The Serpent's Gift
Author's disclaimer and notes: I don't own them, I just dream of doing so. Feedback is better than Lemon Flu Fighter Smoothies. Corrections to my language or any other type of comments are welcome. Ask if you want me to archive it anywhere. You may link to this story if you want or to my main page. 6.319 words. Written in November 2010.
Betaed by Heather Sparrows, Cassie Ingaben and Kadorienne - thank you!
For Heather Sparrows, Christmas 2010
Previously published in the 2011 Connotations con zine. Crossover with Good Omens. I think I borrowed the feathercleaning set from somewhere, but I don't know where, sorry.If you want you can also read/download the story as a doc file (without graphics). -->
"--that we, King Dorian the Handsome of Gloria, have, among all the eligible men in our kingdom, selected you, Spymaster Klaus, to be our beloved Royal Consort. Furthermore, we--"
King Dorian the Handsome's announcement was interrupted by a hesitant knock and Klaus opened his eyes at about the same time as his feet hit the floor. Since the knock hadn't sounded insistent or panicky he pulled on his trousers before, gun in hand, walking towards the apartment door. On a small bureau lay a folded white handkerchief he had placed there for such occasions, so he draped the cloth over his Magnum. Fatso always got so annoyed when Klaus waved his gun at those welfare organisation women out selling Christmas cards that you'd think it was Klaus's ... other gun he had shown them.
A glance at his watch told him that the time was 16:17. He and the Alphabet had been on a 3-week mission in China. Their plane had touched down at Flughafen Köln/Bonn at 11:36, which was why Klaus had taken an ultra-rare mid-day nap. He had set his alarm to 16:30, intending to swiftly return to the natural, German time rhythm.
Passing the hall mirror and the Guns Monthly calendar hanging beside it, he noticed with a hint of dread that the yellow warning sticker on Sunday the 14th of February was only two days away. I've got to go to ground tomorrow, he reminded himself. Vacation was already arranged: Fatso had almost wet himself with joy at Klaus voluntarily taking a day off, even if only a Monday, to cover his return-trip to Bonn.
By the time Klaus reached the door he had managed to completely repress the most inappropriate dream he had been woken from. He looked out the peephole. In full view stood a curly-haired blond in tweed and a tartan kerchief, smiling faintly, blue eyes claiming innocence. The guy looked just a hint like B, but smarter and not as fat.
With a deft hand, Klaus adjusted the peephole - not a standard feature for such holes, but one he had specially installed. Turning it allowed him a view of the entirety of the hallway without opening the door. That had saved his skin - and, in case of Lord Dimwit, possibly his arse as well - several times already. This time he came up empty, though, as the patiently waiting stranger was the only one in the hallway.
Klaus opened the door, just enough to facilitate conversation. He kept the Magnum well out of sight, even covered as it was. "Yeah?"
"Good afternoon, Major von dem Eberbach," said the stranger and smiled.
The words were spoken in perfect German, but with an unmistakable, English accent. Not in the guy's favour. Klaus really had had enough of the English for a good while, especially of the curly-haired blond, blue-eyed, male kind. That this particular specimen was short and with some extra weight rather than tall and lean was not an improvement. He looked gay too.
"Who are you? Who sent you? What do you want?"
The smile wavered, but then the man rallied. "Do you believe in God, Major von dem Eberbach?"
Oh, fucking great. A bible-pusher! That wasn't even three strikes you're out, now they were rapidly approaching two digits.
"Not interested." Klaus slammed the door.
Dorian was cruising along at an easy 140 km/hour, as a lovely stretch of long, open road allowed him to push the Lamborghini just a little, rather than forcing him to crawl along as he'd been doing for all too long. He was travelling through the south of France, and the roads, while scenic and not devoid of aesthetic features, had started to bore him. On a whim he had decided to drive up from the Spanish border, where he had spent an extended weekend at a luxury spa resort, his February Treat to jolly himself out of dreary winter depression. He had to be in Bonn on the 14th, though, to give Klaus all his love - or as much as Klaus would let him, anyway.
Though with proper preparation and a bit of practice I'm sure he'd be able to take it all in, Dorian thought and smiled at his equivocation.
So, the plan was to drive for another hour or two, then find a really nice place to stay for the night. In the morning he would head for Bonn. Or, for that matter, if he saw some place that looked acceptable now, he could just as well stay there - he'd get to Bonn on schedule anyway.
Suddenly Dorian realised that he was no longer alone on the road. A vintage model Bentley drove exactly to his left, keeping up the high speed without visible effort. Which was a mean feat for a car that looked about half a century or so older than Dorian's Lamborghini. Dorian glanced through the car windows. A little to his surprise the car turned out to be right-driven. His 'ghini was left-driven - an annoyance, but what could one expect out on the continent? Besides, it had been a gift from an admirer. This, however, meant that Dorian and the Bentley's driver, a man, were directly next to one another. The other was alone in the vehicle and wore sunglasses. Dark hair, cut short. Just then the man turned towards Dorian and signalled for him to stop.
Dorian didn't think so, and instead stepped a bit firmer on the gas. The 'ghini ate road beautifully, eagerly throwing itself forward, speeding ahead of the Bentley. That was the end of that, Dorian thought - only to see the Bentley inch up next to him again.
Something about this felt wrong, but Dorian gamely fed his 'ghini some more gas. It took the lead again - but not for long. Then the Bentley came up again, siding up like an unwanted relative at a party. The driver still signalled for Dorian to stop.
I do hope he is just an admirer and not a stalker, Dorian thought. While he usually found time for admirers, he decided not to chance things. He would not stop.
Another possibility occurred to him ... could this be INTERPOL? But in a Bentley? Seems an unlikely choice for a pursuit vehicle. Though fast, I must admit.
Then the 'ghini jumped a little. Startled, Dorian eased his foot from the gas pedal. The 'ghini jumped again. A couple of more jumps, almost twitches, followed. By now, Dorian had lifted his foot entirely, letting the car roll towards a stop. He looked at the dashboard. A flaring signal made his eyes widen in surprise. He was out of gas.
Impossible! It was. Truly. He had let John-Paul fill her up in Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste!
A horrible suspicion came to him. He had let John-Paul fill her up in Prats-de-Mollo-la-Preste - but he hadn't watched John-Paul actually do it and James had also been there!
But surely James wouldn't prevent John-Paul from filling up my car just to save some pounds? He knew I would need the fuel! Then he rethought - James might very well have done this - this was James ... But - that aside - Dorian must have looked at the dashboard earlier? Shouldn't he have seen the low level or a blinking light? He must have!
On the other hand, there was no denying things. He had run out of fuel and the 'ghini was now going on air, jumping erratically and slowing down. Bowing to the inevitable, Dorian gently applied the brake. All the while the 1926 model Bentley shadowed him perfectly, not wavering an inch even when the 'ghini finally came to a full stop.
Dorian took a deep breath and again looked towards the driver of the Bentley. At least he wasn't all alone on an empty road. Could the Bentley's driver have seen something wrong with the 'ghini? Leaking fuel, maybe? Was that why he had tried to stop him? The door to the Bentley opened and the driver stepped out. He was a well-dressed man in a nicely tailored suit and what looked like snakeskin shoes. What Dorian saw of the face seemed handsome enough.
Deciding that it was the only courteous thing to do, Dorian also stepped out of his car. "Hello there," he said in French with a smile carefully measured to be warm, but not too inviting. "That Bentley of yours can really go, can't she?"
"It is vintage. I do try to keep it in the best possible condition," said the man. In perfectly unaccented English, apart from a faint hiss on some syllables.
"Oh, a compatriot, I hear?"
"Not originally. I come from somewhere warmer. But I have lived in London for, oh, years now. I like it there."
"Glad to hear it. Say, I seem to have run into a spot of problem with my Lamborghini. It's the damnedest thing--"
"Yes. Ran out of gas. Let me give you a ride."
Which Dorian gratefully accepted. He was still a bit leery that the man could be a possible stalker, but on the other hand he figured that he should be able to handle just one man and, worst case scenario, he had a can of sleeping gas in his pocket - one never knew when sleeping gas would come in handy. So they both got into the Bentley and the stranger put the car in gear.
"Thank you," Dorian said with a winning smile as the Bentley reached a steady pace, "I feared I was going to be stranded. My hero."
"Nothing to it. To tell you the truth, Lord Gloria, I came here looking for you."
Outside Klaus's apartment in Bonn, a bewildered angel twirled a lock of his blond hair. "Oh dear me," said the entity. "Now what do I do?"
Alarmed again, Dorian casually caressed his chest down to where his hand could slip into his coat and touch the can of sleeping gas.
"For little old me? Whatever for? Are you a--- Are you an admirer? And what shall I call you, by the way? I fear that you have me at something of a disadvantage."
The dark-haired man smiled. He had really good cheekbones. "I'll give you a hint, Lord Gloria. Nice car, isn't it?"
"Oh yes, very much so. Quite impressive really, how it kept up with my 'ghini. But I don't get your point?" He unexpectedly sneezed, due to a faint, lingering odour of smoke.
"An expensive car. Cigar, Lord Gloria?" And a cigar was offered. Recognising the unmistakable wrapper and the Gurkha symbol, Dorian eagerly accepted.
"Thank you," he said after having taken the first pull. He didn't smoke cigars habitually, but who was he to decline a His Majesty's Reserve? "Excellent."
"You could say that." In truth, it was incredible.
He was flashed a bright, amused smile. "That's me, Lord Gloria. A man of wealth ... and taste …"
"Major von dem Eberbach? Major von dem Eberbach? Hello? I really must speak to you. It is rather important, you see."
The Bentley sped onwards.
"I don't believe in the devil," Dorian said calmly. A madman. Possibly a stalker too. I'll spray him and grab the wheel. Straight road. It should work. I'll try to get him to stop first, though.
"That's okay," said the man beside him in a jovial tone. "I believe in you. And I was very impressed by that heist you pulled back in Rome all those years ago. Stealing the Pope. Quite a coup."
Well, it was always nice to be admired. If slightly unsettling to have his cover blown by a madman professing to be the Torch of Baphomet. "So ...." Dorian said, not sure on which angle to take, haughty disdain, admiration or seduction. "What shall I call you? Nick?"
His driver smiled again. Then he lowered his glasses, only for a second. "I prefer Crowley," he said. And above the rim of the sunshades his eyes were yellow, with neat, vertical slits.
"I'm not interested!"
Maybe he should open the door again, though? And this time "happen" to drop the handkerchief covering his Magnum? "It just slipped, sir. I didn't mean to make the bible pusher wet himself."
Dorian actually felt rather proud of not screaming like a little girl at the sight of the other-worldly eyes. And they weren't just such special effects contact lenses either. The pupils - slitted as they were - expanded slightly even as he watched.
"What, ah ..." He swallowed hard. "You’re, eh ... I say ... I mean, Crowley, was it? What do, ah, you want with, ah ... me?" No deals, Dorian! No matter what he offers. It never ends well. Remember Faust and who you were named for!
"I was hoping we could make a ... deal."
"Terribly sorry, but I'm not interested!"
The devil - Crowley - laughed. The sound was, strangely, rather pleasant, if a bit hissing. "You haven't even heard my suggestion yet."
"It doesn't matter. I'm not interested."
"Not even if I say that it's not your soul I'm interested in, Lord Gloria? I'm actually here to inquire about using your ... special skills."
"You - the Lord of the Underworld - want me to steal something for you?"
The devil nodded.
Well, that puts things in an entirely different perspective, doesn't it? Though Dorian still wasn't sure. Deals with the devil, no matter what the devil wanted, seldom went well. The devil might have lost a golden fiddle in Georgia, but most deals made at the Bluesmans' crossroad ended in grief.
"And I'm prepared to pay very handsomely for your time and effort," said the devil.
Well ... It couldn't hurt just to hear what the devil offered, could it? It wasn't as if Dorian had to say yes. "I'm not agreeing to anything," he hedged. "But ... what is it you want me to steal, more exactly? And what are you offering to pay?"
Not that he was a common thug for hire, stealing left and right for pay. Well, not unless a certain NATO major was involved, in which case Dorian was willing to bend his principles (and he would be more than willing to bend the NATO major as well). Though perhaps he was just a tiny bit flattered that Old Hob had picked out yours truly among all the thieves on the planet - that must mean that Eroica was the best, mustn't it?
"Lord Gloria, I want you to break into the Vatican again. And I want you to steal one, tiny, itsy bitsy little thing for me. What it is isn't really important. I can assure you that it is of little monetary value, low religious value and that no one will miss it. To steal it will have no repercussions. Few or none even know it exists. I want it for ... personal reasons."
Well, that sounded ... like an extremely incomplete description, but possibly not too damaging, then. But ...
"... and in return," the devil continued, "well ... I can offer you many things. There is this one thing I had in mind to suggest to you, though ... Your Major von dem Eberbach ..."
For a dazzling second Dorian thought that the devil offered him Klaus - and, of course, the devil could, couldn't he? He was, after all, the devil. But before Dorian had time to even begin to formulate an answer, the devil went on.
"Have you decided what to buy the good major for Valentine's Day yet?"
The question took Dorian entirely by surprise - it made no sense whatsoever in the circumstances. He opened his mouth to say something, no doubt something not particularly elegant, along the lines of, "Huh?" but the devil, with a sly grin, delivered his punch line.
"How about returning to him his immortal soul?"
"But Major von dem Eberbach, I need to talk to you! It is about your immortal soul!"
Angels and demons are by nature sexless and lack external plumbing, necessitating them to, in order to use such organs, make an effort ... Through the door came a rather rude suggestion as to what the angel could do with Klaus's immortal soul, a suggestion which was wrong on so many levels and which would - besides - necessitate the addressed angel to really make an effort in order to oblige. The angel, whose name was Aziraphale, decided that to err was human and to forgive, divine.
"I'm serious, Major von dem Eberbach. This really is about your immortal soul!"
"Yes, Lord Gloria."
"With the devil?"
"Yes, Lord Gloria."
"Yes, Lord Gloria."
"My Klaus? Major Klaus von dem Eberbach? NATO intelligence? That Klaus?"
"Yes, Lord Gloria. There's not many of him, you know."
"Made a deal with the devil?"
"Yes, Lord Gloria."
"I don't believe you. You're lying!"
"That's why he's called the Demon Major by some, didn't you know? He made a deal with the devil and that's where he gets his luck on his missions and that's where he gets his shooting skills. Have you ever seen another human able to shoot the way he does, hmm?"
Well ... No ... But ... "I refuse to believe you! It's not true!"
Aziraphale sighed. Crowley, you old snake. What on Earth are you up to? This really isn't part of our Arrangement.
"I actually am an angel, dear boy!" he tried, his own version of an ace up his sleeve. "Well, technically I'm a Principality, but they do call me the Angel of the Eastern Gate and --"
"I don't need a fucking Prince on my arse, I have an Earl already and that's fucking enough!"
Aziraphale sighed again. Dear, dear me. I do believe it is time to bring in some reinforcement.
Crowley laughed again. The smell of smoke in the car intensified and it did have a faint undertone of brimstone. "Here," he then said and dug into a pocket. "You may have a look."
He held out a hand and when Dorian offered his to accept whatever it was, a small sphere landed in his palm, like a child's marble, but made of shiny, grey metal. Surprised, he lifted the tiny ball to study it closer - and when he pressed his fingers into it for a firmer hold, colour dashed through it, so bright and red he nearly lost his hold.
"Is this ...?"
The flash of red receded as abruptly as it had emerged. Dorian pushed at the sphere with a fingertip - and another eruption, orange this time, sparkled across the surface.
"His soul? Yes."
Again and again Dorian pressed, until the colours mixed like oil on water and the metal ball had warmed under his touch.
"It could be yours, of course," said the devil, his voice low and seductive, sending a pleasant tingle down Dorian's spine. "If you'd rather not give it back to him, you could have it all to yourself. It would bring him to you, bind him to you. He would be yours."
Klaus was pleased that the bible pusher seemed to have given up. And just in time too, before Klaus would have been forced to shoot him to put them both out of their misery. Mischa did dress up like a priest once, after all - holy boy could have been another Ruskie. Even if they had to play nice these days, bloody politics.
That's when he heard the voice.
A female voice.
One he recognized.
"Klaus Heinz, please open this door, this nice angel wants to talk to you."
And Klaus, who had dressed during his shouted conversation with the religious queer, promptly opened the door.
"What are you doing in Bonn, Sister Theresa?"
"I'll do it."
The devil smiled: a wicked, evil grin. "Excellent! Onwards towards Rome, then."
But far from turning around the Bentley, he just gave it a bit more throttle, and the old car answered beautifully.
"How about some music?" Crowley asked after a moment and nodded towards the glove compartment.
Dorian, feeling a bit distant, as if he was dreaming, rifled through the content until he found a tape with classic composers, which he popped into the Blaupunkt. He might believe in Dorian, but the devil apparently didn't believe in CDs.
Strange, Dorian hadn't had a clue that Brahms had ever recorded a song dedicated to the - in Dorian's mind questionable - beauty of Fat Bottomed Girls.
"Please close your eyes."
Dorian did so on automatic. There was a bump in the road.
"There, you can open them now."
When Dorian obeyed he found himself looking out at an entirely different landscape. "What on Earth was that?" he blurted.
"A shortcut," Crowley answered. "Hell has the best shortcuts."
"It doesn't make sense," Klaus grumbled.
They sat at his dining table, he and the chubby angel. Sister Theresa had left. Before them each was an empty plate - which recently had been stacked with the most delicious fried potatoes. Klaus had remembered his bellyache last time he had pigged out on Sister Theresa's specialty and had thus offered some to the angel. Who seemed to be rather gluttonous for an angel.
"I agree completely, I don't understand what Crowley could be up to. I've known him for well over 6000 years now, angel and demon, and--"
"Not that. You said you 'miracled' Sister Theresa here. Why the fuck can't you just 'miracle' us to Rome?"
"Oh. Oh, no, no, no, my dear boy, that's just not possible." Klaus reflected that if the angel called him "my dear boy" one more time he'd see if it would be possible for the angel to miracle away a black eye. "You see - I could miracle Sister Therese here--" Indicating the kitchen table. "--because here's where we are. But I can't miracle you and me to Rome--" Indicating the microwave. "--because, well, we're already in Bonn." Indicating the kitchen table. "It's just not doable."
Klaus shook his head. "Still doesn't make sense."
The angel sighed delicately. He was very queer for an angel. Apparently didn't even have a flaming sword. Klaus had asked and the angel had seemed very embarrassed about something. Too bad, Klaus had actually kind of liked a few of those devil-fighting, sword-carrying angels in statues and paintings. Even if they usually were rather indecent. "Have you heard the expression 'God works in mysterious ways', Major von dem Eberbach?"
"We call it the Ineffable Divine Plan."
Ah. Now Klaus understood. "You don't have a clue either."
"I'm afraid not, no. Lumiel did mutter about it all being just a plot device, shortly before he fell, but I'm sure he was just feeling a bit contrary. But, my dear boy, --"
"Don't fucking call me that!"
"Oh dear, I'm sorry. Yes. Of course not. But as I was going to say, I was capable of one, small miracle that will be of tremendous help to us."
Klaus threw him a sceptical look. "What, then?"
With a flourish worthy of an amateur magician, Aziraphale produced a long, white envelope with the Lufthansa logo. "Tickets to the last flight tonight from Flughaften Köln/Bonn to Aeroporto di Roma-Ciampino. They're only economy class, but they were not easy to get anyway."
Klaus stared at the offered tickets and then sighed deeply. "Economy class? Right. When does it take off?"
Aziraphale opened the envelope and scanned the tickets. Then he looked sheepish. "Oh dear, I didn't realise-- In thirty minutes, Major von dem Eberbach. Ah ... Will that be enough to get to the airport?"
"No." Klaus reached for his phone.
"I could make a few, minor miracles to clear the roads on our way there, I suppose, to get us there quicker, but--"
"Be quiet," Klaus instructed just before his call was answered. "This is Major von dem Eberbach, NATO intelligence. I have two reserved seats for the 18:06 flight to Rome Ciampino with Lufthansa. Delay it for 30 minutes, I'm on my way."
Sometimes, you just had to make your own miracles.
To Dorian's amazement, they were really in Italy, on the outskirts of sprawling Rome, just past the Grande Raccordo Anulare. As far as he knew the Bentley had never even changed direction. He asked his companion why he hadn't taken them in even closer, but only got a grumble in reply.
"Sorry, I didn't quite catch that?" The near military-rhythm of Haydn's Somebody To Love made loud conversation a necessity.
"Too holy. It's like swimming through pea soup."
When Dorian studied his driver closer, he did notice how the entity grasped the wheel of the Bentley harder now. As they approached the centre of Christian religion, to the dulcet tones of Mozart's Another One Bites The Dust, he saw beads of sweat pop up on the Beast's face, which looked paler and more drawn by the minute
"Ah ... Will you be able to, ah, follow through with this? You look--"
"I can do it. You'll have to go the last part by yourself, but I come prepared."
Which he did. The devil is in the details, and this time the details included a full-body Hazmat suit. About two blocks from the Vatican, the devil now sweating profusely and panting, they parked in a small cross street.
"I suppose you have no problems with parking tickets or having your car towed," Dorian commented a bit wistfully. The street hadn't been a parking zone. That must be useful. James always gets so angry with me.
"Traffic wardens are neither of Heaven nor Hell," the devil replied grimly as he was getting into the Hazmat suit. "But the 10.000-volt security system should give them pause.”
"You're an angel, for fuck's sake!" Klaus growled under his breath. This was ... fucking embarrassing!
"Yes," Aziraphale panted. He looked faintly green around the edges. "God wanted me to fly - that's why He gave me wings! We were not meant to go by airplane!"
Apparently, Aziraphale suffered from severe motion sickness. It didn't even help that the airplane was suspiciously blessed with no turbulence the entire way down to Rome.
Crowley led Dorian to an alternative opening to the catacombs that he and Klaus had used the last time they had broken into the Vatican. Well, alternative opening as a place where the wall was rather thin and a curse from Crowley - assisted by a couple of shoves and a well-placed kick - opened a passage.
Then the two of them started to make their way through the darkness. Luckily, Crowley could see perfectly in it, even though he never removed his sunglasses. He did walk slower, though. Apparently not even the Hazmat suit offered enough protection against the increasing holiness radiation that continued to assault him. Dorian became a little concerned, but it didn't feel really right to offer the devil a shoulder to lean on. Not even if he happened to be a rather handsome devil, pun intended.
When they reached the section Klaus had walled up, Dorian used his solution dissolving spray - never leave home without it - to make the special solution Bonham had mixed into the concrete go all gooey. After that it was quick work to remove a small area of the wall and open the way to the holiest of holy.
The devil almost collapsed, but when Dorian squeezed past the remaining concrete Crowley stayed by the hole, gazing into the dusk beyond, with a faintly hungry look on his face; that of a starving man who knew he'd never be allowed to eat at the groaning table.
From Aeroporto di Roma-Ciampino to the St. Peter's Square is about 33 kilometres. In what counts as normal in the mysterious mess of traffic in Rome, the route takes at least as many minutes. With an angel riding shotgun and a German NATO Major at the wheels, it took less than 20. It was a toss up which one of them contributed most to breaking the land speed record.
"Really?" Dorian asked, fascinated and a little shaken by the revelation. "Hell has Beethoven? I never would have guessed! But why?"
He carried the box that the devil had provided - lead and iron, specially cursed. The object within, having marinated in Vatican Holiness for years upon ends, had almost knocked out Crowley when Dorian had finally exited with his trophy.
"Nothing personal," the devil assured him. "It just works out that way. Heaven has Elgar and Liszt. And the best choreographers."
"Strange. And no pitchforks? I'm almost disappointed. Well, well. So, you'll give me a lift back up to France now?" Not that he exactly looked forward to hearing even more of Beethoven's I Want It All, vocals by F. Mercury.
"Might as well. Perhaps I could tempt you with another deal, even. I happen to know the whereabouts of some da Vinci sketches that--"
The angel had blabbered on about guns not going to be of any use - "Though current thinking does favour guns. They do add weight to moral arguments. In the right hands, of course, you understand." - but Klaus had decided to go with what he knew. He knew his Magnum.
At first he was really concerned that the demon - apparently this Crowley character was a demon, not at all a devil - had made Dorian steal the Pope again. The first time had been disaster enough. But there was no mat slung over Dorian's shoulder - and Klaus reflected again on how strong the fop must really be to carry a chubby Pope that way for so long. Luckily, this time the thief carried only a small square box.
"Put your hands where I can see them!" he ordered.
"Klaus!" the fop cried out, with one of his "I'm so glad to see you - let's have sex!"-smiles.
"Shut up and step away from the demon!" Not an order NATO had ever taught him during his training courses. To his relief, the thief actually obeyed. By walking up to him instead, which hadn't been Klaus's intention, but at least the thief had moved.
"Crowley!" the angel to his right said sternly.
"Aziraphale!" the demon protested with a slight whine to his voice. "You're not supposed to be here at all!"
"I'm very disappointed with you, my dear boy. And what on Earth are you up to? Major von dem Eberbach, I do believe you can put away that gun now. To be inconveniently discorporated is a bit of a bother, but it won't really help either way."
Klaus reluctantly holstered his Magnum, even if inconvenient discorporation had sounded like a rather good idea to him. "Yeah. Dieb, what the fuck are you two up to? At least not Popenapping again, but what the fuck is in that box?"
"I was only saving your soul!" the Brit said. "I was going to give it back to you. It was romantic!"
"Idiot! My soul is safe and sound and in no bloody need of saving by the likes of you!"
The Brit blinked. "But Crowley said--"
"I lied," the demon interrupted smoothly. "Devil, remember? Father of Lies and so on. Quite famous for it, actually. That pretty little bauble is a magic marble I stole from Aziraphale’s Do It Yourself Amateur Magician Set. Oh, for Go-- For Sa-- Oh, for someone's sake, just gimme the box."
The dark-haired demon - who also sounded rather British, and didn't that explain a lot if both Heaven and Hell were located in England? - looked a bit petulant. He held out a hand to the thief. Dorian still sputtered, but let him take it. Then the demon turned towards the angel.
"Crowley?" the angel asked, sounding a bit concerned now. "What is that?"
The packet was thrust towards the angel. "--you."
Aziraphale blinked several times. "For me? But whatever for? What is it?"
Klaus noticed that a faint rosiness had appeared on the demon's cheeks. "Day after tomorrow."
"Day after-- Oh!" The angel took a step back and - eyes huge - looked down at the still offered package. "Crowley? You didn't tempt this nice gentleman into breaking into the Vatican to steal a Valentine's Gift for me, did you?"
The answer sounded mostly like a sibilant sound on the lines of "ssssss". Then the packet was thrust out again, very determinedly.
This time, the angel took the packet, but continued to stare at it. Sudden excitement flushed his fair face. "For me?" he said, rather unnecessarily in Klaus’s opinion. "Is it a book? Is it a book? Is it the third part of The Great Romance? Is it a First Edition Harry Potter? Is it a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls? Not that I covet! Angels do not covet! Is it The Secrets Of Angling?"
"Just open the blessed box, angel!"
And so the angel did, slowly lifting the lid off the box. Klaus noted that the demon took two quick steps back and pulled his gun again, ready for anything.
"Oooooh!" the angel ooohed joyously. "Crowley!"
From the box the angel took up ... something, which Klaus was at a total loss at identifying. Whatever it was, it shone faintly. The demon took another step back and looked an almost snake-like green.
"A Blessed Feathercleaner Set! Crowley! However did you know there was a Blessed Feathercleaner Set in the Vatican? But, oh - Crowley? Oh dear, I'm so sorry my dear boy."
The angel wiggled his fingers in a, in Klaus's opinion, rather silly, queer gesture. A second later the faint glow of the Blessed Feathercleaner Set receded and the demon stood up straighter and took a step closer again.
"Thanks, angel. Bloody holiness. Sssssss. You don't recognize it?"
"Reco-- Oh! But Crowley! It's my old Blessed Feathercleaner Set! I thought I lost it in the 1500s!"
"You did. Some priest or saint must have found it and realised what it was. You're always complaining that your new set doesn't comb your primaries properly like the old one did. So I started looking for it."
"Oh Crowley!" Aziraphale smiled in a way that even Klaus could only describe as beatific - and no one does beatific like an angel. Then he went up to the demon.
The words, "You old snake," had never been said more lovingly. And then the angel kissed the demon.
When an angel loves a demon very, very much - or at least, when an angel is very, very happy - things happen.
A flock of pure, white doves rose from St. Peter's Square. Statues sang in the Vatican. A pair of priceless red diamond ear clips spontaneously appeared in Dorian's pocket, where he would find them later that night, next to the trinket he stole for himself in the Vatican. For a full minute there was peace on Earth and everyone was truly happy.
"The angel is gayer than you are," Klaus remarked to Dorian. He was feeling rather good about everything, all things considered.
The demon, with a rather interesting blush on his face, was hissing in the back of his throat and kissing the angel back.
"Awww, but they do make such a lovely couple," Dorian said and sniffed slightly. "Opposites attract, you know." Somehow he had managed to sneak close enough to put an arm around Klaus's back and Klaus just couldn't find the energy to break said arm just yet.
"Let me tempt you to lunch at the Ritz," the demon said when the two came up for air. The angel beamed at him. "We can take the Bentley up."
A weight appeared in Klaus's chest pocket and an automatic check proved it to be a new envelope with Lufthansa's encircled crane in flight. Apparently, the Bentley was a two-entity transport. He snorted.
"Klaus ...?" said Dorian and Klaus turned to see what the fop wanted now, then. The other man gazed at him, looking a bit shy. Then he held out a hand. "Happy Valentine's Day."
In the palm of his hand lay a strange-looking sphere, like a ball of iron.
"The devil said that it was your soul. He lied about that too, but ... I thought ... perhaps you would like it anyway?" His smile was small, but hopeful.
"He's a demon," Klaus corrected absentmindedly. He took the sphere and lifted it. To his surprise, colours flared up from its depth. He glanced at Dorian again, who looked very pleased that Klaus had taken the ... whatever it was. Klaus made a quick decision and handed it back. When Dorian's face started to fall he explained: "You're the one who likes those colourful baubles anyway. You could ... keep it safe for me."
And maybe Dorian did look just a hint beatific as well, even if he was certainly no angel.
"I'll keep it safe," Dorian promised sincerely. "And ... perhaps you could come and visit it? If you wanted?" He cleared his throat quickly, as if not wanting to give Klaus time to refuse. "So ... Happy Valentine's Day, then?"
Well, he did have three days off, didn't he? And both tickets had been to Heathrow. "Whatever," he answered. "I guess."
Happy Valentine's Day. Miracles do happen.
Back to Anne-Li's Slash Pages