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Getting It Wrong

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Things had been going well after Armageddon’t.

Maybe a little too well.

Aziraphale was all too used to Crowley’s warmth-seeking behavior come November, and the move to the South Downs served to only make him more open about communicating what he needed. Aziraphale suspected it had something to do with the diminishing walls between them that could only come from sharing the same space; their friendship was long-lived, but even people who knew each other so well could be prone to miscommunication. Maybe the familiarity made it harder, in some ways. Like being on the same page, but in entirely different books. But more often than not, they read each other correctly.

It wasn’t that much of a surprise to Aziraphale, then, when Crowley, hot chocolate mug between his chilly fingers and blanket over his shoulders, shyly looked over the rim of his glasses and asked, “Would you maybe…want to sleep with me tonight, angel?”

Oh.

Oh.

Physical intimacy had been on the rise between them since before they bought this lovely little cottage, and had progressed to cautious kisses in the in-between hours, when Crowley was sleepy or Aziraphale was lost in a book and either one or both of them were a little too out of it to give it much more thought in the moment. Out of the moment was another thing entirely. Aziraphale hadn’t been expecting Crowley to make that leap (and what a leap it was), but he did love to jump headfirst into things, after all. Aziraphale smiled into his hot chocolate mug at the openly hopeful look on Crowley’s face.

“Of course, my dear,” Aziraphale said warmly. Crowley’s smile melted into open, sappy affection, which Aziraphale couldn’t help but return. Alright. There were a few hours yet until Crowley’s usual self-prescribed bedtime. Time to make some preparations.

The bedroom was Crowley’s, of course, because he was the one who slept, but Aziraphale, Guardian of the Eastern Gate and known hedonist, had a few tricks up his sleeves that would only take a small miracle to move from his closet to Crowley’s bed. The timing would be key; Aziraphale had it in mind to perform a proper seduction, and he couldn’t do that if he gave away his hand too early. The rest was just lying around the house: good champagne, of course, and a charger to rest them on; it was too late in the season to coax Crowley’s rose bushes into giving up some of their blooms for the cause, but a quick trip into the town grocery store took care of that; a rather more sumptuous silk duvet and pillowcase set, hiding away in the linen closet. And candles—couldn’t forget those, of course, mood lighting was everything.

Over dinner[1], Aziraphale weathered Crowley’s increasingly bashful glances with the kind of practiced indulgence garnered over several thousand years of doing just that. They did the dishes together in silence, occasionally bumping each other’s hips, and Crowley’s hands seemed incapable of not brushing Aziraphale’s every now and then. This was going to be fun, Aziraphale realized, with the sort of wiggle not usually seen by others outside of a very specific set of circumstances. Crowley made it an hour after dinner before his fidgeting fingers and tapping feet drove him upright from the couch, where Aziraphale had been reading and Crowley lounging.

“Bedtime, do you think?” Crowley said, his voice going for smooth but strangled by obvious nerves. The poor dear, Aziraphale sighed, smiling as he closed his book.

“Of course, dearest, if you wish,” Aziraphale said, and smothered his laugh as Crowley rocketed up the stairs of the cottage. Eager thing, wasn’t he? Aziraphale stood, brushed off his trousers, and followed with a saunter that would have made his demon proud, had he been there to see it. No matter, he would witness similar soon enough.

Crowley was holed up in the bathroom when Aziraphale made it up the stairs, which was perfect. Aziraphale walked into Crowley’s room and cracked his knuckles. To work, then.

Aziraphale had just lit the last candle when there was movement from the bathroom signaling Crowley’s imminent approach, and Aziraphale hurriedly draped himself into position, making sure all his best angles were on display. He wanted to do this right, after all. Crowley deserved nothing less from him. He arranged his face into the seductive smirk he’d perfected in the 1880s as Crowley’s voice sounded from the hall.

“So, I know this is maybe not qui—” Crowley made a choked-off, strangled sort of noise as he rounded the corner, and Aziraphale had three very quick realizations:

First, Crowley was wearing pajamas, with the kind of soft, lived-in look of real clothes and not miracled manifestations.

Second, he looked surprised, but not the particularly good kind of surprised, and fear was close on surprise’s heels.

Third, Aziraphale had made a grave miscalculation.

“Oh,” Aziraphale said, because he couldn’t seem to say anything else. Crowley’s face was a few shades darker than his hair, and he had entirely stopped breathing. “Oh, you meant…”

Crowley made several consonant noises that had the potential to be words if his shock hadn’t strangled them in their cribs. Aziraphale carefully rose from the bed, not wanting to tip over the champagne, and approached Crowley slowly, cautiously, not at all like he’d been planning all afternoon. It didn’t seem to help matters as Crowley went from not breathing to hyperventilating, his uncovered eyes fully yellow as he grasped for the door jamb and leaned into it like he would fall if there wasn’t some kind of support. It also didn’t help that Aziraphale realized he was a little taller than Crowley in the pink suede pumps he’d chosen for the occasion, and Crowley looking up at him with that expression was nothing short of awful.

“Oh, my dear—” Aziraphale banished his nice lingerie in favor of soft tartan flannel pajamas, his height back to normal, and he reached for Crowley, but didn’t touch. “My darling, I’m so sorry, I didn’t—here—” Aziraphale flung the roses and champagne into the ether and extinguished the candles with a flick of the wrist as he gently corralled Crowley towards the bed, not quite daring to touch him beyond steering his shoulders. They spent the next miserable minutes with Crowley having a come-apart, which culminated in a soft pop as his black-scaled body booked it for under the bed, and Aziraphale sat on the floor with a sigh. He couldn’t believe he’d misinterpreted quite so badly[2].

“Crowley,” Aziraphale said softly, “I’m sorry, dear, please come out.”

There was a sort of wailing hiss from under the bed. Aziraphale felt his face starting to crumple.

“I’ve rather made a mess of it, haven’t I,” Aziraphale said softly, leaning his head back against the mattress. “Very well, you don’t need to come out if you don’t want to. Do you want me to leave?”

There was a slight slithering noise as the end of Crowley’s tail cautiously made its way out from under the bed and wrapped in a very loose coil around Aziraphale’s wrist. “Alright, I’ll stay,” Aziraphale promised, and the coil retreated. They sat in silence for several long, agonizing minutes.

“It did strike me as a bit odd that we’d jump straight to…that…without having a proper snog first,” Aziraphale said, hoping Crowley found his usage of slang amusing. Given the snort that emitted from under the bed, he’d succeeded. “I suppose we haven’t ever really talked about it. Well…I suspect you know my feelings on the matter. I would very gladly sleep with you in all senses of the word, but not before you were ready, my dear. I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

‘m not frightened, Crowley hissed, and his wedge-shaped head poked into Aziraphale’s hand. ‘m just surprised.

“Of course,” Aziraphale said, and tried to bite down on his smile as Crowley nudged his head under Aziraphale’s hand, commanding and submitting to pets. “Your scales are lovely and warm right now, Crowley dear. Come out from under the bed?”

Crowley seemed to consider it, then slithered out from under the bed, laying his coils across Aziraphale’s lap and snuggling into them as Aziraphale continued stroking his scales.

‘m not frightened, Crowley repeated, rather more sternly. Wanna do that. Later.

“You know it’s difficult to hold a proper conversation like this, dearest,” Aziraphale hinted, and after a long-suffering snakey sigh, Aziraphale’s lap found itself full of gangly limbs instead, Crowley’s face pushed into the crook of Aziraphale’s neck.

“I…I do want that,” Crowley muttered into his skin. “Just wasn’t expecting it right now, is all.” He grabbed Aziraphale’s hand and put it on his knee, and Aziraphale took the cue to begin rubbing circles into Crowley’s back in soothing strokes, tracing his thumb across Crowley’s knee as Crowley sighed and relaxed. After a while, Crowley snickered, and Aziraphale paused. “You looked a right picture, angel. Good enough to eat.”

“Well, I did try my best, you know,” Aziraphale sniffed, smiling into Crowley’s hair. “I’m delectable.”

He probably should have been offended by Crowley bursting into laughter, but it was so much better than him being tense and miserable or in the middle of a panic attack, so Aziraphale allowed it. Crowley took his face out of Aziraphale’s neck and kissed him on the cheek. “That you are.”

“Do you feel well enough to move to the bed, dearest? To sleep?” Aziraphale asked, and Crowley stretched in Aziraphale’s arms, then clambered to his feet.

“I guess,” he said, and helped Aziraphale up. “What on earth did you do to my bed?”

“I…I’ve had the bedspread put away for a special occasion,” Aziraphale said, refusing to look Crowley in the eye as he walked around the bed the other side. “I’ll change it back.”

“No, no, leave it,” Crowley said, and Aziraphale blinked. Crowley grinned. “Looks soft.”

With very little ceremony, an angel and a demon climbed into bed together in the most literal sense, and with some awkward eye contact and throat-clearing, carefully maneuvered into each other’s arms. There was a little problem with elbows and one case of arm-crushing, but they managed it, tucked against each other with the duvet pulled up around their shoulders. Crowley laid his head on Aziraphale’s chest with a satisfied sigh.

“Sleep well, dearest,” Aziraphale said softly, snapping off the lights and returning his hand to Crowley’s hair. Crowley gave a mumbling sort of return wish and fell asleep in the space of three breaths. Aziraphale exhaled the breath his soul had been holding for the last half hour and relaxed. This kind of intimacy, more than any other, was what he truly wanted—the trust, the closeness, the warmth. They could figure out ways to express it later. For now, Aziraphale held Crowley and watched over his slumber.

 

[1] Crowley’s turn to cook, and he had outdone himself with the roasted potatoes this time.

[2] To be fair, Crowley had used very vague language, and really, wasn’t it humanity’s fault for having so many euphemisms in the first place?