Daegaer wrote, @ 2003 -05-25
Creeping Change
One of graycastle’s suggestions.

Creeping Change

It was an uneventful drive to Guildford.  Crowley frankly didn’t see why Aziraphale had insisted on coming along.  It wasn’t like he had meant last week’s unfortunate incident with the expectant girl to get quite so out of hand, after all.  A gentle sense that everything will go all right this time, Aziraphale had said, before skipping off to his tiresome book fair.  In retrospect, Crowley thought, perhaps the long liquid lunch beforehand hadn’t been a good idea.  But her face!  It wasn’t everyday someone got a full-on angelic appearance these days.  Especially not with swelling background music, a heavy dose of ecstasy and the lingering scent of flowers-beyond-these-mortal-fields.  Crowley tried not cringe too much as he remembered straightening the halo and declaiming Fear not, for you have conceived and shall bear a son —­ oh, actually a daughter—­ and you shall call his — sorry, her — name Emmanuel.  Aziraphale had shouted.  A lot.  And had insisted on doing his own work for a change, and on being brought along on Crowley’s assignments as well to make sure nothing too awful happened.

It was now noon, and for the last twenty minutes Aziraphale had been making pointed suggestions that they should stop to eat the sandwiches he’d made that morning.  Crowley pointed out again as patiently as he could that they’d started later than he’d wanted, and he didn’t really want to lose any more time.  Anyway, he could drive perfectly well without touching the steering wheel if Aziraphale insisted on them eating the blessed sandwiches.  Aziraphale got a stubborn glint in his eyes and complained until Crowley finally gave in and detoured down a minor road to find a suitable stopping point.  Suitable, of course, by angelic standards which meant no stopping on a bend or a hill, no obstructing of gateways, no squashing of sweet little wildflowers and definitely no attempts on the lives of any of the Lord’s smaller creations.  Finally, just before he gave in to the urge to strangle Aziraphale, the angel let him stop in front of a tumbledown cottage.

Crowley grudgingly had to admit the sandwiches were worth stopping for.  The bread was fresh and almost impossibly thinly cut, there was precisely the right amount of butter, and the cucumber was crisp and cool, and had somehow not made the bread the least bit soggy.  Crowley snorted.  So much for disapproving of the inappropriate use of supernatural power.

“What’s in that flask?” he asked, hoping the answer wouldn’t be overly stewed tea.

“Pimms,” Aziraphale said happily.

Crowley grinned and accepted a flask mug full.  Thoroughly ridiculous, he thought.  Thoroughly angelic.  Aziraphale clambered out of the car to stretch his legs.  He waved at the old cottage.

“Look at that wonderful old honeysuckle,” he said.  “I’ve always loved it.  Such an unassuming flower and such a lovely scent.  Awfully English, I’ve always thought.”

“And extremely old-fashioned,” Crowley said, helping himself to the last sandwich.  He preferred improbably coloured exotic blooms if he absolutely had to look at flowers.  As a rule, nice dark green glossy leaves were much more his thing, he thought.  Understated class.  Maybe set off with something really, really bright for contrast.  He wondered how a delicate exotic would take to being threatened.

“Exactly.  Lovely,” Aziraphale said.  He frowned at the plant.  “There’s one of those horrid bindweeds growing through it.  Nasty common little weed.”

“Survival of the fittest,” Crowley yawned, tipping the final drops of the Pimms into his mug.

“Don’t quote that Darwin fellow at me, Crowley.  Look at it — you can hardly tell where one plant leaves off and the other begins.”

Crowley sneakily gave the bindweed a little help, deciding he approved of any plant that worked by constricting its prey.  Aziraphale looked at him indignantly and the honeysuckle suddenly ran rampant.  The decidedly unangelic smirk was wiped from Aziraphale’s face as the bindweed made a sudden comeback, sprouting wiry green tendrils all over the place.  The honeysuckle fought valiantly, and the scent almost knocked Crowley out.  He privately felt that was an unfair move, seeing as bindweed wasn’t scented.  He retaliated by having a charming and friendly thrush distract Aziraphale for a few vital seconds.

By the time they both realised they were acting rather childishly and drove away the old cottage was totally covered by creepers.  The honeysuckle and bindweed were completely intertwined, neither winning out, each supporting the weight of the other.  Some of the honeysuckle flowers were a brilliant scentless white, and a faint perfume came from some of the bindweed blossoms.  They looked a little odd, but made for something marvellous and rare, a new thing under the sun.