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Play The Game

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There are days when it is perfect to read. Usually when it’s a Sunday, overcast (or raining), and tea or cocoa are readily available. Many poets have remarked that reading from May to June or October to November brings the perfect atmosphere for the mind to settle into a good book. Though others would say that colder winter months bring this state of mind around just as well.

Aziraphale however had never paid attention to these theories for he was constantly reading and considered everyday a perfect day for it. Today was no different and the angel was sitting in his study perfectly content and immersed in Les Fleurs du mal, when Crowley came to lean against the doorway.

He watched his angel silently for a moment taking in the scene he had grown to know all too well. Aziraphale in his green velvet wingback chair, tea beside him,never growing too cold and resting on a small doily covered table. A light breeze blew through the curtains, which Crowley kept insisting be tied back to let some light in (to which Aziraphale insisted light wasn’t good for the books and so kept them closed even with the window open). Bookcases lined the walls and a large oriental rug tied it all together with soft pastels and warm browns.

They had been in this loft for almost a year now. Though they still kept their own separate apartments for apparences, they rarely visited them these days. Each had their own study across from each other, and these private spheres were enough to keep their opposing tastes content. The rest of the loft had been a series of compromises which they were both surprised had been easier than imagined. All in all it was quiet and while Crowley relished this he had noticed Aziraphale sighing much more than usual. The angel’s books also seemed to be growing darker, and Crowley noticed more of his own books ending up in the angels hands. He couldn’t tell if the angel was expanding his tastes or in rut, but either way he seemed bored.

Crowley stood up and his loving look turned to smug grin as he walked over and wordlessly placed a marker in the book, before gently closing it and setting it on the table.

“Crowley! You know I can’t stand yo-” Aziraphale was cut off by the demon leaning down and filling the space where Evil Flowers once was.

“Surprise date time love” He said in a soft irritating sing-song voice, before kissing the angel’s nose.

Aziraphale sighed and took Crowley’s now extended hand.

“Oh alright then dear. Where to?” The angel got up and Crowley dropped his hand, making for the door.

“You’ll see soon enough angel! Be ready in 5!”

The car ride was full of guessing games. All going nowhere.

“Oh I give up already! Just tell me!”

Aziraphale was looking out the window of the Bentley trying to gather their whereabouts which were changing to look like the same pasture of sheep copied over several hundred times.

“Nope!” Trust me angel you're gonna love it! You've already gotten a show of it before but now it's time for a real go."

"Crowley are you taking me to a real apocalypse this time?" the angel teased "Our last end of the world date did fall through. And I never even got to use my flaming sword!"

"Actually," The demon clicked his tongue "I'd say, you've used your sword plenty since then." A smug grin curled around his face before disappearing with a playful hit from Aziraphale.

"Fiend! For that you better be right about this date. I could be readin-”

“Oh you’d rather go on with your ‘light’ reading than go out on an adventure with a demon? My angel you have changed! Time was when you’d go out of your way to find me for one of these days. Now you’re content to just keep me locked away!”

“I do not keep you locked away! We went out for lunch two days ago!”

“Right! And you picked at your food! Picked at it! Angel I’ve never seen you NOT eat your lox before!

Aziraphale didn't reply.
"Oh. I just wasn’t all that hungry that day I suppose..I hadn't noticed really.."

Crowley continued.

“I’m just worried is all. I thought you might need a change of pace. Something to get you sorted out... Ooh! And would you look at that! We’re here!”

Aziraphale looked turned to see that they were not in front of a pasture of sheep, or even the apocalypse, but the former satanic nunnery now turned paintball field.

“Oh Crowley you can’t be serious! This is simply a terrible idea! You know I hate this sort of thing!”

They got out of the Bentley and made their way in. Aziraphale stopped at the gate and Crowley turned to him

“Really angel? Cause I think you actually love it. Oh sure you want to hate this sort of sport. But I saw how you looked at that paintball rifle. You WANTED to fire it right back at the bugger that hit ya. You’ll love this! No one will get hurt. There’s no real guns, or even any hallucinations! Just you wait it’ll be al-” Crowley had turned to unlatch the gate when he felt a sting on the back of his neck.

He turned to face a now enlivened Aziraphale in all white paintball gear. Grinning through his mask the angel fired off two more shots toward his adversary. His rifle had golden flames on the side of course.

“Huh. You’re right dear. I DO quite enjoy this.” He continued to fire.

“Oi! That’s-ow! Not fa-! Ow! Oh now you've done it angel! Just you wait! Here’s your judgment day!”

Crowley now had gear of his own. Slick monochrome grey with a slightly darker chrome mask and pads. His glasses were off and his mask was surprisingly not tinted. Aziraphale could see the yellow of his now battle ready eyes.

"Alright! First to get hit 10 times loses. Winner decides next date location. In through the gate, seperate sides, then we go." The demon and the angel stood side by side for a moment before the gate by some miracle or sin unlocked.

“Oh and angel? Those first shots don’t count”

Aziraphale almost said something but lost track when he saw Crowley darted through the open gate, he went left, the angel went right.

They had been here once before. The set up had changed a bit though it still revolved around the abandoned nunnery turned “war zone”. Barrels and netting covered the courtyard. Vines covered the building, and the parts that had been burnt down in the fire had been rebuilt enough to at least be structurally sound.
Aziraphale went into the main building, which had been rebuilt to be fully functional, hoping to find a staircase and get a better view of the field.

He saw a woman lounging at front desk reading a tabloid. The cover was folded over but Aziraphale read ALL IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS AZ-, he couldn’t read the rest. Paintball gear covered the walls of the rental office. Though none looked as nice or as protective as his own. He felt proud for a moment of how he had miracled it so nicely.

“Hello there ma'am I’m looking for the nearest staircase.”

“Go right, then straight, then left” The woman who was wearing all black had a large wide brimmed hat covering the peripheral of her face, she did not turn from her magazine though Aziraphale noticed the deep red of her hair.

“Very good! Thank you for your time!” The angel ran right.

The staircase was easy enough to find with the woman’s instructions, she had been peculiar though.

He opened the door to the stairway and noticed there were four flights. He began to climb them quietly, so as to not alert the demon if he was near. “Why would she be here if the gate was locked? Surely Crowley would have made sure it was- oh!”

As he opened the door to the fourth floor it hit him. It being Corwley’s very planned paintball.

“You’re too gullible angel” He disappeared down the hall.

“Why! You!” The angel huffed as he watched Crowley leave. He needed to focus.

Aziraphale realized that of course Crolwey would play such tricky games. After all they had known each other for 6,000 years,and this had not been the first time they had met in “battle”. Luckily he wasn’t above playing a few himself. He suddenly knew where Crowley was headed and he knew his next move.

Crowley liked to pretend that he had a calm, cool demeanor. He had practiced this act for centuries. Show anger or annoyance but not enjoyment. Don’t laugh unless laughing at someone. With Aziraphale though he had accidentally dropped this the moment he met him, and with that letting his guard down around the angel had become a habit. Oh sure he would try and keep it up when they crossed paths through the early years but eventually crossing paths became more along the lines of Crowley finding Aziraphale and acting like the angel had found him.

Crowley went down a flight of stairs on the other side of the building. He went out and came to a particular hall. It was more narrow than the rest of them and it’s window frames had a curving leaf pattern on their outer edge. The light was soft and paint wasn’t splattered on the walls here.

A year ago, when he was still trying to push thoughts of the angel away. Having to remember to put on the act of frustrated, irritable, ‘don’t call me nice’, demon around him. He had pressed Aziraphale in anger against this wall and it had taken everything to not break character and kiss him right there. Every time he had tried to push the angel away he only realized just how much he wanted him closer.

He heard footsteps and turned. Suddenly with a great force of energy Crowley was thrown against the wall and found that he couldn’t move. Fury rose through him until he saw Aziraphale, hand extended, walking towards him.

“I thought heaven frowned upon cheating” Crowley said through gritted teeth. The energy felt like an electric current running through his body paralyzing him, but not quite hurting.

Aziraphale got close. His eyes flashed and glowed a bright, dangerous silver. Crowley gulped reflexively.

“Nervous?” said the angel, his smile was almost sinister.“I can’t ever imagine why.” He grabbed the demon by his collar, flicked off his visor and leaned in kissing Crowley deeply. With that the paralysis went away, and in its place the demon felt a flow of utter euphoria, which was then cut short with a sharp pain on his side.

He looked down. Aziraphale had fired his gun into the demon’s side. A pink stain was running down his pant leg. For a moment Crowley looked absolutely stunned and betrayed.

“Call me.” He said as he let go of the demon and made his way down the hall.

The angel disappeared through a doorway.

Crowley had never felt more angry and turned on in his life.

The angel was on the roof when he heard the paintball center’s speakers begin to blast “Another One Bites The Dust”

Fired up now eh Crowley? Me to. Let’s see what you’ve got demon. The angel lowered his visor and concentrated on his next move.

“Always taking the high ground angel?”

Crowley came out from behind a chimney. It was probably used for fires and not as part of a satanic crematorium. Probably. He jumped down and Aziraphale grabbed his gun to fire, but it was stuck.

“You jammed my gun!”

The demon smirked “Oh you know tit for tat and all that.” He fired two shots before jumping down from the roof of the building to the ground.

“OH! Do you always have to be so irritatingly reckless?!”

“YES!” He heard the call from below.

Aziraphale noticed that one shot had missed. The score was 2-1 Crowley. The battle was just heating up.

One more shot fired and missed.


Aziraphale decided to move to the other side of the roof. He closed his eyes and felt the energy of his surroundings. He was sensitive to these things. Like when they visited before the area felt ‘loved’. However, there was a concentration of energy that Aziraphale recognized as his demon. Passion might be a better word for it. This passion was behind a pile of barrels covered in a green netting.

Aziraphale moved stealthily along the rooftop and got into position. He noticed Crowley scanning for him. The demon then closed his eyes and Aziraphale noticed his expression change, surprised, as he looked up directly at the angel. It was then that Aziraphale fired two shots, both hitting his demon square in the chest. He then took off across the roof, Crowely’s paintballs trailing behind him each one missing.

Aziraphale jumped down to a fire escape which had just miraculously appeared and ran down it. On the ground he could get a better feel for where Crowley was but Crowley could get a better feel of where he was as well. The match would be speeding up now. Another One Bites the Dust had begun again this time a bit faster.

The rest of the match was fairly standard. Well, as ‘standard’ as paintball matches between supernatural entities can go.

Crowley hit Aziraphale a few times naturally and a few times by tripping him up with the vines and roots growing around the field. Aziraphale on the other hand could find Crowley easily and was quite good at sneaking up on the demon from behind. Eventually it was tied 9-9. By this point “Another one Bites the Dust” had increased dramatically in tempo and sounded almost nightmarish, Crowley loved it, while Aziraphale honestly hadn’t noticed much of a difference.

They were both on the roof again. A storm was rolling in and the scene felt charged with ions and the energy that only two supernatural beings determined to win at paintball could give off. It was growing darker and the wind was picking up. The angel and the demon both gave each other a knowing look and simultaneously the backs of their gear ripped at the seams. Two pairs of wings unfurled and they both shot up into the foreboding sky.

Thunder sounded, and lightning cracked, while the two bobbed and weaved through the sky. Shots were firing one after another with impossible speed. Never having to reload their rifles. Only focusing on their targets. The angel and the demon swirled each other. They both knew the other was cheating the shots to miss, the test was who could do it faster.

Then Aziraphale stopped and smiled at Crowley.

“Back in a flash dear.” The angel shouted before shooting off higher into a dark cloud.

Losing sight of him for a moment Crowely’s expression changed, he heard more thunder. “what on earth are you up to angel?”

There's an expression humans use to calm worried children about thunder. "It's just the angels bowling dear. Nothing to fret." This actually does little to calm children and is on the whole false.

Firstly, bowling was invented by demons. The legions of hell created it to give humans the appearance of playing a sport while actually just lazing about in dark alleys and eating bad hot dogs. Angels despise bowling and the expression in general. They do however love golf which they invented. A sport that relies on miracles but somehow manage to be dull all the same, they consider this a gift.

Secondly thunder is caused by lighting. Which can be caused by angels (when they’re bored or irritated) but is more often caused by changes in pressure and weather conditions. Lighting is seen before thunder as light travels faster than sound, angels however can travel faster than both.

Crowley saw Aziraphale diving through the clouds directly towards him. A flash of lighting following behind Then Aziraphale brought the thunder. A loud crack sounded as he caught hold of the demon and drove him on his back. Together they fell towards the earth

“Feeling reckless dear?” Aziraphale said giddily

Lighting flashed around them and the whole thing felt eerily familiar to Crowley.

Aziraphale laughed, his eyes gleaming bright and excited. The angel was having fun alright but Crowley would never let him complain about his driving again.

Crowley noticed the ground getting closer

“Angel. The ground.”

“Who's going too fast for who now dear?”

“You are!! MIND THE GROUND!”

Airaphale’s smug look turned to a realization of his surroundings

“Oh! Right! Well, here we go!”

A hundred feet before the ground Aziraphale scooped up the demon into his arms and began to slow their speed so as to not discorporate them both. He spread his wings out and they landed safely.

Crowley looked down at his chest and saw blue. He realized that Aziraphale had taken his final shot when he had crashed into him. The angel had won.

Aziraphale put Crowley down, grinning like anything.

“Did it hurt?”

“Hurt? No, but I’ll never let yo-”

“When you fell from heaven?” The angel interrupted trying not to laugh through his punchline.

Crowley looked utterly dumbfounded.

"Did you.. Did you just plummet us, full speed to the earth! For a sodding pick up line?!"

His mock anger changed and he grinned wildly.

“My angel.. you had fun.. didn’t you?! I knew you would.”

Aziraphale looked proud, "I heard it the other day and found it applicable... So yes. Yes I did."

Crowley folded his wings back into himself and sighed, thinking. This absolute fool. I really can’t stay mad at him can I?

He walked over wiped some paint off the angels cheek, then ran a hand through the angel’s curls. He hadn’t seen Aziraphale this fired up in ages. The angel had quite literally lit up again.

“Ah well. I guess you had to do it then, right? For the pun of it all I suppose.” He kissed the angel’s forehead and then pressed it to his own.

Aziraphale wrapped his arms around the demon’s waist and Crowley folded into him.

"Did it hurt when I fell from heaven? You know? Not a scratch. But falling for you?” The demon buried his face into Aziraphale’s neck. “Well that's been nothing but a pain in my ass." He mumbled this into his ear, feeling suddenly exhausted.

Aziraphale smiled and his hold on Crowley tightened “Mmm is that so dear?”

“Absolutely. Wouldn't trade it though...I quite like pain...Well your sort I suppose.” The demon’s rambling made Aziraphale realize it was probably time for the demon to have a nap. He might even join him.

The adrenaline rush of the fall had worn off and the two noticed it had begun to rain. They stayed there for a moment at the gate, letting it fall on them, washing away the paint and muck from the day. They'd dry themselves later.

Aziraphale let Crolwey go but held his hand beginning to lead him to the car.

“I had an absolutely wonderful time dear.” He turned “And to think I thought you got all your dating tips from Queen lyrics.” He gave a smug smile “Don't think I didn't notice when you suggested we go take tango lessons!”

"I thought you never listened to the lyrics..."

"Oh after a while they stick with you."

The two continued walking and by some miracle they were both dry when they made it to the car.

It was several days later.

“Come on angel we can materialize whatever else we need while we’re there!”

Crowley was waiting for Aziraphale at the door. He had a small black leather bag packed, mostly for aesthetic reasons.

Aziraphale came to the door with a small bag as well. His was mostly filled with books.

It had taken a bit of arranging to make this trip happen. They both didn’t want to break the peace they’d had for a year, but as they were both learning, sometimes things were worth the risk. They could always handle the worst together. They left a note at each of their places. Stating that they had noticed the other had something strange being planned a few systems over. They hoped either side didn’t care enough to stop by and read them.

They wouldn’t.

The two took each other by the hand.

“Ready for your winning date angel?”

“Absolutely dear.”

“Then we’re off!”

They looked at each other, smiled, and dematerialized. Beginning their trip through the stars. It wouldn’t take too long angels (and demons) can travel faster than light after all.

It’s said that no matter where you go, every day is a perfect day to read in Alpha Centauri. Aziraphale however would hardly touch a single book during the entire visit and furthermore hardly even noticed. An adventure with his love was better than any book out there, though he’d certainly never let him know that.