Aziraphale had given Crowley a key to the bookshop.
The key was one you would expect to belong to a 9 year old girl to lock her secret diary where she would talk about her boy crushes and best friends. It seemed to have been painted with nail polish, resembling a cupcake on its top part. Crowley wanted to make fun of it and joke about how childish and ridiculous it was, but he had actually found it to be adorable. It was a bookshop so, sometimes, it would be naturally open. However, the angel did not like to work in sync with business hours. The demon obviously didn’t need a key, he could just miracle the lock open, but it was more symbolic than practical. It meant that he was always welcome and didn’t have to be invited, he could just show up, or maybe not even leave.
Even after being granted such permission, Crowley would call before going to Aziraphale’s bookshop, which was also the angel’s home. Some few times he would surprise him just for the fun of it, but Aziraphale never seemed shocked, like he was always expecting Crowley to visit him. Being angry at the angel’s lack of reaction, the demon decided to do something a little more unexpected: he went to his indoor-garden and picked some newly-grown pink flowers. Friends could give flowers to other friends, right? It wasn’t strange.
He recklessly drove his Bentley to the bookshop and parked right in front of it, unable to care about the convenience of other drivers and pedestrians. He walked to the door, there was a “closed” sign pinned on the back of it, he knocked four times to warn the Angel and then he got it.
It was silent, as usual. He couldn’t find Aziraphale at first, he searched for him across the bookshelves and the main commercial area, but he was nowhere to be found. Crowley moved closer to the stairs, deciding if he would go up or not, ( he had only been upstairs a couple of times, so he was still uncertain if his presence there was welcomed) but then he smelled alcohol. No, it was more like rotten gasoline. “No, no, not again, please, not again”, he thought.
“Aziraphale?” He asked, desperate to know where the angel was, at this point it came to Crowley’s mind that he could be dead. His angel, dead. His heart was pounding strongly against his chest and he had stopped breathing. He put his feet in the first step of the stairs. “Angel, where are you?”, his voice was shaky and he gripped hard on the handrail, afraid he would just faint right there.
He climbed one more step, about to just run up to see if Aziraphale was there, if he was okay. “Aziraphale?” this time he yelled very loudly, feeling his throat go dry.
“Crowley? I’m upstairs. Come here.” Crowley started breathing again. His shoulders relaxed and he got up. “He’s not gone! He is not dead, for the love of… someone, he isn’t dead!” he thought.
He climbed the stairs faster than he had ever climbed any other stairs, which wasn’t that big of a thing since he didn’t usually climb a lot of stairs. That was Heaven’s job.
He familiarized himself with the upstairs. Aziraphale didn’t have a bedroom or a bathroom for obvious reasons, it was more of a really comfortable and homey living room that one could sleep in it if it was needed, but Crowley guessed his couches were rarely used, it was all dusty and it seemed old. The smell only grew stronger, like he was entering an abandoned liquor store.
With the pink flowers were hidden behind his back, he explored the place a little more, founding this tiny room where Aziraphale was sitting. The truth is, he wasn’t just sitting and Crowley didn’t understand what was happening right away. “What the hell is that smell, Aziraphale?”
The angel was continuously touching his own hands that were laying on top of a towel, on his lap. “It’s acetone, dear.” He said, glancing at the demon who looked puzzled, having no idea of what was going on. “Nail polish remover.” He clarified.
Crowley answered “Oh.” But, what he wanted to say was “Aziraphale, you bastard, I thought you were setting the bookshop on fire again, I thought you were gone, AGAIN.”
He looked at the angel and now realized he was painting his nails with a tiny brush, than he would take the excess of with some cotton and the nail polish remover. The demon got closer and saw the color: baby blue with some little stars and sparkles on top. He had always noticed that the angel’s hands were perfectly manicured. Sometimes it would be white or beige, mostly shiny, but he hardly would see any other color. “I thought you just miracled them.”
“I like the whole process, it makes me calm and focused.” He said, finishing his pinky. “Oh, you brought flowers! Do you mind setting them in a vase filled with water, some vinegar and some sugar please? It will take a little while for my nails to dry.” He was not surprised, of course he wasn’t. Crowley snorted, disappointed at himself.
Again, Aziraphale could just miracle the flowers to last longer, but he had to be so human about everything. Crowley did what was asked of him ( it turns out the angel had a kitchen, where Crowley found the vinegar and the sugar, but didn’t seem very used ) and he placed the flowers in the angel’s office table.Their bright colors didn’t seem to fit the monochromatic environment. He found Aziraphale, who was blowing his nails and shaking his hands, and sat down next to him.
“They look good.”
“Your nails. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them blue before. It matches your eyes.”
Aziraphale smiled, proud of his work. His lips would still stay together, but they would grow wide on his soft face. “Thanks, Crowley. I can do yours if you want to.”
Crowley had done his nails many times before, specially during the 00´s. He would paint them black and even matte sometimes.The demon thought it didn’t match his aesthetic very well, so he gave up on regularly doing them, but there was an exception for special occasions. This could be a special occasion. “Do I get to pick the color?”
“Of course, dear. Come here, I’ll show you the options.” Crowley scooched closer to him, who carefully got a square plastic container from under his feet. He started opening and there were so many layers to it that the demons got a bit dizzy. You could find every nuance of the rainbow plus every unnatural color ever created. It was funny, Crowley thought, that maybe Aziraphale would paint his nails flashy neon-green when no one was looking.
“This ones have a very shiny finish.” he pointed at one of the mini-drawers. “This other ones are sparkly. This one's matte. The bottom shelf is for the nudes and black. There are also some extras that you can add like little rhinestones or a powder that will make them feel like velvet. I can make tiny drawings if you want or use stamps!” Crowley smiled at how excited Aziraphale got when talking about nail polish, it was adorable.
“How about…” Crowley ran his fingers through the collection of little glass bottles, indecisively. “you paint one each color. Like a rainbow.”
You could see the angel’s eyes wide and sparkling like his nails. He thought Crowley was going to choose black, or a really boring color, but he didn’t. Crowley had finally surprised him. “Of course, of course, if that’s what you want.”
“That’s what I want.”
“Great! I’ll just get some warm water because this one is already cold…” He was interrupted by Crowley snapping his fingers and the water stopped being cold.
“oh, that’s definitely easier.” The angel said, grabbing a red, an orange, a yellow, a green, a blue and a purple nail polish, putting them all on his own lap. Crowley pushed the chair he was sitting on to be face-to-face to the angel, making the whole nail-painting process more practical. “Go on, you can put the tips of your fingers in the water.” He did, feeling the war liquid travel through his hands. After a few minutes, when Aziraphale got all the equipment he needed, he was told to take them off. “You can put your hands in my lap, I’ll dry them for you.”
Crowley froze. It took him a while to mentally process that he had to rest his hands on the angel’s tights. “Crowley?” Aziraphale asked, confused about Crowley’s reaction.
“Yeah.” He answered, putting his wet hands of top of the towel that was sitting on Aziraphale’s lap. On his lap. On his thighs. Crowley was indirectly touching Aziraphale’s thighs. He could feel his soft legs through the fabrics under his hands, he was certain he could. Crowley stopped breathing when Aziraphale grabbed another towel and started brushing his hands, drying them off. He would hold one of Crowley’s hands with both of his, squeeze them until they were completely dry.
Crowley looked at Aziraphale and noticed how focused he was, looking only to the nails and nothing more. “I’m going to put some lotion on your hands, is that okay? It will help with the cuticles.”
“Sure.” He stopped being so sure when Aziraphale warmed some of the lotion on his own palms and proceeded to gently rub it on Crowley’s hand. The angel was massaging all the moisturizer deep on the demon’s skin.
“Your hands are so cold.” He noticed. Crowley could only keep thinking about how Aziraphale’s fingers felt when brushing his skin, how soft and warm he was.
“I know I.. You know. Haha… Sssnake problem.” The angel’s digits were rubbing the center of Crowley’s palm. He felt it burn. “I accidentally invented Reynaud’s disease. One of my biggest accomplishments on torturing human without actually bringing any risk to their lives.”
“Sssssnake.” Aziraphale said and Crowley didn’t understand why. Maybe he was drunk, maybe he was mocking Crowley.
“Why did you say that?” Aziraphale sanded his nails and then started doing something that Crowley couldn’t understand what it was.
“You talk like that sometimes. You hiss or just make really long S noises.”
“Oh, I didn’t notice.”
“Ouch!” Crowley protested before he could freak out over what Aziraphale had said. The angel did something to his nails that made his skin hurt.
“Quit being so dramatic. It’s dead skin, it’s not sensible. And, you’re a demon after all.”
“Ugh.” Crowley bit his lip, pretending to be very mad. “You don’t understand my pain. You’re so annoying.”
“Then why are you still here?” That silenced Crowley and made Aziraphale curl his lips into a smile.
The angel grabbed the first nail polish and stabilized it between his legs. He carefully held the demon’s left hand and started applying the paint to his pinky, he would do so by gripping each finger with two of his, and would let the rest of Crowley’s hand rest on his. Crowley was still paying attention to his other hand, the one that was resting on Aziraphale’s thigh. He decided he wanted to squeeze them. His fingers were almost curling into the other’s skin, he was so close to doing it. He wanted to, but he knew he couldn’t. He started thinking “Aziraphale wouldn’t mind, right? Yes he would. But it would be just a gentle squeeze, he wouldn’t even feel it. Yes, he would. What about asking for permission? What do you expect him to say, Crowley? Yes, you can squeeze my thighs as much as you want? Stupid.”
“Dear, why are you tensing up? Relax your hands, it’s hard to not make a mess when they are this stiff.” The smell of alcohol, or better, acetone, was getting stronger again after the angel opened the cap of the little pink and white plastic bottle.
“I… I was just thinking.” He took a deep breath and let his muscles become less rigid, hoping it would help Aziraphale. His other hand was still on the same place.
“What were you thinking about?”
“Nothing really important.” Aziraphale finished his left hand, resting it back to his legs. For a brief second both of Crowley’s hands were on his thighs. Now he wanted to slide them up. He didn’t, Aziraphale grabbed his right hand and started painting his nails again.
“I don’t believe that.” Aziraphale glanced at Crowley, who didn’t notice because he was too busy analysing his colorful nails.
“You understand you can tell me everything, right?”
“Yeah.” His urge got back to him. He imagined how soft it would be.
“But you’re not telling me everything.”
“It’s very stupid, you don’t want to hear.”
“Maybe I do.”
“No you don’t.”
“I’m telling you I want to hear it.”
“Okay, fine.” Crowley said, like a 7 year-old being forced to finally go to bed. Aziraphale started applying a second coat to his nails. “You know how everyone thinks you’re gay?”
“Does it bother you?”
“Why would it bother me?”
“I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.” Aziraphale’s fingers felt so warm, he wanted the angel’s hand to hold his.
“Why were you thinking about that?”
“I was thinking that because... then people assume we’re a couple.”
“And you believe I am to blame for this?”
“There’s nothing to be blamed for, angel.”
“You are the one who keeps calling me angel in public and then assume it is my fault people think we are a couple.”
“But you are an angel.”
“Yes, Crowley, but people are not aware of that, and I wish them to keep believing so.” Aziraphale gripped his hand a little tighter, but Crowley didn’t mind. “Are you saying this because you get bothered when people think we are a couple?”
“Then why are we arguing about this?”
“I can… I can stop calling you angel. If you want.”
“I’m afraid I don’t want that, Crowley. I... quite enjoy when you call me angel.” Aziraphale was looking only at the nails, trying to clean them up and avoiding looking at Crowley.
“Yes, I do.”
“Okay… Good to know.”
“We are done, I believe.” Aziraphale said, holding both of Crowley’s wrists. His nails were bright and shiny, due to still being wet, but they had been perfectly painted. The angel had a lot of practice. He put his hands back on his thigh. “They.. they look really good. Thanks.”
“You can ask me to paint them again whenever you want to.”
Crowley was avoiding to look directly at Aziraphale’s face, so he stared at the stained towel underneath his hands, still thinking that through them he could find Aziraphale’s legs. He didn’t want to let go. He couldn’t just throw this rare opportunity away, so he didn’t move his hands, they just stayed on the angel’s lap for a long time. His mind wondered a lot, so he decided to close his eyes and just feel the soft touch against his hands.
“Crowley?” He asked, the demon finally looking up to him. “What are you doing?”
He immediately removed his hands from the angel’s laps and brought them to his own. “I… I wasn’t doing anything.”
“Dear, look, I can’t read your mind. You have to tell me what you want.”
“What do you mean “what do I want””?
“You obviously want something more. I can’t tell exactly what it is, but I know you do.”
“What would I even want more?”
“Would you like a hug?”
Crowley’s hands went shut. He bit the inside of his lips and he could feel his toes curling. He wasn’t looking at Aziraphale anymore, he couldn’t, it was like his body was out of his control for good. “A what?”
“A hug, Crowley.” Aziraphale was so calm, even when saying such words. They weren’t used to touch each other, they might have held hands a couple of times, but for only a brief moment. They didn’t touch regularly, not because they didn’t want it, but because they didn’t know if the other wanted the same thing.They had never hugged. Crowley was too proud to ask for one and Aziraphale was too scared he would say no, but there they were, looking at one another as if the answer would shine through their eyes. “You know, when two people…”
“Shut up, I know what I hug is.”He stopped talking. Crowley wanted to say yes but his words were stuck on his throat, the air wouldn’t go through his vocal cords. “I… I think…” The demon’s hands started trembling as if something too extraordinary was about to happen, and maybe it was. Crowley nodded silently.
“Get up, then.” He did. Both of them standing awkwardly, not knowing what to do next. It was Crowley who quickly approached the angel and wrapped his arms around his waist. It was gentle at first, but after a couple of seconds he made the embrace tighter. Aziraphale put his hands around the demon’s neck and carefully rubbed his fingers through the naked skin of Crowley’s neck, sending shivers to the base of his spine. Crowley squeezed their bodies together. He rested his head on Aziraphale’s shoulder. The angel could feel his hot breath invading his skin, he could feel Crowley’s lips move closer.
Their bodies were getting warmer with each second, Crowley felt his chest full and , even though he couldn’t get any closer to Aziraphale’s body than this, he tried pushing them together a little tighter. “This feels good.” Crowley said out loud, maybe not even being that his intention. He tried to hide his face as best as he could.
“You like it?”
Crowley answered with a “umhum”. Aziraphale’s fingers crawled up to Crowley’s hair, gently massaging his scalp. The demon squeezed the fabric of the angel’s coat, trying to cope with all he was feeling. It was too much, too much he had never felt before. His whole body burned, his chest felt funny and he was feeling like he was about to cry and didn’t even know why.
Crowley didn’t wanted to let go, but Aziraphale separated their bodies so he could look at the demon’s face. His hands were still on his hair and now their eyes were both deep into one another. Crowley observed the clear blue as if it was the rarest diamond he had ever seen, so carefully yet so desirably. Then he looked at the angels’s lips: so soft he wanted to press them against his. He had been wanted for thousands of years, but he was always so afraid of the “what if”.
Crowley was desperately in love with Aziraphale, but he was so scared that it wasn’t mutual. They were friends, not enemies, that had been established after the no-Armageddon, but would it be crossing boundaries to call them lovers? Probably. But were this boundaries okay to be crossed?
“You want something more, don’t you?”
Crowley his his face on the angel’s neck again. He could smell his cologne, so sweet. He wanted to lick his neck. “Stop thinking about that, Crowley, just stop!” He didn’t answer Aziraphale, so the angel insisted:
“You have to tell me with you want something more. I’m not going to keep guessing.”
Crowley wanted to say, he wanted so much, but he couldn’t let those words come out of his throat, too afraid to ruin everything. He hugged Aziraphale one more time, unable to face him. He felt the angel’s hands travel through his back and his neck, all he wanted was a little bit more.
“Azi…” He couldn’t finish his name. His chest was hurting because of how hard his heart was pounding.
“What is it, my dear?” Aziraphale could feel Crowley’s body trembling against
his. He could even feel his heart. “I’ve got you. You’re safe. You can tell me everything. I’m here, okay?”And that was the problem. Aziraphale was there, holding Crowley, and Crowley was too afraid he wouldn’t be anymore as soon as he said what he wanted. “I’ll always be here.”
Crowley exhaled and the angel felt the warm air in his neck. “I… I…” He felt the angel tightening his grip, making them closer. “Iwantyoutokissme.”
“What? I’m afraid I didn’t…”
“I… I want you to kiss me.” He whispered on the angel’s ear.
Aziraphale ended the hug and Crowley’s heart started beating even faster. “He doesn’t like me.” He thought. “He hates me, he’s going to leave me. I’m so stupid, why did I even ask, I knew he could never like me, I knew it. Now he is letting me go and I’m never seeing him again because he thinks I’m insane. We are an angel and a demon, of course we can’t kiss, it’s obvious. How could I be so stupid and think he could ever like me the same way I like him? How could I ever let myself… love…him. It could never, never, never, never…”
Aziraphale kissed Crowley. He pushed him by his neck and made their lips touch. Crowley’s muscles stiffend, but soon he felt his body melt when the angel opened his mouth wider. He reciprocated the kiss and opened his mouth too. His hands went up to the angel’s hair and the angel’s hair went down to the demon’s waist, under his shirt, touching his bare skin. Crowley was so cold and Aziraphale was so warm, they evened each other out. Crowley’s grip got tighter and harder when he felt Aziraphale’s body touching his, their mouths now not only brushing, but going deep into one another. Abruptly, Aziraphale stopped and distanced himself from Crowley.
“Crowley, your nails! I don’t think they were dry, you’re going to ruin them.” Aziraphale was genuinely worried, his hands grabbing Crowley’s to check if his nails still looked good. Crowley laughed. He kissed his angel again.
Later that night, Crowley finally had the chance to squeeze Aziraphale’s thighs. They were so soft.