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One Does Not Simply Walk into Tadfield

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Getting smashed with humans was fine, but Crowley wanted to become inebriated and not worry about saying something confidential that would require him to hypnotize mortals later to modify their memories. Other demons would be willing naturally, but allowing oneself to be in a vulnerable state around denizens of Hell was never a wise action. The only solution available to Crowley as far as he could see was to get drunk with Aziraphale, but the prim representative of Heaven on Earth did not touch spirits, or much food for that matter. It would take time and a great deal of Wiling to get him drunk, Crowley knew, but time was something immortal beings had in plenty.

First, he Tempted Aziraphale into having a single sip to simply taste fine wine "the better to understand the humans you protect," and "it cannot be bad if Jesus decided to turn water into it." The angel liked it, and it was mere months ere he ingested an entire goblet. He kept his consumption to a solitary glass for decades until Crowley reasoned, "It could hardly hurt to have a second when you handle one so well," and "you wouldn't want the rest to be wasted - or given to young mortals - would you?"

After approximately two centuries and multiple Crusades (Humans killing in the name of religion deeply disturbed Aziraphale.) passed, the supernatural folk got completely annihilated and came to the inebriated conclusion that their unending lives would be simpler if they designed an arrangement –not yet warranting a capital A - enabling them to exchange information and Curse/Bless humans in certain geographic locations without interference from each other to maintain a status quo. Upon sobering up, they agreed it was worth a try, and it wound up being comfortable for both of them for eons. Crowley deemed his plot to get drunk with his counterpart a huge success.

The demon was content to enjoy this success and not Tempt Fate – pardon the expression – by attempting further influence the angel…at least until he encountered another issue. Having sex with humans was enjoyable, but Crowley wanted to fornicate while letting go rather than striving to keep his powers reigned in. Spontaneously starting small fires nearby or a tongue growing forked were not things most people deemed standard foreplay, and pesky memory modification was again required afterwards.

The serpent didn't even consider other demons as partners; they all were sadistic freaks in the bedroom...Or should he say dungeon? Crowley shuddered to think of it. As the inventor of Temptation, Crowley, in his own oh-so-humble opinion, was the opposite of a boring lover. However, unlike his brethren, he thought blood-letting ought to be kept to a minimum, and bone-breaking and asphyxiation should be avoided entirely.

The only solution available to Crowley as far as he could see was to have sex with Aziraphale. Crowley suspected he would enjoy the experience because the angel tended to be considerate of others - a favourable quality in a lover - and the pleasures of intercourse increased when Crowley coupled with humans he liked versus ones he did not. The demon...liked Aziraphale. In fact, he would go so far as to say (never aloud, but in the privacy of his own mind) that Aziraphale was his friend.

Crowley would never do anything to get his friend in trouble with Above or Below. He honestly saw naught wrong with alcohol or sex in themselves; it was what humans did as a result of being affected by those stimulants that led them to commit sin. Drunken or jealous fits of violent rage, for instance. It was highly improbably, if not impossible, that Aziraphale would behave thusly, making the indulgences fine for the Principality to partake in as far as Crowley could conclude.

The Tempter could never have predicted the consequences his scheme would yield.

It began with a kiss; a swift, close-mouthed peck on the lips done as a seemingly absent-minded greeting when Aziraphale entered Crowley’s expensive horse-drawn carriage. Crowley spoke as if nothing unusual had transpired and feigned surprise at Aziraphale's stare.

"What? Do I have something on my face?" the demon questioned innocently.

"No, you don't. It's just...” Aziraphale cocked his head of unkempt curls to the side and touched his mouth thoughtfully. “You've never done that before."

Crowley studied his innovative pocketwatch, which displayed the hour of multiple locations – including Another Place, where the time was invariably too late - in an act of boredom. "Done what?"

"Kissed me, dear boy."

"Huh, haven't I? Well, I wonder why not. After all, it's not as if it's abnormal these days." Male comrades indeed gave friendly busses in the current human society.

"True, but tis a sign of affection."

"So what? You're enough of a bastard to be likable."

Aziraphale smiled and the heart in Crowley's Hell-issued body flipped over in its chest.

It wasn't much time later – perhaps a score or four - before the pair was bestowing long, lingering kisses complete with roaming hands and tongues in the privacy of Aziraphale’s still-fairly-new bookshop.

"Is this Lust?" questioned the Holy creature in concern as he struggled to regain his breath. He didn’t need to breathe, strictly speaking, but gasping when his manicured fingers were in his closest friend’s hair, and said cohort had his own hands on Aziraphale’s hip and up the back of the tartan jumper the part-time bookseller was wearing in order to touch bare skin, seemed, well, appropriate.

The Satanic creature gave a response identical to when his companion would inquire if it were Gluttony to eat and drink multiple servings of a meal he did not require for sustenance. "How does it feel? Does it hurt anyone? How can something be a Sin if it feels Good and no one gets hurt?"

Unlike at the restaurant, Aziraphale had a reply other than a reluctant, "I suppose you might be right." He said, "I'm afraid it will hurt."

"In the future? Aziraphale, I don't ever want to hurt you. If I do something you don't like, you can tell me to stop anytime," Crowley sincerely answered. “Although, our bodies can handle a lot, and we can choose to not feel pain from things that are strictly Earthly.” Inconveniently, Crowley tended to forget this upon being surprised. In another fifteen years, it would happen with a sudden paintball shooting; the demon would complain ‘it hurt’ before recalling he could instantaneously heal himself. “It’s not like we’d bring Blessed or Cursed items into bed with us.”

The mention of that specific piece of furniture caused the Guardian of the Eastern Gate to blush, but he valiantly ignored it. "I meant emotionally."

"Pardon?"

"I'm worried about emotional pain. What we're about to do is very intimate.” Aziraphale was thousands of years old, and not so naïve that he hadn’t deduced where their heated snogging would eventually lead them, even prior to Crowley breaching propriety by almost spelling it out. “The physical flesh joining isn't too important, but prolonged close contact will make our energies merge metaphysically. When our auras become threaded together it'll be...closer than I've ever been to someone, including when I lived Up There."

"Oh." The snake hadn't considered this. "That's true for me too if you think about it."

"Yes, but the risk isn't as great for you."

"What are you talking about?" 'And why aren't we naked?' he wisely refrained from adding, concluding that expressing impatience would not help him get what he wanted any quicker.

"I'm an angel. I love everyone. That means, I'm sure you'll be displeased to hear,” Aziraphale sniffed sanctimoniously, “that I love you too."

Crowley said nothing. His unblinking reptilian gaze was focused and intense.

"It doesn't bother me when mortals, or you, don't return my love because love is meant to be freely given without expectation. I have the love of God, and am at peace.” Aziraphale smiled, serene and beatific like the angel he was, though it almost immediately became an expression of human anxiety. “However, if we do this, Crowley, I fear I might fall."

"Fall?" Crowley croaked. "Aziraphale, I'd never want you to get stuck in Hell. I- "

"Not Fall from Grace, dear boy, fall in love. With you."

"Oh, I sssee..."

"I've loved many beings, and understood the lack of reciprocation without experiencing resentment or pained rejection, but I’ve never been in love. I don't know if it will hurt me when you don't return any romantic feelings of mine that may develop."

Not ‘if you don't return my feelings,’ but ‘when.’ After all, demons didn’t love.

“Right.” Crowley swallowed around the inexplicable lump that formed in his throat. “Yeah, better not risk it.” He released Aziraphale and stepped back to put space between them, but it was not enough. “Ciao!”

“Crowley?” Aziraphale attempted to stop his friend from fleeing through the front door. “What-?”

“I’ll phone you, okay?” He escaped ere the other could reply.

Crowley had only wanted to shag the Principality, hadn’t he? Why did Aziraphale’s assumptions about demons and adoration – assumptions that were true as far as Crowley knew from his limited time amongst his own People – bother him so much? Rather than search his Damned soul for the root of the problem like a healthy individual, the serpent drove fast, drank excessively, and slept for the next few years before contacting Aziraphale again. He made certain he had a purpose - namely the newborn antichrist – to discuss. The import of their newest mission (saving the world) sufficiently occupied their time and prevented any awkward conversations.

The demon never touched Aziraphale again. Well, no, that was exaggeration. They dwelled in the same house for years as Warlock’s nanny and gardener, and often had the same days off. The occasional brushing of hands when they reached for their customary bottle of wine at the same time, and leaning against one another after drinking the aforementioned liquid, was inevitable and not unwelcome. As was Crowley putting his arm across the back of park benches, effectively going around Aziraphale’s shoulders while they sat side by side, and the blonde affectionately touched the brunet’s arm or back when he thought the demon did something to demonstrate that “spark of goodness” he infuriatingly insisted Crowley possessed. However, Crowley never touched his counterpart with the intent to seduce him again, and the angel certainly didn’t initiate such things. Their delicious kissing stopped entirely, but so had the discomfiting topic of love, ergo Crowley considered it a fair trade off.

Until they noticed that Warlock wasn’t the antichrist, and went searching for the real one. They were driving through an area where Aziraphale described feeling “a fierce love, not that you’d understand,” and Crowley had felt a stab of unpleasantness go through him again. He opened his mouth to say something – he wasn’t sure what – and crashed his car into a girl who turned out to be Anathema Device, effectively Discorperating the conversation.

Anathema Device herself had a dream a week or so after the Armageddon-Thwarted-by-Eleven-Year-Olds transpired. It was so vivid and insistent that upon waking she recognised it as a Vision rather than an ordinary dream. In it, she saw the two odd men that had helped her and mysteriously improved her bicycle. They were in a place that felt like it didn’t yet exist, but was intended to in the future. It seemed to be a bizarre combination of library and greenhouse, as there were neatly arranged bookcases and carefully potted plants everywhere. The duo sat on an old tartan settee watching a film on a new flat-screen television. More accurately, the one in the sunglasses (He had driven the Bentley, Anathema recalled.) was watching the film with his feet propped up on the vintage coffee-table in front of them, which was strewn with various bottles and wineglasses. The professor-looking one was lying across the plaid cushions with his head resting on the brunet’s lap as he read a hefty book – The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, Anathema noted curiously – rather than paying attention to the screen. Finally examining the screen more closely, the witch saw that the movie Beetlejuice was playing. It felt as if neon lights switched on inside Anathema’s head announcing, “This is it!”

Instantly, the occultist sat bolt upright in bed, awake and excited. The sudden movement caused Newt to stir beside her. “Wha-?”

“Adam!” Anathema exclaimed as an explanation, and got out from underneath the blankets to hastily dress in the first rays of sunrise streaming through the window.

“Wait, what?” Newt repeated a bit more coherently this time. He was still a novice at the being-in-an-intimate-relationship thing, but he was fairly certainly that one’s girlfriend saying another male’s name in bed was considered a bad sign. Or did that only apply when they were engaged activities of ‘a moste amorous nature’?

“Adam Young.” Anathema was fully dressed now. “I’ve just had a Vision and I’ve got to tell him right away. I know it’s important, and he’s the only one who can do anything about it.”

Newt hesitated, and asked warily, “Do you have Visions often? Am I allowed to know what the Vision is?”

“No, I don’t; I’m not as Gifted as Agnes was. I don’t see why you can’t know.” Rapidly and without much finesse, the witch put up her black hair. “Remember that day that none of us can clearly remember?” That was a paradox of a question if Newt had ever heard one!

“More or less,” Newt cautiously responded. “Probably less, except for the part where we, you know…” He blushed.

“I know.” Anathema didn’t flush, though she did smile slightly as she slipped on her shoes. “Anyway, my Vision was about one of the people that were there. Actually, I’m not sure he was exactly a person per se…I’m sure Adam will know how to get in touch with him in any case, and can deliver my message to him.”

“What message is that?”

“That he needs to watch Beetlejuice.” She headed out of the bedroom and called over her shoulder, “I’ll be back to make breakfast. You just go back to sleep until then.”

‘She needs to tell a child that she had a mystical Vision about someone inhuman watching a film from the eighties?’ A bewildering headache threatened until the witch-finder thought, ‘Just accept it, Newt. Accept it and go back to sleep, like she said.’ Surprisingly, this was easy advice to follow. His former mentor Shadwell would be horribly disappointed in Newt’s obedience to a sorceress, but the youth didn’t find himself bothered in the least.

Anathema found Adam outside walking his pet down her street, as she had anticipated. “Good morning,” she greeted him.

“S’too early to be good yet, but Dog here insisted that he had to go.” He glowered without any true wrath at the Hellhound before he turned back to Anathema with a lighter expression. “How’re things with you? Got any new magazines about dead whales?”

“Not yet. I do have some news, though.”

“Thought you might.” Adam nodded confidently. “Let’s have it.”

She told him and he looked pensive. “He might not get whatever message he’s supposed to get from the show if he sees it alone. We’d better watch it with him. However…I can’t really invite a creepy grown man to my place to watch a film without worrying my parents, can I? Parents are funny like that. Maybe we could do a movie night at Jasmine Cottage?”

Anathema was regretful. “I’m sorry, but that won’t work.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t have a television.”

“Is that all?” Adam laughed. “Mr. Tyler is hostin’ a raffle at the clubhouse for one today. And an air conditioner too, but you don’ need to worry about that. Enter for the telly and you might win.”

The witch examined him shrewdly. “I ‘might?’ Doesn’t that count as ‘messing about?’”

Adam shrugged. “Not really. This messin’ isn’t for people since Mr. Crowley isn’t technically human even if he acts like it.”

“Oh, is that his name? I never knew.”

“No, it isn’t, but it’s what he likes to be called. Pepper likes to be called Pepper, so none of us call her by her real name. No sense in callin’ people something they hate, ‘specially if they didn’t choose it.”

Anathema smiled. “Very kind and sensible, Adam.”

“Wish my teachers knew how kind and sensible I am. Maybe then they’d realise I don’t need homework.”

“It’s still summer,” Anathema reminded him.

“Not for much longer.” Adam sighed sadly, but perked up again. “At least I have this film with interesting folks to look forward to!”

“About that…How will Mr. Crowley know when and where to come?”

“I’ll take care of everythin’. Don’t you worry.” Dog trotted up to his master with his tail wagging. “He’s ready to go home now. See you later, Anathema!”

Adam and his petite Hellhound with one inside-out ear returned to the Youngs’ home. The boy picked up the house telephone and pressed digits on it at random, confident that the number he dialed would connect him with the being he wished to reach. It rang a few times ere someone answered.

“What’s up?” The sleepy voice on the other end sought to sound nonchalant when it was apparently apprehensive upon encountering an unfamiliar number on the Caller ID.

“Clearly, we are, Mr. Crowley, even though s’much too early to be up.”

“That’s right! As right as…whatever is right,” finished the voice somewhat lamely. “Er, since you have the pleasure of knowing who I am, may I have the privilege of knowing to whom I speak?”

Adam felt a mixture of amusement and annoyance. “You sound as bad as Brian when he tries to talk his way out of trouble. Better than Pep, though, ‘cause SHE just starts yellin’. S’always better to leave talkin’ to the grown-ups to Wensley. People think he’s the most respectable of us – or rather Them - for some reason. Anyway, you don’t havta be so jumpy; I’m not from Hell or anythin’. Well, I guess that isn’t strictly true, but you still don’t need to get bent outta shape. See, this is Adam.”

“Adam?” Repetition gave way to dawning horror. “Adam Young? Th-the Antichrist, the Adversary, D-Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Beast that is Called Dragon, Prince of-”

“No, no. I mean, yes, but no,” retorted Adam impatiently, preferring to think of himself as any other boy of Earth, except perhaps a bit more clever. “Look, I know you and the other one have been stayin’ out of other people’s business, like I asked, and I just wanted to invite you ‘round for a flick as a, you know, thank you.”

“Oh, you really don’t have to-”

“I really do.” His tone, though youthful, permitted no contest. “Jasmine cottage, Thursday night at 7:30. We need some snacks to go with it, okay? Proper snacks, I mean. Anathema makes great lemonade, but her food is too healthy.”

“Uh…”

“Bring some cheddar popcorn, will you? It’s the best. Everyone knows that.”

“Sssure…Rain!”

“…What?”

“That’s what things are as right as: Rain!”

“Uh-huh. Well, thanks, Mr. Crowley, lookin’ forward to Thursday!”

As the line disconnected, Crowley slowly put down his phone, sweating profusely. He didn’t need to sweat, but the physical manifestation of his nerves was somewhat helpful as an emotional outlet. He thought, ‘One does not simply walk into Lower Tadfield, where the great antichrist is ever watchful,’ but he knew better than to risk reprisal by refusing. First, it was necessary to find out if his counterpart was also invited.

Because Aziraphale never slept, he picked up the phone on the first ring. “Good morning. Fell’s Bookshop. Just to let you know, we have almost nothing in stock at the moment.”

“Relax, angel, it’s not a customer. It’s me. Listen, did the antichrist invite you to a movie night?”

“Why, no, he hasn’t. Do you suspect he will? Oh my stars, dear boy, you know how I am with pop culture.” Crowley could almost hear Aziraphale’s manicured hands wringing fretfully at the other end. “You’re always giving me a hard time about it, which is uncalled for, but still you might have a point, and I wouldn’t have the slightest idea – Wait, did he invite you?”

“Yesss.” He wasn’t certain if he felt relieved or terrified in knowing that Aziraphale would not be in the dangerous situation with him.

“Goodness!” the angel exclaimed.

“I fear not.”

“Well, do you suppose something bad will happen? Did he say why he was inviting you?”

“He said it was to thank me for not doing my job, but if that were the case, then why wouldn’t he invite you too?”

“I don’t know…I’m sure it’ll be fine. Perhaps he’ll invite me to a book signing instead.” Aziraphale was unsuccessfully attempting to conceal his anxiety. “Is there anything I can do to help?” The genuine yearning to help an old friend in distress warmed some of the chilly fear in Crowley’s unnecessary blood.

“Do you know a good place to get cheddar popcorn?”

Days later, Crowley was eating the designated snack – deemed ‘not bad’ by Adam, to the serpent’s immeasurable relief - with Anathema, Newt, and the youth-with-supreme-cosmic-control as they sat on mismatched furniture in Anathema’s sitting room to watch Beetlejuice. They got to the scene where Jim, the husband in the dead couple, read aloud to his wife from ‘The Handbook for the Recently Deceased.’
“The living won’t see the dead.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“It just says ‘won’t’…Humans ignore the strange and unusual.”
Shortly afterwards, it was confirmed that the gothic teenaged character Lydia could see the dead, announcing, “I myself am strange and unusual.”

“Seems to me,” said Adam, “that you’re like that.” He gave Crowley a pointed look.

“Like what?” asked Crowley cautiously, not wanting to upset someone who could destroy him with a thought.

“You’re unusual. You’re not like other demons. And that other one; he’s not much like other angels either.” Adam’s face lit up like the sun. “That’s it, isn’t it? That’s what Anathema’s Vision meant. You needed to see this so you would know.”

“Um…” Crowley wondered if he should admit that he was completely lost. He opted not to considering that Anathema was examining him shrewdly while Newt gaped, baffled.

The eleven year-old noticed Crowley’s puzzlement and rolled his eyes. “It’s obvious, isn’t it? Demons don’t love. It isn’t that they can’t love. They simply don’t because it isn’t in their nature, but your nature has been changed over time because you’ve been ‘round people for so long. I reckon YOUR nature was never all that demonic to begin with.”

Could the kid be right? Crowley knew he was different from the rest of the demons that ignored progress, but was it possible for him to love of all things? Did he want it to be possible? Definitely not. Love was more trouble than it was worth. Humans who were in love did foolhardy things, like…like…try to avert the Apocalypse and face the King of Hell armed with nothing other than a tyre iron. Yeah, like that.

Seeming to sense Crowley’s conclusion, Adam smiled. “You’ve just got to tell the other one.”

Crowley liked the idea of the all-powerful antichrist knowing about Aziraphale’s existence even less than he enjoyed sitting beside the boy himself. If that wasn’t selfless love, then the demon didn’t know what was! “He may not believe me if I tell him.” Not if Aziraphale’s remarks about demons being incapable of comprehending love were any indications.

“He will.” Adam was positive. “He always wants to believe the best of you. Just give him a reason to.” He stood up and stretched. “That’s my job done, then. You can finish watching this if you want, but you prolly don’t strictly need to see the rest. I promised to meet my friends at our fort.” He handed his empty glass to Anathema. “Thanks for the lemonade. I’ll come by soon so you can show me how to compost. Maybe we can get the whole town to do it.”

Anathema beamed. “That will be wonderful, Adam.” She turned to Crowley. “Would you like to stay and see the rest? We’d be happy to have you.”

Crowley glanced between her and Newt. He could sense both that the young woman’s offer was sincere and that his mere presence made Newt uncomfortable for reasons the witch-finder couldn’t fully understand, which caused Crowley to desire to remain strictly for his own amusement at discomfiting a human. “I’d better take care of something, but perhaps another time.”

“Anytime. Just let me know.” Anathema politely stood to lead him to the door.

“Thanks.” Crowley kissed her hand suavely, winking provocatively at Newt as he did. He couldn’t depart without having some fun. “Ciao!”

As the yellow-eyed man vanished into the night with a screech of expensive Bentley tyres, Newt asked, “That Crowley chap, he wasn’t really a demon, was he? Adam was speaking metaphorically somehow, right? He had to be. And he wasn’t, like, coming onto you or anything, was he? Because if he was, then I’d have to do something.”

“Newt, he couldn’t be interested in me. Did you miss the part where he was in love with an angel?”

Newt’s eyes widened behind his spectacles. “Wouldn’t an angel and a demon be, I dunno, counterproductive or, say, forbidden?”

“As counterproductive and forbidden as a witch-finder and a witch,” she rejoined archly.

He scuffed his feet in embarrassment. “Oh, erm, yes. That’s an, um, convincing argument you’ve got there. Not that there are angels and demons among us or anything.”

“Of course not.” Anathema took pity on Newt and changed the subject. “If he were flirting with me, what would you have done?”

“Hmm? Oh. Well…fight him, I suppose?”

Anathema shook her head and put her arms around Newt. “Try again.”

Newt desperately wanted to please her, but felt utterly out of his depth. “Ask you to choose him or me?”

She stepped closer until their forms were flush. “Getting warmer.”

He certainly felt an increase in temperature. “Prove to you that I care about you more than he does, so you would, uh, want to choose me?”

“Excellent,” she whispered against his lips. “Why don’t you start proving your feelings now?”

Newt had difficulty following electronic instruction manuals, but he followed her directions well enough.

Crowley, on the other hand, was struggling to follow Adam’s suggestion. He’d barged into Aziraphale’s bookshop uninvited – not that he ever allowed a lack of invitation to affect him in the past – and immediately clammed up. He gestured expansively, but uselessly, with his arms while his mouth remained stubbornly shut.

“Crowley, you must be here for a reason. You met with the antichrist today, didn’t you? Did something happen? Just tell me what it is. I won’t be upset. Well, not more upset than I will be if it turns out you truly did interrupt my reading for no reason.”

Crowley ran a frustrated hand through his hair, willing it to remain stylish in spite of the rough treatment. “Aziraphale, I’ve got to say something because if I don’t, then he might get angry, but just know that I’d rather be stuck listening to Elgar for a decade straight than bring this up.”

“Good lord, this isn’t going to be about the time I Thwarted your attempts to start cage matches between serfs during the feudal era, is it?”

“No, but I still think it would’ve been a laugh.”

“And I still think it would’ve been horrible.”

“That’s the point. Demon, remember? I’m all for horrible. Unless we’re talking about your fashion sense.”

Aziraphale sniffed indignantly. “Tartan is delightful.”

“According to whom?” snorted Crowley in disbelief. “Golfers?”

“A nonviolent sport is-”

The cold-blooded creature tuned out the rest of Aziraphale’s explanation. Bickering with his opposite was entertaining, but not the point of his visit, and he knew he ought to avoid procrastinating any longer, lest a certain child find out about his cowardice and punish him. Who knew what creative tortures a modern preteen could conceive? It was fortunate Crowley had no knowledge of how Pepper’s sister had been dunked into a pond of green algae as a form of abuse.

“None of that even matters, Aziraphale! The point is, you say that blessed crap about…”

“About?” the bibliophile prompted.

“About how demons can’t love.”

There was a silence during which Aziraphale blinked ethereal blue eyes in surprise before he began to needlessly rearrange a few scrolls on a nearby shelf so he could avoid eye contact and maintain a stuffy tone. “Well, it’s a common assumption, and I was hoping you would disagree with me, you old serpent.”

“I – you - what?!”

“You never hesitated to disagree with me about any conviction held by me or others before. In fact, instilling Doubt where there is Faith is practically in your job description,” the angel addressed his oldest companion primly, eventually turning to face him. “I figured if it weren’t true, then you would – quite boastfully - let me know I was mistaken.”

“You were just…waiting for me to tell you?” Crowley was mystified.

“Of course. When I informed you that I–” Aziraphale’s cheeks reddened, but he finished speaking without pause. “-feared falling in love with you and you being incapable of reciprocity, you never told me my concern was unfounded. That validated my unease, which was disappointing, but I appreciated you not trying to seduce me.”

“If I had told you demons could love, you would’ve dismissed ingrained angelic prejudices and believed me just like that?” Crowley sneered and snapped his fingernails for emphasis. In his sceptical agitation, he added, “If you believe that of your self-righteous self, and if you believe that I haven’t spent millennia seducing you in various ways, then you’re more clueless than I thought.”

Aziraphale stiffened, and Crowley prepared himself for a display of honorable fury. He wasn’t disappointed. The angel’s Grace crackled - blindingly bright and hazardous, like a lightning storm – around the deceptively soft body as he stepped closer. Crowley let his fangs and claws elongate, wondering if there was any purpose to it. Not only did Crowley avoid violent battles with anyone when possible, he had not engaged Aziraphale in particular in a physical confrontation since before they spent months trapped together in animal forms (a dove and a serpent – one guess who was which) on Noah’s ark learning that there was more to the other than they originally assumed. This made the demon extremely out of practice. More importantly, Crowley highly doubted he would be able to bring himself to hurt the one being in Creation he loved.

Like a switch, Aziraphale’s aura returned to its typical nonthreatening pastel pink and blue, glittering like a magical cotton candy cloud around him. “Oh, ineffability be praised, dear boy, I can sense it; you really do!”

Crowley was about to ask what Aziraphale was talking about when the smiling bibliophile removed the brunet’s sunglasses and - for the first time in history – instigated a hard kiss, and the demon decided there were better things to do with his lips than question.

As Anathema slept, she saw two man-shaped-beings writhing on a bed. She saw no details of the bodies; they looked like mere silhouettes. However, she knew they weren’t humans because their energy fields were apparent. Humans tended to have auras that were dominantly one hue, and these creatures had dual-coloured energies. One sparkled pale rose and cerulean, a bright sunrise reflected on clear water, where as the other shined deep red and black, a lethal sunset mirrored on fresh oil. As the couple traced patterns onto each other’s skin and murmured into one another’s mouths in languages that hadn’t been used in eras, the tints began to merge. Crimson crept into azure until it darkened to violet, while pink threaded through ebony until it lightened to plum. As their dance thrust toward its climax, the varying shades of purple fused completely. Instead of being two separate entities with dual-tinged auras, they became a sole individual whose essence – like any balanced human’s – was a solitary tone: A rich amethyst with a Pure shimmer and Tempting gleam. It was one of the most stunning presences the descendant had ever seen.

The shapes disentangled themselves only enough for the thinner one to wrap himself around his partner in contented sleep, and for the other to have a single free hand to serenely retrieve a book from the bedside table. A luminance gathered behind the head of the conscious person and he commenced perusing the text. A halo, the witch deduced, not nearly as stupefied as most mortals would be at the revelation, though she admitted mild astonishment at it being used for a personal reading lamp. Its sacred glow illuminated the title as well as lent further radiance to the loving aura surrounding them. Anathema did not know either entity well. However, she somehow sensed that their combined energies making the hue of wine was suitable, and that the book in the angel’s hands, The Golden Compass, meant that their relationship would swiftly progress in the Greenhouse-Library direction quite nicely – in every connotation of the word.