Aziraphale didn’t actually sell his books, as a rule, but every rule tended to have exceptions. This particular exception grew a bit larger when a young human walked into his shop, a nervous expression on their face.
It was the month of June, bright and hot, but that was shut out of the lovely bookshop. Aziraphale would say it wasn’t a miracle that his bookshop was always just the right cozy temperature, and he wasn’t lying. It was more that his bookshop had begun to know what Aziraphale wanted and do it without him asking.
The young human wrinkled their nose slightly and covered their mouth to sneeze, and Aziraphale wondered idly if they would turn around immediately. Some humans did, as Aziraphale took care to keep the shop just dusty enough to deter humans from spending too long inside.
But no, the human continued in. They browsed the shelves for a few moments, as if they were looking for something specific. They glanced at Aziraphale a few times, nervously, then pulled their gaze back to the books.
Aziraphale frowned. Behaviour like that was the kind one might associate with a wannabe thief, but this human wasn’t giving him that impression. Aziraphale sighed, tucked the Bible he was looking at under his arm, and walked over to the human.
“Can I help you, my dear?”
The human jumped as if startled. They turned to look at him with an anxious half-smile.
“I just, um, I just wondered…” They trailed off, suddenly looking stricken. Aziraphale tilted his head curiously. They were staring at… his arm?
He glanced down. Ah, no. They were staring at his Bible. He smiled, but the customer looked suddenly even more afraid. They shook their head.
“No, uh, I just, browsing, you know, I should go-” And they backed away. Again their actions reminded Aziraphale of a thief, but he felt sure that they weren’t there to steal from the shop. He gazed after them curiously.
Just as the human reached the door, Crowley barged in, a grin on his face.
“Angel!” He said joyfully. “What do you say, dinner at the ritz, on me? Celebrate our anniversary.”
“Anni- oh, really, Crowley. This is hardly our anniversary.”
Crowley shrugged. “Anniversary of something. Rome, probably. Come on, angel, let’s have some fun.”
The human had stopped, half out of the door, to stare back at the two of them. Something akin to joy crossed their face.
“What are you looking at?” Crowley asked Aziraphale, turning to see the human. “Oh. Uh, i think my friend might close up early today.”
The human’s mouth opened and closed soundlessly. Their eyes shone and Crowley felt a bite of panic deep in his chest. Crowley turned to Aziraphale in confusion.
Aziraphale stared at the human, and noted for the first time the rainbow pin on their jacket. Rainbows… for him, it was a reminder of the ark, but it meant something else to the humans in the area around his shop. It meant…
Oh. He glanced down at the bible, then dropped it (well, put it down carefully on a pile), realising immediately with a horrible acidic feeling in his stomach why they’d looked so alarmed.
It was a little awkward that it was Crowley here, but he knew how to deal with this.
“Oh, my dear.” Aziraphale said softly. “Do come back in.” With a certainty no human would have had, he smiled. “You haven’t met any other queer people before, have you?”
The human started, as did Crowley.
“Queer?” Crowley mouthed exaggeratedly, then presumably spotted the pin. His mouth formed an “o” shape.
“I am sorry if the Bible frightened you.” Aziraphale continued. “People are wrong about all that, you know. All that nonsense about sodom & gomorrah. That wasn’t the issue at all.” He smiled warmly, a warmth which Crowley usually only saw directed at himself or baby ducks in St James Park.
The human took a few steps in. They still looked nervous, but there was an excitement to them that hadn’t been there before.
“I just…. I wondered if you had any books about….um… people who aren’t...people who...” They seemed to struggle for the right word.
Crowley sighed, shaking his head.
“If he doesn’t, I have some films on the subject.” He muttered.
“Films appropriate for their age, dear?” Aziraphale said with a raised eyebrow. Crowley shrugged.
Aziraphale turned back to the human. “I have to be honest, I don’t have a large stock of queer books here- not that I usually sell, but…” He dithered. He didn’t like parting with any of his collection, but he did have a rather sizeable collection of queer books. It would cause rather too much of a to do if he parted with his complete copy of Sappho’s poetry (more complete than any human had access to) and some of the classics he had were rather morbid. He paused.
Crowley waved his hand. Somehow, a pile of brand new books (an oddity in Aziraphale’s second-hand bookshop) appeared to his left.
“Oh, look!” Crowley said. “Here they are, angel!”
Aziraphale shot a suspicious look at the demon, who grinned shamelessly. Deciding it wasn’t worth an argument, Aziraphale picked up the books (stunningly shiny amidst the dusty tomes on the shelves) and held them out towards the human.
Their eyes were shining.
“Really?” They whispered. They took the first book slowly, gingerly- covetously, almost. They stared at the page, which showed an image of two girls, heads close together.
“How much?” They asked hungrily. “I can probably only get one…”
“A quid?” Crowley suggested. The teenager looked shocked.
Aziraphale smiled. “I can give you a discount if you like.”
“A discount…. For less than a quid?” They seemed shocked. Aziraphale suddenly remembered that one pound was quite cheap for a brand new book. He'd been thinking that the new books were worth less than his collection, which was true, but not quite that much less.
“Queer solidarity, pal.” Crowley said, holding out his fist for a fist bump. “Prices non-negotiable.”
The teenager grinned, eyes lighting up with joy. Then they seemed to dim.
“I… can still only get one.” They said slowly. “I probably can’t hide more than that.”
Crowley’s eyes, behind his glasses, began to glow just a little. Aziraphale sensed Crowley’s aura and shot a glare at him.
“Well, take one with you now, and you can come here and read the others whenever you like, my dear.” Aziraphale offered, really just trying to get this sorted before Crowley did something like murder whoever had this poor teenager so deep in the closet.
Crowley smiled, an evil grin that showed he knew exactly how much this would inconvenience Aziraphale.
“What a great idea.”
The teenager stammered their thanks, grateful and excited, before stumbling out not quite seeming to know what to do with themselves.
Inside, Aziraphale studied Crowley.
“Rather a… nice gesture you made there, Crowley.”
Crowley scowled. “Pride is a sin, angel. This is Pride Month! I’m doing evil!”
Aziraphale smiled. “Whatever you say, my dear.”
Aziraphale didn’t like to sell his books, but from then on he always kept a small section of queer books available to the public, prominently displayed every June and not hidden at any point. Of course, he didn’t so much sell them as lend them out or give them away, but really, it amounted to the same thing, didn’t it?