Actions

Work Header

We Are an Angel and... Whatever You Are

Chapter Text

 

 

We make believe, I've never seen your face, you neither mine.

Sunset - The XX

 

 

 

He’d never admit it, but the moment he’d laid eyes on him, he’d felt a particular… zing.

Powerful and demanding yet sweet and hollow, running up his spine just so, like a pack of children finally allowed to go outside and play. Intense in the way that there was noway that Crowley could not feel it but so soft and quick and goddamn buzzing that Crowley wasn’t sure that it had actually really happened.

Perhaps it didn’t anyway.

Perhaps Crowley was just imagining things the way he did- it seemed highly likely, too, with the way all of the other angels always had at him for the way his mind worked. The way he could create. The way he could feel. Even when it wasn’t real. Real to them, anyway.

But none of it mattered, still, because even if it had happened, as in, even if there was a particular… zing, he was sure it was only on his end, anyway.

And yes, Heavenly Mother, yes, if Hastur could hear him, the way he was belittling himself, he would have his head bitten off. Only from Hastur, though. Crowley was pretty sure that the rest of the angels could care less about what he thought of himself, especially when they didn’t particularly like him anyway.

But, yes, none of it mattered.

Even if the image of the… being at hand was permanently etched into Crowley’s thoughts each and every moment of every day, it truly didn’t mean anything. Because, honestly? Crowley was sure that it had happened to more angels than he- perhaps even humans.

He couldn’t put his finger on precisely what it was that stood out so much about this… being, but that was only because there was so much to choose from.

It happened this way.

It was a bright, early, June morning and Crowley was pulling open the sweet orange curtains of the florist, fresh beams of sun cascading over his tanned skin. He drew a deep breath through his nose, taking in the aroma of a brand new shipment of marigolds and the sly scent of fresh cut grass that slipped into the shop as the mailmen swung the door open.

He exhaled softly, opening his eyes to welcome the scenery of a bright new day. Cracking his knuckles, he stared at his own reflection in the window, bright eyed, ginger headed and happy.

From behind him, a deep voice came, Gregory, one of the regulars whom delivered shipments. “Hey, Mr. Crowley, what are these? They smell pretty great. Had the truck smelling like my daughter’s room.”

Crowley turned to face the man, clasping his hands together and smiling. “Quite taste, your daughter has then. They’re marigolds, Gregory.” He said, proudly, his white teeth on display. He placed a hand on the box Gregory had rested on a vacant wooden table. Running a finger down the middle, Crowley dug into the crease and brought the hooked finger up effortlessly, releasing the beautiful scent into the room for good. “Such a beautiful essence. The best in June. Shame they never bloom for me properly.”

“That’s okay, Mr. C. My wife’s really kickass at pineapple upside down cake but sucks at lemon meringue pie. We just cop one from the store whenever we get a knack for it. There’s no shame in it.” Gregory shrugged, clasping a thick hand on Crowley’s slender shoulder.

At the dialogue, Crowley’s ember eyes shift from the flowers that mirror them, to the ground, his smile faltering slightly. Swallowing briefly, blinking and completely regaining himself, he looked up to meet Gregory’s compassionate eyes. He smiled. “Where do I have to sign?”

 

After Gregory left, Crowley had a few customers come in. One of them was a regular from across town that came in to purchase lovely white roses for his boyfriend every other week. Crowley wasn’t exactly sure what the reason was, and didn’t think there had to be a reason, but he couldn’t help but see the sheer panic in the boy’s eyes when Crowley told him there weren’t any in today.

“Oh, fuck.” The boy muttered and Crowley flinched at the harsh word.

“My apologies, they haven’t bloomed yet.” He offered, eyeing the short, brunette boy. His forehead had broken into a sweat now, which was weird because the A/C was on. He shook his head a bit and put a hand to his mouth, chomping on his nails. Crowley thought that human habits were disgusting if he thought about it too much, so he tried not to do it, but alas there was always someone who put it right before his eyes.

Trying to contain the disgust that threatened to spill out on his features, he swallowed and said, “I have some lilies? They’re white… and they smell divine. They’re actually a hot favorite.” Lies. Most people who came in the florist shop were attracted to plants with bright colors. White flowers hardly got much attention besides this poor, poor boy before him. Crowley’s heart sank a little at the thought of this boy having to tell his boyfriend he didn’t have any roses for him today.

“N-no. I’m sorry. He likes roses.” The boy said, biting the inside of his cheek. His eyes had begun to fill with tears now and oh, wait.

“You know what, I think I have some in a vase in the back. Let me just check, I’m pretty sure I do, so I’ll be right back, alright?” Crowley said and the boy’s face lit up as he nodded.

Crowley turned on his heels, away from the counter and ran a hand down his white vest.

Just to be clear, Crowley hardly ever performed miracles unless he really had to.

Unless the situation was definitely dire.

Life or death, sort of thing.

But in all honesty, dire situations happened each and every day, right before Crowley’s eyes.

And how was he supposed to let a boy go home to his love without the flowers he promised he’d come back with? That would be downright cruel.

He couldn’t.

He wouldn’t.

So he shuffled into the backroom of the shop, his heart full, face warm and his fingers wrapped around the pink fabric of his tie, trying to loosen it some.

He inhaled deeply, closing his eyes, muttering a word or two and opened his eyes again. Before him, atop one of the many boxes in the room, a clear vase with intricate hearts carved into its glass sat with a bouquet of beautiful, bright white roses with equally vibrant green stems in healthy water.

At the sight, Crowley crooked an eyebrow, sort of shocked by his own ability to miracle something so beautiful into existence. For a few moments he stared at his creation before the realization that the boy was awaiting him struck and he clumsily darted towards the box, an “oof” sound sliding out of his mouth.

He collected the vase in his hands carefully, breathing in the scent. Euphoric. The boy would be so happy and so would his love. Crowley’s thin lips broke out into a wide smile.

So then, he turned on his heels, back toward the door filled with joy and dropped the entire vase unto the floor immediately.

Yes.

Crowley was sort of a klutz.

The angels never let him forget it.

But this wasn’t because he had two left feet.

His body had jerked in fear and utter shock and rendered his limbs unable to maintain any sort of grip once he laid eyes on him.

As the glass met the hard wooden floor and exploded to life into a million shards, Crowley shut his eyes tight to shield them from the attack and released a sound that he wasn’t very proud of.

And honestly? He wasn’t sure if he wanted to open them again. So he didn’t.

And maybe if he shut them long enough, then opened them again, he’d find that he just had really been a klutz. Yes, that sounded plausible.

The entire ordeal was a mix up, his brain was playing tricks on him, he’d been down here too long anyway. All the human mumbo-jumbo was getting to him, making him imagine even more than he’d done before up at home.

Honestly, home didn’t sound too bad right now. Even though Crowley particularly liked earth, home- heaven, didn’t sound that bad at all. He could live with being amongst his brothers and sisters, through their verbal taunts and wretched looks, if it meant that this… this… whatever this was, wasn’t happening.

In fact, it probably wasn’t.

All Crowley needed to do was stop being such a wuss and open his eyes. Then he’d see. He’d see that this was definitely not ha-

“Anthony, is it?” the light yet downright condescending (and velvety, if Crowley did say so himself) tone broke through the thickness of his jumbled thoughts.

If there was ever a time to use profanities it was most definitely now, but the bitter tightness of Crowley’s fast beating heart was distressing enough. Chills that he’d swear up and down, back and forth to the Almighty weren’t happening, draped his slim frame, demanding the attention of each and every hair on his body and he clenched a fist, manicured nails digging into his palm.

Swallowing, he allowed his left eye to relax, then slowly part before tearing itself open just so that he could see more of what was in front of him.

It was him.

He knew because his eye immediately met his, those very, very deadly crimson irises. Allowing his other eye to join in on the visual feast (because why not), Crowley inhaled. Although the utter intensity of his gaze was enough to make Crowley genuinely scared to look away, he had to. He had to see him and see him all. It had been so long since he had and now that he was there, now that he was back, he had to drink it all in like a tall flute of Moet.

And, God, if it wasn’t even better than that.

He looked at the being’s ghastly complexion, pale skin spilling across his face, into the neck of a jet black turtleneck. Such a contrast it was, so painstakingly beautiful if he were allowed to think so. He momentarily questioned how he’d even maintained the ominous shade in such summer heat but it wasn’t as though he was complaining. It complimented him so well and Crowley was sure he knew it. It was confirmed in the way his mouth was twitched just so in a small smile, his features barely soft but not stern.

His dark hair cascaded on his shoulders, swiftly brushed off of his face anyway, tucked behind his ears. Over his turtleneck, he donned a very expensive looking black blazer, buttoned together neatly falling just below the belt of an equally expensive pair of black slacks. His arms were behind his back, as Crowley would’ve expected. He was always so… put together. Always so neat. So refined. Although no other angel besides Crowley would admit it, this… being put them all to shame in that department.

From the flawless sweep of his hair to the intricately designed black oxfords, he exuded a particular aura Crowley had never in all of his years as an angel been able to attain. He supposed that whatever it was that made him so, whatever he was, had to do with downstairs. Maybe it just wasn’t for angels, or anyone for that matter to understand. Still, the intensity of his presence made Crowley’s mouth water profusely. Gathering it all together, he swallowed, tearing his eyes from the being’s shoes back up to his face.

His expression hadn’t changed much for the most part, but he seemed slightly more amused than he did at first, one of his eyebrows crooked just so and his mouth more elevated than it had been. But that didn’t matter because Crowley wasn’t… checking him out. Or whatever it was he’d heard those teenagers say in the shop the other day.

He truly wasn’t. And he’d swear it, even if his cheeks had begun to burn under the being’s knowing look. Adverting his gaze again, to the mess of glass and water on the floor Crowley shook his head slightly. “I’m sorry. That isn’t your name?” He spoke again with a weary tone, once again tearing through Crowley’s mind.

And Crowley’s body jumped a little before his eyes shot back up to his, because oh yeah, he’d been asked a question. “Uh, yes! Anthony Crowley, that’s me.” He said a bit too quickly.

Blinking, his smile came to life some more. “Funny, I would’ve sworn I heard there was a J somewhere in that moniker.”

“Oh,” Crowley spoke, eyebrows knitting. “Yes. Yes, there is. Anthony J. Crowley, that’s the full thing, but, um, most people just end up forgetting it anyway. So I kind of just, over the years I mean, I just, let it go. It never really meant anything anyway, so, I, um.”

“Right.” His red eyes bore into Crowley’s as he nodded. Looking around the room his expression remained still, taking in the cluttered space. His eyes landed on the floor before him, the mess that sat between he and Crowley, and he brought his hand from behind his back, all pale and ring clad, motioning toward the floor. “My utmost apologies for the vase. I didn’t mean to frighten you. The flowers are lovely.” He mused, snapping his fingers and bringing the broken shards, water and plants back together again. “For anyone special?”

Crowley’s face broke into a nervous smile, his head shaking. “Someone…? No. Oh. No. No, I don’t…” The being’s eyebrow raised, as if begging to be told more, but Crowley knew this game. This was a game most of… their kind played. He wished he was able to thwart it more confidently. Clearing his throat, he bent to retrieve the vase.

“Not trying to be that angel, but what are you doing here?” He muttered boldly, regaining his natural height.

“I can’t drop by to see an old friend?” He asked, confusion covering his features.

Crowley rolled his eyes, finally regaining some sort of composure despite the shock that ran down his spine at the being’s choice of words. Friend? “I don’t…” he paused, stepping forward nervously. “… even know you. And I have a customer. Excuse me.”

And he wasn’t exactly wrong. He didn’t know this being. They’d met once, years ago, just after the beginning. But that was a story for another time.

After they’d met, Crowley had been reduced to the sheer, embarrassing hope that they’d one day meet again. Plagued by the buzzing feeling in his physical body and mental being, for years on end. It had finally started to die down, along with the entire prospect that the being could ever, even in a million years feel the way he did. Like maybe he didn’t have to be lonely on earth. Maybe he could have a friend.

But he was wrong, because he was an angel and he was… whatever he was. The thought should’ve never been in the first place. He pondered that perhaps Ligur and the rest were right, even if he’d had more hope than they did about their kind. Maybe it was just his stupid imagination again.

So then why was he here?

Crowley wanted to know. Badly.

But he shouldn’t have wanted to know in the way that he did. So then, he began to walk past the being, definitely not inhaling as he got within close proximity- but even if he did, who could blame him? He just wanted to know if he still smelled as sinful as he did all those years ago. And he did.

“You don’t?” He said just as they were shoulder to shoulder, peering at Crowley.

Crowley stopped in his tracks for a second and then resumed his walk. “No. I don’t. I presume you’ve been sent from downstairs for some reason, so maybe you could get on with the reasoning.”

Turning on his heels to follow the angel, the red eyed being scoffed lightly. “I wasn’t sent by anyone, Anthony-”

“How do I know you’re telling the truth?” Crowley’s voice tore through his, laced with nerves and buzz and just need, as he began down the hall to the front of the shop.

“ You don’t. You’ll have to have some sort of faith.” He said flatly and Crowley wondered if it was meant to be some sort of pun. He didn’t ask. “I wasn’t sent by anyone downstairs. I just thought that it was high time that you and I reunited, with all the time that’s gone past.” He purred. Yes. Purred. “I mean before I came, I asked around some, heard some things through the grapevine. Heard you haven’t been up to much besides selling fauna.”

Although that bit stung, just a tad, Crowley continued walking. “As I said, Mister, I don’t know you, so if you’ll just allow me to get back to selling my fauna that would be jolly-”

“No need.” The sound of his oxfords on the floor ceased suddenly and Crowley nearly did with him. “I met the young man you were servicing on my way in. Poor thing looked like he was ready to combust so I sent him on his way. Told him that I was one of your workers and gave him the bouquet he so desired.”

Swiftly turning around to face the dark haired being, Crowley’s eyes went comically large. “You wot?”

“I’m sorry. You didn’t want me to help you retain your clientele?” He raised his head higher, presumably to meet Crowley’s eyes and returned his arms to behind him.

“I-I don’t know you! You can’t just skip into somebody’s establishment and start miracling things and acting as if you own the place!” Crowley said, exasperated and flushed.

“You’re right. I don’t own the place. But it isn’t wrong of me to help someone when they need it.” He smiled then cocked his head to the side. “Although I suppose it is, isn’t it? Big, great demon like me, don’t suppose I’m supposed to be helping anyone.”

And there it was. Crowley didn’t like the way that word tasted on his tongue, it was all raw and wrong and just… bad. But he supposed that it was after all what he was. A demon.

Crowley’s mouth gaped then shut as the demon took a step toward him. “I swear, I’m just… checking in on you. It’s been awhile. Am I not allowed to… worry?” He said carefully, as if he wasn’t sure exactly what he could say.

Swallowing, Crowley quietly sighed. “Whatever.” Turning back on his heels, missing the victorious smile of the demon, he pushed through the door back into the bright shop and placed the vase of flowers on the counter, near the register.

Hugging himself with knitted eyebrows, he fought immensely not to turn around, eyes glued to the vase. Luckily, he didn’t have to. The dark haired menace slipped beside him, just a little bit ahead of him, just enough for him to be within the angel’s eyesight. He cleared his throat and inhaled, using the opportunity to raise his head again, establish some sort of dominance. At least that’s how Crowley felt about it.

Truth be told, the demon hardly needed to do that but Crowley quickly decided it very well may’ve just came natural to him. He hardly seemed like the type to feel inferior in any situation, even if Crowley had about three inches of height on him. That was easily made up in the way that Crowley didn’t exude anything to back up what would be considered a dominant stature. In fact, Crowley was quite lanky, fidgety and frankly, all over the place. It was a waste of body, Ligur had said once and it still rung clear in Crowley’s head at most times, making him frown and feel a sting in his ribs.

Maybe if he actually ate, like human food, maybe then he could gain a little more weight. Maybe then he could look better, put on a few pounds and gain some sort of confidence for God sake. For the sake of subtle comparison, his eyes flit over to the well dressed demon, glancing at his well proportioned face and thick, healthy looking limbs, apparent even under articles of clothing. Crowley didn’t like feeling envious, after all it was against his entire being. He wasn’t supposed to want what others had. He had everything he needed. He was created in Her image, right? That’s what they told him.

Crowley hugged himself tighter. “How have you been, Anthony?”

Biting his cheek, he finally gave up. “I’ve been quite fine, Aziraphale. H-how have you been?”

At the mention of his name, a slither of gratification ran over his face. “So elated to hear it. I’ve been wonderful. Earth has proved to be a mighty host for the last six thousand years, hasn’t it?”

“I suppose it has.”

“What, with you finding a perfectly angelic hobby. Nursing and purchasing fauna to sell for profit to the locals, who I’m sure by now all address you as Mr. Crowley or Mr. Anthony, or something as equally nauseating.” He delivered monotonously. “I must say, I’m a bit envious of your ability to domesticate yourself so well. I’ve always wondered what it was like to find interest in housewives. I suppose now I can cross that off of my list.”

“If you’ve just come all this way to rip at me-” and make me feel like a worthless angel, then you’d better inquire Ligur about joining the club they’ve got. “-I’d have preferred if you stayed wherever it is you were.” And if he believed it just enough, he could imagine that his reply actually stung Aziraphale in any way, shape or form. To distract himself from the burn of his cheeks and the thumping of his heart against his ribcage, he directed his attention to a neatly organized stack of petunias sticking out of a wooden cubby.

By the time Aziraphale opened his mouth to speak again, Crowley was intently staring and fidgeting with the flowers. Aziraphale watched him for a moment, eyebrows raised and mind a bit fuzzy, then, “I haven’t. I’m just joking with you. I didn’t mean to offend you.” Crowley didn’t answer. So, “I feel that maybe a spot of lunch may help us break the ice more efficiently.”

Crowley’s hands ceased in the forest of petunias, losing himself in the color for a moment, mind processing the invitation. Of course, it sounded good.

He would’ve loved to- liked to get reacquainted with Aziraphale but… what would they think? What if Ligur or one of the other showed up and saw them? The thought sent a shiver down Crowley’s spine causing him to retract his arm, hugging himself again.

Turning around slightly, just to look at Aziraphale again, Crowley’s light ember eyes sparkled with thought and resistance. He knew that ultimately Aziraphale would get what he wanted from him, the lunch and anything else he wanted, because, oh, yes, Crowley wasn’t stupid. He knew that there was no way this demon came all the way from wherever he was (last time Crowley checked, he was off on some island in the Bahamas, but who’s keeping abreast?) just to play catch up with him, talking about flowers and recent years. That just… wasn’t Aziraphale. At least not the one Crowley barely knew.

Returning his line of sight to the flowers after having enough of the demon’s expectant stare, Crowley shut his eyes tightly.

Why couldn’t he just go away?

Crowley just wanted to sell flowers and breathe in the sun. He just wanted to sit down and hear Queen play lightly on the speakers all day amongst the cool air of his A/C unit and read People magazine. Maybe think of the demon once or twice (a minute) and be content.

Why couldn’t he just be content? Be happy?

Why did this… this… Aziraphale have to ruin it all?

At the direction of his thoughts, he began to clench his teeth.

“My treat.” Aziraphale added after a couple moments passed.

Shaking his head, Crowley answered, “I don’t… eat. I don’t do that.”

Aziraphale fell silent for a moment, leaving Crowley to guess what his reaction to that was, then, “Yes, I find that even after all of these years, I am still one of the only beings that allow myself that pleasure. I wouldn’t tempt you to it. Although your company suffices, anyhow, whilst I may dine.”

Crowley’s eyes opened, wide, at that statement, and he silently thanked God that he wasn’t facing Aziraphale for that. His mouth lifted on one side, then the other, threatening to turn into a full blown smile. “I…” His voice cracked, just a little bit but loud enough for the demon to hear. God, Crowley really wished he believed in profanities. Taking a deep breath, he turned around to face Aziraphale again. He was a bit shocked to find that the demon’s expression was slightly more puzzled, worried and dare he say, frantic than it was seconds before. Only in the way that it could be though, in the way that it was so slight that even Crowley would’ve missed it had he not been so intent in his gaze. “I like wine.”

Just to be clear, Crowley didn’t know what he was getting himself into with this. Just this one, simple action of acceptance. Crowley didn’t understand.

He supposes that makes him a gullible angel.

He also supposes that’s nothing new.

But if he had known, then, what was to come, he also supposes he wouldn’t have been able to do much to stop it.

Even if he really wanted to.

Plus he was too high off of the look of (relief?) pleasure that engulfed Aziraphale’s face when he had responded. Bright eyed he brought his hands together at the front of himself, interlocking them proudly. “I know just the place, my dear.”

Chapter Text

But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing changed at all?

Pompeii - Bastille

 

 

Aziraphale was like a good piece of candy. And, oh, how he loved candy.

Hard on the outside and soft on the inside.

Nobody knew this. Nobody would’ve ever thought this.

He never let it show, so then, it was like it wasn’t so.

But it was more evident than ever sometimes. Like in the way that it took him fifteen minutes to convince himself to enter Anthony J. Crowley’s flora shop. He’d distracted himself with the food vendors outside, asking questions to the attendants, holding up the lines for no reason at all. It was fulfilling in more ways than one, him learning more about the street cuisine of London and simultaneously angering a few locals.

By the time he’d actually decided that he was doing this, no backies, come hell or high water, he’d eaten something called a cheese-cake. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as disgusting as he’d thought it would be, quite delicious, really.

As he stood in front of the shop’s glass door, peering delicately inside, he couldn’t help but feel a pit of something stirring in his stomach. He wouldn’t dare call it nerves or anxiety or whatever ugly feeling it was that humans felt when they did these sort of things because he was a demon.

 A very, demon-y demon, too.

One of Hell’s best.

It was confirmed in the way the other demons fell to his feet, so to speak. The way Gabriel, among others, fought for a chance to be near him, join him in different evil quests among the world. Even though Gabriel ranked higher than him on paper, it wasn’t hard for anyone to see that Aziraphale embodied what it meant to be a demon.

He was cold, calculating, genius and honestly, sort of narcissistic. He was able to blend into numerous societies and mold himself into whatever it was the job at hand required. It made the rest of the less able demons, frankly, quite envious. But all in all, his abilities earned him the respect most only could dream of having.

It also earned him something he wasn’t quite sure he could handle agreed with. But he should’ve. He should’ve wanted it much more than anybody else.

Yet, he didn’t.

Yet, he found himself here, in London, days after the news had been delivered to him.

Just to be clear, Aziraphale didn’t know Anthony. Not really, anyway. They’d met years ago, but that was a story for another time.

Then they’d met again, which was also a story for another time.

Then again, which was also- well, you get the gist.

But now, here, in this year of 2008, it had been quite a while. Maybe fifty years? Thirty?

Aziraphale would never admit it but it felt so much longer. Satan knows it did.

Satan also knows that Aziraphale had never felt more utterly powerless than the moment he stepped into that shop, the bell above the door ringing. But in true Aziraphale fashion, he blended, as he was supposed to, and let all of those ugly feelings melt away.

Never mind that for the past couple of nights after the thought of going to see Anthony popped into his head, he’d been thinking himself silly of what he must’ve looked like now. Did he modify anything on his body?

Was he still tall? Aziraphale quite liked his height.

Was he still tan? Aziraphale also liked his skin, it looked like he spent all hours of the day out on a beach somewhere in the West Indies. Freckled and browning.

Was he still happy? All smiles and delight, lighting up a room when he walked in it, as opposed to what Aziraphale did. They both demanded attention differently, if he remembered it correctly. It was what made them such an interesting pair to see.

Pair…

Was he still… Crowley? Aziraphale had shivered at that thought and buried it far, far away into the bedroom of his brain in a very, very lockable chest, then swallowed the damn key.

Never mind all of that.

He had to be what he was now, what he was expected to be, because otherwise, this wouldn’t work. His plan would fail and everything that he didn’t want to happen would happen and it would all go to shit. Not all of it, though, he presumed, allowing himself to think of what could come out of him actually being transparent with Anthony.

Ugh. The mere thought of that left a bad taste on his tongue.

As he looked up and down the various plants, flowers and décor that Anthony had adorned his shop in, he felt pleased. His muscles relaxed some, still never giving up the taut, confident, brooding persona.

His heart sped up as he turned through an aisle filled with lilies, sunflowers and some disgusting little green plant he’d have rather not seen, coming to a halt at the cash register counter.

And… there was no Anthony.

Just a fidgety little something with a head of curly afro, looking more panicked by the moment. Aziraphale’s eyes widened some at the sight and he clenched his jaw.

He definitely did what he did next because he didn’t want anything getting in the way of what he’d come to do, not because his little demon heart bled for the boy.

Strolling up next to the boy, he removed a hand from behind his back and placed it on his shoulder. Jumping, the boy met Aziraphale’s eyes instantly and that was all he needed.

Peering his scarlet eyes into tree-bark irises of the other, Aziraphale inhaled slowly, the energy transfusion stabbing a thousand little knives into his skin. Eyes fluttering, he blinked, then smiled warmly at the young man before presenting him with a fresh bouquet of white roses in his other hand. “There you are, Kenny. Usually you purchase eight, but I’ve put an extra two in there for your trouble. Leonard will love them.”

Kenny, less frightened than he was a second ago, let a smile engulf his face, tear stained cheeks rosy. He took the bouquet being handed to him and Aziraphale patted his shoulder before returning both of his hand back behind him. “T-thank you, sir! They’re so bright, he’s going to be so happy. I- please, tell Mr. Crowley I said thanks, I’ve got to go!”

“Will do.” Aziraphale said as Kenny ran out of the store with joy. If his heart warmed, just a little bit, it wasn’t that bad.

 

Aziraphale managed to make his feet carry him en route to the back room of the shop and by the time he arrived at the room in question, he realized he’d been seizing his breath.

The door was flown open leaving no room for him to guess what was behind it anymore. He drew a slight, sharp intake of breath and cursed himself for it. The figure before him didn’t seem to recognize the change in the atmosphere, his back turned as he gazed at something. Aziraphale couldn’t tell what it was, his tall body was guarding it well.

From the back, he looked as Aziraphale would’ve partially expected. Tall (so goddamn tall, it was enviable), crimson hair no longer the length Aziraphale had been accustomed to, shaved into some sort of modern haircut. He was still tan from what Aziraphale could make out, sun-kissed skin dipping into the pale white collar of his shirt.

His choice of color for his clothing was also to be expected, pastel pink vest over his long sleeve white shirt and slim fitting heather gray slacks that met camel brown oxford shoes. Priss.

Aziraphale wasn’t complaining though.

He would never.

Not when Anthony looked so very pretty in his attire.

But that was a thought that wasn’t meant to be said aloud. Or even thought about in the first place.

And if anyone ever asked, it was lust that drove that thought across his brain, not admiration.

The demon shook his head slightly, stirring when Anthony made an abrupt move forward, apparently grabbing whatever he was admiring in his hands.

If only that option were universal.

But there wasn’t time for any of that, Aziraphale had to get himself ready. He had to get rid of the knot in his throat and the knit in his eyebrows. Swallowing hard, he inhaled softly and put on his best face, the condescending one that got him most of what he wanted.

 

Speaking to Anthony was much easier than he’d thought it would be.

If you didn’t count the way his heart stopped the moment he’d turned around and how wide his eyes blew up at the sight of him. He was extremely thankful for Anthony’s theatrics otherwise, he would’ve known. He would’ve known right then.

Had he not shut his eyes, Anthony would’ve known.

But he did. And Aziraphale thanked Satan for it.

He did as he always did, getting back into character, playing on his amusement of Anthony’s reaction and exploiting the ever-loving fuck out of it.

Long stares, calling his flowers fauna, intimidating smiles.

He hated it.

But it was his only shot.

And it worked.

It worked so well.

It always did.

 

Aziraphale had a thing for eyes, especially Anthony’s. The color, much like his own, was exclusive to just him. Aziraphale had come across many sets of eyes over the years but none had even come close to the electrifying, teetering on fucking yellow glow of Anthony’s.

Watching the angel’s (beautiful) ember eyes skirt all around the room at the presence of him was a massive meal for his ego, even better when they eventually couldn’t bare it anymore and locked with his.

They were almost what Aziraphale remembered; so bright and warm but now, were filled with a new sort of emotion Aziraphale couldn’t quite pinpoint.

And it wasn’t just limited to his eyes.

His whole body, his whole fucking aura stunk of it.

It was so new, yet vaguely familiar. It racked the length of his lanky body, slithering all over the curve of his back, his shoulders, his legs, all of it.

The demon had clenched his jaw at the frustration of this new thing that covered the angel, desperation to understand it consuming him. He wanted so badly to touch him.

Quickly, he’d touch him, forcing him to stare into his eyes and then he’d know. Aziraphale would know what it was and he could… help? Fuck, he didn’t know.

He didn’t know if this new thing was bad but he had a feeling it wasn’t good.

It wasn’t good in the way Anthony seemed more jittery, more quiet, less… Crowley.

At the thought, Aziraphale shuddered, once again thankful that the angel wasn’t facing him for it. He was preoccupied fidgeting with some sort of ugly plant Aziraphale didn’t like, pondering the invitation he’d extended for lunch.

For fifteen straight seconds, Aziraphale thought Cr- Anthony might’ve rejected his offer for lunch. His heart had done a bloody dance in his chest at the thought of it.

He needed Anthony to say yes.

For so many reasons he absolutely needed it. The fate of the world rested on whether or not the angel would allow himself to be wine and dined by Aziraphale.

He wasn’t exactly sure which way to go in terms of convincing Anthony. He didn’t know what would work anymore, not with this new thing he had stuck to him.

Before, just him asking did the trick. He supposed he didn’t have that luxury anymore and he didn’t have anyone to blame for that.

Touching also worked before but that was before. He didn’t have that fucking luxury anymore either.

Swallowing the huge lump of pride in his throat, he opted for something different. Something a little more real. “… I wouldn’t tempt you to it. Although your company suffices, anyhow, whilst I may dine.”

The honesty of his words hung atop him like a grey cloud, raining shame upon him. Behind his back, his nails dug into his palm.

 

It did the trick.

The walk to a delicious little gem Aziraphale loved, a place called Du’Marier’s not too far from Anthony’s shop, was genuinely one of the most uncomfortable experiences he’d ever had.

It went a little something like this.

Aziraphale was sinking.

Salty sea water imploded from the holes of his boat, making a home of it. Welcoming it, and him, into its embrace with every passing second. Water lapped at his clothing like a thirsty dog, weighing his body down and sooner than later, he’d be completely doused in it.

For now he was surrounded by an ocean of atrocious human emotions that made his throat tighten, his heart beat like a drum and his palms sweat like a leaky faucet.

Although he would swear he couldn’t remember what times with Anthony were like before, this was the worst of it as little flashes of back then danced about in his brain as splashes of water sprouted up his nose, suffocating him from the inside out.

As they both walked down the lonely street that had scattered people about it, here and there, barely there at all, Aziraphale was listening to an Anthony whom had become significantly more chatty, maybe to compensate for his jitters that had come to a calm halt. Aziraphale imagined that keeping that under wraps wasn’t the easiest thing to do, judging from how jumbled his words seemed to be, like a child learning to surf for the first time.

It seemed rocky and nervous, mirroring the god awful feelings that snaked around in his body. As he watched the taller man spew something about Italian food that Aziraphale wholeheartedly disagreed with, for a second, just a second, it felt like he was now beneath the cold, hard waves of the ocean, succumbing to the inevitable, watching him learn to surf.

Watching him try with all of his might to dodge the intensity of the waves, prevent himself from falling off the safety of his board into the depths of the sea. And for a second Aziraphale understood.

It’s impossible to know what kinds of things lurk in the deep sea, what kinds of things could be waiting on you there.

Anthony didn’t want to know and neither did Aziraphale.

“Not to call you out for not knowing what you’re talking about or missing out on, Anthony,” Aziraphale’s voice cut through the redheaded angel’s rambling. “But you’ve never even eaten pasta. How can you say it’s the worst food? You’ve never even eaten any food.”

The taller man looked into Aziraphale’s eyes, mouth going agape. “I-I… just because I’ve never had it doesn’t mean I do not have eyes. Anyone can see that it looks like earthworms, Aziraphale.”

“It tastes delicious.” Aziraphale stared back at him, mouth tugging into a half smile. “You’d know if you tried it. I guarantee you that you’d love it.”

Pursing his lips the angel rolled his eyes, clasping his hands together. Aziraphale hardly missed the way they shook as they met. “Everything tastes delicious to you.” He muttered.

Scoffing in humor, beginning to feel a bit more relaxed, he simply responded, “I’ve tasted a lot of things, Anthony and I can tell you it is hardly all delicious. But like you… sometimes I make an educated guess. Sometimes I can look at something and know how it may taste.”

Aziraphale inwardly cursed himself for that last part. He knew the way it could’ve sounded, the way it did sound and the way he did mean it. It wasn’t like he could help himself.

After years of mastering several of the sinful arts, there were several areas he would call himself an expert in. And this- this setting, the crawl of the sun behind a cloud as it made preparation to set in the coming hours, the quiet street that had come nearly deserted almost miraculously, the flush of memory and heavy tension that sat between the two beings- was something that Aziraphale couldn’t help.

Above all things, Aziraphale was good at what he did.

And this was what he did.

But not with Anthony. He couldn’t.

Just because of the fact that he could, he wouldn’t.

Damn it.

Backtracking, he said, “But, sometimes I can be wrong. Like you. For instance, just today, I had something called a cheese-cake.”

Anthony’s eyes bulged out of his head at that, the ghost of the implications of Aziraphale’s last statement draining from his face to make room for a new, revolted sort of expression. Aziraphale thought it was adorable. “A wot? A cheese… cake? As in cheese, the weird, ugly looking something into something that’s supposed to be a dessert?” Aziraphale raised an eyebrow, nodding. “My, that sounds… who came up with a such a thing? That’s got to be… oh, and you ate it?”

Nodding again with a warmer smile, “I most certainly did. I saw it first, before they told me exactly what it was and it looked particularly delectable, actually. So I inquired about it and that’s when they explained to me what it was. I, too, was revolted at first but I tried it anyway. Not everything you think is going to be bad is bad. It was actually quite good.”

Still reeling from the thought of it, Anthony shook his head. He raised a hand to scratch the back of his neck and Aziraphale’s eyes tracked the motion. He definitely didn’t miss the way his hand didn’t shake.

As they continued their walk, if Aziraphale’s heart grew just the little bit warmer at the fact, it wasn’t that bad.

With the way the air shifted, it almost felt like Aziraphale could’ve been in London for the better of two reasons. It almost felt like if not for the worst of it, he would’ve actually came.

 

So, yes.

Aziraphale was like any good piece of candy.

But the thing about candy is if you leave it over time,

No matter how hard it may be,

 It will melt as it gets warm.

Chapter Text

 

Maybe I shouldn't try to be perfect

I confess, I'm obsessed with the surface

 

Nervous - The Neighbourhood

 

 

 

Crowley didn’t like food.

He didn’t understand the need for it pertaining to celestial beings, seeing as it wasn’t needed to survive and the whole process of eating within itself seemed disturbing. He didn’t like thinking of having food in his mouth, having to be chewed until soft then sliding sloppily down his throat.

The mere thought of it was enough to drive him up a wall so he tried to refrain from ever having to see it. Out of sight, out of mind sort of thing.

And he’d done so well with it for so long, not even thinking of eating that often, only sometimes when he’d stare at himself in the mirror. But even then, it was only because he desired the result of it.

It was stupid, he knew it, he could just miracle himself the body he wanted but the question of what his siblings would think always gathered in his stomach, making a home of it, gnawing there. Crowley was unsure if he wanted to give them the satisfaction of it, the opportunity of it- to know they’d driven him to do it, that he actually started to believe their words. If he closed his eyes in those moments, he could almost hear Hastur snorting at him. ‘Finally took the advice, did you? You look good. Except I think you may have gone a bit overboard.’

Crowley tried to have as little as those moments as he possibly could, avoiding mirrors and any sort of surface that could provide him a reflection. And he’d done well with this. He really had.

But now all of it was going down like a lead balloon.

Aziraphale had opened the door of Du’Marier’s for him but not before Crowley could catch the reflection of his long body in it. His eyes had fluttered shut then, just for a second- he was good at regaining himself, he thought.

He’d stepped into the restaurant, the demon trailing behind him, and whilst he’d tried to ignore it, he couldn’t. He and Aziraphale breathed deeply in unison, the latter releasing a pleased sound at the scent around them, and Crowley’s stomach caved in.

The restaurant smelled… expensive. He didn’t know much about cuisine but he knew some things, most of which had been learnt from Aziraphale, long, long ago. Crowley knew that this place was somewhere the more uppity humans would frequent, so then, it was a no brainer that it was one of the demon’s favorites.

As he looked around, wide eyes taking in the scenery, his guess was cemented as a fact. The interior was semi-dim lit with elegant chandeliers and wooden furniture. Intricate designs were carved into the cream colored walls, delicate paintings hung expertly among them. There were a couple of well-manicured sculptures and pieces atop the… marble floor, that Crowley hadn’t actually noticed was marble until they were sat at a table, in the left corner of the building.

Aziraphale had requested something more secluded, earning a scandalous look from the hostess who’s name Crowley couldn’t remember now. Her eyes had skirted between the two men with a quirked eyebrow and a smile and Crowley’s face blushed a bright red.

Now, he stared at the floor, trying to determine exactly what sort of marble it was. It was a deep brown and tan sort of something, very pretty indeed. Underneath the table, his fingers were intertwined, hands clasped together and jumping on his thigh.

God, he was nervous.

He was a bloody nervous wreck and he hoped to God he wasn’t showing it too much. He could feel Aziraphale’s eyes on him, even as his stared at the floor trying to distract himself with the patterns of brown. It was such an intense feeling, this.

His eyes, really.

Crowley found himself unable to decide whether or not he had missed that- the way Aziraphale could just look and see. And know.

He’d thought about what it would be like for so long, to have Aziraphale back in his life, for them to be reunited, but he’d somehow blocked out this part. This whole psychoanalyzing, weirdo eye thing he did. It wasn’t new to him but he’d forgotten exactly how to deal with it, how he used to get through it- if he’d liked it or not.

He thought about how easy it was for Aziraphale to get what he wanted, how much of a one up he had in every situation. It was impossible for him to feel out of the loop because he never was and if he ever found himself at a loss, the answer was a look and a touch away.

Crowley thought about what he’d do if he had that sort of power.

“Anthony.” The demon’s voice came, light as a feather but ever so demanding, as it always was. Crowley’s eyes shot up from the floor, into red circles. Aziraphale’s face was warm, his expression undetermined. Beside him, stood a waiter with his notepad out and an energetic look plastered on his face. Was everyone who worked here that way? “A glass of red?”

Heavens no.

If Crowley wanted to get through this evening, he’d need something way more heavy. Over the years, he’d found that although he hated the whole act of eating and using his mouth for anything other than talking, there was a definite reward in alcohol. It calmed his nerves and made him a bit less unbearable, if he did say so himself. It also proved to loosen his tongue, he clenched his jaw at the thought.

He definitely didn’t want that. Not this evening. Not around him.

Exhaling, Crowley said, “Red, yes.”

The waiter nodded, scribbling in his notepad. He looked from his notepad to Aziraphale once or twice, Crowley noticed. It was most likely innocent or more likely an attempt to decipher the abnormal color of his eyes, nothing more. Crowley bit his cheek anyway. “And for you, sir?”

“I’ll have the same.” The demon gave a smile to him.

“Allll-right, I’ll have those out for you in just a minute, gentlemen.” The waiter offered a departing smile and disappeared in the crowd of other waiters, navigating perfectly among seated patrons.

Crowley looked around now, bored with the floor and growing fidgety under the weight of the situation. Just for a split second he let himself steal a glance at the being across from him just to see him looking back at him, patiently.

Fighting the urge to roll his eyes, Crowley swallowed. Aziraphale was waiting on him to say something. A bubble of annoyance flared in his chest. If there was one thing Crowley didn’t block out, it was for sure the demon’s sense of entitlement. Crowley wasn’t sure if that was just how things worked down below, but it wasn’t an attitude he’d ever been too fond of. Not admittedly anyway.

Obviously it wasn’t that bad.

He wasn’t wrong for behaving that way.

He was Aziraphale. The name alone sent shivers down many-a-being’s spines. Crowley’s too, but for entirely different reasons.

Crowley couldn’t help but think of the walk over to this place, the way he’d been so pathetic, small and yappy. He felt his face run hot at the reminder of his excessive talking. Halfway through his rant about some kind of food he couldn’t remember now, his words had faltered, hands still trembling, fear that Aziraphale might’ve found him obnoxious overwhelming him.

Luckily, the demon had jumped on the train of nonsensical chatting, humoring him up until they arrived at the restaurant. At a certain point in their tete-a-tete, Crowley would’ve sworn that he’d said something that indicated… something. Something that was big and heavy and alarming- something that Crowley wasn’t strong enough to carry.

It still made his heart flutter, just so.

Just as much as it made his breath hitch and made him fight for dear life not to bulge his eyes out of his head.

Thankfully, that something wasn’t anything at all. Crowley was supposed to feel relief at that.

He truly was.

He was supposed to be happy that he’d misunderstood, that he’d gone again making something out of nothing as he always did.

So he’d continued the conversation with what he hoped was a warm attitude, ignoring the pit in his stomach and how his body had actually begun to relax at the implication of that something as if it was preparing to carry it anyway.

The thought brought a crease in between his eyebrows but he had to remind himself that he wasn’t strong enough anyway. His body was silly, playing tricks on itself.

Now, Crowley’s eyes had skirted along the place long enough and he knew that Aziraphale wasn’t going to break. No matter that he was the one who’d dragged Crowley out of his shop, here in this establishment that was so out of Crowley’s reach.

He felt as if he were floating in the confines of the place, unable to ground himself. He thought of how he felt when he first saw Aziraphale’s face again, hours ago now- his words, his request.

And, God, Crowley didn’t remember much about Aziraphale, or maybe he just didn’t want to unpack it all with no place to put it then, but one thing Crowley knew was Aziraphale was a being of agenda and precision. Nothing he did was on a whim.

The thought alone was promising enough to make Crowley think that Aziraphale had been thinking of him for years and had planned this in earnest, the big reunion. But Crowley wasn’t stupid.

It was better to face this head on, even if a part of him was enjoying the fantasy. So, Crowley inhaled. Then again. Then he locked eyes with his dining partner.

Aziraphale perked up then, pleasure washing over his face.

Crowley swallowed. “Aziraphale. D-did you mean what you said? Back in the shop?”

An eyebrow raised. “I said a lot of things back in the shop, Anthony. You’ll have to be more specific.”

“You… know what I mean.” His voice didn’t come out anywhere near as forceful as he would’ve liked, getting caught in the back of his throat.

Aziraphale blinked, bringing his hands into view, stretching his fingers. “Ah. The bit about me missing you?”

Crowley’s eyes widened just a little bit. He hadn’t used those exact words back in the shop but they were close enough after all. He nodded.

“I… didn’t lie about that, Anthony…” He said carefully, just as the waiter came back into view beside their table. He placed the two glasses of wine down in front of both beings and Aziraphale offered a smile before he turned to leave. Turning his full attention back to Crowley, the corner of his mouth twitched. “… not specifically.”

“So you did lie, then.” Crowley said flatly.

Taking a sip of wine, Aziraphale sighed. “You may want to have a drink for this.”

Annoyance flickered inside of Crowley again. “I’m a big boy, Aziraphale, I can handle the truth.” He was stunned as soon as the words came out, evident on his blushing face.

The demon just stared, amusement ghosting on his face then took another sip. “Very well, then.” He said, placing the glass back on the table. “The time has arrived for the anti-christ to be delivered unto the world.” Aziraphale spoke with tentative undertones. Crowley’s eyes really did bulge out of his head this time and the demon watched him all but loosen at the seams. He took another sip of wine.

Crowley’s head spun just a little and he placed a shaky hand on the table, eyebrows knitted. “Oh. My, that was quick wasn’t it?”

Aziraphale hummed, swallowing his wine. He let out a warm chuckle, shaking his head. “It’s been a long time coming yet it still feels like it’s come quite soon, I concur.”

As an angel, Crowley had known this day would come. It was the only thing Ligur went on about, the whole shebang with this anti-christ dominating earth and the war between heaven and hell.

Crowley wasn’t sure how he felt about it. He’d never liked conflict, he’d tried to stay far away from anything that could force him into it. That had grown to include his fellow angels and also demons- to no avail obviously. The thought that his siblings and demons had become equal parts threatening to his peace made his mouth twitch downwards.

He wasn’t completely against a war between heaven and hell but it all seemed a bit redundant. Why couldn’t She just banish Lucifer altogether? Why did the angels have to fight for Her? Why did the humans have to get caught in the middle of it?

So many why’s ran through Crowley’s mind that he felt ready to combust just out of pure blasphemy. He wasn’t supposed to ask why.

He just was supposed to do.

All the rest did whatever they were supposed to without a blink of an eye, why couldn’t he just be like them?

Why did he have to imagine?

“What…” Crowley said after a beat. “… does that have to do with us? Me, I mean. I suppose I can guess what it has to do with you. You’re probably quite excited.”

Aziraphale smiled another humorless smile, eyeing his wine as he swished it around in the glass. “I suppose at its core, the revelation itself has little to do with you. Much to do with me, though.” He took a deep breath and brought his eyes up to meet Crowley’s. Inside them, Crowley could see a hint of something softer. “I’ve been appointed to deliver the anti-christ to his respective foster parents and oversee his upbringing.”

“Oh.” It wasn’t supposed to sound as shocked as it did, but it did anyway. It wasn’t as if Crowley was genuinely shocked. He knew that Aziraphale was a high-ranking demon so the fact that this role was being laid on his shoulders wasn’t as surprising as was the tone in his voice as he revealed it. Crowley’s hand creeped closer to his own untouched wine glass. “Uh, congrat…ulations?” He said tentatively, raising an eyebrow.

“Thank you.” The demon said, something of disappointment drooling over his face. Crowley was thoroughly and utterly confused.

“I-I’m sorry… is there something I’m missing here?” Crowley spat out, stuttering on his words. “This- that still doesn’t explain why you came all the way here to see me. It still doesn’t explain anything at all. You didn’t have to come here to tell me that, I could’ve found out from headquarters once the deed was done. You didn’t need to come here, at all.”

“You’re right.” Aziraphale deadpanned. “I came here to ask for your help in stopping Armageddon. I don’t want the world to end, I don’t want heaven and hell to go to war and I can not stop it on my own.”

As each word resonated in Crowley’s ear, his brain fried just a little bit more. He extended an arm that had grown scarily steady, not giving it time to tremble, grabbing his glass of wine off the table. Aziraphale watched with a raised eyebrow as the angel threw his head back, chugging the glass completely. He watched as Crowley swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing angrily.

Then, Crowley set the glass down and waved a hand, signaling the waiter from across the room behind Aziraphale. He didn’t have to look at the demon to just know he was amused. As the waiter grew closer, Aziraphale spoke, “Anthony-”

“Hello, may I get a glass of scotch please?”

“Yes, sir. Any particular brand-”

“Anthony-”

“Nope, just the strongest one you’ve got, please. Better yet, bring the bottle.” Crowley smiled.

The waiter’s eyes widened with a smile. “Alright then. Celebrating something special?”

“Scotch has never been celebratory, Mister Waiter.” Crowley didn’t stutter. “Thank you.”

Just as the waiter turned on his heel, Aziraphale exhaled. “I’m ready to place an order, sweetheart.” He said, eyes never leaving Crowley, but words directed fully to the waiter. Crowley squirmed in his seat at the pet name, the high of his bold outburst flooding out of his system like water.

“Oh,” the waiter said. “I’ll bring you a menu then, sir.”

“No need, darling.” The words flowed like silk off of his tongue as he broke his eye contact with Crowley and directed it to the standing gentleman. “I’ll have one of those delicious steaks of yours with a side of garlic fettucine.”

Scribbling it down, he nodded. “Anything for-”

“No, he’s quite alright. Ate before we got here, preference and all that. He’s a bit of a snob, I do apologize.” Aziraphale grinned.

Crowley scowled. “I-”

“Oh, no, I totally get it,” the waiter chuckled, knowingly, with Aziraphale. “My girlfriend does the same thing. If she doesn’t favor the place’s food, she’ll make me stop somewhere fast before we get to the fancy.”

“Entitled, aren’t we?” The demon mused.

“Yeah, well, you know how it is. You do it ‘cause you love ‘em and all that.”

Nodding and turning back to face Crowley, Aziraphale mused, “Yes, dear, I know exactly how it is.”

Crowley’s hand tightened around his wine glass, other hand beginning to shake again on his lap. What the hell was Aziraphale doing? Why was he toying with him like this?

“You know, if you have room for dessert, I’ll put a banana split on my tab for you both.”

Aziraphale’s face lit up. There it was. “Oh, wonderful! You’ve got room, haven’t you, dearest?”

Crowley’s eyes fluttered and he nodded. “Oh good!” He watched as the demon chatted up the waiter for a few more seconds and as he disappeared into the crowd again.

In this light, Aziraphale was much more handsome, Crowley thought absentmindedly. As his heart sped up in his chest—definitely from the heavy revelation of the night and not, in any way, the way Aziraphale had played the waiter for a fool at Crowley’s expense—he couldn’t help but notice it.

He also couldn’t help but notice the way the implications of the demon’s conversation with the waiter had Crowley back to a nervous wreck, the way he’d felt out on the street when Aziraphale had… mentioned the something or nothing.

Crowley had so many emotions, so many feelings that it often became hard to sort them out, so he’d stuffed them all in a box and never ever opened it.

But with Aziraphale here- here and asking for his help, asking for him. With choosing him, even if the reason wasn’t what Crowley expected or had deep down hoped, the box threatened to burst open. Even if it was this way- this way that meant Aziraphale had only wanted something from him, it felt… good.

Sort of. Kind of.

It was downright pathetic to feel that way about the situation, but there it was, pooling in Crowley’s core. He felt wanted, not used. Because of all the people Aziraphale could’ve asked he asked him.

But Crowley couldn’t let silly things like his feelings blind him from the fact that what Aziraphale was proposing was insane. It would never work. Even if it would, why would he want to take part in it? Stopping Armageddon, the thing that all of this was for in the first place. Saving earth, even though the thing was crawling with all sorts of bad apples and rotting corpses.

He couldn’t see what it was Aziraphale actually wanted to save. He couldn’t understand why it was he wanted to stop it. Was he afraid they’d lose? There was a fair chance for any side to win, it was truly anyone’s game.

So, why? What was Aziraphale’s angle?

“So,” Crowley spoke again as another waitress brought his bottle of scotch. She placed it just in the middle, new glasses on either side of the table for both beings. Crowley extended a thankful smile. “You want me, an angel, to help you, a…”

“Demon, Anthony. It isn’t a slur. It’s what I am. You can say it.”

“… demon. You want me to help you, prevent the apocalypse?”

“Yes.” He said.

Why? “No.”

Aziraphale’s face faltered. “I beg your-” he drew in a breath, closing his eyes just as they began to mutate into something darker. When he opened his eyes again, Crowley was staring at the bottle of scotch in his hand, loosening the cap. The angel knew he looked a thousand different things as Aziraphale’s eyes scanned him; uncertain, frightened, thoughtful. Aziraphale didn’t need to use his powers to realize the internal battle the angel was fighting. Everything Crowley felt was visible, always. But the only thing he wanted to feel just then was numb.

The scary thing about it all, Crowley thought as he poured the liquid into his glass, was that he genuinely believed he could do it. He genuinely knew that if he just joined him, just submitted and did what he was proposing, they could do it. There was a huge chance that they could pull the whole thing off.

Not without consequence, probably. Not without a whole ton of rocks in the road.

But they could.

Crowley chugged the glass of scotch in five seconds. He rested the glass back on the table, embarrassment coating the movement. “I’m sorry if I’ve upset you, Anthony. It’s just… I thought that you’d be willing to help.” He paused. Then, “Selfish of me to think, but I did nonetheless. I see that to be a mistake now.”

Crowley’s heart sank at the sentiment. He was so soft. He hated it. “I’m not upset.” He muttered, eyes still glued to the bottle. The demon didn’t say anything and it was a strategy, he knew it. He knew that he wanted him to speak, wanted him to voice what he wanted, what he felt—he wanted him to feel safe enough to do so. So then, maybe, he didn’t have to use his powers on him.

It was so blatantly obvious, it made Crowley roll his eyes, for real this time. But still, Aziraphale didn’t speak and the tension tainted the air around them, making it impossible for Crowley to breathe. Out of focus, behind the scotch bottle, Aziraphale shifted, placing his chin to rest in the palm of his hand. He was waiting.

God, Crowley, really, really, wished he believed in profanities. “I’m trying to understand why you’d want to. Stop Armageddon, I mean. Like… what’s in it for you?”

Quick on his feet, perfectly articulate, he responded, “Everything. I like it here on earth. It’s proved to be quite enjoyable throughout the years and I enjoy the work I do here. If Armageddon happens and Hell wins, the earth will be overrun with demons and malevolent spirits. There won’t be any more work for me.”

“So… you’re willing to prevent what we’ve literally been preparing our entire lives for just because… you like your job?” Crowley dragged out, face contorted in confusion. Then, a humorless laugh, as he sat up just a bit straighter, hand reaching to fill his glass again. He could feel the effects of the liquor already, numbing him, breaking down his defenses. Watering down his meekness and manners. His hand stilled momentarily as he pondered whether or not, he really wanted to take himself to that point, continue down that road.

But he wasn’t strong enough to have this conversation on his own, in his right state of mind. His emotions were running wild with the dim lighting and the suggestive staff and the disgusting food and the nice scenery and him, sitting across from Crowley, playing his fricking mind games.

Oh, yeah. The alcohol was definitely kicking in. That word or anything close never dallied around in his mind otherwise.

With the same humorless smile, Crowley poured himself another glass. Just as he brought it up to his lips, he locked eyes with Aziraphale again, flashing him a grin, all straight, pretty white teeth. “Not going to lie, was expecting something better than that. Don’t know what, but not that.” He took a big swallow from the glass.

Aziraphale smirked, eyeing Crowley’s glass and then his… lips? Okay. The liquor definitely did that one. Good one, liquor. “Angels dancing with their sins. Always an amusing cabaret to watch.” He stated.

The burn of his words and the alcohol made Crowley sweat. “My bad, I forgot only demons are allowed to indulge in anything.” The words slipped off of his tongue, rude and hotter than Aziraphale’s.

“My, my. Why don’t you tell me how you really feel?” God, he was having fun with this. Crowley was beginning to join him.

“I really feel like… you’re lying about why this matters so much to you.” The alcohol spoke for him. “But I also really feel like you won’t tell me the true reason and it’s probably none of my business anyway. But I know you’ve got something up your sleeve to make me agree, it’s what you’re good at, so I don’t understand why you’re taking so long to get there.”

After his last swallow, he was officially past caring. His hands didn’t shake anymore, but his vision did, just slightly. Just enough to let him know what territory he was in. when his eyes finally focused again, they fell directly on Aziraphale. If he wasn’t mistaken—meaning if it wasn’t the alcohol, Crowley would’ve sworn the amusement drained out of his face for the first time that night. It was overthrown by… regret? “You’re drunk, dear boy. We should get you home, where you can…rest.”

“Don’t need rest.” He muttered.

“You do.” Aziraphale’s tone was light but final as he rose from his seat. “You’re no use to me or yourself in this state. I suppose I’m to blame for letting you indulge.”

“Letting me? That would imply that you have some kind of control over me. And I know you haven’t used your powers, so…” Crowley’s voice died in his throat as Aziraphale’s hand gripped one of his, carefully, as if he was something breakable.

And he supposed he was…

A freaking liability.

God, wasn’t the scotch supposed to take that feeling away?

He shuddered, his skin growing warm where Aziraphale touched him. “Let’s go. I’ll see you home. We can continue this tomorrow, when you’re not inebriated.”

A sudden, gnawing feeling licked up Crowley’s spine and his nostrils flared. Why was he treating him like a child? He could make his own decisions. He could handle himself. Why did everyone around him feel like he couldn’t?

And who did he think he was anyway? Coming back into his life all of a sudden, parading around like some sort of god, trying to call all of the shots, trying to manipulate him, trying to-

It wasn’t until Crowley heard a sharply drawn breath from beside him, not the side Aziraphale was on either, the other one. Looking over at the source of the sound, he fought to focus his eyes. When they finally did, it was a woman staring at him with some sort of condescending, snooty look Crowley didn’t like.

She looked away and muttered something beneath her breath.

Shaking his head, he directed his line of sight back to Aziraphale. Something akin to embarrassment ghosted the demon’s face and it took Crowley’s mind a while to catch up to reality but then again, he was too drunk to actually care.

So what if he’d actually said those things aloud?

He didn’t care.

But still, he let himself be lifted to his feet, hand in hand with his old friend. Once on his feet, an arm snaked around his back to meet his side, hand gripping his ribcage and pressing him flush to Aziraphale for support.

As they made way to exit the restaurant, Crowley couldn’t focus on much but he knew they stopped for Aziraphale to speak to a waiter. Crowley didn’t know if it was their waiter or not.

 

Outside, the crisp air of London engulfed Crowley like a sweet, gentle hug. Thankful for the change of scenery and fresh air, he breathed in slow, then released it.

The demon still supported his weight, walking them both as fast as he could manage. Crowley breathed again, this time for different purposes, welcoming Aziraphale’s scent. Crowley murmured something. It was under his breath, just so, light and gentle in the air of the evening. It flew away with the wind and he was sure of it.

He was so sure that it latched onto the wind, flying away into the evening, into the mouth of someone with less confidence than him, someone that just needed an extra push.

It was a gift.

A gift it was, as Aziraphale’s body stilled momentarily. He tensed beside Crowley, arm around him growing stiffer. Crowley felt it, too.

It didn’t take him long to shake whatever it was off and begin walking again.

Crowley’s eyes focused on the ground, watching both of their shoes go. Aziraphale’s first, Crowley’s feet following after.

Then, Aziraphale stilled again, turning to face Crowley. He backed Crowley into an alleyway that he hadn’t even realized they’d arrived at. It was dark and wet and disgusting. “Azira– what’re you-”

Aziraphale pulled Crowley closer and looked into his eyes. He stared for a moment, maybe two, before he snapped his fingers.