Aziraphale took a deep breath and hefted the surfboard under his arm. The man at the rental stand had given him a quick lesson and he’d practiced a few times on dry ground, but now it was time to try it for real. The waves weren’t very tall today, so with a bit of luck, he wouldn’t make a complete fool of himself.
He made a complete fool of himself.
He paddled out like he was supposed to and promptly missed six ridable waves. He finally chose one, but it fizzled out the moment he committed to it. The next thing he knew, he was arse over teakettle, tossing in the surf like a doll. The board, tethered to him for safekeeping, gave him a good smack in the head when he finally managed to surface. He panicked and went under again, no longer sure which way was up.
Someone’s arms went around him and pulled him out of the water. He sucked in a deep breath, then coughed, blinking salt out of his eyes. The sun seemed exceptionally bright overhead, and the ground beneath him rough when the water rushed out again.
Had he nearly drowned in a foot of water? How embarrassing.
“Hey, man, you all right?”
He looked up at the boy standing over him, the one who’d pulled him up out of the surf. Locks of auburn hair flopped over the dark sunglasses he wore, but it was his smile that caught Aziraphale’s attention. He looked like he was on the verge of laughing, and he was so beautiful Aziraphale didn’t even mind.
“Yes, I think so. Just got a bit turned around, then the board hit my head.” He rubbed at the still-sore spot. “Thank you.”
He couldn’t help the way his gaze dragged down over the rest of his rescuer. The boy was shirtless and tan, and wore a pair of bright red swimming trunks. He was almost entirely dry as well, having only had to come into the water up to his knees to pull Aziraphale out.
“No problem.” The boy extended a hand and helped Aziraphale to his feet. “It’s my job.” He nodded toward the lifeguard stand just up the beach.
Aziraphale felt himself grow warm with embarrassment. Not only had he failed his first time attempting to surf, but a handsome lifeguard had needed to save him from drowning in a foot of water. “I promise I’m not usually such a horrible swimmer.”
“Nah, s’alright. I always keep my eye on the first-time surfers.”
If there was a hole in the sand, Aziraphale would have crawled into it. “Well, I suppose that’s the end of my surfing career. I’ll just—” He gestured to the rental shack up the beach. “Turn this in and stick to what I know from now on.”
“Keep at it. You’ll get there.” The lifeguard stepped back with a grin. “I’ll watch out for you.” He headed back to the lifeguard stand.
Aziraphale watched him go and wished he hadn’t: the way the boy moved, even in sand, was entrancing. He sighed and picked up the surfboard. Maybe he’d give it another go. If nothing else, he might almost drown a second time and get to talk to the cute lifeguard again.
The red-orange curve of the sun was not long from dipping beneath the distant edge of the ocean, which meant Crowley was done for the day. He’d already taken down the flags in his area and locked them away for the night. He tugged on a worn t-shirt, packed up his duffel, and headed up the beach to the Hula Hut.
It was a Tuesday night, so there were quite a few empty seats at the bar. He settled into his usual spot down at the end and signaled to the bartender. The sky was gorgeous, all orange and purple, but there was still enough light to see the waves in the distance. The music playing over the cheap speakers drowned out the sound of them, something Crowley didn’t actually mind.
“Beer?” the bartender asked. Crowley was pretty sure his name was Dan.
“Cheapest you got,” Crowley replied.
Dan nodded and turned to the cooler behind.
“How come you never ask for my ID anymore?”
Dan grinned. “I know you’re actually 18 now, so I don’t have to cover my own ass.” He held his hands up. “Honestly, officer, I didn’t know it was a fake ID.” He set a bottle in front of Crowley. “Seventy.”
Crowley pulled three quarters out of his pocket and slid them across the bar. “Keep the change.”
“Hey, I make a dollar an hour, you know.”
Dan mock-saluted him before turning to help another customer. Crowley picked up the bottle and took a swig. It really hit the spot after a long, hot day on the beach. A pretty boring day too, unless you counted the sorta-rescue of the English guy trying to learn to surf. He’d never actually managed to get up on his board, but he hadn’t wiped out so badly again either.
Crowley was a little disappointed he hadn’t had the chance to talk to him again. He was cute, with that mop of blond curls and big blue eyes, and that accent. The guy had left while Crowley was watching some kids who were a little too far out for his liking, so he hadn’t even got a chance to get his name, or find out if he might come back.
He sipped his beer slowly until it was warm enough that he had to gut the rest of it down. He could afford one more, and that was it. He had plans for the eight dollars — six after taxes — that he made today, and drinking it away wasn’t part of it. He turned back to the bar, intending to catch Dan’s attention. To Crowley’s surprise, the English surfer was seated just a few spots down the bar from him.
The boy waved his fingers in greeting. “Goodness, it is you. I thought it might be. Hi.”
“Hey,” Crowley replied, grateful he still had his shades on. Otherwise he was sure his expression would’ve been totally uncool. “How was the surfing?”
The boy winced. “Well, I think you saw for yourself. Not that you were watching me, I imagine. Yours is an important job, and even though I nearly drowned the once, it’s not as if I was the only one in the ocean.”
“Nah, I watched you.” Crowley leaned heavily against the bar, trying to look as casual as possible. “In case you needed rescuing again.”
The boy blushed at that and looked away.
“Shit, sorry,” Crowley said. “I didn’t mean it like—”
“No, please, it’s fine. I’m grateful.” The boy’s expression brightened. “Let me buy you a drink! As a thank you, of course.”
Crowley had never turned down free alcohol in his entire life. “Yeah, sure, okay. I’ll have whatever you’re having, I guess.”
What the English boy was having was having was a much better quality of beer than Crowley could usually afford. The bartender looked as if he were considering asking him for ID, but at Crowley’s pleading look, he rolled his eyes and turned to the cooler.
“I should introduce myself,” the boy said, moving to sit next to Crowley. “I’m Aziraphale.”
Crowley was momentarily sidetracked by the way the Aziraphale’s lips wrapped around the syllables.
“It’s an odd one, I know,” Aziraphale continued, misinterpreting Crowley’s reaction. “An old family name.”
Crowley knew quite a few people with interesting names, which was the main reason he didn’t go by the one he’d been given.
“I’m Anthony. But my friends call me by my last name, Crowley.”
“Ah. So… what should I call you?”
Crowley took off his sunglasses and set them on the bar. Aziraphale stared at him with wide eyes, looking so hopeful that Crowley couldn’t help himself. “You should call me Crowley, definitely.”
Aziraphale’s smile was blinding. “Crowley. Pleasure to meet you.” He held out a hand.
When Crowley took it, something like a tingle went through him. Aziraphale must’ve felt it too, because he stared back at Crowley in surprise.
“Yeah, same,” Crowley repeated, his own voice oddly distant in his ears.
Two bottles of beer were set next to them with a loud thunk. They both jumped. Dan smirked at them, then turned away.
They were still holding hands, Crowley realized.
“Sorry,” he said, pulling away. His face felt warm. Shit, he was blushing. What the hell? He was usually the cool one, making the other guy blush and stammer. Crowley picked up one of the the bottles. “Thanks for the beer.”
“You’re welcome.” Aziraphale picked up the other one and clinked it against Crowley’s. “To a lovely summer.”
They sat at the bar for more than an hour, talking and laughing, and drinking far more than they should. Crowley ended up spending most of what he would’ve taken home that day, but he didn’t care. Aziraphale was fascinating and cute, and Crowley wanted to listen to him talk all night. He lived in England, but was here for the summer visiting his aunt. He’d just finished his first year of what he called ‘college’ and had to take exams called ‘A-levels’ in another year or so. Crowley would be lucky to graduate from high school this next year, so it all sounded fairly exotic.
Aziraphale had to be home by 10:00, it turned out. Crowley didn’t have a curfew anymore, hadn’t since he was sixteen, but he didn’t say that. He just walked Aziraphale to the bus stop, listening to him talk about his plans for the summer.
“I don’t think surfing’s for me,” he said when Crowley suggested he keep at it. “But I couldn’t well have visited California without saying I’d tried it.”
“But if you aren’t surfing, you won’t have a reason to hang out at the beach.”
“Oh, I think I’ve got reason enough.”
There was a flirty tilt to his voice, one that sent a tingle down Crowley’s spine all over again. Crowley turned to look at him and Aziraphale smiled, eyes bright.
Crowley stopped walking and caught his hand. “Oh yeah?”
Aziraphale wet his lips, then stepped closer, looking up at Crowley. “Yes.”
Crowley reached up, touched Aziraphale’s cheek, watching his face. The moonlight bathed his pale skin and hair, making him look as if he were glowing.
“You look like an angel,” he said, so softly he wasn’t sure Aziraphale had heard him for a moment.
Aziraphale stared back at him, eyes wide, then leaned in to kiss him. It was a soft, gentle slide of lips, nothing compared to the kisses Crowley’d had in the back seats of cars, but still electrifying in a way he’d never felt before.
Aziraphale pulled away at the sound of the approaching bus. “Oh, I… I have to go.”
“I’m working every day this week, so you can find me here.” Please find me here.
“I will.” Aziraphale turned to look at the bus, now almost at the stop. “Good night, Crowley!” He went up on his toes to press one more kiss against Crowley’s mouth, then ran to the stop just in time to wave at the driver.
Crowley watched the bus pull away. He touched his fingertips to his mouth and grinned.
It had been the best month of Aziraphale’s life. He didn’t see Crowley every day, but they spent as much time together as they could. They walked on the beach, they held hands on the boardwalk, they shared milkshakes, they kissed at the top of the Ferris wheel. It was all blissfully romantic.
They also spent many nights doing what Crowley jokingly called ‘beach blanket bingo.’ A blanket was involved, as were hands and mouths and various other body parts. Those nights often ended with the two of them a sticky, sandy mess and Aziraphale late for curfew. His aunt would narrow her eyes at him, then assign him extra household chores as punishment. It was well worth getting in a bit of trouble for, to be honest.
This was the last night, though. Aziraphale wasn’t sure how he would make it through his flight back to England tomorrow. The thought of saying goodbye to Crowley was too much to bear, so he didn’t let himself think about it.
They’d spread a blanket on the sand on their favorite stretch of dark, quiet beach. They kissed, and held each other, and made each other giggle and moan and gasp — something they’d got rather good at in the short time they’d known each other. Until he’d met Crowley, Aziraphale hadn’t understood how people could kiss and touch each other for hours on end. Now, though, he didn’t want to let go or stop to catch his breath. If they stopped, they’d have to talk, and there was only one thing to talk about. Neither of them wanted to go near it, so they kept their mouths busy the entire night.
Ten o’clock came and went, and Aziraphale didn’t care. He’d told his aunt that he’d be late tonight. She’d given him a disapproving look, but it wasn’t as if she could do anything about it. Then it was midnight, and then one in the morning, and he put his hand down the front of Crowley’s pants and kissed him until he cried out against Aziraphale’s mouth, coming warm and wet over his fingers.
“Angel,” Crowley said, as he always did when feeling especially affectionate. He kissed his way down Aziraphale’s stomach and settled between his thighs, and Aziraphale didn’t think about anything but how much he wanted to stay in this moment forever. Crowley’s mouth was warm and his tongue wicked, and even though they’d been at this for hours, it didn’t take very long.
He gasped up at the stars after, feeling wrung out in the best possible way. He was pretty sure Crowley had left quite a mark on his neck earlier tonight, if the sting was anything to go by. His aunt would be so scandalized. He grinned at the thought.
She’d be scandalized on the way to the airport, though, and that—
Aziraphale put his hands over his face.
“Hey, Angel — you okay?”
“Yes, sorry.” Aziraphale wiped his eyes. “I just can’t believe I have to leave tomorrow. I don’t want to.”
“So don’t go.” Crowley sighed at the face Aziraphale made. “Not fair, I know. I don’t want you to go either.”
They stared at each other for a long moment.
“I’m going to get in so much trouble,” Aziraphale said, “but I’d love to sleep right here, watch the sun rise with you.”
Crowley brushed hair back from Aziraphale’s forehead. “Anything you want, Angel.”
They didn’t sleep, but they watched the sun rise. They kissed each other and said goodbye, and Aziraphale flew back to England, and that was that.
Living abroad for a year would be an amazing experience, everyone had said. He’d learn so much, they’d said, would grow in ways he couldn’t imagine. Aziraphale wasn’t sure any of his various well-wishers had envisioned a place quite like Rydell High.
It was about as different to the college he’d attended back home as he could imagine. Still, he’d jumped at the chance to return to California when it was offered. With his student visa, his best option was to attend school while here, and Rydell happened to be the designated public high school of his aunt’s neighborhood.
He took a fortifying breath and walked across the school’s front lawn. To his left, a group of teenagers played a dice game for what looked like prescription drugs. To his right, a fight had just broken out between two students who appeared far older than his own eighteen years. Ahead of him, the large sign displaying the name of the school had been amended with graffiti declaring it “Pussy Central.” Behind him, a car roared into the parking lot with an engine so loud it disturbed a small flock of birds. One shat on his shoulder as it flew overhead.
Aziraphale groaned. He’d been back in California for three days, and so far, nothing had gone as planned. His original flight had been canceled, which put him several days behind schedule. Then his baggage had been lost by the airline and only returned to him yesterday. Registering for courses at Rydell had required some expensive international phone calls to complete.
But worst of all, he hadn’t been able to contact Crowley. When he tried to ring Crowley at home, he got a recording saying the phone line had been disconnected. Crowley had left his position as a lifeguard once school started, Hula Hut Dan had informed him. He didn’t even have Crowley’s address — they’d agreed not to write each other, to call their romance a summer fling and let it go.
Well, here Aziraphale was, distinctly not letting it go. He had a year, though. Surely he could manage to find Crowley again, somehow.
Classes had started two weeks ago, so he was already behind. He first stopped by the toilets to clean the bird shit off his shoulder, then headed to the school office, where he was able to confirm his registration and pick up a schedule. He was assigned a locker and a stack of books, and by the time he managed to find the location of the first lesson, he’d missed most of it. He spent the entire morning lost and scrambling to catch up. Everything was different than what he was used to and navigating it all was exhausting.
The fourth lesson of the morning was chemistry. They were to perform a lab experiment Aziraphale had done several years before, which meant he had some idea of what he was doing. He was partnered with a smartly dressed girl who seemed annoyed at his very existence.
“It’s Michael.” She barely glanced at him as he approached the lab bench. “And you better know what you’re doing, because I’m done doing all the work for the lazy boys in this class.”
“I’m Aziraphale,” he replied, “and yes, I do believe I know this one.”
“Are you English?” She looked him over, wrinkling her nose. “That explains the clothes.”
“What’s wrong with my clothes?” Aziraphale had worn his favorite outfit for the first day of school: soft gray trousers, a plaid button-down shirt with a bow tie, and a cream-colored cardigan.
She raised her eyebrows. “Maybe we should do the lab.”
“Right, of course.”
He jumped right in, explaining how to do all the steps, hoping to prove to her that he was neither lazy nor a dunce. She paid close attention as he talked, and gathered all the needed supplies as he listed them. They worked well as a team and finished early, which seemed to seal him in Michael’s good graces. She even had time to touch up her makeup and hair before the bell rang.
“It’s your first day here, huh?”
“Yes,” he replied, putting the finishing touches on the lab report. “I’m afraid I’m a bit lost. You’re the first person who’s been kind enough to talk to me at all.”
She looked up from her mirror at that. “Well, that’s shitty. You should come to lunch with me. I’ll introduce you to the Angels.”
“The who?” He passed the lab report to her and indicated where she should sign her name.
She plucked a cream-colored satin jacket from her chair and held it up. On the back, ‘THE ANGELS’ was embroidered in gold. “We’re a gang. Not the kind that commit crimes and get in trouble,” she added when his eyebrows rose in alarm. “We’re more like a good gang. We’re all good students, we come from good families, only associate with the right people, have a good sense of style, you know.” She gave him a thoughtful look. “You’d make a good Angel. Let me do your hair?”
“I—” he began, but she’d already taken a comb to his curls.
“Much better,” she said a few minutes later, holding up the tiny mirror for him to see.
He squinted at it, but the bell rang before he could get a good look.
“Lunchtime!” She gathered her things and stood. “Come on, let’s go.”
He followed her down a long and crowded corridor to the school cafeteria. She made very specific recommendations for what he should and shouldn’t buy as they went through the line, then led him to an outside eating area. She wound her way through the crowd toward a picnic table in a far corner, where three other smartly-dressed people sat, talking and picking at their food.
“Everyone,” she announced as they set their trays on the table, “this is Aziraphale. He’s new, and he’s from England.”
They all turned to him, eyes narrowed as if evaluating him based on appearance alone. He felt awkward and out of place for the hundredth time that day.
He forced a smile. “Hello, everyone.”
“Sit,” Michael said, elbowing him. She gestured at a boy sitting opposite her, who looked as if he’d just stepped out of a fashion magazine. “That’s Gabriel. He’s our leader.” Gabriel smiled smugly at this. Michael nodded towards the boy sitting next to him, who was just as smartly dressed, but not nearly as good-looking. “That’s Sandalphon. Both of his parents are lawyers, so he’s got a lot of connections.” Sandalphon’s smile revealed a mouthful of braces. Michael gestured to the person sitting to Aziraphale’s right. “And that’s Uriel. They’re the fashion police.” Uriel, whose clothing was definitely more fashionable than the others, rolled their eyes at this, but seemed pleased at the same time.
“Lovely to meet you all,” Aziraphale said.
They stared at him just as suspiciously as they’d done before. Aziraphale started on his lunch to avoid having to say anything else.
“What do you think?” Michael asked Gabriel. “He’d make a good Angel, right? He’s really smart, whipped right through our chem lab.”
Gabriel pursed his lips, as if considering this.
“And he’s English,” Michael continued in a harsh whisper. “We should snap him up before any other gangs do.”
Aziraphale wondered if he should point out that he was sitting right there and could hear every word she said.
“Yeah, good point,” Gabriel said, still staring at Aziraphale. He shrugged. “Yeah, sure. Congratulations… what was your name again?”
“Aziraphale,” Aziraphale said.
“Aziraphale, right. Welcome to the Angels.” He smiled in a way that reminded Aziraphale of a politician taking photos with rich donors. “Uriel, can we get him a jacket?”
“He can have this one,” Uriel said, handing their own over. “It’s so last year I can’t stand looking at it.” They gave Aziraphale a disdainful look. “Why are you dressed like a middle-aged book seller?”
Aziraphale assumed the question was rhetorical.
“Perfect!” Gabriel smiled blandly, then went back to his lunch.
Aziraphale folded the jacket in his lap. He wasn’t sure he actually wanted to be an Angel, but it didn’t seem he had much choice. He supposed there was no harm in going along with it for now. At least he had some friends. Well, perhaps friends wasn’t quite the right word. People who would speak to him in a non-threatening way and let him sit with them. There was value in that.
“So, tell us about yourself,” Sandalphon said, with the air of someone who actually didn’t want to know at all.
“Not much to tell, really.” Aziraphale picked at his food awkwardly. “I was here visiting this summer, then decided to come back for the academic year, see what American secondary schools are like.”
Sandalphon’s smile was sharklike. “And you decided Rydell was the best place to do that?”
Aziraphale shrugged. “Didn’t have much of a choice.”
“So what did you do this summer?” Uriel asked.
“Oh! I spent a lot of it at the beach. I, uh… I met someone.”
Everyone but Gabriel looked up in interest.
Gabriel snorted, unimpressed. “A summer romance, how sweet.”
“Oooh, I want details.” Michael said, leaning in. “How did you meet them? What were they like?”
Aziraphale couldn’t stop himself from smiling now. “He was a lifeguard. Actually, we met when he pulled me out of the ocean. I’m not much of a surfer.”
“And did you repay him for saving your life?” Michael’s smile was nearly a leer.
“Maybe.” Aziraphale grinned. “We went to the boardwalk, walked on the beach, kissed under the stars, you know. It was all very romantic.” His cheeks were warm; he was sure he’d gone pink by now.
Gabriel sighed disdainfully. “A summer romance and you didn’t even fuck him? Boring.”
“Most people aren’t as slutty as you,” Uriel retorted.
Gabriel held up a perfectly-manicured middle finger.
Aziraphale felt a strange urge to tell them that yes, he and Crowley actually had plenty of sex. Of a sort, anyway. He didn’t, though; that was a private memory, one he clung to tightly. “Anyway, I went back to England at the end of the summer and we said goodbye. I haven’t spoken to him since.”
“A tragic ending to a summer romance,” Michael said, leaning her hand against her cheek.
Aziraphale tried to laugh, but didn’t quite get there. “Yes. I suppose it was.”
“Wait until you hear what I did,” Uriel said, and the conversation moved on.
Aziraphale listened, trying to absorb as much as he could about the Angels. Best to know what he was getting into.
The bell rang in the middle of Sandalphon’s account of helping his parents with a Very Important Case.
“Put on the jacket,” Michael told him as they walked out together. “That way people will know you’re one of ours.”
“So this guy from the beach,” Michael continued as he pulled it on, “what was his name?”
Aziraphale sighed. “Anthony. But he usually goes by Crowley.”
Behind them, Gabriel, Uriel, and Sandalphon burst into laughter. Aziraphale turned to look at them, but Michael swiveled him toward the building.
“Nice name.” She shot a glare at the others over her shoulder.
“Really nice,” Gabriel said, just behind Aziraphale’s shoulder. “Who knows? Maybe your summer love will turn up again, when you least expect it.” He smirked and turned to walk the opposite direction, with a still-giggling Uriel and Sandalphon trailing behind him.
“I do hope so,” Aziraphale told Michael as they walked on. “He lives in this city, but I don’t know how to contact him. I haven’t even been able to tell him I’ve come back.”
Michael looped her arm through his. “Hang in there. I’m sure you’ll find him one of these days.”
Crowley looked out over the football field from his perch high atop the bleachers. “Look at these assholes. What a waste.”
“Jocks are idiots,” Hastur said through a bite of sandwich. “Wouldn’t catch me dead out there.”
Beelzebub snorted. “Heavy as you smoke, you’d be dead if you tried to run a single lap around the track.” They turned up the collar of their leather jacket.
Hastur shrugged and swallowed his bite of sandwich. “Yeah, probably.”
“Hey, Crowley,” Dagon said, elbowing a smirking Ligur. “You said you’d tell us what you got up to this summer.”
“Yeah, man, come on,” Ligur added. “Unless you need more time to come up with whatever bullshit you’re gonna lay on us.”
Crowley adjusted his sunglasses. “I might make up some shit, actually, because if I told the truth, you losers would probably burst into flames.”
Beelzebub rolled their eyes. “Nobody wants to hear how much you jerked off this summer, Crowley.”
Crowley threw a balled up napkin at them. “Didn’t have to. I had somebody to do it for me.”
“Oooooh.” Everyone moved in a little closer, each of them grinning lasciviously.
“Yeah, you know how it is, you save a cute guy’s life and then he’s all over your dick.” Crowley stretched his ams out against the railing behind him. “Perks of being a lifeguard, I guess.”
“Wow.” Dagon opened a bag of popcorn. Ligur reached to take some and she slapped his hand away. “So you saved his life, really?”
“Oh, yeah. He would’ve drowned, no question.” He grinned at them. “And damn, was he ever grateful.”
“Shiiiiit.” Dagon and Ligur high-fived each other.
“I gotta learn to swim,” Hastur said, looking thoughtful.
“Yeah, cause nobody’s saving your ugly ass,” Beelzebub told him. They turned back to Crowley. “I call bullshit. I saw you like once a week this summer and I never met this guy. What school does he go to?”
“He had to go back to England at the end of the summer,” Crowley replied. Even as the words came out of his mouth, he knew how it sounded. He looked at their skeptical, and in the case of Ligur and Dagon, disappointed, faces. “But while he was here, oh, man.” He sighed and looked out over the field in front of them. “He has this curly blond hair and big blue eyes. And his mouth, goddamn. And he was really cool too, you know? We hung out every night.”
Beelzebub’s eyes narrowed. “Wait a sec — you didn’t like, fall in love with this guy, did you?”
Everyone turned to look at him.
“No, no, of course not.” Crowley waved a hand dismissively.
“Cause Demons don’t do that,” they continued, jerking a thumb toward the name painted on the back of their leather jacket. “We don’t do love or feelings, or going steady.”
“We hit it and quit it!” Ligur and Dagon said in unison. They clinked their soda bottles together.
“Like I don’t know the rules.” Crowley huffed a laugh. “He wasn’t even the only one. There were so many others. He was just, like, the coolest one, right? Didn’t want anything other than a good time. And at the end of the summer, he was just like, ‘It was fun,’ and got on a plane.”
“Nice,” Beelzebub said. “It’s so much easier when they don’t expect anything.”
“Yeah.” Crowley tried very hard to ignore the stab of pain he felt at the very thought of Aziraphale being so flippant.
“So do they kiss the same in England as they do here?” Hastur asked.
They all squinted at him.
Beelzebub gave him a shove. “Are you actually that stupid?”
“It’s a legitimate question!” Hastur retorted. “I’ve never kissed anybody from another country, so I don’t know.”
“What about that girl from Mexico you kept telling us about last year?” Dagon asked, eyebrows raised.
“I don’t — well — I mean — oh, come on, Mexico doesn’t count. It’s just an hour away!”
“Sure thing, buddy.” Crowley chuckled. “And for the record, he was a great kisser. Among other things.” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively. Everyone laughed.
“I never meet anybody at the beach,” Dagon said, handing the rest of her popcorn over to Ligur. “All I get is sand in my coochie.”
“Didn’t need that mental image,” Beelzebub grumbled. “Your cute English boy must have made up for having to work all summer.”
“That and the money.”
“Still saving up for some wheels, huh?” Beelzebub opened a milk carton and chugged the entire thing at once.
“Yep. Even disconnected my phone to save a little more money.”
“Damn.” Hastur shook his head. “That’s commitment.”
“Got my eyes on something, too. Big John down at the repo yard’s keeping it for me until I can get the money.”
“No shit?” Beelzebub said. “Hey, man, we should— Oh, hell, did the bell ring?”
“Shit, we’re gonna be late.” Dagon groaned. “If I get one more tardy, I’m gonna be in detention all week.”
They popped the collars on their jackets, comb-smoothed their ducktails, adjusted sunglasses, and walked toward the building with the sort of unhurried swagger one would expect from a gang of leather-jacket-clad, tight-jeans wearing greasers from the wrong side of the tracks.
Aziraphale had heard of pep rallies before, perhaps had even seen one in a film at some point, but seeing one in person was quite an experience. The entire student body seemed to be there, and every one of them was startlingly bloodthirsty. Hand-printed signs promised violent deaths to the athletes of the school they’d be playing against the following evening. Cheerleaders shook their pompoms and danced in unison while the band played a rousing fight song. The football team stood at the center of it all, smiling nervously around them like gladiators about to be sent off into the Colosseum.
A cheerleader came by and handed each of them little pompoms on sticks, grinning madly and shouting, “Go Rangers!”
Gabriel rolled his eyes and handed his pompom off to Sandalphon. “These things get more ridiculous every year.”
“What’s ridiculous is that those uniforms haven’t been updated since the late forties,” Uriel said, frowning at the cheerleaders.
“This is all so fascinating,” Aziraphale said. “Do they do this just the once, or before every match?”
“Every home game,” Sandalphon told him. “Though some games are more important than others, so the rallies are different.”
“Incredible.” He wished he’d thought to bring a camera.
“Hey, look who it is,” Dagon singsonged just behind Aziraphale’s shoulder. There was some fierce whispering Aziraphale couldn’t make out, but he was used to it after a few days of knowing The Angels. They were rather cliquey at best, and downright obnoxiously exclusive at worst. Still, it was better than being alone. Usually.
Michael was nice to him, at least.
“Aziraphale,” she said now, catching his arm. He turned toward her and she reached up to do something with his hair. “Hold still a sec, just let me—”
“What’s wrong with my hair?”
“Nothing, just want you to look perfect.”
Aziraphale frowned. “Perfect for what?”
Gabriel chuckled darkly. “Let’s go.”
They walked across the field, Aziraphale bundled between Micheal and Uriel. Gabriel and Sandalphon walked just ahead of them, side-by-side.
“Where are we going?” Aziraphale asked, craning his head to look.
“You’ll see,” Uriel said, an odd note in their voice.
“No, don’t look over there,” Michael chided. “Keep your eyes on me.”
“All right.” Aziraphale found her sharp smile more than a little disconcerting.
“Hello, Demons,” he heard Gabriel say, and the group stopped.
Michael turned Aziraphale so he couldn’t see at all.
“Demons?” he asked.
“It’s another gang,” she said. She licked her thumb, then rubbed at something on his chin. “They’re our rivals, I guess. Greasers, rough types from the bad part of town. You know.” She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Poor.”
“Oh, no. Don’t tell me this is some sort of hazing thing.” He groaned. “I don’t want to be hazed. Can’t we just—”
Gabriel grabbed him by the arm and flung him forward, right into the arms of a boy. He looked up, and gasped in shock.
It was indeed Crowley, though he looked very different from the boy Aziraphale had spent the summer with. His hair was slicked into a complicated pompadour style, and he wore a black leather jacket and jeans. Crowley had barely seen him wear shoes at all this summer, but he had boots on his feet that looked to be made of snakeskin. His eyes, though — those were the same, and they were wide as saucers now.
“Aziraphale?” A smile erupted on his face.
“Yes, it’s me!” Aziraphale’s heart soared. All this time, and Crowley had been right here, just under his nose!
“What are you doing here? I thought you went back to England.”
“I did, but there was a change of plans.”
Crowley’s hands went to his shoulders. “I can’t believe it! I—”
Someone bumped Crowley from behind, and Crowley dropped his hands, turned to look. The other members of his gang had gathered closely around him, and they all looked unhappy. Crowley’s expression flattened out into one Aziraphale had never seen before. He turned back to Aziraphale.
“I mean, uh… hey, baby. It’s like, wow, so cool, right?” He turned to look at the other Demons, who were still watching him closely.
Aziraphale frowned at him. “Are you drunk?”
“Not drunk enough for this,” Crowley replied with a sneer. He pulled his sunglasses from his pocket and put them on, despite the darkness. “You, like, appearing out of thin air. S’blowin’ my fuckin’ mind.”
The Demons around him laughed. One punched him approvingly in the shoulder.
Aziraphale had no idea what was happening. “Crowley, I— could we talk? In private?”
“Ooooh,” crooned the Demons standing around Crowley, all of them clearly enjoying this now.
Crowley held his hands up. “Hey now, sweet thing. There’s enough of me to go around, but you’re gonna have to wait your turn.”
“What?” Aziraphale shook his head. “I just want to talk to you.”
The Demons laughed again, several of them leering at Aziraphale. Two of them leaned together and whispered to each other, watching him the whole time. Crowley turned and murmured something low that Aziraphale couldn’t hear, and the people around him laughed. He held a hand up to get high fives.
Aziraphale’s stomach plummeted. Something had happened in the weeks since he’d seen Crowley, and he had no idea what.
“Who even are you?” He knew his pain and frustration were bleeding through, but he couldn’t help it. “What happened to the boy I knew this summer?”
“I dunno.” Crowley sneered, physically leaning back against his friends now, who were enjoying this immensely. “Maybe I’m his evil twin or something.”
“I came all the way back here,” he said, his voice small now. “For you.”
“Yeah, well, that was a dumb idea, wasn’t it?”
Something snapped in Aziraphale’s chest. It hurt like hell, but it also lit a fire. He was angry, so fucking angry that Crowley would dare treat him like this. Crowley, who’d held him and kissed him so sweetly, whose tears Aziraphale had wiped away when they said their final goodbye. Maybe that was still the real Crowley, but even if it was, the fact that he was now too embarrassed for his friends to think he had liked Aziraphale — that was too much.
Aziraphale took a step closer to him. He schooled his features into something as close to stone as he could manage. “Yes, I can see now that it was. I wish I’d never met you, Anthony Crowley.”
The Demons howled with laughter. Aziraphale watched Crowley’s face, to see if there was any flicker of emotion there, but there wasn’t. He just smirked right back at Aziraphale.
“Say it again, Angel. Maybe it’ll come true.”
Aziraphale slapped him right in the face.
There was a giggling, hooting chorus of “Whoooaaa!” from everyone.
Crowley clutched his cheek, staring at Aziraphale in shock for a moment before bursting into laughter too.
Someone grabbed Aziraphale by the arm and tugged him backwards, away. Aziraphale could barely see through the tears in his eyes, but he let his friends take him away, arms around him.
“What an asshole,” Michael hissed.
“Like we couldn’t have guessed that would happen,” Sandalphon said.
“I told you this was a bad idea,” Uriel added, looking back over their shoulder.
Gabriel said nothing, just kept walking.
Aziraphale’s heart was breaking; he could actually feel it. It hurt so much, and he was trying to keep it together long enough to get to a place where he could just cry, with no one around to stare at him or try to comfort him.
How could he have been so stupid? He’d rearranged his life for Crowley, had interrupted his education, left his own country and come to a place where he knew almost no one, just for the chance to be with him again.
He should have known better.
“Fucking Demons,” Michael spat, tightening her arm around Aziraphale’s shoulders. “They’re awful, every one of them.”
“He isn’t worth it,” Gabriel said, turning to give Aziraphale a stern look. “None of them are. We Angels are too good for the likes of them.”
“That’s not what you said when you and Beelzebub hooked up at prom last year,” Uriel said.
“That was a mistake,” Gabriel snapped. “I regret ever getting involved with them.” He put an awkward hand on Aziraphale’s arm. “I’m sorry you had to find out the hard way that Demons are lowlifes. But you’re an Angel now. We’re here for you.”
Aziraphale nodded, grateful they all seemed to be ignoring the tears spilling onto his cheeks. “I think I’ll go home now. I don’t want to be here anymore.”
“I’ll drive you,” Sandalphon said, nodding toward the school parking lot. “Come on.”
They all piled into the car, sandwiching Aziraphale in the back seat between Uriel and Michael, and took him home. Aziraphale thanked them, and managed to wait until he got to his bedroom before breaking down completely.
“Hey, we’re all going to the Burger Palace,” Beelzebub said, clapping a hand on Crowley’s shoulder. “You coming?”
“Nah, I’m beat. Think I’ll head home.” It was all Crowley could do to keep his expression neutral.
Beelzebub gave him a long look. “You cool?”
“Yeah, of course. Catch you losers later.”
He turned and walked away just in time. His stomach clenched and he barely made it around the corner before he threw up all over the pavement.
He’d never done anything that horrible in his entire life — and he’d done some shit he wasn’t proud of. Even now, he had no idea why. He didn’t even like his friends all that much anyway. Why should he care what they think? But in that moment, it had mattered, for some reason, and then—
He sank to his knees, unable to stop the tears now. He’d thought about Aziraphale so much in the last month. He’d never imagined he’d get to see him again, and for one entire minute, it was like the clouds cleared and the sun came out. He’d been blindingly happy, for the space of a few breaths, and then he’d fucked it all up. Worst of all, he’d hurt Aziraphale. He pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes at the memory of it, of the look in Aziraphale’s eyes.
His cheek stung where Aziraphale had hit him. He hoped there would be a bruise, a big one that showed the world that he was an absolute piece of garbage who deserved so much worse.
At least now Aziraphale knew what a horrible person he could be. Aziraphale could get on with his life, and Crowley wouldn’t be able to hurt him anymore.
Crowley pushed to his feet and walked home. The stars were bright in the clear sky overhead, but he didn’t look up.
“No, no, no,” Uriel said with a deep sigh. “Roll up the cuffs.”
“But my socks are showing,” Aziraphale replied.
Uriel looked like they were drawing on the last of their patience. “That’s the point.”
Aziraphale tugged at the fabric clinging to his thighs. “These trousers are rather… tighter than I’m used to.”
“Yes.” Uriel folded their arms over their chest. “And lose the cardigan, for the love of God.”
Aziraphale frowned. “But—”
“Do you actually want to look like your father?”
“No! Or, well. I don’t think I do.” Aziraphale liked his clothes. He knew they weren’t particularly stylish, but they were comfortable.
“Let me know when you make up your mind.” Uriel rolled their eyes and turned away.
“What do you think?” Michael asked, emerging from the en suite bathroom. She wore tailored trousers with a form-fitting waistcoat and no shirt underneath, showing off her modest cleavage to full effect. Her hair was teased and twisted up in a gravity-defying style. Her makeup, though, was what really made a statement: the shading around her eyes was dark and dramatic, while the rest of her face was pale in comparison.
Gabriel gave her an appraising glance before returning to the magazine he was flipping through. Sandalphon stared at her with wide eyes, apparently gobsmacked.
“Wow,” Uriel said, gaping at her. “Please tell me you’re going to go to school like that.”
“I’d be in the principal’s office before I could make it to first period,” Michael replied. She turned to Aziraphale, then twirled. “And what do you think?”
He smiled warmly at her. “I think you look beautiful.”
She beckoned him. “Come on, let me do your makeup.”
“Oh! Well, goodness, I… I don’t usually—”
“Yes, we know,” Uriel said with a groan. “You don’t do anything your parents wouldn’t approve of.”
Aziraphale swallowed down the urge to deny it. The truth was that he’d been rather morose over the last month. Having one’s heart broken would do that. It was bad enough that he had to see Crowley at school every day, but worse was that Crowley kept trying to talk to him. Aziraphale had finally taken to hiding away during lunch and breaks, claiming he had to study. The Angels had been patient at first, but he knew they were all frustrated with him.
Stop mooning over a Demon, he’d heard from each of them on a near-daily basis. You’re an Angel now. You can do so much better. He’d given up protesting that he didn’t want to “do better” weeks ago.
Maybe it was time to try something new.
“All right then,” he said, and followed Michael to the bathroom.
She sat him at her vanity, then studied his face for a moment. She picked up a pencil. “Now, look up and don’t blink.”
He sat as still as he could, and tried to resist the urge to blink.
“I talked to Crowley the other day,” she said.
Aziraphale groaned. “Really?”
“He looked like somebody ran over his dog.”
“He has a dog?” Aziraphale didn’t know that. He felt even more bereft than before.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, it’s an expression.” Michael shook her head, as if she thought Aziraphale was hopeless. “Should I continue?”
She wasn’t talking about the makeover. “Yes, I suppose so.”
“He kept asking about you, saying how much he misses you, that he’s really sorry, blah blah blah.”
“I know,” Aziraphale said. Crowley had managed to corner him a week after the pep rally and sort-of apologize. It had sounded like a list of excuses to Aziraphale at the time, and he’d turned and walked away without saying a word.
“And you’ve been so down in the dumps. Don’t try to deny it; it’s obvious.” She paused and sat back to examine her work. “Do you actually want to give him another chance?” She leaned in with the pencil again.
“I don’t know.” Aziraphale hesitated, uncertain if this was some sort of test of his commitment to the Angels. They’d all made it very clear that dating a Demon was unacceptable. “It’s like he’s one person when he’s with the Demons and another person when he’s not. I can’t bear it.”
“That’s the Demons for you. They ruin everything they touch.” She cast a quick glance toward the door, then lowered her voice to a whisper. “I think Gabriel is sneaking around with Beelzebub again.”
“Really? I thought he hated them.”
“There’s a thin line between love and hate, right?”
Aziraphale considered that a moment. It would certainly explain the roller coaster of his own emotions lately.
“He thinks we don’t know, but Uriel saw them making out under the bleachers before school the other day.” She gestured toward the mirror. “What do you think?”
Whatever she’d done made his eyes look huge. He blinked at himself. “Wow.”
“Come on, let’s show everybody.”
He opened the door to see Gabriel, Uriel, and Sandalphon all wearing baggy cardigans and affecting terrible English accents. They’d frozen when the door opened, making a tableau that would have been comical if not so mean-spirited.
“You’re making fun of me,” Aziraphale said. Next to him, Michael glowered at them.
They all looked rather guilty. Even Gabriel couldn’t quite meet Aziraphale’s eyes.
Aziraphale sighed. Compared to his other problems, it didn’t seem worth raising a fuss over. Better to let them think he wasn’t so thin-skinned.
“Nice cardigan,” he said to Uriel. “That’s a good look for you.”
They stammered awkwardly and tugged it off. “Ha, uh, yeah. Sure.”
“Now, who had the wine?” Aziraphale asked. “I could really do with a drink.”
Crowley pushed up the garage door, then turned to the other Demons. “What do you think?”
Their faces were all variations on horror and disappointment.
“What a hunk of junk,” Beelzebub said.
“You actually paid for that?” Hastur shook his head. “You’re either stupid or crazy.”
“Come on,” Crowley said, gesturing toward the car. “It’s a totally cherry ‘33 Bentley! They don’t make ‘em like this anymore. When I get it fixed up—”
“Does it even run?” Beelzebub asked, walking around it now.
“Yeah, ‘course. How do you think I got it here?”
Beelzebub lifted the hood and squinted at the engine. “Sheer luck, I’d say.”
“You’re serious,” Ligur said. “You really think you can make this into a bitchin’ ride?”
“It’s already a bitchin’ ride. All it needs is a paint job and some engine work, and it’ll run like a champ.” He opened the driver side door, which was on the opposite side from what they all expected. “Check it out.”
They all stared blankly at him.
“Okay, look.” He slid his fingers into the pockets of his very tight jeans. “I know it’s got a ways to go, but think of the possibilities. Imagine us cruising in this baby. Look at the back seat! You know how much dick that’s gonna get me?”
Dagon snickered. “Sure you’re not thinking of one dick in particular?”
“Yeah, that Angel’s not gonna get on his knees just because you got a car,” Hastur added.
Crowley groaned. And okay, sure — it had probably at some moment entered his mind that maybe Aziraphale would give him the time of day again if he rolled up in a sweet ride. That maybe he could offer to drive him home, finally have a chance to get him alone and talk to him without the rest of The Angels hovering and glaring daggers at Crowley. He’d written notes and dropped them in Aziraphale’s locker, had left dozens of messages with his aunt, and had even tried going through Michael, who despised him. And still, Aziraphale looked right past him every time they came within ten feet of each other.
He’d been so distracted by it all that he was only passing his classes by the skin of his teeth, just enough to keep swimming. He needed this car as a project, as something he could work on to make his life a tiny bit better, to feel like not everything he touched turned to shit.
“It’s not about him, okay?”
“You sure about that?” Ligur stepped forward to inspect a particularly large dent in the bumper. “Cause you sure ain’t chased any other tail this year.”
“You’ve barely looked,” Dagon added. “It’s almost like you’re mooning over this guy.” She shuddered slightly.
“Christ, lay off him for a minute,” Beelzebub said, looking slightly guilty. “So what if he’s got the hots for an Angel?”
Hastur and Ligur exchanged looks at this. Everyone knew about Beelzebub and Gabriel, but no one had the nerve to bring it up.
“I like him, okay?” Crowley said, drawing their attention again. “I don’t actually care if you assholes approve or not. But that’s not what this is about. You know how long I’ve been saving up for this. Would it kill you to be happy for me here?”
Beelzebub leaned over the engine again. “Actually, you might be onto something. It’s no hot rod, but it’s got potential.”
“I’d be willing to help out.” They gave Crowley a shrewd look. “For borrowing rights.”
Beelzebub was very good with cars. This was exactly what Crowley had been hoping to hear. He held out a hand and Beelzebub took it, shook once.
Crowley turned to the others. “See, Beels knows the deal.”
Hastur’s face twisted with something like envy. Dagon and Ligur both looked conflicted.
Crowley grinned at them. “Last chance. You won’t regret it.”
“Wanna bet?” Hastur grumbled. “Fine. We can probably make it look halfway decent.”
“Sweet.” Crowley rubbed his hands together. “Are evenings good for everyone? My mornings are busy right now.”
“Like any of us would get our asses up early for you,” Beelzebub retorted. “Let’s get to work.“
Aziraphale loved the Burger Palace. He liked food, for one thing, and this place had the best cheeseburger he’d ever had in his life. They were famous for their burgers, but they did other things well too, the sort of classic American diner food he couldn’t find at home. The atmosphere of the place was the real draw, though. It was bright and lively, bustling with young people meeting friends and looking to make new ones. The Angels came here every Saturday night, and right now, they were making plans.
“You have to go.” Michael’s tone brooked no argument. “It’s the biggest event of the school year. Well, other than Prom. And Homecoming. And the Valentine’s Day dance. And Sadie Hawkins. Anyway, my point is, you have to have a date for Winter Wonderland.”
“I’m not letting you set me up with another football player,” Aziraphale said. Homecoming had been a nightmare, honestly. The boy could barely talk about anything that wasn’t sports, and when he’d realized Aziraphale wasn’t remotely interested in football, he’d proceeded to get stupidly drunk. Crowley had been miserably jealous about the whole thing, which was the only positive of the evening.
“No, of course not.” She took a sip of her milkshake and glanced around the room. “I’ll think of someone.”
“I think we all know who he really wants to go with,” Gabriel said, stealing a fry from Sandalphon’s plate. “It’s getting old. I don’t even care that he’s a Demon anymore, as long as you two get over yourselves. Look, they’re all sitting right over there.”
Aziraphale didn’t have to look; he’d seen Crowley and the other Demons when they’d first come in.
“Crowley doesn’t deserve another chance.” Michael glanced at Aziraphale. “Unless you’re ready to forgive him.”
Aziraphale sighed. “Forgiveness isn’t the issue. It’s whether I can trust him not to throw me off the bus again.”
“Under the bus,” Uriel corrected.
Aziraphale pushed his plate of onion rings to the center of the table. The Angels pounced on them like a pack of starving dogs. Wake Up, Little Susie started to play over the restaurant’s speakers.
“Oh, not this again. Honestly, why does everyone love it so much?”
“Because it’s about sex,” Gabriel said. He dug into his pocket and handed Aziraphale a nickel. “Go pick the next one.”
Aziraphale knew full well this wasn’t kindness on Gabriel’s part. He wanted Aziraphale out of earshot so he could plot with the others, possibly about arranging Aziraphale a date for the upcoming winter dance. The Angels dated all the time, though they were extremely judgmental of everyone who wasn’t them, and as a result, none of them were going steady at all. Of course, the entire school knew that Gabriel and Beelzebub were having a secret fling, as they’d been spotted in the backseat of a car at Makeout Point on several occasions. No one had brought it up in the gang, though they certainly rolled their eyes and whispered behind his back. If Aziraphale actually had designs on dating Crowley again — which he didn’t — Gabriel’s dalliances would have been very conveniently timed.
He made his way through the Saturday night crowd over to the jukebox. He carefully did not look over at where the Demons sat, at their usual table on the opposite side of the restaurant from the Angels. He flipped through the jukebox options slowly, hoping against hope that some new records had been added since last week.
A hundred butterflies took off in Aziraphale’s stomach. He closed his eyes and steadied himself before casting a brief glance at Crowley. He was every bit the greaser tonight, looking so similar to how he’d done that night at the pep rally that it actually strengthened Aziraphale’s resolve.
“Hello yourself.” He studied the list of records very intently.
“Right.” Crowley sighed. “Look, I know you’re avoiding me, and I guess I don’t blame you. But give me a minute, please?”
Aziraphale shrugged. “I hear it’s a free country.”
“I’m sorry, okay? I’m more than sorry, I’m— God, I don’t even know how to tell you how awful I feel about what happened at the pep rally. I was so stupid and I would do anything to take it back. I know I don’t deserve another chance, and I’m not asking for one.”
It was the first time Aziraphale had heard such sincerity in his voice since the summer. He wanted to look at Crowley, to see he emotion he was sure was in his eyes, but he knew he’d end up in Crowley’s arms again if he did.
He steadied himself on the jukebox. “Then what are you asking for?”
“Forgive me,” Crowley said, his voice soft.
Aziraphale pressed his lips together, then turned his head. “My dear boy, I forgave you ages ago.”
Crowley’s mouth fell open. He stared back at Aziraphale with so much desperation that Aziraphale had to look away again.
“So,” Crowley began, then paused to clear his throat before continuing. “Thank you, I… that means a lot.”
There was a long pause, during which Aziraphale finally chose a song. “You’re welcome.”
“Does that— I mean, would you go out with me again?”
Aziraphale sighed. “Crowley—”
“No, just— I miss you so much, okay? I think about you all the time, and every time I see you at school, I think about what I did to you and how if I just hadn’t been such an asshole, we could’ve been together all this time.” He sighed and stepped closer, whispering now. “Last summer, the way you kissed me — I wish it could be like again, more than anything.”
Aziraphale closed his eyes against tears that were threatening to well there. Dammit, he needed to be angry at Crowley right now! No matter how much he wanted to turn around and throw himself into Crowley’s arms this very minute, he couldn’t do it. He just didn’t trust him yet.
“You need time to think about it, I know.” Crowley took a step back. “So I won’t bother you. Just… if there’s anything I can do to prove to you that I’m really sorry, that I’ll never do anything but love you from now on… I’ll do it, okay?” He turned and walked away.
Aziraphale waited another moment to open his eyes. He swallowed down the emotions that were threatening to overtake him, dropped the nickel into the jukebox, and pushed a combination of buttons at random.
The first few bars of Wake Up, Little Susie began to play.
Aziraphale looked down at the machine in horror. “Oh… fuck!”
Crowley opened his locker and shoved his algebra book inside. He had biology next. He paused to try to remember what he needed for that one today.
He turned to see Michael standing right behind him, looking over his shoulder at a strip of photos he’d taped up in his locker. It was from the summer when he and Aziraphale had popped into a photo booth on the boardwalk. They’d made funny faces for the first three shots, then they’d kissed for the fourth one. Both their eyes were closed and the camera had caught the very moment their lips touched. It was a photo he’d put up in his locker on the first day of school, back when he thought he’d never see Aziraphale again. Taking it down had felt too much like giving up, so he’d left it there to mock him every time he opened his locker.
He slammed the locker closed. “Thanks.”
“I saw you talking to our English friend the other night.”
Crowley groaned. “What do you want?”
“To tell you you’re on the right track.” She glanced around them, as if making sure no one of interest would overhear. “He’s still gone on you, you know. He hasn’t so much as looked at anyone else all year. He’s just terrified you’ll turn out to be an asshole after all.” She turned to look at him, her expression steely. “So I’m telling you right now that if you do win him back, you’d better treat him right, because I will personally kill you if you hurt him again.” She gave Crowley a tight smile and walked away.
Well, that was interesting.
Crowley headed the other direction, already late to class. He rounded a corner and found Gabriel blocking his path.
“What the hell?” he spat, trying to move past him.
Gabriel grasped his upper arm and leaned in. “It’s literally embarrassing how much you two are pining for each other, so will you get off your ass and do something about it?”
“I’m embarrassing?” Crowley snorted. “You think nobody knows you and Beelzebub are secretly going together while pretending you hate each other?”
Gabriel’s jaw clenched. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure you don’t.” Crowley smirked.
“We’re not dating. I don’t even like them.”
“I guess you don’t have to like somebody to play backseat bingo.” Crowley raised his eyebrows.
“You would know.”
“You’re right,” Crowley said, leaning in close. “I would.”
Gabriel gave him a shove, then brushed off his clothes as if Crowley’s mere proximity had dirtied them. “Fuck you, Crowley.” He stomped away.
The bell rang. Crowley groaned and sprinted down the hall, hoping his teacher would let this one slide, just this once.
Sandalphon caught him in the lunch line, before he’d had a chance to go sit with the Demons in their usual spot by the football field. He delivered the same message the other two had, but with significantly more menace. He was the only Angel Crowley actually thought would follow through, so he’d just nodded and walked away.
It seemed the Angels had no objections to him and Aziraphale getting back together. The thought lightened his step, just a little bit.
To his surprise, the Demons got on his case at lunch too, peppering him with questions about who he was asking to the dance, then outright suggesting that he grow a pair and ask the Angel already. Ordinarily he’d have threatened them with a good pounding, but they were all coming over this afternoon to help repaint the Bentley. He couldn’t afford to piss them off.
He rolled his eyes and told them to leave him the fuck alone, which was the response they’d probably expected anyway. Apparently satisfied that they’d made an effort, they changed the subject to sightings of a rival gang on their turf. Everyone liked talking about possible rumbles, even if no one wanted to follow through.
When Uriel cornered him right before 8th period, he’d had enough.
He pushed them back against the nearest block of lockers, practically growling with frustration. “Look, I’m working on it, okay? I’m doing everything I can to win him back, but it’s not up to me. If he takes me back, you can bet your ass I’m gonna do everything I can to make him happy, but in the meantime, will you people leave me the fuck alone?”
Uriel regarded him with a raised eyebrow. “I have no interest in your pathetic love life, Crowley. I just wanted to show you this.” They handed him a folded paper that looked to have been torn from a magazine.
Crowley frowned, suspicious, but he took it. It was an image of a man in a dark suit, wearing sunglasses. He looked up at Uriel again. “What?”
“That would be a good look for you,” they said. “Clean lines, narrow cut, monochrome. Trust me, that baggy old leather jacket does nothing for you.”
Crowley looked at the picture again. The pants were tailored close to the shape of the man’s legs, more like the way he wore his jeans than the loose fit of most suit pants. The cut of the jacket made the man look long and lean, and the black shirt and black tie gave the whole thing a sense of forboding, like the man was on his way to deal with the Devil himself.
He’d look damn good dressed like that.
“Huh,” he said. “Pretty cool. Not sure it’s in my price range, though.”
Uriel’s lips curled up at the edges. “Got a black suit?”
“I could alter it for you for cheap. In case there’s someone whose eye you’re hoping to catch.” Uriel raised their eyebrows.
Crowley rolled his eyes. “I’ll think about it, okay?”
“Also, you spilled ketchup on your shirt. Right there. Unless you meant it as a fashion statement?”
Crowley looked down. “Oh, fuck me.”
“No thanks,” Uriel replied, smirking. “But I know who might be interested, if you play your cards right.” They raised their eyebrows at someone behind Crowley’s shoulder.
Crowley winced, then turned to look. Sure enough, Aziraphale was standing there, books clutched in his arms, and looking as if he were trying not to smile.
Uriel left, chuckling. Crowley scowled and pulled the leather jacket around himself in a futile attempt to hide the stain. “How much of that did you hear?”
“Most of it.”
Crowley sighed. Great, just great.
“Honestly, no one will notice the stain. Uriel’s just got an eye for that sort of thing. Baking soda should get it out, though. That’s what my aunt always does.”
Crowley waited for him to continue, but he didn’t.
“See you later, Crowley.” His cheeks were a little pink now.
He was so adorable that Crowley wanted to scream, to take his hand, to pull him close, anything. He couldn’t, though, could only stand there awkwardly as Aziraphale turned and walked away. Crowley watched as he disappeared into the crowd in the hallway.
Aziraphale had been almost friendly to him since the night at the Burger Palace. He’d smiled at Crowley each time they’d passed in the hallway, haltingly at first, but warmer with each passing day. This was the first time he’d spoken more than a handful of words to Crowley, though. That had to mean something.
For the first time in months, a tiny spark of hope lit in Crowley’s chest. Maybe there really was a chance.
The bell rang, startling Crowley out of his thoughts.
“Shit, not again.”
“I can’t believe you talked me into this.” Aziraphale tried and failed to stifle a yawn.
“Coffee,” Michael replied, holding out a thermos.
“I don’t even like coffee.”
“Drink it anyway.”
He took the thermos. “Where are we going so early?”
“I told you, it’s a surprise.”
Michael drove a little wildly for Aziraphale’s taste. Everyone did, really; he’d grown up taking public transport everywhere and wasn’t sure he approved of people his age being allowed to drive cars. By the time Michael pulled into the school parking lot, the adrenaline had him completely awake.
Michael glanced at her watch. “Shit, we’re gonna miss it. Come on!”
They walked across campus toward the gym, then past it to a large building Aziraphale had never actually been inside before.
“Why are we going to the pool?”
“Swim practice.” She raised her eyebrows. “Cute boys in tiny swimsuits, all wet and muscle-y.”
He groaned. “You’re joking, right? You got me up early so you could ogle the swim team?”
“We, darling. So we could ogle the swim team.” She winked and walked on.
They made their way to the top of the bleachers by the pool. They weren’t the only spectators — a handful of students were there watching too. The swim team’s coach stood on the side of the pool, shouting instructions at the swimmers.
They watched in silence for a while, passing the thermos of coffee back and forth.
“Twinkie?” Michael held out a package. “Breakfast of champions, I know.”
“Thanks.” Aziraphale hadn’t eaten anything before leaving that morning, so he was grateful Michael had thought of it. “So why are we here, really? Are you interested in one of these boys?”
“No, but I thought you might be.”
He sighed. She knew he was gone over Crowley. It was pointless to pretend otherwise. “Michael—”
“Just watch, okay? Check out…” She paused, scanning the pool below, then smiled smugly. “The one in lane three. He’s just your type.”
“Fine.” Aziraphale turned his attention to lane three. The swimmer there was practicing a butterfly stroke, so there was a lot of water splashing around, too much to make out anything more than a long lean shape pushing through the water. The swimmer flipped at the end of the lane, then swam back again using the same stroke. He didn’t seem to be an exceptional swimmer, about average for the team, from what Aziraphale could see.
The swimmer reached the end of the lane, then paused a moment before hopping onto the edge of the pool. He stood and slicked his hair back from his face as the coach came over to talk to him.
Aziraphale gasped. “Is that… Crowley?”
“You had no idea he was on the swim team?” Michael’s tone was remarkably innocent.
“No, of course not! How did you know?”
“A little bird told me.” She looked down at the pool, watching the action. “He’s never done a sport before as far as I know.”
Down by the pool, Crowley stretched his arms over his head, his long body twisting as he did. The swim shorts were tiny, much smaller than the ones he’d worn as a lifeguard. This was as close to nude as Aziraphale had ever seen him in daylight.
Aziraphale put a hand over his mouth. Everything he’d know about Crowley was upended all over again. The boy he’d met this summer was sweet and ambitious, had plans for the future. The boy he’d seen at the pep rally months ago had given the impression of a trouble-maker, a good-for-nothing layabout who only cared for himself, who hadn’t hesitated to hurt Aziraphale to preserve his own self-image.
That wasn’t who Crowley really was, though. Aziraphale knew that now, knew it without a shadow of a doubt. Crowley at the pep rally had been terrified to let the other Demons see who he really was. He’d lashed out with fear and self-hatred, and Aziraphale knew he genuinely regretted it.
Maybe Crowley was growing into himself at last.
“Oh my goodness, look at him.” Aziraphale couldn’t help giggling. “That swimsuit is terribly small, isn’t it?”
Just then, Crowley happened to look in their direction. The moment he spotted Aziraphale was clear: he went completely still, so surprised that another swimmer had to wave a hand in front of his face to get his attention. Crowley got into position on the edge of the pool, occasionally glancing up at where they were sitting. He was so distracted by their presence that he was the last to dive in when the whistle blew.
“He’s crazy about you, you know.” Michael offered another Twinkie.
Aziraphale watched, entranced, as Crowley swam down the lane, making up some time as he did. He didn’t win the heat, but he didn’t come in last, either. Aziraphale applauded, drawing the attention of everyone in the stands. He blushed and ducked behind Michael.
“He’s looking,” Michael said.
“Oh good lord.” Aziraphale was sure his face was on fire now.
Michael snickered. “You’re hopeless, you know that?”
Aziraphale knew. It was pointless even to reply.
Practice ended not long after. Crowley stayed behind while the others headed to the locker room. He took his time, toweling himself off and looking up at the two of them.
Michael glanced at her watch. “Oh, look at the time. I’ve got a thing, but you should stay and say hello.”
“You’re evil, you know that?”
“I’m not evil.” She stood and straightened her skirt, her expression impassive. “I’m an Angel.”
She walked away.
Aziraphale took a deep breath, then made his way down the bleachers to where Crowley was standing. With his wet hair falling into his face and an awkward smile, he looked just like the boy Aziraphale had fallen for last summer.
“Hello,” he said when he reached the bottom of the bleachers. “I didn’t know you were on the swim team.”
Crowley scrubbed at his hair with the towel. “Ah, you know. I did well on my lifeguard test last summer, and they asked if I did swim team at school. I always liked swimming, so I decided to try out. Senior year, so last chance and all.”
Aziraphale took a step closer. “That’s fantastic.”
“I’m not good at it. I never, like, win, not even close.” He shrugged, his expression more resigned than anything.
“But you’re here, aren’t you? You’re doing it. That’s the important thing.”
“Yeah, I guess. I might be a Demon, but that’s not all I am, you know?” Crowley bit his lip lower lip, unable to meet Aziraphale’s eyes. It was the most vulnerable he’d looked in months. Aziraphale wanted to wrap him up and take him somewhere safe.
Aziraphale nodded. “It took me a while to really believe it, but yes.”
Crowley glanced up at Aziraphale, then back down at his own feet, smiling. “Okay. Good.”
“I’m glad I ran into you this morning, actually. There was something I wanted to ask you.” Aziraphale took a deep breath. “I’ve decided I’d like to go to the Winter Wonderland dance after all, but… it seems I don’t have a date.”
“No date, cute guy like you?” Crowley looked up at him again, his confidence seeming to grow.
“Well, it’s not because no one has asked, I assure you. Five different people asked, actually, but I told them all no.”
“Because I thought that eventually, you would ask. And you haven’t, so here I am, asking you.”
Crowley blinked at him. “I didn’t think you wanted me to ask you.”
“Of course I wanted you to ask.”
“I thought you hated me.”
Aziraphale wrapped his arms around himself. “I was angry at you, but I never hated you. And you apologized, and… I know now that you really are sorry.”
“I really am.” Crowley shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other. His expression was guarded, like he wasn’t sure if he believed any of this was really happening. “So you’re asking, really?”
“I’m asking.” He stood a little taller, holding his chin high. “Anthony Crowley, will you go to the Winter Wonderland dance with me this Saturday night?”
A smile spread over Crowley’s face, the most genuine Aziraphale could remember seeing in a long time. “Yeah. I’d love to.”
They stared at each other for a long, quiet moment, neither of them sure how to proceed from here. There was a noise across the pool: the rest of the team had dressed and were heading out of the building. Crowley turned to look at them.
“I, uh… I need to shower and change before school starts.”
“Right! Of course.” Aziraphale stepped back. “I’ll see you later.”
Crowley took a step back too, looking a little dazed. “Right. Later.” He turned around and very nearly stepped right into the pool. He flashed a sheepish grin at Aziraphale, then headed to the locker room.
Aziraphale waited until he was out of sight before bouncing with excitement.
Michael was, predictably, waiting for him just outside the building. She raised her eyebrows as he approached. Aziraphale grinned at her, and she pumped her fist into the air.
“Thank God that’s over,” she said as they walked along. “You have no idea how much the rest of us were suffering watching you two pine over each other.”
Aziraphale pressed his hands to his warm cheeks. “I can assure you it was much worse for me.”
“So — the dance?”
“The dance.” He hesitated, then touched her arm. “I know I’ve caused you a lot of trouble, but I do need your help for one more thing.”
She smirked. “If it’s what I think it is, it’ll be no trouble at all.”
Crowley pulled the Bentley up in front of Michael’s house. It ran like a dream now, after the modifications Beelzebub had made to the engine. The Demons had all pitched in to help him bang out a few dents and repaint it to its original black, so it looked fantastic on the outside. Even the upholstery was in decent shape thanks to a some leather polish and elbow grease.
He gave the car a lingering fond look, then walked up to ring the doorbell. There was the sound of a scramble on the other side before it opened to reveal a smirking Michael. She wore a chiffon gown in a dusty shade of pink, her hair swept up from her face.
“You clean up well, don’t you?” Her gaze traveled over him appreciatively.
Crowley tugged at the suit jacket, which was cut very narrowly. “Uriel helped.”
“Your hair looks good like that.” She tilted her head. “I could actually touch it and not have to wash my hands.”
“Very funny.” He’d used half as much pomade as usual, going for sort of an Elvis Presley look.
“You were right, Michael,” she said in a simpering voice. “Thank you, Michael.”
“Christ, put a lid on it. Where’s Aziraphale?”
She stepped back and gestured him through the door. “He’s almost ready.”
She disappeared up the stairs for a few minutes, leaving him standing in the entryway. The sounds of footsteps and whispers drifted down to him, but he couldn’t make anything of it. Finally, Michael came down the stairs again, grinning at him. Aziraphale was right behind her.
Crowley was glad for his sunglasses; they hid at least some of the besotted expression on his face.
Aziraphale was dressed in a suit cut very similarly to Crowley’s, but all in cream. His usually unruly mop of hair had been trimmed on the sides, the curls styled into gentle waves reminiscent of James Dean. His smile was what really caught Crowley’s attention, though: he was practically glowing with happiness.
“Hi,” Aziraphale said.
“Hi,” Crowley replied.
They grinned at each other.
“Oh, for God’s sake,” Michael said, and gave Aziraphale a shove toward Crowley. “I’d offer to take pictures, but I’m all out of film.”
“No need,” Crowley said. “I’ll remember this just fine.”
Aziraphale blushed delightfully. Michael pantomimed vomiting.
Crowley nodded toward the door. “Ready, Angel?”
Michael waggled her fingers at them, smiling smugly. Her date was coming to pick her up shortly, so they’d see her soon enough.
“Oh, Crowley!” Aziraphale said when they closed the door behind them. “It’s beautiful!”
They’d eaten lunch together at school every day that week, trying to catch up with everything they’d missed during the months they weren’t speaking. Crowley had told Aziraphale about the car and the work it had taken to fix it up, but this was the first time Aziraphale had seen it.
“How does it run?”
Crowley opened the passenger door. “Get in and I’ll show you.”
They took the long way to Rydell, partly so Crowley could show off the car, but also because it was the first time they’d been alone together since the summer and Crowley wasn’t ready to share Aziraphale again just yet.
Aziraphale gazed around the car in wonder, noticing and commenting on every detail. He finally reached over and took Crowley’s hand, twining their fingers together. Crowley’s heart pounded in his chest. It was almost silly to react that way, considering all the ways they’d touched each other last summer. There wasn’t an inch of Aziraphale’s body that hadn’t had Crowley’s fingerprints on it at some point, but now his stomach fluttered at this simple gesture.
The school gym had been transformed for the dance. Well, transformed was probably a strong word for it; colored lights and streamers hung from the ceiling and a large Christmas tree stood off to one side, tied to a basketball goal to keep it upright. Clearly the decorating committee had done what they could.
Crowley squeezed Aziraphale’s hand. “You ready for this?”
“For a school dance?” Aziraphale smiled. “It’s hardly the first time I’ve been to one.”
“No, I mean” —he gestured at all the students swirling around the room— “for everyone to know about us?”
“I think everyone knew we were going to the dance together. The gossip in this school, honestly.”
Crowley slid an arm around his waist, still looking out over the crowd. “That we’re going steady, I mean. Angels and Demons don’t do that, right? And an Angel and a Demon together— oof!”
Aziraphale hugged him tightly and looked up with wide eyes. “Going steady?”
Crowley took off his sunglasses and slipped them into a pocket to cover the jolt of anxiety that coursed through him. He’d thought they were on the same page with that, but they hadn’t actually talked about it, had they? They’d agreed to go on the one date, and that was all.
“I… well, yeah. Shit.” He gazed at a spot just over Aziraphale’s shoulder. “I assumed, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you did.”
Crowley forced himself to look at Aziraphale’s face again. “Sorry.”
Aziraphale seemed to be trying not to smile. “If that’s what you want, perhaps you should ask me. Properly.”
Crowley opened his mouth, closed it again, then swallowed. “Okay. Aziraphale…”
Aziraphale’s arms went around his neck. He grinned. “Yes?”
Crowley laughed, relief washing over him. “Wanna go steady?”
Crowley pinched his side. “No, with Beelzebub.”
Aziraphale nodded his head toward the corner of the gym, where Gabriel and Beelzebub were so entwined with each other that they were probably going to be asked to leave soon. “I think they’re already taken.”
“Yes, with me. I love you, you know.”
Aziraphale’s teasing expression fell away completely. He stared back at Crowley in shock.
“Goddammit. Forget I said that?”
“No,” Aziraphale said, and kissed him.
Crowley kissed him back for a full second, then pulled away. “Wait, no to going steady?”
“No, I won’t forget that you love me. Yes, we’re going steady, you silly duck. Now kiss me.”
It had been a long time since their last kiss, and it was even better than Crowley remembered. Aziraphale’s lips were soft and his mouth was warm when it opened under Crowley’s. They lost themselves in each other for nearly a minute, kissing passionately in front of the entire school. A series of whistles finally forced them apart.
“Fucking finally.” Hastur elbowed Crowley, trying his best to sound annoyed. He wore a horrific plaid suit and scanned the room with an expression like a serial killer looking for his next victim. His hair was even greasier than usual, achieving a truly astonishing height.
“Right?” Dagon stood next to him. Her hair was styled similarly and she wore men’s suit pants and a white button-down shirt. She had her arm around a girl in a bright yellow dress. “I was ready to upchuck at all the pining.”
“It wasn’t just pining,” Ligur said from their other side. His suit was even worse than Hastur’s. “It was like a whole damn forest.”
Out of habit, Crowley opened his mouth to argue, but Aziraphale laughed, his smile warm and fond. Crowley remembered that he didn’t care what his friends thought, not anymore. “Yeah, that’s fair.”
“I’ll be right back,” Aziraphale said, nodding over toward where Michael had just arrived. She had last year’s star quarterback on her arm. He’d only gotten bigger and more handsome since graduating, somehow.
Crowley watched as she introduced Aziraphale to her date. A couple of the other Angels gathered around them, dates in tow.
“So this is a look,” Hastur said, elbowing Crowley and looking him over. “You abandoning us or something?”
Crowley clenched his jaw; he’d expected this. “Nah, man. Just, you know, wanted to look nice for the dance.”
“You’ve never cared about looking ‘nice’ before.”
“I never had a boyfriend before.”
Hastur’s lip twitched into something like a smile. “Yeah, okay.”
“He’s not the only one,” Ligur said as Gabriel and Beelzebub walked over to them, arms around each other.
Crowley smirked at them. “Looks like don’t have to talk about you two behind your backs anymore.”
Gabriel frowned and looked for a moment as if he might turn and walk the other direction, but Beelzebub had a solid hold on his arm.
“You shoulda heard the shit we said about you,” they retorted.
“I did,” Crowley replied. “You’re all shit at being quiet.”
“So this is a thing now?” Dagon asked, looking around the group. “I’m not gonna get shit from anybody if I admit that me and Celeste here have been going together since Homecoming?”
Celeste grinned, smacking her gum.
Hastur and Ligur both got evil gleams in their eyes. Shit was definitely imminent.
A hand touched Crowley’s back, and then Aziraphale was plastered warmly against his side. Crowley wrapped an arm around him, honestly just happy that this was allowed now.
“Gabriel,” Aziraphale said in greeting, seeming amused by the entire scene. “And Beelzebub. You two make a fetching pair.”
“Hello, Aziraphale,” Gabriel replied, sounding as if he were saying it through gritted teeth. Beelzebub frowned and nudged him hard in the side. Gabriel’s expression morphed into a tight smile.
Crowley chuckled: this whole situation was a fucking delight. “Wanna dance, Angel?”
“Absolutely.” Aziraphale took his hand and pulled him toward the other side of the gym, where people were bouncing around to pop music playing over the speakers.
Neither of them were very good dancers, it turned out. Aziraphale had learned some sort of folk dancing in school and Crowley always just sort of moved where the music took him. Put together, the result was, admittedly, hilariously awkward.
Crowley caught a glimpse of Gabriel and Beelzebub not far away, laughing their asses off at them. He scowled and held up a middle finger.
Aziraphale giggled and wrapped a hand around his wrist, pulling his hand down. “You’ll get us in trouble.”
“This is the least cool I’ve ever looked in my life,” Crowley told him. “And I’m doing it for you.”
“Poor darling.” Aziraphale chuckled. “You really must love me.”
Crowley caught his mouth in a searing kiss.
When the music shifted to something slow and brooding, Crowley was relieved to be able to simply hold onto Aziraphale and sway a bit. Swaying quickly turned into necking, which got them both a stern poke from one of the teachers chaperoning the dance. They gave up and made their way to the punch bowl, which was, predictably, spiked.
“This place is Nowheresville,” Crowley grumbled. He’d already gone back for seconds on the punch. “I’ve heard better music at funerals.”
“Aren’t you having fun?” Aziraphale took the cup from his hand and downed most of it.
Crowley was having fun, more fun than he wanted to admit. He pulled Aziraphale in and kissed his throat. “They should at least have put up some mistletoe around here. We could just hang out under it.”
Aziraphale glanced over at the dance floor. “As would everyone else, from what I’m seeing.” The teachers were running themselves ragged trying to beak it all up. He watched Crowley for a moment, biting his lower lip. “You know what I’d like to do?”
Aziraphale leaned in close enough to whisper in his ear. “I’ve never been parking before.”
Crowley had just taken a sip of punch; he nearly choked on it. “Okay, yeah, let’s go.” He grabbed Aziraphale’s hand and pulled him toward the door.
Aziraphale pulled back, laughing. “Let’s say good night to everyone first.”
Crowley groaned. “They’re gonna give us so much shit.”
“I’ll make it worth your while.” He looked up at Crowley with such an expression of pure want that Crowley nearly melted on the spot.
Aziraphale made it quick, and the actual amount of shit they got was less than Crowley expected. Mostly, everyone smirked knowingly at them as they walked out of the gym hand in hand. The stars were bright in the moonless sky and the air balmy in a way that Aziraphale seemed to marvel at. The sounds of chatter and music faded behind them.
Crowley pushed Aziraphale up against the car and kissed him for a while, just because he could. He’d hoped for a kiss tonight, and certainly hadn’t expected anything more. It didn’t matter — they were together now, and they had all the time in the world.
Aziraphale seemed to have other ideas, though. He pushed at Crowley’s shoulders after a few minutes, holding him at arm’s length. He looked up at the sky, panting. “Sorry, I need a moment.”
Crowley looked down, then back up again. “Wow. You wanna, uh…?”
“Car,” Aziraphale said, nodding. “Drive.”
“Right.” He opened the door for Aziraphale, then sprinted around to the driver’s side.
Half an hour later, they were parked at Makeout Point, in the backseat of the Bentley, with clothes half-off and mouths and hands very much occupied.
“I missed you so much,” Aziraphale said into Crowley’s mouth. “But I missed this too.” His hand slid down between Crowley’s thighs.
“It missed you more.”
“Should I kiss it hello?” Aziraphale sat back, grinning at him.
“God, yeah.” Crowley scooted up in the seat to give him more space.
They’d fogged up the windows by now, which was just as well considering how many other cars were parked nearby, their passengers similarly occupied.
Crowley tangled his fingers in Aziraphale’s hair, gasping. “Shit, Angel, I forgot how good you are at that.”
Aziraphale came off long enough to tell him he wasn’t going to get a chance to forget again. Crowley finished embarrassingly quickly.
By midnight, they’d worn themselves out and lay together in the back seat, as intertwined as they could manage.
“We should go to a drive-in cinema,” Aziraphale said. “I’ve always wanted to.”
“It’s not much different than this, honestly.” Crowley gestured out at the view of the city below. “Well, I guess there’s a little more to look at. But mostly, people go there to make out.”
“It sounds lovely.” Aziraphale kissed his temple. “Crowley?”
“I love you too.”
Crowley smiled. “I know you do.”
“Even though it took us some time to get back here, it all worked out, didn’t it?”
Crowley wished it had taken no time at all — and that was his fault, he knew. But still, they were back together, where it felt like they belonged. “We go together, Angel. I hope we always will.”
Aziraphale took a deep breath, then sighed happily. “Me too, my dear.”