Lightning lit the sky; the cracking boom of thunder came a heartbeat later. An angel and a demon, soaked to the bone, stumbled through the tent flap and collapsed onto the floor. The flap closed behind them and muffled the sounds of the raging, torrential downpour.
Aziraphale recovered first. He waved a hand to light the fire, but his magic fizzled and sparked rather than taking hold. With a put-upon sigh he frowned upwards and told himself it was unbecoming to complain about God hogging all the miracles at the moment even though it really was quite rude. He set about lighting the fire the human way instead. He had to hunt around for the never-used flint and steel but he finally found it in his tobacco box. His awkward, unpracticed hands fumbled with the stone for a while until he finally got a spark to light, and soon a merry little fire was roaring in the center of his tent.
“There,” he said, placing his hands on his hips. “Isn’t that better?”
He turned, smiling, towards Crawly and his heart broke at the sight of him.
“Oh, my dear boy. Whatever is the matter?”
Crawly was curled into himself, a small black blob atop the skins lining Aziraphale’s floor. Although he was still in his man-shaped form he looked very much like a snake, tightly coiled and frightened. Aziraphale could make out a sliver of his pale cheek beneath the strands of his wet, red hair now brightened by the flickering fire.
Receiving no response to his enquiry, Aziraphale nervously knelt beside the demon. He tugged at his fingers. “Are you injured? Was—was the rain a bit…holy? Oh, dear, I should have brought out my wings to shelter you again.”
The Crawly-shaped lump twitched and murmured.
“What was that?”
“Said…’s not your fault.” Crawly turned his face so that one yellow eye peeked up at Aziraphale. He had a very strange look to him, a faraway look, very sad and almost…broken.
Aziraphale had to turn away, and he frowned at the entrance to his tent. “But the rain—”
“Shut it. You know it’s not the rain.”
He wrung his hands again. “Very well. Would you like a drink? And, oh, your clothes are all wet. I might have a cloth here, somewhere…” He stood and began hunting around his tent, still muttering. “I’m afraid I can’t simply miracle you dry. I’m certain you feel it as well, all the—the energy being used to create this little spot of bad weather. Quite a lot of fuss over some simple rain, if I do say.” He laughed nervously. “More fuss than is perhaps—er, rather, I mean, I’m sure it’s all for a good reason, a terribly good and ineffable reason. It’s just, ah, where did I put that towel?”
He finally found a cloth and returned to Crawly, who had managed to roll over onto his side. Aziraphale knelt beside him and draped the cloth over his shoulders, but when Crawly failed to move Aziraphale began to dry him off himself.
“Here you are. You’ll be warm and dry in no time at all,” Aziraphale said as he drug the cloth over Crawly’s long hair, soaking up the clean-smelling rain. He wiped at Crawly’s face and neck and then tried to sop up the rain in his clothes to little avail.
“…What are you going to do?”
“When the rain comes,” Crawly said.
“It’s already here, my dear.”
“I mean when it floods this area. It’s flooding everywhere, isn’t it? And you can’t do a miracle to get out of it.”
“I’ve already got one around my tent,” Aziraphale explained. He’d managed to get most of the water out of Crawly’s robes. “It will be dry in here, until it passes.”
Crawly made a noise, sounding equal parts impressed and upset.
“…You could stay as well, of course,” Aziraphale said. The cloth was soaked through but he still moved it pointlessly over Crawly’s body. “I won’t throw you out in the rain.”
“Damned decent of you,” Crawly said flatly.
Aziraphale frowned, feeling attacked and not knowing quite why. He rose to add another stick to the fire and stood with his hands spread over it. His own robe was still wet, and faint steam filled the air as the fire licked at him. The silence felt deafening and he sought to fill it.
“I’m not quite sure how long it will last, of course,” Aziraphale said cheerily. “I only know the ‘rain bow’ bit at the end. I’m afraid the memo wasn’t much more specific than that. It is nice, isn’t it? Letting us know what we have to look forward to after all this rain.”
Crawly grunted. “Forty days.”
“Forty—however do you know that?”
He turned to see Crawly was once again a lump on the floor. The lump made a motion like a shrug. Aziraphale’s hands found his hips and he gave Crawly a stern look, even if the demon couldn’t see it.
“Now, see here you—you demon. If this has anything to do with your lot, I’ll—”
“It’d be convenient, wouldn’t it?” said Crawly very quietly from the floor. “If all it took for power to be good was for it to be Good, and if you could blame all the rest on a few bad eggs.”
Aziraphale bit his lower lip. He wasn’t quite sure what to do about Crawly brooding sadly on his floor, but as an angel he felt compelled to help. Even if he was a demon it was still his duty. He knelt down beside Crawly and rested his hand on the demon’s shoulder. There was a faint chill, there, more so than the rain alone could explain. Aziraphale attempted to imbue a little warmth into the demon.
“I’m sorry I said that,” Aziraphale murmured, focusing on his hand and directing all his energy into making miraculous warmth appear. But nothing happened, and his hand was just a hand. “I read the memo myself. I know very well who—whose responsibility it all is. I shouldn’t have blamed you.”
Crawly shifted. He pushed back against Aziraphale’s hand ever-so-slightly. “Doesn’t matter. Perhaps I am to blame. After all I’ve been the one going around tempting all these humans; maybe I’m what finally pushed them over the edge? Maybe I’m why They couldn’t see any other recourse but to…do away with everyone.”
“You may be giving yourself too much credit.”
Crawly laughed, the sound muffled against the skin rug. He turned and peered up at Aziraphale again with that one sad, yellow eye. “D’you think?”
“I’m afraid so,” Aziraphale said with faux-seriousness. “And anyway, you can hardly have been doing that fine a job at tempting, when I’ve been doing so well at thwarting you all along the way.”
“You have, haven’t you?”
Outside, lightning streaked again. The tent was momentarily brightly lit and then faded into the red, shadowed light of the fire.
Aziraphale was shocked to find Crawly looking at him fully now, both cold yellow eyes fixed upon him. And he was equally surprised to find that his hand was still on Crawly’s shoulder, gently rubbing comforting circles with his thumb. Perhaps he should have pulled away, but his instincts still told him Crawly was hurting, and he could never leave a creature in pain.
Crawly sucked in a deep breath. Let it out again. His yellow gaze skated over Aziraphale’s face, heavy as a caress. He looked very small lying on the ground in Aziraphale’s tent. Very small and very, very scared.
“…Crawly? Is everything alright, my dear? You seem…”
“I am,” Crawly said matter-of-factly, although he couldn’t have known what Aziraphale was going to say because Aziraphale didn’t quite know himself. “I am, very much so.”
Crawly lifted one long, slim hand and tangled it in the neck of Aziraphale’s robe.
“Oh,” said Aziraphale.
“Angel,” Crawly breathed. His eyes were molten gold, a twisted memory of an angelic mark. “Please help me.”
The pain and hurt in Crawly’s voice made Aziraphale’s heart ache for him. “Whatever do you need?”
“I need—” Thunder boomed outside, silencing his words. In the dim light his throat bobbed as he swallowed. The hand in Aziraphale’s robe tightened.
Aziraphale gasped as he was jerked forward, his lips smashing against Crawly’s. He could taste rainwater and salt, feel the grit of sand and Crawly’s chapped lips. Hands scrabbled desperately at him and he held himself steady, supported on one arm by his grip on Crawly’s shoulder. Crawly seemed to be trying to climb inside his body, to worm his way right into the heat and warmth of his angelic presence.
Gently, Aziraphale pushed him back down. “Crawly,” he said, not unkindly. “I don’t think that’s what you need.”
Crawly growled, a low demonic sound that cut like a knife through the sound of rain sheeting against the tent outside. “And who made you the arbiter of what I need?” he sneered.
Aziraphale mightily resisted the urge to look heaven-ward. Instead, he said, “I believe you did when you kissed me.”
“Then what do I need, angel? A good smiting? A stern talking-to? A discorporation? Perhaps you’re thinking to send me back to hell. Or maybe this is all for your edification. Keep me locked in your tent for a month while we sit and exchange pleasantries over drinks and fine food and pretend everything is right and normal while outside people are dying, drowning in a flood sent by your people. And we’ll sit here and catch up on the latest gossip as they cry and beg to a God who will never listen to—!”
Aziraphale smashed their lips together. He swallowed Crawly’s panic and his fury and his anger, pushed his tongue into Crawly’s mouth and traced at his pointed teeth. There was a stone in the vicinity of Aziraphale’s stomach, heavy and immobile, and he hated Crawly for putting it there. He hated him, and pitied him, and so he kissed Crawly on the sandy floor, kissed him into the fine skin rugs as smoke settled on their skin. He kissed him and begged wordlessly for Crawly to stop saying such things, to never again say those things. To have a little reverence for that which was ineffable.
Crawly’s limbs wrapped around Aziraphale and pulled him in tight, crushing their bodies together. Crawly was a long, lean line beneath him and Aziraphale melted into the contact. The hand on Crawly’s shoulder inched up to tangle in Crawly’s red hair, pulling on it, bending his neck back to improve the angle of their kiss. He bit at Crawly’s lips and tongue, distantly surprised at the level of his own ire. He was so angry, so very, very angry at Crawly for doing this to him. For seeding doubt without even trying.
He pulled back with a gasp, the force of his wrath too much to bear. Aziraphale tried to center himself but Crawly was already upon him again, biting along the column of his neck and leaving bruises and teeth marks in his wake.
“Crawly—” Aziraphale shuddered, cutting off his moan with a clack of his teeth. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“I’m forgetting,” Crawly said, his hands pushing and shoving at Aziraphale’s robes, opening the front to feel over the expanse of his chest. “I’m forgetting myself, forgetting everything.”
“Oh,” Aziraphale said as Crawly’s fingers found his nipples, peaked from the rain and cold. “Oh, that’s alright then.”
“Forget with me, angel? Please?”
“D-do you have an Effort?”
Crawl stopped his biting, his hands hovering over Aziraphale’s chest. “…Do you?”
“Well…” Aziraphale trailed off. He coughed. “Not as such.”
“Don’t care,” Crawly said, writhing against Aziraphale. And there was something there. Aziraphale could feel it against his thigh as he slid it between Crawly’s legs, although he didn’t have enough experience to guess at its form. “Just touch me, angel. Make me forget.”
Aziraphale tugged his hair again and applied his lips to Crawly’s neck, biting and mouthing as Crawly had done to him. He didn’t have it in him to draw as much blood as Crawly had, but he still sucked a few bruises and left Crawly a writhing mess beneath him.
“Yes, yes, angel, yes, please!” Cralwy hands were pinched between them, still pressed against Aziraphale’s chest but no longer able to fondle him now that they were so close. “Like that, just like that.”
He bit down, hard, and Crawly wailed as thunder crackled through the sky. The echo of it reverberated through the tent and Aziraphale vibrated with the power of it, the shear strength of what was happening to the world around them. Aziraphale pulled off with a pop of his lips and gently laved at the sore spot, apologetic.
“Sorry, dear,” he murmured against Crawly’s flushed skin. “Got a bit carried away.”
“You can do it again,” Crawly said breathily. “Do it a thousand times. Bite me, mark me, consume me…I don’t care.”
“I do,” Aziraphale said. He pushed himself up onto his arms to frown primly down at Crawly. “Even if you don’t care about your wellbeing, I do.”
Crawly blinked up at him. He seemed on the verge of saying something, perhaps something very vulnerable, and which he would not say fully for many thousands of years to come. He swallowed the words visibly and his fingers found Aziraphale’s nipples again, twisting harshly.
“Oh!” Aziraphale startled. He jerked forward, his thigh shoving against Crawly’s Effort again.
Crawly made the most delightful noise of need and want.
“Oh, that’s…” Aziraphale huffed. “Quite surprising that it can feel like that, even without everything…hooked up, as it were.”
As he contemplated this he drew his palms over Crawly’s body. He hooked one hand under Crawly’s knee and bent it up, letting the other hand work under Crawly’s dark robe. Soft skin met his searching fingers, dewy and cold.
“Y-you don’t have to do that,” Crawly managed to say as Aziraphale’s hands worked higher. “You haven’t got one, so you don’t—”
“Hush,” Aziraphale said. He was focused, then, his only goal rucking Crawly’s robes up around his waist. He leaned back enough to look between their bodies and saw Crawly’s flat stomach, the knobs of his hips, the moist lips of his vulva, the long line of his legs. “Oh heavens.”
Crawly jerked. “Don’t say that.”
“So sorry, dear.” Aziraphale didn’t feel at all guilty. It was an involuntary reaction to the not-at-all-divine beauty laid out beneath him. “But you are…stunning.”
Crawly jerked again, his head falling to the side, long hair splaying out around him. His chest was heaving with each breath. “Well, are you just going to look?”
Aziraphale pitied him again, then. He pressed his palm to the soft inner skin of Crawly’s thigh and then drew it up, firm and seeking, to fold his fingers against Crawly’s mound. Crawly keened at that first touch, his hips raising to meet Aziraphale’s hand. Aziraphale dipped his finger between Crawly’s lips and traced the wetness there.
“It’s so wet,” Aziraphale said, stunned.
“That’s what happens to it,” Crawly growled. “It gets—mm! It gets like that with, with attention.”
Aziraphale gently pushed the tip of his finger inside Crawly, then withdrew again. “I’m merely surprised,” he said distantly. “I didn’t imagine a demon could be so open.”
“Angel, please.” Crawly was rocking his hips, shoving against Aziraphale’s fingers. “Need them inside.”
“Hm? Oh, yes, of course.” He slid his middle finger in, just up to the second knuckle, and hummed again. “You’re taking it remarkably well.”
“Yes, yes. Another, I suppose? Since you took that one so well.”
With two fingers inside Crawly the demon was positively at his mercy. Aziraphale bent to kiss the side of Crawly’s fine neck, lavishing attention over the place where he had bitten him earlier. He knew enough to twist his thumb up to rest against Crawly’s clit and he began to rub slow circles and thrust his fingers into Crawly’s cool, soft body.
Crawly writhed beneath him, his head shaking back and forth and tangling his hair something awful. Aziraphale had to pin him down to keep him from shuddering right out from under him. He kept Crawly pinned to the ground as he took him apart with his hand and fingers. Crawly was so slick inside, so wet and open, and there were so many wonderful places to touch that would elicit soft breathy moans or deep-throated groans or high thready gasps from the demon. Aziraphale fucked his hand into Crawly and kissed his neck softly, gently, licking the juncture of his jaw.
“A-angel,” Crawly whined, his legs bracketing Aziraphale’s body. “M-more, just like that.”
Aziraphale kept the pace and pressed just a bit harder and Crawly positively keened beneath him, his entire body taut as a bowstring. Wetness drenched his hand and Crawly let out a startling hiss as he clenched and shook with the force of his orgasm.
Aziraphale coaxed him through it as best he could, attempting to be considerate but not knowing exactly when to stop. Finally when Crawly began to whimper and faint tears beaded at the corners of his eyes Aziraphale pulled away. For want of a miracle he wiped his hand off on the skin rug and then propped himself up to watch Crawly come down from his high.
It happened in bits and pieces. Crawly’s eyes were shut tight, his mouth twisted tightly. Slowly, he softened, his body relaxing, the faint tremors of his limbs fading. He let Aziraphale settle against him and layer kisses against his neck and cheek. After some time Crawly’s eyes opened again and looked up at him, distantly surprised.
“…Thanksss,” he hissed, and then closed his mouth with a click. He cleared his throat and said again, more steadily this time: “Thanks.”
Aziraphale had the thought that Crawly looked very beautiful all laid out beneath him. He wished that he could access his magic just a little. He would have liked to have shared his body with Crawly, too. But perhaps it was for the best that he was temporarily denied giving into temptation.
Instead, he rolled off of Crawly and sat up. He helped Crawly tug his robe back down over his legs. “Of course, dear. It may not have been exactly what you needed but perhaps it helped?”
Crawly grunted. There was a faint flush to his cheeks and he wasn’t looking directly at Aziraphale. Rather, he stared into the fire. “Helped enough.”
“Hmm.” Aziraphale stood and dusted off his robe. The front had come undone under Crawly’s hands, and he redid the tie. “Something to drink, then?”
“Sure.” Crawly sat up with his knees to his chest.
Aziraphale could feel Crawly watching him as he moved about the tent. He wished, not for the first time, that he was a better sort of angel. This would have been an excellent time to be imbued with the certainty of knowing exactly what to do. It would have been wonderful to know exactly how to appease dear Crawly, to set him straight and ease the burden of this knowledge. It would have been wonderful to know with certainty that what was happening was really all for a good reason and to be able to explain it to Crawly. It would have been wonderful to have that certainty for himself, too.
But he had none of that certainty. What he had was a careful façade and two steaming cups, one of which he handed to Crawly and the other he kept for himself. They sat together cross-legged on the floor as the rain poured down outside, a monsoon of destruction that would not let up—if Crawly was correct—for forty more nights.
Aziraphale watched Crawly over the rim of his cup. The demon seemed calmer now, at least. His gaze still slithered towards the tent flap occasionally, a soft sadness to his features that Aziraphale hated to see.
“There isn’t anything you can do,” Aziraphale said.
It should have been cruel, for one to say such things to one’s adversary. But in the silence of the tent it wasn’t anything close to cruel. It merely…was.
“Yeah,” Crawly said, his gaze very distant and somber. “Yeah, I know.”
Aziraphale reached across the small gap between them and took Crawly’s hand in his. He held fast as thunder clapped above them, the rain picking up in intensity again, and together they waited out the storm.