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The J

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"The 'J' really doesn't stand for anything?"

Anthony J Crowley turned his rather unusual eyes on his partner. His ever-present sunglasses were folded neatly on his chest, and in the darkness his eyes seemed all the more reminiscent of the snake he'd once been. Aziraphale, after nearly 6000 years, was plenty used to the sharp gaze of the demon, so his eyes did not slide uncomfortably away from Crowley's as they once might have.

"Has that been bothering you this whole time?" Crowley asked, a note of incredulity in his voice. "It's been over a decade."

"Yes, well," said the angel, turning his head back to face the starlight above them. "It's just... well, it's been on my mind a bit, yes."

They were laying on a blanket in an otherwise deserted field, enjoying a midsummer night. The evening had started as a rendezvous to discuss the Arrangement in terms of the current activities of heaven and hell, but the picnic had lasted a bit longer than intended, and the sunset had been quite lovely, and there were just so many stars out, and really it couldn't hurt to stay just a little longer to... talk.

It wasn't so bad, anyway. There wasn't anybody around, and a bit of stargazing never hurt anyone, right?

Crowley watched Aziraphale's flustered fidgeting for a moment longer before he laughed, startling the angel. "If you must know," he said, "I just put it in there because I thought it sounded more interesting."

"More interesting?" Aziraphale mused. "I think..." He paused, looking back at Crowley, and when he continued his voice was softer. "I think you're plenty interesting already, Crowley."

The demon raised an eyebrow. "Really?"

"Yes, well, don't go advertising it to the whole world. I'm sure it's some sort of violation for an angel to find a demon," he lowered his voice again, "interesting."

Crowley made a face and turned his own head back to the sky. "You're telling me," he murmured, and Aziraphale flinched beside him.

"I didn't--" he started, then sighed. "Oh, look, all I meant was that in spite of everything, you are, well, my friend. And I don't want anything to... to change that."

Crowley flipped onto his side, ignoring his sunglasses as they slid down to rest between Aziraphale and himself.

"Nothing could change that, Angel." His voice was more delicate than Aziraphale had ever heard it, and he'd never been less sure if one word was an adjective or an endearment in his life. Crowley watched the blush bloom on his cheeks and let his smile grow slightly.

There was a lull in the conversation as the words settled in the air around them. They were things that had never been said aloud before and were unable to be unsaid, and it filled them both with an odd mixture of joy and anxiety in varying amounts.

After a while, Crowley spoke again, eyes fixed on a point somewhere above Aziraphale's left ear. "I'm open to suggestions."

"Mmm?" The angel hummed in question, staring resolutely at Crowley's tie.

"For the 'J'," Crowley said. "Since it's been bothering you." His eyes flickered back to Aziraphale's face, then jumped away to follow the progress of a lightning bug flitting near their picnic basket.

"Oh?" Aziraphale murmured, wondering vaguely why his eyes suddenly seemed unable to travel up past his friend's Adam's apple. Crowley's words sunk into his brain. "Oh!" He looked up to see the demon's eyes tracking something behind him. "Oh."

He swallowed, collecting his thoughts as Crowley's eyes found his for the briefest moment. He closed his eyes and swallowed again. "Yes, yes, of course, the name."

His brow furrowed. "You know, I hadn't actually thought about it. I mean," he floundered, "I thought about it, but I never actually thought about a name."

Crowley laughed again, making Aziraphale huff and effectively breaking the tension between them.

“I didn’t think we’d ever talk about it,” Aziraphale said.

Crowley's eyes sparkled and a smile played across his features as he gazed at the angel. "You are many things, Aziraphale, but unprepared is rarely one of them."

Aziraphale turned his head sharply. "I-- oh," he said, seeing the mirth in his friend's eyes. "You're kidding."

"Of course I am," Crowley said. He patted Aziraphale's shoulder in a manner both comforting and mildly awkward as his arm rested across Aziraphale's chest. He didn't move it, though, as he added, "I didn't really expect you to have a name all picked out. Although, on thinking it through, that wouldn't be all that surprising."

Aziraphale blinked, his mind briefly short-circuiting from the demon’s continued physical contact. Without thinking, he rolled onto his side to face Crowley and make the placement of his arm less uncomfortable.

Ignoring, or maybe not hearing, Crowley’s sharp intake of breath with the movement, Aziraphale scrutinized his friend. He hummed thoughtfully and closed his eyes, a look of deep concentration etched on his features.

Crowley struggled to breathe for an instant and had to resist the suddenly overwhelming urge to pull the angel closer to him, even as Aziraphale unconsciously nudged his arm more securely around his shoulder and squirmed around to be ever-so-slightly nearer to him. When his respiratory tract recovered, Crowley found that each exhale stirred the top of Aziraphale’s hair.

Aziraphale’s eyes opened to find Crowley’s face considerably closer than it had been when last they checked. In fact, he was now almost fully in Crowley’s embrace and the demon’s expression held the same breathless awe that Aziraphale felt. It took a moment of staring into Crowley’s equally wide eyes for his brain to reboot. It took another moment for him to remember what he’d been thinking about before his eyes opened, a moment in which the only sound was frogs croaking in the distance.

"I think 'James' sounds nice.” He hadn’t meant to whisper, but somehow he was unable to make his voice any louder.

"'James'?" Crowley’s answer was just as soft.

"'Anthony James Crowley'. You have to admit, it rolls off the tongue. Almost better than 'Anthony J Crowley', if you ask me.”

Crowley pondered this for a while, snake-ish eyes closed, lips pursed. Aziraphale tried not to think about Crowley’s lips.

Crowley nodded, his eyes snapping back open and drawing Aziraphale’s attention from where he’d been doing a rather poor job of not thinking about Crowley’s lips.

“Anthony James Crowley,” said Crowley, nodding again. “I like it.”

A hopeful smile spread across Aziraphale’s face. “Oh, do you?”

Crowley grinned, then, unthinkably, drew Aziraphale closer until they were practically touching. “Of course I do, Angel.”

Aziraphale let out a contented sigh and leaned his head just a bit further forward to rest on Crowley’s chest. He didn’t see the demon’s grin fade into a soft, sweet smile, but he heard him repeat, “Of course I do.”