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Immanent, Transcendent, and Material

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Aziraphale's body is his. It was issued to him by Heaven; inhabited for six thousand years by his angelic essence; destroyed in one careless, terrible moment by the power of unfiltered divinity; and returned to him, familiar in every comfortable detail, by a child who, it seems, understands more of right and kindness than Heaven ever did.

Aziraphale likes his body, whether it is anyone's idea of a suitably angelic corporation or not. He feels he belongs in it. Perhaps more than he ever belonged in Heaven, if he's honest. He has given it nice things over the millennia – soft chairs and comfortable clothes and delicious food and sensory beauty – and it has shared its appreciation of these things with him. He has been very pleased with it, all this time.

It is his, and he enjoys it. But it isn't him.

His wings... His wings are him. His skin, his bones, his blood are all simple earthly matter, but his wings are pure ethereal essence. His feathers are made entirely of angel.

He can bring them into the worldly plane, of course. Make them visible to the eyes of women and men, and to his own physical senses. But such things are mostly forbidden, now, to the agents of Heaven. Or at least permitted only in special circumstances with special instructions. He could count on his corporeal fingers the number of times he's seen them himself, since Eden. He supposes it's part of humanity's punishment, to be deprived of the sight and the knowledge of angels as they truly are. Possibly it's part of his own punishment, too, although he's never dared to ask.

Humans have touched his physical body. Not often. Not very many, really, considering how many humans he's known. But more than a few. And why not? Physical touch is a lovely thing. It's the best way humans have of bringing comfort to each other, or pleasure. He has enjoyed it very much. Even if it is also, when he stops to think about it, just a little bit lonely for him.

Humans have touched his body. But none of them has ever touched him. No one has, not for a very long time. And no one has ever touched his wings at all, not since the Almighty first shaped them from nothingness with Her hands.

But Aziraphale stands, now, naked in his body, and before him stands a demon, naked in his own. And there is a quiet, hopeful question in his golden serpent's eyes.

Aziraphale draws in a breath, not because he needs one but because his body loves air as it loves so much else in this world, and because it feels, somehow, as if it's the natural thing to do. He reaches outward, inward, sideways, into deeper layers of reality. He finds the numb, cramped, hidden parts of himself that he hasn't released since the world was ending, and he sets them free.

A soft breath sighs from Crowley's mouth, an echo of his own. Material fingers reach out, with something that looks very much like reverence, and touch the feathers only God has touched before.

Dark wings sweep forward and enfold him. Everything is the feeling of skin on feathers, of feathers on skin, earthly and infernal and ethereal and them. Them, together, as naked as they've ever been, as close, as whole.

In six thousand years, Aziraphale has never felt more like himself.