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The Bentley Is Sentient

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He wondered how long Aziraphale would take. Their meetings weren’t so clandestine now. Since they’d been shunted out of their respective celestial organisations, Aziraphale was a lot more comfortable with meeting him. At least some good came from the world almost ending. Crowley sighed, drumming his fingers on his dashboard. He was sitting in his parked car, on a nondescript road in London, awaiting his friend’s arrival. He hoped he wouldn’t be too long, he needed a drink. At least it wasn’t raining, for once. In fact, the night was warm. It was cooler in his car than outside.

 

He cast his eyes around the interior of his vehicle, all the same as it ever was, a reassuring constant. Then saw something new.

 

Something, a cream-coloured wad of fabric wedged in the backseat caught his eye. He stretched out his arm and snagged it, pulling the material out. Aziraphale’s jacket. He’d taken it off when they were driving a week ago,  because he was finishing an ice cream and didn’t want it to spill on his clothes. At least, these days, he was comfortable enough with Crowley’s driving to sit in the car without complaining, let alone, eat. Although Crowley didn’t like the thought of food in his precious Bentley, he could make an exception for the angel. They had been unable to find the jacket afterwards. They’d both searched the whole car, to no avail. He smiled. At least he’d found it. And Aziraphale would be so pleased when he returned it to him. His fingers rubbed the soft lining of the jacket, and, without thinking, he brought it closer to his face, rubbing his cheek along it.

 

Aziraphale. He’d thank Crowley, of course. Always so polite.  He’d smile, that reserved little close-lipped smile. Or perhaps his grin, which was only when he was surprised into smiling. Crowley preferred that smile, the one that wasn’t meant for the angels, or awkward customers, it was a smile only he saw. Aziraphale had laughed at Crowley’s smile once, not cruelly, he’d asked Crowley to smile for him, and when Crowley had, he’d said he smiled like he was planning to eat him. Crowley ran his tongue along his teeth. His teeth were sharp, maybe that’s what he meant.

He wondered what Aziraphale’s teeth felt like.

 

Where had that thought come from?

 

He wasn’t a fool, he knew he wasn’t without feeling. He could feel excitement, fear (he’d felt a lot of that lately), confusion, impatience. But this...whatever this was...was new. He knew that some of the demons acted on human urges, either with another demon or a human lover...not that there was much ‘loving’ going on in Hell. This particular urge never was a problem with him, he liked elements of human life, alcohol (what a great invention), long streets and tall buildings, statues and sprawling motorways. It was the people he wasn’t so sure about. He never felt the desire to have friends - not because he necessarily felt superior to humans as some demons did, but just because he was aware he was so different to them. And the fact that his job was to bring about their downfall, that kind of put a damper on any attempts at socialising. Aziraphale was the first friend he’d had in far too long.

But this wasn’t friendship. Was it?

 

His hands were shaking. He buried his face in the jacket, breathing into the material until it grew hot. It was warm, warm like flesh, and faintly damp under his mouth, heavy and limp, spread over his fingers. He pressed a fold of fabric closer to his mouth, rubbed his open lips over it. His lips tingled. 

“Angel,” he whispered.

He drew his lips into a pout and kissed the jacket, cradling it in his hands, letting his tongue push past his lips to lick the rolls of fabric. 

 

He was faintly aware of music playing, the tinny tape player in his car playing what sounded like “Somebody To Love” by Queen, of course, which was strange since he hadn’t put the music on, but he ignored it, losing himself in the sensation of something soft, something that didn’t fight him, something that smelt of tea and old books. Aziraphale.

 

What his fingers brushed wasn't a face, what his palm cradled wasn't soft white curls and what his tongue tangled with was fabric, and didn't push back but moulded obediently over his teeth. But it didn't matter. This was it, the closest he could get to someone too Good for him. 

 

A spark of rage flared up in him and his jaws clamped down on the jacket. He blinked, eyes focusing, and sheepishly pulled the ruined jacket from his mouth. Perhaps he'd been more snake than man in that moment because his teeth had clearly punctured the coat. He had to fix it and quickly. A little demonic trickery-

 

"Crowley!"

 

Shit. Aziraphale was outside the car, waving cheerily through the window. Thank Satan he hadn't noticed the jacket. Crowley stuffed it in the footwell, not too deep that it interfered with the pedals but hopefully hidden enough that an angel's keen eyes would overlook it.

 

He threw open the passenger door, heart pounding. "Hi…"

"Hello. Sorry I’m late, I had a customer who needed a lot of help,"

"It's fine,"

Aziraphale folded his hands in his lap and smiled up at him. “What should we do tonight?”
“I was thinking get some dinner, maybe...”

 

Dining at the Ritz, we’ll meet at nine precisely/ I will pay the bill, you taste the wine blared the car’s speakers.

 

Hm. The song had changed from earlier.

 

“Uh, ignore that. I don’t know about you but tonight, I plan to drink my weight in alcohol and you can-”

 

Take me back to yours, that will be fine (come on and get it)

 

Crowley reared up, and his head bumped against the roof of the car. “Ow.”

“Are you quite alright?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Crowley said, massaging his skull. “What do you feel like eating tonight?”

Aziraphale gave Crowley a puzzled look, but shrugged and said “I’m rather in the mood for French cuisine, there’s a lovely little restaurant north of here...” 

As the angel rambled on, about Clapassade and the superiority of napkins over serviettes, Crowley discreetly opened the tape player and ejected the tape, slipping it in his pocket.

The music kept playing. He frowned and turned the volume down.

 

Crowley wanted to drive, but he felt reluctant to interrupt Aziraphale. He always spoke with such pleasure about food, and dining and lovely little human activities like binding old books. His face would seem to glow as if lit from within, some core of glittering gold warming the thin membrane. Even his eyes would sparkle. And for however long Aziraphale went without running out of things to say, Crowley felt a little less hollow inside.

 

Queen continued to play in the background, but he paid it no mind, content to bask in Aziraphale’s enthusiasm until the angel had noticed, a little embarrassed, that he’d talked solidly for twenty minutes and insisted Crowley drive them to the charming restaurant he’d been rhapsodising about.

He drove quickly and the Bentley purred, soon they were pulling up in front of a small restaurant with flowers outside. 

 

Crowley pulled at the handle on his door and encountered a hurdle. “Uh, one problem. The door won’t open.”

“Do you have the doors locked?”
Crowley rolled his eyes, although unfortunately, his scorn was lost on Aziraphale, who didn’t possess X-ray vision and therefore, couldn’t see through his sunglasses. “I’ve had this car for 90 years, you think I don’t know how to operate a simple lock?”

“I...I was only trying to help-”

“Yes, I know, I’m sorry. It’s this stupid thing-” Crowley clicked his fingers. Nothing. Clicked them again. Still nothing.

 

Trying to help again, Aziraphale clicked his fingers, succeeding in doing no more than turning the headlights on.

“Maybe the metal’s warped from the heat. It is rather stuffy in here-” Aziraphale said, loosening his bow tie. That was enough to divert Crowley’s attention; he’d never seen Aziraphale remove his bow tie. Of course, in the past, he never used to wear one- they hadn’t been invented, but since Aziraphale had got into the habit of wearing bowties, he’d never stopped.

“Does temperature affect you that much? You’re an angel.”
“I find that the more time I spend amongst humans, the more I assimilate. Maybe it’s because I know that if I were human, I’d be feeling warm right now...”

“Huh, like a Placebo effect. Interesting.”
“How about you? You don’t feel many human inclinations, do you?”

“I...do,” Crowley said haltingly, mind still aflame with the memory of Aziraphale’s jacket stuffed in his mouth. “Probably more than you, actually.”

 

Crowley tugged on the door handles and then pounded the drivers side window with his hands, but the door didn’t budge, and the car blasted a few bars of “I Want To Break Free” in retaliation.

Crowley slapped the dashboard. “Argh, idiot! When I get out of here, I’ll stick a screwdriver up your exhaust pipe, how would you like that?”

“I’m sorry, are you talking to me?”

“No, I’m talking to the…” Crowley sighed, pushing his sunglasses up his forehead. “I’m talking to my car, Aziraphale.”

“Hm. Well, the sooner we get out of here and away from that.. music, the better.”

“I’m with you on that one. I don’t even like Queen.”

“We’ll try on the door together. On the count of three. One, two, three!”

 

They tried together, but it was useless. And if they pushed too hard, they could risk breaking the handle off. Aziraphale’s hand brushed against his, and Crowley ripped his own hand off the handle, pressing himself against the back of his seat.

“That’s peculiar. Has your car done this before?”

“No, never.”
“Strange. I wonder what caused it, if anything.”

Crowley pushed the jacket further into footwell with his shoe. “No clue. I don’t care, as long as we get out of here. I can’t take anymore of this BLOODY MUSIC!”

Aziraphale winced, and immediately, Crowley felt a tinge of regret. 

“Isn’t there somebody we can call?”

Crowley rubbed his eyes. “I think this is a bit above triple A.”

“Well, we have to do something. Why is it doing this?”

“I DON’T KNOW! I was driving here earlier, it was FINE, I found your jacket and-”

“You found my jacket? Oh, Crowley. The one I lost? Where is it, can I have it?”

“No,” he said sharply and ducked his head.

"Oh. Why not?"

"Dusty, it's dusty. Let me focus on getting us out of here."

“If you like. But Crowley, these...human urges you spoke of. What ones are they?”

“I...I’m-”

The Bentley suddenly blared out another blast of Freddie Mercury’s voice: 

I am a sex machine, ready to reload/ Like an atom bomb about to/

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh explode

 

“SHUT UP!” Crowley roared, starting the car up and pushing it into a punishing speed. The Bentley jumped forward, leaving the restaurant far behind. The road raced up in front of them and the car slid up it like the tarmac was made of ice.

“There’s no need to be so upset, granted, it’s annoying but-”

“IT NEEDS TO GET OUT OF MY FUCKING HEAD! IT’S PUTTING WORDS IN MY MOUTH!” 

“Crowley!”

“You’re my friend , I don’t love you, I don’t want to kiss you, I’m a demon, I don’t love anybody, I DON’T NEED ANYONE!”

“Is that what this is? Crowley, slow down! Listen, you don’t have to convince me of anything. I know you don’t want me in...that way. Watch the road, goodness! I mean it when I say I am truly grateful for the years of friendship you’ve given me and the assistance in the whole averting Armageddon thing. I am euphoric with how things are and it’s fine if our friendship never develops into…anything else.”

“Okay then,” Crowley said and the two of them remained in a tense but otherwise peaceful silence for a few minutes, as Crowley roared down the motorway, until a thought popped into his head. “Wait, you’ve thought about our friendship developing into something else?”

“I know how I feel about you. I trust you, I can rely on you, I enjoy your company,  I find you fascinating. A connection like ours is very rare, even rarer given our...former vocations. But I recently realised my feelings were changing,”

“Go on,” Crowley breathed. He realised he should probably look at the road.

“I knew I liked looking at you. Your hair, your clothes, your walk. Just looking isn’t enough for me anymore. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time around the humans, I’m starting to think like them. Humans are so...hungry.”

The air seemed to have left the car. “And what are you hungry for?”

Aziraphale smiled shyly. “I’m...I’m not sure. But if you pull over, we can find out.”