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you have built nests from all of my bark

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It wouldn’t be very useful to compare angels and demons and birds. There are similarities, of course; They’re winged creatures, all created by God, and they tend to have a strange penchant for shiny objects, to name a few overlapping facts. These are all traits that are shared by a good amount of the animal kingdom, though, so it would be disingenuous to compare the three in a vacuum. It would be like comparing a frog to a garden, as there are bound to be similarities despite neither being very similar at all. A frog and a garden may both be green, they are each organic, and they need water to live and thrive - but one is an animal, the other is a collection of plants, and realistically, there’s little practical use to an in-depth comparison of the two.

Angels and demons and birds are all winged creatures made and given life by God, they like shiny objects, and they make nests. But angels are warriors of God, demons are warriors against God, and birds answer to no one but themselves - there are few reasons to draw connections between the groups.

A bird’s nest would, generally, be made out of twigs, feathers, and perhaps some other fluffy items. Maybe a pebble or two if they were feeling particularly extravagant. This is hardly comparable to what an angel would create given the opportunity, and what an angel would create is hardly comparable to what a demon would throw together in a last ditch attempt to woo their angelic friend into a romantic entanglement.

A demon, were they to find themselves in such a predicament, would search out the finest, softest fabrics. They would construct a wooden frame to drape these fabrics over - in the shape of a square, most likely, because it’s well-known that there are few areas better to read a book than in a perfectly cushioned ninety-degree angle. Their own feathers would be stuffed into pillow cases and sewn shut - a way of signing the creation moreso than anything else, because demonic feathers aren’t exactly as soft as goose down. Those pillows would provide cushioning, and the nest would be nearly complete. If the demon was feeling brave enough, they would include blankets from their own bed.

It would be a masterful work of demonic craft, a nest fit for a duke of Hell or the King Themselves were they interested in such soft things.

In this specific case, though, the demon in question would be Crowley, as no other demon would be foolish or reckless enough to fall in love with an angel. And that would mean the nest would be made not for a king or any other royalty, but instead for Aziraphale.

Aziraphale, the fussy principality who would much rather rule over a hoard of books than fight in a war.

Aziraphale, the shop owner who would prefer not to sell any of his wares when given the option to.

Aziraphale, the angel who stood with Crowley against the forces of Heaven and Hell, who outwitted representatives from Above and Below to save the piece of Eden he and Crowley had carved out together, who wrinkles his nose when he laughs, who will match Crowley shot-for-shot on their drinking binges, who is the smartest bastard Crowley has ever known and the only bastard Crowley will ever love.

Aziraphale, Aziraphale, Aziraphale. It’s always been Aziraphale for Crowley.

Hence, the nest.

Birds may not create nests as a sign of love, but angels do. Demons do, too, but it’s hard to get them to admit that what they do is out of love. After all, they have a reputation to keep.

A reputation isn’t much use to a disgraced demon, though.

“‘S good, isn’t it?” Crowley says out loud. He bends down to straighten a nonexistent wrinkle in the blankets. Then he fluffs the pillows again. “Homemade, soft. Perfect for book reading. Cup holder for tea. Biscuit hidey-hole.”

The potted fern, placed close enough for admiration but not so close as to detract from the main attraction, waves encouragingly.

Crowley nods to himself. “Right. Who wouldn’t like it? It’s lovely. Warm. Homey. Better than anything a snooty archangel could make.”

The snooty archangel in question being Michael, of course.

Or, well, perhaps not of course. It was certainly a shock to see her in Aziraphale’s shop last week.

 

It was a Tuesday, which should’ve been an indicator that something bad was lurking on the horizon. Tuesdays have rarely produced anything but turmoil, in Crowley’s experience. This Tuesday was no different - the weather was humid but cold, cloudy and dreary but not raining just yet. The shop, when he pulled up, had no parking available in front of it. That didn’t, nor would it ever, stop the Bentley, but it slowed Crowley down just enough to be an irritation.

This, compounded with the door being locked, was enough to raise the hairs on the back of his neck.

He knocked - for the first time in nearly two centuries, Crowley had to knock on the bookshop door.

“We’re closed!” Aziraphale’s voice called out.

“Yeah, shocker,” Crowley muttered. He sighed, knocked again, and said, “Oi, it’s me! Didn’t you want to try that fusion place tonight? You said you made reservations and everything.”

“Crowley? Oh dear, I - Just a moment.”

“Is that the abomination?” Another voice said. “Is befriending an abomination a required part of experiencing Earth?”

Crowley needed only a moment to place the voice. He sputtered out, “Is - is that Michael?!”

“Just a MOMENT, Crowley!”

“His voice is annoying. Have you really tolerated his presence for six millennia?”

Crowley started knocking more frantically. “What is Michael doing in your shop?! Are you okay? Aziraphale!”

“It’s - oh, for the love of - “

Crowley almost rammed his fist into Aziraphale’s face when the object upon which he was knocking decided to disappear. Aziraphale, holding the door back, had been red-faced and out of breath. He collected himself long enough to gasp out, “Please. Come in, Crowley.”

Crowley straightened his jacket and pretended he hadn’t been a moment away from breaking the door down. “Sure. Thanks.”

He took approximately five steps into the shop before he was face-to-face with Michael.

Crowley’s experiences with Michael had been far and few between even before he fell; they had always run in different circles. Lucifer wasn’t any less annoying than Michael, but he was at least funnier than her. She had been a stick in the mud since God spat her out and said she would be leading Heaven’s armies into battle.

Her face - pulled into a disgusted sneer as she looked down her nose at him - indicated that she hadn’t changed much since Heaven unceremoniously booted him out. Interestingly enough, though, her hair wasn’t in its customary bun. Long brown locks were spilling out from a messy ponytail, and she was dressed in jeans, of all things.

 

Not the usual angel get up - even Aziraphale, for all of his individuality and humanity, continued to wear suits and present himself with a certain level of formality. Jeans, an oversized sweater, and flip flops on Michael looked as odd as ducks would look with visible ears. [1]

Crowley said, “So. What’s with all… this?” He waved a hand at Michael, then waved it harder when Aziraphale didn’t answer right away. “Aziraphale? Last I heard, you were on Heaven’s blacklist. What’s one of their star students doing here?”

Michael continued looking at him with disdain. Aziraphale scrubbed a hand over his face.

At the continued silence, Crowley snorted. “What, is she shacking up with you or something?”

“No!” Aziraphale visibly shuddered. “Of course not. Really, must you be so crude?”

“You locked me out of your shop to cater to this piece of work - I think I’m entitled to a bit of crudeness.”

Aziraphale’s face said he pointedly didn’t agree or disagree with that statement. He said, “Michael has become curious about humanity and would like to learn more than angels learn through their assignments Upstairs. She wants to see everything, apparently, and she’s asked me to - how did you word it, dear?”

Crowley mouthed, “Dear?” to himself.

The answer to his unspoken question was answered when Michael spun to face Aziraphale and her face melted into the picture of holy rapture. She said, much too enthusiastically and much too adoringly, “I asked if Aziraphale would be so kind as to demonstrate how he knew our Mother would never want to exterminate the creatures down here. His unique insight into our Mother’s inner workings - the revelations he has received - I, too, would like to open myself to the possibility of understanding even the tiniest sliver of Her plan.”

Aziraphale turned to Crowley and with a tight smile said, “Yes. That.”

“That,” Crowley said slowly. “Er. Not to dissuade you from your latest pet project, Mike, but last we saw of you was with a pitcher of holy water. That didn’t exactly scream, ‘I respect God’s plan and those who were working towards making it happen.’”

Michael, for a moment, froze. Visage perfectly holy, her face lit up with reverence that surely had been captured in some sacred painting from the Renaissance - she looked like what humans would imagine an angel to be, in that moment. Then, her eyes darkened, her mouth twisted into a foul scowl, and the pristine image shattered. A nasty scowl twisted what had been the paragon of holiness, and she spun to face him head on.

Crowley had to back up hurriedly as she started advancing upon him, striding forward and reaching out to poke his chest with her pointer finger. He winced, feeling a zap of power transfer between them as she snapped, “You killed Ligur!”

“Er - so?”

“You killed him!”

Crowley, unprepared for this accusation, shouted, “He was going to kill me! What was I supposed to do, invite him in for tea?”

“I don’t care! You killed him! Hastur was sobbing for ages - I had to field that phone call, you know, and how am I supposed to comfort a demon? I couldn’t, obviously, because that wouldn’t be right.”

“Obviously,” Crowley agreed. “As if anything about this situation is obvious. Since when have you been buddy-buddy with those two?”

She bared her teeth at him and hissed, “I told Hastur I’d kill you in return. Killing a demon’s a proper angelic thing to do, and if it made Hastur feel better - Eye for an eye, life for a life, demon for a demon. Very Old Testament, don’t you agree?”

Crowley, cowed, leaned away from Michael and her rage. “Erm. Very.”

He couldn’t look to the side, fearing what would happen if he took his eyes off of her. He could sense Aziraphale’s exasperation though, and it came across loud and clear as he sighed. “Michael, please. That’s enough, isn’t it?”

Michael pulled back just slightly, Aziraphale’s voice apparently enough to temper her fury. She brushes a tendril of hair out of her face and says, softly, “If the antichrist hadn’t reset the lives lost - if Ligur had remained dead - you wouldn’t have received mercy from me. Know that, serpent.”

“Noted,” Crowley squeaked.

Aziraphale huffed and crossed his arms. “So, there you have it. Michael believes that our survival is proof of God approving of our actions - of God wanting humanity to live on. She wants to learn how I received divine revelations that allowed us to act on God’s behalf when no one else could.”

Crowley would have liked to argue that he himself hadn’t done anything on God’s behalf, as it’s not as if she ever intervened on his. [2] He didn’t, only because badmouthing God in front of Michael would be worse than waving a red flag in front of an enraged bull.

Crowley’s been a lot of things, but stupid has never been one of them. Self-preservation has gotten him far.

So he said, “Well. Where are we starting? I see you’ve got human clothes down to a T - you’re closer to this century than Aziraphale is. We’ll make a human lover out of you soon enough.”

A strange silence followed his statement.

He said, “Well, come on. What else have you hit? You get to the Internet yet? Vines?”

Aziraphale said, “Crowley, um. Would you - Of course your insight is valuable, and you’re certainly more in touch with the modern day than I am, but. Well.” He fidgeted with his hands. Michael crossed her arms and pointedly didn’t look at Crowley.

Aziraphale cleared his throat and shifted his weight. Tugged at his bowtie. Wouldn’t meet Crowley’s eyes.

With a pang of realization, he hollowly said, “Oh. I see. This a no demons allowed sort of thing? Secret clubhouse and I’m not invited?”

“Well,” Aziraphale said weakly. “She’s looking for divine revelation, my dear boy. Not occult.”

For once, Crowley wasn’t charmed by Aziraphale’s “my dear boy.” He felt rather terrible, actually, which was all the more jarring when compared to how “my dear boy” normally made him feel.

He licked his lips. “Sure. Sure, sure. I get it. Guess we’ll need to reschedule our plans then, huh?”

“Yes, of course - maybe next week?”

Crowley, who had been about to ask if Aziraphale would be free tomorrow, felt the air rush out of his lungs. “Sure,” He forced out. “Next week. I’ll call you?”

“I’ll call you,” Aziraphale said reassuringly. Which, admittedly, was not all that reassuring considering his aptitude for technology. “Thank you for understanding, Crowley.”

“Sure.”

After an awkward moment, Crowley turned and left. The door shut behind him, and he heard it lock before he got three steps down the sidewalk.

Standing there, rejected (again) for being less-than-holy - ignored in favor of an archangel - shoved out the front door with not so much of a “farewell, goodbye, dear friend,” or a parting well-wish - Crowley tried to wrap his head around why, exactly, he thought things would be different after everything.

He forced himself into the Bentley and collapsed into the driver’s seat, uncomfortably aware of his corporation’s tear ducts. They didn’t act without his permission, of course, but he could feel them straining to attempt disobedience.

Cars are a good place for a decent wallow. Most people don’t look twice at a fellow bemoaning their fate as long as the doors are shut and no one can hear them. Police officers might even be nice enough to avoid giving that fellow a parking ticket if they look miserable enough. The Bentley kindly drove Crowley to an abandoned car lot far from Aziraphale’s shop, where he could crawl into the backseat and curl up with few bystanders to gawk at him.

Knees tucked against his chest, eyes glued to the roof of the car, and a seatbelt [3] digging uncomfortably into his back, Crowley wallowed.

“I get the whole ‘unforgivable’ thing - I get it! Comes with the whole demon schtick. But was undesirable part of the package? Did that get left out of the welcome packet? ‘Hey, you’re going to Fall and it’s going to be eternal agony, and that one good thing you have? That angel? Yeah, he’s going to deal with you out of pity and because you’re around, not because you’re worthy in any way, shape or form. You’re actually disgusting and the worst, and even the biggest asshole Upstairs is better than your scum-infested face.’” He squeezed his arms tighter around his middle, sighing loudly. “Lucifer didn’t say that when he told us all to jump.

“I mean. Why would he? Wouldn’t exactly get much buy-in if they made the draw ‘eternal damnation, hideousness, and no meaningful companionship whatsoever’ instead of, ‘freedom from Heaven and God’s tyrannical rule.’” He paused. “Would’ve been more accurate, though. Should sue him for false advertising, really.”

The Bentley, because it’s loyal, revved its engine encouragingly.

“I just!” He scrubbed his face and sighed.” I don’t get it. Six millennia. Six thousand years. All of that, and he’s kicking me out. Me! For Michael! To show her ‘divine revelation’, whatever that means. What’s she got that I don’t? Angelic holiness aside, she’s a bigger prick than I am! I definitely have better taste in style than she does. She looks like a mom from the nineties. Who wears jeans like that? She’s lame, she’s a jerk, she’s not even a fun one - What’s she got?”

An answer wriggled at the back of Crowley’s head. He almost ignored it, caught up in his sulk.

It was persistent, though, and some part of Crowley leaned in to whisper, “Well, you know. She looked quite cozy. Almost like she was going to… Well, maybe like she was going to curl up in a nest.”

Crowley shot straight up. “No,” He gasped. “No, no. Aziraphale’s never - “

Except he had. Between the two of them, Aziraphale has always been the hedonist. He’s lounged. He’s filled the bookshop up with creature comforts - not a nest, but only because Aziraphale had no one to share a nest with. It’s as close to one a single angel could get, what with the soft chairs and the comforting books and the plentiful food and wine and how he has guarded it for centuries like a dragon guards its hoard and the everything else about it that screams home and comfort.

He always let Crowley in, until that Tuesday. He had to knock to get in that afternoon.

Crowley felt his heart thump in his chest. “But - he wouldn’t. If it was a nest, he wouldn’t let her in. He doesn’t like her!”

If Aziraphale thought Crowley had been shunning him though - that Crowley’s ignorance had instead been him not appreciating what Aziraphale had created - maybe he would turn to someone who would give it the proper attention.

Maybe he’d turn to an angel that would recognize a nest and want to hunker down. Michael, clearly starstruck, had given him an opportunity to show it off to someone else who would know what it meant. She certainly seemed like she would be willing to curl up next to Aziraphale and preen with him in the comfort of the shop, and Aziraphale, though tense, had called her “my dear.”

Aziraphale searched out comfort, and maybe he thought Michael could provide it. Meanwhile, Crowley had Aziraphale over weeks ago and hadn’t been able to offer him anything except a kitchen stool and some leftover shepherd’s pie. His own flat has never been anything other than a place to keep his plants, sleep, and waste time when he was between jobs or get-togethers with Aziraphale - he didn’t have so much as a throw to offer him.

Demons didn’t nest. Angels and birds did, but demons didn’t, really. It wasn’t done. Nests are home and comfortable - the antithesis of demons everywhere. They could; the instinct is still there, just like the wings they still have.

But they don’t.

Crowley, though. He’s never much cared for tradition.

Sitting in the backseat of the Bentley and staring out the window, he murmured, “Never been a very good demon though, have I? What’s an itty-bitty nest compared to taking a stand against Satan themselves?”

 

Describing his creation as “itty-bitty” no longer fits accurately - it grew into quite the luxurious monstrosity. Feather-stuffed pillows, the cozy comforter from his bed, a homemade frame to hold it all together, and a snack cubby - If the angels in Heaven could see this nest, they’d disgustedly refer to it as decadent.

Aziraphale likes decadent. Crowley likes what Aziraphale likes. It’s perfect.

“Michael wouldn’t think to add a cup holder,” Crowley says lowly. “Michael doesn’t even know what a cup holder is. Bet she thinks cups are stupid. She’s the stupid one, though, because Aziraphale likes cups. He likes that mug of his, and look!” He bends down to trace the perfectly crafted cup holder that has an indent carved into it for a mug handle to fit in. “It’ll fit just right.”

Demons don’t make nests, but when they do, they do it with style.

Or, at least, Crowley does.

He fluffs the pillows one last time, smooths out the mountain of blankets, and he nods decisively. “Right. It’s ready.”

Making the nest took a full week. He had tried a few different variations before settling on the final design, and then he had to quickly remember those long-forgotten carpentry skills [4] to construct the frame. Then he was tracking down the perfect materials - the softest fabrics in shades that he nor Aziraphale would find horribly offensive. Then he thought of the cup holder and had to tear it all up to fix the structure.

Then there was the requisite day of anxiety and doubt before he fully committed to the whole endeavor. Can’t forget the necessity of a good panic - it doubled his motivation and productivity almost immediately.

In the end, Crowley is pleased with what he made. In his more optimistic moments, he thinks that Aziraphale will like it. In his less optimistic ones, he hopes - and he prays, just a little - that Aziraphale won’t laugh at him.

He stopped sleeping after the third night - that night brought with it a looping, repetitive nightmare of Aziraphale chortling as he stopped in to see Crowley’s handiwork.

“Oh, well,” Dream-Aziraphale chuckled. “Crowley, this is - oh, it’s quite quaint. You’re darling, dear, but a nest? This is hardly proper. And the pillows!” A full guffaw, then, and it repeated until Crowley gave up trying to sleep.

Crowley nibbles on the edge of his thumbnail. “Pillows’re fine,” He mutters. “They’re fine. It’s cozy. It’s good. He’s going to love it.”

With one last look at the creation, he finally commits to going to see Aziraphale. Aziraphale can’t see the nest if Crowley doesn’t invite him over, and Crowley can’t invite him over if he doesn’t talk to him. Aziraphale said he would call, but he’s taking too long.

So, Crowley and the Bentley will pick him up. Surely, he’ll want to see Crowley by now. Surely, he’s sick of Michael by this point.

“Who wouldn’t be?” Crowley says, scoffing. He shrugs his jacket on and starts towards the door. “She’s a self-righteous prick. And she’s friends with Hastur - who’d want to be friends with Hastur? No one with half a brain cell.”

“Hastur’s not that bad,” A voice says from behind his front door. Crowley jumps a foot back, hand pressed to his heart. “Bit dull, but he’s not the worst duke. Tells some wicked jokes.”

“What the fuck!”

“Did I startle you, Croooow-ley?” He can hear her grin.

“No,” He lies immediately. “No startlement here. It’s such a pleasant surprise to hear your voice, Dagon, especially when I don’t owe you any reports.”

“Defecting doesn’t absolve you of deadlines. I’m still waiting on your updates to the antichrist file.”

Crowley finally pulls the door open so he can give her the incredulous look such a statement deserves. “You’re having me on.”

Dagon has always been one of the only demons Crowley could tolerate for extended periods of time. She has a job such that she mostly remains in Hell, but she has enough favor with the lower-ups like Hastur and Beelzebub that she gets regular breaks. Her breaks tend to skew towards trips to the beach and areas on Earth where she can cause some relatively harmless mischief.

It means that every once in awhile, the stars will align, and Dagon will understand one of Crowley’s more modern jokes. He used to await those moments eagerly when presenting his accomplishments Downstairs.

Now, though, her flesh is surprisingly unrotted and her clothes are strangely modern. She looks far more human than he’s ever seen her. When she gives him a toothy grin, she has normal human teeth rather than her normal piranha-inspired knives. “Don’t tell Beez - You holding up that file is my excuse for taking a vacation.”

“You’re - “

“Can’t do anything until that very important file is completed,” She says very seriously. “Can’t complete the file until I get Agent Crowley’s official statement. Gotta go to Earth to get that since we can’t call him in anymore. Oh no, not a problem my prince, I’ll unhappily go and gripe the entire way.”

Crowley’s impressed despite himself. “And they bought that?”

“Snapped it up like it was on clearance.”

“Wow.”

“So,” She says smugly. “Show me the sights, Earth-lover. Something must be good if you went and flipped Satan the bird to keep it around, and your shitty reports didn’t tell me enough to get it. My own trips up here have been fun, but nothing to write home about. I wanna get it, Crowley.”

Crowley says, “Uh, no? I have better things to do than play Earth-tutor for you. I didn’t sign up for any after-school programs, thanks.”

Dagon shrugs. “Either you show me or I’ll follow you around anyway. Either way, I get what I want.”

It’s a compelling argument. Crowley wonders if Michael had used the same flawless logic to convince Aziraphale.

“Fine,” He acquiesces reluctantly. “I’m not changing my plans, though. I have things to do.”

Dagon asks heartlessly, “You’re unemployed, what do you possibly have to do?”

Crowley would rather not get into the nitty-gritty details, so he slinks out the door and tries to close it behind him quickly - Dagon shoves her foot in there, though, stopping its trajectory. He jerks it forward, but she must be wearing steel-toed boots because all she does is grin at him widely. “Naughty naughty - What don’t you want me to see, ducky?”

“Nothing,” he lies poorly. He tries to pull the door shut, but the angle is off and he’s about to break his own arm trying to close it. She nudges it open further with her foot, in spite of his feeble attempts at secrecy.

He can see the exact moment she sees his living room, because her eyes widen and she whistles lowly. Crowley slams a hand over his face and sighs loudly.

“Is that - ?”

“Yes, okay, yuck it up.”

“And it’s for… what’s-his-face? The angel?”

Crowley sighs again. “Yes. It’s for Aziraphale.”

“You made him a nest.”

“Yes. Yes, I made him a nest.”

Dagon’s grin widens until she’s smiling manically. “To think I almost waited to bug you until tomorrow. I would’ve missed this monstrosity - guess God doesn’t hate me as much as I thought.”

“Oh shut up.”

“Really, the odds of me appearing right before you do something so monumentally stupid? That’s got a bit of divinity in it. Blessed are thou, Dagon, for thee will get to watch Crowley make a complete idiot of himself by trying to old-school woo his holy sweetheart. Amen.”

 

The trip to Aziraphale’s shop is not any kinder or any less mocking. Dagon in the Bentley with him is intensely grating - after decades of Aziraphale being his only passenger, it feels wrong to look over and see red hair instead of the fluffy blonde he’s used to.

Strangely, though, Dagon’s continued rudeness only fills Crowley with more confidence. If Dagon, a demon, thinks this is as laughable of a situation as she (obviously) does - well, then an angel like Aziraphale might just be charmed by it.

Crowley, subsequently, has a chance.

This time, when he sees the “Closed” sign and he has to knock on the bookshop’s doors for entry, he doesn’t let it get him down. He knocks politely.

There’s no response, but he still doesn’t let that deter him. He knocks once more.

“We’re closed,” Aziraphale calls out. He sounds abnormally tired.

It’s fortunate, then, that Crowley has the perfect place in mind for a midday nap.

“It’s me,” Crowley calls back. “Can I come in?”

Dagon, obnoxiously, yells, “He means can WE come in, thanks.”

Crowley sighs once more - he’s sure it won’t be the last sigh while Dagon is here bothering him. He’s about to tell her off when the door is flung open and nearly smashes into his face. He pinwheels back not a moment too soon. He steadies himself - barely - and goes, “Yeesh, angel, where’s the fire?”

Aziraphale - sleeves rolled up, hair mussed, and eyes locked on Dagon, smiles tightly. He looks strangely manic and significantly more tired than he sounds.

“Oi, you alright - ?”

Aziraphale, with a strained, forced politeness, asks, “Crowley. Who is this?”

Crowley cocks his head to the side. He puts his hands in his pockets. Slowly, he says, “This is Dagon.”

“Dagon,” Aziraphale repeats immediately, again with that same close-lipped smile. “What is she doing here? With you?”

Dagon looks like Christmas has come early. She smiles toothily and holds out a hand for Aziraphale to shake. Aziraphale, despite his clear distaste, takes it in a firm grip.

Dagon’s smile widens as their hands grip each other. “I asked Crowley here to show me the ropes. You know - get the whole human experience. Especially all of the sinning - he’s good at that, isn’t he? I figured I’d try my hand at the ‘corrupting humans’ thing, and who better to teach that than Crowley himself? He’s a real master of temptation, you know.”

Crowley isn’t sure what’s happening, but he can feel the way something in the world just went off-kilter. A small droplet of sweat travels down his neck as he takes in the interlocked death grip that has Aziraphale and Dagon’s hands occupied. Aziraphale’s faux-smile is slowly falling off of his face to be replaced by a sneer, while Dagon’s smile only grows wider.

“Is that so?”

“Oh yes,” Dagon says gleefully. “It is so.”

Aziraphale sniffs and disdainfully looks down his nose at her. “Well, I can’t possibly see what you’re doing here if that’s the case. This is a bookshop - hardly the place for the exciting experience you’re clearly looking for.”

Aziraphale damn near spits the word “exciting” out, the same way he says “customers” or “books with movie posters as covers.”

Dagon hums. “Maybe, maybe not. You certainly are rocking the ‘drab librarian’ look.”

Crowley cuts in quickly, hastily attempting to interrupt the strange energy that’s started to pick up. “Angel, ignore her - I wanted to invite you - “

“Are you going to make us stand out here all day?” Dagon asks. She raises an eyebrow at them both. “Come on, I want to see inside. Crowley, make your angel take us inside.”

Aziraphale doesn’t let Crowley respond. He pushes the door open wider and waves an arm at the store. “Come in,” He says tersely. “Please. Make yourself at home.”

Crowley grabs Dagon’s wrist and tugs her back from walking in. “No, sorry - I wanted to invite you to my flat. Not into the bookshop. My flat, Aziraphale.”

Aziraphale looks at him dully. “Crowley, you’re already here. Just come inside.”

Dagon tries again to walk inside. “Hey, is that - is there another angel in there?”

Crowley pulls her back and glares at her until she stands still. He turns to Aziraphale and says, “Look, I don’t want Dagon in your ne -shop. She’s a pain and I didn’t invite her so much as she invited herself along. I already don’t want Michael in there, but I definitely don’t want Dagon in there.”

Dagon says, “I’m ignoring your rudeness because are you saying that Michael the archangel is just. Hanging out in there?”

“We do appear to be collecting nuisances, recently,” Aziraphale says pointedly.

“Okay, I have to go inside now. I’m not missing this.”

“You’re not going in there!” Crowley says loudly. “No one’s going in the bookshop! Aziraphale is coming over to my flat and you can fuck off to somewhere else!”

Something flashes across Aziraphale’s face. He asks, demandingly, “What’s wrong with the bookshop?”

Crowley freezes.

“Well?”

“Nothing! I just - “

“You’re bored,” Aziraphale says despairingly. “Of course you don’t want to come in. I’m boring, apparently.”

Crowley stares at him, bewildered. “What? Who said that? Aziraphale, I don’t think - “

“Oh, you don’t have to lie. Michael’s made it quite clear that I’m duller than Tolkien.” Aziraphale’s exhaustion becomes even plainer, and Crowley lurches forward. Not quickly enough to get to him before Aziraphale’s starting to shut the door. “My divine revelation is unimpressive, my bookshop boring, and even your new friend thinks I’m drab.”

“No no no, angel, wait - “ Crowley frantically scrambles at the door, trying to keep it from shutting.

“I think I’m rather poor company right now. I’d appreciate it if you came back later.” With that, Aziraphale ruthlessly slams the door shut and ignores Crowley’s yelp at nearly getting his fingers chopped off.

Crowley stares at the closed door - then he stares at the “Closed” sign that bolds and underlines itself before his eyes.

“What just happened?”

Behind him, Dagon is laughing so hard that she’s wheezing. Her arms are wrapped around her middle and she’s doubled over, hysterical with her mirth.

“He’s adorable,” She chokes out. “Crowley - Crowley, fuck, I haven’t had that much fun in ages - P-please! Please, if you don’t put a ring on him, I swear to Satan I will, that was hilarious!”

“Shut up,” He says tonelessly. “You certainly didn’t help the situation.”

“Can you blame me? He’s a riot!”

“He’s upset!”

She wheezes louder.

Crowley runs a hand through his hair. “Why is he all - why would Michael call him boring? Why would he be that upset over it? He’s never been bothered by it before.”

Dagon is no help, obviously. The hilarity she’s found in the situation will make her useless for at least another hour or so.

Here, Crowley has a few options. He can force his way into the bookshop and demand to know what Aziraphale is upset over, then drag Aziraphale to his flat to see the nest. He could wait a few days for Aziraphale to recover and try again. He could discorporate Dagon and go for another sulk in the Bentley.

None of them feel right. Crowley stares at the door. He glances up at the “A.Z. Fell & Co.” sign. He takes a long, long look at the “Closed” sign.

“This makes more sense anyway,” He concludes out loud. “Spent the better part of this century here. It’s his nest. It’ll work better.”

“What’re you muttering about over there?”

“Dagon, c’mon. Change of plans.”

Dagon’s eyes light up. “We’re not done? This trainwreck is still chugging along?”

Crowley half-smiles, half-grimaces. “You bet it is. Let’s go, you’re helping me fix this.”

“This day keeps getting better and better.”

 

Another way that angels and demons and birds differ - birds usually are not overly attached to their nests. As long as their structure provides adequate shelter and warmth for their eggs, birds are content. If something happens to their creation, they try to fix it. If they can’t, they move elsewhere and make a new one. If they have to migrate, they don’t do anything so foolish as pack their home up and put it somewhere else.

That’s more of a turtle’s gig - or a snail’s, or a hermit crab’s.

Crowley is not a bird. Crowley is a demon, and he’s an inventive, resourceful one at that. He has no eggs to protect [5], and despite this being a nest made for Aziraphale, he finds that he’s grown fond of it himself.

“Oi, careful!” He snaps at Dagon, shooing her away from the car. “You can carry the blankets - they’re in the bags in the back. You’ll mess up the frame if you try to tug it like that, and I spent far, far too long on that cup holder for you to go mucking it up.”

Dagon snaps back, “Fuck’s sake, if I knew you were going to be a bridezilla over this I would’ve told you to shove it. It’s wood, it’s not going to just - “

“I’ll deal with it! Just leave it - you’re useless, no wonder they put you in charge of paperwork - “

“I will shove some of that paperwork so far up your ass even your angel won’t be able to find it I swear to someone - “

Eventually, they have the Bentley unpacked. Crowley has draped the frame over his shoulders and is on his tip-toes so it doesn’t drag against the ground. He has most of the pillows stuffed under his arms - only a judicious amount of magic has kept him from dropping any.

Dagon’s arms are weighed down with canvas bags filled to the brim with blankets and sheets and all of the soft fabrics Crowley went to so much trouble to find. Her face speaks of longsuffering irritation.

Crowley, though - He’s determined, and his expression shows it. Paradoxically, Aziraphale’s earlier distress soothed his own, and now he’s a man-shaped being on a mission.

For the third - and hopefully final time - he knocks on a door with a “Closed” sign.

“We’re CLOSED.”

Crowley takes a deep breath and lets it out. He says, “Yes, I see that, but Aziraphale - this is important. Please let me in?”

“Crowley - “

“Please?” He repeats. It’s more of a plea than he would normally allow.

A moment of silence, during which Dagon quietly grumbles about her arms getting tired. Crowley kicks and shushes her roughly.

Slowly, the door opens. Aziraphale peeks out, somehow looking more disheveled than before. His hair is sticking almost entirely straight up - he’s rolled his sleeves up, of all things.

Crowley swallows and smiles weakly at him.

Aziraphale eyes both of them and their cargo. He suspiciously asks, “What are you up to?”

“Nothing! Well,” He corrects immediately. “Nothing nefarious. This is all above the table. I’m practically a do-gooder now, you know.”

Dagon says, “He’s been completely unbearable. Please let him in.”

“It’s something you’ll like!” Crowley assures Aziraphale, hiking the frame higher up on his shoulders. “I think, at least.

“You think?”

“You probably won’t hate it.”

Aziraphale sighs, but it’s fond. Crowley perks up almost immediately. “You’re as wily a temptation as ever.”

Crowley waggles his eyebrows and is rewarded with another, fonder sigh. Aziraphale pushes the door fully open and steps back to let them both in.

The bookshop appears to be as out-of-sorts as its owner. Papers have been strewn everywhere, books are lying on their sides, and in the middle of the room an archangel is lying spread-eagle on the floor.

Michael looks about the same as the last time Crowley saw her, other than the all-encompassing aura of dismay and depression hovering over her. Her hair is fanned out behind her head, and she looks as if she just completed a forlorn sigh moments before. As they walk further, her head lolls to the side to look at them.

Crowley carefully places the frame down in a place without too much detritus, then walks over to her. Peering down over the top of his glasses, he says, “You look pathetic. Go outside.”

“It’s all worthless,” She says despondently. “Everything. Aziraphale didn’t receive divine revelation - he’s just. Nobody. A dull, boring nobody who doesn’t do anything special. Which means I’m nobody, too. Dull, boring, nothing - Why go outside? It’s not going to be better out there.”

“Yeesh,” Crowley says. He nudges her with his foot. “Oh fearsome Michael - what the fuck?”

Aziraphale, busy with shutting the door behind him and Dagon, says exasperatedly, “She’s been like that for days now. Just leave her.”

Dagon, in the middle of dropping her share of the cargo a few feet away from Michael, starts snickering. She manages to choke out, “Fuck’s sake, Earth is incredible. Where else would you see an archangel pretending to be a rug?

Crowley almost agrees. He instead says, “That’s sad. How the mighty have fallen.” he nudges her again and sneers when she halfheartedly at his foot. “C’mon, this is pathetic. Get up.”

“Don’t you get it, worm?” Her eyes slowly drag back until they’re on his face. “There’s nothing special here. It’s just a boring shop with a boring principality. God isn’t going to speak to me here.”

He nudges her harder. “Stop being a prick. Aziraphale’s leagues more interesting than you are, considering he’s not the one moping like a child.”

“He’s - “

“Besides which,” Crowley says breezily. “I don’t really care if you want to or not, I’m telling you to get out. I need to talk to Aziraphale alone.”

“Why should I? You’re nobody too.”

Crowley pauses. Glances at Dagon, whose face is still delighted. Puts his hands on his hips, cocks his head to the side, and slowly grins. He turns back to Michael and says smugly, “Maybe, but I’m a nobody who can tell you how Aziraphale knew God’s plan.”

Aziraphale makes some strange kind of noise, but Michael doesn’t notice; She immediately sits up straight and scrambles to her feet. “Excuse me?”

“No, not my style. But I’ll tell you if you promise to get the Hell out of here A-S-A-P.”

Michael, hair tousled and face pink with the floor’s imprint, nods furiously.

Crowley grabs her shoulders and, ignoring her startled expression, shoves her in Dagon’s direction. He gets a brief glimpse of Dagon’s shock before Michael collides into her and they go tumbling to the floor. He cheerily says, “Say hi to your new best friend - This is Dagon. A demon who’s also curious about humans and Earth and all that fun stuff.”

“What - “

“Fuck, ow - “

“See, Aziraphale and I did the things we did because we did things together.” Crowley smiles at them mischievously. “We figured it out in, oh, six millennia? Let’s see if you can beat our record.”

“Oi, Crowley!” Dagon yells, dodging Michael’s flailing elbow. “What the fuck is th - “

“You can’t POSSIBLY be saying that - “

“Sorry, five minutes of advice is all you get for free.” Crowley snaps his fingers and a convenient, strong breeze runs through the shop to toss them out the now-open door to the curb. He walks forward, gives the bewildered and dazed couple a small wave, and slams the door shut.

He bolds and underlines the “Closed” sign just to be sure the message got across. He claps his hands together and says, “So, Aziraphale - “

“You got her out!” Aziraphale rushes forward and takes Crowley’s hands in his own, squeezing them tightly. “Crowley, she was driving me up a wall! She was rude and mean - mean! An angel, being so mean, well, it just doesn’t speak very well for our kind.”

Crowley, enamored as always with the way Aziraphale stares at him adoringly when Crowley has managed a spectacular feat, doesn’t point out that most angels are kind of assholes. He just says, “Yeah, she seemed like a real piece of work. What was all that about anyway? You were pretty upset earlier.”

Aziraphale sighs, dropping Crowley’s hands after one last squeeze. He places his hands on his hips and shrugs helplessly. “It appears that the way I live just wasn’t exciting enough for her. I think she was hoping for a less subtle show of God’s hand.”

 

Michael showed up on a Tuesday morning - dreadful days, Tuesdays are. Nothing good happens on Tuesdays. This Tuesday was shaping up to be no different - the weather was humid but cold, cloudy and dreary but not raining just yet, and if Aziraphale had been human, he would’ve wondered if he was coming down with a cold.

She walked into the store without ado - hair tightly bound, suit pristine, heels clacking against the floor. She hadn’t bothered glancing around the shop or pretending at any kind of humanity. She walked in and immediately beelined to Aziraphale in the back room.

Aziraphale, in turn, shrieked when she suddenly appeared beside him.

“Oh! I’m so sorry,” She had said, backing up quickly. “Aziraphale, are you alright?”

He pressed a hand against his chest and said squeakily, “Yes, of course. Just fine. Um. Michael. Hello.”

Michael’s face broke out into the brightest smile he had ever seen her give. He barely registered her, “Hello, Aziraphale,” in the face of such joy.

The back room - once a storage room, now more or less a parlor - felt too small for both of them in that moment. Aziraphale cleared his throat and took a step back. “What brings you here? I wasn’t expecting you - company. I wasn’t expecting company.”

What followed was a show of fanaticism that Aziraphale had never anticipated being directed at him. He had never anticipated it, nor had he wanted it.

Michael said, “Aziraphale - Aziraphale, you’re here alive by the grace of our Mother, the Creator. Because you, before anyone else, knew what was right. You knew that God wouldn’t want us to exterminate the chattel down here for once reason or another - “

Aziraphale mouthed, “Chattel?” bewilderedly, but she continued with no notice to his upset.

“Would you be so kind as to - to tutor me?” She asked, voice strangely warbling. “I want to understand how you knew that our Mother would never want to end the creatures down here. Your unique insight into our Mother’s inner workings, and the revelations you’ve received - I would like to open myself to the possibility of understanding even the tiniest sliver of Her plan.”

Because he had no idea what else to say, Aziraphale said, “Hm!” in quite a bewildered, wondering tone.

Michael’s face twisted into a strange sort of despair. “Please - I know we run in different circles, so to speak, and I’ve given you no reason to believe my sincerity. But I feel like this is where I’m meant to be - something within me is saying that you have answers to the questions I’ve always had.”

Aziraphale said, “Hm!” again, and he spun around to pretend to tidy up his coffee table. “Hm. Well, I’m afraid I don’t have a - guidebook, or a series of directions - there’s not exactly one reason why God would want the humans’ existence to continue.”

“I’ll stay as long as you need to get the lesson across,” She says desperately. “I’ll - I’ll move in. I’ll stay here, I’ll live here, I’ll follow your every step - Whatever needs to be done.”

Anyone who knew Aziraphale would know that this would, in fact, be a specially-personalized brand of torture to offer. His space has been precious to him - his time, as well, is dear. Sharing it with anyone who isn’t Crowley - and even sometimes with Crowley, who is his best friend but can be awfully tiring - is by far his least favorite activity in the world.

Aziraphale wanted to say, “Michael, I don’t have any special, divine knowledge.”

He wanted to say, “I didn’t do this for God - I stood up for humanity for completely selfish reasons, and most of the time, I feared that She wouldn’t approve.”

He instead said, “Well, certainly it won’t take quite that long. You’re welcome to shadow me and I’ll do my best to teach, but you certainly understand that it’s up to God Herself if you receive revelation yourself.”

Michael nodded furiously. “Of course. Of course!”

“And you’ll have to change out of that into something that will fit into humanity more. You look dreadfully uncomfortable. Pick something - well, something you’d like, of course, but not what you’re wearing now. It’s completely unsuitable.”

Michael snapped her fingers and her suit morphed into a casual, softer look. She said, sincerely, “You won’t regret this, Aziraphale.”

Aziraphale already regretted it, but there was no way for Michael to know that. She was a soldier through and through, and social cues and “reading the room” have never been skills of hers.

 

“It made sense at the time,” Aziraphale says weakly to Crowley, who’s shaking his head. “I thought if Michael somehow cultivated - I don’t know, some sort of appreciation for humanity, or respect for me, or something - maybe Heaven would be more inclined to leave us alone in the future. Maybe you’d be safer.”

“No, I get it, I just - “ Crowley shakes his head more and sighs. “What a pain.”

“So after that, I did what I could. I tried to show her what I love about Earth - the restaurants we’ve gone to, the park and the ducks - all of it.” He sighs back. “She kept asking, ‘Yes, all of this was in our surveillance, but what else? What about what we didn’t catch?’”

“What’d you say to that?”

Aziraphale shrugs helplessly. “I couldn’t exactly tell her that what they didn’t catch was just. Us. She wasn’t exactly impressed with you, from what I could tell.”

Crowley mutters, “Yeah, well, feeling was mutual.”

“In the end, it just wasn’t convincing to her. When you and - “ Aziraphale’s face twitches strangely. “Dagon. I was - well, on one side I have Michael calling me dull and boring, then on the other side you show up with - with her. And then she calls me boring!”

“You’re not boring, though. Dagon was just trying to rile you up - you know I have fun with you!”

“Oh, I know I’m not much. I like my comforts - “

“There’s nothing wrong with that!”

“And,” Aziraphale continues, ignoring his continued spluttering. “You two showed up right when she was throwing a fit and trying to destroy the shop, so I wasn’t exactly in the best of moods in the first place.”

Crowley straightens. “She didn’t,” He hisses.

“Oh yes,” Aziraphale says. “She did. She was tearing books out of shelves, throwing everything everywhere, and she was quite upset that none of it goaded me nor God into giving her whatever magical response she was looking for.”

“I should kill her.”

“Well,” Aziraphale says in a tone which says more than his actual words. “That won’t do much good now. I just started cleaning up when you showed up again, and I was trying to figure out how to get her to leave. Which you did, without even trying!” That adoring look is back, and he presses a hand against Crowley’s forearm softly. “My dear, however can I thank you?”

Crowley involuntarily lights up. He points at the wooden frame and says pleadingly, “Let me show you what I made you?”

Aziraphale nods eagerly. “Of course. Should I get some tea? Some wine?”

“No, no. Just. Sit. Watch.”

Now, in some birds, making a nest can be a declaration of intent. A wooing, of sorts. It can be a way of saying, “Look at how competent I am - look at how strong. Aren’t you mad with desire for me? Let’s have eggs together.”

Though Crowley is not a bird and he has no desire for making eggs of any sort[6], this was his idea of a courtship, and he’s relieved that Aziraphale is watching him assemble the structure for the second time - his first time making everything was much less impressive. Creating the nest is easier when the hard decisions and the hard work have already been completed. He just has to pull it altogether while Aziraphale watches.

The frame is laid down and immediately covered with the base layer of pillows and blankets. He carefully fluffs them up just enough, steps back, and tries to figure out if its lopsided while pretending Aziraphale isn’t watching his every move. He shifts it to the right just slightly, and he moves onto the second layer.

This one has slightly thinner blankets - softer cottons, a few jersey sheets in case it gets too warm - and the homemade pillows. Those he places carefully around the perimeter of the frame, making sure they’re in the exact places they should be. Alternating blacks and steel-grays and creams and coffee-browns - somewhere around the third repetition of the pattern, Aziraphale gasps softly. He gasps again when Crowley tucks a few shirts behind the pillows - for that personal touch, Crowley was prepared to argue.

Crowley continues making sure everything is perfectly in place, that the shirts don’t poke out too obviously and the pillows are perfectly fluffed, so it doesn’t register fully when Aziraphale stands up and hurries out of the room.

He’s occupied with carefully folding down the edges of the top layer of blankets when Aziraphale returns and crouches down next to him.

Crowley finishes his task before looking. He, against his will, feels a besotted grin stretch across his face.

Aziraphale’s arms are full of what appears to be miscellaneous objects. A throw, a jacket, a potted plant, two books, and a few candles - if Crowley’s not mistaken, he’s got a bottle of wine tucked up under his arm as well.

Crowley moves so Aziraphale can place the plant on the floor next to the side with the cup holder. He watches the jacket get tucked next to Crowley’s shirts - the throw is spread out on top of what Crowley has already laid out. Aziraphale carefully perches the books on one of the corners - as Crowley suspected, a corner is the best place for a book.

He’s obscenely relieved when he sees that the candles aren’t candles as such - they’re tiny little electric tealights. No flame required. Aziraphale smiles softly at Crowley’s questioning look but doesn’t elaborate [7]. Instead, he places the lights at perfectly spaced intervals around the frame’s perimeter, flicking them on as he goes.

Crowley, without looking away, snaps his fingers and the bookshop’s lights, already dim [8], turn off completely. The tealights provide the only light, and everything suddenly feels softer. A little more vulnerable.

Aziraphale says, “You made me a nest.”

Crowley swallows. Nods once. “Yep. Sure did.”

“I didn’t even know anyone still did that.”

“Might be a little old-fashioned,” Crowley admits. “You started it, though.”

“Me?”

He waves a hand around them. “The whole - the shop. You made it home. And then you had Michael getting her archangel stink all around it, and I thought you were sharing it with her instead.”

Aziraphale blinks. “You thought - ?”

“You locked me out!” Crowley says defensively. “I’ve never had to knock before, and I thought - Well, she looked awfully cozy, ‘s all.” He pointedly doesn’t pout, but his lower lip sticks out just a smidge. “Can you blame me?”

Aziraphale reaches out and pulls Crowley’s face closer, cupping his chin with the same hand. He brings the other one up to run through Crowley’s hair just once - his hand then rests against the back of Crowley’s skull and holds him in place. He says, fondly, “You silly, silly snake.”

Crowley feels rather silly. Giddy, too. He smiles and says, “Yep. That’s me. Your silly, silly snake.”

Aziraphale leans forward just enough to press the softest kiss to his brow. Crowley’s heart thuds against his chest, a vicious thumping that demands to be felt.

He feels it, alright.

Aziraphale pulls back and says, coyly, “It’d be a shame to let all your work go to waste. Should we…?” He tilts his head in the direction of the nest.

Crowley says, “Should say ‘our’ work. You helped some in the end.” He holds out a hand to Aziraphale, who takes it and uses it to step over the ledge and enter the nest. In return, he tugs on Crowley’s hand to urge him in, and Crowley wouldn’t be able to resist even if he wanted to.[9] He miracles their shoes away, loosens his own tie, and flops across the center, dragging Aziraphale down with him.

Aziraphale squawks loudly on his way down. Crowley is laughing by the time the two of them are situated and lying side-by-side, facing each other. For a moment, their labored breathing is the only sound.

Crowley reaches behind him to spread the tartan-patterned throw over them, and he raises an eyebrow. “You couldn’t resist, could you? Sometimes I feel like this is your way of trying to stamp, ‘Property of A.Z. Fell’ on everything.”

Aziraphale doesn’t say anything, but his eyes dart aside. The lighting makes it hard to tell, but Crowley thinks he’s blushing.

His eyes widen in response. “No - All this time?”

“I wouldn’t put it as crudely as you did,” Aziraphale says crossly. “But. I thought it would be helpful if, in the event of some sort of catastrophic occurrence, that others would know you were allied with - “

“All this time you were saying, ‘Do Not Touch - Property of Aziraphale’ - The thermos. The biscuit tin in the Bentley. My collar - you had changed my collar when we switched places!” Crowley scrubs a hand over his face. “I can’t believe you sometimes, you know that? The entire time you were saying, ‘We’re not friends, no, of course not - that’s us, mortal enemies!’ - You were trying to protect me.”

Aziraphale starts pulling at one of the blankets - a knit grey one, the perfect amount of weight and heft for early fall. He tugs it over the two of them and still won’t meet Crowley’s eyes. “I’ve always just wanted you to be safe. I didn’t always make the best decisions, and I know I’ve hurt you, but, well. I did my best. I did what I could.”

“Aziraphale - “

“Take off your glasses?” Aziraphale pleads suddenly. He looks up finally, and Crowley is startled by the sheen of tears there. He’s startled enough that he acquiesces before fully comprehending the request.

His sunglasses are tossed unceremoniously over the edge, and the sound of them skittering across the floor is loud between them.

Tucked close together and without the dark lenses obscuring his view, Aziraphale’s eyes are really something. There aren’t any like his, anywhere. Not on Heaven or Earth - nowhere at all. The exact shade, the depth behind them, the spark of something-a-little-extra, all of it combines to make something perfectly unique in a universe that thrives on patterns and repetition.

Those eyes are teary, now, as Aziraphale quietly says, “I never felt seen until I saw your eyes in Eden, you know. The angels, Adam and Eve, God - they never saw me. They saw a soldier, or an angel, or - or they didn’t see anything at all.

“You, though. I still don’t know what you see when you look at me, but I know I’d do anything to protect you for that - for what you’ve given me over the years. For infinite other reasons.”

Crowley says brokenly, “Aziraphale, please - “

“You made me a nest,” Aziraphale repeats, equally broken. “You must know - Crowley, you must know - that I would suffer a million Michaels, tolerate a million Dagons, anything at all - I would endure anything to keep this. To keep you.”

Crowley tries desperately not to sob as he grabs Aziraphale by the back of his neck and shoves him, pressing their foreheads together roughly. He says, harshly, “You stupid bastard, I’ve always been here - I’ve always been yours. How much louder do I have to say it? For fuck’s sake, I made you a nest.”

“You made us a nest,” Aziraphale agrees. He wraps his arms around Crowley and somehow manages to squeeze them closer together. “It’s lovely. You’re lovely.”

Crowley closes his eyes and leans into the embrace. It’s warm, being under the covers with Aziraphale. “Yeah. You too.”

Aziraphale opens his mouth, then abruptly yawns right into Crowley’s face. Crowley blinks, a little startled, and Aziraphale says, “Goodness, sorry - I think I’m rather worn out. It’s been a long week.”

“Oh no,” Crowley says dryly. “Whatever should we do. We’re in a nest and you’re tired.”

“I don’t normally sleep, it seems improper to just… doze off and ignore you after this. Or, at the least, it’s not very exciting.”

“Aziraphale,” He says sincerely. “There is nothing I want to do more than take a nap with you, in this nest, right now. This has been an exhausting ordeal, and resting is literally the main purpose of a nest.”

Aziraphale relaxes back into a pile of pillows and says, “Oh, and I’m certain that resting was the only thing you had in mind when putting this together.”

Crowley’s eyebrows crawl upwards. “Bold, angel,” He says admiringly. “Bold. You’re making my heart flutter.”

Aziraphale gives a small, satisfied smile. Crowley, in return, grabs Aziraphale’s hand. Their fingers curl around each other - in the next moment, by unspoken agreement, they both unfurl their wings and drape them across each other. It’s a mishmash of bones and feathers and down and muttered complaints while they get sorted.

Eventually, Crowley’s end up closest to their bodies while Aziraphale’s lie over top. From the outside, it must look like a fluffy shield. Or like a large black and white bird has decided to curl up for a bit of a lie-in.

They’re not birds, of course. They’re a demon and an angel in a nest made by a demon and approved of by an angel. Even so, after a few more grumbles and soft looks are exchanged, they fall asleep like that - facing each other, cuddled underneath soft blankets and a plethora of feathers, with their hands intertwined in between.

Later, they’ll wake up and lounge. They’ll split that bottle of wine - Aziraphale will find the cup holder and gasp in delight. Crowley will be as proud as a peacock when Aziraphale’s mug fits just right, just as planned. They’ll talk about all of those scary topics they’ve been putting off - what are they to each other, what really happened over the years when they weren’t speaking, what are they going to do next - and they’ll talk about fun ones too.[10]

They might kiss. They’ll definitely share some snacks once Aziraphale finds the cubby full of biscuits.

For now, Aziraphale and Crowley fall asleep, cuddled together under a tartan throw and looking more like love birds than any sort of celestial beings.

 

 

 

Footnotes:

1They do have ears. Crowley learned that shortly after the apocalypse didn’t happen. They’re just little holes, but ducks definitely do have ears. [return to text]

2Her pushing him to Fall a little bit faster not withstanding, considering that wasn’t exactly a helpful intervention. [return to text]

3Seatbelts normally aren’t found in cars like Crowley’s, but Aziraphale had insisted once they became widely accepted as a valid safety measure to take. [return to text]

4Jesus was wicked with a hammer - don’t hear as much about that in the Bible as was deserved, in Crowley’s opinion. He wasn’t as good of a carpentry teacher as he was at spreading word of God and all, but he taught Crowley enough to be a passable DIY-er. [return to text]

5I’m afraid this isn’t that kind of story. [return to text]

6This really isn’t that kind of story. [return to text]

7Aziraphale would be a very unintelligent angel indeed if he hadn’t noticed Crowley’s skittishness regarding fire after the bookshop burnt down. He doesn’t have to speculate as to the many, many reasons why fire in all its forms would be a stressor to his poor demon. Besides, the electric candles work just as well.[return to text]

8This is an attempt to make the shop as unwelcoming to customers as possible - the lights are bright enough that Aziraphale can read without requiring an extra lamp, but they are also just dim enough that people are uncertain if the shop is actually open or not. [return to text]

9He most assuredly did not want to resist. This cannot be stressed enough. [return to text]

10One of those will be discussing what they think Michael and Dagon got up to after being kicked out of the shop. Neither of them guess correctly - the two women-shaped beings went for a walk, petted some stray cats, and bought ice cream. They then made plans to meet up next Friday to try to figure out the whole “Internet” thing - Dagon had heard promising things about “Tick Tock.” [return to text]