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Reverse Matchmaking

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Ezra Fell and Anthony Crowley were dating. The sentence whipped around the school from ear to ear. It started slowly then steadily bubbled up through the students like water boiling. Anathema Device, the resident activist goth heard it and passed it on to her boyfriend while he cursed technology. Mrs. Tracy overheard it from one of her students and gave a brisk ‘Good for them’ in response. The rumor even reached the surprisingly well-informed ears of Adam Young despite not even being in secondary school yet. Everyone knew that Ezra Fell and Anthony Crowley were dating. Almost everyone.

Gabriel Fell did not. This was by design. Gabriel was many things, including a gossip but he was also an incredibly overbearing and smug presence in Ezra’s life, a judgmental one at that, and Ezra did not want Gabriel hearing about his love-life, thank you very much. Anyone who so much as looked like they would mention it to Gabriel would get Ezra’s sad eyes and Crowley’s threats and decide that shit-stirring could wait another day.

So how did Gabriel learn of his little brother’s relationship?

Michael Angel.

Gabriel’s friends were like him. They walked like they owned the place and passed judgement on all less moral than them. They were the biggest bunch of goodie-two-shoes in the whole country. They were obnoxiously Catholic and holier-than-thou. They were the kids that went to mass without their parents and would discuss scripture. Despite this, Michael Angel was what many would consider a hypocrite as she espoused the same talking-points as her friends but also kept multiple back channels open with people who she wouldn’t consort with in public for gossip. Michael knows all the gossip.

She heard this particular tidbit from Hastur who’s first name cannot be said without being punched. Of course, Hastur was close to the source of this gossip but none too fond of Crowley or Ezra so was more than happy to give all the details to Michael. Once Michael gathered all the scandalous details, she dutifully delivered the full story to Gabriel.

He then entered the five stages of grief.

Denial; Gabriel blinked slowly at Michael, his smile became even more fixed on his face. ‘I’m sorry, Michael what did you say?’ Michael started to speak but Gabriel interrupted her. ‘Because it sounded like you were saying that my baby brother who cried when we watched the Sound of Music and who’s main hobby is book collecting, is fraternizing with Anthony Crowley? Now, does this sound like Ezra?’

Michael refused to be cowed and simply repeated ‘That is what I’ve heard.’ This is where Gabriel entered the next stage of Grief, Anger.

‘Well, you must be woefully misinformed. In fact, you should tell me just where you heard this dreadful lie just so I can correct them.’ Gabriel bared his smile at Michael like a weapon causing Uriel to lean away from him.

Sandalphon, who lacked any sense of self-preservation, chose that moment to pipe up with ‘Actually, I think I’ve heard that too.’ Beside him, Uriel began a silent prayer for her safety.

Gabriel whipped his head around to Sandalphon. ‘You what?’

‘Yeah, overheard some of the younger years talking about it. I think. I can’t really remember.’ He chuckled. ‘Funny rumor.’

‘Yeah, real funny.’ Gabriel looked fairly demented as rage fought with his need to appear “nice”. ‘It’s such a fucking funny rumor. So funny.’ He repeated. He looked around at his friends then snarled. ‘Why aren’t you all laughing at this funny rumor. I’m sure everyone is.’ He then eyed them all. Finding them lacking in whatever quality he was searching for, Gabriel stormed off.

‘Is Gabriel mad at me?’ Sandalphon asked his remaining companions as Gabriel stalked away.

Gabriel gritted his teeth is what was a distant cousin to a smile while his thoughts flew. Ezra, his little brother Ezra, with one of the Legion of Hell? That lot were not the sort to be consorted with. They were all weird and dangerous. They smoked and drank alcohol. They did graffiti on the walls and he was certain one of them was responsible for the fire in computer lab last year. [1] They were trouble, every last member. From Ariyon Duke who they all called “Ligur” for some unknown reason to Dagon Lovecraft who was rumored to have stabbed a boy with a pen when he couldn’t take no for an answer to Anthony Crowley himself who had played “Never Gonna Give You Up” over the school intercom and was definitely responsible for “Michael is a wanker” being written on every desk in the school. The part of Gabriel’s mind that was doing damage control helpfully pointed out that it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been Hastur. He kept that as a mantra throughout the rest of the day. At least it’s not Hastur At least it’s not Hastur At least it’s not-He couldn’t do this. He had to break them up.

There was no question about it. It was for Ezra’s own good. Who knew what Crowley’s game was? He was probably just toying with Ezra and laughing about it with the rest of his despicable lot. Gabriel’s blood boiled. This was just a game to him, he didn’t care about Ezra’s emotions. Ezra was just his latest plaything. Gabriel would put a stop to it before his brother’s heart was broken. But if Gabriel told him this or tried to forcibly break them up, then Ezra would either not believe him and continue this farce or, even worse, Gabriel would be responsible for breaking Ezra’s heart. But if he could get someone else to break them up or, better yet, have Crowley break up with him now then Gabriel could sweep in and dry Ezra’s tears. The relationship needed to end now before Ezra could develop deeper feelings for the hoodlum.

And then like a rather hideous angel descending from Heaven, Gabriel saw Bethany Zebub. Bethany Zebub was the unofficial, official leader of that lot of freaks and was Trouble. He spotted her round the back of the school by the bins smoking. Unusually she wasn’t surrounded by her entourage, not even Lovecraft who Michael had informed him was Bethany’s girlfriend.

Gabriel as approached, his nose wrinkled from the smoke and his lip curled in disapproval. ‘No smoking on school grounds!’ He bossed.

Bethany gave him a look most people reserve for rotting roadkill. ‘And what part of me looks like I care?’ She asked in a bored voice.

Gabriel’s eyebrow twitched slightly in response. ‘It’s the rules. You have to follow them.’

Bethany gave him a small smile at that. It wasn’t reassuring. ‘I find that rules don’t get applied to me, people who try to enforce them, well…’

Gabriel refuses to be intimidated even as he remembered how Sandalphon had, after insulting her, found a swarm of bees in his car. ‘Well, you see, I wanted to propose something, Bethany—’

‘-Bee’ Bethany interrupted.

‘Excuse me, what?’ Gabriel queried, insulted at being interrupted. He knew everyone called her “Bee”, including most of the teachers but that was just a nickname because of said bees-in-car incident.

‘My name is Bee, not Bethany, you dumbass.’ She gave him a Look. ‘And considering you want my help, you’d better not start insulting me.’

‘I don’t use nicknames.’

‘Tough,’ she sounded tired like she’d had to explain this many times. ‘But also, it’s not a nickname. I mean I have nicknames, but Bee ain’t one.’

‘Really? What are they?’ Gabriel was temporarily distracted. His conversations had a bad habit of going off on tangents.

‘Beelzebub, Prince of Hell, Lord, that kinda thing.’ There was a part of both Bethany and Gabriel that found this whole conversation surreal.

‘Those seem very insulting… and weird.’ Gabriel generally disapproved of nicknames on principal. [2]

‘Did I ask for your fucking opinion?’

‘I... fine,’ Gabriel just have that up as a battle not worth fighting. ‘Anyway…. Bee, I wished to speak with you on an urgent matter.’

Bee took another inhale of her cigarette then blew the smoke in his face. ‘I’m listening.’ The minute change of facial expression revealed she found his discomfort funny. She was a damn sadist, Gabriel decided.

‘It concerns Crowley,’ Gabriel watched her face closely. Bee didn’t seem to be interested or surprised. Anyone who knew her better would know that she was both interested and surprised. ‘and his …involvement with my brother.’

‘Continue.’ Bee ordered when Gabriel stopped.

‘I fear that it is an ill-advised association,’ he said with all the confidence of businessman proposing a plan at a shareholders meeting.[3] ‘Crowley hardly seems … the right match for my brother. I mean, he’s much too, erm, willful and has a flagrant disregard for any authority. And that he may… be a destructive influence in Ezra’s life.’

‘You mean he’s feral and you don’t want your Angelic brother being associated with him?’ Bee was as blunt as a brick thrown through a window.

‘I mean- well- when you put- I would never-such an uncouth suggestion- look it’s just...’ Gabriel blustered before grabbing a distraction, ‘What did you mean by “Angelic”?’

Bee snorted. ‘I forgot how much up your own asses you lot are. (‘No need for that,’ Gabriel muttered.) ‘S’what everyone calls your lot ‘cos of how up yourselves you all are.’
Gabriel beamed at that. Being compared to an angel, wasn’t that lovely.

‘Trust me, s’not a compliment.’ Bee said, slapping the smile off Gabriel’s face. ‘Anyway, why should I care about your brother losing his perfect reputation? Ain’t my problem.’

Now, many thought that Gabriel was an idiot but in fact there was a pretty clever mind. Granted, it was buried under many layers of smug and totally unearned self-confidence, but it did exist. In this moment, he had an epiphany to allow him to see all of Bee’s buttons and just which one he needed to press to get her co-operation. ‘Perhaps because it is not just my brother’s reputation on the line but Crowley’s too?’

This caught her off-guard. ‘What?’

‘You wouldn’t want your…’ Gabriel frantically searched for a suitable word. ‘associate to start behaving orderly. Attend class, actually do work, maybe even go to mass.’

‘You’re being ridiculous.’ She muttered but Gabriel could see she looked uncertain.

‘Am I though? Ezra can be quite persuasive [4] and he could influence Crowley’s behaviour, ruining both his and your standing. What will you do when one of your little followers becomes good?’ If you knew where to look for it, Bee looked suitably shaken. ‘I just want to help both of us.’ Gabriel concluded.

Bee eyed him carefully. She was suspicious but Gabriel could tell he’d gotten her suitably concerned. ‘So, what was your great plan?’

‘Well,’ Gabriel straightened his back and clapped his hands together, delighted. ‘I was thinking that you could ask Crowley to break up with Ezra.’ He beamed.

‘That’s an awful plan.’ Bee sneered. ‘Crowley doesn’t exactly take orders.’

‘Well, what would you suggest then.’ Gabriel grumped.

‘We’d need to be subtle; I know that’s something you struggle with.’ Bee said snidely. Gabriel thought that was rich coming from someone wearing nothing but black and red and wearing fishnets. ‘We need to observe them before making any move.’

Gabriel didn’t like this idea. He wanted this relationship shut down as soon as possible, today preferably but if necessary, he’d could be flexible and accept tomorrow. What was even the purpose of observing the pair? He and Bee already knew Ezra and Crow respectively. Gabriel said as much to Bee.

She rolled her eyes. ‘You’re an idiot. We might know them separately, but we don’t know them together. How much do they like each other, what do they do, do the have anything they do that annoys the other one. That kind of shit.’

‘Ah,’ Gabriel really didn’t want to admit that it was a very good point. ‘Well then, when shall we commence our mutual investigation?’

‘Jesus, you’re gonna give me a headache,’ Bee muttered.

‘Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.’ Gabriel said primly to which Bee only glared.

‘You’re a right bastard.’ She hissed.

‘Do we have a deal?’ Gabriel asked, graciously ignoring her insult. ‘We observe Ezra and Crowley and using our gathered intel, break them up to save them?’

Bee gave him a once over. ‘Alright, but we keep this quiet. Hanging around you will kill any respect anyone has for me faster than Crowley becoming a professional gardener would.’

‘Agreed.’ Gabriel stuck out a large hand for her to shake. She muttered something under her breath about him being damned old-fashioned but dutifully placed her hand in his. They shook hands briefly. Gabriel noticed that while her hands were as tough as the rest of her, they were also dainty. Then he wondered why he noticed that.

‘Right, well, I’ll see you… around.’ Gabriel trailed off as Bee started to walk off without acknowledging him. ‘What are you doing? Oh right, need to be secretive. Um, begone foul loiterer from the bins round the back of this school.’

Bee flicked her cigarette butt onto the ground and gave him a middle finger as she walked away. What Gabriel couldn’t see, was Bee’s grin. This was going to amusing at any rate.

 

[1] They weren’t actually. Newton Pulsifer had tried to use a computer and, well, that was how the fire began.
[2] That principal being the fact that the nickname most commonly given to Gabriel was “Gabe” which he loathed.
[3] This meeting sadly lacked any Wahoos
[4] This was, as far as Gabriel knew, a bold face lie but he really wanted Bee on his side. In reality, Ezra can be quite persuasive to particular people. Particular people in this case meaning Anthony J. Crowley.