Nine times out of ten, any idea of Crowley's eventually bites him in the ass, and usually when he least expected it. Often times it wasn't even clear when it happens. This time however, it was very, VERY clear.
He had just been enjoying a fantastic lunch at Aziraphale's favorite sushi place. Crowley hadn't really been much for the food, but the place at least had decent sake. The demon had just been in the middle of a drink when suddenly he had felt a pull. Or more like a yank from his very core. It was so strong and startling that he crushed the sake cup in his hand.
"Crowley? Are you alright?" Aziraphale asked putting down his chopsticks. He placed a hand on the demon's shoulder, Crowley seemed to struggle to take in a breath.
Crowley clenched his fist, ignoring the blood pooling in between his fingers. It was another minute before he could force his corporation to begin breathing again.
"We need to go angel." Crowley snapped his fingers to clean up his mess and repair the cup. He frowned looking at the lacerations on his hand.
"Go? Go where? What in he.... somebody's name is going on?" Aziraphale left money for their meal.
"Something is wrong with Warlock."
"What makes you think something is wrong with young Master Warlock?" Aziraphale got into the passenger seat of the Bentley as Crowley started it, driving off at top speed.
"Call it a hunch." Crowley gave a shrug, grinding his teeth.
"A 'hunch?' Crowley, that was more than just a hunch my dear. You seemed to be in a great deal of pain back at the restaurant." Aziraphale gripped at the door handle as Crowley sped through traffic, narrowly avoiding pedestrians and other vehicles. "Please, what is going on with Warlock?"
The demon sighed. "Fine. A few years ago I may have taught him how to summon me."
"Crowley!" Aziraphale admonished. "That's cheating!"
"Relax, angel. It's not an actual summons. He would need my True name for that. At the time I figured it would be useful for him to be able to summon his nanny if he ended up in any danger. If either of our... if heaven or hell decided to accelerate Armageddon."
"So he tried summoning...?"
"Ashtoreth, yes." Crowley sped through London, heading to a destination Aziraphale did not know. They sat in silence for a few minutes, something about his attitude on this piqued something in the angel.
"Has he tried summoning you before?"
"This is actually only the third time he's done it." He laid on the horn as warning to other drivers to get out of his way. "First time was shortly after we left the Dowling home. He tried summoning me to come back."
Aziraphale gave a soft smile, placing his hand on Crowley's knee. "He missed you."
Crowley nodded, clearing the emotion stuck in his throat. "Second time was during Armageddon. Obviously we were a little busy." His grip tightened on the staring wheel, the leather creaking. "Long story short, Hastur's a lucky toad the antichrist restored everything in the end."
Aziraphale was going to ask what he'd meant but he understood almost immediately. "OH!"
"Yeah." Crowley could not keep the sneer off his face, thinking back on the spike of fear he had felt coming from Megiddo that suddenly vanished moments before Hastur popped into the movie he had been watching. He couldn't help but feel some level of guilt over it. He tried to clear his head by focusing on what he felt on this most recent summon. "I'm not entirely sure as to why he's trying to summon me now. His emotions are all over the place. I can't get a feel on them."
"They certainly seemed intense, given your reaction at the restaurant." Aziraphale took notice of their surroundings. "Crowley, where are we going?"
"The airport? Whatever for, my dear?"
"Warlock lives in America, we need to take the next flight there, and there will miraculously be two seats available."
"On a plane?"
Crowley gave a sidelong look over to his passenger, and noted he was suddenly acting very nervous. "Yes, angel. On a plane. How else would we get to the United States?"
"I mean, if you want to fly, we could ACTUALLY fly."
Crowley laughed. "You're talking about flying 4,000 miles, non-stop over the ocean."
"Well, what about a miracle then?"
The demon shook his head. "Too big of an effort. Might alert the wrong parties. The human way's our best bet."
Aziraphale fiddled with his pocket watch, not really saying more than a handful of syllables. The demon had a sudden sense of déjà vu. "Angel, are you afraid of airplanes?"
"Of c-course, not." Aziraphale averted his gaze. "I've just never been on a plane."
Aziraphale shook his head, lips persed.
"Ah, well. I suppose there's a first time for everything, right?" Crowley parked the Bentley in one of the long term parking lots. He looked over at the nervous angel sitting next to him, who sighed in defeat.
"Alright. If it's for Warlock."
They made their way to the terminal.
Getting on the plane and into their seats was fairly easy. They sat in a private area of business class, Aziraphale sitting by the window, fiddling with his hands.
"Relax, angel. Humans fly in these all the time with barely any issue." Crowley fastened his seatbelt and then helped Aziraphale with his. "Besides, how can the Angel of the Eastern Gate be afraid of flying?"
"I'm not afraid!" The angel glared at his friend. "I am constantly astounded at human innovation, Especially considering OUR wings actually move, and this craft's wings do not."
Crowley shrugged. "Plane wings did flap at one point. You know, I've actually met the Wright brothers, took them some time to perfect their invention. And don't forget I helped Da Vinci with HIS crafts. Humans never stop amazing me, with their wild imaginations. Just look at how far they came from those!"
"Oh yes, Believe me, I have no doubts in this craft. I'm just being a bit of a worrywart."
Crowley nodded in understanding. "Well, don't worry, angel. The flights only about eight hours, we'll be in America in no time."
Usually flights tend to be uneventful. However more often than not a little thing called turbulence happens. And for someone who had never been on an airplane before, it can be quite un-nerving. Aziraphale sat rigid in his seat, hands gripping the arm rests. Crowley wasn't feeling good about the situation himself, fighting the urge to shape-shift. He had only been on modern crafts a small handful of times, usually for an assignment in other countries when he really hadn't wanted to use hell's normal method of transport. The turbulence thankfully only lasted for twenty minutes.
"You are now free to move about the cabin." A gentle voice called over the intercom.
Crowley sighed and immediately ordered two glasses of wine. "Well, that was ffffun." He looked over at Aziraphale, who still had his eyes closed. "Angel? Its over. You can relax now."
"Hmmm? Oh. Yes. Of course."
"You're still clutching the arm rests."
"Still need a minute?"
Aziraphale nodded a second time.
"Alright. When you're ready, this airline's got some decent wine. And I hear the tea cakes taste very scrumptious at this altitude."
Aziraphale opened his eyes and looked at the demon with a judgmental look, which Crowley returned with a knowing mischievous grin.
"Well.... If you insist, it would be a shame to not sample their desserts, wouldn't it?"
Before long they had landed in Dulles, the rest of the flight having been relatively uneventful. They made their way to pick up the rental car, also a Bentley, albeit a more modern one compared to Crowley's '33. After a brief mix-up where, mostly out of habit Aziraphale ended up on the driver side instead of the passenger side as the seats are reversed in American cars compared to London.
"So, do you know where Warlock is?" Aziraphale asked as they sped through the streets of Washington DC.
"He's at a park." Crowley ground his teeth, still nervous.
He could still feel the pull from the summon, although not as strong as earlier, but thankfully no fear. Still though, he would be remiss if he didn't press harder on the accelerator. It wasn't much longer before they arrived at their destination. The modern car may not be as good as HIS Bentley, but it wasn't too terrible. They got out of the car and walked out to the playground where they saw a lone figure sitting on a swing. The figure did not notice them until they were only a few feet away.
"Nanny?" Before either could react, Crowley was tackled by a blur. He only just managed to prevent them from falling over, as Warlock clutched him around the waist tightly. He certainly had grown since Armageddon't, but he was still obviously a child. "I didn't think you would come!"
"There, there, dear. Yes, Nanny's here." Crowley 's accent slipped into Ashtoreth's voice easily. He patted Warlock on the head. The boy was trembling as if he was trying to not cry. "Come now, let me see you." Crowley held Warlock out at arm's length. He was on the scrawny side, the sweatshirt he was wearing seemed on the baggy side. He was wearing a grey knit cap that covered part of his face. His blue eyes held unshed tears. "Look at you, you've gotten so big!"
Warlock gave a sheepish grin "Thanks, Nanny. You're different too." So much had changed about her. Her hair was much shorter than last time he saw her, but it was the same deep rust red. Instead of the wooly dark dress, she was wearing a black tailored blazer and tight black pants. And even though there was so much change, just as much about her was the same. Such as her unusual eyes he could just make out through her sunglasses. He then noticed Aziraphale and at first he moved to hide behind Crowley when he realized he recognized him as well. "Brother Francis?"
Aziraphale grinned, giving a small wave. "Hello, Master Warlock, my boy, you look well."
"Now, come now. Lets get out of the cold so you can tell us as to why you summoned me. There's a coffee shop down the road. I'm sure there's plenty to catch up on."
The coffee shop was a quaint little corner shop, not too many people, nice and quiet. Perfect for a reunion.
"So, Warlock. Why did you summon me? What is going on?"
Warlock seemed really engrossed in his hot chocolate, as if counting the marshmallows was more interesting than seeing his two caretakers from his childhood. He shrugged. "I dunno. I was just lonely, I guess."
Crowley and Aziraphale shared a knowing look. The demon put down his espresso and leaned forward on his elbows, "Now Warlock; what have I told you about lying?"
The boy looked into his old Nanny's face. She still had that no-nonsense tone in her voice. He missed her so much; the both of them even. He swallowed the lump stuck in his throat.
"That I should always lie and deceive to be a well respected ruler of the world." Crowley quirked an eyebrow the same way he used to when he had caught the boy trying to steal a sweet from his carpet bag. "Except to Nanny. And Brother Francis."
"What's going on, my dear boy?" Aziraphale asked gently, reaching a hand across the table, as if to place it on his hand. He hesitated though when Warlock seemed to flinch.
"Alright." Warlock sighed in defeat. "I had a bit of a falling out with my dad. He kicked me out."
"You're father?" Crowley looked over at Aziraphale, neither unsure of what to say next.
Warlock nodded. "It actually started when they split up, shortly after my eleventh birthday."
"Oh...., your eleventh birthday you say?" Aziraphale felt a touch of unease. "What happened then?"
Warlock shrugged. "Hard to say, to be honest. I don't remember a whole lot after that crazy party. It still takes the cake on being the best party ever, even more than my sixteenth. But all I remember after that is dad taking us to Israel. I think something happened there, but I don't remember what. None of us really could. And no one talked about it either."
Aziraphale and Crowley shared a look. They knew what happened there, or what was supposed to happen there. It was a real miracle that the boy didn't remember.
"After that, my parents kept fighting. About little things, and some big things." Warlock paused, taking a sip of his cocoa. "Mom left, and I don't know; dad changed."
"How do you mean?" Crowley felt rather on edge. He witnessed close hand the kind of person Thaddeus Dowling was.
Warlock shrugged. "I dunno. Just tried being more strict than usual. He actually decided to try to 'get involved.'" He let out a sharp laugh as if that were the funniest thing he ever heard. "He wanted me to get into sports and shit. Oh, sorry!"
"That's alright, dear b--" Aziraphale trailed off when Crowley laid a hand on his arm. When he gave the demon a questioning look, the demon gave a very subtle shake of his head. He let it slide. "You're not into sports?"
"Nah. I wanted to get into arts. Which dad finds very...." Warlock frowned, as if the words were painful. He shook his head. "Lets just say, 'its not fit for his Red-blooded American man son to be artsy." His lip curled. Crowley had a feeling that Mr Dowling used much more colorful language. "He also got all on me about how I dress and stuff. I prefer casual comfortable clothes."
"Understandable." Crowley shrugged, being no stranger to preferring comfort over practicality.
"I'm sorry, but I don't quite understand how that gets to your father kicking you out?"
Warlock gave a toothy grin. "It may have had to do with the fact I did this to my hair." He took off his knit cap revealing a cascade of bright pink hair with green tips that reached to his shoulder blades. Aziraphale's eyebrows shot up while Crowley couldn't help but grin at the rebellious teen. "It set him off. He said that no son of his will go around with frilly pink hair. I told him that that was fine, that I didn't care if he saw me as his son anymore. I didn't WANT to be his son anymore if it meant associating with him even part of the time." A blush grew on his cheeks, as if he was worried he said too much.
Crowley reached across the table and laid a hand on his arm. "Because you're not sure if you are, are you?"
Warlock looked into Crowley's face, eyes wide and glassy with unshed tears. "You.... you understand?"
Crowley took off his glasses so Warlock could see his intent clearly. Somehow the snake eyes were not the most surprising thing for the not-antichrist that day.
"Course I do. Gender is overrated in my opinion." The demon shrugged, giving a sideways grin. He winked.
Warlock looked back and forth between his old nanny and gardener seeing nothing but understanding in their faces. It was all he could do to not burst into tears then and there. He DID however sag in relief.
"Oh thank God!" Crowley wrinkled his nose at that. Before either he or Aziraphale could react, Warlock got up and gave the two of them a hug. "Thank you."
They got refills on their drinks and a plate of muffins, and like that, the tension was gone in the room.
"So, where are you staying then? Your mother?" Aziraphale asked, taking a bite from a pumpkin muffin
Warlock shook his head, picking a chocolate chip off of his. "Dunno where she is at the moment. She's not in DC though. Plus my phone stopped working after I left anyways. Guess dad shut it down or something."
"So where ARE you staying?" Crowley felt a bit of anger growing in his chest, which he managed to just disguise as concern.
"Stayed with a friend last night, but now...." Warlock shrugged again.
"Well, we're not leaving you, Warlock. Hell would freeze over before I'd leave you alone again, my darling child." He met Aziraphale's blue eyes, knowing the angel was on the same page.
Warlock gave them a tired grin. "Thank you. But short of you two adopting me, what else could you do?"
"Why don't we then?" Crowley shrugged. "Why not come back to London with us?"
"Of course! There's a flat over the bookshop, I mostly use it for storage, but you could easily turn it into a living space of your own." Aziraphale smiled at the once child he helped raise from infancy. He agreed with Crowley on that. He would sooner fall then go back to Soho knowing someone he cared for was suffering.
Warlock felt a warmth in his heart. It was so long since he felt love and affection like he did right then. His parents were standoffish his whole life, thinking that words were enough, regardless if the words were usually pretty empty. The only people who showed actual affection were currently sitting in front of him. Still, after so long he still couldn't help but have a tiny bit of doubt.
"But how will that work? My dad kicked me out yeah, but I don't know if he'd just let me move to London with you..."
"Leave that to us." Crowley gave a mischievous wink and pulled out his cellphone.
Their plan was actually quite simple. Going off of what Warlock had said, that he wanted to focus more on art and things like that. They took some time planning and called Warlock's father to tell him that he had won a full scholarship to a prestigious college in London. Aziraphale played the scholarly roll perfectly telling Mr Dowling that everything was paid for: travel, room and board. Mr Dowling need not pay for anything, just give permission for the child to travel, which MIRACULOUSLY he had no issue doing.
It wasn't long before the three of them had ended up on a plane heading back to London. Warlock was nervous, yes. But for the first time in a long time he felt ACCEPTED. He napped during part of the flight, which thankfully experienced no turbulence.
True to their promise, the apartment over the book shop was converted into a modest apartment. Warlock could want for nothing; anything he had left behind was easy to replace, clothes, art supplies, everything. Crowley even got him a new cellphone with unlimited data. He tried to refuse the extravagant gifts, especially the laptop he was given so he could finish school, but it was a losing battle. Nanny, or Crowley as he prefers to go by, would not take them back. He was their responsibility now. And it was their right as his godfathers to spoil him.
The first night there, he felt safe. Warm. Happy. After Aziraphale and Crowley bid him goodnight, and went to go back down stairs, Warlock called for Crowley for a favor.
"I feel silly for asking, but do you think you could sing me the lullaby like you used to?" He felt almost embarrassed for it.
Crowley smiled softly. "Of course, dear."
And just like old times, he sang the old lullaby he wrote just for Warlock, tucking him in as he fell asleep. The demon smiled softly at the sleeping child. Things were certainly going to be interesting from now on. And that was perfectly fine.