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First Bloom

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There was a god puttering around in his throne room.

Crowley lounged back on his throne, propping up his chin with his hand and wondering what the fuck. Gods didn’t just drop by for a visit. He’d even tried to throw a party a couple of decades ago for Anthesteria, but only Dionysus had bothered to show up. Actually, it turned out quite well because he had brought several barrels of wine and they’d spent a pleasant three days getting obliterated and bitching about Gabriel. Of course, now Anthesteria was being held in honor of Dionysus, for all that it was a festival for the dead. So that was a thing.

The point was, gods didn’t come to the underworld, especially not blond, blue-eyed gods of spring, not when the only sunlight that could be found here came from the trespassing god himself.

“Sit,” the god told Cerberus. Two of the dog’s great heads cocked to the side while the third panted happily, drool cascading from its mouth. Cerberus did not sit. The god sighed. “I see you haven’t been trained very well. No matter, an old dog can learn new tricks, as they say.”

“What are you doing,” Crowley asked into his hand.

The god spun around, like he was surprised to find Crowley sitting in his own throne room. Then his face split into a brilliant grin. “Oh, hello!”

“Hello,” said Crowley.

The god tripped over to the throne, still beaming at him. Crowley’s eyes widened slightly at this sudden assault. He had been alone for so long that even this small act of kindness filled his heart with yearning. But he had been tricked before, so he didn’t move from where he was slouched in his throne.

“My name is Aziraphale,” the god said, pressing his hand to his chest. “I’ve come to visit you.”

“I sssee,” said Crowley. “Why?”

“Well, you see,” said Aziraphale, meeting his yellow snake eyes without a hint of fear or disgust. “I’ve heard quite a lot about the underworld—and you, of course—and I was curious.”


“Yes! I must say, I quite like it down here, especially your garden. I had no idea there was a garden in the underworld! You must have quite the green thumb to get plants to grow down here.”

Crowley cleared his throat, not wanting to admit to the god of spring that he forced his plants grow by bullying them relentlessly.

“Forgive my surprise,” said Crowley, lowering his hand to drape his arm over the armrest of his throne. “You see, not many gods come to visit the underworld.”

Aziraphale’s eyes softened. “I know. Fools, the lot of them. They have no idea what they’re missing out on. Why, it’s so much better down here! Up there can be quite rubbish, what with Gabriel hanging about and—well, never mind.”

He turned his back to Crowley, planting his hands on hips and surveying the room thoughtfully. There wasn’t much to see: stone floor, stone walls, high stone ceiling. A huge, three headed dog flopped down on his massive red pillow by the door, chewing on a mammoth-sized bone. One cavernous room set to the side, overflowing with greenery. A table pushed against the wall, always full of food that Crowley mostly ignored. A table that Aziraphale had apparently just noticed, since he was making a beeline straight for it.

Crowley tensed, then rolled his eyes and relaxed back into his throne. It would serve this clueless god right if he got himself stuck in the underworld. Thankfully, Aziraphale just folded his arms behind his back, examining the food like a curious bird.

“I’ve heard all about you, of course,” Aziraphale chattered. “The fearsome god of the underworld.” He shot a grin over his shoulder. “You don’t seem all that fearsome to me.”

Crowley glared. He could be fearsome if he wanted to. He was just choosing not to be fearsome right now, since it required rather more effort than he preferred to exert.

“Actually, you seem rather sweet,” continued Aziraphale.

Crowley jerked up, scowling. “Sweet? Sweet? I am not sweet. What on earth makes you think I’m sweet?”

Aziraphale nodded towards Cerberus, who had flopped over onto his back, wriggling on his massive pillow, all four legs waving in the air. “Your dog has a pillow finer than your own throne,” he pointed out.

“Well that’s—” Crowley blustered, heat flooding his cheeks. “The stone gets cold.”

Aziraphale looked at him with a melting expression on his face.

“Oh, shut up,” Crowley snapped, sinking into his throne. He felt no need to explain to this minor god how a pillow was a trifling expense for Cerberus’s lifetime of loyalty. “He’s a good dog.”

“He’s a wonderful dog,” said Aziraphale, turning back to the food. “I’m so glad you’ve had him for company for all these years. I imagine it gets lonely down here.”

Crowley propped his chin back on his hand, covering his mouth with his fingers. It looked like Aziraphale had worked it out without Crowley needing to say anything, after all.

This was dangerous.

He had been in the underworld for too long. It was too easy to lose himself to this glowing ray of sunlight. No matter what Aziraphale thought, Crowley could be fearsome, especially if he allowed himself to succumb to obsession—

“Ooo, is that pomegranate?” Aziraphale asked.

“Wait—!” Crowley yelped, lurching out of his throne, but a few ruby red seeds had already disappeared into Aziraphale’s mouth.

“Oh, that is scrummy.”

“What are you doing?” Crowley shouted, grabbing Aziraphale’s hand and dragging him away from the table, heart thundering frantically against his ribs. “Are you an idiot? Don’t you know anything about the underworld? You can’t just—just eat stuff down here! There are repercussions!”

Panic was making him mean, but Aziraphale hardly blinked, sucking the pomegranate juice from his fingers. “Like what?”

“Like what,” said Crowley, blankly. “Like what? How many seeds did you just eat?”

Aziraphale shrugged. “Two or three.”

Crowley groaned and covered his face with his hand. He would pay for this, he just knew it. “You can’t leave if you’ve had the food here, Aziraphale. Maybe—you said only a couple of seeds? You should be able to leave for most of the year, then—”

“Is that all?”

Crowley slid his hand down his face to stare at Aziraphale, who was suddenly very, very close. Aziraphale smiled at him, full of sunlight. He took Crowley’s hand, brought it to his lips, and pressed a kiss to his knuckles.

“That’s quite alright, my dear. You see, I was rather hoping to stay for awhile, anyway.”