One Hundred Days - Good Omens Fic
Another ace Good Omens fic written for @bingokisses - this time, the prompts “Smiling Too Hard Kisses/Pam Massage or Tracing.” Also managed to squeeze in a bit of nose-kissing, since I actually filled that prompt with a drawing.
Full fic available on AO3.
Part 2: The Next Fifty Days
On the fifty-first night, Aziraphale followed Crowley upstairs again.
As before, they held hands up the stairs, a loose clasp of palm against palm. As before, Crowley miracled up a pair of pyjamas, kissed Aziraphale’s cheek, and climbed into bed with a sleepy, “Good night, Angel.”
Aziraphale fussed with the duvet a little longer, smoothing it over Crowley’s shoulder, then stooped, pushing back a fringe of bright red hair. He was right; the hair was thick with sweat after a day of working in the sun, but it wasn’t unpleasant. He leaned a little closer to smell the sweat and earth on Crowley’s brow and, before he could talk himself out of it, pressed a kiss just under Crowley’s hairline.
“G…good night,” Aziraphale managed in a rushed breath, turning to go.
On the fifty-second night, Aziraphale lingered for a few minutes, running his fingers through Crowley’s hair. It was tangled, and he worried the knots would hurt Crowley, but the demon simply sighed and relaxed a little more heavily against the pillow.
On the fifty-third night, Crowley wriggled a bit as he climbed into bed, moving just a little towards the center. He didn’t say anything, or gesture, or call attention to the movement in any way.
Still, it took until the fifty-fifth night for Aziraphale to work up the courage to settle himself on the edge of the mattress, stroking Crowley’s hair until he fell asleep.
He marveled, for a little while, at how his demon looked, so still, so quiet, face relaxed, burrowed so deep under the blanket that very little remained to be seen. It was strange, all those long limbs, stilled and compacted and hidden under a thick down duvet. He imagined his own wing covering Crowley instead, and Aziraphale’s face suddenly burned with a pulsing heat, and he rushed from the room.
Crowley didn’t even stir.
Beginning on the fifty-sixth night, Aziraphale sat on the sofa. At the far end, with as much space between them as possible, but nevertheless on the sofa. Crowley smiled, shifted his feet so they took up less space, a more compact sprawl.
Starting on the fifty-seventh night, Crowley sat upright in the other corner of the sofa. He scrolled through his mobile as they chatted, right hand resting lightly on the cushions between them. Aziraphale thought about putting his own hand down as well. He thought about it quite a lot.
On the sixty-fourth night, Aziraphale began organising his music collection while Crowley slept, humming softly to himself. On the sixty-eighth, he started bringing in selected books.
Now and again, he’d pause in his work, to make sure Crowley was still asleep. Adjust his blanket. Push the hair away from his eyes.
More than once he caught himself simply standing there, staring.
But whenever he finished his task for the night, Aziraphale retreated back downstairs and waited with a cup of tea until Crowley rose again in the morning.
On the seventieth night, he took Crowley’s hand as they sat on the sofa, no longer at opposite ends, but not quite close enough for their shoulders to brush. He glanced out from under his eyelashes – is this alright? – and without looking up from his mobile phone, Crowley gave his fingers a warm squeeze.
After an hour or so, he lifted Crowley’s hand to rest on his book, nudging his fingers apart. Tracing his own fingertips up and down the lines of Crowley’s palm, memorising them, mesmerised by them.
Crowley didn’t say a word, except to point out a series of pictures he’d discovered on his mobile. He grinned expectantly.
“It appears to be a cartoon. No, two cartoons cut and glued together. Look, they altered the caption, terrible job.”
“It’s a meme, Angel. It’s a joke.”
“Ah.” Aziraphale squinted at the fancy telephone. “Is the joke that the cartoon no longer makes sense? Some sort of Dadaist nonsense?”
“Nnnnh, you aren’t wrong,” Crowley conceded, returning to whatever he’d been doing.
His hand hadn’t moved. Uncertainly, Aziraphale pressed his own palm to Crowley’s, and the long fingers curled up to interlock with his.
Aziraphale smiled and let their hands rest on the sofa between them.
He followed Crowley upstairs, fingers still twined, palms pressed tightly together so that surely Crowley could feel his heart racing.
This time, when Crowley climbed under the covers, Aziraphale selected a book from his now-filled bookcase, and tried to approach the bed, the right side of the bed, the one with tartan pillow still lying where he’d dropped it. Every step was slower than the one before, until trepidation froze him, half a meter shy of his goal.
“Aziraphale?” Crowley watched him, golden eyes as unreadable as the glasses he usually wore.
“I thought…I thought…this might be…more comfortable. I can…sit on this side. As you – as you fall asleep.” There. Words spoken. It was out in the world.
“It’s an awful lot for one day,” Crowley commented, still not stirring. “Don’t rush yourself.”
He commanded his feet to take another step forward. “I’ve put it off rather a long time already, haven’t I?” Another step, knees now just shy of the mattress. “I’ve…forced you to wait…”
“You haven’t forced me to do anything. You never have.” Aziraphale stared at the crooked pillow, the slightly rumpled line of the duvet. “Angel. Look at me.” He glanced up, and now Crowley’s eyes weren’t blank at all, and that made this even harder. “I’m not…not waiting for anything. There isn’t some, I don’t know, some destination we have to race towards. There isn’t any endgame here. There’s just you, and me. What we have…this life…it’s enough. Whatever you want, whatever you’re comfortable with, it’s enough. Don’t ever feel like you have to – to be anything other than what you are.”
“I just…” Aziraphale’s eyes fell on the bed, and he stared at it so long he wondered why it didn’t catch fire. “I just want you to be happy.”
“I am. Aziraphale, I am already as happy as I know how to be.”
Blinking tears from his eyes, Aziraphale reached out. Took the pillow that he had dropped seventy days before. Shook it out and placed it neatly against the headboard.
Then he placed the book on the bed in front of it.
“There, that…that should keep…another day or two.” He bit his lip. “That’s…that’s quite enough for one night.”
He circled around the bed and felt a strange rush of relief to arrive on the left side again. To perch on the edge of the mattress, as he already had so many times. Crowley sat up to kiss his cheek, as always, but this time let his lips rest a moment longer, his nose brush the side of Aziraphale’s. “Good night,” he whispered, and for once it sounded almost like a promise, a blessing, inasmuch as a demon could bless. “Angel.”
Then he flopped back onto his pillow, as dramatic as ever.
“Good night, dear.” Aziraphale tugged the blankets smooth and ran his fingers through Crowley’s hair.
“Mmmh,” Crowley purred, leaning into his fingers, eyes drifting shut. “Hey, Aziraphale?”
“Y-yes?” They almost never spoke after saying good night.
“You want to tell me about your book?”
“What?” He glanced furtively at the other side of the bed. “The one I…”
But Crowley’s eyelids didn’t even flicker. “You read about twenty this week. Whichever you like.”
“Oh.” His fingers scratched a little deeper into the sweat-thick mane of hair. Aziraphale had decided he liked the way Crowley’s hair felt at the end of a day in the gardens. The texture. The smell. “Well. Er. I suppose. There is one you might like. Ah. It starts in the French Revolution—”
“Hang on.” The tiniest line of gold appeared in one eye. “Is someone gonna rescue someone else from the guillotine? Dramatically?”
“Yes.” Aziraphale tried to hide a smile. “Quite definitely.”
“Where was I? Ah, yes. Paris. The teeming masses of humanity…”
On the seventy-third night, Aziraphale finally worked up the courage to slide onto the right side of the bed. Still fully dressed, still over the covers. Still a little awkward, as if he might change his mind and run.
He nearly did, when Crowley rose to kiss the side of his head. It seemed so much more alarming when done…well…in bed. But then he dropped down, red hair spilling across a black pillow, and wriggled under the blankets.
“Night, Angel,” he yawned, sounding even more tired than usual. They’d spent most of the afternoon exploring the paths through the woods and Aziraphale had – twice – briefly taken his hand.
“Good night, dear.” The words tumbled out without a thought. “Er. Crowley. Don’t you…usually sleep facing the door?”
Crowley blinked, which was rare enough, and glanced over his shoulder in confusion. When he turned back, his brow was furrowed. “Don’t be daft. I sleep facing you.”
“Oh?” Aziraphale didn’t know what to make of that. “Oh.” Crowley had rolled over a few times, in previous weeks, as Aziraphale moved around the bedroom setting things up. He’d never thought anything of it, but, yes, Crowley had always turned to face the side of the room Aziraphale stood on, like a daisy tracking the sun. “Oh.”
“Oh,” Crowley mocked, but not cruelly. He closed his eyes and settled down. “What are you reading?”
“Ah.” Aziraphale glanced at the book he’d taken off the shelf several nights before. “Kinder- und Hausemärchen.”
“The, ah, the Brothers Grimm.” He turned the pages idly. “Would you like me to…read it to you?”
A wide, toothy grin spread across his narrow face. “Only if you promise to do the voices.”
Smiling back, Aziraphale reached across and tucked some hair behind Crowley’s ear. “The first is the Frog Prince…”
That first night in bed, the seventy-third in the cottage, Aziraphale read a few stories, then quietly left once Crowley was asleep. He paused in the doorway and, sure enough, the demon turned over to face him without waking.
On the seventy-fifth night, he kept reading long after Crowley had fallen asleep.
On the seventy-ninth night, he stayed until after midnight.
On the eighty-third night (or very early on the eighty-fourth morning, but it was dark until well after breakfast this time of year), he put aside the book, and just watched Crowley sleep, without shyness, without fear.
On the eighty-seventh night, he noticed Crowley’s hand emerging from the blankets, and idly reached across to trace its lines once more. He tugged it towards him, thinking perhaps to hold it as he continued reading, but Crowley immediately moved, wriggling across the bed to press against Aziraphale’s hip.
“Crowley!” Aziraphale called in alarm. “What are you…”
“Nrrgh,” Crowley muttered, and let out a noise almost like a snore.
This was most unusual. But it wasn’t bad.
That night, Aziraphale let Crowley press against him for almost an hour before gently disentangling himself and leaving.
On the eighty-eighth night, he let it go on a little longer.
On the ninety-fourth night, he lost all track of time, and barely slipped out of the room before Crowley woke up. It occurred to him, as he went down the stairs, that perhaps…perhaps he didn’t need to leave?
The ninety-fifth night in Aziraphale and Crowley’s cottage, winter arrived; perhaps not according to the calendar, but certainly by the weather. Warm jumpers emerged from nowhere, and Crowley grumbled that all his had tartan trim, then blushed to see Aziraphale’s embroidered with a tiny snake coiled into a heart.
Cold seeped in through the walls, but not in an unpleasant way. Aziraphale tried out a new soup recipe, and Crowley spent over an hour insisting he could light the fire the human way, before finally giving up and agreeing to a miracle.
That night, when Aziraphale tugged at his sleeping demon’s hand, Crowley looped an arm over his legs, pulling closer, seeking warmth.
When the angel finally convinced himself to slip away, he tucked his pillow under Crowley’s arm. He paused in the doorway to watch as Crowley rolled over to face towards him, chin still resting on the tartan pillow.
On the ninety-ninth night, the snow arrived. It was early; Crowley had complained all evening that he’d barely managed to get the garden settled for the winter; the greenhouse would have to wait until next year, and he seemed at a bit of a loss what to do with himself until the ground thawed. He shivered a bit – despite the warm fire – and Aziraphale squeezed his hand as they sat.
By the time they climbed into bed, the wind was roaring, whistling around the eaves and rattling the windowpanes. Aziraphale smoothed the blankets, settled atop them, then held out his arm indicating, somewhat indirectly, the space beside him.
“You, uh…you sure?”
“You’re cold, aren’t you?”
Crowley shrugged, but didn’t say anything.
Aziraphale smiled encouragingly. “Yes, dear. I’m sure.”
It was…not the same as when his demon pressed against him in the night. Crowley seemed to coil, twisting arms and legs, trying a hundred positions in a matter of seconds. Finally settled for having his head on Aziraphale’s lap, limbs twined all around him in an inextricable Gordian knot.
It was almost perfect, except that somehow one of Aziraphale’s hands had become entwined with Crowley’s and the other was already burying itself in his hair. How was he ever supposed to hold a book like this?
But, it occurred to him, he didn’t actually want his book right now, not when the sight before him was so captivating.
“This is…yes. Jolly good. Ehem. Good night, Crowley dear.”
“G’night, Angel.” He wriggled even closer. Not wriggled. There was a word for this. Cuddled. It made Aziraphale’s heart flutter in his chest. “Nh. Aziraphale?” He sounded a little embarrassed.
“What is it?”
“Last couple mornings I’ve, uh…I woke up holding your pillow.”
“I…I know, dear.” Even if the actions were coming more easily, it was still so hard to put it into words. “The last, um, the last few nights you’ve been…reaching. For me. Moving closer. I felt, well, like you should…have something…when I left?”
“Mmrrrrrgh,” Crowley groaned, burying his face into Aziraphale’s thighs. “M’sorry.”
“What on earth do you have to be sorry for?”
“Didn’t ask.” He shrugged, a rather complicated gesture from this position. “’Nd. I told you I didn’t want anything more. Thought it was true. But I guess. Sometimes, it’s not?”
For the first time in ninety-nine nights, Aziraphale realised this might be as difficult for Crowley as it was for him. Of course he’d failed to notice. After all, he was a foolish, self-centred angel, hardly a thought for anyone but himself.
Instead of feeling guilty, though, Aziraphale felt…strangely relieved.
He leaned down to kiss the top of Crowley’s head. It was a bit of a stretch – he felt it in his back – but completely worth it. “Don’t worry about it, darling. Just sleep.”
On the hundredth morning, Aziraphale stood framed in the bedroom door, looking at the way Crowley held the tartan pillow, limbs in a complicated death grip that still managed to be extraordinarily gentle.
When the demon’s eyes fluttered open, Aziraphale lifted the mug he held, miracled to exactly the right temperature. “Coffee, dear?” he asked, heart throbbing in anticipation of the smile.
The snow had fallen more than knee-deep, and Crowley spent an hour clearing snow off the delicate branches of the saplings, shoveling the garden walkway, breath steaming in the wind, until Aziraphale emerged from the cottage and wrapped a black-and-red scarf around his neck, engulfing him from the bottom of his glasses to the top of his jacket.
“Let’s go for a walk, dear.”
“Can’t,” Crowley grunted. “Gotta make a path first.”
“No, you don’t.” Aziraphale stepped onto piled-up snow, and walked across the top of it, light as a cat.
“Well, not all of us are angels.” But Aziraphale could guess from the tone of his voice that the scarf hid a smile.
“You know, Crowley, if you hold my hand, you won’t sink either.”
This time, not even scarf and glasses could hide the way Crowley’s face lit up. His hand slipped into Aziraphale’s as naturally as if it had always belonged there, and together they walked out of the garden and into a forest altered into an exotic, white-puffed land.
“I think I was wrong,” Aziraphale said, looking at the branches of a towering oak, laden with snow and dripping with ice.
“Haven’t sunk yet.”
“No, ages ago. When you talked about getting trees, and I wasn’t sure if it was worth waiting ten years for the fruit. But I think…you don’t get a tree for the fruit.”
Crowley considered this, brow furrowed. “You do if you’re growing an orchard.”
“Are you? Growing an orchard?”
“No…” He tossed his head, hand flying up to catch his knitted hat before it fell off. “Gotta say, no idea where you’re going with this.”
“I mean, you don’t plant a tree because it might produce something you want, years down the road. You plant it because you want a tree. You want to see it bud in the spring, and sit in its shade in the summer, and watch the leaves change in the fall. You want to care for it, tend it as it grows, and then maybe – maybe – years later, you’ll also have apples to enjoy.”
“Hmmm.” Crowley swung their clasped hands with the next few steps. “Glad I didn’t wait for you to come around. It’s far too late to plant trees now.”
Aziraphale sighed. “Yes, I’m sure you knew that all along. That’s why you’re the gardener.”
“Better remember that if we ever need to infiltrate a mansion again.”
“Of course,” Aziraphale said airily. “Next time, you can be the gardener, and I’ll be the driver.”
Crowley gasped, Aziraphale giggled, and they walked in silence a few more minutes.
“And you know,” the angel finally said, watching their feet pad across the snow without a trace. “It isn’t...wrong to, I don’t know, to want a bit more from a young tree. To imagine how the blossoms will look, to wish you could sit under the branches and read. I think, you know, part of caring for something is...is anticipating how it will grow and...helping it along.”
“It wouldn’t be...hurrying things?”
“No, I don’t think so. You can enjoy the moment without ignoring the past and...the future.”
The path turned towards what should be a little hollow between the trees, now filled to the brim like a bowl of snow.
“Speaking of...you know...the future.” Crowley said, glancing at the branches interlaced over them. “Future of trees. I mean. If you want something that just looks nice, you get flowers. Tulips. Really pretty, last about five minutes. But a tree, that’s...a commitment. Something you want to share your garden with for centuries.” He stopped walking, turning slowly towards Aziraphale, face still hidden between glasses and scarf. Aziraphale looked up at him, heart pounding. “You know. Never had a tree before. Didn’t work with my lifestyle. But now…here…”
Aziraphale reached with both hands to lower Crowley’s scarf.
Unfortunately, the instant he let go of Crowley’s hand, the demon collapsed, legs buckling at the sudden lack of support, until he lay on his back, buried up to his neck in snow.
“Oh, dear!” Aziraphale fought down a smile. “Oh, Crowley I—” No, it was no good. Watching the now snow-covered demon struggle to sit up doubled Aziraphale over with laughter.
“Funny, am I?”
Aziraphale scrubbed at the tears in his eyes. “Yes. No. It’s just—”
The snowball hit him square in the face before he ever saw it coming. Aziraphale toppled like a tree, sinking deep into the snowdrift.
“Angel!” The sound of Crowley scrambling to his feet. “Blast, I thought you’d—"
“Ah, I see how it is.” Aziraphale sat more slowly, scraping the snow from his cheeks. “You have declared war, Crowley.” He lifted his hands and piles of snow began to rise all around him, forming themselves into balls. “But I don’t think you’re truly prepared to face the wrath of the Guardian of Eden.”
That evening, they sat together on the sofa, Aziraphale’s head resting on Crowley’s shoulder. No books, no mobile phones, just a roaring fire, a thick blanket, and two cups of steaming hot chocolate.
Crowley had taken a hot shower after getting back inside, and Aziraphale was fascinated to see how his hair curled as it dried. Aziraphale had dithered a bit before miracling himself up a set of dry clothes – pyjamas, in fact, styled after Crowley’s, since the last time the angel had slept, loose nightgowns and caps had still been in fashion.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you smile like that,” Crowley whispered, turning his head slightly so his lips brushed across Aziraphale’s hair. “The way you did in the woods, I mean.”
“Nor I you.” He closed his eyes and tried to identify all the smells in Crowley’s bath soaps.
When the time came, Aziraphale was the first to stand.
He took his demon’s hand, led him up the stairs and to their bed. Walked around to his own side and lifted the blankets.
“Yes, dear.” Everything inside him was bubbling, fluttering, rising up in his throat – but this was good. This was how Aziraphale wanted to feel.
He slid beneath the blankets and rested his head on the pillow.
“Are you sure?” Crowley asked, lying on his side, their faces little more than a breath apart. His hand lay in the gap between them.
“I think we’ve both waited long enough.”
“Angel, I told you—”
Aziraphale surged forward, pressing his mouth to Crowley’s.
He hadn’t been sure what to expect. They’d kissed like this, once, long ago, a few days after the world had failed to end. Aziraphale couldn’t remember much, except that he’d been almost sick with nerves, and had pulled away almost immediately. This time was different.
Crowley’s lips were...softer like this than they were against his head or his cheek. And his mouth tingled so much more. In a good way. A very good way. Aziraphale was already starting on a second kiss, tipping his head slightly, when he realised Crowley still hadn’t moved.
Scrambling back - face burning - Aziraphale tugged at the duvet. “I...I’m sorry...did I...get it wrong? I thought…”
Before he could say another word, Crowley’s mouth covered his, warm and welcoming, Crowley’s hand slid up his arm, Crowley’s leg hooked over his knee. Aziraphale leaned into it, hands clutching the black pyjamas, until he was completely and utterly surrounded by Crowley.
This was it. This was home. This was the bliss, the acceptance, he’d never felt in Heaven, that had always been held just out of his reach, pulled away when he came close to grasping it, until he learned not to desire it at all…
Here, freely, openly given. Not just now, but over and over, every minute for a hundred days, for hundreds of years, and a promise of more, on and on, into a future he couldn’t even imagine…
Crowley’s thumb brushed his cheek and suddenly the kiss vanished.
“Nrfgk.” Crowley pulled away, struggling to untangle himself. “S-sorry!”
“Ah…” Aziraphale tried to catch his breath. “What do...sorry?”
“Should have asked.” He pulled back to his own pillow, tugging it forward as if to make a barrier. “Look, I’m just - do you need me to go? I can wait downstairs until…”
Aziraphale pressed fingers to his cheek, where it still burned from Crowley’s touch, and found it was wet. His blinked through tear-filled eyes at the narrow, panicked face across from him and laughed. The long, loud laughter of a being that only breathed for the joy of it.
“You...you silly...ridiculous demon!” He scrubbed at his face, still laughing. “You absurd creature!” Aziraphale reached across the bed until he found Crowley’s hands and drew him closer, as he had so often at night, each time he brought Crowley to nestle against him. He slid across now, wide-eyed and wondering, to lay nose-to-nose once more. “I’m crying because I’m happy. Because I’m not afraid, I’m not...holding myself back, and it feels...wonderful.”
“Oh.” Crowley fidgeted. “Ah. So. Um.” His eyes flicked up to meet Aziraphale’s. “So you liked it? The kiss?”
He felt himself turning pink again as a smile spread across his lips. “Yes, I rather think I did. Er. Did you?”
“Yeah.” The grin stretched straight across Crowley’s face. “I did, I really, really did. You, um,” he waggled his eyebrows in what was probably supposed to be a charming way. “You want to go again?”
“Oh, yes please.”
Aziraphale smiled so hard his cheeks hurt, which unfortunately made kissing quite difficult. They couldn’t push out their lips properly, or quite line up their mouths, their teeth managed to collide more than once. More laughter followed, and Aziraphale felt the strange, heady rush of Crowley’s laugh echoing in his own mouth, against his chest, filling him completely.
In the end they gave up on the kissing, and held each other, Aziraphale’s face buried in Crowley’s neck and shoulder, Crowley’s too-wide smile still pressing into curling silver hair.
The angel still felt embarrassed, but not ashamed, and the difference was marvelous. He didn’t regret his actions, he didn’t fear some unforeseen consequence. Here, in his demon’s embrace, he felt safe, confident. Very nearly sure of himself.
“So what, um…” Crowley’s mouth hovered by his ear. “What brought this on?”
“I don’t really know. It’s been coming on a long time. But…” Aziraphale wriggled back, just far enough to see Crowley’s face without leaving the circle of his arms. Somehow they’d managed to fit both their heads on the tartan pillow, though there was very little room to spare. Best to stay close. “Well. Partly it’s because of what you said last night.”
“Last night?” His brow furrowed in worry.
“About wanting more without knowing it. I...I rather think I’ve felt that way for centuries.” He tipped his head forward, until his brow rested against Crowley’s chin, and felt those lips press against his hairline. “And I realised...It’s not about you being patient with me, or me being brave for you, or anything of the kind. We’re...whatever we are, we’re learning it together. We’re here together, and that’s...that’s what I want. That’s everything I want.”
“That’s…” Crowley swallowed, cleared his throat. “Yeah. Me too.” Cleared his throat again. “So, ah...now what?”
“Oh.” Aziraphale tilted his head back to give a sheepish grin. “I hadn’t really thought past, you know. The kissing.”
“Hmmmm.” Crowley lowered his head until their noses brushed. “I’m…actually not sure either.”
“You aren’t?” One more wriggle moved Aziraphale under Crowley’s chin, head resting against his heart. This felt right. Aziraphale tugged one of Crowley’s hands between them, running his fingers across the now-familiar lines and mounds. “Can we just…stay here for a bit?”
“Yeah. Sounds perfect, Angel.”
“And…in case it wasn’t clear…ah…I love you, Crowley.”
“Nk.” It was odd, to feel that tension – so familiar to Aziraphale – run through Crowley, to know exactly the way he must be panicking, stomach tight, heart shuddering. “I…glk…that’s…I…”
Aziraphale lifted their clasped hands and pressed his lips to Crowley’s fingers. “It’s alright, darling. Take as long as you need.”
Thank you again to everyone who read!
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Yesterday, the DIWS Discord server went a little feral after a discussion of handholding this was my result. As always, I’ve taken something of a soft-angst approach, after the bus ride back to London...
Also available on AO3
The bus arrived in London, rolling to a stop a block from Crowley’s flat.
“Seemed fair,” Crowley whispered. “The streets get narrower and there’s no place to turn around…”
Aziraphale wasn’t listening. Still staring out the windshield, past the driver. He hadn’t moved for at least three miles.
Crowley reached up and tapped his shoulder. No response. He tried again, pushing harder, shaking until Aziraphale finally blinked and turned, just a little. “Come on, Angel. Time to go.”
Another gentle push and Aziraphale finally slid out of his seat, standing in the aisle. Crowley clambered out after him, unfolding.
All through the long, terrifying ride they’d said hardly a word to each other. Crowley knew he should, offer some reassurance or show of courage, something to make Aziraphale feel less hopeless.
He didn’t have it in him, no strength to spare, no words, no hope. He’d offered his flat for the night. Beyond that, well, his mind buzzed with ideas. Impossible ideas. Ones that would take a being far more powerful and confident than he to enact.
This morning he’d offered to run to the stars. Perhaps that could still work, fleeing forever, across the infinite emptiness of space, never again to rest, to laugh, to enjoy the taste of food. In its own way, that was as frightening as oblivion at the hands of their former sides.
He led the way up the aisle, down the steps, but Aziraphale didn’t follow. Instead, he paused beside the bus driver, resting a hand on his shoulder. “Thank you for…” he seemed momentarily uncertain. The driver was still in a daze; in five minutes he would realize he was in London, not Oxford, and wonder why. “Yes,” Aziraphale patted his shoulder again. “Thank you.”
From the side of the street below, Crowley felt the faint tingle of a miracle echoing down. A small blessing, protection from harm, a promise of a turn of good luck in the next 24 hours.
Amazing, Crowley thought. Even after all this, he still has strength to spare. He watched Aziraphale step down, slowly, to join him on the street.
Crowley’s hand hovered – almost touching his shoulder – wishing to draw some of that infinite steadiness into himself.
“This way,” he said, pushing his hands into his pockets as he walked into the darkness. “Not far.”
After a dozen steps, he realized he was walking alone.
Aziraphale stood on the street corner, staring at the sky.
London at night never became truly dark, not the way that little Oxfordshire village had, or indeed the way London had a mere century before. All that new electricity, all those signs and streetlamps and 24-hour Tesco’s. The edges of his vision seemed to glow amber as the light from windows bounced off the air, reflecting down. Giving the city a halo of sorts.
Under the right circumstances, he might have found beauty in it, of a kind.
Instead, he felt lost, adrift.
“We should have stayed,” he murmured. “No stars.”
“What’s that?” Crowley’s voice was strangely distant, but it took the click of only a few quick steps across the pavement to bring him back. He hovered, almost in sight, tossing his head in that way he had.
“Just that…I’d hoped there would be stars. In the end.” He laughed a little, or at least made a sound like laughing, and wasn’t that close enough? “I might see them when they drag me back to Heaven. Some of the rooms look out on the night sky. They don’t get used as much these days but…but I could try and ask. Do you think Gabriel would allow a last request? Or would that just make him…make him angrier…”
“Hey.” Crowley’s hand pressed into his back, gently, just below his ribs. “Don’t…don’t say things like that. We’re going to figure it out.”
“Figure what out?” Aziraphale stared at the blank sky above. “There’s no one to appeal to, no higher authority, no…no clever way to get out of it…”
“Oi.” His eyes flicked down, just a little, just enough to see that Crowley stood close – very close – eyes uncovered, staring directly into Aziraphale. “We’re going be fine. Do you hear me? We’re going to walk home, we’re going to talk this through, and we’re going to figure it out.”
“How can you say that?” Aziraphale was surprised at how calm his voice sounded. “There’s…nothing to figure out.”
“There’s the prophecy,” Crowley said. How could he have so much energy? How could he still move, still shuffle his feet as if in his endless dance, everything in motion except that hand, resting on his back. “Choose your faces wisely? Playing with fire? Agnes wouldn’t have sent us that prophecy if there was nothing we could do.”
“Perhaps.” His eyes drifted up to the empty sky again. “Perhaps it was only intended to…give us a chance to…prepare ourselves, I suppose.” He tugged on his waistcoat and tried to imagine himself facing Gabriel and Michael with dignity. He might be able to muster dignity. Defiance was asking a bit much, but he could try to face his punishment standing tall.
“Out of the question.” The hand drifted from his back, brushed his elbow. “Because I already lost you. Three times, actually, and you know what? It sucked. So I’ve already decided. Not happening again.” The hand returned to Crowley’s pocket; his other lifted the glasses, pressing them back into place.
“Crowley…” he remembered a voice in the strange white darkness, as he’d scoured the Earth for a suitable body. A familiar voice, filled with pain, but still going on. A lifeline in that endless void. “I’m…I truly am sorry…”
“Nothing for you to be sorry about,” he said, turning away, voice as cool as ever. “Just. Don’t give up. I have ideas, but they won’t work if you give up. So just…don’t.”
Crowley started walking, and Aziraphale struggled to keep up. He tried, struggling to go forward, but his legs shook, he stumbled, would have fallen, but he reached out and caught Crowley’s elbow.
The demon froze.
“I’m – I’m so terribly sorry.” Aziraphale stepped back, brushing his hands against his coat furiously. “I – I – obviously, I didn’t – It won’t happen again!”
“It won’t,” Crowley said, and without quite facing Aziraphale, he held out his hand.
The angel stared at it for a long moment.
Perhaps he was misunderstanding. Perhaps Crowley intended a miracle of some kind and was – oh, warming up or some such thing. Perhaps…perhaps…perhaps…
Aziraphale brushed his fingers across the palm, uncertainly, pulling them back. He’d almost expected it to burn. It did, in a way, a tingle all across his fingertips, a jolt up his arm and directly to his heart.
He tried again, this time letting them slide until his palm was pressed against Crowley’s, and started to wrap his fingers – no, surely not—
Crowley’s long fingers closed around his hand. “Is this…better?”
“Ah. Oh. Um. Yes?”
“Don’t let me go too fast.”
All Aziraphale could do was nod. Crowley started walking again, and with a tug on his arm, the angel found himself following, pulled in his wake, as he always was, the most natural thing in the world.
Crowley was as brilliant as the stars he’d once made, and all else fell to the force of his gravity – humans, and cities, and Aziraphale.
It wasn’t a bad thing, to be in the orbit of such a marvelous creature. One foot followed the other, on and on, into the night.
Crowley wanted to get inside as soon as possible. They needed to talk, needed to plan, and that couldn’t be done in the open. He felt exposed here, vulnerable. Every instinct was to dart for cover, for darkness, for safety.
But as he walked, he felt the tug at his arm, and glanced back to see Aziraphale, still holding his hand, still struggling to keep up.
He slowed his pace, until the angel was beside him again. Their shoulders brushed, and just for a moment he felt anchored. Grounded.
Aziraphale’s eyes were glued to the sidewalk before them, deep in thought.
“Now what?” Crowley asked, wishing it didn’t sound so angry, but he couldn’t stop himself sometimes. He needed to move.
“Nothing,” Aziraphale said quickly. “I’m perfectly fine. Just…”
He squeezed Crowley’s hand, and it was hot, beyond anything he’d ever felt, hotter than the fires at the center of stars, hotter than the heat of Falling when everything was torn away, hotter than damnation, hotter than salvation – that little bit of pressure ignited everything in him.
Then Aziraphale pulled his hand away, and left him cold.
“I – I – I had a thought…” Aziraphale twisted his own fingers in front of him. “About the prophecy. What if…what if choosing our faces…” He stopped, illuminated in the orange-yellow light of the streetlamp. “What if it means that…that only one of us need be destroyed? That perhaps there’s some way I can…I can sacrifice myself…”
“No!” He darted over, grabbing Aziraphale’s shoulders. “Look at me, no. I told you, you – you’re not allowed to give up!”
“It’s not giving up. It’s – it’s the logical solution. Heaven would of course wish to see me punished. If they make me Fall – through the-the Fires of Creation, then Hell would have me to…to…” He swallowed. “I think both would be satisfied with this solution. And you could…”
“We’re not doing that,” Crowley growled desperately. “And I have just as much a right to – to sacrifice myself, anyway.”
“No, dear. I don’t think Gabriel would care much for your death, I’m sorry to say. This is the way that makes sense.” He looked up, and there was a strength in his eyes, the strength of all the earth, unmovable, implacable, powerful enough to outlast eternity.
Without realizing what he was doing, Crowley brought his head to rest against Aziraphale’s shoulder, wrapped his arms around the angel, trying to absorb that strength, wondering what it would be like to have it flow through his veins.
“Angel,” he whispered. “We can’t. I don’t…What would I do? With you gone?”
“Crowley, I’m sure you could…”
“I’m not strong enough. I don’t know…without you…” He thought of himself, sitting in that bar, waiting for the end of the world. There had still been that drive to do something deep inside, but without Aziraphale, he was adrift. Lost. “Don’t make me go through that again.”
His voice sounded weak, desperate. Crowley had never begged, not for anything, not even when they cast him out of Heaven. He begged now, pleaded, deep in his heart.
Aziraphale shifted in his arms, and he felt those soft, powerful hands settle on his back, rubbing gently as if he were precious, as if he were delicate, as if he might fall apart.
“Don’t leave me,” he whispered.
“Of course not,” Aziraphale said softly. “How foolish of me.”
Crowley stood there, leaning on him, drawing that infinite calm into himself, until he was ready to go on.
Very suddenly, Crowley pulled back, stepping away, fading into the darkness while Aziraphale remained in the light of the streetlamp.
Had he ever seen Crowley in such a state? It shook Aziraphale to his core.
For the first time since stepping off the bus, he looked directly at his friend – not at the sky or the earth, glancing from the corner of his eyes. Directly into those black lenses, into the heart of the being he had bound himself to, slowly, irrevocably, for millennia.
He thought they were opposites, destined to forever be pulled together and repelled, dragging each other back and forth through eternity. The light and the dark. The order and the chaos. Forever cancelling each other out.
But it wasn’t like that at all. Everything he felt – all his fear, his uncertainty, his doubt weighing him down – he could see echoed in Crowley, transformed into a limitless energy that could power them both.
Crowley stood in shadows, created by the light of the lamp; the lamp only existed, only had purpose, because of the darkness.
They weren’t opposites. They were halves of a whole, part of each other. Reflections of a sort.
Aziraphale stepped forward, his toes on the very edge of the shadow. Crowley stepped closer to meet him, light reflecting off his glasses, his tie, his fancy watch.
“Thank you, my dear,” he said, straightening his bowtie. “I don’t know what came over me.”
“Any time, Angel.”
Crowley held out his arm, offering his elbow, and Aziraphale wrapped his hands through it. Pulling close. Feeling the heat pour in along his side where they pressed together. Finding the will to keep going.
They walked together up the street, the irresistible force and the immovable object. Arm-in-arm, completing each other.
Perhaps together, they could bend even Heaven and Hell to their will.
Thank you for reading! Also available on AO3.
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