In 1887, Aziraphale had a sudden and remarkable desire for crepes. The proper kind, from France.
It was a desire he’d had before, but it wasn’t the desire that marked itself out in his mind as different. What was different was that he wanted to get crepes with Crowley, and he had not seen Crowley in close to twenty-five years. That in and of itself was also not odd. The two of them fell through the years like a lazy snow, drifting into and out of each other’s orbit as circumstance and the ineffable plan saw fit. Except that after that business in the French Revolution, and once Aziraphale had settled into England properly with his bookshop, they had become quite cosy indeed.
Once they hit the early 1800s, Aziraphale rarely went more than a few months without Crowley showing up at his door to trade work. Or, on the rare occasion when he remembered or cared that Hell could actually see what he was doing, sending around his carte de visite to request they meet somewhere more neutral. Because Crowley had always taken a keen interest in the fashions and affectations of humans—you have to know what a person wants if you’re going to pull them in, angel—the photo on his cards changed every year or so, which meant that Aziraphale had a small collection of increasingly dapper albumin prints of his adversary.
He kept these in a safe in his back room along with the candles he used to communicate with heaven, a handwritten copy of Dante’s Paradiso before the edits had been made, several of the more powerful reliquaries he’d found in his travels that were too dangerous to fall into enemy hands, and a handful of feathers from Crowley’s wings because they were too dangerous to fall into human hands.
The feathers had been left behind in 1832 after Crowley had come to him in a dark mood from some sort of job Hell had given him. Crowley hadn’t wanted to talk about it, but he had wanted to drink an extraordinary amount of wine and then in a fit of nervous energy, groom himself. Aziraphale had not been able to find the words to ask what it was Crowley had done that he needed so desperately to get off of himself, but he had found the will, desire even, to help Crowley with the work. The demon had helped him with so many things over the years, after all. It was the least he could do.
He had offered Crowley the pulled and broken feathers, but Crowley had merely looked at them and shook his head. If I could give them all away, and this blasted body with it, I would, he’d said. Get rid of them, they’ll only get blood on your hands too.
Aziraphale, perhaps overly sentimental due to more alcohol and touch than he was used to, had not been able to bring himself to get rid of them. So he put them away where no one could get their hands on them. After all, it only took one ignoble human doing a small amount of the old magic before Hell broke loose literally, and neither angel nor demon wanted that.
That had been a strange and heavy night for both of them, and as such had not been discussed again.
Now here he was, decades later, considering his safe from across the room and wondering what other things Crowley had decided not to discuss with him. Not that he could blame him really after their last meeting. Aziraphale could perhaps have been a bit more understanding about Crowley’s request, but in his defense it had terrified him. A world without Crowley, whether he went by his own hand or Hell’s, was not a world that Aziraphale was nearly as interested in as the one that had Crowley in it. Regret, he knew, was heavy enough without responsibility attached.
Crowley would come around. Crowley always did. He might even remember to send a card first.
In 1912 Aziraphale found a brooch in his bookshop. It had been tucked behind a signed first edition copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray, which he had not had cause to move in close to fifteen years. He didn’t strictly have cause to move it now, except that he was feeling a little homesick for something he couldn’t quite put his finger on and old Oscar had always had a knack for rendering the uncanny as both terrifying and desirable in a way that made Aziraphale feel close to the source of his own power.
He assumed the brooch had been lost, but its placement felt strangely meticulous. It would be one thing to find a brooch on the floor or in a dusty corner of his desk or on the pavement outside, but to find one tucked so neatly behind a book on a high shelf that he rarely let customers near if he could help it, was quite remarkable. More remarkable was the fact that it appeared to be a piece of mourning jewellery: several locks of brown hair on a white field folded neatly into Prince of Wales feathers and framed with intricately looping yellow gold.
Coming across it felt like an odd bit of luck indeed. He could, if he wished, miracle it back to its owner. Probably he could arrange it so that it would tuck itself somewhere equally as obscure as he’d found it in his own shop where its discovery could be attributed entirely to providence. But he was curious now, and that combined with an uncertain mood would never end in him staying in for the evening.
He breathed a prayer of finding across the surface of the piece of jewellery, then donned his hat and coat and locked up the shop for the day. It was shaping up to be a nice evening. The colors of the sunset gave the sky a burnished copper look and the breeze held the feeling of anticipation that always came with autumn slipping in under summer’s skirts. He decided to walk and let the brooch guide him.
About half an hour later he found himself outside of a shop in Hatton Garden, which was only a surprise in so much as mourning jewellery as old as he assumed this piece was had often been made at home (to ensure the hair of one’s beloved actually was) and he’d expected to be knocking on someone’s door and possibly interrupting their dinner. But perhaps even if the hair work had been done in a home, the rest of it had to have come from somewhere.
No bell sounded when he entered, but a clerk was already at the desk helping a customer. The gentleman in front of Aziraphale was tall and slim, with close cropped curling auburn hair. He was in all black, with a black derby hat sitting on the counter. Aziraphale’s human approximate heart began to beat wildly. Without a thought, he placed the hand holding the brooch over his chest, trying to calm the raucous palpitations, and only succeeded in stabbing himself with the pin on the brooch.
“Ah,” he hissed.
The jeweller and customer turned to look at him with polite concern. The customer was, of course, not Crowley.
“Apologies,” he mumbled, and gave them a quick wave before turning and making himself look interested in anything else while he waited.
Human bodies, he decided, were traitorous. How did humans manage to run around in them without giving themselves away at every turn? And why had he been so taken by a complete stranger’s silhouette? It wasn’t as if he wouldn’t have been able to feel Crowley if he was around. He could always feel it when Crowley was around. Demonic energy radiated at close to the same frequency that angelic energy did, and these days Crowley’s vibrated more closely to his own than some of the other angels’ did. Probably, he thought, because of their continued proximity.
The problem was that Crowley hadn’t been around for going on fifty years now and the absence was really starting to sting. Aziraphale was not Crowley’s keeper, and Crowley did most things without discussing them with Aziraphale, unless he wanted or needed help of some sort, or unless he was bored. This absence was not, as Azirapahle had been telling himself the entire time, unusual.
Except for how it was because they had argued. Aziraphale hated arguing. It was unbecoming of a gentleman, for one thing. And he was very bad at it, for another. He also hated denying Crowley things, because he was equally as bad at that, but he’d had his reasons and they were still sound. He’d gone over them a thousand times in the years since he’d last seen his friend and he couldn’t find a flaw in anything he had said. Not from his perspective anyway.
Except, again, for the glaringly obvious flaw of no Crowley.
It would be a fitting feather in the ineffable’s hat if, in trying to keep Crowley close to him, he had actually driven him away. They’d had disagreements before, of course. They were, after all, on opposite sides of a six thousand year old bid for supremacy over the universe and all of the souls in it. But in general their disagreements could be solved with another bottle of wine and a little bit of magic.
“Excuse me, sir?” a voice said.
Aziraphale looked over his shoulder to find he was alone in the shop with the clerk. He’d been so lost in his worry he hadn’t even noticed the other customer leaving.
“Yes, of course.” He stepped up to the counter and placed the brooch on it with a soft click. “I’m hoping you might be able to help. I run a bookshop and it seems that one of my customers has lost this. I think it might have come from here so I’m wondering if you might be able to get it back to them for me.”
The clerk picked up the brooch and turned it over. “It might be something we’ve made. Would have been some time ago judging by the fashion of it. I can take a look in the records and contact you once I’ve researched it proper. Let you know whether I can return or it or see if you’d like it back.”
“That would be wonderful,” Aziraphale said.
“If you’ll just give me your address, or your telephone if you have one.”
Aziraphale did not have one. He’d heard about them, of course, but he hadn’t seen a point in having one installed in the shop. If Crowley had been around, he probably would have insisted on it the minute it was almost possible. A phone would have just appeared in Aziraphale’s back room with miraculous access to only one other number. Aziraphale made a note to look into acquiring one, just in case.
He scribbled his address onto a slip of paper and slid it across the counter. As he did his eyes landed on a necklace in one of the cases. The pendant was much the same as the brooch, but instead of hair meant to look like feathers, the artist had used different colored feathers to create the image of a crane standing in a marsh. Not the feathers of a crane certainly, but that likely didn’t matter. The outer edge was a yellow gold floral motif and just as ornate as the one on the brooch.
“This one is interesting,” he said, tapping his finger on the glass.
“I think so,” the clerk agreed. “Had to beg the old man to make it after I saw something like it at an exhibition. Overly sentimental, he called it, but I think it’s pretty. And certainly not anymore sentimental than this sort of thing.” He poked at the brooch with the end of the pen.
“No, it’s lovely,” Aziraphale said. “Would he do another, do you think? How would I go about commissioning one from you?”
“That will be another form for the particulars, sir.”
The clerk collected the brooch and bustled around from counter to back room and back. It gave Aziraphale time to solidify the impulsive idea that was forming itself in his head.
Not a crane, he didn’t think, though it would have been fitting given how tall and thin—and on occasion, graceful—Crowley was. No, there had to be something more thematically appropriate. A heron perhaps? The lines would be similar but the meaning would be different. Though, if he was going for pure remembrance then perhaps….
When the clerk returned with the form Aziraphale filled everything in precisely, then thanked the man and stepped back out into the evening feeling a good bit lighter existentially than he had when he’d found the brooch to begin with. The night had gone dark while he was inside and the lamplighters had been by. The flickering of the lights threw shadows that danced around Aziraphale like the cherubim as he made his way back to Soho.
If he let himself think about it, he felt foolish. After all, he and Crowley might be living among the humans, but they were not human. They had a greater understanding of time and permanence and as such did not have the human propensity to want to live beyond themselves, to outstrip their own soulful existence by leaving bits of themselves scattered across the world.
Unlike when most humans died, when the two of them were finally done in for real there would be nothing left that was fit for jewellery, or even for placing in a pretty urn. Crowley, being a demon who knew that, surely did not have any aspirations of remembrance. For his part, Aziraphale didn’t either.
But Aziraphale had not been done in yet. He was still here, and he didn’t know if he was going to hear from Crowley again. In a pure sense he was in mourning. He had lost someone that he cared for very much. Whether he had lost him to some cruel fate or to his own ineptitude, the outcome was likely to be the same. He was alone down here again, truly alone for the first time in six thousand years, and he didn’t like it. He had allowed himself so many indulgences over the years, why not this one as well?
Two weeks later a package was delivered to Aziraphale’s bookshop. He locked the door and carried it to his back room where he placed it on his desk to undo the twine and paper wrapping. Inside there was a thin white gold chain with a large-ish pendant hanging from it. The pendant itself was more beautiful than he had imagined it would be. The outer edge was an ouroboros in the same white gold as a chain. The field inside was made from mother of pearl that luminesced nicely in the low warm light of his back room. Rendered against that in delicate feather work was an owl, talons out, descending on a crop of grass in a field. It was all done in black, as if the tableau was happening in the shadow of the moon’s light, except for the owl’s eyes which were a bright gold.
Aziraphale placed the pendant on the desk and crossed the room to his safe, where he removed one of Crowley’s feathers. He brought it back and laid it on top of the pendant, then he thought precisely about what he wanted to happen, and snapped his fingers. The next second, the feather was gone and the pendant emanated a soft glow, which faded out after a moment or so.
He studied his handiwork. He’d only been tracing the design, but he had very little experience with art of any kind and hadn’t been sure how well it would turn out. It looked spectacular. Somehow the beak and claws on the owl looked even sharper rendered in Crowley’s vane, because of course they did. Everything about Crowley was sharp.
Aziraphale slipped the chain over his neck and tucked the pendant part of it underneath his shirt so that cool back of it was sitting against his skin. He hoped against hope that one day he would feel very foolish about this indeed.
In 1938 Aziraphale got a visit from the home office.
Uriel was standing too close to him. Michael was a few paces behind Uriel, eyeing the contents of the bookshop as if they might catch wing rot by just being there. They were both fastidiously dressed, Michael’s immaculate white lace cuffs trailed from the sleeves of their sky grey jacket a good several inches. Uriel was in lavender, gold spattered down their throat and across the backs of their hands, which were resting on their hips as a show of disappointment.
Aziraphale knew that next to them he looked incredibly shabby, too sloppy to truly be an angel of import, except that he was and they all knew it. He was very important, Heaven’s emissary here on earth. He was a linchpin, which was why Uriel settled for letting their disdain for his appearance show only in their eyes and the down tilt of their mouth.
“You smell different,” they said, and tilted their head like a hawk considering a rabbit.
Aziraphale tried to remember if he had ever been a hawk. He certainly had the wings for it, but he was no longer sure if he wanted to have the constitution. He was about to stammer something about how he always smelled different. It was these human approximate bodies, they collected things: dirt and dust and wet and smell. Before he could say anything he was distracted by a sudden burst of warmth that seemed to come from nowhere and felt as if it was burrowing into his chest.
A twin feeling of elation and panic rose in his throat as he realized it was coming from the pendant. He reached out with his essence to see if he could feel any demonic energy close by, but there was nothing. Just the radiating background warmth of the earth and the cool feeling of the two angels that stood in front of him. Relieved, he thanked God that it wouldn’t be a repeat of the bookshop opening incident at least.
“Been down here too long. We should go,” Michael said, stepping up behind Uriel. They gently rested a hand on Uriel’s shoulder, a gesture which among angels of rank simply meant come with me and held no hint of being an order. Uriel stood up straight, dropped their arms to their sides at a loose attention anyway. Michael peered at Aziraphale over Uriel’s shoulder. “I keep telling Gabriel to put someone new down here, but he believes in you, for some reason.”
“My stellar record inspiring good works?” Aziraphale tried, hoping that the growing heat against his chest wasn’t noticeable to the other two celestial beings.
Michael narrowed their eyes.
“Just remember what your orders are,” Uriel said. They took a step back and Michael neatly stepped to the side so that they could stand together. They both crossed their arms behind their backs. “The outcome of this human war is integral to the outcome of the celestial war to come.”
“Oh, yes, of course,” Aziraphale said, nodding with an exaggerated quickness. “Can I get you two anything? While you’re here? Tea perhaps?”
Michael sneered and Uriel looked upward, as if asking permission to yank Aziraphale from his corporeal form and end this nonsense once and for all.
“I think you’ve given us quite enough,” Michael said. There was a flash of light and they were gone.
Aziraphale double checked to make sure there weren’t any humans loitering between the shelves and then he rushed to his back room to unbutton his shirt and remove the pendant. Once he had it in his hands he could tell that it was definitely the source of the sudden warmth, and also that it was glowing.
“Oh, just incredible,” he whispered.
He hadn’t meant to create something that could track Crowley, and in an accurate sense he hadn’t really. He still couldn’t feel Crowley’s energy when he reached out, didn’t know where the demon was exactly, but the pendant was responding to something, a matching frequency or life force most likely. Which had to mean that Crowley was too far away to be of any practical use to Aziraphale, but that he had come back onto the line, as it were, from wherever he had been the last close to eighty years.
Aziraphale’s unnecessary heart skipped several beats. He hoped that wherever Crowley was, he was whole and not causing more trouble than Aziraphale himself could undo.
In 1941, three years after the pendant had started to warm, Crowley entered a church of his own volition to save Aziraphale from discorporation. It was more than Aziraphale would ever have asked of him, and as such was still hard for Aziraphale to believe, even though they were currently in the Bentley together as Crowley steered their way through the rubble and eeriness that was London after an incredibly destructive attack. Or, when it was necessary, steered London around them.
The pendant felt heavy around Aziraphale’s neck. He wondered if Crowley could sense it the way it could sense Crowley. He turned his head to look out the passenger side window, up at the sky, down at the books in his lap, anywhere but to where Crowley was seated stiffly to his right. He was not the only one still smarting from their last meeting, it seemed.
“How did you know how to find me?”
“I always know how to find you,” Crowley said, voice low with warning. You’re too close to a wound you don’t want to open, it implied. “Have to keep an eye on the adversary, don’t I?”
Aziraphale took a breath to steel himself. Might as well plunge ahead. They’d already been bombed by Nazis. It was hard to believe anything could top that for painful realities this evening. “You haven’t had an eye on me in the last eighty years.”
“How do you know?” Crowley asked, peevish.
“Really, my dear,” Aziraphale said quietly. He clutched the case with the books in it to his chest.
Crowley let out a low growl. “Fine, fine, I just needed a break from things. I was asleep, okay? I started thinking and then I tired of thinking and then I decided to stop thinking for a while. Is that fine with you?”
“I was worried about you.”
Around them the humans were rousing: inspecting damage, checking for casualties, admonishing each other for slips of war time decorum, as if any one of them could have caused this destruction. As if it hadn’t taken the hatred and planning of thousands upon thousands of people over the years. Sometimes Aziraphale wasn’t sure whether he was helping or hindering the humans. He definitely wasn’t sure anymore which he was supposed to be doing.
Inside the Bentley the silence was heavy. Aziraphale hazarded a glance at Crowley. His glasses had slipped down his nose. His jaw was clenched. The brim of his hat was tilted slightly askew and Aziraphale didn’t know if that was rakishly on purpose or annoyingly on accident. He wanted to reach out and fix it. He wanted a lot of things. He’d been wanting them for a long time, but he hadn’t quite worked out yet what he would do if he could have them, so he kept his hands to himself.
“I’m fine,” Crowley said. “Look at me, I’m fine.”
“I didn’t know that!” Aziraphale snapped testily, letting his frustration with himself take over. “I’ve spent the last ten years especially imagining increasingly horrible discorporations they might have put you through!” Oh, he hated the way it sounded like he was whining. Was he whining? Would Crowley care?
“Well don’t tell Hell,” Crowley snapped back. “Satan knows there’s not an imagination among them. I’m sure I’d just go the usual way if I was to get the axe.”
Aziraphale, who still remembered the too close sound of a guillotine blade like he’d just heard it yesterday, brought his hand to his neck in discomfort. “Really, they’d use an axe?”
“It’s an expression, angel. They’d probably just toss me to the hounds.”
“My word!” Aziraphale exclaimed, because it felt like the thing that should come next.
Truth be told, he was too distracted by Crowley’s use of the little name he always called him to come up with anything more productive to say. Angel. It was a statement of fact, but it never felt that way when Crowley said it. It always seemed to imply a missing modifier—a possessiveness or earnestness or annoyance—depending how and when he said it. Aziraphale could lose whole days to trying to suss out the way Crowley meant it in any given conversation, and had on occasion.
It was just one of those little things about Crowley, about their relationship, that confused Aziraphale’s sense of propriety and desire. He wanted, but of course he did. Crowley was a demon. His whole purpose was to make people want things. It was possible he didn’t even realize that his presence affected Aziraphale the way it did, because that was simply meant to be a feature of his presence. The warmth from the pendant pulsed in response.
Crowley started laughing then, which managed to unnerve Aziraphale more than anything that had happened in the several hours preceding. “You’re so easy.”
“I am not,” Aziraphale said, indignant.
“You are,” Crowley crowed, decisive.
Silence creeped back into the car. Aziraphale had almost come to the point of settling into it when Crowley spoke up again.
“I missed you too,” he said.
And oh, Aziraphale’s useless heart soared at that, as well as something deeper within him that was more integral to the celestial being he was underneath it all. Crowley parked in front of the bookshop and the Bentley’s engine quieted.
Aziraphale gripped the handle on the case in his lap and looked at Crowley across the cab. He seemed more relaxed than he had been just several blocks before. “Do you want to come in? Make up for lost time.”
Crowley leaned back from the wheel and gave Aziraphale an appraising look that he’d first seen in ancient Rome. It was a look that said I’m interested in seeing what sort of disaster this could end in.
“I don’t have any dreams for you to pick apart,” he warned. “Demons don’t dream.”
Aziraphale beamed at him and reached for the handle to let himself out. “Oh, are you sure?”
Crowley climbed out of the car and slammed the door behind him, but it didn’t entirely hide his quiet one syllable response.
In 1945 some humans declared that the fighting was done. Or part of it, at least, in so much as there ever could be an end to fighting as long as there were still people around to fight, and as long as there were still horrors to come. There would always be horrors to come, some of them sooner than others, but for the time being the humans nearest Aziraphale were in the streets shouting and singing and kissing. The whole city sank into that relief and Aziraphale could hardly move across his shop without being hit by a new wave of love and joy from every corner.
He was so overwhelmed by it all that he barely noticed when Crowley appeared at his door, knocking and demanding to be let in.
“What?” Crowley asked when Aziraphale opened the shop to him. “Not out getting a secondary high off all this bald emotion?” He pushed his way past Aziraphale and into the front room. His words were meant to be sarcastic, but something in Crowley was vibrating along the same wavelength as the generalized feeling of relief and it took the bite out of his words.
“Hello,” Aziraphale said pointedly. “Can I take your jacket?”
Crowley snapped his fingers impatiently and his jacket appeared on the coat rack in the corner of the shop. This left him in shirtsleeves, which he promptly rolled up. He loosened his tie as well, taking on an air of elegant dishevelment that Aziraphale absolutely was not prepared for. He turned towards the back room to go and find the wine glasses.
Crowley followed after him. “Which side do you suppose is claiming this one?”
“I don’t think there’s really room for argument, do you?” Aziraphale found the glasses and placed them onto the small table between the couch and his chair.
“I think you know as well as I do that there are always a great many evils committed in the name of good.” Crowley picked up one of the glasses and mock toasted Aziraphale as he perched on the arm of the couch and planted his feet on the seat cushions.
“Convincing oneself of one’s inherent rightness does not make it true,” Aziraphale said.
“I can drink to that,” Crowley replied. “Just as soon as you put something into this glass.”
“Yes, of course,” Aziraphale said. “I was looking for something a little special. Let me check upstairs.”
“Are you looking for champagne?” Crowley called after him. “I dare say that’s all got the Klaebisch over the last several years!” Then he laughed at his own joke.
It took Aziraphale a few minutes to locate what he was looking for, a red Gran Reserva from Spain that he’d been saving for something a little more exciting than their usual falling together. By the time he found it, the sound and emotion from both inside and outside the shop seemed to have dimmed itself and he returned down the stairs into a bubble of relative emotional quiet.
“Really, Crowley,” Aziraphale said in response to the joke, which he felt had been a completely tasteless comment about the champagne, considering.
Crowley did not answer. He was standing with his back to Aziraphale, the lines of him pulled up tight and sharp, shoulders high as if his strings had been yanked up. That explained the dimming then. Nothing was quieter, it was just that Crowley’s mood had gotten louder and drowned out everything else.
Aziraphale placed the bottle on the table next to the glasses. “Crowley?”
Crowley spun around on his heel and Aziraphale noticed two things that made his chest clench in worry. The first was that Crowley had removed his glasses and his golden eyes were wide and unblinking, his brow furrowed in a silent but intense question. The second was that Crowley’s hand was open, held out in front of him, and the owl pendant was resting in it. It glowed brightly. Aziraphale wondered if it was burning him. If it even could.
“I can explain,” Aziraphale said, though he was certain he could not. The words were there, of course, he just didn’t know if he had the constitution to say them out loud.
Crowley looked down at the pendant in his hands, then he looked back up at Aziraphale. “Why?”
“I, well, you remember what a fashion it was with humans and the hair, for remembrance you know. That was happening for hundreds of years before, and well, that’s one of those amazing things about humans, right? Their ability to want to outlive themselves? Leave a mark? Leave pieces of themselves all over the place, or I should say, more pieces and places than the usual. There will always be pieces, because humans are so full of parts, and—”
Crowley raised his empty hand in the air and then lowered it again. “No, shut up, angel.”
Aziraphale shut up.
“Why is there a necklace in your bookshop with my feathers in it? The important parts of that question being your bookshop and my feathers.”
“You left them, remember? In 1832, after that business across the ocean.”
Crowley’s face darkened and he closed his fist around the pendant. “I thought I told you to get rid of those.”
“I couldn’t!” Aziraphale wrung his hands. “You can’t just leave our feathers out, you know that! Anything could happen!”
“Anything did happen,” Crowley said. His voice was so quiet and he was so still that Aziraphale really was starting to fear him, just a little bit. “You had it in the church, didn’t you?”
“That makes sense I suppose. I thought. You were, you felt too much like me. I had worried something had happened to you. To—” He waved his hands back over his shoulders to indicate his wings.
“Oh,” Aziraphale said. “No, no, nothing like that. I just—”
“You just what?”
“I told you.” Aziraphale felt his throat close up. He forced the words out and they sounded every bit as strangled as they felt. “I missed you.”
“You thought I’d died,” Crowley said. The tilt of his head changed slightly and his face softened. “I didn’t think about that. I just wanted to keep my side from bothering me. It didn’t occur to me that you wouldn’t be able to feel me either.”
“The whole world felt so empty,” Aziraphale said. His shoulders sagged. “You were there. You were always there. And then you asked me for something that could end you, and then you weren’t.”
In spite of what certain songs would have the world believe, angels did not generally cry. Still, Aziraphale felt close to it right at that moment. There was some heretofore hidden wellspring inside of him that was bubbling up and threatening to overtake every last bit of sense that he had.
“I’m sorry, angel. I am still utterly baffled by this,” he said, gesturing with the hand still holding the pendant. “But I am sorry about the other thing.”
“It’s alright,” Aziraphale said. “You just um, you just keep that, okay? It’s made from you, it should belong to you.”
He busied himself with opening and pouring the wine. When he’d finished everything and settled into his favorite chair Crowley was still standing in the same spot as if he’d been petrified there. It was all entirely too sober for Aziraphale, who drank too much wine in his first gulp to really enjoy it.
“No,” Crowley said quietly. “I never would have made something this beautiful with a part of myself. Never would’ve thought it could be done. I hardly know what to do with it. You should keep it.” He turned and placed it back on the shelf where Aziraphale had carelessly left it in the first place. The glow died down once he moved away from it.
Crowley sank onto the couch and sat on it almost properly, which made Aziraphale feel entirely off kilter. He picked up his glass and swirled the wine around for a few moments, staring into it.
“I do wish you’d been there to see the 1890s,” Aziraphale said, trying to push them past this spot of discomfort.
“So flamboyant. You would have loved it. I can just imagine what your calling cards would have been like.”
“Why did you take it off?” Crowley said, still stuck.
Aziraphale scrubbed his face with his hands. He was going to need something stronger than wine to get him through the night. “It gets warm around you. And you were around all the time again. It was distracting.”
“Warm?” Crowley said thoughtfully. “How about that. And here I am, the cold-blooded one, always coming to you for that.”
“You don’t either,” Aziraphale said.
Crowley looked at him for a long moment, the black slitted pupils tightened and then widened back to normal.
“You gave away your sword, but it doesn’t matter. You burn without it. It’s part of what made me notice you in the first place.”
“Other than me being the only person on that big wall?” Aziraphale asked.
“Other than that,” Crowley said. Then he upended his glass of wine down his throat and sat forward to pour more. He topped Aziraphale’s glass off as well, without asking.
Quite suddenly, all of the love and joy that Crowley’s suspicion had been drowning out flooded back into the shop. It knocked Aziraphale’s breath away, and it took him several minutes to recover. By the time he did Crowley was talking excitedly away about some young man by the name of Fleming who he’d had placed at the Admiralty in 1939, and who he was trying to needle into writing books.
“Do you want to go out?” Aziraphale said, cutting Crowley off mid-sentence.
Instead of complaining, Crowley tilted his head back onto the couch and said, “Yeah, alright. It’s going to be hell no matter where we go, though. The humans are gonna keep themselves frenzied for days, I bet.”
“Oh, I have faith we’ll find somewhere to settle in, the two of us,” Aziraphale said. Because it wouldn’t happen tonight and it might not happen for some time yet, but he was finally starting to believe that eventually they could.