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New York City, 1929

 

By the time the taxi is dropping Aziraphale off at the front entrance of the house on 5th Avenue, it's near eleven o'clock, and a woman is pouring champagne from the third floor balcony to the second. She is meaning to pour it into another woman's mouth, but mostly succeeding into drenching the shrubs below in bootlegged alcohol.

"Oh for Heaven's sake," Aziraphale says. "Americans."

He subtly redirects the stream so it's at least getting into the woman's mouth. No point in wasting alcohol, after all. Aziraphale adjusts the front of his dress shirt and fluffs out his coattails before heading inside, upon where he immediately plucks a duck egg off a silver tray that the help is carrying, soft-boiled to perfection. Then he sees the bar, where they're serving up what look to be martinis. It will be a shame, Aziraphale thinks, to see all this go so very soon.

Aziraphale heads over to the bar and orders a martini. He pulls off his white gloves and tucks them into his front pants, tips off his top hat and lets that rest next to his arm. His whole outfit is crème colored, except for the white shirt and vest, and the blue bow tie. Aziraphale is fond of this fashion—it demands audience without being too ludicrous. After the Victorian era, he was afraid people might never get dressed in proper eveningwear again, which would have been more tragic than the introduction of motorcars, in his opinion.

"Oh," he says, as the bartender serves him his martini, garnished with three olives. "Could you add a few more olives? Say four more?"

The bartender barely glances up before he adds four more onto the skewer. Aziraphale pops all seven into his mouth and looks around the party as he chews, quite content to wiggle on his feet at the big band music that's blasting through the house.

This party has absolutely nothing to do with his mission. Aziraphale just heard about it while mulling about Wall Street from a very nice man named Charles who promptly invited him along. He was going to say no, but then Charles mentioned the hors d'oeuvres and, well, Aziraphale does love a good hors d'oeuvres. He's never been to a proper party in America, and he doubts there will ever be one like this again. Aziraphale isn't the keenest when it comes to the States. He's always found it a bit ridiculous since its inception. It's Crowley who loves America, for all its rebellion and far-fetched idealism and utter hubris. He used to write Aziraphale letters during the Revolution when he was working in the Colonies, to tell him he would never guess what they did now, he just would never guess.

Crowley would find it hard to believe that Aziraphale would have come here, to this party, where two men in elegant eveningwear are currently arm wrestling over caviar. Aziraphale would tell him, if they were talking. Aziraphale wonders if he'd even be here at all, if he and Crowley were talking. He takes a long sip of his drink. He doesn't want to think about Crowley right now. Crowley and his absolute disregard for their friendship, for their history, that he would ask Aziraphale for a suicide pill. Crowley who said I don't need you. And now it's been sixty-seven years, and Crowley hasn't said a word. Not that Aziraphale has said a word either. But Crowley hasn't said one—Aziraphale realizes he's about to crush the stem of his martini glass. He takes a deep breath, knocks back the rest of his drink, clears his mind of anything related to demons, and puts his top hat back on.

Being friends with a demon was a ridiculous venture, at any rate. They're hereditary enemies. And they were terrible friends, and Crowley always insisted on wearing black, and surely something else Aziraphale can't think of at the moment. He stands up and goes to find Charles and say hello. Poor Charles, who is going to lose his entire livelihood tomorrow.

Aziraphale cannot fathom who would own such a home (not even Charles seemed to know), but it's beautiful, and soaked in illegal booze. The walls are draped in thick curtains that cover expensive artwork when Aziraphale peaks behind them. The ceilings are high and somehow the house still feels dark, maybe because of the amount of people, or the forest green color of the paint. There is so much loud music and laughter and dancing that Aziraphale almost wants to join. It's infectious, this sort of decadent fun, this ability to party without fear of consequence. He can see the appeal. He has to squeeze his way through the sheer amount of people, and their happiness touches him. He feel how much they're enjoying themselves.

Aziraphale gets another drink and another hors d'oeuvre (prosciutto and melon, this time), before walking to the second floor. He hears the piano being played, discordant, off-key, and longs to see who it is. He's oddly fond of these party guests, these Americans.

Upstairs, Aziraphale sees a man with his elbow on the piano keys, the sound echoing and dying into the room, which is still crowded and yet somehow quieter than the first floor. He is staring ardently at a woman who's sitting on top of the piano, whispering something Aziraphale can't hear. The man looks positively drunk, both on alcohol and whatever she's saying. It's really quite a sight. She's dressed in all black, her dress long enough to be almost overly modest, though the back is cut so far down he can see nearly every inch of her spine. But she's wearing a black silk shawl draped around her shoulders that drips to her wrists. She has a long cigarette holder in her left hand, and the cigarette is begging to be ashed. She pays it no mind. And her hair, Aziraphale notices, this close, curled bob, is the exact same shade as Crowley's hair. There's a snake pin in it.

Aziraphale drops his martini glass. Glasses have been shattering all night, the sound shouldn't draw any attention, and it nearly doesn't, except the woman turns. The party continues, because it never stopped. Aziraphale feels himself slip back into 1862.

"Crowley," he says.

Crowley doesn't move. He looks positively ready to bolt, but that only lasts a moment. His yellow eyes clear, and he straightens, leans over to the man at the piano.

"Now go find me your friend like I said," he says. "There's a good lad."

The man jerks upright as if obeying a command, nearly trips over the bench of the piano to go find whomever it is Crowley needs him to find. Crowley finally ashes his cigarette onto the floor. The ashes disappear immediately. He glances at Aziraphale, who still hasn't moved.

"Angel," he says, as if they're meeting for an overdue lunch.

That snaps Aziraphale to it. He crosses the room to Crowley and nearly, nearly grabs him by his stupid, cigarette brandishing arm. Instead he clenches his fists.

"What are you doing here!?" he says.

"What are you doing here!?" Crowley has dark eye shadow on instead of his customary sunglasses, and it makes his eyes pop gold. "You don't even like America!"

Aziraphale watches his mouth as he speaks. It's painted wine red.

"I thought you quit smoking," he says, because he has nothing else to say.

Crowley stamps out his cigarette and swings his legs over the side of the piano. Aziraphale has to step back or risk getting a face full of heels and silk stockings. Somehow, Crowley is still managing to lounge, even on a musical instrument.

"I'm here on temptation," he says. "Local gangsters. Bootlegging."

"Gangsters?" Aziraphale says, scandalized.

"It's Prohibition," Crowley says, staring at him. "Where did you think the alcohol you were consuming tonight was coming from? Charity?"

Aziraphale hadn't actually considered the ins and outs of it all. He knew, of course, that Hell was responsible for Prohibition. The rise of organized crime afterwards was an absolute win for them. Aziraphale still isn't sure if Crowley himself is responsible for it or not. At any rate, everyone in America seems to be drinking somehow so he hasn't been very concerned by it. Aziraphale clicks his tongue.

"Well I'm here on business too."

"Crashing the stock market?" Crowley says, and Aziraphale were holding a second martini glass he'd drop that as well.

"How—how did you—?"

Crowley smiles. Almost. At another time, if they weren't fighting, perhaps he would. It's not until this moment that Aziraphale realizes how much he misses having Crowley smile at him. Crowley picks up his cigarette holder from where it's sitting precariously on the edge of the piano and pinches the end of the snuffed out cigarette. It straightens out to a new, unlit one. Crowley finally hops off from the piano.

"Your lot are always planning something," he says. "Anyway, decadence never lasts."

"No," Aziraphale says, looking down. "I suppose it can't."

They stand there in silence for too long, the air between them threatening to burst. Aziraphale wants to keep talking, it's just that he can't think of what to say. When he looks up Crowley is watching him with an expectant, nervous expression on his face, like he, too, wants to keep talking. Almost like nothing has changed.

"Mr. Fell!"

Aziraphale spins around and sees Charles walking towards him, champagne glass raised in greeting. He wants to snap his fingers and send him off to Canada for all the absolute horrid timing he has. Charles reaches out and shakes Aziraphale's hand quite enthusiastically, drunk, Aziraphale realizes, before gently taking Crowley's and bending to press a kiss to it. Aziraphale's brow pinches.

"Ms. Coraline, how lovely to see you," he says. "I didn't realize you knew Mr. Fell."

"We don't know each other," Aziraphale says, on instinct, and Crowley's expression flattens.

"Oh, but we do. We go way back," he says.

"Oh?" Charles says.

"Yes." Crowley pats Charles' shoulders. "Ask Mr. Fell about it. Excuse me, gentlemen."

Then Crowley steps past them and saunters off to another room, the beads of his dress moving like scales that have caught sunlight before Aziraphale has a chance to really digest what's just happened. A moment later, Aziraphale understands that Crowley has left him there, that Crowley has not, as Aziraphale has spent the last sixty-seven years often imagining, apologized for being an absolute bastard and suggest they have lunch or dinner or breakfast or some other meal or perhaps all three. He's just left. And what's worse, Aziraphale thinks they might not be on the best of terms still.

He watches the doorway that Crowley's disappeared into and notices that a few party guests are watching him like he's just been part of some sordid lover's spat. Charles, in fact, is watching him like he's privy to something no one else is.

"I didn't realize you knew Ms. Coraline," he says.

"Who?" says Aziraphale. "Oh. No. I—that is—yes, we have a history."

He blushes, fiercely. Honestly, that name.

"Not like that, you understand! We've known each other a long time and we just—really, I do need a drink. Please excuse me."

He retreats, quickly, back downstairs to the bar for another martini, broken glass crunching under his shoes. Aziraphale thinks he should possibly, probably, leave. What an absolutely horrible mess this has turned out to be. Instead he gets another martini and asks for as many olives as the bartender can stand to give him, which, as it turns out, is sixteen.

--

An hour later he spots Crowley by the bandstand. More specifically, he spots Crowley's ludicrously long legs by the bandstand. Twenty minutes later he sees Crowley's hair as he leads a group of people outside to light off a firecracker. Then Crowley's eyes, the thick, encompassing yellow of his eyes, as a gangster talks to Crowley by the bar. Crowley is listening to the man but still looking all around the room, surveying every little detail. He's never told Aziraphale why he doesn't change his eyes, and Aziraphale has never asked. He likes Crowley's eyes the way they are, anyhow, though he'd never say it aloud. There are a great many things he's never said aloud to Crowley.

Crowley's eyes settle on him and Aziraphale starts. Has he been looking for Aziraphale, this whole time? Aziraphale wishes they could talk. He wants that, secretly, just not like this. Not here, with a bunch of drunk Americans dancing and spilling alcohol all over each other. This is the absolute worst place he could have run into Crowley. He's so deep in renewed distaste for Americans that he doesn't realize Crowley's approached him until he's right there in front of him. Crowley's discarded his gauzy shawl at some point since their last interaction, so Aziraphale can see his bare shoulders and feels his face flush. Crowley looks lost, and somehow that makes Aziraphale flush harder.

He's seen this look before. Seen it and pretended not to. The way Crowley's eyes follow him, wanting. The way Crowley looks at him like he might Fall again at any second but he trusts Aziraphale will catch him. There have been moments they've held each other's gaze too long, Aziraphale knows. He's come to terms with his own longing ages ago. But Crowley has never reached out, not once. And it's only in the last two thousand years that Aziraphale's started to wonder if it's not because Crowley is trying to tempt him, but because he's trying not to. That Crowley looks at him like that and means it as something more.

And that is, well, that is something Aziraphale is still wrapping his head around. He's quite sure that if Crowley ever kissed him, he'd kiss him back.

"Aziraphale," Crowley says, drawing his attention back, eyelids smudged dark, looking for all the world like he's going to say something quite charming and possibly a little stupid.

It is profoundly unfair, Aziraphale thinks, that Crowley should be wearing such a stunning dress while they're in the middle of a fight and he's here on a perfectly respectable mission to destroy the economy.

"Charles thinks you're my lover," he says, in a bit of a blind panic.

"Does he?" Crowley says, brows flying up. "That's very forward of him."

"Crowley, be serious!"

"What am I supposed to say?"

A group of dancers bump into them. Aziraphale watches them miserably. He has no idea what kind of dancing is happening tonight, not a clue since the gavotte went out of style so many years ago. In his heart of hearts he keeps hoping it will come back. This is new aged dancing is too much for him. He thought he'd be able to show Crowley the gavotte. That they'd dance it together, maybe. Aziraphale adjusts his coat, huffs.

"This is your fault," he says. "You just left me."

Crowley's eyes narrow. He takes a long drag off his cigarette and says, "Did you tell him that you don't fraternize with my lot?"

There's nothing proud about Crowley's expression when he says it. Aziraphale blanches. That wasn't what he meant, that wasn't what he meant at all. He takes several deep breaths, trying to prepare some speech, but nothing comes to him. Then the gangster Crowley was talking to yells over to him from the bar.

"Coraline!" he says. "Thought you wanted to show me something!"

"Coming right now, Frank." Crowley speaks without moving.

For his part, Aziraphale turns on the heels of his oxfords and retreats outside through one of the open French doors. The back garden is a wide, open space filled with white ornate chairs, tables, bloomed flowers, and neatly trimmed hedges. Aziraphale can breathe easier out here. At one of the tables, he sees a group of men smoking and playing poker. Closer to the edge of the property, a younger couple is slow dancing, even though the music can barely be heard, and it's too fast for how they're dancing, anyway. Aziraphale feels strangely guilty.

The thing is, he and Crowley have fought before. Though maybe fought isn't the right word. They've quarreled. They've bickered. The first time was when Aziraphale learned that Crowley had been on Earth for over two thousand years and never even bothered to try the food. They were in Japan together at the time, and Aziraphale thought it only right that Crowley try the sushi, which he attempted to deliver to Crowley's mouth via chopsticks before Crowley slapped it out of his hand in surprise. The second time was discussing how the Arrangement might work, because Aziraphale kept having second thoughts. The third time was a disagreement over whether committing adultery in an orgy made it a worse sin, which it does, and Crowley never relented but he was laughing, so maybe he was just giving Aziraphale a hard time.

In 1862, Crowley had asked him to meet as if nothing was wrong, a usual meeting. Aziraphale thought they'd get lunch, maybe make plans for the theater. Then Crowley had handed him the note. He assumed Crowley would come by the bookshop within the hour to apologize—not with words, Crowley rarely ever said the things that were most important—only he never showed. Days passed. Then weeks. Those weeks turned to years, which turned into the twentieth century. Aziraphale rang in the New Year alone, drinking cocoa that had long gone cold.

It took awhile before Aziraphale realized that Crowley had been sleeping most of the time away. He broke down and went to Crowley's flat exactly once, a few days after the new century began, just be sure Crowley hadn't somehow procured holy water in his own way. He found Crowley nested in his bed linens, but also in his wings, his hair long and curly and spilling over his pillow. Crowley slept so still, and yet Aziraphale got the feeling he wasn't sleeping peacefully at all. He didn't want Crowley to know he'd been there, except, standing there, Aziraphale had the strangest desire well up inside him. He wanted Crowley to open his eyes. Wanted to see them. Aziraphale was suddenly so certain that if Crowley didn't, he'd never get to look at Crowley's eyes again.

"Mr. Fell, do you play?"

Aziraphale blinks. "I beg your pardon?"

Charles is next to him, has been there for Heaven knows how long. He points to the dealer, who's shuffling the deck.

"Would you like in on this next hand? Blinds are fifty and a hundred."

"Oh, I'd better not," Aziraphale says, laughing awkwardly.

Heaven is wavering again on their official stance on gambling, but Aziraphale doesn't feel like having to explain why he miracled himself a sum of American dollars just to play poker for the sheer fun of it. At any rate, he's not quite sure of the rules.

Charles touches his shoulder suddenly, as if they're friends. He has bright, drunk eyes, but he looks serious.

"Go talk to Ms. Coraline," he says.

Aziraphale stares at him. "Who? Oh."

"She's been talking to Frank all night," Charles says, then leans closer and drops his voice to a whisper. "I heard he's a gangster. But I think she still has eyes for you, Mr. Fell."

"Look, you've really got it wrong—" Aziraphale presses his lips together, because really, he's only got it half wrong. "—That is, I'm quite sure there's nothing going on with Frank."

Charles is staring blankly out into the yard. He has this look about him that humans get when they're drunk sometimes or considering something very carefully, like he might just walk off into the night and never be heard from again. Humans are funny in that way. They have free will. Can just do things. Aziraphale touches Charles' shoulders and watches him come back to the present moment, but Aziraphale has already put the thought into his head. And he wants it that way. At the very least, at least Aziraphale can do this.

"I'm thinking of going to Canada," Charles says. "Tomorrow. Withdrawing my money from the bank."

Aziraphale smiles. "I think that's a splendid idea."

He excuses himself back inside for yet another drink. By this point he thinks he should just pilfer the bottle from the bartender, or get himself back to the apartment he's taken on for the mission and forget this whole dreadful evening. Tomorrow morning he can crash the stock market as intended and head back to London, back to his bookshop where at least things are familiar in their misery.

About the time that Aziraphale decides on one last drink, a man runs down the stairs looking absolutely terrified, and that man is Frank, which can only mean one thing. He shoots straight out the front door and doesn't stop. Aziraphale follows the trail of fear he left behind to the third floor, to a door ajar. He pushes it open and sees a woman laughing with Crowley. They're in some kind of study, loads of books and a telescope unused and dusty by the window.

"Oh I just adore your dress," the woman says to Crowley. "I adore it. Where'd that rat bastard go?"

"He realized he was late for bed," Crowley says.

She laughs. "Your accent is darling."

Crowley snaps, then catches her chin between his long fingers and speaks directly into her eyes.

"Your taxi is waiting downstairs," he says. "You're going home now and drinking some water and going to sleep."

"Okay," she says, sober.

Then she's walking out of the room. Aziraphale shuts the door behind her. Even with the door closed, the room is still alive with trumpeting music and bass and laughter from outside. It's quieter, but only just. Aziraphale takes off his top hat. He's nervous suddenly. It's just that he thinks about it sometimes, how Crowley had told him he didn't need him. He knows he was just hurling an insult in the heat of the moment. Except for the times when it's too quiet and Aziraphale wonders if Crowley really doesn't need him, and he can't stand that feeling.

Crowley picks up his champagne glass from the side table and drains it one go, cracks his neck and shoulders in a stretch.

"What the Hell just—" Aziraphale starts.

"Frank tried to get a little handsy," Crowley says, and makes a gesture like he's pinching an invisible woman's bottom. "So I'm afraid he had to go."

"Oh. Well that was nice of you," Aziraphale says.

Crowley spins on him, hissing, dress shifting. It really is like snakeskin.

"Not now," he says. "Don't do this to me right now, angel."

He steps past Aziraphale like he's going to leave, again, and Aziraphale thinks that if that happens he really will lose it.

"Crowley!"

He turns and looks surprised that Aziraphale has followed him. Aziraphale means to stop walking towards him so fiercely, only his body won't stop moving. Crowley's eyes pull wider and he stumbles back, the two of them moving in tandem until Aziraphale realizes they're about to hit the wall, and only then does he manage to make himself stop. There is so much he wants to say, and Crowley smells like strange champagne.

"You do realize what Charles would say if he walked in," Crowley says, finally.

"Oh, please be serious for one moment," Aziraphale says. "You've been avoiding me all evening."

"I'm working. Doing Satan's evil bidding. You know. The demon thing."

Aziraphale bristles. "Since when do you actually work? It's been sixty—"

"I know how long it's been," Crowley says, and he doesn't sound mad, he sounds like maybe Aziraphale has forgotten.

"Then why…" Aziraphale trails off, then straightens. "Why didn't you come by the bookshop?"

"Why did you come by my flat while I was sleeping?"

Aziraphale's face rushes hot. Crowley's gaze softens, though it was never very hard to begin with. This is Crowley, his Crowley, who has been soft and patient and is good, for all he claims not to be. Aziraphale wonders if this is what want is, to be angry at someone and still have the desire to kiss them. And he does have that desire. He's had it for hundreds of years, maybe longer.

"I wanted to make sure—" Aziraphale starts, and the sentence turns to dust on his tongue. What can he say? That he cannot bear to think that Crowley might want to actually die, that the thought that he might have to exist in a world where Crowley would not is unfathomable? That maybe if Crowley kissed him he wouldn't object? That he wants Crowley to need him as much as he does? He feels a terrible lump in his throat and swallows it, says, "I had to be sure you were…keeping in line."

Crowley raises a thin eyebrow. "Keeping in line? I'm a demon."

"You know what I mean!"

"I really don't, actually," Crowley says. "I'm not a mind reader, angel. And we haven't spoken much, recently, have we?"

"Well, one of us could apologize," Aziraphale says.

"Yes, one of us could."

Neither one of them says anything. They watch each other, expectant. Aziraphale sighs.

"Or I suppose we could just keep fighting."

"I suppose we could," says Crowley, suspiciously.

"Or I suppose—oh for Heaven's sake," Aziraphale says, and kisses him.

He can't be sure if he kisses Crowley that hard or if he just catches him that unawares, but the force of the kiss sends Crowley back against the wall. He makes a sound against Aziraphale's lips, something bitten off, and holds Aziraphale's face in his hands to deepen the kiss. Aziraphale has never done this, kissed like this. History has allowed for men to kiss in greeting but that time has long passed and Aziraphale has never kissed with intent. He's trembling and has to hold Crowley's arms to keep himself upright. Notices when he does so that Crowley's bare arms are covered in gooseflesh. He can taste the wax of Crowley's lipstick on his tongue, feel it against his lips.

Crowley starts to pull back and Aziraphale presses closer, keeps them lip locked, satisfied when Crowley groans into his mouth. If they part now they'll have to talk, and Aziraphale hasn't a clue what he'll say, how he'll explain this. He can't possibly speak of it. Looking has been one thing, touching is entirely another, and to speak—there are no words. Aziraphale isn't sure there ever will be. He has no explanation for Crowley.

Aziraphale's thigh is pressed between Crowley's, and after a few minutes it becomes clear to him that Crowley has decided to make an Effort—he's hard beneath his dress and Aziraphale can feel his cock pressed up against him. Aziraphale matches him. All of Crowley's desire and need and love is radiating off him so intently that Aziraphale is dizzy, swaying into him. He's always felt this undercurrent of intensity with Crowley, but now there's nothing holding it back. Crowley's eyes have been closed for some time, and Aziraphale wishes he'd open them. He hasn't shut his once.

He reaches down and grabs the hem of Crowley's dress. Hesitates for the first time. Crowley's eyes open, and they are the brightest, most brilliant that Aziraphale has ever seen them.

"Do it," Crowley says. "Please, you can. I need—"

"Oh good," Aziraphale says, or tries, anyway, except Crowley is kissing him senseless, fingers toying with the fine hairs at the base of his neck.

Aziraphale busies himself trying to pull up Crowley's dress, struck with an urgency so sharp in his pelvis it radiates into his hands. He thinks it might be lust. In the rush he both hears and feels the silk of Crowley's stockings rip under his fingers. He pulls back and looks down, embarrassed.

"Crowley, I'm so—"

"No, it's all right," Crowley says, breathless. "I'm already ruined, angel."

He grabs Aziraphale's hand and slides it farther up his thigh. Aziraphale sees where the stockings are attached the garters, because how else would they stay up, but it still strikes him stupid, especially the snake-shaped clasp holding the stockings in place. He just stares for a moment, then reaches out and traces the clasp. Crowley's thigh shakes. Then he pushes his dress up to his hips and pulls Aziraphale back to him, arms wrapped around his neck, clinging to him like any moment Aziraphale might up and leave.

Aziraphale doesn't. How could he. He uses the leverage to hold Crowley to the wall and they move, slowly, against each other, thighs interlocked. Aziraphale's cock swells and rubs against Crowley's leg. He feels too many things at once, and the driving thing being want. He wants. Crowley has buried his face in Aziraphale's neck so Aziraphale mouths at the exposed skin of his shoulder. He tastes salt, and something earthier, but never figures out what it is because Crowley pulls back to kiss him again and they move fast, faster still. Crowley's broken, shuddering breath in his ear is almost enough to send Aziraphale over the edge, but it's Crowley's thigh pressing insistently into his cock that pushes Aziraphale into orgasm. He stumbles forward, breaking rhythm, delighted when Crowley keeps working himself against him, hands clinging to his shoulder.

When Crowley comes, he's loud, but the music remains louder. He pulls back panting and wiping lipstick from his chin. Then he reaches out and wipes it from Aziraphale's lips. Aziraphale isn't sure he can move. Crowley is watching him with a look that is part dopey, part terrified, part utterly blissed out.

The door of the room begins to open, bringing in the noise from outside. Crowley's eyes pop wider and he snaps his fingers. The door slams shut again.

They look at each other. Crowley's lipstick is practically gone, kissed away, Aziraphale realizes, he's kissed Crowley's lipstick away. They've just made out against a wall, brought each other off against a wall, and Aziraphale can feel the evidence of it in his trousers. Crowley seems to also be coming to this realization, because he's now fidgeting and running a hand over his stockings to fix them. Aziraphale does the same to the mess in his trousers and clears his throat.

They speak at the same time:

"Well, I—"

"Perhaps we—"

Aziraphale presses his lips together. Crowley is watching the ceiling with great fascination, then the floor. Then he catches Aziraphale's gaze.

"How about a drink?" he says.

"Oh I could do with another drink," Aziraphale says, relieved.

They make their way down to the first floor. Aziraphale spots a mahogany clock on the wall and sees it's nearly two in the morning, but the party is no less busy than when he first arrived. Somehow, he barely hears the noise. Everything feels subdued now, walking next to Crowley. It's strange, Aziraphale thinks, that he doesn't feel the least bit of regret about what just happened. He feels a great many other things, but not regret. They don't speak. Next to him, Crowley is walking very carefully, like the floor might fall away.

Once they reach the bar, Crowley gets them both some champagne. Aziraphale is grateful when it's Crowley who speaks first.

"So I'll…see you back in England?" he says.

"Yes," Aziraphale says, and smiles. "Certainly."

He means that. He tips his glass forward and they cheers.

A few people squeeze between them. Then a few more. Eventually, they lose sight of each other. Aziraphale catches sight of Crowley one last time, tucking himself back into his gauzy shawl. Crowley gives him an awkward, almost bashful smile from across the room, but his eyes are warm and golden, before he disappears entirely. Aziraphale calls a taxi to take him back to his Manhattan apartment. He never does figure out whose house it was.

He sees Crowley twelve years later. There are Nazis, a church, a bomb, a satchel of saved books, and Crowley gently taking his hand across the seat of a Bentley during a quiet ride home. There is Crowley. Above all else, Aziraphale knows there will always be Crowley.