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'Tis the Damn Season

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The train rocked gently back and forth, jostling Crowley slightly. Not that he noticed. No, his eyes rested somewhere in the middle distance, lost to a train of a different kind. He felt heavy. Not his weight though, nobody could accuse his form of being anything other than lanky. It was his soul that felt heavy, weighed down by poor choices and lost chances, a lifetime of doing the wrong thing. And so he let the train carry him wherever it wished. He had no destination in mind, nowhere to be. No one waiting for him. Not anymore.

He sighed and closed his eyes, dropping his head back against the cold window behind him. He really had nobody to blame but himself for this whole mess. He was always too impulsive, always jumping without looking, and it once again had left him falling. Just once, he would like for there to be someone there to catch him. But no, he couldn’t put this on anyone else. He had made the decision to get that reservation, he had led him out onto the terrace as snow fell around him. He had dropped to one knee and pulled out that box. The ring sat heavy in his pocket, a reminder of his failure. He let out another loud sigh.

“My dear, are you alright?”

Crowley opened his eyes and straightened his head to see a man sitting across from him. Crowley blinked and looked around, realizing they were the only ones in this particular car. How long had he been sitting here? He looked back to the man. A book sat open in his lap, and his blue eyes were regarding him with some concern. They were kind eyes.

“Um, yeah, I’m fine,” he lied, like the filthy liar he was.

A blonde brow rose delicately up his forehead. “Are you sure?”

Crowley swallowed. What the hell, why not be honest? He didn’t know this man, even if he was a particular brand of handsome, so what did he care if he judged him? “No, not really. I- I don’t know.”

The man closed the book on his lap and slid it into an expensive looking leather bag beside him before turning his now undivided attention back to Crowley. “Would you like to talk about it?”

Crowley fidgeted slightly, uncomfortable with the gentle look he was receiving. “I doubt you want to hear about some stranger’s problems.”

A small smile pulled at his lips, and oh, he was quite pretty. “Hmm, I suppose you’re right. Well, my name is Aziraphale. Yours?”

“Um, Crowley.”

“Crowley,” he said warmly. “Well, now we aren’t strangers, are we?”

Crowley couldn’t help the small chuckled that bubbled up inside him. “I guess not.”

“So? What seems to be the issue causing so many heavy sighs.”

He chewed his lip, his hand fiddling with the ring box in his pocket. “I proposed to someone tonight.”

Aziraphale’s face lit up. “Oh, how wonderful!”

“They said no.”

He deflated, a look of deep compassion taking over his features. “Oh, my dear, I’m terribly sorry.”

Crowley shook his head. “Don’t be. It… I should never have asked him. What we had, it wasn’t really love. I thought maybe it could be, but it wasn’t until I was down on one knee and waiting for an answer that I realized what I wanted the answer to be. It’s not a good sign to be relieved at a rejection, is it?”

Aziraphale hummed. “No, I suppose not. How long had you been together?”

“Nearly a year. Not that long, really. Not long enough to decide to be with him for the rest of my life.”

“Then why did you ask him?”

Shame and sorrow cut through Crowley’s heart. That was really the question, wasn’t it? He bit back a sharp, angry response. This man, Aziraphale, didn’t deserve that. He was only being kind.

“I guess I got scared. I turned thirty-five and suddenly the prospect of being alone loomed before me. I thought that if I could tie someone down to me, it didn’t really matter if they were the right person or if it felt more like shackles. It was better than the alternative.”

Crowley suddenly realized what he had said, the brutal honestly feeling like a seeping crack in his soul that he was spilling all over this random person. He was being too much again, always too much. But when he looked up and met Aziraphale’s eyes, he didn’t look uncomfortable or disgusted. He just looked sad and more than a little understanding.

“I can empathize with the feeling.”

Crowley glanced at him through his lashes. “Yeah?”

He nodded, a small smile gracing his face once more. “I was in my last relationship for two years. I thought I wanted to marry him, to build a life with him. But really, I just wanted someone, anyone, to share the burden with. And he wasn’t the right one. But I believe there’s someone out there for everyone. Your other half, if you will.”

Crowley let out a long breath, looking back down at the bulge in his jacket where the ring sat. “I used to think I believed it, but now I’m not so sure.”

Aziraphale tilted his head. “Oh, don’t give up on love so easily. Just because he wasn’t right doesn’t mean the next one won’t be either.”

He sighed and reached up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “It just gets so tiring. The games and apps and constant worries. Is it so much to just want someone to come home to that actually wants to be around me? Am I asking for too much when I want someone who looks at me and actually sees me?”

Aziraphale shook his head. “No, I don’t think you are.”

“Well, you seem to be the only one. And of course I picked Christmas Eve to ask him. Wanted it to be special. A night to remember. I guess I’ve always had a flare for the dramatic, always need to do the big thing. Stupid.”

“No,” Aziraphale said firmly. “That isn’t stupid. That sound positively wonderful, if you ask me. If I were ever proposed to in such a spectacular manner, I would be delighted.”

Crowley snorted. “Too bad I didn’t ask you then, huh?”

He chuckled. “I suppose so. But I wouldn’t want someone to ask me unless they were completely certain that I was the one they wanted forever. It wouldn’t be fair, otherwise.”

He nodded. “I know. I’m not mad at him, not at all. I get why he said no. I’m glad he did. Someone had to see sense out of the two of us, and it was never going to be me. It’s just hard, this time of year. I hate being lonely.”

A moment of silence stretched between them as the train rattled on, the fluorescent lights flickering across Aziraphale’s face as he watched him. He had no idea why Aziraphale was looking at him so earnestly, like what Crowley said mattered and held weight, and wasn’t just the rambling nonsense of a lonely and desperate man. When Aziraphale spoke, his voice was soft and delicate, floating in the space between then in the empty train car.

“What will you do now?”

Crowley heaved a great sigh and shrugged. “I’ll do what I always do. Probably get massively drunk for a couple of nights, then just move on with it. Focus on work, avoid thinking about it.”

Aziraphale looked unsure. “That can’t be healthy.”

He barked out a laugh without much humor. “No, probably not. But I haven’t figured out a better way of coping. Have you?”

Aziraphale bit his lip. “Ah, no, actually I haven’t. Many nights have been spent alone in the backroom of my shop, dwindling down my wine reserves.”

Crowley waved a hand. “See. Alcohols solves all problems.”

“Yes, except the problems are all still there in the morning. You can’t be drunk all the time.”

“That,” Crowley said, pointing a finger at him, “is not the spirit. I’m sure I could manage being drunk for a great long while if I wanted.”

At this Aziraphale chuckled. “Oh, I have no doubt my dear. You don’t seem like the type of person to be deterred by such things as science practicality.”

Crowley grinned. “See, you’re already starting to know me.”

Aziraphale hummed. “You are a bit of an open book.”

He swept a hand down the length of his body. “That’s me, an open book. Might as well take me home and put me on the shelf with the rest of yours.”

He thought he heard Aziraphale inhale a quiet gasp, but that could just be his imagination. Although, he was now staring at him with wide eyes and slightly parted lips.

“Wouldn’t that be something?”

There was another stretch of silence, and for some reason, Crowley had the sudden desire to cross the space between them. To sit beside him instead of across from him. Perhaps it was the way Aziraphale was looking at him, or the way he listened without wanting anything in return. He forced himself to speak first, to break the quiet that threatened to drown him if it carried on too long.

“Well, I guess I’ll get an early start on the drinking tonight. Won’t be the first Christmas I’ve spent alone.”

Aziraphale frowned, and it looked like he was debating something in his head. “Would you like to join me?”

Crowley blinked and looked up at him, sure he had heard him wrong. Strangers didn’t just invite random people from the Tube to join them on Christmas eve. Especially not when they looked like Aziraphale.

“What?”

Now Aziraphale looked a bit embarrassed. “Er, well, I asked if you wanted to join me. If you have nothing else, that is. It won’t be anything special or very fun for you probably. You look very stylish and, well, I was just going to drop these off.” He motioned towards several bags beneath his seat that Crowley hadn’t noticed before, too lost in his own world.

“What are those?”

“Gifts. I own a bookshop, you see, and every year I put up a little tree that’s decorated with cards. And families in need can come and write down what things they want or need, and just leave the card on the tree. That way they don’t feel like they’re asking for charity. And I always try to help as many as I can. I’ve been doing it all day, and these are the last of them. Of course, now that I’m saying it out loud, I’m realizing that you probably don’t want to wander around in the cold with me—”

“I do.”

Aziraphale looked up with wide eyes. “Really?”

Crowley nodded, a slow smile lighting up his face. “Yeah, I do. That sounds great.”

A light flush traveled up Aziraphale’s neck, and Crowley tracked it with his eyes. “Oh, wonderful! That’s ever so kind of you.”

Crowley grinned. “Not kind. That descriptor has to go to you, angel.”

Now Aziraphale was definitely pink, but he still wore a shy smile. “Oh, hush. Nobody should be alone on Christmas Eve if they don’t want to be.” The train rattled to a stop. “Ah, this is our stop then.”

“Oh, right.” He glanced up at the screen that told him he was on the other side of the city from where he actually lived. Oh well, didn’t matter. He stood and walked over to pick up half the bags.

“Oh, no, you don’t have to do that! I can’t ask you to carry my things.”

Crowley gave him a look. “You’re crazy if you think I’m just going to watch you carry all of these while I do nothing.”

Aziraphale glanced down timidly, still smiling. “Oh, fine then.”

He picked up the rest of the bags and they exited the train, making their way up to the top. The night air was cold, and the streets were mostly empty. At nearly ten thirty on Christmas eve, most people were tucked away inside their warm houses. Crowley found he was glad he wasn’t. They walked close together, their arms bumping into each other every now and then. Neither tried to move away from the other.

“This is the first one,” Aziraphale said quietly, nodding up to a complex of flats.

He moved up the steps and pressed the button for the correct number, and a moment later a voice answered.

“Hello, is this Miriam? Yes, hello, this is Mr. Fell, from A.Z. Fell’s bookshop. So sorry to come by so late, you’re one of my last stops of the day. Yes, alright, see you in a moment.”

Crowley watched as he stepped away from the speaker box and turned to smile down at him. The light over his head lit up his blond curls, and in that moment, it almost seemed as if he had a halo. Crowley felt his breath catch in his chest. He tried his best to return the smile, but he was sure it looked a bit wobbly. Before Aziraphale could comment on it though, the door opened, and a young woman stepped out. She wore a thin jacket that didn’t look near warm enough to protect against the cold.

“Oh, Mr. Fell, thank you! You don’t know how much this will help us.”

Aziraphale smiled warmly at her. “It’s no trouble my dear. I only do what I can to help.”

The woman looked on the verge of tears. “But you do so much. You don’t know what this means to me.”

Aziraphale handed over the bag to her and then pulled her into an embrace. “Think nothing of it. All of us need help sometimes, I know I do. Just give your children a happy holiday.”

She nodded tearfully. “I will.” She looked down to Crowley and he immediately felt uncomfortable and unworthy of the gratitude directed at him. “Thank you, both of you. Bless you and your partner.”

Crowley flushed at the insinuation and considered correcting her, but she was already turning and making her way back in out of the cold. When Aziraphale turned back to him, he was smiling happily.

“Such a lovely woman. She works three jobs, you know. All to send her children to the best school possible.”

They fell into step again as they made their way down the street. “Wow, that’s incredible. Do you know everyone who you deliver gifts to?”

“Not always personally, no. But I do read the card they leave me. People often feel as though they need to explain to me why they need the help, and if it helps them feel better about accepting it, I’m glad to read what they have to say.”

Crowley couldn’t help but stare at him as they walked. “I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone like you before.”

Aziraphale glanced at him out of the corner of his eye, his cheeks bitten pink by the cold. “I hope that’s a good thing.”

Crowley nodded slowly, almost feeling in a daze. “Yeah, yeah it’s a really good thing. You’re practically an angel.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that. I think most people want to help.”

“You’d be surprised. The holidays can bring out the worst in some people.”

“That’s true. That’s why I try my best to add some cheer.”

“Well, thank you for inviting me. This is way better than moping on my sofa, feeling sorry for myself.”

Aziraphale smirked. “Well, if you’re really set on feeling sorry for yourself, we might have a little time left at the end of the night.”

Crowley threw his head back and laughed, the sound manifesting into a mist that swirled away into the night. An hour ago, he wouldn’t have thought it possible for him to laugh again so soon.

“How generous of you, really.”

Aziraphale looked very proud of himself. “Yes, that’s me. Generous to a fault.”

“Mmm, I don’t doubt that for a second.”

They continued on to more homes, handing off large bags filled with any number of things to those who had asked for them. In one bag Crowley was able to catch a glimpse of thick winter jackets, and in another he saw what looked like new, unopened toys. It seemed that whatever these people who reached out to him needed, Aziraphale had done his best to accommodate. It must have cost him quite a lot of money. He mentioned this fact, after their fourth stop.

“Ah, yes, it can get pricey. Most of the money does come out of my personal saving, but I have helpers. My dear friend Anathema always pitches in, and my shop neighbor Tracy does what she can. It really is a group effort.”

“Yeah, but it seems like you do most of it.”

Aziraphale shrugged. “I suppose. But it’s no trouble. I love doing it. Sometimes people just need the smallest amount of help to know things will get better, and if I can give that to them, well. There’s nothing better, really.”

Crowley found that he was lost for words. Where had Aziraphale come from? He was starting to think he was literally a guardian angel, dropped right down onto his path to help him in his time of need. When he said this out loud, Aziraphale laughed loudly into the cold night air. His eye crinkled in a certain way when he laughed that did something to Crowley’s insides. Made them all warm and fuzzy, despite the biting cold.

“No, I can assure you I did not descend from heaven. I think sometimes life just puts you right where you were supposed to be and sets you down the path you are needed on, even if it looks bad at the time.”

Crowley frowned as he considered this. Could that be true? Could every shitty thing that had happened to him have led him right here, to this moment? If David had said yes, he wouldn’t be here right now. He would likely be back at his flat, panicking about his life choices.

“You’re a very optimistic person.”

He hummed. “I suppose so. I think life is better that way, if you’re always looking on the up.”

“Eh, but then you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. If you only ever think things are going to be good and go your way, everything will seem like a failure.”

“I don’t think that’s true. It’s not that I think everything will always be perfect and go my way. It’s just that I know that even if things seem bad, eventually things will get better. I’ll win some and lose some. If I were pessimistic, I think I would miss out on so many lovely opportunities.”

Crowley raised an eyebrow. “Oh yeah? Like what?”

“Well,” he said slowly, glancing at him out of the corner of his eye. “Like this. Being here with you.”

He frowned. “How do you mean?”

Aziraphale seemed hesitant, his bottom lip tucking between his teeth. Crowley watched the little movement, that same thing from earlier stirring in his chest.

“Well, if you must know, I debated with myself for several minutes on the train over whether or not I should talk to you. You seemed so down, but I was sure that somebody who looked like you wouldn’t want to talk to someone like me.”

Crowley scrunched up his face. “Is that an insult? What do you mean someone like me?”

“Oh, no, it’s not an insult to you!” Aziraphale rushed to say. “It’s just, you looked the type of person to go to posh pubs and dance to loud music and have so many friends. People like you aren’t usually friends with frumpy booksellers.”

Crowley considered this as they trekked up the street. “Are we friends then?”

Aziraphale glanced at him quickly before looking away. “Oh, well, I wouldn’t want to presume. We have just met, after all. But I think we could be, if you like.”

Crowley smiled, feeling his heart lift. “I would like that.”

They both snuck glances at each other, mirroring smiles lighting up their features. Crowley suddenly felt like a schoolboy, embarrassed at the attention from his first crush. Which was preposterous. He was thirty-five years old, and Aziraphale had to be close in age. Yet he couldn’t shake the feeling that this was something new and exciting, different from anything else he had ever experienced. Maybe he was just being fanciful again and getting his hopes up, but if the way Aziraphale was looking at him was any indication, he didn’t think so.

“Ah, here is our last stop,” he said, motioning to another grey walled building.

Aziraphale placed the call, and after the grateful man had come and retrieved his gifts with a hug and repeated thanks before running back inside, the two of them stood awkwardly on the sidewalk together. Now that the task at hand was finished, would Aziraphale wish to bid him farewell? Were his services no longer needed? Aziraphale seemed just as unsure as he looked down to check his watch.

“Ah, well, it’s just after eleven thirty. Quite late, with Christmas being tomorrow.”

Crowley swallowed and nodded, taking this as a dismissal. “Yeah, right. You probably want to be getting home.”

“Oh, well, actually,” he said slowly, and Crowley felt hope rise in his chest.

“Yeah?”

“It’s just, after all that exercise, I’m feeling quite peckish. I know of a wonderful little diner that runs all night, and it’s not too far. You could join me, if you don’t have any other plans?”

Crowley smirked. “You know full well that I don’t, angel.”

He flushed again at the name. “Oh, well then, shall we?”

Crowley swept an arm out. “Lead the way.”

Twenty minutes later they found themselves seated across from each other in a cozy diner. They were the only ones there, seeing as it was now approaching midnight. Crowley felt warm and content as he wrapped his hands around the cup of hot coffee in front of him and let his eyes flick up to Aziraphale. He had ordered a hot cocoa and was stirring in the whipped cream with a pleased little smile. He had never considered another grown man to be adorable, but that was really the only way to describe him. His blue eyes glanced up to him once he was finished.

“So, my dear, what do you do for a living?”

“Oh, I’m actually a lawyer for a large firm here in the city.”

Aziraphale’s eyebrows rose up his forehead. “Oh my, that sounds quite important.”

He shrugged. “Nah, not really. There are plenty more just like me.”

“But still, that’s a very posh profession. A far cry from a bookseller like me.”

Crowley frowned. “Aziraphale, if what we did tonight is any indication of how you live, I can safely say that you’re doing more important work than I ever have.”

Color returned to Aziraphale’s cheeks, and this time he couldn’t blame it on the cold. He looked down at his mug of cocoa.

“I don’t know about that.”

“It’s true!” he insisted. “The only reason I became an attorney was for the money. And what has that left me with?”

Aziraphale took a sip of his drink. “Well, that looks like a very nice coat.”

Crowley snorted. “Yeah, sure. Nice coat, nice car, nice flat. Nobody to share any of that with.”

Aziraphale ran his thumb along the rim of his mug, his head tilted to the side slightly and a tiny crease between his brows. “You’re sharing this, with me, right now.”

Crowley smiled. “That’s true. This is nice. More than I’ve had in a long time, even when I was in a relationship.”

“What, you and your last partner didn’t go to dinner together?”

“No, we did. We went on plenty of work dinners together, plenty of upscale restaurants that were appropriately documented on Instagram. But…” Crowley let out a breath. “We never just talked. He never seemed super interested in hearing what I had to say if it didn’t confirm what he already believed. I didn’t realize until tonight just how much I needed this.”

Aziraphale was smiling gently at him now. “I’m glad I could give you this. I’ve had a lovely time as well. I feel happier than I have in quite a long time, actually.”

Crowley lit up, something like hope blooming in his chest. He wasn’t sure what exactly it was he was hoping for, but it was there just the same.

“Yeah?”

“Mhmm.”

“Good. Me too, angel.”

Just then the waitress brought Aziraphale the pie he had ordered, and their attention was diverted.

“Oh, thank you my dear!”

Crowley watched as Aziraphale wiggled in his seat, his eyes alight with pure joy as he looked down at the dessert. He picked up his fork and cut into it before sliding it into his mouth. Crowley’s heart thudded in his chest when he heard the practically sinful sound he made.

“Oh, my dear, do want a taste?” he asked, blinking innocently and licking his pink lips.

“Ngk.”

“Sorry, what?”

Crowley swallowed and hoped any color on his face was hidden as he dipped his head down.

“Uh, no, no I’m good. You enjoy.”

“Hmm, alright, if you insist. It’s positively yummy.”

“You look it.”

“What was that?”

He coughed. “I said it looks it.”

Aziraphale nodded happily. “It is.”

They settled into a silence as he ate. Crowley did his best to not stare, but frankly it was a challenge.

“So, um, Aziraphale, any siblings?” It was a weak question, but currently most of his blood was flowing a place that was not his brain.

“Oh, uh, yes. One brother and one sister. But we, well, we don’t speak much anymore.”

He titled his head. “No?”

“No. They don’t agree with my lifestyle.”

Crowley pinched his lips together. “I see. Religious?”

Aziraphale nodded, a sad expression taking over his face. Crowley desperately wanted to make it go away.

“Very. But I suspect I’m not the first queer person to experience such things.”

“No, but that doesn’t make it right. Well, they don’t know what they’re missing. I’ve only known you a single night and I already think you’re one of the best people I’ve ever met.”

He thought he saw Aziraphale’s bottom lip quiver slightly, and his eyes had gone wide and misty. “Oh, oh my dear, thank you. That’s so lovely of you to say.”

He shrugged, embarrassed, and looked down at his coffee. “No big deal.”

“Oh, but it is. That means a lot to me. If it makes you feel any better, I can already tell that you’re one of the kindest people I’ve ever met as well.”

He scrunched up his face. “I’m not kind.”

Aziraphale gave him a pointed look. “My dear, you agreed to walk around in the cold on Christmas Eve delivering presents to people in need with someone you just met.”

Crowley grumbled into his coffee. “Only so I wouldn’t be bored at home.”

Aziraphale gave him a knowing smile. “Of course.”

In that moment, Crowley felt like he was being seen. For the first time in God knew how long, someone was looking at him like they could really know him. Which was preposterous, because Aziraphale didn’t know him at all. You couldn’t know someone in a single night. Except… except he already felt like he knew more about Aziraphale than he ever had with David. He knew that he owned a bookshop and had a strong predilection for Oscar Wilde. He knew he loved the holidays and went out of his way to make them better for others. He spent his own money on gift for those he didn’t even know, just so they would have one less burden. He befriended his shop neighbors and didn’t believe in the occult, but allowed those who did to practice on him anyways. He preferred his coco with five marshmallows and a heap of whipped cream and moaned like a harlot when he ate dessert. And he was absolutely the most beautiful person he had ever met.

Crowley felt like something was shifting inside him then, and it both terrified and exhilarated him. Like he was racing towards a drop off he wouldn’t be able to come back from. He realized he had been staring for far too long, and Aziraphale had begun to look at him with some concern.

“Are you alrighty, Crowley?”

“I’m… yeah, I’m great. Perfect, actually.”

Aziraphale seemed to hear something in his voice, or perhaps see something in his face, that made his eyes go unbearably soft.

“Oh, good. Me too.”

Aziraphale finished his pie, and Crowley realized their night was going to have to come to an end. He really, really, didn’t want to. Aziraphale too seemed to be slow in scraping up the bits of crust left on his plate, even though he had eaten the first half so enthusiastically. An idea came to Crowley then.

“Angel, will you come with me?”

Aziraphale frowned and tilted his head. “Come where?”

“It’s a surprise.”

Light danced in his blue eyes. “Oh? And will I like this surprise?”

“Well, I hope so. That’s sort of the point.”

Aziraphale bit his lip, only a moment of apprehension, before he broke into a wide grin. “Alright. I don’t see why not.”

Crowley tossed some notes onto the table for their drinks and food and stood, holding out a hand to help Aziraphale up. He took it with a shy smile, and Crowley didn’t drop his hand as he led him outside. He was miraculously able to hail a cab. Even in the car their hands sat entwined, neither trying to pull away, and it sent a thrill through Crowley’s body. He didn’t miss the way Aziraphale continued to cast curious glances at him out of the corner of his eye.

The night flew by outside, and it felt a thousand miles away from where they were. The warmth of the cab seemed to create a cocoon around them. Very slowly, Aziraphale’s thumb began to caress the back of Crowley’s hand, and another thrill went through him. He turned his eyes to the angel beside him and saw that he was watching him with a small smile.

“Is this alright?”

Not sure if his voice would work right now, he just nodded and squeezed his hand tighter.

“Good.”

Yes, Crowley thought. This was good. The cab finally stopped at their destination and Crowley climbed out, pulling Aziraphale after him. Aziraphale looked up at the tall building and frowned.

“Crowley, where are we?”

“This is my building.”

Aziraphale’s eyes shot back to him, now wide. “I- Crowley- I don’t know if—”

Crowley broke into laughter. “Relax, angel. I didn’t bring you here to seduce you.”

He could be wrong, but he thought he saw a bit of disappointment flash across his face.

“Oh, right. Then why are we here?”

“Just trust me, ok?”

He realized what a big ask this was, given they had just met, but was immensely relieved when Aziraphale nodded. He led him into the building and to the lift, where he hit the button for the top floor. They were no longer holding hands, but Aziraphale was standing quite close and he could feel the warmth of him through his jacket. Once the lift doors opened, he led him out and to another door, which he pushed open for him.

“More stairs?” he asked, looking through the door.

Crowley gave him a pointed look and he sighed, then began to ascend the steps. Once at the top, Crowley placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

“Are you ready?”

Aziraphale chuckled. “My dear, I’m not sure what I should be ready for. But yes, I am.”

Crowley grinned, and then pushed the door open. Aziraphale let out a small gasp as he stepped out onto the landing of the roof.

“Oh, Crowley, what is this?”

Hundreds of white twinkles lights glittered from poles set along the railing, lighting the whole space in a magical white glow. There were two space heaters pushed against the railing as well, which Crowley went to now and turned on. Aziraphale joined him at the railing, looking out on the lights of the sleeping city.

“I set this up a few weeks ago as a surprise for David. When I showed it to him, he said it was too cold and he didn’t see the point in looking at a bunch of buildings.”

Aziraphale pursed his lips. “Excuse me if this is out of line, but he seems like an arse.”

Crowley laugh. “Yeah, he could be.”

“Well, I think it’s spectacular and beautiful. Thank you for showing it to me.”

“Course, angel. You deserve beautiful things.”

He inhaled sharply and turned to look at him. “Do you think so?”

“I know so.”

There was a moment of silence as Aziraphale stared up at him. “You’re beautiful, my dear.”

Crowley’s heart kicked into overdrive, pounding out a beat within his chest. “Ngk. I- yeah, so are you.”

Aziraphale’s eyes twinkled as he reached out and took his hand back in his. “Is it horrible to say that I’m glad your ex turned down your proposal?

He barked out a laugh. “No, I’m glad too. Wouldn’t have met you otherwise.”

“No, I suppose not. Although, who knows. Maybe we still would have, just in a different way. Maybe you would have stumbled into my shop on a rainy afternoon, or maybe we would have bumped into each other at a coffee shop. The world has a way of making those things happen. It’s all rather ineffable.”

“Ineffable, huh?”

“Mhmm.”

Crowley chuckled, letting his eyes roam down Aziraphale’s figure before frowning. “Wait, angel, didn’t you have a leather bag with you? The one with your book. Did you forget it at the dinner?”

Aziraphale flushed and looked away, pressing his lips together. “Oh, ah, no I didn’t. I actually, um, well I gave it away.”

Crowley’s mouth fell open. “You what?”

“I gave it away! It’s just, they had asked for a new bag to carry their things in and I completely forgot to buy one. So I said ‘Here you go, don’t thank me’. She was expecting and it’s cold out here, she might need to carry things for her baby!”

Crowley continued to stare at him opened mouthed. “Angel… can I kiss you?”

The worried look fell away from Aziraphale’s face and was replaced by shock. “What?”

“Look, I’m going to level with you here. I’ve never met someone like you before and I think you’re literally one of the best people on this plant. Seriously, who just gives away their own things on a whim like that? And I’m finding you incredibly attractive, more and more by the second in fact, and I would really like to kiss you right now.”

Aziraphale swallowed, his eyes darting to Crowley’s lips. “Oh, um, well. Will tonight be the last night I see you?”

Crowley’s heart sank. Did Aziraphale just want a fling? “If that’s what you want.”

“It’s not,” Aziraphale said quietly. “This might sound crazy, but I think you are quite wonderful, and I would love to see you again. And I’m worried that if I kiss you, that won’t happen.”

Crowley’s heart softened. Oh, what a sweet angel. He lifted a hand to cradle his cheek gently. “Aziraphale, I would like nothing more than to see you again if you’ll let me. And we don’t have to kiss if you don’t want to.”

Aziraphale stared at him with wide eyes, and then leaned forward to press their lips together. Crowley responded readily, opening his mouth and pulling him closer by his jacket. Aziraphale tasted like coco and pie, just as he had thought he would. One of Aziraphale’s hands slid up to tangle in his hair and Crowley moaned into the kiss, responding with a nip to his bottom lip. The warmth of their mingled breath misted the cold air around them and heated their chilled faces. Aziraphale pressed closer, his tongue sliding along Crowley’s bottom lip. Fuck, if they continued like this, Crowley wasn’t going to be able to resist asking him to come back down to his place with him. He pulled out of the kiss but kept their faces close together. Aziraphale kept his eyes closed, his breathing heavy. When he spoke, his voice sounded a bit hoarse.

“Crowley, I need to know. Is this just a rebound?”

He ran his thumb over his cheekbone, waiting until Aziraphale opened his eyes and looked at him to answer.

“I hope this doesn’t scare you away, but honestly it sort of feels like everyone before now was just filling space until I found you.”

Oh,” he breathed. “Yes, it does feel a bit like that, doesn’t it?”

Crowley nodded. So it wasn’t just him feeling this inexplicable connection then? Aziraphale sensed it as well. They turned back to look at the city, this time keeping their hands intertwined.

“Merry Christmas, angel.”

He smiled up at him. “Merry Christmas, Crowley.”

They stood there for several minutes, just looking out on the sleeping city and enjoying the comfort of their arms pressed together. When Crowley spoke, there was laughter in his voice.

“You wouldn’t happen to want to marry me, would you?”

Aziraphale looked at him sharply with wide eyes, then lightly smacked his shoulder when he saw the sly grin.

“Oh, stop it.”

Crowley shrugged, tightening his grip on his hand. “That’s alright. There’s always New Year’s Eve.”