Crowley’s eyes were glued to the pound coin, firmly affixed to the sidewalk. Yes, it wasn’t the best way to commit demonic activities, but it kept him outside in the warm sun and fed him some wonderful pastries, the likes of which he hadn’t had since about 150 years ago somewhere in Campania.
The woman who was at the table next to the little coin (Who was reading a bible of all things-the perfect target, although he hadn’t set out with anyone specific in mind) reached out a foot and idly prodded at the coin. Her smooth brow wrinkled when the toe of her boot couldn’t budge the pound. A few prods later her frustration levels had increased and Crowley felt the pleasure of a job well done.
Then she looked directly at him. And then she smiled. “You old snake,” she called out.
“Oh shit.” Now he recognized her. It was kind of hard, really, to forget one of the first1 human faces he’d ever seen.
She grinned even wider. “Come on over here; I won’t be mad. I promise, I won’t kick you in the head this time,” she said in her indescribable accent.2
Crowley shrugged. This was going to be interesting, he decided, and moved over to her table. “So, Ev—“
“It’s Chava, at least for right now.” She winked at him. “Felt like a bit of a change. It’s good to mix things up once in a while. Do you want some coffee?” she waved at the small pot sitting on the table.
“Sure.” He helped himself to a steaming cup (the cup having been an innocent napkin just a few moments beforehand) and sipped at it. “What’s with the Bible?”
“Sometimes I just like to re-read it and see what all of the writers got wrong. Like this bit, here,” Chava flipped the book around to show Crowley, thin pages flapping in the wind. “This bit with the rib never happened; I don’t know whose bright idea that one was. The first story, in the first chapter, that’s more like it.”
“I definitely remember the part with the apple tree though,” Crowley shot back, a dark eyebrow arching high over his sunglasses. “Although that always did seem like a bit of a set-up to me,” he mumbled into his coffee.
“Ditto that. I should thank you for that though. I’ve always wanted to but I never got a chance.” She pulled her long dark hair back into a sleek ponytail and sat back in her chair, turning her face up towards the sun for a brief minute.
“Why?” Crowley waved his hand, bringing over a waiter carrying some more pastries. When the slightly bewildered waiter walked away (he was just about to head home for the day, and yet found himself bringing out one last plate of food), he continued. “After all, I was the one who got you kicked out of paradise. Why thank me?”
“Innocence is overrated. I like knowing things; it’s gotten me through six thousand good years,” she said, still staring up at the skies. “And sometimes I suspect that’s what He had planned all along, but who really knows what He’s thinking.”
“It’s a bloody ineffable plan,” Crowley concurred, “and He’s the only one who has any clue what’s going on.”
“I suppose I know more than most,” Chava mused, “being the first woman and all that. I’ve got a special in up there, you know? But there’s many things that he keeps from even me. Ineffable.”
“You sound like—“ Crowley cut himself off, not wanting to give too much away to someone who was close to upstairs.
“Sound like who?” she asked, a lilt in her voice that implied she knew far more than he thought she did.
From somewhere Chava picked up another book and began flipping through it. “Ahh, here we are. This is another story that I can’t figure out where it came from; this idea that Adam had a couple of other wives before me. One word gets mistranslated from screech owl into woman, and millennia later we get all sorts of tales.”
“Wonderfully sexually deviant stories, some of them actually true,” he said, feeling a little something in him niggling to stick up for the old firm.
“If that’s your sort of thing.”
“Um, demon here.”
“Oh yeah, I forget that sometimes.” She winked at him again. It was most unnerving.
“Look, Chava, why are you here? Every other time we’ve had a meet up it hasn’t been for 1) something trivial or 2) painless. I still have a headache from when you booted me in the forehead,” Crowley sighed, feeling a bit off and just wanting to get to the bottom of matters.
“Okay, I am sorry for that; I just can’t help myself sometimes. But yes, there is a reason for my being here.”
“Good, now we’re getting somewhere. Elaborate, please.”
“Just a bit of a warning. But I don’t think it’s about anything bad.” Chava’s brow wrinkled, fine lines appearing in the olive skin, looking very old and very young all at the same time.
“You don’t think it’s anything bad?” he repeated, a bit aghast. “For all your abilities you can’t tell if this warning is something good or bad?” It was true, in the past Chava had been able to pull some remarkable things out of thin air (mostly to aid Aziraphale, but he had definitely seen the benefits), but maybe after six thousand years of work her brain was starting to go a bit.3
“Here’s what I can gather. Something that you did in the past is going to come back to haunt you big time. But this might not be a bad thing. Keep your slitty little serpent eyes open for something extremely weird.” She sipped at her coffee again, then reached out a deft hand to snag one of Crowley’s pastries.
“That’s awfully vague,” Crowley said, watching with satisfaction at the fight breaking out across the street when a lock of a girl’s long curly hair got snagged on a passerby’s purse, causing a great deal of yelling and dropped bags.
“It’s all I can give you right now, so take it as you may. Just be prepared.” Chava looked around the patrons outside the café, smiling softly at the movement of everyday life. “That boy that Aziraphale took in-William, right?”
“Nothing at all. I just think he’s good for the two of you.”
“He grows on you after a while,” Crowley shrugged. “Special kid, I guess.” More special than he was willing to divulge to Chava.4
“So I gathered. I look forward to meeting him in the future,” she said, putting her books into the satchel hanging off the back of her chair. “Well, I must get going now. There’s a lot to see out there on this Earth, you know? Time waits for no woman.”
“Good talking to you, Chava,” he nodded. “Thanks for the heads up.” He did appreciate the notice, even though he had no clue as to what was going to happen. He supposed they would just take it as it came, and not worry about it until then.
“Arrivederci, Crowley.” Chava stood up, shouldered her bag, and began to walk off into the crowd. “Oh, Crowley?” she said, turning around.
“You know those old stories about Lilith, and why she got kicked out of the garden?”
She grinned widely at him, sunlight making her dark brown eyes spark. “I was always on top.”
Crowley just laughed, long and loud.
1. Actually, it was the first.
2. The best way to describe her accent was old Aramaic, but no one these days would believe that.
3. Her brain wasn’t starting to go. It was clearer than it had ever been—the situation she was trying to get a hold on was just extremely fuzzy. Neither heaven nor hell had quite experienced anything like it before.
4. But that is another story that will be told at a later point (a.k.a. as soon as monster crackfic sequel is done).