“Come back to mine again?” Crowley said in his ear, practically a purr, and for once Aziraphale said yes without any dithering at all.
It was only the natural course of things, he thought with a smile as Crowley led him out of the Ritz after the celebratory dinner with their arms linked.
No reason to waffle anymore, what with no one watching, he thought as they kissed and giggled in the Bentley like a pair of courting humans, unable to keep their hands to themselves.
And it had certainly been a long time coming, he thought as he urged Crowley to hurry up and open his door, the demon cursing and fumbling with his keys until they were stumbling inside the flat, arms wrapped around each other, clothes halfway to being discarded. Aziraphale moaned, his wings quivering in the other dimension… and then stiffening when a truly horrid scent reached him. The unmistakeable rot-and-char of a demon who was not his demon in close proximity.
Crowley must have noticed too because he reared back with a vicious hiss, twisted halfway around to look at the open door of his office. This close, Aziraphale could see sweat breaking out along his hairline.
“You’ve got to be kidding me…”
Aziraphale grabbed his hand. Switch, he mouthed. But Crowley hesitated, frowning, and made motion of wait as he crept in the direction of the intruder. Aziraphale bit back a curse—he had really better work on that unseemly habit, angels did not curse—and tugged Crowley back by the collar of his jacket. Crowley stifled a yelp and shot him an annoyed look, and their silent argument consisted entirely of facial expressions, until they reached a compromise. Aziraphale went first, to shield against any holy water, while Crowley readied his wings to surround Aziraphale if any hellfire was forthcoming.
Hands clasped together tightly, they crept forward. Gingerly, Aziraphale nudged the office door further open with his foot and peered inside. “Let there be light.”
The light fell upon a desk and a throne. An ansaphone with a blank tape inside. An empty thermos.
And a demon sitting on the floor with his arms around his knees, rocking slightly, a chameleon perched on his head. Its scales had an unhealthy grayish pallor.
“Fuck me,” Crowley said and saved Aziraphale the trouble of saying it out loud.
“Is this…?” Aziraphale asked, though the answer was obvious.
“Yeah. That’s Ligur.”
“So you’re the angel boyfriend, I’m guessing?” Ligur muttered. It startled them both. On first glance, he hadn’t appeared very cognizant of his surroundings, but now Ligur was glaring at them both, seeming torn between rage and a kind of resigned, helpless terror. “What the Heaven did you do to me, Crowley? How am I still here?”
“Ah,” Aziraphale said, nervously doing up the buttons of his shirt and straightening his bowtie. That was going to take some explaining. His best guess was that Adam had something to do with this. Resetting everything back to the way it was meant to be, in the eyes of an eleven-year-old who thought happy endings could only be happy if no one died at all. And never mind how inconvenient it might be for everyone else. “Well. You see, my good fellow…”
“We brought you back.”
“We?” Aziraphale said incredulously, only to have Crowley silence him with a kiss. He leaned close to hiss in Aziraphale’s ear. Play along, angel.
“Brought me back?” Ligur echoed. “From where? How?”
“Oh, that’s for us to know,” Crowley said, that smarmy grin he had perfected over thousands of years coming out full force. “And that’s not the question you want to be asking right now. The real question is… do you want to keep on existing?”
Ligur snarled and made as if he meant to scramble up and lunge. Aziraphale stepped in front of Crowley and stared him down and tried his very best to look intimidating and unmovable. But Ligur only glowered at them both, teeth bared, and after a moment he seemed to surrender, slumping back down with a shudder.
“Hastur still around? Or did you melt him, too?”
Crowley let his grin fade. “No. Yeah, he’s still around. I didn’t touch him. Well, not with holy water anyway. And not for lack of trying.”
Aziraphale looked from one demon to the other, hopelessly confused. He tensed when Ligur grumbled something under his breath and clambered to his feet. But the other demon made no move to attack, one hand braced on the desk to steady himself. He still seemed a bit wobbly. Aziraphale supposed total obliteration followed by sudden resurrection could do that to a person.
“What do you want, then?”
Crowley hummed and made a show of thinking it over. “Oh, what do I want? Let’s see, there’s so many things I could ask for in exchange for your continued existence…”
“Really, my dear,” Aziraphale said under his breath. “Let’s not draw this out? I had very different ideas for how this night would end.”
“Right, yup, cutting to the chase! Have a seat, Ligur, I just need to make a call.”
One call and ten minutes later, Hastur came bursting into the flat. He was met with Aziraphale aiming a plant mister at his face while Crowley waited by the desk with a very long and Hellish contract laid out on the wood. Ligur, as instructed, had taken a seat on the throne and regarded them all with a sullen glower. Except for Hastur. Aziraphale was no expert on demons (aside from Crowley), but he thought Ligur’s reaction to the sight of Hastur could best be described as “neutral”, which was rather significant.
Hastur’s reaction, however, could hardly be described as neutral.
“Give him back!”
“Nuh uh!” Crowley said, hastily holding up the contract. “Not until you sign this non-interference agreement stating that no further attempts will be made by you or him to destroy, discorporate, maim, torture, manipulate, humiliate, etc…”
“Give him BACK!”
“Oi!” Crowley yelped when he was shoved back into the desk, Hastur gripping him by the lapels and shaking him hard.
“Now, stop that!” Aziraphale shouted and brandished his mister. “Put him down this instant! If you and your, ah… friend? Friend would like to leave this place alive, then I suggest you do as he says…”
Hastur snatched the contract from Crowley’s hands and scrawled a flaming sigil. Ligur leapt to his feet with a cry of outrage before the flames had even finished charring the paper.
“You’re not even going to try and discorporate him? What’s wrong with you, just rolling over and doing what he says? You didn’t even read the contract first! What kind of a Duke of Hell just ups and signs a contract without—“
Without a word, Hastur seized his ranting companion, and they both vanished in a puff of smoke, leaving behind a stench of rotting eggs and a few wriggling maggots.
“Well, that killed the mood,” Crowley muttered and flicked a maggot off his shoulder.
“Yes, it did, rather.” Aziraphake sighed and inclined his head. “Should we stay at the bookshop tonight?”
“And risk some random angels popping in for a visit? Hell no. Heaven no. Something no. I need to work on that…”
“Then where can we go?”
“I’ve got an idea,” Crowley said, smoothing back his hair and making a sincere effort at a flirtatious smirk. “How would you feel about the Ritz?”
Aziraphale gave him a puzzled look. “But we just came back from the Ritz. We had dinner…”
“They also have rooms there, angel. Beds and everything.”
It took a moment to click. “Oh. Oh.”
Minutes later, an angel and a demon were checking into their room at the Ritz with many a secretive and knowing smile. There was only one bed, along with an abundance of champagne and chocolates. We don’t need to know much beyond that.
Miles away in a graveyard, a pair of demons were likewise preoccupied. Teeth and claws were involved. And possibly maggots. We really don’t need to know much beyond that.
Suffice to say that all was right with the universe.