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That Was Very Kind Of You

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There was an obnoxious screech of chair legs scraping across the cafe floor behind Gwen, but she didn't dare turn to look. It would mean taking her eyes off the man forcing his way into her personal space and trying to "persuade" her to be "nice" to him.

The man did look. He went red, then white, then all but bolted out of the cafe.

Gwen stayed put, almost frozen to the spot, for a long moment before she mustered the courage to turn.

There was an older couple sitting there, both wearing identical scowls as they watched the man go. Apart from their expressions they couldn't have more opposite if they were actively trying to be as different from each other as possible.

She wasn't sure of the nearer one's gender. They were tall and thin and flat as a board. She'd initially assumed they were a man despite the long red curls, but then they shifted, and something about their new posture and body language suggested a woman.

The farther one, small and fat and round, like a walking cotton-ball, started to get up. The nearer one put out a hand, and the farther one subsided back into his chair, and started picking over the depleted sharing platter on the table between them. The nearer one gave her a long, considering, look through dark glasses, then pulled their chair back up to the table with another obnoxious screech and signaled the waitress for another cup of coffee. Neither of them made any more moves to invade her space as well.

Gwen turned back to her own table, heaved a silent sigh of relief, and buried her face in shaking hands. The only thing worse would be if the man had clocked her, but no, she was still stealth. Still passing and under the radar.

A cleared throat brought her head snapping up to see the waitress there.

"Sorry you had to deal with that," the waitress said. "Refill on the house, if you want it?"

Gwen flattened her hands on the table to hide her trembles and nodded instinctively. She couldn't really afford to turn down free drinks, but she could afford to take them from strangers even less. Who knew what the stranger might think she owed them if she accepted? On the house though... that was different. That was ... safe.

#

Aziraphale beamed at Crowley once they were both safely back in the Bentley. "That was very kind of you."

"Shuddup," Crowley muttered back, nothing in his tone but fondness.

"Well, it was. Getting the waitress to tell her it was on the house so she felt safe, but bill it to our tab so the waitress didn't get in trouble. Fiendishly clever of you, my dear."

"Ngk, yeah, well. Spreading lies and deception all around, y'know. Not a good thing, angel."

"A very you thing, certainly." He stretched out a hand and they tangled fingers for a long moment, before Aziraphale had to let go and grab for a strap instead. "I thought so then, and I think so still, and always shall."

"Yeah, but if you'd gone over to comfort her, you'd have scared her even more, angel. Even with your 'Be Not Afraid' act." Crowley looked over at him, a wry smile flaring on his face. "You know that, right?"

"Yes, dearest. I remember. Now, watch the road, dearest."

Crowley huffed, and looked back at the road. "Now, he remembers," he teased gently. "Now, when it isn't urgent."

Aziraphale huffed back. "You're the one who sows discord and reaps problems, Crowley."

Crowley shrugged, mischief lurking in the flicker of his smile. "Not like you're any better, you beautiful bastard. You could squash the rumours any time you wanted, but no, you lure in those poor ickle first years like they're fish and 'Dear Anthony' is the bait on the hook."

"Don't fish for compliments while you're driving, dear. You know you shut down when I heap them on you."

"Ngk!!"