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quid pro quo

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Outside, the storm redoubled in force, sending rivulets of rainwater down the windowpanes. Crowley shivered involuntarily; sometimes it was a disadvantage to be a snake.

"Last of the bottle?" Aziraphale offered.

"Mm." Crowley topped off his glass and took a sip, letting the warmth of the alcohol seep in. "Next round's mine, I think. Chardonnay?"

"All right."

Several glasses later, the cold damp had dissipated into a comfortable haze. Crowley blinked lazily, content to let his attention wander as Aziraphale rambled on about the Renaissance, although he had to roll his eyes when the angel started in on Leonardo da Vinci. Apparently old infatuations died hard.

"He was very talented," Aziraphale protested.

"Oh, yes," Crowley agreed, wrinkling his nose with distaste. "Of course, all that dismemberment of cadavers didn't hurt, either. I'm surprised that didn't disturb you any."

"Human anatomy is important for artistic realism, my dear," Aziraphale replied placidly.

"Dead. Bodies," Crowley said, enunciating slowly. Aziraphale merely sipped at his wine. "Sometimes I wonder about you, angel."

"Likewise. I never thought you would be one for squeamishness, given your side's reputation for dismembering live bodies."

Crowley winced. "Oh, thanks," he said, and spent the next few minutes determinedly tuning the angel out as he went on a physiological tangent. Perhaps it was time for another drink.

No, scratch that; perhaps it was time for another bottle. Crowley snapped his fingers surreptitiously. Aziraphale, preoccupied with his monologue about the contents of the Mütter Museum, didn't notice.

He lost the thread of the conversation as the candles in the back room of the bookshop wavered, burning dangerously low. Not for the first time, he cursed Aziraphale's old-fashioned habits. "'s a good thing you're an angel, angel," he muttered, "otherwise you'd already have died in a fire."

Aziraphale giggled, his spectacles sliding down his nose. "You're drrrrrunk," he proclaimed.

"Am not!"

"You are."

"Not!" Crowley peered at the tally marks he'd drawn on the (dusty) window, and sneezed. "It was only four- no, five bottles of the stuff."

Aziraphale raised an eyebrow. "Well, then, what were we talking about? If you aren't- hic!- drunk, as you say."

"Dying in a fire!" Crowley sniffed indignantly. "I just said that."

"No, that was your tan- tangerine- side-thing. What were we talking about before that?"

"Something disgusting, of course. B-" Crowley paused, thinking. "Buggies? No, bodies- babies. Baby body, baby Jesus, baby-"

"- disgusting is hardly the word I'd associate with the Baby Jesus-"

"- baby in, inna jar. Of honey!" Crowley said triumphantly, then turned faintly green.

Aziraphale sighed. "Really, my dear, I didn't know you would alert the em- embolism- embalmers when I told you about the preservative effects."

"I didn't do anything!" Crowley protested. "The Egyptians figured that one out on their own. Or, wait, wassat the Greeks? They did it to Alexander th'Great anyway..."

Aziraphale harrumphed, eying him suspiciously. Crowley had no idea what put that look on his face, really. He attempted a winning smile.

"Oh, don't give me that innocent look; you know it doesn't work on me."

"I didn't!" Crowley grumped. "Well, fine, I might have been poking about while slightly ineeeebriated, but still."

"Ha! Got you," Aziraphale gloated. "I knew the Bodies Exhibit was fair play on my part."

"I- you- that was-" Crowley stuttered to a halt. "You sneaky bastard."

Aziraphale grinned and toasted him with the last of the wine before he could reach for the bottle again. Crowley sat back, disgruntled.

"S'your round, angel. If we're playing tit for tat, you owe me for that- that- grandtumor display."

Aziraphale choked. "Grandtumor?"

"Well, what else would you call tumors with teeth and hair?"

"Actually the medical term is-" Crowley glared at him. "- mm, well. When you put it that way, I s'pose I do." Aziraphale steepled his fingers for a moment, smiling. "How do you feel about honeyed wine?"

"Urk," said Crowley.