Aziraphale has been in the special education department of the Tintern Public School District for his whole entire life. Naturally, as he was disabled from birth, as well as having never lived anywhere else, this, of course, made sense. By now he was, at the very least, acquaintances with everybody in the program. Even the incoming year tens had been somewhat familiar to him, as he often volunteered to help out with the department at large. In fact, for this reason, he was also incredibly familiar with the teachers, aids, and teacher’s aids that kept the program running.
So it was quite a shock to him, when, on the first day of year twelve, he walked into Mrs. Nutter’s classroom and saw a new face; one that appeared to be an upperclassman, no less.
Thus, determined as he was to know everybody in the program, he forwent his typical seating location at the very front table right next to the teacher’s desk, and instead sat next to the newcomer.
He was tall and skinny, had hair dyed red, and was clad in a leather jacket, red v-neck shirt, several occult looking necklaces, and skinny jeans that looked so tight that it left Aziraphale wondering if sympathy sensory overload was possible and if he might have been experiencing it at that moment in time. He personally preferred much more loose, soft clothing, even if that was not particularly fashionable with the current trends. The new student was also sporting a pair of sunglasses and a wooden cane that had a silver snake handle, which Azirapahle had presumed were somehow related to the reason the new student was in this program.
He set his items down on the table and sat down quietly. Despite wanting very desperately to make acquaintance with the newcomer, he still found it very difficult to actually speak to unfamiliar people. He had been getting better about it in recent years! It was something he had been working on immensely, and he was quite proud of it. Still, he wasn’t a shy boy, not at heart anyway, and once you really got to know him, it was sometimes difficult to get him to stop talking. However, this student didn’t know him at all.
Not yet, anyways.
They had both arrived about ten minutes before the bell; Aziraphale liked having a little bit of cushion time in case his leg had decided to be particularly bothersome, and he appreciated having the extra time to get some reading done anyhow. Reading was, in fact, what he had been doing for about five minutes before his new companion gave him a particularly puzzled facial expression.
“Are… Are you still here?” Oh my, he’s Scottish! (As to not insult the beautiful nation of Scotland and your eyes with an attempt at writing in dialect, you’re just gonna have to trust me on this one.)
“Mhm,” Aziraphale choked out. His cerebral palsy caused him to talk rather slowly, which he figured probably did not aid in his whole can’t-talk-to-new-people problem, and even his noncommittal noise came out a little slower than he would’ve preferred.
“Hm. Uh… Okay. Then,” the other person said awkwardly after another few minutes of silence.
Oh bless God, the bell.
“Let’s get started, then!” Mrs. Nutter began. “I hope you’re all as excited as I am to start the new year! Now, I already know most of you, but I’m gonna take roll anyways to get familiar with the rest of your names…” Here it comes. “Anthony Crowley?”
“AJ,” he said, raising the hand he had casually propped on the table only slightly.
“Oh! Yes, that’s right, I remember now. AJ, my mistake, thank you very much. If anyone else has a name they would prefer, let me know.”
Crowley really preferred going by his last name, but for some reason he always found it weird to tell teachers that. Even still, he had always dreaded the first few attendances, especially now that he was at a new school where the teachers didn’t already know him. He supposed one of the benefits to being in special education now was that he only had to go through roll once. And he could at least find out the name of whoever that rude bloke was that sat next to him. At least, so he thought; however, the teacher continued down the list, and after almost every name barring a few that belonged to people on the other side of the room, she quietly mumbled “I saw you… I saw you… Oh! Yes, I already saw you…”
He knew he shouldn’t be so quick to judge whoever it was that had sat down by him; after all, he had no clue as to why they needed to be in special education in the first place. He was still new to this whole thing, not to mention new to Wales. Maybe the Welsh just didn’t do introductions. Still, he couldn’t help but get a little frustrated. It was frustrating enough to have to adjust to an entirely new way of life, he didn’t need people mocking his lack of sight by not conversing with him to be added onto that.
“Alright, everybody, first things first, you’ll meet up with your TAs and tell them about your summer. We have at least two to a table, yes? Perfect. Those will be your groups for the week, so make sure you introduce yourselves to anyone you might not know!”
Shit. Does he go first? Maybe the other person will introduce himself if he goes first. Or maybe he should just stay quiet to spite him. Them. He was still pretty mad. Or maybe he was just cranky. It was pretty early.
Luckily, he did not have to make that call.
“Hello AJ, hello Aziraphale,” what a name that was, “I’m Anathema,” what a name that was. And was she American? “I guess this is the A team, huh?” she laughed. He laughed. The other person didn’t laugh. Aziraphale. He didn’t laugh. They. Why was he so nervous?
“Pleasure to meet you,” he stuck his hand out in what he hoped was the correct direction. He had gotten pretty good at locating sounds in the past few months. It was something he had been working on immensely, and he was quite proud of it. She shook it, and he felt satisfied with his skills. Now, he was going to get really bold with it, and try and locate the other student. Aziraphale. Who had not made any significant amount of noise in quite some time. He stuck his hand out.
After a few minutes pass, he’s a little worried that he had gotten a little too confident in his abilities. Then, he felt a soft hand lightly touch his own and give it a gentle shake. Success. Kind of. It was possible that it took so long because the other. Aziraphale. Had to move to get there. But maybe not.
Ananthema’s smile was present in her voice. “Okay! Now that we’re all acquainted, let’s talk about our summers. AJ, would you like to go first?”
“Would rather not. It was shite.”
“That’s… uhm… that’s rather strong language. It couldn’t’ve been that ba—”
“Moved across the continent and then crashed my car, yeah, it was that bad.” Definitely cranky. Crabby, even. Tired, for sure. He made a mental note to try to make it up to her later. Maybe make it up to the other guy, too. Aziraphale.
“Oh.” But for now, if he was going to revel in his bad mood. One should always revel in their mood, he thought, even if that mood were a bad one. Made life exciting, to revel in your mood. Changed things up. Variety. “I’ll go next, then. I also moved, but not quite as far, it would seem.”
“Really? You sound American.”
“I am. Well, I was, at any rate. I’ve been in Tintern for awhile, but we just moved to the other side of town. Other than that, it was pretty uneventful. What about you, Aziraphale?”
Finally. “I didn’t do much. Volunteered at the bookshop.” He talked slowly, and loudly. Did he think he was deaf? Maybe that’s why he hadn’t been talking. Or maybe he was deaf. Though why a deaf person would sit down with someone who was clearly blind was beyond him. Was he clearly blind? What did blind people look like? What did he look like? What did deaf people look like? Did deaf people look like blind people? Vice versa? Was Aziraphale still talking? No, he definitely wasn’t. Well, they definitely weren’t. You shouldn’t go on voice alone. Probably should use they for Ananthema too. Would have to ask later.
“That’s wonderful, Aziraphale!” Oh bless Satan, a change in topic. “Today’s just going to be an easy day, going through the syllabus and all that. AJ, do you need a braille copy?”
“Can’t read braille, I’m afraid.”
“That’s okay, we’re gonna read through it aloud, anyhow. If you ever need something read to you, just ask.” This was weird. He thought it wouldn’t be that weird getting back into school, but this felt weird. “Aziraphale, can you read the first week for us?”
He talked very slowly, but in a very controlled manner, as he read from the sheet. Crowley still couldn’t quite determine if this was just how this kid spoke, or if he. They. Just thought they needed to talk like that in order for Crowley to understand them. It felt too controlled to be a speech impediment, but it’s not like he had a lexicon of all the possible speech impediments and what they sound like located in his brain anywhere.
The rest of the day had been, by and large, pretty uneventful. Well, at least that part of the first day of school stayed the same no matter where you were or what department you were in.
That is, it was pretty uneventful until around lunch time.
Thank you kindly for reading all the way through! I'm really quite excited for this au! If you have any suggestions/advice/thoughts/just plain comments then please do let me know, it's always so wonderful to read them! I'm also in the process of writing another good omens fic (my ADHD brain can't stop and won't stop), so if you're liking where this one is headed, then I recommend checking that one out! (plug plug plug.) Have a delightful day, and I do hope you come back to see the update!
Chapter 2: Allons-y!
It’s gotta get better before it gets worse.
Crowley has a tumblr and you can't change my mind. He's also a big ball of nerves and dork behind that cool facade.
Thank you very much for continuing on to the second chapter!! I've been very excited by the positive feedback so far, and I hope that I do you all proud, especially my fellow disabled people! Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this chapter, and have a lovely day!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Alright everybody, that’s lunch,” Mrs. Nutter said as the bell rang. Fuck. Crowley was still relatively unfamiliar with the floor plan of this school, despite doing a preliminary walk around a couple times before the year began. To be completely honest, he was still pretty terrible at walking without a guide, but his pride had prevented him from requesting one. He needed his cane for the actual walking part, as his legs were only slightly more functional than his eyes, and while he had a probing cane with him, he was still not very good at using both at the same time without… well, to put it eloquently, falling flat on his face.
His facial expression must’ve given away his contemplation. Or perhaps it was the fact that most other people had left the classroom by now.
“Do you need help getting to lunch?” Aziraphale asked him. It was the first time Aziraphale had spoken to him directly. He was still cautious of their tone. It was much more difficult to read people now.
“Yeah, can you show me where it is?”
“Okay! We’ll have to stop by the lockers, though.”
“That’s alright, I brought a bag lunch anyways.” He stood up, walked to where he heard Aziraphale’s voice and felt around to find his arm. Aziraphale tensed up and he immediately let go.
“Oh, sorry, I thought— I figured you knew I needed— well, I guess it makes sense that you wouldn’t but— I mean, if you don’t like being touched— I should’ve made myself a little more clear—”
“It’s alright! Just a little surprise, is all!! Just be sure to ask next time. Don’t worry about it, AJ.”
“Crowley is fine.”
“As in like. My last name. Call me that please.”
“I know I said earlier that I prefer AJ, which I do over Anthony, but I would really really prefer Crowley and I know that’s confusing but— did you just say okay?”
He giggled a bit, “Mmhm. Off to lunch, then?” Oh! How polite, this time they had extended their arm.
They started walking towards the lockers. At least, that’s where he was pretty sure they were going. Aziraphale’s jumper was very soft. This was definitely the direction that the lockers were in, yes. Is this a cardigan? It’s pretty warm out for a cardigan, but he can’t really judge, he’s always pretty cold himself. He had a leather jacket on right now, for Satan’s sake. Which locker was his, again? Six sixty… three, yes, six sixty three. So close, yet so far. All of the special ed students had lockers by each other, so he didn’t have to worry about losing Aziraphale. Aziraphale walks slow. Is he walking slow because he needs to or because he thinks Crowley needs to? Is Crowley still cranky? Definitely not crabby anymore, he reveled in that mood long enough, but cranky is something that could last a whole day. Very stilted walking, too. It must be because Aziraphale thinks they need to match his pace with the cane. Maybe he was walking slow. No, if he was walking slow he wouldn’t notice someone else walking slow. Are they wearing another jumper under their cardigan? He should probably ask for pronouns. Would that be rude? What if they are trans and if he asks that’ll make them dysphoric. Oh God, that would be awful. What is this thing made of?
The sound of a locker opening interrupted his rapidly accelerating train of thought. So Aziraphale is right handed. Or both handed. Or either handed. Ambidextrous? Yes, that one. Why was he so nervous? Was he always this nervous? Oh, yeah, that’s right. He was, actually.
“Which one is yours?”
“Six six three.”
They laugh. “Spooky.”
“Not quite spooky, three off.”
“No, I mean mine is six sixty two. But it’s also spooky like that too, I guess.”
“We’re neighbors, then?” He said with a grin.
“I suppose so.” He could hear him smile back. Success. Wait, shit, his hands were full of cane and arm. He let go momentarily and felt around for the lock. Alright, his training has prepared him for this moment. And… boom. The locker opened and he grabbed the bag from the top shelf, closed the door, and moved it to the same hand that he was using his cane with in one fell swoop. He reached for their arm, but then remembered.
“Is it okay if I grab back on now?”
“Yep!” He felt around for Aziraphale’s arm. Dress shirt. Classy. “You must really like Dr. Who.”
He blushed a little. “Er, yeah, in middle school.” He doesn’t know why he called it middle school, he’s pretty sure they call it something else in Scotland but is, for some mysterious reason, unable to recall what they do say. Almost as though he googled it in his mind and got tonnes of results, but all of the information had been presented in a very daunting and confusing manner, especially given that his ADHD was already kinda going off the shits. So he called it middle school, okay?
“But you still have the—”
“It’s a comfortable scarf, alright?!” Still cranky. For sure cranky. Not embarrassed, just cranky.
“I like Dr. Who too. Nine’s my favorite.”
“...I like ten the best… and four, obviously. Four was an aesthetic king.”
Aziraphale laughs. Crowley wishes he knew why they walked so slowly. He wants to know if he should be mad. Should he be mad anyways? Not like mad anyways like mad regardless of if they could control it or not, but mad anyways like should he really be mad if Aziraphale really were just trying to be considerate. But it could also be an insult, he’s had that happen to him before. A few times now.
“You wanna talk about aesthetics? Six knew what style really meant.”
It was Crowley’s turn to giggle. Er, chuckle. Cooly. “Oh for sure." They couldn’t be making fun of him. Unless they were making fun of him about Dr. Who too. Oh no. Were they making fun of him for being a nerd who loved Dr. Who? Or worse, humoring him out of pity?
“I usually eat at the bench rather than the cafeteria proper, less of a walk back.” There it is.
“Walk back's not a problem. Really, it’s fine. You don’t have to hold back just for me, you know.” Was that polite enough? Was that polite at all? Aziraphale seemed polite. Oh God. Satan. That’s right, he trying out satanism right now. Oh Satan, he’s not responding.
“Well… erm… that’s fine… I guess…” He sounded disappointed. It wasn’t polite. Fuck.
“Or we could eat at the bench. Bench is good. Fine. Let’s eat at the bench.” He needed to calm down. He was cranky. No, wait, what’s the word? Anxious. Yes, that was it. Or was it ADHD. Could be both. He needed to sit down.
They sat down at the bench.
Aziraphale was unsure as to what Crowley thought of him. His face was an unreadable enigma for most of the day, and he seemed to have been avoiding him until they walked to lunch together. He had never switched schools before, or even moved house really, so he had no idea as to what might possibly be going on in his mind. Then again, Aziraphale didn’t really much know what was going on in anybody’s mind at most points in time, so he supposed this wasn’t too different. He was rather worried that he might’ve been a bother to Crowley. He didn’t mean to pester him, after all. Maybe he shouldn’t’ve asked about Dr. Who.
He took a bite of his sandwich.
They didn’t really talk much.
Crowley took a bite of his fruit. “So…”
“So… What do you like to do for fun?”
Aziraphale beamed. “Oh, I love reading and volunteering—”
“I said for fun, mate.”
“Those are fun! I’m reading the most delightful book right now!”
Crowley gave a smile. Success. “Oh really? What’s it about?”
“Sex, terrorism, consumerist culture, and toxic masculinity!”
Crowley’s smile dropped. It was then replaced by an even bigger one. “I didn’t take you as the Fight Club sort. Figured you’d be more of an, I don’t know, Oscar Wilde, victoriany fellow. That’s what most people who read in their free time are, anyway.”
“Oh, but I am! Fight Club is just modern Wilde, really. Sexual desires being taboo in society and yet still being a driving force behind how it functions, looking into the strict roles that society forces on men and women and how detrimental they are to the psyche, reflecting consumerist culture and the damaging effects it has on people, the idea of identity and how names and presentation relate to one's own identity, plus the humor and satirical nature of both Palahniuck and Wilde can’t go unnoticed, and not to mention Oscar Wilde totally boned the man who made the Queensberry rules’ son and then told him to square up, which seems pretty fighty to me!” He flapped his hands a little while talking.
Crowley seemed to be… actually intrigued? God, he hoped. “Well, when you put it that way….”
And then what he had feared most happened.
“Aziraphale! Awe, did you make a little friend?” This voice was not Crowley’s.
Oh no! Who could that be, I wonder? ;)
Thank you very much for reading, and I do hope you decide to keep up on the updates! If you have any suggestions/comments/questions/thoughts/opinions/corrections or anything like that then please do let me know!! I hope to see you again soon!
Chapter 3: He Doesn't Look a Thing Like Jesus
It’s gotta get worse before it gets better.
Howdy there! Just wanted to say thank you as always for reading through this. I've kinda sorta fallen in love with this little au, so it's been really reassuring to me to see that other people like it too! Sorry if these are getting repetitive, but I just can't help it. I'm so grateful!
Just a heads up! There's some ableism in this chapter, so proceed with caution if that's a difficult subject for you.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Aziraphale did not respond to Gabriel. His brother had a tendency of making him nonverbal. He saw Gabriel eyeing Crowley (whom Aziraphale was certain must’ve been quite confused by this situation) up and down. This was when it occurred to him that not only was Crowley’s jewelry occult looking , it was actually occult. He had been sporting a crystal, a small vial (presumably of incense; Anathema often wore them as well), and a pentacle pendant. Aziraphale could already hear the lecture he was about to get, and would have groaned had he been capable of doing so.
“Aziraphale...” his tone was unbelievably condescending, “Are you sure you should be hanging out with this kid? He seems like he might be a… bad influence.”
“You do realize that I’m sitting like, right in front of you, right? I can hear you.”
Gabriel ignored him. "You don't want to be around people like that, you know. They might peer pressure you into doing very, very bad things."
Aziraphale averted his eyes to the floor, just barely being able to see the other two out of the corner of his vision. "I haven't pressured them into jack shit, mate. Besides, they're the one who approached me," Crowley explained. That remark made Aziraphale feel a little guilty. If he hadn't've tried to befriend him, Crowley wouldn't've been forced into this quite unpleasant conversation.
Gabriel's ignorance persisted. “Aziraphale, don’t you think you should be making friends with people who are… a little bit more your speed?”
Gabriel finally acknowledged him, “Yeah,” he put his hand up and whispered in a manner that was still completely audible for Aziraphale, “He’s slow. Which I'm sure you've figured out by now, and are trying to use that to your advantage in pursuit of corrupting him with… with your... demonic wiles.”
Crowley’s face made a strange expression that Aziraphale couldn’t quite place. “Corrupting him… with my... 'Demonic? Wiles?'”
“You can’t fool me, I’ve seen your type before, and your type has no business talking to an innocent like Aziraphale unless it is to spread your Satanic ideals.”
“I don’t know who the lad your talking about is, but I’ve known Aziraphale for all of four hours and he’s already discussed sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll with me. Hardly an innocent.”
Until this point, Aziraphale had been silently digging into the wood of the bench they were sitting on. With a few final claw marks, he gave a little smile and quietly said, “That’s not true, we never once mentioned rock ‘n roll. Nor the drugs, come to think of it, though we probably could talk about drugs if you wanted.” That took far more energy to say than he had wanted it to.
Gabriel looked horrified. “Aziraphale! Where did you learn about that stuff?!”
“Well he does attend public school.”
Gabriel shot Crowley a nasty look. Aziraphale wondered if Gabriel’s realized that won’t work yet. “No! He’s never talked of such matters until he met you. If I find out that you’ve got him looking at… at pornography, or… smoking marijuana or... something else entirely inappropriate, I’ll…” He looks over at Aziraphale and hesitates to think of his word choice. “I’ll… I’ll teach you a lesson!” And with that, Gabriel storms away. Or at least, he tried to. However, as he walked, Crowley casually reclined back on the bench, his legs completely extended, and Gabriel tripped with a loud thud.
“Oops, sorry mate. Didn’t see you there.” Aziraphale knew he shouldn’t’ve, but he smiled as Gabriel got back up and left in a huff.
Well, that was exhausting.
“And who was that massive tool?” Crowley said, still smug from his successful tripping maneuver. When Aziraphale didn’t respond, he started to get a little worried. Had he done the right thing? Or did he do the wrong thing? That must’ve been someone who was close to Aziraphale. God. Satan, he wasn’t thinking, he shouldn’t’ve said anything. Or at the very least shouldn’t’ve tripped him. Aziraphale must hate him now. He’s giving him the silent treatment for sure. Or worse, maybe he left. He moved so quietly, it was entirely possible. Especially when Crowley got lost in thought like this. He should probably stop being lost in thought.
The bell rang. Crowley got up. Moment of truth. “Can I hold on to your arm again?”
No response. Shit. He’s gone. Fuck. He fucked up, he definitely shouldn’t’ve—
He felt a gentle touch on the back of his hand. He smiled and grabbed his companion’s arm, and they started walking back to their class.
They once again sat at the table in the back as things started back up.
“Alright then, moving on. We’re gonna go over this week’s assignment for Home Ec. Jumping into cooking!” He heard her papers flipping. Their papers flipping. “Aziraphale, would you like to read out the dishes we’re gonna be making?” There was something in their tone that made Crowley uneasy. Something that reminded him of that jackass from earlier. Was this how all people talked to him?
There wasn’t a response.
“Awe c’mon Aziraphale, please? I know you can do it.” Don’t be rude.
No response. Don’t be rude.
“You can do—” Don’t be rude
“God, leave him the fuck alone. Jesus Henry Christ.” Shit.
“You shouldn’t talk to people like tha—”
“And neither should you,” he snapped. Let the reveling begin.
“What!? Like what?! I’m just trying to help him learn.”
“Learn what? How to read? Cause newsflash, he’s been doing that the whole bloody day!”
“He has those too! What the fuck is up with you people?!”
“AJ, please, calm down…”
“I am calm! I am! Calm!” he yelled uncalmly. “What are you gonna do?! Put me into a wee little time out until I’m all better and nontroublesome? This is right bloody bogus, I’m out of here!” He stormed out of the room, guns blazing. While he was new to being blind, he had a mastery over his support cane that, at least in his own opinion, was unparalleled. He had managed getting out the door well enough, and he made a b line for the bathrooms. That was one of the paths he made completely and totally sure to have down pat when he did his walk arounds. Luckily there was nobody in the hallway, or at the very least nobody who had the misfortune of being in the path of the charging bull. By the time Mrs. Nutter reached the main hallway, he was already well out of sight and thoroughly locked into the all gender restroom (something he was surprised to learn that this school had the first time he visited.)
As far as first days go, he’d rate this one… hmm... Probably a solid 4 out of 10.
Not his worst, but it could've gone better.
:C What will happen to our lads now?
Thank you very much for reading! If you have any questions/comments/thoughts/concerns/suggestions etc., then please do let me know! It really makes my day. I hope you stay tuned for future updates and have an especially lovely day!
Chapter 4: The Comeback Kid
An arrangement is made, of sorts.
Thank you for all of the lovely support you've all shown so far!! I'm so glad that other people seem to be liking this au and it really is a joy to write. I hope you have a wonderful day and enjoy this chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Crowley was not in class for the next few days, which made Aziraphale incredibly concerned. It had been a long time since he had needed to leave the class in a similar fashion himself, but he knew first hand that it was not a particularly fun time. Plus, he couldn’t help but feel guilty about the whole ordeal. Somehow, he felt like it was all his fault. He had known what his family had thought about the… er, “unholy” things in life, yet he continued to pursue this acquaintanceship anyhow. Not to mention him being nonverbal is what had set off the final altercation in the first place. The more he ruminated on it, the more reasons he had found for Crowley to be angry with him, and the less he talked throughout the week. How terrible, it must’ve felt, to be Crowley in that moment. First day of school in a whole new place and immediately burdened with all of this. It had brought him close to total overwhelm-tion many times over the past few days. By now, his side of the wooden table was covered in little carvings he had made with his nails. Hearts were the easiest, but there were a few stars in there too, and currently he was trying the particularly herculean feat of carving his favorite word into the desk in script. Ineffable. He liked it because it was a word that described something that words can’t describe; his second favorite word was, naturally, paradox. It also just looked really pretty in script. It was right before lunchtime on Friday, and, having given up on being good at maths long ago, he was not particularly bothered by checking out of his classwork to stim.
“Hey Aziraphale, what did you get for number seven?” Anathema asked, peering over his shoulder. The teacher’s assistants may have been there to assist the teacher, but they still had to do the class work. Generally, they were students who, for some reason or another, would likely be in the year-long versions of these classes anyways, and who wanted to be in education for their future career. Aziraphale wasn’t sure if there were any other schools in the whole world that had a special education department that worked this way, but he did think that the way it worked at his own school would make things a lot more convenient in, say, some kind of fictional narrative setting. He understood that, as a general rule, lampshading an inaccuracy in one’s own work was not the same as fixing it, but he figured if this fictional setting were in one of the works he was reading, and then acknowledged as such in a strange authorial tangent, he would understand, suspend his disbelief a little bit, and forgive the author for such a thing. He responded to Anathema with a simple head shake ‘no,’ as though she had asked a yes or no question.
“You should really be doing your work.”
He moved his hand up to his chin and looked up towards the ceiling to make it, rather melodramatically, look like he was actually considering her suggestion, and then responded with an enthusiastic head shake ‘no,’ going back to his table carving.
“Uggghhh, fine. How about this—” It seemed like she was going to say what ‘this’ might be, but instead her mouth was agape as she looked directly behind him. He heard the sound of a bag being thrown to the floor and a body slumping into a chair and smiled, looking over to see that Crowley had returned.
There was silence.
“...You ever gonna say what ‘this’ is?” Crowley asked casually, as though he was not showing up halfway through the school day and the last time they had seen him he had not yelled at Anathema and stormed off the face of the planet for three days.
“Well, it was going to be a game of hangman, considering Aziraphale has apparently been playing it by himself for the whole period, but—” She was cut off by the lunch bell.
“Would you look at that? My timing is really impeccable, isn’t it?” Almost everyone got up and left, leaving the two lads alone in the classroom momentarily.
“You still there?” Aziraphale touched his hand lightly to confirm that he was. He still wasn’t sure if Crowley was actually okay with unannounced touching or not, but he wasn’t really sure what else he could do to answer that question. Crowley smiled. “Good. I was thinking we might eat lunch here today? Obviously, you don’t have to, I’m sure the scenery must get boring after awhile. But I figured, it’d probably be better that way, y’know. No uninvited guests, plus I should probably talk to Mrs. Nutter about what I missed. And I didn’t even stop by my locker on the way here, so. Saves a walk.” Was he rambling? Aziraphale didn’t take him for a rambling type.
Aziraphale was once again stumped as to how he was going to answer this, when he was struck with an idea. He dug his thumb into the wood of the table, and carved out the word ‘YES’ (capitals, he found, were much easier to carve out.) He then lightly grabbed Crowley’s hand, tugging on it gently, and guided it over to the carving.
“First sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll, now vandalism? Someone’s being a bit of a fallen angel,” Crowley chuckled. Aziraphale frowned. Has he done something wrong? No, Crowley’s facial expressions still seemed quite pleased. His companion moved his hand over the words. “This bit always feels like reading a Ouija Board,” he said, “Okay, great. I assume you probably have to get your lunch. I’ll be here when you get back. Obviously.”
Aziraphale smiled, touched his hand gently again, and gave a little pat to indicate he was leaving. When he came back, Mrs. Nutter was already sat down next to Crowley, going over what he missed. Aziraphale sat next to them and ate his lunch quietly, glad that Crowley didn’t seem to be angry with him anymore.
Aziraphale was very distracting, Crowley had concluded. But so was anything and everything. That was the ADHD lifestyle. Still, Crowley could hardly focus on anything Mrs. Nutter was saying about… uh logarithms? No, she couldn’t’ve been talking about logarithms, it’s only the first week of class. Review. She’s reviewing. Oh Satan, did they go over logarithms in this school in year eleven? What kind of hell is this. Why did humans invent logarithms, anyways? They’re dumb. Just be normal maths. Didn’t seem like Aziraphale liked maths either. Anathema said he’d been playing hangman all period. Or maybe he was just really good at it. Got it done right away. Aziraphale was distracting. So were these apple slices. Did they really go over logarithms in year eleven at this school?
“AJ? Did you hear me?” Mrs. Nutter’s voice cut through his thoughts.
“Hm? No. What was that?”
“I said ‘Don’t be afraid to ask for help.’ We’re here to help you out, you know, whether it’s with a bad maths problem or with a bad day.”
“Erm. Yeah. Okay,” he said reluctantly, fighting the blush on his face. He figured that was probably gonna have to come up eventually, but that didn’t make him any less embarrassed about the whole situation. He really tried his best to look cool and collected, but sometimes he just couldn't hold back. He would much rather be distracted by Aziraphale then talk about this. Or maths. Not distracted by maths, but be distracted by Aziraphale to prevent him from having to focus on maths. Did Aziraphale come back? He listened. Not to Mrs. Nutter, who was in fact talking and should probably be listened to, but he listened. A light turn of a page was confirmation that Aziraphale had, indeed, come back. If he had been thinking, the confirmation would’ve been when he had wondered this same exact thought but mere moments ago before hearing Aziraphale sit down in a chair and thinking, ‘Oh! He’s back.’ But he had not been thinking, not real thinking. Not, like, smart thinking. Zoning out thinking. What was it called when you thought about thinking? Metathinking?
“And that’s basically it for what you missed. We might have to arrange for you to meet up with someone after school to help you with the work sheets, though… probably not Anathema, I imagine…”
Crowley excitedly looked over at Aziraphale. He really hoped he was in the same spot.
“Really, Aziraphale? Are you sure? It’ll require a lot of talking.”
“Okay, then. But remember not to push yourself too much. You can always back out if you need to, dearie.”
She said the line!!! What will come of this, I wonder?
Thank you so much for reading, and if you have any questions/comments/concerns/thoughts/etc then please do let me know! I get very nervous whenever I try to respond to them, but I swear I read them and they really make my day! I do hope I see you again as this progresses! I love exclamation points!!!
Chapter 5: Cooking by the Book
It’s time to learn a little bit more about each other.
Hello!! I'm very excited about this chapter!!! Sorry that I am yelling!!!!! It's cute and I adored writing it. I'm so glad about how many people have enjoyed this story so far, and I'm so thankful for everybody who's been reading this. I hope you enjoy this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Since it was Friday (and thus Funday, as Mrs. Nutter had named it), their assignment for home economics was cake decorating. Thursday’s assignment was, naturally, to make said cakes for decorating in the first place; so, Crowley made his whilst the others coated theirs in frosting and sprinkles (or, for those who didn’t enjoy such things, just flat out dug in.) He was having a right blasted old time with it, trying to force the dough to listen to him. Every time he asked for a spot check, it was always either too watery or too solid, and it was starting to get on his nerves. Why should he need to know how to make a bleeding cake, anyways? He wasn’t going to be making cakes all the time. He wasn’t gonna make any cakes at all. Ever. He wasn’t going to eat cake ever again, he was officially a pie person now. Pies were better, anyways. Ever have an apple cake? No. And you shouldn’t. And pies are versatile. You can put meat in a pie. Oh, why couldn’t he get this cake right? Wasn’t cake supposed to be something easy. Stupid. Stupid Stupid Stupid—
“I think you yelling at it worked, Crowley!” Was he yelling? Holy shit, wait a minute, Aziraphale’s talking. Okay, that sounded rude. He meant it in a good and happy way, not in a shitty condescending way. In his mind. “You better stop stirring it though.” Crowley stopped stirring it.
“Can you make sure I don’t spill any on the table?”
“I can try! We can pour it together!” He said, gently placing his hands over Crowley’s on the bowl. “Oh! I’ve been meaning to ask, but is this okay?”
Crowley smiled. “Trust me, if it wasn’t, I would’ve let you know by now, angel.”
There was the sound of someone choking and a utensil crashing against the table. “Sorry! Sorry, my bad. Uh. Carry on,” Anathema said. That was strange. Hope she’s okay.
Aziraphale giggled a little. “Like in Rent ,” he said. Before Crowley could attempt to recall what scene in Rent had someone choking on cake in it (if he had to hazard a guess, it was probably somewhere in “La Vie Boheme”), Aziraphale continued, moving the bowl and Crowley with it. “Let’s go on the count of three, okay? One, two, annnnnd…. Three!” They poured the bowl slowly, Aziraphale’s careful hesitance holding Crowley’s natural jerkiness back for a nice, balanced pour. He stuck the pan in the oven and closed the door, letting Aziraphale set the timer.
“So what have you been up to with your cake, then?” Crowley said, leaning against the table.
“Oh! I’m so glad that you asked! I’m really quite happy with it, food design is a minor passion of mine,” he said in a tone of voice that indicated that it was, in fact, more than just a minor passion of his. “It’s really relaxing, and fully engaging! Anyways, I’ve decided to decorate this one with a lovely cream frosting, beautiful little frosting roses around the edges, with blue leaves. I’ve gotten quite good at it I think. Oh! And the roses are yellow. I briefly considered pink, but that’s so cliche, isn’t it? I’ve seen quite a few videos where they’ve made other flowers, and I’ve been meaning to try those out as well, but I do just love how the roses look so much. So I figured a different color might be a good way to expand my horizons a little bit.” His voice sounded lovely, filled completely with passion now. His previously noted careful enunciation had left it a little bit, which Crowley, come to think of it, now realized had happened when he was talking about Oscar Wilde and Fight Club. It was nice. He didn’t feel like there was any restraint or care anymore, just passion and somebody who wanted to share that passion with him. There was a noise being made while Aziraphale was talking; some kind of fluttering sound that Crowley couldn’t quite place. Eventually it stopped, and Crowley could hear Aziraphale go back to decorating, still talking about the different techniques he was going to try, occasionally asking him for input on what he should do next, which he answered to the best of his ability. The binger bonged, signalling that it was time to take the cake out of the oven and put it into the fridge, and the bell rang, signaling that it was time for the weekend.
“What’s that patch on your bag?” Aziraphale asked, having not seen anything like the symbol before.
“Which one? There’s a lot of patches on my bag.”
Aziraphale poked the patch, hoping that Crowley might be able to feel the location and remember which one was in that spot. “The one with the yellow and purple stripes on it.”
Crowley looked a little uncomfortable for a moment, but it passed quickly as he moved his bag to his other side. “Can I grab on?”
Aziraphale extended his arm. “Go ahead!” The two started walking.
“Erm... it’s the nonbinary pride flag.”
“Pardon me for asking, but what’s that?”
“Well… It’s when you’re not fully a girl or a boy. Not binary.”
Aziraphale was taken aback a little. He even stopped walking without even thinking about it, which he regretted, as he and Crowley both nearly ate shit. “You okay, angel? You… don’t have a problem with that, right?”
“No! No, I just… I didn’t know that was an option.” He smiled. “That explains so much.”
“It… Does? I mean, I don’t really think I act one way or the other, but I generally thought that I mostly present masculinely—”
“No, er, I’m sorry dear, I was talking about myself.” It was Crowley’s turn to look taken aback. His previously noted difficult to read facial expressions had left his face a little bit, which Aziraphale, come to think of it, now realized had happened when the two first had lunch together. It was nice. He looked absolutely gobsmacked, and then completely elated. It made his face look lovely.
“Can I hug you?” Were not the words that Aziraphale was expecting him to say, but were the words that he heard regardless. That was certainly a tall order, but he obliged and hugged his new companion anyways. It didn’t last too long; he wanted to save his energy for the walk to Crowley’s car (well, his mum’s car, but technically the car was Crowley’s car.) But it was nice. The incense or whatever Crowley had in that bottle smelled nice, like black licorice; myrrh, perhaps? His hand had immediately wandered up to Aziraphale’s curly blonde hair. They broke apart and continued walking to the car.
“You’re a lot shorter than I thought you were.”
“I’m not that short!” He rolled his eyes.
“So… does this mean you want to be called anything different or use different pronouns or anything like that?”
“No, I suppose. Not for now, anyhow,” he was quite proud of that rhyme, “What about you?”
“Angel, I think you know by now I speak my mind about these sorts of things.”
Aziraphale smiled. “Oh! I nearly forgot to ask, but do you have a cell phone? We’ve gotta meet up to get you caught up, you know. Plus, I do think I should show you my personal favorite places around town, since you’re still kind of new to the area.”
Crowley raised an eyebrow. “Sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, vandalism, gender nonconformity, and cellular telephones? Truly a man of modern times.”
“I don’t know if I’d go that far.” He took out his phone and added Crowley as a contact, and vice versa for Crowley’s phone.
“I’ll see you again this weekend, then?” Crowley said while getting into the car.
“Yep,” Aziraphale beamed, “And I have the perfect place in mind.”
You didn't think I could really go a whole multichapter fic without mentioning that these two are nonbinary, did you? Also I would like everyone to know that every time Aziraphale flaps his hands that I, too, flap my hands in stimming solidarity.
This was really self indulgent (though I suppose the whole fic is so what else is new), but I hope you enjoyed it. Your comments are always appreciated, I truly adore seeing them, and as always, I really do hope you feel inclined to keep reading. Have a wonderful day!
Chapter 6: The Start of Something New
It's finally the weekend! And you know what they say about the weekend.
Hello there! Just stopping by to thank you all for your support. It really makes my heart soar to think other people are enjoying this as much as I am. It really is a wonderful feeling, I couldn't be happier!
The heads up for this chapter is kinda strange because most of it is just like. Very very vaguely hinted at. But I suppose if I'd have to label it, I'd put a warning for ableism, body image problems (very very brief), and implied homophobia and child abuse (emphasis on the implied.) If you find there's something else I should put in the heads up, then let me know so I can add it and keep it in mind for the future!
Hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Aziraphale had to wait until after football practice was over before he could go home, as his brother was the one who drove them. After Crowley’s car, a pretty sick looking vintage number, peeled out of the car park, he turned around to head towards the library, as per his usual routine. However, on his way, he was stopped by a rather devious looking Device.
“So… Are you gonna tell me what that was all about?” She said, winking.
Aziraphale was. Confused, to say the least. “Are you gonna tell me what ‘that’ is?”
“You know what I’m talking about! You must!”
Aziraphale raised an eyebrow.
“He called you angel!!”
“Oh! That? I’m pretty sure that’s just an inside joke. He called me a fallen angel earlier, and I guess it must’ve stuck? I don’t know, I didn’t really think about it much. Reminded me of Rent! It is quite a bit shorter and easier to pronounce than Aziraphale, though, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know, Aziraphale, it didn’t seem like he was joking. Plus…” she smirked, “I saw you two getting prretttty handsy with each other in the hallway.”
Aziraphale laughed. “What, so it’s illegal to hug people now?”
“Oh my God, you guys hugged?! I was just talking about you walking arm in arm!”
“Anathema! He’s blind! Of course we were!”
“Don’t you think if he needed a guide, he would have one?” Hm. That would make more sense, wouldn’t it? He didn’t have one when he stormed out, nor did he seem to have one when he walked into class earlier.
“Just because he doesn’t need one doesn’t mean he doesn’t find having one helpful,” Aziraphale settled on.
“Aziraphale, I don’t understand how you can be so smart and yet so fuckin’ stupid sometimes.” He really preferred Anathema’s disposition outside of the classroom rather than how she behaved inside it. Outside of it, she never held back what she was saying, since she didn’t have the pressure of disappointing her grandmother. Thus, she actually talked to him like he was a real, mature person, rather than a small animal she did not know how to take care of and was worried she might accidentally kill. Even if the less filtered version of her was a little more rude, and certainly more vulgar, she was also much more of a realist. A ‘kick in the arse friend,’ as he had once heard it described. He knew her well enough by now to know she didn’t mean ‘fuckin’ stupid’ in the way, say, Hastur and Ligur would yell it at him in the hallway.
“Honestly, we’re not even friends yet, Anathema. We don’t even know each other. Not to mention I don’t think it would be very wise of me to be ‘on the scene’ again anytime soon,” he shuddered, “not after last time.”
He could see her fight the urge to laugh at his outdated slang (he was always sure to use it when mentioning anything serious, as to keep the mood light) before she sighed. “Listen, your family is assholes—”
“Indeed they are.”
“But you can’t let that stop you.”
“You either,” he reminded with a spot of sass.
“Yes, yes, I know that I’m not really the best person to be giving this lecture. Do as I say, not as I do.”
“You could always just… y’know… do it too.”
“Hmmmm, unlikely. But I’ll try if you will?” She stuck her hand out for a shake.
Aziraphale took it. “It’s a deal, my dear girl.” In all honesty, he really only did that to make her get off his case. “Oh, and Anathema, one more thing.”
“This may seem like a strange request, but… You wouldn’t happen to have an old Ouija board you’re not using any more, would you?”
“Okie dokie exclamation point I’ll be at yours no later than twelve thirty exclamation point colon right parenthesis,” the robotic voice had been forced to say for about the sixth time in the last two hours. He was still in his bedroom, as it was Saturday morning; thus, he could play it on repeat without being hopelessly embarrassed. He shouldn’t’ve been this excited to have a study buddy, but he couldn’t help it. Aziraphale’s house was in walking distance, it turned out. That was very exciting. There was a rather aggressive knock at his door.
“You alive in there, laddy? Your breakfast is getting cold, you know,” yelled a woman with a beautifully thick Scottish accent that could not possibly be represented in any kind of nice and accurate phonetical manner, so it shall not be. Perhaps 'yelled' isn’t the correct way to describe it, actually. She didn’t really yell, so much as calmly say things forcefully and loudly.
“I’m coming, you old bat!” He groaned out, much more yellingly than her, as he got out of bed. His accent was much thicker at home. I know you can’t technically see that, but I’m going to need you to trust me again.
‘At home,’ by the way, refers to what had been his place of residence for about two, three months. Three months now? Or was it technically four? At what point do you start counting the current month? Anyhow, this place of residence did not, despite what he had told Aziraphale, actually belong to his parents. It belonged to his childhood nanny, Mrs. Ashtoreth, and her husband, Francis, whom he had already known from being his family’s former gardener. They had moved here some time ago, just shortly after he stopped being young enough to need a nanny, and took him in as soon as they found out he was in need of a new place to stay. Sometimes, another one of her former wards (a shiteating kid with a dope name) would come to visit, but other than that, it didn’t really seem like they had much contact with the outside world, and they would very much like to keep it that way. He wondered if Aziraphale would like Frank’s plants. He quite liked Frank’s plants. They were fun to vent to. Honestly, Mrs. Ashtoreth did look like she could be his mother, they were incredibly similar to each other personality wise, too, so it was hardly a lie. She even sort of raised him, really. Sometimes he imagined that the plants could cower in fear. That would piss old Frank right off, wouldn’t it? Making his plants cower in fear? It was hard to make Frank pissed off, he was too mellow. Loved things a lot. Very passionate. Would probably get along with Aziraphale right well. What time was it?
“You say that, but I don’t hear no walking in there!” He grumbled, putting on his glasses as he got up. He did his morning routine, put on his clothes (a distinct benefit of exclusively wearing blacks, reds, and greys was that he didn’t have to worry about if what he was wearing clashed), shoved his phone and wallet into his pocket, and waltzed into the kitchen.
“What time is it, nan?” he said hoarsely, still a little grumbley and definitely crabby.
She handed him some cold burnt toast. “Eleven forty eight. You know. Lunch time.”
He took a bite and grimaced a little. But, he was hungry, and used to the ever so delightful taste of this woman’s cooking, so he continued gnawing at it anyways. “I’m meeting someone at twelve thirty.”
“You? Doing things? With people? Seems suspicious.”
“It does not! He’s gonna help me out with the stuff I missed in school and we’re gonna go around the town a bit.”
“Dark Lord in Hell, what have you done with the child I raised! Now I know it must be something suspicious; the AJ Crowley I knew would never do school work, especially not on a Saturday afternoon of all things.”
He rolled his eyes. He knew she couldn’t see it, but he wanted her to feel it.
“Don’t you roll your eyes at me, lad!” That woman had a sixth sense. He finished his toast, drank some orange juice straight from the carton, and waited. At least, he was going to wait, if the ding-donger hadn’t ding-donged about half an hour before he was expecting it to. Mrs. Ashtoreth got to the door before he could, no doubt to intimidate whomever it was that felt so bold as to disturb the peace of her abode.
Crowley did not hear either party speak for quite some time. “You… You gonna say anything, boyo?” He finally heard her ask. Yep, it’s for him. He walked toward them.
“Is that Aziraphale?”
“Well, I don’t see how I’m supposed to know if it is or it isn— oh, he’s nodding his head yes. Is this your friend?”
“Yeah, it is. Come on in, angel.” He’s not sure why, but he extended his hand. He didn’t really need a guide in his own bleeding house; maybe it was because he wanted to guide Aziraphale for once? More likely, he figured, he just wanted to make sure this person was actually Aziraphale and not like. A burglar that was just pretending to be. Or something. He was relieved to feel his distinctive gentle touch back, and pulled him closer to latch on a little better. His nan, he could imagine, was probably mentally having a laugh. He didn’t even like having her help him get around, let alone a near stranger. She closed the door.
“I wish that rotten child would’ve told me you were coming over sooner, dearie. Could’ve made you some cookies,” she said as affectionately as Crowley presumed she was capable of doing whilst pinching his cheek.
He loudly cleared his throat in embarrassment. “ANYWAYS, Aziraphale and I are gonna go to my room now solikebyeIguess,” he said while walking down the hall, all but dragging Aziraphale with him. Aziraphale was not wearing his cardigan today. He slammed the door behind them. Shit, his own arms weren’t covered. Oh Satan, Aziraphale had probably seen them by now. He was probably staring. Fuck. He went to his closet and threw on a button up to cover them, Aziraphale still in towe.
“Your mum looks just like you,” he said, not seeming to question his actions. Mission accomplished. He was officially the king of stealth.
“Oh, yeah, it’s really weird. Anyway, are we gonna get started here, or are we gonna study somewhere in town?”
“I was thinking somewhere in town. I’m quite excited to introduce you to my favorite places!” He smiled with his tone. “I do try and get out and about as much as I can muster. It feels so dreadful to have to stay cooped up all day.”
“Agreed. Where to first, then?”
“Oh, uhm. I was hoping it could be a surprise, actually.”
“A surprise? Spicy.”
“Yes. And! Speaking of surprises! I have something for you.” A gift?
“A gift?” he asked.
“Of sorts, yes!” Aziraphale’s arm left Crowley’s hand before he unzipped his bag, rummaging around a bit until he pulled something out and handed it to him. It was a smallish wooden board of some kind. “Run your hand over the top.” He did so, and what he found shocked him.
“Isn’t this a little sacrilegious? Seems like a good way to get haunted, at the very least.”
“This way if I can’t speak, I can still talk to you! I thought it would be funny, ‘cause you mentioned it and all. Plus you seem to like this sort of thing.” Crowley smiled.
“So did you just carve it like this into a normal slab of wood, then?”
“Oh, no, it is a real Ouija board. I asked Anathema if she had an old one she didn’t use anymore. She had one that was perfectly portable! And it’s got such lovely type! Some pretty neat designs on it, too.”
“Anathema has… multiple Ouija boards?”
“Oh, yes!! Anathema is a witch, dear.”
“She’s a WHAT.”
“A witch! Or an occultist. She switches between the two a lot depending on who’s asking.”
Crowley shook his head. This whole time, he thought she was a prep. He felt like a fool. He’s betrayed the camaraderie of goths. “Thank you, I’ll be sure to keep it on me. Can’t imagine what would happen if that bloke from earlier in the week found you with it.” He put it in his bag before slinging it onto his shoulder.
Aziraphale giggled before zipping his own bag back up. “Gabriel would have a cow.” Have a cow. What a fun little phrase. “You’ll have to forgive him. He’s my brother, and he’s just… overprotective, I suppose.”
“Yeesh. You have to live with that?”
“Only for one more year.”
“Cheers to that. Shall we be on our way, then?” He held out his hand once again.
Aziraphale touched it lightly. “Yes, we really should. Go ahead, dear.” Crowley grabbed on just above his elbow once again. He was wearing a dress shirt, with the sleeves rolled up. Aziraphale’s skin was soft. He was also wearing a sleeveless jumper. This fully confirmed Crowley’s theory that Aziraphale shared the ‘if one is not wearing layers then they may as well be naked’ mindset with him.
“Be back before dark,” his nan called out as they left. The sun felt so nice on his skin. He really hadn’t gone out for a stroll since he moved here, and he only vaguely remembered what the town even looked like. This was a nice change in pace. Speaking of, they seemed to be moving a little slower than usual today. It almost felt like Aziraphale was… limping?
“You alright, angel?”
“Yes, I’m fine! Sorry, my leg’s been acting up a bit today, I’m afraid. I’m sure where we’re going will make it feel a little better, though!” What, was he taking him to a hospital?
“Ah! Here we are.” As they entered the building, they were immediately struck with the potent scent of herbs and incense aplenty. Crowley crinkled his nose, surprised by the odor.
“Oh, hello there dearie! You brought a friend with you today, I see!” A kind, feminine voice greeted them.
“Hello Madame Tracy!”
Madame Tracy!!!!! Hope you all enjoyed this chapter, and I do hope you continue reading this as I update it (I also hope you're not tired of me saying that!) As always, your comments are super appreciated. I love to hear what you all have to say and I truly cherish that my writing inspired you to say something (I know that sounds corny, but I myself struggle very much to work up the nerve to leave comments on things, so the fact that people would feel inclined to do so sends me over the moon.) I hope you have a gorgeous day. See you next time!
Chapter 7: Everything is Happening
Crowley meets some of Aziraphale’s old friends.
Hello lovely readers!! Just wanted to pop by and once again say thank you for the support. It's really wonderful to know that you guys seem to like this.
This chapter is. Well... a bit of a doozey, I'm afraid. A bit of an emotional roller coaster. BIG WARNING for homophobia and ableism in this chapter. I'm not kidding! Don't worry, it's not all angst, but that doesn't mean it won't get heavy.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“Hi. I’m AJ,” he said in a rather cold tone. He didn’t mean for it to be cold, but it was. He was rubbish when talking to adults, in all honesty. Always felt like they were judging him and his outward expression of the teenage condition, what with his dark clothes and dyed hair and awkward posture and excessive need for mental rambling with frequent use of polysyndeton. Do you get to put a shilling in the jar if you think a vocabulary word or do you have to actually say it?
“Welcome to Madame Tracy’s Spiritual Supply Store, AJ,” the kind woman. Madame Tracy. Said. Kindly. Maybe it isn’t frequent polysyndeton. Maybe it’s just frequent punctuation fucking. Just making a whole mental gramatical mess of things.
“Spiritual Supply Store?”
“Madame Tracy is a spiritual guide!” Aziraphale said, with a little exaggeration in his voice to add to the mystique. “In addition to running her store, she also hosts seances and offers erotic relaxation services.” Excuse me?
“Sorry, but those are eighteen and above only, dearie.”
Crowley could feel that he was blushing like a tomato, his ice cold exterior melting like a strawberry lolly that had been dropped on the scorching hot early September asphalt. “Yeah, I figured!”
He heard Aziraphale and the woman. Madame Tracy. Burst into giggles. Crowley was confused. “Knew I could get a little rise out of you. Not so tense anymore, now are we?” Oh she was good.
“You just got Tracied” Aziraphale said through his giggles. It was cute. It was what?
“Aziraphale, I have no idea how a boy like you keeps on finding fellow practicers of the occult. First me, then that nice girl with the pendulum, now this young gentleman with the healing crystals. I swear on it, you must have some kind of gift. You should become a medium or something.” What was it? What was it? It wasn’t important. That’s just a normal thing to think. Of somebody else. That you barely knew. And who barely knew you.
“I like to think of it as more ethereal than occult.” They’d definitely have to get to know each other for that sort of thing. “That seems like a much too depressing job for someone of my constitution, I’m afraid. Though I’m sure the deceased have some wonderfully interesting stories!” What was he thinking? This isn’t even a friendship yet. Was it? Hanging out with Aziraphale more often wouldn’t be so bad.
“Ah, but they’re two sides of the same coin, aren’t they, dear?” Change the topic. Change the topic. Oh, blast it, why was it he could never stay focused on the things that he needed to and yet can’t change his mental topic when he wanted it to? Lots of metathinking today. God. Satan. He was gonna need to sneak one of these big words into conversation some time, he was on fire. Yes! Like that. Change the topic like that. No! Now he was thinking about it again. Damn it! “Have you had a chance to practice up on those tarot cards I gave you, Aziraphale?”
“You read tarot, angel?” Madame Tracy made a sort of pleased chuckle at that.
“Isn’t that just a tad blasphemous? Or is that just a part of your modern man fallen angel lifestyle,” Crowley snarked.
“I like to think of it as God communicating with us, in a way. I don’t see how it’s any different than reading the bible or going to church if you see it in that regard. Simply just another way to ask Her for guidance.”
“Crowley. We all already know that God is a Woman.”
“If God was a woman, Earth wouldn’t be nearly as much of a shithole as it is currently.”
“Boys, boys! This is a lovely theological debate, and I’m glad you’re both so passionate, but this is no place for arguments!” Madame Tracy chastised sweetly, with a tad bit of a laugh left in her voice. “Did you two have something that you wanted in mind, or did you just pop by to visit and look around?”
“How do you take your tea, dear?”
“This is also a cafe?”
“You’re standing right in front of the counter, dearie…” It was like talking to the same person standing in two different places.
“Am I?” He knocked his cane against the bottom counter, both hoping there was something breakable and not hoping there was anything breakable in that location. He was half disappointed and half relieved when there was not. “Hm. Seems I am.”
He could almost hear the dots connecting. “O— Oh! Oh my, I am terribly sorry. It’s just, with the sunny weather and all— I made assumptions I shouldn’t’’ve, my dear, I’m terribly, terribly sorry.”
“S’fine,” Crowley muttered out. Just once he’d like for someone to laugh at the joke. “I take it…” His entire vocabulary for tea left him in that moment. His mind went to coffee. How did he like coffee again? Surely he must like his tea and his coffee the same way, right? “Black.”
“Okay! And I’ll take white jasmine, please.”
“Sure thing, loves!” Crowley went to reach for his wallet, but Aziraphale’s hand quickly grabbed his own when he moved it away from his arm. That polite bastard! He wasn’t gonna let him pay! Why was Crowley still holding his arm before, come to think of it? They had been standing in the same place for awhile now. Aziraphale’s hand is soft. And still holding his. And it was. Change the topic.
“Oh, no, hun, that’s quite alright,” Madame Tracy said, “it’s on the house today.”
“No buts, mister! It’ll be ready for you in a second.” Her heels clicked on the floor as she walked away.
He wanted to hold on a little tighter, but he worried that might not jive well with Aziraphale’s system. He wanted to squeeze his hand hard and to hug him again and to feel the curls of his hair through his fingers and see if his face was as soft as his hands and he needed to change the topic. This was new to him. Was this what teens in movies felt like? This was not a movie. He needed to calm down, to focus on something else.
“Go ahead and take a seat, dears, I’ll bring it out to you.” Satan bless it. He moved his hand back up Aziraphale’s arm so they could start walking. If Aziraphale was uncomfortable with it he wouldn’t’ve held it for so long, right? Or maybe he was being polite. Even still, he would’ve said something, surely. Maybe.
Maybe he should just drop it.
They sat down by a window. He could feel the sun on his skin again. It was comforting. Letting go of Aziraphale’s arm felt weird. Cold. The sun was warm, at least. And the tea would be, too, probably, so it shouldn’t be a problem. When they sat down, Aziraphale started giggling. Crowley gave him a puzzled expression
“Sorry, I didn’t want to laugh right in her face but. ‘Am I?’” he kicked the table, “‘Hm. Seems I am.’ Good Lord, that was a good one. I know it’s rude to talk behind people’s backs, but the expression on her face… it was grand!”
Crowley smiled. Shit. “Glad somebody ‘round here appreciates my comedic genius.” God he wanted to hold his hand again so badly. No he didn’t. Shut up. Be cool. “What shall we work on first, then?”
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d like to avoid maths for as long as possible.”
Crowley chuckled. Cooly. “Amen to that.” He was cool.
Colder than a strawberry lolly on the pavement in a December blizzard.
This was more like it. No more silly thoughts now. Just back to his normal cool self.
Madam Tracy set the teapot and cups on the table with a pleasant little clank.
Cool. Not the water, of course, but himself. Obviously.
“Perhaps science, then? I’ve always fancied a spot of science.” He stirred his tea bag around to get it to. Y’know. Tea up the water.
“Science sounds like a lovely place to start!” Aziraphale unzipped his bag and rustled some paper. Totally in the chill zone.
Crowley took a sip of his tea and nearly choked.
Black tea was NOT the same as black coffee.
It was very strange, but after being there for almost an hour and a half and catching up on an entire week’s worth of science homework, Crowley had hardly drunken any of his tea. Though he supposed having ones beverage shoot up their nose upon the first sip would probably dissuade just about anyone from further consumption. He noticed that Crowley was starting to get a little jittery, tapping on the table and bouncing his leg up and down. He also seemed like he might be zoned out, but Aziraphale had always been a rotten guesser when it comes to that sort of thing.
“You ready to check out somewhere else?”
Crowley looked a little shaken. “Hm?”
“Are you ready to—”
“Oh, go somewhere else? Sure, if you want to.”
Aziraphale smiled. “Perfect.” He zipped up his bag and discreetly put money under his saucer so Crowley and Madame Tracy wouldn’t catch him paying for the drinks. “I’ve got just the place!”
“Another surprise, then?”
“This one seemed to work out well, yes?” He lightly touched Crowley’s hand. It just felt more polite than yelling, like, ‘grab on!’ or something.
Crowley gave him a little smirky smile back. “Can’t argue with that,” he said, resuming his place at Aziraphale’s side before they exited the shop.
Aziraphale was quite excited about the next place. What could be better than a bookshop! And it’d be the perfect place to tell Crowley all about his goal to one day move to a city and open his own bookstore. Just the thought of it made his hands flap.
Unfortunately, these happy thoughts were interrupted by… oh, what’s the phrase? A couple of shitheads?
Two kids around their age zoomed past them on skateboards, and while doing so, one of them stuck his hand out and knocked over Crowley’s cane. Aziraphale luckily was able to catch him as he was knocked off balance, but as a result his leg shot out a hissing pain.
“Oops, sorry,” oh no. He most certainly was not.
“Ligur, I told you that we’re playing smear the queer, not the crip.”
“But Hastur, what if the crips are also queers?”
He felt Crowley tense up in his arms. “Don’t listen to them, dear,” he whispered, trying not to sound pained.
“Still, it’s not playing fair.”
“Since when do we play, fair, Hastur?”
“Fair enough.” With that, they skated away.
“They’re gone now. Crowley, dear, we should sit down somewhere,” Aziraphale said, still whispering as to not give away his emotional and physical hurt.
Crowley looked as though he had just snapped out of a trance. He looked down towards Aziraphale’s face (more likely, his voice), and suddenly looked very angry. “We’re not gonna go after them?! We’re not gonna tell those two to square the fuck up?! What the fuck, angel! We can’t just… just let them get away with that!” Aziraphale could feel the tears welling up in his eyes. Not now, not now. “...Angel?” He had been quiet for too long, Crowley was catching on. Not now. This was too much. Yelling pain shouting searing anger God Lord please please please Angel Please this was too much Holy shit Hold on, uh, my cane Come on please moving ow ow moving was worse We’re almost there angel don’t worry Sit down Please sit down too loud too many sounds hot out side very hot searing Good Lord God in Heaven make it stop Good Lord God in Heaven too hot too loud don’t touch me! Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me! Okay I won’t I’m sorry What can I do not now why now Speak softly please Okay Can you hear me A little bit but it’s hard to understand Water Water Water I don’t wanna leave yoWater Okay water Good Lord searing searing metal chair Jesus Christ on the Cross Hail Mary Queen of Scotts too much too much of everything leave me alone why can’t they just leave me alone Leave me alone I’m not gonna leave you like this We’re in this for the long haul Water’s on the table speak softly please speak softly please Speak softly please I can’t tell what you’re saying ow ow fuck fuck FUCK Aziraphale Don’t touch mI won’t please please stop it stop it ow ow ow ow Don’t be mad at me Mad Don’t be mad at me please breathe breathe breathe breathe.
Breathe breathe breathe breathe breathe.
Breathe breathe breathe breathe breathe.
Don’t be mad at me please.
To be fair, I did warn y'all that there was gonna be angst. Highs and lows! Lows and highs! Buckle in, cause it's gonna be a bumpy ride! I do hope that you liked this chapter (from a writing standpoint. Obviously I don't hope you like it when people are bigoted dicks) and I do hope you come back to see what else this story has in store(y)! Your comments are always loved and appreciated, and I do hope to hear your guys' input! I hope you have an exquisite day! I'm doing a lot of hoping today it seems!!
Chapter 8: Va Fangool
Crowley and Aziraphale spend some time apart.
Hhhhh so like. This one's also fairly angsty I'm not gonna lie to you. Getting into some Conflicts(tm) you see. Big warning for ableism and homophobia in this one, as well as dysfunctional family stuff. Don't worry!! It's gonna get better for them eventually!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They sat there for about an hour.
Crowley's mum didn't live too far away from the town, so it didn't take her long to come and get them when he called. Aziraphale was calmer now— well, er, no, he was quieter now, really. Tired, which he didn't think counted as calm. The black, vintage car pulled up to them in a frantic fashion, almost going over the pavement. The door hurriedly slammed shut, and all Aziraphale could see as he looked away were Crowley's mother's short heels clicking towards them.
"Goodness me! What happened here, lads?" Aziraphale winced as she talked in full volume. He looked to Crowley for help, and he somehow knowingly put a finger over his mouth to indicate to her that she needed to speak quietly. Aziraphale gave a little sniffle. He was done with crying for now, but his nose was still very stuffy. Crowley grimaced. He must still be mad at him.
"I'll explain later. Aziraphale, let's get in the car, alright?" He said softly, but was surprisingly casual.
Aziraphale shook his head 'no.' He knew that he probably wouldn't be able to walk home like this, but given the way Mrs. Crowley drove up here, he figured it best not to risk his life and step into that car. Not to mention, he had no idea how the seats felt, or how roomy the car would be on the inside, and his senses were already not pleased with him.
"C'mon, please? I can drop you off at your place, dear."
He shook his head no again. He really didn’t think it was a good plan. Crowley was probably angry with him still, too.
"Anywhere. We'll take you anywhere you wanna go, angel. It doesn't have to be home," his his casual tone threatened to become a plea. How did he know that he didn’t want to go home? But he had to. He wanted his cozy cardigan and his bed and some ice for his leg and maybe some cocoa if he could stomach it. He wanted to curl up with his stuffed snake Crawly (he named her that when he was very little; because snakes are Crawly, you see) and watch some cake decorating videos with the sound off and to get a text from Crowley that said he wasn’t angry anymore and that he was forgiven for making him upset in the first place. This evening that he had imagined was too ideal to not go home, especially given that in order to not go home he would have to stay here, outside of a… to be honest, he didn’t really know what store they were at. But just because he wanted to do all of those things, does not mean he wanted to go home. It’s just that all of those things unfortunately happened to be at his house.
He shook his head no again.
“Do you have some other ride, then?” Mrs. Crowley asked. She was clearly not a gentle woman, but she was trying.
He reluctantly nodded yes and got out his phone. He hesitated for a minute, thinking of who to ask. Definitely not his father. His mother was out of the country at the moment, so not her either. Uriel and Sandalphon couldn’t drive yet, so no reason to tell them. Michael was at uni and he was pretty sure she didn’t actually like him anyways, and… Oh. Guess it’ll have to be him, then. Great. Now he’ll never like Crowley.
Within ten minutes of texting, Gabriel pulled up to the scene. Crowley and his mum were very adamant about not leaving Aziraphale alone until he got there, much to his dismay. He looked to the ground as the car door closed. The rotten thing about metal furniture is that there’s no wood to dig into.
Gabriel put his hand on Aziraphale’s shoulder, which was incredibly bothersome, and crouched down so he could look Aziraphale in the eye, which was even more so. He looked away. “Aziraphale, we talked about how you can’t keep doing this.” He hated that thing that Gabriel always did with his voice. Like he was scolding a toddler. “Let’s go home, okay, buddy?” He reluctantly got up and walked to the passenger’s seat. “Oh, you’ll need to go to the back. Sandalphon’s in the front.” Of course. Of course he was. He gave a little wave to the Crowleys as they said their goodbyes, and then got into Gabriel’s car.
“So you didn’t learn from the last one, then?” Sandalphon sneered. He may have hated Gabriel’s tone of voice, but he completely despised Sandalphon’s.
“Of course he didn’t! It takes him extra time! Don’t be rude!” Gabriel whispered, rudely. He then spoke at normal volume, “I told you not to hang out with that kid, Aziraphale. You know that, don’t you?”
“Mind explaining what you were doing with him, then?”
He shook his head no.
“You can explain it tomorrow.” That’s not what a head shake no means, jackass.
“You already know what he was doin’. You saw the way that kid was dressed. May as well’ve had fa—”
“Hey! Watch your language. And I’m choosing the benefit of the doubt.”
It wasn’t technically a long drive, not by any stretch of the imagination, but it felt like it had taken just about six thousand years before they finally rolled up to their house. The ornate, white gate that surrounded it looked as imposing and uninviting as always. He slinked off to his bedroom before any of the other people in the house could greet him, threw on his pajamas and a soft cardigan, and promptly napped the day’s ills away.
Crowley did not text Aziraphale that night, nor did he really talk to him in the following weeks. He really must’ve fucked up, he concluded, as Aziraphale didn’t even sit next to him in class. Instead, he was forced to work on shit with some bugger named ‘Dagon’ or whatever and the teacher’s assistant he was working with was a bumbling bloke named Newton. Okay, Newton wasn’t actually that bad, to be honest. He was just cranky. Or crabby. Grumpy, maybe? Grumpy seemed to him to be the extended state of crabbiness as consciousness continued, and he had felt crabby all the time regardless of how much he slept in class, so he must be grumpy. And it wasn’t the same. He didn’t like change. Fuck variety. Variety can piss off. Really, he barely even knew Aziraphale. They had hung out like twice. Thrice. What counted as hanging out? Why was he mad at him? Why wouldn’t he be mad at him, stupid. Who wouldn’t be?
“AJ?” Fuck this. “Have you started the—” Fuck you. He stood up.
“I’m going. To the restroom,” he declared. Cool. Colder than a freezer in Antarctica. He left before they could say anything. This was good. This was progress. He didn’t even yell it at them. No more yelling. It was official, he was never yelling again a day in his life.
He crashed into someone in the hallway. Maybe it was a good idea to use your probing cane when you needed to, actually.
“Oi! Watch where you’re goi— Hey, it’s you.” Hastur. Ligur? Hastur…. Ligur… Whatever, he didn’t need to know which it was. Just that whoever it was was definitely an arse. They both stood up.
“Hi.” Colder than a witch’s tit in a brass bikini. Colder than Pluto dipped in liquid nitrogen.
“What’re you doing out here? Skipping class? Didn’t know they let the special kids out without a chaperone.”
“Ever hear of taking a piss? Certainly you must’ve, considering you’re a dickhead and all.”
“Does your mummy know you use that kind of language?”
“Yours certainly did last night.” Sometimes, you simply cannot resist making a ‘your mum’ joke when someone just tees it up for you so perfectly. Even Shakespeare did it.
“Better not tell your little fa—”
“I wouldn’t finish that sentence, if I were you.” Colder than a corpse in outer space.
“Or what? You can’t do shit, mate. You can’t even walk right.”
“I also wouldn’t stand that close to me,” he said, promptly clubbing into HasturLigur’s knees with his cane, resulting in a loud thud. Absolute fucking zero degrees Kelvin.
“You’ll pay for that!” They said, yanking Crowley down by the leg. OW fuck SHIT that hurt. Fuck. His glasses flew off his face as he went down. OW OW FUCK. It was so intensely bright. He was on his back. He was being dragged. Shit shit shit. Be cool. Be cooler than… than something cold, fuck! What’s some cold shit?
The bathroom door slammed, the aromas of vape juice and piss dancing in his nostrils confirming their location. “I think you need to cool down and take a nice bath in swirly town,” HasturLigur Dickhead said as their shadow blocked out the searing light. It was nice of them to speak in rhymes, at least. Added to the drama. “My, my, my, you are a freak, aren’t you?” He needed to think fast. Faster than nan drives. Faster than he drives. So fast fire spits out of the tires.
He was rapidly lifted up, HasturLigur binding his hands behind him as they scuttled him to the toilet. Faster than lightning. So fast it burns. So fast it melts this shithead’s face off and they turn into a smoldering pile of goo. He kicked out HasturLigur’s foot from under him, slipping out and letting the bugger fall into the toilet. He held them in there by the collar for a second, flushed it for shits and giggles and a spot of revenge, and then hurriedly stumbled out of the loo whilst they were distracted.
Then, the bell rang.
Because of course. Of course it fucking did.
Crowley about to give HasturLigur a swirlie: I'm about to destroy this man's whole career.
Look on the bright side!! At least we're finally past the first week of school! And it only took us [looks at the word count] oh... oh dear...
I hope you liked this chapter (once again, the writing aspect of it) and I hope you decide to come back to this story again when it updates! As always all of your comments are read and appreciated, I love them so much you guys! I hope you have a truly fantastic day!
Chapter 9: Show Me My Silver Lining
Sometimes you just can't get out of things yourself, and you especially can't do it scot-free. Maybe that's not so bad, though.
Hello hello hello! I'm so happy about your guys' continued support of this fic! This chapter is a nice little break from the angst stuff. It's gonna come back eventually, sorry to say, but for now, let's revel in it, yes? I do hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
He’s been gone for twenty minutes.
“He’s been gone for twenty minutes…” Anathema whispered to Aziraphale.
“Yes, I was just thinking the same thing… D’you think he’s alright?”
“Maybe he had a bad breakfast? I could ask Newt if something seemed to be up with him today… Though that might count as gossiping…”
“...I’m gonna go check on him.”
“But Aziraphale, I thought you said he didn’t—”
“I still think that, but… I don’t know, I still want to check for some reason.” Funnily enough, he did actually know the reason. Crowley didn’t just leave him alone when he himself had been struggling, even when he was upset with him. If he needed someone right now, then he deserved to have somebody there for him. He got up, took the bathroom pass that Crowley had neglected to take upon his exit, and started down the hallway. There were only a few more minutes till the bell rang, so he was hoping Crowley wouldn’t be too far away.
Unfortunately, instead of Crowley, Aziraphale found a discarded cane and a pair of black sunglasses scattered across the floor. Not good. He picked them up, pretending that the red stains splayed on the tile were certainly definitely maybe hopefully from like, a marker or spilled juice or something of the like. Crowley had said he was going to the restroom, but Aziraphale had a really hard time believing that he would willingly discard these items in the middle of the hallway on his way to tinkle. Still, with no other real leads, he made his way towards the lavatories. The all gender one was currently unoccupied (he opened it just to be sure); he moved on to the boys’ restroom.
In which he heard some rather nasty yelling. Then a splash, some struggling, gurgling, and a flush. What was this, the 1950s? Who the fuck is still giving people swirlies?
Before he could even consider going in, he heard the sound of someone rushing out the door, and thought it best to not, in fact, stand directly in the doorway. He moved over, tucking himself away by the wall, as Crowley all but jumped into the hall.
And then the bell rang. Because of course. Of course it fucking did.
“Bugger bugger bugger bugger buggerbuggerbuggerBUG—”
“Crowley?” People started to poor into the hall, just ignoring the distressed goth kid on the floor and going around him. Oh, high school.
“Angel?” Crowley squinted in his direction. His eyes were incredibly bloodshot, making their hazel color almost look like it was glowing.
“Yes, it’s me, are you alrig—”
“Oh, thank Satan!” Crowley exclaimed, bustling over to him as best he could, half running half crawling.
“I beg your par—”
“Listen, we gotta get outta here. I doubt he’s leaving the bathroom lookin’ like that, but the other cunt. Ligur. Hastur. Whatever. I’m sure he’s figured out by now and is gonna come after me. Us, now, probably. Listen, my cane is somewhere in th—”
“I have it! Your glasses too. Also what the hell are you going on about?!”
“No time to explain. Look, angel, whatever I said that got you mad at me, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, but we gotta go!”
“Go? Back to class, you mean? Good heavens, you’re bleeding!”
“I don’t know, how long d’you think it’ll take us to get to the moon? Alpha Centauri seems far away enough, right?”
“Yes! I’m taking you back to class! I’m sure when we tell her what happened, Mrs. Nutter will be able to sort this all out.”
“Are you crazy? No! That’s not how this—”
“We’re going, and that’s final!” It was getting too damn loud for him to stay in this damn hallway, damn it! He shoved Crowley’s damn cane into his damn hand, shoved his own damn hand into Crowley’s other damn hand, and started marching back to the damn classroom. Crowley quickly repositioned himself so that he was holding Aziraphale’s elbow, which Aziraphale understood to mean that he had won the argument. He put the glasses over his companion’s bloodshot eyes for him with his free hand.
Aziraphale smiled with a hint of smugness. “No problem, dear.”
When they got back to the classroom, there was a gaggle of gasps.
“Goodness me!” Mrs. Nutter rushed over to them, “What happened to you?”
“I uhhhhhhhhhhhhh…” Did he seriously not think of a story on the way here? “Fell. Yup, I fell. Real nasty, good thing Aziraphale had to pee.”
“Well I do need this cane for a reason, now don’t I?”
“Where did he go?!” Hastur yelled from the hallway. “I’m gonna kill that bastard! And his best friend, Aziraphale, too!” Aziraphale smacked his palm to his face.
Mrs. Nutter gave them an incredibly disapproving glare. “AJ?” Oh no. It was the low voice of doom and shame.
“Hm?” Crowley squeaked out.
“You fell, huh?”
“I mean... It’s not a lie… I did do some falling…”
“Mr. Crowley…” Crowley winced a little. He seemed to know what was coming. “You know I’m gonna have to send you to the office, right?”
“Yeah, I figured.” Hastur and Ligur suddenly burst in through the doorway with a reckless abandon. Ligur seemed to be wet for some oh no. Oh no. Aziraphale could almost visually see dots connecting in his mind's eye.
“And you two as well.” The hooligans stopped in their tracks.
“Mr. Anthony J. Crowley. Your reputation precedes you,” Headmaster Lucille Fern said with a smirk. Crowley wondered if she went by Lucy and if she might just be Hell incarnate. Or maybe it was one of those ironic name situations and she was actually the most goody two-shoed strict souls on the planet. He wasn’t sure if he thought it was funnier for someone to have a name that described them to a t, or if it was funnier if their name was a stark contrast to their disposition. Either way, he had bigger fish to fry right now. “According to your record, at your old school you not only manage to somehow bring down the wifi and cellular network for nearly a week—”
“Quite proud of that one. People were goin’ absolutely mad by Wednesday,” he said casually. Back to his cool self.
“Parked your car illegally in the staff lot almost every day—”
“Was it my fault that they didn’t actually tow people out?” Cooler than a porcelain pony at three in the morning. He took one of the biscuits she had offered him when he walked in.
“Nearly got two fellow students expelled over an apple of all things… that one still confuses me.”
“It’s a long story. Kinda funny, actually.” He swallowed it whole as an intimidation tactic. Cooler than a metal bench at the bottom of the ocean.
“Started over fifteen fights—”
“Hey, not all of those were my fault! And very rarely was I actually doing any fighting.”
“—Right. You also once attempted to break in with several friends in the middle of the night?”
“I forgot my water bottle! And it’s not like that one actually went anywhere.”
“Four accounts of bringing a weapon to school—”
“A tire iron is not a weapon.”
“One account of potential arson in the library— isn’t that a crime?”
“First of all, it wasn’t actually me that started it. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, because I’m incredibly lucky like that. And second of all, since it was not me and thus they had no proof it was me, they couldn’t risk pressing any charges.”
“Threatening a teacher with… the guillotine?”
“It was a joke! As a history teacher he should’ve appreciated my engagement with the material. He was a prick.”
“Anything else I’m missing?”
“One time I snuck a baby into school.”
“Oh, that’s right. The Antichrist prank.”
“It was hilarious.”
“Well, Mr. Crowley; quite frankly, I must say it’s a miracle such an acclaimed delinquent as yourself not only didn’t get expelled from your previous school, but didn’t get arrested. I’m a little impressed to be honest. I was a bit of a... ‘rebel’ back in my day, believe it or not.” Holy shit, was she gonna let him off the hook? She didn’t… seem upset… “I’m also quite frankly amazed that it took you this long to get into a scuffle here.”
“Well, y’know, had to get used to the place first,” he smirked. “Break it in a little bit.”
“Even still, trouble seems to follow you wherever you go.” Her heels clicked around the room. “Now, would you care to tell me, then, just how it managed to catch up to you today?”
He told her the events that had gotten him here, to the headmaster’s office, with only a few small tangents along the way. It was okay, though, considering she seemed to indulge him on those tangents. By the end, she almost seemed to respect him.
“Well, Mr. Crowley, I’m afraid I don’t think the rest of the administration will approve of me ruling it as a ‘self defense swirlie’ and allow you to not face any punishment whatsoever, but… I don’t think they necessarily have to know about that part, do they? Tell you what, I’ll let you off with a one day suspension effective tomorrow instead of the usual five so that you can collect your head a little bit and so that nobody can say I didn’t punish you, how about that?” Well, it wasn’t exactly getting out scot-free, but it wasn’t too bad.
“Alright, fine by me.”
“Excellent. You’re free to go now.” He got out of the chair and headed towards the door. “Oh! And Mr. Crowley,” she called out before he finished walking out. “I must know. Did you make little hoofy-woofies and horns for the fake Antichrist?”
“Y’know,” he said before leaving, “I didn’t, but that would’ve been a great idea now that I’m thinking about it.” He left her office without another word.
“Mr. Ligur, the headmistress will see you now.” Crowley was shoved slightly by Ligur as their paths intersected on his way back to the office waiting room. Aziraphale was still out there… Well, hopefully, anyways. Aziraphale said he was gonna still be out there, despite having already been briefly questioned about the matter. He wasn’t really that involved with it, but they still wanted to know how he related to this whole debacle. Crowley couldn’t help but feel guilty about making him wait with those certified knobheads, though. He just hoped they didn’t say anything nasty to him.
“It’s gonna be lunch time in a few minutes.” Aziraphale said to him before he even reached where they were sitting beforehand. Must’ve gotten up. He gingerly touched Crowley’s hand, which caused warmth to radiate throughout Crowley’s entire body. Not like a sexy warmth. A comfy warmth. Get your mind out of the gutter. Like he was drinking some hot cocoa, or sitting next to a campfire. That kind of warmth. It was a relief. “Wanna eat together in the classroom?” Fuck yeah!! Aziraphale didn’t hate him anymore!! Fuck! Yeah!
“Yeah, sure, that sounds nice.” He smiled, and moved his hand up to Aziraphale’s elbow.
“Sorry about dragging you, by the way, that couldn’t’ve felt very nice.” Aziraphale said on their walk back.
“It’s okay, we probably would’ve gotten pummeled had you not.”
Aziraphale’s tone lightened a little. “So you’re not upset with me?”
“What? No, of course not, I could never be upset with you, angel.”
There was a big sigh of relief. It almost sounded like Aziraphale might’ve been holding his breath. “You have no idea how happy I am to hear that, dear. This whole time I thought… Well, I thought you were furious with me.” That felt like a shot to the heart. Or maybe the hand. A shot to the heart would kill you, but a shot to the hand would make you suffer. Not really as romantic though, is it, a shot to the hand? Not that kind of romantic, obviously. Romantic as in a dramatic and sentimental. He should really stop listening to his brain.
“No, not at all. I thought you were the one who was mad at me.”
“Good Heavens, no! MY, what a misunderstanding we have manufactured for ourselves.”
“Angel, you have no idea.”
Azriaphale’s smile was implied by his next action; it was something that he had not done before. He gently placed his opposite hand over top of Crowley’s fingers. A cozy hoodie and Saturday morning cartoons. “I’ve missed your company so much, my dear.” A nice snuggly teddy bear and a homemade quilt.
“I’ve missed you too,” he sighed, all of the cool having evaporated from his voice.
Yay!! The dynamic duo is together again! I know that headmaster Satan was a little bit of a weird choice but like. I was just really feeling it, y'know? I hope y'all liked this chapter and as always feel free to comment whatever questions/concerns/thoughts/opinions you have so far! It's a joy to read them, it really, truly is. I hope you stay tuned for the rest of the story, and most of all, I hope the rest of your day is positively pleasant!
Chapter 10: 'Cause I've Tried and Tried to Walk Away
Things feel like they're getting back on track.
Hello all! Sorry this one took a little longer, my internet was out all weekend and quite frankly it just wasn't coming to me. This was mostly just to set some other things into motion, but I hope it's still a fun read nonetheless! Completely unrelated to this chapter though, does anyone remember that song Crush by David Archuleta? Just wondering :)
A heads up for this chapter though! There are brief moments of implied child abuse and body image problems, so be cautious if that's not really a good subject for you!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Crowley had never had a crush like this before.
He'd never felt so understood by someone, he'd never felt like anybody had ever really gotten him. Sure, there were people who piqued his interest every now and again, in like a 'totally hot babes' kinda way more often than not, but he'd never felt anything this… deep. It felt like Aziraphale could see past his skin, right through to all his organs and stuff, and could poke around in there. He could find what was in his blood, mentally distil it and filter it out, boiling it to tea temperature to figure out his blood type, what was coursing through his heart at any moment, all with his brain. He should really become a poet. Or a doctor. Probably not a doctor, actually, that seemed pretty inaccurate as to how the human body actually functions. But poets could be as inaccurate to reality as they wanted, as long as it felt real. He's not focused enough to be a poet, unfortunately, nor passionate enough about poetry. Though he was always using vocabulary words in his mind. And imagery. He loved using imagery in his thoughts because he could see the phrase and then think up how it'd feel. Pique imaginative stimulation. Vocabulary just made him feel smart. Though he also didn't really have anyone to call him out if his mental vocabulary words were improperly spelled or defined, so maybe not. He did like science, though. Lots of questions, science is. Lots of questions, some answers, and then, with answers, even more questions. Poetry was a lot like science in that there were many questions involved. Then again, most subjects involved questions. That is how tests work. He should really be focusing on his test. Oh my Satan Anathema was giving him a test right now, shit. Had she been talking this entire time?
"AJ, do you wanna skip this one? You've been thinking about it for awhile now…"
"Could you repeat the question?"
"You own a printing company, and need to print 1,200,000 copies of a specific book—"
"That's a lot of books."
"It's a pretty popular one! You plan on printing 7% of the copies each day. How many days will it take you to print half of the copies? Will you print all of the copies by the end of the month?" GOD he hated this shit. It was at least tolerable when he could write it out on the blasted page.
"I don't know. I didn't follow any of what you just said. Five books."
She sighed. "AJ… you weren't finding books..."
"Hey! You're not supposed to give me any extraneous guidance." Extraneous. Nice. And he said it out loud, too.
"C'mon, I know you're a smart guy when you wanna be. You'll know how to do it if you give it more than two seconds of thought."
"I don't know if I should say thank you or fuck you. Just write down five and move on!"
"It's a two part question!" She gave an exasperated sigh and moved some papers. "Look, is something wrong?"
"...What d’you mean?"
"Like, is something up? You don't seem focused at all today."
"Yes, I do believe they call it attention deficit hyperactivity disorder for that reason."
"Oh, fuck off, you know that's not what I mean."
"Shouldn't I be taking a test right now, instead of being cussed at by my reader?"
"If we run out of time we can just finish tomorrow and you said fuck first, so unless we make this a fuck-free zone, then I get to say it too. Also you're avoiding the question."
"I am not avoiding the question. If anything you're avoiding the question. The question of how many fuckin' books I'm needin' to print by the end of the month."
"That wasn't the question, actually, and you were the one avoiding it in the first place, which is what led us to this new, separate question."
"Whatever. Nine and a half days."
"That's the answer. And yes. You’ll be done before the month is over." That came out a lot more pissily than he wanted it to, but he heard her scrawling away anyways.
"Is it… you're not having relationship problems, are you?"
"Hard to have relationship problems when you're not in a relationship. Next question."
The pencil dropped. "Oh my God, did you and Aziraphale break up?!"
Crowley would've choked on his beverage had he been drinking one. However, as he had not been drinking one, he settled on choking on his own spit instead. "Wh— No!— I mean—"
"Thank goodness, I was gonna have to kill you guys if I wasn't finding out about it 'til now."
"No! It's— we didn't break up because we're not dating!"
"I don't understand how you can go from dating to not dating without breaking up."
"We weren't ever dating!"
"What, so you just call everybody pet names and walk around arm in arm with them?"
"Okay first of all,” he held up one finger, “I do not call him pet names; second of all,” he held up two fingers, “I don't know if you noticed, it really is just a very small, minute detail that never ever comes up in conversation really, but," minute. Nice. On fire with saying them out loud today. He gestured to his face dramatically, "I'm kinda blind."
"I thought you were very blind."
"I'm just a wee bit blind, you see, so walking arm in arm with someone is actually, and I know this is gonna rock your world, not that big a deal."
"Okay, I hear your points and shall now raise my own. Firstly,” She paused. That bitch was mimicking his hand movements, wasn’t she? “You absolutely do call him pet names. Literally like all the time."
"No I don't! When have I ever called him a pet name?!"
"You call him angel every day! Basically almost anytime you talk to him!" He did? Oh my God. Satan. Christ. Somebody. Did he really?
"Yeah! Do you not listen to yourself when you talk?"
"To be honest, I got a lot on my mind most of the time."
"Right," her eye roll was implied, "and secondly, this is true, but you don't walk arm in arm with anybody else. You don't even walk with a guide most of the time!"
"Yeah, but…" Shit. She had a point, didn't she? "But…" C'mon, he can't just let her win. Even if those things were all true, which they were, that didn't change anything, right? Had Aziraphale just been letting him call him dumb nicknames this whole time? Did that mean he was fine with it? Aziraphale is smart, surely if Anathema noticed the walking thing, Aziraphale must've too, right? Did that mean he… "But, it doesn't matter, anyways, because we're not dating, we're just really good friends, and good friends just do that sometimes. Obviously."
"Obviously," she mocked. "So what's up then, if not that?" Well, it is definitely that that's up, but he'll be damned if he admitted that to her.
"Oh, no, it is that." Hm. Guess he was damned.
"I. I don't know, it's weird. I think I might be falling for him."
"Might be! I don't know yet, I've… I've never felt this way about someone before." It was true, but he didn't know why he said it out loud.
"Hm… I see… well, I know you didn't ask for my advice—"
"Your Device advice? No, but I'm sure you'll give it to me anyways."
"I think if you take a leap of faith, you'll be surprised at where you'll land."
"No offense, Anathema, but I really don't feel comfortable risking this like that—"
"That's why it's called a leap of faith, jackass." Man, Anathema was fuckin' brutal when there was no one else around. It was awesome.
"We've only known each other for, what, a month or two? It doesn't seem right to try and move so fast. Not to mention I highly doubt given the limited interactions I've had with his family that they'll be too happy about a genderqueer disgaybled Satanist corrupting his poor, poor pure little desires."
She laughed. "All the more reason to do it, then."
He rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Maybe you're right. I'll think about it."
"Oh," Anathema said, a playful twinge in her voice, "I know I'm right." The bell rang. "Looks like we'll have to finish this test up tomorrow. Try to come back with your head screwed back onto your shoulders, alright?"
"I don't try to make promises that I know I can't keep." He walked out of the quiet room (the room where people went to do private testing as well as when they, appropriately enough, needed quiet) and back into the normal classroom. It was lunch time and he was starving. Something about maths, soul searching, and emotional prodding just really did that to him.
"Crowley! How did it go?"
"Didn't finish, but I think I did good with what we got to today."
"That's good, at least… erm, I was wondering if we might eat at the bench today, instead of in here? Just been feeling a little cooped up, is all."
Crowley gave a soft frown. "But what about Gabriel? Won't he get… upset?"
"Oh! Er, I talked to him about it. Said that I was just volunteering to help you out, and it's not like he can reprimand me for volunteer work."
"So he… doesn't know we're friends…" His confidence slowly shriveled.
"No, not exactly, I'm afraid…"
"Oh… alright… that's fine." It was not. He knew why Aziraphale couldn't just be friends with him openly, especially after the whole HasturLigur incident firmly reclaimed the schoolwide delinquent status he had built up at his old school, but it still stung a bit. He could tell Aziraphale was not satisfied with his response, but he didn't want to continue on this topic. "Let's go, angel." He extended his hand, waiting for Aziraphale's gentle touch of approval. They had worked out this system well by now.
Aziraphale grabbed his hand lightly, Crowley then moved it to the proper location, and they went to their lockers without much conversation.
"I… need to ask you something else…"
Crowley stopped imputing is combination and raised an inquisitive brow.
"Is it alright if I sleep over at your house tonight?"
In all honesty, Aziraphale hadn't actually expected a 'yes.' Let alone an 'of course.' The relief was incredible.
Though he technically did not lie when it came to the recounting of his conversation with his family about the whole matter, it did not go as... swimmingly as he had made it seem. In fact, Gabriel seemed to be the only one of his family members who bought into the volunteering excuse at all. Still, that didn't stop him from calling it a 'futile attempt' and by stating that 'people like Crowley won't change no matter how much you try to show them the light, Aziraphale' on the car ride to school this morning.
He couldn't go back there tonight. As much as he loved his own bed and his room, he couldn't stand being in that house right now. He was glad that Crowley understood, and that he didn't even ask why. Nor did his mum when they both stepped into the car after school that day. The seats were, bless God, a very soft leather, which was a quite comforting distraction from the absolute madwoman behind the wheel. He opted to look over at Crowley rather than out the window to save himself the anxiety. He reached for Crowley's hand, just for a little more security.
They had worked out this system well by now. It was one thing he really enjoyed about Crowley's company. All his life, Aziraphale had been misunderstood when it came to people touching him. It wasn't necessarily that he didn't find touching comforting or that he strictly hated it, it just wasn't always welcome, and nobody really ever bothered to ask him if it was okay beforehand. Crowley actually asked about this stuff, he actually seemed to care about Aziraphale’s comfort. He'd never felt so understood by someone, he'd never felt like anybody had ever really gotten him before. Even his past boyfriends. Hm. That was a strange thing to think about.
Crowley smiled at him warmly. Knowingly. Very strange indeed. “Don’t worry, we’ll be there in no time.”
Aziraphale chuckled. “That’s precisely what I’m worried about, my dear.”
When they got there, they immediately went to Crowley’s room and worked on their studies, much to Crowley’s apparent dismay.
“C’moooon, angel. You’re no fun! Who does their homework right when they get home.”
“Somebody who would much rather not do it later in the evening? Everybody knows slumber parties don’t become interesting until after the witching hour, anyhow.”
Crowley huffed. “No fun.” They went back to working. Aziraphale read a few more questions from the worksheet out (they had gotten into the habit of science first), but after one of the last ones, Crowley hesitated to give a response. Like. For awhile. Finally, he asked, “Have I really been calling you angel this entire time?”
“Oh, yes! You did it but moments ago, in fact. I figured it was some kind of joke or something.”
“I’m not gonna lie to you, I never really noticed.”
“I quite like it, though! It reminds me of the character from Rent. Quite appropriate, I think, too, considering the discussions we’ve had about gender and acts of rebellion.”
Crowley giggled. “Only you could make that connection; but you’re really spot on, aren’t you? I could totally see you playing Angel in Rent.” He paused for a second, looking up towards the ceiling as though he were actually considering it. “Actually, what do you look like?”
Aziraphale hadn’t really thought about it before. Well, he thought about what he looked like, obviously, but not in any sort of descriptive or positive way. Not in any way he’d be particularly inclined to tell someone else. “What do you already know?”
“You have wavyish curlyish hair, you’re a little bit shorter than me… hm… you’re very... soft, I guess, but I don’t know if that’s really an appearance thing. I just know I’m boney and I look it, so I suppose someone who isn’t probably looks it too.”
Aziraphale smiled. What a lovely way to say fat. “Well, you’d be correct in that, I’m not exactly very... ‘edgy.’ I’m fine with that, though. It’s not really my thing. As for the rest of my appearance, I have really light blonde hair, especially given that my skin is rather tan. My eyes are blue… hm… what else… I wear glasses most of the time, contact lenses really bug me… I don’t often wear dark colors… and I really like jumpers and cardigans and things of the sort.”
“Yes, I knew that part too. Now I can perfectly see you as Angel, no doubt in my mind you’d be a perfect fit for the part.”
“A shame really, I’m sure you’d probably be Rodger. We’d hardly get to play off of each other.”
“Well, it’s a good thing there’s a back stage, then?” His smile was positively devilish.
Aziraphale had never been at Crowley’s house at the same time as Crowley’s dad, so when dinner time came around, he was quite surprised to find that he looked almost nothing like his son. He was a portly, happy man with a large grin and a positively lovely disposition, albeit his accent was a tad hard to understand. Granted, being Welsh, Aziraphale felt he had no right to judge. Mr. Crowley’s jovial nature starkly contrasted that of Crowley’s angsty teenage aesthetic and Mrs. Crowley’s sinister charm, but it jived quite well with Aziraphale’s general world view. They hit it off right away, and when dinner was done and they returned to Crowley’s bedroom, he was very relieved that his parents seemed to like him.
They continued on with their homework, finishing up right around nine.
Then, it was time for the real party to start.
;) What will happen at this party I wonder? Stay tuned! I hope you enjoyed! Feel free to leave any questions/comments/concerns/thoughts/etc down below! Have an absolutely radiant day and I can't wait to see you again!
Chapter 11: But I Know This Crush Ain't Goin' Away
Slumber parties and the shenanigans that are wont to happen at them.
Every time I write a chapter like this I always go like "wow this is so self indulgent" and then the other half of my brain just goes like "uh, yeah, I sure hope it is." So anyways, this chapter was very self indulgent lmao. I hope you all like it!! I swear some Bigger Plot Stuff is gonna happen in the near future but I really just wanted some fluffier stuff with just a dash of that angst for flavor so. That's how we got here.
Heads up! Some internalized ableism and some body image issues are shown in this chapter! Also spoiler warning for the quite frankly AMAZING film that is 5 Headed Shark Attack.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They both laid on the bed, thinking in silence for awhile. They had grown more used to it, being silent in each other's company. Well, Aziraphale was already pretty fine with it, to be honest, but he felt as though Crowley was more comfortable with the concept now. He could be wrong, but he hoped not. Aziraphale was doing some light reading, whereas Crowley looked lost in thought as he splayed out, facing the ceiling. He looked rather peaceful. It was quite pleasant, really. If Aziraphale didn't know Crowley any better, he'd say he might've been...
There was a gentle snore.
...Asleep. Blimey, what time was it? It must've only been eleven or so. Hardly the bed time of a rebellious teenage rabble-rouser, he mused to himself. It was a shame, though, that he had turned in so soon. For one thing, Aziraphale imagined it wasn't terribly comfortable to sleep in a leather jacket and ripped skinny jeans. For another, he had so hoped to be getting up to some sleep deprived hijinks in the nigh future; he fondly recalled previous slumber party experiences at Anathema's house that involved such events. At the very least, he wanted to talk through a bad horror movie at some point. But, he certainly couldn't blame a person for needing sleep, even if his own insomnia forbade it for himself, so he figured it was at least a good time to change into the pajamas he had stuffed in his backpack. Aziraphale loved pajamas far far more than he loved sleeping. At his own house, he changed into them almost immediately after dinner most evenings. However, he figured he should probably hold off here. It was likely just one of his 'weird quirks' that his family always prattled on about. His personal favorite part about pajamas, though, was that his favorite kind of pajamas made him look a bit like Scrooge. He thought it was funny, and a nightshirt and nightcap made a pretty comfortable outfit, so it was a win win, really. It also had the added bonus of being a technically socially acceptable reason to not wear any trousers, not that one needed to be socially acceptable in their pajamas. He hated wearing trousers, but he hated shorts more, so he had to live with it. He supposed he could start wearing dresses, maybe, but only if he suddenly became a much more bold person. Given the interaction at his house the day prior, this was unlikely.
Aziraphale returned from the restroom and began to put his day clothes back in his bag; however, as he did so, Crowley’s peaceful dozing suddenly became rather frantic tossing and turning. He shot up with a start, panting a little bit, frantically, he seemed to be searching the bed for something.
“He’s gone! He’s really gone! They really got hi—”
“Crowley? Are you alrig—”
“Aziraphale! Where the heaven are you?!”
“Oh my God. They took my best friend! It really wasn’t a— Aziraphale? Is that you?”
“Yes, dear. It’s…” He realized he should probably start walking towards the bed. So he walked towards the bed. He got on it cautiously, as not to work Crowley up even more. “It’s me… I’m right here…” He placed his hand on one of Crowley’s to confirm this statement.
“I just… it just… it felt so real… like…”
“Don’t worry about it, it was a nightmare. I’m right here and we’re both perfectly fine.” He rubbed his hand up and down Crowley’s arm, returned to his hand, and gave it a little squeeze. “Let’s get you into something a little more cozy, alright?” He got off the bed, Crowley in tow, which elicited a bit of a groan from his companion, and dragged him over to the dresser.
“Where are your pajamas, dear?”
“There should be a pair of joggers and a vest on the floor, somewhere.” My, what a very British thing of him to say. It certainly sounded very British indeed to Aziraphale, and very much not like an American trying desperately, desperately to get the British names for sweatpants and tank tops correct. Indeed, if he read his companion’s statement in some sort of fictionalized recounting in one of his books, he would very much assume that the person who had written it was, in fact, from the UK, much like themselves, and not a confused American who’s trying their best and is very sorry if they got anything wrong. He had no idea as to why this thought had just occurred to him. He picked up the items and handed them to his friend.
“Erm… Aziraphale…” A blush slowly creeped up on Crowley’s face.
“This is gonna sound… kinda weird… but I promise it’s like totally chill and casual by now… it’s just… well… sometimes when I get a little shaken… and I can’t really focus well or stop jittering… or balance really... it’s… I’m still not completely used to the whole… blind situation… and it’s… erm… it’s usually my, er, mum, my mum who does this but… I think she might be asleep by now and so most of the time when that happens I don’t even bother with it… but…”
Aziraphale smiled, “Don’t worry about it, we all need help sometimes.” He reached for the lapels of Crowley’s jacket and began taking it off. Crowley’s hands stopped him hurriedly, however, and Aziraphale briefly worried he may have misconstrued what Crowley was asking him for help with.
“Just, promise you won’t freak out.”
Aziraphale was puzzled. “Why would I freak out?”
“It’s… well I guess I don’t actually know how bad it looks, but it’s pretty bad as far as I can tell. I’m a little self conscious about it, to be honest.”
Aziraphale wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about, but no matter what ‘it’ was, he wanted Crowley to feel more comfortable. “Swear on my life.”
Crowley deeply exhaled. “Okay then.”
Aziraphale had only seen Crowley’s arms once before, but to be completely honest, he had not really paid any attention to them. It wasn’t even until this very moment that Aziraphale realized just how uncommon it was for Crowley to expose his skin. Just barely peeking out from under his t-shirt, there was some dark, raised spots. As Aziraphale removed the shirt, he could clearly see that these were rather large scars and that Crowley had quite the concerned expression. He figured it was best to probably not comment on them. Finally, he went to take off the rather tight vest that Crowley had been wearing. It honestly looked like it might actually be cutting into his skin, the poor fellow. Aziraphale stuck his hand under the bottom of the garment, but he was quickly stopped by Crowley’s hand grabbing his own. The rapidity of it made Aziraphale tense up. Had he done something wrong? Crowley’s face looked ill.
“Not that one. That one stays on.”
“Are you sure? It looks like it’s hurting you… it can’t be safe to sleep in that…” Aziraphale rested his hand on his hip in hopes of comforting him.
Crowley looked conflicted. “I… er…” he sighed, “Alright, yeah, you’re right. I shouldn’t sleep in it. BUT! I’m gonna take it off myself and you’re gonna need to close your eyes.” Aziraphale removed his hand and did so.
“My eyes are shut.”
“If I find out they’re open I WILL commit murder,” Crowley said, his typical playful nature restored. Aziraphale laughed a little at that.
It took Crowley several minutes, a lot of grunting, some definite wrestling with the garment, three collisions with his dresser (at least, that’s what it sounded like), two “Wait, shit, fuck that’s the wrong hole”s, and one “UGH it’s INSIDE OUT,” before Aziraphale was permitted to open his eyes again. Crowley had replaced the vest for a much shorter, slightly looser, crop-top style one. In fact, it almost looked like anOoooh. Oh that’s why he wasn’t allowed to. Oh that made much more sense now.
Aziraphale resumed pajamaing up Crowley with only a few minor hiccups along the way from that point onward.
“I’m sorry… I’m not normally this incompetent…” Crowley said seemingly out of nowhere, though it sounded like he had been ruminating on it for awhile.
“My dear, you’re not incompetent. Not now, not ever.” Aziraphale sounded offended at the idea that Crowley would even suggest such a thing. And indeed, he was. “As long as I am here I will not stand for such foul language.” He finished up putting Crowley’s things on.
Crowley gave him a kind smile. “Sorry, I’ve just been… out of sorts, lately, I guess.” As he talked, he tried to cover his bare arms with his hands.
“That’s…” He noticed this, and went over to his bag to grab his cardigan. He came back and put it around him. Soft clothes are happy clothes. “That’s alright. You don’t have to be in sorts all the time. However, that doesn’t mean I have to stand by and let you tear yourself down.” Crowley smiled.
“Ughh, you really are an angel.”
Aziraphale giggled. “Today for you tomorrow for me. Should we go to sleep, then?”
“Well, now you’ve got me all riled up!”
Aziraphale could feel his own eyes lighting up. Those were the words of hijinks. “Perhaps we could watch a movie? I brought one I think you’ll enjoy!”
“Hmm… Let me guess… The Picture of Dorian Gray? Fight Club, perhaps?”
Aziraphale laughed. “Oh HELL no! Are you kidding me? It’s way too late in the evening for that kind of emotional investment.” He loaded up the DVD into the player as he talked. “It’s 5 Headed Shark Attack!”
Apparently, Aziraphale loved to talk through movies. Also apparently, he was incredibly invested in the bad film genre.
“It started off as 2 Headed Shark Attack, but they’re up to six or seven now I believe. They completely skipped over 4 Headed Shark Attack though, which is absolutely INFURIATING, considering for a good portion of 5 headed shark attack, the shark only has four heads! Guess where the fifth head head is?”
“It’s the tail! It’s the bloody tail! And it’s played like a plot twist, but it’s not even a plot twist because the title is literally 5 Headed Shark Attack! It makes me so— No! Watch out you idiot!! Oh my God, why did he do that!?” Why did he have to be so cute. What the fuck, Satan! He had to get his mind off of it. He had to.
“Hey, angel.” Why was he saying this.
“Truth or dare?” Why was he doing this.
“Er, truth!” Why was he obliging this.
Crowley contemplated a question, but he didn’t actually think of one before he started talking. “Have you ever kissed someone?” Was what he said, but not what he had planned on saying. He hadn’t planned on anything. Was that too forward? That seemed too forward. What if it was too forward?
“Yes! I’ve kissed a few people, actually! What about you?” The plan backfired. There wasn’t a plan, so really it couldn’t’ve backfired, shouldn’t’ve been able to, but it did anyway. Abort mission.
“I believe your next question is actually supposed to be ‘truth or dare.’” Awesome. Great dodge. Snarky, but not enough to be obviously avoiding the question.
“Okay! Truth or dare?”
“I dare you to tell me the truth about whether or not you’ve ever kissed someone before.” SHIT. That sneaky bastard. He saw right through his facade.
“Uh, yeah, duh, obviously I have. Loads of times.”
There were a few passing seconds of silence before Aziraphale’s giggle finally cracked. “So what do you have to do if you don’t do the dare, then?”
“I did do the dare!”
“What, do you think I’m daft? Crowley, you’re many things, but a liar is not one of them.” Was that a compliment or an insult? “Don’t worry about it, dear, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’ll find the right person eventually.” He must know. Surely he must know what he is doing.
Crowley pouted, and leaned back on the head of the bed. “Whatever. Fine, I haven’t kissed anybody. Truth or dare.”
They continued their game for a bit, only pausing every so often so that Aziraphale could yell at the characters on the TV for being morons. Most of the questions and dares were relatively inconsequential, as both didn’t really want to see the other too terribly hurt or embarrassed. Aziraphale found out about Crowley’s old house in Scotland, about his Ehlers Danlos, about his moderate addiction to cassette tapes, and Crowley found out about Crawly, about Aziraphale’s cerebral palsy, about how Aziraphale had a driver’s license but wasn’t trusted with a car.
“Dare,” Aziraphale said as the ending credits rolled. That’s when Crowley got a terrible, terrible idea.
“I dare you… to drive me in my mum’s car down to the meadow.”
Aziraphale laughed. “Why on Earth would you want me to do that? We’re in our pajama’s Crowley! Plus, if I hurt that car I’m sure she’ll kill me on the spot.”
“It’s not really her car anyways! It’s mine! So who cares?” Crowley grinned devilishly. “Do I hear a chicken? That’s so strange, I didn’t realize there was a chicken let loose in the house.”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t going to do it, I just wanted to know why!”
“Because it’s fun and rebellious and two in the morning.”
“Then by all means, show me the keys.”
This. This was gonna be fun.
I'm VERY excited about the next chapter so I hope you all stay tuned! It really means so much to me that you all seem to be enjoying this little project of mine, especially as the word count goes up and I realize just how deep I've gotten myself into this, it's very encouraging. Your questions/comments/concerns/thoughts/ideas are always appreciated, and I hope you have a spectacular day!
Chapter 12: Don't Stop Me Now
What could be more fun than a little late night joy ride?
Hello everyone! Sorry that this one took me a bit longer than usual, especially given that it's a little shorter than normal. I know that always doing super quick updates isn't really realistic, especially since I'm also working on other personal projects atm, but nonetheless it would still be ideal, yknow? Regardless, I still really hope you enjoy this chapter!
Warning for ableism and BIG warning for homophobia.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
When Aziraphale mentioned not being trusted to actually drive, Crowley had assumed it was just because his family was full of bullshitters.
Turns out, Aziraphale’s just not very good at driving.
His driving was incredibly jerky, hitting the breaks very suddenly every time they needed to stop. They weren’t even going that fast, yet it still seemed abrupt. How did this dude pass his driver’s test?
“Where are we going again, Crowley?”
“I told you, the meadow! Just follow my directions. I know the way by heart.”
“For some reason, that’s not very comforting.” And yet, he continued driving there anyways.
They didn’t converse for much of the drive there, aside from Crowley occasionally asking for confirmation of landmarks to assure that they were on the right track.
“I followed all of your directions, but… it took us to…”
“An abandoned farmhouse?”
“Well… erm... Yes…”
“Perfect! We’re here! Alright angel, time to switch sides.”
“C’mon, it’s my turn to drive.”
“Crowley! Are you crazy?! What if you hit something?”
“That’s why you’re here. Duh.”
“No. Absolutely not. You are a madman. We could get arrested!”
“I mean, that’s true, but not relevant.”
“Crowley, I’m not gonna let you get us killed.”
“Good! That’s exactly why you’re gonna be a fantastic copilot! Now scoot over.”
“I will no—”
“What’s that? Wh— Why I think I hear that chicken again! Oh, how nice, our friend the chicken is back!”
“That’s not gonna work.”
“Oh, it seems like it’s a little late in the evening for a chicken to be runnin’ around, but—”
"Not gonna woooorrrk."
"Y'know, I never realized that angel wings were made of chicken feathers. I always assumed it was more of a dove sort of deal, but looks like I was wro—"
“Fine! But not for very long, okay? Only a few minutes.” God peer pressure is awesome. Why don't adults like it?
“Oh trust me, angel,” Crowley gave a devilish smirk. He was really reveling in this whole devilish thing today. “That’s all the time I need.”
The last time Crowley had driven his beloved Bentley, it went so bad that it literally ended up in flames. Ever since then, he had been dying to get back behind the wheel. It may have been awhile, but he still knew this car like the back of his hand. This place was the only place in town he had found to just be able to let loose and drive, so he knew it would be the perfect spot to be reunited with his beauty. He hit the play button on the tape deck, just so Aziraphale could have the true ‘riding with Crowley’ experience, and then proceeded to floor it.
THIS IS WHAT HE NEEDED.
“CROWLEY! YOU CAN’T JUST GO NINETY—”
“YOU CAN’T SEE!”
“That’s quitter talk. I never used to look at the road anyhow.” He took a sharp left. The feel of the wheel as he gripped it under his fingers. The sound of the gravel kicking up behind him. The smell of the exhaust. Good Satan in Hell, he had missed this feeling. No brakes, speakers turned up to eleven, moonlight on his skin, cute boy at his side, not a care in the fucking world.
"That is not comforting!" He heard said cute boy say as he started frantically rummaging around. "Music... Maybe, changing the music..." He frowned, and offered Aziraphale his hand. It was promptly grabbed and squeezed with a vice grip. But it did stop the rummaging, at least.
"Sorry, angel, but Freddy Mercury's a part of t—"
“CROWL— STOP!! STOP THE CAR!! QUICKLY, STOP THE CAR QUICKLY!” The other boy nearly crushed his hand. Great, that was certainly gonna bruise.
He slammed the breaks and the car skidded through the dirt lot. God DAMN it. He JUST FUCKING SAID NO BREAKS. “Wh—” Ever so slightly, the car bumped something as it stopped completely.
“Dear Lord!” Aziraphale said while exiting the car. Crowley followed suit. “Anathema, dear, are you alright?”
“Don’t worry, you barely— Was… Was Crowley driving…”
“Told you I wasn’t gonna hit anything.”
“You did hit something! You hit a person!!”
“No, a person hit me.”
“That’s not how that works at all!”
Anathema started speaking again. “Why are you guys out driving at three in the morning in the middle of nowhere?”
“Well I shouldn’t exactly be doing it in the middle of the day through town, now should I?”
“You shouldn’t be doing it at all!” Aziraphale huffed.
Crowley rolled his eyes. He wasn’t sure if Aziraphale had the same eye roll detection sensors as his nan, but he hoped the point had been taken. “Anyways, we should really be asking you the same thing.”
“Aziraphale’s sister came to my house wondering where he was. When I saw the car pass by my house, I realized why he wasn’t answering his text messages about it. So I followed you here on my bike.”
“Uriel came to your house—”
“Not Uriel, Aziraphale. Michael.”
“...No… No, that can't be right... Michael is...”
A car’s tires crunched against the gravel road.
“Driving around in a dress at three in the morning on a school night with a Satanist delinquent and a witch!”
“Now, now, Michael, I’m sure Aziraphale has a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this. He said that he was tutoring that kid, maybe it was just that.”
“He lied to you and to our father, Gabriel! Deliberately! So he could go be peer pressured into doing creepy homo sex magic in an abandoned building that was nearly falling apart!”
Aziraphale listened quietly to their argument from the back of the car. They were going straight home, not even allowing him to stop by Crowley’s to get his items. He was trying to dig his fingers into the fabric upholstery of his seat, but it was not nearly as good of a stim as digging into wood was. It certainly did very little to ease his tension. His phone had vibrated a few times since they had left, but he didn’t dare check it while he was still in full view of Michael and Gabriel. Even if they did seem more concerned with arguing about his well-being rather than actually checking to see if he was okay.
He was dreading their arrival back home. For one thing, there was no way that he was getting any sleep tonight. For another, it was bad enough just listening to his siblings talk about him; he couldn’t bear to imagine what his father would say at him. Especially not after the last conversation they had.
Unfortunately, he was incredibly correct in all of his assessments. The next day, he was incredibly sleep deprived, not even getting in thirty whole minutes. The lecture he had gotten from his father had felt more… visceral than normal. Perhaps it was because he really felt like there was nobody on his side this time. Perhaps it was because he had brought up that he was going to tell Aziraphale’s mother about this, and she was the only person in the family that he really, really felt bad about disappointing. Or perhaps it had nothing to do with his father at all, but rather the way his siblings had treated him after the fact. On his way back to his room, he was all but cornered by Sandalphon, Uriel, and Michael. He could still hear Uriel’s voice bitterly referring to Crowley as his ‘boyfriend’ and the vague threats they all made about how Crowley wasn’t gonna be able to help him in Hell. For once, what they said had really… shaken him. All of this combined with no phone or computer for stimming videos, no Crawly, and the absence of his favorite cardigan did not make for a good recipe to ward off insomnia. Nor one for being very sociable.
He knew that Crowley must not want to see him. Why would anyone want to talk to someone that ruined their slumber party and then proceeded to ignore all of their text messages? Luckily, today was Friday, so all he needed was to last one day of bearing the anger before he could sulk in his room for the weekend. Hopefully they, at the very least, wouldn't take his sulking privileges away.
However, as he was getting ready for school, he heard a knock on his bedroom door.
It was Gabriel.
“Hey, buddy,” he said, letting himself in and then sitting on Aziraphale’s bed. What, pray tell, was the point of knocking if he was just going to barge in anyways? “So, we all were just talking, and… we decided that it would probably be best if you didn’t go to school today. You see, he’s going to take you somewhere very special, somewhere where you can get some help for your problems.”
Aziraphale did not like the sound of that. He did not like it one bit.
But he didn’t have the ability to object.
“He’s gonna drop you off there in a few hours, okay, champ? Get some rest. It’s gonna be a really fun and exciting weekend!”
Gabriel got up and left the room, not even bothering to close the door on the way out.
1.) :O Where could he be taking him?!
2.) I've been absolutely DYING to get Crowley behind the wheel of that Bentley this entire time.
3.) Thank you so much for reading this chapter!! Especially since there was kinda a wait for it (once again I'm so sorry!!) I'm really thankful for all of the support you all have shown, and it would mean the world to me if you stay tuned. As always I love hearing what you have to say in the comments and I hope that your day is positively lovely!
Chapter 13: Into the River Below
Things start heating up.
This one is. A wild ride in my humble opinion lol. Hopefully you all like it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
I am OVERWHELMED by your guys' support for this fic! Your comments have truly touched me so far and I'm so glad that you all seem to like it! I think we're probably getting into home stretch territory now, which is a little sad but very exciting!
As far as warnings go, there's some homophobia in this chapter, as well as some discussion of injuries (yeah, it's gonna be that kind of chapter folks. Sorry!!)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Aziraphale quickly shut the door behind him. This Was Not Good. This was not good at all. He didn’t have much time to come up with a game plan, it seemed, especially now that his dad was really on high alert. He looked around his room, thinking. It took him a bit, but his eyes eventually fell upon his desk. Yes, of course. He needed guidance.
He opened up his contraband drawer and removed the panel that hid his most secret items. Really, he was sure they were rather lame compared to most people’s secret items— two cans of wine (yes, they do taste as bad as they sound), some weed (left over from trying to make the worst brownies he’s ever had in his life), Fifty Shades of Grey (read for scientific reasons), a book of magic tricks (a fun albeit dorky remnant of rebellion from his youth), and his tarot deck (the only thing he regularly visited this drawer for.)
He removed the cards, lit some candles, and got to business. The candles weren’t strictly necessary, but he figured he might as well indulge in the ambience... Even if they were birthday cake scented... The smell made him happy, okay?
Shuffle, shuffle, cut the deck. Deep breath. One, two, three.
Past: Three of wands, reversed. That made sense.
Present: The tower. Fuck. Not surprising, but fuck.
Just as he went to flip the final card, his door was opened, this time with no warning knock at all. He jumped out of his chair and turned rapidly, only to be met with the face of a stranger.
“Hello lad—” A Scottish man wearing a priest’s robe had burst into his room. He abruptly stopped when he saw the activity Aziraphale was engaged in, allowing his father time to catch up to him and see his son apparently indulging in witchcraft.
“Good Lord! It’s even worse than you described over the phone!” His Scottish accent was even thicker when it was filled with a combination of rage, disgust, and horror. Trust me on this one. You know the drill by now.
“Mr. Shadwell, I had no idea that he was this far gone…”
“It’s a good thing you called me over before carting him off. Such a shame to see such a young little thing be possessed by demons. He must be exercised on the double!”
Bugger bugger bugger bugGER BUGGER BUGGER. Aziraphale tried to say something to his defence, but he was coming up short of any actual words. The man began chanting in Latin and slowly approaching him. All he could manage to do was to back into his desk. Hard.
When the candles fell, the unflipped card caught fire.
It spread so quickly there was hardly any time to think.
“We’ve angered the demon!” Mr. Shadwell cried out as he quickly escaped the room, pushing Aziraphale’s father out before he had the chance to react.
Aziraphale had broken his arm once, when he was a kid. He found it really funny, actually. Clothing being the wrong texture could set his nerves on fire, and if he stepped on something wrong his leg would be done for; but that day, he felt nothing.
There was no time to think. It quickly spread to all of the other items on the desk, the curtains, and, most unfortunately of all, his poor bookshelf.
It was surreal, even. Everyone around him had been so worried, but he couldn’t quite figure out why until he saw it in the mirror. It looked pretty bad.
His hand had been burnt, and his nostrils filled with the unfortunate combination of scents that were smoke, weed, and birthday cake.
A line from Fight Club, which was now on fire, played in his mind. “I am the Zen Master. I am so ZEN right now,” he repeated over and over again under his breath.
He would have to get a new copy. And a new tarot deck from Madame Tracy. Maybe while he was there, he would get some myrrh.
He calmly went to the window, opened it, stumbled out, hopped the fence with no grace to speak of, and started walking away from this Godforsaken house as fast as he possibly could.
Was Aziraphale avoiding him, or was he just not here? How could he ask that question without it seeming weird if Aziraphale really was in class today? He had his backpack, surely if he were here he’d want his backpack. He’s too studious to let all that homework go to waste. Why did that blasted teacher stop taking roll out loud? Almost like she knew the students’ names by now or something. Lame.
“Crowley, it’s time to finish your test.” Oh, that’s right, Anathema’s here. Perfect. He wouldn’t even need to bother reframing his question.
As soon as the door to the quiet room closed, he opened his mouth to speak. Almost as soon as that occurred, Anathema cut him off.
“I’m worried about Aziraphale. You should be too.”
“Awesome. Nice and cryptic, love your style. Great way to start a conversation.”
“Now’s not the time to be a smartass, smartass! There’s no way he stayed home of his own volition. Not after what happened last night.” Question answered. Maybe Anathema could read minds. Certainly witches could do that sort of thing, but probably not occultists, so he supposed that it depended on what she was feeling today. “They’ve gotten mad before, but they’ve never made him skip school. What if they’re taking him somewhere?”
“Taking him somewhere?”
“Y’know like…” Her voice got low, “like therapy…”
“What’s wrong with ther— No. No, surely those bastards wouldn’t—”
“I wouldn’t put it past them. Have you been able to talk to him at all?”
“Hasn’t responded to me.”
“Me neither. I don’t know how to check on him.”
“Do you have a car? Maybe we could drive over there.”
“No, all I have is my bike. Not to mention my grandmother would literally burn me at the stake if I shirked my responsibilities and skipped school while I was supposed to be administering a test.”
“Really, a witch is scared of a kindly old lady?”
“I’m not a witch , I’m an occultist.” Guess she can’t read minds today, then. Or maybe that was just definitive proof that she could read minds. Crafty. “And bold of you to assume that I’m the only one in my family who is invested in the supernatural.” Mrs. Nutter is a witch too? Fuck yeah!
“Well… you can’t deny me the right to go take a piss, right?”
“...I beg your pardon?” Can’t read minds after all.
“If I happen to go to the loo… and then just so happen to not come back… Well, that’s not your fault, now is it?”
“And where would you, hypothetically, go during this time?”
He hadn’t gotten that far. “Well if I tell you and then it happens, then you’re still a party to this whole situation, and then you’ll still get in trouble anyways.”
“You have no idea, do you?” DAMN it. CAN YOU or CAN YOU NOT read minds.
“Right, well, anyways, I gotta take a leak. I’ll be back, probably.”
“AJ, I don—”
“Byyyyeeeeee,” he said while walking out the door. He didn’t even turn in the direction of the restrooms. He knew this path pretty well, but got out his probing cane just in case. He was improving at his ‘not-eating-shit-while-walking-with-two-canes’ technique, but the first few steps were still very wobbly. He managed to, at the very least, make his way outside the school.
Suddenly, he hit something that felt suspiciously like an arsehole.
“You,” LigurHastur’s voice growled. Today was just not his fuckin’ day, huh? “Don’t think I’ve forgotten about that little stunt you’ve pulled.” Good Satan his breath stank.
“Strange. I have. Who are you, again?”
“I’m the person who’s about to wipe the floor with you.”
“Pavement, actually. Last time I checked they didn’t put flooring outdoors. Though maybe they do things differently in Wales.”
“God, do you ever shut up?”
“Not really, no. Holy shit, what’s that?” Crowley pointed off into the distance and then promptly decked LigurHastur in the probably-around-where-his-stomach is area.
As the other person groaned, he had an absolutely mad idea. “Hey dickhead, you got a car?”
“Wha— Why?” The defensive way the other responded had confirmed that to be a yes.
“Good. Give me your keys.”
“Alright,” Crowley said before he started speaking random, Latin-ish sounding words.
“What are you doing?”
“Um, cursing you, duh.” He hoped this bastard was as thick as he seemed. He really needed something to go right today.
“How thick do you think I am? That shit’s not real.” FUCK.
Crowley put on a fake smile. Think of something fast, idiot. “Congratulations, you’ve passed the test!”
“Your friend unfortunately failed my test, but you, erm Hastur?”
“Hastur! Have passed it with flying colors! Oh, if you thought you were a miscreant before, just you fuckin’ wait, bro. I’m talking the juvenile delinquent major leagues. All you’ve gotta do now is give me the car keys, and we’ll basically run this town.”
“Oh, yeah. Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with my track record? Thought it’d have gotten around the whole school by now. Nobody will ever bother you again, I’ll tell you that much. You’ll be officially a top dog.” He felt the keys slide into his open hand. Bless this silver tongue. He can't believe Aziraphale thought he was a bad liar. Hastur’s hand still held them in place.
“What do you plan on doing?”
“Well you see I plan on punching you in the face,” he said as he punched him in the face, snagged the keys, and booked it. “SO LONG, SUCKAH!!!!” He yelled while hitting the lock button over and over again so the car’s horn would beep. Could he go to jail for this? Best not to think about it. This is already feeling like some sort of fictional scenario one would only ever see in like. A shitty teen drama or something, anyways, so it’ll probably work out fine in the end. Or he’ll die. Or get addicted to drugs somehow. Or get pregnant. Those shows could really get fuckin’ crazy, huh? He finally found the right car, just as he heard Hastur’s screaming finally drawing near. He hopped in, put the car into drive, and got the fuck out of there.
By some miracle, he did not hit anything as he sped his way out of the school’s car park, and by another, he had actually remembered Aziraphale’s address when he went to speak it into his phone. He tried not to go too too fast, as he was driving on a real actual road during the middle of the day through town in a stolen car, which he most certainly should not have been doing. He was probably only going a modest seventy. His entire trust was put into his GPS system. GPS take the wheel.
He probably looked like he was driving like a madman.
He was almost there.
Then again, it’s not like that isn’t how he used to drive anyways.
He knew it. He was almost there. He must be right around his own house by now.
Always been a bit of a speed demon. You’d think he would’ve learned after the accident.
There’s only one more turn after this, if he recalled correctly.
Old habits die hard.
He smelled smoke.
He slammed the brakes.
He heard sirens zoomed past him.
Firefighter sirens. Oh Thank God.
It wasn’t coming from the car.
He pulled over and put the car in park. If the fire department was around the police weren’t gonna be far behind. He decided to walk the rest of the way; he did not want to be found anywhere near that thing. He left the keys in it, for good measure. Hopefully someone else would steal it, then it would be their problem.
As he drew nearer to Aziraphale’s house, the smoke smell increased. This Was Not Good. This was not good at all. The loud crash of a fireman's hose cut through his thoughts.
“You have reached your destination.”
WHOOO boy. That was certainly an event, huh? I hope you all liked reading this chapter and I hope you stay tuned! Like I said earlier, we're getting close to the conclusion of this wild and wacky romp! Your comments/questions/concerns/thoughts/etc are always encouraged and appreciated, and I truly wish that your day is filled to the brim with joy!
Chapter 14: Remember Those Walls I Built?
What a strange chapter.
Hey howdy hey! It's crazy to think that we're almost at the end here. I'v got one more chapter and maybe an epilogue planned, but I'm too scared of commitment to make that official until it's all done and over with haha! You guys have been so great for this entire wild ride, and I'm so glad that so many people really seem to have been enjoying this story. Writing a big long project like this (longer than what I'm used to, anyways) has really reminded me how much I enjoy creative writing and has inspired me to hop back onto the saddle with my more personal works. Thank you all so very much! I really can't say it enough.
To be honest, I had a bit of a rough time sorting this chapter out, so I hope it turned out alright! A content warning for some brief ableism.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Crowley now realized the problem with charging forward without a plan. Had he thought of a plan before storming out of the quiet room, before leaving the school, before stealing Hastur’s car— hell, had he thought of a plan on the car ride there, then perhaps he could've considered what he would've done in the incredibly likely event that Aziraphale was, in fact, not at his house. Granted, he likely wouldn't've come up with a plan for the incredibly specific, unlikely scenario that the reason for such an absence would be due to a house fire, but he would've had some direction to go nonetheless. As it stood, he had no idea what he was going to do next, so he simply started walking. Very fast walking.
Aziraphale now realized the problem with charging forward without a plan. Perhaps if he had come up with a plan before sitting down to do his tarot reading, he might have thought of the incredibly likely event that he would’ve needed to escape at a much earlier time than he had anticipated, and then might’ve thought of a good place to escape to. Granted, he likely wouldn't've come up with a plan for the incredibly specific, unlikely scenario that the reason for such an escape would be due to a house fire that would leave him tired, anxious, and slightly injured, but he would've had some direction to go nonetheless. As it stood, he had no idea where he was going. Not until he heard the bell chime, at least.
“Oi! Kid! Get away from there!” Crowley stopped walking and turned in the direction of the voice before immediately getting knocked over by a blast of water. "Oh my God! I'm so sorry!" The voice approached him. Awesome. Cool. Great. Peachy. Tickety-Boo. Perfect. "Is this your house, mate?" Fuck. His glasses must've fallen off. Ugh, oh God. Satan. Whoever has control of the light switch. It is so BRIGHT. He closed his eyes.
"Do I look like I live here?" He bitterly bit out.
"Well, most people don’t just burst through other people’s gates like they own the place." Oh shit, this house had a fence?
"Whatever, just help me up."
"Aren't you a little young to be using a cane?" Shit where, where was his cane? He patted around the ground. Firefighter MacWankerFace must've taken it.
"Aren't you a little old to be an ass? Help me the fuck up."
"Right, sorry, grab onto my hand." He smacked the air around until he found his hand. Their hand. “Oh God, you’re—”
“Yes, yes, trust me, I know by now. It’s whatever,” he snatched the cane as soon as it was offered back to him. “Have you— was there a kid around here? Kinda short, wavy curly hair, uhh… blonde?” God he hoped none of Aziraphale’s siblings looked anything like him.
“No kids here, ’m afraid, just a couple of older blokes. Said they were the only ones in the house. Didn’t find nobody else inside.”
“Welcome, esteemed guest, to Madame Tracy’s—” She dropped the tray she was holding when her eyes landed on Aziraphale. “Goodness— Aziraph— what on Earth happened to— oh my—”
“Do you have a phone?”
“Yes, oh, yes, of course I do, dearie, just. Just a second. Oh we really should get you cleaned up first, you’re covered in— my goodness, your hand!”
“I…” He wasn’t really sure what to say. The situation was starting to catch up to him.
“It’s okay, dear. You can explain what all happened while we’re fixing you up. Go up to my flat, I’ll meet you there and I’ll even bring you a nice cuppa tea.”
Crowley groaned in frustration. FUCK. “FUCK!” FUCK!!! He was too late. He had already been shipped off somewhere and the house just so happened to catch on fire while he was gone. They got him. They beat Crowley to him. God, he was so fucking stupid. What did he even think he could’ve done if he had gotten there in time? Aziraphale probably wouldn’t’ve wanted to go along with his half baked scheme anyways. Stupid. Dumbarse. Idiot. Stupid Dumbarse Idiot Stupid Dumba—
Can anybody find meeeee somebody tooooo—
“Aziraphale?!” He answered the phone in record speed. The sound quality was a little craggly, a constant underlying sound of static allowed for no silence from the other line.
“Cro..ey? C... you hea… me.”
“Wh— uh— Yeah, course I can hear you.”
“...Fraid I r… made a mess of… ings.”
“It’s— I’m just— Where are you? I’ll come find you.”
“At… Tracy’s… it’s prob... get... bit of... wiggle on…”
“No, I heard that part, it was the ‘wiggle on’ part—” the line went dead, even the static was gone. “Aziraphale? Azi—”
“Who was that, lad?”
“Fuck it, I’ll just— I’m just gonna go.” He marched back the way he came, hitting the fence on the way out.
Right, probing cane would be helpful.
“I’m at Madame Tracy’s, but it’s probably a good idea to get a wiggle on soon before my family catches on. I’m gonna have her drive me up to the abbey. Maybe you can get your mom to drive you?” There was no response. Aziraphale looked at the screen only to find that Crowley had hung up. Of course he would hang up. What was Aziraphale thinking?
He had already discussed this plan with Madame Tracy, and agreed that this probably wasn’t the safest place to wait it out to determine their next move. He needed to be somewhere calming. He sipped his tea as she talked on the phone, looking at his bandaged hand. Nothing felt real. He looked at his soot and dirt covered clothes, and then looked back to her as she hung up.
“Alright, it’s your friend Anathema’s lucky day. She’s gonna come in and watch over the shop as soon as school’s done. Is there anything else you need before we leave?”
“...Do you have anything that I might be able to wear?”
The bell chimed as he stormed in. “MADAME TRACY?! AZIRAPHALE?!” He was panting. How fast did he walk here?
A dog barked.
“Young man, why are you shouting?”
“Do you know where they are?”
“Madame Tracy and Aziraphale!”
“Madame Tracy? You mean the crazy woman who runs the shop next door?”
“Yes! Oh, wait, next door?”
“Her shop is to the left of this one.”
“Erm, right. Okay. Uh thanks.” He started leaving.
“Maybe you would’ve been able to tell if your STUPID CLOTHES WEREN’T SOAKING WET!”
Geez, what was that guy’s problem?
“He’s not picking up his phone… I really want to let him know that we’re leaving now…”
“You told him we were going when you talked to him earlier, right? He’ll probably figure it out…”
“I don’t know… Something doesn’t seem right… I don’t think he...”
“That’s probably all the nerves talking, hun.”
“No, I can feel it.”
“You and your intuition.”
“Maybe… Maybe he’ll come here. Can you wait here for him? I can drive myself.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that… you seem…”
“I’m not a child, you know! I shouldn’t have to beg and grovel in order to be listened to!” It came out much more frustrated than he intended to let on.
“...You’re right, I’m sorry, Aziraphale. You can take the moped, okay? Just stay safe. If he doesn’t show up before Anathema gets here, I’ll come and join you.”
He let out a deep breath. “Thank you.”
He made sure to keep his eyes peeled for kool aid dyed hair and black tinted glasses.
He burst through the door and the bell chimed. The correct one, this time.
“Oh, crap on a cracker! You just missed him!”
“RGGGGHH, SERIOUSLY?!” The universe was just OUT to GET him today. He kicked the door in anger.
“Dear, really, there’s no need for that…”
“LET ME BE ANGRY, DAMNIT. I’VE HAD A LONG DAY.” He was positively vitriolic. He knew she didn’t really deserve his outdoor voice, but… well, you already know his opinions on revelling. “UGH, DAMNIT! DAMN! IT! GOD DAMNIT! SATAN DAMNIT! SOMEBODY, ANYBODY DAMNIT!”
“I’m… I’m just gonna make you some tea…”
The abbey wasn’t really in the town proper. Which was a shame, considering it was probably the best part of it. There weren’t any tourists this time of year given notoriously dreadful autumnal weather of the UK.
It was beautiful, peaceful, quiet, and lonely.
It was ancient, Aziraphale quite enjoyed old things; it was a landmark of literature, the subject of one of Aziraphale’s favorite poems; and it was surrounded by a nice, cool breeze, starkly contrasting the heat of the situation Aziraphale had been in earlier that day.
So why, then, did he not feel better?
Instead, he thought of the garden that surrounded Crowley’s house. He thought of the abandoned farm and the gravel that Crowley had ripped through the previous night. He thought of the classroom, he thought of their bench, he thought of Crowley’s bed.
It was foolish, it felt foolish. He didn’t need Crowley to swoop in and save the day. Crowley couldn’t make the situation any better, and it wasn’t his job to. It was wrong to want him to just drop everything and make sure he was doing okay, especially after the way Aziraphale’s family treated him. After the way Aziraphale himself had treated him. He knew that this was all futile.
But Goddamnit, he wanted so badly for him to show up.
“Don’t worry yourself too much lad, it sounded like he wanted a little bit of alone time anyway.”
Crowley sipped his tea. Unfortunately, Madame Tracy had remembered that he ordered black tea the first time he was there. He did not continue sipping the tea. “I think I’m good now, sorry that I went a little ballistic there. We really should get going as soon as possible.”
“Right, right, right. I’ll take your mug then get the car started. I’ll be back in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”
He needed to work fast. He heard the door shut and immediately got up to put his nefarious plan into action. The signs had embossed lettering, he just needed to remember where they were. C-R-nope, next aisle. B-O-nope, next aisle. T-A-bingo. He picked it up, shoved it into his pocket, and then went back to the table just in time for the door to open back up again.
He’d pay her later.
Aziraphale was lost in thought, which was a very dangerous place to be lost on days such as these.
Luckily, he wasn’t lost too long before his guide arrived.
I hope you enjoyed this chapter! If you have any comments or anything of the like then as always please feel free to leave them! I love reading them from the bottom of my heart. I hope you stay tuned for the conclusion of this work and I truly can't wait to see you again. Have a splendid day!