“You are so embarrassing,” Crowley said under his breath.
Aziraphale nibbled on the edge of his cone, and gave him a twinklingly innocent look as they strolled through the park. “What? I’m only holding hands with my inlet.”
“You’re skipping,” Crowley told him with utter horror. They avoided a woman with a pram, and Aziraphale stutter-stepped to stay on the path, so his new shoes wouldn't get wet in the long grass. Well. New to him. Old to the rest of the world. From the 50s, Crowley thought. Maybe the 1850s. On another planet, one where shoes that looked like apoplectic sheep would be popular. “You just did it again! You’re cavorting.”
“I am not,” Aziraphale retorted. “I’m gambolling, at most.”
“That was a cavort!”
“I’ll frolic if you don’t shut up,” Aziraphale said cheerfully. He pushed the end of his cone into his mouth and crunched loudly. Then they pushed into a grove of trees. Crowley’s brain whited out.
“What,” he managed after about fourteen months.
Anathema and Newt held up a big banner with words written on it. Words. Yeah, they sure were some words, with, um, letters and things. Probably in English? Words. Wow. Words.
Dog leapt about on his hind legs. Pepper waved a sparkler, and Adam made an elaborate bow.
“Oh, dear,” Aziraphale said anxiously, hopping back and forth between Crowley and the banner. “He’s forgotten how to read, hasn’t he. I knew something like this would happen sooner or later. One cannot spend all one’s time consisting of whiskey and cheekbones without it catching up with one! Or did we misspell something?”
He waved a hand in front of Crowley’s face, and then hopped back over to the banner.
“It’s fine,” Anathema said patiently. “Though I did warn you about the aesthetic impact of fluorescent yellow on pink. Possibly his retinas have exploded.”
“What,” Crowley said again.
“W – I – L – L – space – Y – O – U – space – M – A - R… it looks all right. It’s festive, Anathema!"
“It’s like a My Little Pony. Which, OK, might be relevant to the two of you, I don’t judge," Newt said, judgingly.
Adam looked up. “’Will you mar’ sounds like you’re inviting him to wreck something with you."
Crowley said, “What,” again, which was just as helpful. He was observing his own life. This was his life, and he was observing it. What was he supposed to do now? Did someone have to replace his batteries before he’d start working again? Maybe bash him on the side of the sofa, like you did with a TV remote.
Pepper’s sparkler had run out. She scrabbled in the box on the foldup table behind them, which looked decidedly rickety on the uneven grass. Adam reached over and lit the end of it for her.
She said, “Yippee,” then looked disgruntled. “I don’t think children should have to say ‘yippee’,” she said.
“No one’s making you.”
“I know, I know, Adam. But it’s the convention, isn’t it. Society. Sometimes what society says is utter bollocks, and sometimes what society says is exactly correct.”
She trotted over to Aziraphale, and prodded the back of his calf with a foot. Then she did it harder. He made a kind of verbal question mark and collapsed forward on one knee in front of Crowley.
“Oh,” he said, looking back over his shoulder at her. “Oh, you’re quite right.”
“Men,” said Pepper and Anathema together.
Aziraphale dug about in his pocket, and instead of the usual fuzzy mint he produced a... a ring. He held it up so Crowley could see it. It was black. Onyx. Glossy and dark. There was something engraved on it in the lightest of whites, and as Aziraphale turned it, it caught the light.
A snake, with wings.
“I have one for me, too,” Aziraphale said anxiously. “But if you don’t like it, I’ll get you something else. If you still want to, that is. Er. What I mean to say is, will you marry me?”
“What?” Crowley said helplessly, but then there was a small girl behind him with a very bony finger in the centre of his spine, and he collapsed forward. His lips found Aziraphale’s.
After a while, he pulled back, face creased in a disbelieving, delighted grin.
"I assume that's a yes?"
"Well, of course, it is, angel, I-" He clicked his fingers. "Why did you call me your inlet?"
"Is that wrong? Adam said something about it... Cove? Estuary?"
"...bae," Crowley groaned eventually.
* * *
Two months later, with the required number of migraines and squabbles over napkins.......
The wedding was beautiful.
Madame Tracy performed the ceremony, in her best Brillo pad orange wig, and also in Tadfield's little community centre.
Aziraphale gasped as he saw Crowley walk towards him down the aisle made by hastily moving all the battered seats into something resembling rows. Crowley wore a suit in the softest of white fabrics, and it was beautiful. And it wasn't his usual lope (Aziraphale wasn't quite sure how his usual walk could be simultaneously incredibly attractive and also looked like both hips had come out of their sockets). Crowley took small steps, hands in his pockets, the shyest of smiles on his adorable little face.
He himself wore black, with iridescent feathering on the back, that lit up in all the colours of the rainbow when the light hit it just right.
Afterwards there was music, and dancing, and cream soda for the children (and Shadwell), and champagne.
* * *
“You’ll always be special to me,” Aziraphale told Madame Tracy. His face was flushed, eyes a little glazed, and he beamed from ear to ear. “The only woman I’ve ever been inside.”
Crowley wheezed half a glass of champagne into his lungs.
* * *
Later that evening, in the hotel room.......
“We don’t have to do anything at all sexual,” Aziraphale said gently.
Crowley’s face was terror, and that really wasn’t something he wanted from his husband. Crowley looked up at him – well, looked through him, really, then he blinked and obviously made himself focus on Aziraphale’s face.
“I want to.”
“Are you sure? It’s quite all right if we don’t, ever. I like sex, but it’s not the most important part of being with you.”
"You do?" Blinking rapidly, Crowley scratched at his chin. Then he rubbed at the nape of his neck. "I, uh..."
"...who told you it is?"
"I thought it had to be a big deal," Crowley said, flopping down on the floral bedspread on the bed like all the air had gone out of his legs. He pushed his hands into his eyes, then flopped himself upright again, somehow. As though there was a string pulling him upright, from the top of his head.
Aziraphale pulled a chair closer, and smiled at him. He was so very dear.
"It can be very nice, but it's not the only way to be close. It's just part of a relationship, my darling Crowley. We already have so many intimacies. It's not necessary." He took in a delighted, shivery breath. "My darling husband."
Crowley was silent for a moment, so Aziraphale got up and began to make tea. It was a tiny hotel room, for all that it was the Super Duper Deluxe Fantastic Suite, named possibly by the new hotel manager who was perhaps seventeen (or seven, it was difficult to tell human ages at times). It was the best available in Tadfield. So Aziraphale trotted in and out of the bathroom with the kettle, only a few inches away from Crowley, and bumped against his knees once or twice as he moved to get the sugar or the milk.
It was tiny, and it was perfect.
He presented Crowley with a cup of tea and a jaffa cake (he'd brought those himself), and a flourish.
Crowley took them both, and looked up to meet his eyes cautiously. "You don't mind?"
"Not at all."
He sipped at the tea, and set it down on the saucer with the jaffa cake, on the bed next to his thigh. "The last guy I was with. He told me about how it all works. Silly, really... I'd had sex with a couple people before that, but he was the first who really wanted to hang around with me all the time. Well. 'part from you. Said if I didn't know how to do this or that, no one would, uh..."
"Oh, my dear."
Aziraphale moved the cup, and the saucer, and the jaffa cake, and he took Crowley in his arms.
They slept in the bed that night in their singlets and underwear, close enough to touch now and then. It was
heavenly - it was very nice. Very nice, indeed.
* * *
And approximately five months and three days after that.........
(Crowley counted. Aziraphale didn't.)
"If you're sure," Aziraphale said sweetly, from the doorway of their little cottage.
Crowley sat on the bed, looking up at him, and he smiled. "Yeah. I think I am."
"Let me know if you change your mind."
Aziraphale set about stripping down to his underwear, prattling on about this or that. He was talking about the new non-chemical mixture thingummy he'd seen 'on the Youtube' for fighting aphids, when Crowley thought to himself that he'd never seen someone so effortlessly ridiculous and so effortlessly handsome. He smiled again, reaching out to touch Aziraphale's deliciously bare shoulder.
Wasn't the first time he'd seen him near naked. Wasn't the first time he'd touched him. But every time there was a spark, and the effort was to make it not a literal spark. (One time last June, he'd set the carpet on fire.)
"That feels nice," Aziraphale said breathlessly, so Crowley trailed his fingers down further, over the plump roundness of a hip.
Aziraphale moved closer to him, and leaned down to kiss him, fingers in Crowley's hair.
Crowley let himself haze out. This was pleasant. He knew Aziraphale wouldn't hurt him. He knew he'd be safe; Aziraphale wouldn't be cruel, wouldn't try to 'teach' him technique by telling him how hopeless he was. So he could just respond, a little, here and there, and he could let Aziraphale take over.
...until Aziraphale stopped, cupping his face, and kissed his forehead.
"Are you all right?"
"Mm? Oh, fine, fine."
"You went a long way away. I don't want to do this if it's just about me. You need to be here, too, to laugh at me if I fart or to laugh with me when we both fall off the bed," Aziraphale told him earnestly.
Crowley tilted his head to the side, and he considered that. "You're going to fart?"
"I may," Aziraphale said in tones of the direst direness. "It's been known to happen."
Then he gave a little giggle.
Crowley couldn't help but snort at that. Ten or twelve or fifty-seven minutes later, they were both naked, kissing, hands running all over each other. He tried moving one hand in an experimental way (very much not something that Peter had shown him), and Aziraphale made a soft, unsteady, wanting noise, and suddenly the room was occupied by white wings -
Aziraphale chuckled, and the hoarseness underneath his voice made Crowley want to touch him some more. "Very good. We're right in the 'wing' of things now," he said.
Crowley rubbed his forehead. "I love you, so I'll let that one go."
Another fourteen or sixteen or thirty-three minutes later, he was on his back on the bed, his own wings spread, looking up at Aziraphale in all his beauty as he pushed into him.
"Too much?" Aziraphale asked anxiously, breathlessly.
Crowley relaxed his grip on his forearms just a little, and shook his head. It was a lot, but the way Aziraphale was filling him made something in his stomach tighten, and made his heart full to overflowing. His angel. His. "I'm fine," he said, and was startled to realise it was true. "Feels good."
"That's good," Aziraphale said, and he began to move very gently, very slowly. "Because if I'd broken you, I don't think I could return you. I can't find the receipt."
"Shut up," Crowley groaned, and then Aziraphale's lips were on his, and time went away completely.
Maybe he was made of whiskey and cheekbones, as certain rude angels were inclined to say. But now, he was made of whiskey and cheekbones and an angel's companionship, love, and horrible, horrible jokes. And it was perfect.