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Welcome to Terreville High

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Aziraphale was sure that everybody would laugh at him.

Well. He had been sure. Now he was pretty sure everybody was ignoring him, which was still bad but a degree better.

Aziraphale’s dad, Mr. Metra Fell, owner of the old bookshop on Coelum Avenue, was a very odd man. Unfortunately, this mean Aziraphale had inherited some of his oddities, including his Victorian-style jackets and a love for old books.

Aziraphale clutched the book he’d brought along for interference to his chest. This was his first day at Terreville High, because Dad had bought a new store and they’d uprooted their life to Terreville. Aziraphale had been to the town a few times before, because his mom was the mayor, but usually Mom came to visit them in New York City.

Now he would be forced to learn every part of the town for the next three years. Only three years , and maybe he’d make a friend that would make those three years worthwhile. That was a very slim chance. And not one he’d bet the prophecy book he was holding against himself on.

Aziraphale continued to scan the navy-blue lockers against the wall. They had masking-tape names written on them in black Sharpie: Ana Ferr. Georgia MacDonald. Cedric Ligur. Of course they weren’t alphabetical; that would have been too easy.

In typical Metra Fell fashion, Dad had mixed up the first day of school with the second week of school, so Aziraphale felt even more out of place than he might have if he’d come on a normal day. Cliques had already been formed. Class syllabuses had already been handed out. He might even be late on homework.

Aziraphel Fell . Finally. He made a mental note to bring some masking tape in and fix the spelling error. The locker’s lock was, thankfully, set to 0000 , and he set it to 1876 , because that was when the Dewey Decimal System was first published. A bit nerdy, but hard to guess. It wasn’t as if he had anything worth stealing.

Aziraphale clicked open the locker. The previous owner had written "M ♡ G" on the wall in a messy scrawl that he thought fit quite well to locker vandalization. He slid his book, along with a notebook and a folder, into the locker. Aziraphale fished his schedule from his pocket and checked the times.

Hm. Homeroom was room 3A, which would probably be difficult to find, but it started in ten minutes so he had ample time to anxiously ask somebody for directions. “Clubs,” he muttered to himself, reading aloud the first period of the day.

Fabulous. He’d probably missed that, too, which meant he’d be shuffled into some horrendous lecture-like class with all the outcasts. Or something he’d be no good at. Like art.

“Hey!”

Aziraphale tried to scrunch himself into his locker to avoid being seen. They couldn’t be saying hi to him , could they? Hopefully not. Drawing attention was, in his experience, not a good idea.

“I said hi.”

Maybe they were talking to him.

“Hi?” said Azirphale to M ♡ G. It was easier than turning around. His voice echoed slightly in the small metal space.

“Finally. I thought you were ignoring me. Or hard of hearing.”

Aziraphale turned around. The person who’d decided to single him out was Latina, female-shaped, with fashionably thick-framed round glasses, a calf-length skirt in deep purple, and a friendly smile. “I’m Anathema Device,” she said. She stuck out a hand.

Anathema? There was no way this couldn’t be some kind of omen . “Nice to meet you,” said Aziraphale after a slight pause. He shook the hand. It was fairly hand-like. “Anathema?” he asked, unable to simply leave the word hanging there.

“You noticed. Most people don’t.” She sounded somewhat pleased that he knew what her name meant. “My mom didn’t really know what it meant when she named me.”

Anathema: something that someone dislikes strongly. Or a curse by the Church. Aziraphale tried to remember the dictionary definition. He’d been fascinated by the word, ages ago, after coming across it in an old book. “It’s quirky,” he said, trying to find a better compliment.

That one seemed to do fine by Anathema. She hoisted her violet backpack against her shoulder, and snuck a look at Aziraphale’s schedule. “3A? My boyfriend’s in 3A. Newton Pulsifer. I don’t know where he is right now… but I can take you, I guess.”
Aziraphale nodded, gratefully. “I would like that.”

---

Newton Pulsifer turned out to be the exact opposite of Anathema. Where Anathema was bold, confident, and proud, Newton was nervous, confused, and decidedly ashamed of his entire self. He had messy hair that Aziraphale thought a comb would balk from, a flip phone, pale white skin, and glasses that were taped together with about an inch of masking tape.

Aziraphale felt fairly comforted by somebody even more nervous than he was, though, and they quickly struck up a conversation. He filed away the information in case he had to tell his dad later. Newton wanted to be a computer engineer, although he was worried he wouldn’t be much good at it. He’d gone to Terreville since freshman year and planned to graduate next year from Terreville as well. He was in newspaper, which Anathema was apparently the Editor-in-Chief of.

Aziraphale listened to him talk, answering question after question that he hadn’t even asked, except for the one question that was actually floating in his head. How does somebody like Newton date somebody like Anathema? Aziraphale hoped it was something like this school is open to new opportunities! instead of we were childhood friends.

It seemed like a rude question to ask, though, so it stayed in Aziraphale’s mind until the end of Homeroom.

Aziraphale had another oddity of Terreville to add to his list. (Currently, the list was: the tape on the lockers, the weird students, and the fact that first period was clubs ).

The bells were all broken, and so when every period was over, there would be a ringing noise over the intercom. But not a regular school-bell ringing that was less of a bell and more of a loud sound. It was an old-fashioned dinner bell, so every forty minutes, the students heard the tolling of an iron bell recorded from some English castle. Or so Aziraphale assumed.

“My schedule says clubs,” said Aziraphale to Newton as the homeroom students flooded towards the door. “Sorry!” he said to a pink-haired teen as he shouldered past them. “Sorry. Sorry!”

“Oh my God, shut up, dude!” shouted a boy wearing a mock basketball jersey. He had pasty white skin, and he was a few inches taller than Aziraphale. His hair was a flop of shocking white, even blonder than Aziraphale himself, and his eyes were the deep, unending brown of a wet, rotting stump.

Aziraphale started to apologize, but realized that probably wasn’t the best idea. Newton grabbed him by the arm and pulled him out the door.

“That guy is kind of creepy,” Aziraphale admitted, his face warm.

“Chris Hastur,” said Newton helpfully. “He’s… a character. I’ll see you in the news room?”

“I guess?” Aziraphale didn’t really have any intention of joining the news staff. He wasn’t really a journalist. You had to be semi-brave to be a journalist, and Aziraphale got nervous just talking to people he didn’t know.

Newton walked off.

---

Aziraphale was beginning to realize he should have asked Newton which room was the news room. He should have asked any of the students shoving past him, or giggling with each other, or comparing Spanish homework.

But now it was too late, because the hallways were almost completely empty and he was probably about to be asked if he had a hall pass.

Ask the next person you see. Ask the next person you see. Ask… Aziraphale walked straight into somebody.

“Hey, watch it!” he said. He was a long, lanky boy, who looked about the same age as Aziraphale. Vintage sunglasses rested on his nose, and ginger hair was short on his forehead.

“I’m so sorry. So sorry.” Aziraphale laughed awkwardly. “I can’t… I mean, do you… do you know where the newspaper is?”

“The newpaper?” Aziraphale had the impression that the boy was squinting at him behind his sunglasses.

Aziraphale nodded.

The boy pointed. “Turn left. First door on your right. I don’t know why you’d wanna join, but have a blast.” He said it dryly, as if he didn’t really care whether or not Aziraphale really had a blast.

“Thank you.” Azirphale rushed away without thinking about asking his name.

---

The news room was busy and loud. There were only about fifteen other people on the staff (Anathema and Newton included) but apparently fifteen people can make a lot of noise when they’re stressed and excited.

“Hey! You made it!” said Anathema, walking away from a girl in a headscarf writing fervently on a clunky Chromebook. She waved. “Everybody, this is Azirphale…”

“Aziraphale Fell,” he muttered, sure he was going bright red. He tried to smile. “Hello. Everybody.”

He spotted Newton, writing on a piece of paper longhand, and somebody next to him who had paused shouting at a computer long enough to smile brightly at Aziraphale.

There was a chorus of “hi”s before Anathema snapped at everybody to go back to work. She turned to him. “Do you know anything about sports?”

“Sports?” he repeated, hoping he’d misheard her.

“Yeah. Our sports editor has caught the flu and won’t be able to attend school for another few days, and then he’s going to Scotland for a week … we just need somebody to do a beginning of the year profile.” Anathema handed him a piece of paper with a long list on it. “These are the articles we’re working on. Euan is the missing editor, could you take his stuff? Only one is due for this edition.”

“Um.” Aziraphale didn’t have the good sense to interrupt. “I…”

“Have you ever been on a newspaper staff before? You won’t have to be in charge of a beat. We did those assignments last week. If you want, you can do one next edition.”

Anathema pointed at the paper. “Those are the articles we’re working on. Some of them we’ll run next edition. Some of them our staff will need longer to work on, so they’ll be the edition after next, or the edition after that. Got it?”

“Sort of.” Aziraphale scanned the paper for Euan and found a disturbing number of articles next to his name. Sports profile. Demons game. Town football. Were they all sports? “I don’t have to do all of these?”

“All of Euan’s? No. Just the profiles, then we’ll assign you something else. All you have to do is go to the Demons practice - that’s our team, the Terreville Demons - and interview the players for stats.”

“...stats?” Aziraphale said, struggling to keep up.

“How long they’ve been on the team, if they’ve ever been on another team, their position. If you want, you can get statements from some of them.” Anathema started walking around the room and waved for Aziraphale to follow.

“Stats,” he said again. Hopefully this wouldn’t be a trend.

Anathema smiled sunnily. “You got it!”

---

The Demons’ practices were Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, according to the schedule up on the newsroom corkboard. Aziraphale asked Huda, the girl in the hijab that Anathema had been talking with earlier, and she suggested he go to the closest practice from today.

Today was Monday. Which meant this afternoon.

Aziraphale wrung his hands like a maiden in a nineteenth-century romance novel and looked at his small notepad. Stats, it said across the top in Aziraphale’s neat script. He had two handwritings: this one and his note-taking handwriting, which was closer to his mom’s hurried all-caps print.

It was 3:30, and practice started at 3:35, so players were appearing on the field. The sky was cloaked with grey clouds and humidity hung in the air, but the potential rainstorm didn’t seem to discourage their warm-up sprints and chatting.

Aziraphale continued his Jane Eyre impersonation by the bleachers, hoping simultaneously that somebody would talk to him and that nobody would notice him at all.

The first hope had won out, it seemed, because Christopher Hastur was headed straight towards him with another player, who was slightly shorter than Christopher but more strongly built.

“Hey,” said Christopher. Aziraphale could almost hear him say nerd at the end, as if they were trapped in an early-2000s rom-com.

“Hey,” said Aziraphale.

“Chris,” said Christopher, but thankfully neglected to hold out his hand for a handshake. His hands looked oily.

“Aziraphale.”

Chris snorted. “Az-eye-raff-ell? What kind of name is that?”

“You’re mispronouncing it, actually,” said Aziraphale under his breath. “Uh, can I ask you a few questions?”

“Whatever, Raff,” said the other boy, who had yet to introduce himself.

Raff? Aziraphale held up his notepad and wrote Chris Hastur in it. “Er, what’s your name?”

“Cedric. Cedric Ligur.”

He wrote Cedric Ligur and asked the questions that Anathema had requested. Cedric and Chris answered them with matching sneers beginning to tug at the corners of their mouths. Aziraphale moved away as soon as he could.

He interviewed, with a shaking smile, Demon after Demon: one named Beelz and one named Sayt, one with bright green socks and one with long blond hair.

Finally, a coach blew his whistle and they jogged into place to play a game.

Nobody sat on the bleacher closest to him, so he scrambled up and took notes on the game they were starting to play. Soccer. Aziraphale was strangely pleased when he saw the ginger boy from earlier. At least one familiar face that had been semi-nice to him.

Only a few minutes into the game, a short kid started yelling at the ginger boy. He hadn’t even told Aziraphale his name, but Aziraphale felt badly for him anyway.

He walked towards the bleacher and sat down by himself. Aziraphale considered getting up and walking over to him. Maybe he was the friend Aziraphale had been hoping for?

No. Aziraphale had Newton and Anathema, and Huda and all the other news staff now. He didn’t need some jerk on the soccer team.

But the profiles…

Aziraphale told himself it was all for the profiles as he stood up and stepped over to where the ginger boy was sitting. Not about how that red hair wasn’t leaving Aziraphale’s mind, or how his smirk left a strange flutter in Aziraphale’s chest.

Aziraphale thought about introducing himself, then the boy turned his head. He hadn’t noticed Aziraphale yet, because he was watching the game with a vaguely forlorn look, but that wasn’t what took Aziraphale aback.

It was his eyes . He wasn’t wearing sunglasses now, probably because they were likely to fall off his face while he ran around in soccer practice. They were utterly breathtaking in the sun, which was starting to consider setting, somewhat early because it was nearly proper autumn. At first, Aziraphale thought they might be hazel, but no - they looked almost yellow , as if he was really some kind of reptile in disguise.

The boy turned his head and Aziraphale jumped. He’s cute. Without the sunglasses hiding his face, his sharp cheekbones and almost delicate jawline accentuated his tawny eyes. Aziraphale thought about the umbrella in his backpack as the humidity tried to force itself into his chest.

“Take a picture.”

“What?”

The boy ran a hand through his ginger hair. He had nice hands, too - slim bones and long fingers. “Take a picture. It lasts longer.”

“Oh.” Aziraphale blushed. So he’d noticed Aziraphale staring.

“Crowley.”

Aziraphale raised an eyebrow. “What?”

He sighed sharply and flung his finger at himself. “ Crowley. My name is Crowley. Yo me llamo Crowley. Je m’appelle Crowley.”

“Yeah! Crowley. Sorry.” Aziraphale liked the sound of his name in his mouth: Crowley. “Crowley,” he said again.

“Your name too?”

“No! No, Aziraphale. That’s my name. They’re calling me Raff, for some reason… like Aziraffale. Most people call me Az.”

“I thought you said your name was Aziraphale,” said Crowley.

Aziraphale nodded.

“Then I’ll call you Aziraphale.” Crowley looked like he’d just uncovered the obvious solution. If only everybody else thought the same way.

Aziraphale nodded again, this time with gratitude.

“It was my mom’s name.”

“What?” Aziraphale looked over to the soccer players. One of them had fallen to the ground.

“Crowley. Her maiden name. She died when I was little. My dad is… weird. So I’m Crowley.”

“Your first name?”

Crowley shrugged. “Far as I know, yeah.”

“Mine is from a book. Not even like, an old book. My dad sells old books,” Aziraphale added as way of explanation. “This nineties fantasy book by a guy Dad used to like. Aziraphale was an angel. In the book.”

“Our newspaper is the Angelic Times.”

Aziraphale remembered hearing that from Huda when they’d been talking. “Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah.”

Crowley rested his heels on the bench in front of them. “Yeah?” he said, slightly amused.

“Yeah… I have to go.” Aziraphale said, standing up suddenly. Crowley was messing with his head. He was so cute, and Aziraphale just wanted to keep his head down, for the time being. It wasn’t as if Crowley was even in his league - Aziraphale was a journalist, for Heavens’ sake, an awkward, anxious journalist in the same social circles as Newton Pulsifer. And Crowley was a soccer player, a jock, who was confident enough to grin and tell Aziraphale the story of his name.

Aziraphale didn’t like the feelings bubbling up in his chest, but if he ignored them, they would go away. He grabbed his backpack from the edge of the field, stuffed his pen and pad in the front pocket, and walked home.

Chapter Text

Crowley had been part of the soccer team since the beginning. Freshman year to be exact. His best friends, Hastur and Ligur, had signed up immediately so of course Crowley had to go along with them. This is not to say that he was particularly good at the sport. He wasn't. But the school was not very big and they had to let in everyone who tried out just to get a team together. Crowley usually sat on the bench for most of the game anyway. He had practice tonight, but at the moment he was waiting for the bus to take him to school. Hastur ran up next to him.

"Hey Crowman, what's up?" he gave Crowley a fist bump. "Ready for practice tonight?"

“Uh yeah, I am.” The bus rolled in front of them and let out a hiss as it stopped. The doors opened and the old bus driver gestured for them to get inside. Crowley began to walk on, but Hastur grabbed his arm to stop him. "Hey, let's skip today. I got a new video game I wanted to show you."

"What? No! Get... off." Crowley shook Hastur's arm from his. "I'm not skipping." he turned away and boarded the bus. The door shut behind him and he felt badly. Had he ruined his friendship with Hastur? No, that wouldn't make sense. Would he even come to practice? Yes, of course. Soccer was that boy's life. Crowley sighed and walked to his seat. Sure isn't mine, he thought. Ligur was in their regular spot, so Crowley sat beside him.

"Where's Hastur?" he asked.

“Oh er...” Crowley dumped his black backpack on the floor. “He’s skipping.”

“Oh.” Ligur frowned. Crowley wondered if Ligur would have taken up the offer himself. Or if he hoped Hastur had asked him. He turned so Crowley could see his amber eyes.

“Do you think he’ll be back for practice?”

“Yeah, sure.” Crowley pulled out his sunglasses from his backpack. They were black and mirrored, so nobody could see his eyes. They were a light shade of hazel that looked tawny (in some lights, yellow) and people tended to make fun of them. Even his supposed best friends. He relaxed when he put them back on and laid back in his seat for the rest of the bumpy ride.

Crowley hadn’t realized he had fallen asleep until Ligur shook him awake. “Hey man, get up. Everyone’s left.”

“What? Oh sorry.” Crowley rubbed his eyes from behind his glasses and stood up. “I’m coming.” Ligur smirked and left the bus. Crowley grabbed his bag and rushed to meet up with him. To his surprise, Hastur was waiting outside, grumbling. Crowley gave a little wave.

“You didn’t skip then?” he asked.

“No. My mom drove me here. She said I couldn’t just stay home and play video games on a school day.”

“Right,” was all Crowley said as he walked inside. He sighed. What he wouldn’t give for his own mom to drive him to school, or help him with his homework. At the moment, Crowley wouldn’t have even minded a hug from her. He shook his head as we walked to his locker. Some people called his walk more of a “saunter” than an actual straight forward “walk.” Some people thought it made him look stupid, but others thought he looked sexy while doing it so he kept the stride. Crowley reached his locker and turned his combination. 4-0-0-4. It was easy to remember. It was the day his mom had died. April 4th, but with an extra “0” in the middle to zero-out the pain that came with it. He checked his schedule. Clubs was first, so that meant soccer. He sighed, grabbed his books, and shut his locker. He checked his phone to see the time. 5 minutes, oof not much left. He turned around and went in the general direction of the field. There was almost no one in the hallway, so he started to run. Just as he was to the door however, he ran into a slightly chubby blonde kid.

“I’m so sorry. So sorry.” the kid turned around so Crowley got a good look at him. He stared through his glasses. The kid’s eyes were a lovely color of hazel and his hair was in these adorable curls that made Crowle gape. a bit. He shut his mouth before the kid noticed. Crowley was vaguely aware the kid was talking, so he listened. “…where the newspaper is?”

“The newspaper? Uhh...” Crowley knew this one, and he pointed in its general direction. “Turn left. First door on your right.” Argh, this guy is so cute. I should ask his name… Crowley thought. But then he realized he needed to act way cooler. People on the soccer team don’t know where the newspaper club is. Even if that certain person had longed to join it ever since they came to this godforsaken school. “I don’t know why you’d wanna join, but have a blast.” He said. That should do it.

“Thank you.” the kid ran away and Crowley shrugged. He checked his phone again. Two minutes to go. Crowley ran too, as fast as possible, which was Very Fast.

---

At practice, Crowley watched as the kid -- Aziraphale, that was his name -- run off with his cute curls and notepad… he shook the ideas from his head as he saw Hastur and Ligur run up to him.

“Hey, uh Captain Bee needs you Crowley.” Ligur pointed to said captain.

“What’s she need me for?” he asked.

“Just go.” Hastur rolled his startlingly dark eyes and strutted off. Crowley sighed and got up. He jogged over to the captain.

“What’s up, Bee?” Crowley asked.

“Oh, yes.” She glanced down at the clipboard she was holding. “Crowley, hullo.” she looked up at him with narrowed eyes. “Saw you with the angel.”

“I’m sorry, the what?” Crowley was confused. Bee thought he was an angel? Mhm. That might make a nice nickname…

“The angel. Our enemy, Crowley. He’s on the newspaper club. The Angelic Times?

“Oh, right, right, yes, of course.” Crowley nodded along. “Mhm. Dreadful… angel.. Enemy. Yeah.”

“There’s only enough funding for one of us this year. We have to let the school know the ‘Angelic Times’ isn't good enough anymore. If they can’t get stories on us, they won’t be needed. So don’t tell them any more, do you understand?”

“Of course, Captain Bee.”

“Good. Off you go then. Practice is over.” Crowley nodded and jogged off to grab his stuff.

---

Crowley slammed his bedroom door shut and curled up in a few blankets. Thiscannotbehappeningthiscannotbehappeningthiscannotbehappening. He stared across the room to his snake Anthony’s tank. He stared at him and Anthony stared back until Crowley just screamed and wrapped himself tighter in the blankets. I can’t like a guy, he thought. I can’t. I had a girlfriend, Eden, I can’t be gay. Nononono Dad’s going to kill me. As hard as Crowley tried to block out the thoughts of Aziraphale’s sweater vest and curls and kindness and all the other lovely things about him they just seeped through the gaps in his mind.

“Argh this is no good.” he grumbled to himself. He threw off his covers and headed back over to Anthony’s tank. He carefully undid the lid and took the snake out. He carried him over to his bed. Anthony wrapped himself around Crowley. He put on his headphones and heard Another One Bites the Dust through his ears. These two things together always made Crowley feel much better. But what was he going to say to his dad? Francis Ashtoreth was a huge homophobe, and he didn’t exactly have a soft spot for Crowley as it was. Crowley ran a finger along Anthony tenderly. Maybe it really would be alright.

His reassured thoughts were interrupted by a brief vision of Aziraphale kissing him. Crowley screamed again.

“Crowley Ashtoreth, come down here now.” he heard his father yell from downstairs. Aah what does he want? Does he know? Crowley gulped and unwinded himself from Anthony. He set the snake in his terrarium and he took of his headphones. Crowley rushed down the steps to find his father waiting at the table with his hands folded neatly.

“Sit.” Crowley sat.

“What’s wrong dad?” he asked. “Did I, er, do something?”

“No no, you haven’t.” Crowley breathed a sigh of relief. He wasn’t in trouble. “Yet.” Oh. “Rumor has it that they’re cutting the funding and will be getting rid of one of the clubs. The two they have their eye on are--”

“Soccer and newspaper, yeah I know.” Crowley bit his lip. “Captain Bee told me today.”

“It’s one or the other Crowley, they’re going to have to pick. Your job is to make sure soccer stays in session, and don’t let petty little newspaper club take over, can you do that for me?” Crowley nodded solemnly.

“‘Course Dad. I’ll make sure we stay.”

“Good. Off you go then.”

Chapter Text

Aziraphale knew he was tired when he started forgetting commas. Aziraphale loved commas. He loved grammar in general, an infatuation that his father had also passed along to him.

The apartment above Metra Fell’s bookstore was not large. Dad kept saying they would find somewhere more fitting for their current situation, but they never had.

There was a foyer that doubled as a living room above the stairs from the bookshop, which lead into a hallway with three rooms stemming off from it. The bathroom, with a laundry machine and a dryer in the corner; Dad’s room, with its bookshelves so close together they hid the walls; and Aziraphale’s room, which he was sitting in at the moment.

Against the corner of the room, there was an old desk with a creamy white lamp on it that cast a soft circle of light across the desk and Aziraphale’s old Mac. Aziraphale had written up all the profiles of the soccer players, save one.

Crowley (last name???)
Age: 16???
Has been playing since: Probably forever, with the way he runs.
Fun fact: Absolutely beautiful. Have you ever wanted anything you can’t have? I swear he has yellow snake eyes.

Aziraphale deleted most of it and typed in something else.

Crowley (last name???)
Age: 16???
Has been playing since: Does it really matter??
Fun fact: Probably an asshole. Either way, friends with assholes. Not very nice to strangers in the hallway asking for directions.

Aziraphale stared at the updated profile. Anathema probably wouldn’t like it. He selected it from Crowley to directions and pressed delete again.

Yesterday, Anathema had given him her phone number, and he typed it into the Messages app on his computer now.

angelreporter: Hello Anathema! It’s aziraphale. I may have forgotten one of the players’ interviews?

He closed his eyes and sent it.

In a few seconds, the computer binged and he checked his texts.

lasttruewitch: everybody makes mistakes!! who was it, i have most of their numbers

angelreporter: Crowley.

lasttruewitch: 👀

angelreporter: What??

lasttruewitch: idk… you seemed kinda flustered by him today

Aziraphale jumped and looked around. Had Anathema sent a spy after him to make sure he was doing his job?

angelreporter: How do you know???

lasttruewitch: i have the players numbers remember

angelreporter: Oh yeah.

Aziraphale felt foolish. He clicked over to his profiles document and sighed at the empty space.

angelreporter: Whatever. I don’t like him or anything.

lasttruewitch: its none of my business. i’ll share the contact w/ you.

angelreporter: Thanks!!

Aziraphale spent a long while looking at the doc before another ding sounded across the room. Contact: Crowley Ashtoreth 😈

Aziraphale saved the contact to his computer and then his phone, and then he hovered his cursor over Send message.

Hey, pretty boy, he typed, giggling. He would never send anything that forward, but it was funny to think of a reality where he would. He would definitely have a boyfriend by now.

Aziraphale had grown up in NYC, which was overall pretty liberal and Democratic. His dad had never cared that Aziraphale was gay, and when he finally came out to his mom, she was too busy campaigning for Congress to say much anyway. She supported him after she lost, so it didn’t matter either way.

Aziraphale had always wondered if she was mad at him for it. As if his queerness was somehow attached to her loss. He had been thirteen, and ridden with guilt. He had somehow distracted her. If he hadn’t said anything, she’d have won the election.

Of course, that wasn’t true, and she’d told him as much on her visit to the city.

It was probably an unhealthy thing to hang on to, but Aziraphale always felt weird around her whenever he thought about her campaign.

He deleted the message, a blush flaring in his cheeks as he thought about the possibility of accidentally sending it. Instead, he composed a better text:

angelreporter: Hi Crowley! It’s Aziraphale. I meant to interview you yesterday but I’m a new student and I was a bit overwhelmed - can we reschedule?

Send message.

He responded fairly quickly, especially considering it was around midnight.

snazzysnek: Aziraphale. i’ll save ur number i guess.

Aziraphale wondered what he’d saved it as.

angelreporter: Thanks! About the interview…

snazzysnek: srry, too busy atm, maybe next month.

Next month? The first edition of the newspaper was definitely going to be out by next month. Why did cute boys never like him?

Another notification on his computer. Aziraphale’s heart stopped. Had Crowley changed his mind?

No, it was Anathema, on the new Angelic Times group chat he’d just been invited to.

lasttruewitch: Hey guys. Sorry for the long message. I just got an email from Principal McDormand - the club funding has gone down. Way down.

Aziraphale’s breath felt like it had left his lungs with four simple sentences.

lasttruewitch: This means that one of the clubs will have to be removed. Now it might be something like comics or robotics seminar, but they don’t use a lot of money.

Aziraphale closed his eyes before continuing to read. This couldn’t be happening. This couldn’t be happening.

lasttruewitch: Soccer, on the other hand, uses the school’s funds for jerseys, waterbottles, you name it. And newspaper uses a lot of the school’s material. It’s basically us or them.

Us or them. Aziraphale remembered Crowley’s tawny eyes. Then he remembered Huda typing away at her computer.

Us or them.

lasttruewitch: I know this is really upsetting, but just remember - good always wins over evil. And the Angelic Times will triumph over the Demons.

Aziraphale closed his computer.

Aziraphale was going to be late for math class if he didn’t hurry up. But it was hard to hurry up when there were knots of students clogging the hallways, chattering about the new club funding cuts. “I wonder if we’re going to be okay…” “Those experimental math kids are waaay better than us, if it comes down to it they’ll take us out.” “Of course we’re not being considered! Right?”

Aziraphale apologized his way past a few students talking about Amateur Magic and finally, finally, made his way to the math classroom.

Ms. Maxwell-Martin gave a stern but very tired look at Aziraphale. “You’re very close to being late, Mr. Fell.”

Aziraphale murmured an I’m sorry but Ms. Maxwell-Martin didn’t seem to care all that much. She pointed to a table. “Sit there.”

“Hannah’s my lab partner, not…” Aziraphale caught the eyes of the person sitting at the table instead of Hannah. Oh. “Not Crowley.”

Ms. Maxwell-Martin shrugged. “I changed it up. Miss Hawkes is now taking physics, so you need a new person to sit with. Mr. Ashtoreth’s partner is no longer in our class, either, so I thought it would be a good match.”

Aziraphale sat down next to Crowley. Us or them.

Crowley shot a side-eye at him. “Hey, angel.” It sounded like an insult from his perfect lips. Wait, no, not perfect. What?

“Hey, Demon,” Aziraphale responded. It didn’t have the backhanded insult energy that Crowley’s name did. What was the Victorian-era pet name that Dad called everybody who he got angry at?

“Pass the pencils?” There was one tin of pencils on their tables. They were a bit too juvenile for a high school math classroom. Flames were printed along the erasers, licking their way towards the pencil graphite.

Ah. There it was. Aziraphale knew exactly what he was going to call Crowley.

“Of course. Dear.”

Chapter Text

Crowley was sitting in math class, daydreaming as he usually did, even before Aziraphale came into his life. But he shot back to reality when Aziraphale himself walked in the room. Of course, this was always inevitable, they were in the same class, after all. But then he started walking towards the seat next to Crowley. He had a small panic attack when Aziraphale actually sat down next to him. Aah! I should say something. Ack what was that nickname I heard Bee say? “Hey angel.” Oof. That had come out a bit harsher than he had intended. He would have to work on it.

“Hey, Demon.” Crowley found it quite amusing Aziraphale attempted to sound as menacing as he had. It hadn’t succeeded, of course. Crowley didn’t think anything cruel could come out of Aziraphale’s mouth. In fact… no, stop it. Crowley chided himself. Don’t think about those things. “Erm...” Just say something you idiot! “Pass the pencils?” He gestured to the flame-licked utensils. Then Aziraphale made this sly face that sent a chill up Crowley’s back.

“Of course. Dear.” Crowley blushed harder than a ripe apple. Dear? Why on earth would he call me Dear? That’s not right! What does this mean? He raised his hand. “Ms. Maxwell-Martin, may I go to the restroom please?”

Ms. Maxwell-Martin gestured vaguely. “Yes, hurry up.” Crowley got up and ran as fast as he could. He passed Aziraphale’s surprised expression by, and vaguely registered that Bennie had asked to be excused as well. They met in the hallway.

“Crowley what’s the matter?” She asked. Her 20s style hairdo bobbed up and down as she jogged towards him. She always wore black, but not in a goth, emo way like Crowley did. She wore black to look fancy, often opting for the occasional suit or dress, depending on her mood.

“What, oh um...” Crowley scratched the back of his neck and blushed harder.

“Nothing I just… um… couldn’t breathe? And it made my face red maybe umm...” ah, she wasn’t going to believe him anyway. There was no point.

“Ohmigod Crowley are you crushing on someone again?”

“No? I mean yes? I mean maybe?”

“Eee yes you are! I knew it!” Bennie jumped up and down excitedly. “Who is it? Deirdre? Harriet?” She elbowed him slyly. “Hastur...”

“What! No I would never… um…. I’m not--”

“Mhm. Haven’t you heard the rumors?” Bennie tilted her head inquisitive. Crowley had not heard any rumors, about himself or otherwise. He didn’t think it was a very good thing to be a part of.

“No… what are they?” Did he really want to hear this? Probably not.

“Well,” Bennie leaned in and lowered her voice. “Some people are saying that you’re…. Well that you’re bi.” Crowley was confused. He hadn’t heard the term before, much less knew what it meant.

“You know… that you like girls and boys.” Bennie added helpfully. Oh. Oh! That’s it! He wasn’t gay. That was a relief. But this didn’t sound much better when Crowley thought of explaining it to his dad. Or Bennie for that matter. He tried to play it smooth.

“No, I’m not bi or anything. Just uh...” Crowley gestured to his whole body. “Just me, as usual.”

“Oh, alright then.” Bennie smiled at him. “Be what you want, yeah? I don’t have a problem with it.”

“Yeah, right sure.”

“So who’s your crush Crowley?” she implored. Ack, he needed to give a reasonable excuse… or just say someone else. Anyone else.

“Eden.” he blurted. “I am crushing. Er, again. On Eden Sylva.” Bennie clapped her hands together.

“Ooh yes I knew you two’d get back together! You were such a cute couple.”

“Mhm, yeah, adorable. Us. Uh, we better get back to class...”

“Oh, yes of course! Race you!” Bennie darted away before Crowley had a chance to object. He groaned and ran after her.

---

“Ooh wonderful, you’re back!” Aziraphale said. Crowley noticed there were only two of the childish, but admittedly cool pencils left.

“Um, didn’t we have more before?” he asked as he sat back down. He made sure to scoot his chair as far away from Aziraphale as possible.

“Mhm?” Aziraphale looked up from his worksheet. “Oh, yes we did. I gave the rest to Adam and his friends over there.” He pointed to the small group of unpopular kids sitting in the corner desks. “They didn’t have any, so I did the right thing.” Aziraphale studied Crowley’s face. “At least, I hope I did. Don’t be mad.” Crowley shrugged his shoulders and focused back on the worksheet. Or at least appeared to. In reality he was still staring at Aziraphale from behind the glasses. He smiled softly to himself. Aziraphale really was just that Good, wasn’t he?

“I don’t mind.” he finally said.

Well shit. Crowley thought. I really am in love with this angel then, aren’t I? He side-eyed Aziraphale again. His face was lit up with absolute joy for solving those stupid equations. Ugh how can this be happening to me? Crowley put his head in his hands. I should have stayed with Eden. She was always a jerk but she was a girl at least. Dad liked her, everyone else liked her. It didn’t really matter if she pushed me around. Bennie said we were a cute couple. But then there was Aziraphale. Perfect, adorable, smart, sweet, amazing Aziraphale.

Crowley found himself slipping back into the daydreaming stage from before, but everything was wrapped around Aziraphale this time. He imagined himself in a pleasant forest, walking hand in hand with Aziraphale. When Dream Crowley looked away to comment on the lovely shrubbery, Aziraphale planted a kiss right on his cheek. Then they were in a dark room on a bed. Aziraphale had his arms wrapped around Dream Crowley and they were kissing passionately. Visions flashed through his head of Aziraphale being his boyfriend. They held hands in the hallway, went to soccer games and watched from the beachers. Dream Crowley was not on the soccer team anymore. He was with Aziraphale, he didn’t need his fake friends anymore. In fact, Aziraphale wasn’t in the newspaper club anymore either. Maybe they were in a whole new club. Drama, music, maybe even gardening!

Crowley’s mind drifted to himself and Aziraphale in a gardening club. They were knee deep in dirt and plants but they were laughing. Aziraphale’s soft face was lit up like a thousand stars.

Stars -- ooh, maybe astronomy club would be better. Dream Crowley and Aziraphale were on their backs looking up at the stars. Dream Crowley pointed out his favorite bit of the whole sky. Alpha Centauri. It reminded him of them, together. So close they were one. Dream Crowley turned over to look at Aziraphale and Aziraphale did the same. He pressed his lips against Aziraphale’s and they stayed for a long time under the moon and the stars. Together.

Crowley’s heart nearly broke in the wanting of this fantasy. He started shaking.

“Are you alright, dear?” Aziraphale asked. He called him dear again. Crowley’s head shot up. He studied Aziraphale’s face. He looked concerned about his table partner. I wish you were my real partner. Crowley’s brain thought. He shoved the idea deep down.

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine, angel, no problem.” Crowley realized a moment too late that any harshness from the word “angel” he had vocalized before had been completely removed.

“Oh, okay then.” Aziraphale did that thing again. That smile like he was the happiest person in the world. The smile that made Crowley’s heart ache for just one small touch… No. he thought. Stop it. Focus on the math.

So he did focus on it. Well, he focused on Aziraphale telling him about the math, but it was all the same, wasn’t it?

---

“This is a disaster.” Crowley grumbled over greasy pizza at he and Bennie’s usual booth at Wayward Corn. He bit a bit of cheese off the slice and chewed sorrowfully. “I think I’m in love again.”

“Well, that’s great!” Bennie shouted with a mouthful of food. She spread her arms out, one slice of pizza still in one hand. A few grease droplets splattered the booth. “You’ve been sulking around a lot lately. This is just what you need. Of course… she might not want to get back together yet, but I’ll give her a little push.”

“What?” Crowley was confused. “I didn’t say who--”

“Don’t worry about it, Crowley. I’ve got you.” Bennie set down her pizza and scanned the diner. Most of the high schoolers liked to hang out here after school. And there was a good chance… Shit, Crowley thought. There she was. Eden Sylva, pretty as ever. She was sitting along and eating a fruit bowl sadly. God, does she have to rub it in like that? Crowley had been the one to suggest the breakup, and Eden had not taken it well. But it had been over a month. She should have been fine by now.

“Eden, hi!” Bennie waved and smiled broadly. Eden looked up and gave a half-enthusiastic wave back. Bennie gestured for her to come over. Crowley shook his head made warning signs with his hands but immediately stopped when Eden actually slip into the seat next to him.

“Oh, Crowley I’ve missed you!” She gave him a hug. Crowley grumbled something like Yeah you too.

Bennie mouthed See, I can make this happen. Crowley gave her a sneer but she just gave him a smile.

“So how have you been, dearest?” Eden asked. Don’t call me that, Crowley thought. Aziraphale calls me dear, not you. He sighed.

“Fine I guess. Um I have to go.” Crowley got up and bolted out the doors.

“What, no! Honey, come back!” he heard her say. Needless to say, he wasn’t going to be coming back.

Chapter Text

“Do you believe in true love?” asked Aziraphale, pencil poised over paper as his subject bit her lip. Said subject was Mrs. Dowling, the practical, brunette school librarian who doubled as an unofficial counselor. (The real counselors were all sharp and unkind, and Aziraphale would never talk to them about anything).

Mrs. Dowling pursed her candy-apple red lips. “What do you mean by that, darling?”

It seemed like a pretty straightforward question, but Aziraphale clarified anyway. “You know. Having a soulmate. Or love at first sight. Or any of those storybook ideas of love.”

Mrs. Dowling picked up a collection of Mother Goose and scanned it to the computer. “That’s sort of a loaded question!” she laughed.

“Sorry,” Aziraphale said sheepishly. “Um… how would you describe love to somebody else, then?”

Mrs. Dowling put down the Mother Goose and picked up a slim purple volume. She flicked through the pages quickly, checking for damage. “It hurts,” she said finally.

That hadn’t been a question Aziraphale expected. It hurts. He remembered the pang in his chest when Crowley had said Yeah, yeah, it’s fine angel, no problem. As if angel was no longer an insult but the kind of sugary-sweet name you called your lover. The longing for that was so painful he couldn’t breathe. “You mean… when you can’t have somebody?”

“Sometimes.” Mrs. Dowling seemed to know that Aziraphale was speaking from experience. “But sometimes it’s just the nature of love. When you want somebody enough… my mom used to say that loving somebody was giving them your heart. And giving somebody a part of yourself is never easy. It has to hurt if it means anything.”

“Can you take back your heart?”

Mrs. Dowling smiled sadly. “Not always, hon. Not always.”

---

“Anathema,” said Aziraphale, catching her in the hallway after lunch. “I think I may have a problem.”

A pencil was tucked behind Anathema’s ear, and she was holding approximately a million notebooks. Aziraphale noticed that she was almost always chewing on her lip, or twisting her hair, or biting her nails. “Something so extremely important you can interrupt my planning? The first edition has to be out next Wednesday and it has to be good --”

“Yes, I’ve heard.” From you. A million times. “It’s kind of personal, actually.”

“Can it wait until we have secure funding?” Anathema’s steps quickened and Aziraphale had a suspicion she was trying to lose him.

Not so fast. He rushed after her, losing a pencil in the process. “Please, Anathema, it’s a crisis…”

“I don’t know if you’ve heard, but our newspaper is about to be shut down. I can’t handle any more crises.”

Aziraphale dodged past a blonde girl with a HydroFlask. “Please, Anathema, it’s about Crowley --”

“Ah, Crowley. Have you gotten an interview with him?”

“That’s the problem!” Aziraphale eyed the door they were passing. He was ninety percent sure it was his Spanish classroom, where he was supposed to be in about three minutes. He was going to be late, wasn’t he?

Anathema whirled around suddenly and Aziraphale almost walked straight into her. “Look. You have to get that interview by Monday, got it?”

“But --” It was Thursday today.

“Got it?”

“Anathema, I --”

Got it?” Anathema sounded more menacing than ever.

“Yep.”

---

Aziraphale scribbled his homework into his planner. Spanish - write conjugations - due next Mon. Along with his newspaper career which, if Anathema got any more stressed, might be a life-or-death assignment.

One interview. Just one interview, and Aziraphale had already screwed everything up.

Everybody around him was already gone, and the Spanish teacher was cleaning up in a way that made Aziraphale think that he should have been gone yesterday.

“Mrs. Perez?” he asked timidly.

“¿Sí?” She snatched a forgotten journal from a chair with a menace that was not usually used for cardstock and paper. “¿Sí? ¿Qué pasa?”

The school librarian said something and I’m not sure who my heart belongs to. I’m going to mess up the whole paper because messing things up is what I do. In my last school, I joined the LGBTQ club and it got shut down within a week. I think I ruined my Mom’s Congress campaign.

“Never mind. Nothing.” Aziraphale unzipped his backpack and dropped his planner in it. “See you Monday, Mrs. Perez.”

“¡Lunes!” she corrected, and he smiled to himself as he left the classroom. Rain had been splattering against the window all period, and he doubted it was about to let up, so he went to his locker before heading outside. He kept a white, feather-patterned umbrella in there for a day when he might have to walk home in the rain. Like today.

It was bad luck to open an umbrella inside, and Aziraphale already had enough bad luck to last a lifetime, so he waited until he was in the lobby to click it open. To his surprise, Crowley Ashtoreth was standing there, tapping his foot against the floor, wearing sleek black AirPods.

“What’s wrong? Don’t you have a bus?” Aziraphale said.

Crowley hummed something that sounded like his mom’s favorite song (Queen’s You’re My Best Friend) and didn’t offer another response.

“Crowley.”

Crowley slipped an AirPod out of his ear. “What is it, angel?” So he was back to insults. That was perfectly fine with Aziraphale. His heart was his own.

“Why are you in here?”

Crowley scowled and put the AirPod back in.

Crowley.” You stubborn, beautiful boy. “Are you afraid of the rain?”

“I’m not afraid of water.” Crowley took both AirPods out and paused his music on his phone. “Just. I have papers in my backpack that I can’t get all soggy.”

Aziraphale sighed in exasperation. “You should have brought an umbrella.”

“Shut up.”

Aziraphale waved him over. “Well. If they’re important papers. Where do you live? Close?”

Crowley sputtered. “You’re going to walk me home?”

“Why not? Forward.” Aziraphale felt rather bold. He was taking his heart into his own hands. It wasn’t anybody’s. They walked to the main doors of the school, and Aziraphale held one open for his - for the Demon.

“We’re enemies, you know.”

“Mm-hmm.” Aziraphale stepped outside and held his umbrella out. Crowley ducked under it, hiding himself from the thick drops of water.

 

That evening, Aziraphale read more books than he ever had in one night. He started with Jane Eyre, because its grim longing was the most relatable thing he could find. Then Pride and Prejudice, for the sake of pre-Victorian romances, and Emma for the sake of Jane Austen.

After he’d finished his romances, Aziraphale started on a biography about George Washington. And then checked the clock. Three AM.

“There has to be some way…” he said to himself. He traced a finger over a line about Virginia. “Some way to interview Crowley.”

 

Some way to not disappoint Anathema. Some way to make everything okay again. Some way not to fail.

Not that any of this was about Crowley. His little infatuation with Crowley was temporary. No, better than that - it was simply a slight attraction he just wished himself into thinking he was… that he was in love. Aziraphale had never been in love.

It would be wonderful to be in love.

But Aziraphale was not.

Chapter Text

AAAAAHHHHH Crowley screamed internally on his way out the diner. He was not going to allow Eden back into his life. She was too clingy, too mean, too everything. Crowley knew in his heart Aziraphale would never do something like that.

He skidded out into the parking lot and hid in the ally by the diner. Why was this happening to him? It was unreasonable. Maybe if Aziraphale had never come to Terreville, he could have continued a nice little relationship with Eden. But he had come, the bastard. And now Crowley had to face this crush. It was a nightmare, honestly. The longing, the secrets, it was all too much. But somewhere deep in his heart, he felt happy. He loved the little flutters his chest gave him, and he still hung tightly on to that single strand of hope. Hope that Aziraphale maybe… just maybe might love him back.

But that was impossible. They were enemies. They couldn’t be together. Just imagine the controversy. It would never work.

His negative thoughts were drowned out with the memory of Aziraphale’s frosted curls and small smiles. His kind words and sweet attitude. And when, earlier that day, he had walked him home in the rain. Crowley never liked the rain. Bad things always seemed to happen in the rain.

His mind flashed to all those years ago. He couldn’t have been more than three or four, but it had burned in his mind ever since. He was playing with his teddy in his carseat. It was raining fairly hard, but it didn’t worry little Crowley. He was going to get ice cream. He loved ice cream. But then a bloody lorry came along. Crowley hated that bloody lorry. It wasn’t an American thing to say exactly, but that is what his mom had said when it hit their car and sent it spinning to the side of the road. Luckily, Crowley’s car seat and large teddy bear had kept him alive. His mother had not been as lucky.

Tears stung at Crowley’s tawny eyes. He took his glasses off to wipe them. His mother had always loved the way his eyes caught the light and turned gold. Nobody else thought they were anything but freakish.

His mom wouldn’t have cared whether he was bi or gay or straight. She would have loved him for who he was. She would have told him Eden was not the right one. And she never would be.

Crowley put his glasses back on and stood up. He walked out of the ally. To his surprise, Eden and Bennie were there waiting for him.

“There you are!” Bennie said. “We did know were you’d gone! But guess what.”

“What.” Crowley grumbled. He just wanted to go home and wrap himself in blankets and never come out of his bedroom again.

“Eden here’s agreed to get back together! Isn’t that wonderful!” Bennie beamed. She honestly thought she was doing Crowley a favor. Crowley figures he owed it to her to plaster on the best fake smile he could muster. He even allowed his two teeth — that were a bit sharper than usual — to be seen.

“Wonderful.” He said through gritted teeth.

Eden squealed and wrapped him in another restraining hug. Then she planted a large kiss right on his lips. It didn’t feel right to Crowley. It was fake. He knew she’d become that self absorbed jerk again eventually.

He also couldn’t stop the thought running through his head wondering what if this was Aziraphale?

Then it’d be real. Then it would feel right. He just knew it.

He has to find a way to make this a reality.

Crowley, through whatever means possible had to kiss Aziraphale.

Chapter Text

There was a beat to the lunch room, Aziraphale soon learned. He’d never been any good at music, but he could understand people if he watched long enough.

Aziraphale fell into line for lunch after the soccer team and feather-white toothed popular kids. He clutched the edges of the lunch tray, looking around for a friend. Any friend. Any friend except for Crowley. He didn’t want to see Crowley. Whenever Aziraphale thought about Crowley, something not entirely disagreeable happened to his chest.

Not that Crowley was a friend, anyway.

He was relieved to spot Newton Pulsifer holding a tray himself. “Hey, Aziraphale!” Newton pushed his taped glasses farther up his nose.

“Newt!” Aziraphale dropped back a few spaces in line to talk to him. “How’s it going?”

“I heard you were crushing on Crowley Ashtoreth?”

Aziraphale stared. His grip on his lunch tray loosened and he fumbled with it, making sure he didn’t drop it. “I -- where did you hear that? I don’t have a crush on Crowley.”

“But you like guys?” Newton wedged his tray between his arm and his side. “Not that it’s a bad thing! Anathema’s bi, I mean, I’m not, you know, not okay with it or anything.”

“It’s fine! It’s fine. Yeah, I like guys. I’ve never liked girls, although many of them seem very nice. I’ve known since I was eleven.” Aziraphale wondered if Crowley liked guys at all. Maybe Crowley was straight?

No. Nobody who sauntered like that could be straight. It was a very queer saunter, in Aziraphale’s opinion.

“But it’s not like I’m in love with Crowley.”

And then. And then.

From behind him, a voice muttered, “Fa -”

 

And then a lot of things happened all at once. Aziraphale winced, waiting for the word to land, but the voice never finished the second syllable. Instead, he was cut off by a high-pitched yelp. Aziraphale and Newton turned around, Newton’s glasses slipping off his nose and bouncing once, twice, on the tiled cafeteria floor.

As Newton scrambled to collect his miraculously unbroken glasses, Aziraphale caught eyes with his savior.

She was one of Adam Young’s friends, the one who’d glared at him suspiciously when he’d gone over to their table that math class and given them the pencils. She was a good few inches shorter than him, but with the way she held himself, Aziraphlae felt like she was towering over him. The girl threw him a smirk and shook off her hand, as if it stung slightly from…

Aziraphale looked down. One of the soccer players, he couldn’t remember his name, was lying on the floor and clutching his nose. Blood trickled between his fingers. He groaned.

Aziraphale smiled at the girl. “Thanks,” he said, somewhat ashamed that she’d had to step in.

She shrugged. “He deserved it, from what I could tell. Pepper.”

“Aziraphale.” He bit his lip as he watched Newton put his glasses on upside down. “Erm, that’s Newton. He’s…”

Pepper laughed. “Got it. You’re the one who gave us the pencils earlier, right? I owed you one.”

Aziraphale performed a mock bow, feeling the best he had in days. “Consider your debt repaid, Miss Pepper. But seriously. Thanks.” His old school might have been fairly liberal, but that didn’t mean Aziraphale hadn’t heard his fair share of slurs. And every time, they hit like a sharpened flaming pencil straight to the chest. He shivered, despite the summer warmth that September was determined to hold on to.

“Don’t mention -” Pepper’s grinning response was soon cut off by an indignant girl, hand on her hips, helping the boy off the ground.

You just punched my boyfriend,” she said, shock and anger written all ovr her face. “I’m going to tell the principal.”
“Really?” said Newton, who’d finally gotten his glasses to properly sit on his nose. “From what I remember, the bullying policy says that slurs are decidedly not allowed, Amanda. And we have several eyewitnesses.”

Aziraphale flushed with gratitude. Maybe this school year wouldn’t be so awful after all.

---

After the encounter in the lunch room, Aziraphale didn’t feel very hungry. The word Amanda’s boyfriend had been about to say echoed over and over again in the back of his mind.

He tried to remember Pepper’s punch instead.

“You all right?” Newton asked, taking a bite of his mystery lasagna. “If you’re bothered by something…”

“Yeah, yeah,” Aziraphale responded dismissively. He stabbed his lasagna, but there wasn’t much feeling behind the lunch massacre. He remembered what his mom did after she divorced his dad: she ran for office. She buried herself in paperwork. “I think I’m going to get some work done. Want my lunch?”

“Not really, but I’ll take it,” said Newton, sliding Aziraphale’s tray away from him. Aziraphale slipped his backpack on and wandered the now-familiar path to the news room. It was odd how quickly he was adjusting to this place. Anathema and Newton were good friends, but not his best friends… there had to be some pinnable reason that he felt so in place here.

No. It couldn’t be. Aziraphale banished all thoughts of red-haired soccer players from his mind and pushed open the newsroom door. Nobody was inside, thankfully. He sighed as he dropped his bag onto a chair and took his computer out of it.

Crowley Ashtoreth.

Damn that uncompleted interview. Aziraphale closed his eyes, trying to dismiss the fantasies and daydreams determined to blur his reasonable thoughts into something more lovelorn. Not love, he reminded himself. Not even close.

“Climb every mountain…” sang the teachers’ desk quietly.

Aziraphale yelped. “Who is it? Who’s there?”

Somebody stood up from behind the desk. Aziraphale’s ragged breathing slowed. He was a senior, with the look of a sand grouse. There was no better way to put it. His teeth were uneven and shimmered with gold, and his hair was dark, musty brown. “Just looking for something…” he hummed.

“You are? Or is that a line from the song?” Aziraphale said, blinking a few times. Scared the life out of me, he thought, which was what his mom used to say every time he ran behind a tree and jumped out to scare her. It used to be their game, in the city.

“I was,” laughed the boy, holding up a ream of paper.

Aziraphale nodded. Something about him was off-putting. “Aziraphale,” he said by way of introduction. “I’m new.”

“Sandalphon. I’m not.”

He walked past Aziraphale, a strange glint to his eyes, muttering something very, very strange. You can’t have a war without War…

---

Aziraphale didn’t head directly home after school. Instead, he went back to the newsroom for an emergency meeting of the Angelic Times, Sandalphon’s words still nested in his brain. You can’t have a war without War…

The entire news crew was already in the classroom when Aziraphale walked in. Late, fantastic. “What’s going on?” Aziraphale said quietly to Huda, sitting down in the empty spot next to her.

“Anathema said…” Huda’s eyes unfocused from Aziraphale, instead glancing at the door. “They’re here.”

“Who’s here? This is all very ominous,” Aziraphale muttered to himself. The door to the classroom swung open and four figures strutted in.

One was tall and sturdy, a smirk carving his lips. He was classically handsome, Aziraphale thought. Stereotypically handsome, almost. But stereotypically handsome was still handsome, as Aziraphale’s stomach was reminding him.

The next was a grinning young woman (girl was definitely the wrong word) wearing a soft grey blazer. Her inch-long false golden nails sparkled in the fluorescent lights, and her matching eyeshadow glimmered. Her hair was done up at her neck, not a single strand escaping the style.

Then, a teen with a slightly softer face. Their lipstick matched the previous woman’s nails and lids, but it seemed worlds different on them, for some reason. They were wearing undiluted white, and Aziraphale wondered how they hadn’t spilled anything on their clothes. They had a charm pinned into their hair, of two dove wings, spread open as if in flight. The same design was pinned to the woman’s lapel and embroidered on the boy’s breast pocket, although Aziraphale hadn’t noticed it at first.

Lastly, finally, was Sandalphon. He shot a grin at Aziraphale. He looked, somehow, very different than he had before, in a way that was impossible for Aziraphale to pin down. Was it…? No, what a small difference. But still, at his wrist, a watch, band emblazoned with a pair of white dove wings.

Aziraphale tried to hide himself into his chair. You can’t have a war without War. But Sandalphon’s eyes met his, and they seemed to see directly into Aziraphale’s conflicted, confused, frightened soul.

“Anathema,” said the first boy, the handsome one.

Anathema stood up. She’d been sitting next to Newton, conversing nervously, and now he watched her with caution. Aziraphale had no idea what was going on. But Anathema did. Her eyes burned with rebellious fury. But when she spoke, it was only one word: “Gabriel.”

The first boy chuckled. “It’s good to see you again.”

“You know exactly how I feel about seeing you again,” Anathema hissed. Beside Aziraphale, Huda sat up a little straighter.

“What’s going on?” Aziraphale asked. As Anathema and Gabriel exchanged cooled pleasantries, Huda explained in a hushed voice. “They’re senior correspondents, technically. But Gabriel should be the Editor in Chief, if we’re going by his experience. But, editor is an elected position in the Angelic Times, and the staff liked Anathema better, even though she’s a junior.”

“So he’s pissed.”

Huda nodded. “Super pissed.”

“But what’s happening now?”

Huda shrugged. “Well, best-case scenario is he and his crew have finally finished their articles. Worst-case is that they convinced our faculty advisor that the paper will be able to stay on under a senior editor.”

“He’s kicking Anathema out,” Aziraphale realized. This couldn’t be happening.

Gabriel clapped a few times in quick succession. “Hey, angels! We’ve got an announcement to make. Michael?”

The woman folded her arms and smiled, viciously. “Miss Device, would you like to do the honors?”

“Not particularly,” Anathema said, her chin held high. “But I will so my crew doesn’t have to listen to you guys talk.”

Something broke in Aziraphale’s chest. He’d always cried too easily at movies, especially during final speeches. Where the battle was won…

“I can’t say we’ve been through a lot together.”

Or lost.

“It’s only been two short weeks. For some of you, only one week.” Anathema’s gaze landed on Aziraphale. He blinked, trying to bravely force away ridiculous tears. “Our first edition was going to be the best Terreville has ever seen. And maybe it still will be.”

Around the room, eyes closed, heads bowed.

“Maybe Gabriel and Uriel and Michael and Sandalphon will lead you all to the best newspaper the school has ever seen.” Even with her remarkably steady voice, her narrowed eyes betrayed her opinion on this idea. “Maybe you guys will be the best news crew this school has ever seen.”

It was unfair that this speech could not be accompanied by soft violins, thought Aziraphale angrily.

“But I won’t be here to see it.”

It was silly to cry in a newspaper meeting, but Aziraphale felt the tears welling up behind his eyes anyway.

“Report the truth, first, and always,” said Anathema fiercely. “Long live the Angelic Times, no matter who’s editing it.”

The newsroom murmured the sentiment back quietly. It was almost as good as violins. “Long live the Angelic Times.”

Without another word, Anathema picked up her backpack and walked out.

This couldn’t be the end, thought Aziraphale. The heavy silence around him agreed. Something else is going to happen. Something else…

And something did.

Newton rose from his chair, grasping his book bag with one hand, and solemnly followed his girlfriend out of the newsroom.

Aziraphale was stunned. This was not how it was supposed to go. Anathema gone, and these four dove-winged seniors were taking over the newspaper? Would it even matter if they won the fund battle?

Did he even want them to anymore?

“If anybody wants to leave,” said Michael. “You can go now.”

Aziraphale thought about leaving. Anathema was gone. So was Newton. But… but something in him desperately wanted to stay. Why?

No. Wait. No. Aziraphale’s blood raced, his face hot. But no matter which way he looked at it, he really, really wanted to stay in newspaper - and it was to catch another sweet moment with ginger-haired, yellow-eyed Crowley Ashtoreth.

Aziraphale didn’t leave.

Chapter Text

Crowley took off his soccer cleats after another exhausting soccer practice. He had actually managed to make a goal this time though which was nice. He took a swig out of his water bottle. The water was hot and didn’t make him feel much better. His mood worsened when Captain Beelz jogged over to the bench.

“Crowley hello.” Beelz stood with her arms crossed. She loomed over him. Crowley felt small when she did this, like he wasn’t good enough for her. Then again, he probably wasn’t.

“Hey.” Crowley dunked the rest of the water to the back of his throat. He wiped his mouth. “What’s up?”

“We saw you’ve been assigned a seat next to the enemy the other day.” How could he forget? It’s not like the “enemy” had been the only think Crowley thought about since the day he ran into him in the hallway.

“Yeah, what of it?” Crowley snarled, a cold edge to his words. “Ms. Maxwell-Martin just put me next to him. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there?”

Beelz admired her nails as Hastur and Ligur stepped from behind her. Crowley gulped. Even though they were supposedly his friends, it was still intimidating. Did they suspect anything?

“Oh, no, no nothing’s wrong.” Beelz said. Crowley relaxed a bit.

“We just want you to use this new...” Hastur searched for a word.

“Partnership.” Ligur sneered.

“Partnership.” Hastur leaned in close enough to Crowley their noses nearly touched. Crowley stared into the deep brown of his eyes. “To sabotage him.” Luckily, Crowley’s sunglasses covered his shock. He narrowed his eyebrows to repel the feelings.

“And what if I don’t?” Crowley taunted them. What could they do? Kick him off the team? That would be a welcome opportunity Crowley would take any day.

“We hope it won’t come to that.” Beelz pulled something out of her pocket and handed it to Crowley. He took it tenderly in his hands. It was just a picture. Crowley knew no real harm could truly come to him on account of one piece of laminated paper. But it was the image that sent a terrible feeling of dread through his bones. He knew how they got it. It was really a picture of him chugging a gallon of water in two minutes. But somehow Beelz had photoshopped it so it looked like he was draining a bottle of wine. There were also several unsavory items photoshopped onto the counter.

“I… didn’t do this.” Crowley shakily handed the photo back to Beelz.

“We know you didn’t.” Ligur said, crossing his arms.

“But Principal McDormand doesn’t know that.” Hastur pointed out, narrowing his eyes.

“And…” Beelz got a cruel look in her eye. She glanced at each of her wingmen before landing her view back on Crowley. He knew what was coming.

“Vice Principal Lucifer doesn’t know that.” Crowley’s heart filled with dread. Vice Principal Lucifer S. Anne was far worse than the principal ever would be. He was cruel, strict, and had absolutely zero tolerance for any rule breaking. One glance at this photo, and Crowley would be done for.

“Fine. I’ll do it. Sabotage the angel, yeah.” Crowley mumbled. His shoulders closed in and his head was low. He looked small and powerless and he hated himself for it.

“Good.” Beelz turned curtly on her heel and strutted off the field. Hastur and Ligur followed suit.

Crowley put his head in his hands. He wanted to scream. He wanted to cry. He wanted to rip off his sunglasses and tell them no. He could never sabotage the Angelic Times. Aziraphale would never forgive him. He would never love him. They could never be together, all of this was useless anyway.

Crowley angrily stuffed his cleats in his bag and stomped off the field, making sure to go the opposite direction of the other demons.

---
Crowley collapsed on his bed with a mix of exhaustion and fear coursing through him. How could he have let this happen? A text made itself known through a light vibration from Crowley’s phone. He picked it up with a sigh. The text was from Bennie.

bentleyboi: hey crowley um where are you? youre supposed to meet eden at bastille in like 5 minutes…

Oh shit that’s right the date... Crowley thought. He had completely forgotten about the arrangement.

snazzysnek: yeah sure be right there forgot sorry

Crowley ran down the steps and out the door. His dad was still at work, and he probably wouldn’t have minded where Crowley went anyway.

---
“You know, I’m glad we’re back together.” Eden commented as she took a sip of water. They were at a booth again, but this time it wasn’t just the friendly meeting Crowley enjoyed with Bennie. Eden seemed honestly convinced Crowley was back to being her boyfriend. He most definitely wasn’t.

“I was just getting so lonely without your company, Crowley.” she leaned in and put her hands over his. “And your kisses.” she pecked him lightly on the cheek. Crowley let out a little groan he hoped she didn’t hear.

“Yeah, missed you too, E.” Crowley picked up a large hamburger and bit into it, hoping he could chew it long enough so he wouldn’t have to be involved in too much conversation.

“So how’s soccer been? I went to every one of your games this summer. You were amazing! When’s your first game this season?”

“Friday.” Crowley said with his mouth full of food. Eden hated that, so she probably wouldn’t ask him any more until he swallowed.

“Oh, fantastic! I will most certainly attend.” Eden poked at her salad and ate it. It was obnoxiously dainty. Like she was pretending she was a queen other than just enjoying the meal.

Without realizing it at first, Crowley had finished his hamburger long before Eden was halfway through her salad. He had always been a fast eater, and he had meant to save this one. Now he was stuck watching her eat and his one excuse to not talk was gone.

“Ooh, do you think we could hold hands again in school? I really do miss that.” Eden wiped the grease off Crowley’s hands with her napkin and grabbed them again. “Damien was just so jealous and he really deserved that, you know?”

“Um yeah.” Crowley shook his hands away from Eden’s grip. Now was a better time than ever to tell her. “Look Eden… I...” he glanced at her eyes. They were wide and innocent. Veering on the edge of puppy dog eyes, in fact. Crowley cringed as he said it. “I don’t want to be your boyfriend again.”

“What?” Oh god, she looked absolutely miserable. He shouldn’t have said anything. He shouldn’t have said anything. “Crowley, I thought you loved me! How could you!” She stood up with a huff. Her chin was twitching and her sad eyes welled up. “I’m leaving!” she left her salad -- and the bill -- on the table and left. Crowley slumped in his seat. This was definitely the wrong thing to have done.

But then again…

The feelings crept back into Crowley’s mind. If there was no more weight to hold from Eden… he could be free. Free to love someone else. Anyone else.

He could love Aziraphale.

Crowley took out his phone from his pocket and opened the messaging app. Yes, he still had the contact from Monday. He started the message.

snazzysnek: er hey angel
snazzysnek: its me
snazzysnek: crowley
snazzysnek: from the soccer team
snazzysnek: so yeah
snazzysnek: hi

Crowley stared at his messages. There was nothing sadder than a string of texts all alone. But he needed to get Aziraphale to know him, really know him. Crowley willed Aziraphale to respond. He was probably busy with homework or newspaper or something that was decidedly not responding to Crowley’s texts.

Five minutes later, the waiter had taken back the bill and Crowley was still sitting at the table, alone. Just like his texts. He heaved a sigh and started the walk home.

---
Crowley’s dad caught him when he tried to turn up the thermostat. He hated it when it was cold, so he had attempted a more comfortable environment for himself. Unfortunately, his dad liked the house to practically be an icebox.

“Hey! Go back to your room, it’s past bedtime for you.” his dad said from the couch. He was proably watching some stupid show he wouldn’t enjoy. Crowley sneered with one finger over the button. He slumped back to his bedroom in defeat.

Under the covers, Crowley pulled out his phone again. No texts. Aziraphale had contacted him last time at midnight, so he was one that single strand of hope. He turned on the video app and selected The Good Place. It was his favorite show, so he figured it might make him feel better to some degree.

Hours later, he was debating whether to stop watching or move on to the next season. His brief debate was interrupted by a small buzz and a banner notification. It may not have been much, but to Crowley it was nothing short of a miracle.

Aziraphale had texted back.

Chapter Text

Aziraphale was nothing short of absolutely stunned when his phone binged. He’d been alphabetizing Dad’s new stock for the better part of the day, and when he heard the notification, he ignored it. Aziraphale told himself it was because he was busy and didn’t want to be distracted. What if he put a Dickens book in the G section? His father would probably lose all credibility as a bookseller.

If Aziraphale was being honest with himself, something that he preferred not to do as of late, it was because he was nervous. What if the text was from Anathema, announcing yet another fallback for the paper? Or the new editor, Gabriel (although he didn’t think Gabriel had his number) firing him from newspaper altogether? If that was even possible.

And there was the last possibility, the one that made him sick with odd longing. What if it was Crowley? What if something had changed between them? Aziraphale was afraid to find out what he’d do if Crowley suddenly changed his mind about their relationship. Not that they had a real relationship. By relationship, of course, he meant their general attitude towards each other. Because he would never want to date Crowley. Right?

When every book was in its proper, alphabetical place, Aziraphale found himself something else to do - finally hanging up the genre dividers on the bookshelves. Then he made himself a sandwich. Then he continued his binge of Jane Austen.

That night, he lay in bed, unable to fall asleep. It was late, probably, and he had more work to do around the bookshop tomorrow. Not that Dad had asked for him to help. But he’d been out running errands all day, and Aziraphale had nothing better to do.

Besides. He didn’t want to see whatever notification was lying in wait for him on his phone’s lock screen.

Or maybe… How bad could it be? There was no way it was anything about news paper. He would’ve gotten several other texts afterwards (either Huda’s reaction, Anathema’s nagging, or Newton’s several versions of the same text due to his inability to work technology).

It was midnight. Aziraphale wasn’t thinking. Maybe he should have been.

Or maybe, sometimes, thinking overcomplicates things.

Aziraphale’s bare feet landed softly on the floor and he wandered over to his desk, where his phone was plugged in. One. Two.

Three.

Aziraphale turned on the device and his heart just about stopped when he saw who’d texted him.

snazzysnek: er hey angel
snazzysnek: its me
snazzysnek: crowley
snazzysnek: from the soccer team
snazzysnek: so yeah
snazzysnek: hi

Aziraphale opened his phone as quickly as he could and typed out his answer.

angelreporter: Yes I saved your number. Hello Crowley

snazzysnek: hi um… how was your day?

angelreporter: Busy. I was working at my dad’s bookstore all day. Sorry I didn’t get back to you sooner.

snazzysnek: nbd. Wait your dad owns a bookshop? That’s cool! I mean, i dont really read that much but it sounds fun.

angelreporter: Yeah. On Coelum. We owned one in the city too. We’re just relocating.

snazzysnek: maybe i could stop by sometime :)

Aziraphale blushed at the thought of Crowley in their bookstore. In their home. It felt… not like an invasion of privacy, but certainly not entirely proper. He’d probably been reading too much Austen.

angelreporter: You’re welcome to :)

snazzysnek: :D
snazzysnek: oh and sorry about the reporting… um the other Demons dont want us to help out you guys and theyll have me totally screwed if i do

angelreporter: I don’t even know if I’m on that article anymore. We have a new editor now. He kicked Anathema out.

snazzysnek: !!!
snazzysnek: thats bullshit
snazzysnek: i know anathema shes cool
snazzysnek: who is it now?

angelreporter: His name is Gabriel
angelreporter: I don’t know his last name but you’re right
angelreporter: It is absolutely bullshit.

snazzysnek: heh well he sounds like a jerk
snazzysnek: youre not tho
snazzysnek: it was cool what you did with the pencils the other day

angelreporter: oh! Thank you. They just seemed like they needed some pencils

Aziraphale paused. Wait. He scrolled up, rereading Crowley’s text. youre not tho. It was thrilling, exciting, in a way it shouldn’t be.

snazzysnek: Look er…
snazzysnek: I was wondering
snazzysnek: if you possibly
snazzysnek: wanted to go
snazzysnek: to um somewhere
snazzysnek: with me
snazzysnek: sometime?

Aziraphale gulped in a breath of air. Was Crowley really asking him out? Did he want Crowley to ask him out?

The answer was yes. The answer had always been yes. So perhaps Aziraphale had a tiny crush on him. Not a big deal. Teenagers have passing fancies. He didn’t even have time to go on a date.

But nobody had ever asked Aziraphale out before… and he so desperately wanted to say yes.

angelreporter: I would love to

snazzysnek: awesome!!
snazzysnek: but you know, as friends, of course
snazzysnek: i had a gf so you know…
snazzysnek: i broke up with her tho…
snazzysnek: she sucked.

angelreporter: Ugh that sucks.
angelreporter: So you’re single?
angelreporter: Not that I care

snazzysnek: i'm single, angel ;)

Oh. My. God. Crowley was flirting with him. Crowley Ashtoreth was flirting with him. Aziraphale could have fainted right then and there. Now. How do you flirt back?

angelreporter: Good to know.

snazzysnek: so
snazzysnek: whats your favorite show

angelreporter: I guess I don’t watch a lot of shows
angelreporter: I like that one with Ted Danson in it though

snazzysnek: erm dunno who ted danson is

angelreporter: Ted Danson!! Wait lemme look it up
angelreporter: The Good Place

snazzysnek: Oh that guy!
snazzysnek: i dont look up actors
snazzysnek: i just like their shows :)
snazzysnek: i was actually watching tgp before you texted back. Its my favorite :)

angelreporter: Awesome! Maybe we should watch together sometime

snazzysnek: its a date.
snazzysnek: i mean
snazzysnek: er
snazzysnek: yes definitely we should do that sometime

angelreporter: :)
angelreporter: How do you feel about sci fi?

snazzysnek: sci fi’s cool. Spacey-ness.

angelreporter: Like what? I’ve been looking for something to watch.
angelreporter: Old or new. But classic, you know.

snazzysnek: ooh ooh doctor who is awesome.
snazzysnek: its old AND new

angelreporter: Good to know, good to know
angelreporter: Doesn’t that have a million seasons though where should I start

snazzysnek: if you want old four’s nice.
snazzysnek: new and ten’s your man.

angelreporter: ???

snazzysnek: tom baker and david tennant play them erm season…
snazzysnek: two of the new series for ten
snazzysnek: idk about four…
snazzysnek: i'm too tired to look it up tbh

angelreporter: Good actors though?

snazzysnek: oh yes
snazzysnek: i may have once had a little crush on the latter…
snazzysnek: maybe
snazzysnek: actually maybe i didnt idk
snazzysnek: probably not
snazzysnek: but a little bit

angelreporter: looking him up…

snazzysnek: *jeopardy theme plays*

angelreporter: Oh my

snazzysnek: >:)

angelreporter: A LITTLE BIT
angelreporter: I’VE NEVER SEEN HIM IN ANYTHING AND I MIGHT BE IN LOVE

snazzysnek: rats
snazzysnek: plz dont
snazzysnek: i mean not that i care you know
snazzysnek: but please dont

angelreporter: HAVE YOU SEEN HIM
angelreporter: i definitely have to watch this
angelreporter: wait wait wait why

snazzysnek: yeah ive seen him!
snazzysnek: erm no reason
snazzysnek: just like
snazzysnek: yeah
snazzysnek: dont be in love with him
snazzysnek: because then you cant be in love with
snazzysnek: other
snazzysnek: people
snazzysnek: you know in general

Aziraphale wished it was slightly less late at night so he could frantically text Anathema. Did this mean…? Was Crowley in love with him? Was he in love with Crowley? (No. Obviously not.)

snazzysnek: obviously

angelreporter: I’ve never the met the man I’m not actually in love
angelreporter: Are you okay

snazzysnek: *wheezes* no i'm never okay
snazzysnek: except when i'm thinking about you
snazzysnek: obviously

angelreporter: Is this conversation actually happening
angelreporter: Please I’m very confused

snazzysnek: yeah its happening
snazzysnek: sorry for confusing you angel
snazzysnek: i wont do it again
snazzysnek: or maybe i will
snazzysnek: ❤️

angelreporter: Where are you
angelreporter: Why are you making fun of me

Aziraphale shouldn’t be trusting Crowley, but maybe that little crush was quite possibly a very much larger crush than he’d told himself.

snazzysnek: i'm not making fun!!
snazzysnek: i'm sorry
snazzysnek: forgive me
snazzysnek: please dont hate me
snazzysnek: ill go
snazzysnek: ignore me

angelreporter: No!
angelreporter: Please don’t go
angelreporter: Where are you
angelreporter: Can you be at the park in five

snazzysnek: the park in five…
snazzysnek: yeah i could
snazzysnek: race you

Chapter Text

Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god. Crowley couldn’t stop the excited thoughts racing through his head as he threw on his jacket. Aziraphale had asked him to go to the park. The park. In the middle of the night.

This could not be real.

But it was.

Crowley slowly creeped down the steps. His dad was fast asleep on the couch with a violent tv show playing loudly. He wouldn’t be heard.

He carefully opened the front door and stepped out in his pajamas. His bottoms were red and black, his favorite colors. His t-shirt was also black. Hopefully nobody could see him in the dark with that outfit. Well, except Aziraphale. He hoped Aziraphale would see him.

Crowley ran to the park. It wasn’t far away, so he got there in about two minutes. Aziraphale was there waiting for him. He beamed and rushed to his side.

“Angel! You’re here!” he said in a loud whisper.

Aziraphale waved. “I’m here!”

Crowley grabbed one arm shyly. “I was worried you were lying maybe...”

Aziraphale tilted his head to the side, quirking his eyebrow adorably. “Why would I be lying?”

“Because...” Crowley search for an explanation. “I dunno. I guess I’m not very used to trusting people...” He looked down and then up again back at Aziraphale. “But you’re different, angel.”

“I think you can trust me,” said Aziraphale softly. “When you were… talking, earlier. Do you… Are you…”

“I think… so.” Crowley nodded. “It’s all very confusing for me, I mean, I… I’ve never met someone like you. You’re absolutely perfect, you know that, right? But I...” he took a shaky breath. “My dad hates me, the Demons hate me, everyone just sort of shares a general distaste for me. But you...” Crowley chuckled a bit. “You’re the first person who’s ever really been nice to me. I’d like to thank you for that.”

“Oh, well...” Aziraphale stepped in a bit closer to Crowley. “You’re quite welcome.”

“Can I kiss you?” Crowley asked. It was the one thing he had always wanted. The one thing that all longing had told him he needed to do. And now was the time.

“Kiss? Crowley I--” but Crowley didn’t care what Aziraphale was going to say. He wrapped his arms around his shoulder and pressed his lips against Aziraphale’s.

Kissing Aziraphale was very different from kissing Eden. Eden was sure, precise, domineering. She knew where she wanted to put her hands, her lips, and she broke off the kiss when she was quite ready. Eden had usually tasted sickly sweet, like artificial cherry and sugary vanilla.

Aziraphale was just as unsure as Crowley was, and he found it reassuring. He fumbled a bit when they first started kissing, pulling away for a single, cold second before returning his mouth to Crowley’s mouth. And oh, he tasted wonderful. Crowley should have been kissing Aziraphale from the moment he saw the beautiful, beautiful boy. He tasted of old books and secretive winks, and fire on a cold afternoon, and sweet chocolate.

And he was very good at kissing, despite his nervousness. After a few seconds, he took a small step forward and pulled Crowley closer, his fingertips curling around the back of Crowley’s head. His lips were warm against Crowley’s, and Crowley wanted to kiss him forever and ever.

Unfortunately, Aziraphale pulled back before forever, stepping away and leaving Crowley blushing and gasping by himself. The kiss had probably been less than a minute, but it had seemed longer, somehow. And yet not quite long enough.

“What was that?” Aziraphale asked, his voice quiet enough to drown in.

“That…” Crowley breathed. “That… I think that was love.” It had felt so strange, but so pure at the same time. “Can we do it again?” he asked.

Aziraphale’s eyes went wide. “What? Are you - we can’t -” He took a breath, composing himself. “This. Can never. Work.”

Crowley started. “What?” No, this wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. It wasn’t fair. “Aziraphale, of course it will work! Did you not just see what we did? We worked together, angel.”

“We shouldn’t be.” He looked like his doubt was growing by the minute. “We’re enemies.”

Crowley hung on to any last strand that would keep his angel’s love. No, not his angel. Just Aziraphale. “But we don’t haveto be enemies! I’m a horrible soccer player, and you haven’t been on newspaper for more than a week! We would go off together, join another club. Like… I dunno.” Crowley looked up at the sky.

The stars twinkled brightly. It was like a thousand lights shining just for them. Everyone else in the neighborhood was asleep, completely oblivious to these small, stolen moments. Maybe it was selfish, but Crowley wanted more. He wanted Aziraphale to be his angel. Probably more than he had ever wanted anything before. “Please, angel. Stay with me.”

Aziraphale wrung his hands. He looked contradicted, like he was really deciding between Crowley and the newspaper. Or maybe it was just Crowley’s subconscious desire for Aziraphale to even think of wanting him. It was ridiculous, anyway.

An angel could never love a Demon.

Aziraphale’s eyes welled up. “Goodbye, Crowley.” He turned away and walked back in what Crowley could only assume was the general direction of the bookshop. Crowley reached to pull off his sunglasses but he realized they’d been off the whole time. Stupid, stupid idea, this was. You’ve went and blew it, now, haven’t you? Crowley kicked up some wood chips and let out a grunt of exertion and anger. When he was quite sure Aziraphale was long gone and was never coming back, Crowley collapsed on his knees and cried. He felt weak and stupid doing it. He hadn’t even known Aziraphale all that long. Nothing was ever going to happen between them, ever. It had been a completely ridiculous thought.

Aziraphale probably had never even wanted that kiss. And yet... it had been such a wonderful kiss…

That was it. Crowley wiped his eyes and stood up. He still had a chance, he knew it. He could get Aziraphale to love him back. Crowley picked up his jacket from the ground and put it on, shivering as he started the walk home.
---
“Where the hell were you?” Crowley was greeted as he tried sneaking through the door. His dad had caught him and he was most definitely screwed.

“I was… just… getting air.” Crowley stammered. He didn’t know how his dad would react if he told him he had just kissed another guy. Let alone someone on the Angelic Times. Crowley’s dad was a huge supporter of the Demon’s soccer team. He was the coach and was fighting vigorously to get the funding necessary from the Principal. For anyone else, this might have been much more difficult. This was not the case for Vice Principal Lucifer Sayt Anne Ashtoreth.

“Is that so?” Lucifer sneered. “Well. I shouldn’t let you get by with this should it?” Crowley gulped. His father’s punishments could be harsh. So harsh, that sometimes Crowley felt like he was falling down a deep hole. The sunlight slowing retreating until there was nothing but a dark void of infinite nothing. He hoped his small outing wouldn’t take him to that level of extreme. Besides, it had only happened once before, the Worst Punishment. He didn’t plan to allow it to happen again.

“You’re going to practice soccer. Everyday.” Lucifer sternly said. Crowley could see the veins on his temple thicken with stress. His fae was turning a worrying shade of red as well. Crowley shivered.
“I can’t practice every day, dad! I have homework and things...” he tried to protest. He could see the anger in his father’s eyes, and he knew it he would lose this fight.
“You will. In fact, I will make all the other Demons suffer this punishment with you.” Lucifer’s red face slowly turned to a normal shade as what Crowley knew was the devilish thoughts of punishing the whole team seeped into his mind.
“Now go to bed. And don’t leave again.”

—-

Crowley slipped under the covers, and after a brief check of the door, took out his phone. He re-read all the texts Aziraphale had sent him, smiling a bit. Before he went to bed, he made sure to send one more text.

snazzysnek: im sorry

Chapter Text

Aziraphale was in the best mood than he’d been since joining Terreville. Or so he told himself.

He whistled as he whisked. He’d decided to make an devil’s food cake, because baking always cheered him up. Not that Aziraphale needed cheering up. Why would he? He was in a good mood.

If Aziraphale wasn’t in a good mood, then he’d really be in love with Crowley. And he wasn’t! He was basically over his crush. Even if he’d thought it mattered back in the park.

The park… Aziraphale closed his eyes for the barest moment, remembering how Crowley had kissed him until he couldn’t breathe. God, he wanted more of that.

No. He didn’t.

Aziraphale opened his eyes and sighed. He’d splattered batter all over the counter. That was what came of sneaking out to kiss cute ginger boys late at night. Aziraphale was exhausted. He wished he’d never thought of meeting Crowley in the park, never returned the kiss. Or better yet, never spoken to the boy at all.

Aziraphale looked down at the batter. It was now fully mixed. Several times over.

He walked over to the garbage, considering throwing it out. You couldn’t ruin cake batter just by mixing it. But still, he obviously wasn’t paying enough attention.

Aziraphale looked at the cake batter. He didn’t care for Crowley. He didn’t care for Crowley. He didn’t…

What an idiot he was. Devil’s food cake? He obviously felt guilty. Devil’s food cake. Crowley was a Demon.

Aziraphale cursed his ability to self-analyze as he poured the batter into a cake pan and slid the pan into the preheated stove.

He stared at his phone, and the message Crowley had sent.

snazzysnek: im sorry

Aziraphale thought about texting him. But what?

angelreporter: Me too.

He deleted the text and tried again.

angelreporter: I should be the one apologizing. I was the one who bolted. The kiss was fantastic.

The kiss was fantastic. So fantastic he could still feel the warmth of Crowley’s mouth. So fantastic he couldn’t stop thinking about it. So fantastic…

But he wasn’t in love. Not even close.

angelreporter: I’m so confused. I don’t know how I feel about you, but you’re so cute and I want to kiss you until your lips are sore.

Aziraphale deleted that quickly. What if he accidentally sent it? A terrible thought. But Crowley would be so happy… What if Aziraphale just left? What if he just removed himself from the funding war, ignored the newspaper, and went out with Crowley? Kissed him everyday. Ate pizza at that cute place… Bastille?

Aziraphale drafted one last text.

angelreporter: We could still watch Doctor Who, sometime.

Send.

snazzysnek: really? So ur not mad?

angelreporter: No. I’m not mad.
angelreporter: A little…
angelreporter: I don’t know. I really don’t know.

snazzysnek: i got in trouble w my dad
snazzysnek: just fyi

angelreporter: Oh my God. Are you okay?
angelreporter: Crowley. Crowley. Are you okay.

snazzysnek: i'm fine angel dont worry
snazzysnek: but i have soccer every day now
snazzysnek: and er hes really kind of homophobic so if you ever see him DONT SAY ANYTHING
snazzysnek: please

angelreporter: Of course, I promise. Ugh that sucks. I’m so sorry. This is all my fault
angelreporter: I should never have asked you to come meet me.

snazzysnek: no no i'm glad you did
snazzysnek: i think that kiss was worth a few extra soccer practices ;)

Aziraphale’s face flushed with warmth. Crowley thought he was good at kissing. Crowley thought he was good at kissing. He wanted to do a happy little wiggle at the thought.

But more than that, he wanted to kiss him again.

angelreporter: Er. Yes, rather.

snazzysnek: erm i mean
snazzysnek: sorry
snazzysnek: it was nice tho

angelreporter: It was nice.

snazzysnek: maybe we could do it again…?
snazzysnek: i mean… only if you want.
snazzysnek: my next game’s friday.
snazzysnek: you could come :)

Crowley wanted to kiss him again. And Aziraphale wouldn’t be opposed to it. In fact, he relished the thought of kissing Crowley again. Perhaps he would nip at Crowley’s lips, watching him squirm and flush.

angelreporter: Maybe I will. But I believe you still owe me an interview?

snazzysnek: oh yes the interview…
snazzysnek: well hastur and ligur already gave you brief ones so I guess I could maybe be excused…
snazzysnek: not too much info tho
snazzysnek: they’ll be after me w the practices too…

angelreporter: I’m sure I could catch you after the game?
angelreporter: Gabriel will have my hide if I don’t turn that article in by next week.

snazzysnek: well we could do it now

angelreporter: Over text? Or in person?

snazzysnek: sigh i suppose text. my dad would prob murder me or something not too far from that

angelreporter: :( Sorry. That’s awful.

Aziraphale stood up and started walking towards the refrigerator, to give himself something other than Crowley’s mouth to think about.

angelreporter: If it was possible… would you want to see me? I get it if you don’t.

He opened the fridge door and looked intently at a carton of milk. Did they have any clean glasses? Aziraphale stared at the closed cabinet from across the room, as if he could supernaturally see through the wood.

He gave up and walked over to the cabinet.

snazzysnek: i would love to see you angel. just... at the moment…

Aziraphale’s breath caught in his throat for a dizzying second. What had he been getting?

Glass. Yes. Aziraphale opened the cabinet. A few glasses on the top shelf. Aziraphale stood on his tiptoes to try and reach a glass, but his fingers just scraped against the edge of the cup.

Aziraphale let out a breath and set down his phone to clamber onto the counter. He opened the cabinet door, standing on his knees, and his fingers closed around the glass. Finally.

As he climbed back down, he checked his phone again, seeing that giddying message. He would like to see Crowley again, too. Very much so. An idea began to uncurl in the corner of his mind.

angelreporter: Give me a sec.

Aziraphale opened the Terreville district website and logged into the student portal. Teacher Directory. Perfect. He searched Ashtoreth and got Lucifer Sayt Anne Ashtoreth’s email adress.

Aziraphale typed an email draft and then hit his thumb on send without hestitaion.

snazzysnek: erm… okay… what are you planning here?

angelreporter: I sent your dad an email explaining that we have a science project due soon and that we had to work on it over the weekend. :)

If it was possible to pour milk triumphantly, Aziraphale did. And then took a small sip. Refreshingly cold.

snazzysnek: oh!
snazzysnek: that was
snazzysnek: actually really nice
snazzysnek: thx angel
snazzysnek: perhaps we can work on the “science project” now… i’ll ask him

Aziraphale wondered if Crowley’s several texts all at once meant he was flustered. He hoped so.

angelreporter: :) Great! Do you know where the shop is?

snazzysnek: yep. 42 Coelum Avenue

Aziraphale had to check that against his memorized information about the shop. It wasn’t second nature. Yet.

angelreporter: See you soon?

snazzysnek: open the door plz. its locked

angelreporter: On it. Sorry. We’re not open right now so I locked up.

Aziraphale rushed to the door. It was thick, solid, old wood, so he couldn’t see Crowley yet. Oh, how desperately he wanted to. He fished the key out of his pocket and turned it in the lock, and pulled it open.

Crowley was standing in the doorway. He gave a little wave. “Morning.” he said.

Aziraphale found himself suddenly bashful. This was much easier when he couldn’t see Crowley’s beautiful face. “Morning.”

Aziraphale was quite flustered when Crowley moved forward and wrapped his arms around him. “I’m really really sorry about last night, really.” Crowley’s words were muffled by Aziraphale’s sweater vest. He pulled away, too soon in Aziraphale’s opinion.

“No homo, but like… you smell kinda nice.” Crowley blushed, his fingers twisting together as if he was unsure whether to hang them at his sides or clasp them in front of him. “Actually...” he kissed Aziraphale on the cheek. “Very homo.”

“Oh!” Aziraphale giggled. “Thank you. I have a cake baking right now. Maybe we could have some later?”

“Cake? Wow, been a while. Sure! But we better work on that science project first, eh?” Crowley elbowed Aziraphale’s arm lightly and smiled.

Aziraphale glanced around. They were still standing in the doorway. “Come in. I’m sorry. I was…. Sorry.” Aziraphale stumbled back to give Crowley room to come inside.

Crowley nodded and stepped through the door and into the center of the bookshop. His eyes darted around the room. Or, in theory, as he was still wearing those sunglasses. “It’s nice here. Cozy.” His head turned back to look at Aziraphale. “So what kinds of stuff do you need to know?” he asked.

“Oh. Let me go get my laptop. Don’t break anything while I’m gone.” Aziraphale dashed upstairs, his blood still thrumming from the barest touch of Crowley’s lips on his face. He unplugged the computer, scooped it into his arms, and ran back down to the bookshop. Crowley was still standing near the door.

“We could, you know, do this upstairs.” Aziraphale flushed as he realized the implications of his words. “I meant - we have a dining table, I could get you a snack…”

Crowley nodded. “A snack sounds good.” he stuffed his hands in his pockets and rocked back and forth on his feet. “Maybe you could show me around...” He turned his head more so Aziraphale could see he was looking around again. “Dining room, book… room...” he turned back to face Aziraphale. He pushed down his glasses so he could see his tawny eyes. “Bedroom?” The glasses were returned to their original spot almost immediately but Aziraphale had seen the glint of mischief in his eyes. “Not that I’m implying anything. Just curious.”

Aziraphale wanted to scold him and melt into an angel-reporter-shaped puddle of bashfulness all at once. “Yeah, my bedroom and my dad’s are upstairs. Along with all the other rooms an apartment usually has. Ours is just on top of a bookstore.” Aziraphale looked at Crowley’s mouth for a single second, but it was a mistake. Those perfectly shaped lips… Stop embarrassing yourself, Fell.

“Cool!” Crowley looked around the bookstore-level floor one last time and headed up the steps snaking to the top floor. He headed up them, one hand rubbing against the wooden ledge as he ascended.

Aziraphale followed, nervously. Why was he so frightened of this boy? No, more exactly: why was he so frightened of what this boy thought of him?

The stairs ended and Aziraphale nearly walked into Crowley, who’d paused, probably because he was unsure of where to go next. “Sorry! Sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it, angel!” Crowley stepped aside and waved Aziraphale up. “Where are we going?”

“Kitchen. Dining room. Same room. Haha,” Aziraphale said, getting the distinct sense he was rambling. “You know.” He walked over to the dining room and held the door for Crowley.
“Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it.”

Crowley walked over to the dining table and chose a chair to perch on, his shoes curled underneath him. “So, interview?”

“You can take your shoes off, by the way,” said Aziraphale. He sat down across from Crowley. “Can I get you something to drink?”

“Sure.” Crowley bounced on his heels. “Ginger ale?”

“Water?” Aziraphale countered. “Nothing interesting yet. We did just move here.” Aziraphale slid off his chair and padded over to the fridge.

Crowley shrugged. “Water’s good.”

“We have milk, too - come here and look at the refrigerator.” Aziraphale moved aside and pointed to the open fridge.

Crowley jumped off the chair with surprising agility. He leaned down and unlaced his sneakers, then stepped out of the shoes one by one. “’Kay.” Crowley bounded over to Aziraphale. How much energy did this boy have?

“There’s… a bit of apple cider left, I guess…” said Aziraphale, forced to trail off as Crowley kissed him, gently.

Crowley turned his head towards the open fridge and tap, tap, tapped his socked foot on the floor. “Cider’s good.”

Aziraphale was outraged. You can’t just kiss a person and ignore them, he thought. “Mm-hmm,” he said. “Wait. We… uh… don’t have any glasses left. Maybe… uh, maybe… cider is a bad idea,” he said, losing trail of his train of thought several times.

“That’s okay,” said Crowley, closing the fridge. “I wasn’t like, emotionally attached to the cider.”

“Good,” Aziraphale laughed awkwardly.

“Yeah.”

“So, uh, how’s… soccer, going?” Aziraphale looked at the ground, face flaming.

“Not well…?”

“Sorry.”

Crowley pushed his sunglasses up into his hair, and Aziraphale marveled at at how pretty his eyes were, again. “Why am I here?”

Aziraphale’s shoulder’s started to snug up to his ears. “Uh. Interview?” Kiss him. Stop thinking and kiss him. Whose voice was that in his head?

“Interview?” There was disappointment written on the gentle lines of Crowley’s face, and it stung like a bee sting. “Just an interview?”

“Yeah,” said Aziraphale under his voice, but he didn’t believe himself.

Crowley deflated, ever so slightly.

Aziraphale met those tawny eyes with his own and tried to think at him, Kiss me. Kiss me, kiss me, kiss me. For a moment he had the crazy idea that it had actually worked. Crowley softened, angling his face towards Aziraphale…

And then.

Aziraphale stopped thinking. And kissed him.

The last kiss had been exhausted, messy, confused. Wonderful, yes, but disorganized. This one was sweet, passionate. It meant more, somehow. Aziraphale tangled his fingers in Crowley’s hair, in the red waves and curls and strands. It was so soft, like velvet and feathery down and wool.

He felt Crowley’s hands on his lower back, fingers curled, somewhat hesitant. His mouth was pressed closed, as if he was afraid of something.

Aziraphale gave him a few inches of space. “This is okay?” he whispered.

“This is okay,” breathed Crowley, his face wonderfully pink.

Aziraphale kissed him again, his lips parting ever so slightly. Crowley spread his hand wide against Aziraphale’s back, pulling him into a more intense kiss. Aziraphale gasped against his mouth.

“Don’t run away again please.” Crowley whispered, who knew how much later.

“I would never do that to you again, dearest.” Aziraphale murmured back “Please don’t stop yet.”

“We do have that interview to finish…”

Aziraphale shook his head and pressed his lips lightly to Crowley’s jaw. “In a few minutes…”

Crowley’s shoulders shook in a silent laugh. “You were the one that was so intent on this newspaper thing.”

“Please?” Aziraphale whispered. This time, he could hear Crowley’s laughter in his ear. “I’m going to kiss you again.”

“Go ahead.”

Aziraphale roved his lips over the curve Crowley’s cheek, tracking his way to Crowley’s mouth and kissing him as hard as he could.

Chapter Text

“Aziraphale, I’m home!” Crowley heard from downstairs a fair while later. No, he didn’t want it to end now. He wanted to stay wrapped around Aziraphale forever and ever. But nobody lives forever. That was impossible. Not that the fact stopped Crowley from wanting it.

“Crowley, my dad’s here.” Aziraphale whispered sheepishly. Crowley shook his head and held Aziraphale’s waist a bit tighter.

“Come help me with these groceries will you?” There was a sound of paper bags being set on a table and the low thumping of footsteps as he climbed the stairs.

“Crowley...” Aziraphale warned. He kissed him one more time and let go. He stuck out his hand as a compromise. Crowley took it firmly, but gently. He turned and saw Aziraphale’s dad enter the room.

“There you are I-- ooh.” Mr. Fell leaned against the kitchen door’s frame. He was a bit older, and he was a reasonable size. Crowley wasn’t sure how to react to the man. Was he mad? Uh oh. He unclasped from Aziraphale hand and stuffed his own into the pockets of his black jacket. He pulled his sunglasses down. “Who’s this then?” Aziraphale’s dad asked.

“Oh, erm, hello dad.” Aziraphale smiled warmly and walked closer to Mr. Fell. He grabbed Crowley’s arm, unable to reach his pocketed hands and dragged him along. “This is Crowley Ashtoreth. He’s my partner on our science project!” Mr. Fell’s eyebrows raised to his hairline.

“Crowley… Ashtoreth?” he asked. Aziraphale nodded, the smile still on his face.

“He’s also on the soccer team! So I’m interviewing him for the Angelic Times. Most of the Demons haven’t been… available… but he agreed!” Crowley blushed a bit and turned away. Mr. Fell’s face became the exact replication of the surprised Pikachu face.

“The Angelic--Demons--Crowley--what? Holy... well, erm get on with the interview, science project… er, thing… or whatever else you’re doing.” Mr. Fell gave a little wink as he exited the room, still mumbling to himself. “Crowley Ashtoreth, I cannot believe...” Crowley wrung his hands and turned back to Aziraphale.

“Is he...” Crowley didn’t quite know what he would do if Aziraphale’s dad ended up as homophobic as his own.

“What, oh no! Don’t worry, he was very accepting with me. You have nothing to worry about, dear.” Aziraphale planted another small kiss on his cheek. Crowley blushed harder, if that was possible at this point.

“Then why was he so… stunned?” It had been strange, the way he stuttered about the Angelic Times and Demons. Maybe it was some weird religious thing, but it was just High School. He also seemed put off at his name. Oh no, maybe he had heard something. Had the Demons already shown the picture to people? He ran his fingers through his hair. This was not how he was going to go.

“You know, I really have no idea. I wouldn’t worry about it though. We really should start working on the interview now...”

“Oh, yes, right.” Crowley sat back down on Aziraphale’s bed. The sheets were a pale blue color, and the blanket was a pleasant-looking tartan. Aziraphale looted around his cabinet by the bed for something. When he found whatever it was he was looking for, he let out a small “Aha!” that made Crowley smile.

The object was a little notebook and pencil. It had a white cover and several pages between its cardboard covers. Aziraphale sat beside him, making the bed sag slightly. He noticed this and moved to the middle of the mattress, his legs criss-crossed. Crowley did the same across from him.

“So, er, name?” Aziraphale asked, his pencil poised neatly. Crowley let out a small chuckle.

“Crowley Ashtoreth.” Aziraphale nodded and wrote it down.

“Age?”

“Sixteen.”

“How long have you been playing soccer?”

“Freshman year. My uh… friends I guess… said I should join them and I did.” Crowley shrugged.

“Right, and… on a scale of one to ten,” Aziraphale looked up. “How would you rate your kissing ability?” Crowley laughed.

“I dunno. Guess we should test it out, for science.” He crawled over to Aziraphale’s spot and kissed him, pushing them both against the pillows. Aziraphale laughed, the muffled sound like bells in the empty room.

When they were quite definitely done, Crowley propped his head against his elbow on the pillow. His glasses were off, so he could allow Aziraphale to see straight into his yearning eyes. He smiled, and his fang-like teeth glimmered in the sunlight seeping through the bedroom window.

“What would you rate that?” he asked. Aziraphale tapped his pencil against his chin like he was thinking rather hard.

“I would say… eleven,” he concluded and scribbled something on his pad.

“Eleven…” Crowley contemplated, keeping his smile. “Alright, eleven sounds good.”

“Actually…” Aziraphale scratched out his writing quickly. “I don’t think there’s a number for it, I’m terribly sorry Crowley.” he mock apologised. Or he might have been actually apologising. Crowley couldn’t tell.

“Mhm…” Aziraphale scratched out something else. “You know, Gabriel will probably want me to have an accurate review.” he threw his pad to the corner of the bed and lay down on his side again. “I’m afraid we’ll have to test it again.” Crowley pretended to sigh in defeat.

“Afraid so.”

Aziraphale crawled onto his lap and kissed him sweetly. Please, let this never end, Crowley begged whatever god might be up there.

Chapter Text

Name: Crowley Ashtoreth
Age: 16
Has been playing since: Freshman year
Fun fact: Dad is the captain of the team. Also is extraordinarily good at kissing.

Crowley peeked over Aziraphale’s computer as he typed. “I think that’s exaggerating, a bit.”

“Not all that much.” Aziraphale deleted it anyway. “Imagine sending that to Gabriel!” he laughed.

“It’s really a soccer move,” Crowley said, as if trying to explain away the sentence to Aziraphale’s editor. “A very complicated soccer move. Would take a real pro to master kissing in soccer.”

Aziraphale laughed and kissed his mouth quickly.

“Perhaps I could demonstrate for him?” Crowley reciprocated with a quick smooch on Aziraphale’s cheek.

“I don’t think Gabriel would be very happy with me.”

Crowley frowned in a pretty good impression of the dove-winged senior. “Aziraphale, you’re fucking fired.”

Aziraphale managed to keep a straight face for all of three seconds, then dissolved into gasping laughter. “I’d rather you were my editor,” he said, truthfully.

“You into that?” Crowley joked, snaking an arm around Aziraphale’s waist. He rested his head on Crowley’s shoulder.

“I should probably send this in. What time is it…?” Aziraphale traced his fingertip along the top of his computer screen. “Five thirty.”

“Promised my dad I’d be home by forty-five. Shit.” Crowley scrambled off the bed, eyes scanning the floor for his shoes.

“You left them in the other room.” Aziraphale closed his laptop and hopped up, too. “I’m so sorry. I should come with you.”

“No, you don’t have to.” Crowley went through the door and found his shoes and forgotten sunglasses (the former on the ground, the latter resting on a counter). He rushed back into the bedroom and gave Aziraphale one last, long kiss on the mouth.

“Bye, angel. See you Monday yeah?” He headed back out the doorway, his face still meeting Aziraphale’s.

“I’ll wait for you.” Crowley nodded and went to face the exit. Aziraphale did the same to watch him go, but froze in his tracks as he saw the dark figure standing there. Oh shirtballs. Aziraphale thought. He didn’t like cursing, even in his thoughts. But this was an absolute forking mess. In the door was none other than Crowley’s father. Aziraphale recognised him from seeing him around the school’s halls and the way he stood reminded him of Crowley. But Lucifer Ashtoreth had a certain edge to his stance Crowley did not. It was rigid, cold. Unlike Crowley’s softer appearance.

“Oh! Dad! Er, hello. What’re you… doing… here?” Crowley stammered.

“I asked you to meet me for soccer practice forty-five minutes ago.” Lucifer sneered menacingly. It felt to Aziraphale like the world was closing in on him. Crowley would be in trouble and it was all Aziraphale’s fault. Again.

“Yeah, sorry the science project took a bit longer than we-- erm. How long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough.” Lucifer grabbed Crowley’s arm. Based on the way Crowley folded in on his arm, Aziraphale could tell it was not gentle. He gasped, feeling all too responsible.

“See you Monday, angel,” said Crowley through a tight smile. “Rest easy.”

Aziraphale didn’t want to rest easy. He didn’t think it was possible to rest easy. He felt absolutely terrible. As soon as he heard the door slam downstairs, he wandered out of his room and down to the bookshop on the first floor.

“Dad, is there a book I can read?” he asked his father, who was absorbed in his own tall stack at the moment.

“Oh, yeah sure.” His dad distractedly waved a single hand. He looked up from his novel and glanced around the table. He picked up a black-covered book with a little person reading on it. It looked inviting, so Aziraphale took it, thanked him, and headed back to his room.

Aziraphale look a deep breath and shut the door. He curled up on his bed, noting the empty space were Crowley had been, and opened the book to the first sentence.

It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far and rain hadn't been invented yet.

Aziraphale closed his eyes.

---

“Morning, Aziraphale,” said Anathema, brushing a shimmering comb through her long hair. “What’s up?”

Aziraphale looked around. Crowley. Where was Crowley?

“Aziraphale. Are you listening to me.” Of course he was. Anathema’s voice was just coming from behind a wall of water.

Aziraphale caught a glance of red hair and swiveled on his heels. Crowley…? No. Aziraphale was surprised at how disappointed he was.

“Dinosaurs are attacking us,” said Anathema dryly.

“Mm-hmm,” said Aziraphale. His fingers drifted to his mouth, remembering that last goodbye kiss.

“Aziraphale. What’s wrong? You aren’t hearing a thing I’m saying.” Anathema clasped her hand around his shoulder and shook him. “Aziraphale.”

Aziraphale shivered. “Sorry. I’m just… looking. I’m going to go talk to some people, okay?”

“Okay. Whatever. Be in homeroom by 8:30, though,” Anathema warned.

Aziraphale nodded and headed off. Any newspaper staff member would help. Huda, hopefully. But even the seniors would have been okay. Somebody who knew where Crowley was. Crowley, his…

His.

Aziraphale almost ran directly into Michael, who sucked on her teeth and glared at him. “Fell.”

“Oh, hello, Michael. I was just looking for the Demon Crowley? Have you seen him around?” asked Aziraphale. “Not because we’re… friends or anything, you know. Just wanted to… keep tabs on them.”

Michael hummed tunelessly, unconvinced. “I haven’t seen him, Aziraphale.”

Aziraphale slumped and walked away. Crowley. Crowley. Crowley.

“Where are you going?” sneered Hastur, arms crossed.

“I’m looking for your teammate,” said Aziraphale bitterly. “You don’t know where he is?”

“He’s not here. Bugger off.”

---

Aziraphale had never broken up with anybody, but he thought this upset emptiness must be somewhat similar. He was so worried about Crowley, and oh, he missed him. Missed the quirk of his mouth when he was teasing Aziraphale. Missed the way his lips fit over Aziraphale’s mouth, and Aziraphale’s cheek, and Aziraphale’s neck.

The thoughts haunted Aziraphale the whole school day, plaguing him so much he missed Gabriel’s snide asides at his own writing.

“Aziraphale, listen to me. I said it’s too formal. Nobody wants to read a novel on the game. Just something quick and easy, got it?”

Aziraphale murmured an okay and thought again of Crowley kissing him.

When the day was finally over, Aziraphale rushed home as fast as he could. He had to talk to his dad.

Mr. Fell was sitting upstairs at his desk, brow crinkled in concentration, reading a thick old book. A pencil perched in his fingers, drawing lazy graphite circles on the paper next to him. He’d probably gotten distracted again.

“Dad.”

Mr. Fell paid no attention to his son. Aziraphale doubted that he’d heard him at all. Mr. Fell wasn’t hard of hearing, just easily sucked in by an especially well-written novel.

“Dad,” said Aziraphale, funneling every ounce of desperation into his voice.

It worked. Mr. Fell looked up and pushed his delicate glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Aziraphale. Is something wrong?”

“Crowley’s gone,” said Aziraphale, every reality of what could be happening at this instant rushing at him with dizzying speed. What if Lucifer is beating him? What if Lucifer is sending him away? What if Lucifer is kicking me out of school? What if…

“Where did he go?” said Mr. Fell, bringing his pencil up to his mouth and chewing absentmindedly on the eraser.

“His dad took him. Dad. Please.”

Mr. Fell dropped the pencil with a clatter. “Why? I thought you two…”

Aziraphale’s face flushed, but he forged on. “Yeah. I thought so too. But his dad is super homophobic and I might have lied to him and told him we were working on a science project - we weren’t -”

“Got that,” said Mr. Fell, who was fumbling beneath his chair, glasses halfway down his nose, looking for his pencil.

“And I’m just worried about him. Really worried.” All the questions Aziraphale hadn’t gotten a chance to ask Crowley were bugging him. Are we boyfriends, now?

Mr. Fell paused. “Ok. Where do they live?”

“I… I don’t know. But I can text Anathema.”

“Okay. You do that. I’m going to - darn.” Mr. Fell’s glasses fell onto the floor. “I’m going to get myself situated.”

angelreporter: Do you have the Vice Principal’s address??

lasttruewitch: why?? kind of a weird question

angelreporter: please? Do you have it?
angelreporter: He’s the soccer coach too so I figured you might have it

lasttruewitch: why do u need it tho?

angelreporter: I’m worried about Crowley

lasttruewitch: oh are u now. knew there was something…
lasttruewitch: what’s wrong w/ him?

angelreporter: Nothing!
angelreporter: I just. Need. His address. Please.

lasttruewitch: i dont know if i have the right to give out this kind of info

angelreporter: Please, Anathema, this is frightfully important.

lasttruewitch: okay fine dont worry az, i’ll send it to you.

Aziraphale exhaled, relieved. “Thank God. I got it. Dad, I got it.”

Mr. Fell emerged from under the chair, brushing dust bunnies off his front and also nose. “Let’s head over.”

---

Crowley’s house was a gabled, tall thing, something that Aziraphale was surprised to run into in Terreville. It was yellow and red, with clean siding and a path of large flat stones pressed into the lawn.

“Crowley. Crowley!”

“Go ring the bell,” Mr. Fell encouraged. “Go. Go!”

Aziraphale rushed up to the door. Instead of a normal doorbell, a big, old fashioned iron knocker hung on the tall, wooden door. Aziraphale gulped. If his dad hadn’t gotten so distracted by the grammar mistakes on the road sign, they would have arrived a quarter of an hour ago. And it wasn’t just a distraction. Mr. Fell looked through the drug store on the street for a red marker for ages. And he didn’t even find it.

Please answer, please answer, please answer. Aziraphale begged God Herself.

The door cracked open. A single amber eye peeked through the space between the door and the wall. “Aziraphale…?”

“Crowley. Crowley.” Aziraphale sighed. “Are you okay? My darling…”

“’M not your darling.” Crowley started to shut the door again. Aziraphale placed his foot down in between the cracks to hold it open.

“Crowley! Wait. What’s wrong? Are you okay?” he repeated, scanning Crowley for any possible injury. ’M not your darling.

“I’m sorry, angel. This… I can’t…”

A wave of dread hit Aziraphale’s core. “We can’t be together anymore.”

“I’m sorry.”

Crowley shut the door, leaving Aziraphale in the night’s sharp, cold air.

Chapter Text

The bookshop door slammed hard behind them. The sound rattled in Crowley’s ears, noting him of the impending doom to come. His father’s tight grip on his arm would surely leave a bruise later, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that he was probably never going to see Aziraphale again, but he tried not to think of that. He tried to keep a grip on the one strand of hope he had. That maybe his dad hadn’t seen so much, that maybe they could still work out. Lucifer opened the car’s back door and practically pushed Crowley inside. He got up and fastened his seatbelt.

The car was hot and messy. Crowley knew that when he saved up enough to buy his own, it would be clean and sleek. Maybe black, a vintage model. And he would make sure the stereo would only play Queen, instead of the dark metal his dad insisted upon.

“Crowley what the fuck was that? I asked you to meet me at soccer at four forty-five why weren’t you there?” Lucifer yelled from the front seat. He turned the keys and changed gears violently.

“We lost track of time...” Crowley put his hands between his long legs and looked down. This would all be so much more bearable if Aziraphale could hold his hand now.

“Oh really, did you now? And were you really working on a science project?”

“No...” Crowley mumbled. He couldn’t lie. That would make this all so much worse.

“What were you doing instead then?” Crowley put his hands together, but locking his cold, thin fingers was nothing like Aziraphale warm, soft touch.

“Interview for the Angelic Times.” Isn’t a lie, isn’t a lie, he told himself.

“That wasn’t what I saw.” The car made a sharp left, barely missing a pedestrian. “Crowley I don’t even -- I can’t -- why would you ever want to kiss another guy, that is disgusting. You are a disappointment.”

“Dad, it’s not illegal anymore, it’s fine! Lots of people today aren’t… you know.” Crowley shrugged, ashamed. He was a disappointment. That wasn’t even the worst thing. He knew things could only get worse from here.

“I will not have my son be a--”

“Dad stop it!” Crowley yelled. “Just stop, I don’t care!” His eyes were welling up now. He reached for his sunglasses and put them on. They had always served as his security blanket, hiding his true emotions -- and freak eyes -- from the world. Now was the time he really needed them, too.

“You will care.” Lucifer snarled as he pulled the car into the driveway. Crowley opened the car’s door and slowly got out, dread churning in his stomach. The sky was getting darker, much faster than it had been in the summer. The lawn was darkened, shadows creating shapes Crowley willed himself to believe were trees.

Lucifer angrily turned the lock on the door and opened it. The house, as usual, was musky and dark. It felt crowded with old furniture and boxes. It was not in the way Aziraphale’s bookshop felt crowded, though. The items there gave off a secure sense of a real home. It felt warm and cozy. Here it was just messy and cold. So, so, cold.

Crowley shivered and went to pull his jacket tighter, but his fingers found empty air yet again. His jacket wasn’t there. Argh -- curse it, he must have left it behind. He never went anywhere without this jacket. How could he have forgotten it? It had been his only birthday present from his father, and it was, and always had been, his favorite . Now it was gone and he’d probably never get it back.

Lucifer locked the door behind them and grabbed Crowley’s shoulder, pushing him against the wall.

“I don’t ever want to see you around that-- kid again.” His face was slightly damp and hot. Crowley could see the saliva forming in his mouth. Lucifer’s breath smelled of old socks and energy drinks. His eyes blazed with anger. Crowley didn’t often get scared, but now… he was terrified.

“Aziraphale.” Crowley said, trying to put on a brave face.

“What?”

“His name is Aziraphale, Dad.”

“That is the stupidest name I have ever heard. No one can even pronounce it.”

“I can. And I love him, Dad, I don’t care what you think.” Crowley gulped as any trace of mercy faded from Lucifer’s eyes. He knew what was coming. His muscles tensed and he closed his body in on himself. He saw his father’s anger before he felt the punch. His right arm screamed but he didn’t have enough time to process it before the next one came, and the next one.

After what could have been hours but was probably only a few minutes, Crowley was on the ground curled up in a small ball. He felt weak, powerless, unprepared. He heard his father’s loud footsteps retreat and leave him there alone. How could he have been so stupid? Crowley was such an idiot to think that this relationship could ever work out. Aziraphale had even warned him, that first night at the park. This. Can never. Work, he had said. Crowley should have listened. But he was so desperate for Aziraphale’s soft touches, small smiles, his whole existence. But it was something he could never have.

This was all wrong, he knew from the beginning it was. A guy could never love another guy and he should just go back to dating Eden. Right.

Oh good lord he was lying to himself he needed to call Bennie. Crowley propped himself up on one arm and stood up shakily. His dad had gone downstairs, to he headed the opposite direction, up to his room. His phone where was his phone… Crowley pulled the small rectangle from his jean pocket. I miracle it hadn’t broken, really. He sat on his bed and draped the black comforter over his shoulders. He didn’t want to check, but he knew he had bruises. His arm ached for any kind of relief, but he pushed any thought of the pain into the dark corners of his mind, along with all his visions of Aziraphale.

He turned on his phone and went to text Aziraphale he was okay, even though he wasn’t, really. He scrolled through his contacts. Hastur, Ligur, Beelzebub, Dagon, his dad too, Bennie… what? He re-read all the names again. Aziraphale wasn’t there. He wasn’t… why wasn’t his contact on his phone anymore? He had saved it! Ugh, took the time to memorize his address but not his number? You stupid, stupid idiot, Crowley. Instead, he texted Bennie.

snazzysnek: hey ben whats up

bentleyboi: nothing much! You?

snazzysnek: nothing important hey can i talk w/ u

bentleyboi: sure! im always here if u need me crowley dont worry

snazzysnek: okay awesome so heres the thing
snazzysnek: i
snazzysnek: am not
snazzysnek: entirely
snazzysnek: well actually not at all
snazzysnek: straight
snazzysnek: exactly

bentleyboi: ha! yes i knew it

snazzysnek: what how did you know

bentleyboi: rumorsssss

snazzysnek: right right well anyway i think my dad is ready to kill me and i need you to pass on my will and testimate

bentleyboi: who is it?

snazzysnek: what?

bentleyboi: who did you lose your straight-ness to? ;)

snazzysnek: did you not just read my last text

bentleyboi: who

snazzysnek: no

bentleyboi: tell me

snazzysnek: no

bentleyboi: Crowley Ashtoreth tell me who you’re gay for right now

snazzysnek: Aziraphale Fell.

bentleyboi: HA!! Yes i knew it

snazzysnek: sure
snazzysnek: anyway any advice

bentleyboi: no sorry

snazzysnek: what come on

bentleyboi: sorry! i dont have much experience with this tbh

snazzysnek: bennieeeee
snazzysnek: please
snazzysnek: help
snazzysnek: i actually think i might die here

bentleyboi: fine ill help you

snazzysnek: thank u

bentleyboi: np
bentleyboi: hey if it works out between u 2 can i plan the wedding?

snazzysnek: Ben!!!

bentleyboi: sorry sorry
bentleyboi: but not really
bentleyboi: alright so what do you need

snazzysnek: i dunno just… help

bentleyboi: with what

snazzysnek: idk just… life idk! i need my dad to not kill me and maybe possibly get az to be my boyfriend under the radar?
snazzysnek: possibly?
snazzysnek: not a requirement i just need to make sure my dad doesnt turn all… you know...

bentleyboi: satan mode? yeah, dont worry i got you covered crowman
snazzysnek: okay okay good
snazzysnek: actually i may be serious about that boyfriend thing could you maybe…
snazzysnek: pull some strings?

bentleyboi: >:)
bentleyboi: will do crowman

snazzysnek: oh and er the eden thing
snazzysnek: please stop her
snazzysnek: she can be quite frightening some times

bentleyboi: yeah yeah i’ll take care of that too
bentleyboi want me to part the sea while im at it??

snazzysnek: that would be really cool
snazzysnek: just the dad thing tho
snazzysnek: minimum
snazzysnek: please
snazzysnek: i'm really struggling here my arm hurts…
snazzysnek: *wheeze*

bentleyboi: omg crow are you ok?? what happened

snazzysnek: ahahahahaha
snazzysnek: yeah im fine nvm goodnight its late

bentleyboi: good night, lover boy

snazzysnek: eheh gnight ben ;)

Crowley sighed and sunk deeper into his pillows. It was going to be alright, he was sure. Besides, there was always Monday. Seven whole hours away from home, that would be fine. Of course, his dad would be at school doing whatever a vice principal did but it would certainly be better than any one-on-one. Crowley shut his eyes and dreamt of sordid, sweet things he would prefer to keep classified.

---

“You’re not going to school today, Crowley.” Lucifer snarled in Crowley’s ear. It was morning, he didn’t know how early but the sun was decidedly up.

“What?” Crowley mumbled and rubbed his eyes awake. His father was looming above him holding the phone in his hand. Oh shit. “The hell, Dad, you read my texts?”

“I did and you aren’t going.” Lucifer slammed the phone hard on the desk and Crowley winced. That was sure to leave a crack. He sat up, leaning against one arm. The arm that wasn’t throbbing quite painfully at the moment, that is.

“You can’t just keep me from school. It’s required by law!”

“What do you know about law, Crowley?”

“Nothing, but I need to go to school! I promised Az-- I have to go.”

“No, you’re staying here.” Lucifer turned on his heel and left the room. Downstairs, he heard the loud creak of the front door and the locking of a key.

Well, shit. His dad had locked him inside. This was… great. On the plus side, he didn’t have to go to school so that was nice. But on the other hand… he had promised Aziraphale “Monday.” This was not an ideal situation…

And what the hell was there to do? Crowley glanced around the room, sleep still blurring his vision. Whatever I want. A small smile creeped up his face. A slightly evil smile, but a smile nonetheless.

---

Crowley dug through a bin of books in the basement. It had to be here somewhere… aha! There it was. He held a fairly large blue and red book in his hands. On the cover it said “Terreville High 2018-2019” Perfect, this should have a picture. Crowley leafed through the pages, looking at the sophomore section. George Fair, Carol Farrell, Jason Fernandez, Gabriella Foreward…. Why wasn’t there a Fell?

Oh. Oh wow Crowley was an idiot. He just -- he just moved here, good lord. Crowley threw the yearbook across the room and sighed. Facebook, there might be something… on Facebook. Crowley grabbed his phone and turned it on, opening the app. Again, it hadn’t been cracked. Either miracles were real or Crowley just had a very indestructible phone.

He clicked the search bar and typed “Terreville High.” Scrolling through he saw several pictures of the school’s extracurricular clubs. Student council, debate team, basketball, cheer, soccer. Oh, hey there was Crowley. How nice. He stood stiffly, with his arms behind his back. Lucifer had one large paw on his shoulder. It was, as Crowley knew, weighing him down, like he always seemed to be. Crowley shook his head and continued scrolling until he reached newspaper. Finally, he thought. Sure enough, there he was.

The picture couldn’t have been taken long ago. Who Crowley could only assume was Gabriel, Uriel, and the rest of them were standing front and center, very much in charge. Aziraphale was seated on the corner. His round face seemed a bit confused and surprised at the time the picture was taken.

Crowley smiled a bit. Aziraphale looked so cute like that. He took a screenshot so he had the image on his phone and set the device down. What else was there to do? He glanced over at Anthony in his terrarium. When was the last time he fed him? Should probably do that now…

Crowley crept back downstairs to receive a mouse from the freezer. He looked around at the fridge’s contents and sighed. Not much left. An apple here and there, and several of his father’s beer cans. Crowley shook his head and took an apple and the bag of mice to his room.

He gently placed the rodent in Anthony’s terrarium and sat on his bed, chewing on the apple. So many hours, nothing to do… Crowley usually looked down upon school. Sure, it has its perks. A getaway from home, people his own age, cute boys, erm. Other things. But now he would give just about anything to go back.
---

Crowley’s heart nearly stopped when he heard the doorbell ring. People shouldn’t be coming over. His dad was still at work. Murderer, Crowley thought. This was it, this was the end. He scrambled to his bedroom door and locked it. The doorbell rang again. Wait a second, murderers don’t ring the bell. Do they? Crowley peeked out the door to peer downstairs. He almost came down, until he had another thought.

What if the person at the door was one of those people who tried to convert you to their religion? Oof, that would be awkward. Then again…, he could mess with them. Crowley smiled wickedly, put on a brave face, and sashayed down the steps.

At the door stood a woman dressed in all green and a fairly large, black hat with a peacock feather. Crowley visibly relaxed. It was his Aunt Gaia. She held her bag in front of her and gave Crowley a pleasant smile.

“Hello Crowley, dear, is your father home?” She asked.

“Oh, er, no, he’s at work right now.” Crowley’s eyes darted around the doorway. “Would you like to come in?”

“Oh! Yes, if you would be so kind.” Crowley nodded and stepped aside. Aunt Gaia daintily walked inside, glancing at the interior.

“Mhm, well we’ll have to clean the place up a bit, but it’s nice enough.” Aunt Gaia commented.

“Er, I’m sorry, but what exactly are you doing here?” Crowley asked. He shut the door, making the room just that much darker.

“Oh, yes, right.” Aunt Gaia turned to face Crowley. She tried to hide a little smile as she swayed excitedly. After a moment of dramatic pause, she did a single-handed jazz hand and announced, “I’m moving in!” Crowley’s eyes widened.

“I’m sorry, what?”

Aunt Gaia nodded happily. “Yes! You see, my apartment just got so much more expensive and I needed some time to save up for a new one! I’m sure your father said something…”

“Well, obviously he didn’t.” Crowley said bitterly.

“Aren’t you supposed to be at school?” Aunt Gaia set her things down by a large stack of boxes.

“Yeah er… bit complicated.” Crowley winced. “Kinda in trouble.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No.”

“Okay, how about you show me your room then? It’s been so long.” Aunt Gaia tilted her head and smiled. Crowley nodded and gestured up the stairs.

“This way,” he said. The stairs were old and creaked loudly when you stepped on them. But Crowley knew certain spots that allowed sneaking downstairs easier. When they reached the door, Crowley opened it and revealed his quite messy room. The walls were a dark red and most everything else was the same or black. The aesthetic was nice, when you got used to it.

“Oh, it’s lovely!” Aunt Gaia said. Crowley sat back down on his bed and sighed to release the anxiety from before. “So.” Aunt Gaia sat beside him and put her hands in her lap. “Considering you don’t have school and I’m here, what do you want to do?”

Crowley shook his head and laid against his pillow. He took his phone from the bedside table and turned it on, flipping back to the screenshot of Aziraphale. “Nothing.” He mumbled. “Just leave me alone. Please.” Best to be polite with Aunt Gaia.

“Oh, well, okay.” She attempted a small smile but her disappointment was clear. “What are you up to on your phone, then?” Crowley glanced up and pulled the device closer to his chest, concealing the screen.

“Doesn’t matter. Nothing of interest.” He waved her off. “You should… start unpacking. Or something.”

“Oh come on give me that.” Aunt Gaia snatched Crowley’s phone out of his hand with a smile and looked at the screen mischievously.

“Hey!” Crowley panicked. “Give that back please!” He tried to grab it back but Aunt Gaia moves it out of his reach, still peering at the screen.

“Ooh I see. Who this then?” Crowley blushed furiously. He tried to rub the red away but Aunt Gaia had already seen.

“Nobody, just please<\i> give it back!” Crowley unsuccessfully attempted another grab.

“This your boyfriend then?” She asked, pointing at Aziraphale’s adorably shocked expression in the photo. I wish,<\i> Crowley thought. He shook his head before any more thought could come through.

“No! Just please…”

“Oh, alright.” Aunt Gaia returned his phone. Crowley closed out with a sigh.

“Guess you know why I’m in trouble then…” he grumbled. Aunt Gaia’s kind face took on a surprised look.

“What? That’s why… because you have a picture of someone on your phone, well that’s just bullshit, isn’t it!” Crowley laughed a little bit, still looking down at his black comforter.

“Yeah, guess it is. That’s not exactly why though…” Crowley started to tell her everything. It had all just slipped out. Luckily, she never seemed absolutely scandalized or anything. She took it all rather well. Better than his father did, anyway.

Crowley stopped talking when he got to the part about the beating. That wouldn’t end well for him or his dad. So he wrapped it up shyly.

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.” Aunt Gaia wrapped Crowley in a tight and secure hug. He didn’t get many of those. “I’m going to have firm talking to with my brother when he gets home,” she concluded.

“What, no, you can’t.” Crowley shook his head and pulled away. “That will do so much more harm than good, just please don’t say anything about it,” he pleaded.

“Well, alright then. I’ll let you get on with your business then.” Aunt Gaia strutted out of the room leaving Crowley to do what he pleased. That was good, he figured. Right? Yes, that was definitely best. Crowley didn’t want his Aunt involved in any situations she didn’t need to be involved in. Then again, it might have been nice to have someone to talk to...

No, no Crowley would be fine. He nodded to himself, and grabbed back his phone where Aunt Gaia had left it. There was a text notification on the front page.

bentleyboi: oi crow why arent u at school?? your boyfriends really worried about u. hes been asking everyone.

Aziraphale had been asking everyone? About him? Crowley’s heart gave a little flutter of excitement. It was quickly broken when he remembered his father’s punishment and words...

snazzysnek: hes not my boyfriend

bentleyboi: right right sure ;) but really tho WHERE R U?!?

snazzysnek: dad kept me home so yeah not much I can do

bentleyboi: is that legal?

snazzysnek: idk

bentleyboi: well. az’s behavior is quite concerning so please return at your earliest convenience thank you next.

snazzysnek: will do

bentleyboi: gr8

---

Crowley’s stomach did a little cartwheel when he heard the doorknob turn. He and Aunt Gaia were sitting on the couch. She was properly poised and prepared to face her little brother. Crowley, on the other had was gripping a pillow quite tightly and gave the impression of a rather frightened tortoise, attempting to close in on himself and hide.

“What’s this all about then?” Lucifer growled, shutting the door. Crowley gave an awkward wave as Aunt Gaia stood curtly.

“Crowley has something he needs to talk about.” She said.

“Actually I really don’t think I need—“ Crowley’s words were interrupted by an urgent sound of iron knocking on wood. “Nobody move.” He said. “I’ll get it.” He got up and practically ran to the door.

Please, please, please be—

“Aziraphale?” Crowley allowed only his left side to be shown. The less, the better. But all that really mattered was that he was here. Right now. That’s all Crowley could ask for right now. Suddenly, he felt a heavy hand on his shoulder. Crowley gulped.

“Crowley. Crowley. Are you okay? My darling…”

The hand tightened and Crowley winced, trying not to let the pain show through his face. He knew what he had to say. It would all be better this way, anyway. Crowley took a deep breath and mumbled the words.

“’M not your darling.” Crowley started to shut the door again. He should get this over with. But Aziraphale kept his foot between the door and the frame and wouldn’t allow the door to shut. Crowley was a little surprised at the smallest hint of relief he felt. Just one more moment with Aziraphale...

“Crowley! Wait. What’s wrong? Are you okay?” Aziraphale said. His concern melted Crowley’s heart but he couldn’t allow this anymore.

“I’m sorry, angel. This… I can’t…”

Lucifer tightened his grip again, digging deeper into Crowley’s bruises. He let out a small sound but hid it best he could.

“We can’t be together anymore.” Aziraphale said. The softness and hurt in his voice almost sent Crowley over the edge. He blinked away any beginning of tears.

“I’m sorry.”

Crowley shut the door and looked up at his father who nodded sharply and turned away.

“I think I’ll go to bed, actually.” Crowley said to anyone who might listen. Lucifer grunted.

“You’re going back to school in the morning.” He said. Crowley pauses halfway up the stairs.

“Really?”

“Yes.” Lucifer took a tight hold on the couch’s side. Crowley could see the veins through his arms show.

“Thank you.” Crowley whispered. He ran up the steps and into his room, collapsing on his bed with a wide smile.

He hoped Aziraphale would understand.

Chapter Text

Aziraphale couldn’t sleep. His dreams were awful and plentiful, waking him up every few hours.

In one, Crowley sneered at him and told him that there had never been anything between them. Then he changed into a snake and bit Aziraphale’s fingers off.

In another, Crowley had completely disappeared from the face of Terreville. When Aziraphale asked Anathema where he’d gone, Anathema asked him who Crowley was, and then sent him to the school counselor, who sent him away to a horrible old-fashioned asylum.

In his most terrifying dream, Crowley kissed him and kissed him and whispered, I love you, and then his father took him away and changed him into a helpless, squirming worm before Aziraphale’s eyes. “It’s what he deserves,” said Lucifer, an ugly smile twisting his lips. “Now do what’s right, angel.” Aziraphale couldn’t stop himself as he brought his foot up above Crowley’s twisting form. The moment before he killed his gorgeous, yellow-eyed Demon, Lucifer laughed cruelly. “What a good boy you are. What a good boy.”

Aziraphale watched the sun rise from his bedroom window, the pale rays filtering through the glass and washing over his walls. He wondered if somewhere, Crowley was watching the sun rise, too.

“Hi,” he said to the sun, just in case. Aziraphale felt utterly ridiculous talking to some flaming star miles and miles away in empty space, but it made him feel comforted, somehow. “If Crowley’s out there… keep him safe. Please.”

“Okay,” said the sun. Aziraphale blinked. Maybe he should be sent to an asylum, after all. Hearing the sun talk was a certain sign of madness. “Do you want to pick him up from school today?” Oh. Not the sun. Just his dad talking on the phone in the hallway.

“Who’s picking me up?” Aziraphale shouted.

“Your mom!” Mr. Fell shouted back.

Aziraphale nodded and got dressed, Lucifer’s laugh echoing over and over in his skull.

---

Aziraphale sat alone in homeroom, Newton noticeably absent, wanting badly to see Crowley’s tawny eyes. Why had Crowley broken up with him? Had there been anything to break up, anyway? Aziraphale found that he hoped for that, painfully. That there was something there. That there would be something there, something filled with lazy kisses in the warm sunshine, and dances at prom, and holding hands in school, and giggly awkard dates.

Aziraphale,” said Anathema from next to him. “Earth to Aziraphale. Hello.”

“Sorry!” Aziraphale was snapped out of his daydreams and placed firmly into reality. Anathema was frowning at him, arms crossed, but her eyes seemed hopeful.

“Your boyfriend is by his locker. Go say hi to him before school starts.” Anathema grabbed Aziraphale’s arm and tugged him out of his chair. Aziraphale yelped in protest, but quieted as soon as Anathema’s words registered.

“Crowley? Crowley’s not my boyfriend.”

Anathema grinned and pushed him out the door. “Well, go fix that!”

Aziraphale stumbled into the hallway as Anathema shut the door behind him. He walked to Crowley’s locker - no, he floated, heart thudding in his ears with every dreamlike step. Fear churned in his stomach (what if Crowley hated him? What if Crowley was injured?) and mixed with giddy excitement (what if Crowley loved him? What if Crowley apologized and kissed him, right there by his locker?)

The familiar lanky figure, topped by a fluff of rusty hair, was standing in front of his long blue locker. Just where Anathema said he’d be. Aziraphale shoved his hands in his pockets, suddenly bashful.

“Crowley?”

Crowley spun on his heels, looking more defensive than Aziraphale had ever seen him. Aziraphale didn’t miss the way he angled one of his arms away, as if hiding or protecting an injury. The thought of an injured Crowley made Aziraphale want to punch his injurer in the nose.

“Oh. A-Aziraphale.” Crowley grinned lopsidedly, but it had none of the lazy glee of a few days ago, when they’d chatted and flirted between kisses. His grin looked frightened. It looked nervous. It looked upset.

“Are you okay? What - what happened? Are we really…?” Aziraphale took a step towards him and Crowley squirmed closer to his locker. The hall was somehow empty. Had school started, and Aziraphale was just too wrapped up in their awkward conversation to notice?

“Shut up,” said Crowley through gritted teeth. “Go away.”

“Crowley, please,” said Aziraphale.

Crowley’s shoulders inched towards his ears, biting his lip nervously. “You heard me. I’m going to - I’m going to go.”

Aziraphale reached out and grabbed Crowley’s arm. Crowley made a tiny squeaking noise, wriggling away. “Angel!” he exclaimed.

“Is your arm hurt? Are you okay, darling?” The darling had slipped out before Aziraphale could even think. He remembered Crowley’s stinging comment. ’M not your darling.

“I’m not hurt. Shut up! Stop talking to me. Please.” Crowley looked both ways down the hallway.

“Are you sure?” Aziraphale grabbed for Crowley’s arm again and ended up accidentally hitting him as he tried to wriggle away. Crowley winced. “You are hurt. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m not hurt.”

“You are. Did your father -” Aziraphale reached for Crowley’s hand instead.

“I’m fine,” said Crowley, letting Aziraphale take it. A surprising but pleasant development. “Soccer. I hurt it during soccer. See, angel, nothing to worry about…”

“What’s happening?” said Aziraphale softly.

Crowley didn’t look like he was going to answer for a long while. He tapped his foot, took off his sunglasses and polished them with his shirt, opened and closed his locker. Then he gestured Aziraphale closer.

Aziraphale didn’t remember walking to Crowley, but all of a sudden, the distance between them went from about a foot to a few inches. Aziraphale’s breath caught. Please, please, please…

Crowley slipped a hand behind Aziraphale’s neck, brushing his jaw slightly. His mouth was ever so close to Aziraphale’s face, and Aziraphale parted his own lips, silently begging Crowley to kiss him.

“Goodbye, angel,” whispered Crowley tenderly. And then he let go.

Aziraphale watched him walk away, his heart numb, unable to comprehend anything but that almost-kiss. Then he thought about everything, very fast. Crowley’s injury. His dodginess about his dad. The way he refused to address their heartbreaking exchange at Crowley’s house. His quiet “angel,” as if it was an admission of… of something.

The bell rang.

---

That afternoon, Aziraphale’s mom drove him to her house, which was located right outside of Terreville proper. “How was school today, honey?”

“Fine,” Aziraphale muttered, mind still racing from his and Crowley’s tense conversation that morning.

“What’s wrong?” His mom swerved around a tall white truck. Aziraphale’s relationship with his mom was so different than with his dad. He loved them both, unequivocally and equally, but he thought of his dad as Mr. Fell and his mom as simply Mom.

“Nothing. Nothing’s wrong.”

Mom tapped a finger against her steering wheel. “You think I can’t tell, sweetie? Your dad told me about your boy.”

“Crowley’s not mine. He made that pretty clear.” But did he? Aziraphale remembered the kiss that wasn’t a kiss.

“Metra told me that your boy’s dad isn’t as accepting as he could be,” said Mom. If anybody who didn’t know her personally heard her, they would call her voice monotone. But Aziraphale knew better - this was Mom’s chilliest, and he loved her for it.

“Yeah.” Aziraphale pictured Crowley’s arm, the way he blocked it against the locker. “I really like him, Mom. But I don’t know if he likes me, or if - if he’s even okay - or if, maybe…”

Mom was silent for a while. “Do you love him?”

“That’s a big word.”

“I know.” Mom ran a hand through her greying hair. “You don’t need to answer now. Did something happen with him today, sweetie?”

“No. Yeah.” Do you love him? Aziraphale didn’t know. “He missed school yesterday. I was so worried - so worried that - you know. But he was in today! And I went to say hi to him, and he was acting… really weird.”

“Like what?”

“Like his arm was injured. And I asked him, and he was being weird about it. And he…”

Mom looked over to him, eyebrows raised. “He kissed you?”

Aziraphale’s face went hot. “No! He didn’t kiss me. He’s never - he hasn’t - he didn’t kiss me! He kind of, acted like he was going to. But he didn’t.”

“Do you think his dad hurt him?”

“I think so,” he said quietly. “I really, really hope not.”

A troubled silence descended on the small car. The only sounds were Aziraphale and his mom’s synchronized breathing and the old engine rumbling softly.

“Where does he live?” Mom asked.

“I can’t go there, Mom, that’s weird. Dad took me this weekend.” Aziraphale thought privately how similar she was to Mr. Fell. He wasn’t at all similar to Crowley. But maybe that was why his parents’ marriage hadn’t worked out.

“Are you worried about him?”

“Yeah,” Aziraphale admitted.

“What’s his address? I have a bone to pick with his dad. I might call the police on him, honestly…” Aziraphale’s mom veered over to a parking lot and handed Aziraphale her phone. “Put it into Maps.”

Aziraphale opened his messages with Anathema and numbly copied the address into his mom’s phone. “Here.”

“Starting route…” said the GPS robotically.

---

They pulled up and Aziraphale rushed to the doorway, sick to his stomach with the worry that had been building up the entire car ride. He knocked on the door.

“Hello?” said a decidedly feminine voice. “Crowley, are you home?”

“No.” Had Crowley brought a girl over? Was this why he’d broken things off between them?

“What?”

“I’m not Crowley,” Aziraphale clarified.

The door opened, revealing a ginger-haired woman with a bright red smile. Her hair was coiled at her neck, strands escaping and floating around her head like a wildly confused halo. She was wearing a fluffy white bathrobe over a light green, calf-length dress and tall black socks. The woman pushed her leopard-print glasses farther up her freckled nose and squinted at Aziraphale.

“Hey. You’re my nephew’s boyfriend. Nice to meet you, I’m his aunt Gaia.” The woman held out a hand with matte black nail polish dark on her fingernails.

“His boyfriend?” Aziraphale stammered. “Well, uh… did he say that to you?”

“It was pretty obvious,” Gaia said, shrugging. “The way he talked about you… oh shoot, you don’t know? Sorry! Sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.” Gaia winked.

Aziraphale flushed, thinking about Crowley’s caramel-soft words and indulgent kisses before he remembered the situation Crowley could be in. “Is he okay?”

“I don’t know,” Gaia admitted.

“His dad… I mean, I don’t know…”

“That’s why I’m here,” said Gaia. “Wait. Don’t tell anybody that. It’s not really common knowledge. But Crowley seems to be rather fond of you, and it would be good to have somebody on my side…” Gaia tugged on a strand of hair, teasing it out of the bun and twisting it into a knot.

Aziraphale looked at the floor.

“Come in,” Gaia welcomed. “Seltzer?”

“No, thank you. I’m not feeling well,” said Aziraphale as he stepped inside Crowley’s darkened house.

“Haven’t figured out the lightswitches, sorry.” Gaia stepped through a doorway and returned holding a plastic lantern. “This way,” she said, and went through a different door. Aziraphale followed the bobbing light to a dining room, adorned with a large wooden table and small chairs pushed up against it.

Gaia set the lantern on the table in the half-dark room and sat down. “Make yourself at home,” she offered. “Although it’s not technically my home.”

“Thanks,” said Aziraphale, feeling slightly creeped out but also very intrigued. Someday, his father always told him, his curiosity would get the best of him.

Gaia leaned forward, the lantern light casting flickering shadows across the shallows and curves of her face, giving her a sinister and monstrous look. “Crowley’s mom isn’t dead,” she whispered.

Aziraphale blinked. “But… that’s not…”

Gaia leaned back, giving Aziraphale room to breathe, and crossed her arms. “My brother has always been our father’s favorite.” Aziraphale could tell that a long and epic story was quickly incoming, and he settled back to listen.

“He is three years older than me, the prized only son of our family. We have a younger sister, too - her name is Persephone, and she lives in Norway for work during the winter. Our mother died shortly after Perry was born, from a horrible and slow-moving cancer. After her death, our father was never the same.

“He became cold and capricious - you know what capricious means?” Gaia switched suddenly from her enchanting story-telling tone to a more modern and normal voice.

Aziraphale nodded. Capricious was a beautiful word, sounding like it should have the clipped wings of a falcon in flight, one of his favorites. “‘Given to sudden and unaccountable changes of mood or behavior,’” he recited.

Gaia nodded and returned to her story-telling mode. “That’s a good way to put it. Our father would go from cheerfully throwing a frisbee around in our yard to screaming at us that we were failures. All of us but my brother. Lucifer practically worshipped our father - whether it was because he remembered happier days or because he simply needed a strong male figure in his life, I don’t know. But whatever the reason, Lucifer had the best relationship with our father of our family.

“When I met Cheryl Crowley, everything seemed better. I was eighteen, Lucifer was twenty one. Our father was ready to send me to the nearby community college. He forbid me from applying to any college outside a thirty-minute drive. I don’t know why I listened to him. But I did, and for a long time, happiness felt a very long way away.

“And then Cheryl transferred into our high school. She was - is - was absolutely wonderful. Like a ray of warm sunshine in the dead of winter.”

“You loved her,” Aziraphale said. It wasn’t a question.

Gaia nodded, once. “I thought Lucifer would defend me, if my father ever found out. After all, we were siblings, and that had to mean something. But apparently, it didn’t. Not to my brother, and not when it came to my father.”

Aziraphale didn’t like where this story was headed.

“Lucifer told me that he was going to marry Cheryl. And if I spoke up, he would tell my father about our relationship.” Gaia’s eyes met Aziraphale’s. “What could I do? Our father wouldn’t have just hurt me. He would have hurt her, too.”

“So where’s Cheryl?” Aziraphale asked.

“I thought she’d died. I thought that car crash killed her and by some merciful stroke of luck, saved her son - your boyfriend.”

“Not my boyfriend,” muttered Aziraphale, although it didn’t seem too important.

“But I got this letter the other day. Look.” Gaia reached into her bathrobe pocket and handed it to Aziraphale. It appeared to be a grocery list, old and weathered, and spotted with brownish marks.

Honey. Mark. Baking soda. Eggs. Mark. Flour. Bacon. Lemons. Mark. Parsley. Mark.

Aziraphale turned it over, and ten numbers were scribbled in an illegible script, then a +2 underneath. “What does this mean?”

“It’s a cry for help,” said Gaia, very seriously.

Aziraphale didn’t burst out laughing, but only out of trained politeness. This spotted paper was an SOS? From whom?

“Cheryl and I were obssessed with codes. Especially the simple ones. The ones that everybody should see immediately, but you don’t, because you’re never expecting anything to be coded.” Gaia pressed the piece of paper onto the table, preventing the corners from curling in with the fingers of her left hand. With a black fingernail of her right hand, she tapped the marks in order.

“H. E. L…”

“Oh,” said Aziraphale. “Help. But if this is really a letter from Cheryl, where is she?”

“A mental hospital,” said Gaia.

“How do you figure?” said Aziraphale, excited despite the levity of the possibilities.

“The numbers. If you add two to each number and dial that phone number, you get the number to Ossium Mental Hospital, an institution that’s been taken to court several times for mistreatment of patients. But it’s used by the rich and powerful. What can you do against a state legislator, or a celebrity, or your boss?”

Aziraphale read over the list over and over again. Help. “You think Lucifer put her there.”

“I’m saying I wouldn’t put it past him,” said Gaia. “I just need proof, so I can report him to the police. And then -”

The door opened and footsteps sounded down the hall.

“Lucifer,” said Gaia. “I’m going upstairs. You have to go.”

Aziraphale bobbed his head, a promise that he knew he couldn’t keep. “Thank you, Gaia.”

“Call me Aunt,” Gaia said, and smiled. Then she disappeared through a dark door and left Aziraphale alone with the pale light of the lantern and the sounds of Crowley and his dad talking in the other room.

“Tell me you weren’t talking to that boy again, Crowley.”

“That boy is Aziraphale,” Crowley muttered, but it was loud enough that Aziraphale could hear it. And so could Lucifer.

“Do I look like I give a damn? Because, I can assure you I do not. Now answer me. Did you talk to him?”

“Yeah...”

“And?” Aziraphale, hiding behind a door, could just make out a dark shape of Crowley. He was holding his arms close to his chest and cowering. He looked like he might be close to tears. Aziraphale wanted so much to run up and wrap him in a hug. To tell him that everything was going to be okay.

But he couldn’t. Not yet, at least. Everything was most certainly not okay. He saw Crowley take a deep, shaky breath.

“I told him… goodbye.”

“Good.” Lucifer nodded. He extended a finger up the stairs and growled. “Go.” Crowley nodded and climbed the steps. Lucifer headed the other direction. Right towards Aziraphale. Oh no, he had to do something, fast.

Aziraphale quickly but quietly shut the door and held his breath. He heard Lucifer head to the kitchen and open the refrigerator. He took out something and opened it. By the sound of it, it seemed like some soda or beer. Aziraphale then heard Lucifer tromp upstairs.

He allowed himself to breathe and sneak back out of the stairwell behind the door. Aziraphale wanted to see Crowley, wanted it so badly. Despite their awkward interaction before.

Aziraphale heard Lucifer shout, “Stay in your room, and don’t come out until tomorrow morning. You hear me?”

“Sure, Dad,” said Crowley, and Aziraphale didn’t think he imagined the wry sarcasm laced in his voice. Thankfully, Lucifer didn’t notice. A door slammed, probably (hopefully) Lucifer’s, and Aziraphale exhaled loudly.

He should go home. He was sure his mom had driven to her house already, because of the text he’d sent earlier. But Crowley… Crowley

Without a thought, Aziraphale found his feet climbing the stairs, as silently as he could. Crowley. Crowley…

Which room belonged to Crowley, anyway? Aziraphale thought about knocking on the doors, but it sounded like a bad idea. It was probably safe to say that the long hallway to the right was Lucifer’s wing, while the several doors dotting the hallway to Aziraphale’s left was Crowley’s smaller, more crowded section of the house.

“Crowley?” he muttered. He softly tapped his knuckles to one of the doors. It seemed like a solid Crowley bet, because there was an unreadable wooden sign nailed to the door that might have said Crowley on it. If only the lights were on.

“Dad?” said a voice from the other side of the door.

“It’s me,” whispered Aziraphale. “Please.”

Crowley opened the door. He was wearing a black nightshirt and comfortable-looking sweatpants. They looked so cozy Aziraphale wanted to reach out and pet him, although that seemed pretty inappropriate, considering. “How are you here?” Crowley asked. “If my dad found out… shit.”

“I can leave. If you want,” Aziraphale offered.

“No. No, angel, please, just…” Crowley grabbed his arm and pulled him inside the room, shutting the door silently.

Aziraphale stumbled inside, looking around. It was, thankfully, much brighter than the hallway, and he could see Crowley’s face much better. He looked tired. Upset. Scared.

“Crowley. Please. What’s happening?”

“Dad made me say all that. Before. I - you know, all the - I’m sorry.”

Aziraphale looked around. Crowley’s room was the definition of minimalist, and Aziraphale wondered if it was because he preferred it that way or if his dad didn’t let him decorate it. His bed (not that Aziraphale was paying special attention to it) was covered in a black comforter and red-hemmed pillows. A soccer trophy shimmered atop an empty bookshelf, and a framed picture of a woman, a man, and a young child was hung on the wall.

Aziraphale almost missed the table pushed against a wall, holding a glass tank and a coiled snake. He looked at it for a few seconds, warily.

“Aziraphale?” Crowley asked.

“I… darling?” Aziraphale tried, remembering Crowley’s words that weekend.

Yes, yes, angel, I’m… well, if you want me…?”

Aziraphale grabbed the back of Crowley’s head and kissed him, desperately, open-mouthed and searching. Crowley let out a small gasp of surprise but quickly settled in to the kiss. “Mmph,” Aziraphale managed.

Crowley broke off the kiss after a few seconds, gasping for breath. “You like me?” he asked, which sounded like a ridiculous question to Aziraphale.

“Yeah, genius,” Aziraphale said, then immediately felt bad. Sarcasm was not his forté. “Er, I mean, of course I do, Crowley.”

“I like you too,” laughed Crowley. “But also, if my dad finds out you’re here, he’ll flip.”

“I can go.”

“Please don’t.” Crowley took Aziraphale’s hand and squeezed it tightly. It was as if he was holding on to some last bit of hope. One last chance of happiness. The thought made Aziraphale’s spine tingle.

Crowley kissed him again, cupping the nape of Aziraphale’s neck and holding him close. Aziraphale let Crowley move his lips against his own for a few long, sweet moments before gently moving his mouth away. “Are we just going to stand here and kiss?”

“You’d rather stand here and not kiss?”

Aziraphale grinned. This was one of the reasons he liked Crowley so much. He made Aziraphale feel brave. Reckless. Fearless. He took Crowley’s hand and led him to his bed, cocking his head and letting his smile grow.

“I’m not… not now,” Crowley sputtered, face so bright red Aziraphale wasn’t entirely sure he wasn’t actually a tomato.

“Not what I meant,” said Aziraphale, his own cheeks heating up. “Just. It would be more comfortable to sit down, maybe.”

Crowley nodded, still neon pink, and plopped down on his bed.

Aziraphale sat next to him, turning his head and kissing him lightly. “Your dad’s not going to come in here and kick me out of school, right?”

“I don’t think so.”

Aziraphale cautiously placed a leg over Crowley’s legs, kissing him passionately. Crowley yelped and pulled Aziraphale closer, so he was sitting completely on Crowley’s lap. “I really hope my dad doesn’t think to check on me,” he whispered.

Aziraphale wrapped his legs around Crowley and kissed him like it had been a thousand years since they’d seen each other, a thousand years of longing and loss.

“I love you,” said Aziraphale.

“Shh. Don’t talk.” Crowley said, pressing a single finger against Aziraphale’s mouth before kissing him again.

Chapter Text

Much later into the night, Crowley lay awake, staring at the moon just barely shining through his dark curtains. He was listening to Aziraphale’s gentle heartbeat and steady breathing.

His weight against Crowley’s chest made him feel safe, somehow. Despite the fact his abusive father was in the very next room. It was worth it, though, Crowley concluded. For Aziraphale. He didn’t want to disturb his rest, but Crowley still shook Aziraphale’s shoulder lightly, attempting to wake him up again.

“Aziraphale?” he whispered, shooting a quick glance at the door. He was still rather aware that Lucifer could step in at any moment and do any manner of things to them.

“Mmm?” Aziraphale’s head lifted from its previous position as he opened his eyes. They were hazel and beautiful, in Crowley’s opinion. He gave a small smile and touched their foreheads together. Aziraphale was still waking up, so he mumbled, slightly confused, as he spoke. “Wh- darling what are you doing in my room?” Crowley laughed a little.

“‘S my room, angel.”

“Oh.” Aziraphale closed his eyes again and started to drift back asleep. Crowley was prepared to shake him again when he shot up on his elbow and nearly shouted “Oh!”

“Shh!” Crowley urgently shushed him.

“Oh, sorry. Seem to have fallen asleep...” Aziraphale’s face lit up in alarm. “My dad! I didn’t… didn’t text...” Aziraphale blindly grasped for something -- probably his phone -- in the dark. Crowley put a hand on his arm.

“Texted him already. Sorry I used your phone...”

“You know my password?” Aziraphale still looked a little dazed, but the amusement on his face was unmistakable.

“Erm… it wasn’t that hard to figure out… I mean you’re you and the Dewey Decimal system… so… erm...” Aziraphale shook his head at kissed Crowley. Oh, thank god, Crowley shouldn’t have let him fall asleep. Then again, that would have been a bit rude. But still.

“That’s okay. I’ll change it later.”

“Bet I’ll find it out again, though.” Crowley winked, but he didn’t think Aziraphale could see it in the dark.

“I’ll sure you will. You’re smarter than you give yourself credit for, Crowley.” Crowley snorted. B-average was not, in any way, smart, but he would take it. His father was always telling him what a disappointment he was. Most teens were good at school or at sports. Sometimes both, like Gabriel on the basketball team and newspaper with Aziraphale. But Crowley wasn’t good at either of them. It wasn’t good for his arm or report card…

“Thanks, angel,” was the only thing he said.

“I love you,” said Aziraphale again. Crowley couldn’t quite believe his own brain - Aziraphale, Crowley’s Aziraphale, was telling him he loved him. And he’d said it before, too.

“I know,” said Crowley, then laughed out loud, because that had always seemed like such a jerk thing to say when Han Solo had said it in Star Wars. “I love you, too.”

“Good.” Aziraphale snuggled back onto Crowley’s chest.

“Wait. Wait I need to tell you something.” Crowley didn’t want Aziraphale to fall asleep again. Not yet, at least. He wanted to spend eternity just here in his bed, talking and kissing. It was fantastic, even though he knew that morning always had to come, sharp and blinding.

Just not yet.

“Mmm?” Aziraphale mumbled.

“Um, er...” Crowley glanced around his room. His vision landed on Anthony. Might as well. “Anthony.” he said.

“Pardon?”

“The snake. His name. It’s Anthony.”

Aziraphale smiled, and he was so close that Crowley could see it, even in the dark. “Why Anthony?” he asked.

“Oh, er.” Did he trust him enough to tell him this? He hadn’t told anyone, not even Bennie. But… this was Aziraphale. He wouldn’t talk about it, or think it was weird. Probably not, at least. Even thought it was rather strange. “It’s my name. My real one, I guess.”

“I thought your name was Crowley?” Aziraphale traced a gentle line from the tip of Crowley’s nose down to his chin. It was a silly, lazy, exhausted thing to do, but it made Crowley grin.

“Well yeah… but not many parents’ll name their kids after their last name, right? I just… sort of took it on. It’s a nice name, I think. You can call me whatever you want now though, I suppose. Just not in public. Still Crowley there.” Crowley should stop talking. He shouldn’t be saying any of this. It was ridiculous. He pressed his lips together to stop any other rants from emerging.

“Any other things you’d like me not to call you in public?” Aziraphale asked, playfully twirling a finger in Crowley’s ginger hair. “Sugar? Pumpkin? Other, non food-related pet names?” Crowley pretended to give this a bit of thought and smiled again. Aziraphale pressed his mouth to Crowley’s nose. “Sexy?” he purred, bursting into giggles after a few seconds. Oh, how Crowley loved him.

“Well, if you go on saying things like that, people may start to think we’re boyfriends.”

“Is that such a bad thing?”

Crowley looked longingly into Aziraphale’s hazel eyes. They always seemed to change color in different lights. Now they were a soft brown. His expression was gentle and kind, but also amused. Crowley couldn’t help it. He kissed his until he couldn’t breathe and finally pulled away to ask.

“Will you be my boyfriend then, Aziraphale?” he asked, his cheeks flushing from lack of air and the circumstances.

“Yes, please,” said Aziraphale. “On one condition.”

“What?” said Crowley, a lighting bolt of worry striking through his heart.

“Kiss me again like that, please.” So he did. Crowley wrapped his arms around Aziraphale and held him as tightly as he could. Don’t let this end, don’t let this end. He prayed. God, if his father came in right now, seeing Crowley completely tangled with Aziraphale, well… maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe Aziraphale could protect him. He was so much braver than Crowley, anyway. The way he was so confident with his love and how he showed it. Whereas Crowley always hid from his feelings and could never stand up to his father alone. Who was he kidding, that would be the worst possible thing to happen.

So Crowley endlessly kissed his boyfriend, absolutely content in light cast from the sunrise. The sunrise. Crowley’s eyes shot open as he quickly sat up, causing Aziraphale to groan a bit.

“Crowley… come back.” he mumbled. It was clear Aziraphale was nearly asleep again. His eyes were half-open and he stuck out his arm to search for Crowley’s form again. Crowley grabbed Aziraphale’s phone from the bedside table and turned it on. The clock read 6:20. Shit, shit, shit, how could he have been so selfish?

“You have to go.”

“What? No, I’m not leaving you.” Aziraphale was fully awake now. He started to sit up, the black comforter sit draped over his legs.

“Aziraphale, my dad wakes up in ten minutes, he can’t see you here.”

“No.” Aziraphale said. Crowley helplessly stood in the middle of the not-so-dark-anymore room. The light seeping through the curtains was growing, making Crowley more visible, and in his mind, vulnerable. His eyebrows were furrowed with worry and emotion. Aziraphale’s large phone in its pleasant white case lay in his extended palm.

Aziraphale got out of the bed and carefully walked towards Crowley. He pushed Crowley’s arm with the phone down as he stepped closer. “I won’t leave you again.” he said.

“My dad will catch us and--” Aziraphale shushed him, like Crowley had done before.

“Nobody will find us.” he promised. Crowley glanced at the phone again. 6:23.

“There’s not much time. We have to get ready for school too-- just leave now we’ll see each other in an hour anyway.” Crowley set the phone on the dresser and grasped Aziraphale’s hands, pulling them close to his chest. “I don’t want you to be hurt too.”

“Too?” Aziraphale asked.

“Hurt. I don’t want you to be hurt.” Crowley attempted to fix his misstatement, but it was too late. He knew Aziraphale had already heard.

“Crowley, does your dad hit you?”

“No,” Crowley lied. What Aziraphale didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. He couldn’t stand that thought. Which was exactly why he needed to get him out of this cursed house.

“Crowley...” Argh, he couldn’t stand that face Aziraphale gave him. It was like puppy dog eyes but six-thousand times worse.

“Fine! Yes, he does.” Crowley admitted, turning his head away in the direction on his right arm. It was badly bruised, and Aziraphale could see it in the now quite light room. “It’s nothing you need to worry about, I can handle it. But you need to leave.” Aziraphale stubbornly shook his head and gently pressed a hand against Crowley’s arm. He winced and Aziraphale quickly pulled away.

“It hurts. You need help. We can report him to the authorities, we can save everyone--”

“Angel stop it. There’s nothing you can do.” Crowley grabbed his shoulders and studied his face, as if trying to memorize every small dip and curve. “Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Of course, I trust you, why wouldn’t I--” Crowley stopped him with one last kiss and opened the nearby window. It was close to the floor, and Crowley had used it dozens of times to escape in the night. In fact, he had planned to leave that night, had Aziraphale not already shown up.

“I love you.” he said. Crowley pushed Aziraphale out the open window. His face broke Crowley’s heart before he fell. It was fearful and outraged. But this is what Crowley knew he had to do. He walked over to pick up Aziraphale’s things and tossed them out as well, a bit to the side of where he would have landed. The phone should be fine. Then he ran back to bed and threw the covers over his head. He fingered the boyfriend-less shape next to him and sighed. Only minutes later, his father came in and flickered the lights.

“Get up. You have soccer today.” Lucifer growled. He turned around and left the room. Crowley felt a small smile creep up his face. School and soccer first, sure. Then maybe Aziraphale would agree to another night next to him. Another night of warmth and comfort and… love. The word gave Crowley a small chill and made him smile wider as he got up to start the day.

This was all considering he didn’t die in the fall, of course.

Chapter Text

A sharp wind whipped around Aziraphale, tangling his already tousled hair. He was falling. Falling. He was going to die here. Oh well, it was a nice last night anyway. But he hadn't had time to respond to Crowley’s parting words. Oh no, he had to-- oh.

Aziraphale landed, rather roughly, on a sort of hammock thing near the ground. It was just high enough so he didn’t make contact with the dewy grass below. It wasn’t high enough, however, that it wasn’t uncomfortable.

Aziraphale breathed a sigh of relief. He was alive. And it was a school day, so he would see Crowley again in just an hour. The thought made a sly smile spread across his face.

Nobody in the whole world knew about that night. It was just for the two of them to enjoy. That was absolutely exhilarating.

He stumbled out of the hammock and on to the ground. Looking down, he realized his shoes were missing. He scanned the area, searching. All of a sudden, his things fell from what seemed the sky but could have only been Crowley’s room.

Aziraphale relaxed and put the shoes on, starting the walk home. Luckily his phone hadn't broken. He wasn’t sure his dad would get him a new one.

Aziraphale was already rather far away from the house when he looked back, just to see the window. Sure enough, Crowley was there, looking out. When he noticed Aziraphale saw him, he gave a little wave. Aziraphale waved back and ran the rest of the way home.

---
“Dad? I'm back!” Aziraphale called. He slipped through the bookshop to find his dad in the back. He was sleeping on several books. Aziraphale moved over to wake him up. “Dad?”

“Mhm? Oh, good morning, Aziraphale. Have a nice night?” Mr. Fell rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and focused more on his son.

“Yeah, I did.” Aziraphale blushed as he headed back up to his room.

“Ah, did you finish that book I gave you before?”

“No, not yet. Do you want it?” His dad occasionally had a habit of giving Aziraphale books he wanted to read himself.

“Yeah, thank you. Now get ready for school. The bus will be here in a few minutes.” Aziraphale nodded and ran up the old wooden steps.

Aziraphale took a glance at his bed when he got into his room. Crowley’s was so different and yet it had felt so… familiar at the same time. Like he had always slept there. Aziraphale shook off the feeling and went to get dressed in some proper clothes. He didn’t think going to school in his tartan pants and pale blue t-shirt would suffice. Aziraphale laughed at the thought and threw the pajamas on the bed.

He settled into a cozy gray sweater vest and beige pants. Perfect. He went to gather the discarded garments when he noticed a black… thing in his bed. Aziraphale nearly had a heart attack thinking it was Crowley.

On further inspection, however, it revealed itself to be a jacket. It was some kind of leather cloth-like material. Aziraphale picked it up and squinted at it. It surely wasn’t his, so the only possible option was that it was Crowley’s. Oh dear, he was probably missing it dreadfully. Best return it today then.

Aziraphale wished he could put it on, just for a moment. But he knew Crowley’s rather lanky body type would not produce any jackets in Aziraphale’s size. He frowned and lightly pinched the side of his stomach. He really needed to start eating less. Crowley was probably secretly thinking about how fat Aziraphale was underneath all the kind comments. He shook his head to clear the thoughts and set the jacket down.

Aziraphale gathered his backpack, stuffing his books and pencils in it quickly, before the bus arrived. He snatched up the book his father requested and picked Crowley’s jacket up again. He held the black material close to his chest as he ran back down the steps. Aziraphale set the book back on his father’s desk.

“Bye, Dad.” He said.

“Have a great day, son.” Aziraphale nodded and headed out the door. The sun was well up by now and the bus was pulling in. Its doors opened with a hiss and Aziraphale got on.

He was about to sit in his usual seat, right at the front, when he wondered. Did Crowley ride the same bus? Their houses (or bookshops) were fairly close by so… Aziraphale headed along the aisle, towards the back of the bus. It was were the sports kids usually sat. He glanced at all the seats, checking for his boyfriend. Sure enough, there he was. Crowley’s head lay against the window, asleep in the morning sunshine. Aziraphale smiled and sat next to him, trying not to wake him.

It had only just occurred to Aziraphale how tired he was. It wasn’t unbearable, but he wondered how many hours of sleep he must have gotten. More than Crowley, surely. He really shouldn’t shake him awake, but Aziraphale did anyway.

“Hey, it’s me.” He whispered. Crowley’s beautiful eyes were covered again, but Aziraphale saw Crowley’s consciousness slowly come back to him. He turned his head and lazily drawled.

“Morning, angel.”

“Thanks for pushing me out a window.” Crowley quietly laughed.

“No problem.” He rubbed his eyes behind his glasses but Aziraphale shook his head.

“No, you go back to sleep, you need to.”

“Oh, m’kay…” Crowley head dipped at bit before resting neatly on Aziraphale’s shoulder. On instinct, Aziraphale glanced around to see if anyone was watching. But he found himself not really caring about it too much. He smiled and laid a cheek on Crowley’s flame-red hair, shutting his eyes for a moment as well.

---

“Everyone off!” The bus driver said in his loud, slightly crude voice. It was lucky though for Aziraphale felt he had actually fallen asleep a few minutes then. He sat up and gently lifted Crowley from his seat, who grumbled in protest.

A steady stream of students began filing off. It appeared no one was looking at — or caring about — them, so Aziraphale took a deep breath and grabbed Crowley’s hand, yanking him to a standing position. By then most of the people who had been seated behind them were ahead, Aziraphale took the liberty of maintaining clasped hands on the way out.

The bus driver paid no attention to them as Aziraphale dragged Crowley’s still half-asleep existence onto the sidewalk.

“Thanks, angel, I think I’m good now.”

“Okay.” Aziraphale said, still making no attempt to let go.

“You can… leave now, if you want.” Oh dear, did Crowley not want his hand held? Aziraphale frowned and quickly pulled his hand away, cross his arms and holding them close to his chest.

“Sorry.”

“What? No, no it’s fine… I just thought you—“

“Aziraphale!” Someone said from several feet away. Aziraphale and Crowley turned their heads to see Gabriel jogging towards them. He was wearing a kind of work-out sweater thing and didn’t seem to be breaking too much of a sweat.

“Oh hello, Gabriel! What’s the matter?”

“Just wanted to tell you this edition of the newspaper is published. In case you want to see your work out in the real world, yeah?” Gabriel gave Aziraphale a good-hearted punch on the arm that probably hurt more than it should have. The editor-in-Chris only just seemed to notice Crowley attempting to shy away into the background. “I thought you already got the interview with this one?” He asked. Aziraphale’s face flared up a bit. Perhaps it was because of Gabriel’s offhand remark of referring to Crowley, Aziraphale’s boyfriend Crowley, as simply “this one.” Or maybe the worrying thought Gabriel had seen them holding hands only moments before.

“Erm…” Aziraphale struggled for an explanation.

“It’s none of your business, Gabriel.” Crowley’s eyebrows lowered, signaling a more threatening look. He had moved a bit more in front of Aziraphale now, facing Gabriel instead of attempting to remain invisible. Gabriel smirked and loomed over Crowley. Aziraphale grabbed his arm, in an attempt to run away with him if Gabriel did anything dreadful.

“Everything’s my business, Demon I’m the fucking editor in chief of the Angelic fucking Times.” Gabriel straightened his jacket’s collar. Crowley’s eyes remained narrowed as Aziraphale’s blush intensified.

“Well, lovely chat, Gabriel, best be off to class now! Don’t want to be late! Mind how you go!” Aziraphale chuckled awkwardly as he began to drag Crowley off towards the front doors. Gabriel remained glaring at them as they ran together to the steps.

---
“Don’t suppose your locker combination is the same as your phone then, eh?” Crowley said. He was leaning against one of the lockers beside Aziraphale’s, smirking playfully.

“Well, I suppose you could find out then, couldn’t you?” Aziraphale raised his eyebrows. “Not that I really have anything worth stealing.” He gestured to his still-open locker and it’s various school books. Also the little M ♡ G graffiti.

“What do you suppose those letters stand for then?” Crowley asked.

“No idea. You know… I wonder…” Aziraphale had a thought but he didn’t actually have a… oh. Crowley was fishing something out of his bag. He produced a sharpie marker and handed it to Aziraphale. “Thank you.” He leaned into the locker more and quickly scribbled “A ♡ C” in it. He handed the marker back to Crowley.

“Now you can’t return me.” Crowley said triumphantly. “That’s permanent marker, that is.” Aziraphale laughed.

“Indeed. See you in science, then?”

“Science.” Crowley nodded and sauntered away. Aziraphale beamed and headed to his own first period class.

---
“Oi, Aziraphale, wake up.” Mhm? Who had said that? Aziraphale quickly lifted his head from his arms and frantically glanced around the Language Arts classroom. He found Anathema’s wide eyes staring at him in the next seat over, obviously concerned.

“What? Oh, sorry.” Aziraphale whispered. Mr. Hamm was at the front, discussing the American Gods, the novel they were reading. Aziraphale had his copy under his arms, apparently having made a makeshift pillow for his head.

“It’s fine, I’ll share notes later.” Anathema assured him. She went back to her book as Mr. Hamm continued to drone on. Aziraphale did the same. He really needed to sleep, but this was school. He couldn’t just not pay attention. Aziraphale sighed and glanced at the clock. Only a few hours left until science. He could handle that. He nodded to himself and focused what was left of his attention on American Gods.

---
Finally. Aziraphale thought as he practically skipped to 5th period. Ms. Maxwell-Martin was writing a chemistry equation on the board when Aziraphale entered. He glanced at his table hopefully. Crowley wasn’t there yet. Aziraphale frowned and sat down, taking his books out of his bag.

Passing periods were only five minutes long, and three minutes had already gone. Aziraphale found himself wringing his hands, as he usually did when he was nervous. This was exactly what had happened on Monday. What if he went home? Or was skipping class? But he promised he’d be here at science. Then again, he had also promised to be at school on Monday, and he hadn’t done that. Aziraphale anxiously glanced at the clock. One and a half minutes until the bell. Come on, Crowley... Aziraphale pleaded to him as if they had some sort of telepathic connection. They didn’t, but it was a nice thought.

But as if Crowley had, indeed heard him, he came skidding through the door thirty seconds before he would be considered late. He was cradling his disarrayed notebooks and textbooks. A few people looked up at him, but most everyone remained focused on copying down the equation or talking. Aziraphale eagerly waved Crowley over.

“I was worried you wouldn’t come.” Aziraphale whispered after Crowley got settled in the leftmost chair.

“Of course I came, angel. I made a promise didn’t I?”

“Yes. Yes you did.” Aziraphale smiled gratefully and opened his notebook to record the equation. Crowley didn’t copy him, so Aziraphale sneakily stole his notebook with several loose papers scattered inside, and opened it for him. He placed it neatly in front of Crowley and went back to writing. It seemed Crowley hadn’t even noticed, though.

Mrs. Maxwell-Martin started with the lesson, and Crowley still hadn’t written anything.

“Are you alright, my dear?” Aziraphale placed a hand on Crowley’s forearm, hoping to get his attention. It worked, and Crowley’s head quickly shot up and he glanced tentatively at the hand on his arm. He visibly relaxed when he realized it was just Aziraphale.

“What?”

“I asked if you were alright. You haven’t written anything.” Aziraphale whispered. He gestured to Crowley’s blank page in his notebook.

“Right, sorry.” Crowley shook his head and picked up his pencil. It was one of those nice, mechanical ones. It was black, too, so it matched nicely with his aesthetic. Oh, his jacket! Aziraphale had completely forgotten to give it to him. It should still in his backpack. He would return it at lunch.

“Okay. Ask me if you need any help.” Aziraphale said. Crowley nodded and began copying the equation. Mrs. Maxwell-Martin started passing out packets for them to complete by the end of the period or for homework.

Aziraphale thanked her when he received his and took a look. It shouldn't be too hard. Mrs. Maxwell-Martin also said they were allowed to work with partners, a well appreciated ruling because it meant he could spend more time with Crowley.

Crowley, his boyfriend. Crowley, who he’d slept with - maybe not in that sense, but it had felt so absolutely wonderful to wake up in his arms, hear his strong and steady breathing like the beat of a soft drum.

He had dreamt of Crowley, that night: Crowley `ing against the skin of his neck, as they basked in the summer sun amongst red and yellow flowers. In his dreams, Crowley had kissed him like they’d been dating forever. Like it was a lazy June afternoon. Like they had all the time in the world.

“Aziraphale,” Crowley said, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Earth to Aziraphale.”

“Sorry.” Aziraphale smiled guiltily.

Crowley tapped his handout. “I’m not looking for any homework tonight, angel.”

“Why, you have a date?” Aziraphale quipped.

“Well, not at the moment.” Crowley smiled slyly, and Aziraphale wiggled farther into his seat. He liked this smile of Crowley’s an unreasonable amount. “But I could.” He waggled his eyebrows flirtatiously, which made Aziraphale giggle explosively.

“Hush up a little, boys,” said Ms Maxwell-Martin, glaring at them. Aziraphale shared a secret grin with Crowley.

Crowley leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desk. “Want to go out tonight? Our first real date.”

It was a wonderful thought. Them, together, out in the town. People would see them. “What if your dad…”

“Oh, he’s never at Bastille. He hates it. And nobody around there ever talks to him - please?”

He wanted to say yes. It was unbelievably difficult to say no to Crowley. “What about soccer?”

“I’ll ask Hastur - he’ll tell Dad I’m feeling bad. It’ll be fun.”

“Oh, all right.” Aziraphale desperately wanted to kiss him for as long as possible. “Uhh, I think the answer for number one is B.”

Crowley stared at him. “There’s no way you were thinking about that the whole time we were talking.”

“Well - I wasn’t -” Aziraphale felt his face go red. “Just looks right. It’s not going to be below twenty, and it’s got to be an even number.”

Stare.

“It could have been C, but it just didn’t look right.”

Stare.

“Check it,” said Aziraphale, feeling significantly less confident than he had before. “Please check it.”

He did, rather blankly, scribbling away for a few moments. “Shit.”

Aziraphale’s heart plummeted. “Oh. I’m wrong. Well, it could have -”

“You’re right.” Crowley shoved the paper over, the equation scribbled in the margins.

“I’m right.” Aziraphale grinned.

“If nobody was watching I would kiss you so much your lips would be sore,” said Crowley, laughing. “For underestimating yourself and for being brilliant and for being so freaking attractive.”

Aziraphale could do nothing but blush bright pink. “Y-you would?” he managed, squeaking.

“Abso-”

Boys,” repeated Ms. Maxwell-Martin, narrowing her eyes at them.

Absolutely,” Crowley whispered.

---

“Lunch,” said Aziraphale with a significant amount of relief. After chem he’d suffered through the lack of Crowley in geometry for forty-five minutes, daydreaming about Crowley’s fifth-period flirting (kissing!) and their upcoming date (kissing!!) and the night they’d spent tangled in each other’s arms (kissing!!!).

Aziraphale clutched Crowley’s jacket against his chest. It was slung over one arm, waiting to be taken back. Selfishly, Aziraphale wished he could keep it. Just one peice of Crowley to have whenever he was away. But that wouldn’t be very fair to Crowley. In his other hand, he swung his white lunchbox back and forth.

“Who are you talking to?” Anathema snapped. “I’m not paying attention. FYI.” Contrary to Aziraphale’s previous thoughts, she’d become more stressed since being fired from newspaper. It was just that she wasn’t sure what to focus it on. One moment she’d be hoping newspaper wasn’t cancelled because she wanted to be editor next year, the next moment she was worried about what the cafeteria was serving for lunch.

“Well, I was talking to you,” Aziraphale muttered, searching the room for Crowley.

Anathema took the ever-present pen from behind her ear and chewed on the end of it. “You looking for your ginger boy?”

“Yeah, you see him?”

Anathema raised an eyebrow and smiled mischievously. “He admits it, then.”

“Admits what? Whom?”

“You. Your boy. He is yours, isn’t he?”

Aziraphale felt uncomfortable, his palms sweaty, but strangely proud. “Yeah. He’s mine.” He ran a finger over his lips without thinking, remembering the feel of Crowley’s mouth.

“He is, oh my God! You’re absolutely whipped for him! Oh, he’s your boyfriend, isn’t he -” Anathema spotted Newton (Aziraphale assumed) and waved around in the air. “Come over here!”

Aziraphale was pleasantly surprised to see Crowley elbowing his way through the crowd. He stopped in front of Aziraphale and looked at him with a soft, sappy smile. “Hey, you.”

“Hi,” said Aziraphale, suddenly and inexplicably awkward. He glanced at the jacket. “Oh, this is yours. You forgot it, er, last time.” He handed the black mass to Crowley who smiled widely.

“You found it! Thanks, angel.” Crowley slid it on and faced Anathema again.

Anathema looked at Crowley with wide eyes. “Sooooo,” she said, dragging out the vowel.

“Mm?”

“You and him.” Anathema pointed at Aziraphale.

Crowley flushed. “Well, I - er, he’s quite - and, you, uh -”

“You don’t seem to have any words, so I’ll give you a few,” said Anathema, ignoring Aziraphale’s mortified expression. “Are you dating Aziraphale? Yes or no.”

“Hey! None of your business,” Aziraphale protested.

“Yes,” said Crowley.

“Called it.”

“Great. Now you know. Can we go?” Aziraphale asked, grabbing Crowley’s hand.

Anathema took the pen out of her mouth. “Sure, but I’m coming along. I’m not done yet.”

Aziraphale sighed, but didn’t protest as they made their way outside and under an old, knotty apple tree. He sat down and leaned into Crowley’s side, liking the way Crowley left a quick kiss on his head.

Anathema sat down beside them. “You guys kissed?”

“Mm-hmm,” said Crowley.

“Who else knows?”

“Nobody,” said Aziraphale. “So don’t feel badly.”

A nod from Anathema. “Who can I tell?”

“Newt,” said Aziraphale without hesitation.

“Bennie, should probably tell her.” Crowley repositioned himself against the tree’s rough bark. Aziraphale didn’t know who Bennie was. Maybe his old girlfriend? He wasn’t sure. “She’ll want to know she was right, of course.” Crowley added.

“Anyone who won’t tell his dad.” Aziraphale heard Crowley’s heartbeat suddenly quicken.

Anathema sobered. “I’m so happy for you. I’m sorry Lucifer isn’t.”

Aziraphale cuddled closer, offering Crowley a tooth-rottingly sweet smile to comfort him. “Mm.”

“Leaving you two alone now.” Anathema stood and walked away.

“Anybody watching?” Aziraphale asked. “I want to kiss you.”

He saw Crowley looking around the courtyard, and Aziraphale glanced around too. Aside from a few freshmen excited about their newfound freedom, he saw nobody.

Aziraphale angled his face up, parting his lips, and slipped his fingers through Crowley’s hair. Crowley kissed him before Aziraphale could, stealing the air from his lungs. “Oh,” gasped Aziraphale.

“That was nice?”

Yes,” Aziraphale insisted. “Again.” Breathlessly, he grasped Crowley’s hair more firmly and kissed him squarely on the mouth.

“Hi!! Are you being gay in my CHRISTIAN MINECRAFT SERVER?” demanded a girl from behind them, startling Aziraphale away from his boyfriend (!!!!!).

“Erm… ” Aziraphale stuttered. Would she tell somebody? Or say something? No - wait. He recognized her. She was that girl who’d stood up for him in the cafeteria -- Pepper -- and he highly doubted she often spoke to the vice principal.

“Nice meme,” Crowley commented, sliding a possessive hand around Aziraphale’s shoulder. It was nice to feel protected like that - not that his parents didn’t care about him. They did, and Aziraphale was very grateful for that -- but by somebody who liked him romantically. Somebody who loved him.

“Thanks,” said Pepper, coming around the tree and standing in front of them, her arms crossed. “So you two dating now?”

Aziraphale loved the look he and Crowley exchanged - as if they’d known each other for so long they didn’t even need to speak. It said: Can we tell her? Yes, I think so.

“Yeah,” said Aziraphale proudly, because he did feel proud. Here he was, the introverted gay nerdy boy, clutching the arm of (in his definitely not biased opinion) the cutest, sweetest, hottest, greatest boy in school.

“Good for you,” said Pepper. Three boys came running up to her side.

“Pepper, why’d you leave?” the one in a dirty, gray sweatshirt said. He stuffed his hands in his pocket.

“I wanted to meet this fine lads over here.” She gestured to Aziraphale and Crowley. Aziraphale blushed a bit. He wasn’t used to this sort of attention. He was usually just the invisible kid hidden in the background of group photos. Now people wouldn’t stop talking to him, and all he wanted to do was rest against Crowley’s shoulder and eat his lunch. Was that so much to ask?

“Oh, okay, cool,” the other boy said. He had a blue jacket and a shirt with a few large stripes. “I’m Adam. This is Brian, Wensleydale, and Pepper, but you’ve already met her, clearly. We’re the Them.” He stuck out a hand for one of them to shake. Crowley took the liberty of doing so first, then Aziraphale shyly took his turn. “Haven’t seen you guys in class though, you on the other team?”

“We’re juniors.” Crowley said. He said it proudly, but not in an I’m-way-older-than-you-so-worship-me kind of way like certain others (cough Gabriel cough) might say. The comment did, however, seem to make Them a bit less confident.

“Oh, erm, well sorry to bother you.” Adam glanced at his friends nervously.

“It’s okay, you’re not bothering us!” Aziraphale blurted. He hated making people feel uncomfortable. Oh, but now they would stay longer, which would interrupt Crowley’s sure course of action (kissing, kissing, more kissing). “You guys seem really nice, but, erm… we’d like to eat now.” Aziraphale gestured to his unopened lunchbox and smiled.

“Okay, nice meeting you, then.” Adam said. The others waved as they returned to the picnic table they had presumably been sitting at. Aziraphale breathed a sigh of relief and placed his lunch box on his lap. He opened it. Inside, his dad had packed an apple, cheese stick, strawberries, carrots, yogurt and a turkey sandwich.

Aziraphale, of course, was perfectly capable of making his own lunch and usually did so the night before. However, on account of his absence, his dad had packed it before he got home. He began to take the sandwich out of its little box. Aziraphale glanced over at his counterpart, who had made no move to grab any food. In fact, he didn’t have anything with him.

“You planning on starving to death?” Aziraphale teased.

“My dad usually sends me with money for the cafeteria, but he forgot today, I guess.” Crowley explained, eyeing Aziraphale’s mouth in a way that let him know he was desperate to kiss him. Aziraphale wished he was a little more flirtatious, so he could play with Crowley’s emotions, make him want Aziraphale more - but Aziraphale was an absolute sucker for Crowley’s soft eyes and needy frown. So he leaned in and kissed him gently, indulgently, graciously.

“Thank you,” Crowley whispered. “Oh shit. Did I just say thank you? I’m such an idiot. Who says thank -”

He was talking too much. Aziraphale was beginning to gain confidence when it came to unsolicited kissing, so he kissed Crowley again. Crowley tried to say something, but Aziraphale’s mouth was quite in the way, so it mostly sounded like Mmph which was better than what he’d been saying before.

“What do you say?” Aziraphale prompted, breaking away. He tapped Crowley’s nose. Maybe he could learn to be slightly flirtatious, at least.

“Thank you,” Crowley mumbled, smiling.

“There we go,” Aziraphale said, rewarding him with a peck on the nose. “I should probably give you some personal space.”

“I don’t want personal space,” Crowley said.

Aziraphale hummed in agreement and rested his head again on Crowley’s shoulder. “Do you want some of my food?”

“I’m fine.” Aziraphale could tell he was lying, from the pitch of his voice and the flush across his ears.

“You need to eat some lunch. Here,” Aziraphale said, handing him half of the sandwich and his string. “I’ll be fine, I have plenty.”

“Thanks.”

“I love you so, so much, Crowley.” Aziraphale said suddenly, surprised to hear himself say it. “I do. I really do.”

Then Crowley kissed him and everything melted away, leaving only the taste of smoke on Aziraphale’s tongue and the feel of silky ginger hair between his fingertips.

“We should probably eat now...” Aziraphale whispered when Crowley finally let him pull away.

“Yeah, yeah we should.” Crowley kissed his one more time and pressed his back up against the tree. He picked up Aziraphale’s apple he had set down. “Mind if I have this too?” he asked.

Aziraphale nodded and took out the other items in his lunch. He fished out the carrots and started eating them out of the bag. He hadn’t realized his left hand had been unattended until Crowley’s shyly intertwined with it. Aziraphale grinned and squeezed his hand.

Crowley’s head was turned as he took a bite of the apple. Aziraphale wasn’t entirely certain Crowley was aware they were holding hands, but a small smile from him when he turned around proved Aziraphale wrong.

“So are we really going out tonight?” Crowley asked, with all the confidence of a middle schooler asking their pretty crush on a date.

“I don’t know. Yes? Where?” Aziraphale could practically see Crowley’s heart stop at his hesitation. He shouldn't have done that. Yes! He wanted to go out! It would be - what was that phrase his dad always used when he thought he was being cool? Oh, yes, a date would be absolutely tickety-boo.

Crowley gave it some thought.

“Well Eden and I used to go to Bastille...” Crowley trailed off. His head pointed awkwardly upwards and he shrugged his shoulders. “This pizza place, diner, thing in town.” Aziraphale wasn’t sure whether or not he should ask who Eden was, so he didn’t. Were they an ex of his? Aziraphale felt intensely jealous that somebody else might have Crowley’s undivided attention. His kissing. His sugary comments. His… well, just to be his, in all honesty.

“Bastille sounds great.” Crowley nodded and took another bite of the apple, but he seemed more relaxed this time. Aziraphale lifted his hand and kissed Crowley’s knuckles. “I love you,” he said, to further reassure the other boy.

“If you keep saying that, it’ll lose all its meaning,” Crowley laughed.

“Or you might actually start believing it for once,” Aziraphale reasoned. “Would you rather me say something like… I don’t know… ” Aziraphale fished for something. “Friends… we’re not friends. We are an angel and a Demon. We have nothing whatsoever in common. I don’t even like you.” The severe insincerity in Aziraphale’s voice made Crowley laugh again.

“You do!” he teased.

“So much,” said Aziraphale, happy to see such a joyful smile on Crowley’s face. “Crowley Ashtoreth, will you have dinner with me at a pizza restaurant in the weirdest town ever?”

“I would love to eat dinner with you, angel.” Crowley gently rubbed his thumb along the back of Aziraphale’s hand. His tawny eyes were soft and fragile, looking at Aziraphale with so much love he thought he might implode.

“I love you, too,” said Aziraphale, knowing full well it wasn’t what Crowley had said (on the other hand, it was what Crowley had meant, so).

“Promise me something, though?” Crowley asked tentatively.

“Mmm?” Aziraphale hummed. He leaned his head on Crowley’s shoulder and looked up. Crowley’s face was lined with genuine worry.

“Will you… I mean… promise you’ll always be my angel, okay? I mean, not in like, a possessive boyfriend kinda way, I’m not like that. You can do what you want! I don’t mind. Er...” Crowley obviously appeared to be struggling, but Aziraphale was going to let him finish. “Just please promise you won’t leave me.” Crowley concluded. Aziraphale sat up properly, but for only a moment. He enveloped Crowley in a warm hug, the kind he knew he would like. Aziraphale squeezed Crowley tightly, until he knew any worry the boy had would be gone.

“I promise, Crowley.” Aziraphale whispered in his ear. “I promise.”