Aziraphale raised his head from his book as the bell over the shop door jingled merrily. The angel carefully set the book and his glasses on a nearby table, standing up with a small sigh. Today had been blessedly quiet and he’d hoped that it would remain as such- this was only his third customer and it was already mid-afternoon. Still, he knew that if he let whoever had just walked in wander aimlessly, they might feel the urge to buy something; it was best to check on the visitor and see what their mission was before they tried anything rash.
“Hello!” Aziraphale said warmly, rounding the corner of an overstuffed bookshelf to find a boy examining a section of Italian poetry. The boy was in his late teens, with a lanky build just a smidge taller than Aziraphale. He wore dark jeans and a V-neck t-shirt bearing the logo of some pop band the angel would never understand. His hair, a cross between dirty blonde and light, light brown, was cut short, save for the unruly swathe of bangs that fell in front of his bright blue eyes.
“Hey,” the boy replied, pushing his bangs out of the way to get a better look at Aziraphale.
The angel blinked as he was hit with a wave of strange familiarity. A slight crease between his eyes was the only thing that alluded to this; otherwise, he kept himself composed. Aziraphale had seen so many humans over the years, he got the occasional twinge of feeling that he knew someone passing by in the street, but it always turned out to be a double of someone he’d met long ago. This boy, surely, was no different.
“Is there anything in particular you’re looking for, young man?” Aziraphale asked, clasping his hands behind his back.
“No, I just… kinda wandered in to look around, honestly.” The boy laughed and Aziraphale couldn’t stop his smile from widening. The laugh, coupled with the boy’s American accent, triggered something deep within his memory, though he couldn’t quite reach it. “The Yelp reviews of this place are wild; I wanted to see what it’s like for myself.”
“Yelp reviews?” Aziraphale questioned, tilting his head. He’d heard of this before from some of the other customers. From what he gathered, Yelp was a platform where people could post reviews of places they’ve visited. Based on what Aziraphale had been told, his bookshop would be classified as having a “mixed rating.”
“Yeah, people have said all kinds of shi- er, stuff about this shop,” the boy replied, correcting his near-curse as he guiltily met Aziraphale’s gaze. Something told the boy that the shop owner wouldn’t appreciate that sort of language. Remembering a particularly interesting review, the boy’s face lit up. “Is it true there’s a giant snake in here?!”
“Ah, well… sometimes,” Aziraphale admitted, a bemused light in his eyes. “He tends to wander, though; he’s out at the moment.”
The boy’s face shifted into an expression of mingled confusion and curiosity. Aziraphale’s unneeded breath caught in his throat. The strange sensation pulsed in the back of the angel’s mind, the feeling that he definitely knew this boy. He wanted more information on his origins, but it wouldn’t do to push too hard, lest he scare the boy off- Aziraphale had been told on more than one occasion that he could be rather “ruthless” (according to a certain demon, though the phrase made the angel scrunch his nose up in disgust) when it came to gathering information he desperately wanted to know.
“We don’t usually get many visitors from out of the area; are you on holiday?” Aziraphale asked, busying himself with reorganizing a shelf of books that had been shifted out of alphabetical order. There had to be some connection- he’d probably met the boy’s family or long-distant relative on a trip to America many years ago.
“No, I’m going to college here- university, whatever you want to call it,” the boy replied with a shrug. “Well, I mean, I don’t have class today- I’m not skipping or anything.” Again, there was that guilty look, as if the boy was afraid of disappointing the man in front of him- which was odd, since the boy had certainly never met the elusive Mr. Fell before. “I’ve got a day off, so I figured I’d check out Soho. I never really got to just, like… explore England when I was a kid.”
The angel froze mid-task. His slowly turned, focusing on the boy’s face and really looking. Time seemed to fade before his eyes, the boy’s defined features softening into the lanky face of a pre-teen, then melting further into the chubby visage of a child with a smudge of dirt on his cheek from where he’d rubbed his face while planting flowers-
“You okay, Mr. Fell?” the boy asked, noting the slight tremor in Aziraphale’s hands. The angel blinked, quickly composing himself.
“Yes, I-I’m fine, young W-… dear boy.” Aziraphale caught himself as his voice slipped into an accent he hadn’t used for over seven years. He shook his head; there was absolutely no way this could be the same child whose bruises he’d healed with a loving kiss and a touch of divine miracle.
“…Okay.” The boy didn’t sound convinced but decided to let the matter drop. He’d heard that the owner of the bookshop was eccentric and figured that the hyper-focused attention he was receiving was part of the package. Although, the boy had to admit that, just for a second, the man had sounded terribly familiar.
An awkward silence followed, neither of the two knowing how to continue the conversation. Aziraphale’s mind was racing, trying to figure out if this really was the boy from his memory and, if this was true, why in the world he had chosen to visit the bookshop. Aziraphale and Crowley had a discussion many years ago about whether they should try to reconnect with Warlock Dowling and had concluded that they’d already interfered in the boy’s life enough. His personality had seemed fairly balanced when they’d left, save for a tendency to be extremely blunt when speaking his mind. They had no idea what they'd really done to the poor mortal boy’s psyche and decided it best to leave him be and hope that he grew up as normal as he could from his eleventh birthday onward.
So, Crowley and Aziraphale stayed far away from the Dowlings for nearly a decade. They were so strong in their conviction of never going to see Warlock again that they hadn’t even entertained the possibility that the boy might find them.
No, it’s too much of a coincidence, Aziraphale thought, watching the teenager as he started looking through the poetry books in front of him. The angel glanced towards the ceiling, his lips pursed. Unless this is another part of Your ineffable plan…
“Hey, Mr. Fell?” The boy’s questioning tone brought Aziraphale back to Earth instantly. “I know you don’t, like… actually like to sell stuff, so the internet says, but maybe you could help me find a book for my mom’s birthday? I honestly don’t think she’d notice if I bought her a first edition Shakespeare collection or whatever, but… I dunno.” The boy shrugged. “I thought I could try something different and see what she thinks.”
The look in the boy’s eyes is what ultimately convinced the angel that his instinct was true. Aziraphale had seen that look much too often for his liking- it was a look of sad resignation that Warlock's parents, ever-distant and too wrapped up in the political world to raise their own child, didn’t care about him nearly as much as they should. A twinge of ice shot through the angel’s heart. He’d hated seeing that expression on a child’s face, but he utterly despised it now, knowing that things didn’t seem to have changed nearly a decade later.
“Hey, are you sure you’re okay?” the boy asked, seeing Aziraphale’s face slip into a strange expression. “You look-” He was about to say “weird,” but it was at that exact moment that the nagging familiarity that had also been gnawing away at his own mind came to the surface. He saw the face in front of him sporting a shining collection of bad teeth framed within a cloud of fluffy hair, though the mental image was skewed as if he had to look up from a much shorter height than he was now.
But, as with Aziraphale’s own recognition, it was the eyes that ultimately broke through the fog of childhood memories- the eyes currently gazing at Warlock full of more love than anyone should be able to comprehend. Without warning, Warlock felt tears prick at the edges of his vision.
“…Brother Francis?” he choked out in a small voice. Aziraphale smiled, and if Warlock had any remaining doubts about the man's identity, they were blown away like the shadows of night banished by the rising sun.
“Oh, my dear, dear boy,” Aziraphale said warmly, opening his arms, and Warlock fell into the hug without hesitation. They gripped each other tightly, and the angel realized what a fool he’d been for leaving the boy without a word. He and Crowley should have gone back after the apocalypse was thwarted, or at the very least written a letter explaining why they’d left; judging by the way Warlock held onto Aziraphale as if he were a lifeboat in the midst of a stormy sea, the angel realized that the boy must have missed them just as much as they’d missed him.
Aziraphale and Warlock stayed in the embrace for a while longer, and then the boy gently, almost reluctantly, unwrapped his arms and took a step back to give Aziraphale a proper once-over.
“What happened to you?!” Warlock asked, astonishment dripping from every word. Then, suddenly, a fierce frown twisted his face. “And why the hell did you and Nanny leave without saying anything?! Er, sorry, I mean why the heaven- ugh, you get my point!”
Aziraphale smiled again; this was the boy he used to know, attitude and all. Warlock always had a penchant for speaking his mind, a fact that was encouraged wholeheartedly by his Nanny. While Aziraphale didn’t want Warlock to stop expressing his feelings and asking questions either, he had been bothered by the boy’s increasing vocabulary of unsavory expressions, which the angel had tried to remedy by correcting him with more docile phrasing. Apparently, the instinct to do so still was still present.
“Hellooo?” Warlock said, waving a hand in front of Aziraphale’s face. “Brother Francis- Mr. Fell… whoever you are! This is really weird, and I need you to explain a lot of things!”
“Oh, I do apologize, my dear; I get a bit lost in my thoughts, sometimes,” Aziraphale admitted with a guilty chuckle. He hesitated for a second and then gestured towards the back of the shop, where a comfortable couch and coffee table resided. “Yes, we… we really should have a little chat. Please, have a seat and I’ll put on a pot of tea and join you.”
Warlock didn’t move, instead narrowing his eyes. Aziraphale blinked at him.
“…Would you prefer coffee instead?” the angel ventured. Warlock rolled his eyes and crossed his arms in front of him, slouching to the side in a pose uncannily similar to someone else Aziraphale knew.
“You literally just up and left me when I was eleven years old,” the boy explained, a scathing bite to his words that made Aziraphale wince. “According to the internet, you’re some weird cryptid- which I can now confirm, knowing who you really are, because you and Nanny were definitely not normal. How do I know you won’t just-”
And here the boy cut himself off, realizing how vulnerable finishing that sentence would make him seem. He knew that Brother Francis had seen all sides of him, weak ones and all, but that was many years ago. He’d still been a kid then; now he was older and much more practiced at hiding his true emotions, since the only people who’d had time for them disappeared after his eleventh birthday. Just because he’d found his beloved gardener and confidant again through some divine- or hellish, he never knew which to believe- turn of events, it didn’t mean that things would instantly go back to the way they were before.
Warlock didn’t think it was possible for Brother Francis’ expression to soften even more, but apparently it could. Slowly, as if afraid of spooking him, the angel reached out and gently brushed Warlock’s bangs out of his face, tucking them behind his ear before cupping the boy’s cheek in his hand.
“I’m not going to leave you again, dear boy, please believe that,” Aziraphale said, injecting as much truth into his words as he possibly could. “It was a rash decision and your Nanny and I should never have disappeared without a word. I’m just going to flip the Closed sign on the door and put the kettle on, and then we can talk, alright?”
Warlock nodded almost imperceptibly, but Aziraphale saw the gesture. He gave the boy’s cheek a light pinch and winked, earning a cry of embarrassment. With a laugh, the angel disappeared around a bookshelf, moving towards the front door. Rubbing his cheek and pouting, Warlock shuffled to the couch in the back of the shop. He’d forgotten how endearingly annoying his old gardener could be.
Aziraphale flipped the “Open” sign to “Closed” and leaned back against the old wooden door, shutting his eyes. He was overjoyed to see Warlock again, certainly, but he was completely unprepared for this situation. What was he supposed to tell the boy? What excuse could he possibly give for Warlock’s closest companions abandoning him without so much as a “goodbye?”
Aziraphale and Crowley always regretted the way they’d handled that situation, but they had bigger concerns at the time- namely, the impending apocalypse and the fact that Warlock was not the antichrist they thought he was. Aziraphale grimaced, running a stressed hand through his hair; what should they tell Warlock about that? Should they expose him to the supernatural world he’d unintentionally been apart of for the first half of his life?
“…Probably best not to bring that part up,” the angel murmured to himself. He adjusted his waistcoat and steeled himself for the afternoon ahead. He would make Warlock a nice cup of tea, call Crowley to give him a warning on who awaited him back at the bookshop, and then bide his time until the demon showed up and they could have a proper conversation about what to do now that the boy was back in their lives. Yes, that seemed like a perfectly reasonable plan.
So, of course, it was guaranteed that things would not turn out the way Aziraphale hoped. As the angel busied himself in the tiny kitchenette area in the back of the shop, the bell over the front door rang again.
“Angel!” a voice called, and Aziraphale let out a strangled yelp. He rushed out of the back room and was greeted with the sight of Warlock, standing by the couch slack-jawed and staring straight ahead. Trapped at the end of Warlock’s gaze stood Crowley, wearing an eerily similar expression of shock. The two of them gazed at each other questioningly for an agonizing few seconds, before Warlock asked, in a trembling voice:
“N… Nanny Ash?”
“…Ah,” Aziraphale said when Crowley turned his helpless expression upon him. Though the demon’s eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses, Aziraphale knew they were giving him a look of utter confusion. “Crowley, we… we have a very special visitor.”
“Ngk,” the demon replied.
And then, suddenly, Warlock was in Crowley’s arms, holding him tight, and Crowley returned the gesture without a second thought, overwhelmed with a great sense of relief. The boy was shaking, obviously trying very hard not to cry, and the demon instinctively gripped him closer and grinned into his hair.
“Hey, little hellspawn. Good to see you again.”
Thank you for all the love this story continues to receive! It warms my heart to see all the comments, kudos, and bookmarks and to know that you enjoy reading this fic as much as I enjoy writing it!
Aziraphale watched the scene in front of him with a look of adoration so blatant it made Crowley scrunch up his face in disgust and stick out his tongue when he noticed. The demon did not, however, loosen his grip on Warlock in the slightest.
The boy really was crying now- silently, but the tears staining Crowley’s jacket caused the demon to pat Warlock’s back and whisper words of reassurance until he quieted down. Eventually, Warlock stood back and fervently swiped at his eyes with the collar of his t-shirt, trying to clear the emotion from his face. Crowley took this moment of distraction to raise an eyebrow at Aziraphale.
What the hell is going on? Crowley's thoughts rang loud and clear; Aziraphale didn’t need to be a mind-reader to understand what his companion of 6,000 years was wondering.
I’ve got absolutely no idea, the angel’s shake of the head answered.
“Okay… okay, so,” Warlock began, fixing his gaze on Crowley, then on Aziraphale. A frown creased his face and he pursed his lips, putting one hand in his hip and using the other to point an accusatory finger at the angel. “So… you’re Brother Francis, but you’re really Mr. Fell.” He shifted to point at the demon. “And you’re Nanny Ashtoreth, but you’re really…?”
“Er… Crowley. The name’s Crowley,” the demon said. Warlock considered this for a moment, then shrugged.
“Weird name, but okay.”
“Hey, you're one to talk-"
“This is not our main concern!” Aziraphale interjected loudly, taking a few steps forward to grasp Crowley’s arm. The demon looked at him, eyes so wide they could almost be seen over his glasses. “Warlock is here, and we haven’t seen the dear boy in nearly a decade, and I think he would like some things explained.”
“Oh… right.” Crowley grimaced, coming to the same realization as Aziraphale: they hadn’t planned for this situation and therefore had no idea how to handle it.
“I have so much to ask you,” Warlock said, taking this as a cue to continue. Any trace of his previous burst of emotion had been replaced with a look of unbridled excitement. “So, where… I mean, how… God, there’s so much stuff! Um… okay.” The boy took a deep breath and Aziraphale and Crowley spared a glance at each other, wondering what in the world the boy was going to ask. “Okay, first question: are you two a thing?”
“…What?” the pair asked in unison. Warlock gestured to Aziraphale’s firm grip on Crowley’s forearm.
“Like, are you two together? There were always rumors- still are, actually, since some of the housekeepers remember you. But… is it true?”
Aziraphale merely blinked, not knowing what to say. Crowley, on the other hand, scoffed and gently removed his arm from the angel’s grip.
“That’s the first thing you’re worried about?!” he exclaimed, throwing his hands into the air exasperatedly. “Really?! Seven years apart and all you want to know is whether your old gardener and nanny are an item?!”
“That’s not all I want to know,” Warlock replied testily. He could throw his former nanny’s attitude right back, as Crowley recalled a bit too late. “I really want to know why you sang me lullabies about taking over the world and crushing people under my heel. I want to know why Brother Francis told me to do the exact opposite and insisted I call animals ‘Brother’ and ‘Sister,’ which, by the way, is very weird to other people.” He gave Aziraphale a pointed look, to which the angel could only smile apologetically. “I also want to know why my scrapes always healed faster than other kids’- what, you think I didn’t notice that?”
Aziraphale had let out a small gasp, shooting another look at Crowley, but the demon was transfixed by the ranting boy in front of them. Warlock continued with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
“I didn’t notice the weird stuff at first, since I was so little. But when I started hanging out with other kids, I realized how things just seemed to… happen to me. If I fell and got a bruise on my leg, I’d show it to Nanny and it’d be gone in a day. If another kid had the same bruise, it took a week to disappear. I found four leaf clovers anytime I was looking for them with Brother Francis, even though they’re supposed to be super rare. When I went to the bakery with Nanny, they always found one of my favorite cookies in the back, even if they said they’d sold the last one for the day. Little things like that- they didn’t seem crazy at the time, but after you both left, they just… stopped.”
Warlock’s emotions were reemerging, and he clenched his fists by his side to try and control himself. Aziraphale touched Crowley’s arm again but the demon shook his head, knowing that the boy had to get this out of his system before they had even a vague chance of talking to him.
“I… I thought I was special,” Warlock said, more quietly. “I didn’t know if it was because I was supposed to bring about the end of the world or save it, like you both kept telling me-” His eyes flashed dangerously, as if this was a pinpoint of great strain on his mind. “-but I thought that’s why things happened to me like they did. That I was the one in control, unintentionally making my life better where I could. But, really, it was you two.” He crossed his arms pointedly. “Am I right?”
Crowley and Aziraphale said nothing for a long, long time. Just when Warlock began to grow frustrated, the demon took a step towards him.
“Yes,” he admitted, holding a hand out as if to grasp the boy’s shoulder. He paused before making contact, arm hanging awkwardly in the air. “Yes, hellspawn, you’re right.”
“Am I really a hellspawn?” Warlock asked. His eyes were dark and unreadable.
“…No,” Crowley said with a grimace.
“That’s part of why we had to leave,” Aziraphale added, moving next to Crowley. One more step, and they would both be close enough to pull Warlock into another embrace… but they didn’t dare. Not when the boy was in such as volatile state. “Actually, I suppose that is reason why we had to leave.”
“Because I’m not… what?” Confusion washed over Warlock’s face again. “A demon?”
Crowley let out a snort. “No. Because you’re not the antichrist.”
Warlock blinked at him.
“Really, Crowley, you just had to say it outright? You couldn’t have used a little more tact?” Aziraphale said testily, and Crowley gestured to the boy in front of them.
“He blatantly asked! What are we supposed to say? Come on, Angel, we can’t lie to him anymore; he doesn’t deserve it.”
“’Angel?’” Warlock repeated softly, forehead creased in utter bewilderment. Aziraphale sighed.
“Yes, alright, fine,” he said, voice full of resignation. “The angel would be… me.”
“…You’re an angel,” Warlock repeated. It was not a question, but a statement. Aziraphale nodded and the boy turned his gaze on Crowley. “I’m guessing you’re… not an angel, then.”
Crowley let out a mirthless laugh. “Haven’t been for over 6,000 years, kid. You’re looking at a genuine demon.”
Warlock could only stare, disbelief and acceptance fighting for control over his face. Eventually, the boy sunk onto the couch behind him, curling towards his knees and wrapping his hands around his head.
“That… makes so much sense, if it’s true,” he muttered, more to himself than anyone else. He glanced up at Crowley. “You’d better not be lying to me, Nanny Ash, or else I’ll-” The boy paused, then shook his head, as if correcting himself. “Er, I mean, I guess I should call you Crowley now?”
“I’ve been called too many names over the years to count; you can stick with what you know or try something new.” Crowley flashed what he hoped to be a reassuring grin. “Also, good job with the empty threat- though sitting up a bit straighter and not mumbling to the floor would give it more oomph.”
“Crowley!” Aziraphale exclaimed, so stressed that he actually stomped his foot. Crowley and Warlock both raised their eyebrows, surprised at the outburst. Aziraphale lowered his voice, an obvious strain in his normally calm tone. “This is not the time for that sort of…” He grabbed at the air, reaching for the word. “That sort of… lesson, if you can call it that.”
Crowley sighed. “Point taken. Warlock, we are telling you the truth. We didn’t when you were a kid because we were trying to… you know…”
Aziraphale knew what the demon struggled to say and jumped in. “We were trying to protect you, dear boy.”
“…That’s cool and all,” Warlock said slowly, trying to piece his scrambled thoughts into something that made a slight bit of sense. “But you still haven’t proven anything. About demons and angels and stuff, I mean.”
“You want proof?” Crowley asked, raising a hand to his sunglasses. “There’s a reason I never took these off.” He slid the glasses off his face, golden eyes blinking in the dim light of the bookshop, and Warlock gasped.
“Whoa,” the boy breathed, standing up to get a better look. Crowley cringed a bit at the scrutiny- not because he wasn’t used to people judging his eyes, but because this was Warlock. He’d made a point not to let the child see his true face for fear of what he might think.
After staring for an uncomfortable few more seconds, Warlock grinned, excitement finally creeping back into his expression. “Nanny Ash, those are awesome.”
Crowley chucked, hesitant to admit that he felt a bit relieved, and slipped his glasses back on. “Can’t say they’ve been described that way before, but I’ll take it.”
“You don’t secretly have weird eyes, do you, Brother Francis?” Warlock asked, turning his attention on Aziraphale. He scrunched up his nose questioningly. “Wait, your name’s really Mr. Fell, right? What’s your first name?”
“Actually, my true name is Aziraphale,” the angel replied with a smile, and Warlock silently repeated the name, testing how it sounded. “And no, my eyes are as they always have been. My angelic nature isn’t as obvious; I can manifest a halo, if I so choose.” He held up a hand as Warlock began to request to see this phenomenon. “But that’s for another time. Why don’t you two make yourselves comfortable, I’ll go put the kettle on, and then we can have a proper discussion about everything.”
Aziraphale gazed at Warlock expectantly, his request not up for debate. Warlock, whose current thoughts were a jumble of eyes, Nanny, demon, angel, antichrist, sat back against the plush cushions without question. Crowley automatically sprawled out next to him, as if he'd been itching for a chance to get off his feet, taking up the remaining two-thirds of the couch. Aziraphale rolled his eyes and snapped his fingers. Suddenly, a well-worn reading chair appeared perfectly centered on the other side of the coffee table. Warlock jumped, his mouth falling open.
“How’d you do that?!” he eventually managed to say, and Aziraphale smiled back at him.
“Just a little miracle, my dear,” the angel replied. Before Warlock could question him further, Aziraphale walked back towards the kitchen, brushing his hand fondly over the boy’s hair as he passed. Warlock watched him until he disappeared from sight, then turned to the demon dramatically splayed out next to him.
“Can you do that, too?” Warlock asked, sitting up a little straighter. It felt strange to see his former caretaker like this, so loose and (sort of) relaxed, laying on the couch as if the demon hadn’t a care in the world.
“Miracles? ‘Course I can,” Crowley responded. He waved a hand lazily. “Mine would technically be considered demonic, but they’d turn out the same. It’s all about thinking how you want things to happen- if you believe something will turn out a certain way, then it will.”
“Huh,” was all Warlock could think to say, and the pair lapsed into silence. Eventually, Crowley sat up and put a tentative hand on the boy's shoulder.
“Listen, Warlock, I…” The demon faltered, words never coming that easily to him. His grip on Warlock's shoulder tightened, wishing he could transfer his thoughts through touch and avoid the whole talking about emotions thing. "I never wanted... We didn't want to leave you, especially in that empty house with your shitty parents-" Crowley cut himself off with a wince. All the feelings about leaving the kid behind that he’d made a point not to acknowledge were bubbling at the surface of his mind; it was hard to sort out what he should and shouldn't say.
"No, you're right; they're really shitty," Warlock agreed. "They've gotten a little nicer, I guess, but we hardly see each other anymore so... I dunno." He shrugged, then glanced at his shoulder, where the demon's hand still rested. Crowley moved to take it away, but Warlock slapped his own hand on top of it, startling them both. "Sorry! Sorry, I just..."
"There's no need to apologize," Crowley said, voice automatically slipping into a soothing tone that brought Warlock right back to his childhood. Regardless of how the demon looked now, he'd still been Warlock's caretaker for eleven years, and that had quite the lasting effect. To Warlock's dismay, he felt his eyes beginning to water again.
"Oh, for Satan's sake- come here," Crowley responded instantly, using the hand on Warlock's shoulder to pull the boy into another hug. To Warlock's credit, he kept his tears at bay this time, though his grip around the demon was even tighter than before. Crowley returned the pressure, silently resting his chin atop Warlock's head as the boy buried his face in his shirt again.
Crowley was, by nature, not the biggest fan of physical affection. But in the Dowling household, the fact Nanny Ashtoreth filled a much bigger parental role than initially intended had a permanent effect on both Crowley and Warlock: the boy felt safest in his caretaker's arms, and Crowley secretly relished this fact. Usually, Warlock would come running for comfort when his parents had no time for the inquisitive questions of a child and shooed him away, and Crowley would be there to answer everything he could and encourage him to never stop asking about things. And, sometimes, Warlock simply needed to be held in silence- a strange thing for the demon to get used to at first, but over time it simply felt right.
And so it felt now, in the back of Aziraphale's bookshop, seven years after Armageddidn't. Crowley held Warlock close, not needing words to reassure the boy that, as he'd always said to soothe the boy's trembling nerves, everything would be alright. Aziraphale poked his head out from the back room, checking on the pair, and when Crowley met his partner's gaze, he was overcome with the sensation that yes, things really would be okay after all.
Aziraphale smiled and then ducked back into the kitchenette area to grab the tea. Soon after the angel disappeared, Warlock slowly unlocked his arms from their fierce grip around Crowley's waist and sat up straight.
"Feel better, hellspawn?" Crowley asked, raising an eyebrow and cracking a grin. Though his eyes were obscured by sunglasses, Warlock could feel the fondness from the demon's gaze.
"Yeah," the boy responded with a slightly embarrassed laugh. At that moment, Aziraphale reemerged carrying an ornate tray upon which rested three cups of tea and a plate full of assorted biscuits.
"You really shouldn't have, Angel," Crowley said, eyeing the teacup closest to him.
"Oh hush, dear; a hot cup of tea is good for the nerves," Aziraphale responded, demurely settling into the comfy armchair across from the couch. Warlock took a sip of tea and his face lit up.
"This is really good!" he exclaimed, reaching for a biscuit to nibble on. The angel was right- the warm cup in hands was grounding him firmly in the present and doing wonders for settling the remaining agitation in his mind.
"I'm so glad you enjoy it." Aziraphale beamed. "Now, I suppose we should start from the beginning... Many years ago-"
"Oh no, we're not starting from the beginning beginning!" Crowley interjected. "The kid doesn't have fifty years of his life to waste listening to a story."
"It does not take me fifty years to tell our history!" Aziraphale huffed. Crowley snickered, pleased with himself for ruffling some feathers, but quickly shrunk under the angel's glare.
"Anyway-" Aziraphale turned back to Warlock, his smile returning instantly. "I was going to start eighteen years ago, when the antichrist was born."
"Maybe I should take that part?" Crowley offered. "Seeing as I was the one who delivered him to the hospital and all?"
"Oh, yes, I suppose..."
"Right. So, eighteen years ago, the antichrist arrived on Earth, and-"
A high-pitched series of beeps interrupted Crowley's tale. The demon tilted his head questioningly as Warlock reached into his pocket and took out his phone- the newest and greatest model a rich politician could buy, of course.
"Ah, crap, sorry," he apologized, unlocking the phone and furiously beginning to type on the digital keypad. "My roommate's texting me, and I've gotta reply or he’ll just keep messaging me until I do; give me a sec."
"Roommate?" Aziraphale questioned, and Warlock nodded, still focused on the device in his hands.
"Yeah, my college roommate. I texted him when I got here and I guess he just got the message.” The phone’s keypad clicked a few more times and then Warlock locked the screen and slipped the phone back into his pocket, returning his attention to the supernatural beings in front of him. “Okay, sorry, keep going.”
“So, there’s this Great Plan, right?” Crowley said, making an all-encompassing gesture with his hands. “And as part of this Great Plan, there’s supposed to be a big war between Heaven and Hell, but that can’t happen unless Armageddon wipes out humanity, so-”
Warlock’s phone chimed again. The boy pulled it out of his pocket and automatically started typing. Aziraphale wrinkled his nose in annoyance.
“Warlock, dear, this is very important, and I think you ought to pay attention,” the angel suggested firmly.
“Sorry, I’m really interested, I promise!” Warlock replied, still typing. “I just promised my roommate I’d fill him in on the bookshop once I got here- he's actually the one that helped me figure out how to find it." Warlock glanced up for a moment to flash a reassuring smile. "Don't worry, I'm not saying anything about you two, even though he'd would believe it. He's into all that supernatural, witchy stuff."
Aziraphale frowned. "I thought you said you found the shop through the internet."
"Well yeah," Warlock replied, refocusing on the phone to finish his message. "I found all the info and stuff online, but Adam gave me more detailed directions than Google Maps; he said he'd been here before, which is how he knew I'd like it. Obviously, he didn't know that my old gardener owned it, right?" Warlock snorted at the impossible coincidence, finally sending the reply and locking his phone again. He looked back up to find Aziraphale and Crowley staring at him with slack-jawed expressions of utter shock. Aziraphale's teacup was tilted at an obscure angle, though the liquid miraculously remained inside.
"Your roommate's name is Adam?" Aziraphale asked quietly. Warlock nodded, eyebrows creased in concern.
"Yeah; do you actually remember him?! Oh my god, he'd probably freak out if I told him; he seemed really into this place."
"What's his last name?" Crowley questioned, although it sounded as if he already knew the answer. Warlock tilted his head, even more confused, and responded:
"Young. His name’s Adam Young. Why?"
I didn't intend for this fic to have so many feels when I started writing it, but... these things happen. Thank you all again for giving this story so much love, and enjoy an extra-long final chapter!
"Of course it's him!" Crowley hissed, standing and beginning to pace next to the couch.
"Now, dear, we can't be certain it's the same child," Aziraphale said, though his tone betrayed the fact that he didn't believe his own words.
"Oh yeah?" Crowley stopped mid-step and twisted on his heel to point a finger at Warlock. "Hellspawn, any idea where this Adam Young grew up?"
"Uh..." Warlock frowned, trying to remember what he'd considered an insignificant detail amidst all the facts he'd learned about his roommate during the past few months they'd lived together. He was also very curious as to why Aziraphale and Crowley were suddenly freaking out at the mention of Adam's name. "I think it was, like, a little town in the countryside? Tedfield, maybe?”
“Tadfield?” Aziraphale supplied.
“Yeah, that’s it.”
"Called it, Angel!" Crowley exclaimed. He placed one hand on the back of Aziraphale's chair and the other on the armrest, leaning towards the angel conspiratorially. "That can't be a coincidence, don't you think?"
"Part of the Ineffable Plan?" Aziraphale questioned, gazing up at Crowley with a raised eyebrow.
The demon nodded. "Must be."
"Um, hey," Warlock interjected, and the pair instantly snapped their gazes to him. "Not to interrupt your conspiracy theories or whatever, but what does my roommate have to do with me not being the antichrist?"
"...Quite a lot, actually," Aziraphale responded after a moment, sparing another glance at Crowley. The demon pushed himself away from the chair and planted his hands on his hips.
"Alright, long story short-" He paused, making sure he had Warlock's undivided attention, as if the boy could even think about focusing on something else at that moment. "I brought the antichrist to a hospital run by satanic nuns about eighteen years ago, but there was a baby mix-up, sort of like what you'd see in those stupid prime-time dramas your mother would watch incessantly."
The demon sneered, reliving the many times he'd been required to watch Warlock because the child's mother was "busy" vegging herself out in front of sappy daytime television shows. Not that he ever minded taking care of the boy, of course, but it was the principle of the thing that bothered him.
"Anyway," he continued, sauntering over to the couch and sitting down. He leaned forward, arms resting on his knees with his body angled towards the boy who was staring at him with eyes as wide as saucers. "The baby mix-up happened- not my fault, blame the nuns- and we thought the antichrist was going home with the Dowling family. When the antichrist turned eleven, he was supposed to bring about Armageddon, and, well..."
"We'd grown rather attached to humanity, you see," Aziraphale chimed in, giving Warlock a soft smile. "So, Crowley and I made an arrangement-"
Warlock heard Crowley snort next to him and saw the demon's mouth twitch, unsuccessfully trying to hide a grin.
"We would look after the antichrist and give him equal doses of heavenly and hellish influences," Aziraphale continued. "Our hope was that he would grow up perfectly normal and, when the time came, would decide not to end the world."
"And... that kid was me," Warlock ventured, and Aziraphale nodded. "Wow. Shit, wow, that's- oops, sorry." Aziraphale had frowned at the curse, but Warlock noticed Crowley give him a subtle thumbs-up under the table where the angel couldn't see. Warlock let out a disbelieving sort of laugh, trying to process the true explanation behind his unnatural childhood. "So that's why you two always told me that stuff about me someday being the leader of the world? And gave me completely opposite advice on everything?"
"Yes," Aziraphale answered with a nod. He grimaced a little guiltily. "We're very sorry about that, dear boy; it must have confused you terribly."
"I got used to it after a while." Warlock shrugged. He took another sip of tea and was surprised to find it still perfectly warm. He stared at the cup pensively, and Crowley and Aziraphale remained silent, letting him sort out his thoughts.
"But... you said I'm not the antichrist," Warlock said eventually, looking from Aziraphale to Crowley. The demon shook his head.
"No, unfortunately, we got that part wrong," he admitted. "Baby swap, remember?"
"Although it worked out in the end, since the true antichrist was raised to be completely human, at least in the way he thinks and sees the world," Aziraphale chimed in, wanting to point out the positive side of things. He took a delicate sip of tea and smiled.
"Okay, well, that explains my bizarre childhood, I guess," Warlock said, slowly. "I mean, you know I'm gonna ask you both tons more about all this and, like, every memory I can think of, but I don't think my brain can handle reliving some of that stuff right now."
"Of course; you've been through a lot of emotional strain this afternoon," Aziraphale said, leaning forward to briefly take one of Warlock's hands and give it a reassuring squeeze. "From now on, you can give us a call anytime if you would like to speak to us- I'll give you the number of my bookshop, although I've heard you can find it online. Oh, and Crowley can give you his cell phone number!"
"Already done," Crowley said with a grin and a snap of his fingers.
Warlock reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, opening his contacts lists to find a new number in the address book under "Ashtoreth J. Crowley."
"Thanks!" Warlock said, grinning back at the demon. He was about to say something else, but at that moment a chime alerted the room that he'd received another text message. Crowley's lip curled as Warlock instinctively clicked on the message and began typing a reply.
"That boy knew exactly what he was doing, didn’t he?" Aziraphale murmured, and Crowley responded with a roll of his eyes. Warlock paused his typing to look at the angel quizzically. "Oh, not you, Warlock; the boy I presume you are texting right now."
"Adam?" Warlock questioned, and Aziraphale nodded. When the angel failed to elaborate, Warlock shrugged and returned to his message. Then, suddenly, a wave of realization crashed over him so strongly that he dropped his phone into his lap with a small gasp.
"Oh dear," Aziraphale said, carefully setting his teacup down on the table.
"You said there was another baby," Warlock said quietly, his eyes growing wide again.
"Three, actually, but yeah." Crowley shrugged nonchalantly, though his face was wary, gauging the boy's reaction.
"And the baby that was really the antichrist went... somewhere else. Somewhere he wasn't supposed to be."
"Like... a little town in the countryside called Tadfield?"
Warlock's face paled. "You can't be serious."
"Crowley, maybe we should hold off on this part of the discussion for another day," Aziraphale said hesitantly, noting the boy's change in demeanor.
"Too late," Crowley replied with a shake of his head. "He's figured it out."
"Adam?!" Warlock exclaimed, his face screwed up in confusion. "You're telling me that Adam is the antichrist?!"
"Well...yes," Aziraphale admitted. Warlock looked from him to Crowley, who nodded.
"'Fraid so, hellspawn; you roommate is the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast-"
"I believe he gets the idea!" Aziraphale cut off the demon and gestured to Warlock. "Look at the poor thing; as if learning about us wasn't enough of a shock!"
"You alright?" Crowley asked, cautiously, tempted to reach out and shake the boy out of his stuperous gaze. Warlock blinked slowly at him, shaking his head.
"There's no way," he said. "Adam is so... chill. Normal, I mean, not... trying to destroy the world or whatever."
"That's precisely the point," Aziraphale said calmly. He leaned across the table again and this time placed a hand on Warlock's knee, leaving it there. "Remember, because we focused on raising you- not that we minded, dear, you're a lovely boy and we wouldn't exchange our time with you for the world- Adam was raised without any divine or hellish influence. He grew up completely human, and therefore when it came time for him to end the world, he simply decided not to because he was raised to love it."
Warlock stared at the hand on his knee for a moment, then slowly rested his palm on top of it. He reached towards Crowley with his other hand, not necessarily expecting a response, but the demon instantly grasped Warlock's warm, slightly-sweaty palm within his own.
"Okay, we're gonna come back to the fact that my roommate is the literal antichrist," Warlock said, matter-of-factly. He paused, let out a huff of air. "But, for now, what I'm getting is that, because you spent eleven years with me... Adam was able to not let the world end?"
"Exactly," Aziraphale responded with a smile, giving Warlock's knee a squeeze.
"And so, in effect... I kinda helped saved the world, too, didn't I? I just... didn't know it."
Crowley and Aziraphale blinked at each other, stunned by the revelation.
"...I suppose you're right," Aziraphale said with a light nod. Crowley merely trained his gaze back onto the boy next to him, watching closely. Warlock was getting at something else, something that- and Crowley hoped this issue with verbal expression hadn't been his unintentional influence- the boy found hard to put into words.
"So... so then." Warlock swallowed, then cleared his throat. When he spoke again, there was a mild tremor in his voice. "So then, I do have a purpose, besides what my parents want for me. Er, well, I did.”
“Come again, dear?” Aziraphale questioned, frowning. Crowley bristled with a flash of anger so intense it made the angel flinch, though he knew it wasn’t directed towards anyone in the bookshop.
“I mean, since you guys left and my life wasn’t special anymore, I… I didn’t know what I was supposed to do,” Warlock admitted slowly. “Nobody was telling me that I’d rule the world anymore- which, honestly, I didn’t really believe but it was still a goal besides ‘become a politician.’ But… I didn’t want to do that. I don’t want to do that, but I have no idea what I am supposed to do if it’s not what my parents want. And I can’t make my parents focus on something else anymore when they start bothering me about it or change their mind or- well, I guess I never could anyway, right?”
Warlock glanced at Crowley, who grimaced through the poorly-composed hellish rage lurking in his expression. The demon couldn’t believe that Warlock had grown up thinking like this and was mad at both the boy’s distant parents and himself for leaving Warlock unchecked for so long.
“But now,” Warlock continued, shifting his gaze to the old carpet. “Since Adam grew up normal because you two were busy with me, then I did have purpose other than... o-other than trying to live up to my parents' dumb expectations."
"Oh, my dear boy-"
"Of courssse you have a purpose!" Crowley hissed fiercely, cutting Aziraphale off, but the angel didn't bother pointing this out. Instead, he quietly took his hand back and sat up in his chair, knowing his place in the upcoming conversation was an observer, at least for a bit. Crowley grasped Warlock by the shoulders and looked into his eyes, his intense gaze boring through the sunglasses.
"You do have a purpose," Crowley continued, gripping the boy tightly. Warlock felt a twinge of uncomfortable pressure where the demon's nails pressed down, but he paid this no mind; his nanny had only gotten riled up like this a handful of times, and whenever this happened it was because Warlock needed to be told something very important. "Your purpose is to do whatever the hell you want with your life. You're not meant to live up to your parents horribly out-of-touch expectations of what you should be, and you definitely weren't meant to be some sort of 'distraction' from the antichrist, so don’t start thinking that either!
"You're meant to be who you want to be, and don't you dare let anyone tell you what you can't do- essspecially your parents. Do you understand?"
Warlock nodded frantically, the constriction around his arms having grown tighter as Crowley spoke. He was afraid of losing circulation in his limbs when Crowley’s suddenly hung his head, lessening his grip as well.
"...I would've taken you away from that place if I could, I want you to know that," the demon continued softly, staring hard at the floor. "Aziraphale and I, we would've... we talked about it a few times, just leaving with you and hoping you'd turn out alright. 'Course, we still thought you were the antichrist then, so..." The demon trailed off with a soft chuckle. He sat up, finally releasing Warlock's shoulders.
"What I'm trying to say is, we may be shit at it, but Angel and I are technically your godparents, so... from now on, if you ever need us, just give us a call, like Aziraphale said earlier. No more getting stuck in your own head and not having anyone to talk to. Got it?"
Warlock could only nod again, his vision hazy. When he'd set out to explore Soho this morning- after bidding the antichrist, apparently, goodbye-, he'd expected to maybe find a mysterious bookshop and, if he was lucky, spot the cryptid owner that resided within. What he found instead was something almost inconceivable. He'd found his former gardener, the man with the inexhaustibly sunny disposition who always lent a helping hand or listening ear when Warlock needed it. He'd found his former nanny, appearing quite different but still the same inside, her snark only improved (so Warlock thought) by the new accent.
But Warlock found something else, too. Or, really, he rediscovered it- a missing feeling he hadn't appreciated until it was gone, and he'd been left alone in a cold house with even colder parents. As the angel and demon wrapped themselves around him in a tight hug, for the first time in seven years he truly felt warm.
It was the feeling of safety-
"Don't worry, my dear boy, we'll always be here for you."
It was the feeling of reassurance-
"It's okay, hellspawn; we’re not going to leave you again."
But most of all, it was the feeling of-
"We love you, Warlock," Aziraphale said, maneuvering one arm out of the embrace to gently cup the boy's face in his hand. The angel's smile shone through Warlock's hazy vision like the sun peeking through the rainclouds. "Truly, we do."
Then, suddenly, the sunlight disappeared as Warlock was tugged sideways and buried for the third time that day into a chest that smelled of an ever-burning fire, nanny, and home. The boy felt the low voice more than heard it say, "And don't you ever forget that. I mean it."
“Y-Yes, Nanny Ash,” the boy choked out. His response was acknowledged by a firm squeeze from the demon and the angel’s warm fingers brushing through his hair.
A moment later, Warlock was released and he sat up, wiping his eyes with his shirt collar before looking around to reassure himself that yes, this situation was really still happening and wasn’t part of some crazy dream. Brother Francis had moved back to the plush armchair across the coffee table, gazing at him with a loving smile on his face. To his right was Nanny Ash, whose concerned frown slipped into a grin at Warlock’s now-relieved expression.
“Uh… thanks,” Warlock said awkwardly, looking down at his half-empty teacup. “I guess I still have some stuff to work through.”
“Don’t ever apologize for showing emotion, dearest,” Aziraphale said, treating Warlock to an even brighter smile.
Warlock nodded and then reached for his phone where it had fallen onto the floor in the commotion of Crowley’s aggressive speech. A notification that he had three messages from Adam lit up the screen.
“Alright, I can get around the fact that you two are an angel and demon,” Warlock said, with a smirk that said his own ability to process that fact amazed him. “But Adam really doesn’t seem like the son of Satan or whatever…”
“Technically, he isn’t anymore,” Aziraphale said, which prompted Warlock to raise an eyebrow. “Ah, I suppose that’s a story for a future conversation.”
“Facetime him,” Crowley suddenly said, perking up and gesturing to the phone.
“What?” Warlock questioned.
“Facetime him.” An eerie grin slid across the demon’s face. “If he’s so interested in your time at the bookshop, you should let him see for himself. Plus, I have something to say to that kid.”
“Crowley, be ni- er, don’t be too harsh on him,” Aziraphale chided. Crowley merely rolled his eyes and gestured to the phone again, wordlessly asking Warlock to comply with his request.
“…Okay,” Warlock said with a shrug. Whatever conversation was about to happen, he doubted it would be as emotional as the one he’d just had- if anything it would just be very weird. He sent a quick message to Adam simply saying Facetime? A few seconds later, the phone began to ring, and Warlock accepted the call.
“What’s up?” Adam asked in a cheery voice as his grinning face and mop of curly blonde hair filled the screen. There was a glint of something in his eyes that Warlock couldn’t quite place.
Demonic energy? He thought, then shook his head at the ridiculous notion. Out loud, he could only manage, “Uh, well…”
“You know exactly what’s up,” Crowley said, leaning close to Warlock in order to be in the phone camera’s viewpoint. Adam’s face lit up and he let out a hearty laugh.
“Hey, Crowley!” the boy said, and the demon let out a small hiss.
“Don’t ‘hey Crowley’ me, you little monster- you ssset this up, didn’t you?!”
“Absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” Adam responded, shaking his head, though the grin on his face said the opposite.
“A little warning would have been nice is all, Adam,” Aziraphale said, raising his voice to be heard from across the table. At this, Adam laughed again and gave up all composure of being unaware of the current situation.
“So, I guess my hunch was right,” he mused, then addressed the boy holding the phone. “Warlock, are they just like you remembered?”
“Well, um… not exactly,” Warlock admitted, finding it strangely easy to talk to Adam despite the dozens of questions racing through his mind. He realized that Adam always seemed to have this effect on him- even though he really hadn’t known the boy for long, Warlock had opened up to him more than he’d ever thought he would over the past few months (hence the reason Adam found out about Warlock’s unusual upbringing by his probably demonic nanny and angelic gardener).
“But they’re still the same deep down?” Adam prompted when Warlock drifted into his thoughts for a moment too long. Warlock glanced at Aziraphale and Crowley, then back to the phone.
“Definitely,” he responded with a grin.
“Good. With all the stories you told me and the fact that those two were definitely not taking care of me as a kid, I figured you were the one they’d been watching.”
“Um, yeah, about that…” Warlock let the sentence hang awkwardly, unsure of how to bring up the fact that he knew his roommate’s true identity as the near-destroyer of the world.
“I’m sure they told you about me, too,” Adam responded, his smile now calm and reassuring. “Don’t worry, the world is staying just as it is; there’s no point in ending it when we can all work to fix it!”
Aziraphale let out a noise of approval and placed a hand placed over his heart, a fond expression on his face. Meanwhile, Crowley let out a resigned- though not necessarily displeased- sigh and sprawled back onto the couch.
“I’ve still got my powers though,” Adam spoke up. His smile had turned absolutely mischievous. “I’ll show you some cool tricks on our next day off.”
“Adam!” Aziraphale exclaimed, hands now clenched worriedly in his lap. Warlock flipped the phone camera so Adam could see the angel. “I thought we agreed that you’re not to use your powers unless it’s a life or death situation!”
“Eh, let the kid do what he wants; he’s got supernatural abilities, he should use them,” Crowley said with a shrug and a vague hand gesture towards Warlock’s phone.
“Crowley, that’s not what we should be teaching him!”
“He can control them; what’s the problem?!”
“The problem is-”
“God, they bicker like they’ve been married forever,” Adam remarked with a roll of his eyes, and Warlock nodded with a snicker, turning the phone camera back to selfie mode. “How did you deal with that for eleven years?”
“Well, it wasn’t that bad since they tried to hide it, but they really sucked at keeping it a secret…”
“Figures. You coming back to the dorm soon?”
“Oh, crap.” Warlock’s eyebrows shot upwards as he looked at the time. He’d spent much longer than anticipated in the bookshop. “Yeah, I guess I’ll head back before it gets too late. Uh, do you wanna say goodbye to them, or…?” Crowley and Aziraphale were still arguing, though Warlock could tell by the light atmosphere in the room that they weren’t actually upset with each other.
“Nah, I’m sure I’ll see ‘em soon, especially since you’ve all reconnected,” Adam replied. “Text me when you’re back on campus; see you in a bit!”
With a wave, Adam disconnected the call. Warlock slipped his phone back in his pocket and cleared his throat, instantly stopping Crowley and Aziraphale’s discussion about the proper use of Adam’s supernatural powers.
“I should get back to my dorm,” Warlock said slowly, not really wanting to cut his visit short.
“Of course, dear boy,” Aziraphale said, standing and smoothing out his vest. He gave Warlock a kind smile as he and Crowley stood as well. “Please, don’t hesitate to visit us whenever you wish; we’re merely a phone call away. Now, it’ll be rather dark out at this time of the evening, so we’ll walk you to your car; where did you park?”
“Oh, I took a cab,” Warlock responded, pulling out his phone again. “I’ll just call another one-”
“Nope, don’t even think about it,” Crowley said, and with a snap Warlock’s phone disappeared from his hand and went back into his pocket. The boy glanced up at the demon to find an excited grin spreading across his face. “We’ll give you a ride; remember the Bentley?”
Warlock did, in fact, remember the Bentley- more specifically, the way the Bentley would travel at ungodly speeds as soon as it cleared the driveway and the sightlines of anyone who would have an issue with Nanny Ashtoreth’s driving style. Their trips into town had been both exhilarating and terrifying.
“I’m not sure if we should put young Warlock in that sort of peril,” Aziraphale said, his lips twisting into a frown.
“It’s not ‘perilous;’ I’m in complete control,” the demon responded, sounding mildly offended.
“No one can be in control at the speed you like to travel.”
“It’ll be fine!”
“…Oh, alright.” Aziraphale sighed heavily. “Just please try to drive a little more reasonably than usual, dear; Warlock won’t do well with inconvenient discorporation.”
“Discorpor-what?!” Warlock yelped, but was hurriedly pushed towards the door before Aziraphale could clarify.
“Don’t worry about it, hellspawn!” Crowley said, guiding Warlock through the towering bookshelves. The boy glanced up at him quite worriedly, in fact, and in response Crowley lifted up his glasses to give him a serpent-eyed wink. Seemingly before Warlock could take another breath, the three of them were piled into the sleek black Bentley, Crowley in the driver’s seat, Aziraphale in the passenger side, and Warlock taking his usual place in the back rightmost seat. Though he hadn’t been in the car for nearly a decade, the leather seemed to mold itself around his lean frame almost as if the Bentley itself remembered him.
Based on all Warlock had learned that day, a sentient car wasn’t too far out of the realm of possibility.
“Do you need directions?” Warlock asked, and Crowley shook his head.
“We’ve met up with Adam at his university a few times, so we know the way,” the demon responded, glancing at Warlock through the rearview mirror.
“Honestly, it’s a wonder we haven’t run into you before today,” Aziraphale mused. Crowley let out a derisive snort. Then, the demon flashed Warlock a grin and with a rev of the engine, they were off. The melodic sound of a familiar song drifted from the radio, and Warlock’s mouth lifted into an automatic smile; even after all this time, his nanny still listened to nothing but Queen.
After such a long day, Warlock should have been content to sit in silence and process all he’d been through. But, he had one more pressing question that needed an answer before his curiosity would be satiated for the time being.
“Hey, Nanny Ash?” Warlock said, and though he couldn’t see either of their eyes, he knew that Crowley and Aziraphale were giving him their full attention. “You and Zira never answered my question from earlier.”
“What question was that, hellspawn?” Crowley responded, noting Aziraphale’s face light up fondly. The angel didn’t usually like nicknames, but he’d apparently made an exception for Warlock.
“Are you two together or what?”
The two supernatural beings gazed at each other for such a long time Warlock wondered how the Bentley didn’t run off the road. Then, in unison, they both began to laugh- a hearty sound that drowned out the radio and made Warlock smile so much his cheeks hurt. Aziraphale held out his hand and Crowley took it without hesitation, squeezing it tightly.
“I knew it!” Warlock exclaimed triumphantly.
As the Bentley sped through the evening darkness, Crowley humming along to the radio while Aziraphale rubbed small circles on the back of his hand, Warlock allowed himself to settle comfortably into his seat, close his eyes, and relax. Brother Francis and Nanny Ash were back in his life, and they were here to stay.
With an angel’s presence bathing him in warmth and a demon’s familiar, lilting hum filling his ears, Warlock drifted off into a peaceful sleep. Through an equal touch of divine and hellish influence, he dreamed about what he loved the most: a being with fiery red hair, another with brilliant blue eyes, and an overwhelming feeling of finally being home.