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Memory is a Curious Thing

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Aziraphale originally thought that it started with a book. A regular book this time, which was a relief but only just. It was a book from a fancy new Waterstones that had opened a few blocks away, and Crowley carrying it into the shop without the slightest never mind. It had started with snow though, really. And a lingering feeling of needing to do something quite important. He did like the snow though. He’d liked it enough to insist on accompanying Crowley all the way to Austria the previous year just to be around more of it. Well worth it, even if Crowley had spent the vast percentage of his time in Austria asleep. To be fair, he’d gone there specifically because wanted to “be somewhere properly quiet and sleep for a bloody month” in his words.

It was only a flutter of snow falling outside the shop window but the smell had him strangely unsettled. Aziraphale didn't like feeling unsettled so instead opted to feel irritable. Angels don't like feeling irritable either but Aziraphale felt he'd rather gotten the hang of it. He was irritably reshelving books and irritably dusting spines when the door clicked open with a waft of demon and dirty snow.

He shook his head to clear the smell and noticed Crowley’s Waterstones bag and looked at it pointedly.

“What? It’s a bestseller and you don’t carry those” Crowley said, shaking snow from his coat.

“I could have ordered it” Aziraphale replied evenly.

“You don’t do special orders, you have a sign right there that says so” Crowley pointed to a sign in Aziraphale’s neat handwriting outlining the services that his shop did not provide. It was a long list.

Aziraphale pursed his lips “I would have made an exception for you.”

“Look, I just wanted a book that was written after the Synod of Whitby. I didn’t think you’d be hurt by my shopping at another bookstore and didn’t want to bother you with a special order for a book that’s barely worth the paper it’s printed on.” Crowley took off his sunglasses to get a better look at Aziraphale, who was starting to stiffen his shoulders in a way that Crowley knew to be wary of.

“Yes, well, I would have done it. And I’ll thank you not to bring books from other shops in here. It gives the wrong impression to customers.”

Crowley nodded his head at the ‘Hours Open’ sign hanging in the window “You don’t want customers. You’ve made a concerted effort to ward them off.”

“Nonetheless, I would appreciate it if you would not openly carry your parcel in my shop” Aziraphale was aware he was using his ‘customer service’ voice on Crowley and regretted it. It was meant to sound assured and clear but Crowley had said that ‘prim arsehole’ was a more apt description of it.

“Noted, I won’t do it again. Now, can we go, angel? The weather is finally miserable enough that I can drink Port after dinner without feeling absurd and I intend to enjoy it.”

~

Crowley drove them in silence to the restaurant which had a wine list several pages longer than the menu. Crowley had tucked away his book into a shoulder bag that he had insisted was perfectly popular with men and men-shaped beings now, and was deeply engaged in the wine menu. Aziraphale felt he’d handled the book situation poorly earlier and was hopeful that he might smooth it over but Crowley didn’t even look up. Or acknowledge the waiter. Several times. Aziraphale politely told the young man that they might need another few minutes. Finally he just addressed Crowley’s downturned head and hoped the rest of Crowley might be in a listening mood.

“So, what book was it?” Aziraphale asked lightly. Crowley muttered something unintelligible.

“Pardon?”

“‘Prince Lestat’” he said flatly.

“Oh. I rather thought you wouldn’t have gone in for that sort of thing.” Aziraphale said in what he had intended to be a neutral tone but inevitably had the condescending sound of a bookstore owning angel.

“I’m not! I just like to check in on what she’s doing. She’d been writing all of these books that got young people to hang out in graveyards, wear black, and pretend to drink blood and then she “found” your lot and stopped. I just wanted to see that she’s firmly back in our camp.”

“You don’t have to be ashamed of it. I’ve read my share of ‘Popular Literature’” Aziraphale insisted. He really had too. He’d read all of Oscar Wilde’s works, had several Alexandre Dumas novels, and read the Chronicles of Narnia, although he found them a bit preachy for his tastes.

Crowley looked suspiciously at Aziraphale. Each of them had become quietly invested in certain human things. For Aziraphale, it was sushi, manicures, collecting rare books that had been saved and carefully preserved by humans for years before coming into his shop, and live theatre when the West End was putting on a decent show. Crowley, on top of his interest in plants and the pursuit of stylishness, nursed a quiet love for fantasy and science fiction. It wasn’t reasonable, dignified, or sensible but humans made so little sense out of their own world that they went and created others where the rules were clearer. Crowley could admire that.

“Fine, I wanted to read it.”

“Perhaps I’ll get a copy myself” Aziraphale said, not sure why he was saying it. Crowley looked at him like he was worried Aziraphale might be losing the plot.

“Yes, well then. I’ll just call over the sommelier then, shall I?” A few painful minutes of pretend menu perusal passed before she came over to them.

“Hello, what can I tempt you with? We have some lovely reds perfect for accompanying a roast or either of the confits on the menu!”

“I want something from the menu that will go with the Brunate 2010 Nebbiolo Barolo” Crowley said.

She was smiling playfully through thick rimmed glasses “Ah, already made up your mind then? That’s a shame. Well I can say that the pork roast with cherries plays well with the berry notes.”

Crowley gave her a considering look “What would you drink then?”

“I think the 2007 Finca Bella Vista is more enjoyable if you want something rich and complex. I can’t imagine you drink ordinary things. You spent 20 minutes looking at the wine list and sent the waiter away 3 times already while you looked at it, you called me over before you even chose your entrees, and you flipped back and forth between the old world and new world wines several times before you asked about the 2010 Brunate” she grinned. “Besides that, I really think you’ll find the Barolo less compelling than the reviews claim. It’s good, of course, but for this time of year I really recommend something more vibrant.” As Aziraphale peered over his menu at Crowley, observing as the sommelier slid smile after warm and inviting smile across her face, his nails dug into the thick leather of the menu.

“And I seem like the vibrant type…”

“You seem like the interesting type and this is an interesting wine” She said simply, cocking her head in what Aziraphale assumed she meant to be a charming way.

Crowley sighed slightly “interestingness isn’t what I usually drink for, if anything it’s to stop the interestingness.”

The sommelier leaned forward in a way that brought her uncomfortably close to Crowley “I doubt that” she teased “but I’ll bring them both and we’ll see how interestingness rates.” She threw Crowley a half wink as she went to the cellar, the click of her Oxfords following her.

Aziraphale cleared his throat and set his menu down. Crowley rolled his eyes “Sommeliers are always trouble. You can never just order without having to try something else. Although, this is the first time I’ve ever had one try to sell me on a less expensive bottle.”

“Well, she did seem keen to make sure that you ended up with something you’d like” Aziraphale said, examining the state of his cuticles with effortful nonchalance.

“She wants a good tip and she’s doing what she thinks it’ll take to get one, angel” Crowley threw an arm over the back of his chair and Aziraphale found himself drawn into a conversation about whether or not they should see the Panto this year.

As it happened, the Finca Bella Vista won Crowley over and dinner was delicious, even if the sommelier continued making eyes at him every time she poured. She left her number on the bill, but Aziraphale grabbed it and paid hurriedly as soon as he noticed. Crowley was mercifully unaware of her attraction and Aziraphale would keep it that way. After dealing with the bill and shooting a reproachful look at the sommelier, the two stepped out of the restaurant and into the icy air. Such cold hands. Aziraphale suddenly reached for Crowley and felt Crowley’s hand light on his shoulder.

“Angel, are you okay? Do you need to sober up?” Crowley looked genuinely concerned that Aziraphale might not stay upright.

Aziraphale shook his head “It’s nothing dear boy, just thought I’d stepped on an icy patch.” Crowley drove him home and Aziraphale spent the rest of the night debating whether or not to order ‘Prince Lestat’ but wasn’t entirely sure why it felt important to.

~
Hallstatt, Austria, A year ago
Crowley was asleep. The B&B had obligingly given over several extra duvets and Crowley had used every single one of them to bury himself deeper into the covers. Aziraphale had seen most of Hallstatt and some of the surrounding areas, enjoyed the Christmas market, bought rather more chocolate than he’d intended to, and perhaps overindulged in Glühwein. He’s also found some exceptionally well preserved German liturgical texts he didn’t already have, he’d already securely packed them away. He understood that Crowley had intended to use this time to sleep but really, he had to see something before they left. Aziraphale was very firm on the fact that the airport didn’t count as “one of the sights.” Aziraphale shook Crowley into the edges of wakefulness, levered him into proper clothes, and mostly forced him out of the room and into the open air. Crowley scowled through dinner and Aziraphale kept up a polite stream of conversation about all of the things he’d done while Crowley slept. Crowley looked deeply irritated that none of those things involved pissing off and leaving him to sleep. Aziraphale ignored the look and put a glass of Ruster Ausbruch under his nose. Crowley was considerably more agreeable after that.
~

Aziraphale started spending more and more time with Crowley. He rationalized it as protecting Crowley from the wiles of those that might tempt him into sin, then remembered that Crowley was a demon and surely Crowley should be applauding if not outright rewarding that kind of human endeavor. He decided not to think too closely on it, it was the holidays, Crowley was his friend and it was only natural to want to spend time in the company of a friend at this time of year.

He’d gone to a plant shop with Crowley, insisting that he’d wanted to get something green for the bookstore. The sales assistant was familiar with Crowley and seemed to need to get unnaturally close to him in order to explain the care of various Ficus plants.

He had a cherubic look to him that set Aziraphale on edge immediately. Crowley seemed ignorant of how hard the young man was trying to draw his attention towards his blond curls and blush pink lips. Aziraphale distracted him by insisting that the young man show him precisely how to properly water the English Ivy he had purchased. At each attempt to get away and speak to Crowley, Aziraphale produce yet more polite questions for him.

As soon as Crowley had paid for his Fiddle Leaf, Aziraphale smiled “Well, thank you for your time. You’ve been especially helpful. I’ll be sure to speak to you when choosing my next plant.” The young man looked at him in mute horror. They left without Crowley being asked for a mobile number.

A little over a week later he’d volunteered to go to the new Waterstones with Crowley to pick up something light to read. Crowley browsed aimlessly and was accosted four times by “helpful” shop assistants. Aziraphale silently vowed to special order anything Crowley ever wanted to read if it meant not having to go through this. Crowley looked proudly at the display for “Fifty Shades of Gray”, which Aziraphale had never read but had certainly heard about and had pointedly not asked Crowley if he’d been involved with its creation. A sales girl with a name tag reading “Jorie” tapped on Crowley’s shoulder and pressed a copy of a book titled “The Boss” into his hands.

She gave him a meaningful look and said “Read this. Trust me.”

Aziraphale couldn’t say that he’d read “The Boss” but the cover spoke volumes about the prominent themes featured therein. He prickled with frustration; there was simply no taking Crowley anywhere without someone attempting to steal his attention. Aziraphale would just have to be more vigilant. For Crowley’s protection, obviously.
Once Crowley settled on a book and had purchase in hand, he dragged them to a nearby bar café that happened to do a lovely mulled cider. Crowley gravitated towards it every holiday season. He had a deep fondness for wassail and had possibly started the tradition of drunkenly singing to an orchard. Aziraphale hadn’t really kept a close enough eye on him in the eighth century, more fool he. Crowley sipped contentedly and flicked through his book. Aziraphale drank and felt the liquid go down warm then course little rivulets of heat into his belly. It wasn’t as lively in the mouth as the Glühwein had been last year but he couldn’t recall having felt so warmed by it either. Sweat was gathering on his brow and the back of his neck so he left Crowley to his reading and ordered an acceptable red, which found itself surprised at becoming a really rather fine Burgundy. He drank it over an hour, staring at the raw cheeked patrons shuffling in from the cold, unwrapping themselves and shivering happily as the warm air hit them.

~
Hallstatt
The Ausbruch had cheered Crowley up to no end. He chose a Sacher torte for dessert, Aziraphale ate through several apricot dumplings and a punschkrapfen before they finally had coffee. Crowley had quietly moaned into the delicate cup through most of it, but when he could find a moment, did ask Aziraphale the odd question about Hallstatt. Aziraphale insisted they go for a walk around the piers so Crowley could at least see them this once. Crowley countered that if they were going to do anything as ridiculously cold as walking at night around a lake in winter that they were going to be doing it while drinking something hot. Aziraphale bought two cups of Glühwein from a vendor closing up shop at the Christmas market. They strolled aimlessly, letting the steam furl under their noses and watching the water move on the lake.
~

 

“I’ll come with you” Aziraphale said. After the Waterstones mishap was determined not to leave Crowley unattended if he could at all avoid it.

Crowley gave him the kind of look that suggested Aziraphale couldn’t possibly have understood what he’d just said. “I’m getting my hair cut. There’s no point in you coming along.”

“I was thinking of getting mine cut” Aziraphale said smoothly. Because he had been thinking of getting it cut. He’d very seriously considered it for the whole of the 1890s, but ultimately decided it was fine as it was.

Crowley looked skeptical but checked his watch “Well, get your coat then, we can’t be late, Henrik has the harshest late cancellation policy I’ve ever seen. It’s inspiring, really.”

Crowley had described Gielly Green as “reassuringly expensive” and upon arriving Aziraphale thought that if one was reassured by such things then this would have to be the most reassuring place imaginable. The towels alone were probably worth the same as one of Aziraphale’s more well-preserved hymnals.

A sharply dressed man Aziraphale assumed was Henrik swept Crowley into a hug and kissed his cheek fiercely before pulling back to look at Crowley. Henrik turned out to be a strikingly tall dark skinned man with dreadlocks arranged into a scrupulously perfect bun. His sense of style was inscrutable to Aziraphale but it looked like the sort that was so modern even Crowley might feel shabby by comparison, which was no mean feat.

“I’m so glad it’s you! I do this to every piece that walks in, hoping it’s you, and it’s almost never is, alas! You haven’t been seeing other stylists behind my back, have you?”

Aziraphale felt a frisson of irritation but Crowley gave a charming smile “No, not if it meant risking your wrath. I saw you make that junior stylist cry, remember?”

“Smart boy” Henrik gave a grin that bordered on baring teeth “And who’s this you’ve brought along?”

“Henrik, this is Fell. Fell, Henrik. Fell’s been considering a new look, isn’t that right?”

Aziraphale gritted his teeth. He disliked being called Fell, but Mr. Fell wasn’t really acceptable these days and he had to be called something. He’d suggested ‘Raph’ but Crowley refused to even consider it and Aziraphale had vetoed ‘Ezra’, Crowley and Aziraphale both agreed that they would accept an actual Apocalypse before they would accept ‘Az’, so Fell it was. “Yes, I thought it might be time.”

Henrik reached out and touched Aziraphale’s hair without warning, judging texture and running his fingers through it. “Easy. You’ve got very soft, responsive hair. Who do you normally see?” Aziraphale looked blank.

Crowley smoothly cut in “A little place in Soho, you wouldn’t know it.”

Henrik gave a sly smile “I know Soho very well, as you are aware. Nonetheless, I’ll let you keep your secret. Whoever you’ve seen before didn’t know the gift they had. Your hair is luscious! You haven’t given it anything like the love it deserves. We’ll sort you out, flower, never fear. I can’t take you in hand today though, I’ve got to enjoy Crowley’s locks when I get the chance” touching a possessive hand to Crowley’s arm, “but Petra is one of our best, she’ll take good care of you.”

Aziraphale found himself gently herded by a young Middle Eastern woman with several piercings and sporting a dark purple headscarf. Petra asked him only a few questions but Aziraphale could see she’d sussed out that he wasn’t going to be much help in the styling department so had gone quiet, making the occasional considering hum as she took him through washing, drying, and cutting. Aziraphale hardly noticed any of it, his attention was fixed on Crowley across the room having an animated conversation with Henrik. As Aziraphale watched Crowley being shampooed, he could practically see his toes curling in pleasure.

“Sir, could you relax your shoulders please? I need to use the razor for a second” Petra asked.

Aziraphale realized he’d been tensing and relaxed “Apologies, my dear, I was just – not paying attention, I suppose.”

Petra smiled kindly at him in the mirror “Henrik won’t steal him from you. He’s just a flirt.”

Aziraphale waved his hand vaguely “He’s not mine. I mean to say, we’re not em, involved. Crowley is just a friend.”

Petra eyes widened “Oh, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed. You just seemed so protective aaand it’s not my business. so never mind. I’ll just not speak now” her voice quietly trailing off.

Aziraphale smiled a little tightly “Quite alright, it’s a common enough mistake.”

Petra just looked over at Crowley, now chatting up a storm with Henrik, and gave a cautiously noncommittal “Ah.”

She did a lovely job with his hair. It looked functionally the same as it did when he’d walked in. Still not particularly stylish, but fresher and tidier. Aziraphale privately resolved to come back now and again. Crowley was still having final touches made by an increasingly enthused Henrik so Aziraphale took a seat by the window, getting lost in the feathers of ice on the panes.

Crowley bounced up after another twenty minutes, looking sharper than before, with a presumably modern haircut featuring sharply tailored sides and an invitingly soft fall of hair in front that was swept out of the way of his sunglasses.

Henrik kissed both their cheeks before they left. Petra conferred quietly with Henrik while Aziraphale and Crowley put their coats on, and as they opened the door to go Petra gave Aziraphale a hopeful smile and thumbs up. Aziraphale waved back with a puzzled expression.

“What was that for, angel?” Crowley asked.

“Maybe my haircut?” Aziraphale offered.

“Er, maybe” Crowley sounded unconvinced.

The damp winter air ruffled Aziraphale’s hair and he pulled his coat up around his neck. The feeling of those cold tendrils made him shiver so he walked a little faster, and maybe miracled his scarf just a little thicker and woolier. The ride home was mainly Crowley looking the rearview mirror and fiddling with his new cut. Aziraphale watched the road but kept inadvertently pressed his hand against the cold glass of the passenger window.

~
Hallstatt
Crowley and Aziraphale had settled on a bench near an empty pier and drank some more of the Glühwein, which should have been empty by now, but Crowley wanted them full, so full they were. They were both very drunk, but Crowley was starting to see what Austria had to recommend itself, besides quite excellent alcohol and chocolate. The lake at night was rippling glass, reflecting the darkness of the mountains and the light of the night sky.

Crowley sighed thoughtfully “Ssso much better than heaven’ver was.”

“That’s going a bit tooo…far.”

“No, ss’not goin’ far enough. I’d rather be here, like it is, now, than anywhere else.” Crowley declared.

Aziraphale gave a considered hum “What, ever? Wha about Egypt? Egypt was lovely.”

“No. Thiss is better.”

“Why’s it better? Y’don’t even like snow. Y’just came here for sleeping. Could’ve gone anywhere. Slept just as well in Brighton, probly” Aziraphale threw out.

Crowley gasped so hard he almost choked. “Don’ even JOKE about Brighton! D’rather be dis-is-dis-corprat. Disc’rpor’ted! Than have t’spend a week there!”

Aziraphale giggled and took another warm guzzle. Crowley shook off his distaste, and looked out over the quiet lake. The small swells plinked and gurgled against the pier. “You’re not there tho’. You’re here. So here’s good.”

“S’good here” Aziraphale nodded.

Crowley rolled his eyes “No, Tha’sss not it. All wrong. YOU’RE here. So’ss good here. You make it good, d’you ssee?” He smiled, confident at the clarity of his explanation.

Aziraphale furrowed his brow “I’m always here. Or there. I mean, m’always, y’know, around” he gestured carefully with his non-wine holding hand.

Crowley clumsily caught the gesturing hand in his own, and positioned it so he could wrap his own cold fingers around Aziraphale’s. “I know. S’good.”

Aziraphale felt the heat of the Glühwein move its considerable warming power to his cheeks. “D’you want it to be” he struggled for a word and in the haze of cold, warmth, and mulled wine all he could offer was “good-er?” He really hoped that the inflection was communicating what his vocabulary hadn’t managed.

Crowley gave him a muzzy smile and kissed his cheek, “But only-if you’re there.”

“M’always there” he replied confusedly. The warmth from the kiss and the warmth of the Glühwein were fighting for control of Aziraphale’s body.

Crowley shook his head “No, no sometimes, sometimes you’re not. Like when m’sleep, you’re not there. You should be, see?”

Aziraphale felt the world tilt a bit funny, the wine having won temporary victory, Crowley grabbed him to keep him upright. The Glühwein was lost to the lake. They both looked a little regretfully at the floating cups, bobbing and gleaming in the moonlight. Aziraphale noticed that Crowley was partly on top of him, holding him. Crowley noticed too.

“I could try. Would that be good?” Aziraphale breathed.

Crowley pulled Aziraphale into a pleased if awkward kiss. Aziraphale smiled against Crowley’s lips and felt the cold air burn in his lungs.
~

Aziraphale finished stirring his cocoa and pulled out the copy of ‘Interview with the Vampire’ he’d quietly ordered several weeks earlier. Reading a book without having read the rest of the series first was simply not in Aziraphale’s nature, if that meant ten vampire novels so be it. It proved an interesting read, enjoyable even. Not a patch on Wilde as Popular Literature went, obviously, but Aziraphale had learned to keep his expectations a little more reasonable. He was well into part two when he finally had to concede that perhaps it might be more comfortable to read in the upstairs room, which boasted the luxury of a properly broken in armchair. He kept reading as he turned off the lights downstairs, and as he walked up the stairs. He was hit with a wall of cold and noticed the partially open window he’d forgotten to close the last time he’d bothered to use the upstairs. He levered an elbow into place, still reading, and as he shoved down his nose was met with a whoosh of icy night air that stung.

Aziraphale ripped the page he had been trying to turn. He remembered the kiss. Previously, there’d just been a hazy pleasantness there and the vague sense that time had passed until he was properly aware of himself again. He didn’t always bother to miracle himself sober, he didn’t like to use that particular miracle too frivolously, and had simply assumed this was one of those time. The rest of the memory hovered vaguely out of sight but the sense that there was something there was unmistakable.

It was 2:26am and painfully cold outside but Aziraphale made his way over to Crowley’s anyway. He walked as briskly as he could the twenty-five minutes to Crowley’s flat and let himself in. Crowley was asleep of course, but Aziraphale was prepared to wait. He waffled for a second in the bedroom hallway, anxious to at least see Crowley, know that he wasn’t going anywhere, before he gave in and gently opened the door to Crowley’s bedroom. For a second he was afraid that perhaps Crowley wasn’t here, but the tuft of black hair peeking out from the thick duvet and Aziraphale let go of the breath he’d been holding. He gingerly stepped forward and hovered near the edge of the bed, pulling back the duvet just enough to see Crowley’s relaxed brow. A little more of the memory of that night untangled itself. They’d gone back to the B&B, somehow, and eventually ended up in the same bed with Aziraphale watching Crowley as he slept. His recall of Crowley’s face that night was dreamlike but he could clearly remember the feelings of possessiveness and affection that had taken hold of him.
Aziraphale hadn’t given his feelings for Crowley too much thought beyond a firm desire to keep Crowley in his life but now that they were being stirred up like this he wasn’t terribly surprised to find that he loved Crowley and wanted to share even more with him. Perhaps the emotional equivalent of realizing that the reason there’s no post is because it’s a bank holiday. “Ah, yes, of course. Obvious really.”

He wanted to crawl in bed with him now, wrap around him and…do what? These feelings for Crowley weren’t exactly platonic but they’d also just been shaken out of hibernation and weren’t very detailed. Aziraphale wasn’t fully clear on what else he and Crowley might actually do. He’d seen sex plenty of times, even been peripherally involved a few times, but with Crowley and more than 2,000 years of foreplay on the books nothing between them would be as simple or prosaic as sex. Maybe there wouldn’t even be sex? No, there would definitely be sex. Well ok, Aziraphale wanted there to be sex. Sex was perhaps not even the right word. He wanted to share something with Crowley that was just between them and involved their whole selves. He’d once drunkenly described the angelic understanding of sex to Crowley as “two souls rubbing together and for a little bit, they’re just one, larger, more complete soul.” Crowley had laughed so hard he’d lost his balance, fell off his chair, and ended up curled under the table, gripping Aziraphale’s leg and, between gasps of laughter, begging him to “say it again, c’mon, please?!” He hadn’t brought it up again, but Crowley used ‘rubbing souls’ as a euphemism through most of the 18th century. Nonetheless, he was sure that Crowley had understood what he meant.

Aziraphale forced himself to leave the bedroom before he gave into the desire to climb into bed with Crowley or to shake him awake and ask for answer, or to just kiss him and see if that brought back some more memories. All tempting, but he would wait. He padded out, made the quietest cup of tea possible, and sat on the sofa.
~

Crowley stretched, burrowed deeper, stretched again, yawned, slumped out of bed, wrapped himself in a thick cashmere housecoat, and wandered out of the bedroom. This was followed by a stifled scream because Crowley had never and would never get over his fear of surprise guests since Ligur’s visit. Aziraphale came out of his thoughts and rushed over.

“Oh my dear boy, are you alright?”

“YES! Are you alright!? What are you doing here? Is something wrong? Please tell me that you haven’t heard from your superiors.”

“No, no, nothing like that at all. Silence as usual, thank goodness. I just came over to ask you about something.”

Crowley sagged in relief and then promptly bristled “Without calling, without texting, at who only knows what time of night, to sit on a sofa and then try to what, terrify answers out of me?”

Aziraphale looked sheepish “I admit, it seemed like it couldn’t possibly wait at the time.”

Crowley pinned him with a look “And you’re certain this isn’t Apocalypse 2.0: We mean it this time?”

“I promise, it’s nothing like that. It’s rather personal, as it happens.”

“Fine. Fine, what couldn’t wait until a proper hour, like two in the afternoon?”

“Well, you did give me a key.” Aziraphale pointed out.

“For emergencies, Apocalypse or higher!”

“I can come back later?”

“No, just, please say whatever it is now.”

“I remembered. Something from Halstatt. I wanted to know what I still don’t remember” Aziraphale said carefully.

Crowley’s demeanor flattened immediately “Ah. So that’s come home to roost, has it? Well, there’s not a lot to say. It happened and you didn’t remember and I wasn’t sure if you just couldn’t remember, you really were quite drunk, or if you were pretending, so I decided to let it lay” He said it with a tone of boredom but Aziraphale could see the defensive hunch in Crowley’s shoulders.

“What actually did happen?” Aziraphale pressed

Crowley recited “I kissed you, we went back to the B&B, there was more kissing, a few clothes came off, I fell asleep beside you, woke up the next day, you acted like nothing had happened.”

Aziraphale had flashes of memory. A cold hand on his cheek, a shivery feeling in his belly, Crowley’s eyes, warm skin against his chest, wanting to keep Crowley here by his side at any cost. He struggled to think of something to say.

Crowley turned and slouched into the kitchen to flick on the kettle. “So, now you know.”

“You could have told me” Aziraphale finally said, a little irritably.

Crowley gave him a glare and waited for Aziraphale to catch up to himself.

Aziraphale sighed “I just meant, why didn’t you tell me?!”

Crowley miserably slammed toast into the toaster, turned back and said “You either wanted to pretend it hadn’t happened or you didn’t remember, and I was hoping to avoid this agonizing conversation we’re having now. Given the possibilities, why would I bring it up?”

“Because there could be more kissing” Aziraphale blurted out.

Crowley raised an eyebrow “You’re taking this ‘bit of a bastard’ thing too far now, angel.”

Aziraphale collected himself “I meant to say that I would have liked to have em, kissed you more” Crowley looked skeptical “or been kissed by you more” Crowley settled somewhat. “And I am sorry that I don’t remember. I wish that I did. What I do remember was, well, it was very…nice.”

There was a long pause and Aziraphale started to move towards his coat. Crowley spoke “I could, if you wanted to, maybe, give you a reminder” Crowley looked meaningfully at Aziraphale whose eyes widened.

“Yes, I would…that would be lovely”

There was an awkward silence as neither of them moved and the kettle boiled. Crowley was a practical demon first and foremost, so he poured water into the pot, then pulled Aziraphale into a hesitant kiss. Aziraphale couldn’t remember anything new, but couldn’t be bothered to care. He reached up to cup Crowley’s cheek and the hesitant kiss slid into a rather enthusiastic snog. Crowley willed the counter empty, not really all that bothered about the tea and toast anymore and thinking of far more practical uses for the counter, perched on the edge of it and wrapped himself around Aziraphale. Something tickled in Aziraphale’s brain and he remembered pinning Crowley to the bed, trying to touch as much of him as possible. It was like remembering someone else’s memory. He could see himself from the outside, leaving messy nips and bites on Crowley’s shoulders. He tried an experimental nip on Crowley’s neck now. Crowley sagged against him.

“Something jog your memory?” he teased. Aziraphale just tugged the housecoat down off Crowley’s shoulders and kissed his collarbones, pressing his tongue into the hollows, Crowley gasped and clung tighter. Aziraphale could feel Crowley making the effort and minutely shifting said effort against Aziraphale belly through their clothes. He got his hands under Crowley’s bottom and bumpily maneuvered to the bedroom, landing in an untidy heap on the unmade bed.

“I er, don’t really know what happens now” Aziraphale confessed, looking chagrined “I mean, in theory it’s all very clear, but the specifics are ah, well.”

Crowley looked, if anything, even more shy “My understanding is that it’s sort of friction based. Any kind of touching should work, hands, mouths, I could be inside you or you could be inside me” his cheeks taking on a blush that made Aziraphale want to touch them.

“Do you think there’s a proper way we should be doing this?”

“I’m a man-shaped demon, you’re a man-shaped angel, we’re attempting to have sex like humans, with minimal previous experience. I don’t think proper enters into it” Crowley said rolling his eyes.

Aziraphale accepted this reasoning and continued disrobing Crowley, reverently touching each uncovered patch until he was just bare skin and a pair of briefs. Aziraphale had thought to remove them in some sort of ceremonious or sensuous way but Crowley just reached down and shoved them off, flinging them to a far corner of the room. Aziraphale was momentarily irked that Crowley had ruined the moment but that was instantly eclipsed by the sight of a nude Crowley writhing happily on a downy soft sheepskin that Aziraphale was sure wasn’t there earlier. His whole body felt like one big rush of heat. He wanted everything Crowley might ever be remotely interested in giving him, he wanted to give Crowley whatever it is he could possibly want.

Practically speaking though, he just placed his mouth on Crowley and hoped for the best. It seemed closer to kissing, which Aziraphale felt a modicum of comfort with. Crowley howled and clutched at the anything he could reach before digging his fingers into Aziraphale’s shoulders and thrusting wildly. Aziraphale bobbed his head, trying to follow Crowley’s thrusts. The feel of Crowley sliding past his lips was unlike anything he’d felt before and he drank in every strangled cry Crowley made. The slickness, the pressure, the weight of Crowley’s cock on his tongue. Aziraphale tried flicking his tongue, like he had on other parts of Crowley’s body and was rewarded as nails dug into his shoulders. He was holding himself up on his elbows and watching Aziraphale intently, making desperate panting whines with each move Aziraphale made. Aziraphale looked up at Crowley’s taut face and made a shaky hum of arousal that Crowley answered with a whimper “Angel –Aziraphale, please!”

Aziraphale pulled back and feverishly pressed and slid his tongue along the head, hoping one of his hazy remembrances of Rome was accurate. It was. Crowley looked at Aziraphale in shock and made a sobbing noise that melted into a guttural sigh. Aziraphale could feel every one of Crowley’s muscles tense and surge, like a dam breaking beneath him. Aziraphale felt pulsing against his tongue and Crowley’s hand clumsily grabbed to cup Aziraphale’s cheek, looking in awe at the sight of Aziraphale with glazed eyes and a full mouth. Aziraphale swallowed and pulled off, desperately trying to get his trousers off finally.

Crowley was still breathing heavily but reached to undo the buttons of Aziraphale’s pants for him, shoving them down just enough to make pulling him out and stroking him possible. Aziraphale arched his back and thrust into Crowley’s hand with a groan. He could barely pull a thought together beyond the ache of pleasure and the feeling of Crowley against him and letting his hand drag up and down. Aziraphale lifted his head and kissed Crowley in a way that he hoped would convince Crowley to never stop doing that flick with his wrist. Crowley did stop though, and turned to press his back to Aziraphale’s stomach and just said “push.” Aziraphale slid himself between Crowley’s thighs and felt slick warmth holding him. He went utterly blank but felt Crowley tug his arms around him so Aziraphale was pulling Crowley against him with each thrust between his thighs, Aziraphale wasn’t sure when he’d started thrusting. He felt tightness pulling deeper and deeper inside of him before it broke loose and all he could do was press his mouth to Crowley’s neck and groan. Crowley shuddered against him as wetness coated his thighs. He held tight as his breathing evened and lazily kissed the back of Crowley’s neck. With a thought, they were both clean again and now neither of them was wearing anything. Crowley turned and entangled himself in Aziraphale’s limbs, nestling his head into the crook of Aziraphale’s neck. Aziraphale possessively spread his hands over as much of his demon as they could cover.

He could feel Crowley’s body growing heavy with sleep and softly pressed his lips to Crowley’s, before settling in to hold him as he slept.

“M’yours, jus’ so y’know. Noone else’s. Not’ven Henrik’s….Maybe a littl’bit Henrik’s, but mostly yours” Crowley mumbled into Aziraphale’s shoulder.

Aziraphale felt a bit foolish but grateful “Thank you, my dear. I’ll hold you to that.”

He snuffled drowsily against Aziraphale’s neck and sighed “Please do” before giving up on words altogether and drifting off.

Aziraphale pulled the covers up, cherishing the feeling of Crowley breathing against him, and listened to the sounds of snow hitting the window pane