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The Ineffable Road Trip 2.0

Chapter Text

Crowley knew something was wrong with his angel. Aziraphale hadn’t said outright, of course. He never would. No, Crowley had put it together himself. Fortunately, if there was an expert on “Aziraphale-ology”, it was undoubtedly a certain red-haired demon. To an outsider, nothing would have seemed out of the ordinary with the jolly man who owned the little bookshop in Soho. Day in and day out, Aziraphale puttered around his shop, humming, reading, and keeping customers out as if nothing had changed in the months since the near end of the world. Crowley was no outsider, however. Something was off, and the demon could see it in a way that only a best friend of 6000 years could.

As the demon unlocked the door to his apartment and stepped inside, he contemplated Aziraphale’s recent actions. The way he had been eating just slightly less, the way he had been extra terse with customers, the way their conversations had become ever-so-slightly more routine – it was all indicative of something gnawing away at the angel.

Only days before, Crowley thought he was bothered by the amount of time the demon had been hanging around the shop. Granted, Crowley had been a bit clingy, sleeping on the angel’s couch nearly every night, but he was nevertheless a little hurt when he came to the conclusion that he didn’t want him around.

However, on the evening he thought of this, he was proven to be mistaken very quickly. Not wanting to bother Aziraphale, Crowley had begun to leave the shop after their post-dinner drinks instead of making his bed on the couch in the shop. This had caused the angel to grab his sleeve desperately with a pleading look in his big blue eyes that said it all.

Heading to his bedroom, Crowley thought about what the angel’s eyes seemed to be telling him. Aziraphale wasn’t afraid of Crowley – he was afraid of being with him. It was a subtle difference, it was enough to let him piece together the whole story. The loss in appetite, the mixed feelings about being around the demon, the isolation. Aziraphale didn’t want to be away from Crowley, he was simply afraid of what might happen if he got close.

Crowley knew how cruel heaven could be. When they had switched corporations, “Aziraphale” had never even gotten a trial to plead his case. The angels were all so overbearing and harsh that even though they were both on their own side now, he couldn’t blame Aziraphale for having lingering anxieties about what heaven might do to him. It was one thing to both be on the same side in the war, but it was an entirely different thing to develop a close relationship. Crowley was aware that if heaven knew one of their most powerful angels was emotionally attached to the enemy, the consequences of their wrath would be much more than anything they had seen for their prior transgressions.

But Crowley didn’t want to stop, and thinking of Aziraphale’s pleading look the night before he knew neither did he. It was for this reason that Crowley hatched his plan.

Reaching into his bedside drawer, Crowley pulled out a stack of bills that he had been saving. Exiting back into his living area, Crowley snapped his fingers. His plants, trembling when he had entered the apartment, had suddenly gone still when they realized that the demon wasn’t punishing them – instead he had rigged up some sort of watering system.

“You little shits had better behave yourselves while I’m gone, ok? You know I won’t tolerate any lackluster performance.” The plants gave another shiver as Crowley locked the door behind him. Taking a deep breath, he began to look up directions on his phone. He had a plan, and he wasn’t letting heaven get in the way of it.

Aziraphale straightened the stack of books on the end table for what was probably the dozenth time that morning. Although he knew that no customers would be coming in – the little shop had been closed more often than he had been open since the apocalypse-that-wasn’t – he couldn’t help but make the place look as neat as possible. He couldn’t stop fidgeting and frequently found himself pacing around the storefront. It wasn’t that he was unhappy being there – quite the contrary, actually, as he was beyond glad that he had his treasured store back – but he couldn’t help feeling stuck, like a caged animal without any purpose.

Because, truthfully, the angel hadn’t felt needed since the end of the end of the world. The trials had gone about as smoothly as they could have, but the lack of a punishment gnawed at the back of the angel’s mind day in and day out. If he wasn’t being punished, then why had he not heard from heaven since? It had been at least three months since he had last seen Gabriel’s smug face and as much as he resented the bastard, something about being isolated from the other angels was almost worse than being humiliated by them. It was as if the angels had just left him on earth waiting for him to disappear and to no longer be associated with them. They had discarded him.

The isolation terrified him. It wasn’t just the fear of being alone, however. It was the fear of the isolation not lasting. Without heaven, the angel’s only purpose seemed to be Crowley. Over the months the two had been dining out together nearly every night, and the demon had taken to sleeping in the shop. Aziraphale knew just how terrified he had been the day of the fire, and despite the pair refusing to bring it up he knew that Crowley had been changed that day. He had become more clingy, more emotional, more … dependent? No, that wasn’t it. He had become more attached to the angel, allowing himself to grow closer now that he could live without judgement.

This, however, was what Aziraphale was afraid of. There wasn’t a single part of the angel that was opposed to having Crowley around – the two were both quite aware that they enjoyed each other’s company more than anything else. No, it was the fear that their situation might be compromised. Heaven seemed to have abandoned him, but what if they changed their mind? What if the angel had given up on his purpose and dedicated himself to Crowley, only to have him ripped away from him? Aziraphale didn’t think he could take it, and he doubted Crowley would have any more luck.

It was for this reason that Aziraphale was pacing around the shop, organizing and reorganizing his countless books. If he could direct his attention at something else – anything else – then maybe he could block out that part of his mind screaming to grab Crowley tight and never, ever let go. He knew that he couldn’t, that he shouldn’t, and that doing so would only cause more pain. But, no matter how many books the angel rearranged, his next thought was always Crowley.

As if on cue, the bell behind Aziraphale rang, causing the angel to jump. He knew he had locked the door and thus the only person entering could be Crowley, as he had the only other key, but Aziraphale was still tentative when he peeked around a bookcase to identify the intruder. Luckily, as he had suspected, a slightly ruffled red-headed demon stood just inside the entrance, shaking rain water from his jacket, and clutching a brown paper bag that looked like it had seen better days. Despite the rain, he was of course wearing his shades, and his hair which he had grown out again was plastered to his face, and he looked as if he were ready to have a less-than-friendly chat with God about Her choice in weather. However, when his eyes caught Aziraphale who had stepped out into the open, the demon seemed to soften.

“Evenin’.” Crowley opened, hanging his coat up and moving forward to greet him. “Bloody awful weather we’re having, eh? I hope you’ve got some tea, I had to walk all the way over here you bastard.”

The demon seemed annoyed, but the twinkle in his eye and his wry smile proved that he was just joking around. Over the last few weeks, Crowley’s brash swagger had not deteriorated in the slightest, but the more nights he chose to sleep on the couch in the shop or asked the angel out to dinner, the more Aziraphale knew that Crowley wasn’t about to go anywhere.

Smiling, Aziraphale motioned for the two to sit down in their favorite chairs. With a snap of his fingers, a fire sprang to life in the hearth, and Crowley took the chair closest to warm himself.

“I’m fine.” Aziraphale chirped with a smile which he immediately realized looked horribly fake.

He tried his best to recover, but the demon had already seen. Leaning in towards the still-standing Aziraphale, Crowley adopted a concerned frown. Over the last few weeks, as the angel began to feel more and more worried, he had done his best to hide it. However, the angel never had been a good liar and it was obvious that Crowley had noticed his increased anxiety.

“Actually,” the angel conceded before the demon could say anything, “It’s been a long day, Crowley. I know that I should be grateful to have my space and that it isn’t a huge deal what heaven thinks of me but…” he trailed off, settling down into his own chair. His cheeks flushed as he felt the demon looking at him and hoped he could just sink into the chair and not have to think about anything ever again.

“It’s ok, angel” Crowley said softly. “I know.” The demon went quiet for a minute, and Aziraphale was a little surprised that he didn’t have more to say. However, as he looked up, he saw that Crowley had a tired grin on his face and was clutching the water-stained bag he had carried in.

“I got something for you, though.” the demon continued. “I don’t know if you’ll like it, or if you even want to think about something like this right now, but… just open it, angel.”

Aziraphale took the bag and carefully reached inside to feel something hard and rectangular. Opening it wide, he looked in to see a book. Considering the number of books he owned, there was a decent chance that whatever was in the bag was already in his possession, yet as he pulled it out he realized that none of his collection was from Crowley. Over the years the two had interacted many, many times, but Crowley never seemed to take any interest in literature. In fact, Aziraphale had never seen the demon read at all. Because of this, the fact that he had suddenly gifted him a book seemed very odd to Aziraphale.

However, he became even more confused when he read the title. “The American West?” he asked. He was unsure why, in the midst of this crisis, the demon was buying him what appeared to be travel guides. “Wh…” the angel trailed off as two pieces of paper slipped out from under the cover and fluttered to the floor. Reaching to pick them up, Aziraphale caught the word “Delta” and Crowley chuckled.

“I know you said no to Alpha Centauri, but I figured that Portland is a bit closer so I thought, uh, you might want to, you know, take a road trip?” The demon looked abashed, and Aziraphale suddenly realized what he was asking. Neither of them knew how much longer they had, and Crowley was offering them an escape, even if just for a bit. It might be a mistake to continue fraternizing, and it might be their undoing, but what if it wasn’t? The angel stared at the tickets, overcome with emotion. The demon could do anything, anything, he could run far away and not get mixed up in Heaven, and yet he decided to show Aziraphale the world no matter the risk? He felt tears rise to his eyes, and looked up to see an expectant Crowley, still blushing slightly.

“I’ve barely spent any time in America!” Aziraphale exclaimed, breaking into a smile. “You want to do this for me?”

Crowley laughed. “Of course, angel. What would I rather be doing?”

“I don’t know, brooding or something?” the angel giggled and was met with a sardonic glare. “When would we go?”

Crowley snapped his fingers. “The Bentley’s out front, so, I guess, as soon as you pack a bag.”

For a moment, Aziraphale forgot the part of him that was afraid, and jumped to his feet causing Crowley to laugh again. “Meet you down here in 15?” he asked, making his way to the staircase.

“I’ll be right here.”

Chapter Text

“For fuck’s sake, who decided that this was a good idea?” Crowley clutched the armrests as the Airbus hit another spot of turbulence. Aziraphale sat at the window while Crowley was positioned between the angel and a rather rotund older lady who was snoring violently.

Aziraphale smirked, setting his book down and turning to smile at Crowley. The entire drive to the airport had been amusing, with Aziraphale reading snippets from his new book and Crowley retorting with jokes that made them both laugh, almost forgetting their troubles. Until they had boarded the plane, Crowley was his snarky and comedic self, leading Aziraphale around with exaggeratedly grand gestures which the angel found hilarious and the TSA agents did not. On the plane, however, Crowley had stiffened up a bit and had begun tapping his feet, seemingly put-off by being in such a tight space.

At risk of reading too far into the situation, Aziraphale speculated that this claustrophobia might be due to some lingering fears of being in hell. Although the angel had only been there once, the dirty feelings of filthy, sweaty bodies pushing against his still surfaced from time to time. Regardless of whether Aziraphale’s hunch was correct, the demon still disliked being on the plane. This made it all the more endearing, Aziraphale reflected with a pang of gratitude, that Crowley was taking him on this trip despite the fact that parts of it were deeply uncomfortable for him.

Finally remembering to speak, Aziraphale answered in a sly way that he knew the demon found amusing. “Well, if I remember correctly, that would be you my dear.”

“Aw, piss off.” Crowley snarled, but as expected, softened up a bit as the angel’s sarcasm. “… Wish we coulda just teleported without our sides noticing, that’d be nice.”

Aziraphale gave him another smile, as if to say that he appreciated the discretion. The farther they distanced themselves from London, the more the angel was able to breathe. Of course, the nagging part of his mind that feared that the other angels would appear at any moment was still present, but there, in the dimly lit plane next to the fantastic demon who obviously cared so deeply for him, he felt safe.

Looking out the window as the dark countryside flashed by below them, illuminated every now and then by the glow of a distant town, Aziraphale decided it would be as good a time as any to ask Crowley what his plans were. He had agreed to this trip for two primary reasons. First, punishment or not, Aziraphale couldn’t stand sitting in the shop day after day waiting to see if he would hear from Heaven again. The uncertainty and trepidation was wearing the angel down and, until he was presented with the option to run away temporarily, Aziraphale honestly wasn’t sure if he’d be able to take it.

“So,” he started, bracing himself for the stupid question he was about to ask, “What exactly is a ‘road trip’?”

Crowley laughed and turned to the angel, the tic in his feet migrating to his hand against the armrest. “It’s when you travel by car to go see things. You know, like nature and stuff. I know you don’t love my driving, but I think you’ll like it.” Crowley sighed. “I’ve never actually been on one myself, I’ve been too busy with my demonic duties and whatnot, but I’ve heard humans say that they can be really fun.”

“Shhhh,” Aziraphale muttered, casting a nervous glance at the sleeping woman next to Crowley. Luckily, it seemed that she hadn’t heard his remark about what “humans” like, and Crowley’s “demonic duties.” “This sounds fun, but how are we planning on traveling? I guess we could miracle your automobile over here.”

Crowley chuckled. “Ha! Can you imagine living in the Bentley? No, it’d be bloody uncomfortable. I was thinking that we could find a new ride when we land. I’m not opposed to doing miracles, you know, but I think it’d be kinda fun to travel…” Crowley lowered his voice, “…like humans. You know, they seem to really enjoy these trips – they make automobiles for that specific purpose!”

“Do they really? Ha, that’s wonderful! They really do come up with the most ingenious solutions!” Aziraphale’s eyes suddenly prickled, and he got a feeling that he needed to get something off his chest, something that had little to do with automobiles. “You know, Crowley, I appreciate this, I really do. I’ve been so stressed out and, well, I couldn’t help but have second thoughts about Alpha Centauri, and I just… thank you, Crowley.”

Crowley’s face broke into a sad little smile. He reached up towards the angel and wiped away a tear Aziraphale hadn’t even noticed had fallen onto his cheek. “Hey, Angel, don’t mention it. You know that I’m happy to do this. I’d do anything for y- … to make you feel happy.”

Aziraphale couldn’t help but melt a little at the demon’s words. Even if Crowley had stopped himself from saying what he really meant, Aziraphale understood. He too would do anything for the man beside him, and he knew neither of them had any doubt about it. After 6000 years, there really wasn’t any turning back.

“Thank you, Crowley.”

“Like I just told you,” Crowley started, the wry grin returning to his face, “Don’t mention it. If you don’t stop thanking me, I might just have to reevaluate my profession as a minion of Hell.”

At this, Aziraphale giggled, and Crowley continued. “In all seriousness though, angel, you look pretty exhausted. I think we should get some sleep. ”

“I’d like that.” Aziraphale smiled, suddenly feeling tired for the first time in a while. “It’ll be a long ride to Oregon.”

“Hmmph,” Crowley agreed, casting a glare up at the plane, as if his annoyance would make it fly faster. Settling down in his seat and pulling the blanket the flight attendant had given him earlier over his body, Crowley tossed the remaining fabric over the angel’s legs. “Sleep well, Angel.”

Aziraphale rested his head back, letting his eyes shut for the first time in weeks. As he began to doze off, he allowed himself the luxury of blocking his worries out of his mind, even if for a couple hours.

Crowley opened his eyes to blinding sunlight. He wasn’t sure how long he had been asleep for, but he could tell it had been a while. Glancing to his right, he noticed the woman was no longer snoring and was now watching some film on the screen in front of her. Turning to Aziraphale, he was a little surprised to see the angel awake; he had seemed so tired the night before. His clothes were rumpled from sleeping in the seat, but his face was rosy and his bright eyes darted over the lines of text in the book in front of him. Heart of Darkness. Wasn’t that one really depressing? Crowley didn’t have much of a taste for literature. However, he realized with a pang of contentment, that this was the happiest he had seen Aziraphale in months, and for once the angel seemed at peace.

Nudging Aziraphale, Crowley muttered, “What do I have to get some food around here?” Aziraphale looked up with his shining eyes at the demon and smiled.

“You slept through breakfast, but I saved you some snacks. The attendants should be around soon with lunch too.”

Sure enough, within minutes a woman dressed in a sharp suit came past with a little metal cart, and handed each of them a sandwich wrapped in plastic. Crowley unwrapped his and bit down, but was disappointed to only taste mayo and cheap cold cuts. He glanced over at Aziraphale, ready to ask if that was an American thing or if someone was out to get him, but saw that the angel’s sandwich was entirely different – cheeses, vegetables, and roast meats which looked delectable. The angel blushed and, with a snap of his fingers, transformed Crowley’s sandwich into an identical one.

He shot Crowley a wry smile, and turned back to his book, sandwich in hand. Crowley took a bit of his new sandwich which he savored, attempting to ignore the sharp looks of jealousy from the woman with the mediocre lunch next to him.

Standing outside the airport, Crowley squinted against the sun at a sign attached to the side of the building. “Right up there,” he said, picking up his suitcase. “We should be able to get a cab from here.”

The two walked up to the bench which Crowley indicated, and they sat down. Crowley, grateful for the many pairs of sunglasses he owned, pulled out his phone. Typing a few key words in, he was able to locate what he was looking for. Usually when Crowley had a certain plan, he would just preform some miracles and wham, everything would be in order. However, something about that seemed too lazy, almost inconsiderate on his part. He wanted this trip to be perfect for the angel, and that meant he had to put a little work into it.

 

As predicted, a bright yellow taxi pulled up only moments later, and the two stuffed their luggage in the trunk before climbing into the back seat.

“Where to, gentlemen?” asked the driver, an older man with a crooked smile and a ripped baseball cap proclaiming his allegiance to a sports team Crowley had never heard of.

“Uh, the used car lot over on Birchwood. You know the place?” Crowley hoped he didn’t have to be more specific; he didn’t want to answer a bunch of personal questions when he was deep in thought.  

“Oh yea, I know where that’s at. That’ll be only like 20 minutes.”

For a few moments the driver was silent, much to Crowley’s appreciation. Although the demon wasn’t planning on making any concrete plans, he did want to think things over a bit. Like the pairs countless meetings before, things seemed to go best when they just let the events just play out naturally. Aziraphale seemed much calmer that way, not needing to take directions, and when Aziraphale was happy Crowley was too. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he thumbed through the remainder of the bills he had just exchanged into American currency. He felt a little silly going out of their way to make this purchase, but it just felt right. The pair’s relationship was much more reminiscent of a friendship between humans than between celestial entities, thus it made more sense to act more like humans. Crowley shifted so that he could see the angel, who was staring out the window at the passing buildings and trees, enraptured by it all. He seemed so invested in it, like he was ready to give himself to the humans and their world. His Love for them was beautiful, and Crowley couldn’t help but stare. He would have been content if the quiet taxi ride had lasted forever.

However, the silence was short-lived. “So, British, eh? What are you gentlemen doing over in the states?” The driver glanced in the mirror at the pair’s attire. “Business?”

Crowley, about to murmur some sort of affirmation, was interrupted by Aziraphale who, turning from the window, interjected brightly, “Oh, no sir, we’re on holiday! Cr- er… Anthony here just asked me to come with him last night! We’re going on a road trip!”

The demon did his best to hide the faint blush that crept into his cheeks. The angel seemed completely oblivious to the connotations his excited response carried, and he just hoped the driver hadn’t seen Crowley staring at him seconds earlier. The last thing he wanted to do was answer more personal questions. Luckily, the driver simply smiled and another hush fell over the cab.

Chapter Text

As the taxi drove off, Crowley turned to Aziraphale. “Was it really necessary that you tipped him THAT much?”

“Oh, come on Crowley, he was so nice! He seemed so happy for us going on this trip!” The angel, completely unaware of his own obliviousness, had turned to the dealership in front of them and had started walking, pulling Crowley along by the arm of his coat. Sighing, Crowley followed.

The sun was still shining and it was beginning to make Crowley, in his tight pants and black button-up, uncomfortably warm. However, this barely registered with the demon – he was too busy staring at Aziraphale. The angel was pulling him along eagerly, and had Crowley been an outsider he would most likely see Aziraphale as the one with the plan. This caused Crowley to smile despite himself. He was worried that the angel wouldn’t want to leave his shop and would instead spend his days in his newly-adopted flurry of anxiety, but instead they were here, halfway across the world, and Aziraphale was the one pulling him eagerly towards the car dealership. It made the demon’s cold, dark heart melt just a little bit as he couldn’t help but gaze after the angel, so full of confidence and determination.

Finally tearing himself away, Crowley examined their surroundings. Calling the sight in front of them a dealership was like calling a grimy motel a five-star resort. Much less of a place of sale and more of a junkyard, the ramshackle old pole barn in front of them was surrounded by every sort of vehicle imaginable with parts strewn everywhere. Broken down palates and rusted old paint cans rested against the sides of the building, and Crowley swore he saw a squirrel run through the door which sat ajar. He glanced back down at his phone, making sure they were at the right place. Were people really giving this place five stars? Oh well, they had cars, and as long as nobody pulled a knife on them, it would serve their purpose.

Upon reaching the door, Aziraphale tapped it slightly, before pushing it open the rest of the way and stepping in side, Crowley in tow. Inside was… cluttered to say the least. Stacks of paper reached half way to the ceiling, and every available desk was covered in boxes, files, and tools. The sole source of light was a flickering florescent light hanging from the vaulted roof, and the whole place smelled of mothballs and motor oil. Although Crowley was used to the dark, crowdedness of Hell, he didn’t have a good feeling about the place. The last think he wanted was for them to be discorporated by some maniac with an ax, and just as he opened his mouth to suggest to the angel that they just go look at the vehicles, a figure emerged from the shadows.

“Oh, hello, there. Are you guys looking for a new vehicle?” The deep voice surprised Crowley, especially considering that it came from the petit old man wearing torn overalls who stood only to the demon’s chest.

“Uh, yes. We heard about your place, and we’re…” Crowley trailed off as he began to frame his next statement. “… sorta running away ‘cause our bosses almost killed us for being friends but after I murdered one of them and gave the others a good scare they left us alone but we’re still pretty shaken up about it so we’ve decided to go on a road trip because fuck it.” No, that wouldn’t do.

Swallowing, Crowley managed to continue. “We’re going on a road trip, you see. We recently got out of a… difficult situation” (that was better), “and are looking to spend some time relaxing on the road together. So, I guess, we’re looking for a camper of sorts. Nothin’ big or fancy.” And as he saw the man’s eyes dart quickly between the two, he felt that bloody heat rise to his face again as his stomach did a backflip. He suddenly realized that the man didn’t exactly understand that the pair’s dynamic was strictly platonic. Being the demon he was, Crowley planned to sleep pretty much anywhere – a wall, a tree, hell even on top of the car – he wasn’t all that picky. However, Crowley imagined the man in front of him was unaware of his unorthodox relationship with gravity and thus assumed that they would be spending nights in the camper, together.

Crowley took a deep breath. Humans couldn’t understand the complexity and depth of their friendship, and thus he was not surprised that people, first the taxi driver and now the salesman, saw the pair as being, well, together. This was not the problem. The problem was that every time he ended up in a situation like this, where he was suddenly aware that the other person assumed Aziraphale was his lover, the demon lost essentially all ability to form a coherent sentence and generally turned a shade of red. God… Satan... somebody damn it. He usually could control his emotions around the angel – he had approximately 6000 years of practice under his belt – but something about this assumption always caught him off-guard for reasons Crowley adamantly denied to himself. Crowley had not put any thought into what it would be like if the pair were romantically involved, and he sure as heaven had never had the most remote fantasy about it. Nope, not happening. He DID NOT think of the angel in that way, that was crazy talk. He hoped more than anything that Aziraphale hadn’t taken notice of his momentary lapse of reasonable behavior.

Luckily, the dealer seemed too excited to show off his collection to pay much attention to the stuttering (and, fuck, blushing) man in front of him and the angel in turn was facing away from him, towards the car lot.

“Ah, of course, right this way!” the dealer seemed excited to have prospective customers, and as Crowley followed him back into the lot he did his best to not catch Aziraphale’s eye, willing the blush to subside.

In the lot, Crowley had regained his composure and had managed to stuff every last cell of him that wanted the dealer’s assumption to be true to the back of his brain where they belonged and would stay.  Turning his attention to the vehicles instead, he suddenly found himself impatient to find one and get on the road. Although this trip was for Aziraphale’s sake, the demon had to admit he too was looking forward to being far away from Heaven and Hell. After thousands of years, the thing he needed more than anything else was a break from the pressure. However, Crowley knew that Aziraphale had it even worse. He could tell the angel was close to cracking under the weight of his uncertainty and fear. The poor creature had been flinching every time Crowley accidentally brushed up against him, and no matter how hard he tried to hide it, the demon knew he hadn’t been sleeping. Crowley hoped that this trip would help. As soon as they got their van, Crowley planned to put some protective miracles over it, to make sure they weren’t followed. Although he knew Aziraphale’s paranoia was most likey unfounded – he knew from the shock on their faces at the execution-gone-wrong that the chances of the angels going after the rogue principality again were slim – he still wanted to protect him. He knew how afraid the angel was, and he would do whatever he needed to make him feel safe. Anything. He would…

Crowley suddenly became aware that the small old man was talking. In front of the pair, he was motioning excitedly to a sort of pop-up camper. The vehicle, if you could even call it that, was supported by concrete blocks and was held together with poorly-welded plates, duct tape and a shit-ton of luck. There was no way that he would be caught dead driving something like that, and Crowley wasn’t sure how to tell the man that no amount of help, mechanical or miraculous, would fix the thing. Aziraphale, luckily, had him covered.

“It’s ok, but I think we were looking for something a little more… spacious. I don’t want to be a bother, but do you have anything a bit larger?”

“Oh, for sure!” the older man exclaimed, pulling Aziraphale along by his sleeve, obviously excited to show off more of his collection. Crowley began to follow, hopeful that the next showing would at least pass as something that wasn’t in violation of multiple road safety laws, but saw something out of the corner of his eye which caused him to stop. Tucked between an old Trans Am and what appeared to be a partially-assembled piece of farm equipment, covered in part by a tarp which flapped lightly in the breeze, was an old van. Had it not been for its notable paint job, he would have walked right past. Painted a shade of burnt orange, similar to the demon’s own hair color, the vehicle looked as if it hadn’t been touched in years, possibly since the 60’s when it appeared to have been built. However, something about it drew the demon closer. The front passenger window was smashed in, and the tires were flat, but it was nonetheless intriguing, almost beautiful. Placing his hand on the exterior, Crowley was immediately filled with a sense of love. He knew nothing about the van, but could tell that it had once been cared for deeply and knew right away that it was perfect.

“Excuse me,” Crowley called after the man and the angel, still walking away. The two turned back to face him. “What about this one?”

As Aziraphale approached to get a closer look, the dealer exclaimed, “Ah! That old thing. Someone dropped it off here a couple months back after the owner, Aaron something-or-another, passed away. It’s a shame, really, that nobody in the family wanted it. With a bit of work it could be quite beautiful! I’m sorry that I haven’t gotten around to cleaning it out yet. I’ve been busy with other things, and frankly with that busted window and such, I honestly thought nobody would be interested.”

Crowley caught Aziraphale’s eyes as he motioned for him to step up to the van. At first, the angel seemed a little confused but as he placed his hand next to Crowley’s his face broke into a smile. It was clear that he could also feel the love radiating off of the old van, and as they caught one another’s gazes, a mutual consensus was reached.

“It’s wonderful!” The angel exclaimed, turning to the dealer. “We’ll take it, right Anthony?”

“Of course!” Crowley agreed.

“Wonderful, I’ll run inside and get you men the paperwork. I had it listed at retail value, but since I still haven’t gotten around to cleaning ‘er up, I’ll knock a few hundred off.” The dealer, upon receiving an appreciative nod from both men, turned back towards the barn.

As soon as he was out of earshot, the angel piped up, “It’s perfect Crowley! I know it needs some work, but the miracles will be simple enough. It feel so, so…” Aziraphale trailed off, staring at the van.

“Loved?” Chimed in Crowley with a bit of a smirk. “Honestly, angel, judging by the way you talk about my Bentley, I’m surprised you could have feelings for an automobile.”

The angel laughed and shoved Crowley playfully. “I have nothing against the Bentley, it’s your driving I’m concerned about. Frankly I’m glad we’re traveling outside of the city where you’re less likely to hit any poor pedestrians.

Crowley laughed, and the older man returned with a stack of paperwork and some keys.

“Take a look inside, if you’d like. I’ll just start filling this out for you.” The man tossed Crowley the keys, who ceremoniously passed them to Aziraphale who giggled and opened the door. Crowley followed him inside and was about to make a snarky comment, when he stopped dead in his tracks.

On the roof was a map of the United States, yellowed with age but still legible. From the rear-view mirror hung a string of beads, which sparkled in the afternoon sun streaming through the dusty windows. On the floor behind the two seats were a couple of ragged old blankets thrown haphazardly on a mattress, and the van smelt musty, like stale coffee and something else he couldn’t place. None of this, however, is what caught Crowley’s eye. Leaning past the angel to get a better look, Crowley realized that every available surface was covered in Polaroid photographs, some in color, some just black in white. There had to have been hundreds of them, pinned up everywhere. They depicted landscapes, buildings, trees, but more than anything else, they depicted two people. Picking up one off of the dashboard, Crowley looked down into the smiling face of a young man, blond and a little ragged, with his arm around a stunning girl in a tank top and shorts. Behind the, was what Crowley assumed was the ocean, glimmering even after all these years. Flipping it over, Crowley noticed a caption that read “Me and Aaron in Santa Monica, 1967.”

Crowley stared at the photo, full of emotions that he couldn’t put into words. Luckily, Aziraphale was able to say it for him. Turning to the demon with tears in his eyes, the angel murmured. “They loved this van, Crowley. They loved each other. Oh, I can just feel them. They had so many good times here, went so many places. It’s perfect, my dear. Perfect.”

 

 

Watching the man retreat back inside the barn, Aziraphale turned to the demon, who was tucking their newly-acquired title into his jacket pocket. He had a rather stoic look on his face, but Aziraphale could tell he was thinking the same thing – this van had been loved, and there was no better vehicle in the world for the trip they were about to embark on. Although he was skeptical about the whole vehicles-having-sentience thing, he felt that he could trust this van to keep them safe

Snapping his fingers, the pieces of glass from the broken window flew back into the frame, which polished itself clean. Looking at Crowley, he smiled.

“I think we should give this a bit of a clean before we take off, yeah?”

“Oh, for sure.” Agreed the demon, breaking away from the photo he held to glance around the van. With a snap of his own slender fingers, bits of trash and the aged blankets removed themselves from the floors, and the musty smell faded considerably. “Much better.”

The pair looked at the photos, and both agreed without a word passing between them that they weren’t going anywhere. They were part of the van.

Sitting down in the driver’s seat, Crowley turned over the engine which started immediately, no doubt due to a miracle the demon had likely performed. Throwing it into reverse, Crowley pulled out of the lot as Aziraphale clicked his seatbelt into place. As they made their way onto the highway (with only a bit of panicked screaming as Crowley forgot about the “bloody Americans and their stupid driving-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-road”), Aziraphale began to examine the map that hung over their heads. America was huge, way larger than any of the European countries the angel had spent most of his life on earth, and he was overwhelmed by the options they had at their disposal.

As if the demon had read his mind, Crowley turned to Aziraphale. “Where to, angel? We can go anywhere. Just name it.”

Aziraphale was quiet for a few minutes. He knew that it wasn’t a huge deal where they went – they both had the power to travel nearly instantaneously – but it was more about the drive itself. Although they had only been on the road for a few minutes, Aziraphale thought he began to understand why humans spent their time on this. It was new, it was freeing, it was… terrifying. Aziraphale didn’t know his fate, no more than the man next to him. It was scary, it was overwhelming, it was… it was beautiful. Aziraphale’s thoughts shifted to the American pioneers who too traveled into the unknown in search of opportunities. Working their way across the Rockies toward the Pacific, Aziraphale suddenly understood.

“West.” He declared. “Drive west.”

Crowley murmured some sort of agreement, obviously not too picky about where they were headed. Aziraphale leaned back and closed his eyes. He could still feel the love radiating from the van, and felt at peace for the first time in weeks.

Chapter Text

Before Aziraphale even opened his eyes, he knew the sun was starting to set. Having just awoken from a deep sleep, the light flickered through his eyelids, indicating that they were driving through the forest. Straightening himself up, the angel opened his eyes and almost gasped. The van was hurtling down a curving road with towering pines on either side. The sun, as he had suspected, was setting and the sky was set ablaze by the orange light, flashing like fire through the patches of branches above. Amongst the trees, deep into the woods, the foliage faded away in an unending swatch of dark pines. The whole area was larger than anything in London, or anywhere in England for that matter.

Aziraphale settled back in his seat and continued to watch the trees flash past them. He knew that America was huge, but the expanse of towering pines was almost overwhelming. So big, in fact, that Aziraphale felt almost as if he were wrapped in something warm and loving, completely in the safety of his surroundings. All of this was by design, of course, but it was all so perfect, so beyond whatever the bureaucracy could lay their hands on. It was ineffable.

The angel suspected that Crowley, despite his relative silence about his intentions for this trip, had such ideas in mind when deciding on the locale for their escape. Aziraphale almost turned to the demon to tell him just how beautiful it was when he suddenly became aware that the Crowley was singing softly to himself. He had never before heard the demon sing, and suspected that he was not aware the angel was awake and could hear him. Out of respect and lingering tiredness, Aziraphale sat back and savored the demon’s smooth, emotive voice which, despite cracking occasionally, could not be described as anything other than beautiful.

Thought of you as my mountaintop
Thought of you as my peak
Thought of you as everything
I've had, but couldn't keep
I've had, but couldn't keep

Linger on your pale blue eyes
Linger on your pale blue eyes

It was stunning. There was so much love in the air, in the forest, and it was all beautiful. Honestly, Aziraphale would be happy to spend the rest of his life next to Crowley, hurtling through the woods. As he began to drift off, he vaguely wondered if they could.

Shifting the van into park, Crowley sighed and turned to look out the window. He had been paying attention to the road, of course, but the difficult task of operating a vehicle so different from his own had tied up most of his thoughts and only now, as they sat in the empty parking lot, could he appreciate his surroundings. The tall trees of the Oregon forests had given way to the rocky coast of the Pacific, and below their van, waves crashed hard onto the sand.

The sun had basically set, Crowley noted with a bit of annoyance, and it was near impossible to see.

“Aziraphale?” Crowley asked softly, unsure whether or not the angel was still napping. No response. He had been in and out of sleep, and Crowley frankly couldn’t blame him for his exhaustion – despite what he said, he was stressed and it was evident by the tired creases in his usually perky face.

Frowning slightly, Crowley reached out in the dim light to grab Aziraphale’s arm. “Angel,” he whispered. “We’re here.” With a slight indistinguishable murmur, the figure stirred in the seat and, turning to Crowley, locked sleepy eyes with him in the twilight. The demon was suddenly struck with a feeling of… attraction? No, he thought quickly. The sudden feeling was purer than that. It was love, of sorts. Looking down into the pale blue eyes, Crowley wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around him, to hold him and protect him, to just be with him.

However, before he could even process his feelings, Aziraphale sat up and smoothed his rumpled jacket. Smiling he said, “Oh, I’m sorry my dear, I haven’t been very good company on the drive.”

“It’s ok,” Crowley laughed, ignoring the part of him that little sad the moment of intimacy had been broken, “You were tired. I’ve decided this would be a good spot to stop for the evening.”

Aziraphale murmured in agreement as the both exited the van and were suddenly hit with a wave of salty sea air. Crowley had parked the van in a small turnout off of highway 101 which, despite the sound of rushing traffic behind them, felt oddly isolated. The waves which continued to crash just outside of his vision made Crowley feel a sense of both peace and energy. The Pacific was enormous, and the demon, so used to the cramped spaces of Hell, was almost overwhelmed by its power. The faint moonlight reflected off the dark water ever so slightly, and where the water collided with the rocks along the shore he saw patches of white spray that he could almost taste.

Crowley was suddenly snapped out of his trance as he felt something brush his hand. Looking to his right, he saw Aziraphale was also staring out into the void, but had reached out blindly and clasped the demon’s hand in his own. Crowley froze, his hand suddenly on fire. (Well, not literally, although he did have to glance down briefly to be sure). The angel was holding his hand? That did not compute. In all of their 6000 years, no such thing had ever happened. Why would it? But why was it happening now? He wasn’t sure what was happening, or even if it was happening – could this be some sort of hallucination? Was he dreaming? However, before he could process anything, let alone say anything. He felt a tug as the angel began to lead him down to the beach. Completely awestruck, Crowley had no choice but to follow.  

They had been on the beach for about an hour, by Crowley’s estimations, but hadn’t spoken. The angel had miracled a blanket for the pair to sit on, and Crowley had added his own touch by springing forth a warm fire in front of them. The two remained close as they watched the sprawling ocean spread out before them.

Crowley was still interested in the sea, which was even louder up close, but his mind was still racing at a million miles an hour without a single answer as to why they had been holding hands. He was sure his face was even pinker than it had been that morning. Stupid corporation. He had tried to open his mouth to say something – anything – but stopped himself, knowing that it would probably come out as a stream of consciousness, roughly translated as “angel…hand…touchme… please…..hand…..warm..angelhandhandiloveyouhand.”

So, he hadn’t said anything. Maybe that had been a mistake, because after a few more moments the angel had let go casually and had made no indication that he even acknowledged anything had happened. Now, sitting on the blanket, Crowley’s poor mind was still in overdrive, unsure what to do. His own hand still tingled from where he had been touched, and it took a great deal of self-control on his part to not reach down and take it again. He had come close, but Aziraphale had dropped it for a reason, right? Was it a mistake? He couldn’t have taken his hand for the same reason Crowley was panicking over – the angel didn’t feel that way. Did he? Somebody, Crowley’s brain felt like it was going to implode.

Suddenly, feeling too restless to handle the tension (was it tension if the angel appeared to not be paying attention in the slightest?) Crowley stood up and stretched his long legs. Snapping his fingers, his dressy trousers and jacket were replaced with a button-up and a more comfortable pair of pants. He could, of course, have changed into his favorite black silk pajamas, but something about that idea felt a bit too childish. He was embarrassed enough for the thoughts racing through his head, he didn’t want to add “dressed like at a slumber party” to the list of reasons to hate himself.

Looking over at Aziraphale, Crowley realized that he was just as tired. Despite his nap, the circles under his eyes revealed that the angel was still exhausted. Smiling, he too stood up and miracled himself into a baggy sweater, which Crowley admitted to himself with a slight twinge of embarrassment, looked rather good on the angel. Fuck it, he was already drunk on the feeling of holding the angel’s hand, he could admit to himself that Aziraphale definitely did look good. Man, he could use a drink.

Still without exchanging words, the two walked back up to the van. The walk was quiet, and Crowley could feel his eyelids growing heavy. He wanted nothing more than a good night’s sleep to relieve his anxious mind. If he continued essentially gaping at the angel, that would make for an awkward car-ride in the morning.

However, reaching the back door, the two stopped in their tracks. “Uh…” Crowley started tentatively. “Do you think we should get rid of this mattress? I’m not quite sure… where it’s been.”

“Oh, yes, that would probably be in everyone’s best interest.” Aziraphale laughed, snapping his fingers. The grimy old bed was replaced with a pillowy-looking futon of sorts covered in a duvet in the angel’s trademark tartan.

“Well that fixes that. Now…” the demon trailed off, suddenly aware of the issue that had been residing in the back of his mind where he had forced it to stay that morning. He had planned on just crashing anywhere, but for some fucking reason he wanted to be with the angel. Stupid hand. Stupid brain. There was absolutely nothing suggesting that the two should share the bed and frankly Crowley just wanted to put the whole event behind them, not make it worse.

Thinking quickly, Crowley came up with a solution. “It’s a pretty small bed. You seem much more tired than I am, how about you take it? I can sleep up front.”

The angel was silent and stared longingly at the warm bed in front of him. However, he didn’t move.

“If you’re worried about making me sleep in the seat, don’t be. I can sleep pretty much anywhere: walls, ceilings, you name it. I fell asleep in a sewer once, that was fun.”

The angel’s face broke into a small smile. “Now that is a story I’m not quite sure I want to know about, my dear boy.” He began to slip his shoes off and climb into the bed, tentatively pulling the blankets around him. Taking this as an invitation to rest as well, Crowley made his way to the driver’s seat.

“Goodnight, Crowley.” Came a soft voice from the floor behind him.

“Goodnight, angel.” Crowley replied, his heavy eyelids closing against his will before he could even remove his own shoes. Vaguely, he thought as he began to drift off, he couldn’t help but wonder if the angel’s hesitation to take the bed himself was a bit more complicated than it seemed.

Chapter Text

The waves continued to crash, although slightly less violently than before. Or, thought the angel standing on the beach facing the oncoming salty air, the pounding last night had just been his own heart. Arriving at the ocean had been spectacular. In all his millennia on earth, Aziraphale had never once been to the ocean. Sure, he had seen it before, even swimming in the English Channel on one memorable occasion, but that was different. That bit of polluted water was nothing like the vast open space in front of him. Seeing it had absolutely taken his breath away, unlike anything in nature ever had before. Granted, the angel preferred to the comfort of the indoors and the companionship of a good book, a nice meal, and occasionally a certain demon, and had never much considered his surroundings. But still...

However, something was tugging at the back of his mind. It had been ever since he had woken up in the back of the van a bit earlier to the sounds of the ocean, and of Crowley snoring softly in the seat. He had gotten up and walked down to the beach, attempting to clear his head which was foggy from the stress of traveling the day before. He had slept more in the last 24 hours than he probably had in the last decade combined, and because of this haziness Aziraphale had taken a moment to notice the blanket, damp from the ocean spray.

 Suddenly, it all came back to him. The previous night, in the midst of watching the ocean, Aziraphale had grabbed Crowley’s hand. The act had been impulsive, and at the time the angel had only done it to ground himself. The weight of the world, the weight of heaven, was overwhelming and in the midst of the storm Aziraphale had needed nothing more than to feel that he was still on the earth, still breathing. Now, having slept it off, Aziraphale was feeling much more grounded, but something was still bothering him. Glancing back down at the blanket, the angel admitted to himself that his pounding heart had been not solely because of the energy he felt from the ocean. At first, it had of course, but Crowley had held onto his hand tight for what was possibly the first time in Aziraphale’s (very long) life. It was beyond the slight touches the pair had shared over the millennia – touches that had been brief and informal. This was different. It was a simple gesture, and yet it had sent a course of electricity up the angel’s arm. He had dropped the demon’s hand only moments later, afraid of the conversation it might prompt, and thankfully Crowley hadn’t said anything. He didn’t dare wonder if Crowley had felt the same way. That would only cause him to fret more. And yet…

A sudden squeal of rubber on concrete behind him snapped Aziraphale out of his reverence. Whipping around, the angel searched for the source of the noise. Oh. It came from the highway – someone had just applied their brakes hard. He continued listening, but didn’t hear anything else. That was good, nobody had been hurt. Still, the sound had snapped him out of his trance, and looking back at the van Aziraphale realized the door was open – Crowley was awake. Sighing, Aziraphale scooped up the blanket, gave it a good shake, and made his way back up to the van. He didn’t exactly want to face Crowley – the hand holding had been reciprocated and the demon had most likely thought little of it. But still, Aziraphale wasn’t sure what he’d do if Crowley brought it up.

Luckily, Aziraphale needn’t have worried. When he had reached the van, Crowley was squatting on the ground, having abandoned his pajamas in favor of a pair of his overly-tight trousers and a grey button-up, and was tending to a small fire. Scowling, Crowley looked up from his work, his face softening when he locked eyes with the angel.

“Mornin’ angel,” Crowley smiled, “I’m making some tea. Want some?”

What Crowley was making, thought Aziraphale with a smirk, was a mess. The kettle, perched precariously on a small metal rack above the flames, looked as if it had seen better days, and the water had been splashed everywhere. Crowley was poking at the flames with a stick, and was balancing two teacups in his free hand.

“Crowley, dear, I appreciate it but wouldn’t it be easier to just miracle some tea? All of this seems a bit, you know, excessive.”

Crowley’s cheeks turned a bit pink as he looked back down at the flames. “Yeah, but… I thought since we’d be camping like humans and all, we might as well cook like them too.” The demon seemed to be purposely avoiding Aziraphale’s eyes.

Aziraphale, despite himself, let out a chuckle. “Oh, I like that idea. It’s very poetic of you, you know. To truly live on earth before… you know. While we can.”

Crowley, still blushing, gave Aziraphale a stern look, as if instructing him to forget about the issue that had brought them halfway across the world in the first place. Aziraphale understood and, without another word on the topic of heaven, helped Crowley finish the tea. All in all, they only needed to preform one miracle when Crowley had caught his sleeve on fire and, with the smell of burnt cotton still in the air, the pair sat down on the rear bumper of the van sipping their tea.

“You know, Aziraphale,” Crowley said, breaking the peaceful silence after a few moments, “I don’t really have much experience with stuff like that. You know, cooking and whatnot. If you couldn’t tell.” The demon waved his newly-repaired sleeve in Aziraphale’s face, who laughed.

“Oh, I may have noticed a bit, dear.” Aziraphale laughed, rolling his eyes. “It’s ok though. You’ll learn. Soon you’ll be able to make really good tea!”

“Oi, what’s wrong with my tea?!?”

The angel smiled. “Oh, it’s not bad or anything, it’s just that tea is a bit of an art form. You know, you have to have the water at just the right temperature for whatever blend you’re using, and then you need to decide how long you should brew it for. Not to mention, of course, the issue of whether or not you should leave the leaves in while you drink it. I think that leaving it in for too long is a crime, but those Americans seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable. I guess, to an extent, it’s a matter of preference, but…”

Aziraphale was cut off by a dramatically exasperated sigh from the demon who had flung his body down onto the mattress in a show of over-the-top annoyance and was smirking up at the angel, long fingers clasped behind his head. “Angel, please, it’s just tea. As long as it tastes ok, I don’t really care, ya know?”

Aziraphale laughed, slightly embarrassed he had gone on like that. He knew, however, the demon didn’t really mind the angel’s tangents, he was just a drama queen. “The tea’s good, my dear boy. Don’t you worry your little head over it.” Aziraphale took another sip and admitted to himself that it was one of the better cups of tea had enjoyed, which had very little to do with the temperature at which it had been steeped at.

Having packed up their few belongings (they were celestial beings, so they weren’t weighed down with frivolous things such as clothing and toiletries), the pair was back on the road. Aziraphale was once again looking out the window, watching the trees flash past them. Crowley, seeming much more alert than the day before, had miracled some sort of contraption to appear on the dashboard. A compact disc player, Aziraphale thought with a grin. He knew that one. Currently, the song playing was one that the angel had heard before but which he didn’t know the name to. Crowley was humming along, evidently too self-conscious to sing again, but Aziraphale was still happy to see him pleased.

After a moment, the song ended. “I like that one, Crowley. It’s most definitely not Bebop. Who’s the composer?”

The demon burst out into a laugh, before turning to Aziraphale, his mouth agape. “Do you mean to tell me, angel, that you don’t know ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’? Satan, everyone knows that one! It’s a bloody classic!”

Aziraphale prickled, but appreciated the demon’s snide humor. Playing along, he said, “Well, dear, if you haven’t noticed, my music taste is less, well, loud, than yours. Now, if you won’t mind enlightening me, who is the composer?”

“Well, it’s Queen of course! I’m shocked, angel. You’d think after all the time I spent hanging around Freddie in the 70’s, you’d remember them!”

Aziraphale contemplated for a moment. “Yes, I seem to remember you hanging around with some shaggy-haired man for a while there. Was he the one with the tight pants?”

Crowley laughed so hard that the van swerved alarmingly before the demon was able to control himself and get the vehicle back on the road. “Yep, that was Freddie. Man, I miss him. Always made the best cocktails, too. Their music is good though, if its ok with you can I play you some more?”

Aziraphale smiled, suddenly feeling warm. Crowley seemed to love his music so much, and the fact that he was sharing it with him made him feel, well, special. He knew that Crowley wasn’t one to go around wearing his heart (or, in this case, love for 70’s rock) on his sleeve, so the fact that he trusted the angel with it made him smile. Sitting back, Aziraphale continued looking out the window as Crowley put a new disc in the player. Aziraphale was a little ashamed to admit that he didn’t love the music all that much – it just wasn’t really his thing – but he would never tell Crowley that. The music comforted Aziraphale too, but because watching the demon’s face light up as he hummed along was enough to make him feel at peace.

After a song ended (Aziraphale hadn’t paid attention to which one, it was something about a white man), a beautifully soft piano began to play. Much to Aziraphale’s surprise, however, Crowley suddenly grew tense, shooting a warning look at the CD player. Before Aziraphale could ask him what was going on, Crowley hit the power button roughly and stared intently at the road, as if trying to pretend the angel wasn’t there.

“Crowley, what on earth was all that about?” Aziraphale inquired, confused as to his companion’s sudden agitation.

“Ngk.” Was all that Crowley said for a few moments. Aziraphale didn’t want to press him, but he was concerned for the demon. Luckily, after a few moments, Crowley sighed and turned to the angel, slightly red in the face. “Sorry, it’s just that that song reminds me of Freddie, that’s all. We became pretty close for a bit there, and I sorta helped him write that one. And… I miss him. Sorry.”

Aziraphale smiled. “Oh, it’s ok. You just had me worried there, dear. I’m sorry you miss him, I know how hard it is. I’ve too become close with some humans over the years. It’s always hard, I know.” Aziraphale had turned to face Crowley, who was still flushed. Crowley flashed him a small smile.

“Yeah. Yeah, I miss him. Would it be ok if I played something else?”

“Of course.” Aziraphale soothed, turning to the CD player. “How ‘bout we listen to that ‘Underground Velvet’ one, or whatever it was. You know, the bebop.”

Crowley chuckled and retrieved the CD. As the demon went to switch the discs, Aziraphale briefly caught the name of the song Crowley had reacted so poorly to scrolling across the display. “Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy.” Huh, the angel had never heard that one.

Crowley couldn’t believe what an idiot he was. He should have known that song was coming up, and could have skipped it. Satan, it would have even been fine if it just played without him acknowledging it, but nooooo, Crowley had to go into full panic mode and slam the power button, drawing way more attention to himself than he had anticipated. He was aware his face was still red as he put the Velvet Underground CD in. He was glad he was able to pass off his emotions as being for Freddie, but he felt bad about it. He truly did miss the man, but that was not the sudden crack in his emotional wall.

Because, Crowley thought with a wave of sinking embarrassment, it wasn’t exactly a lie that he had helped with that song. He didn’t have a hand in writing it – frankly if he did he would have made it unbearable to listen to so that nobody would ever hear it – rather, he inspired it. Despite trying his best to repress the memories, the events of that one evening decades before came rushing back as they tended to do at inconvenient times. He and Freddie and the rest of the band had all been out for the evening and, after Brian, John, and Roger had left, the two went back to Freddie’s place in downtown London. Usually, the two just hung around, drinking and chatting and occasionally, if the demon was drunk enough, singing. However, that night was different and Crowley wished, a thousand times over, that he had just sobered himself up, got a cab, and went home. However, that wasn’t what happened. Crowley was absolutely plastered and, in a haze of drunken tears, had laid on Freddie’s couch and admitted something to Freddie that he had never even fully admitted to himself. Something that, despite all of his better judgement, he knew to be true: he loved the angel. He was in love with him.

The following morning, waking up in a twisted, aching mess in the musician’s living room, Crowley was mortified. As much as he hated to do it, he seriously considered wiping Freddie’s memory. The demon was beyond ashamed for his feelings, and he couldn’t let some human know that they existed. Maybe he’d get lucky and Freddie would have been too drunk to remember. He had managed to get up and was about to find the man when he heard soft piano notes floating in from the next room. Going in to investigate, he had stopped dead in his tracks. Freddie was playing the piano like usual, but what shook Crowley to his core was what he was singing. His deep voice flowed beautifully as he sang:

I can dim the lights and sing you songs full of sad things

We can do the tango just for two

I can serenade and gently play on your heartstrings

Be a Valentino, just for you

Ooh love, ooh lover boy

What’re you doing tonight, hey boy!

Set my alarm, turn on my charm

That’s because I’m a good old-fashioned lover boy!

 

Crowley was trembling. Not only had he remembered his sappy confessions from the night before, he had written a bloody song about it? He felt that he could discorporate on the spot. He nearly lunged forward, ready to blindly fight the musician, when Freddie noticed the demon’s figure in the doorway and smiled.

“Good morning, Anthony! I was thinking about what you said last night, you know, about your ‘angel’ and I just had to write a song about it! You seem to love him so much. It’s touching, really, it truly is, how you’d be willing to do anything for him.”

“No, I don’t! I won’t!” Crowley had snarled. He wanted to beat the man, then beat himself. Fuck, maybe he should take another century-long nap. “I…” he had started, but Freddie’s voice interrupted him again:

Dining at the Ritz, we’ll meet at nine precisely

I will pay the bill, you taste the wine

Driving back in style in my saloon will do quite nicely

Just take me back to yours-

 

“For God’s sake, Mercury! Shut up!”

Mercury, however, had not shut up and, well, the rest was history. The song was innocuous enough without context, but Crowley knew. He knew. It was a reminder of the first time he had admitted what he had repressed for millennia.

Luckily, thank God or Satan or whatever other power there was to thank, Aziraphale didn’t know. Glancing over for the first time in a few minutes, he saw that the angel was simply staring out the window, oblivious to the demonic crisis occurring only feet away. He wanted to disappear, to get wasted and never, ever think about his feelings again. However, he knew he had to do the right thing.

“Hey, angel,” he started, trying to sound nonchalant, “Where should we head? I’ve just been driving west, sorta, but I don’t really have a destination in mind.”

Turning from the window, Aziraphale smiled (melting Crowley’s heart just a little in the process – he was adorably oblivious) and chuckled. “Well, my dear boy, I had an idea. It might be a little silly, and if you think it’s a stupid idea I would fully understand, but…”

“Tell me, angel.”

“Well,” Aziraphale continued, “I was looking at all these lovely photos and, well, they seem so happy. They went to so many beautiful places, so I was wondering if we could visit some of them ourselves?”

Crowley smiled, and hoped the angel couldn’t feel the waves of love coming off of him. Although Crowley didn’t consider himself to be nearly as sappy or sentimental as Aziraphale, he knew just how much love was in this van and seeing the angel so excited about it made him willing to go anywhere. This was Aziraphale’s trip, and as embarrassing as it was, Freddie was right. He would do anything for his angel.

“That sounds like a brilliant idea! Where should we go?”

Aziraphale was quiet for a moment, eyes scanning over the photos. He had hunched his body slightly, to see them, and Crowley thought he looked as if he were back in his beloved shop. His fingers ran over each of the photos, delicately touching each as he did with his collection of books. Every few seconds, he would pause on one and examine it more closely, each time making a gentle humming sound and pinning them back up. Crowley suddenly realized that he was not watching the road, and was glad the angel was so engrossed in his task that he had not been able to comment on the demon’s reckless driving habits. Finally, Aziraphale’s fingers paused on one, and his face broke into a smile.

“Can we go here, Crowley? The description on the back says ‘Crater Lake National Park’.”

Smiling, Crowley took the photo from the angel’s outstretched hand. The small, faded polaroid showed a deep blue lake, surrounded by lush forests. “If you can find it on the map, we can go there Angel.”

Aziraphale looked up at the faded map, fixated by his task, and Crowley couldn’t help but feel the slightest bit guilty. He had miracled a GPS into the old van, but watching Aziraphale this absorbed was much more enjoyable.

“JESUS, ANGEL, COULD YOU BE A BIT MORE CAREFUL WITH THAT?”

The two had set up camp on the shore of Crater Lake (in an area a giant orange van should not be able to be parked, and yet it was) and were settling in for the evening. It was starting to grow dark, and even Crowley had to admit that the Oregon winds were a bit chilly. Thus, when he suggested the idea that they build another fire, the angel lit up. What Crowley had not expected, however, was for the Guardian of the Eastern Gate to pull out his signature weapon and light a nearby tree on fire.

“Sorry, dear, I just got a bit carried away.” Aziraphale snapped his fingers to corral the flames to the pile of kindling that Crowley had set up. “I just had a brilliant idea!”

“What would that be?” Crowley asked, hoping that it didn’t involve anything else catching on fire. He’d had more than enough of that for one lifetime.

“We should make s’mores! Oh, I’ve always wanted to do that!”

“What the bloody hell is a ‘s’more’?” The demon asked, unsure what the angel was talking about, let alone why he was so happy about it.

So, the angel showed him. Crowley was skeptical at first – he was never much one to partake in eating, let alone eat the weird white squishy things the angel had miracled into existence, but as soon as he took a bit he understood just why the angel was so excited.

“Do you like it, dear?” Aziraphale asked expectantly, eyes glinting in the firelight. Crowley sat across from him on a log, and watched as the angel toasted his own marshmallow above the flames. “Ah loik it. ’s gud, ahgel” Crowley mumbled through a mouthful of chocolate. Aziraphale laughed, and Crowley shot him a scathing look that quickly turned into a matching grin as the two of them continued to laugh as the sparks flew high into the night sky.

They stayed like that for what felt like hours. It probably was, Crowley reflected, but he didn’t have a good sense of time. They talked about nonsense, really. Crowley was careful to not let the conversation touch the topics of Heaven and Hell, but it was not difficult. The angel readily went on about the latest books he had collected, and what he was planning on getting Adam for his next birthday, and many other things. Crowley was half listening. He was somewhat interested in what Aziraphale had to say, but as the angel went on he felt his eyelids growing heavier and heavier. Over the years, the demon had become more and more accustomed to sleeping, and he actually began to become tired when he didn’t which was odd for a celestial being. He didn’t want to be rude, but as the angel began yet another story about a customer whom he had shooed out of the shop for attempting to buy his treasured Dickens collection, Crowley’s elbow slipped off of his leg where it was resting and he almost fell, jolting upright as his eyes flashed open. He was hoping he had been nonchalant about it, but as straightened his shirt, he noticed that Aziraphale had stopped talking and was smiling at him.

“Tired, are you dear?” The angel asked sweetly, but with a twinkle in his eye that made Crowley know he had found the situation to be amusing. Bastard.

“Oh, yeah, sorry. All these years on earth, ya know. I’ve started sleeping a lot.” Crowley was a little embarrassed, but was too tired to care much.

“Yes, I’ve noticed. I’ve never been one to sleep much myself, but don’t let me stop you. Go on to bed, dear, I’ll be here reading my books.”

Crowley thought about protesting for a moment, wanting to continue their time together, but he knew he was too tired. Giving Aziraphale a smile, Crowley stood up and stretched his legs, before making his way to the van. It was only a dozen yards or so away, but by the time the demon had reached it, he felt like he had walked for miles. It was for this reason that Crowley, without giving it a second thought, collapsed onto the mattress in the back and was asleep in seconds.

Crowley opened his eyes to the slightest rays of sunshine peaking in through the windows. It was still pretty dark, but he could tell he had been asleep for most of the night. Crowley rolled over, ready to get at least a couple more hours of shut-eye, when something struck him. He rolled over. Meaning he was laying down. Meaning that he had unwittingly fallen asleep on the bed. Crowley groaned softly, realizing his folly. He had taken the angel’s bed, and probably had forced him to sleep in the uncomfortable seat, or worse, prevented him from sleeping entirely. The poor angel, despite what he claimed about his sleeping habits (or lack thereof), was tired and Crowley felt like a prick for taking the bed.

He began to sit up, ready to find Aziraphale and gently force him to sleep on the mattress, when his arm struck something. Something next to him. Something warm and soft and breathing. For a moment, Crowley didn’t quite comprehend what he was seeing as he froze, half-sitting-half-laying on the mattress. There, under the tartan covers with him, was Aziraphale, snoring softly and seemingly unperturbed by the fact that the demon had just smacked him.

Crowley was lucky that he didn’t need oxygen, because he had stopped breathing. There, a foot or so away, was the angel, asleep with a peaceful look on his soft face that made Crowley tremble. It wasn’t that the sight in front of him was alien. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. Crowley had, on an admittedly less-than-occasional basis, dreamt of the angel being in bed with him. Not necessarily in a sexual way (that was something Crowley would never admit to), but just in a way that allowed them to be close. All the years that passed between their encounters were agony for the demon, and as much as he hated admitting it to himself, being this close to the sleeping angel was something that filled Crowley with an immense happiness.

Still. Crowley knew that Aziraphale had just fallen asleep on the only bed available, and as far as Crowley knew Aziraphale couldn’t care less that he was there with him. It wasn’t that the angel didn’t care for the demon – that was something Crowley was sure of – it was that in all their millennia together, Aziraphale had almost never touched him. Well, he had the night before as they stared at the ocean, but that couldn’t have meant anything, right? The angel just didn’t show his affection in that way. There was probably no deeper meaning behind the angel’s actions, and Crowley, despite every bone in his body protesting, knew he should probably just go sleep in the driver’s seat and avoid any potential problems.

Crowley began to slide the covers off of him gently, and was about to fold them over Aziraphale’s figure, when the unthinkable happened. The angel, still sleeping, had turned over and rested his arm on Crowley’s torso, gently pulling him closer. Crowley didn’t know what to do. The angel wasn’t doing this on purpose, was he? He was asleep, and the action had to be involuntary. Still… Crowley didn’t want to get up. What if he woke the angel up in the process? It would be hard to explain why he was slithering out of his grasp. And, feeling the angel’s soft hand wrapped around his slender hip, Crowley had to admit to himself that he didn’t really want to leave. The demon didn’t move a muscle; he just sat there watching Aziraphale and trying to decide that to do.

Luckily, he didn’t have to make a decision. Aziraphale murmured slightly with a slight smile playing across his face and, as if he had done it a thousand times before, wrapped his arm more tightly around Crowley, pulling him closer as he slipped his other arm around the demon’s shoulders. Crowley was in utter shock. Here he was, wrapped in the angel’s arms like he had imagined a million times before. Except, Crowley thought as he involuntarily settled in closer, it was a million times better. Where the angel’s arms were wrapped around him, his skin felt warm and almost tingly and Crowley couldn’t help but sigh. Never before had Crowley been touched in this manner, so lovingly and gently, and he wasn’t sure he could take it. He felt as if he were right where he belonged, as if he had come home to a place he had only dreamed about.

Breathing in Aziraphale’s smell of must and caramel and leather which Crowley had savored over the years, he let his eyes fall shut. He knew that in the morning the angel would wake up and realize what had happened, and they would probably never speak of it again. But that wasn’t for a few hours. Now, Crowley couldn’t help but nuzzle his face into the pillow next to the angel’s beautiful curls, and give into temptation. He was a demon, after all. Temptation (and sleeping) was his specialty.