The hull of the ark is dark, and musty with the smell of straw and animal, and the only light they have to see by is the lantern between them, flickering with false fire. Aziraphale’s hands are clenched in his lap, so hard the fragile bones in his corporation ache in protest, because Crawly is weeping.
Shame is a human concept, and it’s early days yet. They haven’t been on earth long enough to have learned what it is they need to hide, what it is they can and cannot feel openly. Crawly is weeping, and Aziraphale’s heart is breaking, and neither of them do anything to pretend like it’s not happening.
“Please don’t,” Aziraphale whispers, stricken. “It will be alright. The rains will stop soon, I promise.”
Crawly shakes his head, seeming to crumple into a creature only half as big, only half as strong as Aziraphale knows he is. He’s trying to be quiet, trying to avoid discovery and a subsequent dismissal off the ark and into the flood, but the soft, muffled sounds that make it out around his hands are enough to undo Aziraphale completely.
He shoves his way through the straw, bumping the lantern with his knee and knocking it over. The false fire goes out, and the darkness looms around them, and a moment later his arms have found their way around his friend.
He miracles a pocket of silence and stillness around them, so that the storm is not quite so loud, so that they can’t feel the sickening rock of the ark at all from where they’re hiding in its belly. He makes it warm, he makes it smell like his memory of the garden, and he makes use of his halo for something practical, for a change.
Crawly squints up at him, tear-stained and miserable, and Aziraphale adjusts the brightness to little more than a warm glow.
“Yes,” Crawly admits. “Can we— that is, would you—”
Aziraphale knows what it is he’s trying to ask, and manages to smile. “Oh, I’m not letting you go until you make me, my dear.”
Crawly folds against Aziraphale’s body at once, turning his face into the crook of Aziraphale’s shoulder as though he’d only been waiting for an invitation. He’s mourning those lost souls that weren’t his to save, those children that he loved so much, the little ones with their grubby hands and endless questions. They would all run to meet Crawly on the road, and he would miracle them sweets and simple clay toys, and he would carry them upside down to hear them shriek with laughter, and he would let them clamber across his shoulders and back to give their weary mothers a moment’s respite, and he would sweep his crow’s wings out like a blanket to keep them warm when they fell asleep before the evening meal.
Love is a divine concept, but Crawly wore it well. And now he’s grieving, hurting so plainly that he might come out of this with the desire never to love again, and Aziraphale doesn’t think he could bear it if Crawly lost that, too.
“I’m here,” he says, holding the demon closer. What few comforts he has to offer, he gives. “I have you. You’re not alone. You’ll never once be alone. I’m here.”
This is the first time such a promise was made between them, but certainly not the last.
Aziraphale thinks for one awful moment about what might have happened if Crawly had suffered this alone and decides then and there that it can’t be born.
It really is for the best that they stick together.
“Forgive me,” Michael says slowly. “I’m afraid I don’t understand.”
“It’s simple,” Aziraphale says, his words stumbling against one another in their haste. “If I keep the demon close by at all times, he’ll have less opportunity to tempt mankind. He’ll be firmly under my thumb.”
“Why not just kill him?” the archangel asks. Her tone suggests she has no idea why they’re having this conversation.
The cold bundle of nerves in Aziraphale’s stomach threatens to undo him, but a moment later, hidden beneath his sleeve, a coil tightens around his wrist and he remembers to breathe.
“Well, then Hell will just keep sending up new adversaries, won’t they? Adversaries with unfamiliar strengths and tactics. I’ll always be a step behind, rather than two ahead.”
A light goes on in Michael’s eyes. She looks at Aziraphale with a new appreciation. “Well thought, Principality. And you’re certain you’ll be able to keep a leash on this demon of yours?”
“Of course!” Aziraphale is near faint with relief at coming out of this conversation with victory intact. “He’ll be no trouble at all. He’s only a snake.”
Michael smiles at him, and it softens some of the hard lines of her face. Aziraphale is rather glad she seems to have forgiven him for the whole messy business back in Eden. It certainly does help that a memo went around stating the fall of mankind was a part of the Plan and therefore no great loss on their part. Aziraphale has said many a fervent prayer of thanks for that.
“Very well,” his sister says. “You have Heaven’s blessing. I hope you know what you’re doing.”
She’s gone after that, not having bothered to corporate for their meeting in the first place. Aziraphale is quick to draw back his sleeve and let Crawly up onto his shoulders instead.
“It went exactly like we practiced!” he says, delighted. “I couldn’t have done it without you here.”
“Of course you could have,” Crawly replies, hissing a bit on the sibilants in a way Aziraphale has come to adore. “You gave your sword away and lied to God about it. Talking a circle around Michael is nothing after that.”
Very pleased, Aziraphale turns to head back into the settlement they’ve been staying in. A minor miracle will keep anyone from looking too closely at his companion, until Crawly feels like resuming a human shape. His scales are cool against Aziraphale’s cheek, but they’ll warm quickly under the sun.
“I didn’t mean what I said, you know,” he thinks it important to point out. “When I said you were only a snake.”
A whistling laugh in his ear: “And when you said I’m no trouble?”
Aziraphale laughs, too. It’s delightful to be free of fear, wading through soft, waist-high wheat in the golden light of late afternoon, looking forward to the beer and pottage waiting at home, sharing all of it with someone he cares about very much.
“I didn’t mean that either,” he says affectionately. “You’re exactly as much trouble as you want to be, neither more nor less, and I wouldn’t know how to go on without you.”
“Marriage?” Crawly asks dubiously. There’s a crumb on the corner of his mouth left there from their indulgent morning meal, and Aziraphale is torn between pointing it out and smiling to himself about it a little longer. “What for?”
“Well, why not?” Aziraphale asks. “It appears the clans are breaking down now into single family households. Something to do with securing an heir. Within a few centuries, I think the husband and wife unit will be all the rage.”
Crawly doesn’t look convinced. “Seems a little foolish. Tasks are better distributed in a bigger group, and the kids are happier with so many grown-ups to mind them. Lord knows Eve had her work cut out for her, living in the middle of nowhere with those brats and Adam, of all people.”
“Seth loved you,” Aziraphale chides him. Though he wouldn’t have wished Cain on anyone, he has the sense to keep that much to himself. “And whether or not it’s for the best, humans will do as they see fit. We can only follow along.”
“I sss’pose.” Crawly winces, self-conscious, and minds his enunciation when he goes on, “How does one go about marriage, anyway?”
“I believe it’s just a matter of stating our intentions in front of witnesses,” Aziraphale says. He brightens, leaning forward. “I watched it happen just the other day! Sweet Kushim and that girl he fancies were able to strike a deal with her father that satisfied everyone. They’re so happy, you wouldn’t believe it. I’ve seen some of these unions go miserably. It’s a business transaction, certainly, but one should consider their child’s happiness first and foremost.”
A knowing smile creeps across Crawly’s face. “Kushim the shepherd? How on earth did he manage that? Tia’s father is an absolute ass.”
“Well.” Aziraphale busies himself with stacking their dishes, but he can feel himself turning pink. “They’re lovely people, you know, perfectly deserving of a little good luck. It was the smallest miracle, really. Tiamat’s father will be happy that Tiamat is happy.”
“He just won’t know why,” Crawly points out. His smile is wide and impish now. “How wily of you, angel. I’m impressed.”
“Oh, hush.” Aziraphale leans forward to thumb the crumb away from the demon’s mouth after all. It gives him only the slightest upper hand in this conversation, Crawly scowling and squirming out of his reach, but he’ll take it. “If we’re to be married, I’ll have to bring you gifts. You won’t be terribly averse to it if I poured perfume over your head during the ceremony? It seems to be the done thing.”
“If you’ll let me smell it first.” That makes sense, Aziraphale thinks; Crawly’s sense of smell is remarkable, to make up for the lacking in his sight and hearing, and an oil he didn’t agree with would likely give him a headache. The demon squints at him suspiciously. “Sounds like a lot of trouble to go through, just so we can go on living together as we already are.”
“Maybe if I had to barter with Tiamat’s father for you, it would be,” Aziraphale teases. “But as it’s simply an arrangement between the two of us, I’m willing to put in the work.”
Crawly makes a face, nose scrunching in a manner that Aziraphale refuses to tell him is charming in an urchin sort of way, but then he waves his hand and a plate of qullupu appears on the table. Aziraphale’s delighted noise at the sight of them is entirely involuntary.
“My favorite! Thank you, dear.”
Crawly rests his chin in his hands, watching Aziraphale select one of the round date cookies with warm yellow eyes.
“Figure the gift-giving can go both ways,” he says. His mouth is not quite smiling, but there’s smile enough in the tone of his voice. “We’re not exactly the traditional type.”
Even with Heaven having agreed to leave Aziraphale to his own experimental devices, Crawly does still get the intermittent missive from Hell. Usually they come in the form of a letter, but on occasion it is hand-delivered, and those occasions tend to be grim.
This one is no exception. The flare of demonic energy nearby that interrupted their dinner had Crawly springing from his seat mid-drink. Aziraphale doesn’t appreciate being shoved into what amounts to a kitchen closet with very little warning, but he understands Crawly’s almost feverish concern and resigns himself to his hiding place.
Even if every inch of him strains to rush back to Crawly’s side.
“There you are, Crawly,” comes the nasty voice of Duke Hastur. He says Crawly’s name like some kind of defamation. “Looking right at home, slinking about like someone’s pet. Has your master gone to the market?”
“Good to see you, too, Hastur,” Aziraphale’s friend replies, in a tone that would be glib if it wasn’t so tense.
“Don’t think we don’t know what you’re up to,” the duke sneers. “Playing house with an angel. He’s even collared you.”
I would never, Aziraphale thinks, affronted. Crawly seems to resettle his weight, probably shifting from foot to foot or folding his arms, giving himself a moment to come up with something. His mannerisms are so familiar to Aziraphale that he can picture it clearly, even from the other side of a closed door.
“Honestly, Hastur, you’d think you’d never heard of a long game before,” the serpent says in a long-suffering way. “I’ve got an angel right where I want him. Tempting him into little sins and vices, more and more every day. Who in Hell can say they’ve done what I’ve done?”
There’s a long silence that hangs still and heavy in their warm kitchen.
Reluctantly, Hastur concedes, “S’pose there is that. What are your plans with him?”
“It might be interesting to have a man on the inside,” Crawly says, a sullen drawl. “Like I said: long game. We’ll have to see where it goes.”
The duke sounds much more enthusiastic after that, and leaves with a few more rotten words. Aziraphale pushes open the closet door when he’s sure Hastur is gone, to be met with Crawly’s guilty eyes.
“I was lying,” he blurts.
“Of course you were,” Aziraphale replies, waving it away. “The worst you’ve ever tempted me into was more wine when I was already three sheets to the wind, and only so you could goad me into a heavenly chorus.”
Crawly has the decency to look ashamed of himself for that, even as remembered amusement crooks the corner of his mouth.
“But I must ask, what’s this he meant about a collar?”
The demon lifts his hand, and Aziraphale doesn’t understand for a moment. And then his eyes light upon the ring on Crawly’s finger, and he gapes.
“It’s Hastur,” Crawly says. He touches the ring gently, the way he sometimes will do when he thinks he’s not being watched. “He only leaves Hell when he has to. What does he know about marriage?”
Aziraphale frames the side of his friend’s face in one hand, searching for any hint of unhappiness. “You’d tell me if you didn’t want to wear it?”
“I tell you all the time when I don’t want to do something,” Crawly says plainly. It’s true enough, and Aziraphale’s worry relents. Crawly’s eyes dip away, though, and something crosses his expression that makes the worry spring back. A moment later, he admits, “I hate how they say my name.”
“Maybe I ought to change it? Only I wouldn’t know what I’d change it to.”
Aziraphale glances over Crawly’s shoulder at where his magnificent midnight-black wings are folded in the ether.
“Well,” he says, thinking of those ridiculous, charming birds that frequent the footpath and never seem to run out of things to squawk about. “I’ve an idea, if you’d like to hear it.”
The concept of marriage changes over time, and every seventy years or so they go through the process all over again. The church gets involved in the twelfth century, going so far as to make it a sacrament, which certainly sours things for Crowley.
“It’s still the same as it was before,” Aziraphale begs his case in front of steely yellow eyes. “A partnership, that’s all it is, for the sake of convenience. Our arrangement is the same as it’s always been, no matter what silly rites humans bring into it. Remember the first time, when I poured perfume on your head and it got in your eyes? Tiamat laughed herself silly at all the ruckus you made.”
It coaxes a reluctant smile out of the demon. Truly, it’s been more than three thousand years. Aziraphale thinks it would be strange not to be married to him at this point.
“I’m not saying my vows in a church,” Crowley says, as ungraciously as he can manage.
Aziraphale beams at him, reaching out to hold his hands. The gold band on Crowley’s finger is the same as it was all those years ago, when the Romans had the brilliant idea to engrave inscriptions on them and Aziraphale simply had to get one for his dear friend.
Eden, it read; though he rarely got to see it, as Crowley rarely took it off.
“A garden ceremony,” Aziraphale proposes. “Oh, we haven’t done that in ages. How wonderful.”
“I think you must have a weakness for wedding parties,” Crowley says. “It’s the only thing that makes sense. How many will this make? Fifty-three?”
“Fifty-four,” Aziraphale corrects, but only because he secretly includes that time in the ark. Before Crowley can furrow his brow and start counting back, he adds quickly, “I’ll talk to a priest today. Thank you for indulging me, Crowley.”
The demon shrugs, a little uncomfortable with thanks or praise. It’s a recent development, and Aziraphale can’t say it’s one he’s pleased with, but he’ll keep heaping thanks and praise upon Crowley the way he’s always done, and hopefully it will all work itself out.
“Not like it’s a hardship,” Crowley mutters, “marrying you.”
That year, they marry in a field that bursts into a riot of color for the occasion. Crowley side-eyes the flowers in a vaguely threatening fashion during the ceremony, and Aziraphale is actually glad he has plants to terrorize for a change, since he’s distracted from side-eyeing the priest in a similar manner.
To be fair, Aziraphale is distracted, too. Crowley is a startling beauty on their wedding day, his long hair plaited with ribbons, his gown a deep jewel red, his yellow eyes putting the blooming jonquils around them all to shame.
My husband, Aziraphale thinks, and it surprises him.
The thought isn’t new; the wanting behind it is.
In 1801, they get into an awful row. It’s the worst fight they’ve ever had, blowing up from a small request into a shouting match that rattles the windows of their brand new shop.
“I’m not having this conversation with you,” Aziraphale says sharply, slamming a first edition Shakespeare onto the counter with far less care than it deserves. He strides away into his office with half a mind to close the door loudly in his wake, but Crowley is only two steps behind him.
“Oh, so you decide what we converse about, is that it?” the demon snarls. “I ask you for one blessed thing—”
“Yes! A very blessed thing!” Aziraphale doesn’t look back at him, doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction of seeing Aziraphale’s mouth tremble. “Holy water— of all the—”
“If you’d just listen to me instead of jumping to conclusions, I’d tell you what I want it for!”
“What other conclusion is there? It’s a— a suicide pill, a means of absolute destruction,” Aziraphale spits, wishing it were anger and not soul-deep fear causing the sharp edge in his voice. “I simply will not allow it.”
“‘Allow it.’” Crowley hisses it back at him with vitriol. “Get with the century, angel. I’m your partner, not a bride you bought or bartered for.”
Unthinking, ragged with panic and hurt and wanting an end to this, Aziraphale snaps, “I have bartered for you, actually, and with an archangel. If there was ever a bride price, I must have paid it a hundred times over by now.”
The ringing silence that follows is such a stark change from the heated argument they’ve been having that it’s almost startling.
Then Crowley says, “Fuck you.”
He works the gold band off his finger, pitches it as hard as he can into the distant stacks, and with a slam of the front door that breaks one of its windows, he’s gone.
Aziraphale sits at his desk for what feels like a long time, stunned by the abrupt departure, the concise severing of ties, the hurtful words he can still taste in his own mouth. And after a little while, when he comes back to himself, he puts his face in his hands and does his level best not to cry.
Holy water. What need could he possibly have for holy water?
He tried to tell me, Aziraphale thinks, sick with guilt and dread. I didn’t listen. Crowley rarely acts without reason. I should have listened. Even if I didn’t agree with it in the end.
Some time apart might be for the best.
The first thing he does is hunt down the wedding band. It’s saturated in Crowley’s aura, which makes it as easy to pick out as a daffodil in a field of daisies, and he kneels to recover it with reverent fingers.
Eden, it reads, same as it’s always done. A reminder, and a promise.
Crowley has kept it in perfect condition over the millennia, either with a single sustained miracle or countless little ones, and Aziraphale slips it into the pocket of his waistcoat with unending care.
For the rest of the day, his hand keeps drifting to that pocket to feel for the reassuring shape of the ring there.
For the rest of the day, he waits to hear the bell above the door.
A week later, he’s still waiting. It’s not the longest they’ve been apart by far; sometimes Hell will send Crowley away for months at a time; sometimes Aziraphale will visit libraries or bookmongers’ private collections and forget himself there for just as long. A week is no time at all, comparatively, and yet the waiting gnaws on Aziraphale’s heart like a creature with teeth.
It occurs to him that Crowley might be waiting, too.
So like finding the ring in the shop, he follows Crowley’s familiar aura through Soho as simply as one might follow a map or a series of road signs. He ends up in Mayfair, ends up letting himself into a well-kept inn on a busy street, ends up miracling the information he needs out of the pleasant clerk working the desk.
Aziraphale climbs the stairs to the third floor, and lets himself into the second to last room. He’s braced for a renewal of their argument, or more things thrown, or a serpent’s furious glare.
What Aziraphale finds instead is his husband deeply asleep, utterly still beneath a thin cotton blanket, hair fanned across the pillow like something out of a fairy tale. Crowley’s breathing is so slow that he must have been asleep since he came here to hide a week ago.
Aziraphale takes off his hat and sits on the edge of the bed. He touches the graceful curve of Crowley’s cheek with a gentle hand.
“Have I driven you away?” he whispers. “I’m sorry, Crowley.”
No one looks at them as they come down the stairs, because Aziraphale doesn’t want anyone to. He carries Crowley close to his chest, the demon’s head tucked securely against his shoulder. He could miracle them back to the shop in an instant, but he rather wants the excuse to hold Crowley for as long as he can get away with.
Once in their shared flat, Aziraphale delivers his demon to his proper bed, with its thick blankets and its abundance of down pillows and the mattress that molds to his shape just so. He smooths the hair back from Crowley’s face, and aches to still be holding him.
He places the wedding ring on the nightstand.
“Only sweet dreams, dearest,” he blesses in parting, and closes the bedroom door.
Ten years later, Crowley comes downstairs with mussed hair and wary yellow eyes. It’s the middle of the night, and Aziraphale drops his favorite mug in surprise when he turns to find him on the stairs.
Crowley miracles it whole again with a thoughtless wave of his hand, and the ring he’s put back on catches the light as he does. A reminder, and a promise.
Aziraphale is across the room to him in an instant, drawing him into an embrace that feels like a homecoming. Crowley melts into his arms like he’s been nursing a wound for these last ten years and only just found relief.
“Sorry, angel,” he mumbles, hands curled into fists in the back of Aziraphale’s shirt.
“Don’t you dare,” Aziraphale says severely, an effect ruined entirely by the way his voice goes funny when he weeps. If he were to hold a human this hard, he’d surely break their bones, but Crowley only squirms that much closer. “I’m the one who’s sorry. Forgive me, Crowley, or don’t— only please don’t go away.”
Don’t leave me.
“Never,” Crowley vows with a vengeance. “One petty little tiff is nothing, angel. ‘Till death us do part,’ isn’t it? I’ve only promised as much sixty-one times so far. Shall we make it an even sixty-two?”
Aziraphale manages a watery laugh much sooner than he thought he’d be able to, and they don’t let go of each other, even once, for the rest of the night and well into the morning.
As it so happens, Crowley wanted holy water as a means of protection. He’s afraid, constantly, of what might happen if his lies are no longer enough to satisfy Hell; if they tire of waiting for Crowley’s false plans to come to fruition and decide to come for Aziraphale themselves; if there’s less than the usual warning before one of the duke’s visits and he stumbles upon the two of them together.
“I can handle an angel,” Crowley says. He snaps his fingers. “Hellfire, easy as sin. But Hastur—”
There is something hunted in his eyes. Aziraphale has seen it there for a long time and somehow not known what he was looking at. He hates that Crowley has been carrying this burden alone; he hates that when Crowley brought himself to ask for something that might help, Aziraphale didn’t rise to the occasion.
And he hates the idea of holy water anywhere in the immediate vicinity of his demon, but he can’t bear another argument. And he does feel better now that he knows what Crowley wants it for. Now that the absolute worst case scenario is certainly off the table.
“It’s just insurance, angel,” Crowley says, twisting his ring around his finger, a nervous tell he’s had for nearly as long as he’s had the ring. “Just in case.”
Aziraphale presses his lips together. “If we keep it in a sealed flask— and lock it in a safe. And put a ward up around it, too, to safeguard against any accidents—”
Crowley lifts his head, eyes glowing with hope. Aziraphale surrenders to those eyes completely.
“If we do all of that,” he sighs. “Then yes. Of course.”
He’s rewarded immediately with a lapful of demon, those wiry arms wound around his neck, the autumn smoke smell of him filling Aziraphale’s head.
“Thank you,” Crowley says in a tone more vulnerable than any he’s used in a long time.
Aziraphale is powerless to do anything but hold him around the waist and press him closer.
“What do you think of Anthony?” Crowley asks out of the blue.
He’s tending to a creeping vine of some sort, one that’s made a home of the windowsill for all that it started in a respectable hanging basket. It’s a stubborn plant, and seems to have Crowley’s number; despite the demon’s thinly-veiled threats and pointed remarks about the garbage disposal, it still wraps a leafy tendril around his fingers in welcome.
“Of who?” Aziraphale replies mildly, somewhat distracted as he flips through faded manuscripts he recovered from the fainting stacks of a nearby college. Honestly, if they’re just going to let precious books mildew in back rooms that time forgot, he ought to take them all off their hands.
“Nobody,” Crowley says. “I just meant the name. I’ve been thinking of taking it, since humans get so shifty when you’ve only what counts as a surname to give them. So what do you think?”
The first thing Aziraphale thinks of is Saint Anthony of Padua, patron of lost things, but he doesn’t think Crowley would appreciate that. His next-most immediate thought is one that bursts onto the scene as though it can’t bear to be kept in the dark a second longer, and Aziraphale lifts his head to pin his husband with a glowing smile.
“Anthony. ‘Priceless one.’ Yes, I think it suits you perfectly.”
Crowley proves the point by blushing beautifully to the tips of his ears and spinning around to busy himself again with the affectionate ivy.
“Ngh. Feels a little lacking, though, dunnit? Needs some flash, if I’m to be stuck with it for keeps.” His hands are fumbling with the plant mister; he must be out of sorts. Aziraphale can’t help feeling a little pleased with himself over it. “How about a middle name? They brought those back in the thirteenth century, didn’t they?”
Aziraphale sets aside his manuscript and crosses the room to the window seat. Crowley’s shoulders hunch when the angel nears him. Darling boy.
“Three names might be unwieldy when you’ve only had the one for so long.”
“I could just use the initial.” Crowley hazards a sideways glance in his direction, and seems to rally some of his composure back when Aziraphale only gazes patiently at him. “Any ideas? You’re the genius behind my present moniker, remember.”
“Of course I remember.” Aziraphale’s eyes stray to the fragile vines still curling about Crowley’s hand despite his scoldings; spoiled, Crowley would call it. Loved, Aziraphale thinks. “You’ve such a green thumb, my dear. Why not borrow from the name of a flower?”
Crowley raises one dark eyebrow at him. “You sound as though you’ve got something in mind already, angel.”
His eyes are golden in the sunlight, and his red hair is plaited loosely down his back. It sends Aziraphale back to 1186, to that spring wedding in a sprawling field of eagerly blooming jonquils. He thinks of how beautiful Crowley looked there in all his sunrise colors.
Aziraphale reaches out to touch a rogue curl that escaped the plait. He can feel Crowley holding his breath.
“I suppose I do,” Aziraphale admits quietly, giving up that particular secret.
They’re arguing as the bomb falls on the church.
“You were supposed to wait in the car!”
“And let you get discorporated? Pull the other one, angel, it’s got bells on.”
Aziraphale could hardly stand to see Crowley shifting his weight from foot to burning foot inside the nave. He trips through the rubble to get his hands on Crowley now, lifting the demon clear off the ground. Crowley squawks in some surprise but doesn't fuss, looping an arm around the angel's neck to secure himself.
Aziraphale turns toward where the Bentley is waiting for them like a faithful beast. It flicks its masked headlights once in greeting at their approach.
Crowley says, “Hang on, you’re forgetting your books.”
“Sod the books,” Aziraphale replies tersely.
He can practically hear Crowley roll his eyes, and the quick snap of his fingers that presumably summons the satchel of prophecies safely to the boot of the car.
“It’s a good thing I’m used to this sort of handling,” Crowley muses a moment later. “You’ve plenty of practice at the bridal carry by now, haven’t you?”
“Don’t try to be charming while I’m angry with you,” Aziraphale replies, but it’s a losing battle. Already he’s giving ground, remembering the last time he carried Crowley this way, and by the time the Bentley pops the rear passenger door open for them, he’s pressing a weary kiss to the crown of Crowley’s head. “Please don’t run into any more churches. It doesn’t do us any good if you spare me getting shot by giving me a heart attack instead.”
“Promise not to play with any more Nazis and you’ve got yourself a deal.”
“Fair enough,” Aziraphale mutters.
He lowers Crowley sideways onto the bench seat and goes to his knees, lifting one of Crowley’s feet into his lap. The stacked heel of his little Oxford shoe digs into Aziraphale's thigh as he battles with the thin laces.
“Aziraphale,” Crowley says. “I’m fine, you don’t have to—”
“I certainly do," Aziraphale replies shortly, giving no quarter.
“Then it could wait until we got home.” Crowley sounds undone, and tries to twitch away when Aziraphale peels down his stocking. “Angel.”
“I’ll not have you in pain for longer than I can help it.” The sole of his poor foot is blistered an angry, weeping red. Aziraphale’s chest goes tight with anguish. “Oh, my darling.”
Crowley’s hands are curled into claws on the car seat, nearly rending the upholstery, as Aziraphale cradles his ankle and miracles healing into his skin. A faint white scar is left behind, but tension bleeds out of Crowley's spine as the pain finally goes. Aziraphale looks up at him with love.
“Yeah.” Crowley is breathless. “Yes.”
Aziraphale moves to the other foot in turn, repeating the healing process with utmost care, and then redresses the demon in his stockings and heels. Crowley is staring at him with wide harvest moon eyes all the while. It occurs to Aziraphale that he'd like nothing more than to take Crowley by the chin and kiss him soundly on the mouth.
So he does.
Crowley makes a wounded noise, and throws his arms around Aziraphale's shoulders, and they topple backwards into the car.
Aziraphale bends over Crowley to wake him with a kiss. It earns him a flick of a forked tongue, and then Crowley tucks his head beneath his own body.
"Ah-ah," Aziraphale scolds. "You've spent all evening in bed, you lazy thing."
A yellow eye glints at him from within the pile of coils. "You could have joined me."
"And then I wouldn't have gotten any work done, either." Despite himself, Aziraphale moves to sit on the edge of the mattress. Crowley takes it for the invitation it is and slithers into his lap for pets. "You are spoiled rotten."
"Just how you like it."
Aziraphale can't think of any argument that wouldn't be a bald-faced lie, so he changes the subject.
"You have that meeting tonight, Crowley. The summons looked rather serious."
With a put-upon sigh, Crowley shifts back into human shape, right there in his arms. He lifts Aziraphale's hand from where it automatically wound into his hair and presses it to his cheek instead.
At some point within the last century it became commonplace for men to wear wedding bands, and Crowley wasted no time in slinking out in secret to procure his angel a beauty. It’s a Victorian piece, a signet ring made up of two golden serpents that curl around an oval garnet, and Aziraphale loves it almost more than he can stand.
It's somehow even lovelier here, set against Crowley's hair, against his eyes.
"Hold me before I go," Crowley says, wanting.
It isn't always easy for him to ask. It’s never easy to deny him when he does. Aziraphale is already turning to press his husband back into their bed before he remembers why they shouldn't.
"You'll be late.”
"S'just Hastur and Ligur. It can't be that important."
Aziraphale gives in, leaning down to kiss the smug smile from Crowley's mouth. He does make a good point.
It’s not like it's the end of the world.