Gift for: bethbethbeth
Prompt used:If C/A (or C&A), then historical setting would be great (Middle Ages? Rennaissance?) or a University setting, perhaps?
"Now the tradition of referring to someone by their middle name - J. Alfred, in this case - is a rather longstanding way of dealing with the equally longstanding habit of naming one's children after oneself. Perpetuating the self through the children, attempting to live vicariously, all that sort of thing. Very much against the principles of Buddhism, unrelatedly, but if you chose to draw Christian parallels about Heaven and the insistence on life beyond death into your essay I should probably tut and glower dreadfully but shouldn't hold it against you."
Aziraphale looked up, despairing rather at the distinct lack of pens, paper... students, indeed. Still, it wasn't his job here to be well liked or admired or anything of the sort, and of course it was far easier to do his job if there were less of them to sort through.
And the fact that the Politics lectures were apparently standing room only didn't matter a jot, of course.
"However, given the quote that Jeremy just mentioned," he continued, looking directly at Adam and his small band of miscreants, something he only allowed himself once or twice in a lecture so as not to arouse suspicion, "it's entirely possible that this is in fact a small measure of rebellion. Choosing the name by which you are called, and yet still not quite managing to escape from the self entirely, rendering the rebellion essentially useless and misplaced."
He squinted a little, theatrically, pushing the glasses that had seemed the perfect prop for this sort of thing a little higher on his nose. Not just the small plump form of Jeremy and the girl along, today - Adam's grubby friend was sat alongside them all, currently engaged in a pen duel with young Jeremy.
"...And speaking of misplaced, I don't think you're actually supposed to be in my class, are you, my dear?"
Adam's eyes narrowed a little, and Aziraphale felt a sudden compulsion to ignore the miniature battle, something he suppressed with a scowl, keeping his eyes fixed firmly on Adam as he spoke.
"Come now, shoo. I won't have you causing distractions, especially when we're covering Eliot. Come back when we've moved onto Lawrence and you may start all the small-scale Waterloos you want."
This, he liked to think, was his most important task. Frankly, if Adam decided to spend his life doing anything even remotely connected with English Literature Aziraphale would buy a hat specifically so he could eat it - it really was far more likely that Crowley's lot, with their media studies and their politics, of course, would win this one. He must do what he could, then, and what he could do was this: the little contradictions of every day that taught Adam how to live in a world where not everything went quite his way. That was all. That was, if he did his job well, quite possibly enough.
The lecture theatre's doors clattered open, shutting behind Adam's friend just as loudly, but not before Aziraphale had caught a glimpse of a familiar figure standing just outside, smirking slightly and tapping a quite ridiculously expensive watch with one finger.
"Right," he said, quite losing the thread of his discussion for a moment as he started gathering up his papers, tucking them into the battered leather satchel he'd had since around 1936. "Right, yes, that's quite enough for today I should think. If you can find the time in your dreadfully busy schedules I'd like you to have a look in the library or, if you must, on those infernal machines that seem to have taken the rightful place of books in your hearts, and tell me what you can find of the mythology about mermaids and sirens. Yes? Marvellous. Off you trot."
There are three things that the students love about the English Literature lecturer, Professor Weiss (although of course he wouldn't credit it.):
1) His lectures somehow manage to teach you without you quite noticing that you're learning. It's the tangents, see; in the context of the lesson they are wildly out of place, but in the context of the whole educational experience somehow they manage to slot into essays and exams with more ease than you'd ever have thought.
2) He is quite the most lenient teacher it's possible to have, when it comes to getting essays in and suchlike. (Not a one of them, however, has noticed quite how much more guilty they feel about it, nor how frequently they seem to be wanting to do their work to deadlines. It's a knack.)
3) Wednesday mornings. Wednesday mornings he often lets them go up to half an hour early, rushing out of the lecture theatre far faster than you'd expect with a man of his stature. If anyone has connected it with the early end to the Politics lectures on that day, they've wisely chosen to keep quiet.
" - a fondness for the Caesars doesn't prove anything, so you can stop smirking."
Crowley paused with his foot on the stair above, then snorted softly.
"Even you haven't managed eyes in the back of your head, angel, so don't bother with that."
"Oh, it's not as though I have to see it to know, Crowley. I saw your face when you were talking to that little - " he took a hand off the banister and waved it vaguely, dismissively - "history teacher type, and feather in your cap as it would no doubt be I don't think you can predict a return of vomitoriums and orgies merely because the Antichrist has expressed a preference for Suetonius. For all you know it's the writing that's captivated him, and he'll end up penning the next Dorian." He looked over his shoulder, smiling himself. "And do hurry up, my dear boy, there're only so many hours in the day."
Although Crowley had a decent enough office of his own in the new humanities block, all chrome and white with a disgustingly expensive leather chair which none of the other teachers could quite figure out how he wrangled, they tended to end up in Aziraphale's little room more often than not. It wasn't that it was closer - tucked away in the science block, probably the oldest and most hazardous part of the university, and Crowley almost always ended up fearing for his life when he was following Aziraphale up the spiral stairs - it was just...
Dusty would fit - although it's not quite descriptive of the appeal - and crowded, too. If there was ever a room with enough bookshelves for the angel, he's not yet found it. There're stacks of books here there and everywhere, and about the only colour other than bindings and brown are the couple of plants Crowley had foisted on him.
(The light's better up here, that's all.)
In any case, for whatever reason, they end up at Aziraphale's for their weekly - they've never quite agreed on terminology. Aziraphale will insist on 'conflab' where Crowley's pushing for 'rundown'. And the sun's always striping dusty beams across the floor, and the kettle's always boiling just as they come through the door, and it's hugely old fashioned and deeply lacking in anything approaching style but it's quite the most comfortable place Crowley's been in a while, which is a reaction he chooses not to examine too closely. Who needs introspection when Aziraphale's provided jammy dodgers, that's always been his opinion.
"Only so many hours in the day, angel?" Crowley settled himself into a dusty green armchair that he was trying not to think of as his. "That'd explain the early ending of the lecture again, would it?"
"Oh do hush, Crowley." There was no rancor in his voice as Aziraphale poured water into the teapot. "It's not as though this teaching lark is precisely a vocation for me. I'd far rather be back in my bookshop and that's the truth - I don't think I'm quite cut out for all the interaction, you know."
"What's prompted it this time?" and, at Aziraphale's half-hearted glare, "it's not as though we haven't had this conversation before. Believe me, angel, there're about a billion and one things I'd rather be doing than teaching here but it's not as though we exactly have a choice. Besides," he said, a weird feeling like snakes writhing in his stomach, "there are compensations," and shot a sidelong look at Aziraphale.
The angel was busying himself with the teapot, and Crowley couldn't quite tell whether the faint flush on his cheeks was wishful thinking.
"It's silly, really. Too many years with the bookshop, quite possibly, but I find myself... well I'm becoming dreadfully proprietary."
Crowley lifted an eyebrow.
"Over the literature. I find myself - when students quote quite the wrong thing, entirely out of context I can't help but feel a little slighted. Rather as though they weren't entitled to it, as though they were attempting to stake a claim on something that's mine by virtue of my having been there." He was wearing a faintly worried smile. "I suppose it's not entirely virtuous of me, is it?"
He shrugged lopsidedly, distracted slightly by the way Aziraphale's eyes crinkled at the corners.
"I'll just make sure not to quote any Wilde and I reckon we'll be alright."
"No, no indeed. It's alright when it's you because you - you've always been there too."
The brush of Aziraphale's fingers as he handed over Crowley's mug, he was pretty sure that that wasn't wishful thinking. It felt just a little bit too deliberate, and Crowley burnt his tongue when he hid his grin in his cup of tea.
There are three things the students love about Professor Crowley (though he'd thank them never to tell him):
1) His lectures always manage to tell you precisely what you need to know. Exactly the information you're going to need in the exam to get the good marks. (Sometimes, it feels a little like cheating, but they reckon it's alright if it's a teacher.)
2) He never asks for sick notes or phone calls, positively encourages them to take days off every now and again; the more unbelievable the excuse the more he seems to like it. Always tells them that he'd rather be anywhere else, and the look on his face makes them believe it.
3) Wednesday afternoons. Wednesday afternoons he's always at least ten minutes late, never worries about work getting handed in or anything of the sort. Wednesday afternoons, he almost looks happy.
Happy Holidays, bethbethbeth, from your Secret Writer!