read books. After I finished school, I opened up a small bookshop and lived a quiet life. However, I was contacted by above!"
"Contacted by above," Crowley repeated, unbelieving.
"Metatron? An angel or something?"
"The voice of God! How can you, a demon, not know that?"
"Well uh.. you know, I'm very low-rank. The higher-ups don't like telling us things. Intelligence is the enemy of a tyrant, and all that."
"Alright then. But yes, Metatron contacted me and informed me that I'm an agent of the heavens, placed on Earth to control and thwart the opposition. The opposition being you and your kind."
"And you.. just believed it?"
"Well of course I was suspicious at first!" Zira explaimed. "Metatron explained that when I got this body, my memory malfunctioned because I was not fully compatible. Small problems arise here and there from it. Like my constant need to eat and my incredibly weakened angelic power." Crowley listened quietly, observing Zira. Whenever they talked about normal things, Crowley often forgot that Zira did in fact believe all this. He was now again reassured that Zira was definitely not in his right mind.
"But what if the conversation with Metatron was not in fact what you thought it was?" Crowley felt some sort of duty to convince Zira that he was wrong.
"What, do you now think I'm crazy too? How can you, who is in the same position as me, doubt me?"
"No, that's not-"
"Or do you not actually think you are a demon? Is that it?" Zira was now standing, furiously motioning to Crowley.
"I do! I am a demon, sent to Earth to oppose your forces, and to cause mischief in general. I don't think you're crazy," Crowley spoke as earnestly as he could, staring Zira in the eyes. He felt guilty for lying to him, but he was afraid to make him angry again, right after they had come to terms. Zira's eyes softened, and he plumped back down next to Crowley, putting his face in his hands.
"Thank you. You know, I'm so glad that I found someone who truly understands me. Even if you are a demon. I've been so alone ever since ten years ago, so ostracized by everyone. Many times I did think that I was insane. But I just feel so sure about this. I've never been this sure of anything. It's like my whole life before was an elaborate lie. Like my actual memories were taken out and replaced with these fake ones." He sighed, turning to face Crowley. "Well, that's enough of my musings for today! Did you want to talk about anything, my dear? Share your story?" Crowley looked away.
"Uh, no it's fine. We should probably go back inside, it's getting dark." Zira smiled and stood up, reaching his hand out to Crowley. Crowley took the hand reluctantly and followed him. Farther down the path, a girl and a mechanic sat together, observing the pair as they went inside.
"You know, it's actually a pretty sad story." Anathema smiled sadly. Newt scratched the back of his head.
"Huh? What story?"
"Oh you know, of those two over there. Agnes tells me so. Not a happy ending. Pity, I quite like that Zira fellow." Anathema stood up, turning around to face Newt. "Well, thank you for keeping me company. I should get back too, they'll be rounding us all up soon anyway." She paused, looking up into the air and frowning all of a sudden. "What? You don't say. Really. Alright, alright." Newt looked up puzzled, still not used to Anathema's one sided conversations with her ancestor. Anathema looked back down at him. "She says this is inevitable, so I might as well get it over with."
"What? What's inevitabl-" Newt froze in his place as Anathema bent down and placed her lips down on his. She pulled back and smirked at the frozen boy, and walked back into the building without a word. Newt would remain sitting on that bench until his superior Shadwell would find him three hours later, murmuring about "dumb ol' boys gettin' involved with the damn loonies."