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Things that Happen When You Aren't Paying Attention

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The thing about Adam Young, on That day especially, was that he was an eleven year old human boy, who knew everything. But, for the most part, he knew everything the way an eleven year old human knows things. Oh, he was a very bright human, definitely a wise one relative to his tender years, but still, an eleven year old human boy. He rather had to be, for it all to work out as it did. So while he may have known, in the part of him that knew everything, that Angels weren’t at all like people, he also knew, in the part of him that was doing the driving, that Angels were basically people with wings. So when his power was building Aziraphale’s new body, his mind had a bit of an influence about what went into a body. Aziraphale likely would have taken better stock of himself, but there were Horsemen, and this surprisingly nice young anti-christ, and he just had other things on his mind. When you are pretty sure you are about to die, you generally don’t take much time to consider if you’ve gotten your tie right. On the bus ride home Aziraphale’s mind was caught entirely in the last prophecy, and his body, left to its own devices, was enacting a slow motion collapse into the demon next to him. He only became aware of this when Crowley moved his arm out from under him. Their entwined hands had been so nice, but he guessed that was a bit much to ask for the whole way home. “Oh dear, so sorry…” he began. Crowley continued to brood out the window.

“You should be, my bloody arms gone to sleep.” He sounded gruff but he wrapped the “sleepy” appendage around the angel and pulled him in against his side. Aziraphale sighed and leaned in. The ride to London passed then, in a churning mixture of dread, hope and a glimpse at a new kind of profound comfort.

Crowley opened the door to his flat and immediately sauntered in, leaving Aziraphale to close the door behind himself. It could have felt astonishingly rude, just leaving a guest to themselves without any invitation to come further, but the angel knew it was the opposite. You don’t show a man around a place he already belongs in, and despite hardly ever having been there before, Aziraphale belonged in the flat, because it was Crowley’s and from this point on, they each belonged wherever the other was. That there was nothing of him in it didn’t much signify, there was hardly anything of Crowley in it either, but there was Crowley himself, and that was all that mattered. They were, indeed, their own side. Heaven and Hell and them. The Earth, he supposed. That had been what it had been about, saving the earth, and all the humans, and all the wonderful complexity. And each other, if they were very very lucky.

Crowley came back from the kitchen with two glasses and a rather small bottle.

“I’ve got a Malivoire Shiraz I’ve been saving,” he wiggled the bottle “frozen on the vine and everything.” It was a sweet gesture, though Aziraphale knew better than to say so just at the moment. Crowley had never shared his sweet tooth, so the bottle could only have been acquired with him in mind. He smiled softly. “That sounds lovely.” Crowley pulled out the slightly less ornate chair from the corner for Aziraphale before draping himself bonelessly across his ridiculous throne. Which was just fine as that chair was facing away from the rather interesting statue with implications the angel was not quite ready to contemplate. The bottle continued to pour for an unreasonable amount of time, given its tiny size, but it’s not as if either of them were worried about misused power at this point.

“I just thought...,” Aziraphale started, stopped, blinked, and began again, “I just thought, which one is Mr. Young’s real son, do you think?” Crowley was staring at him, pupils almost round in the dim light. It seemed to take the question a moment to percolate its way through the layer of wine and into his consciousness.

“Oh, erm, our Warlock, I suppose. Had a bit of the look to him.” “Ah, yes. Then what of the Amearican diplomat’s son?”

Crowley thought about the fire. He thought about the timing. He thought about telling Aziraphale about those things. Then he thought about Sister Mary Loquacious.

“Adopted out, I expect. Records would have been lost in the fire,” he said, glad to have a plausible answer that he was willing to say aloud, and might even be true, for all he knew.

“I expect so, yes,” the angel gave a relieved sigh. “It’s amazing the Youngs never noticed their son had the wrong sort of face,” he mused. Then he sat bolt upright and looked at Crowley, who was staring back at him with wide eyes.

“Do you think?” “She couldn’t mean!” “That cunning old witch,” Crowley breathed.

“What good will it do to endure each other’s torments, though?” “Hastur wasn’t going on about torments when I escaped him,” Crowley replied. “And he really could have done.They are kind of our thing after all, and he’s considered an artist. Nah, he was much more direct, right on to the killing. I imagine your lot are feeling about the same.”

“Yes, well, as you say, we don’t much go in for tormenting Upstairs.” Crowley thought about who it was that had tossed them all in their pit, and wanted to disagree, but didn’t see the point in bringing it up now. “And what’s the only thing that can kill a demon?” Crowley was beginning to get excited.

“Holy items… Oh Yes, I see!” Aziraphael jumped up. Crowley held up a finger.

“Right. Theory is all well and good, but in practice. I mean how? How do we switch?”

“Possession.” The angel responded instantly. “Our corporeal vessels are basically bodies we are inhabiting, they aren’t really all that different. We could make the same modifications to any body if we were sole inhabitant.”

“There’s a catch, though. We are going to have to be convincing. They’ve known us for as long as we’ve existed, more or less. We have to convince them we’re who we appear to be. Do it so well they don’t try to look past the surface.” “Darling,” Aziraphale, excited, drunk, and feeling very daring, patted the demon’s cheek. “I hardly think anyone knows either of us half so well as we know each other by now.”

For a task so serious, Crowley laughed more in the next few hours than he had in the previous few centuries. Almost as soon as they had worked out how to possess each other’s bodies, Aziraphale had fallen flat on his arse when he misjudged the length of his new stride. Crowley laughed at him right up until he knocked over a vase turning around too close to a table, and forgetting that his own arse was several inches lower, and rather fuller than he was accustomed to. Aziraphale also kept doing this thing with his, well Crowley’s, face.

“What on earth are you doing? I absolutely do NOT go around looking like that!” “I’m trying to get your eyes to focus! Everything is either blurry or glowing.”

“Yeah, sorry that’s just what the world looks like with snake eyes. The glowing is either the UV or infrared.” Cowley held out the dark glasses he’d left on the table earlier. “You’ll find these a great help, my dear boy. [1] Specially enchanted.” Aziraphale almost dropped the glasses trying to grab them, his face suddenly flaming. Crowley cocked his head. “Did I not get the voice right? Lay it on too thick?”

“No, err, nahh,” the angel stammered a bit before falling into the looser cadence of Crowley’s speech. “Nahh, you had it. Took me by s’prise is all. This what I always look like to you? With the glowing?”

Crowley squirmed a bit, and found Aziraphale’s body much harder to squirm in. “Well, yes, it has to do with the spectrums you see. You are very warm, and white is very reflective in ultraviolet. Put on the glasses, do, they’ll make everything right.” Crowley found he was almost more uncomfortable having his cursed eyes seen through than seen. From the outside they looked odd, but several angels had odd eyes, too. From inside it was much clearer just how much of a mark of the animal they were, and much as he didn’t like Aziraphale thinking of them at all, and especially like that, he needed to be sure the angel understood what he’d be walkinging into. “Remember that lots of them down there will be like that. Have weird eyes, or other senses. Never assume they can’t be watching, even if you can’t see them or feel them.”

“They will only see what we mean them to see,” Aziraphale declared, attempting to sashay around the room in Crowley’s distracting loose limbed fashion. He felt the limbs of the corporation were, in fact, looser than he was accustomed to, but that still did not account for how very much Crowley tended to sway his ass.

“Oh come off it, I do not shimmy my butt that much!” the demon protested. “You most certainly do!” “I never did!” “You wiggle more that shape than as a snake!” Azirapale countered, before thinking that he might not want to admit, at quite this juncture, exactly how much of his attention he’d devoted to watching that particular wiggle.

“You might see better, if you recall that my body does need to blink from time to time,” he deflected. Crowley made exaggerated slow cat blinks back at him and folded his hands primly in his lap. Aziraphale tried to duplicate one of Crowley’s many sneers in response, then tested a few others. They all felt strange.

“I have no idea what you are trying to do with my face angel, but I’m sure I don’t ever do that. I think you are trying to do is this,” Crowley’s sneer looked very little like itself on Aziraphale’s face.

“I’ve been watching your face make that expression for 6,000 years, doing it with mine is hardly going to help. It’s hard to tell what I’m doing from this side of the face!”

“Very well, my dear,” Crowley miracled up a pair of mirrors for them to test their faces with. It was a bit hard to keep focus though, when Aziraphale kept making his face do such strange things. He caught a glimpse of himself in the other mirror then, watching the angel’s japes and was struck by the thought that he, perhaps, had seen that particular look on this face when the proper occupant was in it. Which was a thought full of possibilities so rich he found himself even more determined to survive.

“Think I’ve got your number now,” Aziraphale crowed. “Maybe I should splash around a bit, see how many of them I can catch?” The expression he gave should have been ridiculous. A not-quite-a-smile that turned sinister somewhere around the eyes. It should have been impossible to make something so cute and rabbit-like threatening. It was absolutely terrifying.

“Yes well,” Crowley adjusted his cuffs[2]

“Let’s not go too far, hmm? We want them scared into rationality, not out of it.” He thought he really was getting the hang of the beatific smile.

If faces had been a round of silly buggers, walking for more than a few steps was a combination of hilarious and horrifying that Crowley, for one, was not eager to repeat. They had both fallen flat more than a few times due to floors that were either too close or too far away. Feet were Entirely the Wrong Sizes. Aziraphale persisted in swinging his hips around in a fashion that the demon felt was well into parody[3].

The attempt at stairs would have taken years off Crowley’s life, if he’d had a definite lifespan. Aziraphale came down too hard on the first step, misjudging his leg, and Crowley missed his grab at him, because his arm had about 2 less inches than he expected. A quick miracle was all that saved him from real injury. The Angel shouting “Oh Fuck” on the way down was a further distration.

“Didn’t know you used profanity like that, Angel” Crowley jibed to cover his reaction at watching Aziraphale take any kind of fall.

“There is nothing profane about the act of love in the right context, my dear,” Aziraphale tried to project cool, but had been shocked into his own speech patterns, which could get them both killed if he didn’t watch it. Crowley’s mind was eating its own tail stuck on the implications he might draw from the casual yet firm conviction in the angel’s tone on that matter.

“Then why use it as a curse, my dear,” he found his mouth said with very little input from the higher brain functions.

“Well, ‘s just what you say, ‘innit,” Aziraphale forced himself back into Crowley’s speech patterns.

They retreated back to flat surfaces for a bit longer after that. A few plants and objets d’art paid the price of Aziraphale trying to teach the gavotte as an exercise in limb usage. They didn’t even make it to the kissing part, which was both a relief and a vexation.

Still, by the time false dawn was pearling the sky, they were as good a pair of duplicates as they could make themselves, and that was very good indeed. Aziraphale looked at the large clear puddle that still marked a corner of the flat Crowley had been avoiding. “Right. One last test then, and we’ll know this rubbish will actually work.” He summoned up a towel and bucket and headed over.

“Do start with the left hand, darling, I’m rather partial to the right,” Crowley instructed, trying to sound flippant, but not quite hitting the mark. Aziraphale repeated to himself that the corporations had no inherent connections to the beings who habitually wore them. What mattered was that he was an angel, and holy water was his to hold and use. It would not harm this body so long as he was its sole occupant. He reached out, left hand first though that was surely unnecessary, and began to use the towel to clean up the mess that looked like pure clear water, and had once been a demon. It felt no different than Holy Water ever did, and he turned to show Crowley his undamaged hand. “Right as rain,” he said. “Let’s go give them heaven.”

Footnotes

1It had not occurred to Aziraphale that he used that particular endearment with Crowley often enough for Crowley to have picked it up that much, and he was suddenly VERY glad Crowley, having slept through the Victorian era, didn’t know the full connotations of the phrasea, or perhaps very not glad. It was honestly rather confusing. [ return to text ]

2 No wonder Aziraphale was always fussing with his clothes, with this many layers, even perfectly tailored clothes seemed to always have some bit out of place. [ return to text ]

3In fact, the hip swinging was barely into the believable range. It was difficult, even in Crowley’s skin, to lead with his hips quite like that, though the indecent tightness of the trousers helped. It was hard not to wiggle just to try to take a step. [ return to text ]

Chapter Text

1110 BCE

“Samuel, Samuel,” Crowley called out, hiding just outside the door and well off the sanctified ground. He had to use an infernal miracle to cover up his cackling (definitely evil cackling and NOT giggling) as the boy got up AGAIN to wake the old man and ask what he wanted. These prophets were rather rubbish at seeing what was right in front of their faces. Someone who is fast asleep isn’t calling for you, that’s just sense. The old man is noticeably grumpier about sending the kid back to bed this time, and Crowley wonders how far he can drag the game out. It’s not such a bad job this, pestering the holy folks. Sure Dagon may be having fun getting worshiped, but being responsible for a whole kingdom of humans is so much work, and not half as funny as this.

He’s biding his time waiting for them both to get back to sleep before another round, when he feels the rushing wind of someone landing behind him. He turns, ready to tussle, but relaxes at the sight of the increasingly familiar face. The angel’s face is screwed up in a grimace that is increasingly less convincing the longer Crowley knows him.

“What are you doing here?” he whispers.

“Nothing for you to get in such a bother about, Angel, just a spot of fun. They really send you all the way over here to stop me being annoying?” Crowley defended himself. The angel gave an inelegant huff.

“I doubt I have access to enough miraculous power to accomplish that feat. No, I’ve business of my own here, and you are interfering.” Crowley shrugged.

“That is more or less the job description, Angel. Interfering is what we demons are for.”

“What do you mean, it’s what you are for? You were supposed to be for obeying, like the rest of us. You lot made the choice to stop.” Aziraphale gave him his best accusatory look. It wasn’t a very good one, comparatively.

“Yeah, see I’ve been wondering about that,” the demon mused. “I mean we’re not like them.” He gestured to the temple and the humans almost back to sleep within it. “Free will and all that, supposed to be their thing. So if we, as not humans, haven’t actually GOT free will, then how was falling our choice? By definition, we don’t actually HAVE any choices, in anything.” He raised an inquiring eyebrow at his celestial counterpart. “So annoying them, tempting them, all the stuff we do, it must be for as much of a reason as what you lot do. She does seem to like her tests.” He turned away and dropped the silence around the two of them.

“Samuel, Samuel,” he called again, but somehow watching the exhausted kid waking up the equally exhausted old man just wasn’t as funny anymore. The old man’s answer this time might have been blasphemous and shaken the kid’s faith, but the angel was right there to make good on the prophet’s advice. This time it was Aziraphale who called out to the child, who didn’t seem to note the difference in voices. Course when the angel actually manifested with the whole light show, most humans were doing well not to fall down blubbering, much less notice small details.

With his message delivered the angel receded to his more usual form and wrapped himself in shadow and silence that just happened to be big enough for the demon as well. Crowley gave a low whistle. “If She’s got you lot delivering messages like that, maybe I’m wrong and we aren’t needed for testing their strength after all. Making the poor kid be the one to tell him he’s still cursed cause his kids were assholes. And the daughter too, she didn’t even do anything!”

Aziraphale sat down heavily on the ground and leaned back against the wall. “I do hate it when I have to deliver these kinds of messages. She’s in a snit with them again, I’m afraid. I do wish they would learn better. She’s so very good to them when they can just behave. They keep driving Her to extreme measures, and we’re the ones who have to deliver on it.”

“Seems to me,” Crowley answered “That an omnipotent and omniscient being can hardly be forced into anything by what these poor bastards do.” Aziraphale gave him a scandelized look and started to open his mouth. Crowley didn’t really want to fight with the angel, and it was clear that his opinions on this topic weren’t going to make a dent, so he held up his hands in surrender.

“Fine, fine, I’ll drop it. Come on, job’s done for the night. What do you say we both knock off for a bit.” He held out his hand. “I’ve got some of last decade’s date wine tucked away, want to help me get rid of it?”

The angel eyed him suspiciously for a bit before relenting and taking the offered hand and allowing himself to be hauled back to his feet. “I could do with a drink, after all that,” he admitted. “But only if you hold your tongue on all the sedition.”

“I already said I would do,” the demon protested. “No more tempting for tonight, I’m off hours now.” The two of them walked companionably out of town looking for just the right rock under which Crowley had hidden the wine.

Chapter Text

“To The World” sounds almost exactly like “I love you” when spoken in the right way, on the right day, by the right person. The warmth in Aziraphale’s voice when he said it, was all of those. Space for the two of them, and the whole of creation, for the first time since time, was dizzying. It was a level of freedom that seemed unbelievable, fantastical, absolutely human in its scope. It felt like the flying that, for creatures with wings, they did all too little of. Flying got you noticed. Loving would have gotten them noticed too[1] . The entire dinner had felt like a revelation. No one particular thing was any different than the last time they had dinner here, and also everything was different.

They left the Ritz and Aziraphale had linked his arm through Crowley’s and turned them towards the bookshop. Even this was not completely new, though it had been almost 200 years since they had walked like this. That part of the way society changed while Crowley was hibernating really was a shame. As it was though, they hardly caught anyone’s interest now either; this was Soho, after all. Crowley felt so light on his feet, only the disinterest of those around him convinced him his wings were still tucked into his larger self where they usually belonged. Walking together was not new, but doing so with intent, and no masks or excuses, was entirely new.

Aziraphale, for his part, was more subdued. The freedom to be with Crowley openly was wonderful, and only now that the fear was gone did he truly appreciate how much the impending end of the world had weighed on him these last 11 years. Yet he was also still reeling from the refusal of God to intervene, and of a final break with Heaven. Crowley had Fallen for far less than he had done, these last two days. Heaven itself had consorted with Hell to destroy them, for the crime of consorting with each other. Yet he hadn’t Fallen. For all Crowley’s talk of sauntering vaguely downward, he was quite sure that Falling was something one generally noticed. If he hadn’t Fallen, then he had done what She wanted, but needed to do it on his own, perhaps? But the rest of Heaven had been ready to destroy him over it, had ushered what they thought was him right into hellfire. And THEY hadn’t Fallen either. It was all well and good to spout off about the Ineffable Plan, but it was harder to actually FEEL it. Ineffability had meant to him that he should follow orders even if he couldn’t see why. If now it meant that he should do what felt right regardless of orders, then had he been wrong before?

Aziraphale’s world had always been very stable. The world had rules. Good and evil, black and white, as plain as the wings on your back. You didn’t need to think about right and wrong, it was told to you. Oh, he found his loopholes and his exceptions, but that was working around the rules, not breaking them. He skirted sins by a hair’s edge and could run a canon lawyer in circles, but he fundamentally had been a loyal angel. His greatest weakness had always been Crowley. He had seemed so baffled on the wall, and sad for the human’s punishments. He had been so concerned for the children of the flood. He thought Aziraphale didn’t know how many he saved. Perhaps the question of how so good a person could have Fallen in the first place should have made him doubt more, doubt sooner. He had built a wall in his mind around the idea, much like the one he had so desperately shored up around his heart.

The entire polarity of his universe had reversed. When Crowley asked him to help save the world he’d been right. If Hell wanted it destroyed, then fighting that was right. But then Heaven wanted it too. And even God seemed to have turned Her back on the whole affair. His glaring weakness was now his only strength. His one uncertainty now the only sure thing. He leaned into Crowley a bit more, needing his sure presence. Crowley pulled him closer still and Aziraphale drank in the love wrapping around him. The emanations were weak, but he knew the emotion was not. He’d once thought that it was[2], but he knew now that it was the projection that was weakened, not the source. He’d seen the truth of it in that bar, but really he’d known for such a long time.

Another lie of Heaven: demons can’t love. God is love and the Fallen cannot touch Her, so they cannot touch love. Yet he’d known Crowley loved, loved him, for centuries. He’d known and he’d hidden it from himself. And he’d repaid that love so abominably. He’d lied about his feelings, not only to Crowley but to himself. Pushing aside that beautiful, impossible love so many times, and going so far as to throw it back in his face three times. He’s almost surprised, in retrospect, that he hadn’t heard a rooster when he’d sent Crowley away outside the bookshop only yesterday morning[3]. And here his serpent was; wrapped around him and joyful as Aziraphale had never seen him. He felt like he could fly apart from the strength of the love he felt, and horribly guilty at the same time. For his actions in not being worthy of such love, and for his melancholia now. He was free, the world was saved, and he really had no excuse to be carrying on like this even to himself.

His thoughts chased themselves like this all the way back to the shop. He had been leaning into Crowley closer the whole walk and so they were stumbling over each other on the way in the door. They headed to the back room; suddenly though, he didn’t know what to do next. Of course they would come back to the shop. They always came here. But now what, drink themselves silly? If Crowley wanted to talk what could he say? All his fears were things the demon had surely come to terms with millennia ago. He must have hesitated too long though because Crowley stepped back from him and he could practically feel the walls coming up around his friend. Walls his own behavior had taught Crowley he needed.

“Angel are you alright?” Concern was written on every line of his face, even with his eyes still hidden. “Is it something I -”

“NO” It burst out of him with far more force than he intended, more softly he repeated. “No, my dearest, it’s the furthest thing from your fault. These last few days have left me dreadfully wrong-footed and my world’s gone topsy turvy, but the one sure thing in it is you. You have been here for me so patiently, for all of time, and I’m only now seeing fully how dreadfully I’ve treated you. No, don’t say I haven’t, I know I have.” He cut off the protests as soon as Crowley started to open his mouth. He slid his hands along the demon’s face and held him looking at him, his near glowing eyes showing slightly behind his enchanted glasses. “I Love You, Crowley. Completely. As much as I have ever loved anyone or anything, including this world and God Herself. I know you can’t feel it anymore, and I haven’t at all acted like it, but I love you more than I can say, and I will devote the next six thousand years to finding ways to show you.”

Crowley was trembling, eyes wide behind their shields, pupils gone fat and dilated. He slid his hands up to mirror Aziraphale and brought their foreheads together gently. They stood there like that in a frozen time until he could gather himself to speak. He breathed out slowly into the close space between them.

“You know I love you. I know demons aren’t supposed to be able to love, and you can’t feel it either, but I’ve tried to show you in so many ways, for so long. And I knew you loved me; I could hear it in your voice.” His voice was as low and rough as it had ever been. “Yet to hear you say it. Angel, Aziraphale, I cannot remember a single thing in existence or before it, nor imagine anything to come that means as much to me as those words on your lips.” There was so much emotion, love and joy, pure exultation, racing through him that he didn’t know what to do with it. He raised his head to kiss where he had just had his forehead pressed. He kissed each eyelid, the angel lowering them for him. He kissed the tip of his nose and delighted in the smile that won him. Finally, with a soft reverence and the solemnity of an oath, he kissed Aziraphale’s lips. A soft press meant to convey the full force of his devotion. He pulled back to gaze again in wonder at his, HIS angel, really and finally here in his arms.

Aziraphale regarded him in turn, equally feeling the splendor of the moment. He let all his other worries drop away. This moment was for him and Crowley alone. His beloved drew him like a lodestone, and he resented the inches and air between them. “I can feel it. Like it’s very far away, but I have known and done nothing for far too long. I could never doubt you, my dearest.” He drew Crowley back to him. If the first kiss had been a reverent oath, this kiss was what it promised. His fingers slid from cheeks to hair as their lips fit together. He teased Crowley’s lips with his tongue until they opened for him on a slight gasp. Crowley’s tongue meeting his was like nothing he ever felt, both in the fire it ignited in him, but also in the unique taste and feel of it. Long and dexterous, Crowley wound it around his own, forked tips dancing in his mouth. He blessed his lack of breath as he pressed closer, a long line of blazing connection from chest to thigh, capturing one of Crowley’s legs between his own. Small inconsequential but lovely sounds were slipping free from both of them.[4]

Crowley came eagerly to him, attempting with his human body to envelope him as his serpent form might. He was so lost in the moment that it took time for him to notice the growing hardness pressed to his thigh. He pulled back a moment, still half wild but wanting to be sure.

“Now who’s going fast, angel?[5]” he teased

“What?” Aziraphale blinked at him. He pressed a bit harder with his leg to direct his point. The angel’s eyes went wide.

“I- I’m not doing that!” the angel protested. Crowley raised an eyebrow.

“Pretty sure you are.” He slid his leg again for emphasis. Aziraphale groaned.

“Right, I, er, clearly it is there, and ohhhh, doing what it is doing,” he stammered. “But I’m not, I didn’t intend for it to be there. It’s - existing on its own accord.” Confusion was quickly overtaking the desire on his face. Crowley moved back, giving him space.

“Are you alright? What can I do?” He didn’t know what to do with his hands. He’d dropped them when he moved, then set one back, gripping Aziraphale’s shoulder.

“I’m... it’s just very odd,” Aziraphale had the gaze of someone who was definitely looking at something, but it was something no one else would be able to see.

“Can you make it go away? Wait! If you do, will you be able to get it back again?” The answer to that question was, Crowley realised, rather more important to him than he’d expected.

“Yes… and er” The angel looked even more worried, then relaxed just a bit, “Yes. If I think about it, I can make it go away, but if I stop, it comes back. I still have control over my vessel, it’s just gone and gotten itself a new resting state and I don’t know how.”

“Well, you just noticed it now, when’s the last time you were sure you didn’t have it?”

“It’s not my blessed keys, I don’t check it regularly.”

“You don’t carry keys.”[6]

“That is Entirely[7] beside the point!” Aziraphale threw up his hands and began to pace.

“Well I didn’t notice anything, but I also didn’t go mucking about down there when I was driving.” Crowley turned to track him.

“Very considerate dear..”

“But I would have thought I’d have noticed it.”

“Well, I’d have thought the same!”

“Right. Well you got yourself discorporated so it couldn’t have.. been before…” Crowley trailed off looking at Aziraphale who stopped in his tracks, eyes going slowly wide.

“I got discorporated, and ADAM[8] made me a new body. I guess he wasn't really thinking about the particulars of angelic bodies. It was a bit on the fly." Aziraphale stood for a bit, then shrugged. “Well, I suppose that’s that sorted,” he returned his attention to Crowley. “Though it did rather kill the mood, I suppose,” he said sadly.

The demon closed some of the distance he’d put between them.

“A resurrection isn’t impossible. But now that we’re both thinking a bit more clearly, where do you want things to go?” Crowley watched him intently. “I was just having you on a bit about going fast, but that’s when I thought you’d done it on purpose. I’m perfectly happy with whatever you want,” he looked down and away, “though I’d much prefer you not ask me to leave just yet.” Aziraphale leaned forward and kissed him on the side of his neck, just below his jaw. The kiss ended with a hint of teeth, and Crowley gasped.

“I’ve had quite enough of slow I think, darling. If it’s not too presumptuous on what you want, I should like to try fast. And I very much do not want you to leave, for any reason[9] .” Aziraphale’s voice was steady though he had begun blushing furiously. “Though I do think, perhaps, we should retire upstairs. I don’t use it much, but I do have a bed there.”

Crowley slid his hand down to Aziraphale’s then lifted it to his lips, kissing the angel’s fingers just at the base, and bowed with a flourish he’d learned in the sixteenth century and always rather fancied.

“Lead the way.”

Aziraphale did. Following him up the spiraling stairs, Crowley found he quite enjoyed watching the way the high steps made the loose trousers the angel favored interestingly tighter[10]. He led Crowley to the small room that held little more than the bed with its bookshelf headboard, lamp, masses of thick comforters, and back pillows. If Aziraphale had ever had more energetic uses for the furniture, it was clear that these days it was mostly a warm, comfortable place to read. Crowley licked his lips and his tongue came back soaked in the scent of books, chocolate, and Aziraphale. He followed the main scent back to its source, wanted his angel close to him again. He wound him in his arms again and kissed him softly. Another gentle press of lips that lingered sweetly before its urgency began to grow.

Aziraphale was again the one to move the kiss deeper, to press their bodies together more tightly. He nipped at Crowley’s lips, pulled the lower one into his mouth with just enough teeth to make the demon dizzy. The kiss went on and on, finding every way their mouths could fit together without any need to breath getting in their way. He broke the kiss only to begin exploring. He trailed kisses along Crowley’s jaw, blew softly behind his ear and felt the whole body shiver that went through him. He kissed the mark of his other form and heard the demon whimper. “I love you,” breathed across his ear and Crowley nearly collapsed against him. Aziraphale maneuvered him onto the edge of the bed and pulled back just long enough to drop his coat and waistcoat behind him. When the demon’s jacket, waistcoat, and thin scarf were gone he’d gotten ahead, showing that there truly hadn’t been anything else under what should have been his outer garments. The sheer salaciousness of it, so much more than simply wearing the single layers so common these days, spurred Aziraphale onward.

He ran his hands down the expanse of creamy chest now available to him, and then brought them back up, using his nails this time and the absolutely stunned look on Crowley’s face thrilled him to his toes. He followed his fingers with his lips, tracing the line of a collar bone with his tongue. Crowley’s hands fumbled with the buttons on his shirt.

“How much do you like this shirt, Angel?”

“I have others, it’s not like the coat.”

Buttons flew as Crowley yanked the shirt apart and pulled it off[11]. He brought Aziraphale back up to his lips, pressed chest to now bare chest, the warmth of body to body thrumming through them. Crowley pulled off his glasses and the angel blazed to his eyes, heat coursing over him, making the rest of the room all but disappear. He echoed the actions on his chest earlier down Aziraphale’s back. When Crowley’s nails scraped across the place where his wings hid Aziraphale jerked into him. His renewed hardness felt like a brand against Crowley’s thigh. He let his nails lengthen and continued lavishing his attention on the spot. The angel writhed and let out the most beautiful breathy cries. The demon was desperately greedy for more of the sounds, more of the look of hunger and delight on his angel’s face. He moved his lips to the spot below the jaw that had felt so amazing to him earlier, while freeing his hands to deal with belt and buttons. He went slowly there, but Aziraphale moved to help making it clear he was in favor of the move. Trousers and pants went down together.

There are many things that can send one to their knees before someone else, and it felt as though every good and true one of them was coursing through Crowley as he went to the ground at his beloved’s feet. He leaned forward and breathed the angel in before daring to touch him. His hands ran down Aziraphale’s sides, tracing his hips and filling with the fullness that had fascinated him on the stairs. He held on while he teased the tip of Aziraphale with his tongue, forked tips dancing across hot skin before curling almost completely around him, just below the head.

“Oh, oh my dear that is exquisite.” That sentence had been entirely too coherent and Crowley increased his efforts. He worked his tongue in a spiral, tightening and loosening it in the same way he used his other body to move. He worked the spirals so the excess length rubbed each of his cheeks in turn. When he felt Aziraphale’s control begin to slip, sounds that weren’t quite words spilling free and hips trying to move in his hands, he finally took the angel into his mouth.

The spiraling heat of Crowley’s incredibly dexterous tongue was like nothing Aziraphale had ever felt before, the alternating spots of heat and cold, touched and untouched making stillness so difficult. But the grip on his hips told him Crowley wanted him to be still and just feel so he poured his considerable control into doing as he was bidden. He let a desperate whine escape when he was pressed away from where he very much wanted to be. The softness of Crowley’s cheek and the sight of his face marked with the leaking trails left behind were thrilling on their own, and he both wanted them to continue but also wanted the wet heat so close and yet denied him. He couldn’t help the longing spasm that went through him as he was again denied Crowley’s mouth. It was apparently just that loss of control the demon wanted and he was finally drawn into the mouth he’d been yearning for.

Crowley pulled Aziraphale in and pressed his throat closed around him, doing a credible imitation of a gag reflex.

“Don’t… don’t hurt yourself,” the angel gasped trying to pull back. Crowley let him, but looked up with a grin. Of course he wouldn’t have to pretend to human limits with Aziraphale, and even less pretend to discomfort and distress. This was so different from anything he’d done before, all love and joy in each other and it filled him with a spinning feeling of love and desperation he didn’t know what to do with. He let his smile go soft before making the complicated movement that let his human jaw echo his serpent form. His throat went loose and he swallowed the angel to the root in one movement. Fully seated he began the rolling throat constrictions that would let him swallow down anything he could fit in his mouth. One unending movement that also pressed the flesh in his mouth against the organ there sensitive enough to gain a scent from tasted air[12]. Aziraphale flooded his senses, the scent of him so incredibly close and overwhelming. He gave himself over to it, losing himself in being here, being this close, surrendering in complete worship of his beloved. His gaze stayed locked on the angel’s face as his hands fell to his sides.

That impossible slide down Cowley’s throat stole Aziraphale’s breath, silencing him till he remembered that sounds needed air. It felt like Crowley’s throat was having an orgasm around him and it just went on and on. The glorious feeling seemed to hold him suspended in an unending moment of perfect pleasure. He could hardly look at the adoration shining in Crowley’s face, but looking away was even more impossible. When his hands dropped away Aziraphale took it as permission to begin moving. He reached down and held his head, thumbs brushing the side of his face, and fleetingly wished his hair was still long.

“Can I? Please, love, oh please please,” he begged and the hummed reply vibrated straight to the core of him. He shouted and that encouraged more humming, the rolling swallow never ceasing around him, even as he abandoned control and let his hips jerk out and back. He felt the muscles in Crowley’s neck go limp except for that humming swallow, so that his grip was the only thing holding the demon up. He brushed his thumbs across Crowley’s hollowed cheeks where he held his head. The absolute surrender in every line of Crowley’s face and form was thrilling. This being who defied heaven and hell alike, on his knees and completely happy to be there. His hips picked up speed, and he couldn’t even try to hold back. He wasn’t going to last, he wanted so much more. He felt the crescendo pull him pressing deep and holding Crowley’s shining gaze as he spilled down that ever swallowing throat. A muffled groan curled around the aftershocks till he was able to pull himself free.

Crowley was completely overwhelmed. He reeled from the intensity of everything he was feeling. He wanted, he wasn’t sure what, wanted Aziraphale back in his mouth, wanted to be touching him in every possible way, wanted, he just wanted until he was dizzy with it and had no idea what to do with it. He clutched at the angel’s legs until he felt himself bodily lifted and deposited on the bed. Aziraphale seemed to have a better idea of what to do, finally getting his socks and shoes off and doing the same for Crowley. He shivered and whined at the gentle hands on his feet and held his arms out in entreaty. Aziraphale came back to him and held him. He sought the angel’s lips and kissed him hungrily. This fanned the flames of want more than it quenched them though, and he writhed in the embrace.

“Yes, yes, love me too,” Aziraphale said, “I’ll not waste time with preliminaries, let’s just do this another way,” A brief effort of will reconfigured his body, dismissing for now the exhausted member and producing a lovely quim in its place, appearing already dripping wet with the desire still coursing through him. He then addressed himself to ridding Crowley of his ridiculously tight trousers. He was pleased and rather titillated to find that the demon eschewed undergarments here as well, but what was also missing stopped the angel mid motion.

“Crowley?” he asked carefully.

“Ngk?’ the demon’s reply was less than articulate or helpful.

“Did you not want to…” Aziraphale gestured vaguely at him.

“What?” Crowley looked down at himself and blushed to nearly match his hair. He’d been so enthralled with everything he’d forgotten to make himself a bloody prick! As soon as he manifested the thing all the crazed feeling inside him seemed to rush directly into it. He was instantly, achingly hard, but at least now his body was telling him what to do with all this frantic feeling. He turned to Aziraphale, pulled him into a kiss while rolling them over till he rested between the angel’s luscious thighs. He dragged his prick through the soaking folds of Aziraphale’s body, drenching it in his wetness and rubbing across the hard nub. The angel bucked below him.

“Please, Crowley, don’t tease,” he nearly sobbed, “I need you inside me so desperately.”

The words were like a burning brand in his heart and mind, words he could not have imagined coming from those lips only hours ago. He held Aziraphale’s gaze as he slowly sank into him, the feeling so perfect it sent matching shudders through both of them.

“Ohhh, yessss,” Aziraphale cried with a sibilant hiss that would not have been misplaced in Crowley’s mouth, and he bent to reclaim the sound and the mouth that issued it. He curled his long form forward to the kiss while pulling his hips back slowly an a drawn out drag, but the angel had other ideas. He set his heels to the backs of Crowley’s hips and impaled himself full force on his lover, spilling more cries into their joined mouths. He was already beginning to shake, clawing at Crowley’s back. He broke away from the kiss, “Don’t you dare stop,” were the last coherent words he got out before he started to come undone.

Crowley didn’t stop, he pulled Aziraphale up until he was bent almost double under him and did everything he could to keep the babble of sound pouring into their joined mouths. He felt the way Aziraphale was spasming about him, slick walls squeezing like they were trying to swallow him as he had swallowed earlier. He put his hands on the angel’s knees pushing them further apart so he could move deeper, faster. He broke the kiss and pulled up so he could get a new angle and Aziraphale howled and surged up to meet him.

The tremors of his second orgasm were still thundering through Aziraphale and he could already feel the third building. Crowley followed his body’s lead perfectly, adjusting to fill him exactly where he needed it with only his movements to guide him as coherent speech was a distant memory at this point. He had thought he had known love before, but never like this. This was all the heat and desperate closeness of human love, combined with being known in a way only another eternal being could know him, as only Crowley could know him. A litany of “yes, please, love you,” and “Crowley” fell from him, all of the words meaning the same thing.

Crowley started to shiver, the roiling inside him welled up higher and higher. He felt like his entire being might fly apart and nothing had ever felt so good. Aziraphale in his arms and surrounding him, he was lost in the ecstasy of being united. He started to lose the rhythm of his movements. “Azi… Azi…” he couldn’t get the full name out, but his angel understood anyway.

“Yes! Yes yes yes,” he slid one hand into the space between them and only the lightest press of a finger was needed to, with a groan, set off those glorious rolling spasms again, and this time they did swallow Crowley whole. He felt like any moment he might try to again reside in Aziraphale’s flesh instead of his own, but not alone this time. He collapsed against the angel’s chest and floated, drifting together in a wash of contentment that surrounded the two of them. He snuggled closer and Aziraphale tightened his arms around him and softly kissed his brow. He never wanted the moment to end.

“Oh,” he wasn’t even meaning to say it out loud, all his filters had simply short circuited, “That’s why people do that with people they actually like.” Aziraphale hadn’t been moving much, but he was suddenly very still.

“My dear? Will you please explain?” the angel kept his voice very calm, fighting the rising tide of terror that he had just done something he would never forgive himself for. “Had you not, erm, done anything like that before?”

The stillness in Aziraphale’s body and the careful tone of his voice instantly worried Crowley in return. He wasn’t sure exactly how, but it was clear he’d managed to upset the angel, and he didn’t know how to fix it. “Not, not like that, no. It was always just work.”

Aziraphale began to relax a bit. “I’d always imagined lust was one of your specialties, you are so very attractive[13].” Crowley thought about leaving it at that, letting the angel think he had just spent the millenia playing incubus and succubus, with little care. But it felt too much like a lie, and he’d never lied to Aziraphale and he was hardly going to start now.

“Not quite like that either,” he said softly. “I do know what happened to souls, y’know, when my old side got them. Seeking out a bit of comfort in a loveless marriage or summat like that never seemed a fair thing to find yourself in hell over. And other than adultery there was only one other thing that made it really a sin, despite all the other bullshit they came up with.”

The stillness below him had returned. He kept talking, faster now, hoping he hadn't just ruined this with his careless words. “I can tell, see, who wants to do a thing, what thing they want to do. So I’d just put myself in their path, fit whatever shape I needed to be the right kind of target. And then it was just a minor miracle to make sure they’d get caught at it by someone who would whip up a mob. No time to make better, straight down they go, everyone in the mob gets some wrath on them, I get a gold star and left alone for a bit, and Bob’s your uncle.” He was talking very fast by the end of his explanation.

The more he spoke the stiller Aziraphale got. By the end, Crowley was almost sure the angel’s heart wasn’t even beating[14]. He didn’t want to leave his comfortable spot but he needed to see Aziraphale’s face and figure out how much damage he had done. He was afraid of seeing anger, but when he finally looked the angel seemed on the verge of tears.

“No, no, please don’t cry,” he cupped his face, “Wasn’t as bad as it sounds, right? It was just work. It was always my idea, right. I was always the one really in control and I knew that. I was hunting them, not the other way around. I wanted to give anyone who wanted to do that to someone else a one way ticket to hell[15]. No trauma or any of that bollocks, just not fun, like taxes.” He really needed to learn to shut UP sometimes.

“That,” Aziraphale whispered, “was all you’d ever known, and you still let me…” He looked horrified. “Why, why would you?”

“Because it was you, because it was you and I wanted to. I’ve never wanted to before, not with anyone, but it was you. All those songs and sonnets and books and the sappy stuff people write all over the internet had to be about something! I never knew what it was until you kissed me. It was like, like the first time you try some new food you really like. You didn’t know you wanted it until you had it, but then you can’t get enough.” He kissed him again to make the point. “I always knew I loved you, but I didn’t know I wanted you till tonight. But now I know I’ll never stop wanting you.”

He lay back down in the angel’s arms and rested his head on the soft shoulder that made such a lovely pillow. “There is nowhere I’d rather be than here with you like this, I’m sorry I worried you.”

Aziraphale kissed his forehead. “Thank you for telling me, even if you don’t think it was anything, you still didn’t deserve to go through that. You are so clever and so brave. You always found a way to help, even when you weren’t supposed to. There is nowhere I’d rather be either, beloved, and there is nothing to be sorry for.” They lay wrapped in each other until even Aziraphale, who rarely slept, drifted off content to have them both just where they belonged at last.

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Footnotes

1 Not that that had ever stopped Crowley, but Aziraphale had always been the one to keep them safe. As much as it had hurt, he knew that. And the angel still had so much more to lose, even now. He’d never forgive himself if he caused Aziraphale to Fall.
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2 Though he marveled at even a weak presence of love where everything he knew said it was impossible
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3 It speaks to Aziraphale’s state of mind at this point that the degree to which this thought could be considered blasphemous didn’t even register. Luke 22:54-62
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4 Aziraphale would map a language of those sounds, but anyone speaking it would be far too distracting to pay attention to.
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5 Fast being an understatement. Six thousand years to being honest about their feelings and then ten minutes to bed, though the idea was quickly gaining a shocking amount of merit.
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6 He didn’t lock the bookstore anyway, it knew when people weren’t supposed to come in and acted accordingly. He honestly wasn’t sure if keys for the door even existed anymore.
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7 Crowley could hear the capital letter
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8 Seriously, had Aziraphale learned to speak in capital letters from Death, he hadn’t even been there that long.
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9 Ever. The idea of hours apart was becoming unthinkable, much less the days, weeks, years, centuries of the past.
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10 He’d never really had cause to consider backsides in this manner, or any other before, except to curse his own lack of padding there, whenever horses were involved.
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11 He’d had eager lovers before, but this was the first time anyone had ripped his clothes off literally, and Aziraphale decided he would need a number of disposable garments in the future.
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12 If Aziraphale wanted to know why he would never care for those stinky cheeses, he should try smelling with the back of his throat.
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13 He had imagined it quite a lot, actually, usually when he was alone and had some free time and couldn’t stop imagining it.
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14 Which wasn’t dangerous but was also Not A Good Sign.
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15 Hell was supposed to be for people like that, people who knew they were hurting other people and did it anyway, people who wanted to hurt others. He still couldn’t see how it was for him too.
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Chapter Text

"By, by, lully, lullay," The voice drifted through the fetid dockside air. Aziraphale didn't know, for a moment, why it had stopped him. The pieces didn't fit together; the familiar voice, the lullaby song, the wretched neighborhood. He followed the sound down one of the many sideways, no wider nor better built than any other in the area, but cleaner, at least.

He only realized what he had been following when he saw her. In female form again, she sat outside a house whose small balconies made it clear more than food and drink were on offer within. Even at this early hour a woman lounged above, her dress and chemise open to the navel in invitation. She watched him approach, but his robes dissuaded her interest, not that he noticed. His attention was on the demon sitting in the sun, her red hair cascading freely around her in brazen defiance of the fashion of the times. Her dress appeared homespun, but made with skill, and modest in contrast to her hair and environment. Most shocking of all, she held an infant in her lap and was singing sweetly to it. He must have stared too long, as she looked up and smiled dryly at him.

"Brother Aziraphale," her voice, tenor when she wore a man's face, was a rich musical alto, "not a place I’d have thought to find you. Did you come looking for me?" There was something in her voice he didn't let himself think about.

"After a fashion, Mistress Crowley," he answered. "I was coming up from the docks and I heard you singing. I've just come back from the continent. This is not a place I'd have expected to find you either, I must say." He switched to Aramaic, as what he had to say next was not for prying ears. "Nor did I expect to find you with a naphil." He let the shock he felt fill his voice. Her head snapped up.

"A WHAT?!?" She answered in the same tongue. "You think I would make a NAPHIL!" Outrage was written on every line of her body. "Do you have any idea..."

"It does seem to be an occupational hazard at the moment," he answered stiffly. He remembered how upset Upstairs had been about the whole thing the first time, though he never had been clear on why they were such a danger.

"An occupational…" Crowley sputtered. "Seriously, Angel? You think I'm that careless with my body that I'd let it go growing some parasite just because I wasn't paying attention! And furthermore, I run this place, I do not work in it!" Her tone gained venom if not volume, careful not to wake the child in her lap despite her obvious ire. Aziraphale was taken aback.

"I fear I may have spoken out of turn," he offered. "I only knew knew that upstairs frowned on the practice."

Crowley snorted. "She drowns the population of an entire geo-political area, and the only other time angels Fell, two hundred new demons, and you say it’s frowned on. I'd ask if you knew why it's so ‘frowned on', but you clearly don’t. Asking questions about policy isn't your style, is it Angel?"

Aziraphale flushed as the accusation hit home. He didn't know why, as obedience was his duty and nature. Questions, questioning Her, was what had made Crowley Fall, an experience Aziraphale had no interest in sharing.

"They aren't," he agreed, "She made Her opinion on questions inescapably clear." Crowley winced slightly at that and nodded, conceding the point. "But if you already know, I won't object to finding out," he said. Being freely told, just for information, was not the same as questioning Her will, he reasoned. Crowley's mouth quirked as if she could hear his mental gymnastics, but then her expression immediately fell.

She gazed down at the child in her arms and whispered, "They had no souls." Aziraphale jerked back in shock, but Crowley ignored him. "Humans grow thier souls with their flesh. Our corporations are like human flesh, but not exactly the same. They are meant to take in a being that already exists, not grow one on thier own. Mix the two and there isn't enough of the human side for the soul to grow in right, and no pre-existing one to fill it. Oh, they were dangerous too, right enough. They got power from their angelic parents, but no control to go with it. And they were still Angels at first. It wasn't until after, that she took care to make sure none of you could do that again. Almost like she meant to make a point, or like she missed something, either way. They tried to teach their children control. Developed magic humans could use and taught it to their children and their lovers. But they didn't know the worst of it yet." Her features were distant and haunted, and she cuddled the child close.

"Baraqiel* came to me first. She told me about a young woman found in the desert, blasted by lightning from a clear sky. She asked me to search Hell for her soul. I wouldn't do it until she told me what was really going on. The girl was her daughter, and she couldn't find her anywhere in Heaven. I think she would have stormed Hell alone to get her daughter back, but she wasn't there. I looked everywhere. Dagon wasn't so careful with the files in those days. The girl wasn't in Heaven and she wasn't in Hell, she was just Gone, as if she'd never been born at all."

Crowley finally looked up at Aziraphale's ashen face. "I had to tell Baraqiel. I watched the despair consume her right in front of me. I watched her Fall. So no, Angel, I will never try to be a parent. And in truth, even these human children, I hope I never see them again, after they die." She had begun holding the child too tightly and it woke with a wail, shattering the stillness her dreadful tale had woven. She undid the drawstring at her neck one handed with deft, practiced ease and pulled down her dress to set the child to her breast. Aziraphale tried not to stare.

"How are you able to do that?" He found the relatively mundane question safer to deal with than the tale he'd just heard. There were too many things to think about. It seemed he'd been wrong about the safety of knowledge freely given as well.

"This?" She shrugged the shoulder further from the child, "this is easy. Just possess someone when her body is all ready to do it and you figure out what a body in that state feels like."

"But why? It doesn't look at all comfortable!"

"Look around, Angel. This isn't the most profitable place. Sailors and soldiers, not noblemen with their heavy purses and heavier hands." She switched back to the local tongue, making it clear the talk of weighty matters was done for now. "My ladies are doing what they can with the lot they've drawn, Brother. I can help this one's mother keep her fed and keep up her strength, that's all the sooner she'll be able to recover and get back to work. But if you think you can save their souls and keep them fed, without trading a life on their backs for one on their knees, you are free to try, much luck you'll have!"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Aziraphale visited Crowley's house off and on after that, under the excuse of trying to get her ladies a new way of life. He'd even succeeded in getting one favorite customer to offer marriage to a woman whose child was unmistakably his.

Then the dying started.

He worked in the hospital tirelessly, forbidden to heal except at Heaven's rare command, but at least able to be a single doctor immune to the virulent disease. It was months before he was able to reach Billingsgate again.

The house was now divided into two sides. Over one door hung the bundle of dried herbs that indicated an apothecary, or at least a cunning woman. The other side was draped in the ubiquitous red red cloth warning of infection. He hurried towards the red hung door.

"Go Away!" The words were screeched in a harsh voice, but also in the tongue of angels. "I've already told you, you can't have this one!"

"My dear? It's only me." He approached the door with caution. Crowley sat inside, three bodies wrapped in shrouds at her feet, filling most of the small room. She sat in a simple chair, next to a bed holding the only living human in the house. The child looked to be about five now. Crowley looked haggard. Her hair was cut short and stuck out around her face. Her cheeks were hollow and streaked with ash and dirt, as were her ragged clothes. She looked up at him with vacant eyes she didn't try to hide.

"If you are looking for Azrael, you missed him by a few hours. He shouldn't be hard to find though, all over the place these days." He looked at what she was hiding beyond the physical. One of her wings was barely still attached, and the opposite leg ended at the knee. Time would repair it all, but they were grievous wounds.

"Did you try to fight him?" Aziraphale felt his stomach drop. Azrael was more powerful than any other Archangel, he could be pleaded with, sometimes, but never fought.

"Try being the operative word," she answered. "I couldn't let him have her too." She stroked the sleeping child's hair. "I gave her my strength, enough of it. She'll make it through. He promised. She'll be quite the witch when she grows up. Hell will be pleased." Her voice was cold and empty. "One. I saved one. There were ten women and children here, Aziraphale, and now there is only one. Hell didn't do this. I didn't do this! So why, Angel? Why is She doing this? What did they do this time?"

He could only shake his head. "I don't know." He could only hold her while she wept.

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* "The Lightning of God" a Watcher, then demon who taught humanity Astrology.

Chapter Text

Waking up was a relatively novel experience for Aziraphale. He never got into the habit of sleep the way Crowley did. Waking up sharing a bed with nearly forty stone[1 ] of clingy snake was utterly new. Crowley’s head still rested on his shoulder but he had slipped his skin at some point in the night. Aziraphale hadn’t seen him like this in millena. A yellow eye was looking directly at him. “Woke up before me, my dear?” There was no answer or movement at all from Crowley, just his soft breath on the side of the angel’s face. He moved the one arm he had free to slide his fingers down Crowley’s back just behind his head, his scales were smooth as silk, warm and a dry sort of slippery. He didn’t get very far though before Crowley tried to throw himself backwards, but was caught by his own coils around the angel. The momentum was enough to send them both crashing off the bed.

Aziraphale and Crowley sat looking at each other. Crowley resumed his human form, bright red and blinking, and looking at him the whole thing was just too much. Aziraphale couldn’t hold back the first few snickers, and as they escaped more came with them till he was laughing like a loon. Crowley stared for a minute before he started laughing too. They collapsed into each other, dissolved into mirth.

“I’m sorry, dearheart, I shouldn’t laugh,” Aziraphale choked out, “and I never meant to give you such a start!”

Crowley waved his hand, dismissing the apology. “Nah, ‘m sorry, talk about a start, sure you didn’t ‘spect t’ wake up with a bloody great snake.” He shook his head, still clearly not completely awake. “Think the last time I slept that deeply was the 19th century, really it’s a good job you woke me, who knows how long I'd’ve been out for.” His smile was a thing hesitant, still. A night of confessions, revelations, and amazing physical discoveries was wonderful, but as much as this was everything he’d always wanted, he didn’t fully know what to do with it. He’d hardly allowed himself to imagine what being loved back would look like.

“Well,” Aziraphale levered himself up from the ground and offered Crowley a hand up, “no harm done, I’m sure we’ll be less startled by each other by and by.” He leaned in and kissed Crowley. Not one of the burning kisses of the night before, it was there and gone too quickly to ignite like that, but a simple comfortable kiss. The briefest brush of lips that had no purpose, but existed only because there was no reason for it not to, because kissing was the natural order of things.

The order of things was something very much in question these days. They didn’t know what they should be doing with themselves. Crowley, having nothing like the bookshop, was therefore at somewhat permanent loose ends. Even the bookshop was hardly a real full time occupation. Aziraphale’s distaste for selling his books kept it down, and restoring and repairing old books was slow and infrequent work. They had saved the world, and defied Heaven and Hell, now they had to figure out how to live in the world.
Crowley leaned in to steal another kiss, but Aziraphale kept it as light as the first. “The idea of simply returning to the bed definitely has its charms, dearest, but there is a wide world we have risked everything to save, and I feel we should go and enjoy it.”

“Auugh, if you insist, angel, but definitely more bed, later.” He groused, but he was smiling.

“Well, yes, I rather thought that was settled,” his face was very open and soft, “but I’ve let too much go without saying, for far too long. I had the most wonderful night of my life last night, my love, and I am quite eager to repeat it, but I am also famished.”

“You know we don’t actually need to eat.”

“It was rather a lot of exertion last night, and I’ll want my strength up.” The angel winked.

“Right, food yes good,” for the original tempter, Crowley was quite susceptible to it himself. They found their clothes, Aziraphale got a new shirt, and they headed out to brunch.

It was almost funny how well they fit in with the Monday brunch crowd at the bistro not far from the shop. Pairs of middle aged men who recognized Aziraphale smiled at them, a few winked, in one notable case money changed hands.

“Quite popular around here, hunh angel?” Crowley teased. “How many poor gents hearts am I breaking?”

“I’m sure I haven’t the foggiest notion what you mean,” he replied primly, “I’ve certainly never lead any of them on.” His face softened and he took Crowley’s hand. “Even when I thought nothing could come of it my dear, I knew my heart was quite spoken for longer than any of them have been alive[2].”

Crowley ducked his head, glad for the protection of his glasses, and squeezed the hand holding his. “Even when I was going too fast?” he countered softly. It was meant less as jibe, and more that he still difficulty believing all of this was real.

“Too fast is about speed, not destination, love. I knew I wanted to get here eventually. Lovely as people can be, none of them will ever be you.”

“You were just keeping us safe,” Crowley admitted, “and I’m glad you did. You have so much more to lose than I do. I mean look at us, if I were careful enough I wouldn’t be in the situation I am now[3].”

They let their talk wander back away from heavy things. They talked about fond memories, times and places they’d known. The many fleeting moments in history, the people and places who had a sort of immortality in the memories of eternal beings. They talked of things they had wanted to say, but hadn’t let themselves at the time. (“Did you really not know the reputation oysters had?” "It wasn't like I didn't know why you needed two unicorns!") The conversation was like the day, old and very new.

After they ate, Aziraphale suggested that a bit a physical pampering was a thing humans did to enjoy themselves. He followed the angel to his favorite manicurist, a posh little place still in Soho. While Aziraphale’s perfect nails could be miraculous it really was far more like him to enjoy spending the better part of an hour having his hands fussed over by a lovely dark eyed young man. The massaging chairs where a nice touch. Crowley gave in to the treatment and decided to replace his current black with red. He gave Aziraphale a rather flat look when he was accused of having a limited palette, the angel having chosen a colorless pearlescent for himself. Pot, kettle and all that. Aziraphale had his nails trimmed down unusually short for him, which caused the manicurist to smirk a bit and side eye Crowley, who replied with a ridiculously self satisfied grin.

Freshly manicured they walked arm in arm, heading vaguely towards a chocolatier Aziraphale was particularly fond of on the edge of Seven Dials. As they strolled down Shaftesbury they passed a shop window full of clothing that looked like what would happen if you described all of 19th century fashion to a blind but very good tailor, who only had brown and black fabric. Then he saw the name of the shop and burst out laughing. “Angel’s Fancy Dress Est 1840” the sign proclaimed.

“Oi, Angel, did you know this was here, then? Clothes seem just your style when they aren’t black.”

“Don’t be silly,” Aziraphale said, “it’s fancy dress, not proper clothes. Besides, I like my clothes.”

“Nothing against them,” Crowley said placatingly, “but that waistcoat is bare threads at this point. Look, chocolate’s not going anywhere, let’s just go poke around. At worst we have a bit of a laugh, at best we find something we like, right? We're just faffing off all day anyhow.”

“Oh very well, I suppose you’re right there’s no harm in it.” It really didn’t matter, they finally did have world enough and time[4]. This very freedom was still so daunting, beings like themselves weren’t made for idleness. Even humans went on about purpose driven lives, and they weren’t created and named, each one of them to a specific task.

The shop attendant looked up as they entered and gave them both a once over. “Vintage, goth, and steampunk - 3rd floor,” they said in a friendly but bored voice, pointing to the stairs.

The third floor was packed full of the same kind of clothes they had seen in the windows. Some of it definitely was the sort of stuff you’d expect from a fancy dress shop, made to basically get close to the idea for one night, but that was only a tiny bit of it. There were waistcoats, fine shirts, proper cravats, day coats, evening coats, a few opera coats, trousers, boots, hats, everything a gentleman needed. The ladies' section was even more extensive, though also rather more fanciful. No proper lady of the 1800’s would have been caught out in it, unless it was professionally so to speak, and likely not even then. Picking up a coat, Aziraphale assured himself of the quality of the fabric and the stitching. His own coat was still perfectly serviceable, of course, but it really was a day coat, and now he suspected he was likely to be out in the evening a great deal more.

 

A flash of brown obscured his vision and he looked up to see Crowley grinning triumphantly and swinging fabric in his face. A shawl breasted waistcoat in a light brown with a pattern of golden wings worked into it. “It’s perfect for you angel, even got a pocket for your watch.” He held the garment out like a great prize.

“It is rather fetching,” Aziraphale took the hanger with no more prompting than that, “let’s start a stack.” He moved excitedly about the shop throwing item after item into Crowley’s arms. The demon choked down comments about his reluctance to even enter the shop, and greed in general and simply enjoyed that Aziraphale was enjoying his idea, which was new[5]. Perhaps now he would not need to be as careful about suggestions. Saving them up for things that really mattered so as not to be too tempting and send the angel running. He seemed in high spirits today, but Crowley knew the melancholy from last night was not banished forever. No one person, however beloved, can make up for the loss of your belief in some kind of justice. But still, infinitely better with that person, than alone.

“These are odd,” Aziraphale was looking at another rack of waistcoats that seemed oddly cut. They had higher backs that laced down the back. The lacings were familiar to Crowley, who’d spent rather more time in a woman’s skin and therefore clothes than Aziraphale had across the ages. “They’re corsets, cut as waist-coats.” The cream and pale blue affair the angel was holding were lovely colors, but he shook his head. “I don’t think they’d suit at all, not really your thing.”

“No, I suppose not.” Aziraphale pressed his hands to his sides. “This era has rather extreme tastes about bodies, I really am quite out of fashion. I’m soft.” The last word carried with it the echo of Gabriel’s rebuke. The demon could hear the pain and guess the source as well, and it made him seeth inside, but his anger wasn’t going to help here so he swallowed it.

“None of that! You are delightfully soft, plush, voluptuous, luscious, op-ulent,” he popped the “p” and tried to extract enough of himself from Mount Fashion to twine around the angel, who was blushing furiously.

“You needn’t imitate a thesaurus, dear,” he fussed.

“AND,” Crowley cut him off. “If I’m right in where that idea got in your head from[6], it’s not your lovely form it was even really aimed at. The thing that really twists their knickers up there is the unsurpassed softness of your heart, angel. The strength of your compassion, the stalwartness of your love. Seems people who think they are all in the right are still ready to destroy someone for suggesting they try being nice to each other. After all,” he managed to free a hand enough to caress the worried lines of his face, “who but the softest of angels would have loved a demon?”

“Besides, human fashion comes and goes, and I remember the way they all loved you in the sixteenth century,” the emotional weight of his previous words definitely needed lifting, “while anyone who didn’t think I was diseased was trying to feed me my weight at every sitting. I just meant severe lines aren’t your style, you’ve always looked better in things with some movement to them.”

“If I recall the latter half of that century correctly, you looked rather fetching in a corset, though I’ve no idea how you manage to continue to move in them.” Aziraphale tried to meet the lighter tone, but his eyes were still distinctly misty. He’d continued flipping through the garment rack while they spoke to not look so much devotion in the face, and pulled another out. Black and red striped with black piping on the bones, it already seemed suited to Crowley, there were also snake cut outs worked into the black shawl lapels[7]. “This would be lovely on you my dear, do try it. If I’m to have new clothes you should as well.”

“I’ve actually changed more in my style than the neck adornment in the last century, but if you want me to, sure.” Crowley was more than willing to wear, or not wear as the case may be, anything that interested Aziraphale at that point. In the end they both came away with a number of new articles that they were more interested in getting each other back out of than into. Azriaphale pointedly bought several new shirts. Crowley retaliated with leather trousers he had to miracle on and off. At that point they had enough packages they decided it would be best to drop them off.

“It’s a bit further, but do you mind if we go back to mine?” Crowley asked. Aziraphale didn’t object and they walked back to Mayfair, with only minimal distraction, mostly due to Aziraphale having a strict limit on the amount of public affection he was willing to engage in on a London sidewalk[8 ]. By the time they arrived at Crowley’s building he’d almost forgotten why he had wanted to come the rest of the way to his flat, when he could have had his angel behind closed doors a quarter of an hour since if they’d gone to the bookshop. His entire focus was on getting the both of them behind closed doors, ideally quicker than humanly possible, and he nearly growled when the door man of his building called out to him.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Crowley, Mr. Fell,” Aziraphale’s brows went up at being directly and correctly addressed. “Post for your sister today, sir. Some kinda foreign postage this time.” At “sister” Aziraphale’s already risen brows attempted a strategic takeover on his hairline.

“Post! Yeah, great, um, Lil’ll be thrilled, just give it over then, cheers mate,” Crowley snatched the letter from the man’s hand and spun, dragging the bewildered angel to the lift that appeared without any buttons having summoned it. “Ta,” he tossed over his shoulder while pulling the angel in behind him.

“Sister?” Aziraphale started before the lift had even begun to move. “Lil?”

“Look sometimes I had to come and go dressed as Ashtoreth, and I don’t look that different as a woman. Sister was the excuse that kept people out of my business.” All true and if the angel would just leave it there they could get on with more interesting conversations involving less words. He did not, of course.

“And Lilith Ashtoreth is receiving post from…” Aziraphale let the statement hang, perfectly willing to wait out an answer, probably in the bleeding lift.

“Look we’d put so much effort into him already, seemed a waste to just give it up ‘cause he wasn’t the antichrist. I’ve tempted lots of non-antichrists over the years.” The lift finally dinged and opened on Crowley’s floor and he hoped that would end the conversation, but when they got inside Aziraphale sat himself down in Crowley’s throne and looked at him expectantly.

“I don’t know why you’re so on about it. He’s lonely, he writes me letters, I write back, ‘s not that big a deal. He was so sad when we left, there was crying. You know I can’t abide crying kids[9].” He stopped and crossed his arms, meeting the angel’s look with one of his own. He was absolutely not ready for more of being called nice, when he’d been so open already.

Aziraphale could recognize that any further pushing on the topic wasn’t going to be useful, and besides he didn’t want to poke to much at his complicated feelings. While it made his heart melt that Crowley had cared enough to keep in touch with the boy, he also felt disturbingly guilty that he had not done the same. Still it was an open invitation to move on to the next topic.

“Alright, and why did your doorman know me by sight and name? I know he wasn’t there when we got in two nights ago[10].”

“Gahh, what’s with the questions! Can’t we just get to snogging already? Questions are old and boring, snogging is new and interesting[11].” He wasn’t just deflecting, he really did want to get to the much more distracting things lips were good for than talking.

“We will not be getting on with anything if you persist in calling it snogging.”

“What should I call it? Tulip sauce? Gum sucking? A mess of slip-slop? Shall I be your tenant in tail[12]?” He was stalking forward, grinning as he came.

“You are ridiculous, my serpent, call it a kiss and come kiss me then.” There would be time enough for questions that didn’t matter later. Crowley was leaning over him, crowding him into the throne and kissing him deeply. He was pressed between the high back and Crowley’s lips, the only point of contact between them. This time there was no slow building up, they were both ravenous for each other and sure, in this moment, of their welcome. Aziraphale would have sworn that Crowley’s throne was hardly big enough for him to sit in, and could not possibly hold the demon as well. He hadn’t considered the possibility of Crowley crawling into his lap, knees on his thighs, legs braced across the arms of the chair. His already greater height was exaggerated by the pose, leaving the demon looming over him in a manner that was the opposite of threatening. Crowley’s wings, still entirely insubstantial, were perceptible mantling over them possessively.

The kisses were intoxicating but the positioning limited the options for more. Aziraphale needed to be able to touch more of Crowley than he could reach, needed Crowley to be touching more of him. He slid his arms around and grabbed each perfect handful of arse and stood. Crowley’s legs fastened around him, bringing them finally fully flush together. Aziraphale lowered his arms until their hips met, grinding them together and wrenching a moan from his lover. He decided the bed was too far away and backed Crowley into the nearest wall. With a solid brace to help with balance, and the demon clinging to him like an amorous monkey, he freed a hand to work at their trousers.

“Fuck, Angel!” Crowley gasped, twining his arms around Aziraphale’s neck and just holding on. He let his head fall back into the wall and bared his neck to Aziraphale’s searching lips and teeth. His hips writhed in an erratic rhythm that he knew wasn’t helping get his jeans open, but he seemed to have lost all ability to control his body’s impulses[13]. He felt like he should be doing more to give back, but he also felt completely overwhelmed. Aziraphale was so gentle it was easy to forget that he was made to be one of heaven’s most powerful warriors, and being the focus of all of that strength was a dizzying high. At the same moment he finally got Crowley free sliding length to length, Aziraphale’s teeth latched onto the juncture of neck and shoulder and bit down, hard. The twin sensations caused a temporary white out in Crowley’s brain, his hips jackknifing into the angel while his fingers clutched tight in the soft white curls, holding his head in place.

Crowley locked his ankles behind Aziraphale’s back and dug his heels into his back, then pressed his own shoulders to the wall for leverage. Stabilized he used the hand not holding that amazing mouth in place to wrap around both of them, long fingers easily encompassing both cocks. Aziraphale groaned into his neck at the touch. Between sweat and how much they were leaking his hand slid easily, smooth friction wrenching desperate sounds out of both of them. Crowley could feel the fabric of their clothes as he moved his hand, making him hyper aware that they were both fully dressed. His angel was so desperate to get to him that he was having him against the wall and it was mind shatteringly arousing. Feeling already on the edge, he tightened his grip and that elicited another groan as Aziraphale fucked harder into his fist. He used his new leverage to keep pace in an alternating rhythm so they slid against each other through the tight ring of his fingers. Small whimpers were falling from his lips as Aziraphale’s mouth moved up his throat and jaw, as teeth grazed his ear. The angel’s breath ghosted across his ear, causing him to shiver.

“Yes, Crowley, oh yes, I love you,” Aziraphale’s wrecked voice whispering in his ear was the last thing for him. He could feel the jerking of his cock against his lover’s in his hand, his release coating both of them and making his grip even slicker. The feel of it set the angel off as well, and it was a good thing he’d already gone boneless as he was crushed into the wall and then they were both on the floor, sagging into each other and panting for air they couldn’t convince themselves they didn’t need.

“I listed you as my next of kin.” Crowley said abruptly into the silence. Aziraphale pulled back in startlement at the random statement and looked at him. He swallowed, cleaned them both with a wave, and kept talking. “In case anything happened to me, or if you just really needed me for something, I wanted you to be able to get in. All of the staff have your name and picture and instructions to let you into the flat if you ever ask. That’s why Tom knew your name.” Really being embarrassed by it seemed silly at this point.

“Since we knew Armageddon was coming?” Aziraphale asked. Things had gotten so out of hand, so quickly then. Crowley lifted a shoulder noncommittally.

“Since I moved in.”

“But that was in 1854!”

“It was in 1834, actually. Downstairs is never a friendly place at the best of times, but things were taking a bit of a turn. Same reason I asked you for the water.” Okay, maybe it hadn’t been silly to not want to get into this conversation. He hoped Aziraphale wouldn’t make the next connection, but he also knew he wasn’t that lucky. His angel had always been too clever for either of their goods.

“That entire time you were missing…”

“Not the entire time. Hastur woke me up for a job in 1901. But before that? Yeah, if you’d come around you’d have gotten to see my Princess Aurora impression.” Crowley leaned back on the wall and looked at the ceiling. He couldn’t bear the look on Aziraphale’s face. He didn’t want to talk about how hard the past had been. It was the past and he would go through it all again, a hundred times to have gotten to where they are now. He reached out and pulled the angel to him, wrapping his long limbs around him like he was a giant plush toy.

“I should have come. I was so afraid of what could happen, but I made it worse by not being here.” The guilt in his voice was unbearable.

“Probably not.” Crowely said. “They were getting suspicious. Not seeing each other for 80 years probably bought us the next 80. ‘Sides I was completely knackered anyhow, prob’ly would have just thrown stuff at you if you woke me up.” He nuzzled the fluffy white curls in front of him.

The deflection was clumsy and obvious, but Aziraphale let it go. An apology that only benefits the apologizer is doing the opposite of what it was for[14]. He let himself be cuddled for a bit then began shrugging out of the rest of his clothes. He chuckled at the interested noise Crowley made. “I do believe I’ve unleashed a monster.” He dropped a quick kiss on Crowley’s head to take any bite out of the playful words. “I was thinking we should dress for dinner, dearest.”

Crowley levered himself off the floor and leaned against the wall, appreciating the view, and enjoying that he was explicitly allowed to watch. Nudity had been common once, but that had been millennia ago, and now the simple act of changing clothes was full of intimacy. Aziraphale gave him a look under his lashes that definitely endangered the reservation time Crowley had set while they were out shopping.

“Enjoying the show, dear boy?”

“Immensely.” He’d let his attention to body alterations go when he was done using it, but was giving real thought to calling it back. He could always summon up new reservations. He watched the glorious orbs of the angel’s arse do an entrancing dance as he walked across the room to the packages that had been abandoned by the door. Aziraphale rooted about in the packages, and Crowley was certain at least some of the wiggling he was doing at this point was gratuitous and intended only to torment him. It was distressingly effective.

“Ah!” He stood up with something in his hands, and Crowley suddenly had a face full of leather trousers. “I’d quite enjoy one, myself, I think.”

“You don’t know what it takes to get into and out of these jeans, it will end up being more of a comedy15].” He did make a show out of getting his waistcoat and shirt off, and made the effort to have there be something to see when the trousers came off, but he actually got them off by simply deciding they were now somewhere else and so they were. He sauntered over to Aziraphale, letting him get a good eyeful (and if he’d decided to make this particular effort somewhat, showy, well he was still experimenting with making them with any intent to enjoy them, wasn’t he). He crowded into the angel’s space and leaned over to breathe in his ear, “Reservation’s in an hour,” then decided the leather trousers were already on his body and leaned in to do some rummaging of his own. He grinned to himself at the slightly strangled sound that followed.

“Hoisted on my own petard,” Aziraphale shook his head, “I suppose I should know better than to try to get the better of you at temptation games.”

“You really should, it is kinda my thing. Does it make it better or worse that you are the very best angel at them?” It really shouldn’t be possible to smirk affectionately but Crowley managed it quite well.

“I’m not at all sure.” They busied themselves dressing. Aziraphale wore his new waistcoat with dun trousers and a blue silk shirt and a tartan evening cravat. He wore his accustomed coat, the fine cream Inverness coat he’d purchased for just such nights out being, regretfully, too warm for August even in England. He turned to see how Crowley was getting on and the only reason he didn’t swallow his tongue was that his jaw would not quite close correctly.

In addition to the black leather trousers that were essentially painted on, he was wearing a crimson shirt with full sleeves and a loose open neckline. The whole shirt would have been quite loose if not held in by the corseted waistcoat. Crowley turned his back, and shot a heated look over his shoulder. “Tie me up, Angel?” He held out the corset laces. Aziraphale took the offered cords and began to pull them tight. Crowley’s unreasonably slender frame adapted easily to the pressure but Aziraphale still had to put some strength behind his pulls to get the sides within an inch of each other. Denied his habitual slouch and curved posture Crowley’s height was even more exaggerated, and his sway a long lined full body motion that was hypnotic. With his fire red hair and the gleaming black scales of his snakeskin “boots” he looked entirely himself and utterly entrancing.

It struck Aziraphale again how lovely Crowley was, both in motion and in his moments of stillness when he seemed like an alabaster statue[16]. Crowley came and took his arm to head out and he stopped catching the sight of them both in a mirror. They were a study in contrasts, as always. Light and dark, lean and full, even their accents of red and blue[17], and yet they didn’t look at all odd together, their contrasts produced a perfect balance. When you are a divine being who knows, as a simple fact, that you were created deliberately and for a purpose the phrase "made for each other" carries considerably more weight than when humans use it. Yet he couldn't help but wonder - they are so perfectly complementary, and if they both hadn't been there, the world might not either. He still was not sure how he felt about Her plans, or how he was supposed to act now, but for all it had cost he had this now, and it was glorious. He stole another kiss on the way out the door having to go up on his toes since Crowley couldn't much lean down.

The doorman's smile on the way out had more than a bit of cheek to it, having guessed half of the reason they were in such a hurry earlier. Aziraphale kept to himself any comments on what it implied that the demon was so well liked by people many humans treated with disregard as "underlings." He was surprised when Crowley turned them towards neither the Ritz nor the Bentley, but headed off on foot north.

“Not taking the Bentley?” he asked and Crowley grimaced.

“Even with miracles, traffic is beastly this time of day. Tube’s faster, besides driving in a corset is a pain.” Something in Crowley’s voice made Aziraphale think he had another motive as well, but since he would rather take the tube than be in the car while Crowley tried to bully rush hour traffic he kept his peace. The ten minute walk to Bond street was pleasant and amusing in how many heads turned to watch the pair of them, though Aziraphale was sure that most of the attention was for Crowley[18]. Once on the tube, of course, on one paid them any mind. It takes more than being an eldritch and ethereal being in anachronistic attire out on a date to make a blip on the average London tube user’s weird meter. They popped up on Liverpool, Crowley led them down the street and across to Bishopsgate and into the enormous tower.

They stopped in the lobby to watch the fish in their enormous tank for a bit before riding the glass lift up 40 stories. The humans sharing the device with them exclaimed at the height, though it gave Aziraphale mixed feelings. Looking down from such a lofty perch reminded him uncomfortably of heaven, and at the same time he felt a longing for seeing the earth this way that he hadn’t felt in ages. He didn’t think he’d actually flown since before humans had built their clever machines to claim the sky. Flying at night would look so different now, with the way humans lit up the night time world.

Crowley watched Aziraphale while the angel watched the city and the people, and decided his plans for later would definitely go well. If they were free he wanted to make a statement of it. Heaven and Hell were still off balance right now, he wanted to establish as much freedom as he could for them as their new normal before the head offices found their footing again. It was odd, the whole thing Lucifer had been on about in the first place was that they be allowed to have a bit more freedom. Once in Hell, though, it was all "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Lucifer had gone almost as distant as She was. Crowley didn't remember much from Before other than the stars, it was all clouded over like something on the tip of your tongue, but he thought they had been friends once. Real friends, not the huge gulf between an infamous but unranked demon and the King of Hell. He shook off the thought as they reached the top. His (former) boss was NOT who he wanted to be thinking about right now.

They walked through a hall covered in blazing orange autumn leaves and out into a dining room where all the steel hid behind bamboo and the walls were alive with greenery. Crowley had reserved terrace seats and they sat outside under a wide orange tree sculpture gazing out over the London night. The place was not at all like the Ritz, raucous and lively with upbeat music and laughter rather than the restrained elegance of their more usual haunts. The feeling of celebration that infused the place and the people is perfect for how they feel tonight.

"Japanese, Brazillian, Peruvian fusion," Aziraphale said, as he flipped through the menu, "how odd how they divide and then recombine themselves. That thing you once said about Burbage and infinite variety really can apply to them all."

Crowley hummed in agreement, though he was fairly sure Aziraphale knew that he'd never really been talking about acting. He even ordered some food, though not without some grousing for forms sake.

"A fusion of 3 different cultural cuisines, and they are still using truffles, that don't grow near ANY of them, in nearly everything."

"That is because truffles are delicious, my dear. But if you object that strongly, try the salmon seviche, it's truffle free. I think I'll just try this tasting menu[19]." Aziraphale delighted in every dish that combined things in new and interesting ways. Crowley delighted in watching Aziraphale. He also enjoyed the spicy citrusy gin drink. Combining chili and alcohol made the chili even hotter than normal and the ginger was just gilding the lily; nothing to a demon of course, but he did have to marvel at the sheer masochism of humanity that they'd invented the thing. He had 3 while Aziraphale ate and drank mostly tea and one small sake.

The wind blew around them, and even in the shelter of 3 walls this high up it left phantom tugs on their hidden wings. Crowley was almost vibrating with excitement while Aziraphale ate. The angel finally finished off the last of his chocolate banana cake and set down his napkin. Before he could even say anything Crowley had flagged down their waiter and handed him two hundred pound notes. "That should cover it right, yeah, good, cheers." The waiter was still staring at him as he got up, walked around the man and offered his hand to Aziraphale. He took it, smiled genially at the stunned waiter and stood. Crowley only led him towards the door until the waiter's line of sight was broken, then snapped his fingers and turned them back towards the balcony. Another snap and Aziraphale felt the change in the wind that said the top half of his outfit was rather less real than it had been a moment ago. Time hadn't stopped, people were still moving about, they just no longer registered the supernatural pair, eyes sliding off them, clever brains editing out what they had been told to ignore.

Crowley walked backwards, grinning, to the edge of the colorful wall that separated the dining area from the industrial roof that extended past it. Once he had cleared the bench tables he hopped onto the thin wires that comprised the top of the barrier.

"Come on, Aziraphale, how long since your wings have been anything but symbolic?" He held out his hand.

Aziraphale smiled but couldn't resist giving him a bit of a hard time.

"And all our lovely new things that just vanished?" He knew he was going to give in, of course. Crowley was right, it was a lovely idea, and while flying on earth had been "against protocol" for some time, there really was no harm in it, as long as one stayed well away from Heathrow and the like. He just felt he needed to put up a token resistance so that Crowley could feel like he'd won. His demon had been right about a great many things that it had taken him far too long to catch up on, and he thought it was likely he'd be following his lead for a while yet while he got his footing, but it wouldn't do to make it too easy. Where would the fun be in that?

"Folded up at home, safe as houses, Angel. Come now, you know you want to. I could see your face in the lift, you miss the sky, the wind under your wings, telling gravity to get stuffed for a bit." Crowley pulled his wings fully into the physical world and jumped off the wire he was walking onto the bare roof on the other side. Aziraphale simply stepped through the wall to join him, disregarding its reality. He stretched as he also brought his wings into the world, spreading them up and wide. Crowley grinned and walked to the edge, letting his great black wings catch the eternally rushing wind this high up and throw him into the air. He whooped with delight and Aziraphale ran to join him.

They flew wingtip to wingtip, dancing through the London night sky. Where their shadows passed below, blessings and curses bloomed, mostly cancelling each other out, and leaving people having had odd but ultimately neutral evenings. Their wide wings cupped the air and they rose as they left the busy airways of the city. They left the incandescent blaze of London at night and flew west. They circled and looped each other for the sheer joy of flight. Winged things bound to walk or crawl for reasons no one even remembered, if they had ever existed at all. How could this be anything less than what they were meant for, why should they have this shape, these bodies, if not to use them?

As they passed over Bristol Channel headed to open water with the lights receding behind them Crowley flipped himself like a raven and flew on his back[20], his gaze fixed on the stars. He had lived in the city for too long, he decided. He hadn't really noticed, as the humans filled the night with their lights, how many of his own he'd lost. He'd shed his glasses with the rest of his real clothing and now let the shadow image of them dissipate as well. With his own eyes he gazed at the stars, seeing them in varied spectrums of light and memory. He didn't know why they, and the making of them, were all he remembered of what he once was, but he was glad he had it.

"Crowley?" He could hear Aziraphle clearly despite the rushing of the wind around them and the waves below them. "Are you alright, dearest?"

"Course I am, Angel, why do you ask?"

"You are flying on your back and crying?"

"Am I?" He wiped at his eyes in surprise, as Aziraphale blazed into his line of sight, like the full moon against the stars. "I'm fine just," he waved his hand, "I'd almost forgotten how beautiful they are. Can't bloody see them in London, pictures and video don't do them justice, and I haven't really been away from cities in, well, in a while."

Aziraphale canted sideways and turned his head up. He wasn't going to risk going completely over, as he had no idea how Crowley wasn't dropping like a stone like that. The Milky Way spread across the sky above the dark curve of the sea. The sky was moon dark and crystal clear and the stars blazed in the dark, the only light to be seen from where they were. "They are lovely. So very many of them."

"Yeah, took forever, I mean it was before time and all, so I can't really say how long we were at it, and I don't remember Before that well, but I know it was several of us just star after star, nebulae and planetary systems and all that. And if you didn't balance the gravity just right, Boom! The whole thing would either implode or throw itself across space… Why are you looking at me like that?" Aziraphale's eyes had gone wide as he stared at Crowley.

You were a Maker, he thought in awe. Humans had written a great deal about the angles they knew, but they didn't know all of them. Some angels had duties that never brought them into contact with earth or humanity at all. The oldest were the Makers, Her hands in creation. She had shared her power with them, and with Her guidance they had made the material realm. And really, he should have guessed. Of all the Angels, more Makers Fell than any other, with the act of creation done, they resented their loss of purpose[21]. The ones who remained were strange and distant beings, mostly joining with the Powers, shepherding the stars and maintaining order far from Earth and all it represented.

He had wondered, at times, what choir Crowley had been before he Fell. What his name had been and if he'd known him. It was hard to say even with a name if he'd be able to tell. Cowley had just said he didn't remember before the Fall well, and most angels couldn't say that they remembered well anyone who wasn't still in heaven. Even the other angels with whom he's shared the first early years on earth were hard for him to remember after they all Fell. He had thought it was his conviction to be a good angel after losing the sword that had protected him then. He only realized later that it was his well buried yearning for golden eyes and fire red hair that had kept him out of the humans' beds in those days[22].

He'd clearly been staring too long. Crowley was getting fidgety, which was not a good idea when doing particularly tricky flying over open water. He needed to say something, but who they had been and questions of power and precedence were hardly relevant to who they were, and especially who they were to each other now. This would be a good reminder to him not to underestimate his beloved though.

"They are so lovely, darling. I'd not realized you were such an artist. You wrought a marvel that humans have never tired of, beauty that inspires them to greatness. I know you were quite good at your job these last 6,000 years, even with the Arrangement, but the wonder and inspiration from these," he swept his higher arm across the sky, "I think your past acts alone bring more good to the world than your current acts can counter."

Crowley flushed and turned in the air to face Aziraphale. "Come off it Angel, the things I made wrote questions across the sky and filled it with the wrong answers. My stars are just like me, pretty liars, that told them to look to themselves instead of Her. Even Before, apparently, I was leading them away without even knowing it." His voice was bitter, which was not at all what Aziraphale wanted.

"Did you make them all alone? All of them tell the same stories. You made what She asked you to, and if there is a message in the stars for them, it is Her message. But you gilded it brilliantly." He wanted to touch Crowley, to hold him close, but didn't feel quite up to eagle levels of aerial acrobatics. Looking down, he saw the last of the Irish coastline disappearing below them and folded his wings, angling his descent to a small flat meadow between two high peaks on an isolated rock island, the last land they would see on their path until they hit America.

He heard the rush of Crowley's wings just behind him and turned to take the demon in his arms. Before he could say anything, Aziraphale was kissing him, using his lips to say directly what Crowley still so often wouldn't hear in words. How wonderful he was, how much Aziraphale loved him, and wanted to be with him. While Crowley would argue with his words, sometimes, he didn't argue with this. He kissed back with an equal passion and as their arms enfolded each other their still physical wings slid together above their heads, sending a jolt of sensation neither of them had ever felt before thrumming through them. They broke the kiss gasping for a moment, then rushed together again, wings and lips sliding together and them both drunk on each other. The projections of clothing inhibited their hands as little as they had their wings.

One of Aziraphale's hands slid into the short hair at Crowley's neck and the other into the small feathers closest to his back, both hands tightened simultaneously and Crowley cried out and jerked against him. He did it again and drew forth a high keening cry. He kept his grip on Crowley's hair and transferred his mouth from lips to throat, biting at the sweet juncture. Crowley finally got his own hands moving burying both of them in the feathers closest to Aziraphales back, sliding his nails lightly across the delicate skin below them, like sliding through hair across the scalp, but more secret and hidden. There was no wall to hold them up, and no bed to fall into, and they were both too far gone to manage the control to fix either situation.

Aziraphale detangled his hands and Crowley whined at the loss, but his dismay was short lived as Aziraphale began to work on the ridiculously tight pants, that had gotten significantly tighter and more uncomfortable. Getting them completely off was out of the question at the moment, but the angel's surprisingly deft hands got them down enough to free what he was after. This night it was the angel who went to his knees before the demon and with just as great a love and reverence. He didn't have the advantages of Crowley's serpentine nature, but he had skill honed over centuries of experience to call on. He breathed out, letting his hot breath contrast with the night air, chill here on the windswept rocks even in high summer. He teased with the softest brushes of his lips, sliding down one thigh and back, then down the other till the small whimpers turned to pleading, or Crowley's version of it anyway.

"Aziraphale, you magnificent bastard, are you trying to discorporate me? Please, angel, please," despite his begging he held stone still, his legs shaking beneath Aziraphale's hands. The angel took pity and licked a firm broad stripe up his cock, and Crowley's legs nearly buckled. Aziraphale caught him, wrapping his wings around him, slotting the high peaked joint in under his lovers wings where they met his back, holding him up with the same strength that held him aloft in the air. They both moaned at the feeling of their wings sliding together, locked into each other so tightly. Aziraphale used one hand to loosen his own too tight trousers and wrapped the other around the base of Crowley's cock.

He sucked delicately at the tip, swirling his tongue around the head and pressing with his lips to cover as much area as he could. He began a gentle bob of his head to his hand and back, tightening and loosening his grip in rhythm with his mouth. He looked up through his lashes and held Crowley's golden glowing stare. He half lowered his lids and gave a very deliberate moan, rewarded with an abortive stutter of his hips and a string of reverent curses. He shuddered at the feeling of wings twitching uncontrollably against his own. He changed his pace, lips soft and plush against heated skin as he slid more and more into his mouth, then sucking hard as he pulled back. Again and again, pushing his own hand back as he took more and more on every stroke. He couldn't unhinge his jaw, but he'd put paid to any vestiges of a gag reflex over a hundred years ago. Finally he removed his hand completely and buried his nose in the fiery curls, sliding the now freed hand down to gently cradle and stroke bollocks already pulled hard and tight.

Cowley had run out of curses, blessings and all the other words and was gasping out the only sounds he could muster. His hands finally lost their fight for politeness and buried themselves in the cotton curls before him. Aziraphale moaned at the tight pull but there was still no direction in it. Crowley was too lost in sensation to have any coherent action. He was barely standing now, more of his weight resting on the supporting wings. His secondaries sliding into the smaller feathers of Aziraphale's coverts and alula.

He groaned and swallowed as best he could around Crowley, his own hand also straying, sliding along his own neglected prick sending more moans vibrating out of him and into Crowley, which just made his wings twitch and reinforce the loop of sensation driving them both to the brink. A particularly sharp jerk of Crowly's wings made Aziraphale completely lose his focus and his lips slipped, allowing a momentary graze of his teeth. Rather than a distraction, the brief hard press snapped the last thread and Crowley hunched over, spilling down his throat. He pulled his wings in and the long strong primaries brushing into the angel's soft coverts and drifting scapulars sent Aziraphale over the edge as well.

Aziraphale recovered first, the strain of holding up the nearly completely limp demon forcing him to either pull himself together or drop his love on the thin grass. He summoned up blankets and pillows and lowered Crowley gently to them, then crawled himself up until they were cuddled together, blanketed in white wings and resting on sable. He watched Crowley slowly come back to himself, gazing up at the stars. Crowley blinked at the sky then turned and kissed his angel with all the love and tenderness he could manage, still reeling from the fact that he finally had this, more than he'd ever thought to want. He gazed around at the peaks towering over them from either side, and listened to the crashing surf below.

"Where are we, anyway? Isn't somebody going to see us?" He'd shielded them from mortal sight for the flight, but he doubted that was still working. It was hard to hold your concentration when your brain was being sucked out your cock.

"Skellig Michael," Aziraphale answered. "There's no one to see us. The lighthouse was automated in '81 and tourists aren't allowed to stay the night." He ran his fingers through Crowley's hair, along his jaw, down his neck, soft aimless petting that encouraged more cuddling.

"Skellig Michael eh?" Crowley snickered, "I bet us fucking around here gets right up their nose too."

"You were about to fly out to open sea. This was the last land in our path until we hit America! Annoying Michael was just a bonus." He chuckled at that.

"Isn't this place supposed to be all holy? How'd you know I could land here?"

"Well, I wouldn't recommend we try anything in the actual monastery," Aziraphale answered, "but I lived here once, and this part of the island was never really consecrated."

"You lived here? When? S'pretty in a spare sort of way, but doesn't seem much your style." Crowley wiggled his wing and Aziraphale moved off him, letting him sit up, wings now fanning out behind him. Aziraphale sat opposite him in the same manner.

"Well it wasn't my idea. After your lot destroyed Camelot I was in a great deal of trouble…"

Crowley held up a finger, and waved it cutting him off. "First, not my lot anymore," A second finger joined it. "Secondly, I offered you a truce on Camelot, you were the one who turned me down," a third finger. "And finally, that wasn't even me! Not my fault Aurthur couldn't figure out the right place for his dick. I never said, 'Hey you know what's a great idea, why don't you shag your sister, then abandon her and the baby, marry a beautiful woman who is desperately in love with you, and then proceed to shag your right hand man, who happens to be in love with your wife instead.' I can't be blamed every time someone influential makes terrible life choices."

Aziraphale studied the three fingers, then leaned forward and took them in his mouth, sliding his him tongue across the place where they met before pulling back slowly. He grinned. Crowley stared at him. "Ngk! That's definitely cheating!"

"Of course, my dear. And you are also right, it wasn't your fault at all. Yet here is where Heaven chose to put me, watching over a group of utterly ascetic monks left here by St. Finnian. Bad food and not much of it, cold rooms, very little sleep for them, and not even a decent scriptorum. It was dreadful, but on a summer day, the island is truly beautiful." He gazed around at the island as it was now, and the memory of 1,500 years ago. "I never much cared for asceticism though, thought I'd indulge in a touch of hedonism in defiance of it." He had a predatory look as he stalked on all fours back towards the demon. He also used a touch of power to divest Crowley of his impossibly tight trousers, there was going slow and then there was ridiculous.

Crowley shifted to his side, bringing a wing around and looking over it. "Going to give me a gown of green, angel?[23]"

Aziraphale stopped in front of Crowley and took his hands, kissing them. "I would very much like to take my time making love to you here, under your stars, if that is something you would like[24]." His voice was low and soft, but fervent and his eyes were black pools with only the smallest hint of blue ringing them. Crowley swallowed and nodded, licking his lips. He looked down at himself.

"I'm not sure I'm going to be able to go again, just yet though."

"Do you want to? If you want to wait a bit, that's fine." Aziraphale desperately wanted to be touching him, but not if he wasn't ready yet.

"No, I mean I do want to, just spirit and the flesh, yeah." Crowley actually blushing was too precious for words, so Aziraphale kissed him, soft and sweet.

"Well, if you want it back in working order why don't you just let it go and then bring it back? If you want it to be interested it will be." It was a useful trick, and if done out of sight very impressive to humans. Crowley blinked at him and then started laughing hysterically nearly falling over with the force of it.

"Did you," he gasped, "did you seriously just tell me to reboot my cock?" His laughter echoed between the peaks. It was Aziraphale's turn to blink, confused.

"I don't see where boots enter into it." He said, which just set Crowley off again, laughing till tears were running down his face and he was clutching his sides, wings held stiff with mirth. Aziraphale wasn't sure if he should be offended, but decided he would just enjoy the rare sight of Crowley undone with hilarity.

Crowley leaned forward and collapsed onto Aziraphale's chest, throwing his arms around his neck and holding on. When he had finally stopped laughing he pulled back he looked at Aziraphale softly. "I love you so much. You are utterly ridiculous and I adore you." He kissed him, soft and slow and heartrendingly tender. Aziraphale held him in his arms and his wings and kissed back, pouring himself into it. "Should I, erm, switch?" Crowley gestured vaguely, "Like you did last night?"

"You can if you'd like, love, but I chose that mostly out of expediency, I wanted to go fast." He stroked Crowley's jaw, "Tonight I intend to take my time with you, if you'll let me."

Cowley nodded, "Yes, right, good plan, I'll just stay as I am then." They continued kissing for a long time, tangled up in each other, lips occasionally diverting to jaw or neck or ear but always returning to lips. Hands sliding down arms, drawing soft patterns on open palms, tracing across shoulders, ribs, sensitive coverts. Learning each other in detail. Then Aziraphale's broad fingers moved up, ending the unspoken waiting and brushed at Crowley's nipples, drawing a soft moan from him. He followed his fingers with lips and tongue and teeth. Crowley was by turns rigid and slack with pleasure in his arms. He pulled over one of the many pillows he'd conjured and laid Crowley down against it, black wings stark across the pale blanket. He continued to kiss and suck the sensitive buds, alternating teeth and tongue, keeping the demon off balance as he slid this other hand down one elegant thigh and back up the inside of it.

Crowley shivered and moaned again, letting the leg not held in place fall open in invitation. He could feel the difference the slowness was making. He didn't feel that frantic urgency, but rather felt like he was slowly melting into honey, something golden and translucent and unbearably sweet, every part of him going soft and open, and even the bit that was nothing like soft felt less urgent, its demand a stern memo rather than a clarion call.

Aziraphale pulled a small tube out of his trousers that he'd left the shop with this morning, not knowing where day would take them, but knowing this was how he wanted it to end, and glad his trousers were still physical to contain it. He realized he should also take a moment to rid himself of them. When he pulled away Cowley let out a whimper and reached for him. He was the most beautiful sight, long limbs lax with desire, pupils sharp ovals, as wide as they ever got, and his irises glowed like molten gold, his normally unblinking gaze now heavy lidded in a way that was all the more private for how rarely he remembered his eyes had lids at all. "I'm not going anywhere, darling, just getting rid of these trousers." His were well behaved enough to fall off easily once undone and he could be back to kissing Crowley silly while he toed off his shoes and socks. He wanted to keep Crowley pleasure hazed for as long as possible, giving him as much as he could. He held the vial in his hand, letting it warm while he went back to work on Crowley's nipples.

Aziraphale's lips and tongue were an exquisite torment. He thought vaguely that given the experience of earlier, he might enjoy teeth as well, but that would probably take him out of this slow syrupy pleasure, and was content to leave it be. The angel's hand was stroking up his thigh again and he managed a small movement of encouragement. When it finally moved between his legs it was slick and slippery, gliding softly across his skin. Long strokes, not targeted, sliding across the length of his cleft, sending shocks up him when they slid across the tight muscle.

True to his word, Aziraphale was slow about it, stroking lightly followed by soft presses that circle without pushing inside. The pressure lit up nerve endings he'd only ever thought of as something to disable before, never knowing they could carry such pleasure. He whimpered and twitched in his angel's hands, neither pleading nor demanding, but too overcome to be still. The circling digit increased its force slowly until it slipped inside him as if it were meant to be there. He gasped, eyes he hadn't realized had fallen shut flying open again to lock on Aziraphale's face. The angel gazed down at him dark eyed with the night and desire, a knowing smile of pure wickedness on his face. His wide finger slowly teasing in and out, more oil dripping down to coat it on every pass.

"That's perfect love, you are doing so well for me," he praised and Crowley squirmed, unable to process what to do with the praise. Without changing what his hands were doing Aziraphale leaned forward and kissed him again, until he sank back down out of his head and into only feeling his body. "That's it, love, soft, be easy for me, I promise it will be good like this." It was already so good, like late summer sun from the inside out. The wide finger rocking in further and further until it could go no more, then sliding out halfway and in again. Each time it bottomed out, Aziraphale pressed the flesh above where his finger disappeared with his thumb, adding to the overwhelming feeling.

Aziraphale drank in his beloved's face, at peace in a way he'd never seen it, and fiercely wanted to give him this as often as possible. He had seen but never understood how much the tight lines of pain were a part of Crowley's face until seeing them relax completely for the first time in six millennia. "Oh my love, you outshine your stars." He slid another finger around the delicate flesh that circled the one already buried inside him, moving both in a circle until this one too slipped in. Crowley shuddered below him at the praise as much as the feeling, both of which seemed beyond his ability to encompass: too vast for him to accept, too necessary to deny. Aziraphale moved his fingers in a corkscrewing pattern, in and out and around, feeling the ripple of flesh and muscle around him, drinking the sighs and moans from dazed lips.

Crowley's mind was a small boat on a vast ocean of pleasure, raised and lowered on wave after wave of pleasure, that crested ever higher without the usual drops in between. When a third finger found its way inside him he felt like he could hold infinities within the space they took up, and that he couldn't possibly hold any more. He held his eyes open now, unable to look away for a moment from the expression of love and want on the angel's face. Then the fingers curled inside him and the boat of his mind was struck by lighting. His back bowed and he shouted a formless sound as his whole body surged with pleasure, arms flying up, hands grasping at whatever they could find. The fingers curled again and his hips jerked to chase their motion. A third time and he began to beg, "Aziraphale please, please, oh love, I need, need," he wasn't entirely sure what he was begging for, but trusted he would be answered. The amazing fingers left him, but he had little time to even miss them before he could feel the fat tip of Aziraphale's cock pressing into him.

Just like the night before, the first moment of union surged through them both, eyes fixed on eyes, physical pleasure and the thrill of being as close as they could bring themselves combined in a single moment. Aziraphale slid in, slick and smooth and angled directly to the spot that would bring the most pleasure. Crowley lifted himself with his back and abdomen to meet every thrust, using muscles that most humans weren't able to control. Aziraphale held him, enfolding him as he filled him, saturating his world inside and out. He cried out with every thrust, light exploding in his open eyes, every cry a word of love, in languages long passed from the earth and in one never meant for it. He was a candle and Aziraphale was the flame and this time he gloried in the burning.

Aziraphale had had lovers before, and he had loved every one of them after a fashion. He had thought it was the only fashion he could love, until he realized what the sun of his love for this demon had been to those campfires. Now he understood why such specific love was all but forbidden within the host. This love would tear the firmament to pieces. It was too vast to be allowed beyond mortal compass, and yet to vast to be contained in that compass if there was a way beyond it. His love spilled through his corporation and burst beyond it, forcing his whole being to manifest to contain it. The Principality Aziraphale blazed in the world, anchored to his mortal form, yet vast beyond it[25]. He had dwelled in that vessel so long that his true self had conformed to it in appearance, but the diadem shone on his brow, and its light blazed around them[26]. He held the small mortal form of his beloved to himself, and his being was all love.

Aziraphale poured into Crowley from everywhere and love, love, love poured around him and over him and through his. His entire being was bathed in it and he was Seen, and Known, and Loved as he had not been since Before. It was a thing he had accepted he would never feel again. His body's release was lost in the ecstasy of his soul. He clung to the part of the angel he could hold and began to weep. Aziraphale tried to pull himself back into himself but Crowley shook his head violently, "Please, stay, stay, hold me, I can't," he needed to feel this as long as possible.

Aziraphale held him till the sky turned pink and his mortal form was pulling him back into himself. He collapsed, holding on to Crowley still, heart wrenching at the cry of loss the demon tried to stifle against his shoulder. They lay there as the sky grew light and the sun rose from the water. He carded his fingers through fire red locks and waited.

"I could feel it," Crowley finally whispered. "Your love, I felt it. It's the first time I've felt the touch of love directly since I Fell." He looked up with shining eyes. "It felt like Her. Like being in the Presence. Please. Please let me feel it again."

Aziraphale drew him close again. His mind was whirling, unable to even begin to process the implications of what this could mean. But none of that mattered as much as the pleading in his love's face. "Of course, dearest, as often as you like, you will never be without again."

By the time the tourists arrived in the afternoon, all traces of their nest was gone. It wasn't until much later that any noticed the changes to the rock of South Peak, much of it newly pale, save the outline of the traditional sacred heads of a man, a bull, and eagle, and a lion. By that time it was just added to the growing list of new miracles associated with the ancient sacred island.

 

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1 Roughly 550 lbs or 227 kg Aziraphale hasn’t caught up to new systems [ return to text ]
2 He’d let himself admit it in 1941, and was realizing just how badly he’d been behaving most of the second half of the nineteenth century. He’d cut quite a swath through humanity, trying to convince himself he wasn’t panicking over his feelings for the Serpent of Eden.
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3 Meaning Fallen, not specifically being with Aziraphale, though if the one hadn’t happened, the other likely wouldn’t either, which was not something he was willing to think about just now.
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4 Though NOT to go back to coyness, that was well and done for. He was not putting either of them through that again. To His Coy Mistress [ return to text ]
5 Aziraphale frequently enjoyed his ideas eventually but he had always taken so long to come round before that it wasn’t worth wasting on frivolous pleasures. Then again, maybe if he’d suggested more frivolous things, the angel wouldn’t have taken every suggestion as a trap.
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6 He knew he was, and he was having a number of distinctly demonic thoughts about the CEO of heaven’s hosts. And when he put his mind to it, he was actually VERY good at being a demon.
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7 Crowley's corset vest looks like this but with snakes rather than crosses.
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8 Crowley, never having heard of a limit he didn’t want to push, found that the real line was when car horns or public comment became involved, and wondered if it would be possible to disable all horns in a given radius.
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9 If he hadn’t gone to perdition long since Crowley would have gone now and back to avoid letting on that the child hadn’t been the only one to cry.
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10 The last two days felt like they had been more eventful that the first millennium after leaving the Garden.
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11 He was fully aware of the irony of this, coming from him above all other creatures, but he had already exposed enough of himself for one conversation.
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12 Slang from 1890, 1873, 1700, 1650 respectively
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13 And he definitely remembered to put something in his pants earlier, even if he got dissuaded from putting it to immediate use.
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14 That had been the idea behind those confessional things in the beginning, before it all got twisted up. He wasn’t sure a human priest would be equipped to handle this particular situation, though Crowley would certainly be amused to watch one try.
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15 Crowley was not exaggerating. While skinny jeans may look amazing on the 100 people, 3 demons, and one horseman with the body type intended for them, absolutely no one has ever looked good in the process of getting into or out of them.
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16 There were, in fact, more than a few alabaster statues of him in various world collections under a great variety of names. It vastly amused the lower downs to send demons out to get worshiped.
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17 He’d overheard some customers going on about the colors currently being considered a thing in the community.
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18 He was wrong, though Crowley’s height got the first look, it was the pair of them together that truly arrested the eye.
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19 The menu, for the curious
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20 Upside down flight is extremely tricky and while some other birds will do it for a fight, or a mating display, or to drop speed for a tricky landing, only ravens seem to have learned to do it purely for shits and giggles. This seems to be the case with quite a lot of raven behavior. The close connections between ravens, crows, and the chosen name of a certain demon are, surely, entirely coincidental.
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21 Or that was what was said of them anyway. Aziraphale was past beginning to wonder if what he knew had happened really was the whole of the story.
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22 Once loneliness finally drove him to try to find comfort where he could, he knew what was forbidden, and kept to unions that could not bear fruit, which was no hardship.
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23 17th centruy slang for outdoor sex, particularly for the first time engaging in penatriative sex.
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24 The phrase "out in front of God and everyone" might carry extra meaning when you are the kind of being that knows for sure She is out there, and also that Heaven and Hell are probably paying attention too, but then, at that point you also know that roofs and walls don't really stop anything either, so you may as well do as you like and if they are watching hope for them to discorporate from embarrassment.
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25 He was, in fact, completely wrong.
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26 Had anyone been there they might have seen the only shadows cast in that light, of more wings than the two spread wide, of the bull, the eagle, and the lion, but the only eyes were Crowley's and he could see only the light.
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