Crowley really didn’t start worrying until the third day after their celebratory dinner at the Ritz had gone by and he still hadn’t heard from Aziraphale.
They’d parted amiably, hopeful about the future and ready to relax in their own ways. Crowley settled in his flat to terrorize his plants; Aziraphale said he’d be doing “inventory” at the shop. It was peaceful, and having lived practically in each other’s pockets for eleven years, they looked forward to a little individual alone time.
Crowley had expected a call, at the very least, by day two? Just to check in. When it didn’t come, Crowley told himself the Angel was probably reading and away from his phone. He tried calling the angel, but there was no answer. It left Crowley a little uneasy, but by that third day with no contact, he’d worked himself into a minor panic.
Easily solved, he thought, by a trip to the bookshop.
And so it was, day three after the Apocawhoops, and Crowley ran up the steps to the bookshop. The sun of the summer day failed to permeate the cool dark of the interior as Crowley stepped into it, jingling the bell and looking for his angel. He called out for Aziraphale, and rounded the corner to see him occupying a spot on the backroom’s comfortable couch.
Aziraphale looked up from where he was sitting, head in his hands, looking as worn and haggard as he had combatting plague during the fourteenth century. “Oh, hello, my dear.”
Crowley, who’d not expected to find the angel so obviously worn down, tossed a miracle at the shop’s front door to keep it locked as he strolled in. “What’s wrong, angel? You’re looking peaky.”
“Ah, well, I am not actually certain,” Aziraphale said slowly. “I do not feel at all well. I have actually been wondering, er. Well.”
Crowley’s eyes narrowed as he focused on his long-time friend. “Wondering, what?”
“If I might be falling,” Aziraphale said quietly. “My wings hurt. My head aches. I don’t really know what’s going on.”
The Serpent took a seat on the comfy couch next to the angel. “May I take your hand, angel?” he asked. “I might be able to help see. When I Fell, well, it was violent and dramatic. A quiet, slow Fall is not something I would know much about, but I should be able to sense the state of your soul.”
“I cannot ask that of you,” Aziraphale mumbled. “I do not want to hurt you.”
“You can’t hurt me, angel,” Crowley assured him. “Not that way. And I don’t actually think you’re Falling, but maybe we can figure this out together.” He held out a hand. “Please?”
Aziraphale sighed deeply, then held his hand out for Crowley to take. Long, slim fingers slipped through Aziraphale’s sturdy ones, and Crowley closed his eyes, using senses he rarely had occasion to use.
As the Fallen Archangel of Healing formerly known as Raphael, Crowley had lost his Grace, and his connection to God. However, he could not, and did not, lose his very self, and his core had always been devoted to easing suffering. It was this core that he accessed now to aid his friend.
Keeping his eyes closed, he used Aziraphale’s corporeal hand as a bridge to view his angelic self on the psionic and celestial planes. He reached out with his senses to see Aziraphale’s poor wings, in what looked like a full-scale molt of some kind. He was shedding feathers, and the new ones were growing in with--
“Oh!” Crowley gasped softly. “You’re in color.”
“What?” Aziraphale said, trying to take his hand back, but Crowley held firm. “No, no, angel, wait. I’m not done.”
The angel’s Grace remained, softly glowing, but it, too, was undergoing some sort of change. Crowley would compare it to a kind of metamorphosis, and he’d seen it before.
In human Sentinels.
“Well, well, angel,” Crowley said softly. “You’re about to come online.”
“What?” Aziraphale exclaimed. “But I’m not. Human? What.”
“No, but you’ve chosen humanity’s side,” Crowley pointed out. “You protected humanity, with me, and with your flaming sword. Your reward, apparently, will be to stand for humanity as its Sentinel. Oh, angel, your wings will be gorgeous.”
“But, aren’t Sentinels meant to have guides?” Aziraphale cried out, panicked. “I can’t.”
“Whyever not?” Crowley said, a bit offended.
“Sentinels are meant to put their Guides first.” Aziraphale bit his lip. “And I don’t think I could put any human Guide above …”
Crowley hoped he knew where this was going. “Above who, angel?”
“Above you, Crowley, foul fiend, evil Serpent, best friend, and…” Aziraphale drew a deep breath (despite the fact that he didn’t need to breathe). “Love of my life. If you’ll have me.”
Crowley smiled, softly, and squeezed his angel’s hand. “As if I’d let anyone else be your guide, love.” He leaned forward to cup Aziraphale’s cheek. “I’ve always been your Guide. It’s, just, you’re catching up.”
“I’m confused,” Aziraphale admitted.
“You know who I was before I Fell?” Crowley asked.
“Yes, of course.” Aziraphale paused, thinking about a beautiful Archangel with golden eyes and the staff adorned with a golden serpent. “Raphael.”
“Angel of Healing, Patron of Guides.” Crowley smiled, softly. “God’s first Guide, cast out for questioning her plan. For questioning why she would allow others to suffer. But, Aziraphale, she didn’t take my Guide abilities when I was cast down. I knew, at some point, I would find my Sentinel. And when I was sent up to Eden, when I tempted Eve to eat the apple, and I met you, I knew you were mine.”
“Why didn’t you ever say so?” Aziraphale asked, a little hurt at the lie of omission. His love for Crowley, which he’d taken for regular angelic love, had sharpened over the centuries into something more romantic. It had coalesced in 1941, when Crowley saved his books at the Church. But the fear of what would happen to Crowley should Aziraphale give in to his base feelings had held him back.
“Because you had to come into your role as humanity’s Sentinel on your own, love,” Crowley said. “Even Fallen, I knew I couldn’t interfere with your journey to this point, and to this time, and to this place. But I have always loved you, too.”
“From the beginning?” Aziraphale asked softly. “From the Wall.”
“From the Wall.”
Aziraphale gave a great shudder, and he moaned softly with pain. Crowley’s grip tightened. “What’s happening, angel?”
“I’m not sure,” Aziraphale gasped out. “Something, something feels huge. I have to stand.” He lurched up, dragging Crowley with him. He panted, bowing over as bright white light shot through him. His wings burst out of his back in a kaleidoscope of colors, and a lion roared.
Crowley held on, as the earth itself began to tremble under the bookshop. The books somehow stayed on their shelves (as if they’d do anything else when their owner needed them to stay just where they were), but the flooring heaved along with the earth outside. He heard car alarms going off down the street even as thunder cracked overhead. A torrential downpour fell with deafening hail as Aziraphale finally gave himself over to Change.
“There you are,” Crowley whispered, tears springing to his slitted eyes, behind dark glasses that didn’t dare rest askew. “Sentinel.”
An African lion, mane full and lush, appeared in the shop, and with due speed, tackled Aziraphale, resting paws on his chest as the angel stumbled slightly backwards. Crowley lost his grip at the same time, but simply whispered, “Eve.” A giant anaconda appeared in front of him. “Eve, my beauty, it’s time.” The snake nodded gently, and slithered toward where a befuddled-looking Aziraphale was clumsily petting his spirit guide, who was enthusiastically licking the angel’s face. Eve twined up around the pair, resting her head on Aziraphale’s shoulder and coming nose to nose with the lion, who licked it.
“Yes,” Aziraphale said, bemusedly. “We love our wily serpent, do we not?” He shuddered as the lion got more enthusiastic. “Now, Ariel, Eve, let me go. I have a Guide to claim.”
“You do,” Crowley confirmed, smiling widely as he took off his sunglasses. “And I am eager to be claimed.”
Serpent hissed softly as she unwound herself from Aziraphale, and Ariel the lion sat back down on his haunches. Outside, the storm abated, and Crowley absently miracled away any lasting damage caused by the upheaval while keeping his eyes on his angel, who’d begun to walk toward him with hungry blue eyes.
It was more of a stalk, really.
Crowley grinned ferally, and ran. He made it just past the front door in time to shake out his wings and fly up, Aziraphale close behind him.
Together, they danced through the skies, Crowley leading and taking care to ensure they were not seen as he took them over Paris, Italy, and Jerusalem. Finally, he glided over a little known corner of ancient Babylon, and landed at an oasis in the middle of the desert there--the last known bit of Eden.
The grass under him grew thick and lush from the spring nearby, and the desert palms stood tall. A gentle thud from behind him alerted him to Aziraphale’s landing, and he whipped around to see his Sentinel come at him with a flying tackle that took them both down in a heap.
“Ouch,” Crowley said, even as he laughed with joy.
“Dearest, dearest,” Aziraphale said. “You are truly mine, are you not? My own. My Guide. My love.”
“Forever and always yours, Sentinel. My angel. My love,” Crowley affirmed.
With a snap, Aziraphale rid them of their clothes, and the feeling of their earthly bodies meeting skin to skin for the first time nearly made Crowley come on contact. From Aziraphale’s groan, he could tell he wasn’t alone.
“Aziraphale,” Crowley whispered, and then the angel’s lips were on his.
It was a good thing neither immortal needed to breathe, because the first touch of his Sentinel’s lips on his were a revelation, one that needed to be repeated, Crowley thought, as often as possible for as long as was possible.
After a suitable interval of open-mouthed kissing, (It might have been minutes; it might have been hours. Neither of them were counting) Aziraphale began to use his tongue to taste every inch of Guide. He found a salty, sensitive spot just under his serpent tattoo; a rich, earthy flavor where his arms met his torso. He feasted on Crowley as he had feasted on many gourmet delights over the millenia, imprinting taste and scent, mapping his Guide’s skin with his fingertips. He paused when he reached the apex between Crowley’s thighs.
“What a lovely vulva you have today, dearest,” Aziraphale murmured. “May I?”
“Thought it might be easier for the first time,” Crowley gasped out. “ Please. ”
Easier, Crowley had thought, than miracling up slick and patience in the middle of the desert. But oh, was it a good choice for this first time, as Aziraphale set his shoulders under Crowley’s thighs and feasted on him. He shuddered through his first orgasm almost as soon as Aziraphale’s lips touched his clit for the first time. Aziraphale gentled him through it and leaned up. “Let’s see how many of those we can give you, shall we?”
“Oh, you bastard ,” Crowley said. “You’re meant to be overcome and ready to fuck me into the ground.”
“You love it, and you know it,” Aziraphale said. “And who says I’m not? Believe me, my dear, you will be quite satisfied when we are ready to rest for a moment.”
“Thank G-, Sa-, Somebody for that,” Crowley snarked, then his eyes rolled back as Aziraphale put his tongue to work. He shuddered and begged through two more orgasms this way before Aziraphale relented and replaced his tongue with his cock.
They both moaned, deeply, at the feeling of finally being joined together. Crowley opened up all of his senses to imprint on Aziraphale, completing the empathic bond he had started building in the bookshop when he’d taken his angel’s hand. Aziraphale gasped as the bond snapped into place, and began to thrust, hard and deep into Crowley’s willing body.
He picked up speed, rattling the trees behind them as the earth trembled again. A cloud bank appeared over the oasis, and the skies opened up with rain as the pair of them came, in unison, Aziraphale spilling into Crowley; then, in some half-remembered instinct, he pulled out of his guide, spilling the rest of his body’s seed on the ground, which trembled. Aziraphale took a moment to catch breath he didn’t need before pulling Crowley in his arms and rolling them off to the side, shielding his body as the oasis bloomed with lush vegetation that spilled over acres, surrounding them.
“A new Eden,” a woman’s voice said. “A new Eden for my Guardians on earth. Oh, well done , my children.”
“Mother?” Aziraphale asked, slowly.
“Yes, it is I, Aziraphale,” God said, coalescing into a middle-aged female form. “Crowley, my beloved Fallen, you have done so well to bring your Sentinel here.”
Something about bonding with Aziraphale had lessened the rage toward his Parent that Crowley had banked for millenia. He sat up to kneel in her divine presence. “Mother,” he acknowledged. “Was this your ineffable plan?”
“Part of it,” God said. “And now I may say I am sorry I had to make you suffer in order for it to come about this way. I have always loved you, Crowley, and, demon or no, you have continued to do my work on earth, as I knew you, the healer and Guide, would. And you, my Guardian of the Eastern Gate. You have done so well to work with your Guide, unknowing of his role, to protect humanity. I charge you both, now, with Guardianship of Earth.”
Aziraphale sat up, and knelt too, slowly. “Mother? What of Heaven and Hell?”
“I will be tasking your brothers and sisters with new things moving forward,” God said. “Souls will still go there. In fact, it might seem to you that nothing has changed. But I will charge your brothers and sisters with leaving Earth utterly alone so that you may do your work.”
“And how shall we do that, Mother?” Aziraphale asked.
“It will become clear, Aziraphale. You have done so well, and I am proud of you.” God came close enough to lay a hand on each entity’s forehead. “I give you this blessing, and this purpose. Protect earth.”
“That’s it?” Crowley asked.
“That’s it.” God smiled, and eased away. “And now, I’ll leave you to your bonding. Be well.”
And she disappeared.
Aziraphale and Crowley looked at each other.
“Well, that was a thing,” Crowley muttered.
“An ineffable thing,” Aziraphale agreed.
“Round two?” Crowley asked hopefully.
“Oh, yes,” Aziraphale confirmed.
And it was so.