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Harmony Incarnate

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After they finish dinner, Aziraphale suggests they retire to the bookshop to enjoy one more bottle of wine. Crowley agrees so quickly that it's clear he's no more prepared to part than the angel is. They pay their bill and exit onto the street.

It's long since grown dark, and they walk in comfortable silence towards the bookshop. Aziraphale is thinking about their newfound freedom and, as such, doesn't notice how close Crowley is until the back of the demon's hand brushes his. He starts, glancing over at Crowley, who is somehow right at his shoulder. The usual requisite half-meter of space has been swallowed up, and Aziraphale finds that he doesn't mind in the slightest. Their hands brush together again and Aziraphale has the strangest urge to turn his and offer an open palm. It takes him a few minutes to summon the courage, but the instant he does, he feels Crowley's cool palm pressed to his, twining their fingers together. From the corner of his eye, Aziraphale sees Crowley's eyebrow tick up just a millimeter, a micro-gesture of pleased surprise, and the angel beams to himself. Holding hands, he decides, is a very nice activity indeed.

They don't let go until they reach the bookshop and Aziraphale has to fish out his keys. He swings open the door and gestures Crowley inside. At first, Crowley doesn't move, eyes flickering behind his dark glasses, forehead creased. Then he saunters across the threshold, as untroubled as ever.

It is, Aziraphale realizes, only the second time Crowley has stepped foot in the shop since Adam restored it. And before that…

Aziraphale studies his friend. Crowley had told him the bookshop had burned to the ground--and that he thought the angel was gone. Not just discorporated, but erased from existence. The story had been oddly truncated and it was clear Crowley didn't want to dwell on it. At the time, Aziraphale had thought it best not to make him discuss it. Looking at him now, the tense line of his narrow shoulders, he reassesses that notion.

But tonight is not the time.

Aziraphale reaches out and touches Crowley's elbow, feather-light. The demon flinches, but doesn't pull away, so Aziraphale guides him to the back room and pushes him gently towards the worn sofa. Crowley collapses onto the cushions like a puppet whose strings have been cut. Aziraphale sets about summoning glasses and pouring the wine.

After he goes to hand a glass to Crowley, he intends to sit down, as usual, in his armchair across from him. But that strange, nameless urge comes over him again, and he finds himself sinking down onto the sofa next to Crowley. The demon gives a startled double-take, but doesn't say anything. He leans ever-so-slightly against Aziraphale's shoulder, almost as if he's testing him. Aziraphale nudges him right back, struggling to contain a smile.

They drink in silence. Gradually, Crowley uncoils from the tense position he's holding himself in, leaning more solidly against his friend. They finish the bottle and Aziraphale, loathe to move, miracles another into his hands. He refills Crowley's glass, then his own, they clink a toast and continue drinking.

By the time they're coming to the end of the third bottle, Crowley has relaxed almost completely. He's leaning fully against the angel now, head drooping towards Aziraphale's shoulder as he starts to drowse.

Aziraphale can feel warm, superfluous breath against his neck, starting to slow and even out. He knows Crowley is in the habit of sleeping and, frankly, after the day they've had, it makes sense that he should want to. Carefully, so as not to disturb him, Aziraphale prises the precariously tilting wine glass out of Crowley's hand and sets it on the side table. The demon makes a noise of protest and snuggles closer to Aziraphale.

Without thinking too much about what he's doing, the angel cups his hand around the back of Crowley's head and gently guides him down to his own thigh. Crowley comes awake with an alarmed hiss, but when he tries to sit up, Aziraphale threads his fingers through his hair and keeps him there. He makes a soft shushing sound and starts to run his fingers through Crowley's hair.

Inch by inch, the demon starts to relax again, letting his head rest lightly against Aziraphale's knee, but he doesn't fall back asleep. Even though he's still wearing those blasted sunglasses, even though his face is turned out towards the room, Aziraphale can tell he's frowning. He feels a dull ache somewhere behind his breastbone. But he keeps running his fingers through the demon's hair, scratching lightly at his scalp.

Either Crowley is too tired to fight it, or he's realized that Aziraphale isn't going to suddenly withdraw his affection, because after a few more minutes, he stretches his legs, propping them up on the arm of the couch, and settles more definitively into Aziraphale's lap.

Aziraphale continues playing with his hair and Crowley hums, pleased. He's rather more like a cat than a snake, what with how he's practically purring. The ache in Aziraphale's chest grows. Some undefinable sensation is filling him up like a balloon, and if he doesn't do something soon, he's going to burst.

"Crowley," he murmurs after another few minutes of quiet agony.

Immediately, the demon turns his head, looking up at Aziraphale from his lap. The angel can see his own, slightly flustered reflection in Crowley's dark glasses. "Angel?"

Slowly, Aziraphale reaches down and removes the sunglasses. Crowley doesn't stop him, but his eyes, when the angel can see them, are wary. They flicker, stunning and golden in the dim light. Aziraphale knows Crowley is self-conscious of his eyes; the constant reminder of his Fall, the way they won't let him hide what he's feeling. Right now, his pupils are wide with uncertainty as he waits to see what Aziraphale will do next.

He isn't going to let Crowley down this time. Before his fear can get the better of him, Aziraphale puts a gentle hand on the side of his demon's face, leans down, and kisses him.

Crowley makes a noise like he's in pain and Aziraphale almost pulls away. But then Crowley's arms fly up and wrap around his neck to keep him there, and Crowley is kissing him back, making these tiny incredulous sounds like he can't believe his luck. They kiss without coming up for air for what feels like centuries, but maybe it's only minutes. When they finally break apart, Crowley is looking at him with such adoration that it feels Divine.

"I'm sorry I made you wait so long, my dear," he whispers, stroking Crowley's cheek. "I do hope you can forgive me?"

Crowley cracks a grin, pulling him down for another kiss, and it's all the absolution Aziraphale needs.