The bookshop had no memory of awakening. It was a gradual thing, but an unavoidable one. You couldn't be home to an angel for so many years without some of that miraculous magic infusing its way into the very bricks. But it wasn't just the miracles and general "angeliness." The first thing the bookshop was fully and completely aware of was a sense of the deepest, purest, most delighted love. Love from the angel. Love for the shop, for the books and the words, the tumbled coziness of the light chaos, and for the feeling of a hand-crafted home.
That was the love it woke to, imprinted in its first moments like a duckling to its mama, and so that was what the bookshop was made of.
At first, the bookshop had reciprocated with a rather surprised and questioning love in return (surprised because it had quite suddenly gone from being a fiercely non-sentient pile of bricks to a building that knew it was a building, and that would be a bit of a surprise for anyone). Over the years, though, it had progressed to a true and unequivocal adoration for its angel.
How could it not? One had only to meet Aziraphale to love him, the angel who handed out love so freely in return.
Quite unlike the other angels. The bookshop didn't like it when the other angels came to call. It hadn't been terribly thrilled with them even before that whole mess where they tried to end the world and the bookshop had gone up in flames (only to reawaken soon after, which was as much a surprise as the first occasion). They'd never treated Aziraphale very nicely, all condescension and impatience, and that had been before.
Now, it wasn't hard to figure out that the other angels considered Aziraphale a threat to the natural order and to Heaven in general. Or that they would rest much easier if said angel were to no longer be a problem for them. The bookshop did not like that.
It didn't like that at all.
"How are you living like this?" Uriel asked the bookshop's angel with a sneer, hands clasped behind her back as she strolled through the books as though she'd been invited.
Aziraphale didn't reply. The shop could tell he was no longer afraid of disobeying Heaven; that didn't mean the archangels themselves weren't still intimidating. Besides which, Sandalphon was standing right in front of Aziraphale with the dark, furious grin of a dog who'd been told not to attack but really, really wanted to. One wrong word might have him forgetting his orders.
"I mean, how do you live with the… stench?" Uriel went on, wrinkling her nose.
The bookshop metaphorically beamed with pride and pulled more noxious gases up from the ground beneath its foundations to leech into the room. It was a specialty of the shop's, having found long ago that it pleased the angel to no end when bad odors drove customers away.
"Gas leak," Aziraphale explained tersely. "Must have it seen to."
"You sure it's not that demon?" Sandalphon asked, fingers twitching. "Smells a little brimstoney."
"Yes, just where is your demon pet these days?" Uriel hummed, reaching out to brush her hand over the spines of a few books lining the shelves.
The shop shuddered. It didn't like her touch. It considered dropping a few heavy tomes from the upper shelves on her head, but they might blame Aziraphale for that and take it as an excuse to attack in retaliation.
Aziraphale pursed his lips together as Sandalphon sidled closer and nudged shoulders.
"Crowley isn't anyone's pet, least of all mine," Aziraphale said stiffly. "He comes and goes as he pleases. Haven't seen him in some time. Now if you'll excuse me-"
He made to move forward but Uriel was in front of him in a flash, cutting off his route to the door. "You're not excused yet," she murmured, nose almost brushing his. "I still have questions."
The bookshop seethed at the threatening treatment of its beloved angel, creaking and groaning with anger. If they even tried to harm Aziraphale, it was going to wrap them up in the area rug and drag them out the door itself.
"And I've told you," Aziraphale retorted. "He's not here."
"Then you won't mind if we look around."
It wasn't a question but the angel only quirked his brow and gestured for them to feel free. The shop happened to know the demon wasn't there at the moment. That luck was about to change, though. It felt through its foundations the rumbling of cars passing by on the pavement outside, but only one engine in all of Soho rumbled quite like that one.
Crowley was coming, and he couldn't be allowed to come in. The shop was rather fond of the snake-eyed demon it had long assumed was actually named Dearboy. It suspected these angels were going to do something… unfriendly.
With a light breeze, a strand of caution tape suddenly found itself fluttering across the front door. The Bentley would understand the warning.
Sure enough the familiar engine zoomed right on past the shop a second later, accompanied by the slight squeaking of brakes as though Dearboy was trying to stop and couldn't figure out why the pedal wasn't doing the thing the pedal always did when he pushed it.
Good, that bought a minute or two, but if Crowley was determined to stop at the bookshop then the Bentley wouldn't be able to put him off indefinitely. The shop turned its attention back to the angels.
"It's not too late, you know," Uriel was telling Aziraphale as Sandalphon started roaming the room in search of Dearboy. "You could still be welcomed back to Heaven."
"Somehow I doubt that," Aziraphale replied quietly. Somehow, the bookshop doubted it, too.
"Truly. Repent, give up this ridiculous dalliance with the demon, and all will be forgiven. Is he really worth all this?"
"You seem to be conveniently forgetting that you were prepared to destroy the world," Aziraphale frostily retorted. The shop's lights glowed warmer with pride in its angel. "Yes, I do believe it's worth it."
Sandalphon dragged a chair to a nearby bookcase and stood on it, reaching for a book on the top shelf and then tossing it over his shoulder so that it landed open, face down, bending the pages. He was smiling at Aziraphale. He looked like a weasel.
"Now really," Aziraphale protested, brows knitting together in consternation at the blatant mistreatment of the books. "Do you think anyone is hiding on the top shelf of a bookcase?"
"Better make sure, can't be too careful," Weasel Face replied smugly, tossing another book over his shoulder without even looking at the shelf, instead watching Aziraphale's distress.
"I should warn you, that chair tends to be a little-"
Aziraphale hadn't even finished before the shop enthusiastically picked up on the thought and broke the wooden chair to splinters. Weasel Face didn't have time to catch himself and fell heavily to the ground with an oomph of surprise among the broken pieces. The shop creaked with delight.
"-unstable," Aziraphale finished as Weasel Face leaped to his feet with crimson cheeks.
"You'll pay for that one," he seethed, storming back towards Aziraphale and grabbing him by the lapels of his coat.
Well, the bookshop certainly wasn't going to have any of that. Though the door didn't open, the front bell rang with a loud, cheerful ting. Even without any customers walking in, it seemed to do the trick of spooking the two unwanted guests. Weasel Face dropped his hands as Uriel sharply snapped,
"Sandalphon, let's go."
The two backed up, though Uriel was still glaring at the bookshop's angel with angry eyes.
"Think about our offer, Aziraphale," she said. "We may be merciful, but we are not patient. And better to beg our forgiveness than face the demons... I would hate to imagine some of them getting in here and dealing with you two instead."
They excused themselves with the barely concealed threat still hovering in the air. The caution tape at the front door vanished as quickly as it had arrived while the angels headed back for the street—the shop couldn't resist raising the step just enough for Weasel Face to stub his toe on it painfully on the way out. See how he liked that.
The bookshop's angel stood there for a second, watching the door with no small amount of wariness, but when neither angels nor customers appeared, he tutted and turned.
"Look at this," he sighed, kneeling down to carefully pick up the discarded books. "My poor dears, what did he have to go and do that for?" Aziraphale smoothed the bent pages with the tenderness and care that made the shop positively sigh with content.
Though he hadn't shown any sort of real fear of Weasel Face and the dark angel, Aziraphale wasn't humming as he disappeared into the tiny kitchenette to fix himself a mug of cocoa. It was enough to reveal his nerves. And so, when he'd poured the steaming beverage, Aziraphale found a bottle of Irish Cream at his elbow that he didn't remember putting there.
"Must have forgotten getting this," he decided aloud. "What luck. Just what I needed!"
And he poured a generous helping.
Outside, the Bentley was rumbling towards them again, this time coming to a careful stop outside instead of passing by. A second later, the bell over the door rang and Aziraphale tensed.
"Oi, angel! You here?"
"Oh, Crowley," Aziraphale whispered with relief, hurrying towards the main room. "Thank heaven."
"Something wrong with the car," Crowley snapped as he plucked off his dark glasses. The bookshop warmed a few degrees, knowing Dearboy was easily chilled. "Damn brakes went out on me. Had to circle all the way back around! Never had that problem before."
"Quite odd, isn't it? But just as well," Aziraphale sighed as he blew on the mug to bring it to the perfect temperature. "A few minutes sooner and you would have walked right into Sandalphon and Uriel."
The bookshop's angel went on to tell him what had happened, but Dearboy wasn't the only one wanting an explanation. Outside, the Bentley's radiator released an impatient puff of steam. At least it had understood the warning, but now some serious discussions were in order. If Heaven was going to make a habit of sending angels to pop in on their wayward principality, there would have to be a better system in place to let the Bentley know it wasn't safe to bring Dearboy in.
Bless that car's motor, it was just as protective of the angel and demon duo as the bookshop was itself. Maybe between the two of them, they could find a way to keep Aziraphale and Crowley safe from both Heaven and Hell.
The Bentley couldn't remember a time when it hadn't known exactly what it was, for obvious reasons. It certainly hadn't chosen sentience, because a choice like that would have required sentience to begin with. That was a bit like… what was that a bit like, again?
It wasn't sure if it was Crowley's imagination that kept it alive and aware, or if the demon had only imagined it once and the car had never thought to un-imagine it, or if Crowley hadn't had anything to do with it at all.
The car couldn't say. It was a car. It couldn't say much of anything.
If it could say anything, it probably would have been something along the lines of WEEEEE ARE THE CHAMPIOOONS, MY FRIEEEENDS because that was the sort of thing it loved to belt out whilst driving over a hundred miles an hour through central London.
Crowley never seemed to mind.
Right now, though, the Bentley was barely crawling along, wishing very much that it could burn off its own radio.
"Yeah, not a good time, guys," Crowley said, sounding casual but his hands were clenched too tightly around the wheel to fool the car.
"Lots of corrupting to do?" the radio asked him. Obviously not really the radio, but the demon on the other side of it. It was Hastur, the Bentley just knew it, would know that slimy, condescending, butt-ugly mildew of a demon anywhere. "Oh, I forgot. You don't do temptations anymore. You only do… what IS it you do all day, Crowley? What point do you even have, if not to do the work of demons?"
"None that need concern you, obviously. I thought we'd all agreed you were going to leave us alone?"
"I have a message from the highest authority. Forsake the angel, return to Hell, and you will be… forgiven."
The word was spat out in loathing, though neither the Bentley nor the demon really believed it anyway. Crowley snorted and adjusted the rearview mirror.
"I've seen what you lot call forgiveness. Ask me, it involves way more torture than it's supposed to."
"Nothing like your agony and suffering to appease us."
"Okay, Chuckles, I'm turning you off now. Buh-bye-"
"It doesn't matter. We'll find you. And the angel. Maybe we can't hurt you with holy water, but I bet killing the angel would do some damage to that smart attitude of yours, hmm?"
Crowley punched the knob on the dashboard, silencing the radio as Hastur started to laugh. The Bentley quivered with rage at the threat, not only to Crowley but to his Angel as well. The Bentley liked Angel. He was warm and loving and smelled like dust in sunlight and he said nice things to Crowley. No one else ever did that, and the Bentley was not going to let anyone hurt Aziraphale.
The outrage coursing through its pistons only intensified when Crowley suddenly pulled over to the side of the road. He jumped out of the car, hands clasping behind his head and running frantically through his hair.
The Bentley waited for him to calm down. It burrowed its wheels slightly into the pavement, wishing Crowley would take it through a car wash. It felt dirty, every time one of those feral hippopotamuses in Hell used it to speak through. Reporting in on mischief and being wily and such had been fun back in the day, a great game, but things were different now.
Crowley got back in the car, slamming the door shut.
"Can't do it again," he muttered as he gripped the steering wheel and leaned his head against it.
The engine revved a low croon.
"Already had to watch them take him once, didn't I? Doesn't matter if they thought it was me. I watched, I saw them take him, and I can't- But they wouldn't really leave him alone even if I did go back. Would they?"
Ugh, go back to Hell? Crowley had hated Hell, the Bentley had heard plenty of rants spoken to the empty air to know that. Besides, it knew Hastur. The best part of the whole failed Apocalypse had been being burned, just to get the smell of that festering cesspool of maggots out of its leather. Hastur was nothing but treachery and sadism and he would sooner toss Crowley on a rack for eternity than welcome him back to Hell.
Not at all caring for this line of talk, the Bentley flipped its radio back on, using the only language it had.
'Cause I've made my break
And I won't look back
I've turned my back
On those endless games.
"Radio acting up," Crowley grumbled, lifting his head to fiddle with the knob before giving it up. He sat back and let Queen play, long since resigned to the fact that it was going to no matter what he did. "I did, didn't I. Made my break, turned my back from them. Wouldn't do any good, anyway, I can't trust they'd actually leave him alone."
Good, now they were on more stable ground.
"I need to find Aziraphale."
Yes, yes, even better. The engine rumbled its approval for this plan. Ever since it had found out from the bookshop that Heaven hadn't actually decided to leave them as alone as they'd hoped, the Bentley had suspected that Hell would be right behind. The bookshop would have to know that they'd been right. They needed a plan, escape routes, contingencies, and other important sounding words.
The chicken or the egg! That was what it was like, needing to be sentient in order to choose to become sentient. The Bentley had thought it was something like that.
Must go faster... must go faster... faster!
The Bentley tore down the two lane country road as though the hounds of Hell were after it. Actually at the moment, the hounds of Hell would have been preferable. For one thing, they were ugly sons of actual bitches, but at least they didn't have wings. Unlike the four angels that were currently after the car.
Despite its best efforts, the Bentley knew it was not going to be able to outrun the angels forever.
"Angel? Angel! Hold on, just hold on, okay?" Crowley was cursing up a storm, foot mashing the pedal all the way to the floor while periodically stealing glances at the angel in the passenger seat.
Aziraphale's blood was tinged with gold and tingled on the leather of the seat. The Bentley shuddered with horror at the feeling, knowing that it meant its passenger was in very real danger. It careened over a dip in the road, jarring Angel so that he groaned in near delirious pain, clutching his wounded side.
Mentally cringing, the Bentley tried to smooth its wild trajectory to keep from jostling the injured angel.
"Damn it, you gotta stay awake, Aziraphale!" Crowley shouted. His own face was streaked with soot and blood, glasses long gone and snake eyes shining with anxiety and fear. "I can't stop the bleeding and drive at the same time! Come on, put more pressure on that!"
He let go of the wheel, peeling Angel's hand away despite his previous instructions, eyes darting between the road and the injury. A golden glow lit the small cab of the car from angel blood. Crowley cursed again, patting his breast pocket.
"I don't have anything to cover it with... angel, please, wake up, I don't know what to do! And these bastards," he added in a bellow as something struck the car, probably a bolt of angel power, "won't just give up already!"
The Bentley's engine roared in agreement with Crowley's frustration. How had they gotten themselves into this mess? All the careful planning with the bookshop, and yet Crowley and Angel had still been caught unawares and unprepared, far from the safety of home. They were at least an hour from London still, even assuming the car could keep up this pace that long, even assuming the angels wouldn't catch up before then.
Assuming Aziraphale hadn't bled out in the next few minutes.
Mentally apologizing, the Bentley let itself hit another bump so that the glove compartment fell open, dumping a clean rag that hadn't been there a second ago into Angel's lap. Crowley didn't stop to question when he'd put that in there, snatching it up and pressing it to the glowing wound in the angel's side.
Aziraphale arched in the seat and cried out in agony at the touch, making the Bentley quiver harder in dismay. Crowley was cursing again but didn't pull away.
The Bentley felt itself starting to slow as Crowley's foot eased off the pedal, unable to fully split his attention between the breakneck drive and his bleeding friend. With a growl, the car threw itself forward even faster than before, racing with all the speed it had ever had, and quite a bit of speed that it wasn't supposed to have in the first place.
They needed a plan, a plan... The car kept its headlights peeled, spotting a tall building silhouetted in the distance. A steeple rose high into the air out in the countryside; churchyard. Hmm. The consecrated ground would be torture for the demon, but it was therefore the last place the angels would ever consider looking for him. The car had enough of a lead still and it was around a bend...
The tape deck, currently occupied by a cassette of The Temptations, turned itself on. Instead of the smooth R&B (Angel would have called it "bebop" and though the car adored Azirpahale it honestly could not deal with him sometimes), it predictably started a line of Queen.
Spread your wings and fly away
Fly away far away
Spread your little wings and fly away
Fly away far away
Pull yourself together-
"Really? Now?" Crowley snapped, twisting from Aziraphale to glower at the radio. The demon paused, catching sight of the church ahead as the Bentley had intended. Crowley exhaled. "Wait wait wait, that would work. They'd never expect... Aziraphale! Angel! Hey, come on, open your eyes. We have to bail and I need you awake."
Angel groaned but didn't stir. The Bentley shook the passenger seat as gently as it could, trying to coax him awake as the church loomed ever closer.
"No time," Crowley grumbled. He put both hands back on the wheel and gripped it tightly.
The Bentley could feel the demon's power suffusing its engine and wheels. He knew Crowley was imagining with all his might that the car would be able to keep driving without him, to lead the angels away.
Funny that Crowley could imagine that, and yet had clearly never imagined that the Bentley could have done so even without his help.
Uncertainly, the demon released the wheel and lifted his foot from the pedal. The Bentley obligingly roared onward its own in reassurance that it could and would follow the plan. It rumbled with pleasure when Crowley barked a short laugh and patted the dash.
"Good car," he murmured. "Give 'em what for."
The Bentley shut off the lights and the scenery was thrown into darkness as it whirled around the curve in the road and tore through the churchyard. A line of hedges edged the border of the small parking lot. Crowley shoved his door open and grabbed his angel by the coat, bailing into the shadows with a helpful tip of the seat from the Bentley.
Passengers gone, the car slammed the doors shut again and took off alone. There was no sight of the demon or the angel in the mirrors and the Bentley didn't dare slow down long enough to make sure they were alright. It rumbled loudly to keep the other angels' attentions focused on it, then threw all its power into drawing them as far from the churchyard as possible.
The volume gleefully cranked up to 12.
I'm a racing car, passing by like Lady Godiva
I'm gonna go, go, go
There's no stopping me
They did stop the Bentley eventually.
As anticipated, the angels were less than thrilled with the empty car they found.
"They're not here!" Stupid Angel shouted, slamming the door shut as the Bentley went dormant with a softly idling engine.
"They have to be," Stupider Angel growled. She opened the passenger side door and leaned in, jabbing her sword around the empty air as though maybe Crowley and Aziraphale were just invisible. It didn't work, which made her look a bit ridiculous. "There's nowhere they could have gone!"
The Bentley considered lurching to the side and dumping her out. But, giving these self-righteous hooligans reason to believe it had any part of this when it had nowhere to escape to seemed like a bad idea. It held as still as possible, trying not to shudder in disgust as the angel gang continued opening the other doors and even the boot in search of the passengers that had previously been in there.
"Well, it didn't just drive itself out here," Stupidest Angel maintained stubbornly and incorrectly with arms crossed. "Maybe we should take the whole thing back to Heaven and strip it down."
Oh that sounded like a bad plan. The Bentley forced itself not to quiver in alarm at that idea.
One of the angels, it had forgotten the lineup of Stupid to Stupidest already, snapped their fingers to turn on some Heavenly light so they could get a better look. Another jammed the button on the dash to turn on the radio, and wasn't that interesting?
"You have them?" Froghead Hastur asked from Hell with unsettling eagerness.
"No," Some Level of Stupid Angel snapped back. "They got away somewhere."
Froghead exhaled over the radio and static buzzed. "Crowley and your angel are a threat to both sides. They need to be stopped now while they still can be."
"I'm aware of the mission. Wouldn't be working with the likes of you otherwise, would we?"
"Besides, he melted Ligur with-"
"Yes, yes, we've heard this a hundred times. I don't care what your personal issues with that demon are, I just want them stopped! Rest assured, when we catch them, Heaven will see to it you never see him again."
"And Hell will find a fitting place for the angel."
"We did try to offer him mercy," Unnecessarily Menacing Angel seemed compelled to add, as though that would make what they were threatening in any way acceptable. "We gave him every chance. It pains me to have to condemn him, but-"
Me too, the Bentley thought. This was bad. Killing them right away would have been awful, of course, but dragging them to opposite corners would be even worse. The Bentley didn't know which would be getting the more horrifying end of that deal and it wasn't about to let it happen, not as long as it had petrol in the tank.
Bad analogy, it hadn't had petrol in the tank in over seventy years.
The angels turned off the radio, regrouping outside the Bentley. They seemed displeased. The way mama bears tended to get grouchy when separated from their cubs. Only the bears were armed with swords and knew how to use them.
"Split up," an Angel in Charge decided, clutching her own blade and pointing it out into the night. "Find them! They were both wounded, they must be somewhere close by!"
The others nodded and scattered in separate directions. Angel in Charge (the Bentley thought this one might have been Stupider Angel originally, but they all looked the same to it, except The Angel which was Aziraphale) turned back to the car and growled.
Glass shattered as a furious fist crashed into the windscreen. Still the Bentley held as still as possible, waiting until Violent Angel disappeared back up into the clouds in a flash of light before it sank slightly into the ground in relief at not being blown to smithereens.
For a long moment, the car sat there, trembling a little at the close call and half afraid that the angels would come right back. After a short while without the heavenly light returning to the darkness, it decided it was as safe as it was ever going to be, which admittedly wasn't very. The longer it waited, the longer Crowley was stuck in a churchyard.
No music played on the radio, and the engine was as soft as possible as the Bentley reversed. Pointing its nose back down the way it had come, the car hurried back towards the church.
It took entirely too long, what with having to be so cautious at the slightest noise because it might be an angel swooping in to blow it up—and with it, Crowley and Angel's only chance at getting back to the safety of the bookshop.
When the churchyard did finally pull back up into view, the Bentley was half afraid it would be awash with divine light and heavenly wrath, but the place was still and silent. It turned off the head lamps again, creeping into the parking lot where it had dumped its passengers.
The asphalt burned a bit, just enough of Crowley's demonic influence infused in the car to make the consecrated ground uncomfortable. Still, the Bentley rolled quietly forward towards the hedges.
There! The engine rumbled in relief as it spotted Crowley and Angel pressed into the cover of the greenery. Oh, but poor Crowley…
The engine whined softly in distress, seeing how tightly the demon's teeth were gritted, seeing more tracks running through the soot down Crowley's face from his eyes. He was clutching some of the branches of the shrubs, clearly trying to hold his weight off the ground, but there was smoke rising from the soles of his shoes, probably burned clear through.
At the sound of the car, Crowley looked up with eyes widening.
"Can't believe that actually worked," he murmured. The demon released the shrubs, falling completely onto the church ground so that steam rose all around him and he gasped slightly in pain. "Angel, come on. We gotta get… gotta get out of here."
Aziraphale hadn't moved or woken. The rag at his side seemed to have been secured in place with Crowley's tie, but there was still a faint glow from beneath it. The Bentley had learned a lot of things about angels over the years, but what to do about this wasn't on the list. All it could do was sidle up as close to the duo as it could and push the doors open.
It waited, agonized, as Crowley struggled to get Angel into the car with his own strength clearly waning. Every breath he took was a strained cry as the ground continued to burn him, but finally Angel was in and Crowley wearily crawled over him into the driver's seat and collapsed.
"Dick move," he grumbled at the busted windscreen, brushing bits of glass away. Crowley held up his hand as though to fix it, but then fell back with a sigh. Probably he was too drained to even drive the thing, let alone use any power to fix it.
Giving the Bentley a quick look over to assess the rest of the damage, the demon paused as he glanced into the backseat.
"When did I put that in there?" he asked out loud, grabbing the pillow and blanket that sat in a neat pile in the back. "Must have been Aziraphale. Clever angel."
Crowley grabbed both, carefully tucking the pillow under Angel's head and draping the blanket over him like a shield against anything else that wished him harm.
The engine crooned in reassurance, idling as Crowley tried to get himself situated as well. He smelled like burned flesh. At least it had worked; clearly the angels hadn't even considered looking for them there. Now if they could just make it back to London, they could regroup and heal.
"Okay," Crowley said bracingly, taking a deep breath and gripping the wheel. "Okay…"
And then he passed out.
The bookshop was starting to get worried.
It shouldn't have let Aziraphale and Dearboy leave, not that it really could have kept them there, but why had they gone so far from home when they both knew there was a very real danger after them?
The Bentley would do everything it could to keep them safe. The bookshop knew that. But it was well after midnight and they weren't back yet and it just knew something had gone wrong. They'd been caught, it was sure of it. Maybe by demons, maybe by angels, maybe by both—it was becoming increasingly clear that Heaven and Hell had decided to put their differences aside to deal with "the threats" so who knew which direction the danger would come from?
Somewhere in the kitchenette, a pipe started to drip drip drip drip drip drip drip in lieu of being able to anxiously drum any fingertips.
What if they had been caught? What if they were, even as it sat there uselessly, huddled in a tiny cell in either Hell or Heaven, awaiting some awful fate? What if they were wounded? Both sides would know by now that they could use one against the other, and if Aziraphale had to watch them hurt his Dearboy, it would destroy him.
Well, that wasn't going to happen on the bookshop's watch, not if it could help it. Though there was a very real possibility it wouldn't be able to help it.
Throwing books around and flicking the lights was one thing but actually keeping angels and demons away? Especially given the particular problem that Aziraphale and Dearboy were angels and demons, so how to keep out all the others but allowing those two in particular?
There had to be a way. All these books and all this information right there within its very walls, surely someone at some point had written down helpful tips for dealing with eldritch forces of good and evil. That was exactly the sort of thing that ought to be written down.
It did know of some ways to ban angels and demons alike from crossing the threshold, symbols and runes to put up on its walls that would make it impermeable. That would be somewhere to start, at least, though it would have to make sure Aziraphale and Crowley were already inside. Even that would only buy a little time.
Where had it seen that book?
The bookshelves began to shift and rattle as various titles were rearranged and sifted through. Heavy first editions were pulled from the bottoms of tall piles and immediately discarded into others as the shop distractedly searched for the one it wanted.
The old book fluttered down to the reading desk and the cozy lamp flicked on. Pages shuffled rapidly aside until they came to rest at one section showing several different runes. The shop studied the symbols. They were quite complex but not impossible. Originally they had been burned into people's skin to prevent possession, but honestly no demon had bothered with such things in thousands of years and no angel but Aziraphale had ever attempted it at all.
The bookshop would just have to make sure Aziraphale found this book and got the idea to use it.
Drat it all, where was that angel?
The dripping in the kitchenette continued, other books now starting to rearrange themselves with nervous energy around the shelves. The bookshop shifted all the dust from the wooden surfaces and floors into a pile to be dealt with later. It checked all the clocks to make sure they were working properly and then restocked Aziraphale's stores of cocoa and tea.
So help it, if Dearboy had gotten careless and let any harm come to Aziraphale, the bookshop was going to make sure everything the demon touched gave him a whack in the head.
Somewhere out in the night, a familiar engine rumbled.
The books the shop had been rearranging all fell in a tumble to the floor as it ignored everything else in favor of eagerly listening for the Bentley's approach. Except… it was moving awfully fast. And only getting faster, making a beeline for the store.
And the pavement outside suddenly stank of brimstone and sulfur…
The lights exploded in alarm as the bookshop realized the Bentley was only barely outrunning demons in pursuit. There was an awful whine to the engine—it wasn't going to last much longer. And now the horn was blaring in short, panicked bursts, and the bookshop was reasonably sure Crowley wasn't the one making it go.
Oh, oh dear, oh this was bad. The bookshop's attention fluttered back to the runes in the book on the desk, an idea forming. This would need very precise timing. It couldn't wait for Aziraphale to do the work himself.
The front door burst open, bell nearly flung from its holder. The opening widened, stretching far beyond the confines of the doorway it was meant to be constrained to. Bricks rattled as they folded out in unnatural directions and the windows screeched as glass slid out of the way.
Every light in the shop turned on at once as a beacon to guide the Bentley in.
Hurry hurry hurry! It wanted to shriek as the Bentley roared around the corner down the road, making a beeline for the shop's impossibly wide doorway. And yes, there behind it, a troupe of demons on the hunt. Dearboy was passed out in the driver's seat, not controlling the car anymore, while Aziraphale sat unconscious next to him.
The Bentley hit the curb outside the bookshop so hard that it was vaulted up and forward, sailing into the open space of the shop and landing with a thud and a crunch in the middle of the floor. Immediately, the walls zoomed back into place and the door closed with a bang.
Locks turned, runes appeared on the doors, windows, floor, and walls.
Five bodies hit the side of the shop like flies on a windscreen, and then all was still.
The bookshop had fallen dead silent, which was not a very comfortable turn of phrase.
Sitting in the middle of the shop, crammed so tightly into the center of the circular room that it could only have fit itself there by magic, the Bentley shuddered with clear exhaustion. The shop didn't want to think about how hard and fast it must have driven in order to get them there.
Neither Aziraphale nor Dearboy were moving, or indeed awake. The windscreen of the car was completely shattered, so they had obviously been attacked and there was no saying how badly injured any of them were. Carefully, the bookshop pushed one of the plush sofas over towards the car—it had to wiggle a bit to get in close enough to Aziraphale's door, given the tight quarters—and nudged the Bentley.
With a soft whine, the Bentley popped the passenger side door open and tilted the seat so that Aziraphale rolled out onto the sofa along with his pillow and blanket. The bookshop drew the couch back to its usual place, noting with worry the rag secured to the angel's torso and the gold stain left on it.
The shop was going to turn its attention to Crowley next, but the Bentley seemed to have lost whatever remained of its energy and went dormant. It might really have been just a car that had finally remembered it had no petrol or driver and therefore wasn't good for much but holding the rug down.
And Dearboy was still in the car, but he needed to get out and see to Aziraphale, because there was realistically only so much the bookshop could actually do. So, it did the only thing it could think of on short notice and under pressure.
Picking up one of the larger books, but not a priceless one (Aziraphale wouldn't like one of those being tossed about), the bookshop threw the volume at Crowley's head.
"Get back!" Dearboy slurred, coming awake with a start and trying to leap up only to smack his head even harder on the roof of the car. Limbs flailing, he finally managed to extract himself from the car, falling out of the Bentley onto the floor of the bookshop. He leaped unsteadily back up with hands raised in fists and forked tongue flickering threateningly at the non-existent attackers.
Scrappy little thing.
Finding no one there, Dearboy seemed to crumple, limping painfully back towards the Bentley and sitting heavily in it. Only then was it obvious how badly burned he was, the soles of his shoes completely gone and singed holes up and down the legs of his jeans.
It must have been a terrible ordeal, whatever had happened. When Crowley pulled a pair of dark glasses out of the glovebox and hid his lovely golden eyes, the bookshop knew beyond a doubt how shaken the demon had to be. He hadn't covered his eyes in the shop in ages.
This done, Dearboy finally looked around his surroundings and cocked his head, bewildered.
Over on the sofa, Aziraphale moaned and stirred, which was a massive relief. It also drew Crowley's attention and the demon was soon hobbling over to him.
"Angel! Aziraphale! Thank someone."
"Oh, I hurt," Aziraphale groaned, raising a shaky hand and blinking his eyes open at last. He winced and looked down at the rag pressed against his side.
"Don't touch it," Crowley snapped at him when Aziraphale reached down to do just that. "Is it healing yet?"
"Hard to say," Aziraphale replied. The angel sat himself up with some difficulty. He blinked. "We're home. How? There were angels…"
"Yes, I was there when they stabbed you, remember?" Dearboy's expression darkened to the same degree of anger that the bookshop felt, that anyone would have attacked its beloved angel.
And yet, the pursuers it had felt coming after the Bentley had most definitely been demons. What exactly had happened?
Carefully, Dearboy undid the tie holding the rag in place. He exhaled. "Bleeding's stopped," he grunted. "That's something. And it's not glowing anymore."
"I don't understand how we could have evaded them though," Aziraphale said. His eyes flicked to the Bentley, still sitting in the center of the shop. Bafflement crossed his face and he opened his mouth like he really wanted to ask, but then seemed to think better of it.
"Churchyard," Crowley replied with a pained shrug. "I bailed out with you and sent the car to give 'em the ol' goose chase. Never figured on looking for us somewhere I'm not supposed to be able to-"
"Crowley! Oh my dear boy, just look at you! A churchyard, what were you thinking? You know what consecrated ground does to you!"
Aziraphale had all but shot off the couch in distress, gripping the demon's shoulders and looking him up and down.
"Yeah, hard to forget," Dearboy grumbled back. "Worked, didn't it?"
Aziraphale probably would have gone on to scold him more, but a heavy whump on the door interrupted the squabble.
"We know you're in there, Crowley!" someone unfriendly shouted from the outside. The smell of brimstone had returned, but there was also a whiff of righteousness.
"Aziraphale, enough of this! Come out of there and bring the demon with you!"
"Gabriel," Aziraphale gasped. He lurched for the door but aborted the move with a pained cry, clutching the table for support and cradling his wound.
"I'm serious!" Gabriel bellowed. The door thudded again. "You think you can stay barricaded in there forever?"
"Why aren't they coming in?" Crowley hissed as he took several limping steps backwards, his hand reaching blindly behind him for anything he could use as a weapon. The only thing he seemed able to find was a candle snuffer, and the shop didn't know what on earth the demon planned to do with it.
"There's nowhere left to run, Crowley!" a different demon snarled on the other side of the door, banging her fist on it. "Take down the wards!"
"The w- oh!" Dearboy straightened, beaming, as he hurried to inspect the symbols carved into the doorway. "Clever angel! That will keep them out. Right?"
Aziraphale moved in line with him, brow furrowed as he ran his hand over the runes. "They will, but… I didn't draw these. Did I?"
"Must have done. I wouldn't know them. If it wasn't me, it must have been you."
The bookshop rolled its proverbial eyes.
"I suppose you're right. Goodness, I must have been more out of it than I realized."
"Well you were already passed out on the couch when I woke up. And look, you left the book on the table."
Aziraphale looked between the book, the sofa, the door, and the car. Though the crease between his eyebrows only grew more pronounced with increasing mystification, the angel slowly nodded. "I, er… yes, so I did. Only explanation, really."
Another heavy fist on the door. "Aziraphale!"
"Ah, stuff it, you feathered, flying monkey!" Dearboy shouted back at the door, making the bookshop all but coo with delight at hearing the words it had always wanted to say voiced aloud. "You can't get in here, and we're not going out there, so you might as well trot right back where you came from."
Shocked silence followed; the shop could only imagine the apoplexy Gabriel must have been experiencing to be spoken to Like That.
"Oh, Crowley," Aziraphale murmured. A second later, the loudest thud of all threw itself at the door, the walls, even a few knocks under their feet as more demons tried and failed to come up through the floor directly from Hell.
The shop, however, was sealed down tight. If it could have smirked, it would have done so, with great pride.
"I don't think he liked that," Dearboy said with a shrug. "We're stuck too, you know. We can't cross either."
"As long as they're out there, I have no intention of trying to leave," Aziraphale sighed. "They'll get bored of it eventually. Now really, you must get off your feet, dear boy. It's got to be paining you awfully. Just a tick, I do believe I have some ointment I can put on it."
Turning their backs on the door, Aziraphale guided the demon back towards the sofa and urged him gently into it. He disappeared into the back but returned a second later with a metal tin and a roll of bandages. After pulling what remained of Crowley's shoes off carefully, the angel knelt down with a pained grimace and dipped his hand into the ointment.
"How long were we in the churchyard?" he asked softly.
Crowley grunted and took several sharp breaths. "Not sure. A while."
Aziraphale shook his head. "You should have left me there and gone somewhere safer to hide-"
"Don't be stupid. What, leave you there to bleed to death? The only chance we've got is sticking together."
"Leave it, angel."
Aziraphale pursed his lips but didn't argue further. He finished rubbing the ointment in then set the tin aside so he could bandage Crowley's feet. Finished, Aziraphale twisted to sit heavily on the floor with his back to the sofa. The angel was still wincing when he moved and guarding his wounded side painfully, but it did seem to be closing itself up a bit at a time.
For a moment, they sat in silence.
Finally, Aziraphale seemed unable to take it any longer.
"Can we address the car in the room?"
"…Suppose you could," Crowley replied doubtfully and with some concern. "But you'd be wasting your breath."
"No, my dear, I don't mean talk to the car. I mean can we address the fact that your car is inside my bookshop, and I'd rather like to know how and why?"
"Oh. Yeah, not sure. I don't even remember driving it here, truth be told. Must have blacked out."
"Crowley, it shouldn't have fit through the door."
"And we shouldn't have stopped the Apocalypse with an eleven-year-old and a bit of arguing about semantics, but here we are."
Finally, Aziraphale huffed softly with a light smile. He tilted his head up to look at Crowley. "Here we are. Right then. You should rest and finish healing. There's a bed upstairs if you can make it that far. I never use the thing. And Gabriel and his lot aren't getting in here anytime soon, so you might as well take the opportunity."
"What about you? In case you haven't noticed, there's a gaping hole in your side."
Aziraphale looked down at himself and shrugged. "It'll be right as rain before too long. Fortunate that Zachariah missed any sort of vital hit. There's nothing to do for it but wait, in any case. I'm going to do some reading and see if I can figure out any way to improve our situation."
Dearboy looked as doubtful as the bookshop felt, but he shrugged and pushed himself upright. The demon almost immediately buckled with a pained hiss so Aziraphale caught his arm and pulled it over his shoulder. Slowly and painstakingly, they made their way upstairs.
Outside, the pounding on the door only intensified.
The bookshop blamed itself when it all went south.
How could it have been so stupid?
Aziraphale had gotten Dearboy settled upstairs then sat himself down to dive into more old books because the angel was a firm believer that any problem could be solved by reading the right book. He was usually right. But this time there wasn't going to be an opportunity to find out.
The constant bombardment of angels and demons alike on the doors and walls (and one notable sound of an angel smacking into the impenetrable roof with a pained squawk) had made the shop complacent, believe the defenses to be foolproof.
This time, the fools outside had gotten smart.
The shop was so intent on keeping an eye on Aziraphale and the still dormant Bentley that it paid no attention to the room Crowley was passed out in… until the upstairs window slammed open and several People jumped inside.
It realized its mistake the second it felt the human feet. The sigils were intended to prevent angels or demons from crossing. But: if an angel with a body then put that body inside another body, the angelic essence would be diluted just enough to squeak by. No one had bothered with possession in so long that the bookshop hadn't even thought to add protection against that.
It all but howled in fury at the intrusion, more sigils finding themselves burned into the building to now keep humans out as well, but it was too late to stop the three that were already inside.
Crowley never stood a chance, snoring lightly on Aziraphale's bed. The three—two angels and a demon, each wearing a human—grabbed him and dragged him to the floor. He spluttered with surprise and lashed out, but one of the angels caught his arm and twisted it violently behind him.
"Not a sound," the angel hissed, pressing his blade tightly against Crowley's throat as he hauled him back up.
"Angel!" Crowley shouted anyway. "Aziraphale, run!"
The three intruders cursed, forcing Dearboy with them towards the staircase. The demon hobbled along with agonized gasps. They hadn't gotten halfway down before a horrified looking Aziraphale came crashing around the corner to the bottom of the stairs and froze at the sight.
"Hold it right there, white wings," the unwelcome demon snapped, jerking her chin towards Crowley. "I don't think I have to tell you what happens if you don't."
"Sorry, angel," Dearboy murmured, writhing a bit in his captor's grip but not accomplishing much.
Swallowing, Aziraphale slowly held his hands out. "Don't," he said softly. "Please, don't hurt him."
"You, demon," the angel not holding Dearboy imperiously commanded the other intruder. "Grab him."
Aziraphale blanched as the demon slithered down the stairs and grabbed him by the back of the collar. "Gabriel?" he gasped, looking over his shoulder when the demon shoved him roughly back into the main room. "But- you…"
"Don't act so shocked," Gabriel-inside-the-human snorted. "You're not above a little possession yourself, are you?"
"Well, yes, but…"
"Shut up and get in there. Sandalphon, keep hold of that serpent."
Ah, so Weasel Face was their other guest. Even with a different body, he was still a Weasel Face. He would never be anything but a Weasel Face. And right now, Weasel Face was clearly doing everything he could to make sure Crowley felt each and every agonizing step as he kept the demon's arm twisted behind him almost to breaking point and the sword all but slitting his throat.
Out in the open space, Gabriel-ish beamed and clapped his hands together. "Excellent. Now we're getting somewhere. Really, Aziraphale, I don't know what you were thinking with all this. You had to know it was inevitable we would get in eventually. You would have made it so much easier on yourself if you'd cooperated from the start."
"You mean you wouldn't have let the demons have him?" Crowley snorted, grunting in pain when he got a harsh shake for his trouble.
Gabriel-ish seemed unperturbed. "Oh no, don't get me wrong. You've both become a serious liability. We'll have to do something about that. But I might have been persuaded to give him yet another chance if he asked nicely enough."
The bookshop wanted to wipe that smug look off the archangel's borrowed face with a scalding hot teapot. Certainly his definition of "asking nicely enough" would have included a lot of groveling and self-deprecation and humiliation on Aziraphale's part, and that just wasn't going to happen.
Gabriel-ish shrugged. "Not that it matters now. I'm done being nice. You've brought this on yourself, Aziraphale. For you and your little demon pal."
Aziraphale shot Dearboy an anxious look but didn't move. The demon fisting her hand in the back of his coat collar leaned in close to his ear and giggled.
"He's going back to Heaven," she explained gleefully. "The angels can have him. But you? You're coming downstairs with us. It's going to be great."
Aziraphale leaned away from her face, expression tightening even more. He made a move as though to push away from her but Weasel Face clucked his tongue. A second later, a strangled whimper forced its way through Crowley's clenched teeth as his arm was torqued back even more, and Aziraphale fell still.
Gabriel-ish, meanwhile, strolled up to the doorway and drew his sword. Digging the tip into the wood above the sigil on the doorway, he slashed down to remove it.
Only, nothing happened. The wood remained unsullied, the rune still placidly right where it had been a second ago. Gabriel-ish frowned and tried again with the same non-effect.
The bookshop had read once that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. If that was the case, Gabriel-ish was certainly insane, as he tried a third time to slice a gouge through the rune to disrupt its power and allow them to cross. The lights flickered in delight at the archangel's struggle.
"It's not going to work," Aziraphale murmured.
Gabriel-ish spun his direction, hand shooting up to grip Aziraphale by the jaw. He squeezed hard enough for his knuckles to stand out white, but the angel met his furious glare with calm stubbornness.
"You can't break the protective runes," Aziraphale explained. "You didn't draw them."
Tearing him away from the demon, Gabriel-ish propelled Aziraphale around and backwards, slamming him hard against the door. The angel gasped softly as Gabriel-ish pushed him up until he was on tip-toe. Instinctively, Aziraphale raised a hand to try and free himself from the archangel's grip, but Gabriel-ish grabbed his wrist and pinned that to the door as well.
"They're… to prevent… demon attacks," Aziraphale choked out. "Wouldn't be very… protective… if the demon or angel could- could just… break it themselves. It's all… in… the book."
"He's right," the demon snapped as she leaned over the still open book on the table. She jabbed a finger at the page. "These can only be broken by the one who drew them to begin with."
Huffing with impatience, Gabriel-ish yanked Aziraphale away from the wall only to spin him around and push the sword blade up against his neck.
"Take down the wards, Aziraphale."
"Seems to me it's the only bargaining chip we've got," Dearboy piped up. He was rewarded with another cruel jerk from Weasel Face, twisting his wrist so hard that they all heard the crack a second later. Crowley choked off a cry of pain, bucking forward only to be pulled back in tight against Weasel Face. "You get off on this?" Dearboy bit out.
"One more word and maybe I'll cut that forked tongue right out," Weasel Face suggested darkly.
The other demon giggled again with a happy clap of anticipation. The bookshop didn't like Perky Demon Barbie one bit.
"Enough!" Gabriel-ish barked. "Aziraphale! The wards! Now!"
The angel paused, then shook his head. "No."
The sword dug in deeper. "I said, now! Unless you're hoping I'll give you a quick death instead of whatever the demons have planned. Because you're about two seconds away from getting just that."
"Except, if I'm the only one who can take the wards down, and you kill me, you're trapped in here forever," Aziraphale pointed out boldly. "Let us go and we can talk."
Gabriel-ish growled and pulled the sword away from Aziraphale's throat, only to press it into the angel's grip instead. "We don't have time for this," he snapped. He closed his fist around Aziraphale's hand, keeping him from dropping the sword. Ignoring the angel's struggles, Gabriel-ish forced the sword up and slashed one more time at the warding.
It remained comfortably solid. The bookshop would have smiled if it could. They were quite correct that the symbols could only be removed by the one who had drawn them, but that was not, in fact, Aziraphale.
No one was going anywhere unless the bookshop allowed it.
The room's occupants all stared at the unbroken sigil without speaking. Perky Demon Barbie slid her eyes back to the book with a frown.
"Maybe… maybe it doesn't work if you're forcing his hand?"
Gabriel-ish released Aziraphale and stepped back. "Open it. Now. You've got, oh, three seconds before I have Sandalphon start poking holes in your demon pet."
"Angel, don't," Crowley urged through gritted teeth.
"I… I don't think I can," Aziraphale admitted slowly. He raised the sword, regarding the wards, and tentatively sliced at the wood. Nothing happened. "The truth is… I don't believe I did put these here. I can't break it."
Gabriel-ish's face darkened dangerously, and he grabbed the sword back again before slinging Aziraphale around and down to the floor. The angel hit the ground hard, crying out as it jarred his side. Panting, Aziraphale scrambled backwards away from the looming archangel only to run up against one of the shelves.
"You," Gabriel-ish seethed, "are far more trouble than you're worth." The archangel snapped his fingers and Weasel Face bundled Crowley over to the wall as well and thrust the demon down. "Now… until one of you opens that door, we're all going to stay right here. And trust me," he finished darkly, "you are not going to enjoy our time together. You're not going to enjoy it at all."
The Bentley awoke to an urgent, persistent tap against its wheels. The rug in the bookshop, it thought vaguely, with only the briefest consideration to how it had gotten there. There had been a pursuit, a breakneck race back to Soho, and then… yes, it had reached the shop and seemed to have made it inside.
A choked cry of pain brought the Bentley back to full awareness. Angel!
"I said I don't know!" Crowley shouted a second later. "I couldn't possibly have done them! You'd already caught me when the second lot showed up. Leave him alone!"
"I will ask you," a cold, irate voice snapped, "one more time. How do we get out of here?"
"Look, I don't know what you're expecting here. I told you: I. Don't. Know."
The Bentley took in the scene it had woken to: Crowley and Angel were seated back to back on the floor, bound hand and foot. Three others stood over them, vaguely human but smelling too much like mud and clouds for it. Crowley looked furious, but Angel was tense and gray. The wound in his side was glowing with golden drops that dripped down in bloody streaks.
One of the angel dickwads standing over the two didn't seem to like the answer; he nodded to the demon dickwad (not Crowley but Murder Bunny over there), who giggled and slammed the toe of her shoe into Angel's bleeding side.
Aziraphale clenched his eyes closed and gasped in pain between ragged breaths.
"Stop it!" Crowley cried out, wiggling in an attempt to turn and see what was happening.
"Then tell me what I want to know! I'm not staying trapped in here forever! Do you know who I am?"
"Why, have you forgotten?"
The angel (the Bentley didn't know, nor care, who it was) stomped hard on Crowley's bare, bandaged feet, and the demon all but howled in agony.
"Now really," Aziraphale protested painfully. "There's no need for this senseless brutality, Gabriel. He can't possibly have been the one to draw the wards. Please, just let him go."
"Go? With those wards up, he can't GO anywhere either!"
The Bentley was struggling to catch up with what exactly was going on, but the rug beneath it was tapping it urgently again. One tasseled end pointed furtively towards the doorway. The Bentley shifted its attention in that direction.
Ah, well that cleared some of it up. The bookshop had enacted one of their contingency plans apparently, but in no iteration of their plotting had there been enemy forces inside with Crowley and Angel. Not good. How had that happened? The Bentley knew both passengers had been unconscious by the time it had reached the shop, and the demons chasing them had been too close. So the bookshop must have put up the wards on its own, the clever bastard, which meant…
Right, so the bad guys couldn't get back out (they shouldn't have gotten in, it thought with a hint of reproach) and of course neither Crowley nor Angel would have any idea how to get out because only the bookshop itself could erase the marks. But if the shop released them all now, the bad guys would just take their prisoners away. This was a bit of a sticky mess.
General Asshole was back at the door again, running his hands over the wood. The Bentley felt the deep thrum of displeasure in the bookshop's floorboards; it considered just running the three intruders over and discorporating them back to their respective homes, except that would kill the three humans they seemed to be possessing.
Not that the Bentley would have been extraordinarily concerned, but the bookshop—for all it did to drive people away—would get all uppity and upset about killing humans and then the Bentley would never hear the end of it.
"If they can't undo the wards," Slimy Angel said to General Asshole, casually flipping a sword in his hands, "then there's no real reason to keep them alive. Why don't we-"
"No," General Asshole griped at the same time Murder Bunny whined,
"White wings is ours, we were promised!"
"Shut it, demon," General Asshole growled. "We can't kill them. I don't care what they say, they must have done this. And if they won't tell us how-"
"We can't, we don't know!" Crowley snapped while Angel softly whispered for him to stay quiet.
It seemed General Asshole wanted the same thing, because he snapped his fingers once and strips of cloth wound over their mouths. Silence fell, broken only by the two prisoners' harried breaths and General Asshole's light sigh of frustrated relief.
"Now then," he gritted out, eyes falling on the car. "If we can't open the door… well, perhaps we'll just have to make a new one. There's nothing in that warding that will stop a car from breaking down a wall."
Hmm, well he could be right. The Bentley didn't much care for the idea of being turned into a battering ram that would enable these three to escape and take Crowley and Angel with them. It tensed as Murder Bunny clapped her hands in delight and sprung over, grabbed the door handle, and pulled.
The Bentley refused to open. The locks engaged, leaving Murder Bunny to growl and yank fruitlessly at the handle several more times with no effect.
A breeze blew through the open pages of the book on the table, mimicking the sound of a snort of laughter. Murder Bunny did not seem to like this much.
"Open, you stupid thing!" she shouted, giving the driver's side door a hefty kick.
Crowley growled into his gag, but the Bentley didn't even mind. Totally worth it. It stubbornly remained locked as General Asshole narrowed his eyes and snapped,
"Quit screwing around and get in."
With a pout, Murder Bunny had no recourse but to scramble over the bonnet of the car, scooting ungracefully through the busted windscreen into the driver's seat.
"Do you even know how to work that thing?" Slimy Angel asked with his nose in the air.
Murder Bunny gripped the wheel. "Nothing to it," she assured him, eyeing the dash. The demon reached for the ignition switch and twisted the key that hadn't been used to turn the car on for as long as the Bentley could remember. It decided that it didn't like that whole key thing at all and so it didn't work.
The demon frowned, squinching her face like a constipated gopher, and tried again. The Bentley gave her a proverbial shrug and turned on the radio.
"Jezebel, why have you not reported in?" Froghead Hastur immediately demanded from the other side. "What's happening in there?"
"Hello! Hello, reporting in, Hastur. You won't believe this, but that insufferable idiot Crowley and his angel have some kind of warding on the place," Murder Bunny managed to say before the Bentley killed the radio again.
After, of course, making sure the static had conveniently filtered through so that her message said only, "Hello Hastur you insufferable idiot."
Frustrated, Murder Bunny smacked the dash. The Bentley wasn't sure which button she'd hit or what it was supposed to do, but opted to make it work the recline function of the driver's seat. True, a car that actually had a recline function tended to recline backwards instead of forwards, but the Bentley was a little foggy when it came to "rules" and instead slammed the seat forward so that the demon nearly knocked herself out on the steering wheel.
Somewhere in the bookshop, a set of pipes wheezed in what the Bentley understood to be even louder laughter.
Murder Bunny groaned, holding her broken nose in one hand and smacking more buttons indiscriminately with the other. It was a terrible idea. The Bentley gleefully squirted windscreen washer fluid into the air, sounded the horn, and exploded an airbag it hadn't had a second before right into her face.
With an enraged shriek, the demon shoved the now unlocked door open and tumbled out of the car. She stumbled over to Crowley and hauled him forward slightly so that Aziraphale was pulled backwards with him with a soft grunt.
"How do you turn it on?" she shouted, yanking the gag down out of his mouth.
Crowley's golden eyes narrowed. "Have you tried asking it nicely?"
Murder Bunny let go of him and slapped his face hard enough that his head slammed into the back of Aziraphale's, who released a muffled complaint about it. Giving her a double snake-eyed glare, Crowley spat out a bit of blood.
"When we get out of here," Murder Bunny hissed, "we're gonna carve your boyfriend into little angel ribbons. Just so you know."
"Then why the heaven would I help you get out of here?"
"Enough of that," General Asshole overrode them with an imperious gesture at the demon. He waited until she reluctantly shoved the gag back between Crowley's teeth with a glare before he nodded to the floor beneath the Bentley. "Forget the car. There's something under here."
Over on the floor, both Crowley and Angel shifted. Right… the Bentley was sitting on the super secret "go directly to Heaven" crop circle. If General Asshole got it activated, they could all go straight through and there was no way for the bookshop to interfere with something that celestial. A few wards couldn't deactivate an angelic route to Heaven.
The Bentley groaned as the three invaders heaved and shoved with all their considerable eldritch strength. Though the car dug its wheels into the floor, it was still scooched and inched along, taking the rug with it. Soon the circle had been uncovered; Aziraphale sighed and ducked his head in the picture of resignation.
General Asshole clapped his hands, beaming with delight.
"Now then," he said jovially. "That's more like it. Now we're getting somewhere."
The bookshop was doing some quick thinking.
There were invaders in the shop: that was bad.
Aziraphale and Dearboy were neutralized and outnumbered: that was worse.
The Divine Bovines had found the circle to Heaven and were more than happy to discorporate everyone in the room to get out of the building: that was the absolute cake.
"Sandalphon, get some candles lit," Gabriel-ish ordered. "You, demon, contact your people and have them start the paperwork to get you a temporary pass upstairs. Michael will sign off on it as Heaven's representative. You'll have to take Aziraphale down from there."
He turned squirrelly eyes to the two seated captives and his smile slid away. "And as for you, Aziraphale," he growled, striding over to the angel and pulling the gag loose. "Last chance. Ask me for forgiveness, and it will be granted. But you'd better make it good."
Dearboy muttered something muffled, unintelligible but still managing to make it sound a bit rude. Gabriel ignored him, tipping Aziraphale's chin up to meet his gaze.
"You'll have to keep waiting, I'm afraid," Aziraphale softly replied. "Unless you can guarantee that Crowley will be shown the same mercy, I-"
"Yeah okay that was your one chance, and… poof!" Gabriel snapped his fingers, grinning again. "Look at that, it's gone. Sandalphon, how we coming?"
Weasel Face had set eight white candles on the points of the interior square as well as the four midway between around the circle. He held up a book of matches and smirked at Gabriel-ish.
"Care to do the honors?"
"Don't mind if I do." Gabriel-ish took the matches and struck one alight. He leaned down, touching the flame to the first candle. It caught after a second's pause and he moved on to the next.
Child's play. A breeze brushed through the bookshop, snuffing out the candle the archangel had just lit. Gabriel-ish didn't notice, moving from one candle to the other, lighting them all in succession while the bookshop bared its proverbial teeth and extinguished every one of them in a row. By the time Gabriel-ish returned to the first candle, all eight were smoking gently in the silent room.
"Erm," Weasel Face began with a frown.
Gabriel-ish straightened, shooting a furious look at Weasel Face and Perky Demon Barbie. "Quit messing around!"
Weasel Face turned to look at the smoking candles, eyes narrowing even more. "It wasn't me."
"Well, it wasn't me," Perky Demon Barbie gasped, before whirling towards Aziraphale. "Now what have you done?"
Aziraphale gaped at her, wriggling a bit to show that he was still tied to Dearboy, who was rolling his eyes. "I haven't even moved, you can see that quite plainly. These old buildings, so drafty…"
Gabriel-ish glowered at him suspiciously but started again with the candles. This time, the shop let him get five in a row alight once more before a stronger gust of wind snapped out the entire lot at once. The archangel straightened in fury. "Sandalphon, check the building!"
With a nod, Weasel Face disappeared. The bookshop let him. He wasn't going to find anything, after all. Instead, it concentrated on Gabriel-ish, who had—bless him—started lighting the candles a third time.
Expecting different results.
Insanity at its finest.
This time, the gust of wind was powerful enough that the panes of glass in the windows rattled. Gabriel-ish abandoned the candles and stormed towards Aziraphale and Dearboy. With one hand, he hoisted Aziraphale up so that the demon really had no choice but to awkwardly scramble up with him, wincing as he tried to balance on bound feet.
"You're not helping yourself, Aziraphale," Gabriel-ish snapped. "I told you, you don't want to be stuck here with me, or I'm going to stop taking it easy on you. Now stop with the parlor tricks, or I start breaking the demon's fingers, one at a time. That what you want?"
"No, you must listen," Aziraphale urged, anxiety crossing his face. "It isn't me, I can promise you that."
"There's nobody else here, Gabriel," Weasel Face reported. "I don't sense anyone. Not human, or angel or demon. For what it's worth, my money's on the snake causing mischief." He yanked on Dearboy's shirt, pulling Crowley towards him and therefore releasing Aziraphale from Gabriel's grip.
With the sword pressing into his throat, Crowley held very still as Weasel Face demanded,
"So maybe you should behave yourself, or we can just kill you and put an end to this."
"Wait, please just listen to reason," Aziraphale pleaded. He took a breath. "I've been giving this some thought, you know-"
"Yes, we all know you think too much," Gabriel-ish snorted. "If nothing else, I have no doubt your time in Hell will give you all kinds of time to think. Forever, in fact."
"Would you please," the angel finally snapped, sharper. "I'm trying to tell you something important, and it's time you listened to me, for a change."
Silence descended as Perky Demon Barbie looked back and forth between Gabriel-ish and Aziraphale with wide eyes. Weasel Face released Crowley, walking threateningly back around to stand at Gabriel's side. The archangel's eyes were stony. A sword slid into his hand.
"Is that so?" he asked quietly as Aziraphale gulped. "And what…" He advanced, raising the sword. "Exactly…" The sword tip touched one side of Aziraphale's jaw. "Is so important?" Slowly, the sharp edge trailed down the angel's neck and across to the other side. It didn't break skin, but Aziraphale shuddered nonetheless.
"What I've thought," he still said shakily, "is that, well, the only reason you refuse to leave Crowley and myself alone is you think we're out to sabotage Heaven and Hell-"
"What would have given us that idea?" Weasel Face asked dangerously, testing the edge of his own sword against his finger.
"Apocalypse notwithstanding, we just want to be left alone. But yes, while we're on the subject, er… well I hate to say it but G-God… She knows what we did, doesn't she? Omniscient and all that?"
"I suppose," Gabriel-ish said. "And?"
"Right, yes, it's just that, you see I'm still an angel. Perhaps not a very good one-"
"Perhaps?" Perky Demon Barbie echoed with a snide giggle.
The bookshop picked up a book in preparation to hurl it at her head but didn't want to interrupt Aziraphale when the angel was on a roll. So it paused. And waited.
"You're an awful angel, but go on," Gabriel-ish said smugly, shifting his sword to rest against the bridge of Aziraphale's nose so the angel went cross-eyed trying to keep it in his line of sight.
Behind him, Crowley was muttering some kind of side commentary into the gag that probably wasn't flattering to Gabriel-ish, but they all ignored him.
Aziraphale harrumphed. "Well, that should have been it for us, shouldn't it? If we had done wrong, She would have condemned us then and there. I should have fallen, but I didn't. And if I'm still in Her favor, if She's not opposed to our decision, well, I can't see how it's your job to be."
The bookshop could have cheered—it heard a quiet hiss from the Bentley's dormant engine, delighting in the angel's little speech—but Gabriel-ish didn't seem convinced. The archangel merely smirked and shook his head.
"That's your defense?" he asked as Perky Demon Barbie tittered behind him. "Well. Tell you what, Aziraphale. If God is so very much in your favor, then She can tell me so Herself."
…Now that was the opening the bookshop had been waiting for.
With wicked, fiendish delight, every light in the entire building suddenly went out, pitching them all into utter blackness. A mad scramble ensued, a muffled yelp from Crowley as he was shuffled around on his burned feet, and several curses from the invaders. The bookshop waited, drawing out the pause, waiting… waiting…
Then all eight candles roared to life (but pulled an inch away from the circle so that it wouldn't actually activate—the bookshop was no dummy). At the same time, the Bentley's headlamps switched onto high beams, illuminating Aziraphale in a brilliant spotlight.
Gleefully, the bookshop sent the dust and dirt it had collected from cleaning up earlier spiraling towards the headlamps. It landed there in the pattern of wings, blocking out the light so that the shadows emerged on the wall behind Aziraphale. And not just one set, but three, artfully sculpted to appear even bigger and more magnificent than the angel's natural wings.
Wind howled through the bookshop and the Bentley's radio flicked on.
Here we are, born to be kings!
We're the princes of the universe.
Here we belong, born to be kings!
Princes of the universe,
Fighting and free.
Normally, the bookshop would have found itself exasperated at the overly dramatic use of the lyrics, but honestly it was having so much fun that instead it let itself be swept away in the moment.
What the hell. Overkill was underrated.
Books flew off the shelves, pelting Gabriel-ish, Weasel Face, and Perky Demon Barbie. They yelped and danced backwards, driven away from Aziraphale and Dearboy. Soon other odds and ends joined the small projectiles: doodads from the nearby tables, a few desk lamps that crashed over their heads, and even the spoon from Aziraphale's cocoa mug that whipped across Weasel Face's face (leaving welts as well as sticky marks) while he shouted and tried to duck behind Gabriel-ish.
Chairs slid across the floor, knocking their knees out and sending the three intruders crashing to the floor. In the background, the Bentley had evidently decided it ought to have a car alarm and was now blaring it at a volume not intended for cars to have.
"What's happening?" Perky Demon Barbie shrieked over the noise, also clutching at the archangel who tried to push her away in disgust. "What is this?"
Gabriel-ish didn't answer, trying to ward off the books attacking his skull, suddenly looking unsure and maybe even… scared?
Sending the area rug hurtling back towards its place over the circle, the bookshop blew out the candles one last time and settled the rug back in place. Everything fell to the floor and the car went silent.
Ragged breaths filled the bookshop. The only visible thing was Aziraphale, still illuminated by the headlamps with the shadows of six massive wings on the wall behind him. The angel's eyes were narrowed with rare danger.
"Well, then. You asked for a sign and you got one," he said in a low voice. "We're no threat to you. We just want to be left alone. I think it's time you took heed. Yes?"
Swallowing, Gabriel-ish looked from the icy angel to the six wings projected faintly on the wall behind him. He slowly nodded.
Behind Aziraphale there was a sudden hiss, a seething susurration as Crowley shifted. Over the angel's shoulder, a massive snake slid in smooth undulations and its yellow eyes flashed in the glow of the Bentley's light. Ropes fell uselessly to the floor.
"Get out," the snake hissed in barely a whisper.
Obligingly, the bookshop removed the wards in a flash and threw the doors open wide.
The three intruders fled.
Thank you SO MUCH to all you readers, commenters, kudo givers, and bookmarkers! ^_^ And now we come to the end of our little tale. I'm glad you seem to have enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it. :) Thanks again Lady Wallace for spawning this idea and Aini Nufire for being an amazing beta and writing partner!
Come find me on Tumblr (29-pieces) if you want to chat! I'm trying to get more into drawing comic style so I can start putting more "graphic novel" type versions of my fics up. So if you read The Enemy of My Enemy (is Still an Enemy, Just a More Useful One) and enjoyed it, I'm working on that one right now.
Before we finish this little tale, a shoutout to Campia42 for this amazingly fun bit of fanart she did for the scene in the last chapter! :D :D :D
And now, my dears, we conclude.
The sudden vacancy in the bookshop was followed soon after by angry orders being shouted outside, accompanied by some obvious questioning. Ultimately culminating, thankfully, in complete stillness from the street as both camps of enemies dispersed. The Bentley watched the door in its rearview mirror. At the first sign it was starting to open, it would run over anyone who came in, and ask forgiveness later.
But the door stay closed, and soon Angel slumped over and wobbled on still bound feet.
The enormous snake hissed in alarm and shifted back into a red-haired demon who quickly steadied Angel and helped him down to the floor.
"You might have led with all that," Crowley griped, working at the ropes until Angel was soon freed.
Meeting his eyes, Aziraphale shook his head. "My dear boy, don't you think if Gabriel hadn't been blocking my powers same as yours, that I would have tried something sooner?"
Crowley frowned. "You're serious? That wasn't you? I thought maybe you'd gotten promoted and hadn't told me. What with the wings and all."
"What about the wings?"
"You know..." Crowley gestured over his own shoulders, sweeping his hands out to show multiple pairs of extended wings. Angel, having had his back to the shadows that the bookshop had so cleverly cast, obviously had no idea what Crowley was talking about.
With forehead wrinkled in bafflement, Angel shook his head once again. "I don't follow."
"Oh, just- let me see your wings."
Obligingly, Angel gave his shoulders a light roll and soon the air behind him was shimmering with white gold. A single pair of wings materialized—beautiful, making the Bentley purr shiver slightly with delight—but undeniably only two of them.
Crowley raised an eyebrow. "Huh. You should have seen the shadows, angel. I thought Jezebel was about to shit herself. So if you didn't do that..."
"And you're quite sure it wasn't you?"
"Couldn't have been. I couldn't even shift until Gabriel was distracted enough to stop blocking me. You don't… you don't actually suppose..."
Aziraphale's face was taut as he wrapped an arm around his wounded side once again. "No," he said softly. "No, I don't believe there's any divine intervention at work. It didn't... it didn't feel quite like... Oh, I don't know, it's hard to explain. It didn't feel like Her."
"Ngh. Suppose you'd know better than me." Crowley's slightly sullen expression didn't last long though, too perplexed by the puzzle they were faced with. The Bentley couldn't resist the flare of exasperation and love for the ridiculous two; did they honestly still not even suspect? How much more obvious did it and the bookshop have to be?
At any rate, the important thing was that they were all safe. Whether General Asshole and Froghead actually believed God had given them a sign to back off or not, they certainly had enough reason to keep a safe distance.
"Does beg the question, though," Crowley went on with an air of caution. He carefully prodded Aziraphale's side, making Angel hiss in pain. "Sorry, sorry… damn it, when I get my hands on them-"
"I'll be alright, my dear. I- I just need to rest."
"You need a bandage. Where did that roll go…"
The Bentley scuffed its wheel slightly against the floor to prod the bookshop into coughing it up, but of course the shop was already on the same page. The roll of bandages appeared on the small table beside the two for Crowley to find when he turned that direction.
"Oh, here it is. You going to hold still and let me wrap it this time?"
"Very well, then," Angel sighed as he shrugged out of his coat and unbuttoned his shirt. "But then I'm going to have to redo yours. That… that… dratted Sandalphon!"
Crowley snorted, covering the sound of the Bentley releasing a puff of exhaust. "Really, Aziraphale. Such language."
"Well, there was no need for him to be so cruel to you. And what about your wrist? I know he broke it."
The demon raised his hand and twisted it as evidence to accompany his easy shrug. "All better."
"Hmph. I still think he was really very rude."
"Really gotta stop getting so worked up, angel."
Gingerly, Crowley wound the bandages around Angel's torso, covering the still faintly glowing wound in his side. At least the golden blood revealing the damage to his core had stopped, but the Bentley hated to see the pained grimaces that Aziraphale bravely tried and failed to keep off his face.
Once finished, Crowley tossed the remainder of the bandages aside, earning a consternated glower from Angel.
"You're not off the hook, dear boy. I said I would have to redo yours, and redo it I shall."
Almost before he'd finished, the corner of the rug that the bandages had landed on flapped slightly as though from a heavy breeze—of which there was none in the bookshop. The bandages rolled back to Aziraphale's waiting hand.
Crowley raised an eyebrow but Angel only frowned and shook his head slightly. They both took a quick look around in what they probably thought was a very surreptitious manner but of course wasn't very covert in the slightest.
"In any case," Angel went on loudly. "You really must stay off your feet for a few days. You're welcome to stay here. In fact I suppose you'll have to, until we figure a way to… er… remove your car. I still for the life of me can't work out how you managed to get it in here."
"I have my ways," Crowley replied with a shrug and a knowing smirk as though he'd had anything to do with it.
The Bentley adjusted its mirrors in lieu of being able to roll its eyes.
"I've no doubt. Oh, just look at this, the state of your feet. They've started bleeding. Half a moment, I'll have you fixed right up."
Keeping a weather eye on the angel—not that the Bentley didn't trust Aziraphale to take care of Crowley properly, but it did want to see for itself that the demon would be alright—the car finally let itself feel a bit of relief. The faintest bit of glowing light emitted from Angel's palm. Not too much, as his body was surely drained of almost all healing power through fighting to close up his own wound. But it was enough to stop the bleeding from the now open sores from being forced to walk on the burns.
Finished, Aziraphale gingerly re-wrapped the bandages then sat back with a sigh.
"That's that, then," he declared. "Now you ought to rest."
"Only if you do, too. You take the bed this time. I don't even want to try the stairs right now."
Angel nodded as Crowley heaved himself up onto the couch and sprawled across it. Within seconds, he was snoring. Aziraphale shook his head and chuckled.
"Sleep well, then," he whispered. "We'll deal with the car later." He hesitated, then glanced suspiciously around the room. "And the shop."
And with that, he turned and disappeared upstairs.
The Bentley watched him go, waiting until the coast was clear and then a few good moments until it seemed likely the angel was also passed out. Then the engine turned over, almost silent as it came to life and backed carefully up to the doorway to get a good look outside.
A reassuring breeze fluttered across its hood in promise that the coast was clear, opening the front door. Sure enough, there was nothing to be seen out in the night.
Definitely safe then. And somehow, Crowley and Angel were still none the wiser. They'd gotten the better of both angels and demons, and that trick with the shadows had been a stroke of genius, and suddenly the Bentley couldn't hold it in anymore.
WEEEE ARE THE CHAMPIOOOOONS, MY FRIEEENDS…
AND WEEEEEEE'LL KEEP ON FIGHTING… TILL THE EEEND…
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS
NO TIME FOR LOOOOOSERS, 'CAUSE WEEE ARE THE CHAMPIOOOONS…
OF THE WORLD!
The bookshop's pipes wheezed in laughter, the rug temporarily abandoning its post on the floor to fly over to the Bentley and wrap around it in a gleeful hug.
Champions of the world, indeed.
By the time Dearboy snuffled in his sleep and rolled over to fall to the floor with a crash, waking himself up in the process, the Bentley was already safely back outside.
The bookshop could see the varying emotions that the demon journeyed through, splashed across his face. Suspicion first at the rude awakening… hesitant questioning that something was surely different, something out of place… bafflement when he realized the car was gone… PANIC when he realized his car was gone… relief when he caught sight of it outside by the curb… disbelief when he remembered that it shouldn't have been there… anxiety that perhaps he was losing his mind… and then finally settling into stubborn denial about the entire affair. Surely, his final expression said, things were right as they ought to be and there was nothing at all to be explained about any of this.
Completely normal, in other words.
Nothing strange at all.
"Guess Aziraphale got it out of here, then," he said out loud to nobody in particular.
Aziraphale, of course, came down the stairs a second later, rubbing his eyes. "Crowley?" he asked sleepily. "I thought I heard… are you alright, my dear?" He stopped in the center of the room and stared. "Where is the…? No, never mind, you must have- right, yes."
"The car drove itself outside."
"It really couldn't have done."
"It isn't here."
"You've been using your imagination, I expect."
"I was asleep, angel."
"Yes, you used your imagination in your sleep. I believe the humans call it 'dreaming'."
Dearboy snorted and turned his shoulder with a shrug. "Let's be glad my dreams don't usually come true, or the 19th century might have gone very differently."
"I have no doubt. Should you be up? How are your feet?"
Reclaiming his seat on the couch, Crowley pulled one foot up to cross over his knee, examining the bandages. "Still stings, not too bad. Another day should do it as long as I don't have any angels stomping all over them. How's the side?"
"Aches. Itches a bit. I suppose that's normal."
Dearboy gestured with an impatient set to his lips for Aziraphale to come closer so he could check for himself. Peeling back the bandages a bit, both the demon and the bookshop sighed with relief to see the golden glow completely gone and a good deal of the actual wound already knitted back together.
"Ngh. 'Nother day for you too, I reckon."
"Quite. Now then… I've been giving it some thought. About the strange and rather absurd events from last night."
Crowley regarded him, a smirk playing across his face. "Sounds a bit like the title of your autobiography, doesn't it?"
"I'm serious," Aziraphale huffed. "You do realize what's happened, don't you?"
The teasing expression on Dearboy's face slid away to leave almost rueful agreement. "I had the same thought. Wasn't sure until the car ended up outside, but if it wasn't you…"
"And the dramatic showing from last night, and the warding on the doorway that neither of us remember doing…"
"And the fact that two angels and a demon could barely move my car even though it should have been no match for even one of them."
"Yes, exactly. In fact, with all the evidence put together, I must admit it becomes…"
"Painfully obvious?" Dearboy finished for him with a chagrined shake of his head. "Yeah, I was thinking about that. How did we not catch on? I mean, all this time?"
"Two celestial beings, no less. I feel like we ought to have felt the presence of a sentient spirit."
Oh-ho, now the conversation was getting interesting. The bookshop fell still, observing the scene. Outside it could see the Bentley roll closer to listen harder. The morning sun twinkled on the chrome like a glint of amusement in its eye. At last, after years of the two being delightfully oblivious, it seemed Aziraphale and Dearboy finally realized after all.
"There's really nothing else for it. It's quite clear my bookshop is haunted by a poltergeist."
The bell over the door dropped from its holder in disbelief, the proverbial mouth falling open. Both the angel and the demon whirled towards it with glowing, triumphant expressions.
"You see that? It's giving a sign of acknowledgement," Aziraphale exclaimed as Dearboy sagely nodded. "The poor thing, I don't know how long it's been trapped here. I shall have to release it immediately, of course. Send it to the light."
Outside, the Bentley's windscreen wipers had turned on to high speed in its hilarity, even without the presence of the actual windscreen, or anyone to control the lever. The bookshop rather sourly wondered why they didn't assume it had a poltergeist as well. Honestly, as dearly as it loved Aziraphale and Dearboy, they really could be so incredibly thick.
"You sure about that?" Dearboy asked, gazing around the place with an approving nod. "Did come in handy, after all."
"My dear boy, really! If it's trapped here, it must be suffering! I can't in good conscience keep a restless spirit here just for my own protection. It did us an incredible favor, saved our lives, and now we ought to return the kindness."
Dearboy shrugged. "Still think it would come in handy," he muttered. "Must be a seriously powerful one. And it was nice to see Gabriel and Sandalphon tossed out on their asses."
Well, at least if it was a "poltergeist", it was a "seriously powerful one". The bookshop sent another breeze through the room to ruffle Dearboy's hair in appreciation. It supposed it would play along, make a big to-do when Aziraphale did whatever he was going to do to "free" the "trapped spirit", just for kicks. Then lay low for a little while to make the two believe it had worked.
Unless, it decided, any more trouble came to call. Woe be to anyone who came through that door hoping for trouble with Aziraphale and Dearboy.
Because the bookshop had plenty more tricks up the sleeves of its vellum pages, as did the lionhearted classic chrome parked outside.
And they would be waiting.