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Poker Face

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Nipping over to the continent used to be such an easy feat. He’d just miracle himself wherever he wanted to go, and presto! there he was. Now, though, he had to double and triple check a modern map to make sure he didn’t accidentally wind up on top of a building he hadn’t realised had been built since the last time he’d visited.

The rumours of a 1582 first edition of the first Roman Catholic New Testament—John Eadie’s personal copy, no less!—had turned out to be true, much to Aziraphale’s pleasure. He handed over whatever the seller asked, ignoring the way their eyes fell when they realised they could have asked for more and he would have paid it. He was focused on his latest acquisition, running his fingers reverently over the blind-tooled spine and raised bands, tilting the book back and forth so the gilt edges caught the lamplight. The marbled endpapers, in particular, were a beautiful sight.

He was still marvelling over his good fortune when he miracled himself back to SoHo, only to realise with a start as he stood in his little office nook that the lights were on in the bookshop.


He wiggled the handle to the front door; locked. He couldn’t sense anyone’s presence in the book shop itself, so he took a wary step up the stairs.

“You’re back!”

Crowley’s voice wafted down from upstairs and Aziraphale breathed a sigh of relief.

“This is unusual,” he said by way of greeting, skipping the stairs entirely and just transporting himself to the bedroom. “Do you often come over when I’m not home?”

“I just had to set up,” Crowley answered, though it wasn’t really an answer. “For our game.”

"What ga—oh. Oh, no. Crowley. No.”

Crowley was seated at a round, mahogany poker table Aziraphale could only assume he conjured up, a brand new deck of cards sitting in the middle. A decanter of whiskey and some tumblers were neatly arranged on a near by drinks cart, next to various sliced meats and cheeses on an elaborately arranged charcuterie platter.

The demon bared his teeth in a serpentine grin. “You said, angel. So here we are.”

Aziraphale shook his head emphatically. “We are not playing strip poker! I don’t care what I said when I was drunk.”

“Come on,” Crowley said, still grinning. He leaned back in his sat and pulled off one of his boots. “I’ll give you a head start, see?” Crowley wiggled his big toe, still ensconced in its sock.

His lips tightened into a thin line. “Crowley...”

“Fine, fine,” the demon replied, his voice teasing. “There. Now both boots are off.”

Aziraphale started to walk away. “Get thee behind me, foul tempter,” he muttered.

“Oh sure,” Crowley called after him. “No worries. Would have had you down to  your smalls after a few hands, I’m sure.”

Damn him, Aziraphale thought, though he already was. Temptation incarnate.

“Are you fucking kidding.”

Crowley glared at Aziraphale over his hand, hunkered down in his seat in nothing but his underthings and one sock. He tossed back his third finger of whiskey and slammed the glass back down on the table.

Aziraphale looked at him primly over the rims of his reading glasses, still fully clothed. 

“Come on, my dear,” he said sweetly. “Ante up.”