And these fingertips
Will never run through your skin
And those bright blue eyes
Can only meet mine across the room
filled with people that are less important than you
Wind blows in from the east and waves lap at his feet and the sun sets somewhere behind him as he watches the ship crawl along the horizon. It is a tall ship, with billowing sails and a deep hull and a crew that does something which might be called singing if Crowley were kinder... but he is not. Though sails match the color the clouds have been all day, they do not blend with the sky the way they are meant to, not with the red painted upon them.
Crowley has seen this vessel before. He remembers the violet-eyed human who sat at her prow and slipped through his fingers because some humans have no heart to answer his song. The first application of the winged sigil on this ship’s sails had been done in blood.
He folds his ebon wings out of sight and moves to where he knows his voice will carry. The ship is heading his way, toward the sun as it sinks beyond the horizon. By the time they see the rocks, he intends for it to be too late. They will be in his thrall. They will sleep at the helm until their ship is dashed upon the reef, and its bones will litter the seafloor for decades, for centuries.
When he knows they are in range, he sings.
The trick, he has learned, is that it does not particularly matter what he sings. Unlike other magics, the spell is not in the words, but in the tune. When he casts his voice out over the waves, it carries with it the words each sailor most wants to hear. One will hear of his homeland, another of the family he left behind. Some will hear the promise of a beautiful lover, or riches and boons, or fame and honor. Humans have myriad wants. Crowley believes he knows them all.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what they hear. They will relax into the promise of their most desired vice until their eyes close and their fingers slip from their tasks and their knees give. They will fall prey to the spell and their ship will be claimed by the sea, their lives claimed by Crowley.
The ship approaches slowly, brought to him by the wind and the sea and the spell. He is used to seeing ships with no crew standing, seemingly piloted by the ghosts it will soon have, but as this one nears, he can see a single human at the rail. His pale hair and clothing stand out against the dark wood of the ship, and as he comes nearer, Crowley finds his voice dies in his throat, cut off by wonder.
Crowley has never seen such a breathtaking human. The man doesn’t look like the other sailors Crowley has seen. His hair is short and curled and well-kept and his face is as soft as the rest of him looks. He has his hands wrapped over the rail of the ship and he’s leaning so far over that Crowley can see the strange color of his eyes- not quite blue and not quite not, filled to the brim with concern instead of fear.
This human should be asleep, and yet as the spell wanes and the ship ceases her forward cruise, he calls down to Crowley with a voice like a siren, himself- a celestial one, perhaps.
“Are you alright?” the man asks. “Have you lost your ship in the reef? Are you injured?”
Crowley can do nothing but stare up at him. The ship is intact. This is not the crew that last lived aboard it, and that is certainly not the captain who last commanded her. The word mutiny crosses his mind, and in passing he thinks he might understand why someone would follow the creature above him into that kind of ruinous situation.
He hears shuffling and muttering as the man scoots farther up the bow and raises his voice louder, as though he thinks Crowley must not have heard. “Are there other survivors we should look for? My crew seems to have lost their wits, but I’m sure they’ll… well. Would you like to come aboard? It’s safe and warm, and we have plenty of food and drink for you. Can you hear me? Can you understand me?”
Surely, Crowley thinks, the human must see something other than what is before him. Sometimes, on rare occasion, Crowley’s song dazzles the waking mind into hallucinations instead of sleep. He stares up at the beautiful newcomer and spreads his wings wide, knowing it will break the illusion as long as he does not sing.
The human makes a noise of surprise, but there is no fear in the gesture. “Oh!” he exclaims, and he sounds… pleased. Excited, almost. “Oh, you’re a siren, then. Well. It seems you won’t need a rope to come up here. You’re still welcome to, if you’d like!”
Confused, Crowley stares up at the odd human, trying to decide what to do. Although he has boarded many a seafaring vessel, he has never been invited aboard one willingly. He has never been greeted warmly. He has been greeted with heat, but never this gentle warmth. Never with anything gentle.
He spreads his wings, and the human backs away from the edge as Crowley flies up to him, alighting delicately atop the rail. He perches there, wings mantled high and claws splintering the wood, aiming for intimidation. The human stares at him with open admiration, and Crowley cannot help himself.
“Are you not frightened of me?” he asks, trying not to sound exasperated.
“Oh,” says the human, standing a little straighter. “Should I be? Are you going to hurt me-…?”
“Crowley,” Crowley answers, an automatic response that has never, ever been automatic. He has never given anyone any part of his name, never been willing to give them any sort of power over him.
“Ah,” the human says, as if he has divined something from the single word. “Because of the…?” He gestures to Crowley’s sleek, dark wings.
“No,” Crowley says, although he can feel a little bit of heat in his cheeks for not considering that implication. “I chose it because I liked it.”
The human, against everything that should be, smiles, and Crowley’s heart makes its existence known by flopping over in his chest and starting a riot of butterflies in his belly. “I like it, too. My name is Aziraphale.”
“That’s not a very common name,” Crowley tells him, not sure he likes this new feeling. He has never been vulnerable. But he’s not sure he doesn’t like it, either, so he doesn’t want to give it up yet.
“I’m not a very common person,” Aziraphale tells him, a bit primly. “In fact, there’s only one of me.”
A laugh startles out of Crowley, quickly swallowed back down as his eyes widen. He has laughed before. He has delighted in the feel of his talons in flesh. He has loved the wind beneath his wings and the brush of water all over his skin and the chill of the deep. But he has never heard a human joke. There is a small chance, a very small one, that he will let this vessel leave unscathed for that reason alone.
Aziraphale seems pleased at Crowley’s laughter. “Won’t you come down from there?” he says, so softly it barely reaches over the sound of the waves on the hull. “I won’t hurt you, either.”
“I never said I wouldn’t,” Crowley says, but he’s got one foot upon the deck already and instead of claws on the tips of it, his toes are soft and scaled. “I called you here to wreck your ship upon my reef and destroy you and your crew. I have eaten your kind for centuries.” His second foot joins his first, and his wings fold up behind him.
“That sounds terrible,” Aziraphale tells him, turning partly away, revealing his back in a way he desperately should not do to a predator of Crowley’s ilk. “I can’t imagine eating the same thing all the time. Would you like to come inside? We’ve just found ourselves in possession of some truly delicious apples.”
Crowley stares at him in bewilderment. This is not how this is supposed to go, or rather, it has never gone like this. He can sense the crew waking as his unfinished spell wears thin, and a part of him wonders if he’s flown right into a trap, but he can feel no malice from the human before him. In fact, he seems completely genuine in his desire to share a meal with Crowley, and Crowley’s curiosity is rapidly winning the battle against his good sense- which is extremely unfair of his curiosity, considering how it has teamed up with his traitorous heart.
Yet as he takes one step, and then another, and another, following Aziraphale below the deck of the ship, he can’t help but think that perhaps this is how it is supposed to go, after all.