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True to Form (The Self Reflection Remix)

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Crowley knows exactly how people see him. Sharply dressed, shrewd and persuasive, profligate to the point of absurdity and impossible to pin down. He's sleek, slick, and slippery, evoking his serpentine form even for people who've only ever seen him as a slim-hipped young man with good cheekbones. It's an image built for tempting: He's lithe in a way that makes some lustful and others envious, liquid in a way that inspires thoughts of decades-long naps. He flaunts wealth that others can't help but covet, drinks with such relish that others can't help but succumb. If he slows the Bentley down to the point where humans actually notice it, he can whip the most patient of men into a frothy rage with nothing more than a shit-eating grin (usually accompanied by an indicator-less lane change). And the smug types who would never be lured by such venal bait tend not to realize they've walked right into the final trap – the prideful, pious bastards.

That's what he's going for, at least. It's all part of the job, the wiling and beguiling, and even though the one-on-one approach to enticement was a strategy best left to less populous centuries, he'd gotten in the habit of embodying temptation ages ago. It keeps his numbers up during the not-infrequent periods where he isn't actively inveigling souls. Not that he doesn't enjoy a good spot of luring humans to wickedness (even when it amounts to something more like clearing obstacles out of the way as they run pell mell toward it on their own). But he can lose touch with that personal aspect of the work when he's focusing on subtle, large-scale projects like turning an entire county's bathwater tepid or scrambling the television signals just before tea-time Saturday.

Unlike Aziraphale, who never saw a beleaguered human he didn't try to uplift. The angel isn't all sweetness and light – anyone who's ever gotten between him and the last profiterole could tell you that – but Aziraphale inhabits his job in a way Crowley can't really comprehend. It's effortless, completely instinctual, how Aziraphale exudes peace and goodwill and do-unto-others-ness. He's the bloody personification of English affability, circa 1952. And, of course, he comes across as frightfully queer.

Crowley generally doesn't bother making the effort to be other than sexless; it's much easier to get several humans revved up on whatever appeal they find in him and then throw them at each other – it increases the potential for mayhem exponentially and leaves him time to stop 'round the bookshop or get back to his flat in time for the Golden Girls repeat. Still, when humans who weren't actively looking for someone to go to bed with make assumptions about his sexuality, more often than not they think he's gay. "More often" being at about the same rate as he's found fielding my dears and dear boys from Aziraphale. He's tried more than once to convey his disdain for Aziraphale's poncey vocabulary, but he thinks Aziraphale may be misinterpreting the scorn as fondness.

Deliberately misinterpreting, most likely – Aziraphale does enjoy insisting that Crowley's harboring a spark of goodness somewhere inside of him, like a parasite in the small intestine he doesn't actually have. It's a very lazy angelic attempt to redeem him, or to preemptively thwart his desire to wile someone, or something goodness-me-not-devious. Can't blame him, Crowley thinks as he picks up the phone. Crowley regularly pits Aziraphale's better nature against his appreciation for a nice meal in the same sort of lazy effort at temptation; his counterpart never fails to oblige him and neglect his work for at least a few courses.

"Hello?" Aziraphale answers in a mellifluous voice.

"It's me."

"Crowley! How lovely to hear from you," Aziraphale positively trills.

Crowley can make out a faint rustling in the background. Go— Sa— Who knows why Aziraphale has his wings out, but Crowley winces reflexively, thinking of the likely state of the angel's feathers. For all the care he takes in crafting his human image, Aziraphale is downright neglectful with his angelic grooming. Crowely's seen his wings countless times, popping out inadvertently to help him balance when he's reaching to a high shelf for another book or, equally likely, a bottle of wine. He has the decency to look abashed, at least, if Crowley points out how disheveled they are, but Crowley's own feathers still itch in sympathy and he's found himself, in the more inebriated instances, halfway to offering to set the benighted things aright.

"There's a new chef at that 'fascinating little bistro' three blocks from your shop," Crowley says, "Let me tempt you to some dinner tonight."

"Yes, tonight would be fine. I'll meet you there at seven, my dear."

Crowley listens to the dial tone for a few moments before he realizes Aziraphale has hung up. He's distracted; the phantom itching, a perpetual tickle that's somehow under his shoulder blade and two inches above it at the same time, where his wing would be if he were in his other form, is driving him crazy. He unfurls his wings, glad of the ultra-chic empty space in his flat, and flutters them thoroughly. The dull surface of his preposterously large flat screen TV isn't much of a mirror, but Crowley catches sight of his reflection in the gleaming surface of his refrigerator, all six foot tall and fourteen-foot wingspan of his infernal form staring back at him across the flat (though he doesn't actually have a state-of-the-art ice maker in his abdomen), yellow eyes blinking once, slowly.

He looks away. It's disconcerting, the way they don't change, haven't changed since his first assignment, back in the Garden. He shifts back into his favorite form, wings folding neatly out of existence, and reminds himself that the slinkiness of his suit against his body, the supple roll of his gait – it's a choice, a conscious effort to match beguiling form with wiling function. This body that fits so well is a business decision, and it's a damned fine one.

The clock reads quarter-'til as he materializes a new pair of sunglasses. Tempting Aziraphale to dinner is all well and evil, but he doubts he gets credit in Hell's ledgers for it anymore. Maybe he should make a pass at Aziraphale, he thinks, straightening his tie as he heads out the door. The angel would never see it coming and might be disoriented enough to yield to any number of smaller vices. At the very least, Aziraphale would be flustered for a good century or so; Crowley could get a lot of work done in the time it takes the angel to regain his composure. And after six thousand years, Aziraphale is due to have his feathers ruffled.