Pairing: FletchJones and PoynterJudd
Summary: AU – Tom and Dougie are angels, Danny and Harry are demons. Christmas Eve and doing what everyone else rightfully does: skiving off work.
Warnings: Religious themes, should be avoided by the easily offended.
A/N: No fandom is complete without this particular alternate universe, surely. Heh. (Written for queen_washu during mcsecretsanta!)
The windows shone with the distant lights, out of focus and distorted by the streaming rain, twinkling as black trees were tussled by the wind and swayed roughly past. Dougie stared idly out with one hand and his cheek pressed against the glass, while Tom poked a reluctant heater into life then hastily jumped back as a burst of hot air whipped through his robes.
‘Tom, why do you always volunteer us for Eve duty? Same routine every year for two thousand bloody years, and it’s starting to get a bit boring.’ Dougie called from his spot on the windowsill, not bothering to look away from the pouring rain.
‘Stop swearing. It’s not angelic.’
‘Oh, shut up.’ He turned his head to glance at the blonde, ‘Seriously, why?’
‘Because, Douglas, it is good. And kind. And everything an angel is meant to be, alright? Stop complaining and get that fireplace sorted out, they’ll be home soon.’ Dougie grimaced at him but still jumped down, walking over to the grate and giving the wall an experimental prod.
‘You just want to show off for Gabriel, don’t you?’
‘Don’t be ridiculous. What’s the chimney like?’ Tom replied flippantly and walked over to the window, glancing upwards at the dark sky.
Dougie cautiously bent down and glanced up it, before hopping away. ‘Sooty. Fine. It’ll last for another night – look, can we just go to the pub? Just this once. Nothing important is planned, we can afford to relax a little!’
Tom ignored him. ‘It’ll be snowing soon. That’ll make the kids happy.’
‘Great, let’s take credit for the snow and have the rest of night off. We’ve been working down here all week! Just a couple of hours isn’t going to make a difference.’
A long silence crawled by as Dougie grinned innocently and Tom stared at him, thinking, then there was the sound of a key turning in the front door and, ‘Oh, fine. But just one drink!’
They ended up in a non-descript area of South London, looking like a couple of normal, if exceptionally clean, people in jeans and loose jackets, wings tightly concealed to any mortal eye. The pub itself was large and well lit, many of the tables surrounded by drunk and joyous groups that completely ignored them as they entered, too busy roaring with laughter at nothing in particular. They both ordered orange juice (despite being many millennia old, Dougie still had trouble getting served) and found an empty cove at the side of room, each sliding into a seat on opposite sides of the table.
They sipped their drinks slowly and talked vaguely about past years and the first Christmas and lots of little conversations they’d had a million times before, while Tom poked the ice around in his glass and Dougie viewed the room, people-watching. Several slow minutes had passed before Dougie cut Tom off mid-sentence and asked,
‘Tom, is it just me, or are those two over there glowing?’
He looked sharply up from playing with his drink. Sure enough, sitting around a small table on the other side of the room were two men in their early twenties, laughing and drinking and, most definitely, glowing a shade of scarlet. ‘Oh, heavens.’
‘They’re demons, aren’t they?’
‘Yes.’ He sighed, resigned, staring at the pair of them and wondering if they had noticed him and Dougie yet. The glow would be invisible to anyone else in the room, but the red tint was rather impossible to ignore when you saw on three planes of existence at once.
‘Wow. Haven’t seen any of them for a while.’ Dougie sounded almost in awe.
‘I think we’ve all been avoiding each other, they’ve been getting lazy since the mortals started doing their job for them and we’ve been too busy trying to help clean it up.’ Tom reeled off without affection, staring as though he couldn’t bear to drag his gaze away.
‘Do you think they’ve noticed us yet?’
He turned to look at Dougie for a moment, then glanced back across the room. ‘Um. Considering they’ve now stood up and are walking in our general direction, I’d say so.’
The pair made their way over with a slow, confident swagger that somehow caught the attention of every woman in the room. The taller one paused at the bar to order another drink while the other, the one with the perm, strode straight over to Tom and held out his hand, grinning.
‘Hi there, I’m Danny. What’s your name, gorgeous?’ He said, smiling like he expected something civil. When Tom just stared at him with his eyebrows slightly raised, he shrugged and put it back in his pocket, leaving the grin firmly in place as he asked, ‘Mind if we join you?’
The other one had made his way over and slid in next to Dougie without waiting for an answer, placing the glass on the table and fixing him with a wide smile. ‘That’s for you. I’m Harry, nice to meet you.’
‘Dougie,’ he replied, not daring to look away from Harry as he jerked his hand in the vague direction of the blonde and added, ‘That’s Tom. Uh, thanks for the drink.’
Tom looked positively scandalised. He nearly shrieked, ‘We’re not allowed to drink alcohol on duty!’ but Dougie just ignored him and this Danny was suddenly sitting far too close, so he turned to bear down on him instead and ignore that feeling burning heavily in his stomach.
‘Why on earth are you here?’
‘We’re off duty.’
‘Why aren’t you back in Hell, then?’ Tom pressed himself against the wall to distance them as much as possible, regarding Danny with pure suspicion.
‘Do you have any idea how depressing it is down there this time of year? Lucifer is sulking because he can’t do anything all day, all the souls have stopped being any fun at all, most of the demons have taken to torturing each other and personally, we decided to come up here and enjoy the festivities for a while. These humans are doing pretty alright for themselves.’
He finished nonchalantly, taking a sip of his drink, while the blonde raised his eyebrows at him again as he realised he had nothing to actually say. ‘Oh.’
‘Yeah. So, your turn: what are you doing here?’
‘We’re working,’ he replied instantly.
‘Really? Looks like you’re being very productive.’ Danny glanced around the room.
‘We just happen to be taking a short break.’
‘Mm, and you just happened to end up at the same bar as us two, I see.’
‘But that wasn’t –’
‘Whatever, mate. Us four are the only ones on duty right now, so what’s the harm of us all having a drink together, yeah? Christmas spirit and all that.’
‘I thought you said were off-duty.’
Danny exhaled sharply. ‘Look, we just caused three major accidents on the M25 and set someone’s Christmas decorations on fire. What more do you want? It’s the night before our day off, we’re allowed to relax a little.’
‘I should smite you, you know.’ Tom answered, without heat.
‘Oh, spoilsport. Don’t go scaring the mortals. Just one drink, alright? Then you can go do all the heavenly good that you want and we’ll carry on our evil little way.’
‘One drink with you?’
‘One drink. Non-alcoholic as you insist on being on duty.’ He rolled his eyes as he drew out the words.
‘I told Dougie I’d have just one when I came in here. I’ve had that one. We really should be going now.’ Tom looked past Danny towards the exit, seeing the snow settling outside and calculating how much longer they had down here.
‘I don’t think your Dougie is going anywhere soon, mate.’ Tom’s head whipped back around to look at the pair on the opposite side of the table. Harry had his arm around Dougie’s shoulders and was whispering something undoubtedly filthy in his ear, making him giggle shyly and his cheeks flush.
‘Got a face made to tempt saints, that one.’ Danny giggled. ‘Used it for that before, in fact. That was fun week.’ Ending with a wistful sigh that was probably just added for effect (Tom inwardly sneered, then promptly stopped himself).
‘Oh, shut up.’ He snapped, suddenly and confusingly incredibly annoyed with the whole situation and Dougie and this tempting demon.
‘Come on, let me buy you a drink to make up for that, yeah? It’s only fair, and it’ll be helping the world by keeping us out of trouble. Win-win. I’m even paying.’
They locked eyes for a moment, then Tom glanced at Dougie, then back to Danny. ‘Alright. Fine. Whatever. But only so I can stay here and keep the little one out of trouble.'
Dougie was all far too consumed in Harry to notice, and Danny just grinned as he gave a quick nod and went over to bar.
Three drinks later and Tom was getting slightly giggly. Demons, as it turned out, were exceptionally generous company and while Dougie was letting himself be seduced, Danny was resisting the natural urge to tempt the blonde any further. For one, in his mind he was off-duty and tempting Tom would constitute as a challenge he could not be bothered to deal with right now, and second... well, Danny knew it was silly (and so not evil it was embarrassing) but Tom reminded him of when he was still an angel, before the First War, before everything got turned upside down and the rebels were sent, quite literally, to hell.
Of course, this was kept well hidden beneath the smiles and jokes and memories. Tom had slowly migrated away from the wall and more comfortably on to the seat, his prim attitude melting to something softer, warmer, less... prickly. Danny revelled in it, the chance to reminisce with someone who could still remember what the Garden of Eden looked like (despite being a boggy swamp just south of Croydon) from the inside.
Occasionally one of the other patrons nearby would stop and listen, hearing words like ‘unicorn’ and ‘second pit of hell’ and ‘do you remember that time when that Archangel, whatshisname, got so drunk he tried smiting three watchers because they ‘looked at him funny’?’. Luckily, these few people in their own inebriated states assumed they were very imaginative and very, very drunk, and so left them to it.
‘I think I miss the Roman wine the most. We toasted his birth, you know? Wished him the best of luck with saving mankind and all that.’
‘I don’t think having a piss-up in the name of the Son of God was really the point.’
‘You lot were too busy singing your little shiny wings off, someone had to do the celebrations and we, oh kind yet blackened spirits, took that duty upon ourselves.’
‘Yeah, well... but I got to watch it all from the sky. And I was sparkly!’
‘Good for you, mate.’
‘Hmm. What about the crucifixion, where were you then?’
‘I think I may have had a bit of hangover by that point. We got started on the toasting early! You know, though we’d try and beat the crowds.’
‘Do you do anything but drink copiously at any event possible?’
‘... Occasionally we set something on fire?’
‘Oh, well, that’s alright then.’
Another glass of some tasty fruity thing had been drunk before Tom even considered looking at the clock, almost surprised when he realised their shift had been officially over for half an hour. Dougie was definitely drunk and Harry was probably muttering a thousand unholy obscenities into his ear and Danny was really far too close and Tom was just beginning to think his juice had been spiked as he heard himself asking,
‘Want to go for walk?’
They left Dougie and Harry at the pub and trudged through the settled snow, kicking up small clouds with every step. Walking in companionable silence and close enough for their elbows to occasionally brush, they headed for nowhere in particular and kept on going until they were wandering down empty streets washed out in an orange glow and leaving prints in the untouched ground.
It was Danny who first tilted his head to stare up at the clear night sky, polluted by the lights of the city but the stars were still bright. Without a word he unfurled his wings (so horribly black, Tom noticed) and flew straight up to the top of the nearest building, a looming tower block with acres of glass and metal and life, and settled himself on the edge with his legs dangling over the side, waiting for Tom to catch up. Within moments the blonde was swiftly sitting next to him, so close that their unfolded wings rested lightly together in a startling contrast.
‘Humans can be so beautiful sometimes,’ Danny murmured, looking over the lights of the city from this new angle and seeing the horizon blend into the sky, streetlamps into stars. Tom had to squeeze his eyes shut for a moment and when he looked up again, Danny was smiling at him, his hand suddenly resting over Tom’s. Neither moved other than to look out over the town and the midnight scene, their wings softly beating against the breeze.