Sam was not an acquisitions specialist, but his current supervisor had asked if he would please go over to Soho and see if this one particular book was available. The regional headquarters in London had needed an extra hand with a large donation that had come in, so he was there for the time being. Sam still hadn’t chosen a location assignment, but since he had determined he wanted to be in Europe somewhere, the Alexandria Organisation had sent him to the UK for the interim.
Before he left, Maria, one of the intake coordinators had cautioned him about the bookseller. Apparently, the man didn’t really like to sell his books, and Sam was only to buy the book if the seller had more than one copy. She had also asked if Sam could please pass on some information about the organisation in hopes that the owner of the bookshop would consider working with them. He had taken the address and with a little help from his new company phone, he took the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square. Sam stared as he stood in front of the nondescript building housing the supposed bookshop. He thought ‘supposed’ only because most of the blinds were closed. The open sign was up, but he snorted as he neared and read the wall of text underneath.
He moved to open the door, but paused minutely as something pinged his weird-o-meter. The place felt strange as he walked inside. There was a distinct air of unwelcomeness, and the cavernous space inside the shop felt bigger than the actual building. Sam thought he should find the owner first, but decided that finding the book, or books, he was looking for would be more prudent. That way he wouldn’t waste the man’s time looking for it, if it wasn’t here or if there was only a single copy. Glancing around, Sam looked through the stacks of books. At first they did not seem to have any rhyme or reason as to the way they were organised, but then he seemed to find a commonality.
Sam moved further into the store, following his instinct as to where he thought the book might be. He passed a massive snake sleeping in the only spot of sunlight beaming down from a skylight. He only noted it briefly when one eye opened to follow him around. Having seen stranger things, he smiled at it and was slightly puzzled when it lifted it head to watch him. Turning a corner, Sam quite literally ran into the book he was looking for. He had to check up to keep from running face first into the bookshelf that he could have sworn wasn’t there a moment ago.
As he reached up to grab the book, he heard behind him, “May I help you, young man?” The tone was churlish and bordered on icy.
Sam was startled that someone had managed to sneak up on him and he was relieved when he managed not to lash out. It had not been the first time he had heard those words, but it was the first time someone had said them to him as an adult. He didn’t mask his flinch well as he spun around; the otherworldliness that he had vaguely been feeling suddenly narrowed. "Oh, you're an angel," he murmured. The being that looked like a middle aged gentlemen narrowed his eyes. Sam inhaled sharply as his mind filled with memories that weren't his. He second-hand recognised this angel. Sam's heart sped up; he had to get away. Angels never meant anything good for him, which was funny in and of itself, as he had the sudden irrational urge to scream for Castiel to get him out of here. He shoved it aside, as that was no longer an option in his current life.
Aziraphale for his part, had started out the encounter most certainly vexed that someone was trying to buy one of his books. As soon as the young man had turned around, he was surprised to feel the presence of another angel. It wasn't strong, more like an echo. Then the young man spoke his words and he was irritated for another reason. He was slightly chagrined with the tone and delivery of his first words, and mundane ones at that! It took him a moment to realise the feeling of panic permeating the air, suddenly the sensation of another angel grew and burst like a soap bubble. Aziraphale looked at the young man in consternation; he reached out to calm him down but drew away again when met with a violent recoil.
"I'm not going to harm you," he whispered softly. He watched the young man visibly try and calm himself. "What is your name?"
"Sam," he replied, desperately looking everywhere for escape. Sam hoped that since the angel hadn't attacked him by now, he might be able to talk his way out of this. The celestial being didn't seem to know who he was.
"Oh? Sam, I'm,"
"Aziraphale, of the Eastern Gate," Sam interrupted, slowly sliding in what he remembered was the direction of the door. He mentally cursed that his mouth had overridden his common sense.
Aziraphale's eyebrows went way up, and then dove down and his voice hardened, "Stop." Sam froze in place. "How do you know that? Who are you, you seem to know me, but I don't remember you." The angel closed his eyes, and Sam prepared to bolt. They popped open a moment later and looked at him in askance. "Why do you feel like that?"
Sam gave up, there was no way he was going to get out of here without some explanation. He slumped against to bookshelf and looked at the floor. "I was possessed by Gadreel at one point."
"Oh my, I didn't think they would let him out of prison." Aziraphale looked the young man up and down as Sam barked out a laugh, "Not to change the subject, and we will get back to that, but did I say your words? You said mine."
"Yes you said them." Sam was beginning to hyperventilate again. This was not good, another angel. He was meant for yet another angel. When would he be able to get away from them? Sam caught a movement in the corner of his eye. Looking toward it he watched as the snake from earlier coalesced into a tall sharp looking man shaped being with outrageous red hair and yellow eyes. "Demon," he gasped, before crumbling to the floor. He tried to breathe but his lungs just couldn't seem to get enough air.
Dark spots clouded his vision, and the last thing he heard before he passed out was, "Angel, for somebody's sake, what is going on here?"
"Oh dear, Crowley help me." Aziraphale moaned at him as he looked at the young man on the floor.
Crowley looked around and huffed. He snapped his fingers and simultaneously the shop sign flipped to Closed, the door locked and they found themselves in Aziraphale's bedroom upstairs. The angel squeaked and exclaimed, "I'll make some tea."
Crowley held out his hand blocking the door. "Explain first, he's not going to need any right now."
Aziraphale gesticulated wildly toward the bed. "He's my other soulmate Crowley! And apparently he's terrified of me! Me of all things! He knew I was an angel before I told him and he's been possessed by an angel before." Zira wrung his hands and looked at his demon like a kicked puppy.
Crowley was intrigued and slightly put out. He knew Aziraphale had another soulmark but he had never really given it much thought. As for the possession bit, not many people could claim that. Looking at the young man something itched in his brain. "Did he say who he was? Which angel it was?"
"Sam, he said his name was Sam. As for the angel, Gadreel; I thought I'd never hear that name again either. That's why I was so shocked. Only angels knew the names of the other guardians of Eden." Aziraphale looked like he had seen a ghost.
Crowley, on the other hand, had fixated on his first train of thought, the second one having ruthlessly been stomped down, and put aside for now. "Sam. Sam. Why does that name sound familiar?" he rubbed at his chin. "Hmm, wonder if Gadreel's still sore about being tricked into letting me in the garden?"
He was interrupted by a groggy voice, "Probably not, considering he's dead." The young man rolled over on the bed and faced the two of them.
"Oh, oh dear. I'm sorry to hear that." Aziraphale actually was not sure how he felt about that. He wasn't overly fond of the Guardian of the Western Gate, but he did remember the other angel's loyalty and rather stoic nature. He had never really resented Crowley for Gadreel's imprisonment, but he had occasionally felt bad about it. He looked at the young man on the bed, "How are you feeling?"
"Confused." Sam quipped. "Apparently, I am in the same room as the Serpent of Eden, who unless he's changed bodies recently is not Satan. Also, my soulmate is an angel who doesn't seem to know who I am."
"Yeah, I'm not him, even though, at least to humans, he took credit for that temptation." Crowley's brain stuttered to a stop, Aziraphale looked at him in askance as he stared at Sam in astonishment. "Winchester! I've heard of you, you disappeared a little less than year or so ago." Sam cringed and Zira looked at the demon in consternation. Crowley turned to the angel, "He's Lucifer's preferred vessel here on earth; locked the boss in Hell’s Cage with Michael. Good work there.”
"Well I imagine that is some story to tell." Aziraphale looked at Sam curiously,
Sam thought he should explain, "Listen, I can tell you all about it but..." he trailed off, he was so tired, he didn't want to repeat the story again, relive it again." Can't you just look and see?" he said helplessly.
"I could, if that is what you want my dear. I just didn't want to be that invasive. It's an intimate thing sharing your thoughts and experiences with another. I wouldn't just do it without your consent." Sam looked at him incredulously, an angel talking about consent. Maybe he was a bit jaded, his therapist had said that it seemed like he was very good at giving people the benefit of the doubt, but that he needed to also do it within reason. Aziraphale stepped forward and Sam inhaled deeply to brace himself. The angel very gently placed his hands on either side of Sam's face, frowning when Sam flinched slightly.
Aziraphale was mightily concerned, the first memories to spill into his head were not childhood ones. In the rare times he had ever looked into someone's mind, the memories were normally presented chronologically. Instead, Aziraphale burned. Sam had been to Hell, literally. The young man had spent over a century being tortured relentlessly. From there on it was a confused jumble of moments. Great Plans, childhood neglect, blood drinking, thinly veiled suicide attempts, angelic and demonic possession, all of it tumbled like an immeasurable rockslide into his head. He had to let go when the Sam's terror of being stalked by his brother almost overwhelmed him. In a very flat tone, the angel remarked, "Well that was enlightening."
Crowley had been watching them the entire time. He could see the unmitigated terror on Sam's face and Aziraphale's immense sorrow at what he was also seeing. His angel's expression changed to one of holy rage before blanking out into a very neutral, one hundred percent fake smile. The demon was almost sure that someone was going to receive a smiting sometime in the future.
Aziraphale must have seen the too intrigued look on his face. He turned to his younger soulmate, "Sam, do you mind if I share some this with Crowley in the future since he is also my soulmate? I will wait until you are comfortable with it, and only when you are present." Sam nodded. He was relieved that Aziraphale realised he never really wanted to talk about his past life ever again if he could help it.
"Crowley? I know another demon by that name." Sam made a face that Crowley interpreted as extreme dislike. If he was talking about whom Crowley remembered, the demon could understand the expression. The Fallen wasn't too fond of the current pretender who had stolen his name. "So you're his other soulmate? You're a demon. How does that work?"
"Oh about six thousand years of pining and misunderstandings before the almost end of the world convinced us that we were being idiots and really needed to consummate our bond." Crowley watched as Aziraphale smiled benevolently at him and then left with the motions that he was making tea.
Sam's face went through a bunch of complicated emotions that the demon had no reference for yet. The young man opened and closed his mouth several times before he finally voiced what was going through his head. "I thought angels were rather chaste... from my experience somewhat asexual unless there are extenuating circumstances." He thought of Cas and his convoluted love for Dean. It had been surprising when the angel had moved on from that to a sort of exasperated brotherly affection.
The Fallen laughed before answering. "Right, so, most of the time it is that way. However, since we don't have to answer to the head office anymore Zira's hedonism has been unbelievable. He wanted to try everything in every configuration of sex. So many years of repression just let loose. Right wore me out, but I don't mind indulging him; never really appealed to me to follow through with that sort of temptation. Well at least with humans; I only made the Effort for him."
"Will I be in the way?" the young man asked.
Crowley decided at that moment that he liked Sam. The young man could use some work on his self esteem, but being with Aziraphale was bound to help with that. Even without seeing what it was that had so outraged his soulmate, Crowley could tell that Sam needed someone to value him. The demon realised that though he may not be Sam's soulmate, the young man was going to be precious to him, and not just because he was important to Aziraphale. The earlier spike of jealousy had evaporated with the question. Sam cared about the relationships of people around him and that was good enough in Crowley's book to accept him at face value.
He finally answered, "No. Somebody decided that you were meant for Zira and after all that we've been through I can accept that. I've loved him since the moment we met, so I'm not going to begrudge him for having more. He was not well loved in Heaven, which is supposed to be bloody well filled with love. So the more he has here on Earth only makes me happier." Sam nodded but still looked slightly baffled. He probably would have asked more questions but Aziraphale interrupted them.
"The tea is ready if you so desire." The angel looked at Crowley as Sam levered himself from the bed. The demon nodded, indicating everything was okay for now, whilst simultaneously indicating that Zira was going to pay him back later for dealing with the 'emotional stuff.'
Crowley followed them into the study and flopped down on the sofa. He snorted as Sam raised his eyebrows at the numerous bottles of wine strewn about. Aziraphale dropped the bombshell as he sat down. "Sam, would you like to bond? I can understand if you don't want to, but it is up to you."
Chapter by blueharlequin, theotherdoctor (blueharlequin)
I am so drunk, so be warned, spelling errors probably abound
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The silence before the Blitz could not equal the atmosphere in the room. Sam gaped disbelievingly at Aziraphale. He didn't even realise he had a choice in the matter. He had always thought that once you met your soulmate, you had to bond or you would go slowly go insane from the longing.
"What happens if I don't want to?"
"I would erase the soulmark and you could choose to forget this encounter. You would not have to worry about feeling the soulbond's negative effects."
Crowley was beside himself, "You can do that?" He had never heard of being able to erase a soulmark, it just wasn't done. Even though only a quarter of the humans alive had soulmarks it wasn't something that even demons would mess with.
Aziraphale hesitated and Crowley could almost feel the obfuscation suffusing his next words, "Yes, angels can do it to humans, though most have them have forgotten they can. I haven't done it in centuries, but it is worth it if the individuals are hurting in the soulbond. We all know they sometimes go horribly wrong, and I'd rather get rid of it than have someone suffer."
Sam was at a lost, but he really considered what this could mean. It seemed that every time he had tried to fly in the face of Fate, it had cost him dearly. Aziraphale was so far proving to be the opposite of any of the angels he had met. Everything about his life at the moment was new, new start, new job, and possibly new relationship? He could do this.
"I want to bond. I mean I don't really know you all that well and you know that I've had bad experiences with angels in the past, but I'm willing to see if this works." Sam babbled on. He had left behind his old life for this new one, maybe this was a sign that things would change. To find his soulmate right after he'd made a fresh start had to mean something. He rationalised that having an angelic soulmate instead of being possessed by one was far different. The fact that Aziraphale seemed to prioritise his needs and choices struck a chord in Sam. However, a moment later, he tilted his head like a thought had just struck him. Sam eyes narrowed, and he muttered, "Do it to humans."
Crowley's head flew up as he caught the thread of Sam's line of thought. He looked toward Aziraphale and frowned at the guilty countenance he saw there.
Sam continued, "So does that mean that is I had asked you to remove mine, you will still have yours? You would still remember me and have a broken bond?"
"Clever boy," Crowley thought. The demon tried and failed to hide his outrage. He looked at Sam and saw the same anger and a mix of confusion there as well. "What in Heaven's name were you thinking Angel? It was bad enough that we spent six millennia denying our bond."
“Really Crowley, I was only giving Sam a choice that was free from any outside influences. And may I remind you of your hypocrisy, you never even told me I had said your words!”
“You never asked!”
Sam looked back and forth between the two and came to the sudden realisation that this was an argument that had gone on for some time now. It wasn’t his job to end it, but he didn’t want to go into a relationship with this soulmate by damaging the one he already had. “Enough!” Sam shouted and the two of them looked at him in surprise. “I’m not here to be your arbiter, and I do see that this has been a point of past contention. However, I would like to ask what does it matter now?” The two otherworldly beings looked at Sam in astonishment but he continued, “I meant, what point does it serve now to continue bringing it up?”
Aziraphale nodded primly “Nothing. You are quite right Sam. I had not considered that you might be concerned on my behalf. Be that as it may, I should remind you that it renders your argument moot, since you have already agreed to bond.”
“I knew you were a bastard,” Crowley muttered under his breath. Sam laughed at both the comment and the fact that he had been cleverly out manoeuvred. The Fallen grinned at the two of them. “Well, right then, I’ll be off.” He swept his sunglasses from the side table and slithered off the sofa. “Call me for the celebratory meal when you two resurface.” He winked at Sam before jauntily swaggering out of the study.
“Crowley!” Aziraphale indignantly called after him, pinking up in embarrassment. The bell on the door jingled and then suddenly they were alone together. He turned to Sam and smiled gently, "Is there anything you'd like to discuss before we get started?"
Sam flushed, now that he was thinking about it, he could feel the warmth singing through his body at the anticipation of bonding. He just had a few questions, "What about the person you are possessing? Does he get a choice?"
Aziraphale looked at him oddly. Sam watched as he cocked his head to one side and closed his eyes. "Ah," he said a moment later, reviewing the memories that prompted Sam's inquiry. "That is not an issue for me. I've had this body since Creation, it is wholly mine." He shook his head, "Goodness, what are They getting up to nowadays? Angels and demons not having their own corporations is ridiculous."
Sam blinked, he guessed that pretty much segued into his next question, "So Crowley, he's not like any demon I've encountered."
Aziraphale knew what Sam was trying to ask even if it hadn't come out that way. "No, no, he's not like any other demon, or at least not like any of the ones you have dealt with. Crowley's one of the Fallen. He used to be an angel." Sam's eyes widened in amazement and he went to ask another question but Aziraphale forestalled him. "I haven't paid much attention recently, but Crowley likes to know what They are up to. It seems that many of the Fallen have disappeared and been replaced with demons of human origin. I do not know if that somehow relates to angels suddenly having to possess humans and to be honest, I really don't care. Ever since the two of us have removed ourselves from Their machinations, I have been largely content to leave Them alone as long as they leave us alone." He stopped suddenly and looked over at the young man intensely “Sam, one thing of note. I would ask that you be very careful with holy water around Crowley. It may only burn the human demons that you have dealt with, but it is fatal for the Fallen.”
Sam nodded. This was so much different than what he had been confronted with up until now. His soulmate was much more forthcoming and personable than any other ethereal entity he had encountered before. He was starting to feel much less trepidation the more he learned.
Aziraphale saw his interest and sighed, "Sam, I know you have many questions, but do you really want to know now?" He got up from his chair and joined Sam on the couch. "I'm not trying to be presumptuous, but I am most eager to bond with you."
Sam blushed, he inwardly admitted he might be stalling because he was still just a little nervous, "I do have one more question," he paused for a moment hoping he wasn't going to ask the wrong thing. "I asked Crowley this earlier, but I feel like I need to ask you as well." Aziraphale nodded at him indulgently. "You two have been together so long, are you sure I won't be in the way?"
Aziraphale frowned, then looked at him thoughtfully, "I don't know what Crowley's response was, but I will tell you that he would scoff at what I'm going to say next. Sam, it is part of Her Ineffable Plan. You are my soulmate. You have always been my soulmate. You will never be 'in the way' because you were always meant to be here. I am overjoyed to have finally met you. It may not have been the most propitious meeting but I am not unhappy it occurred."
Sam's shoulders slumped in relief, he reached over and took Aziraphale's hand. "Okay, then, I think I'm ready." The angel beamed at him and Sam almost stopped breathing from the overwhelming amount of love he suddenly felt around him.
As they stepped into the bedroom, Azriaphale remembered something that started all of this, "Sam, what exactly did you come into my bookstore looking for?"
As I noted in my Crowley fic, there is simply not a universe I can comprehend that Crowley and Aziraphale are not together in some manner or another.