Third Time’s the Charm: Chapter Five

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Loren Gu

Holy Water and Hellfire

They sat in the Bentley for a long time. Holding hands. Watching the storm brew in the falling light as the sun went down.

“I wasn’t planning on using it for–as a… suicide pill,” Crowley said quietly.

Aziraphale dragged his eyes away from the majesty of thick stormheads tumbling on the horizon and looked at Crowley with wide, hopeful eyes. The look was tainted with sadness at the mere thought.

“I wasn’t. I’m not, Aziraphale.” Crowley gave him an imploring look. When that failed to erase that sad lilt to his gaze, Crowley took off his glasses and tossed them on the dash.

Aziraphale managed a small smile and squeezed Crowley’s hand. Crowley never used his name–that alone was almost enough to convince him Crowley meant it. Seeing his bare, reptilian eyes cemented the fact. His gaze drifted down to their hands clasped together. Such an innocent gesture. It meant so much to him.

Continue reading “Third Time’s the Charm: Chapter Five”

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Third Time’s the Charm: Chapter Four

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Sam Knight

A Nice, Leisurely Drive

Crowley and the Bentley were inseparable. Despite Aziraphale’s best efforts to suggest literally any activity that would remove the Bentley from the equation, it proved impossible to avoid getting into the demonic death machine once more. If Crowley was going to pick up another hobby, why couldn’t it be as innocuous as his collection of plants? (Aziraphale was blessed unaware of the tactics Crowley used to keep his broad-leafs so broad and his ferns to fern-y. For Crowley, it was just plain self-care; therapeutic.)

With a shuddering sigh, Aziraphale sank into the Bentley’s leather interior. “Now, I remind you, you said a nice, leisurely drive, Crowley.”

“Yeahhh,” Crowley waved his fingers from the steering wheel. “Would I lie to you?”

“Heavens, please,” Aziraphale begged.

Crowley pulled onto the lane and zipped through London at merely ninety.

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Third Time’s the Charm: Chapter Three

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Jaredd Craig

Reckless

“I’m never getting in that car again, Crowley! Mark my words!” Aziraphale tripped out of the Bentley and onto the sidewalk. He turned to glare at Crowley.

The demon leaned over the passenger seat toward the open window. “Says you.” The streetlights glinted off his glasses, glittering nigh the same color as the eyes that hid behind them. “Ciao, angel.”

With a roar, the Bentley careened down the lane.

Aziraphale was still shaking as he unlocked the bookshop and returned to the tranquility of his domain. He closed the door with a sigh and shivered. Dreadful terrifying thing, that Bentley. He couldn’t understand what possessed Crowley to acquire such a thing.

Continue reading “Third Time’s the Charm: Chapter Three”

Third Time’s the Charm: Chapter Two

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Mark Galer

Off to the Races

“Ooh, are we going to see a sort of velocipede race?” Aziraphale asked he followed Crowley up to the ticket master.

Crowley cranked a look at the angel. “Surprised you didn’t call it a dandy horse.” He bypassed the ticket master and walked directly to the entrance, slipping two admission tickets from his sleek suit. Aziraphale almost protested that they should get their tickets properly, but Crowley left him not a moment to say so.

“It’s called a bicycle now, angel, keep up with the times,” he drawled. “And no. This race is a whole different animal,” he said with a grin of questionable morality.

As they stepped into the stadium, Aziraphale saw that the track looked empty through the crowds of people standing around it. Crowley led the way, slinking through the crowd to the railing overlooking the lowered track. The competitors were not people, not a bicycle or a runner in sight, but in fact lean greyhound dogs that looked built for loping on the wind.

“Humans! They come up with the wildest thing to call sport.” Crowley shook his head. “Get a bunch a’ dogs, run very fast around, fast as they can after a rabbit or something, and guess the winner. Sport!”

Continue reading “Third Time’s the Charm: Chapter Two”

Third Time’s the Charm: Chapter One

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Giannis Skarlatos

The First Ride

Though it could hardly be called a time of peace in Great Britain, Crowley’s return to London brought with it a stint of enlightenment and beauty. Fleeting as it was, a certain angel’s gladness that his friend had returned might have had some influence. Alas, humans in further reaches of Europe were not subject to such pleasantness. A great war, the first World War, as it was called, broke out. It had very little to do with the angel and demon residing in SoHo, other than inspiring said angel to make an impulse purchase of a dozen cases of Chateauneuf-du-Pape in the wake of it, lest his supply be interrupted again.

The year is 1926. Fashion is simpler–fewer of those damned buttons a certain demon so despised–and the airwaves are filled with news and music, broadcast all across the nation. Color movies are played at the cinema, and the owner of A. Z. Fell & Co. has finally relented to allow a telephone in his bookshop.

However, his reluctant embrace of cutting edge technology is not always rewarded…

“Oh, angel!”

Aziraphale heard Crowley howling from the street through the doors of the bookshop. Heavens, he did wish Crowley wouldn’t shout that outside his shop.

“Look. At. What. I. Got!” Crowley threw open the shop door and hung there, grinning.

The few patrons in the shop looked around nervously, smiled polite British smiles at each other and averted their gazes.

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The Second Verse – Chapter Eight

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Will Paterson

143 Years, 8 Months, 12 Days

“How’re the crepes?” Crowley was the one to finally break the silence. The silence had nothing to do with Aziraphale eating and everything to do with the thick slab of tension between them. He really should have refused the offer for lunch, but…

It had been over a hundred years. Well, less than that since he’d seen Aziraphale, but he never let himself be seen. He’d been keeping tabs on the angel–a sort of… guardian demon watching over him. Aziraphale’s belief in humans’ honest intentions always got him into trouble. It was a wonder he hadn’t gotten discorporated hundreds of times over the years.

Aziraphale smiled with pure joy. “Marvelous. Nearly worth getting my head cut off,” he joked. “Are you sure you won’t have any?” He gestured to his plate.

“No. Thanks.”

And back to that awful silence. Aziraphale was afraid to speak, afraid he would say precisely the wrong thing and send Crowley hurrying off. But he had to say something. “It really is so good to see you,” he blurted, instinctively reaching out to touch Crowley’s hand. The demon shifted away and Aziraphale flinched and withdrew his hand, busying himself with his napkin.

“Don’t mention it.” Crowley said, his head turned away. His fingers rested on his lips, pensive. “I mean really–don’t mention it.”

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The Second Verse – Chapter Seven

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Denny Müller

7 February 1793 – The Day Crowley Came Back

A week turned into a month, a month into a season, the seasons into a year, and Aziraphale saw no sign of Crowley. When he walked by his flat as the days were growing crisp and cool, he saw the door had been bricked up, as if it had never been there in the first place. He would sometimes light the candles around the circle in the back of his bookshop, and use it as a focus to try and find Crowley. Not even a whisper.

Aziraphale was lonely. There was no two ways about it. He retained his indomitable spirit, but it felt like a mask on a hollow shell. He had gone years without seeing Crowley, but that was centuries ago. Back when he had been much more strict about keeping their duties separate, before they made their little arrangement to split the work and keep the balance.

As one year turned into several, Aziraphale closed the shop for a time and went traveling. Back to the homeland in Jerusalem. To the exotic Orient. He even went to America–initially to the colonies, but finding their society too brutish for his taste, he wandered out past the frontier and communed with the nomadic natives.

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The Second Verse – Chapter Six

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Jean-Luc Benazet

27 May 1649 – The Day Crowley Left

Aziraphale kicked an empty Chateau du Pont bottle away from him listlessly. There were about three of them around him. He sat on the floor, slumped against the velvet cushion of the lounge, and felt very sorry for himself.

Crowley had his best interests at heart. There was no mistake about that. But why did it have to feel so bad?

He felt guilty. He felt he had used Crowley, manipulated him into something that clearly gnawed at his conscience. Him! An angel!

What a rotten angel he had been.
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The Second Verse – Chapter Five

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Image Credit: Pexels

‘Thursday: Sow the seeds of heresy’

Crowley stood stiffly inside the bookshop by the window. The reading had proved far more long winded than he, or any of the other gaggle of patrons, would have liked. But, being English, they were far too polite to leave before it was over.

A smattering of staggered applause greeted the author as he shut the book he had read from.

“Well! That was very interesting. Thank you, Mr. Wallace, for your time. Yes, now, there are copies of this book available, but unfortunately I have but a limited supply. However, if anyone would be interested, I have several other books with opinions on the subject…” Aziraphale’s utterly British charm worked wonders on the ponderous patrons. This came in handy as he wasn’t actually willing to part with any of his own books. The point was to poke holes in the heretical topic of the night. By showcasing the opposition, he could shine light on the Truth.

Crowley remained posted by the window, a statue of black with stern features. Finally, the crowd thinned and Aziraphale said goodnight to his guest author. There were a few stragglers, but Aziraphale made his way over to Crowley.

“Not a bad turn out, I thought,” he said brightly. His demeanor was markedly more familiar in the presence of his best friend.

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The Second Verse – Chapter Four

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Annie Spratt

A Visit from On High

The bookshop nestled in Soho was blessed by a warm wash of golden light as afternoon turned to evening. The light streamed through the windows and illuminated the ubiquitous army of dust motes barely kept at bay by the proprietor. It was Aziraphale’s favorite time of day, when he would carefully return books to their homes and finally alleviate the mild anxiety he carried from anyone actually touching his books.

Aziraphale hummed a little hymn to himself as he walked the stacks with books lovingly tucked in his arm. He could have put the books back in their proper place with a wave of his hand, but he liked to take his time around the tomes. Each one was like a child to him, and deserved to be held and coddled before being returned to its rightful place.

The bell on the door chimed and Aziraphale leaned toward the end of the stack to call out, “Hello! I’m just about to close up shop.” He tapped a book into place on its shelf and then strode toward the end. “But I’m happy to stay open for a moment…”

Gabriel stood with one hand clasped around the other wrist, dressed to the absolute frilliest of nines, with his traditional tight-lipped smiled. “Hello, Aziraphale.”

Continue reading “The Second Verse – Chapter Four”