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Bargaining with DEATH

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Aziraphale was staring at Crowley, face set. The angel’s face clearly said that his mind had not been swayed despite the last hour of arguing.

 

“Crowley, we don’t know what’s going on. I agree with you, we should look into it but you’re not going alone. I don’t care if whatever it is is in Hell. It’s too dangerous.”

 

Crowley stopped pacing, turning to stare at Aziraphale. “Angel. You don’t belong in Hell. I can’t lose you, Aziraphale.”

 

Aziraphale looked into the golden eyes. “And what if I lose you?”

 

“You won’t.” Crowley’s voice was firm. “I promise, I’ll just go take a look and come back. Won’t even stick around and make any trouble. But that note we got, that they’ve got a plan on how to deal with us-” Crowley paused then he continued softer. “Please let me keep you safe. Please.”

 

Aziraphale stood, crossing the distance between them. He opened his arms, an invitation. Crowley tucked himself in against Aziraphale’s chest.

 

Aziraphale tightened his arms, turning to catch Crowley’s lips with his own. When the kiss broke he gently traced his hand over Crowley’s cheek. “Can we discuss this later, love? Let our minds clear a bit?”

 

Crowley nodded and smiled gently as he leaned in for another kiss.

 

----

 

A few hours later Aziraphale woke up in their bed, but his arms were no longer around Crowley but around a large pillow instead. Crowley was whispering something at the foot of the bed, staring down at-

 

Aziraphale jumped up, but he wasn’t fast enough. The barrier knocked him back. “Crowley-”

 

Crowley was looking at him, but he didn’t cross the barrier. His hand raised for a moment then he let it drop. “I’ll be back soon. Promise. Left you a book.” He gestured at the bedside table. “If I’m not back in an hour this’ll fade out. Didn’t want-” He stopped as if he realized he’d said too much.

 

Aziraphale said his name again, but it was too late. Crowley disappeared.

 

Aziraphale didn’t reach for the book, he opened the drawer of the nightstand and pulled out an old cell phone. Then he dialed one of the few numbers he knew. He hoped Anathema was still in London, he did have a rather bad habit of losing track of the humans.

 

---

 

Aziraphale explained as Anathema hurried over. As soon as she broke the line of the circle, Aziraphale closed his eyes and was gone. Anathema shrugged, but decided not to wander far.

 

-----

 

Aziraphale didn’t pause at the entrance to Hell. He took the steps three at a time in his rush. He could sense Crowley. He could sense other beings too, but they didn’t matter. Crowley was there, and Crowley needed him.

 

As his eyes adjusted to the dark he finally spotted the demon. He looked battered, but he was on his feet. He was fending someone off, but he was fighting and fine. Aziraphale started to make his way across the room to him, batting away a demon that was foolish enough to try to get between the pair.

 

That was when the room lit with a bright light. A ray shot through the room. Aziraphale had a brief moment to wonder what was going on, and then he saw it barely brush Crowley, touching his arm. And Crowley was falling.

 

Aziraphale ran.

 

He caught Crowley before he hit the floor, but the demon was unconscious in his arms. Aziraphale refused to think it could be any worse, that he could be any worse, that-

 

Aziraphale saw the beam hit another being in the room and watched them disappear on the spot.

 

He pulled Crowley into his arms, and he focused on home. Focused on getting them there. He tightened his grip on the demon as they faded from the room and reappeared in their own back room of the bookshop.

 

He saw Anathema was still there. 

 

“What happened?”

 

“Some sort of ray? It hit him. I don’t know what it did, he’s-” Aziraphale looked down at the demon in his arms.

 

Anathema nodded. “I’ll get supplies. Just, keep him breathing.” Then she was running out the door.

 

Aziraphale laid Crowley down gently on their bed. Breathing. He was still breathing. Aziraphale tried to focus on that while he tried to examine exactly what had happened, and how he’d been wounded.

 

He rested one hand gently on Crowley’s forehead as the other clenched the demon’s hand . “Don’t leave me now. Not now, love, please.” The words came out a whisper. A plea.

 

Crowley’s breathing faltered for a heart beat before resettling and Aziraphale felt the pit grow in his stomach. He could feel the presence behind him. He took one last look at Crowley, kissing his hand slowly as he set it down.

 

Then he turned. He released his wings as he turned, bristling them out and around Crowley. Blue eyes stared into the endless depth of DEATH’s eyes. Where his voice before had been soft and gentle, there was nothing benign about Aziraphale’s voice now. “Leave.”

 

“YOU KNOW I CANNOT.”

 

For the first time, Aziraphale wished he had his sword. He spared a quick glance back over his shoulder at the demon still out cold behind him. Still breathing. He took a deep breath and centered himself, then he ran at DEATH.

 

DEATH swatted him away as if he were a fly.

 

Aziraphale saw him take a step forward from where he lay on the floor. He didn’t take a breath to regroup this time, he just dived at DEATH again.

 

This time DEATH held onto him for a moment, seeming to almost consider him before he threw him against the opposite wall.

 

Aziraphale was back on his feet in a heartbeat, diving at DEATH again. He had no plan. His only plan was to keep himself between the two. To protect Crowley. Nothing else mattered.

 

This time when he ran into DEATH, there was no response from the dark angel. He simply stood there, watching Aziraphale try to move him. Aziraphale thought he may have heard a bit of begrudging admiration in his voice.

 

“STOP BEFORE YOU GET HURT.”

 

Aziraphale felt anger rise in him. Hurt him. The only unbearable pain in this room was the fate of the demon behind him. The only pain he refused to suffer was losing him. Aziraphale unleashed his full angelic self as he continued to push against DEATH, desperately trying to keep him away from the demon.

 

“YOU CAN’T HURT ME, GUARDIAN OF THE EASTERN GATE. YOUR STRENGTH DOESN’T MATTER HERE.”

 

Aziraphale didn’t stop pushing. DEATH actually took a step back as Aziraphale managed to gasp out. “You can’t have him.” 

 

DEATH swatted him to the wall again. “I DON’T WANT HIM.”

 

Aziraphale could barely breathe, but he moved himself back between DEATH and Crowley. Wings protectively around the demon behind him. Still breathing. Still alive. He had a moment to catch his breath and maybe he could come up with a plan-

 

“AZIRAPHALE, STOP.”

 

Aziraphale’s voice came out in a hiss that sounded more like the Serpent of Eden than any angel should sound. “Then leave.”

 

“I CAME FOR HIM. IT’S YOU I WANT NOW.”

 

“Just- just don’t take him. You can-” Aziraphale’s voice cracked. Crowley would never forgive him but-

 

“IT IS NOT YOUR TIME, GUARDIAN.” And here the grudging respect was back. “BUT I AM WILLING TO MAKE A BARGAIN. YOU HAVE PROVEN YOU HAVE HEART AT LEAST.”

 

Aziraphale ran through his options. A bargain with DEATH was not high on his list of things he wanted to do and yet. He could feel Crowley behind him. His energy felt so much weaker than usual.

 

“HE’S DYING. WE CAN BOTH FEEL IT. BUT YOU DON’T KNOW WHY. DO YOU WANT TO SAVE HIM?”

 

Aziraphale’s voice was a whisper “Yes. Why are you helping me?”

 

“I NEED YOU TO DO WHAT I CANNOT. I NEED YOU TO SAVE ANOTHER.”

 

Confusion flickered across Aziraphale’s face. All DEATH needed to do to save a soul was not claim it. Something was-

 

“THE WEAPON THEY USED ON HIM THEY WANT TO USE ON HER.”

 

“God?”

 

“YES.” Death paused. “DON’T YOU WANT REVENGE FOR HIM?”

 

Aziraphale did. But not as much as- “Nothing of the sort. I want to stop them from hurting him again.” He paused, considering. A bit of his angelic self slipped out. “They can’t hurt him again if I ę̸̰̭̲̎͋͂̎̐̿ͅn̸̢͙̫͔̽͒͌d̵̳̿̊͘ ̵̧͕̗̼͇̫͕̗̫̏̑̓͑̒̃͒̋̚͝͝ͅͅṫ̴̮͎̮̉͑͌̎͑͘͝͝͝ḩ̵̢̗̯͎̰̹͈̹̂͜͝e̴̞̝̫̪̮̥̜̫͚͓̙͗͝m̶̦̦̬̦̾̉̄̄̈͋̊͊.”



Aziraphale wasn’t sure about the rush of emotions that went through him. Hope. Hope for Crowley. Frustration. Pain. He stepped away from DEATH and took Crowley’s hand again. Still breathing. “Why should I help Her? She threw him away.” The blasphemy had rolled off his tongue before he thought it through, but he couldn’t find himself regretting it.

 

“IT WAS ALL-”

 

“Are you going to say ineffable?”

 

“NO I WAS GOING TO SAY BEYOND DESCRIPTION.”

 

Aziraphale had the strangest feeling of being winked at. Perhaps this would work after all. He let a small smile cross his face as he looked down at the demon. For the first time since he’d walked into Hell, he let himself hope.

 

“I WILL GIVE YOU THEIR LOCATION. YOU DESTROY THE WEAPON AND YOU BOTH CAN GO ON YOUR WAY.”

 

Aziraphale snorted in derision. “No.”

 

“NO?”

 

His grip on Crowley’s hand tightened. “I go with him or not at all.”

 

“THERE IS NO TIME.”

 

“Then I suppose you should help me heal him quickly, shouldn’t you?”

 

He wondered if he’d finally pushed DEATH too far. If he was no longer worth the trouble. He’d accept that. But he wouldn’t leave Crowley’s side, and certainly not to leave him here on death’s doorstep with… well DEATH.

 

“HE IS BURNING FROM THE INSIDE.”

 

“He can’t burn, he’s a demon. He’s already been burned.” Aziraphale thought of the vague scent of smoke that always clung to Crowley. It was part of him. Something Aziraphale had come to love, just like the rest.

 

“IT IS SIMILAR TO WHAT HAPPENED IN THE FALL. BUT SIGNIFICANTLY WORSE. IT WAS MADE TO DESTROY HER. HE BARELY TOOK A HIT, BUT IT’S COMPOUNDED ON TOP OF OLD WOUNDS.”

 

“How do I fix it?”

 

“YOUR WITCH SHOULD KNOW A WAY.”

 

Anathema’s timing was perfect. She burst through the door, nearly dropping the chest in her arms as she caught sight of DEATH. Aziraphale was by her side, pulling her gently to the bed.

 

“Burns, what do you have for burns?”

 

“That’s all?”

 

Aziraphale nodded. He watched as Anathema opened the chest, pulling out a small vial, and handing it to Aziraphale.

 

He turned to Crowley and then Aziraphale was pulling Crowley up and trying to gently dribble the concoction down his throat. Crowley started stirring after the first few drops. By the bottom of the flask, he was swallowing without encouragement. Aziraphale pushed down the tears as he put the flask down gently behind him. “Angel?”

 

DEATH began to flicker. “REMEMBER. WE HAVE A BARGAIN. DESTROY THE WEAPON.” Aziraphale watched as he flickered out. Knowing truly he was still there as he was everywhere. But Aziraphale was breathing again.

 

“Was that DEATH?” Crowley’s voice was weak.

Chapter Text

Aziraphale pulled Crowley tighter. “Don’t worry about it, love.”

 

Anathema glanced at the pair, then started moving towards the door. “I’m going to give you two some time to talk. You know where to find me if you need me, Aziraphale.” There was a slight thud as the door closed.

 

Crowley was looking at Aziraphale. “Weapon?”

 

“Later.”

 

“Angel, what did you-”

 

“Nothing I didn’t need to do. Now rest. We’ve got a chore ahead of us, but you’re here-” Aziraphale’s voice cracked. Crowley’s hands were on his face, bringing their foreheads together.

 

Crowley’s golden eyes seemed to almost bore into his, their foreheads gently resting on each other and faces inches apart. “Angel, what-”

 

“Crowley, you almost died.” Aziraphale’s voice cracked on the last word. “Just, for a moment. Can I just not focus on that and focus on you. Here. In front of me? Without me being trapped where I can’t help?”

 

Crowley winced as he stared at the angel in front of him. His angel. And then he realized Aziraphale was starting to shake. Crowley didn’t trust his body yet, not fully. He could feel the weakness slowly ebbing away.

 

But he was strong enough to pull Aziraphale down next to him on the bed. Strong enough to wrap his arms around him, and manifest his wings and wrap those around the angel too.

 

As Aziraphale shook and cried Crowley didn’t say anything. He tried to remember and process, but mostly he focused on holding the angel in his arms. Running his hands through his hair slowly. Brushing the tears off his face.

 

He laid there and let Aziraphale cry, never loosening his hold. Sometimes he whispered into his hair that he loved him. Mostly he was silent. He still wasn’t completely sure what had happened, but he realized how close he’d come to not being here. He realized how close Aziraphale had come to losing him.

 

Eventually Aziraphale quieted in his arms.

 

Crowley’s voice was a whisper in his hair. “I don’t know what happened, but I love you. I’m here. I love you.”

 

“DEATH came for you, Crowley.” Aziraphale paused. “He- he was going to take you. I didn’t think I’d get you back. I was terrified I’d lose you. I tried to fight him.”

 

Crowley couldn’t subdue his frantic response. “You what? Aziraphale, he could have- He would have-”

 

“You were lying dying behind me, love. I can’t say I was overly concerned with what he could do.” Aziraphale's voice was terse.

 

And now Crowley felt his own wings bristle as the shudder ran through him. He tried to find the words, tried to explain to Aziraphale just how wrong it was that he would put himself at risk so needlessly. Before he could open his mouth, Aziraphale continued.

 

“I know, Crowley. I- I thought as I ran at him that you’d never forgive me if it ended badly. If somehow you made it.” He tilted his head back to stare into Crowley’s eyes.

 

Crowley’s arms tightened around the angel. “Aziraphale.”

 

Aziraphale tucked his head next to Crowley’s chest, folding his wings back to the celestial plane to nestle in closer. “Are you going to tell me you wouldn’t have done the exact same thing?”

 

Crowley fell silent. They both knew he would. They both knew neither would ever stop in that particular fight. The fight wasn’t over while there was still hope. He settled for just kissing the top of Aziraphale’s curls. Thanking someone the angel was in his arms. That they were both here still.

 

“We’re both here now, Crowley. It worked. That’s the important part.” Aziraphale lifted his head and stared at Crowley. “But I will say at least I didn’t lock you away in our own bed to run off and fight without you.”

 

Crowley ducked his head down and muttered something into Aziraphale’s chest.

 

“I couldn’t hear you, my dear.”

 

“Said ‘m sorry.” His voice was still muffled.

 

Aziraphale placed his finger gently under Crowley’s chin and dragged his eyes up to meet his own. “Crowley. I sat here waiting for Anathema and trying not to panic, thinking I may lose you. Then I arrived barely in time to catch you as you fell. I almost lost you.” Aziraphale’s voice cracked.

 

“Just wanted to protect you.”

 

Aziraphale stared at the golden eyes. They were pleading. “And what good is protecting my body if my heart is gone, Crowley? You locked me away to keep me safe and would have utterly destroyed me in the process.”

 

Crowley’s words came out so soft Aziraphale could barely hear them as a half sob shook his body. “I’m sorry, angel. Won’t do it again.”

 

Aziraphale continued to gaze at Crowley’s eyes until he was certain that he meant every word. Then he sighed and let his eyes slip shut as he nuzzled his head on Crowley’s shoulder.

 

Crowley tightened his grip and hummed softly in his hair. “What did you bargain away?”

 

Aziraphale was quiet for a moment considering how to best phrase things. “Just a small chore, really. We need to destroy the thing that hurt you.”

 

“Oh, that all? Just go destroy the thing that almost killed me?”

 

Aziraphale tried to keep his voice light. “I don’t suppose you’d let me do it on my own.”

 

Crowley didn’t answer. He just hissed. It was a low, seething one. A hiss Aziraphale had never heard directed at himself.

 

“No, I didn’t think you would agree to that anymore than I did. But I don’t want you anywhere near it. How are you feeling?”

 

“M’fine, angel. What’s the weapon for, anyway? Seems a bit of overkill if they were just after us.”

 

Aziraphale fell silent again. 

 

Crowley pulled back just far enough to look at the angel in his arms, eyebrow raised. “You may as well tell me all of it, angel. Better now than I find out when we’re in the middle of something. Wouldn’t want me to not be prepared, would you?”

 

When the words came, they came in a tumble. “It’s Her, Crowley. DEATH is trying to save Her. And She doesn’t- you- you FELL and it’s Her fault and now we have to save Her and- Crowley that beam, I saw it hit another being in the room. They simply disappeared on the spot, I’m not sure what it is, but you almost died and now” Aziraphale’s voice was frantic. “Now we have to go back there and you have to be at risk again and it’s for Her and I’m supposed to love her, but I love you.” With that Aziraphale seemed to shock himself into silence.

 

Crowley let it settle for a second. Let Aziraphale’s breathing return to normal. When he spoke it was slow, measured. “You can love us both, Aziraphale. Love’s a complicated thing. And you did what you needed to to protect me. I- I won’t say I wish you hadn’t. I wish you weren’t caught in the middle. I wish you weren’t at risk. But neither of us will die this time. We’ll be together. I should have had you with me last time. I was wrong. Won’t go alone again.”

 

As Crowley finished Aziraphale finally leaned back, making eye contact. Crowley felt himself start to breathe again once their eyes met. The angel’s eyes were sad, but they weren’t radiating pain or fear. He leaned in and brushed a soft kiss across Aziraphale’s lips.

 

“We’ll get through this, angel. Survived the Apocalypse. One little weapon can’t be much worse.”

 

“It was designed to destroy God.”

 

“Still.”

 

Aziraphale burrowed back into Crowley’s arms and Crowley tightened them again. The weakness was gone. And he knew they needed to get up. But he couldn’t quite stand to end this moment yet.

 

“Did you find anything else out?” Aziraphale whispered as he tucked his head onto Crowley’s shoulder, kissing his cheek softly.

 

Crowley turned his head and caught Aziraphale’s lips for a soft kiss before he responded. “Rogue demons. Got a weapon they shouldn’t have. Heard they were trying to start the Apocalypse properly.”

 

“And you didn’t come for help?”

 

“Wasn’t planning to get caught in the middle of it. Wasn’t supposed to be there, just got a bit too close trying to examine things.”

 

Aziraphale nudged him again. “Any idea where to start this time? Safely?”

 

Crowley smiled and started to move, pulling Aziraphale with him as he sat at the edge of the bed. “I’ve got an idea.”

 

Aziraphale nodded, then started to slowly pull himself up, holding his hand down to help Crowley.

 

Crowley stood up, but then used the grip on Aziraphale’s hand to pull him in, wrapping him up one more time. He leaned in and kissed him.

 

As the kiss broke he smiled. “We can go now, angel.”

 

Aziraphale let his hand trace Crowley’s face for just a moment before he turned towards the door with a sigh. “What’s the plan?”

Chapter Text

Crowley turned to Aziraphale smiling. “I have an informant. We’ll contact him, see what he knows. He’s a demon but he’s been living top side for a bit and dabbles in selling information.”

 

Aziraphale arched an eyebrow. “Is he sophisticated, politically speaking?”

 

Crowley cringed. “Not exactly. But he’s knowledgeable.”

 

Aziraphale tried to force a smile. This was a far better plan than running head first into a ray gun of some sort at any rate. “I have an informant as well. Perhaps one of them may have some information for us. He, er, used to pass some information on you from time to time. You know, if I hadn’t seen you in a bit.”

 

Crowley pulled a pair of sunglasses from the bedside drawer while eyeing the angel. “Really, Aziraphale. Tracking me? Didn’t know you had it in you. Luckily my informant also kept an eye on ethereal beings so he was able to pass some information on to me as well. You know, just when it’d been awhile since we had seen each other.” He slid the glasses onto his face.

 

Aziraphale stood, pulling Crowley with him. He watched, keeping an eye out to ensure the demon wasn’t wobbling on his feet but Crowley seemed sure footed enough. Crowley gave a gentle smile and pulled the angel towards the door.

 

“Where’s this informant of yours? Maybe we can visit both.” Crowley asked over his shoulder as he made his way down the stairs and into the bookshop proper.

 

“Not far from the park. Lives in a flat nearby.”

 

Crowley froze. “Aziraphale, what’s his name?”

 

“Scott.”

 

Crowley took another step forward into the bookshop, his head dropping into his hands as he muttered something Aziraphale couldn’t quite make out. Aziraphale paused for a moment considering.

 

“Same informant?” He finally asked.

 

“Same informant.” Crowely confirmed.

 

“Convenient of him to keep us both up to date.” Aziraphale said lightly.

 

Crowley only groaned into his hands. “C’mon, angel. I know where we’re going at least.”

 

Aziraphale was careful to lock the front door as they left.

 

---

 

Crowley knocked a complicated pattern on the door. A voice sounded from the inside. “Crowley! Pal, it’s been-”

 

The door flew open revealing the pair standing there.

 

The smile faded from the face of the blonde, curly haired demon as he stared at the pair in front of him. Then a quiet “Oh fuck” slipped from his lips.

 

Aziraphale smiled. It was not a reassuring smile. “Hello Scott, it’s been awhile.”

 

Crowley raised an eyebrow. “Should we take this inside?”

 

Scott stepped to the side and waved them into the small flat.

 

As the door clicked shut, Crowley turned. “You really didn’t think we’d figure it out?”

 

Scott had the good grace to look abashed, his alabaster eyes staring solidly past the two. “I mean, it’s been what, two thousand years? Don’t you two ever talk?” He turned and flopped back onto the lounge chair behind him. “Really, is it my fault you never consulted with each other?”

 

Aziraphale cleared his throat. “Even if we had sorted it out, the information you passed was still helpful. I mean, I wouldn’t have known about Crowley’s incident with those boats without your help.”

 

Crowley stared down his glasses at the demon. “You told him what?”

 

Scott shrugged. “At least I didn’t tell him you wanted to fuck him.”

 

“I never told you that!”

 

Scott laughed. Aziraphale tried to push the smile down, but then Crowley noticed his body was starting to shake with silent laughter.

 

Crowley stared at him until he finally stopped.

 

“If you’re both done.” Crowley’s tone was icy. He watched as Aziraphale flinched slightly, then reached out his hand to take the angel’s hand reassuringly. He turned his attention back to the other demon in the room. “Scott, what can you tell us about the weapon that Hell’s building?”

 

Scott let out a low whistle. “Oh you two got yourselves in deep this time, didn’t you? Can’t tell you much really. But the one thing I do know is that it’s not just denizens of Hell involved. They couldn’t put all the pieces together on their own, it needed miracles from both sides so to speak.”

 

“Do you happen to know where we could turn up more information?” Aziraphale’s voice was clipped.

 

“If it were me, I’d start in Heaven. All that’s in Hell is the weapon itself. The key and the making came from some sort of Heavenly source.” He paused. “I am genuinely sorry I can’t help more. And I’m glad you two finally started talking.”

 

Aziraphale’s smile this time was far more genuine. “We’ll keep you updated, Scott. If you don’t hear it from other sources of course.”

 

Scott nodded and the two took that as their dismissal.

 

As soon as they sat down in the Bentley again Aziraphale was talking. “I know you want to go with me, Crowley but it’d be better if-”

 

“Angel, stop.” His voice was soft, and that more than anything stopped Aziraphale. “I tried that, remember?”

 

“It’s Heaven, Crowley. I see the look you get in your face just speaking about it and going back…” He trailed off.

 

“Won’t be my first time back.”

 

Aziraphale pulled Crowley’s hand closer, then kissed it softly. “They never deserved you. Not at all, my love.”

 

Crowley let his hand trail up, brushing it across Aziraphale’s cheek softly for a moment before sighing. “Where’s the closest side entrance?”

 

“It’s-” Azraphale took a breath. “It’s not the closest, but there’s one near the shop. And no one uses it since it was there just for me.”

 

Crowley nodded and began to drive them home.

 

-----------------------------------

 

Crowley parked the Bentley outside the bookshop. He halfway expected Aziraphale to enter the shop like usual, but instead he followed him down a small alley to a hidden stairwell. Aziraphale stepped on the first step and then turned to him.

 

“You’ll understand that I’m a bit protective, and stay behind me at all times?”


Crowley nodded. If that was all Aziraphale would ask in order to let him be accompanied, he certainly wasn’t going to argue with him. Aziraphale leaned close, brushing his lips across Crowley’s forehead. Then he turned and started walking up the spiral staircase. Crowley followed.

 

The room they came out in couldn’t have been described as more than a broom closet, really. It bothered Crowley that this was what they thought of Aziraphale and of his pathway, but he kept his mouth shut as he followed Aziraphale down the hallway, ducking into a nearby room.

 

Aziraphale sat at the computer there, quickly typing in a name and password and finally Crowley broke his silence.

 

“I thought you didn’t know-”

 

“Not liking and not knowing are not the same thing, my dear.”

 

Aziraphale was quickly sorting through files and Crowley leaned over to look over his shoulder. Aziraphale was clicking a file labeled Astra Project, but it was refusing to open and telling him his clearance wasn’t high enough. It requested a biometric scan from someone level archangel or above.

 

“We could just kidnap an archangel.” Aziraphale muttered.

 

“We’re not kidnapping an archangel.” Crowley’s voice was flat. He reached past Aziraphale and put his finger on the scanner, not sure whether he hoped it would work or not.

 

The file dinged and opened. Aziraphale froze and slowly turned to look at him.

 

Crowley carefully didn’t make eye contact. “What?”

 

“How did you…”

 

“Not my fault they haven’t cleaned up their files since I was up here.” Crowley shrugged.

 

Aziraphale turned back to the computer. “We’re going to talk about this. Later.”

 

Crowley made a noncommittal noise as Aziraphale opened the file and they both started skimming through the plans.

 

“I don’t believe it. How the fuck is Gabriel involved? That over pompous ingrate wouldn’t dare-”

 

“I think you’re underestimating him.” Aziraphale muttered.

 

Crowley glanced at Aziraphale. “What aren’t you telling me?”

 

“Now’s not the time. But Gabriel is capable of far more than you give him credit for.”

 

“We’re going to talk about this. Later.” Crowley’s voice was a close mimicry to Aziraphale’s own and Aziraphale winced as he continued reading through the file. Crowley kissed his cheek softly.

 

Finally Aziraphale leaned back. “Did you get all of that?”

 

“Can’t read as fast as you, want to sum it up for me?”

 

Aziraphale sighed. “It’s Gabriel’s project. He’s got the key. He did the manufacturing and the miracles and… everything. I don’t know why, that’s not in there. Disenchantment? Wanting to start the next war? I don’t know, Crowley. But it’s Gabriel and a select few others. I’m surprised Michael and the rest of them haven’t stumbled into it yet and stopped him, it’s not exactly locked down well.”

 

“So what you’re saying is the new plan is to somehow stop Gabriel?”

 

Aziraphale gave half a laugh. “We could always kidnap him.”

Chapter Text

“How is our plan kidnapping Gabriel?” This was at least the fifth time Crowley had hissed that question as they ducked into various rooms on their way to the archangel’s office.

 

“Do you have a single, better idea? He’s got the key. It’s either that or we go after the weapon itself, with no knowledge of whether it’s powered.”

 

Crowley grumbled, but continued following Aziraphale. It was getting harder as they got to the busier areas of Heaven. Of course Gabriel’s office would have to be in a place where everyone knew it existed, with the best of views.

 

Aziraphale’s hand shot out, stopping him and shoving him behind him as he nodded at another angel walking by. Crowley did his best to not hiss again.

 

Finally they were ducking into Gabriel’s office. Aziraphale immediately crossed the wide expanse to his desk. Crowley was busy looking at how high the ceiling was, how large the room was. “Why’s he need all this space?”

 

Azirpahale shrugged. “It’s Gabriel.”

 

He pulled open the drawers of the desk and began looking for anything that could possibly be the key they needed. Crowley moved between Aziraphale and the door and stared at it, hoping against hope that somehow someone wouldn’t walk in. There was nowhere for them to hide.

 

The door slid open and two angels walked in. One was Gabriel and the other was-

 

“Oh, hello Raphael. It’s delightful to see you again.” Aziraphale’s voice sounded from behind him.

 

The pair froze, staring. Crowley used that moment as a chance to miracle the door shut and silent, they certainly didn’t need anyone else showing up to help.

 

Aziraphale continued. “Were you aware that Gabriel had a special project going?” 

 

This seemed to finally snap Gabriel out of his frozen stupor. “What are you and” he glanced at Crowley “that thing doing in my office?”

 

Crowley watched Gabriel closely, silently daring the pompous fool to give him a reason to attack, but it was Raphael who struck first. At a slight nod from Gabriel, the archangel darted toward Aziraphale. Crowley hissed and flung a bolt of force to intercept--then hissed again when it didn’t throw his opponent nearly as against the wall as it should have. Raphael skidded sideways a few feet, ducking a second blast. They would have reached Aziraphale moments later, if Crowley hadn’t begrudgingly turned to face them in earnest. 

 

The ground shook. Raphael charged, their arms humming with power. Crowley dissipated it with a thought and brought their charge to a halt with a sidestep and a forearm. Then they tried to throw a punch which Crowley barely even had to dodge. He suspected he'd spent more time in brawls and bar fights in six thousand years than this angel had spent on Earth at all.

 

Crowley risked a glance at Aziraphale. Gabriel was closing in, but Aziraphale was up and in a defensive position. He had to trust his angel.

 

He shot another bit of power at Raphael. It should have been enough to knock him back, or down, but again Raphael seemed barely phased. Raphael took a swing forward, and Crowley dodged easily again, sparing a glance over his shoulder anxious to check on Aziraphale.

 

Gabriel was sending relentless flashes of blinding light, which almost completely enveloped Aziraphale at times. Crowley was worried, but Aziraphale seemed able to dissipate each one as it struck

 

The fight with Raphael was in Crowley’s favor by a wide margin, but this was taking too long. Crowley heard a startled yell and glanced over his shoulder. Aziraphale was still on his feet, but he had his hand pressed to his arm. Hurt. The angel was hurt. Crowley took a breath and pulled on his reserves and froze time.

 

A quick glance showed him that Aziraphale was safe. Gabriel’s expression was frozen in almost comical shock. It hurt knowing that Aziraphale was frozen too, but he didn’t have time to fix the range and he’d simply gone for stopping all the beings in the room with him until he could address them. Raphael now frozen was easy to dispatch. With a sigh he turned towards the other pair in the room.

 

Only to find Gabriel not where he should be next to Aziraphale, but right in front of him. He was smiling. Then before Crowley’s brain could even process, there was a sharp pain as a blade entered his shoulder.

 

He fell to the ground, but Gabriel was talking.

 

“You thought you could stop the Messenger of God? Really? With something so flimsy? I was made to be able to move through anywhere and anything.” He shoved a little harder on the knife. “You’re looking for a key, aren’t you? We thought it would be best to have the key also provide some bit of protection.” Gabriel twisted the knife.

 

Crowley’s hand reached for his shoulder, the knife was burning. Gabriel kicked him backwards.

 

“Of course, I’ll dispatch that loser of an angel after this. But he’ll go knowing that you were taken out first by your own mistake. And by the thing you were seeking.”

 

Gabriel was advancing on him. And then just like that Gabriel was gone, his body slamming against the far wall and Aziraphale standing in his place looking aghast.

 

He was on his knees in front of Crowley a split second later, his hands over the wound assessing it. Crowley felt a hint of a miracle before Gabriel’s voice interrupted.

 

“You’ll never get out of here, you know.”

 

Aziraphale’s eyes stared into Crowley’s for a moment, then he leaned in to kiss Crowley’s forehead softly. “Glad I was here this time.” He whispered.

 

“Are you kissing your pet demon goodbye?” Gabriel’s voice was taunting.

 

Crowley noticed that Aziraphale’s eyes were starting to glow slightly as he turned away. He gulped and watched the angel.

 

“You know, you were supposed to be keeping filth like him from entering the gate of the garden. You were Guardian of the Eastern Gate when you knew your place.”

 

Aziraphale’s didn’t yell, but his voice was firm. “Not guardian of the eastern gate, Guardian of Eden, and ALL its inhabitants”

 

Gabriel finally paused, staring at Aziraphale. “That thing didn’t belong in Eden.”

 

Aziraphale’s skin started to crackle as if electrified. Gabriel took a step back. Then a singular lightning bolt shot down striking Gabriel.

 

Aziraphale stepped back next to Crowley, pulling the blade from his shoulder with an apologetic look, then using a quick miracle to stop the bleeding. He glanced up again and DEATH was there.

 

“WELL DONE, GUARDIAN.” He paused. “AND YOUR SERPENT.”

 

Aziraphale held out the blade. “This is the key to the machine. We’ll go destroy it next, but it can’t be started without this.”

 

Behind DEATH, Gabriel was standing looking down at his body that still contained his celestial form, shock on his face.

 

“What will happen to him?” Aziraphale asked.

 

“THAT IS FOR HER TO DECIDE.”

 

“Is our debt settled?” Aziraphale wrapped his arm around Crowley.

 

“IT IS.”

 

“Going to come to the wedding, Azrael?” Crowley spoke up finally.

 

There was an awkward silence as DEATH seemed to consider them both for a moment. “WILL THERE BE CAKE?”

 

Aziraphale smiled. “We’ll be sure to save you some.”

 

“I WILL BE THERE. AS I AM EVERYWHERE.”

 

DEATH spread his wings and an instant later he and the Gabriel that had been standing were gone.

 

Aziraphale was turning to examine Crowley’s wound again the instant they disappeared, but Crowley was gently turning his face up for a soft kiss.

 

“S’fine, angel.”

 

Aziraphale smiled. “Well, one more quick stop on the way home? You know the way to the weapon in Hell, I take it?”

 

Crowley blanched, but nodded.

 

The pair made their way back to the exit, not bothering to hide or explain the mess that was now the ex-Archangel Gabriel’s office.

 

Crowley was able to lead them safely to the room the weapon was stored in. When it wasn’t in operation, there was only one guard who was easily discorporated. Crowley melted the machine down with Infernal Fire, keeping an eye on Aziraphale to be sure he kept his distance.

 

It wasn’t until they’d left the exit of Hell that Crowley finally smiled at the angel. “Ready to go home?”

 

“Please.” Aziraphale wrapped his arm around him as they walked.

Chapter Text

Crowley blinked his eyes awake. The warm presence of Aziraphale was gone, but that wasn’t something to be concerned with. It wasn’t rare that Aziraphale awakened before him and went down to the shop. He stretched and let out a yawn and that’s when he realized there was something more.

 

He couldn’t feel his powers. His eyes snapped open and he sat up, not realizing he was holding his breath until it came out in a woosh as he saw Aziraphale calmly sitting across the room, book in his lap.

 

“Aziraphale?”

 

“I didn’t set a timer on that holding circle. In case you’re curious.”

 

And it finally hit Crowley what was truly wrong. He didn’t have access to his powers. Aziraphale was out there, and he was trapped in this circle and anything could happen and-

 

“Also, I have your cell phone.”

 

Crowley forced down a calm he didn’t feel. “Aziraphale, what-” Then he fell silent in realization.

 

“Do you remember what might be wrong? Is it coming back to you?” Aziraphale turned the page in the book.

 

Crowley let out a soft whine.

 

“Of course, I’m not planning for anything to go wrong right now. Unlike certain beings in the room right now, I wouldn’t take a risk without coming to an agreement first. I certainly wouldn’t without taking away your free will.” Aziraphale took a sip of the tea and glanced over his mug at Crowley.

 

Crowley had pulled the blankets up so that just his eyes and the top of his head were showing.

 

“I know you’re feeling remorseful, my dear.” Aziraphale set down the cup turning his eyes to Crowley. “But what do you think of me taking a trip to Heaven right now? Surely Michael wouldn’t mind a brief check in, and I would be back soon.”

 

“No. Please, no.” Crowley’s voice was a whisper.

 

Aziraphale’s gaze didn’t leave the golden eyes. “Or perhaps I could summon Azrael. I did mean to see if we could touch base with him again. He doesn’t usually ally himself for obvious reasons, but were I to go down to the bookshop and give him a call I’m sure you wouldn’t mind?”

 

Crowley whimpered.

 

Aziraphale stood up.

 

Crowley was on his feet and bouncing back from the barrier before he realized what he was doing. He saw Aziraphale almost step into the circle as he fell back on the bed, slightly dazed. A tear started to track it’s way down Crowley’s cheek. “Please, don’t Aziraphale. Please.”

 

Aziraphale softened. He was glad he didn’t go through with his plan to have Azrael or Michael drop by for this small lesson.

 

“Won’t do it again, Aziraphale. I already told you that. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He seemed to breathe now that Aziraphale had stopped. “You protected me in Heaven, angel. We’re better together. I understand, really. Please, angel.” There was a pause and then another near silent, “please.”

 

That was what did it. Aziraphale made a quick swipe with his foot, breaking the line on the circle as he stepped in and as soon as he cleared it, Crowley was launching himself into his arms, a dry sob escaping him.

 

Aziraphale buried his face in the flame red hair as he whispered. “I know that I am your heart Crowley, but when will you realize that you are mine?”

 

Crowley’s voice was soft. “Don’t deserve you. Don’t deserve any of it.”

 

Aziraphale felt a part of him break. He pulled Crowley back to the bed, pulling him down with him and wrapping his arms around him. “Nonsense. All of that is nonsense. Why would you think that?”

 

“I’m just a demon, Aziraphale.”

 

Aziraphale considered every time he’d reminded Crowley of their respective differences. He’d done it to keep him safe. He’d done it to keep them both safe. His own mistake did not absolve Crowley, but he realized he’d never- “Oh my love. I am so sorry. So sorry for anytime that made you feel as if you didn’t deserve me. It’s always been me that didn’t deserve you.”

 

He felt more than he heard the disgruntled noise Crowley made.

 

Aziraphale waited in silence until Crowley finally looked up and their eyes met. Living fire encapsulating the soul of the being he loved more than anything. There was so much pain in them.

 

“It doesn’t matter, Crowley.” Aziraphale watched Crowley’s eyebrows raise in confusion before he continued. “It doesn’t matter who is more deserving, though we could argue it out for at least a millenia I’m sure. I’ve chosen you. You’ve chosen me. There is no one more right for either of us.”

 

Aziraphale rested his forehead on Crowley’s. “I am yours, my heart. And you are mine. And there’s no one who deserves my love more, nor who I would give it to. And you’re not going to take that away from me, are you?”

 

“Promise I won’t do it again, angel.” Crowley’s voice was a whisper. “Love you.”

 

Aziraphale smiled as he brought their lips together. Crowley groaned softly as their lips met and Aziraphale’s arms pulled him closer. When the kiss broke, Crowley curled into Aziraphale’s arms, both content that they were exactly where they were meant to be.