[personal profile] a_fell
It's late when he arrives upstairs, so his knock is quiet and hesitant. When there's no answer, he opens the door (it might have been locked, but that is easily circumvented) to find Crowley sound asleep on top of the bedclothes.

He's quiet crossing over to the bed, and his movements are every bit as hesitant as his knock had been. He looks her over from head to toe; she seems to be breathing normally, hissing very slightly, and she's obviously in one piece aside from the empty - and half-empty - Atlantean bottles in the vicinity of the room's two armchairs.

Aziraphael lets out a small sigh - somewhere between relief and despair - and cups his hands over Crowley's head. He can't clear the Atlantean out, but at least he can ease the hangover that's sure to come.

A few minutes later, after an intense internal debate, he settles in one of the armchairs. At first, he turns to a discarded paperback for distraction; it's sufficiently terrible that, two chapters in, it finds itself suddenly replaced by a volume of poetry from Aziraphael's back room. But not even Neruda can hold the angel's attention for long, not when every few lines, his gaze flicks anxiously to Crowley's face instead. Eventually, resignedly, he sets the book down again, and whiles away the time until she wakes picking at his new manicure and trying not to stare.

Date: 2008-10-17 03:08 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
Small mercies: there's no window in the room, no sunlight to slant across the bed, slowly creeping up the mattress until it shines through sleeping eyelids. There's only the dimmed lamplight, warmer and more forgiving than the day.

In here, it could be any time at all.

But it isn't; it's morning, and some things are as regular and predictable as the hidden sunrise itself. Although the room is perfectly warm, Crowley huffs silently in unconscious complaint, hunching slightly in something that isn't quite a shiver. Her bare feet curl against the blanket.

After a moment, she reaches out, hand questing instinctively - plaintively - across the bedclothes. Almost entirely insensible or no, Crowley's still a demon, and this much she knows without even needing to be aware: there's an angel in the room.

Date: 2008-10-17 03:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael might be trying not to stare, but he's not entirely successful; from the moment Crowley's breathing changes, he's tensed and watching every movement. When she extends a hand, he's out of the chair and next to the bed before he's even had a chance to think about it.

Once there, he does have that chance to think about it. He takes her hand anyway, holding it delicately in both of his.

"My dear," he begins, and when he can't think of anything else, he leaves it at that.

Date: 2008-10-17 03:50 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"Nrghf," comes the intensely familiar grumble, muffled by the pillows. After a moment, when this does not have the usual result (a net increase in the amount of both angel and duvet in Crowley's immediate proximity), her fingers tighten a little between Aziraphael's.

Date: 2008-10-17 04:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
He finally sits on the bed, raising her hand to deliver a quick kiss to the knuckles, then glancing up to see if there's any reaction. He still looks wary, but it's outweighed at the moment by concern.

Date: 2008-10-17 04:20 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
With a grunt of satisfaction, she wriggles a little closer - but finds a hip instead of a shoulder to tuck her head against, and no answering arm slung across her midsection. It takes a little while, but finally some minuscule hindsection of her brain notes that this is deeply irregular, and - after a few seconds more - one bleary yellow eye slits open.



The hand in Aziraphael's stiffens.

Date: 2008-10-17 04:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Good morning," he says, and drops his eyes once more to their hands. His own tightens slightly in response.

Date: 2008-10-18 04:45 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
For a few moments, there's no response, and - and maybe it's because Crowley is swallowing, trying to wet her throat enough to speak. Maybe that's it.

"Morning," she says then, without inflection.

(She doesn't pull away.)

Date: 2008-10-18 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
He takes the fact that she doesn't as an encouraging sign. It's a stretch, perhaps, but this is no time to be picky.

"How are you feeling?"

Date: 2008-10-18 05:04 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"Fine," she says automatically, and winces when her voice cracks on the word. Note: water.

She stays put, she leaves her hand in Aziraphael's - that's a good sign. But she isn't complaining.

That's not.

Date: 2008-10-18 05:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Good," he says, nodding vaguely, "that's good. I, er." He looks around the room, but no distractions obligingly present themselves.

Date: 2008-10-18 05:38 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
Her first thought is: he doesn't know. That's why he's here.

Distantly, then, it occurs to her that Aziraphael can probably feel her heartbeat, pressed up against his leg. That's what makes her move in the end, pushing herself slowly into a sitting position with an absurd degree of care for -

Her head doesn't hurt. Not as much as she thought it would.

Date: 2008-10-18 05:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael tries to gather enough nerve to speak.

"Er. It's not hard to see that you'd prefer to be left alone," he begins, carefully. "But last night you were upset. Angry. So I just wanted to--" He breaks off, because 'make sure you were all right' is accurate enough, but he'd known that Crowley was more or less all right as soon as she calmed down and Aziraphael had stopped getting stabs of rage through his lapel.

"I wanted to be here," he concludes weakly.

Date: 2008-10-19 03:41 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"Oh," she says.

Fuck, is all. Fuck. She's just woken up, and her cheek still shows red lines from the wrinkled pillowcase, and she knows her expression isn't guarded enough to hide the prickle of - yes, there it is - guilt (shame) that creeps down her neck and makes her ribs seem too small.

Small. That's it.

She feels small.

Date: 2008-10-19 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
There's a strand of hair that's not quite falling in Crowley's eyes, but is definitely in her face. He wants very badly to brush it away, but he's still feeling too skittish.

"You didn't go home last night," he says instead, hesitant.

Date: 2008-10-19 04:12 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"No."

Home. It means the bookshop, of course. But these days, it refers just as much to Crowley's flat, where (by unspoken agreement, and silent compromise) Aziraphael is as likely to turn up as Crowley is to wander into the bookshop - and where they spend perhaps half the nights in any given week.

It's starting to look like someone lives there.

"I didn't want - " she says. "I had a long day."

Date: 2008-10-19 04:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Yes," he agrees, "I tried your flat first. I thought you did, normally, when you had to-- When you took your feather off."

He glances down at their hands, then up again, and it comes out in a rush.

"Are you all right? Is there anything I can do?"

Date: 2008-10-19 04:45 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley

"I'm fine," she repeats. "I'm really - "

Her voice cracks again, and that's enough excuse to turn away for a moment - to clear her throat, and reach for the glass of water that's suddenly sitting on the bedside table.

Aziraphael wants to know if there's anything he can do.

Date: 2008-10-19 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
He can't resist it any longer; he reaches out and gently brushes the strand of hair away. His hand lingers a little longer than absolutely necessary, perhaps.

"You don't have to tell me anything you don't want to," he says, and it feels like he's walking a long distance on very thin ice. It's more difficult to say than he would have thought.

"I'll leave, if you prefer. I'd rather not, though."

He could use any number of terms to describe Crowley right now, but 'fine' is not one of them.

Date: 2008-10-19 06:09 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"What's to tell?" she says; a challenge, or it would be, were not all the belligerence drained out of her after last night.

Regardless, it's barely out before she interrupts herself with, "But no. You don't, er, you don't have to leave."

Date: 2008-10-19 07:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Thank you," he says, and manages to keep the automatic wince at her first comment to a minimum.

He readjusts his position on the bed; when he settles, he's just a few inches closer.

Date: 2008-10-19 07:39 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (momentarily out of action)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
Crowley doesn't move - not closer, but not away, either. Instead, she just stares down into her glass of water, because she knows if she looks up (because she caught the wince out of the corner of her eye) -

He's looking at her like that.

After a moment, it occurs to her to answer Aziraphael with a rough shrug of her shoulders.

Date: 2008-10-19 07:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
"Crowley," he says after a few moments' silence.

"What is it? Something isn't right, and I don't - I don't know what to do."

Date: 2008-10-19 07:53 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (she keeps her moet et chandon)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
First, she finishes her water. Leans over to place it back on the bedside table. A droplet trickles down the outside of the glass and seeps into the grain of the wood. Her eyes land on her sunglasses, and for the briefest of moments her fingers twitch toward them.

Sitting back (sunglasses-less, throat less dry), she says, "Sometimes, I think you forget what I am."

Date: 2008-10-19 08:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-fell.livejournal.com
Aziraphael starts to respond, then stops.

"I suppose that I don't think about it much, no. You're Crowley, and most of the time the details don't matter."

Date: 2008-10-19 08:19 am (UTC)
aj_crawley: (she keeps her moet et chandon)
From: [personal profile] aj_crawley
"And what - "

Now she looks at him. Her eyes aren't hard, or angry, but -

(And yet, hesitation. Hard to get the words out.)

"What sort of demon would let themselves be made to feel   ashamed for - for this?"

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