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Recuperation

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There are very few things that can make immortals ill. One of them is the personification of Pestilence.

Aziraphale sighed. "Really, Crowley, you should have been more careful."

The demon mumbled something in reply, burrowing deeper into the scratchy old sheets. He sighed as Aziraphale laid a cool hand on his feverish forehead. "These sheets aren't new, are they?"

The angel smiled. "Finally grateful that everything I own is outdated? You can relax, my dear, these aren't infected." He held a cup to Crowley's lips. "Drink up, you'll feel better."

Crowley had not actually caught the Black Death – at least, Aziraphale hoped not – but he did have the flu, and his immune system was weakened. Aziraphale did not want to risk it, but at the same time, he did have a duty to the people around him. The plague had not spread too much yet, but it would. He lingered at the door to his room, looking from Crowley's face, shadowed in the twilight, to the entrance to his shop.

Crowley turned restlessly, unconsciously reaching out. "Angel..."

Aziraphale was at his side in an instant. "I'm here, Crowley."

"'S dark."

Aziraphale would have gone to get a lamp, but Crowley had his hand in a death grip. He sighed, letting his halo become visible. The soft, soothing glow filled the room, illuminating Crowley's pale face, and the demon made a soft noise of contentment before finally falling asleep.


The feverdreams had begun, and Crowley moaned, tossing and turning on the sheets, shivering despite his shockingly high temperature.

Pain… flames... falling… burning… darkness…

The rage and pain and madness in those eyes holds him and he cannot look away and suddenly he feels what the First feels and he screams and screams and tears of blood rake his cheeks but he cannot look away and his new Lord laughs and says he has the perfect job for you, Crawly…

Crowley cried out, and Aziraphale winced, taking and wringing out the cloth from Crowley's forehead; the cloth had better be icy cold and wet again if it knew what was good for it. His halo was bright again in his worry as he wiped Crowley's forehead and laid a cool hand on the demon, trying to bring down the temperature. Aziraphale could heal sick humans in an instant, but sick demons were another matter entirely.

Crowley suddenly arched off the sheets, screaming as though being tortured, and Aziraphale's features twisted as though he, too, felt the demon's pain. He bent over Crowley, murmuring soothingly in a mix of Aramaic andd ld Norse and their celestial milk-tongue, and the demon quietened, sighing.

Pain and darkness, and suddenly there is a light, warm and soothing and comforting, and a familiar voice, and Crawly, Crowley, blinks.

Aziraphale shuddered at the look in those eyes.

"Halo," Crowley murmured.

"Oh dear, I'm so sorry, dear boy," and Aziraphale began to turn down his halo, but Crowley moaned, shaking his head. Aziraphale blinked.

"Oh. You want me to leave it?"

Crowley nodded weakly, trying to lick his dry lips, and Aziraphale held a cup of warm water to them, letting his halo brighten again.


Uriel's face is hard, his expression merciless, as he raises his dreaded sword and Severs the angel Gadhriel, and the pain and emptiness are beyond anything he could have imagined, and he knows the Lightbringer has lied.

Uriel's face morphs into another, more beautiful and more terrible, and Lucifer's crazed eyes hold his own, and his lips twist into a parody of a smile, and Crowley feels trapped, pinned like a beetle on a card, struggling for little boys' amusement.

And then the Morningstar's face ripples, morphing into another familiar face, so much less fair and perfect, and yet at the same time somehow more beautiful. His smile is patient, and loving, and his blue eyes hold Crowley's in a very different way; his golden curls, and indeed his entire visage, are lit by his halo, the golden light glowing soothingly, and Crowley feels safe.


On the fifth day the fever broke, and Crowley retched into a bucket that was rather surprised to find itself there. Aziraphale miracled the bile away before offering water and instructions to gargle. Crowley spat, and began to feel better, even with Aziraphale fussing around like a mother hen and clucking like one too.

A thought, a gesture, and soft bread and steaming soup appeared on a tray. Aziraphale helped the still weak demon sit up, ignoring the proud golden glare, and would probably have fed him if Crowley hadn't slapped his hand away weakly. Aziraphale sighed, but let Crowley feed himself.

Crowley finished surprisingly fast, and shivered. "Cold."

And indeed, it wascold; torrential rain whipped through London, and great gusts of wind shook window-panes, and the piles of dead bodies marked by great black buboes, heaped up like so much carrion, refused to burn, and people wept in despair.

Aziraphale knew that Crowley and Pestilence were behind the plague ravaging Britain, but as he looked at the thin, pale, shivering demon scrabbling at his sheets, he couldn't bring himself to be angry. Instead he wrapped his arms and wings around Crowley, enveloping him in soft warmth, white feathers and golden light.

Crowley let his head rest against Aziraphale's shoulder, one arm around the angel's soft, round waist. After a moment, Crowley's other hand snaked up and into Aziraphale's hair before reachinginto another place, the tiny little pocket of aether where Aziraphale's wings and halo were when hidden. Aziraphale shuddered, gasping, more out of surprise than anything else; he was worried that Crowley, already weak, would suffer burnt fingers at the least from touching such holiness. But Crowley didn't seem to be affected; rather, he seemed to be comforted by the feel of the angel's halo under his strangely gentle fingers. He sighed and closed his eyes, but Aziraphale could tell – mostly by the fact that Crowley's fingers were still stroking his halo – that the demon wasn't asleep.

They sat like that for a long time.


The next day, when Aziraphale returned with a fresh pot of steaming tea, Crowley was poking distastefully at the sheets and wearing a luxurious embroidered crimson silk dressing gown that he certainly hadn't found in Aziraphale's wardrobe. He looked at the tray in the angel's hands and scowled, though it was rather half-hearted.

"No wine?"

"I see you're feeling better," Aziraphale replied mildly, setting the tray down and placing a hand on Crowley's forehead. It was normal – for Crowley, that is. A normal human would have been hallucinating with a temperature like that. At a temperature that was feverish for Crowley, they would have been dead. "Perhaps next time you'll be more careful when working with Pestilence and his warped sense of humour?"

Crowley snorted indignantly, but said nothing, continuing to pick at a bit of loose wool in the blanket. Aziraphale hadn't moved his hand, and Crowley said nothing. After a moment he looked up. Aziraphale made to move his hand, but Crowley gripped it with the speed of a striking viper. He cleared his throat, rather awkwardly, and mumbled something.

"Speak up, my dear, I couldn't quite catch that," Aziraphale said cheerfully, although as an angel he could hear it just fine, and Crowley knew it.

"I ssaid, thankss, and you know it," he hissed.

"Well, I could hardly have sent you home to suffer alone," Aziraphale smiled, stroking Crowley's hair with his free hand. There was a pregnant pause. Crowley took a deep, unnecessary breath.

"I, er, had a lot of odd dreamss," he said slowly. "And I'm not sso ssure ssome of them weren't real."

"Which ones?" Aziraphale asked softly, and for some reason, his voice made Crowley feel as though something was stuck in his throat. He cleared it again.

"You were here mosst of the time, weren't you? And your halo was sshining."

"It seemed to comfort you," Aziraphale sat down on the bed, facing Crowley, still stroking his hair with one hand, the other still held captive.
"There was a sstorm, one night. And," Crowley paused, swallowing, "you held me."

Aziraphale said nothing. He didn't need to, and as Crowley gazed into those blue eyes, he forgot what he'd been about to say. Had they always held such endless love and compassion? Or had Crowley simply been blind to it until recently?

The angel sat unmoving, letting his counterpart thread his fingers through golden curls, questing searchingly.

"Show me your halo?"

Aziraphale's fingers wrapped around Crowley's wrist, encouragingly, and he smiled as his halo began to shine. Crowley touched it gently, reveling in the soft sound of Aziraphale's gasp as his fingers made contact with the pure holy energy that was part of the angel.

"Let me see yours," Aziraphale murmured.

Demons did indeed have halos, although warped and distorted by the terrible transformation they underwent when Falling, and perhaps 'aura' would be a better word. It was pure infernal energy, primordial darkness that seemed to absorb any light, the very antithesis of an angel's halo. Crowley hadn't let his become visible since some lapses in control back when they had still been fighting. He let it become visible now, and the room seemed to darken slightly; the darkness played across his skin; and for a moment he looked as though he had scales. He winced almost imperceptibly, waiting for his counterpart's? friend's? lover's? reaction.

Aziraphale couldn't resist reaching out to touch it, like a child reaching towards fire; where his own halo was soft and soothing, this was dark and menacing. He shuddered, not unpleasantly, at the sensation, like pressing your fingers against a very sharp, very deadly blade. Crowley hissed, and Aziraphale hurriedly withdrew his hand, but Crowley quickly pulled it back.

"Feelss… good." His fingers twitched against Aziraphale's halo, and the angel bit back a moan. A strange glint came into the demon's eyes, as he purposefully stroked, and this time Aziraphale couldn't hold back the moan. Crowley gasped at the sound.

"Angel… I want to take this sslowly, but you're not helping -" He broke off, swallowing, as gentle fingers stroked his halo.

"Crowley," Aziraphale sighed, eyes meeting his, "I think we've both waited long enough. We've been dancing around this for a very long time."

"Well, in thatcasse…" Crowley hissed, closing the distance between their lips.

Neither could tell who groaned – perhaps both did – as Aziraphale's tongue tentatively touched Crowley's too-sharp canines, as Crowley plundered Aziraphale's mouth. A serpentine twist, and Crowley had his angel pinned to the sheets, and Aziraphale squeaked as his erstwhile patient banished the angel's tunic with a thought (it ended up on the altar of a nearby church) and began to lay openmouthed kisses along the fair column of his exposed throat.

Crowley hissed, his pupils so dilated they looked almost human, as Aziraphale ran teasing fingers along the edge of his halo; his tongue flickered out, tasting the sheer arousal in the supercharged air between them, as he deliberately stroked the angel's halo, slowly, sensuously, and Aziraphale threw his head back and keened.

It was more than just feeling the warmth of divine light on his fingers; Crowley could sense his counterpart's halo, could feel the tingle of divine energy with his mind as Aziraphale moaned, control slipping. His halo brightened, and wings burst out to envelop them in a canopy of white feathers. Crowley was momentarily distracted, burying his face in Aziraphale's wings, breathing in the smell of clean angel feathers, licking them, glorying in the way Aziraphale shuddered and cried out gibberish in Aramaic and Sanskrit and gripped his shoulders, kissing him hard.

Crowley was beginning to feel as though he was having another feverdream, because surely this couldn't be real, surely the fantasies that had been haunting his half-conscious mind for millennia weren't becoming reality. He was drunk, drunk on the sight and feel of Aziraphale's halo, the scent of soft, fresh feathers that smelled of Heaven, the sounds Aziraphale made as he tasted the angel's sweet skin; he was drowning and he didn't want to surface. There was no going back, after this, but if he was honest with himself (which was more often that you'd think, for a demon; Aziraphale was the one more practiced in the fine art of denial) he didn't want to. They'd been dancing around this, whatever it was, for centuries, and Crowley was sick of veiled hints and quick glances over dinner and wine, and light, accidental touches on the arm and soft smiles. He gazed at Aziraphale's halo, before shutting his eyes, not because it was too bright but because he wanted to simply feel that it was realand give himself over to pure sensation.

A thought and there was no more irritating cloth separating them, and Aziraphale gasped and moved under him and Crowley sank his fangs – there was no way they could pass off as mere teeth now – into the unmarred skin of the angel's shoulder to hide his moan, and to mark him. His, his to have and hold and do sinfully delicious things to, and there was the raised red proof of it.

He hissed as they moved together, and he had to keep his eyes open now, just to drink in the look on Aziraphale's face, that expression of pure divine rapture that really should not have been as arousing as it was. Aziraphale's eyes were shut, head falling backwards, mouth open as though surprised, and his halo was steadily brightening; in fact, the angel was literally glowing, a perfect foil to the darkness of Crowley's own halo, and although this much holy energy should have had Crowley in extreme agony by now, he was unaffected. Perhaps it was because he was accustomed to Aziraphale's aura, but at the moment Crowley didn't care; he was in no mood for puzzling out things or even for coherent thought at all, lost in the sight of Aziraphale and the sensation of his angel beneath him, fitting together so perfectly, and the way it felt when they moved together just like that and oh, yes.

Aziraphale himself had lost all coherent thought some time ago, possibly around the time Crowley's skilful tongue had made contact with his feathers. He was lost in the overwhelming sensations, in Crowley's intense golden eyes, in the tension coiling in his groin, and he reached towards the darkness of Crowley's halo by pure instinct, touching and stroking. Crowley gave a strangled hiss, his fingers twisting almost harshly in Aziraphale's halo before quickly reverting to gentle stroking as the angel gasped, their bodies still moving together.

Crowley leaned down, pressing his lips to Aziraphale's before tentatively touching them to Aziraphale's halo, shivering as he tasted the pure, unalloyed holy energy, and for a moment, he remembered what it felt like to be an angel. He moved his lips against it, and Aziraphale gave an animal cry, shudders wracking his body as he came undone, his halo so bright Crowley was momentarily blinded, and the combination of Aziraphale looking like that, oh, and the divine light washing over him drove him, too, over the edge.

The demon collapsed on his lover before rolling to the side, sweaty, sated, both of them panting and still slightly dazed, halos dimming to much less blinding levels. He pressed languid kisses to salty skin, licking away the sweat, and Aziraphale hummed contentedly, eyes still unfocused, before taking a deep breath.

"That… was…"

"Ssshut up," Crowley mumbled, face burrowing into the juncture of Aziraphale's neck and shoulder as he held his angel close, markedly not cuddling. His angel. He silently repeated it a few times. His. And Aziraphale's halo was still pure, untainted; if Crowley had known that Aziraphale would be unaffected, he would have done this a long time ago, without a fever to blame.

Aziraphale threaded gentle fingers though Crowley's damp black hair, kissing the sweaty forehead. He smiled. "I take it you're fully recovered, then."

"Mm," Crowley responded softly, reaching blindly for the covers, pulling the woollen blanket up to their shoulders before pulling Aziraphale even closer. "Thiss how you treat all your patientss? In that casse, I'm sstill ssick." His eyelids felt heavy, and he wanted nothing more right now than to sleep, curled around his angel.

"Really, my dear," Aziraphale murmured, his arms encircling Crowley's shoulders and slim hips. He didn't need to say anything more; there was no need. "Sleep; you still need to rest."

Crowley didn't reply, already asleep. Aziraphale smiled, sighing contentedly. Rain was once more lashing the windows, and he could almost smell the bonfires from earlier and the disease and despair in the air, and the stormy sky did nothing for the drab walls of the bookshop, so different from the calm light and whiteness of Heaven, but right now Aziraphale had never felt less homesick.