A Merry Little Christmas
by Daegaer

'What's that?' Crowley asked suspiciously, eyeing Aziraphale's latest addition to the Christmas decorations covering the shop.

'Mistletoe,' Aziraphale said from the top of the stepladder. 'It's not so easy to get these days, but Christmas traditions are Christmas traditions.' He looked at Crowley's face and sniggered. 'Don't worry, you're not my type.'

'That's what you say now,' Crowley muttered, 'but we both know what you're like with a pint of brandy inside you.'

'Crowley!' Aziraphale said. 'Really, my dear. What a pack of nonsense. And I wouldn't cast the first stone if I were you. You're not exactly dignified yourself when you've been overindulging in the Christmas cheer.'

'I don't have any Christmas cheer,' Crowley said, disappointed that he came off as peevish rather than full of wounded dignity. 'So. What did you get me?'

'It's a surprise. You're just a big child, aren't you? No patience whatsoever.'

'Yeah, yeah. Is it expensive?'

Aziraphale just laughed. Crowley absentmindedly fixed the wonky step on his stepladder as the angel awkwardly clambered down again. He cleared his throat and tried to look very casual.

'You are still coming over to my place, aren't you?'

'Of course, dear. I don't want to put you to too much trouble though; I could come over bright and early on Christmas morning and get things started, if that would be more convenient?'

Crowley raised an eyebrow. 'Tell me how it's more convenient for me to drag myself out of bed to help you lug things up the stairs early on Christmas morning? And I suppose you'd want me to pick you up in the first place? Let's stick to the original plan. I'll pick you up on Christmas Eve with all the stuff, and then you can wake up as early as you want to start the cooking.'

'I don't sleep,' Aziraphale said mildly.

'Fine,' Crowley said with a grin. 'You can bake all night, I like fresh croissants for breakfast.' He grinned more broadly at the sceptical look on Aziraphale's face. 'And I'm sure you could rustle up a few batches of home made mince pies, and a pudding and maybe another cake, and . . .'

'Don't push it,' Aziraphale said dryly.


Crowley thought he'd been very patient. He'd picked up the goose Aziraphale had ordered from the butcher, and hadn't incinerated anyone, not even the wild haired old lady who had cut in front of him in the queue. He'd bought several packets of wildly expensive and improbably flavoured crisps to be nibbled while watching television (he hoped to get out of watching the Queen's speech, but had laid in more alcohol specially to help him get through it). He had, in a fit of panic caused by the mass hysteria of the human shoppers, looked round his flat and decided he had nothing decent to eat or drink and run straight back out and denuded several shelves of Harrods' food hall. He knew the extravagance would irritate the angel, so he carefully lined up all his purchases so the labels were immediately visible.

Now all he needed was one angel plus the shopping that had been entrusted to that one angel. His patience was wearing thin. Aziraphale hadn't been in when Crowley had arrived, and when he did turn up laden with shopping bags he was in a whiny mood and made Crowley carry them all to the car, and then wouldn't shift unless he'd had a cup of tea and a biscuit, and then it was time to watch the news, and then he suddenly remembered he hadn't bought any parsnips and Crowley made a strangled screaming noise and dragged Aziraphale bodily out to the car.

'Wait! I haven't got clean clothes!' Aziraphale wailed. 'Give me five minutes, just five minutes, Crowley!'

'Five. Minutes,' Crowley hissed, ostentatiously checking his watch.

Four minutes and forty five seconds later Aziraphale was breathlessly getting into the passenger seat, having stowed a small and rather old overnight bag and a large and brightly wrapped parcel in the back seat. Crowley eyed it eagerly, but didn't say anything. He was, however, in a good enough mood to give in when Aziraphale begged him to stop at Sainsbury's for the parsnips.

'I don't like parsnips,' he said cheerfully, working out that the angel would have to fight through the wild-eyed human throng, fight for possession of the parsnips and then queue for an age. It all added up to him being left alone with his present for a good long time.

'You'll like them the way I do them,' Aziraphale said. 'Oh, and Crowley?'


'Don't think I won't be able to tell if you've been peeking at things you shouldn't. I'd hate to have to take it back just because the surprise was spoiled.'

'You wouldn't,' Crowley said, shocked at such angelic perfidy.

Aziraphale gave him a beatific smile and went off to do battle. Crowley sat on his hands, feeling the parcel behind him practically pulsing with big, shiny temptation. Geological ages passed before the angel reappeared, and Crowley was exhausted keeping himself under control. Delayed gratification wasn't really the demonic way, he thought. He hoped the angel appreciated the sacrifices he was making.

His mood was much improved by the look on Aziraphale's face when he saw the flat. He'd decided against decking the hall with boughs of holly; if he'd been that keen on 19th century decorations he wouldn't have slept right through it. Instead he'd gone for a simple, yet completely over the top, modern feel. The most expensive gold and purple tinsel he could find hung in thick, tasteful swags. The fragrance of frankincense hung in the air. He knew Aziraphale knew what the real stuff smelled like, and he hoped the angel was suitably impressed. As a sop to tradition the two cards he had received - one from Aziraphale, one from the old lady downstairs - stood on the mantelpiece.

The centrepiece, however, was the tree. Aziraphale stood there, dumbstruck by its magnificence. It was nine feet tall, with heavy golden and purple boughs, decorated with golden and purple baubles.

'How, how . . . novel,' Aziraphale said in a thin voice.

'Wait, wait,' Crowley said, and gestured. The lights went off and the tiny white lights scattered across the tree came on, making it sparkle and shine even more than the room's lights had. 'What do you think?' he asked, waiting for praise.

'I've never seen anything quite like it,' Aziraphale said, and in a stronger, warmer tone went on, 'And it matches all your other decorations! The whole thing looks so, so opulent and distinctive. Really, I'm sure I should never have thought of anything like this!'

Crowley preened. 'Oh, I suppose it's not bad,' he said. 'Let's get the food into the kitchen.'

Aziraphale raised his eyebrows at the amount of food already awaiting them. 'Expecting an army?' he said mischievously. He opened a box and slid the contents out onto a plate. 'Mince pie?'

Crowley grinned, a feeling of unaccustomed bonhomie rising within him, and he grabbed the nearest bottle of wine to open. They sat in the lounge, the lights of the tree blinding them, and cheerfully ate and drank. Crowley managed to drag his eyes away from parcels under the tree once he noticed Aziraphale hiding a smile.

'Would it break if I shook it?' he asked casually.

Aziraphale gave the parcel a hard look. 'Not now,' he said blandly.

'Go on, tell me what it is.'

'No. Patience, my dear Crowley, patience.'

'Does it have a high melting point?'

Aziraphale just smiled slyly. Crowley was seized with the urge to make some gesture the angel might like. Who knew, it might induce him to spill the beans, after all. He materialised a glossy bunch of green and white in his hand. It didn't go with the rest of his decorations, but that was all right. He hopped up and fixed it over the door.

'What's that?' Aziraphale asked.

'Well, like you said, Christmas traditions are Christmas traditions,' Crowley said, flopping back down on the couch. 'And I approve of the pagan ones, anyway.'

Aziraphale giggled into his wine, and spent the next few moments coughing. Then he clinked his glass against Crowley's.

'Merry Christmas, Crowley,' he said fondly.

'Likewise,' Crowley said, pleased to find he meant it. It was rather nice to have someone around to complain about the terrible television programmes, and to do the cooking.

He supposed he could wait until midnight to open the present.


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