After thousands of years of maintaining control and listening to the nagging in the back of his head telling him to stop staring and thinking about the Adversary so much, it took this exact circumstance for Aziraphale to fall into bed with Crowley: three killed Nazis, one bombed church, one saved bag of books, and a ridiculous amount of wine. Aziraphale had been so happy to see Crowley again and absolutely touched that he rushed into a church, of all places, to rescue him even after leaving off with a nasty argument seventy-nine years ago. Crowley cared, not just about his safety, but about the things that made him happy, as well, he realized as he clutched the handle of the bag of books. Aziraphale was a being of love, and it was impossible not to feel any for Crowley, his one true friend on earth, the serpent who dined with him and made him feel more valued than his superiors ever had. It was futile to even attempt not to love Crowley, who snarked and joked and walked like he owned every room he entered, and had his own unique tastes, and yes, got into trouble, but had just enough genuine goodness inside that he performed miracles as part of the Arrangement from time to time, and went on rescuing angels when he knew it would be a death sentence if Hell found out.
Aziraphale never stood a chance.
So, he could not be blamed when he couldn’t hold back the wave of love inside him desperate to spill over. He was an angel, for Heaven’s sake. Loving was in his genes. He was feeling so many overwhelming emotions, such as relief that they were still friends after all these years, but his main focus was the life-altering realization that he was absolutely in love with his brave, cocky, brilliant, caring Crowley—not just all-encompassing angelic love, but breathtaking, terrifying, raw human love. And that night, his Crowley had been sitting across from him in the bookshop, mesmerizing eyes exposed as he drunkenly ranted about dung beetles. He was so charming.
Aziraphale watched him with his cheek in his hand, bent elbow perched atop the arm of his chair.
Crowley blinked sluggishly. “What?”
Wine clogging his brain, Aziraphale had leaned forward and kissed him, and only felt Crowley tense for a moment before he kissed back hungrily. It was a heated, drunken, thrilling daze of hands running against chests, bare, sweaty skin rubbing, and love making Aziraphale dizzy. Not needing air, they kissed until their lips were nearly numb from it, red and swollen and wet. They were in the old bed in the flat above the bookshop, mainly kept to keep up appearances of being human, when Crowley shook and moaned Angel, don’t stop and I missed you and I’ll always be there for you in his arms. Aziraphale’s aura of love was strong enough so they both felt it, and Crowley huffed harsh breaths into the crook of his neck and clung to him as if he were a life jacket in the sea. Aziraphale felt Crowley’s loved-packed aura meld with his, and he, drunk as could be, felt tears run down his temples as he was consumed by his unending love for Crowley, too overwhelmed to do anything but let out a soft cry into his shoulder. For a being of love to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of affection he felt was no small wonder.
Although they didn’t require basic bodily functions, living in these vessels meant they were susceptible to human tendencies under the right circumstances. Worn out from the church, wine, and love-making, Aziraphale couldn’t keep his eyes open after they finished.
The mood was much different the next morning.
The pounding pain behind his eyes was agonizing, and Aziraphale immediately miracled the hangover away. What on earth? He must have been drunk, but he usually didn’t get headaches that bad. Then, with the pain gone, he noticed other physical sensations. There was weight on his right side. His eyes shot open.
Crowley’s head was on the same pillow, but ducked down a little to be turned towards the crook of Aziraphale’s neck. His face was serene, and he snored and drooled onto the pillow. His arms were wrapped around Aziraphale’s soft right bicep.
Fondness poured into Aziraphale’s heart as it sank. “Oh, no,” he whispered.
Crowley didn’t stir.
It came back to him in an instant. Some of the details were murky, but he remembered that he made love to Crowley after being rescued. He remembered the way Crowley held onto him, snake eyes opened wide as he choked out a moan and came all over Aziraphale’s stomach. Ice crystallized along his spine. What was Aziraphale thinking? They couldn’t—Heaven would be furious if they found out. This was worse than fraternizing. They would consider this a mortal sin for an angel. Crowley would certainly be murdered by Hell, there was no doubt about it. They would both be murdered without hesitation. He scanned the room anxiously, but nothing seemed out of order. Had they gotten away with it?
Aziraphale wanted to kick himself. He had been so, so careful for millennia, putting a cap on his emotions because he knew, he knew Crowley would be killed if Hell knew they even had one friendly conversation. He ruined everything because he couldn’t hide his idiotic feelings after alcohol. He was turning human, wasn’t he? What a ridiculous fool he was. What a terrible angel he had become.
Aziraphale gazed at him, sitting up slowly, extracting his arm from the loose hug, heart tearing in half when he remembered the words moaned into his ear last night. Crowley was in love with him. He let himself be vulnerable last night, and Aziraphale knew how big that was. Demons weren’t supposed to love, but Crowley did, somehow. He was sure of it, despite it being unsaid. Even now, he could feel the gentle glow of Crowley’s love in his chest. He blushed, and realized that being in love was much different than feeling a general sense of love in a given area. This was far more personal. He felt embarrassed, and the only reason why he wasn’t running away to hide was because he knew Crowley felt the same. How did humans manage without feeling auras to reassure their insecurities? Poor things. It was all out in the open now. He could never undo last night, but the ice around his spine grew sharp as he decided that there could never be a repeat. He wouldn’t put Crowley’s life in any more danger than he already had. For a moment, his imagination ran rampant and he pictured Crowley being thrown into a pool of holy water, shrieking and melting and disappearing forever.
Aziraphale’s hand flew to his mouth to hold back his gasp, his pulse hammering painfully. No. They could never do this again. The risk was too great, not to mention that he might die, too, or Fall. God had to know they did this right? Of course She did, but Aziraphale was still an angel. Was She all right with this? Closing his eyes and folding his hands into a steeple, he prayed.
Lord, I beg you not to punish Crowley for what transpired between us; he is merely in love. It is my fault, and I am sorry for my foolishness, but please do not hurt him for my actions.
He opened his eyes. He hoped She was listening. He rubbed his eyes, feeling groggy and being unaccustomed to it. They needed to talk. Crowley would understand, certainly? He was clever, and he knew how vicious Hell was better than he. Maybe he would wake up and have the same thought process Aziraphale did, and they would agree to never speak of this again and go on their merry way. His heart had sunk down so far it felt as if it were in his gut. No, not their merry way. Aziraphale had a taste of what it was like to have his beloved in his arms, and it was going to be torturous never to have this again. There was a lump in his throat. This was part of why he held everything in so long. He loved Crowley so, so much. How was he going to be happy with the knowledge he was loved in return, but had to abstain? He...he would just have to manage somehow. There was no other way. Aside from what would happen to himself, he would never forgive himself if Crowley were killed because of this. He would rather Fall.
Still, he felt wretched as he looked down at Crowley, so at peace, so trusting, looking so achingly human in this position. Aziraphale never liked sleep much; the idea of falling unconscious was strange enough, but with someone right there, who could potentially hurt you and you wouldn’t see it coming, made him paranoid. However, he did it last night, and here was Crowley, out like a light. He had once mentioned that he never trusted other demons, that it would be ridiculous for demons to go around trusting each other, but he still should have been more inclined to trust them than his hereditary enemy, and yet…
Getting lost in thought, Aziraphale curved his finger and gingerly brushed his cheek, and retracted his hand as soon as he noticed his action. His eyes anxiously searched the room again, but everything was silent and still, save for the snoring, which somehow didn’t irk Aziraphale. Perhaps he found it endearing because it was a sign of just how relaxed Crowley was, or perhaps Aziraphale was just a big old sap. Crowley would probably think it was the latter.
As if on cue, Crowley snorted and rolled onto his back, giving a small, sleepy moan that made butterflies flutter in Aziraphale’s stomach. He smacked his lips, rubbing his stubbled jaw. He opened his eyes, pupils wider than usual with sleep. He looked over at Aziraphale.
Aziraphale didn’t breathe.
A small, timid, lopsided smile appeared. “Hey, angel,” he mumbled.
Oh, Lord, he’s happy. Why must I hurt him? “Doesn’t your head hurt?”
He shut his eyes, then blinked them open. “Not anymore.” He yawned, and the smile faded. “What’s wrong?”
He grinned tightly. “Am I that obvious?”
“Kinda.” He sat up, tension pulling at his shoulders (one pale shoulder had a bite mark. Aziraphale got carried away). His loose, sleepy demeanor was growing rigid.
Aziraphale wished he wasn’t naked, and understood why being self-conscious of the body was one of God’s punishments for Adam and Eve. He pulled the duvet up a little higher. This was going to be painful.
"I'll always be there for you,” Crowley had whispered into his ear the previous night.
Aziraphale clenched the sheet in his hands, steeling himself. “Crowley,” he began carefully, “you know we can’t do this again, yes?”
Then, he saw it: a flash of devastation struck Crowley’s face, his features crumpled, yellow eyes wounded. As quickly as the expression came, it was gone, replaced by cold indifference and deep frown lines on his forehead. He shrugged one shoulder roughly. “Yeah, yeah,” he said gruffly, looking away. “Of course.” He paused. “Uh. Why, exactly?”
Aziraphale felt the shock and hurt in Crowley’s aura, and his sunken heart bled. “We’re very lucky we weren’t caught,” he said, taking great effort to keep his voice steady. “Hell will most assuredly destroy you if they found out. I don’t know what Heaven would do for sure, but it would most likely be the same punishment.”
Crowley was looking down at the bed, jaw clenched. “Ah. Right.”
Aziraphale hated this. “Listen.” He pressed his lips together. “This has nothing to do with how I feel about you—”
“Don’t,” Crowley cut him off sharply, eyes squeezed shut. “Don’t say anything more.”
“Why not?” he asked. He needed to be clear that this wasn’t about them, but Heaven and Hell.
Crowley turned his face, eyes open and piercing. “I get it, okay? Don’t need to dwell on it. Heaven and Hell would make us disappear. Poof, we’d go extinct if they saw us now. Got it.” He snapped his fingers and was fully dressed, sunglasses included.
Aziraphale felt even more uncomfortable now, so he dressed with a miracle, too. “Well, yes. It’s too dangerous.”
Eyes hidden, his face was impassive. “Yeah.” He got out of bed, stretching in a way that seemed too forced to be casual. “You’re right. We’ll just. This didn’t happen. Fine.” He shrugged both shoulders, stuffing his hands into his pockets. “Cool.”
Aziraphale wanted to say so much. It’s not fine. I love you. This is an act; I feel how much you’re hurting. I’m sorry. This is killing me. He never felt so much anguish clawing at his soul before. Was this God’s punishment for going astray? “I apologize for my weakness,” he said, getting out of bed, smoothing out his vest. “I shouldn’t have, last night. I was the one who made the first move.”
Crowley shook his head. “Don’t apologize. I did it back.”
Aziraphale shoved the memory of Crowley’s face in the throes of passion away. “Um. Yes. Well. It was a mistake.”
Crowley’s posture was stiff as a rod. “A mistake,” he repeated woodenly. “Uh huh. Yeah. Won’t happen again. Humans fuck when drunk all the time. No big deal.”
Aziraphale winced at the harsh, dismissive language. He couldn’t tell if the hurt he felt was from his own aura or Crowley’s. He selfishly hoped it was the latter, because what if Crowley wasn’t actually as upset as he was? What if he was humiliating himself right now?
There was a little sniff, almost inaudible, and a forced smirk that resembled a grimace appeared. “Not my first one night stand.”
Last night may have proven that Aziraphale could be gullible, but he was immediately skeptical of that claim. He let it slide, though, because neither was prepared to discuss the implications of the truth. “Thank you for discarding the Nazis last night,” he said lamely.
Crowley nodded. “They were bastards. It was my pleasure. I’ll be off, then. Got things to do.”
With a snap of his fingers, Crowley was gone.
Aziraphale felt empty, alone in the room without Crowley’s aura. He gazed down at the bed. Just a few hours ago, he lay on that very mattress and let himself be kissed and caressed. He miracled a set of new bed sheets. He didn’t have intentions to sleep anytime soon, but he couldn’t bear his bed smelling of Crowley. He sighed deeply, allowing himself to feel the ache of loss in his chest. After a couple minutes, he went downstairs to the bookshop, intent on blocking out last night with a few good books. It was all he could do. This was for the best and the only way they would survive. It was only one night out of nearly 6,000 years. His love would never disappear, but he would move on.
Time and distance helped, at least at first. It was easier to ignore his feelings and try to forget Crowley when they were apart. When Aziraphale saw in again, Crowley acted as if that night never happened. In fact, if Aziraphale didn’t have a razor-sharp memory, he would have wondered if he imagined it. It was still unpleasant to turn Crowley’s offer down for a ride, however, but he couldn’t possibly accept. Seeing Crowley again rejuvenated all of those dangerous emotions inside him, and Aziraphale found himself staring at Crowley’s new hairstyle with too much interest. He needed to get away from him.
“Shall I drop you off anywhere?”
“No, thank you,” he smiled tightly. Even with the sunglasses, Crowley couldn’t hide his displeasure. “Oh, don’t look so disappointed,” he tried to say lightly, but knew both of their minds were in 1941. “Perhaps one day, we could, I don’t know.” Kiss again. Embrace again. Make love again. “Go for a picnic. Dine at the Ritz.”
Crowley stared at him. “Is that all?” he asked in a quiet, timid voice.
Aziraphale looked straight ahead at the people crossing the street. “It’s all we can do.” Don’t take this further. Don’t speak of that night. Please.
The silence was heavy.
Crowley broke it. “Even so, I’ll give you a lift. Anywhere you want to go.”
Aziraphale turned to him, his throat tight. “I can’t.”
He hoped his eyes weren’t actually as moist as they felt. “You know why.”
Now as Brother Francis and Nanny Ashtoreth, time with Crowley was wonderful and terrible. Aziraphale always felt freer to be himself with him around, even with the ridiculous disguise, but it was obviously a reminder of those few hours when they were one. They had seen the most intimate parts of each other, body and soul, and had to pretend. Their unspoken night was so terribly loud. It constantly hung over their heads. Aziraphale hated that he always felt Crowley’s love. It would have wrecked him, but if Crowley had stopped loving him, then at least he could only be concerned with his own hurt feelings. But no, it was always there, a little warm nudge at his soul whenever he was the focus of Crowley’s attention.
They never shared more than a handshake after 1941, until Aziraphale called Crowley nice. In an instant, he was shoved against a wall, their noses almost touching, Crowley’s breath hot on his skin.
“I’m never nice,” he growled viciously. “‘Nice’ is a four letter-word. I will not have you stand here and insult me.”
Blinking once, Aziraphale said, “It wasn’t meant to be an insult.”
Crowley pressed him harder into the wall, the black lenses of his sunglasses reflecting Aziraphale’s unimpressed expression. “You know who I am, you know what I am. I can’t be nice. Shut it or I’ll—“
“You’ll what?” Aziraphale challenged, keeping calm. “You would never hurt me.” This was the closest Crowley ever got to making him feel physical discomfort in their entire relationship.
Crowley scowled. “Try me.”
Aziraphale rolled his eyes, not in the mood for the tough guy act. “All right, then.” He reached up and bopped Crowley on the tip of his nose with his finger.
Crowley’s eyes were hidden, but his confusion was apparent. He let go of him, taking a couple steps back. “...What was the point of that?”
Aziraphale straightened his bow tie smugly. “Any other demon would have ripped off my finger. The thought wouldn’t even occur to you.”
Crowley stared at him. “That’s—you’re so stupid. That doesn’t prove—“
“Excuse me, gents,” the former nun walked up to them, and the conversation was over.
The oncoming apocalypse put them both on edge. Aziraphale’s faith in Heaven was wavering, which shook him to his very core, and there was Crowley, who contradicted everything Heaven believed in—there was Crowley, his ultimate deviation from Heaven. Despite Aziraphale’s feelings, he took out his anxiety and mounting doubt on him. He couldn’t listen to talk of them going off together, not when the world was ending, not when they were on opposite sides, not when Heaven wasn’t listening, not when he knew what would happen if they went alone together.
“We’re not friends! We are an angel and a demon. We have nothing in common. I don’t even like you!” Aziraphale lied through his teeth, feeling like pins and needles were stabbing his stomach.
“You dooo!” Crowley retorted immediately, and of course, he was right. “What’s going on here?” he put his hands on his hips, irritated, yes, but confused. “Why are you freaking out?”
“I’m not freaking out!” he denied too loudly. “Nothing’s going on beyond what I told you. And even if I did know where the anti-Christ is I wouldn’t tell you because we’re on opposite sides!”
“We’re on our side,” Crowley insisted through a hiss.
Panic rising, he blurted out, “There is no ‘our side’, Crowley! Not anymore. It’s over.” His heartbeat was loud in his ears.
Crowley’s lips parted, his eyebrows raised over his sunglasses. He swallowed, and then got angry. “You liar,” he walked towards him.
Aziraphale stood his ground, chin lifted, prepared for anything.
Crowley stood in front of him, breathing hard, pointing a finger at his chest. “Don’t act like we were never friends. You know damn well that’s not true. I know you love me,” Crowley accused, voice shaking.
Except that. He wasn’t prepared for that. Even during that blissful night, they hadn’t spoken those words. The proof was there in their souls, but saying it out loud was so exposing.
Aziraphale stammered. “I-I ,” he choked out, astounded. No, they couldn’t talk about this. Someone might be listening. He wanted to run. “I never said that,” he forced his tongue to form the words.
Crowley’s eyebrows furrowed, face falling. His chest moved up and down in a shuddering sigh. “I remember every second of that night,” he said quietly. “Why are you doing this?”
Aziraphale put his hand over his chest, holding back a groan. The love and pain in Crowley’s aura was making him lose focus. They hadn’t spoken about that night in eighty years, and it was awful. A part of him hoped Crowley had moved on, but he hadn’t, and Lord, neither did Aziraphale. “You know we can’t do this,” he spoke faintly.
“The end is coming,” Crowley said with a hint of desperation, getting in his personal space. “We can go off where they’ll never find us.”
Aziraphale didn’t breathe. “Stop tempting me.”
His frown deepened. “I’m not trying to manipulate you. It’s just—we can do it.” His voice was barely above a whisper, the anger draining out of him. “They won’t care about us if they have their war. We can…” He was close enough so that his eyes could be seen behind the lenses. They were pleading. “I don’t want the world to end with all these humans, but if it does, it won’t be so bad if we’re together.”
Aziraphale gathered all of his strength. “No,” he said, and held back a shudder at how Crowley deflated. “I will not risk our destruction, especially not when the earth needs us. This is about the end of the world, not you and me. I’m not having this conversation.”
Crowley was still for a few long seconds, staring at him from behind those dark lenses. Then, the anger returned, and it radiated from him with disappointment. “Fine then.” He walked away. “Have a nice Doomsday,” he spat over his shoulder.
Aziraphale didn’t leave the bandstand for several minutes because he wasn’t certain his legs would carry him. He got the creeping feeling that he just made a gigantic mess of things. It hurt tremendously, but he didn’t have time to deal with this.
It was dreadful when Crowley, despite it all, drove up in his car to run away to Alpha Centauri. Aziraphale had to turn him away again. He had to. He was put on earth to protect humans 6,000 years ago, and he wasn’t going to give up now.
Aziraphale backed up into the wall, smiling anxiously. "I haven't been consorting," he told the angels, fear making the hair on the back of his neck stand up. This was his worst nightmare. They knew. He was going to be killed. They would probably tell Hell and Crowley would die, too. He tried so hard to avoid this outcome.
"Our files say otherwise," Michael said with an icy grin. "We have photographic evidence."
He paled. "O-o-f what, exactly?"
"You and that demon spending time together in public," she replied.
Despite the situation, he felt relief. So they didn't know about the rest?
"What must you two get up to in private?" Uriel asked with a glare.
Never mind. The terror was back. "Private?" he gave a small, hysterical laugh. "I-I never spent time in p-private with that demon!"
"Don't think your boyfriend in the dark glasses will get you special treatment in Hell," she taunted. "He's in trouble, too."
Oh, Lord, please no.
He was winded and shocked after being punched in the gut, but more than anything, he prayed for Crowley's safety.
Aziraphale could have fainted from relief when he appeared to Crowley at the table. He was still alive. He urgently needed to tell Crowley who and where Adam was, but nearly flickered out of existence when the following happened.
“Did you go to Alpha Centauri?”
Crowley looked worse for wear. There were deep frown lines pulling his lips into a pout, he was clearly drunk, and the lighting made his glassy eyes visible. “Ah, uh, changed my mind,” he fidgeted in his seat. “Stuff happened.” He was incredibly distressed. “I lost my soulmate,” his voice cracked badly.
Aziraphale was too shocked to be afraid someone was listening. “W-what? What do you mean?”
He put his cheek in his hand, somehow growing sadder. “I’m really sorry, but your shop burned down,” he broke the news gently.
Aziraphale only sat there. “...All of it?”
He was thankful he couldn’t cry without a body. All those beautiful books…
“I thought you’d been in there,” Crowley said, looking down at the table. “Thought it was hellfire. That they found out. And I lost you.” He shrunk in on himself. “Thought it was my fault, with what I said earlier. That I mentioned. Us. Thought someone heard.”
Aziraphale’s metaphorical heart broke. First the books, and now here was his caring demon, on the verge of tears because he thought Aziraphale had been murdered. His poor, poor dear. “I’m still here,” he said softly. “I’m okay. Just discorporated, and it wasn’t even from the fire.” His mind was stuck on being called Crowley’s soulmate. It was one word, and yet it captured what they were so perfectly. And Crowley said he didn’t like poetry!
Crowley looked up, eyes shining behind the glasses. “You’re not hurt?”
“No.” He had the urge to embrace him, but it was impossible in this form, and they didn’t have time. “Crowley, we’ll talk about this later, I promise, but I worked out the anti-Christ business, okay?”
Pulling himself together, he nodded. “What do I need to do?”
As Satan rose from the depths of Hell, Aziraphale and Crowley shared a look and ran to each other, hands reaching out, grabbing and clasping and shaking. If they were going to die, they were going to do it with the last touch they felt being each other’s skin. Aziraphale’s frightened eyes met the sunglasses, and Crowley squeezed his hand tightly.
Right after they averted the apocalypse, their attention turned to their imminent murder attempts.
“They’re going to kill us,” Crowley said under his breath on the bus. “We need to be ready. It’d be shit if we died now, after all this.”
“Indeed,” Aziraphale agreed grimly.
So they spent the rest of the night figuring out what to do, and even though he was in Crowley’s flat for the first time, his mind was anywhere but the bedroom. He put them through so much just so they could survive, and he was absolutely not going to compromise that now.
When the thought struck him, he felt giddy. “I’ve got it! I need to be you!”
Crowley cocked his head to the side. “Huh?”
“That’s the prophecy! We need to wear each other’s faces. Hell will use holy water on you, but it’ll really be me, and Heaven will use hellfire on me, but it will really be you.”
Crowley smirked. “You clever bastard.”
It worked like a charm.
Now, there were no more distractions. They were saved, at least for the time being, and Aziraphale had a feeling that meant a few centuries. Heaven and Hell would need time to get over the embarrassment of being disobeyed by a child, failing to start the war, and failing to kill their respective traitors, and then more time to regroup and strategize. Even after they inevitably came back, they believed he and Crowley were indestructible. They wouldn’t be hunted down for being together. They were free.
Aziraphale wanted to run into Crowley’s arms, but was afraid. So much had happened. He said such shameful, mean-spirited things. He denied his love. That was uncalled for. While sitting at the dinner table, Crowley smiled softly and clinked his glass against his. The gentle wave of love was back to nudge at Aziraphale’s soul, and he could have cried right at the Ritz. He was still loved, even after that disastrous argument under the bandstand. He knew that, considering how Crowley acted when he was discorporated, but it was still beyond touching to know. He wanted to talk about it, but didn’t know if the mood was right. Perhaps he should wait until tomorrow. They just swapped back bodies, and maybe needed a relaxing dinner before anything serious after the crazy past few days they had. He was tired, for once. He never really felt tired before, not counting blacking out after wine and sex, but he never saved the world and swapped bodies before, either.
He was yawning as Crowley, reunited with his dear Bentley, drove him back to the bookshop.
“Tired?” he asked in surprise.
“I believe so,” Aziraphale said through his yawn. “Oh, excuse me.”
The corner of Crowley’s mouth turned up in a grin. “You helped save the world. You deserve a nap.”
“I don’t like sleeping,” he protested. “It’s a waste of time. You don’t even know when you’ll awaken”
“It happens eventually.”
“Yes, but I find it disconcerting. My body will perk up sooner or later. I never had to go to bed before.”
“Stop fussing and go get some shut eye,” Crowley chided.
Aziraphale wanted to say he wasn’t a child, but yawned again. He looked out the window. It was night now, and the streetlights blurred as the car ripped through the streets. For once, he didn’t feel like he was going to have a heart attack at Crowley’s disregard for the speed limit. His eyes fluttered open when the car came to a halt and he sat up, feeling flustered, his cheek cold from being pressed against the window.
Crowley was watching him, smirking. “Sure you don’t need a nap, angel?” His words were meant to be mocking. They were fond.
Aziraphale glared, half for show, and half out of embarrassment. “Yes. Goodnight.” He opened the car door. “And thank you,” he said.
“Don’t thank me for anything ever again or I’ll run you over,” Crowley said.
“Of course, dear,” Aziraphale mumbled, the term of endearment going unnoticed by him, but causing a sharp intake of breath to come from the driver’s seat. Aziraphale was too tired to register any of it, and stumbled into his bookshop where he sat down in a chair. He intended to sit and recharge for a few moments before finding something to read. Instead, his head tipped back on the chair and he succumbed to his second night of sleep ever in a ridiculously short amount of time.
He was already sleeping too deeply to notice the slow, padding footsteps across the floorboards, or the feeling of a blanket he kept folded over another chair being carefully draped and tucked over him, or the annoyed yet affectionate mutter of, “Of course you sleep like an angel, too.”
Aziraphale was disoriented when he woke up, and then remembered the chaos of events that happened since Tadfield. He looked around his shop with a smile. It was all still here. He was still here. They really did it.
“Crowley,” he whispered to the air. The worst Heaven could do was kill him, and they believed they couldn’t. The worst God could do was make him Fall, but he hadn’t, not for the night in 1941, and not for defying the Great Plan. He seemed to remain in Her good graces. Literally. What else could be done to him? What else was he waiting for? Crowley was free from the threat of death, too. He couldn’t be in any danger. Aziraphale went over all of this several times in his head, trying to find loopholes, to see if there was some threat he wasn’t thinking of, but he came up with nothing. After so long, it almost felt too good to be true.
But, Aziraphale had to apologize for his harsh words. He needed to keep them safe, and it paid off, but there was no reason to say those nasty things under the bandstand. That was purely his fault. No matter the outcome of the conversation, he wouldn’t be satisfied until Crowley knew how sorry he was. He would telephone Crowley and invite him over, tell him they needed to discuss something important—
As if on cue, Crowley entered the shop with a snap of his fingers, and a bouquet of flowers in his hand and a box of chocolates under his arm. He skidded to a halt when he spotted Aziraphale. “Oh. You’re awake.”
Aziraphale sat up, taking the blanket off, eyes on the flowers and sweets. “Yes, I just woke up. What’s the occasion?”
Crowley looked at the items like they popped up out of nowhere. “Oh, well. Uh. These. Yeah, look, I know you didn’t see the bookshop up in flames, but I did, and I thought I’d just.” He held up the items. “As a little ‘hooray for the books not being ash anymore’ gift.”
Aziraphale couldn’t help but smile, remembering that Crowley had given him the same gift when he opened the shop for the first time. His smile faded, though, when he thought he didn’t deserve this kindness. “Thank you,” he stood up.
“What I’d say last night?” he grumbled. “Stop thanking me for things.”
Aziraphale took the flowers and chocolates, their fingers brushing. “I appreciate it nonetheless.” He placed the flowers on a nearby table and opened the box of chocolates, popping a truffle into his mouth and closing his eyes in bliss. “Yummy.” He held out the box.
“They’re for you,” he said.
“I want to share.”
Crowley took a piece.
Aziraphale put down the box next to the flowers, anticipation and anxiety beginning to prod his brain. But Crowley’s love was there, warm and comfortable like the old blanket on the chair. At the same time, though, Aziraphale loved him deeply and still resisted him, and doubt told him Crowley could do the same. But there was no room for excuses to delay this a minute longer. If he was about to be hurt by Crowley, he deserved it, anyway.
“I dunno ‘bout you,” he said through a mouthful of chocolate, “but I’m still grasping what happened.”
“Me too,” Aziraphale said. What a whirlwind. He was so grateful that they made it out on the other side. Here they were in his shop, morning sunlight coming through the windows and shining behind Crowley, the light turning his copper hair an orange-red. He still couldn’t make heads or tails of the Ineffable Plan—who could?—but he had the feeling that they were meant to do this.
Crowley smiled a little. “What? You’re staring at me.”
“Crowley,” he said seriously. “I must speak to you about a pressing matter.”
“Oh?” he arched an eyebrow, reaching into the box for another chocolate. “What would that be? Thought we were done with pressing matters for a few centuries.”
Aziraphale folded his hands in front of his stomach. “It’s about us.”