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The Unexpected Habit

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‘I’m going out, angel,’ Crowley calls from the back room, accompanied by the various rustling and banging sounds that mean he’s knocking around refilling his pockets with all the things he took out the evening before.

Aziraphale makes a vague humming noise and turns over a page; it isn’t every day, after all, that he gets a first printing of one of the better volumes of the Encyclopédie on his desk. It’s rather fun to see which of his suggested edits made it in.

Crowley ambles out of the back room, absorbed in something on his phone. ‘Just got to knock a few things over, ruin a few afternoons, you know how it is.’

‘Yes, of course.’ Aziraphale reaches out to pick up his cocoa mug.

‘I’ll be back around dinnertime if you’d like to go out somewhere.’

They haven’t moved in together, not really. It’s just that Crowley brought over a ‘Hey, we’re still alive -- how about that’ case of wine the night after the Apoca-not, they’d drunk most of it, and Crowley ... hadn’t left. That had been about eight months ago. He disappears sometimes, but never without explanation and only once for more than two days. Aziraphale doesn’t mind; it’s rather pleasant, in fact, not to be the only one in the shop.

Aziraphale nods. ‘Mm. Why don’t you bring something back? Whatever you like.’

Crowley chuckles. ‘Sure, angel. Something that won’t get your fingers dirty? Wouldn’t want to hurt the books now.’

Aziraphale purses his lips and tries to look offended but, honestly, it still makes him so happy that Crowley is alive and here to tease him about his reading that it doesn’t come across very well. ‘You were there, too, you know. In fact…’ He turns a few pages back and taps a paragraph. ‘...I think this little gem was your suggestion.’

‘Oh?’ Crowley steps behind the desk and cranes his neck to see. He reads silently for a minute, then chuckles. ‘You can’t expect me not to take advantage of a human who’s that pissed off his skull.’

‘All the future generations of man, indeed.’ Aziraphale tries to huff but it really comes out as a fond smile.

‘Not my fault he fell for it,’ Crowley says cheerfully, already re-absorbed in whatever his mobile’s telling him. ‘I’ll bring you back something delicious, angel.’

Aziraphale nods, his attention drifting back to the page: the suggestion that all the future generations of humans were contained between Adam’s testes and Eve’s ovaries is patently ridiculous but just look how close it had led them to actual genetic science-- Vaguely, he feels Crowley’s hand on his shoulder and looks up to say goodbye.

The kiss doesn’t register at all; he’s too busy thinking about homunculi.


Crowley lets the shop door bang shut behind him and wanders across the street to the Bentley, poking at his mobile the while. He doesn’t really have any particular plans for this afternoon; he just feels restless and getting out there and spreading a little disarray in greater London will keep him from spreading any of it in Aziraphale’s shop.

He slides into the car, tosses his mobile on the dash, and turns the key.

Nothing.

He checks that instruments that have been in their positions since approximately 1924 are still in them and turns the key again.

Nothing.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ he demands of the steering wheel.


Aziraphale takes a sip of chocolate and frowns. He knows he hasn’t been reading long enough for the stuff to go bad, so where on earth is the smoky taste coming from? This had been perfectly straightforward honey-sweetened hot chocolate -- with perhaps a tad more cream than is strictly necessary -- and it tastes like lapsang.

He takes another sip and registers that his lips feel odd against the ceramic. He puts the cup carefully aside and touches his mouth with a fingertip. His lips feel...sticky, no, more tacky and when he looks down at his fingers, it’s clear that they’re also sparkly.


‘We both know I’ll get you running one way or another,’ Crowley informs the Bentley. ‘So why don’t you just take the easy way out and start now?’

If cars breathed, this one would heave an enormous sigh. The engine turns over with the most reluctance Crowley has ever heard and he scowls at the steering wheel, licks his lips, and raises one finger, preparatory to delivering a solid dressing-down.

But the corner of his mouth tastes of sweet dark chocolate and he swallows the words he had been about to say.


Aziraphale lowers his head slowly to sniff at his fingers and, yes, that’s the stuff Crowley uses on -- on -- oh.


When he gets outside, Aziraphale sees the Bentley is still across the street, the engine quiet, Crowley seemingly frozen in position staring through the windscreen with one hand lifted.

Aziraphale crosses the street and bends over by the driver’s side window. Crowley still doesn’t move. ‘Er…’ He taps on the glass with one knuckle and Crowley jumps hard enough to slam his knee into the steering wheel. ‘Oh, my dear! I am sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you!’

Crowley turns very slowly to look at him and even through the extra layer of glass, Aziraphale can see his eyes are wide. He can also see the faint sheen of the lip stuff and it makes a not at all unpleasant feeling twine through his chest to think he knows what it tastes like.

Crowley makes no other move, though, and Aziraphale will not have this conversation through a closed window.

‘Do you think you might, ah…’ Aziraphale mimes rolling down the window and Crowley swallows. The window inches down until Aziraphale can lay his hand on it.

‘Er. Hi.’ Crowley swallows again and wipes his thumb against the corner of his mouth, licking his lips reflexively. ‘I -- uh -- I didn’t -- I mean -- did we -- we didn’t--’

‘We did,’ Aziraphale says, feeling the most curious calm come over him. It’s almost as if it rises in response to Crowley’s evident fluster. ‘Apparently.’

‘Ah.’

Calm does not mean knowing what to say, however, and Aziraphale has to dig for words. ‘Your -- your lip stuff is very sweet.’

There’s a small sound that almost sounds like eep and Crowley clears his throat loudly. ‘Yes. Well. Saves me having to put sugar in everything. Handy, that.’

‘Indeed.’ Aziraphale drums his fingers on the door frame and then, since Crowley clearly isn’t going to take any initiative, he pulls the door open and stands out of the way so Crowley has somewhere to stand up. ‘Come on, then.’

‘Come on...where?’ Crowley asks cautiously, turning his head to peer up at Aziraphale and making no other move.

‘Well.’ Aziraphale licks his lips, tastes the smoky sweetness again, and shivers. It isn’t a surprise, really, that he and Crowley are here. It’s a very human thing, the sensation in the pit of his stomach and the sudden itch to reach out and see how soft Crowley’s hair really is, but they’re both more human than they are anything else at this point. He’d expected something of the sort around the fifteenth century, honestly, but he realises now that was just post-nap exuberance on Crowley’s part.

But they’ve been each other’s for -- how long? Millennia, Aziraphale suspects at this point, looking down at Crowley. Regardless of anything else -- literally, fire, famine, and plague -- they came back to each other, sometimes in the middle of one of those three. Again and again and again. And, as such, it’s truly stupid that their first kiss was something neither of them had been paying attention to.

‘Well,’ Aziraphale repeats. ‘I thought. I rather thought. That. If -- if this is something we’re doing now --’ He lifts his chin slightly and barrels on before Crowley can say anything. ‘-- then I rather think I’d like the opportunity to put a little more effort into it.’

There’s the tiny eep sound again and then Crowley is out of his seat, taking up all the possible air on the pavement, crowding Aziraphale back against the bonnet of the Bentley. He looks at Aziraphale for a long moment then, slowly, reaches up and slides off his sunglasses. Aziraphale takes them out of his hand and puts them in his own pocket and lets Crowley look him over.

‘You’re -- you -- I --’

‘Yes.’

‘But -- but you don’t--’

Aziraphale shifts his weight and Crowley’s mouth falls open. ‘I seem to.’

‘...oh,’ Crowley says very faintly and licks his lips.

‘Er...unless...of course -- I mean to say, if you’d rather not--’

Crowley grabs him by the chin and kisses him until Aziraphale’s lips ache, caught between his own teeth and the pressure of Crowley’s mouth. He winds his fingers in the front of Crowley’s shirt and holds him close.

‘That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard you say, angel,’ Crowley breathes, leaning their foreheads together and closing his eyes. ‘Please don’t say it again.’

‘Never,’ Aziraphale agrees.