The thing is, Crowley is not a fool.
He’s played the part, sure. He’s done some downright stupid things in his day. It’s hardly worth mentioning how many truly ridiculous drunken escapades were painstakingly arranged entirely for the purpose of tricking Aziraphale out of some slump or another.
But just because it walks like a duck and talks like a duck doesn’t mean it’s not still a lovesick crow angling for a smile from an angel.
So— foolish is as foolish does, or something like that, but truly, Crowley knows better.
When his angel stretches out a hand, cupid’s bow mouth curved into a familiar smile, Crowley knows better.
When he’s led to his own bedroom, pushed down amidst the silk sheets and hastily miracled pillows and a sinful duvet, when Aziraphale leans over him and the whole world seems to hang right there in his eyes, Crowley knows that this is not his to keep.
It’s not for him to have this.
“Crowley,” Aziraphale murmurs, muffled against the hollow of his throat. He tastes like the wine. “My Crowley. You’re lovely, sweetheart, oh, you’re perfect.”
Crowley knows better, but it still melts through the rough armor of his hollowed-out heart like something molten, like the plasma in stars that burns hotter than fire, as easy as breathing.
Aziraphale’s hands are past warm; they’re hot, searing against Crowley’s skin as if with divine light, as if there’s a chance he might be scorched by this, by this act of love with a Holy One, by this proximity of his soulrot to something so pure.
Let it burn, he thinks, head thrown back, let me burn. Whatever it takes, whatever it costs, only let me—
A kiss, the scrape of teeth, and Crowley cries out in a voice he wouldn’t recognize as his own.
“Oh,” Aziraphale gasps like it was punched out of him. His hands tighten on Crowley’s hips, hold him impossibly closer, as though there’s any chance Crowley might decide to fling himself away. “My darling, my only.”
Don’t, Crowley wants to beg of him. Take whatever you want, give me only what you can spare, but don’t say things like that. I’ll remember them, I’ll want them again, I’ll want to keep you.
As if hearing his silent pleas and disregarding them altogether, Aziraphale keeps on.
“I dreamed of this,” he whispers, fragile and aching, in a voice as soft as spun sugar and every bit as sweet. “I dreamed of you.”
“Angel, pleasse— “
“‘How far away the stars seem,’” Aziraphale recites with reverence, drawing lips from Crowley’s mouth to his forehead, his temple, the lid of his eye. “‘And how far is our first kiss— and, ah— how old my heart.’”
Poetry, of course. Of bloody course.
He reaches into this secret core of Crowley effortlessly, as easily as he might reach into a box of his favorite chocolates; sure of where to put his hands, his mouth, for all that this is the very first time. Shining a light on all those shadowed corners. Knowing him, down to the atoms and the seams and the soul, knowing him, knowing him.
“Look at me,” the angel says, freeing a hand to cup Crowley’s face. “Let me see.”
He kisses away the tears he finds, never complaining about the salt where he only deserves sweetness, and Crowley doesn’t know how to be handled so carefully, doesn’t know how Aziraphale expects him to be able to lie here beneath him and take him inside and look him in the eye—
“Precious boy,” Aziraphale murmurs, “beautiful boy, look at me.”
Trembling and unmade, soft underbelly exposed to a creature with teeth, Crowley peels his eyes open. Focuses first on the corner of Aziraphale’s face, where it’s safe, the roundness that hides an angular soldier’s cheekbone lost to the pages of history with the human invention of dessert. Aziraphale waits, unmoving, until Crowley can convince his beastly eyes to move those last fatal few inches, looking into the wide blue-gray-gold-colorless windows of a holy soul.
He’s rewarded immediately with a kiss, with a push, and he’s lost for it, utterly, fallen too far to ever hope to fly again, clutching at the sweat-slick planes of Aziraphale’s back with desperate, greedy hands.
Let me burn, he thinks, delirious with want, let me burn, let me burn, only let me keep you.
“There you are,” Aziraphale says somewhere above him. “My love, there you are.”
It doesn’t last forever, as things rarely do, but Aziraphale is still here even when they’re finished. Miracles everything clean and dry, draws Crowley in against his chest, and presses a kiss to his forehead that lingers there.
Crowley, for his part, clings like the coils of a snake.
“Don’t go,” he blurts.
Be here with me, is his impossible wish. Stay here. Don’t ever go away. You’ve ruined me for anything else, angel.
“Of course,” comes the reply, murmured against his hairline, as Aziraphale pulls the duvet up over them both. “Will you be able to sleep?”
Kind of him not to mention the nightmares by name. Truth be told, they’re the furthest thing from Crowley’s waking mind at the moment, but his subconscious is a right bastard most of the time. He wonders what new twist on an old classic tonight will bring— wonders what new ways he’ll dream of losing his angel, now that he’s had him like this.
Crowley curls closer, and the arm around his bare waist tightens.
“Then just in case,” Aziraphale says affectionately. “You’ll wake up having dreamed about whatever you like best.”
The blessing touches him like cool water, when rightly it should have burned. Crowley relaxes despite himself, heart settling, tired body soothed.
He knows better— truly, he does— but there’s a kernel of hope in the pit of his chest anyway. A seed, splitting to throw down fragile roots, sprouting uncertainly in this starved earth it’s found itself in.
Maybe, he finds himself thinking, a yearning that has followed him for six thousand years. He can trace it all the way back. Not quite to Eden, but certainly to the floodwaters, all those centuries ago. An anxious angel helped a demon smuggle children into the ark, fretting over what was the right thing and what was the Right Thing even as he miracled fresh bread and warm milk and honey to make things sweet while the rest of the world became a dark and frightening place, and Crowley’s heart took a dazed step toward him.
“‘My chest is your garden,’” Crowley mumbles before he can think better of it, half-asleep already.
And he’s almost certainly dreaming now, because then his angel says, “You mean the world to me, you know,” and Crowley thinks it familiar.
He’s had this one before.
When Crowley wakes up in the morning, he wakes up alone.