In the back room of a Soho bookshop, the demon Crowley woke from his nap thinking longingly of ice cream. He was sure he’d be able to convince Aziraphale to go with him, too. All he needed to do was grab his--
His… wait, they were right here...
He felt around him, checked the side table and the coffee table and the arm of the couch. He leaned over and peered at the floor all around, hanging batlike off the edge of the cushions so he could look underneath him.
He stood now, patted himself down and checked his pockets even though none of them even remotely had room for his current pair of sunglasses. He dug between the cushions on the ancient couch, and when that yielded nothing he dismantled it as much as he could.
He'd had them earlier, he knew he had. This new life with him and Aziraphale able to walk about openly under the nose of Heaven and Hell was brilliant and wonderful and all he'd ever wanted. But he knew, he absolutely knew, that he was not so far gone as to have been walking out for lunch that day with his eyes on full display. The glasses were more than a disguise, they were armor.
And he was beginning to feel very naked indeed.
"Angel!" he called. "What did you do with my sunglasses?"
"Oh good, you're awake!" Aziraphale bustled into the room. "I was just thinking about getting some ice cream!"
Oh, that explained it. It wasn't like him to wake up with an ice cream craving, but if he'd been catching the edge of Aziraphale's want it made perfect sense.
"I'll be happy to take you out for ice cream, I just need to know what you've done with my shades."
"Oh, honestly, I haven't done anything with them. You set them on the end table like you always do and --oh, where are they?"
"That's what I asked you," Crowley said with the bad grace appropriate to a demon. He’d apologize, but Aziraphale knew who he was and showed no sign of taking offense.
"Well did you look for them?" The angel said, beginning all the same steps Crowley had just undertaken.
"Of course I looked for them! They're not here, that's why I thought you took them!"
"Well then, just grab your spare pair."
"I don't want my spare pair, I want to know what happened to the ones I had."
"Honestly, your glovebox is full of them. Come on, they'll be closing soon!"
Crowley grumbled, continuing to look around him as he shrugged into his coat, but no sign of his shades was to be seen and he finally grabbed a spare pair from under the till. "All right, angel, let's go. But when we come back I'm going to find them!"
There was a trick to it, walking through Hell safely. Well, less dangerously. Well, without being immediately discorporated just for being an Eric, usually by some of the people who still called hims Legion. The key was to keep moving, head down, looking like a demon on a mission. If you had a clipboard or a folder, all the better--they implied ‘errand for Dagon’ without actually stating it, and nobody wanted to get on the wrong side of Dagon if they ever wanted their paperwork marked as ‘complete and on-time’ ever again.
Eric moved purposefully through Hell. He’d bought a case of official-looking clipboards along with other officey things when he was Earthside for Armageddon, before it fizzled. (Before Crowley and that angel had completely ruined it, he amended, sternly. It wouldn’t do to let slip that he was glad to have skipped the War.)
If Earth was going away, he’d reasoned, then Actual Dagon would have control of the clipboard and folder supply and no Implied Dagon was going to save him, so he’d bought a bunch and stashed them all over. Wouldn’t even have to buy more for a while--he supposed he could just sneak them, but it made him feel more real to buy them, from a human who treated him like a human and not just a safe recipient for whatever abuse they felt like doling out. He was a customer.
There was a glint--nothing so bright as a flash, just a hint of dirty white hair up ahead. The yellow-green eyes of a frog, the emptiness of black eyes in a pale face.
Eric clutched his clipboard to his chest and lowered his head, aiming for a side corridor.
“Hey, you there!”
Definitely Hastur. Eric sped up in that careful gait he had learned to make it look like he wasn’t speeding up, and turned down a darkened corridor before Hastur could actually reach him. He’d pay for that later--well, one of him would, it’s not like Hastur could ever tell the difference--but he didn’t want to get caught just now. He was sure he’d understand, and if not he’d find a way to make it up to him.
It wouldn’t be far now, except he could feel Hastur behind him. He dodged a little, hid in a little-used store room and doubled back to a grotty disused hallway and a larger-than-usual sign on the wall. Floor to ceiling, it went, wrinkled by the constant damp, discoloured by the mold he’d been encouraging for centuries. It swung open smoothly at his touch, and closed behind him without a sound.
This was his spot, his, and he didn’t want to lead Hastur to it or he’d never get any peace ever again. Privacy wasn’t something you got, in Hell. Especially if Hastur had a say.
The table in front of him held the detritus of centuries, a magpie’s hoard of random bits. There were small figurines and a few green-grey scales and a tarnished medal on its faded ribbon. There was a piece of lizard-skin, shed long ago. There were several pairs of smoked lenses in styles throughout human history--a couple were in quite good shape, most were cracked, twisted, or broken.
The centerpiece of his table was an artfully folded purple cashmere scarf--he’d made off with it while Gabriel and Beelzebub had still been arguing over exactly whose fault it was that the traitors had escaped punishment. Watching the arrogant angel lose his shit about his missing scarf had been almost as good as watching Beelzebub take him apart over losing his shit.
Eric laid the clipboard down and unzipped his jacket--reached inside for the cargo he’d been carrying. One pair of Valentino sunglasses, pristine. He laid it over the scarf, fiddling a bit with the earpieces until it looked the way he wanted.
It wasn't the first pair of spectacles he had filched from the Serpent of Eden. Not even the fifth. But it was definitely the boldest.
Maybe next time he’d make off with one of the angel’s bow ties.