If one were to believe that the universe isn't just one single instance of existence created by God according to the ineffable plan, but rather a collection of several universes—a multiverse, if you will—one might believe that each of the other universes contains something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike any other.
This is incorrect.
There is only one universe, and in this universe, Aziraphale, former Principality, once Angel of the Eastern Gate, still of celestial stock but no longer on Heaven's payroll, does not own a smartphone. Or any kind of mobile phone. Or any phone that isn't a very old—some would say "vintage"—rotary landline telephone.
One might believe there is a universe where this isn't the case. One might believe there is a universe where Crowley gifted him the latest iPhone, and he didn't politely accept it only to leave it on a shelf in the backroom, still in its box, next to an older model of Kindle, also still in its box.
This is also incorrect.
To be clear, none of these potential universes exist. But that one extra, extra doesn't exist. Aziraphale does not own a smartphone. There definitely doesn't exist a world where he gleefully posts pictures of his brunch on Instagram and argues with trolls on Facebook.
Anyway let's visit it.
Aziraphale knows what a smartphone is.
He's behind the times, sure. He's been wearing the same coat for 180 years. He calls any music newer than Mozart "bebop". And his bookshop is a monument to dusty old tomes nobody's cared about in three and a half centuries.* He doesn't even stock Warrior Cats! I mean come on.
*He would smite me for saying so, but it's true.
He does know what a smartphone is, though, because it's 2019, and even the most technophobic angels have been exposed to them in some way, especially if their demon boyfriend is just constantly taking selfies and saying things like "I wish I could send you this one, angel..." while artfully draped across a headstone at the cemetery, holding a unicorn frappuccino.
He is firmly in the belief that telephones serve a purpose, and that purpose is to ring someone up and have a conversation. That is what his landline does. So he does not need a smartphone.
He would like to see Crowley's selfies sometimes, though.
One day, a little while after the world was supposed to end but then didn't, but not long enough for it to not be painfully fresh in their memories, the two were having a picnic. Splayed out on a blanket, under a sky that was sort of trying to become sunny, except it was London, so it didn't, tipsy with wine and each other's presence, fingers entwined and foreheads touching, they were just as content as it was possible for two celestial defectors to be.
With his free hand, Crowley fished his phone out of his coat pocket.
"Angel!" he said smooshing their cheeks together. "Selfie!"
Aziraphale looked up to see a screen trained on them. Squared within it were his blushing face and Crowley's goofy grin. He smiled, eyes fixed on the image of Crowley. Crowley hit the shutter and then pulled his hand down.
"Just to have this moment saved," said Crowley. He started to fiddle with the settings on whatever image editing program he was using. Aziraphale watched intently as his fingers tapped various icons.
"I'd rather like to have this moment saved too," said Aziraphale, quietly.
And that is how we ended up at present, in the bookshop, with Aziraphale unboxing a brand new iPhone.
"You shouldn't have!" he says, and in one of the nonexistant parallel universes, he would have meant that literally. He doesn't.
"It's a new world!" says Crowley, unable to hide the pride in his voice. "You'd better join it! Get just a little bit up to speed."
"I should say, your idea of 'speed' can at times be incompatible with mine," says Aziraphale, fondly. Crowley makes a face.
"This is the bare minimum, angel."
Aziraphale laughs in that adorable way he always does when Crowley does something nice for him, and pulls the phone out of the packaging.
"Er..." he says, turning it over in his hands. "So how does this..."
"Here," says Crowley, indicating the power button. "Turn this on, and then it will ask you to set a few things..."
Crowley walks him through the process, which all things considered, goes pretty smoothly; Aziraphale may be slow to adopt new tech, but he's not stupid.*
*Well, sometimes he is, but in domains such as "raising the wrong child for 11 years", and not so much "setting the clock on a smartphone".
When account setup asks for an email address, Aziraphale types one in without hesitation. Crowley sputters.
"You have an email?" he manages to get out, incredulously.
"Since the 80s", says Aziraphale without missing a beat.
Crowley steps back and lets Aziraphale handle the rest of the setup. He has things to consider now.
A few moments later Aziraphale is holding up the phone, staring at the rows of icons.
"What now?" he says.
"You can do anything you want with it," says Crowley. Then, as if sharing a private joke with himself, "There's an app for that."
Aziraphale stops, looks sideways at Crowley, slowly tilts his head.
"What do you use your phone for?" he asks, frowning. Then he brightens up, his face opening up with a big grin. "Of course! Selfies! You invented them, after all."
"Took credit for them," says Crowley. "Humans, fountain of vanity, that lot. But," he reaches somewhere and retrieves a strange, elongated item. "I did come up with these."
Aziraphale's frown returns with a vengeance.
"Some sort of torture device?"
"Close enough. Here," says Crowley, reaching for Aziraphale's phone. "I'll show you."
He attaches the phone to the end of the object and extends it out so that it is suspended roughly thirty inches away. The camera app is already open; he throws an arm around Aziraphale's shoulder.
"Press the button when you're ready," he says, handing over the stick.
"Am I supposed to be impressed?" Aziraphale asks, but he can't help but smile.
He clicks the button and the shutter goes off. He brings the phone back down, pops it off the cradle, and inspects the end result. It's a little blurry, a little off-center, just a bit at an angle, but just like the other day in the park, the two look positively radiant.
"Nifty," he says with a gentle sigh.
Aziraphale stares at the photo for so long, Crowley starts to wonder if he's discorporated off the mortal plane. Then he starts to poke at the screen, exiting the photos app, and exploring the settings.
"Need any help, angel?" asks Crowley, but Aziraphale is so absorbed in his task all he gets is an incomprehensible mumble in response. He decides, then, that it's time to get comfortable, and lays across Aziraphale's lap, just as they have been doing so frequently after the not-actually-the-end-of-the-world.*
*Usually, Crowley naps while Aziraphale reads a book. It's not a book, this time, but close enough.
Crowley is close to dozing off in the soft warmth of Aziraphale's belly when he is startled awake by a cheerful chirp and a shift in weight. Aziraphale clicks his tongue approvingly.
"There," he says, turning the screen so Crowley can see it. He has set the photo they just took as the phone background.
"Nice," Crowley says, trying not to betray the fact that his heart has stopped with OVERWHELMING FONDNESS which Aziraphale can no doubt sense, but he has standards to maintain, satan bless, even if he is strictly speaking no longer bound to fulfilling any hellish duties.
His already stopped heart goes into ventricular fibrillation when Aziraphale then tenderly places a hand on his head, extending his fingers into his curls*, brushing them against his scalp.
*Surviving the apocalypse called for a change in hairstyle.
"Now, dear," says Aziraphale, his thumb doing something magnificent to Crowley's right temple. "What sort of 'applications' do you like?"
Chapter 2: Candid
Aziraphale gets acquainted with Instagram, and Crowley has feelings about it.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
It has been three weeks since Aziraphale obtained an iPhone.
Things haven't changed too drastically. Aziraphale still spends most of his time reading and "managing" the bookshop. He hasn't had much else to worry about now that Heaven is no longer assigning him blessings, so he has resumed his comfortable routine of lunch dates with Crowley. That much hasn't changed.
Except for one small detail.
The two are at the Ritz*, making conversation over wine, waiting for their appetizers to arrive. Aziraphale places a hand on Crowley's, something he never would have dared Before, but which now comes as naturally as breathing.**
*Often, when Aziraphale wanted to go out to lunch, he would ring Crowley up and Crowley, ever dutifully, would pick up the phone, and they would verbally discuss where to go. This time, Crowley received, for the first time ever, a text from Aziraphale. It read as such:
11 August 2019
Soho, West End, London, United Kingdom
My Dear Crowley,
How have you been doing? I hope you and your plants are well. Today I obtained a beautiful first edition of The Canterbury Tales. Did you know only twelve copies are known to exist? Well it seems I have stumbled upon a 13th. How lucky! It was an unbelievable process to obtain it. I can tell you all about it over lunch. How about we celebrate at the Ritz? Answer me quickly, and I will meet you there in one hour.
Crowley responded with the following:
**Naturally for humans, that is. Breathing for angels and demons requires a fair bit of conscious effort.
It’s a small gesture that says so much; a gesture that shows there are no more barriers between them, that they have truly joined each other's side, and that their easy comfort can finally be expressed without fear of repercussion.
Then the food arrives.
Aziraphale coos with delight at the dish, arranged in a neat little pile in the center of the plate, not quite symmetrical, but deliberately so, encircled by a painterly dash of sauce. This part isn't new. What is new is that rather than immediately launching into unangelic indulgence, he pulls out his phone and opens an app.
“This one is for the Instant Gram,” he says with a joyful giggle.
Crowley watches him as he spends four and a half minutes painstakingly getting the exact right angle and lighting, taking a picture, discarding it, taking another, tutting in disapproval. Finally, he seems satisfied, and then spends another two and a quarter minutes fiddling with the filter settings.
Part of Crowley feels some sort of accomplishment, the kind of satisfaction he gets from a successful temptation.
The other part is deeply annoyed that his boyfriend is now a foodie blogger.
Perhaps it is overly generous to call him that. He only has one permanent follower, Crowley. He does not yet understand the purpose of a hashtag*. Most of his other followers are either spambots or people attempting to self-promote, who then unfollow once they realize he won't reciprocate.
*This may be because Crowley attempted to explain them as being “a way to classify posts so other people can find them”. Aziraphale interpreted this to mean the most efficient way to tag posts would be to use the Dewey Decimal System.
But, at every single meal for the past week, he has taken a picture to post on his page.
“Angel, I know that technically it's impossible for you to be hungry, but your food is getting cold,” says Crowley. His plate is clean. It's a snake thing.
“Oh, right,” says Aziraphale, setting the phone aside, picking up his fork.
His face lights up with utter bliss once he takes the first bite, and finally, things are sort of back to normal.
“Anyway, as I was saying,” he says three bites later. “The Bulgarian and the Russian later called me, and I said, there's no way it's a real copy, but they insisted I come out and…”
He continues to talk, telling a dreadfully convoluted story involving a secret rare book auction, leaning in ever so closely, and for a while, Crowley is just happy to have his attention.
They decide to take the long way home, going for a stroll along the riverside. Crowley will gladly drive Aziraphale anywhere he wants to go, but there’s something about walking that is slow, and pleasant, and close, and he can't deny that he enjoys having the angel’s arm linked around his own.
And today is a nice day. It rained in the morning, but then the clouds parted, and there has been a faint golden glow emanating from them since. A human might describe it as “heavenly”. Crowley and Aziraphale, who know better, don’t.
They finally, finally start to loop back around and turn towards the direction where Crowley left the Bentley.* By now, the golden glow is dipping into tones of orange and red, like a loaded paintbrush leaving traces of watercolor against wet paper. The sun has started to set.
*Some would say “illegally parked”, but in Crowley’s world, parking tickets are a thing that happens to other people.
Crowley, long-legged and always a little too eager to march on ahead, is used to having to wait for Aziraphale to catch up, but now that they walk arm in arm, it’s more obvious when Aziraphale slows down. Crowley is about to turn around and ask him what’s wrong when his train of thought is interrupted by a buzz from his jacket pocket.
He takes out his phone with his free arm, and there, on the lock screen, is a notification. From Instagram. He unlocks the phone and sees that he has been tagged in a photo—by Aziraphale.
The photo, obviously taken seconds ago. Crowley's profile silhouetted against the crimson sky, gold and red melding in his hair, an outline of light contouring his face, contrasting with the dusky blue-grey of the shadowed portion. The way the sunset glows behind him almost looks like a halo. Almost.
There’s no caption. Just a tag:
Crowley turns, and there is Aziraphale, phone in hand, beaming at him. He is bathed in light, vibrant.
But no, it is not the sunset that does it, Crowley realizes. It is just Aziraphale.
“Sneaky,” he says finally, and gives his arm a playful tug. Aziraphale shrugs casually, and pockets the phone.
Crowley is scrolling through his timeline.
No, not his timeline. Aziraphale's. In all its painstakingly curated, useless Dewey Decimal hashtagged glory. Mostly pictures of food, as expected. Also pictures of books, very #aesthetic (not that Aziraphale knew what that meant).
And now, pictures of Crowley.
They're almost jarringly out of place with the rest of the page. Don't misunderstand, dear reader, Crowley loves the attention, but these pictures are almost always taken when he's not looking, and while they are artistically pleasant—Aziraphale really took a shine to this whole photography thing—their spontaneity is all the more obvious when juxtaposed with the rigid precision of the foodie pics.
If Aziraphale has any opinion on this matter, he has yet to voice it.
But to Crowley, whose own page is best described as the kind of thing a Hot Topic teen circa 2005 would go gaga for, these pictures betray a side of him he never even sees, let alone posts.
His heart goes all aflutter looking at them.
If someone had asked him, before the whole time-to-start-the-great-war-oops-nevermind-everyone-go-home-now thing, what having a proper, open relationship with Aziraphale would be like, he never in a million years would have said “holding back tears over an Instagram feed”,* and yet here we are.
*He wouldn’t have imagined begging Aziraphale to run away with him to Alpha Centauri either, but it was a desperate time for him.
He’s startled back to the outside world by Aziraphale placing a drink on the side table next to him and giving him a peck on the cheek.
“Oh dear. Are you cyberstalking me?” he asks, glancing at the evidence in Crowley’s hands.
Crowley’s mind goes blank.
“Cyber— Cyberstalking??” he gasps, finally. ‘Where did you even—”
Before Crowley can even finish the sentence, Aziraphale is sitting next to him, drink in one hand, the other arm wrapped around his shoulders.
“I don’t mind if it’s you, though.” He rests his chin on Crowley’s shoulder, and Crowley softens, letting them both get comfortable. “I can see why you like this application. It’s like having a little record of all the things I love the most.”
Crowley knows this, of course. He knows that Aziraphale loves him, and has loved him for a long time. But the part of him that desperately yearns to be loved hasn’t yet gone away. Six thousand years will do that to a demon, or at least, it will do that to a demon as soft as Crowley.
Right now, he can’t believe how lucky he is to be the subject of such candid declarations of love.
755 is the Dewey Decimal classification for paintings of religious subjects. Is it the most appropriate tag? Who knows, but let's be real, Aziraphale wouldn't know either. He runs a bookshop, not a library, and his personal classification system is "I do what I want".
The Canterbury Tales was the first book to be printed in England and indeed, only twelve copies of the first edition are known to exist. I wrote it down as a placeholder while I thought of something more plausible but the thought of Aziraphale having a ridiculous offscreen adventure with a 13th copy was too good to pass up. But that, my dear readers, is A Story For Another Time.
Chapter 3: Googling yourself
Aziraphale submits to the mortifying ordeal of being known. And Google. Which is probably the same thing.
This chapter contains a few outside references. You do not need to read them to understand this chapter, but I’m giving credit where it’s due:
1. To my first Good Omens fic, Adventures in Attempting to Purchase a Book From That Weird Old Soho Bookshop, A. Z. Fell & Co.
2. To arkhamcycle’s fic based on mine above, a defictionalization of So You Need To Get Into A.Z. Fell & Co.; Now What? (A Guide For Unfortunate Bookworms)
3. A brief quote from Discredit - Excerpts from A. Z. Fell & Co.’s Yelp Page by itsclydebitches; I ended up not using a whole lot, but still thanks for the permission to quote you!
4. To the New Year’s resolutions lists, as written by Neil and Terry in 2005
....Man that's a lot of long titles. ANYWAY. This chapter is also pretty long. I hope you enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The next time they meet up—a sushi date at Aziraphale's favourite Japanese bar—Crowley finds Aziraphale looking extremely concerned.
He knows there is a problem, not because Aziraphale isn't eating (he is, with the same gusto as always) but because he hasn't stopped to take a picture yet.
“Crowley,” Aziraphale starts, in between rolls, and hesitates, trying to find the best words to describe what just happened.
Crowley tries not to show too much anxiety, but his inability to hold on to his chopsticks kind of gives it away. He lets Aziraphale continue on his own.
“I’ve discovered something today,” he says, in a way he hopes sounds casually exciting, like the time he discovered fine art restoration videos on Youtube*, and instead just sounds like he's fighting off a bout of heartburn.
*Many of them are labeled “ASMR”, but he hasn't figured out what that means yet.
Crowley raises his eyebrows at him. “What sort of something?”
Aziraphale’s fake smile falters to the point that his attempt to seem casual goes from charmingly disjointed to just plain pathetic. He shoves another piece of sushi in his mouth, mostly as an excuse to not have to say anything right away.
“...So the other day, you told me about ‘search engines’,” he says, after having swallowed and then taken a deep breath. “I thought it was a clever tool, and I have been experimenting with different searches since.”
Crowley feels the blood drain out of his face. He can tell where this is going.
“And I thought to myself, well wouldn't it be interesting to see if there was anyone talking about—”
“Angel,” Crowley groans, bringing a hand up to his face, knowing nothing he says now could possibly stop that sentence from reaching its conclusion.
“—Me. Or my bookshop. Well, we sort of have the same name, at least in human terms—”
“Aziraphale!” Crowley exclaims, stopping just short of a full-on shout. Aziraphale goes quiet, along with half the sushi bar.
“You Googled yourself.”
“That’s not a verb.”
“It is now, angel, again with the keeping up to speed thing!” Crowley exhales. This is not what he wants to argue about. “So you used a search engine to perform a search on yourself. Okay. What did you find?”
Aziraphale's distress overboils to the point he starts to lose his words again. He wrings his hands in frustration and then dives for his phone.
“Let me just show you,” he says, typing (excruciatingly slowly) into the search bar, and once he finds what he’s looking for, he slides it over to Crowley.
Aziraphale watches Crowley intently as the latter reads the webpage. His reaction is strange; he frowns, but in a way that indicates familiarity, not surprise. Then again, Aziraphale has a good idea as to why.
“Mm,” says Crowley, unhelpfully.
“This is a huge problem!” Aziraphale waves his hands around emphatically, though Crowley remains undisturbed.
On the screen, a colour-coded spreadsheet is open, along with what appears to be a how-to guide of some sort. It is entitled: “So You Need To Get Into A. Z. Fell & Co.; Now What? A Guide For Unfortunate Bookworms”.
“So?” asks Crowley.
“This means I’m getting customers! Look!” He gestures broadly at the phone, and then picks it back up. “And that’s not even the worst part. You see,” he navigates to a different page. “There’s also… whatever this is.”
And on the screen:
The Rare Antique Forums
=>Subforum: Books and Publications
==>Regional Subforum: London
[New Topic] Secret 13th copy of Canterbury Tales at A. Z. Fell!?
I know it is not forum etiquette to post things of this magnitude without solid proof, but, as the foremost expert on A. Z. Fell’s business, I have reason to believe this one is legitimate. Rumour has it that he has acquired a first edition of The Canterbury Tales—and it is not one of the known twelve surviving copies. Now, don't ask me how I know this, but as we all know that particular bookshop is a liminal space where seemingly anything and everything can happen, so if I were to believe such a wild tale out of anywhere, it would be there.
You can find more details here, but be warned it is mostly speculation: [link]
Oh come on. Seriously? You of all people believing such a crazy story?
You were the one with the cursed book.
Let's NOT bring that topic up again.
I’m with C on this one. There's been no proof at all, just an unsubstantiated rumour. I know you get excited about things like this, pageknight, but I kind of expected better from you.
i cant speak for the canterbury tales rumour but notably his shop hours have gone completely off the chart these last couple of weeks. and i should know, im the one updating the chart
perhaps he really is up to something
You know what this could mean
Don’t say Satanism. You’ll get the thread locked again.
I was actually going to say i think he has a new boyfriend, you know, the one with the fancy bentley the automobile subforum is always drooling over
It's a damn good car, that's for sure. It's been parked outside his shop pretty much every day now.
oh. so it is. i thought everyone already knew that though
The thread continues like this for a while.
“I really don't see the problem here,” says Crowley. “You're a bookseller. You're supposed to have customers. What about that New Year's resolution you made?”
Aziraphale glares at him. A truly reproachful glare, not a playful one like when Crowley shifts into serpent form and hides amongst the stacks for unsuspecting humans to find. Crowley’s anxiety spikes again.
“This,” says Aziraphale, jabbing a finger at the screen. “Right here.”
Scrolling down a bit more…
He's taken, inky, get over it. And that story about The Canterbury Tales is completely wrong, but not for the reasons you think.
Crowley, who has long since given up on the chopsticks, chooses that moment to take an unnecessarily drawn out drink of sake.
“What are you doing posting on an antique book forum?” Aziraphale prods.
“An antiques forum,” Crowley emphasizes, “that just happens to have a book subforum.”
“Answer the question!”
“What are you so upset over, anyway? It's not like I’m doing anything criminal. Demonic, maybe, you know I live for starting drama on the internet, but…”
“Crowley,” Aziraphale insists, leaning forward, and for a second, Crowley is reminded that although he would never actually do so, he does have the ability to smite him. “You don’t even read! Why are you posting about me? About us?”
“Ah,” says Crowley, his demeanour entirely too calm for someone who just a second ago looked ready to discorporate. “I think I see what the problem is now.”
“Finally,” says Aziraphale, retreating. He hadn’t been angry, not really. But he hadn’t been joking, either.
“You’ve only just realized other people are aware of your existence and react accordingly.”
Aziraphale blinks several times. He can feel some sort of large emotion surge inside him, and immediately shoves it back down, as it is indelicate. He may have abandoned Heaven, but he certainly hasn’t abandoned his morals.
“Preposterous,” he says, measuredly. “Six millennia on Earth and you don’t think I know how living in a society works?”
Crowley considers knocking back another drink, then thinks better of it. This conversation has taken a turn for the aggressive that neither of them wanted, and clearly, neither of them want it to stay that way either. Not that Crowley is surprised; he knows all too well the dispersed, low-grade evil inherent in “Googling yourself”*, having fallen victim to it too many times himself.
*He never did get that award for it. And now, he never will.
“My dear angel, society as a whole is rather different from the individual people who comprise it, and you’ve just come face to face with material evidence that those individuals do see you, and remember you, and think about you, and talk about you.”
Aziraphale shakes his head.
“I’ve had friends before, human friends. I’m not a shut-in.”
“And these are perfect strangers, stumbling around Soho, remembering your bookshop.” There’s more to that thought, Crowley could develop it, but for now, this is enough.
Aziraphale considers this, bites his lip. It’s not that Crowley is wrong, per se, but, there’s still one big problem here…
“And you,” he says simply.
Crowley tilts his head.
“Please explain,” says Aziraphale. “I’m not angry, I just don’t understand.”
After a brief, uncomfortable beat, Crowley stretches out a hand and places it over Aziraphale’s fidgeting pair. They open, allowing him to thread their fingers together.
“You’re so funny to me, angel,” he says. “So selfless, yet so self-centered.”
“I can't say this explanation is making me feel any better.”
“Haven't you ever wondered why, after exhaustively pursuing a book you wanted, it would mysteriously turn up at auction or at a book fair, as if by miraculous design?”
Crowley grins, and a jolt of realization strikes Aziraphale like a fork against glass.
“I may have tempted certain individuals into parting with their material possessions.”
“Crowley!” Aziraphale laughs for the first time that evening. “That was hardly part of your job description!”
“Neither was dating an angel.”
Aziraphale's laughter is interrupted by a sudden thought.
“Wait a moment. That’s only half an answer. That explains what you're doing on the forum. But why are you posting about me?” This time, when he asks the question, he sounds genuinely curious, and not so much distressed.
“Why do you post candids of me on Instagram?”
Outside the sushi bar is a torrential downpour, and while neither have brought an umbrella, Crowley has one in hands, a long, black, pointy affair that looks like it could win in a swordfight. They wait for the wind to let up a little, crammed up against the wall under the overhang, trying to avoid getting soaked by the nearly solid sheets of rainfall.
The sheets start to break up, the wind slowly abates, and so Crowley opens the umbrella and carefully steps out onto the pavement. It’s a large umbrella, but the rain is coming down hard enough that when Aziraphale joins him underneath it, he uses his free arm to wrap around his shoulders and pull him in as close as possible.
It’s not a far walk to the Bentley, as Crowley always parks in the most convenient spots. But it feels like an eternity to get there, between gusts pushing them sideways and the slow shuffle of two-walking-as-one. When they reach the car, Crowley opens the passenger-side door, and Aziraphale clambers in ungracefully. Crowley does the same on the driver’s side, sending the umbrella back to whence it came.
Crowley doesn’t start the engine. Instead the two of them sit there, watching the water cascade over the windscreen.
“I’m sorry,” says Aziraphale, quietly.
“What?” Crowley, who has been considering the relative risks of driving in a storm now that discorporating is more than just an inconvenience, snaps to look at him.
“I shouldn’t have been so short with you earlier,” says Aziraphale. “And you were right, about not knowing how to handle people talking about me like that. I’m sorry.”
“You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“It’s just that, for the longest time, I only ever cared about what Heaven thought of me,” Aziraphale continues as if Crowley hasn’t said anything. “And then, I started caring about what you thought of me. And then later still, I only cared about what you thought of me. I guess I just never realized what that meant…”
He’s smiling a distant smile, like someone remembering a childhood summer.
“...When I—er, what was that word you used? ‘Googled’ myself. I found a lot of people saying nice things, and a lot of people saying mean things. Some of it was pretty funny though. I mean, Satanism? Really?” He laughs. “Someone even said, ‘there is a special place in hell for shop owners who only take cash’. Is that true?”
Crowley rolls his eyes, chuckling. “No, but there is one for shop owners who take Bitcoin.”
Aziraphale opens his mouth to ask what that is, then shakes his head. He probably doesn’t want to know. But that’s just it, isn’t it?
“Anyway,” he steers back to the main subject. “I was surprised to see you there talking about me too, that’s all.”
Crowley sighs deeply.
“I’m sorry too.”
“I invented Googling yourself.”
“You did not!” Aziraphale scoffs.
“I did! And Bitcoin, too. But mostly the Googling yourself thing. That’s a real endless source of misery right there. I’m sorry you had to go through it.”
“It wasn’t that bad.”
“I did it in service of Hell! That’s the definition of bad!”
“Oh, of course, you bad demon, you.”
The rain is still pouring, but at least the street is visible now. Crowley starts the engine.
[New Topic] I believe some introductions are in order!
Good evening ladies and gentlemen and variations thereupon,
I am A. Z. Fell, bookseller and owner of A. Z. Fell and Co., Antiquarian and Purveyor of Books to the Gentry, having recently come into possession of a smart phone. You can follow me on the Instant Gram.
This is truly a remarkable forum you have here. Your passion and love for rare and unusual books is palpable, and I can see you are knowledgeable and dedicated. However, I can’t help but notice some of you have taken it upon yourselves to, and I quote, “create the perfect formula for gaming the A.Z. Fell system''. This isn’t very sporting, now is it? If you would all just be so kind as to take down this unfair exploitation of my services, I would be very grateful.
By the way, a certain user by name of DangerNoodle666, troublemaker as he is, has been correct about many things, including the Canterbury Tales rumour. You can trust him about that, because he is my boyfriend.
A. Z. Fell (& Co.)
*this post has been edited by moderator WriterOfUnwrittenTales_86.
Moderator comment: Watch your language.
So the question here is, do all of these cited fics take place in the same universe now? Well, as we learned in chapter 1, Alternate Universes do not exist. Therefore the answer is… well, it's actually very simple really, if you think about it… uh… let’s just say it's ineffable.
Also, here’s some fine art restoration videos. You’re welcome.