Anyway, on to the important stuff. Thanks to everyone who commented, because I seriously need the motivation, I tell you, what with the chronic ADD and such. And if anyone familiar with my works at pervy_werewolf is able to spot the line where I had to restrain myself from writing further and laughed like the twelve-year-old I am, you win a disgusting drabble. (Or, for that matter, finds lines where I could have done so. I keep having to remind myself that this is a grown-up fic, or something.)
Crowley wasn't surprised in the least to see Aziraphale standing in the hallway outside his flat. "It's funny. The whole world can turn upside down and nearly end, but I can always depend on you waiting for me when you're mad."
Aziraphale snorted. "I'm the one who's mad? I'm not the one who nearly spilled a cup of mocha ladder all over a first-edition--"
"Stuff it. And it's called a latte. You drink it, you don't climb it." Crowley produced a key from midair and unlocked the door. "And I don't feel like talking to you anyway. Go back to your first-edition whatever." He opened the door, the turned to glare at Aziraphale. "I mean it. Go."
"So what if I am? I didn't sit around a musty old bookshop all day being angry, I went out and had a good time."
"I'm sure you did." Aziraphale somehow managed to squeeze in the door behind Crowley. "You probably sat around a musty old bar staring at your feet for hours."
"As a matter of fact, I met a very nice human. Wonderfully messed in the head. If he's not insane, he's on the edge." Crowley flopped down on the leather sofa after shooting Aziraphale a look that clearly meant No, you cannot sit down, as a matter of fact. "I think he'll be a fun side project."
"Side project?" Aziraphale sat down anyways, perching on the edge of the sofa. "What have you got going now that I'm going to have to thwart?"
"Don't you realize it's all just a waste of your time anymore?"
Aziraphale shrugged. "Habits are hard to break."
"Ah, I suppose so. In that case, you just might have to catch up with the times a bit to thwart this one. Lovely new computer virus, self-replicating, attaches itself to every file in your hard drive." Crowley smiled to himself. "These computers, they make evil so easy. I thought I could never do better than telemarketers, but you don't even need people anymore for spam, you just--"
"Anyway, what about this human?" Aziraphale interrupted. "You're just going to make this man's life miserable?"
"No, it's miserable enough as it is." Crowley leaned back and stretched out full-length, pushing the angel away with his feet. "I figured I'd make it better for a bit, then bring it all crashing down. It's just fun, you know, not real work. All of the rest of you overthink this, you've got to help or hinder one soul at a time, when if you really wanted to be doing good you'd just burn down America Online's corporate headquarters." He smiled again. "My master work."
"And how exactly do you intend to make his life better, hmm?" Aziraphale had suddenly become much more intent.
Crowley started laughing. "Oh, I see now. You're jealous."
"I am not!"
"Oh yes, you are. That's a deadly sin, you know. If you were human they'd all be having a great party in the depths below right now, hooray, we've got another one, good old Crowley, never misses." He sat up. "Don't worry, angel. You've got nothing to be jealous of." As he reached for Aziraphale, he added, "Yet."
Remus slept late, much later than he normally would have. He hadn't had truly restful sleep in quite some time, and it was a luxury he was happy to indulge in. When he finally awoke, he was content to lie in bed for a moment. There were no nightmares to wash back over him, no puddle of sweat. He could smell sausage cooking and hear a soft rain falling outside.
As he washed and dressed, his mind was on Anthony. It's too soon. I can't do this to myself. For that matter, I can't do it to him. But I feel so good today, better than I have in a long time...maybe just a quick fling. Maybe that's all he wants. Maybe I'll go over tonight. Maybe I won't.
He joined Molly, Ron, and Ginny downstairs. They were already beginning to clear away the breakfast dishes, but stopped when they saw him.
"G'morning, Lupin," Ginny said brightly. "Sleep well?"
"I did, actually." He was surprised to find that he was not only hungry, he was very hungry. He piled nearly everything left on the table onto a plate. "What are you two doing up so early? Weren't you up pretty late last night?"
"Uhh...well, you know, things to do," Ron replied. Ginny muttered something under her breath that sounded suspiciously like "Owl from Hermione," which Ron didn't notice. Remus smiled, and almost wiped it off his face when he realized it. No, there was enough to smile about. It was all right today.
"So are you continuing the job search today?" Molly asked.
Remus shook his head. "I've got some reading to catch up on. I might try and get in contact with Moody, too. Last I heard, he was in need of someone to help him out a bit with the, with what he's working on."
"Indeed he does. You'd be much more help to him than Mundungus, I have no doubt." Molly took his plate, which was somehow already empty. "And we've got a meeting tonight, don't forget. If you're up to it, that is."
"Tonight?" Well. The decision was made for him. The Order was infinitely more important than...what was making him happy all of a sudden. Of course it was. Priorities. Really, now.
"Yes, tonight. Why, did you have plans?" Molly was obviously joking, but his face revealed a different story. "Oh. Well, you know, go and have fun if you need to."
"I'm not going to do that." He glanced at Ron and Ginny, who both sighed and shuffled off into the parlor away from the grown-up talk. "I've been useless for what, six weeks now? I'm not going to run off and play. Besides, I don't have plans, really."
"Well, I have an invitation. But I don't think I was going to act on it, anyway."
Molly gave him an odd look, then turned away. "Well, it's up to you. We could certainly use your help."
"I know. I'll be here."
As he left the table and headed up to find his books, he wondered if maybe he hadn't just needed to get out, clear his head a bit. There was a war going on, and he considered everyone in the Order family he had to help fight for. Granted, the Ministry had made some fumbling attempts at picking up the ball over the past few weeks, but inevitably it just ended in Dumbledore coming in and announcing the number of owls he'd had from them that week while trying to contain his laughter. It still fell to them. And there were still enough people left alive that he cared about that made it worth it. No, tonight he'd go to the meeting, he'd help out Moody, he'd volunteer to go get Harry for the last couple of weeks before school. And that was that.
But somehow he had a feeling he hadn't seen the last of Anthony.
Blast him, Aziraphale thought as he marched through the wet streets. Blast him and his games and his being a demon and especially the fact that because of him, I'm out here getting these shoes soaked. You'd think he'd have a little appreciation for Italian leather, but no, he goes and pulls something like this knowing full well that these just came in the post and I've got to wear them and that I have to go thwart him as per usual.
He had managed to weasel the name of the pub out of Crowley. (It was amazing that it had taken the demon so long to discover sex, but once he quit laughing at it, it had become an amazingly effective tool of persuasion.) He had also discovered a wealth of other pertinent information--the poor fellow's name, for one, and the fact that he'd said he lived "a couple streets behind the pub", which of course could mean any one of a dozen streets, London being what it was.
Perhaps Crowley was right. Maybe it was time to quit bothering so much with the individuals and work on making mass amounts of lives a bit better. But this was much closer than American Airlines or whatever it was Crowley had mentioned the night before, and besides, if what Crowley had told him was true--and it probably was; Crowley was so fascinated with the human ability to make their own lives utterly miserable that he likely wouldn't have fabricated that particular story--this chap needed all kinds of help.
Now, then. He squinted a bit. It wasn't too hard to find a house where death had recently darkened the door, provided you were an angel and were able to see Death's footprints pretty easily if you were looking for them. The first house he came to was a funeral parlor. The next contained an old woman who cordially invited him to the burial of her dear Mr. Snookums who had choked on a hairball yesterday. Aziraphale stopped looking so closely.
No luck, no luck, no--he saw the footprints, but the house seemed to flicker out of sight when he looked at it. He turned his head and looked crosseyed; yes, there was the house, but when he looked at it straight-on--
He groaned. Wizards.