#1: On the Hand
Aziraphale wasn't quite sure what to make of the beautiful creature he was speaking with. On some level he knew that demons were made of the same basic stock as angels, and that a demon that was trying very carefully not to look grotesque might still feel rather like an angel to his more ethereal senses—but he simply didn't read anything evil at all from the statuesque being who'd been gently teasing him about losing—giving away—his flaming sword, despite the rather lowly moniker of Crawly. Even the snake eyes struck Aziraphale as fascinating and beautiful.
He'd been alone at the Gate for a long time and it was the first real conversation he'd had in too long. Honestly, most angels didn't go in for conversation, even in close quarters in Heaven, just efficient communication. No one ever wanted to stay around and hear about the Garden and all the fascinating creatures in it beyond his required reports.
So Aziraphale stayed and talked to the demon for far longer than he knew he should. He shouldn't have been consorting with the adversary at all. He had just been so lonely, and Crawly actually seemed interested, entertained, even, by what he had to say.
It was all too soon that Crawly let out a sigh. “Well. They'll be upset that I'm wasting so much time, unless I was corrupting you,” he admitted. “They'll be wanting me back in Hell with a report.”
“I understand about that,” Aziraphale said, before realizing he shouldn't understand a demon any more than he should fraternize with one. “And you can't corrupt me.”
Crawly chuckled a little. “I'm good at my job,” he countered, though Aziraphale thought he detected a note of regret in his voice. “Until next time, angel.” He grabbed Aziraphale's hand, and before the angel could protest, he'd bent at the waist dramatically and pressed a kiss to Aziraphale's knuckles.
“What do you mean, next time?!” Aziraphale sputtered.
“You haven't seen the last of me,” Crawly insisted, grinning at him as he dropped his hand. “You're the only company worth a damn.”
“I'm worth no such thing!”
“Goodbye, angel,” Crawly said, as he left Aziraphale blushing and exasperated.
#2: On the Forehead
Aziraphale knew he should never question the Almighty's ineffable plan. Death had its place, even genocide, apparently, judging by all the bodies left half-buried in the mud left now that the flood waters had receded.
Aziraphale had been tasked with tending to them, making sure they were buried with dignity and not left to rot where they could become an infection hazard for the eight remaining humans in the area. Even with miracle-ing the bodies under the ground and setting only the simplest of stone markers, it was an arduous undertaking. There were hundreds of thousands of them, and sometimes the bodies weren't whole. There were children, even babies, and elders that would've been just as helpless. Aziraphale found that his human body's stomach felt rather sour as the hours wore on, thinking about how many of the people surely hadn't deserved this punishment—but that wasn't for him to decide, he kept reminding himself.
The sun was still low in the sky when Aziraphale sensed another living presence. He turned, expecting to have to make excuses to one of Noah's family, only to see sun glinting off of coppery curls. “Crawly!”
“Crowley,” the demon reminded him, gently but insistently.
“Right,” Aziraphale said. “Crowley. Sorry.”
Crowley wasn't looking at him. “The Almighty really did kill the kids,” he said, shaking his head. “Never would've believed it if I wasn't seeing it. I'll be damned. Well, you know—more damned.”
Aziraphale nodded. “I know.” They'd seen each other a few times over the years, but this was twice in less than two months and it made him a little nervous. “What are you doing out here?”
Crowley shrugged. “They want a report on the collateral damage,” he said. “Why are you out here?”
“They need to be laid to rest,” Aziraphale said. “It's quite time-consuming, with the markers...”
Crowley's mouth dropped open in a soft “oh.” “You're really putting them all in the ground? One at a time?”
Aziraphale sighed, surveying how many he had left. “I'm trying to keep the families together, but yes...”
“Very noble, angel,” Crowley said. “Let me help you.”
Aziraphale turned back to look at him in shock. “What?”
“It's in my side's interest to keep the eight alive, try to get them to go on and sin, and procreate and make more sinners,” Crowley pointed out. “And this...it'll help with the records downstairs, get everyone accounted for...” He was trying very desperately to make it sound like he didn't have the ulterior motive of spending a little more time with the angel. “The sooner it's done, the sooner we can both get back to our regular jobs. You know you'd rather be helping the living ones.”
“Well...” Aziraphale pursed his lips. “That's true. This is...just so heartbreaking.” He didn't mention the questioning thoughts that had been whirling in his head all day.
“Right. Show me where you're putting them,” Crowley said.
Aziraphale showed him his organization system quickly, but the task took them days. They were near each other, but spoke very little. Aziraphale decided that Heaven couldn't have too much issue so long as they weren't conversing much. His work was getting done twice as fast, and Crowley couldn't be out tempting people so long as he was helping, so all in all, it was actually a net good, even if Aziraphale was selfishly appreciating the company—it still felt like company, even if they weren't talking much.
They double-checked the lands afterward to make sure they hadn't missed anyone. “You're sure we're meant to leave the animals?” Crowley asked.
“Something about the skeletons,” Aziraphale said with a shrug. “In the future scientists will find them and be very confused.”
Crowley nodded absently. “Ah, right. Think I heard about that,” he said, certain his side had exerted some influence over the whole affair.
Aziraphale ran both hands over his face with a heavy sigh, reflecting his heavy heart. “This just all seems so...unnecessary. Surely if they'd known, if they'd been told, they would've changed their ways.”
“Sometimes people just can't help it,” Crowley said. “You've done a good thing here, angel, taking care of them. They were still people.”
Aziraphale gave him a tired smile. “You helped so much,” he pointed out.
“Oh no, can't have that getting around,” Crowley said. “I don't do good things. You're the only angel here.” He couldn't bring himself to look Aziraphale in the eye just then.
“Right.” Aziraphale shook his head. “I suppose I can't really thank you, since you weren't doing anything good.”
“Of course not, and I have to be getting back,” Crowley said. He was going to be hearing about his slow work from his superiors as it was, but it had been worth every excoriating word that was coming to spend time around the angel again. “I'm sure we'll cross paths again.” They always seemed to, just as Crowley would be losing hope of ever seeing him again.
“Both our sides will keep us busy with the repopulation,” Aziraphale mused. “You're probably right.”
Crowley nodded. “Right. Right.” He was already missing the companionship and he hadn't left.
Aziraphale sighed again and turned to leave.
“Don't be sad, angel,” Crowley said. “You've done your part. You couldn't have changed it.” He impulsively put a hand on Aziraphale's shoulder and turned him so they were facing each other, and pressed a gentle kiss to his forehead, trying to comfort him.
Aziraphale closed his eyes for a second. How could the kiss of a demon feel so much like a blessing? He took a step back before he could think anything more blasphemous. He didn't even have time to protest before Crowley was gone, though, both of them knowing they'd crossed a line, or gotten dangerously close to it.
#3: On Top of the Head
Crowley watched a bit incredulously as Aziraphale put away a third crepe. Sure, the angel was absolutely right, the crepes were rubbish anywhere but Paris, still, but they'd had brioche, too, and the crepes had been filled with berries and cream, and they'd had tea, of course. He'd eaten, too, but he just didn't have an appreciation for food and drink the way Aziraphale did, unless it was wine, wine was a different thing entirely—wine helped him forget for a time why they didn't do this more often. As the centuries passed they seemed to get more time together, but it still didn't feel like enough.
“This has been lovely,” Aziraphale told him, and wiped his mouth with a napkin daintily.
Crowley smiled. The food had been great, but what really made the day for him was knowing his idiot angel was safe from discorporation. “It has,” he agreed, instead of admitting it. “Are you back to England, then? I still have business here, what with the revolution and all.”
Aziraphale wrinkled his nose. “Making sure they're still getting use out of their head-cutting machines.”
Crowley sighed. “Well, that...that's mostly their doing, I don't...you know, when they're dead they stop sinning, so...”
“Right.” Aziraphale put his napkin down on the table. “Well, I do have to get back...they're going to be upset I was away from my post this long, probably.”
Crowley rose from his chair. “I'll try to get back to London,” he said, quietly, not wanting the locals to peg him for execution, too. “You...you try to keep this attached.” He bent and kissed the top of Aziraphale's head, catching a whiff of the sweet smell of his hair. Of course he smelled good, Crowley wasn't sure why it caught him off guard.
Aziraphale looked up at him with wide eyes.
“The whole world would be boring if you got discorporated,” Crowley told him, voice still low. “Bad enough being on the continent.” He gave Aziraphale a reproachful look. “Make sure and wear the right clothes next time. And practice your French.”
Aziraphale smiled warmly. “Right. I'll remember.”
#4: On the Nose
Crowley did eventually make his way back to England. About a century after the crepes, he found Aziraphale in a gentlemen's club.
“Wouldn't have thought they'd want you here,” he told the angel. “This is...nearly a den of iniquity.”
“It's no such thing!” Aziraphale protested. “And I'm just blending in. I even learned to dance.”
Crowley's eyebrows shot up towards his hairline. “You what?”
Aziraphale puffed up proudly. “I can do the gavotte.” He looked towards the dance floor. “When they play one, I'll show you. You can dance with me.”
Crowley didn't know the dance, but he was too intrigued to say no to the offer, anything that would let him be close to Aziraphale. “Well all right...should we get a drink while we wait?” he suggested.
Aziraphale agreed heartily.
The trouble was, the gavotte was already declining in popularity, and it was a long time before the band started playing the required music, and by then the angel and the demon were both beyond tipsy. Still, Aziraphale mostly kept up with the steps, and Crowley faked it well enough, copying the other dancers.
At the end of the music, Crowley noticed the other dancers all pairing off and sharing quick kisses. He turned to Aziraphale expectantly. “Angel?”
Aziraphale was blushing brightly. He couldn't kiss a demon no matter how tempting the idea was. That was exactly the problem, Crowley was there to be tempting and he couldn't allow it to work on him. Still, it wouldn't be blending in if he refused. After a second of panic, Aziraphale leaned in and kissed the tip of Crowley's nose. That wouldn't count. He couldn't get in trouble for that, it barely counted at all. Hopefully.
Crowley rolled his eyes a little. “All right, angel.” It hung in the air between them. They both wanted more. But Aziraphale couldn't. He didn't want to fall, and Crowley wouldn't pull him down.
#5: On the Back
Aziraphale fell into the daily habit of taking an evening walk around Soho at some point in the nineteen-eighties. He liked to keep tabs on things. Word from upstairs was that Armageddon was getting close—not that it had ever been far, really, but now it was close in terms the current humans would comprehend, and it made Aziraphale nervous. No harm in making sure all his ducks were in a row, that the neighborhood was safe, as much as he could manage.
He rounded a corner and heard a commotion—more than usual, even for the street that housed a noisy bar. In fact, that seemed to be the source of the scuffle. Aziraphale saw two tall, burly men accosting a man with coppery red hair hanging to his shoulders and a denim jacket, who seemed to be wearing sunglasses at night—Crowley! Well, he couldn't have that. He ran up close as one of the men shoved Crowley against the stone wall. The demon flinched and turned his face away, preparing to be hit, but Aziraphale interrupted. “Anthony!”
Crowley whipped his head around to look at Aziraphale. “Mr. Fell!” He'd never been clear on what the A or Z was supposed to stand for.
“Gentlemen, please let my friend down,” Aziraphale said, in a commanding tone, as he quietly miracled their knives into rubber. “I'm sure whatever your argument with him is, it's not worth spending the night with the police.”
“Yeah, the poofter's right,” the shorter of the two men said. “C'mon, mate, let's just clear out.”
The other man growled, and when he pulled back a fist to punch Crowley anyway, Aziraphale pulled the demon against himself, tugging him away in a flash, and the man hit stone instead, wailing in pain as he broke a finger or two. Aziraphale healed him miraculously, even as he held Crowley tight and pressed a kiss to his back in relief.
Crowley smirked a little. “Let's just part ways, gentlemen?” he suggested. “Sorry for any misunderstanding.”
The man scowled at him, but left with his friend, clutching his hand and cursing.
“What was that about?” Aziraphale asked, reluctantly letting Crowley out of his grasp.
“Botched temptation,” Crowley muttered, rubbing the back of his neck, color rising to his cheeks. The eighties looked good on him, leather pants and denim jacket, t-shirt with the neck cut halfway down his chest. “Thought maybe if they had condoms they'd finally go for it. They resented the implication when I offered them. Hope they get some before they jump the gun, this AIDS thing is a nasty business.”
Aziraphale frowned. “Yes, it's awful,” he agreed. “Your side?”
Crowley nodded. “Pestilence handed the crown to Pollution, but he hasn't gone anywhere. But the humans are blaming your side, can you believe it? Divine retribution. For loving. Humanity thinks some love deserves to be punished.” He shook his head in disbelief. “Can I buy you a drink for getting my arse out of that scrape?”
Aziraphale considered it for a moment. “Well, I do want to blend in,” he mused.
Crowley smirked a little. “Come on, angel. Next bar down the block is gay.”
and #1: On the Lips
Somehow, the world didn't end on Saturday.
Sunday was a happy day for most people, lazing around and enjoying the bright new world they didn't know they nearly missed out on. It was quite a bit more stressful for Crowley and Aziraphale than anyone else, but their plan worked and they got away from their respective sides scot-free. They had their lunch at the Ritz and then decided that there was no reason to part ways just then. Crowley followed Aziraphale home to the bookshop, where Aziraphale set about taking an inventory, not sure how many books had been surreptitiously added, or if any had been taken away.
There were several plush chairs set around the shop for reading, and Crowley moved from chair to chair as Aziraphale flitted around, trying to stay close to the angel. It wasn't very long before he got bored, though, and he got up and swanned over to the phonograph. He flicked through the records on the shelf behind its stand and put one on to start playing.
Aziraphale came around the corner of a shelf to see what he was doing. “Crowley?”
Crowley grinned at him. “Just thought I'd put on a little music.” He stepped closer and took the pile of books in Aziraphale's arms, and set them gently on the chair he'd last left. “We're celebrating. We should dance.”
“I still only know the gavotte,” Aziraphale said, slowly.
Crowley shrugged. “We'll just...” He came close and slipped an arm around the angel's waist. “Just—take my hand...” He laced their fingers together. Their form was much more like teenagers at a school dance than a proper waltz form, but Aziraphale pressed closer anyway, his other hand sliding up Crowley's back to rest on his shoulder. His feet followed as Crowley's started slowly shuffling in something like a box step, and they managed at least to not step on each other.
“Never thought we'd be the last two standing at the end of the world,” Crowley said, softly.
“The world didn't end,” Aziraphale reminded him.
“I know. But that means that whatever fate was written for us is over,” Crowley pointed out. “We have a future stretching out ahead of us and none of it has been planned for us. They're not going to watch us anymore, they don't even know what we're supposed to be doing any more than we do.”
Aziraphale fought, and failed, to keep from smiling. “I suppose you're right. So...what do you suggest we do next?”
“I know what I want to do,” Crowley murmured. “If...if you'll finally let me. If you feel safe now.”
Aziraphale had, less than four hours previously, been dragged to Hell, taken a bath, and demanded that an archangel miracle him a bath towel. He'd never felt more powerful in all six thousand years of his existence. “Let you?” he asked.
Crowley nodded. “I've wanted to kiss you from the moment we met, angel. Back in Eden. But I never wanted to make you fall.”
Aziraphale's mouth fell open with a soft gasp, even though he'd known. He'd always known. He just had never been willing to admit it.
Crowley was silent, waiting for an answer.
Aziraphale closed his eyes and tipped his head up to kiss him.
Crowley melted against him, holding him a little closer, letting go of Aziraphale's hand to curl his fingers through his hair instead, all pretense of dancing gone.
Aziraphale pulled back with a soft breath. “Oh, Crowley...”
Crowley chuckled softly. “So I wasn't imagining that you wanted it, too.”
“For a long time,” Aziraphale admitted.
“Everything we've done, we've done for a long time,” Crowley said. “Like loving you, I've done for as long as I've known you.”
Aziraphale kissed him a second time.