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Aziraphale retrieves two cups from the dishwasher and sets them on the kitchen counter, ready to fill with tea and coffee respectively. "Crowley?"

"Yes, angel?" Crowley looks up from where he sits at the table, carrot in one hand and peelings pile growing in front of him.

"Why do you want your students scared anyway? That's what seems to have started the rumours. And I know, really, you're as fond of yours as I am of mine and want them to do well."

Crowley sighs and sets the finished carrot aside, shaking out cramping fingers. "Their minds grow better when they're scared enough to pay close attention. I try to walk a line between making them dislike me enough to buckle down and prove me wrong by getting good grades and scaring them off completely. I don't know how you manage to teach yours anything when they're so fond of you." He pushes the pile of peelings over the edge of the table so that they tumble into the compost bin and leans back in his chair. "I gather they still aren't taking the hints you give them?"

"No." There's a note in Aziraphale's voice somewhere between outright frustration and sad puppy whine.

"That's people for you," Crowley replies, trying to ignore the whine and failing. "Most would rather fit new information into what they think they already know that rethink everything. I mean, look at how long we waited before trying an actual partnership."

"Indeed." His angel had dived back into the dishwasher and the words came muffled, "It doesn't matter how obviously we hint, they don't take it. What do they want, a make out session in the centre courtyard?"

Crowley snorts and his words come out sharper than intended. "I'm not walking up to you and kissing you in front of everyone just to prove rumours wrong."

Aziraphale flinches, knocking his head against a shelf, and sprawls backwards onto the floor. He looks up at Crowley with a hurt expression. "Why ever not?"

"Angel," Crowley says, after a moment spent reining in his temper and softening his voice, "if I'm kissing you, I won't get to see their faces." He stoops and presses a gentle kiss into his angel's hair in demonstration. "Besides, they'd probably jump straight to the conclusion that I, the wicked Dr Crowley, am just trying to seduce you away from your dear, dear, husband Anthony."

"And what does my dear husband Anthony have to say about that, pray tell?"

"That surrender terms will have to wait until I finish making dinner." Aziraphale reaches out to help with peeling the vegetables, but Crowley waves him off. "You know almost as little about botany as I know about literature, angel."

"My dear snake, I can absolutely tell the difference between a potato and a carrot!"

"Why so can I, or so can anyone," Crowley quips back, deliberately misquoting the Shakespeare1, "but will they grow if you tell them to?"

Aziraphale mock pouts, clambers to his feet, and goes back to unloading the dishwasher."I don't need to summon anyone from the vasty deeps, I already have you right here."

"Going on with the whole scene are we? The last line certainly gets quoted a lot, but..." Crowley pauses with the peeler still in his hand, staring into the distance. "Oh," he hisses, "oh yesssss...."

"Hm?" His angel sits back on plump heels and lifts his head. "I know that tone. You've come up with something distinctly mischievous, either for us, or for them. Which is it?"

Crowley pulls off his dark glasses and his eyes practically glow with unholy glee. "I have an idea. Thanks to Shakespeare of all things. And I actually think this one will work."

"Oh? So Literature wins out after all?" Aziraphale raises blond eyebrows. He abandons the last of the pots and plants himself firmly in the other chair. "Do tell. I'm all ears."

 

 

 

 

1. Henry The Fourth, Part I Act 3, scene 1, 52–58