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When Crowley initially designed his default corporeal form, he received no shortage of consternation from his colleagues. Apart from the eyes, he was virtually unchanged from the shape the Almighty gave him upstairs. No pus, no vermin, no open wounds reeking of seaweed and the downstream waste of a goat cheese factory.

He looked, for all intents and purposes, human.

And well, that was the point, he argued. He needed to blend in. How else was he supposed to lure god-fearing men and women across the aisle and down into the catacombs? With a well-timed snap or click of his tongue he could ensnare anyone he wanted with his temptatious wiles. Legions of souls forsaking all virtue like fellow snakes shedding their skin.

Or at least, that’s the excuse he gave. And for the most part, everyone rolled their eyes and went on with their business.

And over the last six thousand years he’s carried through on his promise to instill temptation like a deer shitting seeds, or something or other. The Trojan War was near the top of his CV. Sure, humans hardly need coaxing when it comes to melodramatic warfare, but launching a thousand ships over a pretty face? A feat such as that required no shortage of strategic encouragement.

There were others, of course. Cleopatra for one. Queen of Egypt, most intelligent woman in the ranks of the Mediterranean, fated to lose her kingdom and her life over extramarital affairs with two incompetent men. The first more than twice her age with literary prose duller than the likes of Hemingway, and the second an obnoxious lightweight who stumbled them into a war that left them both dead at the fangs of a snake. (Crowley took full credit for the serpent’s role, and no one seemed to question it.)

There were others throughout history. King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot could have been a highly functional threesome had Crowley stayed out of their way. But while he was very practiced at sowing and cultivating temptation, he was never the one to reap it. He always pawned that task off to other miserable sods, leaving his own hands uncharacteristically clean.

It’s not that he had any opposition to the act and all the bells and whistles people liked to strap on to it. If anything, he felt as though it was his indivine obligation to defile this 3D-printed bundle of cells called a body. It was a temple after all. And what fun were temples if you couldn’t fuck on the floors?

And he wanted to. He wanted to desecrate himself in ways that would make heaven switch off the security cameras in horror and guilty arousal.

And he always meant to. It was right there in his daily planner from literal Day One. But it didn’t matter what form he took, what gender he assumed or pursued, he always ended up making it right up to the main event before flaking out. Either fabricating an excuse or straight up miracling himself out of a compromising position.

It’s not that he needed sex. Or touch. Or release. He didn’t need anything really. In the same way that he doesn’t feel the pangs of hunger or the dry grate of thirst. But that doesn’t mean that a tall glass of pinot grigio isn’t particularly refreshing on a hot summer day.

And he wanted sex, in the abstract at least. It seemed fun according to most accounts. More than fun. He himself has tempted scores of people to oblivion all for the promise of several minutes of penetration. So it had to be good. Or maybe he was just a very good salesman and has been unintentionally feeding the human race great heaps of bullshit for the past six thousand years. He wouldn’t discount the possibility. And that would make all those untimely downfalls significantly funnier.

Still, he’s reasonably content without sex. He’s never come across a human particularly worth fucking, and it’s not like the other demons in hell are exactly stealing his game.

But still, he only wished that God in all her infinite compassion and glory would finally, just once, let him jerk himself off.

It’s supposed to be God’s gift after all. A six-second medley of hormones and muscle contractions. The thing that everyone seems to love but no one wants to describe. At least not without resorting to trite metaphors involving honey and guns and legos and whatever people are putting in their fanfiction these days.

Keeping him out of the loop just isn’t fair. It’s like one big inside joke that everyone seems to be whispering about behind his back. Earth was supposed to be a party, and here he was standing in the corner sipping cranberry juice while humans collectively fucked themselves down to nubs. It’s not fair that he’s missing out on one of the only bodily functions that doesn’t have any unseemly side effects.

Except for pregnancy. And gonorrhea. And a whole host of other nasty ailments, but provided that you limit it to a single-participant activity, then all should be well and good.

And theoretically, he should be able to train his body to reach climax. After all, it was technically impossible for him to feel tired, and yet he still manages to sleep for at least several hours a week. Of course it took a fair amount of time to train his body to shut itself down. Three hundred and thirteen years to be exact.

So he kept trying. At least once per decade. He tried it with male genitalia, female, and everything in between. But no dice.

Sometimes it’d go on for hours. Sometimes days. It’d stretch on indefinitely like the spinning rainbow wheel of a frozen desktop. And when he eventually resigned himself to failure, he’d take out his frustration on the nearest civilization. Maybe he’d poison the water supply to make all the men impotent. Or make erectile dysfunction a side effect for a popular pharmaceutical. To be honest, he does feel bad about what he did to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. All those bastards with clinical depression have it hard enough; he really didn’t have to take away their ability to get hard. He should probably miracle up a scientific breakthrough and cut those poor sods some slack.

And he did his best to keep up with the times. Humans were so very clever. Always inventing new ways to depict and distribute the fantasies they’re too squeamish to confess in words. The Japanese were always very creative. All those anatomically imaginative woodcuts. The Indians also seemed to have a knack for it. But the Europeans, in generous terms, were fucking prudes. When Crowley first caught wind of the public burnings of the Romance of the Rose back in the fourteenth century, he immediately read it cover to cover, only to toss it right back on the bonfire for how embarrassingly tame it was. It wouldn’t make a cherub blush. Fuck, he really hated the fourteenth century.

Then the twentieth came around. All those lovely new inventions. Film and offset printing, cassette tapes and DVDs. And the internet. A bottomless well of exhibitionists and voyeurs graciously sharing their wares with the world.

And Crowley consumed it. He consumed all of it. And yet after six thousand years, he was no closer to his goal than when he started.

And it made him angry. Violently angry.

Maybe there was a stipulation in his contract. Maybe being deprived of his right to come was a necessary component of being a demon. It was permanent, chronic proof of his disobedience. But fuck, God already gave him his snake eyes and revoked his retirement benefits. Messing with his dick was just foul play. It probably violated the Geneva Convention.

Around the turn of the twenty-first century, he began to think that maybe it’d be best to just accept his lot and call it quits. It’s obviously never going to happen. So why keep torturing himself?

Or at least, that’s how he felt before Aziraphale. Before a certain day in the year of our Lord, 2019. Before he felt a shift in the solar system, and knew that they were now spinning together as one gravitational unit. They shared the same space. The same time. And on one occasion, the same bodies.

Their days apart were infrequent. Their hours as well. And when they were forced to temporarily part for this errand or that, Crowley would spend that time in a state of pathetic pining. He felt drained in Aziraphale’s absence. He felt wretched and forsaken, resigned to hand himself over to madam misery on a silver platter as there was no point even attempting to feign happiness whilst they were so cruelly parted.

Aziraphale always says that he can sense love, right? Well, he must be drowning in it. It must feel like walking through humidity so thick it’s like wading through a puddle. He’s surprised that the windows of the bookshop aren’t open at all times to air out the suffocating stench of love that Crowley can feel pulsing off of him like a broken humidifier.

Sometimes Aziraphale would ramble on about an ill-informed book review or the recent art forgery at Sotheby’s, and Crowley would sit there with his head in his hands, starry-eyed and lost in an internal monologue comprised solely of the words "I love you, I love you, I love you" like a broken answering machine. Just dumb and empty and smitten and fuck, he was a disaster.

And he wanted Aziraphale. Maybe not with the same physical desire that humans imprint upon each other, but he would without hesitation launch a century-long war, forsake an empire, and unleash hellfire upon the cosmos if anyone dared try to take his angel away.

And he wants intimacy. He wants passion. He wants that neat little triangle of consummate love. He wants to share his body and bask in their mutual hedonism.

And fuck, he really, really wants to come.

At some point, Crowley stopped returning to his flat in the evenings. On the nights when their conversations meander on far past midnight and still leave scores to say by sunrise. Crowley would usually stop by his place only long enough to water the plants, and then he’d return to the bookshop, armed with muffins and lattes with the little foam hearts on top. And during the brief hours that Aziraphale permitted customers to enter his sanctuary, Crowley would spend that time upstairs, sleeping in the bed Aziraphale never used. The one that simply came with the pre-furnished flat.

He’d sleep for however long Aziraphale deigned to humor the book scouts of London. Then he’d come upstairs and wake Crowley with the graze of a knuckle across his cheek, or the soft press of lips against his forehead, and Crowley would feel something stir in his subconscious. The feeling that Mary must have felt when the Almighty knocked her up.

And sometimes, Aziraphale will lie in bed beside him. Not sleeping, as he doesn’t much care for it. Instead he’ll usually read, which is what he would be doing anyway. And Crowley can lie there and bask in his presence like a cat in the sun. Or a plant photosynthesizing.

And in those tranquil hours, Crowley always tries to work up the courage to initiate… something. Maybe he could communicate his intentions through something as simple as pressing his lips against his fingers, or squeezing his hand just a bit too long. Or maybe he should just cut the foreplay and blurt out “Oi, angel, can we fuck already?”

Naturally, his courage abandons him every time.

Not tonight though. No, tonight he’ll at the very least ask. Or hint. Maybe subtly imply. Maybe he can write a message in code, or phrase it as a joke. Something that will give him plausible deniability.

Because down to his very rotten core, he’s terrified. Terrified to the point of paralysis.

After all, if the legions of hell aren’t fucking their way through humanity’s family tree, then the angels certainly aren’t either. And Crowley can’t be the only one of heavenly stock with inactive anatomy. Obviously he’s never asked any other demons about it, and certainly no other angels, but part of him desperately hopes that they’re all on the same playing field. All collectively side-eyeing the human race with poorly masked jealously.

“Hey, angel.”

“Hm?” Aziraphale glances over from his book: Thieves of Book Row: New York’s Most Notorious Rare Book Ring. The angel sure loves reading about the various scandals in his chosen trade.

“Have you ever…? Ever, y’know?” Fuck, why didn’t he rehearse this? Because he convinced himself it would come naturally, that’s why. Fuck, he’s an idiot.

“Never mind, ignore me,” he says briskly before rolling onto his side to face the wall, dramatically pulling the duvet over his shoulder even though he doesn’t need the warmth.

Aziraphale gives no response. Not even a stammer or a hum. But then Crowley hears the sound of him closing the book and placing it on the nightstand. And before Crowley can catch his breath, Aziraphale turns to wrap an arm around his waist, gingerly, almost hesitant.

Then he presses his lips against the back of Crowley’s neck. An isolated circle of warmth and a twinge of wetness. Crowley swears he can feel something pop inside his brain. Like the sound a car makes seconds before stalling out.

God, he’s so much better than this. He’s overseen orgies. Hell, he’s catered orgies. He’s the one who popularized the St. Andrews Cross for activities other than martyring saints. A simple kiss to the neck shouldn’t be sending him into hysterics.

“This, you mean?” Aziraphale asks against his skin.

“No, have you ever tried the raspberry cannolis on Titchfield Street – yeah, this!” he snaps, his instincts telling him to revert back into his serpent form and slither down through the floorboards.

Aziraphale strokes a hand down his bare arm. God, Satan, it’s all happening too fast.

“I have. And you?”

Something inside of Crowley’s chest starts burning. And not the good kind of burning. The kind you feel after eating too many burritos in one sitting.

So he is the odd one out then. He’s the butt of some cosmic joke in the Great Plan. Honestly, he shouldn’t have anticipated anything less.

“Would I be asking if I had?” he snaps, defensive and flustered.

Aziraphale tenses in response, the caress of his hand going still.

Crowley opens his mouth to say something along the lines of "No, I’m sorry, please keep touching me. I’m sorry." But he hesitates just a bit too long and Aziraphale manages to speak first.

“Any particular reason for the abstinence?”

Crowley cringes involuntarily at that word. Abstinence. The dirtiest word in hell. People weren’t supposed to be Abstinent. Demons certainly weren’t supposed to be Abstinent. His precious virginity was just one big gold star for heaven.

“Eh, you know,” Crowley shrugs, “humans with their syphilis and shoddy plumbing, and… hormones and marriage licenses,” his voice trails off weakly. He has no excuse. Aziraphale must know that he fundamentally has no excuse.

“Well, if you’re interested, I have no objections. But only if it’s what you want, and not what you feel you ought to want.”

Crowley lets out a groan old as time itself. “Please don’t go all Judy Blume on me. I don’t need the sex talk. Hell, I invented the sex talk. Traumatized generations of kids and parents alike.”

That’s not exactly true. He wishes it was though. It would have earned him a very favorable commendation.

“How do you know who Judy Blume is?” Aziraphale asks incredulously. “You don’t read.”

Crowley gapes like a fish, thankful that the angel can’t see the contortions of his mouth as he searches for an excuse.

He certainly wasn’t going to admit that Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret was one of the only books of the last century that he bothered reading. Along with Masters and Johnson’s Human Sexual Inadequacy and Ryan and Jethá's Sex at Dawn.

“Let’s not get sidetracked. So, how many humans have you fucked?”

Even though Crowley can’t see the angel’s face, a vindictive part of him hopes that it’s bright red.

“Not many. I certainly find it enjoyable, but it can be difficult finding worthy partners. And of course I don’t actively seek them out.”

The conversation tapers off after that. Crowley continues festering in his little ball of embarrassment and disheartenment, trying to fast track the five stages of grief.

There’s no way around it. He just to accept that what he wants isn’t in the cards. He'll probably never be capable of reaching climax. He’ll never get to experience that mutual high with the love of his existence.

No, he's being stupid. He shouldn’t be sulking. They have something deeper. Something better than dopamine and muscle spasms. They have a bond that puts the sappiest poets to shame. They have eternity. They have the ability to spiritually inhabit each other’s bodies. Orgasms belong in the realm of bread and circuses, superficial appeasements designed to keep lesser creatures reproducing.

“Would you like me to touch you?” Aziraphale asks cautiously, and Crowley immediately tosses out all that bullshit about spiritual bonds.

“Only if you want to,” he replies genuinely, concerned that Aziraphale might only be offering out of obligation.

“Of course I want to,” he says in return before laying a soft kiss against his neck.

Fuck, what happened to “you go too fast for me?” This is the very definition of fast. Any faster and it might just propel Crowley beyond Earth’s orbit.

Before he can process what’s happening, Aziraphale is reaching forward to place a hand against his sternum. Then he slowly glides lower, seamlessly finding the waistband of Crowley’s pajamas and reaching inside without a hint of shame.

No one has touched him like this before. Not in heaven, hell, or anywhere in between. Of course it’s stupid to be so sentimental. He doesn’t need this body. It’s an accessory. Like a hairpin or a shoe buckle. The feel of Aziraphale’s hand shouldn’t be causing every drop of blood to leave his extremities and shoot straight between his legs, with only a little left over to color his cheeks and neck.

“Does this feel okay?” Aziraphale asks, impossibly tender.

“Yeah, it’s nice. Really nice,” Crowley responds truthfully. The angel actually miracled up something wet and viscous to ease his strokes. It’s smooth and gentle, clearly practiced. Crowley takes in a deep breath and lets himself go slack, willing his traitorous muscles to unwind, determined to enjoy every second of this.

And for a while, it’s enough.

It’ll happen, Crowley tells himself. This time, it’ll finally happen.

There’s a clock on the nightstand, but he’s afraid to glance up at it. The hands were at about half-past five when Aziraphale reached beneath his clothes, and he’s not sure how long it’s been since.

Still, the angel’s pace never falters. There’s no sense of reluctant boredom or impatience. It just goes on and on, neither of them talking, or doing much of anything really.

And it does feel good, even though he’s not much farther along than when he does this for himself.

And so what if it never happens? This in and of itself feels nice. There are humans who go their entire lives without ever achieving orgasm, and they seem to get along just fine.

This is still intimate. This is passionate, and consummate, and all those sappy words that end in -ate.

This is enough, he tells himself. This is enough.

Against his better judgment, he opens his eyes to glance at the clock, and his blood turns to ice when he sees that over an hour has gone by, and no, this isn’t enough. This will never be enough.

“Crowley,” Aziraphale says softly, pausing his strokes. “I know you’re going to resent me for asking this, but are you alright?”

Crowley feels something inside of him crack like a bowl hitting the sink. Before he can teleport himself to the next galaxy over, a traitorous sound emerges from the back of his throat. Something along the lines of the whine of a child crossed with the whimper of a small dog. And before he knows it, there’s moisture building around his eyes.

“What’s wrong, love?”

Aziraphale withdraws his hand from beneath his clothes and magics away the lubricant before placing his hand on Crowley’s cheek and gingerly coaxing him to lie on his back.

Crowley keeps his eyes shut tight as he tries to trap the small, desperate sniffles escaping his nose.

This can’t be happening. He’s better than this. He can’t hit a breaking point over something this stupid.

Aziraphale simply wipes away his tears with the pad of his thumb.

“I’m so sorry, love.”

Crowley’s eyes snap open and he begins shaking his head before any words can catch up.

“No, you didn’t do anything wrong. Nothing at all. You’re an angel, remember? You can’t do anything wrong, not ever.”

Thankfully, Aziraphale’s look of apologetic worry seems to fade. God, Crowley would never forgive himself if he let the angel think for one second that he did him any harm.

“It’s just…” Crowley sniffs pathetically, “I’ve never… never been able to…”

Don’t make me say it. Please, don’t make me say it.

Realization seems to spark across Aziraphale’s face.

“Ah, I see.”

“Don’t sound so fucking nonchalant. I’ve had this body for six thousand years; I should know how all the mechanics work.”

Aziraphale cards his fingers through his red hair, tracing his nails across his scalp. God Almighty, why can’t he just content himself with what he already has and spare himself this humiliation?

“Well, where do you get stuck?” Aziraphale asks, as if he were tutoring a child on his maths homework.

“I don’t know. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be looking for,” he answers honestly. According to all the data, human arousal should follow a predictable pattern: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. He memorized the chart decades ago, and he has no problem making it to the first two steps, but from that point on, the plateau stage usually turns into an endless desert with no escape in sight.

“Well, can you show me what you’ve tried?”

Crowley’s frame goes rigid with panic; the thought of Aziraphale watching him touch himself filling him with the dread of a black hole.

“Please, don’t make me…” he pleads.

“I won’t make you do anything.”

No, of course he won’t. He’d never.

“I know.”

Silence falls over them. Crowley’s tears come to a standstill, but there’s still an iron hot weight caving against his chest cavity; a sense of disappointment as profound as it is devastating.

He’s been hoping for years, nay decades, centuries, that Aziraphale was his missing piece. That once they finally found each other, then everything else would come naturally.

It was stupid to be so bloody optimistic.

“Well, would you like me to try something else? Anything you want, love.”

God, he wants everything. He wants it so bad and is distraught that he can’t just steal it like he does his sunglasses and moisturizer.

“I guess just… keep going. It feels good. It always feels good. I just can’t fucking get there.” He casts his eyes down, feeling so impossibly small. Hardly bigger than a molecule. “Maybe God doesn’t want me to,” he whispers.

“Darling, no,” the angel replies without a second to spare.

“It’d be fitting penance, wouldn’t it?” he says with a weak laugh. “Who’s that Greek bloke? The bastard stuck in a lake always reaching for the fruit? What’s his name? Tarantula?”

“Tantalus,” he answers with a smile. “Condemned to starve while the fruit of the underworld forever evaded his grasp. But don’t worry, that story isn’t real. It was devised as targeted propaganda against a very unpopular Anatolian king.”

“Oh, brilliant. So I should be getting off no problem then.”

Aziraphale coaxes him to raise his eyes again. Even after all these millennia it still amazes him that the angel has never once flinched at the sight of his serpentine eyes.

“Crowley, if this is important to you, then I’ll get you there. However long it takes. Whatever you need from me, it’s yours. Human bodies come with many inconveniences and precious few pleasures, and the last thing I want is for you to feel deprived of one of the only pure gifts bestowed upon mankind. You deserve ecstasy. You deserve all that creation has to offer.”

Fuck, he’s in deep water. He’s so far beyond recovery. This is a terminal condition. Any illusion of independence has been incinerated in a cask of holy water. He’s been blistered and branded and fuck he might just accidentally set the bed on fire if Aziraphale says another word.

“Where the fuck you’d learn to talk like that?”

“Like what?”

“Like you know what the fuck you’re doing.”

Aziraphale lets out a small laugh. “You simply… bring out the best in me.”

Even if Crowley needed to breathe, he probably wouldn’t be able to. He's so full of love there’s no space left for a single gasp of air.

“Can you keep touching me?” he asks pitifully.

“Of course, dear. And no more apologies. I’m in no hurry. We have all the time in the universe.”

With that, he slowly reaches back below his waistband, softly taking him in his grip; his palm perfectly wet and the warmth soothing his raw nerves like medicine. Or alcohol. One and the same.

“I don’t think I’d survive an eternity of this,” Crowley pants. “Christ, one hand job and I turn into one of your lot. But if this really is God’s gift, she might just smite me at the finish line,” he laughs, followed by an indignant gasp when Aziraphale runs his thumb across the head.

“Are you scared?”

Crowley goes still, a half-formed moan dying on his tongue.

When did Aziraphale get so goddamn intuitive? Six thousand years of flirting with a brick wall and now all of a sudden the dense bastard can pick him apart like a fiddle.

“A little,” he answers honestly.

“Well, you’re doing wonderfully. No need to be frightened.”

Something jolts through Crowley’s nervous system. Something raw and sweet, but it’s gone in a blink. But not before all the blood in his system shoots straight between his legs with a force that probably made the whole bed shake.

“Say more things like that,” he practically begs.

“Like what? About how good you’re doing?”

“Yeah, more of that. Please.”

An insufferable smirk spreads across the angel’s face. “Alright, well, um… Sorry, somewhat out of practice.” He clears his throat. “Thank you for letting me see you like this. For letting me be the first to see you like this. As 2 Corinthians says: My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in–”

“Please, please don’t quote that stack of dead trees at a time like this.”

“Right, sorry. I could recite–”

“No, don’t recite anything. Just talk to me.”

He reaches up to grasp the silk of Aziraphale’s shirt, trying to communicate that it isn’t a request, but a need, and he won’t be able to get there without it.

“Of course,” he says, followed by a deep inhale, as he seems to take in Crowley’s scent. “You really are… extraordinarily beautiful. Every time you move, you leave behind a glimmer. A shadow of light, something effervescent and ephemeral. Even now, feeling you tremble, it’s radiating off you in waves. Love. So much love. It’s devastating.”

Crowley suddenly feels overcome with something that he hasn’t felt in a long time. Perhaps since before he was cast out of heaven. Back when his faith in God was replete and satiated. Back when there was no need to ask any questions because creation in and of itself was perfect.

Something nudges at the back of his mind. Like a handful of switches and buttons finally clicking in the right direction. This is the farthest he’s ever made it. He’s on foreign ground now. Pressing into unknown territory. How much farther he has to go, it’s impossible to say.

“That’s it, darling. You’re doing so good. Stay right here with me. You’re safe. I’ll take care of you. No need to worry about anything whatsoever.”

Crowley can’t help but wonder if Aziraphale is stealthily infiltrating his mind and implanting his words straight into his core. The horizon is steadily coming into focus. There’s something building. His body is moving involuntarily now, clearly understanding what it needs better than he does.

Are they still in the flat above the bookshop? That can’t be right. There can’t be actual human people existing in the neighboring flats and down in the street below. All quietly going about their shopping, and phone calls, and fighting about who’s going to pick the kids up from school. How can any of that possibly exist? How can anything exist beyond whatever the fuck is happening in the space between their bodies?

“Sweetheart, you’re trying so hard. I’m so proud of you. I know it’s hard, but it’ll be worth it. Keep going, I won’t let you go. Dear lord, such beautiful sounds.”

Is he making sound? There’s far too much white noise swirling around his head for him to distinguish what’s actually coming out of his mouth. It’s like the sound of the ocean combined with the sharp static of an airwave. The pressure of the water is caving in, thumping against his eardrums, and amidst the circumambient noise, Aziraphale’s voice is resounding from everywhere and nowhere.

“You put all the choirs in heaven to shame. You could tempt any human to the edge of the earth with nothing but the exquisite sounds you’re letting me hear this very moment.”

His muscles rebel and twist in every direction, spasming erratically. God in heaven, there’s something there. Something ancient, buried deep inside him, rooted in his core, and finally, finally it’s cresting to the surface.

This is it. Finally, this is it.

“Don’t be scared, love. Doesn’t it feel sweet? Can you feel the warmth everywhere?”

He can. It’s more than everywhere. It’s building in layers. And despite the angel’s assurances, he is scared. He’s so fucking scared. He’s starting to think that maybe he was right. Maybe his denial was a curse. Maybe God never wanted him to feel this, and reaching beyond his class will serve as his final act of defiance before he bursts into flames right here in his angel’s arms.

It’s sitting barely an inch below the surface now, maybe only seconds away. Pounding and pounding against his skin, the gate splintering a little more on every stroke.

Almost. Almost.

“I think it’s happening,” he gasps. If this isn’t it, then he’s not sure how much more he can take. There’s pain creeping along the outskirts of the pleasure. A primal agony compelling his body to move faster, finish quicker, try harder. A warning that if he doesn’t succeed, the pain will engulf him from the inside out.

“Good, you’re almost there. Just a little more. Don’t worry, I’ve got you. That’s it, hold on to me tight. You’re so perfect like this. You deserve this and so much more.”

He manages to pry his eyes open, trying to ignore the sting of his sweat and the pulsing black spots around his periphery.

“Aziraphale…”

“Let go whenever you’re ready.”

Please, make it stop, he wants to beg. He can’t take it anymore. At this point he doesn’t even care if God smites him down. He’ll die either way. He’ll die in this bed, brought down by something so stupidly human.

Please God, let me have this. Just this once. Punish me however you like, but please, don’t leave me here.

“It hurts,” he rasps, unable to articulate the fire brandishing his nerves.

Aziraphale just smiles down at him. “But isn’t it a beautiful agony, my dear?”

There’s no snap. Or break. He expected it to happen with the force of a gunshot, but the final step is so soft it feels like little more than a gentle nudge.

And then the cords pull tight, his body locking into place as he briefly loses all sense of identity. Of matter. All his fears evaporate as the euphoric absence of pain courses through him like a drug. He’s there. He’s there. He’s suspended in it, stripped of all thought as it swells into something that defies language, and god, he finally understands why no one can ever accurately put this into words.

It just feels Good.

There’s more sound coming out of his mouth. A long, pained moan that he presses into Aziraphale’s chest.

How long does it last? Maybe only ten seconds, but he’s actually thankful that it doesn’t go on any longer. He’s not sure how much more he could have endured.

As he returns to his senses, the physical evidence becomes apparent. He’s saturated in sweat. It’s soaking through the sheets. And of course he’s wet down there, but he’s actually thankful for it, despite the fact that it’s starting to itch. It’s proof that it actually happened. He didn’t imagine or manufacture it. He made it to the other side, more or less in one piece. He’s finally in on the joke. And fuck, that’s one hell of a punchline.

“So, you’re the expert,” Crowley says after a minute or ten of gathering up his scattered wits. “Is it like that every time?”

“No,” Aziraphale laughs. “But it can be. If you put your mind to it.”

“And your mouth.”

Crowley smiles at the dusty blush on the angel’s face.

“I didn’t know you were so keen on… positive reinforcement.”

“Don’t look so smug just ‘cause you got me off. But that reminds me, I gotta–” He reaches to the side to snap his fingers.

“What did you just do?”

“I just made a junior researcher at the Department of Health come up with a miracle solution that will remove sexual dysfunction as a side effect from virtually all depression medication.”

“That was awfully nice of you.”

“Eh, well, I don’t think I should be getting brownie points considering that I invented the side effect in the first place.”

“You what?” he says incredulously. “Crowley, very few of your evil deeds have driven me to question your salvation. But this one is certainly up there.”

“Cut me some slack, I haven’t been able to get off for the last six thousand years.”

Aziraphale's look of consternation quickly softens around the edges, no doubt hampered by Crowley's practiced pout. Finally he relinquishes his faux indignation and leans down to brush his fingers through Crowley's hair and press a kiss against his forehead. "You poor thing. I'm sorry you had to wait so long."

Although it shouldn't technically be possible, Crowley can swear that he's growing tired. His eyelids feel weighted, and the edges of his vision are turning grainy. 

"Just don't let it happen again," he mumbles, basking in the soft tingles engulfing his body. Christ, he can feel it in his toes. And his ears. He can feel it everywhere. And he can't help but wonder if Aziraphale can feel it too.