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Will You Do The Fandango

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Had Adam still been alive some several thousand years later, he probably would have been highly disappointed in his successor. Unfortunately, he had left the mortal coil quite some time before, to join other ex-mortals who didn’t quite fit into Heaven or Hell. Amongst them were a large number of prophets and prophetesses, including one Agnes Nutter who had clapped him heartily on the back and encouraged him to sit back and watch the show. He was subsequently joined by the Them, because there wasn’t really anywhere else they would fit in either. Anathema and Newt dropped by every so often, but were more content by themselves [1]. There were three other familiar faces, two of whom avoided the Them if at all possible, while their comrade delighted in draping herself all over them, much to the annoyance of Pepper.

But that is beside the point. The point is that Adam would have expressed his dissatisfaction with his replacement – who looked very similar to Adam but had been given the name of Mordred by his parents, in the mistaken belief that naming their son after a character in Arthurian legend would inspire Arthurian qualities in him [2] - most vociferously, if he was not dead. Mordred, the second Antichrist (to give him his full title, the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness... mark Two) was what everyone had hoped for in an Antichrist, in that he was rude, cruel, callous and had no concept of Love in the slightest. When the second Last Day of the World had come, Mordred had practically leaped at the chance to destroy everything. Adam had wanted to go back down there and smack him around the head, several times.

The only two well informed and not-mortal beings on Earth who opposed this rather rash decision were Aziraphale and Crowley. In the time between Antichrists, they’d learnt several new things about Earth, all of which they were inclined to enjoy and didn’t particularly want destroyed. Crowley’s Bentley for one thing, although there had been many long conversations about how much of the Bentley was actually from Earth or held together with Earth type things, instead of just Crowley’s will. Aziraphale was also quite worried about his books and chocolate [3], neither of which would exist after the Apocalypse.

It was these sentiments that led to both of them wandering ravaged London together and hoping that something was on their side and would thus keep away both troops of angels and hordes of demons [4]. London wasn’t quite like anyone remembered it, although St. James’ Park had remained almost untouched despite the new technology and developments always being implemented. Of course, right now most of London was on fire and the bits that weren’t were crowded with terrified humans, ravening demons and a handful of righteously smiting angels.

St. James’ Park wasn’t on fire, but was quite badly scorched and there weren’t any ducks. Aziraphale still had some bread, just on the off chance.

“So, you had any calls from Upstairs?” Crowley asked, after they’d spent a very long time staring at the now empty duck-pond and not doing much else.

“No,” Aziraphale replied, “it’s still silent. Has been ever since Adam. I wouldn’t have minded, except this came as rather a shock. What about you?”

Crowley snorted. “Hastur sends me threatening messages regularly, but I have been order-free since Adam.” Aziraphale gave him a reproachful glance.

“You never told me you were being threatened,” he said hurtfully.

“Please, give me sssome credit. Hastur’s threats never frightened me [5]. And besides, he never acted on them,” Crowley replied. Somewhere not particularly far away from them, someone screamed. It would have been a long, high scream, except it was cut off by a rather wet gurgling sound. Aziraphale flinched and resisted the urge to go and see if he could help the poor unfortunate. Crowley pretended he hadn’t heard anything. Hell was worse anyway. The screams there could give even the most hardened demon nightmares, if there were any demons apart from Crowley who actually slept.

“I rather think we should move along, dear. That didn’t sound very pleasant and I don’t particularly want to wait around to find out what it was,” Aziraphale said, standing up. Crowley nodded and unfolded himself from the last remaining bench. They started to wander away, just as a large and particularly fierce looking hellhound loped into the park. Both Aziraphale and Crowley would have been rather surprised to discover that this particular hellhound had fond memories of being a considerably smaller, yappy terrier-type dog and that it vaguely recalled the two scents it was following. Of course, it still planned to eat whatever it was chasing, but that didn’t stop it from reminiscing in as fond a manner as it could.

In the particular place that ex-mortals who weren’t fit for Heaven, Hell or Purgatory inhabited, Adam yelled “Bad Dog!” as loud as he could. The hellhound on Earth cringed as a vague feeling of guilt and unhappiness overtook it, although it didn’t know why. Neither did the demons who were following it. In fact, they had a long discussion about what could possibly make a hellhound cringe, while Adam told Dog how naughty he was and to go home. At this point, Dog – who was confused and worried and quite sure that he should be chasing cats and yapping excitedly at them – performed a minor miracle and tried to go home. It didn’t quite work, but Adam gave him points for effort.

This entire mishap went on without Crowley or Aziraphale noticing, although when a bloodcurdling howl rent the air and then cut off abruptly, both otherworldly beings shuddered. They recognised a hellhound’s howl even if they didn’t want to.

“Better get moving, angel. Wouldn’t want all your books to go up in smoke while we’re busy feeding the ducks,” Crowley muttered. Not that Aziraphale’s books would go up in smoke. Aziraphale had had a lot of practice in warding places and this fire wasn’t exactly normal fire, more a sort of ethereal sub-fire that was closely related to Hell. It couldn’t actually get inside Aziraphale’s bookshop, much to the annoyance of the large group of demons who were camped outside. When Crowley and Aziraphale discovered this, they were rather put out.

“They weren’t here when we left,” Aziraphale said plaintively. Crowley gave Aziraphale a Look over his glasses.

“No, no they weren’t. But they’re here now. It looks like your books are safe at any rate,” he began. He stopped when a very familiar demon marched out of the crowd, followed by a small boy with blond hair.

“So this is the shop that won’t burn?” the boy asked. Or rather, the Antichrist asked.

“It is. And I have it on good authority that this is the shop of that angel that the demon Crowley favours,” Hastur replied. What they were doing letting Hastur hang around Mordred was anyone’s guess. Elsewhere, Adam advocated hitting the brat over the head with a lamppost [6], while most of the other viewers pelted the screen with something similar to popcorn.

Mordred looked quite contemplative at that, before he finally deigned to answer. “And where is this ‘Crowley’?” he asked. There was a rather embarrassed silence. Hastur coughed and looked as embarrassed as he could given that he was mostly made of maggots.

“We, uh, we don’t currently know his whereabouts at this time, lord. Rest assured, we’ll find him. I have some revenge for him,” Hastur said. Crowley gulped and tried to unobtrusively sneak away. Aziraphale held him fast and gave him a look that said ‘You are going to wait here with me until we can get back into my bookshop or things will happen to you that will make you wish Hastur had found you first’. It was a very effective look. Crowley didn’t thank anyone, except possibly himself, for having the foresight to hide his Bentley somewhere safe. And some of his plants, because he liked tormenting them. That was another thing he was going to miss.

“I want to see this Crowley. Right now,” Mordred demanded, with all the power of a spoilt eleven year old Antichrist. Privately, Adam threw up his hands and patted what remained of Dog [7]. Agnes laughed, in that annoying manner of people who know what is about to happen before it has happened. Pepper shrugged War off her shoulders again and tried to get Adam to calm down. Famine and Pollution whined that they had been replaced by entities not nearly suitable for this sort of thing and why was Death still running around down there without them. Hadn’t he ever heard of loyalty and friendship? [8]

Crowley, very much against his will, was suddenly not cowering behind Aziraphale and pretending he wasn’t cowering. Instead, he was cowering in front of Mordred and Hastur. In this situation, he decided that a good cower would probably be for the best. Hastur looked especially pleased. Mordred didn’t really. Either way, both expressions made Crowley worry. He didn’t look towards Aziraphale. That would be stupid. He hoped the angel wouldn’t be stupid. He probably would be, Crowley knew, but he could hope.

“At last, Crowley! I shall have my revenge!” Hastur yelled, morphing into something even more terrifying [9] than he was before. Crowley blinked and didn’t scream. He pushed his sunglasses down a bit. And then he laughed. Everyone, including Crowley himself, was quite surprised by this. It made a bit more sense when you remembered that Crowley was, when you got right down to it, a snake [10]. Hastur recalled this when Crowley’s tongue flickered out, forked and red and snakelike.

“Stop laughing,” Mordred commanded. Crowley stopped laughing and tried to resist the urge to transform and attempt to slither away. “You’re a demon, aren’t you?”

“Yep, demon all the way through,” Crowley assured Mordred. It wasn’t strictly speaking the truth. That spark of goodness had grown into rather more than a spark while Aziraphale had developed a slightly better fashion sense and more of a sense of humour than any other angel possessed. Mordred looked like he knew this. He probably did, Crowley thought ruefully.

“Why do you... favour an angel?” the brat asked. He frowned, as if he didn’t understand why anyone would like angels. He probably didn’t.

“Erm. I’ll have to get back to you on that one,” Crowley replied. He was very slowly sidling backwards, towards Aziraphale’s bookshop. It wasn’t like the wards didn’t recognise him by now. They didn’t particularly want to, but Aziraphale always got annoyed with them whenever they tried to smite Crowley.

“If it pleases you, lord, the angel should come along soon enough, looking for him,” Hastur said, smirking in Crowley’s general direction. Crowley considered the benefits of getting his tyre iron. In the few thousand years since the last Antichrist, he’d had a long time to acquire a decent weapon, but that tyre iron had sentimental value. And he’d used it to stand up to the Devil, as Aziraphale had so quaintly put it. That wasn’t the sort of thing you forgot in a hurry. Of course, it was rather more than a tyre iron by now. With the help of Aziraphale and a few favours, it was now an efficient angel and demon maim-er. Crowley had also decked it out with some extra spiky things, so it didn’t so much resemble a tyre iron as a giant Swiss army knife with no spoon [11].

“Er, no actually, he won’t. I’ve been jussst sssort of tempting by myssself these daysss, no angel baggage or anything,” Crowley hissed. He didn’t much mean to, it was just that he was presumably going to die in a few minutes and imminent death was worrying enough for him to hiss uncontrollably. Unfortunately, Hastur was well aware of this fact. He glared suspiciously at Crowley, just in time to see the demon nudge the door open and slide inside. The wards flickered briefly, but they knew what would happen to them if they did the whole smiting Crowley routine, so they left him alone. Outside, there was a roar of extreme annoyance and then Hastur smashed into the very resilient wards, which did a bit of good old fashioned smiting.

Hastur deflated like a balloon and sagged against the wards, while Crowley tiptoed away from the door and into the back room. A few seconds passed in silence. Crowley tiptoed out of the back room and dithered in front of the door. There was a cough from the back room.

“Are you a demon?” one of the angels in there asked. Crowley didn’t so much as answer, deciding that as long as his species was being debated he’d be safe. Well, safer at any rate.

“Of course he is, Rhamiel. Can’t you tell?” another angel asked. There were rather a lot of them. Aziraphale’s back room had been warped into a slightly bigger room somehow.

“Well, I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings if he wasn’t. I am in charge of Empathy, you know,” the first angel – apparently Rhamiel – replied. He was waving a sword [12] around in a manner that was causing Crowley an intense amount of worry. “And besides,” Rhamiel continued, “he’s in this... place... so maybe he isn’t a demon. Those are demon repelling wards.”

“Well, he has tricked his way inside here. We should smite him for whoever placed the wards,” the second angel said. Crowley tried to unobtrusively sneak away.

“I wonder why the wards let him in. They’ve smote every other demon that tried. Quite efficiently too, and with very little screaming,” a third angel murmured. Then they all turned to face Crowley, who was wishing that whoever had been looking out for him would start paying attention again.

“How did you get past the wards, demon-spawn?” the second angel asked. Its sword whooomped into full blazing glory.

“Well, you sssee, that’s a bit of a problem. I sssuppose you could sssay I know the owner,” Crowley replied. Aziraphale would be nice to see right about now, Crowley thought miserably. He’d get smote anyway, but it would be nice to see his slightly pudgy angel before he died.

“Tell us the truth, demon!” Rhamiel cried, apparently forgetting that he was meant to be the angel of empathy. Crowley wished he could threaten him, just a little.

“I’m being completely honessst, I really do know the owner,” Crowley insisted. To go outside and face the wrath of the Antichrist and his pet bulldog [13] or stay and face the smiting power of a bunch of dippy angels? Decisions, decisions.

“Just smite the damn thing and get it over with,” one of the angels grumbled. “Honestly Rhamiel, if we’d known how useless you’d be we’d have left you at home.”

“There’s no need to get snippy at me,” Rhamiel sniffed, raising his sword a bit higher. “I am sorry about this, Mr Demon, but well. You are in a… would you call this a sacred place?”

“Yes,” Crowley replied, somewhat hysterically. “Very, very sacred. The sacredest place I know and I’ve been to Jerusalem. Definitely holy.” Crowley really hoped his blood didn’t get on any of Aziraphale’s books. That would make him angry.

“Oh do get on with it Rhamiel! We don’t need to let it monologue at us all night!”

Crowley blessed as hard as he could when the sword started coming towards him, and he absolutely refused to watch himself being disembowelled, so his eyes were shut when there was a sudden clang and a lot of scraping.

“I’ll thank you kindly to get out,” Aziraphale said, and he’d changed into his smiting clothes and all.

“Excuse me, but that’s a demon-

Mine,” Aziraphale interrupted. “He’s mine, and I will thank you to refrain from getting his blood on the carpet.”

“Angel, you have no idea how glad I am to see you,” Crowley said, loudly. “One minute Hastur’s about three seconds from eating me, next thing I know the empathy squad is telling me how sorry they are for killing me.”

Aziraphale scowled. It looked quite incongruous on him, even when he was wielding a flaming sword.

“Crowley,” Aziraphale began. “Do you still have a bucket of holy water hidden in here?”

Crowley cringed slightly, but went off to fetch it. Aziraphale took it off him brusquely, threw open the front door of his shop and threw the bucket’s contents out- straight onto the Antichrist.

For a moment, there was silence.

Then the screaming started. Everyone watched, horrified, as the Antichrist wailed and screeched and clawed at his face and then Aziraphale drew his sword and slammed it into the thing that had once been Mordred and it stopped squalling.

“The Apocalypse is over,” Aziraphale announced. He pointed to the angels. “Out of my shop.” He pointed to the demons, with his sword, which made them all flinch. “Get off of Earth right now, or so help me, I will tell Crowley to fetch the other holy water-”

“But that’s connected to a hosepipe!” Crowley yelled, which made all the demons back even further away.

“I know that. I’m afraid I’ve had it up to here with all of this nonsense. First they ruin London – have you seen the state of the Ritz, Crowley? Disgraceful, I tell you – and St James’ Park. Then they burn the bookshops – thousands of books Crowley, thousands – and the libraries. And then they want to kill my demon! Well I’m not having it! You will all of you go home right now and you can only come back when you are willing to go about this in a civilised manner.” Aziraphale somehow managed to give the impression of wings. Wings and halos. And possibly a lion’s head.

“What does that mean?” Rhamiel asked. He flinched when Aziraphale turned to look at him.

“Tea and crumpets! That’s what it means! You can only come back when you’re ready to sit down and discuss this whole Apocalypse over tea. Until then… get out.”

It is worth mentioning that at this point, Aziraphale looked somehow more terrifying than even the devil himself.

The angels and the demons, after brief glances across the street at each other, fled.

Aziraphale deflated a little. “Crowley, be a dear, make me some tea.”

“Of course, angel,” Crowley replied, and he absolutely did not scurry off to do so.

After Aziraphale had had his fill, there was a tentative knock at the door. A trembling angel stood there.

“Is it okay, sir, if we, uh, go back to Heaven without you, sir?” the angel asked.

“I would be most pleased if you did,” Aziraphale said. “You see, Crowley is about to passionately take me over the kitchen counter, and I would prefer it if we weren’t interrupted.”

“I am?” Crowley asked the world at large [14].

“Yes, dear, you are.”

“Oh. I suppose I can fit that into my busy schedule.”

The angel, wisely, left.

Sometime later, when both Crowley and Aziraphale were considerably less clothed and considerably more lethargic, there was another knock at the door. Crowley answered it this time, and was greeted by something that made him squeak and wish he’d put on trousers before answering the door.

“Shall I get the hosepipe?” Aziraphale asked, from deeper inside.

“I think that would just make him angrier,” Crowley replied, somehow keeping a straight face.

The Devil gave him a queer look. “WERE YOU REALLY JUST FUCKING THAT ANGEL?”

Crowley did squeak then and frantically nodded his head.

Aziraphale poked his head out of the top floor window, clutching the hosepipe. “Oh. It’s you,” he said. “Again.”

“YES,”the Devil replied. “AFTER CAREFUL CONSIDERATION, I HAVE DECIDED THAT THE DEMON
CROWLEY MAY GO UNPUNISHED FOR HIS GOOD DEEDS. HE IS, AFTER ALL, BANGING AN ANGEL.
THAT PROBABLY COUNTS FOR A THOUSAND SINNERS SENT TO HELL.”

“That’s good of you,” Aziraphale commented. “He was about to continue with that before you turned up.”

“I was?” Crowley asked, faintly. Usually, it took months and months and months of carefully orchestrated begging, seducing and out and out whoring to get Aziraphale to even consider having sex. Their first time had only happened after nearly five thousand years of subtle courting [15]. And now he was going to get laid! Twice! In one day!

Only at the end of the world.

“GOOD. CARRY ON.” The Devil gave a sort of awkward nod, and then the ground swallowed him up. Crowley shut the front door. He was never going to answer it again.

“Well come on then,” Aziraphale called. “We mustn’t keep the Devil waiting."[16]

[1] Particularly Newt, who had spent the entirety of his married life convinced that Agnes was watching him and Anathema and was rather enjoying that she wasn’t watching him now that he was dead.

[2] Their first mistake was in assuming that all characters in Arthurian legend are nice; Mordred was most emphatically not nice, a fact that the second Mordred’s parents only found out after the birth certificate had been signed.

[3] He maintained that if everyone just sat down and had some tea and biscuits and, more importantly, some chocolate then everyone would see just how awful it would be if Earth didn’t exist anymore.

[4] They were quite lucky in this regard, because they were the only beings in existence who had the first Antichrist currently on their side. He was in fact yelling profanities at the viewing portal, encouraging them to go and get rid of his successor and stop the whole stupid thing.

[5] Well, some of them did, until Crowley realised that Hastur was actually just copying out threats from human books. And they weren’t even good human books.

[6] This obviously wasn’t normal Adam behaviour, but you have to remember that by this point, his precious Tadfield – untouched for a very long time – had been razed to the ground by both angels and demons, on the basis that it was what had stopped the last Apocalypse and they’d be dam-bless- somethinged if they were going to let it happen again.

[7] Shall we say that there had been several incidents after he had tried to go home and what was left was somewhat terrier shaped with a proclivity for chasing cats and souls of the damned. He also very much wanted to become intimately involved with the new Antichrist’s leg, in the way of chewing on it until the screaming stopped, but most small dogs want this anyway.

[8] He had, but had never applied either concept to himself, as he had no friends and loyalty didn’t count for much when you were dead, or indeed, Death.

[9] It had a great many legs and a great many eyes and evoked the fear of spiders in humans and human shaped creatures.

[10] And snakes, as we all know, aren’t afraid of spiders. Some even eat spiders for lunch.

[11] But it still had an ice cream ladle.

[12] Flaming of course, and quite vigorously. Crowley was tempted to say that if he kept on doing that, then the shop’s owner would hurt rather more than just his feelings.

[13] Hastur.

[14] Alas, the world did not answer, although Agnes Nutter laughed with delight and yelled “Take it off!” at the screen, much to the horror of the other viewers.

[15] Sometimes it was so subtle even Crowley didn’t know he was doing it.

[16] In addition to Satan, they were also watched by several interested angels who had to keep pausing the feed and asking passing humans what was going on, the entirety of Adam’s Purgatory Club (with commentary from Agnes Nutter, War and Famine), Hastur and a variety of other demons (entirely against Hastur’s will) and of course, God Herself. She spent the entire time smiling, and tucked them into bed afterwards. Never let it be said that She doesn’t love Her creation, even if She does let it play by itself these days.