[identity profile] goe-mod.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] go_exchange
Title: GOING… GOING… GONE!!
Recipient:  [livejournal.com profile] hoshi_ryo
Pairing: Aziraphale and Crowley, an assortment of extras.
Rating: General.
The Prompt: Aziraphale finds out that a recently-deceased collector of rare books has died and his collection is being sold.
Warnings: None. Perhaps a vague suggestion of M/M relationship if you squint sideways after a few drinks.


HAPPY HOLIDAYS,  hoshi_ryo. Apologies for the delay - family trauma yet again.




"The point IS…" muttered Crowley, experiencing a brief feeling of deja-vu whilst holding his brandy glass up to the light and swirling it with a slightly unsteady degree of ceremony. Aziraphale glanced up from his newspaper and squinted owlishly across the table at his companion.

"Hmmm?"

"The point is… dolphins!"

"Haven't we been down this path before?" The angel raised a sculptured eyebrow and made to return to his reading, pausing only to refill his glass and take a good slug of the dark amber liquid.

"No. Well, yes, but no. I mean… Why?" Crowley leant forward and waggled an index finger vaguely in the angel's direction, causing his drink to slosh violently up the side of the glass. Aziraphale blinked and the drink subsided into calmness. It would be a shame to waste half a glass of the best quality brandy, besides, the damask tablecloth was clean on that day…

"Why what?"

"Why did He make 'em?"

"Did He need a reason? You could ask why He made anything… Not that one should question His …"

"No… the point is… Why create something with a huge brain which could give most humans a good run for their money in the intelligence stakes, then stick it in a body which is shaped like a fish? Hardly fair, is it? I mean, how many times do you think that some wise dolphin has come up with an amazing invention or idea and decided to patent it, only to be thwarted at the last moment 'oh bugger, no hands, no opposable thumb…'. Eh?" Crowley jabbed a finger on the table for effect. "Did He have a surplus of fish-shapes to use up, or maybe He hadn't got to grips with the idea of legs at that point. Maybe He was just having an experimental moment… Angel? Er, ANGEL???"

Crowley became slowly aware that his musings were falling upon deaf ears. Deaf and sober. Aziraphale was engrossed in an article in the paper and had the expression on his face which Crowley recognised of old. Books were going to be involved somewhere, he just knew it. He sighed and gave his glass of brandy a rueful smile, downed its contents in one, then shuddered as he slipped back into the world of sobriety.

****

"So, are you planning to explain your sudden fascination with the news or am I supposed to sit here watching you?" Crowley said, a slight note of irritation creeping into his voice. Aziraphale looked across at him apologetically and passed the folded newspaper across the table, waving a well manicured finger airily towards the page.

"Sorry, my dear. This article caught my eye."

Crowley pulled the paper towards him and looked down at the page.

"Christ's Image On A Pretzel Proved To Be A Hoax?" he read.

"No, no, no!! THIS article!" The angel tapped the page tetchily. Crowley looked at the area where the angel's finger had halted. The article read:

"The death was announced yesterday of the renowned collector of antiquarian books and documents, Mr Gareth Price, at his home in West Wales. Mr Price lived a reclusive existence during the last 10 years of his life, seldom leaving his home, which, it is understood, was mainly dedicated to the storage of his vast collection. It is believed that part of the collection will be sold at auction on a date which is yet to be finalised."

Crowley looked up slowly into the suddenly eager face of the angel.

"Is it entirely angelic to be showing such glee at someone's demise?"

"Oh, I'm not happy at his passing. Of course that is most regrettable, but that collection!! The chances of this sort of collection coming up for sale is… Erm… sorry." Aziraphale blushed but he didn't need to say any more. His eyebrows were raised in a questioning manner. Crowley groaned inwardly. He could feel a road-trip approaching.

"Why go to all the effort of a long trip across the country to somewhere which is going to be wet, foggy and full of unpronounceable place names when you could do it all on line from the comfort of your own sofa?" Crowley asked, knowing before he had finished the sentence what the response was likely to be.

Aziraphale managed to produce an expression which summed up his feelings on the matter in a single look. "On line?" he said, frowning and reaching for the brandy bottle again.

"Yes. A lot of the auction houses have internet bidding these days. If you know what you want then it's simple to do. Saves a long journey. "

"Oh, I don't know if I would want to do that. I prefer to see the books myself. Besides, I can't see how it would work… How would the auctioneer see my hand go up to bid?"

Crowley opened his mouth to respond but suspected that any attempt at an explanation would be futile, given the angel's tendency to shun technological advancement until it had been around for at least 15 years. He sighed, and resigned himself to the inevitable journey. Like a drowning man reaching for a piece of flotsam, he took hold of the bottle of brandy and poured himself another glass.

"I'll take my tablet anyway." muttered Crowley.

"Oh I am sorry my dear. I didn't realise that you were unwell. You don't need to succumb to these human ailments you know."

"Eh?" Crowley squinted at the angel and tried to decide which one of the two Aziraphales had spoken.

"Whatever it is that has necessitated you taking a tablet…"

Crowley allowed his forehead to hit the table… It made quite a resounding thud.


****

Two weeks later, Crowley walked into the bookshop to find Aziraphale virtually fizzing with excitement and brandishing a glossy booklet which he waved enthusiastically at Crowley.

"It's here!! Arrived this morning." he said, waving the booklet again. "Aberystwyth, 11th of November - sale commencing at 11am." Aziraphale beamed.

Crowley managed a feeble smile. He'd hoped that the sale would have been cancelled, or that the angel would have changed his mind about attending, but clearly this was not to be.

Aziraphale looked at him with a slightly apologetic expression.

"I'm sorry." he muttered. "I know this isn't your idea of fun. Don't feel that you have to…"

Crowley opened his mouth to speak. His mind was creating a sentence which ran along the lines of "Well, now you mention it, I was hoping to catch up on a few things which I've been putting off for too long", but his mouth swerved to avoid the link to his brain and he heard his own voice saying "No, it's fine. I've nothing planned for around then."

"Thank you." Aziraphale looked genuinely relieved. "Viewing is from the 7th to the 9th of November at the house and by appointment only. I'll need to call the auction rooms and arrange a pass. It'll be like a bit of a holiday!"

"Are you actually going to buy something?" Crowley asked.

"Well. This is the one I'd like to get hold of." Aziraphale pointed to one of the entries in the catalogue and Crowley groaned inwardly when he saw the description.

"Prophecies of the Hermit of Ceredigion?"

"Indeed! This is probably the only time it will appear in a sale like this. There are only five copies believed to be in existence. This one, two which are in vaults in museums and two in private collections but which may have been destroyed during natural disasters in those regions. Nobody is sure."

"Ngh." muttered Crowley, looking hopefully around for the last bottle of brandy.

****


The day dawned bright but with a chill breeze blowing loose leaves along the pavements and causing the early morning commuters to pull their collars high around their necks and refrain from dawdling as they headed about their business. Winter was just around the corner, and if the forecasters were to be believed, it was going to be a cold one.

In the Soho bookshop, Crowley tapped his fingers irritably on the counter as Aziraphale went through his pre-departure list for a third time.

"Angel, we're only going to Wales and only for four days."

"One should always be prepared." muttered Aziraphale, as he checked his supply of carefully sharpened pencils and added a fourth new notepad to his travel bag then stood gazing at it thoughtfully. After receiving the sales catalogue, the angel had spent a large amount of his time bent over it making small pencil marks and notations in its margins. He checked that the precious catalogue was in the case and frowned.

"Okay, I think that you're prepared enough. Come on." Crowley grabbed Aziraphale's travel bag hastily and headed for the door in a determined manner.

"But… but…" Aziraphale squeaked, gripped by the fear that he had forgotten something of major importance and dithering by the counter with a look of anxiety on his face.

"But me no but…buts." said Crowley, swinging the door open and heading purposefully for the waiting Bentley with Aziraphale trailing in his wake. He threw the bag onto the back seat with a triumphant hiss before going to get the passenger door for the angel. Aziraphale was halfway into the car when Crowley, with a wicked smirk, muttered "Did you turn the gas off?"

Crowley just managed to grab the angel's sleeve as he executed a rapid about-turn and started to head back to the shop.

"It was a JOKE, Angel!! You don't even have gas!"

****

As journeys went, it was quite uneventful, so long as you discounted the small misunderstanding between the driver of a large articulated lorry and a certain Bentley driver as they approached the slip-road for one of the service stations. Crowley seemed quite oblivious to the verbal deluge which found its way out of the lorry's open window and drifted angrily into Aziraphale's left ear, accompanied by a few not so subtle hand gestures which Aziraphale had never used in his entire existence, but which were graphic enough to be easily understood by anyone. He sank further down into his seat and, for once, hoped that Crowley would speed up and leave the irate lorry driver far behind.

Eventually, they passed a large sign announcing "Welcome to Wales. Croeso i Gymru" and Crowley glanced surreptitiously sideways at the apparently relaxed angel and gave a quiet, hissing snigger.

"I don't suppose you often get a Principality passing through the Principality." he said, noting that Aziraphale was frowning and staring studiously at the passing scenery.

Crowley gave a melodramatic sigh, ensuring that he had Aziraphale's attention.

"You know, it seems like ages since I was last in the Principality…" he mused, wistfully, risking another sideways glance and seeing Aziraphale actually biting his lip to refrain from comment. "In fact, while we're on the subject…"

Aziraphale turned and fixed Crowley with a withering glare. "As you are well aware, Wales has not been correctly described as a Principality since 1536, and I do hope that this particular vein of humour isn't going to continue for the rest of the journey!"

Crowley shrugged and lapsed into silence. Wretched angels, always so touchy.

****

An hour later, it was getting gloomy as the Bentley wound its way along a narrow road across open moorland. Rain had started to fall as they passed through a small town which boasted a handful of shops and a memorial clock tower which appeared to have just been thrown into the middle of a road intersection, but up on the mountain pass it had started to hit the windscreen and leave little chunks of ice in the centre of the droplet. A mile or so further on and it was starting to fall as snow, already covering the roadside with a fine dusting, and causing the rugged hill sheep to huddle together in sheltered crevices along the road. Crowley shivered and willed the car heater up a few degrees.

"Are you sure this is the right road?" he asked, gritting his teeth as he felt the Bentley's tyres fight for grip on one of the corners.

"Erm, I thought it was. I'm sure I saw a signpost saying Aberystwyth this way. Via the mountain road."

"Implying that there was another route of a more civilised nature maybe?" Crowley swerved to avoid two sheep who had decided to break camp and head to the other side of the road, pausing in the middle to stop and stare at the oncoming vehicle with mild confusion. A vintage Bentley on the mountain road was unusual enough even for the sheep to be surprised by its appearance through the low cloud and increasingly heavy snow.

They carried on, bleak moors leading to more bleak moors, passing darkly sinister old ruins of long-abandoned mine workings looming out of the swirling clouds until the road started to drop down and the rain took over from the snow again.

"We must be approaching somewhere - look, the road has a white line down the middle!" Aziraphale said, helpfully.

"Actually, it does look slightly familiar. Ah, no wonder." The Bentley came to a junction where a sign announced that they had reached Devil's Bridge.

"Your lot's handiwork?" asked the angel.

"Not one of my best efforts. Another of those missions which His Infernal Majesty volunteered me for. 'Build a bridge and claim a soul.' they said. I told them that it wouldn't work, but would they listen. Never take humans for granted, especially old Welsh women with a hungry dog and a bread loaf…" 1

"Seems like a lot of effort for a soul. Ah, we go left here. Should soon be there."

****

The next morning, Crowley was woken at what he considered to be a ludicrously early hour by the window being thrown open and the noise of what sounded like a hundred gulls screeching at top volume. It was actually only five of them squabbling over a discarded chip packet containing three soggy chips and a pie crust, but they were determined to make their presence felt. Aziraphale was already dressed and clutching his catalogue and notebook with intent. Crowley glared the window shut and reached for a cup which had just become full of good quality coffee, before willing himself dressed and ready to face the day.

The house, once they arrived, was exactly as Crowley had imagined. Hallways and large rooms made small by the stacks of books against every wall, the air heavy with a scent of old books, dust and leather with a residual whiff of aged feline. The books to be included in the sale were in two of the larger rooms, under the careful eye of the auction house employees who were armed with white silk gloves, ready to hand them over to any prospective buyer who might want to handle the more valuable rarities. Crowley followed the eager angel as he moved from desk to desk, shelf to shelf, making notes in the catalogue, nodding occasionally to himself and …

… vanishing suddenly.

Crowley stopped in his tracks and performed a theatrical double-take before retracing his steps and finally finding Aziraphale lurking behind a large book-case looking decidedly uncomfortable.

"Angel? What are you…….."

"Sssshhhhh!!" Aziraphale flapped his hands dramatically at Crowley before grabbing his arm and dragging him behind the book-case. "Has he gone?"

"Has who gone? Angel what are you on about?"

"The chap in the tweed suit and the awful hat."

"Which one? That description fits around 70% of the people in the room, including the chief auctioneer." Crowley frowned and peeked carefully round the shelf, just as a large, tweed-clad man strode round the corner and stood staring at Aziraphale and Crowley with a leering grin on his face.

"Ah, Fell. Thought it was you skulking around the dusty tomes in the dark. And you've brought a friend too. How nice. Oh dear, I wasn't interrupting anything, was I? " The man managed to give the words 'friend' and 'nice' the sort of overtones that dripped with suggestive distaste. The man ignored Aziraphale's exasperated intake of breath and bull-dozered onwards. "Are you here to buy, Fell? Of course, you will be. After the 'Hermit prophecies', eh?"

"Good day, Geoffrey. I'm here to view several items, actually." muttered Aziraphale, tetchily. The man was insufferable. Insufferable, but totally accurate, which annoyed the angel even more.

"Well, you needn't bother on that count, Fell. I'm here on behalf of a client who wants that book and who has bottomless resources to hand to acquire it."

Aziraphale shrugged. "I am not without resources myself." he snapped and turned to study the shelf of books. The man gave a short bark of laughter which made everyone in the room turn their heads, then walked away, shaking his head and chuckling to himself.

Crowley watched him walk away then turned to Aziraphale who was scowling at the front cover of a travel book which he had plucked at random from the shelf. "Who was that?" he queried.

"Oh, that was Geoffrey Harrington. He's an antiquarian book dealer from Kent. We've crossed swords before. Seems to be able to acquire books and ephemera for his clients even when said articles seem beyond their means."

"You mean he's a bit on the dodgy side?" Crowley's interest was piqued.

"I wouldn't say that… Leastways not in earshot." replied the angel. He gave a sigh and replaced the book on the shelf. "Well, I've seen all I need to see. Let's get back to the hotel."


****

The day of the sale itself dawned wet and cold, with a strong wind that whipped up the spray from the sea and spattered it against the windows of the Bentley as angel and demon sat inside it overlooking the lighthouse, waiting for the auction room doors to open to the public. A row of gulls were lined up along the railings waiting hopefully for an early morning hand out, but after five minutes with no bread crusts or stale sandwiches appearing, they gave up and drifted on the wind, heading towards the town where they knew they would be able to mug someone for a lump of hot sausage roll or a bacon baguette. Aziraphale glanced at his watch for what seemed like the hundredth time in as many seconds as Crowley started the engine and drove slowly to the auction room where he parked outside, much to the delight of a bored traffic warden who was mildly confused when he went to hand out a parking ticket and found that the double yellow lines and 'no parking' notices had vanished to leave a single parking space of exactly the right size for a vintage Bentley. Crowley hopped out and gave the bewildered man a cheeky wave before heading up the steps and into the large auction rooms where Aziraphale was already at the main desk acquiring a bidding paddle which he waved at Crowley with a grin.

"Not very appropriate, Angel. Bidder number 666!" said Crowley, smirking and picking up one of the catalogues from the stack by the desk. Aziraphale looked at his paddle with a frown.

"It's upside down, Crowley. My number is 999."

"Ah. In case of emergency wave your paddle? Fire, police or ambulance?"

"Very droll, Crowley. Now let's get ourselves a decent seat."



Crowley had always liked auction rooms. They provided endless scope for mischief and low-grade wickedness of the sort which he enjoyed, a rolling cascade of mild malevolence which could start with something as simple as an accidental purchase of a totally useless item due to a novice attendee waving at a friend or swatting at a fly, leading to the inevitable argument with the sale-room accounts desk and the final failed explanation as to why there was a large stuffed trout on the roof-rack of the car, doled out to a bewildered spouse whose final words before the sale had been "For God's sake DON'T buy anything!"

He glanced around the room. There were several prime targets. Somehow though, he couldn't quite bring himself to create his particular brand of chaos at a book auction with Aziraphale in attendance… It just felt wrong. There was also the fact that as he was scanning the room, he felt Aziraphale's eyes boring into him and turned to find the angel already wearing a disapproving look which made even a small suggestion of demonic influences evaporate into the air and fade. Crowley adopted a look of wounded innocence which earned a roll of the eyes and a slight smile from the angel. "He knows me too well." thought Crowley, dragging his attention back to his catalogue and throwing himself onto a vacant sofa to watch the proceedings.

Aziraphale sat down and looked anxiously around the room, muttering something about it possibly not being the best place to sit if you were bidding, but Crowley studiously ignored the comments and stretched his long legs out in front of him, closing his eyes and wriggling deeper into the seat. Aziraphale fervently hoped that Crowley wouldn't fall asleep as he had the tendency to hiss as he snored, and if he started to dream he had been known to produce some rather unusual (some might say downright terrifying) noises.

It wasn't long before Crowley was starting to fidget and finally turned to the angel and said that he was going for a stroll to stretch his legs and grab them both a coffee. Aziraphale nodded without taking his eyes off the auctioneer who was currently working hard to drag bids for a very tatty first edition war novel, arms flailing like a windmill and eyebrows raised appealingly towards any potential bidders. Finally, feeling sorry for both the book and the auctioneer, Aziraphale put in a ludicrously low bid and the hammer fell so fast that it was a total blur.

More lots passed and Aziraphale was rapidly turning into a sort of rest home for tired books, acquiring several more unwanted bargains. It had now become practice for the auctioneer, calling up a lot which he knew was unlikely to sell, to start the bidding with a low price accompanied by a pleading look towards the angel and a look of sheer relief when Aziraphale's hand rose to save another victim of the ravages of time and mis-use. The angel had just taken ownership of a very tired, leather bound trilogy when he was aware of a man at his side, leaning down and tugging urgently at his sleeve. The man seemed very agitated, dabbing a sweaty brow with a large yellow handkerchief which he then stuffed hastily into his top pocket.

"Mr Fell! Mr Fell. Can you come with me? There's been an accident outside - your friend - a car hit him… Please come quickly!!" The man tugged at his sleeve and after a moment's dithering, Aziraphale pushed his way through the crowd towards the exit door in pursuit of the man.

When he reached the car park there was a small crowd around a prone figure in front of a car - a man, tall, dark, slim and wearing a good suit and sunglasses. Aziraphale could tell from a distance that it wasn't Crowley (the suit was smart but off-the-peg and the make of sunglasses was far too inferior for the demon to be seen wearing) but he couldn't just leave the scene if someone was injured so he hurried to the car to see if he could assist in any way. He looked around to find the agitated man to let him know that this wasn't actually his friend and to suggest that he went to let the auctioneers know that there had been an incident, but the man had vanished. The angel knelt down by the accident victim and reached out a hand to gently touch his arm. "Odd," he thought as he allowed his power to trickle into the man to assess the damage, "no sign of any injuries at all. Not even a bruise where the car would have hit him." Aziraphale did a quick re-check in case he'd missed something, but again his check came back clear with no injuries. The angel straightened up and was just contemplating what to do next when the man on the floor gave a loud groan and tried to sit up.

****

In the auction room, Crowley had returned from his saunter and headed for the sofa armed with coffee, only to find that Aziraphale wasn't there but that his scarf and sales catalogue were parked neatly on his seat. He scanned the room before sitting down, picking up the catalogue and flicking through it. The digital display above the rostrum announced that they were on lot number 73. Crowley frowned and looked around again before going back to watching the auctioneer who was trying to sell a grubby family bible which was not attracting any bids. For some reason, the auctioneer kept looking hopefully towards where he was sitting and looked utterly crestfallen when he finally had to withdraw the book as unsold with no bids. The next seven lots followed in the same way. There was a flurry of activity at the rostrum then the auctioneer leant towards the microphone.

"Moving on now and I'm afraid that the next four lots have been withdrawn from the sale so the next lot up is lot number 85…"

****

"You really should stay still until the medics arrive and have a look at you." said a woman in the circle of onlookers in the car park as the previously prone young man struggled to his feet with a series of theatrical yelps and groans. He swayed slightly and caught Aziraphale's arm for support, gripping it tightly.

****

"Now we move on to lot number 86, a book of the prophecies of The Hermit of Ceredigion and part of the estate of the late Mr Gareth Price. A very rare item, condition as seen. Come on now, I'm opening the bidding and do I hear £650,000? No? £500,000 to get started then? Thank you, Sir." The auctioneer smiled and gesticulated towards the back of the room. Crowley swivelled round in his chair anxiously. Surely the angel would have been back by now.

"Are you bidding, Sir?" A man whose nose had itched at the wrong moment, looked horrified and shook his head hastily.

"£550,000 in the room… New bidder… £600,000 telephone bidder"

Crowley looked down at Aziraphale's possessions and breathed a sigh of relief. The bidding paddle wasn't there. The angel must have moved to bid from somewhere else in the room.

The bids kept coming, the price creeping upwards until it reached a level where the whole auction room was holding its breath, waiting in anticipation as one bidder in the room and another on the telephone battled it out. Even the auctioneer was looking a little shell-shocked as the bid values climbed further. The pauses between bids were getting longer as the telephone bidder started to approach their limit and was clearly calculating whether to keep going or not. Eventually, the auction house employee on the 'phone looked back at the auctioneer and shook her head to indicate that her client had stopped bidding. There was a collective sigh from the people in the room. The auctioneer stood with gavel raised.

"Are you sure now? I'm selling and no mistake. Going once… twice… SOLD… Mr Harrington, bidder number 884. Thank you, Sir. Now, the next lot number 87 is a box of ephemera dating from the early 19th century - who'll start me on this one?"

Behind his sunglasses, Crowley's amber eyes snapped wide open. Harrington? He stood up to look for the angel just at the moment that a flustered Aziraphale appeared at his elbow.

"What happened to you?"

"Long story - I'll tell you in a while. Which lot are we up to?"

"Erm…" said Crowley, pointing hesitantly to the digital display which now indicated that they were on lot number 91. Aziraphale groaned and sank onto the seat with head in hands, the picture of abject misery. Crowley looked across the room to where Geoffrey Harrington was standing, deep in conversation on his mobile 'phone. He looked up and saw Crowley watching, gave him a smug grin and a wave, then turned away again. Crowley watched him walk out towards the entrance hall and saw him smile and approach a tall, slim man in a dark suit who was leaning against the door frame, twirling a pair of sunglasses in his hand. Harrington delved into an inside pocket of his jacket and produced something which he held out to the second man. Crowley squinted to try to get a better view and could just make out a large roll of banknotes which disappeared rapidly into a jacket pocket before the tall man turned and left in some haste, accompanied by a second man who was constantly dabbing his brow with a yellow handkerchief.

Crowley dropped onto the seat next to the mournful angel and sat in awkward silence for a while. Aziraphale placed a few more very subdued bids for other books, but after a while announced that he'd finished his bidding and suggested settling his account, collecting his purchases and heading back to the hotel. Crowley agreed and assisted Aziraphale in bundling the new purchases onto the back seat of the Bentley, thinking to himself that it was going to take months to get the smell of fusty old books out of the upholstery. As they drove, Aziraphale recounted the entire saga of the 'accident' to an increasingly interested Crowley.

"…and suddenly," he concluded, "he just said he felt fine and walked off as if nothing had happened. Thanks to him, I missed that wretched book!!"

Crowley hissed, his mind playing back the events after the book had been sold and the facts given during the angel's account of what had happened. He frowned and made a discreet gesture. In a jacket pocket belonging to a tall, slim man, a large bundle of used banknotes glowed for a moment, then changed. The owner of said jacket and his accomplice would be rather surprised when they decided to count the money and found all the notes apart from the outside ones were just blank scraps of paper. Mr Geoffrey Harrington also was going to be a bit shocked when he got a visit in the early hours of the next morning by an angry and belligerent tall, slim chap in a smart suit accompanied by a large friend who was built like the proverbial brick outhouse and looked keen to let his knuckles do the talking…………

Crowley stole a sideways look at the angel who was staring wistfully at the catalogue. "You know, maybe this is a good thing. After all, just think what happened the last time you got your hands on a rare book of prophecy… Sorry it was a bit of a wasted trip though"

"Oh, it wasn't all bad." Aziraphale said, brightening slightly. "I managed to pick up a few items which I didn't ever expect to see on the open market plus a couple of very rare editions which need some restoration work before being sold on at a substantial profit"

"You mean before being squirreled away onto your private shelves, never to see the light of day ever again!!"

"Er, well. Oh look, a tea shop. Let's pop in for a cuppa and a scone."

"How convenient." Crowley pulled into the parking area with a barely concealed grin after the angel's abrupt change of subject, but decided not to pursue the matter.

****

A few days later, Crowley walked into Aziraphale's bookshop to find the angel in the back room, sat at his desk and totally absorbed in his work. Delicate fingers worked deftly to repair one of the tired old books which had come back with them from Wales. Under the angel's ministrations, the book was being given new life and a future which no longer included being hurled onto the rubbish pile or used to start a fire on November 5th.

Aziraphale finished placing a small section of gold leaf on the spine and looked up. He looked a little sheepish.

"Crowley, dear boy, could you just do me one favour?"

"Er, I expect so, or I can try anyway. It isn't to take you to another auction, is it?"

"No, don't worry!" Aziraphale reached into a drawer of his desk and pulled out a tablet, still in its box, which he waved at Crowley with an embarrassed look on his face.

"I er… I wondered if you would show me how to use this contraption to do internet bidding…….."



The End

1 Ref to the story of the bridge and the woman in the tale. According to legend, it was too difficult for mortals to build a bridge over the local river, so the Devil offered to build it, with one stipulation - that he could have, in return, the soul of the first living thing to cross the bridge. This was agreed, and the Devil built the bridge, but was tricked by an old woman. She threw some bread over the bridge and her dog ran across to get it, thus being the first living thing to cross the bridge and denying the Devil a human soul.


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