Notes: A Christmas fic that started out without meaning anything, but ended with a sort of spirit. This one really wrote itself, I hope it's enjoyable to everyone. I'm torn between two Aziraphale characters - the Zira who loves Crowley but doesn't dare to make a move, and the Zira who believes what he wants is pure, and isn't afraid of his love. Decisions, decisions!
It was dark out, and while the roof of the bookshop was not necessarily a secluded, quiet spot, the angel perched above the empty street needed nothing more to enjoy himself. After all, it was nice every so often, to taste what had once been freely yours - to be truly yourself for once, in your own body, with your own pair of wings. The angel valued those times more than any others, and tonight was one of the nights that he felt a need to get away from the bitter taste of human society and remind himself of the being he really was.
This night was perfect, alight with hymns and prayer, filled with a sort of crackling energy that had drawn Aziraphale out into the darkness to begin with. He could nearly taste the power of faith that hung in the air - a rare occurrence that was only real on a small handful of nights out of the year.
The angel grinned in anticipation as his shirt slipped over his shoulders, closing his eyes for a moment to trigger his transformation, simply imagining all the little threads and knots that kept his human body in one piece untying themselves and falling free, unwrapping his true body like a chrysalis falling away from a butterfly.
It was Christmas eve, a night when angels flew, said the humans. They were, for once, correct. Aziraphale was going to fly.
Wings unfolded from his spine gently, spreading opalescent feathers so fragile that in places the feathers blent into transparent mesh that traveled from the nape of his neck to the small of his back, where the delicate web of skin and wing melted together. Aziraphale hooked his thumbs into his pants, making a face as he did so - it was impossible to ignore the physical changes. All the - well - weight that he had slowly been earning was utterly gone, his hairless skin absolutely unmarred and thinner, stretched over the minimum of muscles, stronger in the shoulders than legs. He swept one wing out and admired the plumage hungrily, long starved for the sight and feel of his often-missing appendages - and other changes. Hair that had be slightly curly and short while human elongated, grew to strands that dripped like liquid over his shoulders, and his eyes - he knew - had taken on the pupil-less glimmer of the immortal folk.
He wondered if the muscles had atrophied much as he licked his lips in anticipation.
Pulling the slacks from smooth, overly long legs, the angel spread both wings and leapt, one all-important downstroke all that was necessary to render him aloft.
It felt good.
It felt angelic.
He laughed aloud, spiraling upwards at a dizzying speed, ears filled with wind and the tolling of church bells far below. Unhindered by need of breath or pulse, he pumped again, the raw energy of his flight providing a warm, glowing sort of satisfaction that nothing else had ever aroused within him - his wings, his body, his immortal soul, all in flight within an endless globe of stars, some pinpoints of far off cities, some true lights in the sky.
It was Christmas eve.
Regardless of what those lights were - stars or street lamps - the angel loved them. He loved being in his position, he loved the power and strength to help people, to make the world better - and if he came of as prim, as proper, as a push-over, so be it. The truth was that somewhere down there was something he could fix, and whether it was now or another six thousands years into the future, it was still a difference, and it was still his to make - the truth was that no matter how his demonic counterpart might tease, falling was not something Aziraphale feared.
Because he was an angel. He was a servant of God, however ineffable
that God might be. And tonight, Christmas Eve, was his night - this
flight alone was enough to make the lonely life on Earth bearable, the
grateful hymns, the fervent prayer - it was more than enough to lift an
Angels we have heard on high; sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strains
Glo-ria in excelsis Deo!
He was strong, he was beautiful, and while humanity might rub here and there and leave marks on his personality, his heart was as pure as it had been on that early morning of the first dawn, when he had peered down on unfolding lands and caught his breath at the sheer magnificent sight of a world being born.
He loved humans, too, and dove towards their earth, invisible in his flight, speeding overhead buildings and parks, watching the few that were around and about with affectionate eyes - they were the people of England, and on some level, they were his people - his to protect. Regardless of race, creed, denomination, religion, lifestyle...
People were warm in their beds, sleeping and dreaming, or up late sipping wine. Those of other faiths were active in their own rights, but to the angel, such didn't matter - they each had a night when their beliefs surfaced, each had a pinnacle of hope that the angel would reinforce when the day rolled around.
Aziraphale loved them, as an angel should. Aziraphale listened to their prayers on holy nights like these - there were many during the year - when people focused on their belief. He could taste their psalms and hymns and carols....
And they could sense him listening - they really could. He watched with a faint smile as here or there someone looked up in the snow-filled streets, as if expecting to see an old friend - but gazed upon nothing, and others rolled in their sleep, nightmares swept clean away by the presence above. Tonight there would be no sad dreams, Aziraphale smiled.
He could not imagine what it would be like to lose what he had. He could not bear the idea of ever changing, of risking this taste of the wind, the harmonies he could hear even above the discord of the city with senses attuned to much more than physical touch or taste....
Book clerk by day, angel by night. Aziraphale giggled at his own
double life, turning a loop that sent golden hair fanning outwards in a
manner that had long inspired many a poet fortunate enough to catch a glimpse
of an angel overhead. Someone was singing below.
Hark, the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn king
Peace on earth, goodwill towards men -
He lifted his hands, touched his face, closed his eyes. Androgynous. Needless. Endless, his angelic life. How he had missed it so, in his years of playing human. How hard it was to exist without tasting this raw perfection, without feeling so connected to the ineffable one that created him!
I am Aziraphale, he told the winds, bursting upwards, away from the human world or worship and prayer and into the surreal world above the clouds. I am Aziraphale, and that is all that I am...
He picked a cloud and stood for a moment, then flopped backwards, staring up at the sky above, a grin spread across his lips as he listened to the songs of the world below.
And he was still laying like that when his companion arrived.
Aziraphale had been expecting him. He had hoped.... known..... that Crowley would appear there in their world above the clouds, had been waiting, though he would not admit it to the demon himself. He had known that, after all, Crowley had nobody else to spend Christmas with - had no desire to be with anybody else, despite the occasion.
The angel cracked an eye and smiled faintly as Crowley landed on the cloud and peered down at him, his snake eyes glittering in the faint moonlight as he studied his angel. He was changed as well, impeccable, perfect wings so dark that behind them the sky seemed brilliant, there were claws tipping elongated fingers, scales tracing their way up his bare legs and naked torso, hair longer as well, a mane around his skull. His ears were long and pointed, fangs figured prominently in his smile, arching, scaled brows lifted as he spoke. "Hey, angel."
The demon settled beside him, leaning back on his hands and folding his wings neatly. They sat for a moment, content to let the carols fill the night, until -
Crowley's voice was very soft when he spoke. "What doess it feel like?"
"Come again?" The angel blinked at him.
"To fly like you do, on a night like thisss.... What doess it feel like, angel?" Crowley's head was tilted as he stared up, contemplating the stars, or perhaps the space between them. "It'sss been too long for me...to recall."
"It feels..." Aziraphale studied the profile of his companion through half-lidded eyes. "Good. Very good, and very complete. It makes me feel holy," he admitted, a bit shyly. "It's a reminder that there's always something I can give."
"You fly without a reassson, or a dessstination," Crowley murmured, voice hissing in the cool night air. "You fly jusst becaussse you can."
"Exactly," Aziraphale breathed, and closed his eyes, a smile tugging on his lips. "Because tonight I can, and should."
"I can't remember a time when I did that," the demon said softly.
"Well, you fell a long time ago. Before Christmas was much of anything. At all."
Crowley nodded faintly, remembering. It had been a long time ago, hadn't it? So long that all he could truly remember about Heaven was that when he had been cast away he had hated it, and everything about it. Hating was so much easier than missing what he could no longer have - and he had taken the path anybody in his place would.
"What does it feel like...." The angel's voice was soft and melodic as he turned his head and looked up at Crowley with plaintive eyes. "To want things? Or to...to sin?"
"It feelssss...good," Crowley licked his lips, smirking faintly. "It makessss me feel good... very complete, to ussse your own wordss. To take what I want from other people, or to make them do sssuch isss....ssss..... ssssatisssfying." He hissed the last word and licked his lips with a casually forked tongue.
There was silence. "I've never known that," Aziraphale said at last. "I've never had the chance to indulge myself like you do. I've never broken the rules....other than, well, us."
Crowley smirked, feeling pleased by the angel's wording. "Ussss?"
"You know," Aziraphale answered without blushing - could angels blush at all, Crowley wondered? "As friends. That's not exactly forbidden though...so it's alright."
"Ssstretching and breaking are very different thingsss," Crowley agreed. "Although I never knew angelss needed to make excusssesss."
"I never knew demons needed friendship, either," Aziraphale murmured in a tone that was almost coy - but that had to be Crowley's imagination. It was also his imagination only that wondered if Aziraphale had spread himself out artistically on the cloud's fluff on purpose. He swallowed. "But tonight is a night to spend with family....and friends. So I knew you'd show."
Crowley looked away and cleared his throat. "Did you ever wonder if maybe demonsss and angelss do grow up, after all?"
Aziraphale blinked, caught off guard by the change of subject. "What do you mean?"
"I mean just what I sssaid. Have you ever felt like you were growing up ssssslowly, but ssssurely? Like you were..." he struggled to put a finger on the sensation, and failed. "Changing insssside?"
The angel giggled. Crowley winced. "What?"
"I didn't know puberty affected the immortal folk as well," Aziraphale was evidently very amused.
"Fine. You don't have to conssssider what I think," Crowley grumbled, running his fingers through his hair. It wasn't as if the angel's opinion would change his own emotions, anyway, so why walk on such treacherous ground?
Aziraphale didn't seem to sense the hurt in his voice - just as well. Crowley sighed and studied his perfect, silver-lined claws.
"I do know what you mean, though," the angel broke the silence after a moment. "I think. I remember when I was very young, and took everything I was told with absolute certainty.... never questioning."
"When you did think to quessstion, you chossse faith over perssssonal pride," Crowley told him, clicking his claws together softly. "I chossse the other path."
"You mean you trusted yourself over anybody else, and that led to your fall," Aziraphale mused. "I've seen the same in many a human life, you know. Children chose either to follow their parents course, or change their life utterly."
"Yesss. And I remember that when I firssst found my new life, I threw myssself into it with passsion... Young passsion. I did everything I could and found a sssinisster joy in every moment of it. The firssst thousssand yearsss of my time on Earth wasss like that - I never hesssitated. Thingsss are different now...."
"Sometimes I think that the right thing, the hard, true course isn't fair," Aziraphale turned his head away, eyes still closed. Crowley felt a need to touch the angel and make sure he was real - being this close to him often felt like a dream. "Sometimes I think that if I let the sheep stray, they might live...happily ever after. Sometimes the right thing seems wrong." Aziraphale looked as if he wanted to say more.
"But even though you doubt ssssometimesss, you never falter. You're.... perfect." Crowley lodged his chin against clawed hands and closed his eyes for a moment with a sigh. It shouldn't still hurt, after six thousand years, to know that he lost something incredible when he fell from grace.... Yes, he loved his position now, loved the freedom to raise Cain whenever he like it, felt like he belonged here.. But still. To have once had that same perfect innocence that Aziraphale reveled in, and to have lost that due his own personal failure... It still rankled somewhere inside of him, like a long-healed scar.
"I wouldn't say that," Aziraphale murmured in a voice so soft that no mortal would have heard it. "Nobody can be perfect."
Aziraphale interrupted so smoothly that Crowley wasn't quite sure when his sentence had ended and the angel's had begun. "And if your theory is correct, Crowley, we're right at that point in life where we have to make our own decisions and stand by them, hm? We did that when that whole Armageddon thing rolled around," the angel mused, sitting up slowly.
"Crowley, what do you want for Christmas?"
The demon cracked an eye open, sighed, and shook his head. "What do you mean? I didn't think an angel would ssssupport the over-merchandissssing and modernization of a traditional religioussssss holiday."
"I have something for you, anyway."
Aziraphale's delicate fingers lifted, brushing against the demon's cheek, ghostly and soft, before they kissed. "Mmm-" Angel lips pressed upwards, warm and inviting, patiently waiting for Crowley to get over his surprise and wrap long, taloned fingers around his wrist. Moments later they separated, the angel licking his lips, eyes twinkling as Crowley stammered a response.
"O...oh. Oh. Er...." He swallowed, opened, then closed his mouth, a very small grin sliding onto his lips. "I didn't know you sssswung that way, angel."
"I only swing one way!" Aziraphale looked abashed. "Just one way...your way."
The demon's grin widened until he was flashing fangs, leaning forward and nipping against the angel's milky neck. "Cr- ...! Crowley!"
Crowley silenced that protest immediately, capturing his angel's lips and teasing them open, devouring him from the inside out with a talented, forked tongue. His hands caught up Aziraphale's wrists and pulled the angel closer to him, wings wrapping forward until they were surrounding with feathers - black and white - a beautiful grey. Crowley decided he had never seen such a lovely color before - never. Grey, that's what they lived in, that's what made the world complete - Shades of grey.
His lips were free again, and the demon blinked as Aziraphale smiled up at him, looking almost...smug. "Sin tastes like raspberries."
"Well, purity tasssstessss like tea." Crowley smiled as the angel dropped an affectionate kiss on the tip of his nose. "You know, I'm not ssssupposssed to enjoy the holidaysss," he confessed softly, "but ssssometimesssss I do."
"I'm not supposed to dislike humanity, but now and then I do, too,"
Aziraphale murmured in his ears. "It's not like morality is clear-cut,
Crowley. I'd say it's more like shades of grey, than anything else."
The angel ruffled his wings as he leaned forward, resting a blonde head
against the demon's shoulder.
Sing choirs of angels, sing in exultation!
Sing all ye citizens of heaven above!
Glory to God, all glory in the highest!
The people sang below, and Crowley's eyes widened. "What issss...?"
"Choirs of angels," Aziraphale breathed against his neck, making the demon tighten his grip around thin shoulders. "Can you hear them? They sing tonight, for those who care to listen. It is, after all, Christmas eve - and come dawn, Christmas day."
"Yesss...but I thought..." Surely demonic folk - evil - could not witness the singing of the purest of people... could they?
"You're not all bad, then."
"Maybe. But you can kisssss pretty damn well - sssso you're not all good, either."
"I'm close," Aziraphale purred against warm demon flesh. Crowley smiled and closed his eyes, letting one hand rest softly against the angel's blonde locks Demons were supposed to break the rules - that's why rules were there to begin with! - and Aziraphale felt so nice against his chest...when was the last time he had really enjoyed a Christmas eve?
With that in mind, he stroked Aziraphale's hair softly and whispered. "Can I have another pressssent?"
"Well, have you been a good little demon this year?"
"Of course you can."
O come, Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind.....
.....Bid envy, strife and discord cease; fill the whole world with heaven's peace.....