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Some time has passed since Eden, but neither of them is very sure how much. It is a new concept still, time, and though they’re aware of days passing by, there doesn’t seem to be much point in keeping track of them. The world is so large, and the days so many.

They meet again in a very, very small village, more of a settlement still, that nestles in a grove of trees at the edges of the desert. It is not their first encounter since the Garden, but it is the first in which they do more than awkwardly not-acknowledge each other’s continued existence in this new and growing world.

Aziraphael comes upon him on his way out of town, sitting in the shade of some trees, just outside the reach of the westernmost houses. He’s perched on a low wall made of smooth, rounded stones that are warm from the sun, eating a fruit of some kind.[1] It’s too late to turn around and pretend not to have noticed him. And anyway, Aziraphael reasons, what’s the harm?

[1]Aziraphael is sure it must have a name, but the earth is so unfathomably full of things, and they all have names, and how is one supposed to keep it all straight?

So he keeps on going, and when he reaches the wall he stops.

“Ah,” he says, half acknowledgement, half attempted judgement, though for what precisely he isn’t sure. Something, certainly. Didn’t a man fall ill in the village just two days ago? “The Serpent of Eden.”

The Serpent—Crawly, Aziraphael recalls—inclines his head towards him, taking a bite out of his fruit. He doesn’t look much like a serpent anymore these days, but human only so long as you don’t look too close.

“The Angel of the Eastern Gate,” Crawly returns, mimicking the haughty, formal tone Aziraphael had started them out with, and Aziraphael immediately feels a little silly for it. Crawly grins. “What’s your name, anyway? You never said.”

“Oh...” Apologies, Aziraphael almost says, but then he doesn’t. That would be taking things a bit too far, he thinks. This is still the Enemy. “Aziraphael.”

“Aziraphael,” repeats Crawly—or tries to, because halfway through the word he chokes. Quite badly. The fruit tumbles out of his hand and rolls away on the dirt path, gathering a layer of grime as it goes, while Crawly retches and sputters and almost falls off his wall.

Aziraphael’s hands twitch at his sides, as if drawn to help, but he cuts the motion short and only stands nervously wringing his hands, until Crawly drags in a wheezing breath, rubs his narrow chest and sits back up.

“Nghk,” he rasps, somewhat frazzled. “What in G- in S- in someone’s name was tha–” But then he stills, and looks at Aziraphael, and says: “…Oh.”

It is a very low noise; barely more than a breath. The demon in front of him suddenly looks quietly shaken, and there is something in his eyes that speaks of loss. Aziraphael doesn’t understand.

„Is everything all right?” he inquires, awkwardly. “Perhaps you should not eat and speak at the same time, it can be quite the—”

“It’s your name,” Crawly says as if he hasn’t heard. Then he laughs. It sounds oddly hollow. “Shit.”

“I’m afraid you’re not making sense.”

Crawly turns his eyes on him, yellow and reptilian, and together with the hard, sardonic grin suddenly twisting his features they seem demonic—other—in a way Aziraphael has never registered before. “It’sss angelic,” Crawly says. “It’s divine. It contains the name of God.

Now it’s Aziraphael’s turn to stare. “Oh,” he says. “Oh, I—I didn’t realize that could happen.”

“Yeah, no kidding,” mutters Crawly, mouth tight, glaring fixedly at the ground to his bare (and oddly scaly-looking) feet.

I’m sorry, Aziraphael wants to say. He doesn’t.

In fact, he can’t think of a single thing to say at all. The gulf that spans wide between them, inherent and utterly irreversible—the finality of what they each are and what it all means—abruptly feels dizzyingly prominent to Aziraphael, out here in the baking midday sun. But at the same time, he is surprised by his own reluctance to acknowledge its existence; a strange, stubborn unwillingness to let it get a word in edgewise.

The obvious next thing to say, something along the lines of well-that’s-what-you-lot-deserve, didn’t-have-to-go-and-Fall-did-you,seems, in the face of Crawly’s rather visible distress, like nothing so much as cruelty.

Floundering, Aziraphael looks around; the trees, the grove, the path to his feet. No immediate solution presents itself.

“Well!” he proclaims rather loudly, making Crawly’s eyes snap up to his. “Well, be that as it may, I—I really must be going. Much to get on with, you know how it is. Business.”

“Business,” echoes Crawly, watching as Aziraphael bends down and scoops something out of the dirt to his feet. “Right, yes.”

“Yes. Right. Erm,” says Aziraphael. “Here.” He steps in closer, just long enough to hand Crawly back his fruit—dust-free and good as new—and makes a hasty exit.

 

***

 

The next time they properly meet, they’re both several hundred miles further south, and the humans have begun to count the days and add them up, into months and years and what-have-you. They draw calendars on clay tablets—they write things on clay tablets—and Aziraphael can’t help but feel terribly enamoured by the whole thing.

He and Crawly have been in and out of each other’s periphery and in and out of each other’s business with surprising regularity, and though they don’t often stop to speak for long, there will usually be a nod exchanged, or a brief greeting, not unfriendly, unless there’s direct cause for it... and more often than not there isn’t. Their jobs are to do Good and spread Evil, respectively, and although sabotaging each other in these endeavours is implicitly expected, they manage to stay out of each other’s hair for the most part.[2] It is simply so much less of an effort this way, and Aziraphael suspects that he and Crawly are well on the same page in that regard.

[2]Some notable exceptions aside, but those are generally very unpleasant for everyone involved and really not worth dwelling on.

So he couldn't have said he was expecting it — being quite busy with a significantly more involved, time-sensitive, and, to boot, properly Heaven-ordained miracle, and having not seen any sign of demonic activity for a good twenty years — but when over at the edge of the small marketplace a man suddenly screams, drawing every gaze around, and points with a quaking finger at a cloaked figure’s face, Aziraphael instantly takes notice.

Before he has taken more than two steps, the man who gave the alarm has already fallen silent again, just as abruptly as he began shouting. He turns on his heel and continues on his merry way with a sedately absent smile, but by then three, four, five others have picked up the cry, in mounting confusion.

The figure at the root of all this uproar slinks away into a side street, quick as a startled snake.

Aziraphael catches up to him anyway, silencing the remaining few witnesses with a discreet little miracle that he hopes Heaven won’t look too closely at. Preserving the peace and the untroubled atmosphere in the face of an unknown disturbance, if anyone were to ask.

“Is that you there, Crawly?” he calls into the twisting alleyway, and soon enough the demon emerges from between its shadows, a disgruntled look in his slitted yellow eyes.

“Damn people and their superstitions,” he grouses, throwing nervous glances back at the market square. “Getting around used to be easier when there weren’t quite so bloody many of them.”

“Well, you can hardly call their fears unfounded,” says Aziraphael reasonably. “They suspect creatures of Evil walking among them, masquerading as humans, and are they wrong?”

“Maybe not but they’re annoying,” Crawly says peevishly, his fingers twisting restless in the folds of his robes. “I really hate it when that happens. I mean, who are they to judge? I might not even be doing anything!”

Aziraphael makes a sympathetic noise.

“It’s bad for business.”

“Quite.”

There’s a pause.

“Well, listen, I don’t know what your business here is,” Aziraphael gestures back to the marketplace, the city as a whole, “but I’m really in the middle of something quite big here, and, not to tell you not to do your job or anything, but this has taken a lot of time and effort, and I would be quite cross if something were to go wrong with it.”

That’s an understatement, and a big one. Proper angelic protocol would have him chase any demons that dared to so much as show the tip of their nose around something so important out of town and preferably right back to Hell with the help of a good smiting. But Crawly looks travel-weary and dusty,[3] and Aziraphael can’t help but feel like it would be heartless to chase him anywhere. Besides, it isn’t as if he has done anything yet, really. It’s almost nice to see him again.

[3]He never warmed up to camels—or, to put it more accurately, the race of camels as a whole has never warmed up to him, which results in a lot of miles travelled by foot.

Crawly, still working off some remnant nervous energy, is uselessly dusting off his shirtsleeves, stepping in closer as he considers Aziraphael’s words. He’s clad in the fashion of the men of the region, though the scarf covering his head is of the variety worn mostly by the women; an odd little mixture that is sure to draw some eyes all by itself. Darting a curious glance back at the marketplace, then at Aziraphael, he tilts his head. “I won’t meddle,” he says at last. “I'm not here on orders anyway. Although—” he flashes a sharp grin up at Aziraphael, “—you do make it sound really tempting.”

“I’m telling you—”

“Relax, angel,” Crawly raises his hands, palms out. “I won’t, I just said.”

“I should not even let you be here,” Aziraphael huffs. “I mean it. If any of my superiors get wind that I didn’t drive you out into the desert the minute I saw you—”

“Do they ever come down here?” Crawly asks dubiously.

“Well—no, mostly, but you never know; as I told you this is all rather important. There are stakes and such involved. They’re invested. To be altogether honest with you, I am invested. So I will tolerate your presence here, but make no mistake, one wrong step and...”

Aziraphael deliberately lets the sentence trail off, in a manner that he hopes sounds just foreboding and menacing enough that Crawly might fill in the blanks himself.

“Okay,” Crawly says easily. “But in exchange, how about you come down to the riverside this evening? If you’re all done with everything, I mean.”

Aziraphael raises his eyebrows. “And what for, pray tell?”

Crawly shrugs. “I just thought we might... I don’t know. I mean. It might be nice? I have wine and, um. Well I have wine.” He glances up at Aziraphael, his off-hand manner undermined by something uncertain and almost hopeful. “’d be nice to have the company.”

Aziraphael thinks about it.

Which he shouldn't. He really shouldn’t. Having a chat every now and then was one thing, setting up deliberate meetings quite another. He is sure Heaven would disapprove.

Then again, it would be nice to have some company, and …

“Some wine, did you say?”

Really, what can it hurt.

 

The riverside is quiet by night, although it’s still very warm and not yet fully dark, and a little upstream small gaggles of humans are about, wading in the shallows. Aziraphael sighs contentedly. There really is little better than basking in the satisfaction of a day’s work well done, the guaranteed, throughout approval of your superiors, and the knowledge that this means they will leave you alone for the foreseeable future and you can therefore proceed to forget all about them.

The demon has brought the promised bottle of wine, and they share it back and forth between them. It is a rather mediocre vintage, but Aziraphael doesn’t feel like any more miracling tonight, and neither, it seems, does Crawly. They take the wine as-is, and the company, too. (Which, as it turns out, is quite a lot better than the wine, if still a little wobbly on its feet; uncharted and unpractised.)

“Peaceful,” says Crawly after a while. “’S nice.”

“Hm.” Aziraphael takes a sip. “Yes it is, isn’t it?” Just then, deep between the houses to their left, somebody yells something very loudly, and something shatters, and something else falls over. More yelling. “Although I hear that just this afternoon, somebody whispered to one of the merchants that it was his oldest neighbor who stole his priced donkey years ago, and now their two families are—how do you say—very much at each other’s throats.”

Crawly swallows and throws him a nervous glance. “Oh? Well that’s unfortunate.”

“Oh, don’t bother,” says Aziraphael lazily, not looking up from where the water laps at his feet. “I know it was you.”

A silence.

“And, uh. You’re not going to chase me out of town?” Crawly asks, looking tense. “You know, get thee gone, foul fiend and all that?”

Aziraphael purses his lips. “I don’t see why I should.”

An inelegant snort emanates from Crawly. “Oh, I don’t know," he says, "how about—”

But Aziraphael cuts him short. “No matter what you told that poor merchant, you didn’t meddle into my business as promised, and therefore I see no reason whatsoever to do anything like that.” He passes the bottle back, adding very firmly: “You’re a demon, it’s what you do. We can still have a drink together.”

Crawly blinks, slowly, and takes the bottle.

They look out onto the river. A swarm of birds passes overhead and alights on the far bank, wings flashing white over the water. After a while, Crawly speaks again.

“I changed it, actually.”

“Hm?” Aziraphael stirs from his thoughts. “Sorry, changed what?”

“My name,” says Crawly. “It’s. Um. It’s Crowley, now. Has been for a bit.”

Aziraphael studies him curiously. “You didn’t want to keep the old one?”

“Not really.”

“It sounds almost the same.”

“Yes but it isn’t,” he says with emphasis. “It’s different. It’s a different name.”

Aziraphael hums as he thinks this over. Then, on a whim, he extends his hand, open palm outstretched, the way he’s seen the humans do now that there’s so many of them that they don’t all know each other by default. “Well in that case, I suppose... since we never really got around to this the proper way: It’s good to meet you, Crowley.”

The demon—Crowley—looks at the offered hand a moment, and then, unexpectedly, he laughs, bright and startlingly beautiful. He takes it.

“Good to meet you too, Azirap—”

And then he chokes, and retches, and half the wine ends up in the river as Aziraphael, alarmed, scoots closer to pat him ineffectually and clumsily on the back.

“Oh dear,” he says, and fumbles for something he can give Crowley to wipe his mouth with—he’s coughed up spit and some of the wine, and there’s a faint but no less foul-smelling whiff of sulphur on his breath. “Oh dear me, wait a minute—here—” The cloth that he produces has surely not been in his hand a second ago, but it does its job just fine before winking back out of existence. “That’s better, yes? Are you all right?”

“Fine, ‘m fine,” wheezes Crowley, still doubled over his own knees. “I think I just—I forgot.”

“I’m very sorry,” Aziraphael says. It feels equally as useless as back when he didn’t say it.

“’s fine,” repeats Crowley doggedly. He sits up, looking shaky and a little ill. Aziraphael, finding that his hand is still somehow resting on Crowley’s back, quickly takes it away. “Ngah, this taste in my mouth is disgusting, though, where’s the—aw, dammit.”

He grabs for the upended bottle, but it’s too late to salvage more than a few dregs. Sighing deeply, Crowley takes a quick look around, frowns at the river, and seconds later a small stream of reddish liquid has filtered out of it and sloshed back into the bottle in his hand.

Crowley holds it up as if for inspection and Aziraphael makes a face. “Oh, it’ll be all watery now.”

“To be fair, it was plenty watery before that.”

Aziraphael huffs, half laughter, half good-natured exasperation, and Crowley shrugs expansively before he sets the bottle to his lips and takes several large, determined swallows, wiping his mouth on his sleeve and putting the bottle aside.

“Well—angel.” With a small, resigned smile at the substitute, Crowley holds out his hand once more. “I guess here’s to better wine the next time.”

“Better wine and better luck,” agrees Aziraphael. “And … perhaps something to eat?”

They shake on it.

 

***

 

The thing is, Crowley seems to keep forgetting. One moment Aziraphael thinks he’s got it now—Crowley calling him “Angel”, or by whatever human approximation of his name he goes by at the time, or simply nothing specific—and the next they haven’t seen each other in a century or two and it starts all over again: an exclamation in greeting or a moment of drunken laughter cut short by Crowley doubling over and hacking into the dust.

“Well it’s just ... that’s how I think of you, right?” Crowley explains to him once. “I don’t constantly refer to you as angel in my head, I use your name, so whenever I don’t see you for a while I’ve just gotten really used to that.”

Do you think of me a lot, then, wonders Aziraphael, but he doesn’t say it. If Crowley is anything like him, then the thought of his Adversary, his counter-part on Earth, has long become that same quiet background hum, reverberating unobtrusive but ever-present through the centuries. Aziraphale carries it with him: the sense that, however different they are from each other and however far apart, somewhere out there is another just like him, and so it doesn’t matter how much time he lets slip past by accident; it doesn’t matter how often he returns to a settlement and reaches a city, searches out old familiar paths and finds them changed and grown and different, and all the people he once knew long dead. It doesn’t matter (or... it doesn't matter quite so much) because he knows with irrevocable certainty that on one of these days, in one of these places, he will happen upon Crowley again, and Crowley will be eternally, reassuringly the same.

Experience has taught him that it might happen in any place, at any time. The thought, Aziraphael has to admit to himself, has become a disconcertingly comforting one. So, yes, if Crowley is anything like him, then he supposes he knows the answer.

But everything has its limit, and enough is enough.

Through a combination of exceedingly unfortunate coincidences (as well as some ill-thought-out decision-making on their part) he and Crowley end up on opposite sides of a battle. It’s more of a slightly-larger skirmish, really, but the threat is real enough, and Aziraphael takes great pains to stay as far away from Crowley as he possibly can without bailing on the going-ons entirely. As long as he doesn’t come face-to-face with him, he reckons there’s no need to make any decisions on how to deal with the situation should it arise.

Unfortunately, the currents of the slightly-larger skirmish have a mind of their own. When he next looks over, he finds himself much closer to Crowley than he had intended to get. When he looks over again, there’s only a few people between them. And when he looks over the third time, he realizes that he might have done well to concentrate a little more on the fighting at hand and a little less on looking over, because then Crowley sees him and his eyes go wide.

“Angel!” he calls in warning—but the sword, unseen from behind, slides between Aziraphael’s ribs in that very same moment. “Azira-hrgk—”

The last thing Aziraphael hears as he sinks to his knees is Crowley once again choking on his name, and the last thing he sees as his vision goes black is one of the men he’s been fighting with driving his sword with vindictive satisfaction through Crowley’s throat.

 

Heaven is white, and silent, and thrumming.

The angelic administrator acknowledges him with barely more than a glance, form and stamp at the ready.[4] “Same as the last one?” he wants to know.

[4]In later millennia, Heaven would begin to get damnably difficult about issuing out new bodies, introducing additional policies and paperwork left and right. But these were early days, and Aziraphael had been good about not showing up there too often.

“No,” says Aziraphael, pressing a hand hard to his chest to dull the phantom ache. “Well—yes—but there’s something I have to do first.”

 

***

 

Crowley takes a lot longer to come back.

“They weren’t too thrilled with the way I kicked the bucket last time,” is all he says about it when he finally shows up again, even further north this time, and almost seven years later. He eyes the little reception room they’ve found themselves in. “You’re renting rooms? Under what name?”

“Oh, no alias at all this time. You know I was never all that fond of the old one. No, I’m ‘Mr. Aziraphale’, and any other information is my private business—the people are very good about it here, really, so I thought, why not do it like this for a while.”[5]

[5] He had, in fact, been doing it like this ever since returning from that last, unfortunate discorporation, waiting for Crowley to show back up, but this seems like much too embarrassing a thing to mention, and thus something Crowley doesn’t need to know.

He smiles at Crowley, who is regarding him with a confused little tilt of his head. “Is anything the matter?”

“...’Aziraphale’?” repeats Crowley dubiously, raises a serpentine eyebrow—

—and nothing happens. No coughing, no gagging, not so much as a hitch in his breath. Aziraphale tries not to look unbearably smug about it (that sort of thing is not considered very becoming for an angel), but his face must be giving something of his feelings away despite his best attempt at composure. Crowley is certainly looking at him funny. “How come?”

“Oh, I just felt like a change, that’s all,” chirps Aziraphale, elegantly omitting the eternities of heavenly paperwork that litter his more-or-less-recent past.

Crowley shakes his head. “It’s almost the same.”

“Yes, but it’s not,” says Aziraphale, good cheer bubbling up inside him like a balloon. “It’s different.” He pats a very confused looking Crowley on the back, this time just because he wants to, not because anyone is choking on anyone else’s divinity, and turns to head down the street. “Dinner, my dear?”

Crowley takes the offered arm, happy to let himself be towed along to wherever Aziraphale has already determined the best food is to be had. Only halfway to their table does his puzzled frown suddenly clear, making way to a halting, astonished sort of wonder.

“Oh,” he whispers, all but inaudible. “It’s... oh.”

“Say what, dear boy?” inquires Aziraphale pleasantly. For several whole seconds Crowley just stares at him, slack-jawed and eyes wide. Then he quickly shakes his head, squeezing Aziraphale’s arm tightly before he lets go.

“Nothing,” he says, “nothing, I’m—do they—have you tried the wine here?”

“Now, really,” says Aziraphale, “of course I have tried the wine. It’s excellent.” He turns to signal to one of the servers, and catches out of the corner of his eye Crowley mouthing the name to himself, trying it out, silently, under his breath. For one plummeting second, Aziraphale thinks it was all just a fluke when he hears Crowley’s breath hitch … and then he realizes it’s laughter, just as soundless as the word.

The soft, incredulous little smile on Crowley’s face when Aziraphale turns back around to him, he knows with some inexplicable and instantaneous conviction, is something he will remember, undimmed by millennia, no matter how long he may live; no matter where the world may take them.

“Aziraphale,” Crowley repeats, aloud this time. He weighs his head to the side, careful, as if pondering the very first sip of a new bottle of wine. His eyes are shining. “I think I like it.”

 

***

 

The rocking chair had come with the house, and instead of throwing it out with the rest of the less than useful and rickety old furniture, Aziraphale had sat in it once and instantly declared it exempt from any of Crowley’s haphazard attempts at de-cluttering. Crowley had cackled, saying Aziraphale must be really determined to perfect his “old-man aesthetic”, to which Aziraphale had retorted that at well over 6000 years of age he was certainly old enough, man or not, to do precisely whatever he bloody well pleased, thank you very much.

Now the rocking chair has found its place on the porch, looking out over their almost unsettlingly lush and verdant garden. Aziraphale, who likes to spend his afternoon reading hours in it, is rocking leisurely back and forth, occasionally turning a page, occasionally just watching the butterflies in the nearby hibiscus bush. Crowley, who likes to spend his afternoon naps in Aziraphale’s lap, is being rocked leisurely back and forth by proxy, occasionally snuffling a half-asleep breath into Aziraphale’s neck.

When some clouds find the sun and sudden shadow drenches them, Crowley stirs, curling closer. Absently, Aziraphale strokes a hand over his back, warding off the chill before it can settle in and eliciting a very approving little hum from Crowley, whose fingers start tracing idle patterns in the short hair at the back of Aziraphale’s neck.

The sun comes back out; a thrush stops by and departs again.

“’ziraphale?”

“Hmm?”

“Is it… was it different? When you changed your name, did it ever feel as if something was … changed?”

Aziraphale frowns slightly. “Changed how?”

“Mh," says Crowley. "Nevermind.”

Letting a convenient leaf flutter in and settle between the pages, Aziraphale closes his book and glances down at Crowley. “Changed how, dear?”

Crowley shrugs. “Nothing, really, I was just wondering if it ever felt any less… less angelic, you know. Less connected. After all, that’s why none of us—” he makes the vague gesture that in their shared non-verbal parlance indicates Hell and everything to do with it, “—got to keep our names. After the Fall. To cut us off from, well, Him, and all that … all that stuff.”

Running his hand slowly up and down Crowley's spine, Aziraphale thinks this over. “I can’t recall anything of the sort, no.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think so. S’ppose it’s still a heavenly name, in a way? If you did it all official and everything.”

“Simply no longer one given by Him,” says Aziraphale, thoughtful. “That must be it, then, mustn’t it? The crucial difference?” He laughs, half-grimacing. “And I certainly filled out enough paperwork to have it be official ten times over. I think they kept coming up with new forms for me to sign just to be contrary. Nobody could understand why an angel could ever want to change their name in the first place.”

“Hm,” says Crowley, fidgeting.

“Proves again that they know nothing, doesn’t it,” says Aziraphale comfortably, shifting a little, about to pick his book back up. But Crowley pushes himself up from where he was curled against Aziraphale’s chest until they’re eye to eye. He looks rather determined.

“You know, I never said anything at the time,” he rushes out, “but I wanted to say—or, I think I should say, um. Well, you didn’t—you didn’t have to do any of that, changing your name around, and you did it anyway and I think you should know that it was really. Well, that I was really ... really thankful that you did it, and it. Er. It's sort of. Meant a lot to me, and that's.. well, uh. Just something that you should know, so. Yeah, I just." He nods once, as if for emphasis. "Yes."

Aziraphale blinks. Then he laughs, brightly, taking Crowley’s hand in his that’s curling into his cardigan. “Oh, Crowley, dearest, I knew that.”

“Oh,” says Crowley. “Right, ok.”

“But it’s very sweet of you to say so,” says Aziraphale, crooning a bit, just because he knows it gets Crowley so terribly flustered.

“Yes, alright, okay,” says Crowley, voice turning muffled as he ducks down and buries his face into Aziraphale’s shoulder. “I get it.”

“And you’re welcome,” continues Aziraphale, still in that same tone of voice, and feeling quite impossibly fond, “because I really —”

“Angel,” groans Crowley. He reaches out blindly and fumbles around until he finds Aziraphale’s book, discarded on his knee, and slaps it haphazardly back into his hand.

Aziraphale pats his shoulder. “You’ll have to start getting used to it eventually, you know.”

“I am,” says Crowley honestly, not surfacing. “I want to.”

“I know,” Aziraphale replies. He does. It takes a lot longer to get used to something like this than the infinitesimally little span of time it’s been. If you weigh not even two years up against six thousand, what you get is simply a lot of time full of things that never had a chance to happen. This goes for both of them, about one thing or another, but any demonstration of affection that isn't simple physical intimacy (which he soaks up like—well—a snake in the sunlight) is proving to be something of a particular challenge to Crowley.

But that’s the beauty in immortality, Aziraphale thinks (and, of course, in successfully averting Armageddon). They have all the time in the world.

He picks his book up again, letting the small leaf slip from its pages and flutter away on the breeze. With some careful shifting around, Crowley twists himself back into one of his preferred positions to nap in (something no actual human being could comfortably maintain for more than a few minutes), winding his arms around Aziraphale’s neck. Then, with some sort of full-body wiggle, he demonstratively makes the rocking chair sway back and forth.

“Go on a bit?” he mutters. “’s nice.”

Aziraphale sniffs, pulling Crowley closer and pressing his foot to the floor, gently setting them in motion again. “Remind me again what you said about me keeping this rocking chair?”

“I’ll remind you,” says Crowley, nuzzling against Aziraphale's neck, “that I’m also well over 6000 years of age, and therefore perfectly entitled to change my mind whenever it suits me.”

Within minutes, he's asleep again. Rocking leisurely back and forth, Aziraphale gives one of the clouds in the sky an unobstrusive little nudge to the left when it starts inching in front of the sun, strokes Crowley's back, and goes on reading.