Crowley wasn’t certain what he’d expected, Afterwards. After the days did not in fact end; after he and Aziraphale had saved one another’s respective arses.
After Aziraphale finally admitted that they were on their side. And he had admitted it, hadn’t he? It had taken him until the very last possible minute, but he’d done it. He’d accepted that what Heaven wanted and what he wanted were different. He’d chosen the Earth, and humanity.
He’d chosen Crowley.
It had certainly felt that way, at the Ritz, as they drank to the world. Slouched in that light, airy space, listening to Aziraphale at his most charming, Crowley had felt full of light himself, inasmuch as a demon could. Relief washed through him with every sip of champagne. He’d allowed himself to entertain ideas, about what might happen after lunch, perhaps back at the bookshop, checking out what sort of a job Adam had done on Aziraphale’s wine racks. Ideas about Aziraphale leaning into him, about a hand on a knee or a touch to the shoulder. He’d thought of Aziraphale running a thumb over his cheekbone, and he’d shivered, and not let himself think any further.
And then…Well. They’d gone back to the bookshop, right enough. They’d drunk some of the wine. They’d talked on into the evening, sat across from one another, Crowley draped over the sofa and Aziraphale tucked into that chair of his, beaming fondly at him. It had been lovely. It had been entirely platonic.
Crowley, returning to his own flat, had told himself, firmly, that he wasn’t disappointed. The bit with the bodies was a human nonsense, even if it was a lot of fun in the right circumstances. As a rule Aziraphale was enthusiastic about bodily pleasures, but if this one wasn’t for him, that was fine. They were on their own side now. Crowley didn’t care what that looked like, as long as they were in it together.
Except, over the next weeks, Crowley began to wonder if they really were.
Three days in a row, he went round to the bookshop to laze on a sofa which he was fairly sure didn’t used to be there, but which was now in just the right place to catch the afternoon sun coming through the windows. Three days of Aziraphale greeting him enthusiastically, and providing coffee, and encouraging Crowley to read the odd book, but smiling fondly at him when he just put them on the end-table next to the sofa and went back to dozing. It was all very slothful, which was good, sin-wise, and extremely pleasant.
On day four, the sofa was still there, but Aziraphale was tight-lipped and frowning. There was no coffee, and no reading suggestions.
“I don’t know, Crowley. I don’t want you to scare away the customers, lying there all afternoon,” Aziraphale said, which was such a blatant, outrageous, lie—as if Aziraphale didn’t go to great lengths himself to scare away customers—that it left Crowley gaping, silent, and completely unable to challenge Aziraphale directly. Because he knew that Crowley knew he was lying, and that must mean he wanted—
“Fine,” Crowley said, tightly, and left.
He went back to his flat to shout at the plants, sulk in front of the TV, and pretend that he didn’t feel like he’d been stabbed with a dull knife just under the breastbone.
Two days later, Aziraphale phoned and asked him out to lunch.
Crowley went, of course. He’d have liked to believe that he had the backbone to decline, but it just wasn’t true. He went, and Aziraphale was back to his friendly, charming self, just as if nothing had happened. Almost more so than normal, as if he were trying to make it up to Crowley, a slight nervous tension that Crowley could nearly taste.
He slid away from asking awkward questions. Better not to push Aziraphale too far. Better just to back off a bit, go round the bookshop slightly less often.
He had things to do, anyway. Neither of them were quite sure of the extent to which they were still, in theory, on the clock, but Aziraphale liked being nice, and Crowley liked being a shit. He was quite happy to occupy himself spreading a bit of low-level misery, in between being slothful in the bookshop or sulking at home. He gave intermittent malfunctions to ticket barriers on the Tube at rush hour, basking in the waves of commuter irritation that resulted; encouraged tourists to stop randomly in the middle of the street or at the top of an escalator; broke a signal two miles north of Kings Cross at 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. It was all very satisfying.
A week or two later, Aziraphale handed him a mug of coffee, then lingered, leaning over Crowley’s shoulder. He breathed on Crowley’s neck, saying something inconsequential about...Crowley had no idea. He was too busy trying to work out what was going on whilst fighting down what might well be a totally inappropriate surge of lust. Aziraphale stayed there for a long moment, then very abruptly backed off, looked away, and kept a good couple of yards between them for the rest of the day.
Maybe, Crowley reasoned, that one was his fault. Maybe that was Aziraphale’s version of a neon sign. Maybe he couldn’t quite bring himself to make a move, so he was trying to get Crowley to do it, and Crowley had missed his cue.
So Crowley tried moving back into Aziraphale’s space, to see if that worked.
It did not.
Aziraphale visibly and immediately backed away. Either Crowley had missed the moment for once and for all—but they’d known one another for six sodding millennia, that couldn’t possibly be the one and only time Aziraphale was interested—or Aziraphale hadn’t been indicating anything at all, and Crowley was just desperate and misreading.
Fine, except Aziraphale did it again the following week. He put his hand gently on Crowley’s arm, to emphasise what he was saying about the book he was waving around, and he leant in, just a little, his eyes on Crowley’s face. This time Crowley got his brain back in order faster than before. He turned towards Aziraphale, and brought his hand, very slowly, up towards Aziraphale’s cheek, desire and hope curling in his stomach…
…and Aziraphale jumped backwards two feet, went bright red and tried to change the conversation in three directions at once. Crowley smiled tightly at him and pretended that his body wasn’t prickling all over and yearning towards Aziraphale’s. It was just human...chemicals, and things. It didn’t matter.
Very shortly thereafter, Aziraphale said something about work, and shutting the shop up for the rest of the day, and did everything short of chasing Crowley out with a broom to get him to leave.
Later that day, he’d left a curt message on Crowley’s answerphone to say he’d be out of town for the next fortnight.
The fortnight ended, and Aziraphale rang him saying he had theatre tickets and was Crowley by any chance free. It was a decent play, funny in places, and they went to a late-night gelato shop afterwards, and everything was fine again.
It was then that Crowley found himself asking: what did he expect?
He should say something. He should open his damn mouth and ask. But the bare idea of it made him want to coil into himself and hide, because of what Aziraphale might say: that Crowley was imagining all of it, that he didn’t like Crowley that way, that he didn’t like Crowley any way at all (I don’t even like you, and yes that was a lie and Crowley knew it at the time, but), that…
That Crowley is a demon, and he should know his place. Which is not with Aziraphale.
It’s a while before it dawns on Crowley that he’s beginning to feel angry.
He’s been patient. For six millennia. Okay, he hasn’t actually been in…he hasn’t felt whatever he feels about Aziraphale for all that time. There was a while where it was interest, and there was a while where it was lust, and yeah, okay, the lust hasn’t exactly gone away, but for a long time now it’s been only part of a whole clanging set of feelings that he couldn’t admit to having.
Crowley had said “our side”. Aziraphale, he now realises, hasn’t. Not ever. Not in so many words. They’ve faced down their respective bosses, with their own faces and with one another’s, and Crowley had assumed...For him, that meant “our side”. Maybe, for Aziraphale, it didn’t.
It hurts a lot more than it ever did Before.
What tips things over the edge is Aziraphale standing him up.
It’s not quite that bad. Crowley isn’t actually left sitting at a table on his own. But he’s on his way to the restaurant, a dinner arrangement made a couple of days ago.
Aziraphale phones his mobile while he’s making his way down Piccadilly. Even Crowley can’t manage to do ninety down Piccadilly in rush hour, though he’s certainly moving faster than anyone else in the vicinity. A bike courier nearly clips his wing mirror and Crowley scowls and gives her a slow puncture.
The phone rings.
“Angel. What can I do for you that can’t wait twenty minutes?”
“Ah. Crowley. So sorry, but. I’m afraid. I can’t make it. Um, after all.”
“You can’t make it?” Crowley must be mishearing. Aziraphale doesn’t cancel. Not his style at all. Quite apart from anything else, he’s been enthusing about this place for ages. “But we’ve got a table booked. In twenty minutes.”
“Yes. I. I’ll telephone them. Tell them there’s been a problem.”
“I’m on my way already,” Crowley says, still sure he must be misunderstanding.
There’s silence on the other end of the line. “I’m sorry,” Aziraphale says again.
“Got, uh, stuck,” Aziraphale says, suddenly speaking very fast. “Out of town. Can’t…I’m terribly sorry. I’m sure we’ll get a chance to catch up soon.”
And he puts the phone down. Aziraphale, master of old-fashioned manners, puts the phone down without so much as a ‘cheerio’.
Crowley feels a very unpleasant pang in his chest; then, almost immediately, fury overrides his bemusement.
It’s not so much the cancelling at the last minute. It’s that Aziraphale is lying to him, again. He’s not ‘out of town’. He phoned from the shop. Caller display, scourge of incompetent liars. (That was one of Crowley’s, now he comes to think of it.)
With a lurch that briefly undermines the rage, he wonders whether Aziraphale could be in some sort of trouble. Gabriel come down to lecture him, something like that. But no—Aziraphale used his name, and he’d never do that in front of someone from Upstairs.
The anger that’s been bubbling away over the last months comes to a hard boil. Crowley burns up a miracle in getting clear tarmac to Piccadilly Circus, before flooring it towards Soho.
He is going to have this out with Aziraphale, once and for all.
He slams into the bookshop, despite the fact that it’s closed and the door is locked. Crowley doesn’t give a stuff about locks.
There’s a light on in the back room. Right. Well then.
He stalks to the doorway and lounges aggressively on the doorframe. Aziraphale, sat at his desk, his shoulders miserably slumped, looks up and stiffens in—horror?
“Out of town,” Crowley says. “Are you, now.”
Aziraphale’s face twitches, then he looks away. “I’m sorry, Crowley,” he says to a corner of his desk.
“I’m sorry, Crowley,” Crowley mimics him. “Yeah, well, that and three quid will buy you a fucking icecream. What the fuck, angel?”
“Really, Crowley, I do think you’re overreacting a little,” Aziraphale says, primly, and Crowley’s rage kicks up a notch.
“What. In the Name. Is going on with you?” His voice is louder than he intended. “One minute you’re leaning on my shoulder and making me coffee. The next you’re telling me I’m scaring the customers, like you don’t set this place up to chase the bastards away. One minute you’re sucking cake off your fork like something out of a porn film and staring me in the eye, the next you’re buttoned to the neck across the other side of the room. And now you’re standing me up.”
“I called to cancel!” Aziraphale protested.
“Twenty minutes beforehand does not count. Especially not when you’re lying.”
“That’s right. Lying’s supposed to be your job, isn’t it.” Aziraphale’s starting to sound angry and resentful himself, now. Which is good. That’s good. Let’s spread it around a bit, Crowley thinks viciously.
“I don’t lie to you,” Crowley hisses. “But this isn’t even the first time you’ve lied to me, is it?”
Aziraphale stands up, the chair sliding backwards across the floor. His fists are clenched.
“I don’t have to explain myself to you!”
“Just tell me what you want!” Crowley shouts at him. “Do you want me around or not?”
They’re nearly toe to toe now, nose to nose. Crowley’s hands itch with the desire to grab Aziraphale, though right now he doesn’t know what he wants to do with him, whether he wants to shake him or to push him against a wall or to kiss him and keep kissing him until he admits that he wants Crowley, wants anything Crowley wants to do to him.
Aziraphale glares. “It’s not like you’ve been all that quick to talk to me, is it? You just hang around, waiting for me to, to solve this...Why is it down to me? What do you want?”
“I want you!” Crowley shouts back. “I’ve wanted you for a long fucking time, angel, and don’t try to pretend you don’t know that. I want you, and I want you to make up your fucking mind. I am done with hanging around waiting for you to decide.”
“I have decided!” Aziraphale says, and Crowley experiences a flare of glorious hope, immediately countered by a flare of terror. Decided what? “But you’re a demon, Crowley. You’re still a demon, and I’m still an angel, and I don’t know whether we can even...I don’t know what we can do.”
It cuts way deeper than Crowley would ever have anticipated. “We can do what we fucking want,” he says, through his teeth; and then he does grab Aziraphale, by the lapels of his stupid coat, and he yanks Aziraphale towards him and kisses him.
Crowley has thought about kissing Aziraphale a lot, over the years. He never thought about doing it this way, furious and hurting and desperate. For a split second, he’s halfway to regretting it—before Aziraphale is kissing him back, just as furious, teeth scraping at Crowley’s bottom lip as Crowley, off-balance, takes half a step backwards.
Aziraphale’s arms go around him and his fingers go up into Crowley’s hair, nails scraping at his scalp. He grabs Crowley’s hair and yanks, hard enough that Crowley almost yelps into Aziraphale’s mouth. Aziraphale doesn’t seem to care, which is fine, because Crowley doesn’t care either. Or he does, he cares a lot, and his stupid human body cares even more. His stupid human body is on fire, and his demonic soul isn’t far behind.
If Aziraphale wants to play that way, Crowley is absolutely going to give as good as he gets.
He sets his weight backwards for a moment and then pushes forwards, hard, catching Aziraphale unawares and slamming him up against the bookshelf a couple of feet behind him. He gets his leg in between Aziraphale’s while he’s doing it, and feels Aziraphale’s cock, hard against his hip. Lust roars up inside him.
He pulls back for a moment and grins at Aziraphale, feral, before twisting his hip to rub up against Aziraphale’s cock. Aziraphale makes a choking, needy sound, and Crowley can’t help but kiss him again, biting sharply on his lower lip as he pushes his hip harder in between Aziraphale’s legs to get more of that noise.
Aziraphale’s head falls back, then he kisses Crowley again, forcefully enough that he bumps Crowley’s sunglasses. He makes an irritated noise and yanks them off. Crowley isn’t wholly sure about that, but he doesn’t really have time to think about it before Aziraphale’s mouth is back on his, and his hands are up under Crowley’s shirt, scraping bright lines down his back. It hurts. Crowley groans into Aziraphale’s mouth and presses himself closer, cock achingly hard, desperate for touch.
It’s hard to think straight past the roaring in his ears, the deep burning desire to show Aziraphale exactly what they can do, what Crowley can do to him. Six millennia of emotions, and then the last months of backwards-and-forwards, of Aziraphale doubting and dithering and pushing Crowley away only to pull him back again…it’s all building into the pure and searing desire to fuck Aziraphale until he screams, until he understands, until Aziraphale makes a fucking decision to be his.
Aziraphale is panting into his mouth, his hips jerking against Crowley’s. They’re in this, whatever this is, together, Crowley knows they are, but…
“Angel,” he says hoarsely, pulling back for a moment.
Aziraphale meets his eyes, and Crowley can see his own rage and lust and…other emotions that he doesn’t dare identify, all reflected in Aziraphale’s blue-green eyes blazing back at him. “Do you think I couldn’t stop you, Crowley? If I wanted to?”
His hands are on Crowley’s hips, thumbs digging in hard, and for a tiny fraction of a second, his power blazes through them and into Crowley. It lights up Crowley straight through, every cell of his mortal body at once, and he hears his own shout echo in his ears before Aziraphale cuts it off again. When the spots clear from his eyes, Aziraphale’s still staring at him, defiant.
It was agonising. It was ecstatic. Crowley wants to feel it again.
But what he wants more, right now, is to show Aziraphale just who he is fucking dealing with.
Crowley grabs Aziraphale’s wrists and lets his fingers burn as he slams them backwards and pins them tight against the bookshelf, then tamps his power back down.
“Aah!” Aziraphale’s head goes back and his eyes close. His hips buck into Crowley’s, and Crowley grins fiercely and bites hard at his neck, just above his collar. Aziraphale whimpers, and pulls against Crowley’s grip, but Crowley’s got him now, and he has absolutely no intention of letting go.
Their trousers are definitely in the way. Crowley miracles both pairs away with their underwear. He could get rid of the rest of their clothes too, but he doesn’t want to. He wants Aziraphale in his shirt and waistcoat and coat; wants to fuck him while he’s still halfway buttoned up in his clean white armour.
Their hips are still together, their cocks still touching, hot skin now against hot skin.
“I am going to fuck you,” Crowley says, savagely, “until you never even think of leaving me,” and hearing his own voice he knows that is far, far too revealing, but it’s too late now.
“Oh, fuck, yes,” Aziraphale gasps.
His hips roll against Crowley’s, and their cocks rub together. Aziraphale is trying to pull his wrists away from the bookshelf again. Crowley flares heat through his hands and Aziraphale makes a high, desperate noise, and goes up onto his toes, hooking one leg up and around Crowley’s thigh. “Please.”
The angle’s all wrong, but Crowley isn’t about to let that stop him. This is, after all, the sort of thing that demonic power is supposed to be good for.
He grits his teeth and lifts Aziraphale up. Aziraphale’s eyes widen, and he leans into Crowley, kissing him hard and messy. Then he wraps both legs around his waist, which in and of itself nearly does for Crowley, and together they move until Crowley can drive straight into Aziraphale, as hard as he can. Demonic powers or not, this still wouldn’t be possible with a human—you’d need preparation, all sorts of tedious stuff—but he’s not human, and neither is Aziraphale, and both of their bodies will do what they are damn well told. Right now, what Crowley wants his body to do is to fuck Aziraphale, hard and deep and punishing; and what Aziraphale wants—
“Crowley. Yes. Like that.”
Aziraphale’s body is hot, and the feel of Aziraphale wrapped around him with Crowley still pinning his hands is more intoxicating than anything they’ve ever drunk together. Aziraphale arches his back, and Crowley lurches, and knocks half a dozen books onto the floor. Aziraphale doesn’t even blink. Crowley grins savagely, lust and desire redoubling as he moves faster, driving in harder as Aziraphale bucks against him. He’s doing this to Aziraphale, and the thought is inspiring.
Crowley has no idea how long it lasts. It feels like forever that their bodies are locked together, Crowley lost in the heat and slide and drag of Aziraphale’s body, tilting his hips to wring desperate cries from Aziraphale; and it also feels like no time at all before Aziraphale is coming, head thrown back, Crowley’s teeth in his neck. Crowley thinks that’s when he comes, too, but he doesn’t really care. Being like this, with Aziraphale, in Aziraphale, is the transcendent part; the release of orgasm, even though he feels it through to his toes, is almost incidental.
Afterwards, Crowley slides out of Aziraphale’s body and lets him back down onto the floor. They stay there for a while, Aziraphale’s forehead resting against Crowley’s shoulder as he takes deep shuddering breaths, one of his legs still wrapped round Crowley’s calf. Crowley lets his hands go, and Aziraphale immediately clutches at Crowley, fingers digging into his upper arms. Crowley really is going to have to move. Any moment now.
Aziraphale stirs, and lifts his head, trying to meet Crowley’s eyes. Crowley’s not particularly keen to do that right at this moment.
“Um,” Aziraphale says. “We should probably…have…a conversation?”
Fine, fine, this is fine. The whole reason Crowley came over was to have a conversation.
That’s a lie. The whole reason Crowley came over was to shout at Aziraphale. Which he has done, and a lot more besides.
He untangles himself from Aziraphale, or possibly vice versa, and miracles their trousers back again, suddenly experiencing a deep need to be fully clothed. Aziraphale is patting himself down, smoothing everything back out again. Crowley refuses to do that. He puts his hands in his pockets. He very badly wants to run away, except that then they’d just have to do this all over again at some point. Which…well, the fucking part of that would be absolutely A-OK, but he really can’t deal with the traumatising emotional fallout aspect.
“Um,” Aziraphale says. “Would you like to…sit down?”
He gestures towards the other side of the back room, where the sofa and the chair are. Crowley shrugs a shoulder, and saunters in that direction as aggressively as he can, flinging himself down on the sofa once he gets there. Aziraphale sits, primly, in the chair.
There’s a silence. Crowley wants to find his sunglasses and put them back on, but that would betray weakness, and he’s done more than enough of that already today. He stops avoiding looking at Aziraphale in favour of, very briefly, looking at him. Aziraphale is staring down at his own hands, looking fraught.
“I really want a drink,” Aziraphale says.
Excellent idea. Excellent idea. Crowley’s about to say as much, when Aziraphale continues, “But I don’t think that will really help right now, will it?”
“I dunno,” Crowley says, gloomily. “Might do.” A really big tumbler of whisky sounds like it would hit the spot.
Aziraphale, quite reasonably, ignores him. “I’m sorry,” he says.
“What. For,” Crowley bites out.
“Not for, uh. Not for that.” Aziraphale makes a gesture that really quite thoroughly indicates what they’d just been getting up to. “I’m not at all sorry for that.”
Crowley feels a disproportionate relief, along with a totally inappropriate and badly-timed bolt of then maybe we could do it again.
“No. I’m sorry that I’ve been doing so horribly badly at working out what the he- what the hea- what on Earth I’m doing. With you.”
“Right,” Crowley says.
“It always seems so easy for you, Crowley,” Aziraphale sounds sad, and uncertain. Crowley doesn’t like that. “Our side, you said. You’re so certain. I don’t…I can’t...I mean, yes, of course I chose you.”
“You didn’t,” Crowley said, feeling his anger rise back up. He can’t let this go. “You didn’t choose me.”
Aziraphale swallows. Crowley can see his Adam’s apple bobbing in his pale throat. “You’re right. I didn’t. I should have. I just…I thought if I told Heaven, they could—they’d want to—fix it. But I should have known better. It’s not like you haven’t been telling me for long enough.” He looks up, pins Crowley with those eyes, and whatever Aziraphale might think about Heaven now, his eyes still glow with angelic fire when he wants. “I was wrong. I wanted to choose you.”
“But you didn’t.”
“Not then,” Aziraphale says. “But at the air base, Crowley. And after. We went into Hell, and Heaven, for one another. I chose you.”
“You chose not to be killed,” Crowley says, his arms folded.
“I chose for you not to be killed,” Aziraphale says, and that does strike home into the heart Crowley’s been trying to armour since the start of this conversation. Since the start of the Earth, come to that. He makes a…noise…that he hopes Aziraphale takes as acknowledgement.
“I chose you,” Aziraphale says again. “And I have been trying, Crowley. I just...I’m scared.”
But you’re not too scared to manage a fuck up against a bookshelf, Crowley very nearly says, but doesn’t, because firstly, he started that, and secondly, he doesn’t want to hear Aziraphale’s reply.
Scared of what? “Have Gabriel or one of those idiots been round again?” it occurs to him to ask.
Aziraphale shakes his head. “No, no. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Upstairs since the whole...thing.”
No joy with that particular easy out, then.
“Scared you’ll Fall?” Crowley hazards.
Aziraphale bites his lip. “No...not exactly. I mean, what with everything else, if I haven’t...Um. I’m worried for you,” he offers, but Crowley isn’t buying that, not for a second.
He feels…weary. Very, very, weary, like six millennia are catching up with him all at once. His job here is to say something soothing to Aziraphale, to coax him through whatever’s going on in that mind of his.
He can’t do that any more.
“Well,” he says, and stands up. “When and if you work out what you want to do here, let me know. Until then,” the rage is back now, coiling up and around the weariness, sharpening itself on all those centuries of caution that Crowley foolishly believed would be over now, “I suggest you ssstay the fffuck away from me.”
He stalks towards the door, very deliberately not looking back. He’s almost there when he hears Aziraphale’s rapid steps behind him. He doesn’t let himself slow down; but Aziraphale grabs him by the shoulder and drags him around.
“What,” Crowley says, nastily.
“You will not walk out on me right now,” Aziraphale says, angelic eyes blazing again.
“I’m not going to sit around while you tell me how hard it is to be with me, angel,” Crowley says, and immediately regrets his choice of words.
“It’s not hard to be with you, Crowley,” Aziraphale says, and there’s a catch in his voice that nearly does for Crowley. “It’s wonderful. Being with you is always wonderful. It has been for such a long time. I just…”
Crowley takes a very long breath. He doesn’t need it, but it feels like it helps to centre his stupid betraying body anyway. “Make a decision, angel, and stick with it. That’s all.”
“That’s easy for you to say.”
“What, because I already made a decision I can’t unmake?” Crowley demands. He gestures up and down himself. “Except I didn’t even mean to, and here I am, stuck with it.” The words feel barbed in his throat, but this is right back at the centre of what is or isn’t between them, just like it was at the bandstand, and in front of the shop, and countless, countless times over the centuries. “What you mean, when you say that you’re an angel and I’m a demon, what you mean is, I Fell. I cannot be forgiven. And you don’t want to risk me dragging you down. Because Heaven might be pissed off with you now, but you’re still hoping that they might, sometime, forgive you. Everything that just happened, and you’re still holding out for that shit Gabriel and all the rest. For forgiveness. Aren’t you.”
Aziraphale has gone very white. “Crowley…”
“I forgive you,” Crowley spits at him. “You want heavenly forgiveness for yourself, and you want to stay on the side that gets to dish the stuff out. Except you know just as well as I do that it doesn’t apply to me.”
“I don’t want to forgive you for anything,” Aziraphale says. “I don’t think you need forgiveness. I think you’re perfect just the way you are.”
Crowley, gearing up for the next part of his rant, stops. The weird tearing feeling in his throat intensifies.
“I’m sorry,” Aziraphale says. He’s still very pale, but there’s something in his face now that wasn’t there before. “I’m so sorry. What I said, then. It was unconscionable. I’d say I didn’t even mean it, and I didn’t, except you’re right. I was still trying to be on their side. Up there.”
“Are still trying,” Crowley corrects him, but it comes out in a whisper.
“Yes,” Aziraphale says. He takes a small, cautious step towards Crowley. Crowley yanks at every muscle and nerve in his body in order to hold still rather than bolting backwards. “I suppose that’s what it comes down to. I’m an angel. I’m not a very good angel, but that’s what I am. And I’ve been so scared. I…I want this so badly, Crowley. I want you so badly. I’ve just kept thinking that it can’t be possible that we could get to have that. Without consequences. Given who and what we are.”
Crowley’s traitorously hopeful heart, having briefly risen, plummets downwards again. He shrugs, forcing an intense casualness, and takes a step backwards. He wants to leave. “Well, there you go, then. Impossible. Whatever.”
“I didn’t say it is impossible. Just that—since Tadfield, over and over again, I’ve wanted to say something, or do something, or get closer to you, and every time, the risk has been,” he gestures, “c-cutting me off at the knees. We’ve been hiding for so long. What if...what if I stop hiding, what if I finally admit what you mean to me, and that’s what does for us?” His forehead is creased with worry and sincerity; his eyes are intent on Crowley’s, and Crowley wishes again for the protection of his sunglasses. “What if it’s not the feelings, but being open about them, that...I said I’m not scared of Falling, but maybe I am after all, and I don’t even know what might happen to you. I’ve been so scared, Crowley.” His voice shakes, just a little, as he says it. “But the thing is. The thing is. I can’t bear to keep thinking like that. I can’t bear the idea that it isn’t possible.”
He takes another step closer. “You know what I intended to do, tonight?”
“Gonna go ahead and assume standing me up wasn’t your original plan,” Crowley says.
“I wanted to tell you. Everything I’ve just been saying. About being together. About being scared. About how...how much I love you.”
Crowley’s jaw slackens. This...is not what he was expecting to hear.
“And then I would imagine us, together, there in the restaurant, or, or, later on back here, and me saying it, and I…I couldn’t. I panicked. It seemed like such a huge irrevocable step, this thing that neither of us are supposed to do.”
Crowley frowns, honestly confused, even though he’s also experiencing that lift-shaft feeling again, of not knowing where Aziraphale is going with this. “You’re an angel. Love’s pretty much your thing.”
“Love, yes,” Aziraphale says. “In love, no.” He takes a deep breath he doesn’t, strictly speaking, need. “But I am. In love with you. Very much so.”
Crowley makes an inarticulate noise. He has a moment of seriously wondering if he’s hallucinating.
“And if saying that out loud is what puts me beyond the pale, Up There, I don’t care. I can’t bear to risk not doing it, not any more. I love you, Crowley.” His eyes are wide, his lips slightly parted. He's so focussed on Crowley that Crowley feels his face grow hot, but he can’t look away.
Aziraphale loves him. Not was going to love him, or is trying to love him, or trying not to love him. Aziraphale loves him. Aziraphale is in love with him.
Aziraphale is right up in his space, now. He puts his hand up to Crowley’s face. Crowley leans into it without even meaning to.
“Please,” Aziraphale says. “Will you forgive me? For taking this long?”
Gently, Aziraphale’s mouth lands on his. This isn’t like the kiss they shared earlier, both furious. This is something else. Soft; sweet. Heavenly. Crowley hears the noise he makes in the back of his throat as if it’s from a very long way away; the noise Aziraphale makes in return, though, resonates through him like a bell.
Aziraphale pulls back, looking intently at him. “Crowley? I promise. I won’t run away from it again. If you still…”
“I still,” Crowley says, hoarsely. His knees are shaking slightly. He’s still not sure he believes what’s happening here, but he’s not capable of refusing Aziraphale, not here and now. “Angel, I absolutely still.”
“And will you forgive me?” Aziraphale asks, eyes beseeching.
Crowley hadn’t thought of it as a real question. Forgiveness isn’t for him to give. That’s not his job. It is, even, the antithesis of his job. He opens his mouth to say something like that, but instead what comes out is, “Yes.”
Aziraphale’s smile lights up the dim bookshop, angelic radiance pouring out around him. It should probably hurt, to look upon him. It’s possible that it does, and Crowley just doesn’t care. Aziraphale moves in to kiss him again. Crowley’s toes curl, and his arms go around Aziraphale, and the two of them are pressed together again, right along their bodies, and sparks are lighting themselves up inside Crowley every place that they touch.
They stand there kissing for a while. Crowley lets himself bask in the feel of Aziraphale pressed up against him, of Aziraphale’s hand firm at the nape of his neck. Aziraphale’s other hand has found its way back up Crowley’s T-shirt, stroking over the places he dug his nails into earlier. There’s no way Crowley is going to get his hands up under Aziraphale’s three-or-more layers without some serious archeological work, and he’s not ready to miracle the whole lot away. Instead he digs his fingers into the place by Aziraphale’s shoulder blades where his wings are in another dimension, and Aziraphale moans into his mouth.
That is a very encouraging noise. Crowley likes it, and he wants to hear more of it. He stops kissing in order to mouth gently along the line of Aziraphale’s jaw, and, after a moment of thought, to nip at his neck. Aziraphale shudders, and lets his head tip to the side, giving Crowley better access. Crowley nips a little harder, and breathes in Aziraphale’s smell, and Aziraphale’s fingers dig harder into his back. Crowley feels a growling noise happening at the back of his own throat, and crowds his hips closer into Aziraphale’s.
Human bodies of this form, he is vaguely aware, have a refractory period, but he doesn’t see why that needs to apply to them. Apparently, Aziraphale shares this opinion.
Aziraphale makes a humming noise, and nuzzles his way back into a kiss, harder this time, all teeth and tongues. The evidence is mounting that Aziraphale may like it a little rough. Crowley makes a mental note.
He’s totally blindsided when Aziraphale gives him one more deep kiss, disengages, and then drops neatly to his knees.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time,” Aziraphale murmurs, fingers already working at the fly of Crowley’s excessively tight trousers, and really, there is absolutely nothing that Crowley can do other than whimper. There’s a table just to one side of them, and Crowley stumbles backwards a step to brace his hands on it. He pushes a couple of the books aside, and Aziraphale, moving with him while he pushes Crowley’s trousers down around his hips, once again doesn’t so much as comment. Aziraphale putting something above the wellbeing of his books. Now there’s a thing.
From the way Aziraphale went so rapidly to his knees; from the way he was up against the bookshelf earlier, Crowley was expecting, inasmuch as he has enough brainpower left to expect anything right now, fast and hard and greedy. But instead, having pushed down Crowley’s trousers and briefs, Aziraphale is layering gentle kisses across Crowley’s hipbones, his hands stroking at Crowley’s flanks.
“So beautiful,” Aziraphale says softly, between kisses, and Crowley digs his fingers into the edge of the table, gasping for breath before Aziraphale has got anywhere near his cock. “You are so beautiful, and I love you so much.”
“Angel…” Crowley croaks.
Aziraphale licks around the head of his cock, then slides his mouth around it, pressing at the sensitive spot on the underside with his tongue. Crowley whimpers, which would be embarrassing if he were capable of feeling embarrassed right now.
Aziraphale lets Crowley’s cock slip out of his mouth. “I want to make you feel good,” he says. “I have a lot of things to make up to you.” Then he takes the whole thing into his mouth, all at once, and Crowley’s attempt to find a suitable reply dies, unsuccessful. Aziraphale’s mouth is hot, and his tongue strokes along the underside of Crowley’s cock, lighting up every nerve-ending. Crowley’s hips twitch, involuntarily, chasing more.
He looks down at Aziraphale, mouth wrapped around his cock, making a noise that Crowley usually associates with puddings served with plenty of chocolate and cream, and feels wholly and completely overwhelmed. He has a horrible feeling that his legs are shaking.
“Angel. Aziraphale.” He doesn’t recognise his own voice.
Aziraphale looks up, and must see something on Crowley’s face, because he gives Crowley’s cock one final mind-bending suck, and stands up.
“My dear? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s. Uh.” Crowley thinks, with deep alarm, that there may be tears lurking somewhere in the corners of his eyes.
Aziraphale wraps his arms around Crowley, and between one blink and the next, they’re standing in the bedroom of Aziraphale’s flat, which Crowley has only ever seen once before, when Aziraphale sent him up here to find a book. Except he doesn’t remember the bed being this big, or looking this inviting.
“Maybe this would be more comfortable,” Aziraphale says, gently.
He kisses Crowley softly, luxuriously, as though they have all the time in the world. Licking along his bottom lip, making little appreciative noises into Crowley’s mouth. Crowley, wholly lost now, wraps his arms around Aziraphale and holds on desperately, letting Aziraphale push him gently onto the bed and straddle his lap. Aziraphale is still fully dressed, though Crowley’s trousers seem to have been left downstairs. Oh well.
“Ah,” Aziraphale says. “Was I going too fast? Just now? Should we…”
That’s enough to shake Crowley out of the weird floating feeling. “No. You were not going too fast.”
“Not fast enough?” Aziraphale says, with a tiny smirk that Crowley really ought to find annoying.
In retaliation, Crowley pinches Aziraphale’s arse, hard. Aziraphale wiggles on his lap in a way that has Crowley groaning and pushing his hips up towards Aziraphale.
“I do encourage you to hold that thought for another time,” Aziraphale says, “but for now...as I said, I have a lot of things to make up to you.” He slides his hands up under Crowley’s T-shirt, and nudges at Crowley until he raises his arms enough for Aziraphale to pull it over his head, collecting his scarf as he goes.
“You too, angel,” Crowley says, firmly. He’s not sure what Aziraphale has in mind, but he doesn’t want to be the only naked one. Aziraphale scowls down at his own multiple sets of buttons, then miracles the whole lot onto a chair behind him. He pushes Crowley down onto the bed, bending down to nip at his shoulder. Crowley groans, and scrapes his nails up Aziraphale’s back. He feels Aziraphale’s cock twitch against his leg and does it again, harder.
Aziraphale shimmies against him, and slides down a little to kiss his way across Crowley’s chest. Crowley writhes. It isn’t just the sensation of Aziraphale’s kisses across his skin, each one a tiny starburst. It’s everything he can—finally—feel behind them. Six thousand years, and here Aziraphale is, touching him with this gentle, focussed, care. Reverence, even. His throat feels too thick to swallow.
“I have wanted this for so long,” Aziraphale says, and licks at Crowley’s nipple. He’s holding tightly onto Crowley’s hip, and his leg is thrown over Crowley’s. Crowley can feel Aziraphale’s cock, hard against his thigh, and Aziraphale is rocking very gently against him, with little catches of his breath. Crowley clutches at Aziraphale’s hair, tangling in the curls at the nape of his neck. Aziraphale nips at his chest, and Crowley hears himself whine.
“For so very long,” Aziraphale murmurs, “and I’ve been so cowardly. You’ve been so patient. I really don’t deserve it at all, I don’t deserve you, and I just want, I just want to make you feel so good…”
There are a lot of thoughts crowding inside Crowley’s head right now, but the one that comes out is, “Are you sure?”
Aziraphale looks up at him, eyebrows drawn together. “What?”
“You’re not going to change your mind?”
He almost wishes he hadn’t said it, when he sees how hard it hits Aziraphale. Almost. But he has to know.
“I am not,” Aziraphale says, and there’s something in his voice that sounds like the angelic trumpets. But this defiance is for Crowley, not against him. “I am yours, Crowley. Please let me show you. Anything I can do, to make sure you know.”
Crowley clutches at him. “Yes. Yes.”
“I love you,” Aziraphale says, and it knocks Crowley backwards all over again. “I know I’ve wasted so much time, but…”
“Good thing we’ve got a lot of it left, then, isn’t it?” Crowley says, finally finding something approximately like his normal voice.
Aziraphale leans in to kiss the corner of his mouth, and Crowley tilts his head to turn it into a proper kiss, pulling Aziraphale in towards him with his hand in Aziraphale’s hair. It feels like stars colliding.
“I love you,” he says, eyes closed, his mouth barely an inch from Aziraphale’s. He feels weightless, anchored by Aziraphale’s body against his.
“My dearest,” Aziraphale breathes back at him.
Aziraphale strokes him, kisses him, loves him, and Crowley lies back, allows himself to float on Aziraphale’s worship, running his hands over every part of Aziraphale’s body that he can reach as Aziraphale imprints his love into Crowley with every touch.
“I’m here now,” Aziraphale tells him, his thumb rubbing circles under the head of Crowley’s cock as Crowley shivers.
He plasters himself across Crowley’s body, his hand wrapped around Crowley’s cock, his breath hot on Crowley’s ear. “I’m not going anywhere, ever again.”
Crowley’s whimpering, pushing up into Aziraphale’s hand, desperate to feel as much skin as he can, to feel the truth of everything Aziraphale is telling him.
“Our side,” Aziraphale says, as Crowley shakes apart.
Afterwards, they lie quietly under a ridiculously fluffy quilt that Aziraphale has miracled up—good thing no one’s keeping track of the miracles any more—and Crowley can’t stop touching. But neither can Aziraphale, so that’s all right.
Out of nowhere, Aziraphale sends a tiny zing of angelic power through his fingertips, and Crowley jumps, startled.
Aziraphale is grinning. Crowley scowls and pinches his arse.
“What we were doing, earlier. Against the bookshelf. Just in case you were wondering, I really didn’t mind that at all.”
“Might have known you’d be insatiable once I finally got you into bed,” Crowley says, resignedly. “Give me a chance for a breather, angel.”
“I didn’t mean now,” Aziraphale starts, flustered, then looks back at Crowley and stops, rolling his eyes.
“I will happily pin you to a bookshelf with demonic power and ravish you any time you like, angel,” Crowley says.
“Well,” Aziraphale says, wiggling into him. “Jolly good.”
Crowley is filled with a great sense of—joy. Happiness. Delight. Other terribly demon-inappropriate words. If he were a cartoon, he’d have little fluffy birds tweeting around his head. He can’t bring himself to care. He wraps his arms around Aziraphale, and holds on.