Pairing: Aziraphale/Crowley pre-slash
Summary: In which gravity is defied and a feather finds a new resting place.
Disclaimer: Aziraphale and Crowley are the property of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. No money is being made.
Note: Prompted by this, written for mellifluous_ink. I'm not sure if this was precisely what you had in mind, but it's what came into my head at six in the morning after I'd been awake all night, so here you go.
The worst part, Crowley reflected, was that he had brought this on himself.
The afternoon had started peacefully enough--a grassy hillside, a blanket, a pitcher of sangria, and a certain angel whose company Crowley was just beginning to admit to himself that he enjoyed more than a little. And Crowley could never spend time with Aziraphale anymore without talking him into doing something reckless. Never anything sinful, of course--Aziraphale would never let his guard down enough for that--but Crowley reckoned that the occasional moment of lassitude wouldn't do him any harm. The angel was too uptight for his own good, anyone could see that.
Come flying, he had said. When was the last time you gave your wings a really good stretch? No one will see us if we don't want them to.
So intent was he on persuading Aziraphale, and so delighted at finally succeeding, that Crowley utterly forgot that he himself had not flown in a good few centuries, and that he hadn't particularly enjoyed it last time. Among his other reptilian predilections was the fact that he was most comfortable close to the ground. And now here he was, some thousand feet above the Spanish countryside, with a knot in his stomach and a dangerous tremor in his underused wings.
Aziraphale, meanwhile, was soaring blissfully beside him. "This was a wonderful idea. It's a lovely day for it, and I really haven't done this in too long, and--my dear, are you quite all right?"
"'M fine," Crowley replied tersely.
"You're being awfully quiet."
Because he was afraid he'd be sick if he opened his mouth. "It's nothing. Shouldn't we be heading back down now?"
"We've only just gotten started."
"Yes but I'm tired and it's cold up here and I've got some important business to attend to and you can keep going if you want but if it's all the same to you I think I'll just--" Aziraphale grabbed his arm before he could descend.
"You are. Why on earth did you talk me into this if you're afraid of heights?"
"I'm not afraid, I just--don't like them, particularly. It's a snake thing. Let me go."
"Crowley." Aziraphale maneuvered his body in midair so that they were facing each other. "What's there to be afraid of?"
"I told you I wasn't--"
"And I have told you, numerous times, that your attempts to lie to me are futile, gifted at it though you may be. Tell me now, what are you afraid of?"
Crowley sighed. "Falling, for one."
"Why would you fall?"
"I know, I know, I never said it was rational. I just can't quite accept that a medium as insubstantial as air can support my weight. It's like swimming, only worse."
"Even if, through some unlikely sequence of events, you did happen to fall--I'm here to catch you, aren't I?"
"You might not," Crowley said softly.
Aziraphale appeared to be thinking something over for a moment. He then wrapped his arms around Crowley's waist and pulled him close, so that their bodies were pressed flush against each other.
"Um." Crowley fought down a blush. "What are you doing?"
"Call it a trust exercise," Aziraphale replied. "Put your wings away."
"You must be joking."
"Trust me. That's the entire point."
"What reason do I have to trust you? How do I know this isn't a ploy to get me discorporated?"
"Don't I usually thwart your wiles with somewhat more finesse than that? Give me some credit."
"You're forgetting the Oxcart Incident."
"That was completely unintentional. I thought you'd get out of the way in time. Look, we're not going back down to earth until you go along with this, so you may as well humor me."
Crowley accepted defeat and retracted his wings. "There. Happy?"
"Quite," Aziraphale replied, and picked up speed. Crowley whimpered and clung to the front of Aziraphale's shirt.
Slowly, though, he began to relax. Aziraphale's arms were strong and steadfast around him, and he didn't have to worry about his own wings giving out, and the wind rushing past him was actually rather exhilarating. Aziraphale swooped and banked and rolled, traced loops and corkscrews in the air, pulled off stunts no bird had ever dreamed of. Crowley threw his head back and laughed, feeling feather-light and liberated and alive, wondering why he'd ever been scared in the first place--
And then Aziraphale dropped him.
Crowley was allowed three seconds of abject terror, not even enough time to scream, before Aziraphale swooped down and snatched him neatly out of free-fall.
Crowley flung his arms about the angel's midsection and grasped madly at the first thing he could reach, which happened to be a handful of Aziraphale's wing feathers. "You liar, you complete and total bastard, I trusted you--"
"Ouch, not so hard, that hurts--you've pulled one out, look."
Crowley took a glance at the feather's downward progress and immediately wished he hadn't.
"I never said I wouldn't drop you," Aziraphale said. "I only said I'd catch you if you fell."
"Oh," Crowley muttered. "Right."
"Perhaps I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry. I was only trying to prove a point."
"'S all right."
"Would you like to get down now?"
"Er. No, not just yet."
Aziraphale looked puzzled, as well he should, because it made no bloody sense. Crowley did want to get down, quite badly in fact, but he also wanted to stay in Aziraphale's arms for just a bit longer. He was deeply shaken--and, for that matter, shaking--and he needed to be held, and once Aziraphale put him down, there would be no excuse for that anymore.
Maybe Crowley's thoughts were a little too close to the surface, or maybe it was his tight grip on the angel's waist that clued him in--whatever the reason, Aziraphale said cautiously, "We could stay this way. On the ground, I mean. If you wanted to."
Crowley nodded, relieved and grateful, and they went in for the landing.
Miguel saw the feather drifting to earth from across the yard. He didn't recognize that it was a feather, at first--it was easily three feet long and couldn't have belonged to any bird he'd ever seen. He ran to where it had fallen, stumbling on the hem of his robe, and picked it up off the ground.
No. Definitely not a bird feather.
He held it close to his face, examining the rachis and the barbs, breathing in its heady smell--
"Miguel, you little twit, you're late for--what's that you've got there?"
Miguel clutched the feather to his chest. "Nothing."
Brother Luis grabbed it out of his hands. "'Nothing,' you imbecile? Don't you know an angel feather when you see one?"
"It's mine. Give it back."
"I must show this to the Abbot." Brother Luis strode imperiously towards the door.
"Let me show it to him! I found it!"
"The Abbot has better things to do than speak to novices."
The Abbot was most impressed with Brother Luis's discovery. A special cabinet was built to house the feather, a quilted mattress sewn for it to lie upon. Brother Luis's story grew more and more embellished over the years until it was the Archangel Gabriel himself who had landed in the yard, plucked out his own feather, and given it to Brother Luis as a reward for his great devotion to God. Miguel kept his mouth shut, knowing he would be called a liar if he tried to take credit for the discovery of the sacred relic.
Still, every now and then, late at night, Miguel crept through the corridors to the feather's resting place and simply stood in its presence for a while. He didn't dare to touch it anymore, but he gazed upon it and breathed in its scent and contented himself in the knowledge that he had come closer than any of the brothers--maybe closer than anyone had since the days of the Apostles--to seeing an angel.