glinda: text: you can't second-guess ineffability, I always say (good omens)
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Title: The Nice and Accurate Adventures of Aziraphale in Ankh-Morpork
Characters and/or Pairing(s): Aziraphale, Crowley, the Librarian
Rating: PG
Word Count: 1149
Summary: All truly good second-hand bookshops are really genteel black-holes that have learned how to read.
Author's Notes: A cross-over with Discworld, written for [community profile] disc_fest for the prompt 94. Good Omens crossover: Aziraphale discovers why opening a used bookshop in Ankh-Morpork is a terrible idea. With thanks to [profile] signficantowl for the beta.



When Aziraphale found himself stranded in Ankh-Morpork of all places, he quickly realised that attempting to thwart evil here was like trying to put out a forest fire with a small watering can. Crowley, on the other hand, claimed to be in his element. Aziraphale had no doubt either that Crowley would soon be ground down by his inability to make things any worse than they already were or that once Crowley could admit the inevitable to himself, between them they’d figure out how to get home. All he had to do was wait for the inevitable.

In the meantime Aziraphale fell back on his usual form of employment/distraction and opened a used bookshop.

This, it turned out, was a very bad idea.

*

As a dedicated lover of books, Aziraphale was familiar with the concept of L-space. He’d even visited it a few times back when he’d been a life member of the Library at Alexandria. He just didn’t know how to access it on this – plane/planet/corner of existence – and after some asking around, discovered that the Librarian at the Unseen University was likely his best hope on that front.

Aziraphale never got the chance to make the ‘m-word’ faux pas; he never got the chance to so much as open his mouth before the librarian chased him from the university precincts. Throwing fruit and old text books at him with extreme prejudice, while muttering a stream of strong invective – he certainly made Ook do a lot of work – about people that messed with the laws of causality. Aziraphale understood that the Librarians of Space and Time were rightly very sensitive about their third rule, but felt it rather unfair that he was being held responsible for something he hadn’t yet done.

He blamed Crowley for the whole incident. Which in the balance of probability was likely fair. However, this did not make him feel better in the slightest as he sat, reasonably bruised and somewhat soiled, on the pavement outside the Unseen University.

It took him six months and a lot of bananas to get back into the Librarian’s good books.

*

Aziraphale had always vaguely approved of students in the abstract sense. He approved of learning, and the few students who managed to negotiate his wilfully obscure opening hours were generally too skint to afford to buy anything. Therefore they just came in, admired his books, handled them respectfully and longingly, and then put them back on his shelves where they belonged. Ankh-Morpork students, however, were fast reminding Aziraphale why he had a shop in an obscure part of London rather than, say, Oxford. Wizarding students had ideas. They seemed to think they could read his books. Which was outrageous. They had a whole library full of books that they could read for free and didn’t. The least they could do was pay for the privilege. But no. Instead they spent hours sitting around his shop on squishy chairs they conjured into existence and smoked their horrible pipes. One had even had the temerity to try and turn Aziraphale into a frog. It didn’t work, of course, but it was the principle of the thing. Aziraphale had transported the erring student – chair and all – half way across the Ramtops and left him there.

News like that travelled fast – the new Clacks system was efficient – and the students began to take his ‘Polite Warning’ signs1 more seriously.

*

As if the students weren’t enough, the local book related fauna were also something of a trial.

Despite the fact that he didn’t actually sell any magical books, he somehow ended up with an infestation of .303 bookworms. They moved at a speed that Aziraphale found both unnatural and unnerving, ricocheting off the walls with some force as they departed from a now well-chewed shelf of books. Their tough carapaces made them impervious to being willed out of existence (or at least into the shop next door) and, once Aziraphale had given into the inevitable, really difficult to kill. Even months after he was sure that he’d purged the place of them, he’d still occasionally open a book and find the distinctive high velocity holes left by their passing.

Aziraphale felt that the less said about Critters the better. However, the thin volumes of literary criticism that the one resident in the upper recesses of his shop left behind were particularly fine, so he was content to pretend it didn’t exist.

*

It was something of a relief when Aziraphale found himself being summoned to Pseudopolis Yard to come to the aid of an imprisoned Crowley. He was quite certain that Crowley was perfectly capable of removing himself from the tender mercies of the City Watch without Aziraphale’s assistance, but presumed it was a way for the demon to admit defeat without the tedious business of actually admitting defeat.

This was not actually the case. Aziraphale quickly discovered that Crowley had found himself at the mercy of the only part of the city’s infrastructure that didn’t run on bribes. Crowley was under the personal guard of Commander Vimes himself, a man with what Aziraphale termed a ‘reverse-Bogart’ sobriety2 and a level of world-weariness that left him both immune to mind control and unimpressed by Crowley’s full repertoire of demonic tricks.

Thankfully, between the two of them, they made one decent lawyer and Crowley was able to escape a stint in the Tanty with relative ease, but the whole incident had clearly shaken him up. Which explained why Aziraphale allowed him to mooch around the bookshop unhindered for the best part of a week without broaching the subject of how they were going to get home.

*

“Aziraphale?” called Crowley, descending one of the three spiral staircases that wound in a rickety fashion about the shop – like all good bookshops of its type it had four floors and two Mezzanines, despite being housed in a two-story building. “I know there’s a joke back on Earth about the similarities between good bookshops and genteel black holes, but you do realise that you appear to have an actual black hole lurking at the back on the stacks on the Mezzanine?”

Aziraphale looked at the demon for a long moment over his reading glasses before speaking. “No Crowley, I didn’t notice. I haven’t just spent the past few months amassing the finest collection of literature this planet has to offer, and carefully feeding it to said black hole in order to curry enough favour with it to get us both home safely to London, at all.”

Either Crowley hadn’t noticed the sarcasm or he was wilfully ignoring it. Either way, at the mention of London, Aziraphale could clearly see his own longing for the place reflected on the other’s face.

“Home, angel?” asked Crowley hopefully, offering his arm.

“Home,” agreed Aziraphale taking his arm.




1. [No Smoking, Loitering or Attempting to Transmogrify the Owner: Offenders will be banished to the Ramtops.]
2. [If Humphrey Bogart claimed that the rest of the world was three drinks behind him and ought to catch up, then Commander Sam Vimes was the opposite. He was three drinks behind the rest of the world and desperately resisting the urge to catch up.]

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