The first time he looks at him, the angel’s wings glisten.
Whiteness capturing every sparkle of light, almost blinding, and still he keeps looking, he simply can’t avert his gaze from that sight. His face glimmers with joy, pure joy – that of every angelic host – yet his eyes hold something he can’t easily forget, a lovability that makes him want to keep looking at him again and again, to endlessly reminisce about that smile.
The other angels whisper to each other, blending into the light of that immense reign they both live in. Yet, those wings shine upon everything else, as if nothing else exists anymore.
He’s called Aziraphale. An easy name to remember, unlike the others.
As the rain starts to fall, he shelters Crowley’s head with his wing.
It’s almost instinctive, immediate. He doesn’t even wonder why he’s doing it: he’s an angel, after all. Doing the right thing is just one of his duties. Even towards adversaries? Yes, even towards them. However, thinking of that demon as an enemy feels strangely wrong.
When Crowley steps closer to avoid the first raindrops, gently touching the feathers with his head, he lets out a sigh.
Time stops and, a moment after, he’s there, in a corner of his cell. Aziraphale turns around, almost incapable of believing his eyes.
Crowley makes fun of him for venturing all the way to France only to eat something good, but it’s not important: he’s there, with him. Sarcastic, wry, but there he is. And even when they’re finally out of the Bastille, arm in arm, that guilty sense of relief doesn’t seem to leave Aziraphale.
“So, angel, tell me again: you crossed the sea and came here, in the middle of a revolution, only to nibble on something?”
“I knew you’d have come for me.”
He plays one of his best cards, maybe the riskiest one, but he just can’t help it. Crowley takes the hit, shaking his head: no one could tell if he’s embarrassed, or maybe if the answer, deep down, delights him.
“Don’t be too sure. I already told you what could happen, if they find out I helped an angel.”
Aziraphale chuckles. If only Crowley could have seen his face moments before, in the exact moment he heard his, perhaps his tone would lose the confidence he always flaunts.
The bookshop door opens with a single gesture. Aziraphale is sitting behind his desk, busy reading who knows what and munching, as usual. Crowley rolls his eyes behind his dark, rounded glasses: some habits never change.
“Would you mind sharing, angel?”
He stands up in a heartbeat, almost letting his porcelain saucer fall off the table. “Crowley! You might have warned me, I would have…” he starts, ready for a long and detailed explanation, but the other pulls something out of one of his jacket’s pockets, stopping him.
“I’m sorry to interrupt such an important culinary moment, but I happen to have something for you.”
Aziraphale grabs the packet, eyes full of curiosity. Finally opening it, he can’t believe his eyes.
A book. Not an ordinary one: a collection of prophecies from the XVI century, the original French version many believed lost forever.
He gently rubs the leather cover, fingers slightly trembling. His eyes lift, meeting Crowley’s, behind the dark lenses he uses to hide his golden irises. Aziraphale could almost swear he’s blushing, but it’s hard to tell, in the dim light of the evening.
“How… how did you find it? There are no copies left of this edition, I thought they were all destroyed centuries ago!”
Crowley shrugs. “Let’s say I have useful connections” he answers, with his usual slightly sarcastic expression Aziraphale knows so well. Crowley turns around, and he’s unprepared for the clumsy hug coming from behind.
“Thank you so much!”
Crowley blushes even harder, cursing his treacherous human body. But Aziraphale’s happiness is too pure, almost contagious.
The river has already become their favourite meeting point. It came naturally: one of the things you get used to, in the course of an immortal life.
Aziraphale looks at the ducks swimming. He smiles, that shy grin Crowley had seen so many times to lose count.
“Thanks for that book, really. I wouldn’t have known where to find it.”
Crowley waves his hand carelessly, as to say it was nothing, not a problem for him anyway, but at the same time struggling to find some sarcastic words to balance that conversation and leave that embarrassing moment behind… until Aziraphale comes closer. So close he can feel his nose lightly touching his skin. So close he almost doesn’t notice the kiss, a soft kiss Aziraphale places on his cheek.
Suddenly, he’s at a loss for words.
Aziraphale looks into his eyes with a kindness and a gratitude he doesn’t deserve, while the outside world seems to stop and melt in a confused painting: for a moment, Crowley is afraid he accidentally stopped the flow of time himself. But people still walk around and talk, the river flows, children play with kites, and they’re still there, staring at each other as if the whole world doesn’t exist anymore.
What if I really dared to kiss you? he finds himself thinking. What would you do, Aziraphale? His scent inebriates him, lingering on his skin the moment they part. If I placed my lips on yours, just once, would I be able to stop and not do it ever again?
Just like the couples he saw in the park, hand in hand, gifting each other small gestures of affection. Their bond isn’t the same. They are… friends? Close friends, old friends. Perhaps, something more than that.
Laying his hands on the cold railing, he lets that question linger in his mind.
“What’s that thing?”
Aziraphale just brought him a vinyl record and Crowley examines the cover back and forth, as if he doesn’t know exactly what to do with it.
“A Beatles’ album. Maybe they aren’t the…” – Aziraphale tries to remember the band Crowley always listens to whenever bringing him home in his car, the one with a name reminding him of a fabric – “… Velvet Underground, but they’re quite talented, if you ask me.”
“Mph. Too bon-ton for my tastes.” Crowley shakes his head, but puts the record on the table anyway, next to his player. Aziraphale knows him too well not to understand he will surely listen to it, once alone.
Days pass and, when Aziraphale opens the car door again, the refrain from Help! greets him. He sits down, trying to remain impassive, while Crowley starts the engine again, as if nothing nothing has happened. They stay silent until the next traffic light.
“So? Still too bon-ton for your tastes?” Aziraphale asks, displaying all of his innocence on purpose. Crowley turns right, snorting.
“Shut up, angel. I have nothing else to listen to.”
The day after, when Aziraphale calls him, he can clearly hear a muffled echo from Ticket to Ride’s muffled. A delighted smile brightens his face.
“Why did you have a plant hidden in your pantry?”
Crowley slaps his forehead. Why didn’t he actually punish the damn plant by throwing it from the window, instead of hiding it where he could easily forget about its stupid existence?
Aziraphale comes back from the pantry with a picnic basket and a small plant in a different vase, but green and happy like he hasn’t seen in ages. It probably fared better without him, the angel must have understood that, or he wouldn’t be looking at him with a mixture of doubt and disapproval.
“I was doing an experiment; it needed some shadow. The pantry was the perfect place.”
Aziraphale’s stare loses its uncertainty and becomes sympathetic. He knows for sure: Crowley turns around and starts filling the picnic basket, turns the faucet on, pretends to clean up something, anything as long as he doesn’t have to look at him.
Maybe, deep down, he’s truly nice as Aziraphale thinks. But he’s willing to have a finger cut, not to admit it out loud.
When they finish preparing everything they need, Aziraphale takes the basket. Crowley follows him, grunting, slamming the door behind him. Why, why for Hell’s sake, the angel always wins?
It’s a chill night, even if summer is about to end. The Ritz closes, the waiters hurrying to clean everything and go back home, the cars drive fast on the road. Crowley follows their lights with his eyes, as they turn the corner and disappear, blending with the neon signs. Aziraphale’s jacket shines under the moon. If he spread his wings, his feathers would capture that light and glisten as luminous as the stars. That thought makes him happy.
“Anyway, my offer still stands.” Crowley clears his throat the moment his partner looks at him, with those clear eyes he never gets tired to admire. “You movin’ to my place, I mean.”
“I may think about it.” The noises around have softened, only the gravel under their feet creaks in the darkness. “But only if you promise and try to be kinder with your plants, and add something to your bookshelf, maybe…”
Aziraphale drops the sentence, then throws him a knowing look. He does it on purpose, because he knows Crowley will sigh and then snort, and they will start bickering like the old married couple they are. Crowley sighs, rolls his eyes and snort. “I can grant you a single one of the things you asked… for now. Choose wisely.”
The clouds are gone and now the sky is filled with stars. From the moment he started living on Earth, Crowley became fond of them, and he still doesn’t know why.
When he looks at Aziraphale, the reason becomes suddenly clear.
They stop under a linden tree, and just then, while the air seems to crystallize and the sky gleams in all of its glorious beauty, Crowley does the only thing that frightens him more than the thought of losing Aziraphale: he kisses him. A small yet meaningful kiss on the lips, nervous but full of everything he feels, of everything he has ever felt in his long existence.
His best friend. His partner. His soulmate. Aziraphale. The only being, angel or not, who always understood him. And now they’re alone, two wandering souls lost in a world they helped creating: who could keep them from looking for some happiness?
As the kiss ends, Aziraphale looks at him, and his smile shines with the light of all the stars above them.
There has to be one just for us somewhere, thinks Crowley, but for now, the Earth will do. We earned it.
They keep walking: the night is clear, and the fading summer still has some calm nights to offer. Aziraphale doesn’t speak, but his fingertips gently brush against Crowley’s. It’s enough of a promise.
The amazing, complicated world they live in hosts many eternal things. Some of them are wonderful, other terrible, other leave him a feeling of wonder, something impossible to explain with words, because one can never find the right ones, in any other universe known.
Their love for each other, he muses, is one of these.