“This is ridiculous!” Crowley exclaimed. “We’ve done everything else, this shouldn’t be embarrassing.”
“Mm hm,” Aziraphale replied. He couldn’t look Crowley in the eye. Face. In the face. He couldn’t look at Crowley at all.
“Aziraphale. Angel. Look at me.”
“I am.” Aziraphale turned his face toward Crowley, as though he now looked at the demon. That was a lie, he still couldn’t make himself do it.
“Let me see your wings.”
“See.” As long as that was what it was, Aziraphale would be fine. Though he really didn’t remember the last time he had brought them out. On display when standing with the Antichrist? And that had been a very long time after the previous one.
Crowley brought out his feathers. That got Aziraphale’s attention. Crowley always took perfect care of his wings. He had heard about it, even seen the aftermath of a grooming session from time to time. They were gorgeous. Not a single feather out of place. They spread out and then folded to his sides. Perfect.
There was no way that Aziraphale could bring out his wings now. Not when in sight of that.
“Your turn.” Crowley had his arms crossed. He was posturing, Aziraphale could tell. There was no way he was less nervous than Aziraphale. He wouldn’t be so upset if he wasn’t.
Yet Aziraphale knew his wings wouldn’t match those. He hadn’t thought badly of them before. Honestly, he hadn’t thought much of them at all. He spent too much time inside, in his bookshop, for his wings to be necessary.
“I… I don’t want any commentary,” said Aziraphale, voice high pitched.
“Just do it, angel.”
Aziraphale did. He could feel how little he had taken care of them as he did so. Looking away, Aziraphale pretended not to care about Crowley’s expression.
And there was the disappointment. Aziraphale sighed, throwing his eyes upward and trying not to comment.
“When is the last time you groomed yourself?”
Plucking at his own fingers, Aziraphale was very careful to keep his voice measured. “When would I have time? It’s not as though I spend much time flying or anything, and therefore why would I bring them out at all? I just haven’t thought about it.”
A mistake, but he looked over at Crowley. It was hard to read the demon’s expression.
“You need to groom your wings.”
Aziraphale tutted, glancing back at his feathers. Out of place, ruffled… He really did have to take care of them. If Crowley’s had been in this state, Aziraphale would be fussing over him just as much. “I… yes. I do. Goodness, they are a mess. This will take forever.”
Suddenly, Crowley was fidgeting. “Take half of forever with help.”
They stared at each other. Aziraphale wanted to look anywhere else but at Crowley, but he couldn’t pull his gaze away.
Almost against his will, he nodded.