20 | Three Meetings
Aziraphale spotted Sandy and Crowley at an afternoon yoga class, given by an impressively bendy elderly lady in the shade. He almost walked into a column because he was fixated on the piece of skin that was exposed above his waistband when Crowley moved, and the black hint of ink that crept out from underneath it. He didn’t know that Crowley had any tattoos, but he’d imagined it before. He watched the muscled of his arms flex, the way they stretched and relaxed again.
Crowley seemed pretty flexible, but also a little uncomfortable. Aziraphale hurried away before anyone caught him staring with his mouth open and tried to put the image out of his mind.
The next time Aziraphale saw Sandy and Crowley, it was right before dinner. Crowley was taking pictures with a camera of Sandy, the young woman was dressed in something that was probably very stylish and posed. Aziraphale watched them curiously from a distance, his arms folded over each other.
He started to feel a bit uncomfortable when Sandy walked back and checked the pictures that Crowley just made of her. She didn’t seem to be satisfied and raised her voice a bit while waving her arms around. He just wanted to walk away when she spotted him, a sudden smile appearing on her face.
“Azi!” she yelled at him.
He tried very hard not to show his discomfort and walked towards the pair. Crowley seemed just as uncomfortable with the situation as he was and Sandy didn’t seem to notice, but something felt off.
“Could you take a picture of me and Tony, please?” she asked him excitedly, but didn’t wait for an answer and shoved the camera into his hands.
“Babe…” Crowley protested weakly.
“Sure, but I’m not as good of a photographer as Anthony,” Aziraphale answered anyway, looking at Crowley, who looked away awkwardly.
“I’m sure you’ll do just fine! Come on babe, stand up straight…”
Aziraphale tuned out all the instructions that Sandy was giving to Crowley and just shot some pictures and hoped he did alright. Even he got some instructions and it took longer than he would’ve liked.
“Thank you so much.” Sandy smiled a wide smile with perfect white teeth at him. “Do you wanna join us for dinner? I’m sure you have great stories about Tony, right babe?”
“I’m sure,” Crowley muttered and he seemed to get even more uncomfortable.
“Oh no, I really can’t,” Aziraphale excused himself immediately. “I always have dinner with my family, it’s tradition.” He checked his watch. “I can’t let them wait. You two have a lovely dinner together.”
He smiled and walked away with those words, but was left with a strange feeling about the whole interaction. She seemed so different from Crowley, the whole ‘Tony’ and ‘babe’ felt off, but Crowley probably changed a lot since last time and if he was happy, Aziraphale wouldn’t say a thing about it.
Aziraphale laid in bed, wide awake. He’d gone to his room right after dinner, not feeling like spending more time with his family tonight. Instead he drew himself a relaxing bath, grabbed an old paperback of ‘Persuasion’, one of his favourite Austen books to enjoy while taking a bath. It wasn’t her best work, not as nuanced and deep, but perfectly romantic and a nice read.
Somehow he started to resonate with Anne Elliot and her superficial family, her regrets of rejecting the courteous captain Wentworth and seeing him again after so many years without any contact, that he was still contemplating the whole story and its parallels to his own life in bed hours later.
He always had issues with insomnia since he was young and tonight was no different. He groaned and slipped his pillow over his head when he heard muffled voices in the room next to him. Normal sounds didn’t carry far in these rooms, so he assumed they were actually talking pretty loud.
Aziraphale realised quickly it came from Crowley’s room and it sounded like they were arguing. He tried to hear what they were saying, but it was all too muffled. It was only getting louder and getting on his nerves, so he got out of bed and decided to knock on the door to see if they could keep it down.
It wasn’t like he didn’t know that he was a little more agitated than he usually would be if people were loud because it was Crowley and his girlfriend, but he pointedly ignored that part.
When he got out in the hallway and in front of the door, it sounded like something loud crashed inside the room. He was just about the knock on the door, but stepped back instead, not knowing if he should disturb now or intervention was needed.
The door suddenly opened and Crowley stood in the opening, he froze when he saw Aziraphale, his mouth became razor thin. Behind him, Sandy screamed something at him. Crowley looked over his shoulder once before closing the door and walking away towards the lift without saying anything. He could still hear Sandy screaming and more stuff crashing.