It happened to be an oddly warm Saturday morning in October. It was pleasantly sunny during the day, the mornings filled with dew on every bit of green underneath coloured treetops. The air during those early hours was crisp and of the most refreshing kind. There had been a word for this once: gossamer.
A groggy demon, hair as auburn as the leaves outside, was shuffling to his kitchen, only wearing black pyjama pants and an open dressing gown of an even darker shade of black, the hickies peppered on his bare chest on display.
He waved half-heartedly at the Lord of Flies. "Morning, your nuisance."
"Hi." Beelzebub raised their hand in return, not taking their eyes off the windows to the garden.
"Are you eating angel cake for breakfast?" Crowley asked the Prince of Hell as he came back from pouring himself a much-needed cup of coffee, a quarter of it being milk, no sugar.
Beelzebub licked whipped cream off their pastry fork. "How else am I supposed to get a sweet piece of angel in my mouth?"
Crowley choked on his first sip. "I had to ask." He quietly sat down on the sofa, propping his naked feet up on the coffee table, wiggling his toes. He took another gulp. "When did you arrive?"
Beelzebub shrugged absentmindedly. "Dunno. A few hours ago." They shovelled more cake into their mouth but kept talking through it. "We were stargazing."
"Cute." The other demon yawned. "The streetlights turn off after 2AM. Upside of the countryside, really." He'd never been a morning person, it took him quite a while to fully wake up every time he slept. He scratched at his chest and smiled, his mind going back to his own pleasant happenings of the previous night. "You shouldn't eat Aziraphale's cake though, he might smite you."
"He gave me the cake before he went out." They pointed their fork at Crowley. "Unlike you asshole, he's rather hospitable."
"Can't argue with that." The demon acknowledged and drank more coffee. "But what's with angels being up so early. Full of blessed zest for action."
"I know." Beelzebub sighed. "Look at him." They gestured at the window, to where Gabriel stood in the garden working out.
As if on queue, the archangel took off his shirt to wipe his sweaty face with it, chiselled chest shining in the morning sun, short hair dishevelled. His grey sweatshorts were hanging dangerously low, exposing his hip bones.
"So much vanity for an angel." Beelzebub bit their lip.
"You're so gross." The other demon wrinkled his nose.
"You just have no taste in men."
"Aziraphale tastes fine." Crowley quipped defensively. "Wait." He frowned, sleep still clogging the already lacklustre filter between his brain and mouth. "That came out wrong. I need more caffeine."
"Right." Beelzebub cocked a knowing brow at Crowley.
The resident angel of the South Downs had been on his way back from a bit of early shopping. A woven basket hung from his elbow, filled with produce and fresh baked goods, some still warm. Baguettes should not be allowed to smell this enticing. Bless the French.
"Oh my!" The woman accompanying Aziraphale exclaimed as they reached the gate. Her eyes fell upon the exercising ethereal being with sublime muscle structure inside the garden walls. "Alex, do tell, who is that?"
"Ah, him." He gestured vaguely at the man doing stretches in his garden. Who'd have thought that he was that flexible. "That would be Gabriel, I used to work for him." He couldn't decide which one of them he ought to reprimand first, politely and discreetly, of course. Mrs Driscoll for leering so shamelessly or the archangel for being an unnecessary show-off.
As it did turn out, he didn't have to do either.
The Prince of Hell saw the supposed neighbour talking with Aziraphale and the way she gave their archangel a once over, view dragging slowly. They stepped out of the terrace's glass door, frilly red blouse and black boyfriend jeans. Beelzebub walked over to Gabriel, hooking two fingers into his waistband, pulled him closer to then look Mrs Driscoll straight in the eye as they licked the sweat off Gabriel's bicep.
They smack their lips and mouthed ‘mine’ at her.
"What was that for?" Gabriel asked as he pulled his earbuds out with an expression somewhere between intrigue and confusion.
"For your own good, believe me." Beelzebub let their fingers linger and creep around his waist before sliding them upwards across the taut skin of the angel's abdomen and chest. It was only then that they heard the music coming from the headphones.
The demon closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Did he always smell this good? "Gabriel?"
"Gabriel, what the actual fuck. Are you listening to Nickelback?"
"What of it?" The archangel reached for the hand that was splayed above his human-enough heart.
Beelzebub looked up at him from hooded eyes. "I didn't know I could love you even more."
Gabriel flushed bright red, all the way down to his pectorals.
"You two are disgusting!" Crowley yelled from the living room.
"I don't want to be a bother, but I have to say you need names." Aziraphale had declared as he was setting the kitchen table for a light lunch come noon. Pumpkin soup and various tiny rolls, some with sesame, olives, spices and cheese baked into them. "The neighbours are starting to notice you around." Despite vehement objections, he set up a fourth set of a black soup plate and golden spoon.
One day Gabriel will eat, judging by the way Beelzebub was scowling at him from across the table.
"I used to go by Ezra Fell among humans for the longest time, as it is close to my God-given name, but, you have o admit, A. Z. Fell was just too clever for a bookshop keeper to let that chance pass. It's the alphabet, A to Z." Aziraphale chuckled at his joke.
Crowley rolled his eyes affectionately. "You're adorable."
Aziraphale smiled at his husband with fluttering eyes and took the seat next to Beelzebub. "So, what names are you going to pick?"
"You have one." Crowley addressed the archangel while dramatically adding a pinch of nutmeg to the still cooking soup. "You buy clothes. You must have a credit card."
"None of your business." Gabriel said pointedly.
"What's the name on it?" Crowley asked, taking a bit of joy in the irritation of his guest.
"None of your business!" He repeated, his violet eyes imploring the stark blue ones of his partner for any kind of support.
"It kinda is, since you keep inviting yourselves." Crowley kept prodding.
Beelzebub leaned onto their elbows on the table, holding Gabriel's gaze. "You already have a name for me in your head, don't you."
A quick facade of a disarming smile appeared on his face. "No, I don't."
The Lord of Flies looked at him as if they were able to read his fine print. "Spill it."
"No." Gabriel flicked a finger at the golden spoon in front of him.
"Dove, I swear." Beelzebub quirked a brow in warning.
The archangel leaned back, one hand fiddling with the corner of his bamboo fibre placemat. "It's stupid."
"It fits, then." Crowley smirked.
"Crowley, hush." Aziraphale chastised softly.
The Prince of Hell raised their chin, challenging the archangel. "Tell me."
Silence fell over the room.
"That's Italian for--" Crowley starts.
"It's short for Izabella." Gabriel interrupted quickly. "With a Z."
"How pretentious." Beelzebub smiled at him.
Crowley could see the appeal. A hidden endearment. Not that much hidden. As hidden as calling Aziraphale angel, really.
"You bastard." Crowley, too, smiled at the archangel.
Having two demons approve of his decision was rather irritating. "We're all bastards."
"I mean it." He exclaimed. "What is the definition of 'bastard'?"
"A child born outside of wedlock." The prince provided.
Gabriel leaned onto the table and lowered his voice. "God never married."
Aziraphale's fake exasperated gasp was something to behold.
"First of all, we were created, not born." Beelzebub held up their hand to stop Gabriel from elaborating. "Second, stop trying to distract us. Show me your wallet." Their hand was held out towards Gabriel, palm open and demanding.
Crowley placed the pot of soup between the entities at the table and started filling three of their dishes.
"Why are you such an uncooperative little shit today?" The prince had picked up their spoon and pointed it at the angel.
"It's my wallet!" Gabriel almost growled.
"Are you scared I'd steal your money? I can conjure up whatever funds I need, you do know that."
Crowley kissed Aziraphale's cheek, whispering bon appetit to him before he sat down next to the archangel with a bit of a flail.
"Here, my Lord." There was a wallet being handed from one demon to the other.
"Thank you, Crowley."
"You fiends! Did he just pickpocket me?" Gabriel padded at the hoodie he had hung over his chair's back. "Aziraphale, do something!"
"Gabriel, please understand that I won't stand in the way of a quest to find the truth. I do wonder what your human name is." He blew at his spoonful, mirth curling his lips.
"You've got to be kidding me."
Beelzebub did not comment on the picture of themselves they found tucked away among bills. When did Gabriel even take that? They filed that question away for later and pulled out one of the credit cards.
"Oh, dove." They practically beamed. "You angels have no imagination."
"Why are you even calling me that?" Lunch was absolutely irksome. He had to watch as Beelzebub showed his card to their hosts.
"Because you put the D in love." The Prince of Hell said, winking at him.
All eyes went into the direction the archangel's crotch hidden under the table.
"Beelzebub has a point." Aziraphale said in between savouring his food and not-so-secretly playing footsie with his husband.
"A big one." Crowley chimed in, grinning.
"Can we please drop it?" Gabriel crossed his arms in that obnoxious way that made his biceps bulge.
"Of course, Mr Smith." Beelzebub lilted as they gave said Mr Smith his wallet back and started on their own soup. "Just one last question." They added, barely having swallowed. "Why do you have that thing on, constantly? I thought angels, in general, didn't make an effort."
"It's fashionable." Gabriel answered as if it were a perfectly plausible thing to say.
"That is not the reason I had expected." Aziraphale responded with wonder.
"I like my suits tailored, not miracled. There would be questions if I were lacking. Making the effort every time I came to Earth was quite bothersome, so I kept it." He shrugged. "It's convenient."
"I'd rather say you became attached." The other angel observed.
"I see a pattern of Gabriel getting attached to dicks." Crowley pointed his spoon at Beelzebub.
"Crowley, my dear, really." He poked his husband into his calf under the table.
"Back to names. What is the A and Z, then? Besides bordering on childish."
The angel dabbed at his mouth with a cream-coloured napkin before he spoke. "Alexander Zachary Fell."
"Alexander most likely to be reminiscent for the great library." Beelzebub pondered before sticking an entire miniature olive roll into their mouth.
Aziraphale nodded, spoon between his lips.
"Why Zachary?" Gabriel asked, tentatively.
"You remember him, don't you? What you did to him? You told him that his wife was to be with child, which seemed an impossible task as they had been trying for many years. The poor man was rendered mute until the day his son was born and named John. Until your command had been fulfilled."
Gabriel fell silent. The unspoken I wasn't allowed to speak of my love because of you hung heavy between them.
Crowley clapped his hands. "Back to the issue. Last name for you, Bella?"
"Smith." The other demon mumbled around another roll, this one laced with oregano and paprika.
"No. You're not married." Their host declined them the obvious shortcut.
"As if Smith's are all married. It's more of a blanket name." They tore another roll in half out of curiosity to what it might be mixed with. "Anyhow, you're still Crowley, he's still Fell. So what."
"No, I'm not. My full name is Anthony Jacob Crowley-Fell, not at your service." He bows with a flourish as far as his position at the table let him.
"That's a mouthful." The Lord of Flies deadpanned.
Aziraphale reached for his husband's hand. "He doesn't do things half-bottomed."
"Yeah, he looks like a full-on bottom to me." Beelzebub remarked with another smirk.
"Why the name Anthony?" Gabriel inquired, steering away from the mental images he never had asked for.
"Most importantly, why Jacob?"
"He was an interesting bloke, that Jacob. Was quite the trickster as well, to be fair. Then there was this occasion when he wrestled with God Herself and got away with nothing more than a hurt hip." Crowley decidedly would not answer to why he picked Anthony.
"Right." Gabriel glowered at him.
"I have to admit, I like your names. There is history in them." Beelzebub helped themselves to seconds of the soup. "And then there is Gabriel Smith." They snickered, certainly being in a good mood.
"Don't you laugh, you don't have a better name yourself." The archangel huffed in his defence.
"Yet." They dipped a small poppy seed roll into the soup. "I'll think of something."
Later that day, while Crowley was painting his nails black, because apparently that's metal, especially on toenails, Beelzebub, with their head bedded on their angel's lap, was flipping through a magazine neither resident of the cottage had bought or any interest in.
"Why is it called a 'man bun'?" They held the magazine up so the other demon could take a look.
"Well." Crowley began and waved air onto his nails. "Only manly men with beards and a buzzcut on the sides get to wear it. I thought that trend was dead already."
"Humans are stupid." Beelzebub was up in an instant, restlessness in every limb. "They need to be reminded that they can do whatever the Hell they want." They grabbed their leather jacket from an armchair with one hand, the other crumbling the offending stack of glossy paper. "Use their damned free will."
Gabriel watched them bristle, not entirely sure what was happening.
"Get up. Crowley, take me to your hairdresser." The Prince of Hell all but throws the magazine at him. Crowley miracled his nail polish dry with a snap and hurried after the demon into the hallway.
"Gabriel." Beelzebub called out. "Gabriel!" They appeared in the doorframe, Crowley behind them shuffling into his shoes, keys jingling.
"I accept your name."
"Huh?" Gabriel was nonplussed.
The demon lord rolled their eyes. "Bella."
"Oh." Realization hit him. Oh.
"Izabella Bubenstein." They made a grand gesture to themselves before turning back to the other demon already holding the door open. "Move it."
Gabriel could swear the prince's hips were a tad wider now.