Crowley hated Christmas for two reasons. A), it was always cold. Or snowing. Or raining, or even both. B), it was decidedly not a holiday his side participated in. Good will and cheer to all mankind? Bah. Love and the joy of giving? They happened to other people. Celebrating the reason for the season? Humbug. "Jesus" was hardly more than a dirty word to him.
And so around this time of year, Crowley normally tried to up his game, spreading more frustration and torment to counter the sickening levels of happiness and benevolence. He made rolls of tape mysteriously disappear just as unwitting housewives were making ready to wrap their million gifts. But Boxing Day was his favorite- then he would go to the nearest Marks and Spencer and back up the return line queue as far and for as long as he could.
The groans and moans of annoyed shoppers were like music to his ears.
It had been two years since the Apocalypse- that- was- not, and though his hatred of Christmas had not changed, the way he spent it had. Accordingly, it was Christmas eve, and so he was on his way to Soho, where a certain angel was waiting for him in his bookshop.
He entered the brightly lit shop and almost smiled at the sight of Aziraphale eschewing normal forms of levitation- namely, flight- in favor of more earthly means: namely, a ladder. He was perched on the top of it, reaching out at a dangerous angle to set a golden star atop a tinsel-and-ornament bedecked tree.
With a snap of his fingers the star vanished from Aziraphale's hand and rematerialized on the tree. The angel was momentarily confused, but quickly registered the newcomer.
"Crowley! I'm glad you made it. Though I was rather hoping to put that star on myself." The angel pouted slightly.
"Oh, come off it, Aziraphale," said Crowley. When Aziraphale didn't move, he added in a sterner voice, "No, seriously. Get down off that ladder before you fall and I end up having to explain why there's an angel with a broken neck in the same room as me." Aziraphale smiled tiredly and obligingly climbed down.
"As you say, my dear." When he touched ground again, he stood back with his hands on his hips and admired his handiwork.
"What do you think?" he asked, cocking his head to one side.
"I think it's ridiculous that you lavish so much time and effort on something so pointless. You know the Christmas tree was originally a pagan symbol, right?"
"Oh yes," Aziraphale affirmed delightedly, "but I suppose you can say we've adopted it."
Crowley strolled over to the tree and fingered an ornament thoughtfully.
"Adopted it, raised it, and loved it like your first born," he observed dryly. He had to admit that the tree looked rather nice, but he didn't think he would tell Aziraphale that. The angel already thought he was going soft; best not to fuel the fire.
"Perhaps you've taken the metaphor a bit too far," said Aziraphale. He sat in an armchair facing the tree and motioned for Crowley to join him in the adjacent seat. "How's the weather outside? Does it look like it's going to be a white Christmas?"
"It already is," Crowley informed Aziraphale bitterly. "Not that I was expecting anything different, but, well, one gets tired of the same thing year after year." The angel sighed, knowing the other man's dislike of snow.
"I supposed not every Christmas can be perfect," he acknowledged, summoning into being two glasses of eggnog on the end table between them. *1* "But we can come close." Crowley nodded appreciatively and took a sip.
This had become their tradition. A quiet talk on Christmas Eve, just the two of them, a chance to reflect on the year past and the one to come. They discussed themselves and the world and the latest innovations of Heaven, Hell and humanity alike.
They talked into the night as only old friends can, and neither of them took any heed of the late hour. At one point it must have passed into morning, but Crowley's next words were the only things to mark it.
"Your tree is missing something," Crowley observed to Aziraphale.
"There's nothing underneath it," Crowley said. Aziraphale shrugged.
"Seeing as you are practically my only friend, I suppose it makes sense." Crowley couldn't think of a response to that. It was true, and they both knew it, but it had somehow never been spoken aloud until then.
"I suppose it's my job to fix that, then," Crowley said, materializing as he did a small, neatly wrapped package under the tree.
Aziraphale looked at him with an expression of pleasant surprise as he retrieved the package and set it upon his lap.
"Well, go on then," Crowley urged.
The wrapping paper put up a brief fight, but Aziraphale won, and when he discarded it a silver and ruby encrusted snuff box was revealed.
He lifted it out reverently and held it for a moment, examining how the gentle lamplight reflected off its filigree.
"Where did you get this?" Aziraphale asked quietly, lost in reverence of the snuff box. "I haven't seen one like it since the Victorian era."
"I have my ways," Crowley said, smiling mysteriously. But Aziraphale looked at him with a pleading expression, and after a moment he relented and admitted,
"I picked it up in some little antique shop a few years back and I've kept it for a rainy day, or, as it may be, a snowy one." Aziraphale carefully tucked his present into his jacket's inner pocket.
"Thank you," he said simply but sincerely. Crowley nodded in acknowledgement. They were silent for a while, but in a companiable way. After a few minutes of this, a question began to grow in Crowley's mind in response to a curious emotion he had felt after seeing the angel's face light up at his present.
"What's that warm and fuzzy feeling you sometimes get called?" the demon asked slowly. Aziraphale had to smile.
"That, my dear, is called the joy of giving." Crowley definitely paled. He realized he had just fanned the fire in a big way.
"Oh. Because that is not what I'm feeling. Practically the opposite, in fact." Crowley had a very good poker face, but the extremely non-angelic smirk Aziraphale was wearing next to him was patiently chipping away at it. "Anyway, it's getting late," he announced, grasping at straws and lost dignity. The angel nodded and stood to accompany his friend to the door.
"Bundle up, it's still snowing," Aziraphale said. The angel helped the demon on with his coat, but as he opened the door he frowned at the still-falling snow. With a shrug, he miracled it snow from the sky. He felt his friend deserved some sort of holiday cheer.
"Thank you for tonight," Crowley said carefully, praying (in his own demonic way) that no one Down There heard him expressing gratitude to an angel. Aziraphale knew he was also thanking him for stopping the snow.
"You're welcome," Aziraphale replied, slightly surprised by his friend's good manners, but nevertheless pleased. It had been one of his better Christmases, all things considered. He would have been interested to know that as Crowley got into his car, he was also thinking to himself that maybe this Christmas business wasn't so bad after all.
*1* The kind spiked with liquor, of course.
A/N: Merry Christmas, everyone! Or Hanukah, or Kwanza, or whatever you celebrate. I'm a new writer in this fandom, so let me do a little self-promotion and ask you to check out my other Good Omens fic, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. It has only one lonely review on it as of yet. :( Leave me a nice holiday gift in the form of one, please? Oh, and PS: if this story and Crowley's snow-hatred bear a marked resemblance to Sivaroobini Lupin-Black's fic Snow, I assure you it is entirely coincidental. I wrote this last night and this morning I came across her lovely fic and realized I'd better put some sort of disclaimer in to avoid sparking bruised egos. Oh, and speaking of disclaimers, Aziraphale and Crowley belong to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and unless I am the long-lost bastard of one of them (and I highly doubt this), they are in no way mine. Thanks for reading!