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That Truth

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Crowley’s apartment was dark when Aziraphale and he finally arrived there, tired and spent. As it turns out, the almost end of the world is really quite exhausting and riding all the way back to Oxford, stiff and uncomfortable on a bus did nothing for the angel’s weary state. Although Crowley had seated himself beside Aziraphale instead of behind him as he usually did and as the bus traveled along, the demon’s body had slid and jostled against him periodically and Aziraphale imagined he could still feel the warmth of him along his side as he watched Crowley pad softly through the apartment turning on lights.

“Something to drink, Angel?” Crowley’s sibilant voice drifted back through the rooms, startling Aziraphale out of his reverie. He toed his shoes off and gently placed them next to the door. They were Italian leather after all. No sense in scuffing them all up being careless.

“Certainly,” he answered. Crowley poked his head back into the hallway.

“What would you like? I have... oh pretty much everything. What do you want, Aziraphale? Tea? Alcohol? I’m having alcohol. I can recommend it.” Crowley shot a sly grin toward him. Aziraphale couldn’t help smiling back.

“Wine?” he replied, venturing further into Crowley’s stylishly minimalist apartment.

“Red or White? Oh for Her sake, will you get in here out of the hallway, Angel?” Aziraphale hustled himself along, joining Crowley in the kitchen.

“Red. The almost end of the world feels like a red wine type of affair.” Crowley snorted and Aziraphale felt the little wisp of pride he felt anytime he was able to make Crowley laugh.

“If you say so. It feels like a single malt scotch type of affair to me.” Moving sinuously around the kitchen, Crowley fixed their drinks. He handed the glass of red wine to Aziraphale before taking a long sip of the amber liquid in his own glass. Aziraphale watched him close his eyes and swallow, leaning back against the countertop. For a minute they stood there, no more than an arm’s length apart, regarding each other.

“Take off your coat,” Crowley said. Aziraphale blinked at him, a bit startled by the sudden demand.

“Alright,” he replied, shrugging the coat off his shoulders and folding it primly. Crowley held out his hand for the garment, long white fingers waving expectantly. Aziraphale handed it over. His eyes widened as he watched Crowley brush those fingers over the material almost... lovingly. He took another sip of wine.

Crowley smoothed his hand over Aziraphale’s coat for a second time and opened his mouth as if to say something, closing it quickly and shaking his head as he walked out of the room, coat still clutched against him. For a moment Aziraphale stood alone in the sleek, elegant kitchen wondering if he should follow the demon or not. He couldn’t just stand here in the kitchen all night, he reasoned finally. His sock covered feet slid a bit on the polished floors as he made his way further into the apartment in search of Crowley.

He found him on a leather sofa in what he supposed was a sitting room of sorts. Aziraphale’s coat rested on a stone table in front of him and Crowley leaned over it, bony elbows on equally bony knees. His glass dangled from his hand, empty.

“My dear,” Aziraphale began. A shudder went through Crowley’s thin body and he made a sort of gasping noise that seemed to fashion itself into a spike shoving its way directly into Aziraphale’s heart.

“You died.” Crowley’s voice was barely even a whisper. He looked up. Aziraphale could see that he’d removed his trademark glasses and his golden eyes were wet. “Your shop was on fire and you were dead.”

Aziraphale sat down on the sofa next to him, taking the empty tumbler from his hand and setting it on the stone table with a small clink. Crowley looked at him with a sort of desperation on his face that made Aziraphale want to gather him into his arms and brush his fingers through that ruby hair until it went away. He settled for taking the demon’s hand and clasping it gently.

“I’m here,” he said, peering into Crowley’s stricken face. “I’m alright. Look. I’m right here.” He gave Crowley’s hand what he thought was a reassuring squeeze. To his great surprise, the demon clutched his hand hard, grabbing his wrist with the other hand as if to convince himself that this was true. Crowley’s white face looking at him with grief and pain etched across it was more than the angel could bear, so he slid his free arm around his back and pulled Crowley closer to him. A fine tremor began to quiver along those long limbs and Crowley ducked his head. Arizaphale watched as a small dark splotch appeared on his tan trousers, followed by another, then another. Crowley was weeping silently.

“Oh,” said Arizaphale. “Oh, my dear heart. Please don’t. I’m here. I’m whole. I’m here with you.”

“YOU DIED!” Crowley’s howl echoed through the stylishly empty rooms, around the statue of two angels gripping each other either wrestling or maybe something else, through the frightened plant leaves, past the doorway where Ligur’s empty clothes still lay and back into the room where it wrapped around Arizaphale’s chest and squeezed until he thought he’d stop breathing.

“You died and all I had left of you was a book. Because you wouldn’t run away with me to Alpha Centauri. Because you’re an angel and I’m a demon and-“

“I’m sorry.” Aziraphale leaned way from Crowley in order to better see his face. “My dear, I am so very sorry.” As Crowley let out a weary sigh, Aziraphale pulled the demon close again and was surprised when he settled his head on his shoulder, forehead pressed into his neck. Reaching up slowly, the angel brushed soft fingers through bright red hair, just the way he’d imagined earlier. Crowley’s hair was silkier than he thought it would be, sliding through his fingers like scales. The more he smoothed Crowley’s hair, the more the demon seemed to melt against him. His lanky body snuggling close made Arizaphale instinctively curl around him. They stayed like that on the sofa for a while, the angel holding the demon close, for comfort of course, but also just maybe for something else.

After several moments which seemed like entire lifetimes but also the length of a breath, Crowley broke the silence.

“I should get you some more wine,” he said, pulling himself away from Aziraphale and reaching blindly for the mostly full wine glass. He wiped at his face, shame beginning to show through the bluster.

“I would’ve been the same,” Aziraphale said. He reached out a hand and grasped Crowley’s wrist, stilling his fumbling. “Had it been you. Who had died. I would’ve been... inconsolable.” Crowley looked at him something like wonder creeping across his features pushing the shame aside.

“Yes?” He looked hard at Aziraphale, serpentine eyes narrowing. Aziraphale looked back at him, a smile slowly unfolding.

“Oh my dear, yes,” he breathed. “It’s absolutely against everything I’m meant to stand for, but it turns out I can’t do without you, Crowley.” It was true and even though it felt like he’d just realized it this very second, if he was being honest, it was a truth that had been there all along. A truth that had been there as they took Adam’s hands to stand beside him. A truth that had floated in the air between them as they shouted at each other in the bandstand. A truth that wrapped itself around a tartan thermos handed over in an old but excellently maintained car. A truth that had survived a bombs blast in a suitcase along with some old books. A truth that had made a fictional prince of Denmark the very first emo idol. A truth that had woven its way through countless dinners and conversations over 6000 years. A truth that had raised a snow white wing over a crimson head on a wall all the way back in the beginning of everything.

It was almost as if he were watching himself, Aziraphale thought as he reached out to Crowley and pulled his sharp, angular body against his his own softer one. Crowley tilted his face up slowly, like a dream and Aziraphale leaned forward until their lips brushed together lightly. All at once the dreamlike feeling was gone, replaced by something that felt like electricity racing through him. Aziraphale gasped against Crowley’s mouth as the demon pressed forward, lips meeting his again, harder this time, temerity forgotten. They kissed each other with with purpose, trying to express millennia of belated “I love you’s.” They kissed each other until their mouths felt bruised and swollen, gripping each other so tightly that if they’d been mortals they’d have surely left finger marks.

When they finally broke apart, lips spit wet and shiny, they found themselves smiling into each other’s faces joy reflecting back and forth like mirrors. Crowley chuckled softly under his breath and reached out a finger, tracing it across Aziraphale’s bottom lip.

“You’re awfully good at that, Angel,” he smirked. “One would think you’ve had a bit of practice.” Arizaphale raised an eyebrow.

“Well I am a being of love,” he replied archly. Crowley barked a laugh and leaned forward his head rested against the angel’s.

“They’ll be coming for us, you know, Angel,” he said, forehead still touching Aziraphale’s. “We’ll have to think of a plan. Alpha Centauri is still on the table, of course.” Aziraphale reached into his pocket and drew out a small scrap of slightly singed paper.

“About that,” he said with a grin, “I have an idea.”