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Tiny Little Glimpses

Chapter Text

Aziraphale hoped that Crowley didn’t notice how much he stared at his eyes.

They were the eyes of a serpent. Black slits on amber, rarely blinking, seeing everything even when they didn’t appear to be moving.

Crowley usually hid his eyes behind dark glasses. He probably didn’t need to. The humans didn’t seem to notice his eyes before he wore them, but Crowley did it anyway. Aziraphale suspected that it was about more than blending in.

Whatever the reasons were, Aziraphale wished he could take them away.

Crowley had such lovely eyes, he thought. They were the golden color the sun turned as the darkness approached. Other angels would have referred to them as cursed, the eyes of the Fallen. Aziraphale saw wit, curiosity, emotions which pushed and pulled at each other. He was certain that he could spend an eternity staring into Crowley’s eyes and never untangle all of their secrets.

“Angel?”                                                              

Aziraphale blinked. Crowley was holding up his glass. Had he asked for a refill already?

“Sorry, dear, I—here.”

The angel tipped the wine bottle all the way over. They had started drinking an hour ago, and Aziraphale was sure that this was just the beginning of another long night. Fortunately, there was a delivery of wine to the bookshop this morning, a favor repaid from a scholar in France who had declared Aziraphale’s acquisition of a certain first edition for him to be “a true miracle”.

Crowley immediately gulped down his latest glass. The two of them were sitting in the backroom of the bookshop again. They were spending a lot of time there these days, so Aziraphale had invested in some additional furnishings to make it more comfortable. Currently, Crowley was lounging on long, black couch Aziraphale had bought just because he knew that the demon would enjoy stretching out onto it.

“You want to call it a night?”

Aziraphale tensed. Was something wrong? Had he done something….?

“Why? I mean, was there something you needed to…?”

Crowley sat up, stretching his legs out in front of him. “I’ve got nothing going on. But you’re still on your first glass. Something on your mind, angel?”

Aziraphale looked down into his glass. He knew that Crowley was staring at him from behind those glasses, searching for answers to the questions he hadn’t asked yet.

When he looked up again, he was startled to find Crowley only inches from his face, the sunglasses gone and those eyes, oh, those beautiful eyes, were locked onto his. His gaze was held with a force as sure as gravity.

“I…I was just thinking about how I wish you…that you would….”

The words stopped in Aziraphale’s throat. He wanted to say it so badly, but he didn’t want Crowley to think that his reasons for keeping his eyes hidden were not as important as the selfish happiness Aziraphale could feel upon seeing them.

Crowley smiled and leaned back in his seat. The sunglasses stayed off for the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Anchorage, Alaska, 1925

It had to be those dammed darts again. Had to be.

Crowley shivered. Two weeks ago, he’d made the mistake of taking a dartboard with him during a routine report to Beelzebub. The Lord of Hell was fascinated by it. Especially when someone replaced the dartboard with a map of Earth.

Thus, Beelzebub’s new hobby became throwing darts randomly and sending Crowley to whatever spot on the map the dart chose. The first couple of assignments on tropical islands weren’t so bad. But Crowley knew his luck would run out eventually, and sure enough, the latest dart landed him in a frozen wasteland.

The demon shivered again. All of the layers of sweaters underneath his full-length coat were not enough to keep out the chill. Crowley hated going to arctic climates, and this assignment was a vivid reminder of that fact.

Crowley stared at the empty snowfield in front of him. There wasn’t much for him to do here. Sickness had broken out in some of the smaller towns in the area, so there was plenty of misery to go around anyway.

He had almost finished formulating his excuse for why he left without causing mayhem when a familiar figure came into his vision. A grin appeared on his face as he walked toward a man who had on a light, tartan parka.

“Hey angel, fancy meeting you here.”

He stopped in front of Aziraphale who was currently kneeling on the ground, petting a large dog in front of him. Crowley recognized it as the sort that was often used to pull sleds around here.

Aziraphale looked up at him, blinking. “Oh, Crowley, I…what are you doing here?”

Crowley took in a sharp breath. “Oh not much. Downstairs wanted to see if I could make any mischief here.” Aziraphale frowned, but Crowley held up his hand. “Don’t worry, I was just leaving. What about you?”

Aziraphale looked down, tension visible in his posture.

“Direct order from the Metatron. I was sent here to…” The angel let out a long sigh. “…bless this dog.”

“You what?”

“And don’t laugh. I’ve endured plenty of snickering about it already.”

Crowley let out one snort, before deciding to try some restraint. “And here I thought I was getting the real menial stuff. They must still be upset about that thing in Rome.”

Aziraphale shook his head, but his smile reappeared when he looked at the dog again. “He is a very nice dog though, isn’t he? Probably well deserving of a blessing.”

A soft, warm light flicked around them and then faded.  As it did, Aziraphale stood up, brushing snow off his pants.

“Well now, I think something warm to drink is in order. Care to join me?”

Crowley gave him a fond smile. “I thought you’d never ask, angel.”

Two figures walked across a field of snow and disappeared leaving only footprints. Several minutes later, a man came out and called to his dog.

“Come, Balto. We must get ready.”

Chapter Text

What direction did you go in when there was nowhere left to go?

The question passed through Crowley’s brain, dissolving in a wisp as suddenly as it had appeared. It should have inspired him to slow down, and yet his foot pressed harder onto the accelerator.

A different city? Different country? The Moon? Alpha Centauri?

None of them made sense as destinations anymore. What was the point of running? Running implied that there was somewhere to get to. That there was a reason to go in the first place.

Crowley’s reason had died in walls of fire and clouds of ash.

The demon gripped the steering wheel so tightly, his fingers were leaving impressions. Demons weren’t known for their virtues and were even less likely to be associated with niceties like punctuality.  However, the one thing Crowley had always made sure to be in time for was preventing anything too bad, too embarrassing (like being ‘inconveniently disincorporated’) from happening to Aziraphale.

And he had had plenty of opportunities to practice his timing. The angel seemed to have a knack for getting into trouble. Went with the territory, Crowley supposed. Angels were meant to go places others wouldn’t dare, and, for all his soft, fastidious qualities, Aziraphale could be even more fearless than the typical angel when he chose to be.

Thus, Crowley had had plenty of chances to step in and lend a hand. Oh sure, he often found a way to add a little something extra for himself: some temptations on the side here, ruining few people’s day there. But just as often, these rescues were ‘on the house’, a perk of their Arrangement. Besides, he knew that Aziraphale would do (and had done) the same for him, if needed.

Every time he rescued Aziraphale, Crowley made sure to never dwell on the thought that he couldn’t imagine the universe without him. That that was the true reason why he always kept his eyes and ears open. That he had made an oath to himself to never arrive too late when the angel needed him.

Except this time. This time, he’d allowed thoughts of running, escaping Hell’s retribution and Heaven’s judgment, to dull his vigilance over Aziraphale. And once again, his angel had needed him.

But this time, for the very first time, he was too late. It would also turn out to be the very last time it would ever matter.

 A pub appeared in the corner of his vision, and Crowley yanked at the wheel, pulling the car off the road to park. He’d been here many times over the last few decades. It was a place to have a few drinks alone so he could try to clear his head of several millennia of troubled thoughts.

Crowley sat in his car for a moment more before getting out and going into the pub. He wasn’t going to run. Trying to run had cost him everything.

Crowley would wait instead. Wait until even that wouldn’t matter anymore.  

Chapter Text

“All right, angel. Let’s have it.”

Aziraphale coughed and looked down at his hands which were currently wiggling, fingertips pressing together.

Meanwhile, Crowley waited patiently. It was hard to believe that the angel might have thought that he wouldn’t notice the bent headlight on his precious Bentley. And yet, here he was, bent headlight found and Aziraphale clearly not ready to offer an explanation for it.

“Well…you know that there have been a lot of groups of school children passing in front of the shop recently. I’m not sure why. There are not any educational places around here like a nice museum or…”

“Angel….”

“Yes, right. Anyway, there was another group waiting for their teacher to finish an errand, and there was also this delivery car that was being driven in a quite careless fashion….”

“Wait, are you saying that you used my Bentley somehow to save those kids? Why didn’t you just, I don’t know, miracle the other car someplace else? Preferably onto the M25.”

“Actually, I did miracle his breaks so the car came to a complete stop before he could run over this young girl who had been accidentally shoved into the street. That wasn’t the problem. It was afterward.”

“Afterward?”

Aziraphale’s hands dropped to his sides and he let out a large sigh.

“She had fractured her leg in the fall. I took care of that too, but she was very upset because, by now, her group had suddenly disappeared and she was worried she wouldn’t get home in time for when her mother arrived. Her mother had just spent a month in the hospital overseas, you see. They hadn’t seen each other in weeks. And, there wasn’t much time and your car was there and you said you’d be a bit getting our dinner back to the shop.”

The angel finally looked up and attempted to smile. “At the time, I thought, what an opportune coincidence.”

Crowley’s jaw dropped as what hadn’t been said yet materialized into his brain. It took another full minute for his mouth to form the words for it.

“You drove my car?!”

“It wasn’t very far. And you seem to enjoy it so much…I thought I might give it a go.”

Crowley wanted to say so much more. He wanted dearly to let loose a long, detailed rant about the lunacy of an angel…especially him…driving his car, but his brain was still too short circuited to do much more than repeat itself.

“You drove my car?”

“It went just fine all the way over to the poor thing’s house and most of the way back here. Not a thing happened until that very rude man on the sidewalk tried to run across the road in front of me. I had no choice but to run into that telephone box.”

Crowley pressed his fingers into the bridge of his nose. He waved his hand, righting the headlight and wondered if there was a way to angel-proof the locks on his Bentley.

Chapter Text

“Do be careful with that dish, dear. The set it belongs to was a gift from a very dear friend, and I’d hate to break it up.”

Crowley frowned, but held his tongue. It had been two months since the Notpocalyse and their last formal meeting with their former Lords and Masters. At least, Crowley was fairly certain that they weren’t beholden to Heaven or Hell anymore. There was no way to be entirely sure and he wasn’t going to ask Aziraphale about it.

Besides, if there was ever a time when he was grateful to not be watched by his fellow demons, it had to be now. He was supposed to be the Serpent in the Garden, the First Tempter…and here he was drying dishes.

Crowley waited until Aziraphale was facing the sink again to deepen his scowl. Earlier that afternoon, Aziraphale had suggested that they make a meal together.

“Humans do go on and on about being ‘domestic’. Perhaps there’s something to it.”

Crowley had tried to distract him by suggesting the Ritz and then the new gourmet bakery that had opened up just outside Soho, but Aziraphale was having none of it. The angel chose roast lamb and vegetables for their meal, and Crowley decided to be polite enough to not comment on the selection.

Overall, preparing the meal had been easy. After the third cut on the angel’s hand that he had to miracle away, Crowley took over most of the cooking duties. Though he wouldn’t admit it, he secretly enjoyed impressing his angel.

“My word, Crowley, you are quite good at this. Where did you learn?”

Crowley smirked as he gave some vague hints about lurking in chefs’ kitchens around the world while he finished up. He knew leaving so much mystery would frustrate Aziraphale and he smirked at the look of indignation the angel gave him.

If the preparation had been mildly exasperating, it was overshadowed by how much both of them enjoyed the meal itself. Unfortunately, Aziraphale was determined to carry on with being “domestic” and asked for help with the cleanup.

Crowley put the plate down and stared at the rest of the dishes waiting for him. He did enjoy seeing Aziraphale in that power-blue apron with the ruffles, but the rest of it was boring. There were much better things the two of them could be doing right now and he was becoming impatient with the waiting.

 He wondered if there was a way to convince the water droplets that it was in their best interest to just disappear. Before he could act, however, movement in the corner of his eye caught his attention.

He turned to see Aziraphale staring at one of his own soapy hands which he was holding in front of his face. On the tip of one index finger, a soap bubble, large and iridescent, was wobbling.

Crowley smiled. The bubble’s ghostly shades of color could never compare to the smile of wonder on the angel’s face.

Chapter Text

Crowley snarled, spitting out a few drops of blood as he did so.

Truthfully, he wasn’t surprised that this happened. He figured that there were demons who wouldn’t be happy that he got such a light punishment for destroying Liger: banishment from Hell…until further notice. Crowley knew that meant that Beelzebub wasn’t going to forget about him, even if he and Aziraphale would be left alone for the foreseeable future.

In his mind, that was punishment enough for saving the world and sparing Lucifer and his hordes the potential embarrassment that would last an eternity. Still, Hastur and Liger had friends. Well, what passed for friends Down There. And over the course of several millennia, Crowley had managed to sufficiently annoy more than one demon with his individualistic style.

It really wasn’t surprising that one of them would dare to show up on Earth, even after Beelzebub warned them to not interfere.

That didn’t make it hurt any worse when a monstrous fist slammed into his abdomen, sending him flying into one of the walls in his flat.

A demon with mottled scarlet skin and teeth like spikes grinned at him.  

“You thought your little stunt would save you forever?” it hissed.

The ache in his chest was increasing, but Crowley refused to let the pain show on his face. Instead, he smirked.

“Nice to see you too, Ornach. And I see you’re still stupid enough to defy an order from Beelzebub.”

“Lord Beelzebub will be pleased that I got rid of a traitor…even if I must disobey in order to do it.”

Ornach’s face twisted into another stupid grin, and Crowley tensed. Ordinarily, he could take out a demon like Ornach fairly easily. But something about that punch had hurt him more than it should have. Probably some kind of enhanced curse. A one-time thing more than likely, but it was putting Crowley at a severe disadvantage.

The pain finally made Crowley drop to his knees. As Ornach advanced, his mind searched frantically for a way out of this.

Vague notions of a plan had just started to form when a blur of light rushed out in front of him, blocking Ornach’s path. Crowley blinked and put a hand up to shield his eyes which were trying to discern what he was seeing.

It turned out to be Aziraphale, although not as Crowley had grown used to seeing him. Instead of looking like a benign, fussy bookshop owner, Aziraphale was letting far more of his angelic form be visible. White light crackled around him while wings covered with blank, blue eyes unfurled.

In the angel’s hands was the flaming sword Crowley remembered from Eden. How had Aziraphale gotten that back?

The rows of eyes blinked slowly as Aziraphale opened his mouth to speak. The voice that came out was like the snap of lightening.

“Return To Hell, Demon.” The sword was raised. “Or You Shall Be Smote.”

Crowley trembled. Grateful for Aziraphale…but also terrified of what could happen next.

Chapter Text

Crowley can’t remember why he told Aziraphale about audio-books.

It happened during yet another lunch at the Ritz. Aziraphale was probably going on about some first editions he had acquired and maybe there had been a comment about how Crowley didn’t read.

Crowley did remember that he didn’t want to bring up why he didn’t read. That it was because serpentine eyes weren’t suited for reading for prolonged periods of time. He already spent enough time drawing attention away from his eyes.

Of course, Aziraphale’s first response was sympathy.

“Oh dear, and there are so many wonderful books out there. I wish there was a way I could temp….encourage you to read them.”

That had to have been the moment when audio-books came up. Back then, they were books on cassette, but the principle was the same. Aziraphale had seemed skeptical at first. Not surprising as the angel treated the physical form of books as an art equal to the stories inside them.

But it didn’t take long for him to come around to the idea.

“I suppose that would make it easier for humans to fit books into their everyday routines. Or to make them more accessible for people who might not have such an easy time reading.”

“You should try it, angel. Making one of them, I mean. You could read some of your favorite books and sell them at the shop so you wouldn’t have to part with your physical copies.”

It turned out that making a book on tape was a bit more complicated than just sitting Aziraphale in front of a tape recorder with a book. But Crowley had a friend who owned a music studio, so he was able to call in a favor. Unfortunately, on the day that Aziraphale was meant to read his first book, Crowley had been called away.

"Sorry, angel. Beelzebub has got me doing something. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

The job turned out to be…unpleasant, but Crowley found that a solid weekend drinking dulled his feelings about it.

When he returned, Aziraphale had been on assignment in Finland. The recording session Crowley had set up turned out to be the only one. After that, both of them had been too distracted to think about it again.

What Crowley never told Aziraphale though, was that he had gotten the master of that session from the studio owner who had sent it to him as an afterthought.

This tape was never allowed in his Bentley. He refused to risk it being changed.

Instead, he kept it in his flat. On long nights when Crowley wondered where the dividing line between Hell and Earth was, he would listen to Aziraphale read. That sweet voice being a light to hold onto in the darkness. A comfort he rarely could give himself.

Crowley didn’t even mind that the book in question turned out to be The Importance of Being Earnest.

 It wasn’t as if he was listening for the words.

 

Chapter Text

A smile appeared on Aziraphale’s face as he looked upward.

The forest he was standing in was an old one with trees that climbed into the sky and then wove their branches into each other. The result was a dark jade canopy that blotted out much of the midday sun.

Aziraphale’s smile grew. He was tempted to let out his wings and explore those layers of vegetation that were hanging above him. Maybe he would in a little while. For now, though, he was content to enjoy the dim, green glow of the forest floor around him.

Movement out of the corner of his eye made the angel grin even more. One of the trees had suddenly gained a scaly trunk which seemed to twist and unravel. Soon, a giant snake finished its descent and slid over to where Aziraphale was standing.

“Did you enjoy your climb, my dear?” Aziraphale asked.

He had just enough time to rub his palm along the scales on the snake’s head before the transformation began.

“Yup,” Crowley replied as soon as he had finished. “Just visiting a few familiar places.”

“Ah, so you have been here before,” Aziraphale replied.

Crowley shrugged his shoulders and reached down to take one of the angel’s hands into his.

“Never said I hadn’t. But this is the first time I’ve spent more than a few minutes here in this form. That dolt Hastur always thought I could stir up trouble in a place like this, but he didn’t want to deal with the plants. So he’d leave me to it, and I could always find a good spot for a nap.”

“Didn’t humans used to live here?” Aziraphale asked. “I could have sworn I had seen some stone ruins near the edge of that last clearing.”

“They did. Hence why I tended to stay up in the trees. Never saw any point in disturbing them.”

Aziraphale glanced down at their entwined fingers, the sight making his heart swell.

“Did you learn anything about them? The people here, I mean?”

Crowley shook his head. “I’d see them walking by once in a while, but that’s it. Honestly, I didn’t even know they had left until a few decades ago. After I figured that out, I didn’t come back. Until now, that is.”

Aziraphale looked up and glanced over at the demon. Was that…regret in his tone? Regret over something that he missed? Or maybe something he wished hadn’t been lost?

The angel squeezed his hand. “Would you like to visit the ruins? See what we can find?”

Crowley turned his head. Aziraphale doubted that he would take off those sunglasses while they were here, despite the lack of bright light.  

“Sure,” Crowley replied. It was the last thing he said for a long time.

As they approached, Aziraphale’s expression grew thoughtful. He could already sense centuries of happy memories connected everyday life which had steeped into every stone.

He hoped Crowley would eventually be able to sense it too.

Chapter Text

‘What have I done?’

Aziraphale dropped to his knees, hitting the stones beneath him with a thud. The pain that caused barely registered in the angel’s mind, smothered by the pain radiating from his heart.

He bowed his head, his hands clasped in prayer. Last night, he had done something that he vowed to never do. The one thing that Crowley ever asked of him that he simply would not do.

He had handed over a thermos of holy water to a demon.

Aziraphale shook as silent prayers fell from his lips. This morning, he had fled from Soho to the countryside, hoping that the splendor of nature could soothe his troubled soul. The forest he chose to retreat to was beautiful, an ideal refuge from the noise of civilization. He had wandered about for hours before finally stopping beside a small creek with gently flowing water. For a while, Aziraphale had found a measure of peace in getting away from everyone else and clearing his mind.

Unfortunately, his solitude also meant that he could reflect on the decision he had made. And the consequences it could have.

Aziraphale leaned forward, clutching his hands together tightly.

‘Please…I know he’s a demon, that he no longer has Heaven’s Grace, but I…he is not like the others. He cares. He truly does. Please….’

‘Please keep him safe.’

‘Don’t let him….’

Tears burned in Aziraphale’s eyes, blurring the water in the creek into a glowing wave. His heart had felt like a stone, cold and heavy, as he gave Crowley the means of his own destruction. He had only given in because he feared the alternatives: that something could go wrong during the robbery Crowley had planned. That his co-conspirators could turn on him and use the holy water for one of its original purposes.

He was trying to save Crowley. Still, there was no escaping the truth that he might be the one who ends up obliterating him from the rest of Eternity.

Aziraphale raised his head, his eyes still shining with unshed tears. He still remembered every second of the ritual he had used to bless the water. He had put his entire soul into it, including the love he felt for Crowley. At the time, he was worried that allowing his personal feelings in would dilute the potency. Once he was done, however, the holy water shimmered even brighter than this sunlit stream was now.

It was indeed the holiest.

Once he was done, he needed a vessel to carry it in. Aziraphale knew he would use a thermos, but surprised himself when the one he conjured up had a tartan print. He had run longing fingers over it.

How utterly fitting. He was giving up a piece of his own soul, after all, by doing this. Why not make it official.

Aziraphale bowed his head, resuming his prayers with vehemence.

Could an act of love destroy a demon?

Aziraphale realized he was going to find out if it could.

Chapter Text

“You sure about this, angel?”

“Certainly I am, Crowley. Dining at the Ritz is an experience everyone should have at least once in their lives. And with our being immortal, it should be far more times than that.”

Crowley grunted, jerking the steering wheel to avoid running over a woman who was walking a small, white floof of a dog.

‘Well, at least he’s making the effort to avoid pedestrians. Best to leave it at that.’

“It really is quite wonderful, as I’m sure you will soon see.”

“They got a decent wine list?”

“Of course they do,” Aziraphale sighed. “A superb wine list. But there’s far more than that, Crowley. Their dessert menu is a wonder to behold.”

Crowley nodded, his eyes never leaving the road which Aziraphale reasoned was probably a good thing.

One last burst of speed took them to their destination. Crowley parked his car, switched off the ignition, and opened the doors with a snap of his fingers. Aziraphale briefly wondered if there would be any trouble with Crowley leaving his car so near to the entrance. That is, until he remembered that there was a reason why the Bentley was never in any official traffic records.

Aziraphale got out of the car and walked toward the entrance with Crowley close behind him. The moment he walked in through the doors, the maitre d, a fastidious young man named Claude, looked up from his podium and gave him his best smile.

“Ah, welcome back, Mr. Fell. Your usual table for you and your friend then?”


 

Two hours and one multi-course meal later, Aziraphale gazed lovingly at the half empty dessert tray in front of him. The meal, as always, had been scrumptious. And as always, Crowley hadn’t eaten much of it, aside from his carefully discrete swallow of his entire main course…which he had, thankfully, managed to conceal from the woman in green who kept glancing over at them.

Instead, the demon had spent the majority of the meal steadily drinking, sometimes talking, but mostly watching him.

Now that he no longer had the distraction of a lovely meal, Aziraphale wondered if Crowley had gotten as much out of this as he had hoped. He had longed for this to be special. Well, it already was special to him, but he wanted their first dinner here together to be something meaningful for Crowley too.

“You going to eat that?” Crowley said, pointing at the last slice of angel cake.

Aziraphale smiled. “Help yourself, my dear. But please make sure our waiter isn’t checking on us this time. I think he caught a glimpse of you slipping your jaw back in place.”

Crowley nodded and pulled the plate toward him. Aziraphale looked down into his lap.

“Crowley?”

*gulp* “Hmm?”

“Did you…did you enjoy dinner?”

He looked up and realized Crowley was leaning so close to him, their noses nearly touched. Aziraphale’s heart fluttered at the hint of a smile on Crowley’s face.

“Always do, angel. Always.”

Chapter Text

It was the sound of glass crashing that broke through to Aziraphale’s consciousness.

The angel turned his eyes downward. The kitchen had been growing hotter and darker for the last couple of minutes, and Aziraphale was distressed over how hard it was becoming to think. He had meant to place the bowl onto the counter, but a wave of vertigo had distracted him before he could.

It had only just passed when the tinkle of shattering glass reached his ears.

‘Oh…I dropped the dough. And I so wanted Crowley to try this recipe.’

Aziraphale wasn’t able to dwell on this thought for long. The blackness at the edges of his vision growing, eating away the light. He tried rubbing his eyes to clear them, but the motion was clumsy. His hands missed his face entirely.

“Angel?”

Aziraphale suddenly realized that breathing had become a struggle. Good thing he didn’t really need it.

‘Was that someone talking to me? Crowley? Was that Crowley?’

He lifted eyes that really were not functioning all that well toward what he thought was the doorframe. His lips turned up into a wan smile when he saw the lean figure standing in front of him.

‘Yes, Crowley is here. But why is he looking at me like that?’

The angel fell his face fall. He wished Crowley wasn’t wearing his sunglasses. He had such lovely eyes. Aziraphale was certain that those eyes could steady him right now if he could actually see them.

“Angel…what’s wrong?”

Aziraphale blinked. He had seen Crowley mouth the words, but hadn’t heard them. And now the blackness was spreading, blotting out what was left of his vision.

Panic jolted through Aziraphale’s heart. He couldn’t bear the Darkness again. The first time had nearly cost him his sanity. This time, it was sure to destroy him.

‘No! No, please…don’t…’

‘Crowley! Crowley, please…help….’

Crowley had already faded from view, but Aziraphale reached out his hand for him anyway. Thankfully, his hearing picked that moment to return.

“Aziraphale!”

The angel gasped. Suddenly, the floor beneath him disappeared. There was nothing below his feet but a yawning pit of nothing.

He was Falling. He must be.

‘No! Please don’t let me Fall. Crowley!’

Hands, gentle and strong were grabbing hold of him, and it was the only thing that stopped Aziraphale from unraveling right then and there. He clutched at him, praying that he could hold on.

The angel’s eyes were closing, or at least he thought they were. He could feel sweat dripping down his temples, and the only sound he could hear was his heart pounding in his ears. He made one last effort to take a full breath, but only managed a soft gurgle.

Aziraphale was drifting, unconsciousness dragging him under. A hand was stroking his cheek, and Aziraphale turned his face toward it.

‘Crowley…I’m sorry, my dearest. I….’

The room was bulging, swaying, spinning into nothingness. Aziraphale let go of what he hoped was Crowley’s hand as he finally slipped away.

 

Chapter Text

He didn’t want to mention it to Crowley, but sometimes, Aziraphale had questions of his own.

These questions would drift into his brain and would stay there even if they weren’t acknowledged. Unlike Crowley, Aziraphale found comfort in keeping his questions locked into the recesses of his mind rather than asking them aloud. There, he could work on them, reason them out, and try to understand why they had appeared at his own pace. Even when that meant years or even centuries of waiting for answers, Aziraphale was not disconcerted by this.

The path to answers was another facet of those answers. Following it was a necessary step.

This was not a thought process that was approved of in Heaven. The archangels were always ready to remind him that Answers were the sole discretion of the Almighty. Questions were a diversion from Holy Truth.

‘Crowley, dearest…you never stood a chance….’

Aziraphale turned weary eyes toward the door of his bookshop. He had meant to remain open for at least another hour. To keep up appearances and all. But that was before the delivery man had showed up. Not just any delivery man either. That one. The one he had seen on the night after the Nearmageddon.

“No, I’m afraid this is definitely for you, Mr. Fell. An urgent delivery from what I understand.”

Aziraphale had reluctantly signed for the package even though his first instinct had been to run. After he had been able to work through that feeling, the angel had done his best to remain calm and center his thoughts as he opened it up.

When he saw what was in there, he immediately ejected everyone from the shop and locked the door behind him.

There was no note inside, no indication of why it had been sent to him. All he had been had been able to find was a mark on an inner wall of the box that indicated that this had been sent by the Almighty Herself.

That and his sword. The same one he had been given the day he left Heaven to guard the Eastern Gate of Eden. The one War had tried to brandish at the End of All Things. The one he had freely sent back once the Apocalypse had been thwarted.

Here it was again…and this time, Aziraphale had the distinct impression that he would not be allowed to get rid of it.

Aziraphale sat down in a chair at the back of his shop. The sword was sitting on the settee in front of him, and he found that he could not tear his gaze from it. Probably had something to do with the fact that it had been created from the same holy fire that had surrounded him as a Cherub. It was hard to completely put aside something that was once a part of you.

The arrival of his sword was an Answer. It had been left up to him to discover the Question that accompanied it.

Chapter Text

“Do you believe in that?”

Crowley blinked and turned toward Aziraphale. The angel was still watching the ceremony unfolding in front of them: the joining of two into one through the bond of marriage.

“In what? Marriage?” the demon asked. “Suppose I have to. Humans certainly aren’t giving up on it.”

“Not that,” Aziraphale replied. “I mean what he just said: love everlasting.” His eyes finally met Crowley’s. “Do you believe in that? Do you think it’s possible?”

Crowley shoved his hands into his pockets and glanced back at the happy couple of humans. The quiet determination on Anathema’s face when she looked at Newton was proof enough that she believed in it. The answering look of adoration on Newton’s face was that of someone who wanted to believe in it with every fiber of his being.

In fact, the look on Newton’s face was uncomfortably familiar to Crowley. ‘Poor bastard. I know just how you feel.’

Soon, the ceremony was over and the small group of humans and eternal beings applauded. Even Crowley who usually preferred to quietly slither away than stay all the way to the end of weddings.

Crowley sighed. He was fully aware of how fleeting love could be. The temptation of hundreds of humans away from what was supposed to be true love was a testimony to that inescapable fact. Far too often, what was supposed to be love was actually comfort or convenience. There was an occasional twinge of guilt during these jobs, but that was always dismissed by reminding himself that there wasn’t a single temptation he could craft that would work on someone who refused to be tempted.  

And the humans who were fortunate enough to find a love that endured, a love that was whole and unwavering…they always died in the end. Separated by the inevitability of mortality. Though, Crowley preferred to believe that Heaven would exercise its much touted mercy on those poor souls and let them be reunited eventually. 

Besides, Death seemed like too much of a soft touch to take such a hardened stance like that in every single case.

On a much more personal level, he hadn’t been allowed to completely forget the moment when he lost God’s Grace, a love that was supposed to be steadfast and eternal. A love that was stripped from him when he Fell.

It was the moment when he wondered if love would ever mean anything to him again.

Then Crowley went back to staring at Aziraphale. He thought of Eden, of Rome, of Soho. He thought of the first time Aziraphale touched his hand, their first kiss, and the first time they spent the night in each other’s arms.

Demons weren’t supposed to love, weren’t supposed to be capable of it. But Crowley was losing track of when he didn’t love the angel standing beside him.

“I do,” he finally said. ‘Every time I look at you.’

Aziraphale smiled at him and clasped his hand. “As do I, my dear.”  

Chapter Text

‘Why does he do this to himself?’

Crowley stood at the foot of the mountain, watching the snow swirl upwards. She had seen an expedition leave three days ago. An experienced Sherpa had accompanied them, but the blizzard that had blasted into the area meant trouble.

She had spotted Aziraphale in the village the day she had arrived. The angel was comforting a family who had lost one of their own to the mountain a few days previous. Crowley had seen the look in Aziraphale’s eyes and knew that one thought was taking firm root in his mind.

Aziraphale meant to not let it happen again. Not while he was still there.

Crowley shook her head and let her wings unfurl. The snow was already sticking to the feathers, making them heavy and damp, but she figured if she kept them moving, it wouldn’t be a problem. Shaking the snow out of her hair, she took off, flying slowly so she could scan the sides of the mountain.

She remembered when Everest was just another mountain, important to the locals, but out of the consciousness of the rest of the world. Then, it became a symbol, a proof of courage and resolute will.

And of course, this meant that humans who had no business attempting to climb such a mountain were trying it anyway.

'Bless it, Aziraphale, where are you?’

Crowley gasped. The air was becoming thin, making it harder to breathe and concentrate on her flying.

The truth was Aziraphale could take care of himself, even on a dangerous mountain like this. She knew that. But the reason she didn’t want him here was because it wasn’t just a mountain.

It was a graveyard. There were bodies frozen into the features of the mountain. Flesh had melded with rock and would likely never be separated from it.

Aziraphale didn’t belong here. It was too cold. Too much like the Heaven that Crowley remembered all too well and hoped was not the one Aziraphale saw.

She was just about to call out when she finally spotted him at last. The angel was close to the summit.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t alone…and yet he was at the same time.

Crowley landed beside him, but the angel did not look up. He was on his knees, snow beginning to blanket his shoulders and head which was bowed in prayer. When she crouched beside him, she could see tears beginning to crystallize on his cheeks.

“Angel….”

“I couldn’t save them,” Aziraphale choked out. “They left while I was still blessing the family of that poor man who had died earlier. I tried to find them, but I…I wasn’t….”

Aziraphale shook his head, his voice giving out.

Crowley swallowed hard. It was getting colder, but she doubted that Aziraphale would be moving any time soon. So she did the only thing she could think to do.

She folded her wings over the angel who wept as he prayed for the souls lost to the mountain.

Chapter Text

“I should have known that this was your doing. Of all the ridiculous, outlandish….”

“Ridiculous? Look angel, all I did was make a joke at a dinner party. How was I supposed to know that anyone would take it seriously?”

Aziraphale huffed and shook his head. Gabriel had sent him to Carthage two months ago to keep an eye on Hannibal Barca. It seemed Heaven had taken an interest in the general and had instructed him to act as an informal advisor.

It was a job Aziraphale had questioned from the start. Why should Heaven take such an interest in the military matters of humans aside from seeking ways to minimize bloodshed?  It would only complicate Heaven’s position in the ultimate battle against the influences of Hell.

Still, Aziraphale knew better than to question Her Ineffable Plan. So he insinuated himself into Hannibal’s circle and made sure to find ways to subtly instruct him on strategy. They discussed texts that had been written on the subject, and Aziraphale had engaged him in games to sharpen Hannibal’s mind.

Despite his misgivings about the work, Aziraphale was pleased at how quickly Hannibal took to the lessons he had carefully disguised. It was a pity that his mind couldn’t be turned toward more academic interests, but apparently Heaven meant to keep him on the path he had chosen.

Aziraphale had been meaning to send in his final report to Gabriel and move on to the next assignment, but he had also hoped to weave some in subliminal encouragement toward altruism to temper Hannibal’s military mindset. So he dithered and delayed to give himself time.

Then he accompanied Hannibal to a dinner and found Crawly among the guests. He had tried to remain discreet and not approach Crawly directly. Now, he wished he hadn’t been so cautious.

“Are you telling me you weren’t sent to sabotage Hannibal’s forces?” he demanded.

“Nah, you know my lot. They’re all for more battles and killing. And there’s sure to be a lot of that with that army. Beelzebub just wanted me to make sure he went through with his plans for the Romans.”

 Aziraphale shook his head again. He watched the line of elephants march toward the Alps and wondered what could have possessed Hannibal into going with such an absurd notion as traveling by pachyderm.

Crawly moved closer to him, nodding his head at the army marching off into the distance. “You ask me, that guy was looking for an excuse to go ahead with it. Anyone else would have just laughed at my elephant joke and poured themselves another cup of wine. He’s got something to prove.”

Aziraphale frowned. The problem was, he couldn’t honestly dispute what Crawly was saying. And all his instruction about the use of strategy could have just as easily been the true inspiration for this audacious plan of attack.

Sometimes, Aziraphale wondered if he did more harm than good to the humans who were supposed to be in his care.

Chapter Text

“Friends…we’re not friends….”

Could an angel lie and still not Fall?

It didn’t seem likely. Heaven had several unequivocal edicts about lying. It was even included in the Ten Commandments.

Aziraphale stood alone in the bandstand, a cold wind stinging his cheek and stirring dry leaves that were lying on the grey ground. Crowley had disappeared from view, but Aziraphale could not stop thinking about him and the last words they had shared.

“Friends…we’re not friends….”

He had meant to stick to the truth as best he could. He was an angel, after all. And yet, Aziraphale had known that those words had been a lie as soon as he had spoken them.

Well, in a technical sense they were anyway. Friends? An angel being friends with a demon? Heaven help him, he dearly wanted it to be true. He wanted to believe that someone cared for him. That someone was interested in what he thought and said. That someone actually liked his humorous turns of phrase or the inflections in his voice when he read Milton aloud.

That someone understood why he loved books and crepes and this wondrous Earth filled with terrible and beautiful humans that She had created and that he was desperate to save. 

Tears formed a film over his eyes. From what he had seen over millennia while living among humans, friends could be all of those things to each other.

Could Crowley have ever been any of those things to him?

No. No, those were selfish thoughts, and Aziraphale knew it. Their Arrangement had been dangerous enough. Now they were expecting more out of it. So much more than could ever be safe for either of them to have.

Crowley had just been the one to admit it out loud first. Of course he did. Crowley had always been the brave one. Too brave. Too willing to risk himself by reaching for more.

And now Crowley was reaching past the point that could be allowed.

Aziraphale’s hands shook. It was better to put a stop to it now before there were consequences that they couldn’t get themselves out of. Crowley might hate him for eternity, but that was preferable to his not having the option to do so.

Or was that as much of a lie as the rest of it was?

The wind picked up, causing the grass to bend and the leaves to swirl away. The sun was setting, draining what little color remained in his surroundings, and still Aziraphale could not find the will to move.

“Friends…we’re not friends….”

It might not be a lie anymore. Crowley had every reason to make sure that it wasn’t. The empty feeling in Aziraphale’s heart was not enough for him to believe it, but that might not matter.

It had been a lie when he had said it. Really, he was a very poor angel.

Did it matter if a lie could make an angel Fall?

It already felt like he had Fallen anyway.

Chapter Text

Berlin, Germany, 1941

“Ernst! How are you? How is the wife? Did she enjoy those chocolates I sent her?”

Ja….” The solider narrowed his eyes at Crowley. “You’ve got more?”

“For you, Ernst, always,” Crowley said with a grin. “And I’ve got those cigarettes you asked about last time.”

“What do you want, Crowley?” Ernst demanded, his tone flat and blunt.

Crowley was careful to not let his smile falter. Ernst was a useful conduit for information about the activities of the Gestapo. But that would stop the instant Ernst no longer believed in the casual interest Crowley supposedly had for the information he gave out.

“Nothing major. Just a few names.”

“Names? What sort of names?”

“No one important. At least no names that are connected to anyone in power, if that is what you are thinking. Tell you what, let me buy you a beer and we can discuss it.”

Ernst flicked his small, black eyes over to the clock near the entrance of the building.

“It’s only five minutes before you are off duty anyway,” Crowley assured him. “You’ll spend most of it handing in your daily reports. Come on. It will just be a couple of beers.”


 

As it turned out, it only took ten minutes for Ernst to finish his shift, accompany Crowley to the nearest bar, and get started on his second stein of beer. By then, it felt safe to go back to guiding the conversation toward what was actually on Crowley’s mind.

“I hear the Gestapo has a few civilian pests it would like to get rid of,” he said, sipping on his own beer. “I was just curious to know if they were anyone who…other organizations would also be happy to see disappear.”

Ernst laughed, his cheeks rosy. “Is that all? And here I thought you were fishing for the names of the Gestapo’s spies.”

Crowley chuckled. “Now why would I be interested in that? With how swimmingly things are going right now?”

Ernst laughed again, and Crowley was relieved that the soldier was buying it. It almost made up for the sick feeling in his stomach.

“There is one I’ve heard about,” Ernst said. “A British bookseller in London. Seems he’s been a little too eager to help undesirables make passage to the States. Now the fool is trying to lay a trap for two of our operatives in England.”

Crowley’s mouth twitched, but his expression remained friendly. “Ah yes, him. He can be a handful. I’ll assume there are plans to take care of him?”

Ernst nodded. “We’ve already sent someone to take care of it. Should be over in a about three days. Do you know he actually wanted to arrange a meeting in a church? Pitiful idiot.”

Crowley clenched his hand into a fist under the table. So, the rumors were true. The Nazis were going to try to kill Aziraphale.

Unfortunately for them, they didn’t know what lengths a demon would go to in order to rescue an angel.