Prefatory Materials

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Daegaer wrote, @ 2003 -08 -19
Me vs the house
The house is winning.  That’s all there is to say about it.

For louiselux, who by this stage I hope is not having a bad day: 

Crowley’s Bad Day

Crowley was having a bad day.

He started by oversleeping, which normally he quite enjoyed.  Today, though, he’d had an urgent appointment to make sure a sold soul stayed sold.  He so despised the fickle human capacity for sincere repentance, even if it was so rare.  By the time he got across the city he discovered his recent client, who so very recently had been happy to know that her little wheelings and dealings, not to mention the unfortunate fate of her first born child — really, he thought, he had a phone — wouldn’t pop up to embarrass her in her new rôle in politics had been talking to the earnest young men with Bibles that Aziraphale had felt honour bound to tell him would be deployed.  Not only that but she’d suddenly seen the error of her ways and had expressed a desire for immediate baptism.  Crowley begged and pleaded and pointed out he’d go straight to the police, but she ignored him and muttered piously that she was being beset by Satan.  She even trotted out the ‘Get thee behind me’ line.  That was particularly annoying – the big guys always took the credit.  He went off, sadly shaking his head.  He’d really thought she was irredeemable.  He owed the blessed angel a fiver.

The day didn’t improve much.  His lunch was limp and sorry looking, and the waiters weren’t sufficiently servile and apologetic, not even when he gave them all terminal acne.  Traffic was slow but moving on the M25, and drivers didn’t seem to be consumed by hate.  He kept coming across people who smiled at him and wished him a good day.  Tourists wandered round looking tanned and pretty and stylish.  People he didn’t like the look of ogled him, and people he found attractive rolled their eyes when he smiled at them.  No one was even complaining about the blessed weather.  He finally decided that work was impossible on such a horrid day, and nipped into a pub, only to discover they were completely out of gin.  When he emerged, he discovered that a tribe of foolhardy pigeons had liberally decorated the Bentley, and even more stupidly had stayed around to admire their handiwork.

Driving through the shower of crispy-fried pigeon that had suddenly descended, he thought he should admit defeat and go pay the angel his money.  He headed straight to Soho and marched into the bookshop, waving the fiver in Aziraphale’s face.

“She repented.”

“Thank you,” Aziraphale said, cheerfully snatching the money.  “You have to get up early to beat me, you know.”

Crowley glared at him.

“Get up early?  Did you do something to my alarm clock?”

“Dear me, no,” Aziraphale said in tones of deepest innocence.  “I’ve never stooped so low as that.”

Crowley sagged and thought longingly of going back to bed.  He felt wrung out from his sheer lack of success all day.  He could just sleep for a week, and wake up when this would all be forgotten.

“I’m wrecked, and I’m off,” he said.

“Let me give you some dinner,” Aziraphale said, happy in the flush of victory. “You just sit down and listen to some music and I’ll make something.”

Crowley looked at him warily.  It was never a good sign when the angel wanted to cook.

“Listen, I’ll just pop home and veg out in front of the TV,” he said.

Aziraphale looked at him blankly.

“I’ll just watch the stupidest programmes I can find,” Crowley translated. “And when I’m rested, I’ll look after my plants.”

“No, no, I won’t hear of it, dear boy,” Aziraphale said. “You sit down and relax and let me take care of things.”

Crowley blanched.  Then he obediently went off and sat down and poked around in Aziraphale’s enormous CD collection and sneered at Aziraphale’s totally inadequate stereo.  After a while he was feeling much better, and thought he could just sit back and let the music wash over him for hours.  That was what he needed, uninterrupted peace and good music —­

“Dinner!” Aziraphale sang out.

Crowley blessed under his breath and clambered to his feet.  Aziraphale shooed him to the table and sat him down.

“I thought I’d make something nice and light,” Aziraphale said. “So I thought a four-cheese omelette might fit the bill.”

Crowley peered at him suspiciously.

“And what four cheeses are we talking about?”

“Well, I made two.  One with Ricotta, Mascarpone, nice fresh Parmesan and Mozarella — so I suppose that’s a quatre formaggio, and one with Stilton, Roquefort, Gorgonzola and Camembert.  Which would you like?”

Crowley closed his eyes in despair.

“I really don’t know how to answer that, Aziraphale,” he said.

“Can’t decide?  That’s all right — here, we’ll have half of each.”

Crowley looked at the omelettes on his plate.  They were very big.  Cheese was leaking out and making a large mixed-cheeses lake.  He looked up at Aziraphale’s cheerful, expectant face, and hesitantly raised a forkful of blue-and-yellow to his mouth.

“Mmm.  Salty,” he said.

He stoically ate as much as he could.  The omelettes were actually very nice, light and fluffy and cooked to perfection.  It was the fact that Aziraphale had clearly decided to use the entire cheese section from the supermarket that made them difficult to get through.  And they’d been cooked in butter, of course.  Crowley was glad his arteries could just ignore the build up.

“Dear me, you’ve left a lot,” Aziraphale said. “Didn’t you like it?”

“Oh yes,” Crowley lied, “but I’m very full.”

“Eat up,” Aziraphale said, “you’re far too thin, and you can’t have any dessert till you’ve finished.”

“You’ll make someone a wonderful mother,” Crowley said sarcastically, and forced himself through more of his dinner.

Finally he handed the empty plate to Aziraphale and sat back, wheezing gently.  All he wanted to do was sleep.  Aziraphale puttered round behind him, humming.

“Now.  I have apple pie — will you have some?” the angel asked in a tone that indicated that ‘no’ was not an acceptable answer.

“Just a very small piece,” Crowley said wearily. “I mean it — small.”

“With cream or ice cream or both?”

“Just the —­ pie,” Crowley said as a plate with pie, cream and ice cream was set before him. “Er.  Thanks.”

It wasn’t a particularly small piece.  It also wasn’t the flat sort of pie he’d been expecting.  It was thick and luscious and stuffed with apples.  Aziraphale looked at him in some worry.

“It’s all right, isn’t it?  I got it in that new bakery.  I’d have made one myself if I’d known you were coming over.”

Crowley got a sudden flash of what an Aziraphale-made pie would be like.  It would dwarf this one, that was for sure.  He gave the best wicked smile he could at the thought that the angel had bought this monstrosity as a snack just for himself — along with the cream and ice cream, the greedy thing — and tucked in.  It was very nice.  It was like a whole extra dinner after his dinner.  He wondered if Aziraphale would mind very much if he fell asleep at the table.

“Let’s go out,” Aziraphale said. “That’ll be much better for you than sitting in front of the TV.”

“Can’t we just listen to music?” Crowley said.

“Come on, a nice bit of fresh air.  We’ll have a bit of a wander, and then maybe we’ll go to the cinema.”

“The cinema,” Crowley repeated.

“Yes — there’s a lovely film I saw mentioned in the paper.  It’s a documentary about an infant school in France — it follows the children and teachers through the whole school year.”

Crowley gaped at him in horror.  Aziraphale smiled happily at him.  He had to think of a way to get out of this.

“Ok, we’ll go to the cinema.  But I want to go to something I find relaxing, and something about French kiddies isn’t going to make the cut.  I want to go to a scary film”

“Oh,” Aziraphale said disapprovingly. “Something with no social or artistic value involving scantily clad young persons no doubt.”

“Now you’re getting the idea!” Crowley said. “But see, those films are really very moral.”

Aziraphale raised an eyebrow and poured coffee.  Before Crowley could stop him he added a good dose of cream.

“Traditionally, it’s the ones who engage in stuff like premarital sex who get killed off first,” Crowley said, fending off Aziraphale’s forays with the sugar bowl. “And the last one left standing, the one who gets to defeat evil is almost always a girl, who stands up and is counted sort of stuff, so you see it’s empowering to young women showing them they can be righteously violent without needing to hide behind a man.  A very positive message.”

Aziraphale looked remarkably unconvinced.

“And if it gets too scary for you, you can always hold my hand,” Crowley said, laughing.

“Really.  As if I’d be scared by a silly, overly melodramatic film.  We’ll walk.”

Crowley levered himself upright.

“Ok.  But remember, I’m choosing the film.”

It was a nice evening for a stroll.  The heavy over full feeling wore off eventually.  And the film was very funny.  Crowley laughed his way though, much to the annoyance of those around him, although they might have been more annoyed by the terrified squawks coming from Aziraphale.  After seeing him hide his eyes and whimper in a particularly laughable manner, Crowley even forgave him for clutching at his arm every time the music swelled dramatically.

Well, he thought as they wandered back to the shop through the warm night, tomorrow can only be better.