[identity profile] goe-mod.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] go_exchange
Title: Secrets of the Universe
Recipient: demonsadvocate

Beta: meganbobness
Characters/Pairing: Some background A/C
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Crowley finds himself summoned by an overzealous teenager with a head for business.  Aziraphale ends up waiting at home, because after surviving the Almost-Apocalypse nothing really scares you anymore.

Mari had found the old book at the public library, of all places. She had a weekend volunteer gig there and was shelving endless carts of heavy old encyclopedias and other boring stuff when she’d found it: a worn black book the size of the serving tray. It had no title on the cover, but the inside was full of crazy woodcut illustrations featuring symbols and spells and monsters and everything Mari wished was real. She knew she was supposed to be over ghost stories and fairy tales, but she secreted the book away into her backpack and took it home anyway.

She spent the next week pouring over the crêpey pages, practically memorizing each spell and symbol. She wanted to copy some of them down in a notebook, but something seemed wrong about that. She read it front to back, twice, staying up late into the night, draining the battery on her phone to read under the covers.

It took a few weeks, but Mari finally convinced herself to try out one of the spells.  It was one of the less complicated ones, but even it promised to summon a minor demon. Plus, it didn’t involve killing any small animals, so it seemed like the best one for a first try. One day, when her parents weren’t home, she cleared a space on her bedroom floor and drew out a large, squiggly sigil in white chalk. She lit some tall black candles she’d bought from the dollar store and laid out a glass of wine. After doing some chanting (during which she almost gave up just because she felt so stupid) Mari was left to wait… for probably nothing.

She waited. She reread the spell and confirmed she had done it right. She checked her phone for texts. After about ten minutes she decided to give up the ghost and do her best to forget she’d even attempted something so dumb when the wine started to smoke, giving off a strong odor. The liquid started to boil vigorously, causing the glass to shake. It bubbled for a few seconds and suddenly evaporated with a puff of steam. The white chalk lines began to pulse with a red glow that grew stronger and stronger until FWOOSH! The lines gave off a plume of smoke and a blinding flash. Mari covered her eyes and mouth, coughing. She didn’t dare look up until she heard a muffled thump, like something heavy and soft had just hit the floor.

There was a demon in her room, standing in the center of the sigil and looking around with a bewildered expression.

“What the fuck,” said the demon, who didn’t look so much like a demon as a naked dude. He was tall, dark, and looked youngish. Maybe he was Indian, Mari thought, her thoughts oddly disconnected from her shocked-stiff body. He was also, as she’d noticed, very, very naked. Mari squeaked and covered her eyes, her cheeks burning hot. She’d never actually seen a naked man in the flesh before. She didn’t even have any brothers to walk in on in the bathroom. Then she remembered she’d actually summoned a demon and peeked out from behind her fingers.

The demon was still standing there, naked, looking around, naked, taking in the band posters covering Mari’s walls and her vanity decked out with pictures of beautiful girls with perfect contouring. Naked, naked, naked. Dear God, was that what an erect penis looked like? Sweet Jesus, why did he have a boner? So gross.

“Hey, kid,” said the demon, “Hey, mind telling me what in the name of – of Whoever is happening here? Is that a summoning sigil?

Mari, her hands pressed to her burning cheeks, glanced down at the symbol she’d drawn on the floor. It was no longer glowing, but it wasn’t white chalk lines anymore. Now it was burned right into the wood, smoking slightly. Her mom was going to straight-up murder her.

“I – I—“ Mari choked out a noise, her eyes prickling fiercely and Oh my God, this is not the time to start crying, idiot. “I didn’t think it was actually gonna work!”

“And yet you did it anyway. Good job,” the demon sighed and rubbed his eyes. He was really good looking. Too bad he was a demon and, how could she forget, naked in her bedroom. “Okay, first things first, where did you get that sigil?”

“Um, in a… from a book?”

“What book, kid? Keep up, please,” he snapped his fingers briskly, which make his arm jerk, which made everything else kind of… jerk in time. Mari could not look away from the demon’s… business. The demon followed her gaze down and… “Oh. Sorry about that. I was right in the middle of… something. During which I was rudely interrupted. ” He made a strange movement with his fingers and then he was wearing a well-cut black suit over a crisp white shirt. He’d also materialized sunglasses. There was no flash, no poof, no anything. Suddenly he was just… wearing stuff. Then he carried on like nothing amazing had happened. “Anyway, I’m going to need that book.”

Mari dropped a hand to the tome, tucked up against her leg. “No!” she said, then froze. She’d seen Hellraiser. You didn’t just tell demons no. To her surprise, the demon did not proceed to rip her into tiny pieces, but sighed and rolled his eyes.

“Fine, what do you want for it?”

They looked at each other in silence for a bit. “What do I… want? You want to trade for it?”

“Trade, buy, whatever,” said the demon. “I don’t do the whole Soul for Unending Wealth or Beauty or Fame or things like that. I can do,” the demon seemed to think for a moment, then produced a slim black wallet from his pocket. He leafed through it for a moment, then continued, “five Hundred quid, how’s that?”

“Five hundred… what’s a quid?”

“A quid? Oh, wait… where are we right now?”

“Uh… my room? Oh, I mean, uh… we’re in my house. In Bellevue. Washington.”

“America? Damn, kiddo, you’ve got some chops. Be careful with those.” The demon raised his eyebrows and looked her over. “Anyway, five hundred dollars it is, then.”

He held out the bills to her, and Mari, in the same strange fit of chutzpah that made her try the stupid spell in the first place, swept up the book into her arms and backpedaled across the floor.

“I said no way! If this thing is for real, it’s worth more than a measly five-hundred bucks!”

The demon cocked its head at her, like a hawk, then grinned. “You’re right on that point. He tucked the money back into his wallet and stood for a moment, a finger to his mouth in contemplation. “How about this, I’ll trade you that book for… this book.”

In his hands was a large leather-bound tome, shiny and new-looking but with a strange symbol on the front: a large circle struck through with what looked like a capital I.

“No spells in this one, but it’ll help you make your own magic. I told you you have chops, I wasn’t lying about that. With the knowledge in this book you can take that brainpower and learn the secrets of the universe.”

“How do I know it’s the real deal?” Mari demanded, her eyes narrowing in suspicion.

“You’ll see, kid,” said the demon, and he looked down at her over his sunglasses, his eyes flashing like fire in the dim light of Mari’s bedroom. At that moment, Mari made a firm decision to take what she could get and get the demon out of her house ASAP.

Mari stood, the spell book still clasped to her chest. “And… it won’t open a portal to hell if I use it?” Mari asked skeptically. “Or… tear my skin off or something?”

“What? No,” the demon said, his mouth twisting in disgust. “That’s disgusting, I’m not giving something like that to a child. How old are you anyway, like ten?”

“I’m fifteen,” Mari scowled and held out a hand for the book. “I’ll take it,” she said.

The demon grinned and reached for the spell book.

“And the money.”

Now, the demon laughed. “I like the way you think. Here,” he said, stack of bills appearing in his free hand. He tucked it into the pages of the book he held and then offered it to Mari. She snatched it away from him, exerting quite a bit of force to hold it; it was very heavy. Feeling a strange combination of sick and relieved, she handed over the spell book.

“Done and done,” said the demon. “I’m serious about that book, kid. All the secrets of the universe in there. You study that thing, you won’t need magic anymore.”

“Wait, what... Mari started, but the demon was gone. She let out a long breath and stumbled over to her bed, her knees giving out and sprawling her across the mattress. After a minute of catching her breath, she tugged the bills out of the book and held them up to the light. The watermarks were all there, so the demon hadn’t cheated her that way. She giggled, hysterical, and well aware of it, at the thought of a honest to God demon giving her counterfeit money. A demon cheating people with fake bills. What else would a demon like that do? Create potholes to hold up rush-hour traffic?
She giggled again and took to examining the book in her lap. It looked like a magic book of some kind: it was certainly big enough. The circle symbol on the cover gleamed in gold, looking appropriately mysterious.

Mari opened the book to the first page.

“Son of a bitch,” she snarled and tossed the book aside, where it lay open to the title page:

Introduction to Physics: Understanding the Secrets of the Known Universe

When Crowley arrived back home a day or so later, having connived his way onto a first-class flight back to London, he found Aziraphale right where he’d left him… or, almost where he’d left him. He was no longer in Crowley’s bed, but was puttering around his sleek, brushed-chrome kitchen, making tea. He looked up with a start when Crowley blew back into the flat and collapsed dramatically on to the couch.

“Oh! Where have you been?” the angel asked, hands on his hips. He somehow managed to make a fluffy white bathrobe and bedhead look mildly intimidating.

“Getting you a present,” Crowley said, pulling the massive spellbook out of his coat. “Some girl in America managed to dig this up and was fooling around with summoning spells.”

“Oof, embarrassing. I still get hit with one of those every once in a while. Not very often, of course. I usually just do a memory-wipe or make them think it was all a dream.”

“You ruthless thing. I gave the girl five-hundred dollars and a physics book. Secrets of the Universe and all that.”

“That’s awful,” Aziraphale said, sounding delighted. He flipped through the book intently. “Oh, this is actually quite good…” He continued to peruse the pages, wandering back into the kitchen as he did so.

“I don’t suppose we could get back to, er…” Crowley gestured towards his crotch. Aziraphale returned with two cups of tea and settled next to him on the couch.

“Of course not, I have to enjoy my present first.”

“Ugh, fine,” Crowley said, sipping his tea, which miraculously became single-malt whiskey the instant it touched his lips. “But afterwards maybe we can see if there’s any good binding spells in that thing, har har.”

Aziraphale rolled his eyes but the devious smile on his face was quite promising. Maybe the past couple of days weren’t such a huge pain in the arse after all.

Date: 2017-01-10 01:08 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I really like your dialogue! This is a good fic.

Date: 2017-01-10 02:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] notaspacealien.livejournal.com
Oh!!! Secret author, this was funny the whole way through!! I can totally see Mari in my mind--every 2edgy4me fifteen year old girl with bandom posters up in her room and who squeals at the sight of nudity. Nice job!!

Date: 2017-01-10 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lunasong365.livejournal.com
I need this book to summon naked Crowley to my bedroom. But with my luck Aziraphale won't be so lackadaisical about it the 2nd time.

Date: 2017-01-10 11:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sous-le-saule.livejournal.com
Mind to lend it now and then, dear?

Great job, secret author, it was hilarious!

Date: 2017-01-10 06:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cursiella.livejournal.com
"what kind of man? NAKED!"

Hehehe, It was realy good, poor Aziraphale, imagine his reaction after Crowley vanished.
"what?!... o well *Opens book and keeps reading quite interested*"
Mari is a lucky one!. Would Crowley complain if asked to be a model for drawing, coff naked, what do you say?

Thank you for the fic :3.

Date: 2017-01-10 04:53 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is light and funny the whole fic through! And I like the implied AC, hehe ;)

Date: 2017-01-10 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bravinto (from livejournal.com)
hahahaha oh no XD Mari's reaction is so relatable tbh, being more struck by the fact that he's naked than he's a demon. I'm having teenage flashbacks.
Poor Crowley, though, it must have been so inconvenient XD
I love Aziraphale here, too, I'm glad we get to see what happened after Crowley returned home.

Date: 2017-01-11 01:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] demons-advocate.livejournal.com
Brilliant, thank you so much!!!

"He somehow managed to make a fluffy white bathrobe and bedhead look mildly intimidating." Conjured up a fantastic image (with fluffy slippers too).

Date: 2017-01-14 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] majinie.livejournal.com
This was amazing all the way through, but the end with Crowley giving the girl the secrets of the universe killed me. Absolutely perfect. Thank you so much for writing. xD

Date: 2017-01-19 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] irisbleufic.livejournal.com
This story is hilarious. It's got to be one of the top five funniest things I've ever seen posted in the Exchange, in fact. Beautiful job <3


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