Aziraphale was always keen to study the arts, but it was always a toss-up between art and drama; as a keen history student, Aziraphale loved the culture behind both as they go hand-in-hand with one another throughout the centuries, yet were two respected creative subjects in their own right. Ultimately, however, Aziraphale decided to continue his academic drama career from the previous year, considering he had gotten an A for his performance and an A* for his written assessment – a feat that he was largely proud of, especially when considering his fellow drama student, Crowley, had been battling for the top spot in the class against him since the start of the course and the other student had been out of getting the same grade on his paper by two marks. It was a memory which had brought a chuckle up his throat as he walked the halls to his first drama lesson of the academic year. Already the excited bouts of laughter and random voices - barely short of being labelled shrieks - echoed off of the drama building’s walls from the end of the corridor which bombarded the year seventeen-year-old like a blanket; all-consuming and familiar.
When arriving, Aziraphale realised he was just early enough to be on time, yet late enough to see that – when he opened the door which was plastered with Drama Studio 2 in silver letters – he wasn’t the first person there. The matte black walls and floor were a stark contrast to his much lighter suit – a simple tan ensemble, which may have been the reason that, not long after he had entered the room and dropped his satchel in the corner, he heard an all-too-familiar voice tease “Not the first one here, angel? Now,” the drawl continued “what would your parents say?” The very sound had a roll of the eyes to be the blonde's first initial port of response. Turning to see the redhead, a sigh fell from his lips, now with less fondness and more of a theatrical element to it; Crowley, of course, used his nickname without shame nor care if it embarrassed Aziraphale at the memory. “Must you call me that? It’s been five years since that play.” The agonising memory was one he would rather forget.
“Five years?” Crowley asked “Already? Well, it is timeless.” Crowley’s relaxed posture – lounging against the wall with his arm elevated on a shelf which held filled A-level folders from previous students - added to the arrogant aura which surrounded him wherever he went; from the swivel of his hips to the soft and omnipotent sounding tone Crowley used around him had the feeling of the other boy swell together to be the embodiment of pride. “I believe only Gabriel and yourself remember that play.” Brushing past the other, Aziraphale could feel the black floral velvet suit blazer brush against the skin of his hand, reminding him of what his mother always reminded Aziraphale about the Crowley/Crawly family – they were the rich and selfish minority the bible warned them about. If he was honest, Aziraphale never understood many teaching his mother spouted on about as if she had memorised the holy book off by heart since she was a child, but he could never question her in fear of being labelled a bad child – a common phrase said about Crowley. The idea that Crowley was ‘bad’ or ‘delinquent’ was something drilled into Aziraphale by many, including his mother and teachers who saw the redhead often try and gain Aziraphale’s attention. Yet when the taller boy was the one to make him smile and only had ever been kind – even if he was often annoyed to be called out on it- doubt rose in Aziraphale's mind on the individuals' ability to judge character, such as his mother and tutors.
“Gabriel ‘you took my namesake’ Grace - how could I forget?’” The imitation of the whiny then-ten-year-old did have a chuckle leaving the smaller teen's lips without another thought. Aziraphale was happy to give up the role of Angel Gabriel in the end of year six play, but the teachers refused to allow the entitled child have his own way and made Aziraphale keep the role after what seemed like hours of insisting that 'no, really,I don't mind' and 'Gabriel really wants it and I'm not very good at learning lines anyway!'. The latter was an obvious lie, even then, but Aziraphale always justified the lie by saying it would have made someone happy, so it couldn't be that bad. Aziraphale allowed a controlled, yet genuine chuckle leave his mouth "Quite, but I have to take the blame," he admitted, causing a arched eyebrow to be shot his way "his controlling attitude must have come from somewhere - I'm sure being 'promoted' to a co-producer did not help his ego." As Crowley opened his mouth to respond, the very student stood stiff as an ironing board against the door meters away "Speak of the devil-"
"He is said to be 'orderly and sweet' - too much to be the devil," Azirphale said, quoting his mother, a fact unknown to the boy beside him. If he had been drinking, Crowley may have choked on it; he refused to believe that Aziraphale would be sweet towards the very guy who dictated who had the right to speak as if he was God himself. Crowley always entertained the thought that Gabriel would do amazingly in politics; he was a soul-sucking, ass-kissing bastard, but he couldn't say that Gabriel lied, which seemed to be a main requirement these days. Scoffing, Crowley reached up to the shelf which Aziraphale seemed to be having some trouble in accessing - glad his back was facing the imposing figure who seemed to be in conversation with the teacher "Really, angel? He may have a biblical name, but he's too much of a hard-ass to be anything else." The tone was anything but happy at the idea of Gabriel being favoured just because he was 'orderly'.
"Oh, don't look disappointed," Aziraphale smiled softly to his not-so-friend and Crowley had to grip the folder in his hand to stop it from dropping "my mother only likes him because our parents are close."
"That explains so much," he murmured, letting his grip loosen as his stomach somewhat returned to normal before passing the binder over, shaking his head when he knew a 'thank you' was on the horizon; he didn't do nice things to be thanked. Still, a soft "I'm grateful," was heard amongst the chaos of the drama studio - once the redhead registered the words, after looking to his right, Crowley no longer saw the bundle of platinum waves, instead seeing the figure meander towards the people ,who Crowley knew, were apart of the book club last year. The door closed with Gabriel gone after delivering some message from the politics class (probably a room change or something, Crowley mused). No matter what the play was , no matter who he was playing in said production, Crowley just hoped that the play would be able to be performed with little interaction with Aziraphale onstage after what had happened last time.
"Do you remember the play?" Crowley remembered overhearing someone being asked not too long before exiting the written exam - which he was sure he aced despite hearing many of his classmates decide that the questioning was not only unfair, but the timing was also botched. "That was a disaster! This was what I was hoping would save my grade and now I'm going to barely pass!"
Although he was taught by his father that guilt was felt by those who were deemed too 'soft' for real life as an adult, Crowley felt the feeling rush through him as he knew the play's ruined run was partially his fault, but was overshadowed by the main actor not rehearsing his line; the horrid acting was what actually bumped up everyone's grades as the invigilator realised how everyone had to adapt on the spot - even Crowley's grade improved despite missing a few cues (because Aziraphale was distracting him by being the most beautiful extra on the stage). Again, everyone blamed the leading male role for the missed cues; that he should have felt guilty for, but if the guy had just learnt the lines, then he wouldn't have found himself to be the blame for it all anyway.
The roles were predetermined based on how well everyone had done the previous year (unless they were newly added to the class, in which case some auditions were held, but this year seemed to be only two people short from the year 11 class and, therefore, no auditions seemed to be taking place) which was beneficial because Crowley hated auditioning, not to mention those who were too shy to go for a leading role always were blindsided despite their talent. This year seemed to be lucky for Crowley, however, as he snapped back to reality hearing his name "Aziraphale and Anth-" A cough from the back of the classroom cut the teacher off before Crowley could even wince at the name "I apologise, Crowley will be our leading roles -" Oh shit "- in the twenty first century take on Romeo and Juliet." Applause and congratulation were falling deaf on his ears. He was fucked.