Coupling: ~~~~ I guess CxA?
Rating: Absolutely G
Notes: Flufflove. ^_^_^_^ Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Especially you single people. XD
Crowley quite liked living on Earth. Of course, some days it was more or less enjoyable than others, depending on who cut him off in his much-sported Bentley, or how many petty arguments he could spawn while meandering around town. Life was, more or less, boring for the demon, which of course led to more and more creative enterprises to spread the evil he had always been meant to spread.
It wasn't a bad arrangement, really. All the money he needed could be created with a snap of the fingers. With a wave of his hand he could garner the trust of the most auspicious peoples and apply that influence to any means he wished....
Still. Little things were required to make a life of six thousand years as a nearly omnipotent being as interesting as it had been the day he slithered from the ground up into the branches of a rather pleasant little fruit tree at the beginning of it all. Long ago he had learned to see the world in a day-by-day standpoint, noticing small things in order to keep his mind occupied and away from the fact that he had been waking up and moving and sleeping in the exact same pattern for far too long. He had done the math once, actually, at the turn of the last millennium....
365 days for 6,000 years. That was 2,190,000 days. Twenty four hours a day made 52,560,000 hours. 3,153,600,000 minutes. 189,216,000,000 seconds, and counting.
It got old.
And in that span of time, it was true that two things could really, really keep life interesting, to tell the truth. One of them was Aziraphale, and the other was humanity itself.
The beauty in humanity was that it had an endearing way of digging it's own grave, sometimes.... most of the time. It was a human thing, untouched by angelic or demonic influences - they enjoyed the hell out of backing themselves into corners.
And that was why this day was Crowley's favorite of all, one to be looked forward to every year with anticipation rivaling that he had felt for Armageddon. Now, with that little Incident taken care of, this day was all the more important to him in all of his demonic un-soul.
He could smell the fear.
Anthony J. Crowley settled back and swirled the crumble remains of his café sorbetto with a grin that made several passing individuals give him a wide berth. The special part of *this day* was that humanity, in that endearing way it managed to do itself in, had created it.
And it was a beautiful thing.
So, Crowley, who usually avoided malls like the plague, was dressed up nicely, with his soft leather jacket and black jeans, his sunglasses, and a thin black shirt beneath that, one of the ones people sold in those rare American stores where salespeople were more pierced than not, and hadn't seen their natural hair color in ten-odd years. It read 'One by One the Penguins Steal my Sanity'.
Crowley rather liked it.
Back to the day at hand, though.
Below him there was a rather hysterical exclamation as someone found something perfect, and the men next to him closed in immediately. Crowley listened with satisfaction as a ripping sound filled the mall, followed by the sounds of a fist fight. He glanced over at the only florist in the building with a look that gave her flowers quite a terminal illness - they looped over, doubling in on themselves like wet noodles as Crowley laughed into his palm. Next stop - the jewelry department, where earrings would lose their mates and chains would be inexplicably snapped in two. Candy? A wave of his fingers installed the newest of chocolate-covered roaches in every box, for a special Valentine delight.
Someone screamed, and Crowley smiled a snake-y smile, standing up with a rustle of leather and cloth. As he moved, a vague shadow of dizziness passed over his mind.
"Un..." For a moment the demon hesitated, raising a hand to his temple, then pushed the fleeting sensation aside as he swept his coat over his shoulders. Suddenly the loud, drumming sounds of humanity buying, selling and panicking was a little too much for his senses to bear... Crowley moved to stand outdoors and catch a breath of air.
He noticed the changes in his sense of balance immediately as he stepped out into the dull dimness of rain, which slicked back his dark hair and spattered against the leather of his long trenchcoat. Crowley had called in favors with several higher ranking demons for the weather-tweaking that had been necessary to make this day as miserable as possible - but it had worked, and now the cheerful Valentine's day that had been forecast had turned into a dreary drizzle, cold and permeating. The park was absolutely empty as Crowley sauntered out of the mall, hands buried in his pockets - and he was glad. Because moments after stepping into the cold, he felt a chill hiss down his spine, making him shiver.
The demon made a small noise of concern, tightening his jacket around his torso. The wind cut right through him like a hot blade, making him shiver again. Golden eyes stared around the park for some cause of the discomfort, but found nothing amiss. No young demons playing tricks, no human tampering, no angel... "What..."
Another set of shivers, and Crowley felt something in his chest constrict almost painfully. Shocked at the sensation, the demon moved to ignore the pain his body was feeling - but found that impossible. Stunned, he opened his mouth and struggled not to breath.
Incredible pressure, building in his chest, making his blood pound and his temples throb, burning his throat -
Crowley's lips parted.
He coughed. Just once.
But it was enough.
The demon staggered backwards, hands clutched to his throat. An attempt to breath in was met only with painful rasping, like nails were raking down his throat. He shivered again and looked up, flooring by the experience of coughing for the first time ever.
Demons didn't cough. Something had to be wrong. Maybe holy water was near, or a church, or - something tampering with his human body -
Crowley spun around on one foot, but the motion only gave birth to another assault of sensations - his vision swam as if stung by wind, and his head -
"Oooh," the demon pressed hands to his temples, struggling to be as small as possible. All of the frivolously evil pastimes of Valentine's day were forgotten as he clutched at his ringing skull. "ah...."
The moment Crowley even considered having a stomach ache, it burst forth from his gut with incredible, queasy, nausea-inducing force. The demon groaned, one hand moving down across his mouth. He had been drinking only moments beforehand... so that meant...
He obliterated the traces of coffee from his body with one fell thought - at least the ache in his stomach was somewhat taken care of.
Something was utterly wrong with him, Crowley realized, and he narrowed his glimmering, reptilian eyes into a squint, following the path down and away from the mall. He needed...
Aziraphale's name came to mind immediately. The only other heavenly being stationed on the planet earth would certainly know what to do - angels specialized in useless things like healing and kindness, so... Crowley took one hesitant step forward, stomach churning, head pulsing - and then another. The wind gusted by, and the rain picked up, dumping liquid down the back of his trench coat.
Crowley tried to concentrate on the freezing drops as he staggered down the pathway, collapsing in a bench beneath a heavily-leaved tree when he reached the street.
Golden eyes stared about, located a payphone, and closed for a long
moment. He managed to stand, to dial -
It rang forever.
"Hello, Books Throughout the-"
The demon almost smiled. Aziraphale changed his bookshop name whenever he got bored, and this one seemed relatively new. "Aziraphale?"
"Crowley! I thought it was you. Nobody ever calls." Aziraphale sounded utterly elated to hear from his companion.
"You doing anything?"
"Not really. Too nasty out." A pause. "Unless you're inviting me somewhere...." Another, longer pause. ".....I can hear traffic. Are you standing in the rain?"
"Please come get me," Crowley whispered, pulling at the phone cord with numb fingers. "I'm in the park."
"...what?" The angel's voice sounded suddenly concerned, and Crowley smiled faintly in the rain. "My dear, you must speak up, I can't hear you. Come get you? Why?"
Crowley swallowed, gagging at the painful sensation of nails being raked down his throat. "Angel," he croaked with a cracked, weary voice, "I think I'm sick."
Hanging up the phone, the demon allowed his legs to give way, flopping wetly down against the park bench next to the phone. He hadn't meant to lean back, really, and hadn't meant to close his eyes - but he had no recollection of the angel approaching, tutting over his condition, and hiring a taxi to take them both home.
When Crowley opened his eyes, he found that his body was in the most uncomfortable state it had ever been in. His eyes were watering. His throat was dry, his stomach distinctively unnoticeable, but threatening to act up if anything found its way there.
He tried to move, and wished he hadn't.
"Shh, Crowley. You've just caught a bit of a cold."
The demon groaned, and felt something cool and damp slip across his forehead. Blasted angel didn't have to sound so cheerful about the rules of the universe changing about on them! Demons didn't get sick. Neither did angels. He had gone six thousand years without having to worry about diseases of any sort, and suddenly he was down and out with the most miserable feeling he had ever experienced - and Aziraphale had the nerve to call it a cold.
He croaked something disgruntled at his caretaker. "No, shh. How about some water?"
Crowley considered knocking the angel's hands aside, but seeing as his eyes were closed (he would probably miss) and water did sound good, he merely parted his lips.
It was cool, and made his throat feel a bit better. Wetting his mouth, Crowley spoke. "Demons don't get colds."
Aziraphale laughed, a musical sound that rang in Crowley's ears much longer than it should have. He chalked it up to the headache. "My dear, everybody gets colds." Aziraphale smoothed the covers around Crowley's figure with an almost motherly hand, smiling softly. "They're a wonder of the world...absolutely inescapable. I thought you knew we could come down with one!"
"You ever gotten a cold?"
"I can heal myself," the angel said, almost apologetically. "I don't get sick."
"I can't. You're evil."
Crowley's headache was getting worse, and he lifted a hand to his temple, cursing his nature for a very long moment. "My... everything hurts."
Without protesting, Crowley sipped down the medicine pushed to his lips - it tasted disgustingly bitter. He made a face and the angel giggled again, patting his head absently. "Shh. That'll make it feel better."
"Mmhmm. Honestly, Crowley... holidays are always so interesting with you around."
The demon made a noise of exhausted agreement and closed his eyes again.
Sleep, he discovered, was difficult. Even a heavenly being has difficulty relaxing into familiar, restful patterns when every portion of his body was giving voice to an equally clamorous complaint - legs were sore, fingers cold, stomach empty, eyes watery, mouth dry, lips cracked, ears ringing, head aching-
Crowley curled up against the angel's soft blue sheets and felt very sorry for himself. He was just beginning to convince himself that Aziraphale had somehow forgotten his miserable presence when the angel came back through the door, carrying a tray and wearing a smile.
"Ah, you're awake," Aziraphale beamed. "You slept a few hours. Do you feel any better?"
"Would you like some soup? I cooked it. All by myself. Canned, yes, but I'm getting much better with the stove..."
The demon nodded slightly, not trusting his voice.
"Wonderful! Sit up now, or you'll choke on it." Aziraphale set the tray next to the bed and settled himself next to Crowley, cross legged. He was wearing slacks, along with a fuzzy green rib-necked sweater that would have looked ridiculous on anyone but him, Crowley had to admit. Thin-rimmed glasses were perched on his nose, and his feet were bare.
Crowley noticed, then, that he was naked. "My clothes...?"
"I'm drying them out for you - I'll be careful with the coat." The angel scooped up a spoonful and beamed at his demonic associate. "Don't worry about a thing - just open up!"
"Aziraphale," Crowley looked indignant, despite his illness, "I can feed myself, you know."
"Yes," the angel's eyes sparkled (there was no other word for it) behind his glasses. "I know that. But I've never gotten to nurse-"
"I am not being nursed!"
"- someone back to health before, so I have to do it right." Aziraphale pulled the bowl into his lap and grinned at Crowley. "Besides, this isn't a bad way to spend Valentine's Day."
"Speak for yourself," the demon muttered, opening his mouth obediently. After a swallow he paused to consider his situation, and frowned. "You know, I rather like this holiday. So many things can go wrong with just a little nudge in the right direction - and I'm not out there mucking it up. I'm slacking in my duty as a demon!"
"Well, you've tempted yourself sick," Aziraphale smiled gently, sliding another spoonful into his companion's mouth. "There'll always be another Valentine's Day, anyway. I don't mind the company."
The soup wasn't half bad, it was warm and didn't seem to upset his stomach. Each time Crowley had to lift his head and swallow, Aziraphale's warm eyes followed the movements - and that in itself made Crowley feel a bit better. It was strange that simply having someone to sit by his bed made being sick much more bearable - no less embarrassing, but not utterly terrible.
Still, he was coughing, and aching, and -
"Pills, too," Aziraphale seemed uncannily good at reading his mind. "Try one of these and two of the little red ones."
"Drugging me up..."
Aziraphale smiled patiently. "Just for a bit, dear. Go back to sleep."
The next time Crowley woke, he felt good enough to pad down the cool stairs with a blanket wrapped around his waist. The demon found Aziraphale curled next to the hearth, sunken back in a deep, worn couch with a book in his lap and a cup of tea at his side. The demon rubbed his eyes, licked his lips, called out. "Angel-"
"Oh, Crowley, you shouldn't be out of bed," came a disapproving reprimand. Crowley sighed. "Come on, back up the stairs."
Crowley stuck his lower lip out, peering accusingly at the angel, shivering unconsciously - Aziraphale noticed immediately and folded the book in his lap. "It's lonely up there. Cold and lonely."
"Would you like me to bring my book up?"
"What book is it?" the demon croaked more than spoke.
"A story about a school of witchcraft and wizarding," Aziraphale smiled faintly, tapping a long finger against the cover. "Very popular, I understand. I'll read it out loud if you like."
Crowley considered for a long moment whether or not something like curling up with an angel and a good book was passable in the books of Hell - he gave in without much of a fight. The prospect of a warm bed and an angelic voice was very tempting - and it really was cold on the stairwell. The demon nodded, sneezed, and retreated into the bedroom.
That was how he came to spend the rest of Valentine's Day laying next to Aziraphale beneath heavy blue covers, watching the angel's lips move as he devoured the words of a familiar fantasy story. He watched the light of the lamps play across thin glasses and slightly chubby fingers, watched the rising and falling of one be-sweatered chest...
And his heart constricted when a smile was flashed his way.
Crowley didn't know it then, didn't feel it coming at all - and wouldn't notice the way he feelings had changed for quite some time. He liked living on Earth, liked being a demon, liked Valentine's Day. He liked Aziraphale.
It would take a very long time for the word 'love' to occur to the demon, who made mockery of such emotions on a daily basis, and had never given a thought to what it meant - but it would, in time. Someday it would surprise, scare, and thrill him - and someday it might make him happier than he would ever guess.
On that evening Anthony J. Crowley fell in love.