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Anywhere The Wind Blows
Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me
G, slash, Crowley/Aziraphale. In the park with Bohemian Rhapsody. A day in the life of supernatural beings.
It was bright and sunny and August Bank Holiday. A lovely day for a road closure or three.
Crowley was always one for the generic annoyance, the well-timed act of evil that inconvenienced and infuriated lots of people. He was especially good at spontaneous and highly dangerous malfunctions in the National Grid, critically out-of-rhythm traffic lights, and fire alarms that went off at three am for no immediately apparent reason. Occasionally, he branched out into hitherto-unknown-to-science-flu epidemics in August, radios that randomly decided to broadcast nothing but Turkish pop music, and computer viruses that turned months of work into lines of text that ran something like this:
However, the demon was aware that he was unusual in his approach. He liked causing havoc – it appealed to his sense of the dramatic – but he’d never really gone for the individual line of attack. There were some of his colleagues who preferred to stake out just one human, or pair of humans, and slowly, systematically, carefully, by way of death, destruction, and divorce, bring the world crashing down around said human or pair of humans.
Crowley always claimed he didn’t have the patience for that. Individual tempting was not Something He Did, and That was That.
“What about me?” Aziraphale asked, blandly.
“You?” asked Crowley, and began to explain with devastating slowness. “You, angel, are an angel. You… don’t… tempt. Should I go over it again?”
“My dear, I’m sure you know exactly what I meant. Not my tempting of others, but rather your tempting of myself.” Aziraphale looked innocent, which was not something he found very difficult.
“I’ve never tempted you,” Crowley said with disdain. “A hopeless case, I would’ve said.”
“With your permission, I beg to differ. You have tempted me on many an occasion.”
“I’m sure I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” Crowley said lazily.
“I’m sure you do.”
“And I’m sure this conversation is growing wearisome.” Crowley’s eyes narrowed. “Get to the point, angel.”
“Don’t call me that,” said Aziraphale with some irritation. “People turn round.”
He was right. As they were in public view at the time, sitting on a bench together in Hyde Park, curious picnickers’ ears pricked up at the mode of address the demon used. A more incongruous term of endearment could scarcely have been used, particularly as the pair were glaring daggers at each other.
“Do you think,” Crowley asked, “that our situation is due to temptation?”
“I haven’t Fallen,” Aziraphale said, thoughtfully. “I don’t think so, anyhow. I’m sure I’d have felt it if I had. They say it hurts. Not that I associate with many people who’ve gone through it, though, present company excepted, of course, so what I’ve heard is strictly… ah… hearsay, that is to say second-hand opinion…”
“Angel!” Crowley hissed. It is very difficult to hiss a word without any sibilance in it whatsoever, but Crowley managed it.
Nearby, people twitched. The demon hadn’t bothered to moderate his tones.
“Really, Crowley, you should be more discreet,” Aziraphale chastised.
Crowley repressed the urge to slap him. Not that it wouldn’t give him brownie points, but they were already attracting more attention than was strictly necessary. “Aziraphale,” he growled, “if you don’t stop talking, I’m going to have to kill you.”
“You can’t…” Aziraphale began.
He stopped as a new and ever more evil look came into the demon’s eyes.
“Sorry,” said Aziraphale. “What were we talking about?”
“We were talking about temptation,” Crowley said patiently.
The angel was silent, seemingly deep in thought. “So you say you don’t tempt me.”
Crowley shook his head. “No. Would I lie to you?”
“As soon as look at me,” replied Aziraphale evenly.
“Well, I wouldn’t,” said Crowley stubbornly, and shook his head. “I wouldn’t tempt you. I might lie to you, in a good cause.”
“I believe you. Why?”
“Why do you believe me? I don’t know, that’s a matter for you and your God.”
Aziraphale was the one to shake his head this time. “No, my dear. Why would you not tempt me? Surely I am just another angel in the eyes of Hell? Surely you could make me Fall, if you wanted?”
Crowley shifted and looked uncomfortable. “Yeah.”
“So why don’t you?”
Crowley gave him a Look. A long, searching, penetrating look, born of thousands of years of dealing with the Devil himself on an almost-daily basis. Aziraphale gazed mildly back. Matters rested there for a short while.
“Because,” Crowley said finally, somewhat defeated, “I don’t want to. Happy now?”
Aziraphale shook his head. “No. Tell me why.”
“I don’t want you to Fall, Aziraphale, because I’m deeply, hopelessly in love with you and couldn’t bear immortality without you by my side.”
“Thought not,” said Aziraphale, and began to smile. The demon did the same, and after a few more seconds of staring at each other smiling, they both began to laugh gently, as even humans will do.
“You don’t tempt me, do you?” asked Aziraphale after a time.
“I do, in a way,” Crowley said thoughtfully. “But you let yourself be tempted.”
“It’s a fine line we walk,” Aziraphale suggested.
“Yes. It’s not as simple as temptation. And then, there’s always distinctions made for lovers.”
“But you don’t love me.”
This point in the conversation seemed to reassure them both, and they drew closer on the bench. As usual, the angel’s head rested on the demon’s shoulder and not the other way around.
Relaxing with the familiar weight and presence of Aziraphale nearby, Crowley amused himself by observing the passers-by. Crowley reasoned that he could determine their political affiliations by their reactions to the angel and demon together on the bench. The right-wingers sniffed, pursed their lips and turned away, whilst the liberals brightened and gave the pair of them ‘we’re so proud of you!’ smiles.
“Aziraphale…” said the demon, when this latest amusement palled.
“Yes, my dear?” Aziraphale said evenly.
“You don’t love me, do you?”
Aziraphale paused, and Crowley suddenly experienced rising panic. When the angel sighed thoughtfully and said, “Yes,” the demon felt the panic blend with nausea.
He barely had time to realise he was a demon and supposed to like inflicting pain before Aziraphale spoke. “Yes,” he said again, “but you’ve got to take into account who I am. I have to love everything.”
“Everything?” Crowley repeated faintly.
“Everything,” said Aziraphale emphatically. “Slugs, even. Bacteria. Hyphae.”
“Hyphae?” Crowley said, aware he was becoming an echo.
“Thread-like structures that make up fungi,” Aziraphale said dreamily. “And I have to love them.”
Crowley nodded slowly. “So. You love everything, even slugs and bacteria and… hyphae.”
“And you,” Aziraphale said.
“You.” The angel shifted slightly, and more of his weight pressed on the demon. “Bacteria and slugs… and you.”
His voice trailed off and dissipated in the cool air. The day was wearing on to a close. Crowley was only just noticing he was being compared to slugs.
Around them, people were picking up their picnic things and ambling off in the direction of the sunset. Aziraphale watched them go, the light reflecting in his eyes. In these brief moments of dusk, there was something of the celestial glory lingering around his face and hair.
Only Crowley noticed it. Gently, with both arms, he moved Aziraphale off him. “Time to go,” he suggested. The angel acquiesced without a great deal of comment, and together, they began making their way across the park. Crowley was humming distractedly. After a few bars, Aziraphale couldn’t help but recognise the melody and join in.
“…is this just fantasy?”
Birds sang at the angelic presence and then fell out of trees at the presence of Crowley. No-one else saw this phenomenon and commented on it; they were all mysteriously looking the other way.
“…escape from reality…”
No-one was in denial, no-one felt more comfortable than they let on on a summer evening in the park, no-one ever thought that after a thousand years this was something more than an Arrangement, and no-one, no-one at all, loved anyone else.
They reached the edge of the park just as night was falling. They took their leave of each other on their usual amicable terms, promising to meet as soon as another moment of religious ecstasy and/or diabolical possession was requested by up there or down below. If their hands brushed and stayed in contact just a moment too long as they parted, neither commented on it.
Someone was in his heaven.
All was well with the world.
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