It starts after they avert the apocalypse.
No, that’s not quite right. It starts in The Beginning, the only beginning worthy of capital letters.
One of the first things Crowley noticed about being fallen is the constant and ever present vague discomfort. It’s always there, just beneath the skin of his corporeal form, twitching down to his very atoms. Once television is invented, he likens it to the static that occurs on the device. (He had once asked Beezelbub about it, hoping for a clarification. He had asked if they felt any sort of constant buzzing, not taking into account the flies that always seemed to follow his fellow demon. The look he had received in return haunts him to this day).
It was a symptom, he finally guessed, of being cut off, of lost connection and harmony with the celestial and ethereal realm. Sure, he can still connect in a demonic sense... he can fill the small thrill of a job well done when he inconveniences thousands or causes a particularly nasty character to have an even nastier day, but it’s not the same. That’s what you get for falling out of grace, he supposed.
When it had first happened, it was almost unbearable. Constant murmuring suggestions and temptations pushed and pulled at him until he barely felt in control of himself. They plagued him until he gave in to what they were suggesting and talked to the only woman in the whole universe. She had listened too, taking his advice and biting the apple. But even then the prickling awfulness continued, poked at his skin until he slithered out of the garden and onto the wall to watch as the humans were cast from paradise... until he met the angel.
For the first time since he fell and the feathers of his wings had gone black, the ache of it all had taken a backseat, quieting down as he watched the angel squirm with apprehension over giving his God given sword to the only other creations of the Almighty to have gone against orders besides the demons. The angel had helped them and he’d been so worried about having done the wrong thing, that Crowley couldn’t help but be absolutely amused and intrigued.
When the first rains fell and he had been covered by a pure snow white wing, the constant fuzz had disappeared to almost nothing. It was the best he’d felt since being tarnished.
He kept meeting the angel, Aziraphale, he learned, throughout their unending lives. And each time they did, down through countless centuries, Crowley didn’t feel quite as bad. He was still bad, of course, don’t get him wrong. Just because he hadn’t taken up quite the fervor of performing evil as some of the other demons had, doesn’t mean he didn’t enjoy doing things his own way. Embracing what he’d become was really the only open path anyway.
But Aziraphale is another story. Crowley had known from The Beginning that he’s different. Greedily, and to no one’s knowledge but his own, Crowley sought out his presence whenever he could; a habit that had only grown stronger and more obvious to the point that they created a whole new side for themselves in, quite literally, the biggest cosmic battle in all creation.
Greedy though he is, however, he still hasn’t ... done anything about it. For the past 6,000 years, Crowley has always stopped himself short of doing what he, well, what he really wants to do which is ... something. It’s hard to quantify what that is exactly. But it’s just more than what they’ve got going on now. He only wishes that he had some sort of game plan beyond ‘more,’ but what can you do?
A more detailed answer comes as they spend a cold fall evening in Aziraphale’s bookshop.
It’s been a few months since the world basically started once again (Crowley bristles against the cliché of calling it the ‘first day, week, month of the rest of their lives,’ but really what else can it be?) and they’re sitting in the back of the shop, Aziraphale leaning against the arm of the sofa closest to a softly glowing lamp and Crowley pressed against the other, the too-long legs of his body sprawled haphazardly, one on the cushions and the other draped over the edge toward the floor.
The silence between them is a comfortable one, as most of their silences are. Aziraphale is totally lost in his book, a thick leather-bound tome that Crowley can’t see the spine of, allowing it to remain title-less as far as he’s concerned. The glasses that the angel doesn’t need are slipped down toward the tip of his nose. He’s wearing a sweater in the world’s dullest shade of beige and the light to his side is casting the dandelion fluff of his hair in a soft golden halo and he just looks so content and inviting and ...
And Crowley knows what he wants.
Something hungry and yearning and painfully human rears onto it’s hind legs within him, snarling and growling with the want to be touched. Just a few short months ago he would have never considered it. But the sudden madness of it all has crashed down on him and he knows that he has to just go for it and ...
“You go too fast for me, Crowley.”
Ah. Well, maybe he won’t immediately plaster himself onto the angel. He can still do something though.
Carefully, as non-nonchalantly as possible, Crowley over exaggerates a stretch, pulling his legs back slightly before laying them back onto the sofa. Only this time, his calves and ankles rest across Aziraphale’s lap.
The heart that doesn’t actually need to beat, leaps to life in his chest as he does so. Really, how terribly inconvenient bodies are...
For a few time stopping moments, Crowley is sure that Aziraphale will either push his legs off or, worse, comment on what he’s just done. The last thing Crowley wants to do is discuss this, he thinks with a shudder.
Aziraphale, wonder that he is, does neither of those things. Instead, he flips a page, lets out a pleasant little hum and rests his the hand not holding the book across Crowley’s shins, thumb coming to lay and rub small circles against the bony protrusion of Crowley’s ankle.
Crowley gives himself a mental pat on the back for not bursting into a pillar of flame and transporting himself back to his flat for a very well deserved freak out. The initial panic, however, doesn’t last long.
For the past few millennia, he had always assumed that just being in Aziraphale’s presence was calming enough. But this, this is something else. Even such a small point of contact has the blood in his body’s veins thrumming with warmth and the discordant buzz of discomfort is completely gone. He allows himself the indulgence of a deep sigh as he slumps further into the cushions, eyes slipping shut as he settles in.
He thinks that he hears Aziraphale let out a little huff of amusement, but the contentment and warmth filling him from his ankles upward, drowns out any clever retorts that he could fling back.
As a being not often concerned with the passage of time, it’s easy for Crowley to lose track of it when nothing important is happening. Apparently this is definitely the case when he’s melted into a boneless heap on a long outdated sofa with an angel gently touching him through his sock. He’d have the sense to be a bit ashamed of himself if he weren’t so damn comfortable.
Eventually, however, Aziraphale shifts to get off the sofa. Closing his book, he carefully lays it on the coffee table and gently extracts himself from beneath Crowley, laying his feet back on the sofa as he gets up to put another log on the fire that’s growing dim in the fireplace across the room.
“Ngk,” Crowley grumbles. “You couldn’t just miracle that on?”
He doesn’t mean to sound petulant, but there’s a distinct chill creeping in now that the angel is across the room from him, despite the fire now burning brighter.
Crowley watches as the back of his fluffy white head goes through a little motion that is meant to be exasperated, but only comes across as sort of fond. Something in Crowley’s ribs squirms.
“I was also going to make tea,” Aziraphale answers. “I have some of those cream biscuits you like.”
“Oh, well then, don’t let me stop you,” Crowley says, stretching again and waving a hand imperiously as he slumps back into the cushions.
“That’s what I thought,” Aziraphale says with fake haughtiness, still impossibly fond. He disappears into the small kitchenette further into the shop and leaves Crowley to stare, lost, at the dark wood of the ceiling.
A very distinct feeling of change is starting to creep into the back of Crowley’s mind. It’s not necessarily bad, but it is disorienting.
Aziraphale comes back a bit later, carefully balancing a tray of tea and biscuits and settles it onto the table. Crowley peels himself off the sofa and joins him. Remarkably, they don’t talk about it, but Aziraphale is casting him more sideways looks and little smiles than usual and Crowley dares to allow himself to feel something akin to hope.
A few days later they’re making their way back to the shop for a nightcap after a pleasant walk through a conservatory for a fall flower show. It had been their first outing since ‘The Ankle Incident,’ as Crowley has taken to calling it in his mind. It sounds lame, but also a bit like one of those pulpy, smutty, novels that he was always so fond of, but that Aziraphale balked at as an insult to fine literature.
Anyway, it had been a great night. They had strolled around stunning botanical displays, arms, shoulders, and on a few thrilling occasions, hands, bumping as they walked. Such tiny little gestures, but Crowley couldn’t get enough. He had turned up his usual swagger to 11, making sure to sway into Aziraphale’s space as often and as nonchalantly as possible. The angel hadn’t even minded, so he considered it a win.
The walk back, however, is proving to be a bit of a test. The night air is starting to get a hint of winter chill to it and Crowley can’t help but let a scowl creep in to tarnish the rather good mood that he’s in.
He supposes his aversion to the cold is due to his ... reptilian nature. Temperature really shouldn’t bother him and oftentimes it doesn’t, but there’s just something about English winters that settles in to stab at the joints of this body that he still feels like a stranger in after all these years.
Aziraphale, being constantly filled with compassion and empathy, as well as knowing Crowley better than anyone, notices. “How about a hot toddy, dear?” Aziraphale says as though the endearment has always been there and, Crowley supposes, it always has been, in some way or another.
“Sure,” he says, with a shrug, strolling into the shop as though he’s at home and he supposes, again, it has always sort have felt that way. “I’ll get the fire on.”
Lighting the fire is the work of a quick thought and Aziraphale seems to have sped up the warming process of the toddies as well because he’s back in no time. The drinks flow between them as freely as they always do and pretty soon Crowley is feeling pleasantly toasty in more ways than one.
It helps that Aziraphale has sat closer than usual on the sofa. Crowley is plastered against his side and is enjoying the solid press of him there. If the touches at the conservatory had been nice, then this is in another arena entirely. The conversation eventually lags and Crowley feels himself heaving out a sigh as he drunkenly dares to lean a bit further onto the angel. He hears a chuckle somewhere above his head and suddenly the world tips sideways.
By the time his booze addled brain catches up, he realizes that they are now both lying on the sofa or, more accurately, Aziraphale is laying on the sofa and he is laying on Aziraphale. Panic tries to claw it’s way through his happily drunken haze and it succeeds in getting as far as his muscles, causing him to tense against the angel as he arranges himself more comfortably under Crowley.
“Urk--” he chokes out as Aziraphale finally settles and heaves out a deflating sigh. Crowley sinks as he does so and rises again on the next inhale.
“Alright?” Aziraphale asks, voice totally devoid of concern and, if Crowley isn’t mistaken, on the verge of sleep, as though completely upending their relationship further than even Crowley has, is no more cause of concern than making an offhanded statement about the weather.
Crowley takes stock for a moment. He’s comfortably arranged, Aziraphale is pleasantly warm, his beige (again, bless it all) sweater is soft and enticing against Crowley’s cheek, the alcohol in his system is pulling him steadfastly towards sleep as well. As drastically new and different as it all is, Crowley can’t help but admit that he’s alright, if not more than.
“Hmm,” he offers by way of confirmation. Letting his head thunk down heavily against Aziraphale’s shoulder.
“Good,” Aziraphale manages to murmur, wrapping one arm around Crowley’s back before sleep finally takes him over.
A small part of Crowley urges him to stay awake, to puzzle and over-think this new development but, as always when he’s in the angel’s presence, things quiet down and he soon follows Aziraphale into sleep.
By the time he wakes up, light is streaming through the slightly grimy windows of the shop. With bleary eyes, he watches as dust hangs and glitters in the beams sunlight pouring into the room. More than once he’s offered to clean the place, knowing full well that Aziraphale keeps it as such out of habit and out of the ever present urge to keep would-be customers away. But still, the offer always causes the angel to make a lovely little pinched face, so he brings it up occasionally.
He allows these thoughts to roll around a bit longer because they’re better than the alternative, which is recognizing the fact that he had slept with the angel ... on the angel, for an entire night and, as of right now, his right cheek is still pressed up against soft, beige wool. If he just stays put for now, he can continue to gloss over the fact that he’s wedged comfortably between the Aziraphale’s soft body and the sofa and that there’s no where else he’d rather be.
But he should be. He should absolutely be elsewhere because Aziraphale will wake up and he’s not quite sure he’ll be able to survive seeing the angel in the state of having just roused from slumber. He’d probably go even softer and look all befuddled and deliciously tousled and ... he should leave.
He takes a deep breath and immediately regrets it. Laying in such a position has given him a deep smell of everything that Aziraphale is. All dust and ink and sun warmed feathers with just a hint of incense that was popular around Babylon in the 12th century B.C. that he always enjoyed.
Well, another sniff couldn’t hurt, he reasons, pressing his nose against the swell of Aziraphale’s ribcage, and besides, demons aren’t really supposed to shy away from giving into vices. Speaking of vices, he rationalizes, he’s feeling particularly slothful currently. As much as he knows he should get up, as much as he’ll regret it if he doesn’t, he can’t find it in himself to move. This confounded angel and his peace inducing self, where does he get off?
For a few more blissful moments, he allows himself to teeter on the edge of falling asleep again, but then Aziraphale stirs and he bolts upright out of sheer instinct. The movement stirs Aziraphale into wakefulness even faster and oh, what a mistake that is. The angel looks up at him through sleep hazed eyes, a pale blue made even more heavenly as they’re kissed by the early morning light.
“Oh, good morning, Crowley,” he says, voice tinged with sleep and softer than he sounds even at his most angelic.
Crowley gulps an unnecessary gulp. “Er ... morning,” he says, trying and failing not to make his voice sound as choked as he currently feels.
Aziraphale doesn’t notice. All he does is stretch languidly, causing his hips to slide tantalizingly along Crowley’s thigh and that’s the last straw.
“What is this?” Crowley asks suddenly.
“What’s what, dear?” Aziraphale asks, like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. It probably wouldn’t, Crowley thinks inanely.
“This,” he responds, jerking his hand to indicate the two of them still very much entangled on the sofa. “The ‘dears’ and the not minding me touching you and the ... the all of it,” he finishes lamely. As much as he has grown to hate the phrase, it really does feel like this has happened too fast.
Aziraphale blinks up at him. And really he should not be laying all sprawled out and inviting and maddening, it’s not fair. “Oh, I thought we had finally gotten it together,” he says, cheeks blushing.
“It?” Crowley eeks out.
“Er, us? I suppose? Oh, don’t make me say it,” the angel’s voice trails off on a slightly petulant note.
If Crowley thought things happened fast last night, then the process his thoughts go through happens so quickly that it can’t even be measured and as a being for which physics is no barrier, that’s saying something.
“Us. As in, ‘Us.’ Together. Us?” he asks eloquently. For the past 6,000 years of dancing around each other, Crowley should have known that even his smallest signals were understood and just given back in kind ... no more.
Leave it up to the angel not to over step boundaries on a small matter yet again. A flaming God-given sword gifted to the mortals? Stopping the apocalypse? Sure. But, flirting beyond what Aziraphale’s proper Victorian-leaning social niceties tell him are alright to reciprocate? Heaven (at times, literally), forbid.
“Well, yes. Or at least I thought we were moving towards more obvious courting, what with the touching and all, was this too much?”
Crowley very nearly screams. Too much. Instead he focuses on something more reliable, teasing the angels vernacular.
“Courting,” he says flatly, trying to hide the fact that things are slowly slotting into place and he’s very quickly becoming almost bubbly with excitement.
He must not be too successful at hiding it though, because Aziraphale just huffs, failing to hide his own knowing smile. “Oh, don’t you start ...”
“Oh, I’m absolutely going to start,” he says with a grin, barely able to contain the swirl of emotions that are currently at war within him. He flops back down onto the sofa, forcing Aziraphale to twist so that they can lay looking at one another.
Which is exactly what they do. Crowley on the verge of a fit of giddiness unbecoming of a demon and Aziraphale looking at him as fond as ever. It continues for a few moments before Crowley speaks up.
“Just to be clear, we very much have feelings for each other and are now finally going to act like it?”
“Yes, I think that’s quite the accurate assessment,” Aziraphale agrees.
“Good. Oh, and angel? I doubt you could ever be too much,” Crowley says smugly. “That’s more my department, yeah?”
“We’ll see about that,” Aziraphale murmurs before tugging him into a kiss.
It’s surprising. The buzzing in Crowley’s skin doesn’t just go quiet as their lips finally meet, but it disappears entirely, replaced by something that’s as close to euphoric as Crowley has felt in thousands of years. In short, it’s perfect.
Being proven wrong has never felt so right.