19 June 2012 @ 07:53 pm
The Arrangement: An Essay  

This is just a quick gander into the way the relationship between Aziraphale and Crowley progresses in Good Omens throughout the book, probably in not too eloquent a format.

What strikes me is that at the beginning, it is portrayed as very much a matter of necessity/convenience rather than emotional fulfillment: "they wouldn't have chosen each other's company voluntarily" is how the book puts it, and presents the saving of time/expenses as the main, practical benefit of the Arrangement. This is obviously what the two (want to) think of the Arrangement, and somewhat in contradiction to what is actually shown: they're both intimately aware of each other's hobbies and interests and make a habit of dining or feeding the ducks together. It is clear their relationship already has an emotional level that goes beyond the necessary, but they do not actively acknowledge it.

How that comes to change is one of the running themes in the book.


The presumable starting point is Crowley's idea of collaborating on the Raise the Antichrist project. Though most of it is off-screen, it can be assumed that in that time, they come to work together more closely and meet much more frequently than they used to. (For comparison, when they first meet in the park, Crowley mentions owing to pay for lunch from the time of the French Revolution, roughly two hundred years previous)

They are in close to constant contact for much of the week before the scheduled end of the world, except for the time Aziraphale is swallowed by the engaging prophecy book and the delay after. The discovery of Adam's location is a decisive moment for the angel: He realises that while he ought to tell his superiors, what he wants to do is tell Crowley, that the Arrangement is far more than simply a way to go about his duties more efficiently, that his desires and duties are, at once, in conflict. (Note that while they have been objectively irreconcilably in conflict at least since he decided to try and avert the Apocalypse eleven years previous, he only agrees to it after Crowley persuades him to rationalise it as thwarting Hell's wiles.) This self-discovery is cemented after he goes ahead and contacts Heaven anyway in a sort of naive hope, and when Heaven wants to go ahead with destroying the world, is hit with the bitter realisation that he and Upper Management are officially at odds. He proceeds to try and contact Crowley at once but is interrupted.

This parallels Crowley's own point of development: While Aziraphale is reading the prophecy book, Crowley is sitting around in his flat killing time, trying to distract himself without much success. As the one who screwed up Hell's plan, he's in a bad spot and is waiting for the other shoe to drop. After he temporarily repels Hastur and Ligur, when Hell is literally on his heels, the first place he goes is the bookshop - not because he knew Aziraphale had found the Antichrist (he didn't know - he never heard the message the angel had left on the answerphone), but because the angel was the only person who could be counted on to help. His only friend, not just the counterpart to their "tacit agreement of non-interference", as the Arrangement is described early on. When finding a burning bookshop and a missing Aziraphale, Crowley panicks - not over Aziraphale's safety, since at worst the angel would have been discorporated, but over the prospect of being left alone in his great mess (and probably never seeing Aziraphale again).

That's a suitable moment to step back and consider the differences in how Aziraphale and Crowley approach each other. The first point is Crowley's consistent neediness, for lack of a better term, as opposed to Aziraphale's relative self-sufficiency and tendency for distraction. This starts as early as the first scene in Eden, where Crowley is the one to initially approach Aziraphale - it's not spelled out, but the angel has guard duty and has to stay in one spot while the demon moves about. Therefore, it's likely Crowley was the one who initiated first contact because he wanted to, which Aziraphale accepted more out of politeness and boredom than anything else. (Crowley, in turn, presumably picked Aziraphale to talk to because the other animals were boring, and the cherubim at the other gates too quick to smite.) Their first appearance in the book involves Crowley being completely engaged in the conversation and eager to keep the other person engaged, even as Aziraphale drifts off, distracted by the changing weather. (That should feel familiar to anyone who's ever tried to pull the weight to keep a conversation going despite the other person not being equally motivated.)

This trend continues in the present day, first with the subtle differences between their places of residence: Crowley's flat has the unlived-in look that "comes from not being lived in", implying that he doesn't spend much time in there, while Aziraphale doesn't seem to leave the bookshop much and can easily get lost in reading for days (or however long it takes for cocoa to develop green fur). In a word, the impression one gets is that Crowley prefers not to be alone, while Aziraphale really doesn't mind it. Similarly, there's a mention of how Aziraphale "banishes" evil: He mentions having work to do and the demon usually gets the hint, implying that Crowley makes a habit of dropping in and hanging around until asked to leave. This difference is shown most clearly when they part ways after meeting Anathema: Crowley repeatedly asks Aziraphale, sounding rather nervous, if they'll meet up later, if that's okay, tries to prompt him to give a reassuring answer while Aziraphale is absorbed in his discovery of the prophecy book. Then, Aziraphale finally notices him and distractedly agrees before shutting the door on him, leaving Crowley "feeling very much alone".

(I'd like to retreat from my professionalism at this point and give Crowley a big hug. There you go, Crowley.)

Thus, we come to the events already described above: Crowley feeling lonely and anxious in his flat while the angel reads, them jumping to contact each other as soon as the going gets rough, et cetera.

But there's another, very crucial point to consider before we wrap this up. In a very blunt nutshell, Aziraphale thinks Crowley is evil.

For the longest time, it is one of those intrinsic cosmic truths he doesn't seem to question much, ineffable as they are. Back in the Garden, he calls Crowley out on being a demon and only being able to do evil, and misses his sarcastic comeback to that. It's "nothing personal", but there it is.

Six thousand years later, his outlook hasn't changed as much as you'd expect. While he's cooperating with Crowley without much concern, you get the sense that while Crowley doesn't think much of dealing with an angel, Aziraphale has never forgotten that he's dealing with a demon. During their drunken dolphins conversation, he expresses concern that Crowley is trying to do his thing on him, i.e. trying to tempt him, and approaches their agreement, complete with shaking of hands, with visible if minor trepidation. In that same conversation, when they discuss the future of the Antichrist and Aziraphale brings up good and evil, Crowley calls him out on it: "They're just names for sides. We know that." It seems more accurate to say that Crowley knows it, and has been trying to get Aziraphale to understand it for the past six thousand years, as well. When Crowley describes the two of them as "occult", Aziraphale insists that demons are occult but angels are "ethereal", is reluctant to be the first to reveal his list of organisations ("But you're a demon!") until Crowley gives his word to do the same, and also dismisses Crowley's attempts to understand the love aura the angel is registering in Lower Tadfield, saying that he can't describe it better, "especially not to [Crowley]".

In short, it can be said that Aziraphale approaches Crowley with some degree of prejudice and caution, if not looking down on him then certainly considering him to be Different - perhaps not without cause, as in the cosmic scheme of things, he has, in some respects, more to lose from trusting too much: a demon cannot Rise, but an angel can Fall, and he knows at least one angel who Fell - sorry, "sauntered vaguely downwards" - from "getting in with the wrong people", which is exactly what he'd be doing by making the wrong judgement call. (By contrast, Crowley's trust in the angel is unwavering, to the point where, as the Apocalypse begins to unfold and their respective sides prepare to start slaughtering each other again, it doesn't even occur to him that their Arrangement could in any way be affected by that, and he attempts to contact the angel for help.)

The reader is treated to a more rounded view of Crowley and demons in general. From Crowley's (admittedly biased) perspective, demons are not evil so much as doing an unpopular job. He calls Hastur and Ligur nasty enough to pass for human, suggesting that being actively evil the way humans imagine evil is quite uncommon for demons. Crowley himself obviously has no stomach for such things, as evidenced by him needing to go and get drunk for a week after checking out the Inquisition. Notably, his own fulfillment of his duties seems to rely a lot on sounding good (well, evil) and making an impression: he gets commendations for things he didn't do by being in the right area, he speeds because "every little bit helps", and he justifies his approach to his duties by calling it a numbers game: In short, he cultivates an evil image, but the actual evil he does is essentially on the level of widespread, low-concentrated mischief that never does anyone actual harm, like the sigil-shaped highway and reality TV and holding up business phone lines. The few times he does anything concentrated and specific, he takes steps to subvert any evil consequences, e.g. the people he gives guns to who all have miraculous escapes. Let's not forget him reviving a dove Aziraphale accidentally killed while the angel himself is distracted, worrying about the hellhound.

Aziraphale, however, is not privy to this inside view. Presumably Crowley's reluctance to do genuine evil was part of what made the Arrangement seem viable to him in the first place, but he still approaches Crowley with a certain level of caution. Additionally, his description of his side's approach to terrorists and guns ("Current thinking favours them. They lend weight to a moral argument.") - an approach he automatically shares on principle - as well as his willingness to kill the eleven-year-old Antichrist suggest he's more likely to adopt the "the ends justify the means" perspective, even as Crowley is more rooted in the here and now (a contrast shown neatly in the dove scene.) Just as Crowley isn't as conventionally evil as he likes to think, Aziraphale isn't as conventionally good, though they are both to some degree in denial about it and/or trying to keep up appearances.

Thus, the other aspect of his ongoing development in the novel is him getting over the demon thing. He is excited and pleased whenever he finds evidence of Crowley actually being a decent person, as with the guns that magically fail to hurt anyone. His acceptance of Crowley despite him being a demon is helped along by his realisation that good and evil really are only sides, and that Crowley being a demon doesn't really mean anything, any more than him being an angel means anything - in short, that they are Not So Different. When he discovers that Heaven wants the Apocalypse to happen as much as Hell does, he is at once disillusioned of the differences between the two sides as well as clued in that he has more in common with Crowley than he thought, that Crowley is the only one who understands him. When Crowley agrees to stand with him against the Devil, Aziraphale is finally convinced and congratulates him on being a better person than he gave him credit for, while Crowley, in turn, congratulates him on not being as good as he considered himself to be, effectively bringing them down to the same level.

This seals the change in their relationship (and, depending on how you interpret the line about "recent exertions" causing fallout in the form of reality referencing a sappy old love song, may or may not precede yet another relationship upgrade after that, but that's neither here nor there.) It's a process for which Aziraphale arguably needed to change more than Crowley did, the latter having started out as the more grounded (sorry) of the two, likely because of his experience with both sides and his more critical approach in general.

The world is saved despite their bumbling and they could, practically speaking, go about their separate ways again for a decade or two, but that's not what happens. Instead, Crowley offers to "tempt [Aziraphale] to some lunch" and Aziraphale accepts without batting an eye at the obvious reminder of Crowley's nature, in spite of the message of "I'm a demon, I tempt people, I good at it, you could get in trouble for this" barely hidden between the lines - something that would hardly have seemed likely at the beginning of the book.

Aziraphale and Crowley have progressed from chummy but not completely level not-enemies to two friends in equal standing who genuinely trust each other and will be spending more time together - not because they need to or because it's convenient, but because they're happier like that, and acknowledge it, and are fine with that, too.

And now that's out of my system and I really should stop writing and channel that energy into my "Crowley rescues kittens" fanfic or something.

(Thank you for your patience if you've read this far. Feel free to stop fighting the itch and go and ship the hell out of them right now.)

----------------
Excellent addendum by Knaccfornerdiness:

You are completely right on every point but I’d like to elaborate a bit on one of them.  Both Crowley and Aziraphale choose to see the Arrangement as a relationship purely of convenience.  As you said, Aziraphale can’t see it as true friendship because he thinks of Crowley as inherently evil.  But Crowley knows they are equals so why does he not see the friendship for what it is?  In my opinion, it is because he can’t admit to his attachment to the angel anymore then he can admit to himself that he is kinda a sweetheart. 

Crowley lies to himself chronically.  Every nice or not so bad thing he ever does is spun just slightly in to a more palatable lie to tell himself.  An example of this is when he turns all the paint guns in to real guns and then makes sure no one will really get hurt because “it’s more fun this way.”  There are lies and half-truths like that spread throughout his narration, with a hearty collection of them appearing during the parts he spends with Aziraphale or talking about Aziraphale.  It is from Crowley that we first hear about how the Arrangement is just a thing of convenience just as it is Crowley who we first see reaching out to Aziraphale.  So basically, while Aziraphale’s journey over the length of the text was realizing that Crowley was kinda good and his equal, Crowley’s was one of beginning to accept his own complex nature and all the attachments that entails.  

Sorry to add this to your essay but it was so spot on I thought it could use a mention of this.

EDIT: I had a point to add which I just figured out how to say. I actually think Crowley knows to some degree that he is soft but has taken up the internalized self preservation instinct of pretending he's not to deal with having fallen. This theory is based on how he thinks about heaven and hell being the same constantly and the way he words his softer moments



 
 
 
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
ladymouse2ladymouse2 on June 19th, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
Excellent, thoughtful analysis, both of you!

Enjoyed this essay immensely. Lucid and persuasive; even though I'm not of the physical love aspect school I do think these two would die for each other and, as Gaiman blithely quipped, would also live quite comfortably together on the South Downs. And you both marshal a convincing progression of example.
hekaterashekateras on June 19th, 2012 10:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I know what you mean about the physical aspect. I tend to prefer fascinatingly close platonic relationships in my stories, instead (think Conan Doyle's Holmes and Watson), and I think it makes even more sense for two immortals to whom sex doesn't mean the same thing as it does to us, anyway. Still, the book does pile the hints pretty high for those who want slash as their headcanon, so I thought I'd be remiss not to mention that.
ladymouse2ladymouse2 on June 19th, 2012 11:41 pm (UTC)
Oh, I don't mind and read plenty of GO that does go there as far as human-style sex and human-style lovers; it's just not where I see them myself. Mostly for the reasons you cited and my own conviction that no matter how "native" either one goes, their unique perspective makes them very much NOT apt to behave as ordinary humans.

I appreciate your specifying "Doyle's" Holmes and Watson since, of course, writers both fannish AND pro have been exploring the slash possibilities since the 70s! I prefer my Holmes and Watson "straight" in all sense of the word--but I'm a traditionalist.

I too enjoy the greater complexity of the close friendship and the nicely balanced tension. In GO I see the "teases" more as metaphor since Gaiman and Pratchett are attempting to explore a relationship that has few reference points for a human reader.
hekaterashekateras on June 20th, 2012 08:54 am (UTC)
Yeah, I often get the impression that subtle friendships are often neglected in stories in favour of more dramatic, simpler-to-understand (not to mention easier to depict on the wide screen) romances, and it really is a shame. I think friendship really has something fascinating going for it - I'd even call it one of those things that make humans relatively unique among other animals: the capacity to develop that kind of undying, self-sacrificing devotion to another while potentially getting very little in return: When you're romantically together with someone, there is an implicit promise of them being with you, and only with you, for the rest of your lives - but there's nothing uncommon about a devoted friendship between two people who will eventually have to go their separate ways and might never see each other again. It's a completely different kind of selflessness involved, IMO, when you risk your life to say somebody you're not romantically interested in.

Heh, sorry to ramble! I like your take on the 'teases' in the book. I also think it's a highlight of how otherworldly they really are - we see all these humans reacting and making assumptions about them (such as Anathema misinterpreting Crowley's use of 'angel'), when it is, in reality, 'not like that' to an extent they could never even imagine.
(she lives between pages): I meet you there and we goirisbleufic on June 20th, 2012 01:19 pm (UTC)
Here's the thing about bringing a physical aspect into the relationship, at least from my perspective: it has to be very carefully done, but I don't find it illogical at all. They are, in fact, much more immense than the human characters around them can possibly know, but, at the same time, they're capable of humanity that's so profoundly human (I don't know how else to express it; forgive the repetition) that I was (on first reading), still am, and will forever be completely in awe of them. I seriously doubt that their friendship would ever take that turn before the events of the book, simply because, as you've carefully illustrated, they don't really see each other quite consistently enough until the threat of Apocalypse comes down pretty hard and fast. That's why you'll never see me write a story wherein they're physically involved pre-1990; I'm sure there are many who'd like historical A/C smut from me, but there's seriously no chance of it happening *rueful grin* Can't see it. That's not to say I don't enjoy reading it when it's as well executed as it can be.

In the aftermath of the events of the novel, however, is another story; I really don't need to list how many different variations of them working up to the point of intimacy post-novel that I've tested out in the...almost nine years since I first read the book (part of me is sitting here going nine years, nine years I've been writing my way in and around this complex question, really?) I don't see it as illogical for them to take the step (in their own exceptional way, absolutely), as there are, after all, so many other profoundly human pleasures they not only enjoy, but seem to specifically enjoy together (food, wine, strolls in the park...). To this day, I'm kind of shell-shocked that when a small group of us decided in 2005, come hell or high water, we were all going to do our best to get called on by Terry or Neil when they were both on their respective and almost simultaneous tours (figuring, that way, that at least one of us would be called on by one or both of them) for purposes of finding out what they'd decided Aziraphale and Crowley were currently doing...actually, no, I'm not really just shell-shocked the roulette wheel fell on me and Neil actually answered; I'm still giddy and charmed at what that answer turned out to be. And having things actually start for them, as it were, in 2005, the date from which the sharing-a-cottage living arrangement is effective, is appropriate. It's more than a decade on - well, twelve years on - from the Apocalypse fall-out, and it seems to me now that they'd need a decade or so of constant association, not just a scattered catalogue of interactions spanning centuries and millennia, to work up to anything more than what they've already got. And I think you were saying below that doing it safely and on their own terms is key; man, you couldn't echo my own sentiments closely enough. Aziraphale, I think, would be the most likely to be straightforward and logical (at least initially) in the approach, but Crowley's complicated emotional situation is what makes postulating the scenario in writing, time and again, an absolute joy for me as a reader of the book and as a writer of fanfiction. What a gift he is, what a stunning challenge for us to navigate - and how unbelievably fortunate Aziraphale is to have him!

Edited at 2012-06-20 01:21 pm (UTC)
hekaterashekateras on July 6th, 2012 09:10 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry I dropped it off like that - I've been kind of stressed with exams/moving lately and what free time I had, my fanfic demons were forcing me to use otherwise. X_X Hope you don't mind me coming back to this now.

I agree completely - I'm not sure if you've read what I wrote as implying romance to be illogical, but that's not what I meant to say. When I said it's 'not like that' for them, I meant only that they have so much *more* going on than the human beings making guesses about them - they've seen the rise and fall of empires, they're busy stopping the Apocalypse, and all that. I do agree that there's no reason they wouldn't take it one step further, it's just that, like you said, I think for them it would be on the same basic level as their enjoyment of other human pleasures - and just like food can mean so much more to them, who've tasted every possible dish since the beginning of mankind, physical intimacy could also be much more meaningful for them, in very different ways than for a human, because of their unique perspective on it, and thanks in part to the fact that it's *not* inherently part of their nature, but something they would *choose* to indulge in. Ahem. Well, and everything you said, of course.

I'm glad you write them, though I've still to read most of your stuff. The fic with the charming 'plaster' line - that was yours too, correct? Because it's by far one of my favourite takes on their relationship upgrade I've seen. And wow, so you were the one who prompted the 'cottage' admission... I am so grateful to you, so grateful. :D

A decade or so of constant association - yes, that sounds good, though I'm currently working through a headcanon, hopefully a future fic, of them taking the plunge as early as the night after the averted Apocalypse, based on 'the world got away with it but we're probably really in trouble'-type of considerations - also mostly because there's that line in the book. "And perhaps recent exertions had a fallout on the fabric of reality, because .... a Nightingale sand in Berkeley Square", remember? I just... I'm having a really hard time picturing exactly what 'exertions' (ahem) could possibly be referring to that would prompt reality to reference a sappy old love song. Oh, and there's them drinking out of the same bottle before that, and all those casual brushes/grabbing-the-arm during the Apocalypse, and awww, now I'm having feels again. I've seen Neil Gaiman say that the idea of Good Omens slash is "mindboggling" to him, so it must've been PTerry who put that in there to mess with our minds, because I refuse to believe that the subtext is unintentional.

EDIT: Hahaha, look, I did a little comic based on a "Crowley just wants to feel the love" type comment: http://kaytara-art.tumblr.com/post/25642083031/so-some-time-ago-i-got-a-prompt-for-an#notes

Edited at 2012-07-06 10:31 pm (UTC)
(she lives between pages): Gotchairisbleufic on July 7th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
(Oh, God, the fic with the plaster line is the very first piece of GO fic I ever wrote. I've come on a lot since then, I think *wry grin* It's called "The Last Temptation of Crowley," though, and it was relocated to my fic journal back in 2007 or 2008 because I decided to pull all of the things I'd posted directly to this comm in 2005 and have them hosted in my own space instead. The good omens tag on my journal is a pretty good indicator of just how much more I've written in the years since then; it kind of boggles my mind that, of all my fandoms, this one has never wavered in strength, and I've never strayed from it.)

As it turns out, I've seen your art on DeviantArt; I just hadn't seen your Tumblr account. This sketch is particularly wonderful, for some reason. The contrast of their respective weapons really makes me grin.

And wow, so you were the one who prompted the 'cottage' admission...

Very much guilty as charged, and I've been writing in that vein ever since with CoT 'verse. Leave it to Terry to dodge the question (which he did) and Neil to actually answer it a week later (but not after beating around the bush just like Terry did, possibly just to make all of Boston squirm).

Mind-boggling or not, it makes an ineffable lot of sense, and as long as they're not of a mind to come after us with litigation, I'm very happy to call this a not inconsiderable part of my life's work. It pleases me beyond measure to do...this, just what we're discussing.

Right, so, I'm off to take a look at your fic link. And my adding of your journal seems not to have stuck the first time, which happens on occasion; I have fixed this by adding you again. Bloody thing. I know a lot of people are down on LJ these days, but I've been here for so long, and I'm fond of it (errors and all).
Kiersenknacc on June 21st, 2012 06:24 am (UTC)
Knaccfornerdiness here, just saying thank you for your kind words. :)
spockollamaspockollama on June 20th, 2012 12:53 am (UTC)
This is really awesome! Aziraphale and Crowley really are fascinating characters, thanks for taking the tie to delve into their psyches:)
(she lives between pages): GND 1irisbleufic on June 20th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
The first point is Crowley's consistent neediness, for lack of a better term, as opposed to Aziraphale's relative self-sufficiency and tendency for distraction [...]

(I'd like to retreat from my professionalism at this point and give Crowley a big hug. There you go, Crowley.)


Thank you so, so much for addressing this with such eloquence and at such length. Although I feel I've been dealing with Crowley's startling vulnerability for a very long time in the process of writing fic, I recently had a reader request a ficlet specifically addressing the issue of Aziraphale having a noticeable prejudice against demons. One of the most fundamental misunderstandings in characterization of Crowley that I come across in fanfiction is, in fact, how evil he actually - well, isn't. You won't convince me by writing a piece where he's genuinely devious and out to cause real harm, and you certainly won't convince me that sexuality/sensuality are things he has an easy time with (in fact, I don't think he touches that kind of thing unless he absolutely has to, and he certainly doesn't get involved with humans on that level personally). In short, all of the things you lay out in this essay with regard to Crowley are things that quite desperately needed elaborating outside a fic-context. Those of us fighting to support these facts using support from the novel, but creatively rather than analytically, come under fire a lot more easily, I think, when people assume we're writing Crowley as "too soft." Seriously, though: have they not read the book?

And in response to the addendum...

But Crowley knows they are equals, so why does he not see the friendship for what it is? In my opinion, it is because he can’t admit to his attachment to the angel any more than he can admit to himself that he is kinda a sweetheart.

I don't think I've ever seen that better said! :) He's very much a sweetheart, but if he doesn't want to admit it, that's really okay. We know.

hekaterashekateras on June 20th, 2012 08:23 am (UTC)
*gasp* It's you! Your fics are amazing. In fact, now that you mention it, I know what fic you're talking about, and it's where the whole dichotomy of Crowley/Az's relationship first jumped out at me and made me dig deeper, and I've been using the whole prejudice themes heavily in my own fic, as well.

Completely agree on everything. Considering evilness: I think I *could* believe a fic that is set a long time before the book and probably before the Arrangement. The way Crowley treats his plants (kicking out those who don't live up to his crazy standards of perfection, or simply don't do as well as the others, out of his private little heaven? Real transparent there, Crowley) makes me think he has a certain amount of suppressed bitterness about what happened to him, and while he's learned to deal with it and gotten used over the centuries (the validation of having Aziraphale start having him around helped, certainly, especially since Az's distrust of him is quite explicitly "nothing personal", but to do with Crowley's role in the higher scheme of things), I think I could buy a more bitter version of him that *tries* to be a proper demon with some measure of success before deciding that it's not his thing.

And yeah, I absolutely agree on his emotional vulnerability. It's why my personal headcanon for AC shipping involves Aziraphale making the first move - he's in a much safer place, emotionally-speaking/in regards to his self-esteem, he's more likely to take the risk of upsetting the status quo between them. (Though I must say I think they'd take a more distant view of sexuality and such - it's not such a central part of who they are, compared to humans, which is why I'm slightly bugged by 'and suddenly the UST EXPLODED and they KISSED' style fics - I think they'd adapt it to expression their affection and loyalty for each other, they way you can take a foreign word and shift it to mean something different in your language, but it would very much be a personal choice to do that kind of thing, as opposed to their libidos getting the better of them, as some fics depict.)

Whew, that's enough of a tangent.

And yeah, I just loved the line about Crowley being a sweetheart, too. I also think the dove scene is hard to miss and understated, but a crushingly powerful statement of his views on the sanctity of life, if you think about it. I mean, he goes and resurrects the dove just because, while Aziraphale is worrying about the bigger picture (which is in perfect tandem to how Crowley is the one to initiate the whole 'the world is nice and we should try to keep it as it is' thing, and appreciates the present, back when Aziraphale is still sort of 'Well if it's the ineffable plan I suppose it needs to happen'.)

*hugs them both*

(On a side note, I love your userpic. I'm pretty sure I've seen the artist on DA and even remember that particular frame of the comic, but I've never seen it in colour before! Wow!)

Edited at 2012-06-20 08:25 am (UTC)
(she lives between pages): GND 1irisbleufic on June 20th, 2012 01:52 pm (UTC)
No shock or deference necessary: I haunt these kinds of discussions all the time, although it's a crap-shoot as to whether I'll respond or not (but your essay, your invitation to play is so thorough and inviting, something I wish more people would do, so I couldn't resist). I'm pleased you enjoy the stories, though. They exist because, when I first started scanning the GO-fic situation that existed when I first read the novel (November 2003), I wasn't seeing the kind of stories I wanted to see; more specifically, I was seeing stories that seemed intensely problematic when I tried to match them up with their characterization as I understood it. And when I find something I perceive to be a gap or absence in a universe I've come to love, there's really nothing left for me to do but roll up my sleeves and wade in.

I think I *could* believe a fic that is set a long time before the book and probably before the Arrangement. The way Crowley treats his plants (kicking out those who don't live up to his crazy standards of perfection, or simply don't do as well as the others, out of his private little heaven? Real transparent there, Crowley) [...] I think I could buy a more bitter version of him that *tries* to be a proper demon with some measure of success before deciding that it's not his thing.

So could I, quite readily! In fact, I think the novel gives us plenty of evidence that, early on, he really did give it the best go he could. But he kept falling off horses and getting horrified at all the torture he had to watch, so...see, like you, I can't think about this stuff without wanting to hug him, so discussions invariably break down into me closing my eyes and watching Aziraphale do things to cheer him up, calm him down, etc. Ergo, right now, thinking of all Crowley's attempts at actual evil and the trauma it invariably brought him, I'm sending Aziraphale to him with a warm beverage (BBT Sheldon!moment on my part, perhaps) and anything else Crowley might wish, depending on the circumstances.

but it would very much be a personal choice to do that kind of thing, as opposed to their libidos getting the better of them

This, always this. Right on the same page with you, and I won't add another paragraph to the ramble here, because how many countless fic-paragraphs to this point are sitting over on my journal, I can't even hazard a guess at this point ;)

I also think the dove scene is hard to miss and understated, but a crushingly powerful statement of his views on the sanctity of life [...] Crowley is the one to initiate the whole 'the world is nice and we should try to keep it as it is' thing, and appreciates the present, back when Aziraphale is still sort of 'Well if it's the ineffable plan I suppose it needs to happen'.)

The dove scene was the point in the book where, on my very first read-through, I really snapped to attention on so many of these glorious complications. And the thing is, Aziraphale agrees that the world is amazing and needs preserving; it's just that, like Crowley has things to which he can't easily admit (i.e. that he's a very nice guy indeed), it's one of the things Aziraphale can't admit to himself in kind, but needs Crowley to help him move towards that. The brilliance of the plot and all its fine interplay is that they shift each other not only towards the logical conclusion of saving the world (in fact, I think they effectively declare themselves on the side of Earth in that final showdown in the novel, and not so much on the sides of Heaven and Hell anymore, and once chased this thread to a conclusion with almost devastating results), but towards the logical conclusion of needing each other and being fine with that. Love like that's impossibly rare.

(I have 2 icons from this artist, Pika-la-Cynique. The web-comic in question is The Girls Next Door, and it's a multi-fandom meta crossover in which Aziraphale and Crowley are so in-character and so endearingly themselves that I can't even begin to tell you. By the way, I've friended you; is that all right? I see you don't post much to your LJ itself, but I like talking to you, and friending is how I keep track of people. Feel free to reciprocate if you like.)
hekaterashekateras on July 6th, 2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
Just... Everything, all of that, yes. Especially the part about needing to comfort Crowley whenever I think of him trying to be a proper demon or, gods forbid, being put under pressure to be a proper demon. It's really kind of miraculous, really, when you consider it, that they were able to arrive at an arrangement (which, over the, became The Arrangement) roughly during the Crusades, when so much was going on for their respective sides. I imagine that, by them, they would have adopted a pretty casual attitude towards fighting each other, simply doing their jobs - but says a lot about both of them that they came to and were self-aware enough to come up with something as formalised as an "arrangement". Once again, Aziraphale's attitude would likely have been the greater hurdle, so the Crusade era makes sense - it's a very small-scale Apocalypse, in a way, a lot of suffering for a holy cause, and Aziraphale would likely have already started feeling the isolation and disconnect he has to come to terms with later on.

Another moment from the book I really loved was the absolutely casual way Crowley rants away in order of priority Aziraphale's list of hobbies. The focus of the scene was their decision to stop the Apocalypse, not so much their background, but it was also character-establishing in the best way possible. One of the better parts of the early chapters was seeing how these two creatures had progressed and changed from the serpent of Eden and the angel of the Eastern Gate to these two fully fledged, unique personalities.

"(I have 2 icons from this artist, Pika-la-Cynique. The web-comic in question is The Girls Next Door, and it's a multi-fandom meta crossover in which Aziraphale and Crowley are so in-character and so endearingly themselves that I can't even begin to tell you."

Yes, I've already read it (well, all the pages with GO, to be precise ^^;) during my habitual stalking of the Good Omens updates on Deviantart. The Azzie/Crowley depictions were simply the best, that's true. I particularly loved their meta discussion on slash, and Crowley casually draping himself half-naked over the table. Gah, I think the line "drunken tangle of limbs and wings" single-handedly transformed me into an AC shipper, back when I was still new to the fandom. I'm serious. O_O


"By the way, I've friended you; is that all right? I see you don't post much to your LJ itself, but I like talking to you, and friending is how I keep track of people. Feel free to reciprocate if you like.)"

It's all right, sure, but I *really* don't use LJ except for lurking & reading. All of the stuff I post is either on my Deviantart gallery, my Tumblr or my AO3 page. Mostly I do fanart (read: wing smut), though I've kind of gone crazy and written this 30k-word series of fic during the past month.
AO3: http://archiveofourown.org/series/21055
Tumblr: http://kaytara-art.tumblr.com/tagged/fanart

Edited at 2012-07-06 09:48 pm (UTC)
(she lives between pages): Hold My Heartirisbleufic on July 7th, 2012 12:18 am (UTC)
Naked? Wow, did I miss that bit? I remember him in a dressing gown with the shoulder sort of falling down suggestively, but not nakedness. I'll have to re-check that...

Another moment from the book I really loved was the absolutely casual way Crowley rants away in order of priority Aziraphale's list of hobbies. The focus of the scene was their decision to stop the Apocalypse, not so much their background, but it was also character-establishing in the best way possible. One of the better parts of the early chapters was seeing how these two creatures had progressed and changed from the serpent of Eden and the angel of the Eastern Gate to these two fully fledged, unique personalities.

That they know each other's fondnesses and weaknesses is, perhaps, the real clincher in all of this - and especially from the perspective of moving the relationship forward from the not inconsiderable place it's in already :) The affection is so deep and abiding that you do seriously wonder how early on the Arrangement gained the capital letter, when the fighting really ceased to be...well, here's the thing, I wonder if they ever actually had to ever seriously harm each other to begin with, seeing as they're relatively amicable with each other in Eden to start off. I have such a hard time imagining them coming to blows worse than, say, Aziraphale thwapping Crowley over the head with a book or snake!Crowley inflicting a not particularly hard and not particularly poisonous bite ;)

Thanks for the links; noted and brought up in tabs.
hekaterashekateras on July 7th, 2012 08:11 am (UTC)
"Naked? Wow, did I miss that bit? I remember him in a dressing gown with the shoulder sort of falling down suggestively, but not nakedness. I'll have to re-check that..."

Er, well, I guess "half-naked" is a sliding scale, but I do seem to recall the dressing gown sort of completely slipping off his shoulders and leaving him bare-chested at that point, and hissing into Azzie's ear... Heh, I know why people write historical smut, yeah, tempter!Crowley is just so much fun. :D

" I have such a hard time imagining them coming to blows worse than, say, Aziraphale thwapping Crowley over the head with a book or snake!Crowley inflicting a not particularly hard and not particularly poisonous bite ;)"

True, and there is that one passage that says all Aziraphale had ever done to get rid of demons was drop a hint that he needed to work, and that seems to speak against serious fighting in the past (though he could simply have stopped remembering that part). Still, that's what teh angst and teh drahma are for. For some reason I enjoy the idea of them slipping back, relationship-wise, from their amicability in the Garden while stationed on Earth, at least initially - I think they'd both need time to adjust to living among humans and that time would not necessarily be conducive to buddying up with the other guy. Also, there must have been times when they had conflicting orders and discorporating the other would've been the most convenient way of accomplishing them, before they learned to (or accepted the idea of) maneuvering around their duties. So I do think there would likely have been fighting involved at some point, even if increasingly half-hearted as time went on (and am currently writing a little Crusade-era piece just on that).

Thanks for checking out my fic and DAwatching me, it is a great honour. ^^
(she lives between pages): Fairytaleirisbleufic on July 7th, 2012 02:48 pm (UTC)
No problem :) I keep a DA account for following and commenting on artists whose (primarily GO) stuff I enjoy looking at. As for LJ, the add does seem to have stuck this time, so, if you like, feel free to add back. However, if you're not an account that adds back, I have a quirk about my numbers balancing - so just let me know if you don't, and I'll shift you over as one of my bookmarks instead. OCD is a terrible thing; I wish I could kick it, but medication really didn't make a shred of difference.
spfi_duospfi_duo on July 7th, 2012 10:26 pm (UTC)
(Nam)

First: I agree with all statements which have been made here.

Second: I blame you both for the archive crawl I just endured, and the burning of snorted soda from laughing so hard.

Thank you for both~
Kiersen: aziraphaleknacc on June 21st, 2012 06:45 am (UTC)
Knaccfornerdiness here! Thank you for your kind words about my little addition to her already great essay. You really made my day by saying that since I love your stories and the way you perceive our boys in general. So yeah, thank you so much!
(she lives between pages): Seen & Unseenirisbleufic on June 21st, 2012 11:35 am (UTC)
You're very welcome :) You're on my flist already; I recognized the "knacc" part of the name attached to the addendum above and wondered if it was you!
Kiersenknacc on June 21st, 2012 06:15 am (UTC)
Hi! This is knaccfornerdiness's LJ and I'm honored that you included my little additions to your already excellent essay when you posted it here. Thank you so much, and I think I'll friend you on here if that is alright?
mizstorge: Unredeemedmizstorge on June 21st, 2012 12:39 pm (UTC)
'...of the devil's party..."
I enjoyed reading your perceptive essay! ♥ ♥ ♥
Just want to add a few comments and, since it appears that the last person to whom I loaned the book kept it, I apologise in advance as I'm quoting the novel from internet sources.

In a very blunt nutshell, Aziraphale thinks Crowley is evil.
This is one of Aziraphale's humanizing characteristics: he feels morally superior (holier-than-thou, actually) about not not having Fallen himself. The description of Crowley's Fall as a "vaguely downward saunter" is not only mitigation by the authors of his demonic status but reveals the essential fragility of Aziraphale's simplistic view of things. While it appears that Crowley was a less than enthusiastic participant in the Rebellion of Lucifer's Angels, Aziraphale's conduct as Angel of the Eastern Gate indicates an attitude toward his Fallen brethren as rather more piously disapproving than vengeful.

The reader is treated to a more rounded view of Crowley and demons in general.
I am fascinated both as a writer and as a reader in those techniques that make a bad guy into a sympathetic protagonist. Milton did it so well with Lucifer in Paradise Lost that Blake famously remarked that Milton "...was of the devil's party without knowing" and Shelley agreed that "Milton gives the Devil all imaginable advantage".

Their likable depiction of Crowley makes it readily apparent that Pratchett and Gaiman are also of the devil's party - though definitely not of The Devil's party. While Paradise Lost depicts a hierarchical universe with God and the angels as having greater power than Lucifer, the other fallen angels and the denizens of the earth, Good Omens takes a humanistic stance and places a value on human nature that is equal to divine and hellish powers. The Angels of Heav'n and Demons in Hell are made into bureaucratic supporters of extreme factions that are so preoccupied with their own squabbles that they would destroy Creation without a second thought. Aziraphale and Crowley become the default protectors of Creation precisely because neither of them ever completely bought into the propaganda of the sides to which they nominally belong and ironically, in never having done so, are probably (though not certainly) doing a more perfect job of following God’s Will.
Solo: Plannersolo on June 21st, 2012 01:18 pm (UTC)
That's a really cool essay, I enjoyed reading it and it makes total sense. The thing about Aziraphale and his prejudices is... yeah. Poor Crowley. He does deserve hugs.

Thank you for putting it together.
H. Savinien: Disc - Just peoplehsavinien on June 26th, 2012 06:36 am (UTC)
Mm, very well articulated. I'll definitely have to reread and think about this some more.
heretherebefic: catsheretherebefic on June 27th, 2012 07:33 am (UTC)
It might be the late (er, early) hour, but this nearly brought me to tears. And I mean that in the best possible way. Awesome analysis! (both of you!)
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