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Dad Omens

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~1~

It's been speculated that there are an infinite number of universes, each branching off into infinite paths with each infinite choice every being makes causing an infinite number of ripples and infinite additional branches.

But after you speculate on that too long 'infinite' sort of loses all meaning.

Suffice to say: this is true, but most of these universes have a sufficient... inevitability where the paths return into one, those decisions that were made not actually being nearly as important as the people making them might have given them credit for.

This is not a story of one of those inevitabilities, at least not in the expected sense. Certain plans were, in fact, inevitable. They just sometimes took a lot longer getting on with it than you might expect.

On this particular night, a demon known as Crowley had been handed over The Adversary, a small child of a few hours old, and had received his instructions to deliver said child to a small convent to St. Beryl in Tadfield (actually the home of an order of Satanic Nuns who were tasked with delivering said Antichrist). Crowley was none too pleased with this assignment, owing to the fact that he rather liked Earth and all the little pleasures thereon, but orders were orders and he had made his way in his beautifully preserved custom Bentley arrived at the appointed Convent. Rather than picking up the basket that contained The Adversary, he instead picked the squalling infant up out of the back seat and shushed him with all the force a demon who had once been a snake who had once been an angel could muster. The Adversary did, in fact, shush.

He found himself greeted by a man he would later come to know as Arthur Young, husband to Deidre Young, but at the moment he was simply 'man outside with a pipe'.

"Has it started?"

"I think they were, ah, getting on with it, Doctor."

Crowley frowned, confused, but this was hidden by his ever present sunglasses, but then realized that of course a strange man come in the middle of the night to a birthing would, in fact, likely be a doctor. "Yes, well, quite."

"Is... is that your baby?" Arthur asked, confused by the baby swaddled in Crowley's left arm.

"Long story," Crowley answered without much thought and headed in, in search of Satanic Nuns so he could get on with his God's Blessed day and move on.

It was at this point that Crowley entered the convent and began to wander, only to be greeted a few steps down by a particularly frantic looking nun. "Ma-Master Crowley! There's... been a bit of a problem we could use your... expertise?"

Crowley didn't know what sort of expertise he was supposed to have, but he did follow her, and was brought to the infamous 'Room 4' where Harriet Dowling was attempting to deliver her baby (hence forth, Baby A, for clarity). He noted the problem almost instantly: breech birth, risk of umbilical prolapse, at least he thought that was the technical term for it now: feet down, risk of brain damage due to lack of oxygen, and while he supposed Baby A was generally thought of as expendable, he would still need to be delivered live for the deception to work.

Harriet Dowling then gave the most hellish scream Crowley had heard in at least a week and he fought down the reflexive urge to tell her to shut up, and then did it anyway. "Oh, do shut up!"

He didn't even feel vaguely bad about it, and he ignored the Ambassador on the teleconference who told him not to talk to his wife like that.

"Right, well..." He spent a few moments attempting to get his bearings only to realize he was still carrying The Adversary in one arm and he offhandedly gave the child to one of the nearby nuns.

After that, despite the lack of his actually needing to do so, he was then proffered a pair of gloves and a mask, which he donned for appearance sake. The concept of a demon familiar with childbirth might be odd to most, but there is a Very Good Reason for it, and one that Crowley rarely thought about, but as much as he might occasionally sneak around behind the back of his superiors to do such things, he figured there was absolutely no harm this time: it was for the Greater Evil, after all.

"Prep for potential cesarean," he said to his left, just because that seemed fitting. "Dilation?"

The answer was favorable enough for him to attempt to externally rotate Baby A, with an internal rotation for plan B, and cesarean for a last resort since apparently this room would be the surgical suite and even Crowley had standards.

Over the course of the next hour and a half Crowley successfully turned Baby A sufficiently to deliver him head first and with no cord entanglement and he sighed the sigh of an occult being who had already had a very long day thank you and just wanted it to be over.

But not too soon, Armaggedon and all.

"I need a drink." He then left the nuns to sort out the rest of it all and sat outside of the room with an annoyed and tired expression.

It was at this point that the nun who had been holding The Adversary for Crowley very helpfully - she thought - exchanged Baby A for The Adversary, and then brought Baby A out and very helpfully pawned him off on Crowley. Crowley, slightly surprised by the various birthing goop on the child now, thought nothing much of it due to the fact that he had just delivered a baby, and thus did the only logical thing: miracled them both clean.

Another nun then popped out of Room 3, saw him and the child, gave a very unhelpful: 'Master Crowley!' and then entreated him to go into Room 3 owing to slow progress on the child that Deidre Young was delivering (henceforth Baby B for clarity).

There were a great many tragedies that can occur when it came to childbirth, and Crowley was aware of most of them. As a rule, he was strictly opposed to causing them. He would very much never admit it, but the thing about childbirth had really been a low blow for Her. Deidre Young continued her exertions, but Crowley could already tell it was in vain, there was no life inside of her.

A doctor wasn't meant to know that with what limited resources were available to him, however, so he simply continued his instructions toward her, perhaps a touch more tenderly than he would have normally. All the while, internally, he was gritting his teeth and cursing Her. It was almost as if he was being punished again, just a little stab right into a very old wound.

Crowley eased the body that might have been a child from her, the lack of squalling from it was damning to anyone with any experience in this matter. It was still warm, having just come from a body, after all, but it felt... vacant. Nothing was home.

"Is he--?" Deidre was beginning to come around as Crowley held the thing that was never going to be a baby.

It was at that precise moment that The Adversary was being looked at in rapt awe by the nun who had previously held him for Crowley. Something was Not Quite Right. He knew this, even at only a few hours old, and in the very first instance of pushing reality to protect those he would come to love, the recently departed soul of Baby B that would later come to be known as John Young in this reality, and Warlock Dowling in many others, was shoved unceremoniously back into his body.

Baby B then did the only logical thing for a less than hour old baby whose soul was just shoved around: he started to scream.

Crowley nearly dropped it. He was certain it had been stillborn, and yet... Crowley did not ascribe this to Her, and he certainly didn't ascribe it to The Adversary, but he did ascribe it to one of those little things in the universe that his angel would have called ineffable.

He could then be forgiven for not noticing that the nun who had been holding Baby A (who he believed to be The Adversary), swapped them wordlessly while Crowley was not paying attention, and he retreated out into the hallway to stew.

At this point, he then recalled that he did, in fact, have a mission and it was not, actually, to deliver two babies. It was to deliver an entirely different baby in an entirely different manner, and so he headed in to Room 3 and swapped Baby B in and retrieved The Adversary (thinking him Baby A).

For those keeping track: Crowley now held in his hands The Adversary, Baby B was with the Dowling mother and Baby A with the Young mother. It is at this point where you are free to imagine while being weighed and measured Baby A and Baby B were again switched in a human act of cocking up since the whole day had been something of a cockup from the start, causing an entire three and a half hours resulting in a no-score draw if you like. That's what I'll do!

And so he sat in the corridor of a thankfully-not-actually-sanctified convent, The Adversary in his arms, eyes closed, waiting for a few moments to regain his balance.

"Everything sorted?" he heard, and his eyes snapped open and he looked over at the nervous pipe man standing a few feet away.

"Ah, yes? Congratulations it's a boy."

"I can't thank you enough," the man continued. "Coming out all this way, I imagine you're more of a city doctor."

Crowley made a grunt of acknowledgement.

"Especially owing to..." He gestured towards The Adversary. "Taking care of him for the wife?"

"I don't have a wife," Crowley answered without thinking, because of course he didn't have a wife, what sort of self respecting demon would have a wife?!

"Ah, girlfriend, then?"

"Why would I have--?" This was the point that the exhaustion in Crowley's body finally settled enough that he realized he was having A Conversation, one of those things that humans did from time to time and he was supposed to be a human and if he were to randomly not make any sense that might give away the whole Infernal plan and he really should have thought about this more beforehand. "Sorry, um..." He knew this, if he didn't have a girl person... what were they called now? "Partner."

"Oh!" Arthur made the noise of confused discovery wherein the very nice doctor who had delivered his son was also in some form of partnership and he might be a bit old fashioned and not really understand the appeal but he was sufficiently modern to not be bothered. "How nice! What's his name? And yours I suppose, too. Arthur Young."

"Crowley," he answered, tired, and then with a tired sputter he continued: "Anthony Crowley, and... um..." His mind was drawing a blank.

"You can't tell me you've forgotten his name."

"I usually just call him Angel," Crowley admitted, but that kick-started his mind again. "Azra, it's like Ezra, but with an A. No accounting for names these days really."

It was about then that the Mother Superior arrived, noting Crowley and Mr. Young and politely nodded to him: "Shall I take him, Master Crowley?"

Crowley looked down at The Adversary, and The Adversary looked up at him with bright blue eyes, and Crowley realized that this child (who he thought was Baby A) was likely going to be Disposed Of and he had never been much for killing kids. "Just a bottle's fine," he answered.

The Mother Superior knew far better than to argue and hurried off to provide him just that.

"What's his name, then?" Arthur gestured to the boy. "I'm afraid Deidre and I've rather let it run to the last minute."

Crowley had known many humans over the years, with many names, and all of them loaded with purpose and history. If it was destined to be ruled over by the Antichrist in the time that came after the Great War, well... there really was only one name: "Adam."

"Oh well that's lovely," Arthur answered. "I really should be getting in to see Deidre, though. It was a pleasure talking to you, doctor." He then patted down his pockets and provided a delightfully normal business card.

Crowley looked at it for a moment, realized he was likely expected to reciprocate, and he patted his own pockets. Arthur likely actually had business cards, but Crowley was hardly in that sort of business, so instead he miracled one up in the fashion Arthur likely should have expected proclaiming him: Dr. Anthony J. Crowley, Family Medicine, with his cell phone number and pair of snakes spiraled up in a caduceus, with the little flourish of the staff being headed by an apple rather than the traditional sphere.

For good measure, Crowley also offered a cigar. "Not around the baby."

"Of course, doctor, Anthony. Perhaps the boys could enjoy a play date when they're older!"

The Mother Superior returned with a bottle and although Adam didn't seem particularly hungry at that moment he did drink. "Well it's been a pleasure." He checked the business card. "Arthur. Regards to Deidre and all that."

Crowley then stood, walked out of the convent and sat in the front of his Bentley looking down at the child he had just named. That basically meant he owned the thing, right?

"Shit."

Never let it be said that Crowley did things by halves, so with a snap the back seat of his Bentley contained an incredibly fashionable baby seat, and the front a pitch black, sleek diaper bag with bottles, formula, and diapers; there were things Crowley forgot, of course, but he didn't know he'd forgotten them, so they weren't there. He then buckled Adam in and blazed off towards London Soho at approximately eighty miles per hour; it would have been ninety, but baby in the back seat and all.

~2~

Aziraphale was beside himself, which wasn't a particularly uncommon state for him to be in, but that visit from Gabriel had definitely put him off balance and completely ruined his sushi dinner. Armageddon! He had tried to call Crowley some hours ago, but there was something wrong with the London phone network and while Aziraphale might have thought it could have been Crowley's work he didn't want to go ascribing every minor inconvenience to the demon.

He'd been so upset about the Spanish Inquisition, after all, even if he had gotten a commendation for it.

So while Aziraphale did expect to speak to Crowley sometime in the next day or so, he did not expect the ring on the door at 2:30AM. Aziraphale set down the book he had been reading and headed to the door, opening it because there was exactly one being who would bother to ring a doorbell that wasn't properly set up to allow actual buzzing and make it ring.

"Crowley, I--"

This was when he actually saw Crowley for the first time in probably a month or so: shoulder length hair, sunglasses, dark jacket, and something that announced itself as a 'babybjorn' strapped to his chest with a sleeping infant in it.

"Is that--?!"

"He's the spare," Crowley growled, pushing his way past Aziraphale and into the bookshop. "You know how I feel about killing kids."

"Killing?!" Aziraphale wrung his hands for a moment before catching himself and looked at his old friend and adversary. "Wait, what are you doing here?"

"We need to talk."

"Yes, I suppose we do, but the baby?"

Crowley looked down at it. "Uh... I named him."

And while Crowley probably wouldn't usually go in for worrying about such things, he was not wrong that in naming The Adversary he had inadvertently taken over a sort of metaphysical ownership of the child that couldn't be broken by something as mundane as dropping him on a front stoop somewhere, and Aziraphale knew that, so he just nodded and the two of them left it at that.

After several hours and a great deal of wine, Aziraphale was convinced of the wisdom of helping to influence Warlock Dowling, believed to be the Antichrist, to hold a sufficient amount of both vice and virtue to avoid the destruction of the world at his hands.

"And him?" Aziraphale asked, pointing to the child still sleeping against Crowley's shoulder.

"Adam," Crowley answered. "I suppose it's Adam Crowley, I think I have a birth certificate somewhere..." He reached out and rummaged through the diaper bag and pulled out a sheet of paper waving it at Aziraphale, and the angel took it, pressed it smooth carefully, and read it.

"This is a Birth Certificate and Parental Order between... really, Crowley? Anthony J. Crowley and Azra Z. Fell. We aren't even people!"

"We're legal entities. You know I helped design that absolute monstrosity of a database for this stuff." He chuckled to himself at the trouble that whole thing caused. "Besides, if we practice on this one a bit we should be loads more competent to handle Warlock. When's the last time you saw a baby outside a baptism?"

Aziraphale didn't answer, as Crowley knew the answer perfectly well to be basically none.

It was a testament to their angelic (and formerly angelic) stock that neither one of them particularly noted the idea of the two beings being joined in their parental responsibilities to a tiny human being was a bit... queer.

"Well where are we even supposed to put him?" Aziraphale asked. "You know they don't check up often but both our sides do have the tendency to occasionally pop in, and with the Great Plan heading towards a conclusion they'll have every reason to pop in more."

"Well I can't have a baby," Crowley answered. "Demon, taking care of a kid, what sort of demon does that?"

"You, my dear boy," Aziraphale answered, with a wave of fondness, but quickly moved past it and considered. "Well the bookshop can't handle it either, the entire place is packed with books, I've nowhere else to put them, and..." He looked a bit embarrassed.

"What?"

"Well, I'm not zoned residential Crowley, and you know how I feel about these things, you can't just go popping off a miracle to rezone and--"

Crowley grumbled. It wasn't as though either of them actually needed to eat or sleep or bathe or launder things or anything of the sort, but there were certain human niceties that they participated in regardless. Crowley loved naps, Aziraphale loved baths, Adam would actually need both.

"I've got it," Crowley said. "We'll move closer to Regent's Park so Adam and Warlock can go to school together if the Dowling's choose that, or we'll just send him to whatever public school they choose."

"Those fees are usurious!" Aziraphale complained.

"Brilliant, isn't it?" Crowley answered with a grin. One of his: elitist and snobby and annoying, just his speed. "You'll still work here, I'll still work from my flat. No electronics."

"Agreeable," Aziraphale said. He knew the 'rules', such as they were, concerning Hell's adoption of most modern technology as a communication method. Crowley had meant that they could use telephones, instead they had taken to invading personalized radio broadcasts or television programs. "And you want your son to go to school with the Antichrist? That seems a bit... troublesome."

"Hey, he'll divide the world up somehow, gotta get him in on the ground floor if this all goes to Great Plan."

And so it was that an Angel, a Demon, and the Antichrist moved in to a steeply overpriced two bedroom London flat in the nearest inhumanly possible vicinity to the Dowling's residence. One bedroom was, of course, Adam's nursery, the second bedroom was a study of sorts where Aziraphale moved some of the tomes that were under no uncertain terms ever going to be sold, including his misprinted bible collection that he treasured a great deal. It technically contained a pull out couch bed, but that was largely for Crowley's tendency to nap, not for anything else.

The larger portion of the living area, over the course of the next months and then years, came to be predominantly occupied by a pair of comfortable sofas, a painfully exceptional liquor cabinet, plants, flowers, and more plants, with one wall taken over by a number of trained ivy plants creating a living accent wall.

The next day, however, with Adam a brilliantly clever two days old, Aziraphale sat on one sofa extracted from the back of the bookshop and Crowley sat on another sofa also extracted from the back of the bookshop, with Aziraphale gingerly holding Adam while he drank his bottle.

"It won't do to have Adam only associate with public school boys," Aziraphale said after a few moments. "Some of those boys can be quite mean. I won't have that."

"Yeah, cuz kids are so polite usually, Angel."

Crowley was sprawled on his sofa, as he was wont to do, and his lack of thoughts was interrupted by a phone call. He startled, but patted down his pocket to withdraw his phone to show a call from an unknown number.

"Crowley," he answered. Expecting a call from Hell, to be honest.

"Oh Dr. Crowley, hello!" a polite and very feminine voice came through the headset. "It's Deidre Young, you may not recall, but--"

"Oh, yes, Deidre, I can't say we were properly introduced when we first met, you were a bit indisposed." Although he said it without a hint of innuendo - which he was quite proud of actually - Aziraphale gave him a look that said that he assumed the call was about work, an item that they had long ago promised not to interfere with but he still didn't like to dwell on. "How's Junior?"

"Oh absolutely brilliant. We decided on John in the end."

"John, good name, John. Traditional."

"And Adam?" she asked.

Crowley looked over to where Aziraphale was grimacing with a slight distaste but still feeding Adam.

"Also brilliant," Crowley answered. "Azra's feeding him now. Took a bit of a day off, paternity leave, all that. Believe it or not he's actually the same age as John."

Aziraphale straightened, and frowned at him, but seemed all the more curious.

"Even more gracious then, taking the time to deliver two babies when your own had just been born!" A pause, a bit of hesitation, and Crowley could hear the wheels turning. "It's just... I don't know if you'd heard..."

"Heard what?" he asked, voice sharp.

"Just after we left, the whole convent burned down!"

"Hastur!" Crowley growled, before he realized one did not usually blaspheme with the names of the Duke of Hell. "I... that's awful. The... nuns?"

"Several didn't make it. I'm afraid I can't recall who exactly." A deep breath. "But as sad as that is that's actually not why I called, you see the fire... well we hadn't yet received the birth certificate and... well a doctor's signature is of course needed and..."

"And you need me to sign, of course." Do one good deed and it gets punished for days. He sighed, pulled out a pen, could write upside down, or in zero gravity actually. He followed that up with a pad of paper. "The boy's full name?"

Crowley jotted down the particulars, the boy's name, Arthur's, Deidre's, a few identification numbers, really everything a man would need to commit a massive string of identity theft, but Crowley really wasn't in the mood.

"And your address?" he asked, receiving what would in many other universes be a fated address of 4 Hogsback Lane, but was in this universe simply the home of a boy named John Young and his parents Arthur and Deidre.

"This is so kind of you," Deidre continued, and Crowley winced at the implications. Kind, he wasn't kind! "I do hope if you're ever in the area again you'll come visit! And bring that Azra of yours, I'd love to meet him as well, and you properly."

"I may have to take you up on that, Deidre, I may have to indeed..."

A finishing pleasantry and Crowley hung up before looking over to where Aziraphale was gingerly burping Adam.

"You don't put down a cloth I'm not miracling it out, Angel," Crowley said, and Aziraphale did just that to avoid a mishap.

"Who was that? You sounded positively... polite."

Crowley groaned. "Deidre Young, she's... I don't think I actually explained how I ended up with Adam in the first place." And so Crowley recounted the details of that night and due to being unaware of some of the baby swapping particulars Aziraphale was also none the wiser concerning the location of the Adversary.

"You delivered a baby? Two babies!?" Aziraphale asked, as though the notion that the Antichrist was now on the Earth was of secondary importance.

"What? It's not that hard. Women've been doing it for thousands of years." He didn't mention that She had decided it would be painful because of Eve and all that, and Crowley did not feel guilty about that at all, not at all. "Anyway, I need to get them a birth certificate, and we've been invited to Tadfield if we're ever in the mood. You'd like them, very... normal, very human."

"Well, that would be a good couple to befriend," Aziraphale answered. "Human and normal, exactly the sort of influence we should hope for!"

"I want him to befriend the Antichrist, gotta get in on the ground floor, none of this faffing about beforehand."

Crowley did agree, however, and that was the reason that when he had finished with creating said birth certificate and signing it and seeing that it was appropriately filed a few days later that he'd suggested, entirely nonchalantly, that perhaps they could deliver the certificate personally.

"Should we bring wine?" Aziraphale asked.

They settled for a reasonably recent vintage, most people didn't have two century old wine, and those who did didn't share, and some cupcakes from a local bakery before blazing out into Tadfield.

"Remember, they think I'm a doctor," Crowley said as they got closer to their destination. "Also remember that humans don't generally wear the same thing every day, if we see them again you'll need to change it up."

Aziraphale frowned, looking down at his very typical coat, vest, bow tie... he'd worn this since the 1800s! He'd hate to have to change now. "And I'm Azra, and we're... partners."

"Problem, Angel?" Crowley asked.

"No," he answered with a slightly annoyed tone. "I will have you remember I used to live in Soho," Aziraphale answered. "I... swish better than you."

"Don't make me make this a competition." Crowley didn't want to, but if Aziraphale kept pressing he would.

"And humans do all those... rituals, the fluid exchanges and the like."

Crowley snorted. "Never fucked before?"

"Really, Crowley. If you are going to be a bad influence save it for Warlock and not Adam! I meant kissing, which yes. I have."

That... that made Crowley... he didn't know what it was but it wasn't nice. He wasn't nice, however, so he supposed that was fine. "Well if they get all mushy..."

"We shall take it as it comes, my dear, same as always," Aziraphale answered.

~3~

As Aziraphale and Crowley had expected, Hogsback Lane was every bit the normal, every day, very human sort of place, and Crowley was very pleased to see an immaculately maintained Morris Minor of all cars in front of the neatly manicured front garden, admittedly maroon, but it was the thought that counted.

"Well it seems we have something in common right from the start," Aziraphale said, chuckling.

Crowley opened the back seat and pulled out Adam before putting him in the babybjorn. Unlike Aziraphale he kept up relatively well with whatever amounted to current fashion trends, sunglasses, suit jackets, but he had forgone the usual layers to instead settling for a simple dark grey t-shirt and black jeans.

The door opened only a few moments later with a lovely woman with short blonde hair and a floral print dress opened the door and gave them a bright wave and headed their way. "Doctor Crowley, Mr. Fell!"

"Mrs. Young, a pleasure," Crowley came up to her and pressed a soft kiss to her cheek, carefully as to not squish Adam. "You seem to be doing well, and please, Anthony is fine. Let's consider it a social visit."

"Still feel bloated like a balloon," she confessed, but lit up at the invitation

"Will pass in a few weeks," Crowley answered. "My Partner, Azra," he gestured toward Aziraphale and the Angel reached for her hand, but then Deidre moved in for the kill, which meant she kissed his cheek as well and he returned the favor.

"We were a bit lost for gifts so..." He presented the cupcake box and wine with an apologetic smile. Baby bag over one shoulder.

"No wine while I'm nursing, I'm afraid," she said, but she took both of the offerings. "I'll let you two and Arthur enjoy though."

"Forgot that," Crowley said, shaking his head.

"Of course you did," Deidre laughed, friendly and light. "I imagine you're bottle feeding."

"Well I sure as Hell'm not breastfeeding," Crowley answered.

"Language," Aziraphale said as he passed Crowley and the two of them followed Deidre inside.

An entire Saturday afternoon was spent with adequate wine, cupcakes, and two small children laying on their backs in the Young family lounge.

"You didn't say that cigar was Cuban, Anthony," Arthur said. "You have impeccable taste."

"Well, what can I say? We all need our little vices, don't we, Angel?" He gave Aziraphale a beaming grin and the angel answered with a huff.

Deidre and Arthur, who had been married for several years and dated further beyond that couldn't help but be impressed with the easy familiarity between the couple. Nothing flashy, just a feel of 'yes, we are each other's halves'. They clearly knew each other implicitly. They were an oddly matched pair, with Anthony seeming to be more the love-em-and-leave-em smooth talker bad boy, while Azra was far more bookish and looked quite a bit like an English professor, but there was clearly more than enough 'opposites attract' to keep them together.

"If you don't mind my asking," Arthur began. "Where did you and Azra adopt? My understanding is it's very difficult for a... pair of partners who adopt even now."

Aziraphale and Crowley shared a glance, and in the silent way of their communication, Aziraphale passed the buck to Crowley and then Crowley, the one a bit more practiced with lies, decided what to spin. "I've got a brother," he answered, Lucifer had been an angel once, and Crowley's brother after a fashion even after the Fall. "He... ah... well he wasn't really up for raising the kid, so after he was born... one baby for us."

While this was obviously true for Adam the Antichrist, this was not true for Crowley's relationship to Baby A (who he thought the child to be), but if one assumed a transitive property of babies it was. It was also true enough that Aziraphale might not choke on it.

"Are you close?"

Crowley made the universal noise of 'no, not really' which was largely 'enh' with a particular inflection.

"And you, Azra?" Deidre asked.

"Family?" He made a nervous chuckle and swallowed. "They call once every few y-months," he corrected, remembering human time frames. "Not often, and... well they don't much approve of Anthony."

Crowley snorted.

"So it's really just the two of us," Aziraphale continued. "Well, three now I suppose. Adam was actually a bit of a surprise owing to Anthony's brother's... leaving it to the last minute, if you will."

"He does do that," Crowley said with an annoyed tone.

"How long have you two known each other, for Arthur and I it's been twelve years."

"Mmm," Crowley looked over to Aziraphale and smirked. "Six thousand years, give or take."

Both Arthur and Deidre of course took this as a joke, because of course it was, and had a good chuckle about it.

"It has been a while," Aziraphale said, straightening his jacket to try to recover from the surprise of Crowley telling the truth, even if the humans thought it a joke. "We met at a... ah garden... party."

"I, of course, slithered right up and introduced myself," Crowley continued, glancing over to his angel again. "Love at first sight."

Aziraphale actually did flush at that. "Really, you don't have to tease."

"Actually I found him a bit commonplace right at the start," Crowley continued. "But, well, the angel had actually given up his... ah... coat, to this lovely pregnant girl I knew, and what can I say? Smitten. Who does that in this day and age?"

Aziraphale glanced over to Crowley, and Crowley didn't quite have the courage to glance back, but he was wearing enough of a smile that Aziraphale had to wonder if it weren't, at least in part, the truth.

"Oh that's darling!" Deidre almost squealed.

"And you, Angel?" Crowley asked, the wicked smile on his face leaving Aziraphale with little understanding of what the Hell he was supposed to think of that.

"Quite a bit after that, I should think," he answered. "I will have you know this..." Aziraphale sighed. "Well he's hardly the sort you'd think would be faithful," he continued, a bit defensively, because Crowley was a demon! The Youngs might not know that but he was! "We met a few times after that for... work, that sort of thing, a few bars and meals out, and against my better judgement he convinced me to consider a more frequent meeting arrangement. After that, I suppose it was rather inevitable."

"But when did you knooow, Angel?" Crowley teased.

Aziraphale gave him A Look, and given that he was an angel not particularly predisposed to violence it was actually bit frightening. "The books," he said primly, and said nothing more. He wasn't going to put his heart on his sleeve with Crowley teasing him like that.

"That sounds like a story," Deidre said.

"Yes," Crowley answered, "But fair is fair, not much of an even exchange so far, is it?" Secretly he was a bit amused, and also slightly surprised that Aziraphale could think up an answer so quickly, unless... there was a bit of truth. The angel had a particular bent to his lies, after all.

Thankfully the attention was deflected from Aziraphale and turned back on to Arthur and Deidre's younger days, and then less thankfully further conversation was interrupted by both Adam and John both deciding they were hungry, and by the time that was taken care of that thread of conversation was well and truly lost.

Wine was opened, gardens were discussed, and Crowley, Adam, and Arthur began what can only be a terrifying companionship over classic cars while Aziraphale, Deidre, and John puttered about in the kitchen. Aziraphale was absolutely hopeless in the kitchen, as much as he loved food, but he couldn't exactly admit that in the moment.

"The two of you are so very sweet," Deidre said. "I don't know what I was expecting, Dr... sorry, Anthony was so kind during the delivery and Arthur said they had a nice little chat after the delivery with Anthony holding Adam... and when he said he had a Partner I suppose there was a tiny bit of me that said 'my goodness!' but you two are just lovely."

Aziraphale, who truly had spent more than enough time around 'discreet gentlemen' to know a thing or two about these things, nodded magnanimously. "Nothing wrong with that," he answered. "It is nice that you've been so welcoming given the circumstances, not everyone would be. Anthony even mentioned our sons might be able to have something of a friendship. Tadfield isn't that far from London, and I think it would do Adam good to have some appreciation for nature and all creatures great and small."

"Yes, that sounds wonderful. Even if the boys don't get on... Tadfield can be a bit reserved and I hope for a friendship that's a bit more exciting. Oh I love it here, but though I'd hate to be telling tales out of school, our neighborhood watch fellow is a bit of a prat, if you don't mind my saying. And I don't think there's ever been a man alive who understands Arthur's love of his car like your Anthony."

"Well he does love his like a child," Aziraphale answered, helpfully taking John when Deidre had to continue her conquest of the kitchen. "I can't say I've ever understood the appeal, but when it comes to being a passenger I suppose I must."

It was this and many other small conversations over the course of hours that meant that one Anthony J. Crowley and one Azra Z. Fell were granted an open invitation to 4 Hogback Lane, Tadfield with as much regularity as they could ask for. The two beings, occult and ethereal by turns, took that offer seriously and their perfectly human child who just so happened to be the Antichrist took them up on that offer approximately monthly over the course of almost four years.

Nothing changed after that when it came to the visits, but that was where the next movements in the overarching Plan seemed most pronounced.

"Did you really mean that?" Aziraphale asked as he finally climbed into the passenger side of the Bentley after getting Adam settled.

"Which bit? I did a lot of talking."

"The Garden and slithering up to me and me giving my Sword away?"

"Maybe," Crowley demurred, putting the car in gear.

"Don't you 'maybe' me, you demon."

"What do you want me to say? Yes, I had very undemonic thoughts that day, found you quite endearing, and it's what made me... well... seek you out, suggest the Arrangement. Turnabout's fair play, Angel. The Books? The Blitz?"

"You walked over consecrated ground to save me from my own fumbling and then when I'd forgotten those books..." Aziraphale looked out the window. "There'd always been a fondness, I suppose, maybe as soon as Rome, definitely after Hamlet was a smash hit, but that was when I wondered if you might have some undemonic thoughts in return."

"Wanna exchange fluids?" Crowley asked.

"Really, Crowley! Not in front of the baby."

They did not, in fact, end up sharing fluids in great regularity. Being beings without a true form and without anything resembling a sex drive their acts of human intimacy were almost always for show, usually the Youngs, sometimes the other families they were introduced to via them, or when they made an appearance at Warlock and Adam's preparatory school, but that was it.

Crowley did very much like snuggling, and Aziraphale did enjoy running his fingers through Crowley's hair at whatever length he chose to keep it, so in practice that was all that changed, that and they lived together, and had a son... so quite a lot actually, but it usually didn't feel that way.