Actions

Work Header

A Nest to Call Home

Work Text:

It began much as all such things did really: little.

 

Aziraphale had enjoyed his meal of oysters with Crowley far more than he’d expected.  Ignoring that they were on opposing sides, the demon was quite delightful to be around.  His moodiness was alleviated by a keen eye for understanding human actions, and his sardonic wit and forked tongue were as razor sharp as Aziraphale’s lost sword.  Crowley was so animated that Aziraphale was able to follow every flit and whim of the serpent’s mood without the aid of his other senses or even eye contact. Spending time with Crowley was far more entertaining than it should have been.

 

Of course, he never lost sight of the fact that his companion was a demon; it was rather impossible, truly.  However, he didn’t think his higher-ups would object too much to him keeping an eye on Crowley, although dining with him was perhaps not what they might have had in mind.  It was just lonely on Earth sometimes, and the presence of another who understood helped, even if it was a fallen angel.

 

The meals were irregular at first; once every couple of centuries, then decades, a bite here and there.  Crowley never questioned Aziraphale’s perhaps inappropriate delight in food, although he didn’t much share it himself.  Curious, Aziraphale once researched more on the anatomy and habits of snakes. The demon was unique, a species unto himself, but despite their differing methods of obtaining their food, all snakes swallowed them whole.  Given that, Aziraphale could see the lack of appeal, but he did notice that snakes smelled by tasting, so the two senses were quite intertwined. Indeed, Crowley seemed to prefer partaking in things that were rich in bold or spicy scents.  The delicate parsing of mingled notes didn’t impress him as much.

 

Aziraphale didn’t actually know just how many traits the demon shared with his other form.  He knew of Crowley’s serpent eyes, and the sibilant slither of his words when he became worked up.  He knew he could still talk as a snake, but he’d actually never seen Crowley’s other form since the Garden.  Even glimpses of the slitted yellow eyes were rare. Angels were blended with God’s grace; he knew of none that seem to be part of any of the other creations, and it left him somewhat curious.  Perhaps that was why Aziraphale was so intrigued by the small figure made of mahogany obsidian.

 

Aziraphale had been finishing up a small task in the United States when he’d decided to wander into a somewhat eclectic shop.  The tiny building was packed with various trinkets, food stuffs, and homesteading supplies. He found such places rather cozy and he often couldn’t resist visiting them when he was due to molt.  A tightly packed space filled with the needs of home and hearth, warmth and memories, made him yearn to perhaps collect the feathers he shed. That way, however, led to nesting, and he had nothing or no one to nest for.

 

A beam of sunlight had caught Aziraphale’s eye, motes of dust sparkling in a lazy dance inside.  His eyes focused just behind the beam, into the shadows of the corner. Buried there, covered in a fine layer of dust, was the figure.  It was no wider than his palm, the coils of obsidian serpent looped into a neat pile, head resting sleepily on a powerful body streaked almost lovingly with burnt red.  Aziraphale picked the statue almost reverently and held it on his palm, then pulled out a handkerchief and carefully dusted it clean until it shone like real scales.

 

Something had itched in his mind just then as the angel gaze at the stone statue in his hand.  He huffed to himself, feeling vaguely ridiculous, but he couldn’t bring himself to put the object back.  He twitched a few times as if he finally would, but the only movement he ultimately accomplished was to purchase the figure and leave with it.

 

Upon returning to London, Aziraphale had hid himself away to start his molt.  He sighed at the first of the fallen downy feathers and stroked the soft thing through his fingers.  Aziraphale’s eyes wandered then, across the small room until they landed on the statue given space between piles of his favorite books.  He had no real thought in his mind just then except how soft snakes actually were to the touch.

 

Aziraphale had shaken himself, causing his wings to rustle.  “Don’t be ridiculous,” he murmured. He had nearly flicked his fingers to vanish the feather, but again stilled.  Something strange had pulled in his belly, a faint grief almost at the idea of disposing of the shed as he normally did.  He hadn’t wanted to just then, not really. The yearning at the shop had been rather silly, but this strange craving was much harder to ignore.  He turned the feather in his fingers, twirling the shaft until his eyes landed again on the serpentine figure. Aziraphale hesitated, but before he could truly smother the impulse, he set the feather within the snake’s coils.  His discomfort at his action had been completely overwhelmed by the rather sudden thrill that swept through him at the sight of his white feather against the dark scales. Followed swiftly behind the tingle had been warm contentment.

 

“Oh, dear,” Aziraphale breathed.

 

~~~

 

“So, this is the bookshop?” Crowley looked up through his dark glasses in surprise.  He had been busy during the Reign of Terror when Aziraphale established the shop (except for saving the angel and eating crepes).  It was several decades later before he was back in London and was actually able to visit it. “Do you actually sell your books?”

 

Aziraphale looked aghast.  “Why would I do that?”

 

Crowley snorted but stepped inside.  As he looked around, Aziraphale had to force himself not to wring his hands.  The angel might be nesting just a bit, but he wasn’t sure that he accepted it was because of Crowley.  He was a demon; surely it wasn’t possible for such instincts to kick in over him? God would not allow it, yes?  But for whatever reason, Aziraphale had to admit that at least Crowley’s other form had incited his instincts, and it wouldn’t do for his… associate to be uncomfortable.

 

Crowley obviously sniffed.  “Smells like old books,” he observed.

 

Aziraphale deflated slightly.  That hadn’t sounded like a compliment.  “Does it now?”

 

Crowley shrugged.  “It’s a very ‘you’ smell.”  Aziraphale perked slightly. “Looks like you’ve settled in… wait.”  Crowley looked sharply at him, expression suddenly intense. “Angel, are you nesting?”

 

“What?” Aziraphale asked, alarmed.  “I… don’t be ridiculous. I’ve… it’s just a shop.”

 

“Just a shop, now?” Crowley leaned against the counter, crossing his arms.

 

“Of course.”  He tugged on his waistcoat, almost wishing he could see Crowley’s eyes.  It was terribly hard to read the demon at times. “I’ve been here a long time and I need to blend in a bit more if I plan to stay.  Also, I need a place to store my books.” None of which was untrue.

 

Crowley studied the store, his lips parted as he breathed deeply a moment through his mouth.  “Right,” he replied, sounding distant. Before Aziraphale could begin to fret, the demon straightened.  “I think it's going to take more than owning a bookshop, angel. Such as selling a book on occasion.”

 

“Oh, I couldn’t possibly.”  But Aziraphale was vaguely disappointed in Crowley’s reaction.  He had no reason to be, considering he just told the demon that he was not, in fact, nesting.  Crowley was also acting closed off, curling in on himself and away from the space, as if he wasn’t comfortable.  It was disheartening, until Crowley called him ‘angel’. That sent a pleasant buzz through him and left him determined to try harder.

 

~~~

 

Over the years, Aziraphale collected more pieces for his nest, here and there.  He purchased comfortable sofas fit for lounging, made sure the space stayed dry and warm (and not just for his books), and then added scents.  He liked the old book smell, like vanilla, but he decided to add little things here and there. One corner had a sachet of spicy cinnamon tucked into the space between the shelves and the floorboards, another had one hundred millimeter pillar candles of beeswax near the window so that the light might warm them, giving off a faint whiff of honey.  Crowley always noticed the scented items; he attempted to act nonchalant about seeking out any changes, but Aziraphale would occasionally see him deeply breathe and relax into the space. It was Aziraphale’s home, of course, but he added to it often with things that might intrigue his companion, if only to watch that subtle reaction.

 

The day Crowley demonstrated how well he knew the shop was a pivotal moment for the angel.  That started with a disagreement.

 

Aziraphale had not wanted to speak of the holy water again since Crowley had asked.  They were both happy to ignore the denied request for the most part when they met, although that was becoming exceptionally rare.  It pained Aziraphale dreadfully to think of what the demon might use the holy water for. Having no experience of Hell, the angel didn’t know if it was worth Crowley ending his own existence over, but he’d been on Earth for so long.  He didn’t know what it was like to Fall, but he did know Earth, how it differed from Heaven, and experienced many of it’s often terrible unpleasantries. Aziraphale rather thought knowing Crowley, someone who at least knew what he was, helped ease some of that pain and loneliness, and hoped he did for the other as well.  Surely, it was better than ending his existence?

 

During those times, the wild thought would spring into his mind that he had to make the nest better, so that Crowley would feel more like it was worth staying.  He cleaned the bookshop then, by hand. It was never actually dirty, although faint patches of dust could be found and it was somewhat cluttered. That was simply part of the aesthetic.  But when that mood struck him, the windows would be opened to air out, the books and shelves dusted one by one, and the candles and sachets sprinkled about to add the scents to the air would be refreshed.

 

Crowley happened by in one such mood, rather astonished to see the disaster of the shop.  Aziraphale had stripped off his coat and folded up his shirt sleeves. Dust streaked his white shirt and the arch of one cheekbone as he set cinnamon sticks into a cloth, breaking them in half with an aggression the demon had never seen.

 

“I say,” Crowley started with amusement, “what has cinnamon ever done to you?”

 

As if his face was set in stone, only Aziraphaels’ eyes lifted to acknowledge Crowley as he practically garotted the sachet closed.  “Can I help you?” he asked crisply.

 

Crowley’s amusement faded.  “What bee flew in your bonnet?”  When Aziraphale remained stonily silent, the demon scowled.  “Oh, I see. Still, yes?”

 

“I presume you’re here because you need something?”

 

“You presumed wrong, actually.  It’s a terrible habit of yours.”

 

Fury seized Aziraphale as he fought not to grit his teeth.  Another cinnamon stick cracked in his hand.

 

“Excuse me, gentlemen,” a woman broke in, drawing both of their attentions.  She flushed slightly under the intense glares. “I hate to interrupt, but…” In her gloved hand, she held a strip of paper.

 

Aziraphale wiped his hands, almost glad for the interruption, but Crowley took the note and read it.  “Why would you want that?” he asked, puzzled.

 

Her flush deepened.  Aziraphale scowled. “Crowley, do not frighten away my customers,” he warned, even if he did rather she leave.

 

“You’re doing plenty enough of that.”  He gazed at Aziraphale, tipping his head just enough that the angel could glimpse his eyes over the edge of the dark lens.  Then he smiled, something delightfully wicked that Aziraphale had little enough reason to see. The only times he’d witnessed it was when the snake was about to perform a temptation he was very much going to enjoy.  Before Aziraphale could react, Crowley offered the woman his arm and guided her into the aisles.

 

“Sailing, yes?” he asked, voice gentle.

 

“It’s for my father, you see,” she replied.  “He’s taken very ill…”

 

Aziraphale listened as Crowley guided the human through the shelves.  The shop was meant for limited or first editions and books of prophecy, although Aziraphale had, on occasion, received other things that he was actually willing to sell.  Sea travel had never much interested him, but he had been given as a donation a book on sailing since the last time Crowley visited.

 

Despite his lack of interest in the book and the haphazard way he’d discarded it onto the shelves, he knew within millimeters exactly where it was and what it was surrounded by.  The order of the shelves was a mystery known only to Aziraphale and, apparently, Crowley.

 

“You are in luck, ma’am,” the demon purred, charming as ever.  “Mr. Fell acquired this somewhat recently, so no one has, as of yet, managed to snatch it away.”  Crowley moved with perfect accuracy to where the book was. The editions around it barely whispered as they were gently moved to gather the manifest.

 

“Here you are, practically new.  A slight foxing around the edges, but well loved and cared for.  With my compliments.”

 

“Sir,” she breathed, delighted.  “I cannot thank you enough. I should go pay Mr. Fell-”

 

“Nonsense.  He would not hear of taking money from a man on his deathbed.”

 

Aziraphale nearly smiled before he remembered he was cross.  Crowley really did know him so well.

 

“I could never!” she gasped.

 

“Mr. Fell would insist.”

 

“Well,” she said, almost demurely, “what Mr. Fell doesn’t know cannot be refused.”  Aziraphale heard notes being passed and frowned. “Tuck this to him unknown? I do hope it’s enough.”

 

“It is our secret,” Crowley replied devilishly.

 

Aziraphale nodded to the woman as she left, then silently held out his hand for the notes, expression disapproving.  Crowley didn’t pretend ignorance, passing over the bundle.

 

“Crowley!” he scolded, sounding slightly distracted.  “This is far too much, as I know you are aware.”

 

“You didn’t want the book anyways,” the demon said with a negligent wave, the gentlemanly charm gone.

 

“You cheated her!”

 

“Cheeky,” Crowley gasped as if wounded.  “I never mentioned a sum. It was,” here, he flicked his tongue as if a foul taste had crossed it, “her good will and charity.”

 

Aziraphale sighed, feeling his frustration evaporating despite his best efforts.  The fact that Crowley had known the store, his nest, so well as to find a book he’d never seen left the angel slightly flustered.  “And her thought to be sneaky about it had nothing to do with you?”

 

“One does have a reputation to maintain.”

 

His resolve crumbling, Aziraphale set aside the sachets.  “What was it again that you dropped by for?”

 

~~~

 

Ultimately, Aziraphale did give Crowley the holy water.  He’d walked home, curling himself onto a sette in his shop, and nearly cried over what he had done.

 

~~~

 

The day had been long and getting longer when Aziraphale followed Crowley up to his flat.  He’d accepted the invitation to stay a bit numbly, lost at the thought of his nest being burned to the ground.  He tried to focus instead on the opportunity to see Crowley’s home as he’d never had, but that just made him nervous as he wondered what it looked like.  He could imagine any number of things and, somehow, they all never quite fit.

 

That wasn’t to say he had been unaware of Crowley’s flat.  He’d been to other places the demon had stayed before, and he knew the address and phone number.  This place, however, was where Crowley had stayed the longest, more of a home than the others, and Aziraphale felt shy and nervous.  He couldn’t help but wonder if demons nested.

 

The sight of the splendid foliage caught his eyes but he instantly felt not love from them, but deep terror.  Blinking, he glanced around. The place was spartan, lacking any warmth and very little accessory. Beside him, Crowley carelessly removed his coat and tossed it onto what looked like a throne.

 

“I need more wine.  How about you, angel?”  Without waiting for an answer, he wandered off, presumably to the kitchen.

 

Aziraphale touched one broad, verdant leaf, the poor thing almost trembling under his fingers.  The bedroom held only the large bed with silky red bedding that still seemed somewhat bland in the space.  There were only two pieces of decoration in the flat beyond the plants and the television: a sketch of the Mona Lisa and a statue of an angel being held captive by a demon.  Whether it was a fight or not was a little difficult to tell. Ordinarily, he might spend more time considering the figure, but just then, he wasn’t in the mood. He looked away just as Crowley walked in with a bottle and froze.

 

“You alright there, angel?  I’m knackered, but you look nearly ill.”

 

Aziraphale forced a faint smile, wrapping his arms around himself.  “It’s not every day one gets discorporated then resurrected at the end of the world by evil incarnate.”

 

“Right.”  Crowley didn’t sound like he believed him.  He set the wine down on the desk. “Back in a jiff.”

 

The angel wondered where his companion found the energy, especially in this flat.  Perhaps it was fitting that his nest had burned. Not that he had built it specifically for Crowley, of course, but the demon obviously was not nesting himself.  He wondered if demons even did. It seemed logical; after all, they were angels.

 

Determined to shake such dower thoughts, he walked over to the desk and took up the bottle as he heard Crowley return.  He started to read but nearly dropped it when he was surrounded in warmth. Aziraphale jerked his head to see an old quilt draped over him, smelling of goose down.  His gaze snapped up to the demon.

 

Crowley plucked away the wine and had a gulp.  “I know the shop was your nest,” he said casually, sitting on the edge of the desk.  “Losing that warmth can be hard.”

 

Aziraphale looked back at the quilt.  It was black and red, faded with age, and looked to be hand stitched.  It had obviously been made with care and Crowley preserved it well.

 

“Where was this hiding?” the angel asked, settling onto the throne.

 

Crowley snorted, passing over the wine.  “You need lessons on snooping, angel, if you missed the locked chest in the closet.”

 

“Why was it locked away?  Was it… was it from a nest?”  He wasn’t sure he wanted to know and yet his compassion for his friend compelled him to offer comfort.

 

Crowley nearly choked.  “Nest?! Wha- demons don’t nest !”

 

He stilled.  “You don’t?”

 

“What?  No! Of course we don’t.  Wait a minute.” Crowley paused, his eyes closed behind the lenses.  “I’m trying to picture Beelzebub with a nest or-- ugh, Hastur.” He shuddered.

 

Aziraphale flushed.  “Well, I mean, you were once angels…”

 

“Once being the operative word.  Demons are not cuddly, are not warm, and definitely do not love like that.  Besides, there isn’t room for it in Hell.” Crowley laid back across the desk.  “If anything, we actually get rid of things.”

 

Aziraphale considered this as he had some wine.  “How do you mean?”

 

Crowley shrugged.  “Eh. It’s not really convenient to keep a lot of things in case you have to leave a place quickly.  Then again, sometimes it’s…” He paused, licking his lips slowly as he considered his words, “it’s too much.  It’s distracting, like an itch.”

 

“So you get rid of things?”

 

“Less to remind you of what you’ve lost.  It’s not a good idea to get sentimental.”

 

Aziraphale touched the edge of the quilt.  “And this?”

 

“It’s just a quilt, angel.”

 

“But you had it in a locked chest.”

 

Crowley sat up slightly, leaning close to the angel and pulling down the sunglasses to show his slitted eyes.  “Aziraphale, I’m a snake. Winters are cold, and that quilt is the warmest blanket I’ve had in a thousand years.”  He pushed the glasses back up and collapsed back down, making a face. “But yeah, it’s locked up so I don’t get the itch to toss it out.”

 

As Crowley drank while draped across the desk and managed not to drown, Aziraphale glanced around again.  If demons disposed of things like angels collected them… “Been itchy lately, then?”

 

The demon shrugged.  “Probably just restless.  I’ve lived here longer than,” he considered the time, “well, anywhere.  Well, except that one place in the late nineteenth century.”

 

Something warm flooded in Aziraphale’s chest, something very similar to hope.  “The shop must be irksome then, with all the things laying about.”

 

He thought he saw Crowley’s jaw tighten.  “You know, none of this is going to matter once they catch us.”

 

“Who we are is reflected in what we surround ourselves with.”  The world was feeling a bit bubbly just then. Aziraphale watched the light catch on Crowley’s sunglasses.

 

“Then we’re dung beetles because we’re in deep shit.”

 

A curious idea started to take root in the angel’s mind.  He leaned forward and gently placed his fingers on the frames of the glasses, stilling Crowley.

 

“Angel?” the demon asked.

 

Delicately, Aziraphale slid them off of Crowley’s face.  Yellow eyes watched him, unblinking.

 

“Remember Agnes Nutter’s note?” Aziraphale murmured, turning the glasses in his hands with the same care he paid his dearest books.  A slight affirmative noise answered him. He met Crowley’s eyes and favored him with a fond smile, then eased the sunglasses onto his own face.

 

The suggestion hung weighted in the air for a long moment.  Slowly, Crowley’s eyebrows raised into his hairline.

 

~~~

 

After they finished dining at the Ritz, Crowley insisted on escorting Aziraphale home.  The demon called it ‘following’ but the angel knew better. It really was a difficult thing to have one’s nest destroyed and though he was assured all was well, there actually were things Crowley didn’t know and spaces he had not seen.

 

The outside of the shop was perfect.  Inside, Aziraphale’s fingers itched to touch things.  The books were exactly as he’d left them, the smell of dust, vanilla, honey, and cinnamon already easing any remaining tension.  He’d have to find another location for Adam’s books as they weren’t quite right in their current location but otherwise, it was perfect.

 

Aziraphale continued to a bland door tucked into a corner and unlocked it, moving up the stairs to his actual flat.  Crowley had never been up there, Azirpahale barely was, and he could hear the demon following him. Really, the flat was just a storage space for precious things such as even more books and trinkets he’d collected over the millennia, specifically the past two centuries.  Even though he rarely went up there, he still guarded those items carefully as it was the heart of his nest. He felt ready to let Crowley see it.

 

He opened the door at the top and stepped in.  The flat was small and open except for the bookshelves that covered almost all of the walls and much of the central floor space.  The kitchen was tidy and unused, and a small nook held a loveseat with pillows and a throw. The drawn shades left the room in a twilight dim, a bed taking up an unreasonably large amount of space considering it was never used.  It was covered in pillows and a comforter filled with his own down. But perhaps the most precious thing was tucked into the Eastern corner of the room.

 

On a small floating shelf was the red and black stone serpent.  Aziraphale strode closer quickly and was relieved to see the white feather was still tucked amidst the coils.  However, underneath the figure was a small red pillow. That was new, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about it. He touched it gently.  It felt downy and a single fluttering barb stood out from the stitches. It was black.

 

Aziraphale spun, trying to understand what that meant.  Crowley hadn’t offered them, didn’t even keep his feathers if he understood correctly.  Had Adam consciously done that?

 

The concerns were derailed by Crowley standing in the center of the space.  His sunglasses were off and he looked around, carefully studying Aziraphale’s inner sanctum.  With the demon standing in the room, the excuses he’d built over time to make the nesting seem less vital crumbled away.  He could think of no one else he wanted in his nest, no one else he would carefully collect for. Aziraphale watched Crowley, heart pounding in his chest.

 

Crowley’s eyes darted about the space restlessly, taking everything in.  He turned in a slow circle, his gaze never lingering on anything. Slowly, he stilled.  He raised his face, then a forked tongue flicked from his lips. He was still for the longest second, then he lowered his face and slipped on the sunglasses.

 

“Everything fine, yeah?  Right as rain and all that.  I’ll leave you to it.” And then Crowley turned around and walked away.

 

Aziraphale’s heart seized, more painful than discorporating.  He was shocked to be rejected, grief strangling his throat. “Something wrong?” he blurted, his tone falsely light and cracked.

 

Crowley paused at the door, barely glancing at the angel.  “No.” The lie was heavy in the air.

 

Was this what heartbreak felt like?  He swallowed hard. “I have… I think there’s something in the store room--”

 

“I need to get going anyhow,” Crowley interrupted.  “There are projects I’ve put on hold, evil and some such.”

 

“Evil?  You’re leaving because of a job you no longer have?”

 

Crowley’s next glance wasn’t friendly.  “I’m leaving because I want to.” He flicked the door open.

 

“Please don’t throw it away,” Aziraphale almost cried out, tears gathering into the corners of his eyes.  He bit back further exclamation, wiping at his eyes in frustration.

 

Crowley froze again but didn’t turn around.  “What?”

 

“The quilt.  Please don’t throw it away.”

 

The demon spun around.  “Why would I? Because of you?  You think highly of yourself, angel.”

 

A flush darkened his face.  “I don’t understand--”

 

“What’s to understand?  I tell you I don’t nest so you show me yours?”

 

“And what’s wrong with my nest?”

 

“I don’t make a habit of being places I’m not welcome.”

 

“Since when?”  Then Aziraphale’s brain caught up with the argument.  “Wait, not welcome?”

 

Crowley just hissed.  It wasn’t a good sign;  he usually only did so when he was so emotional that his basal nature had to step in.  The demon turned back to the door, but this time, Aziraphale put his foot down.

 

“Crowley, I demand you explain yourself.”

 

He whirled again.  The spinning would almost be amusing if they both weren’t so dreadfully upset.  “You demand?”

 

“Why are you not welcome?”

 

“It’s your nest!”

 

“So is the shop below!”

 

“But this is your flat!”

 

“You welcomed me into your flat.”  Aziraphale tried to be reasonable.

 

“My flat is not a nest.”  Crowley tried, and failed, to not be sarcastic.

 

It seemed as Aziraphale’s frustration mounted, he grew more still and reasonable.  “My shop is a part of my nest and you have always been and felt welcomed there. Why is this space different?”  When the demon merely looked away, Aziraphale snapped. “Crowley!”

 

Crowley glared at him hard, surging forward into the space.  He hissed a word that Aziraphale couldn’t understand, but it made his wings ache.

 

“What was that?”

 

Crowley repeated it, but then struggled for a moment.  “Cinnamon.”

 

It was Aziraphale’s turn to freeze.  “What?”

 

“Cinnamon, Aziraphale!  I know you put it in your shop because of me.”

 

The angel struggled to grasp that.  “You feel unwelcome because there is no cinnamon up here?”

 

Crowley’s frown deepened into a scowl.

 

Aziraphale had quite enough of that.  He marched to the open kitchen and dug into a cupboard.  The glass vial he removed had two sticks of cinnamon in it.  Moving back to Crowley, he miracled the sticks into decimation, then promptly flung the resultant powder around the room ridiculously.

 

“Happy?”

 

The two stared at each other for a long, tense moment as the spice floated and settled.  Then Aziraphale sneezed.

 

“Oh, bollocks,” he muttered crassly, looking away.  He was never going to recover from this, and a part of him ached from having to try.

 

Movement caught his eye.  Black primary feathers danced into the corner of his vision.  Slowly, Aziraphale raised his gaze.

 

Crowley was not looking at him, instead studying the red powder on the floor.  The bemusement on his face slowly faded to understanding and then awe. His forked tongue flicked out to taste the air as his wings, glossy and full like a cloak of shadows, hesitantly arched in presentation.

 

After all of the stress, the emotional outburst, Aziraphale needed the reassurance.  He reached up, carefully grasping the silvery lariat scarf as his own wings unfurled.  “Feeling more welcome, my dear?” he asked softly.

 

Crowley’s gaze followed the spread of white feathers, the glasses suddenly gone.  Long, beautiful fingers reached up to gently touch just under Aziraphale’s jaw. As the realization slowly seemed to embed itself in Crowley’s mind, the dark wings mantled, half displayed and half shielding them from the world.  Crowley tipped his head, the tip of his nose brushing Aziraphale’s. “Angel…”

 

Something pleasant and warm curled through him.  Aziraphale’s fingertips spread, sliding over the demon’s skin where it was bared at the vee of his shirt.  He turned his face into Crowley’s, lips not yet meeting but so close a wish could have united them. Aziraphale knew of kissing and carnal activities; there was little of earthly pleasures that he had not experienced.  Yet he didn’t try to complete the gesture, content to feel Crowley, to breathe his air and bask in his presence as his own wings matched the demon’s, primaries tangling like lovers.

 

Crowley’s fingers slid over his jaw and behind his ear, moving further back until they traced over the soft feathers where wings met back.  Aziraphale nearly shivered, the flesh barely able to process the divine delight. He felt Crowley’s tongue flick out to not just taste his air, but his light.  It caressed against the edges of Aziraphale’s being. In response, he sank his fingers deep until scales slid against the tips: soft, sinuous, and hot.

 

A noise of pleasure curled from the back of Crowley’s throat and he moved to finally complete the kiss.  He greedily took what Aziraphale was only too happy to offer, giving of his own in a way that made the angel’s light burn .  Finally, they split apart, coming back to their bodies and resting against each other.

 

“You are not allowed to throw anything away,” Azirphale said, his prim assertion marred by breathlessness.

 

Crowley laughed lightly.  “Alright, angel. You can have the quilt.”

 

Crowley was contributing to the nest.  Something deep in Aziraphale sighed peacefully, as if the final piece of the puzzle that was his world had fallen into place.