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Quiet Reflection

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The scent of evil wafts through the air as they exit the theatre.

‘Demons!’ hisses Crowley, his heart lurching to his throat as a cold, white panic rises. He’s gripping Aziraphale’s upper sleeve without even realising what he’s doing, holding the Angel in place as he searches the air, but-

But he can’t trace them.

They could be anywhere. The stink surrounds him, cloying in his nostrils.

They’ve come.

It’s been four weeks since the Apocalypse failed to happen. He’d hoped they’ve have longer. He’d wanted-

But the air is burning with sulphur.

‘Crowley, I can’t-’

‘Shh!’ he hisses. He clamps one hand over Aziraphale’s mouth and shoves him bodily into an alleyway.

Aziraphale stumbles and in doing so, Crowley loses his grip on his mouth. ‘I really must-’

‘Aziraphale!’ he manages. His voice is desperate, wild. He hadn’t meant for that. He’d meant to be calm, reassuring, prepared.

But he is prepared, isn’t he? He’s been preparing for a long time. Everywhere the Angel has settled over the years, he’s followed, and with him followed the knowledge that they would one day be found. His insurance, all used up, was only part of his plan. He’s memorised every street in London, and he drags Aziraphale after him, not listening to spluttered protests.

He’s also memorised every church in London.

There’s two churches nearby, one Catholic and one Church of England. They’re only half a street from each other, and much closer than the bookshop. He plumps for the Church of England one. It’s ever so slightly closer, and if Aziraphale sees too many golden candlesticks he’ll start ranting about eyes of needles and camels.

Aziraphale has allowed himself to be pulled and hurried by Crowley, and his face has paled as they rush. Perhaps he too has smelled the stench of Demons chasing them. He even allows himself to be bundled into a church and doesn’t make a sound except for a few ragged gasps of breath as Crowley locks the door.

It’s only once Aziraphale turns around, he seems to realise where they are.

‘Absolutely not!’ he says, whirling back to Crowley, stepping forward as if to make for the door.

Crowley does his best to barricade it, stretching his arms behind him, not quite touching the door because he doesn’t dare. ‘They can’t find us here,’ he says. ‘They can’t even sense us. Safe as houses. We’ll just wait it out and- fuck.’ He’s been standing still too long, and the prickling on his feet that morphed into burning morphs again, this time into a white-hot lance up through his leg, like his bones are boiling up inside of him. He hops, bouncing from foot to foot, blinking furiously. He’d been trying not to. He’d been trying to look as though it was all fine, so Aziraphale had nothing to object to, but now the best he can do is reassure.

‘Crowley, we are not waiting in here while you are like this!’ snaps Aziraphale. He reaches behind Crowley to push open the door and Crowley swats him away desperately, still maintaining his absurd dance.

‘I’ll kick you in the shins if you get any closer!’ he says. It’s less a threat and more a promise, since he’s still playing hot potato with the floor.

‘Well really,’ says Aziraphale, he folds his arms. ‘You’re being-’

‘Aziraphale, please, they are coming and they will have hellfire.’

‘Oh, honestly,’ says Aziraphale, but there’s capitulation in his voice.

Crowley sags, and is rewarded for his momentary relaxation by another stab to the soles of his feet. He can’t quite hide it from Aziraphale, whose eyes narrow.

‘I’m fine,’ says Crowley. He thinks he sounds reassuring. ‘Just, you know, hot sand, bare feet. I’ll be fine. I’ll get used to it.’ He bounces a couple of times and smiles. This is normal, his smile says. We should do this more often.

For a moment he thinks this is it. He’s fooled Aziraphale and now they’re staying and he’s just going to have to wish away the tiredness caused by this ridiculous dance and hope, hope, hope that there are no longer term effects, that his power doesn’t fade too quickly, that he doesn’t collapse with exhaustion before they’re safe.

And then Aziraphale moves quickly, far more quickly than Crowley had thought possible.

Crowley’s first instinct is to guard the door and stop Aziraphale from ducking under his arms, so his flailing doesn’t do anything to guard from Aziraphale’s true purpose. Although if Crowley had even been able to guess Aziraphale’s true purpose, he likely wouldn’t have been able to prevent it.

Before he quite registers what’s happening, there are hands touching him, and he’s moving up through the air and into Aziraphale’s arms. His feet no longer touching the floor, he can’t even stop himself from letting out a gasp of relief.

Then his brain catches up.

‘Put me down,’ he says.

‘Absolutely not,’ says Aziraphale, whose cheeks are dusted with pink.

‘This is- put me down,’ he demands, more forcefully this time. He attempts to roll out of Aziraphale’s arms, and the grip on him only tightens. Aziraphale is like iron, except with an extremely cuddly outer layer that smells like a sea breeze and expensive cologne. One of his arms is under Crowley’s leg and gripping his thigh. The other is around Crowley’s back, holding him close enough to- well. Close.

The phrase “bridal style” flutters through Crowley’s mind and he attempts to clamp down on it furiously. He fails. He fails so miserably that he can no longer think of anything else. He can feel is face heating up like a damned supernova and he tries to fight his way to freedom. Discorporating on the floor of a church is probably his best way out. Their multi-thousand year old orbits of each other are gently - finally - beginning to spin closer and he cannot risk that by- by making a fool of himself. By reacting.

Except what can he do but react?

Aziraphale is beautiful and precious and everything Crowley wants - everything Crowley has ever wanted. And one of his hands is on Crowley’s leg for someone’s sake. On his thigh, even. Crowley has dreamed about Aziraphale touching him in any capacity for hundreds of years now and, yes, at least a few of his fantasies have involved being hoisted up and carried somewhere. Admittedly he’s usually being carried to a bed in these fantasies, but Crowley’s rather treacherous corporation will take what it can get. Of course he’s reacting. And if Aziraphale notices, it’s all over.

The thing is, Aziraphale’s strong.

Obviously Crowley knows this, has known this forever. Principalities are built of Her love, just like the rest, but also with iron will and the strength that comes with it. The strength of a soldier. Crowley has never really felt worried about this, not since Eden at least. He had, as he’d slithered up, wondered if he was about to be one-shotted back Downstairs (or perhaps more permanently), but that hadn’t really felt like a problem at the time. He’d just done the temptation of a lifetime, after all. A discorporation would have been inconvenient, but hardly career limiting, and he’d thought the Angel looked rather pretty. (And it had turned out to be the only good decision he might ever have made, except for the whole averting-the-Apocalypse thing.) Thereafter, Aziraphale’s strength had featured more in his late-night fantasies of being thwarted, but, you know, in a sexy sort of way, than it has registered as any particular threat.

Being held is definitely being added to the spank bank.

Even if so it’s horrifically, mortifyingly embarrassing he might die. (Is it possible to die of embarrassment? He feels like he’s definitely on the verge of proving it either way.) But no matter what, the most important thing is not to frighten Aziraphale off.

‘This- how- I am a Demon.’ He’s spluttering. His face must surely be bright fucking red.

‘Nobody’s watching, dear,’ says bastard Aziraphale, fluttering his bastard eyelashes. The bastard.

‘Do you know whose house we’re in?’ demands Crowley. ‘Someone’s definitely watching!’

‘I’m afraid She’s always watching, Crowley,’ says Aziraphale. ‘And I rather think She’s seen it all - and worse - before.’ He coughs in a way that sounds a little like “horses”, which Crowley decides he’s not going to dignify with a response.

Crowley huffs. He scowls. He folds his arms and looks at Aziraphale. ‘This… this is a kidnapping,’ he says. He’s hamming it up a bit now, and Aziraphale very nearly giggles at him, he can tell. ‘Demon-napping,’ he adds. ‘If you don’t let me down, I’m going to... ‘ he pauses, like he doesn’t have a dozen different Aziraphale-only threats saved up for dragging out whenever he needs them, ‘-alphabetise your bookshop!’

Aziraphale gasps, ever theatrical. ‘You wouldn’t dare!’ he says.

‘I’m going to tempt the Head Chef at the Ritz to retire!’

‘No!’

‘And I’ll replace all your wine with the boxed stuff. Ha!’

‘Well,’ says Aziraphale with finality. ‘I suppose there’s only one thing for it.’

Crowley doesn’t actually believe he’ll be dropped - Aziraphale knows as well as he does how much this has descended into token bickering - but still he scrambles about for some sort of way of taking this back, just in case.

‘I suppose I shall have to lower my wine standards,’ says Aziraphale firmly. ‘I don’t mind taking our chances outside. Nor do I mind waiting. But I won’t have you harming yourself in the wait.’ He nods decisively. He’s looking out at the church, avoiding Crowley’s eyes, pinching his lips together in an embarrassed, obstinate way. It’s a serious reply when those are few and far between and Crowley is momentarily stumbling in his own mind. It’s all he can do not to make a deeply embarrassing - deeply honest - response of his own.

‘Your arms’ll get tired,’ he mutters at last.

‘I don’t think so,’ says Aziraphale brightening. ‘You’re not very heavy.’ And with that - with Crowley still half spluttering - he sweeps down the aisle with every indication of solemn dignity. If it weren’t for the way that when he catches Crowley’s eyes, he flutters his glance away, he would be the picture of perfect composure.

Crowley’s unimaginably glad of that little tell.

Sometimes, over the years, he’s wondered if it’s just him. If he’s the only one that’s a mess. If it’s his curse, his burden to bear; to feel like he feels, be weak the way he is weak, and for it to never be reciprocated. Learning that it wasn’t just him, that there was something there, somehow made existence so much better and so much worse, all at once. Aziraphale’s little gazes, his blushes, his flirtations… they’re enough, for now. He doesn’t quite understand it, doesn’t know why him, or how, or what exactly Aziraphale feels. But if Aziraphale wants to carry him up the aisle of a church, he can only be relieved that he’s not the only one bright red in the face because of it.

‘How long do you think we should wait it out?’ asks Aziraphale, as he skirts the holy water bowl thing with as much distance as he possibly can. Crowley appreciates that.

‘Dunno,’ admits Crowley. ‘I can’t be sure, from in here. I mean, I can sense evil, obviously. It is London, after all. But everything is a bit… like from under a blanket.’ He sees Aziraphale slow his steps, begin to turn back. ‘We can’t leave yet! They won’t have left yet!’

Aziraphale starts, and Crowley realises he’s grabbed the Angel’s lapel, knuckles white.

He releases his grip. Rudeness saves him. ‘Thought you wobbled a bit, there, angel,’ he says. ‘Don’t drop me on my arse, now.’

‘I would never!’ huffs Aziraphale.

‘Anyway. Few hours. Then I’ll stick my head out the door and have a sniff.’

Aziraphale tuts.

‘Come on, I thought your arms weren’t getting tired,’ says Crowley, grinning.

‘They’re not. It’s just- well, we were going to get dinner,’ says Aziraphale. His eyes are a little wide, as if simply by looking at Crowley like that, Crowley will conjure up a four course meal.

And Crowley would - of course he would - only there’s no point, because food manifested out of nowhere never tastes right. Not to an inveterate snob like Aziraphale, anyway. And Aziraphale knows this, and he still uses his eyes like a weapon.

‘Well, go on then,’ says Crowley. He nods towards the back of the church. ‘Is there an office or something? Let’s go pilfer from the clergy.’ Aziraphale frowns, wavering, still needing to be tempted - which probably explains the big, beseeching eyes. ‘Come on,’ says Crowley invitingly. ‘This is organised religion, after all. If nicking snacks is going to put them out of business, they can, I don’t know, sell some indulgences or something.’

‘I suppose,’ says Aziraphale virtuously, ‘we can put some money in the collection box on the way out.’

Crowley rolls his eyes expressively, although it’s so much harder to maintain his usual sense of dignity in Aziraphale’s arms.

Aziraphale finds a doorway to the priest’s office off to the side of the church. It’s locked, but that’s never been a concern of either of theirs. Inside, the air feels cool on Crowley’s forehead, making him realise just how much the inside of the church itself had prickled. The office is still too holy for any Demon attackers though: still consecrated enough, but just a little more distance from the worst of it giving some slight relief. All the same, Aziraphale deposits him not on the floor but on the large, wooden desk and Crowley elects to stay there.

To make himself comfortable, Crowley pushes piles of paper, files, a phone and various cables onto the floor and tries not to sulk. Aziraphale is no longer holding him, and that’s fine. That’s sensible. That’s probably better, in the long run, for him not saying anything he shouldn’t.

But Aziraphale was soft and warm, while also being strong in a deeply embarrassing way, and smelling like, well… smelling like Aziraphale. And Crowley’s never had anyone hold him like that. The most hands he’s ever had on him have been sticky, awful temptations, or holding him down to give him a bit of a mild stabbing, or a fleeting handshake or brushing of fingers that was always too much and not enough. He’s never been picked up softly, comfortingly, to protect him. It’s all making him feel horribly squishy inside. He doesn’t like it one bit.

(He loves it. He’d throw the entire planet in a giant blender just to feel this always.)

He scowls at himself and tries to kick himself out of it. He’s thinking like some horrific Victorian heroine in those terrible novels Aziraphale pretends he doesn’t adore.

So he lounges on the desk, stretching out in a way he likes to think is decorative. Aziraphale, unfortunately, is sitting in the priest’s desk chair and has started rifling through the drawers. This means he doesn’t look up to notice Crowley’s efforts.

‘Draw me like one of your French girls,’ flutters Crowley, feeling in the mood for a bit more flirting to make up for the fact that he’s no longer being held.

Aziraphale looks up at him and gives him an absolutely unmistakeable once-over, making it all incredibly worth it. ‘I don’t know what that means,’ he says. His cheeks are going red again. It’s adorable and Crowley wants to kiss them. Amongst other parts.

‘Oh no?’ he says.

Aziraphale then immediately contradicts himself. ‘Besides,’ he says with a puff of his breath and a hint of amusement breaking through, ‘my main memory of that film is listening to you rant, for no less than three hours and seventeen minutes-’

‘It was not!’

‘It was. I timed it. Listening to you rant, as I was saying, about the sheer brazen impracticality, not to mention the gall, of them having sex in what was not only a classic vehicle, but someone else’s classic vehicle.’

‘I’m telling you, angel,’ says Crowley, who had only ranted for that long to cover up for the fact that he arranged for them to meet at a cinema and the film turned out to have that much sex in it, ‘no one was ever more destined for Downstairs than those two. I don’t care how pretty or in love they supposedly were, they’re suffering an eternity of torture as we speak. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to clean your upholstery after something like that? Why am I even asking you? If you did, you wouldn’t get biscuit crumbs all over the Bentley every time we go anywhere.’

‘It’s very kind of you to be so patient with me,’ says Aziraphale, all dimples.

Crowley, outraged, and struck momentarily dumb because of it, gapes at him like a fish.

Aziraphale opens the next drawer, finds it crammed almost full, and begins to empty it. Piles of papers go up on the desk. Crowley, lounging like a cat, decides they’re encroaching on his space and knocks them off. Next are some pens, a stapler, and a bag of elastic bands. These too are floor-bound. Aziraphale rolls his eyes, but doesn’t seem to care enough to do any thwarting, making it basically as much his fault as it is Crowley’s.

When he dumps a couple of white ecclesiastical collars on the desk, however, Crowley doesn’t immediately push them off. Instead he picks one up and inspects it and then, giving into his poor impulse control, he reshapes his shirt collar and puts it on and takes a selfie. He’s been a priest before: once or twice, for temptations. It’s a difficult one for him to pull off. Not because he doesn’t know his stuff - he can recite huge quantities of scripture with pinpoint accuracy - but because as soon as actually going inside a church is required, the obvious happens. Still, he’s taken the odd confession.

‘Three Hail Marys for pilfering from a priest, angel,’ he says, bored that Aziraphale’s attention is still on searching for snacks.

Aziraphale looks up, starts, and almost succeeds in looking disapproving. ‘Wrong denomination, I think, dear,’ he says. ‘And if you’re going to do that, you should button up the rest of your shirt,’ he says. He leans forward and pinches the gap in Crowley’s shirt between the priest’s collar at the top, and where it actually closes somewhere by his ribs. Under his touch, the fabric knits together and becomes one. ‘There we go,’ he says. ‘Very clerical.’

Crowley snickers, and Aziraphale glances down.

‘A-ha!’ Aziraphale slams a box of communion wafers onto the desk. ‘We will not starve.’ It’s a strong statement from someone who doesn’t need to eat at all, but Crowley decides to let it slide.

‘There’s some wine on the shelf behind you,’ he points out instead. It, like the wafers, is the sacramental stuff. Aziraphale puts it on the desk by Crowley’s hip anyway.

‘I’d better see if there’s anything you can eat,’ he says, frowning at the slim pickings. ‘Or something more appealing for me. It’ll do in a pinch, but...’ He makes a vague gesture of discontent and then resumes his rifling through the drawers.

Crowley, restless, picks up the packet of wafers and opens them. He’s not worried by the prospect of some crackers, sacramental or not. He’s watching Aziraphale as he does. The sight of the Angel stealing from a priest is one he’s both carefully committing to memory in every blessed detail, and also desperately pretending is doing absolutely nothing for him in case Aziraphale catches him looking. He tosses a couple of wafers into his mouth and crunches down, and nearly jumps out of his skin.

‘Shit, Jesus crackers are spicy,’ he says.

Aziraphale looks up, alarmed. ‘They are most emphatically not,’ he says. He makes to reach for the wafers, but Crowley leans away and grabs himself another couple. ‘What are you-?’

‘I’ve seen you eat Vindaloo,’ he says. ‘This is just like that.’ The next wafer he places on his tongue without chewing, feeling it crackle and burn until his eyes are watering. Then he swallows. The prickle of heat vanishes somewhere inside of him and he grins. ‘Just like extra hot nachos,’ he says. ‘Only with an aftertaste of sanctity, not jalapeno and cheese.’

‘Oh, Crowley,’ says Aziraphale, clearly worried.

‘What? They’re tasty!’ says Crowley. ‘Do you want some?’ He offers the box.

‘I’m afraid to me they rather taste like cardboard,’ Aziraphale says.

‘Oh well, your loss,’ says Crowley. He picks up the bottle of communion wine and, slightly nervous about the fact that it’s wet as well as holy, takes only a very small sip.

It’s like being punched in the mouth by a box of wine.

He nearly falls backwards and rolls off the desk, nearly drops the bottle as he does. He’s only saved by Aziraphale lunging to grab him and banishing the bottle into who-knows-where.

Crowley!’ He’s gone strangely pale and his eyes are wide. He’s got both of his hands on Crowley’s upper arms. Being carried earlier has somewhat prepared Crowley for the feeling of Aziraphale touching him and not letting go, but the shock of those bright blue eyes staring at him so intently is still almost enough to make him jump again.

‘Uh. Hi,’ he says. ‘Hope you didn’t banish the crackers too.’

‘Crowley!’ snaps Aziraphale again, and the fear in his tone is all too real. ‘If we’re here to protect me from something imaginary, the least you could do is take being in a building surrounded by things that could kill you seriously!’

‘You.. what,’ says Crowley.

Aziraphale freezes. Then unfreezes just enough to drop Crowley’s arms and jump backwards. ‘I didn’t-’ He fusses with his ring. ‘It’s just, we were in central London on a Saturday night. Are you really certain the evil you smelled wasn’t… wasn’t the policemen bothering that young gentleman just down the road? Or the crowd avoiding looking at that homeless woman?’

A white, hot-cold wave collapses over Crowley, rushing heavily throughout his entire body. ‘When, exactly, were you going to tell me you think I’m going crazy?’ he hisses.

He’s still sitting on the desk.

He’s sitting on the bloody desk, wearing a dog collar, because he can’t touch the fucking floor without dancing.

He’s a fucking joke.

‘I don’t- I didn’t-’ Aziraphale fidgets on his feet. ‘You might have been right. I wasn’t sure, at first. Only now I’m here, and I’m settled, well... I can’t feel anything, and I never could.’

‘Why the hell did you just let me- do this-?’

‘Because you were worried, and-’

‘Oh, so me losing my mind is just something you’re going to let happen now?’ demands Crowley, furious, and unable to do anything about it because he’s on this stupid fucking table.

‘You’re not-’ Aziraphale sighs. ‘Crowley. I-’ He glances away, and twists his ring in his hands. ‘Nobody else has ever worried about me, you know. I like that you do.’ He’s suddenly sincere rather than snappish, and his words are like a kick in the ribs, stealing the wind from Crowley’s sails effortlessly. In the silence that follows, Crowley gapes at him, not sure how or what to even say to that.

‘Just, looking out for… things,’ he eventually mutters into the desk.

‘Then please, all I’m asking is you look after yourself too,’ says Aziraphale. ‘We’re in a church. Half the things in here will burn you and you’re- it’s like you don’t even care.’

‘I’m fine,’ grumbles Crowley. He inspects at his knees. He’s definitely not sulking at them. ‘It’s just communion wafers.’

Spicy Jesus crackers, I thought,’ quotes Aziraphale, that familiar disparaging sarcasm returning, making Crowley feel all the better for it. He looks up, to see Aziraphale staring at him very softly in a way that’s far more painful than any of the holy items surrounding them. ‘Look, we can stay here for another three days if you’d like; you’ve just got to let me worry about you for equally foolish reasons as you do me.’

Crowley shrugs awkwardly.

Aziraphale pauses, then pulls in a rather shakey breath. ‘You have to know how I feel is a mirror of how you feel.’

He says it the same way he says all such things: devastatingly, with just enough room for denial, but at the same time completely undeniable. The air is punched out of Crowley’s lungs. But then Aziraphale doesn’t drop his gaze, or hurry away, or avoid. He stands. He waits.

‘I didn’t. Exactly. Know that,’ says Crowley, after a long silence, his throat dry.

Aziraphale looks disbelieving.

‘I didn’t not know it,’ manages Crowley. ‘But I didn’t know it, either. Are you sure you know what you’re saying, angel?’

Suddenly Aziraphale’s there, in front of Crowley all over again, but now his hands are on Crowley’s face, soft and smooth and with a faint waft of the smell of that almond hand cream Nanny Ashtoreth brought Brother Francis back from her holiday to the Costa Del Sol. ‘You love me,’ Aziraphale says.

‘Nrghk,’ says Crowley. He stares up into bright blue eyes, waiting for him. ‘Yeah.’ It occurs to him what Aziraphale is saying and he’s burning up all over again. He swallows, though his mouth is painfully dry. Then - ever so slowly, terrified he’s wrong, he’s misreading, he’s about to be banished from the bookshop until they can both forget this happened - he rests his hands on Aziraphale’s. ‘You… love me?’ he says. It’s frightening, absurd, presumptuous, ridiculous, but Aziraphale seems to have been expecting it, and when Crowley says it, he beams.

‘Endlessly,’ he says, like it’s simple.

‘There’s a lot of other things, Aziraphale,’ says Crowley. A warning. He’s a Demon, after all. His head isn’t pretty or calm or lovely or anything like that. What he feels is… more. More than Aziraphale can ever guess.

‘Oh, I know that,’ says Aziraphale. ‘Fear and worry, for one. Capacity to irritate for another. Spicy Jesus crackers indeed.’ If he weren’t stroking his hand down Crowley’s cheek, Crowley would very definitely have a riposte. As it is, he’s justifiably distracted.

‘It’s just, you don’t have to mirror everything,’ says Crowley. ‘That I feel.’

‘Nor do you,’ says Aziraphale. ‘In fact,’ he says, and his eyes are suddenly sparkling, ‘I can think of at least one thing you definitely don’t.’

Crowley straightens. ‘What?’ he demands, outraged. The idea that Aziraphale might want or feel something that he can’t reciprocate is absurd.

‘Well,’ says Aziraphale, ‘I have absolutely no qualms about how difficult it is to clean up the upholstery of the Bentley, my dear.’

Crowley’s mouth drops open and his cheeks flood red. ‘Aziraphale!’ he hisses. He’s not sure whether to be shocked, furious or aroused, and he’s definitely feeling some strange combination of both. ‘That is my car.’

Aziraphale lets out an inappropriately prim giggle. He looks so pleased with himself that Crowley has to struggle not to laugh right back at him.

‘You are such a bastard,’ says Crowley. He sucks in a long breath. He doesn’t have any moral qualms about kissing Aziraphale on a priest’s desk, but it is Her house, after all. There are some things he’d rather do in a bit more privacy. ‘Shall we go get dinner?’ he says. ‘Or… get something delivered in?’ He waggles his eyebrows, but Aziraphale continues to treat him devastatingly seriously.

‘Out of the sanctuary?’ asks Aziraphale softly.

‘For you too,’ points out Crowley.

‘You’ll keep me safe,’ says Aziraphale, like it’s unquestionable.

‘And… you me,’ says Crowley, trying to make it sound natural on his tongue.

Then Aziraphale is wrapping his arms around him. He lingers for just a moment, holding for the sake of holding, stretching the limits of plausible deniability and then shattering through them. ‘Do let me help you to the door,’ he says, voice warm and pleased.

‘Oh, all right,’ grumbles Crowley, for appearance’s sake. He puts one of his arms around the back of Aziraphale’s neck this time though, and leans his head on Aziraphale’s shoulder.

Aziraphale sweeps him up into his arms again, and out they go, into the darkness of the night

They’re two streets away before Crowley turns to Aziraphale. ‘You know you can put me down now,’ he says. ‘I can walk.’

‘Mmm,’ agrees Aziraphale, and doesn’t.

‘This is another kidnapping, is what this is,’ says Crowley.

‘Oh, absolutely,’ says Aziraphale. ‘I should be surprised if I ever let you go again.’

And to that, Crowley can do nothing but bury his face in Aziraphale’s shoulder and try not to burst into flames, and he still somehow wouldn’t have it any other way.