The thing is, in the beginning, if it weren't for a bit of passive-aggressive bureaucracy, Aziraphale would have been a woman-shaped being of the world.
It was the promotional materials that first caught Aziraphale's many eyes: "Coming soon! Corporations inspired by Her hottest new design—humans" advertized the flyer stuck to the metaphysical equivalent of a ratty corkboard in Heaven's version of a breakroom. There were illustrations of two model forms, and Aziraphale had been rather charmed by the look of the shorter of the two. So many pleasing curves! They could just about imagine how lovely it would be to wrap one's arms around oneself and luxuriate in the softness. Or, to draw a friend in for an affectionate snuggle. Why, there were even built-in cushions for a companion to lay their head upon if they so desired. Not that Aziraphale had all that many friends they thought would desire that sort of association, but hope was a virtue.
Aziraphale had just recently received a memo from the higher ups about a new project they were being assigned to. Honestly, it was a bit of a relief. They'd done adequately so far as a Cherub, enough to be assigned a spot near the back of the throne to extol Her virtues in heavenly song. But there was no mistaking that Aziraphale struggled to get on easily with their coworkers.
The other Cherubs were just so serious, and clearly chuffed about their terrible faces and holy fire and flaming swords. During breaks, Aziraphale's coworkers' favorite pastime was either telling stories about the glory days of the war, speculating about what portents might herald the onset of the next one, or otherwise fantasizing about the kind of divine punishments they'd exact on the Other Side once the next war commenced. It was, frankly, boring. Aziraphale hadn't seen much action in the first war—they had only just started bootcamp when the Fall began—but what they had seen was thoroughly mortifying in every sense of the word. Aziraphale just couldn't generate any divine enthusiasm when with every snarling, demonic visage they encountered they couldn't help but look for a familiar feature, a clinging flake of gold that might confirm they were about to strike down someone they used to sing beside.
In any case, when Gabriel had called Aziraphale into their office to go over the details of the new assignment, Aziraphale was pleased they could exhibit genuine enthusiasm. Imagine, a lovely garden filled with all manner of exciting flora and fauna, and of course Her latest creation, which Aziraphale was absolutely certain they would adore. Even guard duty sounded appealing in such a novel setting.
"When the Metatron asked who we could put on the Eastern Gate, I said I knew just the angel for the job," Gabriel said with a confident smirk. "Reliable, works well solo, and with a dedicated interest in even Her most ineffable designs. I noted in your last self assessment you indicated a desire for more fieldwork. Well! What better field than Earth?" Gabriel leveled them with a serious, beryl-tinged stare. "We're counting on you, Aziraphale. Don't let us down."
"Of course!" Aziraphale rushed to say. "Er, or, I suppose, of course not?" And then, finally, "I won't let Her down."
About twenty of the eyes writhing on the wings covering Gabriel's awful face squinted suspiciously. But then they shrugged their second set of wings as if to acknowledge there wasn't much point in fussing over affirming loyalty to "us" versus "Her." They were practically one in the same thing, after all.
Anyway, all this was to say that when Aziraphale reported to the quartermaster to be outfitted for their new position, they'd already had plenty of time to think on it and form a preference for the model of corporation they would be assigned.
"Aziraphale, Cherub, newly assigned guardian of the Eastern Gate of Eden," the quartermaster read off from the file in their hands in a monotone. They looked up and fixed Aziraphale with a considering gaze. "Oh, I know about you." They nodded decisively and brought forward one of the man-shaped corporations. "Standard issue for gate guardians. There are a few features you can customize. It's all in the manual."
"Oh," Aziraphale said, trying and failing to keep all the disappointment out of their voices. "If it's all the same, I'd prefer the woman-shaped corporation, please." They tried flashing a bright smile on all four of their beastly faces.
The quartermaster frowned. "Man-shaped is standard issue," they repeated in the sort of tone that absolutely let you know that they knew that you knew that they had literally just said this same thing not half a minute ago.
"Er, quite, but... well, is it required?" Aziraphale asked. "I believe I would be more effective in my duties in the woman-shaped model," they tried, judiciously leaving out that they considered comfort and effectiveness intrinsically related.
That warranted Aziraphale a narrow-eyed look. "I have access to your performance records, don't forget. Man-shaped is built default to physical strength and intimidation." These were both areas Aziraphale knew quite well they usually received "room for improvement" marks in. "As the quartermaster, it's my prerogative to know what will actually make you lot effective." They pursed their entire face at Aziraphale.
Blushing hadn't been invented yet, but Aziraphale was not a fan of the churning discomfort in the center of his being. "Of course," they said.
Aziraphale dutifully put on the man-shaped corporation.
Later, after he saw what became of Eve, and her daughters, and her daughter's daughters, Aziraphale sadly thought that perhaps the quartermaster had a touch of foresight. Certainly, being man-shaped leant a certain advantage when it came to interacting with his human charges, though that rarely had anything to do with how physically strong or intimidating he was (or wasn't, as he'd run to soft in all manner of ways quite quickly).
He still almost discorporated on the spot in petty, jealous fury the first time he saw the Archangel Michael—warrior of warriors—strut through the halls of Heaven in her corporation.
The thing is, after it's all over, is that Aziraphale is feeling quite beside himself with the knowledge that, for the first time in existence, he doesn't have to worry about performance reviews or out-of-touch bosses. True, he is a creature of habit, but now he no longer has to contend with an ever-constant litany of "is this new thing, this indulgence, this experience something Heaven won't approve of?" when exposed to something new. If he truly wanted, he could be downright spontaneous, and for all practical purposes, Heaven won't say boo. It's an idea he's been warming up to and that Crowley is taking full advantage of (and sometimes reaping the benefits of) in all manner of ways.
So, when Crowley sashays into his bookshop one day several months after the Apocalypse-that-wasn't in high-femme, woman-shaped form, Aziraphale's second thought after "oh, how lovely she looks" is "wouldn't that be nice to try finally."
"Aziraphale," Crowley purrs as she approaches. She's wearing a black silk shirt with the cuffs rolled up and enough buttons undone to reveal with every step a brief glimpse of the shockingly red corset with a lace trim underneath. Her short black skirt is slinky with a voluminous hem, and the snakeish sway of her hips makes the red lining underneath dance and flicker about her thighs like hellfire. Black leather ankle boots, giant designer sunglasses, and a few pieces of heavy silver jewelry complete the look. Aziraphale greatly appreciates the aesthetic: she's a vivid portrait of dark temptation with hints of wicked fire just below the surface; it's a little on the nose, but no less effective for it.
"What a picture you make," he compliments as she saunters up to his desk and hoists herself up to sit on the edge. Whenever she puts in a bit of extra effort into her presentation, in any shape or dressing, she tends to pout if Aziraphale doesn't pay due notice.
"Thanks, angel. Was just out and about being a temptation." She slides the designer glasses from her face and shakes fiery curls back from her neck with a wicked grin as she lifts perfectly sculpted eyebrows at him. "Lunch?"
She's put herself quite close to him. If he hadn't pushed back his chair as she approached, her leg would have been pressed right up against his arm. Aziraphale blinks as the disparate details—the outfit, the proximity, the flirtatious invitation—rearrange themselves in his mind and he realizes they quite likely total up to an expectant sum.
Gently, he lays his left hand on Crowley's bare knee, just below where the hem of the slippery skirt ends, and raises his own eyebrows back at her. "Did you have an appetite today, my dear?" he asks.
She grins at him, snake eyes sparkling with mischief. "Not necessarily for anything heavy," she replies, tapping a booted foot against his calf. "But I wouldn't say no to you putting your hands wherever. We can play it by ear."
Ah, so then it is meant as a temptation. Well, Aziraphale does appreciate the effort, and he also quite likes the thrill he gets knowing he has blanket permission to touch, especially in the secret, intimate places that are forbidden to all but whom Crowley deems worthy. And to the best of Aziraphale's knowledge, there have been shockingly few such people over the millenia, and certainly none with the breadth of knowledge of all Crowley's many different shapes as Aziraphale has been offered.
Pleased, he doesn't hesitate to bring both hands up and run his palms along the outsides of Crowley's thighs up under the skirt until he can grip her securely by the hips, thumbs pressing gently against the lovely bony protrusions at the front. Even woman-shaped, she's still mostly lean muscle and bone. There's perhaps a tiny extra layer of plushness along her thighs, hips, and belly, which is a difference he's delighted to physically confirm. She, of course, also has the softness she gains on her chest when she's like this, but learning if her breasts are as pleasing to touch as he's idly speculated about over the centuries feels heavier than he's inclined to indulge her in at the moment. For now, though, he's happy to press his forearms along her thighs and admire the contrast made where the soft, practical paleness of his coat sleeves disappear under sinuous black and red silk. Such liberties he's allowed these days, and what sweet trust she has in him that she extends the invitation.
Crowley lets loose a satisfied sigh above him and leans back on one arm. The other, she brings up so she can card short, red-lacquered nails through his short curls. The wash of sensation the gentle scratching inspires has Aziraphale's eyelids fluttering closed. He sways forward and lets her coax him down until he's resting with the side of his face on her nearer thigh. The skirt is slightly cool and slick under his cheek.
They stay like that for some time: Aziraphale resting against Crowley's leg and occasionally kneading his fingers over and along the soft skin of her hips and waist, committing the small differences to muscle memory, and Crowley playing with his hair.
After a time, Aziraphale stirs himself enough to raise his head again and beam a besotted smile up at Crowley's downturned face. She quirks a corner of her glossy mouth up at him and gently grips his hair to tug his head from side to side like a slow metronome.
"Is this enough for you, darling?" Aziraphale asks and slides forward slightly in his chair so he can fully wrap his arms around her, inching his hands up under the waistline of the skirt to spread his fingers wide over her lower back. The adjustment has the added benefit of pressing her bony knees into the soft give of his chest.
Crowley tugs his head back enough to expose his throat. Aziraphale yields easily.
"You actually want to go get lunch now, don't you," she says flatly, but with enough of a fond crinkle around her eyes that Aziraphale doesn't think she's truly displeased with him.
Aziraphale shrugs and smiles winningly. "Well, you put the idea into my head."
Crowley rolls her eyes. "Oh, all right. But later we're going to take this to a bed, and you're going to be a very obliging blanket for as long as I want."
"Right, budge up so I can get down."
She releases her hold on his hair, but Aziraphale keeps his face tipped up invitingly. Crowley lets out a gusty sigh, but there's a helpless smile tugging at her mouth as she leans down and presses a soft, chaste kiss to his lips, her hair falling forward in a curtain and brushing along his cheeks. It's an indulgence he hasn't had the pleasure of experiencing before, as every time Crowley has had long hair until now, they hadn't yet come to this new arrangement.
"Oh, lovely," he murmurs and nuzzles at the corner of her mouth so he can feel both the softness of her cheek and her hair simultaneously.
"Look at you, angel, you're practically going cross eyed." Crowley teases as she leans back. "Don't know why I waited so long to try out this shape again. You like me better with a bit of padding?" she asks with one eyebrow arched high.
Aziraphale squeezes her firmly with his arms. "Not better, you awful serpent," he chides. "It's just that I haven't had the chance to know you in this shape yet." The earlier temptation he'd felt when she'd walked in resurfaces, and he licks his lips. "Is it nice, being woman-shaped? Or, well, fun?" he asks.
Crowley's expression shutters somewhat, and she looks at him silently for a long moment, searching his face for something, though Aziraphale is damned if he can figure out what it is. He does his best to exude polite, if wistful, curiosity.
"It can be, yeah," she finally says, "in the right circumstances." She leans into him again, hair sliding forward over her shoulders like a temptation. "Why, you fancy a go at it?"
"Oh, I've always wanted to try it," Aziraphale replies with enough enthusiasm that Crowley rears back and blinks in surprise. "I was discouraged in the beginning," he barrels on, "and then with everything that happened after the garden it just never seemed to be the right time." He rolls his shoulders as if to shrug away all that unpleasantness. "And it's something you like well enough to do with some regularity. I wondered if it might be something I would enjoy as well."
And if it would be something they might enjoy together, he doesn't say. From the small smirk starting to tug Crowley's violently red lips, he figures she hears it anyway. It's a bit of a dance they've perfected over the millenia: one of them will try something new and, if they like it well enough for it to become a habit, the other will eventually try it on for size as well. Aziraphale had introduced Crowley to food, and Crowley in turn introduced Aziraphale to alcohol. Both of those had been smashing successes, even if Crowley is a bigger fan of sampling than eating consistently. Books and reading aren't to Crowley's style, though she does enjoy when they're translated to stage or cinema. Aziraphale has taken to only a very small slice of music, but he enjoys that slice enthusiastically.
Crowley takes him by the chin and makes a show of tipping his face this way and that with a considering purse to her lips. "Yeah, I guess you'd make an all right enough woman. And you'd probably like more about it than you'd find annoying, I'd wager." She lets go of his chin to give him a gentle pat to the cheek. "Sure, why the hell not. I can teach you, if you'd like."
"How to change shape, or how to be a woman?" Aziraphale asks eagerly.
"How to change shape," Crowley replies firmly. "There isn't one way to be a woman, though I can teach you a bit about the default factory settings. There are a few that are a kick in the arse." She cocks an eyebrow at him. "Now?"
"Oh, lunch first, certainly. I wouldn't want to embark on such an ambitious endeavor on an empty stomach."
"You are entirely ridiculous."
"Look, I don't know how to describe it, exactly," Crowley says, wrinkling up her nose. "You know how the blueprint works, more or less, yeah?" At Aziraphale's nod, she waves a hand vaguely in the air to convey... something. "You just have to imagine that the bit in the blueprint that looks not quite like a Y looks instead like an X, and... voilà." She shrugs. "Honestly, it's easier to go from man-shaped to woman-shaped than vice versa. The blueprint is designed to default woman-shaped. I think She realized the first version was a bit rough and did some retconning for the sequel."
"Oh," Aziraphale says faintly, looking down at himself in some consternation. That did track with the impression he'd gotten from the quartermaster all that time ago that he'd been given the less advanced model because he wasn't deemed sufficiently competent.
They'd returned after lunch to Crowley's flat to conduct the experiment. It's closer to the sorts of fashionable establishments that Aziraphale wants to visit once he has a new shape to outfit. A quick miracle will suffice in the immediate term, but part of what he is looking forward to is all the new sartorial options he's admired from afar but hasn't quite felt he could pull off in his man-shaped form.
"Well, here goes nothing, I suppose," Aziraphale says, and makes a considerable effort.
The feeling of changing is a bit queer: Bits of himself shift and balloon and contract oddly, and there is the frankly disturbing feeling of bits of his insides rearranging themselves. He'd decided to go full default factory setting for his first foray, which comes with all the reproductive bits.
"Oh my," he says when everything settles abruptly, and his hands fly to his throat in surprise at how much higher pitched the words are than usual. "Oh!" he startles again at the feel of slenderer hands on his much sleeker neck.
"Congrats, you did it!" Crowley says, throwing a pair of thumbs up in Aziraphale's direction. Aziraphale blinks at her, feeling utterly wrong-footed in his own body—well, in her body, he—she supposes. For all that Crowley is pasting on a hugely supportive smile, her eyes are a bit wide, and the stretch of her lips over her teeth is a little feral.
"Did I? Properly?" Aziraphale fretts, and then sets about inspecting herself as well as she can without a mirror, patting her hands over wide hips, thick thighs, and frankly enormous breasts, taking inventory of the changes. She feels up on her face, where the angle of her jaw is a touch softer, her cheeks a bit fuller. When she encounters her hair, she realizes that hasn't changed, which, upon reflection, stands to reason.
"Looks like it," Crowley confirms. "Very standard double-ex model design, and on your first try! Well done."
Aziraphale tugs at her short curls. "Do you think I should make it longer?"
Crowley shrugs. "Up to you. Longer is more common, but it looks good like this, too."
"Oh, I'd like to try it long, I think. I've never done before." She closes her eyes and concentrates; after a moment, she feels the soft weight of additional curls unfurl around her shoulders.
"Oh, for Someone's sake," Crowley grouses. "I didn't think it was possible for you to look more angelic, but of course you have to go and prove me wrong."
Aziraphale glowers at her and shifts uncomfortably in her outfit, which now is too tight across the hips and chest. She'd miracle it to fit, but the outfit is hand tailored, and she'd hate to ruin the efforts of the charming young man who'd done it for her, even if he is eighty years dead.
"Do you have a mirror?" she asks. "I'll need to miracle myself something up temporarily, but I need a better look to judge the fit."
Crowley snaps and then casually leans against the positively gothic free-standing mirror she's manifested beside her. Aziraphale looks at her new reflection and the startled O her newly lush lips make.
"Oh dear, I do see what you mean," she admits reluctantly. She trended toward faintly cherubic (in the lowercase sense of the word) in her man-shape, but in the woman-shape design she looks like something that might have inspired some of the soppier Renaissance artists. She twists this way and that to get a general sense of where her weight has redistributed. After a brief study, she gives a decisive nod and snaps. Her new outfit consists of an appropriately fitted cream-colored shirt with pearl buttons and a high collar, her usual tartan bow tie, and an ankle-length linen skirt the same shade as her usual trousers. Her normal clothes have relocated, neatly folded, to Crowley's sofa.
"This will do for now, I think," she decides. "I'll go first thing and see about a proper wardrobe."
Crowley wags a finger at her chest. "Please tell me you miracled yourself a bra for those monsters."
"Er, corselet, for now. I'm afraid I'm not as familiar with modern unmentionables to come up with something accurate enough to pass."
"Want me to tag along?" Crowley asks, looking half intrigued and half preemptively bored.
"No, no," Aziraphale assures her. "I intend to take my time, and it's not like you enjoy it when we're both man-shaped." The difference in their approach to clothing and, well, life, is that when Crowley sees something she likes, she usually goes for miraculous instant gratification, whereas Aziraphale enjoys a bit of ritual and easing in.
Crowley nods with enough of a shrug to the stretch of her mouth to communicate "fair enough."
"Let's meet tomorrow for brunch, shall we?" Aziraphale proposes. "I can show off my new outfit, and I'm sure by then I'll be settled enough to have a whole list of questions for you."
Crowley drops her head back with an exaggerated groan. "Ugh, fine, but you still owe me blanket time."
"I haven't forgotten," Aziraphale says fondly, coming close enough to catch one of Crowley's hands in her own and raise it to press a kiss to her knuckles. "Tomorrow, then?"
The demon's face is the definition of disgruntled embarrassment. "Yeah, fine."
When Crowley lets herself into the bookshop the following morning, she finds Aziraphale curled up cozily on the sofa with a book in one hand, a half-eaten croissant in the other, and a cup and saucer of tea balanced on the angel's prodigious bosom. The demon pulls up short and finds she has to take off her sunglasses to better process what she's seeing. Until this moment she would have sworn to God's own face that Aziraphale wasn't capable of bending that much, physically or metaphysically.
The angel in question looks up at the jingle of the bell and beams at Crowley. "Oh, dearest, I'm having such a grand time. Look at how convenient these are!" she shimmies her upper body a bit and the tea sloshes gently against the sides of the cup but otherwise remains securely stationed atop the angel's cleavage.
"Glad you're having fun," Crowley replies, bemused, and tucks her sunglasses into the inside pocket of her jacket. Today, she's wearing the same outfit she favors in her man shape. Aziraphale, however, has gone quite femme, with a mid-calf pleated skirt, scoop-necked silk blouse, and a blessed cardigan, all in peach and cream tones. She's barefoot at the moment, dainty gold-polish pedicure on display against the sofa cushions, but there's a pair of Romanesque strappy sandals resting on the rug near the side table. Her hair is a touch shorter today, bouncing in curly waves just below her chin. Someone—and Crowley is going to hunt this person down and have words with them—has convinced her to try some sort of subtle gloss on her lips. She's somehow evoking both posh politician's wife and a fresh-faced midcentury rural school teacher, and Crowley can't decide what sort of feelings that's stirring in her, but they are chaotic.
"There's so much more mobility in this form," Aziraphale enthuses. "I always thought it was your serpent wiles, but goodness I daresay I could out swivel you with these hips." She scrunches up her nose in a grin and jiggles again, this time lower.
This really shouldn't be doing as much as it is for Crowley, but there you have it. Even more than usual, she has the overwhelming desire to just drape herself bodily over the angel and sink in.
"Oh, but I'm glad you're here, finally," the angel continues and begins hastily relocating her book and snacks to the side table. Once done, she stretches her legs out further on the sofa, holds her arms out beckoningly to Crowley, and gives the kind of cheshire grin she only gets when she's about tell what she thinks is a knee-slapping good joke. Crowley mentally braces herself.
"Dear Crowley, come rest your weary head upon my tender bosom," Azirapahle says in a tone that starts out a little breathless and husky but quickly pitches up into an all out giggle by the end.
Crowley gives a full-body groan, letting her knees give out and arms go limp at her sides, because it's just like Aziraphale to accidentally stumble upon the very desire Crowley was secretly nursing and just ruin it.
"Why do I like you," Crowley bemoans even as she slinks over to the sofa and proceeds to lay her head grumpily on Aziraphale's fantastically plush knockers. She might be mortified to acknowledge associating with the angel at the moment, but like hell is she going to pass up an opportunity like this. They're so blessedly soft.
"Comfortable?" Aziraphale asks cheerfully, bringing her arms up to properly cuddle Crowley to her chest, even going so far as to lay her cheek against the crown of the demon's head.
"You know I am," Crowley grumps, digging her arms down and around the angel's waist and shifting so their legs are slotted together more comfortably. "No need to be so smug about it."
"Oh, this is nicer," the angel says. "These forms are so much more yielding."
Crowley grunts and concentrates on soaking up the feeling of being bodily cherished by her angel. It's not quite as good as the feeling of Aziraphale's grounding weight gently pressing her down, but it's still very, very good.
"Do you have any questions?" Crowley thinks to ask after a long minute. Aziraphale's begun running her fingers through Crowley's long hair, and it's making everything go a little hazy.
"Later, darling. I'm quite enjoying just this. Being able to hold you is still such a novel, and now there are so many new things to try." She sighs, and Crowley's head rises and falls with the gentle heave of it, leaving her a bit crosseyed with sensation. "I'd like to just savor for a while, if you don't mind."
Crowley makes some vaguely affirmative noises in the back of her throat and rubs her cheek up and down along the warm silk covering the angel's chest. Within a few minutes, the warmth and hypnotic feel of Aziraphale's fingers in her hair have her nodding off.
Later that afternoon, they take a turn around the park and order sandwiches from a cart before settling in their usual spot. They eat in silence for awhile. Aziraphale makes her usual noises of satisfaction as she politely but relentlessly savors her caramelized pear and brie panini. While Crowley takes the occasional performative bite of her pastrami on rye, most of her focus is on miracling bits of gum previously stuck to the bottom of the bench to scraps of litter on the walking path and sliding them under the tread of unsuspecting passersby. She targets the sort who look like they'd be too conscientious to just scrape the sticky mess off on a nearby paving stone and instead would feel honor bound to find the nearest bin. Of course, all the nearby bins are currently taking a holiday several hundred inconvenient metres away. The number of people wandering vaguely about dangling bits of litter between forefinger and thumb and expressions of confused, vexed disgust on their faces is immensely entertaining.
When Aziraphale finishes her sandwich and is unable to spot the bin that's usually only a short way from their bench, she turns a tight-lipped glare at the demon.
"What are you doing," she asks without an iota of interrogative inflection.
"Just a bit of spring cleaning, angel," Crowley drawls, smirking as a jogger hops awkwardly on one foot, cursing, as they unsuccessfully try to swipe the ice cream wrapper from the sole of their very expensive looking trainer.
Aziraphale rolls her eyes. "You could just miracle the litter directly into the bin, or out of existence."
Crowley affects a plumy tone when she replies, "But it's not as fun."
The angel shoots her a venomous look and places her wadded up sandwich wrapper in Crowley's lap in fussy retaliation. Crowley picks it up and makes a dramatic wrist flourish as she miracles it away.
Aziraphale maintains her glower for a solid three minutes before an approaching man with a buggy containing a curious-eyed baby catches her attention, and she breaks to make angelic faces at the child.
When the buggy passes and Aziraphale sits back on the bench, she winces and squirms. "Do you usually keep the... the nether regions when you're in this shape?" she asks.
Crowley shrugs and takes a bite of her neglected sandwich. "No, not usually," she says around the mouthful. "Why?"
Aziraphale's face crumples a bit, and she leans closer to furiously whisper, "Everything is just so moist—all the time!"
Crowley almost inhales the half-chewed bite and spends a few minutes trying to look cool while she beats a fist to her sternum to get the wad of bread dislodged from her throat.
Aziraphale helpfully thumps her on the back, but also doesn't stop talking. "And it's just so vulnerable. I can't imagine living like this all the time! What if you sit down awkwardly on a—" She makes a little upside-down cupping motion with one hand, her face a picture of mortification "—on a...protrusion!" Her hands flutter up to signify her dismay before she seems to remember herself and she hunches back down, leaning conspiratorially toward Crowley. "With a phallus, it would just hurt, but with this...!" She hisses quietly, "It's designed for things to go in!" and even more horrified: "Or to come out."
Somehow, her voice croaking from the attempt to aspirate a chunk of rye, Crowley manages to say despairingly, "Aziraphale, for the love of literally anything, shut up."
Aziraphale shudders delicately. "I read poetry, you know. I've seen the flower imagery. I can appreciate, in the abstract, the symbolic beauty and mystery and power," she says with a "and so on" sort of roll of her wrist. Then, her entire face pinches up. "But I'll never again be able to read about ‘dewey petals' without knowing the author is a liar."
By this point, Crowley has made the full emotional journey through shock, embarrassment, outrage, and has come out the other side to hysteria and is hiding her snorting laughter in the shoulder of her jacket.
"Oh, angel, I don't know about that. I doubt so many poets and artists and feminists can be wrong. I think this is one part of the experience that's influenced by your relationship, or lack of one, to lustful attraction," Crowley says. She throws an arm over the back of the bench so she can cozy up to Aziraphale a little easier. "I mean, did you feel this betrayed the first time you manifested a cock and balls?"
Aziraphale shoots her a reproving look. "Oral traditions were barely even a thing, then—there weren't as many expectations to dash. Also, apart from maybe the Greeks, I don't think anyone would argue that a flaccid penis looks anything more than awkward."
Crowley doesn't bother hiding her cackle this time, and after a moment Aziraphale is reluctantly drawn out of her snit enough to chuckle as well.
"Oh, I suppose you're right," she relents. "It's not like I'm predisposed to have an interest." She purses her lips thoughtfully. "Although, do you suppose I'd find yours more agreeable? I don't dislike your cock, after all."
Crowley briefly considers discorporating on the spot—it's not the language or topic, per se, but that it's in relation to Crowley—and instead settles for fixing Aziraphale with an outraged glare over the rims of her sunglasses. "First of all, never say the word ‘cock' again—I can hear the air quotes when you say it, don't think I can't. Second, I think you're damning your own argument with faint praise." She turns away and makes show of manspreading. "‘Don't dislike,'" is grumbled in the vague direction of a pair of late-afternoon joggers, who shoot them puzzled looks. This is a normal enough reaction to the pair of them bickering in the park that it soothes some of Crowley's ruffled feelings.
Aziraphale leans in and settles her head against Crowley's shoulder. "Apologies if I've offended, my dear," she murmurs and places a proprietary hand on Crowley's knee, which with all the demonic posturing has ended up practically on top of Aziraphale's thigh. "It's a very fine specimen. A veritable archetype of virility—figuratively, of course—"
"All right, I get it."
"If I were fashioned in a more lustful design, I would be tempted to worship its staggering prominence. Perhaps compose odes to its turgidly tumescent tumidity."
"Oh, fuck off, angel."
They walk back to the bookshop with hands linked, at Aziraphale's instigation. When Crowley incredulously raises her eyebrows, Aziraphale dimples at her.
"Don't think I don't know we draw less attention in these forms."
Crowley gapes at her for a minute before recovering and saying sharply, "I didn't see you getting all handsy with me in public back in Rome. Or Greece. The bloody eighteen hundreds."
"We didn't have the same understanding we do now, dearest," Aziraphale counters. "Or the insurance against our former sides. If you'll recall, I was right to be worried we'd be spotted together back then. You saw the outrage over us just being seen talking to one another. Imagine if Heaven's surveillance had caught us snuggling."
Crowley hems and haws for a solid ten seconds, but doesn't have a better response than that, so Aziraphale feels her point is well made.
When they arrive at the bookshop's front awning, Aziraphale uses the grip she still has on Crowley's hand to make moot the potential dance of whether the demon will be coming up. Crowley grins as she's tugged inside, tucking her free hand in her pocket and swaggering after Aziraphale.
"Are you finally going to keep your promise, angel?" she asks with what Aziraphale thinks is probably meant to be leer, but the effect is rather muted by the sunglasses.
"Obviously, darling," she says, making her way back to the stairs that lead to the upstairs efficiency flat. And then, because she's enjoying a bit too much how flustered it still makes Crowley to hear her talk so frankly about intimacy: "I also thought we might explore each others' naked bodies."
The moment they enter the flat, Aziraphale bustles over to her wardrobe and begins removing and carefully hanging up her clothing. She hears Crowley close the door behind them, but nothing in the way of rustling that would suggest the demon is getting undressed as well. She looks back and sees Crowley standing a little stiffly by the door.
"Dear?" she inquires and pauses her disrobing. She's down to her underthings, which was where she'd been planning on stopping anyway to check in with her friend, but now the blank expression on Crowley's face is making her feel exposed.
"When you say ‘exploring,' what did you have in mind, exactly?" Crowley asks in a neutral sort of tone.
Aziraphale immediately realizes her mistake and wrings her hands together. "Oh, Crowley, I apologize. I was just teasing you. I truly wasn't going to do more than this without further discussion." She waves a hand at her lacy, ivory-colored knickers and bra, which is the usual level of disrobing they get to when cuddling on the bed (well, perhaps not the bras, as is the first occasion that has truly called for them). "I should have been more thoughtful: Of course new bodies require new negotiations."
Crowley visibly relaxes and makes a production of swaggering over to where Aziraphale is standing. "S'all right, angel. To tell the truth, I didn't expect it to matter so much until it just... did," she finishes with an asymmetrical shrug.
Aziraphale smiles and folds her hands over her belly. "Well, then, my love, please tell me what you'd like. I'll admit I'm quite chuffed by the idea of learning every inch of this delightful shape of yours, with the usual areas off limits, obviously. Though, if you still have the appetite you mentioned yesterday, I'd be more than happy to help you sate it. I'm not feeling particularly hungry myself, if that makes a difference to your decision."
The demon smiles at her a touch helplessly and ducks her head down to remove her sunglasses so she can meet Aziraphale's eyes when she says, "Yeah, what you want sounds good. I'm not hungry either."
"Underthings on or off?" Aziraphale prods.
"Kickers on. Everything else off," Crowley says decisively and begins shrugging out of her jacket, finally. "Though, angel, I have to say I'm not sure whether I love or hate the person who found that lingerie for you. It's properly naughty, especially for an angel. Especially for an asexual angel."
Aziraphale preens. "It is lovely, isn't it?" she says, cupping her breasts from beneath and giving them a cheerful jiggle.
"I can see practically everything," Crowley replies, sounding impressed. She's stripping faster now, down to just red satin knickers and a matching bra. "How many miracles did it take to not show through your outfit," she asks as unhooks the front clasp of her bra with a one-handed flick.
"A lady never tells," Aziraphale replies with perhaps too much glee, and quickly reaches back to unhook her own bra and tuck it neatly into a designated drawer in the wardrobe. When she turns back, Crowley is stretching and scratching idly at the faint pressure marks on the sides of her ribs.
Aziraphale coos in sympathy and rubs absent fingers over her own matching marks. "I would expect you to miracle those away, darling."
Crowley makes a face. "I think bras digging in, no matter how well fitted, was one of Bilal's, and I haven't figured out the trick to it yet." She gestures toward Aziraphale's chest. "May I?"
"Of course! I'm quite taken with them, I must say."
Crowley hefts a breast up in each hand, carefully keeping her fingers well away from the areola, and gently bobs them up and down like a merchant trying to hand weigh gold. "Oh these are bloody fantastic. Well done, you."
"Why thank you, dear," Aziraphale replies and cups the demon's hands with her own.
They spend perhaps too much time jointly bobbling her breasts about, watching the resulting shivering undulations in rapt fascination.
Finally, Crowley takes a loud inhale through her nose and says decisively, "Right, need to focus. Bed! Hop to it, angel."
She slips her hands away and then scrambles onto the bed and flops down on her back, obnoxiously spreading out across as much surface as possible. Aziraphale follows at a more sedate pace and kneels up over her friend, taking care to line up their bodies so that when she lies down with her head on Crowley's shoulder, their legs are aligned comfortably. An indecently pleased groan shudders out of Crowley when the angel's weight settles over her. Aziraphale nuzzles into Crowley's collarbone and runs her hands down the length of the demon's arms until she runs out of reach and has to settle for gently gripping Crowley by the wrists.
"Oh, yeah. That's the stuff," Crowley says, and gives a snakelike wriggle underneath Aziraphale, just to relish in the feeling of being securely pressed firm to the mattress.
The angel hums in agreement. Truth be told, Aziraphale prefers to hold Crowley close to her rather than pin her down, but every once in a while it does seem to settle a small fretful place within her that's mildly dismayed by how much faster than her Crowley seems to adapt to the changing times.
"I'm not squishing you too much?" Aziraphale asks. She'd had to angle herself more than usual in order to not pinch her breasts against Crowley's ribcage, which is putting a touch more weight on Crowley's left side than usual.
"Nah, this is great," Crowley sighs.
They talk idly for the next quarter hour or so before Crowley taps at the angel's shoulder to signal she wants a new position. After a bit of negotiation, they end up on their sides facing each other. Crowley is content to idly pet along Aziraphale's hip and waist, but Aziraphale is intent on cataloguing every new curve and plane of Crowley's body. She slides her hands slowly, adoringly over the demon's neck, the slope of her shoulder, the subtly narrower expanse of her ribs, the sharp valley of her waist and back up over the dramatic hill of her hip and down her thigh. The line of her jaw is modestly less severe, though her cheekbones are just as dramatic. Even her ears are a slightly different shape. The result is a shape not entirely like but also not entirely unlike the body she knows when Crowley wears her man shape. She feels a bit like a cartographer mapping a particularly shifty river that's liable to dramatically change course one day and then swing back the other way, or even somewhere in between, the next. One might assume such changeability would cause anxiety in the angel, not knowing what course might be laid from day to day, year to year. But this is one type of change that has never bothered Aziraphale. No matter the bend or curve, it's still the same river, still Crowley.
"Yours are delightful, too," she says into the quiet, cupping Crowley's nearer breast and taking the same care as Crowley had shown her to keep politely away from the erogenous bits. "They fit in the palm so satisfyingly. Plump and soft and warm. It's like—" Aziraphale struggles for an appropriate metaphor. "—oh, like holding a newborn kitten."
Crowley howls with laughter into Aziraphale's curls.
The next morning, Crowley wakes up sprawled over Aziraphale's chest. She wonders at first from the evenness of the angel's breathing if Aziraphale is sleeping, for once, but then she registers the crook of the angel's arm and the soft sound of paper crinkling. A book, Crowley thinks muzzily, getting sidetracked by the slow drag of the angel's fingers through her hair. Something feels different this morning, but it takes another moment of sleepy confusion for Crowley to place it.
"Where are your breasts," she grumbles, vaguely patting over what bits of Aziraphale's chest she can reach when she's taking up so much real estate.
"Hmm?" Aziraphale says, distracted, and his voice rumbles deep under her ear.
"You get bored of being woman shaped?" Crowley grouses, not sure if she's feeling put out about the change itself or that he'd done it while she was still sleeping.
"Oh!" the angel says, and sets the book down on the bed so he can wrap both arms around Crowley's back. "No, dearest, I just realized while you were resting that I think that, after all this time, I'm just a bit more comfortable this way. It was a fun exploration. I should like to try it again sometime, especially if you have a fancy."
"This is going to be like sex, isn't it," Crowley mumbles and raises her head so she can rest her chin on Aziraphale's sternum. On the whole, even though it's on a timescale a goodly portion of the human population would find boggling, she gets the itch more often than he does. Enough that sometimes he isn't feeling up to helping her out and she has to take matters into her own hands.
The angel winces. "Darling, your chin is no less destructive in this shape than the other. Please desist."
Crowley grumbles but drags her arms over Aziraphale's chest so she can rest her chin between the crease of her arms.
"Thank you," the angel snips, but then ruins the effect by dragging reverent fingers over the arch of her brow and back along her temple to tuck her hair behind her ears. She grimly maintains eye contact through the flush she can feel bloom on her face. One day his casual tenderness won't throw her for a complete loop. Today is not that day, especially when she's still groggy from sleep.
"I think it's more like food, except the other way around," Aziraphale says thoughtfully. "You delight in all the different forms and presentations and like to indulge whenever you fancy, even if you do have a few favorite menus you return to time and again. I think I'm most comfortable with just the one dish, though I'm more than happy to try new things with you." He beams at her. "And to delight in your delight."
"Ugh, that is too corny," she moans, and drags herself further up so she can possibly suffocate herself in the side of his neck. In the process, though, she feels the scratch of fabric along the top of her thigh. She pushes back up and looks down to see that Aziraphale is still wearing the lacy knickers from the night before, though without any manly effort to ruin the lay.
She shamelessly ogles at how fine it still looks and asks, "Is this just because you're too lazy to use a miracle to change pants, or have you discovered that you can absolutely still pull off some feminine things in this shape?"
Aziraphale giggles. "Oh, I'm definitely keeping some of the underthings. I quite liked the look of your corset the other day, too. Very fetching."
Crowley turns back so she can grip his face between her hands, giving him as serious an expression as she can manage under the circumstances. "Angel, listen—this is incredibly important. Are you listening? Yes?" She lays an exaggerated smack of a kiss on his lips before declaring solemnly, "It is vital that I, personally, take you in all your lovely man-shaped glory shopping for lingerie today. Are you willing to make an effort for me?"
The angel lets out a peal of laughter, running his hands adoringly up and down her bare back. "Don't tell me you're jealous of the poor ladies who helped me with my fittings the other day?"
"Oh, jealous doesn't begin to cover it, angel. I'm going to put on my nicest suit, some very tasteful makeup, and I'm going to drag you in there and have some Opinions on color and fabric sheerness. I need to see their faces."
Aziraphale grins up at her, eyes crinkling like anything. "You really are the most wicked thing." But then his smile goes a little sharp, in that little-bit-of-a-bastard way that always catches her behind the ribs. "Sounds like fun," he says.
1 One of the few Aziraphale felt they did a fair job at exemplifying. They’d listed it as a self-identified strength in their last performance review. [return to text]
2 Only, they weren’t, because otherwise there never would have been a rebellion. But while Gabriel, Michael, and Uriel privately convened on team morale, trust-building exercises, and a see-something, say-something campaign, the loyalties of this specific Cherub didn’t worry Gabriel overmuch. Frankly, the lack of enthusiasm for the rest of the Heavenly Host was one of the reasons they were keen to send Aziraphale into the field in the first place. Better to keep that sort of wet blanket attitude far from the rest of the troops. In fact, a strongly demonstrated dedication to Her went a long way toward reassuring Gabriel that the Cherub was unlikely to completely cock up the assignment. This assumption would be, of course, deeply ironic on several counts. [return to text]
3 This is a fantastically optimistic inner monologue. He still dithers outrageously over the potential repercussions of trying anything new. Now there’s just much less guilt attached to it. [return to text]
4 It was also many many millennia before either of them realized let alone acknowledged that this was just a thing that friends do, that they were literally just performing friendship. Though, to be fair, even though they didn’t invent the concept of friendship, sometimes, from the right angle, it could sort of feel that way. [return to text]
5 They’d had a brief squabble over lunch about Aziraphale’s plan to completely bypass the uniquely debasing experience of shopping as a plus-sized woman by going straight to expensive couture establishments. “I have the time and a miraculous amount of money. Why shouldn’t I?” Aziraphale had reasoned over a pot de crème. “It’s cheating,” Crowley had insisted. “Well, you should have thought of that before your side invented prêt-à-porter right when consumption was remaking beauty standards,” Aziraphale had countered tartly. “That wasn’t me,” Crowley hissed. [return to text]
6 Every possible pun intended. [return to text]
7 If Aziraphale were in a state to pick up on any sort of nuance at the moment, she’d note the faint surprise in Crowley’s tone at this commendation and immediately demand to know what the story was behind it. [return to text]
8 Aziraphale is a fan of both gently romantic and terrifically gothic period romances, which has the unfortunate byproduct of making her exceedingly trope aware. [return to text]
9 "Of course you have dimples," Crowley had groused the first time she saw them. [return to text]