Aziraphale was reading when he glanced up as the bell over the book shop door chimed. He was expecting Crowley. Or perhaps a potential customer. What he was not expecting was the archangel Gabriel to be standing in his shop just a few short months after the Apocalypse that didn’t happen.
There was a time not that long ago that this would have made Aziraphale uncomfortable. When he would have started lining up excuses and plans in his head for the inevitable questions that would come up. There was a time when he would have had to ensure that Heaven never, ever found out about Crowley because that could have meant the worst possible outcome.
Those times had ended.
Aziraphale stood, but didn’t move towards Gabriel. “What do you want?”
Now it was Gabriel’s turn to look uncomfortable. Aziraphale realized that while he didn’t know what was going on, he knew that Gabriel didn’t want to be here at all. Which meant he could only be here on official orders.
“Aziraphale, no hard feels about the last time we met, I’m sure. I’m just here on some… official business. Yes. You know, I am still the messenger of Heaven and…”
“Then deliver your message.”
“You will have a visitor tomorrow when the bell tolls one.”
“That’s the message.”
“Then get out of my shop.”
Gabriel disappeared with a small pop and Aziraphale was again alone.
Aziraphale didn’t hear the bell chime the next time the door opened. He was turning through his copy of A Christmas Carol , first edition, of course. Dedicated to a Mr. Fell. He jumped as a hand tapped his shoulder, and of course looked the wrong way as Crowley smiled at him from the other direction.
“Bit distracted this evening, angel?” Crowley smiled as he left the bottle of wine he’d brought on the desk and flopped down onto the couch. Aziraphale wondered exactly how a creature that started with no limbs had managed to seem to sprout more than the average number whenever he sat down. Then he realized he was staring when he saw Crowley’s eyebrows rise above the sunglasses. Aziraphale could feel the stare burning into him, and recognized the look even if the sunglasses were still on.
“What’s going on? Someone buy a book today?”
“No, I…” Aziraphale realized he should have considered this earlier. He knew Crowley wouldn’t want the truth. Wouldn’t want to hear that Gabriel had again stepped into the bookshop. Might even refuse to leave. Aziraphale made a decision. He chose to lie. “It’s nothing dear, let me grab the glasses. Did you want me to order some take out?”
The two began their familiar dance. A give and take, a just close enough but not too close. Aziraphale wondered at the familiar tension that ran underneath it all and wondered if he dared broach it tonight. But no, tonight he had plans. And those plans would probably go better if Crowlely weren’t here to get caught in the middle. He hadn’t come this far to lose Crowley now to whatever angelic madness was afoot.
“So dear, I think I’m going to call it a night early and try to get some sleep.”
Crowley’s glasses were off now. There was no blocking the golden stare that seemed to read to his very soul. “You don’t sleep, angel.”
“I do sometimes! And tonight, well.”
Aziraphale could see the measurements in Crowley’s head. The stare wasn’t hard, merely curious with a bit of worry attached. “Angel, what’s wrong?”
Aziraphale nearly cracked. He nearly told Crowley everything. Not just the visit from Gabriel, but how their dance was exhausting him. How he wanted it to change in tempo. How he wanted change but was utterly afraid of it. Instead, years of practice and denial took over and he simply smiled. “Nothing, dear. We’re still on tomorrow for Christmas, yes?”
“Of course. Every year. Would you like me to come over tomorrow, maybe bring some decorations? This place IS a bit drab.”
“No, no, I’ll sort it. Maybe hang some lights if that will make you happy.”
Crowley’s eyes widened. Aziraphale had never really decorated before. Oh some years they went out and took in the other decorations. Sometimes Aziraphale would put up a simple wreath and some candles. Mostly they spent the evening in, reminiscing and enjoying it with the only being whose company they really wanted.
“If you say so. Just don’t go getting yourself stuck on a tree. Tomorrow then.” As Crowley slid his glasses on and made his way to the door, Aziraphale felt some of his tension release. He didn’t want to do this. Didn’t want to lie to Crowley. But he wasn’t going to get him involved. And then the door was shut, and locked.
Aziraphale was sitting on his couch staring straight forward as the clock chimed one. A small light began to glow in front of him. It was beautiful. Aziraphale despite himself reached his arm out and heard a gentle tinkle of a laugh.
“Who are you? Why are you here?”
“You’ll learn the answer to both in time, Aziraphale. But know that I mean you no harm.”
“There is no way I could harm him and do you no harm, Aziraphale. I can not guarantee anyone’s safety as free will is so utterly important. But neither of you will come to harm from me. And there are things you need to know, and need to understand. The choice is yours. But you have read A Christmas Carol . Will you come with me back to the first Christmas, to begin with?”
Aziraphale knew he shouldn’t trust whatever this was. It was a disembodied voice from a glowing ball for goodness sake. But while his curiosity never quite matched Crowley’s, he couldn’t walk away from a mystery right in front of him.
“I will come. Show me what you think I need to know.”
A glow filled the room.
Azirphale felt the cold of the desert first. It was summer, as the first Christmas had been truly. But the desert is never quite forgiving, even in the summertime. While it wasn’t freezing, without anything to hold the summer sun in, it was chilly.
He glanced up to the inn they were standing next to. He recognized it. Inside he could see Gabriel, Michael, and many of the other angels. They’d rented the inn out for the night to celebrate. They were having the ancient equivalent to a cocktail party as he watched through the window. His earlier self had left the party as he recalled.
Gabriel’s voice carried through the air. “I told her! I told her she’d give birth to the son of God and now here he is. It’s a wonderful chance for us to celebrate. We’ve won! Jesus is on Earth and that’s the next step of the Great Plan accomplished. Rounds all around for whomever wants them. Even the wine is holy tonight.”
Aziraphale cringed. He thought of the couple, sleeping by now he was sure, in the modest stable. He considered all the beds the angels inside didn’t even need. And like the last time, he walked away from the party and down the mostly empty streets. He spared a glance and a smile for the small stable. Jesus had been alright, really. He’d tried to help Jesus where he could. The world could use more kindness and honesty.
A man walked towards him and Aziraphale smiled and gave a “Good evening.” The man didn’t blink as he walked straight through Aziraphale. Not here in reality then. He spared a brief wonder for where the rest of him was, and then he continued on down the street.
He took a turn down a small street he knew lead to a quiet garden and there he found an angel and a demon sitting next to each other. Their first Christmas too, he reflected. He listened to himself and Crowley, even though he remembered the discussion.
“So, redemption for the humans?”
“Yes. I suppose that’s what the Great Plan is.”
“And, just the humans?”
“Come, Crawly, you’re not telling me you want redemption.”
“No. No, I suppose not. Well, good night, angel.”
Aziraphale looked at the confused look on his younger self’s face as Crowley excused himself. Then he saw the small light following Crowley, and opted for following the younger demon down the path. He was mumbling about how he needed to tell Aziraphale his name. Aziraphale smiled sadly knowing he would go through with it the next they met, but wishing he’d known tonight.
They continued in silence for awhile, until they were well outside the city limits and Crowley had found a small cliff edge to himself. He sat with a sigh. Aziraphale wished he could reach out to him, to reassure him somehow. To tell him things would get better.
Then Crowley started to talk. “All I did was have too many questions, really.” A pause. “No, that’s a lie. I never really did fit in up there, did I?” Crowley laid back and stared up at the stars. Aziraphale considered how much brighter they were now, before the light pollution. Then he realized Crowley was speaking again.
“That’s why you sent me to make stars. Didn’t fit in. Created too big. Great big wide universe, it was easier for me to make stars. And they were so beautiful. I still remember crafting them. Kept me out of trouble for a time. There’s such calm in making. Maybe that’s why you do it.”
Aziraphale simply stared. He’d known for ages of course that Crowley had an affinity for the stars, but not that when he was inviting him to Alpha Centauri…
“I’d try to fit in for him. Angel can’t be with a demon, but another angel…” Crowley’s voice trailed off. “Maybe I’d try to be an angel again if it meant he could love me.”
Aziraphale stared. He’d hoped of talk of love with Crowley, but not like this. Not at this cost. Then he cringed. He’d mentioned Crowley being an angel not that long ago. And yet, at this point Crowley seemed to-
“No. I don’t want to go back. Even if I could. I want to be with him, but not there.” Crowley got up and started pacing. “Not in that sterile place where questions are wrong and it’s okay to throw out your sibling. Not where following orders is more important than doing what is right. Not where sterility is beauty and not the messiness that is so prevalent in the rest of this mad creation.” Crowley threw a rock off the edge of the small cliff. “I wasn’t happy there when it was all I knew. Now there’s no way for me to go back.”
Silence ascended again. Crowley wandered to the edge, standing on the precipice. For a moment Aziraphale felt fear, even as he realized how silly it was. Then the gentlest whisper. “If Aziraphale doesn’t want me as a demon, he doesn’t get me as an angel. I just wish he wanted me as a demon.”
Aziraphale’s face crumpled in. A cracked “But I do.” escaped him before he could stop it. Crowley of course didn’t respond. He couldn’t hear. Instead he unfurled his black wings and took off. Aziraphale stared after him until the light filled his vision again.
Aziraphale opened his eyes again in a forest. The small light was there. Glowing. He rounded it on it. “Why? Why are you showing me this? That was his, not mine. And it doesn’t change anything, it can’t. One night of want two thousand years ago doesn’t mean that anything changes today. Why?”
The light just glowed serenely. “It’s what you needed to know.” And then the light disappeared. Aziraphale glowered at the place it had previously occupied.
Then he heard voices. Voices he recognized. Christmas again he realized. This one in December though. Fifteen hundreds? He wasn’t overly sure but-
“Really, Aziraphale, where did you get this ale? You couldn’t find a decent wine for the occasion? Maybe we should go back to the village.” The voice was laughing. And Aziraphale remembered, quite drunk on that ale despite it’s quality.
“It’s not as if that village had so many options. You’re the wiley serpent, you go find out where they hide away the good wine if you’re so inclined.”
Aziraphale got a glimpse through the trees. They were both utterly gone on that highly questionable ale. It was evident in how he was currently leaning on Crowley’s shoulder, and he realized for the first time that Crowley’s arm was around him. Unwittingly his hand came up to touch his own shoulder where Crowley was currently touching his younger self’s. He watched himself do what he could only describe as nuzzle into Crowley and the contented sigh Crowley gave off.
The light was back besides him. “Sometimes it takes something to lower our walls to show us what we actually want.”
Aziraphale stood and watched the angel and the demon, now silent. Simply basking in each other’s company. As they had for thousands of years. He watched Crowley gently kiss the top of his head. He wondered what it would feel like to actually kiss Crowley, and then quickly banished those thoughts. This moment was perfect. Their relationship was perfect…
The light began to glow again.
This time he was dropped into a room where Crowley sat alone. Late 1940’s maybe? Maybe early 1950’s.
“Stupid angel and the way he looked at me over those books.” Crowley was tearing bits of pieces of paper apart and throwing them in the fire. Aziraphale could hear carolers outside. One of their Christmases spent apart then.
“You’d think I’d never done anything for him before to show I care. It was just some books. God knows I saw the state he was in after Alexandria and I wasn’t about to repeat it.” Crowley sighed and leaned back.
“But what does it mean? I felt a wave of love roll off him. Oh, I know he thinks I can’t feel it. But it’s there plain as day. Was it for me? For the books? What am I supposed to do with this. Angels aren’t supposed to be able to love demons. Don’t deserve that.”
A white glow filled Aziraphale’s eyes again before he could again start talking to a ghost in the past.
This time when he opened his eyes he was in Crowley’s flat. Modern day. Nothing to indicate it was Christmas, but Crowley was sitting in front of him on the couch talking to himself. Aziraphale let his eyes trace to clock in Crowley’s kitchen. This was today. They’d made their way to the present.
“He’s hiding something. I don’t know what. But if you could keep him safe… well, you know, there’s nothing else I’d ask of you. Shouldn’t even be asking that. What am I even doing.”
Crowley stood off his couch and began to pace. Aziraphale reached out, but his hand went through him. Still not here then.
“This is a stupid idea. Angel’s had months since the world didn’t end. I’m still moving too fast. Maybe I’ll always be moving too fast. This is stupid. I’m just going to break things.”
Crowley threw his arms wide. Aziraphale noticed there was a jewelry box in one hand.
“Need to just go get him something else. Something less personal. Really what am I even thinking. Inappropriate gifts and all that.”
Crowley sank down on the couch. “If he loved you, he would have told you by now anyway. It’s just… not like that. That’s okay.”
Crowley fell back on the couch. “Just like you’ve told him. One of us needs to make the first move, right? Hell, this is scarier than falling.”
This time Aziraphale felt a gentle smile. He understood now. The light began to glow again.
They were back in the bookshop. There was no light beside him, but there was a young woman.
“Aziraphale. You know now?”
“That he’s in love with me? Yes.”
“The rest is your decision. And his. But you should know that I’ll be back once more. Tomorrow at the same time.”
“There’s one more thing you need to see. But I’m hoping you’ll be willing to see it together.” With that, she vanished. Aziraphale knew really she was omnipresent, and thus still there in her own way.
He looked around the bookshop with a smile. He had a demon to court.
Aziraphale had called Crowley and asked if they might meet out. Something about a Christmas picnic. And so they met at St. James Park and Aziraphale predictably had a picnic basket over his arm and they spent a lovely Christmas afternoon watching the people pass by with the occasional words between them. If Crowley felt the jewelry box in his pocket growing heavier, he didn’t let on. And Aziraphale didn’t mention what he’d learned, or that they’d have a visitor later that evening. Both had had a few drinks but knew they were saving the real merriment for the bookshop and later.
“I wondered if you’d like to accompany back to the bookshop, dear? It’s getting rather dark.”
Thousands of years of keeping up appearances kept Crowley from freezing when Aziraphale stood and then took his arm. However, he did freeze when he felt Aziraphale’s head on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, dear. Too fast?”
“No, no, it’s fine. Just…” Crowley gently pulled his arm out of Aziraphale’s arm and instead wrapped it around the angel. Giving him half a hug as they walked through the winter streets. Aziraphale gave a small, contented sigh as they walked.
As they neared the bookshop, Aziraphale begrudgingly pulled away from Crowley. “Will you.. Can you do something for me?”
Crowley paused and then nodded.
“I… I wonder, dear, if you’d mind taking off your glasses and closing your eyes? Just until I tell you that you can open them?”
Crowley reached up and pulled the glasses from his face. As he slid them into his coat jacket, he allowed himself a brief moment to stare into Aziraphale’s blue eyes. Nothing was given away in them right now. The pools of blue just continued to stare beseechingly. He closed his eyes and held out his hand.
Which is why he was shocked to feel Aziraphale’s arm instead wrap around his back. Gently leading. He heard the shop door open and close as they entered, and his nose picked up the smell of evergreens and was that peppermint? Aziraphale gently pulled his jacket off and lead him to the couch and sit him down, then wrap him in a blanket. Then there was quiet and rustling for a moment.
Aziraphale’s face was inches from Crowley’s when he whispered he could open his eyes.
Crowley opened his eyes, first to meet Aziraphale’s and then slowly to focus beyond them. He realized the shop hadn’t just been decorated. Somehow through a combination of lights and glass ornaments hanging from every surface and the ceiling, Aziraphale had managed to make it almost look like a mini-night sky within the bookshop. “Angel, it’s beautiful.”
Crowley stared around the room noting not just the ceiling now but the evergreen boughs throughout the room making the almost woodsy smell. There was an actual fire in the fireplace for once. And red ribbons almost the same shade as his hair but outlined in gold decorated the green.
“You like it?”
And then Crowley glanced down and realized that what he thought was Aziraphale’s couch, was not. Somehow at some point Aziraphale had added a couch into the bookshop that may as well be a bed for the size of it. Aziraphale sat down, not in his usual chair, but next to him. And he was still staring at Crowley.
“Aziraphale, I… Well, I got you something for Christmas this year and... Well, it’s nothing large and if you don’t want it there’s no need to worry. It’s just I saw it and it reminded me of you and…”
Crowley slowly pulled out the small jewelry box and, unable to meet Aziraphale’s eyes, simply held it out to him. Aziraphale gently opened it, finding a ring nestled inside. It wasn’t flashy or large, but it was a single, small silver ring shaped as a feather with gold inlaid. “It’s beautiful.” Aziraphale pulled the ring from the box and gently slipped it onto his left ring finger. Crowley held his breath, wondering if Aziraphale remembered current customs or if it was an utter accident.
“Crowley, I didn’t get you anything…”
“This is quite enough, angel.” Crowley gestured at the room.
“All the same. Crowley... Can I… I mean…”
“Angel, whatever you want.”
Aziraphale stared at Crowley for a long moment. Then slowly, giving him a chance to turn away if he wanted, he leaned in. Aziraphale had meant for it to be a light brush, barely a kiss really. To start gentle. He did not anticipate his own response to Crowley kissing him back.
Aziraphale finally pulled back with a gasp. “Crowley, I-”
He didn’t get a chance to finish what he was saying before Crowley’s lips were on his again. This time he felt Crowley’s arms around him, deceptively strong. Gently pulling until Aziraphale was on his lap and Crowley could wrap his arms around him properly. Aziraphale felt as much as he heard the slight groan that hissed out of Crowley’s mouth as Aziraphale took the opportunity to press even closer.
Then Aziraphale lost track of things for a moment as Crowley’s tongue slipped into his mouth. When he was able to respond again his hands finally came up, one on Crowley’s cheek gently tracing the side of his face. The other was in Crowley’s hair. It was longer now than it had been months ago. Not by much, but just long enough for his fingers to be able to run through and feel the softness. He wasn’t sure which of them was making noises at this point. It may have been both.
Suddenly, it was Crowley that was pulling back, disengaging as much as he could with Aziraphale still on his lap. “Angel. Angel, too fast?”
Crowley shook his head as if to clear it. “Don’t want to go too fast.”
“My dearest, is that what held you back all this time?”
Aziraphale met Crowley’s eyes. He saw pain and fear, but more than both there was such an intense longing. He wondered how very, very long his demon had waited for him to be ready.
“Oh, Crowley, I don’t deserve someone as good as you.”
A wave of shock rolled across Crowley’s face. “Aziraphale?”
“I’m sorry. I’m sorry I made you wait. I should have realized you were waiting for me. Instead I was terrified of breaking what we had, but Crowley? I’m yours. I have been for such a long time. And you don’t need to wait anymore.”
Aziraphale had expected another kiss. He hadn’t expect Crowley to bury his face into his chest and start shaking. He did the only thing he could think of to do and wrapped his arms around Crowley, peppered kisses over the top of his head, whispered reassurances of how he was here and wasn’t going anywhere as he waited for the shaking to slowly subside.
And then Crowley was pulling back and looking up at Aziraphale, his eyes nearly glowing like the Christmas lights sparkling above them both. “Aziraphale, I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
Aziraphale wasn’t sure which of them had leaned into this kiss, perhaps it had been both. But it was full of longing and desperation and so many years of waiting. Aziraphale let his hands slide up and down Crowley’s back as the kiss continued and then felt Crowley’s hands gently pulling his bow tie loose and then off and then working at the buttons at the top of his shirt.
Suddenly the kiss was broken and Crowley was whispering in his ear, “Stop me if anything is too much.” And then Crowley’s lips were on his neck. And it was too much, really. But in all of the best ways possible and Aziraphale certainly didn’t want it to stop.
Aziraphale managed to turn his body so he was no longer sitting across Crowley’s lap but instead facing him, a leg on each side. Crowley didn’t acknowledge the movement other than to reposition his kisses and continue to work on the buttons on Aziraphale’s shirt and vest. Aziraphale felt the gentlest of nips on his neck and then realized his back was arching and there was a noise he’d never made before escaping his lips.
Crowley’s hands were behind him instantly. Pulling the rest of him closer until it seemed like everything was touching as he continued to kiss now at the base of his neck and around his collar bone.
Aziraphale realized that his arched back meant their hips were pushed against each other. He gave just the smallest twitch of his hips. Crowley’s lips stopped on his collarbone and instead he simply said Aziraphale’s name. But he’d never said it before like this, as half a moan and half a whine. Aziraphale smiled and this time it wasn’t so much a gentle twitch as a gentle slow rocking. He realized how much he could feel despite the clothes still in the way and now Crowley was throwing his head back, his breathing hard. His eyes staring wide and wild at the angel.
Aziraphale leaned in to kiss him again.
He felt Crowley’s hand on the back of his neck, pulling him close as if they truly could become one with a single kiss. Then he realized that Crowley’s hands were pushing off his vest and shirt, he must have finally made it through all the buttons.
Aziraphale kept gently rocking as he grabbed Crowley’s scarf off and unbuttoned the top few buttons of his shirt. Then he broke the kiss, despite Crowley’s whining complaint. He took the opportunity to pull Crowley’s shirt off over his head. Crowley gasped a bit and Aziraphale raised an eyebrow. Surely he wasn’t…
“Just a bit cold.”
Aziraphale gently kissed Crowley’s forehead as he unfurled his wings and wrapped them around him. He let just enough angelic warmth roll off them to see Crowley literally shiver with the feeling.
“Oh, Aziraphale, they’re beautiful.” Crowley looked up, a question in his eyes as he reached towards one of Aziraphale’s wings. Aziraphale nodded, not knowing what he planned but knowing that he trusted him implicitly.
Then Crowley began to run his fingers through the feathers gently, ever so gently. Aziraphale’s entire body shuddered. He didn’t think anyone had ever touched his wings. They were fragile things, and mostly kept safe. He knew no one had touched his wings as Crowley currently did, with a combination of reverence and adoration. Crowley pulled his stare away from Aziraphale’s wing long enough to stare at his body momentarily. “They’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. My beautiful angel that I’ve never deserved.”
“Crowley, no.” Aziraphale’s voice was soft. He didn’t know how to explain this. How to explain the good that Crowley was without using words that would also offend him. “I don’t deserve you. You’ve always been there. 6000 years of being there. And then you waited for me to be ready, even when I should have been. When I should have always known it was you. It’s always been you. And you’ve always been perfect as you are.”
Crowley’s wings furled out. “They’re black angel. They’re not fit for-”
“They are gorgeous. Your eyes enrapture me. Your questions answer my own. You are perfect to me, Crowley, just as you are.”
And now it was Aziraphale’s turn to reach out gently and run his hand down Crowley’s wings and through the feathers. Gently, ever so gently. Crowley whispered his name softly as he carefully preened the black feathers. Then Aziraphale ever so carefully pulled his wings so the two met. Feather against feather, white interspersed with black. The angel and demon both took a moment to simply stare before turning back to look into each other’s eyes.
Aziraphale snapped his fingers and suddenly they weren’t on the couch anymore, but on a rarely used bed in the upstairs flat. “I hope you don’t mind but I thought…”
Crowley leaned back into the bed behind him, letting his wings spread out.
Aziraphale simply stopped and stared.
“You’re… Crowley, you’re just beautiful.”
“Shuddup,” Crowley said and leaned forward, his hands snaking beneath the edge of the angel’s trousers, fingers cool against warm skin. Aziraphale exhaled sharply. Crowley gave a pull, bringing Aziraphale down to where he could kiss him again, white feathers surrounding them on either side.
Aziraphale gasped into the kiss as Crowley so gently slipped his hands into his trousers. He couldn’t help thinking that this was surely too much, that he didn’t deserve to feel this, but before the thoughts could go further than that Crowley was gently stroking and teasing and Aziraphale lost track of any thoughts for a time.
He was, however, aware of the push in Crowley’s own pants. Of the occasional jerk he felt against his leg. Of Crowley’s moans beneath him.
“Crowley, can I-”
“I said anything you want, angel.”
And with that bit of permission, the last of their clothes were gone. Crowley’s eyes widened and then slid shut for a moment. Aziraphale waited for them to open and stare back at him with just the slightest nod.
And then Crowley reached gently around Aziraphale. He wasn’t sure where the lube came from and wasn’t going to ask, but he also wasn’t going to ask either what that particular tone was to his own voice as he called Crowley’s name. He felt himself gently open to Crowley’s fingers until-
“Aziraphale. Aziraphale. Angel.” And Crowley was inside him and he leaned back slightly trying not to simply discorporate from the feeling of completeness. Crowley gently shifted underneath him and he saw stars as he realized, oh yes, he could move, too. And then he was and Crowley was moaning his name.
And then Crowley’s hands were on him, gently stroking and massaging in time with his own movements. Aziraphale’s wings fluttered behind him in time. He saw Crowley’s eyes widen as he took in the sight of Aziraphale above him, wings swaying with the motions. Aziraphale realized Crowley didn’t know how beautiful he looked below him with black feathers splayed over the bed.
And then he stared into Crowley’s eyes and watched them go wide, watched them go utterly golden as Aziraphale’s name was no more than a whisper on lips. Crowley’s wings seemed to spasm wrapping around them as his back arched and Aziraphale found himself seeing stars as he found his own release in Crowley’s hands, white wings wrapping around Crowley’s black ones, creating a small piece of their own world for just that moment.
Aziraphale collapsed utterly spent next to Crowley, but still unable to resist gently kissing him again as he wrapped his arms around him. Crowley’s hands ran through his hair. He heard his name whispered. Then Crowley’s arms wrapped around him.
This was what being content felt like, truly. He’d never felt this utterly. As his eyes slowly drifted shut, Aziraphale pulled close the being that he loved.
Aziraphale wondered exactly how a creature that started with no limbs had managed to seem to sprout more than the average number. And then wrap every one of them around his body. He sighed contentedly as he kissed the top of the red hair. Then he heard one of the clocks chime gently. Fifteen minutes until the Almighty was due and, while she probably was not going to smite them, it may be best to at least be dressed.
“Crowley, love, I need you to wake up.”
Despite himself Aziraphale gave a soft laugh. “Well, I think that’s a bit of an understatement, but yes.”
Crowley slowly pulled back, a lazy smile on his face until he saw the look on Aziraphale’s face. “What’s wrong? Is this what you weren’t telling me?”
“Nothing is… wrong. Just, we have a visitor coming and I thought you may want to be dressed.”
“The.. um… the Almighty is coming.”
Aziraphale watched Crowley’s eyes go from relaxed to wide with panic, the whites barely visible. Crowley tensed in his arms. He reflexively tightened his grip on the demon. “Shh. Shh. It’ll be fine. She’s just coming to show us something. She knew you’d be here. Crowley, it’s fine.”
“I can’t lose you now, Aziraphale. Not again, not after…”
Aziraphale realized he’d never seen Crowley this terrified before. Even at the airfield, he’d kept things together, focused on what needed to be done. He wondered if Crowley realized how low his guard was right now, or if it was simply that it was only the two of them and Crowley felt safe letting Aziraphale see this.
“Crowley, I’m not going anywhere. I love you, Crowley. Nothing she has to say will change that.”
Crowley pulled back slowly, sneaking one more quick kiss in as he stood. Aziraphale nearly felt the difference as the shield was put back up. The focus to deal with the situation at hand. A few minutes later, they were both ready for the visit. Crowley was pacing. Aziraphale was wringing his hands sitting on the couch.
The room started to fill with light and Aziraphale jumped to his feet. He reached out to grab Crowley’s hand, but then saw him shrinking back against the light. Aziraphale turned and pulled Crowley to him, wings coming out to wrap around him protectively.
“STOP. You promised no harm would come to him!”
The light faded.
“I’m fine, angel. Just startled me a bit.”
Aziraphale stared at Crowley, trying to detect any sort of pain before he slowly lowered his wings and returned them to the ethereal plane. Aziraphale slowly and deliberately took a moment to kiss Crowley’s cheek before turning to face the young woman now standing in his bookshop.
“I’m bound to keep my promises, Aziraphale. I told you no harm would come to Crowley through me.”
Aziraphale bristled. “Yes, well, you’ve already done quite enough on that score.”
Crowley’s hand slipped into his as Crowley half leaned into his side. Crowley was uncharacteristically silent and waiting.
The Almighty turned her body slightly to face Crowley. “I know you’re angry with me. And I know you don’t want redemption, not truly. But know this, my serpent. I made you as you are. And I know you. I know you would have gone through every step of the pain to get here to stand next to him now. I just thought you should be spared a bit more pain along the way, and what’s coming concerns you both.”
With that, Aziraphale tightened his grip on Crowley’s hand as the white light filled the room again.
They were transported to what looked like an actual battlefield. The fighting had died down and there was a triumphant, if significantly older looking Adam at the edge of the field giving what looked like a victory speech.
Crowley was looking around, taking in the details more. “I was right. It is going to come down to all of the humans versus Heaven and Hell.”
Aziraphale glanced down. Some of the bodies on the field were most definitely angelic and demonic. His hand spasmed in Crowley’s.
Then he saw his future self, off to the side. He was looking at someone on the ground. Friend or foe, he couldn’t tell but… he watched as someone ran at his future self with a knife. He didn’t know why, the battle seemed over. He watched as Crowley’s hand left his to shoot up, protectively, but there was nothing the two of them could do, they were just visitors here.
Future Crowley was not. Aziraphale watched in horror as that Crowley threw himself between the knife and Aziraphale. As the knife sank into his chest. As he called out Aziraphale’s name while fading into dust in his arms. Both versions of Aziraphale called out, and he felt Crowley’s arms wrap around him as the light began to glow again.
As they reappeared in the bookshop, he heard her voice. “The future is not set in stone. It’s malleable. Use care, my angel and my serpent.”
And then the two were standing alone in the bookshop. Tears were rolling down Aziraphale’s cheeks as now Crowley was the one holding him whispering that he was here, that it would be all right. That now they knew and they just needed a plan. Aziraphale clung to Crowley’s jacket and cried.
“Absolutely not.” Aziraphale knew from Crowley’s voice he was not going to be persuaded and yet.
“Crowley, it had to have been an ethereal blade. If you just stay out of it and let the person hit me instead…”
“You don’t know that. It could have been something else. Could have been something just as deadly to you, which is why they were aiming for you. At the very least, it could discorporate you and we don’t know what was going on in that future. No, angel. Absolutely not. I’m not going to stand by and let you get stabbed.”
“Crowley, if this is about redemption, don’t…”
“What did you say?”
“The Almighty… she took me back to that first Christmas. You remember our conversation in the garden? She showed me you afterwards. You…”
Crowley’s face froze and then paled. “I was wondering about redemption. And then decided I didn’t want it.”
“Yes. But you thought that I wouldn’t want you as a demon and Crowley, I love you as you are. And being who you are is you, and I wouldn’t change any of that.”
Crowley’s voice had a hardness to it Aziraphale had never heard before. “That’s not what this is about, angel. Not at all.”
“I have loved you for six thousand years. From the first conversation on that wall, I was gone. I’ve loved you and waited for you and this has nothing to do with her and everything to do with you. You’re my Heaven, Aziraphale. I can’t sit by and let them hurt you or possibly kill you. I can’t. I won’t. The only thing I’ve truly asked the Almighty for since I was cast out was to keep you safe.”
Aziraphale’s voice cracked. “But I can’t lose you either, Crowley. Especially not now.”
Crowley pulled Aziraphale into his arms and nuzzled his face into the blonde curls. “You won’t. It’ll be fine. I’ll just… get some armor.”
“Sure, you remember the whole black knight get up? Doesn’t need to be quite that intense.”
“Why don’t we just avoid the battle altogether?”
“Don’t know what else we may change. We need to be in that moment I think, or she wouldn’t have shown it to us. Just told us to avoid going to the battle altogether or something else. Still not sure why she’s on our side but…”
“Then why can’t I wear the armor?”
“Not. Going. To. Happen. I’ll give you anything you want, but that.”
“You can’t stop me.”
“I can’t stop you from wearing armor, sure. No argument there. I’m all for you having some extra protection. But you can’t stop me either. And you can glower all you want, I’m not going to change my mind.”
Aziraphale pulled back from Crowley and snapped his fingers. A lightweight, black breast and back plate armor appeared that he held out beseechingly. Crowley noted the front had what appeared to be a flaming sword designed in as a crest. He pulled the armor over his head and let Aziraphale attach the leather buckles at his side.
Then Crowley snapped his own fingers and a silver matching set appeared. This one with a snake emblem crawling up the breast plate. He held it out to Aziraphale, “Just in case this slows me down.”
Aziraphale nodded and pulled his own armor on.
The two stood looking at each other.
Crowley gestured to the armor. “Satisfied now? We’ve done what we can-”
There was a clang of metal breastplates hitting as Aziraphale threw himself into Crowley’s arms and kissed him. The kiss was desperate and terrified and he hoped it said everything he simply couldn’t.
Crowley snapped and both sets of armor were sitting on the desk so that he could more easily pull Aziraphale into his arms. “It’ll be fine, angel. Just fine. And we’ve got years yet. Years and years. And I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.”
Roughly twenty years later, Aziraphale was standing on a now quiet battlefield. He bent over to help a human that was still breathing, sending a simple miracle her way to heal her wound. She was smiling as he heard the clang of metal behind him.
Aziraphale spun to find Crowley still on his feet. Both his hands entwined with that of some angel he didn’t recognize. Aziraphale noticed the knife had fallen from the angel’s hand to the ground. This angel had nearly killed Crowley. Would have if not for the warning. Aziraphale did not hesitate to grab the knife and plunge it into the angel exactly where it would have hit Crowley had he not been wearing the armor they’d miracled all those years ago. The angel disappeared into dust.
Aziraphale’s eyes found Crowley’s. He was fine. He was whole. He was safe. A weight Aziraphale didn’t realize he’d been carrying lifted from his chest. Aziraphale glanced at the victory celebrations then back to Crowley. “Care to head home, dear? I don’t think we’re needed here anymore.”
Crowley nodded and the next instant they were standing inside the bookshop. Aziraphale placed his hand gently on the scrape mark right in the middle of Crowley’s chest plate. Tears he didn’t realize he’d been holding in tracked down Aziraphale’s face. The mourning of war deaths competed with the sheer relief that Crowley was standing here in front of him. Unharmed. Whole. Safely his, perhaps forever now.
Crowley pulled the armor off over his head and threw it to the side and then did the same with Aziraphale’s armor. The two fell into each other’s arms as they slowly sank to the floor. They were a mess of hands and lips and gentle kisses falling everywhere. Aziraphale registered that Crowley was simply whispering “angel” over and over again and heard himself saying Crowley’s name.
After a time, they finally realized the worst had not happened. They realized that both of them were safe in their home. That the war was finally over.
“You know, today is Christmas,” Crowley whispered.
“Is it? I’d quite lost count…”
“It must be. Every place she took you to was Christmas. Do you… Do you remember that Christmas? The decorations?”
Aziraphale smiled. He waved his hand and the glass ornaments and lights were back creating a sparkling starry sky on the ceiling. The evergreen boughs bringing them into the forest of what was once trees. Crowley sighed and laid back onto the floor and Aziraphale laid down, curled into his side. He watched Crowley’s eyes sparkle in the reflected light.
“Merry Christmas, angel.”
“Merry Christmas, dear.”