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Thus Have I Look'd For Thee

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Somewhere in Soho there is a shop that, in theory, sells used and rare books (although its business hours seem to have been designed specifically to frustrate this purpose). Above this shop there is a snug little flat, and within this flat there is a bedroom that has seen more use in the past month than it has in the past century. This bedroom is accessed by a door, and at present this door is enduring the dubious honor of having a demon pinned up against it.

The angel responsible for the pinning has one hand fisted in Crowley’s hair and the other curved against his neck, and he is prepared to kiss Crowley all night, if he has to.

As for the demon, he has wrapped his arms around Aziraphale and is hanging on for dear life, glad for the support of the door and the press of Aziraphale’s body, lest Crowley’s legs (which are only seventy-five percent sure what legs are supposed to do at the best of times) forget themselves entirely and simply cease to function. Crowley, too, is prepared to stay like this all night. He has no desire to recall his original form at this moment.

Although, of course, a legless reptile is not truly his original form.

Aziraphale tugs at Crowley’s hair and replaces the hand at Crowley’s neck with his mouth, licking and sucking his way up from collarbone to jawline, making a detour to worry Crowley’s earlobe between his teeth. Crowley makes a delicious noise and Aziraphale returns to kissing his mouth, sipping at him, the touch of their lips infuriatingly light until Aziraphale works his hand under Crowley’s shirt and Crowley presses his mouth up against Aziraphale’s, desperate and without shame.

And that’s when something shifts.

Crowley pulls back suddenly, his head knocking against the door with a thunk.

“Everything alright, darling?” asks Aziraphale.

“Did you feel that?”

“Feel what?”

“I thought…”

But no, he tells himself. There is no way he would remember what it feels like. Whatever this is, it can’t be that. He has lived too long, fallen too far. He has changed.

“Nothing,” he says. “Forget I said anything.” Aziraphale looks skeptical. “Kiss me, you idiot.”

Aziraphale yanks Crowley’s shirt over his head and gets back to business, running his hands all over that lovely warm skin and following them with his mouth, pressing hot, greedy kisses everywhere he can reach. Aziraphale, being something of a hedonist, knows a great deal about pleasure, and, being something of an angel, a great deal about love, and he can feel both coursing like rivers under his skin, pouring out of him like starlight, and he needs Crowley to bathe in it or bask in it or do something to claim it for himself, because it’s his, all his, Aziraphale is his—

 “Again,” Crowley gasps. “There it was again.”

Aziraphale raises his head from where he’s been gently biting Crowley’s shoulder. “There was what again?”

“You can’t feel it?”

“Feel what?”

“Well, makes sense, you must be used to it—”

“Used to what?”

“Never mind.” He reaches for Aziraphale’s bow tie, but Aziraphale catches his wrists in a pleasantly firm grip.

“Answer my question,” Aziraphale says. “I’m starting to worry.”

They stare at each other for a few moments before Crowley gives in and buries his face in Aziraphale’s neck. Aziraphale lets go of his wrists and Crowley wraps himself around his lover, loses himself in the sensation of Aziraphale rubbing soothing circles against his back.

“I know we’re neither of us terribly good at discussing emotions,” Aziraphale murmurs (witness: six thousand years of pining), “but perhaps if we gave it the old college try?”

“Bed,” Crowley mutters, and there they are, Crowley curled up in Aziraphale’s lap, Aziraphale’s arms tight around him, holding him close. “D’you remember when we saw Doctor Faustus?”

It is an afternoon at the theatre that has seared itself into Aziraphale’s memory. Wouldn’t it be a lark, he’d said, pop ‘round to Bankside and see the new demon play the humans are putting on, they’d had a good chuckle over mystery plays the country over only a few hundred years before, what say you?

Where are you damn’d?

In hell.

“I do,” Aziraphale answers. “I kept forgetting to ask—did you know Marlowe?”

“Crossed paths with him at a public house here and there. Not the one at Deptford, though.”

How comes it, then, that thou art out of hell?

“He was a beautiful man.”

“He was indeed. Did you ever…run into him?”

“Me? No.”

Aziraphale can see it all so clearly, the hazy summer afternoon, Crowley in his dark glasses, the insistent sunshine at odds with the nighttime conjuring scene that played before them.

Why, this is hell, nor am I out of it. Think’st thou that I, that saw the face of God, and tasted the eternal joys of heaven, am not tormented with ten thousand hells, in being deprived of everlasting bliss?

Aziraphale remembers glancing over at Crowley constantly and finding his face impassive, his gaze constant. He hadn’t known if offering to leave early would have made things worse.

“A fair imagining,” is all Crowley had said at the end, before turning down Aziraphale’s invitation for supper.

They hadn’t seen each other again for six years, when Aziraphale had tried to make up for it with Hamlet. Ghosts seemed like neutral ground.

Approximately four centuries later, in the bedroom above the bookshop, Aziraphale feels Crowley take in a deep breath that he does not, strictly speaking, need. “I thought I felt Her.”

Aziraphale pulls Crowley even closer. “Just now?”

“While you had me against the door, yes. But that can’t be right. I know it can’t. ’M a demon. The absence of the Almighty is what makes me what I am.”

“What did it feel like?”

“What does it matter?”

“Just tell me. Please.” Aziraphale’s voice is softer than Crowley expects, and much sadder.

“Like—like a tug behind my ribs—but that’s not right. Or—like when I know you’ve come into the room before I see or hear or smell you. But that can’t be what I felt, angel. That’s not the way it works. You tell me what it feels like, you must feel it all the time.”

“You know how you once asked after my flaming sword and I said the Almighty had never actually mentioned it again?”

“Mmhm.”

“The Almighty has never actually mentioned anything again.”

Crowley sits up enough to look Aziraphale in the face. “No.”

“I haven’t heard Her voice in about six thousand years.” His voice breaks on the last word. “Not even when the world was ending, I fired up the summoning circle and got the press secretary. I lied to Her at the gate of Eden and She hasn’t said a word to me since.”

“Oh, angel. I’m so sorry.” Crowley leans in and presses a quiet kiss to Aziraphale’s mouth, soft and tender. “I never would have known. The way you love with such reckless abandon—”

“You don’t have to pretend, we both know I’m not a very good angel.”

“Bollocks to that,” hisses Crowley, taking Aziraphale’s face in his hands. “You can be an absolute bitch sometimes, but I’ve met your former colleagues and trust me when I say that you are light years beyond them. I’ve seen how you love this world, and all its messy people. I,” he swallows, “I see how you love me. And you do it all despite Her silence. Fuck.”

“Well, you still talk to Her.”

“How do you know that?”

“I seem to remember you yelling ‘Great pustular mangled bollocks to the Great blasted Plan,’ or was that addressed to no one in particular?”

“No, yeah, definitely Her.” Crowley sighs. “Look at us, angel. What a pair we make.”

Ah, love, let us be true to one another.”

“Hm?”

“Matthew Arnold.”

“Don’t know him. Nineteenth century?”

“Yes.”

“That explains it. You sleep with him too?”

“My dear boy, I have explained about Oscar, you had been asleep for decades and I was processing emotions and you know that is not either of our fortes—”

Crowley quiets him with a kiss, and then another, and one more for good measure, and it isn’t fair that he’s been sitting here half-clothed baring what’s left of his soul while Aziraphale hasn’t even undone his bow tie—

 

They are flushed and naked and yearning; and all timidity, all embarrassment at how much they need each other has been banished to the street, where it can slink off into the dark hours of the night to torment someone else. They’ve both had enough hellfire for eternity.

“Sweetheart,” Aziraphale moans, “let me suck you.”

Crowley becomes remarkably pliant when Aziraphale calls him soft names that would never be used in other contexts; the angel is playing dirty and they both know it. “Go on, then,” Crowley breathes, expecting Aziraphale to climb down between his legs, for them to both sprawl out on the bed, but Aziraphale rolls over and off the bed to kneel on the floor, tugging at Crowley’s ankles to make him follow. (He can’t resist pressing kisses to those ankles; to his mind they are irresistible by definition, being both ankles and a part of Crowley.)

“Alright?” Crowley asks, combing his fingers through Aziraphale’s starlight hair.

“I need to kneel for this tonight.”

(Love is a sacrament that should be taken kneeling, but they didn’t need to discuss Oscar again.)

Crowley’s breathing goes rough around the edges as Aziraphale sucks bruises into the soft skin of his thighs. He feels Aziraphale nuzzle into the crease of his hip, smelling him before he tastes him, because his angel has always believed that pleasure should be experienced with as many senses as possible.

Aziraphale slings Crowley’s legs over his shoulders as he runs his mouth along Crowley’s cock, kissing and licking before he sucks in earnest.

The universe comes down to this single point, Crowley thinks as he falls backward onto the bed, there is nothing else that matters except Aziraphale between his legs, warm and soft and everything that is home. Aziraphale, on his knees, worshipping his lover with his body. This is all.

And yet, and yet—as Crowley closes his eyes, he fancies he can see the nebulas he built. As he burns brighter and comes closer to release, he wonders if, were he but only to stretch out his hands, he would be able to grasp something of the heel of heaven—

Crowley.

He comes with a cry and a start; Aziraphale grips him tighter, and pulls away, and swallows.

Crowley sits up so quickly he nearly does see stars (human-shaped bodies have the strangest reactions). “Did you—” he starts, overlapping with Aziraphale’s “You didn’t—”

“You first,” Crowley says.

“My name. Did you?”

“I didn’t.”

“Oh my God. In this case, quite literally.”

“What?”

“The first time in six thousand fucking years,” Aziraphale says, the profanity delicious on his lips, “I hear the voice of the Almighty, it’s while I’m bringing you off for all I’m worth.”

“She said my name.”

“What?” Aziraphale brings his hands to Crowley’s face, thumbs stroking across cheekbones. His eyes are suddenly brimming with guarded, dazzled hope. “Which one?”

“The one I gave myself.” Not the one he’d been created with, not the one flung at him after free falls and sulphur, but his name. “That’s not—it shouldn’t be—”

They both find that they are staring at the ceiling.

Aziraphale stands and climbs back onto the bed; in a moment they are so closely intertwined that neither is quite sure how they’re going to disentangle themselves later.

“I think you were wrong about being a demon,” Aziraphale says.

“Mm, no, definitely Fell, have the permanent record and the emotional trauma to prove it.”

“I’m not arguing that, you daft thing, would you let me finish. You said once that demons are unforgivable.”

“We are unforgiveable, s’what makes a demon.”

“But I’ve forgiven you. I’ve forgiven you loads of times. I’ve even said it to your face. Forgiveness in fact has had very little to do with you at all. I mean, of course it involves you when you’re the one I’m forgiving, but I’m the one doing it, you see.”

“Yes.” Crowley sounds unconvinced.

“Well, if I, who am but a messenger of the Almighty, can forgive you, how much more is it possible that She could do the same?”

“Let’s not get too excited, angel, She only said my name.”

“And how long has it been since you’ve heard Her voice?”

So long. So much longer than six thousand years.

“Why now?”

“Oh, fuck if I know,” Aziraphale says cheerfully. “She’s still Unknowable. But I do have a theory.”

“Of course you do.”

“Would you like to hear it or am I going to have to punish you for your cheek?”

“I don’t want to pick one to the exclusion of the other.”

Aziraphale sighs and kisses the top of Crowley’s head. “The humans have spent a lot of time thinking about where to find God.”

“Seems fair, She makes herself scarce.”

“Well, that’s the thing. What if, some of the humans say, what if the Almighty is in fact everywhere, but because She is everywhere we are very bad at spotting her.”

“’Spose that makes as much sense as anything else.”

“But I think—well—Crowley, you have to know how deeply and desperately I love you.”

Crowley does, in fact, have a strong sense of this now, but it’s a very nice thing to hear after six thousand years, and he says so.

“And I think—” Aziraphale continues, “even if the Almighty truly is everywhere, She’s easiest to feel—where there is love.”

“Do you know,” Crowley says, “when we were driving through Tadfield and you were going on about how loved the whole place felt, there was a moment when I thought, fuck, he’s onto me.”

“What?”

Crowley nods; he can feel laughter rising up. “For literal millennia I thought I was safe, I thought, surely he can’t detect my feelings against the background noise of general love he must sense all the time because he’s an angel, and for one heart stopping moment I thought I was wrong, and then you went on proving me right.”

Aziraphale holds Crowley close as they laugh together, and finally manages, “You know, I don’t think it was because of the background noise so much as that we’re both really thick about this sort of thing.”

“You know what I’m still wondering, though.”

“Mmm?”

“If we’ve heard Her voice—and heard it together—does that mean She…approves? Even when Upstairs definitely doesn’t?”

“Crowley, my dear,” Aziraphale drawls, his tongue clinging to the consonants of his lovers’ name, “has it ever occurred to you that if we can be on our own side, the Almighty might have a side all Her own as well?”

Crowley considers for a moment. “I’ll concede it, but if you start in with that bit about angels and principalities, I will not be responsible for my actions.”

For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life—”

“I did warn you,” Crowley sighs, with the same disappointed resignation he uses with his houseplants.

—nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers—” Aziraphale breaks off with a completely undignified shriek as Crowley’s long, clever fingers dart out to tickle him under the chin. “—nor things present, nor things to come—mmph.” (Crowley has abandoned the tickling approach and now has a hand wrapped around Aziraphale’s cock.) “—nor height, nor…depth, nor any other creature—” He hauls Crowley up and over to sprawl on top of him and begins to trace Crowley’s lips with his fingers. “—shall be able to separate us from the love—

Crowley cuts him off with a kiss.

 

Somewhere Else, but also At All Times And In All Places, the Almighty looks down on Her sometime-angel and sometime-demon, and witnesses their light of their love…

…and smiles.