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Bowling Along

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“Aziraphale?”

“Yes?”

“I like your friends.”

“Good, because we’re going bowling next week.”

-- Last of the Atlantean Wine

* * * * *

Aziraphale jumped up and down with glee as the last of his pins toppled. Crowley took a deep breath, and refused to rise to the bait. Not in front of that pretentious, irritating interloper. He shot an evil glance over at Islington, who was marking off Aziraphale's score languidly.

"Good Guys 1, Bad Guy, 0," Aziraphale crowed.

"That's not how bowling is scored," Crowley snapped. "and if you think that -- moron -- is a good guy, you're more hopeless than I thought."

"Islington is an angel," Aziraphale said. "And angels are good. Therefore, Islington is good. Just a little misguided."

"Don't try your schoolboy logic on me," Crowley said. "He's a weird freak, is what he is. And he's cheating."

"It, Crowley."

Crowley looked at him blankly.

"What?"

"It. Islington prefers not to have human gender assigned to it. Which is correct when you think about it, I mean it's purely a matter of human language that we refer to ourselves with the masculine."

"Speak," Crowley said, offended, "for yourself."

"Excuse me, Vile Abomination," Islington murmured, drifting past them with a bowling ball in its pale hands.

It stood a long while, looking down the lane in silent contemplation. Crowley wondered what would happen if he made the earth open up beneath it. The bastard would probably just thank him for the shortcut home.

"What is the matter with you tonight? You're so grumpy," Aziraphale said.

"I don't like that freak," Crowley said. "And you said you'd play on my side," he continued, bitterly.

"Oh, Crowley," Aziraphale said in sympathy. "I am on your side."

Crowley raised an eyebrow.

"Well, morally, at least," Aziraphale continued.

Crowley raised the other eyebrow. Aziraphale seemed a little flustered.

"Oh, look," he cried, obviously glad to change the subject, "Islington's knocked down all its skittles!"

"He's -- it's cheating. And do you have to call them skittles? Two against one and you incompetents still have to cheat."

Aziraphale patted his hand.

"It's lonely. I'm being nice. You should be nice to it too, it's my friend."

"Huh. You never want to come out with my friends."

"Your friends are very unpleasant, and anyway, last time they were extremely offensive to me."

"That was a century ago, and they were just giving a friendly greeting."

Aziraphale rolled his eyes as Islington returned and whispered in his ear. From the way the psycho was looking at him, Crowley assumed it wasn't saying anything polite.

"I'll be there in a minute, dear," Aziraphale said, and turned his attention back to Crowley.

"Really," he said, "I'm not such an idiot as you seem to think. A handshake is a friendly greeting. A pat on the shoulder is a friendly greeting. A French kiss is an attempt to embarrass the only angel in the party."

Crowley successfully kept the grin off his face.

"I'll tell them to keep their tongues to themselves. We could go out for pizza -- lots of humans around, everyone on their best behaviour?"

"Maybe. No turning the toppings to bits of babies, though."

"Promise. Now go on back to your friend, he looks like he wants to complain about me."

Crowley picked up a ball and aimed it straight and true down the lane. He'd show the bastards. At the last moment the ball veered to the side, barely clipping a single pin. It wobbled and rotated, but didn't fall. Crowley didn't even bother looking over at the angels. Their whispers and giggles were bad enough without having to see the smugly innocent faces as well.