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A Better Idea

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There was a great automotive phrase for how Crowley was feeling: "Running on fumes."

He had been since he arrived in Tadfield a little under two days ago. It took energy to imagine the Bentley wasn't on fire and falling apart. It took even more to stop time, to displace Adam and Aziraphale into his own personal little pocket universe where it was always the Day After Eden, where it was warm and the sand was comfortingly endless and empty. And then, even when the immediate danger was past, there was the anxiety. Hell was coming for him, on the bench and on the bus and in his flat. And then it was worse, because he was going to Heaven, where he hadn't been since the Fall.

They were safe now, though. They'd prevented Armageddon, fooled Upstairs and Downstairs, and won their freedom, more or less.

But Crowley was tired.

A meal at the Ritz was more Aziraphale's speed than his; he was not renewed by champagne. Aziraphale loved it, and Crowley wanted to indulge him, didn't want to leave his side yet, even if he would fucking murder someone for a good night's sleep right about now. He'd murder two someones if it meant he could have another minute with Aziraphale.

"Where are you bound now?" Aziraphale asked when they'd finished their meal.

"Home, I suppose," Crowley replied, wondering if begging an invitation to nap on the sofa in the bookshop's back room would be greedy, and if he cared.

"Your plants will be happy to see you safe and whole," Aziraphale said, beaming.

"Rarely," Crowley replied.

"Well, I'll walk you," Aziraphale declared.

Crowley barely remembered the walk from the Ritz to his flat. Then again, it wasn't the most eventful ever, so there was no real reason to. Aziraphale chattered on about something unimportant while Crowley put one foot in front of the other and conserved his energy for miracle-ing his door open, given he had no idea where his keys were.

In his foyer, he faced a conundrum: giving in to the sweet relief of sleep would mean sending Aziraphale away, but sending Aziraphale away would mean he was alone.

The angel swept it all aside neatly, thank Someone. "You still have that bottle of bathtub vodka, don't you?" he asked, visibly angling for an invite.

Sweet hell, the vodka. American Prohibition had been a nightmare but, on a jaunt to the States at some point in the twenties, Crowley had met a truly inspired distiller. The Russian -- an immigrant and an untrained but brilliant chemist -- had gifted him a case of the best vodka in existence, which he had reserved for special occasions. He did have a bottle left. And he could drink and sleep and Aziraphale would there.

It would have been the perfect plan if he hadn't stashed the last of the Prohibition vodka somewhere he couldn't remember now. He was searching the kitchen for it, berating himself, when Aziraphale touched his shoulder.

"My dear," he murmured. "Your wings."

Crowley twisted, startled. He'd let his wings out without realizing it. Inky and handsome, at least he thought them so, but not...appropriate. He was just so tired. He focused, trying to tuck them back in, but they just folded up against his shoulders.

"Sorry, it's been...a week," he managed. Aziraphale made a worried noise. "Don't be such a prude, angel. It's only wings."

"It's not prudery," Aziraphale said, looking mildly offended at the idea. "Are you quite all right, Crowley?"

"Did you not just..." Crowley started, then checked himself. "Didn't we just save the world and survive certain death and have lunch at the Ritz and your bookshop burned down and then un-burned-down and my car exploded and then un-exploded -- "

There was a soft whoomph as Aziraphale's wings spread. Crowley stared at them, bewildered, for the half-second before they encircled him.

"I should have known," Aziraphale said, resting a hand over Crowley's heart. "I'm sorry."

"Known what?" Crowley asked, eyes flicking from Aziraphale's wings to his face and then down to the hand on his chest.

"It's a bit much, isn't it?" Aziraphale asked, and it was so stupidly understanding that Crowley wanted to cry. And he couldn't find the damned vodka --

He stumbled forward with more force than he meant, and both of them went down, slowed but not stopped by the spread of Aziraphale's wings. Crowley managed to get a hand under Aziraphale's head to cushion the blow of concrete floor on angelic skull, but that was all he managed before he was collapsing, face pressed to Aziraphale's throat. Nothing had ever felt as good as being horizontal, especially with the angel beneath him, warm and soft.

"I'm ready to sleep for another hundred years," he mumbled, his whole body lax, and realized Aziraphale was pulling his sunglasses off.

"Oh, Crowley," Aziraphale said, voice comforting and also amused. "Again?"

"I have stopped Armageddon," Crowley reasoned, "so I deserve it." Aziraphale made a soft noise that he couldn't be fucked to interpret, exhausted as he was. "You have a better idea?"

"Well, certainly," Aziraphale said, and now his hands were in Crowley's hair, smoothing it back, nails grazing his scalp. "But that can wait."

He didn't know what Aziraphale meant by that and didn't, at the moment, care. Everything was soft and warm, Aziraphale was here, they were safe and someone was petting his hair, which he loved.

"Come along, dear," Aziraphale said, and Crowley groaned as he was pushed mostly upright. "Bed for you. You're worn out."

He was shoved to his feet and half-carried down the hallway to his bedroom, the one room in his flat he really did adore. Hands petted his wings down until he tucked them away, and then he was sliding between warm, fresh-smelling sheets, clothing miraculously turning soft and loose. He opened his eyes briefly and caught a glimpse of his own wrist encased in tartan-print flannel that Aziraphale must have dressed him in; just beyond, Aziraphale settled on the bed, jacket off and hung neatly on the footboard.

Crowley tried to mumble something sarcastic, since this was all very embarrassing and vulnerable, but what came out instead was a soft snore.

Crowley woke much as he had fallen asleep: mildly confused and self-evidently pathetic.

His bed was softer but also much lumpier than normal. It took him a few moments to realize he was asleep on top of another person: his head was resting on Aziraphale's chest, arms flung around his torso, the angel's knees cocked to cradle his hips. He could see Aziraphale's arm, bent at the elbow, holding up a book. With a soft flutter of crinkling paper, the page turned.

Crowley decided, as he often had in his long life, to lean into the awkwardness.

"How long?" he rasped, tasting morning breath.

"Three days," Aziraphale replied quietly, calmly. "Very messianic of you, my own."

A new endearment; Crowley filed it away for later.

"Awkward," he managed.

"Not especially." Another page turned. "You wouldn't rest properly unless I was here, but I had nowhere else to be. I've got so much reading done while you've been asleep. One forgets, when it's the apocalypse, to keep up with one's reading list."

Crowley twisted a little. Aziraphale was reading a book on management Crowley had helped get published called The Flat Office: How To Manage People You Don't Manage.

"You know that one's bullshit, right?" he asked, because it meant he wouldn't have to address the "lying on top of your best friend who is very warm and comfortable" issue.

"It did seem like the sort of book Gabriel would enjoy," Aziraphale said. "But it's all grist for the mill, you know. And I'd already finished The Astronomer's Baby and His Royal Highness, The Astronaut so I thought a change of pace would be nice."

Oh lord, he'd found the secret pulp romance stash. Crowley pressed his face into Aziraphale's sternum.

"Space Tinglers: Volume 1 was most enlightening. This Tingle fellow, he's quite good," Aziraphale continued.

"That one was a joke," Crowley managed. The idea of Aziraphale reading Pounded In The Butt By Apollo 11 and taking it seriously was pushing him close to hysteria. "I only bought it because he's clearly spreading some kind of wickedness with all that erotica."

"I knew you were a secret reader," Aziraphale said. "Nobody announces they don't read books or watch TV unless they do it secretively."

Crowley heaved a sigh, and Aziraphale's hand came to rest on the back of his head, as if he were concerned Crowley might be thinking of moving.

"Go back to sleep if you'd like," Aziraphale said. "You've an entire shelf of space-themed fantasy romance I haven't even addressed yet."

He probably should go back to sleep. He felt better, but the end of the world was still very fresh in his head. Not talking about it, or his current position atop an angel bent on reading cheap soft-core erotica, was appealing. Aziraphale's fingernails drew shivery lines up his scalp. Crowley meant to open his mouth and say, I think I will.

"I love you so dreadfully," Crowley said instead.

Aziraphale's fingers stilled briefly.

"Do you know, I did have that impression," Aziraphale replied, scratching at the nape of Crowley's neck. "I didn't want to make it uncomfortable by apologizing."

"For what?" Crowley asked, feeling like he was Falling all over again -- the potential terror of what was about to happen, but with the odd comfort that there wasn't a bloody thing he could do about it. Whatever was coming wasn't something he could change. (And anyway, looking back, Falling had worked out all right for him, more or less.)

"Knowing, mainly, and doing nothing," Aziraphale replied. "It's shameful when a demon's braver than an angel. All that emotion right out there on your sleeve, and all I could do was prevaricate. Embarrassing."

Crowley wasn't sure what was going on, but he hadn't been shoved off, and there was no righteous smiting, so that was probably fine.

"I should have said something much sooner," Aziraphale continued. "And I'm no better for feeling free to say it now just because Heaven's afraid of me. That was your doing, anyway."

"What," Crowley managed, encompassing everything that was going on, none of which he felt he was prepared to grapple with.

"I'm just sorry, that's all. That you've been saying you love me for at least a few centuries, and I was too cowardly to say it back," Aziraphale said. "If it's any consolation, once you're feeling better, I'll make it up to you."

Crowley considered this.

"Oh," he said.

Aziraphale laughed, chest vibrating under Crowley's head. "Rest, dearest. I have at least two more days of reading material here before I get desperate."

Crowley yawned. He meant to make a book recommendation, because he had a carefully curated selection of novels which included a whole series about a plucky Martian colonial governor who fell in love with an alien space prince. He really did want to. Instead, however, he drifted back down into sleep before he could explain that he had the entire series because they were smut and therefore highly justifiable reading for demons.

The second time Crowley woke, he wasn't asleep on top of the angel any longer; he was tangled up in what felt like every blanket he owned, and he struggled free while still not quite lucid. He managed to escape the bed and get upright, but neither the clock on the wall (quarter of eight; AM or PM?) nor the watch that Aziraphale had clearly removed and placed on his bedside table were of any help. The watch did tell him the date, but given he was hazy on what the date had been when he'd gone to sleep, that wasn't much aid.

Additionally, neither of them could tell him where Aziraphale was, which was worrying. His coat, waistcoat, and tie were hung on the footboard, so he was probably nearby. Crowley doubted Hell would breach the flat after Ligur, and he was sure Heaven wouldn't dream of fucking with Aziraphale after Crowley's performance in the hellfire, but still --

When he staggered into the kitchen and saw Aziraphale sitting at his kitchen island, fork halfway to his mouth, shirtsleeves cuffed up to his elbows, it was with an immense sense of relief.

Aziraphale, on the other hand, saw him and immediately froze.

"Think I've finally got enough sleep behind me," Crowley said, hitching up the terrible tartan pajamas, which were loose enough they were threatening to slip down over his hips. He was prepared to take at least a few bites of whatever it was the angel was eating, amenable to this new situation. "Is it morning or -- "

He stopped, because he was starting to take in details, like the white plastic fork, the crumpled brown bag sitting nearby, and the fact that whatever Aziraphale was eating was not plated on one of Crowley's very nice red plates, but rather on some kind of black plastic packaging.

"What are you eating?" he asked.

Aziraphale set the fork down. "I'm glad to see you've finally repented of your unbelievable sloth," he said prissily.

"No no," Crowley shook a finger. "The best defense might be a good offense, angel, but I invented being offensive. Is that a McDonalds bag?"

"So what if it is?"

Crowley sniffed the air. It smelled like grease and chemicals. "Are those pancakes? From McDonalds?" he asked.

Aziraphale resolutely lifted the white plastic fork to his mouth and took a bite of pancake.

"Sometimes one wants comfort food," he said.

"You've sent back steak at the Ritz before," Crowley said gleefully, joining him at the kitchen island, sliding onto the stool next to him and turning to face him. Aziraphale speared another slice of pancake on his fork, complete with a sliver of prefab sausage patty. "You've turned down wine that was two years too new. I've seen you criticize the sugar content of a sorbet. You risked life and limb in France for a crepe and here you are -- "

Aziraphale shoved the fork into Crowley's mouth, effectively silencing him with a wad of pancake and sausage.

"We all have our little peccadilloes," he said properly. "You'll notice I'm not bringing up Mr. Tingle."

Crowley chewed. It wasn't awful, actually; sweet, buttery, and soft, the sausage mildly spiced and easily palatable, especially for someone who wasn't really all that big on food.

"You're an angel," he said, around the mouthful. "Stranded on the moral high ground, you are."

"Swallow before you speak, there's a dear," Aziraphale said, rebelliously taking another bite of pancake.

Crowley obediently swallowed; one of the nice things about being a demon and also a snake was that one could choose to stop chewing whenever one liked.

"I can't believe you went on a McDonalds run," he said. "You left me alone, defenseless, asleep -- "

"I never did." Aziraphale looked at him, indignant. "I had it delivered."

"You what."

"You can get anything delivered in London these days. I used your little smartphone thingy. Ever so helpful. It had an app it downloaded for me and then a nice young woman brought all the food directly to your door. I even got you a..." Aziraphale consulted the receipt stapled to the crumpled paper bag. "A 'breakfast wrap'. It has potatoes," he announced, producing said wrap from the bag.

"Something purporting to be potatoes, anyway," Crowley replied, examining it and then setting it aside.

"It's a coping method," Aziraphale told him, with exaggerated dignity. "Someone who sleeps for five days together hasn't any room to cast aspersions."

"Mm. Suppose that's true. I just didn't think you liked fast food."

"I don't, normally," Aziraphale admitted. "But it was open and convenient. And...."

Crowley raised his eyebrows, waiting.

"Well, it's so human, isn't it? Cheap protein. Highly processed carbohydrates. Sugar and butter. I just..." Aziraphale shrugged. "This is our world, now more than ever. I wanted to be down in the heart of it. I'm an epicure, Crowley, not a snob."

Crowley considered this, and then grinned at him. "Guilty pleasures."

"Perhaps pleasures, but not guilty. Not anymore," Aziraphale said defiantly.

"Fair enough. Give us another taste, then," Crowley said, and Aziraphale dutifully offered him a forkful of pancake, drenched in fake maple syrup. "It's not inedible," Crowley admitted.

"High praise indeed," Aziraphale said, helping himself to another bite. They sat in silence for a while, Crowley ruminating on the flavors in his mouth, Aziraphale finishing off the last of the actual food. A companionable, greasy sort of silence, Crowley reflected. Like the hangover morning after a truly fantastic party, only without the headache.

"You look ages better," Aziraphale told him, as he gathered up napkins and discarded packaging to throw out. "You were terribly pale, Crowley."

"I'm ginger. I'm always terribly pale," Crowley replied.

"Not like that," Aziraphale said, slicing right through his breezy excuse and into his core. "Do you know, it was such a strange thought -- might not even have been mine, I was in Madam Tracy at the time -- "

"Please don't ever say that again -- "

"And when we saw you at the air base, I, or maybe she, thought to ourselves," Aziraphale pressed on stubbornly, "how young he looks."

Crowley tilted his head. Young was not generally a word he associated with himself. Like Aziraphale, his body -- his corporation -- had a certain patina to it when he'd received it. He'd always been rather glad of that, seeing how humans treated the young.

"Optical illusion," he decided. "Being nearly on fire for an hour or so is probably very exfoliating. Fills in the crow's feet."

"Hm," Aziraphale replied. "Anyway, you look better now. More yourself."

A memory flashed across Crowley's brain from almost a week previous, hazed with the kind of filter that implied it might have been a dream --

"You have a better idea?"

"Well, certainly. But that can wait."

And then, even as Aziraphale cupped his jaw, twisted fingers in his hair, and pulled him in:

"If it's any consolation, once you're feeling better, I'll make it up to you."

Crowley had never categorized his angel as intense -- he seemed to amble through life in a friendly sort of way, and even his anger and anxiety tended to be filtered over with a calm assurance -- but the way Aziraphale kissed was like an electric shock. For one thing, he pushed: Crowley had a bare few seconds to accept the kiss before Aziraphale was sliding off the chair, leaning into him, tongue licking along his upper lip and then into his mouth. Crowley made a noise of surprise as Aziraphale tugged his hair to keep him in place, and, regrettably, the hair-pulling almost immediately stopped.

"Is this all right?" Aziraphale asked, pulling back with his mouth but pressing their foreheads together. Crowley tilted in to chase the taste of sugar on Aziraphale's tongue, nodding, but Aziraphale held him back. "Crowley. Words."

Crowley hummed, considering them. "Yes?" he finally tried. "All the...all the yes."

"Acceptable," Aziraphale pronounced, and took his mouth again, hands sliding down to cup his jaw. Crowley tried to keep up, but mostly that consisted of letting Aziraphale do as he pleased, little shocks of pleasure making him eager but pliant. Aziraphale crowded him up against the kitchen island, pressing their bodies together, and it appeared that he was going to make up for centuries of indecision all at once. Crowley levered himself up onto the counter so that he could wrap his legs around Aziraphale's waist, pulling him in closer and locking him there. It had the added advantage of giving him leverage over the kissing, at least until Aziraphale slid his hands up into Crowley's hair and pulled again. Crowley's skin lit up from the inside.

"Do that," Crowley mumbled into his mouth. "A lot."

"What, my dear?" Aziraphale asked. Crowley tugged against his hands, still tangled in his hair. "Oh? Oh, splendid."

Crowley managed to get his own hands involved at that point, one gripping Aziraphale's shirt to pull it out of his trousers, the other sliding under his collar, around to the nape of his neck. Aziraphale shivered under his hand and tightened his fingers in Crowley's hair.

"Hah-ah!" Crowley managed, fingernails digging in. He could feel Aziraphale falter, clearly concerned he'd pushed too far. "Nnnn s'good."

"You'll say if it's not," Aziraphale said. It sounded less like a request and more like an order, which promised excellent things for the future.

"Mm-hm," Crowley groaned, letting go of Aziraphale's shirt only so that he could work on its buttons. He leaned in for more kissing, and Aziraphale obliged, gentle tugs on his hair keeping him in place while the angel did exactly as he pleased. The faint flavor of fake maple syrup clung to him and Crowley tried to chase it again, only to be gently held back each time, which was just as good.

He managed to get the buttons undone eventually, pushing Aziraphale's shirt off his shoulders and dropping it to the floor, pressing his hands to warm, smooth skin. All of this for me, he thought, hands running over Aziraphale's shoulders, down his back. Aziraphale made a happy sound into his mouth when he stroked his thumbs between his shoulderblades, where his wings would manifest.

"What d'you want, angel?" Crowley asked between kisses, nipping his lower lip. "Whatever you like."

"Crowley and all the kingdoms thereof," Aziraphale said, amused, pulling back to look in his eyes. It was almost unbearable, and when he moved one hand to stroke Crowley's cheek, Crowley did close his eyes. "What an unimaginable gift you are, my own."

"Hardly," Crowley said, leaning into his touch nonetheless.

"Here I am," Aziraphale said, "trying to make up for a few centuries of truly miserable behavior, and you offer me anything."

"Everything." Crowley tightened his legs around Aziraphale's waist to prove his point.

"Do you remember the last time you woke?" Aziraphale asked him, petting the ridge of his cheekbone, his brow, the snake brand at his temple. "What we talked about?"

"The romance novels?" Crowley asked, a little confused, feeling drunk.

"No, dear. What you said to me. You love me -- "

"So dreadfully," Crowley finished, opening his eyes. Aziraphale's expression was hard to read, a strange mix of empathy and pleasure.

"Tell me," Aziraphale said, watching him intently.

"Dreadfully. Desperately," Crowley said, the words pouring out without any seeming direction from his brain. "I love you to distraction, angel, it's why I can barely drive when you're in the car. I can't think about it or I'd never think about anything else -- "

"Good," Aziraphale said quietly. Something warm and bright filled Crowley's chest.

"I love you like I loved the stars I made," he managed, feeling foolish, like it was too much and not enough at the same time. He bowed his head, pressing it to Aziraphale's shoulder so he wouldn't have to see Aziraphale's eyes drinking him up. "It's idolatry, it's blasphemy how much I love you. Higher than the walls of Eden. Hotter than the first day of Creation. You remember Shakespeare?"

"I should think I do," Aziraphale said, sounding a little confused.

"I love you so much I can't quote you anything he wrote because I'm still mad he wrote some of it about you*," Crowley said, and Aziraphale laughed. It sounded like church bells, somehow. Crowley kissed his shoulder, nipping the skin gently.

* William, once he'd got to know Aziraphale a bit better, had not only intuited that he was in the presence of something more than human, but had been rather delighted by the idea. Crowley was mostly indifferent to the later works -- anything after Macbeth left him cold -- but he really hated The Tempest. 'Ariel' and 'Caliban' indeed.

"I paid him for a sonnet, you know," Aziraphale said, tugging on his hair when a bite went slightly too deep. Crowley kissed the spot apologetically. "One hundred and twenty three. Oh," he added, as Crowley sucked at the base of his throat.

"Dunno it," Crowley mumbled into his skin.

"It's not one of the greats, I'm afraid," Aziraphale said, one hand still holding his hair, the other stroking it. "But he said he had terrible writer's block. I told him, I'll pay you two crowns to write me something. Put some pyramids in it."

Crowley leaned back, looking down at him, because he'd lived through Old Money for its entire existence and he did the math automatically.

"You paid William Shakespeare an angel* to write you a sonnet?" he asked.

* One crown in Shakespeare's day was six shillings; two crowns, or twelve shillings, was also known as an angel.

"My little joke," Aziraphale said, a fond smile on his lips. Crowley kissed him. "He was a wealthy man by then, mind you. He didn't need the money, but he liked the idea."

Crowley stuffed down the jealous little barb that always came attached to Shakespeare's name, along with the names of a half-dozen other mortals Aziraphale had favored throughout history. He pressed his lips to Aziraphale's forehead, nose buried in his short curly hair.

"I love you so deeply I accidentally made Hamlet the most famous play in all of Western literature," Crowley murmured.

"I had an inkling then," Aziraphale agreed. Crowley gasped when Aziraphale leaned in to kiss his throat. "But mostly I thought, he's so good at miracles."

Crowley opened his mouth to object, but Aziraphale kept speaking before he could.

"Imagine what it must be like to be tempted by him," he finished. "And I didn't dare think about it any further."

"And now?" Crowley asked, wrapping his arms around Aziraphale's shoulders to keep him in place, because the angel's mouth on the tender skin of his throat felt astounding.

"I believe I'm being tempted as we speak," Aziraphale said. "It's extremely nice."

"Only the very best temptation for you," Crowley assured him. "Fine vintage. Very robust."

"Requiring a great deal of patience to produce," Aziraphale added. He pressed his face to Crowley's shoulder, and Crowley could feel his breath through the flannel. "You must know I feel the same. I do love you, Crowley. Very dreadfully as well."

"Took you long enough," Crowley grumbled, less because he actually felt any bitterness and more because Aziraphale clearly expected a bit of grumbling. Crowley knew that between the two of them he was much more inclined to be dramatic, but Aziraphale did like a spot of self-flagellation on occasion. "Never bought me a poem," he added scoldingly.

"Take all my loves," Aziraphale said softly. "What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?"

"I also don't know where that comes from, and I don't care," Crowley informed him. "Might be Marlowe for all I know." Aziraphale laughed into his shirt and then pulled back, gently disengaging Crowley's arms so he could lean up to kiss his mouth again.

"You aren't scared of this at all, are you?" Aziraphale asked. Crowley shook his head.

"I meant it," he said. "Whatever you like. What've I got to be afraid of?"

Aziraphale stroked his hair and then tugged it a little. "Well, then I should like two things."

Crowley nodded, perhaps a little overly eager.

"One, to take you to bed," he said.

"Fuck, angel, I'd hope so," Crowley managed.

"Two, that you be brave for both of us, because I don't know that I will be."

Crowley studied Aziraphale's face -- no uncertainty, no doubt in it, just...anxiety. And it felt normal, almost comfortable, this way. Wasn't it what they'd always done? It felt like stopping time at the air base, like trying to salvage something from the burning bookshop, like the Bastille and the wall of Eden and everything in between and after. This was their dance, with the only angel who even knew how to dance. Aziraphale, worried but forging ahead anyway, and Crowley, there to catch him, not wanting to be anywhere else. A single constant in a very unsteady world.

"I can do that," he said. "One condition."

"Of course." Aziraphale squared his shoulders, clearly expecting something stringent.

"No more quoting Shakespeare," Crowley told him.

"You brought him up!" Aziraphale said in outrage, before he realized Crowley was grinning. "Serpent!"

"Wiles. It's what I do," Crowley agreed. "Right then, angel. Bed?"

He expected Aziraphale to step backwards so that he could slide off the counter, and was about to uncurl his legs so he'd be free to do so. Instead, Aziraphale nodded firmly, almost to himself, and gripped Crowley's hips, snugging their bodies closer together. Crowley yelped with laughter as he was lifted, grabbed Aziraphale's shoulders, and leaned into him, curling around his body. He kissed the crown of his head and then shifted to nibble the shell of his ear so that Aziraphale could at least see around his shoulder well enough not to bump them into any walls on the way to the bedroom.

"This is what comes of never eating," Aziraphale told him. "You're light as a bird, Crowley."

"Hardly likely to change if you keep carrying me around," Crowley told him.

"Oh dear, would you rather I -- "

"No, I like it here," Crowely said, tightening the grip of his thighs. "Good here, thanks."

Aziraphale maneuvered them into the bedroom easily enough, and Crowley graciously allowed himself to be deposited on the bed. He did wriggle out of the tartan pyjamas, but since Aziraphale was shedding his own trousers, that didn't seem to be inappropriate. When Aziraphale knelt up on the bed and crawled over him, propping himself on his elbows, Crowley twined his arms around Aziraphale's shoulders again and beamed.

"Lovely boy," Aziraphale murmured, fond and distractingly sweet. "So patient and so -- "

"If you say kind, I'll kick you out of bed," Crowley warned.

"Wicked," Aziraphale finished. "Quite completely evil."

Crowley rocked his hips, and Aziraphale caught his breath, eyes flickering shut. Crowley twined one leg around Aziraphale's thigh and did it again. This time the angel caught up to him and moved with him, and Crowley tipped his head back, enjoying the simple, mortal, human pleasure of it. This, too, was as it always had been -- Crowley moving first, but Aziraphale always catching on and making it better, sweeter, when he did.

Crowley dug his fingers into Aziraphale's shoulders. Aziraphale gasped out his name and his hands found Crowley's hair again. When he pulled, Crowley made a high, wordless noise of encouragement.

It was simple, probably the least intricate sex he'd had in centuries. Just kissing and lots of skin, when you came down to it. But he supposed that was all most sex was, and the right partner made the difference. There wasn't any way anyone could know him as well as Aziraphale or vice versa, but that had been arms-length knowing, intellectual, emotional perhaps, but not physical. Learning his body, being known in turn, was new and was --

Intense. Fuck, it was good when Aziraphale went wordless and pressed his face to Crowley's throat, hands tightening in his hair. Crowley turned his head enough to murmur into his ear, all the tempting, filthy things he wanted, almost incoherently mixed up with declarations of love and desire, I love you to bewilderment and Fuck, yes, faster.

Aziraphale's body was strung tightly, chasing after more pleasure, which was in itself delightful. Crowley let a little of the serpent into his movements, hips swaying as he bucked up against him, hands frantically drawing Aziraphale's head back up so he could watch Aziraphale react. He wanted to feel the angel shake apart, wanted to see his face when he came, and they both reached for Aziraphale's pleasure like it was something they could grasp --

Crowley's orgasm took him by surprise. He'd been paying attention to Aziraphale, and he felt the gentlest of angelic brushes against his mind but didn't have time to think about it before pleasure roared over him. He bit down on Aziraphale's lip in the middle of a kiss, shocked and delighted, trembling. His body bowed upwards against the weight of Aziraphale's, and then he felt the angel come too, felt him in his thoughts, a wash of joy like a second orgasm, almost unbearable on his already-oversensitive skin.

"You bastard," he managed breathlessly as Aziraphale collapsed down on top of him, nosing at his cheek. "Miracles during sex. Hardly fair."

"I didn't realize fairness was a requirement," Aziraphale replied, soft, amused, fake-innocent. "Didn't you like it?"

Crowley tipped his head back, enjoying the full-body aftermath, the way everything felt mindlessly pleasant. "Loved it."

"You spend a little too much energy trying to make me happy, you know," Aziraphale said. "Seems only right I pay it back when I see the opportunity."

"Mm. I'm not keeping a balance sheet." Crowley traced mindless sigils into Aziraphale's shoulders. He knew nearly every language that was or ever had been, and not all demonic tongues were solely concerned with curses. He could bless his angel eight ways from Sunday if he wanted.

Aziraphale shifted, as if wanting to roll over, and Crowley tightened one arm across his back.

"Stay here," he said, but out of consideration, he miracled them a bit cleaner. "Got you where I want you. In my clutches."

"Captured by a demon," Aziraphale said dryly. "Oh, how terrible."

They lay like that a while. Crowley considered sleep, but decided against it. Aziraphale seemed content to be still, and Crowley didn't want to disturb the soft peace that had settled over them. Eventually, Aziraphale spoke.

"While you slept, I kept a sharp eye out," he said.

"For what?" Crowley asked.

"Anything. Divine interference. Infernal surveillance. I listened to the world," he said.

"Sounds tiring," Crowley murmured, petting his hair.

"Not especially. Just...being aware. Not a peep or a rustle from either side."

"If there were, would you care?" Crowley asked.

"Not anymore. And I wonder why I did care so much...feels foolish now. Childish."

"If you're going to apologize again, we can take it as read," Crowley said. The faintest pause before Aziraphale continued told him he'd hit the mark.

"I'm only saying, we do seem to be safe," Aziraphale said. "But it's a long habit to break."

Crowley kissed his temple. "Is this where that brave enough for the both of us part comes in?"

Aziraphale nodded against his shoulder.

"Well, needs must," Crowley said. "Don't worry about it just now. I'll keep an eye out for a while if you like."

"We shouldn't have to," Aziraphale muttered rebelliously.

"Just as smart not to let our guards down. Any more than we already have, anyway," Crowley said. "Another few days and I'll set to thinking about our next move, too."

"Our next move?"

"Can't start preparing for the next armageddon too soon. Got to think up some strategies."

"Your idea of strategy was a bucket-over-the-door prank laced with holy water," Aziraphale pointed out.

"And it worked, didn't it?" Crowley asked, annoyed, until he realized he was being gently teased, and Aziraphale's quick breathing was hiding laughter. Crowley dialed it up, just to see if he could get Aziraphale to laugh so hard he couldn't hide it. "When has a plan of mine ever not worked? I don't see you plotting and planning. Come up with something or I'll never talk to you again. Didn't I come up with something? What've you done except wave a sword around and demand brilliance of me? I bet you even my frankly genius Evil Nanny plan would have worked if Warlock had actually been the antichrist -- "

"Stop, stop," Aziraphale begged, voice high and thin.

"I won't! This is calumny. Slander and libel -- "

"It's only libel if it's in print!" Aziraphale said, and then buried a laugh in Crowley's shoulder. "You're a wicked beast and you haven't the strategy She gave a wolverine."

"Wolverines haven't any strategy!"

"Exactly my point," Aziraphale laughed, kissing him just below the ear and then lifting his head to kiss him properly. "Modern major general Anthony J. Crowley."

"Ugh, don't bring Gilbert and Sullivan into things," Crowley made a face. "I have sat through The Mikado for you for the last time, by the way."

"Admit it, I've Got A Little List is funny."

"Doesn't make up for every single other thing about that blasted play."

"Your distaste for light opera is noted and ignored," Aziraphale said.

"I like light opera fine. Threepenny Opera? Sublime. Could watch Angela Lansbury in Sweeney Todd all day. Cats and Starlight Express are both heavily underrated. I just can't abide precious community theatre renditions of HMS Pinafore."

Aziraphale was humming Three Little Girls from School Are We.

"In my own house!" Crowley roared. The angel stopped and kissed him again.

"I do love you on a rampage," he said.

"Wind Crowley up and watch him go," Crowley said, pretending discontent.

"This evening I shall take you to dinner and ask your opinion of the concept of superfoods."

"Literally invented by Satan himself," Crowley hissed. "Look, the point I was making before you indulged in your weird rage fetish -- "

"I beg your pardon -- "

"Is that we are now united," Crowley finished, suddenly aware of how it sounded.

"Indeed we are," Aziraphale agreed, gravely, which gave him enough courage to press on.

"And we have a responsibility to the world to ensure its continuity," Crowley said.

"Yes, my darling, we do," Aziraphale said softly. "But I think we also have some lost time to be making up for."

"Well," Crowley said uncomfortably. "Yes. Obviously."

"Obviously. So plotting and planning can wait a few days. Should you like to sleep some more? I've heard it's nice, after coitus."

"Coitus," Crowley snorted, but he did feel like he could nap a bit longer. Aziraphale was petting his hair with one hand, and the angel was after all a lovely weight on him, with the promise of a nice awakening. "Fine. Wake me for dinner, then."

And Crowley rested.