Option 1: From The List
This is the only one that's officially in timeline for this series -- corresponds to the end of Tell Me Lies and occurs later that afternoon in the bookshop
Aziraphale found Crowley and Frederick, happily curled up together, making and drinking tea from a cup and a platter respectively, and poring through more of Aziraphale’s list of the lies he'd told in the last six millenia. Aziraphale noted, briefly, that the snake looked delighted to have his favorite friend back. He took a moment to smile at that.
“You hated my zoot suit?” Crowley said indignantly.
“Oh, good lord,” Aziraphale said. “Yes, I didn’t think the cut suited you at all. But you said you didn’t want to know my opinions on all of your fashion choices.”
“Then don’t write them down, angel.”
Aziraphale sighed and got himself a cup of coffee. He had a feeling this was going to become a popular morning routine, a little good-natured ribbing and gentle mortification as payback for his crimes. He supposed he could support the idea.
Crowley flipped a few more pages in, and made a tsk, tsk noise with his tongue at what he found. “You lied about having a diary for your appointments!! I knew you were just flipping through a book that day on the phone!”
Aziraphale gave him a brief, long-suffering smile and sat down across the table. “Yes, it’s true, I did. I apologize.”
Crowley made a gesture that was a vague mockery of a priest’s gesture of absolution and continued to flip randomly. This was much too much fun to give up just yet. He read a few, turned the page, and then blinked and turned back again to the one he had just skimmed over.
“What does this mean?” he asked, puzzled. “It says, ‘Did not tell Crowley the truth about Frederick’s middle name.’”
Aziraphale stood up abruptly, brushed his hands off on his pants, and quickly carried his coffee out into the shop. “Well it’s time for me to start my day! Must go! Business to run!”
“Angel!” Crowley called after him. “I’m not going to drop this, angel! Come back here!”
Crowley stalked him for the entire day, no matter how many customers Aziraphale lured into the shop. Every time there was a lull in business, there Crowley was, leaning on the counter by the cash register, sitting saucily on the desk. Full of the same question.
“What does that mean about Frederick’s middle name, angel?” he asked. Over and over and over and over again. Climb every mountain, indeed.
“Really, my dear, you are a persistent one,” Aziraphale said, breezily. Refusing to answer was different than a lie, and it was always entertaining to wind Crowley up a little, and to be honest the normalcy of such a routine felt very good after their recent fight.
When he finally closed up and sat down for a well-deserved break, Crowley responded by plopping down right astride him, kneeling up on the couch, effectively pinning him in place. And then he began running his fingertips over Aziraphale’s rib cage, right where he knows it tickles. Lightly at first, just hinting at the torture he was capable of inflicting.
“Spill it,” he said, around the angel’s helpless laughter. “What’s Frederick’s middle name?”
Aziraphale batted away his hands and tried to catch his breath and the assault continued for at least a full minute before it relented. “I- I- … oh for heaven’s sake, I’ll tell you, just stop –”
Crowley sat back for a moment, hands on his thighs, and looked expectant.
“I named him Frederick Crawly,” Aziraphale huffed. “You weren’t using the name anymore.”
“You,” Crowley said in mock offense, “are a dead man, angel.” And the tickling started up again, mercilessly this time. The angel bucked and thrashed so hard that he literally knocked Crowley off of him and onto the floor with a large thump.
They regarded each other for a few moments -- Crowley rubbing his elbow where it hit the floor unexpectedly, and Aziraphale still trying to calm himself from laughing.
“Are you quite through?” Aziraphale finally said.
“Forgot how strong you are, angel,” Crowley said. He stood and extended a hand to help him up. “I suggest we continue this conversation upstairs.”
Aziraphale raised a cool eyebrow, and smiled delightedly. “What a lovely idea.”
He took Crowley’s offered hand and rose.
Option 2: Upon Waking
This falls outside the events of the story and is actually an alternate beginning, in which Crowley wakes up from his year long nap and does NOT fall to the floor and immediately alert Aziraphale to his presence.
Crowley woke up rather suddenly in Aziraphale’s bed, and took a long moment to stretch each limb and slowly blink his eyes until his vision cleared. It wasn’t easy getting all the bodily systems online again after one had been unconscious for nearly eleven months. After a few moments, he rolled to the side of the bed and took a moment to let the blood flow to his feet and legs before he tried to get up. No point in falling right to the floor on one’s first attempt at standing. Someone had thoughtfully left a fresh glass of water on the bedside table, and he gratefully drank it before moving on.
Once he was sure he could walk, he was overcome by a sudden desire to surprise Aziraphale after his long absence, padded rather quietly down from the flat into the shop in his stocking feet.
He could see the warm light from the desk lamp in the office and hear the soft murmur of Aziraphale’s voice – who was he talking to? Was someone here? He certainly hoped the angel hadn’t gotten amorous with someone while he was out! Quieting himself down even further, he crept through the stacks and came out into the middle of the shop where he prepared to spy, unobserved, for a moment.
“Oh there now,” Aziraphale said softly, “aren’t you a love.”
The angel was seated in his favorite armchair, turned sideways beside the desk, and Crowley could only see him in profile, but he could see there were no other persons in the room. He took a moment to drink in the sight of the angel’s white-gold curls and his broad, handsome shoulders. It had been much too long. But who the devil was he talking to, and why did he have such a gentle and amused smile on his face? Crowley moved a little closer.
“Now, now, you,” Aziraphale said admonishingly. “No biting! You know better.” He made some kind of gesture with his right arm and then let out a little yelp.
Crowley tensed, ready to jump in and help with whatever invisible force was besieging the angel. He blinked in surprise when, instead, Aziraphale pulled his left hand out of his pocket and emerged with a smallish, black, hissing snake who he held up to eye level.
“Frederick Crawly!” he admonished. “You are behaving very poorly tonight! Do you want me to put you back in your cage for the evening?”
The snake was the first to notice him, craning his head around and hissing in fright when it met with the tall, pointy creature looking back from the stacks with snake eyes of his own. Aziraphale spun around too, and grinned delightedly when he saw Crowley.
“Crowley! My dear! You’re up!” he cried. “Come in, come in. Come meet Frederick!”
Crowley folded his arms. “Frederick who? What was that again?”
“Frederick, my pet.”
Crowley stalked into the room and plopped down on the couch. “Thought I heard a middle name there,” he said.
“Oh,” Aziraphale said, looking awkward. “Uh, Frederick Crawly Fell. Meet Anthony J Crowley.”
Crowley raised an eyebrow. “You have some explaining to do.”
"Now really, my dear, come and have some wine and let's talk," the angel said calmly.
Crowley plopped down on the couch and accepted a glass of wine. "So," he said, voice surly. "You got a SNAKE?"
Option 3: From A Lecture Over Quail
This happens somewhere not too long after their engagement, when Crowley’s happy mood affects the results
Crowley was half asleep on the couch when he heard a clatter and an alarming amount of shouting. He jumped up, startled, and looked around wildly to see if they’re being attacked.
“FREDERICK CRAWLY FELL!”
Aziraphale was shouting.
Aziraphale was shouting AT Frederick.
Aziraphale was shouting at Frederick using a name Crowley had never heard before.
The snake was on the table in the back room looking both pleased and guilty and Aziraphale was standing before him with his hands on his hips, shaking a finger at him and ranting.
THANK GOD YOU’RE HERE, Frederick shrieked. THE FLUFFY ONE HAS LOST HIS MIND!
“Angel,” Crowley said, “what’s going on?”
“He ate it!” Aziraphale snapped. “He ate the little French quails we were going to have for dinner! Just look at him!”
Crowley looked closely and discovered that Frederick did look a little lumpy. “How did he get a chance to do that?”
“They were thawing on the counter so I could put them into the oven,” Aziraphale said. “Left him alone in here for an hour or two where he was supposed to be sleeping and he ate one whole quail and part of another!”
Crowley tried extremely hard not to laugh. Laughing would not be well received right now, he could tell.
“Frederick,” he said, “that was very naughty.”
HE LEFT ME IN A ROOM FULL OF SMALL DEAD BIRDS! HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW I WASN’T SUPPOSED TO EAT THEM?
He had a point, Crowley had to admit.
“Ok,” he said, lifting the snake up and carrying him back to his basket out in the office. “You need to digest and get some sleep and think about apologizing later.” The snake hissed but followed his suggestion and curled up.
YOU TWO ARE SOOOO STUPID, he mumbled as Crowley walked away.
“Sorry, angel,” Crowley said, wrapping his arms around him. “We can go out.”
“I know, I was just excited about cooking them.” Aziraphale turned and nuzzled, enjoying the contact.
“But first, tell me a little bit about this name I heard you calling,” Crowley drawled. “What was it, Frederick Crawly?”
“Named him after me, did you?”
“Well, uh, yes I did!” Aziraphale said, not sure whether Crowley was upset. “In your honor.”
Crowley grinned a little. “A namesake, eh?” He turned that concept over in his mind for a bit. “Never thought I’d have a namesake.”
Aziraphale all but slumped in relief. “You’re not mad?”
“Nope,” Crowley said. “But you still owe me some favors for this. And no one else can know! Especially not hell. You realize that would be the end of all things for me.”
“Right,” Aziraphale said. “No one.”
Option 4: From A Customer
Set not too long after Kodachrome, in that Crowley already knows about Aziraphale’s photography habits and has just recently become closer friends with Frederick
Aziraphale generally viewed bookshop customers with the same level of hospitality and welcome that one might view an influx of bedbugs – highly annoying, and difficult not to just address with a flamethrower and be done with it. But there were a few who managed to worm their way into his affections – the ones who clearly just loved books, and never, ever tried to take them home. The young ones who came in looking for answers to big questions and wrote down in a notebook all the things he thought they should read, and then did. The older ones who gazed with reverence at first editions and were willing to wear gloves when they were allowed to touch one. And then, of course, there was Mrs. Barlow.
Mrs. Barlow was a widow who lived over a small green grocers two blocks away. Aziraphale and she met during the year when Crowley was asleep, a year in which the angel was a bit more open to human interaction and friendship than was usual for him in the recent past. When Mrs. Barlow came in to browse and established herself as both a firm lover of poetry and respectful of old books, he invited her to sit down for tea. When she then established herself as both sharply funny and a delightfully snarky conversationalist, he invited her to stop by any time. And that winter and spring, she did, to the point where Aziraphale put aside a large stock of her preferred tea in the cupboard and had a special cup set aside just for her and her twice-weekly visits.
When Frederick arrived in the fall of that year, Mrs. Barlow was the first person to meet him. Aziraphale knew he’d been correct about her when she took to his surly little self immediately. Frederick, to his credit, didn’t bite her – he seemed to like her too, and curled up happily in her lap (and occasionally inside her handbag) whenever she came by. And in return, Mrs. Barlow showered him with compliments about his appearance, skills, and overall superiority to all other snakes in the world.
“Oh, hand over my little Frederick Crawly,” she would say. “It’s so delightful to see you again, young man. Now, have you been biting anyone since I saw you last? Tell me all about it, my friend!”
Frederick, in return, would hiss happily and settle down with her for hours.
“Just Frederick, please,” Aziraphale would remind her from time to time. Crowley wasn’t due to wake up for some time, but still, he didn’t want anyone to get in the habit of using the name recklessly around the shop.
“Oh right,” she’d reply with a knowing wink. “Can’t be upsetting your young man when he returns from his trip, can we?”
And then she would go on happily, always ALWAYS referring to the snake by his full name. Perhaps just because she enjoyed watching Aziraphale squirm.
He made a point to intercept her at the door on her first visit after Crowley had woken up.
“My dear Mrs. Barlow!” he called out, rather loudly, as the tinkling bell on the front door announced her expected Tuesday morning arrival. “I’m so glad to see you! Come and meet Crowley, he’s finally back from his travels!”
He slipped her arm through his elbow and leaned in to add under his breath. “For heaven’s sake, please don’t use the C word today! I beg of you!” Crowley and Frederick had only just made their peace, after the big initial explosion. He couldn’t afford to risk the delicate acceptance they had for each other now.
“There, there, dear,” she said quietly. “I’ll behave! Now where is this delicious young man you talk so much about?”
Three cups of tea later, everyone was acquainted and seemed to be friends, and he saw her off to the door with a quiet, private smile and a mouthed “thank you.” She kissed him on the cheek and went on her way.
It took a few months for her to slip up. For the first three months she meticulously played along, calling Frederick by his first name only, even if she insisted in grinning at him conspiratorially while she did so.
And then one day, Mrs. Barlow stopped in to visit at a time when Aziraphale appeared to be alone. They sat on the couch and looked through a fresh packet of snaps he’d taken of Crowley and Frederick. She, unlike certain demons who would not be named, fully supported his photography habit and enjoyed helping him pick out the best shots to add to his gallery.
“Oh! They’re all so precious,” she coooed, flipping through the pile slowly. “I like this one,” she said, pulling one out and laying it on the table in front of them, and then she added another. “And this one, you can really see both their faces so well here. And you really got the light meter correct on this one! You’re getting much more skillful, my dear.”
Aziraphale leaned in and smiled delightedly. “That’s one of my favorites too! Frederick is looking right into the camera. I almost want to blow it up to a larger size.”
They were both so absorbed they didn’t notice Crowley emerging from deep in the stacks, where he’d been napping in snake form on top of some astronomy books.
“This, my dear, is the best likeness of our young friend that I’ve ever seen. You should definitely blow it up.” Mrs. Barlow said decisively. She ran a fond hand down the scales of the snake who was napping in her lap. “You, Frederick Crawly, are a very handsome young man, you know. The camera loves you!”
“Excuse me?” Crowley said. “Blow what up? And of who?”
Aziraphale jumped as if he’d been shot. “Oh! Crowley dear! I didn’t know you were here!”
“Mmm hmm,” Crowley said, sauntering over to the coffee table. “Hello,” he said politely. “What’re we looking at here, then?”
“Hello, Crowley,” Mrs. Barlow said, discreetly packing up her things. “Just the latest snaps from the chemist. Well, I must be going! Thank you for the tea!”
Aziraphale saw Mrs. Barlow to the door and then paused to try to delay the inevitable. With his back to the shop, he took a moment to straighten his jacket and cuffs, smoothing down any wrinkles, before steeling himself to turn around. He had only taken a few steps before he saw Crowley, leaning menacingly against one of the columns and staring at him. He looked rather cross.
“Crawly?” the demon said, voice a low warning. “Really?”
Aziraphale blushed. “I was hoping you hadn’t heard that part.”
Crowley fixed him with a glare and stalked upstairs to the flat.
“I can explain!” Aziraphale called.
“Stuff it,” Crowley countered.
Aziraphale sighed, and then picked up the phone and set about making them a reservation at the Ritz. That would help this one blow over.
Option 5: Frederick Spills The Beans
This happens shortly after London Calling, in which Frederick found himself in rather large amounts of trouble with Aziraphale and is now grounded for life
Frederick was of two minds in the days after he found himself grounded. On one hand, he was incredibly annoyed that his actions suddenly had consequences. Consequences were for humans, not snakes. What were his owners thinking? Fond as he was of them, he thought they were terribly misguided and wondered if there might be a snake consulate somewhere he could apply to for redress.
And on the other hand, he felt oddly bad, especially where Aziraphale was concerned. He didn’t like that Aziraphale had been angry with him, or disappointed, and he found himself consumed with wanting to get back into his good graces again. In the next few days after his telling off, he spent as much time as he could being trying to be a Very Good Snake – acting as adorable as his basic nature would allow whenever the fuzzy one came near him, indicating as best he could through body language that he’d be happy to be picked up and would even tolerate cuddling, and keeping the misbehavior to a minimum. While the big mouse-like creature did seem a little distant for a day or two, soon he seemed to be sighing less and petting more when they were interacting, so Frederick counted that as a win.
He wisely saved his sense of bitter injustice for the pointy one, whenever he could get him alone.
COME ON SNAKEBIRD, YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY MEAN TO KEEP ME COOPED UP HERE FOREVER, he shrieked after a few days had passed. I’M BORED!! TAKE ME SOMEWHERE.
“You brought this on yourself, Freddie,” Crowley said. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”
BUT WE WERE GOING TO GO TO THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM! I WANT TO SEE THE SERPENTS WHO RULED THE PLANET!
Crowley shook his head, bemused. No matter how many times they told him dinosaur fossils were just a joke, he refused to believe it.
“They’re called dinosaurs,” Crowley said patiently, “and I’ll show you pictures.”
I DON’T WANT PICTURES, I WANT TO SEE THEM MYSELF!
“Then you should’ve behaved on our other outings, shouldn’t you?”
Frederick coiled up for a moment and sulked, until a very evil thought occurred to him.
OH CMON… HELP A SNAKE OUT A LITTLE HERE. TALK TO THE FLUFFY ONE ABOUT IT FOR ME! I CAN MAKE IT WORTH YOUR WHILE…
Crowley barked out a surprised laugh. “And how exactly are you going to do that, you amoral little schemer?”
I MIGHT KNOW SOMETHING YOU DON’T…
Crowley raised an eyebrow. “Oh really?”
Frederick hissed enticingly. SOMETHING THE ANGEL DOESN’T WANT YOU TO KNOW.
Crowley knew this was exactly when he should put a stop to this conversation. If there was something the angel didn’t want him to know, it was probably for a very good reason. He truly didn’t try to invade Aziraphale’s privacy, as a general rule. But at the same time, he did feel a sudden spark of curiosity to know what possible secrets the snake could know.
“I’m not falling for that, snake,” he said, going with his better nature for once. “You don’t know any secrets.”
Frederick flicked his tongue coolly. YOUR LOSS, DUMB ASS.
Crowley gave him a glare and walked away. He tried to put it out of his mind, but it continued to rankle for the rest of the day. The only thing that made any sense was that it was something from the seven months when he’d been sleeping, after Frederick first arrived. They weren’t really dating yet, so it’s not impossible that the angel might have had a date or two, or had a suitor of some kind, or that Heaven had caused him some trouble that he’d never shared. He couldn’t stop turning the possibilities over in his mind.
Being a demon of relatively low self-control, he made it exactly fourteen hours before he couldn’t stand it anymore. He rolled out of bed in the middle of the night, after making sure Aziraphale was fully asleep, and drew a dressing gown around himself before he padded quietly down the stairs to the office where Frederick slept.
He flicked on the desk lamp and sat, rapping sharply on the edge of the terrarium until Frederick’s head popped out of the cardboard tube in which he liked to sleep.
“Wake up, Fred. We need to talk.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT TIME IT IS, YOU IDIOT? Frederick yelled.
“It’s conversation time,” Crowley said firmly. “Tell me what you know.”
Frederick, he thought, almost looked amused.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME, SNAKEBIRD?
“I’ll find a way to take you to see the dinosaurs, eventually. You’ll have to give me time – it will be a while before Aziraphale is going to be willing to even consider it.”
I WANT TO SEE THE GIANT SERPENTS WHO RULED THE EARTH!!
“I know, I know! Of course you do! Who wouldn’t?” Crowley sighed. “I will work on it, I promise.”
Frederick stared at him and took just a bit too long deciding.
“No deal?” Crowley said, getting up and making to head back to bed. “That’s fine. I shouldn’t be here anyways. This is a bad idea. You don’t negotiate with badly behaved brats. I know better.” He reached over to turn off the desk light –
NO WAIT! ALL RIGHT, YOUR TERMS ARE ACCEPTABLE.
Frederick indicated he wanted to be picked up, and Crowley brought him out of the cage with one hand. The snake coiled up his arm and headed for his ear, as if he intended to whisper.
I HAVE A MIDDLE NAME AND YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW ABOUT IT, Frederick shouted.
“What? Why not?” Crowley said, confused. “I thought this was something interesting!”
I DON’T KNOW BUT I KNOW HE TOLD THE OLD LADY NOT TO TELL YOU. AND THE VET.
Crowley frowned. “Well? Spit it out.”
MY NAME, Frederick said with great satisfaction, IS FREDERICK CRAWLY FELL.
“Oh good grief,” Crowley muttered. “Seriously?”
Frederick hissed affirmatively. He had no idea why this was sensitive information, but he knew that this tidbit was a powerful one.
“You are a troublemaker, young man,” Crowley admonished, putting him back in the cage. “And there’s no way Aziraphale would appreciate you telling me that. For someone trying to do everything in his power to suck up and earn his way into the angel’s good graces again, that’s a rather large risk you’re taking here.”
BUT – BUT – IT’S SERPENTS. WHO RULED. THE WORLD.
Crowley rolled his eyes. “All right, yes, I will work on that. Thank you for the information. Good night.”
Crowley felt a little guilty as he tiptoed back upstairs and quietly climbed back into bed next to the angel. The knowledge that he really shouldn’t be cutting deals with Aziraphale’s pet for compromising information really ATE into his ability to work himself up into a snit about what he’d discovered. And also, if he revealed what he knew and how he knew it, Aziraphale was really going to be quite cross with the little snake.
He’d keep quiet about it, he decided, unless he really, really needed it to stop an argument in its tracks sometime. He put the chances of that happening at an even 50-50. Always good to have something in one’s back pocket for unexpected emergencies, though.
Aziraphale rolled over muzzily in his sleep and slung an arm over Crowley. “You’re cold,” he said, only half awake. “Having trouble sleeping?”
“No, angel,” he said, laying a kiss on his forehead. “Just got up for a second. Go to sleep.”
The angel pulled him much closer and with a thought coated him in angelic warmth, and they drifted off to sleep.