Crowley couldn’t help but laugh as he watched Aziraphale scurry about, double-checking the already perfectly smooth tablecloth and wiping a small smudge off a cup. If the demon was perfectly honest, it was more ‘cute’ than productive. He watched the angel set the plate stand in the middle of the table, the tiny china plates laden with far more sweets than was traditional. Heavily iced petit fours, biscuits, macaroons, and scones showcased a sugar lover’s paradise, if not eventual diabetes. Of course, there were sandwiches, though the traditional watercress was replaced with fatty deli meat. Perhaps it was the influence of the Angel of Eden’s lengthy stay in England that made him so ardent that this particular afternoon tea had to be perfect, but Castiel had insisted it wasn’t necessary. Dean Winchester would be willing to eat almost anything you put in front of him, provided it wasn’t twitching or overly healthy. Jokingly, Crowley had suggested Aziraphale try his hand at making miniature double-bacon cheeseburgers, but even he had to concede that American food rarely fit in a refined setting.
“How does it look?” Aziraphale asked.
“Lovely,” Crowley responded. “I didn’t know the royal family would be joining us. Want some small plates for Her Majesty’s corgis?”
The angel huffed. “Can you please take this seriously?”
“You could be taking them to Nandos, and they’d be just as happy,” Crowley said, pushing away from the bookcase he’d been lounging against. “But if you’re going to make a fuss about it,” he stepped beside the angel and pointed at a place setting, “there’s a speck of something on that saucer right there.”
“Oh!” Aziraphale moved around the table and carefully polished the little piece of china. “Thank you, dear.”
“No problem,” he said, donning his glasses, giving a little wave and casually sauntering to the back of the bookshop. “Let me know when it’s over.”
“Crowley,” Aziraphale sighed.
Presented with the choice of ‘stop Armageddon’ or ‘have afternoon tea with one of the most dangerous supernatural hunters in the world,’ Crowley knew which was less suicidal. Preventing the end of the world seemed like a lazy Sunday afternoon by comparison. But as noon drew near and Aziraphale set down the clotted cream and sugar, Crowley had to admit that, if he thought about it, insanity was his life now. He was living with an angel, the world wasn’t going to end, Heaven and Hell were staying far, far away, and now, he was going to have a civilized afternoon with a man who’s very name made even Hastur go weak in the knees.
It had been something of a surprise to Crowley that Aziraphale kept in touch with any of his family- extended or removed- at all. After Notmageddon, Crowley had believed Aziraphale was completely cut off from the heavenly host. But one afternoon, as he joined the angel for tea, he noted Aziraphel seemed to be brighter than usual. His whole body was radiating joy, and he was holding a letter in his hand with such care, Crowley had though the angel had received a summons from the queen to examine the contents of the Buckingham palace library. After the tea was poured, Crowley got the full story: Aziraphale’s cousin was getting married.
“What, in heaven?” Crowley asked, taking the letter. “Didn’t think you’d be allowed back after our Freaky Friday stunt.”
“On Earth,” Aziraphale explained. “I’ve been told it’s going to be a small ceremony. Oh!” He paused in thought. “I never introduced you to Castiel, did I?”
“Nope,” Crowley replied. “Thought it was best, given your lot’s tendency to drench in holy water first, ask questions later.”
“Oh… right,” Aziraphale winced. “Well, he’s the Angel of Thursday.”
“Well… for a short while, he was a little… on the somber side,” Aziraphale admitted. “But we kept in touch over the years. Very intelligent, if a little…”
“Still learning to blend in with humanity?” Crowley offered.
“He’s gotten better. And he’s made some lovely friends. I’m hoping we can get him and his fiancée to come for a visit before the ceremony. Might be a challenge…”
“What, the future husband is afraid of flying?” Crowley chortled.
“Well, yes, actually, “Aziraphale conceded, “but my cousin resides in a different universe than our own. He’s actually stopped the end of the world multiple times.”
Crowley exhaled. He could barely handle stopping the end of the world once, let alone know it as a common occurrence. “Hate to live there… Would I know anyone in those parts?”
“Oh,” Aziraphale thought, “Crossroads demons, mostly.”
Crowley’s forked tongue shot out in a gesture of disgust. While the details of it were enough to make even the most dedicated astrophysicist throw their hands up and proclaim “fuck everything, I’m out,” it boiled down to this simple fact: Heaven and Hell existed across every universe the Lord had made. Angels and demons knew of and could, if they wanted to make the effort, communicate with others of their kind within these universes, but Aziraphale was the only one to do so. Most angels didn’t bother and most demons didn’t want to acknowledge that other demons existed, let alone be penpals with them.
Crowley knew of the universe Aziraphale was referring to. Crossroads demons, in Crowley’s mind, were the lowest of the low on Hell’s food chain. He’d give credit to those who went after souls that actually deserved to burn, but he knew a fair lot of them tricked their targets. He’d even heard of a few who went after kids! Even Hastur and Ligur, in all their twisted ways, wouldn’t think of something so vile. If anything, they might even cheer Crowley on as he dropped holy water on them with a Pipette Dropper, their only concession to the “demons don’t turn on each” other rule.
“There was a fellow named Crowley in his universe,” said Aziraphale. “Don’t believe he was in Eden, though. Became the King of Hell.”
Crowley huffed. “As if Hell would have a king.”
Aziraphale considered this. “I’d have thought Lucifer-”
“Exactly!” Crowley snapped. “You think demons are gonna listen to anyone who wasn’t the first person to give the Almighty the middle finger?”
Aziraphale looked aghast at such a suggestion. Crowley shrugged. “I saw it. Wasn’t pretty afterwards. So…” Crowley stretched and picked up his teacup. “This cousin of yours, who’s the lucky hubby-to-be?”
“Oh! Fellow with a rifle name,” Aziraphale said. “Remington…. Mannlicher…” His eyes scrolled down the letter.. “Ah! Dean.”
“There are no rifles named ‘Dean,’ angel.”
“Dean is his first name. Surname ... ah! I was right! Dean Winchester.”
Crowley spat his tea across the bookshop.
It was 8 pm in Lebanon, Kansas when the letter arrived. Castiel smiled when he saw it on his bed, his name inscribed in Aziraphale’s meticulous handwriting. He knew Aziraphale would be… “tickled pink” by the news, but the letter’s sudden appearance made Castiel think his cousin was getting a little carried away. Sure enough, its contents made Aziraphale’s intentions perfectly clear.
It was an exceptionally tempting offer. Castiel had to wonder if Aziraphale’s… He couldn’t say ‘friend,’ they were absolutely something more, but Aziraphale was not about to make the first move, and the demon, Crowley, was only fooling himself. But he wondered if Crowley had something to do with the unexpected invitation. Still, he wasn’t likely to get an offer like this again anytime soon, and he did want to see Aziraphale… He straightened his shoulders. No point in not asking.
He made his way through the halls of the bunker they called home until the war room came into view. His son, Jack, was next to Dean’s brother, Sam, examining an article on his laptop. Meanwhile, Dean poured over an old lore book. Well, he was pouring himself a shot of whiskey over the book. Reading wasn’t one of Dean’s favourite activities.
Dean’s proposal to Castiel had been one of the most casual in the world. Not in the sense of “hey, let’s get married today,” but in the comfortable nature of two souls who knew each other well enough to just need a special moment alone. It had been in the war room of the bunker, just after dinner. Sam and Jack had cleared away the takeout boxes, and Cas had been regarding some notes from their latest hunt. Dean had been watching him, his hand fiddling with the tiny item he had in his pocket. He cleared his throat.
“Hey, Cas?” he said softly. The angel had looked up at him, meeting his gaze as the hunter stood up and walked to the other side of the table. Dean’s hands had trembled as he pulled something from his pocket and showed it to him.
“I’m sorry it’s not nicer,” he said, letting Castiel see the silver band and the tiny sapphire set in the middle. “I thought about every way this could go. Putting up ‘Will you marry me, Cas’ on the jumbotron at a ball game or something stupid like putting it in a glass of champagne… but that’s not us… and... I thought…” He looked away from Cas, certain he’d screwed up. “You don’t-“
Castiel’s hand enclosed around Dean’s, trapping the ring between their palms. He saw the smile and the tears in the angel’s eyes. Nothing else needed to be said. Dean slid the ring on Cas’ finger and they kissed. From the other side of the bunker, Sam and Jack had cheered.
Now, as Castiel entered the room, Dean’s eyes locked with his, and a smile blooming on his lips. Castiel smiled back as he fiddled with the letter and cleared his throat.
“Dean,” he said, drawing everyone’s attention. He tentatively held up the letter. “I have some good news.”
Dean’s smile widened. “Kansas is gonna perform at the reception?”
Sam rolled his eyes. He’d tried to explain the logistics of having a famous rock band perform at a wedding reception that would have, at max twenty people, but Dean’s imagination knew no bounds. At least he’d conceded to not have the wedding in Vegas.
Castiel shook his head. “My cousin has invited you and I to come for a visit.”
The expressions of the faces staring back at him seemed to be a mix of excitement, confusion and curiosity, depending on interpretation.
“You have a cousin?” Dean asked. “Okay, explanation needed.”
“Technically, he’s a cousin in another universe,” Castiel began. “Heaven knows no bounds and does expand its reach across multiple universes and dimensions. Due to this, all members of the heavenly host are related to some extent. It is similar to humans depending upon how one reads their genetic-”
“Okay, I see,” Dean said, cutting off the angel before he started into an hour-long explanation of angelic genealogy. “And he lives in another universe?”
Castiel nodded. “One not directly parallel to our own, but very similar. The biggest difference is that in his universe, the Anti-Christ would be an actual child and the end of the world would come from him, not the battle between Michael and Lucifer.”
After a long moment, Sam and Dean nodded in unison, though Sam was clearly holding back his questions.
“Okay,” Dean said. “So, who’s this cousin?”
“Gesundheit.” Dean laughed at his own joke before seeing the stern look on his fiancée’s face. He cleared his throat. “Sorry.”
“Aziraphale. In the universe he occupies, he has resided on earth for the past six thousand years. Originally, the Lord made him the Guardian of the Eastern Gate of the Garden of Eden,” Castiel paused, knowing Sam’s curiosity was already firing thousands of questions into his brain. “In his universe, it was an actual location,” Castiel said explained. “To ours, it was lost to time. Most scholars are incorrect on its actual location-”
“Okay,” Dean cut Cas off yet again.“So, what’s he been up to all this time?”
“Running a bookshop in Soho, London,” Castiel said. “His universe’s geography is identical to our own in most respects.”
“So, Lebanon, Kansas exists in his world, but we don’t,” Sam offered. Castiel nodded as an approving teacher might, glad the younger Winchester was following along.
“So, are you two gonna visit him?” Jack asked.
“Him and his… friend,” Castiel said, carefully considering his words. “They’ve offered to have us over for tea.”
Dean snorted, picturing Castiel and himself in fine suits with white gloves and speaking in accents he only ever heard on Downton Abbey-- not that Dean would ever admit to watching Downton Abbey.
Sam gave an exasperated sigh. “Having tea is like having lunch, Dean. But how are you guys gonna get there.”
“Woah, woah,” Dean stepped in. “We haven’t decided if we’re going yet.”
“Yeah, you are,” Sam said, looking at Dean with a ‘you gotta get used to meeting the in-laws at some point’ look and noting the fear usually reserved for spiders and airplanes.
“Well,” Dean said, crossing his arms. “We don’t know his cousin’s schedule.”
“It’s exceedingly flexible,” Castiel said. “He runs his bookshop at obscure hours on purpose.”
Dean shuffled. “How would we get there?”
“His power exceeds mine,” Castiel explained, moving close to Dean. “He’d be able to open a portal for us.”
“Dean,” Castiel took his hand. “You don’t need to be nervous about meeting him.” He smiled at the pinkness creeping into Dean’s cheeks. “If anything… Aziraphale and I share the title of… ‘odd ducks’ in the family.”
Castiel’s tone erased some of the tension in Dean’s body. The one that admitted something Castiel didn’t want to give detail on. The one Dean used whenever his childhood came up and he inevitably recalled the violent shouting matches between Dad and Sam.
“What did he do?” Dean asked.
“Stopped the end of the world when all of Heaven wanted the apocalypse.”
Dean perked up slightly. So Cas and his cousin DID have a lot in common. Well, if he’d prevented the end of the world, he couldn’t be that bad.
“However,” Castiel paused. He looked at Dean, flicking a glance to Sam and Jack, and then back. “There is… something we need to talk about before we go.”
Dean’s mouth twisted and the tension in his shoulders shot back into place. He took a seat and prepared himself for the bombshell, watching the angel’s brows furrow as he tried to figure out how he was going to explain this one.
Aziraphale lit the final candle as the clock chimed noon, stretching his fingers in preparation. “Perfect. Now to-”
He looked over his shoulder, finding the bookshop eerily quiet. He huffed. “Dear, come out!”
“Not until I know he’s unarmed!” Crowley called from the back of the shop.
“I told you,” Aziraphale sighed, “Castiel explained everything to him, you’re perfectly safe.”
“A demon? Perfectly safe with one of the Winchester brothers?” A pair of glowing yellow eyes poked out from behind a bookshelf. “Do you have any idea what ‘Winchester’ means to a demon? If you have one of those boys going after you, might as well walk right into a church on Easter and scream ‘hail Satan’ while flinging communion wafers into the pews, cause it’s only a matter of time from there on out!”
Aziraphale blinked. “Has a demon ever done that?”
“Slight exaggeration, but it’s the same level of terror,” Crowley said.
“You’re being ridiculous.” Aziraphale chidded.
“You know the kind of reputation it takes to strike terror into the hearts of demons across dimensions? Even your lot don’t get that level of respect!”
“He’s not going to hurt you, now come out!” Aziraphale said, trying to be assertive, but still coming across as adorable. Crowley stuck his forked tongue out at the angel before slowly coming out of hiding and up to his side.
“Thank you,” Aziraphale said. “You don’t have to be scared.”
Crowley straightened his shoulders. “I’m not scared, I’m practical! On any other occasion, if Dean Winchester and I went into a room together, only one of us would come out.”
“I’m sure it wouldn’t come to that.”
Behind his glasses, Crowley rolled his eyes. He’d been lucky enough that most of the demon hunters he’d met were either incompetent to the point where they posed as much threat as a drunk mouse or so intelligent they knew Crowley wasn’t worth the effort. Still, he’d heard about the few times a competent hunter had caught a demon and tortured said demon into submission. Didn’t sound fun.
“Oh, one last thing,” the angel began, “ the glasses-”
“Stay on, I know,” Crowley finished. He caught Aziraphale’s look. “If anything, that smarmy fucker stole my look.”
“Language,” Aziraphale hissed.
“Language,” Crowley mocked under his breath, watching as the angel started the ritual.
The soft glow from the candlelight slowly began to rise up, forming together in one grand ball of light that began to expand. Crowley shifted his weight, considering if his snake form might be the better approach. Would be more intimidating, sure, but he could get away faster if need be. Aziraphale reached over and took his hand.
“I won’t let anything happen to you,” he said, patting the demon’s hand comfortingly and giving it a reassuring squeeze.
A moment later, the glow subsided and two figures stood before them.
“Castiel!” Aziraphale came forward, embracing his cousin warmly. “So wonderful to see you! My darling boy, look at you! Doing well I hope! How are you eating? Was the trip difficult for you in any way? I read this spell might be a little easier to handle than others.”
Aziraphale didn’t notice his cousin grabbing his fiancée’s arm to keep him from fleeing. Eventually, Cas returned the hug.
“It is good to see you, Aziraphale. How have you been?”
“Oh, perfectly well. Heaven has, thankfully, decided we’re to be left alone, so aside from the occasional purchaser who comes into the shop, all is well.” The angel turned his eyes to Dean. “And here he is!”
The angel came over and embraced Dean, catching him completely by surprise. “Congratulations, my dear boy! Castiel has told me so much about you! All you’ve endured, you poor dear! I could barely get my head around saving the earth once, let alone multiple times. Is your brother well? You weren’t affected by the spell at all, were you? I wanted to make the trip as comfortable as possible!”
It was a good minute or so before Aziraphale released Dean from the hug that the hunter was able to get a word in. “Yeah, uh, the, uh, the trip was fine. Thanks for inviting us, Azi.”
“Azi!” The angel laughed. “That is something. I’ll have to remember that. Castiel did mention your pet names.”
Both Dean and Castiel blushed. Castiel glanced at Dean with a look that said It’ll get better, just let him have this. Dean swallowed and nodded. Truth be told, on first glance, despite his… well, bookworm-like attire, the only reading Dean could get off Aziraphale was… happiness. The angel seemed like a genuine guy. True, Dean had only known him for five seconds, but he had a good read on people.
“Oh, where are my manners?” Aziraphale turned back. “This is my-”
“Crowley,” Crowley introduced himself, stepping forward and offering his hand to Castiel. “Cheers, mate! Word is, this was overdue.”
Castiel shook the demon’s hand and gave him a tight smile, “It was a long time coming, yes.”
The older Winchester bristled at the sight of Cas shaking hands with a demon, but the tension in the bookshop flared as Crowley and Dean locked eyes with each other. Both angels held their breath. Yes, they had been quite clear. No weapons. No magic. Just a pleasant afternoon. But the Winchester reputation was far grander than Aziraphale had expected and Castiel knew how Dean felt about 99.99% of demons. The .01% went out to their universe’s version of Crowley… on a very good day. Both men took a deep breath and approached each other. Dean held out his hand.
“Dean Winchester,” he said.
Crowley took his hand. “I’ve heard. Pleasure’s mine,” He said in a tone that very much suggested otherwise. “Nice flannel.”
The handshake was tighter than necessary, but it broke after Aziraphale cleared his throat.
“Shall we?” he asked, gesturing to the table.
At the sight of the extensive spread, Dean felt the twinge in his heart… and his stomach, really, as everything looked great, but in this case, he knew he had to be polite.
“Azi, you didn’t have to go through all this,” he said.
“Told you,” Crowley said, sing-songy and under his breath.
“Oh! No,” Aziraphale said. “No trouble at all, my dear boy. It’s been so long since I’ve seen Castiel, I thought, why not make an occasion of it? Have a seat, please,” the angel said, carefully moving the chair out for Dean to sit in. Crowley’s rolled his eyes.
Dean gave the angel a grateful nod and sat beside Castiel, his eyes catching a glimpse of something through the shop window. He took a long look before giving a little whistle.“Nice.”
“What?” Crowley asked
Dean pointed out the window. “Nice car.”
Crowley looked over his shoulder at the Bentley parked outside. “Oh yeah, she is.”
Dean blinked, watching the demon take a few petit fours off the tea stand and set them on his plate. Crowley shrugged. “Yeah, she’s mine, don’t make a scene.”
Dean raised an eyebrow as Aziraphale returned with the teapot and began pouring everyone a cup. “When did you get her?”
“1926,” Crowley said, adding a slice of lemon and two sugars to his tea. “Fresh off the line.”
“She looks good,” Dean mused. “What’s she run on?”
“Queen and demonic wills,” he said simply, the way others might say “petrol,” “unleaded,” or “I have no idea, the doors barely stay on.”
The corners of Dean’s mouth twitched upward. “First or second album?”
“All of them, but I’m partial to A Night at The Opera and A Day At The Races,” Crowley replied.
Dean nodded. “Tapes or CDs?”
“Prefer tapes but I got a CD player installed in the 90’s.” He jerked his head back at the car. “She’s been through a lot. A month ago, you wouldn’t have recognized her.”
“Wall of fire around the M25 and all that,” Aziraphale said, settling himself down. “I’ve heard tell our version of Armageddon was a little more…”
“Old Testament in nature?” Castiel offered, adding honey to his tea.
“Peculiar,” Aziraphale responded. “You never mentioned anything about aliens or Atlantis.”
“Woah, woah,” Dean interrupted, eyes lighting up. “You guys got aliens with your apocalypse?!”
“And Atlantis,” Crowley followed up, clearly gloating. He knew Dean Winchester’s presence had to be handled with extreme caution, but his demonic nature couldn’t help but prod the man. Just a little.
“It’s not a competition,” Aziraphale said pointedly at Crowley, adding cream and sugar to his own tea. Dean, who could count the number of times he’d had hot tea on one hand and the number of times he’d enjoyed it on less than that, had observed everyone’s actions upon obtaining their cup and opted to simply try it as it was. After all, how different from coffee could it be? He braced himself and took a sip. Swallowing, he blinked down at the cup.
“This… this is pretty good,” he said in a tone more surprised than he knew Castiel would have liked. But Aziraphale seemed relieved.
“Oh, good! Castiel hasn’t been clear on your favourite tea, so I was concerned.”
“Your lot drink coffee mostly, don’t they?” Crowley asked, innocent lilt in his voice. He caught Aziraphale’s look. “Americans, not demon hunters.” The popularization of coffee in the United States had been one of his better ideas and he was still getting residuals from Starbucks. Endless addiction and all the cake pops he could eat.
Dean took another sip.“For both cases, I’d say yes.”
“You could try substituting tea every now and then,” Castiel interjected.
“Cas,” Dean gave him a look.
“Your diet needs improvement,” Castiel argued. “You get plenty of exercise, but Heaven knows what state your arteries are in.”
“Awww, bickering already.” Crowley smirked, earning another glare from Dean. “You’d think you two had been married for years.”
Dean’s nostrils flared and Castiel gripped the hunter’s arm.
“Easy, easy there, tiger,” Crowley’s arms went up in a placating gesture. “Just teasing. That’s all. All in good fun.”
Dean settled back in his seat, his hands slowly unclenching themselves as they reached for more sandwiches and cookies. Castiel poured himself some more tea and topped off Dean’s, chuckling a little.
“What’s so funny?” Dean asked, starting into another sandwich.
“The amount you two have in common,” Castiel said. “Similar taste in music, the love of classic cars, the predilection to tease. Had you both known each other during your demon phase, I’d say you’d have given Lucifer a run for his money.” He sipped his tea carefully. Dean nearly choked.
“Cas!” Bringing up someone’s past experience as a demon wasn’t exactly commonplace in a “Hi, nice to meet you, I’m marrying your cousin” situation. Both Aziraphale and Crowley’s eyes snapped to Dean.
“You were a demon?” Aziraphale asked. “How did you manage to change back?”
It amused Dean that Aziraphale’s questions were more curious than horrified. As if he could just turn demonic on a whim. Dean took a swig of his tea and tried to ignore the burning sensation as he spoke.
“For a few months,” Dean explained, “I became a knight of Hell… It… almost led to another end of the world situation.” He looked at Cas. “Cas was there for me, helped keep me human.”
Castiel nodded and laid his hand on Dean’s.
Aziraphale made a soft noise. He always did adore stories of love overcoming adversity. “Love is the foil of many evils.”
“Oh, don’t start,” Crowley said, wanting to prevent Aziraphale from waxing poetic in front of them.
“It is,” Aziraphale said simply. “You and I are proof enough of that. You’re proof of it yourself.”
This caught Dean by surprise. “What?”
“Oh!” Aziraphale said. “Well… I should clarify, this wasn’t ‘evil’ so much as it was part of the Ineffable plan of the Almighty-
“No, no, no!” Crowley said. “Please don’t!” He was almost- ALMOST begging. Telling this story to anyone else was a joke, but here, it was humiliating.
“Well, he and I were at Noah’s Ark-“
Dean raised his eyebrows. “The actual Ark?”
“Oh, yes. Unicorns and all!”
Dean opened his mouth, but quickly snapped it shut. He didn’t want to spend the rest of their tea asking questions about unicorns. Besides, this story was clearly making the demon uncomfortable, so it was to his benefit to hear every detail.
“Well, I was informing him of the Almighty’s plan, and we were both distraught about it. Angry at humanity or not, drowning everyone just seemed…”
“Barbaric?” Crowley offered, head resting in his hands.
“Well,” Aziraphale continued. “I was on the Ark later, trying to comfort the unicorn who’s mate had taken off. Poor thing was so distraught! Suddenly, I heard a noise coming from the lower deck. As I went to take a look, I saw-”
“Two sets of each animal deciding they should start repopulating?” Dean offered, shoving a cookie into his mouth. He grunted as Cas’ elbow made contact with his side, followed by a reprimanding glare.
“No!” Aziraphale said brightly. “The village children!”
“Oh.” Dean said through a mouth full of cookie. “Well, yeah, there were kids on the ark.”
“No,” Aziraphale said. “Only Noah and his family were supposed to be on the ark. Everyone else...”
The tea and treats sturred uncomfortably in Dean’s stomach.
Aziraphale smiled at Crowley. “It was absolutely precious. He managed to get them all aboard. No one else noticed. He saved those little darlings.” Aziraphale laughed happily. “When we disembarked, I saw him sneaking them out the back. They all hugged him, called him an angel! It was so lovely!”
“It was annoying,” Crowley grumbled, though it was clearly forced.
Dean stared at the demon, his eyebrows furrowed and he seemed to be trying to look through Crowley’s sunglasses, as though he was picking apart an extremely difficult puzzle.
“Never heard of a demon saving kids before,” he murmured, more thoughtful than suspicious. Something about the way Aziraphale told the story, the way he looked at Crowley, Dean could see it all. Watching Crowley quietly gathering the children and getting them aboard before the doors closed and the rain began. Keeping them safe that whole time. He glanced at Cas, but the angel simply smiled and sipped his tea. Dean’s gaze went back to Crowley.
Crowley gulped down the contents of his teacup, which had miraculously turned into a very strong whiskey, and met Dean’s gaze. He reached up and lowered his sunglasses, watching the hunter bristle at the color.
“Because I couldn’t give a damn about the Divine plan.”
Both angels stiffened before looking at Dean.
Slowly, a small, genuine smile curled up Dean’s lips. He lifted his cup in Crowley’s direction.
“I’ll drink to that,” he said. “Never been a fan of the whole ‘divine plan-slash-big picture’ thing myself.”
“It’s a load of bollocks!” Crowley returned the gesture and the smile. Despite the uncertain looks from the angels, the hunter and the demon laughed .
“You might just be a bastard worth knowing after all,” Crowley said, snapping up a bottle of single malt. He poured a little into both his and Dean’s cups. Aziraphale bristled but said nothing.
“And you’re clearly not,” he looked at Cas, letting his voice drop just a touch, "as vile as most demons are." He looked back at the pair. "What's the craziest thing you've ever done?"
“Aside from dropping a bomb on a church to save him from Nazi spies?” Crowley asked, gesturing towards Aziraphale.
Dean waved his hand. “Kay, most ‘evil’ thing you’ve ever done.”
“Would have said the M-25, til that came back to bite me in the ass. Tough call between the boy bands of the 1990’s and convincing Apple to make wireless headphones. I take credit for Brexit, but that was really humanity.” He pointed a finger a Dean. “And let me be clear, I formed the bands only, the music was their doing and can burn rightly for it.”
Dean guffawed. “You are a sick son of a bitch!”
“I dabbled in Vegas in the 1950’s, but came back to London when the M25 was starting up.”
Aziraphale blinked, watching Crowley top off his glass. “I thought you said you were going to America for a holiday.”
“I was,” Crowley said, shrugging. “It just took longer than I thought, and Howard Hughes was a generous host. I invited you to come.”
“I was busy,” Aziraphale sniffed.
Dean smirked. “Now who’s the married couple?”
Crowley snorted at him, snatching up the last petit four Dean had been eyeing. Aziraphale sighed and rose from his seat, heading to the back of the shop before returning with more sweets.
It was late afternoon, the sky’s bright blue was just starting to show the tiniest hints of nightfall. The tea items had been cleared away and an empty bottle of wine and single malt scotch took their place. While the alcohol might have been a contributing factor, the conversation had become lighter and there was more laughter in the tiny shop. The topics had drifted from Dean’s brother to how Jack was doing to where Dean and Cas were thinking of having their honeymoon.
“I’ve tried to convince him on Spain, or possibly Japan,” Castiel said.
“Japan is lovely in the spring,” Aziraphale offered. “You could go to the cherry blossom festival in Nagasaki!”
“Only if Cas can pop us there and back,” Dean said. “I’m not getting on a 13-hour flight.”
“You saved the world at least seven times-- and your hubby is an angel-- a plane isn’t gonna do you in,” Crowley pointed out.
“I have my limits.”
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Crowley said, taking another swig of wine.
Aziraphale smiled. Under different circumstances, he though Dean and Crowley could have been good friends in this universe. He glanced at Castiel, who wore the same look of contentment.
“Oi!” Crowley snapped. “Come on, keep us in the loop.”
“I’ve said nothing,” Aziraphale said simply.
“You thought it!” Crowley said, starting to sound on the edge of tipsy. “Don’t go looking all soft. We don’t like each other! It’s a mutual agreement for our angels’ benefit.”
There was a pause followed by another burst of laughter. Aziraphale looked at the empty bottles and glasses. “I’ll clear these away, shall I? Would you like anything else, Dean?”
“Nah,” Dean smiled, “I’m good. Thanks.”
His cousin shook his head. “I’m alright.” He stood up. “Let me help you with these.”
“Oh, thank you!”
Dean and Crowley watched as the angels removed their after-tea indulgences and headed to the back of the shop.
“Ten bucks says they’re sighing with relief?” Dean offered.
“Oh, absolutely,” Crowley nodded. “Probably giving his blessing and all that. I suppose,” he stretched, “Since he is Cas’ cousin, I’m supposed to give you the, ‘hurt him and I’ll send hell after you’ speech now?”
Dean huffed. “I guess so.”
“Well,” Crowley began. “Hurt him and I’ll send hell after you… don’t know if that’s much of a threat for you, but you get it.”
Dean laughed softly. “I get it. I promise, I’ll take care of Cas.” He glanced towards the back of the shop, catching small glimpses of Cas and Aziraphale whispering to each other. “Honestly, aside from Cas, never thought I’d meet another angel who wasn’t a complete dick.”
“He’s a rare find,” Crowley said, following Dean’s gaze. Dean looked back. He could almost see the yearning radiating off the demon in waves. Sure, Cas had suggested they were more than just friends and clearly trying to get more into the open, but had they still not told each other yet?
“Six thousand years is a long time,” Dean mused.
“You have no idea,” Crowley said softly.
Dean’s pursed his lips. “So… I’m guessing you haven’t…”
Crowley’s eyes snapped back, but Dean cut him off, “It’s obvious,” he said. “And I know the feeling.”
The demon looked away, suddenly finding Aziraphale’s collection of 19th century religious cookbooks- all two of them- extremely fascinating. Dean whistled.
“And I thought Cas and I took forever.”
“Shut it!” Crowley snapped, trying to keep his voice low. “You know how it is! On two different sides, end of the world, worrying about Heaven and Hell! It’s only recently we’ve actually been… on our own and...”
Dean shrugged. “So? Just tell him now!”
“It’s not that simple.” Crowley sighed. “He’s a romantic.... It’s stupid and human… but I want it to be perfect.”
“Look,” he said, leaning forward to meet Crowley eye to eye. “As far as I can tell, how you tell the person rarely affects the outcome… unless it’s under extreme circumstances. And if I had to guess,” he jerked his chin towards the back of the shop. “I’d say your chances are pretty good.”
Crowley sat in thought for a moment. Eventually, he looked at Dean, who scoffed.
“At least let us leave first, dude. Don’t steal our thunder!”
“Well,” Aziraphale said, waving a hand to clean the tea items and restore them to their rightful place. “No arguments.”
“Or exorcisms. Or gunshots,” Castiel added. “I think we can call this a success.”
“Certainly!” Aziraphale smiled. “And he is truly wonderful, Castiel. I am so happy he asked.” He gave Castiel another hug. “You deserve this happiness.”
“As do you,” Castiel nodded, glancing back into the shop to see Crowley and Dean deep in conversation. “It’s clear how deeply he loves you.”
Castiel watched Aziraphale’s cheeks turn bright pink. “Oh… Well, we have been…” The angel stammered, “I’ve wanted to tell him but it never seemed to be the right…. What I mean is…”
Castiel laid his hand on his cousin’s shoulder. “It’ll happen. Trust me.” He smiled at Aziraphale’s flustered expression.
“Today was certainly lovely!” The Angel of Eden suddenly declared, changing the subject. “Why don’t we try to make this a regular event? You could bring Sam and Jack with you next time!”
Cas laughed. “I think Jack would like London. But with your combined love of books, I fear Sam might make Crowley jealous.”
“I’ll make sure he behaves himself,” Aziraphale responded. “No turning him into…. What did you say it was? An elk?”
“Moose,” Cas told him. “But a weekly lunch would be very nice... it would give everyone a nice rest from...” Castiel’s words trailed off, eyes regarding the books on Aziraphale’s shelves without actually looking at them.
Now it was Aziraphale who laid a comforting hand on Cas’ shoulder. “You have the most remarkable family, Castiel. All the good you have done…”
Cas smiled. They both knew Aziraphale couldn’t offer promises that all would be well. There was no guarantee of that for the Winchester family.
“May you always have each other,” Aziraphale said.
Castiel felt the blessing in his bones and smiled.
“And may you both always have each other,” he returned.
The angels embraced again and returned to the bookshop.
Dean and Crowley were still lounging at the empty table, but at the sight of Cas, Dean rose.
“Thinking we should head back,” Dean said. “Sam and Jack will start to wonder.”
“Oh, of course,” Aziraphale said, coming over to shake Dean’s hand. “It was such a pleasure to meet you, Dean. Castiel and I were discussing the possibility of this becoming a regular occurrence.”
Dean nodded. “I don’t see why not. So long as there are no objections.”
All eyes turned to Crowley, who simply shrugged. “Yeah, sure, why not. So long as he behaves himself.” He stuck his forked tongue at Dean who responded in kind.
“Wonderful!” Aziraphale clapped his hands. “Next week, same time?”
“Good by me,” Dean said, looking at Cas.
“I guess it’s a date,” Castiel said.
“And do bring Sam and Jack, as well,” Aziraphale said. “I can’t wait to meet them.”
“We will,” Castiel said, taking Dean’s hand, letting their fingers lock. “It was good to see you, Aziraphale.”
“And you, my dear,” Aziraphale smiled, waving his hands and allowing the bright light to engulf them both. A moment later, Aziraphale and Crowley were alone in the shop.
“Well,” Crowley said, standing up and wrapping an arm around the angel’s shoulder, “that went well.”
“Very,” Aziraphale smiled. “Did you enjoy yourself, darling?”
“Yeah,” Crowley nodded. “Not such a bad chap, that Dean. Little too much of a lumberjack for my taste-”
“Oh stop it,” Aziraphale said, his tone still too teasing for the demon to take seriously. The impulse overtook him before he could stop it. Crowley gave Aziraphale’s cheek a light peck before going very still.
“Aziraphale… can I tell you something?”
“Oh,” Aziraphale’s hand lightly touched the spot of Crowley’s kiss. “Of course, my dear.”
“Morning,” Sam smiled as Dean and Castiel walked into the kitchen. He pulled two mugs from the cabinet and poured a cup of coffee for each. “So, how’d it go yesterday?”
Castiel accepted the cups with a nod, carrying them over to the table where Dean sat, still half-asleep. Jack was on his second bowl of Cookie Crunch. Sam refused to call anything with that amount of sugar and chocolate ‘cereal.’
“We had a very nice time,” Castiel said, setting the cup before Dean, who gave him a dazed smile and a kiss on the cheek before clutching his cup.
“Dean behaved himself?” Sam asked, earning a sleepy glare from his brother.
“He had to restrain himself a few times,” Cas responded. Dean took a gulp of his coffee before finding the energy to respond.
“Hey! I behaved.”
“We had a lovely afternoon,” Cas smiled. “We’re going again next week. Aziraphale invited you and Jack to come along as-”
Castiel was interrupted by a tiny pop of light above the kitchen table. The second it disappeared, a letter floated down to the table. Castiel picked it up and opened it, reading the contents before handing it over to Dean. Dean regarded the letter, smiling at all the little hearts Aziraphale had embellished the paper with.
“Nice,” Dean nodded, already guessing what it said.
“What?” Sam asked. “What’s it say?”
“You’re coming to England with us next week, Sammy. Jack too.” Dean said. “You’ll like Azi. His boyfriend is something else, but you’ll love his book shop!”