It started with a book. Because of course it did.
Crowley noticed it sitting innocently on the coffee table as he passed through the living room, refilled plant mister in hand. His eyes skated past the well-worn cover once before flicking back, his brain belatedly noting it wasn’t the typical written fare of bland, glossy magazine one would expect in this setting.
Well, “one” being Crowley, and “expect” being of the sort of thing the human he was pretending to be would have laid out in his living room.
It was a well-loved copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray, the ink of the cover illustration faded with age, but decently preserved. The spine was cracked with repeated reads, and the pages had a more than slight fan to them, front cover lifting towards the ceiling.
Must be the angel’s.
They’d been spending a lot more time together since the Armagedidn’t. With their respective head offices more or less leaving them alone, for now, it seemed to be… safe, to spend more time together. More often than not they’d end up back at the bookshop, Crowley sprawled on the couch that had long since melded to his shape, while Aziraphale puttered around marking the changes Adam had wrought and cataloging his new collections.
But they’d also been coming back here, to Crowley’s Mayfair flat, with a much higher frequency than he would have expected. The angel had even spent the night more than once when Crowley succumbed to a nap, either in his bed or on the couch after a night of drinking. It only made sense that Aziraphale would miracle something to help him pass the time; he still wasn’t much of a one for sleeping.
Not that this was a bad thing, per se. Crowley wasn’t averse to spending more time with the angel. In fact, he was rather loathe to let him out of his sight for any length of time, still slightly wary of potential repercussions from their former employers. They may have bought some breathing space but there was no way of knowing just how long that would last.
Having lost Aziraphale once already, Crowley was determined not to let it happen again.
Besides, seeing more of each other was something Crowley had always secretly wanted to do. Aziraphale was the one being on this entire planet he cared about, and he thought he’d more than demonstrated that over the last 6000 years.
But. You go to fast for me, Crowley.
So he’d kept his distance, more or less. He wouldn’t say he pined, because he’s not a heroine in a trashy romance novel for G-, for Sat-, for fuck’s sake. He would settle for loving him from a distance and for keeping him as his best friend. The only problem was in not appearing too attached. Wouldn’t do to push him away because he was being clingy. Best to keep going as normal. Or whatever was passing for their new normal, these days.
Except. Aziraphale was being slightly… odd. For him. He seemed to be more forgetful, prone to leaving things behind in the flat when he would leave for a quick miracle (motivated by his own opinions, of course. He may not be technically employed anymore, but he was still an angel.)
Well. One lone book in his living room was hardly cause for alarm. It wasn’t as though Aziraphale had moved in, after all.
It was only the start.
After the book, there was the afghan.
It was very tasteful -- for Aziraphale -- a beige, plaid weave of thick, soft wool. Crowley noticed it folded sedately across the back of his leather sofa one morning, spanning the entire length. It looked warm, and after running his fingers across it Crowley decided it would likely be comfortable to curl up in on rainy days. This was confirmed when, on one such rainy afternoon, he woke from a nap to find that Aziraphale had draped it across him while he slept, tucking it right up under his chin. The angel wasn’t in the room but Crowley could hear him puttering around in the kitchen over the sound of the rain, and he fell back asleep with a soft smile on his face.
Two weeks later came the cocoa.
All of Aziraphale’s favorite blends began appearing in Crowley’s kitchen cupboards. Empty cabinets were suddenly filled with boxes of different sizes delineating special recipes and exotic new flavors that Crowley’d remembered Aziraphale mentioning he’d like to try. Even a package of mini-marshmallows that the angel would no doubt deny owning.
There was a new kettle on the stovetop a few feet from Crowley’s outrageously expensive espresso maker, and even a delicate looking breakfast tray with enough space for all of the accoutrements of tea, including two cups and saucers.
Aziraphale’s favorite winged mug was air-drying on the rack by the sink.
Things began to appear in all corners of the flat.
A coat rack sprang into being by the front door, now home to a few scarves, a black hat, and an overcoat. There was an umbrella Crowley’d seen Aziraphale using in a brand new, sleek, umbrella stand. A comfortable winged-back chair in the plant room, with a small table next to it the perfect size for a book and a mug. More blankets in the living room, usually draped over a chair or across the couch. Curtains on windows that had previously been bare, accenting the skyline of the marvelous view Crowley was quite proud of.
And the bookshelves. Oh, the bookshelves.
It’d started small, Crowley’d give it that. A three-foot-tall one under the windows in the plant room, very quickly filled to capacity. Then one had appeared in the hallway -- quite literally, in. It was recessed into the wall so as to save on space.
The living room wasn’t quite so lucky. Here the shelves were floor-to-ceiling, spanning approximately half of the available wall space in the room. And full -- really, very full -- of books of all sizes arranged in an order that was likely only apparent to a certain angel.
Crowley was standing in front of the largest one, head cocked to the side as he considered its appearance. It was a dark wood, a compliment to the other furniture in the living room, albeit -- homier. Despite it being square and definitely made of wood with hard, tight corners and solid shelves, it felt… soft. Comfortable. Slotted in like it belonged.
The thing was, he wasn’t the one doing it. He’d been worried, initially: chairs and blankets and other creature-comforts appearing in his living space, perfectly accommodating the angel’s preferences. Crowley’d been concerned that he was unconsciously miracling these things into being in order to entice Aziraphale into staying. Here, in the room, in the flat, with the blankets and the cocoa and the books. With Crowley.
But. Soft, cashmere jumpers had appeared in his bedroom closet. Brown, grey, beige, cream. A fluffy, tartan bathrobe was hanging on the back of the bathroom door. No less than four afghans were now present in the living room. And there appeared to be a bookshelf in every conceivable space one could be. It seemed like every room in the flat had acquired something new.
Including the bedroom.
There were bookshelves here, too, and the books they held were clearly Aziraphale’s favorites. The most well-worn, well-read, thumbed through and enjoyed countless times since their printing.
Crowley padded into the room in question, his bare feet making little-to-no-noise on the new carpet. He came to a stop by the bed, letting his toes curl into the plush fibers. There was a new bedspread. It was a deep red, thick and soft, and the sheets underneath were a silk blend that would feel heavenly to slide between.
No, Crowley wasn’t doing this. Or if he was, he definitely had help.
It was time to talk to Aziraphale.
Exactly forty-one days after the Apocalypse-That-Wasn’t, Crowley and Aziraphale were sitting on the couch. Well, Aziraphale was sitting. Crowley was lying down with one foot on the floor and one kicked over the arm, his head cushioned on Aziraphale’s lap. Aziraphale was carding the fingers of his right hand through Crowley’s hair, the other balancing a book on the couch’s other arm. Crowley’s sunglasses had been relegated to the coffee table hours ago, and his eyes were shut in contentment as he drowsed.
It occurred to him that there was really no better time than the present to ask what had been nagging at him for weeks now.
“Hmm?” Aziraphale hummed absentmindedly, turning a page with a finger.
“Do you…? That is -- I mean -- have you noticed -- ” Crowley stuttered, his thoughts suddenly scattering now that he’d decided to finally ask.
“Noticed what, my dear?”
“Well, I just -- do you live here, now?” Idiot.
Aziraphale’s fingers stilled. Crowley made a small sound in the back of his throat, pushing his head up almost imperceptibly in an effort to get them to move again.
“Do you not want me here?” He sounded unsure, hesitant. Hurt. Crowley was mentally screaming at himself, fix it, fix it, FIX IT, YOU MONSTER.
“No! No, that’s not --! Of course, I want you here!” His words were almost tripping over themselves in the rush to leave his mouth. “I just -- it seemed that you were -- ”
“Because I thought that was the next logical step,” Aziraphale continued, fingers resuming their path across Crowley’s scalp. “In our relationship, I mean.”
All of Crowley’s thought processes screeched to a halt. He sat up, dislodging Aziraphale’s hand. He turned so that he was facing the angel, his back up against the arm of the couch.
“Our… relationship?” His stomach was twisting itself up into Gordian knots.
“Well, yes.” Aziraphale said, confused. He bookmarked his page and set the book aside. “Granted, it did take me awhile to catch up to you, dear. But after everything that’s happened, what with stopping Armageddon and everything… well, it just seemed a pity to waste any more time.”
He was staring at Crowley earnestly, big blue eyes wide and guileless. Crowley felt off-kilter, as if he’d somehow missed a step and was teetering on the edge of a very steep fall.
“Waste time for… what?”
“Us, Crowley.” Aziraphale’s face softened, the worry lines receding from his forehead and his lips turning up in a gentle smile. He reached out and cupped a hand to Crowley’s cheek, his thumb stroking the skin under Crowley’s serpentine eye. Crowley pushed into the touch immediately, tilting his head slightly, eyes going half-mast. “Oh, dear boy, I am sorry it took me so long. But I’m here, now. Our side.”
Crowley made a soft noise that he would later deny was a whimper, hand coming up to clutch at Aziraphale’s wrist.
Aziraphale smiled, cheeks dimpling. “I love you ever so, dearest.” He leaned in, pressing their foreheads together. Their noses brushed, a light nuzzle, before he closed the distance and pressed his lips to Crowley’s in a soft kiss.
Crowley’s unnecessary human heart tripped, stopped, and then began to beat double-time, hammering away behind his ribcage. Their lips brushed together gently, clinging, before Aziraphale’s tongue slid along the seam and sparked heat all down Crowley’s spine. He groaned, opening his mouth in invitation and deepening the kiss, eliciting a happy moan from Aziraphale.
Crowley’s fingers were buried in soft angelic curls, keeping Aziraphale close so he could lick into his mouth. His other hand found itself at Aziraphale’s waist, slipping up under his sweater and pressing into smooth, warm skin. Aziraphale’s hand slid around the back of Crowley’s neck, his other curled in the lapel of his shirt to pull him even closer until they were pressed together as close as humanly possible.
After a few minutes -- or hours, or days, hell if Crowley knew which -- Aziraphale gentled the kiss until they were trading soft nips and gentle caresses. He pulled back only far enough that they could see each other. His pupils were blown, eyes almost black save for a thin ring of angelic blue.
“I take it it’s all right, then? That I’ve… moved in?” Aziraphale teased, his lips quirking up in a small smirk.
Fuck, Crowley loved him.
“Hnng, you bastard,” Crowley growled, hauling him back in, “Just so long as you don’t baby the plants. They’re already starting to go soft.”
Later, curled up together under the new duvet on Crowley’s king sized bed, he threw an arm around Aziraphale’s middle and pressed in close.
Softly, almost too softly to be heard, he whispered:
“I love you, too, angel.”