I wanna get you back again
Crowley was hunting. Prowling through the stone streets of Sura, he followed the pulses of metaphysical light towards where the angel had to be. That prancing ass had actually discorporated him back in Memphis. He’d just gotten Menes installed on the Double Throne and the city had been thronged with soldiers and noblemen and celebrating women and good wine—especially good wine—when the angel had caught him coming out of a temple.
“This is going to be too important to let you influence it,” he’d explained almost apologetically, but that hadn’t stopped the bastard from slipping the blessed bronze knife between his ribs while he’d still been trying to sober up. It had taken ages to explain that one to Resources enough to get a new corporation. When he’d gotten back topside the first thing he’d done was start asking around, and he’d followed rumor and his own sense of the tendrils of the Divine the angel left in his wake to this little Jewish burg in Babylon of all places. Apparently there was a teacher at the yeshiva that kept adding little non-canonical anecdotes and giving all the rabbi headaches. Crowley thought he could probably help them out with that.
The evening was warm, and though the lamps were already being lit it was pleasant enough to be out on the street and every window was open. The people of this quarter were simple and content, honest and kind. The angel had to be here somewhere, close. ‘Where are you,’ he thought, sifting through the chaff of humans for that aura of goodness. 'Come on you bastard, where are you?’ Crowley ducked past a set of women drawing water from a well and around a corner to find, sure enough, a tavern where a lot of old men where gathered, drinking and arguing. ‘Gotcha,’ he thought, and caught a serving girl’s elbow.
“I want...” what was the prick calling himself these days? “I want Rav Azir Afa’il, do you know him?” The girl nodded, not even bothering to try to outshout the crowd inside, and pointed to a younger figure near the back wall sitting hunched over a scroll. Crowley smiled and pressed a silver coin into her hand.
It wasn’t hard to slip through the crowd, and the din would have made good cover if Aziraphale had been paying enough attention for Crowley to need it. As it was, he managed to slide onto the bench beside the angel before he even looked up. It was a shame, almost, to wreck this body. It had soft-looking curls and exceptionally long eyelashes. Pretty, really, in an unkempt sort of way. He leaned close to whisper “Hello, angel,” directly in Aziraphale’s ear, enjoying the way he startled back.
Before Aziraphale could move any more, Crowley ducked down and bit his neck, opening tiny wounds to pour his venom through. The angel’s eyes went wide with shock and pain but the paralytics kept him still as his heart slowed and then stopped. Crowley watched until the angel was gone and then let the corpse’s head lean on the table as though he were merely drunk. “Good to see you again,” he told it, stroking the dark hair just because he could. “Until next time.”
I want you to remember
After Hypatia’s death, all Crowley had been able to think was ‘I want to see Aziraphale.’ He’d raced through the city that still stank of smoke—might always smell of burning books and blood--until he'd found the angel standing soot-smeared in front of the burning library. For a brief moment, Crowley felt like the silent figure limned in fire was the only stable point in a world that was spinning out of control all around him. Then he had remembered that he didn't technically need to breathe and smoke inhalation didn't have to leave his body drunk on its own poisons. He'd dragged Aziraphale, numb and stumbling, into the first inn they'd found open to get drunk on better things.
“I taught her geometry, you know, when she was a girl,” Aziraphale said over his third cup of raw honeywine. “She was brilliant, I don’t care what Cyril says. He never should have allowed the mob to get out of hand like that."
“That, uh, might be on me. Though really Orestes hates Cyril anyway, its not like it was difficult to convince him not to make up.” Crowley passed his fingers through the tiny flame of the candle on their table. “Damn shame about the books though.”
Aziraphale threw down his cup. “How could they? There were things in there that didn't exist anywhere else in the world. Human works, Crowley, utterly utterly lost. She didn’t deign to cry over much but that would have done the trick.”
Both of them stared into the flame. Crowley picked up Aziraphale's cup and poured them both another drink. Far away, a bell was ringing.
“Do you remember the Woman? Eve, I mean? You talked to her at least a little, with the sword bit and everything,” Crowley said eventually. Aziraphale nodded with the precision of one who is starting to see double. "She reminded me of her, sometimes. Hypatia did."
“Darker skin with Eve,” Aziraphale murmured, still watching the candle. “Not quite so tall.”
“But the same need to know. The same sharpness around the eyes, maybe.” There wasn't anyone else on the planet that remembered the shape of Eve's eyes, Crowley thought suddenly. Maybe not in Heaven or Hell either, for that matter--most of their types wouldn't have thought it important enough to notice in the first place, much less remember. Aziraphale blinked somewhat blearily at his cup.
“Mm... Yes, I can see what you mean. I think Eve would have been proud of her, though. Dont you?
"You know, angel, I really do."
I want you on my side
The problem was, he didn't think the angel could actually do it. It was all well and good to say "Oh don't worry, I'll take care of your temptation in Rome while I'm there to Inspire our new saint, save you the trip, old boy," but it wasn't exactly the sort of thing that'd be within the angel's usual job description, was it? At least Crowley remembered what it was like, being an angel. You didn't forget how it went. Aziraphale had no experience with tempting.
So he'd followed him. Just a bit. It wouldn't do to leave the job undone and let Hell think he wasn't meeting his quotas.
Aziraphale had stopped in just outside the city proper to chat with a peasant girl who seemed remarkably unsurprised, in Crowley's considered opinion, by the light show. Usually they screamed at least a little, but this girl had just dreamily kept on gathering her herbs and nodding occasionally until Aziraphale was done. Rather anticlimactic, that.
Then Aziraphale had tucked away his wings, turned down the heavenly glow to something a bit less obtrusive and ambled up the road into the city. He'd smiled gently at a boy casually edging closer to the baker's stall, and chatted amiably with the baker to keep him facing the other way while the boy pocketed a half-dozen rolls.
He cheerfully greeted a girl just showing the first roundness of pregnancy, who kissed his cheek and introduced her husband--a man pushing seventy if he was a day--and also her husband's handsome apprentice. The boy said something to his master and then walked off; the old man was apparently lecturing Aziraphale sternly about something or other, pointing offendedly at a nearby building. Aziraphale had actually winked at the girl, and made shooing motions in the direction of the apprentice while the old man's back was turned.
He sighed with a middle aged woman at a stall holding bolts of brightly colored silks she clearly couldn't afford. Aziraphale pointed out the beautiful dyed patterns of this one and the careful embroidery that one showed, the fine texturing of a third, and the woman's whole posture spoke of want and regret. Aziraphale comforted the woman, patting her shoulder consolingly and pointed out where cheaper fabrics could be had.
He'd caused a big man with a heavy wooden paddle to trip into a pile of manure as he chased a painfully thin little boy through the square, and called just enough attention to it that the crowd of laughing people blocked out the child's escape. The boy raced past Aziraphale and Crowley both, panting a giggle that couldn't tell if it was terror or relief.
Crowley frankly was impressed as hell. The angel didn't just tempt people into committing sins, he made people feel good about it. Crowley couldn't help imagining for just a moment what Aziraphale might be like if he were a demon. He wouldn't be obvious about it, not like most of them--he was human enough as an angel. Probably not even particularly sinister, just that cheerful, sympathetic face and soft gentle hands and "where's the harm, after all?" in that low voice... Humanity wouldn't stand a chance. The two of them, working together, now then they could make some real trouble.
It'd be a bit boring though, with nothing to balance their wiles. And Aziraphale would hate it.
Aziraphale was leaning against the wall when Crowley turned the next corner, obviously waiting for him. "Did I meet with your approval?" he asked archly.
Crowley allowed himself a slow, satisfied smirk. "You'll do."
I want you to trouble me
"Did you do this?" the voice was mild, almost a monotone. Aziraphale was leaning haggard and hollow-eyed in the doorway of Crowley's rented lodging. He looked thin enough to be flirting with gaunt and Crowley had a sudden vibrant sense-memory of sharing honeycakes with the angel in Constantinople. Somewhere in the streets below someone was bellowing curses in Spanish.
"I got a commendation for it. Personal congratulations from our Most Dread and Terrible Lord." Crowley tried to sound at least marginally pleased with himself. Or failing that just to sit up. This was less straightforward than it might be--he'd been drunk for ten days running and didn't see any reason not to continue the trend indefinitely. Over the unmade bed sunbeams caught the haze of smoke that never seemed to fully leave Barcelona. Crowley closed his eyes.
From a few feet away there was the quiet thud of the door falling closed, and the barely audible path of footsteps drawing closer to the bed.
"Did you do this?" Crowley moved enough to drape one arm over his eyes to block out the rest of the sunlight. "I sat with one of the girls they've hauled in today. She was fifteen, and she had a two month old baby. I convinced them that allowing her to nurse him one last time might convince her to recant. Do you want to know where she is right now, Crowley?"
"Please don't." The words forced themselves out unbidden. Crowley hated that the angel had come here and couldn't stand the thought that he might leave. The thin mattress shifted as another weight settled on the edge of the bed.
"Did you do this?" Barely a whisper in the still stale air.
A heavier breath and sound of the blanket bunching up as Aziraphale leaned back to rest his head on the wall. "That's all right then."
I want you to believe in me
Of course Aziraphale had gone to Germany. Never mind how much he loved London, never mind politics or the war or even basic safety, damn him. "Someone has to at least try to help," he'd said, standing on the train station platform. He'd been watching Crowley carefully, like he was looking for something Crowley couldn't guess at behind his eyes. "Stay out of trouble, my dear, as best you can," he'd said and Crowley had shaken his hand and only thought very briefly about pulling him back from the train's doorway by force.
That had been only a few years ago--'38 perhaps?--but it had been a long five years. Crowley had had his hands full, right enough, especially once the Americans had started showing up, but it didn't stop him from staggering into his darkened flat at the end of the day and wishing he could share a drink with someone who might have a ghost of a chance of understanding.
He'd almost laughed out loud when he heard what they were calling their newest horrorshow. Operation Gomorrah. Well, they never had learned any humility, he had to give humans credit for that much. Sir Charles Portal had sat back in his chair calm as anything and outlined the strategic destruction of German cities like it was plans for tea. The meeting had continued for hours, luckily needing very little egging on indeed from Crowley who found himself badly distracted.
When the meeting dispersed, he borrowed a pen and a scrap of paper and jotted a quick note. He wrote it in the old Indus script even if translating the name of the city was a bit of a puzzle, because it wouldn't do to have prying eyes intercepting his message, and what it said was this: "Hamburg is awful this time of year. I have reservations at the Ritz for July 24. Come home?" He put the scrap of paper into the case of a carrier pigeon and spared a minor miracle to be sure that it would reach Aziraphale safely and in time. And then he hoped.
Three weeks passed. The firestorm killed some 40,000 people and reduced the city to little more than ash and rubble. Crowley watched the newsreels religiously, but found no sign one way or the other of the angel's presence. He supposed one more charred corpse wouldn't cause comment, and who knew when the angel would get himself sorted upstairs and get back to his post. Crowley took out the electricity in the theater's entire block out of sheer pique.
Then the pigeon finally returned--and it actually carried a reply. In the Mayan language awkwardly transliterated into cuneiform script, the note read, "Gone to Denmark. Will have to miss lunch, dear. Next time its on me. -A"
Flowers bloomed riotously all over London for weeks.
I wanted you to linger
By the time Aziraphale was finishing the last few bites of Crowley's Mille- Feuille at the Ledbury, it was barely ten o'clock. The restaurant was fairly quiet, starting to wind down for the evening, but Crowley couldn't say he was in a hurry to get up. The food had been delicious and he was nursing the last quarter-glass of a very good Chateau-Chalon. The candlelight was catching on the laugh lines at the corner of Aziraphale's eyes.
"I think they're moving to the country," Aziraphale said, rolling the stem of his glass between his fingers. "Said they were going to get a little bungalow and retire. Ought to be good for them both, I should think." Crowley shrugged, but was interrupted by the arrival of the server bringing their check. He handed the folio back to her with his signature and finished the last of his wine. "I suppose we ought to be going," Aziraphale said, looking disappointedly after the girl. She'd been limping almost imperceptably all evening, but suddenly seemed to feel steadier as she walked away.
"You could come back to my place," Crowley offered, smirking at Aziraphale to make him blush. He wrapped his long coat around himself and watched as Aziraphale fussed with his scarf.
"Perhaps I will," Aziraphale mumbled, attempting haughty incomprehension and failing miserably. Crowley hid a genuine smile in the collar of his coat. "You did say you were going to show me the travesty the Americans have made of the Game of Thrones novels. What was it now--the flickering net, you were telling me just the other day--"
"Netflix, angel," Crowley laughed. "It was netflix." The wind was biting cold outside already, though they'd yet to see snow this year. It wouldn't be long now. The pavement sparkled under the streetlights as they walked back to where they'd parked the Bentley.
"That's the one." Aziraphale blew on his fingers and then tucked them in his pockets. Crowley turned the heat on as soon as they'd gotten into the car--it never occurred to him to wait for the engine to warm up, and the Bentley obliged by immediately pouring warm air over the seats regardless. The drive was short--shorter given how Crowley liked to take it, Aziraphale only had to scream for him to avoid one drunk pedestrian and a stray dog, a new personal record for him--and they arrived at the flat quite quickly.
Crowley glared the lift into working and swiped the key-card to open up flat. Aziraphale puttered over to the bank of windows where Crowley kept the plants, looking to see how they'd grown since the last time he'd come over, telling them all how beautiful they were. Crowley tried to take off his coat in a suitably intimidating manner to counterbalance the attention, but given the way the plants were unfurling new little tendrils of green even as he watched it probably wasn't working. They always did rather fawn over Aziraphale. Terrible for discipline.
"Go make some tea while I set up," he called from the doorway. "And stop spoiling my ferns." Aziraphale laughed, but wandered towards the kitchen anyway. It always surprised Crowley how much more comfortable his sparse little flat felt with ugly tartan scarves draped over the back of his couch and the companionable whistle of a kettle he hadn't set to warm. He settled back against the white leather and started poking at one of the six remote controls his media center required. Jon Snow wasn't going to betray himself.
Aziraphale, predictably, hated it. He'd looked away primly at four different shots of bare breasts in the first episode alone. By the time Daeneris was leading the Unsullied out of their slavery the teapot was empty and Aziraphale had blatantly stolen the crossword out of Crowley's copy of the Times. Crowley rested his head on the arm of the couch and let his eyelids go heavy as the faint scritching of Aziraphale's pencil and breathing that wasn't his own lulled him to sleep.