Actions

Work Header

off in the stars

Work Text:

‘When’s your birthday, Angel?’

 

‘What on earth do you mean, dear boy?’ 

 

Across the blanket they’ve laid out in the olive grove, Aziraphale raises an eyebrow.  

 

‘When’s your birthday? What date?’ 

 

‘I was created before the calendar. Before the days even.’ 

 

‘Oh, God, you’re old.’ 

 

Aziraphale pouts and takes a grape from the platter between them.

 

‘I’m a principality. Anyway, you’re older.’ 

 

‘How can you know that if you don’t know the day?’ 

 

There is a playful pause between them. Aziraphale considers. 

 

‘I believe it was what would have been the summer. I think the moon was waning.’ 

 

His eyes wonder upwards, past the cliffs and the sea and the Parthenon into the crystal sky. Crowley looks over him fondly. 

 

‘The summer then?’ Crowley asks, ‘July? August?’ 

 

It is August now; the first Olympic games are over and the air is calming down to autumn in the evenings. It is all wine and fruit and poets — heavy, sweet. They have spent most of the summer this way, after only popping in led to not popping out. Crowley hopes the answer is August.

 

‘Shall we say August?’ Aziraphale smiles. ‘I don’t suppose it matters too much.’ 

 

‘No, probably not.’ Crowley says. But he will write it down later, anyway. 

 

‘Have you ever been to the oracle?’ He asks. 

 

‘Oh yes, fascinating what humans believe is the future, isn’t it?’ 

 

‘Is it?’ 

 

‘I think so.’ The angel shrugs and sways, perhaps a tiny bit bashful. ‘I think it’s sort of nice. That they think about these things. It’s endearing.’ 

 

Crowley agrees. It is endearing if Aziraphale thinks so. It is endearing that he thinks so. Crowley decides that now might be a good time to tell the angel about his new idea. He tries to sound cool and unexcited.

 

‘What if they were written down? The fortunes?’ 

 

‘Written down?’ 

 

‘Regularly. If there was a sort of, bulletin, but it told you what to expect that week.’ 

 

‘I can’t see what that would accomplish. Evil deed wise.’

 

Crowley scowls at the sea. ‘Not everything I do is an evil deed.’ 

 

‘Then what for?’

 

‘To entertain them.’

 

 

 

It starts off that way, at least. To entertain, himself as much as the humans. Crowley goes to stargazing parties in meadows, peers through telescopes, and listens to humans tell stories that make no sense but mean a lot to them. He picks one for each month, and tells everyone the selection means nothing but what is written in the stars. He decides which will be his own. Picks traits from people he observes, from coworkers down in the ground and ex-coworkers on high. Some of them vibrate, resonate more strongly.

 

He studies the stars, looking for Aziraphale.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 27 th August, 44 BC

 

Leo - The stars formed a lion over your earthy arrival. They tell of bravery and a generous, warm heart. They tell of protective instincts, of kindness. The lion may be stubborn, but he believes he is right wholeheartedly.

This week, the stars forecast the beginnings of change. Stay close to those you value. They value you too.

 

Aries - The ram was visible in the sky as you fell onto this earth. Determined, active, you are never sitting still. You mean what you say and, mostly, say what you mean. the stars tell of impulsivity that gets you into trouble. You ask too many questions.

This week, the stars forecast a new opportunity, your luck might begin to turn, if you aren’t too forceful.

 

 

 

 

But it doesn’t stay simple entertainment for long. His grecian summer with Aziraphale comes to an end. There are ships sailing to Troy, plans must be laid, appointments kept. Of course they must, angels can’t be late. Crowley can’t help but be a tiny bit biased as he writes up each prediction. Wherever Aziraphale is in the world, if he looks up he will see the stars in position. Not the same position, obviously, but the same stars. And perhaps, if he reads the paper, wherever he is — and it’s not still Troy, Crowley checked — he might believe in them and take their advice.

 

 

 

 

Friday, 14 th September, 44 BC

 

Leo - This month take the time to savour our glorious late summer. There are so many beautiful places to visit. Perhaps there is someone who would show you, if they could find you.

 

Aries - The stars are beautiful this time of year, everywhere in the world. Perhaps there is someone who would show you. 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 30 th April, 29 BC

 

Leo - A new seafood restaurant is opening in Rome. You may be tempted to visit. Rome is wonderful this time of year. 

 

Aries - It’s always good to try new things. The stars say oysters are an aphrodisiac.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes he thinks the stars might preempt as much as advise — if he speaks it into the stars, then the stars might speak it into existence.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 12 th October, 10 BC

 

Leo - An old friend will return to your life this week. 

 

Aries - The stars say so. So it will happen. Cause some trouble and he’ll show up.

 

 

 

 

Sometimes the fortunes aren’t necessarily predictions, but simply statements. sometimes they are well-wishes —

 

 

 

Friday, 25 th December, 0 AD

 

Leo - Merry Christmas. The stars wish you welcome to the new world and predict your future will be bright here. Don’t try and steal the myrrh, it won’t suit you.

 

Aries - You will find him gathered round the manger. You might even feel the love he feels for the baby.

 

 

 

 

 

Although he must have noticed it beforehand, it is 1500 before Aziraphale realises what the Zodiac is really for.

 

They are sitting in a box at The Globe, opposite the Queen, watching Hamlet’s final moments in Horatio’s arms. The theatre is, for once, miraculously quiet — no one in the pit yelling, none of the aristocrats gossiping. Everyone’s mouths are parted in silence, their breath held, so that ‘goodnight, sweet prince’ hangs in the open air. Aziraphale has one hand on his chest and one hovering just over Crowley’s knee.

 

He wipes his nose and sniffs as they come out onto the street, and Crowley kindly pretends not to notice. The applause is still going. Hoards of people stand outside, children press their faces to the theatre walls to catch snippets of speeches. A paperboy is shouting and waving at the as they spill through the doors.

 

‘Oh, let’s see what they’re saying!’ Aziraphale grabs a stack of paper and flicks through it eagerly. He reads — ‘“Shakespeare’s new play is sure to be a success. Bring grapes as it is over four hours and thou wilt surely get peckish…” That’s strange.’

 

Crowley feels his skin getting hotter as he hears the angel read the words he wrote. Small scales prickle on the back of his hands — a demonic flush.

 

‘That’s not the review, Angel,’ he tells Aziraphale, looking at the feet of the crowd. ‘Read it again.’

 

‘“Leo, 23 rd July to 23 rd of August” oh it’s one of those fortune things.’

 

‘Horoscope,’ Crowley corrects him with a hiss.

 

‘Oh yes. Oh —’ Aziraphale stops and several washer-women collide with him and curse. ‘Sorry, sorry!’ He miracles up the mess and steps to the side of the road. ‘You wrote that?’ He asks.

 

‘Yeah,’ Crowley says, very casually.

 

‘It’s about me?’

 

‘It’s supposed to be your future.’

 

‘Oh, that’s rather fun!’ The angel smiles, clutching the papers to his chest. The scales on Crowley’s skin retreat — he isn’t nervous anymore somehow. ‘You think it’ll be a success then?’

 

‘I promised it would be.’

 

Aziraphale beams at him and all the star charts and hours studying become worth it. He thumbs through the papers and starts to read again — ‘“The latest tragedy from The Globe’s famous Bard is a drama most excellent, full of stunning poetry and fascinating thematic discussions. Get tickets now lest thou fall victim to disappointment!” Oh that’s wonderful, dear! Your fortune was right!’

 

 

The next day Henry Williamson, a Pisces, one of the most respected writers in London, and a fervent critic of Shakespeare’s pop-culture nonsense, will find himself drawn inexplicably to The Globe. He will laugh and shout and cry, and his review of Hamlet will be pages of glowing praise.

 

That same afternoon Kit Marlowe, an Aquarius, will be struck by a queer fondness in the spring air and start working on a new poem.

 

 

 

 

 

The fortunes turn out to be right more than once:

 

 

Thursday, 14 th July, 1794 

 

Leo - Stay away from France, Angel. Seriously. I’m not enjoying the rumours that you’re in Paris one bit. If you’re really in France I swear to Her…

 

Aries - I’ll rescue you.

 

 

The rattle and clack of the chains on the flagstone floor echo around the cell. It is loud, but Crowley wishes somehow it were louder, that it might be heard above.

 

There — the echo would tell the angels — I freed him. Let that be the end of it. Let him go.

 

Aziraphale rubs his writs under all that ridiculous lace and wonders aloud whether ‘thank you’ is allowed. He calls it a ‘rescue’ and Crowley wonders, hopes hopes hopes he read his horoscope that morning.

 

Most likely he didn’t, but they catch the evening edition together as they stroll down the Seine full of crepes and contentment:

 

 

Leo - You’re an idiot but those were nice shoes. Be more careful this week. You don’t have to get into trouble to have the things you might want.

 

Aries - Listening to rumours pays off sometimes. Remember this lunch and pay it back twice.

 

 

 

 

Crowley is pleasantly surprised when Aziraphale decides to open up shop in Soho, not a stones throw from his flat. The stars didn’t see it coming. Crowley doesn’t need the stars to be sure that there will be a big ribbon to cut. Probably ceremonial scissors, knowing his angel. He buys chocolates that morning, on his way back from the printing press.

 

 

Monday, 2 nd March, 1812

 

Leo - Your big risk will pay off this week. People will love it. Promise.

 

Aries - A sudden desire for a first edition of ‘Sense And Sensibility’ will strike you today.

 

 

 

‘Do you want me to leave?’

 

Aziraphale is fretting. He has been fretting since Crowley came to tell him what should have been good news — that with the help of a few different voices and some manequins he has managed to keep them together on Earth. What a good joke, too. They should be laughing together, but instead the air is taught between them. It is the angels, they must have said something. Likely something about him, and the plan, and good and evil and all that rubbish. And now they’re about to take two steps back.

 

‘No.’

 

‘Do you want me to stay?’

 

‘I, um…’

 

‘It’s the same question, Angel.’

 

Aziraphale avoids Crowley’s eyes. His hands, clasped in front of him, twist with agitation, but he stands his ground. ‘I’m not sure it is, you know. I’m supposed to be thwarting you, not —’ 

 

‘Do you want me to leave?’

 

‘I think you should.’

 

God, this is going to be never-ending, Crowley thinks. Bloody angels and their obsession with right and wrong and shoulds and should-nots. He wants to seize Aziraphale’s hands, his arms, his face and shake him loose from all of this. Yes, falling is awful, it hurts, and you end up in the leaky basement, and no he shouldn’t be here either, trying to help angels open bloody bookshops… But it is freer, in the end. There are no heavenly voices in his head telling him to stop asking questions and obey, obey, obey.

 

‘Yes, but —’ he cuts off in frustration. He paces up and down the bookshop, slaps the box of chocolates down on the counter. He tries again — ‘Do you want me to leave, Aziraphale?’

 

‘I really think you should —’

 

‘Would you forget for a second about what we should do? I’m not leaving for some divine bloody obligation,’ he is very nearly shouting. ‘You know this isn’t some temptation job I’m doing? I actually want to be here.’

 

He has stormed right up the bookshop in his frustration. They are almost nose to nose. Aziraphale will be able to see past his glasses. He blinks furiously. His hands, which waved with vicious animation a moment ago, as they always do in these moments, are trapped between the two of them now. Trembling and gentle, they rest on top of Aziraphale’s worrying fingers.

 

The angel’s eyes are wide and soft, full of faith and disbelief. But the lines of his face are well-trained steel. He doesn’t look away.

 

‘Do you want me to stay or —’

 

‘No,’ Aziraphale snaps. Snaps like a twig underfoot.

 

He is lying. Crowley knows he is lying. But it doesn’t sting any less. Angels don’t lie without the best of reasons, so he must really think the lie worth telling. He thinks the lie is the most important thing in this moment, more important than them.

 

Crowley swallows. ‘Well then. Good luck with the opening,’ he says, and slowly tears himself from the bookshop.

 

 

The next day Crowley pays a paper-boy to take a copy of the morning paper, folded open to the horoscopes page, to A.Z. Fell and Co., that fancy looking new bookshop. It will be open, he tells the boy, for once, at 10 o’clock exactly.

 

‘Tell him I say “sorry”,’ he tells the boy, ‘and make sure he reads it.’

 

 

 

Monday, 8 th September, 1812

 

Leo - You are braver than you believe. You have been brave before, and you can be braver than you have been. 

 

Aries - You are very sorry this week. You understand, you just wish it was easier. Sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 5 th September, 1896 

 

Leo - Things aren’t safe. Be very careful. Get out of town if people or worse come knocking.

 

Aries - Maybe it’s time to take a drive. 

 

 

 

Kieran Tanner is a Sagittarius. He has never seen a man wear glasses made of black glass before, and working in a Soho molly-house only over the road from one of the most exclusive gentlemen’s clubs in London, he sees a lot.

 

‘Where’d you get those, mister?’ He asks as the man approaches. His tone is playful, but he pulls his cap down just in case. These are dangerous times.

 

The man doesn’t answer. Instead he draws closer, crowds Kieran into the doorway, and pulls a heavy, valuable looking pocket watch from his coat. Kieran assumes it’s payment, but as he reaches a hand out the man slaps it away.

 

He opens it himself, and it doesn’t tell time. Nestled inside the brass is a miniature, a tiny sketch of a gentleman with a kind, good natured smile and bright eyes. It is a delicate drawing, made of few lines, every stroke an echo of a feature or a whisper of hair. It lacks detail, but it is full of feeling, and Kieran recognises that feeling as much as the face.

 

‘Do you know him?’ The man in the dark glasses asks. His voice is urgent under false calm. It is clear the man in the picture is not where he ought to be.

 

‘No,’ Kieran lies. ‘Maybe. Who’s asking?’

 

‘I’m a friend of his.’

 

‘A friend? What sort of friend keeps a sketch in a locket?’

 

‘It’s not a locket.’

 

‘Looks like one, mister.’

 

‘It’s not a locket, it’s a watch. Obviously.’

 

‘Watch with a picture in it.’

 

The man glowers behind his glasses. His frustration is something beyond pure irritation. ‘Has he been hanging around these parts recently?’

 

He looks tired, Kieran thinks, the bags under his eyes weigh with worry. ‘Maybe.’

 

‘Listen,’ the man snaps, ‘I know what goes on in here, alright? And I know what goes on opposite.’

 

‘Ohhh,’ Kieran says slowly, ‘you’re his sweetheart.’

 

The man snaps his locket shut and his eyes flash a cruel yellow. ‘I’m not his anything. I’m just worried. They’re all in danger, the men in there,’ — he gestures dramatically over the road at the club, — ‘in here,’ — at the molly-house behind them. He lets out a breath, and the vapour shakes in the cold air.

 

He goes back into his coat and produces a newspaper. That morning’s paper. He presses it, hard, into Kieran’s chest. The boy’s back hits the wet stone walls.

 

‘If you see him, give him this. And tell him they can all leave safely. All of them. I promise.’

 

Then he is gone. Vanished into the mist as fast as he came out of it.

 

 

A few days later, the man from the miniature turns up, as he always does, in all his finery and flounce. Under the cover of bright bright midday sunshine, while everyone is looking up at the rare cloudless sky, or covering their faces with fans and parasols, Kieran crosses the road and gives him the paper.

 

The man thanks him, and calls him a ‘dear boy’ as he always does, and heads inside. Later, one by one, at unsuspicious intervals and looking up at the sun along with the rest of the city, the discreet gentlemen that the club houses and entertains begin to file out.

 

And somehow, in all the brightness of this miraculous sunny day, no one spares them a glance.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 1 st August, 1905

 

Leo - Happy birthday, Angel.

 

 

Monday, 2 nd August, 1905

 

Leo - Happy birthday, Angel.

 

 

Tuesday, 3 rd August, 1905

 

Leo - Happy birthday, Angel

 

 

 

Julius Smyth, the large and, he likes to think, robust Editor in Chief of the personal section makes the floor tremble as he stomps down the corridor to the print room. He is a Gemini. On the first day he had told himself it was permissible — no doubt one of the typesetters had a sweetheart they wanted to surprise. The second day must have been an error. But three days in a row? No, he has decided, that is not to be born.

 

He finds the type setters all in a daze, however, when he confronts them, spitting, about the outrageous mistake in the zodiac column. They are all completely non-plussed, can’t remember where they woke up yesterday, let alone which letters they used. A paper-boy pipes up about a man in dark glasses. Julius Smyth decides there must be some sort of opiat involved.

 

 

 

Wednesday, 4 th August, 1905

 

Leo - Happy birthday, Angel.

 

 

 

 

 

It would be easy to call Crowley’s horoscopes drippy, or soft. He would resent you greatly for saying it, of course, and has been known to throw a strop to cover up the fact that he is, occasionally, both drippy and soft. But sometimes the stars tell of ominous futures, or even insult the reader. Sometimes, often in fact, the fortunes are as petulant and childishly black and white as you would expect an angel and a demon’s friendship to be.

 

 

Thursday, 3 rd April, 1914

 

Leo - You know when the stars first decided the qualities of the lion, of the sun, they predicted stability and consistency. The stars must have had a sense of humour.

 

Aries - The stars predicted determination would yield success. HA HA.

 

 

It might be immature, but Crowley reasons you could hardly blame him for occasionally going a little off message. After all, loving Aziraphale is as unpredictable and wild as London’s weather, and the stars can only aspire to be as accurate as the weather forecast, which is to say, not very. Sometimes he is caught in a rainstorm without an umbrella, sometimes hit with a heatwave in a raincoat. Metaphorically speaking, of course. He doesn’t wear raincoats. 

 

 

 

Monday, 29 th January, 1922

 

Leo - He is not your enemy.

 

Aries - And one day he will know it.

 

 

 

Tuesday, 30 th January, 1922

 

Leo - You know what I take it back. Leave him alone. You’re a nightmare sometimes.  

 

Aries - Lost cause, mate.

 

 

 

 

 

‘Do you read your horoscope?’ Crowley asks. He is attempting to sound nonchalant, but carrying it off about as well as a schoolboy feigning innocence — ‘oh, were we supposed to bring PE kit today?’

 

They are out under the cover of night in Crowley’s new car. His shiny, extremely fast, leather interior, custom designed new baby. It is a miracle, by anyone’s standards, that he has managed to persuade Aziraphale into it. It is clear from the angel’s somewhat queasy expression that when he took up the offer, and allowed Crowley to chivalrously help him through the door, he really had no idea just how fast the car could go.

 

‘What? Oh, well, sometimes.’ The Bentley lurches. ‘Could you slow down a bit, dear?’

 

Crowley nonchalantly floors it over a pothole. Sometimes?

 

‘Crowley, do slow down…’

 

He rolls his eyes and breaks hard before continuing at a glacial twenty. He hopes for a rise — for anything.

 

Aziraphale gives him a look. ‘Very funny, dear.’

 

They speed up again.

 

A moment’s quiet. Through the windscreen they both look up, through London’s light pollution and the South Coast’s fog, at the few brave stars that have come out.

 

‘You really don’t read it?’ Crowley asks. It comes out a lot more pathetic than he means it to.

 

Aziraphale keeps looking through the windscreen. ‘I do,’ he says, ‘I really do. I just mean… Now, don’t be cross, will you? I just don’t want to tell you I read it every day, sometimes I… miss it.’

 

‘Oh, yeah,’ Crowley says, nonchalantly, ‘I mean of course. Obviously. I mean it’s not like I write all of them, anyway. Better things to do. So. Home again?’

 

He pulls to a stop and puts the Bentley in reverse, wrangling the wheel round and round. His arm is over the back of the passenger seat and Aziraphale’s hair tickles against his fingernails. Home again, back to the start. The corners of his eyes twitch. The engine revs above their silence.

 

They are a few miles down the road before Aziraphale breaks the quiet.

 

‘You shouldn’t drive in your glasses, really. I can’t imagine it’s very safe at night.’

 

‘I can see.’ Crowley snaps.

 

‘I can’t,’ Aziraphale says, and his voice is low and gentle and velvet. Angelic — softly demanding all other sounds diminish and listen. Human, without frills or ceremony.

 

Crowley turns to him. Understands him a moment later. With one hand unsteady on the wheel, he takes off his glasses.

 

The world is unfiltered now. Lighter, true, and he can see the brightness in the passenger seat with a sharpness that only concentrates it. Comparatively — he’s been wearing glasses since humans were so good as to invent them — it’s intense. Blinding. He blinks, feeling newborn and vulnerable. Strange. All the times he’s been almost honest, almost raw, but around Aziraphale he’s never felt that naked, that afraid. Never felt the absence of a safety net under the tightrope they’ve been walking.

 

Another car passes them and in the second of light it provides he sees the way Aziraphale is looking over him, looking into his eyes, and his breath catches. Then the car is off down the road and it could have been imagined.

 

‘Don’t be upset, will you?’ The angel says, ‘I only meant that I may have missed some.’ He pauses, and turns back to look at the road. He looks at it so intently he might be counting the cats-eyes. ‘I’m not perfect.’

 

‘I know you’re not perfect,’ Crowley looks back at the road too. ‘If you’d read it you’d know I never said you were perfect.’

 

‘No.’

 

A few more miles. They pass another car and again Crowley feels Aziraphale looking at him. He looks back. There is an awful lot of looking going on, he thinks. Is this how humans do it? Is this how they fall in love? Looking and looking and looking at the face he hasn’t seen unfiltered for thousands of years and how, how could he have forgotten? Raw, pure eye contact. How on earth do humans do it? He keeps looking, the road forgotten.

 

‘But you said some very nice things,’ Aziraphale says, and, for a brief, shining, unfiltered moment, he smiles.

 

The car moves on smoothly, somehow. Which is a miracle in its own right. Crowley half expects something to short-circuit. His brain does, when he tries to remember everything he’s said. Any of what he’s said when it all meant the one thing he hasn’t.

 

Aziraphale’s hand rests on his leather seat. Just there… Only a little further than the gear lever and Crowley could very easily shift down to third and then just a little further —

 

A violent honking and a flash of awfully bright headlights shock him back into the moment. He swears loudly and swerves, one handed, back to the left.

 

‘Both hands, Crowley!’ The car shakes and steadies. ‘Really, dear boy. You drive like a lunatic.’

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 7 th January, 1940

 

Leo - You’re being a blind idiot and you’ll need rescuing if you aren’t careful. 

 

Aries - Perhaps you can be a hero. It seemed to go over well last time.

 

 

 

Tuesday, 8 th January, 1940

 

Leo - The stars predict the gift you recently received will come to mean something. If it doesn’t already.

 

Aries - I think it meant something. I think your fingers touched. Ask the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, 2 nd April, 1945

 

Leo - The stars predict a happy and restful VE Day. You deserve it.

 

Aries - A cause for celebration. The stars suggest you bring wine.

 

 

When the smoke clears and the blitz is over, Crowley tries to call in on the bookshop. He clutches a copy of that evenings paper, wrapped around a bottle of wine. But he sees the crisp suits and spats of angels through the letterbox. It feels more spooky than loved, but he doubts this observation will go down well with Aziraphale.

 

He waits around the corner.

 

The angels walk far too smoothly down the road, he thinks, peering at them from under the lid of an inconspicuous dustbin. Gabriel’s laugh raises his hackles.

 

‘I brought wine, Angel,’ he says, crashing through the door with all the unstoppable enthusiasm the stars predicted.

 

Aziraphale turns round and smiles. It isn’t his wide, toothy smile, but a bittersweet one, and Crowley senses the echo of a flinch.

 

‘What?’ He asks, knowing what. It comes out as a snarl.

 

‘They’re not happy about the church. Or the books. Or the very near disincorporation—’

 

Crowley puts the wine and the paper down and takes two steps forward. He crosses his arms so he won’t be tempted to reach out.

 

‘Don’t listen to them, will you?’ 

 

‘Michael said—’

 

‘Michael’s a wanker.’

 

Aziraphale smiles properly then. ‘That,’ he says, restraining giggles, ‘is sacrilegious. And very true.’

 

He goes to uncork the wine. Crowley has an awful lot worse to say about the holiest archangel Michael, about how she treats those who, if goodness, not grace and virtue, were truly measures of success in heaven, should be her superiors. But he doesn’t. Instead he gets happily plastered with Aziraphale, leaves their horoscopes open on the desk when he leaves, and drives drunk (he is a demon, after all) to the offices of the Evening Standard to drunkenly type up tomorrow’s prediction from the stars.

 

 

 

Saturday, May 6 th , 1945

 

Leo - Your boss is a lying, miserable, manipulative, possessive piece of crap and your coworkers have no respect for you and you should really really really quit your job. 

 

Aries - You probably should too.

 

 

 

On the 4 th of April, 1945, the whole staff of the personal section of the Evening Standard are called in for a meeting about yesterdays horoscope. Crowley isn’t there, of course, which is particularly demonic of him, given that collective punishment is an awful enough violation of the Geneva Convention when the perpetrator is in attendance, let alone when no one in the office knows what the boss is raging about.

 

Several writers for the personal section quit their job that day. Aziraphale doesn’t.

 

 

 

Ten years and a few more miracles and rude notes later, over a milkshake with two paper straws, one that goes unused, one that he chews nervously, he tells Crowley about the moral conundrums of Cold War espionage, and an edition of De Profundis he found ‘on the Portobello road, dear, of all places — quite criminally undervalued’.

 

Aries is rising, Crowley knows, looking over the strawberry pink glass into Aziraphale’s excited face. He doesn’t know what that means, really, but given that he invented the concept, he thinks it must mean he is even more in love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 2 nd August, 1967

 

Leo - Someone out there believes in you. This week, consider letting them. 

 

Aries - You miss 100% of the chances you don’t take. 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 3 rd August, 1967

 

Leo -  It is important to pace yourself. Two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward. 

 

Aries - Slow down. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He takes a break from the stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 1 st January, 2000

 

Leo - Happy new millenium, Angel.

 

Aries - Here’s to another thousand years.

 

 

 

 

 

In the years of looking after Warlock — if you can really call it looking after — they are close constantly. Geographically, that is. They read the paper together around the breakfast table on Sundays, as part of the child’s education, of course. It is important they keep him up to date with current events, Aziraphale says.

 

Crowley reads them their horoscopes over toast and marmalade. Warlock is a Scorpio —not that that means anything, since Crowley had not known him when he decided what that would mean.

 

It becomes a ritual.

 

‘It says we should go to the zoo today,’ he’ll say.

 

‘Does it really?’ Aziraphale will ask, with a knowing smile.

 

‘Yes, here. “Leo - nature calls to you’, ‘Aries - take a stroll’, ‘Scorpio - the zoo is half price for adults accompanying a child under 10 on Sundays after 12pm.”’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, 4 th July, 2018

 

Leo - You are worth more than your superiors tell you. 

 

Aries - Maybe it's time for a picnic. 

 

 

 

 

 

The end is nigh and Warlock is not the antichrist, just a normal boy. The stars grow more desperate — the fortunes saying all that cannot be said unless it is the final days of Earth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 26 th August, 2019 

 

Leo - The stars are calling. There is freedom up in the sky. An offer will be made to you in the final days, and the stars predict great happiness if you say yes. Please say yes. 

 

Aries - Alpha Centuri is always nice this time of year. 

 

 

 

He should have said something. The last day on earth, that last message the stars would ever have for mankind and he’d been too busy with demons say something. Too busy waiting around for Aziraphale to do something and now... now he would never be busy again. 

 

His last chance and he didn’t take it. His eyes swim as he downs the last drops of whisky. 

 

It could have been another plea - come with me, Angel, come to stars and live in freedom amongst them, just you and me dancing with nebulas and fire and dust, just as it was before this wonderful mess of earth. Come with me, come with me, come with me.

 

Might be over the world limit. 

 

Everything he’s ever wanted to say tumbles over and over in his whisky soaked brain like an awful wave, tossing him this way and that, dashing him against the rocks and hauling him back under. He tastes salt water now.

 

He could have said ‘I love you’. And now the world was ending and he would be facing it alone. 

 

His last words to Aziraphale. He screws his fists into his eyes until he sees stars — ‘when I’m off in the stars, I won’t even think about you.’

 

As if the stars could ever be separated from Aziraphale. As if he doesn’t see the angel every night, through the light pollution and fog, up in the stars in the shape of the lion. As if ‘stars’ and ‘Aziraphale’ aren’t the only two stops on a tube map imprinted on his mind.

 

He rubs his eyes again, and this time in the stars he sees him.

 

‘Aziraphale?’

 

And he is there. Crowley blinks. He must have drunk too much.

 

‘Are you here?’

 

He doesn’t believe it. A cruel trick of the light. Or the scotch.

 

‘Can you hear me?’

 

He can. He’s real and alive. There is something about books and the American girl and Tadfield. There is something about bodies, bodies being inside bodies and Crowley would probably be slithering away to consider that and blush about it if he wasn’t still crying with relief. It doesn’t process quite right. And then Aziraphale is off to save the world and Crowley is back in the Bentley sobering up and drying his eyes.

 

The stars did not fail him. He will not fail Aziraphale. 

 

 

 

He doesn’t. They win, somehow, or they scrape through. Adam seems an alright kid — a Scorpio. So is the bus driver, and Crowley’s stars predict he will drive to Mayfair without stopping or falling asleep.

 

 

 

As soon as he opens the door and the cool, damp air of London hits the safe warmth of his hideaway, Crowley is self-conscious. Conscious in a way he hadn’t felt at all on the bus, doesn’t feel around Aziraphale often, unless he is particularly flustered. Aziraphale has never been here — he hasn’t seen the flat, the perfect plants, the decor, the throne, the flatscreen TV that’s never been used. He hasn’t seen the bed. Bed singular.

 

Crowley swallows. ‘Home sweet home…’ he says awkwardly, waving his hand with what he hopes is a casual air. ‘Well. Maybe not sweet.’ 

 

Aziraphale steps ahead of him, his hands twitching, and Crowley watches the back of his neck as he looks all around.

 

Crowley quickly follows him inside and double locks the door. He doesn’t turn the lights on. No one likes turning the lights on after a long drive — his eyes hurt, his brain hurts. The stripes of moonlight and foggy tungsten glow are more than enough.

 

‘Do you want anything?’ He asks, busying himself in the kitchenette. The rattles of mugs and drawers is deafening in the late night. He shushes them.

 

‘I don’t think so. Thank you.’

 

Aziraphale stands in the middle of the room, not uncomfortably, but with the slightly nervous energy of a guest who only popped in. He takes his coat off and holds it close to his chest. His eyes move, but he is clearly reluctant to follow them.

 

A siren wails in the distance.

 

‘You can look around, if you want,’ Crowley says, with an almost theatrical amount of nonchalance. ‘I don’t mind. I’ve got some nice plants.’

 

They are very nice. Aziraphale might like them.

 

But the angel shakes his head. ‘I don’t think I will. Oh, I mean. Not that I’m not interested. I’m sure they’re lovely, only I—’ he yawns widely, eyes closed, his eyebrows stretched up to his hair. ‘Sorry, dear.’

 

‘Right,’ Crowley mumbles ‘right, of course.’ His ’s’ slurs, almost like a hiss. The tea spoon he’s holding shakes in his fingers. ‘Right.’

 

He closes the kitchen drawer, again far too. loudly. ‘I can lend you some pyjamas.’

 

‘Whatever for?’

 

‘To sleep in. You’re not going to sleep in that are you?.’

 

‘Does one not?’

 

Crowley’s mouth falls open. ‘You’ve never slept?’

 

Aziraphale laughs at his expression. ‘Well of course not, dear boy. We don’t need to.’

 

‘But — never? Aren’t you tired?’

 

Aziraphale stops laughing. He thinks. Then he says ‘exhausted.’

 

It is very matter-of-fact, but he says it with such weight, such a dull heaviness. The word hits the floor with the dead sound of shedding a heavy coat. There is an unspoken ache. And suddenly it all becomes very easy again as Crowley slips into a habitual need to please, to give, to make his angel happy. 

 

He crosses the room and closes the blinds, watching the venetian slices of light become slivers, until there is only a tiny glare in Aziraphale’s eyes. Then he does it — walks towards his angel, his reason for staying, for saving the earth, and lets their fingers brush as he takes his coat.

 

‘Let’s got to bed,’ he says, quietly, and his mouth is very dry.

 

 

 

He fumbles in the wardrobe with the lights off, overthinking pyjamas as Aziraphale examines the bed. He only ever wears silk, but everything seems very inadequate now.

 

‘Ow!’ He hits his head on a shelf in his frustration.

 

‘Are you alright, dear?’ Aziraphale asks, a sleepy laugh in his voice.

 

‘Perfectly,’ Crowley hisses.

 

He miracles a soft tartan set out of the very bottom drawer, holds them up with feigned familiarity, as if they’ve been there all along.

 

But the angel sees through him. ‘Oh, you are sweet,’ he says, with the same unconvincing familiarity, as if he calls demons sweet every day.

 

They climb into bed. Or rather, Crowley climbs into bed and Aziraphale climbs onto it.

 

‘How does one go about this then, exactly?’ He asks. 

 

Crowley laughs despite himself, tugging at the quilt. ‘You get under it, Angel.’

 

‘Ohhh,’ Aziraphale says. He shimmies under and lies down, mirroring Crowley.

 

They share atmosphere, body heat trapped together under the down. It is cosy. Sleepy. They look at each other through tinted glass.

 

‘Oh,’ Crowley realises. He takes his sunglasses off and puts them on the bedside table. ‘People don’t sleep in those,’ he explains sheepishly. He clicks the lights off and settles back on the pillow.

 

They keep looking, now without barriers. It has been nearly 100 years since that night in the car, but Crowley remembers the way they looked. As his eyes adjust to the darkness he makes out a similar expression — Aziraphale’s lashes are heavy, his pupils wide and deep.

 

‘How does one go about this then, exactly?’ He murmurs. Crowley watches his mouth. 

 

There is a slow silence. Someone drives past the window and a square of yellow travels across the ceiling.

 

At last, when he thinks he should have drunk his fill by now, Crowley says ‘you close your eyes.’

 

Aziraphale hesitates. He looks for a moment longer. ‘There are plenty of animals that sleep with their eyes open.’

 

‘Humans don’t’

 

‘We aren’t humans.’

 

‘Well I don’t. Do you want to learn or not?’

 

‘Alright.’

 

The angel closes his eyes. His hands curl up in front of his face in what must be an instinct. He looks very vulnerable and Crowley has to remind himself that this is the same angel that stood over him with a flaming sword not many hours ago.

 

‘You try and relax,’ Crowley hisses gently.

 

Aziraphale hums. ‘I am relaxed,’ he says. ‘How long does it take?’

 

‘It, uh… it varies. You just sort of… wait. And it happens.’

 

‘Hmm.’

 

‘It’s easy.’

 

‘Alright.’

 

Crowley closes his eyes.

 

The sleepy silence goes on for who knows how long. His heavy head fills with the only sounds — the rustle of sheets, the occasional car, and the breathing of the angel next to him. Their breathing swells and washes in and out like lapping waves. It mixes together, hot and tired. They sink into the mattress, becoming one weight.

 

It might have been hours later when Aziraphale speaks again. Barely speaks — a breathy whisper of speech of the kind one only ever hears muffled in a pillow. Crowley hears the sounds of a mouth moving and feels the air move around his face. He shifts in closer, to listen, to feel the words on his skin.

 

‘Thank you for saving the world,’ Aziraphale barely says.

 

Crowley twists his toes at the end of the bed. He smiles a sleepy smile. ‘I’m not sure I did, really.’

 

He feels the pillows shifting as Aziraphale moves closer. He opens his eyes and looks. Aziraphale’s hair is mussed on one side and flat on the other. He looks peaceful, pressed into the pillow.

 

‘I should have come with you,’ the angel whispers, soft as sand. ’I should have come with you when you asked me.’

 

‘You shouldn’t’ve. You said so yourself, you shouldn’t’ve.’

 

Aziraphale opens his eyes, slowly, blinking back sleep he isn’t used to. ‘I wanted to,’ he says, ‘I wanted to go with you.’

 

Crowley shifts down the bed, burying his face half under the duvet. ‘Goodnight, Angel,’ is all he manages to croak.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 27 th August, 2019. (The first day of the rest of their lives.) 

 

Leo - We often base our worries on fragile foundations. You only need to deal with what you know to be real today. To understand the world you must first understand yourself. There's so much more to your story than your Sun-sign. Look forward to new art and perhaps try some introspection this week. For more information text Mystic Marylin 0765893768

 

Aries - As the Moon grows Full, it's time to trust your judgment. If you feel as if you've been looking at a situation from the wrong angle, you're about to discover a fast-track route to your desired goal. It's time to find some self-confidence. For more information text Mystic Marylin 0765893768. Aries get special prices on private readings this week!

 

 

 

 

 

It is the rest of their lives, but not everything can possibly change at once after six-thousand years of habit-forming: Aziraphale is worried.

 

‘I’m not sure I should stay too long,’ he says. (Again with his shoulds and shouldn’ts.) ‘I’m worried they’ll try and catch us. We shouldn’t be together when they do, I doubt it’ll improve the situation.’

 

‘But then we’ll never be together,’ Crowley points out, ‘we’ll just be waiting alone and worrying all the time.’

 

He is worried too, of course. The very thought, the slightest semblance of an image of hell or heaven descending on the flat with fire and water and anger and hurting his angel boils his skin. But it is not generally his job to worry, it is his job to talk Aziraphale down and goad him into thinking of a solution.

 

‘I’ll think of something.’

 

 

 

 

Monday, 28 th August, 2019

 

Leo - Playing with fire. It’ll work. You’re so clever, I know it’ll work.

 

Aries - Do not ruin this for him.

 

 

 

 

Somehow, he does think of something. Or rather, Agnes does. Did. Whatever. It works, and Crowley has never been so happy to see his own face as he is then — when he is dropped from above onto the grass of St James’s and sees Aziraphale worrying in his skin. He walks to the bench, but it feels like crawling, staggering, and he knows the angel feels it too as he catches hold of Crowley’s hand and holds it like driftwood in a storm.

 

‘Is that it, then? Did we win?’

 

‘I think we did, Angel.’

 

‘I suppose we can go on without all that then.’

 

‘I suppose we can.’

 

 

 

 

So they do go on without all that. They go on, for the most part, as people. And slowly, slowly, habits unfurl, spines retract. The walls built for supposedly for protection grow mossy and soft, and Crowley thinks that maybe the time might be approaching for the stars to say something they’ve been orbiting towards since they were hung out. He thinks about the words and tries not to drive too fast into the sunset.

 

But then they’re out on a hill, and the light is golden through the clouds, and the wind just slightly too hard and loud for it to be ideal picnic conditions. Hair is whipping everywhere, sticking to lips along with the crumbs of sausage rolls, and as he is frantically packing away food and trying to weigh down the corners of the rug, Aziraphale laughs and takes his hand. For no reason other than to have it. And smiles. And Crowley loves him, loves him calmly as the wind flaps around them.

 

And so Crowley decides, or rather, the stars decide, that they are aligning, drawing themselves into the most beautiful constellations. He decides it is time — it has to be.

 

 

 

 

Friday, 12 th September, 2019

 

Leo - I love you, Angel.

 

Aries - And I think you might love me too?

 

 

 

 

Crowley is not sure what he expects when he knocks on the bookshop door that evening. He doesn’t have a paper with him so his hands twist around themselves. A habit he picked up from a certain angel.

 

Aziraphale’s hand rubs a circle in the dust that covers the window and Crowley sees his eyes light up through the spotted glass before the door is pulled open.

 

It is a lovely evening. There is whisky and bickering and at some point Aziraphale starts talking about Crowley’s hair when it was long. But they do not discus the stars. They do not discuss the L word, the soft bomb that’s been dropped.

 

Crowley wakes up with a very confused headache.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 14 th September, 2019

 

Leo - In the human way, I mean. The way I’m not supposed to.

 

Aries - We’re our own side. I don’t care about ‘supposed to’. Do you still care about ‘supposed to’?

 

 

 

On Sunday night they see a concert, and Aziraphale is too busy singing the praises of the orchestra and waxing poetic about the harmonies and the rubato sections and the conductor and whatever that he walks straight out of the hall and over the road without looking around him. He talks at Crowley and at the stars above them and doesn’t look twice at the Evening Standard vendor, despite Crowley trying to steer him by the elbow.

 

Back and cosy in the bookshop, Aziraphale is somehow still talking and still oblivious. He opens wine and, again, it is as lovely as always. There is poetry that night — Shakespeare. And though Crowley never liked the sad ones, he listens to the angel read for both the star crossed lovers on the balcony and wonders if this is Aziraphale’s version of the stars.

 

Has he read it? Does he know yet? Is this a confession, or a return, or just blank verse?

 

He wakes up in an armchair in the bookshop to the sound of a customer knocking far too loudly on the front door. She quickly leaves when a copy of Romeo and Juliet is aimed at her head, followed by a large snake, followed quickly by a half dressed angel shouting about annotated editions.

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 15 th September, 2019

 

Leo - I don’t think I was specific enough. To my own angel: the principality Aziraphale, guardian of the eastern gate of Eden, generous benefactor of the first man and woman, wielder of the flaming sword, godfather of the American antichrist child, survivor of hell fire, connoisseur of books and sushi and wine, lover of humanity and one lowly demon who every day endeavours to do evil with enough goodness to deserve you — I am in love with you. I want another thousand years with you, or two or three or forever.

 

Aries - I hope you love me too.

 

 

 

 

 

Margot Harris, who has run the horoscopes for The Evening Standard for seven years, is a Virgo. She believes in all that completely, so the fact she is a Virgo actually means something. Margot is a perfectionist, and very easily irritated. So it is very surprising, to her and to her colleague (an Aquarius) who happened to be leaving late, that she is moved and softened by the plight of the oddly dressed man who crashed into her office at ten to five.

 

‘It really is frightfully important,’ he is imploring, ‘I promise.’

 

She is used to strange men who don’t work her dropping off horoscopes — but she had been expecting the lanky man in the glasses who made an appearance every so often. She always got the sense that he knew something, and people never complained about his predictions, so she supposed they were fun if not correct. This man, however, looks as if he could be the exact opposite of the other -- none of his angles or confident swagger.

 

‘I normally don’t take submissions,’ Margot says, ‘only from—’

 

‘Oh I know him,’ the man says, dithering about to stay in her eye line as she searches through her handbag. ‘He’s my best friend. He always speaks so highly of you.’

 

She gives him an exasperated smile, but perhaps it is a little kind. ‘We’re about to shut.’

 

Her fingers reach for he light switch — but somehow stop in the air, hanging, gently bobbing. It doesn’t alarm her for some reason.

 

‘Oh I’ll be quick. So quick, you’ll barely notice me. Honestly.’ He is already pulling papers from the printer and whipping out an expensive fountain pen. ‘Two shakes of a lambs tail.’

 

‘Alright,’ she finds herself saying. A warm feeling spreads through her at the good deed. His gratitude radiates and the office suddenly feels loved and safe. ‘Alright, I’ll keep this floor open.’

 

He thanks her profusely, and continues thanking her for the several hours he stays in the office, scribbling and crossing out and fretting with his glasses and furrowing his brow. He asks for more paper, more ink, more space, more words, and she gives it to him — without worrying about the perfectly good set of horoscopes an intern had already typed up for Tuesday.

 

Whatever the man is writing is something agonising, or something wonderful he is determined to make perfect. Once or twice, she will swear tomorrow, she sees his eyes brim over with tears.

 

When at last he brings it to her, and thanks her again and even gives her little bow, she doesn’t feel tired or relieved to see the back of him. The pages he hands her — pages, plural — are warm to touch, and she knows without reading them that there is love within them. It feels like a lazy summer happiness.

 

 

It is this lazy contentment and warmth that Margot is still feeling when Crowley barrels into the office Tuesday morning with all the frantic Aries energy she claims she saw right away. He slaps a sheet of paper on her desk.

 

‘This is being printed tonight,’ he tells her.

 

‘It can’t be,’ she says, and he is shocked by her lack of bite. ‘I’ve already sent them out.’

 

‘What? But —’

 

‘Someone beat you to it I’m afraid.’

 

‘Who?’ He snarls, imaging some poncy Etonian graduate greedy for a splash. ‘Who? You’re supposed to wait for me.’

 

She smiles dreamily. ‘He was ever so polite…’

 

Crowley stares at her. His heart jumps in his throat. Jumps and jumps and jumps, bouncing and beating out of time like the smallest child on a trampoline playing crack the egg.

 

‘White hair?’ He asks, ‘glasses, this tall? Talks like it’s 1860?’

 

She nods. ‘Very charming. He was so worried about something so I let —’

 

She doesn’t finish — Crowley sprints out of the office and onto the street. it is only 11am. The streets are empty of commuters. He will have to wait hours for the paper to be printed.

 

Fuck fuck fuck fuck

 

He grabs a handful of hair. Takes two steps one way. Then the other. How on earth, how in the heaven, the hell, the universe, the anything is his supposed to wait hours to read whatever Aziraphale has persuaded them to print.

 

What if he loves you too? What if it’s that?

 

He pushes the thought deep, deep down. Shoves its head underwater. No use believing that only to find… what else?

 

A book review? An advert?

 

He takes several hurries steps the other direction. But Aziraphale knows he will read it, he reasons — it must be for him.

 

A dinner invitation? That wouldn’t be so bad. Would be lovely, actually. Best case scenario, really.

 

Fuck, he really needs to know now. How, how do people wait for things?

 

He takes off to the Bentley, fires sparks at the traffic warden — pricks, must be angelic — and floors it.

 

Through all the blur of the window he searches desperately, glasses thrown on the back seat, for the red windbreakers and trolleys of The Evening Standard vendors. They might be unloading early, he could catch one.

 

The city is agonisingly grey. Every paper wrenches his eyes from the wheel - metro, guardian, times. He swears the next bloody office worker he sees reading a morning paper is getting torn limb from limb. 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 27 th , 2019

 

Leo - You have something to say this week. Something you meant to say for  You should have said it before, ages ago but it was so difficult. It’s still difficult. Oh, Lord, I’m running out of space. I’m going to need another page. I’ve no idea how you did this all these years, dear, this has already taken me ages and I’m sure it’s a frightful mess. It’s going to cause so much trouble.

This week, don’t care about trouble.

 

 

 

3 pm. This is actually agonising. He’s miracled his tank up four times now, circling and circling the centre like a panicked predator. Naturally he gravitates to Soho, ironically but predictably needing to be close to Aziraphale in his anxious state, even though picturing the angel’s face, imagining what he’s written —

 

He shivers. How long does adrenaline last in humans?

 

Then — a van. A flash of red.

 

He screeches to a halt and storms over.

 

‘Alright mate? Let us get this unloaded and I’ll be with you in — Jesus!’

 

Tony Wheeler is a Gemini. He doesn’t read his horoscope unless he’s particularly bored at work, but even if he did, there would be nothing to warn him about a giant black snake somehow materialising in central London and hissing violently at him.

 

He drops the stack of papers he’s holding and aims a boot at the snake. It screeches at him again and curls around the papers.

 

Tom leaves it alone and rushes back in the van. He doesn’t get paid enough for this. The next time he peers out the snake is gone.

 

 

 

Crowley tears the paper against the plastic bonds, practically shreds the headline. He rifles though it like a madman, and more people than normal are looking his way. A little girl points and her London-born-and-raised mother flushes beetroot and grabs her finger. Crowley ducks into an alley.

 

The brick, dripping with extractor fan slime and rain, is cool against his back. He rests his head on it like a man in a desert. His tongue tastes like a hangover and he feels his throbbing heart rising up and up like bile.

 

Breathe.

 

Breathe.

 

Then he opens the paper and reads:

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 27 th , 2019

 

Aries - I’ll confess, dear, I’m not even sure where to start with this. Miracled a whole double spread and it’s looking rather intimidating now but I’m sure I’ll start and it’ll be overflowing in what will seem like moments.

I’m sorry. First of all I’m sorry — for taking so long, for prioritising the wrong things, or pretending to, when you have always been the most important thing to me. I’m sorry for wanting so badly to be what they wanted me to be and letting them poison me against you. I wanted you the whole time. I loved you the whole time.

I love you too. I love you back. I love you. I meant to say it, always. I promise.

I’m sorry for making it difficult for you when loving you was the easiest, most natural thing in the world. So easy that I was far, far gone over you before I knew, before I was brave enough to let myself realise.

I realise now, or I’m willing to realise now, how much I love you. I love your idiotic driving and your bebop and the fact you miracle me pyjamas. I love that you wrote all of these for me (I still can’t believe it, I’m sure I didn’t deserve it all these years). I love your face - is that strange? I love you as your angel and in an awfully human way. I’ve loved every iteration of those adorable glasses (don’t hate me for saying adorable, will you?) I love your eyes. I love you drunk. I love that you went back up there for me and told them all what I ought to have told them. You are kinder to me than the kindest angel. I love that you come with me to restaurants just to watch me eat. I love you when you try and push me around. I love that you brought all these stars and stories to earth. I love your stars — I would have loved to live in them with you. 

Sorry it took so long. I really believed I was being selfless. We can go fast now.

I love you.

 

 

 

 

Crowley is shaking. The newspaper rustles in his palm with the shaking. The the bookshop bell makes him jump as he pushes inside.

 

He hears Aziraphale’s pavlovian call from the back room — ‘We’re closed. Till’s broken!’

 

It is the same as always. Fondness is heavy in his mouth and it takes a second for words to come. ‘Angel,’ he croaks.

 

A pause. A shuffling. Then Aziraphale comes out of the back room and faces him. His fingers are clasped together behind his back as they usually are when he is dithering. But he doesn’t look nervous, Crowley realises. He looks very still and unguarded.

 

‘Crowley,’ he says. He talks slowly. ‘I wasn’t expecting you so soon. I’m afraid I’m not quite ready…’

 

Crowley blinks. ‘Oh,’ he says, and his mouth makes a noise he doesn’t mean it to make. ‘I thought…’ he waves the paper helplessly.

 

I thought you were now.

 

‘Oh, no,’ Aziraphale takes a step towards him, and his hands come up in front of him but don’t shake. They pet the air, quieting it, soothing it. ‘I only meant I was going to make us dinner. But it can wait.’

 

He smiles. How can be so calm? He has never been this calm. He waits in the silence, not rushing as he usually does to fill it with words.

 

Crowley has none to fill it himself. He has said them all so many times on paper — an idea, a theory — that now, in the moment itself, his imagination fails him. It isn’t imagination anymore. He isn’t imagining Aziraphale coming towards him. He feels the air more, thick with bookshop dust and angelic electricity.

 

Aziraphale eases the paper from his hand. Crowley watches him fold it, watches him run his fingers over the words he formed himself with the swooping of pen and heart. True, real, concrete and material, preserved forever in ink.

 

‘You wrote that?’ He asks, stupidly, wanting to hear it.

 

Aziraphale looks up at him, through him. ‘Yes. I did write that.’

 

‘And you. You mean it?’

 

‘Every word,’ says the angel.

 

Crowley gapes down at him. His face is open and defenceless, his eyes wide with something entirely new — not the Bambi eyes of a corrupted innocent or the rabbit in the headlights stare of someone faced with Should-Nots. There is no sin, no fear, no shock, no propriety. Aziraphale has never looked at him like this.

 

He cannot help but look away — it is like staring into the beauty of an eclipse.

 

Aziraphale smiles again, smiles from his eyes, and Crowley’s cheeks itch with a flush straight out of one of the angel’s old books. He is not sure whether he is smiling back — he doesn’t seem to be in control of his face. His lip is quivering. He feels — feels feelings welling up in the corners of his eyes.

 

Aziraphale cocks his head at him, and the worry Crowley is far more used to flits for a moment across his face. ‘Aren’t you happy?’ He asks.

 

‘Of course I am,’ Crowley says, after much silent debate with his mouth about whether it plans to cooperate. He sounds husky without meaning it. ‘Obviously I am it’s… It’s just — it’s all soon, sudden —’

 

His legs have decided to join his face and throat, and the unionised force of quivering is too much — this whole thing feels too much. Humans speak of God as ultimate love, of heaven as the truest love. But even before he fell, all those thousands of years ago, he had never felt anything as true and tangible and gentle and forceful as he feels in the bookshop now. The room, the whole of Soho, is awash with it. It is in the air, between electrons. 

 

The realisation, still fresh and open, and the weight of it is too much for his jellied legs. 

 

Somehow he manages to stumble back before flopping into an armchair. 

 

Aziraphale rushes to him, of course, kneeling anxiously at his feet. It’s all very Austen and pathetic. His skin itches to form scales, to slither away from it all and bury his head in his tail. He screws up his eyes.

 

‘I’m sorry,’ Aziraphale is saying, ‘I know. I am sorry.’ His thumb strokes the prickling scales on Crowley’s arm. ‘Don’t go anywhere, will you?’

 

He sounds guilty and concerned, which is very familiar. But somehow it is soothing. Crowley listens, and focuses on the easiness of it. The Love, overwhelming and supernaturally huge, is simple and human when filtered through a gentle thumb on his skin. He is calmer, and the world seems calmer with him.

 

Then Aziraphale takes his glasses off.

 

They look at each other, unfiltered, and even though it has only been weeks, it feels like relief as it always did when it was a once-in-a-hundred-years experience. But there is still that something else. The angel’s eyes are moon-bright as always, but with the barriers down, Crowley sees something else glinting there…   

 

‘Why are you looking at me like that?’ He asks, frowning.

 

‘Like what?’

 

‘You’ve never looked at me like that.’ 

 

‘I’m always looking at you…’ Aziraphale mumbles defensively. He looks away for a second, fidgeting, looking all over like he always has done when his cheeks colour at something between them. ‘I thought you noticed…’

 

Crowley smiles now. He knows for sure he is smiling because it is the same fond smile he always smiles to himself in moments like these. Muscle memory.

 

‘Not like this,’ he argues, not knowing what to say to I’m always looking at you. ‘You’re normally worrying. You look calm now…’

 

Aziraphale’s hand stills on Crowley’s arm. ‘I am calm,’ he says, as if he can’t quite believe it, is still getting used to it. ‘I really am. It’s rather strange isn’t it? I feel light.’

 

He looks it.

 

‘You know I used to look at you and only ever see questions. Every time I looked at you, a thousand questions and doubts and… now I’ve said it all, I look at you and — I see the answers. I just see answers. The answers I was stubbornly, stupidly looking for in God and they were here in front of me the whole time.’

 

‘What’s the answer then?’ Crowley asks him, hoping against hope he is right in thinking he knows the answer. He pleads silently with the stars —

 

Then Aziraphale kisses him. The stars finally align.

 

Great gaseous balls of blinding light and energy and —

 

He inhales, sharp and warm, and tastes… well, not heaven. Something better. In the softness he can taste love. Love and salt and… tepid cocoa?

 

It is everything — a culmination, a revolution, a finally. But it is simple really. One mouth on another, slowly opening, settling into each other. Easy. Minds empty. 

 

He exhales, and it comes out as a slow hiss — the hiss of one sinking into a warm bath (filled with normal Earth water of course).

 

Aziraphale smiles against it. He touches Crowley’s cheek and hums happily as they part. 

 

‘I love you,’ Crowley whispers, eyes closed. 

 

‘I love you too,’ he feels against his ear. 

 

It really is that simple, after all. He buries his face in Aziraphale’s collar and breathes, the stars forgotten, breathes in the love and happiness and smell of old books. It is going to be so easy. 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 28 th September, 2019

 

Leo - Even if you have been going through a stressful tough time, the experience has helped shape you and make you appreciate the good times even more. Turn to your family in times of need.

 

Aries - The skies are in an encouraging mood this week. A completely new face will enter your life — a connection worth exploring!

 

 

 

 

There are no accurate horoscopes printed in any London paper for nearly three weeks after that. Not so coincidently, Soho’s most notoriously closed bookshop is closed for its longest continual stint in fifty years. It’s occupants are rather busy: talking, laughing, drinking, listening, touching — exploring their new parameters. 

 

Crowley had thought — when he dared to think about it, alone on a dual carriageway, or in the darkest dark of his room — that he would have to lead when it came to the touching. He had not at all felt prepared for this but thought that, realistically, he would have to go fast or it would never happen. And he had, under cover of night, while other demons lurked and skulked and did demonic deeds, admitted that he very much wanted it to happen.

 

With the bookshop closed, it slowly starts to. Gently and then desperately and all at once, with water breaks.

 

He had thought of it like temptation, because there was no other way to think of it that he could see working with the roles that God had cast them in, the roles that Aziraphale had always tried to stick to. He wanted Aziraphale — really, a lot — and so he had imagined it the way he imagined Aziraphale would (if he did at all).

 

Crowley had, with both hands on the wheel, imagined himself filling the role, even being good at it. Imagined an angel falling into bed with him and giving in. The fantasies weren’t bad — once he had actually crashed, with both hands on the wheel. At home the fantasies had even been effective.

 

But they were fantasies. They melted under the real. They were very easy to forget when Aziraphale stroked a hand up his thigh, or placed a promising kiss under his jaw, or crowded him up against a bookshelf with a pressing hand under his belt. 

 

For an angel — no, for anyone — he is very good at it all. Somehow. Bastard. Even when Crowley gasps and finishes and shoves a clumsy hand down around him, he is good at murmuring sweetness between his groans. 

 

‘I love you,’ he says, letting Crowley climb into his lap, ‘I love you.’ 

 

They say ‘I love you’ an awful lot. With words but even more with silence. With their wings, their auras, their hands. Between the sheets, mid afternoon as eyes closed and sighs.

 

 

Aziraphale has not quite taken to sleeping as Crowley did. But he miracles a bed, because in between all the talking and the drinking and the touching, some demons need shut-eye, and sleeping in armchairs hurts Crowley’s back. In the soft quiet afterglow, Crowley drifts in and out of consciousness, and Aziraphale takes to lying down and closing his eyes and just holding on and listening like a duck to water. 

 

He tells Crowley he snores. Crowley doesn’t believe him for a second. Angels will lie through their teeth. 

 

 

On the rare occasions of of them ventures out they will bring back a paper and laugh:

 

‘It says here I will be prone to headaches this week.’

 

‘What a load of rubbish people write nowadays.’

 

‘It wasn’t you then?’

 

‘No, it wasn’t me, you know I only went out for milk.’

 

‘Well the whole thing was your idea.’

 

‘You’re giving me a headache now.’

 

‘Oh you poor dear.’

 

‘Bastard.’ 

 

‘However will we cope.’

 

‘Bad angel.’

 

‘If only there was something we could do to cure you…’

 

 

 

 

A month or so later the bookshop returns to its regularly irregular hours, and the only real change is the number of customers who are about to ask about the black vintage car outside, or are scared away my the giant snake.

 

No, not much changes for the humans who touch their lives, but for the angel and the demon who now are very close to co-running the shop, it is the start of the rest of their lives. No orders are given to them, no lists of blessings and bad deeds sent. No spats tap strictly on the pavement outside, no demons ring urgently on doorbells. There are no excuses, no intricate two-steps, no rites that must be observed before they can enjoy dinner, or a walk through the park, or a concert, or a museum, or a gallery, or a night spent reading and listening at home. They leave things at each others’ places, keep bringing and leaving and forgetting things until the boundaries between the bookshop and the Mayfair flat and more and more blurred.

 

They are on their own side, and with sides gone… well, there is only everything else in the world.

 

 

 

 

The staff at The Evening Standard remain mostly unbothered by either of the strange men who demand — with varying degrees of niceties — to publish their own prophecies for the stars. In fact, the visits from the infamous man in dark glasses and the only-ever-heard-of man in the tartan bow-tie become the stuff of legend. No one seems to remember anything significant, but everyone has heard stories and conjured images in their minds. Interns on every floor whisper to each other by the water-cooler, and hunt for gossip from their supervisors.

 

‘I saw him yesterday,’ Tom O’Shea (a Libra) says to Sarah Barker (a Gemini he rather fancies) in the lift one Monday. ‘Sunglasses man. I saw him.’

 

‘No way, I don’t believe you.’

 

‘Did too. Saw him giving the boss a piece of paper.’

 

‘Oh yeah? What’d he say?’

 

‘Didn’t say anything. But tonight’s horoscope is something about overwatering the plants apparently.’

 

‘Wow! You’re so lucky!’ 

 

 

 

 

And so it continues.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, April 6 th , 2020

 

Leo - The circus is in town in Tadfield. We could pop back down for a visit?

 

Aries - Celebrate one year of walking the tightrope.

 

 

 

Friday, April 7 th , 2020

 

Leo - I rather think a year since we jumped off it, don’t you, dear?

 

Aries - I’ll pack a picnic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, 1 st August, 2021

 

Leo - Happy birthday, Angel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 25 th December, 2022

 

Leo - Merry Christmas, Angel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, February 7 th , 2023

 

Aries - I love you to pieces for borrowing my first Quarto but if you aren’t wearing gloves I swear I’ll tell your cactus how well it’s growing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 22 nd July, 2024

 

Leo - The stars have a surprise planned for you, come home early.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, 30 th November, 2025

 

Aries - If you’re looking for your pyjamas, you left them in the bookshop. Again. Would be easier to sleepover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 18 th March, 2026

 

Leo - Dinner tonight? I found a new sushi place.

 

Aries - Loving you on purpose was the best decision I ever made.

 

 

 

 

 

There is only one time the men are ever seen at the office together. It is the 27 th of September, and it happens every year — though no one will remember, because of some miracle and because the staff turnover is extremely high nowadays. One takes the stairs, the other the elevator — passing goggling interns and desensitised hot-deskers without a backwards glance, both carrying slips of paper.

 

Garry Mitchell, a Virgo who doesn’t give a monkeys about all that nonsense, is running the horoscopes now, because apparently it’s a promotion and his girlfriend is angling for a trip to Lanzarote. He has met with both the men, though he doesn’t tell his staff this because he can’t stand their muttering by the microwave when he needs it for the tea he forgot.

 

The angel, the demon and Garry Mitchell collide in a heap of reheated tea.

 

‘Watch where you’re going!’

 

‘Oh, I am sorry, dear fellow, I —’

 

Garry clambers up angrily, but somehow his tea is still in the mug and no one is wet. He is about to start shouting but the office is silent. Everyone is staring at the strange men, who are only staring at each other.

 

Then they start to laugh.

 

‘I thought you were going to let me do it this year —’

 

‘Angel, it’s my turn!’ 

 

They hand their papers to Garry without explanation and leave together, arm in arm.

 

 

 

Friday, 27 th September, 2026

 

Leo - Angel: Every year I am more happy with you. I’m going to say something nice and cheesy now but know I would only ever do it for you and you’d better appreciate it: Happy anniversary.

 

Aries - Hamlet, act II, scene II, lines 115-123. I love you. See you at dinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria May Malcom is a Gemini, and is definitely planning on taking her husband’s last name, which doesn’t begin with M. She has waited seven years, since meeting her fiancé in the biggest traffic jam the M25 has ever seen, for the heavy rock on her left hand. She is going to make sure everyone in the Ritz knows what an obscenely long time that is for ones hands to weigh the same.

 

The other side of the restaurant, at their usual table, Crowley and Aziraphale amuse themselves greatly by listening to her lament over seven measly years. At one point her ring nearly flies off into he champagne with the combined force of weight plus gravity, and Aziraphale laughs so he spills his own, and in that moment, as he laughs himself and miracles up a tea towel, Crowley decides that Maria May Malcom is right. Seven years is far too long to go without a ring.

 

 

 

Saturday, 28 th September, 2026 

 

Leo - The stars have something very important to ask you.

 

 

 

Sunday, 29 th September, 2026

 

Leo - So please pay attention.

 

 

 

Monday, 30 th September, 2026

 

Leo - The stars aren’t nervous, actually. Demons don’t get nervous.

 

 

 

Tuesday, 31 st September, 2026

 

Leo - I should do it in writing, right? That isn’t weird, is it?

 

 

 

Wednesday, 1 st October, 2026

 

Leo - Pick up a damn newspaper.

 

 

 

Thursday, 2 nd October, 2026

 

Aries - I’m listening.

 

 

 

Friday, 3 rd October, 2026

 

Leo - Would you think about marrying me, please?

 

Aries - (I mean you, Aziraphale. Don’t let some sappy humans see this and think it’s from their mediocre boyfriends, that is not a good need worth doing.)

 

 

 

Crowley waits for a long time outside Charring Cross for the delivery of that evening’s paper. He as been pacing train stations for 24 hours, too nervous to sit and wait in the bookshop or the flat or the park. All his fingers and toes are crossed — because he can do that easily — not that he is superstitious. He doesn’t need luck. He twitches, buffeted and tutted at by Londoners, waiting for the van.

 

Should he have chosen somewhere for dinner? Come by the bookshop with flowers? Delivered the paper himself? Maybe it all should have been more romantic.

 

Still no sign of the van. He checks his watch, taps his shoes on the concrete.

 

Then his well-trained eyes, scanning for the rustle of newspaper, find Aziraphale, across the busy road, bobbing and weaving and searching around him.

 

He starts across the road.

 

Aziraphale spots him and beams. He crosses as well.

 

They meet in the middle. Pedestrians hurry past them but a miracle of a bubble protects them from impatient shoves and careless heels.

 

Aziraphale’s smile is wide and open and so bright with love that Crowley knows the answer already. ‘I’ve been looking all over for you.’

 

‘I wasn’t anywhere.’

 

‘Are you crying?’

 

Crowley sniffs. ‘No.’

 

‘You know you don’t need to lie to me, dear,’ Aziraphale sighs gently, taking his hands.

 

‘Did you read the paper yesterday?’ 

 

‘Of course.’

 

‘Really?’

 

‘Really.’

 

And because he feels it surely must do in this moment, Crowley’s heart stops beating.

 

‘I haven’t read today’s,’ he says, carrying on without a pulse, prolonging the moment before he has to know either way, ‘what does it say?’

 

‘I’ve no idea,’ Aziraphale says, still smiling.

 

‘Oh…’ Crowley falters for a moment — his hands slipping away. He hears the traffic again. They’ve stopped it, he realises, and it is loud and angry.

 

‘No!’ Aziraphale pulls him back and the traffic quietens. Glares become glances. ‘I couldn’t wait for print,’ the angel explains in a sweet hurry. ‘You know I love your stars and your words but I wanted —’

 

A vicious cab blares its horn and Aziraphale stops. He shoots it an equally vicious look, showing the driver the wings and flames and eyes of a heavenly form. The driver feints backwards and the honking stops.

 

‘Sorry,’ Aziraphale says, turning back as if apologising for a badly behaved child. ‘What I was going to say, was that I wanted to see you when I said yes.’

 

Under Crowley’s fingers, his pulse skips. His eyes are another millennium of hope. They are bright as the midday sun, the mad dog and Englishman sun, the Grecian sun of that first August together.

 

In the middle of a busy London road, Crowley takes his sunglasses off. He makes a noise that sounds like a stubbornly wrong echo of ‘yes?’.

 

He tries again and hisses: ‘yes?’

 

‘Yes,’ Aziraphale tells him.

 

‘It doesn’t have to be a thing if you don’t want it to be a thing—’

 

‘Yes,’ Aziraphale tells him again. 

 

‘We don’t have to go to Church if you don’t want to. I mean, I don’t want to. I’m sure you’d rather not, really, but if you like I can—’

 

‘Yes,’ Aziraphale tells him, holding his lapels. ‘Are you finished? I’d quite like to take my fiancé to dinner.’

 

‘Ngkr,’ he says, spluttering to a halt. Then he smiles. ‘Yes.’

 

Aziraphale tugs at his collar and he leans down into a crushing, smiling kiss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They are very busy when the day comes, even though there is little planned. (They are ethereal beings after all, and because they expect a registered official and flowers and a string quartet and cake and champagne, everything is there without planning. It is even a beautiful day, despite the time of year, although that might be down to the ring bearer, who used to be the antichrist and is very used to perfect weather.) But, as ever, they are not too busy for the stars. And so, for the first time ever, alongside it’s births/deaths/marriages page — on which they feature, purely because they expect to — The Tadfield Advertiser runs a horoscope:

 

 

Sunday, 17 th October, 2026

 

Leo - The stars predict the happiest future. Happier than anyone has the right to predict. They predict stupid mistakes and misunderstandings, but they predict me trying harder than I’ve ever tried at anything to make you happy.

 

Aries - I do. I will. I shall. I love you. The stars say I will forever.