The Temp

Shay Sheridan

This was written as comment crack-fic on Live Journal in deliberate homage to Beth H.'s Harry Potter/Due South crack-fic crossover. A certain blond replacement, with or without wings, seems to have made the rounds of more than a few fandoms in the weeks following Beth's story. So I'm putting all the blame on her.


Crowley parked the Bentley directly in front of the shop in a spot that conveniently opened up just as he turned the corner. It was less convenient for the chap whose car had been parked there only moments earlier, and subsequently ticketed by a conveniently-arriving traffic policeman, and summarily towed away by a conveniently-arriving lorry that just happened to show up as Crowley turned onto the street.

The towed car's owner came out of a store and started shrieking vile curses and chasing after the lorry.

Crowley smiled. He was very good at his job.

Full of the milk of human frailty, he positively bounded through the empty shop and pushed through the door to Aziraphale's inner sanctum. The door opened. His opposite number had his back to him.

"Az—" Crowley called cheerfully, and then stopped.

The man turned around. He was thinnish and blond, wearing a black leather jacket; he was munching on a sandwich, he had spiky gelled hair and most of all he was patently not Aziraphale.

"Hey," the patently-not-Aziraphale-man said.

"Hullo," Crowley drawled, narrowing his eyes. "What have we here?"

It crossed his mind that the man had broken in and was burglarizing the shop -- not that there was anything worth stealing, not that ordinary burglars would want -- and normally Crowley would not only have encouraged such behaviour, but would have cheered the burglar on, but this was Aziraphale's shop, and that made him indignant, rather, for some reason he couldn't quite understand.

Besides, the fellow didn't look worried about being caught back here, so he probably wasn't a burglar after all. No, instead the man grinned around the sandwich and threw open his arms.

"Hey, buddy!" the man said.

"Um," Crowley said, stepping back out of reach. "American?" He invested the word with a modicum of disdain, but the other fellow didn't seem to notice.

"Nope. So. Can I help you?"

"No, you can't, and you may not, either,"Crowley said emphatically."What have you done with—"

"He's away. I'm filling in."

"Away? Where?"

The man slouched back to lean against the bookshelf. "Not sure that's any of your business, actually."

How insufferable! "You can't possibly be filling in for him."

"Sure I can," the man said, shrugging. He shifted slightly and looked at Crowley from under half-closed lids. "So you're him, huh?"

"I'm him, who?"

"You know who, him," the man said. "Az' friend. The 'other.' Rrrr, shake, bad guy, shake. 'Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?' You know. 'The devil made me do it.' The—"

"Yes, yes, I get it." Crowley's head hurt. "Look, where is he, and what are you doing here?"

"I'm, you know, like a temp. Only not exactly."

"You mean you're also a. . ."

"Sure," the man said, grinning toothily. His leather jacket slid open a bit and Crowley saw the glint of armor. "Just like Az."

You're nothing like him, Crowley thought fiercely. "Look, my good man," he said aloud, "What have you done with him?"

Anger flashed in the pale eyes. "Hey, I haven’t done anything to him. He's. . ." His eyes strayed straight up and right back again. "He's at, well, it’s sort of like a conference, a whaddya call it, a retreat."

"A retreat?" Crowley said incredulously.

"Yeah." And then the man looked down and blushed. "No, actually I'm lying. Which is against the rules, but, well. He's been recalled. I'm his replacement."

"Recalled. . ." Crowley plopped down in Aziraphale's ratty leather chair. He felt like the air had been kicked out of his lungs, which was odd, because technically he didn't really have lungs because he didn’t really breathe. "He's. . .gone?"

"Yeah."

"Really gone? For good?"

"Well," the replacement said, shrugging. "You never know."

Crowley rubbed his temples. Aziraphale. Gone. For good. "I can't believe it."

There was a hand on his shoulder. The replacement was leaning over him. "You look like Hell. Oh, that's good, heh. Want a drink?"

"Yes, please," Crowley said.

"Let's see, uh. . ." Doors opened and shut as the man rifled through Aziraphale's cupboard. It wasn't right. It just wasn't right! "Okay," the man said. "There's port? Sherry? Whiskey?"

"Yes, please. Make it a double."

"'Kay."

He accepted a nearly-full tumbler. The replacement perched on the corner of the desk, and for a moment they sipped quietly. The whiskey felt good trickling down Crowley's non-existent throat. "Look," he said at length, "Is he in trouble with -- I mean, did he do something wrong? Besides that near-miss with the end of the world."

"Yeah, that was pretty big." The replacement stretched his lanky body until a few vertebrae popped, and then cracked his neck. Crowley winced. "No, I heard it was more of the personal stuff. Like, you know. With you."

"Me?" Crowley bristled. "Look, I'm not responsible for what happened. Well, not entirely. Aziraphale—"

"No, not that stuff. I meant the personal personal stuff. Fraternizing with the enemy stuff. Fraternizing thisclose with the enemy stuff."

"Oh, for Satan's sake! We never—"

"You never?"

"Never!"

"Huh. Bet you wanted to, though, right?"

Crowley choked on the whiskey.

"Sure you did. Az is pretty good looking, if you like the type -- not my type, of course. I like 'em dark -- not that we're supposed to think about that stuff, but I never said I was perfect. Anyway, Az wanted to. I mean, look at you! Who wouldn't?"

"He did? He never said. . ."

"And you didn't either, did you?" the replacement persisted.

"Well, no. It never. . .seemed like the right time."

"Oh, brother!" The replacement slid off the desk. "You two are so lame. So he never knew how you felt, and you never knew how he felt. Wow. You suck at the tempter thing, you know."

Crowley sighed. "Pathetic, isn't it."

"Sure is. If I had some hot hunk o'demon like you sniffing around after me, I'd—" The man stopped abruptly.

"You'd what?" Crowley said, looking up at him. It struck him suddenly that, peculiar hair, dreadful accent and all notwithstanding, the fellow really was quite attractive. "You'd what?"

"Never mind."

"No, really, what were you going to say?" Crowley stood up so they were of a height. "You can tell me."

"Uh, uh, none of that, Mr. Temptation Guy. I know what you're up to."

"Do you, now."

"Sure."

"Really?" Crowley purred.

"Oh, yeah, really," the man said in a husky voice.

They stared at each other. Crowley began to have some very bad, very pleasant thoughts. He smiled his sweetest, most innocent smile. "Look – what do I call you, anyway?"

"Name's Raphael. Which nobody calls me except the Boss. I hate it."

"Whatever for? It's a lovely name, angel."

"Nah." The man said, his face melting into a grin that caused funny little flutters inside Crowley's imaginary belly. "I go by Ray." He took a step towards Crowley, who suddenly felt seriously outgunned. "And it's Archangel, by the way."

Oh, bless it to Heaven, Crowley cursed silently.

But he was smiling.


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