Chapter 1: Liverpool
Crowley drove his Bentley from London to Liverpool in three hours flat. The drive was cathartic, in a way; he blasted Queen’s greatest hits and sang along, he consumed a copious amount of fast food while steering with one hand – not his usual style, but he found the stuff was starting to grow on him – and he added stupid stickers to the back windows of several people’s cars, just for something to do. He’d never have admitted it out loud, but he was doing all these things not just to entertain himself, but to fill the silence of a car with no angel in it.
He shook his head to clear it and pulled into a miraculously available parking spot near the Liverpool One shopping center. It wasn’t particularly close to his destination, but he needed the walk to clear his head before he met up with his acquaintance.
It was a nice night. The air was mild and there was a light breeze. The sun was going down over the river Mersey in a blur of red and orange. Crowley looked to the sky and thought about how, if things had gone a little differently, he could be up there right now with his angel, doing things he’d dreamed about doing for six thousand years.
He glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then took off his sunglasses and wiped them on his shirt. He put them back on and stuffed his hands in his pockets as he headed toward Lime Street.
He hadn’t been to Liverpool in a few years, but he knew where he was going: a Spanish-style tapas restaurant near the Lime Street station. That was where his acquaintance would be.
When Crowley entered the restaurant, he spotted her immediately: Livinia, the only demon in the universe he could honestly say he liked. She was sitting at the bar with a glass of white wine in her hand and a small plate of meatballs in front of her, idly swiping about on a smartphone. Unlike a lot of demons Crowley knew, she had some idea of modern technology. Also unlike many other demons, she didn’t look…well, like hell, even though that was where she spent most of her time. In her human form she had dark, luxurious hair that tumbled down in waves to frame a pretty face, and her eyes were relatively humanlike. They were black, like Hastur’s, but at least there was a clear demarcation between the pupil and the iris. At least, unlike Crowley, she didn’t have to wear sunglasses all the time in order not to frighten the humans.
“Livinia,” Crowley said in greeting as he approached her.
The female demon nearly spit the wine out of her mouth. She recovered herself quickly and swallowed hard, staring at Crowley.
“Crowley!” she exclaimed. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“I heard you were up here.”
“Hastur mentioned it.”
“Well.” Livinia speared one of her meatballs on a fork and popped it into her mouth. “Since this is all gonna be gone in a matter of days,” she said, talking with her mouth full, “I figured I’d better get up here and see it while I still could.”
“And Below just…let you go? With all the preparations for the great battle going on?”
Livinia shrugged. “They’re so busy I don’t think anyone even noticed me leave. Except for Hastur, obviously, but he’s got his own problems to deal with.” She regarded Crowley with an interested gaze. “You kicked everything off, didn’t you?” she asked. “With…well, with the kid and all?”
“Yeah,” muttered Crowley. He could hardly explain to Livinia that he had no idea where the Antichrist was, or that he and Aziraphale had helped look after the wrong child for eleven years.
Livinia ate another meatball. “I’ve always liked the food up here,” she commented. “You want a glass of wine?”
“Well, what did you come here for, then? This isn’t a coincidence. You wanted to talk to me.”
“No,” Crowley said softly. “No, it’s not a coincidence.”
“Drink, mate?” the bartender asked, stopping across from Crowley. Livinia gave him a meaningful glance.
“I suppose…I’ll have a tequila,” Crowley said.
The bartender nodded. “Another wine, love?” he asked Livinia, who nodded and pushed her glass at him.
“So out with it, Crowley,” Livinia said. “What’s up?”
“I…” Crowley hesitated, unsure exactly what to tell her. “I uh, I thought you might be able to tell me how it’s going? Down there?” He cringed when he heard how uncertain he sounded.
Livinia raised a skeptical eyebrow. “You don’t really care about that,” she said. “I’ve known you a long time, Crowley. You wouldn’t waste your time coming all the way up to Liverpool just to ask me about something that isn’t even important to you, especially not when the world is ending and you could be out there enjoying it.” With a quick flash of her hand, she whipped Crowley’s glasses off and looked into his eyes. Crowley snatched them back from her, but she’d already seen all she needed to.
“Ah,” she said. “I get it. You’re lonely.”
Crowley didn’t bother to deny it. He just kicked back the tequila shot the bartender had just brought for him.
“Where’s your angel?” Livinia asked. “Left you, has he?”
“Yes.” Crowley started morosely into his now-empty shot glass. Livinia signaled the bartender to bring him another.
“Do you want to talk about it?” she asked.
Crowley sighed. “Yeah, I do,” he replied.
“Aziraphale, please. I am begging you. I’m throwing all my demonic pride out the window and begging you. Please get in the car.” Crowley gestured expansively, indicating an imaginary Bentley. “I’ll take you anywhere you want. We can go anywhere; anywhere in the whole universe. You and me. It’s not like we really need to breathe, or live on Earth, or anything like that. We just need each other. Well, I need you.” Distressed, he leaned forward; touching his forehead to the mirror he was pretending was Aziraphale. He looked into his own eyes, gold and reptilian in the dying light of late afternoon.
“Yeah,” he muttered. “I wouldn’t go with me, either. Ah, Heaven, this is pathetic.”
Crowley glanced at his watch. He was running out of time. He took a deep breath, left his flat, and got into the Bentley.
As he drove to Aziraphale’s bookshop, Crowley rehearsed his speech again and again in his head, trying to find the combination of words most likely to convince Aziraphale to run away with him. The depth of his feelings for the angel had become impossible to ignore, though he’d been trying valiantly for centuries. Demons weren’t supposed to fall in love – Crowley wasn’t even sure this was love, having had precious little in his existence to compare it to – but he liked Aziraphale so much, and felt such a strong desire to protect him and make him happy in any way he could, that he couldn’t imagine what else it could be.
Crowley reached the bookshop and got out of the car. He didn’t bother to knock on the door, just pushed it open. Aziraphale was sitting at his desk, glasses on, scribbling something on a piece of paper, and he looked up when Crowley came in.
“Crowley? What are you doing here?”
“I came to talk to you, angel. Look, I’ve been thinking. We can’t stop Armageddon, right; but neither of us really wants to be a part of it, right; so I thought, I mean, let’s just say screw it all, right; bugger it all, and go live in space somewhere!” He was rambling, and he knew it, but for all the time he’d spent trying to come up with something to say, now that he was here, he couldn’t be clever, just desperate.
“We have so many options, Aziraphale; so many possibilities. Look, I brought a map!” Crowley pulled a folded-up diagram of the solar system out of the breast pocket of his jacket and spread it out in front of Aziraphale, smoothing the creases with his palms. “Look; I’ve always thought Saturn was quite nice-looking. Real intricate design work on the part of the Almighty, eh? Or we could go to Neptune, if that’s more your style; I know how much you like a good stiff breeze-”
“Crowley,” Aziraphale interrupted, “you’re talking nonsense!”
“I mean, we don’t have to stick to this solar system, angel, if you don’t want; we could go live in another galaxy, maybe; or-”
“Crowley!” Aziraphale said, louder this time, “we’re not going anywhere!”
Crowley looked Aziraphale in the eyes, then sighed and folded the diagram back up. He slid it back into his breast pocket. “Alright,” he said. “Alright, angel. We’ll stay here and go down with the planet. Make our stand. There might still be something we can do!”
“We’re not going to be able to do anything, Crowley,” Aziraphale said. “There’s nothing to be done. I spoke to the Metatron – that’s the, ah, voice of God – it turns out, Heaven’s not interested in averting the war. They want to fight. This is part of the plan.”
“Of course it’s part of the bloody plan!” Crowley cried. He was getting frustrated now. “I told you Heaven wouldn’t listen! I told you, I told you, that talking to them wouldn’t change anything! Now come on, angel, the world is going to end tomorrow! Either pick a planet or a star or whatever and come with me, or-”
“No,” Aziraphale said, and it was the subtle crack in his voice that made Crowley freeze and listen. Dread crept into his awareness as he realized what Aziraphale was really planning to do.
“Crowley, my dear boy, we’re…” Aziraphale trailed off, swallowed, and stood up straighter. When he spoke again, his voice was stern. “We’ve got to stop kidding ourselves, Crowley. I’m an angel, and you’re a demon. Our very natures are opposed. We can’t work together here. The Arrangement means nothing now.”
“Nothing?” Crowley felt his own voice catch. “Six thousand years of working together and being friends mean nothing now, do they? They still meant something when we found out Armageddon was coming, but now that it’s here, oh no, can’t be seen fraternizing with the enemy-”
“We never had a chance of stopping it,” Aziraphale said with uncharacteristic coldness. “It’s over now. We’ve got to go and join our respective sides before it’s too late.”
“Aziraphale, please,” Crowley begged. “You’re my best friend. I don’t want to go anywhere you aren’t!” He bit his lip. That might have been too much honesty.
Aziraphale’s face softened for a moment, but he quickly schooled it back into a set, unyielding expression. “Get out, Crowley,” he said. “We. Are. Not. Friends.”
Crowley stood, stunned. Demons weren’t even supposed to have feelings, but Aziraphale had just hurt Crowley’s, and judging by the look in his eyes, the angel knew it.
“Fine,” Crowley said. He wanted to say more, but he couldn’t, and he left the bookshop thinking that this must be what heartbreak felt like.
Livinia was nodding at him over her wineglass, her black eyes sympathetic. “That really is shit,” she said.
“Yeah,” Crowley replied.
“I mean, really. What a time for him to break up with you.”
“Break up with-”
“Oh, don’t try to tell me you weren’t together. I’ve seen how you pine for that angel for thousands of years.”
“Too bad he doesn’t know,” Crowley commented. He couldn’t argue with her, because she was right. He’d been trying for ages to figure out how to tell Aziraphale how he felt, but he’d never been able to, and now his chance was on its way out.
“Well, you’d better hurry up and tell him,” Livinia said, as if reading his thoughts. She looked him in the eyes. “Go back to London, Crowley, and tell him the truth. That’s if he hasn’t left for Heaven already.”
“Can’t drive,” Crowley muttered, nodding to the six empty shot glasses on the bar. “’m drunk.”
Livinia rolled her eyes. “You’re a demon. You can sober up like that.” She snapped her fingers, and Crowley felt the alcohol melt out of his system.
Crowley straightened his sunglasses. “Right, thanks,” he said. He stood up. “Uh…I’ll see you at doomsday?”
Crowley nodded at her, then stood up and headed for the door.
Chapter 2: Consecrated
To Aziraphale’s chagrin, Uriel had been right when she’d said that Upstairs wouldn’t take his call. He’d tried to reach the Metatron again, or the Almighty, or anyone really, all to no avail. It was clear that no one up in Heaven was interested in talking to him, except to threaten him and rather unreasonably punch him in the stomach, as they’d done earlier. It was for this reason that he’d decided to go to church.
Aziraphale rarely visited churches. He liked them; appreciated the art and history they contained, but they were more for humans than for angels, and so he generally left them to the humans. Going to church, for an angel, was a bit redundant, rather like going to a gym to work out when you had state-of-the-art exercise equipment in your own home. Now, though, he was desperate, and willing to do just about anything that might get him into contact with someone in Heaven.
The church was empty except for him; Aziraphale had seen to that. There was actually supposed to be a mass going on right now, but the vicar had suddenly (one might even say miraculously) decided that going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral and inviting his entire congregation along sounded like a better idea today. Aziraphale hoped they’d make it before the world ended, if indeed that was what was going to happen.
Kneeling at the front altar, hands folded, eyes squeezed shut, Aziraphale thought of Crowley and felt a pang of regret. By telling the demon that they weren’t friends – certainly the most egregious lie he’d told that decade, maybe even that century – he was well aware that he’d alienated perhaps the only real ally he had. His fellow angels had made it clear that they didn’t trust him, and Aziraphale could hardly blame them. Crowley was the only being in the universe, angel, demon, or otherwise, who had been solidly on his side throughout this entire mess, and now Aziraphale wasn’t sure whether he’d ever get to speak to Crowley again.
There were no words to describe how badly Aziraphale had wanted to take Crowley up on his offer; to go off to Jupiter or Alpha Centauri or wherever else the demon might suggest, just giving a symbolic middle finger to this entire mess and starting over together. But Aziraphale knew it was impossible. Crowley had always been the more idealistic and hopeful of the two of them – ironic, since he was the demon – and Aziraphale knew he thought that they could disappear into space…but if the two of them could go wherever they wanted, so could all the other angels and demons, some with much greater efficiency. Eventually, he and Crowley would be found and brought back to Heaven and Hell respectively, and they’d never see each other again. Aziraphale would rather avoid the false hope.
With an effort, Aziraphale set his jaw and steered his thoughts back to contacting Heaven. If he wanted to help Crowley, if he ever wanted a chance to be with Crowley again and tell him everything he hadn’t had the courage to over the past several centuries, he needed to talk to Heaven and convince them to call off the war. Somehow. At least, he had to try.
To his surprise, while he was kneeling there, he heard the heavy door of the church creak open behind him. He whipped around, ready to tell whoever it was to bugger off and plant the idea in their mind to go to Canterbury Cathedral as well, but then he realized who, or rather what, he was looking at.
A female demon with long dark hair and large black eyes was limping down the aisle toward him, her face contorted in pain, but her gaze fixed determinedly on Aziraphale. “Well I’ll…I’ll be damned. Er, again,” she said between anguished gasps. “Crowley was right. We can go into churches without bursting into flames.” She stumbled the rest of the way to the altar, hopping from foot to foot as she looked at Aziraphale. “Hello, Aziraphale,” she said. “I don’t suppose you remember – OUCH – me?”
Aziraphale regarded her quizzically. He did remember her, as a matter of fact: Livinia, probably the closest thing to a demon friend Crowley had. He’d met her on a handful of occasions, whenever she’d happened to be on Earth and decided to pay Crowley a visit. “Uh, yes,” he said. “Hello, Livinia. What…ah, what are you doing here?”
Livinia was walking in an awkward circle, clearly trying not to spend too much time on any one foot. The way she moved reminded Aziraphale so much of Crowley saving him – and his books – from those Nazis during the Blitz that Aziraphale felt a twinge of sadness below his breastbone.
“Before I – OW – explain, could you just be a sport and let me know if there’s any holy water around here, and if so – ACK – where it is? I really don’t fancy – OUCH – getting killed over this.”
“There’s some over there,” Aziraphale said, indicating the altar. “Stay away from there, and you should be fine.”
“Thanks.” Livinia leaned against one of the pews, her feet still doing a kind of awkward jig in place. “Look, this really isn’t comfortable for me,” she said. “I don’t suppose we could – GAH – take this conversation outside?”
Aziraphale was about to say no, but she looked so pained that he nodded and indicated the door. Livinia limped out as fast as she could, Aziraphale several strides behind her.
“Ah, that’s better,” Livinia said, shaking herself as soon as they were off the church grounds. “Do you know, that was the first time I’ve ever been inside a church? I always thought if I ever went in one I’d-”
“Look, Livinia, I don’t mean to be rude. You must have an excellent reason for coming to find me, if it was enough to make you enter a church, but time is rather of the essence here.”
“Oh, yes, right. Sorry.” Livinia cleared her throat. “Look, here’s the thing. I’ve just seen Crowley, and I don’t know exactly what you said to him, but whatever it was kind of…utterly destroyed him. And since the end of the world is nigh, and all that, I really think you should try to hash things out between you. He loves you, Aziraphale, and I think you probably love him too.”
Aziraphale stared at her, shocked. “What…would give you that idea?”
“Oh, I don’t know; maybe the way you’ve been hanging around each other, saving each other, since the Beginning of bloody time? We hear things down Below, Aziraphale. I mean, I’m not sure the higher-ups are aware of it, but I definitely know that Crowley didn’t invent the Spanish Inquisition.” She gave a little involuntary shudder. “Terrible business, that was.”
“Ok, but…why does this interest you?”
Livinia shrugged. “Crowley’s an old friend, and you…well, I’ve always thought you seemed pretty decent. For an angel, anyway.” She said the word ‘angel’ with distaste apparent in her voice. “Listen, I’m not prepared to abandon my side for the sake of the Earth. If the war happens, I’ll fight in it, right enough. But off the record…if there’s anything you and Crowley can do to stop it, I wouldn’t be upset.” She glanced around furtively and lowered her voice. “Anyway, Crowley’s on his way back from Liverpool now, and I really, really think you should talk to him.”
“Wait, you were in Liverpool?”
“Yeah. I’ve always liked Liverpool, and they’ve got this lovely tapas place-”
“Hang on. If you were both in Liverpool, how are you back in London, but Crowley isn’t?”
“Oh, I called in a little demonic miracle.” Livinia shrugged. “Hear him out when he gets here, ok? I don’t want to have gone in there-” she nodded toward the church, “-for nothing.” She gave him a smile. “Hope I see you around, Aziraphale,” she said, and turned to take her leave.
Just then, someone appeared at the end of the street: a dark figure in tattered clothes, messy hair hanging in his face.
“Oh, shit,” Livinia muttered, the smile melting off her face.
“Oh shit is right,” Hastur said, advancing on them both. “You little traitor. What the Heaven are you doing with an angel?”
Livinia rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry, Duke Hastur, I’m not trying to get into Heaven’s army or anything. I just had a bit of business with Aziraphale here.”
“Well, your business is finished,” Hastur said harshly. “Time to go, Liv. You’ve been here long enough. The great battle is due to begin.” He gave Aziraphale a disgusted look, then snapped his fingers. For a moment, Aziraphale was blinded. When his vision returned, both Hastur and Livinia were gone.
Aziraphale glanced at the ground, and nearly shouted in surprise. She wasn’t gone after all; she was lying in the grass, her eyes closed, her limbs spread out at unnatural angles. Other than that, she looked much the same, aside from the gaping wound in her neck.
Shakily, Aziraphale knelt down next to her and pressed his fingers to her wrist, feeling for a pulse. There was none. She’d been discorporated and, presumably, taken back to Hell to get ready for the battle.
Aziraphale bit his lip. “Thank you, Livinia,” he whispered. “Sorry that had to happen to you.” He hoped it hadn’t been too painful, but who was he kidding? It probably had. Hastur had clearly wanted to punish her for seeking him out.
He glanced around. Livinia was a demon, but coming to find him had been both kind and brave, and he didn’t want her agonizing and inconvenient discorporation to have been in vain. He glanced at her body again.
“I hope I get the chance to thank you properly someday,” he told it, then went back to his bookshop to wait for Crowley.
Chapter 3: Truth
Livinia had been right. Crowley showed up a couple of hours later, driving the Bentley up to the bookshop, parallel parking, and stepping out of the car. His shoulders were slumped, his hair was askew, and Aziraphale loved him so much it hurt.
Anticipation built up in Aziraphale’s body as he waited what felt like an eternity for Crowley to open the door. As soon as he did, his expression nervous and wary, Aziraphale launched himself at him, pulling him into a hug.
Crowley stood frozen for a moment, then placed his arms around Aziraphale’s waist and held him carefully. Aziraphale closed his eyes, soaking up Crowley’s warmth, then pulled away to look at him. “I’m so sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry I said we weren’t friends. We are, of course; always have been. I hope you know that.”
Crowley nodded, slowly. “I know, angel.”
“You were right,” Aziraphale went on. “We need to make a stand, you and I. There might still be hope. I know where the Antichrist is!” He went to grab the copy of The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter to show Crowley, but Crowley stopped him with a hand on his chest.
“Aziraphale, I…what made you change your mind?” he asked.
“I…had a talk with a friend of yours,” Aziraphale replied. “Livinia. She found me in a church and-”
“Livinia came to see you?” Crowley interrupted, surprised. “Where is she?”
Aziraphale shook his head sadly. “I imagine she’s back in Hell, by now. Hastur showed up. He discorporated her.”
“Oof,” Crowley said. “I’m guessing he didn’t do it gently.”
“Not particularly. From the look of her body, he broke her bones and then-” Aziraphale mimed drawing a blade across his throat.
“Wait, he just left her body up here?”
“Mmhmm,” Aziraphale confirmed.
“Bastard,” muttered Crowley. “She didn’t deserve that.” He paused. “Hang on; did you say she found you in a church?”
“Yes,” Aziraphale replied. He gave a little smile. “That makes two demons now who’ve walked across consecrated ground to help me.”
The corner of Crowley’s mouth twitched. “You’re that kind of angel,” he said gently. He cleared his throat. “It was a bit stupid on Hastur’s part to leave her body behind, though, don’t you think? Now he’ll have to get her a new body if she’s supposed to-” he stopped. He didn’t want to think about what Livinia was supposed to be doing. They had to focus on stopping that.
“Crowley,” Aziraphale said, “nothing about this situation is ideal. I wish I could just take you somewhere else, far away from all this and-” he reached a hand up, as if to touch Crowley’s face, then let it drop again. Crowley leaned forward slightly, hoping Aziraphale would touch him after all, but he didn’t. His eyes were full of tenderness, though, and that gave Crowley hope.
“I wanted us to go somewhere else, angel,” Crowley said, his voice cracking. “That’s why I suggested Alpha Centauri.”
Aziraphale’s smile grew sad. “My dear boy, you know as well as I do that we couldn’t have stayed there indefinitely. Heaven and Hell would have an eternity to find us. And they would find us.”
Crowley made a frustrated growling sound, deep in his throat. “I know,” he admitted. “But at least…we’d have been together.”
“Crowley,” Aziraphale said slowly. It was now or never, he supposed. If they were going to take this chance and stand together against all the forces of Heaven and Hell, nothing between them could be left unresolved. If there was a chance they might never see each other again after this was over, he wouldn’t be able to stomach not knowing. “Livinia…she, well. She told me that you loved me. Was she wrong?”
For a moment, Crowley didn’t reply. Then he took a long, deep breath. “No,” he said. “She wasn’t.” He looked at the floor, avoiding Aziraphale’s eyes. “Didn’t have to be quite so blunt about it though, did she,” he muttered to himself.
Aziraphale took a step closer, reached out, and touched Crowley’s hand. “I love you too,” he said softly.
Crowley looked up. Aziraphale reached out and carefully slipped his sunglasses off so that they could look each other in the eyes, directly, with nothing between them.
Crowley bit his lip. “Oh, angel.”
“Your angel,” Aziraphale said. “Always.”
Crowley fumbled with his voice for a moment, knowing that if he spoke, and it shook, they’d both collapse in tears, and that that was an indulgence they couldn’t afford when Armageddon was so close at hand. “Right,” he said, trying to sound brisk and efficient, trying not to let himself tremble, trying to overcome the shock of knowing his feelings for Aziraphale weren’t one-sided. “Well, before we go try to save the world, there’s something I want to do. Something I’ve wanted to do for, oh, a thousand years at least.” He leaned close to Aziraphale, eyes on his lips, making it clear what action he planned to take, giving Aziraphale plenty of time to pull away if he wanted to.
When their mouths were an inch apart, Aziraphale leaned in.
“Can I-” Crowley started, wanting to make sure that there was no doubt, that Aziraphale was really going to give him this.
“My dear, if you don’t, I will,” Aziraphale nearly panted.
Crowley pulled back slightly, feeling a devilish smirk spread across his face. “I think I’d prefer that, actually,” he whispered, and Aziraphale kissed him.
How did you go about kissing someone after resisting them for centuries upon centuries? Crowley had asked himself this question a thousand times and more, and in the end it was Aziraphale’s kiss that answered it for him. It was urgent and desperate, Aziraphale’s mouth capturing Crowley’s with breathless certainty as his hands roamed over Crowley’s back and shoulders, as if he wanted to put them everywhere and didn’t know where to start. Crowley grabbed Aziraphale’s hips and pulled him closer, attacking his lips, wanting to put everything he had into this moment, aware that they might never get another chance to do this. Aziraphale’s arms wrapped around him, and Crowley squeezed his eyes shut, letting the sensation of Aziraphale kissing him imprint itself on his mind so that he’d never forget it, not ever, whether the world ended or not.
Aziraphale’s hands cupped Crowley’s face with angelic gentleness, and he broke away on a tender kiss that left Crowley leaning forward, wanting more. He didn’t think there was anything that could make him stop wanting more of that.
“I love you,” Aziraphale told him again, firmly, eyes fixed on Crowley’s. “No matter what, I love you.”
Crowley swallowed. His body seemed to vibrate with want, thousands of years of yearning given an outlet at last, but not enough of one. Never enough.
“I love you too,” he choked. “For so long now, angel; you can’t imagine-”
“Tell me, then,” Aziraphale said.
“I can’t tell you when it started,” Crowley babbled. “I dunno what set it off; I just know that, no matter where I was or what year it was or what else was going on, I always had something inside me telling me to find you. That I wanted to be with you.”
Aziraphale smiled. “I was always glad when you found me,” he said. “I’m sorry I ever implied otherwise. I’d never been so happy to see anyone as you in Paris that day-”
“Because I saved you from getting discorporated?”
“No,” Aziraphale whispered fiercely, “because I’d missed you. I thought about you all the time; wondered where you were…and then you saved my books, and I knew I’d never love anyone like I loved you. And I couldn’t let you take the risk to get that holy water when I could get it for you. I owed you so much…” he stroked Crowley’s face gently, his gaze loving. “I still owe you so much.”
Crowley took Aziraphale’s hand and kissed it. “Then help me save the world,” he said. “We’ll save it, and then we’ll make a place in it just for us.”
Aziraphale kissed Crowley one more time, passionately. “Let’s.”
Chapter 4: The Trial
In the universe of this fic, the actual Notpocalypse happens pretty much exactly the way it does in the book/show, so I didn't want to rehash it. This final chapter is set after that, when Crowley and Aziraphale have their trials.
This chapter contains elements of torture.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The Apocalypse, through a series of rather complicated and somewhat inexplicable events, had been averted. Aziraphale had stayed with Crowley for a couple of nights (during which they’d done quite a lot of kissing and cuddling, often simultaneously) and then remained in Crowley’s flat, in Crowley’s body, while Crowley returned to the now-restored bookshop in Aziraphale’s body. They were waiting, as each other, for Heaven and Hell to come and collect them, which they eventually did, forcing the couple to rather unceremoniously abandon their ice cream date in the park.
Aziraphale-as-Crowley’s trial was quick and decidedly unfair. Naturally, he was declared guilty, and the sentence was predictable.
“You’re going to die by holy water, just like Ligur,” Hastur growled at Aziraphale-as-Crowley, following Beelzebub’s official pronouncement of his sentence. He turned and added over his shoulder “And you’re going to watch.”
From the shadows came two large, muscled demons Aziraphale didn’t recognize. Between them, they were holding a third demon, and Aziraphale flinched slightly when he saw that it was Livinia. Neither he nor Crowley had been able to contact her since the aborted Apocalypse (not for lack of trying), and they’d been wondering where she was. Now, it seemed, they had their answer: Hell hadn’t been letting her get their messages.
Livinia looked different in Hell; not as pretty, her hair more red than brown, grime streaked across her face and neck, but Aziraphale knew her immediately. She met his gaze, and Aziraphale had to stop himself from flinching again when he saw that, down here, the whites of her eyes were blood red.
“I’m sorry, Crowley,” she said, a frantic, pleading edge to her voice. “I tried to tell them you didn’t deserve it-” She was cut off by a tall demon delivering a brutal blow to the base of her spine. Her legs buckled, and the two burly demons who’d been holding her arms let her fall. She hit the floor hard, on her knees, and one of the big demons gripped the back of her neck and slammed her face into the floor. When she raised her head again, something dark was making its way down her cheek, and Aziraphale wasn’t sure if she was bleeding or crying. He also couldn’t have said which of those possibilities would have been sadder.
Livinia barely seemed to register her injury. She locked eyes with Aziraphale again as the two thugs hauled her to her feet and mouthed “I’m sorry” right before one of the tall demons stuffed a gag into her mouth.
Aziraphale allowed Crowley’s lip to curl. “This is supposed to be my punishment, not hers,” he said evenly.
“Oh, don’t worry. You’ll get your punishment,” Hastur said ominously. “Beelzebub?”
Beelzebub nodded. “Send her in.”
Around the corner came the Archangel Michael, carrying a glass flask of holy water. Aziraphale made eye contact with his superior as she began, with what Aziraphale thought was a frankly superfluous amount of dramatic flair, to pour the holy water into the tub Hell had prepared for Crowley.
Aziraphale barely heard Beelzebub when she ordered Hastur to test the water – it was real holy water; Aziraphale could feel it – but he sure as Hell heard it when Hastur said “What do you think, Liv? Want to give it a try?”
Aziraphale’s attention whipped to Livinia, who was frantically shaking her head, staring at Hastur with eyes that were wide with terror. It took all of Aziraphale’s strength to master himself and not cry out for them not to touch her. He didn’t know Livinia well, but he credited her with convincing him to stand against Armageddon with Crowley. She’d walked across consecrated ground to get him and Crowley together, to help save the world, and that was no small thing. Aziraphale tried to think of something he could do; he’d already seen her murdered once, and he wasn’t keen to see it again.
“Nice try, Hastur,” Beelzebub said, “but we still need Liv around. Find someone else.”
Aziraphale nearly melted in relief, but Hastur’s mouth curved into a terrible smile. “Oh, I won’t kill her,” he said. He dipped a long, wand-shaped object into the tub of holy water. “This’ll just be a tester.” With the wand in his hand, he advanced on Livinia, who was trembling and shaking her head rapidly, her eyes fixed on the bead of water at the tip of the wand.
“No!” Aziraphale shouted as Hastur pulled the gag out of Livinia’s mouth and touched the wand to her shoulder. The holy water took effect immediately, rolling down Livinia’s bare arm in a trail of fire, leaving behind an angry red streak. Livinia screamed, twisting and shaking in agony as the demons held her in place. Aziraphale watched in horror as the water burned a path over her skin until it finally ended at the tip of her middle finger and rolled off. Still, Livinia didn’t stop screaming, anguished sounds tearing their way out of her until she ran out of breath and collapsed forward, coughing and shivering, her arm scarred along the path the water had travelled.
“Enough!” Aziraphale growled in Crowley’s voice. Hastur turned his horrible grin on Aziraphale. “Enough, indeed,” he said. “That proves it.” He gestured towards the tub. “Your turn.”
With difficulty, Aziraphale dragged his gaze away from Livinia – who was still trembling and panting – and turned back to Beelzebub, who asked him if he had anything to say. “Uh, yeah,” Aziraphale said, not allowing Crowley’s voice to shake. “This is a new jacket, and I’d hate to ruin it. Do you mind if I take it off?”
None of the demons present objected, so Aziraphale stripped Crowley’s body down to its skivvies. He looked back at Livinia. A third large demon was standing behind her, holding her head so that she couldn’t look away even though Aziraphale could tell from her expression that she had no intention of doing so. Her black-and-red eyes stared into his, filled with sorrow for him despite the pain she’d just endured, and Aziraphale wished he could tell her what was really going on, but he and Crowley had agreed – they could trust no one with their plan.
“Well,” Aziraphale said, “it’s been shit knowing you all.” He gave Livinia a final look, hoping that she understood from it that she was an exception, and turned to the tub. With a certain amount of carefully calculated trepidation, he lowered himself into the water.
Nothing happened. Of course.
Aziraphale glanced around, as if confused, and slowly slid into the water the rest of the way, until his bottom hit the ceramic of the tub. He relaxed, letting the water cover him. “Huh,” he said, looking up at the demons. Beelzebub’s and Hastur’s mouths were hanging open, and Livinia’s expression had gone from one of guilty sadness to one of stunned disbelief.
Hastur lashed out, grabbing Livinia roughly around the neck and forcing her to look at him. “What do you know about this?” he demanded.
“Nothing!” Livinia cried. “I don’t know any more about this than – ACK-” she choked as Hastur squeezed her neck.
“Duke Hastur,” Aziraphale said, with Crowley’s lazily threatening tone, “you might’ve noticed that I’m sitting in holy water, and am definitely not on fire. If I can do that, it stands to reason that there are other things I’m capable of now too.” He smiled wickedly. “And I’m going to test that theory out on you, if you touch her again.”
“Let her go, Hastur,” Beelzebub said. With a scowl, Hastur let go of Livinia. She coughed, spitting blood out of her mouth.
“I think,” Aziraphale said, “it’d be best if you left me alone from now on. Me and Livinia.”
The demons exchanged glances. Over Hastur’s furious, indignant protests, Beelzebub agreed.
“Your beverage, my dear lady,” Aziraphale said formally, handing Livinia her glass of wine. Livinia took it with a grateful smile and set it down in front of her. She still had bruises on her face and neck from the beating she’d taken at Crowley’s trial (though they were looking better now, since Aziraphale had helped her ice them), and she was wearing a long-sleeved shirt to hide the bright red line that marred her arm, but her eyes and hair were back to normal. Crowley and Aziraphale had offered to take her for a drink as soon as she was back on earth, but Aziraphale had actually wanted to put it off a bit, since Livinia was still in pain from Hastur's use of the holy water on her. Livinia, however, had insisted that going out for some fun could only help her, so now here they were, at the tapas place in Liverpool, three glasses of wine on their table – white for Aziraphale and Livinia, red for Crowley.
They sat in a companionable silence for a few moments, and then Aziraphale spoke. “I want to thank you for what you did, Livinia,” he said. “Being there for Crowley, coming to find me…I’m just sorry you had to take such a punishment for it.”
Livinia gave a thin smile. “I won’t lie; it was awful,” she said, “but I’d do it again if it meant finally getting you two idiots together. Holy water and all.”
Crowley lowered his sunglasses so that he could look into Livinia’s eyes directly, and Aziraphale saw something pass between them. Crowley had been furious when Aziraphale had told him what the demons had done to Livinia - it had taken quite a lot of time to talk him down from marching into Hell and trying to beat Hastur senseless. Aziraphale had assured Crowley that getting Livinia safely settled on Earth, not to mention keeping Hell's eyes off the relationship between Crowley and Aziraphale, would be the best revenge of all. As Aziraphale watched the two demons look at each other, he knew Crowley was thanking her in his own way, and he knew Livinia understood, because she inclined her head toward him before turning back to Aziraphale.
Aziraphale reached for Crowley’s hand and kissed the back of it. “We do hope we’ll be seeing more of you from now on,” he said to Livinia.
“Oh, I don’t think Hell will mind if I start spending a bit more time on Earth, after the way this one threatened them,” Livinia said, nodding at Crowley. She rubbed a hand gingerly over the arm Hastur had put the holy water on. “You should’ve seen it, Aziraphale. It was terrifying.”
Crowley and Aziraphale exchanged a look. “I’m sure it was,” Aziraphale said, blushing slightly.
“So,” Livinia went on, “you can pretty much have a third wheel whenever you want one!”
“I’d prefer you didn’t think of yourself that way,” smiled Aziraphale. “You’re more like…our first joint friend.”
“Don’t get mushy on me, Aziraphale,” Livinia said, but she was hiding a smile as she sipped her wine.
“Well,” said Crowley, raising his glass, “to the world, and to Livinia spending more time in it and less time in Hell.”
“Cheers to that,” Aziraphale said.
“To the world,” Livinia echoed Crowley, “and the lovebirds who saved it.” She grimaced slightly. “I think that’s the sappiest thing I’ve ever said.” They clinked glasses. They still had a lot of healing to do, but this was going to be a nice night.
Well, that's it for this fic! Thank you to everyone who read, subscribed, left kudos, and commented! If you're feeling generous, please do drop a comment on your way out - I'm especially keen to know what you think of my OC, Livinia.
Your readership is appreciated! Please feel free to check out my other Good Omens fics (Whiskey Sour, Whiskey Sweet and Undeniable) as well!
Chapter 5: Bonus Scene
So I know I said I was done with this fic like a month ago, but I couldn't get this scene out of my head, and I couldn't think of a better place to put it, so I decided to just add it on. It's about what happened immediately after the trials in Heaven and Hell between Aziraphale, Crowley, and Livinia. Enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Aziraphale felt like he’d been waiting for Crowley for hours. He hadn’t expected to be back on Earth first; he’d initially predicted that Heaven would release Crowley before Hell released him. After all, angels were meant to be the fair ones. The merciful ones. A part of him still desperately wanted to believe that, despite all the recent evidence he’d seen to the contrary. He hoped nothing had gone wrong; hoped that their plan had been at least as successful on Crowley’s end as it had been on his.
He’d brought Livinia back with him, which had been difficult as she was so weak. The holy water had only touched her arm, but it seemed to have affected her whole body. When Aziraphale had left Hell with her in tow, she’d barely been able to walk, and he’d had to support her. He was immensely glad that she had a body again, as he hadn’t wanted to leave her in Hell at the other demons’ mercy.
Upon arriving back at Crowley’s flat, he’d taken her to Crowley’s bedroom, laid her on his bed, and gotten some ice for her injuries. She had swollen cuts on her forehead and one of her cheeks, and Hastur’s hands had left large red and purple bruises on her neck, not to mention the burn from the holy water that went all the way down the length of her arm. She’d flinched away from his touch when Aziraphale had tried to ice that too – apparently there was nothing for it but time.
In any case, she was sleeping now, passed out from the exhaustion of having been tortured. She hadn’t even asked him any questions about how he’d survived the holy water, though Aziraphale suspected that she would once she’d woken up and was feeling more like herself. Which he desperately hoped would happen soon.
When the doorbell at the entrance to the flat buzzed, Aziraphale actually jumped. For a moment, he was terrified that he’d open the door and see one of the demons of Hell there to collect Livinia, or even someone like Gabriel, come to tell him that their plan had failed and he would now have to step into hellfire for real. When he looked through the peephole, though, he saw his own body standing there, and nearly collapsed in relief.
His hands – Crowley’s hands, Crowley’s beautiful, slender hands – shook as he opened the door.
For a moment, he and Crowley just stared at each other. It was exceedingly bizarre to see the body he’d inhabited for thousands of years under another person’s control, and he imagined it was the same for Crowley. After a moment, Aziraphale stood aside so that Crowley could enter his flat. Aziraphale shut the door behind him, and almost simultaneously, they sank down onto Crowley’s couch. The relief that churned through Aziraphale as he sat beside the body that contained his best friend – and now lover, he recalled, with a little internal shiver – was sharp and almost overwhelmingly powerful.
“It’s good to see you, Crowley,” said Crowley, as Aziraphale looked into his own eyes. “How did it go?”
Aziraphale gave a flippant, Crowley-esque shrug. “Much better than I’d anticipated. Clearly, since I’m still alive. I see things went well for you, too.”
“The archangels were stunned,” Crowley replied. “So was I, to tell you the truth. An angel surviving hellfire is quite unheard of. Well, it was, anyway.” He gave Aziraphale a significant look.
“The other demons were more frightened than surprised, I think,” Aziraphale said, “not that I blame them.” He affected one of Crowley’s vicious little smirks.
“Right,” Crowley said slowly. “Shall we…?”
Together, they closed their eyes, concentrating on their respective sides, checking for eavesdroppers. Aziraphale scanned his consciousness of the archangels especially closely. He couldn’t really tell what, exactly, they were doing, but he could tell that their thoughts and attention were elsewhere. He could also feel their confusion; their anxiety at having been thwarted in their attempt to kill him, but that was something to worry about later.
He opened his eyes, and saw Crowley give him a quick nod. Without a word, they joined hands. It took only a few seconds for Aziraphale to regain possession of his trusty old body.
“Ahh,” he sighed, settling back into the familiar form. “Now this is-”
Crowley interrupted him by kissing him, hard, and Aziraphale returned the kiss, forgetting everything else. Crowley climbed onto his lap, and Aziraphale luxuriated in the long, slender body he loved so well wrapping itself around him and pressing against him. Crowley’s hands were on his face, holding it where he wanted it, and Aziraphale hugged his lover to him.
They kissed fiercely, then languidly, then fiercely again, enjoying being back together after such a terrifying time apart. Feeling Crowley all down the length of him, undeniably present, undeniably his, was so glorious that Aziraphale would have been happy to stay there, kissing him, until the world ended for real, at which point he would perish a happy and fulfilled angel.
However, after a few minutes, he remembered that he couldn’t do that. There was a casualty to consider.
He pulled out of the kiss. “Crowley,” he said, and his voice cracked. Crowley smirked as he cleared the arousal out of his throat. “There’s something you should know,” Aziraphale went on, regarding the demon seriously.
Crowley looked worried at his change in tone. “What is it?”
Aziraphale swallowed. “I brought Livinia back with me,” he said. “Hastur…he tested the holy water on her.”
“He what?” Crowley cried, eyes going huge behind his sunglasses. “Is she-”
“She’s alive,” Aziraphale said. “She’s in your bedroom. It was just a drop, but-”
Crowley shot to his feet and stalked toward his bedroom. Aziraphale leaped up to follow him.
Livinia was lying as Aziraphale had left her: asleep on her back, with her injured arm stretched out to the side and her head turned slightly toward the wall. All of her injuries were clearly visible, and Aziraphale could feel Crowley’s tension as he looked her over.
“Oh, Linia,” Crowley said softly. “What did they do to you?”
Aziraphale watched Crowley’s eyes scan the jagged line on Livinia’s arm, and he saw them darken as they landed on her neck. “Who choked her?” Crowley asked, his voice hoarse and husky with anger.
“Hastur,” Aziraphale replied.
Crowley’s hands clenched into fists at his sides and he hissed under his breath. “I’ll kill him,” he said. “I will actually kill him.”
“Shh,” Azirahphale said gently. “Careful; we don’t want to wake her.”
Crowley shook his head. “She’s been touched by holy water, angel. That takes a lot out of a demon. I don’t think we could wake her if we tried.” He buried his face in his hands. “I can’t believe this,” he said. “We’re the ones who cocked up, and she’s the only one who really got hurt.”
Aziraphale put a hand on Crowley’s back, comforting. “She’ll be alright, won’t she?”
“She’d better be,” Crowley snarled, “because if she’s not-” his voice broke, and he flexed his hands. “You have to understand, Aziraphale,” he said, staring into his lap, “she knew. How I felt about you. I didn’t actually tell her until 1850, but she always knew. She kept my secret for centuries, and when it got to be…too much…when I couldn’t stand how I was feeling, I couldn’t talk to you, so I talked to her.”
Aziraphale wrapped his arm around Crowley’s shoulders. “Oh, my love,” he said. “I’m sorry I didn’t…that we didn’t-”
“No, no; don’t apologize, love. I’m not saying this to guilt trip you, or anything like that. I’m just trying to explain why…why she matters.”
“She matters to me,” Aziraphale said firmly, “because without her, I would have given up on you. On the whole possibility of us.” He brushed his lips over Crowley’s temple. “I’m in her debt, and I’ll do what I can to heal her.”
Crowley kissed Aziraphale on the lips. “I love you, angel.”
“I love you too.”
Six Hours Later
Both Crowley and Aziraphale started at the sound of Livinia’s voice. Crowley felt himself sag in relief when he saw her walking out of the bedroom toward them, unsteady, but on her feet. He stood up. “Livinia,” he said, his voice strained but tender.
Livinia spotted Aziraphale on the couch and gave him a little smile. “Hi, Aziraphale,” she said.
Aziraphale nodded. “Hello, my dear lady.”
Livinia turned her attention back to Crowley. “Crowley,” she said, staring at him intensely, “how the fuck did you survive that? You should’ve been reduced to-”
Crowley held up his hands in a full-body shrug. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’ve been trying not to question it too much.” He watched Livinia's face, trying to gauge whether she believed him. He and Aziraphale had agreed that they ought to keep the body swap plan strictly between the two of them, but Livinia had always been able to read him like a book.
“The failure of Armageddon seems to have…changed some things,” Aziraphale added, helpfully.
“Well," Livinia said, looking too tired to be suspicious, "I wish it would’ve changed me. After that I’d quite fancy being immune to holy water.” She touched the scar on her arm and winced.
“How are you feeling?” Crowley asked her, glad to be changing the subject. He didn't want to think too hard about the torture Hell had put her through. Aziraphale had already had to talk him down from returning to Hell with another thermos full of holy water.
Livinia shrugged. “I mean. Not splendid, but not dead.” Her expression softened. “I’m glad you’re not dead either.”
“Me too,” Crowley said. “You should sit down.”
Livinia sank onto a chair.
“I’m also glad that neither of you is dead,” Aziraphale commented. He reached out to hold Crowley’s hand.
Livinia’s eyes went wide. “Are you two-”
In answer, Crowley leaned down and kissed Aziraphale’s cheek. “Yep.”
Livinia smiled widely. “It’s about bloody time!” she crowed. “Do you have any idea how long he’s been mad for you, Aziraphale? One day I’ll have to tell you. I could go on and on-”
“As exciting as you recounting my history of being pathetically lovesick sounds,” Crowley said, “you should relax for now, Livinia. The demons did a number on you.” Restlessly, he moved toward the kitchen. “Something to drink?” he asked. “We can watch whatever you want on telly.”
“Oooh, can we watch one of those horrible American reality shows?” Livinia grinned. “One of my better ideas, reality shows.”
Crowley looked as if he regretted making the offer, but he said “…sure,” and went to get drinks.
As he disappeared into the kitchen, Aziraphale smiled at Livinia. “I do love him so,” he told her.
Livinia’s expression held genuine affection. “Good,” she said. “Keep it up.”
If you liked this fic, please do check out Permanent, which is part of the same series, and in which you can read plenty more about Crowley's relationships both with Livinia and with Aziraphale through the centuries. Your readership, as always, is appreciated!