(Hermes)Azi's Day Off
This crackfic idea was born during an NO chat and uses the characters we had at the time ... maybe even those of people who were in the chat. - You can't imagine how much fun
we had in those chats. Sometimes I wish I could go back there, but I've lost contact with most those people and I guess, if we did meet now it would be like strangers.
Working the morning shift alone, Loki realised, was boring. It wasn’t that he didn’t enjoy working in Aziraphale’s bookshop. It was a wonderful place full of all sorts of fascinating books, some of them long out of print, though according to the angel himself the collection wasn’t nearly as impressive as the one that had been burned down in London.
Loki didn’t think it was nearly as bad as the angel made it out to be. He didn’t mourn the loss of Aziraphale’s rare bibles and didn’t care a bit about first editions.
Don’t get this wrong. Loki liked books. He liked books a lot.
But they were material things. They had a weight and tied you down. It wasn’t Loki’s way to cling to dead objects. He loved to read books, but left them behind when he was done.
That was why he normally preferred libraries to bookshops. Working in a bookshop, though, that was quite a different matter again. It was almost fun, which had surprised him a lot.
Loki didn’t usually work. When he did it was for a day or two here or there as a barkeeper or errand boy, occasionally a waiter or construction worker. The only reason he’d applied for a steady job now was that he desperately needed money to pay his medical bills and was getting too sick to play his usual games. Sleight of hand no longer worked at all and lately he had a tendency to confuse himself with his own fast-talking.
So when Aziraphale had decided to open a bookshop in Lower Tadfield, Loki had decided to give honest work a try.
And he’d found he quite liked it. He got on very well with his co-workers and wasn’t expected to get on with the customers in the first place. Crowley could have fulfilled Aziraphale’s job requirements! - Well, if Crowley had wanted to, that was. - With his ability to charm people Loki felt overqualified.
Morning shift was usually quiet and Loki and Aziraphale spent it reading side by side, or discussing books, or just talking.
Today however Aziraphale was off on some strange business trip with Crowley and Loki had finished reading Tacitus and didn’t feel like starting any of the other books he’d found in a quick search around the shop.
So he re-alphabetised the esoterics shelf. He started by pulling out all the books and remembering Aziraphale’s warning that the sorting system should never be based on anything so obvious as authors’ last names. started looking for authors whose first names began with A. He put those in the lower right corner of the shelf humming happily to himself. This was much better.
He was wondering whether to put the Bs in front of the As or start them off from another corner when his eyes fell on a book about ancient runes.
Loki had always secretly been a bit embarrassed about not being able to read runes. Back when they’d been modern, it hadn’t been a very manly thing to do, though and he’d often teased Odin about his rune magic. Nowadays too weak to shape-change much and surrounded by all sorts of magic-wielders he really wished he knew some rune casting, but he couldn’t just ask Odin to teach him. At least not, if he didn’t want to be teased mercilessly about it for the rest of eternity.
Odin would never know, if he read a book about it, though. He never came into the shop and rarely bothered with Loki’s reading material at home. Apparently he thought reading was just something Loki did when he got bored.
Loki settled comfortably on the floor, leaning against the shelf with his feet on a stack of books and started to read.
The introduction was boring and the stack of books under his feet fell over halfway through. He left one foot among the scattered books and put the other on another stack.
What the book described wasn’t exactly the kind of casting Odin did, more a sort of oracle-thing, but it still seemed like it might be worthwhile to learn how to draw the runes and memorise their names. Maybe he’d find something more advanced later.
He groped about for a pen, but it was back at the desk along with the paper. He’d have to take the book back there.
His way took him through the children’s section and past a stack of colouring books that came packaged with four crayons. Loki stopped and glanced at the books.
“Why not.” Odin liked to use chalk for his casting, so crayons would be fine.
They did not write in books very well, he found out quite quickly, or at least they were too plump to draw small symbols. They did much better on the wall, though they had a tendency to smear and crumble. Loki’s hands soon looked very colourful, but then so did Uriel’s oil paints and he still loved to play with those.
It was probably that association with oil paint that led him to abandon the runes book in favour of drawing a picture of his family. First a nice green Odin, then Seilpnir in red, of course. Freki in blue, Geri yellow and Fenrir in green, because he really liked that colour and didn’t have any grey or black on hand. He was trying to make up his mind when Hermes walked in a little early for his shift.
The Greek had been late several times this week and Aziraphale had scolded him for that. Apparently he was trying to make amends.
“The angel isn’t here.” Loki informed him. “We’re on our own.”
“Oh.” Hermes sounded crushed. “What are you doing?”
“Drawing.” Wasn’t that obvious? “Hey Hermes?”
“You’re very colourful.” Hermes praised noticing the crayon stains in Loki’s face and clothes. “Pretty.”
“Yes, yes.” Loki wasn’t interested. “Do you have your snakes with you?”
“Not today. They’re pinning after Crowley again.” Hermes said with a slight sigh.
The snakes were very useful. They’d scared off more customers than Loki’s tale about the ancient Egyptian curses on Aziraphale’s favourite bibles. Especially when they suddenly appeared out of Hermes’ hair and tasted the customers’ skin with their cute tickly tongues.
Loki loved being tickled by snake-tongues, but apparently customers did not.
“Crowley isn’t home either.” he pointed out.
“Well, they didn’t know that. They’ll probably lie in wait in front of his room all day and jump him the moment he comes back.” Hermes shrugged. “They find that entertaining. What did you want them for?”
“Reference.” He’d been about to draw Jormungand, but that could probably wait until tomorrow. “Did you bring any food?”
“No. Why don’t you just buy your own? Then you wouldn’t have to complain about our leftovers all the time.”
“Aziraphale only paid us last week.”
“I have debts to pay.” Loki pouted.
“There might still be some biscuits in the back.” Hermes suggested.
“Bisc ... Oh, you mean cookies.” Loki went to search the backroom. “Damn Brits.”
“I’m Greek.” Hermes pointed out while absent-mindedly pocketing most of their small change.
The back room was filled with boxes of newly delivered books that Aziraphale hadn’t opened, yet. Loki and Hermes weren’t allowed to officially open them, because then they might be sold before the angel could approve them for selling.
Of course Loki had taken more than one peek and Tacitus had in fact come out of one of those boxes. He hadn’t sold any of those books, though.
It took some pushing and squeezing to get through to the very empty cookie jar. Loki took one look inside to make sure there weren’t even any crumbs left, then placed it on top of the highest stack of boxes.
A stack which was leaning precariously to one side. The next person to brush against it would probably cause it to fall. Nice. Loki was determined not to be that person, though. Some of those boxes looked quite heavy.
Next to the cookie jar was the coffee machine. A constant irritant, because Loki wasn’t supposed to drink coffee. He wished Aziraphale were here to make tea for them. The doctor did allow tea. (Typical British doctor, Loki suspected.)
Coffee and Tea weren’t that different, though, right?
Loki pulled out the old coffee filter, draped it over a nearby book and went searching for a fresh one. When he met with no success, he just poured the tea leaves in without a filter. Surely Aziraphale or Hermes would know how to clean them out again. Or maybe mixing tea and coffee would lead to completely new culinary discoveries. Loki wasn’t going to worry about that right now.
He filled in some water and pushed the little red button. The coffee machine began to sputter happily.
The bell tinkled.
“Good morning!” Hermes’ cheery voice rang in from the front. “What can I get you? A book perhaps?”
“Aziraphale said not to sell any of his babies, remember?” Loki yelled out. Hermes tended to forget these things in his eagerness to please.
“Ah well, maybe some biscuits, then?”
“We’re out!” Loki yelled.
“Coffee?” Hermes yelled back.
“Not at the moment.”
“Well, can’t you make some?”
“No, I’m making tea.”
“In the coffee machine?”
“Ah, I see. Coffee machine tea, then?” Hermes suggested to the customer. “Or an orgasm, perhaps?”
The bell tinkled again.
“Ah, pity.” Hermes sighed. “And he was such a handsome fellow, too.”
Loki poked his head out the door, but the customer was long gone. All he could see was Hermes pocketing some books in the pocket book section. Nothing out of the ordinary.
“Your coffee machine is making odd sputtering noises.” he informed his colleague. “I think it’s blocked.”
Hermes squeaked and dashed past him.
There was another squeak and the clattering of heavy boxes. Yep, it had been ready to topple all right. Loki snickered.
There was no sound from under the boxes.
“Hermes? Are you okay!” Damn, he should have remembered how tiny and fragile the little Greek god was!
“Mumph?” it rang hollowly from under the boxes.
Ah, there he was. Loki started pulling off the top boxes and scattering them around the room until he’d cleared a path for Hermes to climb out. They sat on top of the hill of boxes for a while to catch their breath.
“You’ve blocked the door.” Hermes remarked after about a minute of just panting.
Loki glanced over. Indeed he had. Most of the boxes he’d pushed aside seemed to have inexplicably migrated towards the door. They’d have to move them again to get out.
“We could just stay here and fold paper aeroplanes.” Loki suggested pointing at the book catalogue. The pages looked perfect for folding at least.
“That’s boring.” Hermes said watching the first paper plane’s wobbly flight. “Let’s have sex.”
Loki frowned at him. “I’m not gay,” he reminded him once again. They had this conversation almost every day.
“Nonsense,” Hermes said as usual. “Everybody likes sex.”
“Not with other men.” Loki attempted to fold a bird out of the next page, but the shape just wasn’t right.
In the background the coffee machine produced one last gurgle and died.
“You’re right it is boring. Lets move the boxes out of the way after all.” Loki started pushing boxes under the desk.
“My coffee machine!” Hermes tried to save it by switching it on and off a few times until a rain of sparks caused him to back off.
“Come and help me with the boxes.” Loki whined. “They’re heavy!”
“But my coffee machine’s dead!”
“If you help me get us out, I’ll try and revive it later,” Loki promised. “Please!”
“Alright, alright.” Together they managed to clear a path to the door in under a minute. It required climbing over a box or three, but at least one could once again get in and out of the room.
“I’m hungry,” whined Loki, since whining had worked well on Hermes once already.
“You promised to repair my coffee machine,” Hermes countered.
“But I’m hungry.” Loki pouted.
“Excuse me? I’m trying to buy this book.” A boy of about twelve or thirteen years stood beside the counter.
Loki glanced at the book. “The Complete Shakespeare? You’re too young for that. Put it back.”
“No,” said the boy stubbornly. “I want to buy it.”
“You can’t.” stated Loki.
“Well, why not? This is a bookshop, isn’t it? Bookshops sell books.”
“Not this one.” Hermes pointed out. It was a very correct observation, but unfortunately only confused the boy more.
“You can’t have it.” Loki announced cradling the book in his arms. “I haven’t read it yet.”
“But I want to buy it!” the boy yelled. “It’s mine!”
“Er, maybe I can get you another book instead?” Hermes offered.
“Hermes!” Loki warned. The little Greek was much too soft hearted sometimes.
“Okay, some paiderastia perhaps?” Hermes smiled at the boy.
“Sexual intercourse between a man and teenage boy in Ancient Greek.” Loki translated casually. “No Hermes, no sex, food.”
The boy’s face grew first very red, then very white. Then he dashed out the door.
“Good job,” Loki commented. “Now, food?”
“You promised to repair my coffee machine.”
“But I’m starving!”
Hermes regarded Loki. He did indeed look very pale and thin and both seemed to be slowly getting worse. If Loki wanted to eat, it was probably a good idea to feed him.
“Alright, I’ll go get you some fish and chips from the shop at the corner while you repair the coffee machine. Deal?”
So Loki went and brought the coffee machine into he science section which had the best light in the shop. Some still hot water poured out as he climbed over the boxes, but he decided not to worry about it. Water tended to dry away anyway.
He poured the rest of the water into the waste-paper basket, which unfortunately turned out not to be water tight. Oh well, only water.
When he opened the coffee machine he burned his fingers, so he used a hardback picture book to scoop out the tea leaves with. The last remains would have to wait until he could touch them directly, though. The book cover was too blunt a tool.
So Loki leaned against a shelf and started to read Shakespeare.
The shelf fell over. Damn, that had been he one with the loose screws.
Hermes returned five minutes later with a paper bag full of fish and chips. They were probably too fat to be healthy, Loki thought, but he was too hungry to care.
“They absolutely refused to let me take out any of their silverware, so I’m afraid we’ll have to use our hands,” Hermes apologised as he settled down beside Loki.
“Hands are fine.” Loki declared and stuffed a handful of chips into his mouth. They tasted slightly of crayon, but were fine otherwise.
He continued to read.
“Is that the Shakespeare?” Hermes asked between bites of fish. “Is it any good?”
“Very.” Loki confirmed and turned another page leaving a glistening slightly greenish stain on it. “Should have thought of reading this much sooner.”
“Too bad the boy didn’t stay for some entertainment, though.” Hermes sighed and pulled a poetry book off a nearby shelf.
“That’s a first edition.” Loki pointed out.
“So what? I’m only reading it.”
“This contains poetry, too, you know.” Loki nodded at the Shakespeare. “You might like it.”
“Are you offering to share?”
“Of course not!”
The bell tinkled once again.
“We’re closed,” said Hermes without looking up from his book.
“Go away,” added Loki.
“No, you’re not and we’re not here to buy anything anyway.”
Loki glanced up. “Uriel? What are you doing here? You didn’t walk all the way from the manor, did you?”
“Of course we did.” Uriel beamed at him. “Exercise is good for you.”
“Not this much exercise.” Loki protested. “Not in your advanced condition.”
“I’m only a little over five months pregnant.” Uriel pointed out. “You’re walking to work everyday.”
“You don’t look five month pregnant.” Loki pointed out. “You look overdue. And I’m not even pregnant.”
“We’re here to shop for maternity clothes.” Ellie explained. “But I thought I should give Uriel a chance to rest before the actual shopping and ... I heard you have a special offer on orgasms today?”
Hermes jumped up with a delighted squeal. “Where do you want to do it? On the counter? In the back room? In the children’s section?”
Ellie smiled like the cat that got the cream. “The counter will do nicely.”
Loki did his best to ignore his co-worker and the succubus. “Listen Uriel, you ...”
“Oh Loki! Are those crayons! I love crayons. I’ll draw ... I’ll draw your portrait!” Uriel dashed towards the scrawled upon wall like a delighted child.
“Be careful! You might fall on your belly!” Loki yelped, but Uriel didn’t fall and seemed quite happy with the crayons.
Loki returned his attention to the coffee machine and had it almost fixed when Aziraphale walked in moments later.
The angel took one look at the two naked beings on he counter, the water and books on the floor, multicoloured Loki with the slightly dripping coffee machine, the open copy of Shakespeare lying on top of a fat stained paper bag and Uriel humming happily as she drew on the wall and screamed.
“My books! What in His name do you think you’re doing! Can’t I leave you two idiots out of my sight for two minutes!”
Loki looked around the room.
“Well, maybe we made a bit of a mess,” he admitted with a slight shrug.