A great many things happened in the twenty four hours preceding the Armageddon-That-Wasn't. An angel possessed a mortal body, a demon grieved, an unlikely romance between a witch and witchfinder resulted in the aversion of nuclear destruction, four of Them defeated four of Them, and together they saved the world by the very human nature of an eleven-year-old boy who had been born the Antichrist. And so, those two sworn enemies and old friends turned in the tools of the Riders of the End of Days, and shared a miraculous bottle of wine at a bus stop in Lower Tadfield. With All That sorted, things Went On.
“Well, I’m beat.” Crowley sank into the bus seat, body taken to its natural sprawl, albeit more wearily than normal. He winced. Had he had a hand in the design of bus seats? They were hellishly uncomfortable.
“The world nearly ended, my dear. I’m not surprised.” Aziraphale smiled sympathetically.
“Yeah, twice for me.” Crowley sighed and let his head tilt lazily to one side.
“Pardon?” Aziraphale asked.
Crowley rocked his head to look up at Aziraphale with a sad smile. “I thought you were gone, angel.”
Aziraphale blinked. Crowley’s bittersweet despair seeped into him where their arms touched in the narrow seats. “Crowley…” he whispered, returning the sad look with an apologetic one. He touched Crowley’s arm.
Crowley shifted in his seat and moved his arm so as to grab Aziraphale tightly by the hand, as if by sheer force of will, he would prevent Aziraphale from ever disappearing again. He glanced up at Aziraphale, his jaw set firmly. Don’t you even think about leaving me again.
“What made you… change your mind, my dear?” he asked softly, squeezing Crowley’s hand. “About Alpha Centauri.”
“Well, wouldn’t be much of a vacation if…” he drawled, trailing off as Aziraphale fixed him with a knowing look. “Alright. I was worried about you.”
“I won’t even think about you!” Aziraphale mimicked Crowley’s blustering tone.
“Hey…” Crowley narrowed his eyes at the angel. “I didn’t sound like that, did I?”
“Just so,” Aziraphale chuckled.
“Blimey. What a brat.”
Aziraphale sighed. “To be fair, I might have gone off with you, had I known…” He sighed again.
“What?” Crowley asked, flexing his fingers and lacing them with Aziraphale’s. What in the worlds could have happened that would make Aziraphale even think about changing his mind?
“Well… Just like I said, I needed to speak to a higher authority. The Highest Authority. I… I thought it would make a difference.” Aziraphale’s face twisted in disappointment.
“You spoke to God?” Crowley’s eyebrows lifted over his glasses.
“The Metatron.” Aziraphale pursed his lips.
“Ahh, the ol’ talking head.”
“Quite literally.” His lips were stuck in a frown.
“What’d the big windbag have to say?”
Aziraphale choked on a laugh. “Crowley!”
“What? They are.”
The angel shook his head with a sigh. “They said…” His expression grew pained, brows knitting together. “That the point wasn’t to prevent the war, but to… to win it.” His heart sank in his chest again at the very thought. Even though they had averted total destruction, it still hurt to think that all of Heaven, even… even God might have been willing to see the war through.
Crowley could see how it was eating away at Aziraphale. “What about… like I said - what if this was the plan all along? For us to… to thwart the end of the world?” He brightened with a smile.
“Could be.” Aziraphale tried on a smile.
“Angel… You never belonged,” Crowley said gently. “No more than I did.” He shifted in his seat, pulled himself up a bit and tried--failed--to get more comfortable. “I’ve seen the way you get around Gabriel.” He scowled. “That’s not respect for authority. That’s fear. Like a beaten dog.”
Aziraphale frowned and shifted uncomfortably. “The angels did get a bit rough with me, in the end…” He straightened his coat.
“What?” Crowley snapped, venom in his voice. “ Who got rough with you?”
Aziraphale glanced at Crowley, startled by his thinly veiled fury. “Oh, well…” He wheedled.
“Tell me, angel. I’ll see to it that--”
“Oh, Crowley, do calm down. Please. Let’s… let’s put all that aside for now.” He patted Crowley’s white knuckles laced over his own.
“I’ll do it, you know. I doused Ligur with holy water. I’ll fucking do it.”
“You what?” Aziraphale eyes grew wide.
“Insurance.” Crowley grinned broadly. “I told you, angel! Told. You.”
“Oh my… You actually used it.” Aziraphale looked both awed and surprised. “What… what did it do?”
“Oh, it was horrible.” Crowley grimaced. “I mean, it was great, watching his stupid face slough off like--oh, you know that movie? Raiders of the Lost Ark?”
Aziraphale shook his head.
“How can you not have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark?”
“I run a bookshop, Crowley. I’m not one for movies.”
“Right--first thing we’re doing with the rest of our lives is watching Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Aziraphale chuckled. “You’re right, you know.” He smiled fondly at the demon. “We are on our side.” His smile brightened from within. For so long he had denied it. In the end, Crowley was right. Theirs was the side of choice, of peace. There would always be chaos, but that wasn’t so much devilish intervention as it was human nature. There would always be a little good with the bad, a little bad in the good. That was where they resided.
Crowley melted under Aziraphale’s soft glow. “Took you long enough.”
“Some things are worth waiting for, aren’t they?” Aziraphale asked with a quirk of his brow.
“Some things,” Crowley muttered low. “I won’t wait another six thousand years for this.” He took Aziraphale’s cheek in hand and met his lips.
Aziraphale’s chest tightened at the tender confidence in Crowley’s touch, and his hand found its place over the demon’s heart. No more stolen kisses. This kiss belonged to them.
“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do,” Crowley whispered against Aziraphale’s lips.
“I think it may take a bit more than one night to amend six thousand years, my dear…” Aziraphale replied with a twinkle in his eye, cheeks rosy.