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06 March 2006 @ 12:58 am
Heigh-ho...  
Crowley was driving about the city in the Bentley. Rather randomly, if truth be told. He didn't really have a destination in mind, he was just getting to know the place. Taking note of anything that looked interesting, or anything he might want to revisit. There was a restaurant, there was an electronics store, there was a...

There was a bookstore. A very strangely familiar-looking bookstore.

The Bentley screeched to a halt, Crowley unheeding of any commotion he might be causing. After a few moments, he pulled over and parked, sliding out of the Bentley slowly. He stood there for a minute before stepping up to the door. He glanced at the sign, the illegible listing of the store's hours, just like the one he'd seen a thousand times elsewhere.

"I'm going to bloody well regret this..."

He pushed the door open and stepped inside, letting it close behind him.
 
 
Current Mood: distressedstunned
 
 
 
bookish_angel on March 6th, 2006 07:18 am (UTC)
Oh, drat, he'd forgotten to lock the door. Aziraphale just realized this as he heard the sound of the front door opening and closing as someone stepped inside. He kept intending to get one of those little signs to hang on the door which said 'Closed' or 'Out to Lunch' but he never seemed to get around to it.

Well, maybe they're just here to ask if they can use the telephone, or they need directions, he mused to himself as he set down his cup of tea and stood. Those types seemed to naturally find their way to his little shop, as if it were giving off some kind of aura which made people feel that they would find assistance here. Which was, of course, more or less accurate, since Aziraphale couldn't turn down someone who really needed help.

Of course, he had a few determined customers, too. He had more problems with them here than in London. They were stubborn... So much so that he'd sold more books in the past two months here than he did in most years in England... but his collection had grown by leaps and bounds, too. He couldn't complain about that.

"Hello," he called from the back as he stepped around a bookcase into the front room. "How can I help-... Oh..." He stopped abruptly upon seeing who had just come through the door.

He stood there, staring, not even blinking.
Anthony J. Crowleyh8_ineffability on March 6th, 2006 07:52 am (UTC)
Crowley was staring a bit, too, stopped just inside the doorway. He'd barely gotten inside when the sense of instant, utter recognition had stopped him dead. It was exactly the same, bookshelves, counter, dust and all. He was sure if he walked into the back room, there would be a cup of tea and an open book on the table. Even more, the entire place had that welcoming, helpful feel that he always associated with Aziraphale. Constitutionally incapable of telling someone to bugger off.

And now the angel was standing in front of him, looking like a landed fish. Not his angel, it couldn't be. His had up and vanished on him. But he looked the same, and felt the same, and Crowley was, for once, at a loss.

"Bloody he- Bugger. I... Hullo, ang- Aziraphale."

He felt a right idiot, too.
bookish_angel on March 6th, 2006 08:40 am (UTC)
Aziraphale was frozen for several seconds. When he finally moved, it was to put a hand to his mouth, almost as if he were afraid of saying something terribly wrong. He was entirely certain that this was not the same Crowley... There was no way it could be. He was painfully aware that he'd never see the Crowley from his dimension again, unless he were to go to Hell. You know, literally.

It was something that he tried not to think about, although hardly a week went by without him seeing something that reminded him of Crowley, even since he'd moved. He had been glad to get out of his dimension and away from London... He was fairly certain that he shouldn't have left without a trace, but he couldn't bear it anymore. Knowing what was happening to Crowley tormented him enough as it was without being in the places that they used to frequent.

And now here he was, standing right in front of him, exactly as he last remembered seeing him.

Well, maybe not exactly. The last time he'd seen Crowley he'd been grinning that devilish grin of his as they'd parted ways. He missed that grin... He missed Crowley.

He hadn't even gotten to say good-bye...

All of this was quite evident in the angel's eyes. The recognition, the subsequent realization that this was not precisely him, the pain of knowing that Crowley's fate, the utter helplessness that he felt, and the... Oh, he'd been over this a thousand times, but his feelings on it never changed no matter how much he tried to reason with himself.

His hand slid to rub his cheek as he attempted something that was supposed to be a brief smile, his gaze settling down somewhere near Crowley's feet. "Oh dear, this is awkward..." he murmured.

Maybe this Crowley wasn't exactly like the one he'd known. Maybe he wasn't exactly like the other Aziraphale. It seemed likely enough, but this just felt so... familiar.
Anthony J. Crowleyh8_ineffability on March 6th, 2006 09:13 am (UTC)
"Awkward. Yeah, that's one way of putting it," Crowley said, a wry smile twisting his lips. He'd seen the pain in Aziraphale's eyes after the recognition, and he had a sinking feeling he knew where this angel's Crowley was. "Of all the bookstores in all the dimensions in all the multiverse, I had to walk into yours."

He'd known he was going to regret this. It was a bad idea. He shouldn't have come in. He shouldn't even have gotten out of his car. He should have just floored the gas and kept going as fast as he could. Never looked back. He'd known before he ever came in that it couldn't be his Aziraphale. It might not even have been a similar Aziraphale, Crowley had been bouncing about the dimensions enough by now to know alternates could be very different indeed.

But he'd missed him...
bookish_angel on March 6th, 2006 10:46 am (UTC)
"Um... well..." Aziraphale was feeling so very articulate at the moment. "Would you like to come have a seat? We can, erm, drink... and talk, if you'd like..."

Just like old times.

He wasn't sure how this was going to turn out, not sure at all, but he did know that he didn't want Crowley to leave. Even though his arrival had brought back painful memories, even though this wasn't technically the same Crowley, it was still... well, Crowley. Things just weren't the same without him.

Even so, Aziraphale wouldn't make him stay if he didn't want to.
Anthony J. Crowleyh8_ineffability on March 7th, 2006 03:19 am (UTC)
"Yeah... That sounds good," Crowley muttered, shoving his hands in his pockets. He could probably use a drink. Several drinks, even. It hadn't been that long since he'd gotten good and drunk, but sometimes a situation demanded it.

He glanced at the door, and the lock clicked shut. Last thing they were going to need was someone walking in when they were both smashed and discussing white elephants or something equally daft.

"I've got a while. I was just running around checking out the city, I'm moving here soon. I've got a friend helping me find a place."
bookish_angel on March 7th, 2006 03:33 am (UTC)
Aziraphale walked to the back room, quickly busying himself with getting out two glasses and two bottles of wine. It was very good wine, too, very strong stuff. He had a feeling that they would work their way through these easily, but it was a good start.

"Oh, is that so? It is a nice place. Odd, yes, but nice... Who is this friend of yours?" He asked as he pulled out a bottle of gin, as well, on a second thought. His voice sounded normal enough, but he was prattling on to a certain extent. It was a natural reaction to carry on such polite chatter while he had a chance to absorb this. He wasn't quite sure yet that he was stuck in some strange illusion.
Anthony J. Crowleyh8_ineffability on March 7th, 2006 04:22 am (UTC)
"You're rambling, angel," Crowley pointed out blandly, strolling after him to settle into a chair. "She goes by Nightshade. I have made a personal choice to call her Shady. She's an interesting sort."

He noted the addition of the gin with mild, amused interest. Evidently Aziraphale shared his opinion of the current situation as being a bad one to be sober in.

"As for the place... It does seem decent enough, though I haven't even been here any time and already it's the same old mess again. Though, admittedly, it's still better than staying back in London where anybody could find me."
bookish_angel on March 9th, 2006 06:25 am (UTC)
"I can't say that I've heard of her, but this is a very big place. Is she a human or something else? It really is fascinating, how many different kinds of people there are out here," Aziraphale said as he settled into a chair across from Crowley and opened one of the bottles of wine.

"I am aware that I'm rambling," he agreed absently. He sighed faintly as he filled their glasses. "As for being involved in the same old mess, as you call it, I haven't been. I have spoken to some who are involved in various 'messes'... There are so many, too. Some of them are quite nice, and they haven't asked me to do anything for them."

He sipped his wine. As much as he wanted to help people who genuinely needed it... After Crowley's disappearance, things just weren't the same. He wasn't the same.

He hadn't realized how complicated things were before. Nothing had seemed complicated merely because they worked so well that way. Without Crowley everything fell apart in ways that he hadn't even thought about before, even with the business of the world nearly ending that time.

It was so tempting to talk about these things, but he wasn't sure if he should. He was aware that he would definitely be asking one question, but only once he'd had a few drinks.
Anthony J. Crowleyh8_ineffability on March 9th, 2006 09:18 am (UTC)
"Vampire," Crowley said, picking up his glass and taking a drink. "Something else, too, but I haven't asked because it doesn't really matter to me. She's Shady and I like her, good enough for me."

He pointed at Aziraphale, an expression of mild aggravation flitting across his features. "You're an angel. That means, for the most part, you get the nice ones. If you want to volunteer, good, but if you don't, they won't bother you, I guess. Not your dimension, not your mess, after all. But I'm a demon, so the people who might be interested in getting me on their side aren't inclined to sit back and wait for me to come to them."

They also tended to not be the sort of people who took a 'no' gracefully, either. Crowley was a bit worried about that, honestly. He hadn't actually turned them down yet, but he knew he very well might. Just what he needed, really. More enemies.

"Plus some angel who has a positive talent for being irritating, and this is me saying this."
bookish_angel on March 9th, 2006 10:35 am (UTC)
"Oh dear, I may know who you're talking about." Aziraphale could really imagine that the two might get along, having a couple of things in common, but he knew that Crowley would scoff at such an idea. Him, getting along with an angel? Aside from Aziraphale, of course, that was different.

Vampires. Hm. He wasn't sure what to think of those. They seemed to be a rather disturbing crowd, on the whole, but he did know that some of them weren't quite so bad.

He drained the rest of his wine in one drink and then fiddled with his empty glass, a bit nervously. He was much more relaxed now than he had been a few moments ago, but he was still feeling terribly awkward.

"You don't have to deal with anyone if you don't wish to," he ventured after a few seconds, nearly managing to drop the glass onto the floor. "They do not have you bound, and they do not have the power or influence to force you to do anything. You... we are truly capable of having free will here, I suppose."
Anthony J. Crowleyh8_ineffability on March 10th, 2006 03:08 am (UTC)
"I know," Crowley muttered, draining his own glass. "Mind, that doesn't change the fact that turning them down could very well earn me some powerful enemies. But not turning them down means getting embroiled in the whole thing all over again. Same Shit, Different Dimension. I'm not so stupid as to think it's easy to make a deal with any Hell that's got no strings attached. Plus, they haven't got anything I want, anyway."

There was only one thing he wanted that he couldn't get easily enough himself, and no Hell could give it to him. The closest thing to it was sitting across from him right now, trying to keep from breaking a glass.
bookish_angel on March 10th, 2006 05:14 am (UTC)
Azirphale occupied himself with refilling their glasses, which he managed to do without spilling anything.

"We're not so powerful that it would be worth causing trouble too much over. Even if something does happen, we'll work things out, not to worry," he said in a reasonable tone.

That sort of thing seemed downright easy compared to some of the other issues he was thinking about. He took a drink of wine, absently thankful for the fact that it was very old, good, strong wine. He was already starting to feel a bit fuzzy.
Anthony J. Crowleyh8_ineffability on March 10th, 2006 05:40 am (UTC)
"Optimist," Crowley grumbled, taking another drink. "Well, maybe. I hope so. Anyway, I told them both to bugger off and not bother me until I've found a flat here and got moved in."

This was strange. This was all so familiar and comfortable, but there was still that little voice in the back of Crowley's head going 'This isn't your angel. You haven't really got any right to be here.' Maybe if he had enough to drink, it would shut up.
bookish_angel on March 10th, 2006 06:39 am (UTC)
Aziraphale finished off his second glass in a couple of drinks and refilled his glass.

Oddly enough, he was having very similar thoughts about Crowley. Whatever had happened to his Aziraphale, it was hard to imagine anything happening to him that would permanently put him out of the picture. Unlike what happened to Crowley... The moral implications of all of this were beyond anything he'd had to deal with before.

But maybe... maybe it didn't really matter.

He was Aziraphale. This was Crowley. If they came from nearly identical worlds, maybe they were identical, except for the time period, why should they worry so much about who was really from where? And when?How could one ever be entirely sure with how tangled the multiverse was at times?

So what was the biggest problem here? Aziraphale mulled over it as he sipped his wine. It wasn't the fact that this wasn't the Crowley from his world, presumably. That was strange, yes, but not the main cause of the awkwardness.

It was... well...

Complicated. Because things between them were. He had a nagging suspicion that this wasn't nearly as complicated as they were both thinking that it was, but...

At this point, though, the pleasant fuzzy feelings were making it harder to think about such things. It made it easier to think about the less complicated things, like how much better he felt at the moment than he had felt in years.

He looked up at Crowley and smiled faintly, a warm expression that wasn't awkward or uncomfortable. "I'm glad that you came in, Crowley," he said solemnly.
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