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Things that Happen When You Aren't Paying Attention

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The thing about Adam Young, on That day especially, was that he was an eleven year old human boy, who knew everything. But, for the most part, he knew everything the way an eleven year old human knows things. Oh, he was a very bright human, definitely a wise one relative to his tender years, but still, an eleven year old human boy. He rather had to be, for it all to work out as it did. So while he may have known, in the part of him that knew everything, that Angels weren’t at all like people, he also knew, in the part of him that was doing the driving, that Angels were basically people with wings. So when his power was building Aziraphale’s new body, his mind had a bit of an influence about what went into a body. Aziraphale likely would have taken better stock of himself, but there were Horsemen, and this surprisingly nice young anti-christ, and he just had other things on his mind. When you are pretty sure you are about to die, you generally don’t take much time to consider if you’ve gotten your tie right. On the bus ride home Aziraphale’s mind was caught entirely in the last prophecy, and his body, left to its own devices, was enacting a slow motion collapse into the demon next to him. He only became aware of this when Crowley moved his arm out from under him. Their entwined hands had been so nice, but he guessed that was a bit much to ask for the whole way home. “Oh dear, so sorry…” he began. Crowley continued to brood out the window.

“You should be, my bloody arms gone to sleep.” He sounded gruff but he wrapped the “sleepy” appendage around the angel and pulled him in against his side. Aziraphale sighed and leaned in. The ride to London passed then, in a churning mixture of dread, hope and a glimpse at a new kind of profound comfort.

Crowley opened the door to his flat and immediately sauntered in, leaving Aziraphale to close the door behind himself. It could have felt astonishingly rude, just leaving a guest to themselves without any invitation to come further, but the angel knew it was the opposite. You don’t show a man around a place he already belongs in, and despite hardly ever having been there before, Aziraphale belonged in the flat, because it was Crowley’s and from this point on, they each belonged wherever the other was. That there was nothing of him in it didn’t much signify, there was hardly anything of Crowley in it either, but there was Crowley himself, and that was all that mattered. They were, indeed, their own side. Heaven and Hell and them. The Earth, he supposed. That had been what it had been about, saving the earth, and all the humans, and all the wonderful complexity. And each other, if they were very very lucky.

Crowley came back from the kitchen with two glasses and a rather small bottle.

“I’ve got a Malivoire Shiraz I’ve been saving,” he wiggled the bottle “frozen on the vine and everything.” It was a sweet gesture, though Aziraphale knew better than to say so just at the moment. Crowley had never shared his sweet tooth, so the bottle could only have been acquired with him in mind. He smiled softly. “That sounds lovely.” Crowley pulled out the slightly less ornate chair from the corner for Aziraphale before draping himself bonelessly across his ridiculous throne. Which was just fine as that chair was facing away from the rather interesting statue with implications the angel was not quite ready to contemplate. The bottle continued to pour for an unreasonable amount of time, given its tiny size, but it’s not as if either of them were worried about misused power at this point.

“I just thought...,” Aziraphale started, stopped, blinked, and began again, “I just thought, which one is Mr. Young’s real son, do you think?” Crowley was staring at him, pupils almost round in the dim light. It seemed to take the question a moment to percolate its way through the layer of wine and into his consciousness.

“Oh, erm, our Warlock, I suppose. Had a bit of the look to him.” “Ah, yes. Then what of the Amearican diplomat’s son?”

Crowley thought about the fire. He thought about the timing. He thought about telling Aziraphale about those things. Then he thought about Sister Mary Loquacious.

“Adopted out, I expect. Records would have been lost in the fire,” he said, glad to have a plausible answer that he was willing to say aloud, and might even be true, for all he knew.

“I expect so, yes,” the angel gave a relieved sigh. “It’s amazing the Youngs never noticed their son had the wrong sort of face,” he mused. Then he sat bolt upright and looked at Crowley, who was staring back at him with wide eyes.

“Do you think?” “She couldn’t mean!” “That cunning old witch,” Crowley breathed.

“What good will it do to endure each other’s torments, though?” “Hastur wasn’t going on about torments when I escaped him,” Crowley replied. “And he really could have done.They are kind of our thing after all, and he’s considered an artist. Nah, he was much more direct, right on to the killing. I imagine your lot are feeling about the same.”

“Yes, well, as you say, we don’t much go in for tormenting Upstairs.” Crowley thought about who it was that had tossed them all in their pit, and wanted to disagree, but didn’t see the point in bringing it up now. “And what’s the only thing that can kill a demon?” Crowley was beginning to get excited.

“Holy items… Oh Yes, I see!” Aziraphael jumped up. Crowley held up a finger.

“Right. Theory is all well and good, but in practice. I mean how? How do we switch?”

“Possession.” The angel responded instantly. “Our corporeal vessels are basically bodies we are inhabiting, they aren’t really all that different. We could make the same modifications to any body if we were sole inhabitant.”

“There’s a catch, though. We are going to have to be convincing. They’ve known us for as long as we’ve existed, more or less. We have to convince them we’re who we appear to be. Do it so well they don’t try to look past the surface.” “Darling,” Aziraphale, excited, drunk, and feeling very daring, patted the demon’s cheek. “I hardly think anyone knows either of us half so well as we know each other by now.”

For a task so serious, Crowley laughed more in the next few hours than he had in the previous few centuries. Almost as soon as they had worked out how to possess each other’s bodies, Aziraphale had fallen flat on his arse when he misjudged the length of his new stride. Crowley laughed at him right up until he knocked over a vase turning around too close to a table, and forgetting that his own arse was several inches lower, and rather fuller than he was accustomed to. Aziraphale also kept doing this thing with his, well Crowley’s, face.

“What on earth are you doing? I absolutely do NOT go around looking like that!” “I’m trying to get your eyes to focus! Everything is either blurry or glowing.”

“Yeah, sorry that’s just what the world looks like with snake eyes. The glowing is either the UV or infrared.” Cowley held out the dark glasses he’d left on the table earlier. “You’ll find these a great help, my dear boy. [1] Specially enchanted.” Aziraphale almost dropped the glasses trying to grab them, his face suddenly flaming. Crowley cocked his head. “Did I not get the voice right? Lay it on too thick?”

“No, err, nahh,” the angel stammered a bit before falling into the looser cadence of Crowley’s speech. “Nahh, you had it. Took me by s’prise is all. This what I always look like to you? With the glowing?”

Crowley squirmed a bit, and found Aziraphale’s body much harder to squirm in. “Well, yes, it has to do with the spectrums you see. You are very warm, and white is very reflective in ultraviolet. Put on the glasses, do, they’ll make everything right.” Crowley found he was almost more uncomfortable having his cursed eyes seen through than seen. From the outside they looked odd, but several angels had odd eyes, too. From inside it was much clearer just how much of a mark of the animal they were, and much as he didn’t like Aziraphale thinking of them at all, and especially like that, he needed to be sure the angel understood what he’d be walkinging into. “Remember that lots of them down there will be like that. Have weird eyes, or other senses. Never assume they can’t be watching, even if you can’t see them or feel them.”

“They will only see what we mean them to see,” Aziraphale declared, attempting to sashay around the room in Crowley’s distracting loose limbed fashion. He felt the limbs of the corporation were, in fact, looser than he was accustomed to, but that still did not account for how very much Crowley tended to sway his ass.

“Oh come off it, I do not shimmy my butt that much!” the demon protested. “You most certainly do!” “I never did!” “You wiggle more that shape than as a snake!” Azirapale countered, before thinking that he might not want to admit, at quite this juncture, exactly how much of his attention he’d devoted to watching that particular wiggle.

“You might see better, if you recall that my body does need to blink from time to time,” he deflected. Crowley made exaggerated slow cat blinks back at him and folded his hands primly in his lap. Aziraphale tried to duplicate one of Crowley’s many sneers in response, then tested a few others. They all felt strange.

“I have no idea what you are trying to do with my face angel, but I’m sure I don’t ever do that. I think you are trying to do is this,” Crowley’s sneer looked very little like itself on Aziraphale’s face.

“I’ve been watching your face make that expression for 6,000 years, doing it with mine is hardly going to help. It’s hard to tell what I’m doing from this side of the face!”

“Very well, my dear,” Crowley miracled up a pair of mirrors for them to test their faces with. It was a bit hard to keep focus though, when Aziraphale kept making his face do such strange things. He caught a glimpse of himself in the other mirror then, watching the angel’s japes and was struck by the thought that he, perhaps, had seen that particular look on this face when the proper occupant was in it. Which was a thought full of possibilities so rich he found himself even more determined to survive.

“Think I’ve got your number now,” Aziraphale crowed. “Maybe I should splash around a bit, see how many of them I can catch?” The expression he gave should have been ridiculous. A not-quite-a-smile that turned sinister somewhere around the eyes. It should have been impossible to make something so cute and rabbit-like threatening. It was absolutely terrifying.

“Yes well,” Crowley adjusted his cuffs[2]

“Let’s not go too far, hmm? We want them scared into rationality, not out of it.” He thought he really was getting the hang of the beatific smile.

If faces had been a round of silly buggers, walking for more than a few steps was a combination of hilarious and horrifying that Crowley, for one, was not eager to repeat. They had both fallen flat more than a few times due to floors that were either too close or too far away. Feet were Entirely the Wrong Sizes. Aziraphale persisted in swinging his hips around in a fashion that the demon felt was well into parody[3].

The attempt at stairs would have taken years off Crowley’s life, if he’d had a definite lifespan. Aziraphale came down too hard on the first step, misjudging his leg, and Crowley missed his grab at him, because his arm had about 2 less inches than he expected. A quick miracle was all that saved him from real injury. The Angel shouting “Oh Fuck” on the way down was a further distration.

“Didn’t know you used profanity like that, Angel” Crowley jibed to cover his reaction at watching Aziraphale take any kind of fall.

“There is nothing profane about the act of love in the right context, my dear,” Aziraphale tried to project cool, but had been shocked into his own speech patterns, which could get them both killed if he didn’t watch it. Crowley’s mind was eating its own tail stuck on the implications he might draw from the casual yet firm conviction in the angel’s tone on that matter.

“Then why use it as a curse, my dear,” he found his mouth said with very little input from the higher brain functions.

“Well, ‘s just what you say, ‘innit,” Aziraphale forced himself back into Crowley’s speech patterns.

They retreated back to flat surfaces for a bit longer after that. A few plants and objets d’art paid the price of Aziraphale trying to teach the gavotte as an exercise in limb usage. They didn’t even make it to the kissing part, which was both a relief and a vexation.

Still, by the time false dawn was pearling the sky, they were as good a pair of duplicates as they could make themselves, and that was very good indeed. Aziraphale looked at the large clear puddle that still marked a corner of the flat Crowley had been avoiding. “Right. One last test then, and we’ll know this rubbish will actually work.” He summoned up a towel and bucket and headed over.

“Do start with the left hand, darling, I’m rather partial to the right,” Crowley instructed, trying to sound flippant, but not quite hitting the mark. Aziraphale repeated to himself that the corporations had no inherent connections to the beings who habitually wore them. What mattered was that he was an angel, and holy water was his to hold and use. It would not harm this body so long as he was its sole occupant. He reached out, left hand first though that was surely unnecessary, and began to use the towel to clean up the mess that looked like pure clear water, and had once been a demon. It felt no different than Holy Water ever did, and he turned to show Crowley his undamaged hand. “Right as rain,” he said. “Let’s go give them heaven.”


1It had not occurred to Aziraphale that he used that particular endearment with Crowley often enough for Crowley to have picked it up that much, and he was suddenly VERY glad Crowley, having slept through the Victorian era, didn’t know the full connotations of the phrasea, or perhaps very not glad. It was honestly rather confusing. [ return to text ]

2 No wonder Aziraphale was always fussing with his clothes, with this many layers, even perfectly tailored clothes seemed to always have some bit out of place. [ return to text ]

3In fact, the hip swinging was barely into the believable range. It was difficult, even in Crowley’s skin, to lead with his hips quite like that, though the indecent tightness of the trousers helped. It was hard not to wiggle just to try to take a step. [ return to text ]