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only one sweet moment set aside for us

Chapter Text

The ducks in St. James’ Park did not seem particularly interested in Aziraphale’s offerings that morning. Although the angel couldn’t have known it, this was because they had previously been fed by an American ambassador, several shifty-eyed members of Parliament, a pair of spies from respective small but warring countries, and one very tall figure in a dark cloak. He had not been feeding the ducks so much as lurking generally nearby, but all the same it had put them rather off their breakfast.

Crowley, at least, was a little more attentive.

“So what you’re saying is you want me to cover for you in Edinburgh next week?”

“If it isn’t too much trouble,” said Aziraphale, who knew all too well that if the Arrangement ever went wrong they could both be in quite a bit of trouble, and felt sheepish enough for two because of it. “Besides, you still owe me from—oh what was it, the sixteenth century?”

“Shakespeare.” Crowley nodded. “I remember. Though I did pay you back with a miracle, didn’t I?”

“Yes, well.” Crowley was not nearly sheepish enough for Aziraphale’s liking. “It was rather a lot of work, last time. Seems as though you got off easy.”

“Oh, alright then, I’ll go to Edinburgh. But you owe me dinner at the Ritz. Tonight.”

Aziraphale tried, and failed, not to grin ridiculously. “I believe that can be arranged.”

 


 

So—alright. Dinner with a demon was probably not on the list of things his higher-ups would typically approve of, strictly speaking. And by “typically” Aziraphale really meant “under no circumstances whatsoever.” But (and this was the excuse he found himself coming up with every time it happened) it was, after all, only dinner.

He was getting rather good at excuses, lately.

He took a cab to the restaurant, and was impressed that the driver was actually marginally less reckless behind the wheel than Crowley, or Crowley on a good day. That was what came of hanging around a demon, he was bound to get himself discorporated one of these days. Though for the meantime, the Arrangement did have its conveniences. That business in Edinburgh was bound to be frightfully dull. He was supposed to put a few good thoughts into the minds of some local politicians, concern for the masses, and all that. It wasn’t that Aziraphale was against politicians, or Edinburgh, for that matter—he’d been responsible for the city’s early development—but some things were tedious no matter where they took place. His latest assignments always seemed to lack craftsmanship, they lacked style. It was all rather glum, if he thought too hard about it.

It was the spring of 1990. So far Crowley maintained that the impending twenty-first century was bound to be a vast improvement even upon its predecessor, though Aziraphale’s hopes were a little more reserved. They were doing some wonderful things with music, those humans—not the music itself, mind you, which was all a little over his head these past few decades, but the ways in which it could be transmitted. Compact discs had been a wonderful invention, and the future seemed like it might contain more of the same, only better.

On the other hand, keeping a small, under-the-radar secondhand bookshop in Soho increasingly demanded miracles of its own.

“‘Ere you are then.”

Aziraphale got out of the cab and scanned his surroundings. Crowley must already be inside. Well, of course. Dinner was one thing, but being seen cavorting out in the open together could really bring them some of that trouble he’d been feeling so righteously penitent about earlier.

Crowley was not waiting at their usual table. They didn’t have a usual table. He was seated at the back of the room, lounging really, in that maddening way of his—like sauntering but sitting down. The table was well away from the windows, but he still had on those infernal sunglasses. Literally infernal, in his case. He held up a single hand, he could’ve been waving at anyone.

Aziraphale approached him, heartbeat surging suddenly, and took a seat. Crowley gave him an appraising glance.

“Aren’t I supposed to be the late one?”

“I’m not late,” said Aziraphale, cowed, “you’re early. I managed to find a London cab driver who obeys traffic laws like a reasonable person.”

“Pity for him.” A pause. “I see you’ve changed into another of your ridiculous bowties in honor of the occasion.”

“Oh shut it, you.”

It was tartan. Aziraphale was very proud.

They were quiet a while. In times gone by, after he’d reluctantly agreed to the Arrangement but still so very long ago, Aziraphale had tried to fill Crowley’s silences with timid chatter, thinking it the polite thing to do even if he was talking to an agent of the underworld. Now it had been at least half a millennium since he’d felt the need. Crowley loved the sound of his own voice, but he was the brooding sort, and Aziraphale had become content with that. At the moment, Crowley was brooding in the direction of his soup dish, staring into the depths of his tomato bisque as though he expected something to rise from beneath it.

“It’s quite good, you know.”

“Pardon?”

“The soup.”

“Ah. Right.”

“Is there something on your mind, Crowley?”

“No.” He sighed. “Yes. How long do you think we can keep going on like this?”

Aziraphale frowned. “Like what?”

“You know. I cover for you, you cover for me, all this dancing around each other in secret.”

“But you’ve always told me it’s easier for us both this way,” Aziraphale said. “Are you backing out on me?”

He should've felt relieved, but instead he felt almost hurt at the suggestion. He shook his head at himself. Perhaps he’d grown too complacent this past century.

“I’m not backing out,” Crowley said, “but I’m beginning to think you might be right. Someone’s bound to notice us, and sooner rather than later.”

“Crowley.” Aziraphale put a hand to his heart, touched. “You’re feeling guilty after all. I knew there was some good in you.”

“Don’t you dare,” said Crowley, though if Aziraphale wasn’t mistaken he’d gone a little red. “That’s not my point at all. What I’m saying is—well…” He faltered. “Just be careful, okay? There’s trouble brewing down below.”

“There is always trouble brewing in Hell.” Aziraphale raised his hands defensively as Crowley glared at him. “But point taken! You, er, look after yourself as well.”

“I always do.”

Trouble brewing. That reminded Aziraphale of something else that had been on his mind lately. He cleared his throat. “Do you ever think about the end of the world?”

Crowley gave him a blank look.

“You know,” Aziraphale continued, somewhat self-consciously, “the apocalypse, the battle between Heaven and Hell, the seas of blood.”

“Oh, that end of the world,” Crowley said, with withering sarcasm. “Of course. I’m a demon, what demon doesn’t like to think about the apocalypse every now and then?”

“It’s just that I’ve been hearing…you know, er, things.”

Crowley lifted a single eyebrow. If sarcasm was what he was doing before, Aziraphale didn’t know what to call this. “Things?

“My side seems to be thinking about it too. Rather more than usual, I mean, from what I’ve gathered. Although Gabriel isn’t one for details.”

“Your side.” This at only half a murmur, though Aziraphale could hear his tone quite clearly.

“Yes,” he said, uncomfortably. Somehow the whole idea of sides lost its simplicity when he was with Crowley, not that he could ever admit it. He looked down at his empty bowl instead.

“Anyway,” said Crowley, “that’s at least a century off, I reckon. Looks like we’re stuck with the Earth and each other for a while longer.”

Aziraphale gave a short laugh, though he felt uneasy. “A while, yes. Pity us.”

Their dessert arrived, then, a truly divine crème brûlée, every bite thoroughly delicious. As Aziraphale tucked in with enthusiasm, forgetting for a moment his earlier disquiet, he caught Crowley looking at him out of the corner of his eye, a funny smile on his face. Unfamiliar, but not entirely unwelcome. How odd. He even swindled the waiter into giving them both a free second helping while Aziraphale wasn’t paying attention, and failed miserably at pretending to be stoic when Aziraphale beamed up at him in response. That was Crowley. They might be adversaries, but they’d been a part of each other’s lives for thousands of years now. Try as he might, that wasn’t something Aziraphale could easily cast aside.

So it seemed they would have to continue putting up with one another, and the world too. He considered the notion on the way back to the bookshop, turning it over in his mind with care. Then he gave a wide smile. A pity indeed.

Chapter Text

As it turned out, the end of the world arrived quite a bit sooner than either Crowley or Aziraphale had anticipated. Foolish optimism, Aziraphale chided himself, and then stopped. Shouldn’t he be glad the twilight hour had finally arrived? The whole Heaven versus Hell thing being a part of the ineffable plan, of course.

Crowley was not glad. Not at all. But that was in his nature.

“No more bookshops,” he had said, trying to impress upon Aziraphale the urgency of the situation. And no antique shops either, or newspaper crosswords, or, to use Crowley’s exact words, “fascinating little restaurants where they know you.” And that all summed up Aziraphale’s life on Earth rather well, didn’t it?

So he’d agreed, as he always found himself agreeing, to put up with Crowley’s scheme. Aziraphale knew it was not for him to judge, or even to dare voicing an opinion, but deep in his heart, he didn’t understand how Heaven could abide the destruction of the entire world. Not when it was still bursting with all the delightful, irresistible eccentricities of life.

And he had to admit, he was rather pleased with his progress as co-godfather of the young Warlock. The boy was showing real potential, or the potential for potential, at any rate. And it meant he got to keep a closer eye on Crowley, to make sure he wasn’t up to any demonic business in the meantime. (Although he never did seem to be working on anything terribly nefarious. Mostly he just took an inordinate amount of glee in annoying London’s commuter public.)

Beyond keeping a close eye on him, this new arrangement (no uppercase letter) meant that Aziraphale had to keep close to Crowley, period, in the literal sense. In the past, they’d run into one another infrequently, done favors here and there, but these days they saw each other almost regularly. And yet to Aziraphale it didn’t feel all that different from before, this new rhythm they’d settled into, which had him concerned about what he’d feel like once everything returned to normal.

If the world could ever be normal again, after the apocalypse.

As they each worked to educate Warlock in the ways of good and evil, respectively, something else had begun to bother Aziraphale. He had never been a schoolboy, but sometimes Crowley had the uncanny ability to make him feel like one, the peculiar jubilation he’d always associated with a uniquely human period of youth. He should’ve been old enough to know better by a few thousand years, but here he was.

At the heart of things, Crowley was unlike any angel he’d ever met, which was probably why Heaven had kicked him out. (And if you keep this up, a voice in the back of Aziraphale’s head told him, you might not be in Heaven’s good graces for much longer either. He shushed it the way he might a particularly bothersome customer at the bookshop.) Even several millennia later, Crowley still managed to catch him off-guard.

Like right now, for instance.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.”

The conversation began along ordinary lines, as Crowley settled into his familiar refrain.

“The boy’s still too normal. We must be missing something, something I haven’t thought of.”

“And what do you suppose we should do about it?” Aziraphale was worried enough about the impending apocalypse as it was, he didn’t need Crowley to go doing it for him. “We’ve just got to wait and see how he reacts to the hellhound, you said so yourself.”

They were seated together on the grassy expanse of a little park, tucked around the bend of a back road with no pond or ducks to feed, away from the city but not far at all from Warlock’s family residence. Or rather, Aziraphale was seated, and Crowley was lounging. There was a distinct difference, and it had something to do with being propped up on an elbow, wearing a roguish grin.

Though at the present moment, Crowley was not grinning.

“I’ll stick with this thing to the very end, if that’s what it takes. But—

“But what?”

“It might be better for us, individually at least, if we gave it up,” said Crowley, very casually. Too casually, although no one who hadn’t spent the better part of the Earth’s lifetime with him would’ve been able to tell.

“What are you saying?”

“Has it occurred to you yet that even if we do succeed, there might not be a place for us in the world afterwards? Even Hell only appreciates the manageable kind of rebellion.”

Aziraphale sighed. “I suppose I’ve been rather avoiding that thought. But I’m surprised to hear you mention it, after you worked so hard convincing me to join you.”

“I just mean—whatever could happen to us on our own, the wrath of the beyond, and all, we could face it if we stay together. We make a good team,” said Crowley. “Don’t we?”

“We’re not a—

Aziraphale stopped himself.

“We rather do,” he admitted.

He felt the old guilt creeping in again, but after so many centuries it was more like a habit, or perhaps a tradition. Heaven and Hell were far away, and underneath it all Crowley wasn’t—well he was not exactly a demon demon, in the fire and brimstone sense. There was more to him than that, Aziraphale believed (because he had to, yes, but also because he liked to think he knew Crowley better than anyone else, in this world or the next).

They stared across the grass at one another. Crowley’s face, Aziraphale realized, was by this point in time just as familiar to him as his own. He would not feel quite right if the owner of that face were snatched away from him for the purpose of some futile opposite-sides war. Which was why they couldn’t give up.

“Even if the world does come to an end,” he said, hesitantly, “it’s been—well. It’s been fun.”

“Mmm.” Crowley nodded. “Then I suppose the world can’t blame us if we keep trying.”

He stood up, then, and strode across the grass to where the Bentley was parked some ten meters away. He stuck his arm through the window and dug around in the glove compartment, pulling out a CD, which he jammed into the vehicle’s stereo system. This was not a feature of the original model, but had been willed into existence years ago after cassette tapes went out of fashion. A few moments later, one of his perpetually melancholy tunes rang out into the still air.

“What do you think?”

Aziraphale gave him a blank look. “You know this modern stuff isn’t really my sty—

“Not the music,” said Crowley, taking a step closer. “Dance with me.”

“I think you must be quite out of your mind,” said Aziraphale, as his heart gave a funny stutter.

Ah, the grin was back. “And why’s that?”

“Angels don’t dance.”

“But you do.”

He flushed. “That’s quite another matter.”

“Why?”

He felt trapped under the weight of Crowley’s gaze, unable to bear it, unable to look away. Crowley had been right, a couple decades ago, that the arrival of the twenty-first century would bring unprecedented changes, as it turned out not only for the world at large, but for the pair of them in particular.

“I’ve always considered dancing to be such a human thing,” Aziraphale confessed. “I think I’d feel rather silly doing it now, like I was play-acting.”

“But we’re already pretending to be human, for the sake of the antichrist. You could consider it…method acting.”

“I hadn’t thought about it like that.”

I never thought this day would end…

I never thought tonight could ever be this close to me

“What is it you’re listening to, anyway?”

“The Cure. 80s music, a little after your time.”

“Hmph.” Aziraphale sniffed. “Sounds like be-bop to me.”

Crowley groaned. “That’s no even a word real people use—

He stopped when he saw Aziraphale was laughing at him softly. The setting sun flashed against his glasses, and caught on the currents of bronze in his hair. It was late August, a hot day that had cooled into a perfectly pleasant evening.

“Well,” said Aziraphale, “it’s about to be the end of the world. Why not?”

There were no stray pedestrians in sight, no Gabriel posing as a jogger and lying in wait to jump out of the bushes, which had lately become one of his favorite disguises. Only the two of them.

With a caution so unlike him, Crowley approached Aziraphale and grasped his arm, holding him with such wild tenderness. How strange it is, Aziraphale thought, that this human version of touch could reduce one so suddenly to something neither immortal nor even quite mortal in its essence. Under Crowley’s fingertips, he became a creature of the moment only. The world, and its inevitable end, were as insignificant as the sounds of the cars passing by in the distant lane.

“I rather think—,” he said, and stopped. He felt that if he voiced his thoughts aloud, this moment and whatever fleeting magic it held over him would vanish as quickly as it had arrived.

Instead, he pulled Crowley just a little closer to him. And for the first time in more than a century, Aziraphale began to dance.

Chapter Text

As it turned out, the world did not end. The nuclear crisis was averted, the legions of Heaven and Hell stood down, and the world returned to its usual self—only just slightly different from before. Aziraphale could not exactly acquiesce to the entirety of Adam Young’s taste in literature, but he was very glad to have his bookshop back. For his part, Crowley was in equal measure fond and suspicious of the reconstituted Bentley. Sometimes he took Aziraphale out driving in it, although he always went much too fast.

For the first few weeks, Aziraphale kept expecting this newly-minted serenity to come crashing down around him, and the battle to begin anew. He and Crowley had bought some time for the world (with much help), and for their own situation as well, but neither act could escape consequences forever. Aziraphale had been told to choose between Heaven and Hell and had sided with the world instead, surely a greater sin even than if he’d joined the ranks of the fallen down below. But wasn’t God supposed to love the world? Or perhaps that, too, was ineffable.

Still, as time went on, he found himself relaxing into his ordinary routine, with a few adjustments. The respective administrations above and below had thus far kept silent on the subject of new assignments, having probably decided that, for everyone’s comfort, Aziraphale and Crowley were best left alone, and so the need for the Arrangement dissolved. This left Aziraphale without an excuse to call on Crowley, and though they still found reason enough to meet up on occasion, after spending so much time together trying to avert the apocalypse their sudden absence from one another’s lives felt strange. Or at least, it did to Aziraphale. He was somehow afraid to presume Crowley’s view of the matter.

In ways Aziraphale had not previously considered, their situation had been complicated by their success. They had not been enemies for a very long time now, he had to admit, and yet their relationship could no longer fall back on the base assumption that it existed primarily because they were useful to one another. That left them in uncharted territory.

The next time Crowley paid him a visit, Aziraphale tried to observe if there were any changes in his behavior since the almost-doomsday. In almost every respect he was his usual self, but once or twice Aziraphale thought he caught a glimmer of unease, almost awkwardness, which was unlike the perpetually coolheaded demon he knew.

“Shall we go driving, then?”

“I’ll only say yes if you agree to follow the speed limit this time.”

“I won’t make you any promises I can’t keep,” said Crowley, but in the end Aziraphale accompanied him anyway.

They left London and the M25 behind them, driving without any particular destination in mind, only for the sake of each other’s company. Crowley had music on, Vivaldi this time and not be-bop, and a comfortable silence stretched between them. Once and a while, Aziraphale would make a comment on some charming country scenery they passed, and Crowley would hum agreeably, or insert some brief, benign insight. But when they turned around and started back for the city, the pattern of the evening shifted.

“So you’ve been well?”

The question took Aziraphale by surprise. It was a pleasantry, and Crowley didn’t go in for pleasantries.

“Do you want something out of me, is that it?”

Crowley’s brow wrinkled. “Why would I—I’m just asking after how you are lately. You know, making ordinary conversation.”

“It’s weird when you do that.”

There were a few moments of silence, and then Aziraphale added, “If you must know, I have been well, although I find I don’t have much to do these days.”

“Why not come bother me about it sometime?”

“I can never find a proper excuse to come and see you.”

“You don’t need an excuse to visit an old friend,” said Crowley.

Aziraphale nodded. “So we’re friends, then?”

“Aren’t we?”

Crowley wouldn’t meet his eye. It took Aziraphale a while to answer. When he spoke at last, his voice was quiet.

“Yes, we are. I suppose—

He broke off, and Crowley cast a sly look at him from over the steering wheel. “You suppose what?”

“Don’t make me say it.”

“Oh, go on.”

“I suppose,” said Aziraphale, taking a rather shaky breath, “that you, Crowley, are my best friend. Whatever that distinction may mean to you.”

“A great deal,” Crowley murmured, with rare sincerity. After that, they couldn’t quite think of what to say to each other.

When Aziraphale arrived home later that night, he thought for a long time about what exactly had passed between them. “Friend” was a true enough word, even if the ring to it wasn’t exactly right. But what could he ever say that would do the pair of them justice? You must know that a future without you would be untenable. You are absolutely necessary to me. That was far too fervent, too Basil Hallward. Aziraphale’s faith in the certainty of Crowley’s presence wasn’t a plea, it was a fact of life.

Crowley had been there with him through the beginning and (almost) end of the world. Aziraphale knew instinctively that the two of them would stay together until the next apocalypse, and whatever fresh horrors that came with it. And when he thought about in such simple terms as that, it really didn’t seem like anything worth getting too worked up about.

It did seem like something he should own up to, though.

The next day, before he could think on it even longer and change his mind, he rang Crowley with a proposal.

“The next time we have one of our…er, meetings, let’s do it at your place.”

“But you don’t like my place. You say it’s too gloomy and pristine.”

“Like a TV ad, not like a real flat at all.” Aziraphale paused. “But I—I’d like to see you.”

A moment passed before what was apparently the most eloquent response Crowley could muster:

“Oh.”

And Aziraphale felt rather pleased at being able to render his friend speechless. The world still had surprises in store for him, it seemed.

“Then I’ll see you tomorrow?”

Crowley seemed to have recovered something of his composure. “How about tonight instead?”

“If you insist.”

Several hours later Aziraphale was outside his door with takeaway and a grin.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been here, hasn’t it? I’d like to see how those plants are getting on.”

“They’re flourishing with absolute perfection, if they know what’s good for them.”

“Oh, you’re too hard on the poor things.” Aziraphale tried to give them all an encouraging smile while Crowley wasn’t looking.

Unsure of quite what else to do, they set in on the box of sushi and tried rather awkwardly to make small talk. This proved to be another of those post-apocalypse difficulties: imminent mortal peril worked wonders on one’s conversational abilities. It left no room for all this fluff and dithering.

“Right then,” Crowley said, when they’d finished the last bite of uramaki.

“Yes, well,” said Aziraphale.

They both glanced quickly down at their plates.

“I’ll put the telly on,” said Crowley. Aziraphale nodded.

The sound of some late-night talk show filled the silence between them, but it couldn’t cover the restless tension that had descended over the apartment. Hesitantly, Aziraphale took a seat at one end of the couch, and Crowley sank down at the other.

“Read any good books lately?” Crowley asked, rather politely—for him—and so Aziraphale told him all about a fantasy novel he’d picked up on a whim, some delightfully fanciful nonsense about a boy who grew up in a graveyard, and the strange atmosphere began to fade a bit into something more familiar.

The hours crept past them. One nice thing about being an immortal was that sleep wasn’t a necessity for Aziraphale, only an agreeable novelty, though right now he didn’t feel much like sleeping at all. He felt rather strangely like an adolescent, or like the not-exactly-teenage self he’d been convinced was already only a distant memory. It was a little thrilling.

“I win again,” said Crowley. “You’re distracted.”

The two of them had started up playing cards, although neither was very fond of card games. Aziraphale always kept a deck on him, in case he ever needed to perform an emergency magic trick, but Crowley had immediately squashed that idea.

“Perhaps we should do something else,” said Aziraphale. And Crowley’s grin—now that definitely stirred the teenager inside of him.

“What did you have in mind?”

They went out walking together. The night air was cool against Aziraphale’s skin, but not unpleasantly so. He bit his lip, not exactly sure what he wanted to say or how he wanted to say it, but filled with the pressing need to say something.

“We have fun together, don’t we?”

Crowley cast him a brief, searching look before answering. Aziraphale was glad that in the darkness he couldn’t see the sudden flush across his face.

“I’ll be damned. I never thought I’d hear you admit it.”

Aziraphale bristled. “What do you mean?”

“You’re very stubborn sometimes, you know that?”

“And you’re not? Besides, I’m can’t be that stubborn, or else I’d never have let you talk me into our Arrangement all those years ago.”

Crowley paused. His eyes had turned away from Aziraphale now, he was gazing out at an approaching pair of headlights on the road beside them.

“Are you glad you did?”

“Of course,” said Aziraphale, surprised at his own lack of hesitation.

“Me too,” Crowley said. “You see, in the end it wasn’t such a disaster after all.”

“In the end,” Aziraphale repeated.

Perhaps the world had not ended, but the previous era that had ruled over it was now drawn to a close. Even as he and Crowley learned, piece by piece, how to navigate what this conclusion meant for them, Aziraphale felt as though they stood perched at the cusp of a new beginning, stretched out ahead of them like the ocean below the steep drop of a cliff face.

They passed a pair of shadowed figures, hands clasped as they huddled close against the night. After a moment, without speaking, Crowley wrapped Aziraphale’s fingers in his own, and they walked on together. Aziraphale realized that without noticing it, they had walked all the way back to his bookshop. The texture of the darkness had changed to one that would soon bring the tentative first light of dawn.

“I don’t think I’m going to be much good at this,” said Aziraphale, as they stopped outside his front door.

“Which part, exactly?”

Aziraphale waved his hand—the one that was not holding Crowley’s—to indicate their general situation.

“I might as well try it out, though,” he continued, and a slow grin spread over Crowley’s face.

For a moment, the many millions of grins Aziraphale had witnessed throughout their lifetimes flashed across his mind, how long he’d spent noticing them without noticing it himself. Had it been that way from the beginning, had his chest always felt so light whenever they happened to run into each other, whenever Crowley had managed to catch him off his guard?

They were standing just a little closer now. Aziraphale felt the weight of centuries on his tongue, of stolen glances and carefully maintained separation, of all the suppressed possibilities squeezed into the space between. Crowley’s shoulder pressed into his own, provoking other thoughts entirely.

“Come for a drive?” he asked, voice like a shiver of smoke over water. “We could stop at St. James’ Park first. Feed the ducks.”

“I have to set the shop in order,” said Aziraphale, ignoring his quickening heartbeat. “Close up for the day.” He let go of Crowley’s hand, backing up and arching an eyebrow. “You might have to wait for me.”

“You’re a bastard,” Crowley murmured. Aziraphale beamed at him.

“And you’re not nearly as much of one as you pretend to be,” he said. “Give me ten minutes?”

“Five.”

“Seven and I’m all yours.”

Aziraphale ducked inside, deciding to make it eight just because he could. He thought he might be absolutely terrified, or else the happiest he’d ever been in his life. Funny how alike those two sensations felt. He glanced through the window at Crowley and thought the demon looked very happy indeed.

He remembered, suddenly, a day at the park, dinner at the Ritz, only a few decades ago even if it felt like much, much longer. He’d made all kinds of excuses to himself, back then, for the sea of want inside of him. But in this future ahead of them, the one he’d never let himself imagine, there was no need for excuses anymore.

Aziraphale stepped out of the shop, and this time, he was the one who took Crowley’s hand.

“Well,” he said, “are you ready?”