dial 616

"Christ on a crutch," said Crowley.

Aziraphale looked up from a dedicated dissection of his Eggs Benedict1 and reproved the minor blasphemy,


"Bugger, bugger, bugger."

Aziraphale reached over and gently pushed Crowley's newspaper flat against the table, scanning the pages to see if he could spot what had upset the demon so much.

"What is it, my dear?"

"Those sodding mortals. I knew I should have destroyed that manuscript when I had the chance."


Now that really was a minor blasphemy.

"Nossy damned cockroachesss. Look!"

Crowley swung The Independent around and stabbed vigorously at an article, poking little rents in the paper with one suddenly razor-sharp fingernail.3 Aziraphale quickly started reading before it was turned into confetti.

"They've finally managed to decipher those Oxyrhynchus texts? How delightful!" he looked up and noted the radiant yellow of Crowley's eyes, "Er. Or not."

"You realisse what it means, don't you?"

"What, the fact they've finally worked out 616 is the actual number of the Beast, not 666?"

Crowley nodded. Aziraphale thought.

"No. Not really."

"It's like handing out Justin Timberlake's telephone number to a group of pubescent fangirls with mobiles. Every lamed-brained half-assed pseudo-Satanist is going to be ringing up and trying it out."

"666 always seemed to work before."

Crowley hissed in annoyance.

"Not really. It's like fine-tuning a radio to the exact band, instead of just getting general background noise. This is going to be a nightmare."

Crowley, Aziraphale realised, really did look very unhappy about it. He quickly finished reading the article.

"The Satanists do say they'll only change to using 616 if the Christians do."

"Yes, well, thinking for themselves isn't exactly what supporters of the Antichrist are renowned for, now is it?"

Aziraphale twinkled. He loved listening to Crowley grumble about the stupidity of Satanists. Crowley glared.

"It isn't funny, angel. This means more business travel. Head Office interference. Probable reinforcements to keep up with the workload. Overtime."

The last was said with a tone of dismayed horror.

Aziraphale frowned. This wouldn't do. This wouldn't do at all.

"How about I drop a word or two in various evangelists' ears? After all, 666 is the accepted tradition."

"Isn't that a little deceitful of you?" Crowley began to look amused, "Altering the word of You-Know-Who?"

"Hmph! I'm not!" Aziraphale huffed at him, "I'm trying to help you here. And it's not as though gematria really translates logically between languages anyway - and certainly none of them are using the original Aramaic or Greek."

"And such poorly written Greek at that," muttered Crowley.

Aziraphale was sure answering that comment would be a minor blasphemy on his part.4

"Somehow," he offered, "'616' just doesn't quite have the ring of '666'."

"You're going to make this into a fashion statement?"

The amusement had broken through the surface now.

"Well, I'm sure Iron Maiden would agree with you. All right," Crowley continued, nodding at him, "It's worth a shot. You talk to your people. I'll talk to mine."

And with that decided, Crowley went back to reading the newspaper and Aziraphale went back to his Eggs Benedict.

Usually Aziraphale just had tea and toast when they went to breakfast, but today was Sunday, and therefore a day for celebration. And to Aziraphale's mind a dish of Eggs Benedict - quite aside from being very aptly named after a saint2 - was definitely a celebration of the bounty of the Lord.

2. It wasn't actually, but Aziraphale was very good at ignoring little facts like that - after all, the person the dish was named after would have been named after Saint Benedict anyway, wouldn't they?

3. Aziraphale had noticed Crowley's fingernails tended to sharpen and blacken when the demon got annoyed. He'd refrained from mentioning it when it happened however, not just out of politeness (because it didn't seem a very snaky characteristic so it was probably a demonic characteristic, which he really didn't want to go into), but also from the suspicion that telling Crowley he looked like he was copying one of those bizarre young 'gothick' people would degenerate into a diatribe about how Crowley had been there for millennia and those bizarre young 'gothick' people were copying him.

4. No matter how true it was. And it was.

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