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The Inevitable

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Aziraphale seems small and unhappy in his flat. Crowley always thought it feels a bit like a cave, where a snake would live, but Aziraphale is dusty towers of books and fussy carpets and doesn’t belong here. All up in smoke, now. Perhaps Aziraphale is just smaller without them.

“Come on, angel,” he says, more gently than he means to. “Bedroom’s -” he’s proud he doesn’t stumble over that, “first on the left.”

“Oh,” Aziraphale says weakly behind him. “Thank you.”

“Drink first?”

“Yes. Yes, please, I think that would be… yes.”

The walls of his flat are concrete reinforced with steel. When he goes into the kitchen, he can’t hear or feel Aziraphale at all, and it gives the adrenaline withdrawal a nasty edge. He hurries, getting the glasses, and nearly drops one.

It’s better in the main room; having Aziraphale in the corner of his eye brings his heartbeat back down to a slow, steady rate. He has a single malt scotch and a nice rich red. He hesitates, then chooses the scotch. Aziraphale takes the glass and sips without seeming to taste it.

“Your plants are nice.”

“Don’t go giving them ideas.”

Aziraphale frowns at him.

“What ideas? You take very good care of them.”

Crowley slams his glass on the table. “I don’t take care of them, angel! I’m a demon! I terrify them into submission. Fear and hatred are the motivating factors in this house and I won’t have you fuck up my training!”

He’s raised his voice. His knuckles are white around his glass. Aziraphale just looks at him.

“I think – I think I’ll turn in,” Aziraphale says, after a moment. “Thank you for the drink. And for – letting me stay.”

Crowley raises a hand in acknowledgement. The sound of the angel shuffling down the hall. The door opening and closing. He has a few minutes of blessed silence where he has the luxury to contemplate the flaw in his brilliant plan to keep the angel absolutely within sight at all times. He could always make the walls transparent, he supposes. Seems a bit pervy. And honestly, he thinks he might not have the energy.

The door opens and Aziraphale pads back out. He looks even more out of place now, in socks and stripy pajamas from at least the fifties.

“Where will you sleep?”

“Here,” Crowley says dully, gesturing at the… well, it’s a throne, isn’t it. A sad little throne. He wishes he’d changed it before he brought Aziraphale over here. “I’m very bendy, angel, I’ll be fine.”

Aziraphale stands there, and doesn’t say anything. One of his socks has a hole in, through which Crowley can see his big toe. Looks like a human toe, slightly crooked toenail and everything. It doesn’t seem right, somehow.

“It’s a very big bed,” Aziraphale says.

Crowley’s head jerks up like it’s on a string. Aziraphale is fidgeting with the hem of his button-up pajama top.

“It’s just, I can hear you being upset from in there. Even through the walls.”

Crowley rubs his hands over his face and tries to get a hold of himself. “Sorry.”

He jumps when Aziraphale’s fingers brush the back of his hand, then press firmly, more insistently. “Crowley,” Aziraphale mutters, cheeks red, stubborn as a mule. “This is silly. Come on.”

Heart turned to water in his chest, Crowley lets Aziraphale hold his hand, lead him into his own bedroom, and shut the door behind him.

“Well,” Aziraphale says, fussing with the blankets. “Put on whatever you wear to bed, then.”

“Maybe I sleep nude,” Crowley’s mouth says without any real input from the rest of him. Aziraphale doesn’t flinch, but his ears get a little redder.

“Well, bodies are nothing to be ashamed of. Which side do you prefer?”

Crowley points dumbly. Aziraphale climbs into his bed and pulls the blankets up to his chest. Crowley miracles himself into a t-shirt and boxers. His clothes smell of smoke. His hair smells of smoke. He contemplates having a shower, but then he wouldn’t be able to see Aziraphale. If he doesn’t, he won’t be able to smell him. He burns another miracle on getting himself clean and overdoes it a bit with exhaustion. He crawls between the sheets, feeling slightly scoured. Once he gets in, Aziraphale lies down on his back, eyes open, hands folded on his chest like a corpse. Crowley shudders, and turns out the light.

He hasn’t shared a bed with anyone in… decades. If he reached out, he’d be able to feel where the mattress dips under Aziraphale’s weight. Aziraphale sighs heavily. His eyes are still open, Crowley can see the faint light from the skylight reflecting them in the dark. He’s right there. Not dead. Perfectly fine. Crowley turns his back on him, shuts his eyes tight, and concentrates on feeling Aziraphale’s presence less than a foot from him. If he can convince his stupid terror to let up, he’ll be able to sleep.

Then Aziraphale rolls and shuffles across the mattress towards Crowley and drapes an arm over his side. Crowley goes absolutely rigid.

“Is this all right?” he murmurs.

Crowley honestly isn’t sure, but he makes a noise that Aziraphale seems to take to be positive. After a moment, cautiously, Aziraphale shuffles closer, so they’re pressed up against each other, and tucks his chin against Crowley’s back. His palm is pressed chastely against Crowley’s chest, holding him in place. He must be able to feel the speed Crowley’s heart is going. He’s warm through those ridiculous pajamas, warmer than anyone’s ever been, and Crowley can barely stop himself from yearning backwards like a plant, climbing all over him and pressing as close as he can possibly get.

“Crowley, a – a couple of days ago, I lied,” Aziraphale says.

Crowley’s brain presents him with a dial tone, wrong number.

“I do like you,” he mutters into the collar of Crowley’s t-shirt. “In fact I -” he takes a breath, and Crowley can’t live through this, he can’t. “I care about you very deeply. Much more than I –”

Crowley is barely aware of moving before his face is buried in Aziraphale’s shoulder, arms and legs wrapped around him, his hands like claws holding Aziraphale’s stripy shirt in a death grip. After making a surprised noise, Aziraphale hushes him and pats his back, and Crowley hates it.

“Thought you were gone,” he mutters. He’s vibrating with misery, and Aziraphale isn’t doing the decent thing and ignoring him.

“Oh, my dear, I’m so sorry,” he says. “It’s all right now. Everything will be all right.”

It’s so manifestly untrue and Crowley wants it so desperately to be true that he loses another piece of his mind. “You love me,” he hisses wetly into his shoulder. It’s awful. “Tell me you love me, angel, or I’ll -”

“Oh Crowley, of course do.” Aziraphale runs his palm up and down his back with long, soothing strokes, runs his fingers into his hair and holds him tightly like it’s the easiest thing in the world, as if he hadn’t run the other way at the merest hint of the word fraternize for the last six thousand years. “I do. I do. Shhh, it’s perfectly all right.”

The sound Crowley makes is unfathomably embarrassing. He’s never actually committed terrible violence, reputation notwithstanding, but he feels like he wants to tear someone’s throat out. Maybe his own.

“I think I’ve – I’ve been rather unfair to you,” Aziraphale murmurs, still stroking his dam- his bloody back.

“Shut up, angel,” Crowley groans, and kisses him just to make sure it sticks. Aziraphale is in the middle of saying something else sincere and complicated, and he inhales sharply, sealing their mouths together, at which point Crowley loses his head entirely and licks his bottom lip. Aziraphale makes a breathy, surprised noise that Crowley chases until it turns into a moan. Then Aziraphale, never to be outdone, darts his tongue into Crowley’s mouth, and it’s Crowley’s turn to have a moan wrung out of him as Aziraphale kisses him with conviction and commitment, his hands fisted tight in Crowley’s t-shirt. The feeling like broken glass in his chest melts away, leaving him limp and boneless. The kiss ends slowly, little licks and closed-mouth presses, and Crowley’s absolutely sure he could get Aziraphale to bite him next time.

“I always wondered what that would be like,” Aziraphale murmurs against his cheek. “With you, I mean.”

Crowley giggles helplessly. “You did.”

“I don’t suppose… you don’t want to have sex, do you?”

“Nah.”

“Oh, all right,” Aziraphale sighs a little against him. “I’ve never tried it. I just thought it might be fun to try it once. With you.”

Crowley gives him one more peck on the lips. He’s filled with calm, like a bottomless lake. “Angel, do you know what we’re going to do tomorrow?”

“Be discorporated and then obliterated, I expect.” Aziraphale sounds glum, but not upset. He combs strands of Crowley’s hair between his fingers.

Crowley thought as much. He should be angry that imminent destruction what it takes for Aziraphale to finally, finally take him up on the six-thousand-year implicit standing offer of a bit of a cuddle. But he just doesn’t really have it in him. “Tomorrow,” he says, “We are going to foil our respective bosses with a cunning scheme. We are not going to be discorporated or obliterated. Then we’re going to have dinner together. Then we can try having sex, if we feel like it. But do you know what we are not going to do tonight?”

“Have sex, it sounds like.” Aziraphale sounds so put out that Crowley hides his smile against his shoulder, even as it turns into a yawn.

“We’re not going to break a six millenia dry streak when I’m too tired for anything but a quick wank.”

Aziraphale shifts against him with what Crowley, to his absolute delight, identifies as interest.

“But what if –”

Crowley slides up so close that his lips are brushing Aziraphale’s ear. “When we fuck,” he says, and thrills to feel Aziraphale shiver, “And we will, I want to take my time with you. But look at me, angel. I’m totally drained. A wraith. I couldn’t miracle an extra blanket if we needed one. Have mercy.”

He really is. His body, finally convinced that the emergency is over, feels like it’s welded to the mattress. His muscles should be screaming from being tensed up from all that time imagining the car through the flames, and the world's worst headache looms somewhere on the horizon, but it's all far away. He's fine here.

“Oh, all right. What’s the cunning scheme?” Aziraphale murmurs. Crowley tells him. He doesn’t think anyone’s coming for them here, tonight, not after the little holy water stunt, but best not leave it for the morning. It’s worth the expenditure of energy for the way Aziraphale pulls back to beam at him, eyes shining in the moonlight. “Oh, Crowley, that is cunning. Wily, even.”

Crowley is about to say something witty, but his jaw cracks on a yawn instead. Warm, soft, lovely Aziraphale has started stroking his back again. He smells very good. Crowley even loves his stupid shirt.

“My goodness, you really are tired.”

Sleep is waiting for him to tumble into it like a soft blanket. He barely hears Aziraphale murmur quietly, quietly, “Do you think this is how humans feel all the time?”

“Mm?”

“When they’re i-in love.”

His fingers tighten around Crowley’s ribs, just a little. That’s the big confession, Crowley realizes dimly, through his sleep fog; just regular old love isn’t beyond the pale for an angel, but in love, that’s big. His defenses are at rock bottom; he's swept under with a massive tenderness, far too big for his body. Aziraphale makes an odd, winded sound, catching Crowley's adoration like an elbow to the solar plexus.

“Couldn’t be that easy, could it?" Crowley says, after a few deep breaths. "Or they wouldn’t be trying to kill each other all the time.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Aziraphale says. He’s smiling, Crowley can hear it.

Crowley knows they’re going to live through tomorrow. He’s sure of it, with the giddy two a.m. conviction of being slightly drunk on love and single malt. They’ve got plenty of time.

“Go to sleep,” Aziraphale whispers. “I won’t go anywhere.”

Crowley doesn’t so much fall asleep, as saunter vaguely downward, with the conviction that Aziraphale will catch him.