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Exquisitely manicured hands

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Aziraphale, as it was, was not exactly into fashion.

However, he did like the idea of expressing one’s personnality through what they were wearing. But, unlike Crowley, he couldn’t bring himself to just change radically every decade.

It wasn’t very Aziraphale. The change.

Not when it was too drastic, at least.

The idea came to him when the first nail salons blossomed in London.

Well aware that this was primarly aimed at human women, Aziraphale didn’t care in the slightest and went in there the exact same way he would visit his barber. In a very aziraphalesque way, he became a regular client for several decades, frequenting the same nail salon, once a week, right on schedule, a ritual well engrained into his routine.

At first, he only did the french manicures. Fast, reliable, good looking, nothing eye-catching.

As he became more comfortable with everyone and everything at the nail salon, he settled every now and then on a new color, usually a pastel one, and occasionnally accepted to get experimented on by the apprentices. That would always get him fifty percent off for his next appointement, but it also produced a lot of interesting conversations the following week while people discovered that this old man’s nails had bright blue polka dots or fake diamonds decorating them.

So time went on. And Aziraphale bonded. With the owner, the employees, the employees’ kids whenever they bought them around – he knew everything there was to know about the ladies at the nail salon. They gossiped so much while getting his nails done. Aziraphale always listened. It was not just an « understanding angel listening » type of thing : Aziraphale had grown quite fond of these particular humans, as he couldn’t help doing with the few that regularly crossed his life, and always asked them about little Julia’s notes at school and how is Ricky’s work injury getting, better, I do hope ?

And, is it happens when one’s gets too comfortable around other people, one starts talking about themself.

Namely, Aziraphale started to talk about that Anthony Crowley he seemed to like an awful lot. It was the nail salon ladies turn to listen.

« How long do you say you’ve known each other ? » had asked Cherryl.

« Oh, from… almost the beginning, I would say » had replied Aziraphale, making an effort not to motion vaguely while his nails were getting done.

Cherryl and her coworker Lisa estimated that to be forty to fifty years ago. They were wrong only by several thousands years. But their point still stood.

« And neither of you has made a move yet ? »

« Oh, erm, you know… It’s complicated… I wouldn’t say… He… He did… He does a lot of little things for me, every now and then… But I don’t know. What it really means. I mean, obviously, we’re friends, but… »

Cherryl and Lisa were unconvinced. Mr Fell was always evasive, he couldn’t talk about anything concrete going on with this Anthony fellow, and they were pretty sure that man was using this kind bookseller to profit from him somehow.

The angel wasn’t trying to get any romantic advice, or any advice at all actually, but the ladies still worded strongly what they thought to him. It was sometimes « maybe you should tell him what you feel like », and most of the time « well, honey, if he hasn’t made a move yet, he obviously doesn’t deserve you, because you’re a catch ». That last statement was often followed by a very uncomfortable moment during which Cherryl and Lisa would try to get Aziraphale on Grindr or talk him into meeting people his age to forget all about that dreadful Anthony.

One day, right on schedule, Mr Fell came, and he was not alone. Miraculously, at that exact moment, the other appointement for the nail salon had cancelled.

Mr Fell introduced the dark looking man accompanying him. The nail salon went silent, all the employees held their breath.

« This is Anthony Crowley » smiled the angel. « I thought, if you have room for him right now, we could get our nails done together. »

How Aziraphale had convinced Crowley to accompany him to the nail salon was really no mystery. He had just asked « would you like to get your nails done with me, my dear » and Crowley had replied « of course, angel ».

As a matter of fact, Crowley had already given into the trend of getting his nails colored. But it didn’t last long. Maybe fourth century Germany hadn’t been the best time or place to start with it. A bit too avant-garde. After that, he hadn’t really thought about it anymore, but had really nothing against the idea of painted nails.

Seeing Aziraphale getting his nails done for what had now been more than twenty years was actually quite nice. It seemed to make the angel genuinely happy, and Crowley unconsciously assimilited nail polish to be Aziraphale’s thing.

And now his angel had asked him to share that together.

Cherryl and Lisa didn’t know any of that. The only thing they knew was that the man in front of them looked nothing like what they had imagined. And he definitely didn’t look like he should be paired up with Mr Fell. They thought the newcomer would opt for … probably something dull like black, or a very dark blue. Instead, Crowley grinned.

« Improvise. Surprise me. Bonus points if it’s got like holographic flames or something. Or if you can make them into the shape of a Bentley… »

And yet, his request was the least surprising thing about Anthony Crowley. What became really obvious, as he was sitting next to Mr Fell, was that this man was in utter adoration every time his companion talked. Or moved. Or when he just looked at him – though it was tough to see where exactly Crowley was looking because of his shades, it was obvious when he was focusing on Mr Fell because of the sudden tenderness invading his features.

Cherryl and Lisa exchanged a look. They didn’t need to talk. They had been wrong about that Crowley man trying to profit from Mr Fell. He was, if possible, even more infatuated with Mr Fell than they had thought Mr Fell to be infatued with him.

And yet. None of these two men seemed aware of it. Not to its full extent at least.

They left, Mr Fell with a lovely pastel blue, Anthony Crowley with what turned out to be an extravagant set of constellations painted in gold over some blending shades of purple, one constellation per nail. An idea of his partner, and one Crowley had embraced right away. He apparently was quite knowledgeable about astronomy. Cherryl heard him give such detailed explanations about nebulas that she was now convinced he had worked with the NASA or something. Lisa thought he was just a nerd.

What they both agreed on, however, was that both Fell and Crowley were idiots, dense as bricks, and desperatly in love with each other. And they couldn’t wait to tell everyone else about it.