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For Someone's Sake

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It starts, as most dangerous things do, with a cup of tea.

It is a particularly good cup of tea, and it is jasmine, and it is in what will eventually be Damascus.

It’s quite likely, in fact, that it is the first cup of jasmine tea ever sold in this particular tea house in this particular not-yet-country, and Aziraphale does so love to be the first to taste new things.

Crowley knows this. He has known it since - well, since the garden, really. He is more than half convinced Aziraphale would have eaten the whole apple himself in one go if he’d gotten the chance.

Hedonist, he thinks reflexively, and with a dangerous amount of fondness, pretending to be looking about the tea house nonchalantly when he’s really off being - fond.

No, he’s not doing that. That would be decidedly undemonic of him. Downright soft, in fact.

He’s not fond. He’s not. (1)

Aziraphale makes a small, pleased noise and looks down into his teacup as if it has just done something very surprising indeed, and Crowley feels slightly like the earth is coming to an abrupt stop in its turning.

He has just enough time before the Realization hits him to think, Oh, bugger this.

 

The Realization stays much the same for roughly the next two thousand or so years, through the oysters in Rome (“oh, do try these dear, I insist”) and the chaise lounge in Istanbul (“Crowley stop being so stubborn and sit, darling”) and even, shockingly, the peyote in Mexico (“well it’s one of Her divine creatures, isn’t it? Crafted with love and all that?”).

Hedonist.

The word, every time Crowley dares to let himself think it, carries with it a big, swooping sort of heat that goes all the way from the pit of his stomach to the tips of his soot black wings.

It’s - it’s pleasure, the feeling. He wants Aziraphale. Not all the time, of course, but - but certainly more times than he’s quite prepared himself for. His body seems to be making the Effort to want Aziraphale all on its own and quite without his say so. 

Ah.

He’d Realized it, the wanting, and then never ever used the word wanting ever again, even in his own head, thank you very much. It was simply labeled the Realization, and then sort of. Ignored to the best of Crowley’s ability.

 

The Realization is, in Crowley’s estimation, even more important a capitalization than the Arrangement, but it is of vital importance that Aziraphale not know that.

So Crowley doesn’t try the oysters. He does sit on the chaise lounge but it is so divinely comfortable that it starts to make him rather upset, so he jumps right back up again. The peyote is - he doesn’t. For a variety of reasons. (2)

The problem, of course, is that he wants these things, and that they are all - being things he wants - very dangerously close to one single want that he must absolutely never ever have, and so having any of them would be incalculably dangerous.

It occurs to him much later that he’s doing quite a bit of self sacrificing and denial for someone who’s meant to be - whatever he is.

It also occurs to him, after Aziraphale somehow talks him into a fourth bottle of Grenache noir, that the angel is doing rather a lot of cajoling and excess for someone who’s meant to be - whatever he is. 

This is of course not the first time this particular thought occurs to him, but it is the first time it occurs to him immediately following the previously mentioned capital R Realization. Oddly enough.

Six thousand years and it’s never occurred to him until now that they might be a bit - turned around, morally speaking. (3)

Aziraphale’s -

Aziraphale’s tempting him. Proper tempting. The sort Crowley’s meant to be doing.

This is a much, much worse thought once Crowley puts it into the context of the Realization, because he -

No, better not think those words in that order. Very dangerous, that order of words, no matter how true they might be. Or perhaps because of it.

Best to keep the whole idea constrained to “The Realization” and be done with it.

 

It gets worse. After those two thousand years, after the oysters and the chaise lounge and the peyote and the very careful avoiding of wanting, it gets worse very suddenly and with absolutely no warning whatsoever.

They’re in Aziraphale’s shop and it’s snowing outside, and it’s very, very warm and orangey in the first editions room and Crowley has no idea the shitstorm of Realizations he’s about to rain down upon himself.

He should leave. He should definitely leave. Only Aziraphale, utter menace that he is, offers him more wine.

And that’s that and with one more glass of wine the whole carefully-guarded Realization just. Gets worse.

He’s had just enough wine a few minutes later to turn towards Aziraphale and say, “It’s - it’s a sw - a bitch swit.” Hm. He tries again, “A bit switchy, isn’t it?”

Aziraphale’s got one hand on a wine glass and the other just sort of absently stroking whatever’s softest within reach, which at this moment happens to be Crowley’s jacket. (4)

“What is?”

“You’re.” Well. What he’d meant to say was we are, but Crowley has found he’s got a tendency to balk rather severely at uses of We when it comes to Aziraphale. Plus he’s more than a little drunk.

“I am?”

“Mm.”

Aziraphale looks at him with an expression that would be very close to considering if it weren’t so drunk. After a moment he shakes his head, takes a sudden rushing breath as if he’s just remembered something.

“My dear boy, I’ve no idea what you’re on about.”

Crowley very carefully fixes his eyes on a stack of dustier-than-usual books when Aziraphale says my dear boy so that he doesn’t have to worry overly much about hiding his reaction to it.

He keeps looking at the stack of books when he says, a bit too overly casual and disastrously drunk, “Issa. Like, the wrong bits, we’ve got. We’ve got switched bits.”

Aziraphale waits, presumably for Crowley to get to reordering the jumble of words that seem to be stuck in his mouth all inside out.

“Bit- bits,” Crowley starts again, then finds himself taken by giggles too strong to talk through for a second. He tries very hard to keep his eyes on Aziraphale’s face instead of his-

Crowley is not blushing, thank you very much, but he is very warm in the face.

Probably just a loose bit of hellfire.

He gestures vaguely anyway.

“Not. Not those bits. It’s the - the priority bits, you know?”

Aziraphale just blinks at him. His eyelashes are so pale they look like they’re glowing.

Crowley tries again, mentally glowering at himself to get the words out in the right order this time.

“You don’t do a whole lot of thwarting, though, do you, angel?”

There. That’s better.

He knows he gets a particular tone to his voice when he’s trying very hard to sound like he doesn’t care about something, but he’s not sure Aziraphale has noticed that yet. (5)

“Not - not much twarting. From you.”

He’s trying to say something else when he says this, but he isn’t sure what that is, so this will have to do for now. (6)

Aziraphale most likely makes an attempt to respond, but Crowley’s face is still too warm and it’s making his ears ring and he’s trying not to look in any particular direction and his mouth opens itself on its own and says, “I’m meant to be tempting and, and, and lookit, lookat, look at me, I’m abstaining, angel, issn - isn’t - it’s. It’s not right, it’s not.”

Then, bulldozing past whatever expression he’s steadfastly ignoring on Aziraphale’s face, he says, “Bits, angel! They’re all switched.”

Aziraphale pours himself more wine, and then says very primly, “Well I don’t think so.”

“Eeeeh,” Crowley says, waving his hand and finding that it looks very blurry indeed.

Aziraphale says reasonably, “Perhaps we ought to sober up for this convers-”

Crowley finds himself making a loud, awful noise then, very much like one would make at a misbehaving cat who is about to knock something off a bookcase.

Aziraphale makes a thoughtful little hum and finishes his wine instead, which is much better, because Crowley is not set to have all these thoughts in his head while he’s sober, absolutely not. In fact he’s beginning to regret bringing it up at all. Aziraphale seems to sense this and the two of them simply lapse back into companionable, drunken silence.

Which somehow doesn’t help at all, and actually seems to make Crowley’s situation rather more pressing.

Aziraphale eats two slices of cake and opens an entirely separate bottle of dessert wine, and Crowley thinks it again before he can stop himself.

Absolute bloody hedonist, his Angel. (7)

Aziraphale makes some sort of noise at the cake and all the sudden, it’s worse. 

Much, much worse. With - as we stated before - absolutely no warning whatsoever.

Crowley’s body seems to make an Effort of its own accord again, without his say so at all, and Crowley finds it so annoying (-and so warm, so very warm, and he - he wants so badly it feels almost human-) that he leaves before Aziraphlae’s even finished asking him what’s the matter.

Proper tempting, that’s what he’s doing. And Crowley had been so very careful, too.

 

The time after that rather hurts.

They’re drunk again, and it’s the 90s, and Crowley’s got a haircut he hates a bit and Aziraphale looks exactly the same.

Wine, Crowley decides, must have been a human invention, because neither his side nor Aziraphale’s could possibly have been devious enough to have ever thought it up.

After some time, Aziraphale starts humming drunkenly under his breath, and they’ve had several bottles of wine but Crowley isn’t sure how many, and the next time he looks over at Aziraphale -

Oh, for Go- 

For Sa- 

For someone’s sake.

Perhaps something’s wrong with the wine.

“Angel,” Crowley says, squinting through his wine glass at him, “Mow hany. Mow- How many eyes are you meant to have again?”

Aziraphale looks confused, or at least Crowley thinks he looks confused, but it’s a bit jumbled looking at his face when he’s also getting the impression of looking at a thousand turning, flaming wheels. And about seven animal heads, or maybe seventeen, or maybe seventy. And a staggering number of eyes, really.

They’ve got wings, all the eyes do. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

He wonders idly if Aziraphale ever went in for the whole Be not afraid business, when he was sporting this particular Not-Body back in the day. (8)

“Just the two,” says Aziraphale, somehow managing to convey a drunken slur and perfect diction and the sound of trumpets all at once.

It hurts Crowley’s ears, the little piece of heaven that seems to be leaking out of Aziraphale, but it feels a bit good, as well.

“Ah,” Crowley says, in a voice that suddenly sounds very very alone next to the heavenly chorus of Aziraphale’s.

“What’s that, darling?”

It hurts. Aziraphale’s voice, all those awful, omnipotent looking eyes, all those imperceptible wings, the brilliant golden shifting lines of him, the Light coming off the crowns on every one of his heads - it hurts. It all hurts.

It hurts so much and still Crowley wants -

No, best not.

Except all that brilliant light and all those eyes and the heavenly chorus of his voice, it’s all - just a bit too much for Crowley. It’s just a bit too hard for him to lie to himself when he’s being assailed with Aziraphale like this.

So the whole fully formed thought (9) makes its way all the way into his head for the first time in millennia. 

Crowley wants him. 

Fuck, he wants him.

He wants him with a force that is frightening , and so horrifyingly sincere that Crowley just knows it’s not the kind of wanting Hell would be alright with.

“Crowley? Are you alright?”

Bells, his voice. Harps, the roaring of twelve golden lions, the screaming of an incalculable army of Seraphim, the crumbling of cities and men, and the soft, gentle breeze of Aziraphale just under all of it.

He is immeasurable.

The Realization shifts horribly in the face of it.

Crowley means to make up something glib, something that doesn’t matter, but instead he lists heavily to the left (wine) and says, “I love you.” 

Oh, fuck it all. He hadn’t meant to say that. He hadn’t meant to say that at all. (10)

Only Aziraphale doesn’t understand, he doesn’t understand that Crowley means it, that he means it in a truly terrifying, unmaking-himself kind of way, because to Aziraphale love is commonplace. Positively pedestrian.

That, and Aziraphale is probably drunker than Crowley is.

So he just smiles with too many mouths and says, “And I love you as well, dear boy.”

Crowley’s traitorous body seems to manifest an Effort of its own volition again, at the sound of that. He fidgets obviously, crosses and uncrosses his legs too many times trying to hide it.

Crowley hides in his wine glass. He clears his throat, briefly squeezes his eyes shut, uses one teeny tiny miracle to do away with his stupid cock again because it’s giving him so much trouble, and then says, just to fill the silence, “You’ve spilled a bit of heaven out, there, angel.”

Aziraphale looks down at himself and Crowley watches helplessly: the way most of his eyes turn inward but some turn out, and some look straight into Crowley’s racing black heart and some just look at his face, innocent as you please.

“Oh, dear,” Aziraphale says, only it’s also the blowing of each and every one of Joshua’s trumpets at the walls of Jericho. “I think I’m a bit too drunk.”

Then he reaches for more wine.

Under his breath so he can’t hear how lonely his voice sounds next to the angel’s, Crowley feels himself mutter that damned too-fond thought, “Hedonist.”

A crackling, awful, predictable heat runs through Crowley at the word, the way it always does. But with quite a bit extra, this time.

“What’s that, dear?” It’s bells and trumpets and the blazing roar of a flame seventeen stories high, Aziraphale’s voice.

Crowley blows a raspberry. He’s very dizzy.

“Crowley.” 

And it’s just Aziraphale again, the voice he knows, and the sudden quiet intimacy of it makes Crowley shiver so hard he just knows Aziraphale will see it.

The Realization taps Crowley on the shoulder and, as soon as he turns to look at it, promptly punches him in the face.

It seems that in addition to the wanting, and the fondness, he is also utterly, unavoidably, humanly in love with Aziraphale.

 

Crowley goes to great lengths to hide the new and improved Realization from Hell, Heaven, himself, and especially Aziraphale, despite having actually physically told it to him, and he actually does a rather fantastic job until the world sees fit to end.

Well, it doesn’t end, actually. But it had seemed to want to, for a moment there. In fact, it’s not-ending ends up being nearly as dramatic as its ending would have been, in Crowley’s opinion. 

The problem with the world not ending is that he ends up switching bodies with Aziraphale.

The stakes are very high indeed, and he’s in Heaven and there’s a whole column of Hellfire and Aziraphale’s body might not survive this even with Crowley in it and they really are in a stupendous amount of trouble, and yet the only thing Crowley can think about is that somewhere in Hell, Aziraphale is inside his body.

Incredible, really. Here he is, about to die, and his best and dearest and only friend too (most likely), and still he’s thinking about it. 

The Hellfire, when he does end up in it, actually seems to hurt more than he remembers. Not unbearable, mind you. Just – unpleasant. Like being in a boiler room with too many coats on. With a sunburn. Not unbearable.

No, unbearable is something else.

Unbearable is the flash of Hell-vision he gets when he steps into the fire, of Aziraphale in his body , laughing in a bathtub full of holy water, asking for a rubber duck.

Unbearable is the way Aziraphale smiles , and sure he’s wearing Crowley’s face but it’s still Aziraphale smiling like that, cocksure and mischievous and downright dirty , and –

Yes. That is unbearable. The Hellfire is nothing next to that. 

Crowley finds himself laughing then, at the fact that these idiots in Heaven seem to think that something as mundane as Hellfire could hold even half of the torture of seeing Aziraphale smirking.  

He laughs so hard he can’t breathe, and they all look sufficiently unnerved, and he laughs harder.

And then he finds himself back on earth, Not Dead, staring at Aziraphale wearing his face, and Aziraphale is laughing too.

“I asked for a rubber duck ,” Aziraphale says, like he’s never done anything so scandalous in his whole life, and Crowley isn’t sure he’ll ever stop laughing.

They switch back, and Crowley sort of shakes his shoulders a bit in the hope that he’ll find some tiny little bit of left-over Aziraphale inside him. He doesn’t. 

He looks up and Aziraphale is looking carefully at his own hands, the softest pinkest blush Crowley’s ever seen on his face, and something swoops very low in Crowley’s stomach.

He puts on that dreadfully affected voice, the one that says I don’t care very loudly indeed, and says, “Alright there, angel?”

Aziraphale glances up at him, then back down at his own hands, then back up as if he’s just noticed something very important. (11)

“Yes,” he says, a bit breathless. That unbearable smirk seems light years away now, almost impossible. “Did we just save the world, Crowley?”

Crowley squints up at the sun, makes some sort of noncommittal noise.

“Looks like,” he says carelessly, and he can see in Aziraphale’s eyes that he doesn’t buy the carelessness for a single second.

“Just us now, is it?”

Crowley’s body tries to make an Effort again and he has to beat it back with a stick.

“Looks like,” he says again.

They’ve started walking, somehow. The world doesn’t seem any the wiser, but Crowley feels a bit like his feet are shaking.

Strange, how huge this moment feels, just because Aziraphale keeps glancing over at him like that.

“I suppose I should, um,” Aziraphale says, and for the first time in their entire 6,000 year friendship Crowley gets himself together with the whole tempting business.

“I’ve got a bottle of Macallan,” he says, and it’s a lie until the end of the sentence when it’s suddenly not anymore, “Seems a waste not to celebrate the world not ending and all.”

Aziraphale’s lips twitch up at the corners and he looks away again.

“Does seem a waste,” he agrees.

Crowley doesn’t look at him when he casually says, “Your place?”

“Oh, I think so.”

 

_______________________________________________________________

Footnotes: 

1) He is.

2) Not the least of which is that it’s far more entertaining to watch Aziraphale spend 7 hours talking in animated Nahuatl to a scorpion, which is perched comfortably on the big round hull of the cactus in question.

3) Truthfully, he should have known this was the case when Aziraphale accidentally crushed that dove in his jacket and Crowley miracled it back again, but neither of them had really thought much of it at the time. Aziraphale had just given him one of those small albeit utterly blinding smiles, and Crowley had looked away and adjusted his sunglasses and that had been that.

4) The Narrator would like to note that Crowley, despite all vehement arguments to the contrary even in his own mind, did in fact buy this particular jacket for this express reason.

5) He has. In fact, he first noticed it in the third sentence Crowley ever spoke to him, and has continued to notice it for roughly six thousand years since.

6) The Narrator would like to note that Crowley would in fact be quite sure what he was trying to say, if he weren’t so completely terrified of it.

7) It does not occur to Crowley, now or at any later date, that he’s just thought of Aziraphale as his angel, but we can let that slide this once, since we know what’s likely to occur to Crowley later.

8) Having been in possession of an earthly body since the dawn of humanity, Aziraphale didn’t so much need to go in for the whole Be not afraid business. However, there was one incident involving a Wilde first edition wherein he got rather excited and a few extra eyes came out.

9) The whole thought, up till this exact moment, had attempted to make an appearance several times over the years, and had gotten very close indeed the time with the oysters and the chaise lounge and the peyote and the wine, but had always managed to stay a bit - nebulous. Somehow through all of this Crowley had managed to escape any actual fully formed Revelations regarding - his situation. How Crowley managed this feat is beyond the Narrator’s less-than-humble understanding. We think it possible that he just sort of designated the whole feeling as “fond” and went on with it.

10) He had meant to, just a bit. He’d just meant not to a bit more.

11) He has.

Chapter Text

They’re very drunk again about 2 hours after that.

Crowley feels sort of wonderful, actually. Aziraphale’s bookshop Post Adam is much better organized, though just a touch off. There’s a new couch that’s very large and very comfortable and probably wasn’t there before, though Crowley can’t be completely sure. 

Aziraphale takes another drink of scotch and looks down at his glass in something like surprise, which is something Crowley has noticed that he tends to do when he particularly likes the taste of something.

Fuck, he wishes Aziraphale would look at him like –

“Darling,” Aziraphale says, and his voice is soft and a bit drunk, “May I ask you something?”

Crowley’s head is hanging off the arm of the new couch. It’s good, the couch. Soft. He’s noticed that already, hasn’t he?

Aziraphale looks soft, too.

Crowley likes soft things. He supposes that’s alright now, since no one’s watching anymore.

“Mm.”

“When I was in you,” Aziraphale says, and Crowley’s entire body just goes up in flames without warning, “I felt – well, I felt something, you see.”

Crowley tries to say something like “Oh?” in response, but the whole When I was in you business seems to have permanently melted his tongue to the roof of his mouth.

Aziraphale doesn’t seem to notice.

“Do you – that is, I mean to say – do you want – ”

Crowley just nods, rather too hard, tongue still stuck.

“Oh,” Aziraphale says, as if it’s all been very obvious and he’s only just noticed.  

“Yes,” Crowley finally manages, and he’d be embarrassed at the breathlessness of his own voice if he had any faculties at all that weren’t completely fixated on replaying When I was in you over and over again.

“For how long?” Aziraphale asks his glass of scotch.

“Ages,” is all Crowley finds himself able to say.

Aziraphale glances up at him, and the scotch in his hand is gold and his hair and eyelashes are gold and the evening light in the bookshop’s recently enlarged windows is gold and Crowley almost wants to shut his eyes against it. No wonder the Church had always been so horribly extravagant. 

Aziraphale reaches over and takes Crowley’s sunglasses off his face. It’s not particularly gentle; it’s more like he simply has no more patience for them.

“That’s quite enough of that,” he says softly, almost to himself, and Crowley huffs a hysterical laugh. He hasn’t found himself able to do so much as twitch his fingers in several minutes. He’s frozen. 

“I’m terribly sorry, my dear,” Aziraphale says, and his voice is so very quiet, “I don’t think I was quite paying attention before.” 

It’s odd, really. Here he is, sitting on a couch drinking scotch after the end of the world, having probably the most important conversation he’s had in 6,000 years, and yet he’s quite sure he’s never felt so calm in his whole life. Of course, that’s not saying much, but still.

He’s pretty sure he’s looking at Aziraphale like a lovestruck teenager, but he doesn’t seem to be able to do anything about that*.

(* Actually at the moment, Crowley is looking at Aziraphale less like a lovestruck teenager and more like Pygmalion probably looked at Galatea (wonder, adoration, fear), and very much like a man dying in the desert looks at a large and inviting body of water before drowning himself (disbelief, violent longing), but it’s all rather the same, isn’t it? Any teenager will tell you. )

“‘S alright.”

Aziraphale reaches for him and Crowley’s whole entire everything zeroes in on it, and then Aziraphale pauses. Crowley thinks this is probably how leaves feel when they spend all that effort turning themselves upside down only to spend hours all trembling and exposed, waiting for the rain to finally come. 

“You’re meant to be tempting, you know,” Aziraphale says, voice very quiet, and Crowley swallows very hard.

Crowley says, “You always did it better.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that.” Aziraphale’s voice is really quite something, like this. “D’you remember Florence, in 1440?”

Crowley can’t stop looking at Aziraphale’s face. His smile hurts to look at. 

“Cosimo’s party?” Crowley asks, and he has no idea how they got to be so close. He’s practically in Aziraphale’s lap. 

Oh, that’s something. That sounds like - like something. 

“You wore that green dress,” Aziraphale says, and his voice goes sort of wistful and also sort of dark and Crowley absolutely couldn’t stop his body from making every Effort imaginable even if his life depended on it. 

“Not a single person in that room stopped thinking of you for weeks, dear. Months.”

Crowley manages a sort of croak when he says, “Didn’t know you were there.” 

“Wasn’t meant to be,” Aziraphale says, and his tone is light and just a tad embarrassed but he’s hiding something dark under it, Crowley can tell. “Left just as soon as I started -well, I believe ‘coveting’ is the word.” 

Crowley feels himself laugh, slightly hysterical and drunk and still, even now, even in the Obviousness of everything, a bit disbelieving. 

“Angel,” he says, and he means it just as a sort of mark of surprise but it comes out very low and soft and devastated, and he might even be murmuring. Crowley’s never known himself to do something that could be defined as a murmur by accident before.

Aziraphale’s much the same as he always is, two hands on his glass of scotch like it’s a mug of tea, soft little smile and all, but there’s something too big about the moment to Crowley, as if it doesn’t fit into its frame but also doesn’t have anywhere else to be. 

It’s not - it’s not dramatic. It’s just sort of - quietly expansive, inescapable, like the ocean or the long unbroken dunes of the Sahara, and its in the way Aziraphale takes a breath before he speaks. 

“Suppose I can confess to that now, the coveting,” he says, with a huffed little laugh that is so completely familiar that it makes Crowley ache, very suddenly and very deeply. 

Before he realizes it, Crowley finds himself saying, “Aziraphale.”

He’s rather surprised at the way it feels to say that: the stomach-dropping anticipation of looking over a very great height, or of whispering a closely guarded secret. His voice catches in the middle like a heroine in a romance novel*.

(*Actually, Crowley was once the heroine in a romance novel. Or rather, he was the inspiration for one. And he’d posed rather suggestively on the cover, in a pink negligee that he’d always thought had clashed horribly with his hair. )

Aziraphale looks almost shocked by it, as if Crowley’s never said his name before. He’s looking at Crowley’s face as if Crowley’s just spent a great deal of time writing all his innermost Realizations all over it.

Aziraphale’s own Realization is different than Crowley’s: it appears on his face by such excruciatingly slow degrees as to be almost imperceptible, and Crowley has the distinct impression that Aziraphale’s had one foot in Realizing for several years and only now, with great care and gentleness and a daft amount of dallying, you blasted angel, is putting both feet together. 

“Oh,” Aziraphale breathes, and it’s so very close to the sound he made over that damned cup of jasmine tea those thousands of years ago, soft and almost unspeakably pleased, “Oh, my darling boy.”

This close – and they are close, so close that Crowley can see all Aziraphale’s golden eyelashes, so close that if he looks too long at his eyes he can see all sorts of other things – this close there’s no chance of hiding the way his face flushes when Aziraphale says that.

Aziraphale says, "Oh, I see."

Crowley looks for one dizzying moment at the unmistakably playful tilt of Aziraphale’s mouth before he finds himself saying, “I - uh.”

He should probably say something else, only nothing else seems particularly forthcoming. 

Then Aziraphale’s comment and the look on his face sinks all the way in and Crowley finds himself screwing up his eyebrows drunkenly. 

“Wait, you see?” 

Aziraphale looks happily confused. There’s a really very wonderful crinkle of genuine pleasure around his eyes. Crowley’s mouth, having gotten rather carried away with the scotch and the Realizations and the confessing and the coveting, fuck, speaks again without his express permission. 

“No, you don’t.” 

“I’m sorry?” 

Crowley puts down his glass on a stack of ugly 19th century hardcovers and shifts, suddenly uncomfortable with the information he’s on track to reveal. 

“You see - no, you - you’re an angel, Angel, you can’t possibly - well, you.” Crowley clears his throat nervously, something he’s quite sure he’s never done before. “You don’t see the, um. Whole other. Nevermind. So you love me, eh?” 

Aziraphale is looking at him like he’s a particularly amusing but perplexing puzzle he’s meant to solve. 

“Quite so.”

“In -” and here Crowley nervously clears his throat again, which is absurd given the fact that they’ve already had this part of the conversation - “In what way?” *

(* There’s an important other part of the conversation, however, having to do with all those dear boy s, that Crowley is fairly certain Aziraphale is unaware of. The Narrator will remain silent on the topic of what exactly Aziraphale is aware of for now, for the sake of dramatic effect.) 

Aziraphale sighs, looks up at the rafters. There is something terribly beautiful and horrifying turning endlessly in his pupils, if Crowley looks at them the right way.

“In every way, I expect.” 

Crowley flushes again. Aziraphale sees it. 

Then he turns and looks Crowley full in the face and, in the same tone of voice he uses to say things like Do you think they put nutmeg in this Aziraphale says, “You like praise quite a bit, don’t you, dearheart?” 

Ah. Hm.

Crowley’s brain grinds to a complete halt in the face of this newest of Realizations. 

He stares. He doesn’t even blink. He’s pretty sure his tongue forks in two inside his mouth. Whatever soft, comfortable warmth that had taken residence in his stomach when Aziraphale had begun this conversation suddenly has a change of heart and becomes so violently hot in the pit of Crowley’s stomach it almost hurts.

Aziraphale’s just looking at him, waiting for him to answer, expression exceedingly gentle. 

Finally, after several full minutes, Crowley blinks. 

Aziraphale smiles at him. 

“Oh,” Crowley says, and it’s a bit like having the same blasted conversation all over again only this one is much more difficult for Crowley to believe, “So you do see, then.” 

He almost doesn’t admit it, but it’s Aziraphale. So he does. 

“You seem surprised, darling.” 

Somehow Crowley can tell from Aziraphale’s tone that he means why is this what you’re surprised about when we’ve just confessed our undying devotion to one another, so he shrugs. 

“A bit.” 

“Did you think I spent all that time in those gentleman’s clubs learning the gavotte?” 

Here Aziraphale laughs, a soft little laugh that inexplicably makes Crowley feel as if he’s standing in front of a vast expanse of eyes completely naked. 

“Well - yeah,” he says, lamely, voice shaking a little. 

“I did learn it, of course, but then they were doing all sort of other things, and I’ve got such a curious nature, you see-”

“I know-”

“And it was all very interesting and educational and very enjoyable-”

“Enjoyable?-”

“And I did have a rather long stretch of time when I was rather, ah, in demand, and felt a bit guilty about it-”

“In demand-

“And at that point it seemed a bit too close to tempting and I decided to stop with the whole business for a while, because I couldn’t imagine how embarrassing it would have been if Gabriel had found out-”

“Oh, please don’t mention him again.”

Aziraphale stops very suddenly, the full unbearable weight of his attention falling very heavily onto Crowley without warning. That gentle, ever-present smile that had been on his face since they’d sat down drops off his face. 

Crowley feels something very much like fear, only it’s sort of - good.

“I’ve never heard you say that before,” Aziraphale says, and he sounds a bit faint. There’s the very distant sound of harps. 

Crowley swallows. He feels like he’s being dropped from a very great height. “Ssssay-” he clears his throat and fixes his tongue with a bit of difficulty - “Say what?” 

“Please,” says Aziraphale, still not smiling, and Crowley makes a very, very embarrassing noise.

He bites his own lip without thinking about it, trying to keep the noise in, but it doesn’t work very well. It sounds - whiny, sort of. Something completely unfamiliar happens to Aziraphale’s face. 

“Oh, I see,” Aziraphale says again, much quieter than the first time.

Crowley, still sort of trembling like an upturned leaf*, rolls his eyes shakily. “Yes, yes, I know.” 

(*But in a very brave, very demonic way)

“No, I meant me this time, dear.” 

“You - wh- oh.” 

Aziraphale suddenly blinks, and the bottle of scotch gains about half of its body back, and then he’s looking at Crowley all painfully clear eyed and fond and - and something else that makes Crowley’s head spin. 

Crowley takes another drink and then lays his head on the couch next to Aziraphale’s shoulder, looking up at him in a way he knows is rather embarrassingly dreamy. 

Aziraphale’s affection is so apparent on his face it makes Crowley squirm. 

“You know I love you very much,” he says, with such an unbearable tenderness and honesty, as if in explanation for whatever he’s just done and whatever he’s about to do, and Crowley feels like the bottom of his stomach has just disappeared quite suddenly. Almost against his own will he smiles up at Aziraphale, soft and stupid. 

“Yeah, you just said quite a lot about it,” Crowley says, voice doing that whole accidental murmuring thing again. 

“I did.”

Then Aziraphale reaches over with both hands and hauls Crowley into his lap. 

It’s not that it’s unexpected, really (it is devastatingly unexpected but that’s neither here or there), it’s more that Crowley hasn’t had the guts to sober up yet and everything’s a bit wiggly and soft and there are too many eyes on Aziraphale’s face, only he’s not sure if they’re there because of the scotch or not. 

Go- Sa- Someone, he’s in Aziraphale’s lap. That’s. Really something, isn’t it? 

Crowley’s brain isn’t exactly firing on all cylinders at the moment, and one of the angel’s hands is on his back and one is still holding the thigh he used to haul him over, and yes of course they’ve touched before with varying levels of intimacy depending on social conventions of the time but this. This is - quite different. 

“Crowley, do you think it would be alright if I kissed you now?” 

There’s a strange sort of deliberate tenderness in Aziraphale’s voice that Crowley has not seen before, and the pointedness of it, the lack of room for argument, is making him a bit stupid. 

So he just sort of makes a generally overwhelmed noise and leans forward to put his forehead on Aziraphale’s shoulder. 

“It’s alright,” Aziraphale says, soothing, gentle, petting Crowley’s hair like he’s a spooked animal. Crowley’s mouth is scant centimeters from Aziraphale’s throat.

Oh, right. 

Crowley had, until this moment, been a bit unsure as to what sort of Effort his body had manifested - having been a bit distracted by all the declarations of love and earth shattering matters of the heart and whatnot, and not really caring which Effort it turned out to be either way - but it becomes quite clear to him all at once that not only does he have a cock, but also that if he doesn’t use it soon it might fall off. 

“Angel,” he says, soft, unsure, and with a trembling desperation that embarrasses him, “Angel.”

He’s taken credit for a lot of things over the years. Many of which weren’t, strictly speaking, actually his doing. This seems to have resulted in the rather unfortunate notion - helped on, Crowley knows, mostly by the way he walks - that Crowley has some amount of experience in this area. 

He doesn’t. He really, really doesn’t.

The idea that Aziraphale does gives Crowley all sorts of conflicting human feelings. For one it makes him sort of weak in the knees, but it also makes him a bit - angry, too hot in the chest, prone to grabbing Aziraphale with both hands and never letting anyone else speak to him ever again- 

Ah, right. That’s called jealousy, that one. 

I believe coveting is the word. 

Crowley does something very stupid indeed and sobers up, wincing, then wordlessly curls both hands into Aziraphale’s jacket rather possessively and finally kisses him like his whole existence has been waiting for it*. 

(*It has, actually. Unbeknownst to our dear Crowley this is actually a rather cosmically significant moment.)

Aziraphale wraps both arms around Crowley’s middle and pulls him so close it’s crushing, so close it’s terrifying. All at once the full weight of all of it hits Crowley in the chest and he makes some sort of awful, pained noise into Aziraphale’s mouth.

Aziraphale pulls away and Crowley makes the noise again, suddenly feeling like he’s about to pitch backwards off a cliff, and he wraps both his hands around Aziraphale’s neck and crushes his whole body to him. Everything he was supposed to be and everything he wasn’t gets all tangled up: greedy and desperate and covetous, jealous and hungry and so endlessly adoring, so dizzyingly in love he can scarcely think of it. 

Crowley doesn’t stop kissing Aziraphale even as he fumbles to take his clothes off; he feels like he’ll die if he stops. It’s just so - so hot, and the irony of that is not lost on him, thank you. It’s so hot, and Crowley can feel heat coming off the angel in waves, like sunlight, and he can smell him and taste him - 

He’s probably not very good at this. He’s just sort of whining and panting into Aziraphale’s mouth like a dog, scrambling to get his clothes off but also trying to touch as much of Aziraphale as he can and the whole thing is terribly uncoordinated and desperate and really, what must Aziraphale think of him - 

Aziraphale makes a quiet, gentle sort of shushing sound, both hands very warm on Crowley’s back, and kisses Crowley’s jaw. Crowley’s fairly certain his eyes roll so far back in his head he can see his own brain. 

“Darling boy,” Aziraphale says, low and exactly like Crowley had always pictured it, “It’s alright, sweatheart, I have you.” 

Crowley makes some sort of noise again, and Aziraphale bites him, hard. 

“Hush, Crowley.” 

There it is again. That tone of voice, the one that brokers no argument, the one Crowley might even describe as stern if he’d ever heard it from Aziraphale before today. 

Hearing his name in that tone of voice is - well, it’s a bit. It’s a bit something. Crowley melts a little. 

He melts a lot. 

He melts all the way against Aziraphale in a big rush of breath and greedy limbs, murmuring Angel against his mouth over and over, body gone all soft and pliant and eager. 

Aziraphale bites him again, hard on the side of Crowley’s too-long neck and there’s not an ounce of gentleness in it, and Crowley, mortifyingly, hears his own voice crack. 

“Oh my G- Sa- fuck.”  

Aziraphale’s mouth is on Crowley’s ear now, and Crowley thinks might just spontaneously discorporate when Aziraphale starts whispering into it. 

“Is that what you-”

“Yes, yes, please.” 

He doesn’t recognize his own voice. It’s rather an odd sensation. 

“Do y-”

“Aziraphale,” Crowley says, fed up and panting, finally tearing his own shirt over his head, “I swear to fucking someone if you don’t get in me in the next two minutes, I will kill you myself.” 

Aziraphale goes very still, wings crossing briefly into the room in shock. They’re beautiful. Gold instead of white, in this light. 

Then he gets a hold of himself and smiles in a way that sends a shiver all the way to the soles of Crowley’s feet. 

“Small miracle?” He says, still smiling, and Crowley has no idea what he means but he nods anyway, because he would give Aziraphale every single star in the sky if he still could.

Aziraphale looks at him for a second, smile sharpening. Then:

Oh. 

Oh for the love of fucking -

“Oh, my god.” 

Yeah, well. Satan’s out for this one, Crowley decides. 

“What the f- Aziraphale, wh- What. Oh my god.” 

It’s a distinctly aching sensation, to be suddenly all wet and warm and open - like Aziraphale’s been at it for hours - in the blink of an eye. Crowley has nothing at all to compare it to, because his own fingers and toys certainly never did this, and usually when he tried to use them in the first place he’d end up thinking too much about Aziraphale and have to stop. 

It’s quite a fucking miracle, if he ever felt one. 

He feels a bit shown up that he’d never thought of it himself. It’s devastating. 

“Basssstard angel,” Crowley hisses, unable to control it. He hangs his head for a moment, just. Trying to breathe. He can feel himself blushing. 

Aziraphale’s just sitting there watching him, and Crowley tries very hard to take off his pants without getting off Aziraphale’s lap before he remembers he can just will them off. 

Right. That’s. That’ll be a fun memo to the home office, if they ever even get memos on him anymore. 

“Hope you don’t mind,” Aziraphale says, then, when Crowley’s suddenly very naked indeed in his lap he makes a quiet, indecently pleased noise. “Oh, you are so incredibly lovely, darling.” 

Crowley blushes so deeply he thinks some hellfire might just come out of his face. His wings are out. He can’t feel his tongue. 

Aziraphale has never looked at him quite like this. It is a physical weight unlike anything Crowley’s ever felt before*. 

(*Actually, it’s unlike anything anyone’s ever felt before, as the full unfiltered love and adoration of something as powerful as Aziraphale has never been singularly unleashed on one being before in the entire history of the cosmos. If Crowley weren’t, well, Crowley, he might have melted under it.) 

“Lovely,” Aziraphale praises again, watching Crowley lose little bits of himself in it, a knowing little smile on his face. His hands are slow and warm up Crowley’s sides. “Beautiful.”

“Don’t,” Crowley says, a little too quiet. “I’m - not, don’t -”

Aziraphale’s still got all his clothes on. That’s sort of - good, Crowley thinks, for reasons he doesn’t entirely understand. It’s good, he likes it. He likes being in Aziraphale’s lap naked like this; it feels almost like he’s more naked because of all the clothes Aziraphale’s got on. It makes him sort of wobbly. 

Odd, that*. 

(*Actually, it’s not terribly odd at all, but Crowley’s not really in possession of the mental faculties to consider things like power dynamics right now. Luckily, our dear Aziraphale is.) 

Crowley doesn’t know how Aziraphale got his cock out of his pants without touching them - he suspects yet another inappropriate miracle - but he doesn’t pause like Crowley expects. He doesn’t shake or fuss or ask Crowley if he’s very, very sure. He doesn’t touch his face and whisper are you ready, darling or do any of the things Crowley imagined he would. 

He just holds Crowley bruisingly tight around the waist and fucks all the way inside him all at once, slow but inescapable as the tide, pushing all the thought out of Crowley’s head and all the breath out of Crowley’s lungs. 

Crowley can’t seem to make any noise all the sudden. He’s got no air, and his wings suddenly cross over about ten planes of reality to stretch all the way out at his back, the soot black tips of them straining across the whole width of the room, trembling against Aziraphale’s bookshelves. It’s at least 25 feet. 

Aziraphale sighs against Crowley’s neck, contented and soft, like he’s not currently scrambling Crowley’s whole world, like he has endless time and endless patience, like he could just stay here unmoving inside Crowley all night. 

He could, probably, which Crowley promptly determines would kill him. 

Aziraphale responds to Crowley’s little whispered plea of Don’t with another awful, inexorable tidal wave of affection. 

“But you are, Crowley, you are beautiful, my dear, you are so extraordinary, if only you could - oh, I’ve an idea.” 

He sounds perfectly ordinary, if a bit breathless. And more than a bit fond. 

Thank someone Aziraphale still hasn’t moved, because Crowley thinks he might split apart if he did. He feels like he’s barely got a handle on himself as is. Like he can’t get himself to fit all the way into his body. 

Then there’s a very large and exorbitantly expensive looking gilt-framed mirror suddenly right next to them, propped up on the floor, and as soon as Crowley sees it out of the corner of his eye he squeezes his eyes shut. 

“I know,” Aziraphale says, so quiet Crowley doesn’t even know if it’s meant for him, “I know but please, look, dearheart. Just look at how beautiful you are, please, for me, you deserve to see it.”

Crowley gasps, the affection and the praise and the honesty in Aziraphale’s voice hitting him like a slap to the face: sharp and stinging and shocking, and then almost overwhelmingly hot under his skin. Aziraphale takes the opportunity to anchor one arm very firmly around Crowley’s waist. 

Crowley gasps again, louder this time, when Aziraphale fucks up into him just once like that, arm like steel around Crowley’s waist. The light on the coffee table flares brilliantly and then goes out. 

“Aziraph- Az- Aziraphale.” 

Crowley’s whole body is trembling, buzzing with the sort of demonic energy he usually despises feeling. He’s losing all his control. He still hasn’t opened his eyes. 

“Look , oh please sweetheart, darling boy, just look at how perfect you are, look how good you are for me.” 

That’s what does it. For me. 

He can do that, he can be good for Aziraphale. He’s not good. He hasn’t been able to be good in millennia and he never will be and it hurts so much but - 

But he can be good for Aziraphale. Just for him, just this time. He opens his eyes and looks. 

It’s a bit darker now since Crowley accidentally killed the light - it’s warmer. The room is bigger than the front of the store but still manages to feel close, comforting, all soft and gold just like Aziraphale, and Crowley almost doesn’t recognize himself. 

He’s clutching at Aziraphale like he will die if they’re separated, arms trembling, naked and shaking in Aziraphale’s lap and his skin looks - like paper, sort of. Like the soft vanilla-smelling kind Aziraphale loves so much. It glows in the low light, almost like it used to, and that sends a vicious pang of melancholy all the way through Crowley’s chest before he can stop it. 

His wings have never been so big here, on earth. Crowley’s shocked to find that in this light they go all iridescent like a bird’s, like an oil slick. Every feather moves with its own light, like a tiny little galaxy is in each one. It’s sort of beautiful, it really is. 

He meets his own eyes with real honest fear; he’s always hated them the most, always felt at his most terrible looking at them.  

Here they are gold like a cat’s, pupils big and greedy instead of the scared little pinpricks they usually are and Crowley suddenly doesn’t feel terrible at all. 

Aziraphale loves him. In the light of it even Crowley looks beautiful. 

When he turns his eyes back to Aziraphale’s face he can’t see him. There seem to be quite a number of unshed tears blocking the way, wavering dramatically in Crowley’s eyes, and really, he hadn’t meant to be such a sap. 

But he is.

“Better?” Aziraphale asks, pushing Crowley’s hair out of his eyes, leaning forward to kiss the single tear that had the - the audacity to fall down Crowley’s cheek. 

Crowley nods and kisses him again, and something changes very drastically indeed. 

Aziraphale murmurs Good against his mouth and then picks him entirely up off his cock and drops him back down again. 

The other light in the shop flares and shatters. Crowley curses and his whole body clenches tight in shock at how good it feels, and Aziraphale says it again, much darker this time. 

“Very good.” 

“F-fucking hell. Aziraph- ale. Fuck.” 

Aziraphale seems to like hearing Crowley stumble over his name very much, because his hips snap up brutally at the sound of it. Crowley’s going to pass out from all the gasping. 

One more medium-sized miracle - Crowley can tell it’s bigger because he can smell it coming, like starlight and distant trumpets - and Crowley’s on his hands and knees over a truly awful bedspread. 

“Honestly angel,” he says to the bedspread, “you’ve really got to consider redecora- oh m- fuck, shit, h- shit -”

No waiting this time either, then. And no soft gentle encouragements. 

No, this time is just Crowley on all fours drooling onto the bed, Aziraphale bent over him, fucking him so suddenly, so hard and so fast Crowley has to actually use a bit of his Power to stop from being destroyed, Aziraphale whispering praise that is biting in its sincerity, praise that burns him. 

He isn’t even sure it’s coming out of Aziraphale’s mouth but he hears it all the same. 

-Perfect, beautiful boy, all mine, all mine- 

“Greedy,” Crowley gasps, fingers curling into the bedspread under him until they turn white. “G- greedy fuckin’ angel, you are-”

-Yes yes I am, so greedy all for you just for you, can’t get enough of you, darling, sweetheart, angel -

Hearing Aziraphale call him that has Crowley suddenly sobbing, loud and desperate, open-mouthed and wet into the pillow under him, and outside in the streets of London all the lights in a square mile suddenly flare so bright it’s like it’s the middle of the day, and the candle by Aziraphale’s bedside flares so high it licks the ceiling, and somewhere very far away a supernova starts a few years early and eats up a whole star system - 

-My Crowley, my Crowley, mine, so good, my good boy, just for me -

“Y- yeah, yes, y-” Crowley’s voice trembles and cracks over this next particular word, “Yours, yours, all for y- you, always for you.” 

And Aziraphale’s fucking him with no trace of gentleness or hesitancy, he’s fucking him like he’s made of holy fire and the untempered energy of a thousand thousand burning stars because he is

It jars Crowley’s very heart in his chest. He can’t think of anything except how hot, how deep, how brilliant it feels inside him, Aziraphale, Aziraphale - 

-Aziraphale-

Aziraphale actually grabs Crowley by the hair then, puts his other hand on the back of Crowley’s neck and pushes him down till his chest touches the bed, hand tangled in his hair just holding his head against the pillow with a strength that sends a genuine thrill of fear through Crowley. 

He’s being lit up from the inside out. He feels like a cosmic radiation storm. 

“Oh, my god, angel, f- fuck -”

Aziraphale leans over him and bites the back of Crowley’s shoulder, and now Aziraphale is shaking, voice back inside his chest instead of everywhere, whispering things he doesn’t even seem to be aware of: 

“Mine, mine, mine, so good, god, you’re so fucking good, Crowley -”

Crowley’s eyes roll back in his head. The candle on the table turns a brilliant, unnatural blue. He’d never imagined Aziraphale talking like this. 

Aziraphale notices, absolute bastard that he is, and then he’s pulling all the way out and pushing all the way back in in a long, slow, unforgiving rhythm that is so methodical Crowley thinks it might kill him. 

“Perfect boy, all mine, doing so well, look at you, look how pretty you take it, Crowley, you can hardly even fit it all in you, fuck.”

The distant thought occurs to Crowley that he’d like to have words with whoever taught Aziraphale to talk like this, but it’s promptly fucked out of him. 

Aziraphale’s hand leaves the back of Crowley’s neck to wrap around his previously horribly neglected cock and out of the corner of his eye Crowley sees a shudder of brilliant iridescent color roll all the way down his wings like a wave. 

It’s so wet, his cock. He didn’t tell it to do that. It feels unspeakably good under Aziraphale’s hand, slipping so easily through the ring of Aziraphale’s fingers Crowley can scarcely think of it. It hurts, the pleasure, it’s too much, it’s too bright, he can’t take it. 

Aziraphale is so far inside him Crowley thinks he will never be rid of him again, wrapped all around him and holding him down so perfectly, so unavoidably, eternal. 

Crowley’s screaming. He’s wailing like he’s in pain, he’s never felt anything like this, and all the sudden out of nowhere the sky over London opens up and a torrent of too-hot summer rain slams against Aziraphale’s window. 

“I - I’m-” Crowley feels like he’s balancing on the edge of a cliff, about to tumble off backwards. He’s reeling with vertigo. The rain is ceaseless, unnatural. His doing, somehow. “A- angel. Angel, angel, I’m gonna-”

“One more second, darling, just one - more, just wait a bit - more for me, wait for me.” 

Crowley opens his mouth and nothing but a tiny squeak comes out, he’s drawn so tight he feels like he’s going to snap into a thousand pieces. Aziraphale’s still sliding a hand over Crowley’s weeping, burning-hot cock, still snapping his hips into him so perfectly it skirts the edge of hurting. 

A crack of enormous, earth-splitting lightning illuminates the whole city, a brilliant supernatural gold, and it sears against Crowley’s eyelids and then Aziraphale’s hips are stuttering into him and Aziraphale’s saying, “Now, now, darling boy, do it now, come for me now.” 

Something happens to the air. It wavers, as if it’s found its hands full with nowhere to put anything down. Crowley screams like he’s dying, wings illuminated very briefly with the multicolored light of a thousand stars, and Aziraphale goes still and deep inside him and sighs Crowley’s name across too many planes of reality at once, so that Crowley’s name echoes through a tear in the fabric of spacetime, leaking out in little bits in different times and places. 

The rain tapers off. The people of London stop hearing bells in the distance. 

Crowley collapses and Aziraphale collapses on top of him. 

He starts to laugh almost as soon as he gets his breath, and he doesn’t seem able to stop. Aziraphale’s naked now, oh look at that. Crowley thinks he ought to stop laughing and enjoy it, except he feels sort of like he imagines the inside of a helium balloon might feel. 

After a long time and a lot of laughing and some negotiating of limbs - Crowley’s always seem to be a bit pointier and ganglier than most - Crowley finds himself with Aziraphale’s head in his lap. 

Aziraphale’s hair when Crowley starts stroking it is very soft, and very curly, like a Renaissance drawing of a cherub. He wonders if it’s by design or just an accident.

Aziraphale hums in that wonderful, contented way he has, and Crowley murmurs, “You really are a hedonist, angel.” 

Aziraphale says, “Yes, I know.” 

“I don’t think I can move my legs.” 

“Don’t.” 

“What about -”

“Stay, Crowley. Please.” 

Crowley looks at him and the inside of his chest feels like it’s expanding, like a little galaxy is being born inside him. 

“Stuck with me now,” Crowley says, whispering all the sudden. The rain stops, leaving just them and the rising sun and warm wet asphalt and fogging windows. 

“Always?” 

“Always.”