It was late. And while neither of them exactly needed to sleep, at least not like humans and other mortal creatures did, both of them did feel like they might utterly collapse if they spent even another moment awake.
“You can stay at my place,” Crowley said. He’d held out his hand, an offer for Aziraphale to follow if he wanted to. And boy did he want to.
“I don’t know,” he said, at least trying to sound like he was protesting, even if he wasn’t exactly sure why anymore. “Are you sure?”
Crowley squinted behind his glasses, a look of complete confusion on his face. “Of course I’m sure, why wouldn’t I be?”
Aziraphale could think of quite a few reasons why Crowley might not want him around, but he didn’t get a chance to voice any of them. Instead, Crowley had taken his hand and led him off of the bus.
“I’ve only got the one bed,” Crowley said as the headed towards his place. His yellow eyes glanced back, looking Aziraphale over. The angel could feel heat rising in his cheeks, the tell-tale signs of a blush forming on his face.
“You can keep it,” Aziraphale said, perhaps a bit too quickly.
Crowley quickly let go of his hand. “Oh,” he said, his voice odd and a bit hesitant. “I mean- I wasn’t,” he paused for a second before letting out a huge sigh. “I was offering it to you.”
“Oh,” Aziraphale said.
“You don’t have to,” Crowley said. “If you don’t want to. It’s all up to you, really.” He didn’t even wait for Aziraphale to respond, instead choosing to walk towards his apartment. His feet were practically dragging and all he wanted to do was sleep. Preferably for a long time. Maybe a year or two if he could shake the demons that would inevitably be after him.
He snapped his fingers at his front door. The door swung open and he stumbled inside. He glanced behind him, noticing that Aziraphale seemed stuck at the entrance.
“Are you coming?” Crowley asked, hoping that his voice didn’t sound as desperate as he thought it did. If he was being honest (which he usually was, even if he would deny it) he didn’t like the thought of Aziraphale leaving. He never liked the thought of him leaving, but it meant more now. The image of the bookshop burning popped into the back of his mind and a brief shudder went through him, reminding him of how close he had almost come to losing his best friend.
Aziraphale opened his mouth, closed it, and opened it again before shaking his head. “No,” he said. “I don’t think I am.”
There was an uncertainty there that Crowley could see, something holding Aziraphale back from following him up, but he didn’t care right then.
What did anything matter when the one being you wanted most in the universe wouldn’t even come inside with you?
“Fine,” Crowley said. His words held a sort of bitterness that was strange to hear directed at the angel. “Have it your way, Angel.”
“Crowley!” Aziraphale said, but it was too late. The door had already been snapped shut behind him, leaving him standing in the streets alone.
He stood on the sidewalk, not entirely sure what to do now. His bookshop was gone, Crowley had been quite insistent on that point, which meant that he didn’t exactly have anywhere to go. He could always miracle himself up a place to stay, probably a hotel room for the night until he could decide how to go about getting another bookshop, but he didn’t particularly want to do that. Firstly, because Up There was probably watching out for any big miracles from him, watching to see what he would do next and track him that way, and secondly, because he didn’t particularly want to leave.
His feet led him away from Crowley’s door, taking him to God knows where. Briefly, he did wonder if God was watching him, if She was laughing at everything that had happened. Was this truly Her plan all along? For the apocalypse to fail? For Lucifer to experience a disobedient child, just the same way that she had?
Or was She actually angry? What if She actually had intended for the apocalypse to happen and She was just waiting for the perfect moment to strike them down? He was sure that She didn’t actually need the perfect moment, as She could just create it, but it was hard to be rational right now. They’d stopped the damn apocalypse for Heaven’s sake, they’d seen Satan himself and lived through it. Angels and demons were agreeing to stand down, at least until they could figure out what to actually do.
And they had done that. Granted, they’d also screwed everything up royally to get there, but he didn’t think that that actually mattered. He was choosing to look on the positive side of things, and he was positive that he and Crowley had done the right thing.
The thought of Crowley brought back the image of him standing in the darkened foyer, looking back at Aziraphale. He was still covered in ash from his car (and maybe the bookstore? Hadn’t Crowley mentioned going into the bookstore while it had been on fire?), his red hair darkened to an almost dirty brown color. His glasses were down a little, just enough that Aziraphale could see the yellow of his eyes, see the way his words had caused them to squint and turned into even thinner slits.
Should he go back? He’s never actually been in Crowley’s apartment before, at least not the one he was currently inhabiting. He moved every few years, claiming that he liked the change of pace, and Aziraphale wondered if there wasn’t something to that. Heaven and Hell never changed, instead choosing to be as static as possible. When they did eventually change it was slowly, and usually not for the best.
Crowley seemed to live in a way that was exactly contrary to that. He changed his clothes, his hair, and sometimes even his names every few years or decades. He loved modern technology, especially when he could use it to mess with humans, and he just seemed to be constantly evolving.
He glanced down at his own clothes. He liked his style, thank you very much, and had no intention of ever really changing it, at least not for the foreseeable future, but he did wonder what Crowley thought of it. Did Crowley see him as stuck in the past as he thought a lot of the demons around him were? He didn’t seem to act like it was a bad thing, if he did, but still Aziraphale couldn’t help but wonder.
He walked around for an hour or so more, watching the few people that were out and about. A couple walked by, holding hands and lowly talking to each other, occasional giggles coming from their direction letting him know that they were likely drunk or in love or both.
A pang went through him as he watched them walk away. They bumped into each other, their laughs echoing in the nearly empty street.
Again, without even meaning to, the thought of Crowley came to him. He remembered the night the bomb fell on the church, how Crowley had just appeared out of nowhere and intervened. How he’d walked across consecrated grounds just to save him.
He wouldn’t have died, obviously, but losing his body would have meant a lot of paperwork for him and a super delayed return to Earth. To Crowley.
But Crowley “dying” in the church could have actually killed him. There was holy water there, as well as plenty of other holy things that could burn a demon to actual death. If Aziraphale hadn’t created a miracle to save them, Crowley might have actually died and not been able to return to him.
Or Earth. That’s what he meant. Crowley might not have been able to return to the Earth and that was why he was sad. He knew how much Crowley loved Earth. That’s all it was.
The night was almost over now, just a couple of hours left until the sun would rise and he would have to figure out what to do. For now he looked up towards the sky. He loved living in the city, loved the fact that there were so many great dining and entertainment opportunities, but at the same time he hated it. There were no stars here, nothing that reminded him of the way Heaven used to look.
He knew that the stars were out there, just beyond the light pollution of the city. If he concentrated and stared hard out into the night sky he could use his powers to see what laid beyond. Crowley had helped to create some of those long, long ago or so he claimed.
He shook his head. Why was he so focused on Crowley right now?
You know why, you idiot, he thought.
Maybe he should go back. He could try and talk to him, try and make him understand why he had been so hesitant to come in, to let things change.
So he turned around. It didn’t take him very long to reach Crowley’s place again, as it seemed he was just circling it without even meaning to.
“Crowley,” he said, knocking on the door. “Crowley!”
He stood at the front door for a few moments, waiting for some sort of response. There wasn’t one. Did that mean that Crowley didn’t want to talk to him? Or that he just couldn’t hear him?
He glanced around and gave a silent miracle to the door, hoping that Heaven wouldn’t notice it was on a demon’s door. Even though they’d seen them together at the end of the world, he didn’t exactly want to call even more attention to themselves.
“Crowley?” he called. The room was empty, both of furniture and demons.
“Are you there?” He moved between the rooms, calling out to his friend as he went. There were plenty of obviously well-cared for house plants and sleek black furniture, but no Crowley.
“Crowley!” he yelled, moving faster. He had to be here. He had to be.
He slid into a room, his foot splashing in a puddle on the floor. There was a high back fancy chair in the room, a desk, a modern TV, and a few more house plants.
Had Crowley spilled some of the water from his house plants on the floor? It wasn’t like the demon to leave a mess, at least not in spaces that he claimed as his own. He might trash a hotel room or a bar or a shop, but his car and previous lodgings were always super clean.
“Crowley?” he asked, glancing around. There was green, shattered plastic on the ground with even more water around it. What the hell?
It took a moment for it to register. It was something that was barely there, almost like trying to smell your own natural scent or cologne after you’d gotten used to it.
But it was there. Holy water.
His eyes shot back to the puddle on the floor. There were some tattered remains of clothes among the water, black clothes that blended in so well with the floor that he hadn’t even noticed them when he’d walked in.
“Crowley!” he screamed. He glanced around the room, as though that might suddenly make his friend appear.
There was no way. No way. Aziraphale had trusted him with that water. He hadn’t thought that… well, that is to say he hadn’t really thought that he’d do anything with it. Especially not after they had won. They’d stopped the apocalypse! Sure they had to deal with Above and Below being a little testy with them, but honestly that was nothing new! These things happened, they happened and they passed and they moved on. They moved on. Both of them. Together.
“Crowley!” he dropped to his knees, reaching towards the water. He wouldn’t touch it, he couldn’t. His best friend had died because of it, those parts floating through there were his remains.
“No, no, no, no,” he said. He wrapped his arms around his middle, hugging himself as tightly as he could. Tears were welling in his eyes, blurring the puddle in front of him. He let them come, no longer caring to hold them back.
He’d lost his friend, his best friend. And maybe, if they’d had more time or been in different situations, his love.
Because he did love him, that much he knew. He’d tried to fight it for so long, knowing what Above and Below would do to Crowley if they had ever found out. He’d heard of the terrible punishments Hell meted out to demons they thought deserved it. And the worst thing about it was the fact that they could literally do it for eternity.
There would be nothing to stop them unless Satan himself decided against it, which he wouldn’t have. Fraternizing with the opposition was one thing, but loving them? Well that was something entirely other.
“Crowley, I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’m so sorry. I came back, okay? I came back. I should’ve never left, but I did and I’m sorry and I came back.”
His head hung low, his curls brushing against the floor. His sobs were loud now, coming in loud and clear as if he were gasping for air. Technically, he didn’t need to breathe, but his body wasn’t acting like it knew that.
“Angel?” Crowley’s voice said from behind him. It was full of sleep and slurred, not entirely there, but definitely him.
Oh, he must have finally snapped. He’d actually lost his mind and was hallucinating Crowley. He’d never thought he’d had a particularly good imagination (as he usually left that part to Crowley) despite his love for books, but his imagination had nailed it. He had that exact amount of sleepiness and confusion that Aziraphale knew the real Crowley got when he was unexpectedly woken up. There was none of the anger that was usually there, but perhaps his imagination was being kind in that aspect.
“I’m sorry,” Aziraphale sobbed, squeezing his eyes closed as tightly as he could. As long as he never opened them again he’d never have to see Crowley’s remains and could just pretend the disembodied voice was the actual Crowley.
“Aziraphale!” Crowley said, this time his voice much louder. There was more than a slight trace if panic in it, as he grew closer. “What’s wrong?”
Suddenly, there were hands on him, touching him, inspecting him. They grabbed his head and forced his head upwards, the tears sliding down his face faster due to gravity. Still, he kept his eyes closed.
“For Go- for Somebody’s sake, what’s wrong?” the fake Crowley asked. The panic in his voice was so real, so true that it hurt Aziraphale. Crowley was gone, he should at least get to be at peace! He shouldn’t ever sound so frantic.
“I’m sorry,” Aziraphale whispered. His voice cracked despite the fact that he tried to hold it together. “I should’ve been there for you. I shouldn’t have left you alone.”
“What the fuck?” Crowley muttered under his breath, so quietly that Aziraphale almost missed it. “Oh shit, oh no, Zira, no, no, no.” His arms moved so that they were wrapped around Aziraphale, engulfing him in the scent of smoke, metal, and something that was uniquely Crowley. Six thousand years they had known each other and he still hadn’t quite figured out what it was.
“I never should have given you that Holy Water,” Aziraphale said. “I knew I shouldn’t have. I was just- just so afraid of what might happen if I didn’t get it for you. Do you know what they would’ve done if they had found you lurking around a church? Or what could’ve happened to you if you had even slightly mishandled it?” He wiped his face with the back of his hand. “Well, I guess you do now. But I couldn’t bear the thought of what might have happened.”
He covered his face with his hands, trying to block everything out. “And now it doesn’t even matter, because you’re gone.”
“Oh, Angel,” Crowley said. “Please open your eyes. Please? For me?” His voice was low, the hiss invading his s’s despite his usual attentiveness to them. It reminded Aziraphale of the first time he’d ever met Crowley, back when he went by Crawley and spent most his time as a snake in the garden.
“No,” he whimpered. “If I do you’ll go away.”
The arms around his back tightened and the fingers flexed, digging into the soft flesh of his sides. “I won’t. I swear I won’t,” Crowley said. “I’m real, Aziraphale. You saved me by giving me that Holy Water.”
Those words caught Aziraphale off guard. His eyes opened against his will as he leaned back slightly. Yellow eyes were staring down at him, the same eyes that he’d never thought he’d see again.
He’d spent far too many years staring at darkened lenses instead of those beautiful, strange, interesting eyes.
“See,” Crowley said, waving a hand over himself. “Still here.”
Aziraphale followed his hand. His body was still there, lanky and still clad in the same black clothes that were covered in ash and soot that he’d seen him in earlier. His hair was stuck up in odd directions the way it sometimes got when he unexpectedly fell asleep, which combined with the way his voice had sounded earlier led him to the belief that he must have passed out soon after getting home.
“What?” Aziraphale said. He placed his hand on Crowley’s chest, pushing it gently and feeling the firm, solid-ness of it below. His eyes darted over to the puddle before coming back up to Crowley’s eyes. “I don’t understand?”
Crowley sighed, his head falling backwards and exposing his long neck. It desperately needed cleaning, there was so much ash and dirt on it that it was hard to see the color of his skin through it.
“I tried to tell you earlier,” he said, his voice once again sounding tired. “Hastur and Ligur came to get me earlier, and I might have dropped some Holy Water right on top of Ligur’s head.”
Aziraphale stared at him in confusion and disbelief. Despite all the things that he had said and thought about Crowley over the years, he’d never known him to actually kill anyone. Not on purpose or directly, anyways, and certainly not one of his own.
“Oh,” he said. He glanced at the puddle again, his feelings still a tornado inside him. While these remains might not belong to his friend, they just as easily could’ve. He still hadn’t quite realized that his friend was here, that he was fine.
Well both of those might be stretching it a little but whatever.
“Were you crying for me, Angel?” Crowley asked, his tone teasing.
Aziraphale flushed again, the urge to deny everything was on the tip of his tongue, but he forced it back. What would be the point now? It would just move them backwards and that was the last thing he wanted to do.
He stared at Crowley for a moment, wondering if what he was doing was right.
Which was a funny thing, that. He’d never had to wonder before if he was doing the right thing. He just ,did the right thing. He was an angel and that’s what they did.
But right here, sitting in Crowley’s floor with tear tracks still staining his face and Crowley looking like he was about to pass out from exhaustion, he couldn’t help but question it.
Instead of thinking about it anymore he just leaned forward.
His lips brushed against Crowley’s. It was nothing more than a brush, barely even recognizable as anything like a kiss, but he felt a spark. And actual spark, not just the way humans described kisses when they were trying to be romantic.
“Ow,” Crowley said, jerking back at the surprise pain from his lips.
He fell back, his hand reaching out behind him to catch himself.
“Fucking shit!” he yelled, jerking back towards Aziraphale. His hand was cradled to his chest, carefully not touching any part of himself while still trying to hold it close. He buried his face in the angel’s shoulder, curses falling from his lips.
“What happened?!” Aziraphale asked. He attempted to push him backwards, just enough for him to get a good look at whatever was wrong with Crowley.
Slowly, Crowley moved back just enough for Aziraphale to get a look.
His hand was scorched red, as if he had scalded it against a burning stove. It was shaking, his other hand wrapped around his wrist as if that might somehow help the pain.
“Oh fuck,” Aziraphale muttered under his breath. He glanced at the water before making the quick decision to grab Crowley by his elbows and pull him to his feet. “Where’s your bathroom?” he asked.
Crowley nodded towards the seldom used room just off the hallway. He bundled him into there, placing the demon’s hand under the faucet and letting some lukewarm water run over it.
He hissed at the pain, jerking his arm backwards. He would have completely pulled it away had Aziraphale not held it in place and kept it under the water.
“Can’t you just like,” he gestured with his undamaged hand, “miracle it away?”
Aziraphale looked at the wound, almost ignoring his comment. “I could,” he said after a moment. “But I just worried what that might do to you since it was Holy Water.”
Crowley hissed again, his snake tongue darting out. “Well, at least it wasn’t the whole bucket.” He glanced back out into the hallway in the direction of Ligur’s remains. “That wouldn’t have been pretty.”
Something cold gripped Aziraphale’s insides at Crowley’s words. The thought of losing his friend, his partner, was even more overwhelming now that he was seeing first hand the kind of damage that it would’ve done to him.
“Hey, Angel,” Crowley said. Gently, he slid his hand from Aziraphale’s and snapped the water off. His palm was still red and likely would be until he got some real rest, but it didn’t seem to be bothering him as much as it had been earlier. “It’s okay. I’m okay.”
Aziraphale nodded. He knew that. He really did know that now. Not that it made it any better that he thought he’d died earlier or that his hand was now hurt because of him, but at least he knew that he wasn’t going to die currently.
Crowley leaned forward, his unhurt hand coming up to bring Aziraphale’s chin up. Before Aziraphale could even realize what the demon was doing, he’d leaned forward and pressed his own lips against the angel’s.
There was less of a spark this time, instead there was a slight burning sensation, almost like a sunburn on their lips. Crowley didn’t seem to mind, however, instead choosing to step closer and press his lips even more firmly against Aziraphale’s.
Aziraphale brought his arms up, wrapping them around Crowley’s neck. The demon was taller than him, but he almost never stood at his full height, instead choosing to slouch and lean and everything else in those categories. This made him the perfect height for Aziraphale to rest his arms on his shoulders and bring him closer.
Eventually, Crowley pulled back, biting his bottom lip as he did so. They were red as well, although it was difficult to tell if that was from the kissing or whatever that burning sensation had been.
“Well,” Crowley said. There was an attempt to sound normal, but not a very good one. His voice was raspy, almost like a gasp. “I’ve waited a long time for that.”
Aziraphale nodded his head before blinking in confusion. “Wait, what?”
“What do you mean you’ve waited a long time for that?” he asked.
Crowley shrugged. “Exactly what I said. I’ve been waiting for a long time for a kiss from my Angel,” he said. That sly grin he got whenever he was thinking up inconveniences and pranks for humans appeared, causing a twist in Aziraphale’s stomach.
He thought back to all the times that smile had been directed at him. “Why didn’t you ever say anything?” he asked, swatting him gently in the stomach.
He moved his hand to rest on his stomach as if it had hurt, but his grin didn’t fade. “Why didn’t you?”
Aziraphale pictured Crowley in the church that night coming to help him. All the times they’d met up in the park together. All the drinks and meals that they’d shared, despite the fact that Crowley usually didn’t eat much of anything.
“I didn’t think you felt the same way,” he said, although it sounded lame to even his ears.
“You didn’t think that I felt the same way?” Crowley asked in disbelief. “You think I’d just hang around any old angel for six thousand years?”
His face flushed again. “Well, maybe not,” he said.
Crowley’s cheeks were also redder than usual. He sighed, running a hand along his face until it came to rest at the back of his neck. “Look, let’s just get some sleep,” he said. “We can talk about the rest of this in the morning.”
Aziraphale glanced out into the hallway where a bit of sunlight was already coming in. “It’s already morning.”
Crowley rolled his eyes but held out his undamaged hand all the same. “Oh shut up,” he said light-heartedly.
Aziraphale took his hand with a smile. He allowed himself to be led out of the bathroom and towards the bedroom that Crowley must have been in before he’d found Aziraphale.
The bed was a mess, the ash from Crowley’s body transfering onto the black and red covers easily enough. He must have barely even made it to the bed if he hadn’t even bothered to magic himself clean before passing out.
“Wait,” Aziraphale said. He gestured towards Crowley and then the bed, nodding with satisfaction when he saw the grime disappear from both.
Crowley seemed to relax even more. “Thanks, Angel,” he said. His body seemed to collapse as he just fell towards the bed. Aziraphale helped him scoot further onto the bed, taking time to cover him up as well.
Crowley’s hand stayed on Aziraphale’s, never once letting go. His eyes were getting heavy, his body relaxing until he was about as solid as gelatin. “Will you stay with me?” he asked.
Aziraphale smiled at the way they were holding hands. “I don’t think you’re exactly giving me a choice, are you?” he asked, even though he would have stayed anyways. There was no way he was leaving. Not now, not ever.
He slid into bed next to Crowley. He’d never spent the night with anyone, not like this anyways. His body was tense as he laid towards the edge of the bed, giving Crowley any and all room he might need. It was his bed after all.
That didn’t last long, however, as Crowley soon slithered up against him. He tucked his head into the crook of the angel’s neck, his arm coming to rest across his chest.
A smile came to Aziraphale’s face. There was a lot that they would need to figure out in the morning, like what they were going to do about the angels and demons on their tails and where he was going to stay and what to do now that the world hadn’t actually ended.
Crowley shifted, nuzzling his face even further in, and he realized that none of that mattered right now. What mattered right now was that Crowley got some sleep and that he was there to watch over him.
“Goodnight, Crowley,” he said and laid his head on top of the demon’s. They had each other and they would get through everything else the same way.