Chapter 1: Summer Prologue
There seemed to be something stuck in Aziraphale’s throat. As he tried to swallow - hard - a single bead of sweat dripped down his forehead. The sun was hot on his face, and the noise around him, shouts of excitement, faded to a dull roar. His ears were burning bright red. Don’t turn around don’t turn around, please, oh please don’t turn around, were the words racing through Aziraphale’s mind. His eyes were locked onto the back of a stranger’s head several yards in front of him. Standing in a small, grassy field was a line of incoming students, Aziraphale included, waiting to pick up their first semester schedules. Aziraphale silently, fiercely prayed to go unnoticed, that he could just pick up his schedule and go back to his small, private dorm room in peace. And yet, achingly slow, a young man with flaming red hair pushed back by a pair of sunglasses turned around. His odd, golden-yellow eyes widened as they found Aziraphale’s flushed face.
Crowley’s feet froze where he stood, new schedule in hand. Another student behind him pushed past, but Crowley barely noticed. Huh, he thought to himself a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. He reached up, and slid his sunglasses back over his eyes. Fancy seeing him here...
Around them, students passed by, oblivious to whatever event was transpiring between these two acquaintances, meeting each other again in the last place they expected to be together. Though they hardly knew each other, the shock of seeing the other’s face was enough to halt their tracks. And despite how infrequently they’d actually spoken, their story began many, many years ago.
It was in Miss Nutter’s first grade class they met. Aziraphale, a shy, wide-eyed, blond babe, and Crowley, a gangly, red-headed mess. They sat relatively close together in the reading circle, but they never spoke. Not until the day a pair of baby birds fell from a playground tree during recess.
It was Crowley who first saw them fall. He ran away, squealing with excitement, looking for worms to feed the small birds. Aziraphale, watching from afar and trying to hide his curiosity, tip-toed over to the birds. They were much too young to be out of the nest, that much he knew. They’re gonna die… he thought, his tummy twisting at the thought. His hands clenched into fists, then opened again, repeating in a pattern of anxiety. He reached up and took off the white baseball cap his parents had given him for his birthday, and gently scooped the baby birds up into it, careful not to touch them with his bare hands.
At this point, one teacher had noticed Aziraphale’s slightly suspicious behavior, and came to intervene, gently taking the cap from him and walking away. Aziraphale did not ask for the hat back.
At the end of the day, as Miss Nutter’s class waited outside for the school bus, Crowley approached Aziraphale for the first time.
“Did you see them?” Crowley asked, his S’s hissing out of the gap where he was missing his two front teeth. “Did you see the baby birds?”
“...yes,” Aziraphale responded, clenching and unclenching his fists. He was very nervous talking to people, especially to someone as loud as Crowley. “I hope they’re okay…”
Crowley shrugged. “I guess they’re fine. I didn’t have a chance to give them my worms though.” Crowley put his hands in his jacket pockets and pulled out two small handfuls of both worms and dirt. “I was gonna give them some lunch! You saw how small they were!” Crowley gestured at Aziraphale, worms and dirt spattering the ground.
“I don’t think they were old enough to eat them anyway,” Aziraphale said, brushing dirt off his white jacket. A raindrop fell, hitting his nose, and making him sneeze.
“Bless you,” Crowley said quickly. “Hey,” he continued, eyes narrowing, “didn’t you wear a hat to school today?”
Aziraphale nodded solemnly, “I put the birds in my cap to keep them safe. I thought I could keep them away from the rowdy kids.”
“Kids like me?”
Aziraphale looked down.
“It’s fine,” Crowley said, looking up at the sky. A large, dark grey cloud had blown over the class, and it was softly raining. A sudden shuffling of nylon fabric startled Crowley. Aziraphale had opened his white umbrella and was looking at Crowley expectantly. Crowley stared back blankly. Aziraphale, the shorter of the two, scooted closer to Crowley, and clumsily lifted the umbrella to cover them both as the rain began to pick up. Crowley sighed.
This is how their relationship continued for many years to come. A shared look, and very, very few words. It wasn’t that they disliked each other, but their differences heartily outweighed their similarities. The next time they spoke directly was on a farm field trip in the fifth grade. Their small, Ohio school district was drastically underfunded, yet the many nearby farms gladly accepted the students for no charge. Aziraphale was quietly admiring a pair of black and white splotched cows who were occupied with a rather enticing patch of clovers when Crowley approached.
“They don’t have very many animals, do they?” he asked, hands in his pockets. He was wearing a pair of round, dark sunglasses, and he wore his red hair long. Aziraphale had noticed it has been a while since it had been cut.
“They have enough, it seems,” Aziraphale pointed out. “They’re getting by just fine.”
Crowley crouched down to watch the cows nibble clovers through the dark wood fence and shrugged. “I just feel like a farm is supposed to have...more.”
Aziraphale nibbled his bottom lip and tucked his hands into his white jacket pockets. He didn't really consider the two of them friends, and the thought of talking to relatively loud people still made him anxious. He turned his head to watch three horses gallop through a nearby paddock. The two larger horses were pretty, dark gold and brown with white spots. But the smaller horse, a shining white foal, was what caught Aziraphale’s eyes. Crowley stood up, dusting off the knees of his dark jeans and turned to follow Aziraphale’s gaze. Two farm hands entered the paddock, and began leading the two larger horses through a gate and towards a faded red barn. The foal didn’t seem to notice, and kept trotting around the field, through a large gap in the fence, and wandered farther and farther away.
“Hey!” Crowley shouted, making Aziraphale jump. “Hey, that one is getting away!” Crowley began trying to climb the wooden fence, jumping up and down. Aziraphale balked.
“Stop!” Aziraphale cried. “You’re gonna get us in trouble!” Aziraphale reached to grab the hem of Crowley’s dark jacket, but stopped before he got close enough to latch on. “Crowley, stop! I’m sure they know what they’re doing!”
Crowley jerked his head around to glare at Aziraphale. Aziraphale froze.
“‘Know what they’re doing,’ are you serious?” Crowley hissed. “As if…” He hopped down from the fence and clenched his fists. “Yeah, whatever. I tried… “
Crowley stomped away, leaving Aziraphale by the cows who had ignored the whole ordeal. Aziraphale looked down at the clovers and sighed.
They didn’t speak again until two years later, in the seventh grade, when a fight broke out between two other students. The crowd around the fight was strangely quiet, very different from the other fights Crowley had seen before. He danced around the outskirts of the crowd, trying to sneak a peek. It wasn’t that he was interested in fighting, just interested in whatever captured everyone else’s attention. His foot slipped, and he nearly crashed into one of his classmates; specifically, a certain blond classmate. Crowley swallowed.
“Hey, Aziraphale,” he croaked.
Aziraphale’s head whipped around. “Oh. Well, hello," he said, looking away.
“What’s this all about?” Crowley’s palms burned. He wiped them on his dark jeans and continued, “A fight?”
Aziraphale nodded solemnly. “Yes,” he said quietly, “unfortunately so.”
Crowley peaked around Aziraphale’s head and through a gap in the crowd. He looked away almost instantly.
“Why isn’t anyone, I dunno, stopping this?” Crowley asked.
Aziraphale looked back at him, worry shining in his clear blue eyes. He shook his head.
"Well, what started it then?" Crowley asked, leaning closer to Aziraphale.
Aziraphale scooted closer and Crowley's heart beat a little bit faster, "It's hard to say," Aziraphale whispered. "Mostly," he gulped, "people are upset about the kinds of things he's been saying..."
"Wha's that?" Crowley asked.
"Be kind to each other."
It had been almost exactly two years since Aziraphale had spoken to Crowley. It was their Freshman year when their school decided to have a "dance." Or, at the very least, a night where the gymnasium would be decorated with streamers and balloons, and a DJ they hired off the internet would play "cool" songs for the students to dance to. Aziraphale, who rather enjoyed dancing in the privacy of his bedroom, was not exactly looking forward to dancing here. But, he thought, it might be nice to see some people from school in a less formal setting! So he bought his ticket, and that night, arrived at the school right on time.
Aziraphale entered the dark gym and was greeted with flashing lights and thumping, bass-heavy music. Around him, students milled about, chatting in small groups of three or four people. Some brave kids danced in the empty space in the center. The music was much too loud for his personal taste, and the songs that played were not songs he had heard before. He realized quickly that other students had come specifically to socialize with each other. Aziraphale had come simply because he thought it would be a neat thing to do.
"Oh!" Aziraphale couldn't stop the noise from escaping his mouth, eyes on the other side of the gym. He made his way quickly off to one side, towards a table topped with a cheap plastic cover. Aziraphale dodged around a few swaying couples who certainly weren't leaving room for Jesus, and arrived, only a little out of breath, at the table. Aziraphale smiled a big, warm smile.
"Well hello there, Crowley!" Aziraphale beamed, looking down at Crowley who was reclining in a folding chair with his feet propped up on the table. Crowley looked up in surprise, the corners of his mouth turning up. "Do you mind if I take a seat here?" Aziraphale asked, already pulling a chair up next to Crowley and sitting down.
"What're you doin' here?" Crowley asked, pulling his feet off the table and letting his heavy boots clunk to the floor.
Aziraphale smoothed the front of his white button-up shirt and loosened his tartan tie just a little bit. "I'm here," he said, "because I...thought it might be nice."
Crowley nodded at this and rolled an empty soda can across the table. He leaned forward and rested his chin on the table. Aziraphale cleared his throat.
"Might I...tempt you with another soda?" Aziraphale asked as an involuntary blush spread across his cheeks. Crowley laughed.
Aziraphale smiled, grabbed Crowley's empty soda can, and trotted away. Crowley sat up and watched Aziraphale walk away. He shook his head and crossed his arms. What is wrong with him? Crowley asked himself, a smile spreading wider and wider on his face. Aziraphale returned as quickly as he left with two unopened cans of the same soda Crowley had been drinking before. He handed one to Crowley and sat down again.
"Cheers," said Aziraphale, tipping his can gently towards Crowley.
"Cheers," Crowley replied, tapping his can against Aziraphale's.
And they drank their sodas in silence, simply enjoying the company of another person who felt equally out of place in the world.
And now, there Aziraphale stood, red-faced and on the verge of hyperventilation. Oh jeez, he thought, what in heaven's name is wrong with me!? He wiped his palms on the thighs of his pants and retrieved a water bottle from his leather messenger bag. He took a hearty swig and stuffed it back in his bag. Just one boy, he reassured himself. Just one person I talked to once or twice. Doesn't make a difference now. Aziraphale took a semi-confident step forward.
Chapter 2: Fall Semester, Year One
Aziraphale’s heart was still racing as he closed the door to his dorm room behind him. He leaned against the cold wood and sucked in a deep breath, sinking to the floor.
“It’s not that big of a deal. He’s just a guy I know from school,” Aziraphale said quietly to himself. “I’m sure I’ll see plenty of people from school here. It’s… a popular university after all…”
He pulled his brown, leather messenger bag off his shoulder and found his neatly folded class schedule. Mostly general classes, he observed. Makes sense for the first semester.
Aziraphale skimmed his list of classes, mentally checking off the summer assignments he’d already completed. With each mental check he made, Aziraphale felt a little better. A little more composed. In control. When he reached the bottom of the list, he heaved himself up off the floor with a sigh and looked around his dorm room.
It was small, that was certain. At approximately 10 feet by 10 feet, it was not very impressive. There was a low bed in one corner, a desk in the other, and a shabby wardrobe positioned by the door. Aziraphale felt another sigh escape. The truck his parents had hired would be arriving the next day with a selection of furniture from home. And a few days after that, classes began.
Aziraphale loosened his collar, and sat down on the bed. He checked his watch, nodded with approval, and dug a worn paperback book from his messenger bag. He had just enough time for a bit of reading.
Crowley sauntered through the open door of his shared dorm room. He flipped his sunglasses back down over his eyes when he spotted his two roommates flinging dirty clothes at each other from their bunks.
“‘Bout time you showed up,” Hastur sneered, tossing a t-shirt at Crowley. Ligur laughed, and threw a pair of shorts at him, too. Crowley awkwardly dodged out of the way.
“Don’t mind me, fellas. I’m just here to sleep. Be outta your way soon enough.” Crowley said, stepping over a pile of unread textbooks.
“Good luck with that, Crawly,” Ligur snickered. Crowley’s eyebrows drew together. He looked from one lower bunk to the other. They were both covered in heaps of discarded food wrappers, clothing, and shoes. Hastur and Ligur laughed.
“That’s what you get for waiting so long to move in, Crawly!” Hastur laughed. Crowley nervously danced from one foot to the other.
“That’s alright then, got places to go anyway.” Crowley frowned. He turned around and marched out the door, snatching an unopened energy drink off one of the mess-consumed desks in his new home.
Crowley sipped his pilfered drink as he walked, keys jingling against his thigh every other step. Just sleep in the car, I guess, he thought. The drink was bitter, but the caffeine boost was much needed. Crowley fingered his back pocket and pulled out a cellphone. He tapped out the passcode - 666 - with one thumb and pulled up his shopping list. It was just a list of titles, no authors, no look-up codes. Crowley smiled, small and private. These could take forever to find, and it might seriously annoy whoever had to hunt them down.
After a bit of aimless wandering across campus, Crowley found himself in a very busy food court. Chain restaurant stands lined the outer wall, not unlike a mall. The smell of mixed foods was not the most appetizing effect for a place designed to eat, and Crowley almost admired the challenge of getting hungry in a place like that. He looked at his phone, checking the time, and decided that there was probably enough time to get his books before the store on campus closed.
He patted his back pocket, double checking that his wallet was there, and followed the signs from the food court to the bookstore.
Crowley walked through the open doors and immediately noticed the line that wrapped around the perimeter of the store. He felt a little bit of pleasure, and a lot a bit of annoyance. He stepped into line, and waited.
Aziraphale’s parents had told him to get a job.
Actually, they had told him to follow their carefully laid out plans for him, and when he gently refused, they told him to try “paying his own way.” Aziraphale wasn’t too intimidated by this, as his parents tended to make threats that they never really followed through on. And there was no need to panic, especially when his job of choice happened to have an opening. Today happened to be one of Aziraphale’s work days.
There was no required uniform, yet Aziraphale felt the need to look his best. He wore simple slacks, comfortable shoes, and, of course, a bowtie. It was a staple of his better looks. And he was a man of standards, after all.
The day had so far passed uneventfully. He had enough time to read a few chapters of one of his favourite books - Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels - before his shift began. With Margo’s mysterious writing in mind, Aziraphale’s day flew by in such a whirlwind, he almost forgot about seeing Crowley. Almost.
Each time Aziraphale felt his thoughts drifting in a wayward direction, he would shake his head, straighten his bowtie, and force himself to smile at the next customer in line.
“Will that be all, miss?” he would ask. I wonder why he chose this school? he would think.
“And what edition were you looking for?” he would ask. What kinds of classes is he taking? he would think.
“Yes, I’m afraid your textbooks are that expensive, my dear,” he would say. I’m afraid I’m actually...happy to see him! he would think. At this thought, he took a step back. The line in front of him never stopped. Aziraphale found it hard to believe that a. There were this many students attending the same state college, and b. That so many of them waited until the last minute to get their textbooks!
Aziraphale retreated to the back room to grab a book for his coworker. He stopped in front of a shelf absolutely stuffed with various books and sighed. He leaned forward, resting his hands on his thighs.
“Aziraphale,” he told himself sternly, “you really need to get a grip on yourself. All this trouble over one boy? This is so unlike you!”
“You’re just unsettled,” he continued to himself, “because you didn’t expect to see anyone you knew here. But you did. And it’s fine. You just need to...accept that Crowley is here, and that you’ll probably see him from time to time. His being here won’t affect you at all, you’ll see.”
Aziraphale stood up, and grabbed a book tucked carefully into the corner of the shelf. He took a deep breath and put on his best, most charming smile, and pushed open the door of the back room.
And there he was.
Crowley was standing in front of Aziraphale’s register, clearly occupied with his phone. Aziraphale first felt a wave of panic, then rolled his eyes at himself. Keeping his eye on Crowley, he passed the book he had retrieved to a coworker, and made his way back to his register. He cleared his throat. Crowley didn’t look up.
“Hello,” Aziraphale said, keeping his voice as even as possible, “how can I help you?” Crowley’s head snapped up.
“Nghk?” came the noise from the back of Crowley’s throat. He coughed, then started again. “H-hey...there...ah, books. Here for books.” Crowley nodded, once.
“And which books might we be looking for?” Aziraphale asked, laying his hands on the counter.
“Here,” Crowley thrust his phone at Aziraphale. Aziraphale took it in one hand and studied Crowley’s list of titles. He counted out the books on the fingers of his other hand, then set the phone down.
“One moment then, dear,” Aziraphale said with a smile, and turned away.
He walked straight into the back room once more, past the stock shelves, and into the very furthest corner. His thoughts were incomprehensible gibberish. He sat down on the floor and wrapped his arms around his knees. His fists were clenching and unclenching like they always did when he was especially nervous. He took a deep breath and let it out in one big huff.
Crowley woke up with a gasp. His roommates where still snoring away. Crowley scrambled around his bed, looking for his phone. The light pouring in through a cut in the curtains was much too bright to be all that early in the morning. Shitshitshit! Crowley thought in a panic. He ran a hand through his hair. Prolly shoulda showered…
He glared at his phone. It was already half past nine. He carefully stood up from his bed, avoiding the low-hanging top bunk where Hastur slept. Crowley had already made the mistake of bashing his head into it once - or thrice - before, and was not eager to experience it again. He looked down.
He was still wearing his dark jeans from the day before. He crouched down and reached under the bed for a clean shirt and pulled it on over his head. He slipped his backpack over one shoulder and pulled on a pair of boots. As quiet as he could, he snuck out of the room.
Crowley could hear a group of students in the common room laughing and shouting. He hissed and ducked into the stairwell to avoid having to interact with them on his way to the elevator. His boots thunked on each step, echoing up and down. Crowley stopped at the bottom, pulled some tangled earbuds from his bag, and shook them out.
“Damn things better still work…” Crowley grunted. He opened the music player on his phone and scrolled through a few albums before settling on a Best of Queen playlist. He pushed open the door and stepped outside.
The sunlight was bright, and Crowley was grateful for his ever-present sunglasses. He had about ten minutes until his next class started. It was late enough in the day that just about every other student was out and about, and Crowley was thoroughly pissed he didn’t wake up earlier. He rushed around students, between couples holding hands who shouted “Hey!” at him as he passed, and almost tripped a few times on the uneven pavement. Out of breath, he pushed open the door to the lecture hall for the Incoming Freshman Orientation class the university required him to take. He wiped the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand and stuffed his already-tangled earbuds back in his bag. Crowley started making his way up the stairs to the back of the classroom when a familiar voice made him stop.
“Crowley, over here!” came Aziraphale’s call. Crowley whipped around and found Aziraphale’s blond head. His hand was covering his mouth slightly, like he hadn’t meant to call out. Aziraphale lifted his hand and waved, weakly. Crowley sighed. He shuffled his feet. He had multiple arguments about multiple things with himself in his head. And then he groaned and walked over to Aziraphale.
Aziraphale watched Crowley stand awkwardly and stuff his notebook and pen into his bag. Aziraphale cleared his throat. Have to act fast, he thought.
“Uhm, Crowley,” he began, “it’s...nice to see you again!” Crowley’s head turned, and he half-smiled.
There hadn’t really been time to chat during the lecture. Instead, they sat awkwardly next to each other, refusing to acknowledge the other’s presence. Aziraphale felt responsible, and tried to make up for the awkwardness by talking more than he usually would care to.
“I have to say, I was quite surprised to see you before! I only came to this university because, well, my parents graduated from here, and they insisted that I follow in their footsteps, but I’m finding it to be quite enjoyable, especially for a state college that so many other people attend, althou-”
“Hey,” Crowley cut him off. “’s good to see you, too.” Aziraphale blushed. “Where you headed next?” Crowley asked, slinging his bag over his shoulder. Aziraphale gathered his books into a neat stack and slid them into his bag.
“Oh, just some mathematics class in one of the east buildings, you?”
“Got a break right now. Would kill for some coffee, though.” Crowley looked down at Aziraphale and raised one eyebrow.
“I...think I might have a little time to spare. Lead the way?”
Aziraphale sat in an overstuffed armchair, clutching a mug of cappuccino topped with a dollop of whipped cream. Crowley had pulled a metal chair up next to him and was sitting on it backwards, sipping a black coffee.
“I honestly don’t know how you can drink that stuff,” Aziraphale said, taking a swig of his cappuccino. He wiped a blob whipped cream from his upper lip with a paper napkin.
“‘s alright, once you get used to it,” Crowley said. And, as if to prove it, he downed the rest of the cup. Aziraphale shivered with disgust.
“So tell me,” Aziraphale began, “what made you decide to come here?”
Crowley thought for a moment. “Thought a cup of coffee might be nice. Didn’t have a chance to get any this morning.” Aziraphale stared at him.
“I meant...to the university, dear,” he said slowly.
“Oh!” Crowley laughed. “Yeah, okay, duh. Obvious. Right. Sorry.” He ran a hand through his hair and Aziraphale’s breath caught in his throat for just an instant. “It was close, really. To home. Didn’t have to move too far.”
“And what are you studying?”
“I want to say...something with science.”
Aziraphale blinked, eyebrows raised. “You don’t know?”
Crowley shrugged. “Ehh, ‘s something in science I think. With people or...numbers?”
Aziraphale reached out to touch Crowley’s arm, but settled for the armrest of Crowley’s chair. “Crowley…”
“‘s got a sciency name’s all I can remember. Temporary. Just till I find something actually interesting.”
“Well, okay then.” Aziraphale sat back. He huffed, then went on. “I’m studying economics. It’s what my parents studied, so now I have to study it, too.” Crowley leaned forward.
“You don’t have to, ya know. Could major in whatever you want. Who cares, right?”
“I care, though! I have a reputation to uphold, you know!” Crowley leaned back, nodding. That was a fair point. Aziraphale certainly carried himself like someone with some sort of reputation to uphold. It would explain a lot.
“When’s that math class of yours?” Crowley asked, changing the subject. Aziraphale studied at his watch.
“Oh, I’ve got a bit of time,” he replied. He was lying. His class started twenty minutes ago. He had meant to get his drink to go, but talking to Crowley was so...nice. And Aziraphale didn’t want to spoil it. He took a shaky sip of his cappuccino. “You?” he asked, his voice just a little too high. Crowley didn’t notice.
“Nah, ‘s all good. Don’t have anywhere to be for a few hours,” he said, reaching across Aziraphale to set his cup down on the end table beside Aziraphale’s chair. “What’re you doing later?”
“Studying, probably,” Aziraphale said, blushing from Crowley’s closeness.
“Already? ‘s only the first week!”
“Well, excuse me for trying to be prepared! It wouldn’t hurt you to do a bit of studying, either! If I recall correctly, I believe it was you who barely graduated!” Aziraphale said with a laugh. Crowley smiled and nodded. It was true; his grades were never the best and often the worst.
“Sounds about right,” Crowley said. He ran a hand through his hair again and grinned at Aziraphale. “Think you can help me out?”
“‘Fraid not, dear,” Aziraphale frowned. Crowley hissed. They were standing on the third floor of the library, trying to find an empty room to study in. Aziraphale’s arms were crossed. They’d been through the library twice already and couldn't find anything.
“We could always try the top floor again?” Crowley suggested. Aziraphale huffed.
“I was hoping to find something...quieter this time.” He uncrossed his arms and adjusted his bag. “We could just study at my dorm. It is just me in there,” he said quietly. Crowley stared at him.
“You mean you’ve had your own room this whole time!? And you never said anything?”
“I, well, I didn’t think you’d want t-”
“Nope, done here. Let’s go.” Crowley grabbed Aziraphale’s hand and pulled him toward the stairs.
Aziraphale’s dorm room was small, Crowley noticed. Aziraphale had warned him on the way, but Crowley had just assumed he was over exaggerating. The fact that Aziraphale had managed to fit so much into the room seemed like a miracle to Crowley.
He sat down on the foot of Aziraphale’s bed.
“So,” Crowley snapped his fingers, “where do we start?”
Crowley was aware that he was awake, but it was too dim to be morning. And it was oddly quiet. He peeked through one eye. This...isn’t my room, he thought, opening his other eye. There was no bunk above him, just a tall white ceiling. There was a warm glow from one side of the room. Crowley turned his head to see where it was coming from.
Crowley’s heart started thumping so loud he thought it would wake Aziraphale up for sure. He struggled to keep his breathing even. It seemed he had fallen asleep in Aziraphale’s bed, and, rather than wake him up, Aziraphale had laid down next to Crowley.
He was wearing flannel pajamas, Crowley noticed. There was a paperback book splayed face-down on Aziraphale’s stomach. Crowley tried to make out the title, but couldn't read it in the faint light. Aziraphale was snoring softly. Crowley stared straight up.
Should I...I dunno, wake him up? Crowley turned his head to look at Aziraphale again and thought against it. He rolled over slightly to face Aziraphale. He watched Aziraphale’s chest rise slowly up and down.
He looked at Aziraphale’s face. The glow of the desk lamp behind him illuminated his blond curls. Before he realized what he was doing, Crowley had reached his hand up, and was running his fingers gently through them. Almost looks like an angel, Crowley thought absently. Aziraphale made a pleasant noise in his sleep, and Crowley’s hand froze. He withdrew his hand, and tucked it against his chest. He closed his eyes, and tried to fall back asleep. He tried counting sheep, but that didn’t do anything for him.
Instead, he decided to listen to Aziraphale breathe softly next to him. He lifted his hand once again, and laid it softly on Aziraphale’s chest. His flannel pajama shirt was quite soft, Crowley noticed. He felt his chest move up and down with each breath, and Crowley tried to match his breathing to Aziraphale’s. It took a bit, but his last thoughts as he drifted off were how grateful he was for Aziraphale’s warmth. And how much he loved the smell of lavender.
“...happy birthday, dear Aziraphale! Happy birthday to you!”
The crowd around him clapped as Aziraphale leaned forward and blew out the nineteen candles that topped his cake.
He was surrounded by his parent’s friends and their children. Aziraphale recognized a few faces; there was Gabriel and Michael who had always intimidated Azirapahel. The massive kitchen of Aziraphale’s parents’ house was packed as everyone waited while slices of cake were passed around.
Gabriel and Michael approached, engrossed in their own conversation.
“...and all I had to do was raise my hand, and she shut right up. Serves her right for thinking she was really an expert on the subject,” Gabriel said. Michael was nodding along.
Aziraphale tired to follow along, but the buzz of his phone in his pocket distracted him. He pulled it out and glanced at it quickly. It was a message from Crowley. Aziraphale’s breath caught in his throat. He opened the text.
“Happy birthday, the message said. Aziraphale smiled. That’s Crowley, alright he thought, not really much for words.
“Who’s that, Aziraphale? Your girlfriend or something?” Michael said, startling Aziraphale.
“Something like that…” Aziraphale said bravely. He blushed.
“Oh, please,” Gabriel scoffed. “I don’t have time for any distractions like that. Yale has been very challenging. Why, just last week…”
Aziraphale wasn’t listening. A smile spread across his face, and it was all he could do to keep from singing with joy.
“Thank you very much, Crowley~!” he sent back. Crowley responded with a silly picture of a cat, and Aziraphale’s smile only grew bigger.
The rest of the night flew by. He and Crowley had been exchanging silly photos for most of the party, and before he knew it, Aziraphale was shaking hands with strangers, thanking them for coming. When he shut the door behind the last guest, he flew upstairs to his room. He dressed in his favourite flannel pajamas, and scrawled out a description of the night in his journal.
When Crowley finally bid Aziraphale good night, it was well past two in the morning. Aziraphale closed his eyes, his mouth sore from smiling.
But Aziraphale tossed and turned. The classical music he had turned on - Debussy - wasn’t helping. He sat up and switched the music off. He thought about Crowley. He was still surprised Crowley had even remembered it was his birthday. He couldn't remember actually telling Crowley about it.
Aziraphale checked the time on his phone. It was almost four in the morning. He laid back down and staring at the ceiling.
I wish… Aziraphale thought sadly, that Crowley was here…
“You can do this!”
“I can do this.”
“You’re the man!”
“I’m the man.”
“You are going to pass!”
“I am…” Crowley stopped. “Aziraphale, I don’t think this is working.”
“Nonsense!” Aziraphale cried. “It’s called positive visualization, dear! If you can dream it, you can be it!” They were standing outside a lecture hall. A few students pushed past them to get inside. Aziraphale ushered them on with a wave and a “Good luck!” Crowley just frowned.
They had spent the last week holed up in Aziraphale’s room, studying for their finals. They slept in shifts, taking and retaking the practice quizzes, reading and rereading Aziraphale’s notes. At one point, Aziraphale had tried to make a game involving flashcards. By the end of the week, they were all over his room, including the top of his wardrobe and under his mattress.
Aziraphale was the first to check his final grades.
“I passed!” he shouted. “With a 4.0!” A few heads turned to look at them. Crowley waved his hand to dismiss them and hissed. They were at the same coffee shop on campus they usually visited, and they sat in their usual seats.
“Congrats, man,” Crowley said weakly, slapping Aziraphale on the shoulder. He was feeling sicker by the minute.
“Now it’s your turn,” Aziraphale said slyly, dangling his phone in front of Crowley’s face. Crowley sighed.
“Oh, gimme that,” he said, taking Aziraphale’s phone. He logged into his student account, and handed the phone back to Aziraphale. “Here,” he said, “you check for me.” Aziraphale raised an eyebrow at him, then looked at his phone. He scrolled through a few pages, then paused.
“Huh,” he said quietly. He scrolled a bit more.
“Well?” Crowley demanded. His stomach was a bottomless pit.
“Well…” Aziraphale repeated. “You, ah, huh. This is surprising.” Crowley shut his eyes, bracing himself.
“Dear, you passed!” Crowley’s eyes flew open. He scrambled to grab Aziraphale’s phone from his hands.
“I wha-what!?” Crowley stared at the screen and saw for himself. It wasn’t pretty, but sure enough, he passed.
“Oh, you passed! I can’t believe it, I’m so proud of you, dear!” Aziraphale clapped his hands. Crowley laughed and sat back in his chair. He ran a hand through his hair.
Chapter 3: Winter Intermission
Crowley opened his eyes. It was dark outside, and Crowley struggled to recall what year it was. He sat up, groaning.
He was back in his childhood bedroom. There was a faint glow outside his bedroom window from the holiday lights the neighbors had strung up. Crowley frowned and pulled the shades closed. His room was filled with a pale light from the “ironic” lava lamp he still had on his desk. It cast a reassuring orange glow. Crowley laid his head back on his pillow. A little ding came from his phone on the nightstand. Crowley’s hand flopped around the table until he found it. He squinted at the bright screen.
“Merry Christmas, Crowley~!” Aziraphale’s text read. Crowley looked at the time. 2:58AM.
Wha’s he doing up this late? Crowley wondered with a tiny smile. He put the phone back on the nightstand and rolled away. The way his face flushed was becoming much too common an occurrence for comfort. Crowley buried his face in his dark blanket and hissed.
Seeing Aziraphale again, after three years without speaking, had been a surprise. Crowley would have liked to call Aziraphale his friend. But Aziraphale always had something else going on. A plan to follow. And, apparently, no time for friends. It wasn’t something Crowley took personally. At least, that’s what he told himself.
’s nothing… he thought, prolly sends everyone their own stupid holiday text. Crowley nodded to himself. That made sense. Aziraphale was the kind of person who would stay up until three in the morning making sure everyone on his contact list got a personal holiday greeting. Crowley whined into the blanket.
Why did it have to feel like this?
Aziraphale was a total dork. He wore bowties on a daily basis, and wore them unironically. He read weird books because he wanted to. He didn’t have to worry about money, but he still worked in the bookstore of all places. He was obsessed with French desserts and actually ate three meals a day. Doubt he’s ever kissed a girl, Crowley thought, having kissed a number of girls, and even a few “adventurous” guys in his lifetime.
Crowley groaned again, and tried to stop thinking. He pulled the blanket up over his head and curled into the fetal position. He wanted to fall back asleep, but his throat felt tight, and his face was burning.
And he couldn't stop thinking of Aziraphale. He pictured the types of clothes Aziraphale wore, mostly button-up shirts. And those stupid tartan bowties. He thought about the way Aziraphale was constantly smiling. The way he said “my dear” all the time. The way he held coffee mugs with both hands. He thought of the way Aziraphale looked, reclining in bed, reading some obscure novel. He thought of the shape of Aziraphale’s body, in that bed. He imagined his own body laying there, too, pressed close to Aziraphale’s soft chest.
Crowley sat up and threw the blanket off.
“No. Nonononono. I’m stopping. I’m done. Thinking is over. Done now, thanks,” Crowley said. He stood up and paced around his bedroom.
He crossed and uncrossed his arms. He tied his long, red hair up in a tight bun, then took it down. He loosely braided it, then combed it out again with his fingers. He sat down at his desk and watched the “lava” roll around in its lamp. He laid on the floor and did a few situps. He went to the bathroom and brushed his teeth. Then he brushed them again for good measure. He pressed his forehead against the cool glass of the mirror and groaned.
“He’s a bastard,” he told himself in the mirror, “and so are you. What are you doing?”
Crowley turned off the bathroom light and went back to bed.
He tossed and turned with the blankets both on and off. He tried laying his head at the foot of the bed, but at that angle, the lights from next door shone directly in his face. He hissed and sat up. He turned himself around, and leaned against the headboard.
“Aziraphale,” Crowley whispered, the word leaving a strange feeling in his mouth, “what a bastard.” He closed his eyes and thumped his head back against the headboard. He took a deep breath.
Can’t believe I’m even thinking this… Crowley squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his fists. But I think I...like him…
Crowley groaned and put his face in his hands. I think I really like the bastard…
“Yeah, and what’s so great about him?” Crowley asked aloud to nobody.
“I mean, nothing really,” Crowley answered.
“Then why are you actin’ like a total freak?”
“I-I can’t help the way I feel, man!”
“Sure ya can! He‘s not even your type!”
“I don’t...have a type,” Crowley replied, knowing it was a lie. He did have a type. His type was chubby blond boys with bright blue eyes and stupid smiles.
He hissed against his hands. “Aziraphale,” he whispered, trying out the word once more. “Aziraphale…”
He was all Crowley could think about. He had a type, alright. His type was warm bodies and lavender-scented sheets. It was rosy cheeks and soft hands.
“Aziraphale…” he breathed. It was blond curls and quiet laughter. It was sweet coffee and old poetry.
“Aziraphale…” It was one night he had thought about over and over again for a month. It was a desk lamp, and a book laid across a sleeping body. It was stupid pajamas.
“Aziraphale…” Crowley panted. His hand had found its way between his legs. He froze, breathing hard.
This...this is...there’s gotta be something wrong with me, Crowley thought. His heart was pounding in his ears. He thought of Aziraphale’s bed again.
Crowley had a very good imagination, and so he imagined he was back in that bed. He imagined the soft glow of the desk lamp, and the softness of Aziraphale’s flannel shirt. Crowley imagined reaching over and undoing the top button of that shirt. He imagined leaning forward and kissing the base of Aziraphale’s throat. Imagined the sound Aziraphale would make. He imagined Aziraphale’s back arching so Crowley could slip his hand beneath him, against the small of his back. He imagined kissing his way up Aziraphale’s neck, hearing Aziraphale moan. Imagined how Aziraphale’s mouth would taste.
He imagined he was over Aziraphale in that bed, unbuttoning his shirt. Imagined kissing down Aziraphale’s chest and stomach. He imagined the way Aziraphale would moan his name. A shiver raced up Crowley’s spine. He imagined what Aziraphale might look like naked. Imagined how Aziraphale’s everything would taste.
Crowley came with a gasp and a whimper. He was breathing hard. He leaned over carefully to grab a bath towel from his bedroom floor, and cleaned up the mess he had made. He climbed out of bed and stood in front of the bathroom mirror again. His face was flushed, and he still hadn’t caught his breath. He looked at himself, eyes narrowed.
Chapter 4: Spring Semester, Year One
“So what’s this semester look like for you?” Aziraphale asked. He was sitting at his tidy school desk, back in his old dorm. Crowley sat cross legged on Aziraphale’s bed, looking at a pile of textbooks. He didn’t answer.
“Really gotta read all these?” he asked instead. Aziraphale sighed.
“Well, not all of them. Some of them I picked out because I thought they’d make a nice addition to the curriculum.” Crowley laughed.
“Only you,” Crowley said, grinning at Aziraphale. He was still wearing his sunglasses. Aziraphale was used to it at this point. Although, Aziraphale thought, if I had Crowley’s eyes, I might...show them off more... He leaned back in his desk chair.
“Let’s do dinner,” Aziraphale said, not really asking. He already knew Crowley’s answer.
“Sure,” Crowley said right on cue. He stood up and stretched, leaning backwards, arms over his head. Aziraphale looked away as Crowley’s shirt was pulled up, exposing a sliver of his stomach. Crowley shook out his long hair before pulling it up into a loose bun. Aziraphale took a measured breath, then stood up too, smiling. He gestured at the door.
“After you, my dear.”
After last semester, they had devised an unspoken routine. They would meet up after class and go to Aziraphale’s private dorm for homework, avoiding the droves of students who noiseied-up the quiet corners of the library. Then they’d eat a late dinner, and go their separate ways. Most of the time they ate on campus, but sometimes, Crowley would drive them to restaurants in nearby towns in his old Bentley. Their second semester was starting the next day, and, as a last hurrah, Crowley suggested a sushi bar he had read about online that was just one town over. Aziraphale’s whole face lit up at the suggestion, and Crowley made a mental note to suggest sushi more often.
Despite it being the first time at the restaurant for both of them, Aziraphale seemed to know his way around the menu like a sushi veteran, which he probably was, Crowley figured. Crowley looked at the menu and just shook his head. He ordered a bowl of miso soup, and left it at that.
But Aziraphale wouldn’t allow it.
“Please, dear, you have to try this. Here, it’s easy!” He held a pair of chopsticks out for Crowley to use. Crowley shook his head, and Aziraphale raised his eyebrows. “Fine,” he said, deftly picking up a bite-sized piece, “c’mere then.” Aziraphale held it out. Crowley laughed nervously, and, when Aziraphale just stuck the bite out farther, he closed his eyes and leaned forward to take it. Crowley’s eyes flew open.
“‘s good!” he exclaimed, licking his lips. “Damn, that‘s really good!”
Aziraphale smiled triumphantly, and fed Crowley two more bites. Crowley ate them gratefully. They quickly finished off the rest of Aziraphale’s plate.
“That, my dear,” Aziraphale announced on their way back to Crowley’s car, “was probably the best meal I’ve had in ages.” Warmth spread across Crowley’s face, along with an involuntary smile. He was thankful for their habit of eating late at night.
“Did you catch any of that?” Crowley asked. His mouth was a line of worry. Aziraphale’s eyes narrowed as he thought.
“I think I got the gist of it,” he said, apprehensively. “I took notes, at least. They might explain a little better than I can.”
Crowley scoffed, and led the way out of the classroom and down a crowded sidewalk. Aziraphale began to fall behind, too polite to push past the other people walking to and from class. Crowley stopped, and reached out his hand. Aziraphale took it, gratefully, and Crowley pulled him along. Aziraphale “excuse us!” and “pardon me!”-ed his way through the stream of students, and Crowley rolled his eyes, only half-embarrassed. Crowley towed him along until they stood in front of Aziraphale’s dorm.
“Oh, hang on,” Aziraphale said, taking his hand from Crowley’s. He knelt down and rummaged through his messenger bag, pulling out his student ID. He swiped it on the pad next to the door, and it swung open, letting them in. Crowley followed him inside.
“So what’s the plan?” Aziraphale asked.
“You tell me,” Crowley replied, stepping into an elevator and pushing the button for the seventh floor, “you’re the one who took notes.” Aziraphale grimaced.
“Well, in that case, I guess we should read over whatever drivel I wrote in that cursed class.”
Crowley laughed as they stepped off the elevator. He led the way to Aziraphale’s room, and stood patiently in front of the door. When Aziraphale again swiped his ID, Crowley pushed open the door, and held it for Aziraphale.
“...and if you believe he’d actually pass me, you’re bonkers,” Crowley was saying, speeding down the dark city streets. Aziraphale was gripping the door, wincing.
“Well, we studied, I don’t see why you wouldn-Crowley watch out!!”
“‘S fine, don’t worry!” Crowley said, waving his hand dismissively. He sped around a corner, and the Bentley almost went airborne over a parking lot speed bump.
“Crowley, please!” Aziraphale shouted, wincing. Crowley turned his head to look at Aziraphale.
“Oh please, Angel, don’t you have any faith in m-”
The tires squealed as Crowley slammed on the brakes. As the Bentley came to an abrupt halt, it was deafeningly quiet. Crowley sucked in a breath and held it. He waited.
“Crowley…” Aziraphale whispered, breaking the silence, “I...I think you hit someone…”
Crowley swallowed. He opened the door, and stepped out of the car and walking around to the side. Aziraphale followed close behind him.
There was a young woman on the ground. Next to her was a bike, with one bent wheel.
“Musta just clipped her…” Crowley muttered. He ran a hand through his hair. Aziraphale was already on the ground next to her, helping her up.
“There you go, dear, no bones broken,” he said. The woman was rubbing her head.
“What happened?” she groaned.
“I, uh...” Aziraphale began.
“Didn’t see you,” Crowley cut him off. “Clipped your bike.”
“Oh, my bike,” she said desperately. “Is it okay?”
Crowley and Aziraphale both looked at the bent wheel.
“It’s...it’ll be alright,” Aziraphale said gently. He helped her to the Bentley. “Where were you off to?” he asked. She gave him a look. “We can take you, if you like.”
“Wait, what? No!” Crowley said. “We’re giving her a ride?”
“It’s the least we can do!” Aziraphale retorted. “Now load up that bicycle!” Crowley groaned, but complied. Aziraphale followed him, leaving the woman standing at the open passenger side door.
“Oh, go get in, Angel,” Crowley growled. The woman’s eyebrows raised and Crowley rolled his eyes at her. Aziraphale didn’t notice the exchange. The woman climbed into the backseat, still rubbing her head. Aziraphale sat down too, buckling his seat belt. Crowley walked back and sat in the driver’s seat. He turned his head to the backseat.
“Where to?” Crowley asked sarcastically. The woman began giving rapidfire directions to an apartment complex just off campus. Crowley nodded silently, and began driving. They were all quiet for a moment.
“So, what’s your name?” Aziraphale asked awkwardly.
“...Anathema. Anathema Device…why?” she asked apprehensively. Aziraphale smiled weakly.
“It just seemed polite to ask, my dear,” he said. His hands clenched into fists. Crowley scoffed. They continued the rest of the way in silence.
After a few moments, Crowley stopped the Bentley. Aziraphale quickly stepped out, helping Anathema out of the backseat. He walked around to the back of the car, and unloaded Anathema’s bicycle.
“Well, I guess we’ll be seeing you around,” Aziraphale said, pushing the sad bicycle over to Anathema.
“Angel, let’s go!” Crowley said. Aziraphale smiled at Anathema before climbing back into the Bentley.
“Well, I guess we’ll be seeing you around!” Aziraphale said warmly. He shut the door, and the Bentley sped off.
“Yeah,” she said, “see ya…”
Crowley’s eyes snapped open. There was a hand on his chest. It was dark, and it smelled faintly of lavender. He must be in Aziraphale’s room. He groaned. This was starting to become a habit. He glanced to his right, and saw the faint outline of Aziraphale’s face next to him. Crowley blushed.
Crowley groaned softly. Yeah, this was definitely becoming a habit. At least he remembered to turn the light off this time… he thought.
Aziraphale was breathing deeply. Crowley guessed they had both been asleep for quite some time. He glanced down. It was Aziraphale’s hand. Aziraphale touching him. Crowley held his breath, savoring the warmth of Aziraphale’s closeness. Crowley reached his hand up and placed it over the one on his chest, running his thumb lightly over Aziraphale’s knuckles. It wasn't really such a bad habit, falling asleep in his best friend's bed.
He pressed himself close to Aziraphale and breathed in deeply.
“G’night, Angel…” he said softly, and closed his eyes.
A month had flown by without them realizing, and they were back in Aziraphale’s dorm like they’d spent every night thus far. Crowley was sitting at the desk, staring down at Aziraphale’s notes.
“It’s going to be fine, Crowley,” Aziraphale was saying. “Midterms are nothing to worry about!”
“For you, maybe,” Crowley grumbled. He turned the page, and Aziraphale stood up.
“Here, let me show you what to study,” he said, bending over. He braced himself with a hand on Crowley’s back, and Crowley had to suppress a shiver. Aziraphale pointed out a few passages in his notes, leaning closer to Crowley to turn another page. Crowley nodded along.
“...and when you’re finished,” Aziraphale was saying, “we can celebrate your birthday!”
“My...huh?” Crowley set his sunglasses on the desk and rubbed his eyes. He was starting to see spots.
“Your birthday, my dear! It’s coming up soon, isn’t it?” Crowley thought about it.
“Well, it is, I checked. And I think it would be nice to celebrate it together.” Aziraphale clasped his hands together decisively. Crowley leaned back in the desk chair.
“What did you have in mind?” he asked. Aziraphale winked.
“Oh, I think there’s plenty I could tempt you with, dear.” Crowley sucked in a breath and ran a hand through his hair.
“Like...what?” Crowley ventured.
“I was thinking of a nice dinner? My treat!” Aziraphale said, smiling. “Unless you had another idea?” Crowley thought of what he really wanted to be doing with Aziraphale, and blushed.
“Maybe we could go...dancing?” he blurted out.
“Hm...I don’t see why not,” Aziraphale said, “it is your birthday after all. Do you know somewhere nearby?”
“I know a place,” Crowley said, smiling. He grabbed his keys.
The music was loud.
Crowley sat at the bar, waiting on two sodas. The club was dark, save for a few lights at the stage that flashed with the beat of the music. Crowley checked his phone. Across the bar, a woman waved at him. It was Anathema. Crowley lifted his hand in response. Anathema raised an eyebrow at him, and Crowley pointed behind him towards Aziraphale’s bouncing blond head poking up from the crowd. Anathema winked at him, and turned away to resume talking to the guy sitting next to her at the bar. Crowley checked his phone again.
A hand on his shoulder startled him.
“There you are!” Aziraphale shouted over the music. His cheeks were bright red, and he was smiling. “I thought I lost you!”
“I’m just grabbing a drink!” Crowley said, leaning close so Aziraphale could hear him. Crowley had tried to convince him to wear something a little more...casual, but, as it turned out, Aziraphale owned approximately one pair of jeans and no “cool” shirts. They had made a pit stop at Crowley’s dorm, and Crowley had emerged with a number of t-shirts. Aziraphale had picked a band shirt with the least offensive name - Silversun Pickups - and changed in the car on the way to the club. Crowley had struggled to keep his eyes on the road.
“Aren’t you going to dance at all?” Aziraphale shouted into Crowley’s ear. Crowley shrugged. The bartender set two sodas on the counter in front of him.
“Thirsty?” Crowley asked. Aziraphale grinned and reached forward.
Crowley sipped his drink, and watched as Aziraphale drank his down fast. Aziraphale set the glass down on the bar, and grabbed Crowley’s free hand.
“Are you ready now?” Aziraphale asked. Crowley started to protest, but Aziraphale pulled him forward.
“Please? It was your idea, wasn’t it?” Aziraphale fake-pouted. Crowley sighed, and let himself get pulled away after Aziraphale.
The music seemed to get louder as the night passed. In a moment, Crowley lost himself in the heavy bass, reaching out to grab Aziraphale around the waist. Aziraphale was surprised, but only for an instant. He grinned at Crowley over his shoulder, and moved back against him.
They danced, pressed together in a crowd of moving bodies. Heat rose up through Crowley, numbing his brain. The DJ tonight was impressive.
Crowley had only been here a few times, only by himself, just to check the club out. He’d read some good reviews online, but had been unimpressed so far. But being here, pressed against Aziraphale in the dark, with the music pulsing deep in his chest, he understood.
He tried to keep a grip on his sanity, but before he knew what he was doing, he was grinding up against Aziraphale. And, to Crowley’s delight, Aziraphale didn’t move away. Crowley pulled him closer.
Aziraphale rolled over in his narrow bed.
Crowley was laying next to him, snoring softly. Aziraphale swallowed. He took a deep breath in, and let it out slowly. That’s right, he thought, I can’t blame him for wanting to sleep here. His cheeks flushed. He closed his eyes tight, considering sleep, then opened them again.
He propped himself up on his elbow. Aziraphale had never seen Crowley look so...serene. His hair had fallen out of the bun he’d tied it up in before falling asleep. It hung around his face in long, red ringlets. Aziraphale couldn't help reaching out and twirling one ringlet around his fingers. It was surprisingly soft. Crowley sighed gently in his sleep, and Aziraphale froze. When Crowley stayed asleep, Aziraphale pulled his hand back, and scooted closer to Crowley.
Crowley’s body was pressed against the wall. One leg was bent at the knee, and the other stuck out straight. His arms were crossed behind his head. Aziraphale admired the sharp angles of Crowley’s body, the way his chest stuck out beneath his thin black t-shirt, and the straight lines of his legs in his tight, dark jeans. Quite the opposite of me, Aziraphale thought, almost regretfully. He looked down at his own body, all soft and rounded.
What could he ever see in me…? he thought absently. He turned his gaze back to Crowley. Aziraphale couldn't help smiling. Whatever Crowley thought of him, Aziraphale didn’t want to know. As long as Crowley continued spending the night with him, Aziraphale would be happy.
He laid his head on Crowley’s arm and breathed in deeply, basking in Crowley’s earthy scent. He laid his hand on Crowley’s chest, grabbing a handful of his shirt.
Yes, Aziraphale thought as he drifted to sleep, as long as he stays right here, forever, I’ll be happy…
Chapter 5: Summer Intermission
Crowley had never seen a house this big in person. Scratch that; he had never seen a house this big ever. It loomed over him in a very intimidating manner, four stories tall. He swallowed nervously and twisted a loose curl around one finger. Aziraphale was standing a few feet in front of him, attempting to unlock the front door.
“Shoot!” Aziraphale cursed, dropping the keys on the marble patio. He laughed nervously. “Sorry, dear, not used to using the key! The door’s usually open…” Crowley nodded, afraid that if he opened his mouth, something unsavory would escape. Possibly a comment about how no being on earth would need a house this big. There was a loud creak as the double doors swung open.
“Alright, Crowley, come on in!” Aziraphale said, stepping inside. Crowley adjusted the bag on his shoulders and stepped forward. He looked up at the two story foyer. A great, big chandelier hung down from the ceiling. The granite floor was polished so bright that Crowley doubted anyone had ever walked on it.
“...and they won’t be back until next month,” Aziraphale was explaining, moving through the foyer and into a massive kitchen. He flipped a few switches, and a track of led lights popped on overhead. Soft, classical music began playing from hidden speakers all around the kitchen. Aziraphale continued, “so we’ll have the place to ourselves. Are you sure your parents won’t mind you staying so long?”
“Huh?” Crowley’s head turned to Aziraphale. He hadn’t really been listening. The size of the house was overwhelming.
“I was just explaining that my folks are out of the country for business this month, dear,” Aziraphale repeated, “and I asked if it’s really alright if you stay here for the summer.”
“Oh. Oh, yeah, ‘s fine. Parents couldn't care less if I come and go as I please.”
“Well, alright,” Aziraphale said quietly. “What would you like to do, then?”
Crowley shrugged, still preoccupied with the magnitude of Aziraphale’s home.
“Would you...like a tour?” Aziraphale asked with a small smile. Crowley nodded. Aziraphale clapped his hands and grabbed Crowley’s hand, pulling him forward.
Aziraphale’s house, it turned out, was just as terrifying on the inside as it was on the outside. There were twelve bedrooms for some reason, and five different bathrooms. The basement had been turned into a home theater, and in an annex just outside the backdoor, an indoor pool. The floors were mostly hardwood or granite, and the walls were all white. There were just enough photos on the walls that someone might believe a family actually lived in the house. When Aziraphale pushed open the door to his own bedroom, Crowley prepared for the worst.
But it was surprisingly...warm. There was a bookshelf almost completely covering one wall that overflowed with books. A bed covered in a mess of quilts sat in the opposite corner. The wood floor was hidden by a fluffy white rug. Aziraphale stepped inside.
“You can leave your things in here,” he said, sitting down on the bed. “Sorry it’s such a mess.”
“Mess!?” Crowley laughed. There wasn’t an object out of place, even on the desk or the overstuffed bookshelf. Aziraphale blushed.
“W-well, it’s been a few months since I was last here… I didn’t realize what kind of state I had left it in.”
“It‘s fine,” Crowley reassured him. He dropped his bag to the floor and flopped down next to Aziraphale on the bed. “Let’s watch a movie.”
Crowley had been at Aziraphale’s house for a little over a week now. They had spent their days watching movies, swimming laps in the pool, or playing video games. Aziraphale would take breaks to read in bed, and Crowley would surf the web on his phone, showing Aziraphale funny pictures and playing him songs by obscure bands.
One afternoon, Aziraphale closed his book, marking his place with a finger. “I think...” he said slowly, “I think I might cook us dinner tonight.” Crowley looked up from his phone.
“I don’t think I can take much more pizza,” he said sheepishly. Crowley nodded understandingly. They had been eating a lot of it lately. Azirphale sat up in the bed and rubbed his hands together thoughtfully.
Aziraphale had flipped through quite a few cookbooks before settling on a vegetable and pasta dish that would only take twenty or so minutes to cook. Neither of his parents actually did any cooking when he was growing up, so Aziraphale had turned to the library to learn the mechanics of it. He shooed Crowley out to back door with a wicker basket to pick a few tomatoes and an eggplant, and Crowley laughed as tripped on the steps. Aziraphale tied an apron around his waist and started pulling spices from a cabinet above the stove.
Crowley hadn’t seen a farm in about eight years, but the plot of land behind Aziraphale’s house was pretty damn close to the last one he’d seen. He walked up and down two rows before he found the tomatoes. It was impressive how well-kept the garden was. Crowley wondered who took care of the property. He’d been staying in the house for almost two weeks, and hadn’t seen anyone else but Aziraphale.
Crowley dropped the wicker basket and squatted down. The dirt felt good between his toes. He gently squeezed a few tomatoes, and picked a few of the best looking ones. He stood and turned around. That’ll be the eggplant, then, he thought, and bent over to pick the biggest one he could find. He tossed it into the basket with the tomatoes, and yawned.
Crowley slipped through the sliding glass door, appreciating the cool breeze from the air conditioning. Aziraphale had turned on the radio while Crowley was out, and it was playing cheerful, classical music. Aziraphale was at the counter, thinly slicing basil leaves. He looked up and smiled when Crowley opened the door.
“Did you find them alright, dear?” he asked. Crowley held up the basket triumphantly. He dusted the dirt off his feet on a floor mat, and sidled up to Aziraphale, gently hip-checking him. Aziraphale laughed and brandished a basil leaf at him. “Come help me clean these up,” Aziraphale said, taking the basket from Crowley.
They sat on the edge of the pool, watching the sunset through the frosted glass walls. Crowley had rolled his pants up to his knees and was dangling his feet in the water. Aziraphale had tuned the radio in the pool to the same classical station as in the kitchen. Crowley was leaning back, looking out through the glass ceiling. His sunglasses were on the tiled floor next to him.
“What are you thinking?” Aziraphale asked. He looked sideways at Crowley. “One year down, right? Any thoughts on your major?” Crowley shook his head.
“Nah, figure I’ll finish some sort of degree, then who knows, ya know?” Aziraphale snorted in response.
“I’m afraid I really don’t, my dear!” he laughed. “My plan is set in stone!”
“Yeah, but...are you really okay with that?” Crowley asked. Aziraphale shrugged.
“Well, I really like working at the bookstore. Sometimes I think that’s what I should be doing. Sometimes I think of opening a shop of my own.”
“Why don’t you?”
“Oh, dear,” Aziraphale laughed again. “I don’t think they would ever allow that!”
“Aw, fuck ‘em!”
“Sorry, sorry, it’s just...who’re they to make these decisions for you!? You’re your own man, you can make your own damn plans. They don’t get to decide anything for you! My parents couldn't care less that I haven’t been home all summer. And yours left you alone for a month!”
“Yes, but they’ve got imp-”
“Yeah, yeah, ‘important business’ or whatever. Still. Makes you wonder what it’ll take to make ‘em give a shit…”
Aziraphale placed a comforting hand on Crowley’s knee.
“I know how you feel, my dear. But...it’ll work out. You’ll see. We’ll be fine,” Aziraphale sighed.
Crowley turned his head. Aziraphale was looking at him with clear blue eyes. The sunset had turned his hair faintly pink. The annex was quiet as the radio faded from one song to another. Crowley breathed in softly. He put one hand on Aziraphale’s, still on his knee, and another on Aziraphale’s back. Aziraphale’s eyes widened, and he held his breath. Crowley swallowed. He leaned forward and kissed Aziraphale softly on the mouth.
For a moment, just a moment, Aziraphale kissed him back.
But then he didn’t.
Aziraphale reeled backwards, jumping to his feet. Crowley’s stomach dropped.
“I-I’m sorry, I-” Crowley stammered.
“Excuse me!” Aziraphale cried, turning around, and quickly walking back into the house. Crowley climbed to his feet and tried to follow, tired to reach out to grab Aziraphale’s hand, but Aziraphale whipped around and clutched his hands to his chest.
“I think you should go.” Aziraphale looked away, pained. “I...I think you should leave.”
Crowley felt choked. Aziraphale turned and walked away. A strangled sound escaped his mouth as he tried to speak. He stormed back in the house, and heard a door slam upstairs. Stupidstupidstupidstupid, Crowley thought. He swallowed a sob. He swiped his keys off the kitchen counter and grabbed his bag, slamming the double doors on his way out.
He sat in his car, and the tears finally came.
Chapter 6: Summer Intermission, cont.
I know a few ten-cent words
I can break out to keep up with her
But you can take what I know about love
And drown it in the sink
I know my way around a tune
Won't be a single dry eye in the room
But you can take what I know about you
And maybe fill a small balloon
But I'm just dumb enough to try
To keep you in my life
For a little while longer
And I'm insane enough to think
I'm gonna get out with my skin
And start my life again
I'm no stranger to the female form
Oh, I've been here a few times before
Oh, but you could have me anytime
Everything's cool, I'm great, it's fine
Oh, but I'm just dumb enough to try
To keep you in my life
For a little while longer
And I'm insane enough to think
I'm gonna get out with my skin
And start my life again
"Dumb Enough to Try"
-Father John Misty
Chapter 7: Fall Semester, Year Two
Crowley frowned. It was only one week into the start of his second year of college, yet it felt like he was starting all over again. He had the same annoying roommates who hassled him every chance they got, only this time, there was no safety of a private dorm to spend the night in. He had snuck out of his room at seven in the morning the last few days and sat in the greenhouse where he worked until his first class at ten. He played music on his phone - Glass Animals’ ZABA, because they sounded so melancholy - while he trimmed roots and plucked browning leaves for a couple hours, and then he would walk alone to his first class. It felt like the beginning of a sad routine.
On Friday morning, Crowley found himself sitting on the floor beneath a workbench, on the verge of falling asleep. The crash of the greenhouse door banging closed sent Crowley’s head straight up, smashing into the work bench.
“Shit, shit,” Crowley grumbled, crawling out from under the table. “Be with you inna sec!” he called out. He rubbed the knot that was already forming on the top of his head as he stepped around the corner into the main room of the greenhouse. He wasn’t expecting to see his boss. Crowley sighed in relief. He turned towards the back room.
“Crowley! Didn’t expect to see you here this early!”
“Yeah, yeah,” Crowley said, “I didn’t expect to be here this early, either. Didn’t know where else to go.” He turned off the music and started shoving his books back in his bag.
“‘Didn’t know where to go?’ Is somethin’ the matter, Crowley?” Crowley came back into the main room. His boss’s comically large eyebrows were drawn together in concern.
“‘s nothing, Francis. Kid stuff, really.” Crowley made for the door, embarrassed for multiple reasons.
“Now you come back here and tell me what’s botherin’ ya. I can’t have ya leavin’ here with a scowl like that. Not on my watch, no sir!” Francis crossed his arms. Crowley hissed and turned around.
“It’s nothing, Francis. ‘s stupid. Doesn’t matter.”
“Crowley…” Francis said sternly. His eyebrows made it hard to take him seriously. Crowley groaned.
“I...I lost…” he began, “I think I lost...no, I know I lost my bes- my...a friend. I lost a friend.” Crowley hissed and groaned. This was horrible. Francis nodded knowingly.
“I see,” he said slowly. “You lost a friend… And, how do you plan on finding him again?”
“How do- Huh??”
“A true friend is never really gone, my boy,” Francis said, laying a comically hairy hand on Crowley’s shoulder. “And no matter how lost they might seem, they’re never far away.” Crowley pursed his lips. He nodded in mock understanding.
“I...see,” Crowley said. He nodded once more for good measure. “Well, I’ll be on my way now! Thanks for the...wisdom.” Crowley waited. Francis withdrew his hand, but not before an encouraging slap to Crowley’s back. Crowley stumbled out the door and into the bright sun.
He squinted up at the sky. He’d left his sunglasses at Azi- a person’s house...and he hadn’t wanted to get a new pair. Crowley heaved a heavy sigh, and made his way to class.
Aziraphale’s dorm felt...colder this semester. It felt like something was out of place, but after a thorough cleaning and even a rearranging of his room twice, he still couldn't figure out what it was.
Aziraphale sat up in bed and checked his watch by the dim light provided by the lamp posts outside his window. Almost five in the morning. He groaned in submission. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood up. He’d been tossing and turning all night, and no reason to stay in bed, he thought. He grabbed his toothbrush and headed to the bathroom.
Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man...regret waking up, he thought sarcastically.
He spit into the sink and looked at himself in the mirror. He set his toothbrush on the counter and rubbed his fingertips across his cheeks, gauging how much longer he could go without shaving. He slid them over his chin and stopped. He sighed.
“I think I’ve probably made a mess of things, haven’t I?” he asked his reflection. His brow furrowed in the mirror. It had taken a lot of concentration to avoid thinking about the disaster the summer had turned out to be. Aziraphale sighed wearily, and brought his fingers to his lips. Why did it have to be him? he wondered absently. Why did he have to be my first ki-
“Oh, stop it,” Aziraphale snapped, clenching his hand into a fist. “You didn’t do anything.” He shook his head disapprovingly. “You aren’t the one to blame. And you know who is.”
But in his heart, Aziraphale knew he was wrong.
In his heart, Aziraphale knew that things could have gone quite pleasantly if he wasn’t such a...such a pansy.
He tried not to think about it.
Aziraphale dragged his feet the whole way down the hall back to his room.
He stood in front of the full length mirror and looked at himself. He ran his hands down his bare chest, over his stomach, and let them hang at his sides. He turned around and looked at himself over his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around himself and sighed. This had almost become a routine. He dressed in what he thought of as a “casual outfit.”
Work for Aziraphale was uneventful.
“Is that all, then?” he would ask. Who does he think he is? he would think.
“Fifth edition, dear? Sure,” he would say. What makes him think he can take advantage of me like that? he would think.
“Yes, that’s your total, cash or card?” he would ask. I hope I never see him again! he would think. At this thought, he slammed his fists on the counter. The line in front of him never stopped, and Aziraphale was grateful for the distraction. The more he tried not to think about what had happened over the summer, the more his heart hurt.
Aziraphale sighed, and resumed his friendly banter with the customer he was currently assisting. He focused on coming across as genuine as possible.
Anything, he thought, anything to keep from thinking of that day…
Crowley rubbed his eyes. He stared at the wooden bunk above him. There was a sliver of light shining through the curtains hanging over the window. Crowley looked at his phone. It was seven in the morning. His roommates were still snoring, and Crowley was wracked with jealousy. He reached under his bed, grabbed a t-shirt, and pulled it on over his head. He stood up, slipped on his boots, and left.
Crowley stopped at the library and bought a small cup of black coffee from the self-serve kiosk. He sipped it as he walked across campus. He didn’t bother listening to any music; he couldn't seem to find the right album for how he was feeling.
For the first time, he had actually showed up to his Friday morning class. He was one of the first students to arrive, and chose a prime seat in the back row. He pulled his phone out of his back pocket as he sat, and started absently flipping through apps. Eventually, enough time had passed that more and more students began filling the classroom. Crowley sipped his coffee and tried his best to ignore the students who sat next to him.
As Crowley glared down at his phone, something in his peripheral vision caught his eye. There was someone standing at the front of the classroom. Their hair was a bright, pale blond, and they wore a tartan bowtie. Crowley swore under his breath and tried to resist looking up.
But he couldn't stop his eyes from dragging up from his phone.
It was Aziraphale, of course. Why wouldn’t it be?
Crowley groaned, and looked back down at his phone, bracing himself for...something. He gritted his teeth, pushing random buttons on the phone keyboard in an attempt to seem busy. He didn’t think it was working, as he could feel someone walking towards him.
But at the last second, they turned away. Crowley looked up, squinting. It wasn’t Aziraphale. It was some rando, wiggling through rows to sit by an apparent friend. He glanced quickly around the lecture hall. Aziraphale’s stupid blond head was in the front row.
Crowley’s heart sank. As the professor walked up and began speaking, he pulled a battered notebook from his bag and flipped through it until he found a blank page. And then he began writing.
I am the stupidest creature on the planet. I have to be. Only someone as horribly stupid as me could screw up so badly.
He grimaced, his pencil tearing a hole through the page. He looked at the clock, then stood up and walked out.
Aziraphale sighed and leaned back in his chair. His head thumped against it. Had it really been a month since the semester began? It certainly didn't feel that way, but his calendar said otherwise.
He sighed, and glanced down at his stack of notes. He shuffled the papers around, trying to find something to study, but he couldn't concentrate. Defeated, he stood, grabbed his jacket and keys, and left.
The coffee shop was more crowded than he had seen it. The line wrapped around one wall of the shop, and there was a mass of people standing at the other end of the counter, waiting for their order.
Aziraphale bounced on his heels, looking around in vain for an empty chair while he waited to order, when something caught his eye.
Oh fuck… he cursed.
Crowley was standing there, one hand in his pocket and the other holding his phone. His long hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in a week, and in Aziraphale’s opinion, he desperately needed to shave.
He was wearing a remarkably tight pair of dark jeans, and Aziraphale bit his lip when he noticed a girl with long blue hair and a number of piercings also looking at Crowley. His hands clenched.
This is ridiculous...I’m absolutely crazy. I’m a crazy person now. he thought angrily. Crowley is an attractive person, of course I’m not the only one who would notice…
As he waited, he kept his eye on the girl, only relaxing when she grabbed her coffee and left. Crowley was still standing, not having noticed anything out of the ordinary.
After he placed his order - one earl grey with cream to go, please - he stood a bit away from Crowley who had still, apparently, not noticed Aziraphale standing there.
When Crowley’s name was called, they both looked up. Aziraphale bit his lip while his hand did some more clenching, and as Crowley turned around with his black coffee in hand, Aziraphale stepped up.
“O-oh!” he cried, faking surprise. “Crowley, I didn’t see you there!”
Crowley’s sunglasses were askew on top of his head, and he reached a hand up to keep them from sliding off.
“’m sorry, I was just…” he trailed off, looking pained.
“Willyouwaitwithme?” The words tumbled out of Aziraphale’s mouth before he could stop them, and Crowley made a face at him.
Aziraphale let out a breath he didn’t know he had been holding. They stood side by side, not speaking. After a moment, Crowley pulled his phone out of his pocket and started scrolling, sipping his coffee.
Oh no… Aziraphale thought, worry clutching at his stomach. This is worse than before!
When his name called, he tripped over his feet heading up to the counter. He turned around, laughing, and Crowley smiled weakly at him. They looked at each other until Crowley sighed.
“‘kay, well...see ya around, I guess.”
And then he turned around and left.
“So...that was an interesting class,” Crowley said.
“I suppose so,” Aziraphale ventured. “No more confusing than last week’s lecture, though.” Even after a few weeks, it was still difficult to be around Crowley. Aziraphale glanced sideways up at him. Crowley was tying up his hair into a loose bun, and Aziraphale’s heart skipped a beat.
“Surprised you’re struggling, though. I thought you were some genius,” Crowley said, his tone a little harsher than usual. Aziraphale flinched.
“Oh, well, it’s just a tough class is all…” he trailed off. “What parts are you struggling with? Maybe I could...help you study?” Aziraphale bit his lip and waited for Crowley to answer.
But Crowley didn’t respond, just kept walking, his long legs making it hard for Aziraphale to match his pace. They were passing under an overhead walkway and into the main square of the campus. They walked past the student center, a throng of students sunning themselves on the grass in what was left of the summer heat. Crowley stopped in front of the library, and Aziraphale almost crashed into him. Crowley had his arms crossed behind his head, stretching.
“Actually, I think I might just study here,” he said, glancing down at Aziraphale. “Thanks, though.” He turned and started walking to the library doors.
“O-oh! Sure!” Aziraphale called, waving his hand over his head. “I’ll...see you around!”
Crowley raised one hand to wave back, but didn’t turn around. Aziraphale’s hand dropped, clenching and unclenching at his side. He watched as Crowley pushed open the door, and walked inside.
Crowley was pacing up and down the hall outside his dorm room. Was he sweating? Yeah, he thought to himself, definitely sweating.
Today was important, and Crowley had been trying to psyche himself up all day. He already hated talking on the phone, but talking to him made it ten times worse.
What’s the worst that could happen? he thought.
He might not answer, he replied.
Then...I leave a message! he thought.
He might not listen to it, he replied.
Damnit! You got me there… he thought.
Exactly! So what’s the point? he replied.
“The point is, I want to wish him a happy birthday!” he said aloud. A passerby gave him a look. Crowley frowned at them. And before he lost his nerve, he hit a button on the screen of his phone and held it up to his ear.
It rang a few times before a “Hello?” sounded in his ear. Crowley signed with relief.
“Hello?” the voice said again. There were other voices in the background, and Crowley realized that he had made a mistake. Nearly dropping his phone, he hung up. He stared at his phone for a heartbeat before he started typing. Then he hit send without thinking about it.
’Hey Aziraphale, sorry to bother you, just wanted to wish you happy birthday. You’re 20 now. Good job.’
Crowley wheezed. Oh god, ‘good job’!? Oh my god, I’m a freak.
He banged his head against a window and wished his head would crack the glass. Somebody on the sidewalk outside looked up, confused. Crowley waved, weakly.
In his hand, his phone buzzed. He nearly tossed it to the floor. Shakily, he raised it up to his ear.
“Crowley! There you are!”
“Oh, yup, it’s me. Hi.” The palm of his hand smacked his forehead. Oh I am a fool!
“Sorry about before, there’s a bunch of people over right now, but I managed to sneak away!”
“Oh...great..!” Crowley said. He bit his lip. “Hey, I-”
“Thank you for the text by the way! Funniest thing I’ve heard all night,” Aziraphale said, and Crowley could practically hear him rolling his eyes.
“Uh, yup. Sure thing.”
“By the way, did you- Oh wait, hang on!”
Crowley listened as Aziraphale had a muted conversation with someone else in the room. His parents..?
“I’m afraid I have to go now, but thank you so much for the call! I’ll talk to you soon, dear!”
Before he could respond, Aziraphale had hung up. Crowley stared down at his phone. He smiled triumphantly and laughed.
A shiver ran up Crowley’s spine. He opened one eye to find a dark room around him. He closed his eyes again.
He remembered falling asleep - on purpose, this time - in Aziraphale’s bed. He remembered how good it felt to finally be back in that room after months of torture in his own room. He’d forgotten how much he loved the smell of lavender. And the feeling of Aziraphale’s warm body pressed against his side. Crowley almost wanted to cry with relief.
Aziraphale was curled up against Crowley, his arms around Crowley’s chest. One of Aziraphale’s legs was hooked over Crowley’s. Crowley held his breath, reveling in the lavender scent of Aziraphale’s room.
The room was dimly lit from the flickering lamp posts just outside the window. He looked around the room, squinting in the darkness. I think he’s changed it around… he thought. The bed was in the same place, but the desk was...somewhere new. Huh...can’t believe I didn’t notice it before…
Crowley wondered what time it was. He yawned and tried to look out the window behind the bed, but he didn’t want to move too much and wake Aziraphale up. I don’t want to know what he’d say if he caught us like this, not after what happened this summer…
He glanced back down at Aziraphale, and had to do a double-take.
“Good morning, Crowley...” Aziraphale whispered.
Crowley sat up quickly. He felt his cheeks growing hot. He tried to crawl to the foot of the bed and got his leg tangled up in the blankets. He shook them off and stood up, grabbing his bag.
“No, wait,” Aziraphale said, sitting up in the bed. His hand was stretched out towards Crowley. “Please, you don’t have to-”
But Crowley didn’t hear what he said. He had already shut the door, and was running down the stairs.
Chapter 8: Winter Intermission
“So what’s this surprise you keep telling me about,” Aziraphale asked, a silly smile crossing his face. Crowley shook his head.
“You’ll have to wait and see, Angel,” Crowley replied, his hand on Aziraphale’s back. The falling snow crunched beneath their feet and muffled their voices. Aziraphale had two oversized white mittens on his hands, and was using them to cover his eyes. Aziraphale stumbled, and Crowley caught his arm to keep his upright.
“I swear,” Aziraphale said, “it’ll take a miracle to keep from slipping on this ice! How much further do we have to go, dear?”
“Not much further,” Crowley smiled. Winter break hadn’t been especially exciting, and he and Aziraphale were grasping at straws for things to do. When Crowley had off-handedly mentioned something surprising, Aziraphale had taken the idea and ran. Soon, Crowley was left with no choice.
He picked Aziraphale up at his house on a Friday morning, and told him to close his eyes the moment he climbed in the Bentley. Aziraphale complied. The surprise was as important to him as it was to Crowley.
Crowley had driven around for almost twenty minutes, ‘accidentally’ making wrong turns, and enjoying the small talk with Aziraphale. Then at last he parked the Bentley in a near-abandoned parking lot. Aziraphale never peaked.
“Stay here, I’ll come ‘round,” Crowley said, climbing out. He opened Aziraphale’s door and grabbed his hands, helping him up. Aziraphale’s eyes were scrunched closed and it took more willpower than Crowley knew he had not to kiss him. He’d learned his lesson about that already.
Gently, he pulled Aziraphale forward, and shut the door behind him. He placed a hand on Aziraphale’s back, and guided him forward.
After a bit of walking, and a couple slips, they stopped. Crowley withdrew his hand from Aziraphale’s back.
“Are we there, dear?” Aziraphale asked.
“Almost,” Crowley said softly. He pulled his keychain from his coat pocket, and flipped the jingling keys around to the one Francis had copied for him. “Stay,” Crowley instructed, touching Aziraphale’s shoulder.
He stepped forward and unlocked the deadbolt. He pushed against the door, and it opened, sending a blast of warm air out. He moved behind Aziraphale and urged him into the greenhouse.
The door shut behind them, and Crowley reached to the side to flip a switch.
“‘Kay,” Crowley said softly, taking care not to get too close to Aziraphale’s ear, “open your eyes.”
Crowley watched as Aziraphale slowly peeked open one eye, and then another. The smile that was already on his face began to grow larger and larger. Crowley bit his lip nervously. The soft light outside was shining in through the glass windows. Drops of water beaded on the leaves of the plants nearby. The room smelled strongly of dirt and flowers. The longer Crowley stood there, the more nervous he felt. What if he doesn’t like it… Crowley thought, panicked, Oh shit, I should have cleaned up more..!
“W-well..?” He asked, watching Aziraphale’s face closely. Aziraphale was practically bouncing.
“What is this place?” He asked, his voice bouncing off the glass walls.
“‘s just the greenhouse. Where I work,” Crowley replied, taking Aziraphale’s hand to pull him into the middle of the room.
“You work here?” Aziraphale asked, smiling and looking around.
Crowley shrugged. He walked around a few tables and grabbed two dirty folding chairs, pulling them back to the center of the greenhouse. He sat down in one of them, and Aziraphale sat down in the other, pulling out a worn paperback book. Crowley sighed.
“I know it’s...not exactly…” he started, crossing his arms. “I just hope it’s...surprising enough for you.”
“It’s lovely,” Aziraphale said, smiling. He reached over and put his hand on Crowley’s shoulder. “Thank you for sharing this with me, dear.”
Crowley blushed. He ran a hand through his hair, and dug his phone out of his pocket. He pressed play, and as Aziraphale began to read, music filled the greenhouse. Crowley crossed his arms behind his head and closed his eyes, a small smile on his face.
Chapter 9: Spring Semester, Year Two
“Does this class even count towards your major?” Crowley asked. “What even is your major!?” Aziraphale waved his hand dismissively and made a shushing sound at Crowley as the professor approached the podium. Crowley hissed and sat back. He crossed his arms. This was the third class today he shared with Aziraphale, and something seemed off.
After the lecture ended, Crowley stood up and immediately placed himself in front of Aziraphale, preventing him from standing, too.
“You just took this class because I’m in it, didn’t you?” Crowley accused. Aziraphale raised his hands in mock surrender.
“You do know we registered for this class together, right?” Aziraphale asked, raising one eyebrow. “Remember? We were at my parents’ house, and you said, ‘Aye, Aziraphale, how bout we take this class, ought to be an easy A?’” Crowley’s face was blank, so Aziraphale went on, much quieter. “I believe there may have been...alcohol involved with the decision…?”
Crowley’s cheeks grew bright red. There had been other things on his mind that night.
“Oh. Right. Right,” he said, stepping aside. Aziraphale laughed, touching Crowley’s shoulder as he stood. He looked at Crowley and smiled.
“Let’s do lunch.”
Aziraphale felt good. It had been a long, but refreshing winter. Settling back into his dorm had felt right.
He pushed open the old, industrial window of his dorm room, and the sound of birdsong filled the space. Aziraphale took a deep breath, the promise of summer just barely present on the wind, and smiled.
He plugged his phone into something resembling a speaker and pressed play. A bright, cheesy pop song began playing. He turned the music up, louder than he normally would feel comfortable playing it, and danced around his room.
Crowley wouldn’t be over for a few hours, and he had some cleaning up to do. He scooted a pile of paperback books from the foot of his bed over to the bookshelf, and quickly shelved them.
His phone chimed from the desk, and he rushed over to read it.
“Damn, just the cake people,” he grumbled, grabbing his keys and heading downstairs. He’d ordered a birthday cake for Crowley, which was something he’d do for any of his friends, he told himself. Just...two guys, casually eating cake for one guy’s birthday, he thought, quickly writing the delivery man a check, and rushing back upstairs.
After setting the box down on his bed, next to Crowley’s neatly wrapped birthday present, Aziraphale stood in front of the mirror. He reached a hand up and smoothed the puff of blond hair on top of his head that he couldn't get to lay flat. Then he turned from side to side, examining himself.
What if he...doesn’t like this..? Aziraphale wondered. What if he...doesn’t like me..? He huffed and sat down at his desk with his head in his hands.
He had apparently nodded off, because he was awoken by the sound of his phone ringing. He stood up quickly, knocking his chair over, and answered it.
“‘m outside,” came Crowley’s lazy voice. “You gonna let me in?”
“Oh! Yes, of course, sorry!” He almost hung up the phone before he remembered. “Happy birthday!” he shouted into the phone before hanging up and running downstairs.
Crowley was waiting for him just outside the door to the building. He was wearing what looked like a new pair of pants, judging by how tight they were. Aziraphale shook his head, cleared his thoughts, and pushed open the door, holding it for Crowley.
They stood awkwardly in the doorway of Aziraphale’s room. Crowley pointed at the box and package on the bed.
“Oh no, please tell me that’s not-”
“It is,” Aziraphale cut him off. “Sorry, I just couldn't help myself.”
Crowley groaned, but didn’t say anything else. He dropped his bag on the floor and stood by the bed.
Aziraphale nodded, walking over to stand next to him. They both looked down at the box. Finally, Crowley kneeled, and lifted the lid.
’Happy 20th Birthday Crowley!’ was written in icing on the cake. Crowley looked up at Aziraphale, half smiling.
“Of course I remembered!” Aziraphale said, throwing his hand up. “Why wouldn’t I remember!?”
Crowley looked back at the cake.
“My...parents didn’t even remember…” he whispered, and Aziraphale didn’t think he was supposed to hear it. Instead of replying, Aziraphale kneeled down next to Crowley and smiled.
“You do the honors, my dear!” And Aziraphale handed him a knife.
The sun had gone down almost an hour ago, and they were sitting on the bed, backs to the window, watching Crowley page through the leather-bound journal. Aziraphale was quite proud of it, having ordered it months ago.
“Did you have a good birthday?” he asked, smiling at Crowley.
Crowley nodded, but didn’t say anything. He hadn’t said much after he unwrapped the journal, and Aziraphale was on the verge of getting worried.
“Did you...get everything you wanted?” he asked with a small laugh.
Crowley’s golden eyes were huge, and he was biting his lip in a way that made Aziraphale’s stomach drop. “There’s…” Crowley began, looking down, “well, there’s this one thing…”
Aziraphale leaned a bit closer to him. Their fingertips were almost touching where their hands were on the bed, and Aziraphale shivered.
“And...what’s that, dear..?” he said softly, his cheeks hot. He held his breath as Crowley moved a bit closer to him on the bed. Two of his fingers were touching Aziraphale’s hand. Aziraphale waited.
“I…” Crowley’s voice caught in his throat. Aziraphale had never seen Crowley’s face so red. Carefully, Aziraphale reached forward, putting his hand on Crowley’s knee. Crowley’s eyes snapped up. He looked...pained.
“What do you want, dear?” Aziraphale asked again, gently. Crowley looked at him for a long moment.
“This…” Crowley choked out, before leaning forward, and for the second time, kissing Aziraphale on the mouth.
Aziraphale’s heart had stopped completely, he was sure of it. His hand, still on Crowley’s knee, gripped it harder as he leaned into the kiss. Crowley’s arms slid around him, one landing on his shoulder, and the other on the small of his back. Aziraphale was dimly aware that his hand was now on Crowley’s hip, pulling him closer.
Without warning, Crowley pulled away. He stood up, shaking.
“Oh man, oh fuck, oh man, I’m…” His arms were crossed, and he turned away from Aziraphale. “I’m...I’m sorry, I-”
“Hey,” Aziraphale cut him off gently, “hey, it’s...it’s okay.”
“I-I should go,” Crowley stammered. He was kneeling down, tying his shoes. “T-thanks for the...the birthday stuff, I gotta…”
Aziraphale stood up, his hands clenching and unclenching into fists. “No,” he said, a bit harsher than he meant to sound. Crowley stopped fidgeting with his shoes, but stayed kneeling on the floor.
“Stay,” Aziraphale said, taking a step toward Crowley and putting a hand on his back. “Stay with me. Please?”
Crowley stayed silent, and stood up, his hand on the doorknob. Aziraphale took another step forward, and wrapped his arms around Crowley’s middle, pressing against his back.
“Please stay…” he whispered. And Crowley nodded.
Aziraphale opened his eyes to darkness and warmth. He blinked a few times, trying to stretch his legs out, only to find them pinned under Crowley’s.
Oh, that’s right... I asked him to stay…
Aziraphale yawned and looked at his watch. 5:37 am. He had a bit longer to sleep.
He closed his eyes, pressing against Crowley who, in his sleep, had clung to Aziraphale’s side. One of Crowley’s hands was gripping the sleeve of Aziraphale’s shirt, and the other was on his chest. His legs were tangled with Aziraphale’s, making it impossible to move.
He took a deep breath, smiling at Crowley’s earthy scent. Like sandalwood, he thought.
“I’m sorry…” he heard himself whisper into Crowley’s hair. “I’m sorry for everything…”
He sighed, and kissed the top of Crowley’s head. “I messed up everything between us, and I just...hope you can forgive me. You’re the-”
His voice caught in the back of his throat, and he had to take a moment before he continued.
“You’re the love of my life, and I ruined it. I’m sorry, Crowley, I’m…” He felt a hot tear streak down his cheek and fall off into the tangle of Crowley’s hair he had his face pressed against. He took a deep breath.
“I’m...so...madly in love with you…” he breathed. “And I’ve gone and messed it all up. Please, please stay this time. Please stay with me…”
He kissed the top of Crowley’s head again, trying not to cry.
Chapter 10: Summer Intermission
Crowley swallowed. There was a not-unpleasant taste in his mouth. The alcohol he had managed to pilfer from the cabinet in his parents’ house was doing its job of becoming easier to consume with every gulp. Crowley tried very hard to believe that the flush crossing his face was from the drink, and not because Aziraphale was sitting next to him, in the dark, with his shirt off.
They were sitting on the dock of a small, semi-private lake. They were a number of states over, and heartily enjoying their summer vacation. Aziraphale’s parents had wanted him to do some sort of internship in the city. But Aziraphale wiggled his way out of that, and instead indulged Crowley when the suggestion of a road trip came up in conversation. Crowley had only meant it half-heartedly. But a week after the semester ended, when Aziraphale approached Crowley with his checkbook in hand, asking how much he owed Crowley for the upcoming trip, Crowley was left with no choice. After the entire Queen discography played over the Bentley’s speakers, twice, they had arrived in a town with one very forgettable name, and one very memorable cabin.
“What a view…” Aziraphale had sighed, watching the sun lower over the lake. They had arrived at the perfect time for Aziraphale to enjoy the sunset. Crowley stood behind him, hands in pockets.
“It’s nice, I guess,” he said, looking away from Aziraphale’s big, dumb smile. Crowley ran a hand through his hair. “Help me unpack?”
Without waiting, Crowley quickly turned on his heels and headed for the backseat of the Bentley, grabbing his singular backpack and one of Aziraphale’s bags, weighed down with, undoubtedly, a number of “light” novels. Crowley flipped through a few keys on his keychain and found the one that would unlock the cabin where they’d be staying for a whole month. He reached the door, and slipped the key inside the lock. The door opened, and Crowley flicked the light switch just inside the door, revealing a very spacious, open-concept cabin. It was stocked with the latest appliances and a few pieces of designer furniture that Crowley wouldn’t look twice at, but ones that Aziraphale would rather much appreciate.
“Would you just look at this place!” Aziraphale practically cried. “The owners must really love this place!”
“How do you figure?”
“Oh, you can tell,” Aziraphale said, matter-of-factly. “Just look at how neat they’ve kept this old wallpaper.” And sure enough, Crowley noticed, Aziraphale was rubbing the tips of his fingers over the textured wall patterns. Crowley felt his face flush just the tiniest bit. Why does he have to act so… so… so cute!? Crowley thought, hissing under his breath.
“Here,” Crowley grunted, shoving the heavier bag at Aziraphale, “this is yours.”
Aziraphale smiled, and took the bag without a word. Crowley started down the hallway, flipping on light switches in each room he came to, uncovering three bedrooms and a surprisingly large bathroom.
“Which room d’ya want?” Crowley called over his shoulder. He was already hefting his backpack onto the bed of the corner room, the one with the two large windows overlooking the lake.
“Oh, doesn’t matter!” Aziraphale called back, his voice echoing around the cabin. Crowley shrugged off his jacket onto the bed. He reached into his bag, pulling out two sloshing, sticky bottles.
“Got the stuff!” he yelled to Aziraphale, trying not to be nervous.
Crowley was blushing, and his hand was very close to Aziraphale’s. Above them was a sky full of more stars than either of them had ever seen in the sky.
“Isn’t that view just...magical?” Aziraphale asked, his words slurring together just the slightest. Crowley nodded, slapping his leg. Aziraphale raised an eyebrow at him.
“Mosquito,” Crowley replied, glancing down at the lake. He kicked up a splash of water. “Looks like there’s a bunch of ‘em.”
Aziraphale stood up, unsteadily. “Let’s go ‘nside then,' he started, then stumbled backwards, dropping into the water. Crowley stared at the inky black ripples, frozen. Then Aziraphale’s head popped up, blond curls sticking to his forehead. Crowley stared at him, and he started laughing.
“O-oh my god, are you okay!?” Crowley shouted, scrambling to take Aziraphale’s hand to help him back onto the dock. But he was still laughing, and Crowley knew he was fine, if only a little too drunk.
He heaved Aziraphale up, and they laid on the dock together, Aziraphale still laughing, but beginning to shiver. “C’mon,” Crowley said, standing unsteadily himself, “inside we go.”
He reached down, and Aziraphale took his hand. Crowley shook his head and tried not to laugh. He’s dripping wet… Crowley thought, his eyes moving down Aziraphale’s body. Crowley blushed and looked away. “Yeah, yeah,” he grumbled playfully, “you’re hilarious.”
Carefully, he helped Aziraphale inside and into the bathroom, leaving a trail of droplets behind them. He grabbed one of Aziraphale’s fluffy, white towels he had already hung on the rack, and draped it over Aziraphale’s shoulders. He rubbed them over the towel, trying to warm him up.
“Are you okay?” Crowley asked as Aziraphale, sitting on the edge of the tub, smiled up at him. “D-did you get hurt..?” Aziraphale shook his head.
“Nope! But that water was very cold!” He laughed again. “Why was it so cold, Crowley? It’s summer! Shouldn’t it be warm?”
Jeez, is this his first time drinking or something!? Crowley thought, trying hard to be angry, or annoyed, but all the alcohol in his system was making it very hard to be anything other than aware of just how close he was to Aziraphale. And how little clothing they were wearing. Crowley pulled away, hands to his chest.
“Crowley?” Aziraphale asked, “Wha’s up?”
“’m just...very drunk,” he said, running his hands through his hair. Aziraphale laughed, then his arms windmilled around, and he fell backwards into the tub, his head smacking into the tiled wall with a thump! Crowley dove forward, To catch him!?, but his feet got tangled in the bath mat, and he fell on top of Aziraphale, who was howling with laughter.
Crowley pulled him forward, looking at the back of his head, but his skull was apparently thicker than he thought, and it looked fine.
“Holy shit, man,” Crowley said, standing up on his unsteady feet. He tried to take a step back, but the wrinkled bath mat tripped him up again, and he found himself back in the tub with Aziraphale. He was laughing so hard no sound came out, and Crowley snorted with laughter.
“L-let’s get the fuck out of here,” he laughed, trying to find Aziraphale’s hand to help him up.
Aziraphale nodded, standing up in the tub, and falling over into Crowley. They slammed into the door, still laughing.
“My head is killing me,” Aziraphale said. “I need another drink!”
They were sitting on the designer couch in front of an electric fireplace. Thank god it’s not a real fireplace, or we would’ve burned this place to the ground! Crowley thought. He was holding a glass of something disgusting but effecting. Aziraphale, now wrapped in a plush, white robe was sitting next to him, his head on Crowley’s shoulder.
Aziraphale sighed, breaking the silence.
“What izit?” Crowley slurred. He blinked, his head feeling completely disconnected from his body. “Aziraphale?”
Crowley looked down, and realized he was mistaken; Aziraphale wasn’t sighing, he was snoring.
“Oh jeez,” he mumbled, trying to pry his shoulder from beneath Aziraphale’s head. Aziraphale opened his eyes and squinted.
“What time is it..?” he groaned, rubbing his eyes. “Are we...are we late for class..?”
“No,” Crowley snorted. “No, we’re still at the cabin. Remember? The very nice cabin with the very nice wallpaper?”
“Mmm, that’s right,” Aziraphale said, looking around. He yawned and stretched his arms over his head. Crowley bit his lip and watched. “Oh,” he said, slightly surprised, “oh, I’m still very drunk!” He giggled.
“Yeah, me too,” Crowley said, attempting to stand. He wobbled on his feet, spilling the contents of his glass on the probably-designer carpet. “Whoops!” he laughed, carefully leaning forward to set his glass on the coffee table before falling back into the couch.
“I don’t even want to try standing now,” Aziraphale said. “Let’s just...sleep here. This is our home now.” He swung his legs onto the couch and laid his head on the armrest. Looking over at Crowley, he patted his chest.
Crowley looked back, confused.
“C’mere,” Aziraphale said, patting his chest again. “Come sleep with me.”
When Crowley didn’t move, he grumbled, “Oh, get over here. I’m not gonna bite you.”
Carefully, Crowley crawled up next to Aziraphale and laid down. But, given that it was a couch, and not a bed, he ended up half-laying on top of him. Aziraphale hummed, content.
“That’s better…” he sighed. Crowley looked up to see him smiling, eyes closed.
“This isn’t...awkward for you?” Crowley asked apprehensively. Aziraphale peeked open one eye and looked at him.
“No...why would it be awkward? We do this all the time.”
“Yeah, but...not on purpose…”
“I do it on purpose,” Aziraphael said plainly. Crowley looked at him, wide-eyed. “What, you think I don’t know?”
Crowley shook his head, his hand gripping at Aziraphale’s robe. “No, that’s not...I just…” He groaned, and continued. “I just thought you felt bad for me. And that you didn’t want to, I dunno, sleep on the floor?”
Aziraphale laughed. “What? No! Crowley, I like sleeping with you!” He blushed. “Well, not sleeping with you sleeping with you. Just...sleeping next to you. I wish I could take you home with me on breaks, it’s so hard trying to fall asleep alone now…”
“Okay,” he said, “I think I’m ready for bed now.”
They were lying on the bed in Aziraphale’s room. The room was dark, quiet. All Crowley could hear was the beating of his own heart threatening to pound its way out of his chest. Crowley blinked a few times, trying to get his eyes to adjust to the darkness. He could just barely make out Aziraphale’s face on a pillow a foot away...he thought.
The sound of Aziraphale clearing his throat cut through the pounding silence, making them both jump. Crowley waited for him to say something, but quickly realized that was in vain.
He shifted his leg under the blankets, his knee bumping into Aziraphale’s, and it felt like a bolt of electricity shot through him. He froze, their knees still touching. It felt like his skin was on fire.
Finally, he tried to speak.
“This,” he croaked, his voice cracking, “is fucking awful.” He heard Aziraphale laugh, softly.
“It’s...certainly less than ideal,” he said. Crowley thought he saw Aziraphale smile.
“Are you still drunk?” Crowley asked, then wished he hadn’t. Great, now I sound like a creep..!
“I think so?” Aziraphale replied. “I’m actually terrified to try standing up again.”
Crowley nodded. “Yeah,” he whispered, “me too.”
Nobody said anything after that, and Crowley held his breath, staring at Aziraphale’s face. There was a pricking on his ankle where a mosquito mound was forming, and he desperately wanted to scratch it, but he couldn't move. He was afraid that if he moved away, the moment would end.
It was Aziraphale who looked away first, his eyes closing, and a head reaching out towards Crowley from under the blanket.
“Are you going to stay that far away from me all night?” Aziraphale asked, his voice shaking just the tiniest bit.
Crowley made a sound that could have been a question.
“You didn’t have a problem laying with me on the couch,” Aziraphale said in a quiet voice. Crowley thought he was pouting.
“Yeah,” he rasped, “but that’s when we had, ya know…”
Crowley hoped Aziraphale could see him nodding. His body was still frozen.
“Just...come over here,” Aziraphale sighed at last, his hand pulling back to cover his face. “Please?
So Crowley moved closer, wriggling until his and Aziraphale’s knees were on top of each other and their noses were almost touching.
“Better?” Crowley whispered.
“Much,” Aziraphale breathed.
Crowley had his arm folded under his head. He could see Aziraphale clearly now. He was...making a face.
“Wha’s wrong?” Crowley asked softly.
“Well, I…” Aziraphale laughed nervously. “I don’t know what to do now that you’re over here.” Crowley watched him squeeze his eyes shut and half smile, half grimace.
“We could…” Crowley swallowed. “I mean, I don’t wanna...make it awkward…” he trailed off. Aziraphale giggled.
“More awkward than this?” he asked, opening his eyes. Crowley shrugged.
“Guess you’re right,” Crowley said, letting out a shaky breath. “This is basically torture.”
“Is it really so terrible?” Aziraphale breathed. Crowley closed his eyes.
“No,” he whispered. “I love it.”
Aziraphale moved minutely closer, and Crowley’s breath caught in his throat. He tried to think of any other way he could interpret this scenario - just...two bros...in bed together...without any...clothes… - so that he didn’t make the wrong move.
A warm hand on his shoulder pulled him out of his head and his eyes snapped open. Aziraphale was looking at him. Even in the darkness, his cheeks looked flushed.
”I love it, too…”
And Crowley was alive.
His hand was in Aziraphale’s hair, his leg sliding up further, and he reveled in the sound of Aziraphale’s gasp as they kissed. His hand slid from Aziraphale’s hair to the soft curve of his waist and he held on for dear life.
Aziraphale ran a hand down Crowley’s chest to his stomach, and he groaned, his hips involuntarily jerking forward.
Oh no, oh god, of fuck, he thought, the tips of Aziraphale’s fingers moving lower. Oh fuck, oh hell, oh god, oh no, I can’t-
Warm fingers closed around him and he moaned, nails digging into Aziraphale’s skin.
“Is this...okay..?” Aziraphale breathed between kisses. Crowley nodded, eagerly, his arm awkwardly unfolding from under his head.
He reached out, finding the inside of Aziraphale’s soft thigh. Clumsily, he moved higher until he heard Aziraphale gasp.
“I-is this okay..?” Crowley asked, his hand moving shakily.
Aziraphale moaned softly, his hips pushing into Crowley’s hand. Crowley let out a ragged breath, planting a sloppy kiss on the corner of Aziraphale’s mouth.
“K-kiss me again,” Aziraphale breathed. And Crowley did, desperately.
His free hand slid up Aziraphale’s side, over his shoulder, and behind his head. He pulled Aziraphale closer and felt Aziraphale’s lips part slightly beneath the kiss. He sighed, and Crowley drank it in.
Aziraphale was stroking him faster now, and the way his wrist turned made Crowley’s hips buck. He moaned, biting Aziraphale’s lower lip.
“C-Crowley, I-” Aziraphale whimpered. “I-I’m-”
He pressed his forehead against Crowley’s, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Yeah, I...I’m…’kay...” he panted, and he gave in, closing his eyes.
Aziraphale made a soft, delicate sound as he came, and Crowley, grabbing a fistfull of Aziraphale’s hair, came, too. He clung to Aziraphale, pressing against him.
They were still then, breaths coming in quick gulps. Crowley pulled his hand back and against his chest. Aziraphale’s was pressed against Crowley’s stomach.
“This is...I...well then…” Aziraphale panted. Crowley’s heart was still pounding in his chest, showing no sign of stopping anytime soon.
“I’ll, ah, get a towel,” he said, gently pulling away and swinging his feet over the side of the bed. His legs wobbled and he almost fell back onto the bed, but he caught himself and took a cautious step forward.
He padded down the hall to the bathroom. Flipping on the light, he looked at himself in the mirror for a few heartbeats. Then he grabbed the still-damp towel from the rack and slowly ran it down over his stomach and sighed. He folded it over, and carried it back to the bedroom.
A sliver of light was shining into the room, illuminating Aziraphale on the bed. He was lying on his back with an arm over his face. Crowley climbed back into the bed, pulling back the covers.
Still covering his face, Aziraphale reached out with his other hand.
“Oh, Crowley, thanks...I can-”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Crowley said, cutting him off. “I can do it.”
Aziraphale nodded under his arm, and Crowley moved closer.
Silently, with the corner of the towel, he carefully traced the line running down Aziraphale’s stomach. When he was finished, he tossed the towel off the foot of the bed. He sat back, the cool headboard against his back making him flinch. After a moment, he settled back.
“I…” Aziraphale started, then stopped. He drew in a shaky breath and tried again. “I’m sorry,” he said. Crowley looked down at him. Underneath his arm, Aziraphale was grimacing.
“Oh...uhm...why?” Crowley asked, afraid of hearing the answer. Aziraphale sighed.
“I’m sorry because...I feel like I may have...put you in a compromising position…”
“Well, we just…did things, and now...maybe you want to...leave..?” Aziraphale pulled his arm away from his face and winced.
Crowley grimaced at him. “Do you...want me to leave..?” he asked.
“No!” Aziraphale cried, grabbing Crowley’s arm. His face was pained.
“No…” he repeated, softer this time. “No, please, I...I want you to stay.”
Crowley swallowed. Then he slowly nodded.
“‘Kay,” he whispered, sliding down and laying his head on a pillow. He stared up at the ceiling.
Aziraphale rolled over to face Crowley, his hand still gripping his arm like he was about to fly away.
“Please stay,” he whispered.
Crowley nodded again.
Chapter 11: Fall Semester, Year Three
Aziraphale’s third year of college was going well so far, he thought. He was talking. Wait, what was he talking about?
“And that’s when I realized I had no idea what she was talking about!” Aziraphale heard himself say. There were people around him, laughing at the joke he had apparently just made. At least, he thought they were laughing. The music and chatter in the bar was so loud he could barely hear them.
Now...who are these people again? Aziraphale thought, smiling nervously. There was a tall glass full of something foul in front of him. Ah, that’s right! These are some people I know...let’s see, there’s Gabriel, he looked at the taller man, with cropped brown hair. And...there’s Michael, he looked at the shorter man with the lighter, curlier hair. They were at my birthday a few years ago, I think...my parents know their parents...Oh! It’s my birthday!
A buzzing feeling from his pocket distracted him from the two men as they started in on their own conversation. Aziraphale clumsily pried his phone out of his pocket and squinted at the screen. His heart started racing as he read Crowley’s name. i’m here, where are u? the message read.
Aziraphale tried to get Gabriel and Michael to look at him so he could gesture that he was going outside, but they didn’t pay him any attention. Unsteadily, he slid off the barstool and stood, wobbling slightly.
He squeezed past a number of people and out the door, holding his phone to his ear.
“Ja?” came Crowley’s voice. Aziraphale almost purred.
“H-hey, I’m at this, ah, bar. Hang on, let me see…” Aziraphale lowered the phone and turned around, looking up at the building. Oh my… he thought with a giggle, I can’t read! He returned the phone to his ear to tell Crowley his hilarious discovery, but Crowley was already saying something.
“...can’t just go in, ‘m only 20, I thought you would have...Oh, nevermind. Are you done there?” Crowley asked. Aziraphale’s mind tried and failed to keep up.
“Uhm...what?” he asked, and heard Crowley sigh on the other side.
“Just...send me a picture of the building. I’ll...I’ll find it.” And he hung up.
Aziraphale stared at the phone for a moment. Did I say something wrong..?
A hand on his shoulder startled him, and he looked up, smiling, expecting to see Crowley. But his face fell when he registered Gabriel grinning down at him.
“Hey, there you are,” Gabriel said. The hand on his shoulder tightened, and Aziraphale frowned. He jerked his shoulder away.
“I’m just waiting for someone,” Aziraphale mumbled, looking back down at his phone.
“Is it that ’girlfriend’ of yours again?” Gabriel asked in a tone that made Aziraphale’s cheeks grow hot.
“Wha- no!” Aziraphale grumbled. “He’s just a-”
“Oh, he!?” Gabriel exclaimed, looking at Michael. They were both laughing now, and Aziraphale felt himself getting uncharacteristically pissed off.
He opened his mouth to say something to the effect of, ‘Fuck off, you prick,’ when a voice interrupted him.
Aziraphale turned to see Crowley jogging up to them, his hand in the air.
“Crowley! You made it!” Aziraphale cried. He clapped his hand together. “Oh, I can’t believe you found me!”
Crowley stopped in front of them, panting.
“This must be your little girlfriend,” Gabriel sneered. Crowley looked up at him, making a face Aziraphale couldn't read.
“Yeah,” Crowley grunted. “Anyway, I, uhm, hi. Crowley,” he said, sticking out his hand to Gabriel, who scoffed, and didn’t take it.
Aziraphale was staring at Crowley. There was something...different about him.
“Your eyes!” he exclaimed. “You’re wearing makeup!”
Crowley blushed, and Gabriel howled with laughter.
“Oh, Zira! You didn’t tell us she was so pretty!” he shouted, and Michael laughed, too. Crowley grimaced, and looked at Aziraphale desperately.
Aziraphale looked back, helplessly. This was not going how he thought it would. His hands were clenching and unclenching against his sides.
Gabriel was saying something else, but Aziraphale didn’t hear him. He watched Crowley turn and walk away.
“Wait, Crowley, don’t-”
But Gabriel cut him off. “Oh, let him go. What are you even doing, hanging out with that f-”
Aziraphale swung. He didn’t even realize he had swung until his clenched fist met with Gabriels mouth and pain shot up his wrist. Gabriel stumbled back, and a few passersby laughed. He looked more shocked than angry.
“Fuck. You.” Aziraphale spat. “You’re a fucking bastard. Go to hell.”
Then he turned, and raced after Crowley.
Crowley was sitting on a bench a few blocks from the bar. He was in a small park built to encourage families to visit the college town during the day, but it was rarely used. He kicked around pieces of gravel.
He considered bumming a cigarette from someone walking by, but quickly gave up when he realized he’d actually have to talk to them to get it. He sighed, covering his face with his hand.
“Oh Crowley, you’re such an idiot…” he mumbled into his hands. “Oh, you great big fucking idiot…”
He lowered his hands from his face and looked around.
He stood, spinning around. Oh, shit, he thought. What now..!?
Aziraphale stopped in front of Crowley who immediately sat back down on the bench, his arms crossed in front of him. He turned away.
Aziraphale took a few deep breaths before sitting down next to him.
“Crowley, I...I’m sorry!”
Crowley stayed put, and Aziraphale continued. “I’m sorry! I don’t know what’s wrong with him, he’s such a-”
Crowley turned and faced Aziraphale then, glaring.
“Is that how you talk about me when I’m not around? Is that what you think of me!?”
“Crowley! No!” Aziraphale was gesturing wildly with his hands. “God, no!”
Crowley watched him, silently.
“No! Aziraphale repeated. It looked like he was on the verge of tears. “Fucking hell, I’m sorry!!”
Crowley had never seen him so angry. He was...really pissed. He watched his hands fly around, and two tears streamed down Aziraphale’s cheeks. He narrowed his eyes.
“Wha-” Crowley grabbed Aziraphale’s wrist, bringing his hand into the light. “What happened!?”
“I...may have punched Gabriel...in the face,” Aziraphale said, a small smile of triumph playing on his face. Crowley stared at him.
“W-why?” he asked, eyes wide.
“He was being a fucking ass, that’s why.”
“Yeah, but I get the feelin’ he’s always an ass. Why punch him now?”
Aziraphale sighed and bit his lip. “He…” Aziraphale looked pained. “He is an ass, always has been. And I always put up with it when he was an ass to me. But tonight he…” He gestured with his hands, trying to find the right words. “Tonight he was an ass to you and I just...I couldn't take it. I didn’t even realize I had hit him until it was happening!” he said with a small laugh.
Crowley stared at him. He swallowed the lump that had appeared in his throat and said, voice croaking, “Well, thanks.” He looked at Aziraphale.
Aziraphale looked back. The faint light illuminated his pale blond hair from behind, making him look like an angel. He reached forward, his hand on Aziraphale’s cheek.
“Seriously, thank you,” he whispered.
He moved to bring his hand back, but Aziraphale grabbed it before he could pull away. Aziraphale pulled it to his mouth, kissing the palm of Crowley’s hand. Crowley shivered. Aziraphale turned it over, and kissed the back of his hand, then looked up.
Before Crowley had time to react, Aziraphale had rushed forward, kissing him on the lips. Aziraphale’s hands were grabbing the front of Crowley’s jacket, pulling him closer.
“Aziraphale, wait-” Crowley said, pulling back. “Wait, you’re, you don’t, I’m-”
“Please…” Aziraphale whispered, his forehead pressed against Crowley’s. Two fat tears had rolled down his cheek. “Please. Please kiss me back. Please, tell me I haven’t messed this up again.”
And Crowley melted. He put one hand on Aziraphale’s waist and the other on the back of his head and kissed him how he had always wanted to. He wasn’t held back by fear this time. He kissed him urgently, hungrily, and felt Aziraphale’s hands tangle themselves in his hair.
Aziraphale’s soft gasp made Crowley’s heart beat in an ugly pattern, but he ignored it. The voice in his head screamed in alarm, No! Remember what happened last time, you idiot! But a smaller, shyer, hidden voice whispered fiercely, He wants this just as much as you do..!
They broke apart, all nervous smiles and giggles, and Aziraphale pulled Crowley to him, holding him in his arms. He laid his cheek on Crowley’s shoulder.
“Thank you,” Aziraphale whispered. Crowley trailed kisses up his neck and to his ear.
”Happy birthday, Angel.”
Chapter 12: Winter Intermission
The snow was falling in great, big heaps. Crowley’s heavy boots made loud, crunching noises as he carried the last box out of his parents’ house and loaded it into the moving truck. He took a deep breath and held it in for a long moment. This was a good day.
“Tea?” came a question from the passenger side window of the truck. Aziraphale, wrapped in a fluffy white scarf, was hanging out the open window, a tartan thermos steaming in the cold winter air. “You look like you’re freezing out there!”
Crowley’s face warmed, and he hadn’t even had any tea that day.
“Hang on,” he called, and reached up on tiptoes to pull the hatch of the moving truck shut. He reached numbly into his dark jacket pocket and pulled out the keys to the truck. He quickly locked the hatch and jogged around to the front of the truck, climbing in and rubbing his hands.
Aziraphale passed a comically small plastic cup full of something herbal into Crowley’s hands. He sipped it cautiously, making a face. It was actually quite sweet. He took another, bigger sip.
“I put a little sugar in it,” Aziraphale said, smiling. He reached over and took the cup from Crowley, screwing it back onto the top of the thermos. “I know you aren’t a big fan of the more...traditional teas.”
Crowley smiled at him, and started the truck.
The drive to school wouldn’t be very long, and the building was old, but it was a place they could call home.
Aziraphale had offered to hire professional movers, but Crowley had refused. “How hard could it be?” he had asked, thinking of his dorm room. But he had drastically underestimated the amount of large, heavy furniture Aziraphale would want to bring to their new apartment.
They struggled up the stairs, each clutching the flimsy end of a mattress.
“Why,” Crowley grunted as he shoved his end of the mattress through the front door of the building, “do you need a king size mattress?”
“Because,” Aziraphale panted, backing up the half-flight of stairs to their apartment door, “I have class.”
“No, it’s because you have money,” Crowley groaned under his breath, heaving up the mattress. At the top of the stairs, he set his end on the floor and pushed it into their apartment with his foot. It flopped on the floor and Aziraphale fell on top of it.
“That where it’s staying?” Crowley smirked. Aziraphale stuck his tongue out at him.
“No,” Aziraphale whined, “I just need a break!”
Crowley shook his head and laid down next to Aziraphale. His palms were burning and his knees and shoulders ached.
“‘S actually pretty comfy,” Crowley said, closing his eyes.
“Isn’t it?” Aziraphale agreed, patting the top of Crowley’s head. “Maybe we’ll get you one, too.”
Crowley smiled and yawned.
The crack! of a can being opened made Crowley look up. Aziraphale was standing over him, holding out a can of cheap beer.
“I got these last week after we moved in, and I’m afraid I forgot about them when I brought them home, so they’re a bit...warm,” Aziraphale winced.
Crowley shrugged and took one, taking a long sip. Aziraphale flopped down on the couch next to him.
“So how was your day?” he asked, laying his head back and looking at Crowley. Crowley shrugged again.
“Not bad. Went to class. Came home. The usual,” Crowley said, taking another drink and grimacing. The beer was bad, even by his standards. Aziraphale set his can of beer down on the coffee table, then laid down on the couch, his feet in Crowley’s lap. Aziraphale looked over at him, his face flushed.
“Jeez, how many have you had?” Crowley asked, a smile turning up one corner of his mouth. Aziraphale smiled back and held up his hand, counting on his fingers. He stopped and frowned.
“How many come in a twelve pack?”
Crowley laughed, and took another drink from the foul beer. Looks like I have some catching up to do, he thought.
‘Catching up’ apparently meant drinking four more beers very quickly which, on an empty stomach, made him feel very dizzy. He was busy watching the room spin around him when he noticed that Aziraphale had spun around. His head was now in Crowley’s lap, and he was playing with the drawstrings of Crowley’s oversized hoodie.
“You...look like a cat,” he slurred. Aziraphale grinned up at him.
“Meow!” he laughed. “Le’s get a cat! Oh, wouldn’t that be fun!”
Crowley shook his head.
“No, no...we should get a snake.”
Aziraphale made a face and shook his head. “Too slimy,” he said, reaching up to boop Crowley’s nose.
“Wha? Snakes aren’t slimy! They’re smooth.”
“But I don’t like them!” Aziraphale whined.
“Well, you like me, and I’m a snake,” Crowley said, hissing.
“Oh, I really like you,” Aziraphale said, closing his eyes and smiling.
Crowley bit his lip. “Yeah..?” he asked, shyly.
“Oh, yes,” Aziraphale hummed.
Crowley looked down at Aziraphale. His head felt like it was full of cinder blocks, and he leaned over, trying to relieve the weight. He blinked, and found himself nose-to-nose with Aziraphale who was staring up at him with wide blue eyes.
“Hi,” Aziraphale giggled.
“Hi,” Crowley smiled. “I’m very drunk.”
“Me too,” Aziraphale replied, closing his eyes and shifting his head so that his lips could gently press against Crowley’s.
They had kissed before, but this felt...different. It felt...natural. Like something they had been doing for a lifetime, and would continue to do in the next. There was no panic, no sense of urgency, just a cozy living room filled with furniture they had bought, together, at the thrift store. Just Crowley, and his best friend who he had loved for years.
Aziraphale dropped his head back into Crowley’s lap, giggling. “That was nice,” he murmured, and Crowley smiled.
“Yes,” he said softly, “it was. You should do that again.”
“What, this?” Aziraphale asked, reaching his hand up behind Crowley’s head and pulling him down to kiss him again.
“Mmm. Yes. More, please,” Crowley hummed, and Aziraphale sat up slightly, kissing him harder.
Crowley’s hands were moving, one landing on Aziraphale’s thigh, and the other on his shoulder, keeping him still so he could kiss him again. Aziraphale still had one hand in Crowley’s hair, and he tugged on it, making Crowley gasp.
“That’s fun,” he heard Aziraphale say, and then he felt another tug and he moaned, his grip on Aziraphale’s thigh tightening.
“That’s...not nice,” Crowley breathed, pulling away. Aziraphale was grinning up at him.
“Hey, while we’re here in this...compromising position…” Crowley asked, his fingers tracing invisible patterns on Aziraphale’s thigh, “can I ask you something?”
“Hmm? Sure, what is it, dear?”
“Why did you agree to live with me?” Crowley asked, biting his lip.
Aziraphale sat up and faced Crowley, his eyebrows drawn together.
“Well, why did you ask me to move in with you?” he asked. Crowley barked out a laugh.
“I didn’t ask you to move in with me, I asked if you wanted to rent an apartment with me!”
“Okay, well I have a question of my own, then,” Azriaphale said, crossing his arms. “Why do we always find ourselves in these positions whenever there’s alcohol around, hm?”
“Oh, c’mon, don’t be like that-”
“It’s a valid question!” he said, his voice high. Crowley ran a hand through his hair.
“I-I don’t know, I mean…” he gestured vaguely. “I…
Oh, I’m a coward, he thought. That’s why I can’t do anything. Oh god, this was a mistake...
“Because it’s actually quite nice and I would like to be able to do this without waking up hungover the next morning!”
Crowley gestured some more.
“And if you don’t,” Aziraphale continued, “then I would like to know about it now so I can keep my options open!”
“No!” Crowley gasped. “No, don’t...don’t do that. It’s not...like that!”
“Then what is it like!?”
“It’s...I...I can’t…It’s...because I’m scared, okay!? I kiss you once. You kick me out. I kiss you again, I kick me out. You kiss me, but then we never talk about it, and now I’m just scared!”
Crowley’s chest was heaving, and his hands were still in the air.
“Okay…” Aziraphale said slowly. “I’m scared, too. I’ve never...done this before. So all of this is kind of, well, terrifying.”
Crowley looked at him, his hands dropping to his lap. “Never?” he asked.
“Nope!” Aziraphale shook his head.
“Not even in high school?”
“Oh, please,” Aziraphale made a face. “You’ve known me how long now?”
“Yeah, but I jus’ figured...at some point, maybe…” Crowley trailed off.
“Nope,” Aziraphale repeated, “you’re my first.”
Crowley leaned back and huffed.
“Okay,” he sighed. “Okay, fine. Let’s…” He gestured again. “Let’s do it.”
“Uhm...do what exactly..?”
“Y’know,” Crowley gestured in the space between them. “This.”
Aziraphale thought for a moment.
“Does that mean I could call you my boyfriend?” he asked, leaning close.
“I...wouldn’t be opposed to it,” Crowley said.
“And does that mean you’ll kiss me when you’re sober?” Aziraphale asked. His blue eyes were wide, staring Crowley down.
“Will you kick me out again if I do?” Crowley asked before he could stop himself. His hand slapped over his mouth. “No. Wait. Don’t. I’m. I’m sorry, I didn’t…”
“No,” Aziraphale groaned, leaning forward the rest of the way and pulling Crowley into a hug. He buried his face in Crowley’s neck and sighed. “No, you’re right. I’m sorry about that.” He kissed the skin of Crowley’s shoulder where his too-big shirt had fallen away. “I’m sorry about everything.”
Crowley slid an arm under one of Aziraphale’s and grabbed the fabric of his shirt.
“Me too,” he whispered. “I-I shouldn’t have…”
Aziraphale pulled away, but kept his hands on Crowley’s sides. He slid them up over Crowley’s chest and rested then on his shoulders.
“Don’t,” Aziraphale said, his voice soft. “Let’s not be sorry anymore, okay?”
Crowley nodded, and Aziraphale leaned forward, kissing him.
Chapter 13: Spring Semester, Year Three
Crowley’s third year of college was going well so far, he thought. He was talking. Wait, what was he talking about?
“And that’s why you don’t sign up to live with strangers!” Crowley heard himself say. Aziraphale, his face totally flushed, was laughing. They each had a pint of a nasty beer in their hands. Crowley smiled, watching Aziraphale bring the back of his other hand up to his mouth. What are we doing here, again? he thought to himself. Then he remembered.
That’s right...it’s my birthday! Crowley grinned as he remembered. And Aziraphale took me out to celebrate! He took a drink of his beer, swallowing a large mouthful. Aziraphale was watching him, he realized. He leaned forward, quickly kissing Aziraphale’s cheek, which made him giggle wildly. Crowley’s smile widened, and he couldn't tell if the heat on his face was because he had spent the whole day drinking, or if it was from Aziraphale’s closeness. He was practically sitting in Crowley’s lap as they attempted to share a barstool in the overcrowded bar.
There were people swarming around them. Girls with low cut tops were leaning over, trying to catch the attention of the bartender, and while Crowley normally would have been staring at them, he couldn't take his eyes off Aziraphale’s face. He desperately wanted to see Aziraphale in a low cut top.
Aziraphale leaned close then, his lips trailing up Crowley’s jawline to his ear, and shouted, “D’you wanna dance with me?” Crowley licked his lips and nodded, quickly finishing his beer.
Crowley and Aziraphale stumbled through the door of their apartment, after tipping their cab driver 120% for having to watch their sloppy kissing the whole drive. Crowley’s hands were under Aziraphale’s untucked shirt, sliding up his soft stomach. Aziraphale was unsuccessfully trying to kick off his shoes, almost tipping them both over.
They were still kissing; the drinking and the dancing and the cab ride had done something to Crowley. He backed Aziraphale from the doorway of their apartment against the wall of the kitchen, his hands braced on either side of Aziraphale’s head. He leaned forward, gently kissing and biting Aziraphale’s neck.
“C-Crowley…” Aziraphale mumbled, “Should we move this to the, ah!” Crowley had bit him harder, leaving a tiny mark on his neck. Aziraphale was gripping the back of Crowley’s shirt.
“Bedroom?” Crowley grunted, his hands sliding down Aziraphale’s sides. Aziraphale nodded quickly, grabbing Crowley’s hands and pulling him toward his room.
He sat on the bed, and Crowley stood in front of him, pulling his shirt off over his head. Aziraphale’s hands were at the front of Crowley’s unbuttoned pants, tugging down the zipper. They dropped to the floor, and Crowley stepped out of them, putting a knee up on the bed. He leaned over Aziraphale, unbuttoning his shirt and kissing his chest.
Aziraphale shrugged out of his shirt, leaning up to kiss Crowley on the mouth. The tip of his tongue flashed across Crowley’s lower lip and he groaned, pushing Aziraphale back down on the bed. He kissed him again, harder, and drunkenly tried to figure out how Aziraphale’s belt worked. He pulled away, looking down.
“It’s...I...how do you..?” he said. Aziraphale looked down.
“You just...it...hang on…”
Crowley sat up, watching Aziraphale do something complicated with his hands, and then his pants were on the floor next to Crowley’s, and he was laying back on the bed again.
Crowley ran a hand up the outside of Aziraphale’s thigh and kissed him again. Aziraphale’s hands were running down Crowley’s back, his nails tracing lines into the skin.
“Oh fuck… Crowley moaned, his hips grinding against Aziraphale. He kissed him again, his fingers tangling in Aziraphale’s hair and tugging. He heard Aziraphale gasp, and the nails in his back dug in harder.
Crowley pulled his hair again before letting go, kissing down Aziraphale’s chest and stomach until he was kneeling on the floor between Aziraphale’s legs. Crowley looked up to see Aziraphale’s hands over his face. He peeked out between his fingers.
“Crowley, what’re you do- ah!”
Crowley had silenced him, hands gripping Aziraphale’s waist, by running the tip of his tongue up the length of him. He snaked a hand between Aziraphale’s legs, a finger pressing against his entrance.
“Crowley, wait, it’s your birthday, shouldn’t I be the one on the fl- oh!” Aziraphale’s legs quivered as Crowley licked him again, this time leaning forward to take Aziraphale’s full length into his mouth, his finger slipping inside. Aziraphale moaned, and his hips bucked, pushing deeper into Crowley’s mouth.
His hips rolled a few more times before he came to his senses.
“W-wait, Crowley, wait. It’s...it’s your birthday.”
Crowley groaned, pulling back and out. He growled, his hands gripping Aziraphale’s thighs.
“Get up here,” Aziraphale said, smiling mischievously.
Crowley stood and climbed onto the bed. Aziraphale pulled Crowley on top of him, pushing up with his hips. Crowley groaned against Aziraphale’s mouth as his fingers, slick with something Crowley hadn’t seen him grab from the nightstand, reached between Crowley’s legs, teasing him.
One of Aziraphale’s legs bent, his foot flat on the bed, and he pulled Crowley’s ears to his mouth.
“I-I’m ready, lets-”
“A-are you sure..?” Crowley asked hurriedly. Aziraphale was doing something complicated with his hands and it was hard for Crowley to stay focused. “I mean, you’re, like, really drunk.”
“Well so are you!” Aziraphale snapped, pulling his hands from Crowley and putting them on his hips instead, urging them forward. “Of course I’m sure, I’ve only been dreaming about this day for years, now hurry up and do me like you mean it! It’s your birthday!” he whined.
Crowley felt a soft moan escape from the back of his throat and he let himself be pulled forward. He bit his lip, and looked at Aziraphale’s face.
“You’re sure?” he asked again.
“Just shush up and fuck me already!”
Crowley took a deep breath, pressing against his entrance. Slowly, he eased his hips forward. Aziraphale tensed beneath him.
“If you’re no-”
Aziraphale shook his head. “No, it’s- I’m fine,” he said, looking up at Crowley. “Please, I…” He reached behind Crowley’s head and pulled him down so their foreheads were pressed together. His eyes were closed tight.
“Please, Crowley...I need it…”
Crowley kissed him, and pushed into him. Aziraphale moaned against his mouth, and it took all of his willpower to stay still. Aziraphale was trembling, and carefully, Crowley eased himself out.
“Jus’ hang on,” Crowley whispered. He reached between them, his fingers trailing down Aziraphale’s stomach until they found him, and he pushed up into Crowley’s hand.
Hitching one of Aziraphale’s legs over his hip, Crowley pushed forward again, inching back inside. This time, Aziraphale didn’t tense, and Crowley rolled his hips, pushing deeper.
Aziraphale was tight. Crowley groaned, thrusting his hips again. He had done this before once or twice, and the motions of it were the same. But the sensation of it, oh god the way it felt, was too much.
“This is...I can’t...It’s…” he panted, his hand stroking Aziraphale with each push of his hips. “It’s...too good...I can’t...This can’t be real…” He bent forward, turning his wrist, and heard Aziraphale moan in his ear.
He was moving faster now, kissing Aziraphale’s neck, his shoulder, his jaw, his ear. When he heard his own name, Aziraphale moaning it as he gripped at the bedsheets, Crowley’s teeth pressed into his neck.
“Oh yes,” Aziraphale panted, “Oh, oh please…”
And Crowley bit him, pinching the soft skin between his teeth. He sucked at it, and when he pulled away, it had already begun to bruise.
“Oh god, again,” Aziraphale moaned. One of his hands had moved behind Crowley, raking his nails down his back. “More, please…”
Crowley nipped the skin of his neck again, and Aziraphale’s nails dug into his back.
“That,” he growled, his mouth still pressed against Aziraphale’s neck, “yes. More.”
When Crowley twisted his wrist, his thumb running up the length of him, Aziraphale nails dug deeper.
“Oh more, please, more!”
And there was another hand on his back. And there were more tiny bruises on Aziraphale’s neck. And there were legs wrapping around Crowley’s back. And his hand was slick, stroking hard. And there was a hand in his hair, pulling at the nape of his neck. He heard his name called over and over and then there were no words, and he couldn't tell whose voice was whose.
“Yeah, me too, d’you want me to-”
“No, please stay-”
Stars exploded in the corners of his eyes as he came. He gasped into the crook of Aziraphale’s neck. His body tensed, and he clung to Aziraphale who was yelling something to the effect of, ”Oh god, oh yes, oh fuck!”
Crowley kissed him, his nails digging red lines into Crowley’s back. He groaned against Aziraphale’s mouth, trying to push himself up, but his arms wouldn’t take his weight. He collapsed, panting, onto Aziraphale’s heaving chest.
Aziraphale ran a finger up his spine and Crowley shivered. They didn’t speak, just waited, hearts pounding, lungs gasping.
“That,” Aziraphale croaked, voice harsh from use, “that, my dear…” He trailed off, still breathing hard.
Crowley eased himself back, and Aziraphale winced.
“I know,” Crowley whispered, quickly leaning in to kiss him, “sorry.”
Another shiver ran through his body as he carefully pulled himself out, and dropped on the bed next to Aziraphale. He took a deep breath, trying to still his heart.
Aziraphale flopped a hand onto Crowley’s chest.
“Happy fucking birthday,” he grinned.
Chapter 14: Summer Intermission
Crowley looked at Aziraphale. Aziraphale looked back. Crowley looked away. Aziraphale kept looking at him.
“Well...I guess this is happening then, huh?” Crowley asked. He looked at Aziraphale, who was still borderline staring at him, then quickly looked away.
They were sitting side by side on the couch in their apartment. Crowley had his legs stretched out, his feet on the coffee table, while Aziraphale’s legs were curled neatly under him. They each had a laptop in front of them. Crowley looked at the screen. Urgh, Facebook…
“You…” Aziraphale started, “you don’t have to do this, you know?” His voice was calm, but Crowley could tell the waiting was stressing Aziraphale out more than what they were about to do. Crowley shook his head.
“No, no, I want to. This is good. A good step for us,” he said. He looked back down at his laptop and clicked something. “There,” he smiled as he spoke, “I did it. Your turn.”
Azirphale looked surprised, a bing! coming from his lap. “Yep, there it is…” he said, tapping a few buttons. “O-okay. I did it.”
They looked at each other, the silence stretching longer and longer.
“So...what now?” Crowley finally said. Aziraphale shrugged. They both looked down at their laptops.
Something bing!ed again, making them both jump.
“That would...be my parents…” Aziraphale said weakly. He tapped out a quick reply. “It would appear they are...less than pleased…” He frowned. Crowley reached over, putting a hand on Aziraphale’s shoulder.
“’s fine. We kinda figured that’s how they’d react, huh?”
“Yes, it is…” Aziraphale was still frowning at the screen.
Crowley slid his arm around Aziraphale, pulling him closer. Aziraphale leaned against him, sighing.
They sat like that for a moment, until Aziraphale’s phone started vibrating across the coffee table, playing an annoyingly repetitive song. Crowley stopped it from jumping off the end of the table with his foot. He spun it around and read the name.
“Is it them..?” Aziraphale asked, his face still buried in Crowley’s neck.
“‘fraid it is,” he replied. “Want me to get it?”
Aziraphale groaned, and shook his head. He set his laptop on the coffee table and picked up the phone. Before he could say anything, Crowley heard shouting from the tiny phone speaker. Aziraphale winced and mouthed “sorry!” to Crowley as he turned the corner into his room and shut the door. Crowley sighed.
An hour later, Aziraphale still hadn’t come out of his room. Crowley stood up, cracking his back, and went into the kitchen, grabbing a square of Aziraphale’s ‘special’ white chocolate. He stood at the door of Aziraphale’s room and knocked softly. When he didn’t hear anything, he opened the door.
Aziraphale was laying in bed, under the covers, and facing away from the door. His phone was on the floor, kicked over by the closet. Aziraphale was sniffling softly.
“Oh, Angel…” Crowley whispered. He set the piece of chocolate on the nightstand and crawled under the blankets. “C’mere,” he whispered, and Aziraphale rolled over into his arms, his face buried in Crowley’s chest. Crowley held him tight and planted kisses on top of his head.
“Th-they just don’t g-get it!” Aziraphale cried. “It’s like they don’t want me to be happy!” Crowley ran his hand in small circles on Aziraphale’s back. He nodded.
“They said,” he sniffled, then continued, “they said ’This isn’t how we raised you! Think of your reputation!’ And, and I told them, ’Well, think of your child!’” He sniffed again, a small sob shaking his back.
“I know…” Crowley whispered into Aziraphale’s hair. He sighed. “Should we...not have done it..?” he asked softly. Aziraphale pulled away and looked at him, shocked.
“Yes we absolutely should have!” he said, and Crowley flinched. Then Aziraphale’s face relaxed and he laid his head back down. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have snapped, I’m just…” He huffed and shook his head.
“I know, Angel…” Crowley said, pulling Aziraphale closer in his arms. “I know it’s tough, and...and stupid.” Crowley swallowed, and took a deep breath. “I...don’t know how they can say they love you when they do things like this. When they treat you so terribly…” He trailed off and breathed in the lavender scent of Aziraphale’s hair. “But…” he began, “but I won’t treat you that way. I don’t know what’s wrong with them, but I know I love you, and I won’t ever treat you that way.”
Crowley felt Aziraphale freeze in his arms. Oh no, oh what did I just-
“You...what?” Aziraphale asked quietly, looking up. His face was red, and there was a stray tear on his cheek he hadn’t wiped away.
Crowley groaned, squeezing his eyes shut. “I...love y- What!? Don’t look at me like that, don’t you love me!?”
Aziraphale had an especially goofy smile on his face. He ran the back of his hand over his nose and sniffed. “Of...of course I do!” he said. “I’ve just...I don’t think we’ve said that before…”
Crowley peeked open one eye. Aziraphale was crying again.
“Oh, don’t do that,” Crowley said, wrapping his arms around him and holding him tight.
“Of course I love you,” Aziraphale mumbled into Crowley’s chest. Crowley felt a single tear fall down his cheek and into Aziraphale’s hair.
“I love you too,” he whispered.
Chapter 15: Fall Semester, Year Four
Crowley yawned, obnoxiously. The other students in the classroom turned around, staring at him. He shrugged as the professor coughed, and resumed the lecture. Aziraphale, sitting next to him, shook his head, giggling quietly.
Nervously, Crowley slid his arm behind Aziraphale and around his shoulders. He glanced at Aziraphale out of the corner of his eye and saw him blush. But he didn’t pull away, or look particularly embarrassed, so Crowley stayed and watched Aziraphale take notes.
Crowley had just nodded off, his head on Aziraphale’s shoulder, when something hit him in the back of the head. His head whipped around as he looked behind him.
“Oh shit,” he grumbled. Aziraphale looked up, worried.
“What is it, dear?” he whispered as Crowley rolled his eyes.
“Just look,” Crowley growled. Aziraphale looked behind them, then quickly back at Crowley.
“Should we say something?” he asked, worry making his voice higher than usual. Crowley shook his head and pulled his arm from behind Aziraphale. He crossed his arms and sank down in his seat.
After class, as he was leaning over to pack up his bag, another crumpled ball of paper hit him in the back of the head. Crowley stood up and whipped around.
“Fuck off,” he spat. Hastur and Ligur, his old roommates, just laughed as they left.
“I really think we should say something,” Aziraphale said, standing. But Crowley just shook his head.
“Let’s just go.”
It was a Saturday, one of those rare ones where nobody had to work and everyone’s homework had been finished the night before. They were laying in Aziraphale’s bed, the same place they had been since they woke up.
It was a little after four, and Crowley was dozing off with his head on Aziraphale’s chest. He opened his eyes when he felt Aziraphale stir.
“Was up?” he asked, yawning.
“Oh, sorry, dear,” Aziraphale replied, slipping a bookmark into his paperback and setting it on the nightstand. “I just need to stretch.”
Crowley mumbled something indistinct and rolled over. Aziraphale laid next to him, resting his hand on the angle of Crowley’s hip. He walked his fingers up his hip and jabbed him playfully in the ribs.
Crowley yelped, jerking away.
“No tickling!” he hissed, sticking his tongue out at Aziraphale. But Aziraphale ignored him, jamming his fingers into Crowley’s ribs again.
Crowley made a sound that might have been laughing, but was more like the sound a wild animal in pain would make. He hissed, trying to wriggle away, but the bed was only so big, and with one swift movement, Aziraphale had him pinned down, straddling his middle.
“I’ve got you now!” he cried, laughing as tears streamed down Crowley’s cheeks. His mouth was open, and he was shaking with laughter, but no sound came out.
He leaned down, kissing Crowley’s cheeks as his head thrashed back and forth.
“No!” he hissed. “No tickle! No kissing!”
Aziraphale laughed and laid down on top of him, feeling Crowley’s chest heave as he tried to catch his breath. He pressed his forehead to Crowley’s and was met with a glare.
“No tickle,” he pouted. And Aziraphale kissed him quickly on the mouth before he could pull away. He rolled over so he and Crowley were laying side-by-side. Crowley rolled to face away from him, but Aziraphale wrapped his arms around him and pulled him back.
Aziraphale sighed and kissed the base of Crowley’s neck. “Oh, you silly boy, I love you so much.”
He heard Crowley hiss, then whisper back, “I love you, too.”
“Well? Are you going to open it or not?” Crowley asked, his arms crossed. He was sitting on the floor, watching Aziraphale, sitting on the couch, turn and flip the brown paper package he held in his hands.
“I’m just trying to figure out what it is!” Aziraphale said, sticking his tongue out at Crowley. Crowley hissed back. Finally, Aziraphale pulled off the paper.
“Crowley…” he started, looking up. “I...don’t get it.”
“What? It’s a watch. How do you not get it?” Crowley’s face was hot with embarrassment. Did I get him the wrong thing..!?
“But...how did you afford this it’s...it’s fancy!”
“Do you even like it?” Crowley snapped. His eyes widened. “I-I’m sorry, I-”
“I love it!” Aziraphale cried, raising his hands in mock surrender. “I really do! I...thank you!” he said, sliding off the couch and onto the floor in front of Crowley. He wrapped his arms around him in a hug and said, softer, “Thank you.”
Crowley grunted and patted his back. Aziraphale pulled away, looking at the box.
“Where did you find this?” he asked, pulling a tab on the cardboard box and slipping out the watch. It was a rose gold affair that made Crowley think of Aziraphale the instant he saw it.
“Internet,” Crowley shrugged. “Here, lemme do it,” he said, reaching forward and taking Aziraphale’s hand. He undid the clasp on the watch, loosening the band, and slid it over his wrist.
“I love it,” Aziraphale said, smiling. “And I love you.” He leaned forward, kissing Crowley on the lips. “Thank you.” Crowley hummed into Aziraphale’s neck.
“Good,” he said, standing up. “Now take it off.”
“Take it- Why?”
“Part…two?” Aziraphale asked.
Crowley waggled his eyebrows and said, his voice deep and husky, “Part two.”
“How ‘bout here?” Crowley asked, pointing at a brightly lit sign overhead. Aziraphale frowned and shook his head.
“No, they don’t play the right music,” he said, looking around. “There?”
“Nah, bad drinks.”
Aziraphale play-pouted. “When did we get so picky?” he laughed. Crowley shrugged, and draped his arm over Aziraphale’s shoulders.
They were two of the only people out walking the streets of the college town they lived in. Flurries of snow blew around them as they tried to settle on a restaurant. Most of the shops and bars had started closing in preparation for the end of the semester, and their options were very limited. Only one or two of the clubs they liked were open, and as far as they could tell, they were packed. A few people lingered outside the club they had gone to for Crowley’s birthday years ago. Crowley contemplated queueing, but the air was ripping through his dark jacket, and he wished he had taken Aziraphale’s offer of a scarf before they left.
“Have you gotten your grades back, dear?” Aziraphale asked, and Crowley shook his head.
Aziraphale had just opened his mouth to reply when something hard and wet hit the back of Crowley’s head. He turned, cold clumps of snow slithering down the back of his jacket and under his shirt.
They were laughing, standing about ten feet back. Hastur had another snowball in his hands and his arm was cocked back to throw it. Crowley guessed he threw the first one, too.
“Fuckin’ hell!” Ligur was doubled over, shoulders jerking with laughter. “Lookit his face!”
“Wow, yeah, that’s really funny,” Aziraphale snapped. “Now would you kindly leave us be?”
Hastur pitched the snowball in his hand, but his drunken aim was way off the mark, and it crumbled apart at Aziraphale’s feet.
Aziraphale’s hands were fists at his sides, and Crowley stepped in front of him. He’d seen the photo Aziraphale’s parents had sent of Gabriel’s face last year and, as soft as Aziraphale seemed, he hit hard.
But Aziraphale pushed him out of the way, stepping up to face Hastur.
“Great, now would you kindly fuck off?” he said, the palms of his hands on Hastur’s chest, shoving him back. He stumbled, almost falling, but caught himself at the last moment.
“Don’t act like you're better’n us, Crawly! Neither of you are!,” Hastur called. “You’re just as big a piece of shit as you think we are!”
“Just shut up!” Aziraphale cried. “He’s not, and you know it!”
“Oh, fuck off, you fuckin’ pansy,” Ligur laughed, taking a few staggering steps forward.
Crowley’s knuckles met with bone, and Ligur stumbled back, clutching his eye. White hot pain shot up his wrist, and he grimaced as he felt the skin of at least two knuckles split, so he swung with his other fist. It was less graceful than the first punch, but it still landed on the side of Ligur’s mouth.
“No!” Crowley yelled, “fuck you!” He advanced on him. Ligur was on the ground, and Crowley swung with his leg, a heavy boot meeting with ribs.
Pain made Crowley’s vision turn black as a fist met with his mouth. He swore under his breath, taking a step back. Blinking, he spat a mouthful of scarlet on the snow covered sidewalk.
“What’s wrong, pretty boy? Can’t take a hit?” Hastur jeered, his arm pulling back again.
Crowley heard Hastur’s teeth click together as Aziraphale’s fist met his chin. He heard him swear, but Aziraphale shoved him back again, and his feet slipped on the ice and he landed on the ground next to Ligur who was clutching his side and groaning.
“Hey, what’s going on out here?” a voice asked. A man in a black tee shirt was poking his head out of a door. He looked at Hastur and Ligur, still on the ground.
“Shit, gotta go,” Crowley gasped, taking Aziraphale’s hand and dragging him away. They ran for a few blocks until Crowley spotted something down an alley. Skidding, he pulled them around the corner and slipped through.
“Is this the-”
“Yeah, it is,” Crowley said, slowing to a walk. He leaned forward, panting, and Aziraphale put a hand on his back.
“Let’s sit down,” he said, nodding to a bench. Crowley stayed where he was, still trying to catch his breath. Aziraphale pulled him over, dragging him down. The seat was wet and cold and felt like knives against his thighs. Crowley pressed the backs of his hands against it.
Aziraphale was trying not to laugh, his cheeks red with the effort, and Crowley stared at him.
“Why is it,” he said, “we always end up here after a fight?”
Aziraphale leaned back, his head hanging over the backrest. He sighed.
“And why is it I always end up resorting to fisticuffs over you?” he asked, glancing at Crowley. He closed his eyes and shook his head. “I was never the fighting type. Not till I met you, that is.”
Crowley tried to smile, but the split on his lower lip stung too bad to move his mouth. So he just grunted in agreement and leaned back.
When they got home, Aziraphale rushed him into the bathroom, grabbing some antibacterial goo or something from the medicine cabinet. He sat Crowley on the edge of the tub and kneeled in front of him.
Crowley hissed at the sting as Aziraphale tended to his knuckles.
“I know, I’m sorry, dear,” Aziraphale mumbled, standing to grab a small box from the cabinet. He shuffled through it and winced at Crowley. “I don’t...think I have the right kind of bandage…”
Crowley shook his head and groaned, “‘s fine, don’t worry about it.” He stood, stretching his arms over his head. “‘m sorry about dinner, are you...still hungry?”
Aziraphale shook his head and yawned. “No, I’m fine, thanks. We can eat in the morning. I’m-” he broke off, yawning again, “ready for bed.”
Crowley nodded, following him out of the bathroom and across the hall to Aziraphale’s bedroom. He was too tired to do anything but crawl straight into bed, and Aziraphale was too tired to complain about Crowley’s damp jeans on his sheets. He wrapped his arms around Crowley and pulled him close, pressing his lips against the cold skin of Crowley’s neck.
“Thank you,” he heard Aziraphale whisper, the feeling of his breath sending a chill down Crowley’s spine.
“Oh,” he whispered, “for what?”
“Oh, you know,” Aziraphale breathed, kissing his neck again, “defending my honor and all that.”
Crowley snorted. “I wouldn’t call what I did defending your honor. I just…” he gestured with his hands. “I just gave those assholes what they deserved.”
He glanced back over his shoulder to see Aziraphale smiling back at him.
“You gave ‘em hell, too, ya know?” he continued. “I’m...I’m impressed. I’ve never actually seen you…hit someone.”
Aziraphale laughed, pressing his face into Crowley’s hair. “Anything for you, my dear. You know I love you.”
Crowley smiled, ignoring the sting of his split lip.
“I love you too, Angel.”
Chapter 16: Winter Intermission
Crowley opened his eyes. His breath was coming out in big, white puffs, and he pulled the blanket up over his face, breathing in its lavender scent. Aziraphale was next to him, turned away, snoring softly. Crowley turned towards him, pressing his hands against his bare back.
Aziraphale yelped, his back arching away from Crowley’s hands. “What was that!?” he shouted.
Crowley snickered, pressing his hands against Aziraphale’s back again, and sliding them down.
“Oh nonono!” Aziraphale yelled, “Not with those hands!” He rolled over to face Crowley with a huff. “You keep those up here!”
Crowley leaned forward, quickly kissing him. Aziraphale smiled, then pulled back, rubbing his lips with a hand.
“What is wrong with you?” He asked, finally noticing the white puffs of breath around them. “What is wrong with our house!?”
Crowley shrugged. “Heat’s off, I guess. C’mere, you’re my heater now,” he grinned, pulling Aziraphale against him.
Aziraphale bit his lip. He was torn between Crowley’s face pressed against his chest, and the skinny leg sliding between his own…Oh, I like that very much, but… But the heat was off.
Crowley hissed as Aziraphale rolled over, grabbing his phone from the nightstand. Aziraphale waved a hand at him dismissively as he rolled back. He grabbed Crowley’s leg and slid it back between his own.
He paged through a few news articles before showing one to Crowley.
“I’m afraid I have bad news,” he said as Crowley squinted at the article. “It looks like the heat is out for our whole block.” Crowley hissed and pulled the covers up over his head. Aziraphale quickly rolled over, putting his phone back on the nightstand, then slid under the covers to face Crowley who was shivering slightly.
“Oh, you poor dear,” Aziraphale said, pulling Crowley closer against his chest.
“A-aren’t you c-cold?” Crowley asked through gritted teeth.
“A bit, I suppose,” Aziraphale shrugged. “Good thing I made you help me put the flannel sheets on the bed last week!” Crowley made a face into Aziraphale’s chest, and he laughed.
“So what should we do with our day?” Aziraphale asked, petting the wild mess of Crowley’s hair. Crowley shrugged, planting a couple of kisses on Aziraphale’s chest. He looked up with a mischievous grin.
“Could do this?” he said slyly, running a hand up the inside of Aziraphale’s thigh. Aziraphale swallowed.
“Oh my, yes, we could…”
Crowley snickered, gently biting the soft skin of Aziraphale’s neck.
“O-oh, don’t do that…” he sighed, closing his eyes. He reached out and felt Crowley’s sharp hip. He grabbed it roughly, pulling him closer. Crowley bit his neck again, harder, and Aziraphale knew it’d leave another mark he couldn't convincingly explain away to his coworkers.
“That’ll...leave a mark…” he tried to explain, but Crowley’s hand was already between his legs, the other on his chest, fingertips circling one of his nipples. Aziraphale bit his lip, trying to keep his hips from thrusting into Crowley’s hand, but he couldn't stop himself.
“P-please…” he whimpered as Crowley bit and sucked at his neck.
“‘Please’ what?” Crowley mumbled into Aziraphale’s neck. Aziraphale made a wordless sound in response. “Oh, fine,” he said softly, kissing his neck. Aziraphale rolled over, opening a drawer on the nightstand as Crowley clung to the blankets.
“You’re letting out the heat!” he hissed.
“Shush!” Aziraphale said, rolling back and swatting at one of Crowley’s hands. Crowley looked at Aziraphale and bit his lip.
“Well..?” Crowley asked shyly. Aziraphale sighed, swinging a leg over Crowley so that he was straddling his thighs. He leaned down and kissed Crowley deeply, his tongue swiping across Crowley’s lower lip. Crowley made a sound that made Aziraphale’s heart pound.
“Hmm...fine, I suppose, since there’s nothing else to do…” Aziraphale said slyly, running his hands down Crowley’s chest. “And, I suppose…” Crowley’s back arched as Aziraphale’s fingertips traced circles around his belly button. “I suppose I have to do all the work since someone’s too cold to get out from under the blankets…”
His fingertips trailed lower on Crowley’s body and Crowley made a soft, high-pitched sound, wriggling his hips. He leaned forward, kissing across Crowley’s chest, his tongue flicking over a hard nipple. Crowley groaned, pushing up with his hips.
He moved his legs, pushing up Crowley’s thighs and spreading them apart. Crowley whined softly into the pillow he had pulled over his face.
“Mmm...needy,” Aziraphale whispered, reaching for the bottle of lubricant he had taken from the nightstand drawer. He slicked his fingers, stroking himself and circling Crowley’s entrance.
“Nghk...please…” Crowley moaned.
“I’m so sorry, dear. What was that you just said?”
“Please,” Crowley repeated, his cheeks blushing bright red. “Please…”
Breathing faster, Aziraphale inched his hips forward, and Crowley tensed. He pushed a little harder, the tip of him slipping inside. Crowley’s eyes were shut and he blindly grasped for Aziraphale’s shoulders.
He leaned over Crowley, hands on either side of his head, panting. Crowley's fingers were gripping his shoulders tightly.
“Jus’ gimme a sec…” he panted, “It’s...been a minute since we… Oh,” he moaned as Aziraphale rolled his hips.
Aziraphale’s fingers tangled in Crowley’s hair, pulling hard. That earned another moan from Crowley, and Aziraphale bucked his hips again, sliding all the way in, bottoming out, gasping at the feeling of it.
He was grasping for words, but all he could think was hot and tight and Crowley, oh god, Crowley.
He looked down, and Crowley looked back. His lips were parted slightly, a tiny pout of pleasure, and Aziraphale kissed him, pulling tightly on the knot of hair in his fist. Crowley moaned against his mouth.
Aziraphale sat up, his hips pushing deeper, and slid his hands down Crowley’s chest and stomach to his hips. Aziraphale grabbed them roughly, pushing into the soft skin with his nails. Crowley made a sound, trying to form words, and pushed back into the roll of Aziraphale’s hips.
“Yes,” he choked, “God. Yes.”
And Aziraphale tightened his grip, digging in with his nails and dragging red lines across his skin. Crowley moaned, his hands grasping at Aziraphale’s fingers.
“Harder,” he begged. “M-more. Please.”
Aziraphale bent down over him, hips rocking faster, and slid an arm under his back. He drew his nails down, and Crowley gasped against his neck. Sparks flashed at the edge of Aziraphale’s vision.
“Ngh, Crowley, I’m...I…” he breathed into Crowley’s ear.
“Yes. Inside. Please.”
“Oh god,” he groaned, fingers clawing at skin, “Oh, Crowley!”
The hand on Crowley’s hip held tight, bringing him closer. Crowley cried out and Aziraphale was dimly aware that he may have broken skin. His other hand slid up Crowley’s spine, grabbing hold to the back of his neck. Aziraphale leaned forward, desperately, frantically, and kissed him.
Crowley’s back arched as Aziraphale came. He heard Crowley moaning in his ear, and Aziraphale held him tighter, letting the feeling of Crowley wash over him. He moaned, his and sliding down the outside of Crowley’s thigh, gripping at the bend of his knee.
Crowley fell back onto the bed, his hands rising up to cover his face. Aziraphale kissed him again, once, then clumsily pushed himself up.
He eased himself back, and Crowley made a small, disappointed sound. He felt his arms quiver, and he laid here he was.
Aziraphale rested his cheek on Crowley’s stomach and listened to his breath, still coming in rapid gulps. They were still for a moment. Crowley made a sound, and Aziraphale looked up at him.
And Aziraphale picked himself up, crawling up to lay against Crowley’s side. He kissed the warm skin of Crowley’s shoulder and hummed.
Crowley looked back at him, a mischievous glint in his eyes.
“My turn,” he growled before rolling them so he could grin down at Aziraphale.
Chapter 17: Spring Semester, Year Four
Aziraphale was packing his things, throwing books into his bag without paying attention. He slipped on his shoes, and grabbed his jacket. Just put it on in the car…no time... Because of Crowley, he needed to hurry.
“Are you coming!?” He yelled across the apartment. Crowley poked his head out of the bathroom, his long hair still dripping wet.
“Yeah?” Crowley replied, “why?”
“Why!? Because we’re late! That’s why!”
Crowley disappeared into the bathroom again, and then reappeared. “No we’re not,” he said dismissively. “Don’t gotta be there till 9:15.”
Aziraphale stared at him. “I...we…No, you donut! Class starts at 9:15!!”
Crowley’s brown furrowed. “Well, what time is it now?” he asked, running a comb through his still-dripping hair.
Crowley’s eyes widened. “‘Kay!!” he shouted, and Aziraphale heard the hair dryer roar to life. He groaned, and flopped down on the couch. Taking a morning class with Crowley...what have I gotten myself into…!
Crowley was sitting on the couch when Aziraphale got home from work. He banged the door open so suddenly, Crowley had thrown his phone nearly halfway across the room.
“Crowley!” Aziraphale shouted, throwing his bag on the floor and shutting the door behind him with a slam.
“Y-yes..!?” he responded, clutching his chest.
“Crowley, you have to come see what we just got in the mail!” Aziraphale shouted. His jacket was half on, half off, and Crowley guessed it must be important. He stood, cracking his back, and went over to see a red envelope in Aziraphale’s hands.
“Well?” Crowley asked. Aziraphale handed him the envelope, which he had already opened, and slid out a card.
“They’re getting married!” Aziraphale cried. He was dancing around the kitchen. “And we’re invited! Oh, I just love weddings!”
Crowley read the card again. The wedding was outdoors, on a Saturday in July. That’ll be hot, though… he thought. He looked up at Aziraphale, who was penning the event on the calendar they had hanging in the kitchen. He was still dancing.
“I’ll have to call them right away!” Aziraphale cried, clapping his hands together. “We’re going, right?”
“‘course we are,” Crowley replied, and Aziraphale nearly squealed with delight.
Aziraphale poured himself a glass of white wine and took Crowley’s hand, carrying them both over to the couch. He took the card from Crowley and looked over it again, beaming.
“When I get married,” he started, taking a big sip from the glass of wine, “I want to wear white. I have the whole thing planned,” he said, gesturing with the glass. “White and gold, everywhere, and I want it outdoors, too. Oh! When we go, we should ask them what-”
He stopped. Crowley was staring at him, wide-eyed.
“We should...oh...” He looked down. Crowley was still staring with big, yellow eyes. His face was pale.
They were silent, staring at the card in Aziraphale’s hand.
“Maybe...I should go-”
“I’ll go first,” Crowley interrupted. “I don’t…” he stopped, then started again. “I haven’t really...thought about that before. I mean, I have, but only very...recently.” He looked at Aziraphale. “Now you go.”
“Okay, well...I have thought about it. A lot. For a long time.”
“But we’ve never-”
“Never talked about it...together,” Aziraphale finished. “No, we haven’t…”
He leaned back and thought for a moment.
“Crowley,” he started, “I don’t want to pressure you if...it’s not something you want. I mean, we’re young! We have time! And if…marriage...isn’t something you want, I...I’m okay with that,” he finished, taking another long sip of wine. He stared at Crowley, waiting.
“But...it is something you want,” Crowley said evenly. “And if,” he gulped, “marriage is something you want, and it sounds like it is, then I’m...okay with that.”
Aziraphale opened his mouth to speak, but Crowley interrupted him again. “Fine!” he shouted, throwing up his hand. His cheeks were bright red. “Fine, okay, I’ve thought about it. I want it. I didn’t before, but now I do.” He crossed his arms, not looking at Aziraphale. “I want it…” he muttered.
Aziraphale was quiet for a moment. When Crowley finally looked at him, he was smiling thoughtfully, still sipping his wine. He looked over at Crowley and kissed him gently before leaning back.
“Okay,” Aziraphale said, “I was thinking you could wear black!”
Crowley was in the middle of a yawn when something wrapped around him from behind. He glanced back over his shoulder to see Aziraphale wearing an uncharacteristically festive summer shirt. He spun around in Aziraphale’s arms, lacing his fingers together behind Aziraphale’s neck.
“Congratulations, dear!” Aziraphale cried. “We did it!”
“What is it we’ve done?” Crowley asked, cocking his hip to one side. There were cheers and Whoop!s all around them as students streamed out into the main square. He saw a few people dump the entire contents of their bags into trash cans. It looked like high school all over again.
“We just took our last final!” Aziraphale said with a smile, playing along with Crowley’s game. “You did take yours, right? I seem to remember hearing a snore from your side of the classroom, if my memory serves…”
“Oh yes,” Crowley purred, “I was definitely sleeping. Had a good dream, too. Went somethin’ like this, I think…” he trailed off, leaning down to kiss Aziraphale’s lips, his hips rolling against Aziraphale’s.
Aziraphale pulled away, giggling.
“Stop it, you tease. Not here,” he blushed, quickly glancing from side to side. But nobody was paying them any mind. He reached down, lacing their fingers together.
He swung their hands as they walked across campus for the last time, heading first to the car, and then finally home.
“So what’s your favorite memory here?” Aziraphale asked as they walked.
“Ngh, you go first,” Crowley said.
“Well…” Aziraphale began, “as cliche as it is, I think meeting you.”
“You’ve known me for years, Angel.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t know you know you,” he huffed. “Fine, what’s yours?”
Crowley thought for a moment.
“That first night I spent with you,” he said. “That’s my favorite.” He laughed at the memory. “You were wearing flannel pajamas and everything!”
“Oh, I remember that! I woke up when you were touching my hair,” Aziraphale giggled.
Crowley’s feet froze. “You...woke up..?”
“Yeah, I mean, you weren’t exactly sneaky about it.”
“Wait. Waitwaitwait.” He pulled Aziraphale closer. “You were wearing pajamas. You got into bed with me on purpose.”
Aziraphale blushed. “Well, it was my bed…”
“And then you woke up, noticed me touching your hair, and pretended to still be asleep!”
“...my bed...” Aziraphale was muttering. He was looking down at his feet.
“Exactly how long have you liked me!?” Crowley shouted to the sky. A few people turned to look at them, but Crowley ignored them.
“I don’t think I ever…started...liking you,” Aziraphale said quietly. “I just...always did.” He looked up at Crowley. “I-I mean...how long have you liked me..?”
“Years,” Crowley growled.
“How many years?”
Crowley growled again, his free hand rising up to cover his eyes. “All of them…” he muttered.
Aziraphale jabbed a finger in Crowley’s side, making him yelp and jump away.
“What was that for!?” he demanded, crossing his arms. Aziraphale laughed.
“I’m sorry, dear. I just couldn't help myself.” He reached forward, taking back Crowley’s hand. “It’s just so cute when you get all pouty like that!”
Crowley groaned, letting Aziraphale drag him away from campus.
“Did you really like me for all those years?” Aziraphale asked, glancing back over his shoulder. “All of them.”
“Nah, not all of them.”
“Oh,” Aziraphale said, looking away. Crowley took a few quick steps until he could kiss Aziraphale on the cheek.
“Don’t be silly,” Crowley said, grinning. “I only like you for a few. But I loved you for the rest.”
Aziraphale looked down, and Crowley leaned over to see that he was smiling.
“C’mon,” Crowley called, pulling Aziraphale behind him. “I wanna go home!”
Chapter 18: Graduation
Crowley’s leg was bouncing, and his hand was at his mouth. Aziraphale reached over, laying one hand on his knee and clenching the other into a fist.
“Dear,” Aziraphale whispered in his ear, “you’re starting to make me nervous…”
“Nghk..!” was all that Crowley said. Aziraphale looked up over his shoulder into the massive crowd. When he spotted his parents watching him, he stared at them, and leaned over to kiss Crowley’s cheek defiantly. He didn’t look back at them.
The ceremony was beautiful, even by Aziraphale’s standards. There were commencement speeches from notable figures, and when Crowley’s name was called, Aziraphale cheered louder than anyone else.
They were standing outside the auditorium where the ceremony had been held, hands clasped tightly. Aziraphale was shaking hands with classmates Crowley had never met and wishing them good luck. Crowley busied himself with people-watching. There were so many friends and families here for students he had never met that he started to wonder if he even went to this school.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a fellow graduate taking photos with a Polaroid camera and handing them out. While Aziraphale was distracted, he waved them over.
“Look,” he murmured in Aziraphale’s ear, “a photographer with one of those old cameras you like!” Aziraphale’s head whipped around to see the girl with the Polaroid camera.
“Oh! Over here, please!” Aziraphale shouted, waving his hands over his head. She jogged over, smiling.
“Hi! How many?” she asked cheerfully. Her graduation cap was tucked under her arm, and Crowley noticed it had a camera painted on the top. Photography major..?
“Just one, please! How much do I owe you?” Aziraphale was pulling up his robe to pull his checkbook from the ‘waist pouch’ he wore underneath it. Crowley grimaced.
“God, please, no,” he said, pulling his wallet from his back pocket and pulling out a twenty dollar bill. He looked to the girl. “Just...take however many. Please.” She raised her eyebrows appreciatively and nodded, holding up the camera.
They took the first photo, just a standard ‘arms around the waist’ affair. For the second one, Aziraphale had pulled Crowley down so he could kiss his cheek. For the third, Crowley had caught on, and kissed Aziraphale full on the mouth. They were both smiling, and Aziraphale was giggling. Crowley leaned forward and dipped him low, their noses touching. He heard the girl laughing as she took another two photos.
They stood back up, smiling. “You guys are adorable,” she said and handed them the stack of photos. Crowley grinned at her, kissing Aziraphale on the cheek.
“I know,” he said, waving to her as she walked away. Aziraphale was flipping through them as they developed. He stopped at the one of them kissing.
“This one’s going on our Christmas card,” Aziraphale said, grinning up at Crowley.
Chapter 19: Summer Epilogue
Crowley’s heart was beating faster than it had ever beat before. It was difficult to swallow, especially when his tongue felt two sizes too big and when his mouth was so dry. He was concentrating on matching his pace to Aziraphale’s as they walked across their old college campus. Aziraphale squeezed Crowley’s hand. It was late, and the sun was beginning to set over the horizon. A warm breeze blew around them.
“Everything alright, dear?” Aziraphale asked. Crowley nodded, not meeting Aziraphale’s searching gaze. “I know it’s hard,” Aziraphale said, “I went through the same thing when I left the bookstore.”
“Yep,” Crowley said weakly. He tried to swallow, but his mouth felt like it was full of sand.
They were on their way to the greenhouse Crowley had worked in for the past four years so that Crowley could say goodbye to Francis. Crowley had asked Aziraphale to come with him for ‘moral support,’ knowing Aziraphale couldn't possibly turn him down. Crowley prayed Aziraphale wouldn’t catch on to what was really happening.
Crowley pushed open the heavy greenhouse door and held it so Aziraphale could walk in first. There was a steady buzzing from the fluorescent lights overhead.
“Be right back,” Crowley said, kissing Aziraphale’s cheek. Aziraphale squeezed his hand reassuringly. Crowley looked at him a moment longer, then turned to the back room.
Francis wasn’t there. Crowley knew he wouldn’t be there. He leaned against a metal workbench and took a deep breath. His hands were shaking violently as he pulled off his round sunglasses and set them on the table. Swear to someone, if I drop it... he laughed to himself nervously. He took one more breath and held it until he felt a tiny bit better. Showtime.
Crowley pushed a red button on the wall of the back room, and the big fluorescent lights shut off. The greenhouse was filled with the pink and orange light of the sunset.
“C-Crowley?” Aziraphale called from the main room. Crowley flipped another switch and strings of fairy lights lit up the greenhouse. Crowley had spent the previous day painstakingly hanging them from every shelf and table. He pulled a small, velvet box from his pocket and double checked its contents before slipping it back into his jacket.
He stepped out of the back room.
“Crowley, dear, what’s going on?” Aziraphale asked, his eyes wide. Aziraphale sounded a little panicked. Crowley took Aziraphale’s hands and held on tight.
“Aziraphale,” Crowley choked on the word, and he almost faltered, “Aziraphale...Angel...” Crowley gulped. “T-there’s...something I need to ask you.” He dropped Aziraphale’s hands.
“Crowley, what are you…” Aziraphale whispered. He brought his hands up and covered his mouth.
Crowley reached into his jacket, and knelt.
“Aziraphale, I’ve known you since we were six years old. You were the most interesting person in the world to me then, and you’re the most interesting person in the world to me now.” Two big tears fell down Crowley’s face. He wiped them away, and looked down. “You’ve brought more joy into my life than I thought even existed. You’ve-” Crowley’s voice caught in his throat, and he looked up at Aziraphale, whose face was blushing bright red.
“Yes, Crowley?” Aziraphale urged him on softly. His blue eyes were huge. Crowley cleared his throat.
“Aziraphale, you’ve brought more love into my life than I thought I deserved. Sometimes it seems like too much, really, all the love in your heart. ‘s all I can do to keep up with you. But…” Crowley lifted the lid of the small box carefully, as his hands were still shaking. He revealed a golden band, twisted up on both sides to form a pair of angel’s wings guarding a single diamond.
“But…” Crowley started again. He looked straight into Aziraphale’s clear blue eyes. “But I’ll never stop trying. If you’ll let me, Angel, I’ll never stop trying to love you the way you love me.”
“Crowley, dear, ” Aziraphale said gently, “you love me plenty-”
“Just...just let me…” Crowley interrupted, laughing nervously. “Damn, I practiced this!” He laughed again and wiped a wayward tear away. “Aziraphale. My angel. I love you. I love that you think bowties are stylish. I love the way you spend days in bed reading books I’ve never heard of. I love the way you feed me sushi. I love the way you always smell like lavender. I love everything about you, and I want to keep loving you forever. Will you marry me?” Crowley held his breath.
Great, big tears were rolling down Aziraphale’s cheeks. He sniffled loudly, and nodded. A single laugh escaped his mouth, and he couldn't stop smiling. He kneeled down beside Crowley.
“Oh, Crowley,” Aziraphale cried, throwing his arms around Crowley’s neck, “you fool, of course. Of course I’ll marry you!” Aziraphale shook as he laughed and cried, and Crowley held him tight. When Aziraphale pulled away, Crowley took his hand and slid the ring onto his finger. He ran his hands up his arm and cupped Aziraphale’s cheek. He leaned forward, and through their smiles, kissed him confidently on the lips.