“Do you remember what they looked like before I Fell?”
Aziraphale only hummed in response, he was poring over the newest addition to the shop. Cocoa forgotten next to him, Aziraphale was lost to this world in favor of the words of some long-dead scholar. How unfair, he thought, that angels like Gabriel were blessed with limitless time while Newton and Socrates were bound by human life spans. Suddenly, he became aware of Crowley’s expectant gaze.
“Sorry dear boy, I’m afraid I got lost for a moment there. Did you need something?”
Crowley huffed in response and flopped into the nearest armchair, sending dust and loose pages dancing to the floor. “I asked,” Crowley began, left hand rubbing his temple “if you remembered what my eyes looked like before the Almighty decided I asked too many questions?” The silence that followed was sagging under the weight of 6,000 years. Aziraphale’s classical music, which had been playing softly in the background, was now deafening. The angel cleared his throat, tugging at his collar, which suddenly seemed too tight.
“Forget it, it was a stupid question, I don’t know why I asked” Crowley’s sharp words were dulled by the break in his voice. His eyes were closed and his legs were thrown casually over one leg of the chair, but his breath was shaky.
“Oh dear, oh darling, oh my dear Crowley” Aziraphale fretted and fumbled out of his chair to kneel next to Crowley and take his hand “Please tell me what’s wrong.”
For the first time in several centuries, Aziraphale saw a tear trace its way down Crowley’s angled face. Without thinking, the angel reached up to wipe it away. Several minutes were spent in this vigil, Aziraphale kneeling before the rickety chair upon which his friend lay, in quiet anguish.
Crowley took a shuddering breath and Aziraphale looked up, desperate for a way in, for a way to help. “When I Fell,” Crowley opened his eyes, the black slits swimming in pools of molten gold “She told me that as Punishment, I would be marked for the rest of my days. Marked in a way that would never allow anyone to trust me. That’s why I’m the Serpent, and why even in a human body I bare the Serpent’s eyes. I’ve tried everything, angel. Contacts, surgery, miracles, even tried cutting my eyes out once,” Aziraphale gasped in muted horror while Crowley smiled ruefully “but She always wins.”
His tears were falling fast now, but Crowley remained motionless. Aziraphale leaned forward and took Crowley’s face in both of his hands. Normally the demon would have pulled away from such contact, but he needed this; he needed someone, he needed Aziraphale. The shop was still. Gold eyes met blue and begged silently, please, they whispered, tell me I haven’t always been a monster.
“I can’t tell you that I know what you looked like before,” Aziraphale began “but I can tell you that She was wrong.”
Crowley’s eyes widened and he latched onto Aziraphale’s hands with his own “Please don’t say that, angel. She’ll hear you. You’ll Fall. You’ll end up like me.” The angel offered him a small smile.
“That’s hardly a concern. She has far more pressing matters than what I might or might not say. Besides, I am only telling the truth and honesty is a virtue.” Crowley opened his mouth to protest but Aziraphale continued “You have been the one dependable thing in 6,000 years of chaos. The one I can count on to bail me out, to take me out to lunch, and to be a pain in my side,” Aziraphale smiled “Yes, your eyes are…different; but the only thing She did when She made them was give me another thing to love about you.”
The stillness of the shop was shattered by Crowley’s first sob. If Aziraphale had not been on the floor already, Crowley would have completely collapsed. Instead, the angel pulled him off of the chair and into his chest. He rubbed his thumb in small circles over Crowley’s cheekbone while the demon cried.
After a while, neither of them bothering to keep track of time or break the safe embrace, Crowley turned his face to look up at Aziraphale. “Is this,” Crowley began softly, his voice raw from emotion, “is this what forgiveness and unconditional love feels like? Oh, angel, the Almighty should take lessons from you.” Aziraphale simply smiled and pressed a kiss to each of Crowley’s eyelids.