Forgive Those Who Trespass
Despite being an Angel of the Lord and thus not prone to such things, Aziraphale has lied in the past. Examples include:
1) yes, he knows exactly what happened to that flaming sword, Lord, sorry about that;
2) he recalls perfectly what he and Crowley got up to that one night in the 14th century that ended with them being chased by bulls throughout Barcelona;
3) Adam has two nipples, no more and no less (at least as far as Aziraphale knows);
4) Adam changing his book collection? He may have claimed he was, but he was really not all right with this.
At first, yes, he had been, and he had told Crowley the original thought he'd had: he could sell these first-edition children books and perhaps buy back some of his older classics from other sources.
Only then he did the research and realized that the only adverts for such pieces of literature had been from him.
The full weight of these implications rested on him the night after he'd told Crowley that he was bound to become rich from Adam's "generosity." Yes he could still sell these books, but there wasn't anything to buy! All that history, all of those genius authors' creations, all of it was gone! All because one stupid old man had come at the wrong time and startled him and then the candle must've fallen and the entireplaceburstintoflamesohGodplease
Aziraphale clutched at his heart, shaking.
Madame Tracy beamed at Mister Shadwell before pulling him into a hug. "Oh, you are just the silliest," she cooed, not letting him go even when the older man stiffened. "The silliest love I've ever met. Oh, how lovely. Thank you, darling!"
Mister Shadwell had bought her - with what money she'd hadn't a clue, but really he was his own boy and had his own money, perhaps one of those nice gentlemen he'd been associating with, the ones who promised them a double-date, had given him money for his Witchfinder Army's services? - a brand new stuffed bear, whose cream-colored fur somehow stood out against the plethora of muted plushies she had already accumulated. It looked so fetching!
"Le' gae of me, wumman," he muttered, and if she didn't know any better she'd accuse him of blushing. "It's a thank-y' fer helpin' me keep my wits together when I slew the Devil, 'though I'm loathe to suppor' yer hoorish ways, ye harlot."
She did so and clapped her hands together gleefully. "He's just adorable," she said before pinching one of Mister Shadwell's leathery cheeks. "You're such a love, you know that? Why, I know, to pay you back, I'll scrounge up some money and I'll get you a nice new suit for our date."
Mister Shadwell started coughing, although that wasn't anything shocking so Madame Tracy patiently waited for it to end. "Urg?"
Somehow her smile widened, and she vaguely hoped it hadn't caused her makeup to crack. "Our date with those nice young men, you know, the poofters. Messrs. Crowley and Aziraphale. The blond one promised that they would take us out to lunch, remember? I bet Mister Crowley will insist on someplace higher class, he seems like that sort."
Mister Shadwell's response was another throaty noise, and Madame Tracy was starting to get worried.
"I'm not going to say anything that might implicate me," she said in a slightly more masculine voice, "although if you suffocate right now it's really only right and fair, you know, considering what you did."
That cleared Mister Shadwell's throat right up.
Before any explanations would be given, the voice had insisted that Shadwell sit outside of the room. Madame Tracy hadn't been too keen on allowing such a rude guest to have his way, but then the rude guest made it his way and she didn't have a choice.
Shadwell sat outside the room giving himself a very crude manicure.
"I do hope you know that my body is not some sort of... of acceptable vessel for you," she said in her sternest voice even as she drank a cup of tea for her passenger's sake.
"Trust me, dear, I know, but I had something of another scrape, and I just got that first body back so I'm rather in a bind." The tea relaxed him, and Aziraphale made Madame Tracy's lips curl up. "I'm not too worried, of course, as I'm certain that once I get organised I can make myself a new body."
"You said you're an angel, right? Before? So can't you just go back to Heaven?" she asked. "No offense, love, but I dislike sharing my body, you know how it is."
"An odd sentiment for a lady of your professions to have, my dear."
"Well... ah, as for why I can't merely Ascend... it's a bit complicated. Might I make a phone call?"
Aziraphale had called, asking to come over. Crowley acquiesced because if he didn't there was a very good chance Aziraphale would come over anyway and then chastise him for being a social recluse. When Madame Tracy showed up at his doorstep with a glow above her head that was clearly not anything the lighting could take credit for, Crowley burst into mad-sounding laughter.
"So let me get this straight. You died of a heart attack."
"Because of your books being gone?"
"And now you're stuck here because you want to avenge them."
"To do that, you have to set your host's boyfriend on fire."
"That would be karmic, yes, although really any manner of death will do."
"And you didn't tell her."
"You can't do that! Mister Shadwell's innocent!"
"Hundreds of books would beg to differ, Madame Tracy."
Crowley smirked, settling back into his couch. Really, this was far better than the Jersey Shore* marathon he'd been watching. "There is another way," he said smoothly, causing Madame Tracy to stare at him somehow twice. "You could, through vast exposure to Shadwell, become friends and learn to forgive him his trespasses against you."
It was odd: Madame Tracy burst into a smile at the same time her eyes narrowed in rage. "What a wonderful idea, Mister Crowley!"
Crowley could almost ignore Madame Tracy considering the bemusement he had at Aziraphale's palpable rage.
"Why, we can start off with our double date!"
He couldn't ignore that.
*Yet another thing he'd had nothing to do with yet got a Commendation for.
It had been a long time since Madame Tracy went out to dinner with two handsome men, she thought gaily as she chatted away, occasionally sipping on her champagne. As she'd predicted, Mister Crowley insisted on going to the Ritz of all places. And, although Mister Shadwell had been barred from the property for decades for some reason he wouldn't elaborate upon, no one seemed to mention it this time. Very odd, but she chalked it up to luck.
Our boys aren't very talkative, are they? Madame Tracy commented to Aziraphale. Mister Crowley had yet to say anything other than "ngk" and Mister Shadwell tended to chime in with threats and nonsensical grunts.
Oh, once Crowley gets talking, he never stops, Mister Aziraphale replied jovially enough before he cleared his throat awkwardly. Don't misunderstand me, Madame; Crowley and I aren't a couple.
Madame Tracy smirked. She hadn't been hired as a matchmaker since that one poor boy wanted to talk to that one poor spirit, and really that had been so very awkward and doomed to failure from the beginning. This, however, was anything but.
I can feel that smirk, you know, and I insist that whatever ideas you're thinking... oh dear. Oh dear me no.
He's in arm's reach, love.
Don't you dare!
"Mister Crowley? Mister Aziraphale has something he wants to give you," Madame Tracy purred, reaching out, hand getting dangerously close to -
Before Crowley could so much as look horrified, the other hand snapped out and grabbed the wrist of the first before slamming it down onto the table.
"Welcome to the Ritz, can I - er." The poor waiter hastily walked away, pretending as if he hadn't just seen that.
Crowley and Shadwell shared their first get me out of here look of the night. Then, both embarrassed to be associating with the other, they looked away.
Madame Tracy smiled at her boys, and Aziraphale relaxed his grip. "So, Mister Crowley, you work for Hell, is that right?" From the tone of her voice, she might have asked Crowley if he was an accountant.
His eyebrow shot up. "Nothing shocks you, does it." He also miracled the waiter into knowing their orders: the most expensive thing on the menu for Aziraphale and himself (before hastily cutting out Aziraphale's order, considering the angel's rather obvious indisposition at the moment); the cheapest appetizer for Madame Tracy; and a can of condensed milk for Shadwell.
She patted the demon on the hand. "You'd be surprised what I've seen."
"You might want to advise your superiors to visit," Aziraphale chimed in. "They would learn quite a bit."
Shadwell chuckled dryly, although he may have been choking.
Madame Tracy didn't find that so funny, and she scowled as her eyes rolled back into her head. "I sincerely hope that was a compliment."
"Indubitably, madam, indubitably."
Crowley snickered behind his wine glass.
"All right," she said, although she didn't sound convinced.
"So," Crowley said, sounding desperate even as food was served, "how have you, Aziraphale, been doing? Embracing angelic virtues like peace, love, and forgiveness?"
Madame Tracy let out an Aziraphalean huff and gave Shadwell a stern glare. Shadwell, undaunted, raised his hand and pointed it. "Aye, ah'll always be 'pposed t' the likes 'v yae."
"For the last time, I am not a witch and I am not a devil! I am an angel!"
"Oi meant pansies." The venom put into that word was one Shadwell usually reserved for witches of a particularly diabolical sort, the kind that ate kitten hearts or whatever they did, as opposed to the kind that ate a lot of salads, like Newt's witch target.
Aziraphale let out the most affronted gasp Crowley had ever heard. Then Madame Tracy looked shocked. "He's gone," she admitted.
"He's doing his cold-shoulder thing. He'll get over it."
"Oh." Madame Tracy's face gained a sly smirk. "So, boys, we're finally alone?"
Crowley asked for a food box.
Madame Tracy had slept the first two nights, leaving a bored Aziraphale to crochet in her mind. She actually found the needle clicking to be quite soothing. But the third night she was restless, and so ventured, Love, do you mind if I ask a favour?
Aziraphale stored away his inner half-formed scarf and smiled at her. Yes dear, what do you need?
Well, it's just that... I've been working as a medium for an awfully long time, and I've only actually made contact with the dead once. And that was through your power. I was wondering if you wouldn't mind doing it again? You know, for research purposes.
Aziraphale handed her an inner cup of cocoa. Why stop with the dead? I can get you into contact with Heaven and Hell, or even alternate time-lines!
Alternate time-lines? That sounds intriguing...
You don't even need that silly crystal ball of yours.
"... And so you left the Antichrist sitting on the sidewalk."
"... ... ..."
"You did, and I took him!"
"And you owned a nightclub! Really, how tacky of you."
"... ... ..."
"Then you tried to flee the planet, as if that would do you any good, and I convinced you to stay by playing a game of chess."
"... ... ..."
"The moral of the story, my dear boy, is to be happy with what you've got, because you would have it far, far worse somewhere else."
"Mmmhmmm, trust us on that."
"... ... ..."
Crowley went back to bed.
Shadwell had done his best to avoid the hoor/pansy combination with varying degrees of success. He'd been forced into dinner, yes, but for the most part he'd been able to stealthily hide in his closet, cross his fingers and hope things went back to normal.
This was his entire fault! He shouldn't have tried banishing a demon - he was a witch hunter! And now the poor stupid Jezebel was suffering -
Wait, was that a scream?
Forgetting his clause of no-interference, Shadwell moved as fast as he could out of the closet and broke into Madame Tracy's flat. Seeing no sign of any intruders but hand up just in case, he peered through only to find Madame Tracy in the bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror in horror.
"I make a horrible blonde! And - and are those crow's feet? I've never had those before! You're making me old! I should have known this would happen! I want you out!"
Then she let out an offended gasp. "Pardon me but you are no spring chicken yourself, madame!"
"That's Madame Tracy to you!"
"Regardless I see no alternative to the current situation. If you like I can close my eyes and pretend I'm not here," Aziraphale huffed.
"Do that. Go take a nap. You're making me tired," Madame Tracy snapped back, finally losing her patience with the whole situation.
There was an answering indignant sniff, and Madame Tracy decided to take the opportunity to formulate a plan.
Shadwell, who had no idea what either of them was talking about anymore, decided it was not in his job description to get involved.
Crowley was blissfully sleeping off the trauma of the dinner date when his sixth sense started to hiss at him. From hissing it went to spitting. Then it bit him, making him wake up and find himself eye-to-eye with Madame Tracy.
After he recovered from his falling out of bed, he suavely donned his sunglasses and gave her a cold look. "Yesss?"
Her cheery smile hadn't faded yet. "Don't you worry about your dear; Mister Aziraphale is sleeping. I need to talk to you about him, however."
"I can't help but notice you're blonde now," Crowley admitted. "Although are you going to explain how you got in my flat?"
Madame Tracy sat down on his bed as if it were her own. "The silly thing fancies you, you know, and I would be remiss in my duties as an agent of love if I didn't smack you two and get you together. Really you're quite sexy so I can't imagine how he hasn't told you sooner. But before you get any ideas," she tweaked his cheek, "you're not my type."
"Darn," said Crowley without feeling.
"Besides, you would make such a fetching couple. Pitcher and catcher indeed!"
"So you ought to take him out somewhere for a date. Since you consider the Ritz a regular luncheon place, you might want to consider an orgy, or maybe a home-cooked meal. That would be romantic."
"Oh, I know! Since he's stuck in me - oh goodness that sounded so naughty! - you could just come over to my flat and I will make you dinner!" she gushed. "And don't you worry about me; I'll just close my eyes and pretend I don't feel a thing. Unless, of course," her smirk turned sly, "you want me to, or... you don't know what you're doing?"
She beamed. "I have an extensive collection of videos that we can watch together! And there are all those helpful magazines I've collected!"
Adam blinked at the huge wad of money resting on the table. "You're desperate."
"You have no idea," said a harried-looking Crowley.
Adam nodded. "You want Aziraphale back in his own body, and all his old smelly books back?"
"Right, or else he'll end up having another heart-attack."
"But you thought he should be friends with Shadwell."
"That plan has been relegated to Plan B. I probably gave Aziraphale a lot of credit to assume he could forgive someone who burnt down his shop. To him it's like someone shooting God in the face."
"Right? So I'm Plan A, I take it. I have to ask, not that I'm complainin' or nothin', but why're you bribin' me before you even asked if I'd do it?"
Crowley smirked. "One thing you should learn about Our Side: bribery is usually necessary to do anything."
Adam shrugged. "Cool. I need a new bicycle anyway."
"Kid, if you do this for me, you'll be able to buy yourself a motorbike."
"And so he added a manicure, pedicure and facial for free," Aziraphale gushed over lunch. "Plus all my books are back where they should be."
"Arranged by consonant sounds of the first letter of the title?" Crowley interrupted dryly.
Aziraphale's smile did not waver. "Precisely. And best of all, Heaven has no idea I've acquired a body from another source again. They knew about the first time, and while they Frowned Upon it they didn't chastise me about it either, but this time they haven't got a clue I was even dead! All in all this turned out quite lovely."
"So are you going to sell all those children's books?" Crowley asked.
"Yes, I think so. I'm not sure what to do with the money, however." He took a piece of Crowley's cake that the demon had ordered specifically for that purpose. Since this was a date (whether Aziraphale knew it or not, which he likely didn't considering Crowley hadn't told him), he figured he might as well go all-out.
"I have an idea," said Crowley. "Since the old woman and the witch hunter are the ones who got us to here," he gestured to their lovely Italian restaurant setup complete with candles and wine, "which is something actually useful, why don't you put the money towards buying them a new house? Their flats are revolting, to say the least."
Aziraphale, truth be told, was simply thankful that the majority of his time had been spent in Madame Tracy's flat instead of Shadwell's, where you could practically smoke the walls; in comparison, the beaded curtains and mute plushies seemed pleasant. "Well, it would need to be a nice one, and... preferably not..."
Crowley smirked. "Not..."
The angel muttered something that sounded suspiciously like "not in the country."
Crowley outright smiled. "There's a lovely cottage I think they'd like." At Aziraphale's confused expression, he added, "In Buenos Aires."
"I love you," Aziraphale blurted before blushing. "Er."
Crowley's smiled broadened. "Why do you think we're here?" He topped off Aziraphale's glass of wine.
Aziraphale's blush grew darker. "Oh. That's... well, I suppose some good came of this after all."
"That's why their new cottage is nice."
"Ah, I see. By the way, dear, when were you going to tell me this was a date?"
"After spending a week with Madame Tracy, I'm surprised you don't automatically assume I'm undressing you with my eyes every time I look at you." He leaned forward and pulled down his sunglasses so Aziraphale could see him wink. "By the way, that would be something she's got right."
Aziraphale laughed, halo glowing. "I suppose after this I ought to let you undress me with your hands?"
Madame Tracy loved their new home, although partially because she hadn't realized it wasn't in Britain.
Shadwell realized this and, more importantly, recognized that Buenos Aires was below the Equator.
Which meant that... that so many people... including those two poofters... were actually north of him...
Well, at least it was harder to categorize everyone as southern. Bless his heart, he'd try his best, but it still made him uneasy. As such Madame Tracy had her work cut out for her, but she didn't mind. After all, it was easier than being a medium, and, well, it was a job that was every day of the week.
Just the way she liked it.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.