Crowley didn’t really know what to do with himself now that the whole ordeal was over. That included the end of the world, and especially the end of Heaven or Hell meddling with him or his best friend. Best friend, what two bitter words they were on the back of his tongue. So he did what he did best. He slunk home, and he took care of his plants, and he pouted.
He was in the middle of considering a new stunt with his sleep cycle that would involve a disappearance act for a total of 200 years when his phone rang. He scrambled to get to it, half-remembering that he really needed a human hand to actually take hold.
“Hallo?” Crowley answered, rolling off the bed with a dull thump.
“Crowley!” Aziraphale said brightly.
“That would be me, what’s up angel?” Crowley asked, glaring at a set of dust bunnies. They went up in a puff of smoke.
“I was thinking, you know, after my bookshop was magically repaired and all that? I’m thinking that I need a change of pace,” Aziraphale said. Crowley scanned the ceiling of his room. He hadn’t attempted sleeping up there of late.
“Are you listening Crowley?” Aziraphale said. Crowley hummed something that vaguely sounded like agreement. Maybe the top left corner?
“I said, I wanted to see if you’d like to move in with me,” Aziraphale said.
“Oh,” Crowley said cleverly. He glanced at his window, where Evanna was gently tapping her branches against the pane. She seemed to be egging him into saying yes. He glared at her, and the tapping stopped.
“I mean, you don’t have to, but I feel like it would be nice to have a holiday cottage away from everything, and I have been meaning to reorganize my personal library, and you sort of need a personal library to do that anyhow and the bookstore just doesn’t feel right after whatever it was that our dear Adam did to it--”
“Fine, but I get to decorate the living room. Also, I have my plants and we will need a greenhouse,” Crowley interrupted.
“Of course my dear, hey, how about we get a bite to eat in the city and we can pick out a lovely cottage that may open up to a very specific sort of buyer very soon?” Aziraphale hinted.
“Sure, send me the address?” Crowley hung up before Aziraphale could prattle it off to him. Aziraphale had reluctantly purchased a flip phone at Adam’s insistence, so that they could keep in touch. A part of him enjoyed the torture Aziraphale went through just to type anything out on the ancient device.
There was the question of them, though. He knew that it was dangerous ground to be on. With all the things they have gone through. All the side-stepping each other through the centuries. Crowley felt the familiar old ache rise in his chest, and for once he didn’t beat it down with a stick like he usually did.
If they were going to live together, Aziraphale would need to know how Crowley really felt. It wouldn’t be fair to either of them if he was misleading Aziraphale. Plus, there was the whole issue regarding the fact that Crowley was very close to jumping Aziraphale’s bones at the drop of a hat. After confessing his undying love first, of course. Crowley groaned, wriggling further underneath his bed. When had he become such a sap?
His phone buzzed again, reminding him that he existed and therefore had to respond to the other powers at play in the universe. He blindly reached out, flailing an arm about until he finally collided with the phone.
The text was simple and contrite. An address. A smiley face with a nose, such as :^). Crowley made a face and threw the phone in the direction that was furthest from himself. How had he fallen this far. Was this the divine punishment that God had promised him all those years ago? Love was the world’s worst invention, a better torture than any demon could think up, a better ending than Heaven could even begin to offer.
And he was stupidly, horribly, in love. He rolled further underneath the bed, coiling up on himself so that he could be as small as possible. All he wanted was a nice sunny spot in the garden, perhaps Aziraphale could be there, muttering sweet things to the plants just as he had done at the very beginning. No flaming sword though. It had never really suited Aziraphale. He was too soft for that, but Crowley knew that Aziraphale could handle himself perfectly well on his own without the blade anyhow.
The phone buzzed faintly, the outside world knocking against the self-loathing snake’s head. He peered out. A moment later he slithered forth, shaking each limb out as he got to his feet. He scooped the phone up and pocketed it as he left the flat.
“Be good, Evanna,” He called, before entering the earshot of his other plants. Crowley took a second to look properly pissed before coming into their view. They shook violently as he stormed by, not even taking the time to mist them before he departed.
The drive took too short of a time for Crowley to get his thoughts together. More accurately, he would most likely need to drive around the world at least a dozen more times until he was ready. But the only thing keeping him from doing so was the time stamp that Aziraphale had given him. He hated to disappoint.
“Is this the right place?” He asked himself, squinting at the private looking sitting arrangement. A familiar anxious-to-please face appeared, and he groaned. Newton Pulsifer. He unfolded himself from the Bentley, waving him away before he even spoke.
“Mr. Crowley, I’ll be your chauffeur for tonight. I can just park your car…” Newt drifted off as the Bentley zipped off to find a suitable parking spot.
“My car is a testy one. Don’t take it personally,” Crowley said, clapping Newt on the shoulder as he passed him into the quaint little restaurant. Calling it a restaurant was being extremely generous. The logo was made out of magic markers in a child’s scrawl, and directly inside stood Pepper looking for all the world piffed that she was designated waitress.
“I will be your host for tonight,” Pepper said loudly, the unspoken challenge being that he had better not add -ess to anything or else.
“I would be honored,” Crowley said, not rising to the bait for once in his long, long life.
“Right this way, then. Mr. Fell has requested the best seat in the house,” Pepper said, hopping around the desk. She led the charge through a converted living room into a slap-dash diner and into the side garden that Crowley had spotted earlier. He spotted Aziraphale framed by a lovely set of sweet peas. A bee was sitting lightly on his lapel, most likely humming a melody only for the angel to hear. Aziraphale’s face brightened from its usual anxious demeanor into one of pure delight once he spotted Crowley. Crowley offered a jaunty wave.
“You will be served by the one and only Adam Young, who is also the head of...of house, or whatever it’s called,” Pepper said, breaking character for only a moment. Crowley sat down, picking up the sheet of notebook paper that served as their menu for the night.
“Thanks, Pepper. Let me know if Anathema needs help in the kitchen, alright?” Azirphale said. Pepper nodded before charging off.
“The Them are currently helping in the kitchen. Earlier I smelled smoke but, I think it’s under control,” Aziraphale said nervously. Crowley quirked an eyebrow, squinting at the pencil marks. One of the downsides of wearing shades everywhere he went was that the invention of graphite as a writing utensil was most definitely not his best friend.
“I should say that our options are limited to one thing apiece, so there’s ah, no point in reading the menu,” Aziraphale continued. Crowley nodded, and the notebook paper went up in a woosh of flame. He surveyed the table, noticing a little silver pouch. He held it up.
“Capri sun?” Crowley asked incredulously.
“Adam insists that it’s quite the drink,” Aziraphale said, blushing.
“I’m sure. What is all this for?” Crowley asked, stabbing the straw aggressively through. He took a sip of the sugary drink. A moment later, he had to grudgingly admit that perhaps Adam was right on that front.
“It’s for. Hm. Well, there’s no point in hiding it now,” Aziraphale took a deep breath. “I would like to-”
At that very moment, a very harried Adam and Anathema crashed onto the scene with a steaming pile of spaghetti and meatballs.
“Here we are! Bone appetit,” Anathema said loudly, setting one massive plate between the two of them.
“Aziraphale, it’s like that dog movie we watched. Lady and the tramp,” Adam hissed to Aziraphale, intending for Crowley not to hear.
“Thanks for the tip Adam,” Aziraphale said weakly. Crowley didn’t know what the movie was about, but he was pretty sure that he was being called a tramp right about now.
“I’m the tramp, eh?” Crowley said, as soon as Anathema and Adam disappeared. Crowley was irked that the Them (Newt and Anathema included) thought they could hide around the corner without being noticed.
“It’s a rather silly dog movie, I believe the two dogs kiss when they accidentally eat the same noodle,” Aziraphale said, picking up a fork. Crowley huffed a laugh, imagining all the dog fights he had witnessed over a scrap of food. Some movie that must be.
“So what’s with all the combined efforts of everyone in the area?” Crowley said loudly. He heard quiet swearing as the Them quickly tried to scramble away. He lowered his glasses long enough to wink at Aziraphale before pushing them up again. Aziraphale gave him a gratified smile.
“I did a little trick to make them think we’re talking about cottage decor,” Aziraphale whispered, before clearing his throat.
“And what do I have the pleasure of smelling bad Italian food for?” Crowley asked.
“I...I wanted to clear the air a little bit, between the two of us. The whole Armageddon thing, and the whole our own side bit made me really think about some hang ups that I’ve been having,” Aziraphale said.
“Just say the words and fall for me, angel,” Crowley said dramatically. Aziraphale turned another shade of red that Crowley hadn’t seen before. For the first time in a long time, which was to say that today was already full to the brim of them, Crowley had no idea what was going on.
“Crowley, I...I would like to date you,” Aziraphale said in a rush.
“Oh,” Crowley said, feeling very much like all of his physical form had turned into a puddle of goo.
“Of course I fully intend to court you, but Anathema said that was old fashioned and I want...I want to do you right, since you’ve done so much for me and you just look like you need a kinder future and I’m willing to give that to you--” Aziraphale prattled on.
“Okay,” Crowley said finally, voice thick. Aziraphale held up a hand, his expression looking even more overwhelmed than before.
“You may decide otherwise, after my confession,” Aziraphale said. Crowley had the urge to make a joke about how Aziraphale slept with some author or other, but his brain had ceased functioning about two minutes ago.
“I must confess that I lied to you about deleting that memory. I understand that I...I did not react appropriately,” Aziraphale said haltingly. Crowley, once again in his many moments of life, became acutely aware of the scars along his back. They seemed to fester underneath the truth of Aziraphale knowing about them. Crowley rolled his shoulders self-consciously. He focused back in on what Aziraphale was saying.
“The thing is, I found it beautiful. Well, what they did was wretched, but when I saw it, I thought that it was just another part of you, and I do find you beautiful, every inch,” Aziraphale said. Crowley cleared his throat, the only way he was able to get a word in edgewise.
“I think,” Crowley said cleverly, “that I’m going to be sick.”
And with that he darted to his feet. He swayed back into the living room, past the Them who were all scrambling to look busy (this upset over the upholstery? was the main takeaway of their thoughts) and into the street. Demon’s didn’t really throw up, neither did they feel like they were going to have their heart beat out of their chest and go on flopping down the street. He rested his hand against a streetlamp, focusing on his breath.
“Crowley!” Aziraphale called, tumbling out of the restaurant. Crowley whirled around, pressing a hand to his chest in an effort to settle his heart.
“Just give me a second,” Crowley said, waving him away. He glared at the door to the restaurant, slamming the door shut on the infinitely curious Them.
And then he did what he had thought of doing for thousands of years. He kissed a silly angel that he had wanted to kiss ever since he had first spotted him in Heaven all those years ago. For the first time Aziraphale melted against him, for the first time he knew what it really meant to love. Not that he hadn’t known before, of course. Crowley’s brain shorted out briefly as Aziraphale ran his fingers through his hair, and he let out a little moan when Aziraphale nipped his bottom lip.
“Why did we wait this long?” Aziraphale gasped, pulling away. Crowley rolled his eyes.
“I wasn’t the one waiting,” He accused. A moment later the door made a loud banging noise, as if someone were trying to break it open.
“Wanna get outta here?” Crowley suggested. Aziraphale beamed, reaching forward to kiss Crowley on the cheek as the Bentley roared around the corner.
While the Them did not appreciate the fact that they were ditched in the makeshift restaurant for another twenty minutes after they left, they were placated with the promise of being the first ones to be at the garden party that Aziraphale and Crowley would be hosting in their little cottage.
“Angel, we must have apple pie, it fits with the theme,” Crowley said, reaching around his boyfriend to steal a fingerful of batter from the mix.
“Stop that you fiend, or I shall smite you with flour,” Aziraphale scolded. Crowley quirked an eyebrow at him, sucking at his finger as he did so.
“I can’t even look at you, you wanton thing,” Aziraphale said, shaking his head.
“Aw, admit it, you just love me,” Crowley said, nuzzling his nose into the crook of Aziraphale’s neck.
“Against my better judgement, I suppose I do love you,” Aziraphale sighed dramatically.
“That’s all I needed to hear,” Crowley beamed. He sauntered his way into the front room, getting there just moments before the knock came. He whirled it open, greeting a rather flustered Newt and Anathema who were holding a toaster. Behind them, stood Shadwell and Madame Tracy who held an identical looking toaster.
“We can take it back,” Newt burst out.
“Aye, they’d better,” Shadwell demanded from behind them. A car full of clamoring kids pulled up just behind the two couples, and Adam tumbled out alongside Dog.
“Ah, the guests are here, my dear, would you mind helping me bring the refreshments around back?” Aziraphale said, resting his hand at the small of Crowley’s back. In a lower tone, he said something along the lines of Dog will ruin the carpet and I do not want to stain treat it. Crowley beamed toothily at him, before leading everyone tromping through the house and out the back door.
Yes, this was paradise, with all its gardening and yapping dogs and a godson and all of his friends. Plus, no one seemed especially apt to go after Aziraphale for loving him either. Mostly because of the stunt with the holy water and eternal hellfire he supposed. Oh, how he looked forward to another run-in with those bastards.