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GO Summer Prompt Fill #6: Delayed Reaction [Jun. 25th, 2012|01:40 pm]
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Title: Delayed Reaction
Pairing: Aziraphale/Crowley
Rating: PG-13 for cursing and mild romance? Who knows.
Notes: I'm afraid that this explanation could end up being longer than the ficlet itself, but some context is really necessary. About two years ago, the first time that synekdokee came to visit me in London, conversation turned one evening to the boy (i.e. my partner, for those of you who don't know what I mean by that) talking about the Hindu festival of Holi and how a mainstay of celebrations is people throwing colored powder, water, and perfume at each other. He said someone had once told him the dye-throwing originated with a legend that held a village, terrorized by a demon, enlisted the aid of Krishna, who banded up all of the village children and had them throw colored powder and water at the demon, which led to its being driven out, humiliated. I have since that time attempted to corroborate this supposed legend with online or other sources, but I've found nothing of the sort; rather, most information I can find suggests that the powder-pelting is derived from Krishna's favorite prank to play on unsuspecting female cowherds. The demon part seems to come in completely separate from this, as you can see in the Wikipedia article. Anyway, looping back to synekdokee's visit, I don't know which of us burst out laughing first because we couldn't help picturing an indignant Crowley covered in splotches of bright chalk. Assume CoT [ABP/WWTM] 'Verse for setting; the date is 10 March 2012, as Twickenham seems to have been Holi galactic central this year. That said, this can definitely be read as a stand-alone with no harm done!
Summary: Given Aziraphale's footwear, Crowley should've been suspicious.


Given Aziraphale's choice of footwear, Crowley should've been suspicious.

"You're wearing trainers," Crowley said, hesitating, his hand frozen on the doorknob. "And we're going where?" He wouldn't have let Aziraphale leave the flat looking like this under most circumstances, much less for a day trip to—

"Richmond," said Azirahale, pleasantly, adjusting his ratty scarf. In fact, everything he had on smacked of a charity-shop raid; even at home, around the cottage and environs, he certainly didn't favor such frumpery. "Orleans House Gallery. That Asian festival I'd mentioned, don't you remember? Worth a look, I should have thought."

Crowley sighed and opened the door, ushering the angel into the corridor. His Mayfair flat was keeping dustily enough in their absence, although it sparkled on the odd weekend they decided they'd had enough of the sea air and needed a dose of city excitement. This wasn't so much his idea of excitement as it was Aziraphale's.

Crowley punched the down-button on the lift. The things he'd do for love.

Aziraphale tried to insist that they use public transport, but Crowley wouldn't hear of it, even if parking promised to be a somewhat hellish affair. What should have been a thirty-minute drive turned into a fifty-minute one courtesy of some inexplicable traffic; Aziraphale cheerfully suggested that they weren't the only ones headed for Twickenham today, and Crowley could only turn up the radio and jam his sunglasses bit further up the bridge of his nose. They could've had a cozy lie-in and a perfectly civilized breakfast at Claridge's, but no. Rampant multiculturalism had won out.

Still, he felt better when the parking space he'd been expecting to turn up did.

"Well," said Aziraphale, squeezing his knee. "Not such a terrible drive, was it?"

"Get out of the car, angel," Crowley muttered, but he warmed to the touch.

The grounds of Orleans House were lovely, but they were also completely mobbed with young people in an odd mix of appalling modern fashion and traditional Indian garb. The music wasn't anything Crowley would have chosen given half a chance, but it had a catchy beat, and Aziraphale seemed genuinely content to be amidst the ruckus. Crowley took hold of his hand, preferring to be dragged along.

"What's this, again?" he shouted above the crowd.

"Holi," replied Aziraphale. "It's the Hindu festival of colors, dear boy!"

"The point being?"

"To celebrate spring. Or, if you like, the burning of Holika and Prahlada's survival."

Crowley stopped and yanked Aziraphale around to face him. They were jostled and elbowed on all sides, but nobody seemed annoyed in the least. A blonde university student shimmied past Crowley, her hair a riot of sapphire and fuschia.

"Wait a minute, what's with—"

"Oh," said Aziraphale. "I'm sorry, I hadn't considered this might be in poor taste."

Crowley blinked as a young man wearing bright red face-paint sprinted by.

"Poor taste?" he blurted, his initial confusion momentarily forgotten.

Aziraphale's features softened in a way Crowley had only come to recognize since, well, since everything that had brought them to where they were now had transpired. He had one hand in his cardigan pocket, probably fussing with a loose thread; all signs pointed to a manifestation of his newfound fear of hurting Crowley's feelings.

"Ssspit it out," Crowley hissed, leaning close to Aziraphale's ear.

"Prahlada, the demon-king Hiranyakashipu's son, refused to show his father reverence, praying instead to Lord Vishnu," Aziraphale recited, like a human child tired of being asked to repeat nursery rhymes. "Hiranyakashipu's sister, the demoness Holika, built a pyre in her lap with intent to burn her nephew to death. Prahlada prayed to Vishnu and was spared; Holika, on the other hand, was not."

Crowley realized then that Aziraphale's hand had at some point made its way from his pocket to rest against Crowley's cheek. His fingertips felt strangely gritty against Crowley's skin as they stroked slowly, deliberately down to his chin.

"Swell," Crowley said. "You'd best keep me away from the bonfires."

Aziraphale was the one who looked hurt. He ran his thumb over Crowley's lips.

"I hadn't meant..."

Crowley's tongue flicked out briefly, just enough for him to notice the acrid taste.

"What!" Crowley shouted, "Have you done?"

Aziraphale's fingertips were covered in a thick dusting of luminescent emerald powder. His expression was stuck in that curious space between guilt and amusement.

"Festival of colors," he repeated, unable to keep from smiling. "My dear, you look—"

Just then, a shrieking gaggle of teenagers hurled a bucketful of canary yellow chalk at them. Crowley stumbled forward, his eyes shut tight against the grit, knocking into Aziraphale. His sunglasses went flying, and Aziraphale caught him around the waist.

Crowley opened his eyes and smeared his gritty palm across Aziraphale's forehead.

"You were saying?"

Aziraphale kissed him in spite of the bitter taste, a little bit breathless.

"Ravishing," he said, tracing a scale-pattern from Crowley's jaw down to his throat.

Indignant, Crowley retaliated—but, the truth was, he knew Aziraphale meant it.


—Continue: The Beach Botanist's Survival Guide
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: enchantersnight
2012-06-25 06:17 pm (UTC)

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Aziraphale should paint Crowley more often :)
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-06-25 09:09 pm (UTC)

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Imagining what a striking sight he must be is...yes, I see your point :)

Thanks for reading!
[User Picture]From: mauvais_pli
2012-06-25 08:53 pm (UTC)

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The very idea terrifies me, but the things one'd do for love, I suppose.

I'm still completely captivated with Crowley's hissing accent shifts that you use so masterfully!
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-06-25 09:12 pm (UTC)

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I know; the idea of ending up covered in chalk and water and who knows what else doesn't thrill me much, either, although the boy claims it's fun :-p

Well, we know the two circumstances under which Crowley tends to hiss are a) when he forgets himself, and b) gets horribly drunk. This circumstance falls into the former category ;)

Thank you *hugs*
[User Picture]From: ladymouse2
2012-06-25 10:02 pm (UTC)

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Heh, at least it's not the Spanish festival (which name escapes me) in which everyone pelts each other with tomatoes and the whole town (and inhabitants) look like a Visigoth massacre scene...

There's variety to the color and one doesn't have to worry about seeds...

I guess the real trick is how well the color comes OFF. And then what about Aziraphale having to restrain the demon from becoming a tactical nuke when he discovers color on the Bentley.

Great fun!
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-06-25 10:16 pm (UTC)

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Heh, at least it's not the Spanish festival (which name escapes me) in which everyone pelts each other with tomatoes and the whole town (and inhabitants) look like a Visigoth massacre scene...

Ahahah, I can't help but think of that scene in Hot Fuzz ("Don't worry, Andy! It's only bolognaise!") Re: the colors, that's true, perhaps some of them don't stain as viciously as tomatoes.

I guess the real trick is how well the color comes OFF. And then what about Aziraphale having to restrain the demon from becoming a tactical nuke when he discovers color on the Bentley.

And this, my dear, is why Aziraphale tried to steer them in the direction of public transport ;)

Thank you very much *hugs*
[User Picture]From: synekdokee
2012-06-25 09:38 pm (UTC)

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Hello I'll just be sitting in a corner now waiting for someone to pour me into a bucked because I am, effectively, a puddle of cute-induced goo.

I love the tenderness here, and I love that there's an awareness here that what happened in GO changed their relationship.

Lovely <3
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-06-25 10:00 pm (UTC)

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*fetches a mop*

I'm so, so relieved that you like this! I mean, it very nearly didn't get done, so thank you for so patiently keeping on my case about it. I learned a few things in the process of puzzling out how to approach it.

And if you ever do read all the rest of the stories in the wider 'verse in which I've set this, well, I hope they please you, too *hugs*

Thanks for everything.
[User Picture]From: linda3m
2012-06-26 12:38 am (UTC)

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It's hard to find the romance in a relationship that's been going on for 6,000 years, but you manage.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-06-26 12:41 am (UTC)

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Thank you (I think)! ;)
[User Picture]From: ida_pea
2012-06-26 01:04 am (UTC)

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Just then, a shrieking gaggle of teenagers hurled a bucketful of canary yellow chalk at them. Crowley stumbled forward, his eyes shut tight against the grit, knocking into Aziraphale. His sunglasses went flying, and Aziraphale caught him around the waist.

Oh, I love this. I have heard of this festival, but feel fortunate to have seen Deepha Mehta's gorgeous film, "Water," so I actually can imagine how vibrant and joyful it is. Poor Crowley, but something tells me he's not as pissed as he'd like Aziraphale to believe. ;)
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-06-26 01:26 am (UTC)

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OMG, DEEPA MEHTA <3 Earth, Fire, and Water are three of my most favorite films of all time (Fire in particular; Earth just kind of rips me up, so I haven't seen it as often as the other two). It's an incredibly vibrant festival indeed, although best viewed, I find, from a distance ;) James would love to get me in the thick of it sometime, though. My response to that is, hopefully he'll give me fair warning so I can choose clothes I don't mind getting badly messed up...

And you're exactly right: Crowley isn't as pissed as he's pretending to be ;)
From: (Anonymous)
2012-06-26 03:39 am (UTC)

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The festival is great fun actually, what with water guns and all. The colour comes off quite easily. It's more about fun than anything, really. (:

This was lovely! <3
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-06-26 03:52 am (UTC)

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Oh, I have no doubt that it's great fun - it's more my clothes that I'd worry about than anything else, which is why you'd have to let me plan what junk to wear ahead of time ;)

So glad you enjoyed this, dear anonymous - thank you!
[User Picture]From: thewritingblog
2012-06-26 06:40 pm (UTC)

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:)
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-06-26 06:42 pm (UTC)

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I know it's not one of your usual fandoms (?), so I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless <3
[User Picture]From: ciaranbochna
2012-06-29 07:06 pm (UTC)

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Sublime.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-06-29 07:54 pm (UTC)

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So pleased you like this :) Thank you!
[User Picture]From: hsavinien
2012-07-13 05:16 am (UTC)

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*laughs* Oh dear. I do enjoy the mental images, though, particularly that first moment of indignation.
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-07-13 11:25 am (UTC)

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Crowley's spectrum of extreme reactions is a real joy to work with ;)

Thank you!
[User Picture]From: mizstorge
2012-10-08 05:23 pm (UTC)

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Putting up with Aziraphale means that Crowley gets to have a lot of make-up sex. In this relationship, that obviously counts for a lot.



Edited at 2012-10-08 05:24 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2012-10-08 05:25 pm (UTC)

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...oh, you have no bloody idea how ironic some of these comments are given what I am writing right now, I can't even tell you, I really can't; give me an hour or two more and you'll see...
[User Picture]From: sheerpoetry
2013-01-17 04:38 am (UTC)

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I love this one so much--so nice to see both of them let go (even after both being a tad worried and apprehensive) and have fun. :D
[User Picture]From: irisbleufic
2013-01-17 04:40 am (UTC)

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I miss London's raucous Indian festivals *sigh* They are just that: a marvelously good time. Once Crowley gets over the indignity of having been chalked, I'm sure he'll take to it just fine <3