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New Age Romeo and Juliet

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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.

Chapter Text

As to be predicted the first lesson of the year was full of mindless chatter from the teacher going over the course which would include the end of year essay about a piece of drama which the class would attend together on a school trip, but the other half was the play – Romeo and Juliet – which had taken the place of the devising piece of drama which the previous years had done.  

Crowley had barely been paying attention considering  Aziraphale  had been sitting opposite him while staring at the teacher with engaging interest – ever the studious child in the class, Crowley suspected the blond teen wished to be ahead of the curve and try and figure out what the play which they intended to see later in the year would be in order to research the production early. Himself on the other hand? Well, despite trying to best  Aziraphale  last year, Crowley couldn’t see the point in starting so early considering his other subjects were essay packed and needed much more attention if Crowley could spare it – not to mention elevating any unnecessary stress would be ideal.  Crowley’s cheek rested on the palm of his hand, gently causing his hair to fall in front of his eyes as his knee nervously began to bounce slightly. Silently, he couldn’t help but think  their drama teacher had seemingly betrayed him;  the Mr, Davis, who was still going through the logistics of the next two years, knew   Aziraphale  was more than just some acquaintance from  the two teen’s  shared time at school together, but used to be a  childhood  friend until their parents got involved when they had gotten ‘too’ close ;  if that was because (at least on Crowley’s side) a crush was blooming or whether it was just because they were influencing the other in a way the respective parents disagreed with was u nknown.  

Crowley had only let  any information be said  because Mr. D avis  had been concerned about Crowley’s tendency to get into altercations with Gabriel  while  often  drifting  from his own line of friends because Crowley no longer felt like he truly fit in with the crowd at all  which would cause the teacher to phone home. Crowley would do anything if it meant avoiding his father’s conversations concerning school; despite the two being very different and undoubtedly hating one another, Mrs.Fell and  Mr.Crawly  could agree that their boys spending time together was the worst idea.  Aziraphale’s  mo ther was  an absolute control freak who would fret over her son at the very  utter  of Crowley’s name in her home – as if he would haunt the home and make her life hell just by  being mentioned Crowley’s father would refuse to even have  Aziraphale  mentioned also, as if the child had offended Mr. Crawly personally. Personally, Crowley was sure that their parents hated one another for reasons which had nothing to do with their children, but  Aziraphale  didn’t need the extra stress  of his mother’s worried panics, nor did Crowley feel up to the hour-long lectures he would receive.  Now, the teacher had cast the two roles despite knowing this.    

As the auburn hair fell from behind his ear, Crowley fished out a hairband from his pocket with an irritated, yet almost silent, groan, tying back the hair which was hiding behind his ears. The half up- half down hairdo was slightly annoying to say the least, but if it had his father’s disapproval then Crowley would keep it for as long as his nerves could handle it – it had been a good year by now. “My mother always hated that hairstyle. Said you looked like a biker from the 1950’s,”  Aziraphale’s  hushed voice had broken Crowley’s train of thought – he hadn’t realised the other had been looking at him, but could stop the humoured smile when he saw the blue eyes filled with mirth – he wasn’t the only one who liked to upset their parent, albeit  Aziraphale  took a more subtle approach “I think it rather suits you.”   

“I’d hope so,” he muttered back while pulling the chair he was sitting on closer to the row in front so the two didn’t catch Mr Davis’s attention “I may be doing this to annoy my father, but if it looked bad, I would have to sacrifice the upper hand.” Crowley’s humorous smile turned into a wider grin as he saw  Aziraphale’s  shoulders shake ever so gently as the blond refrained a giggle. The remainder of the lesson continued like that – the two chatting quietly and trying not to laugh at random comments the other person made – with the Davis obviously ignoring the two despite telling multiple other students to listen. Nearing the end of the lesson, Crowley looked up while the teacher raised an eyebrow at him after Crowley had released an audible chuckle, yet the lack of warning had Crowley certain the casting was somewhat persuaded by the teacher’s external motives considering Romeo and Juliet was typically a male and female role respectively, yet had made the (possibly) highly controversial decision to cat two boys for the respective roles.   

The joyful atmosphere was shattered by the bell and the knowledge that Gabriel would be behind the drama door within two minutes to ‘pick up’  Aziraphale ; Crowley didn’t know what his deal was, but it was like Gabriel had an agenda to be every parent’s favourite person despite the lack of care of  Aziraphale  as a person. Disappointment turned into anger at the thought.   

“Are you coming, Crowley?”  Aziraphale  asked as he stood, turning back to his childhood friend with a twinkle in his eye. For a moment, he wanted to say yes and to hopefully guide  Aziraphale  from his ‘group’ which would soon congregate outside of the building, but Gabriel  would take the opportunity to cause chaos  by telling Mrs. Fell of  Aziraphale’s  choice in company, which was the last thing either of them needed   

“No,” he said, and quickly followed with “I need to speak to Mr.D, I lost my copy of the play from last year and need another.” The smile faltered, but - upon hearing the excuse - reappeared in understanding. With a simple ‘see you soon’,  Aziraphale  collected his things and left. The room was silent when Crowley reclined in his chair, catching the teacher’s attention   

“You realise you need to get a move on, right?”  

“Do you have a class next?” Crowley asked, unphased. Knowing that, despite it being a new year, Crowley would hardly care for a late on the first date, Mr. Davis sighed and shook his head “Not until third period. What’s got you suddenly so lethargic?”   

Now that was a question and a half; there were many things, but ultimately it was the knowledge that, outside of this room,  Aziraphale  and himself had to resume roles that they hated “I do more acting outside of this room, that’s what.” Crowley wasn’t one for poetics, nor did he like the idea of sounding to dramatic ironically, but Mr. Davis had heard his whole ‘tragic backstory’ concerning his ever-expecting father and so Crowley had little concerns “Here,  Aziraphale  and I get to be friends, but then class ends and he ignores me the best he can.”  

“Why don’t you tell him-”  

“Because it’s not his fault,” he groaned, head rolling as he stopped reclining and sat forward “His mother is as overbearing as a mother hen – and I'm sure she would happily pluck out my eyes for being friends with her son.”  

“Then spend more time here," Davis' voice was somewhat exasperated, as if the solution was obvious "practice, rehearse lines, go over the thematic ideas of the play and take control of lighting suggestions if you really have to. You two are the leads, it’s appropriate for you to do so.”   

“We would get little done in a few after school sessions, so what’s the point?" A pregnant pause fell over them for a moment. "You did this on purpose, didn’t you?” His voice was unsurprised, but slightly amused   

“Your class is waiting for you,” Mr. Davis said with a non-committal tone “Go before I say you were in the common room rather than your lesson.” Crowley huffed, the facade of his annoyed exterior being put on again, but the irritated aura was largely gone at the idea. Collecting his own things, Crowley left with a smirk, checking his timetable before rushing off to Psychology.