23 | A dance
Aziraphale refilled their drinks and got up so he could sit next to Crowley on the settee. He had already taken off his waistcoat and bow tie when he came home, but he was warm from the alcohol and started rolling up the sleeves of his shirt.
“You know what you should do?” Aziraphale said, while rolling them up. “Go on one of those retreats that are so popular in America.”
“What?” Crowley responded, his voice higher pitched than usual. “No! I’m not going on any retreats. There’s nothing more fake and boring than retreats. The only thing I’m gonna find out is that I shouldn’t be left alone on top of a mountain.”
Crowley was obviously also getting affected by the alcohol, he shrugged off the cardigan and the gestures he made while he spoke were getting bigger and more elaborate. Aziraphale could only watch and nod, looking at his strong hands waving through the air and the expressiveness of his eyes while Crowley went off on a tangent about mountains and something else he missed. He followed the sharp lines of his cheekbones, his slightly crooked nose with a light dusting of freckles as he wondered if he had freckles all over his body, and the slight shadow of stubble that appeared on his cheeks. His eyes lingered on the bend of his thin lips.
Crowley’s mouth had turned into a fond smile when he looked up a bit confused.
“I’m sorry, I got a bit er- distracted I guess.”
Crowley chuckled softly. “I noticed.”
“What were you asked about again?”
“If you could imagine all the shagging going on on top of those mountains.”
“What in the Heavens are you on about?” Aziraphale frowned.
Crowley chuckled again. “Y’know, people trying to find themselves, they’re lonely and hook up. You never done that before? I know your family doesn’t approve of that kind of thing before marriage but I'm curious now.”
Aziraphale had avoided any questions about his personal life like that when they were in France and Crowley actually never asked about it, until now that was.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business,” Aziraphale answered primly.
Crowley held his hands up in surrender and laughed. “Alright, didn’t mean to press. You don’t have to tell me.”
Aziraphale’s cheeks turned slightly pink when Crowley did his usual sprawl, his legs spread further apart and he seemed to have relaxed a bit more. Crowley had told him a fair bit about his own life and opened up a lot just now. Besides that, Aziraphale had also followed some of his ‘affairs’ in the tabloids and they were friends, right?
“Oh bugger this. I haven’t shagged on top of a mountain, if that’s what you’re after,” he eventually answered and Crowley looked curiously at him, waiting to spill more information on that. “I’m only human! I’ve had er- relations with someone when I was in university. Multiple someone’s. Not on mountains.”
“No one can blame you, angel,” Crowley laughed. “But you’re the only one who can make it sound so proper when referring to sex.”
“I don’t see any reason to make it dirty,” Aziraphale countered indignantly.
Crowley snorted. “It can be a bit dirty and messy.”
Aziraphale could feel his ears getting hot, or maybe that was just the alcohol.
At the same time, the dryer beeped in the bathroom, signalling that Crowley’s clothes were dry. Both of them got up at the same time, Crowley seemed to be a bit wonky and unsteady on his feet already.
“Guess that’s my cue,” he said. “Thanks for the drink and for letting me vent.”
Aziraphale grabbed Crowley’s arm before he could walk away. “What do you mean? Are you going back to your flat?”
Crowley stared at him for a moment, his lips slightly parted and eyes empty. “Dunno, didn’t think that far,” he admitted.
“You can… you can stay here. If you’d like,” Aziraphale offered and let go of Crowley’s arm, but could still feel the warmth the man radiated off of him.
Crowley stepped away. “M’fine, I don’t wanna impose.”
Aziraphale mourned the loss of the warmth for a second. “Oh no, you could never impose. I insist, it’s still raining outside, we’ve been drinking and I would feel much better if you’d stay here for the night.”
Crowley sucked in a breath through his nose and looked around the flat seemingly nervous, before releasing his breath and nodding. “Ok, yeah. Alright. Sure, I’ll stay.”
Aziraphale gave Crowley one of his bright, sincere smiles and walked into the bathroom to turn the dryer off, taking the clothes out and folding them neatly so Crowley could use them again tomorrow. When he came back into the living, Crowley was scrolling through his phone with a pained frown on his face.
“Is everything alright, dear?” he asked, after he sat back down on the settee next to his friend.
"Yeah, yeah. Everything's fine."
Crowley smiled at Aziraphale and put his phone down, before getting up. "What about some music, hm? Do you have a radio or CD player buried underneath all those books somewhere?"
Aziraphale pointed him in the direction of an old CD player he had with a curious, but slightly worried frown on his face. When he glanced over to the screen of the mobile phone on the coffee table, it was lighting up. He didn’t want to be nosy, so he just watched Crowley as he hummed and turned on the radio on the CD player.
Soon enough, the silence in the small flat filled itself with the notes of some poppy music he didn’t recognize and Crowley turned to Aziraphale with a grin on his face. Aziraphale would describe the grin as ‘wicked’ and didn’t like it one bit.
There it was.
“Oh no! No, I don’t dance,” Aziraphale huffed right away.
“Everyone dances. You don’t have to be good at it, but you can still dance. Hell, even I dance,” Crowley said as he walked towards Aziraphale with that swagger in his hips, exacerbated by the beat he was walking on. “C’mon angel.”
Aziraphale was sure that he wanted to say no yet again, but looking at the way Crowley’s hips moved and how easy the nickname rolled from his lips made him pause for a moment. Crowley stopped in front of his friend, grabbed his hands and hauled him on his feet.
“It’s gonna be fun, promise.”
“Fun?” Aziraphale repeated incredulous, but still let Crowley pull him towards the open space next to the settee.
It was absolutely ridiculous. The whiskey made him give in easily and he just hoped he wasn’t swooning too obviously at the way Crowley was moving. He wasn’t kidding when he said he didn’t dance, he never danced and just moved around a bit stiffly.
This made Aziraphale giggle a little elated. He still felt very self conscious, but it wasn’t as bad as he imagined. Suddenly Crowley grabbed his hand and twirled him around, causing Aziraphale to almost trip and both of the men started laughing when Aziraphale was stable on his feet again. Crowley hadn’t let go of his hand.
The song ended and Aziraphale caught his breath from laughing, smiling at Crowley. The music changed to something slower, less of a pop song and more of a classical ballad. Aziraphale still didn’t recognize it.
“Thank you for the dance,” he said politely, ready to retreat back to the couch.
Instead of letting go, Crowley pulled Aziraphale closer with the hand he was still holding. They were close, just an inch or so between them, when Crowley finally let his hand go. He placed his hands carefully just above Aziraphale’s hips and it took Aziraphale a few seconds to catch up now that his single brain cell was slightly intoxicated.
“One more dance.”
“Oh,” was the first thing Aziraphale said.
Oh how badly Aziraphale wanted to be close to the man. He could smell him from here, the fragrance of rain mixed with bergamot and something spicy that smelled like cardamom. He wanted to embrace him and sway on the soft tones of the music, but instead stepped away.
A pained frown flashed over Crowley’s face and his hands fell uselessly next to his sides. Aziraphale swallowed.
“You can’t do this Anthony, it’s not fair,” he explained himself, his voice barely a whisper. “You’re… you’re obviously sloshed.”
“I know perfectly well what I’m doing, Aziraphale,” Crowley answered, his voice sharp and defensive. “Just tell me if you don’t want it or feel ashamed, but don’t blame the bloody alcohol.”
Crowley sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose, looking frustrated when Aziraphale didn’t responded. He didn’t know what to say, he was still torn between really wanting to be that close to Crowley and knowing better.
“You know what, nevermind. It was a mistake, my mistake. I should go.”
“No,” Aziraphale caught himself saying without even thinking about it, feeling braver than ever. “I’m sorry. Can I have this dance?”
Crowley’s cheeks turned a pretty shade of pink and he seemed to hesitate. Aziraphale held out his hand with an encouraging smile on his face. It was just a dance, he assured himself. A little more intimate and less silly than the ‘dancing’ they did before, but still just a dance.
“Alright,” Crowley answered and accepted Aziraphale’s hand.