Crowley doesn’t see a point in living by the sea if he’s not going to give swimming a shot. Never done it before, but he feels like he’s got the concept down. It’s not like he can drown, though he supposes, if he tries, he could get discorporated. No idea how that’d go, or how he’d explain it.
Yeah, I moved into a seaside cottage with an angel, thought I’d go for a dip.
“May as well,” he murmurs, standing with his bare feet in the water. No one’s about, except those kids who trail after him, pretending like they’re not. He shucks off his boots and pants, leaves his glasses on because now isn’t really one of Those Moments. Taking a breath, Crowley wades into the water in black underwear and a long sleeve shirt, certain he’s not doing it right, straight away.
Too late to turn back now, he thinks, and keeps at it. Humans move their arms, yeah? They float, or something. On their bellies. They windmill about, kick their legs.
Crowley makes a mad attempt at all of this at once, and absolutely fails. By the time he’s let go of enough pride to turn around, one of the boys is wading out to meet him, helping him back onto the beach. Glasses still on, he checks, as the kids pick up his things and ask him, voices high pitched and very kind, “You alright, sir? You okay?”
“Awfully cold to go swimming, sir.”
“Did you get caught on something, sir?”
“We should take him up the hill,” says the boy who has always seemed to be their leader. “Get him to his bloke.”
Crowley is shivering. Doesn’t need to shiver, really. He could push all this off. Dry himself, blink himself back, but — he’s kind of in shock. He’s kind of surprised. Why doesn’t he know how to do this? Can he learn? Does he deserve to be fucking discorporated? For being a fucking idiot?
He lets a group of ten year old boys bring him up the hill to the cottage, where Aziraphale is standing in the doorway, like he knew.
“Scuse me, sir. Does this, uh. Does this belong to you?” One of the boys pushes Crowley awkwardly toward the cottage, into Aziraphale’s hands.
“Yes,” he says, adjusting his glasses. “Thank you very much.”
“M’not yours,” Crowley tries, but it doesn’t come out like much of an argument. He listens to Aziraphale bid the boys goodbye. “You dried that one off,” he mutters. “Frivolous little miracle doer.”
“He might freeze to death. You will not. What on earth were you thinking, Crowley?”
“Dunno.” He lets Aziraphale pull him into the kitchen to start tugging off his wet clothes. “Wanted to swim. Are you really going to pull these off one by one?”
Aziraphale raises a brow. “Do you intend to argue with me about it?” His hands are warm on Crowley’s cold, cold skin. One hand lingers at the back of his neck as Azirphale pushes Crowley’s boxers down over the sharp bones of his hips. Crowley stays quiet. They are pressed very close and he can smell Aziraphale’s aftershave, old paper, chocolate.
“Here.” Aziraphale gets a large blanket around him and ushers him into the sitting room. “Fire’s on, have a rest.”
Crowley wants to argue. He’s dry now, he’s not shivering anymore, he doesn’t need to be coddled —
Except he absolutely does. He wants to be taken care of, the two of them have been kind of stepping around one another for a few days, just learning about when they need space, when they need solitude, when they need affection. The second Aziraphale’s bare hands left his skin, Crowley missed him. Now, he’s wrapped in a soft, grey blanket, feeling out for Aziraphale’s presence, listening to him clatter around in the kitchen, heating things up, humming to himself.
Crowley turns back and looks at the fire, allows himself to lose a few minutes to the flames before he hears Aziraphale say, “You couldn’t have waited to go swimming in July?”
“There’s people out in July.”
“Those boys found you.” He hands him a cup of tea.
“They’re always following me around,” Crowley murmurs, and holds the cup close. Aziraphale perches on the foot stool. “Stop looking at me like that.”
“You continuously surprise me,” Aziraphale says, taking a sip from his mug and leaning forward. “I wouldn’t have taken you for a swimmer.”
“I’m not. Obviously.”
“Yes, but you tried to learn. Why’s that?”
Crowley shrugs. “Seemed interesting. Still want to.”
Aziraphale sighs. “Well. I’m sure we can sort it.” He holds his mug in one hand and reaches out to stroke Crowley’s bare knee with the other. “I can swim a bit. Not well. But I could teach you to float, I think. Might work better if we found a pool.”
“I like the sea,” Crowley says idly. He closes his eyes, gets lost in the ministrations of Aziraphale’s fingers. “Kind of spooky.”
“That’s all you, isn’t it?”
“All me, angel.”
Crowley opens his eyes, and Aziraphale is setting his mug on the end table, settling on his knees and parting the edges of the blanket.
“Is this alright?” he asks, and Crowley nods. “Wonderful.” One hand strokes the length of Crowley’s calf, the other reaches for his cock. Crowley feels his body stiffen. He wants this, of course, but they’ve spent a few days avoiding touch, and now he’s...anxious. Not sure why. When Aziraphale looks at him like, looks at him with want, Crowley hesitates. He wants to retreat into snakeskin and play dead.
“Are you sure?” Aziraphale asks, sensing all this, probably. Crowley nods again. “No. You should say it, dear. Say if it’s alright.”
“I didn’t ask if it was fine.”
“I need to hear it, Crowley.”
Crowley lifts his hips, trying to get some friction. “I want it,” he says. “I want you.”
Aziraphale smiles. “See? Not so hard.”
Says you, Crowley thinks, just as the tip of his cock disappears between Aziraphale’s lips. His hips jerk up, but Aziraphale keeps a hand on Crowley’s knee, steadies them both. Crowley reaches out and slides a hand through Aziraphale’s hair, meeting his gaze before letting his head fall back with a groan. He does want to feel this. He wants Aziraphale, he wants to just let go.
He wants to swim.
Crowley closes his eyes and imagines floating, as Aziraphale takes him deep before wrapping a hand around the base of his cock. He imagines diving under waves and shutting his lungs off for an hour. Crowley has always been a creature of subtle wants, but this is the first time the objects of his desire are so close.
Aziraphale he can reach out and touch, tug on pale curls.
The sea is just outside, throwing itself against the cliffs, whispering his name.
“Fuck—” Crowley lifts his hips and comes with a cry, quicker than he has in the past. Something he must have needed, he thinks.
Aziraphale pulls off with a smile and dabs at the corner of his mouth which should not send Crowley reeling, but absolutely does. He surges forward and kisses him, the blanket falling from his shoulders. He holds Aziraphale’s face in his hands and swallows him up. Thinks about being underwater and being cold and being hot and it doesn’t take a lot to convince Aziraphale to start undoing the buttons of his shirt as they tumble back onto the rug in front of the fire.
“This is a terrible place—”
“You should talk less and fuck me,” Crowley mutters, and Aziraphale huffs against his ear.
“Of course,” he murmurs. “Of course.” When he’s stripped down, Aziraphale moves Crowley onto his back and kisses his neck, hands wandering pointedly down his sides. “You’re not going to do that again, are you?”
Crowley allows a shudder to travel down his entire body. Aziraphale nips at his side. “Hey.”
“I asked you a question.” Aziraphale looks up at him expectantly.
Crowley groans. “You know I can’t promise I won’t.”
Aziraphale sighs. “Don’t know why I expected anything different,” he says, and presses miracle slick fingers between Crowley’s cheeks and starts to stretch him, slow and lazy. Crowley writhes with want, gasping Aziraphale’s name into the pale orange glow of the room. It goes on for ages, it feels like, until Aziraphale moves up, pushes Crowley’s leg back just so, and teases him with the tip of his cock. “Like this?”
“You know like that, don’t be obnoxious — ah —” Crowley’s breath catches as Aziraphale presses into him, careful at first, like always, before he starts to pick up the pace. Crowley gets a leg around Aziraphale’s waist, anchoring them together.
If he closes his eyes, and pushes out everything but the feel of this — he can imagine they are on the seafloor, and the water is warm, and Aziraphale is cool and slick against him. What he wants is to defy pressure, to not drown.
But he is always drowning, where the angel is concerned.
Aziraphale’s pace picks up and now he’s lost to it, every roll of his hips sending the both of them higher and higher. Crowley put a bracing hand on the back of Aziraphale’s neck and brings their foreheads together. “Like this?” he asks, trying to tease, but it only comes out desperate, needy. Aziraphale nods and slows his thrusts, but they are both so far gone and Crowley is going to come again, that isn’t hard — what’s hard is the stopping. They could go like this for an hour or longer, but when it’s This Way, when they are full of each other, they just have to finish. They have to make it end.
In bed, Crowley closes his eyes and fishes for Aziraphale’s hand between the sheets.
“Maybe you could take some lessons,” Aziraphale suggests.
“I know it’d make me feel better.” He presses himself against Crowley’s back and kisses his shoulder. “As I said before I can float, but other than that…” Aziraphale shifts beside him. “I tried learning to swim, once. It was a very long time ago. Don’t think I could remember much now.”
Crowley looks at him. “I don’t want anyone else to teach me. You should teach me.”
“Tomorrow,” he says. “You’ll show me tomorrow.”
Aziraphale doesn’t particularly want to show Crowley how to swim. He distracts him in the morning, sucking him off in the kitchen while they make some half-hearted attempt at breakfast. Then it’s we really should go into town for lunch, there’s a fish and chips special at that adorable place on the pier. By the late afternoon they’ve wasted the day away either screwing, eating, or, in Crowley’s case, tossing stones at seagulls.
They’ve not made it even close to the beach.
By dinner time, Crowley’s on pins and needles, and he rounds on Aziraphale in the bedroom, pressing him up against the wall beside the bathroom and hissing, “You’re doing this on purpose.”
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.” Aziraphale wiggles out of Crowley’s grasp before finding a book and settling on his side. “We had a very nice day—”
“You said you’d—”
“Oh, for—” Aziraphale snaps his book shut. “Crowley. What on earth is this really about? Why are you absolutely insisting we...we go swimming. It’s pedestrian, it’s human. I love them, you know I do, but it’s not exactly a skill that we typically partake in. Do you fear drowning?”
“Then there’s no point to—”
“Joy,” Crowley says, quietly, and leans against the wall.
Aziraphale narrows his eyes. “...What do you mean?”
It’s very simple, he wants to say. It’s so easy. It’s like gardening, right? It’s like the rosebush outside, or the apple tree in the back corner, or the herbs growing on the window sill in the kitchen. That’s joy. That’s what Crowley does. And certainly, he can be dissuaded for berating his flora as loudly as he’s used to, but you couldn’t pry earth or spade from his discorporated hands.
“Don’t you...don’t want more of it?” Crowley asks.
“Do I want...more joy?”
Aziraphale sighs. “Well, I...I suppose I do. But I’m really rather joyful right now, my love. I’m quite bursting with it, really. Are you not?”
“Do I look like I burst with joy?”
“Well you could. No reason to get snappy about it. I’m only saying—”
“I love you,” Crowley says, and goes to sit on the edge of the bed. “Dumb, stupid angel.”
Aziraphale reaches for him, tugs off his sunglasses and sets them on the bedside table. “I know you do. But if you weren’t happy, you could have said—”
“I’m happy,” Crowley insists. “I am. I just think that feeling happy and...and feeling joy are two very different things.”
“We could look them up?”
“Nah.” Crowley falls back against the bed. Aziraphale reaches for his hand and strokes it. “Just thought swimming would...release something. Do something. Flip some kinda...kinda switch. You can just sit at the bottom, angel. Sit there and look up. Wouldn’t that be something?”
“I suppose it would.”
Crowley huffs. “Pipe dream, that. Big waste of time.’
Aziraphale presses a kiss to his knuckles. “Well. I don’t know about that,” he says quietly. “Will you come to bed, now?”
“Are you going to debauch me?” Crowley asks, grinning and sitting up on his elbows.
“Thoroughly,” Aziraphale says, before going back to his book.
“This is frigid,” Aziraphale says. “You’re insane.”
“Been said before, doesn’t do much. Come on, show me how to float.”
“It’s much too choppy.”
“Angel.” Crowley nudges him with his elbow.
Aziraphale rolls his eyes. “Yes, alright,” he says. “Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous,” he mutters, before they wade out a bit further. “You know, you could just miracle—”
“And you can do magic. Can we move on?”
“...Fine.” Aziraphale positions himself at Crowley’s side. “I want you to bend your knees, very slowly. I’m going to step behind you and help you from there.” Crowley nods and does as he’s told, flinching when ice cold water splashes into his mouth. “Easy,” Aziraphale murmurs, putting a steady hand on his shoulder.
Crowley nods and breathes, sinking down so the water is hitting his chest. He feels Aziraphale move behind him, putting a careful hand on the back of his head. The other touches his chin, helping him tilt his head back. Crowley closes his eyes.
“I’m going to touch your back,” Aziraphale says quietly. Around them, waves still lap at the shore and against the cliffside, thundering out into the day. But right now, it’s just them. Just the two of them in their own little world, Crowley letting himself be maneuvered into a better position, until Aziraphale can put a steady hand on the small of his back, and help him lift his legs in the water.
“You need to just relax, just stay very calm.”
“Good. It will feel strange, at first, but you’ll get it.”
Crowley huffs a laugh. Bit like their first time together, in the flat above the bookshop, Aziraphale leading him through the motions of things he had dreamed about for centuries, touching carefully, acknowledging want and need, making sure Crowley felt things.
Now — it’s a cautious comfort here. The water is cold, but he doesn’t feel that anymore. The water pricks at his skin, threatens to do things to it that it might do under much more normal circumstances, to much more normal creatures. Crowley doesn’t think about any of that. He thinks about the feel of Aziraphale’s hands on his body, the way they lift him. He’s not really sure if he’s floating, honestly. He doesn’t know if demons can float. There are lots of other things he can’t do, lots of things he’s never tried.
He’d like to, he realizes. Never wanted to do much trying, before the world nearly ended. Before he and the angel moved out here.
“Look at you,” Aziraphale says, breathless. “Beautiful.”
“Doin’ it, am I?”
Crowley sighs. He’s got water in his ears, and when he bobs up the wind catches his cold skin and chills it even more. He opens his eyes and the sky is grey overhead, thoughts of a storm lingering on the horizon.
“You’re the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever known,” Aziraphale murmurs. Crowley opens his eyes, sees Aziraphale’s grin — he grins back.
“You love me,” he says, closing his eyes again.
“Well of course I do.”
“Yeah, but you love me. You want to kiss me right here in the middle of the bleeding sea, don’t you?”
“Ugh, I did,” Aziraphale mutters, before giving Crowley a shove under the water.
They stumble that evening from the sea, to the house, to the bedroom. Crowley pushes Aziraphale on the bed before straddling his waist, both of them bare with a flick of his wrist. He stretches himself, while Aziraphale rolls his shoulders, watches him with a smug grin.
Crowley doesn’t care. He sinks down onto Aziraphale’s cock and rides him. Where his angel is always slow to start, Crowley never is. He sets a brutal pace right from the start, until his orgasm is practically punched out of him, just before Aziraphale comes with a soft moan, hands clenching Crowley’s thighs as they both come down.
“Very good,” he murmurs, as Crowley goes a bit boneless beside him. “I will admit,” he adds, “it was nice to have the whole sea to ourselves.”
“Could be like that all the time, if you’d let me—”
“For the fifth time, no. You may not move the lighthouse.”
“Oh, come off it, you know I wouldn’t.”
Aziraphale raises a brow before sinking further under the sheets. “Did you enjoy yourself today, at least?”
Crowley sighs, tucks an arm behind his head. His other hand finds Aziraphale’s, and clutches at it in the dark. “Thank you,” he says. “For doing that with me.”
“I will do whatever you want, my ear. Within reason.”
“Always a catch with you, angel.”
“You know there always will be,” Aziraphale says, and kisses his temple.
Crowley closes his eyes. Good ones, he thinks. Very good catches indeed.
Eventually, he will go back. He will walk to the bottom as far as he can and sit. He’ll sit and stare up and he won’t drown. It’ll be a nice change of pace, to sink and to fall and not hate himself for it. To rest along the bottom of something and be at peace.
Aziraphale lifts him up. Always. All the time.
It’s Crowley who tears himself down, and he’s working at that. He’s trying not to.
He lets the chill of the sea linger on his skin for a while longer.
It isn’t going anywhere. And neither is he.