i love him
i love him
Spock was sitting, deep in thought, in the smaller crew dining area of Deck 5. Seated at the furthest edge of the room, fingers steepled in front of his face, Spock cut an intimidating figure. The few crew members who dared to remain in the room with their foreboding First Officer, did so very quietly.
Spock was… disconcerted. He would never admit that to anyone else, of course. But to deny the truth to oneself, however distasteful, was wholly illogical. And the truth was that he was not comfortable with the idea of attending this Christmas party. Spock did not like parties. He did not understand Christmas. The Captain had made a relatively rational case for why he should attend, and although unsure, Spock did trust his Captain’s judgement in such matters.
He did however doubt the trust Kirk placed in him. Jim - “the Captain…” Spock mentally corrected himself - frequently overestimated Spock’s ability to interact competently and effectively with other people. Whilst it was true that he was an excellent diplomat, Spock found that his attempts at informal interpersonal communication were not always well received by others. He had long given up even trying. Spock was not at all confident that his presence at this party would provide any benefits to anyone. Quite the contrary. He didn’t even know what he was supposed to wear, let alone -
A bright voice interrupted his brooding.
“Well hello there, Mister Spock.”
Blinking away his disturbed contemplations, Spock shifted in his seat, straightening his back and lowering his hands to rest in his lap. An image of patience and cool condescension.
“Christine, please,” she replied with smile. She gestured to the empty seat opposite Spock with her cup of coffee. “Do you mind?”
Spock did not understand why humans always asked such questions. If one answered truthfully, they would inevitably react in a highly negative and emotional manner. He had learned from experience that the best option was simply to reply ‘go ahead’.
“Go ahead.” Spock replied.
Content the interaction had been adequately concluded, Spock re-steepled his hands, and settled back to his problem.
Or at least he tried to. He felt Nurse Chapel’s gaze fall on him several times during the few minutes since she had sat down. Out of the corner of his eye he could see her smiling at him. If he were not Vulcan, it would have been a most annoying distraction.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
Spock closed his eyes, and breathed out heavily (it was not a sigh, exasperated or otherwise. He was merely exhaling. With force).
“A penny is an antiquated form of Earth currency. As such currency is no longer of any practicable use within the Federation, and neither am I a collector of archaic monetary artefacts, I fail to see why I would be offered such an object, in what I presume is a trade of some kind for 'my thoughts’. A trade, I might add, which would appear most illogical even if it did not involve an obscure archaeological relic.”
Christine just smiled patiently, and said, “You seemed quite lost in thought, Mister Spock. Anything bothering you?”
Spock considered over-articulating the general idea of “Vulcans do not get 'bothered’ by things”. But as his valiant attempt at misinterpreting Christine’s idiom had failed in deterring her, Spock doubted repeating the action would have any different effect.
He leaned back in his chair, folded his arms across his chest, and regarded the human sitting across from him.
Spock did not dislike Christine Chapel. In the dealings he had had with the Enterprise’s Head Nurse, Spock had found her to be an intelligent, calm, accomplished individual, who could at times be quite logical. In some ways she reminded him of the Enterprise’s previous First Officer, Captain Pike’s Number One, whom Spock had held in high esteem.
Perhaps that is why he said,
“I do not understand Christmas parties.”
Spock waited, gauging her reaction, anticipating mocking, scorn, or derision. When he was met instead with an interested smile, silently beckoning him to continue, Spock unexpectedly found himself doing so.
“I do not understand why anyone finds it desirable to attend arranged events in the company of others whom they routinely avoid throughout the rest of the year, in an environment of manufactured merry-making filled with meaningless, insincere small talk, punctuated only by the excessive consumption of alcohol. All for the ostensible purpose of celebrating the birth of a human child thousands of years ago.”
“Well, when you put it like that, I’m not sure I understand Christmas parties, either!”
Christine laughed warmly, and then tilted her head to one side.
“Maybe I can help. I know a little about Christmas, and a little about parties, and a lot about people. What do you want to know?”
Spock frowned slightly.
“At present, I am less interested in the psychology of Christmas parties, and more in gaining a heuristic understanding of the social behaviours and interactions typically observed and initiated at such events .”
“Always good to start with the basics,” Christine smiled. “Could you be a little more specific?”
Spock thought for a moment, then replied,
“What is the typical attire worn to such events?”
“Well, there isn’t really any particular rule, as such, and it can vary from party to party, of course… But I would say that a decent general rule would be 'smart-casual’…”
Spock’s slight head tilt and confused puppy-dog expression prompted Christine to further explain, without missing a beat.
“…which would consist of clothes not formal enough to wear to work or to, I don’t know, a wedding, but more formal than clothes you would lounge around in binge-watching holovids and eating ice cream.”
Christine’s silvery laugh rang out as Spock lifted a solitary skeptical eyebrow.
“Oh!” She suddenly exclaimed. “Christmas jumpers!”
“Christmas jumpers! They are an excellent example of Christmas-specific clothing.”
“A 'jumper’ is a knitted garment with long-sleeves, worn on the upper body.” Spock said, with the barest hint of a question in his tone.
“Precisely. A Christmas jumper is a jumper decorated with Christmas motifs. Let me see if I can find any pictures on my PADD… Ah, yes, here we are.”
She leaned across the table to show Spock the collection of images. Spock scrolled through the images slowly.
“…'I’m Sexy and I Snow It’?”
Coffee sprayed from Nurse Chapel’s mouth as she tried in vain to stop herself from giggling uncontrollably.
When she had recovered, she explained to Spock that whilst some Christmas jumpers were decorated with seasonal puns and wordplay, most others had Christmassy images, or more, let’s say conservative, text emblazoned on them.
“This has been most illuminating, thank you.” Spock said.
“Don’t mention it. Is there anything else you’d like to know about?”
“I do not wish to monopolize your time…”
“Oh it’s no problem, honestly.” Christine gave Spock a gracious smile which belied, despite her best efforts, the deep-rooted affection she held for the Enterprise’s dashingly stoic First Officer. “I’m happy to help.”
“I am interested to learn more about the types of activities most commonly undertaken at Christmas parties.”
Christine nodded contemplatively.
“Well… Again, there aren’t really any set activities, as such… Honestly, when I attend parties, I mostly just mingle. I don’t get much time during work to actually talk with many people, except Leonard. Christmas parties are a nice opportunity to catch up, and to introduce yourself to anyone you haven’t yet had chance to. And to just have a good old chat.”
“What topics would one 'chat’ about?”
“Oh you know, anything really. Nothing too sombre or serious, unless the conversation naturally falls that way, I suppose. What you’ve been doing in your downtime, what your hobbies and interests are, that kind of thing. Finding common ground, I guess.”
Spock nodded slowly.
“Christmas parties are mostly comprised of people wearing novelty christmas jumpers, discussing their more frivolous interests?”
Christine laughed again.
“Basically. Against the background of free food, alcohol, and singing christmas songs, it pretty much is simply people in christmas jumpers chatting.”
Spock’s ears pricked up metaphorically.
“Could you elaborate on 'Christmas songs’? I am aware of the various Terran traditions of seasonal music, but I am not acquainted with any specific examples of Christmas songs. Are these to be sung at Christmas parties?”
Christine’s expression changed to one of open sympathy and surprise.
“Why, Mister Spock, did your mother not sing or play any Christmas music to you when you were growing up?”
Spock shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He did not like discussing his mother. Or his childhood. Or… well, anything about himself, really. All it ever seemed to do was elicit negative responses in others, and uncomfortably persistent emotions in him. He preferred to just… not.
But before he had time to formulate an adequate response, Christine apologised.
“I’m sorry, you don’t have to answer that, Mister Spock. I shouldn’t have asked.”
Whether he was moved by her consideration, or had deemed it illogical to show reticence over merely stating facts, even Spock himself couldn’t answer definitively. Either way, he found himself saying,
“My mother is of Jewish heritage. Christmas was not a large part of her own personal or familial culture. As Christmas is neither part of any Vulcan tradition, she did not feel the need to pass that aspect of Earth culture on to me.”
Christine’s face softened. Her heart melted just a little bit at this voluntary offering of personal information by the usually guarded Mister Spock.
Realising she had been gazing with heart-eyes a little too long, Chapel cleared her throat and continued.
“So! Christmas songs. Really they aren’t a phenomenon you can describe. They have to be experienced.”
She grinned conspiratorially.
“How about I send you a holoplaylist, and you can have a listen yourself? My tastes tend to be more towards the old fashioned side, but the 20th century really was the golden age of Christmas music. And nothing can help you truly get a feel for Christmas like listening to good old fashioned christmas songs!”
“A useful avenue of research, and one I expect to be most informative. Thank you.”
“Oh, any time, really.” She collected her now empty coffee cup and stood to leave. “I suppose I’d better be going…”
“Can we expect to see you at the Christmas party tomorrow, then?”
Spock did sigh, this time.
He could still hear her laughing even after the automatic doors had swished shut behind her.
Oh, yes, have I mentioned
Seriously, if you are a fan of…. Well, Best Friends Being All In Love, then WATCH STARSKY AND HUTCH! It’s…. Like, they are so loved up, you will double take and be like “excuse me? This aired in the 1970s? In the 1970s????” Honestly, just imagine the most fan-fiction-shippiest-shit you can, then double it, and you are getting close to Starsky and Hutch.
It’s beautful. I love it.
I LOVE MY BAY CITY BOYS!!!!!!!
Peter Serafinowicz and Michael Sheen both have really charming voices, so I thought I’d combine their individual scenes in Eden together to see how they sound together :)
I LOVE THIS AAAAH
Also they are weirdly suited to each other.
But I’m a shameless Peter-Serafinowicz’s-Crowley stan.
Crowley drummed his fingers on the arm of his sofa and glared.
‘You think you’reso clever , don’t you?’ he hissed. ‘You call that a threat ?’
The only reply he received was silence.
‘I won’t hesitate. I can assure you. I am quite capable of taking you out if necessary. Ask your friends. Ask them what happened to their friends. I am the Demon Crowley. Don’t underestimate me. Are you listening? Do you hear me?’
In the absolute silence, you could hear a needle drop…
Crowley snarled and leapt for his phone, dialling furiously.
‘Aziraphale? It’s me.’
Oh, hello Crowley, my dear. To what do I owe the–’
‘I need help,’ the demon cut in.
‘Oh? With what? ’
Crowley shot a menacing look towards the perpetrator brazenly standing over the scene of the crime in the corner of his living room.
‘My Christmas tree keeps shedding its pine needles.’
‘…Excuse me? ’
‘My Christmas tree!’ the demon yipped irritably. ‘I thought I’d, you know, I haven’t ever had one before and– It’s dropping bloody needles everywhere. I’ve tried threatening it, I’ve tried pleading with it, I tried spraying it with hairspray, I even gave it some beer , but the damned thing is still turning my living room floor into a damned pincushion. One went in my foot just now. It broke the skin, angel…’
No sound came from the telephone’s speaker, other than a faintly muffled noise which sounded irritatingly like stifled laughter.
The angel cleared his throat. ‘Ah. I, uh, I see your predicament, my dear.’
‘Well?’ Crowley snapped.
‘Well what? ’
‘You’ve had Christmas trees before, haven’t you? What do you do to keep them in line?’
‘Nothing. I’ve never really had a problem with shedding, not before January, anyway. And then it’s usually a good reminder that I really ought to take the thing down .’
‘You’ve never had this problem?’
‘Well, not personally…’
Crowley made a strangled sound.
‘But I’ve heard that it is a very common problem. Lots of people experience this, every now and again, even experienced horticulturalists. Nothing to be ashamed of, my dear.’
‘You’ve never had a problem with– ngk.’
‘Well, yes, but–’
‘Is it me? Am I somehow lacking? Am I not intimidating enough? Am I not… scary ?’
Aziraphale tutted sympathetically. ‘My dear boy, of course you are. You are extremely scary. Absolutely intimidating, when you want to be.’
‘Don’t patronise me, Aziraphale.’ Crowley put his hand over his eyes. ‘I’ve lost my touch. I’m too out of practice. Ever since that blasted Banana Plant died on me I’ve… I’ve lost my mojo, Aziraphale…’ He glanced at the plants dotted all around his flat and lowered his voice. ‘And they know, angel. I know they do…’
‘ The plants! My plants! The Christmas tree! They are conspiring , angel…’
‘Crowley, I really think that you are over-reacting– ’
‘I’m not. You don’t know plants like I do, angel. You don’t know how they think …’
‘ ’m not entirely certain that plants have the capacity to– ’
‘I’ve figured it out! I know what I have to do, now. Thanks for your help, Aziraphale. Ciao!’
Crowley hung up the phone.
And Crowley stood up, wearing a serpentine grin.
And Crowley was suddenly holding a saw .
Crowley showed up at the Bookshop the next day, bearing gifts. Aziraphale accepted them with a cheery grin.
‘ Do you want me to wait until Christmas?’ the impatient angel asked, ‘or can I open them now?
Crowley shrugged. ‘Go ahead.’
‘Oh!’ Aziraphale chirped happily as he opened the parcel. ‘A set of pinewood coasters, how lovely! And potpourri? Is that pine scented, too?’
‘Mmhm,’ Crowley nodded. ‘Made them myself… ’
‘No. No, I don’t like it,’ Crowley said, casting a critical eye over the exterior of the bookshop.
‘What do you mean you don’t like it? That’s rather rude of you, Crowley.’
‘What, you’d rather I’d lie?’
‘Well– No, obviously not. But– Well what’s wrong with them? I thought the lights were rather fetching. Festive.’
‘It’s not the lights themselves, it’s the colour… Look, how about this?’ Crowley waved a hand and the Christmas lights garlanding the front of Aziraphale’s bookshop flickered from silver to gold.
‘See, now that’s much better,’ the demon proclaimed.
‘Gold? Really, my dear?’
‘What’s wrong with gold? Gold’s good. Warmer, for one thing. And more Christmassy. Isn’t gold one of the gifts the kings or wizards or star-hunters or whatever they were gave to the baby Jesus in the Nativity story? Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh? Which, come to mention it, is frankly ridiculous. Who gives those to a baby? The gold, yeah, all right, I can sort of see that, investment for the future, pay for his university tuition or something, but Frankincense and Myrrh? Who the hell gives a baby Frankincense and Myrrh?’
‘I believe they are symbolic. Kingship, mortality, and godhood, or something like that…’ Aziraphale murmured distractedly, still frowning at the newly gilded lights. ‘You know, I really think I prefer the silver, Crowley. Suits the colour scheme of the shop more, don’t you think?’
Aziraphale nodded his head at the lights and they changed back to silver.
Crowley made an irritated noise with his tongue and shook his head. ‘No, angel, that’s– Silver’s too cold. Too, too, too– Silver’s like the stars, right? Distant, and, I mean, yeah, I love the stars as much as the next person, but they aren’t exactly welcoming, are they? And anyway, the shop definitely has a gold-leaning aesthetic, not silver.’
He transformed the lights back to gold.
‘Crowely, it’s my shop.’
‘Well, but– Well I have to look at it, don’t I? You barely go outside, I’m the one who has to see it every time I come over.’
‘You leave the shop even less than I do, recently, Crowley. And anyway, I can see them through the window from my desk.’
‘Look, who is the fashionable one out of the two of us? Hm? Who knows aesthetics? I took an interior design course, angel.’
‘Why are you being so insistent?’
Silver lights. Gold lights. Silver lights.
‘Why are you being so stubborn?’
Gold lights. Silver lights. Gold–
The lights sparked dramatically and made an interesting fizzing sound in protest of being so disabused by the arguing occult and/or ethereal entities.
Aziraphale and Crowley stopped their bickering, and stared up at the shop.
‘Oh. Oh, well that actually looks pretty good,’ Crowley said.
‘Hmm,’ the angel replied. ‘Silver and gold, alternating. Yes, that really is rather pleasant, isn’t it?’
‘See, my dear boy,’ Aziraphale said smugly, as though this had been his idea rather than a mistake of over-miracling, ‘teamwork always pays off.’
‘I’m not sure that was teamwork, angel…’
‘Well, in any case, that’s that sorted. Silver and gold lights it is. Now. Cup of cocoa?’
‘Wouldn’t say no,’ Crowley grinned.
‘And afterwards you can help me decide which to place on the roof: the illuminated Father Christmas model or the neon Nativity Scene.’
Freezing on the spot for just a second before narrowing his eyes, the demon replied, ‘…You’re kidding?’
Aziraphale grinned mischievously, holding the door for his demon. ‘Of course, dear boy.’
‘Oh, thank G– someone.’ Crowley laughed, relieved. ‘I can’t believe you actually had me there, for a second.’
‘Oh, ye of little faith,’ Aziraphale chastised. ‘Surely you know me better than that by now, my dear?’
‘Well, it did make me wonder, I have to say.’
Aziraphale headed towards the kitchenette in the backroom whilst Crowley flopped down on the sofa.
‘Because obviously I’ll be going with the Nativity scene,’ the angel added over his shoulder with a wicked smirk.
‘No, wait, what?! Angel…!’
maybe i should move to scotland
A Timeline of Women’s Fashion from 1784-1970 (source: https://kottke.org/17/07/a-timeline-of-womens-fashion-from-1784-1970)
I was tagged, vicariously, by @beauty-grace-outer-space THANKS!
Name: WOLFIE, BITCHES
I tag everyone who sees this. Even if you don’t want to do it, if you see it, you have to do it. I am placing you under a geas. Now, you might say, well, Wolfie, you really have no real way of enforcing that. But to that I would reply, Nuh-uh. You don’t know me. You don’t know my powers. I’m like, a quarter-vulcan angel werewolf psychic ghost-befriender. You have no idea what I am capable of. I can make a coin like, totally disappear right in front of your eyes. I can do ouija boards. One time I ate an onion like an apple. Don’t underestimate me.
“Come on, come on, come on come ON!”
Crowley stormed through the bookshop like a whirlwind.
It had been a year and five months since the Apocalypse-That-Wasn’t, and the streets of London were once again filled with chaos and panic.
“We need to get out of here!” Crowley barked, gesticulating wildly and urgently trying to usher the stragglers towards the door.
Aziraphale twisted his indulgent pout into an equally indulgent smile.
“My dear, there is no need to rush, we have plenty of time…”
Well, one particular bookshop on one particular London street was in chaos, anyway.
“Plenty of time?!” Crowley scoffed, managing to fit about ten syllables into the noise. “It is,” he said, looking at his ridiculously expensive watch, “eleven-thirty-five already. Do you know what time we are supposed to be down there to get the keys? One o’clock. Do you know how long it takes to drive to Chichester? An hour and fifty minutes . And that’s if the traffic isn’t bad…”
“Crowley, it’s a Tuesday morning, why on earth would the traffic be bad? And it’s fine , I can call Ms Rowe on your portable telephone and notify her if we are going to be late. It won’t be a problem. She said she would be around all day.”
Crowley groaned dramatically, putting his whole body into it. “ Uuuuughhh we wouldn’t have to call her if we could Just. Leave. On. Time!”
Aziraphale wandered off towards the stairs leading up to the flat above, shaking his head and paying no heed to Crowley’s complaining.
“Literally might as well be talking to the wall. Get more sense from the wall. Get better conversation from the wall… You’ll be the one complaining when I have to drive fast to get there on time!”
He ran his hand through his hair and sighed, looking around the room for anything he could do to speed up proceedings.
He caught sight of a mop of black hair peeking out over the top of the sofa.
“ Oi!” Crowley snapped, marching over to the settee with purpose. “You!”
Warlock looked up from his Nintendo game with a grin.
“Hey, Nanny!” he said with the easy breeziness he’d learned from Hell’s coolest Demon. “What’s up?”
“What’s up? What’s up?! I’ll give you ‘what’s up ’… Where’s your rucksack? Hm? Is it in the car? Or is it open with its contents strewn over the floor?”
“I wanted to play Nintendogs,” Warlock replied with a shrug, as if that were a completely acceptable explanation.
“Oh for God’s- for Satans- For fu-… Aziraphale!”
Aziraphale’s head poked around the corner.
“Tell him to put his stuff in the car.”
“Warlock, my lad, would you be so kind as to put your things into the Bentley before he has an aneurism?”
Warlock grinned. “Sure.”
“Oh, you’ll listen to him, ” Crowley grumbled.
“Well he asked nicely,” Warlock said with a cheeky smirk as he bounced up off of the sofa and began stuffing his things back into his bag.
Crowley poked his tongue into the inside of his cheek as he tried not to laugh. Little bastard.
“Nanny, tell me a story.”
“Tell you a- What do you think is happening here? Why does everyone in this bloody bookshop seem to assume we have all the time in the world? Did we get given an extra hour in the day that I haven’t been told about? We need to leave. ”
“I bet I’ll pack faster if you tell me a story.”
“Oh, will you now?”
“Yeah, ‘coz if I’m just left to my own devices, I might get bored, and then I might get distracted or something. Who knows?”
Crowley glared at the kid, torn between being infuriated and impressed. He’d taught him well.
“Okay. Fine. Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Warlock who wouldn’t put his bags in the car fast enough, and then a giant tiger leapt through the window and ate him. The end. Now pack .”
“That was not a good story, Nanny. For starters, there are no tigers in London, ‘cept in the Zoo, and that tiger didn’t look up to leaping at anyone, it looked like all it wanted to do was sleep an’ wait for the keepers to throw him a McDonalds.”
“Well this tiger isn’t from the zoo, he’s from… Wherever tigers are from. Where are tigers from? Africa? Or is that lions? Do lions and tigers mix? I know there are Ligers, so one would assume…” Crowley trailed off, shaking his head. “Doesn’t matter. This tiger is a hungry, angry, energetic tiger who’s favourite food is twelve year olds who haven’t put their bags in the Bentley!”
Warlock thought about this.
“If his favourite food is kids what haven’t put their bags in your Bentley, then there’s loads a food for him everywhere . I bet there’re thousandsa kids just ‘round here whose bags aren’t in your Bentley. Therefore it’s statistically unlikely that outta alla those children the tiger would end up eating me .”
For about the millionth time, Crowley found himself resenting the fact that the child had such a partiality to mathematic thinking.
“Yeah he would,” Crowley retorted, “‘because I called him up and invited him round here specifically. In fact, he’ll be arriving in, oh, about ten minutes? So you’d better get packing so we can head off before he arrives. Don’t want to have to explain to your dad why I let his son get eaten by a tiger. That’d be a very awkward conversation.”
Crowley extended his thumb and little finger and held them up to his ear.
‘Oh, hello Mr Dowling, how are you today? Yes, everything is fine, absolutely tickety-boo. Eeeeeexcept that Warlock got eaten by a tiger. Yes, such a tragedy. Gave the tiger terrible indigestion. Merry Christmas, by the way!’”
“Dunno why you are laughing, matey-boy. S’a serious matter, tigers, and- ” Crowley froze, holding a finger in the air. “Shhhh…” he hissed with a sense of urgency.
Warlock looked up at him wide-eyed. “What?”
“I thought I heard-” Crowley gasped, clasping a hand to his throat. “Oh no. Oh no . Oh, no, no, no, no no… ”
“I think…. Is it? Could it be…? It is! The tiger’s here! Run!”
Rushing forward, Crowley scooped Warlock up in his arms. Turning him half-upside down he began swinging the kid around erratically.
“Ahhhh the tiger’s got him! Help! Help! Warlock’s being eaten by a tiger! He’s shaking him like a ragdoll, oh the humanity!”
“Get off me, you’re crazy!” Warlock said through peals of laughter.
“Argh, no, the tiger doesn’t understand English! We’ll never save him now, he’s a goner! What a tragedy! So young to be tiger-food!”
“Nice to see the packing is coming along well,” Aziraphale said from behind them.
Crowley abruptly stopped the tiger attack and unceremoniously dumped Warlock onto the sofa in a heap.
He pointed his finger at the boy sternly.
“And don’t do it again,” he said. “I hope you’ve learned your lesson, young man.”
Warlock just kept giggling.
“Ah, angel,” Crowley said, turning to face Aziraphale, face carefully aligned into a picture of clueless innocence, “didn’t see you there. Everything ready to go?”
Aziraphale folded his arms and smiled.
“What?” Crowley said.
“Nothing,” Aziraphale answered, his smile broadening, making his eyes crinkle at the edges and making Crowley’s heart skip about a bit. “I’ve got everything out by the door. We just have to put it in the Bentley and we’ll be good to go.”
Crowley grinned. “Glad to hear it. Might actually make it down there on time at this rate… The kid’s stuff is nearly sorted, too-”
He glanced over at the pile of clothes and miscellania scattered on the floor around Warlock’s rucksack and pulled a bit of a face,
“…Doesn’t look like it is, but it’s pretty much there.” Crowley lowered his voice. “He hasn’t got much with him though. Somehow I think Dear Mummy and Daddy had more important things to deal with this week to be inconvenienced with making sure their son had a properly packed suitcase.”
Aziraphale frowned, darting a glance at the little boy sitting on the sofa and tapping away at his phone. “Hmmm…” He looked back to Crowley with a concerned expression. “We will be able to purchase anything he needs, though, if necessary?”
“Yeah, I’m sure we will, angel, don’t worry about it. Kid’ll be fine. It’ll be fine. We’ll be fine. It’ll be good.”
“It is going to be rather nice, isn’t it?” Aziraphale chirped happily, concerns immediately alleviated by the demon’s assertions. “Christmas on the South Downs, just the three of us. Quite the proper little family holiday . All rather Emmerdale Farm ,” he beamed. “Bit human , I know, but still. Rather fun, don’t you think? Festive!”
Crowley bit his tongue.
He told himself that it did not sound fun. He told himself that it would not be rather nice. He didn’t like Emmerdale Farm . He didn’t like festive. He didn’t like fun. This trip was an inconvenience. An imposition. It certainly wasn’t the kind of thing Very Cool Occult Entities liked the sound of. It wasn’t cool to want proper little family holidays. Probably wasn’t cool to want nothing more than a proper little family, full stop , come to think of it. Very Cool Occult Entities wanted things like fast cars, and private jets, and to be surrounded by beautiful, empty people all the time, and to have a Name List of Successful Temptations longer than Santa’s Christmas List .
No. Very Cool Occult Entities definitely did not secretly quite like the sound of proper little family holiday in the South Downs with their sort-of-but-not-really kid and their sort-of-but-not-really husband .
Crowley never had been very cool.
Reluctantly dragging his gaze away from his sort-of-but-not-really Husband, Crowley turned his attention back to his dishevelled little sort-of-but-really-not-really kid , still sitting in a heap on the couch.
“Oi! Tiger food! Come on. Let’s get this stuff in the car some time before Christmas comes and goes. We’ve already told Santa to leave your presents at the South Downs, so get a move on.’
“Santa’s not real ,” Warlock said, nonetheless jumping up and stuffing his things back into his rucksack with alacrity.
“Oh, is he not? Who did I bribe to get you that VR Headset, then?”
“ Crowley! Shh!”
Crowley grinned and hauled Warlock’s bag over his shoulder.
“Anyone who isn’t in the Bentley within the next thirty second is getting left behind. Got it?”
They had a proper little sort-of-but-not-really family Christmas waiting for them, after all.
Good Omens Miniseries Ask:
1. Favourite Character?
Hastur and Ligur. They are an item, this counts.
2. Least Favourite Character?
Hat me for this, but: Crowley. I love book!crowley to bits, more than book!hastur even, but tv!crowley can bother off. He is the antithesis of everything that made book!crowley awesome and the story work in the first place.
16. Favourite Change from Book to Show?
The chameleon and Ligur as a whole. I said this in an answer before, but Ligur was pretty bland in the book. Now he’s amazing <3
17. Least Favourite Change from Book to Show?
Putting it into the present day and his bizarre ‘romance’ plot and all the new stuff this brought that make no sense and pretty much negates the plot.
36. A scene from the book that didn’t make the cut and is dearly missed.
The TvPreacher scene, because we need that scene now more than ever, and the ‘did you ever visit gomorrah bit’. the latter is just such a wonderful insight into Crowley’s character and Heaven and Hell. The show’s change to it (switching dialogue between crowley and az and having the bit replaced by crowley snarking that the Antichrist happens to everyone etc) just doesn’t hold a candle to it.
38. Favourite Headcanon?
answered before (Hastur’s malaproper) but another fav, kinda related, it the whole ‘Hastur’s autistic’ bit.
39. Least Favourite Headcanon?
Crowley being Raphael. the justifications are threadbare and often based on misinformation, and for a while people acted as if it was clearly mean as canon and got nasty about it. Also every headcanon that makes Hastur or Gabriel too dumb too live.
I think i answered the last two already (fav quote is the ‘up to no good’ exchange, heaven vs hell: hell)
Top 5 Characters?
This is a Show!Omens ask game, right? That… makes it tricky….
And so, because I’m a maverick, and because Comparisons Are Fun, I’m going to list my top 5 book characters and then my top 5 show characters…
4: Sergeant Shadwell
5: Sister Mary Loquaicious
2: Madame Tracy
3: Sergeant Shadwell
5: Gabriel (I hate him. But he is an amazing portrayal of an abusive narcissist, and because of that I truly value the depiction of the relationship he has with Aziraphale in the show.)
Top 5 Scenes?
Again, I’m gonna do Book and then Show. BECAUSE I CAN!
1: Bird In A Spaceship drunk bookshop conversation
2: Heigh-Ho Said Anthony Crowley
3: Adam’s speech on the Airbase
4: Aziraphale dithering about telling Crowley vs telling Heaven
5: Aziraphale and Crowley’s chatting back, in tandem, to Beelzebub and the Metatron
(I can’t really choose, though. There are a hundred other scenes that could quite as easily have gone in here. So many good scenes in the book!)
1: Drunk bookshop
2: Buck up, Hamlet!
3: Shadwell and Tracy at Dinner
4: Bus Stop Scene
5: Adam’s last scene (No apple that wasn’t worth the trouble)
Book or Show?
A scene that made you cry.
It’s actually the same in the book and the show, sort of. The same motivation, anyway. And that’s Adam, simultaneously being this all-powerful demi-god, and also being an eleven year old boy.
So in the show, that’s when the Them leave him when he’s going all black-eyed-storm-bringer on them, and his voice breaks when he tells them to bring back his dog. That make me cry!
And in the book:
The dark undercurrent was always ready to flow back, its reedy whisper saying yes, that was it, that was what it was all about, you have to follow the Plan because you were part of it–
It had been a long day. He was tired. Saving the world took it out of an eleven-year old body.
But I cry at Home Alone. I get too upset about children Going Through Things. PROTECT!!! PROTECT!!! :(
A character you would have liked to see less of.
In the show? Crowley. lol.
In the book? … Honestly, I’m not that big a fan of the Four Horsemen. I don’t think we could really have seen less of them, as they are important, lmao, but I just don’t particularly care for them that much.
Least Favourite Design (Character)?
You know, I’m really not that much of a fan of Aziraphale’s character design in the show. It’s a bit too… impractical? Like, I don’t know. I know Aziraphale is described as “fussy”, but the waistcoat and pocketwatch, the whole… it’s… That’s just not comfortable. I always saw Aziraphale as a sweater-vests and cardigans kind of an angel. And sneakers. Aziraphale in my mind absolutely wears sneakers.
I do appreciate that they gave him curly blonde hair though, for personal reasons. Hahaha. Curly blonde Aziraphale is A+++. I also like his little reading glasses. Very cute.
But I’m not really that bothered about character design. They can look however, as long as they are true to the character, in terms of personality and motivations. If there is integrity to character, you can dress them all in identical black onesies, for all I care.
- Favourite Character?
- Least Favourite Character?
- Top 5 Characters?
- Bottom 5 Characters?
- Favourite Scene?
- Least Favourite Scene?
- Top 5 Scenes?
- Bottom 5 Scenes?
- Favourite Ship?
- Least Favourite Ship?
- Character you expected to hate/be indifferent about you ended up liking?
- Character you expected to love you ended up hating/being indifferent about?
- Scene you expected to hate/be indifferent about you ended up liking?
- Scene you expected to love you ended up hating/being indifferent about?
- Book or Show?
- Favourite Change from Book to Show?
- Least Favourite Change from Book to Show?
- Most surprising thing on the show?
- Most confusing thing on the show?
- Did you read the script book?
- Anything from the show you wished would have been in the book?
- Anything you missed from the book?
- A scene that made you laugh.
- A scene that made you cry.
- A scene that made you angry.
- A scene that made you anxious.
- A scene that made you roll your eyes.
- A scene you would like to see.
- A scene you could do without.
- A scene you would have liked to see more of.
- A scene you would have liked to see less of.
- A character you would have liked to see more of.
- A character you would have liked to see less of.
- A character from the book who didn’t make the cut and is dearly missed.
- A character from the book who didn’t make the cut and you’re glad about that.
- A scene from the book that didn’t make the cut and is dearly missed.
- A scene from the book that didn’t make the cut and you’re glad about that.
- Favourite Headcanon?
- Least Favourite Headcanon?
- Favourite FanWork?
- Least Favourite FanWork?
- Favourite Design (Character)?
- Least Favourite Design (Character)?
- Favourite Design (Set)?
- Least Favourite Design (Set)?
- Favourite Quote?
- Least Favourite Quote?
- Best Hair?
- Worst Hair?
- Best Angel?
- Worst Angel?
- Best Demon?
- Worst Demon?
- Best Human?
- Worst Human (on the show)?
- Best Looks?
- Worst Looks?
- Heaven or Hell?
Asks are great.
Send me one if you want, but I may just choose some to scream into the void, without the permission of an ask. Y’all know how I roll.
It has become a bit of a joke in the Good Omens universe now, that Crowley’s “evil” actions always backfire and end up inconveniencing himself. And whilst I also think that’s super funny, I also feel like, on a more serious note, it demonstrates, or perhaps can be used to demonstrate, the huge way in which the Show did a massive disservice both to the character of Crowley and to what I would argue is one of (if not the) moral centre of the book: that of personal responsibility.
“Oh, he did his best to make their short lives miserable, because that was his job […]”
“If anyone had asked him why he’d been spending centuries tinkering in the affairs of mankind, he’d have said, ‘oh, in order to bring about Armageddon, and the triumph of Hell.’ But it was one thing to work to bring it about, and quite another for it to actually happen.
“Why are you always so cynical?”
“I said. Because it’s my job.”
I think it can be argued that, whilst Crowley asks a lot of questions and thinks about things a great deal, he’s also got a fair bit of denial going on. He clearly isn’t fully on board with Hell’s goals or their modus operandi, but he does his job. nevertheless. And, I mean, to some extent fair enough. When your boss is literally Satan himself, there is a lot to be said for just doing your job. And, I think it can be argued (and has been argued by many clever people in this excellent fandom) that the way in which Crowley “does his job” is, I suppose you might say more tame than the way demons such as Hastur or Ligur might have done it - at least based upon the few direct examples of Crowley’s “work” that we are given in canon.
Crowley is awfully moral, for a demon. He cares about choice, and he cares about people. We don’t ever see him do anything truly evil. And The Arrangement can be seen as another way in which Crowley is avoiding doing his job - of course in part this is doubtless so that he can just skive off more, but I can’t help but wonder if, perhaps, it’s also so that he can avoid doing work, because he doesn’t particularly like his job.
But nonetheless, he does work. He does his job, even though, I don’t think, he necessarily always agrees with it. If nothing else, wanting to stop Armageddon - the thing that his job was primarily aiming at - demonstrates this. And yet, he does still do his job. He doesn’t not do his job. He might do it half-assedly at times, or in subversive and creative ways, or in ways that still rely on people having choice… But he still does it. He simply does it in ways that allow him to justify his actions to himself. And when all else fails, he can say “I’m just doing my job”. It depersonalises it, it makes it not his responsibility.
The Flaming M25. Crowley did that. It was very clever, and he was very proud of himself for doing it. Even when it is immediately inconveniencing him, he still acknowledges how clever it had been, and how well he’d done it. Changing the motorway into the Dreaded Sigil Odegra was, in the grand scheme of things, not really very evil. In creating it, Crowley wasn’t actively tempting anyone, he wasn’t directly causing people to damn themselves to hell, it wasn’t craftsmanship of the Hastur and Ligur mould. It wasn’t that bad.
But it still had a very big consequence. A consequence that couldn’t be justified away; consquences don’t tend to care about justifications. The reality of the Flaming 25 existed because of Crowley’s actions, and irrespective of the reasonings behind it. And that cost him the Bentley. It cost him the intense effort of driving a flaming car from London to Oxford, and all of the incumbent physical and psychological costs that came with doing that.
When faced with this unequivocal direct consequence of his action, Crowley faces the truth: He did that. It is his fault. It is his responsibility. Just as Armageddon itself is his responsibility. He isn’t solely responsible for the oncoming Apocalypse, and one could strongly argue that it isn’t his fault, not entirely, but it is, nonetheless, his responsibility for the role that he played in it.
As well as the early quote about acting to bring about Armageddon being quite a different thing from it actually happening, Aziraphale also points out a similar theme/idea at the airbase, just before Satan drops by:
“I mean, when you think about it, we’ve got them into enough trouble as it is. You and me. Over the years. What with one thing and another.”
“We were only doing our jobs,” muttered Crowley.
“Yes. So what? Lots of people in history have only done their jobs, and look at the trouble they caused.”
I think it can be argued (and I will certainly argue haha) that Crowley, even over Adam, is the moral heart of Good Omens - the book. Adam is an idealised moral centre, he is what we should aim to be. Crowley is a much more accurate reflection of what most people actually are. He’s not bad, but he does bad things, because it’s his job, or because he’s afraid, or because it’s just easier not to think about those things too much, sometimes. He stays as in line with his own morality as much as it doesn’t become too inconvenient (Aziraphale, too). He sacrifices the distant future for the immediate present - better to have a future with a possible Armageddon than a present with a seriously pissed off Satan. Especially when a present with a seriously pissed off Satan could very well result in no future, Armageddon or not, at least for him personally.
Crowley faces the same internal struggles that we all do. He’s not perfect. He can be selfish, and lazy, and he turns a blind eye to the consequences of his actions.
Until suddenly he can’t do that anymore.
Because suddenly Armageddon is here, and Aziraphale is gone, and the M25 is on fire, and suddenly all of his birds have come home to roost. Until suddenly Crowley has to show his hand.
And this is where I have serious qualms about The Show.
Because in the book, when he is forced to deal with the consequences of his actions, Crowley chooses to take responsibility. He chooses to look reality in the eye, and to face up to the role he has played. He doesn’t look away, he doesn’t run away, even when he is terrified, and alone, and he has nearly nothing left to lose. And when you have nearly nothing left to lose, you hang onto that bloody hard. In the book he is no less afraid, and despairing, and confused, and lost than in the show. He wants to disappear off and get drunk and wait for it all to end.
But he doesn’t.
When he is scared, when he is alone, when he feels hopeless and helpless and guilty, he chooses to do something about it. He doesn’t even know what he is going to do, but he knows that he has to try. And not only because he’s, basically, fucked if he doesn’t, because by this point he’ll probably be fucked if he does, too. He doesn’t give up because this is his fault. It’s his responsibility. And he chooses to be brave, and selfless, and noble. He chooses to face his fears and run towards the fire that he helped to start. And in doing so, Crowley acts as a model for all of us. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you have done, what you are facing, or how scared you are - you still have a choice. And you can choose to be brave. You can choose to do the right thing. You can choose to take responsibility. Just like Crowley.
In the show, however, he does just go and get drunk in a bar. He loses Aziraphale, and so, because he has lost the only thing that he personally cares about, he gives up. He either does not acknowledge his responsibility in all of this, or worse, he just doesn’t care. Let the world burn, the message seems to be. Let the world burn, because it holds nothing for me, anymore. Never mind that I helped to cause it. Never mind that billions of innocent lives will be lost. It is hopeless, and I will not take responsibility. I will not try.
That isn’t only a disservice to the character of Crowley, but, I’d argue, a disservice to the entire message of the book. Or, at least, a bloody big one, anyway.
At the airbase, Anathema tries to convince Adam to use his powers for good. To “fix” the world. To do it the easy way. And even Adam battles with this, momentarily, when he wavers and considers starting the world over from scratch and doing it properly, this time. All of which is a huge avoidance of the individual responsibilities that every individual human being has. And, perhaps even more importantly, the lessons that we all have to learn from facing up to those responsibilities. The lessons we learn from looking the consequences of our actions squarely in the face. If you kill a whale, you’ve got a dead whale.
And this isn’t a lesson that you learn once, and then have banked. It’s not a decision you make once. It’s a decision that has to be made time, and time, and time again, and it doesn’t get easier. This is highlighted by Crowley at the airbase when Satan shows up.
Crowley fumbled madly with the gear shift.
“That’s not Beelzebub,” he shouted, above the noise of the wind. That’s him. His Father. This isn’t Armageddon, it’s personal. Start, you bloody thing!”
In the jeep, Crowley was cursing. Aziraphale laid a hand on his shoulder.
“There are humans here,” he said.
“Yes,” said Crowley. “And me.”
“I mean we shouldn’t let this happen to them.”
“Well, what–” Crowley began, and stopped.
This short little piece of text demonstrates that accepting responsibility and choosing to do the right thing is a constant battle. It’s not something you just do. It is not that once you decide that taking responsibility is what you should do, it is all easy from then on. It is a constant temptation; the desire to give into fear and panic and selfishness and denial and the avoidance of responsibility will always be there, and you always have to fight it.
In that moment, Crowley needs Aziraphale to point out his, their, responsibility to him. Because it isn’t an easy choice. It is hard. It is scary. And sometimes we need someone else to face it with us, to help us step outside of ourselves. Sometimes we need a hand to hold. We need someone we trust to remind us that we have a responsibility to ourselves not to run away.
We lose this too, in the show. In the show, instead of staying because it is the right thing to do, Crowley stays because if he doesn’t, he will lose the thing that he personally wants. It takes “it’s our fault that these humans are here, and this whole situation is partly our fault, we need to do the right thing and try to fix it”, and replaces it with “if you don’t do something I will never talk to you again”. “If you don’t do the right thing, you won’t get what you want.”
It takes a story about selflessness and responsibility and nobility and the genuine and intense difficulty that doing the right thing presents and the central importance of doing it anyway, and makes it into a story about selfishness and only being brave in order to get what you want.
And that is such a loss.
…Anyway. That’s quite enough of that, I think.
… For now…
In Turin in December.
What on earth are you doing in Turin, dear boy? No, on second thoughts, don’t tell me, I don’t want to know.
Isn’t it awfully cold there this time of year?
I am in Catania for the winter (much more clement!!), but I suppose I could make the trip North, provided I had sufficient motivation.
Duke of Savoy’s chef is excellent.
P.S. What are you doing with the Duke of Savoy?
D. of S. imported new ingredient: “Sugar”. Like honey, but not. It’s v. sweet, you’ll love it. The chef does some indecent things with it involving chestnuts.
P.S. As I said; excellent chef.
I may be convinced…
Staying near Rivoli Castle.
If you’re coming via Sicily, bring qubbayta??
My dear, you are getting quite the sweet tooth… I will see what I can find.
Is it not terribly cold in Piedmont, though? Why don’t you come to me in Sicily, instead? The climate is much more amenable here, and I know how you feel the cold.
Can’t. Working. Sorry.
Oh, that is a shame. I’ve found the most charming little taverna which sells the best red wine I have had since that Falernian in Baiae. All of that volcanic soil, I’d imagine. Grows the most exceptional grapes. They serve the most wonderfully rustic food, too. Simple, yet wanting for nothing. Exactly the sort you prefer.
The villa I’m staying at is only a short walk from the beach. Lovely and quiet, practically have the place to myself.
But I’m sure Turin will be lovely too, if you really can’t get away…
Sounds perfect… But I really can’t get away.
I understand. You are dedicated to your work. It’s admirable.
Although, if I am in Turin I will be obligated to thwart whatever schemes you are working on, if only to justify my presence there in my reports.
Just a heads up, my dear.
Should I read that curt missive to mean I can expect you in Sicily before Christmas? Let me know.
Yours, as always,
P.S. Please do try to bring some of those sugared chestnuts with you. They sound scrumptious.
You are unbelievably irritating, you do know that?
P.S. I will.
this was a long undertaking but i’m beyond excited to post what i believe is the most comprehensive daemon-finding quiz to date, featuring 34 categories of animals and 279 total possible outcomes! from insects to owls to seals to wild cats, you’re sure to find a unique result that fits your personality.
tag or comment what your daemon would be! :) mine’s a cocker spaniel!
EDIT: the quiz has two parts, the category which this post links to (34 options), and then the specific animal within that category (5-15 options) which you’re linked to once you get your result!
Wow ahahah this really is super good!?
My brother and sister insist that my Daemon would be a Crow, and I’m inclined to agree. On this, I got a Raven! Which, after reading about the (very few) differences between Ravens and Crows… Actually? Yeah. Raven.
Your daemon would take the form of a perching bird! Those who have perching bird daemons are intelligent and like finding patterns, though unlike other bird daemons they are more chatty and social. They enjoy putting their inner thoughts into words and wearing their heart on their sleeves.
Your daemon would take the form of a raven! You are an inventive and mischievous individual who doesn’t give up easily. More so than others with perching bird daemons, those with ravens are authentic and unconventional, unafraid of social consequence. They are well-read individuals with deep insight.
It isn’t often that I find myself able to prove Spock in the wrong, but by dinner-time that night, I was in a position to do so, and I did it without delay.
“Touching on that matter we were touching on, Spock”, I said, coming in from the shower with a towel wrapped around my waist, and tackling him as he fiddled distractedly with the chess board, “I should be glad if you would give me your careful attention for a moment. I warn you that what I am about to say is going to make you look pretty illogical.”
“Yes, Spock. Pretty damned illogical it’s going to make you look. It may lead you to be rather more careful in the future about broadcasting these estimates of yours of people’s characters. This morning, if I remember rightly, you stated that Dridie Vikjan was volatile, frivolous, and lacking in seriousness. Am I correct?”
“Quite correct, Captain.”
“Then what I have to tell you may cause you to alter that opinion. I went for a walk with Dridie this afternoon, and as we walked, I told her all about that snake Hugh Digby, and my great desire to enact justice upon him. She hung upon my words, Spock, and was full of sympathetic indignation on my behalf.”
“Dripping with it. And that’s not all. Almost before I had finished, she was suggesting the ripest, most wonderful, brainiest scheme for exacting righteous vengeance on that lowlife.”
“Most gratifying, Captain.”
“Gratifying is the word. It appears that at the girls’ school where Dridie was educated in her youth on Trill, Spock, it used to become necessary from time to time for the right-thinking element of the community to slip it to the more dodgy lot. Do you know what they did, Spock?”
“They took a long stick and - now follow me closely here, Spock - they tied a close-range scanner to the end of it. Then, in the dead of night, they would sneak into the party of the second part’s bedroom, and would locate and remote scan her personal PADD for keywords containing evidence of all of her lowest schemes, and cheats, and baser tendencies. At the Academy, one would occasionally heave a jug of cold water over another bloke’s head during his sleep, and in his confused state question him about his accused misdeeds - not that I was ever involved in such activities, of course, but you do hear about them. But the chaps at the Academy never thought of obtaining the same result in this particularly neat and scientific manner.
Well, Spock, this is the scheme which Dridie suggested I should work on Digby! And yet, this is the woman you call frivolous and lacking in seriousness? Any person who can think up a plan like that is my idea of a helpmeet. I shall be glad, Spock, if by bedtime tonight you can help me procure a stout stick, and assist me in hacking a close-range scanner to search for the keywords ‘Finals’, ‘Ultra-violet’, ‘citric acid’, ‘flesh-coloured tape’, ‘magnifying lens’, and ‘Engineering 201’. If it isn’t too much trouble.”
“Captain, I -”
I raised my hand.
“Spock,” I said, “Not another word. Stick, one, and scanner, close range, programmed, good, without fail, in this room, at eleven-thirty tonight.”
“As you say, Captain.”
“And have you any idea where Digby’s room is?”
“I could make enquiries, sir.”
“Do so, Spock.”
Somehow it was only a matter of minutes before he was back with the necessary informash. I’m not sure how Spock is always able to give me what I need in such a speedy fashion, but there you have it. Some things are best not to question.
“Lieutenant Digby is established in the Tiger Room, Captain.”
“The second door on the floor above this, Captain.”
“Good work, Spock. Let justice commence!”
The day was bright, if chilly, and Aziraphale found himself in an excellent mood as he made his way through the bustling Oxford crowds.
Aziraphale adored Oxford. He had in fact considered moving back there on more than one occasion, but he could never quite bring himself to leave his bookshop. And as suited as he was to Oxford, he had become rather accustomed to Soho, and indeed Soho to him, over the two centuries he had lived there. His resolve did always waver, though, when visiting this beautiful city.
Crowley would never want to live anywhere near Oxford, though. The demon was an in-the-blood Cantabrigian, as vehemently convinced of the superiority of Cambridge as Aziraphale was of Oxford (they had both undergone a brief and virulently competitive spell in the early sixteenth century which saw them, among other things, enrolling at the rival universities in a retrospectively ridiculous attempt to one-up one another. Aziraphale had earned the modern-equivalent of three PhDs in as many years. Crowley had gotten four. That still rankled,despite the fact that Aziraphale knew that several acts of minor bribery had been involved).
Anyway, with that being the case, Aziraphale had had to eventually admit to himself that he would rather live near to Crowley than near to the Bodleian. And really, as wonderful as that library was, it still paled in comparison to his own collection, with a few notable exceptions. Plus, libraries required one to share access to books. In his little Soho bookshop the angel could hoard his treasures like a mild-mannered dragon, no grubby, grabbing human hands involved.
Nonetheless, the angel did greatly enjoy his visits to the city of dreaming spires . Particularly at Christmas. Few places did Christmases in quite the way that Oxford did. Something about the architecture and the cobbled streets and the glorious weight of English intellectual history lent themselves to this time of year like no other. Every street and every college looked as though they could have leapt straight off of a Christmas card. The only way that the overall aesthetic could be improved was if it would snow, but the weather was proving to be decidedly stubborn on that front.
Aziraphale’s day, thus far, had been spent entirely contentedly. In fact, there was only one thing that Aziraphale could think of that would improve his present mood.
‘Hey! Hey! Aziraphale! Over here!’
Speak of the devil…
Aziraphale turned to see none other than Anthony J. Crowley jogging awkwardly across the street towards him.
‘Crowley? Didn’t think I’d find you here, dear chap. What brings you to Oxford?’
‘Oh, you know,’ Crowley replied dismissively. ‘This and that. How are you? Haven’t seen you since–’
‘Summer of 1952, I believe.’
‘Gosh, has it really been four years?’
‘Four and a half, now,’ Aziraphale said as they started walking. ‘Are you still in that flat in Mayfair?’
‘Officially, yeah. Job’s been a bit all over the place lately, though. That’s why I haven’t been around so much. How’ve you been? I see you’ve finally given in to modern clothing,’ Crowley said, nodding at Aziraphale’s outfit. It had a concerning amount of tartan.
‘And your obsession with it hasn’t altered, I see,’ Aziraphale said, running a critical eye up and down the length of the demon’s small frame. ‘Is that a motorbike jacket? Please don’t tell me you ride a motorbike now, Crowley…’
‘And forsake the Bentley? Blasphemy, angel. Nah, this is fashion , Aziraphale. Don’t know if you’ve heard of it… This,’ Crowley gestured to his outfit, ‘is all the rage in America. Heard of James Dean?’’
‘Didn’t he die, recently?’
‘Is that where you’ve been, then? America?’ the angel interrupted.
‘Mm,’ Crowley said dismally. ‘A bit.’
‘Are you back in England for the foreseeable future, now? Or will you be dashing off again any minute?’
‘Not sure,’ Crowley muttered gloomily. ‘Downstairs has been a bit more… demanding of my reports, ever since I, erm, well–’
‘Ever since you took a century-long nap , you mean?’
‘Yeah. Ever since that… Well, anyway, the point is that if I don’t send regular reports back now, they are going to start thinking I’ve gotten myself stuck somewhere again.’
‘That is what happens, my dear boy, when you tell your superiors that you allowed The Enemy to inadvertently trap you in a basement for eighty years…’
‘What? What was I supposed to say, that I had been asleep ? That would have gone down brilliantly .’
‘You didn’t have to drag me into it…’ the angel muttered.
‘Well, whatever, too late now, isn’t it? The point is that if I don’t get my reports in regularly I’ll have Hastur and Ligur creeping up behind me asking if I need any help getting out of troublesome angel traps…’
Aziraphale shot him a twisted smile and flashed his eyes wickedly. ‘Mm, wouldn’t want that. Quite the social dampener.’
Crowley cleared his throat. ‘But it’s all right. I think I’ve got it figured out. I’m staggering them. My reports, I mean. Pacing myself. Hell has an abysmal grasp of human timescales, and a pretty shaky concept of geography, so I can probably eke out this last trip’s work for the next decade or so. Intersperse my reports from America and Russia or wherever , with current reports from where I actually am. Make it look like I’m being globally proactive whilst actually staying at home in London. Or wherever.’
‘That’s rather clever of you.’
‘I thought so.’
‘Is that why you are in Oxford? Here to cause some trouble, are you?’
‘Nah– Well, not that I’ll pass up the opportunity if it presents itself. Naturally.’
‘But no, I was, uh, I was here looking for you, actually,’ Crowley said as nonchalantly as he could.
‘For me?’ Aziraphale chirped. ‘Whatever for? Not that it isn’t perfectly wonderful to see you, dear boy. In fact I was just this moment thinking about you when up you popped. Quite serendipitous!’
‘Oh? Were you?’ Crowley blinked. ‘Um. But uh, yeah, no. No particular reason, really. Just… Well, you know how it is. Didn’t have anything much going on, and I hadn’t seen you in a while and–’
‘And you missed me ,’ the angel teased.
‘All right, all right,’ Crowley snapped without much bite. ‘Don’t go on about it…’
Aziraphale hooked his arm through Crowley’s. ‘Well, it is a marvellous surprise. I was actually on my way to a choral performance, if you’d care to join me?’
Crowley thought about it. ‘Where is it?’
‘Isn’t that the one you studied at? Back in the… I want to say fifteenth century?’
‘Sixteenth,’ Aziraphale corrected. ‘And yes, it is my old alma mater , although it was called Gloucester College back then. I did spend some time at Corpus Christi too, lovely little college…’ The angel’s face took on a dreamy aspect for a second before he blinked himself back to the present. ‘Anyway, the grounds of Worcester College are lovely. Beautiful gardens. Have you been?’
Crowley shook his head.
‘The concert doesn’t begin for an hour or so, if you fancied a stroll?’
‘Yes, I mean. Sounds good.’
Crowley and Aziraphale passed a very pleasant hour ambling around the grounds of the college, chatting, and laughing, and enjoying each other’s company as they always did.
Coming to the end of their long circuit, Aziraphale led Crowley back through the orchard and down the path back to the main quad with ten minutes to spare before the beginning of the carol concert.
As they approached the concert location, however, Crowley stopped in his tracks.
‘– although it does look simply magical in the snow, it really is such a shame that we aren’t due any this year… Crowley? Is there a problem?’
‘Uh… Yeah…’ the demon said querulously.
Crowley pressed his lips together and raised his eyebrows, inclining his head towards the chapel door that Aziraphale was considerately holding open. Or inconsiderately, as the case was.
Aziraphale looked blankly back and forth between the demon and the door a few times before the penny finally dropped.
‘Oh, gosh. Oh. Oh, I am so sorry, my dear boy. I didn’t think. I completely forgot. Oh. Oh dear…’ he babbled anxiously.
‘Ah… Don’t worry about it,’ Crowley said awkwardly. ‘It’s not– You go ahead. You’ve been looking forward to it. And I’m, you know, not– Choirs aren’t really my scene , you know. I’ll just…’ He bobbed his head and shrugged. ‘Go on. I’ll be fine. I’ve got places I can go. Forget it, angel. I’ll… See you around.’
‘Absolutely not!’ Aziraphale snapped. ‘It’s Christmas eve , Crowley.’
‘So– Well–’ The angel pursed his lips and drummed his fingers on the door frame. Then his eyes lit up in a way that both intrigued and worried Crowley in equal measure.
‘Wait here,’ the angel said, before disappearing into the college church.
Crowley spread his hands and shook his head. ‘Right. I’ll just… Right. Wait here then, I suppose. Yay…’
He scowled and leaned against the wall, hoping to look cool and nonchalant like Lee van Cleef or something, but forgetting that the wall bounded the chapel. With a yelp Crowley glared at the stonework before skulking over to sit gloomily on the steps in front of the quad. Some humans gave him a strange look, so he smiled charmingly and said, ‘Spider. Bit me on the shoulder. Bloody things, eh?’ and they smiled nervously and huddled off together somewhere else.
Crowley was just about to light a cigarette when a loud and urgent bell started ringing from within the chapel, followed by what every bad journalist would have termed a lively commotion. Crowley sprung to his feet just in time to move out of the way of a bustle of mildly panicked people all hurrying down the steps and onto the path surrounding the main quad.
‘CALM PLEASE,’ a burly, red-faced man hollered. ‘PLEASE CALMLY MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE QUAAAAD! But not on the grass,’ he added. ‘It’s expensive.’
Crowley craned his neck, looking for Aziraphale. He spotted him just as smoke began to billow out from the open doors of the chapel.
‘What did you do ?’ the demon hissed, circling around behind the angel and trying to keep the levels of awed admiration in his voice to a minimum.
‘What? Me?’ Aziraphale was a perfect model of innocence. ‘I’m sure I have no idea what you are talking about, Crowley.’
‘What’s going on? What’s with the bell and the panicking people and the smoke? Angel?’
Aziraphale spread his hands. ‘Nothing to worry about. Simply a… small fire. That’s all.’
Crowley raised his eyebrows and laughed. ‘A fire? What the– A fire ? Why?’
‘Candle fell over, I believe. Onto a pile of old hymn books. Dry paper and candles, very bad mix. Very unsafe. They really ought to have known better. Real fire hazard. Accident just waiting to happen.’
Crowley shook his head. ‘But why–’
He was cut off by a priest flowing out of the chapel and announcing to the flustered crowd that the small fire was now out, and that they were just going to allow the smoke to clear and then everyone could return back inside and the concert could commence as planned, if slightly later than scheduled.
Then the heavy doors slammed shut behind him.
With the keys, so it transpired, still inside.
Aziraphale stared up at the sky with his hands behind his back, as though he weren’t paying any attention to proceedings whatsoever.
Crowley was paying a great deal of attention .
The choir were whining about how their performance had been ruined. The concert-goers were complaining loudly and enquiring of the much-beleaguered priest whether they would be able to get their ticket money back (‘ But the tickets were purchased on a donation basis!’ the priest tried to explain, ‘We’ve already used the money to buy Christmas gifts for the orphans!’ ).
And suddenly Aziraphale had materialised in the midst of the throng.
‘I don’t see why the concert must be cancelled,’ he said, voice like silk. Crowley could suddenly see exactly how the angel was always so successful when covering temptations for him… ‘A fire didn’t dissuade Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego now, did it? And Christ himself didn’t give up in the face of adversity, did he? Hm?’’
‘You’re crazy!’ a voice replied from the crowd. ‘What’re we supposed to do? Have the concert in the bally gardens ?’
‘I don’t see why not,’ Aziraphale said in a calm and deliciously persuasive voice. ‘Worcester College is in possession of arguably the best gardens in Oxford, and the weather is dry, if a little chilly. What better way to celebrate Yuletide than carols under the open stars?’’
A susurrus of approval rippled through the mass of people.
And suddenly, as though it had been the plan all along, the choir and the priest and the musicians and the crowd were marching single file through the small passageway - the same passageway which inspired Lewis Carroll’s rabbit hole to Wonderland, which Crowley felt was oddly appropriate - and around to the sprawling gardens bounding the Worcester College lake.
Aziraphale and Crowley followed up the rear.
‘Angel, I have to say, I’m impressed,’ Crowley whispered as they passed through the small gated tunnel. ‘Your ability to always get precisely what you want is astounding.’
‘I have no idea what you mean,’ Aziraphale replied.
‘Yeah. Sure you don’t.’
‘I merely… advised. It would have been a shame for all of the choir’s preparations to go to waste.’
‘Mmm,’ Crowley hummed. ‘And the fire? The doors slamming themselves shut like that and locking everyone outside? Good thing you were around to help them all out, I suppose?’
‘One does what one can.’
‘Bit of bad luck though, wasn’t it?’
‘Yes, awfully bad luck.’
‘Good luck for me, though.’
‘Oh, well. I–’
‘And for you , too. Assuming, of course, that you were in fact quite keen for me to watch the concert with you?’
‘Well, I mean–’
‘Almost as though you’ve missed me , angel,’ Crowley taunted.
Aziraphale glanced at the demon, giving him a flickering up-and-down once-over. ‘I suppose I might have missed you. A tiny amount.’
‘Mm,’ Crowley nodded. ‘Just a tiny amount.’
‘Miniscule. Barely even enough to be worth mentioning.’
‘Enough to set fire to a church for me, though?’
Aziraphale tried to sigh but it came out more like a laugh. ‘Do be quiet. Listen, the choir is beginning.’
‘Yeah, all right, angel,’ Crowley grinned.
As the choir sang My Song Is Love Unknown , snow began to fall.
Aziraphale gasped, staring entranced up at the sky before turning his starry-eyed gaze onto the demon. Crowley shook his head at the millennia-old angel who was still awed and entranced by frozen water falling from the sky.
‘I didn’t think it was supposed to snow until January,’ Aziraphale whispered, leaning in close.
‘Well, weather can be a bit unpredictable, can’t it?’ Crowley replied, keeping his eyes firmly on the choir.
Aziraphale gazed down at the demon, white snowflakes settling on his dark hair, and he smiled.
‘Merry Christmas, my dear,’ he murmured, taking Crowley’s arm.
‘Yeah, Merry Christmas, angel.’
I am driving everyone who knows me slowly insane this year with my sudden and relentless obsession with Christmas Carols
I SAW THREE SHIPS COME SAILING IN ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE MOOOOOORNIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGGGGGG
Crowley was humming, again. He quite hummed a lot. And sang a lot too, at least when he thought he was alone or when the music playing was sufficiently loud that he didn’t feel self conscious. He didn’t seem to feel self conscious about humming, though. Most of the time he didn’t even seem to realise he was doing it. Especially when he was dozing half-awake on the sofa, as he was now.
Aziraphale smiled to himself.
‘Silent night ,’ the angel said, looking up from his work. ‘I knew the man who wrote that, you know.’
‘Silent Night . You were humming it.’
‘Wass I? Ssorry.’ Crowley’s voice was a touch sleep-slurred, his esses hissing ever so slightly. Ever so endearingly.
Aziraphale laughed. ‘No, I wasn’t asking you to stop. I was just saying that I knew the man who wrote it. Lovely chap. You would have liked him.’
All Aziraphale could see of Crowley was the top of his head, mop of black hair mussed up and poking out from behind the sofa as he used the arm rest as a pillow.
‘Mm. Joseph Mohr, his name was,’ Aziraphale continued, smiling the smile of fond reminiscence. ‘A priest. Rather unorthodox fellow in many respects. I got on awfully well with him, for the short time I knew him. He reminded me of you ever so much.’
The demon’s face peeked out from above the back of the sofa.
‘Me? A priest ? Lay off…’
Aziraphale chuckled again. ‘It’s a compliment to you both, my dear.’
‘The guy who wrote Silent Night?’ Crowley said, folding his arms over the top cushion and resting his chin on his hands.
‘Yes,’ Aziraphale replied, nodding and leaning back in his chair. ‘As a poem, first, but later his friend Franz set it to music for him. Extraordinarily interesting young men. Both impoverished, socially undesirable in all the ways that should have mattered, but very bright. Very hard working. And very good hearted. Joseph studied philosophy, before joining the church. Lived his beliefs, that one.’
‘Huh,’ Crowley said.
‘Such a shame that he never lived to see Silent Night ’s success. I don’t know that he ever even thought much of it. He was always mostly focused on charity work, helping children and the elderly, and suchlike. Lovely man. Franz too. Their friendship was one of those which does the heart good to see. Both of them really were paragons of humanity, and I don’t say that lightly. And in spite of all the hardships they faced, too. Quite the rebels against station and circumstance, those boys.’
Crowley grinned. ‘You’ve always been soft for the rebels, angel. You want to watch that.’
‘Do you know,’ the angel continued, shifting in his seat and leaning towards the demon, ‘he had it arranged for guitar ? When they first performed it, Christmas Eve, oh, 1817, 1818, something like that, it was just Joseph on his guitar, and the small choir. Of course that seems quite commonplace now, but back then it was quite scandalous! Guitars were for bars and taverns, drunkards and commoners, not the church . Completely socially rebellious, and done so pure-heartedly, it really was marvellous. Joseph did love his guitar.’
‘Good instrument, the guitar.’
‘Do you still play?’
‘Eh, not well…’ Crowley admitted.
Aziraphale knew he was selling himself short - he’d listened to Crowley play on the few handful of occasions he had been in high enough spirits to not feel self-conscious, whether alcohol-induced or simply as a result of the demon’s mercurial mood swings. He wasn’t a technical virtuoso by any means, but he played with such sincerity that Aziraphale, quite the connoisseur of music if he were to say so himself, found himself wondering whether he’d ever heard anything quite so wonderful.
‘You should get it out,’ the angel suggested. ‘Play Silent Night properly, as it was originally intended. I think I have a copy of the original manuscript for it laying around here somewhere, you know.’
Crowley considered this.
‘Yeah, maybe, actually.’
This surprised the angel, who had expected Crowley to vehemently brush the idea off. ‘Oh, really? Would you?’
‘Yeah, why not?’ Crowley answered casually.
Aziraphale beamed. ‘ Wonderful ! I’ll see if I can find that manuscript,’ he said, standing to his feet and casting a searching eye over the Bookshop. Then his face lit up even more, which was unlikely due to how much he had already been smiling. When the mood struck him, the angel seemed to have an almost inexorable supply of brightness and cheer. It always left Crowley a little bit dazzled. ‘Maybe I can clear off the old piano in the back… We could play together! Put together something of an arrangement, or–’
‘All right, steady on….’
‘I’m a bit rusty, but I’m sure it will come back to me,’ Aziraphale said enthusiastically, flexing his fingers.
‘Yeah, no, angel, I didn’t mean—‘
Aziraphale looked over at him with a tentatively expectant gaze, eyes big and smile hopeful.
What else could Crowley do?
‘Oh… All right then ,’ he sighed. ‘I’ll go and fetch my guitar…’
Biffing around in the ornamental garden, kicking rocks and and sniffing at some interestingly odorous silver roses, a less aggravating distraction soon popped up it’s candy-apple head and sauntered over to me swathed in furs, knee high boots, and a rather tight dress.
“Jim, darling, what are you doing mooning about out here like a little lost dog? Aren’t you cold?”
“Ah, Dridie! Hallo. Yes, it is a bit brisk, isn’t it?” I said. “Why is that? I thought Risa was kept perpetually temperate?”
“Usually, yes, but mother put together a petition for snow on Earth-Date 25/12 - she is so enamoured with Terran history, and after hearing that old song White Christmas her mind was rather made up.”
“Oh?” I said.
“Yes,” she said. “Pretty neat though, don’t you think? Really gives a person a shot of the Yuletide Spirit, as old-timey Earthers would say.”
“Oh. Yes, I suppose it does.”
Conversation sort of petered out a bit from there, and we walked arm in arm in companionable silence for a short while, self interjecting occasionally with some pithy observations in res the local flora, as Dridie smiled benevolently.
“Honey, stop talking about the flowers for a sec, it is a terrible bore. Why don’t you tell me why you are out here all by yourself, instead of off with your Vulcan friend? I passed him in the hallway earlier and he looked awful peeved. What did you do, you sweet little fathead?”
Unexpected segue, I must admit. But, if there is one thing Jim Kirk is an expert at, it’s rolling with any and all punches thrown his way, with a finesse almost swanlike in its grace.
“Oh, I, well, I mean, that is to say, what?”
“What’s going on with you and your Vulcan?”
“Oh, that? Oh, nothing, nothing.”
She gazed down at me with large and pleading eyes, and I felt my resolve weaken. I’ve never yet been able to say no to a pair of imploring coffee-coloured peepers asking something of me. After a brief internal struggle, I acquiesced and gave the girl what she wanted.
“Well, you see, we had a bit of a change of plans on short-ish notice, and Spock’s taken it hard. The iron has entered into his soul.”
“We were originally going to take joint shore leave on Bajor for two weeks, you see. But when I received your mother’s kind invitation, I felt I couldn’t turn it down, and so I may have suggested we scrap the Bajor binge and sort of hop on over here for leave, instead.” I said, kicking apathetically at an ornamental frog. “But it seems that Spock was rather more looking forward to seeing the monasteries and museums than I had credited, and now I can’t get him to see reason and rally round in the holiday spirit.”
“Jimmy dear, you are a clueless little dolt, aren’t you? Hugh said you were as dense as you were pretty, but Hugh talks a great deal of rot and I’ve learned to turn a deaf ear to half of everything he says. And yet here you are, loitering around my back garden by yourself, when you could be off on a gorgeous Bajoran retreat with your devoted, enigmatic Vulcan. Whatever were you thinking of, my dearest little rabbit?”
I was about to open my mouth to protest, when I had the unpleasant experience of stumbling across a snake.
Brutal, I know. Sometimes a man is unable to restrain his baser, more aggressive tendencies, and exchanges like this ensue. Loathsome thing, but there you have it.
“Hugh, love,” Dridie said, softening the tense atmosphere brought about by our bitter exchange, ”now what are you doing wandering around out here all by yourself? And without a jacket! Why is my garden filled with moody boys who can’t dress for the weather? Is this part of some Christmas tradition I don’t know about? Darling, are you not just freezing?”
“Oh, no, not at all. Some people shrink from a stout breeze, but I rather enjoy the cold. Bracing, I call it.”
“If you can call this cold.” I said. “I once got stranded planetside in temperatures in the sub 30s celsius wearing only my dress uniform. But I guess this weather could be seen as a little chilly by someone used to more comfortable surroundings.”
“I suppose my body temperature is still adapting. You see, I’ve just returned from a 6 month assignment on Vulcan. I was hand-picked by the Federation embassy to be one of the lead Starfleet representatives on a joint Vulcan-Terran project situated in the S’Laaran deserts. You might have read about us, we’ve been featured in all of the most prestigious journals.”
“Oh? Have you had chance to meet High Chancellor T’Pau? Charming woman. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a private event earlier this year. Oh, but she doesn’t often meet with Federation representatives, does she? Only exceptional people, under exceptional circumstances. So perhaps you haven’t had the opportunity.”
“Ah! Yes, I heard about that little escapade of yours, and I have to say –”
“O-kay!” Dridie chirped in, sweetly. “ Fascinating as all of this is, we should probably be heading indoors before the snow really begins to fall, don’t you think, boys? Oh, and Hugh, honey, I believe Emony was looking for you. She’ll be in the lower drawing room, do you think you could dash over and see her for me? You are a dear!”
I was rather pleased with how Dridie had ditched the cursed Digby so efficiently. I felt it to be almost self-evident that she desired a further tete-a-tete with yours truly. As Digby skulked off, she drew herself in closer to the old bod and smiled in that dazzling way she does.
“What was all that?”
“All that swaggering, sabre-rattling coquetry, of course! You absolutely must let me know the history between you two. Hugh’s been so vague and evasive about it. I’m sure you’ll be much more willing to entertain a girl, won’t you sweetie?”
“Oh, when you put it like that, I suppose… But I wouldn’t want to bore you with the details, you know. It’s all rather… Aren’t these flowers beautiful?”
I sighed indulgently and patted her hand.
“If you insist.”
“I wouldn’t want to disappoint a lady.”
“Then get on with it, dear.”
“Right. As you say.” I cleared my throat, hoping she might dash off in the way she sometimes does when some hot idea or other pops into her scarlet lemon, thus relieving me of the uncomfortable duty of spilling the whole damnable story twice within the hour. No such luck.
“In all honesty, Dridie, Hugh’s presence was in fact one of two factors that swung my decision to scratch the Bajor trip and pick up here instead.”
“Good god, I hope you aren’t serious?”
“I absolutely am!”
“No wonder your Vulcan is so put out! I’m surprised he didn’t clock you one, but that’s that famed Vulcan restraint I suppose. I almost feel inclined to smack you on his behalf, you idiotic teddybear.”
“Look here, that’s a bit uncalled for. A man must have the right to enact righteous vengeance when wronged. If a fellow can get away with whatsoever he pleases without anyone else ever making sure his crimes are dragged into the light of day, well, what kind of society would we be propagating then? I ask you!”
“You mean you are here because you are angry at Hugh?”
“Oh, well that changes matters a little.”
“That’s what I thought. Spock didn’t seem to agree. I wish he could be as sympathetic as you, Dridie.”
“I don’t know that you have any right to his sympathy, you clueless brick.” She said, squeezing my arm reassuringly. “So, Spock is mad at you because you cancelled your little getaway, and you cancelled your little getaway so that you could come here, because Hugh is here, and you are mad at Hugh? Have I followed correctly so far?”
“Skipping over a few details here and there, of course, but those are the general circs, yes.”
“Someone needs to teach you how to better handle your men, you cloth-brained baa-lamb.”
“I’m not entirely sure I like your tone, Dridie…”
“Oh hush, hush. Now, you just go right on ahead and tell me all about all of it, and we’ll see if we can’t find some clever way to fix it all back up again, hm?”