Lockie spends a good few minutes snotting all over Nanny and his nice shirt---which, upon closer inspection is almost certainly from the women's section. This, somehow, makes his tears snottier.
Yes, he gets one (1) hug from his childhood caretaker and he ends up bawling onto his shoulder like a massive baby. Lockie is very conscious of how ridiculous he is as a person.
"You're so much taller," Nanny tells him, and he snorts wetly.
He pulls back, wiping at his nose with the back of his hand ---which, eugh, he's never been a pretty crier--- and is about to say something more grounded in reality; maybe Nanny what the fuck are you doing in a demonic summoning circle or digging the new aesthetic , or do you want to sit down and explain to me what just happened.
Instead, what comes out is the thing that's been nagging at him all along, which rather brilliantly illustrates where Lockie's priorities lie;
"Is Brother Francis running a bookstore?" he demands, eyes wide, "because I think I ran into him---he sold me this book--"
Nanny eyes the book in question, and groans loudly. It's very un-Nanny-like, all theatrics and rolled eyes and forked tongue. Well, the forked tongue seems pretty on-brand.
"That blessed idiot," he hisses, looking wryly at Lockie like they're both sharing a joke. "I told him to burn all of those---that's one of the few real occult books in existence, and I guess he couldn't bloody resist hoarding them."
All of this is said with a degree of fondness and familiarity that simultaneously warms Lockie's heart and confuses him, because it also indicates that this is typical behaviour for Francis.
"I have so many questions," he says, blankly.
Nanny's face immediately loses most of its mirth, shifting into something much more grave. "Of course," he says, quietly, and that sounds much more like the Nanny he knew, "of course, I'll--"
And then he glances down at the carefully laid out circle that Lockie has ruined by tumbling in and clinging to him like a child, and raises an eyebrow.
"First rule of summonings," he says, to the room in general, "Never break the circle."
And he steps out of it, eyebrow twitching above his glasses like he's winking and somehow forgotten that he'd wearing sunglasses. His roommates both stare blankly.
"Hey, Lockie," says Omar, pleasantly, "What the fuck?"
Lockie clears his throat and gestures to Nanny, who has loped away and is now inspecting the plants (which make up roughly 50% of the living room) with a critical air. "This is my old Nanny, Lilith Ashtoreth," he says.
Nanny makes a choking noise from where he's squinting at Herbert the English Ivy.
"This explains nothing ," says Omar.
"Nanny, the short sniffly one's Artie, and the tall one with the ugly little moustache is Omar," he goes on, and is met by the usual noises of outrage. ("I'm not short, " from Artie, and "Fuck you," from Omar.)
Nanny nods, and says, "Nice. Do you lot go around summoning demons often, then?"
"This is our first time, actually," Lockie says, earnestly.
"...Yeah, sounds about right," he says, and turns to look at Lockie.
"You're right---you must have questions, and you deserve answers. Can we," Nanny pauses, and makes a complicated looking face, "can we talk?"
It's around now that it dawns on Lockie the full enormity of recent events, which include but are not limited to I just summoned a demon and the demon turned out to be my childhood Nanny .
"Cool," he says, a little faintly, "I'll go break out the whiskey."
"NO," says Omar, whose mother hen instincts outweigh whatever fear he's feeling at the sight of a demon judging his dusty floor, "You're cut off! Heidi told us about last night!"
Lockie glowers at him. "Fine," he says, "I'm breaking out the emergency chamomile."
work of art changed group name to what the fuck is going on
dycicle: oh no
dycicle: what happened
work of art: so it worked
work of art: ...actually I have no idea how to explain this but no one's dead so there's the bright side
discount waluigi: APPARENTLY THE DEMON IS THE NANNY HE TALKS ABOUT
dycicle: what the fuck does that mEAN
discount waluigi: we don't kNOW
work of art: they're in the kitchen having the emergency calming tea
work of art: hey guys what if the demon is tricking lockie and we just fell for it
work of art: and let him loose on the mortal plane or sth
discount waluigi: UH
dycicle: what the fuck you guys
discount waluigi: in our defense
discount waluigi: it seems pretty believable i mean
discount waluigi: if u've met him
discount waluigi: lockie, i mean
work of art: god this would explain all of the times he's talked about satan or the apocalypse or whatever
dycicle: if u shitheads don't eXPLAIN
Lockie busies himself pulling out the mugs and rinsing them, settling himself into the calming process of making the tea. This is a habit that Heidi got him into when he was crashing on her couch, when breathing exercises weren't enough to quell his anxiety, and he's carried it with him over the years. Emergency Tea Talks are taken very seriously around here.
Nanny has folded himself and his long limbs into one of the mismatched chairs around their table, and eyes the towering pile of unwashed dishes and Sarah the Spiderplant Who Has Taken Over the Kitchen Counter.
He sets the mugs down. One is chipped and lumpy, having been made in a wine and pottery class he'd gone to one time. He gives this one to Nanny, who takes it with long fingers and does not comment on how lumpy it is.
"There's some things you should know," Nanny says, as Lockie settles down with his own mug, "and. 'Zira and I had a talk about this, about what we should tell you---or we tried, and I got pulled through spacetime and here we are."
"'Zira?" asks Lockie.
"I'm getting there," says Nanny, patiently. He takes a sip of the tea and makes a face. "How much sugar did you put in this?"
"You take after him," he says, with a sort of disgusted fondness that might have been funny if Lockie weren't so confused, "anyway---'Zira. Aziraphale. I'm getting to that."
Nanny takes a deep breath, and puts down his mug. Pulls off the sunglasses, which is a movement that genuinely shocks Lockie more than anything else---he's never seen Nanny without them, in all the eleven years he'd been attached to her skirt with grubby little hands.
His eyes are golden, and have slits for pupils. They look like they belong on a snake. They also, bafflingly, look nervous.
Oh, he thinks. Demon .
"My name," says the demon that raised him, looking rather like he's going to chew on his nails at any moment, "is Crowley . Or Anthony J. Crowley, depending on who you ask. But really, it's Crowley."
"Oh," says Lockie, wide-eyed. He flounders for a minute, and blurts out, "What's the J for?"
Nanny---er, Crowley, blinks, seemingly thrown off. He opens his mouth, closes it's and says, faintly, "Just a J, really. Didn't think that one through. Thought a J would sound cool, at the time."
This is a statement so profoundly ridiculous that Lockie only nods sagely, and says, " God , that's valid."
Crowley snorts, and then smiles at him warmly. That looks the same as before, if nothing else. It's brimming with affection, and Lockie immediately feels very at home.
"Anyway, before I tell you anything, I need you to know, Warlock," Crowley says, leaning forward and cupping his hands over Lockie's, "I need you to know that I--- we cared about you. Do care about you--both me and Aziraphale---er, that's Francis---"
"Oh," says Lockie, unsure if he understands.
"I'm a demon," says Crowley, "and Aziraphale--Francis---is an angel. And twenty-two years ago, Hell assigned to me a very important delivery."
Aziraphale and Crowley accidentally started moving in together roughly three months after the Apocalypse Didn't Happen.
This was not a conscious decision, but something that happened a little like Crowley claims Fall happened--they sauntered vaguely into it.
One night, Crowley was asking Aziraphale if he could stay over (and miracling the bed into being fit for real actual sleeping) and the next thing they knew, all of Crowley's plants were in the bookshop and they were accidentally wearing each others' coats. And, once they'd got their heads out of their own asses and gotten together after six thousand years of bullshitting around it, there was no point in changing the fact.
The point here being; for the better part of six thousand years, Aziraphale and Crowley had spent their time apart. They would, inexorably, meet like two very stupid celestial bodies caught in orbit and then part for another century or so. Nevermind that these moments, these nights spent drinking or seeing plays or feeding ducks or saving/being saved from the threat of discorporation are the highlight of their millenium---the fact remains that the past few years are the most time they've spent together, aside from their decade-long stint as Brother Francis and Ms. Ashtoreth.
This is different, though. Back then, they were still Enemies. Opposite sides. Now, they are their own side.
And so, the inside of Aziraphale's head---the screaming, eldritch part with innumerable eyes and six wings and wheels upon wheels and the golden light of creation caught in its teeth---has very sensibly removed HEAVEN from its long-appointed place of HOME and gleefully replaced it with CROWLEY.
Angels are, at heart (if they've bothered to have a heart, that is), creatures who can and will desecrate anything in their part for fucking with anything categorized as HOME or THEIRS.
1) The angels who absolutely lost their shit once Lucifer suggested something they didn't like and tattled to mommy, and got him punted the fuck out of heaven.
2) Aziraphale and Crowley stopping an entire apocalypse so that they could go on being hedonistic idiots together on earth
3) Aziraphale summoning a flaming sword using the sheer worry and rage inside him, and marching down the streets with it in plain sight, using the angry screaming part of his brain to locate HIS and CROWLEY and HOME, fully intent on smiting whoever dared---
I'm sure you see where this is going.
"So," Warlock says, eyebrows by his hairline, "You were only accidentally taking care of me?"
He's abandoned his tea, Crowley notes, and it's long since gone cold. Warlock listened to the tale with wide eyes, scraping turquoise polish off his nails absently.
His hair has, by now, unravelled from its french braid so thoroughly that it is currently barely a suggestion of a french braid. The fondness Crowley feels is so vast that it nearly chokes him.
"No," he says, a little desperately, "Well, yeah, but listen. We cared--- do care about you. I---don't--"
Warlock just looks at him for a while, and says, slowly, "Well, this explains all the lullabies. And that stuff about how I'll crush my enemies at the end of everything or whatever."
"...you remember that?"
"It's literally my earliest memory," Waflock informs him. It occurs to Crowley now that he looks less upset than he'd expected. In fact, his face is veering towards amusement. "Literally all of my formative memories are of you two, somehow."
Crowley feels the sudden urge to slam the sunglasses back onto his face, because he's rather certain he's going to cry. He, of course, immediately murders the tears before they happen, but it must be noted that he very nearly did.
"...right, sorry about that," Crowley says.
At this, Warlock blinks, and actually frowns. Which, Crowley now realizes, he has not done until now.
"Don't...be?" he says, as though he is carefully choosing his words, unsure of what he's trying to say, "I--okay, it was weird, but I didn't figure out it was weird until a few years later and I casually mentioned stuff to people and they'd be like there is no way a sane adult would say that but like, also there's no way a sane adult would name their child Warlock so really that ship sailed years ago," he pauses, and says, "Don't be sorry? You and Francis were--"
He pauses again, and purses his lips.
"---you remember my parents, and what they were like. That--that kinda got worse over the years," Warlock says, finally, "I have a lot to thank you both for."
Fuck, his eyes are stinging now.
"Oh," he says, and it comes out choked-up and strangled.
"Although," says Warlock, "this means my parents weren't really my parents---if I was baby A, then doesn't that mean that this Antichrist kid ended up with my biological parents?"
"---which doesn't really matter, I guess," he goes on, with a finality to his tone, "because I know the people who raised me, and one of them is sitting right here."
" Oh ," says Crowley again, and promptly starts leaking from his eyes.
"Aw, Nanny Ash," Warlock says, grinning affectionately, and reaches forward to grasp Crowley's hand.
"Shut it," says Crowley, squeezing his eyes closed, "I'm sorry--about--"
He never gets to finish, however, because the tall one from earlier, the one with the scraggly little moustache, pokes his head into the cramped little kitchen, looking frazzled. "Sword!" he yells, wild-eyed.
"Dude, teatime rules," says Warlock, sounding aggrieved, "we knock! When we do the tea talk!"
"LOCKIE," someone shouts from the next room, "I THINK SOMEONE'S HERE TO SEE YOU---THIS SEEMS LIKE A YOU PROBLEM."
Crowley feels, rather than uses any of his senses to ascertain, the familiar presence that his hindbrain---the part that's still on fire and hurtling through the void in a way that doesn't in any way resemble Sauntering---has learned to recognize wherever he goes.
"Aziraphale," he says, blinking. Oh , he feels angry.
"...cool, I'll make another cup of tea," says Warlock.
Aziraphale finds himself in the doorway of a very small apartment. He did not knock. The door, sensing that something very bad would happen to it if it did not get out of his way immediately, had sort of just swung open to avoid becoming a pile of splinters.
The air smells thick with occult workings, clogged with brimstone and smoke and blood and the peculiar watery peanut aftertaste that happens when someone had successfully convinced reality to bend for them, for a while. Aziraphale also has this right now, because when he'd got past the shock of Crowley just disappearing, he'd proceeded to get so angry that his flaming sword just happened in his hand.
Belief is a powerful thing, you'll find.
It's never occurred to Crowley that a car should not behave like the Bentley does---he thinks that having minimal driving knowledge and a car that occasionally takes over is just part for the course. Lockie Dowling grew up on stories that tasted of hellfire and power, and was raised by two very powerful celestial beings, and some part of him has therefore never registered that, perhaps, angels and demons and magic and fairies and the like are not real. He summoned his old Nanny simply because it's never occurred to him that the ritual required a seasoned magic user (which he is not) and not, say, three university-aged people with nothing better to do on a Sunday.
Similarly, Aziraphale got so profoundly enraged that the thought of Crowley getting dragged through spacetime after they'd gone through so much to carve out the peace in their life, that for a moment he'd forgotten to be a soft little man running a bookshop--- and instead recalled what it was like to be newly-made, newborn stars caught in his hair and named a Warrior from the get-go.
Guardian of the Eastern Gate---Aziraphale was built for protection. And right now, boy does he know it.
So he has a sword in his hand, and surveys the scene with cold eyes.
The living room is rather cluttered, all plant-pots and furniture shoved by the walls, and there is a blood-circle right in the middle. There is also, he notes, quite a lot of dust on the carpet, which has also been pushed aside.
The young man who first sees him takes one look at him and bolts.
Aziraphale turns to the other one, who is much smaller and appears to be swaddled in a blanket. "Where is he?" he asks, in a tone that might be called terrifyingly pleasant .
"Uh," says the blanket cocoon curled up on the shoved-aside sofa, that might be a boy, "LOCKIE, I THINK SOMEONE'S HERE TO SEE YOU." He pauses, and eyes Aziraphale for a moment, before adding, "THIS SEEMS LIKE A YOU PROBLEM."
" No, " says Aziraphale, nearing the end of his patience, "I meant the demon-- "
The doorway that the first lad had stumbled to is now occupied by Crowley.
"My dear, " says Aziraphale, weak with relief---rushing forward and looking him over with a critical eye. No worse for wear, just a bit sooty and dusty. His sunglasses are crooked, like he's hastily slammed them onto his face.
"Wait," says the blanket cocoon from behind him, "aren't you the bloke from the bookstore? Fell?"
"Oh my god," says the other one, "what the fuck is going on."
Aziraphale turns to them and says, lowly, "And as for you-- do you have any idea what you've done?"
Because they don't seem like they have harmed Crowley. In fact, Crowley's cradling a rather chipped and lumpy mug of tea in his hands. This does not seem to be a malicious ritual summoning or sacrifice of any sort--Aziraphale does not know of many cults that give their summoning subjects tea.
"About that," starts Crowley.
"DOES THAT MEAN YOU'RE THE BOOKSHOP TWINK ," says the blanket boy, looking at Crowley with accusatory eyes.
"I'm the what ," says Crowley, justifiably affronted.
"The bookshop twink's Lockie's Nanny," says the other one, blankly.
This gives Aziraphale pause, and he squints at him. "Who's--"
Another head pokes out from between Crowley and the tall one and says, sunnily, "Brother Francis! I made you tea."
"What on--- Warlock? " says Aziraphale, who's very thoroughly lost the plot of whatever's happening and thus also forgotten to pretend he doesn't know the boy.
"I prefer Lockie," he tells him, grinning widely. "And I hear you're going by Aziraphale these days? Nice sword, but I think you're scaring the plants."
"I--" he looks at Crowley, who shrugs helplessly.
"Come on in, I've made you tea," says the boy apparently called Lockie, gesturing to the kitchen.
"Right," says Aziraphale, faintly.
discount waluigi: FELL'S HERE
discount waluigi: HEIDI THE FELL GUY FROM THE BOOKSHOP JUST SHOWED UP
discount waluigi: HE HAS A SWORD HOLY FUCK
work of art: how is it just constantly on fire
work of art: magic??
dycicle: w h a t
discount waluigi: THE YELP REVIEWS FOR HIS SHOP DID NOT MENTION A FLAMING SWORD
dycicle: im so confused will one of u pls fucking Explain
work of art: so unrelated but I'm reading this book ok and we?? just cast a spell that apparently needs a "great source of arcane power" did I miss something
discount waluigi: i need a fUCKING NAP
Aziraphale is, before he knows it, ushered into a cramped little kitchen barely big enough to house the table he is sat at, and given a mug of tea.
"It's raspberry," says Lockie, "we're out of chamomile and I think Omar's going to need the lavender, he looks like he needs a stress-nap."
Aziraphale looks at the mug. It has the words GRL PWR on it in white, against the hot pink of the mug itself.
He turns to Crowley and says, "My dear, what on Earth is going on?"
"You sold the boy a bloody spellbook and he and his friends accidentally summoned me," Crowley tells him, amused. Then, he says, "Wait, why the Heaven were you lot summoning demons in the first place?"
They both turn to Lockie, who grins sheepishly. "I was really, really sad?" he ventures.
Both Aziraphale and Crowley give him identical unimpressed looks.
"Someone suggested it and it seemed like a good idea?" he tries again.
"...don't do that again," says Crowley.
"Worked out fine this time," says Lockie, "but sure."
Aziraphale, who is getting the picture, says, "And you've told him everything?"
"Yep," says Crowley, popping the p .
He looks at Warlock---Lockie---and says, "I'm very sorry, my dear boy."
"I don't get why you guys keep apologizing," he says, exasperated.
"You were super fucking weird," Lockie says, "but you guys are the whole reason I am who I am now. I'm pretty sure things would be gone---really different for me if it weren't for you. Self discovery-wise, I mean."
"Oh?" says Crowley.
"Yeah I'm pretty, uh," he wrinkles his nose and says, "fluid? Genderweird? Genderwobbly? Manic pixie nightmare babe? You know, how you said you're sometimes a man and sometimes a woman--"
"---and sometimes a snake---"
"---god, I wish I could be a snake," Lockie sighs, wistfully.
"That's wonderful!" says Aziraphale, clapping his hands together. "I'm so happy for you!"
"Because...I want to be a snake?"
"...no, the other thing," he says, and he means it so very much, "I think it's lovely that you've found yourself and accepted it. Just look at you, my dear."
This prompts a host of expressions on Lockie's face. He appears to be wheeling through several emotions at once, and seems to be thoroughly confused by it, and there are tears gathering in his eyes.
"Thanks," he says, thickly, eyes brimming. He puts down his mug and wipes at them roughly.
"Do you go by he, or?" asks Crowley, looking concerned.
"Anything goes," says Lockie, wetly, "I'm usually a they, but these days I'm man-shaped, you know? But on Tuesdays I do a, uh---a routine and I'm a girl then. Ask me in a week and maybe it'll be different, uh."
"He right now, girl on Tuesdays, got it," says Crowley, and Lockie laughs.
There is a companionable silence for a few moments, then, and Aziraphale makes use of it by taking a sip of his tea. It is very sweet. But nice. Good temperature, too.
"I'm sorry for being so rude back at the bookshop," says Aziraphale, who has never before apologised for being rude at his bookshop, "I honestly wasn't expecting to see you here---last we'd checked, you and your family moved back to America."
"They did," Lockie says, and he looks shifty for a moment before saying, "Wait, you checked in on me?"
"For a year or two, yeah," says Crowley, "How'd you end up back in England anyway? And--" here he pauses, and looks around the kitchen---with its table held steady by a hasty book shoved under one leg, the sprawling spiderplant, the frankly ridiculous pile of unwashed dishes, the sticky note on the fridge proclaiming that they were out of flour and pasta , and says, "--and no offense, this isn't exactly, er. What we'd imagined you'd be living like. Why the shitty flatshare? Decided to strike out on your own, have you?"
Lockie sighs, and immediately looks much more exhausted. Aziraphale realises, now, that there are quite a few rings under his eyes.
"Kinda," he says, quietly, "I booked it away from home as soon as I could, and I guess I chose england because I already had citizenship? And also because I missed it, of course. Ended up in Soho because I found an old friend of mine and I crashed on her couch for, like, a year before I could afford to move out into my own place with these assholes."
"Why," he asks, gently, "did you feel the need to leave home--as fast as you could?"
"Uh," Lockie says, and looks away from him and into his mug of tea, "lots of things, I guess. Dad wanted me to do something political and I wanted to do environmental science, and also I wasn't--"
He stops, and swallows, looking miserable.
"It's alright, dear," he says, "You don't have to tell us if you don't want to."
Lockie sighs, "No, I-- I want to. Dad figured out I was into dudes real quick and he was really bad about that for a long time and it wasn't great but one Halloween I went to a party all dressed up--god, that was such a stupid move, but I just wanted to feel-- nice and not this macho man-dude son he wanted me to be--and they both flipped out really bad , so I decided I'd run."
Silence. Aziraphale very carefully does not get angry, and he can sense Crowley attempting very hard to do the same. He is, after all, the Kindly Brother Francis, and Kindly Brother Francis does not manifest wings and go smite people with a flaming sword.
"So, uh, yeah," he says, into his cold tea, "that's why. It's cool, though, I'm saving up to pay for uni and they've straight-up disowned me now---dad called last night and I guess that's that."
Aziraphale puts down his mug, and pushes away from the table.
The rest of that is muffled by Aziraphale, because he has taken Lockie by the shoulders and buried him in a hug.
"I'm so, so sorry," he says, quietly, as Lockie goes still and then melts into it, "You deserve so much better, my darling child."
"I knew your parents were rotten," says Crowley, incredulously, "but... hnnnngk ." He makes an inarticulate noise of rage, and frustration.
"B-big mood," Lockie says, into Aziraphale's waistcoat. His shoulders are trembling, and his words come out muffled and shaky.
Aziraphale strokes his back, and murmurs, "If it's any consolation, I'm very proud of you. You're so very brave, for daring to come out here and try to live on your own. Braver, even, to do it as yourself."
"Me, too," says Crowley, gravely, "You've turned out great, little hellspawn."
Lockie giggles onto the waistcoat, which is quite damp now. He pulls away and wipes at his face, smiling. "Thank you both," he says, "for being there for me when I was a kid. I know that was part of your galaxy-brain anti-apocalypse plan, but like. You didn't have to do the kissing my scratches better or the reading me bedtime stories and listening to me talk about Sailor Moon for three hours straight part. But you did."
"But we did," Crowley agrees.
"Because we love you," Aziraphale says, warmly.
Lockie beams at them. "I love you too, Brother Francis, Nanny Ash," he says.
The three of them sit, for a moment, and the universe seems a little bit more Right, somehow. The screaming, many-eyed thing that serves as Aziraphale's hindbrain is considering adding something Else to the HOME category.
Not yet, he tells it, primly, give it a week.
"Now," says Crowley, because he has had quite enough of this emotional vulnerability business for the next century or so, "tell me about your plants. And your routine , don't think I missed that part."
warbaby: its cool!! everything is cool and nanny says he's gonna order takeout!!
warbaby: he was gonna take me out to the ritz but i told him it was my turn to cook
work of art: the rITZ????
warbaby: also why have u n omar locked yourself in the bedroom it's ok to come out????
discount waluigi: idk man I'm Stressed and also that dude had a FLAMING SWORD i need a nap
warbaby: its ok I made him put it in the umbrella stand!!!!! also i made u lavender uwu
dycicle: the umbrella stand
work of art: LOCKIE THIS PLACE IS FLAMMABLE
warbaby: they're magic, guys
dycicle: so theyre demons? is that what's going on, u summoned a demon and it happened to b the one that raised u,
warbaby: yeah except Francis is an angel and his name is aziraphale n also a. z. fell
dycicle: i have met that man and lemme tell u there's nothing angelic about his fucking business practices
dycicle: tell him he's a bitch and i Will defeat his opening hours
discount waluigi: heidi what part of FLAMING SWORD did u not UNDERSTAND
Lockie, who is introducing Crowley to his fledgeling windowsill herb garden, checks his phone again and says, "---oh, Francis? My friend Heidi says you're a bitch?"
Aziraphale blinks, nonplussed. "Pardon?"
"A lot of my friends think you're a cryptid," he tells him, very seriously, "And also they hate your business hours."
"That's rather the point," says Crowley, grinning toothily.
Lockie sniggers, and turns back to Crowley. He is, Crowley notes, still a little spindly, as though at twenty-five, he's still figuring out what to do with all of the excess limb he has. This is an observation that many people have made about Crowley himself. He, however, has the excuse that he's a snake who later became person-shaped. Lockie does not.
"I've been trying to keep this batch alive, but honestly, the rosemary's being incredibly bitchy and I have no idea how to get it to listen to me," he's saying.
"I've found that creative threats often help," offers Crowley, helpfully, "And also making them watched their failed comrades die. Always a winner, that."
"Crowley, that's hardly good gardening advice," says Aziraphale, from where he's miracling the sofa back into place. If it is suddenly less dingy and torn-up and patched, then that's hardly his fault. These things happen, he supposes.
The floor is also less bloody by the time he's done. And less dusty.
"I do the yelling," Lockie says, flushing, "but I feel really bad for hurting their feelings and then I kinda just...say sorry?"
Crowley blinks at him. There is a great deal of emotion in his chest.
"Of course you do," he mutters.
"This one's Camille, by the way, and I'm honestly surprised I haven't killed her yet," Lockie goes on, "but I have hope."
Here's what's going to happen, in case you were wondering, which I'm sure you are. This is, after all, something none of the parties involved expected, least of all you. But I can tell you, it was going to happen anyway.
I rarely plan everything out, whatever anyone else might say. The universe is too vast for me to manipulate on such a minute level anymore.
But this? This sunlit afternoon in a cramped living room being surreptitiously cleaned out by an angel, while the boy that Wasn't the Antichrist shows a demon the spotting on his plant's leaves? This was always going to happen. I wasn't sure about the specifics, though, that was all them.
So. Here's what's going to happen, not because I planned it out, but because I know these particular creations very well:
Lockie Dowling is going to show the demon Crowley every single one of his plants, and tell him their names, and accidentally refer to some of them as Sister or Brother or Sibling of Indeterminate Gender ("thanks, Francis"). The Principality Aziraphale is going to fix the mould in the wallpaper, and the termite problem in the second bedroom. And make it so the toilets will flush.
Omar will drink his tea and take a nap. He will, while shuffling out for aforementioned tea, find that everything in the living room is back in place and feel a little less anxious.
Crowley will order Indian food from a nearby place, because Lockie and Artie insist it's the best thing ever. They leave some for Omar. Aziraphale adores it, and suspects he's found a new favourite place.
Crowley will until Lockie is looking away to tell Camille, on no uncertain terms, that she'd better shape up or there will be consequences.
They will give Lockie several promises that they'll see him soon, we promise, little hellspawn, and leave late into the night. They will also ask him about his Tuesdays.
On Tuesday night, they will go to a queer establishment not too far from the bookshop and watch their lovely little girl dance a frankly stupendous routine with another girl just as tall as her. Afterwards, they will gather her into their arms and tell her how proud they are. They will take her to dinner, and she will demand they tell her more stories.
Lockie Dowling will not stop feeling the sting of parental rejection, but this will make it seem less awful. Aziraphale and Crowley, his Nanny and Francis, will encourage every bizarre little idiosyncrasy he has, even the obsession she will soon have with taxidermy.
Lockie will, at some point, off-handedly mention meeting a strange maggoty man who certainly wasn't an archaeologist in Iran, and how she told him that he smells like poo. Crowley will laugh himself sick and very nearly choke on an eclair.
They will have a fight, eight months down the line, about Lockie's hypothetical university fees. His godparents-- "yes, that's what we are, no, it's not legal, no, you can't change my mind, angel"---want to pay for it, but the idea of it makes Lockie chafe and get incredibly upset for reasons they can't articulate.
The compromise that the three of them decide on is that their Godfathers will pay for the therapy Lockie very much should have, and help them get a better job. If the job offer that will come later than night is conveniently timed and very well-paid, there's nothing anyone can do about it, is there?
They cannot convince her to move out of the apartment, though. She will, however, find that the landlord keeps forgetting to take their rent. She will almost be exasperated, but it's through the bubbling joy of being loved.
On a completely unrelated note, around a year down the line (read: long enough not to make Lockie suspicious) Thaddeus Dowling will cross paths with a particularly plucky journalist who will go on and reveal years worth of corruption and put him behind bars for a good while. This will make Lockie feel strange and conflicted, and not at all suspicious.
Aziraphale and Crowley will be very smug, and will convince themselves that it is for the greater good and not because they were very, very angry.
Here's what will happen:
Lockie Dowling will know that they are loved. Which, they've always known, to be honest. It's just that now, Crowley and Aziraphale know it too, and know to show it.
Everything else will come as it will.
For now, they are all still where we left them.
"So, Aziraphale," says Lockie, mouth unsure around the new name, "did you actually wear fake teeth for the whole ten years?"
They'll be fine, I promise