Disclaimer: I own none of the characters to be found herein.
A/N: Yet another Good Omens ficlet I wrote years ago, but didn't get round to posting here.
Newt and Anathema had been looking forward to a nice, quiet and, above all else, relaxing Saturday evening in all week.
After a day out in London, in which a certain Soho bookshop owner was visited and lunch at The Ritz was grudgingly provided - at said Soho bookshop owner's insistence - courtesy of a certain gentleman with a fondness for vintage cars; the thought of curling up in front of a warm fire with a glass of wine and watching something interesting on the television seemed like a very good idea indeed.
"Are you sure you don't need any help?" asked Newt. His face was filled with so much eager helpfulness that Anathema almost felt her resolve crumble. But no, the incident with the NASA satellite and the visit from the men from MI5 who wanted to find exactly why that nuclear submarine really had been rerouted had been the final straws, there were just some household tasks that Anathema had to insist on doing herself.
"I'll be fine," she replied, plugging the last cable into the back of the new PC. "Why don't you go and open a bottle of wine?"
"White or red?" said Newt, sounding disappointed.
"Um, white please."
After a few seconds the cottage was filled with the sound of an epic struggle between man, corkscrew and bottle of chardonnay. Anathema bit her tongue and fought the urge to go into the kitchen and offer to lend a hand. It really wouldn't be very good for his self-esteem, especially after last week's incident with the power tools, in which she'd had to rescue him from several metres of maliciously tangled electric cord, with the aid of a pair of rusty bolt cutters and the page of her old Girl Guide manual that dealt with knots and the untying thereof. Instead she turned on the computer and watched with satisfaction as the windows desktop appeared without any of the usual bugs, error messages or warnings that the world would end unless the operating system was reinstalled on the night of the next full moon. Reassured that the thing was functioning in an acceptable manner, she clicked the shut down button and resolved to get to grips with it tomorrow morning, before Newt had a chance to 'make improvements to the default configuration'.
Finally Newt emerged back into the living room, triumphantly carrying two glasses and an open bottle of Jacob's Creek.
"So what's this film again?" he asked, handing her a glass.
"It's a recording of the Royal Shakespeare Company's most recent performance of a Midsummer Night's Dream. Aziraphale lent it to me earlier," she replied, reaching for the video cassette lying on the sofa and slotting it into the ancient video recorder(1).
"Well, it saves us having to rent anything I suppose." Newt reached for the remote control; fortunately for the global positioning system, Anathema's hand got there first.
For several moments the screen was blank. Then a grainy, poorly lit picture emerged.
"Well, I don't think much of the camera work, or the set for that matter," said Newt. "It just looks like the inside of somebody's bedroom. You'd think the Royal Shakespeare Company would be able to afford better…. good grief what is that man doing, I'm certain that this wasn't quite what Shakespeare had in mind for his works."
"I think," said Anathema, as the dark-haired man onscreen made it clear that he wasn't going to stop undressing once he reached the waist, "that we might just have the wrong film here."
Newts eyes widened with shock as the level of nudity went swiftly from certificate 15 to certificate 18. "You really wouldn't think that he was the type to watch this sort of thing, would you?"
Anathema shrugged, slightly discomfited yet strangely fascinated by the direction the onscreen action was taking. "I suppose you never can tell. Besides, I thought it was pretty obvious that he's gay."
"Yes, but this is a bit tacky isn't it. I mean, just look at that, nobody's that supple, are they?"
"I suspect," said Anathema, as the camera zoomed in on the dark-haired man's face, "that Anthony is."
Had Newt's eyebrows shot up any further it is highly likely that they would have taken off into orbit. "Bloody hell."
Disengaging from her startled staring, Anathema hit the stop button on the remote and the image of Anthony J Crowley pleasuring himself on a tartan bedspread was replaced by the Geordie grins of Ant and Dec.
"Anathema, what exactly are we going to say to him when we give the video back? I really don't think I could manage 'hello, you seem to have lent us a home made pornographic movie by mistake'."
"Well," said Anathema, in the voice she used when other people were panicking and the situation was crying out for calmness and reasonableness, "we'll just say that we had visitors and didn't manage to watch it."
"But what if he tells us that we can keep it for another week?"
For a few seconds Anathema considered this possible scenario carefully. "If that happens then we'll tell him that it didn't work and the video recorder chewed up the tape."
Newt nodded in a relieved fashion. "So what are we going to do for the rest of the evening? There's absolutely nothing worth watching on the TV.
Anathema wrapped an arm around his shoulders. "I think I've got a good idea."
A distinctly schoolboyish grin settled on Newt's face. His shock at seeing more of Aziraphale's friend than he'd ever wanted to, at once replaced by images he found far more appealing. "And what sort of idea would that be?"
Anathema merely smiled and began to toy with the top button of his collar.
Just as things looked like they might just be about to move into full on shirt unbuttonment however, there was a loud knock at the door, swiftly followed by an impatient call of 'hurry up laddie, we're freezin' out 'ere'.
"Shadwell!" exclaimed Newt in surprised. "What's he doing here?"
"No idea," said Anathema, "but you can't just leave him out there. It's the middle of November."
Newt unenthusiastically got to his feet and walked to the door, whereupon he found a rather drunk Shadwell and rather underdressed (for a November climate at least) Madam Tracy standing on the path. Both looked very cold and very wet.
"Er, hello," he said.
"Are ye' goin' tae have us standing here all night?" demanded Shadwell, pushing his way past Newt and into the cottage.
"Well, er, no," said Newt, ushering Madam Tracy into the sitting room.
"What on earth are you doing here?" asked Newt, as Shadwell took a disapproving look at Anathema, the furnishings and the new computer."
"I'll tell yeh," roared Shadwell, clearly very angry. "It was that coach driver."
Madam Tracy nodded with an exasperated, yet rather fond, sigh. "We were just coming back from our holiday in Dorset. He got into a bit of an argument with the driver and some of the other passengers."
"I thought she was a witch, she was gibberin' away like one."
"He thought that one of the other passengers was trying to curse him," Madam Tracy explained. "She's ninety-four and talks in her sleep, you see. Anyway, there was an almighty fuss and he demanded that she prove she wasn't a witch."
Newt gulped. "You mean he tried to stab her with a pin?"
Newt's expression went from aghast to horrified. "You mean he asked her how many... you know, she'd got?"
Madam Tracy nodded. "I think the driver got really angry when she decided to show everybody that she only had the normal number. Anyway, he threw us off about ten miles up the road and we caught a taxi here. You don't mind us staying the night, do you?"
Anathema and Newt shared a look. It was one of exasperation, mild annoyance and resignation.
"Of course not," said Anathema, "we'll make up the spare bed."
So much, she thought, as Shadwell launched into a diatribe about the wickedness of modern life, for our quiet night in.
(1) Anathema and Newt had managed to get through a long series of not so ancient video recorders and DVD players; however it seemed that only the bulky, oversized machine that used to belong to Anathema's parents was the only piece of audio visual equipment in Jasmine Cottage capable of surviving more than two months with Newt.