“Well,” said Aziraphale with a contented sigh, “that was certainly everything I dreamt it would be.”
They were tangled up together in Crowley’s smooth black sheets. Aziraphale preferred his own flat, but given that Crowley actually sought out slumber from time to time, he had by far the superior bed. Sooner or later, Aziraphale would need to broach the concept of moving in together and consolidating their things. The prospect gave his stomach a giddy twist. He was savoring it, a little.
“I did have a thought,” said Crowley.
“Hm?” said Aziraphale, brushing the hair out of Crowley’s eyes.
“Used to have a thought,” Crowley amended, leaning into the touch. Then, “Don’t know why I’m telling you this—”
Crowley was less guarded both during and immediately after making love. It was one of many charming things about him.
“Go on,” said Aziraphale, “I’m listening.” He rubbed gentle circles on Crowley’s scalp, and Crowley went boneless.
“I used to imagine,” Crowley said, “us, together, like—” he gestured between their naked bodies, “in a garden.”
Aziraphale considered this. “Where anyone could see?”
“No,” said Crowley. “Not a park, a garden. Sometimes, when I hadn’t seen you in a few decades, I’d think about, uh, laying you down in a bed of flowers, or maybe you could lay me down, and—” He broke off with a strangled noise and rolled over to bury his face in Aziraphale’s collarbone.
“What?” said Aziraphale, reaching up to absent-mindedly stroke his hair again. “That seems—as far as fantasies go, that feels very attainable.” Assuming they were both comfortable burning a miracle or two to protect themselves from unwanted insects or mulch.
“It’s so embarrassing,” Crowley mumbled into Aziraphale’s skin. “Humiliating.”
Aziraphale began to laugh.
Crowley pulled back to study his face. “Aziraphale, are you alright?”
Aziraphale continued laughing. Crowley grasped his shoulder. “Explain,” said Crowley. “Now.”
Aziraphale stared up at the ceiling for a long moment. “Oh god,” he said faintly.
“The thing you need to understand,” Aziraphale began, once they’d dressed and brewed two cups of tea. Both were for Aziraphale. He needed the fortification. “What you need to understand is, Upstairs was very staunch there was no such thing as a good demon, or even an alright one.”
“I’m familiar, yes,” said Crowley, wry.
“There was no wiggle room on this,” Aziraphale continued. “Any appearance of warmth, or generosity had to be a trick, and for the most devious ends imaginable.” He took a long sip of tea. “And from the start, you were so friendly.”
“You thought I was up to something,” said Crowley. “Fair enough.”
“Well, it was Heaven,” said Aziraphale apologetically. “They couldn’t be wrong, surely.” He acknowledged his error there with a bitter twist of his lips. “Anyway,” he admitted, “I only suspected you of dark motives for the first millennia or two. Eventually, you saved my life—and passed up so many opportunities to hurt me—that I think I began to trust you despite myself.”
Crowley looked somewhat touched, although this could not truly have been a shock. Aziraphale soldiered on. “But before things reached that point—I would occasionally wonder—and not often, you understand; even when I did believe there was something afoot, let’s say, as motivations go, it never made sense— ”
“What,” said Crowley.
“The things they said about demons, Upstairs,” Aziraphale said in a rush, “you’ll have to forgive me, my dear, I didn’t know you then, not really—”
“I used to, very rarely, consider the possibility that maybe you wanted me to Fall. That you wanted to make me Fall,” Aziraphale said. Crowley was silent. Aziraphale stared down at the steam wafting off his cup, feeling wretched. “That you were only acting nice, and kind, and, and interested, to get my guard down so you could, um, take me by force. Corrupting an angel and all that.” He let out a long breath. “I stopped seriously entertaining the notion a very long time ago,” he added.
“Well, obviously,” said Crowley, with surprising calm, “or you wouldn’t be here right now.”
Helping to save the world had given Crowley a bit more confidence. It was a pleasant thought.
Were Aziraphale more of a coward, he would’ve left it there. But, well. Aziraphale had helped to save the world, too.
“I’m not finished,” he heard himself say.
Crowley waited, expectant.
Aziraphale bit his lip. “And then, like I said, I got to know you better, and realized you’d never, of course.”
“Despite yourself,” said Crowley, and it sounded like our side. “Despite Gabriel and all the fucking rest of them.”
“Right,” said Aziraphale, “and. That is when I started very much wanting you to. Take me against my will, that is.”
The easy smile dropped off Crowley’s face. His mouth hung open.
“So!” Aziraphale said, aiming for cheery and landing, he could tell, somewhere closer to manic, “the next time you start to feel ashamed for having perfectly wholesome, pastoral desires, what with the flowers and trees and all, just remember, it could be worse!”
“You,” said Crowley faintly, “want me to rape—”
“I want you to pretend to,” Aziraphale broke in quickly. “And we don’t have to, I really cannot stress that enough! We don’t always do what I want, or else you’d own a single comfortable chair and drive anywhere approaching the speed limit.”
“But you want,” Crowley repeated, “have wanted for a while, sounds like—”
“A very long while,” said Aziraphale. “But we can do other things, I promise, we don’t have to—I must imagine, it would play badly into all your—” Massive emotional issues, Aziraphale didn’t say. He sketched a vague gesture in the air.
“I may have some—” Crowley mirrored the motion. “But so do you, angel. As long as we’re not stupid about this, I suppose I don’t mind trying. And I know we don’t have to,” he added, brilliantly anticipating Aziraphale’s next comment. “But.” He peered into Aziraphale’s eyes. Given the former ubiquity of the glasses, eye contact was still something of a new thing between them, and Aziraphale was absolutely weak for it. “You want this. Very much?”
Heart beating in his throat, Aziraphale nodded. “Would you?” he breathed. “Really?”
“If you could see how your face just lit up,” said Crowley. He smiled then, and Aziraphale felt an unspeakable relief.
“Right. So. Ground rules.”
“Ground rules,” echoed Aziraphale.
“We need a—what do they call it?—a safeword. If either of us say it, we both stop. Immediately.”
“Right,” said Aziraphale. That made sense.
There was a pause. “How do we choose one?” said Crowley.
“Let’s just pick anything,” Aziraphale suggested. He cast around for the first word to come to mind. “Raspberry.”
“No good,” said Crowley, “because then you’ll get distracted thinking about raspberries.”
But Aziraphale didn’t hear him. “So sorry,” said Aziraphale. “I got distracted thinking about raspberries.”
“Gabriel,” said Crowley next. “That’ll kill the mood in a hurry.”
Aziraphale shook his head firmly. “We are not saying my former boss’s name in bed. Or wherever we do this,” he added, in case, say, a wall might be involved.
“Nebula,” Crowley said.
“Nebula,” Aziraphale agreed. They shook on it.
“Now,” said Crowley, “what don’t you want. In the—sex, not just generally.”
Aziraphale had spent so long twisted up in what he wanted, that at first, he could barely register the question the other way around.
He hummed, thoughtful. “Nothing that could draw blood,” he said after a moment. “Don’t choke me. You can talk about gagging me, but please don’t actually do it; I want to be able to make noise if I need to. And, ah, don’t hit me in the face.”
“I’m not hitting you at all,” said Crowley, almost affronted. “I don’t even want to pretend to threaten to hurt you.”
“Not that I object,” said Aziraphale, “but how then are you going to pretend to make me—”
“I’ll think of something,” Crowley said.
When push came to shove, Aziraphale had faith in Crowley’s imagination. He nodded.
“Another thing,” said Crowley. “We are definitely—all of that soft rubbish about nice reassurances and sweet nothings and hair-stroking after, we are definitely doing all of that.”
“I’m not sure I’ll need it,” said Aziraphale, “but it is good of you to—”
“Oh, I meant for me,” said Crowley. “You too if you want, but.”
Outright stating a need was very much a positive development. “Of course,” Aziraphale said brightly. “However many sweet nothings you need, my dear.”
Crowley rolled his eyes, but in a fond way.
They waited a few days. They had several more conversations. Aziraphale suspected that Crowley did a great deal of research on the topic, because he began to sprinkle those conversations with terminology. Crowley, who wasn’t even a reader. The mental image of Crowley cracking open a book or two just to indulge Aziraphale’s wilder whims made his throat tight.
They didn’t choose a particular time or place, but that Friday, when Aziraphale let himself into his upstairs flat after a long day of refusing to sell a single book to find Crowley sprawled in the most comfortable armchair, he just sort of knew.
“Angel,” said Crowley by way of greeting.
“Demon,” said Aziraphale, trying hard to remember the polite, distant way he’d addressed Crowley several thousand years ago. Smiling was right out, he knew that much. He could already feel his breath quickening.
Crowley gestured at the sofa. “Care to sit?”
Aziraphale swallowed. “How did you get into my flat?”
(No doubt with the key Aziraphale had given him some time ago, but back in the early days of their relationship, Aziraphale had tried, at least nominally, to cover his tracks where Crowley was concerned.)
Crowley’s grin widened. “Rude way to start a conversation,” he said. “Aren’t angels supposed to be nice?”
“I don’t believe that applies to servants of Lucifer,” Aziraphale sniffed.
“Haughty, aren’t you?” said Crowley. Never had all those long limbs lounged so aggressively. “Careful, I hear pride’s one of the Seven Deadlies.” He shrugged. “Sit, stand, it’s all the same to me, but think of your poor feet.”
Aziraphale perched gingerly on the sofa. Neither of them made a move towards the alcohol. All of the available literature had been clear on that point, but it left Aziraphale with nothing to occupy his hands. He squirmed.
“Why are you here?” said Aziraphale when Crowley did nothing for a long moment but stare. “What do you want?”
“Now there's a loaded question,” Crowley said pleasantly. “So, how’s the miracle business?”
“Fine,” said Aziraphale, and then, before he could stop, with millennia of ingrained manners, “How’s, um, sin?”
Crowley laughed. “You know,” he said, “I think it could be going better?”
“...sorry to hear that?” Aziraphale offered.
“No you’re not,” said Crowley, “Yet.” Very deliberately, he reached over and placed a hand on Aziraphale’s knee. Aziraphale watched the long fingers, the familiar, dear knuckles. He watched as Crowley slowly slid his palm, warm, up Aziraphale’s thigh.
“No,” said Aziraphale. It came out very breathy. He felt his face heat.
“Hm?” said Crowley, hand still moving. They’d discussed this, of course, and Crowley had even made him practice saying nebula, but the blood roared in Aziraphale’s ears nonetheless.
“Stop,” Aziraphale told him, more firmly. “St—it’s wrong. We’re not meant to, we’ll get in trouble— ”
“That’s three reasons,” Crowley singsonged. “And not a one of them was I don’t want this, did you notice that?”
“I don’t,” Aziraphale insisted, “want this.” Crowley’s thumb traced at Aziraphale’s hipbone, back and forth. Aziraphale shuddered, then twisted and stood, backing towards the wall.
“Not a lot of touching in Heaven, is there?” said Crowley, in a terrible parody of gentleness.
“Stop it, demon.” Aziraphale clenched his jaw. “Leave. Right now. Leave me alone, and we can just—go on, and pretend this didn’t happen.” He closed his eyes. When he opened them again, Crowley had somehow soundlessly crossed the room to stand in front of him.
“You know,” said Crowley, “by my lot’s standards, I have been astoundingly patient with you?” He took another step forward. “For two thousand years, I have pretended to care about—oysters and niceties and the divine plan, and I am done, I am through.”
“What do you—”
Crowley backed him the rest of the way into the wall and smiled, not remotely friendly. “I am going to take everything I want from you, sweet little untouched angel.” He set his thumb at the corner of Aziraphale’s mouth. “And you are going to beg me for more.”
“Or what?” said Aziraphale, in something a little too close to a squeak.
“Or I’ll hurt the next human who smiles at you,” said Crowley. “And the next, and the next, and so on. You’re so likeable, you know.”
Aziraphale felt his eyes widen. “You wouldn’t.”
“Of course I would,” Crowley said. “I bet it’ll only take one before you fall into my arms. But let’s not test me, hm?” He glanced around the flat, as if he’d never seen it before. “Have you got a bedroom around here?”
“Yes,” said Aziraphale tightly.
“Well?” said Crowley. “Lead the way.” Aziraphale shook his head. Crowley tsked. He leaned in, brushing his lips against the shell of Aziraphale’s ear. “Those poor humans,” he murmured.
Aziraphale’s heart thudded. And yet—well. He didn’t have a choice, did he?
He licked his lips. “Please don’t hurt anyone,” he said. “Let me go, and I’ll—I’ll do anything you want.”
“On the bed, if you please,” said Crowley imperiously. “And clothes off. I think you’ve made me wait long enough, don’t you?”
Aziraphale began to undress with clumsy, shaking hands. Crowley leaned against the doorframe, watching. “So slow,” Crowley chided. “Do you want me to rip them off?”
Aziraphale, who was very attached to his current waistcoat and moreover knew that the tailor responsible had been dead for seventy years, shook his head. Crowley took a lazy step closer. Aziraphale closed his eyes and miracled everything safely away instead.
He could hear Crowley walking a slow circuit around him, feel warm, amused breath as Crowley took in his peaked nipples and hardening cock.
“Look who’s eager.” Crowley’s voice, low and mocking.
“I’m not—” Aziraphale sputtered.
“Do all angels these days bear false witness as much as you do?” said Crowley. He leaned in and licked a wet stripe up Aziraphale’s neck, seemingly just because he could. Aziraphale shivered. “Someone’s not the snow-pure heavenly vessel he pretends to be.”
“You’d know all about that, wouldn’t you?” Aziraphale shot back.
“Are you trying to hurt my feelings?” said Crowley, with what sounded like distant amusement. “You can’t. I know what I am.”
“And what am I,” said Aziraphale, before he could stop himself.
“Let’s find out,” said Crowley. Then, with a silky menace Aziraphale had only ever heard him use on wilting succulents, “Are you going to make me tell you to get on the bed again?”
Aziraphale glanced down at the bed, where the soft flannel sheets were rucked up because this morning, he and Crowley had squabbled over the covers. His skin felt hot all over.
“How do you want me,” Aziraphale whispered.
“Hands and knees,” said Crowley approvingly.
Aziraphale obediently crawled onto the mattress, obediently folded himself into position. He bit his lip as Crowley traced the line of his spine with a slow, teasing hand that somehow made him feel even more naked and exposed.
“Shh, shh,” said Crowley, “I’ve got you.” The hand retreated and returned cold with lube, two fingers slipping down past Aziraphale’s tailbone and almost casually up inside of him. “There you go. Needed that, didn’t you?”
Aziraphale had to imagine that if he truly hadn’t wanted this to happen, here was the moment where it would’ve all become vividly real.
“Oh no,” Aziraphale babbled. “Please don’t, I can’t, oh— ”
“Are you going to struggle now?” Crowley breathed, hot in his ear. “You can if you like. Won’t change anything, but it might make you feel better.” He twisted his fingers, slid in another. “Let’s pretend you don’t want this,” he said. “Let’s pretend God is listening.”
“Please,” said Aziraphale. He gasped as Crowley’s fingertips brushed the tight little bundle of nerves that made everything sparkle. “You can’t, they’ll punish us—”
“Oh, they’ll punish you,” said Crowley. “Me, I’ll probably get a plaque. Ruining an angel, imagine.” He pressed mercilessly against that sensitive spot. Aziraphale’s own hands scrabbled on the blankets, body swaying towards the intrusion and then away from it again. “So needy, aren’t you,” Crowley crooned. “You might as well learn how to take it, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Please, no,” Aziraphale was almost sobbing, “I’ll Fall—”
Crowley draped himself all along Aziraphale’s back. At some point, he’d gotten rid of his own clothes, and his cock pressed insistent against Aziraphale’s thigh. When he chuckled, Aziraphale’s whole body vibrated with it, like a struck tuning fork.
“Of course you’ll Fall,” said Crowley. “Look at you. Do you think your precious Heaven will want anything to do with you after this? I bet you never fit in anyway, did you, little hedonist like you.” He slid his fingers out, wiped his hand low on Aziraphale’s belly. Aziraphale bit back a whine at the loss, but Crowley seemed to hear anyway. “Look at you,” said Crowley again, softer. “An utter wreck and we’ve barely started. How many nights have you thought of this?”
“I— ” Aziraphale began, unthinking, then he pressed his lips together.
“No? Still?” said Crowley. “You’re close, aren’t you? Ah well, we’ll get there in the end.” And with that, he lined himself up and pressed inside.
Aziraphale’s vision blurred.
“Oh,” said Aziraphale, not capable of anything more than vowels. “Oh ,” and then with tremendous effort, “I — ”
“You—?” said Crowley.
“Please,” Aziraphale chanted, “Please, please— ”
“Please what,” said Crowley. “Please stop? Please let you go? Please never again darken your door with my foul demonic presence?”
The stretch felt incredible, just the right side of too-much, almost drugging.
“Please more?” Crowley guessed softly, again a mockery of tenderness.
Aziraphale nodded, staring unseeing at the mattress.
“Oh no,” said Crowley, stilling his hips. “Say it in words. Tell me you want this. You might as well. It’s painfully clear you do.”
Aziraphale’s hands were white-knuckled on the bedsheets. “More, harder, please,” he said in a rush. “Please, please fuck me— ”
“My name,” Crowley prompted.
“Crowley,” said Aziraphale wildly, “Crowley, please, I want— ”
“Since you asked so nicely—"
Crowley complied, at some length.
Time went a bit soft at the edges.
“Heaven won’t have you, after this,” Crowley murmured against the sweat-damp nape of Aziraphale’s neck. Another thrust. “And angel, you would not last long in Hell. Sweet little morsel like you—”
Aziraphale made a small, helpless noise.
“You’ll just have to stay with me,” said Crowley. “Since you’ve got nowhere else to go, now.” Aziraphale whimpered, pressing mindlessly back against him. “I know your kind like to fret and moan about fairness, but don’t worry, I’ll make you earn your keep,” Crowley went on. He shifted angles slightly and slid home, making Aziraphale gasp. “Your mouth, your hands, your delectable body, I’ll have them all as often as I like. Who knows, maybe in another century or two, you’ll admit how much you enjoy being my plaything. Because you will, won’t you?”
“God,” wailed Aziraphale.
Another hard thrust, claiming. Crowley’s arms tightened around him. “Oh no, not anymore, love.”
Aziraphale came so hard it almost hurt. His muscles trembled. His ears rang. He couldn’t feel his legs. Crowley bore him gently down to the mattress and rolled to the side.
“Well,” Aziraphale said after a moment. His eyes were wet at the corners. He thumbed at them discreetly. He wasn’t certain what Crowley would make of the crying, wasn’t sure he could explain, just then, how good it had felt to cry.
With some effort, Aziraphale turned over to lie on his back, carefully avoiding the wet spot on the mattress. He didn't have the energy to deal with it at present.
Through the window, the sky was much darker; they had been at this for some time, then. Aziraphale wondered if he had resisted more than was strictly appropriate. Every no had cornered Crowley into being the aggressor for a little while longer, and Crowley had not initially even wanted to do this.
Aziraphale’s eyes mapped out the cracks in the ceiling as he tried to reassure himself that they’d had a safe word, that they’d chosen it together, that Crowley could say nebula just as easily as he could.
He failed. “I didn’t drag that out for too long, did I?”
“You’re fine,” said Crowley. “Were fine, are fine.” He was lying very still.
“I,” Crowley sounded stricken. “I enjoyed that more than I thought I would,” he said, and it had the air of a confession, heavy.
“Well,” said Aziraphale, “chalk it up as one more thing we have in common, then.” He glanced over. “Oh, you haven’t come yet! May I?” Aziraphale reached out a hand, offering. Crowley nodded shakily.
It was then that Aziraphale remembered their earlier discussion, about sweet nothings. “That was lovely,” Aziraphale said, wrapping Crowley’s slick cock in a firm grip. He moved his fist in the slow, lingering way he knew Crowley liked and watched the pleasure bloom on Crowley’s face. “I loved it, I adored it, I’ve wanted that so badly, and you did such a marvelous job, it felt absolutely wonderful, and I can keep on saying so all night if you like.”
“Did it,” Crowley licked his lips, “did it live up to several thousand years’ worth of fantasy?”
Aziraphale inched closer on the bed, tangling their legs together, still working his hand up and down. Crowley’s bare toes trailed across Aziraphale’s calf.
“Oh, it did,” said Aziraphale. And then, because a Crowley on the verge of orgasm was a Crowley at his very most receptive to praise, “Honestly, though, you live up to all the fantasy just sitting next to me on a park bench.” Aziraphale leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek. “I love you, Crowley.”
Later, in retrospect, Aziraphale would admit that this was an odd time to first let drop an I-love-you, but it felt utterly natural in the moment, even as Crowley came all over his hand, laughing.
Afterwards, Crowley miracled away all the mess, like a dear. “Thank you,” said Aziraphale with a delighted smile.
“It’s not that difficult,” said Crowley. “Which you would know, if you ever tried,” he muttered.
Aziraphale shrugged; he didn’t need to, not with Crowley right there. They settled back down on the bed.
“Was that,” said Aziraphale, “too much talk of Falling? Considering, I mean.”
Crowley stretched his arms over his head. “Nah. Given what I’ve seen of Heaven recently, I wouldn’t want to be affiliated anyway.” He paused. “Was it, for you?”
“Do you know,” Aziraphale said slowly, “I found it strangely comforting?”
“Comforting,” said Crowley.
“It’s just, for ages and ages, Falling was the worst thing I could possibly imagine,” said Aziraphale. “And now, well—what you said, about affiliation, but besides that, I suppose it was a reminder that even then, I wouldn’t be alone.”
“I was saying such awful things to you,” said Crowley.
“Mmm,” Aziraphale said, recalling a few of those awful things with a pleasant little twitch. Crowley laughed, although it sounded somewhat reluctant, and Aziraphale went on, “And anyway, all of that was just—embroidery. The point is, you’re here.” Crowley draped an arm over him, warm. Aziraphale’s eyes slipped shut. “Let me know when you want to do the—with the flowerbeds and such,” he added. “Just maybe not roses.”
“All the thorns. ”
“Roses are a bush,” said Crowley.
“Oh,” said Aziraphale. “Definitely not roses, then. I’m not having sex in a bush, Crowley, don’t be absurd.”
“You pretended to be a gardener for multiple years, and you never learned how roses grow?”
“Didn’t come up.” Aziraphale wiggled closer, resting his head on Crowley’s chest. He hated to admit it, but he did miss the other bed, even if the black sheets still felt a bit much. Crowley’s whole decorating sense was a bit much, while also a bit not enough. Picturing Crowley rattling around all that empty space alone sort of hurt.
“We should move in together,” Aziraphale said.
“Please,” said Crowley, sounding more dazed than anything else, “please, in the name of—anything you want to name, tell me that didn’t just pop into your head because of the bit when I threatened to make you my sex slave.”
“No,” said Aziraphale, cheerfully, “it popped into my head because I hate your flat.”
“Well then,” Crowley said, “that’s alright.” He yawned. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.” Then, “Did you really not know about roses? What’d you make of the word rosebush?”
“Never paid much attention,” said Aziraphale. “Not like it was relevant to my life.”
“You were the one in charge of guarding the Garden,” Crowley protested.
“I guarded the Wall,” Aziraphale explained, perhaps a trifle defensive. “Nobody ever quizzed me as to what was inside.” He brightened. “Wait, is that why you want to, in a garden—”
Crowley groaned. “Goodnight, angel.”
“Because if that’s why, it’s really rather sweet—”
“I’m sleeping,” said Crowley gruffly. “I’m asleep.”
“I can’t believe your fantasy goes farther back than mine,” said Aziraphale. “I thought, you know, four thousand years ago, that takes the cake. But the Beginning! They didn’t even have cakes yet.”
“I am deep in REM cycles right now,” said Crowley. “I am dreaming I had the common sense to fall in love with someone who knows what a rosebush is.”
“What a pity for you when you wake up,” Aziraphale said with a grin. He thought for a moment. “Does lavender grow in the ground? I’ve always liked lavender.”
“Lavender,” said Crowley absently, “and—violets, lilies, forget-me-nots.”
“We’re going to smell like potpourri by the end of this,” Aziraphale mused. “Oh well, can’t be helped. But won’t the poor flowers get all trampled and squashed?”
“Not if they know what’s good for them,” Crowley said darkly.
At some point, they needed to have a conversation about Crowley’s terrifying approach to keeping plants, but for now, safe in his arms, Aziraphale relished the slight growl in Crowley’s voice.
“Have I given you enough reassurances that I liked it? Loved it, in fact?”
“Yeah,” said Crowley. “You did. But.” He patted at the small of Aziraphale's back. “Maybe more tomorrow?”
“Of course,” said Aziraphale. “Anything you want.”