"To the world," said Crowley, the only being who could truly understand just what the world meant to Aziraphale. His voice hitched with emotion, which filled Aziraphale with tenderness.
"To the world," he replied softly. They chimed their glasses.
They had averted Armageddon, thwarted their respective head offices, and their most treasured possessions were pleasantly unsinged. The world was their oyster. (They'd just ordered oysters, too.) But there was something about this perfect Sunday afternoon- the sheer, fresh, openness of it all- that made Aziraphale nervous. What would they do next?
What were they even doing now? Generally when Aziraphale and Crowley met, they were trading favors, solving problems, or at least having some pretense of an argument. We're on opposite sides, Aziraphale had reminded them both, oh, how many thousands of times? But now they weren't. Now they were just two morally ambiguous principalities, toasting the world, enjoying each other's company.
When conversation stalled, Crowley raised his glass again and said: "To my car." Much to Aziraphale's relief. He soon followed up with a toast of his own: "To A.Z. Fell & Company." As the oysters arrived, they finished off the champagne with "To Agnes Nutter!"
Conversation began to flow easier. Mostly giggling reminisces of their highly eventful weekend. "Did you see Shadwell defending his dear Madam Tracy?" Aziraphale asked.
"Who? Ah, yes! The 'whore of Babylon,' he called her?" Crowley grinned. An elderly couple at the next table tsk-tsk'd at him.
"You watch. That might become a pet name between them, in time. I do believe they might actually be in love."
"Angel. You always think humans are falling in love! It's annoying, honestly. Almost as annoying as how often you're right."
"I've always found the capacity for love, in all its forms, to be one of humanity's more… endearing characteristics," Aziraphale admitted. "D- don't you?"
"Don't I what?"
"Well. Deep down don't you think it's n-" Not "nice," Aziraphale chided himself. He hates that word. "Don't you think there's something… wonderfully human about… falling in love?"
Crowley slumped a bit further in his chair, planting his chin in his palm, facing Aziraphale with a blank look on his face. Well, most of his face. He could be staring at Aziraphale with deep longing in his eyes, for all the angel knew. Those infernal dark glasses made it impossible to tell.
Aziraphale wished he had the nerve to tell Crowley to take the glasses off. Or to ask him: Since we're on Earth's side now- 'gone native', so to speak- do you think it might be possible for us? To fall in love? I mean. Strictly hypothetically speaking, of course…
Crowley cleared his throat. Their waiter came to take their dessert orders: a blissful distraction. Crowley ordered a bottle of wine, as well.
"Something to wash down the crepes, eh, angel?" he loudly teased. Soon they were both guffawing over Paris again. Their mirth was fueled by alcohol, and steered by avoidance of more awkward topics. Aziraphale miracled their voices down a few decibels. Still, other diners turned and stared; the pair was growing far too loud and sloppy for the pre-theater hour.
Their desserts arrived, along with a bottle of Pinot. Crowley sniffed the first pour. "Mm! Good stuff!" he declared. "Erm, what's it called again?"
The sommelier pursed his lips in irritation. "Stargazer, sir."
"Stargazer! Right. Knew I ordered something with a clever name. Keep it coming, please. There we go. To Alpha Centauri!" he practically shouted.
Aziraphale began planning how they'd get out of here with their dignity intact. At least one of them would sober up when no one was looking, and then-
He'd left the Bentley at Crowley's flat.
He couldn't imagine Crowley walking and taking public transit now. Not even sober. Aziraphale had been in that body just a few hours ago, and it was in shambles.
The jaw, ribcage, and even the pelvis were all a bit off-kilter. The knees were stiffer and more bruised than one would expect- even considering Crowley had dropped to them yesterday in mourning for his Bentley. The fingers tended to bend in unusual ways: mostly painless at the time, but when Aziraphale woke up this morning they were stiff and curled, almost arthritic. The ankles, shoulders and elbows all seemed to flop about willy-nilly- until Aziraphale dressed in Crowley's clothes, at least. The tight boots, jacket, and those ridiculous trousers actually had a sort of bracing effect.
Was that why Crowley had chosen such a wardrobe in the first place?
There was a dearth of good breakfast foods in Crowley's flat, and this body didn't seem to have much of an appetite anyway. Aziraphale had just a pear and a cup of tea before setting off for his showdown with hell. Because it was such a glorious morning- and because frankly, he was afraid to drive the Bentley- he decided to walk and take the bus to St. James Park. He had hoped a little light exercise would help Crowley's body. And maybe it did, in some ways. But not all.
The pear didn't digest well; it even gave him a touch of heartburn. The hips didn't like the hard bus seats. Some of the muscles seized up, and Aziraphale found himself limping off the bus. Small miracles and gentle stretches got him walking straight by the time he reached their usual bench. But his gait still didn't look or feel quite 'normal.' The feet shuffled close to the ground, with most of the body's weight on the inner soles. The knees, hips and shoulders constantly swayed to counterbalance each other, creating a kind of jaunty swagger despite the low profile of the feet.
He'd seen this walk many times over the centuries. Secretly, he was quite fond of it- as an outside observer. But now that he knew how it felt…
"I was thinking," Crowley drawled loudly. "Why do we always go back to yours? Let's go back to mine this time. I can introduce you to the plants!"
People were glancing over from other tables. There was a whisper of 'weed.' Aziraphale frowned.
"Are you… sure that you're up to it?"
Crowley arched his left eyebrow. "Up to it? What exactly are you implying, angel?"
"I only meant the walk! I left the Bentley at your flat!" Aziraphale protested louder than he meant to, drawing more stares.
"And why wouldn't I be up to a walk?" Crowley asked icily.
"Oh, come off it! I was inside you this morning! I know-"
The maître d' cleared her throat, startling the two principalities. (They hadn't realized she was standing by their table.) "Gentlemen. I'm afraid I must ask you to take this conversation elsewhere."
"Oh. Right." Aziraphale looked vaguely into the middle distance. An outside observer might think he was in shock from the embarrassment of it all. In truth, he was working a miracle on the Ritz's bookings for that evening.
Crowley attempted to sober up so that he could summon the Bentley. But that particular miracle required tensing the shoulders and jaw; he hardly got three drops back into the glass before he winced and had to stop. He snarled, pushed back his chair, and began to march out.
"I mutht athk you to take thith conversation eltheWHERE," he mocked beneath his breath.
Then he tripped over the dining room threshold and crashed to the floor.