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It's Aziraphale's fault. It's Aziraphale's fault, and Crowley will defend that hill until such time as he ceases completely to exist. If Aziraphale ever tries to say that it was Crowley who tempted or corrupted him, in this specific particular case Crowley has a defense prepared.

It all happens because the books are dusty. That's just how they are, always, even the ones that get regularly handled. Aziraphale likes them that way, not just because it tends to put off customers, but also because he likes to pull one out and blow the dust off of it in a dramatic little cloud. He does this with every single book, every single time, and he bounces on his toes with a besotted little grin at the simple joy it gives him. It's adorable, and deeply irritating.1

Crowley can't help but turn to look and watch every time Aziraphale goes through this ridiculous little ritual. It's like watching a bunny flop over to show its belly, or like a train wreck.2 Crowley is following Aziraphale around, getting in the angel's way when he can like a needy pet cat. Aziraphale pays him no particular mind except to occasionally glance up at him and give him a look that if it is attempting to be stern is failing. He's looking around for something in particular; he'd said something about something or other before they'd left the back room but Crowley was only half listening and he can hardly be expected to remember anything when he has thus far endured already two dust cloud shuffles. It's taking quite a while to find whatever book, in part because Aziraphale doesn't remember the title or the author, and in part because the shop is poorly organized. Aziraphale likes it that way, not just because it tends to put off customers, but also because he likes to rediscover his own books like they're new to him and making sure he doesn't know where any of them are is the best way to get that feeling.

"Maybe this one," Aziraphale mutters lowly to himself, squinting at a spine. Crowley leans in a little closer to look at the little wrinkle Aziraphale gets in between his eyebrows when he concentrates hard on something, trying to be subtle when subtlety is really not his strong suit and he knows it. As he moves he runs his fingers along the other books on the shelf, leaving trails in the dust that will be gone by tomorrow (when he's around Aziraphale sometimes Crowley just gets this inexplicable, insatiable need to touch things). Aziraphale pulls out the book and turns from the shelf, coincidentally in Crowley's direction, and blows up the dust nearly right into Crowley's face. Either he doesn't notice or does a truly bang up job at pretending not to, because he only does his little dance and opens the book with the quiet creak of old binding. Crowley blows some dust out of his lashes with a glare at Aziraphale's creased forehead, but he's too- he's too bewitched by that blessed two-step nonsense that he can't muster up enough peevishness to mention it. And then he sneezes.

"G'bless you," Aziraphale says absently, reflexively. All the dust puffs off of Crowley's face and it sparkles in the shitty lighting of the shop as if it were something grander, but more importantly an arc of electricity races down Crowley's back from the base of his skull down to his tailbone. Crowley takes in a sharp breath through his teeth and shivers violently. It's not... It's not all bad. It stings, but it's warm and tingly too. Never has any feeling befit more perfectly the word zing.

"Oh!" Aziraphale yelps, and claps one hand over his mouth. "I didn't mean to-! Heavens, are you alright?"

"Yes, angel," Crowley reassures him. His voice comes out faint and not reassuring at all but Aziraphale only gives him a twisted, guilty look and lets him have his pride. He turns away from Crowley quickly and stuffs the book back into its place, nervously fluttering his hands over the spines of the two on either side. Then he does a perfect about-face and his eyes light up.

"Ah, there it is!" he exclaims, and grabs down a book that is already free of dust, that Crowley is certain that they had already perused today.3

"Come on back, then, dear, and I'll show you-"

"Actually, angel," Crowley interrupts, and his voice is still not quite right. "I've got to go. I've got, you know. Y- I've got- I have to do a... bastardly actions." Brilliantly done. Aziraphale frowns. Crowley knows he hates to be lied to, and he hates to lie to him for all that he's technically supposed to. Truth is, Crowley doesn't even know why he suddenly wants to leave so badly, but fuck if he doesn't feel like there's a fire under him - and he would know exactly what that feels like, wouldn't he.

"Yes, of course," Aziraphale all but whispers. Crowley stands there awkwardly for a moment, feeling guilty, before finally turning tail and fleeing outside and stuffing himself into the Bentley. He caresses the leather seat underneath him, and the steering wheel, the gear shift, he rubs his hands roughly up and down his own thighs in their rough jeans, and still he has that need - that need to touch, touch, touch.

The zing takes hours and hours to fully dissipate from deep inside Crowley's gut, despite the fact that the initial path from teakettle to arse took less than a blink, and the blessing itself hasn't run out yet; never again since has Crowley suffered a sneeze.

Not a real one, anyway.

Over the course of the next twenty-two years, Crowley attempts many times to get Aziraphale to bless him again. Everything short of just asking, of course, because that would be- Well, he doesn't know but he has a gut feeling that he just. Shouldn't. Throughout all that time, Crowley still gets that loathsome urge to touch everything, anything, and be touched by everything, anything, and during these- episodes he is beholden to Aziraphale's side by a gravity that even he couldn't go fast enough to escape, and when Crowley sees him he flashes with heat and a teeny tiny unsatisfying little echo of that zing situates itself back in his gut and nothing can be done about it but to wait it out.

It only takes Crowley less than half of those twenty-two years to figure out that it's lust, for Satan's sake. So the next time Crowley gets all hot and touchy he goes out to a bar and he brings someone home.

"I like your plants," she says, letting her shirt slip over her shoulder. Her skin looks very soft.

"Thanks, doll," he says, and holds the bedroom door open for her. She gives him a heavy-lidded look and runs her nails across him just above his belt as she passes, and Crowley braces himself for a zing. He's a confusing combination of disappointed and relieved when there isn't one.

"Chivalrous," she purrs, pitching her voice low and husky. Crowley accepts the compliment even though it irks him. They undress each other in Crowley's bed, and they have sex, and it's... nice enough, Crowley supposes. But it doesn't quite satisfy Crowley's lust, and it makes him sweat which is not his favorite thing. Overall, as far as earthly pleasures go, it ranks about even with eating.

But then, Crowley thinks, maybe he's just gay. So the next time he gets touchy, he goes to a different bar and he brings someone else home.

"Where'd you get a Da Vinci print that looks that good, dude?" he asks, and he grins back at Crowley in awe, eager for the answer. Crowley thinks his dimples are cute.

"It's not a print," Crowley tells him, which is the truth, and he laughs.

"Fine," he jokes. "Don't tell me." He backs Crowley into the bedroom by the hips, and Crowley lets him do it even though it irks him. They undress each other in Crowley's bed, and they have sex, and it's nice enough, just like last time. It curbs the edge on Crowley's frenetic lustful energy, but it doesn't make it go away, and it does make him perspire. The trade-off is not great.

But then, Crowley thinks, he knows that he gets hot for Aziraphale, so maybe he is exclusively attracted to people like the two of them, people with genders or lacks-thereof that are not quite so... effable. So the next time he gets touchy, Crowley goes to a different bar, though it's not really a bar exactly, and at the door there's a table with lots of colorful badges to choose from, and Crowley pins his to his lapel and finds someone who has the same ones and takes them home.

"What are your pronouns?" this person asks him, hugging him loosely around his skinny shoulders.

"He/him," he answers. "Yours?"

"Fae/faer," fae says. Crowley hums in acknowledgement.

"Those are nice," he tells faer. The words sound ethereal to him - unknowable and pretty. They sound like exactly what he's looking for.

"Thank you, Anthony" fae says, and fae smears cotton candy flavored gloss all over his mouth when fae kisses him, and Crowley licks his lips and ignores the name even though it irks him. They undress each other in Crowley's bed, and they have sex, and it's nice, and afterwards Crowley is slightly damp and quite a bit frustrated with the whole thing.

But then, Crowley thinks, maybe it's not Aziraphale's gender(s) or lack(s)-thereof that Crowley gets hot for, or at least not alone. True, Crowley has been getting touchy around Aziraphale for centuries, and some times the lust makes itself known more vociferously than others, but that time, the time with the sneeze, the time that really started all this, Aziraphale blessed him. Aziraphale hurt him. So the next time Crowley gets touchy, he goes to yet another different bar and he lets someone else take him into a back room.

"Have you ever done this before?" she asks, and her tone is no-nonsense, which Crowley appreciates.

"No," he answers. He doesn't generally lie anyway, but right now in particular it seems honesty is an especially prudent policy. She nods easily.

"Any ideas what you're into?" And obviously Crowley can't just tell her 'Aziraphale'. She doesn't know who that is, what that means. He struggles for a few long moments, trying to come up with some neat, concise way to describe the angel to her, just two or three adjectives that she can translate into which of the tools and furniture in this room they should be using, but he can't. He shrugs helplessly.

"That's okay," she says, and she goes all soft and gives him an encouraging smile. He accepts the comforting even though it irks him. "I'm going to try a few things. I'll describe them before, and if you don't want to try that just say so and I won't be upset. We're workshopping here, it's a team effort. Okay?"

"Sounds great," Crowley tells her, somewhat snappishly. "Can we get on with it then?" She raises her eyebrow.

"Alright," she drawls. "Someone is a brat, then. I know how to work with that." She has him undress himself, and kneel, and she pulls his hair while he performs oral sex, which is quite nice. He likes oral sex because his body still gets about the same amount of satiation from it as the other kinds and his partner has a good time which is gratifying, but also because there's less exertion and therefore less perspiration for him. And the hair pulling. It doesn't quite hurt, she doesn't do it hard enough, but it makes Crowley touchier, which makes the whole situation feel better.

"Good," she says, and Crowley feels mildly proud of himself. She tries scratching him, pinching him, biting him (alright, alright, no - spit feels the same as sweat). She tries slapping him and stepping on him (no and very, very much no). She tries flogging him (aha! yes). It's more of a tingle than the zing that a blessing has (that Aziraphale has, Crowley's uncouth thoughts think), but there is something there that is much better for Crowley than sex. After it's over and Crowley is alone in his own bed again with slightly tender spots on his back where he healed the welts, Crowley decides it was almost enough to do it again. Almost.

Of course sometimes Crowley gets so desperate for some hurting (for Aziraphale, bless it all, but he can have one and not the other, so isn't it better for him not to even acknowledge that one?) that he crawls back to that same bar like a dog begging for a treat from a stranger. Sometimes he sees the same woman, sometimes someone else, and they all try different things and all the agreeable ones make Crowley tingle and none of them zing. It's not their fault. They're all mere mortals; none of them have the juice to hurt Crowley the way an angel (Aziraphale) can.

Crowley's not proud of it, but he keeps trying to get Aziraphale to bless him, even after he realizes why he wants it so bad. All he can think of, really, is to fake a sneeze, but Aziraphale doesn't make that particular mistake twice. Maybe once or twice, Crowley tries to get Aziraphale to bless him by being extra courteous, after witnessing Aziraphale say, 'Oh, bless you, child,' to a young man who held the door for him, but to Crowley Aziraphale says only, 'Thank you, dear,' and 'How sweet of you, darling.' And while those things do make Crowley feel things, make his whole Aziraphale situation even more enduring, they do the very opposite of hurt. The only pain Aziraphale will give Crowley is the figurative kind.

Then, at the exact halfway point between that first fateful sneeze and the end of the twenty-two years hence: the birth of the Antichrist.

And then, eleven years from there, life as usual, but a little bit to the left. A little bit brighter. Life on their side. Crowley and Aziraphale go out to lunch with each other, and breakfast, and dinner, and dessert. Aziraphale does, in fact, stay over at Crowley's one night, and they sleep together in Crowley's bed.

"Did you like it?" Crowley asks Aziraphale in the near-nonexistent light of the London dawn, watching Aziraphale blink his eyes open and do a little stretch. He pretends not to realize the parallel, how all of his sexual partners have asked him, in their own way, the same thing, and instead focuses on the way Aziraphale's fairness seems almost to glow in the sleek, charcoal dim of Crowley's bedroom.

"It was alright, I suppose," Aziraphale murmurs thoughtfully, blearily peering over at Crowley from the other side of the pillow. "I'm afraid I much prefer food." He hums, and reaches over to tuck a piece of hair out of Crowley's face, and Crowley closes his eyes as his breath catches. That- Well, it hurts, yes, but it's a very different kind of hurt, isn't it. Not the kind that's fun.

"I would be happy to watch you, though," Aziraphale adds. "The way you watch me eat." And, oh, that's much worse, but there's no way in Heaven Crowley would say no. So sometimes they lunch and Crowley watches Aziraphale eat, and sometimes they nap and Aziraphale watches Crowley sleep, and Crowley is very very touchy very very often.

They're in the bookshop, Crowley in the armchair and Aziraphale on the couch, sipping on a '45 red and reminiscing about the Britons, when Crowley tries his nose at a fake sneeze for the first time since before Adam's birthday.

"For Heav- For Hel- Oh, for my sake, Crowley, will you stop doing that!" Aziraphale snaps, slamming his wine glass down on the table. The stem cracks, and instantly mends.

"What, sneezing?" Crowley manages, completely shocked by Aziraphale's outburst but determined to make it to his advantage. "Must be your blessing wore off, angel, you'll have to renew it."

"That is exactly what I mean, Crowley!" Aziraphale snarls, and leaps to his feet. His fists are clenched and if Crowley looks at him very closely it seems like he might be trembling. "I'm not gong to bless you! If you're testing me, good Heavens, that was an accident, and I would think after all we've been through you could trust-"

"What? No, of course I'm not testing you, I'm not God," Crowley sneers. He's both insulted at such an accusation and a panicky sort of hurt that Aziraphale thinks he doesn't trust him.

"Well then why-! Oh." And Aziraphale deflates, and goes oddly hesitant. "You- I know you said the holy water wasn't for you..." It takes a moment for Crowley to catch Aziraphale's implication, but when he does he's even more offended.

"Oh for fuck's sake, angel, no!" Crowley pushes his glasses down his nose just enough that he can peer over top of them and glare at Aziraphale harder. "If I was going to kill myself, I'd do it myself. And fuck you, also." Aziraphale shrugs helplessly, lost.

"But you are trying to get me to bless you."

All of Crowley's ire is dried up in an instant. All he's left with is nerves.

"Yes," he admits. Aziraphale watches him for a long moment, and then sniffs and makes a show of turning his nose up.

"Well," he declares. "If you don't stop, I might just do it." Crowley stays very still and, with his glasses still low so his eyes are visible, he holds Aziraphale's gaze unblinking.

"Achoo," he says flatly. Aziraphale hesitates for a moment, but then he goes all flinty.

"God bless you," he enunciates, precise.


It's more somehow this time than the last time, the only other time. Crowley doesn't know if it's just because last time was so long ago the sensation has faded in his memory, or if it's because the words were clearer, or if it's just because this time it was deliberate, and he doesn't want to think about it. Crowley clenches his teeth, grips the arms of the chair so tightly they creak, all to muffle what would certainly be a moan if he let it out freely. If he lets Aziraphale hear that he'll know, and then he'll stop.

"Achoo?" Crowley begs. Aziraphale's eyebrows pinch together and he tilts his head. He's more confused than conflicted now, really.

"God bless you, Crowley," he says, and it's so gentle this time and the angel said his name, and that makes it even more. Crowley's head falls onto the back of the chair with a soft thunk as the pain shoots down his spine, a line of fire that pools in his belly. He holds his breath until it passes and all that's left is the lust, and then lets it out in a ragged sigh.

"I don't understand," Aziraphale says, and he sounds so small Crowley knows he has to come clean. He takes a deep breath and lifts his head.

"I like it," he explains, though that's not much of an explanation. "It hurts and I like it. And I like it best when it's you." And here Crowley's bravery runs out. He closes his eyes and turns his cheek, waiting for Aziraphale to end things between them again, or worse - let him down easy, again. The moments stretch like eons. Like long, lonely eons. The kind of eons Crowley has never lived before, because in all of his eons Crowley has always had Aziraphale.

"Alright," Aziraphale says. Crowley cricks a muscle in his neck jerking so hard and fast to look at him and grimaces. The (uncomfortable, not sexy) pain is gone all but immediately, and it's impossible to say which of them healed it. "But you will tell me if it gets to be too much." It's not a question but Crowley answers anyway, wide eyed.

"Yes," he breathes, despite not knowing if that's really true or not. In this moment he might do anything for Aziraphale, or let Aziraphale do anything to him, without a thought. Aziraphale nods, and straightens his back, and the slight chub Crowley had from those two hurts before goes fully hard in anticipation.

"Good," Aziraphale praises. "That's very kind of you. Bless you." From up down again Crowley is struck like a match. He lets the moan out this time but doesn't otherwise move, so he gets to see it when Aziraphale's eyes widen and his cheeks go rosy pink.

"May the Lord's blessing be upon you," Aziraphale says next, and he's slightly breathless, and he tugs at his collar. Crowley gets rid of his glasses, and his eyelids too for good measure, so that he doesn't miss a single detail of Aziraphale getting flustered over hurting him, even as a fresh fuse burns its way through him. "May you bathe in Her grace, and drink Her truth."

Crowley makes a noise. He makes a very particular noise, a noise which has no name, that is a cross between a moan of ecstasy and a sob. He squeezes the arms of the chair so hard that the seams pop and stuffing comes out, not that he notices. He tries very hard not to let his eyes roll back, but he fails. The pain isn't completely dissipating anymore, like he's filling up with it, and it's scraping along his skin as it gets closer and closer to overflowing. He squirms in the seat. Lord Below, he wants to fuck.

"Oh," Aziraphale says, soft and awed. "Oh, I don't think I've done this one before." Crowley only sits there, panting. He doesn't care what Aziraphale is talking about, he just wants more. That is until Aziraphale steps around the table and reaches out a hand. His eyes are hungry. Lust, Crowley realizes. He's talking about lust. "Can I touch you?"

"Yes, fuck yes, angel, please do," Crowley gasps, and Aziraphale does. He flattens his palm against Crowley's chest, rubs him up and rubs him down, rubs him back up again and cups his throat, using his thumb to tilt Crowley's head back.

"Seems silly to bless you," Aziraphale murmurs. Crowley shivers at the phrase on reflex. Aziraphale looks his fill of every feature on Crowley's face, just as much a hedonist now as he ever has been in front of a full plate or page. "You are a blessing, to me." It's sweet, and then he adds, "Mine. My blessing. I like you all to myself." Crowley shivers again, and Aziraphale, fully red faced now, tightens his grip. Crowley gets an idea.

"Will it show?" he asks, his voice strained by the position Aziraphale has his head in. "To other angels and demons? That you blessed me, will it leave a mark?" Aziraphale only stares at him for a moment, and then all his breath comes out of him in a rush.

"Well," he wheezes. "Just in case it does, I'll just bless every little piece of you that I love. I'll bless every piece of you that I want." Crowley nods to the best of his ability.

"I love your eyes," Aziraphale warns first, and Crowley grows his eyelids back and squeezes them shut, as if that'll help, as if he'd want it to. "God bless your eyes." Zing. Crowley yelps as sparks flash in his vision and shoot through his head. When he blinks them open again they water and spill over. Crowley grips Aziraphale's wrist. His hips jerk. He's so hot.

Aziraphale kneels in front of the armchair, sliding his palm back down Crowley's chest again. He presses them nose-to-nose, stares into Crowley's eyes to watch them roll back again when he starts playing around with a nipple.

"God bless your nipples," he says, and the two of them burn. Crowley shouts, but his chest arches up, into the feeling. Aziraphale moans, and buries his head in the side of Crowley's neck. His hand doesn't stop playing even as he catches his breath, not giving Crowley the chance to do the same.

Crowley loses all semblance of coherency when he feels Aziraphale's tongue. He throws his head back again, desperate to give Aziraphale as much room as he wants, not so much breathing anymore as gasping, and gasping again, and again. He whines, writhing, as Aziraphale licks his way up his throat and to his ear.

"God bless your ears," he whispers, reverently, tenderly, directly into it, and then takes the lobe gently into his warm mouth even as the pain arcs round the shell. When he's done there, he kisses and bites across Crowley's jaw to his mouth.

"God bless your tongue," he says, and kisses him. Crowley whimpers helplessly into his mouth, and keeps whimpering when he draws back and gently brushes away Crowley's tears with his unoccupied thumb. Then he moves that hand down, down to Crowley's thigh, and rubs him up, and rubs him down. He tilts his head curiously, looking over the way Crowley's hard cock is straining his dark jeans with the same raptness that he gazed upon Crowley's face. He gets both hands on Crowley's thighs now, sliding them up with a heady friction that has Crowley spreading out further for him on instinct. He ends up with his thumbs digging just shy of painful in the tender hinge of Crowley's loins. He peers up at Crowley from there, from where he's kneeling at Crowley's feet. He would almost seem to be pious like this, were it not for the bright fiery glint in his eyes.

"Okay?" he asks, and his voice is low and hungry. He sounds like an animal. Like something big and powerful and beautiful that is going eat Crowley up, something that will purr self-satisfied as it licks bits of Crowley out from under its nails.

So of course Crowley nods. He nods vigorously. And Aziraphale grins at him, showing off all of his teeth, and they maybe look to be perhaps a little bit sharper than they were half an hour ago.4

"Crowley..." he murmurs, and Crowley whimpers even before he finishes, before anything hurts, knowing what is coming. His body is as tense as a strung bow, and every move Aziraphale makes, every look he gives and every word he says, pulls the arrow back farther. Aziraphale rubs his thumbs back and forth along the seem of Crowley's thighs, the friction tugging at the front seam of Crowley's trousers and pulling it even more taut against him. Crowley shakes like a leaf. Aziraphale kisses the inside of Crowley's knee, almost absently, as if he had done it a million times before, and then drops his eyes back to Crowley's vulnerable groin. He whispers it like it's a real prayer: "God bless your cock."

Zing! The arrow flies.

The pain is indescribable, not because it's hurts too badly but because it's there, and because it's all mixed up with the other feelings - the physical and the emotional and the spiritual and- It's complicated and Crowley's body decides there's no point in parsing it all when he can focus instead on just feeling it. He doesn't know how he moves or what he sounds like or even where or when he is or what name he's going by, only euphoria and that Aziraphale is there, holding him to earth with warm, heavy hands on his thighs.

Crowley sinks back down into his body gradually, a tiny piece of himself at a time. He notices more of Aziraphale first; the smell of the bookshop around him, and of Aziraphale himself, the taste of the wine still in his mouth, Aziraphale's voice murmuring something soothing and repetitive. Then he feels the air around him, cool and dry with flickering points of warmth from their candles. Crowley's own body filters in to him next; aftershocks of pain and pleasure, his face wet with tears and sweat, his arms and legs shaky and buzzing still, a slowly cooling mess in his pants. Crowley lifts his head on a weak neck and blinks away black spots and tears so that he can see Aziraphale again.

"There you go," Aziraphale is encouraging him. "There's a good demon, perfect. You did so well, my dear, and you look so pretty..." Aziraphale wipes Crowley's face gently with a luxuriously soft handkerchief, and then brushes Crowley's limp hair off of his forehead. Crowley feels a huge, dopey grin stretch over his face. He blinks slow, sleepy and high. Aziraphale smiles back at him, his face aglow with adoration. Crowley basks in it, utterly free of the usual bitter-sweetness or guilt.

"Here." Aziraphale reaches behind him blindly, and one of the wine glasses slides eagerly into his hand and once there the liquid in it bleeds clear. Aziraphale holds the glass for Crowley for the first few sips, the cool water tasting more refreshing than Crowley can remember it.5 The water brings Crowley further into focus. He sits up properly and takes the glass from Aziraphale. He notices with a slight embarrassment (though it's easy enough to brush off) that the arms and seat of the armchair are singed.

"Did you come?" he wonders, unsure of how long he spent floating around in pseudo-nirvana and what might have happened here on earth while he was. Aziraphale shakes his head, flaps a dismissive hand.

"No, no, I'd rather save it for next time," he says. Crowley snorts incredulously.

"It's an orgasm, angel," he laughs. "You don't have a limited supply." Aziraphale blushes brightly, and Crowley is hit again with how smitten he is.

"Yes, I know that!" Aziraphale snips, peeved. "It's just- Well, if you must know, it simply doesn't seem very interesting anymore, now that you've had yours."

"Oh," Crowley says dully, and there's his old friend - guilt.

"Oh, no, Crowley, darling," Aziraphale assures him quickly. "No, I'm plenty satisfied just this way. My dear, you were perfect. You were so beautiful- you are so beautiful. I loved the way you moved, the way you sounded, and you were so sweet for me..." Relief makes Crowley melt into the singed armchair like butter, and his heart leaps with the way Aziraphale keeps praising him. He could almost get touchy again- and the thought of that makes him realize that he isn't touchy right at this moment, or at least not the way he gets that is so frustrating, that lust. He'd love a cuddle, but he's satisfied. For once.

"So," he hedges. He swirls his glass around like it still has wine in it. "A new sin for you, hm, angel? How did you like it?"

"I quite liked it!" Aziraphale answers cheerfully. Crowley blinks. Before Armageddidn't, Aziraphale would usually insist he didn't indulge in sin, at least at first, or on shallow principle. Not so anymore, it seems. It makes sense, though, Crowley figures. 'Sin' can be quite subjective, after all. Maybe now that the Plan has been averted there's no such thing anymore. "It's a little different from the others, isn't it. Feels quite good all on its own."

"If you say so," Crowley says. He takes another sip of his water. With every sip, and every second that goes by, he feels more and more put together. Some things haven't come back at all though. His lust, his longing, that ever-present sense of unsurety. Those are all gone, leaving wide open spaces inside him where fresh air can get through.

"It's not like that for you?" Aziraphale's head tilts in curiosity. The image of him tilting it like that while kneeling in between Crowley's legs flashes in Crowley's mind. Okay, yeah, maybe the touchiness isn't quite as gone as he thought. He clears his throat.

"No, it's- I get." Crowley turns the stem of the wine glass in his fingers, takes a deep breath. It's been so long and he's so used to keeping all of this to himself, but now, after this, surely there's no reason not to go anymore. "I get desperate for you, angel." Aziraphale hums. He plucks up the other wine glass, still full of red, sits back more comfortably on the couch, and crosses his legs. He peers, half coy, over at Crowley from the corner of his eye as he takes a sip.

"Would you like to join me in some vanity next?" he wonders. His voice is low again, sinking slowly into hunting territory. "You're quite the mess after all that, I'd say you deserve some primping." Crowley's breath catches. He's so easy, but he thinks he can be excused after being made to wait for so long. He's not naturally patient, it's been agony.

"Does this place even have a bath?" he asks, ignoring the way he rasps. By Aziraphale's smirk and the way his eyes dance, the angel is doing no such thing.

"I think if we check in the back corner we might miraculously find one," he answers, and when Crowley glances that way he sees a doorway there that wasn't just a moment ago.

"Tempting a demon, Aziraphale?" Crowley says, shaking his head with a helpless smile even as he gets up and starts in the direction of their new bathroom. "Who's side are you on?" Aziraphale smiles too and follows closely behind. He loops his arms around Crowley's waist and kisses the back of his neck.

"My dear," he murmurs into Crowley's warm skin. "I'm on our side."

1: It is irritating almost exclusively due to the fact that it is adorable. Were it not so adorable it might perhaps be merely, eh, kinda cute. Alas, it is in fact adorable, delightful, precious, and therefore also irritating.BACK

2: The train is Crowley. He is a wreck. He cannot be stopped. Oh Satan, please, someone stop him.BACK

3: They had indeed already perused that particular book, and it also was indeed the book that Aziraphale was looking for, which Aziraphale knew perfectly well the first time he'd found it. He had put it back and continued looking anyway because he had been having a great deal of fun being gently tripped up by Crowley and giving him looks that failed to be stern. But that is for Aziraphale to know.BACK

4: This is not entirely all in Crowley's head, though it is entirely impossible to know if Aziraphale sharpened his own teeth via his predatory feelings for Crowley in that moment, or if in fact it was Crowley who sharpened Aziraphale's teeth via the impression - and desire - that Aziraphale prey on him. It is of course irrelevant which one of them did it. What matters is simply that it was done, something the two of them have demonstrated time and time again during their Arrangement.BACK

5: The only other time that water had tasted quite so refreshing, which Crowley does not recall, is after the longest nap Crowley had ever taken. Crowley had tucked himself away in the autumn of 1349 and hadn't roused himself until 1453. He had gone to the brook nearby to bathe and had ended up draining the entire thing.BACK