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Crowley will never admit it, but he loves these buildings.

He doubts Aziraphale came up with them. They are too grand for the likes of Aziraphale, and as much as Crowley would hate to admit this second thing too, he does not think cathedrals are too grand for Aziraphale because he holds Aziraphale any grudge. It has been… amazingly difficult to get properly worked up at Aziraphale, after this whole apocalypse business.

That is entirely beside the point. Cathedrals. Cathedrals are too grand for Aziraphale to have thought of them. Aziraphale went in for the early churches -- Peter's Basilica, the Hagia Sophia, that sort of thing. The Sistine Chapel has Aziraphale written all over it, in the line of God's pointing finger and the angels in unabashedly pink robes that line the walls. Michelangelo was Aziraphale's sort of human, or perhaps Aziraphale was Michelangelo's sort of angel, back in the day when all parties agreed that a bit of extra fat was aesthetically delightful. Crowley'd had a bit of difficulty during the Renaissance, at least until he met da Vinci. But that is neither here nor there, and Leonardo was always more interested in flying contraptions than cathedrals. Which are Crowley's point.

Cathedrals are too grand for Aziraphale to have thought of them. This has been established. Cathedrals are too cruel for Aziraphale to have thought of them. They are high cold harsh places, and sometimes Crowley suspects that they are not the work of divine inspiration. High cold harsh places, with their dark wood paneling and flying roofs and statues carved in the sort of stern relief that Michelangelo or even da Vinci would never have shaped from stone and called human -- these beautiful horrible creations are nearly demonically constructed. The statues that sit in judgment do not offer salvation. They stand in their secure niches, divine, and cry out, down, down, you are unworthy. You have betrayed. Do not question; choose. Choose and be right or you shall fall --

Crowley always catches himself then, when his cathedral-thoughts go in such a way. Then there is no point to the thinking, and he has to floor the Bentley and come to a screeching halt in front of Aziraphale's bookshop, leap out and demand Aziraphale come to the Ritz with him.

There are times when Crowley is glad for so many years among humanity, and finds himself simultaneously hating it. What would it be, he wonders idly, staring into his wine glass, if he had stayed in Hell? If a different agent was stationed on Earth? He would be stuck in a tiny, hot office bureaucracy, never even dreaming the scope of the world. Never even dreaming of dreams. Never have to think, never have to know, and never learn those human tricks, either, narrowing his mind down again so that he remembers what he wants to because the world is more satisfyingly dealt with in that fashion.

That is why it is usually easy enough to avoid thinking of cathedrals. Aesthetically nice, Crowley supposes, but not the sort of architecture the human he pretends to be would appreciate. That should be chrome and steel and strange designs that look as though they are hiding electronic gadgets. The irony, Crowley thinks with some amusement, is that Aziraphale actually knows more about computers than he does. At least Crowley will always triumph when it comes to the ansaphone.

Aziraphale.

It's comfortable, more or less, even after all this time. Aziraphale's a fixture, or had been, but for Go -- for Sa -- for someone's sake, they'd been about to die. There hadn't really been any doubt before, but they have now admitted aloud that they like each other. Demons keep their word when they mean it. Of course it has been understood for a very long time that their respective sides are just sides, that Crowley just happened to land what is arguably the more enjoyable job, that -- Crowley will never ever say this -- perhaps Aziraphale might have done a better job on the losing side, if he'd been given to sauntering that day. But they have yet a different understanding now, that those sides are probably just two on the same coin and someone Up There is just seeing how everything works out. Crowley doesn't think about that too hard, either. It makes him feel like a chess piece. Perhaps a pawn that accidentally made it to the other side of the board and is suddenly important without meaning to be, and still looking exactly the same.

Crowley has never been angry that he Fell.

Aziraphale takes him to a cathedral a few months after the not-apocalypse. Crowley does not really want to go, because all the thoughts that he is able to run from over the years are back, insistent as the staring eyes on cathedral statues, and he feels a slight painful cold ache somewhere in his head from the knowing that things are somehow different, while remaining exactly the same.

He wants out of the cathedral.

He wants an apple, really.

Crowley takes Aziraphale to an open-air market, and Aziraphale looks longingly at the hot candied things that are beginning to be sold in the midst of the perfectly crisp-cold autumn. (Adam's doing, Crowley suspects.) But he takes Aziraphale's corduroy elbow and pulls him on past, until they reach a produce stand. He offers Aziraphale an apple, one of the crisp little autumn yellow ones.

"My dear," Aziraphale murmurs reproachfully, as though he can tell exactly what Crowley is thinking. He takes the apple, and slips it in the pocket of Crowley's jacket, his hand warm against Crowley's side for a moment. Then he goes on down the market and buys bread, and they end up in St. James' Park, as though this is a day precisely like any other and the world might end tomorrow.

Crowley wants to cry and can't figure out what in Hell or Heaven or Earth has come over him. "I don't like cathedrals," he tells Aziraphale, thick in his throat, and is far too glad for his sunglasses, though the sky is slate-coloured and the water of the ducks' pond reflected steel and rippling with waves.

"My dear," Aziraphale says again, twice in one day, and Crowley has to turn away and find a park bench. His foot turns oddly, and it is only the very second time in his entire existence that he looses his balance.

Aziraphale catches his coat sleeve. It rips.

Crowley fixes it with a glare, and slither-scrambles back to his feet, and goes to hunch himself on a park bench. Damn everything back to that high cold place and all those staring judgments. He didn't do anything wrong. He didn't do anything right. The little apple is still in his pocket.

"I'm sorry you feel out of sorts today," Aziraphale says, sitting down next to him. He is wearing a tartan scarf, and his cheeks have gone English-pink in the cold. British poof, Crowley wants to call him, just to see the surprised look on his face, the confusion and slight hurt and vague denial. But Crowley says nothing, and is horrified when Aziraphale adds, "It does rather take you back, doesn't it?"

"Fuck off," Crowley snarls, and takes the apple out of his pocket, tosses it idly between his hands.

"My dear," Aziraphale murmurs, for the third time, and takes the apple from him.

Don't, Crowley wants to say. Don't do it. But there is nothing to do, but feel out of sorts, disjointed and slightly askew from the world, and watch as Aziraphale absently eats the apple, the world's hundred millionth apple, symbolic of nothing at all. Crowley wonders if maybe this is what going crazy is like. All this has never bothered him before. He'd like to think it's Aziraphale's fault.

"Crowley," Aziraphale says softly, and waits until Crowley looks up reluctantly. There is none of the usual vague, bookshop owner look on his face. He is what he is, and they both know it. "I don't know if I can give you what you want."

"That's two of us," Crowley mumbles.

Somewhere a church bell tolls the hour. Aziraphale takes Crowley's hand. Warm, pudgy, immaculately manicured Aziraphale hand. They return to Aziraphale's bookshop. The Bentley is out in front like it presumes it belongs there. And Aziraphale has only illuminated manuscripts inside, and dust, and the old computer from far too many years ago, and a feeling of coziness in the back room. Aziraphale does not bring them alcohol today, but tea, so quaintly English. He does not sit in judgment.

Crowley drinks Aziraphale's tea and forgets he ever fell.