Summary: Tony and Ezra take a holiday.
Fandom: Good Omens
Spoilers and/or Warnings: AU
Title, Author and URL of original story: Brightness by daegaer
It was raining again. Ezra generally didn't mind a little spring rain, but this was more than a little. It had been drizzling, sprinkling and occasionally pouring for the better part of two weeks.
Sighing, he unlocked the shop door and turned over the sun-faded sign in the front window so that passers-by would know the shop was OPEN. Not that there was much foot traffic in this weather. He should likely have a quiet day.
Trying to shake off the slight melancholy brought on by so many grey days in succession, Ezra reminded himself that he quite liked quiet days in the shop, because it meant he could read in peace. Brightening, he reached for his current novel and found it looked slightly different from when he had put it down yesterday afternoon when Tony'd come by.
The bookmark he'd been using – one of the ones advertising the shop that he'd had printed up on Tony's suggestion – had been replaced by a travel brochure. Its bright colours and sun-lit photos drew him in.
Visit beautiful Mykonos! he read. Below the striking white text, two tanned men smiled out at the camera from a sun-drenched plaza.
"So, what do you think?" came Tony's voice from behind him, and Ezra jumped. He hadn’t heard him come in. The bell probably needed fixing again.
"It certainly looks warm," he offered.
Tony smiled encouragingly. "Sunny, for sure."
"I haven’t had a holiday since Madrid," Ezra acknowledged.
"Ages ago, that was," Tony replied. "Before you met me."
Ezra glanced down at the brochure again, at the two smiling men. He'd only ever gone on holiday alone, unless one counted miserable family outings. Travelling with someone else seemed so … stressful.
"I'm not sure I can afford to close the shop for so long," he said abruptly. "And what about you? I thought you'd been having a little trouble getting jobs lately."
Tony shrugged. "That's just because this weather is terrible for painting. Too humid. Which makes it an ideal time for me to take a holiday." He narrowed his eyes. "As for you, didn't we just last week have a celebratory dinner when you sold that harlequinade? The one you found tucked into that ledger? The one you specifically told me fetched more on EBay than the shop's foot traffic usually brings in in a month?" He raised one eyebrow and gave Ezra a wicked grin.
Ezra couldn't stop himself smiling back at that. "Well, I suppose I could do with a holiday…"
"Good! Great!" Tony snatched up the brochure from where it lay. "Don't worry, I'll take care of everything. You just clear your schedule, such as it is, for next week."
"Next week?" Ezra squeaked.
"No time like the present, Ezra." Tony leaned over the counter for a quick kiss. "I'm off again, now that's decided. See you tonight!"
"See you tonight," Ezra echoed. Tony almost always came by in the evenings, and spent the night more often than not. Tony's own flat was rather out of the way, at least in Ezra's view, and so this arrangement seemed to suit them both.
He shook his head to clear it and plucked a new bookmark from the stack on the counter. He'd best ring Mandy at the salon. He wanted to look his best before he left on holiday.
At least their flight had been direct. They'd had to leave preposterously early, especially as for once Tony hadn't wanted to drive the Bentley and have to leave it at the airport. The very idea had made him shudder, which was of course partly why Ezra had suggested it.
The whole process of getting to Gatwick and waiting in queue and checking in and all the rigmarole that went along with these modern discount carriers – the fee they'd levied for the extra bag with his light reading in it was nothing less than extortionate – was just unpleasant enough that at times he even forgot that he loved flying. Not completely, of course, and he had to admit that it was nice to look away from the window into Tony's familiar face, and smile gently at him, and know he knew what Ezra was thinking of.
By early afternoon they were emerging from the airport into the bright sunshine and warmth of May in the Mediterranean. Ezra paused for a moment to bask, figuring Tony could take care of finding them a taxi to the hotel; after all, he was the one who felt renting a car was tantamount to cheating on the Bentley. Apparently the bus service on the island was quite good, though, and Ezra had to concede that a car wasn't, strictly speaking, a necessity.
"Ezra?" Tony called from further down the pavement, gesturing to the waiting taxi, and Ezra hastened to catch up.
Ezra suppressed the nerves he felt as they checked into their hotel. He'd been with Tony long enough now that these sorts of things were less fraught. And nerves were silly when Tony'd clearly planned the whole trip carefully.
Their room was cramped but clean, with a kitchenette and a small terrace. The hotel had a lovely pool, but with so many beaches so nearby Ezra doubted they'd be using it.
"Lunch?" he asked hopefully once their things were settled and they'd had a bit of a poke around.
The man at the desk was happy to suggest a nearby taverna that was open on Sundays. After a leisurely lunch, they explored the neighbourhood. Ezra noted several interesting shops he hoped to visit later, as well as a small market – it wouldn't do to eat out for every meal when they had a perfectly serviceable kitchenette, after all.
As evening approached and they began to discuss options for dinner, trying to retrace their steps to a particular restaurant which had caught both their eyes, Ezra felt relaxed and free, as though they'd already been on holiday for a week and not an afternoon. He'd have to thank to Tony for suggesting the trip.
And when Tony arched an eyebrow at him over the last of the retsina and suggested heading back to the hotel for "an early night" he knew exactly how.
They should probably have got off to an early start the next morning, but a bit of a lie-in was very hard to resist (as was Tony in swim trunks) so the beach was filling up by the time they arrived.
Gradually they made their way farther along the beach and found a clearer area. It seemed the trick was persistence. Ezra set down his bag and took out his blanket. He had little interest in actual swimming, so a towel hadn't seemed necessary.
Tony on the other hand seemed to have brought little else, not even sun block. Ezra silently offered his own, and Tony shook his head. "Maybe later. For now it'll feel good to just soak it all up."
"Fine, but when you get skin cancer I'm saying 'I told you so'," Ezra scolded. Despite his reckless attitude, Tony did his back for him, which was quite nice, and Ezra pulled out the top book from the stack in his bag and settled in.
Tony sighed with pleasure as he stretched out on his own towel. "Now this is more like it," he said. "I'm not made for a northern climate. It's not in my genes."
"I doubt you'd find wandering in the desert more to your liking, genes aside," Ezra countered.
"No, but weather back home can be depressing, can’t it? And not just the rain – what about the winter? No human being was meant to live anywhere with sleet. Uck. I get the shivers just thinking about sleet."
"I suppose so," Ezra agreed, and Tony hummed and rolled over and that was about all the conversation for the morning. After a quick lunch from an establishment right on the beach clearly designed to extort the most profit from tourists like themselves too unmotivated to forage farther afield, they agreed to leave a little early and find that market Ezra had noticed yesterday.
Late afternoon, and the agreed upon time for him to wake Tony, arrived far quicker than he'd thought, and Ezra marvelled at how time on holiday could pass so swiftly when one was doing so little. It was nice, quite different from the drag of daily routine at the shop.
After a delightful seafood dinner (which Tony had repeatedly pointed out had neither fins nor scales, not that his did either), Ezra slipped into bed beside Tony, thinking of how he was looking forward to doing it all again tomorrow.
They did do most of it again the next day, with only two significant alterations: Tony went swimming, and Ezra was restless. The two were not directly connected: in fact, Tony flashing him a startlingly white grin before diving like a dolphin into the oncoming turquoise waves, leaving no splash behind, was a moment so beautiful and brilliant he sorely regretted that he hadn't had time to fumble for the camera, somewhere in the depths of his bag of books.
No, Ezra was just fidgety, especially come afternoon. A lunch of sandwiches and olives from their market provisions had certainly been sensible, but not as satisfying as yesterday's gyro. He couldn't get comfortable on the blanket, whether he sat up or lay on his stomach or on his back. He altered position so many times that finally Tony, who'd returned to sunbathing, disappeared for a few minutes, returning with a rented chair and umbrella. Ezra had been eying them yesterday, but couldn't quite justify the expense or the walk to fetch them.
"Thank you, my dear," Ezra said, leaning over for a kiss. It was really quite sweet of Tony.
"You looked uncomfortable," Tony said, shrugging. "Do you want to go for a little walk or a swim or anything? It might help to burn some energy."
Ezra thought of how Tony looked positively boneless, basking on his towel. "No, I think I'll be fine for now."
The next morning, though, over their breakfast of uncannily delicious yogurt and honey, he said, "I asked at the desk last night and there are several excursions to Delos to tour the ruins there. I thought I might do that today."
"Sounds fascinating," Tony replied. "Shall we ask the desk if they can arrange two tickets?"
"You don’t have to come. No doubt parts of it will be terribly boring. And we'll probably have to hike all over – not at all relaxing. If you'd rather spend another day on the beach I understand," Ezra offered.
"I'd rather be with you," Tony said, honesty clear in his voice and his smile. After that, well, they were lucky they made it to the harbour on time to catch their boat to Delos.
Thursday Tony wanted to try a new beach, and though once they arrived Ezra honestly couldn’t see much difference, while Tony was choosing he thought he'd take care of their lunch. He doubted Tony had enjoyed the dry sandwiches of the past few days any more than he had.
The man at the desk –and this really was a wonderful hotel; he wondered how Tony had found it – produced a picnic basket to lend him from some storage room, and a short trip to the market soon had it weighed down with enough tempting things it almost seemed bottomless. He chose a few bottles of wine as well, knowing they had no chance of keeping them at the proper temperature but deciding not to care.
When he got back to the room, Tony was ready and waiting for him. "We're trying Kalafatis today," he announced. "Is that lunch?"
Ezra put a hand on the lid of the basket. "Yes, but no peeking. It's a surprise."
"I love it when you surprise me," Tony said.
"I love you," Ezra replied. After all, they were on holiday. It wouldn't hurt anyone if they were late to the beach. The lunch would keep better in the hotel than in the sun.
Though Tony had watched the windsurfers off Kalafatis with some interest, the next day he once again wanted to choose a new beach. Ezra looked over his shoulder at the brochure the hotel had provided outlining the many options.
"What about this one? Elia?"
"You just like that one because it's all over chairs and umbrellas in the picture," Tony teased.
"It has a nude section, too," Ezra pointed out.
"Nude— you want to go to a nude beach?" Tony asked. He seemed genuinely surprised.
"Tony dear, I've been watching you work on that tan all week. Surely you want to finish that last little bit?"
"Watch what you're calling a little bit," Tony muttered, but Ezra refused to blush. "Okay, fine, yes, I wouldn't mind nude tanning. And you?"
"I'm up for anything you are, my dear."
"Is that so?" Tony asked, waggling his brows, and why look, they were going to be late to the beach again.
Elia did turn out to be quite developed, but the nude section seemed less popular, and they easily found a spot isolated from their fellow beachgoers. Ezra's latest book couldn't quite hold his attention though. He cast about for another distraction.
"Are you building a sandcastle?" Tony asked when he opened his eyes in preparation for rolling over, a few minutes later.
"Yes. Do you want to help?" Ezra answered without looking up. A good foundation was essential, and this sand didn't pack as well as he'd like.
"Sure. Need more water?" Tony asked, and when Ezra nodded, he trotted off down to the shore with the empty water bottle he'd found to use in lieu of a pail.
"How tall are you planning to make this thing?" Tony asked again after almost an hour of working in near silence.
"As tall as I can."
"So it's like the Sand-tower of Babel?"
Ezra carefully patted down the newest layer. "Yes, exactly. Our sandcastle is a monument to human hubris and an affront to the Holy One's majesty. Be a dear and fetch some more water."
Tony picked up the bottle but didn’t leave yet. "I just meant that it'd be really tall, git, but if you're going to take that interpretation then don't call it 'our' sandcastle. I want no part in your hubris. I renounce this tower and all it stands for."
From his tone Ezra knew Tony was joking, but he couldn't help but feel a bit vexed, especially when his newest addition to the tower started to crumble at the sides. He huffed in annoyance as he tried vainly to reattach the fallen area.
"Hey," Tony said, suddenly right at his shoulder instead of looming over him with the water bottle. "You know I'm only joking, right?"
'"Of course," Ezra replied evenly. "It's just—"
"You know what this Tower needs?" Tony interrupted. "It needs Divine Wrath."
"Divine Wrath? What— You want to knock it down?"
"And destroy all your hard work, yes, but c'mon, Ezra, it'll be fun!" Tony mimed a little kick at the structure.
And it was fun, and completely worthwhile for the sight of Tony, yelling and laughing like a boy, belly-flopping directly onto the remains of the sandcastle, shouting "Lightning bolt!" so loudly it drew the attention of half the beach.
They'd made a habit of returning to the hotel by early evening and having dinner either in town or out on their terrace, but today Ezra didn't feel like leaving, and Tony didn't seem to either. So instead they made themselves presentable again and had dinner in the restaurant of a beautiful hotel right on the beach.
They ended up lying on the beach again, with a bottle of wine purloined from the restaurant. Ezra told Tony a long, pointless story about a woman who'd recently tried to bring her teacup poodle into the shop with her, imitating her ridiculously affected way of speaking and emphasising his heroically polite attempts to shoo her out. Tony told Ezra his theories on how ridiculous paint names were chosen and together they compiled top ten lists of both the most ridiculous and the rudest sounding.
When their laughter had died away, Ezra spoke. "I hate to sound maudlin, but I don't want to go back to the hotel."
"Me neither," said Tony.
"You know what I'd like? I'd like to lie here and count the stars with you. There's no point to counting stars, really, but I feel like we could do it. Together."
Tony rolled over him, so that he was temporarily blocking the view of said stars. "Yeah," he said, and kissed Ezra sloppily. "I know just what you mean."
Ezra fell asleep somewhere between 561 and 608.
"So, I think we broke the Sabbath," he told Tony when they awoke, still on the beach, the next morning.
Tony blinked at him sleepily. "Nonsense," he said. "You can't break the Sabbath when you're on holiday, because by definition you're not working."
"I don't think your argument has much in the way of rabbinical backing."
"Well, then, how's this? Since it's a miracle we didn’t get picked up as vagrants for sleeping on the beach with an empty wine bottle clutched between us, the Holy One seems to have forgiven our fault."
"Better," Ezra said, standing up and brushing himself off. "So long as we're breaking the Sabbath, do you want to pick up some postcards on our way back to the hotel? We should really send one to Irene."
Postcards in hand, they'd spent the remainder of the day at the hotel, sabbatically unimpeachable. Ezra'd hoped they could spend Sunday morning in town again, getting one last taste of Mykonos, but their flight left in the early afternoon and Tony wanted them to reach the airport with plenty of time to spare.
Practically the first thing Ezra had learnt about Tony, other than his name, was that he was frightfully organized. At the moment he was scouring the room for a third time to ensure they hadn’t forgot to pack something.
"Tony," he found himself saying as his pacing of the room brought him close. "Can I ask you something?"
"Sure," Tony answered. Ezra reached for both his hands, and Tony went still. "Oh. Something important?"
Ezra took a deep breath. "Actually, I— I feel a little silly, asking, because you already—" He started again. "We spend a lot of time together and I- I like that. We spent all our time together on this trip, and I loved that." Tony opened his mouth as if to say something. "Wait, I'm not done," Ezra continued. "I know I can’t always be easy to get along with. And as I said, I feel sort of silly asking because you already spend so much time there, but I wanted to ask you – would you like to move in with me? I know the shop isn't much but you seem to like it there and—"
Mercifully, Tony stopped what increasingly felt like babble with a series of soft, sweet kisses. "Yes, Ezra," he said. "Yes, I'd love to move in with you."
Ezra clutched the hands of the man he loved, the man who loved him. "Well then, that's settled," he said. "Are we ready to call for the taxi yet?"
Tony gave him a knowing look. "In an hour we can leave for the airport and still be three hours early. Come here." He drew him towards the bed, and Ezra went quite willingly.
When Ezra opened the shop Monday morning, it was still raining. Or perhaps not still; it would be typical of English weather for the rain to have temporarily ceased while one was away on holiday.
Tony'd already left, far too early in Ezra's opinion, but he had a job rather far out of the city. On his way out the door, just before his goodbye kiss, he'd said he planned to bring a first load of his belongings from his flat to Ezra's, 'whatever hasn't already migrated here,' that night.
It didn't make much sense that Ezra got a little thrill at the idea of adding more clutter to his flat, but it happened anyway. Besides, a little thrill was what he needed to get him through another dreary day. Already Mykonos seemed ages ago and very far away.
Sighing, he reached for his current novel on the shelf by the counter, and found it once again looking slightly different. The shop bookmark had disappeared once more; in its place was a photograph. Tony must've snuck down to the shop's computer in the middle of the night to print it off, he realised.
Ezra smiled at the picture, at the memory of himself smiling indulgently up at the camera from beside the Sand-tower of Babel. He looked tan and relaxed and carefree; Ezra propped the photo up on the counter so he could see it better as he read. It wouldn't do to take such happiness for granted.