The end time had passed, for now at least. The day of the apocalypse, the day of judgement, all of it. There was something to be said for surviving the end of the world. That is, of course, “What now?”
Which was, naturally, exactly what Crowley said to Aziraphale as they made their way back toward the book shop. They had surely drank themselves into a considerable stupor while at The Ritz, and in celebration of the world not ending, they continued to endure what was now the late evening in their drunken haze. Thinking complex thoughts in such a state was never a good idea, but neither Aziraphale nor Crowley thought themselves particularly good anymore.
Aziraphale slowed his pace at Crowley’s words and looked to his companion. The topic wasn’t a far divorce from whatever they’d been on about at dinner, accounting for the fact that the world not ending was still considerable and recent news. But reflecting upon the aftermath for himself, not the world around, was… Well, it was something.
“Well?” Crowley prodded. Aziraphale had obviously slipped back into his thoughts. He tended to drone on to himself normally, and his internal monologue became increasingly louder and stronger the further intoxicated he became.
“I suppose I’ll continue running my shop,” he finally answered, popping the “p” slightly too hard. Though Azipraphale couldn’t see Crowley’s eyes behind the near-opaque lenses, he could practically feel the roll of his eyes. “I’m sure you haven’t got any better ideas,” he said a bit indignantly.
Crowley’s lip twitched practically imperceptibly in something that may have been a grin on another face. “I think I’d like to travel a bit, now that we don’t have to babysit the Antichrist for another decade. Maybe see what new the earth has to offer, if we’re supposed to be on its side now.”
Aziraphale hummed in response. “Yes, well, I quite like London.” He did not say that he didn’t like the idea of Crowley leaving London and, effectively, leaving him. “I’d think I should keep an eye on my bookshop, since it seemed to have burned down last time I tried to go any considerable distance away from it.”
“Oh stooop,” Crowley dragged out, his words slurring slightly as they neared the book shop. “Your books will be fine without you. You should come with me,” he continued, opening the very locked front doors with an easy wave of his hand. The shop was much cleaner now, post-apocalypse, but it would quickly gain back the clutter that Aziraphale seemed to thrive in. Haphazard stacks of ancient tomes and children’s books would be scattered across the shop by next week. There was something about the particular way Aziraphale piled his books that didn’t feel messy to Crowley. It felt more lived in, something like a home. For a fleeting moment he understood, perhaps, why Aziraphale didn’t want to leave his carefully curated mess of a bookstore behind. Crowley had no such attachment to his flat. Sure, he liked his big imposing chair and his plants but his residence was no home, it was just a place to store the few things he’d collected in the mortal realm that he liked.
“Come with you…” Aziraphale seemed to think out loud. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” he said, as he failed to think of a reason why it was a bad one.
“Oh c’mon, it’s not like our ex-bosses will care we’re consorting now. I’m sure we’ve given them more significant things to worry about now anyway,” Crowley goaded.
“I have to concede, it is tempting--” Aziraphale began, but he was cut off by the pop of another bottle as Crowley worked the cork out of a bottle of red he’d bought, still sitting in a Tesco bag on the floor.
“Tempt is what I do best,” Crowley said with a smile, taking a far-too-long drink out of the bottle before passing it to his companion. “How long has it been since you’ve seen Greece? Or America? I’ve never even been to Canada.”
“Is there anything even to do in Canada?” Aziraphale wondered aloud, taking a drink of the wine himself. He mentally chided himself for buying such a cheap bottle, but the label had looked so nice.
“Can’t hurt to find out, can it?” Crowley asked back. “We’ve got all the time in the world. Well, in this world. No idea how much time that’s s’posed to be.”
Aziraphale made a noncommittal noise of agreement. The world seemed to have an expiration date which Heaven and Hell were trying to bring closer and closer but… Well, they had right now, didn’t they?
“You really want to travel again? To see the world?” Aziraphale asked. Personally he was quite happy here, in his book shop, surrounded by the creature comforts he’d grown accustomed to. But was he happy because of those things, or because they were part of his life with Crowley? Surely he hadn’t established himself as that much of a domestic, had he?
“I’d love to, but-” Crowley began, but he cut himself off this time, taking the bottle from Aziraphale and swallowing down a considerable portion. “I’d really prefer to see it with you.” God, Satan, whatever; he was so drunk.
They both were, which was perhaps why Aziraphale replied, “Well, no reason to stay in London if you’re not here.”
“D’you mean that?” Crowley cocked his head slightly. He sounded absolutely soft.
“Of course I do, you know I do.”
“I dunno I guess,” Crowley started, suddenly feeling very not-drunk-enough for this. “I thought there, for a minute, you may not want to. You didn’t want to go with me… Before the, you know, not-end of the world.” His words came out a bit flat.
“I couldn’t abandon the earth it’s not… It’s not who I am, and it’s certainly not who you are.” Suddenly Aziraphale couldn’t help but remember Crowley hadn’t actually left Earth at what seemed so definitely to be the end times, but rather he’d gotten drunk and seemed more concerned that Aziraphale had died. Perhaps--
Perhaps the affections Aziraphale felt for Crowley weren’t so unrequited. Best friend, Crowley had called him. Best friend. There was something to that Aziraphale quite liked. There was also something about it that felt maddeningly like it wasn’t enough. Aziraphale suddenly felt a bit dizzy, perhaps sick.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t worry about this all right now,” he said quickly, to fill the silence that seemed to have grown between them. “I’d like to sit down and relax for a moment now that the excitement’s all over.”
Crowley nodded in response. “Yeah, of course,” his reply came as offhanded, but he couldn’t help but be stuck with his own thoughts, just a little. There certainly was a lot he’d held in over the past few days, but it was nothing compared to that which he’d kept to himself over the past few centuries. He refused to let a grocery store wine loosen his tongue. Not today. He was certainly not going to ruin whatever had been cultivated here. He’d save his personal frustrations for his plants.
“Y’know,” Crowley began as he followed Aziraphale to a well-worn sofa, tucked away in a back room. “I just wanted to leave to protect you. Well, us. Mostly me, of course. But you. Too. You know. Friends and all that nonsense.” He felt his face warm up as he babbled. Fuck. He’d messed that sentence up considerably. He shifted uncomfortably in his spot on the couch next to the angel.
“Mostly you, of course,” Aziraphale repeated. It was in drunken moments like these when he wondered if Crowley ever really felt something with more depth than a passing interest in him. Of course they were ‘friends’ but that was out of necessity more than anything, wasn’t it? It had to be. Aziraphale had wondered on this particular topic for more hours than he preferred to admit to, but it was hard not to.
“Crowley, how do you feel about me? Really?” he asked plainly.
“That’s a loaded question, innit?” Crowley asked. His words were slurred but there was a careful panic in his voice. Controlled but present.
“Like, are we friends? Really, I mean. I’m quite fond of you but I suppose… I suppose I have no idea how much of this you do out of obligation.”
“Obligation?!” Crowley asked, sounded almost comically offended. “Aziraphale, you dumb bastard, I love you.” The words fell out of his mouth before he had the time to think. He considered sputtering and trying to clean up whatever mess he’d surely made, but instead Crowley took another considerable drink of wine. The bottle felt concerningly light now.
“Oh fuck off,” Aziraphale said in disbelief. “You love you car more than you love me. I just wanted to know that we’re friends. You don’t need to have a laugh at me.”
“No, I…” Crowley was in too deep. Fuck it. “No, I mean what I said. You’re my oldest friend. My only friend, really.” He sucked in a deep breath, cringing at the real emotion he could hear in his own voice. It was embarrassing.
“Friend…” Aziraphale repeated. “Crowley, let me ask you, would you be too repulsed if I said I, perhaps, cared for you slightly moreso than that?” Baring his feelings made Aziraphale feel naked. If his world hadn’t ended in Armageddon, maybe this was how he would go. Embarrassed to death. It felt like a fitting way for him to end himself.
The uncomfortable silence had regrown in the room. Though he could hardly bring himself to, he chose to look at Crowley, trying to read him for any sign of emotion through the cold silence his question had been greeted with. Crowley’s face was flushed slightly from the wine. His cheeks always turned pink in an awkward way that should have clashed with his fiery hair though it never did. His eyes were still hidden behind his glasses, which felt unfair and a bit abnormal since they were in private. Perhaps he was hiding his disgust behind those lenses.
“I shouldn’t have said anything, I’m terribly sorr--” he was cut off.
“Don’t you dare apologize, angel. Do you mean that?”
“Of course I do,” Aziraphale said. Love in this manner had never truly been on the table for angels, but now without anyone watching… It felt unfair to keep these feelings to himself. “I didn’t intend for my affection to be quite so… Significant.”
“I am quite tempting,” Crowley cut in, quirking an eyebrow upward, teasing.Aziraphale’s face fell a bit and Crowley began to scramble, ungracefully. “I just mean that I guess I, uh, well… I guess I feel a bit the same.” He laughed. It was so bloody embarrassing. He couldn’t not laugh at himself. The laugh he was having was cut off significantly early by the press of another face against his own. Crowley locked up. He became a brick wall. He was not drunk enough to face these feelings; however, he was conversely way too drunk to handle kissing Aziraphale back in this moment.
Aziraphale pulled back, his cheeks far rosier than what was his normal.He was adorable. The end of the world had been a very real problem only a number of days ago, but at the point Aziraphale pulled back, Crowley was having a hard time remembering there were any problems in the world at all. For a fleeting moment he thought maybe, just maybe, one of his prayers had been answered.
Aziraphale’s mouth moved like he intended to say words, but nothing coherent came out. Instead of doing anything intelligent, he just continued to stare at his own reflection in Crowley’s lenses. They sat in a tangibly awkward silence for what felt like another 6,000 years. Seconds and centuries all blended together for beings like them, but this was unprecedented.
“That’s new,” Crowley finally said.
“It is,” replied the angel. “New isn’t entirely bad, is it?”
“Not at all. I live for new. New’s the--” Crowley was cut off again by Aziraphale’s lips on his own. This time he had the bright idea to kiss back. It was nice. It was new. These feelings were old as time but the expression--the touch--it was all brand new. Precious, fleeting moments. There was nothing cement about the actions to grasp onto and it felt entirely too breakable. Too new. Crowley grasped Aziraphale’s lapels, anchoring himself. He felt like he may explode any minute; like his immortal life finally came to its fruition, his purpose had been served. If his only success was kissing an angel, this angel, his angel, then he had succeeded. The apocalypse could come tomorrow for all he cared. As long as this singular moment was cemented into the permanence of history, everything had been unbelievably worth it.
Aziraphale placed a hand, cool and soft, on Crowley’s neck and held him impossibly closer. Crowley, in turn, placed his hands slightly above Aziraphale’s waist, just above his waistband. He was slightly soft and absolutely perfect. They were a mess of limbs and the small couch wasn’t necessarily comfortable with them both piled on top of it. Aziraphale somehow found himself rather perched on top of Crowley, and when he finally pulled back again they were both breathing heavily. Strictly speaking, they probably didn’t have to breathe, but it was a habit at this point and there was something so enticing about making each other breathless.
“So this is--”
“Are we going to--”
They spoke over each other. Then, they laughed. It felt impossible not to. There was too much tension, too much riding on this one stupid moment, not to just ruin it. And they absolutely did. There had been some heat, something that felt concerningly primal, in the room. That feeling had been shattered like glass as they sat there on the couch, laughing over the horrible tragedy of time lost and wasted.
“It’s such a shame,” Aziraphale began. “That we weren’t this way sooner.” He made a vague gesture to their bodies, still tangled together.
“Can’t blame us,” Crowley replied. “Technically we’ve been enemies up until a day or so ago.”
“Yes, well, I suppose we’ll just have to make up for lost time.”
“I suppose we will,” Crowley replied, pulling the angel into another long kiss.