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If You Were Church

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You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

***

Change is slow in coming.

Summer drags toward its end heaving hot, reluctant sighs of dry breath that rattle parched grasses and send the residents of London scurrying for shade like ants under a magnifying glass. The back half of September looms with the promise of cool breezes and chilly rain, but in the meantime, the hot weeks plod along with all the self-satisfaction of a job well done.

Or maybe just relief.

Well done, boys, we made it! By the skin of our teeth, but by golly, here we still are.

Not, of course, that any but a spare few pick up on the nuances.

Crowley feels it under his skin, in his bones, in the uncomfortably literal sense. The extra couple of vertebrae in his spine ache with the suggestion of slipping back into a pile of sinuous coils and finding a warm stone under which to take cover. Waiting for someone to pop out and call false alarm and set all the sirens to wailing again.

But as the weeks progress, he can’t shake the new sensation that starts to overcome him. That of being utterly, and for the first time in his existence that he’s aware of, unmonitored.

“No word from your lot?” he asks Aziraphale at dinner, for perhaps the dozenth time this week.

“Not so much as a feather,” Aziraphale tells him. He gives Crowley an infuriatingly understanding little smile over his egg tart that Crowley pretends not to notice. “Yours?”

Crowley shakes his head and butters a scone. It’s strange, ever since the apocalypse-that-wasn’t, he’s found himself feeling...hungry. Well, maybe not in the human sense. Or in the same way as Aziraphale, who lives his life through a series of comfortable cravings. It’s more of a deep gnawing at the back of his mind. A sense of something missing, of a void that needs filling.

Unsettling, really, when he thinks about it that way.

Instead, he eats the scone, and then another, and then half the tray of vol-au-vents that arrives a few minutes later. Aziraphale casts him a betrayed look.

“You’ve got quite an appetite today,” he says, with a truly angelic lack of passive-aggressive inflection.

“Nothing like the world nearly ending to remind you what you’re missing,” Crowley replies, which is not entirely untrue.

Something about this statement makes Aziraphale’s ears go pink, and he hastily flags down a waiter and orders another round of vol-au-vents. “Well in that case you really must try another scone. With the clotted cream, this time,” he says, pressing the little dish on Crowley. “It’s positively sinful— oh dear.”

He goes even pinker, but Crowley just snorts and toasts him with the scone.

They end up back at the bookshop, with the promise of port and air conditioning, despite the building’s ductwork rounding the bend on two hundred years. The back room is cool and dim, and the couch is soft and shabby and welcoming.

Aziraphale passes him a glass and takes the seat next to him, and Crowley has to stop himself immediately moving closer. He can smell the faint scent of Aziraphale’s cologne mingling with the sweet liquor, and the warmth he puts off is magnetic, even after the oppressive dwindling summer outside. It sparks another pang of that hunger, that yearning that’s been burning low in Crowley for weeks now. He thinks, maybe, that he knows what it wants.

Something must register on his face, because Aziraphale asks, “Everything alright, my dear? You’ve been quieter than usual this evening.”

“Nnh. Fine.” Crowley swallows his port in a couple of large, stinging gulps, and watches as the glass refills itself. “I’ve been thinking. Well, sort of. A little. Not a lot,” Satan’s tits, where the fuck is he trying to go with this? He makes an unintelligible noise in his throat and tries again. “Now that all the apocalypse...stuff...seems to have died down, maybe we can let ourselves, uh. Relax. A little.”

Yep, he’s going to finish his glass of port and then go out to the kerb and pitch himself tidily right into traffic. Excellent.

Aziraphale’s ears bypass pink and move straight into a hue usually reserved for boiling lobster. “Crowley, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you were flirting with me.”

“Shut up,” Crowley snaps on reflex, wishing to Hell that he hadn’t taken his sunglasses off when they’d come inside. He glares down into his glass so hard the liquid starts to simmer. “Yes. No. I mean. I’m trying to, anyway. Fuck.”

“Well, you may be reassured to hear that you’re no better at it now than you were in Rome. Or Paris. Or Taipei.”

“And you’re no better at making jokes,” Crowley mutters. But he abruptly shuts up as Aziraphale moves closer, taking Crowley’s glass from him and setting it aside with his own before leaning in.

It’s been like this for nearly two millennia. A sort of postscript in the Arrangement that comes into play not often, in human terms, but with a sort of dependable regularity. Drawing them together like a compass needle to true north.

The hunger in Crowley surges to a swelling tide. He thinks, This, this!

He pushes a hand into Aziraphale’s hair and pulls him closer, halfway climbing over his lap as Aziraphale goes pliant and yielding against him with a soft, pleased sigh. Crowley crowds him back into the cushions greedily, swallowing down each little noise Aziraphale makes. Wanting him louder and closer and more, always more.

Aziraphale seems to understand. At least, he doesn’t try to suggest anything ridiculous like going upstairs to the bed he keeps there almost exclusively for these occasions. His lips part for Crowley’s tongue and his legs fall open so Crowley can properly straddle his thigh, grinding shamelessly until he has to force himself to slow down. Desperation is never a good look on a demon.

Only, then Aziraphale decides to grab a very un-angel-like handful of his arse, hauling him in closer and sort of nudging his leg up just-so against Crowley’s cock through two layers of trouser fabric and. Well. Crowley thinks that maybe desperation can look just fine on anybody, it’s just a matter of proper lighting and the right accessories.

“My darling, what’s gotten into you,” Aziraphale murmurs against his cheek, head falling back in an open-mouthed sigh as Crowley’s teeth find the soft slope of his throat. Just enough to sting. “Oh goodness, not that I’m — ah! — complaining, mind.”

And yeah, sure, maybe there’s historically been a bit more…awkward fumbling is probably the right term for it. Not once they get going, they’ve always had a knack for the mechanics, but ‘foreplay’ in their terms usually amounts to exponentially more drinking, a painful few aborted attempts at seduction (almost invariably on Crowley’s part), and a heated argument. Crowley wonders now, distantly, if he shouldn’t have at least engaged in the ritual pining glances and fleeting, maybe-accidental brushes of hand on hand that’ve begun to feel like the opening notes to a comfortably familiar sonata.

He blames the apocalypse.

“I blame the apocalypse,” he says out loud, breath tickling Aziraphale’s neck so he shivers delightfully. “All the bloody whatsit, you know—” he frees a hand from Aziraphale’s lapel to wave it vaguely, “drama.”

“Ah.” The tailor-perfect crinkles at the corners of Aziraphale’s eyes make an appearance, his smile so soft and fond and tearing Crowley’s sense of aching need wide open. Crowley thinks that this time last year, that look of understanding in the angel’s heavy-lidded gaze might’ve made him want to throw himself off a pier. Now, though, he’s only grateful for what can be momentarily left unsaid. “I’ll have to thank it if it ever comes back around.”

“Still terrible at jokes,” Crowley mumbles, clenching his jaw around any expression that might be horribly mistaken for besotted by the misinformed layperson.

He kisses Aziraphale again, feeling his body twist sinuously under the angel’s hands. Aziraphale’s fingers make such quick work of Crowley’s buttons one might almost consider it miraculous.

This is another unspoken detail of this particular addendum to the Agreement.

Crowley likes to feel everything. All the corporeal nuances and imperfections and beautiful, clumsy rituals only possible with their human forms. He basks in the rawness of it. Feels more and more clever every time at how they’re each the only one of their respective kinds ever, so far as he knows, to discover this. It makes him greedy for it, and possessive in such a typically demonic sense that he’s a little self-conscious.

He stands just long enough to shimmy out of his trousers before reseating himself straddling Aziraphale’s lap, trying for the life of him to remember how Aziraphale’s infernally outdated flies work. To Crowley’s surprise, however, Aziraphale tips them sideways and positions himself above, bracketing Crowley’s hips with his knees.

Crowley moans happily into his mouth, only opening his eyes in surprise when he finds the fabric he’d been fumbling with gone, his fingers only meeting hot, smooth skin. An Effort has clearly already been made.

“I would’ve had it,” Crowley says, more a statement for posterity than real protest.

“Yes, well,” Aziraphale says, cheeks flushed. “You’re not the only one with needs.”

But he compromises by letting Crowley shuck his soft jacket and shirt for him and make quick work of the bow tie as he grinds their hips together, and oh. Yes. Crowley loves these small, fragile, soft vessels, all self-contained and built for such delightfully messy pleasure.

He buries his fingers in Aziraphale’s hair again, pulling him down and holding him there as Crowley kisses the lingering sweetness of the port from his mouth. Their legs tangle and Crowley cheats a little, putting just a touch more bend into his spine and twist to his hips than may be strictly human. Aziraphale’s breath hitches against his lips and Crowley does it again, this time earning a soft moan.

Crowley’s starting to feel the hunger building on itself; the need for more, more, until he’s more than a little mad with it. Legs twisting around Aziraphale’s waist in his desperate bid to be even closer. There’s something about the physical weight of their bodies together, of the heat and their sweat, and the bright ache of Aziraphale’s fingers pressing into him, that seems to answer his new, gnawing appetite.

He’s cheated just a bit, sparing a thought or two to make things slick and smooth and perfect when he rides back on Aziraphale’s hand. Even if it’s never quite enough like this, never as much as he needs. But then the fingers are gone, replaced by Aziraphale’s cock, and Crowley could come from just this. From how it feels like they’re crashing into each other and maybe if he can just get a little closer, let Aziraphale in a little deeper, he’ll forget where one ends and the other begins.

And, hey. That’s new.

Because he can feel it. Sort of. A kind of deep-down prickle and spark that doesn’t seem to be coming from himself, but he’s aware of all the same. Almost like it’s seeking him out.

Crowley opens his eyes to double-check that they’re still in human form, feeling instantly ridiculous when Aziraphale breathes, “Are you sure you’re quite alright?” Even as his hips work and he starts fucking Crowley in earnest.

“I sssssswear— if you — hnnh! — asssk me that one — fuck — moretime—”

Aziraphale gives him a wry look that shouldn’t be possible for someone diligently fucking an occult force through a velveteen sofa.

“My dear,” he says, soft as a sigh against Crowley’s cheek. Between them, Aziraphale’s fingers curl around Crowley’s cock where it’s hard and leaking against his stomach. “Let’s not pretend I don’t remember what you’ve told me. Why you want me. That you like to be seen.” He drops a kiss on Crowley’s gasping mouth, hand starting to move in rhythm with his hips. “That you want to be cared for. Attended to.”

Never said that,” Crowley hisses in a single breath. He’s pretty sure he’ll fly apart if he doesn’t hold his atoms together with sheer force of will. “Paraphrasssing.”

“Yes, well.” Aziraphale’s breath is coming quicker now, despite his infuriating ability to be able to form full sentences at a time like this. “‘I want you to worship me like a false fucking idol’ feels just a touch blasphemous, don’t you think?”

“Kind of the point,” Crowley manages. He cants his hips just so and fucks himself into Aziraphale’s hand, feeling himself go taut as a bowstring before spilling hot and wet between them with a wordless shout.

They both go still, Crowley’s pulse thundering under a tinny ringing in his ears.

“Are you..?” Aziraphale asks, after a moment or two.

Crowley nods. “Yeah, yeah. Yep.”

Aziraphale starts moving again with a kind of shifted concentration, pinning Crowley’s knee against the cushions and fucking him deeper, quicker, excruciatingly thorough. The new bright, sharp sensation redoubles, sending off sparks that seem to register at a deeper level of conscious sensation. Or maybe a higher level. Much, much higher. And his hunger rises up to greet it, seething and surging and ready to devour.

More, it urges. More more more moremoremoremoremore

“More,” Crowley gasps, twining himself around Aziraphale, fingers dug in just below where Aziraphale’s wings could be. “More, more,” over and over until it doesn’t even feel like a word anymore. Because, Hey, do you intend to be fucking me on two planes of existence right now? seems like an unnecessary distraction.

Aziraphale says, “Oh!” with this perfect, surprised little exhalation of breath, and Crowley’s snake tongue darts up, tracing the shell of his ear as he comes apart.

Crowley feels it rush through him, in the literal sense, and into the waiting, gnawing appetite that opens wide to receive it. The sense of joy and pleasure and satisfaction, and of...of grace.

Crowley jerks like he’s been burned, and Aziraphale yelps, barely catching himself from toppling off the couch. He starts, “Are you—” but seems to catch himself in this, too, and instead just ends up with, “um?”

Crowley blinks up at him. He feels a little like he’s been burned. Not physically, not here, but…

“Maybe you could just warn a guy next time you want to break out the divinity in bed?” The initial searing sting has settled down to a delicious, satisfied ache, and the edges of his discorporate consciousness flex and curl around it, soaking up the afterglow.

“Before I what?”

If this were anyone else, Crowley would have just assumed he was being fucked with. But Aziraphale’s face is the picture of open, honest confusion.

“Whatever you did just then.” Crowley waves a hand generally to indicate the fucking. You turned on some kind of angel mojo...didn’t you?”

The last words end in a question, as Aziraphale only looks more confused.

“I didn’t do anything differently,” he says. He’s starting to look genuinely worried, and Crowley has the immediate urge to FIX IT FIX IT NOW YOU IMBECILE, closely followed by another, more demonic urge to do nothing of the sort and instead knock over as many delicate tchotchkies as possible while fleeing the premises.

“Just been awhile, I guess,” Crowley manages. He does his best to ignore the deep, thrumming hunger that, if anything, only feels more insistent now that it’s tasted something it likes.

“True,” Aziraphale agrees, thoughtfully. “I’m sure it’s possible I got a little...carried away, in the moment. It was,” he blushes, busying himself with sorting out his trousers from the heap of clothing strewn on the carpet, “very nice.”

“Very nice?” Crowley echoes with a snort, reaching for his own pants. “Port is nice, angel. An evening at the opera is nice. What we just did was bloody fantastic.”

“Yes it was, wasn’t it?” Aziraphale’s cheeks are still flushed with color, but he meets Crowley’s eyes now with a sort of glowing pride softened by that expression of pure, unfettered adoration.

Crowley can count the number of times he’s had that look turned on him. And each time it pulls him down a little deeper. That’s why they call it falling in love, he thinks. He knows what it’s like to fall. To think you know your place in things, that you have all the answers, only to find how very wrong you are, losing any equilibrium you thought you had. This time, though, he thinks there might be a softer landing.

He opens his mouth, but can’t seem to find the words to articulate properly what it is he wants.

That sense of hunger, of yearning is driving him forward, pushing him like a magnet toward the one thing he’s wanted for so long he can’t even let himself think about it.

He looks helplessly at Aziraphale and says, “It really was.”

His tone must give Aziraphale pause, because he stops in fastening his shirt buttons and looks up at Crowley, and something like understanding dawns across his face like a sunrise.

Aziraphale hesitates and then says, “I dare say, under the current circumstances...perhaps this is something we could do more often?”

“Yes,” says Crowley. “Brilliant. Yeah.”

“Perhaps we could even, um. See a bit more of each other? In a non-work capacity.”

Crowley snorts before he can help himself. “A non-work capacity?”

“I don’t see you doing any better!”

“I’m a demon, you can’t fault me! Romance just doesn’t come as naturally to my sort.” And alright, this feels much closer to their usual routine. If, perhaps, the subject matter has taken a sharp turn.

Aziraphale, however, draws up short. “Romance?”

“Ennhh,” says Crowley, deeply regretting every word he’s ever said. “You. You know what I mean.”

They stare at each other for a long moment.

Aziraphale says, “Yes, I think I do.”

He sounds like a man shedding a very heavy burden after an unimaginably long journey. The corners of his mouth turn up in a little smile, and he reaches to brush fingers down the sharp angle of Crowley’s cheek. Crowley’s heart rends itself apart in his chest with all the force of a dying star.

“Okay, okay,” he says, “you don’t have to make it weird.”

 

There’s an old saying, that if something walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck (and if water rolls off its back), then what you’ve got is, most likely, a duck.

If Crowley had been expecting much change in routine adjusting to these new developments, he’s a bit surprised to find that it’s not so much the routine that needs changing.

They dine at the Ritz, and the Ivy, and Simpson’s in the Strand. Aziraphale reads an article that sends them to A Wong, where they spend upwards of three hours navigating through the tasting menu. They go to the opera, and to concerts, and the cinema. They drink. They drink a lot. They also have a lot of sex. It’s all gloriously corporeal.

One thing that has changed, even if the routine hasn’t, is Aziraphale seeming to take license in broadcasting the full spectrum of his feelings in a way he’d apparently never allowed himself before. It’s a little like having a speaker pointed directly at you, following everywhere you go and blaring a jubilant symphony of incandescent love and adoration at ear-shattering volumes.

When Aziraphale kisses him now, it’s with a new, ferocious tenderness. He seems to glow under Crowley’s hands, and under Crowley’s gaze, and Crowley basks in it, soaking it up like the sun on his scales. They fuck with a kind of eloquent intensity that leaves Crowley feeling bare and exposed. The smoldering wreckage of his soul on full display for Aziraphale, who regards it as something precious and sacred and altogether whole.

They could have lost this, they almost lost this, he keeps thinking, with every bite of food and sip of wine and the feeling of Aziraphale between his thighs.

Crowley wants more.

Of course he does. He’s a demon, after all. Insatiable is printed on the wrapper.

Now, though, that feeling of ravenous hunger has taken up residence in his chest, gnawing at anything and everything it can get; every touch, every glance, every taste and sound and smell and thought until he’s wrung-out and a little frantic. Some small, foolish part of Crowley had assumed that maybe if they did this, finally did the thing right, that the hunger would be satisfied. If anything, it’s had the opposite effect.

He’s afraid to bring it up with Aziraphale, for the practical reason of having no idea how to properly articulate it, but also because he can’t bear the idea that Aziraphale might become, after all this time, frightened of him. Don’t be alarmed, love, but I seem to have developed a metaphysical appetite that’s got a taste for your divine grace. Crowley shudders, thinking about it.

At least, he’s pretty sure that’s what it is. After the first time they’d had sex following the apocalypse, he’d watched Aziraphale for any signs of misuse, but Aziraphale only seemed, if anything, more buoyant and satisfied than usual. If the feeling Crowley’d had of that gnawing hunger inside him snatching up and devouring the grace as it passed into him had any ill effects, they certainly didn’t show.

“Have you— have you noticed any, uh. Differences? Since we swapped bodies?”

The words just sort of spill out of him in a breathless tumble, which Crowley regrets the second Aziraphale stops what he’s doing with his tongue between Crowley’s legs and looks up in confusion. “Is that a trick question?”

Crowley’s made a decidedly feminine Effort this time around, and had been enjoying all the perks that more nerve endings and multiple orgasms have to offer. He hates himself a little, he really does, but he hasn’t been able to shake the worry festering in the back of his mind and making it increasingly difficult to concentrate at times like this.

“I just mean, does it feel different at all to you. On,” he grasps for words, “on an ethereal level.”

Aziraphale seems to consider, lips pursed. “I suppose I feel more...connected. But I think that’s more to do with finally acknowledging our feelings after all this time.”

Crowley grimaces. “Could you maybe not talk about feelings when you’re down there?”

“You brought it up!” Aziraphale says indignantly, but he strokes a couple fingers over Crowley’s clit and smiles as Crowley’s heels dig into the sheets on either side of him. “Why, have you?”

“Here and there,” Crowley tries to say, but the words come out in more of a moan as Aziraphale’s fingers slip into him where he’s already wet and thrumming with pleasure. “I— ah! I only really feel it when you fuck me, when you come inside me. It’s like—”

Crowley breaks off with a yelp as Aziraphale goes back to work with his tongue, licking and teasing as he fingers Crowley right back up to the edge again with a merciless focus that’s frankly unsettling in an allegedly merciful being. He only backs off when Crowley is arching off the bed, fingers tangled in his disheveled white-blond hair.

“When I come inside you?” Aziraphale prompts, as if without interlude. “Yes? What happens?”

Bastard,” Crowley groans.

Aziraphale beams at him, shifting up to fit their bodies together and hooking one of Crowley’s legs over his shoulder as he pushes in. His eyelashes flutter and his lips part in concentration, and for a moment all thought is lost in the slow, deep thrusting in and out.

“Tell me,” Aziraphale breathes, resituating his grip on Crowley’s thigh. “Tell me what it feels like.”

And Crowley has spent days, weeks now, worried about frightening him. But all he can think to say is, “I think. I think that when you do, some of your divine grace stays inside me for a little bit.”

It sounds sappy and revolting like that, but better than frightening and unsettling, especially while Aziraphale continues to fuck him. Starting to speed up as they both get close.

And that’s the thing, really. Crowley can tell now when Aziraphale is about to come. The sparkling, effervescent warmth grows brighter, starts to reach out toward the waiting hunger inside himself, as if it knows what Crowley needs so badly.

Aziraphale doesn’t seem at all turned off by sappy and revolting. If anything, his effort redoubles until Crowley is nearly knocked into the headboard of the bed. “That m-makes sense, I s-suppose,” he manages between breaths, and Crowley wants to say, It does? but gets distracted by his own orgasm hitting him like the fist of an angry god.

He opens his eyes to find Aziraphale watching him with such raw, open love lit up across his face that it’s like being fixed with a spotlight. Aziraphale doesn’t stop moving, though, and a moment later Crowley gets hit by an entirely different and vastly more intimate sensation. As the low, hot pulse spreads through his physical body, that empty, gnawing hunger in the periphery of his consciousness greedily basks in the overwhelming and benevolent grace that washes through him like a spring rain.

They lie tangled and gasping and delightfully warm for several long, quiet minutes. Crowley turns his nose into the soft, pale curve of Aziraphale’s neck and his tongue darts out, tasting salt and sweat and just a hint of ozone. Aziraphale makes a quiet, happy noise into his hair.

“Did you feel it, then?”

Crowley nods, senses still thrumming. “You don’t?”

Aziraphale seems to think for a moment. “Well, I’m an angel, after all. Perhaps it’s not a matter of my feeling anything different now, as having felt it all along. If it’s something you only noticed after our little switch?”

“What, like being in your corporeal body re-activated some angel-sense that got turned off when I Fell?”

It would sound utterly ridiculous saying the words out loud, if it weren’t the only working theory Crowley’s been able to come up with so far that makes any kind of sense.

“I don’t know that that’s precisely how I would’ve put it, but in a nutshell, yes.” Aziraphale shifts, coming to lie still partway draped over Crowley, and tugs the duvet up around them.

“I suppose...I suppose there’s no real way of knowing, is there.”

Aziraphale hums. “No, I suppose not.”

There’s silence between them again, and Crowley half wonders if Aziraphale has fallen asleep when he says quietly, “There’s a bit more to it.”

When Aziraphale raises his head to look at him, his eyes are bright and awake, blissful post-coital peace marred with a look of concern. “Oh?”

Crowley fidgets. There’s still time to backpedal, to avoid or amend or straight up lie, but his worry is beginning to borderline preoccupation, and just. Just damn Aziraphale making it completely impossible for Crowley to make selfish decisions around him. He’d always been a generally rubbish demon, but this was becoming embarrassing.

“I can feel that sense of— of grace, or whatever, from you. But I can also feel something else, like this sort of hunger that craves it. Seems to feed on it,” he says in a rush, not meeting Aziraphale’s eyes. He leaves off the part where, for just a moment as that grace surges through him, into the devouring hunger, Crowley feels an urge to do the same. To consume Aziraphale’s very existence until all of that glowing, immaculate divinity is inside of him.

It’s a weird feeling, really, that stirs in his demonic hind-brain. An unwanted reminder of where he comes from that slithers out from some long-forgotten recess and settles to a low, insistent thrum under his skin. It feels itchy and uncomfortable and, when he’s not thinking too hard about it, good. Instinctual.

Now that’s a horrifying thought.

Crowley doesn’t miss his divinity, not really. So far as he can remember, it had felt like being crowded into a full-body angora onesie that was about half a size too small and which you could never take off. Itchy, constricting, and oppressively luxurious. But apparently wearing an angel’s skin for a morning had stirred something up from the quagmire, some primeval reminder of what was taken when he Fell.

He doesn’t say any of that out loud. He’s terrified that what little he does say will be enough to ruin everything, and for a moment, watching Aziraphale’s expression, he’s sure this fear is about to be vindicated.

But then Aziraphale asks, “Does it…hurt?”

Crowley opens his mouth, and then closes it again. He says, “Er, no.”

“It’s not uncomfortable?”

“Well, no, not physically,” Crowley says, unable to keep the slight tone of incredulity out of his voice. “But it does get a bit distracting, worrying that I could be damaging your— your immaculate ethereal soul or...whatever,” he finishes, somewhat lamely.

When he chances a glance up, Aziraphale is staring at him, practically glowing again, and shaking with quiet laughter. “Oh, my dear. Oh, Crowley, I hardly think...goodness. No, I don’t think you’re in any danger of that.”

EXCUSE ME, Crowley barely refrains from shouting, BUT I AM AN ACTUAL BLOODY DEMON, REMEMBER. SOME MIGHT EVEN SAY THAT COUNTS FOR SOMETHING, AS OCCULT THREATS GO.

Instead, he chokes out, “I guess. That is, if you’re sure.”

In answer, Aziraphale kisses him, tangling their legs together and sighing against his lips, “Now tell me. Does it feel better, this hunger, when it’s fed?”

 

The simplest answer to this question is yes, but a more honest version would be for a little while.

It’s a bit like being a sieve, made the right size and shape, but without the capacity to hold. As an angel, he’d been a vessel for divine love. Brimming with it even when it had overwhelmed him. Crowley had forgotten that feeling since being cast out which, he realizes now, was no small mercy.

Demons are driven by an innate, all-consuming and covetous greed. Some might argue that things like hate and anger and even fear are significant as well, but those, so far as Crowley is concerned, are all secondary players. Supporting roles for the devastating, soul-rending loss all demons have experienced and, even if they don’t properly remember, desire nothing more than to steal, borrow, or cheat their way to regaining.

He’s gone millennia as a footman in an army whose one single agenda has been to take back what was ripped away, and it suddenly occurs to him that probably not a one of Hell’s legion masses could tell you what that is, exactly. Or at least, what it had felt like.

But now he knows. He remembers, like the cover of some forgotten well torn off, exposing the fetid, bottomless pit beneath, long dried-up and craving to be filled. He can feel the Divine again, even if he can’t hold onto it; mostly he can just sense its loss.

And here he’d spent the last six-thousand years thinking that it was more than punishment enough, going through eternity as the companion of someone who didn’t understand any of his jokes on the word ineffable.

Crowley’s never really gone in for all the Hellish theatrics. Possessions and desecrations of the flesh and all the generally grisley accoutrement that’ve won demons their reputation just aren’t his bag. So now this newly unfolded appetite that seems, pardon the stereotype, innately demonic feels like an unwelcome intrusion.

Consume, it whispers to him, shimmering in the hazy places where his earthbound consciousness laps at a lower plane of existence. Where vast, inky wings blot out unplotted stars like the convergence of a hundred-thousand black holes. Rend the angel’s skin from his bones and devour his very essence from this plane and the next. Tear his grace from him and revel in his immaculate despair.

A part of him wants to run. Thinks of taking off like he’d wanted to before the apocalypse-that-wasn’t. Go and hide and exile himself far in the outer reaches of the universe where any risk he might pose to Aziraphale would be safely irrelevant. Unfortunately and despite his best efforts, Crowley has never been a coward.

Now that he’s better acquainted with them, he regards these urges much the same as any other directive from either Heaven or Hell, deciding to write them off as an unpleasant but ignorable suggestion.

Certain details are almost enjoyable, once Crowley starts to get used to them. The physical hunger, for one, that’s apparently manifested as some kind of desperate expression of its metaphysical counterpart. For the first time in his existence, Crowley thinks he understands humans’ appreciation of food. Even Aziraphale, who loves food as he loves all fine things, doesn’t seem to truly experience physical hunger with any sense of urgency. He does, however, delight in Crowley’s newfound interest, and they spend a couple of weeks thoroughly distracted as he whisks them both off on a whirlwind tour of all his favorite restaurants in Europe and Asia.

There is also Aziraphale himself. Crowley thinks he’d probably have gone mad weeks, if not centuries ago, were it not for the innumerable acts of boundless affection bestowed upon him. He’d never realized in all this time that each one, from lifting a wing to shelter him from the oncoming storm to casually incinerating the traffic warden’s ticket pad each carried in itself a hint of that miraculous grace. Now that he can feel each one, he can also feel the vaguely possessive note they carry with them. They mark him like fingerprints.

Aziraphale blushes when Crowley mentions it in the shop one day, glancing away and clasping his hands in front of him the way he always does when he’s flustered.

“It’s not as if I meant it like that,” he says, a bit breathlessly. “But I suppose...I suppose I do like knowing that even if we went centuries without seeing each other, some small part of me was left with you.”

Crowley whistles. “Angel, I’m impressed. If I didn’t know better, I’d say that was almost creepy.”

“I beg your pardon,” Aziraphale bristles, “it was nothing of the sort! Leave it to you, I suppose, to take what was meant to be an endowment of my feelings and get it twisted all around!”

“I only meant it as a compliment!” Crowley’s temper rises, something about the word twisted leaving an unpleasant taste in the back of his throat. “Keep your feathers on.”

Aziraphale continues to glare at him, but now there’s something like anguish mixed in. He heaves a great breath and then asks, “You don’t think...you don’t think it was wrong of me, do you? To do something like that. Only I wanted so badly for you to, um. Or rather, for us to—”

“Have more?” Crowley finishes for him.

Aziraphale nods mutely.

Crowley sucks on his bottom lip, throwing caution to the wind when he says, “How about tonight you come over to my place?”

Aziraphale stares. “Your place? Really?”

“It’s not as if I’ve never offered,” Crowley says, a tad defensively. “Not my fault you never took me up on it.”

“You offered once,” Aziraphale says, still looking at Crowley like this is some kind of trick. “And it was the night after the apocalypse! I thought you were joking.”

Now it’s Crowley’s turn to stare. “Joking?” he echoes. “Why on Earth would I have joked about that?”

“Because in all our years of knowing each other, you have never once suggested that I so much as come round for afternoon tea!”

“Well for one thing, I don’t usually bother with afternoon tea,” Crowley shoots back. “You know that.”

“Oh, don’t try to change the subject!” Aziraphale snaps. But then he softens, looking at Crowley with something akin to wonder, and maybe even a bit of hope. “You really mean it? You want me to come to your flat?”

“Ennh,” says Crowley, with a vague shrug that he hopes looks a lot more nonchalant than he feels. “What could it hurt?”

 

Crowley would sooner take a bath in holy water than ever admit to the level of nerves he experiences leading the way into his dim, cavernous flat. He ushers Aziraphale down the hall toward the sitting room, flicking lights on as they go and pretending not to notice the look of deep consideration crossing Aziraphale’s face as he catches a glimpse of the stone eagle down the hall.

“I’ll get us something to drink,” Crowley says, too loudly. “Just, um. Make yourself at home, why don’t you.” He gestures vaguely at the sparse room with its stiff-backed, lion-headed chairs, before beelining in the opposite direction toward the kitchen.

He pours them each a generous glass of scotch and takes several deep, steadying breaths before adopting his most casual saunter back to the sitting room. Aziraphale isn’t there.

Of course, he thinks. Of bloody course, he must’ve taken one look and—

“I’m just in here,” calls Aziraphale, from the plants’ room. “Crowley?”

“Scotch,” says Crowley, somewhat unhelpfully. He follows Aziraphale’s voice to find him standing in front of a swath of trailing ivy, and holds out one of the glasses.

“Thank you, dear.” There’s something in Aziraphale’s tone that makes Crowley’s wholly unnecessary heart perform a wholly unnecessary swan-dive into his stomach. He reaches out and strokes a couple of pale, manicured fingers over one of the reaching leaves. “Forgive me, but that eagle statue looked awfully familiar. It’s not the very same that survived your little church-bombing stunt in 1941?”

Crowley takes a long sip of his drink. “Mmhmyeah.”

“Beg your pardon?”

“Yeah,” Crowley says again. “It is.”

“And the sketch on the wall by Leonardo?”

“From the blessing I took on for you in 1502, yep.”

Aziraphale lifts his glass to his lips, but he doesn’t seem to notice what he’s drinking, he’s staring so intently at Crowley. “The red marble desk is from the reconstruction of the Hagia Sophia,” he says quietly, and it isn’t a question this time. “We were both there, I remember.”

“Nothing like a good religious upheaval to earn an easy commendation from down below,” says Crowley, with a somewhat laughable attempt at nonchalance.

“I was apprehended by the empress’s viking guard, if I remember correctly,” Aziraphale says, a soft smile starting to play around the corners of his lips. “You so very kindly waylaid them.”

“Locked them in a tomb is all I did.” Crowley hides a smirk of his own with another sip from his glass. “Might’ve served you right, anyway, sampling the ceremonial wine.”

“How was I to know it was off limits?”

Aziraphale’s expression of pure, beaming fondness makes Crowley’s heart give another swoop, and he blurts, “The chairs came from all that business with the Borgias.”

“Oh yes, of course. That was one of yours, wasn’t it?”

“Not all that mess with the papacy!” Crowley says, indignant. “I believe we have you to thank for that.”

“I tried to make things better!” Aziraphale frets. “It’s not my fault they just managed to use every gift I bestowed against each other. Meanwhile you were off whispering in Lucrezia’s ear.”

“Oh, I just went to a few parties.” Crowley downs the rest of his drink, casting the occasional quelling glance at any plant starting to appear off its guard.

“The one piece I can’t seem to place is that striking statue,” Aziraphale says, in a tone of theatrical nonchalance. When Crowley looks back, Aziraphale’s eyes are twinkling, looking over his shoulder into the next room where Evil maintains its diligent and extremely nude triumph over Good.

“For Satan’s sake, that was a joke,” Crowley groans. He’d been so consumed worrying about all the things Aziraphale would recognize that he’d entirely forgotten that particular detail. “Got drunk one night at this charming little pub in the artisan’s district and the next thing you know I’m performing a temptation without really meaning to, making a suggestion or two to the sculptor that I thought might be a laugh.”

“And then you so kindly took it off his hands.”

Crowley rolls his eyes. “Only after your lot came calling and had the poor bugger strung up for heresy.”

“They’re not my lot,” says Aziraphale, wounded. “I have never supported fanatics any more than you have.”

“Alright, alright. You know what I meant.”

Aziraphale still sees fit to cast him a cool sidelong glance, but his lips are quirked when he says, “Rather dashing, isn’t it?”

If Crowley ever let himself blush, he would’ve done now. Luckily, he doesn’t go in for that sort of thing.

“I suppose, in a certain light.”

Aziraphale merely raises his eyebrows, the picture of innocence. But then he says, “There is one more thing I’m curious about. These plants.”

“What about them?” Crowley casts another perfunctory glare around the room, and a fern in the far corner rustles as it hastily rearranges wispy fronds in hopes of showing off its best angles.

“A few of them,” Aziraphale surveys the room, pointing. “This ivy, that palm over there, the pitcher plants. Would I be wildly out of line to say that they feel...familiar?”

“I may have nicked a few from Eden,” Crowley says, avoiding eye contact as he drains his glass a second time. “You’d be surprised, it was easier than you’d think. They’re better than the rest at taking orders. Or,” he pauses to consider, “maybe that’s not so surprising.”

Aziraphale leans in once more to inspect the ivy that, to Crowley’s deep frustration, twines a friendly little tendril around his finger in greeting.

Suckup,” he mutters.

Aziraphale beams, and when he turns back to look at Crowley, he’s glowing with it. Literally emitting a fine, incandescent shine that all the plants and Crowley himself all seem to lean toward as one.

“My dear,” Aziraphale says softly. Crowley can feel it again now, that greedy, ravenous hunger that snatches for the waves of joy and love and contentment as they emanate from the angel. “I never would have guessed you for the sentimental type.”

“Eccchhhhh,” Crowley says, waving a hand as if to swat away the words. “It’s not...that.”

“You live in a flat of keepsakes dating back six thousand years, I think it’s safe to say—”

“I prefer to think of them more as. As trophies,” Crowley says, cutting him off before this gets wildly out of hand. “You know, like serial killers do.”

Aziraphale just stares at him confusedly. “Why on Earth would a serial killer win trophies? You mean, at badminton and such, when he’s not...serial killing?”

Having not the slightest idea how to even begin addressing this, Crowley frantically redirects. “I just thought, maybe if you saw all of. All of this,” he waves a hand vaguely, indicating the flat at large, “that you might have a better understanding of why I have absolutely no problem with you leaving your mark on me all this time.”

“Oh,” says Aziraphale. And then again, more quietly, “Oh.”

He slips his plump, pretty hand into Crowley’s and leans up to close the few inches difference between them. His lips are soft but insistent, and even as his eyes fall shut Crowley can feel that pearly glow embracing him, enveloping him, filtering into all the cracks and crevices of his greedy, hollow soul.

“Not in front of the plants,” he mumbles, as Aziraphale’s hands slip under his jacket and slide it from his shoulders and onto the floor.

They stumble their way to the bedroom and tumble onto the bed, Aziraphale’s luminescence only amplified by the heavy wood and dark sheets. His mouth is as desperate as Crowley feels, tangling their limbs together and kissing him until Crowley forgets to breathe. Forgets to think. Forgets anything that isn’t skin on skin, flesh against flesh, lips and tongues and teeth and the way Aziraphale moans into his mouth when Crowley’s fingers trace the outline of his hardened cock.

He makes quick work of Aziraphale’s flies this time around, tugging his trousers down and exchanging fingers for his mouth. It’s the kind of visceral human act he loves, even if he cheats with his serpent’s tongue, earning a yelp for his efforts and one of Aziraphale’s hands coming to rest tangled in his hair.

Consume, whispers the voice in the dark. The boundless hunger. Possess him body and soul.

And Crowley does, in the only way that makes sense. Swallowing Aziraphale down and working over him in hot, wet slides of his tongue. Drinking every sigh and moan and shuddered breath from him with greedy enthusiasm.

“What do you want?” Crowley pulls off long enough to ask. Aziraphale’s thighs are flushed and trembling, and Crowley wants to bury his face against the soft flesh and sink his teeth in and—

“Fuck me,” Aziraphale gasps, possibly for the second time. Crowley comes back to himself, forked tongue flickering over the head of Aziraphale’s cock, tasting that familiar tang of ozone.

“Goodness, angel, the mouth on you.”

Aziraphale turns over, the rest of his clothes gone from one blink to the next, and Crowley thinks, You didn’t specify how.

He puts his tongue to use again, and this might be even more fun than sucking cock. He bites and licks and sucks his way downward before pressing in with just the tip of his tongue, drawing out and lathing it over Aziraphale’s rim until the angel’s pressing back for more, and then plunging in deeper. Fucking Aziraphale mercilessly until he’s wet and loose and riding Crowley’s tongue with needy, beautiful gasps.

Crowley holds onto his thighs and pins him still, Aziraphale acquiescing to it like it’s a verbal command. He begs, “Don’t stop, please don’t stop,” and Crowley couldn’t if he tried. The hunger thunders through him, driving him, without need for breath or thought. It urges him onward, long tongue stroking something inside Aziraphale that makes the angel press back for more, cries muffled in the tangled sheets. And then he’s shuddering, moaning, “Yes, yes!” as he comes, and Crowley feels that warm wash of incandescent pleasure lapping at his edges.

He stammers, “Angel, I want to— Can I—?” Already slithering upward, wanting to touch every inch of Aziraphale he can lay his hands on.

“Anything,” Aziraphale breathes, meaning it with all his soul even as Crowley almost wishes he wouldn’t.

Seemingly of its own accord, Crowley’s body has made a choice for itself. Probably right around the same time his clothes took the liberty of disappearing without his conscious command. He pushes in and doesn’t think about the ravenous demand clamoring for blood. For flesh. For possession. It’s had a taste of this angelic body now, from the inside out, and the bitter jealousy rankles. The feel of divine grace etched into every iota of Aziraphale’s vessel, even when he wasn’t inhabiting it, had called up old memories turned sour and corrupted with bitter longing.

It overwhelms him, blurring the edges of this plane with the next, these corporeal bodies with shapes altogether more vast and terrible and perfect in their creation.

He tries to draw away, pull himself back firmly into his human form and nowhere else, but the hunger is thick as tar and starving and relentless. It isn’t until Aziraphale gives a yelp of surprise that he realizes the heavy, dark sensation weighing him down is the mass of his own wings, fully formed and spread wall to wall.

He tries to push them back where they came from, but can’t seem to focus. The hunger is still reaching, clawing forward toward the warm glow of Aziraphale. The warm glow that courses with satisfaction at being finally sought out in return.

“I can feel it,” Aziraphale whispers, almost too quiet for Crowley to notice. “I think? I can feel…you. It feels like you. But, older maybe?”

The words are shaken from him, Crowley buried deep and still working, trying to force himself to be slow, be careful, not to bite Aziraphale’s pale shoulder until he bleeds, until Crowley can taste him the way every urge is screaming for.

He wrenches himself away, knocking over the lamp on the nightstand with a wing and nearly taking them both to the floor.

“What on Earth?” Aziraphale says, righting himself and turning to glare over his shoulder. The glare fades, though, with whatever he seems to see in Crowley’s expression. “My dear, what’s happened?”

Crowley tries to make sense of what’s going on, but the hunger is seething under his skin now, cheated of its chance to devour Aziraphale in his entirety. He realizes he hasn’t been breathing, and tries to focus on that, on the sensation of forcing air into his lungs even if they don’t require it. Even if really the only point is something to ground him on this plane of existence, and not on the one where he’s apparently tapped into some kind of latent demonic hind-brain.

He sucks in air and pushes it back out again through his teeth, feeling his chest rise and fall like a bellows. Aziraphale reaches up tentatively and strokes the mussed feathers of one wing. He’s wearing a tan cotton nightshirt he must’ve miracled out of thin air, because there’s no way such a thing has ever dared enter this flat on Crowley’s invitation.

“I’m fine,” Crowley says, much too loudly.

Aziraphale sighs. He stops fussing with the feathers and takes Crowley’s hand instead, attempting to pull him close before heaving another little huff and shuffling closer himself when Crowley refuses to budge.

“I felt it, you know,” he says, leaning his head on Crowley’s shoulder. “This time, when you were in me, really inside of me, I could feel what you’ve been talking about. You’re right, it’s different.”

Crowley stiffens. “Fuck, I didn’t mean for—”

Aziraphale kisses him. Chaste at first, just a dry press of lips, but quickly deepening until Aziraphale’s hands are cupping his face, tilting Crowley’s chin up as Aziraphale climbs back over his lap. “You’re hungry,” he murmurs, fingers stroking down the curve of Crowley’s cheek. “You’re starved, and I can feel it. Let me feed you.”

Crowley moans in spite of himself, arms twining around Aziraphale’s back and fingers digging in of their own accord. Aziraphale kisses him again, grace bleeding from him like ink from a pen, spreading through Crowley as the hunger builds on itself. Heaving, surging until he’s surprised they can’t see it moving under his skin.

Aziraphale’s tongue is in his mouth and he’s easing back down on Crowley’s cock where it’s still traitorously hard. He pulls back enough to say, “Let me,” again, and, “please,” and Crowley’s protests die in his throat as Aziraphale’s body and divine grace pull him close, close, so impossibly close that he feels his soul begin to sear and blister and still it’s never enough. He tastes blood and realizes he’s bitten Aziraphale’s lip and he wants to care, wants to stop or protest or, Hell forbid, apologize, but also he wants to do it again.

He’s burning, he thinks. They’re burning. He hasn’t felt this since his Fall. The smell of sulphur and blood and brimstone is heavy in the room all around them, mingled with the petrichor-sharp tang of Aziraphale. Aziraphale, who is quite literally on fire; a pillar of white flame surrounding them both, almost blue at his core with compressed heat that he’s pouring in torrents into Crowley.

It washes through him, a vessel unfit to contain it, spilling out even as the hunger snaps at it, devouring it in shreds. His soul, his metaphysical self, usually so content to exist placidly just out of sight, has become a chaotic mass of jaws and teeth.

Yes, it cries, yes yes YES!

It gushes out in a grotesque paroxysm of joy. If he can no longer contain divine grace, he will gorge himself on a vessel that can. This will be easy, so easy, and then at last he will be full and whole and satisfied!

The voices clamor and they’re Crowley’s voice. The jaws snap and devour and they’re his jaws. His teeth. His hundred thousand hungry mouths in the dark like black holes, swallowing down the light with ancient, insatiable hunger.

The fire around them is turning from white to a sickly, jaundiced yellow. He can taste ozone in the back of his tongue now, as if the pieces of Aziraphale he’s tearing away are passing into his corporeal body. The corporeal body he can still feel, even if it’s a distant and slightly unwelcome sensation. A persistent reminder. An insistent nudge trying to work its way through the frenzy of his devouring soul.

And then it’s over.

It’s over, the sickly fire is gone, and Aziraphale is collapsing forward against him, chest heaving like he’s just run a marathon. From the loose, shaky feeling in his lower extremities, Crowley’s pretty sure he’s just had an orgasm. His wings appear to have receded, but the bed is littered with charred black feathers.

Aziraphale’s face is pale and clammy, dark circles heavy under his eyes. He says, “Goodness,” and there’s a reedy tremor to his voice that leaves Crowley sick and a little winded.

“Don’t ever,” he says, as steadily as he can manage, “try to do that again.”

Aziraphale looks up at him, stung. Even as Crowley watches, he seems to be regaining his bearings, color slowly beginning to drain back into his face. “I’m sorry, I only meant to give you what you’ve been needing.”

“I don’t need it,” Crowley hisses. He maneuvers the rest of the way out from under Aziraphale and starts tugging on clothes. “I didn’t ask for it. This isn’t. It’s not. It’s not me, Aziraphale. It’s not something you should be just throwing yourself at—”

“Throwing myself?” Aziraphale echoes, cheeks coloring with rage and horrible tan nightshirt making an unwelcome reappearance. “Crowley, don’t be ridiculous. You’re acting as if this is unnatural for what you are. Like I could somehow manage to fall so deeply in love with you without noticing you’re a demon!”

Crowley stops dead midway through recoiling, mouth slamming shut on an irate rejoinder.

“I’m sorry, you could somehow manage to do what?”

Aziraphale glares at him. “Oh, you heard what I said. Don’t make me repeat it when I’m so hacked off with you I can barely see straight.”

“Hnnph.” Crowley sets himself to pacing the far end of the room, sending up small eddies of soot and feathers. There’s a dark, singed spot on the bed to match the one on the ceiling above it, but otherwise the room seems miraculously unharmed after playing host to both holy flame and fiendfyre.

“I never meant to upset you,” Aziraphale says, quieter this time. When Crowley looks at him, the expression of frustration is now mingled with sadness.

“Yes, well, the idea of eating and/or incinerating you upsets me,” Crowley says, crossing his arms so tightly across his chest he nearly dislocates something. “Sue me.”

Eating me,” Aziraphale says, eyebrows raised. “Goodness, how very Bosch of you.”

“That’s what it wants,” Crowley hisses, looking into those incredulous stormy eyes and willing his lovely, fragile, idiot angel to understand. He has to stop himself saying, That’s what Iwant.

“You do realize,” says Aziraphale, with delicate poise, “that I’m hardly defenseless?” He holds up one of Crowley’s feathers, its glossy black singed to a sooty grey.

Crowley ignores this. “Couldn’t you feel what I was doing to you?” he demands. “I could taste it, here, in my corporeal body. I could taste you.”

“That’s never been a problem before now,” Aziraphale says, cheeks pinking. “Anyway, no damage done that won’t heal in time.” He watches Crowley pace for a moment, and at last seems to soften. “I’m not trying to be glib, it’s just...I don’t think I’m experiencing the same worry you are over this.”

“Clearly,” says Crowley. But he stops pacing and flings himself back down on the bed, scattering feathers in all directions.

“And I don’t regret what we did, trading bodies after the apocalypse,” Aziraphale adds, moving closer and reaching for Crowley’s hand to twine their fingers together. “I could never.”

“No,” says Crowley, “me neither.”

And he finds that he means it, and that, at least, takes a little edge off the existential dread. They’re both still here, still alive, still them. Well, for the most part, in Crowley’s case. Aziraphale is his, after so long. After the terror of the burning bookshop and a brief fling with the kind of loneliness and despair he hadn’t realized could exist contained inside a single being.

“We’ll figure it out,” Aziraphale tells him. “We always do.”

 

Crowley doesn’t remind him that We always do has, historically, taken them upwards of six thousand years, in some cases.

Instead, he arrives at the shop several days later with crepes. And sushi, a few days after that. He tries very hard to convince himself that the chaste kiss he allows Aziraphale to bestow on his cheek for each is entirely fulfilling, and that he doesn’t notice Aziraphale’s stung look as Crowley turns his face away.

They go for drinks the following week, at a fascinating little wine bar near the shop in Soho. Not much to look at, but they’ve got a collection of South American reds that Aziraphale is just skeptical about to make things fun. He hems and haws and nearly bends himself double trying to be polite about having highly refined tastes, until Crowley simply fixes the sommelier with a scathing, unimpressed look, and the man rushes off and returns with a bottle of tempranillo from the reserve stocks. Aziraphale glows.

Well. Not literally. Not this time. Crowley tries not to feel disappointed.

Several bottles of tempranillo later and they’ve closed the place out, tottering arm in arm back to the bookshop. It’s cool and dark inside and Crowley is just reaching for the lightswitch out of habit when Aziraphale’s warm, paper-soft lips find his throat.

Who needs light, anyway? Certainly not him.

Crowley leans back against the closed door, letting Aziraphale kiss his throat, his jaw, just behind his ear. He pushes Crowley’s collar aside and sucks a mark over Crowley’s collarbone.

Crowley lets his head fall back with a clunk, sliding down a few inches that Aziraphale makes immediate use of by kissing him senseless. He’s warm and loose and comfortable and Aziraphale’s mouth tastes like good wine and just a hint of salt from the Marcona almonds they’d ordered.

The hunger that’s lain restless and waiting for days now unfurls in the pit of Crowley’s being and bares its teeth. His hand tangles in Aziraphale’s hair, the other on his hip pulling him closer. Aziraphale moans and melts into him, arms twining round Crowley’s neck. He sighs happily and a little of that effervescence spills over into Crowley, running through him like water down a drain and making him ache for more.

“More,” he sighs against Aziraphale’s lips, and Aziraphale thrums with it, full to bursting with—

Crowley shoves him back, plastering himself against the door and breathing hard. His head is pounding with the thunderous clamoring roar of his soul, reaching out toward that sweet, spilling light.

“Fuck,” he gasps, chest heaving. “Fuck, I didn’t mean to do that.”

Aziraphale, momentarily shocked at being shoved across his own foyer, recovers himself quickly. He smooths his hair and straightens his cuffs and sighs, fixing Crowley with a near pitying expression.

“My dear, are you really quite sure you’re not overreacting about all this?” he asks, with the kind of immaculate patience that makes Crowley want to incinerate a hole through the floor and just fall into the earth, never to be seen again.

“Is it possible you’re underreacting?” Crowley could just sober up, but that sounds like a recipe for Talking Things Out again, and he’s about reached his limit of that. He stalks over and flings himself into an overstuffed chair, making a stack of old books arranged on the neighboring side table teeter ominously.

“That isn’t even a word,” Aziraphale snaps, and hah. So much for immaculate patience. “Crowley, my darling, it just feels like maybe you’re being a tad dramatic about all—”

“Of course I’m being dramatic! You go to the opera, angel. Nothing says DRAMA like a chorus of doomed souls screaming out a harmonized cry for blood. Or, well,” Crowley pauses, “one soul. But still, you get the gist.”

Aziraphale rolls his eyes. “Grace and blood are hardly the same thing. I’ve got a boundless source of the former, for one thing, so I’m trying to be understanding, I really am, but I’m afraid I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.”

Crowley makes a noise of intensely pressurized frustration, something like a spoon in a garbage disposal. He picks up a brass letter opener from the side table, twirling it distractedly between his fingers in a fit of agitation. “You won’t have a boundless source of anything if I accidentally eat you, angel, for Heav— For Hell’s— Oh, for bloody fucking Gondwanaland’s sake!”

“And while I appreciate the concern,” Aziraphale says, in the tone of one calling upon his last, if somewhat drunken, reserves of calm, “I feel like I deserve some say in the impending eternity of celibacy we seem to be considering here.”

“I never said— oop!” The letter opener that Crowley had been fidgeting with slips out of his grasp and he only barely manages to catch it, point down. Blood wells up and he fumbles around in search of something to wipe it off on that isn’t his absurdly bespoke jeans.

“Not the books, not the books!” Aziraphale cries, scrambling to whisk his precious stacks off the table and out of harm’s way. “Here, allow me.”

He sets the books safely on an already cluttered shelf and brushes fingers over Crowley’s injured hand.

Crowley means to protest that it’s just a scratch, he doesn’t even intend to waste the effort to heal it himself, but the words stick in his throat as his hand grows suddenly very warm, and then very cool. The coolness spreading down his arm and all through him, permeating the layers and soaking through the hungry murmur of his soul, which goes suddenly, blissfully silent with apparent shock.

It’s peace, but overwhelming. Calm like the outer span of an undiscovered universe, untouched except by that glowing, shimmering spark, bright as a new star.

It lingers and shifts under his skin, acclimating to the fit instead of simply running through.

“Angel,” Crowley says, very carefully, testing to make sure his tongue still works. “Did you mean to just do...that?” Words seem to be giving him some trouble, sparks popping and fizzing where thoughts usually try to be.

“Oh no, I wasn’t even thinking!” Aziraphale wails. “Oh goodness, I just didn’t want to get any blood on the first editions and I didn’t even consider that I was performing a miracle on you. Did it do that, um. Whatever that thing is that’s been happening?”

Crowley thinks distantly that under different circumstances, he’d be gloating that Aziraphale is taking him seriously, after all. Instead, he says, “Not exactly.”

He stands, picking up the letter opener from where it had fallen to the floor in the momentary chaos. With a thought, its blade is suddenly much sharper, easy to swipe across the heel of his hand and leave a long, thin cut, already beading red with blood. Crowley holds it out, grabbing for Aziraphale’s hand where he’s recoiled in alarm. “Do it again.”

“I— What—?” Aziraphale stammers. He tries halfheartedly to pull free, but seems to recognize something in the desperation written across Crowley’s face. “Oh, very well.”

And it’s that sensation again, only deeper. More. Aziraphale lets his hand linger over Crowley’s palm, even after the skin has knitted itself back together, and the awareness is like a flood. A tidal wave that tumbles through him in another wash of that pure, luminous exhilaration. The hunger, so familiar now in its invasive discomfort, shifts. Adjusts. Turns into something new and wholly reformed, with a lot less teeth. The sickly, deep thrum at Crowley’s core becomes more of a purr, juddering through him and sparking every sense to high alert, building and building upon itself until it threatens to overcome him with its lush oblivion.

He kisses Aziraphale, trying to chase the feeling as far as it will go, and he can taste it, alongside the wine and the salt and the almonds. Ozone and something sharp and thick and old, like sage smoke. The feeling is settling heavy in his bones, the kind of satisfied relief that follows a warm meal after a long day.

Aziraphale gives a small, startled, “Oh!” before the letter opener clatters to the floor again and he falls into Crowley’s arms, kissing back with almost vicious force.

Crowley had missed this. They’d barely even had a taste after the apocalypse-that-wasn’t, of how things could be. No, he’d been much too busy dealing with all of his own very literal inner demons to appreciate them. This. Finally, after all these years. Six thousand years of frantic love bundled under a rug, away from prying eyes, now tumbling out and twining through him until he feels as though Eden might come spilling through his chest at any moment. A whole garden of triumph bursting through his ribs, lungs billowing out like sails.

It occurs to him to worry, maybe. Not to let go so easily. But he can feel it in the depths of him, in his vast, winged core. Not like a sieve to this new feeling, but like a lamp, burning slow and warm on holy oil.

Aziraphale is murmuring, “Love, love, love,” against his mouth between kisses, and they’re stumbling blindly through the dark shop to the back room. Not that Crowley can’t see in the dark, but he can’t bring himself to care about keeping his eyes open long enough not to knock into half a dozen lamps and tables along the way.

Books and pens and at least a couple of mugs get scattered as Aziraphale backs him into the desk, already pushing Crowley’s jacket from his shoulders. It falls to the floor, followed by shirt, scarf, and trousers.

Aziraphale just stares at him for a long moment. At last, he says, “You’re really...better?”

“Yeah. For now, at least.” Crowley starts in on the buttons of Aziraphale’s waistcoat.

“What...what does it feel like?” Aziraphale asks, shivering and leaning into the touch as Crowley tugs his shirt free of his trousers and trails fingertips up his ribs.

“Feel for yourself,” Crowley murmurs, lips brushing Aziraphale’s and relishing the gasp he earns as his other hand finds the hard ridge of Aziraphale’s cock through his trousers. “Can you do that thing again that you did before, where you kind of reach inside me? Maybe without the pillar of fire, though,” he adds, glancing around at the books.

Aziraphale gives a slightly frantic laugh, nodding. “Not worried you’ll, um. That you’ll eat me?”

“Only in the ways you’ll want,” Crowley says, and smiles, and drops to his knees.

Aziraphale’s skin is more of that sweet salt, and sage, and ozone. He’s already so hard, Crowley gets the buttons of his trousers undone and tugs them down, swallowing him whole in one. Fuck, but he’d missed this. Being able to simply want, and take, and have Aziraphale without worrying things were about to turn into a scene out of a Ridley Scott film.

Aziraphale’s knees buckle and Crowley digs fingers into his thighs, steadying him even as he swallows around him, throat working and tongue flickering and lathing and teasing. Soft, careful hands find Crowley’s hair and bury themselves there, tugging just shy of suggestion as Crowley pulls back a bit and starts working him up and down.

He’s murmuring, “Oh,” and “Goodness!” and “Fuck,” and his legs give a satisfying tremble as Crowley’s clever tongue curls around the head of his cock one last time before pulling off.

Crowley stands, naked as the day he crawled from the sulphurous pit. He perches on the edge of the desk and lets his legs spread, drawing Aziraphale between them. He asks, “How do you want me, love? Cock or cunt?” and thrills at the shiver that ripples through Aziraphale, from the top of his head to his feet still clad in those ridiculous silken socks.

Aziraphale says, “Cock,” in barely more than a whisper, and then he’s touching Crowley, fingers sure and gentle, almost reverent. Stroking him as Crowley’s Effort makes itself known with all the subtlety of a twenty-one gun salute.

Crowley’s breath hitches in his throat, legs tangling around Aziraphale’s waist and pulling him closer. Closer. Never enough, until Aziraphale is in him, pushing the very air from his lungs in a ragged moan he’ll permanently discorporate before ever admitting to. Fuck it, he might discorporate anyway, out of sheer pleasure. That’d be a weird one to explain down below.

Crowley very deliberately does not think about Hell, and instead focuses on getting efficiently railed across solid mahogany office furniture.

“Want you inside me,” he hears himself babbling, gasping when Aziraphale takes the invitation to hook one of Crowley’s legs over his shoulder. “I want to feel all of you.”

And there it is. The penetrating warmth at the edges of Crowley’s deeper consciousness, more cautious this time as it seeps into the bottomless well of him. With nothing surging to devour it, Aziraphale’s presence floods through him. Effusive with joy, glimmering and refracting like sunlight over still water. Crowley lets it fill him, feels it tangle with the physical sensations where their corporeal bodies are still moving together, sweat and skin and breath blurring with vast beating wings and that sense of spilling into each other with nothing left to contain them.

Aziraphale moans into his mouth and pushes deeper and Crowley draws him in, heels digging into Aziraphale’s back as every sense on both planes is overtaken. The pace between them quickens and sends off sparks behind Crowley’s eyes that have nothing to do with metaphysical souls merging on a tangent plane. There’s an ache in his spine where the desk is digging into it, and he’s increasingly aware of the sounds made by skin on skin, breath with breath, and the rush of his own blood thundering in his ears.

Crowley comes with a shout, riding back on Aziraphale’s cock as everything goes very sharp, and then very soft at the edges. His heart is hammering, the physical sensation of it pulling him back into his corporeal body and grounding him there as aftershocks of pleasure ripple through him.

“Beautiful,” Aziraphale is murmuring, “so beautiful like this. I can see all of you.”

He wonders what Aziraphale can see, if he can see the garden spilling forth, or just the deep, pitch-black many-winged insatiable thing in the dark. He wonders, fleetingly, what it had looked like last time, as it surged out of the pit in a mass of teeth and jaws and endless hunger. As Aziraphale had still offered his grace up to its appetite.

Crowley reaches for him and kisses him and tries to put everything he doesn’t know how to articulate or ask or beg forgiveness for into it. Aziraphale moans into his mouth and his pace picks up again, holding Crowley’s hips and fucking into him with his tongue in Crowley’s mouth and Crowley’s fingernails leaving half-moon indents in the pale flesh of his shoulders.

Crowley can feel Aziraphale’s orgasm building under his own skin, the warm-sunlight sensation becoming nearly blinding, frenetic, redoubling upon itself until it’s like staring into a star. Bright white and dazzling until it bursts in a supernova of radiant bliss. And then Crowley can feel the physical sensation of it, the deep, wet heat pulsing through him at his core and Aziraphale’s mouth on his, and the starfire all around his consciousness fading into a satiated, pleasant glow.

Crowley’s belly is sticky with his own come, and his thighs ache, and he thinks he could happily stay like this forever. Joined with Aziraphale in their physical bodies, so aware of him and the way they fit so seamlessly. The metaphysical connection is still thrumming, unraveling sluggishly as the light and the dark still cling together like woven cloth, reluctant to separate.

“I felt it,” Aziraphale whispers. He’s halfway collapsed over Crowley at an awkward angle against the desk. He shifts and adjusts and Crowley lets out an involuntary groan of protest at the loss of him. “I can still feel it, I can feel my own grace in your soul where that hungry feeling was last time.”

“Mmm.” Crowley shuts his eyes and basks in it. “How long will it last, d’you think?”

“Haven’t the slightest,” Aziraphale says. When Crowley opens his eyes, Aziraphale is watching him with love written so naked across his expression it seems almost indecent. “This time did seem...better, though? For you, I mean.”

“If you’re referring to my not wanting to flay the skin from your bones and devour you entirely, then yes, I’d say this time was a great deal better,” Crowley agrees. Seeing Aziraphale’s expression of distaste, he adds, “I didn’t know it could be like this. In both places at once, I mean.”

As he says it, the texture of their connection thins a bit further. Crowley almost wants to protest, wants it back, wants to wrap himself in it like a duvet and never resurface. Just stay bound up in Aziraphale forever and let all of Heaven and Hell burn themselves to cinders.

Aziraphale seems to read this on his face, because he says, “Mm, yes, it’s nice, isn’t it?”

In answer, Crowley sits up and pulls him back in for a kiss, deep and lazy and sweet.

“Aziraphale,” he murmurs between kisses. “Angel of the Eastern Gate. Soldier of Heaven.”

“Not anymore,” Aziraphale whispers, but he gasps as Crowley grazes sharp teeth down the curve of his throat. “I’m afraid I’m not the loyal guard I thought I’d made myself out to be.”

“It’s a pity you gave up the sword,” Crowley says against the skin of his clavicle.

Aziraphale stills under Crowley’s hands, and they gaze at each other. Finally, he says, “I don’t relish the thought of hurting you, Crowley. I would’ve thought that was abundantly clear by now.”

“So then you just have to—” Crowley waggles his fingers. “Do your little magic trick and fix me right up.” He grins. “Leave your mark on me, hmm? Like you ssso badly want to. Let me carry it.”

Aziraphale flushes. He swallows, Adam’s apple bobbing under translucent-pale skin, and Crowley just came harder than he’s ever done, but all he wants now is another taste.

“I’m yoursss,” he hisses, sliding off the desk to stand so close that the warmth of Aziraphale’s body mingles with the slow-burning flame of his grace under Crowley’s skin. “Mark me. Claim me. Let me wear you like a brand on my flesh.”

He can feel Aziraphale stop breathing and go tense, eyes wide when Crowley’s rise to meet them. “Crowley, I don’t know,” he says, almost pleading. “What if this somehow does real damage?”

“Bloody flaming tits, angel.” Crowley drags hands through his hair, willing himself not to start yelling. “I spend weeks trying to convince you that some demonic instinct had awoken in me that wants nothing more than to eviscerate you, and you might as well’ve coated yourself in brown sauce and thrown yourself at it. Now I’m here telling you that all we need to keep it happy is a little harmless blood magic, and suddenly you go and get cold feet!”

“Cold feet about stabbing you,” Aziraphale all but wails, but Crowley knows him. Knows that look of anguished ambivalence like the back of his own hand.

“Only when I ask you nicely,” Crowley says, with the best attempt at demure he can muster. Aziraphale looks away, refusing to meet his eyes. “Only when I need it.”

He holds out a hand and in a blink the letter opener is there in his palm, razor-sharp edges glinting dully in the low light. With a single, deft movement, he holds it out to Aziraphale. “I’m asking you. I’ll beg, if you want me to. Anything to make you see that there’s no moral issue here you need to be struggling with.”

Aziraphale stares down at the blade for a long, breathless moment. Crowley’s seen this expression on the wall at Eden, in Mesopotamia, at Golgotha, in the Globe Theatre. Thousands of times over thousands of years.

Aziraphale says, “You trust me?”

“Always.”

Aziraphale takes a breath like a diver readying for the plunge, and reaches for the letter opener. “Now?” he asks. “Again?”

“No, not now! I can barely stand up right now. Saints and dragons, angel, I thought I was supposed to be the insatiable one.”

Even in the dark, he can see Aziraphale’s cheeks color. “Well I only thought—”

Crowley kisses him, lingering until he feels Aziraphale melt against him.

“Soon,” he promises. “Soon, love. Don’t lose your nerve.”

 

Aziraphale, as it transpires, does not.

The feeling of warm, sated contentment follows Crowley home the next day, living at the edges of his waking mind with its steady glow. He notices small things: an almost golden tint to the late afternoon light, the sound of music wafting into his flat from somewhere on the street below, the smell of fresh pastries from a shop he passes that draws him in and sees him rolling up to the bookshop a few minutes later with a bag of warm croissants.

“Ooh!” exclaims Aziraphale, snatching it from him and puttering off to make a cup of tea. Crowley follows him into the kitchen and settles himself at the table, rummaging around in the bag and breaking off the corner of a croissant. It’s warm and buttery. It’s possibly the best thing he’s ever eaten.

“Out of curiosity,” he asks, around his mouthful, “you don’t think my wandering around all filled to the brim with your angelic grace would have any...side effects. Would it?”

“Such as?” Aziraphale comes to sit, bringing two mugs of tea and a couple of plates with him and setting one of each in front of Crowley. “Here, use this. You’re getting crumbs everywhere.”

“Oh, you know. Colors brighter. Birds chirpier. Hearing music and feeling moved.” He tears off another enormous bite of croissant and stuffs it into his mouth. Aziraphale’s eyes widen very slightly.

“Food tasting better?”

“Mmhmph,” Crowley agrees, with feeling.

Aziraphale regards him over the rim of his mug with an expression Crowley can’t quite parse. Frankly, he isn’t much bothered, so long as there are pastries. “Well, it’s my grace you’re carrying, so I suppose it could make sense that there are...nuances.” And now he’s blushing, looking studiously down into his mug. “Goodness, whoever could have known. I don’t suppose it’s...uncomfortable for you?”

“Aside from this morning when I was nearly moved to tears over Vivaldi, I’d say it hasn’t been half bad.”

Aziraphale’s gaze flickers up to meet his eyes, cheeks going even rosier. “There are worse side effects, I suppose.”

Crowley shoves the rest of the croissant into his mouth and beams in answer.

 

It’s several days of this, before the warm glow begins to fade.

Hunger pangs are not a thing Crowley has ever experienced, but if he had, he might equate this experience to something like them. Unfortunately, since he hasn’t, he only grows increasingly agitated, irritable, and restless for hours without realizing why.

It isn’t until he enters the shop that evening, come to collect Aziraphale for their dinner reservation at Patara, that the growing hunger bares its teeth. Sensing the angelic presence the moment Crowley walks through the door and uncoiling in a slow, sinuous, deliberate weight that settles at the back of Crowley’s mind. Pushing. Urging.

Crowley runs his finger along the spines of old volumes lining the shelves, and he can feel now which individual books have been offered a bit of extra ethereal attention in their repairs. He can feel Aziraphale’s magic clinging to them. To the old, faded carpet beneath his feet that never grows quite too old or faded to warrant replacement. To the spindly table covered in snuff boxes that Crowley himself once tipped over on accident, and watched Aziraphale miracle back together. To the very air he’s breathing, kept at just the right temperature and humidity for preserving books, despite anything the weather might be doing outside.

“Oh goodness, you’re early!” Aziraphale emerges from the back room with a stack of paperback novels, setting them aside and positively beaming his happiness. His expression falters a little, seeing Crowley’s face. “My dear, are you quite alright?”

“The, um,” Crowley falters, feeling suddenly wrong-footed and entirely unsure how to proceed. It had all seemed so straightforward when he’d first brought it up. “D’you still have that letter opener?”

“That…oh.” Aziraphale’s eyes go wide and he nearly knocks the top couple of books off the stack, hands fluttering up to clasp in front of him. “Ah. Has it...has it worn off, then?”

“Seems like,” says Crowley, as nonchalant as he can manage when the whispers are starting to drown out his thoughts.

Devour him. Tear it from him. Glory in his despair.

“And you’d like to deal with it now? Before dinner?”

“Dammit, angel, yes, now.”

Aziraphale has the sense to look at least somewhat alarmed by the urgency in Crowley’s tone. He points at the shop sign which diligently flips round to Closed, and reaches for Crowley’s hand.

Crowley flinches back, but Aziraphale just sighs and curls his soft, manicured fingers around Crowley’s wrist, leading him upstairs.

“I’ve been thinking,” he says, in a quiet, conversational tone. “I’ve been thinking that if we’re going to do this properly, we need the right tools.”

Crowley has not a damned clue what he’s talking about, and frankly he doesn’t care, so long as whatever it is happens soon. Aziraphale nudges him toward the bed, turning to a locked cabinet in the far corner of the room. It’s innocuous enough that Crowley’s never bothered to pay it much mind before now, but when Aziraphale produces a key from one of his many pockets, the doors swing open to reveal a small clutter of objects. More antique snuffboxes, a couple of very old, crumbling books, a scroll or two, a scattering of what look like stones, and a long, narrow, wooden casket.

“Our conversation about the Medicis in your flat reminded me,” he says, still in that quiet, measured tone. “I’d forgotten I even kept this. Here.”

He unhooks the clasp on the casket lid, opening it to reveal a long, slender dagger laid on crumbling plush velvet. The dagger itself has the look of something very old, but very well kept. Just a simple silver hilt, miraculously untarnished, and a wicked, glinting steel blade tapered to a fine point.

“Ceremonial, if I remember correctly,” Aziraphale says, setting aside the casket and holding out the dagger for Crowley to touch.

“Do I want to know how you ended up with a ceremonial Medici dagger?” Crowley asks, enjoying the way Aziraphale’s ears go pink.

“Nasty business,” he says, flustered. “Let’s just say I thought it would do less damage in my possession. Unfortunately, I underestimated the ease with which one could procure a replacement in those days. Bit of a wasted effort on my part, I’m afraid.”

Crowley stands, curling both hands around Aziraphale’s one where it grips the dagger’s hilt. Slowly, deliberately, he moves it until the point of the dagger is pressing just below the divot of his clavicle.

“Well,” Crowley says, “go on, then.”

Aziraphale pauses, knife point still at Crowley’s throat, but Crowley can see the pulse fluttering in his neck. He can see the last shreds of ambivalence playing around the corners of Aziraphale’s expression.

“I was never a very good soldier,” Aziraphale says. “I didn’t like wielding a blade. I didn’t like the idea of hurting anyone.”

“This isn’t that.” The hunger has reached fever-pitch, rushing through Crowley like blood through his veins, surging and heaving and so, so empty.

“No,” Aziraphale agrees, and draws the blade in one swift motion across Crowley’s breastbone.

The pain is fine and quick and bright, the knifepoint so sharp that it’s moments before blood beads across the shallow cut. Aziraphale reaches out, swiping his thumb across and smearing red over the freckled skin.

For a moment, Crowley thinks this is it, that Aziraphale’s touch will carry blessed relief flooding into him, but no relief comes. The cut remains as it is, red and sluggishly oozing drops of blood. Aziraphale brings his thumb to his lips and sucks it clean, eyes falling shut.

“I can taste it,” he sighs. “I can feel what it wants from me.”

There’s a faint red smudge on his lip when he replaces his hand on Crowley’s skin again, and this time Crowley feels the grace spill into him. He sighs, eyelids fluttering, as everything goes very dark and then very bright and then—

Crowley makes a low noise of protest, reaching blindly as the spots still dance across his vision, trying to draw Aziraphale’s hand back to him. The emptiness cries out to be filled, beating wings and devouring void seething through him until he half expects to feel miasmic black tendrils curling from his mouth, his eyes, his every pore.

“Patience, my love,” Aziraphale murmurs. There’s a smile in his voice, and as Crowley’s vision clears, the first thing he sees is bright, fond eyes. “Here, let me.”

He shucks Crowley’s jacket from his shoulders and undoes his shirt buttons one by one. There’s still a pale smudge of blood over otherwise unblemished skin, and Aziraphale pushes his shirt back to expose more, dipping his head to brush a trail of kisses over the sharp-boned ridge of Crowley’s shoulder.

Crowley’s entire being, corporeal and occult alike, is singing like electricity through a wire. The hunger thrums and pulses and sighs, threading itself through the tastes Aziraphale offers it, breathing grace over Crowley’s body and setting his nerves alight wherever lips touch skin.

Aziraphale has set the dagger aside as he continues to undress Crowley, and Crowley is halfway tempted to just lunge for the bloody thing and speed matters along, but as if he can hear these thoughts, Aziraphale shakes his head.

“I asked before if you trust me?”

Crowley has to resist the urge to roll his eyes, shimmying out of his trousers and kicking them aside. “Obviously.”

“Well, then.”

As if that somehow settles things. As if Crowley isn’t halfway sure Aziraphale can hear the hungry hisses rising around him, demanding to be fed.

He sits, bedsprings creaking, and watches as Aziraphale strips himself. Aziraphale takes his time, folding and setting aside each piece of clothing, finally standing naked and utterly unselfconscious.

“I suppose there’ll be no helping the sheets,” he frets, picking up the knife again.

“Angel,” Crowley says, in as measured a tone as he can currently manage, “I will perform whatever effing miraculous stain removal you want, if you just move things along.”

Aziraphale kisses him in answer, pushing him until Crowley falls back on the mattress, until Crowley’s legs twine with his and they’re tangled together. And this is so close, but so far away still from what Crowley needs that it’s a little bit of agony, even as he presses up for more, tongue licking and flickering over Aziraphale’s mouth, greedy for any taste of what he’s after.

There’s a quick, sharp sting and they break apart for Crowley to look down and see the fresh blood beading in a gentle crescent down the curve of his ribs. Deeper, this time, so it’s already spilling warmly when Aziraphale covers it with his hand, pressing like he can push the grace in by force.

Crowley groans, eyes falling shut again and arching into the touch. It lights him up from the inside, the dark, empty places letting out a collective sigh. The whispers quiet their demands, the bloodthirsty hissing calms, and he drifts.

He feels it from a warm, still distance when Aziraphale brings the knife tip down again, tracing a straight line downward from his breastbone. And then he feels the light touch of lips on his wet skin and this time the sensation that rushes through him is lit up and stinging, as he realizes that Aziraphale is murmuring prayers and benedictions. They make Crowley’s head ring like a bell and he clenches his teeth and rides it out as long as he can before letting out a wordless shout, shaking all over like a plucked chord.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Crowley opens his eyes onto a pinched frown. “I got a bit carried away, I didn’t mean to—”

“‘S fine,” Crowley mumbles. “Good. Just...a lot.”

He can feel the grace flowing like a river under his skin now, deep and swift and unrelenting.

Aziraphale wipes the blood from his mouth with the back of his hand before he kisses Crowley again. When they finally break apart, he asks, “Can you take more?”

Crowley feels the river. He feels its warm, heady current filling up the empty places. The places that feel so vast, so bottomless, without this.

He shrugs. “One way to find out, I guess.”

He’s expecting more work with the knife, but Aziraphale sets it aside, kneeling over him and bending down for another kiss. This one is slow, deep, and Crowley can taste the metallic tang of his own blood mingled with the sage and ozone taste of Aziraphale. It tastes like old magic.

Aziraphale’s hand roams down the angular planes of him, brushing Crowley’s cock where it’s already heavy between his thighs, and moving lower. Crowley moans when the first couple of fingers slip into him. It’s smooth and slick, thanks to a well-timed miracle of his own, and he rides back into the sensation with an open-mouthed sigh as Aziraphale goes straight for the core of him and lights him up like a live wire.

Aziraphale is all around him. Over him. In him. His ethereal consciousness wading into that deep, powerful current like John the Baptist.

“Do you still want to consume me?” Aziraphale asks, catching Crowley enough by surprise that he comes solidly back into his corporeal body with a metaphysical thunk.

Aziraphale’s fingers are still working in him, their bodies fitted and cocks pressed together in a way that’s just enough to get him up to the cliff’s edge without danger of pushing him over.

“I want to be possessed by you,” Crowley says, breath coming in short bursts between the words. “If I c-consssssume you, there’ll b-be nothing l-left. I want,” he breaks off and moans as Aziraphale adds a third finger, stroking and curling and dragging slowly in and out. “I want you inside me. All around me. Where I can t-tassste you. Where I can f-feel you under my ssskin.”

Crowley can feel the ethereal presence furl and glow and blossom, basking in Crowley’s words, and in the wanting that carries them. And then Aziraphale’s mouth is on him, sucking kisses down his neck, lingering at the juncture where his throat meets his shoulder with teeth. He bites hard enough to bruise, soothing the sharp sting with a touch of grace that trickles through Crowley and sets his nerves ablaze.

“Mine.” Aziraphale whispers the word against his skin and punctuates it with another bite to the slope of Crowley’s shoulder. Crowley feels the glow spill into him, curling around the singed and smoking edges of his soul until it glows like stained glass. “I would’ve spent an eternity in Hell for you. I would have lain down my sword in front of the armies of Heaven. You’re mine, and you’ve been mine, and I’ve been yours since we stood on the Garden wall.”

They crash together, mouths and tongues and hands and skin. Crowley flips them in one sinuous motion so he’s straddling Aziraphale’s lap, Aziraphale leaned back against the headboard. It’s a glorious tangle of limbs, still kissing and groping, and Crowley reaches back and eases himself down on Aziraphale’s cock.

He swallows down Aziraphale’s first gasp of breath and rolls his hips to earn another. And another. He wraps arms around Aziraphale’s shoulders and works his body with an undulating twist that drags moans out of both of them.

We are the only ones who have ever had this, Crowley thinks, in a surge of covetous greed. It boils through him, tangling with Aziraphale’s Divinity and dancing, flickering, high as a bonfire and throwing off sparks. Ours, only ours.

Ours,” Aziraphale breathes, and Crowley thinks he can see white flames behind his eyes. Distant and glimmering in the stormy grey irises.

He reaches out, feeling around on the nightstand without turning away or distracting from the little gasps and moans and prayers he’s fucking out of Aziraphale and finally feeling cold metal under his fingertips. He holds it between them, pressing it into Aziraphale’s hands until Aziraphale takes it.

“Like a false fucking idol,” he says, and rolls his hips again.

Aziraphale gasps, “Fuck.”

Crowley can feel the fabric of them knitting itself back together, weaving through them and around them until he’s nearly overcome by the friction of dark against light.

The brightness pierces him, white-hot as a brand, sharp and clean as it lances through him, until Crowley looks down and sees the dagger buried to its hilt in the smooth, taut flesh of his belly. Blood pours over Aziraphale’s hands where he holds it in, his eyes wide and jaw set.

Crowley says, “Oh,” in a soft, wet breath that carries the tang of copper to his tongue.

He has a moment to comprehend, to see the silver hilt and Aziraphale’s hands and his own blood, before Aziraphale gives a great wrench and pulls it free again. Blood gushes in the space it takes for Aziraphale to toss the dagger aside, replacing it with gentle, persistent fingers over the gaping wound, and if he weren’t so lightheaded, Crowley thinks he might be properly fascinated.

So efficient, these bodies. So full of warm, rich, living pieces all working in syncopated rhythm until something small and silly as a silver knife comes along to muck up the works.

The blood flow is slowing under Aziraphale’s careful touch, and Crowley can feel the heat begin to build again. It passes into him, a trickle at first, then a stream, a river, until Aziraphale’s grace is flooding into him with all the force of a hurricane at sea. Waves of it crash through him, break over him, lift him and toss him and send him to founder. He feels it pull him under. The deep and steady river now a current, drowning him in an inexorable, luminous divinity.

Distantly, he becomes aware of paper-soft lips against his own. Sage, and ozone. Soft, sticky fingertips touching his cheek, his neck. Aziraphale whispering his name, or possibly shouting it. Hard to tell over the rushing in his ears.

Crowley groans. Or, he’s pretty sure he does. He’s having a hard time figuring out which sensations are happening to his body, and which to his discorporate soul. Everything feels all at once very zoomed-in, and pleasantly expansive.

“Say something, please?”

Crowley hums happily, turning his face into Aziraphale’s hand. He darts his tongue out to taste the familiar scent of his skin, mingled now with the thick, heavy, human scent of blood. “Mm, ‘s good.”

Aziraphale is still in him, in the corporeal sense, and Crowley shifts his hips, glorying in the solid feel of flesh on flesh. Of something so heartachingly intimate in ways their incorporeal forms could never hope to accomplish. It draws him back into his body, still thrumming with grace, and he twines arms back around Aziraphale and kisses him. His mouth, his cheek, his throat, the shell of his ear, his mouth again.

“Oh,” Aziraphale breathes, head falling back and one hand settling at Crowley’s waist, the other stroking over his cock. “Oh, yes.”

Crowley’s whole body sings with the effervescent buzz fizzling through his nerve endings. He can feel it building between them, thrumming, in the woven fabric of their souls. Aziraphale gasps and shudders and lets out a wordless cry against Crowley’s cheek, and Crowley rides him through it, right over the edge himself. Another riot of sparks beginning at his core and bursting up, up, until he comes with a shout, face buried against Aziraphale’s shoulder as it shudders through him.

Neither of them move for a long time after. Crowley can feel it where their incorporeal consciousnesses fold through one another, soothing the sweet ache of reluctant separation.

Aziraphale is all around him still, inside him, enveloping him with that light that threatens to sear from the inside out, to immolate him down to fine ash, and Crowley basks in its glow. He wants to slither into the core of it and live there for the next six thousand years.

“Well,” says Aziraphale, quietly against Crowley’s hair. “I suppose we’ve entirely missed our dinner reservation.”

Crowley’s snort of laughter feels raw and scratchy in his throat. “Not to worry, I believe they decided to send out a delivery.”

“Ah, how convenient.” Aziraphale shifts beneath him, bedsprings offering an accompanying creak of complaint. “My dear, as much as it pains me, may I request that we find a more sustainable seating arrangement? My legs are beginning to go quite numb, I’m afraid.”

“Hrrgh,” says Crowley. But he shifts, causing them both to shiver as their bodies separate, and drapes himself instead against Aziraphale’s side. Their discorporate selves remain entangled, however. The woven fabric of them slower to unravel this time.

The bed itself is a ruin around them. Comfortably worn ivory sheets stained dark red and crusted with bodily fluids to match its inhabitants. The gore-covered knife lies discarded on the floor.

“Goodness,” says Aziraphale. He takes it all in, a tinge of horror tugging the corners of his mouth down. “How are you feeling?”

“Mm,” Crowley hums, stretching luxuriously and throwing an arm over Aziraphale’s middle. “Never better. And a tad impressed, if I’m honest. Been wanting to gut me long, then, angel?”

Aziraphale snorts indignantly. “I assure you, the thought had never crossed my mind.”

The grace under Crowley’s skin thrums. He can taste it thick and heavy in the back of his throat. He can smell it in the air around them. He can feel in his bones. An ache like the first thunderstorm over a newly made desert; flooding him with the promise of everything to come.

Downstairs in the shop, the door buzzer wheezes out a metallic tinkle.

“Is that the takeaway already? Goodness, that was quick,” Aziraphale says, and Crowley grins.

“It’s a miracle.”

Aziraphale sits up, surveying the wreckage of the room around them with quiet resignation. He sighs and gives his shoulders a shake, freshly clean and dressed in the blink of an eye. He hesitates and then turns, leaning down and catching Crowley’s mouth in a kiss that lingers and sends comfortable shivers up his spine.

Aziraphale seems to pour himself into it. Every moment since the very first moment. And the garden between Crowley’s ribs bursts into bloom, wholly unnecessary heart thundering triumph through his entire being and into the welcoming light of Aziraphale’s grace all around him.

When at last they break apart, Aziraphale’s cheeks are pink and his eyes are bright and he fixes Crowley with that expression of singular, incandescent fondness.

“Well then,” he says, smoothing hands unnecessarily down the front of his faded vest. “I’d better go down and give the poor soul a decent tip for their troubles. Are you hungry, my dear?”

Crowley settles back on the ruined pillows and stretches, vertebrae giving a comfortable pop. “Yeah,” he says, and smiles. “I could eat.”