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Double Date

Chapter Text

It was nearly a year since the failed apocalypse- a cool spring morning- when Aziraphale and Crowley saw their old bosses again.

They had been walking through the park back to the bookshop from a delicious breakfast, well, Azirapahle would describe it that way. Crowley hadn’t eaten anything, instead absorbing himself in a newspaper. Odd behavior for someone who, a) claimed they didn't read, and b) usually spent all their meals staring at a certain angel.

“There was a pattern to all those stories, angel. Sick people being miraculously cured? Electronic appliances acting on their own accord and electrocuting people? Something’s up,” Crowley said. He sauntered next to Aziraphale with his shoulders hunched.

Aziraphale patted his shoulder lightly, immediately relaxing the demon. “Maybe it’s simply after-effects from Armageddon? Or perhaps we should check up on Adam, see if he isn’t accidentally doing these things.”

“Adam?”

Aziraphale sighed. “The antichrist, dear.”

“Oh,” Crowley thought for a moment. “I guess we could have been wrong about him being entirely human, but it’s not centralized in Tadfield like it was- wait,” he stiffened.

Aziraphale felt it, too. They stopped and looked around the park quickly. “You sense it, too? There's someone angelic here.”

“No- yes, but no. It’s definitely demonic.” Crowley insisted. The two looked around some more until their eyes landed on the bandstand. A very tall figure and a much smaller one were facing each other on either end of it. Crowley quickly yanked Aziraphale down behind a bush with him.

“Oh no, you don’t think they’re-” Crowley hissed at Aziraphale to be quiet. “You don’t think they’re here to try and kill us again?” he continued in a hushed whisper. Aziraphale looked at Crowley while he peeked over the bush.

“Dunno, but they look to be arguing,”

“What angel and demon would be arguing in St. James’ Park?” Aziraphale popped his head over the bush to get a better look. “Well, other than us,” He couldn’t make out what they were yelling about, but he could see them clearly. A tall man with dark hair in a grey suit and scarf, and a short person in the goofiest fly hat imaginable. “Oh, dear.”

“Beelzebub and Gabriel,” Crowley breathed. “Yep, they’re definitely here for us.”

They continued to watch them trying to pick up bits of the argument. By that point Beelzebub was waving their arms in the air and pacing in circles around Gabriel, who had crossed his arms and was looking everywhere but at Beelzebub. Crowley and Aziraphale picked up the words Beelzebub shouted particularly loud.

“...can’t TRUST you….. being SCREWED OVER… and I CERTAINLY didn’t…”

Beelzebub’s face was bright red when they stopped pacing. Now Gabriel was saying something, but much quieter. They couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he was saying it in his signature smiley voice filled to the brim with salt. Beelzebub would interrupt him every few words, each time bothering him a bit more, until he was also shouting.

“...wasn’t MY FAULT… BLAMED for EVERYTHING… STUPID SIDES!”

Crowley and Aziraphale were barely trying to hide by now, too enveloped in the strange scene they were watching. Beelzebub and Gabriel were out of breath and staring intently at each other, red faces only inches apart.

Then, they were smashing their faces together like two people who had a loose grasp on what exactly kissing was. Aziraphale fell into the bush, and Crowley shot up with a “HA!”

Gabriel and Beelzebub immediately broke apart and whipped their heads to the other angel and demon. They faltered for a moment before speed-walking in opposite directions with their heads down.

Crowley had a wide grin plastered on his face and was shaking his head. “Those assholes are perfect for each other.”

“Well,” Aziraphale brushed some stray leaves from his coat. “I think we’re perfectly safe. Can’t say the same for them,” He sighed. Despite how much he disliked the two, he couldn’t help but think of how quickly angels and demons could turn on their own kind.

~

“Well, at least we have an explanation for those stories in the news. Gabriel and Beelzebub were just doing their new jobs,” Aziraphale said, leaning back into his chair. He and Crowley had been processing the incident at the bandstand on and off for a few days. They still couldn’t wrap their heads around it.

“They’re our replacements, then?” Crowley paced around the bookshop. “Would’ve thought they’d get lower ranking people.”

“After what happened with, well us, my- upstairs would want someone trustworthy and powerful. Gabriel does fit that description. And although he does not particularly care about Earth, he’s at least got some experience here.”

Crowley nodded. “Beelzebub’s the same for the most part, but they’ve got other duties as the Prince of Hell. What would make them leave that for temptation work?” He sighed. Crowley wasn’t actually too worried about Beelzebub being on Earth. They had always respected him for his unconventional demonic activities, and Crowley knew they were smart enough to keep away from him and Aziraphale after their ‘executions’. He was, on the other hand, wary of Gabriel’s presence. All he could think about was how excited he he had been to see Crowley-as-Aziraphale step into a column of hellfire. And how outraged he was when he left unscathed. “At least they’re getting a taste of their own medicine.”

Aziraphale was similarly conflicted about the two. He was already used to Gabrirel’s presence, but did not know what to expect from the Prince of Hell. They had seemed an intelligent and capable leader at the trial, but that was his only experience with them. Well, other than seeing them at the bandstand. Aziraphale couldn't help but remember all the times he met there with Crowley for one reason or another. “Yes, but I do hope they keep out of trouble. For our sake and theirs. Care for some lunch, my dear?”

“Always, angel.”

~

After only a few blocks they sensed their replacements again. They turned the corner to find an equally surprised Beelzebub and Gabriel.

“What are you doing here, traitorzz?” Beelebub squared their shoulders, balled their fists, and attempted to look an inch taller.

“Hi,” Gabriel smiled nervously. He had always seemed confident and smug to Aziraphale in Heaven, but now he was a fish out of water.

“We live here- what’s your exsscuse?” Crowley hissed. Gabriel’s nervous smile faltered and changed to confusion for a moment, but he didn’t say anything.

Beelzebub put her hands up. “We’re juzzt doing our jobzz, Crowley. The agreement for Hell to sztay out of your way sztill sztandzz,”

“We, you say? Are Heaven and Hell still… er, collaborating?” Aziraphale piped up. This made Beelzebub’s eyes go wide. They shared a quick glance with Gabriel.

“I, er, meant to szay-”

“Let’s discuss this in private. There are humans listening here,” Gabriel interrupted, to Beelzebub’s relief. He emphasized humans like it was a dirty word.

Aziraphale lit up immediately with an idea. “Oh, why don’t Crowley and I bring you to lunch? We were just on our way there!” Crowley began to object, but a stern side-eye from Aziraphale kept him quiet. Instead, he opted to watch Gabriel like an eagle through his sunglasses.

Gabriel and Beelzebub looked at each other again. They were surprisingly good at communicating without speaking, Aziraphale noted. Finally, Gabriel looked back. “Alright, Aziraphale,” He sighed condescendingly, and Crowley leaned closer to his angel.

Aziraphale beamed. “All right, it’s a date!”

Beelzebub and Gabriel didn’t know much about human culture, but they knew enough. “NO, it’zz not- thizz izz juzzt a meeting,” grumbled Beelzebub.

“Exactly- this is purely business,” Gabriel added, adjusting his scarf.

Gabriel and Beelzebub followed behind the couple, and watched them walk with complete confidence, their hands clasped together. The archangel and prince exchanged looks once more, but kept a safe distance from each other.

Chapter Text

After a few more blocks, the group arrived at the restaurant. Aziraphale was known as a regular at the high-end Italian bistro, sometimes accompanied by his quiet… boyfriend? Husband? The wait staff has bets going, and being Mr. Fell’s server was a sought-after job.

The first waitress to see him zipped up to him immediately, a bright smile on her face. “Hello, Mr. Fell! Table for two?”

“Four, actually,” He motioned to two other people she had never seen before. They didn’t seem very excited to be there, and were eyeing the lobby’s decorations warily. “How has your sister been?” He asked as he followed her to a table.

Crowley began to follow after, but stopped when Gabriel and Beelzebub didn’t follow. He still didn’t feel completely at ease in their company like Aziraphale seemed. Crowley knew exactly what the two were capable of, but this was new territory. That kiss hadn’t seemed staged, but anything was possible. “Come on, you two.”

They brought their attention away from the room, and followed the waitress. When Beelzebub walked past Crowley a stray fly buzzed in his face. “Put those away, Beelzebub. Humans don’t particularly like flies near their food,” Crowley said. They protested for a moment, but called the flies buzzing around their head nervously to leave. Crowley’s eyebrows raised. He hadn’t expected them to listen so easily.

The waitress led them to a table, laying down menus for them. Aziraphale sat down and Crowley scooted his chair as close to him as possible, then draped half of his body off the chair. Gabriel sat across from Aziraphale, Beelzebub across from Crowley. “Can I get you any drinks?” The waitress asked. She noticed the man in sunglasses who normally stared at Mr.Fell the whole meal was now giving a death glare to one of the new guests, the one in a grey suit and scarf.

Gabriel perked up. “Oh, I know how to do this! Server, can I have an alc-”

“Ah- we’ll have the cabernet sauvignon, if you please,” Aziraphale finished. The waitress nodded, and left to get the wine. The table was silent for a moment.

“So!” Gabriel clapped his hands together with the last shreds of his confidence. “What have you been doing after you postponed Armageddon?

Aziraphale was unprepared for that question. He was certainly used to Gabriel’s passive-aggressive tone, though. “Well, Crowley and I have been catching up on some human culture and technology, recently.” This was a fancy way of saying Crowley bought Aziraphale a phone and was educating him on internet culture, but Gabriel didn't need to know that. At the mention of his name, Crowley turned his attention back to Aziraphale, smiling contentedly. Beelzebub scoffed and crossed their arms. Watching this was worse than torture in Hell. Aziraphale changed the subject. “What have you been doing?”

Gabriel looked uncomfortable. “That’s- classified.”

“No it’s not,” Crowley remarked. “It’s not like either of us are gonna tell on you.”

Gabriel sighed heavily. “Oh, alright. After Armageddon didn’t happen, guess who got blamed? Me,”

“And me,” Beelzebub grumbled.

“And after we captured you two and you didn’t die, guess who got blamed for allowing an angel to-”

“-and a demon,”

“Yes, and a demon, to go native? Me… and Beelzebub.” Gabriel paused to catch his breath and wait for an apology. When none came, he grimaced and continued. “Michael got Sandalphon and Uriel to push all of the blame to me- and the Metatron… “ He looked down. “The Metatron told me I was reassigned to Earth. Just temporarily, until the could find a replacement for you.” He motioned to Aziraphale.

Beelzebub spoke up next. “Yeah, szame thing happened to me. Hazztur got orderzz from the big guy himszelf,” at the mention of Hastur’s name, the few flies still floating around Beelzebub’s head buzzed closer to their head. Like they were hiding from a hungry frog, or something. “I’m the Prince of Hell, for Heaven’zz szake!”

“Taste of you own medicine…” Crowley mumbled through a smirk.

Aziraphale gently elbowed him. “So you’ve been on Earth for…?”

“About a week,” Gabriel continued. “I got a cover working as a manager at a human store- Tescy or something. Apparently I’m pretty good at it.” He grinned.

“Yeah, you did great until you freaked out when I tried to get a job there,” Beelzebub commented. Gabriel mumbled something about temporary leave while Beelzebub cackled. “Didn’t matter though, I got a better job. I’m a garbage collector.” They bragged.

“Seems like the perfect job for you,” Crowley hummed. “I bet you get why I hated Hastur so much now.”

As Beelzebub nodded in agreement, Aziraphale noticed the waitress returning with the wine. He knew Beelzebub and Gabriel wouldn’t talk about the bandstand without a little encouragement and a lot of alcohol. The only challenge would be getting them to try some.

The conversation fell away as the waitress poured each of their glasses. Aziraphale brought the glass to his nose to swirl it and smell, then took a sip. Crowley swirled his glass on the table, returning to glaring at Gabriel. Beelzebub smelled their wine experimentally, and Gabriel smiled awkwardly, scooting the glass away from him. “Oh, do try it,” Aziraphale insisted. “If you’re going to be stationed on Earth, you’re going to need to keep up appearances. And it’s delicious.”

Gabriel smiled politely. “I should keep my corporeal form in good shape, I can’t-”

“Szcrew it, I’ll try szome,” Beelzebub snorted. They brought the glass to their lips, and took a careful sip. They squished their face at the initial taste, but quickly they raised their eyebrows in astonishment. “Not bad,” They took another, larger sip.

“Well, go on, Gabriel. You’ll enjoy it.”

Gabriel begrudgingly took a sip, and found Beelzebub was right. Not bad- good, actually. Maybe the humans were onto something with this ‘consuming organic matter’ thing. “It’s good I guess. But I’m not trying food.”

Aziraphale scrunched his face in a smile. “That’s alright. Maybe another time.” He flagged down the waitress and ordered food for himself, and asked Crowley if he wanted anything. He quickly pulled his attention away from glaring at Gabriel, but not before Aziraphale noticed.

“No thanks, angel.” The waitress made her way back to the kitchen excitedly to give her coworkers updates on Mr. Fell’s table.

“It seems such a coincidence that we’ve run into you- where are you living?” Aziraphale probed.

“Living? On Earth, obviouzzly. I don’t pop back to Hell every day,” Beelzebub finished off her first glass of wine.

“You don’t have a place you stay?”

“When I’m not performing miracles or… thwarting Beelzebub, I stay at my human job,” Gabriel said.

“You don’t have flats? Either of you?” asked Crowley. Beelzebub and Gabriel slowly shook their heads. “You’re homeless.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that,” Gabriel assured him. He took a large gulp from his wine.

“Where do you go at night?”

“I juzzt do more temptationz,” Beelzebub shrugged. “Or find a secluded garbage bin and take a nap.”

Gabriel scoffed. “Aziraphale, I gotta give you credit- this job is harder than it looks, but at least I’m doing better than them,” He motioned towards Beelzebub. “You’re revolting.”

“Revolting? I take that azz a compliment, wank-wingzz.” Beelzebub and Gabriel started a heated argument, that was mostly just throwing insults at each other. Aziraphale sighed, but took the opportunity to talk to Crowley while they were distracted.

“My dear boy, you’ve not stopped looking at Gabriel all afternoon. Is something wrong?”

“Yes, somethings wrong. The Archangel Gabriel, who mind you, recently tried to kill you, is sitting across from you!” He hissed, a worried look on his face.

“Well, I’m not worried about Beelzebub. They aren’t here to hurt us,” Aziraphale assured him.

“There’s no saying what they’ll do- especially Gabriel. I saw how he treats you, when I went up to Heaven. I know Beelzebub- they’re malevolent but consistent- won’t do anything out of line or unpredictable. But Gabriel, he’s just that. Unpredictable. And he has a lot of power to throw around, even now. I don’t want him to catch you off guard, to hurt you,” Crowley said earnestly. Aziraphale stared at him with wide eyes for a moment before responding.

“My dear, I appreciate how much you care. But I worked under Gabriel for centuries. I know what he’s like, and how to bend the truth to protect us. Trust me,” Aziraphale put his hand over Crowley’s on the table. Crowley nodded and leaned even more into Aziraphale than he already was.

Gabriel and Beelzebub were still bickering, and getting increasingly loud. Beelzebub’s previously hidden flies were whizzing around their head at full speed. Aziraphale hushed them as the food arrived, and their wine glasses were refilled.

Over the next few minutes, Gabriel and Beelzebub watched awkwardly as Aziraphale ate his lunch. Every once in a while, Crowley would steal a bite from him, which only made him roll his eyes with a smile. They listened to their conversation, flowing from one subject to another. They talked about the bookshop and the Bentley. They talked about the human friends they had made over the ages, art, science, and other human-made things.

Gabriel watched two people who seemed to have more fun every year than he did every decade. Century, even. It definitely seemed like Aziraphale didn’t spend as much time on miracles as he claimed. Was he jealous of this ex-principality? No, of course not. He didn’t like the same things he did, like food or books. But there was something Aziraphale had that Gabriel wanted. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.

Beelzebub watched them talk, too. Crowley was so calm here. They had to admit it was nice to not have hundreds of other demons breathing down their back 24/7, but they were missing something. Beelzebub understood part of why Crowley had taken up this job in the beginning, and maybe why he wouldn’t want to end it all. That didn’t mean they wished Armageddon had happened, though. Beelzebub could have had so much, but they wouldn’t have had this.

Aziraphale noticed out of the corner of his eye that Gabriel and Beelzebub’s glasses were getting empty. With a motion of his hand under the table, they filled up again. After a few more minutes of light conversation, he mentioned the elephant in the room. “Do you have an arrangement like Crowley and I did?”

They took a drunken moment to process the question. “Uhh…” Beelzebub faltered.

“No,” Gabriel huffed. “It’s completely different.”

“Oh?” Crowley leaned forward. “How so?”

“Well, we realized our jobs aren’t too different. But we don’t- didn’t have experience. On Earth. Soo we swapped tips,” Gabriel reported. “They taught me how to sit normally.”

“Annd he reminded me I’m szuppozzed to szmile at people!” Beelzebub flashed a wine-stained grin for emphasis.

“You two do seem very close since working on Earth,” Aziraphale noted. The two quickly turned red.

“Wha- no! Aziraphale, we’re on opposite sides! They’re the enemy! We just traded some tips!”

“You didn’t szzay that the other day,” Beelzzebub hiccuped. “At the bandstand.”

Gabriel looked affronted. Aziraphale and Crowley on the other hand, were stunned. Another person at the restaurant would think they had just won the lottery.

“I- I was being tempted by a demon,” Gabriel stammered out an explanation and looked away from the table. Beelzebub’s grin faded away.

“Well, then maybe I’ll get a commendation. Maybe they’ll promote me and I won’t have to ever see you again,” They mumbled.

Gabriel didn’t move. “Good.”

“Good.”

The table fell silent. Too silent for Crowley. He felt an itch to create some chaos, like when he walked past a line moving too quickly or a computer working too efficiently. “You two remind me of Aziraphale and I.”

This got Gabriel to look back. “What?”

“Well for starters, you’ve got a job on Earth after some mistake that wasn’t entirely your fault, your bosses are the pits,” He looks at Gabriel. “And you’ve convinced yourself you keep talking to the enemy for business.”

Beelzebub scowled at him but said nothing.

“If things keep playing out the same way, I’d have to guess your bosses are gonna do the same thing you did to us,” Crowley suggested.

“We didn’t prevent Armageddon!” Beelzebub objected.

“Doesn’t matter,” continued Crowley. “Tensions are high upstairs and downstairs. They’ll want another scapegoat eventually.”

Gabriel looked uncomfortable. “Heaven would never do that,”

Aziraphale burst out laughing, but quickly quieted himself. “Sorry, it’s just… yes. Yes they would.”

“If I didn’t know any better, I would say you two have been fraternizing a bit,” said Crowley. Aziraphale got the reference and raised his eyebrows in agreement.

Gabriel and Beelzebub had no idea what they were referring to, but they also had no idea what fraternizing actually meant. But with Crowley’s tone, it did not seem good.

Gabriel stood up quickly. “I have to leave. I uh, work yes. I have to work now,” he stammered out. Beelzebub muttered something along the same lines, their flies following lethargically.

Aziraphale sighed. “Yes, we understand. Make sure you sober up first, though.” He silently reprimanded Crowley for going too far, who shrugged back into his chair. Gabriel and Beelzebub squinted for a moment, wine glasses refilling, then hurried to the exit.

“Sorry I pushed ‘em a bit much, but I was right, wasn’t I?” Crowley asked. Aziraphale watched the two leave. Crowley realized he wanted to talk to them more. “Go, it’s alright.”

Aziraphale quickly caught up to them just outside the door. “Wait, please just a moment,” he called. Gabriel and Beelzebub slowed and turned back to him begrudgingly. “I do apologize for how we’ve offended you, but honestly, we don’t have anything to gain from hurting you. If there’s anything I can do-”

“It’s fine, Aziraphale. Just please stay out of our way. We have to do our jobs,” Gabriel shrugged.

Aziraphale thought of something. “I can find you places to stay! Finding a flat can be difficult in the city, or you’re always welcome by the booksh-”

“Pleazze. You’ve done enough. Juzzt leave usz alone,” Beelzebub insisted. Aziraphale nodded, a polite smile on his face, then returned to the table with Crowley.

“Finally,” Gabriel huffed. “I’m getting out of here,” he turned and walked briskly away. Beelzebub stared back at Crowley and his angel, then turned the opposite direction and left.

Chapter Text

A month passed. It was getting hotter out, so Aziraphale and Crowley stopped by an ice cream stand in St. James Park. They hadn’t heard a peep from upstairs or downstairs, and were beginning to truly relax. They could do what they wanted now without judgemental eyes boring into their backs.

Their strange encounter with Gabriel and Beelzebub had only helped them relax into what they were now. They had told each other how they felt and had laughed at how long it took to admit- but if you had called them a couple like Anathema had the other day, they would still attempt to deny it. They were immortal for someone’s sake, and these things just took time.

So, the not-quite-a-couple-but-definitely-more-than-friends made their way to the bench they usually sat at. The only problem was, it was occupied.

The Prince of Hell and Lord of the Flies sat next to the Archangel Gabriel on a bench, talking worriedly and looking straight forward. It’s not like Aziraphale and Crowley were trying to eavesdrop, but they were. They were only a few meters from the bench, but they hadn’t been noticed yet.

They sounded tense and restrained. Gabriel sat with perfect posture, but his thumbs were twiddling in his lap. Beelzebub had a few flies whizzing around them and was shaking their leg. Gabriel was speaking.

“... don’t trust me and I don’t blame them. I was disloyal, but I don’t regret it.”

“Don’t szzay that. You’re in enough trouble az it izz,”

“It’s true though,”

Beelzebub whipped their head to look at Gabriel, icy blue eyes staring into violet ones. “I hate you,” they mumbled with absolutely no hatred in their voice.

“So do I,” the words barely escaped Gabriel’s lips.

When Beelzebub turned their head, they now had a perfect view of two traitors watching them like a soap opera and eating ice cream. Beelzebub hopped out of the bench. “Hey!” Gabriel turned to see what they were looking at and quickly jumped away from them.

“What are you doing here?”

Aziraphale sighed. “We live here, as you know. Sorry to interrupt your, uh, meeting though,” Crowley simply smiled and continued to lick his ice cream. “Lovely to see you two again.”

Gabriel shuffled awkwardly. “Yeah, I guess.”

“We should catch up! I’d invite you to lunch again, but we just ate,” Aziraphale chattered. “How about later tonight? We have reservations at the Ritz!”

“And I wouldn’t be surprised if two more seats miraculously opened up,” Crowley raised his eyebrows and snapped his fingers.

Beelzebub straightened up, suspicious. “Why? We have nothing to diszcuzz.”

“Oh, just to catch up! See how our replacements are doing,” assured Aziraphale.

“Yeah, why not, Beez?” Gabriel asked.

Crowley’s jaw dropped. “Beez?”

Beelzebub’s cheeks turned crimson. “Fine. We’ll see you then.” They huffed off quickly. Gabriel beamed, and stayed to ask what time they should be there before jogging to catch up.

~

The Ritz was a lovely as Aziraphale remembered it the last time he had been there, the first day of the rest of his life. He had offhandedly mentioned to Crowley it had been an entire year since everything that happened, and he had jumped at the opportunity to celebrate at the Ritz again. He was genuinely surprised he wasn't bothered that he had invited Beelzebub and Gabriel that afternoon.

Sure Crowley would have preferred to just be with his angel all night, but how could he not pass up the opportunity? He’d had a marvelous time poking fun at their old bosses. He also saw himself in them, in the way they held back but still defended the other or how they looked at each other. It was how he looked at Aziraphale when he was engrossed in a book or agreeing to do a temptation for him.

Beelzebub and Gabriel showed up together and fashionably late, but a very safe distance apart from each other. Beelzebub claimed the seat across from Aziraphale, and Gabriel across from Crowley. As they sat down, a waiter came to take their wine orders.

Aziraphale opened his mouth to talk, but Gabriel politely (or with as much politeness as he could manage) stopped him. He looked to the waiter, “Your finest chardonnay, if you please,” The waiter nodded and left, leaving Aziraphale to give Gabriel a nod of approval.

As the night went on, the four had a real, genuinely friendly conversation. Despite the topics often being supernatural, and taking place when they were all enemies, they're civil and lighthearted. Aziraphale and Crowley learned that Gabriel and Beelzebub had managed to get flats on their own, Gabriel managed four nearby Tescos, and Beelzebub had been promoted to “Garbage Boss”. Gabriel and Beelzebub didn’t ask any direct questions about the traitor’s relationship, but they learned that Crowley had officially moved into the bookshop.

When the waiter returned for their food orders, Aziraphale ordered for himself with enough if Crowley wanted a bit or two. Before the waiter left, Beelzebub quickly skimmed the menu and ordered something too.

“You’ve certainly changed since the last time we met,” Aziraphale noted.

Gabriel shrugged. “Oh, you know, keeping up appearances and all that,”

“Yeah. Szometimezz, humanzz can come up with szome pretty good sztuff,” Beelzebub hummed as they drank their chardonnay. They’d hidden most of their flies as not to freak people out, but a few floated lazily around their head, and some sat on Gabriel, though he didn’t seem to notice.

The night continued significantly more relaxed than their last meeting, but both parties had kept away from touchy subjects.

“You’re telling me,” Aziraphale stated, “that you’ve never read Lord of the Flies? THE Lord of the Flies has never read the book?”

Beelzebub rolled their eyes. “I haven’t read a book in centuriezz. There’zz alwayz been too much paperwork and filezz to go through.”

“Oh, then I must lend you a copy. I even have a signed one!” Aziraphale offered.

“Be careful, Beelzebub. If you lose it or someone forbid it gets damaged in any way, Azi WILL smite you on the spot,” Crowley warned.

Gabriel tensed up. “That seems harsh. Especially for Aziraphale.” Crowley and Beelzebub laughed.

“It’s called a joke, big guy,” teased Crowley.

Beelzebub pointed a thumb at Gabriel. “Gabe’z sztill learning the conzzept,” They looked back to Aziraphale. “I think I will. Borrow the book, I mean. Not becauzze I like reading or anything- I juzzt need to learn more about human culture.”

“Of course,” Aziraphale smiled. They talked late into the evening, other tables coming and going around them until they were the last people there. Being alive for millennia gave you plenty of things to talk about.

Eventually, the waiter returned to their table with the check, and a tired look. Crowley reached it first and slid it over to himself. He conjured up the correct amount of money with a generous tip and settled back into his seat. Obviously any of them could have paid for it with miracled money, but it was the thought that counted, and Gabriel gave him an appreciative smile. “Thanks.”

He couldn’t tell where Crowley was looking behind his sunglasses. “Don’t mention it.”

There was a lull in the conversation. They were all tired, but happy. Beelzebub’s eyes were half-closed and they were barely sitting up, but they watched Aziraphale look at Crowley. They miracled another full glass of wine.

Gabriel looked around in thought, and broke the silence. “You were right, you know.”

“About what?” asked Crowley.

“About Heaven And Hell. They noticed all the… talking,” Gabriel sighed. Beelzebub stiffened when they realized what he was telling Aziraphala and Crowley, but thought better of it and let him continue and returned to their drink. “And the fact that it looks like we put more effort into our lives on Earth than getting intel and performing miracles or temptations is suspicious. It shouldn't be, but with tensions rising and no sign of Armageddon happening soon, they’ve been doing anything to keep people on track,”

“They’re teszzting loyaltiezz,” Beelzebub added wearily.

Gabriel nodded. “I’ve done everything I’m supposed to. But then a lower-ranking angel will let it spill that I helped a human I wasn’t supposed to or used too many miracles. I tried to do less, but there’s so much more I could do to help-!” He stopped when he realized he was nearly shouting. He finished in a much more solemn voice, “Sandalphon stopped talking to me.”

Beelzebub watched Gabriel rub his thumb in the palm of his hand. “They don’t truzzt me anymore, downsztairzz. I don’t blame them sometimezz. I haven’t met my quota on divorcez in weekzz,” They fretted. “Dagon szayzz i’m szoft.”

Aziraphale was surprised to see a lot of himself in Beelzebub. They had a lot in common for all of their differences. Hesitantly, he asked, “But, you are still loyal?” They nodded in earnest. “So what’s the problem?”

There was deathly silence for a moment. Neither Beelzebub or Gabriel wanted to answer that question. There were too many ways to answer it. The way they looked at each other was one way, the employee of the month plaque in Gabriel’s flat was another. It could even be explained by the exceptionally clean streets Beelzebub cleaned. Crowley leaned to whisper in Aziraphale’s ear. “Looks like they’ve gone native, too.”

Aziraphale’s eyes widened in realization. They were traveling down the same dangerous path Crowley and him had. He knew it was only a matter of time until Heaven and Hell would realize that, too. “Well, it all turned out fine in the end for us,” he comforted.

A thought popped into Gabriel’s head. “It did. You survived,” He looked at Beelzebub who had realized the same thing. “You went native, and survived hellfire and holy water.”

“Yeah. Not that Hell would ever do that to a Prince,” Beelzebub assured themselves. “But. If they did. Crowley, how did you do it?”

“How did you survive hellfire Aziraphale?”

The two in question silently panicked. They looked at each other, silently confirming that they could not tell their secret. Despite how much they had grown to trust Beelzebub and Gabriel, information like that would give them the ability to get back into the good graces of their offices.

Aziraphale replied. “We can’t tell you. We.. had no control over it. But I wouldn't count on you two being able to do that. I trust it will not come to that.”

“Even if it does,” Crowley struggled to finish. “We can- we’ll protect you.”

Gabriel was surprised but relieved. He relaxed back in his chair. As he did, his arm brushed Beelzebub’s, and they both quickly retracted. There was barely anyone left in the restaurant but they both knew there were eyes everywhere.

“You’d really do that? Why?” asked Gabriel.

Crowley shrugged. “If you really want to stay here, together, you’re on our side now.”

“Together? I want to sztay on Earth but we're not- I don’t like-” Beelzebub stammered. “Together,” they repeated, quieter.

“We should leave,” Gabriel said hastily.

~

Outside it had gotten darker and colder. Crowley shivered as he walked to the Bentley, so Aziraphale squished to his side. He fit perfectly into his side as Crowley extended an arm over his shoulder, and Aziraphale rested his head on the crook of Crowley’s neck.

“If they do need our help, we could get them some insurance,” Crowley suggested.

Aziraphale looked pained for a second, reminded of Crowley’s request all those years ago. “It would be a risk.”

“But they’d be safer.”

Aziraphale was pensive. “Maybe. Let’s talk about it another time.”

“Of course, angel.”

Gabriel and Beelzebub were walking a few feet behind Crowley and Aziraphale, watching them hold each other. Their flats were both nearby and within walking distance and they didn’t have to go different directions for a few more blocks.

They didn’t say anything, and didn’t look at each other. Gabriel was walking with his arms swinging at his sides, Beelzebub with their arms crossed. They nonchalantly let them fall to their side, too.

Their hands brushed each other a few times before their pinkies caught each other, and they held on tightly.