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An Amusing Account of Angelic Addiction
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Story Notes:

Written circa 2005.

Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso.” (Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick.)
-Spanish proverb

Spain was an exciting place to live during the late 16th century, especially if you happened to be an active employee of Heaven. There was always something to do, be it attempting to stifle the ongoing madness of the Spanish Inquisition or peaceably protesting the rape of the New World. Assignments and orders from Above had had a certain European Principality on the tips of his wings ever since the 1400’s, so much so that he planted a “For Fale” sign in front of his London home and took up residence in Barcelona for a time.

It was exciting, all right. Perhaps too exciting for Aziraphale’s taste; by 1592 he’d had just about all the excitement he could take and began to entertain ideas of propagating completely insubordinate acts of mass miracles just so he could shut the books on Spain and move back to England where the weather was predictable* and people were insane on a much less conspicuous level. But Heaven certainly wouldn’t approve of thousands of conquistadors suddenly taking up pleasure cruising on their galleons or the Church meekly sending out flowers and cards in an attempt to make amends for getting a trifle carried away with purging the heretics from the country. It’s rather awkward to apologise for accidentally disemboweling someone. (*i.e., Rainy and foggy.)

No, Heaven wouldn’t have any divine acts on a global level. Aziraphale simply had to keep a stiff upper lip and work through it the old-fashioned way*. (*i.e., With his vastly superiour tactics in conversational persuasiveness and/or a blunt, heavy object.)

On the other hand, if you were a demon living in Spain during the late 16th century, you were living la dolce vita. Crowley was having the time of his immortal life, especially with the God awf- God forsak- truly horrible 14th century behind him.

After his unnecessary commendation for the Inquisition, Crowley decided to hop aboard an Atlantic-bound galleon and see if there was any trouble to be had out west over the big puddle (there was) and Aziraphale didn’t hear from him for nearly five years after that. The angel had given up waiting at the harbour every time a ship came in to dock and thought with a morose sense of satisfaction that perhaps the serpent had left behind the Old World for good.

Of course, with Murphy’s Law* present and functioning even at a time when nobody knew what it was, as soon as Aziraphale adopted the notion of a Crowley-free vicinity the wily demon came back to dash both his hopes and his disappointments. In fact, it was by pure coincidence that Aziraphale happened to be down at the pier when he saw the great old girl steer in to port and the face of that smug, grinning bastard waving at him enthusiastically from on deck. (*The law which states that anything that can go wrong or prove you wrong, will inevitably go wrong or prove you wrong the moment you think exactly otherwise.)

Aziraphale could to this day recall the nauseating battle of brilliant jubilation and apathetic disgust that fought for victory of his outward appearance. Neither completely succeeded and so he ended up making an expression of deflated resignation and uttering, “Oh no.”

As Crowley leapt down off the gangplank in his dashing white-feathered capitáno hat and knee-high boots, beaming superiorly with an air akin to one who had been endowed with all the worldly wisdom there was to offer, Aziraphale wasn’t sure if he wanted to offer up a bashful ‘welcome home’ or a swift ‘get back on that ship for another five years’.

Crowley didn’t seem too preoccupied with methods of acknowledging the face he had more or less grown accustomed to for the last five and a half thousand years; he threw an arm about the angel’s shoulder, placed the customary kiss upon his cheek in greeting and said, “Aziraphale, mi amigo! Pine for me much in my absence, did you?”

“Like a swooning señorita,” replied the angel with monotonous sarcasm in an attempt to conceal his genuine feelings of gladness to see his old associate again.

Crowley laughed. “Sorry for keeping you waiting. Surely you didn’t think I would abandon you in a place like this.”

“When there are still so many wiles to be had,” Aziraphale added.

“Indubitably.”

“Pray tell, how was the New World?”

“Now now, one thing at a time, angel,” said Crowley with a weary grin. “I just spent the past three months sailing across an oceanic wasteland and I’m ready to kill for a decent meal. Sailor’s fare is some of the worst stuff in the world, you know. If I were mortal and had no choice but to eat that revolting shit I’d have thrown myself to the sharks. But I digress. Come, I’ll tell you about the rest of it over dinner.”

 

During that particular period in history Crowley had managed to pull a few strings in the upper class nobility and land himself a lavish villa in the wealthy quarter of Barcelona, which, while being pleasantly roomy with a great view of the sea, meant that every now and then he had to pretend to be the estranged and illustrious great-grand-second-nephew of the Marquéz family patriarch, twice removed. The slight discomfort of entertaining dubious relatives was more than worth it to Crowley (or Antonio Juan Quorliaz, as he was known to most), who was quite content with deceiving his way into the lap of luxury.

Aziraphale was actually a little grateful for his partner’s shameless finagling, being that the angel had wound up settling in a cramped apartment above one of the most notoriously disorderly pubs in Barcelona. Visiting Crowley was always a welcomed occasion though Aziraphale would never admit it, not even with his last dying breath (if he had either breath or death about him, which he didn’t).

In any case it was a pleasant change to spend the early evening sitting out undisturbed on the patio of Crowley’s completely conned but quite comfortable home, enjoying the fine Spanish cuisine, the sunset overlooking the sandy beach and the La Rioja wine versus wrestling through a crowd of scurvy, green-toothed, drunken pirates with a club* to get in and out of one’s place of residence. The wine was particularly excellent and both the angel and the demon were beginning to relax as the gradual effects of their most favoured pastime began to make their company more casual, if also a bit giggly and slurred. (*The previously mentioned blunt, heavy object that Aziraphale carried with him almost at all times and had “Wood Vincit Omnia” carved backwards in bas relief upon its business end so that any ornery mortal flesh that came into painful contact with it bore a legible mark for some time afterwards. Aziraphale personally didn’t like the idea of resorting to violence, but sometimes there was no other way to get through a mob of rioting reprobates. He was quite adept in smiting in such a way as to make it more painful for the soul rather than the flesh, and he always apologised afterwards anyway.)

Crowley was at the moment hardly able to control his own laughter while in the midst of retelling a humourous event from his voyage. Aziraphale sat across from him, pink-cheeked, teary-eyed and riddled with chuckles.

“-so then I said to the man,” Crowley gasped*, “I said to him, Señor, that’s not your Santina. That’s an albatross!” (*Human or not, laughter still required air. So does speaking, unfortunately, and it’s very difficult to accomplish these two at the same time.)

Aziraphale squeaked and was consumed with a fit of silent laughter that doubled him over the table. Crowley sat back in his chair and tried not to indulge in his own joke (it didn’t work) and soon he had surrendered himself to the alcohol-induced hilarity that makes even a not-so-funny story the most entertaining thing one has ever heard. It took several minutes for the both of them to calm down long enough to be able to look at each other again without erupting into bouts of hysterical guffaws.

Aziraphale combed a few stray hairs away from his eyes and daintily sipped his wine.

“My goodness,” he said, “it soundsh av is you’d a quite a time over there.”

“Yeah,” Crowley agreed. “Battles, disease, pillaging, slavery, the works. I hadly harta, lardly hadla, hardly had to lift a finger; they were doing it all by themselves. Never been so proud of Mankind before.”

He raised his cup to his lips and took a generous gulp.

“And it’s as hot as Hell over there, too,” he added. “Felt right at home.”

“Why didn’t you stay?” asked Aziraphale.

Crowley shrugged.

“Sames reasons I’m up here ‘stead of Down There,” he said with a nod towards the ground and Hell in general. “The New World hasn’t really been established yet. All dirt and wilderness mostly. ‘S more fun over here. More people, more stuff t’ mess about.”

He paused.

“And I missed you.”

Suddenly the two men appeared just slightly uncomfortable.

“I mean,” Crowley hastily reiterated, “I miss making myself a nuisance for you. Couldn’t very well leave you out here all by yourself. Agreement ‘n all that.”

He traced the rim of his cup with his finger absently. Aziraphale was silent.

“Wouldn’t be right, y’ know,” he continued lethargically. “Seems we ought to stick together.”

“Eh?”

“We’re sort of a team, aren’t we? A functioning unit of… a unit of…”

“What?” pressed the angel.

“Something. Something that functions.”

“Ah.”

“Like a wheel.”

“Wheels don’t function.”

“Yes they do.”

“No they don’t. They just roll. Axels function. Clocks function.”

Crowley made an over-exaggerated expression.

“Well, forgive me. S’not my fault you’ve got a grudge against wheels.”

“I do not have a grudge agrainst wheels.”

“You do so. I can tell. You’re a wheel-hater,” the demon taunted with a mischievous grin. “You hate wheels ‘cause Hell uses wheels to punish the vain and proud. That’s why you never ride in carriages.”

“I don’t ride in carriages ‘cause I never felt the need, unlike you. Any method of travelling without using your own feet, you take. You’re a foot-hater, Crowley. I can see why though, having had a- having been a slithery, legless little serpent getting crushed beneath the heels of the herpephobic, once upon a time.”

“Now hold on just a moment-”

“You fork-tongue foot-hater.”

A sudden silence fell. Their eyes met from across the table. And then they both started laughing again.

“I must say,” Crowley chortled, “of all the names I’ve ever been called, that one has to be the most creative of ‘em all.”

Aziraphale nodded graciously like an actor bowing after a brilliant performance.

Gracias.”

He pointed a finger at Aziraphale.

“But if I’m a forked-tongue foot-hater then you must be a redder-fithen, a feather-ridden wheel-hater.”

“Be still, my beating heart.”

“There.” Crowley nodded definitely. “Now we’re eving. Even.”

“I daresay. Is there any wine left?”

“No.”

“Well, there is now,” said Aziraphale as he poured another cup of La Rioja from the once empty bottle. “Wonderful choice, by the way. Probably one of the best I’ve ever tasted.”

Crowley brightened suddenly.

“That reminds me.”

“Hm?”

“I brought something back for you.”

“For me? From the New World?”

“Well, I was actually going to be a greedy bastard and keep it all for myself, but it’s so good that you simply must try it.”

“Ah. Mind-altering drugs is it, Crowley? You’re too kind.”

“It’s not drugs, you ninny. It’s food.”

“Oh. What is it? What’s it taste like?”

Crowley grinned a grinly grin.

“Like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.”

 

The first words out of Aziraphale’s mouth after he had taken his first sip of the curious, steaming brown beverage Crowley had prepared for him were, “This tastes familiar.”

“Impossible,” the demon retorted. “Nothing like this has ever been distributed outside of civilised culture.”

After the last of La Rioja had been finished and dinner concluded, Aziraphale had followed Crowley into the kitchens where he watched with fascination as his companion had mixed boiling water with a fine brown powder from a small pouch and poured it into a single chalice. The angel, though he felt he could trust Crowley not to attempt to poison and inconveniently discorporate him, just wanted to be certain that he wasn’t going to be made the butt of a practical joke and thus had accepted the blistering hot beverage with a courteous nod while the demon observed.

Obviously Crowley had been expecting a bigger reaction from Aziraphale, who at the moment appeared to be more concerned with the temperature of the liquid rather than its taste. Crowley, however, would have been one of the first to admit that it was something of a challenge to catch an immortal being by surprise*. Though rare, it was a most rewarding experience and still worth a shot just to see the look on the angel’s face, so Crowley had hope- anticipated that this would have been one of those rare occasions. But as Murphy’s Law goes, he was very disappointed in the end. (*A height of surprise comparable to or exceeding that incident some three hundred years ago involving Aziraphale walking in on a familiar man-shaped creature who was dressed in skirt and bodice and attempting to seduce the Archbishop of Canterbury. If angels were capable of sustaining serious heart attacks, Aziraphale would have had five on that day. All at once.)

He muttered discouragingly, “There is no way on this earth that you could have ever had this before.”

“I honestly profess,” insisted Aziraphale patiently, “the taste is quite a bit familiar to me.”

“You’re lying.”

“I most certainly am not.”

“You’re just jealous because I brought back something that is going to revolutionise the entire world with its delectable, mouth-watering-”

“It’s not that tasty. It’s actually quite bitter,” said Aziraphale after another sip. “I don’t see what the fuss is about really. I’ll agree, it’s got an interesting flavour to it with a bit of a strong aftertaste, but I doubt it’s anything that is going… going to change the…”

He set the goblet down and blinked slowly.

Crowley perked.

“Hey. Are you all right?”

“I… I don’t-”

Aziraphale blinked again. Something was wrong with his eyes. No, not his eyes. It was his mind. He couldn’t seem to focus… couldn’t concentrate. Everything became sharply contrasted, black and white, burning and freezing. Tiny needles of light were painlessly tapping all over his insides like Chinese acupuncture, poking holes in his eternal being and bleeding it out into the Grey In-Between.

He was trembling now, shaking even. His mortal body felt suddenly weightless, as if he were floating only an inch above the floor. He reached out to steady himself and found that the only object not sliding in and out of multi-dimensional consciousness was Crowley.

Aziraphale clung to his anchor and felt the words before he heard them: “Y-you’re glowing, angel.”

Indeed, Aziraphale was faintly radiating a golden light like the halo of a distant star. He continued to shudder uncontrollably, the world before his eyes melting into one hue after another, faster and faster until he felt trapped in a whirlwind of countless colours. He tried to speak but tongue would not obey, and the words floating around in his head didn’t seem to make sense in any language, worldly or otherworldly.

Aziraphale tumbled to his knees, it seemed, very very slowly. He knew he had hit the floor hard but he felt nothing, not even Crowley’s strenuous attempts to pull him to his feet. It was as if the angel had become an unmovable mountain of stone, either that or everything around him had lost all weight and mass.

“Cr-Crowley-!” he choked through the storm of his mind, reaching blindly out into the flashing world of colour to grasp the demon’s collar. “What did you give me?”

The maelstrom suddenly bolstered its mighty gales and swallowed Aziraphale in a mass of churning light, but not before he had time to hear the reply:

“They called it xocoatl.”

And then everything went white.

 

What could have been two minutes or two thousand years later the bright nothingness began to fade, and Aziraphale blinked rapidly as he gradually came to.

Crowley was lying beneath him, head turned to the side and wincing as if he were awaiting the final blow. His dark hair was tousled, his shirt looked torn, and his midnight black wings were folded at awkward angles beneath him.

This in itself was already quite a shock, but when Aziraphale’s full consciousness had been restored it was nothing compared to the shock he received when he realised that not only was he pinning Crowley down by the wrists and straddling his hips, but he was pinning Crowley down by the wrists on a bed and straddling his hips. Another moment later and he also realised that he had a large shred of Crowley’s shirt in his teeth.

Turning his head and spitting the fabric away, Aziraphale frantically leaped off of the demon and, with arms and legs flailing about wildly, went crashing backwards to the floor and landing hard (if the squawk and heavy thump were at all indicative). Pearly white pinfeathers followed in his wake.

Crowley’s wide-eyed, worried face came peeking over the edge of the mattress and stared down at the angel as if he were going to jump up and give him a righteous smiting.

“Aziraphale?” he murmured timidly. “Are you… you again?”

Wings askew and limbs akimbo, Aziraphale looked shaken, alarmed and slightly insane.

“Where are we?” he demanded. “What happened? What was I doing to you?”

“We are in my bed chamber,” Crowley said with slow deliberation. “I fled up here after you went ballistic in the kitchen but you came after me. We had, erm, something of a fight. I tried to defend myself but I couldn’t seem to get in a single hit. You overpowered me. I was even forced to use my last resort.”

He ruffled his dark wings to show the extent of his desperation.

“I tried shouting at you to bring you out if it but it was as if you couldn’t hear me. And just now I think you were either about to kill me or engage me in intercourse violent enough to kill me.”

He paused seriously to show that he wasn’t joking.

“I was frightened.”

Though this would have more than qualified Aziraphale for a few hundred year’s worth of much-earned teasing, he didn’t feel quite like laughing it up just yet. In fact, he felt positively drained and slightly nauseated.

He crawled into a sitting position and dragged himself up onto the bed where he sat on its edge. The wings vanished, leaving behind two large holes in the back of his shirt and vest that soon mended themselves. He stared ahead as if entranced and didn’t say a word.

Crowley swung his legs over the side of the bed and followed suit, though he had to manifest a new shirt since there wasn’t much remaining of his old one. Then he and Aziraphale shared a nice, long uncomfortable silence.

Finally, after what felt like eons of palm-sweating unease, Aziraphale finally spoke in a strangely calm and collected voice:

“Crowley, I am going to tell you something direly important that could very well get me into serious trouble if any of my people ever found out.”

“You ought to not tell me then.”

“I have to. You’re my friend and you need to know.”

Crowley said nothing.

Aziraphale drew in a long breath (though with breathing being useless it felt somehow appropriate at this time) and placed his hands on his knees.

Xocoatl, as I have been able to deduce through first-hand experience, is another word for theobroma cacao, or TC as it is known by most angels. It was a heavenly substance created by the Almighty Himself and used during the Great War* for its medicinal and spiritual properties; it supplied the ranks of the armed Host with power and energy enough to endure the assault of the Fallen as they fought to bring down God’s Kingdom. (*The War in Heaven, a.k.a. Satan v. God, Round 1.)

“You see, TC reacts with an angel’s natural instincts to destroy all evil and preserve the sanctity of holiness, thus enhancing these noble desires and compelling an angel to act upon them. In lesser words, TC takes away our passive mildness and replaces it with bold but righteous offence.”

Aziraphale paused.

“Do you understand what I have told you so far?”

Crowley nodded.

“I think so.”

“So now you will understand how certain angels might grow accustomed to experiencing such feelings of euphoric power and continue to partake of TC even after the War had ended, yes?”

Crowley frowned.

“Wait,” he said, “are you saying... you’re mean that the Host got addicted to the stuff?”

“A few,” said Aziraphale uneasily. “A small percentage. Not very many, I’d say. Only the high-ranking seraphim and cherubim remained unchanged but-”

“How many, Aziraphale?”

The angel looked pale.

“Over one-third of us,” he answered solemnly. “The lesser angels, especially those of the Third Sphere who were by far more worldly than the others. They experienced the worst of the withdrawal once the War was over and TC no longer distributed among the fighting ranks.”

He rested his chin in his plump hands despondently.

“It was beginning to have adverse effects on the Host so the Almighty took it away from us. Rumours began to circulate that He had removed it from Heaven entirely and hidden it somewhere down on Earth. A lot of angels Fell in their attempts to find it. Those who did not Fall were placed under special care and supervision, and that was how the United Heavenly Kingdom’s Centre for TC Rehabilitation was founded.”

“Heaven founded a clinic?”

Aziraphale nodded.

“The addiction was that bad?”

“I’m afraid so. The substance was made illegal in Heaven almost since the Beginning, though there are some who claim that TC has in fact been located and is being circulated among the Host. The U.H.K. Society Against TC Abuse works hard to keep these rumours and offending angels (if any) in check. Any member of the Host caught consuming or distributing TC is immediately removed from his office and secretly committed to the rehabilitation clinic.”

“Aziraphale,” Crowley murmured, “I’m so-”

He couldn’t say it, not seriously. He was a demon, after all.

“If I would have known sooner I never would have-”

The angel scoffed.

“Yes, well, it’s a little late for regrets now, wouldn’t you say? Did you also know that there is currently no cure for angels who become addicted? Certainly, they may be taught to suppress their urges but the craving for it shall always remain. Once one has had TC there’s no undoing it.”

Aziraphale cradled his face in his hands.

“I’ve been tainted. I hope you’re happy.”

The denizens of Hell don’t generally experience feelings of guilt, mainly because they never entertain ideas or perform actions capable of making them feel embarrassed or guilty (such as dressing in women’s clothing and making friends with angels).

But Crowley was experiencing guilt. It was a terrible awakening for him and he didn’t like the way it made him feel at all. He didn’t know what to do except for what he’d picked up from humans; gingerly he placed a hand on Aziraphale’s shoulder in a gesture of consolation, but it was shrugged off.

“Please, don’t,” the angel admonished. “I just want to go home now.”

Aziraphale stood groggily to his feet and probably would have fallen to the floor again if Crowley hadn’t jumped off the bed to take him by the arm and steady him. The demon frowned, narrowing his serpentine eyes.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“With every high there comes a low,” Aziraphale muttered. “I wager that’s what I’m experiencing now.”

“You’re not walking home like this.”

“I beg you to watch me walk home like this.”

“You’re not walking home like this.”

“Crowley, you’re not helping this situation at all-”

“Look, it was my fault that you got… messed up, er, tainted, whatever. I mean, look at you, you’re practically falling over. You can’t go out like this, not at night. Listen, at least allow me to walk you home. It’s all I could do after-”

Aziraphale jerked his arm from Crowley’s grasp and turned.

“You’ve already done quite enough for me, Señor,” he said, making his way towards the door with erratic, shuffling steps. “Thank you for the wine, among other things. Buenos noches.”

And then he left.

 

Astonishingly enough, Aziraphale arrived at his home (a.k.a., The Room Above the La Perla de Oro tavern) unscathed. He had his club with him as usual in case things went awry and fortunately he hadn’t been forced to use it (yet). It was one of those pleasant and mild summer nights where it seemed that nothing ill-fated could befall anyone; the stars were out, the breeze was cool, the cobblestone streets were filled with inviting candlelight from shop windows, and one could almost pretend that this country wasn’t the epicentre of so much political and religious turmoil.

That was before he plodded through the back door of the tavern and all of the spirited wenching, boozing, swearing, gambling, music-and-general-merry-making ground to a halt and every squinty, bloodshot eye fixed upon the pristine and relatively harmless-looking person in their midst.

Aziraphale, even in his weary state, offered up his most charming smile and said, “Ah, good evening, all. Don’t mind me, I was just on my way upstairs. Do carry on, and don’t be too quiet or I’ll think something is the matter.”

The La Perla de Oro tavern saw shiploads of newcomers each day, being a harbour pub naturally, but there were a few regulars whom seemed to find it amusing to harass the cherubic, fair-haired little maricon who lived upstairs. Among these regulars were Capitán José and his motley crew of five dog-ugly mates who happened to be the size of the average tool shed. They dwarfed their captain, who more closely resembled an inebriated Pee Wee Herman with long, greasy hair and poor dental hygiene.

And that night it seemed that a little game of Mangle the Angel was exactly what Capitán José & Company needed to get this party started.

“Gentlemen, por favor,” Aziraphale groaned as he was dragged into the fray by his collar and the cry went up that the tavern punching bag was ready to take a mauling.

He had been roughed up by José and his comrades in the past, thus forming a strange sort of relationship where if Aziraphale was a sport about it and played along, the worst he would get out of it were a few scratches and maybe a black eye or a minor laceration. If he put up a fight or didn’t particularly feel like being molested that day then it didn’t go over too well with the Capitán and Crew, and he would end up either beaten within an inch of his mortal life or employing the use of the Holy Club.

Aziraphale had the club with him, and he was not in a good mood.

As the crushing mob of muscle and body odour began to overtake him, Aziraphale closed his eyes and, using the last reserve of his energy, blindly swung the club with all his might in hope that even in his weakened state that he would hit something.

And to his own amazement, he did.

The club caught Capitán José in the mouth and bloody chiclets went sailing through the air as a lot of green teeth clattered across the floor like dice on a craps board. José let out a scream you could hear for three blocks in every direction and retreated, nursing his bleeding mouth. The Crew converged around their leader out of curiosity more than compassion, and Aziraphale shouldered his club and nodded smartly.

“Yes, well, perdóneme for that little scuffle there, gentlemen. He probably needed to have those removed anyway. Now that that’s settled, I retire and bid you all a good-”

¡Vivo los demonios!

The situation had more or less handled itself and was drawing to a close when a raving madman in a white-feathered capitáno hat and knee high boots jumped up from the crowd, grabbed hold of the wooden chandelier, and probably would have described an astonishing entrance had the light fixture been able to bear his weight. As it was, he pulled the chandelier right out of the ceiling, crashed down onto an ale-laden table and broke it in half.

This was exactly the sort of thing that rowdy, intoxicated ruffians needed to incite their homicidal urges. Every man, wench and barkeep who hadn’t already passed out on the floor piled onto the maniac with sadistic glee.

But the glee was short-lived; with physics-defying force the crowd was thrown off of the dark-haired stranger and Señor Antonio Quorliaz sprang up, landing with feline grace on a table, naked rapier in hand, grinning like the cunning, devilish bastard he was.

Aziraphale was beyond shocked-he was furious.

“Crowley, you blockheaded imbecile!” he shouted. “What do you think you are doing?”

The demon took his hat off and bowed slightly to his associate.

“I’m saving you, amigo, that’s what.”

“Did you follow me all the way here?”

“Of course! Surely you didn’t think I would abandon you in a place like this.”

“I had everything under control.”

“But-”

“And now you have gloriously exacerbated everything with your brilliant incompetence! Oh…oh my-”

Aziraphale gave a delirious moan before toppling to the floor with every last bit of his energy -mortal and immortal alike- sapped dry. Crowley crowed triumphantly from atop the table.

“Aha! So you do need me to save you!”

A rough voice sneered from left field, “You better think about saving yourself first, pendejo.”

Someone threw a chair -a chair, dear readers- at Crowley and hit him hard enough to send him flying off of the table and into the teaming crowd. But for all their chairs and levels of intoxication the several dozen mortals stood not a chance against the powers of a genuine demon.

Swords bent backwards and stabbed their bearers; insects came streaming out of every knothole and crevice; the room was engulfed in a hellish, suffocating heat; people who didn’t even know each other were suddenly engaged in a battle to the death. Throats were slit, bodies were trampled and blood drenched the floor. Someone started a fire behind the bar and liquor bottles were thrown into the blaze, creating small explosions.

Like pus oozing from an infected boil, the contents of the tavern poured out into the streets and soon spread to the neighbouring buildings. Crowds began rioting. Torches and sharp farm equipment were raised. Windows were broken as the angry masses stormed through the city, burning and looting and leaving total destruction in their wake.

It would come to be known as the worst riot in the history of Barcelona.

And all it took was one crazy pendejo and a handful of drunken pirates.

 

After the rioting had passed and the fires had been extinguished in the tavern, Crowley pushed aside a few broken tables and made his way to Aziraphale, who was lying on his back and staring complacently at the ceiling.

“Angel? Are you alive?”

“Yes, unfortunately,” came the patient reply. “Sorry to disappoint you.”

“That’s all right. Er, can you move at all?”

“A little. I think I may need some assistance.”

“What with?”

“Everything.”

“Moving?”

“Everything.”

“All right, all right. Antonio Quorliaz at your service, señorita,” Crowley grumbled, crouching down and gathering Aziraphale’s limp body into his arms with a grunt of exertion. “Oof. Milady could stand to put down the fork once in a while. Whither doth she wish to be taken?”

“I really loathe you sometimes, Crowley.”

“I do try my best.”

“I really, truly loathe you.”

“You know, this pessimistic attitude of yours I find is really quite arousing.”

“All right, that does it. Put me down. Now.”

“You live upstairs, correct?”

“I said put me-”

“Nonsense, you couldn’t dream of hauling that fat arse of yours up the stairs by yourself.”

“I beg your pardon-”

“I was only joking, Your Seriousness. Come on then, up we go.”

Crowley ascended the rickety flight of stairs while Aziraphale had no choice but to wrap his arms around the demon’s neck and hope that he didn’t stumble and fall forward on top of him.

“When I regain my energy you had better make sure you’re thousands of miles away from me,” the angel muttered, though only half-heartedly.

“I’m certain it will be a walloping I won’t forget,” said Crowley with an impertinent wink as they arrived at the top of the stairs and a narrow corridor.

“Which door?” he asked.

“Second one on the left.”

“That one?”

“No, no. Other side. My left.”

My right then.”

“Oh, whatever. Just get me there, would you?”

“Certainly, darling,” said Crowley, and deliberately walked to the side so that Aziraphale’s head struck the wall.

“You really want me to lose my temper, don’t you?”

“I think it would be rather interesting, yes. Here now, you can stand on your own, can’t you?”

“Unf, yes, thank you.”

Crowley gingerly set Aziraphale back on his feet where he stood swaying unsteadily for a moment.

“There, I think you’re all right for a time.”

“I believe so.”

“You can, ah… let go of me now. If you want to.”

“Oh. Right, right. Sorry.”

“No bother.”

For the second time that evening Crowley and Aziraphale shared a nice, long uncomfortable silence.

“Er, listen,” Crowley said after a while, “I was thinking. In case you don’t feel like waiting for your energy to come back…”

He produced a familiar leather pouch from the front pocket of his vest and dangled it enticingly before the angel’s face.

“You can have the rest of this and give me a good smiting now while the bitterness is still fresh in your memory.”

Amber eyes seemed to grow warm as a ghost of a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.

Aziraphale’s left eyebrow went for a hike up his forehead.

“I daresay-”

He neatly swiped the pouch from Crowley’s hand.

“-I shall have to take you up on that offer.”

Crowley chuckled lowly and ran his tongue along his bottom lip.

A moment later the door closed behind them.

 

London, England - Late 90s

Roughly four hundred or so years after the Spanish cultivation of a tasty new treat from the New World had spread over Europe and the rest of the planet, xocoatl, or chocolate as it is now known, has enjoyed a well-established fandom among mortals and immortals alike. During the course of its advancement however, chocolate has slowly been removed further and further from its principal form as a bitter bean and diluted with milk, water, peanuts, sugar, cinnamon, and just about every other ingredient known to man.

Being thus, the properties that had once made chocolate a wholly mind-altering experience for heavenly beings have instead evolved to inspire a glowing and for the most part harmless feeling of general niceness, such as what a mortal might experience though on a more actively spiritual level.

However, for reasons that are yet to be explained, the earthly origin of the cocoa plant and the fact of it being the much sought-after TC has evaded Heaven’s knowledge even to this day; as far as Aziraphale is concerned, he is the only one to have discovered the truth and still be around to tell about it.

Not that he would tell anyone about it, ever.

Aziraphale likes to think that he isn’t addicted to TC, even in its most processed and pasteurised form, but he’s not fooling anyone, especially not Crowley. In fact, the ringing telephone on the desk of his Soho bookstore told him that his old associate wasn’t one to be fooled at all.

“What are you doing this evening?” Crowley got to the point straight away.

“Quite possibly the same thing I do every evening, dear,” Aziraphale answered as he paused in translating an ancient Latin tome about the secret and comprehensively absurd coital liaisons of Nostradamus. “Why, did you have something in mind?”

“Ah, well, I was feeling a bit restless and wanted to know if you fancied a night out. We could do dinner, maybe stop at a café afterwards…”

Aziraphale could hear the grin on the other side.

“Just a little night on the town. Feel up to it, mi amigo?”

Aziraphale couldn’t help but to smirk rather un-angelically.

Sí, señor,” he said, “I think I could make an effort.”



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