18 April 2010 @ 05:53 pm
He tells himself that it's a fit of temper; that that's why he snatches up Aziraphael's ugly overcoat from the coat rack and pitches it out the window, fingers fumbling and furious on the sash. When he slams it down again, before Aziraphael can appear on the street below, the glass rattles reproachfully in its frames.

After that, his flat seems very silent. Very big, and very empty, and very silent.

First, he pads back into the kitchen and picks the wet washcloth up off the floor, because - because otherwise it'll leave a water stain on the doorjamb, and that's good hardwood, that is. Then back to the living room, to at least heap the discarded blankets on the couch, instead of on his floor. Kitchen again, where he thinks about rinsing the rest of the coffee out of his mug and putting them both away, but that seems a little - involved. Right now.

In the bedroom, he sits on the unmade bed for a little while, and then goes to make the call from his office instead.

Uh, hi. Ciao. It's me - obviously, I mean, I don't imagine you've a long list of people in your phonebook. Remind me to give this number out to some telemarketers, will you? Anyway, I know it's balls o'clock there right now, but I figured - well, you're as likely to be just coming in as you are to be nearly waking up, right? Unless I did wake you up, in which case I apologise, and fuck you for letting me go to answering machine. So, listen, something's come up, and I need to see a man about a metaphorical dog in Vegas, of all places. And maybe this is holiday sentiment talking, but as it happens, you do actually rate slightly higher than sitting around in Heathrow airport on Christmas morning waiting for a flight. As does waiting around in a bar where they won't give me the ssstink-eye for ordering a little kick with my coffee before noon. So - so my point is, L.A. to Vegas, I can make in no time. I just need a door. I'll be in Milliways. And seriously, Raguel, if you're lying in bed listening to this and then decide to go back to sleep for another few hours, you're a wanker.

Actually, that was a bad... phrasing, of...

I'll be in Milliways. Merry Christmas. Or something.

He'll give himself half an hour, before he needs to leave. That'll do.

That ought to be enough to make himself    presentable.
14 March 2010 @ 10:40 am
It's a picture-postcard sunrise as Crowley ghosts back through the streets of L.A., headed towards Raguel's apartment, and it gives his face a little colour. He feels strange - flattened and insubstantial, like nighttime in the desert has eroded something out of him, worn it away with cold and dust, from right around the time when he found that it hurt too much to breathe. He mostly just sat, after that.

Crowley's clothes are dusty - everything is dusty; his face is smudged with it and his hair is streaked with it, and nobody looks twice as his shadow, long and thin in the early light, glides through street junctions like a stick clattering along a picket fence. The roads are so regular here, predictable as graph paper or prison bars, laid down upon the landscape. He'd do well here, Crowley thinks distractedly, trailing exhaustion beneath a particularly shameless billboard. Under other circumstances, of course. He'd do well here, in this city with its squeaky-clean boulevards and grimy back alleys, its sunsets and sunrises ripe and pink, glorious with air pollution, its smooth, silicone denizens talking the talk and walking the walk, feet on the ground but heads in some celluloid dream. They've all sold their souls to get here, one way or another; in highway rest stops and bankers' offices, in doctors' waiting rooms and studio car parks. What's one more name on the bill of sale? Just name your price.

Crowley could wear this city like a coat, all fashionable angles and hungry grin, designer sunglasses and unrealistic cheekbones. When you get by, it's called 'making a living'. When you succeed, it's called 'making a killing'.

Los Angeles. City of Angels.

He can see why Raguel hates it here.

It still hurts to breathe.

The door to Raguel's building opens without putting up a fight, and it's early enough (for a Sunday, at least) that he doesn't meet anyone on the stairs. It's still cold in here. His shoes don't make much sound on the floorboards, because that's what happens when you trudge, and when you feel so insubstantial that you're barely there at all. He half-expects his fingers to pass through Raguel's doorknob when he reaches for it, but they don't. The door opens when he leans against it, creaking. And then he stops.

Just stops.
10 January 2010 @ 04:20 pm
It's Christmas morning, and the darkness provided by the blinds isn't quite complete. It's dark outside, too, but the faint orange glow of streetlights bounces off the thin rime of not-quite-snow crusting over London and filters in around the edges of Crowley's bedroom window. It's not completely quiet, either - every so often a brighter flare of light outside heralds the low swish of car tyres as one poor unfortunate or another makes their way to wherever it is they have to be. There aren't many though; it's still very early.

And after all, it's Christmas morning.
02 September 2009 @ 06:03 am
On the first day, they don't visit the orchard.

Crowley wakes up in the night; once to the high-pitched screaming of a fox, and again when the bells are jangling out the call to matins, loud and ringing in the dark. The second time, Aziraphael stirs beneath his arm, the sound wired directly to years and years of ingrained habit - but if he, too, wakes, he doesn't show it.

Feeling as though his chest might crush inwards under the sudden weight of his gratitude, Crowley presses a kiss to Aziraphael's shoulder through the blankets, and lays his head back down on the pillow.

They spend the day in bed (where Aziraphael reads aloud and tries not to spill his tea when he turns the page), or on the couch (where they talk about nothing, and only one of them is ever sitting up straight at a time), or out against the south wall of the gatehouse (where their fingers tangle loosely in the grass, and their faces turn up to the sun).

"It's funny, you know, foxes," Aziraphael says at one point. "I expect there's a litter of kits down near the river by now; the mother has been an absolute terror to keep away from the henhouse. But they do make such a fuss about their territory, and now it just seems rather more trouble than it's worth to try and get rid of them. Ingenious, really."

Crowley slants a glance sideways, certain that Aziraphael is making fun of him in some obscure way. He finds, though, that he doesn't mind.
16 August 2009 @ 10:32 am
The barges drift )
07 August 2009 @ 05:11 am
A ways outside the dim glow of the refueling station, a low, greyish building that squats sullenly in the rain-sodden muck of Jubilee, something flickers in the dark.

fiat lux
12 June 2009 @ 02:26 am
where can a sick man go [text only version] )
10 June 2009 @ 10:45 pm
where can a sick man go )
27 December 2008 @ 03:26 pm
Kaylee's package is a little irregular. )
27 December 2008 @ 03:14 pm
Simon gets the smallest package of all. )
09 December 2008 @ 10:05 pm

He'd fallen asleep.

If Crowley had been nearly too exhausted to drive, he'd been by far too exhausted to lean back and will the jeep to drive itself. The first had required only concentration; the second would have needed the sort of resources which, after fighting to will himself warm against the cold cold cold that had seeped in anyway, Crowley simply hadn't got. By the time they'd pulled into the car-park of the tiny inn, there'd been a tremor - a shaky sort of weakness - in his knees and elbows. He'd barely managed to open the heavy jeep door; barely managed to climb the stairs to their little room; barely managed to hold the key steady long enough to unlock the door.

Shrugging off coats, discarding gloves and scarves and sunglasses, and then it had hit them both at the same time, as though it had simply been waiting for the click of their heavy, wooden door, and the rustle of their curtains being drawn: Crowley's breath suddenly uneven, Aziraphael sitting down abruptly on the edge of the bed, and the raw immensity of the time out on the ice all crashing home.

There'd been such need when Aziraphael kissed him (or perhaps when he had kissed the angel; either way), when they'd crawled back towards the pillows, pressed as close as could be. Slow, and intense, and fiercely tender, and in the time it took Aziraphael to extricate himself, flushed and urgent, to pull off his shoes and set the clunky radio alarm, Crowley'd fallen asleep.

(Wearing everything but his coat.)
17 November 2008 @ 03:12 pm
The rain falls like white noise: a soft and curiously enveloping sound, like all of grey, grey London sighing hush. The headlights of cars glow like halos outside the bookshop window, and their tyres swish softly down the road, and Crowley imagines that - even inside - he can still taste the sharp, clean smell coming off the uneven Soho cobbles. Perched on the counter, he kicks his feet against the aging wood and watches the water distort the smooth black curves of the Bentley's hood.

There's a faint, restless energy about him (kick; kick), which he's trying to make go away just by thinking about it. It's not working particularly well. He hadn't slept as soundly as he might; had woken up early; had left to pack, to cover it. And now (it figures) Aziraphael is dallying. The git is probably looking for some truly horrible flip-flops, even, which is - well. Not that Crowley's driving won't get them to the airport in time anyway, and not that the plane would leave without them even if it didn't, but really. It's the principle of the thing. He's ready on time; Aziraphael might have had the decency to do the same. As far as Crowley is concerned, the only person allowed to be willfully late is Crowley.

"Come on, angel," he calls, raising his voice to carry up the rickety stairs.
05 October 2008 @ 06:52 am
There's nothing unusual about the room. Of course, it would be hard for any room to be unusual by Milliways' standards, but this could pass for a hotel a back home - albeit an old-fashioned one, with wooden floors, exposed beams, a fireplace. A bed, bedside tables, a pair of armchairs; everything utterly unremarkable.

The only notable things, the only things that aren't usually there when one walks into a hotel room: a bottle of Atlantean (already opened) and a glass, sitting on one of the bedside tables, and a book tossed carelessly on the bedspread. And the sound of running water.
26 August 2008 @ 04:20 am
It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks. )
17 August 2008 @ 04:10 am
The attack hasn't hit the feeds yet; it won't until tonight. But news travels fast, when you're the kind of person that pays it to, and even faster when it's close to home.

Metaphorically speaking.

The red light is flashing on Simon's commbox - three short, three long, three short.

Someone's hoping the doctor is on call.
16 August 2008 @ 04:25 am
It's shading towards sunset, and the pink and gold light that streams in through the windows makes Crowley's Lavinia apartment look warmer, less sterile than usual. In fact, so well do the stylishly neutral tones pick up the evening glow that the place, usually so impersonal, looks positively welcoming. This, however, is in stark contrast to the atmosphere inside, tense from what you might call a heated discussion, but is really somewhat too one-sided for that.

Crowley, looking not so much unhappy as supremely frustrated with the world in general (and certain parts of it in particular), is brandishing a sheet of digital paper on which a newsfeed shimmers gently, paused on an article. Its headline: BENTLEY RIOTS ON LILAC: TENSION RUNS HIGH IN AMESBURY.

The living area's other occupant, one Senator Gabriel Tam, is comfortably ensconced in an armchair, on a swing-stop from a brief political tour of the inner planets. For his part, rather than incensed, he instead looks... sort of resigned. Which probably has at least as much to do with the fact that, after a silent contest of wills, he allowed Crowley to serve him tea instead of scotch, as it does the fact that Crowley doesn't look likely to stop ranting any time soon.

" - not rocket science," he's fuming. "Well - it is rocket science - that's the fucking point. Obviousssly we need skilled labour out on the border sites, and whether or not I'd like to do all my hiring amongst the local bloody colour, they don't have the skill-set. I mean, we're hiring everyone young enough and smart enough that we can train up, and everyone we brought out with us is less'n a decade away from retirement. I think," the digital paper fwishes onto the low table-top, "everyone's being a bit unrealistic. Do they want the damn defenses to get built or not?"
10 June 2008 @ 12:48 am
323 BC, an hour before sunrise
       When David heard that Absalom was slain
His skin is hot like mine.
       he went up into his chamber over the gate
The king's room reeks of sweat, and shit, and vomit. When the sun rises on Babylon, the world will be like fire to the touch. For now, it's just him, burning from the inside out.

2008 AD, 6:43am
       When David heard that Absalom was slain
Crowley wakes early, for him. The sun is already up, and so is Aziraphael; neither of them seem surprised to see him downstairs. There's tea waiting for him, and a kiss. The newspaper hasn't come yet, and Crowley makes toast, tall and straight-backed.

2521 AD, 0815h
       he went up into his chamber over the gate
The CEO of Bentley Aeronautics is already in his office, Cortex screen angled away from the wall-to-wall windows where the morning paints a shining road across the surface of the water. He'll make time for the horizon later. Today, the business of flying will not afford Andronicus Ji Crowley much chance to look up. The night's stock logs are pulled up, drawn and quartered with ruthless efficiency; the task of reaching out for the small red intercom button, asking for a cup of coffee, seems incomprehensibly, insurmountably vast.

Crowley's schedule is packed. The day ahead is full of battles.


       When David heard that Absalom was slain, he went up into his chamber over the gate, and wept

323 BC, midmorning
       my son
Six days ago, they could no longer move the king to the privy. Three days ago, they could no longer move him to a pot. Now, they simply do their best to clean away what little water he can pass, and the cloth comes away red-black and bloody.
       my son
The tall man with black hair and hollow eyes hands out an empty bowl, the wadded, filthy strips at the bottom, and waits for another to arrive. The gulls circle above the Euphrates, just screams dressed in feathers.
       my son

2008 AD, 12:08pm
       my son
The bell over the door jingles behind a departing customer, and the summer breeze wafts in the hot smell of spices (a slightly suspect curry joint, just opening up for lunch).
       my son
"Let's go for a walk," Crowley says abruptly. He'd stolen the stool from behind the counter and spent the morning perched in a corner of the bookshop, a translation of the Iliad in his lap, tapping his foot and gazing out the window.
       my son
"Alright," Aziraphael says, and touches Crowley's shoulder as he goes to fetch his keys.
       my son
The angel locks the door, and the demon picks a direction away from the Thames, and away from the ducks in St. James' Park, and away from the British Museum. They walk briskly: a march, under the sun.
       my son

2521 AD, 1430h
       my son
They eventually locate the boss for his two o'clock meeting down in the archives, knee-deep in pre-Unification surveys of the outer settlements.
       my son
Afterwards, Crowley's fingers hover over the beginnings of an awkward, transparent wave.
       my son
       my son
He opens a window, and lets the breeze in.

       When David heard that Absalom was slain, he went up into his chamber over the gate, and wept, my son, my son, O Absalom my son, would God I had died for thee!

323 BC, late afternoon
       O Absalom my son
There's a moment of lucidity, when one brown eye and one blue eye focus steadily on the figure by the bed, and Crowley feels all his hope claw up into his throat. Then the mismatched eyes roll roll roll up to show only jaundiced whites, and someone darts for the tooth-marked roll of soft leather they've been using. They hold the king down through the convulsion, and around the clear bell of hurting inside his chest, Crowley keeps one ear out for the sound of white wings.
       my son

2008 AD, 6:41pm
       my son
It starts to rain.
       my son

2521 AD, 2012h
       my son
Crowley closes the door of his apartment behind him, and turns around. "Hello," he says, to the Prior sitting in his living room.
       my son

323 BC, shortly before sundown
       O Alexander paidion
"Hush," Crowley murmurs. "Hush now."
       my son

2008 AD, 11:03pm

They're still a little damp when they arrive back at the bookshop - weary, but not quite ready to sleep.

"We could play Monopoly," Aziraphael suggests, and Crowley laughs and laughs.

323 BC, night

"I don't want any water," the king's old tutor screams, still clutching stinking blankets. "Get out, get out. GET OUT."

2521 AD, 0545h

"Morning," Crowley says.

"Yes," Aziraphael replies.
04 May 2008 @ 11:49 pm
[From here.]

As always (although the layout of the upper floors of Milliways doesn't seem to make much sense to anyone accustomed only to the usual three dimensions), they find their room without too much difficulty.

Funny, that.

The door snicks shut behind Crowley, and in the silence that falls, he makes a note to devise at least a dozen interesting afflictions for Aziraphael's blessed manicurist.

He perches on the end of the bed, leaving the room's single armchair for the angel.