The Joy of Socks
They walked home from the Ritz, given that the Bentley was still sitting outside Crowley’s flat in Mayfair. Oh, they could have hailed a cab, Aziraphale supposed, especially given it was raining, but this was far nicer: strolling under the enormous umbrella Aziraphale had miracled into existence, arm in arm with his dearest demon, intimate and sheltered yet daringly out in the open.
“I really do love you,” Aziraphale sighed happily, smiling over at Crowley.
“So you’ve said,” Crowley replied. His tone was dry but the small curve of his mouth made Aziraphale ache with contentment. Could one ache with contentment? It didn’t quite seem to scan, and yet he did, his ribs like a cage holding back something too big to be contained.
“Not tiring of me already, my dear?” he laughed. This was how it overflowed, in smiles and laughs and fizzing glances.
Crowley pretended to consider it, head tipping back and forth. “Not sure. Better say it again.”
“I love you.”
“Hmm,” Crowley said, then, “Nah. Think we’re okay for another couple of millennia.”
“Oh good, because…” he paused until he’d caught Crowley’s eye again. “I love you, I love you, I love you!”
“Yes, all right, angel,” Crowley muttered, rolling his eyes, but his tiny fond smile had broadened a little, even if it did now look a touch self-conscious. Quite frankly, Aziraphale didn’t think he’d ever be able to say it enough, even if they got another twenty millennia, but Crowley could be sensitive about his nobler instincts, and Aziraphale sensed that, emotionally, his poor darling was still recovering from the night before.
It had been, well, it wouldn’t be too trite to call it a revelation. Returning to Crowley’s flat via the assistance of one very confused bus driver, they’d stayed up late into the night drinking and puzzling over Agnes’s last prophecy. Sitting next to each other on the horribly square-edged settee, there had been a sense -- unspoken, as these things had always been up until then -- that they both simply wanted to stay as close to each other as possible. And that meant sitting so close their arms touched, their legs touched, and Aziraphale became quite breathless from the sheer heated nearness of Crowley. Like a pan left unattended on the hob, he’d boiled over messily.
The kiss that followed, the confession (reciprocated), the passionate love-making -- it seemed almost natural after everything else, the inevitable conclusion to suddenly shoving six thousand years’ worth of less-than-proper feelings about one’s supposed rival (but actual dear friend) out from the shadow of fear, and giving a cheerful two-fingered salute to anyone from their respective head offices who may be keeping track.
Now, less than a day later, no one was keeping track, Aziraphale was certain of that. But it wouldn’t matter even if they were. He was quite done with hiding his feelings, and completely incapable of stuffing them back in even if he wanted to. He was ready to make an insufferable nuisance of himself. But--
“So, giving Michael the old back-chat,” Crowley said, a subject change so unsubtle Aziraphale couldn’t do anything but take pity on him and follow along. “How did that feel?”
“Good,” Aziraphale admitted. “Uriel always said I had a smart mouth.” Crowley gave him a look of amused incredulity, as though he couldn’t believe Aziraphale had ever given anyone lip before. “I always took it as a compliment.”
“Of course you did,” Crowley said. “I’m just surprised anyone up there noticed.”
“Not as surprised as Michael when she miracled me that towel,” Aziraphale said, a laugh bubbling over again.
Crowley’s look was one of fond exasperation. “Say what you like, angel, I think what you really enjoyed was stripping me down to my unmentionables and getting me all wet.”
Astonishingly, Aziraphale felt himself grow warm in the face. They had done far more than look at each other in their underwear last night, but it was all still so new, this intimate, honest teasing. Good God, how he loved it.
"Well, I won't say that was a hardship," he said, glancing sideways at Crowley.
Though now he mentioned it, Crowley was very appealing in contrasts, the stark black underthings serving to highlight just how much of his skin was on show. Current collarbone-revealing fashion choices to the contrary, Crowley didn't seem entirely comfortable in nothing but his skin. All these years Aziraphale had been imagining Crowley sleeping naked between his silk sheets; it had been a little disappointing (and awfully endearing) to discover his austere long-sleeved, long-legged pyjamas folded neatly beneath the pillows, the way Crowley had miracled himself into them after their lovemaking, buttoned up tight as though he needed the protection, and only miracled them away again at Aziraphale’s best pout.
In fact, Aziraphale vividly remembered the single glance he’d had of Crowley during the period between their argument in 1862 and the seamless resumption of their friendship in 1941. It had been at some society gathering, a private ball perhaps, there had been a good few of them in the year following the Treaty of Versailles. Crowley had been slinking around the edges of the room in a long black evening gown, spangled in beads and sequins, sleeveless, a deep V in the back putting a good portion of his slender back on display, red hair worn long and swept up to leave the nape of his neck bare and magnetic in a way it wasn’t when he simply wore his hair short. Frozen for several uneven, thumping heartbeats, Aziraphale then turned around and went home. At the time, he’d thought his dry mouth and the lump in his throat was anger, was fear and betrayal. How very stupid he had been.
But that was it, really. Crowley hadn’t been around in Ancient Greece, hadn’t stayed in Rome long enough to get the fashion for bare arms right, and had somehow always favoured the gender presentation that revealed the least at other times. The open necklines he often wore these days had only started making an appearance in the 1970s, which left the best part of six millennia in which Crowley had kept himself hidden away. It made the small scraps of skin he did display all the more tempting.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" Crowley, soft-voiced, interrupted his reverie.
"Hmm? Oh. Like what?"
"Like I'm dessert at the Ritz." Crowley’s eyebrow was quirked up. He looked quite pleased about it, regardless.
"Oh no, my dear. You’re far tastier than that."
And look at that, they were at the bookshop already. Aziraphale hadn’t even been paying attention to which direction they were going.
“You didn’t want to check on the Bentley?” he asked, but more as a formality than anything as he dragged Crowley in behind him.
“Plenty of time for that later,” Crowley said, his words becoming muffled as Aziraphale pressed him back against the closed door and kissed him. “Besides, think I was promised desert?”
There was a tall, antique wardrobe in Aziraphale’s little-used bedroom -- a dark wood monstrosity with carved feet that nearly reached the ceiling. Crowley hit the wardrobe door with enough force to let out a breath. Aziraphale held him in place at arm’s length and looked at him appraisingly. Black vest, skin-tight underpants that he could still remember the strangely sensual feel of against his own (Crowley’s) skin, black socks pulled up Crowley’s wiry calves. Yes, very good.
“I knew it,” Crowley said, with a breathless laugh and a raised finger. “You liked stripping me down.”
“I didn’t deny it,” Aziraphale said. He’d lost his bowtie somewhere on the stairs and his waistcoat was gaping open, but he was otherwise fully dressed. Technically, so was Crowley, only he looked so indecent . “My dear, you are positively delicious. Believe me when I say if we’d spent any longer in each other’s bodies I would have been in danger of doing something quite depraved.”
Crowley swallowed. “That’s, uh, that’s really hotter than it should be.”
“Well,” Aziraphale said mildly. “Something for another day. Right now, I want to devour you.”
“Ngk,” Crowley said. Aziraphale went to his knees. Crowley was hard already, so wonderfully receptive to Aziraphale’s advances, and it made a very pleasing sight in Crowley’s current tight, skimpy attire. When he leaned forwards, hands on Crowley’s hips, to bite gently at his erection, Crowley gasped, and hooked a thumb in his waistband questioningly. “Shouldn’t I take these off?”
Aziraphale nibbled his way up the full length of him, delighted to find a damp spot at the head already. “All in good time,” he promised.
Aziraphale treasured the moments after Crowley came. He was so wonderfully pliable, warm and receptive to whatever manner of praise Aziraphale wanted to give him, accepting of physical affection with sweet little sounds of contentment. With strong arms, gentle hands, Aziraphale manoeuvred him over to the bed, where he fell backwards across it and lay there, loose-limbed and yellow-eyed, smiling a little dazedly up at Aziraphale.
“Are you going to fuck me now, angel?” he asked, lifting his head to glance pointedly at the front of Aziraphale’s trousers, which were displaying his desire for Crowley quite urgently.
“I rather think I am, yes,” Aziraphale said, reaching for his shirt buttons. Crowley watched him lazily from the bed until he was completely naked.
“My dear,” Aziraphale complained, “you’re not ready.” Directing an impatient look at Crowley’s rumpled but still clothed body, he took himself in hand and began to stroke.
Crowley’s eyes went wide and a little hazy. “Thought you said this was sexy,” he croaked, plucking at his vest.
Aziraphale, who was not the sort of person to use that type of word, pursed his lips judiciously. “It is very appealing,” he conceded, “but a little difficult to fuck you in.”
“Shit,” Crowley said feelingly, and a moment later his clothes disappeared. Well, his vest and underpants disappeared.
“You're still wearing socks,” Aziraphale pointed out.
“So?” Crowley said, getting up on his elbows to watch avidly as Aziraphale continued to caress himself.
“It's not…” he paused, amusing himself. “Sexy.”
“That,” Crowley said, waving a finger at him, “is a flagrant lie. That might be the worst lie you’ve ever told me. And besides, you don't know what I'm going to do with them yet.”
Aziraphale took in the sight he made draped across the bed like one of his more lurid fantasies: acres of naked skin, semi-erect and still wet with Aziraphale’s saliva, cheeks delicately flushed and skin glowing with sweat, and all of that framed by the sudden sharp cut of the black hem of his socks across his calves. Something about the socks made it just painfully clear how very naked he was, how absolutely vulnerable he was making himself in front of Aziraphale, and Aziraphale loved him powerfully in that moment.
“I can't think of anything sexy…” he lied again, not really even trying to hide his smile. The yellow of Crowley’s irises expanded to take over the whites, and Aziraphale swallowed. “That wasn't a challenge.”
Later, sated, snuggled up in bed together, Aziraphale realised Crowley’s feet didn’t feel quite right. He caressed Crowley’s arches with his bare toes thoughtfully for a moment, before lifting the duvet to take a peek. Crowley did, indeed, still have his socks on. So much for sock-related sexual creativity. Crowley must have got distracted. What a relief.
Aziraphale smiled to himself. Crowley generally dedicated far more energy to keeping up with the fashions and being stylish than Aziraphale could ever muster, but even he knew that, objectively, there was nothing fashionable or stylish about going around naked except for socks. Either Crowley was so thoroughly exhausted by Aziraphale’s ministrations that he’d forgotten he was still wearing them, or else he didn’t care. Whatever the explanation, Aziraphale was touched that he didn’t feel the need to maintain any particular pretenses just now.
“Mmn, stoppit,” Crowley grumbled, not moving from his boneless sprawl across Aziraphale’s chest. “Tickles.”
Aziraphale kissed the top of his head apologetically, before the words sank in. “You’re ticklish?” he asked. Almost of its own volition, one of his hands strayed from the gentle caresses he’d been giving to Crowley back, and settled over his ribs.
“Don’t even think of it,” Crowley growled menacingly, the effect of which was somewhat ruined by the fact his face was half-mashed into Aziraphale’s chest. Breathing out a soft laugh, Aziraphale relented and returned to stroking up and down Crowley’s spine.
“I find it quite astonishing that after all this time, there are still some things I don’t know about you,” he murmured.
“Like how devastatingly attractive I am in just my socks?”
Aziraphale let slip a startled laugh. “Yes, my dear,” he said, kissing him again. “Just like that.”