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Flaming Marshmallow

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The commendation showed up on Aziraphale's writing desk in 1913, though it was backdated to the 1880s. Aziraphale took it quite seriously when it appeared; Heaven was not as free with its praises* as Hell, at least if Crowley's racking up the letters and medals was anything to go by.

* Excepting the obvious praising of the Lord and such, of course.

It credited him with inventing something called the "graham cracker", which Heaven seemed to believe was preventing all kinds of fornication over in the New World. Aziraphale, who was aware that Crowley was across the pond at the moment, pursed his lips and decided to book a crossing in order to investigate.

When he managed to find the by now quite popular graham cracker, along with some literature by Mr. Graham himself about how a bland vegetarian diet would control one's desires for the pleasures of the flesh and how the crackers in particular prevented masturbation, he was horrified. So he did what he generally did when humans horrified him: he had a cup of tea and then went to find Crowley.

He found him two days later in a tent in a forest in New York. Crowley was wearing a fetching khaki skirt and blouse set, and surrounded by little girls in blue dresses.

"What in Hell* are you doing?" Aziraphale asked.

* Similar to the rules of Scrabble, it's not a swear if it's a proper name.

"Inventing the Girl Scouts!" Crowley said, beaming. Nearby, two little girls set something on fire. "Marvelous, children! Remember your fire safety lessons!" he called to them before turning back to Aziraphale. "Technically I'm stealing the invention of the Girl Scouts. They've already been invented elsewhere."

"The Girl Scouts?"

"It's a sort of club to teach young girls self-sufficiency and survivalist skills. It's going to inspire all sorts of trouble when they grow up, you mark me."

"Right, fine," Aziraphale said, distracted. One girl nearby was chopping wood with an axe almost as large as she was. "Look, I've a problem and I need your help finding a solution."

"Well, the campfire's going now, come and sit. The girls will help, won't you, girls?" Crowley called. "We're going to toast marshmallows on sticks. It's barbaric."

"You see, I got a commendation," Aziraphale said. "For inventing these, which the humans came up with all on their own." He held up the box of graham crackers. "And they're just...dreadful, Crowley. Everything about them. I must fix them before Heaven finds out."

"Fine by me. Huddle up, girls," Crowley called, and the scouts drifted over to sit on logs around the fire. "Mr. Aziraphale here wants our help inventing something new, isn't that nice?"

They all nodded. Aziraphale was about to try and explain this in a way small children would understand* when one of the girls spotted his box of crackers and piped up.

* Not being very good with small children, Aziraphale felt this might pose an issue.

"Graham crackers are foul," she said.

"Well, yes -- " Aziraphale began.

"They're all right with a little honey," another pointed out.

"Are you going to share, Mr. Aziraphale?" a third asked. She was the one who'd been swinging the axe.

"But we haven't got any honey," the first one said.

"Mrs. Crowley brought marshmallows, those are sorta like honey when you toast them," the second girl said.

"Mrs.?" Aziraphale asked Crowley, one eyebrow arched. Axe Girl gently tugged the box from Aziraphale's hand.

"You wouldn't believe the respectability and access being a married woman gets you," Crowley replied, unconcerned. "My husband's frequently off on business in England. Very dashing fellow, runs a rare bookshop."

"I should quite like to meet him," Aziraphale told him solemnly. The scouts, meanwhile, had begun Experiment #1: toasted marshmallows on graham crackers.

"My granny eats 'em with chocolate," said a voice from the teeming mass of girls all setting sugar on fire with what looked to Aziraphale like incautious abandon.

"Are you sure all this is safe?" he asked Crowley.

"I've got chocolate in my knapsack!" someone yelled.

"Of course not. That's the point," Crowley replied. Aziraphale frowned and Crowley rolled his eyes. "Relax, none of them are getting seriously hurt."

"They shouldn't be getting hurt at all!"

"How are they going to learn first aid if nobody ever needs any?" Crowley asked.

"Well," Aziraphale began, and then considered it. "That's a compelling argument, I suppose. Rather good of you, actually."

"All in the service of a greater evil, angel," Crowley assured him.

"What sort of evil comes of teaching girls self-esteem?" Aziraphale asked. "I should think everyone ought to have some."

"You're an angel, you would. It'll inspire them to have ideas above their station. They'll want the vote and a paycheck and such."

"What kind of trouble could that possibly cause?" Aziraphale asked, baffled. Crowley patted his shoulder.

"Don't worry your pretty head about it," he said, as one of the girls approached Crowley with a wad of something gooey in her hand.

"Mrs. Crowley, I already had one and I'm not allowed more than a little chocolate so you have my second," she said shyly.

"How generous," Aziraphale said, before Crowley could tempt her into eating more chocolate than was good for her. "Tell her thank-you, Mrs. Crowley."

"Thank you, my dear," Crowley said, in what Aziraphale recognized as an imitation of himself. Crowley sniffed the concoction, which looked like half-melted chocolate and scorched marshmallow sandwiched between two crumbly crackers, and then bit into it.

"S'all right," he pronounced, which was his default reaction to most food, and passed it to Aziraphale.

Aziraphale took a bite, snapping the cracker unevenly in half and getting chocolate and marshmallow goo all over his hand. He hardly noticed, however, because a small angelic choir was singing in his head.

"Why, that's marvelous," he said, shifting the cracker to his other hand to lick up the drips. "Just the ticket. Your girls have fixed the graham cracker!"

Crowley's eyes, over the top of his dark glasses, watched Aziraphale lap chocolate off his fingertips.

"Angel," he said gently, "I don't think you're going to salvage your commendation by claiming credit for corrupting a cracker by adding sugar to it."

Aziraphale stared at him. "Good lord. Maybe you're right. Oh, dear, I've made things worse."

"Well, I wouldn't worry. It's unlikely to catch on. Graham crackers will probably disappear in the next ten, twenty years, and this whole commendation business will blow over." Crowley patted his shoulder reassuringly. "Tell you what -- you go back to London and make double sure graham crackers don't make it over there, and I'll suppress all evidence here."

"Oh, thank you," Aziraphale said. "I'll do just that."

Crowley grinned at him. "Well, stay for s'more crackers first, angel. It won't hurt."

"I cannot believe you deliberately disseminated the s'more across America," Aziraphale said, roughly a hundred and five years later.

"Yeah, but look at it this way," Crowley replied, "Now Heaven's not looking, we can import them. Teach the antichrist boy and his friends to make them, they'll spread it like wildfire."

"They're already here! At least, the Guides have them. They've been suffering along for ages without proper graham crackers, using Hob Nobs and digestives with chocolate buttons and Lord knows what else."

"Then it's your cue to lead them to enlightenment, eh?" Crowley asked, which was a point Aziraphale couldn't argue.

So that was what he had been doing -- bringing graham crackers to popular culture -- sitting around a firepit that Scout Master "Girl Scouts Will Cause Nothing But Trouble" Crowley had built in Hogback Wood on a crisp autumn evening. He was contentedly toasting marshmallows with the children, using a convenient (and safer-than-real-fire*) flaming sword, when the Lord spake.

* Well, safer in a "won't cause forest fires or set small children alight" sense. Not in a "helping to bring about the apocalypse" sense.

The shaft of light descended for the first time in thousands of years, just as he was unwrapping a chocolate bar. A voice like the peals of a million bells demanded, "Aziraphale, Guardian of the Eastern Gate...what are you doing with your flaming sword?"

Aziraphale, terrified, lifted his face, gathering the Them around him and spreading his wings protectively, just in case a Smiting was about to occur. There was no chance of lying his way out of this one; Brian was sticky with melted sugar, Pepper and Wensley had chocolate bars clenched in their hands, and Adam, serenely unconcerned, chewed on a graham cracker.

"Making s'mores with the children, O Lord," Aziraphale admitted.

The light flickered briefly.

"They're like rustic pastries," he added. "Bit of chocolate, bit of marshmallow confection, melted on graham crackers -- got a commendation for those, Heaven can't disapprove of them now," he babbled, but a second flicker of light cut him off.

"Very well," She declared. "Save me one."

Aziraphale stared upwards, baffled, before remembering his manners. "Of course, Lord."

The light vanished. The children, unperturbed, went back to their toasting. Aziraphale very carefully picked up the bag of marshmallows and set one aside for the Holiest of Holies. After consideration, he set aside a few more, just in case.

"I bet She likes it when you burn the outside so the middle gets extra squashy," Adam advised.

"Stick to roasting marshmallows and leave theology out of it," Aziraphale told him sternly. Adam shrugged and set another marshmallow on fire*.

* By staring at it.

A few minutes later, Crowley returned, having wandered off for a bit of stargazing. He had a young woman on his arm, and they were chatting away as if this was a Regency ball and not the middle of rural Oxfordshire. Aziraphale looked from Crowley's slightly dazed expression to the young woman and back. She held a finger to Her lips.

"Found this one wandering in the wood," Crowley said calmly, helping Her down onto a log in front of the firepit -- terrifyingly, at Aziraphale's right hand. "She said she's friends with the kids so I invited her along," he continued, sitting on Aziraphale's other side.

"I've been promised a s'more," the Lord said to Aziraphale with a smile.

"I've made one you can have," Adam offered, holding out a perfectly formed s'more with an extra-squashy marshmallow in it.

"Thank you, child," the Lord told him. Aziraphale wasn't sure he breathed until She'd finished eating it. He could faintly hear Crowley talking and the children responding, but not much was making it through to his brain. She didn't get a single dot of marshmallow on Her fingers.

When She was finished, the Creator kissed Aziraphale on the cheek, leaving a smear of chocolate, and stood.

"Well, I must be off home," She said, dusting down the seat of Her trousers. "Thank you very much, Mr. Crowley. You," She said, turning to Aziraphale, "Be safe. And maybe don't worry so much about being good. You always have been, anyway."

Aziraphale stared after Her. He'd just watched the Lord dust leaves off Her bum and give him a brief moral homily. It was all a bit much, to be honest.

"Angel. Angel!" Crowley waved a hand in front of his face to get his attention. "The children made you one, too," he said, holding another s'more out. Aziraphale accepted it, nibbling on a corner thoughtfully.

"Delicious," he said, and leaned against Crowley, who rubbed the chocolate off Aziraphale's cheek with his thumb, then popped the thumb in his mouth to lick it clean.

"I'm going to tell everyone in school about proper American s'mores with graham crackers and horrible Hershey chocolate," Adam announced.

Crowley nodded approvingly. "You do that, antichrist boy."