Aziraphale isn't sure what compels him to go home with Crowley, except that it feels like the right thing to do. The only thing, really. He can't imagine going their separate ways, not now. Not now they'd come so close to losing each other, and Aziraphale had thrown off his allegiance to Heaven just to find Crowley.
Almost as soon as they’ve made it inside the flat, Crowley is on him, pushing him against the wall like he’d done at Tadfield Manor, but oh, so much better this time. Lips and teeth and tongue, and Crowley’s hips rolling against his, and for a moment Aziraphale is lost.
For a moment. But something about Crowley feels off. Year and years they’ve spent dancing around each other, and Aziraphale knows what Crowley feels like, the way his aura warps the air around him when he’s angry or impatient or scared.
“Crowley,” Aziraphale murmurs, pulling back from his frenzied kisses enough to look at his face.
“What?” Crowley snaps. He breathes heavily, once twice, and swallows. “Too fast?”
Everything is just slightly off-center, just a little bit out of alignment, but it is enough that when Aziraphale raises a hand and pushes Crowley’s sunglasses up into his hair, he is unsurprised to find fear in his eyes. Crowley blinks and grabs Aziraphale’s hand where its moved down to cup his cheek, but he makes no attempt to pull him away, leans into the touch, still breathing irregularly.
“Crowley,” Aziraphale says his name again, softer still, and watches the panic flicker across Crowley’s face. “What’s wrong?”
A sharp laugh. “Nothing’s wrong, unless you’re about to tell me this isn’t what you wanted after all.” He takes another deliberate deep breath, but it does nothing, Aziraphale realizes with growing disquiet, to even out his breathing. In fact, it has grown more erratic, rapid and shallow between those heavier, conscious breaths. He’s trembling now, his lower lip quivering, the grip on Aziraphale’s hand tightening, a shiver running through him. His eyes are gold all the way out and Aziraphale thinks he can feel scales popping out on his palm where he’s clutching his hand. He swallows again, parts his lips slightly, and Aziraphale sees sharp eye teeth, longer than any human’s.
Without a further word, Aziraphale nudges Crowley backwards into the hall of his flat, directs him into the living room and pushes his shoulders down until he sits on the pristine white sofa. “Asssss—Asssssssssiraphale—Aziraphale,” Crowley lisps, looking up at him with terror writ large across his every feature, his eyes wide, his expression helpless. Mottled black-red scales break out across his forehead, his collarbone, the backs of his hands, and Aziraphale, having no idea what else to do, sits down beside him and pulls him into his arms.
“Hush now. You’re alright.” He feels Crowley’s arms come up to grip him back, sharp nails digging into his shoulders. “I’ve got you.”
“Angel,” Crowley gasps, “Angel, I’m sorry, I’m sssssorry, I—”
“It’s quite alright.” Aziraphale tries to soothe, tries to rock him, completely unsure if he’s helping or not; he’s never seen Crowley lose control in quite this way. Sometimes Crowley lashes out in anger or hurt, and he’s seen him vulnerable before, but nothing like this. Nothing this fragmented, nothing this… shattered. It’s like watching Crowley break, this shivering, terrified creature clinging to him like he might disappear, and oh. Oh, Aziraphale thinks, feeling very small and fragile himself all of a sudden.
“I’m here, dearest.” Aziraphale whispers, and he finds himself wishing Crowley hadn’t taken to cutting his hair short again, that he could push it back and kiss his temples, the place where his jaw meets his ear. He runs his hand through it instead, fingers along Crowley’s scalp, and Crowley takes a deep breath, and another, and finally, finally, he settles. The weight of him against Aziraphale’s chest becomes something warm and comfortable rather than something uncertain and anxious as he moves almost imperceptibly closer, and Aziraphale feels him let out a shaky sigh.
“Too fast.” Crowley says after several long moments during which Aziraphale continues to pet his hair where he has his face buried in his chest.
“You’ve not done anything wrong.” Aziraphale offers, and Crowley shakes his head. The movement dislodges Aziraphale’s arm from around his shoulder and he slides his hand down Crowley’s back instead.
“Too fast for me, angel, not for you.” Crowley looks up at last, his expression still afraid, but not nearly as much as it had been before. “If I don’t—Angel, if I can’t—will you wait for me?”
Aziraphale isn’t sure what Crowley is referring to, truthfully, but he knows his answer regardless. “Of course. Of course I will.”
Crowley kisses him, a quick thing, and then he lays his head on Aziraphale’s shoulder. It’s the most extended physical contact they’ve ever had, and now they’ve started, neither of them seem in much of a hurry for it to end. Aziraphale shifts on the sofa to better allow Crowley to lay on him. He keeps petting his hair, thinking again of all the times he’s had it longer and how much he’d wanted to do exactly what he’s doing now six, sixty, two hundred, five thousand years ago.
“Will you please tell me what happened just now?” Aziraphale asks after several more minutes, and Crowley winces.
“I’m sorry.” Crowley says, low in his throat, and Aziraphale presses a kiss to his forehead. “I thought… with you coming back here tonight… taking me up on the offer to stay here… you’d want to have sex.”
Aziraphale tenses slightly. He had done, until Crowley had started having a panic attack in his own front hall, but he wasn’t sure how to say so politely, so he just waits for Crowley to continue.
Aziraphale clears his throat. “Did. Ah. Did you want to have sex?”
“Of course I do, I’m a demon and I’ve been pining after you for six thousand years.” Crowley snaps, then takes another deep breath. Aziraphale prods at his aura.
“Which bit of that is the lie?” He says softly, and Crowley glares at him for a moment before all the fight, summoned back up so quickly and quietly, goes back out of him again.
“The… the first bit.” He looked utterly defeated saying so, and Aziraphale frowns down at him, confused and wrong-footed.
“If you don’t want to have sex, we don’t have to have sex. What on earth do you think you’re playing at?”
For a long, long moment, they look at each other. Aziraphale can feel his heart beating rapidly in his chest. He wonders if Crowley can hear it from his position situated on top of him.
Eventually, Crowley looks down. “I thought I’d lost you today, angel.” He takes Aziraphale’s hand that isn’t busy stroking through his hair and threads their fingers together, hesitant, as though he isn’t sure Aziraphale won’t throw him off. It makes something bloom bright and fierce and protective in Aziraphale’s chest, that quiet tenderness. He’s always had that, Aziraphale thinks, always, and I never let him get close enough.
“You didn’t.” Aziraphale reminds him. “You couldn’t. I’d…” He feels himself go very red with embarrassment and apprehension, and clears his throat a little, which causes Crowley to look up at him again with the beginnings of a teasing grin on his anxious face. Aziraphale meets his eyes, very serious. He owes Crowley this much, after everything. After six thousand years. “I’d always come back for you.”
Crowley doesn’t laugh. His face splits into a beaming smile, the sort of look he’d given Aziraphale in Eden. Like he’d found something he hadn’t realized he’d been looking for. That was how Aziraphale had felt, seeing Crowley smile like that.
“So, if you don’t want to have sex, it really makes no difference to me.” Aziraphale says, rather too briskly, but Crowley just nods, still smiling. “We have plenty of time.”
“All the time in the world.” Crowley agrees. “And if we never…” He trails off, his expression clouding over again, and Aziraphale thinks he understands at last the source of Crowley’s anxiety.
“If we never do, I’d still come back for you.” Aziraphale says, and Crowley completely fails to hide the expression of relief that slides across his face. Aziraphale wonders where he's picked up the idea that sex is so very important, if it had been humans or demons or something else entirely that had given him that impression. Sex is nice enough, but truly no more so than oysters or wine or what they are doing right now, holding each other on Crowley’s rather uncomfortable sofa. In fact, Aziraphale thinks, in the grand scheme of physical pleasures this, right now, ranks higher than every sexual encounter he can remember. “You’re my best friend, too, you know.” He says, and Crowley scoffs. “No, you are. You are, my dear.”
“What’s with all the pet names tonight? Dearest, dear.” Crowley makes a little sound in the back of his throat, slightly derisive.
“Oh, as if you’ve been calling me angel for millennia out of convenience.” Aziraphale says with a snort, and Crowley breathes out a laugh that tickles Aziraphale’s throat as he shifts to press ever closer. His eyes have drifted closed. Aziraphale leans his cheek against the top of Crowley’s head.
“I was ready to give up, you know.” Crowley murmurs some time later, and Aziraphale starts.
“After the bookshop burned down.” Crowley says it casually, but Aziraphale can feel his anxiety again. “If you hadn’t shown up, I don’t know that I would have left that bar between then and the end of the world.”
“Lucky I did, then.” Aziraphale whispered against his hair.
Crowley’s tone is fond. “Lucky. Right.” He kisses Aziraphale neck, just once. “How did you find me?”
There is something wet on Aziraphale’s cheeks. Tears spilling down his face, that he’d somehow missed until just now, thinking about holy water and regret and loss. He’d been so afraid he was going to lose Crowley, that the demon would leave him behind, and as soon as he himself had been discorporated the first thing he’d thought of was Crowley. Getting to Crowley, because all that fear, all that love had to go somewhere. He wonders if it’s possible to tell Crowley so, or if he’ll just end up sounding idiotic.
“You’re hard to overlook.” Is what Aziraphale says, and it is true and it isn’t, but Crowley doesn’t push the issue. Instead he hums.
“Would you like to come to bed?” Crowley asks. “Be a bit more comfortable than laying together on the sofa.”
“To sleep?” Aziraphale asks, hesitant. He doesn’t really feel up to reopening the topic of sex this evening.
“Yeah. S’nice, angel, you’d like it. Come sleep with me.”
“Well,” Aziraphale says, moving to let Crowley stand up and offer him a hand to his feet, “I suppose if we must.” He gives Crowley a look that he hopes communicates that he’d like nothing better in the world, and it must be effective, because Crowley takes his hand and leads him on.