The elevator door slid shut. Again. Aziraphale had lost count of how many times the lift had arrived and left again since he had been standing here. Just as he had no idea how many people had passed the corner he was currently lurking in.
His only hope was that they’d not seen him. He knew of course that it was rather pathetic to hide between photocopying machines and pretend to sort his papers. But so far he had not gathered the courage to do what he was here to do.
“Come on, Aziraphale,” Anathema had said. “You need to stop selling yourself short.”
“You totally should do it,” Dagon had added. “How about tomorrow?”
“You need to be brave,” Tracy had told him. “You can do this.”
Could he? Aziraphale swallowed. Careful and slow, he left his hiding spot. With his stomach in knots, he approached the large office at the end of the corridor. Through the glass walls he could already see a crest of flaming red hair, a golden spot where the morning sun caught in it.
He could be brave.
Like in a trance, he passed the other office doors, some open, some closed. The chatter became background noise as he straightened his shoulders. Dimly, he was aware of the bright lamp above him, revealing the coffee spots on the expensive beige carpet.
He could do this. It was not inappropriate. Colleagues weren’t off limits by company policy after all and he was Gabriel’s PA so no daily awkwardness in case it went badly. Not that weekly awkwardness was a desirable outcome though… No! Eyes on the horizon. Thinking positive! No need to paint a picture of the worst scenario.
He could be brave.
Almost there. After a few more steps he arrived at the glass door. So far he remained unnoticed. The red haired head was bent down, long elegant fingers curled around a pen, scribbling away.
Could he be brave?
Aziraphale hesitated. After all, he could still leave. But suddenly the man inside the office looked up and a pair of stunning golden-brown eyes lay on Aziraphale. Quickly, Aziraphale pretended to have just now arrived and knocked.
He could be brave.
With a smile the handsome man gestured him in and Aziraphale followed the invitation.
“Good morning, Mr. Crowley,” he said as he closed the door behind him. “I… ha… have your mail.”
“Thank you,… Aziraphale, isn’t it?” Crowley said as he took the letters from Aziraphale’s hand. “Where’s Bea?”
“She is helping Anathema,” Aziraphale lied. “Paper jam on the first floor.”
After all, he couldn’t very well say that she was biding her time so Aziraphale could bring Crowley his mail.
Crowley rolled his eyes.
“Gabriel really needs to take some money in hand to buy new photocopiers,” he said.
“Oh, but how would we have paid for the extremely useful fountain in the foyer then?” Aziraphale said sarcastically before he could stop himself.
But just as he, mortified, realised what he had said, Crowley laughed.
“Can’t argue with that,” he said. “I’m sure that the heightened morale it brings to our employers balances out broken machines.”
They smiled at each other. A moment passed. A moment in which Aziraphale stared into Crowley’s face. A face that looked as if it was carved by one of the old masters, with its sharp cheekbones, the well defined jaw, the elegant nose and of course those breath-taking eyes.
He could not be brave.
Everything inside him screamed ‘not your league’ and urged him to run away.
Crowley had returned to his notes. But after a moment he looked up once more.
“Was there anything else, Aziraphale?”
“Yes, I mean, no, sir, Mr. Crowley, just…” Helplessly Aziraphale let his eyes flick through the office until they fell on an exotic flower on the window sill. “Just… wanted to tell you that I think this is a great...um… plant.”
“Thank you?” Crowley said, visibly confused. “I can recommend books on gardening if you like..,”
“Oh no, I have cats. Eat everything green I put on my shelves and sills,” Aziraphale hurried to say. “I leave you to your work. Thank you, Mr. Crowley.”
“You brought me mail, Aziraphale,” Crowley said, now smirking with an amused glint in his eyes.
“Right,” Aziraphale nodded. “So… not ‘thank you’, but ‘you’re welcome’. I mean… It’s my job. Well, my job is Mr. Wing’s mail and…stuff, of course… but I work here… so I guess this, too, could be considered… I have to go now.”
Aziraphale hurried out of the office. He all but raced down the - fortunately empty - corridor, back into the corner with the photocopying machines. There he leant against the wall and hid his face in his hands.
That did not go well.
Tomorrow. Tomorrow, he would be brave. Tomorrow, he would be brave and ask the handsome Mr. Crowley out.
Yes, he would.