It started out small, these gifts.
The first was a laugh. Crowley's first real one, from the belly. Aziraphale had made some dry comment about the house brown, muttered low enough so as to not have the barmaid hear; that would be rude. But he muttered it to Crowley, or rather into the folds of his toga gathered at his shoulder. And Crowley couldn't help but laugh as they left the tavern to go to Petronius's.
Where Crowley would give Aziraphale his second gift: his platter of oysters, minus the two that Crowley himself had eaten.
"You don't like them?" Aziraphale gasped as Crowley slid them over. He looked so distraught at the idea that Crowley, having let the brine-slick-soft slip down his throat twice, wouldn't be doing it ad infinitum until the world ended.
"They're all right," Crowley said, lemoning the remaining ones for Aziraphale. A squeeze, a dribble, trying to anoint them evenly. "I'm just not really one for eating. Go on, don't let them go to waste."
What he didn't say is, You seem to enjoy them more than me. You deserve them. Isn't that how it should work?
After a few more assurances that it really was fine, Aziraphale tucked in with a look of rapture on his face. Crowley watched him slurp. Very closely.
Well, he sighed to himself, chin propped on his fist. This is going to be a fucking problem.
The thing about giving gifts is—
Well, it's nice, right? It's sweet. It's thoughtful (one hopes). And Crowley is not any of those things. Not supposed to be, anyway.
So it really pisses him off, in a way, when he discovers that he's very good at it. He knows just what Aziraphale will like, what will cause him to light up, eyes first, like the sunrise catching on stained glass windows. Shades of peach and pink brightening, warm. Oh, Crowley, you shouldn't have.
(Yeah, he knows he shouldn't. That's what's so maddening.)
A soot-streaked Bible, holiness singed away, that Crowley plucked from the ruins of a destroyed church in the 12th century. The gramophone with the silver trumpet, once gramophones were invented. A case of very good wine that Crowley happened to know Aziraphale craved, and which Crowley claimed to hate, like Aziraphale was doing him a favor by taking it off his hands. An autographed Waugh. Bottle-green glass after most of it was smashed in the war. A marble carving of a chariot and charioteer nicked from the British Museum, who in turn had nicked it from Rome, so it all worked out, really. Tickets to that show that everyone was making such a fuss over. At least five very stupid Christmas decorations, all spangly lights and tartan bows on plastic boughs and tinny renditions of Good King Wenceslas that played anytime someone walked by. Chocolates in sleek little boxes wrapped in satin ribbon that Crowley said he'd bought for himself, then lost interest.
He gave Aziraphale whatever he could, whenever it was possible. Always with an air of disinterest in Aziraphale's delight. Oh, this old thing? You want it? It's yours; just gathering dust otherwise.
Had an extra. If you're free.
Saw it in a window. Thought only you would want such a ghastly thing, angel.
All right. My treat.
It was Crowley who tossed the coins onto the counter at the creperie in Paris, waving away Aziraphale's protests. It was Crowley who spent his ill-gotten gains in the '80s on increasingly sexual cocktail confections—fluffy ducks and woo-woos and slow comfortable screws—that he and Aziraphale drank in gaudy bars amid neon lights. It was Crowley who always won the civilized tussle for the bill at the Ritz as Aziraphale, weighed down by fruit tarts and clotted cream, made him swear that he would let Aziraphale pay next time. (Crowley always agreed, but then again, Crowley always lied.)
"Really, Crowley," Aziraphale pouted after an afternoon tea sometime in 1998. (One could pinpoint the year by the cologne the angel wore and the fact that the Ritz's pianist was tinkling out a very ill-advised rendition of Aerosmith's I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing.) "It's not fair that you always settle the bill. You hardly have anything but wine and coffee; I should be allowed to treat you once in awhile."
"I don't mind," Crowley said as he signed his little squiggle of a signature on the credit card slip and passed it back to the waiter. "And anyway, what does it matter? We can conjure up as much cash as we like; it doesn't mean anything to pay for stuff, not for us."
This was, for all intents and purposes, the truth. Except that Crowley left out the part about how it felt to slip the waiter his black card faster than Aziraphale could blink. The way the fond, exasperated look on Aziraphale's face could sustain him for hours, sometimes days. The truth—the whole of it—was that Crowley liked paying for Aziraphale's meals and giving him things because it gave him a bit of a thrill.
A slight tingle. Somewhere in his belly, and at the base of his spine.
Crowley supposed it was the buzz of a job badly done. After all, a demon should not be Nice or Good; playing at it just gave him a little high. Like any old sin. When you really think about it, Crowley considered, I'm actually being quite evil.
(Isn't it funny, the way we can talk ourselves into things?)
It got to be a habit the way anything does, to the point where Crowley didn't even question it any longer. He just wanted to give things to Aziraphale, to do things for him because—
No need to peek behind that corner, no need to swing open that bookcase and totter down that hidden corridor. He knew why. But why dwell on it? That wouldn't do anybody any good.
Then Armageddon was averted. And Crowley's world, in a way, ended.
Suddenly the structure was all different. Things had changed. He could dwell. He could...consider the possibility. The little secret squirm in his chest that came alive around Aziraphale, yes, he could name it. You know what it's called, don't you? We don't need to spell it out.
Crowley sat at their usual table at the Ritz and watched as Aziraphale dedicated himself to the smallest, shiniest, pinkest cake ever baked by human hands. And he allowed himself to peer under the rock that he'd placed over his heart these last few thousand years. A little dusty, sure, but it was there.
Maybe he could take a chance in this brave new world. Give Aziraphale one more thing.
"Angel," he said at an unfortunate moment, when Aziraphale's mouth was full of cream and sponge.
"Mmrph?" said Aziraphale, chewing. (Somehow he managed to make the sound a polite one. The wriggle inside Crowley turned into a full-on twinge.)
"Been thinking." Crowley was very glad for his dark glasses in that moment. They hid what was surely a panicked stare. "We should go for oysters sometime. There's a place near mine that's supposed to be good."
(The place was actually more than good; it was the most luxurious spot in all of Mayfair. The oysters were served atop custom ice sculptures with a champagne pairing for each course. All the things Aziraphale liked in a very expensive nutshell. The perfect place to confess one's tender feelings.)
Aziraphale dabbed his lips with his serviette as he swallowed. "Oh, I only eat West Coast oysters these days," he said, offhand. "I find they taste sweeter. More toothsome. Anyway, I thought you didn't care for oysters?"
"Had a sudden craving, I suppose." Crowley fought to keep his mouth from drooping into a frown. "So, West Coast? Of North America, you mean?"
"Yes, my dear." An indulgent smile.
A shrug. "We could go."
Aziraphale blinked. "What, now?"
"No, not now. You just finished eating now. I meant, sometime. Dinner tomorrow, maybe."
"Crowley, I can't just drop everything and go to Vancouver for dinner tomorrow," Aziraphale said with a laugh.
"Why not?" Crowley maintained his composure. He was serious; he didn't want to be laughed at. "What've you got on? No more reports, angel. No more work. We're officially off the payroll. We can do as we like."
"Yes, but—" Aziraphale gave a frustrated sort of huff. "What's the rush?"
The engine of Crowley's heart cut out. Machinery ticking over. Too fast, too fast, bugger all. Should know better. Should be better—at this, and in general. The silence stretched a mite too long, and Crowley looked away, unable to watch the uncomfortable realization dawning in Aziraphale's eyes.
"Yeah. 'Course." Said to a window.
"I didn't mean—" Aziraphale started.
"No worries. Stupid idea, anyway."
"It's not. I would be delighted. It's just—"
"We can drop it," Crowley said with sharp teeth, still staring off to the side.
A beat, then: "I'm not sure we should."
Crowley sucked in a breath. Held it. Gave Aziraphale the time to say what he needed to say. (This, too, was a gift freely given.)
The question came at last. "Why do you go to such lengths to give me things, Crowley?" Aziraphale asked. "It's very sweet, of course, but I don't want you to think it's...a requirement. It most certainly is not."
"I know that," Crowley barked. He shifted in his seat, his head swinging side to side, his eyes not meeting Aziraphale's. A snake not at all charmed nor charming. He clamped his arms over his chest, cupping opposite elbows. "It's not a big thing. Why are you making it such a big thing?"
"You wanted to take me to another continent for dinner," Aziraphale pointed out with unending gentleness. "That seems quite the grand gesture."
"So what?" A pile of sticks contained in a black suit, shrugging all angles. Abort, abort, this was a bad idea. He should have planned, led up to it with some kind of finesse. Aziraphale deserved finesse, not this train-wreck mess he was making in the middle of the dining room of the Ritz. "So I wanted to take you to the bleeding West Coast," he said in cruel mimicry of Aziraphale's posh accent. "Who's such a snob about oysters, anyway? All taste the same to me. Salty snot, ugh." He shivered dramatically.
"First of all," said Aziraphale, crisp, "your palette is abominable."
Crowley snorted, arms still crossed. Heart starting up. Better, better, back to where they should be.
"Secondly," Aziraphale continued, "you are not answering my question." (Heart dropped out of commission again.) "Why do you do these things for me, Crowley? The little presents, the meals—"
"I won't if it bothers you so much." It was supposed to come out a snide hiss. Instead it was a whisper, soft and unarmored.
He meant it. He'd miss the feeling of seeing Aziraphale light up because of something he'd done, but, well. That's how it goes sometimes.
"Oh, my dear." Aziraphale's hand reached across the table and laid beside Crowley's empty coffee cup. "I'm not bothered. I only worry that you might be. Do you really think I need all these gifts?"
Crowley couldn't hide his wince. "Guess not. Pretty useless, aren't they?"
"Would you please stop leaping to the exact wrong conclusion and look at me?"
Aziraphale could, on occasion, speak with a snap in his voice, and it always demanded Crowley's attention. He had it now, head whipping back, coward-yellow eyes peering through black glass at Aziraphale. He was flushed, a bloom on his cheek. Probably furious, Crowley reckoned.
"Sorry," he said, too little, too late.
"Don't be, please," Aziraphale said quietly. His hand inched closer across the white tablecloth. "What I am trying to say—struggling to, I suppose—is that I don't need you to give me things. I already have, well, the greatest gift, miraculous, really, of—" His smile inched upward as if it wasn't sure it would be welcome. "You. The time we spend together. That's all I really want, Crowley."
An ice age blew through Crowley's body. He was frozen in his seat. Tongue crystallized into place. Staring wordlessly.
Aziraphale's hand began to retreat. "Dear me," he murmured. "I've embarrassed you. I am so sorry, I thought—"
"No, wait." Crowley's hand shot out, covering Aziraphale's. Pressing down atop his thick, warm fingers. The feel of his gold ring beneath Crowley's pinkie. They stayed like that in silence for a long moment, just staring at each other.
"I—" Crowley began.
The waiter approached with the bill in its leather book, took in the tableau of the two of them, and without missing a step swooped away, like he was an airplane that couldn't quite manage to land at the moment.
Crowley watched him go with a grimace. "Probably shouldn't do this here," he muttered. He'd wanted to take Aziraphale somewhere perfect, someplace absolutely deserving of Aziraphale's gentle light. Maybe a bridge? Bridges were romantic, weren't they?
"What's wrong with here?" Aziraphale turned his hand beneath Crowley's so that their fingers laced together. "I'm not ashamed," he said, squeezing. "I don't care who sees. Not any longer. Not if— Not if you'll have me."
"If?" Crowley gasped out. How had he managed this? Was it some sort of joke? "It's not a question of if, angel."
"Oh. Good." Aziraphale's lovely blush suffused further down his cheeks to his neck. Crowley's gaze followed it religiously. "Then I suppose the only question we're left with is...when."
"When? When what?" Crowley asked. He was still unconvinced that this wasn't a dream.
"When we might, you know," Aziraphale wriggled happily in his chair, "be alone. So that I might show you exactly how thankful I am for all you've done for me." Then, coyness lifting, eyes softening, he added, "How truly grateful I am for all that you are."
Crowley did not move a muscle or make a sound. Then, with a snap of his fingers, he brought the beleaguered waiter back to their table with the credit machine; the poor man was confused after being transported directly from the kitchen rail but, as befitting the Ritz's training, he did not let his distress show.
"I'll take care of the check now," Crowley said, not moving his eyes off of Aziraphale, Mastercard held aloft between two long fingers.
"Oh, dearest," Aziraphale said, skewering Crowley's already put-upon heart with the new endearment, "let me pay this time."
"Absolutely not," Crowley said, accepting the machine and adding a 100% gratuity.
(He was feeling very generous.)
They took a taxi cab back to the bookshop. Crowley rarely took cabs but the Bentley was still sitting outside his condo. Plus walking seemed like an impossible feat at the moment, his knees being as liquid as they were. Aziraphale touched his hand again in the backseat, a small, tremulous smile on his lips. Crowley made a mental note to tip the driver a ridiculous amount as well; he was about to earn it if he kept his mouth shut and his eyes on the road. Crowley's fingers threaded into Aziraphale's.
"I wanted to do this better," he confessed. "You know, the way it should be done. All nice and— I thought oysters would be special. You like oysters."
"Not as much as I like being with you." Aziraphale reached over, took his dark glasses off his face, slipped them into his own coat pocket. Crowley watched them go helplessly. "You should kiss me now," Aziraphale said, more of a suggestion than an order, but Crowley followed it all the same.
Any taxi cab that has been in service for more than a week has seen its share of kisses. First kisses especially. Normally they occurred after dark, of course, not after lunch. The participants tended to be younger, but when you're over six thousand years old, age isn't the most pressing concern. And anyway, when Aziraphale's mouth, still tasting of cakes, opened against Crowley's, and their tongues brushed buttercream-sweet, Crowley felt as youthful and carefree as a fledgling.
He said the words. Whispered them into the skin at Aziraphale's throat. The ones he'd tried not to chase and examine all these years. And of all the wonders he'd seen that week, this one was the most unbelievable: Aziraphale said them too. Just gave them away, breathed them against Crowley's lips like they weren't the most precious things in the world. Take them back, Crowley wanted to tell him. I haven't done anything to earn them yet, just take them back.
As it was, he sat there wide-eyed, mouth open, until Aziraphale laughed and bussed him on the cheek.
"Don't be so surprised," he murmured. "Surely I was very clear earlier at lunch?"
Crowley was saved from answering as the cab pulled up outside the shop, and the dance of payment had to be done, and then the opening of the doors and offering Aziraphale a hand in exiting. Then they were inside the familiar dust-world of Aziraphale's home, and Aziraphale was gasping happily over the little changes.
"Oh, you were absolutely right, Crowley," he said, running a hand over the shiny leather of the recent additions. "They are new. However did you spot them? I didn't think you were interested in my inventory."
"I'm interested in whatever you like," Crowley admitted. Hands stuffed in his pockets, face hot and naked. Everywhere he looked, there were touches of him in the shop. The globe he'd given Aziraphale back in 1529. A threadbare little rug there in front of the door, once a prized possession of a Persian prince. The till, now an antique, that he'd procured for Aziraphale back when the angel had considered he might actually sell a book once in awhile.
He stared too long at all the little things he'd given the angel over the years, remembering the stories behind them, wondering why Aziraphale had put up with his magpie tendencies for as long as he had. Crowley's eyes fell on the glass case where some of the shop's most precious volumes were displayed. The Waugh sat there on its velvet cushion next to a rare folio of Shakespeare.
Crowley's attention whipped away to see Aziraphale standing in the doorway that led to the back room, his head tilted in invitation.
"Won't you join me?" he asked.
Crowley went, trying not to move too quickly. It wouldn't do to knock over a shelf, not when the bookshop had just been put back to rights.
They had spent countless evenings in this back room over the centuries, getting drunk or arguing or regaling each other with stories. It was a comfortable room. They had long ago each claimed their spot: Aziraphale's cozy wingback, the chesterfield long enough for Crowley to lounge. That night, though, Crowley entered to find Aziraphale sitting on the chesterfield, patting the cushion beside his thigh.
"Sit here with me," he said, and so Crowley did, folding himself into the slim space made slimmer as Aziraphale leaned in to sample him once more.
It might have been awkward, this kissing. Crowley had been imagining it for so long, after all. Most things, when mulled over so obsessively, hardly live up to the expectation. Yet kissing Aziraphale—it was easy. They fit. They moved in unison. Even the sounds their mouths made against each other, which Crowley, with his sensitive ears, might normally pull a face at, were pleasant.
Aziraphale's warm hand slid beneath Crowley's jacket, pressing against his spine through his thin shirt. "My dearest," he said into Crowley's mouth, "you simply have no idea all the things I wish to do to you."
Crowley shivered, not entirely out of pleasure. He'd been afraid of this. He would allow Aziraphale anything he wanted, of course, anything at all—but he worried about the shape that might take. If he couldn't fit into the picture, if he wasn't able to fulfill everything Aziraphale needed. His heart raced as he considered all the ways he might let the angel down.
"Darling, are you quite well?" Aziraphale's hands were on his face now, pulling his head up to meet those concerned spring-sky eyes. "Am I— Is this all too much for you? If you'd like to stop—"
"No, don't stop." Crowley grasped him by the shoulders, pulling him into another kiss, filthy and deep. Don't stop touching me, don't start thinking, don't remember all the reasons why you shouldn't, not with me.
"Oh, you lovely thing," Aziraphale murmured. "You taste wonderful."
I do? Crowley's lips, concerned with learning Aziraphale's jaw, dipped into a little frown. He probably tasted like the coffee he'd had at lunch mixed with the champagne and port. The combination sounded awful, and he suddenly desired one of the myriad breath mint products he'd had a hand in creating around the turn of the last century.
"Now, now." Aziraphale's hands were touching his face again, gentle but insistent in bringing Crowley's gaze back to his. "I can feel you getting distracted, Crowley. That just won't do."
"Sorry." Crowley just barely kept the word from being a groan. He was already messing this up, already making it weird. His heart was going to burst from his chest and slither away to find some more deserving host, someone who wasn't such a fucking—
"No need to apologize, dearest." Aziraphale's fingertips swept a strand of hair from his brow. A benediction. A small smile stole across his kiss-plush mouth. "Maybe this will manage to keep your attention." And with a grace only an angel could possess, he slipped from the sofa onto the worn area rug, working his way between Crowley's knees, his fingers reaching for the zip of his jeans.
"Ngk!" Crowley shot off the chesterfield before one tooth of the zip could give way. He stood, chest heaving, yellow eyes surely going more snake-like as his tension ratcheted. "Angel, come on, wouldn't you rather—?" He tugged at Aziraphale's hands, bringing him to his feet. Aziraphale didn't belong on his knees; didn't he know that?
"Rather what?" Aziraphale asked, wide-eyed.
Never had been big on words, had Crowley. He worked some syllables around his tongue but all that emerged was a distressed hissing sound, like a bicycle tire slowly deflating. He bit it off, looked away. Wished he still had his dark glasses to hide behind.
Their hands were still joined, and Aziraphale brought them to rest against his chest in a warm knot. "Whatever is the matter, Crowley?" Oh, perfect, now Aziraphale was worried. Doing that worried, dewy thing with his eyes and his frown and the wrinkle on his brow.
Crowley nearly choked trying to get a sentence out. "It's just, 'm not—" He shook his head. No, no, no, he'd ruin everything. A dot of wetness welled at the corner of his eye.
"You're nervous," Aziraphale said kindly. "That's all right. I'm a bit nervous myself!"
A half-growl broke free from Crowley's throat. "No. I mean, yes, but. Not. Ugh." He gave up on trying to communicate in English and just stared at the ceiling, blinking back the tears. If God was still up there, he hoped She was having a good laugh at all this.
"Do you," Aziraphale said, soft and tentative, "not want me touching you? Is that it?"
"What? No, I do— Want. That, but mostly I just…" Crowley swung his gaze back to Aziraphale's beloved face. Squeezed Aziraphale's hands. Stared at their fingers, thick and thin all wrapped up together. "I want to do whatever you want me to."
The glowing smile returned to Aziraphale's face. "All right. And if what I want is for you to take a seat and relax while I suck your cock…?"
All right. Crowley straightened. Put on a cocky grin, wore his braggadocio like a cape. "Who am I to deny you?" he asked, and he meant it in layers. A tear slipped free and beaded at Crowley's chin. He wiped it away, hoped Aziraphale wouldn't notice.
Aziraphale's face crumpled. "Oh, my dear." He untangled their hands, used his thumb to smear away another tear from Crowley's cheek. "Will you please tell me what's wrong? I don't understand."
The grin fell into a grimace. He had no answer, so he just made another helpless noise.
"Do you not enjoy cocksucking? I'm very good at it," Aziraphale said. "I'd make sure it was nice."
"No, I know you would," Crowley forced out. "It's only—" He blew out a lungful of air, frustrated.
"Well, I cannot read your mind, much as I try." Aziraphale was on the verge of getting snippy. Then, softer, "Please, whatever it is, it can't be as bad as leaving me in the dark like this."
Crowley stood there in the dusty back room of the shop, inhaling the scent of old books and Aziraphale's concern. He was going to sound absolutely ridiculous. But he had to say something before Aziraphale tossed him out on the street.
"You shouldn't have to do things for me," he finally said in a rush. "I should be doing everything for you." He went to cross his arms over his chest, thought better of it, then shoved his hands into his back pockets, elbows making wings behind him. He didn't dare look up at Aziraphale. Just stared at his shoes.
"That doesn't sound very fair, my dear," Aziraphale said in the quiet that descended.
A shrug. "Who cares about fair. It's—" Right. Good. Words that didn't belong in Crowley's mouth. He clamped down on them.
Crowley was so wrapped up in his swirl of misery that he startled when Aziraphale's hands touched his face again. The angel raised up on tiptoe and kissed him on the mouth.
"All the gifts you give me," he whispered, "all the things you do for me. The little gestures, every favor. Is this more of the same? Do you wish to," he pinked in the cheeks, "lavish me with your attentions, Crowley?"
"Yeah." He spoke as if he'd just witnessed one of the great wonders of the world being put up in under a minute. His hands stole across Aziraphale's welcoming hips. "That's— Yeah."
"You could have just asked." A wicked smile on that angelic face.
Crowley shook his head. "No. I couldn't."
There was a pause in which they stared at each other in mutual understanding.
"All right," said Aziraphale. "I will accept this gift from you, but sometime in the future—not today, mind, but someday—we must work on you accepting mine. I'd like to be allowed to get on my knees for you eventually. Are we agreed?"
"Completely," Crowley said, amazed all over again with this creature who knew him so thoroughly. "In future. Swear." Maybe by then he could fix whatever was wrong with himself.
"Come upstairs, then." A twinkle in that clever eye, a tug on his arm. "I might have a bed up there still, if it's not buried in books."
The bed was not buried, exactly, but it was certainly ringed by leaning stacks of volumes as if the bed's owner pressed it into service only when he desired to read in a supine position and never for sleep—which was accurate.
Crowley immediately knocked over a stack, not watching where he placed his booted foot. He cursed and bent to grab the books off the floor, but Aziraphale laughed.
"Just leave it. I'm the one that needs seeing to at the moment," he said, pulling him over to the soft white bed with its fluffy duvet and mountain of pillows.
Crowley's eyes must have shown his anticipation, because Aziraphale's smile grew and his voice dropped.
"Oh yes," he purred, "you'll do that for me, won't you? Are you going to take care of me, Crowley?"
Crowley made a strangled sort of sound, hands winding into Aziraphale's hair.
"Didn't quite catch that," the angel said, laughing.
"Sorry, I— Not much for talking," Crowley stammered, "during."
"Understandable. You'll be ever so busy; I wouldn't expect you to stop and chat." Aziraphale paused. White teeth worried his bottom lip. "Do you mind if I—? Or would you have me quiet?"
"No. Never that." Crowley kissed him. Deep, slick. His need to encourage Aziraphale's wanton urges dovetailed for once with his own needs, and so he decided to make a small request. "I want your noises," he said into Aziraphale's ear before he moved on to his rosy throat.
Aziraphale obliged him. With perfect pitch.
There had been ample time over the centuries for Crowley to imagine how he might undress Aziraphale if ever given the opportunity. In his younger and less cautious days, Crowley would dream of ripped seams and frayed lace, the total destruction of Aziraphale's stuffy clothes. It had not occurred to that younger Crowley that Aziraphale might not enjoy his shirts and stockings being torn apart. But this Crowley, the one who found himself in Aziraphale's little bedroom at the top of the stairs, had witnessed Aziraphale's disappearance from the world and his miraculous return, and so he felt a bit more care was in order.
He started on the suit jacket first, hands trembling at its collar. He'd worn it himself mere hours ago, knew it was soft, worn fine with age. It fell away from Aziraphale's shoulders, down his arms, off his hands. Crowley stood staring at Aziraphale in his shirtsleeves, coat held in his numb fingers, and tried to think about what to undo next.
"You're going so deliciously slow," Aziraphale murmured. "I'm so impressed."
Crowley ducked his head, not wanting to show just how red in the face he was at such a throwaway compliment, and found a hanger for the jacket. Then he went on one knee before Aziraphale. Staring up the length of his body. And began unlacing his brogues with deft finger-flicks.
"Dearest—" Aziraphale reached a hand toward his head, then stopped, as if the urge to grab his fiery hair scared him in its intensity. "May I?"
"Nngh." Crowley butted his head against Aziraphale's palm like a cat seeking a good stroking. He felt a little feline at the moment—starved for touch, for attention. All the bones seemed to leave his body as Aziraphale's fingers at last dug into the hair at the back of his head. He rested his forehead on Aziraphale's warm thigh, panting hot air through the wool of his trousers.
"Goodness," Aziraphale breathed.
He was enjoying himself too much, forgetting Aziraphale's pleasure; that's all that mattered. Hands moved more quickly now. Helping Aziraphale's feet out of the brogues, unclasping the tartan socks from their garters, rolling them down. The waistcoat buttons, each golden coin slipping through his fingers. The long line of his nose pressed against Aziraphale's cock, thickening beneath his cheek, smelling of earth and rain. Breathing damp through the fabric.
"You beautiful creature." Aziraphale cupped his head in one palm, holding him there, letting him breathe in the pulsing scent of him. "Did you take a peek when we were in each other's bodies? I must confess—I was overcome with curiosity myself. That's how I knew you had the most delicious-looking cock."
Crowley surged to his feet, lips seeking Aziraphale's filthy mouth, hands still undressing him with all the care they could manage. Every layer, stripped away. Each square centimeter of skin, bared for worship.
"Come on, then," Aziraphale panted while Crowley's teeth became acquainted with his ear. "Did you? Nod or shake your head if you can't speak."
Crowley couldn't do both, so he spoke, face buried against that warm shoulder. "I didn't look," he said, low. "But I touched."
"You naughty thing." His voice was full of delight. "You cupped my prick through my trousers? Did it stiffen for you?" Aziraphale laughed at Crowley's answering groan. "Yes, I suppose it did."
Crowley remembered the shame of that moment, locked in Aziraphale's back room, locked in his beloved body, knowing it was wrong, and knowing he couldn't stop himself. Not caring as soon as he felt Aziraphale's flesh, stout and thick like the rest of him, under his hand. He'd thought it was his only chance, after all, so he took it, and damn the consequences.
"Sorry," he murmured. Head shaking. "Shouldn't've."
"Well, it would be rather hypocritical of me to be angry with you about it." Aziraphale grabbed up his hand. Pressed it over his bare cock. To be allowed to touch now, without clothes in the way, to be able to drink his fill—
Crowley growled as he curled his fingers around Aziraphale's prick, backing him up into the bed until he had no choice but to fall back onto it. What a vision he was, all soft roundness and blushing cream, open and aching for whatever Crowley might do.
"Now I believe there was some mention of you doing everything for me this afternoon," Aziraphale said primly, making himself comfortable against the flow of pillows. He flung his arms above his head. Lips parted, eyes half-lidded. "Shall I just lay here, then? And just—?" His mouth twitched as he tried to find the right words.
For once, it was Crowley who had them. "Yes," he hissed, crawling onto the bed and caging in Aziraphale with his long limbs. "Just look pretty as a picture."
"Oh, really, darling." Aziraphale pouted. "I'm not the pretty one between us; surely you realize."
He growled his dissent and set to kissing Aziraphale silent before slithering down his body. There was so much ground to cover, all of it holy. A wonder Crowley could worship it without being burned.
Oh, how quickly he'd be reduced to ash for the privilege.
His lips and tongue paused somewhere in the middle of Aziraphale's chest, and he looked up to find those long-loved eyes staring back at him. The tickle of white-blond chest hair against his cheek. He could cry over the shell-pink color of Aziraphale's nipple. Too perfect, too good for his sinner's mouth. His eyes squeezed shut.
"Crowley?" Gentle hands were on him again, stroking his sweaty hair from his brow. "Are you letting those pesky thoughts distract you again?"
"Are you sure?" Crowley asked. He should have asked much, much earlier. "D'you...really not mind—this? Me?" His hand rubbed tentatively at Aziraphale's ribs.
"You sweet boy." Aziraphale smiled down at him. "Do you love me?"
"Yes." No hesitation.
"Do you want to please me?"
"More than anything."
"That's all I require, then." Aziraphale settled back against his pillows, shoulders wiggling in delight. "Although I wouldn't say no to you getting undressed. As lovely as you look in your togs, dearest, I'm sure the view would be infinitely improved without them."
He hurried to give the angel what he wanted. No careful unwrapping for Crowley, just quick and jerky until he was stripped to nothing. Skin to skin, cock to cock, covering Aziraphale with all he had. His mouth on his lips. He could love Aziraphale like this. He could finally love him.
"That's so nice, yes," Aziraphale cooed as Crowley licked at his ear once more. Gooseflesh broke out on his soft legs, shivery beneath Crowley's bony ones. "Oh, yes, darling, you're so lovely, you're so good —"
They froze, both of them remembering the last time Aziraphale had tried to give that compliment to Crowley. They had been in public, damn it all, and Crowley's heart was already on the edge of a knife, what with the imminent end of the bloody world and— Yeah, he had not accepted it gracefully.
In that moment, though, the words made Crowley's cock pulse against Aziraphale's thigh. He pulled back to stare down at this most perfect creature.
Say it, Crowley wanted to beg, but had no words left in his throat. Say it now that I can hear it, please. I can almost believe it when it's you saying it.
Blue eyes widened. "Yes," Aziraphale breathed, more sure now. "So good to me. You're going to take such good care of me, aren't you? Oh, please—"
A season for gifts. He gave Aziraphale a kiss. He gave him his fingers. He gave him his sweat and his skin, his teeth at his throat, he gave all the air from his lungs and all the heat in his blood. He gave Aziraphale his cock. Slid it into his readied body as easy as anything. Wouldn't even take his pleased cries as payment, just muffled them against his shoulder as he fucked into Aziraphale. Slow, comfortable. A machine meant for pleasing angels, this one specifically.
"You were made for it, Crowley," said Aziraphale, laid out beneath him in a hedonistic sprawl, his legs spread wide to make room for him to rut. His hands curled sweetly against his flushed chest. "May I touch you? I really must—"
Crowley ducked his head, nosed his way under one of Aziraphale's hands until it settled in his hair. Took the other one by the wrist and guided it to his thin, snapping hipbone. Of course you can touch me, I'm bowled over that you'd want to. Don't need to ask, not when we're like this.
"You feel so—" Aziraphale clung to him, wedging them close together, skin sliding slickly. "Crowley, you are good, you are kind, you love me so well, the best, that's what you are."
Crowley's body sang. Aziraphale was striking every chord inside his hollow chest. He worked his hips harder into the soft acceptance of the angel.
"Dearest, your eyes, they're beautiful, they are positively glowing. Are you enjoying yourself?"
"Oh yes," Crowley hissed.
"Do you think you might—?" Aziraphale's gaze fell to Crowley's slack mouth. "Finish inside me? I'm greedy for it, I'm afraid. I want to be filled up by you. Will you do that for me?"
Not going to be a problem, was Crowley's thinking. He was already gritting his teeth together in an effort to keep his end at bay. "You first," he ground out, wrapping a hand around Aziraphale's red, bobbing prick.
"Oh!" Aziraphale arched up against him, clutching all around him. "Oh, darling, if I do I'll be useless the rest of the day! I won't be able to do anything but lay back and let you fuck me again; I'll hardly be able to open my eyes; I'll be too wrung out, that's what you do to me, you know. Would that be all right, Crowley? Would you be too upset if I come off and let you do all the work, dear boy?"
"You sure you're not part demon?" Crowley asked wildly, jerking his head to get his hair out of his eyes. "You can certainly talk like one."
Aziraphale kissed him, taking all the pounding thrusts now, all the ramped up fucking Crowley could give him. "I suppose I must have a little of you in me, love." He smirked. Then, crying out: "Ah! Yes, just there. I'm—"
Remember this. Crowley stared down into Aziraphale's face, memorizing the open circle of his lips as his hand grew soaked. Keep this locked away. This precious thing. Don't you dare forget it.
"Crowley," Aziraphale breathed, resting upon the dunes of the bedsheets, completely boneless. "Oh please. I love you, please."
Crowley gave him this, too. His seed, his stifled sounds. Bruises on his soft thighs.
Aziraphale's smile was transcendent. "So much. Oh, thank you. I can feel it. Still going."
Crowley's arms shook where he held himself above the decadent spread of Aziraphale. "Sorry," he muttered as a squelch of fluid escaped Aziraphale's body, dribbling out to stain the bedsheets translucent.
"Always apologizing, my dear." Aziraphale reached up to stroke his hot cheek, then let his arm fall back to the bed as if the movement had sapped the last of his strength. "You did exactly as I wanted; don't be sorry, my good, kind, sweet boy."
Crowley couldn't hide the effect those words had on him. Didn't want to. He shivered, still inside, and worked his tongue in his over-wet mouth.
"I still— You said some things. I need to do them still," he said. "If you meant it. If you want me to."
Aziraphale lit up. "You mean, if I desire you to ravish me again while I lie here like a heathen? It's not a question of if, dearest."
Crowley felt himself harden fully anew, had never really gone back down. "Like this, still?" He stroked his messy hand along Aziraphale's smooth thigh, hips already moving against him again.
"Well, it might be nice to— Hold on a tick." Aziraphale moved, which was terrible enough—Crowley had quite liked the idea of keeping him right there for at least the remainder of the evening if not the week—and Crowley's cock slipped from his hole, which was worse. Thankfully, the anguish was short-lived, as Aziraphale rolled onto his belly to give Crowley a view of his broad back and plump arse. Thick thighs parted, the blushing skin splattered with demonic seed.
"You might apply yourself to me like this," said Aziraphale, wriggling. "And I might lay here and relax and, oh, I don't know—" He plucked a book from a nearby stack beside the bed. "Get some reading done."
"Reading?" Crowley barked, teeth showing. "Now?"
"Might as well." Aziraphale tossed him a saucy look over his creamy shoulder. "I am meant to be enjoying myself very thoroughly, after all. What better way than by indulging in all my weaknesses? You, some fine poetry…" He waggled the book in the air. "A few desserts and I would never need to leave this bed, to be honest."
Crowley tamped down the fire that had been flaming round his ego. He could be playful, too, if that's what Aziraphale wanted. Might even be...fun.
"You really think you'll be able to read while I'm seeing to you?" His hand reached out and grabbed a handful of Aziraphale's buttock, squeezing the cheek. "You could barely say your own name a moment ago."
"Mmm. I like a little confidence on you," Aziraphale said, cracking open the book and propping himself on his elbows. "Why don't we find out? I can read aloud to you, if you like. That will keep me honest."
"You're on, angel." Crowley crawled between the V of his legs, intent. "What sort of poetry is it? The dirty kind?"
"Depends on one's viewpoint. The author is from Canada. You wanted to take me there for oysters, didn't you? Seems fitting."
"I can't very well take you there anymore," Crowley drawled.
A hurt glance over a shoulder, white-gold brows winged high. "Whyever not?"
"Because you're going to stay in this bed forever. Once I lay in some cakes." His grin was feral. His hands, busy.
Aziraphale laughed and faced forward once again, bent over his book. "Quite right. Now, which poem would you like, I wonder." He flipped through the pages. "Ah, here's one that might suit."
Before he even had a chance to clear his throat and begin, Crowley's mouth was between his legs, a hand on each arse cheek, spreading him open for Crowley's clever tongue.
"O-oh!" Aziraphale jumped and shook under his ministrations.
A smile grew wide enough to stretch between his spread thighs. "Good?" Crowley asked.
"You know it is! Ah, Crowley, how good you are. Your mouth, my word, it's—"
Another lick, a twist of muscle. Aziraphale fairly screamed. Crowley had always been talented in this area and he was rather pleased to see his skills finally put to such an excellent use. He licked his hungry lips.
"You promised to read to me," he said, nipping at one quivering buttock.
"Oh yes. Erm, where was I?" Aziraphale fumbled for a pair of tiny reading spectacles on the nightstand and applied them to his face. Crowley allowed it, quite liking the picture Aziraphale made when completely nude except for the silly things.
He licked into him again. Worshiped his way inside. Strange, tasting his own spend, but it was just the kind of filthy that Aziraphale seemed to enjoy, if the tremors were any clue.
The angel seemed to bring himself under some kind of control and began again, voice steady. "Right, here we are. 'Tell me. Have you ever seen woods so deep—'"
Crowley licked deeper.
"Ah! 'S-so deep, so every tree a word—'"
Two thin fingers thrust into the wet squeeze of him, making themselves comfortable alongside Crowley's tongue.
"Fuck," Aziraphale squeaked. A beautiful sound. He bravely returned to the text. "'Does your heart stop?'"
Give it a minute, Crowley thought. It can't last much longer. He rose to his knees and lined himself up, the redhot-poker of his cock finding its way back into Aziraphale. Fucking into the already-slick of him.
"Oh, dearest, yes! I— 'Once I saw a cloud. In Bolivia. So...so…'"
"What is it, angel?" Crowley growled into the line of his spine, his own body curving over Aziraphale like a bridge. Like it was easy. "So what?"
"'So deep,'" Aziraphale gasped out.
Crowley slammed into him as far as he could. He sped up and could not stop, hands clamped to Aziraphale's soft waist, fucking him into the bed with all his whipcord strength.
And through it all, Aziraphale was still bloody reading. "'Mountains were cowering,'" he whimpered into a pillow. "'Do you ever—ever—?'" He muffled a wail in the feather down before surfacing with a sigh. "'Look inside so quick you see the secret.'"
Don't need secrets. Not anymore.
Aziraphale attempted to keep reading diligently. "'Word inside the word.' Oh—!"
The book fell from his hands and was knocked off the bed by the force of Crowley's thrusts. "Oh, Crowley, you give me your cock so well, you give me everything I need, my dear, dearest, yes—!"
"Tell me," Crowley said to Aziraphale's skin. A prayer, not an order. A supplicant kneeling for a sacrament. "Tell me," he said.
He listened as Aziraphale came again, one touch of Crowley's hand wriggling under his belly all it took to bring him off. He listened to the words that poured from Aziraphale's mouth as a song. Curses and endearments and praise and wonder. Crowley listened to the faint whine in the back of Aziraphale's throat as he came to the end of his end and realized Crowley had not yet joined him. He listened to the pleas: "Inside me, come inside me, come—"
He did what he was asked.
"Oh Lord," said Aziraphale as he lay motionless on the bed, a mess of white and gold and blushing peach. He didn't move an inch as Crowley pumped him full a second time. "My God."
"You little blasphemer," Crowley whispered as he shook apart.
"Yes. Oh, yes, I am." A contented settling of his hips, pushing back onto Crowley's still-jerking cock. "Crowley, dearest, that was just magnificent. Thank you."
"Is there." Crowley held still, clenched in the wet heat of Aziraphale and not wanting to leave unless asked. "Anything else. I can do?"
"Darling, I'm absolutely done in at the moment." He turned to look over his sweat-dew shoulder, a light in his eyes. "You've done more than enough, don't you think?"
Crowley nodded absently. Right. He slipped out of Aziraphale's body, wincing at the rush of thick seed that followed.
"What did I say about apologies?" Aziraphale hummed sleepily. The bed creaked. "You worry too much sometimes, love."
Crowley looked up, finding Aziraphale turned over on his side, watching him. Is that what you call me now? Love? How can that be my name?
"Can I—" Crowley shook his head. A question, really? A request? Wasn't like him. But he felt so strange, so hollowed out, like someone had taken a melon-baller to him, and all he wanted was for Aziraphale to touch him again.
"Come here, my darling." Like the answer to a prayer unsaid, Aziraphale was there. Holding Crowley in his arms, drawing him shaking down to the bedsheets. Face to face, bodies curled together. "Rest a moment. Let me tell you how wonderful you are; I think you should hear at least a partial list."
"I don't deserve—" Crowley said, then stopped.
"Yes?" Aziraphale waited, stroking his hair.
The word inside the word. Take it out. Look at it closely.
Crowley swallowed. "You are made to serve." Whispered into the warm fullness of Aziraphale's chest where his ribs housed his heart.
"My dearest Crowley." A kiss on the crown of his head. "My sweet." Over his eyelid. "My beloved darling, the best thing in this life." To his lips. "How lucky I am that you think so."
"Other way round," Crowley mumbled, squirming under the praise.
"Hm. That's very kind of you but of course you're incorrect." He cuddled close, pulling the duvet over them both. "Now, will you give me the pleasure of a little nap?"
"You don't sleep," Crowley said, already halfway there himself.
"No, but I don't mind watching you do it." Angel lips touched his brow. "And I can always catch up on my reading while you doze." He quirked his mouth. "I suspect I'll need to, since you'll be distracting me from it every hour you're awake."
Crowley laughed then.
A real one, from deep in the belly.
"Is that my new job, then?" he asked, delighted. "Demon Formerly of Hell, ex-tempter, current overseer of all earthly pleasures of the Principality Aziraphale, particularly the ones of the flesh variety?"
"But of course," Aziraphale said with faux seriousness. "I'm getting you cards printed up and everything."
"They'll need to be bloody big cards."
"Well, it's a bloody big job." He smiled across the pillow. "You really are amazing, dearest."
Crowley smiled back. Cuddled closer, his head nestled against Aziraphale's chest. And he allowed Aziraphale to give him the gift of rest, while he, in turn, gave Aziraphale the satisfaction of seeing him sleep soundly in perfect repose.