Limbo is an elevator that never reaches its destination. And Crowley is stuck in it.
Strictly speaking, he isn’t stuck. He can vanish himself from limbo whenever he wants. The last time he was here, stuck in this elevator, it had been an accident. He was pretty drunk at the time and had inadvertently taken the travelator to limbo instead of the downwards escalator to Hell. He was pissed enough not to question the fact that he wasn’t going in the right direction. Pissed enough, in fact, to subsequently stumble into limbo, no questions asked.
Now, though- this is no accident. He’s here for a reason, and, unfortunately, he can’t get out of this. So, in his mind, he’s stuck.
Music tinkles cheerfully, a song that sounds frustratingly like one that he recognises, but isn’t quite it- the kind of music that is so nondescript and derivative that its tune eludes memory. It’s some cheesy, romantic nonsense. The kind of thing that makes him wrinkle his nose. The kind of pathetic love ballad that gets right on his tits, because soft keyboards and crooning voices and wind chimes- that is not what love feels like.
Love feels so, so much shittier than that.
“How long does this elevator go on for?”
Crowley pockets his hands and leans against the wall, the handrail digging uncomfortably into his back. “Forever. Unless you’re going somewhere.”
Aziraphale doesn’t lean. He isn’t the type of person to lean against anything, whether or not he has an excuse to. Crowley measures the way the angel patiently stands in the centre of the elevator, back turned to him. Grey carpet and grey walls and grey music making him somehow seem all the brighter.
“Remind me of how you’re so familiar with limbo?” Aziraphale asks, peering up at the arrow shaped light pointing downwards and rocking on the balls of his feet.
“Remember that time you tried to make me see the Jersey Boys?”
“Yes- I still maintain you would have enjoyed-”
“I can- I can almost guarantee I wouldn’t’ve. Anyway, remember how, instead, we went to the pub and we both got riotously drunk-”
“And we had to call it a night because you were scandalising the locals.”
“Scandalising- it’s Soho, no one in Soho’s ever scandalised. Anyway,” Crowley presses, noting the way Aziraphale quirks his eyebrows a little in disapproval, “I had to go to the office that night for some reason, and ended up accidentally taking the travelator instead of the escalator.”
“Ah, I see.”
“I only realised after, like, five minutes that I was in the wrong place.”
They fall into quiet, and the same non-existent song continues to play. Crowley sighs and rubs his temple.
“I do believe we’ll be late, at this rate,” Aziraphale announces, checking his watch.
“It doesn’t give off the best impression.”
“Yeah, well, we’ve already cocked that up, can’t get much worse than it already has,” Crowley replies.
Referring, of course, to the fact that they’ve pretty much ruined their relationship with their respective colleagues back in Heaven and Hell. But then, even as Crowley says it, he doesn’t quite believe the words coming out of his mouth. He thinks things could be a Hell of a lot worse (as it were). The past few weeks after the deflating balloon that was armageddon have been some of the best in his long, long life. These few weeks, he’s had no responsibilities. No questions asked, no paperwork, no demonic quota to fill. Just a lot of time to be himself.
And be with Aziraphale.
Who, currently, makes an almost inaudible sigh.
“For fuck’s sake, angel, stop thinking about it. It’s limbo. The whole point is that it’s dull and time stretches on forever, the more you worry about it the longer it’ll take to get there.”
Aziraphale tilts his head slightly and turns to look at him again, brows pulled together in interest. “Oh? A sort of, ‘watched pot will never boil’ situation? You know, that’s quite smart. Although I’d argue this is a lot more like Hell than-”
The elevator makes a gentle ping.
“Ah!” Aziraphale says with a pleased little smile, and a small bounce for good measure. Crowley shakes his head to himself.
The doors slide open.
The room is just a tad too small. Not noticeably at first, but when the archangel Gabriel stands up from his seat at the large meeting table, the back of the chair knocks awkwardly into the hollow wall. It makes the hang in there! cat poster fall askew, safety pins clattering to the floor. Gabriel looks disapprovingly at the narrow gap between table and wall, looking as if he’d like to miracle the place into being a bit larger. Unfortunately, the architecture of limbo is immune to such things.
Crowley saunters into limbo, just as he saunters everywhere. Aziraphale clasps his hands in front of him, and throws Crowley a brief glance. We’re on our own side.
“Beelzebub is late. Obviously,” Gabriel drawls. Having stood up to greet them, the angel decides to balance this strangely polite gesture- considering the topic at hand- with a more threatening lean towards them. Hands splayed on the ring stained, plastic table.
“Very Alan Sugar,” Crowley mutters to himself.
Aziraphale’s mouth twitches- almost a smile. He narrows his eyes at him as if to say: now is not the time to make me laugh, foul demon.
“Sit down, the two of you.”
Gabriel nods to the various empty chairs at the long meeting table. Crowley takes the one closest to him, out of pure laziness and a strong desire to be on the opposite end of the room to number-one-wanker-Gabriel. He pulls out the chair and straddles it, resting his arms on the back. Aziraphale hesitates for a moment, trying to figure out where he should sit. Should he make his disobedience plain and sit right next to the demon that he’s spent the past six thousand years secretly hanging out with? Or kiss up to the man who has made his life as much of a Hell as is possible, coming from an angel? Crowley can see the debate in his pinched face.
Eventually, Aziraphale straightens out his waistcoat and clears his throat. “I think I’ll stay standing, thank you.”
Crowley raises his eyebrows and barely withholds a smirk. In Aziraphale’s world, that’s about as close to fuck you and your fucking seats as he’s willing to get.
Crowley wonders when he got so good at reading him.
Gabriel takes his seat again, straightening his suit. It’s all angels seem to be able to fucking do. “Now, let’s make this quick-”
The elevator door pings again, and there’s the familiar, skin-itching sound of flies buzzing.
“Alright,” Beelzebub mutters, wandering into the room with all the enthusiasm of a sloth. They peer down at Crowley, looking him up and down in the way teenage girls do at parties when someone’s arrived from a completely uncool clique. Then, drags out their own chair and slumps into it.
“You couldn’t have arrived on time,” Gabriel says stiffly.
Beelzebub stares blankly. “It’s limbo? That elevator’s meant to take forever? And I wanted to finish my book. I was on the last two pages.”
“Oh, well that’s alright then, isn’t it?”
Crowley sighs theatrically. The angel and the demon glare at him, as if irritated at having their argument interrupted.
“I know you didn’t bring us down here to listen to you bicker, so if you’re ready to stop wasting my time?” Crowley suggests, leaning his face against his hand.
Aziraphale stands stock still by Crowley’s side. Gabriel and Beelzebub share a glance that seems to be the facial version of a shrug. “Fine,” Gabriel starts. “I don’t intend to keep you long, because quite frankly, I’ve been dreading this all week.”
“Same,” Beelzebub chimes in.
“Yup,” Crowley adds.
Aziraphale casts his eyes around the room and measures his audience. “It’s not the highlight of my day,” he admits.
“The main gist of it is that we don’t want to babysit you anymore,” Gabriel continues. “We’re presenting you with two options.”
Crowley feels Aziraphale watching him for his reaction. Crowley gives none, other than waving his hand impatiently to move the conversation forward.
“Option one, the two of you keep on doing what you were meant to be doing in the first place,” Beelzebub says.
“It pains me to say it,” Gabriel supplies, “But the world needs to remain in balance until our next try at armageddon. It was God’s intention to have you both there in the garden, it was apparently God’s intention to have you cock up so enormously-”
“Well,” Aziraphale tries to complain, but he’s silenced by Gabriel’s hand.
“-And we believe that for armageddon to come around again, there needs to be that… you know,” he gestures vaguely. “Yin and yang thing.”
Crowley thinks this is just a polite way of saying ‘killing you was too hard so we suppose you’ll have to stay one way or another’. But then Aziraphale says slowly, “You want us to... continue to perform miracles and effectively cancel each other out.”
“Worked the last time,” Beelzebub says.
“Debatable,” Crowley mutters.
Beelzebub stares evenly at him. “We’re just asking you to do your fucking jobs so the world doesn’t end prematurely.”
“Except, it was meant to end two weeks ago, wasn’t it, though?” Crowley taunts with a sneer.
“What’s option two?” Aziraphale dives in.
“Option two,” Gabriel begins wearily, rubbing his temples. “Well, option two is this. If you want to go rogue and ignore orders, then be our guests.”
“But there will be consequences,” Beelzebub says, elongating each word lazily.
Crowley watches the angel and the demon opposite him as he considers Beelzebub’s words. It’s strange to see them side by side. Strange to be in this grey room with cardboard walls and a resting temperature that’s just a smidgeon too warm, clock ticking just a bit too loudly. Strange to be so brazenly talking to them both with Aziraphale by his side- no more hiding.
“Don’t tease us. What are the consequences,” he presses.
Beelzebub looks almost like they want to smile. “If you’re going to go native, then you’d better go all the way. Can’t have your cake and eat it.”
Crowley blinks. And then he sighs again, this time, in understanding.
“You want to remove our powers?” Aziraphale asks a little incredulously.
“We’re not letting an angel and a demon gallivant hand in hand with all the ammunition and none of the motivation to follow orders,” Gabriel says seriously. Sharp accent, sharp suit, everything about him sharp. “It’s as Beelzebub says. You can’t have your cake and eat it.”
Crowley clenches his teeth. He doesn’t like his tone. He supposes he should have seen all of this coming. Looking up at Aziraphale, the angel appears similarly frustrated.
“So, what,” Crowley shrugs. “That’s it? Either we keep doing the same old useless shit, or you make us, essentially, human?”
“Would that mean making us mortal?” Aziraphale asks.
“I don’t have the authority to remove your immortality,” Gabriel says a little resentfully. “But as an archangel, I do have power over you, Aziraphale, and I can take away your miracle abilities.”
“Same for you,” Beelzebub says, wrinkling their nose in Crowley’s direction. As if he smells worse than them, the arsehole covered in flies. “Consorting with angels. Disgusting.”
Crowley scoffs, gestures to Beelzebub and Gabriel. “Um! A bit rich?”
Beelzebub leans forward slowly, blank eyes fixed on Crowley. It would intimidate most, but very little intimidates this demon.
“Yeah. We both know it’s not the same, though. Don’t we, Crowley?”
He hates what they’re insinuating. It makes his stomach churn and his head hot, hot enough that he might spontaneously burn into flames. It’s been known to happen.
There’s a long stretch of silence, and Crowley refuses to lose the staring contest he’s got going. He’d rather look anywhere but Aziraphale’s direction right now. The clock ticks loudly and the room becomes that bit more suffocating.
“So, what’ll it be, boys?” Gabriel announces, clapping his hands decisively.
“What, we have to choose now?” Aziraphale asks, just a little scandalised, as he quite often sounds.
“Now or never,” Beelzebub says, still staring at Crowley.
There’s a minute shift in Aziraphale’s straight posture beside him. “I choose-” he begins, then hesitates.
The clock continues to tick, and Gabriel looks at his expensive Swiss watch pointedly. “Can you hurry this up? I have pilates in half an hour.”
“Oh, go on, then,” Crowley says, rolling his head lazily. “Human. Human! I choose to be human, fuck it. If it means getting you two off our backs.”
The moment he says it, he knows he’s made the right decision. Fucking terrifying, still. But he’d much rather be a human than a dog on Beelzebub’s leash. Humans are law breakers. Humans pretty fucking punk. Not too bad, becoming closer to something he sort of respects. Always had a soft spot for them.
“And me,” Aziraphale adds quickly.
Crowley shoots him a look. Are you sure? His frown conveys.
Absolutely, that small smile implies.
He doesn’t want to think about what the squirming in his chest implies.
Beelzebub and Gabriel look at each other.
The demon shrugs.
The angel rubs his hands together and stands up abruptly. “Good! Good, that’s a weight off my mind. Don’t go causing trouble, kids! Right, gotta dash, I left my pilates mat back home.”
“Wait, aren’t you-?” Crowley begins.
“Oh, sure,” Gabriel remembers, as he squeezes through the gap between the chairs and the wall towards the elevator. He snaps his fingers. “Consider it done, Aziraphale,” he adds, giving him not so much of a glance.
Ever since Crowley met him in Heaven, ever since he’d seen the way he treated Aziraphale-
Shut your stupid mouth and die, already.
-He’s not had much patience towards him. He’s about this close to going full snake and strangling the bastard.
Aziraphale, on the other hand, seems unfazed. Unchanged; he doesn’t look any different, nor especially human, compared to before. Nor does he look angry or upset. Just cool and collected. It has always baffled Crowley how the angel can be so easily flapped by a stain on his coat, and yet in the face of the archangel Gabriel treating him like shit, he can carry himself with such control and poise. Crowley never inherited that skill from God.
“You’re done too,” Beelzebub says to Crowley, as if they’re finishing up a doctor’s appointment. A doctor with no bedside manner. But then, Crowley’s used to people being rude to him, so he accepts it with a shrug. Sort of par for the course. “Now stop being a pain in my arse.”
Gabriel reaches the elevator first, pushing the button to close the doors before they can take the ride up with him. Aziraphale tuts.
Crowley reckons it’s better that way.
The French House is one of Crowley’s favourite watering holes in London. It’s one of the few that hasn’t been bought out by a pub chain and isn’t crawling with posh students. Just the right amount of grimy. Nestled on the edge of Soho, it’s also ideal in that nobody bats an eye at the two strangely contradictory men sitting side by side at the large open window. A summer breeze drifts in, mixed with car fumes and cigarette smoke of the LGBT+ Pride youth chattering outside.
Somewhere in here, there’s a photo of Crowley grinning with a table full of empty pint glasses. (He also wasn’t wearing his sunglasses. The caption of the photo is bloke with the weird contact lenses destroys 15 pints: 2nd August 2007) He’d won a drinking contest that night, cheating using his sobering up abilities. Aziraphale had, on the outside, strongly disapproved. But then, he had also been the one to quite happily take the photo.
“Can’t do that anymore,” Crowley says aloud to Aziraphale as they reminisce. “Smelly old humans now. Sort of. Immortal humans. Going to have to sober up like a fucking pleb.”
“You really mustn’t refer to humans as plebs,” Aziraphale says without much conviction, gazing out of the window at the passers by. “We’re part of their world, now. In a way, I suppose we always have been.”
“Yup. Seemed to make most sense to choose the human option over being Hell’s bitch.”
Aziraphale hums with agreement into his pint glass, eyes widening a little to emphasise this further.
“Suppose,” Crowley muses, “now, we can do whatever we want.”
Aziraphale makes a satisfied sigh and half of his pint has disappeared. “Suppose so. Thinking back on it, for a divine being, I never did have that much freedom.” He looks distantly out of the window again, sitting on the awkwardly tall, wobbly stool with perfect form. “I have the bookshop of course, and there was very little stopping me from enjoying life’s pleasures.”
Crowley raises his eyebrows and smirks.
The angle purses his lips. “Food. I obviously meant food, and books and autumn walks through Hampstead Heath. Mind out of the gutter, please.”
“I didn’t say anything-”
“But at the end of it all,” Aziraphale tries to press on, “I never had any freedom at all, truly. I always had destiny on my shoulders. The weight of armageddon, the cogs and wheels clicking into the place, the ineffable plan. Both of us.”
“Ah, it’s no different now, not really.”
“Do you think?” he asks lightly, eyebrows raised slightly. “I’m not so sure. We may still be immortal, but we’re closer to human than ever. I wonder if that means we have more of a choice. That was God’s gift to humans, after all.”
Crowley shakes his head, downs his pint. Aziraphale watches in mild interest. He slams down the glass on the window sill. “After all the shit we’ve had to orchestrate, I don’t think there’s such a thing as choice. That book you picked up from Book Girl was enough to convince me. Nah. We’re still on the path of destiny.”
Aziraphale exhales. Looks up at the ceiling of the pub. Through the various floors and to the sky above. “Strange destiny you have planned, then, old chap.”
Crowley moves to pick up his pint glass again, before realising it’s empty. “Oh. Third round?”
Aziraphale gives him a mischievous sideways glance and a restrained smile.
Sweetly angelic face. Light in his eyes.
Always a light in his eyes that Crowley’s found eternally fascinating.
Stop it, he tells himself.
“It would be rude not to,” he says with a satisfied little wiggle.
There’s only thing that Crowley finds works in these situations. These moments where he just wants to squish him, is overwhelmed by those hideously fluffy feelings- the type one might get (certainly not him) when watching kitten and puppy videos on YouTube. There’s only one thing that he’s found works, and it’s either punching a wall, or breaking a chair. Or, in this case, rolling his eyes behind his sunglasses and mocking him.
He returns with the two extra pints shortly, finding Aziraphale’s second glass now empty.
“Better slow down, I suppose,” the angel says ruefully.
“Bollocks to slowing down.”
Crowley begins to down his pint in an act of defiance, and now Aziraphale’s the one to roll his eyes.
“Yes, very impressive,” he says condescendingly.
“What’s the point in holding back,” Crowley continues through a wince, feeling the bubbles going down the wrong way. “We can do what the fuck we want now.”
The two of them look out of the window. The pub opposite the road is busy with people gathering after work, leaning against the window sills outside and chattering about sales figures. The landlord drops a bin bag of bottles loudly onto the road, and a Just Eat moped whizzes around it, honking his horn.
“That’s just it!”
Crowley turns to see Aziraphale straightening further in his seat, a triumphant smile on his face.
“What is it,” he asks warily.
“Let’s do something, Crowley!”
Crowley blinks at him, wide eyes staring into his soul and beaming smile. White blonde hair catching the evening-
Stop. It, he reminds himself sternly. He’s glad he wears these sunglasses, just so that Aziraphale can’t see what he’s really thinking.
“Do something?” Crowley begins slowly. “Well, we could… go for dinner. We’ve done the Ritz, we could go to the Ivy. The chicken truffle sandwich is bloody cosmic-”
“No, not the Ivy,” Aziraphale wrinkles his nose dismissively.
“Fuck, alright then, have it your way. We could do Dishoom instead. And I know you’re paranoid you’re going to get curry sauce on your suit, but if I can tempt the waiters to get us to the front of the queue and- ah, shit, can’t do that anymore-”
“No, listen, Crowley.”
The sudden earnest tone makes him pause. What makes his mind go disturbingly empty, except for screaming white noise, is the way Aziraphale leans forward and grabs his arm. The excitement is painfully palpable.
“Let’s go on holiday!”
Crowley raises his eyebrows. Then, “See, for a second, I thought you actually had something exciting to tell me.”
“A holiday, Crowley- an honest to God holiday! Think of it!”
“We’ve been everywhere in the world, and outside of it. And we’ve missed the best season for Alpha Centauri.”
“Ice cream, and fish and chips on the promenade,” the angel continues dreamily, clutching his chest and ignoring Crowley. He’s good at ignoring him when he wants to, the stubborn wanker. “Fruit de mer and a bottle of fizz on the porch-”
“You’re just listing food.”
“We can go anywhere, and no one will chase us! Nobody on our tails, no responsibilities, just going somewhere for the sake of going there!”
Aziraphale watches Crowley, waiting for him to choose his side, eyes wide and imploring. Trouble is, they’ve both figured out that Crowley will always, always choose his side. Even without the cherub eyes.
“Sounds like you have a particular place in mind,” Crowley acquiesces with a sigh, picking up his Guinness.
“Yes. The Isle of Skye. Garden of the Gods, as they call it!”
He licks the white foam from his top lip, and considers this. “I do like Scotland.”
“I know you do, that’s why I thought of it,” Aziraphale replies with a cheeky smile and a nudge.
“Alright, you’ve convinced me,” Crowley says, after very little convincing indeed. “Isle of Skye. We leave tomorrow, early.”
Aziraphale claps excitedly. “Oh goodie!”
“Goodie,” Crowley mimics. “You sound like the Famous Fucking Five.”
“And there shall be lashings and lashings of ginger beer.”
“Talisker,” Crowley corrects. “If we’re going to Skye, we’re drinking whisky.”
The angel nods conspiratorially. He leans closer as he does so, and Crowley can smell the stupid cologne that his stupid barber recommended him mixed with the Camden Town pale ale he’s drinking.
“Oh yes,” the angel did ordain. “Let there also be whisky.”
Sometimes, he just gives up trying to change the music to anything other than Queen. Today is one of those days, as he listens to a The Best of Queen CD in his Bentley.
His dear old Bentley. It doesn’t feel quite the same, even if Adam had restored it to every little detail. The bullet holes in the driver’s window are still there. But she’s not the same.
Freddie Mercury belts out Bohemian Rhapsody and Crowley drums his fingers against the leather of the steering wheel. Soho is quieter than usual at seven AM on a Saturday morning, but it also has its fair share of party goers making their way home after a sleepless night out. There’s some excellent walks of shame, too, which Crowley has immense fun watching. It’s truly a spectator’s sport. He’d conjure a box of popcorn, if he could. And he’d have parked on the double yellow lines if he could’ve, but this time, he can’t tempt anyone into not giving him a parking fine. So he slips into a fortunate space outside of A Z Fell’s bookshop and waits, listening to Queen and watching the local drag queens make their way home in their excellent looking heels that he only wishes he could walk in.
“Thunderbolt and lightning, very very frightening,” Crowley mutters tunelessly to himself, staring at the door of Aziraphale’s bookshop and home.
He’s vaguely aware of the fact that Aziraphale lives in the flat above the bookshop, but he’s never been before. For one reason or another, neither of them have ever visited each other’s home, always keeping their shared company to the safety of restaurants and bars and pubs and parks and the occasional Lidl when looking for discount Rioja. Privately, Crowley’s always wondered what the angel’s home is like. Either dusty and full of books and cluttered with collectibles, or pristine and clean. He can’t quite decide which suits him best.
The demon continues to drum his fingers impatiently. A startled fox jumps out in front of the car, and a Strongbow can rolls gently, almost ethereally down the pavement. God revealing herself in mysterious ways.
Crowley turns his attention to the door of the shop and grumbles.
Any way the wind blows...
And thus, Bohemian Rhapsody comes to an end. To offset the poignant, final notes of the song, Crowley winds down the window and hangs half of his torso outside, leaning on the horn with his left hand.
“OI! ANGEL! GET THE HELL OUT HERE, I’M NOT WAITING ALL DAY!”
It’s not difficult to imagine the flustered tutting that Aziraphale is making right now. Crowley is barely inside the car again before he hears a window being pushed open. Aziraphale leans out of it, searching for Crowley’s car and finding it quickly. His expression turns into an adorably irritated little frown.
“Give me just a second!”
The angel huffs and disappears back inside the building, closing the window. Crowley snorts, peering fondly through the window. I Want To Break Free winds up, the shitty music system filling the car as best it can. He knew Aziraphale would be late, faffing about packing and probably preparing for any weather- despite the fact that the forecast predicts sunny skies all week. He’d known he would be late, and not just because he’s known him, on and off, for roughly six thousand years.
Because while Crowley can tempt the world to move around him, draw anyone in any direction he wants, similarly, he finds himself drawn towards one thing and one thing only. Whilst he can make the universe shift about him like magnets, like flows of currents, tempting people this way and that, there is only one person who has that same affect on him. He feels it, feels the gravitational pull deep in his gut. It’s what makes his hackles raise when Aziraphale is on the other side of the world, in danger. It’s what made him risk his skin and choose their own side, not Hell’s. It’s an instinct.
A feeling of love that makes him want to fall on his knees and serve like he’s an angel all over again.
But he’s not an angel. He’s a demon, and demons, surely, aren’t meant to have an Achilles’ heel like this, their power flipped on them like-
The bookshop doors open with a loud jingle, and Aziraphale pulls a suitcase down the steps.
“Oh fucking Hell,” Crowley mutters to himself. He winds down the window. “Angel, we’re going for five days, not a sodding-well year.”
Aziraphale gives him a pleading look, seemingly embarrassed of himself as he rolls the suitcase to round the back of the car and pops open the boot. “Yes, I know,” he calls, “You needn’t labour the point, it’s just that now we can’t perform miracles I-” there’s a pause, and the car jostles as the suitcase goes in besides Crowley’s weekend sized bag. “-I figured there’s no harm in backup plans. Although I maybe went a little overboard.”
“Maybe, just a tad.”
The passenger door opens and Aziraphale gets in. Crowley knows to give him a second or two to sort himself out, smooth out his waist coat and get himself comfortable. The angel likes things to be just so, and it’s not worth arguing with him over how long that might take. Eventually, Aziraphale announces, “Right! And off we go!”
Crowley nods and starts the car, belts it through Soho, narrowly avoiding another fox.
“‘All creatures great and small’ means nothing to you,” Aziraphale says disapprovingly.
They roar down Regent’s Street, the roads nicely quiet at this time, save for the odd double decker bus and taxi. Crowley sticks the car into fourth and revs the engine for all it’s got. Until they leave London, Aziraphale isn’t going to relax- instead clinging onto the handle above the passenger door for dear life. He supposes it’s fair, particularly now that they have no miracle powers. Nonetheless, Crowley ignores the way he purses his lips and heads towards the M40.
Not the M25.
They talk about whatever nonsense they usually talk about, long enough that Crowley forgets what’s in his glove compartment. Or, perhaps, he’d ‘forgotten’- that is to say, intentionally put the thought aside. Until-
“I would say we should put some music on,” Aziraphale muses, looking out the window wistfully, “Except I know your car radio makes that rather difficult.”
“Uh, well,” Crowley begins, “funny you should say that, actually. I made a Spotify playlist, and I fucked around with the speaker system on my phone last week so we can play it out loud with proper volume. Tried and tested, doesn’t turn into Queen.”
“It’s like a sort of, streaming platform where you can listen to music- doesn’t matter, it’s just got music, angel, don’t worry your pretty little head about it.” That was meant to sound sarcastic. He hopes it did. “Just- pop open the glove compartment, my phone’s in there.”
Aziraphale leans forward to open the compartment, replacing all the spare sunglasses that pour out. He plucks out the phone with a particular delicacy that tells Crowley that he doesn’t know how to work an iPhone.
“Point it in my direction.”
“It’s got facial recognition.”
“Well, just tell me your password. I think I can type in a few silly numbers.”
“I’m not giving you my password,”
“Oh. No, I understand, that’s fair enough-”
“Just turn the phone towards me, alright?”
Aziraphale complies, a baffled frown on his face as Crowley demonstrates the wonders of technology. He turns his eyes away from the M40 bi-passing Oxford, looks at his phone, which apparently won’t recognise his face at this angle. He takes it from Aziraphale’s hand and looks at the screen-
Narrowly avoiding knocking a motorbike into the hard shoulder. The cyclist gives him the middle finger over his shoulder.
Aziraphale sits bolt upright in his seat. “Dear Lord- eyes on the road, Crowley!”
“Yeah, yeah, alright, keep your knickers on, he’s fine,” Crowley waves his phone dismissively at Aziraphale, who takes it gingerly. “Motorcyclists deserve to have the shit scared out of them, if they’re going to drive fucking death machines. I’ve done the world a favour giving him a scare.”
“Yes, well, anyway. Music. Right. Excellent. Wonderful. Now. How do I-?”
“It’s the green symbol at the bottom of the screen. Should be a playlist called road trip-”
“Oh yes, I see it!”
“Well done,” Crowley says rolling his eyes. Educating Aziraphale in technology always requires a fair bit of hand holding.
“Alright. So I just press it?”
“Ye- yes you press it, what the fuck else are you going to do, lick it?”
He doesn’t have to look at him to know that he’s getting Aziraphale’s ‘don’t be so rude’ face.
And soon enough, music begins to play. It’s not the best sound quality but it’s loud enough, at least, after the jiggery-pokery he gave his phone. And then he begins to feel weirdly self-conscious as Aziraphale hums along thoughtlessly, probably not knowing the song at all but having a nice enough voice to give it a go. Self-conscious because he’d put a lot of thought into this playlist, more than he’d admit to anyone without killing them afterwards. A fair few of these are songs that he has thought, for a long time, that Aziraphale might like. It’s therefore sort of. Personal.
And a little surreal, seeing the angel in his peripheral humming and flicking through his phone, listening to music that Crowley had only ever imagined Aziraphale might listen to.
“This is nice,” he comments, not quite surprised but something close to it.
“Yeah, thought Journey would be up your street. Good old cheesy shit.”
Aziraphale beams at him. Crowley smiles back. They both look out at the increasingly busy M40. It’s always a fucking nightmare near Birmingham. This time, it’s not his fault though. He has no idea who was responsible for Birmingham.
“Isn’t this marvellous.”
Crowley raises his eyebrows at Aziraphale, one hand on the wheel. “What. Sitting in traffic on a Saturday morning outside Birmingham? Yeah, very- OI! GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE FAST LANE YOU FUCKING MORON-” he directs this sudden tirade at a lorry which begins to indicate in front of him and leans on his horn. “Yes, this is just marvellous,” he says in a mockingly sweet voice.
“It’s nice to just get out, though,” Aziraphale presses on with a wilful smile. “Really escape. I can’t quite get my head around the fact that we don’t have to report to Heaven or Hell anymore. At least, not in the way we used to, anyway.”
“And we lost our powers. As the cherry on top,” Crowley adds helpfully with a plosive ‘p’ at the end.
“I don’t have to try and save the world daily, you don’t have to cause trouble, only to cancel each other out. It feels strange.” He pauses briefly, then begins shuffling in his seat in a way that implies that he’s about to pose a question and is thinking of how to ask it. Crowley sighs and braces himself. “Does it feel strange for you? Knowing that you don’t have to fit in a little demonic box anymore?”
Crowley thinks about this, pokes his feelings on the topic and is surprised by what he finds. “Not really. I was never very good at being evil anyway. Never that interested in the blood and gore, more into the low-key, subtle kind of evil doings. The Luton Airport kind of evil doings.”
“Oof. Yes, and that really is bad enough.”
That makes him smile to himself, wiggling his head a little smugly- a gesture he thinks he’s absorbed from Aziraphale. He can’t help it, he’s very proud of Luton Airport. None of the other demons had come up with anything quite so annoying as an airport with terrible connections, terrible airlines and flight times that exclusively require getting up at 3 in the morning.
“What about you,” he asks eventually. “How you getting on. You know, sans powers?”
Aziraphale sighs. “Oh, you know. I suppose we’ll just have to get used to it. I did always try not to use my powers, as a habit, anyway. So as not to abuse them, etcetera,” he explains seriously.
“Of course,” Crowley replies- fake seriously. He’s used his powers every day for six thousand years, from washing dishes to hopping astral planes.
“But for now- yes, it’s strange. I sort of keep forgetting.”
They fall into a rare contemplative silence, and the car rumbles around them. The traffic picks up again and the white lines of the road begin to streak by more quickly. In roughly nine hours’ time, they’ll be in the Isle of Skye, in an airbnb that he’d booked the night before last minute, in the middle of buggering nowhere with only sheep as their company. It’s not usually his thing, but after these past few weeks, he’s looking forward to some quiet. Some quiet with Aziraphale.
And his daydream is interrupted by a song coming on- a song that he knows Aziraphale likes, because it’s one of only a handful of songs from the 80s of which he ever bothered learning the name.
Aziraphale gasps and turns to him with a ridiculous ‘o’ shaped mouth and raised eyebrows. Wide, bright blue-green eyes. “You remembered!”
“Of course I remembered, it’s hard to forget.”
“You know, I know almost all the lyrics!”
Crowley smiles, nudges Aziraphale. “Go on then. Prove it.”
He challenges him, not so much just to tease and poke, but because he also just happens to love seeing Aziraphale so relaxed and happy. Singing tunefully- as any angel does- to Electric Light Orchestra. Shuffling in his seat, not quite dancing. Turning to Crowley eagerly when he sings the particularly silly parts, wide eyes expectant like he wants Crowley tease him, wants him to beg him to stop. And the song changes to another of Aziraphale’s favourites, some different type of cheesy bollocks- a song that requires backing vocals and lead vocals, both of which Aziraphale attempts to sing simultaneously, rather comically. Crowley duly shows his second hand embarrassment. Eventually, Aziraphale gives up and tries to get Crowley to sing the backing vocals with him. And Crowley of course acquiesces, grating his way through the lyrics, belting a ridiculous duet at the top of his lungs with great enthusiasm and flare. Wild gesticulations making the car swerve this way and that as Aziraphale complains that he’ll get them both discorporated.
They make their first pit stop at a motorway service station outside Lancaster, Aziraphale announcing that it’s far more civilised than the last one they passed because it has a Marks & Spencer’s. Aziraphale buys them lunch. Then a slice of cake for himself. Then he buys Crowley a strong black coffee without asking what he wants.
And Crowley watches him delicately eat a slice of Marks & Spencer’s lemon drizzle, lorry drivers and screaming children and McDonalds queues snaking around them, thinking that there could be no better way of spending his time than this.